Archives for October 2006

Another Marketing “Holiday” gone, thankfully

I don’t like Valentine’s Day, and I have never liked Halloween. I don’t like “made up” “holidays”. And today was a damn good day for retailer’s, from all accounts. Without doubt, the biggest selling Halloween ever.

Good for all of you that were involved. Me, I am just happy I made it through yet another year of not having to give super-saturated sugar-based crap to kids who probably have the worst opportunity for Dental care of anyone.

Interestingly enough, both of my kids had Dental appointments today. And yes, the Dentist was giving out candy – liberally. Imagine that. I suppose it’s good for business.

I don’t like contrived holidays – I don’t like having someone else dictate when it is acceptable for me to “be nice, and do something special” for people I care about. I’m not crazy about the fact that we spend as much money on Halloween and Valentine’s as we do, yet more and more kids end up with huge college loans when they graduate. Wouldn’t it make more sense to spend that money on education rather than promoting tooth decay, or ridiculous outrageously over-weight people in “I Dream of Jeanie” costumes?

Maybe it’s just me. It probably is.

Rob

Something came up today – a good thing…

But it may keep me busy for a while – really busy.  So if my posts slow down (like any of you have ever complained that I post to infrequently!), then I apologize.

Rob

Google Reader

I’ve been using Google reader exclusively for about a week. It hasn’t always been easy. I loved Onfolio, but I didn’t see any progress being made on it, and Microsoft didn’t have any blogs for it, and emails sent in for suggestions/comments etc went unanswered. So I got the feeling Onfolio was a dead product (someone please prove it isn’t!).

I had way to much time invested in Onfolio already to invest more, when I was unsure of it’s future. So I regretfully abandoned it and with trepidation, moved to a web-based alternative.

I tried Google Reader on Robert Scoble’s suggestion – and for the most part, it is OK.

And that is exactly the problem with it. It is just OK. It isn’t a killer app, and doesn’t even offer a killer feature. It just (mostly) works.

Mostly I just tolerate it. And that isn’t praise – it’s actually odd. I do not like the application, but I am still using it. Why? Too painful of a migration? No, OPML solves that. It took me 5 minutes to move from Onfolio to Google Reader.

So why still with Google Reader? I suppose there are a lot of reasons, but probably the primary one is, I have every reason to believe it will get better.

Quite simply, Microsoft bought Onfolio, and Onfolio appears (to me) to be dead. Google Reader has active blogging by the development team. I know there are people out there working on Reader. I think they are even listening to me, and people like me. I think they are learning, just as we are – what a feed reader needs to “feel like” in a browser.

Honestly, it needs to “feel” like Onfolio – like an application with lots of possibilities instead of a browser with few capabilities. And unlike a lot of applications being mimicked in a browser, a feed reader is actually a (relatively) simple thing to emulate. It’s not an editor, or a paint program, or video – it’s a simple display platform for web content delivered via syndication. It’s text, pictures, perhaps video and attachments. But it’s also a “read” application, not a “read/write” application. Having a very limited set of potential user input (shortcut keystrokes, etc), the designers of a web based feed reader soul be focusing completely on three things:

1. Stability

2. Compatibility (with every browser platform)

3. GUI – the user experience

Google Reader does quite well on #2, but so far just “ok” on number one. Number three is the big loser – the site just doesn’t take advantage of the rich environment they COULD build for users. In this case, I don’t think “minimalist Google” is appropriate.

I also don’t think they have come anywhere close to what they will eventually offer – streams of information fed to you that you really want to see – because they will know almost exactly what interests you – from your previous reading habits, perhaps your GMail, Google Searches, etc. And you won’t even mind the ads much, because it’s just easier to find what you want on Google Reader than anywhere else on the web.

Microsoft doesn’t offer a web-based reader. I bet that doesn’t last through the end of the year. There is to much face-time with this audience, and to much data about customers likes and dislikes for any company in the search business to ignore.

Face it – the metrics on the web are at the beginning of a change – instead of measuring how many customers are subscribed to a given feed, we’ll be measuring how many minutes readers spend on each entry of each given blog entry. Talk about targeted advertising – we haven’t seen anything yet.

Years ago my father told me that you can learn a lot about a man based on the books in his house. And anyone with a web-based reader will certainly know what “books” we are reading.

Appropriate Government Oversight

It’s rare that I find government oversight to be a good thing, but in this case, I think it’s valid, and important.  It’s amazing how much intel the average soldier knows, without even realizing they know it.

 

Link to Army monitors soldiers’ blogs, Web sites – Tech News & Reviews – MSNBC.com

Wired News: Feds Leapfrog RFID Privacy Study

 Great,  DHS’s own security advisory committee creates a report (warning – PDF) on how insecure RFID is, and at the same time DHS is mandating the technology in passports.

The Department of Homeland Security should consider carefully whether to use RFID to
identify and track individuals, given the variety of technologies that may serve the same
goals with less risk to privacy and related interests.

But imagine my dismay when the RFID industry didn’t agree 🙂

The draft report concludes that “RFID appears to offer little benefit when compared to the consequences it brings for privacy and data integrity” — a finding that was widely criticized by RFID industry officials when the committee met in June.

Source: Wired News: Feds Leapfrog RFID Privacy Study