Archives for April 2008

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Digidesign: Why you NEVER should buy their products!

The story I’m about to tell you is such a great lesson in how NOT to take care of (or manage) your customers, I had to share it with you. Take from this what you will, but there are such obvious lessons here for all of us that it might be as informative for you as this experience has been for me.

Four months ago I wrote a post entitled, “My Digidesign Paper Weight…” ranting about my experience with the MBoxPro2 I purchased to drive a new, more powerful Shure SM7B microphone — and record client interviews, do voiceovers and other work — and at the time (more than two months after Apple had shipped Leopard), Digidesign couldn’t even hint at when they’d support this new operating system.

Since that post, this MBoxPro2 has been worthless to me since it no longer functions with any of my machines and, of course, imagine how agitated I am with a total investment of approximately $1,500 now gathering dust for months and months.

Over the last five months, I’ve been to their site dozens of times to check on the status of a Leopard upgrade. Never obvious and tough to find, I nonetheless did but found nothing. Since so much time had elapsed — and terribly unusual in today’s marketplace — I reached out to Digidesign Customer Support who twice responded to my queries with recommendations:

1) To downgrade to Apple’s old Tiger OS (but you know the cascading effect of upgrading an OS and all your applications which also would need to be ‘downgraded’) and I only have a Tiger upgrade disk in my office closet and Apple no longer sells it…making this ‘fix’ not an option.

2) After pointing this out, a few days later they then recommended I go out and buy a Tiger install disk and install the old OS on a bootable hard drive, reinstall all the relevant applications, Digidesign’s non-Leopard-compatible version of ProTools as well as all the ProTools-compatible plugins I purchased OR go out and buy an old Mac. If both of these options weren’t so ludicrous in putting the burden of additional investment and the time-to-install effort on me, the customer, I’d laugh.

Here’s where the obvious lessons come in from the unbelievably bad customer service job they’ve done — and are doing — and why you should NEVER give Digidesign any of your money…ever:

[Read more…]

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Twitter: One more way human connection is accelerating

There is a subtle shift going on that is accelerating how we humans are connecting over this global grid called the Internet. Regardless whether or not you are participating in this sort of connection, are even aware of it, or look at those who are using it as people who really need to get a life, there’s no question Twitter (and others like Pownce and Jaiku generally seen as being micro-blogging tools) are accelerating human connection and this is a phenomena you need to understand.

That little red dot on the earth is me just outside Minneapolis, Minnesota. Because of all of my digital breadcrumbs around the ‘net (as well as my speaking engagements, my blog and participation in a myriad of Web offerings), I’ve been able to connect with other thought leaders all over the world. Ironically, all the other online participants in my own State of Minnesota were relatively unknown to me and I wasn’t connected with most of them.

Until now. Until Twitter.

In addition to connecting with other thought leaders I’m already following (and at times connecting with people they follow), folks locally are finding/following me and thus I’m finding/following them, creating a new web of connections that’s already opening doors too numerous to recount just now.

I won’t give you a history lesson on IRC, ICQ, instant messaging and other technologies which preceded Twitter and the others, but suffice to say many methods to connect already exist in the same way that audio online existed before podcasting; video before YouTube; and online diaries before blogging. The fundamental difference is that these micro-blogging tools are easier to use than the others (or more widely distributed than proprietary instant messaging services), more efficient and persistent since there’s a trail left of messages one can backtrack and follow, and these micro-blogging tools have turned into platforms being extended by others (e.g., see this and this post).

Sounds pretty optimistic Borsch…any downsides?

[Read more…]

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TwitPic: Twitter extensions accelerating

Yep….here’s another Twitter extension that makes it really simple to add photos to your Twitter stream called TwitPic.

Go there, login in with your Twitter credentials, and upload a photo or send one from your phone. You can see one I just took with my iPhone (I’m at the Eden Prairie library) and emailed it to my ‘special’ email address with the subject line, “Eden Prairie library, bits vs. atoms.” I used this subject since I’d just sent a tweet that, yet again, I was struck by the huge numbers of people here on the computers (viewing bits) while few of us are here for the atoms (books).

Though moblogging has been around for awhile and adding a photo to blogs and other services has been relatively easy for some time, there’s something about the off-handed tossing up a photo as a tweet that makes the immediacy of it compelling.

For more of how Twitter is turning into a platform and to see other extensions, look here, here or even get in touch with your inner Twitter.

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Twubble: Is it a weally, weally good service?

Joking around and poking fun isn’t my style — especially when someone has launched something that is trying to make a good service (Twitter) better — but I couldn’t help myself when I saw a link to the new Twitter extension Twubble and went to it half expecting to be greeted by Elmer Fudd (also, what is this world coming to when even cartoon characters have their own Wikipedia page?).

Twubble is actually pretty cool. I was already logged in to Twitter and it went out to find (and recommend) others whom my friends are following. It actually does make Twitter more useful and I have already added some people my friends are following.

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What if you’re NOT social?

As social networks proliferate and more investment is made into them (and companies deploy their own networks trying to capitalize on the explosion in internet participation), I keep thinking about the people who aren’t all that social, not inherently “connectors” or are folks not much interested in virtually connecting.

I always thought not being social was, well, being antisocial. The weirdos who smell bad and can’t be trusted around small animals or children. The nerds with whom I connected who would prefer alone-time with code instead of hanging around with me after work. The meditators whom I always seem to stumble upon when hiking in the woods.

Then I became enlightened.

Some time ago I was in an executive workshop where my “motive profile” was taken. This profile was based on the work of the late professor David McClelland, in which he proposed that an individual’s specific needs are acquired over time and are shaped by one’s early life experiences. Most of these needs can be classified as either achievement, affiliation, or power (or what McClelland apparently wished he’d called that last one: influence due to “power’s” often miscontrued meaning).

I learned that I had a “power V” with 91% achievement, 28% affiliation and 74% power which is an entrepreneur’s profile (large organization CEO’s typically score the same but are in the upper 80th or 90th percentile in power).

When these results were handed to me by the workshop leader, I was stunned since anyone who knows me would laugh at the notion I’m low on affiliation and actually not a social animal. I pulled our workshop leader aside immediately, “28% in affiliation!?! But I *like* people, can talk to a rock and have always been perceived as an extroverted good host at parties and a fun coach and mentor,” I protested. Our workshop leader calmly explained to me (and the group) that what our scoring meant was the measure of what each of us needed to be whole and satisfied each-n-every day. Thus I had an innate drive to achieve, to influence others, but mostly didn’t need to be around or connect with people at all in order to meet my core needs. Affiliation with others wasn’t (and isn’t) a motivator for me.

This made perfect sense as it sunk in…though I find my best ideas and energy come from being around others and brainstorming but, I must admit, I do love solitude and need daily time by myself to feel right. Learning this about myself was (and still is) incredibly instructive, but when I think about my need to connect with others through social media and networks I have to chuckle: as a guy consulting in the social media space, ironically I don’t care all that much and don’t have a lot of energy for social networks, LinkedIn or networking in general.

So what’s the lesson in all of this for you?

[Read more…]

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“No such thing as bad press” in the blogosphere

Shel Israel & his nemesis Loren Feldman

My bride is out of town so I feel less guilty about spending significant “face time” in front of my computer poking around exploring on the ‘net and I just got done reading up on, and watching videos about, the cat fight between Shel Israel and Loren Feldman.

Though you can start with this post as the culmination of what’s happening between the two of them, don’t spend a lot of time on it as it doesn’t matter in the scheme of life. What does matter about this little clash — and is perhaps a life lesson about being a player in the game of life vs. a critic or someone in the stands having a hot dog and a beer while the action goes on — is that Israel is adding value to the world and Feldman is riding that value’s coattails as I’ll explain below.

My first exposure to Israel was the book he penned called, “Naked Conversations” along with Robert Scoble. It was the first substantive book about the communications shift occurring that is partially being driven by the blogging phenomena. The core elements of blogging were discussed (transparency being the key one) along with numerous use-cases of blogging within companies that has proven useful ongoing.

Even though I skim 1,500+ articles per day in my feed reader, watch many videos and listen to podcasts, I have so much new media to consume on a daily basis I just couldn’t get in to Israel and Scoble’s new adventure, FastCompany.tv (besides, I’m a little weary of Scoble’s goofin’ on technology without focusing on its meaning and why it matters, and simply didn’t think Israel would have a lot of new and worthwhile value to add). [Read more…]

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Mobile SMS: Do you even *know* you’re being ripped off?

For a long, long time I’ve limited my SMS text messaging since it was too laborious to type with a keypad and I — and most of my friends and colleagues — didn’t like being “interrupt driven” and being bombarded by SMS interruptions. It was also ridiculously expensive and I knew it was a ripoff so was reluctant to use it.

Most of us now realize that an SMS is, in many ways, a more efficient and surprisingly less intrusive way to connect with someone. Now that I (and my daughter and some friends) have iPhones and the text messaging is so much easier, I bought her the unlimited SMS for $20 option with AT&T which she goes crazy with as she messages like mad (but they’re raising the price as well…bummer).

Here’s the kicker though: think about how much you pay for unlimited Internet access at home where you probably download hundreds of megabytes (or even gigabytes) of data every month for, say, $50. Ever do the math on how extremely and insanely expensive sending and receiving those teeny, tiny SMS messages are in comparison?  This is why SMS is the “cash cow” for the mobile telephony companies and they’re laughing all the way to the bank, thank you very much.

Now you don’t have to do the math since Sam Garfield did it for you with the true price of SMS messaging and it’s enlightening. An excerpt:

What exactly justifies making SMS messages sixty one million times more expensive than ISP data and 200x more expensive than TCP/USPS? How come technology, communication, and infrastructure is getting cheaper while the costs of SMS messages are increasing exponentially? My theory: SMS messages are transfered over air made of solid gold.

No Sam…they’re charging it because they can and that we haven’t called them on it. It’s posts like yours that will help fan the flames of mobile users getting ripped off for something so minor.

[Read more…]

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Comcast’s DOCSIS 3.0 Twin Cities Rollout

When given the chance to be one of the first two companies in the Twin Cities to receive an install of Comcast’s new DOCSIS 3.0-driven high speed service (50 megabits per second download speed and 5 megabits per second upload!), do you think they had to ask twice?

If you haven’t heard of DOCSIS 3.0 (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification) and don’t know why this is important, it’s the next generation of cable standards for delivering data over cable with theoretical speeds between 170mbps and 340mbps download with uploads speeds of 120mbps.

Comcast indicated that the Twin Cities is their first market to deploy DOCSIS 3.0 technology and is a clear demonstration of how the company is evolving from broadband to wideband. Its also just the beginning of even faster speeds to come, they claim, but my 50/5 internet speed isn’t any demo….it’s real, working and fast.

My experiences thus far have been amazing. When we first started to use it after the install, I broke into a huge grin as pages loaded instantly and I ran a 345MB update which hit my downloads folder and completed in what seemed like two minutes (it actually downloaded so quickly I forgot to watch it and time it). I’ve been achieving ~40mbps down and 3.4 to 4.1mbps upload speeds on average (which, of course, are dependent upon so many variables like internet traffic, server load and so on) so multi-use of our broadband connection has become more useful. [Read more…]

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Rewiring your brain by paying attention

Facing a six hour adventure to get home from New York yesterday, I stopped in an airport bookstore to see if something caught my fancy that would be an immersive read. In the days when I traveled over 80% of the time, I remember buying magazines (then much less than the $5-$10 they are now) but even then most were like needing a good meal and instead sitting down to a plate of cotton candy. Not very satisfying and pretty ephemeral.

The book I chose was Norman Doidge’s The Brain That Changes Itself. Doidge takes us on a journey into the developments of brain science which has led to the current state of brain scientists understanding that the brain is “plastic” which can be molded, shaped, and rewired, “For years the doctrine of neuroscientists has been that the brain is a machine: break a part and you lose that function permanently. But more and more evidence is turning up to show that the brain can rewire itself, even in the face of catastrophic trauma: essentially, the functions of the brain can be strengthened just like a weak muscle.

There were many aspects of this book that leapt out at me but one key point I’ll bring up as I recommend this book: permanently imprinting and creating brain maps (i.e., permanent behavior changes, knowledge permanence, automatic responses and deep, intuitive understandings) only happens when a human or animal is focused and paying close attention.

That’s right. Multitasking (Linda Stone positions it as, continuous partial attention) WILL NOT hardwire our brains and anything we’re learning, hoping to absorb permanently or habits we’re intending to change….won’t.

Doidge brings up numerous examples of brain rewiring and plasticity which I’m thinking about now and have lots of questions swirling about: What happens to our brain maps and wiring when our conceptual and spatial awareness extends in to the virtual? (I’ll bet you can visualize in what folder on your computer sits that important document or photo…or what’s on your friends wall in Facebook from last night). Will automating processes begin to replace the need to hardwire them into our brains? When we all have mobile computers in our pockets and can instantly look up anything, will we need to permanently imprint knowledge?

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Quit whining and let’s appreciate how far we’ve come…

On our last day in New York, my son and I had fully intended to head to Ellis Island but alas, timing didn’t work out (Northwest Airlines cancelled our flight and other issues). Now facing a six hour adventure to get home (vs. just over three hours) has put my 13 year old in a foul mood, “Dad…I’ll be so BORED!” he cries as we talk about ways to keep our minds occupied in the airport, on the flights and the one hour layover until we finally get home.

Oh….we poor babies! A six hour, relatively comfortable flight with nothing to read or DVD’s to watch…how can we manage?

Imagine being one of the 12 million immigrants that spent WEEKS on a journey that culminated in arriving in New York and going through Ellis Island (unless you were wealthy or ‘upper class’ and then you were automatically in). Arduous? To say the least. Boring? Undoubtedly. Smelly, dirty and infested? Yep.

I think about stuff like this whenever I complain about technology: slow, expensive Wifi (like I experienced in our New York hotel); lack of 3G in my iPhone and that I can’t use it as a bluetooth modem; or that it’s challenging to integrate free, open source software projects. At least I’m not in the middle of the Atlantic with nothing and coming to a land of opportunity and unknown challenges.

Am I grateful for what I (and we) have today? Oh my God yes. I’m also aware how ‘soft’ we are as a nation and a people since most of us haven’t lived through true hardship like our immigrant ancestors (though we may now if the economy continues its downward trend!). I’m aware often that I come from quite modest means and my maternal grandparents, for example, were as close to the poverty line as I’ll ever experience (hopefully) and were the salt of the earth…teaching me early the meaning and importance of love over anything else…especially the material. The guidance from them, my parents and the people I’ve gravitated toward over the years have reinforced this perspective.

The flip side is that whining and complaints is the market speaking and actually is a good thing. We’re telling the creators, the vendors and the service providers what is NOT working and what needs to be improved. It’s the only way that progress occurs and the inefficient is made efficient.

It’s just that whining and complaining works best if it’s balanced with appreciation on how far we’ve come and we approach our suggestions, criticisms and feedback in the spirit of making it better.

I’ve been invited in to dozens of ‘private beta’ Web offerings as well as sit on the advisory boards of two companies. Why? I really appreciate where we’ve been in the space they’re attacking (usually one that desperately needs improvement), where we are now (the current offerings in the market), where they’re headed, and that my positive whining, complaining, guidance and insight — if offered in the true spirit of improvement — is deeply appreciated and results in positive change.

Give it a try the next time you’re mad, frustrated or befuddled by some product or service that you think needs to be made more efficient. I’ll wager it will be accepted well if it’s offered with appreciation and your positive feedback.

 

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