Sunday, December 30, 2007

Same product, different prices

While finishing a load of laundry this morning, I had the TV on and up popped an ad for this amazing new product that can bond anything. I mean, ANYTHING. They're examples and demonstrations were impressive and it this miracle bonding product was cheap - two sticks for just $19.95. No, make that four sticks for $19.95 - they doubled the order. Sweet! But wait! Why double when you can triple! Yes, that's SIX sticks for just $19.95 (plus $8.95 shipping/handling).


Of course, the product is nothing new. Plumbers and handy men know the epoxy sticks well. Its cheap, easy to store and super easy to use. Bonds under water, has amazing strength when cured and can be easily sanded for a nice finish. You can find 4OZ sticks of this product at any hardware store, and find it online anywhere from $5.25 to $7 per stick.

If you happen to surf or windsurf, then you know this product by a different name. DingStick. I've holed boards sailing, came in, fixed the damage and was back out on the water in under 10 minutes. Great stuff. Of course, I just buy mine from a hardware store since I don't care to pay double for something just because its got a different name.

Marketing is an amazing trade. Taking the common and repackaging it into something "different" and being able to get a better price and margin for the exact name product(s).

We used to joke than when we'd go to a Gartner event, we raise our prices so that the enterprise IT guys would take us seriously. After all, how could an anti-spam system be effective that only cost $1999?? Strange but true - enterprise IT guys think that expensive means better. Then again, they get their power and control is based on the size of their budget and products like MailFoundry don't exactly burn through budget with our low cost.

Does your company have a product or service that has more value to a different market? Are you selling the same product to all markets when you could be selling custom products to multiple markets and garner better margins on some? Should we offer a "high end" version of MailFoundry to accelerate marketplace adoption in the Gartner space?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

My next Mac?

Take a MacBook, add a touch screen, GPS and modify the chasis to a tablet form and poof! You have the ModBook. Pretty decent configurations, though pricey. But for what you end up with, its an intriguing product for sure.

These were the hit of the MacWorld Expo last time around, and now they're claiming a ship date that's actually in a real-soon-now timeframe.

I think Axiotron screwed up. They're building the machine lots of folks want to have, but Apple's going to do it better. They had a window of opportunity since the announcement (which was the same day as the iPhone announcement) and now Apple is headed right in their direction for handheld OSX machine(s).

Which would you rather have, a third party mod, or a product direct from Cupertino?

UPDATE - someone else is having fun playing "what if" with the UMPC idea.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

It always comes down to revenue

In an earlier post about Facebook's valuation, I commented that unless they could monetize their user base, they were living in a bubble.

Fred was interviewed by BusinessWeek and was asked point blank what he thought Facebook was worth if he had to buy it today. The answer was $5B to $7B, roughly 1/3 the price Microsoft the others paid for the stock earlier this year.

While I think Fred's being pretty realistic, I think his number is high. He does nail it when defending his price that they need recurring, sustainable and growing revenues.

Friday, December 21, 2007


9 to 5 mac is claiming that at the upcoming MacWorld Expo, Apple will announce that iPhone sales have hit 5 million units.


I thought Steve might be sandbagging when he predicted that they'd sell 1 million this year, and 10 million iPhones next year.

So, if they've already sold 5 million, how many will they sell in 2008? 30 million?

Darwin foiled!

Last night while I was driving home, I could see the local rescue helo, Eagle III running a search pattern near the house over the bay. As a suspected, a few ice fishermen were out and a section of ice they were on broke free and they floated away. Luckily for them, their plight was seen by a resident on our road and 911 was called into action.

Every winter, before the water on the bay is fully frozen in thick ice, some idiots either go out fishing on the ice or go out on their snowmobiles. These two were lucky, even though they didn't even have a cell phone between them, they were pulled from their little ice island after about 2 hours by a rescue hovercraft.

Its sorry to think that soon they'll be pulling bodies from the water, and in the spring, this will all repeat again as the ice melts. Then there's a second wave of spring rescues as people venture out onto the bay in their canoes and kayaks when the air temps are in the 70's, but the water temps are still around 40.

I'm always amazed at when we pull some lucky soul from the water and he/she has absolutely NO idea as to the real danger their lives were in.

Sometimes Darwin wins, sometimes we foil him. I hate it when there's a missing body somewhere in the bay near the house. I always think I'm gonna be the one that finds it. (!)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The platform breakout of 2008

2008 is going to be a huge year for the iPhone (and iPod Touch). The news, development and sales growth/market adoption is going to literally explode in Q1 of 2008 and crank all year long. We're going to see massive pains for other handset phone and handheld computer makers as with the official release of the SDK, the iPhone/iPod Touch platform will run away from the status quo.

I'm not even going to speculate as to what sorts of apps we'll be seeing - but this isn't going to be restricted just to software. We're going to see new, innovative hardware as well.

This is going to have a large effect on overall Mac sales as well and when you look at Apple's growing marketshare, with people buying OSX machines, what does it matter if they bought a MacBook or an iPhone? They're BOTH OSX machines and the lines between devices start to blur as Apple defines a new set of rules in the "computer" game.

Last year Apple dropped "Computer" from their corporate name, and while 2007 laid the groundwork, 2008 is when the rubber really starts to meet the road.

Love the computers, hate the company

Today we have news that the Apple leak website, has been effectively shut down by Apple.

For those of you who don't know, ThinkSecret has been amazingly successful in leaking/exposing Apple product info over the years. While Apple has served them both take down and cease and desist notices over the years, the most recent lawsuit has resulted in a settlement that not only got the website owner off the hook, but he also had to terminate operations on the website.

Back in the 80's, we Apple hackers used to say of Apple, "Love the computers, hate the company." I have to admit I don't remember where this came from, but lately with all the goings on with the iPhone development and these sort of things, this old adage keeps popping back into my mind.

Am I down on Apple? Nope. Because Steve was right, I'd rather be a pirate than join the Navy. ;-)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Reverse play

I love it when things like this pop up. Qik lets users stream video FROM their cell phone to the net. Very cool. Lots of applications with this technology. Hmmm, live news as its happening, concert streaming, covert video? I sure hope its secure - what if someone could hack this and enable video or audio streaming from your phone without your knowledge?

Ok, fear mongering aside, its cool and I think this was long in coming.

Check it out here.

Why pay when its free?

Dash has finally announced pre-order availability for its Dash Express GPS unit. Its pretty nice looking (yeah, it looks like every other unit out there) but Dash comes with a subscription of $13/month for its data services for traffic, gas prices, etc.

Now, I think this is a cool unit. (here it comes, you know its coming) BUT....

I would NOT go into a business like this where your competitors are FREE. The Dash Express is essentially a dedicated Google maps appliance with a built in network. If you have a smartphone (and if you don't have one, you will soon), then this unit is redundant for you as Google Maps works on just about all smartphones out there.

Granted, Dash did it right, but the competition isn't other GPS's out there (same goes for you Garmin and Magellan), the real competitors to devices like this are the smartphones. GPS isn't just about navigation in your car. Its about personal navigation regardless of how you are mobile.

I kinda want a unit like this, but I can't bring myself to carry another device in my bag when my Treo does 90% of the same thing. (still waiting for that GPS+Google Maps tie in)

iPhone marketshare stories

There are a few stories running around about how the iPhone has snagged massive marketshare in Q3. Review of the numbers shows that this isn't MARKETSHARE but new unit sales.

Big difference.

At the time of the iPhone release/ship date, both RIM and Palm were selling around 750,000 units each per quarter, and have been doing so for 5-7 quarters. How the iPhone can sell just over 1M units and be considered to have gained a 27% marketshare in the smartphone market just doesn't compute.

There are roughly 5 to 7 million Palm based smartphones out there, combine that with another 6 to 8 million RIM devices - let alone a pile (est 3 million) of Symbian smartphones out there, the numbers for the iPhone just aren't there for an actual marketshare % as they quote.

However, in terms of NEW sales, I think the iPhone is probably doing quite well against its competitors.

Once Apple rolls out 3G data and the SDK, I believe that sales will really ramp.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Super Sunday!

In MVP form, Brett nailed the all time passing yards record and the Pack also clinched a first round bye in the playoffs. Excellent!

Now wouldn't it be great to see the Cowboys lose? (UPDATE : And they did! Sweetness!)

Speaking of win/lose, Miami finally pulls off a win. In overtime. (whew!)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Lights, Camera, Action!

This took longer than I thought, but the iPhone hackers out there are finally cracking the video recording barrier on the iPhone.

I wonder if the forthcoming SDK has these capabilities?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

My latest gadget

I present to you the Sanyo Xacti handheld video camera.

What's so special about this handheld video camera? Is it the 6 megapixel camera or the clear video? Perhaps the tape-less SD card used for recording/storage? Or is it the sweet design that makes it super easy to stash in your coat pocket?


For me, the killer feature is that this camera is waterproof. Yup, finally we have a high quality camera that I can haul all around the world, and then jump into the water with and record all the action going on around me.

I got mine from Amazon for $373. They have it in three colors, and it just so happened that this color was $80 cheaper than the white or baby blue ones.

The real only buzzkill on this camera is the proprietary USB cable for downloading your videos and images off of it. I'm always looking to reduce the cables and clutter in my bag, but this camera requires this special cable to work.

Oh well, its worth it. ;-)

2007 Google Adwords Gift

This year's Google Adwords gift arrived today. As silly as it might sound, I get excited when I see a package with the Google logo on it. The gifts are usually pretty cool every year, and every year is something different.

The package was a little small for another fleece blanket, or a oversized Google beach towel, and I was certain it wasn't another LCD picture frame.... So, what was it?

What I first thought was a business card holder turned out to be a credit card sized 2GB USB flash storage card! Very cool.

I thought the flip out connector was a cool touch.

But wait! There's more....

What looked like a card, well, it was a card. But with a nice little Google twist.

Google has partnered with such that all recipients of the Google Adwords gift can choose a school to receive books, art supplies, technology, or other resources.

These donations are targeted at low income communities.

Now that's way cool. Kudos to Google.

Government cover up!

Last weekend the Space Shuttle didn't launch - the culprit? NASA claims it was a faulty sensor.

I claim otherwise. After all, I have photographic proof! We're being invaded by giant spiders from Mars!!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


MailFoundry has been shortlisted as a finalist for the 2008 SC Magazine Awards for the Best Email Security Solution.

Congrats to the MailFoundry team!

They'll announce the final winners at the RSA Security Conference in San Francisco this April.

Hijacking on the open internet

I received a mass email for an upcoming Entrepreneur's event in Green Bay, and when I visited the website for the event, I was shocked to see that it reflected information from the 2006 event. Looking closer, there were some odd adverts for cars, written essays, naval rings and some unreadable Russian text. Suspicious, I clicked on to the agenda page, which was for the 2005 event. Down at the bottom were text ads for buying Levitra and another Russian link.

At first I thought their website was hacked, but this didn't smell like a hack. A quick check of the whois record for the domain and sure enough, the Green Bay Chamber of Commerce didn't renew the domain. Duh! I'd say it was hijacked, but how do you hijack an abandoned ship?

Almost all domain registrars have auto-renew to keep these little things from happening.

Are your important domains set to auto renew?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Tablet roundup

Macrumors has a nice little roundup about the possible forthcoming ultra-portable laptop from Apple.

Just to clarify - there's a difference between a tablet and an "ultra portable" laptop. Will we see one, both or neither?

I'm gonna be there again this year. If you are planning to be at MacWorld Expo 2008, drop me a line and lets connect! (first round of drinks are on me!)

Navizon for free

I've blogged out it in the past (back when I had my iPhone before I returned it) how much I liked Navizon, and now they're offering their low end (accurate up to 1/2 mile) version for free. If you've not used it before, there's no reason NOT to give it a try.

Seriously, go over to and get yourself all located up this holiday season. If you really like it, upgrade to the pay version.

Don't just spread the cheer, direct it to a lat/long of your choice! ;-)

Ad supported music streaming

Imeem finalized a deal with Universal Music for ad supported music streaming for its social community members, adding a 4th major label to the lineup. This addition brings it total available song count up to over 5 million - tantalizingly close to iTunes 6 million available songs.

What does this mean for Pandora which has (seemingly) struggled to get its streaming deals?

I have dinner tonight with a good friend from Pandora, and I'm sure this will be a hot topic for us.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

NFC North Champs!

Sweet! Too bad the Cowgirls eeeked out a win in the last seconds against the Lions. Bummer.

And in case you didn't notice, that other team keeps winning. Will someone please knock them off? (or do we have to go to the Super Bowl to do that?)

Photo from - go get your NFC North Champs hats, shirts, etc. at the Packers ProShop and you can still get your order before Christmas. What are you waiting for?!

Saturday, December 8, 2007


Now Cringely is jumping on the OSX tablet bandwagon in his latest post.

I just don't think we should call it a tablet. Tablets are so 1990.

Drop Acid

Yeah, this is really going to spark Zune sales. LOL

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Seth's spam

Seth posted today about his spam problem. Aptly titled, "When spam approaches infinity", he's finally given up on an unfiltered inbox, and had Yahoo turn on spam filtering on his email. His immediate false positive rate has been .5%, and he's none too happy.

Can you blame him?

Our determination to build an anti-spam system that's trusted by people like Seth is building more and more momentum as people get fed up of loosing important email to their spam filters.

Especially for small groups like Seth - that's why we offer our hosted anti-spam for FREE for groups/companies with 10 or less mailboxes. Go ahead, sign up and give it a try. (it's free!)

Email me and I'll send you a "spammers hate me" t-shirt. (while supplies last - I've got about 20)

Are you really secure?

This afternoon I'm on the security panel at the Atlanta ITEC show. I've been fortunate to be on this panel this fall at the various cities that ITEC has visited, and one thing is certain, IT folks really don't grasp the real security issues in their company.

Sure, they have firewalls, filters and even encryption, but many have no idea on the threat from data loss from USB sticks, iPod's or any other device that can connect to computers in their company and have some sort of storage on them. Heck, even a camera can mount as a storage device. And with a 2 or 4GB card in it, a lot of data can walk out the door.

Another major hole that folks don't think of is the security surrounding their PBX. Next time you are in the office on the weekend, check out the extension lights and see how many lines are in use when the office is closed. That will wake ya up! Got an old modem hanging off of a server somewhere? What about that PC that's driving your printer spool? That one came in from a vendor and its sitting on your network.(!)

When people are on the road, think about all the data that is on their laptop, in their bag or on their phone. What if it fell into the wrong hands? If laptops are reported stolen, etc. how quickly do you change passwords, VPN's, etc.?

I had an iPod stolen years back - and I used that iPod as a handy little backup of my laptop. HUGE MISTAKE. Changing everything was a royal pain in the ass, and you can bet I don't do stupid things like that again. I got lazy, and paid for it.

Ignite Chicago

Sorry for the late notice - I spaced on the date. Tonight in Chicago is the Ignite event and had I not been traveling, I'd make my way down there for it. See their website for more info.

December 6, 2007
Location: Debonair Social Club in Wicker Park at 1575 N Milwaukee Avenue.
RSVP: Register at

Harper Reed - skinnyCorp
Jason Fried - 37 Signals
Erin McKean - Oxford University Press
Matt Lincoln - Beer Brewer
Adrian Holovaty (tentative) - Chicago Crime & EveryBlock

The event agenda is as follows:
6pm — Ignite Content Begins
8pm — Ignite Talks Round 1 Begin
9:15pm — Ignite Talks Round 2 Begin

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Monday, December 3, 2007

mollusk mario embassy goldman

Looking at the message traffic for new spam outbreaks, I'm seeing a lot of messages which have been created with the intent to poison heuristic based anti-spam solutions, which can only mean one thing - the spammers are preparing for a flood of spam to hammer out.

One would think that pre-Christmas would be the optimal time for a spam burst, but the way that spammers think, you also have to take into account that they're targeting the week between Christmas and the new year for their little message avalanche. Why? Most staff will have this week off for vacation and there's better chances that they're message will get into user's inboxes as a result.

Yet another reason of the season not to use (or trust) heuristic based systems.

The image here is my favorite spam image so far this Christmas season. LOL

Someone else's problem

For the first time since 1994, I'm a tenant and not a landlord. In the past owning the building(s) that we operated out of made a lot of sense, but the continued opportunity cost in the past 4 years has changed my mode of thinking on this. The distractions not only on time, but also monetarily, dictated this change. Now we can better focus on our goals and objectives as a result.

The best part is that now when something goes wrong, I just call someone to tell them about it. And now the problem is dumped in their lap, not mine.

What are you dealing with on a recurring basis that's keeping you from focusing 100% on your job or business? What if you made it go away? How much more productive or successful could you and your team be?

What about the image on this post? No, we're not moving to Lambeau, but just up the street from the stadium. ;-)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A different experience

One of the things that is readily observable when I'm on the road at trade shows is the built in defense that the attendees have for marketing claims for products and services, especially in the email filtering space.

Everyone unanimously agrees that you don't trust performance claims by the manufacturer. Period. So much so, that when I joke about it, everyone smiles and nods. Really, everyone does.

Gee, why is that? Perhaps for the previous 5 or 6 years anti-spam companies have been overstating claims of what they're product does? No? Could that be the case? (anyone catch my sarcasm here?) ;-)

I'm not a sales guy. Yeah yeah, I'm out selling, but I'm a technology guy who's being an evangelist about my product. My enthusiasm is genuine, I look people in the eye when I talk to them and I'm open and honest about the product and our competitors.

My goal every time I get the opportunity to talk to someone is to have a conversation about the product, not stand on my soap box and just talk. I want to engage them in a productive conversation and my goal isn't to get them to order a unit on the spot. My goal is that sometime during our conversation, I earn their trust. And in turn, trust MailFoundry to handle they're most sensitive and valuable communications asset, their email. If I don't earn they're trust, I don't believe that we've earned the opportunity to have them as a customer.

As the fall schedule comes to a close in the next two weeks, I'll be examining how effective our efforts were for building end customer product demand and how the shows themselves performed and what we'll do in 2008.

One thing is certain, the more I get out and engage people, and put a face on the name of the company, the more successful we are. Mind you - this isn't about me. Not at all. This is about a different experience with a manufacturer. They're real people. So are we. We let them interact with us as people, not a anonymous customers to a faceless corporation. The product we produce is not the only thing that's a different experience.

The company itself should be a different experience.

Is your company just like everyone else? How do your customers really see you? What are you doing to shape and influence their experience?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


If you read my blog you know I'm a huge Google Maps fan. While returning to my hotel room this afternoon in Portland I happened to strike up a conversation with the person next to me and much to my surprise, she's a road crew tech for the company that does all the pictures you see in Google Maps. Very cool! Bummer that her car mate was stricken with stomach flu, but that's life on the road I guess.

The picture here is the Portland Convention Center in Google Maps which is where the show is this week.


Fred posts this morning that his brand image of Apple is "fear and loathing" and that this is "...not a great brand image"

Fred writes, "I am afraid to upgrade to a new version of iTunes because it might make my music and video unusable or it might brick my iPhone."

As for bricking Fred's iPhone - Fred, you've unlocked your iPhone and are using it with TMobile. Any problems stemming from that are YOUR problem, not Apple's. I've blogged about this in the past and forecasted that folks like Fred would whine about this.

"I have a brand new iPhone sitting right next to me on my desk that I can't figure out how to unlock and jailbreak now that it comes pre-loaded with 1.1.2 firmware. So it just sits there on my desk making me hate Apple more every day"

Again, this is Apple's problem?! Cripes man, get a grip! My beloved Treo doesn't work in Europe. Is that Palm's problem? Sprint's? What am I going to to, hate Palm?! I'm the idiot that bought the phone KNOWING that this was an issue. You bought an iPhone knowing that in order to use it the way YOU want to use it, you need to jailbreak it. And because you can't either 1) figure out how to do that, or 2) have the balls to run the jailbreak code for fear it will brick the iPhone, that's Apple's problem??

But wait, the best is yet to come...

"Apple is an old school company. Instead of forcing Verizon to open up like Google does, they make a sick consumer unfriendly deal with AT&T here in the states and then proceed to replicate it around the world. Thank god there are governments in other parts of the world that are willing to stand up for the rights of the consumer."

Uh, Fred, what "rights"??

Dude! I bought this killer 30mpg Mercedes R class and can you believe that they FORCE me to put diesel fuel in it?!! I mean, WTF! What about my rights!! I want to run unleaded premium gas in my car! And did you look inside?! There's no 8 track player?!? How will I play all my Seals and Croft 8 Tracks?!? Please, someone call the government and make them fix they're product!!

Ok, perhaps that was a little bit much, but its essentially the same as Fred's whine. Why people feel the need to turn to the government to fix things is beyond me.

Hmm, Market Forces 101 : If a product in the marketplace doesn't serve the market, then another product will come along to fill the void and serve the market better. If not, then perhaps this is something Fred needs to jump into, given he has the financial capability and he's an astute consumer in the marketplace.

Yeah, I'm not a fan of Apple's decision to marry the iPhone with AT&T. I think its a horrible decision that is holding back the growth of the iPhone in the US and while I (and Fred) don't agree with Apple's strategy, we can both just go pound sand and blog about it, whine about it and even throw ourselves on the floor and have a full out tantrum about it. What did I do about it? I gave my iPhone back and went back to my Treo.

Fred, I, as a consumer, have a right - and that right is my choice.

Not "choice" as in government should force them to provide me with a choice, but the power to choose.

I choose not to use an iPhone 'cause I didn't like a lot of things about it. And just because I don't like things about it doesn't give me the right to make Apple change. They can do what they want. Its their company, not mine. And no government in the world should have the right to force Apple to do anything about its products. Market forces will do that.

Fred's a smart guy. But why he believes he (and the rest of us) needs a government tit to suckle off of is beyond me. Perhaps he wasn't breast fed enough as a child? I have no freakin' idea.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Slow Company

The upcoming issue of Fast Company has a cover article that explores the exposure and possible downside of Apple's current position in the marketplace.

The writer is critical of Apple's ability to stay on top because, "In an age of convergence and simplification, customers are ever more insistent that computers, phones, TV, and music systems work together."

No, GEEKS are insistent that their products exhibit this type of behavior. The mass market is flocking to Apple because they're products WORK.

He continues, "Winning outright is a very tall order, of course. It means coming up with a self-contained system so beautifully functional that a critical mass of consumers are willing to enter that world and never leave."

Uh, dude - isn't that what Apple's done with the iPod?? Someone needs to hit this guy with a clue-by-four. And hard!

Not yet done, " But when you get down to it, the Apple phenomenon is as much about fashion as it is about technology. You might say that Steve Jobs is the Marc Jacobs of computers (minus the heroin), betting the house his products will be, season after season, cooler than anyone else’s. Yet fashion is, by definition, fickle. Lose the buzz, and you’ve got trouble. And for the first time in years, there are signs that Apple is not infallible and that Jobs’s reservoir of goodwill with his followers is not bottomless."

Apple's success is based on products that WORK, that also happen to look good. Other companies can make good looking products (ie. a nice looking Windows machine) but in the end, its still FLAWED and is doomed to exist along with crappier looking, but functionally equal products.

The "buzz" with Apple is form combined with function. That's the secret sauce. No real secret there mind you.

I looked and I don't see where Apple claimed to be infallible. If anything, they're the master of learning from their mistakes almost on a small business level, but with the ability to execute globally as the multi-billion dollar company that they are.

I know its cool to be a renegade, and in this case, to bash Apple. But the intellect here is about on par with a headline about Peary's conquest of the North Pole by saying, "Peary has no place else to go but south!"

Yeah, bloody brilliant insight.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Blast from the past

I was working on my MacBook Pro this weekend and stumbled across this picture from WAAAYYYYY back. Hmmm, lets see what's in the photo :

- My Apple ][e with my custom EFRom for, er, software security engineering testing. Yeah, that's what those were for. (I still have this machine in storage)
- 12" Amdek monitor. That thing killed!
- Applecat modem (those who know, well, you know)
- Sider 10MB hard drive - 27 lusty volumes of jet turbine sounding ProDOS goodness. (lower right of pic with the AT&T logo on it)
- My good friend (another David) driving - hell of a coder, now easily one of the best plastic surgeons in the country.
- 4:06 AM - another late night coding in the winter of 1985 at boarding school.
- note the print outs in front of David and the pen in his hand. Yeah, those were the days.
- See the blue handset on the monitor? Well, that was the handset off of the Applecat which was also wired into the payphone in the dorm basement. Somewhat problematic if I forgot to disconnect the line and the payphone rang with an incoming call...
- Oh, just noticed the Apple joystick next to the Sider in the lower right corner.

I don't even want to guess the music we were listening to that night. LOL

Ok, I think my geek rating just went up a few points. (sigh)

Apple's "Hobby" product

Steve has always said that the AppleTV product was more of a hobby than a full fledged product. This has lead to a lot of confusion in the marketplace, since if you've ever used it, its feature rich and works pretty damn well for a hobby product.

The reason its a hobby is that Apple didn't know really where this product would fall in terms of customer usage in the entertainment stack and with a household with iMac's and MacBooks's with video content on them. Its a really cool device, but its kinda riding the fence because it requires you to load or stream to it from another computer or laptop.

Now the time has come for AppleTV to move to version 2.0 and find its true place in the entertainment media spectrum. The largest addition to the platform will be the ability to directly access the iTunes store for ordering, downloading and streaming content ON DEMAND. The verdict is still out on its DVR capabilities and existing AppleTV's will be firmware upgradable for these new features.

Expect to see the new device this January at MacWorld and at CES.


Go ahead. Take the geek test. I dare ya.

How'd ya do?

I'm happy to report that I'm ONLY 61% geek.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

"We want Dallas!"

Today's Thanksgiving day game against Detroit is behind us. The Pack advances to 10-1, but the Cowgirls routed the Jets (no surprise there) and they also advance to 10-1. The stage is set for next Thursday's game in Dallas as these two teams get to hammer it out for 60 minutes to decide who gets to sit on top of the NFC. (Its the biggest game of the season, and thanks to the NFL, almost nobody will get to see it, unless you live in Green Bay, Milwaukee or Dallas. Oh yea, if you are one of the few thousand that subscribe to NFL network, you get it too.)

In the final minutes of a playoff game in 1997 in Lambeau Field, the entire stadium was chanting "We want Dallas! We want Dallas!". It raised the hair on the back of your neck. The atmosphere in the stadium was electric.

Next week, those 74,000+ fans are gonna get their wish.

UPDATE - somehow I missed this, but with the conference win over Detroit, we're on top of Dallas for the lead in the NFC. SWEET! (click for larger standings image)

(and as always, the picture on top is from, the standings image is from

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A winning strategy

Tonight there were 3 (UPDATE - 4 calls - see below) calls to the house from telemarketers that once you picked up, played an automatic message that put you on hold to wait for a live person. I hung up each time. (and its only 6:30pm, so I expect a few more calls! Light those lights!!)

Seriously, is this a winning strategy? Does telemarketing even work anymore? And as long as I'm asking, does fax spam work? I'd say we have at least one, if not two fax spams per day at the office. All of these various spams actually have a real world cost component as compared to email spam, so the folks involved really need to use winning strategies and techniques in order to get their ROI.

Calling someone only to put them on hold seriously can't increase their chances of actually selling you something.

It must work, 'cause they're still at it.

UPDATE - got a 4th call, so I stayed on the line and after 35 seconds, got a person. I asked him several times for the name of the company he was calling for, "Allied..." something or other, he was deliberately slurring the name since he was alert that I was PO'd. Upon the "remove my number from your database" request, he danced around the issue and then flat out told me that "since you are being uncooperative, I'm going to leave you on the list since I don't believe that you are responsible for the billing on this number." A-M-A-Z-I-N-G

What would you rather have?

With yesterday's announcement of the $399 Kindle eReader from Amazon, this morning's Engadget article begs the question - Which will sell better? The $399 Kindle, or this $399 laptop from Dell? Which features a 1.7ghz cpu, Windows XP, XGA display, 120GB hard drive, 1GB ram, DVD-R, ATI graphics card and 802.11g.

Monday, November 19, 2007

What does Lion taste like?

Sundays win against the Panthers put the Pack on top of the NFC tied with the Cowboys. They lead us though we're both 9-1 since we lost to the Bears, and I hope that loss doesn't come back to haunt us. This week the Pack travels to Detroit for a little Thanksgiving football. A win here could clinch the division for us as we'd be up by 5 games.

There was a great sign at the game on Sunday, "Today we eat Panthers, and on Thursday we'll eat Lions instead of Turkey". ;-)

Again, the photo here is from through the lens of Jim Biever.

If you want two tickets to the next home game on Dec 9 against the Raiders, I've got mine up on Ebay as I'm busy that day and can't make it to the game. GO PACK GO!


What do you get when you take this : (GM solar powered racer)

And crossbreed it with this? (Cirrus R22)

You get this! a 300 mpg "car" from Aptera.

I'm sure there's a market for it somewhere, provided it can pass the DOT safety requirements, etc. (with three wheels, is it really a car? Or a motorcycle?) On the design side, the wheel layout is like a classic taildragger aircraft, and those can be tricky to handle when on the ground.

This design is all about human transportation without any utility. Pure people mover, provided you only need two seats.

Kinda intriguing, eh?

Net it out

Ok, the Kindle's details are out - Engadget has decent coverage of the launch. (photo here is from Engadget, watermark and all) While Jeff is doing the expected "groundbreaking" and "paradigm shifting" crap in his demo, here's what I think is important in this announcement.

1. Bundled EVDO with no contract. Ok, this is cool. WAY COOL. But is it what it really is? Sure its EVDO, and as a end user you don't have a contract, but do you have full EVDO capabilities? I somehow doubt it. I'd expect that Amazon has a low bandwidth/usage agreement with Sprint with a up front payment structure with some sort of rev share on book sales, etc. The device isn't able to really consume data given its data formats. Jeff calls it "whispernet" which I think eludes to the low data consumption capabilities of the Kindle. I think hackers will dive into this to see what's really going on here - EVDO is just too cherry of a service not to find out what's under the hood. (also, I'm going to assume it has regular Sprint Vision data as well)

2. Lots of tech. The Kindle has a lot of little nice things on it - the reduction of which would bring the price down, but perhaps not enough to justify the omission? I dunno, I'm not in hardware deep enough to know the real costs of the slide bar display, etc. I think they could have built a low end version of this for $99 or so. This price point wouldn't leave any $$ for Sprint (assuming some of the cost of the unit goes to Sprint) but with a sub $100 price point, I'd bet that sales would benefit a healthy boost because, after all, Jeff is really interested in the ongoing book and subscription revenue. So, don't you want to maximize distribution of the reader?? Sure they could drop the price later - ala Apple and the iPhone price change, but Amazon should have learned a lesson there and opted to come out swinging and go take the emerging eBook market.

3. Email, blog reading, etc. are all internet centric items hinting at this device playing the middle ground between a true stand alone book reader and an internet device. Note I didn't say internet CAPABLE device, and there's a difference there. There's real use in the Kindle, but I'm not sure how smart that is, though it goes a long way to help justify the price of the product. It then begs the question as to how far should they take it? But how far can they take it? The display is the limiting factor here - no color and low res. (Assuming slow CPU and severely limited graphics capabilities) So where does that leave the Kindle in terms of real use as an internet device? Let alone a $399 device?

In the end, this is more than a book reader, but where will it carve out a market? Does it fit into my ubiquitous computing post from this morning? I think it wants to be - but the display and CPU is a deal killer.

Something I'm a fan of

A reader pointed out in email to me that in the recent posts that I'm quick to tell you what I'm not a fan of, and he asks, "So, what ARE you a fan of?"

With my posts about the iPhone and Kindle, while there's plenty I don't like about those devices, BUT! there's an undercurrent that I like and have been since I got into computers when I was a wee lad.

This weekend I found myself in Best Buy (hate that store, but ended up there because they were the only ones in town that had an Airport Express in stock) and I was on the verge of buying a handful of iPod Touch's. Why? Not for their music or video capability, but rather for their use as a low cost handheld wireless computer. With the forthcoming iPhone development initiative and the ongoing jailbreak/hacking on the platform, the Touch and the iPhone are two of the best products out there in terms of ubiquitous computing.

Sure there are Windows tablets out there. Heck, some guys even hacked MacBooks to be a touch tablet, but I'm looking for a low cost, small handheld in which the OS doesn't need to be worked with in order for users to use it.

Science Fiction has a neat social model for this - I'm referring to all the little tablets in Star Trek (TNG, DS9, etc.) ... they come in lots of shapes and sizes and nobody owns them. They are cheap, everywhere and disposable.

The Touch isn't perfect for this, but its really nice in terms of doing a little social experiments to see where it leads. Don't get me wrong, I don't think we're there yet, but I think we're headed there with products like this. There have been a few products that were close, but were missing some important ingredient - for example : Palm's last few tablets. They had the low cost part down pat, all they needed was wifi with the ability to run a browser like Opra, etc. and they could have nailed it years ago. I think the LifeDrive was a possibility, but they blew that as a near miss.

I think Apple is the best bet with their iPhone/Touch platform - and as many of you know, I'm still looking forward to Apple releasing the device that sits in the gap between the iPhone/Touch and the MacBook at MacWorld Expo in January.

Damn, there I go again. I'm such a tease. ;-)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Books rule

Tomorrow, Jeff Bezos and company will formally announce the Kindle. Its a rather ugly looking, but technologically adept electronic book reader. (sans backlighting) Its rumored (thanks to the FCC website) to have EVDO (Sprint), WiFi (Update - no WiFi), about 30 hours of reading operation and have access to close to 90,000 books at launch which should download in 2-3 minutes with the (rumored) connectivity. MSRP is $399 (again, rumored) and this is (rumored) supposed to include the EVDO service. Its also (rumored) to have email built in.

I'm thrilled to see built in EVDO, but its completely mismatched for the application (books). I think Amazon could easily get away with plain old wireless data - after all, we're talking text files here.

Funny, the device that SHOULD have EVDO (iPhone) doesn't, but this device that shouldn't, does. How ironic.

At $399, this device is near priced to low end PC laptops with WAY more capabilities. Do we assume that a bulk of the price is headed towards the wireless carrier (rumored to be Sprint)?

Nothing really makes business sense on this product.

The price is WAY too high. Who is it marketed towards? Can't be business travelers as I can't imagine anyone who wants to add another electronic gadget to the already overweight load of gear, plus its accessories. Home users? Doubt it. Elderly? Nope, eyesight problems with screens, let alone the technology hurdle. Kids? Yeah, right. Hmmm, who's left?

When it comes to reading, there's nothing better than a book. Turning pages, the feel of the paper, bookmarking with your boarding pass (a habit of mine) and the best part - no batteries or charging needed. Last time I checked, I never had that problem with a book.

Ok, I'm busted. I'm not, and never have been, a fan of eBooks. Its not that I don't think people like to read on their computer (ok, I do actually think people prefer books and print for recreational reading) but do we really need a new breed of specialized machines built just for this purpose? No way. Jeff should know better. IMHO - his personal stock is headed downward with this one. (I'm likening it to the stillborn Palm Foleo and how it changed
my personal view of Jeff Hawkins role as a visionary and technologist)

Now if Amazon gave them away for free .... there might be a business model in there someplace....

UPDATE - FSJ busted the Kindle on its design. (go figure)