Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Open Letter to an Old Friend

You used to be "too good to be true!" We loved you and looked forward to hearing from you every time the mailman came down the sidewalk.

We don't blame you for shifting your attention to streaming. Many of us did that too and were glad that you were out in front on that.

But here's the thing:

I won't be renewing my account. You often don't have the movies that I want to see available for streaming. You don't have a way (any more) for me to search to determine whether the movies I want are in your catalog unless I have an active account.

And the recent articles (here, and here) about how your management has somehow decided that because 20% of people don't mind spoilers, and many of the rest of us will (sometimes reluctantly) watch a series even after you deliver a spoiler -- makes me wonder if your decision makers actually studied basic statistics and marketing implications of customer satisfaction during college.

The waters are beginning to be infested with hungry media delivery players, and where Netflix once had a beautiful edge from being an earlier player, it looks instead like you're not getting the clue from the marketplace.  Shape up, or watch the others pass you by!

In the meantime, if you mend your ways, be sure and let me know. I'd love for us to be friends again.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Why are We So Ignorant?

In just a short visit with Hans and Ola Rosling, it's easy to see why we have so many misconceptions about the world.

If you need proof, just watch as Hans shows how an audience of educated people, a Swedish university population, and even the US and world media score lower than chimpanzees on key questions about the state of conditions in the world.

By the way, hang in there. Ola does provide an answer that shows us how we can stop being so ignorant. With the holidays coming up, you'll want to pay close attention so you can share this insight with old drunken Uncle Jack. He's sure to thank you!

Of course, you can do something about this. That's why the talk exists. Share the word, and if you see your way clear to help, join Ola in supporting the Ignorance Project. You'll find more about it here.

TED Talk: How not to be so ignorant about the world

It's worth the few minutes you'll spend learning about how much we don't know.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Speaking of the Edges

This passage from Kim Stedman's recent rant perfectly sums up something I've been dying to say:

News about important edge case solutions, is not currently being targeted to people who might have it. It is currently broadcast everywhere, all at once, in an  information dissemination  pattern similar to that used by  hormones  (which flood the whole body until the right organ hears them),  radio  (which does that same thing to the air), or TV advertising (which does it to your brain). This is the method society is currently using to distribute this information to the 3 in a thousand people for whom it actually makes a difference. This is a terrible method of communication and wastes everyone’s energy and time.* It is also and massively discrediting.

She's talking about a particular trend in health and nutrition, but the principle applies much more broadly in the marketplace. The principle that spattering a message onto 1000 listeners to find the 3 for whom it's relevant is at the core of mass communication, mostly broadcast.

When we realize that most of the noise being made around us is concerned with the narrow and the extraordinary, we can get down to the real business at hand.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Through with Passwords? Almost.

...if you're like me, you hate passwords with a passion.

They're almost gone from our lives, but it won't happen for some time yet. (Even if it takes another 2 years, that's about a generation and a half in Internet Years.) In the meantime, there is hope!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Where Have You Been

Although it's not a technological earth shaker, this little amusement brought a smile to my face and maybe you'll enjoy it too.

The tool is something we found at defocus-blog and it allows you to tag the states where you've lived, those you've visited often, those you've just set foot in, and those you've never seen.

The color code is explained here although I modified the definitions slightly to match my experiences.  My rules are:

  • Green - Lived there and rented or owned property
  • Blue - Visited often and probably worked there on contracts
  • Amber - Been there repeatedly and probably stayed in hotel or with friends
  • Red - Driven though, might have slept there once or twice

Go see it here and generate the picture of your own travels.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Four Simple Steps to Tame Your Inbox

There's a "dirty little secret" that's no secret at all -- most of us have no idea what's in our email inbox, and we have precious little hope of ever getting to the bottom of it.

Want to be free of this and join the tiny cadre of folks who can see every unread message in the inbox at a glance?  Here are four steps that you can take to battle the "incoming tide."
  1. Form the habit of handling your correspondence regularly. Don't skip a session. If you are someone who works religiously from your calendar, then put a time block on your calendar strictly for handling email.  Make this a regular and systematic part of your day and you'll notice the backlog begins to dissolve.
  2. Vigorously unsubscribe from lists that fill your inbox with offers and specials that you are not going to use. When you sign up for a new community or a new service when you purchase something, be sure to uncheck those boxes that opt you into a notification stream. When you see offers and notices that you did not specifically request, take a moment to click through and unsubscribe.
  3. Stop using the Inbox as a To Do list. If you see something in your inbox that reminds you of a task you must complete, add the item to your To Do list (the REAL one) and then archive the email on the matter.  Gmail and Outlook both have To Do lists integrated with your mail reader now. If you don't like how they work, then try out Remember The Milk. It's free and very useful.
  4. Admit that messages over 90 days old are already beyond reach. Archive them in bulk and count on finding the important stuff by search. In fact, begin using search as your primary way to read the mail rather than subjecting yourself to the random tyranny of default inbox ordering.
There are many things you can do to convert your email box from a  into your tool, but if you do only these four things, you'll be well on the way.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Communicating in 3D

So it goes like this.

The ones among us who love the shine and polish of a new technical idea, or the view from a new plateau -- we adore the possiblities of 3D.

Those among us who have struggled and won the battle to communicate in a real world using only a two-dimensional language and medium -- those folks despise 3D. (Well not all of them...)

The transition one makes into a world of using 3D tools for drawing, communicating, playing, and even creating art ... that transition is a one-way journey. You can't be happy on the cave wall when you've discovered a luxurious cotton bond stationery that absorbes your ink like the most incredibly faithful messenger.

And you cannot be happy drawing on a flat surface when you've learned to draw in the space of three dimensions.

If you don't believe this, then I invite you to learn just a little bit about SketchUp Make.

This free tool invites anyone, from elementary school students to frustrated civil engineers (and working ones for that matter) to easily draw and design in three dimensions.

There is a professional version of the software that can be used for serious design and planning. But Make is here to let any of us get a start in a rapid fashion.  By downloading the software (there are multiple versions) and spending just a short time with tutorials that demosntrate the principles of the design tool -- just about anyone can be off to an endless adventure in design and speculation.

Give it a try and then come back to tell us why 3D is just a fad and that our brains aren't quite meant for it. I dare you!