Archive for January, 2008

Building Blocks

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

What makes the web so interesting for me is that different pieces from competing interests can work together – a bit like building blocks, they just need to be carefully packaged. When the job is well done it can fit together to create something new!

In case the media did not find you this week – Lego turned 50. I was hoping they would sell a box of gold bricks, instead they brought back the original Lego town set. I think a more suitable set for the anniversary might have been the Eiffel Tower set:

Eiffel Tower

I like how it adds complexity with style. Just think of all the budding young minds who can be exposed to some French culture while working out the structural challenges of this landmark tower.

Thinking about building blocks, a lot of websites are starting to use WordPress for their ‘base layer’. Google is supporting them and that helps a lot, but what I like about it is how they can be modified with plugins to bring out cool new features with very little setup time. You want to add a reviews section, no problem just plug it in. Need some link building tools, there they are waiting to be used. With a tool like this there is no reason any small business can’t have a presence on the web. And while I am thinking about it, in case you have not registered your own name as a domain, now is the time to check if it is still available.

Replacing your TV with the internet

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

Last night we received a call from a woman taking a count on the number of people who thought children have too much access to violent/sexual/swearing content on TV. Her argument was time shifting mature content was too easy and children could get exposure to it now when before they might not have.

Our answer was obvious – we don’t have television so we did not know. Meanwhile I was watching two of my kids downloading videos on youtube and watching their own selected content. I know it is very easy for them to find mature content on youtube and it made me take notice that revolution had just taken place.

Kids are not even interested in ‘feed me’ content anymore. They want to pick what video, when, and how many times in a row to watch. I am hearing a lot about Apple computer having a movie service now and it surprised me that Amazon – the bringer of all web purchasing goodness was not involved. So today while I was checking on a few things I came across this:

Compare that to the kiosks you find in front of McDonald’s and remember how painful it can be to bring the disk back on time or get charged an outrageous rate. I would like to hear your experiences on it if anyone has a chance to try it out. Here is the link again so you don’t need to go searching for it:

Update: So what are we doing about filtering content for our kids?  The best way is still to keep their media in our space so we can actively guide them as they are watching.  They have become very aware of what is allowed and what is not, and they are helping each other with keeping the rules in place (it can be a bit strange the first time you see a child tell another child what is not allowed to be watched.)

Finding Lost Money

Friday, January 18th, 2008

Great article from Get Rich Slowly today. There was a time one of Grandfathers came to me with a faxed document that showed a savings bond. He said if I could find it and cash it I could have half. This was just before my summer with Smith Barney working with the stock brokers. All summer I kept working on it, asking people about it and doing research. Turns out there was not enough information to prove any ownership, and the company it was with had been bought a few times. In the end I learned a lot about how the business works, but did not get the $2500 that would have been mine. Looking back I think he gave me more by not giving me anything. You know the old saying, better to learn to fish than to have a fish given to you.


Thursday, January 10th, 2008

I was getting ready for a presentation recently and had seen a brief overview of Guy Kawasaki’s 10/20/30 rule. I only found time to read his whole entry today, but the main point of it was clear to me – keep the font large, and use a minimum number of power-point slides to get the message across; then leave lots of time for discussion. It was one of the best presentations I have been to in a while and one that I (and I think the others) really enjoyed. In fact, as Guy points out, someone always needs to leave early. In this case three of our participants actually had important people sitting in the lobby waiting for them for three separate meetings – and guess what, they stayed with us because the discussion was highly energetic. It reminded me of my capstone business class back when I was studying for my Bachelors degree. I had a teammate who made the statement “I think we can say everything we need to say in 15 minutes and leave the other 15 for questions.” And he was right! Not only was our presentation more lively then others we had seen, but people where actually engaging with the conversation. (Thanks Thad for the great memories.) From now on I will do everything I can to stick with Guy idea and to keep the presentation down, but Guy, can we please say it in six, not ten slides cause I think I hear some ringing in my ears.

Update 1/16/08:

Guy has since added a new posting about Presentation Zen and some additional tips for making great presentations.  In case you have not yet looked at the book he mentions you can find it here.


Monday, January 7th, 2008

Grand Central

Friday, January 4th, 2008

While many internet users are pleased to sign up for broadband, the old telephone has a new trick up her sleeve. I have been using Grand Central for a few weeks now and can report it is starting to save me time and money. One feature I lost by switching to a cell phone was the ability to screen my calls. Caller ID is not always enough to know who is calling, and if it is the car repair man you will want to jump in on his message to ask a few detailed questions on how that warranty repair is going. With grandcentral you are able to have them leave a message and to pick it up if you need to talk even if you are in a meeting. Plus it is the first time I have used ‘Visual Voicemail’ and I must say I like it. You are able to see all you messages in your web browser and to click any message to hear what they said. Also, if you need to call them back you click on a button and it automatically connects you. I can hear all of you proclaiming how nice that would be, no more writing the number down and missing what they said (and no more repeating that message ten times since they always leave it too quickly.)

Down side it is still a beta, but if you need an invite let me know, I should still have a couple left. If you want to try it out, give me a call using the button on the right. For now it is free, maybe if everyone starts using it they will start charging, lets hope not. I am hoping they get it to Europe soon since there are some people there who I know could use this as well.