Brain Buster

Free Until I Tip

Drew is wondering why he is giving away so much for free. In other words – how can you make it as a consultant when you have to give stuff away for free to get attention and respect.

I had two answers to this that came up – the first is that if you charged for every bit of good advice that would make you a lawyer and you’d know that Satan’s already called “next” on your afterlife. You know that in your heart it’s good to give valuable advice and maybe you believe you’re scoring some karma. A incredibly rare example of a Marketer sleeping better than someone else.

I choose to take a slightly different view – rather than see my advice as a product with a price tag on it, I see my time as the commodity. I give out advice, and if it’s good the demand will grow to the point where I run out of time (my tipping point), at that point I can engage the meter and let the bidding begin. Even if I never reach the point where the advice I share is making the mortgage payment at least I’ve gathered some karma, made some friends, and I’m still not a lawyer.

Productivity Booster

Travel Secrets that Will Save Your Life

Ok, maybe not save your life, but at least take some of the headaches away:

  • Never check a bag
  • SeatGuru
  • Bring twice the money, half the clothes
  • Remember that for nearly all business travel there are still stores where you are going. Only pack the things you need, not things you might use
  • iGo universal charger – unless your laptop is a Dell, which uses a proprietary charger and I swear to god one day I will find a way to get Dell back for this
  • American Express Platinum Card – gets you into the flight clubs and 4 free companion tickets per year
  • Get the lightest laptop you can, and if possible one that allows you do use a drive bay as a battery. With 2 regular batteries and one in the drive bay I can get a good 9 hours.
  • Sit on the aisle so you don’t have to climb over people to get to the bathroom
  • Never sit for more than 2 hours without moving around
  • Rip a solid 10-12 hours of movies or TV shows from DVDs you’ve bought to your laptop, you never know when you will be stuck someplace with time to kill
  • Have a second set of toiletries ready to go, you never have to pack and see what’s missing, leave the bag in your wheelie cart and go.
  • Kayak
  • Priceline for hotels, it’s nuts, I’m consistently paying half what other guests pay
  • Always have a small flashlight, sharpie, business cards
  • A hidden $20 bill – mine fits in the battery compartment of my cellphone
  • Get a friend that’s in one of the mega miles programs, if you travel with them they can pull you into the good seats or the exit rows
  • Drink lots of water
  • Be nice to the flight attendants

Addendum: After some great comments from Geoff and Chip, here are a few more:

Nice additions, that reminds me of a few more:

  • Chip is right on – GPS is an absolute requirement
  • Bring a 2 ft headphone cord, your rental car may have a jack so you can listen to your iPod
  • I always introduce myself to people on the plane as it is a great place to network (do you know how expensive it is to advertise in an in-flight magazine? That’s because the people on the plane are so cool), but I don’t do it until the pilot announces the approach to our destination, that way if someone sitting next to you is crazy you only have to talk to them for 10 minutes or so.
Brain Buster


There’s been a fair amount of discussion about how much time newspapers on print and the 6pm news have left. I’m planning the party for 2/26/13. Yes, 2013 is only 5 years away. Where will you be and what will you be up to?

Geek Stuff Productivity Booster

Speed Chronicles 2

Speed Test

Burdened with a compulsion to measure technology I did a speed test today now that I finally got my new Palm Centro pimped out to serve as wireless modem. I’ve used PDANet on my Palm 600, but the new version takes advantage of the expanded service that the Centro uses:

The top two boxes are via cellular modem, the bottom two is the same box via FIOS. So the good news is that the Centro is about 20x faster than the Treo 600 was. Uploads are just more than 3 times faster. Not bad considering it’s for situations where there’s no wireless of any kind. Also interesting to note that it’s half as good as my connection at work (although we’ve upgraded and I think work is now about twice as fast).

If you don’t have FIOS and you want to make yourself cry, check out past speed tests. I’d also love to see your speed test results, you can check your speed here.

Brain Buster

Mahalo – Is it just crazy enough to work?

The big question is: Is Mahalo the next generation search engine? I’m starting to think the answer is yes. I’m already to the point of taking traffic from Wikipedia for granted. For any real search you can presume that there will be a wikipedia page in the top 10. The number one critique of Wikipedia is that eventually the editors that patrol the site will become bored, and since they are volunteers they get tired of doing work for no paycheck eventually.

So, my prediction: As the freetards get bored with wikipedia, the folks who would like to eat and have more extravagant luxuries such as health coverage will go over to Mahalo to get paid for doing the same quality of work. I think the fusion of Digg-type functionality with the distrubuted content generation of Wikipedia is a winning combination.

Daily Life

Living on the Bleeding Edge

I haven’t blogged that much about it (except for bitching about my bill that has been messed up for two months in a row), but I upgraded to a Palm Centro back in December. This was a big improvement over my Treo 600 (I know… a dinosaur bone).

There are two reasons I’ve stuck with the Treo:

  1. I’m not going to move my phones to AT&T just for an iPhone
  2. I use the phone as a wireless modem and it does a fantastic job when I have no access to wireless.

There is a downside to playing with new technology. I was disappointed at how my phone only seemed to connect to the web on the second try. It wasn’t able to stream audio or video very well. I wrote it off at first, but after 2 months I decided to check out the support forums.

A wise an knowledgeable person on the boards told me to call in and have my network service re-provisioned. I figured it was worth a try, and Lo! and Behold! my phone is totally smoking now.

This is my greatest technology fear, that there’s a pebble in my shoe and nobody has told me that they’re not supposed to hurt.

Now if Sprint can get my bill right this month, they’ll have made it back to the A-List.

Brain Buster Podcasting

Newspapers Have Less than 5 Years to Live

I had a great listen on the ride to work this morning – Eric Schwartzman of the On The Record Online’s latest interview with Duncan Wardle, Vice President of Walt Disney World and Global PR for Disney Parks.

If you have an iPod you should really go over to my Gigadial channel now and subscribe, that way when I find cool stuff, it gets loaded right to your iPod. How cool is that?

Mr. Wardle had some points that stuck with me:

  • Newspapers will die soon
  • The 6pm News will die before newspapers
  • Within the next 4-5 years any consumer will be able to block your organization if they determine you are not relevant.

So, are you ready to switch gears or are you going to ride the boat to Davey Jones’ Locker?

Brain Buster

Causation vs. Correlation

I am going to an event called Blogger Social in New York in April. One of the attendees, Steve Woodruff has pulled off the ultimate link bait and is doing profiles of the attendees so that you can learn about who is going to be there, before you get to the event. As a person with a last name that starts with “W” this is one of the few times I am getting lucky, I should be up there close to the event date and after the whole world is checking his site (assuming of course he makes it through the list before dying from exhaustion). This is a great example of social media in action, it’s quite possible that the 70 attendees at the event can get to know each other to some degree, even before attending the event.

Today featured Matthew Bailey, who has done a great piece of research on red shirted crewmen in Star Trek, and uses it as an example of  analytics in action. He also cites Edward Tufte, probably the closest thing to a rock star that you can find in the world of graphing (and by extension, economics).

There were two things the red shirt analysis brought to light for me. One is the recurring theme in marketing of testing raising more questions than answers. I find it very common to set up a test and have it raise additional questions that weren’t even considered in the first round. The other is “causation vs. correlation”, I think the last discussion I read on that was in Freakonomics, the fact that characteristics that a group of individuals have in common is not necessarily the reason they are grouped together. For example: yes, there were many red shirted crewmen that died, but that’s because the red shirt signifies the security team, people put in dangerous situations. There’s nothing inherently dangerous about a red shirt versus a blue one.

When causation is confused with correlation, this can lead to problems. In the past I have worked at organizations that would look at this data, ship some blue shirts to the security team, and declare victory.

Brain Buster

Mind Bending Use of Twitter

Twitter invites keep coming in. I have a normal routine, I click through and see who the person is. Anybody with more followers than they are following is fine with me. If you are equal or have 100+ more, it depends on if I know or like you, a highly subjective test.

Then there are the Spitters (Spam Twitters) who are following 2,000 people and have 3 followers. Those go to the junk bin.

Until today.

I got an invite from 5min_tech,  and they follow 2,000 more than follow them. I was about to relegate them to the clearing at the end of the path, until I read the tweets:

How to boost firefox speed? How to buy a computer? How to make flaming logos in Photoshop?

All things that, when flowing through my river of tweets, I might be interested in. Or at least more interesting than “Watch a sock puppet endorse ooVoo. Seriously!”

They got by the rules and defenses by giving some value to the customer – let that marinate for a while (a la Clarence).

Productivity Booster

Trade Show Secrets

  1. Keep a first aid kit in the crates – it’s not a show without somebody bleeding at some point
  2. A bottle of scotch is good too – a painkiller, and it can be traded to get your cases back after the show
  3. Arrive a day early to set up, already have the address to Home Depot in your GPS
  4. Always Advance Ship to the Warehouse
  5. Bring a box cutter but always keep it in the show cases, bring it to the airport and your next prostate exam might be at Git’mo
  6. Packing Tape, Black Sharpie, Flash Drive with soft copies of all show collateral
  7. Get your bill of lading 3 hours before closing if possible
  8. Bring a tape measure, you can use that with the duct tape and knife to snake power under your carpet
  9. Order the padding
  10. Staffing adequately beats good shoes