Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What does a trillion dollars look like?

I am not sure where I picked this up. This is a really good way to visualize What does a Trillion Dollars Look Like. It also covers smaller denominations. Can a million dollars really fit into a paper bag? I have to say, I am more tempted than ever to start collecting small 1/2 inch stacks of $100 bills.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Apple Installation Program

How many people have installed software on their Mac only to be immediately prompted by a dialog saying that the package contains software to determine if the program will run on that system? Why do we have to agree to this? What is it actually doing? Seriously, when installation programs do not contain software to determine if it can run on my system I get upset. Those should have the dialog boxes. Does anybody know the reason?


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Amazon Kindle Feedback to Amazon


If your read this blog, you know that I am a big fan of your products. I am an early adopter of the Kindle and an earlier adopter of the Kindle 2. I have purchased them for some family members. I have a young blog, but looking at my traffic patterns, it looks like my article on how to zoom in on the Kindle is creating a large percentage of my traffic.

If there is a product manager out there from Amazon reading this, please improve the Zoom functionality and make it easier to find.

To those of you that are here reading about Amazon Kindle Zoom, thank you for stopping by. What else would you like to know about? Any thing else I can help with?


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Playing with Cards and Wii Remotes

Here is another example of engaging your audience. Topps has added a 3D effect to their cards. No, this is not a cheesy effect where you tilt the card from side to side to show or hide the player's smile. They came up with an idea that I have actually been toying around with. You hold their product (in this case a baseball card) up in front of your web camera. In the video on screen, you can see a wonderful 3D representation of the player above the card. You can rotate it anyway you want and you can even play simple games with it. I recommend watching the video to really get it. It kinds of reminds me of the little projection that R2D2 was spitting out in Star Wars.

Speaking of cool projections, there was as TED talk recently that I thought was very innovative. Johnny Lee created some very impressive tech out of Wii remotes and some software. He open sourced the software. This is quite an innovative use for the infrared camera on the end of the controller. I highly recommend making it to the end. Also, there is a high definition version online as well.


How to Engage Your Audience

I have been thinking about how to have fun with your audience. I believe that if you have a tasteful level of playfulness in your product or service, people will not only have a more fun and pleasurable experience using it, they will tell others. You really want people to be saying, "Hey, I noticed this cool thing the other day...". Since I have been on this kick, wondering why people have not been doing this effectively, I have been more attuned to what is around me. I have noticed a few products that have stood out for their excellence. While there are a ton of products that I love, respect, and use constantly, a few of them are detailed here:

Amazon Kindle, Amazon Kindle 2, Amazon Kindle Reader on iPhone, and Whisper Sync

I have been talking about the Kindle for quite some time. I love gadgets. I could not resist running out and buying one with overnight delivery on the first day. :) I have had mine for about 15 days now. I love it. One of the greatest joys was the software update the Amazon pushed out to all Kindles right before they shipped. It added many really handy menu items throughout the product. For instance, you can now delete a book while you are reading the book. You no longer have to go back to home, then the content manager, then find your book, then select your book, then open the menu and pick delete. It is now: open the menu, pick delete. All of your notes, bookmarks, and the book (if purchased) are already backed up at Amazon anyways. In fact, during the upgrade, all of the books started out in the cloud. The Kindle2 was automatically configured with my account information. I just opened archives, picked the book I was reading and selected download, and resumed reading. This is the kind of experience that I was looking for from Amazon. They have gone much further. With their recent release of the iPhone application, I can now read a book on the kindle, leave it at home, stop somewhere and open my iPhone Kindle reader application. It asks me if I would like to sync to the last page read. I say yes and continue reading. The format has high enough resolution that I do not mind it at all. In fact, I would say that I read about half of Buyology on the iPhone. That was quite a surprise to me. When you go back to the Kindle, you can tell it to sync to the last page read and it will update. If you have a delay between switching devices, it will likely already have the new location stored and will just prompt you with a message like: Last page read on Jacob's iPhone was 186. Would you like to sync to this location? Love it. Thank you Amazon. There are still a few small kinks to work out, but even though I am in for ~$1000 so far, I am a happy customer (2 partial gift kindles, 2 kindles).

Oral-B toothbrush

I know, you are thinking, "Great, now he is going to talk about toothbrushes?" Don't worry. I promise it will not be that bad. I upgraded to the most recent version of the Oral-B Toothbrush. The little flapping things that clean between your teeth really worked hard to rip my gums off. I have switched back to the old style head on the new handles. That feature was definitely a FAIL. Sorry Oral-B. There are a few features that I liked. First, I liked the fact that the charger does not have any exposed wires or power. It uses inductive coupling to charge. Nice and safe. They have a wireless remote control. Yes, I know, it seems like tech for the sake of tech. So I powered this thing up (and yes, the toothbrush has and airplane mode. snicker) and mostly ignored it. About a week ago, I was busy thinking about how to be playful with customers, had just finished brushing, looked over, and noticed the display contained a large happy face. I was bowled over. Functional, clean teeth, and a smile. Points to Oral-B

Panasonic Packaging

A few months ago, I purchased a new phone system. I have been using Panasonic cordless phones for a while now. Unfortunately, my really snazzy high speed wi-fi network at home was not so snazzy during phone calls. It was obviously time to upgrade my phones to an even higher speed. :) I purchased the new Panasonic cordless phone system and kept it on my desk for a while. I was lamenting the process of unwrapping, cutting tape, twisting wire, slicing plastic, ... that is entailed in getting new electronics open. I was completely shocked. I pulled hard on the case and it just popped open. All of the components were recyclable and trivial to separate. They were held in by folds, placement, and friction. It was like the marriage of product wrapping and origami. I had quickly pulled everything out, separated all of the recycling, and was ready to install my new phones. Thank you for the innovative packaging Panasonic.

Apple iPhone

Apple has once again pleasantly surprised me with their products and customer service. I was in a hurry a few weeks ago and managed to bump my iPhone's hip holster. My iPhone flew out, pulverized the corner of the crystal and managed to slide about 20 ft across the parking lot. Needless to say, the iPhone that had not had a scratch to date, was now not quite so pristine. I called the local Apple store and made an appointment to see what the damage was. About an hour later, I went in and showed them the phone. There was a small part that had broken previously but I managed to bend it back into place so it was not a real inconvenience. When I pointed out the break to the Apple Genius he immediately replaced it with a new phone and wiped the old one. Thank you Apple. I love a company that stands behind their products.

I have a new book coming out soon. It has nothing to do with anything I blog about, but is instead written with a bunch of colleagues and discusses how to lead engineering in the Silicon Valley and how to work with people that do. Keep your eyes peeled for it.


Buyology, Purchasing Habits of Humans

I just finished an interesting book: Buyology.

Good reading. It dissects the effect that commercials and kinds of advertising has on us. For American Idol, for instance, three companies each spend ~24 million a year to be the sponsors. Coke has their color in the "green" room and hallway, curved chairs, the judges drinking Coke during the show, and the occasional comment about the product, not to mention the ads. Cingular/ATT support the only phones that you can vote from and are constantly referenced for voting and have ad. Ford, pays the same amount and only has ads. Cingular/ATT does good. Coke does phenomenally. They do so well, that they crush the others. Ford is paying to be forgotten in the glory that is Coke advertising. Ouch. ~$24 million to be so completely overshadowed that people cannot even recall you as a sponsor if they are asked.

I have found myself reading more and more about the marketing space. I am building quite a passion for how to turn your customers and/or prospects and/or users into evangalists. What makes someone stick with your product or service? What does it take to get them to leave? Why are they leaving? How much is it worth to keep them? I have also been spending a lot of time thinking about the best ways to monitor, track, filter, and process the inbound lead flow that many companies are understaffed to handle. It is the critical lifeblood of many organizations but I feel, it is woefully misunderstood and undervalued.