Archives for October 23, 2011


The Second It’s Possible, I’ll Cut the Cord

The ‘new’, and still inadequate, Comcast DVR channel guide

Like so many others, I’m fed up with Comcast/Xfinity and am constantly seeking developments that will allow me to cut-the-cord and do away with cable TV. 

Comcast in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul acquired TimeWarner’s Roadrunner service. Here in my hometown of Eden Prairie, Comcast claims a “legacy millstone” hangs around their necks and that’s why their HD DVR interface is so horrifically bad. I’ve talked to Comcast technicians, VPs in the business group, and cable analysts and all say that, “It will change at some point soon.” I’ve been hearing that now for three years.

I’ve been looking at my bill and decided to go out and buy my own DOCSIS 3 modem for the Comcast internet service. Instead of paying $7/month, I bought it for $109 and my connection is about 25% faster! Think Comcast would’ve notified me and encouraged me to upgrade months ago? Nope.

Besides the HD DVR interface being so horrible, the ‘Comcast On Demand” service is a joke (from an interface standpoint…the content play fine once you get to it). Turns out that HD TV content is buried within nested categories which means it’s tough to find and tougher to find again once you want to watch something. Since Comcast has invested heavily in three new data centers for this service, one would think they’d spend some time in the human interface that THEIR CUSTOMERS TOUCH, wouldn’t you?  [Read more…]


Huh? Pine Cones Point Toward a Brighter Future?

Pine cones near a pond by Red Rock Lake in Eden Prairie, MN

Snagged this photo with my new iPhone 4S (and its 8 megapixel camera) on my morning walk with my dog. The light was nice at that hour and I stopped to snap a photo of these pine cones…but I came away with A LOT more than just a picture!

After I took the photo I closely examined this spruce and the bunches of pine cones all over it. I was suddenly struck with the thought about how fascinating it is that pine cones like this on another form of pine, the Bishop, which require fire to drop and open up…thus spilling their seeds so a new generation can grow. I immediately thought, “What a metaphor for what we all are going through right now in the U.S. and globally.

The global economy has “burned” and, like so many of you who stay up on current events, know that many people around the world have seen their lives “scorched” with jobs lost, homes foreclosed upon, benefits reduced, and governments toppled. But ALL THE TRENDS point toward new growth and I fundamentally believe that, as the world continues to accelerate toward an internet-connected future, we will see unprecedented innovation and an increase in value created.

How? Where are all of these trends pointing to a future like that one? Like any other innovation or invention, one cannot look backwards (like many conservatives and MBAs do) or look side-to-side to see what other countries or companies are doing and then do what they’re doing only slightly better (e.g., trying to knock-off iPod with Zune; deliver ho-hum tablets to compete with iPad). The key is to strategically anticipate the future and look ahead to make the best, educated and calculated guesses you can and then go make the future happen.

In our core business (The Trend Curveâ„¢) we track trends globally for the home furnishings industry. Since so many other factors influence what happens within the home, we analyze industries like fashion, technology, manufacturing and what is happening with color, since color equals emotion and, surprisingly, echoes the mood of consumers. Color is becoming more vibrant, brighter, and dare I say, “optimistic?”

In some general trend areas as well as all of the foundational home-related industries we track, optimism abounds:

  • Small Business Optimism Picks Up: “The National Federation of Independent Business reported that it’s Small Business Optimism Index gained eight-tenths of a point to rise to 88.9. The gain snapped a six-month string of declines.”
  • The Expectation Economy (note #3 that “Copying competitors is a race to the bottom“) expects a brighter future: One site we follow is TrendWatching and their new business types site called Springwise since the latter, especially, delights us often with some of the new, disruptive and radical businesses being created around the world
  • Manufacturing is quickly embracing trends like 3D printing (great blog by Howard Smith, a U.K. technologist). 3D printing promises to accelerate the time from idea-to-prototype-to-manufacturing; at some point relatively soon to buy, as a consumer, plans online that will enable one to simply print-out an object at home; and much more.
  • Technology gadgets, the internet’s impact, ubiquitous wireless and more are transforming the world. To get up to speed quickly on what’s going on globally, look at former Morgan Stanley analyst, and now venture capitalist, Mary Meeker’s State of the Internet at Web 2.0 Summit or read this article & watch the video of her presentation.
Yep…you can argue every one of these points and counter them with a pessimistic and dark analysis that the sky is falling, the world is tumbling toward oblivion, and the only way to compete with the Chinese is to drive the American workforce toward subsistence living and a 3rd world country wage structure. So if you’re inclined to comment and tell me why everything is horrible and bad, don’t bother since I’m not placing my energy on the negative.