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Our love/hate relationship with all the technology we "love"

Ever since graduating from Lego’s as an 4th grader, I have been consumed with gadgets and how they work.  My first wave of electric and electronic gadgets included the electric train, digital watch, and yes even a Merlin, the Electronic Wizard!  The Merlin was the iTouch of the day.


Apple iTouch

It had an 11 button pad that lit up and beeped to the games it supported.
(Of course you had to read the manual to learn how the games worked.)  One of the first mass-market toys based on a true microprocessor, it was supposed to improve memory and be FUN at the same time.

Parker Brothers’ Merlin is notable as one of the earliest and most popular handheld games, selling over 5 million units during its initial run, and remained popular throughout the 1980s.

The games were quite dull by today’s standards, but the Merlin blew the doors off anything else that Christmas.  My favorite toy that year played 6 games including tic-tac-toe, mindbender, music machine, and Blackjack.  Okay tic-tac-toe?. eh… not so great.  But Merlin had fabulous battery life, didn’t crash (unlike my train set), and would STILL worked if you dropped it, (unlike my Palm Pre).

Although my best gaming days are behind me, shiny new objects DO STILL esmerize this magpie.  I just bought a USB Traktor DJ controller the size of a jumbo universal remote that fits in my briefcase and replaces about 30 lbs of audio gear.  Very slick!

Traktor Kontrol X1

But WHY in an age where we are smarter and costs to build tech platforms is steadily dropping must we be FORCED to sustain a love/hate relationship with all  the technology we truly LOVE?   Hardware and software battle over ever scarcer resources.  Music is more portable now but sound quality suffers.

And rampant “built in obsolescence” means my cell phone wont even last as long as my carrier contract.  I distinctly remember reading about cell phones that would be upgradeable via software, and over the air.  So much for that “breakthrough advance”.

So here is my list of Best / Worst products and why.  Please add to the list and comment below as you see fit.

  1. Palm Pre – It’s simply a gorgeous phone.  Maybe the best phone on the market.  But the phone often slows down for no reason, the battery barely makes through a single day, and it has no protection on the edge of the touch screen.  This means if it’s in your pocket when you disrobe onto a tile floor like I did, get ready to pay $100 for an INSURANCE replacement when the screen cracks.
  2. Google Chrome – it is hands down THE fastest browser I have ever used, either PC or Mac.  It is simple and smart.  My daughter said the other day “It just knows.”  Downside:  Random websites will not function properly such as Rhapsody, Netflix, Webex, etc.  Still Chrome market share is rising (now 7%) while others are declining, so I believe this will create full compatibility over time.
  3. My Cable Company (Comcast).  All home based digital services are provided with no big complaints, if a tad pricey at $170 a month for triple play with HBO.  However, their on-demand charges are NUTS.. and have doubled in the last 18 months from $2.99 and $3.99 to $6.99 and even $8.99 for a 48 hour rental!  Considering the low cost of distribution this is soaking their customers.  I have switched instead to renting only from Itunes/AppleTV and boycott Comcast on-line.
  4. iPhone:  the coolest phone (for now) that I have seen.  I mean the interface is truly beautiful and unrivaled.  But AT&T phone service make it entirely unusable as a phone in many parts of the country, especially Manhattan where my business takes me quite often.  For the number of times my friends curse their iPhone, I will sit this one out.  Lack of support for even limited Flash combined with a strategy to avoid this pervasive UI platform is the nail in the coffin for me I am afraid.
  5. iPad.  It’s price point and service plan ($15/month for internet!? awesome) are the perfect combo, letting it compete squarely (or beat) with netbooks and readers.  But it has no USB port, until you buy the accessory, no ability to print, and most of all, no file system to store spreadsheets, documents, or presentations (and no real apps for those productivity tools either).

Falling in love with your favorite platform, device, or service will be a risky choice it seems for years to come.  In the mean time, stay happy.  We have come a long way in our journey as a tech enabled society.  We can pay bills in seconds with free online service from our banks.  And though we may hate ATM fees, we love getting our money whenever we need it.

Merlin and his kind paved the way for countless tech aids and entertainment machines.  Just think what devices we will have in 20 years time.  I wonder if they will be able to play tic-tac-toe.


Google Phone whispers ads in your ear

Google Phone adWith satellite radio, Netflix, and Tivo, you can remove most annoying ads from your life.  Now Google wants to place ads whispered into your actual phone calls!

(this is not true btw, but funny still!)

New Google Phone Service Whispers Targeted Ads Directly Into Users’ Ears


Web Video 101

In 2006 Google purchased Youtube for $1.65 billion in Google stock.  The search giant clearly saw that video would largely become the basis of how we use the web.

The single most important metric for any consumer site is monthly unique site visitors.

Googles bet on video content 4 years ago is paying off to the tune of 13 BILLION Youtube visitors a month because we simply cant get enough video content.  In May 2010, Youtube estimates that every minute we upload 24 hours of video to their site.

So if your site was designed  without video in mind, consider if it is time to redesign.

All web video falls into FOUR categories.

  1. Copyrighted – can only be shown online with legal permission and or licenses.  These include TV shows, movies, concerts, some music videos, and educational content.  Users may pay to view, (see Netflix), or watch with advertisements like TV, (see Hulu, Fancast, NBC.COM, etc)
  2. User generated – videos created and posted by web users.  These include publicly shared and private videos, typically accessed on a social network site like Facebook, Youtube, etc.
  3. Professional – videos created by organizations and media companies to entertain, educate, and market goods and services.  Typically they are advertising based.
  4. Live Events – These include sporting events, concerts, political meetings etc.

Subsequent posts will include methods for how to publish video on your site.  We will delve into how to host video, where to store the video itself, how to do a live stream event, and how to leverage the video supplied by your users.  When is it desirable to store video on a secure CDN (content delivery network) and when is it okay to use Youtube for you file storage and delivery to users.


Hello world – opening Logical Blog posting

I may have waited too long, BUT here I am blogging finally where it matters most on my own company website.  I should have started ages ago, especially since reading The New Influencers by Paul Gillin earlier this year.   This landmark book documents the massive shift taking place in promotion, publicity, and communications in our world.  This critical platform gives us the chance to dialog without the filters of media companies and marketing departments.

The New Influencers also successfully convinced me, a 20 year IT veteran to finally share my view of the tech world with savvy business leaders and future leaders.  I can proudly state that I am likely the very last guy in America to graduate with a BS in Business Administration having had absolutely no computer experience whatsoever.  This is 1988 when some on campus were trying to sell XT computers.  With 10 mb hard drives even!  Can you imagine?!

Basic programming example

Were it not for multiple choice test questions, and brainy generous lab partners, I might have never graduated at all.  Back then I had no use for technology.  All schools taught back then was programming.  If you could make the dot matrix print a Christmas tree you could pass!  I was no programmer, nor did I ever want to be.

But it’s all changed now.  I taught myself everything I know about technology and want to share it all with you.  I have built companies and deployed systems large and small.

Now I own a successful software development company in Boston, one of our most important technology centers.

This blog will provide information and opinion on technology and applications to business.  We especially love startups and will focus on developments most relevant to these visionary companies.  Please leave feedback of all kinds and tell your friends!

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