Thoughts & news on technology…well, mostly

Why Circuit City is getting killed by Best Buy

Before I begin telling you my recent shopping experience with Circuit City I want to say one thing: for any retail or consumer product/service company, I believe, at a minimum, Sr. Management (CEO, VP, COO, etc.) should be *required* to purchase their own products.  This way, they experience what their customers deal with and can resolve them.

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Filed under: Retail, Shopping, Thoughts

Death threats against bloggers

I just read something that has really bummed me out: a blogger and author named Kathy Sierra started receiving death threats 4 weeks ago. Trolls and negative comments and/or emails are one thing but death threats are another. To top it off, the person(s) even posted a photoshopped picture of her with a noose next to her head…yeah, I agree with Kathy, that crosses a line.

After reading her post, it, unfortunately, shows how many assholes (for lack of a better word) are out there. It also shows how some people feel like they can say/write anything since they feel anonymous when posting comments, discussion forum posts, etc. because they can hide behind a handle/nickname. This shows how ugly mankind can really be and I hope this type of activity doesn’t flourish in the blogosphere.

I can only wish Kathy the best and that some form of justice will be given to the person(s) behind the death threats.

Filed under: Thoughts

The Dilbertization of IT

dilbert.gifeWeek has a great article about how IT workplaces have become bureaucratic and emphasize the maintenance of their current technology over creativity and innovation. These excerpts sum it up perfectly:

In the simplest terms: too many IT workplaces have become Dilbert-ized—micromanaged, bureaucratic and stifled creatively. It’s become an environment where busy work is praised and morale is low…

…There’s less emphasis on creativity, and more on maintenance. Tweak this, work on this… In being reactive not proactive, everything is a crisis. Something has to be done right now, putting out fire after fire, going a long way to making IT a less pleasant environment…

…When IT stops interacting with the rest of the company, stops exerting influence by no longer offering innovative technology solutions for business problems, it packages itself in an easily shipped box.

Since the article is titled, “How to Stop the Dilbertization of IT” it gives some recommendations on how to stop it: go back to square one, stop placing the blame elsewhere, let IT be more than firefighters, and better managers get better results.

Filed under: Technology, Thoughts

What’s next for Twitter?

Along with all of the Twitter-hype there have been a lot of people wondering where it will go from here. Among the many posts, here are some I suggest reading: Matt Balez’s RIP Twitter (2007 – 2007), Dave Winer’s The Future of Twitter?, Jeff Ventura’s Where does Twitter go from here? Live, die or evolve?, and the Wall Street Journal’s Friends Swat Twitters and Frustration.

All of these web 2.0/social websites are a natural extension of our basic human tendency (or need) to communicate but there’s a limit before others start to feel like you’re over communicating. This is already happening where some Twitterers are telling their friends to stop posting about what they ate for lunch, dinner, etc. Speaking of, this picture, from Peter Cashmore, does a great job illustrating this point from the perspective of catblogging:


Personally, with Twitter’s current features (and performance issues) I think the Twitter hype will slowly end unless if it evolves into something more useful. That being said, there are some creative uses for Twitter other than posting about yourself. One example is using Twitter as the delivery mechanism for home automation. Another, is using it in the newsroom. So, perhaps, Twitter 1.0 will be a fad but v2.0 will provide more of a value proposition(?).

Filed under: Social Web, Technology, Thoughts, Web 2.0

To Twitter or not to Twitter?

twitter.PNGIf you’re not familiar with Twitter, here’s an overview: it’s like a micro blog where people answer a simple question of “What are you doing?” By answering this question, in 140 characters or less, it allows you to inform your circle of friends, in real-time, about what you’re doing. You post updates (called tweets) via Twitter.com, mobile phone, IM, or a desktop app (like Twitterrific and Twitteroo). If you’ve connected your mobile phone to Twitter, you’ll get an SMS message whenever your friends posts an update…which is basically a group SMS mailing list – similar to Dodgeball (remember that?) but easier to use.

When I first checked-out Twitter 3 -4 months ago I thought, “Eh, what’s the big deal?” Now that South by Southwest Conference (SXSW) is over and Twitter won the SXSW Web Award, I decided to create an account to see what all the hype is about. After playing around with it for a day or two, I now understand why it’s popular but it’s not for me. I don’t feel the need to post what I’m doing throughout the day. Besides, do people need to know what I’m doing and do they really care? I doubt it.

I think Twitter can cause information overload because there’s no way to filter the noise (e.g., “eating a burrito for lunch”). The potential to receive more noise than signal is quite high. Most people’s lives aren’t that interesting so there’s no need to know all of the details…unless, of course, if you’re a stalker. And, if you are, you’re probably already using Twitter. 😉

So, to Twitter or not to Twitter – that is the question. My answer (for now): not to Twitter.

Btw, if you’re interested in reading some Twitters, here are some relatively well-known people using Twitter: John Edwards, Robert Scoble, Dave Winer, and Steve Rubel.

Filed under: Social Web, Technology, Thoughts, Web 2.0

Charges against Patricia Dunn dropped??!!

Remember Patricia Dunn – the former ex-chair of Hewlett Packard’s Board of Directors? The one who hired a private detective to illegally spy on HP’s board members? Well, a California judge dropped the wire fraud charges against Dunn citing her battle with ovarian cancer. Are you f’ing kidding me?!! She clearly did something illegal (albeit, a misdemeanor) and they’re letting her off the hook simply because she has cancer. Cancer had nothing to do with her decision to spy on her entire board.

Don’t forget, about a week after this story was made public, Patricia Dunn was honored as one of the top women in business (I think it was some Silicon Valley organization that gave her the award). So, she does something illegal and is essentially caught but she’s still given an award AND not penalized by our legal system….and we wonder why the ethics and morals in this country are all screwed up.

Sorry, for the rant…I feel better now that I’ve gotten that off of my chest. Now, back to our regularly scheduled tech-related posts.

Filed under: Thoughts

The economic impact of information technology

A 53-page study was released by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) where they examined how information and communication technology have impacted 5 areas: productivity, employment, more efficient markets, higher quality goods and services, and innovation and new products and services. Here’s the net/net of their study:

There is no doubt that the IT revolution has enhanced quality of life, from improving health care, to making it easier for children to get better information and learn more, to giving consumers more convenience in their interactions with business and government and making it easier to measure environmental quality. But while these and other benefits are important, perhaps the most important benefit of the IT revolution is its impact on economic growth.
The United States, and indeed the world, have benefited greatly, with faster productivity and income growth, more innovation, higher quality products and services, and increased opportunity and convenience for hundreds of millions of IT users around the globe. It is not clear how long IT will power growth, but it seems likely that for a least the next decade or two IT will remain the engine of growth. The opportunities for continued diffusion and growth of the IT system appear to be strong. Many sectors, such as health care, education, and government, have only begun to tap the benefits of IT-driven transformation.

As a person who has worked in IT for my entire career, I agree with this study (for obvious reasons) and I agree that IT will continue to contribute to economic growth and productivity. But one area that I did not see this study mention is, what I’m going to call, the ‘human barrier.’ Here’s what I mean:
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Filed under: Technology, Thoughts

Glass Skywalk at the Grand Canyon

grandcanyon-skywalk.jpgOn March 28, 2007, visitors to the West Rim of the Grand Canyon will be able to walk 70 feet past the rim on a glass skywalk and be 4,000 feet above the Colorado River (more pics at Gizmodo).

Personally, I don’t think this should have been built – the Grand Canyon is one of the most gorgeous natural wonders and they are building this huge ugly structure right on it. In my opinion, if you want to see the Colorado River or the bottom of the Canyon, then hike into it (yes, I admit I’m a bit biased since I’ve hiked through the Grand Canyon).

Well, at least the skywalk won’t be at the South or North Rims…

Filed under: Grand Canyon, Thoughts, Travel

Can Apple be successful in our living/media rooms?

In a nutshell, yes. But, I think it’ll take another 1 to 1.5 years. Why? Because the Apple TV only meets part of our needs as an entertainment device/media extender. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a great first generation product (and, apparently, is selling very well) but it leaves a lot to be desired.

If Apple makes the following scenario a reality, then I think Apple will dominate our living rooms and sell more Macs but Apple will need to introduce the following products:

  1. The next gen Apple TV (let’s call it AppleTV 2.0)
  2. Standalone iPod/iPhone docking stations that will wirelessly sync to iTunes/Apple TV and charge the device
  3. DVR software for the Apple TV that can record HD content
  4. Updated synchronization software to sync the content between a Mac, iPod/iPhone, and Apple TV.

Synchronization & Content Portability

I come home from work, wake-up my Mac and connect my iPod and/or iPhone (or dock it in a standalone docking station). Upon doing so,
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Filed under: Apple, AppleTV, Digital Movies, DVR, iPhone, iPod, MacOSX, Technology, Thoughts