Friday, November 28, 2008

From the other side of the fence...

Great logos don't just happen. A great logo is like an overnight success. The backroom activities, the silent arguing, and the long, dedicated hours to the craft finally get noticed. And popularity ensues. And on reading the interview, the industry term would be "mark" and not logo.

The company responsible for the mark, Mode, made some good comments about their process. And although the mark was created "quickly," it still took two weeks.

From Logo Design Love blog:

Steven Heller: How many iterations did you go through before deciding on this “O”? Was it your first idea?

Sol Sender: We actually presented seven or eight options in the first round, and the one that was ultimately chosen was among these. In terms of our internal process, though, I believe the logo — as we now know it — came out of a second round of design explorations. At any rate, it happened quite quickly, all things considered. The entire undertaking took less than two weeks.

Read the full interview here in the New York Times.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Well isn't that special?

I did an online survey for CBS, figured that's the least I can do since I watch some shows on there. Seemed a little long, and definitely NOT written by an English major.

One question asked if I remembered any advertisements during the show. Hmmm. Nope. I switch (alt + tab) to FreeCell during commercials, or I read a blog or two. I'm a pretty passive viewer.

Another question asked if there were ways to improve the viewing experience. Yup. Make it more like Video pop-outs, dim the "lights" (browser), etc. Oh, and put Big Bang Theory online.

It took about 5 minutes, and they didn't ask a question that I though might be pertinent: Do I currently subscribe to Cable/Satellite TV, or have standard broadcast, or neither?

Monday, November 24, 2008

"Did you have the chicken or the fish?" (Airplane!)

Wow. Here's a gander at the other side. Some are funny, some you can see where a customer isn't treated right, and some are just bizarre.

My favorite so far:

Caller: “I need to exchange this movie. It’s the wrong one.”

Me: “Which movie were you looking for?”

Caller: “Big Momma’s House.”

Me: “Um, what does it say on the case?”

Caller: “Big Momma’s House.”

Me: “What does it say on the video cassette itself?”

Caller: “Big Momma’s House.”

Me: “I’m thinking you have Big Momma’s House there, Ma’am.”

Caller: “But…”

Me: “Yes?”

Caller: “But… there’s white people in it.”

Me: “There are a few of us about, ma’am. We do sneak into the odd movie here and there.”

Caller: *click*

Friday, November 21, 2008

Gmail features- 200+ exp points!

Google's been busy enhancing. I subscribe to the Google Docs blog and recently added the Google Docs widget/tool/accessory to my Gmail. So over in the left column I have a list of docs currently hosted in my Google Docs section.

So if I ever need to forward/attach a document to an email, there it is. I avoid the "click to attach-browse-find folder-find document-click ok-click ok again-wait for uploading-click send" process.

But for those paranoid conspiracy folks, you may not want to indulge in this wonderful feature, unless you replace certain keywords in your manifest doctrines.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

"What's so great about discovery?" (Jurassic Park)

Thinking about enhancing the customer experience. Enhance. Enhance. Enhance. What if, by some miraculous use and discovery of technology, a customer could call ahead with his or her order? What if that was taken a step further?

Say, texting your "tall non fat americano with vanilla 20 min" order to your favorite coffee shop? And have a text reply "Order tall n/f amer. w/ vanilla will be ready for you in approx. 20 minutes. Thank you and see you soon. -Pat, Manager" Note: I don't drink coffee, so I have no idea if this is a real drink.
I think it could work. Queue systems are already in place, so a text-in gets shuffled in as well. When the customer comes in for the drink, they will know where their drink is in line. Why not display the queue like airlines displays flights?

Allow this feature only to those who want it. A special group of customers who have a favorite spot, who know the baristas, or vice versa. It may alleviate customer frustration when they see a long line at their favorite spot and decide in favor of cost, rather than benefit. Issue cards and provide special-only access to a text number.

On the business side, it opens a large, well, opening to gather information, preferences, and trends specific to the customer. So when the "new" drink comes out, it can be targeted even better.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"Going green..." (Twister)

PC Magazine is going digital. PC Mag is like Consumer Reports, only for geeks. Any business manager in charge of tech purchases should be reading PC Mag for reference. A quick read of the Ziff-Davis company reveals a lot of buying and selling, constant corporate upheaval in the changing environment of print publications.

TV vs. Internet is nothing compared to Print vs. Internet. Not only is news accessible quicker using the Internet, but you control the influences. Local news is the weak point for Internet news, not readily accessible through searches or a publications web site.

Print has had many years to brace and prepare for the Internet, since both formats share the same content- words. It's so simple to copy and paste from a word processor application to an html editor and host a page (people do it all day with blogs). Copy and pasting video, however, is not easy. Nor was the ability to see the videos because of constantly changing formats, codecs, and Internet speed. I remember downloading IE 5.5 over dial-up; it took 9 hours, I downloaded overnight. Downloading or even watching streaming video was slow and poor quality. Only the last 4 or 5 years has video become integral within the web, and only within the last two years has it skyrocketed.

I didn't mean to ramble on with this, it just begs the question: What's next?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

And Another Thing...

Regarding experts- they understand they don't know everything. Experts are constant foragers of information. So continually read up on subject matter, get a variety of sources. If your expert knowledge only comes from one source, say Wikipedia, that is not a very broad range. Learning about conflicting viewpoints, counter-arguments, and other challenges can solidify your knowledge base.

Being challenged isn't attacking credibility. It's strengthening the foundation. And it also exposes gaps in your knowledge base, providing room for improvement.

So the main points:
1. Gather information from many sources
2. Know the challenges within your subject matter
3. Test the information to ensure it is accurate and reliable

Monday, November 17, 2008


I was talking with someone on Sunday and she mentioned that a leading manufacturer in the Seattle area, freshly off a strike and trying to advert another, was requiring budget cuts across the board. Knee-jerk reaction for many companies is to freeze hiring or reduce the workforce, especially around year-end when the "numbers" aren't going to "satisfy" shareholders. There are so many disagreements to this practice of "budget control" it is amazing that big businesses still engage in it.

1) Cutting the teams can overwhelm current employees. If some are hourly rate, savings evaporate with overtime. In rare cases, "overloading" is actually making someone do work, rather than being a bump on the log. Management cuts the labor, doubles the work. Without killing the team, management must allow for projects to slip, or targets to be missed. Don't expect awesome chocolate-chip cookies when you cut the chips.

2) Cost-cutting through wages only affects payroll for the current quarter. Projects left unfinished, or finished half-donkey, can affect the future bottom line for years.

3) Hiring usually comes back in full effect on the first of the New Year. Cost of re-hiring is an added expense. Recruiting, interviewing, training, etc, all affect the bottom line in hours wasted, since it was done the previous year(s). Redundancy.

4) Employee morale is affected. Employees worry if they are going to be cut, regardless of management's reassurance. Some employees waste more time searching/interviewing for jobs on company time. Any manager who tells the team of 100 that 12 people will be gone in a week, I'll bet half of them will be on Monster within an hour.

5) Want to cut costs? Cut costs. Office supply purchases, different vendors, smarter utility management. Lean manufacturing doesn't have to apply to actually producing a tangible product. It can be applied to anything done by workers. Ramping up for expansion is highly short-term.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Expert Commentary

From Seth's Blog:

"Do you know enough?
If not, what are you doing about it?

If so, who do you think you're kidding?

[Interesting side alley: I was talking to a friend yesterday and encouraged her to speak at an upcoming conference. She said, "No way. I don't know enough." I explained that volunteering to speak was the best way to be sure that she'd end up knowing enough by the time she was through.]"

Interesting dilemma. Have broad knowledge, or be specific. In a world where most things are becoming commodities, what are you doing to become outstanding in your field? On the flip side, from The Incredibles: "If everyone is special, then no one will be."

What is an "Expert"? Someone who knows more about a subject matter than you. Sometimes we require certification to justify the "Expert" title- degrees, initials, published materials, etc. Convincing people you're an SME shouldn't be hard. Just let others handle things without you. It will let them, and you, know how much of an "expert" you are.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Introducing the smartest man alive...

Peter Schiff. Hindsight is 20/20, and anyone can look like a genius when something happens, but his conviction of his outlook outweighs the prospect of chance. Even in the face of other "experts" on Fox. Check this out.

I'm not a financial expert, but I'd recommend Barack puts Peter in charge of our economy.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Is your house on fire, Clark? (Christmas Vacation)

Guy Kawasaki had a great post on becoming better Twitterers. Or is it Twittees? Anyway, he has some great points about becoming a broader-read (more influence) Twit. A few of them resonate with me and something that I had been trying to word for a while.

Interact with the big Twitters. It's okay. Don't be intimidated that you know nothing about them other than what you read. Or that they have a gazillion followers. Interacting with a wider, outside-your-comfort-zone, audience may just bring more to yours.

Become a subject matter expert (SME). SMEs are sought-upon for advice. And in the absence of SMEs, people will listen to whoever has the most time on their hands. Just because someone has 1000 Twitters a day does not make them George Stephanopoulos. SMEs will have a dedicated relationship with followers because they will be passionate about the subject matter. In the book Jurassic Park, a character asks how the main character could remain so calm. The answer: Because he had thought about that moment his whole life. What have you been waiting for? What drives you to that "moment"? Twitter that.

And to help gain more influence over your audience, be respectful of their decision to follow you. Send direct Twitters to people when subject matter is not currently relevant. Otherwise followers will get turned off to the updates on BMs- "Size, frequency, color!" -Fletcher Reed, Liar Liar. In the information age, we can get TMI PDQ.

Friday, November 7, 2008

"I have to return some video tapes." (American Psycho)

Is this the live "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego" game or election coverage?

I guess the massive amounts of eye candy during the election is one way to cover the fact that elections are one of the slowest developing news story. Historic election, yes. Do we need more fancy ways to say "Senator McCain just won Texas" or "Senator Obama has taken Iowa." I found some network's coverage really lackluster. Especially claiming results for the candidates when "0% of votes in" was clearly on screen. Or calling a culture a giant stone.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Answers for the 1.5 Mile Tri-Ovals

1. Kansas Speedway
2. Nashville SuperSpeedway (replaced Nashville Speedway at the Fairgrounds :-()
3. Chicagoland Speedway (ISC built, shafting the closer-to-downtown track)
4. Las Vegas Motor Speedway
5. Kentucky Speedway

Monday, November 3, 2008

More Google Earth

Who can name these tracks:

To be honest, I could probably name just two. Hint: 1 of the 5 the Cup cars do not race at.

And here's a warm-up with the SMI's trifecta: Atlanta Motor Speedway, Lowe's Motor Speedway, and Texas Motor Speedway. Name the three: