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Thursday, January 25, 2007

iPod + iTunes + iPhone = iCuffs

They may be good at design, but Apple could certainly use a lesson in customer service: Want an iPhone? Beware the iHandcuffs - New York Times. They might be well served to take a page from the Southwest Airlines book of customer service before someone comes along who can compete on the design level and has the customer care mentality to boot. Of course, lucky for apple, in some, if not most, pockets of society appearances rule and in that corner of the marketplace they are the champ. Hey all you anti-Microsoft folks who are patrons at the Church of the Mac (and I'm not putting a vote in for Microsoft here, but it's gotta be said), Apple ain't exactly gettin' it right either. Their commercials are pretty funny though.

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

File Replication

I'm in the market for file replication software. We will have two remote customers who will be scanning in documents. Each document scan creates database records of the document types and the file locations. I need software that gives me the ability to replicate those images and databases in real-time across a WAN. I need it to be secure and dependable, or stable. Does anyone have any suggestions from experience?

While I'm here, I'm also in the market for an experienced PHP developer who is able to read classic ASP and has done, hopefully, extensive work with SQL Server. The position is with a company in the health insurance industry in the Detroit metro area. If you are interested, please email a current version of your resume to turbo.brown (at) gmail (dot) com. All qualified candidates will be considered.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Apple Design

There's an article in BusinessWeek called Who Is Jonathan Ive? about Apple's Senior VP for Industrial Design and their design process.In my opinion there are some very valuable nuggets in the article.

For starters, Apple keeps their focus on a few products and intends to provide excellence, instead of having a wide array of average offerings.

Second, they put value in differentation and design where their competitors cut costs, but the result is some fiercly loyal customers. According to the article, "Apple spends as much as $65 per PC casing, vs. an industry average of maybe $20." That means that fans of their design are going to keep coming back, whereas competitors are forced to find ways to cut costs and improve performance to keep customers. I would guess that among computer manufacturers brand loyalty is significantly higher with Apple because of their intense focus on the quality of their products' designs.

And lastly, they are willing to pay for talent. The article claims that the average salary for folks in their industrial design department is $200,000. Their department is significantly smaller than the industry averages among their competitors (also related to the diversity of product offerings), but their results speak for themselves. When you buy the talent you experience the benefit.

A lot can be taken away from this article for companies in any industry. There's some other excellent points on the content of the article over at the 37Signals blog which is where I came across the article.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Flock Memory Leak

I'm bloggin with Flock about a memory leak in Flock. My computer slowed to a crawl for no apparent reason...all I had open were browser windows. I though maybe it was the java applet that I was running in IE (why IE? because of course it doesn't work in Flock). But when I pulled up task manager I was shocked to see that Flock was sucking down more than 500 MB of memory. Ridiculous! Hey Will Pate, Will Tschumy or Daryl L. L. Houston, I love Flock, we need a fix!

(Tip to novice bloggers: Using people's names in your blog posts often helps draw their attention to them.)

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias is something that I first heard about at The Dilbert Blog of all places. Basically the idea is that when you believe something to be true your brain shuts down from hearing logical arguments against it and you stick to your beliefs even if the evidence presented clearly proves that they are illogical.

Scott Adams, the cartoonist behind Dilbert, explained it in a great, and funny, way, and apparently was doing an experiment on his blog related to confirmation bias recently.

There's also additional information on confirmation bias at wikipedia.

The areas of cognitive science have become increasingly interesting to me and may become an area of future professional study, ideally at an accredited university in the local area whose colors are Maize and Blue.

PLEASE NOTE: Many viewpoints expressed by Scott Adams are contrary to viewpoints that I hold. The reference is intended for the specific topic and content mentioned and not an endorsement of his viewpoints.

That being said I find his writing to be thought provoking, well done and often extremely entertaining.

meebo me

Meebo is an online chat client that combines the likes of AIM, Yahoo! Messenger, MSN and other instant messaging clients in one site. It's really quite convenient.

Well, meebo has come out with a chat tool that you can embed in your blog. You may have noticed it on the right hand side there. I haven't had a chance to play with it much, and I may not use if very much, but it seems like a great idea and is very cool. Anyone on your blog can look at your meebo me widget and see if you are logged in to meebo. If you are, they can chat with you then and there. Pretty cool stuff from the folks at meebo. They even let you pick the size and the widget name.

You can read more about it, and the other cool things they are doing, at the meeblog.

(Hat tip to Mark Jen.)

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Google Adds Saved Locations

Google has added the ability to save locations in Google Maps. This is one of the features that many have suggested holds Google Maps back from being the top choice for the average user when it comes to mapping websites. As far as I'm concerned Google Maps is definitely the best around, and this only solidifies that for them. You can read more at the Official Google Blog: Saved locations on Google Maps

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Friday, July 14, 2006

Providing Valuable Content

In a post yesterday one of the things I talked about was joining the conversation and doing so with valuable content. You draw people to your blog by providing value to them for nothing. That value may get paid back to you in the form of donations or new customers.

I ran across a great example of this today. AccuQuote, an insurance company from what I gather from their site, started a blog. Their blog provides specific information on the insurance industry. They are using their expertise to provide content that provides value to a large marketplace. They can then turn some of the viewers of that content into customers.

Don't just take my word for it. Jason Calacanis' company Weblogs, Inc (purchased of course by AOL), probably the best case of turning blogging into a profitable business, is the company that designed AccuQuote's blog.

I only have a couple problems with the AccuQuote blog:

1. It's not clear how to get to their homepage. Right now it's a link at the bottom right of every post title "Read". I'm not sure how that makes any sense. They should make it very easy to get to their business site, it'd probably help people make the transition from reader to customer.

2. I hate "the jump". Blogs should always display an entire post instead of just a partial post and then a link to read the rest of the content. I fail to see any value in doing that.

Besides those two things this a great model of a business adding value to the marketplace as a whole.

Advertising For A Cause

I caught a post by Fred Wilson that I had missed from late last month about how his blog ad revenue goes to charity. I'm pretty sure that I had read it on his blog in the past, but it's just cool to hear about. It's a great twist to the web advertising model, ad clicks for a good cause.

Way to go Fred!

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Development Process

I put together a development plan for my company. Essentially we wanted to document the process we are going to follow from the point that an idea for a system, or enhanced system functionality, enters someone's head to the point that we have finished product.

The contruction phase is meant to follow Agile and Extreme Programming methodologies. It may be written a little bit differently, but that's so that any business member who's not familiar with those processes can look at it and understand.

I'm open to feedback so anyone who stumbles across this and has any thoughts, they are more than welcome.

Development Process

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