Thursday, August 26, 2010

Twitter Question

We’ve just started--really just started--a social media push at work and I’m still ironing out the kinks. For Twitter I decided to follow a number of industry publications and some of the larger businesses but am purposely ignoring competitors (other manufacturers). One of our competitors is now following us. When I say competitor, I mean direct competitor in one of our biggest product families.

They have manufacturing in the city as us, they make the same kinds of equipment as us, they sell in the same markets to the same people, and they have much the same goals as us. We are a young company and we’re looking up at a lot of higher cost, more established competition--these guys, on the other hand, have us in their sites.

What should I do? Ignore them? Block them? Unless someone can offer a compelling argument as to why I should do so, I can’t imagine following them.


Midnightish Music Lamenting the Ending of Summer

Louder than my normal midnight musical offerings, the The Raveonettes’ “Beat City” has a kind of has a My Bloody Valentine meets early sixties pop thing going on (which might also explain this little ditty). Mostly, though, it’s a bit of noisy fun.

I hate it when summer starts to go away.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Skype Can’t Be Happy About This…

Suddenly Skype seems so much less necessary.

Gmail voice and video chat makes it easy to stay in touch with friends and family using your computer’s microphone and speakers. But until now, this required both people to be at their computers, signed into Gmail at the same time. Given that most of us don’t spend all day in front of our computers, we thought, “wouldn’t it be nice if you could call people directly on their phones?”

Starting today, you can call any phone right from Gmail.

Calls to the U.S. and Canada will be free for at least the rest of the year and calls to other countries will be billed at our very low rates. We worked hard to make these rates really cheap (see comparison table) with calls to the U.K., France, Germany, China, Japan—and many more countries—for as little as $0.02 per minute.

I’ve set it up, I’ve tried it, and I love it. Works beautifully.

I already use Google voice for all of my international calls--the rates are pretty reasonable--but the fact that it ties into my Google Voice account is a nice bonus. The only significant negative with Google Voice--and it is a significant negative--is that I have missed a few incoming calls. Apparently there are a few carriers who refuse to acknowledge the existence of Google Voice. Since I use this for business, again I say: this is a significant negative.

Sadly, it doesn’t even block the salesman who has called me about fifteen times since last Thursday. I gave him an hour of my life on Friday, listened to his pitch, and told him that I didn’t have the budget or the inclination to buy right now; I even told him he should call back toward the end of September when I was looking over the marketing plan and the budget for next year.

Funny enough, I really was going to consider a trial run with his product, but the constant calling after I told him to leave me alone until I had a chance to look at next year’s budget has solved that particular problem. There is no way that I am buying from him.

Let this be a lesson to any of you in sales: don’t harass the prospect and don’t talk yourself out of a sale.

I do wonder what they’ll be charging for it next year, though. If it is a reasonable annual fee, I’ll be happy to add that onto my Google tab (along with my added storage and those international calls).

Read the rest.

Update: Just going through my bills right now and looked at my cell phone bill and there was one international call. A few days ago I called one of our partners in Australia and chatted for a grand total 8 minutes. The charge for that 8 minutes? $29.12. That same call in Google Voice would have cost $1.12.

Still trying to wrap my head around a $29.12 call that lasted only 8 minutes.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Kindle v/ iBooks

This wouldn’t surprise me in the least:

Despite Steve Jobs’ recent claim that the iBookstore has taken 22 percent of the US e-book market, some authors still report significantly higher sales volume on the Kindle. Author J. A. Konrath has published more than three dozen books on both platforms, with Kindle sales averaging 200 e-books every day. On the iBookstore, however, sales have only reached approximately 100 each month.

First, understand that this encompasses not only the

While I really enjoy the iBook in-app purchase process, I like the interface better, and I like the store. That said, Amazon’s Kindle--the application--has a lot of advantages. First and foremost: the Kindle app runs on multiple platforms--its reach is far greater than iBooks. It also had a good head start in the war for peoples’ ebook dollars along with some nifty features. The Kindle also has a far better selection.

Apple’s iBooks might or might not catch up in the sales department and, honestly, I don’t really care. As long as competition gives me better prices and wider selection along, I’ll be a happy boy.

Unfortunately, neither of them has many of the books that I look for and I continue to spend most of my book dollars at Barnes and Noble and Borders. Similarly, I would happily push nearly all of my magazine purchases to the iPad if the magazines I want were available, but the grand majority of the publications I read simply aren’t available.

I am becoming convinced that the biggest thing standing in the way of wider adoption electronic publications is this: availability. I am a heavy reader with a monthly habit of between $150 and $250 spent on magazines and books and I would prefer to move that to electronic delivery if I could. I wonder when the publishers will catch up with me?

Read the rest.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Apparently Some People Really Do Read it for the Articles

Apple’s strict no-nipple policy in relation to apps sold through the iTunes store is probably a smart decision. If not for that, my guess is that wandering through the app store would feel something like wandering the Vegas Strip. Everywhere you turn, some guy is pushing a little sheet urging you to partake in Becky’s Big Boobieporium.

I have nothing against porn in a general sense, but I really hate it when porn gets all pushy.

Which is why I’m not particularly uptight about the G-rated version of Playboy for the iPad, but, then, I also don’t get the point. Do people really read it for the articles? Are those articles really that good? Or do they need a giant pair of fake, airbrushed bosoms to keep them afloat? I honestly wouldn’t know since I never read it for the articles. I was always in it for the photography.

For cranky folk who will decry Apple’s censorship, I say: if you need porn on your iDevice, then use the browser. Even better, you could buy an Android-based device--Google really does have the porn advantage.

Read the story.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Billie Joe Armstrong Embraces His Inner (Very American) Idiot

Britain’s Q magazine--one of a handful of music magazines that I still read regularly--published a sort of musical overview of the last decade that, of course, incorporates a look at the political events that shaped these years. Predictably, my opinions weren’t well-represented. In fact, reading music journalists writing about the musings of rock stars on some of the weightiest issues of our times isn’t likely to wake any slumbering brain cells. It is rarely interesting, it is even more rarely insightful, and it is close to never useful to any larger debate.

Witness, for instance, Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong’s take on Obamacare:

Obama’s healthcare plan was too confusing. It should have been: if you want healthcare and you can’t afford it, the government can help you out.

There’s a nuanced view of health care that neither seems to have any understanding of what assistance was in place for the poor before Obamacare nor of any of the practical issues of how to properly administer any healthcare plan. Deep thought is not this man’s strongest suit.

Of course, if he had simply said that I wouldn’t be writing this post. That’s a very tame grade of dumb. What is more impressive is the full-on weapons grade dumb that he exhibits when asked this by Q’s interviewer, “If you went for a beer with Bush, do you think he’d turn out to be quite a nice guy?”

Billie Joe’s answer is, well, inflammatory.

If I was going for a beer with him, hopefully I’d have a gun on me also.

What a ridiculous, silly little man.

If you’re inclined to read the interview, you can find it on page 61 of the January, 2010 issue. Why, yes, I am a little behind on some of my reading. Why do you ask?

Update: Having read the magazine, I find a very specific trend to be intriguing. Of all of the interviews in the issue, when the musicians were asked about the best and worst of the decade, those who went political answered almost unanimously.

Worst of the decade was President Bush. Which seems a tremendous hyperbole when you consider the global economic meltdown, the terrifying natural disasters, and the rise of Real Housewives of Wherever.

Best of the decade was President Obama. Which seems just as tremendously premature. I imagine, though, that his actual job performance won’t be changing their minds.

And precisely none of them mentioned Osama bin Laden, terrorists, or the 9/11 attack. Defining the “worst” thing of a decade is always difficult, but here’s the thing: no matter what you think of former President Bush, he did not go into office intending to go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. If anything, he had sounded during his first campaign, like a mild isolationist. The worst thing of this past decade could very easily be that thing that precipitated the wars that no one really wanted: the terrorist attacks that murdered thousands of innocents. Not just terrorist attacks in the US, but around the world.

I find it mind-boggling that not one of the people interviewed noticed that the worst “thing” of the decade was the surge in deadly, radical Muslim terrorists working hard to destabilize governments around the world.

I truly love music, but these are not serious people.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Give to a Good Cause

This, reported by KTVB.com, is simply unacceptable.

Strangers are stepping up to help the widow of a north Idaho veteran who received the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Vernon Baker died at his St. Maries home in July and will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1941, served and was wounded in World War II. Vernon was 90 years old.

But Baker’s wife of the last 17 years, Heidy Baker, can’t afford to attend the burial of her own husband’s ashes.

I will be donating to the cause. No CMH winner should ever go to his final resting place in Arlington without his family in attendance. I would feel ashamed if his service meant that little to us.

Read more about Vernon Baker here.

I will work to find information about donating after I’ve left work today. I will post details as they are available.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Congratulations to Ryan Frazier

In the Republican primary for the 7th Congressional District, Ryan Frazier won over Lang Sias. I look forward to doing everything I can to help Frazier win this race--I have complete faith and confidence in the man to represent us well. From the moment I met him a few years ago, while he was running here locally, I knew that he had the potential to be a big player at a much higher level.

It won’t be an easy fight against incumbent Ed Perlmutter, but it is a winnable race.

Read the rest. If you live in the area, consider signing up to help Frazier win this seat; he is a thoughtful and accomplished conservative and the kind of person who I will be proud to have represent us.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

So. Denver Broncos.

Lendale White signed with the Broncos, which doesn’t sit entirely well considering his personal issues and the fact that he can’t even play the first quarter of the season.

Doom is injured and the Broncos don’t seem to be talking about it. Which makes me nervous since it give the impression that this might be something serious.

It would appear that the football gods are still cranky with the Broncos. Which is surprising since you would think that Tim Tebow’s mere presence would ensure the favor of the football gods.

That’s Not Right

I was going to lead this story with something like this: “I found myself wondering if they had been inspired by So You Think You Can Dance.” Then I realized that it doesn’t really fit my mood right now; not that there isn’t room for humor, but that it isn’t how I want to see this story today. So, instead, this:

I continue to insist that I not only can judge other cultures, but I must judge them so that we maintain a clear-eyed understanding of what distinguishes us from them. We’re told we aren’t supposed to judge and we aren’t supposed to think in terms of us and them--I know this because, like the rest of you, it has been hammered into me from the time I was a child.

It just isn’t done. The problem is that what we were taught is wrong. It is vital for us to be honest and open about other cultures in the world--not in deifying or demonizing those cultures, but in being earnestly critical in the same way that I hope we consider our own culture and politics. With that said, imagine what I think about the culture that gives us a news story like this:

A group of young Muslim men have been publicly flogged in Sudan after they were convicted of wearing women’s clothes and make-up.

The court said the 19 men had broken Sudan’s strict public morality codes.

Police arrested them at a party where they were found dancing “in a womanly fashion”, the judge said.

We need to judge because we need to constantly remind ourselves of what it is that we value as a society and what it took to create something as grand and diverse as the United States of America.

Read the rest.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

So, Josh…

One find’s oneself wondering if Coach McDaniels finds himself missing one Mr. Hillis right about now...

Just sayin’...

Kidding aside, here’s hoping that Buckhalter and Moreno heal up well (and soon). And Tim Tebow watchers might want to take a look at that second link, too.

Football. I love football.


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