July 31, 2008

Mahjongg and iPhone Apps

Filed under: Digital Distribution, Gadgets, Ideas — Robert John Ed @ 3:25 pm

I’ve downloaded a few more applications for my iPhone:

Mahjongg (Favorite by far)

Labyrinth (Great time waster)

Cube Runner (Cool flying game using motion sensor)

The really cool part?  They were all free!  And they all downloaded to my phone through the 3G connection.  So now syncing was needed.  That’s pretty impressive.

There is a lot up in the air (non pun) about these applications and making money.  But I’d go so far as to say that the iPhone will eventually be sold for $99 (that’s below manufacturing cost) and the real money will be made via applications and plans for Apple and whoever the provider is.  These machines will eventually get incredibly powerful.  AT&T would be wise to start looking at providing application provisions which are add-ons to existing plans.  Charging $2 per month for a productivity application, or something similar.

Of course, Apple has allowed for this wrinkle with their app store.  It’s still closed, despite offering an SDK to devs, they are still in charge of the parade.  This is a long term scenario, say, five years from now; but I would love to be able to subscribe to services.  I’d like them more free, but at the end of the month, getting a nice bill summing up ALL of my uses wouldn’t be a bad thing.

If only Apple had it’s own network, it could be raking in the dough.


July 30, 2008

Bloggers & Consultants: Marketing

Filed under: Ideas, Information Supernova, Media Origination, Personal Branding — Robert John Ed @ 2:52 pm

Scanning the RSS this morn and see that Hugh Macleod will potentially consult with Dell. His site evidently doesn’t have permalinks, so just scroll down to “Note to Dell.”

Consulting on what? I don’t know, and either does he apparently. Why would Dell go to someone when they aren’t even sure of what they want? Publicity? Hugh is a very prominent blogger:

Now I’m not saying that Dell would go to him only because he’s a prominent blogger. Hugh is incredibly intelligent (from what I’ve gathered in his writing) and well versed in all things interweb. What’s more, he’s interesting. In fact, he’s one of my favorite reads, and his success is well deserved in my mind.

He did some work with Microsoft a while back, entitled the Blue Monster that was trying to reinforce a mantra with the company.

Hugh draws cartoons. They are witty and fun to read. He has a great way of getting ideas across and I admire him for that. And his marketing knowledge is great (great meaning terms of scale). But here is the question, are companies hiring him for his marketing knowledge, for his whimsy, for his popularity in the blogosphere or something else entirely? Where and when do they decide that he is the man for the job?

Blogging has altered his existence. Why? He walks the walk on the daily. There are thousands of people just as smart as you. Just as smart as the person that actually got the job. So where is the difference? They walk the walk, every day. Hugh is in front of thousands of people daily. He’s there when someone runs into a problem. Do you think there’s any coincidence between these kinds of jobs? Do you think that Dell wouldn’t notice one of the most profitable companies on the planet working with a blogger? Do you think they didn’t see the publicity and ripples the pond accepted in reaction? Of course they did. It only takes one Senior VP to notice you, somehow, some way. And they are out there.

This is the world we live in today. It’s still the exception to the rule for consulting. But knowledge companies are changing their format. And maybe it’s not the companies so much as the entirety of the environment.

July 29, 2008

Uh Oh.

Filed under: Blog Explanations, Random — Robert John Ed @ 11:23 pm

It seems I’ve been breaking the not writing about marketing or business thing a lot.  Not sure what to make of that, but I’m pretty sure it is a result of working non stop on my company website and lounging.  An outlet perchance, persay, perhap?

Once a long time ago I had a blog on Myspace.  It was quite a pile.  I wrote a lot of creative free thought and meandering existential dramatized bullshit.  Bullshit may be a bit strong, but it was essentially an emo blog.  I kept it on the down low as well, because writing like that makes for vulnerability.  But a lot of stuff I wrote there was my better output in terms of creative writing.  Myspace sucks though.  So I deleted my account and built a website instead.

As I sit here waiting for the Twins game to start, I remembered a post on Bob Dylan that I wanted to go back and read.  AND I CAN’T FIND IT.  It is supposed to be saved in a large document on my computer, or flash drive or something.  I can’t find any of the writing I did on that emo blog anywhere.  This is very bad news.  That means I just lost about 18 months worth of creative writing, most of which was abstract thoughts, poetic conjecture and other meaningless drivel.  But it was my meaningless drivel.  :-/  Word to the wise, don’t be an idiot like me.

And I can’t go back.  I won’t start using this medium for that kind of writing, in fact, I don’t think I’ll go back to that kind of writing much at all.  The last three years of my life were incredible, and I was distraught through some of it.  Getting back those pieces and feelings is basically impossible.  SHIT!  Writing that in caps always makes me smile.  :-)  Cest la vie magnifique.

The picture?  A painting of Freewheelin’ in my living room.  That is what got me started on this whole tangent.  The premise coming from a post in the emo blog.  So I’ll paraphrase:

Dylan and his songs are like memoirs of my life written to me in real time.  One can only stare toward an elated horizon with an absolute inability to describe the beauty unfolding day after day, year after year.


Filed under: Personal Branding, Random — Robert John Ed @ 9:15 pm

Most people have a level of accessibility.  They are guarded up to a certain point of intimacy and then become much more transparent about their actions and thought process.

This is only to an extent.  We all keep some things to ourselves.  Well not everything.

Many people have a very low threshold for disclosure, many have an extremely high threshold.  How do you feel your personality is?  I feel that I’m relatively open to disclosure of my thought processes.  But I know I need to get better at it.  It allows people to see why you operate the way you do; it offers reason.  And reason offers understanding.

It may be worth taking a look in the mirror.  It may be worth doing things differently.

July 28, 2008

Hooooooooly Shit Balls!

Filed under: Ideas, Information Supernova, Personal Branding — Robert John Ed @ 5:04 pm

UPDATE: Cool way to make it easier to use; just click and drag the bookmark for the Spreeder into your Firefox bookmark area.  Now just highlight any area of text and click that button so the window opens preloaded with the text.  Shnooogans.

Oh man.  I’ve wanted to be a polymath for a while, and although I’ll never actually be one, this news makes me feel cool and really smart.

Via Digg:  Here is a site,  Spreeder, that allows for speed reading!  How it works:  essentially, you cut any large piece of information you want to read out of the web/document/whatevs and paste it into the Spreeder.

Set the words per minute to a certain speed (I recommend 400 to start, then amp up the frequency) and press play.  A flash torrent of words starts playing and you simply read them as they pop up.

Speed reading is possible for most people.  What this site is doing is presenting words too quickly for the mind to actually sub vocalize (which means sound out in your head before actually saying it).  When we read, we subconsciously sub vocalize every word, which slows us down immensely.  Our brain doesn’t need to sub vocalize in order to comprehend the mean and context of a word, it needs to sub vocalize in order to actually speak the word.  So we are wasting a lot of time sub vocalizing all the words we are reading.  There are actually some other ways to speed read, like blocking up the words and letting your mind subconsciously comprehend them.  I’ve tried that and it didn’t work well for me.

But this is realer than Real Deal Holyfield.  You’s a flea.

Give it a shot, it’s remarkable.  In fact, I deliberately wrote this post a little longer so you could copy and paste this in.  Do it!  Or even better grab something you’ve never read and put it in; then weigh how much you gained from reading it through the Spreeder.  Eh?  EH??  Mmmmm.  *Nodding head*

Oh, brave new world, such is that your beauty may never dim.

Constructive Criticism

Filed under: Emo (EQ), Personal Branding — Robert John Ed @ 2:35 pm

Still learning to handle this.  And I consider myself pretty good with criticism.

Here’s the thing.  No one likes to be critiqued, even when we know we need it.  But we do need it.  Having someone point out your flaws is like getting arm hairs plucked out one by one.  It hurts and is only made more excruciating for the intervals between yanks.  Yet without that critique, we fall short.  Our personal biases get in the way of us doing our jobs as well as we possibly can.

Synergy is needed in teams, and part of that synergy is accepting that we aren’t perfect.  That our efforts sometimes will need a little revision, editing and reinforcement from our peers.  I recently had an incident where I had to swallow my pride about some copy writing.  It wasn’t easy, but my initial piece wasn’t where it needed to be, it had to be redirected for a proactive call to action.  So I took the advice, scrapped it and rewrote everything.  And it worked.  The final product now is far superior to the first draft.  But that doesn’t mean it was an easy pill to swallow.  How can we force ourselves to be more open to interpretation?  Honestly?

We are usually our own biggest critics.  I know I am.  But when it comes to letting others join in the criticism, it’s much more difficult.  Just as we can complain and make derision laced tirades about our loved ones, we take exception to others thinking the right inclusive.  The same goes for our work; but that has to change.

Flip side:  Watch what you say in criticism.  The people you mean to encourage and provide positive/constructive feedback to are just as easily put off as yourself.  So framing your words and alterations in a positive light is needed.  Think about what you are critiquing and focus on the work.  No ad hominem stuff.  Focus on the work.  Also, be sure to point out the positive things.  Make note of a clever format, turn of phrase or informative and poignant paragraph.  Be open to the fact that you have personal biases in your critiques and they may not be shared by everyone (or anyone)!

You are not judge, jury and executioner of an idea.  Even if your title says otherwise.  We all slip up, and it’s a steep mountain we tread.

July 27, 2008

Just Blaise! (Pascal) + Some Gambling Thoughts

Filed under: Book Reviews, Philosophy — Robert John Ed @ 8:14 pm

Just completed Pascal’s Wager, a story about the prodigal Blaise Pascal and his many doings.

First off, the book is a well written piece that navigates relatively easy in context to the historical information being described.  Historical information is often not that intriguing to many of us; there are certainly those amongst us who do enjoy historical writings, but I’m not one of them.  And chances are either are you.  So finding books that can explain important people, events or ideas in compelling manner is a fresh breath of air  (Matthew Pearl also did this for me, although the veracity of his tales is lesser).

Blaise Pascal was a child prodigy.  He added some essential pieces to the work of Descartes at 16 (on conic sections, geometric understanding was in adolescence) after recreating much of the initial work of Euclid without ANY outside help, IE from scratch!  He also created the first arithmetic calculator, named for its creator the Pascaline.  He advocated the idea of a vacuum and did many demonstrations to prove it, though we now believe no perfect vacuums exist, he was a large part of the learning process.

Blaise was a frail young man, assailed always by insomnia, body ravaged from sickness, cold sweats, and an overall weakness.  His health was a constant cause of pain for him and most of his life was spent fighting it.

Perhaps his largest contribution to the modern day is the science of probability.  Observing gamblers, Blaise constructed rules for takeaways and established the odds.  Previous to this age no one had done such work and it significantly altered the way we looked at all kinds of phenomena.  The book was set more as a biography than anything, but this was the essential hook used to rope the readers in.  Pascal applied this idea of probability to theology.  Pascal’s Wager is the idea that given the choice of believing in God or not, it is only reasonable to believe, because there is everything to gain and extremely little to lose.  That’s a simple premise, deceptively so.  The argument rests with a two by two matrix of options in belief/nonbelief crossed with God existing and not existing.  People have been poking at the idea for a long time, many philosophers think it childish and laughable, but Pascal couldn’t be concerned with such.

There is something about life that is indescribeable.  Some of us know we are here for a reason and although we can’t always put a name to it, there is a certain mysticism surrounding us.  A life force.  But it is beyond our capability, and beyond our description.  It’s impossible to know how others feel and the way they see things, but the idea of efficacious grace sprouts up in the book and is worth thinking about.  In that, there are no proven answers.  And I have my doubts.  But I’m not an agnostic and certainly not an atheist.  But I’m still searching for understanding, which isn’t supplemented by big words and logical reason.

I’m going to investigate this idea more thoroughly by reading Pensees and a few other works of his, that provide a description in his own voice.  This book opened a floodgate and will probably have me looking a lot heavier at aspects of Christianity, starting with St. Augustine.

One last thing I thought was of note.  People think in terms of big numbers with averages.  For a coin flip, if you flip it a number of times, most people assume that the average will catch up.  The likelihood of this happening over an infinite amount of flips is true, but it is based on collosal numbers, which most gamblers can’t afford to sustain.

More important here is the realization that probability doesn’t change.  For a coin flip it’s always going to be 50/50, and to make recurring bets hoping that the long term will avenge your previous losses is a very fast road to going broke.  But it’s an easy mistake to make.

Gamblers chase the unknown much like a dog chases its own tail.  Even amongst material possessions, money and any other stake, their real loss is time.

July 26, 2008

Amazon Addict.

Filed under: Digital Distribution — Robert John Ed @ 1:34 am

“Hi Bob.”

“Hello.  I guess I don’t know why I’m here.  It’s not like this is really a problem for me.  I’m in control, for the most part.  Yeah, sure sometimes I’ll go off the deep end and order ten books on existentialism within an hour, but it’s not as if that’s the case ALL the time.  I mean, you guys, I can stop whenever I want…whenever I want…”

*Slow weeping…leads to outright sobs*

I am absolutely addicted to using Amazon (in cooperation with cross referencing Ebay) to buy books and music.  Lately, I’ve been buying more books, but that’s beyond the point.  Amazon OWNS my ass.  I’d give you a list of the books I’ve purchased in the last six months, but for fear of looking like an uppity douche, I’ll refrain.  Let’s just say that I’m stretching the limits of my budget.

What’s more, we’re talking about years worth of reading.  And beyond that, this is time I should legitimately be trying to learn and refine the French language, not studying philosophy.  When I move into my new place, I’m going to try to speak with someone about splitting a wireless for the tubes, but not get TV.  I don’t like TV anyway (except ESPN, History and Comedy Central; and of course Fox News.  Fair and Balanced, baby.)  So hopefully this will help me to burn through this mountain of unnecessary tangible literature (see, Kindle).  But I dig the physical feel of pages.  Whatevs.

Amazon, I salute you for creating a system that makes it incredibly easy to research and purchase products of all kinds.  For what it’s worth, I just bought a tube vacuum, site unseen for my new apartment over the web.  That’s impressive.  Kudos.

It’s the Joker!

Filed under: Blog Explanations, Random — Robert John Ed @ 1:18 am

Another day with relatively high traffic, and looking over the stats, searches for “Why So Serious?” seem to be bringing people in.

What I don’t understand is that when I do a manual search in Google of that term, I can’t even find my site.  It must be buried a loooooooong way down the tubes.  Yet there are still hits.  Long tail?  Long search tail?  Meh.

July 25, 2008

Organic Hits

I had a solid spike in traffic yesterday. A whopping 69 hits! For those of you who don’t do much analytical work in the web space (count me as a hobbyist) that’s not much. In fact, it’s pretty minuscule in comparison to some blogs out there. And that’s part of the gravy train.

But it is a jump none the less. So investigate, I did. (BTW I can’t tell you how frustrating it is not to illustrate some of my writing with a Yoda pic here and a company logo there…but WordPress is jobbing on me with the new picture formatting. That’s why pics on this blog are at the end of posts now. So lame. Digression…)

My first inclination was that writing on the iPhone (or ipwn, henceforth) gave me a quick spike in organic traffic. Well, after looking into the analytics a bit, there really isn’t anything that jumps out on that post.

I did get some extra traffic from people searching “Why…So…SERIOUS?!” for Batman. Teh good. But even more so is the long term Zappos search. For whatever reason, that little, itty bitty post on Zappos I did months ago has garnered the most views of any post and it’s not even close; we’re talking about 5:1 in terms of a ratio. That’s no anomaly. And it’s not because there are so many Zappos aficionados.

It stems from the NY Times/Boston Globe links that came in right after writing it. There are just as many people doing searches on the iPhone, Batman, etc. right now, but I don’t get traffic from them because Google’s spiders don’t give me much credit on those things. The major linkage from those bigger sites gives it to me on Zappos though. This is why sites like TechCrunch, GigaOM and others gain so much momentum, they are reliable sources of information and aggregate A LOT of traffic from being linked to so often.

This is very small but significant point. And one that most people (including me) involving themselves with the web already knew, but it’s the first time I’m really seeing actual results of it, and thought it worth mentioning.

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