Video Killed the Radio Star

And our everyday work habits are killing productivity – more on that in a minute.

From Wikipediawww.wikipedia.org

On August 1, 1981, at 12:01 a.m., MTV launched with the words “Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll,” spoken by John Lack, and played over footage of the first Space Shuttle launch countdown of Columbia, which took place earlier that year, and of the launch of Apollo 11. Those words were immediately followed by the original MTV theme song. And then history was made with the airing of the first music video shown on MTV.  It was The Buggles‘ “Video Killed the Radio Star“, and the second music video shown was Pat Benatar‘s “You Better Run“.  Check it out:

Now onto today’s topic about productivity.  We all strive to get more into the day, be more productive, finding more efficiencies, thinking outside the box.  You know what I am talking about.  However many of us have fallen into some really bad habits that are so profound, it really does not matter what else you do until you can solve for these challenges.  A most awesome infographic outlines the Big 7 for productivity failure below.  Thanks to the folks at Column Five and Marketo.

Productivity

How many of these are you great at?  Time to get great at other things.

Webman

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Touchscreens

Since the beginning of our computing experience, we were tethered to the computer either through a mouse or a touchpad on the computer.  This devices enabled us to interact with our e-mail, games, browsers etc. and enabled us to navigate through the many options that exist in this wild, wild world.  But now all of that has been changed by the touchscreens available on our smartphones and tablets.  And what a new phenomenon this is.  We push, we pinch, we use all five fingers to make new and even more amazing things happen, all with our phalanges.

And this reminds me of a song:

Come on, come on, come on, come on
Now touch me, baby
Can’t you see that I am not afraid?
What was that promise that you made?
Why won’t you tell me what she said?
What was that promise that you made?

Now, I’m gonna love you
Till the heavens stop the rain
I’m gonna love you
Till the stars fall from the sky for you and I
[ Lyrics from: http://www.lyricsfreak.com/d/doors/touch+me_20042756.html ]
Come on, come on, come on, come on
Now touch me, baby
Can’t you see that I am not afraid?
What was that promise that you made?
Why won’t you tell me what she said?
What was that promise that you made?

I’m gonna love you
Till the heavens stop the rain
I’m gonna love you
Till the stars fall from the sky for you and I

Touch Me – The Doors

A classic of course.  But now back to the touchscreen topic.  What is a touchscreen you might ask?

A touchscreen is an electronic visual display that can detect the presence and location of a touch within the display area. The term generally refers to touching the display of the device with a finger or hand. Touchscreens can also sense other passive objects, such as a stylus. Touchscreens are common in devices such as game consoles, all-in-one computers, tablet computers, and smartphones.

The touchscreen has two main attributes. First, it enables one to interact directly with what is displayed, rather than indirectly with a pointer controlled by a mouse or touchpad. Secondly, it lets one do so without requiring any intermediate device that would need to be held in the hand (other than a stylus, which is optional for most modern touchscreens). Such displays can be attached to computers, or to networks as terminals. They also play a prominent role in the design of digital appliances such as the personal digital assistant (PDA), satellite navigation devices, mobile phones, and video games. (Sourced from Wikipedia)

There are many forms of touch technology. The first touchscreen appeared in 1965, and while we think of them as a relatively recent development, it’s easy to forget we’ve been using them in devices like cash machines for nearly 30 years.

More recently, we’ve seen two main types of touchscreen technology. The older resistive type uses a screen comprising two separate layers with a small gap between them. Pressing down on the top layer makes it touch the bottom layer, and the connection is recorded as a tap. The biggest drawback with resistive screens is that they’re far less accurate than other technologies, and most don’t support multi-touch.

Capacitive touchscreens use glass displays insulated with a conductive layer. As our fingers are also conductive, touching the screen produces a small charge that produces a disruption in the screen’s electrostatic field, which is recorded. Capacitive technologies are more accurate than resistive, and support multi-touch gestures.

Despite their obvious advantage, capacitive screens have their disadvantages too: they rely on the charge in your finger, so they won’t work with gloves.

These days, a new technology based on old standards is gaining ground. Optical touchscreens are developed by a company called NextWindow.  Working together, two optical sensors track the movement of any object close to the surface by detecting the interruption of an infra-red light source. The light is emitted in a plane across the surface of the screen and can be either active (infra-red LED) or passive (special reflective surfaces).

At the heart of the system is a printed circuit controller board that receives signals from the optical sensors.  Its software then compensates for optical distortions and triangulates the position of the touching object with extreme accuracy.

Some techno babble for you today.  All I know is that I love my iPad and my iPhone and the touchscreen capabilities are just awesome.

Enjoy the day.

Webman

Pinterest Moves Merchandise

In our previous discussions about Pinterest, we discussed why the easy to use site was growing like a weed and attracting new users at an incredible rate.  For a quick refresher, Pinterest is a pinboard-style social photo sharing website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests, hobbies, and more. Users can browse other pinboards for inspiration, ‘re-pin’ images to their own collections and/or ‘like’ photos. Pinterest’s mission is to “connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting” via a global platform of inspiration and idea sharing. Pinterest allows its users to share ‘pins’ on both Twitter and Facebook, which allows users to share and interact with a broad community. (Information sourced from Wikipedia)

Here is a brief tutorial to get you started.

Pinterest is now the 3rd most popular social network site in the world, and ecommerce stores can leverage its popularity to significantly increase traffic and sales, according to Shopify.   Shopify is an e-commerce platform that allows individuals and businesses to create online stores.  They have over 25,000 on-line merchants using their platform.  Nice sample size 🙂

Merchants care about moving product, making money and driving customer loyalty.  They want us to buy stuff.  Pinterest started as a pin board but now many of those pins come with price tags that enable you to click and buy the item you might be pinterested in (See what I did there).  Here are a couple of examples.

So all you have to do is click on the price and you are taken to the site where you can purchase the item.  Do people do this?  You bet they do.  Check this out.

$80 bucks per average order.  More than all of the big players.  Impressive.

The world of e-commerce continues to change.  Check out the rest of the infographic at http://www.shopify.com/blog/6058268-how-pinterest-drives-ecommerce-sales

Enjoy the day.

Webman

Why I Love Fantasy Baseball!

I have played fantasy baseball for many years.  For those that may not be aware of what fantasy baseball is, here is the definition from Wikipedia:

Fantasy baseball is a game where participants manage an imaginary roster of real Major League baseball players. The participants compete against one another using those players’ real life statistics to score points. It can be very time-intensive due to the 162-game season of the MLB and the inconsistency of players.  So you are a real team manager, able to make all of the rosters moves you want, make trades, bench players etc.  In our league, we set our rosters only once per week, on Sunday, and hope that no one gets hurt on a Monday as you cannot adjust your roster until the next week.  Those of us participate because:

  • We love baseball
  • We like the camaraderie
  • It keeps us up to speed with all of baseball and not just your favorite teams
  • We love talking smack

Every league has a chat board where the managers discuss everything from how their teams are doing, pumping up their players in an effort to trade them, sharing the most mundane of baseball facts and statistics and my favorite part, poking a little fun at the other managers.

This season has already seen some incredible posts so I wanted to share with you the one thread that still has me laughing out loud.  It is between three managers – Who Ate My Cheese, Lost on the Beach and MDC or Musique Du Chin.  (Chin music of course.  I did not originate this name but after the statute of limitations was up, borrowed the name for my team).  Here comes the thread – I am still laughing out loud about it – Chinteresting 🙂

CHEESE – I came across this story today on MSN, and I thought it had a hint of MDC in it.

http://todayhealth.today.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/04/16/11188357-for-cosmetic-surgery-chins-are-the-new-breasts-chinplants-on-the-rise?lite – I for one will refuse a chinplant, however will enjoy a cheeseplant, which is better than a face plant.

LOST – For the record, The Arena Baseball League has a very strict policy against Performance Enhancing Chins (PECs). We have received some information regarding MDC’s off season trip to the Dominican Republic and we are vigorously investigating the matter to see if there is any impropriety. There have been some strong concerns about this recent photo of the Chin in his team’s media guide:

A younger version of the Webman! Oh that Chin 🙂

LOST – I can’t stop laughing. I think I just spit coffee out my nose. Maybe my favorite post ever!

CHEESE – He could bunt with that chin. Unfair advantage. Point deduction demanded. Ohh the Chinsanity.

MDC – Now that is one of the funniest things I have ever seen. I will need to check Ancestry.com to see if I am related to Bill Cowher, best chin of all time.

So there you have it.  This is my main reason for playing fantasy baseball.  These guys are just flat out funny.

Webman

Business Transparency…Yeah Right!

Second in a series as to why businesses fail.

Continuing yesterday’s theme using definitions, here is one from Wikipedia on Transparency in Business –  Transparency, as used in scienceengineeringbusiness, the humanities and in a social context more generally, implies openness, communication, and accountability. Transparency is operating in such a way that it is easy for others to see what actions are performed.

Given all of the issues over the last few years with financial firms, accounting regulations, Bernie Madoff and the like, we hear the word transparency quite a bit these days.  Many businesses use transparency as a key word to secure your trust as an employee, to provide you with a sense of greater good, where they craft the illusion that they are above reproach and will treat you with the dignity and respect that you deserve.

Of course this is really nothing more than marketing spin, getting you to buy something you think you need.  Only it is not a product they are trying to buy; it is your trust.  So you walk into managements office and they say “We are a very transparent company” or “I am a very transparent manager and I expect complete transparency from you as well.”  And because you want to believe in this world where ethics, morals, honesty, trust and integrity have gone right down the old Bemis, that it will be different for you at this employer, because deep down that is what you would like it to be.  Do not fall for this jive.

All organizations have a transparency culture, that part of the culture that relates to transparency; but few have a culture of transparency, i.e., a culture of being aware of transparency and incorporating it routinely into how things are done.

So we are going to change the definition of business transparency today – the new definition is that business transparency occurs only when it is convenient for the business, regardless of what is said or stated on one’s website. Think about it.  Why does every PowerPoint presentation come with a confidentiality clause even when it is just an internal presentation and even after you have signed a confidentiality clause anyway upon gaining your employment?  Or why is there so much legal mumbo jumbo to govern your every phone, e-mail or chat?  The reason is so an employer can use this information anyway they want to fit their needs.  Don’t ever forget this.

If you are a business owner, take a minute to reflect on how you are running your business.  Are you truly being transparent and engaging your employees regularly with the business challenges and ideas necessary to grow and create an environment of trust, passion and success?  Or are you a business leader that manipulates their employees, engaging them only when you deem necessary or when it fits your definition of transparency?

Take a look in the mirror.  Who are you?

Webman