Glad to have you here but remember, you could be spending your time more wisely. Family, friends, maybe even your job if you are really pushed for something to do. David also writes the Building Our Home Blog as well as the wildly popular Dave’s Mindscape

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Market Research

I got a call this Saturday morning or rather I would have if my wife hadn't picked up the phone. It was a market researcher. She told them not to call back.
I was pleased not to have answered the phone myself because a) it was Saturday morning and b) I don't care if your company wants my opinion.
Having browsed a lot of forums and feedback venues, I found that the comments directed at companies and their products were skewed towards the negative.
It seemed to me that people were more likely to take the time to say that a company and or their product(s) could be better, e.g. "Your company would be better run by monkeys", or "I've bought better stuff from a dollar store", than they were to offer praise.
If I am correct, people calling for opinions are starting off in a bad place.
If I wanted to say something about your company, it may not be what you wanted to hear.
If I am already your customer, I have paid for and expect a good product or service, so if you don't hear from me, everything is OK. "No news is good news".
N.B. My phones are for my convenience. I want to call and to hear from family and friends. And order pizza. No matter what time zone you are calling from, if my time is weekend, evening, suppertime, let's just make that anytime, I don't want to talk to you, so don't take it as a personal affront when I tell you not to call back or anything else that may slip out in an unguarded moment. And if you are trying to sell or even inform me of a not to be missed, once in a lifetime opportunity, well, I'll give it a miss thanks all the same.
I buy what I want when I can afford it. If I need help spending, I am sure I can get all the help I need right here at home, thanks anyway.
Hint for telemarketers: If you are on commission, don't waste your time. Move on.
Hint for researchers: If I have an opinion, I will give it. Just not to you.
All others: If I want to hear from you, I will let you know.
General hints: People prefer to be bothered in their own language by someone who enunciates each or at least most of the words. Rushing through a script does not help. VOIP and cell calls may be the norm but in no way are they as clear as the old landlines (POTS).
If a company comes up with a device that screens calls and deals with them like a junk mail filter, they will do really well.
I just hope they don't call me when they do :)
Now you have my opinion.

Protect your iPhone in style

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Voyeur to Vandal?

An interesting quote from Stephen Fry No Comment “The fact that I will have turned off my website’s comments facility or moderated it into effective silence is even now driving some of my readers (a tiny minority I’m happy to think) insane.”

"Peeping" through the window of your computer is expected, even encouraged.
Some hosts invite you to comment or criticize (whether they read your input is another thing). Some sites let anyone with half a mind to post, post.
But what if you feel compelled to offer your opinion and the inconsiderate designers have not included a soapbox for you. What indeed.
Stephen Fry of Jeeves and Wooster, Last Chance to See, and followed by over 2 million tweeters, http://twitter.com/stephenfry is now pushing Pushnote beta.
I read the PCWorld article about Pushnote beta, which on first read might lead some to believe that those with half a mind to post could salute or slam the person/product/website on the website whether or not the site allows comments. It was obvious, from the comments by the readers, that they believed this was the point of the software. Say it ain’t so.
It ain’t so. Ya can’t just graffiti on someone’s site, unless you’re a cracker/hacker.
Pushnote beta, not to be confused with the PushNote app for the iPhone, is a browser plug-in that allows people to comment on what is on a site. The comments are available to other users of the plug-in. They are not posted on the site. Reminds me of StumbleUpon where you can comment and recommend sites and randomly Stumble across sites based on your interests and the recommendation of others.
Pushnote does let you cross post to Facebook and Twitter but does not rank or recommend sites so you are on your own there. It does have links to The Web and Hot Pages which are pages that have been commented on.
If you have a site you could join Pushnote and see what people are saying and posting on social media, assuming it catches on with the masses. The downside: You can’t edit or delete comments, your own or other’s. The upside: At least you know what is being said and maybe address any valid concerns.
You say you neither read nor write comments as a rule. Hmm.
Is the average Joe going to sign up for an account, download and install the plug-in (which gave me some little trouble in Firefox but worked after updating the browser) so he/she can praise web content or will the majority just be slamming sites and other users?
So far the comments on StephenFry.com have been mostly positive with 3 4 votes for Stephen for Prime Minister or Pope.

For people who still use the Post Office Lake Nipissing postcard

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Old School Computer Interface

I didn’t think I’d have anything to say about tablets for a while but I was wrong.
That is to say I do and I was right.
In my recent post I postulate that people will revert to a physical interface e.g. keyboard and mouse over the virtual keyboard and touch screen. Yes, I know that a touch screen is physical but sliding a finger over or lightly tapping a screen does not provide the satisfaction one gets by pounding on the keys or gripping a mouse.
But I did not see this coming.
The iCADE by ION “brings arcade gaming to life by integrating your iPad into an authentic, arcade-style cabinet complete with joystick and buttons! Impress your friends, family and co-workers with iCADE's great-looking retro design, and then challenge them for high-scores on the most entertaining iPad accessory imaginable!”
That’s right. A full sized joystick and big fat buttons for playing AsteroidsTM and more from Atari’s library along with new titles.
As if you needed another reason to buy an iPad.
I can see it now in cubicles and boardrooms around the world.
Maybe not, but it would definitely be fun.

All products trademark of their respective companies.

Fantasy Sword iPad Case

Friday, January 7, 2011

Tablet Wars CES 2011 Part II

Reports from the International Consumer Electronics Show are saying more than 80 new tablets will be released this year.
That much fragmentation in the segment may drive prices down as manufactures try to wrest market share from Apple. There is certainly scope for improvement considering the iPad has limited connectivity to external devices and precludes phone and video conference functions.
Tablets are here to stay. Surely Apple with their proprietary offering will not pull a Sony BetaMax, but there was the Newton. According to Wikipedia “the Newton project fell victim to project slippage, scope creep, and a growing fear that it would interfere with Macintosh sales”. Coincidentally there was a sale on Macbook Pro at Future Shop over the Christmas holidays.
As for pricing the 10” iPad sans phone functionality is close to the 7” Samsung Galaxy Tab with Adobe® Flash® and video calling ability.
Can the price come down? A consumer showed me a tablet she had purchased online for $50 plus $50 for shipping from China. Some Apple products are made in China. So the electronics may not be where the cost is. The cost must be for the company’s reputation, R&D and support. Or is it just what the market will bear.
Blackberry, the renowned Smartphone maker is set to release the 7.6” Playbook featuring Flash, front and rear facing cameras, a dual core processor and their proprietary OS. In spite of reports of limited battery life, Blackberry says their tablet will provide usability consistent with the industry but with over 80 entries this year alone that could mean just about anything.
Microsoft seems to have sidestepped the tablet market by focusing Windows 7 on their Windows Phone and devices like Acer’s Iconia a notebook with two touch screens.
What is my take on tablets?
See Tablet Wars CES 2011 Part I

All products trademark of their respective companies.

iPad cases

Tablet Wars CES 2011 Part I

The iPad was the “gotta have” device of 2010.
Customers did not need to be sold, they just said, “I want one”.
About the only questions were Wi-Fi or 3G and 16, 32 or 64 Gig. Reminds me of my humorous post of 2008 about “early adopters”.
I like tablets. They are fun but are they practical?
Once the novelty wears off, will typing on the virtual keyboard become the norm or will people want the tactile feedback of a real keyboard?
I am not a touch typist but I want to stumble across real keys not pictorial ones.
What about protection? The first accessory people buy for their tablet is a screen protector because the screen is a big sheet of glass. Then they buy a case, or shove it in a bag. Not so sleek now is it. But, if you pay over half a grand for something you’re going to want to protect it.
What do I want in a portable computing device?
A 10” touch screen. Any smaller and I might as well use my HTC Desire.
It should close like a net book and have a keyboard.
Rubberized shell so you don’t need a case. Hey, it’s a work device.
3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and USB for connectivity.
Dual core processor and 2 gigs of ram for speed.
A web cam and microphone for Skype.
The latest version of Android.
Maybe in 3D too.
I’m still looking.
See Tablet Wars CES 2011 Part II

All products trademark of their respective companies.

iPad case

Internet on my TV

During my recent seasonal employment at Future Shop I was surprised at the number of people asking how to get "the Internet" on their TV.
I’ve been viewing Internet content on mine for a long time for free.
There are commercial solutions such as Apple TV, D-Link’s Boxee Box and Western Digital’s WD TV Live Hub Media Center.
I would highly recommend visiting the respective company’s websites and reading all the information, FAQ’s and check out the user’s comments under the Support section of the product keeping in mind that some users may not be that tech savvy.
How can you surf on your TV without spending any cash?
If you have an unused computer and a fairly recent TV you have most of what you need.
Connect the computer to your router either wired (preferred method) or wirelessly, plug in the HDMI cable (carries audio and video) to the computer and TV, choose the input source on the TV remote and Voila! The Internet is on your TV.
If your computer does not have an HDMI connection you can use a DVI cable or VGA cable like the one on your monitor for the video and a stereo mini-phone to RCA “y” cable from the computer headphone output to your stereo or TV for sound.
So, what does this give you? Anything you could see and hear on the computer is available on the TV. Family photos, PowerPoint, YouTube, music, movies, Internet stuff and even work if you must. And all for free.
You say you don’t want to sit 3 feet in front of the TV with a mouse and keyboard? Well, you can buy a wireless keyboard and mouse and control things from your easy chair or download the free TIGHTvnc server on the TV computer and TIGHTvnc viewer on your laptop and remotely control the TV computer.
My solution is not quite as elegant as the commercial solutions and may require a bit more work to set up but I like the price, the features available with a computer and I already know how to operate it.
What if you need to buy some parts?
I like to support local retailers but some things like cables are much cheaper online.
HDMI cables run $7 and up online at Tigerdirect.ca. Retail they cost $28.
VGA cables online $13. Retail $44.
DVI to HDMI online $32 .Retail $50 or Monster Cable $150
3' Mini-RCA Audio Cable online $7. Retail $11.
Wireless keyboard and mouse online $43 retail $23. Go figure.
If you don’t have an extra computer, ask a friend or pick one up online off-lease or refurbished starting at $150 or retail starting at $250.
All prices approximate. I have no affiliation with these companies.

All products trademark of their respective companies.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Adequately Employed

I am looking for work. A job. A career.
Being in the Information Technology field I have worked full-time, part-time and projects so I am prepared for long or short term employment.
I read a lot of posts related to job hunting and have made some observations.
The take-away from the last article I read was that there is an enormous probability that your resume/cover letter will never be seen, and that Human Resources managers advise you, the job seeker, to speak directly to the hiring manager. Good advice.
You may be wondering why that masterpiece of literature and information you crafted for submission to a prospective employer will not see the light of day (or the glow of a monitor).
Employers receive hundreds, even thousands of applications from all over and they just can not practically spend the time going through each and every resume and cover letter they receive. Some of the larger corporations may use electronic means to sift through the e-pile and discard the Englishly challenged but the use of American vs. Canadian dictionaries could send your resume off with the rest of the detritus. I find no humor/humour in that.
If the hiring manager wants a short list of 5 interviewees, the HR manager may not peruse all 832 of the finely wrought applications received. If they are like most people they will use the law of Last Place. Why are your keys in the Last Place you look? Because you don’t keep looking once you have found them.
So, having found 5 applicants that fit the requirements, the HR manager’s work is done. Why would they keep looking? Your missive fades into the ether.
What is the best strategy a job seeker can use in a situation like this?
Be one of the first few to send in your resume? No.
Every one who emails after you will be nearer the top of HR’s email.
Be one of the last to send in your resume? No.
What if HR orders their email alphabetically ascending by email address or by attachment size instead of chronologically?
Does this mean you shouldn’t bother polishing up your resume?
If you are in IT, YES!
Everyone else, carry on as usual.
The odds are not good but you buy lottery tickets anyway don’t you?
What did I take-away from this article? Companies choose from the first few adequate applications they review. They may hire a STAR but having interviewed few out of 832, the odds aren’t in their favor/favour either.
What should you take-away?
Speak directly to the hiring manager.
It’s a numbers game, it’s not personal.
Employed people are no more adequate for the position than you would have been had you the good fortune to have your resume reviewed.

Need stamps for your snail mail?


With 2011 firmly underway I am thinking of THE END OF THE WORLD as we know it.
Darn those Mayans.
2012 is looming and visions of Zombies dance through my head.
But fear not. A visit to your freezer should sooth your worried mind.
One look at that frozen pound of Canadian bacon tells you, you have nothing to dread.
Meat at that temperature just does not move. At my latitude we will only have to hold off the Zombies for the 2 or 3 weeks of Summer (or Black Fly/Mosquito Season as we call it). But what will we eat? Any place warm enough to grow food will be overrun and I don’t think any ad campaign that has BUY ZOMBIE as a tagline will go over well.
The answer may be to raise your own food. Who knows, you may qualify for tax credits as a rancher.
In case there is a 2013.

Poke fun at your slow friends.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year 2011

Having just finished a seasonal job at Future Shop my mind was still on consumer technology products. The first “news” story of 2011 that I clicked on featured iPad cases.
Although Santa didn’t leave any of the popular devices under our tree I’m not upset ‘cause those ten inch screens just don’t fit in any of my pockets and I’m not going to start carrying a tablet sleeve so I can check my email or watch YouTube. I can do that and play Angry Birds on my Android phone. I can even make a call.
Don’t get me wrong, I think iPads are neat but I think they will be neater if version 2 comes with USB connectivity and video calling capability.
Back to the cases. I was online perusing some beautiful and unique cases (see links below) for i Stuff (Pads, Pods, Phones) thinking that if I had put out over half a thousand dollars for the dingus, the cost of a case was not an unreasonable investment to protect it.
Then I saw the price of the Prada and Louis Vuitton cases. $420 USD and £240 ($374 USD) respectively. At least they don’t come with a pouch for carrying a small dog.
I don’t suppose I’ll be getting any offers from the fashion industry but I do know what I like.

All products trademark of their respective companies.

Dequilla     Tor Design     LadyBugLane     damccaskill

One of Ruth J Jamieson's online stores, dequilla, is full of beautiful nature themed products including iPad and iPhone cases. The artist says "Spiritual influences also have a strong presence in my work". The images on these items comes from several sources, Ruth's imagination, her photography and from fractals (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fractal) creating origial works of art that can be customized by the purchaser.

Tor Design
Tor Design by shiomi showcases her original art, graphic humor and photography. The artist and author is a recent graduate of a three year Graphic Design college program.

LadyBugLane artist Shelley's focus is based on her photography of animals and nature. Her ability to capture the emotion of the moment brings a sense of comfort and familiarity to her designs.

The artist presently known as David does not have a focus but tends toward humorous observations.