Monthly Archive for September, 2003

Dell Offers Revolutionary Technology

Steven Frank cover’s Dell’s latest Press Release

Pitiful, really.

A Great Office Makes a Difference

A lesson from Joel on Office Design:

Bottom Line it For Me.

The monthly rent for our offices, when fully occupied, will run about $700 per employee. The build-out was done on budget and paid for almost entirely by the landlord. I suspect that $700 per person is on the high side for software developers throughout the world, but if it means we can hire from the 99.9 percentile instead of the 99 percentile, it’ll be worth it.

I completely agree.

Quoted: Entrepreneurial Blogging

My blog was quoted in an article published in the August 2003 issue of International Journal of Entreprenuership and Innovation. The article is called Internet Review: Entrepreneurial blogging. The full article isn’t available online, but it’s a good quick read. The Director of IP Publishing, John Edmundson, was good enough to send me a copy of the Journal and I must say the entire thing is quite readable for an academic journal. The author, Lew Perren, quoted a blog entry of mine in full in his article. He also quotes from Greenlightwrite.com and StarshipTim.com twice.

Mr. Perren writes a column entitled “The Internet Review” for each issue of the Journal, and in this one, his purpose is “to open the eyes of researchers, policy makers, and entrepreneurs who have not considered the value of blogs.” Mr. Perren goes on: “Some readers may view blogs as data resources for a discourse analysis; other as providing helpful pointers for entrepreneurs. Whatever the view taken, they provide fascinating chronicles of entrepreneurial lives and the potential for new insights into entrepreneurial experiences.”

I’d like to take this opportunity to point those of you reading this weblog from a pointer in that article to point you to a few more business or entrepreneurial weblogs that I read:

Cleaning up my Blogroll

I cleaned up my blogroll today. I also cleaned up the right sidebar of the home page of this weblog… I did this for a few reasons, most of all to get the page-load time down on this page (blogrolling.com returns the blogroll feed slowly sometimes) and to cut down on the referrer spam that was showing up on the referrers part of the sidebar.

So, what was my criteria for taking someone off the blogroll?

  1. If the site that was linked didn’t have an XML feed, they got dropped.
  2. If a weblog I was linking to moved URLs since I added them, they got dropped (as I was obviously not reading them enough to know that they’d moved URLs).
  3. If the weblog wasn’t updated in the last two months, it was dropped. Note: If the weblog was a good read (like The FuzzyBlog) I updated the blogroll, by deleting the old link and replacing it with a new link.
  4. If the weblog or link I was blogrolling doesn’t ping weblogs.com or blo.gs, I dropped the feed.
  5. If the link to something I’d blogrolled was dead or otherwise old, I dropped the link.

I pared down the main blogroll of this site from 70+ links to 58. I’m sure I’ll get it back up to 70 by the end of the year.

Oh, and the other reason I did this today was so that I could avoid going in to the office for a few more minutes (I really have a lot of work that needs to get done by Monday).

How Fry’s Electronics lost my business

Today, a friend of mine called me to tell me that Fry’s had a 17″ Powerbook (refurbished) on sale for $2599 if you bought it in-store, and that they had a limited supply available. He’d read it in the newspaper advertisement, so I quickly grabbed my newspaper and looked for the ad. I found it, and sure enough, they were selling last month’s 17″ Powerbooks (refurbished) for $2599. It sounded like a great deal, as I’ve recently been in the market for a new Powerbook, but I was looking at the 15″ models because the 17″ models were too expensive and I really didn’t need that big of a monitor…

So, I called the local Fry’s to see if they had any in-stock. While I waited on hold for the better part of 10 minutes, I decided to check around on what a refurbished 1GHz 17″ Powerbook was going for elsewhere. I checked the Apple Store’s Hot Deals section and found the same Fry’s advertised refurbished 17″ machine for $2,499 instead of Fry’s price of $2,599. “Hmmm, that’s stupid,” I thought. “Why would I spend $100 more for the same machine?”

So, I checked Frys.com (which is really Outpost.com if you want to shop online (I wondered where the hell Outpost.com went)) and guess what I found? The same refurbished 17″ Powerbook for $2,499 with free shipping. “That’s totally fucked up” was my next thought.

So, I’m still on hold, waiting for someone that can help me to answer the phone, and I’m thinking how stupid this is, and that I should look up the number of the closest CompUSA to see if they have a new 1.25GHz 15″ Powerbook in-stock, as a backup for the call to Fry’s. You see, Fry’s has a lowest-price guarantee, and I figured if they’d sell the $2,599 machine for $2,499, I’d go buy one, because it’d be sweet to have a 17″ machine, even if that meant it was just a little slower than the new 15″ model.

So, the Fry’s ‘computer department’ sales guy answers the phone, finally. I asked him if they had any of the 17″ refurbs in-stock, and sure enough they did. Then I asked him if they’d honor the $2,499 price from their website, and he said “No, the web prices are always lower than the store prices.” I asked him why that was and he said “man, that’s way above my pay-grade.” I chuckled… and then spent a few minutes testing him for possibly breakage in his pricing powers, and he didn’t have any flexiblity.

So, I called CompUSA and had them put their last new 15″ Powerbooks on hold so I could pick it up later in the evening. They said ‘no problem’ and took my name and held a machine for me (which the wife is picking up right now).

So, how did Fry’s loose my business? By not selling the same machine they were selling online for the same price. Any you know what the worst part is? I’ve only been to Fry’s once, and wasn’t impressed the first time. I am a consumer that likes instant gratification, prefering to buy offline than online most of the time, unless price is truly an issue, or convenience is the same (like buying e-tickets for an airplane trip). I wanted a Powerbook today and was willing to drive to Fry’s to buy it, but they screwed the pooch. They had the chance to get me back into one of their massive stores (which was like visiting the zoo last time I went) to impress me again with the large “find every high-tech electronic you want” store-type again, and to turn me into a life-long Fry’s customer because they were selling something in the store for $100 more than it was worth. Fuck Fry’s. I’ll never even think of them as place that I might buy anything at again, unless of course the offer a loss-leader that entice’s me to visit their store.

And you know what the funny thing is? I’m also shopping (just shopping) for a large flat-screen TV that I’d like to purchase some-time in the coming 12-24 months… and I won’t shop at Fry’s for it. I might buy it from Fry’s if they’re the cheapest in town, but I won’t shop for it there… because they had a stupid online/offline pricing policy.

The web is another channel for the the same products, not it’s own channel for different products than are available through stores or catalogs. Company’s that have the same prices across all channels are more likely to earn more per customer than those that price things differently, as that Fry’s online customer will never shop at the store (because he knows he can get it cheaper online), and the guy that shops in the store is there because he likes to pay more for his shit (dumbass). If Fry’s goal is to expand their ‘foot-print’ across the US, then they’re shooting themselves in the foot by offering something online for less than they offer it in a store…

I don’t know what their overall business goal is, but I do know this. I’ll never shop at a Fry’s by choice.

I won, and Apple won this scenario, and so did CompUSA. I just bought a new 15″ Powerbook!

linkdump

Long overdue (sorry for dumping so many links in one post).

Design and Development:

Advertising, Marketing and Selling:

Employment and Business related:

Stuff you should buy:

Safari crashing lately?

I’ve been having problems with Safari crashing a lot lately, and I had no idea why, until I read a post from RailHeadDesign (no permalink, so I’ve quoted in full here):

Safari Been Eating CPU Cycles Lately?
Last month I started noticing Safari suddenly locking-up, taking 75% to 130% of my processor(s), constantly needing to be force-quit. The first symptoms presented themselves when I would load several sites at once (by command-clicking a bookmark folder in the toolbar). The sites would attempt to load, but then everything would just stall and Safari would eventually throw-up the spinning beach ball we all know and love. I then noticed, using iPulse and the Terminal’s “top” command, that Safari was eating processor cycles when this was happening.

I tried all manner of things to correct the issue, and I jumped into a thread at Apple’s message boards where others were experiencing the same thing. Within a couple of days, we seem to have found the problem that was causing Safari to ‘freak out’ on us: third-party applications that (seemingly) do a poor job of accessing certain features of Apple’s web kit.

In my case, the application that seems to have been causing problems was NetNewsWire v1.0.4 , released August 25/26 ‘ coincidentally when the symptoms first started showing themselves. One of the features of this version of NNW was ‘NetNewsWire now uses Web Kit, Safari’s HTML renderer.’ Hmm’

Just yesterday, Ranchero released v1.0.5b1 of NetNewsWire , and one of the changes listed is ‘Don’t share cookies with Safari anymore ‘ this fixes a couple crashes and fixes some hangs.’ Since upgrading to the latest beta, all my Safari freak-out problems have gone away. Users of other news readers are reporting the same issues, but I haven’t heard anything back yet.

The bottom line is this: Safari was becoming totally unusable, and became that way when NetNewsWire v1.0.4 was released. Ranchero made v1.0.5b1 available, which no longer shared cookies with Safari (through the web kit, I think), and the Safari issues went away. There’s obviously a link there somewhere, and any other third-party application that is sharing information with Safari could also cause potential Safari issues.

So, if you’re experiencing Safari hang issues like I was, and you use NNW, download the latest beta.

Powerbook procurement predicament

For a couple of weeks now, I’ve been eyeing a new Powerbook for the house. CompUSA’s 18-month same as cash offer is really what set the wheels in motion for the household decision-maker (which isn’t me by the way) to think about the idea of buying a second home laptop. I called the two local CompUSA’s today and found out that the 18-month same as cash promotion was a Labor Day week only promotion, and that it expired two Fridays ago.

Bad job marketing that one CompUSA.

I also emailed a guy at the north CompUSA store in town based on the recommendation of a friend of mine (which I should’ve done back when he recommended it, as I would’ve likely learned about the promotion ending in time to take advantage of it) to find out more information. I’ve yet to receive a response to that email though (one thing to remember about email — it is not an immediate response mechanism for most businesses).

But, I did learn that the two CompUSAs in Austin already have the new 17″ Powerbooks in stock, but no 15″ models at all (old or new). So, now, I’m stuck waiting around for them to show up in stock, so I can at least take advantage of CompUSA’s 6-month same as cash financing offer (always pay these offers off before they come due or you’re screwed). This probably means that we’ll wait until closer to Christmas or Thanksgiving to buy a new Powerbook, as it’s something we don’t actually need to buy, and on top of that, who knows… CompUSA might offer the 18-month deal again by then. Hopefully they’ll actually market the offer if they ever do it again.

CompUSA’s 18 Month Financing for Apple Products?

Ok, if I’m to believe this post on fool.com, then it seems that CompUSA really is offering no-payments for 18 months on Apple products, but I can’t find an official word on this anywhere on the internet (CompUSA’s website only mentions a 6 month deal), just the Dealmac post and this story at fool.com. Anyone else know if it’s for real, or where I can read the details about the offer?

the iServe (redux)

Frank has really expanded his iServe idea (from November)… I’d love to see what he’s envisioned in my house. I agree with him on the value to small work-groups, and as a guy working in a company that has many small work-groups and owns a few XServe’s, I think we’d likely buy a few iServe’s in addition to our XServe’s.

RSS Advertising (or sponsorship) – Part II

Found at MarketingWonk: Feeding Ads Through Feeds

A reader of Lockerknome wrote this:

If RSS just becomes another polluted source of noise, it will be no better than email or the Web are right now. If an RSS feed is going to have ads interspersed with content, itís not saving me time. What made RSS feeds unique was that they gave me what I asked for and nothing was wasted. If all companies are publishing to RSS is advertisement-laden crap, we end up with nothing more than a poorly functioning version of the same thing we have now.

Chris Pirillo answers that the beauty of RSS is that it’s a pull medium (I’m paraphrasing here) and in that it’s a pull medium, it’s too easy for us as users to unsubscribe from the feed if we don’t like it, but I think that’s shirking the issue. What if we really, really like the content, but hate the advertising? What if the advertising becomes too overpowering because of a greedy sales manager at the publishing company for the users? Sure, the publisher will loose readers, but how can the publisher balance advertisements and reader’s needs, wants, and desires?

I’ve long advocated advertising in RSS (though I don’t do it here because I’m too lazy to figure it out, and I have nothing to sell) as long as the advertising is targeted and relevant to the audience of the RSS feed. For example, a website about Sci-fi books might offer one ad in a feed of 10 news items that changes once a week for a new book – that would be targeted and relevant.

Another example might be Gawker offering local New York businesses a weekly sponsorship of their RSS feed only to local businesses that offer something to local readers in New York, and to earn the opportunity to sponsor the feed, those businesses must truly offer something of value to New York readers that will drive traffic to their store: A supermarket offering free milk if you buy $10 of crap at their store, or J&R offering a free CF card if you come buy something at their down-town store on a Saturday where they’re having an HP marketing event… something like that is targeted and relevant and offers value to the reader.

The ad should only show up in the RSS feed as ‘new’ once per week or month, depending on the audience that it’s targeted to reach. And yes, I agree, weekly ‘new’ would probably work best for most advertisers.

Adam Kalsey shows how to put a weekly ad in his SimpleLinks RSS feed that’s produced with MovableType with this article.

Amazon does a good job of offering their content through RSS feeds, and I’d argue that this is a complete feed system that’s truly just advertising as content.

And lastly, Ken Schaefer provides his comments on advertisements in RSS feeds in this post on his weblog.

Blogger Pro to become free again

Translation from the Googlese: Deconstructinng the Blogger Pro announcement Ý

Interesting development. Blogger Pro is going to be a free product… I hope that means good things for the blog world.

BBEdit CVS Integration

Worth reading to any Macintosh-using developer or dabbler:

BBEdit Version Control by John Gruber [via Daring Fireball]

Thanks John.

Sales QOTD: Opportunity

“Opportunity is missed by most people, because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
— Thomas Edison (1847-1931)

Don’t miss out on an opportunity because it looks like work.

Why you should ALWAYS Listen to Marketing Professionals

Well, Andy finally spilled the beans about Up2Speed becoming MarketingWonk. It’s a really funny story, if you’re interested in what’s happening with the old MarketingFix (why we didn’t go back to the original brand, I have no idea).

Read on

Oh, and always listen to marketing professionals because they always know what they’re talking about ;)

No Powerbook this weekend

After receiving many tips and cautions about buying a new Powerbook this weekend, I decided to hold off. I still haven’t confirmed the CompUSA promotion about buying a new Macintosh and getting a good financing deal yet, but I will prior to the end of this coming week.

I also learning something thanks to the comments on my last post:

MacRumor’s Buyer’s Guide – definitely a bookmarkable site. Thanks Jon.

Mad Cow

totally worth watching:

Mad Cow

(make sure that you’re sound is on… but don’t have your sound too loud if you’re at work)

Enjoy…

Buying a Powerbook this weekend

The wife and I took a few minutes this past weekend to drop into the local CompUSA to check out the new G5 and look at the Powerbook options available to us today. I really liked the G5, as it’s a very clean design sitting next to a big Apple flatscreen monitor, but what really caught our attention was the 12″ Powerbook.

We’ve got a Airport network at the house, an iBook 700, and a 5 year old iMac Bondi (bought on August 15, 1998). The iMac has been a great machine, and has been upgraded to a 466MHz G4 with a 45GB hard drive, but it’s really dog slow compared to what we find comfortable to use on a daily basis. At this point, we really only use the machine to store MP3s (about 35GB of the disk is MP3s).

We’ve both grown quite (lazy) accustomed to using the iBook from the comfort of the couch while the other person is watching TV or reading, or doing something else in the house, but when we both want to be on the computer at the same time, we end up fighting over the iBook instead of one of us being ‘the gentleman’ and using the iMac… it’s a good machine, but it’s slow and tied to a desk in the back of the house…

So, we talked ourself into buying a 12″ Powerbook while at CompUSA this past weekend, and were quite ready to buy one, but they didn’t have any in stock, so CompUSA lost a sale, and Apple lost a sale, but…

I just read this post over at Dealmac about CompUSA offering no-payments until March 2005 on any Apple system costing over $999, and I can tell you that we’ll be heading to CompUSA this weekend to purchase a new Powerbook… and since we don’t have to pay for almost a year and a half, I can almost see us getting a 15″ or 17″ Powerbook (higher resale value later on down the road)…

Sadly, there’s no promotion of this offer on CompUSA’s website at all… so I think I’ll call the local store to check on the validity of it before I drive over again, and also to check on the stock of laptops ;)

This weekend will be interesting and exciting. [dealmac article found via megnut]