Tuesday, July 27, 2010

CNN Money UX Fail

I'm sure many others hate the 1 per page lists that big news sites seem to push, forcing your reading experience into something that takes way too damn long, but this is just absolutely ridiculous:

The Media's Insatiable Hunger for RIM's Downfall

Why Everyone's Full of Shit and Should Just Shut Up Already About the Blackberry Failing

I find it ridiculous and incredibly annoying that there is a non-stop stream of articles being published by many top news sources (if you can believe that any truly exist anymore) about the death of Blackberry. I believe they've been releasing these for years now, or at least since I worked at RIM back in 2005. I remember thinking it was so weird to read the articles while working on the inside as they didn't seem to correlate with anything that was going on or actually happening within the company, it was like the authors were just making stuff up, or had a strong hate on for RIM, especially the Canadian press, who'd you'd think would support the country's giant!

What's the newest hubbub about? The United Arab Emirates doesn't think they are secure enough and are a security threat after failing to install shitty spy code that failed miserably? Boohoo, a 3rd world country with just under 7 million people, most of who make $1.20 an hour doesn't want Blackberry anymore, oh the lost business, oh the humanity! Sure Abu Dhabi has almost a million people and is really expensive, but still, what kind of business that relies on Blackberry is going to stand for the overpriced rent and then the loss of the use of their primary mobile communications tool (The one that the rest of the company globally will still be using)? I don't know if the UAE is threatening to just get rid of all Blackberries, or just what is used in the government, which would then be an inconsequential amount, but it's still overblown. Isn't that the country where women who get raped then get sent to jail because of it?

Anyways, enough ranting about the UAE, it's not going to be that significant a loss with all of the current expansion.

Here is what people don't seem to get:
Businesses already use Blackberry, and if you've ever worked in a big corporation, god help us if they decide to change a primary piece of technology that
  1. Everyone relies on
  2. Everyone already knows how to use
Many people will bitch and moan if they get their Blackberries taken away for even a day during a potential transition, despite how cool the iPhone looks. Getting a change that big in is huge and takes a long time and a lot of money to do, more so than makes it worth it. Perhaps the next wave of huge companies are starting today and using iPhones, but it's a little too hard to tell this early and will they outnumber the ones who still exist?

How many big companies do you know of that are still using IE6 for christ's sake? If they can't upgrade something that simple and vulnerable, how can they hope to get around to changing something a 1000 times more complex?

I'm pretty sure Blackberries are much cheaper in terms of data transfer due to the encryption you get, and not to mention that Blackberry is the most secure way to go, and there are people who are fanatical about having massive security in large corporations. Triple BES, word.

I can't speak for all corporations, but I'm sure many of them have most of the cool features people like locked out anyways. The policies are just too strong to ignore with Blackberry, do those exist within consumer oriented smartphones? Can you nuke your iPhone with one command from IT no matter where they are in the world?

The majority of people at huge companies are just too tech illiterate to know how to use new features of smart phones anyways (let alone their basic personal cell phones), even the training just on how to use the iphone would be monumental, not to mention the complaints of typing woes on a touchscreen.


Strong enough for a man, but made for a woman.

Sure you COULD use them, and smaller companies surely do, but you are going to have to pry the BB's out of the masses' cold dead fingers before we start seeing iPhones inside huge organizations. There is no cost justification to make the switch, and everyone is already established.

RIM may very well end up sucking at the consumer/prosumer market, but I don't think they are ever going to lose businesses in the short term, they just have way better technology and solutions to offer. They surely aren't going to go under. Journalists don't get this because they don't generally live in the environments where Blackberries thrive. They focus on the cool, on the masses, and on the hype, most of which is their own.

New York Times recently writes that RIM may be dying because 80% of the Fortune 100 is testing and deploying iPhones. What does that even mean? It probably means they are testing them because someone thought they were cool and wants to see if it's viable, but it doesn't mean they've switched or are going to. More than likely some guy high up in IT wanted a cool toy and Apple said here's a bunch for free, please test them (...so we can come up with good stats)!

Even if 80% of the Fortune 100 switches, there are more than 100 companies out there, and some have lots of employees! And having less apps? What does that have to do with anything related to a business using a Blackberry? if they need something specific they can buy or write it, 90% of the apps out there would be useless or disabled on the devices anyway! Talk about an e-peen competition when it doesn't even matter.

It just seems that there are some fundamental things that the Blackberry has going for it that the consumer/prosumer would never think about or care about, meaning they get overlooked by many people and writers, and those little things are really the deal breakers in large companies.

I want RIM to succeed, I want them to continue to bring in revenue for Canada, and I also want to see Apple crushed. I'd love to see Google do some nifty stuff too as I like them, but what they stand for doesn't exactly jive with big companies who are overly secretive to the point where they are too afraid to even use cloud services for non-confidential data.

Argue on the important points and I'll listen, but argue on the features of apples in a market that only cares about oranges is a fools game.

Ok, so lets assume for a second that everything I've spewed so far is mostly just unresearched bullshit and that Google and iPhone are both viable and have a similar or as good feature set that companies base their decisions on.

It still comes down to this: what do these other offerings provide that justifies the massive cost and disruption of re-evaluating, tearing out, integrating, training, and supporting these new phones? Make no mistake that this will be a humongous cost with lots of hurdles to jump through with unexpected difficulties. Are they going to win on cost advantage and what's the time frame for a return on investment? These new phones are not tried, tested and true, they aren't as trust worthy as the RIM brand, whether or not they are technically superior. I just can't imagine anyone in the corporate world being able to sell the benefits of this cost. It may seem small or stupid just to change over some phones, but nothing is small when it comes to big corp, everything takes months and years and way too many PMs. What about the contracts and licenses already paid for? Vendor relations?

So...am I completely full of shit too? Probably, but from my experiences it just doesn't seem to add up. Most of us reading this live in a bubble. We all have our own lens of perception, but it really comes down to money and risk, and in the backwards mixed up world of big corporations, that's all that truly seems to matter.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Twitter: The Slowest Biggest Startup Ever

For something so high tech and new, not to mention game changing, looking at Twitter's system updates is like looking into the lens of the past. It's like when big companies finally decide to use social media, but they are 2 years behind and just doing it because everyone else is. It just feels so weird, like what planet are they on, we've had this stuff forever and you are just rolling it out now...and to the website?! Who the HELL even uses the website? It's like using IE 6 to surf the internet, sure it can be done, but it's hella-inefficient and there are no tabs!

Yeah I know they are taking it slow to the party and then annoyingly eating up all the competition, killing businesses that capitalized on their slowness, but it seriously seems like they move at the speed of a company 100 times their size. I guess when you build a crappy platform that doesn't scale, you don't have much time to deal with everything else, and if you already have tons of money with no competition you don't really need to innovate either. Kind of reminds me of a number of big local companies...

Anyways, just wanted to point out the observation of how backwards they seem to what you might think without thinking. And yeah I know most people don't use some sort of Twitter Client...But man are they missing out!

Wikipedia: The Worlds Best Example of a Hypocrisy!

Trying to contribute to Wikipedia is like fighting a forever losing battle, incredibly frustrating and eventually not worth doing anymore.

This post is inspired by Brydon's current frustrations with Wikipedia.

You try to do things for seemingly valid reasons, enough so that you are actually inspired and motivated to actually get off your ass (not literally though) and do something about it, which is a stage most people never get to, and then after all that effort and gusto you smack flat into a brick wall. You have no dynamite, pickaxes, ladders, or shovels. You can only just keep running into the wall until you finally get tired of it and your face hurts too much. You turn around and shout FUCK IT, and you walk back down to the couch to grumble. I've heard that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome, well that my friends is contributing to Wikipedia.

Insanity is facing a wall of limitless fucktards who's only goal in life is to curate and stonewall everything you deem important out of the history books. And they don't do it for money, oh no, they do it for something far more compelling and powerful, their own sense of pride and accomplishment, their beliefs and ego, as well as their sense of justice.

You can never escape them and there are just too many to avoid detection. Sooner or later (but most likely instantly), your post will be removed, your additions edited away, and half the time they just write robots that assume everything you do is fake or from a bad IP and remove your shit anyways!

Wikipedia reminds me of that episode of South Park (#100) where Cartman explains that America is a country founded on the basis of saying on thing and doing another, a living hypocrisy. He says it's called eating your cake and having it too.

This is Wikipedia. It's open and free for the world to use! Anyone (yes even you, lowly scum) can go in and edit and add pages! TV shows make fun of how easy it is to change when people rely on it, scholars get mad at how the information is always false, but nobody can really change anything, save the select few who live off of the newscasts and research papers published. They own content, they own random subjects, and their life is making sure those pieces of virtual property doesn't get messed up! Nothing goes through without their approval, they are the landlord that doesn't have a life except to make yours miserable.

This is Wikipedia.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Rogers Continues to Prove They Are Major Dick Punchers

Hey Everybody, Netflix is coming to Canada!

Next Day:
Rogers lowers download limit!

Exec 1: Let's cash in guys and fuck everyone over some more!

Exec 2: Yes Lets! That's the ROGERS way!

Exec 3: Here Here! A Toast!

(board commences drinking martinis made of baby's blood and consumer tears)

Exec 4: Haha the best thing is that nobody will even notice because we are doing it so early! Man we are so fucking smart (siiiiipppppp)...so fucking smart...

Friday, July 16, 2010

If it sounds like BS...

For those of you who skipped that 4 Hour Work Week book because it sounded to full of BS to be worth reading, you'd find this amusing :)


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Another Twitter Shirt Meme Attempt...More Lessons Learned!

Wow, totally lamesauce! There's always competition on the Internet, even when it's localized and real-time!

Shortly after the quake I tweeted about how it was my first earthquake and got this reply about how I can say I survived the Quake, I rushed as fast as I could (using a slow work comp with an overworked lagging firefox) to make a shirt on CafePress for the lulz. It's been about 2 hours and I'm up to 498 clicks! Tons of retweets and hashtag comments. It's always fun to see how fast it spreads as I've done this once before here. I looked at a number of the retweeters and could tell a bunch were clearly connected to my network, and a few various others that seemed random. It would be cool to see some sort of weblike visualization and I'm sure there is a twitter app for that, but I'm just too lazy to sift through hundreds to find it.

I was about to comment on how it's interesting to see someone I follow retweet me through someone else who isn't following me, so I went to follow the trail and found it went dead 2 people in. I was like hunh? Wait, that's not even my link! Some other dude also made a shirt, but at another site (and with much better skill). Argh, he's a TO guy so he had a huge TO network retweeting it like mad and mucho facebook sharing (which I didn't want to bother spamming). I wonder if he had the same idea, or saw mine and rushed to copy it to compete/look original? Also saw a few replies with others who made shirts. I guess it's a popular meme! The difference in the slogans being that he called it the Toronto Quake, which just goes so well with this tweet:

Toronto's ego is having a hard time letting go of the fact that it wasn't the epicentre of the earthquake.

I guess I'll have to be even more original next time! I should have quickly registered the domain and made a music video instead >:( Goddamn work interfering with my spontaneous plans for 5 minutes of twitter fame!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Like daffodils in motherfucking spring.

What an awesome read, love it! LOVE IT!

Poser Propaganda!

So I was just reading the article: "Asian Anti-Piracy Campaign Kills Music Stars With Illegal Downloads" and was thinking that this is an interesting idea to solve a problem and that they are taking it to the extreme, kind of like those brutal texting ads(except those situations actually happen!). I wonder what artists think of this campaign? I'm sure if it's making them more money then they couldn't be happier!

Once I left the site, it dawned on me, wait this is incredibly stupid! It's almost insulting actually! If these record companies are implying that artists are actually dying or more importantly will stop making music because they can't afford to live off it anymore, than they aren't really artists or musicians at all, they are just fucking pop acts and rappers!

Here's the bands listed in the article: Madonna, White Stripes, and Amy Winehouse, to Blur, Gorillaz, and Kraftwerk.

Well there ya go!

If a band stops playing because people download their stuff too much then there is no fucking doubt that they are posers, they aren't doing it for the love or passion and/or they can't do it without big daddy studio paying for their autotunes and skank videos.

One day when musicians make literally nothing from their music, someone will find a way to make money from nothing, like the bards of old, and no one will remember the golden days, society will just be different by then.

On a completely unrelated note, I've spent over $900 on concerts this year alone...not including merch sales.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Obama knew it was gonna happen years ago...

Haha, betcha didn't think I'd ever be President one day, well Whoomp, There It Is!

Found here

Can be seen at 1:01 in the video here.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Steve Jobs: Just Like In The Movies!

This Happens in a Steve Jobs factory:
Reports suggest the dead man's family claims that he had been suffering from shortness of breath and collapsed following a 34-hour shift.
He claims it's not a sweatshop.

Here is a video clip of Steve Jobs and an employee from a movie called Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999).

Here is another great part of that clip.

Monday, May 31, 2010

TED Talks

I recently posted links to a few of my favourite TED talks, and I have a few more, if I could remember what they were! That is why I'm sharing them as I am too lazy to sign up at ted.com and use their favourite feature. At least this way you can also see what I like easily.

I'll post more as they randomly come up, they got some really good stuff there!

Dan Pink on the surprising science of motivation | Video on TED.com

One of my favourite TED Talks:

Dan Pink on the surprising science of motivation | Video on TED.com

Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action | Video on TED.com

One of my favourite TED Talks:

Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action | Video on TED.com

Daniel Kahneman: The riddle of experience vs. memory | Video on TED.com

One of my favourite TED Talks:

Daniel Kahneman: The riddle of experience vs. memory | Video on TED.com

more related info for research:

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Kobo Origins: A Great Community Manager Story + Classic Big Corp. Sucks Story (Don't they always go together?)

So I recently posted the Super Early Review of the Kobo, but I left out the story of how huge of an ordeal it was to get one!

Last Friday I won a contest hosted by the wonderful people at Red Canary! Around noon I DM'd them on twitter to get the details of how I could obtain my new prize! I must have thought for some reason that Trevor Stafford was some sort of Super Octopus to still be able to run as the Red Canary community manager in addition to his already numerous community manager roles and twitter accounts (not to mention he moved to Waterloo from Toronto)...

Turns out it was someone else in Toronto (so it couldn't be as convenient as going to the AC to pick it up!), a wonderful person by the name of Heather Holmes. She worked with me back and forth via twitter, email and phone to try and get me my Kobo as soon as possible as she realized shipping it to me might take awhile. I told her I was close to Chapters Waterloo and so she called to buy one over the phone so I could pick it up in the store. Unfortunately, it turns out you can't buy stuff over the phone with your credit card! #FAIL! Ridiculousness to the max aside, we were running out of options as I didn't want to wait for shipping or drive to Toronto (and Heather didn't want me to wait either!). The next solution was to just send me gift cards online, or e-certificates. So she goes and buys those online for me, told me I'd get 4 as she couldn't just state one price (again, go Chapters, woo!). An hour later I still didn't have them so I followed up to let her know the status, and she called them to find out what was going on. She remained incredibly helpful through the whole experience and went above and beyond what I expected! She calls Chapters and they say it should arrive in the next 6 hours! She's flabbergasted, and I'm shocked as well, but not surprised. You'd think sending an electronic gift certificate would be instant these days, you know with the technology and speed of light thing that most sites take advantage of, but no, not with Chapters, sorry! She apologized and kept in contact with me many times to help get me that Kobo, and I appreciated the dedication!

Nothing arrived that night (I checked my email a lot too!) and now it was the weekend meaning the Chapters monkeys weren't at work. Long weekend too mind you, luckily I was occupied anyways! Heather emailed me Tuesday morning bright and early saying they'd be in by Wednesday morning at the latest and was quite embarrassed for Chapters, and I can't blame her! luckily I got them by 11am, all 4 of em. I did go to research the comments on buyers of e-certificates and most the comments were over a year old, but they were all extremely negative saying it took weeks to get them and ruined everyone's plans, how could they possibly take that long?

So I open my emails to figure out how to use them and it turns out I can only use them to buy from online! I can't use them at a store and they are non-refundable! I also cannot buy online and just pick up from store stock. Great, so now I still have to order the device. I go to order the black one and I get free premium 2-4 day shipping, but it says next to the device (3-5 weeks). Hmm, which will it be? Turns out it was still 3 -5 weeks, and the 2 - 4 day shipping is on top of that, what a fucking pile of shit! Glad I didn't have to pay for premium shipping! Guaranteed arrival date was July 5th, and the current day was May 25th! I was leaving for Kenora on July 6th so if I missed delivery I would have probably missed the 5 day holding period too at the depot! I told Heather about the situation and she was blown away by all of this! She was on the phone with Chapters in a heartbeat and got me some more info. Apparently you can cancel within 50 minutes of ordering online, and then you can actually transfer your e-balance on to a gift card to use in a store! So I call customer service and luckily get in on first ring, no wait time, and had a great person to talk to who asked my story, was very understanding and helped me through the whole thing. She canceled my order with only a minute to go, was a close call, and she asked if I got the order email right as I got it too so I thought I was too late. Here's a funny detail I forgot, as soon as I bought the Kobo online I got an email confirming a purchase, but saying I will get the actual order number and details in 6 hours, so I was kind of flying blind when I called, could only give my email address!

So I finally have the money on my gift card that I luckily had found in my wallet, lest I would have had to go out and buy one, then go home to transfer it, then come back. Heather is excited that it worked and gives me the phone number of my local Chapters to call and make sure they are in stock before I go over there. The online stock said 2 so I wasn't going to call, but I called anyways for some reason as I did have that number conveniently in front of me, and I'm glad I did as I discovered that there was an online stock error! The woman on the phone at Chapters gives her condolences after I tell my whole tale of how I'm trying to get this device that I won and then she goes on and explains to me why it's such a great device and why I'd love it, which I appreciate as it seems the employees are passionate about the thing, but I didn't need to hear it as I was already getting one for sure! Turns out every store in KWC+G were sold out and no one knew when they were shipping or if their store would actually get any more units. They said it would actually be faster to order online as they are still building and shipping them and those people get priority over the stores. Great! I'm back at the July 5th if I still even get that date :S They said call each morning though to double check. So I'm looking all over Southern Ontario and these things are hard to find! I could probably get one if I drove an hour and back, but I didn't want to do that! I look back online and turns out the shipping is 1-2 weeks with a white unit versus 3-5 with the black. So I decided to just keep calling around and maybe taking a trip out somewhere on the weekend to go buy one and do something else at the same time.

The next morning I call all the KWC locations again, leaving Waterloo last, and my luck they actually said they had one white Kobo in stock! I reserved it and went to pick it up. I asked if they got a new shipment in and the cashier said no. I asked why there were none yesterday and how they got this magical one unit; she said someone ordered it to the store, it arrived, but they canceled their order! What luck!!!

So I got a white one, but I think I'm ok with it as it might be cooler in the sun, looks less like an iPad, and I think it would be easier on the eyes then the black one.

Heather was finally able to give the real congrats after that long journey and she was so incredibly helpful the whole way, a very dedicated person who went above and beyond to keep me happy. I can't really complain about the situation as it was a free gift and I tried to keep a humourous take on the whole thing with Heather along the way, giving her an easy out that I could just wait if I had to, but she stuck with it and was invested.

To make a long story short, Chapters has a few (to say the least) user experience issues to deal with (Heather mentioned she'd attempt to follow up personally with their UX team), but I must admit that the Chapters phone support was very good (Heather said her person was very helpful too). The staff I spoke to when calling the stores were also very helpful and took the time to explain how it all worked (manufacturing, shipping, ordering to store, etc.) and to give me the best options for getting a Kobo. The Kobos are selling like Wii-Fits (the new age proverbial hot-cakes) and are damn hard to get!

I have to say that Heather is a great successor to Trevor as the Community Manager for Red Canary and has not only met, but exceeded my expectations of what a good community manager does.

From one community manager to another: Thanks!

Kobo Super Early Review

Just wanted to post a quick update (who am I kidding, you know this thing is gonna be long when I write...) that I now own a Kobo, what an interesting device! It's not what you would expect from a regular handheld device and the technology of e-ink seems almost alien.

First off, it seems slow, not the response time of new shiny toys you are used to, but I don't know if that's because it's weak, it wants to preserve battery, or it's really this magical e-ink stuff that's taking the most time. When you see screens change, it is literally like watching someone redraw something new with an etch-a-sketch while the old stuff starts to be "shaken" away. I mean it's more instant than that, but for lines of text that's how it feels. It kind of flashes black on screen/page turns, but I figure that is a mechanism to help erase the old e-ink or something, but I imagine I'll get used to it.

I haven't really started reading anything much on it yet as I need to find a good book that I want to read, something to enthrall me and bring me back, more so than just the feel of a new toy in my hands. It's kind of like what I feel when I get a laptop, so excited to get it, then I open it up and start using it and it's just another computer like the rest, and I don't really have anything special I need to do with it or differently, so I just end up returning it.

The most crazy thing I must say is that this e-ink is semi-permanent yet doesn't "burn in". It just flies in the face of everything I'm used to, turning off a screen means it doesn't display anything, and leaving something on either means wasted energy/battery or burn-in. This "e-ink" can stay on the screen with no charge or power consumption (I think?). Let me explain it, I pull it out of the box, I see something written on the screen telling me to plug it in to install the app and charge it, so then I peel off the plastic screen cover and I'm confused as the label I just read didn't come with the plastic! Was there a second layer of plastic on the screen with those instructions? There didn't appear to be! This thing was just shipped, but god knows how long it was sitting around with no juice in the battery, or how long it could be sitting around in a stock room (in the far future where it's not selling like wii-fits). I notice that when I turn the thing off, it writes something to the screen like "Kobo: press power to read some more". It's really cool, but so goddamn weird because it makes me think it's still on! I turned it off and on again without realizing it as when you read a book and power down it puts the cover of the book on the screen and says in small at the bottom press power to continue reading. I thought I just pushed menu by accident, but no I did turn it off, then on again in my confusion. Pretty damn cool.

I was a little surprised on how it had no (real) instruction book and no instructions bundled with the desktop app, it was almost one of those explore the simple UI and you'll figure it out yourself kind of things, which confuses me as I imagine most of the people buying these things are somewhat tech illiterate. I mean sure they are buying new e-book readers, but these things are priced to sell and I imagine there is a mass population of older people out there who want a new convenience of reading but aren't necessarily tech savvy people. Suffice to say I actually had to google for the manual and view it myself to figure out how to use all the functions without having to experiment too much and miss out on key tricks. I was surprised to find that the manual wasn't even that friendly a read, and it was 42 pages which made me say whoa, that's big, but it turned out only the first 16.5 pages were real content, the rest was all legal mumbo-jumbo! Why would you package it all in one PDF in this day in age? More than half the content of the PDF was garbage to 99.9% of people reading, so put in a place people will look if they need to!

The reader is a little slow to browse/page through the library, but it gives you time to read what titles are on each page, and the hundred books that come with it seem like a good choice, my girlfriend was so pumped to see a lot of them. My time is limited enough though that I'd rather stick to reading things I want to read versus the bundled which may be good and I might enjoy, but that I have no time or will for. The review on that experience will come when it is experienced.

I did try uploading a PDF, it wasn't obvious how and was one of the reasons I got the Manual. When exploring the device on my computer I noticed there were no special folders listed (just adobe app & install crap), but apparently just drag and dropping files into root will do the trick. This particular PDF didn't fit the screen well any way, landscape or portrait. It will fit, but man is the text tiny, even for my hawk eyes. Making it bigger and readable means scrolling both horizontally and vertically and it doesn't work that well, would rather just read on computer or paper, and when you get to the end of a scroll it automatically moves to next page, so you have to be careful. 4 Steps the Epiphany will have to be read on my PC, oh well!

Apparently I can bluetooth sync my Kobo to work with phone and PC I think so I can read on any device anywhere and keep em synced up, probably won't try it though, doesn't make sense for my use case.

When in landscape mode, you'd think the menus and d-pad would change orientation as well, but they don't, which is too bad, but firmware updates could fix that.

Anyways it seems light enough with a soft quilted back thingy, I imagine it'll be nice to read, but still haven't given it the try it deserves yet, so I'll let you know how comfortable it is compared to a real book when I get the feel for it.

Also taking suggestions for good business/startup/entrepreneurship books!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Cheap for Cheapness's Sake

Sometimes you just get some great content out of the RFD forums!

The context around this pic is about someone complaining that the xbox360 only has 3 USB ports and not 4.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

On The Internet, No One Knows You're A Dog...Wait...

How Google Could Lose to Bing While Doing Everything Right!

I love Google,
I think their products are great, and I practically live off! Although some are just not right for me, I always have Gmail, Gcal, Greader, Gtalk and often Gdocs opened in FireFox. I use Google as my search engine, and I'm excited about getting into betas for new hot Google products that might be awesome.

I think about those around me, my friends, colleagues, and peers. Those who aren't too much younger would probably have had similar experiences, growing up under Microsoft's looming shadow, being afraid that if you misspoke of Bill Gates, a satellite would fire a laser down from the heavens and incinerate you; quietly dreaming of revolution. Now some of those people went off to live in Linux world, strongly heralding open source and free. They were the hackers and tinkerers, they found a new free world, not perfect, but theirs to construct. Then there were those who took the plunge into the overpriced and trendy MacWorld. They didn't generally play games so it wasn't a huge hurdle.

I always looked for reasonable alternatives that met my needs, but I couldn't go Linux, no matter how much I wanted to, and I wouldn't dare step into the hypocrisy of Apple. It doesn't matter how flashy your commercial is, being able to rip, burn and word process is still fucking lame no matter how you sex it up. I always had this notion of hating Microsoft (not only just because, but as they did cause a lot of grief with their products), and I knew a LOT of other people did, so I begrudgingly used their products and complained. There were no viable alternatives for me being a gamer and mass downloader. My first big taste of freedom was when FireFox was released and I made the switch. I became such a huge advocate of it (and to an extent I still am) and would urge others to switch out of crappy IE land. When I started going Google, I found it was great; a new saviour, huge and *Not Evil*. I was able to Rebel against the Microsoft and avoid using their products! I could use Firefox, I could use Gdocs(although Docs still has a few shortcomings), I could escape hotmail, msn messenger; I could start to live in the browser...a non Microsoft browser!

I don't really hate Microsoft anymore, I understand their business a lot better, their ISV system is brilliant, I love the Xbox and now they are starting to become something of an underdog, if you can believe that. There is a lot of talk of the encroaching market cap of Apple compared to Microsoft, there is increasing talk of Apple becoming the biggest, best, and most awesome company out there, and I hate it, I hate Apple with a passion brighter than a thousand suns. I hate what they do, what they stand for, how they act, and how they make their fans react. I'm actually more inclined to root for Microsoft just to make them come back and crush Apple, although I know it's not going to happen any time soon, I think it'll probably just get worse before it gets better.

I know in reality that Apple can never overtake Microsoft the way people think (or wish) they can. They absolutely need Microsoft; Apple is the more expensive and cool option, they aren't meant for everybody, and not everyone can afford it. There has to be a cheaper and more common option for them to price and position against. I'm also pretty sure the multi-billion dollar hardware market will want to fuck Apple's shit up for ruining their party.

Anyways, we all have our allegiances to one OS or another, to open source, sexy vs utility, etc. Think of how we grew up and got where we are today, how many of us broke out of the Microsoft shadow, we rebelled and found something cooler, something better, something more functional or elitest. It was generally "try to escape the giant and laugh as they die for being so shitty and aggravating and for ruining our lives".

A lot of us found Google and loved it, we knew what kind of company they are, their philosophies, their better products and we are happy with where we settled. But what about the children?

Funny enough type the phrase "won't somebody" into Google and look at the first auto-complete result!

I find it interesting to think we grew up as the children of the big, bad, unstoppable Microsoft, and we rebelled, maybe because we hated them, maybe because it was the cool thing to do, maybe because we wanted to be more unique, maybe we wanted to find a real contender with a better product, or maybe we just wanted to rebel (we were probably teens at the time if you are my age).

When children born now or several years ago grow up, what will they do? Will they see Google as the new Microsoft? Will they rebel to other offerings not as big? Maybe they'll go to Bing, "this 'Microsoft' company who's fighting to take it to Apple", seemingly a good cause, the underdog.

Even if Google appears to live the *Don't be Evil* mantra, much unlike Microsoft, kids and teens will rebel, they'll want to use something other than their parent's browsers, or what everyone else is doing. They won't realize we already went through that fight and picked the "good guys", they won't know the history, they'll just see Google is everywhere, Google is great, Mom, Dad, Teacher, they all love Google. "I think Google is over rated and stupid, lets find the new, true, winner! The real contender!" By this time, there will be enough speculation about what Google is secretly doing, that they really are *evil*, that they are fucking with counties (China, etc.) and trying to make too much information public. They'll be enough blog fodder out there to feed any paranoid conspiracy seeking kid's dreams. They might not know better, but they'll think they do (how many of you thought you were so much smarter at that age?) and they'll base their choices off of their perceptions.

Google will turn around one day and say What the Fuck?! Where did all of our traffic go and why is Bing growing? Who the hell likes or uses Microsoft? How can we possibly be facing the same problems they had? We all grew up under that shadow fighting to do it "right" from the start, to make up for their mistakes! We grew a monopoly-like giant, but with competitors, so it's ok. They'll be confused.

I wonder if this will happen. Does history repeat itself? Are teens always going to be "teens"? or will kids live in tubes sharing every moment of their physical activity on Google Physiology and loving it? Will they believe the stories told by their parents about Microsoft's tyranny?

It will be intriguing to find out, to see if the mighty can fall for no reason apart from a generation that is no more rebellious than the last, but much more empowered.

Monday, March 29, 2010

We be takin' Apps OLD SKOOL!

I apologize for what's about to follow:

Maaaan, Apps be the hottest shit yo! You can gettem on yo' iPhone, and now forz your BB, you see? Some whack assholes even be trying to push 'em for the Twitter!...THE TWITTER! But I bet you didn't see this comin' yallll!


say whaaat?!

That's right Homes, we takin' it back (waaaay back), right back to when you didn't even call em apps anymore because they's was all like just programs and shit. fer real?


Sorry for that, but when I see this new service called Smish (http://smi.sh/smish/smish/home/ WTF get a better home URL??), that's the only thing that plays in my head to make up for how ridiculous the concept is. I mean seriously, you are making an app store for a computer? Mobile devices? Those are so yesterday, it's time to bring those users home to their PC's because they're just too dumb to use the Internet and download real programs or buy software like we've been doing for the last 30 years. Time to buy a WordPress App on the PC app store because I can't go to Wordpress.com and download the free plugins or extensions or program suggestions. Time to download a million and one small useless apps to clutter up my PC when I can just use a full size browser and my favourites bar! Hmm maybe I'll download some new accelerometer app some guy made to..., oh wait...Damn my useless stationary overpowered full screened fast internet computer with an ever improving user experience and great input devices!

For those who can't figure out how to use anything but their phones, now you can make your full PC act like one! Tweetdeck, Word, Firefox, RSS readers, Email, Facebook, browser bookmarks, embedded web flash games, basic downloads and installs, eCommerce? Who can figure those complicated fuckers out! It's time to bring it all together into one Adobe Air app that uses a 1/4 of your desktop screen! I'm just not sure how they are going to download the Smish app without going to some sort of PC app marketplace, and if they make one, then we'll need another marketplace to download that marketplace, and then we've hit an infinite loop!

If you can figure out how to download the Smish App, you probably don't need Smish. Granted there are a lot of people out there who don't know how to use computers, but if you can use your phone that well, is there no transfer of technical knowledge?

Steam is great, Impulse is a clone with some more desktop software, but obviously those are more game focused and are great for what they do, they make sense, but Smish? Seriously?

The sad thing is that probably a ton of people will download and use it, and the next thing you know we are all asking ourselves why don't we just fashion a Smish OS out of Linux and beat their pants off? We can package it with underpowered notebooks and cool looking but discount PCs!

How the F did they get $4,000,000 in funding? Is it any wonder why they didn't detail where it came from? And now they are making it easy so developers can transfer iPhone apps into PC apps! What a world! What a fucking world! Aren't iPhone apps made to not use Flash, but PCs can easily support it?

Let's see: SmartPhones were made to be like mini-computers, but since they sucked we were forced to make hard to install programs that work with limited processing power, screen size, input functionality, and bandwidth, basically "Apps" that are underpowered versions of what you can already do on your computer. App stores came to be as an easy way to distribute, install and earn revenue from your hard porting and constraining work. Sure you can do some cool new stuff now that you have access to a GPS and accelerometer, but really, why would you then want to port these already gimped apps back onto a fully fledged system where in 95% of the time they would get no value from the GPS or accelerometer because they don't exist on that machine? Why would you want to pay for things that are free and share all your personal information with Smish through their Adobe Air app so they can resell it to marketers and ad firms?

It's like staying in a tiny Japanese hotel room, then going home to your 5 bedroom house, building a replica of that small hotel room in your house, then only living in that, ignoring the rest of your house (and you have to pay for all the renovation and addition of plumbing).

An app store running on a system that lets you freely and easily download and run apps where everyone already knows how to do it, how Meta! It's like the guy who decided to start selling bottled water, perhaps I'll start selling Canned Air!

I don't know what more to say right now other than Wow!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

How to promote a cool web service and show off how you are better than everyone at the same time!

Ok, so yesterday I saw some Lifehacker link to this cool sounding service, Preceden, which lets you chart timelines easily in an attractive manner. It sounded like something I could use for fun and business! So I scroll down the home page to take a peek at the goods and lo and behold, was an example timeline! It looked cool and had lots of stuff that lets you scroll to see more information.

I noticed that it was called "Autobiography" and figured this must be the founders own actual timeline, lets investigate a little closer to see how I match up to this guy! I could see right off the bat he was your typical smart guy U.S.A. startup scene techie, as he lived in Boston and San Francisco, and I also saw the comp sci masters! I can see he started dating some Jennifer, then got engaged and married after graduating...how typical, seems like the story of so many people these days and days past. Let's see when he got his start and how old he is; I scroll back a few years.

WTF? This guy's just a kid who was born a year later than me!? (ok, maybe 6 months, but still 84 to 85!) ...Something doesn't seem right, he's already got his masters and he is married and he's younger than me? WTF is that? I scroll back and notice that some how this kid started University in the motherfucking year 2000! I was near the top of my class through high school but at that point I (and some way way smarter friends[top UW engineers]) were still only going into grade 11 when he started, and then he's fucking done his Masters before I'm even done my undergrad?! Then he gets married? Well, I guess we've found one of those smart super kids or something who got into MIT at a young age I guess. Now I know those people exist out there, I've never met them and I mostly try to believe they don't exist, or if I do meet them, I'd just rather not know, but this just pisses me off! And to boot, somehow in the middle of his undergrad he took almost a complete year of vacation in Poland and still finished on time? Then he stays in Netherlands for at least a month or 2 right after getting married? Man that sure would be nice!

I wouldn't care if he made this site and was the same age as me or a year younger, but knowing that he's some super whiz kid to boot who's been all over the world doesn't make me as happy to try it out. The fact that he used his own life on the home page as an example either tells us two things: he didn't think much of it and didn't realize that he might alienate early adopters who think they're pretty awesome only to find out they suck compared to him OR he knows and wants to sneak it in there in a subtle and innocent way, such as using his own life as an example, like most of us might do!

It makes me feel like despite all that I believe I've accomplished so far I'm still nowhere near where this kid's at in life and he's younger than me! Now I don't think "I'm all that", I understand there are tons of far smarter and more ambitious people out there, and I'm fairly happy with where I'm at so far, but I don't think that most people like to run into those individuals who are seemingly so far ahead in certain ways that it just seems impossible! I'm sure there are much more successful systems I use everyday made by people like this kid, but they don't usually put it out there and let me know.

I think what bothers me as well is that it's just another example of some super whiz kid in the States who gets swept into the Valley and is seemingly successful, continuing to perpetuate the mythos of how super duper the Valley is and that's where all the great people go. As 90% of the stuff I read is startup related, and 90% of that is all about people in the Valley or from the Valley, it just makes it seem even more compelling than I know it actually is. I love Waterloo and want this to be a great place for startups; our own "Valley" in Canada. I know some people like to say that it is, but others who've been there know better and say it hardly compares.

I just did a bit of research and found the founder online, and it looks like he's always been some smart hacker kid and got to go through the Y-Combinator school (which would make most young entrepreneurs very jealous!). I don't actually hate this kid or anything, he seems very successful and I just wish that I could be that far ahead as well, I just don't like the (potentially) inadvertent boasting in this autobiography on his front page that when dug into seems unrealistic at first, but turns out to actually be true! No one likes having their bubble burst, and most people wouldn't care to know that kid invented that site, but it's a reminder to me that these are the types of people who I'm going to have to compete with on a daily basis when I go into business.

I want to show people that I can be just as successful* up here in Canada, far away from the Valley, and that I can do it despite not having a comp sci masters, multi-continent experience, and a wife by the age of 22.

It's a big world out there, and there are lots of smart and successful people, you just gotta be who you are and keep pushing for the top!

* I realize this kid hasn't actually hit it big yet, but I can see that he's very firmly planted on the roadway to getting there

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Most Pathetic and Hilarious Commercial Ever!

I almost died laughing last night, and so did Sarah.
We were watching TV (very rarely do this live), so I experienced some commercials, some horrible, some just goddamn awesome!

First the warm-up, there were 2 commercials that were fairly awesome, although I can't remember what the second one was for.

The first one was about Scotch-Koreans and Starburst as a contradiction, and now as I Google it I realize it's been out for awhile, but nonetheless a good change from the regular crap. The commercial is found here.

The second one is hard to find because I can't really remember it, apart from some guy stuck in a tube on a gameshow talking about his cell phone contract I think, and then dancing Indian women and a guy from a completely different country/culture. I think he was talking to call techs from India in some sort of gameshow.

Anyways, on to the truly classic stuff, and I wish, I really do, that I could find this commercial online, but I just can't (it might be quite new and time sensitive).
EDIT: FOUND IT!!!! Horrible quality, but it's here! (I think they changed the Walmart talking part in this one so it sounds a lot longer)

The commercial starts and there is some young girl, a tween, and her mom on a couch leaning forward, really intently watching some movie, it zooms to the girl's face and tears are running down her cheeks, and she whispers, almost trembling, "I Love You" along with the voice in the tv. The commercial than zooms out and says: "Twilight: New Moon, coming to Walmart at 12:01 am date x!" and then the commercial ends! That's it, it was like 15 seconds, and there was no joke!!!

I was just waiting for something stupid to happen, for someone to mock her or make fun of her, or for there to be some sort twist, but there wasn't! That was just it, that was the commercial! It was just some little girl who was so pathetically giving her life into this movie, crying and taking on the role (of either the male professing his feelings or the female shell returning it) whispering "I Love You". I was waiting for the parody in the commercial, it felt so much like it deserved to exist and it took me a few seconds to laugh the first time I watched it, because I didn't know what hit me, I had to take time to process what actually just happened; and I believe the marketers at Walmart have outdone themselves! They've in fact created a parody of life itself, so true, yet so sad, and they managed to put it on prime time television without anyone noticing! They sold a dream to young tweens, an outlet for them to play out their fantasies and not be alone. They've found a way to pull moms and their kids out to midnight madness sales for the release of this dvd/bluray. I think anyone outside the intended audience would die laughing, such as myself, realizing that there was no kicker, they are just blatantly pointing out how utterly pathetic these kids look! For Profit! And they are trying to be completely serious about it!

They really seem to be shamelessly pushing for that emotional buy combined with an opportunity for fangirlism to the extreme at a midnight release!

I was truly delighted to see Sarah's reation, it was so great, she watched it, and about 5 seconds into the next commercial she just started laughing uncontrollably, and it kept going, I could feel her catch on that that was it, that the commercial was over and there was no kicker, it was just that sad display! It is truly something to marvel at, and again I wish I could link to it, but I cannot find it. If you find it, please post it in the comments! I'm wondering if it may be more funny viewed live, because you cannot believe your eyes and it's mixed in with other real commercials.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Into Heavy Metal and Twitter?

I'm a huge Metalhead, and that's no secret! Most people can tell by looking at me or by my multitude of tour shirts I wear when not at work. Well, as a huge user of Twitter, I've been a part of the #Metal community for awhile and I'm always looking for ways to enhance it. This lead me to many adventures and one particularly great endeavour that resulted in quite the acquisition (if I do say so myself!).

I am now the proprietor and operator of the World's first, only, and >>BEST<< Heavy Metal URL Shortener!

Akin to the likes of bit.ly, is.gd, and tinyurl who provide much of the shortening of links via Twitter, I have brought Met.al to the list!

If you are a Metalhead, please feel free to make use of it, and if you know of any other Metalheads, please share the word!

The site features a bookmarklet for shortening pages on the fly, and now we have released a WordPress plugin which upon publishing a new post will automatically shorten the URL and tweet it for you along with the post's title and any other information you choose! We even have an API you can take advantage of!

So far it's been a pretty big success I think and more and more people are starting to use it.

Anyways I realize I haven't posted in awhile, and just wanted to keep some of you in the loop as to what I'm up to.

For those of you who are curious, I have tried to get the domain metal.com, the owner is currently a rich lawyer who runs his own firm, he said when I can make him an offer in the low six digits, he'll talk!

I'll write another post one day about how I obtained the Met.al URL, it wasn't easy and took a long time, but totally worth it!