Archive for the ‘Other’ Category

Intelligence and libido

May 14, 2007



Nerd

Originally uploaded by Elinay.

So I came across this article:

Interesting data on IQ vs. virginity for college students

The article highlights that while 87% of college kids have had sex, only 51% of MIT students have. And more generally, students with higher than average intelligence have a lower than average likelihood of nooky during the college years. The article went so far as to draw the same correlation with kissing and even holding hands.

Possible reasons:

The taboo nature of sex increases along the intellectual curve, sexologists and the like notwithstanding.
The family structure required to rear a kid into MIT is, in a word, more structured.
For whatever reason, the smartest kids generally aren’t the prettiest.
Brains of really smart people may develop at a different pace and differently in general.

I think within a hop, skip, and jump, you can get to pretty much all the reasons from the above four.

Realities of the above can wreak havoc on perceived reality. There’s just a lot going on:

Peer comparison
Mating pressure
Traditional marketing messages
Media
Imagination

The truth is that most of the 49% of the MIT kids that haven’t had sex — and I would guess nearly all of the males in this group — would rather not be part of the group. The ugly part of this truth is that this perceived grim reality is magnified by their perception of the world. When you want something that the rest of the world seems to be getting, you don’t feel very good about it.

Like it or not, our desires are socially influenced including — maybe especially — the most private.

Blogzeal

May 2, 2007

So, I enjoyed reading this article about Blargon — jargon among the blog community.

Quite enjoyable, but at over a year old, I’m sure some of these terms have expired and have been replaced.

I thought it would be fun to make up my own rather than scour for popular jargon with Google. To limit myself, everything has to start with blog.

blogineer

1. One who provides solutions, typically software code, by way of his blog
2. An innovator in the progress of blogs and social media.

bloggeter

1. As opposed to just “blogger” a “bloggeter” is fairly obviously promoting something such as a consulting practice. Most business-topic-related bloggers are bloggeter.

blogonomics

1. Study of traffic, ratios, etc, that match economic value to production and consumption of blog content. Important for deciding when it is time to learn how to link to books on Amazon.com in exchange for taking a toll from your loyal blog readers when they make a purchase by way of your link.

2. Derogatory: over simplification of actual economics to make blogready (below) commentary. Example: With all the outsourcing going on, the US programmer will soon be an endangered species.

blogotron

1. An unusually tricked out blog, with a minimum of five widgets — two of which must have been released within the last six months.

blogcentric

1. An online marketing strategy that drives audience focus to a blog. A Web site in which most content, particularly updated and rich content, is published in the blog.

2. Product development strategy which emphasizes blogs and the blog community. May be in reference to the product itself — a product that can be embedded within a blog. Or may be in reference to adding features that bloggers are likely to enjoy and write about.

blogify

1. To overhaul a site design, typically that is over 12 months old, and make it more blogcentric (above).

2. A culture and PR strategy which takes content, thoughts, conversations, and ideas which until recently would not be for public consumption, and voraciously makes it public. Example: the John Edwards campaign using Twitter.

bloggy

1. Informal. A simple way to describe a Web site (or even printed book or magazine) which has adopted a bloglike look and format.

2. Language (tone, voice, style, and words) that sounds appropriate for a blog.

3. Singular noun of bloggies (below).

bloggies

1. A populace who consumes an inordinate amount of content by way for RSS feeds and who are proud of it

2. A populace whose opinions are formed largely based on the consumption of content from blogs (delivered by RSS feeds).

blogtastic

A mashup of blog and fantastic. The word mashup is blogtastic. Enough said.

blogstarved

1. The state of a bloggy who is removed from an Internet connection for more than four hours.

2. The state of an industry, company, or topic that does not enjoy wide attention of the blogger community.

blogicles

1. Derived from blog and chronicles. Blogs that read like diaries and delve into personal subject matter. Typical of blogs found on such Web sites as MySpace.

Usage: Dude, love your blog, especially your posts on Apple, but can you leave out the blogicles? My feedreader doesn’t want your blogicles.

blogspeak

1. Language highly appropriate for blogs.

2. Content in blogs written by a blogger who assumes a common base of knowledge from its readers, which could not be assumed of the general population.

3. Use of acronyms and jargon. Frequent appropriation of terms from one subject matter (such as a technical field) to another.

blogsweep

1. The consumption of a large amount of blog content in a short amount of time, generally about a specific topic, such as the release of an Apple product. Usage: I just did a total blogsweep of the YouTube acquisition.

2. The production of a large amount of content based on an original source. A large number of bloggers will reference the same “subject article” and add their own commentary. Usage: It would be awesome if there were a total blogsweep of this post.

blogopoly

1. A blog that has become extremely popular and commands a loyal audience and special position in the market. Example: TechCrunch.

blogdex

1. A listing of a large number of blogs about a specific topic. Not to be confused with blogroll.

2. An index that tracks the performance of blogs or that tracks the metrics of a term (or subject matter) in the blog community. Example: Apple’s new release of Apple iProduct is skyrocketing on the blogdex.

blogform

A format that is bloglike in nature.

blogalytics

Similar to blogonomics, except more technical in analysis. Web site analytics and blogalytics are similar. When a rule of thumb, common metric, or ratio has differences between Web site analytics and blogalytics, this term is particularly useful.

blogpro

1. A person who goes to extraordinary lengths to make his personal blog the next Time Magazine. Generally is adept at making YouTube clips from scratch.

2. A person who would detest someone comparing his blog to Time Magazine, interpreting this as an insult.

blogfrat

1. The community of bloggers who clearly know much more about almost everything than the rest of the world’s population.

2. A social or professional community whose membership grows and strengthens by mutual publishing and consuming of blogs focused on content of mutual interest. Usage: The venture capital community is a blogfrat! And: Gosh, I would love to be a part of their blogfrat!

blogdrain

1. boredom experienced by overconsumption of blogs, usually delivered by RSS feeds.

2. the state of a blogger whose interest in publishing blog content has waned. The primary symptoms are weak or non-existing new articles within the last five days or more.

blogiquette

1. Behavior deemed appropriate by the blog community. Varies.

blogready

1. Content that is deemed finished enough for publication on one’s blog. The content must contain more correctly spelled words than incorrect ones.

2. Other content, such as pictures, formatted for publication on a blog. Pictures ready from screen printing on posters are not blogready.

Interesting personal story of fired professor

April 23, 2007

Professor has provocative class discussion on VA Tech shooting. Professor gets fired. Professor posts 4 clips of explanation of his story.

1st Video

Two points:

1. Obviously, I think that political correctness is rampant and dumb. It has a numbing effect on education, creativity, and debate. Unfortunately, college campuses are breeding grounds for political correctness where they should be ‘walled gardens’ attempting to prevent its ill effects.

2. Kudos to the professor, Nicholas Winset, for using YouTube to give his side of the story, and demonstrating what an educational tool YouTube can be. Because of the instant ability to publish and broadcast, it serves as a great case study tool. Or to borrow a phrase, “great for Monday quarterbacking.”

Mac, Firefox, Camino, non-IE uptake

April 22, 2007

IE still is the far and away leader. But that matters less and less every day. The opinion leaders of the Web use other browsers in large numbers and use Macs in large numbers as well. Not keeping these users top of mind makes no sense for companies in the innovation business. Yes, even today some companies release software that is not Mac supported or requires IE. But I’m sure anybody developing anything meaningful for the general market now, would not start new projects making this error. The exception of course is software developed for specified environments–i.e. internal corporate software. Of course, these developers would be wise not to box themselves in either. Why would you?

I only write this because I remember working on projects several years ago where the custom was to focus on IE and make market coverage tradeoffs with ease. The bigger question back then was versions of IE. Rare was the client who would demand QA testing on Netscape.

Celltop is useful mobile eye candy

April 19, 2007

celltop — is more than a pun-like name. The project done by frog design for Alltel is also a demonstration of things to come on the mobile handset. Mobile handsets have come of age in a big way the last couple years. To me, the progress of the handsets has outpaced application/UI innovation for a while (this is in contrast to 6-7 years ago when the opposite was more or less the case). So I am probably not the first to predict an industry-wide push in application/UI efforts to play catch up.

Oh, so what exactly is celltop? Well, they will do a better job than me (here). But essentially celltop puts handy “mini-applications” at the ready on your cellphone. The “cells” are actually visual containers that sit on the phone’s interface. These cells morph (size, navigation) based on what you’re doing. So, even though you might have 8 ‘cell apps’ you only see 2 at any given time. And then when you want to focus in on 1 in particular, the UI morphs to accomodate.

The point of celltop is to make mobile more user-friendly. They did a great job and the reviews have been positive. Excellent work, guys. I’m sure frog will be subsidizing your well-deserved sabbatical to the tropical destination of your choice.

Conference call storage & sharing

April 11, 2007

I’ve been thinking about mobile applications in the enterprise for a while. In a lot of areas, demand comes up dry. Often, ‘conventional’ mobile workers like salespeople and ‘field operations’ (thinking stock image of man with hard hat and toolbelt), aren’t really spending their day conjuring about and wanting new technology like this. And ‘knowledge workers’ who are mobile, don’t really think of themselves as mobile workers. That’s a shame because I think there’s a lot more opportunity for creativity with mobile than a lot of other areas of IT innovation that get more attention.

One of the things I’ve been thinking about is conference calls. I know there are plenty of conf call solutions and all the features I’m about to write about probably exist somewhere. This isn’t a ‘build a business’ idea as much as a ‘apply technology, rinse, repeat’ one.

The telephone is the way workers not in the office communicate together most often, especially in groups. Email, instant messaging, and virtual chat rooms, don’t hold the same cachet of getting things accomplished that voice communication does.

Yet, how many conference calls do we listen to while being 95%+ passive? Would we sacrifice that miniscule interaction for asynchronicity, and the convenience that comes with it? It certainly would be nice to have the option!

For example, let’s say there’s a 30 minute conference call scheduled for 8am. Let’s say I would usually call in on my mobile phone while driving to work. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could instead get this streamed through my mobile with say a 15 minute delay, so that I could pause or rewind as necessary? Wouldn’t it be nice if I didn’t have to worry about dropping my connection and interrupting the call by ‘toning in’ again? Let’s be honest: maybe I could fast forward through idiotic exchanges completely tangential to the call?

As a manager, wouldn’t it be nice if I could push the recording of this call out to whomever I wanted with a notification and maybe even a small snippet of the call as a preview?

Wouldn’t it be nice to have the luxury of sharing? Conference calls are especially popular with distribution channels. Let’s say I have a reseller in Dallas with a 4-man office, which would be a hypothetical. Let’s say they have a habit of having 1 man on the call, with the notion that that designee will share all the ‘useful information’ with the others. Hmm… How about that 4 man team each get a recording of the call, 1 man listens to it in real time? Hmm…how about as the Channel Director, I get to flag timestamps in the call that are particularly important; maybe I can reference them in my notes too???

OK, so I have illustrated the people benefits. What about the IT benefits? 1. Cost savings. A stream over mobile or obviously web is neglible in cost versus mobile phone minutes. Depending on your conf call plans, there could be added savings.

2. Conference calls aren’t just perishable, they evaporate instantly! Knowledge management is a driver in many IT orgs. Alluded to above, storage, proper identification, and dissemination of information is highly valuable. Conf calls should be captured. If they are web hosted, they can be measured as well. A conference call recording downloaded 1,000 times, typically by recently-hired employees might suggest that the content therein might be incorporated into new-hire training? Brilliant! IT deserves a vacation to the Bahamas!

Canon PowerShot SD630 Review and Usability Commentary

April 6, 2007

I got my new Canon digital camera last week, so it’s time for an initial review!

First, background. This is my first real/decent digital camera…I’m actually a bit of a late adopter when it comes to gadgets. I got my first ipod in December! This is a little odd to me because I am an early adopter when it comes to ideas, late when it comes to gadgets. I had attempted to shop for a digital camera before, but wasn’t that motivated and there are a lot of confusing things to learn in the camera world in general, so I kept putting it off. (See my observation about abundance of choice being annoying below!)

I was urged by several friends to trust Canon, and told that they make the best cameras–certainly in the Point and Shoot category. I took their word for it and a cursory reading of reviews online confirmed this in general. This helped immensely in reducing the too-many-choices problem, although Canon has a dizzying number of cameras on their own. This is where I relied on much more extensive review hunting on amazon and a few other sites. It came down to two choices: a wide angle lens feature versus a bigger LCD display, everything else roughly equal. I went with the bigger LCD display. Cameras today being a surprisingly social device, I figured the bigger display would make for more enjoyable “say cheese, snap, show and tell”!

Pretty picture of camera:
camera

I’m very happy with my purchase, but without having any basis for saying it is better or worse than any specific competitor, I won’t go there. I’ll just leave it at the camera has certainly met my expectations and in some ways really leaves a smile on my face.

Things I really like so far:

-The camera itself. The size is nice and small but not so small as to seem that smallness was an end unto itself during its design. Certain mobile phones are the bigger culprit in that area. It feels solid, a hint of cost-saving on the outer materials but not too bad. The coating on the display feels nice and durable (and I hope somewhat scratch resistant, but we’ll see!).

-The screen size at 3″ diagonally, which is fantastic for such a small device. The display quality is more than adequate. I read a few reviews which suggested it was insufficient, and perhaps there are better ones out there, but these suggestions should be ignored.

-The usability of the camera itself. I am new to using digital cameras. Other than the occasional picture I take with someone else’s camera, no experience. The UI is intuitive, packed with clues and cues, and manageable while function-rich. My learning curve on much less feature-rich devices has been much longer, and I anticipated that to be the case with this camera, but I was pleasantly surprised. I also thought the blend between hardware controls (ie buttons) and software controls (in the display) were well balanced. Plus with such a nice screen, there’s plenty of real estate to organize the UI and the designers did a good job. That said, there’s always room for improvement. I expect “advanced” features of a device to require reference to manuals. This is where Canon came up a little short. See below. Also some of the software buttons/labels were less than intuitive and could be improved. Still, overall great job.

-Number 1 thing I love and should be a requirement of all cameras: The taking of the photo is simple. There isn’t an overly confusing delay (before or after the click). And the camera doesn’t automatically switch into video capture mode as or after you take a picture. Have you noticed that some cameras do this? Do you have one? This should be illegal in all 50 states! That is a usability sin. I’m sure there is a trick or rule I’m unfamiliar with on such cameras, but so what? Cameras are social devices, meaning the basic functions should be 100% intuitive to a non-owner of any specific camera.

Things I don’t like:

-Included only 16MB memory card. This is the equivalent of batteries not included! The OEM on a 128MB memory card is probably in the low single digit dollar range. I realize margin is tight on these things, but I think this puts a dent on the initial experience in no small way. I had to go buy a card (2GB for about $30 – see what I mean??) before really enjoying the product.

-Marginal software for the computer–OK, I still don’t know why software in general in this space is so poor. It should be automatic that when a user hooks their camera into their computer, the offering of a “myspace-appropriate” file size jpeg is presented. All other features are great, but this function deserves the same prioritization as “Send” in an email program. I quickly started using iPhoto on my Mac, but despite suggestions to the contrary, I didn’t find iPhoto all that better. Do I really need to buy Photoshop and ImageReady? Maybe. Software included with devices (printers, scanners, cameras, web cameras, etc.) is almost universally bad. Why is this? Another post I guess.

-Poor user documentation. While thorough, I found it weak. Why is user documentation about where it was with VCR’s in the mid eighties? Certainly in the case of this camera, it would have been an easy area to improve. A dose of humanity, maybe even humor, would go a long way in making documentation more usable (and more effective).

-Can’t tell if the USB connection charges the camera, and if it doesn’t, why not?

I hope you’ve enjoyed this rather lengthy review. I also hope you caught some of my marketer bias here, too. The goal is to strive for prospective buyers to get from zero to happy in the shortest time possible. I wish I had the research (bet you I’ll get it!) that will back up my estimation that with a typical product, the user will max out their willingness to learn within a couple weeks (inclusive of time spent researching before the purchase!!). This means two things:

1. Within a short period after the box is opened, the user’s lifetime experience is set on a trajectory.

2. During this initial period, user sensitivity is at its peak. Take advantage. You can play good defense and go on the offense, too. The Nintendo Wii is the perfect example of this.

Mark Cuban Disappointed Me Today

March 26, 2007

Today, I’m not as big of a fan of Mark Cuban as I was yesterday. I just watched Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room which was produced by 2929 entertainment, a Cuban-financed company. Mark Cuban also is named as a producer in the credits. Given Cuban’s desire to emerge as a leader in media on a grand scale, I’m quite sure he had plenty of input about the studio’s decisions regarding the film.

Admittedly, I am a big fan of Mark Cuban. But I was very disappointed with the timing of his film release. I am not a fan of his releasing of a very biased documentary about Enron before the trials of former CEO Jeff Skilling and the late Chairman Ken Lay were held. The film was released on April 22, 2005 and the trials began January 30, 2006, over nine months later.

I am not an apologist for wrongdoings that most likely occurred within Enron.

Common sense would suggest, however, that Enron’s demise was more than partially caused by an overall collapse of the market. Enron was doing complicated things and innovating in many ways. They were engaged in what turned out to be very risky behavior. I don’t know enough about that behavior to know if it was unethical or morally wrong. If I had to guess, boundaries were crossed.* Irrelevant.

My disappointment comes from the fact that Mark Cuban was well aware that this film is incendiary and could impact any jury trial, let alone one as spectacular as this one was. Regardless of whether the defendants weren’t going to get a fair trial anyway, 2929 should not have further tainted the process.

I would have preferred 2929 shot a more bias-neutral film, but it is true documentaries these days need to be biased (toward the popular belief) to get people to pay to watch them.** I’m ok with that, even though it’s a little ironic considering Cuban is a very prominent businessman. Even if he is squeaky clean, I’m sure he knows that the complexities of almost any significant corporation’s business can be manhandled by an aggressive prosecution in the courthouse. I honestly wonder if Cuban believes in his own product in this case.

Cuban made out to profit from the lynch mob against Skilling and Lay. The least he could do was wait until after a jury convicted them.

*In the film, phone conversations of many traders laughing at the California energy crisis were included. I realize there was plenty of bad behavior inside the company. I don’t think you can equate that to damning the company overall or the principal executives specifically. If you can, you can probably damn almost any large company in existence that employs a sales force, a trade desk of any size, or any other environment where people interact in a very competitive environment.

** If Cuban really had to release the movie before the trial (to get the film maximum exposure), he could have produced a balanced film and been MORE entertaining, not less. It would have been hard and would have been more innovative. Why not produce two ‘riveting’ 45 minute pieces to the movie with a bias to each side of the story and maybe a final 20 minute neutral ending. Contrary to simple thinking, it’s possible to have a neutral ending be riveting. Many of the best films leave us with unanswered questions, instead of pushing a conclusion a 3rd grader could draw. I would have preferred that he waited, but this would have been a more palpable alternative.