Geek Stuff

The Future of GPS

Gadget Alert!

The traffic function on this GPS looks incredible, I am in.

Imagine getting pinged when your best customers are a mile in and closing!

Lead Generation

Quarter End

Nothing like the end of a quarter to consume every minute in sight. I’ve also had the nagging cough that seems to be sticking around, I’m not sure if it’s a cold or the beginning of allergy season as the ground is softening up here.

The good news is that I have another project in the works with Joe from SalesRoundup, we’re going to be talking about the intersection of sales and marketing (which seems to be black and white, it’s either a war zone, or one big party). As a UMass alum, I have more than enough experience building parties.

So, if you are doing anything cool on the lead generation, or lead scoring front please contact me off list, otherwise… watch this space!


Coffee’s Up

The latest Marketing Over Coffee has hit the stands, a bunch of interesting Google stuff this week and some chat about copywriting offers. You can listen for free over at the site with the best marketing podcast.

Productivity Booster

100 Words or Less

I’ve had to fill out a bunch of forms recently for a number of different events. New events can be very exciting, covering hot topics and having no established old guard to leave the FNG’s feeling left out. On the other hand, with things being done for the first time, often on the fly, things can slip through the cracks.

Any time you request copy from someone be sure to give them a word count, even as only an outline. Nothing will make a brochure or look weirder, or make your graphic design job a real headache than having paragraphs of text from 20-1,000 words to string together. If you’re going to farm out work, be sure to set some guidelines, otherwise it may be more headache than it’s worth.

Daily Life The Marketeer

My Name is John

I’m off to an event called Blogger Social the first weekend in April down in New York City. It’s a bunch of Marketing Bloggers getting together just to talk and have some fun. One thing that has made this event special even prior to kickoff is that Steve Woodruff has been assembling profiles of the attendees so everyone has been able to learn about who’s going to be there.

Even though this site is a temple of shameless self promotion, I thought I’d try and assemble some of the info that would be interesting to this audience specifically. Let me boil my whole life down to a few bullets that marketing bloggers would be interested in:

  • I’m a little different because I found my way to blogging through podcasting. In January of 2005 I started The M Show as part of my commute to work at MarketingSherpa, where I was working at the time. It’s really just me rambling for 10 minutes once a week about news, my life, and books, movies or DVDs I’ve seen with my wife “The Lovely Carin” (stage name). I threaten to shut the show down about every 3 weeks, and can never do it because it’s too much fun. Although I bear the shame of being one month too late to be part of the exclusive “2004 Podcasters”, many of them have faded into obscurity, and the rest of the world could care less.
  • I’ve been working at small to medium size tech related businesses for the past 10 years, I was in IT before that, in the insurance industry which gives me 3 benefits – 1. An IT perspective on marketing, 2. Stories about the insurance industry that I will only discuss under duress (or drinks), and 3. funds my gadget addiction. I am currently at AccuRev, which makes the best revision control system on earth that is used by all the greatest software development teams.
  • Finally in November 2006 I opened Ronin Marketeer for business. In addition to writing about marketing stuff I blather about, video games, gadgets, and stuff Marketing people do like travel, drink, work trade shows.
  • I am also the defacto Nike Amp+ reviewer for the web, and ran the Boston Marathon back in 2002, and since have become a fat slob.
  • In February 2007 I started the Marketing Over Coffee podcast with Christopher Penn (of Financial Aid Podcast fame, and Podcamp Founder), which is spreading like a sex scandal on an politician. It’s not too late to join the March Madness Brackets for charity that Chris is tracking as part of the FAP.
  • I’m into photography and bought my first DSLR last year (Canon rocks, Nikon sucks, discuss amongst yourselves), I’ll be taking tons of shots and you can see my past on Flickr.
  • Looking forward to meeting everyone in person especially Matt Dickman, Steve Woodruff, Todd Andrlik. Also chatting with Anna Farmery and seeing if I can convince everyone that Scott Monty is my brother.

See you in New York!

Productivity Buster

NCAA Basketball March Madness

If you have already set up your picks for the NCAA Tournament please consider entering the charity tournament I’m playing in. The entry fee is $25 and the winner gets to select the charity that will receive the pot.

You can enter here, and it’s pretty low key so you can probably still enter after the first round.

College hoops is my favorite spectator sport. Every player knows their future rides on every game, if they want to go pro they have to give all they have for the entire season. The NBA, like any other batch of middle-aged men, understand the value of a steady pace so that you have some reserve for when it’s needed, NCAA is full throttle 24/7.

I went to UMass during John Calipari’s reign, watching a school transform from when I started and I could walk in and sit 5 rows behind the team at the half, to having to enter a lottery for the chance to get a ticket for a season that was completely sold out was incredible. Nothing generates heat and excitement like success. Alas, I have given up most of my life as a spectator and fan, I make some time to watch championships and follow the scores but everything else goes to my time on the field.

I’m already behind in my picks, but the good news is that I marked all of the teams I missed to drop in the next round, so I’m still in the game.


Podcasting Stats

I’m just too tired to write anything today, the 5:30 am recording sessions will do that, but if you are a stats junkie, along with the latest show we’ve published the numbers for Marketing Over Coffee for you to check out.

Lots of emailing this week. Interesting stats but nothing exciting to write about…

The Marketeer

Company Goals

Johnny T. (who, by the way, works for a company that produces some great events (even if some of his customers are trying to kill me, but that’s a story for another day)) had written in about trade shows last week and I wanted to get to the second part of his question: Are the Company goals the same as my goals?

Ahh, the glory of blogs. Would any editor let that last sentence stand?

I digress… The short answer is yes. The company’s goals are exactly the same as mine, come back with X leads. The only exception I could think of to this would be occasionally I’ve had sales guys tag along just to meet a short list of contacts, that may even have deals already in the pipeline.

This got me thinking more about how there really are no company goals. All of the individual employee goals roll up to the company results. The art is getting the desired company outcomes broken into individual goals and then making sure that they roll up again to the correct outcome.

And that makes me wonder if you have profitable individuals, is it possible to combine them and add efficiencies (shared office space, infrastructure, sales horsepower) to create a business? Or is that just an agency?

Daily Life Podcasting

Wall Street Journal Approved

Thanks to the hard work of Scott Monty of Crayon working with ooVoo, I was part of my ooVoo day, which makes me a “prominent blogger” according to the Wall Street Journal. Now all I need is a link…

You can also check out the St. Patrick’s Day edition of The M Show for some easy listening fun.

Productivity Booster

Do You Need the Dvorak Keyboard Layout

typewriterA couple of days ago I noticed a twitter post from Forrester Analyst Jeremiah Owyang that made it sound like he is considering switching to the Dvorak keyboard layout. I felt I was in a unique position to respond after having switched to Dvorak about 5 years ago.

As usual, Wikipedia has a fine overview here if you are unfamiliar with Dvorak, but here’s the short version: back before the dawn of history, like the 70’s, there used to be these things called typewriters. If you are less than 25 you may have never even seen one, but the idea was that you had a keyboard and when you pushed a key, this little metal arm with a stamp of a letter on it would hit an ink-soaked ribbon and make that mark on a piece of paper (photo via Creative Commons on Flickr from Shel Israel).

Even if you have seen or used a typewriter you may not know that there is a reason behind the way the keys are laid out. The overall gist of these legends is that if you typed too fast these swinging metal arms would snag each other and jam the machine. To avoid this the keys were assembled in a formation to slow you down.

Dvorak applied some science and came up with an alternate layout that would allow you type as fast as humanly possible. Both Mac and PC support Dvorak (former Microsoft CTO Nathan Myhrvold is said to type in the 80 words per minute range, and his rank might explain why when you have Dvorak activated in Windows you can toggle back and forth between it and QWERTY (standard keyboard layout, named after the top left row of keys), using left CTRL and Shift keys.

Ok, so you’ve been brought up to speed. Here’s the meat – what you need to know if you consider switching:

  1. You’ll notice that it’s easier – Even when you start you’ll feel how much better it is having the most frequently used keys in the right spots. This is important in extending your typing lifespan. After 10 years of hammering on crummy laptop keyboards on a desk my hands, wrists and arms were often stiff or aching. I made a full switch to a Microsoft Natural Keyboard, a trackball (much less stress than a mouse) and Dvorak. Easier also translates to less pain if typing is your life, it will add years to it.
  2. Difficult to learn – There are two major problems here. First you are going to drop down under 25 words per minute for up to a month and it will take a long time to get up over 50 wpm. It took me over a year to get back up over 60 wpm, that’s a big productivity hit for a full year. The other problem is that you need to find a typing tutor software that works with the dvorak layout. Most typing tutor programs are designed to teach you row by row, and that is no longer valid when you change the layout.
  3. It’s Faster – With the same amount of work you will type faster once you get up to speed. The world record holders are on Dvorak. When you go back to a QWERTY keyboard you’ll realize how rotten the layout is. Overall I am about 5 wpm faster (You can test your typing speed here, feel free to share your scores). Speed is an interesting factor – if you are doing transcription this will put you in another league. On the other hand you may notice that you are not actually held up by your hands, but by your mind as you are putting together sentences (in technical writing for example). I know that although my mind is not nimble enough to change gears between layouts, I always have a problem with my thoughts coming faster than my hands or mouth can write or recite them.
  4. What you see is not what you get – Hardware is a big problem. You can either pay big bucks to get a Dvorak keyboard, or you bust out the Sharpie and write the new letters on them. If you are using someone else’s machine you are stuck. The only good news is that after you have made the transition you are rarely looking at the keyboard.
  5. Transition is hell – going from 65wpm down to half that is incredibly frustrating for the first month.
  6. Games and death of the holy trinity – Many games use an arrow formation like AWD for Left-Forward-Right. All these are ruined in Dvorak, but most games allow you to remap the keys. The same goes for the trinity – if you are a hardcore keyboard user you know the trinity – XCV, three keys that with the Control key are cut, copy and paste (being error prone, I add the fourth, Z, for undo). These keys are now spread apart, but there is an alternate dvorak layout that leaves them together just in case you are an uber freak who wants to use a bizarre, seldom used keyboard variation on top of a bizarre, seldom used keyboard layout.
  7. Not everyone can switch – This is another critical point, this has to do with your brain and motor skills. I’ve read of some who can touch type 60wpm on both layouts. I don’t know if this is true, but I cannot do this. From my limited research, most people can type one layout or the other, not both. If you have the capacity to do both, then there’s nothing holding you back, you should switch to Dvorak at once, if you are like me and have some real mental issues that will take you up to a year to get back up to speed you may not want to go this route.
  8. Security Bonus – Nobody else can type on your keyboard unless they know the secret Ctrl&Left-Shift code.
  9. You are one huge frackin’ geek – This makes you a card carrying member of the dork club. I always get the same weird look when I have to explain to people why my keyboard doesn’t type the letters on the keys. I think it’s the same look you’d get if you were in High School and you were talking to the Cheerleading Captain about the cool Dungeons and Dragons and video game festival you dressed up in costume for last weekend. Please let the record accurately reflect that I have never dressed in costume.
  10. Some keys get lost – If you have need for some of the more screwed up characters like the curly bracket or the pipe you will have a hard time finding them, I had a hard time with them on the standard layout anyway.
  11. Passwords can be tougher – Not getting any visual feeback and using strong passwords can be tough now and then, I’ve had to resort to using notepad to confirm I have them right and then pasting them over. No hunt and peck for accuracy when the keys have the wrong letters on them.

Who should switch? If you type more than 4 hours a day, or to the point that you are in pain, you will get a productivity boost and pain reduction in the long run.

Who should not switch? If you spend more than an hour a day on a shared machine it’s not worth it unless you are a brainiac that can shift gears between layouts. If typing is not a core competency for what you do, don’t bother.

In closing, the benefits are not as great as I had hoped, I would have liked 10 wpm. On the other hand, I understand you can switch back in less than a month, but I wouldn’t want to. Your keyboard sucks.

Further comments: After posting, I forgot – there is actually a relevant business and Marketing point here. Consultants use Dvorak as an example of human behavior, market power and human factors. Even though Dvorak is an obviously superior and more efficient way to lay out a keyboard because the standard has been set the world lives with the crummy layout. It’s a good case study for the “We do it this way because everyone else does” mindset that plagues every bureaucracy.