August 31, 2007
A different threat to Google
I recently posted about the dangers of Google's lack of focus. A different comes from the growing mistrust of a company with all your data (personal or commercial). The Economist's writeup on privacy and copyright concerns creating a hostile climate to the company that doesn't want to be evil. (Also, funny that the Economist picks up the arrogance theme.)
August 29, 2007
Pascale is developing little techniques, though we are presently in between the big milestones of "sitting" and "walking" (or "crawling").
- She can sit up from a lying down position. She has mastered it now. Puts legs to the side, pushes herself up with her arms, and sits. Then lie down again, and then sit up again. It's how she moves around since that transaction causes her to slide over.
- She has been working hard at pulling herself from a sitting position into a crawling position. Using her hands on the floor in front of her, it's tough to pull over into a knees-on-the-ground stance. But she can do it as of last week, though only occasionally.
- Once there, she can't crawl. She just sort of lays there.
- She does another arm thing -- a big two handed smack-the-table gesture. I don't know where that will lead though.
- She has occasionally gotten from a lying/sitting position all the way to standing up (as in some photos from a few weeks back) but she hasn't repeated this at all yet. I guess she got lucky. I'm watching her try that right now. It is
- As far a sleep, she is good at night. She sleeps about 8:30pm to 5am or so.
August 28, 2007
The "death" of Google
Paul Graham has this "controversial" essay on the death of Microsoft (i.e., they are no longer relevant). I think it's great, and correct. MSFT is big, profitable, well known, but no longer doing anything that really matters to anybody. Office 2007, so what? MSN v53, same. Etc.
Engadget recently confirmed what I have been saying about the Google mobile plans for quite some time. The fact that they hired the Danger guy just means they are working on a mobile phone OS geared for the ODMers of Asia, not that they they are working on an Apple-style gPhone.
The fact that people would believe that Google was working on something so far afield from their search business as an actual piece of mobile hardware (!!!!) says a lot though. And indeed, they are making an actual piece of software for mobile phones. And they are apparently angling for an actual piece of airwaves. And seem to have their fingers in a million things lately: all kinds of print and other media ad networks, search for all kind of specialty data sources like printed scholarly books, maps of all kinds of localities including Mars and stars, web-based email, finance info, music info, real estate listings, user generated video, social networks, a shopping finder, office applications like hosted email, word editing and spreadsheets, and on and on. I'm not even thinking of some of the wackier stuff -- like free municipal wifi, the open source collaboration codebase, the "ride finder". Thousands of people are working on this stuff, while 98% of profit is still from the "better search" + "better ad marketplace" duo that powers the whole thing.
Google looks, to me, like Microsoft in 1995 or Dell in 1998 or IBM in the 1980s or Yahoo in 1999 or a host of other invincible companies at the tops of their games, teetering at the summit of their category. Having dominated a sphere, they look around and say, what now? There's huge change and growth. We need to go in all those directions -- because of portfolio strategy, because of innovation from the bottom up, because of convergence across categories. If we just sit still and focus on one or two big things, we will have all our eggs in one basket, we will bet wrong, and adjacent change will swamp us.
But in retrospect on all these cases, the determined bets on the adjacent and remote directions typically failed. Microsoft made zero progress (i.e., $$) on mobile phones, set top boxes, cars, optical character recognition, image editors, or any of the other irrelevant things they pursued. It's still desktop OS, desktop office software, and to a much lesser extent server OS and software.
And by the way, Microsoft had the monster $20 B war chest, the most geniuses, the most radical culture, the world-beating ambitions, the youngest founder. Similar superlatives can be found for all the once-great champions -- Ford, Coca Cola, SAP, Motorola, you name it.
Well, here is a bold prediction. In the hazy distant future of 2012, Google's market capitalization will be less than or equal to it's market capitalization today.
August 27, 2007
Here is a handy bookmarklet that Chetan made. When you on a page and you click it, it takes the URL, runs it through a URL shortener, and then opens an email with that link in it.
Just right-click the below link and make it into a new bookmark.
August 26, 2007
Tom and Alex get married
Tom and Alex got married this weekend. The NYT announcement.
August 23, 2007
Sidebar: Amazon store
Link to my super-awesome store: The best Smiths albums
August 21, 2007
Get the email subscription to this blog
Goodbye, loser used car dealer
Our car lot is clear. The used car dealer is gone. Victory!
August 20, 2007
Prepaid or postpaid?
You probably have a contract plan for your cell phone of some kind. I have long been part of prepaid ventures, but I myself rarely use prepaid. I use a lot of minutes after all!
I recently had to do an analysis, since I dropped my Verizon phone in the water.
8/13/2007 VZWRLSS-IVRVN 1-800-922-0 -257.62
7/14/2007 VZW APO 800-922-020 -209.55
6/14/2007 VZW APO 800-922-020 -211.32
5/14/2007 VZW APO 800-922-020 -463.18
3/23/2007 VZWRLSS-MYACCTVN FOLSOM -210
1/26/2007 VERIZON WIRELESS BRANCHBURG -512.91
Those are all my payments to VZW since January covering the 8 months from December through July 31 plus a termination fee for the last mont (b/c those guys are jerks).
It works out to about 233 per month for one phone with about 3000 minutes a month (in the plan) and data so I could do email and browse the web on my Treo. Okay.
So for the last 1 month I have had two T-Mobile prepaid accounts. No plans. The total spend below is for the whole year including the payment in January and in May to "keep the accounts current" (basically I had an extra phone line that I would play around with on the Sidekick or other T-Mobile devices...but not really for minutes).
The total is only $253 for the whole year including this last month where I had two T-Mobile phones -- one for voice and one for a heavily-used Sidekick. Two phones, unlimited data, two devices and heavy minutes of usage. Excluding that $131 from Jan and May, my T-Mobile service was actually $100 cheaper than having Verizon! And it's prepaid. And I use it a lot.
7/24/2007 VESTA *T-MOBILE VESTPORTLAND -54.19
6/15/2007 T-MOBILE.COM PAYMENT800-937-899 -69.35
5/13/2007 T MOBILE NO 8143 T MQUEENS -21.66
1/4/2007 VESTA *T-MOBILE 888-278-339 -108.38
Many people are clearly stuck on contracts who shouldn't be!
Pascale at 7 months
Junior is now 7 whole months old!
She just did her third video conference to Australia today, which is one more than I've ever done.
Here latest tricks are
- getting from lying down into a sitting position. She wakes herself up at night and certainly surprises us. She's been doing this for about a week.
- she's made some efforts to crawl. Very slow forward motion, some reverse. Looks promising.
- turning effortless from back to front, front to back. She is so delighted by this that she actually occupied herself for nearly half an hour (and spared waking sleeping me) the other morning.
- she pulls herself up from a lying down position to standing!
Here she is the first time we caught her doing it. The crazed gleefulness on her face suggest she knows what she's doing. She seems to be biting the rail of her crib. Perhaps to taunt it.
Time Warner RoadRunner sucks
Time Warner and in particular RoadRunner internet service suck. For all the usual reasons, so I will not bother elaborating here. I'm just hoping this silent rage against the unmovable monopolist does more than just cursing into their IVR music.
Moz is back. 5 dates in NY. 10 dates in LA. Does it make up for blowing my big Madison Square Garden show? Not quite, but you cannot mend a broken heart can you.
August 17, 2007
I have really enjoyed Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, and The Life Aquatic -- though not Bottle Rocket for some various reasons. They are great movies -- richly detailed alternative universes based roughly on all the neatest stuff you know about from this universe. (I'm looking forward to the new one, Darjeeling Limited). I was interested to notice, as I was re-watching Rushmore recently that this scene was based on this photograph by Latrigue.
I read a great book yesterday called Focus . You may have heard what it's about since Ries (and Ries & Trout) have written lots of marketing books that you have probably seen (like Positioning, which I think I read in the 7th grade!). The bottom line is your strategy should be focused, because that's how to win. Don't cover bases, don't spread across the segments, don't create features and variants, and so on. Create a product with a brand and a strategy that addresses a need for a certain group of people. And don't clutter it.
The very interesting insight that he takes as a premise has had me noodling for a counterexample. His point is "convergence never happens, the opposite does". The aspirin market divides and turns into the aspirin and acetaminophen and then again. Cars becomes sports cars and sedans and minivans etc. Phones become long distance and local and mobile and broadband.
I can't think of a product introduction or new category that actually collapsed two distinct ones -- despite how often heralded the PC + TV or phone + cable or mobile phone + music player or any other combination happens to be.
Think about the things that mobile phones do. Consider that perhaps the interesting features they are adding are in fact not "the phone absorbing some other piece of functionality" but rather the emergence of specialized types of devices that will one day be very different from phones!
August 14, 2007
Man, they make you believe the craziest things about weddings. I went to get measured for my 'perfect' tuxedo fit today. The lady basically asked me what shirt and suit sizes I wore, measured around my derriere and sent me on my way. And the tux rental costs more than the new one I bought at Syms two years ago.Somewhere back in the origins of this industry, madness set in. I think it started when people embraced the semiotic origin of the whole institution as middle class living made its practical values irrelevant.
August 13, 2007
On the verge of standing
She's on the verge of standing. And we took her to the beach. Pictures.
One thing I'm worried about -- when can't just lay her down and expect her to go to sleep as her only option, what will we do? She'll be able to pull herself up, stand, call out, and variously entertain herself away from sleeping. I suppose we'll have to actually put her through some bedtime somnolence routine.
Daily link posting - annoying!
I have turned off the del.icio.us daily link posting. Man it was too frequent. I don't post actual content to the blog every day so the daily links were overwhelming my blog, and by the way I don't even bookmark very much every day so a post with 1-2 links is lame.
So, del.icio.us, please add the following features to your link posting
- weekly, monthly
- daily "if there are X new links to post"
- ad hoc post all new
links for 2007-08-14
Start your startup in a startup coffee shop
I think this is a great idea. Great way to start a company.
August 11, 2007
links for 2007-08-12
Sidebar: My mugshot on the web
I have been thinking there needs to be an uber-rss aggregator widget that knows everything you are doing and shares it back. They made it.
August 10, 2007
links for 2007-08-11
August 9, 2007
links for 2007-08-10
Return of the FreePC. Kind of.
August 8, 2007
links for 2007-08-09
August 7, 2007
links for 2007-08-08
150 per day
August 6, 2007
links for 2007-08-07
August 5, 2007
links for 2007-08-06
August 4, 2007
Some Kind of Monster
I was never really into Metallica -- though I remember my junior high school friend Kevin had the coolest t-shirts from Master of Puppets, And Justifce for All, and so on.
Well, I watched the doc Some Kind of Monster. Did you know that the lead guitarist who founded Metallica with them -- Dave Mustaine -- got kicked out of the band in 1983...and founded Megadeth?! Man. Oh yeah, and the classic heavy stuff -- like the early 1990s festival shows -- I can appreciate it now.
Though I have to say that watching these guys go through their Tony Soprano-like "rockers on therapy" session totally destroys their power. They are so pathetic.
links for 2007-08-05
Pascale's new features
Junior is nearing the 7 month mark and we are adding training for her new challenges.
- We are feeding her food. We fed her a jar of sweet potato baby food this week! She ate it with relish. We probably could have started earlier. No effect we noticed on milk consumption though. Shouldn't food take the place of milk? We'll see
- She is lunging. She sits and then falls energetically forward. That's some leg motion. And she even grabbed the side of her crib and got herself to a dangerous standing position. We had to lower the bed after that one. But no crawling on the horizon. Looks like she's interested in straight-legged action.
- She weights about 19 lbs and is about 71 cm long (28 inches). That's the 90th percentile (meaning 90% of babies at 6 months are smaller) in weight but the 100th percentile in height. She started at the 100th percentile on both. She's getting longer and leaner!
- No hand signals yet. We are trying to get her to do things like wave, or sign "milk" or "more" or whatever. No luck. Though she does instantly recognize her Chinese CD when it comes on. Serge is a good teacher I guess.
- She sleeps about 12 hours at night (8ish to 8ish with a 6am wakeup) and then about 2-3 hours in snatches during the day. I wonder if this is enough -- we haven't checked. She seems to be growing fine though.
- She plays with great interest now, whereas she used to look at toys with barely much grabby, mouthy intent. If you sit her in her playpen in the morning, she'll handle her little softcloth books and stuffed toys for 20-30 minutes happily. But repetition through the day reduces her interest -- so it's less effective by evening. She has four playzones -- the crib itself, the playpen, the floor mat with the arched superstructure, and wherever the little chair gets set up for her (e.g., outside) to observe her surrounds. Then there are walks in the stroller and various tossing and playing in her parents arms. Seems to suffice for now but I see that we'll soon need more engaging amusements.
(try the slideshow -- be sure to adjust the size of the picture to your screen)
August 3, 2007
links for 2007-08-04
Soonr office sync s/w has only 250Kish downloads in 1-2 years
Amazon's payments platform, laid bare for you to integrate into your applications or businesses! Amazing. It's going to change the industry.
Chris Ireland. Principal at this ethnography firm
Rachel Strickland. What do people carry in their bags? And what does it say about them?
Alex Lima's invention/import
"Green" searching actually means using a black background
Women check email more often and spend more total time doing email than men
It was Thanksgiving of 2000 when I first went to Japan and saw cans of Water Salad in vending machines everywhere. Those crazy Japanese!Only now I realize that the ideas motivating that stuff were behind the grand US drinks deal of 2007 -- VitaminWater. The healthiness of bottled water, but healthier (and tastier!)
August 2, 2007
links for 2007-08-03
Nobody downloads mobile apps!
Blackberry doofuses can't keep their service up. Vulnerability?
Forbes piece on spectrum rules
Forbes on the wireless rules including a great quote at the bottom from St. Augustine.
Pwning customer care
I just surprised myself in what I was able to pressure out of a bunch of CSRs re: my T-Mobile phone account. Here are key principles:
- Start with a real issue. My phone was unusable for 7 days b/c of "system" problems they were having when they tried to port my number in.
- Add on a "fairness" or "you intentionally did something evil" issue. Not good enough that "their network or systems suck". For me, they misled me into thinking it was a brief and temporary issue ("system is updating") when it was clearly deeper and I had no phone for a week. So I got self-righteous about this with rep #1.
- Escalate, but not by saying "let me talk to your supervisor". I said "I need to talk to someone who can address this issue for real because you are not." First they will go check with a supervisor and come back with something.
- Just say "this problem is not resolved". They will hope that first lob and a curt "what else can I help you with" will end it. Don't let it. Just say it's not over and you need someone to help fix this. That will get you an actual supervisor. Now you are talking to someone who can do something.
- There are higher orders. Even that supervisor will plead "that is the best I can do". Then just say "I am going to insist that you put me in touch with someone who can".
- Be an expert. I actually am an expert on wireless and was able to quote all kind of things related to the FCC, the Crossroads systems, CSRs, etc. Maybe you can fake this if your problem is airline related or something. Or maybe you should just assert "I worked in this industry for years and I know the truth!".
- The knockout: rope a dope. By talking and talking to several CSRs management layers who were getting emotionally charged, they themselves slipped up. First, one said "it can take 72 hours to port a number". I called bullshit on that. The high manager actually tried "it can take up to 7 days". I went nuts on that one -- I said she was lying, her colleague had made up something different, their activation department says "up to 24 hours" explicitly and I threw some FCC/Crossroads/law stuff at her too. Then she gave me my $25 credit.
Drink tap water
It has become topical to advocate drinking tap water all of a sudden -- in a flurry of articles from Fast Company to various blogs to this New York Times editorial:
Here are the hard, dry facts: Yes, drinking water is a good thing, far better than buying soft drinks, or liquid candy, as nutritionists like to call it. And almost all municipal water in America is so good that nobody needs to import a single bottle from Italy or France or the Fiji Islands. Meanwhile, if you choose to get your recommended eight glasses a day from bottled water, you could spend up to $1,400 annually. The same amount of tap water would cost about 49 cents.
Next, there’s the environment. Water bottles, like other containers, are made from natural gas and petroleum. The Earth Policy Institute in Washington has estimated that it takes about 1.5 million barrels of oil to make the water bottles Americans use each year. That could fuel 100,000 cars a year instead. And, only about 23 percent of those bottles are recycled, in part because water bottles are often not included in local redemption plans that accept beer and soda cans. Add in the substantial amount of fuel used in transporting water, which is extremely heavy, and the impact on the environment is anything but refreshing.
August 1, 2007
links for 2007-08-02
Overheard on the subway re: Spectrum policy
Did you hear about that FCC stuff about the airwaves?Yeah. It's like you bring your own phone or whatever right.Verizon... ...it's just obscene....