A very funny Samsung washing machine ad, courtesy of my MIL. Watch till the very end:
A very funny Samsung washing machine ad, courtesy of my MIL. Watch till the very end:
Six “good” emails to 33 Spam….in one hour! Those lazy sons-of-bitches who won’t get a job, but have time to create havoc for everyone else! And I have to go through the spam because the filters also create a few false positives i.e., important and legitimate emails also get put into the spam folder.
A sure sign that competitors are afraid of you is when they start trash-talking you in the media. If you follow the tech sites, you’ll quickly observe that there’s about a 5 to 1 ratio of trash-talk about Apple from Samsung and other competitor biased writers. Think Justin Trudeau and the relentless Conservative attack ads.
I’m no techie…just a simple consumer of technology following the philosophy of “Let your needs guide your learning”, i.e., not into technology for its own sake but for what it can do for me.
I am now on my third iPad3 warranty replacement. It seemed to have trouble holding on to network connections. A simple phone call to Apple Support and I was speaking with a live person in 30 seconds. No transfer up the food chain. No need for purchase receipts, warranty claims, etc. They took my word for the problem, set up a Genius Bar appointment for me at the Apple Store same day, and sent the store a message to exchange the iPad yet again.
The “genius” and I decided that three units with the same problem was highly improbable, but he replaced it anyway. Just in case the problem was with the WiFi router, I bit the bullet and bought myself a 2T Apple Time Capsule with the built-in WiFi.
My previous WiFi router was about a year old. It took hours to set up, with lots of complexity….having to go into its software “guts” and read myriad indecipherable tech jargon and set equally mysterious settings. My wife’s iPad and netbook PC never could detect the printer on the network, so she would just email me her stuff and I would print it for her!
The Apple WiFi? Plug in the cord. Enter name and select password desired. Done. Everything works first shot….including my wife’s iPad, netbook, and all our other network-based equipment.
It has often been said that what Apple got right was the user experience. I would have to agree. From unwrapping the product, which comes packaged like fine jewellery and has the feel and “heft” of quality, to the interaction with Apple associates, to the seamlessness of the human/technology interface, Apple understood that we buy technology to use it, not be abused by it.
I have travelled a lot throughout my career. My mother was right: I should have been a medical doctor, then I wouldn’t have had to “chase” my living (but that’s another story for another time).
When I was a corporate honcho, I stayed in very expensive upscale hotels, e.g., the Intercontimental chain. As an entrepreneuer, with my own money, I’ve tended to stay at budget hotels (Holiday Inn Express, Sheraton 4 Points). On a project, I will usually follow the client’s hotel guidelines, which generally tend to the mid-upper range (Sheraton, Westin). I have also stayed in some “boutique” hotels, renovated or built along some innovative architectural concept.
I have come to realize that there are a series of mathematical relationships, both direct and inverse, related to hotel price and amenities. Here are a few for your consideration:
Just back from another 3-day trip to Toronto last night. I was in Vancouver last week and am back in TO next week. During my last two trips I’ve noticed a strange thing: I didn’t turn on my iPad even once. It’s unusual because I normally use my iPad to pick up emails, watch news, and read books. But, on these last trips I found myself using my iPhone for all these things; in fact, my iPhone has acquired many of the characterisitcs of an appendage, almost constantly in hand and glanced at every few seconds for new notifications of emails, text messages, time, weather, airline flight delays, etc.
This morning, we watched Canada AM’s coverage of the hunt for the Boston Marathon bombers through the strteets of various Boston suburbs. Instead of watching it on our large screen TV in the living room, my wife and I watched it on my iPhone at the dining room table while enjoying our morning Greek coffee and Guillaume croissants.
It struck me that I am ripe for a phablet; a phone sized somewhere between the iPhone 5 and the iPad mini. Samsung has them, but I’m leery to change platforms now. On the other hand, if Apple doesn’t come up with one soon, I’ll likley take the leap….yeah, it’s that significant.
The big problem now is that this new level of usage puts a huge strain on the iPhone 5′s tiny battery; it’s getting almost impossible to get through a whole day on one charge. So battery life will become a new selection criterion for me on my next purchase consideration.
Thanks to Mr. Italo for this find: A DIY bike kit by Dutch designer Jurgen Kuipers. Have a look at all the pictures, especially how it’s packaged.
Last year, I finally got “with it” and joined both LinkedIn and Facebook. Now it may be coincidence, but since that time, my ratio of spam to non-spam email has increased both gradually and exponentially. Today I took count: 80 business and personal emails (including legitimate ads), vs. 120 spam emails! Every time I look at my Inbox, for every 5 desired emails, if I look at my spam box, there are about 8 garbage emails. And the ratio is getting bigger by the day.
And of course, these follow me across platforms, so that I have to delete them on each device: My desktop, iPhone, and iPad. Adding insult to injury, I can’t just delete the whole batch, because the “filters” also capture legitimate emails.
I once read a tech guru writing on an IT site that spam threatens the very existence of email as a usable communication modality. Can you imagine when you get 1000 spam emails for every 10 legitimate ones? I can because I’m seeing it happen before my eyes.
iPhone apps are big business. There are hundreds of thousands in the iTunes store and they rely on a fascinating model of low price and very high volume for their success. After all, what’s 99 cents for an app, even if it turns out to be not so good? Of course, when 10 million people spend 99 cents, that’s a lot of money.
About half the 50 or so apps I’ve bought are pretty useless and I have removed them from my phone. I call these “crapps”.
Interestingly, some of the native iPhone apps are also turning out to be crapps. The iPhone Maps app has pretty much turned into a boondoggle, and I can’t see who could still be using this since the Google map app once again became available. It is so much better in every way.
Google also released its email app for the iPhone, once again demonstrating that simple is better, a concept one would have thought Apple would have mastered given that it’s the foundation of their success on the equipment/user experience side. But the iPhone email app is slow, cumbersome, and very resistant to user configuration. The Gmail app is lightning fast and easy to do batch deletes; a critical factor in today’s world of 10:1 spam ratios. It can of course, seek out emails from any provider and isn’t restricted to gmail addresses ( I don’t even use one).
To use a food metaphor (of course), I think that in the end, hardware and software are like making bread vs. pastry. In France, there are boulangers (bakers) and pattisiers (pastry makers) and the two rarely cross paths, each making what they do best.
There’s an extraordinary butcher shop in Montreal’s West island, which I used to frequent in the 80′s whenever I needed a really good steak for a special BBQ. The Austrian owner was “old school”, aging his beef on the hook an extra 21 days beyond the commercial norm. While his beef was absolutely melt-in-your-mouth, it was also pretty steep.
A few weeks ago, I decided to pay the shop a visit for a few great steaks. The old man has retired, turning the store over to his son. Looking around the meat counter, I noticed that there were tons of fresh and dried sausages, but no fresh meat. I asked the son (in his early 30′s), who, in his perfect business-school graduate terminology, said, “Oh, we don’t do fresh meat anymore, there’s no profit in it; you can’t add value to fresh meat”.
The concept of adding value is core to any business. The principle is fairly simple: Every time you transform something from its natural state, you have a chance to “add value” by creating something people want and at the same time charging more for it and at a higher profit margin. On one end of the spectrum you have fresh meat, which beyond the raising of the cow, its slaughter and delivery to distribution, is very close to its natural state. On the other end, you have sausages, that are ground, spiced, smoked, extruded into casings, and then aged or dried. The one pound of raw meat that cost $3 and sold for $5 can now be sold for $15 with a total cost of $4 including raw material, space, and labor. What was a $2 profit for the raw meat is now an $11 profit for the same meat plus expertise and labour.
The ultimate example of adding value is an iPhone. Five or six bucks of glass, metal, and plastic are transformed through technology and intellectual property into something worth $600.
When we acquired our Briard, Roxy, we made a commitment to feed her a diet closer to what would be appropriate for her biology and genetics. This means a diet mainly of raw meat plus some leftover vegetables and small amounts of leftover grain (oatmeal, bread, pasta, rice, etc.) from our own meals. Twice a month I buy a large sirloin butt from Costco at $3/lb., carve it up into cubes and freeze it into single serving pouches. It takes about 30 minutes twice a month. Total cost: About $70 a month. She has thrived on this regimen, and we have enjoyed the fact that she only poops once a day (a real advantage in a country where half the year is spent in cold, snow, and mud). A very high quality commercial dog food costs about $75 for a month’s supply, so the cost of feeding real meat is very comparable, if not cheaper.
But here’s the problem: On the rare occasions when we feed Roxy commercial dog food (if we’re traveling, or have run out of meat), she poops 5-6 times a day; massive Lincoln-logs that need several bags for pick up. That’s because in the process of adding value, there’s a lot of temptation and opportunity to cut cost by using lots of fillers that may sound healthful (peas, blueberries, flax, etc.), but in fact serve no other purpose that to dilute the most expensive component, the meat.
The math is pretty easy:
Meat is a lost leader for most stores (it brings people into the store because it’s a staple). Margins are small. For $100 of beef, a retailer will make about $15. The wholesaler will make $10, the packer (slaughterhouse) maybe $10, and the farmer perhaps another $10. That means that for $100 of beef you are getting about $55 worth of high quality protein at cost.
$100 worth of commercial dry dog food breaks down as follows: Retailer makes about $20, wholesaler about $10, manufacturer about $60. That leaves about $10 of material at cost, half of which is filler, so about $5 of meat protein. That’s it. When you feed dry commercial dog food, you are feeding your pet a few pennies of protein at each meal…..and picking up one helluva load of shit!
I’ve sat in a lot of corporate strategic planning sessions in many companies over the years. If there were ever a corporate “mantra” it would be this: The continuous revenue stream, aka, massive passive revenue. Frankly, selling something is exhausting. “From hero to zero” is a common expression among sales people, used to describe what happens just after you’ve made a sale. The accolades quickly die down and you’re expected to once again pick yourself up and go make the next sale.
The Holy Grail of sales and marketing has always been the creation of something that you only have to sell once and then the customer is obliged to keep buying on a never-ending merry-go-round. I’m not sure if you’ve quite realized it yet, but we have found that Holy Grail in the form of the ethereal electron which fuels our digital existence.
I own a number of apps on my various iDevices. I use the word “own” very cavalierly, because in fact, the only thing I own is a portal into a never-ending cycle of purchases, most automatically renewing and charged imperceptibly to my credit card. I physically own nothing. Oh, I have paid full-price for my purchases, but I don’t actually own anything beyond the device and the app used to create the portal to what are essentially rentals of services. I realized this yesterday as I sat on the airplane on the way home from Toronto, and settled in to read a book on my iPad Kindle app.
My many book “purchases” were there, but for some reason (the conservation of space I can only guess) the app had unloaded and archived them, making them no longer accessible. “Book not available” it said. “Please re-download”. But hey fellas, I’m on an airplane; there’s no internet access!! So I sat there for the hour and a half, listening to music instead. When I got home and tried to download the books back onto my device, it wouldn’t allow it, asking me instead to “deregister” my device, go back to Amazon.com, re-register the device, and then re-download all the books I had already purchased. After I had done this, all my books magically re-appeared in working order.
It struck me though, that the idea of buying something is nothing more than an illusion these days. Unless you are prepared to stay “old school” and just buy the “hard” version of everything, you are completely at the mercy of these new-generation rental agents who can give or take what you have purchased at their discretion. It’s all a little too Orwelian for me.
Tip: If you’re going to be traveling, make sure all your apps are up to date and working before you get on the plane.