Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.
-Charles Mingus

“Our fully-functional solution is best-in-breed and its robust feature set will ensure maximum ROI!”

Great, what the heck does it do?

I made that up, but it’s not that much of an exaggeration.

I actively look for new opportunities, programs, and services for my company. I have to laugh at the language some companies use to describe their services. Man, just tell me what you do!

Start Competing with Counterfeits

This post on Lifehacker got me thinking about an idea I had for a while. The post compares the advantages of bootlegged movies over buying a legit copy. FBI warnings, movie previews, etc that you can’t skip.

It’s so true.

Nothing strikes this notion more than sports gear. A replica NFL jersey (a replica!) costs about $80 ($80!). Knock-offs cost $15-$20.

I bet any amount of money that they would sell more than 100% more if they cut that price in half. They’d probably sell 10x the jerseys if they sliced the price to 1/3.

The demand for the counterfeit gear should sound alarms. Not the counterfeiters fulfilling the demand!

They would not only get more people to buy who would have passed on a jersey all together, but they would put a serious cramp on the counterfeiters. Instead of playing whack-a-mole with Asian importers, they can compete on price. And sell a ton more–not only recapturing lost sales to counterfeiters.

Pricing is a funny thing. I used to work in the casual games industry. The going rate for a game when I started was $19.95. That’s getting up there. This was a free trial model. The conversion rate from free trial to buy was extremely low (a small fraction of a percent low). We ran a test once, and slashed prices in half. We more than doubled sales. More revenue when charging less! hmmmm Still though, I thought there was more room to cut. I thought $4.95 was the magic number. Where there is little or no cost resistance. Almost competing with the cost of a premium cup of coffee. At that rate, I bet there would have been 100x the sales.

I wonder how many companies do a true price sensitivity analysis.

Why punish your best customers?

Another Google Reader Annoyance

Fresh of my last post on why I refuse to use Buzz becaues it’s integrated with Reader (without the choice), I was reminded of another annoyance of Reader.

I like the recommended feeds feature, but once I say “no thanks,” that should be it. For good. Instead it keeps constantly recommending me the same feeds over and over and over. Enough!!!

It’s making the discovery of really good and NEW blogs slow and hard. I hardly use it because of this.

Also, I liked the “popular” feature that they had a few weeks ago. But they switched it back. They should have both.

Also, another thing about recommendations is that sometimes the feeds are too similar to what I’m already subscribed to. Lately I’ve been going through my feeds and only keeping one or two similar blogs. For example, both Mashable and Techcrunch cover the same things, so subscribing to both creates a lot of duplicate info. Adding more similar feeds would create even more duplicates. So my new motto is just follow one (or two at most) and trust that they cover what I need.

This is also why I’ve stopped following some people. Some people’s habits were to share similiar articles from different sources. I don’t need to read that Google Buzz launched from 10 different sources. One is enough thank you.

I refuse follow anyone in Buzz


Simply because Google won’t allow me the option to not also follow them in Reader. You see, Google assumes that if I choose to interact with someone on Buzz, that I want to also follow their shared items in Reader.

The result is duplicate noise. Too much for me to handle. I don’t need to see the same things in Buzz and Reader.

I prefer my Reader clean, so I can find articles from blogs I subscribe to quickly. I don’t want to sort through stuff my Buzz followees also share. Nine times out of ten, they are duplicates to what I’ve subscribed to anyway.

A simple solution is to provide an option to “also follow in Reader” or not. Or if you stop following someone in Reader, you should be able to “keep following in Buzz.”

Right now if I unfollow someone in Reader, it also unfollows in Buzz. And there doesn’t seem to be a way around this.

I wanted to give Buzz a legitimate shot, but this is a showstopper for me.

OPTIONS Google. Provide OPTIONS!

Don’t Over-complicate!

I’m not a huge fan of Seth Godin’s. I can’t put a finger on why. I say not a huge fan. I still care for what he says and thinks.

He’s been on this lizard brain thing lately. The premise is we all have a prehistoric part of our brain that makes us fear. Successful people overcome the impulses of the lizard brain.

I don’t know what to make of the science behind it, if there is science at all. Even if the whole thing is made up, there is still truth to the fear part. Confidence.

I kind of went off on a tangent there for a minute. What I was getting at is during Godin’s speeches about the lizard brain theory, he talks about his ability to ship. GET IT OUT THE DOOR!

Man o man it’s something I was always aware of, but since hearing it from him now I’m acutely aware of it. Great ideas get levels of complication, then doubt thrown on top of them. Suddenly an easy plan turns into a bear. JUST SHIP!

I don’t mean that care shouldn’t be involved. It’s important to put quality out there. And it’s important to put SOMETHING out there.

Just Execute!

Back when I was a kid, I had a disdain for anyone who would criticize athletes, coaches, and leaders. My underlying feeling was, “if you can do it better, then why don’t you go do it yourself.”

That kind of wore off, especially the view towards professional athletes. But a bit of it remains in me today.

I’m so sick and tired of the “fail” meme. You have a million and one people crying fail, but are they doing anything great? Are the companies they work for perfect?

Same is true for a lot of advice. Like the age old saying, “it’s easier said than done.”

Spare me the pitch, lets see how you execute.

Does Google “Get” Social

Orkut. Know it? Probably not. It’s Google’s version of Facebook.

Friend Connect. Know it? You may have seen it on a few sites. Do you remember what it was for? I run the http://nycbbb.com/ site, which should be a slam dunk for something like that. I had it on my site for almost a year, and got maybe 7 people to “join.” Then I couldn’t figure out how to leverage it even if more people joined. The only word I can think of to describe the feature is fractured. Compare that to nearly 600 people I got to become a fan of ours on Facebook–in a matter of weeks. Interacting with the fans on Facebook is easy.

Latitude. Does anyone use that for any real purpose? I sure don’t know anyone who even uses it at all. So I finally shut it off.

Buzz. Fitting name. Like an annoying fly it had proved to me to be highly annoying. I want it separate from e-mail all together. I really don’t think it’ll ever become popular like Facebook or Twitter.

I guess you have to be in it to win it so to speak. But Google hasn’t had any wins in the social space yet.

Update G1 Post and Apps Review

It’s been some time since I last wrote about my beloved G1 phone. Since my purchase when it first came out in October 2008, I’ve flip flopped many times from loving to hating it. Android version 1.6 stabilized a lot of issues. Then once it got turn by turn navigation, I’ve been completely content. I don’t think any device can be great at everything, and the G1 is good enough at the things that matter to me to keep me happy.

But there are still bugs:

  • The gmail app still opens up to deleted e-mails, instead of the inbox.
  • If the phone goes to sleep while sending an e-mail, sometimes the e-mail will be stuck in a sending state. It’s not in drafts either, so I have to rewrite and resend.
  • The camera is horrible, but I can live with it. I put this as a bug because it’s so bad that it could not be working as they originally wanted it to.

Those are my only real annoyances. Quite an improvement from what I’ve written about before.

And I still have a wishlist:

  • Integrate Gmail’s tasks with Android’s calendar.
  • Let the mobile version of Picasa show more than 100 pictures per album.
  • Integrate Google Bookmarks. This one has me completely baffled. Google Bookmarks should sync with Android’s bookmarks, and be available as an extension on Chrome. Seems like a no brainer, but it seems like Google is abandoning their Bookmarks. Will it be a casualty like Google Notebook?
  • Allow Android browser to edit Google Docs. I’m not sure what’s technically involved, but this one is another stunner.
  • The native Gmail app should be able to save attachments. Luckily there are apps available to do this.

This is also a smaller list than it was in the past! Is Google listening to me!? If so, please hire me. Oh but please let me work from home. I like the East Coast. But you do have an office in NYC right? Who am I talking to?

Now on to my apps reviews! To conserve space, I had to remove a lot of apps I didn’t use often or were there just for show. I ran into the out of space message too many times. It was time to make some cuts! $ indicates paid.

Google Maps: It’s listed as an app, so I’ll mention it. This could not be better. I love the new “labs” feature that has an arrow that points to the direction you’re facing. Turn by turn navigation is great. It’s very easy to punch up a location and get directions to there. I don’t know anyone who uses Latitude of Buzz besides my wife. So they are never used.

Advanced Task Killer: Kills apps that run in the background when you don’t want them to, which saves battery. Works like a charm.

AK Notepad: Decent note app. I hardly use it though. I prefer a pen and paper. Sorry. But it’s a keeper in case my pen ever runs out of ink.

Aldiko: Nice e-book reader. I just have to find good books to read. The free public domain offerings don’t cut it for me. I like modern fiction and non-fiction. So I have to find e-pub books to buy to really give this a true test.

AndFTP: I’m sure this will come in handy one day as I have 3 websites that I maintain. I kicked the tires. It works well. I just haven’t used it for real yet.

AnyCut: Uninstalled. I’m pretty sure earlier versions of Android didn’t have the shortcut making ability it does now. Now most handy shortcuts can be made my long pressing on the home screen. All the ones I need anyway.

aTrackDog: Uninstalled. Same fate as AnyCut. This was a great app for a long time to find apps with updates, but the Market app is now better at identifying apps that have updates.

Beelicious: Good app for saving bookmarks to Delicious. Works well. This would not be needed if Android would snyc with Google Bookmarks. E-mailing myself bookmarks I want to read on my PC later was becoming a chore. Dear Google, you are forcing me to use another service!

BistoMath: Great tip calculator. A keeper.

Bookmark Manager: Does the job of allowing you to rearrange the order of your browser bookmarks. Mark this down as another head-scratcher as to why this isn’t part of Android.

C25K: Awesome app to let you follow the couch to 5k running program. It worked wonders for me. I completed the program with help from this app. I fell off the wagon so hard, that I’ll need it again once the weather gets nicer!

Countdown Alarm: Pretty useful.

$ Car Locator: You mark your spot where you park your car, then help you find your car with a radar like map. I bought this app and haven’t used it yet. I know I will though. I had been using Google’s My Maps Editor to perform this function, but it was clunky to use and a space hog.

CardioTrainer: Another beauty for running training. It tracks your running route through GPS, gives you audible messaging on your pace and distance while letting music play in the background. When your done, you see how far you ran, the pace, and the map overlay. You can then save the routes to their website. Again, this will come in handy when I get back on track this upcoming spring!

Car Mode: The simplest yet most useful app. When enabled, it turns on speaker mode for all incoming and outgoing calls for hands free talking. I’ll never ever use an ear piece. Ever.

Compass: Pretty much a show and tell for me. It doesn’t take up a lot of room, so I’ll leave it.

$ Documents to Go: Word and Excel editor. Pretty handy. I got it on sale. I used it a few times, so it was money well spent.

Facebook: Pretty lame for a native app. It takes up a lot of room. I’m debating uninstalling it and just use their online interface. I am holding out for an update–but not holding my breath.

Google Finance: I don’t play the markets so this may come off my phone soon.

Foursquare: I wanted to see what this was all about. It probably stay on my phone long.

Google Sky Map: Show and tell. I can’t wait for a nice clear night to use this to identify all the stars and planets. This might come off soon…

Karl’s Mortgage Calculator: I’m a big fan of this and his site https://www.drcalculator.com/mortgage/. This will come in handy when I go to buy a new car soon.

Live Scores: Beats both Google’s Scoreboard and SportsTap, which I’ve tried and uninstalled.

NYC Bus and Subway Map: Will come in handy when and if I go into NYC. Doesn’t take up much space.

Pandora: Love this app. Matches and plays the music I want to hear. Beats both last.fm and imeem, which I’ve tries and uninstalled.

$ PhoneMyPC: Part show and tell. Part I will need it one day, but don’t know when. I wrote a while back that the G1 needs a gotomypc type app. The name alone should tell you. It allows you to remotely access your computer from your phone. It’s a little rough around the edges, but it works.

Qik: Allows you to livestream video from the phone. I used it once for my mother to see my son. But there was a long delay. This may come off the phone soon.

$ Scan2PDF: Bought and used once. It uses the camera to snap a pic and output it into PDF, which you can e-mail. It might come in handy one day.

Seesmic: Really nice free Twitter app that allows management of multiple accounts. Very well done. I’ve gone up and back, and even paid for twitter apps. All uninstalled in favor of this.

Shazam: Very cool for identifying music. It listens and tells you what song you’re listening to.

ShopSavvy: Never used. You can scan a barcode, then it bring us the best deals in the area using GPS. I actually tried it once in Lowes, and felt like a jerk trying to scan a finishing nailer’s barcode for a good 10 minutes. I think that fiasco was more of a result of the lousy camera, not the app.

The Weather Channel: It is what it is.

Toggle Settings: Love this app. Lets you set up profiles for one click setting changes. For example, work (mute phone, turn off wifi), home (turn on wifi and ringer), etc.

Google Voice: I’m not ready to abandon my cell number in favor of this and let this run everything. But I do selectively give out my Google Voice number, which comes in handy. I like the service and the app, I’m just not ready to go all in yet.

T-Mobile’s Visual Voicemail: Love this app, but does not work when WiFi is on. I don’t know why as that is an annoyance. But I live seeing the voice mail, and being able to click play and delete it without having to dial in to voicemail.

tCalendarWidget: Nice little widget app that displays the date in a small icon on your homescreen. So simple but very nice. Yet another headscratcher why it isn’t built in. The default calendar widget it big and clunky and lacks options.

$ Where’s My Droid: Lets you send a coded text message to your phone if you misplace it. It will then trigger the phone to ring at a high volume. It’ll turn the ringer on if it’s off. Luckily I haven’t misplaces my phone to use it.

Other apps that I tried but landed in the uninstalled heap:

Google Scoreboard – too clunky, sporadic updates.

SportsTap – battery hog

Google Goggles – extreme show and tell. No real use.

$ I Tweet! – Seesmic is better.

$ Keyguard Disabler – ok, but not needed.

$ Any Clip Pro – Good idea, I just never needed it.

$ Quickoffice – Documents to Go is far superior. I think the developer abandoned this app.

$ aHome – fluff

Realty Browser (Layar) – Big time show and tell. I like the augmented reality trend, but it failed to impress me too much.

T-Mobile My Account – I never needed this.

1Cast Video News – Never seemed to have up-to-date news.

Yelp – I like Yelp, but didn’t need the app.

twitdroid – Sessmic is better.

TV.com – not a lot of good content other than previews.

USA Today – likes the app, removed to save room. I use Google News webpage.

Google Places Directory – Would be a home run if the categories were accurate. It finds areas of interest using GPS. The problem is if you go into shopping, it will give you grocery and convenience stores. There are other mis-categorized business listings.

Amazon.com – not needed. Removed to save space. If I want to buy something, I’ll use my pc.

Where – Pretty cool app, just too big to justify keeping.

Evernote – Very nice but goes against my KISS standard for note taking apps.

Phew. Very long winded. I think that’s it. You can see I paid for a lot of apps I ended up uninstalling. None of them were too expensive, so there are no regrets.

Eating dogfood might be good for people who love eating dogfood

No, I have not gone mad.

“Eating one’s own dog food” is a phrase used to describe a company who uses the products it makes. They are essentially their own customer.

I had this thought at the tip of my tongue (or fingers), and one of my favorite blogs beat me to it. Outspoken Media touches on this in their latest post, How Listening To Your Bubble Costs You Money.

There are a lot of Google’s offerings and features of their offerings that are just plain weird. They don’t make much sense at all. I’m not alone. I read and post to their help forums. I see others with the same frustrations.

Perhaps Google employees, some of the most talented programmers there are, use products differently than your everyday lay user.

That’s my guess.

Who are they using to beta test? I would be an excellent beta tester for them. I know a lot about most of Google’s products. I’ve tried them all. And I become sheerly frustrated with some of them. GMail’s suggested completely unintuitive “all contacts” vs. “my contacts” feature. Reader’s automatically following of users you choose to follow in Buzz or “blogs I’m following.” GMail tasks not tightly integrated in Android’s calendar. I can go on an on. I’ve written about it before. I don’t enjoy dogfood.

I’m not a serial complainer. At least I don’t think. A lot of Google’s products are on the verge of greatness, but are one or two steps away–which they don’t seem to ever tie up.

Google Buzz. Will I Use It? Why I don’t use Wave.

It all depends on how widely it’s adopted by my social circle. I couldn’t wait to get a Wave invite. Once I did, I quickly signed up, sent invites to people I know. Then… Nothing. None of us use it.

I’m a fairly early adopter. Mainly to stay on top of and try new things. But things have to serve a real purpose for me. I don’t try something, then find a purpose for it. I usually try things that serve a real purpose. Wave alone, with no other friends using it, is useless. I assume my friends are like me and find no use for Wave. It’s a nonstarter.

When will it catch on?

I remember when I first signed up for AOL in the very beginning of it. At the time I felt like a computer geek for using it. I kind of was hesitant to tell people I went into chat rooms, because in the very beginning there was a negative stigma attached to it. Then one day I was talking to a friend who I least expected to use AOL, yet alone use a computer for anything. I thought right then, if this guy is on AOL then AOL is going to explode. And it did.

Similar “explosions” happened with other services and social networks I’m in. I can remember having a handful of LinkedIn connections and Facebook friends. Then suddenly, I was being bombarded with requests. They took off in my circle.

Some things will never take off in my circle. Wave is one of them. I wrote about adoption a while back. Wave is a communication preference in my opinion. A preference that relies on others adopting the same preference. If current communication channels (like e-mail) are working, then there is no reason to use Wave.

I foresee the same with Buzz. It’s a little clunky to use. It doesn’t fulfill a real need. My circle will probably not adopt it (rather they’ll stick with Facebook and Twitter). It’s just an extra. But I’ll be in there, to wait and see if it takes off.