Compliance by Design

While doing some product marketing research about 3 years ago I came across the idea of compliance by design. Instead of creating tasks for your users as part of your product (fill out the activity report at the end of the week) you build the product or process so that there’s no way the user can avoid it. In the activity report example a solution would be sending out all assignments via Salesforce.com and then you could monitor and report on activities without the user having to do anything beyond the job itself. This can be even more useful in products, having parts that only fit together in the correct configuration, making it impossible to assemble incorrectly. Superior design means no errors during assembly, no expense from failure due to improperly assembled products, and no support costs during assembly or during use of an improperly assembled...

Gamification

Over the last 3 weeks I’ve had 2 trips to San Francisco, one for Cloudforce and the other for Sales 2.0. At both of these events I heard the hype surrounding Gamification – adding game play elements to your business process. At Cloudforce Mark Benioff was talking about their acquisition of Rypple. In addition to whatever employee review/feedback  system you have you give employees the ability to award badges to each other that show up in the user’s profile (in this case in Salesforce.com). The central idea to gamification is that people will spend hours on end chasing digital trinkets, and this seems obvious based on the success of things like Farmville, Foursquare, or sticker chasing on Get Glue. While researching yesterday I came across a great post (worth the read) claiming that gamification is BS, and while the argument has merit, that doesn’t mean it won’t work. As a friend of mine experienced in motivating sales people has said regarding their competitive nature: “I’ve seen them get in a fist fight over a bag of M&M’s” After hearing about Rypple I came across a wide assortment of companies providing game functionality to the sales cycle such as ePrize, Bunchball, Badgeville and Hoopla (I have to admit, their ESPN style leaderboard eye candy is very cool). It will be interesting to see how many of these companies show up at Dreamforce this year. I’d go on about how well these tools can shape behavior, but the fact that I spend time checking in to 5 Guys Burgers and Fries so that I can continue to be the Foursquare Mayor is proof...

Guide for New Dads

A friend heard me talking about books for new Dads and asked for a recommendation. Again I saw the opportunity for a blog post, thanks to the magic of the interwebs I can share this information with millions, even though I am only one child away from being entirely unqualified to write about this. Unfortunately either he was thinking of someone else, he got it wrong, or I was blabbering in some state of sleep deprivation (all quite possible). I read a number of books. They were all crap. I could have written them. That should tell you something. And so without further ado, my Guide for New Dads: Never drop the baby. Ever. Bath time is inherently dangerous, buy protective stuff and see rule 1. Don’t worry about the baby, take care of Mom and everything else takes care of itself. Do some cooking and cleaning you lazy bum. If you do 3 and 4 she will let you sleep more, this is all that matters in your life. Have your own baby time when you can have fun and let Mom sleep, this reduces the chance of Mom accidentally/intentionally killing you. Dirty diaper containment systems/furnaces/hermetic sealing systems are overkill for year 1 In all seriousness though, it’s both amazing and overwhelming. I was having a tough time dealing around six months and found inspiration in these words from a man called Warrior: “A father does it ALL — and he never once whines or complains about being blessed with the privilege and honor to do so. He doesn’t try to find a way out or around. He wakes each day and simply handles whatever it is that is going on in his life.” Last week I read an article where a reporter...

Third and Three

The third quarter has elapsed and year end is in sight. Here’s the scorecard as it stands: On the Family front I took a hit by not taking a summer vacation. Between starting a new job, juggling the finances and trips back to the Berkshires it wasn’t in the cards this year. I’m also behind on the College Fund, but we have some plans underway to straighten out the cash flow situation that are moving forward. On target on the Personal front, getting coached on running has paid huge dividends, live music was a big part of the summer, and I am actually in decent shape. I’ve given up on a specific weight number because I have been lifting a lot more and have been gaining weight while losing inches. As long as I see some semblance of abs and my clothes fit, I score that as accomplished. Q4 is a huge challenge to face though, the one-two punch of crappy weather and holiday food makes this the tough one, but the good news is I am ready to go this year instead of being behind. Financial goals are actually in decent shape thanks to the sleazy practice of keeping the college fund over in the family goals, really nothing to do for this in Q4 but try and control spending enough to save a bit. Professional is in good shape with work going well and my first draft of a book done. Marketing Over Coffee is still growing but pretty slowly, it takes a back seat to work and the book but it’s much better than a hobby that burns cash. That’s about it, on to the rest of the year. I hope your Q4 goes well....

For Love of K-Cups

Back in April I bought a Keurig B60 for Carin’s birthday. We had a Keurig at work so I had been using it for years and Carin really wanted to be able to brew a single cup without any hassle. I’ve enjoyed trying out a wide variety of coffees (you can check out my coffee ratings here). For buying the coffee, if you are willing to pay a bit more you can order single cups at The Coffee Mix – a great way to try a bunch of flavors. Once you figure out what you like it’s hard to beat the price of Bed, Bath and Beyond when you have some of the coupons that they send out all the time. Surprisingly my favorite drink is the Lime Berry Green Tea, which is getting difficult to find so I’ve been hoarding it. On the coffee side I like Emril’s and Timothy’s as well as the (more expensive) Dunkin’ Donuts brand. Although the coffee is superb, there has been some trouble with the machine. Occasionally we’d have a problem with short filling – a cup of coffee getting 2 oz or so less that normal. After some experimenting I found two solutions online, one is to beat on it, which actually does work, but the real fix is to leave it on 24/7. One theory is that when the chamber cools you get a vapor lock that the pump has a hard time overcoming. I don’t know about that but I do know that once we turned off the auto-shutoff we were never short filled again. About 2 weeks ago when I would push the medium cup button it would activate the setup menu. It must have been some kind of short because two weeks...

Random iPad Tricks

Dave Gray mentioned on twitter that he learned how to lock the screen rotate on his iPad after only two years of owning it. Since that used to be the default way the side switch was set I knew about that one, but just in case you don’t, here’s how: If you rotate your ipad the display will rotate so that it is always right side up, it even stretches or contracts depending on if you are in portrait or landscape view. This can be a problem if you are in bed reading while lying on your side, or if you have apps that you never want to go into portrait mode (I have an IM client that only shows 2 columns in portrait mode and I always want to see 3). Currently there are two ways to rotate lock – go into settings and set the side switch to lock rotation, or another trick: Double click the menu button and you’ll get a pop-up menu. Swipe the toolbar one screen to the right and you’ll see a rotate lock button on the far left (note that if you set the side switch to lock rotation this button becomes a mute button). This also got me thinking of other tricks I’ve picked up: Apostrophe: Being a grammar geek, I use apostrophes often. If you touch the ! and , key and swipe up you’ll get an apostrophe. Screen Shot: If you hold down the button then click the on/off switch you’ll take a screenshot that shows up in your photo library. You can then click and email it anywhere. Auto-pause: I plug my iPad into my car radio aux jack and realized that when you are done you don’t have to pause the music,...

5 Finger Shoes and the Mid-Foot Strike...

Recently I’ve been talking with a number of people about my “crazy shoes” and about technique with a number of runners. Ever since I ran the Boston Marathon in 2002 I’ve had trouble with my left knee, a common runners injury called IBS. As long as I have run I’ve also destroyed my second toenail on my left foot. For more than 10 years it’s been black or in some stage of falling off. I’ve read of long distance runners who have given up and had toenails removed, that was a bit too extreme for me. About two years ago I learned that my friend Adam was running every day in his Vibram 5 Finger Shoes. I considered this impossible, as I would have to rest at least one day after every run to get over the aches and pains and let my feet rest. He got into it from Born to Run, and incredible book that I would recommend to anyone interested in running. It talks about technique, but most of all it’s a fantastic story about “The Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen”. Speaking of fantastic stories, Adam’s is pretty wild too, a guy who at one point weighed over 350 and now is under 200 and training for an Ultra-Marathon (50 miles I think). I enjoy being barefoot on the weekends so one day we went out to lunch in Lexington and we hit the running store so I could get a set of vibram 5 finger shoes to walk around in. It was crazy, I was still running in my regular shoes but it changed my stride enough that my knee pain went away. The shoes force you to land on the middle of your foot, if you try...

10 More from the Cleaning Crew...

Talking about screen maintenance created enough discussion that I wanted to put out a few more things I’ve found. Here’s the cleaning process when one of my family drops off one of their dead or spyware encrusted machines: Get the dust out. I never used forced air cans anymore, always a vacuum cleaner. They both do a decent job but the forced air just moves the grime to some other (hopefully not worse) place, the vac solves the problem. The key here is put the screws and parts somewhere far away from where you are vacuuming. While you have the box open check to see how much these upgrades would be: more memory, bigger hard drive if necessary, solid state drive if cost effective. These three updates can give huge performance boosts. When working on a machine, especially laptops, if you Google hard enough you’ll find PDFs that the manufacturer’s have for their tech people that show you, step by step, in detail how to do most common tasks like replace drives, memory and laptop screens. Sometimes you will find similar stuff on YouTube (usually from people selling the parts you’ll need). Remove keyboard grime with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. I used to just suck it up and buy a new keyboard every 3 years or so, they are cheap enough and tend to get gross. Mr. Clean has changed that, I have been using a Microsoft Natural Keyboard for almost 10 years now. You can pop off the keys and wash them in a bucket of cleaner with a brush, vacuum the case out and wipe out the wrist rest grunge with the eraser. I also discourage Bluetooth or wireless mice and keyboards. I’ve never had a cabled set fail on me, but...

Cleaning Your Screen

Knowing how to sharpen the saw is one of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (which is only $3.99 for the Kindle by the way). Doing some work prior to stepping on the battlefield can tilt the outcome to your favor. For anyone who is a knowledge worker, maintaining your computer equipment is the equivalent of keeping your guns clean. Odds are, as a reader of this blog you are also your family’s IT department, keeping the fleet running. Over the years I’ve picked up a few tricks on maintaining machines, and during time spent working with the differences that show up in an image on screen vs. in print, I have learned the value of a good screen. A dirty screen creates eye fatigue, if you aren’t cleaning your screen on a regular basis wait until you have a good layer of dust and clean it up at the end of a long day. You’ll be surprised to see how it takes a load off your eyes. How to clean it is another question. For years I have used Bausch & Lomb Sight savers, single wipes like the napkins you get at better BBQ joints (better as in food, not as in fancy). These have alcohol in them and they were great for cleaning CRTs, but I’ve heard mixed statements about using them on plastic LCDs. I’ve never noticed a problem or had any scratches, but after 3 years I tend to have either bulb problems where the monitor is not as bright as it has been, or other issues with laptop displays which require a replacement. Recently I purchased TV Armor, a plastic shield that goes over the TV so now my son can throw Thomas the train at it all...

At the Half

Second Quarter is gone and we are looking at the back half of the year. Here’s the update: No real movement on the family front, the big goals there are to get the summer vacation in order and visit my brother, both of which are still in the planning phase. I also need to find a huge pile of cash to get back on track with little man’s college fund, that will prove difficult given the current cash flow situation of the full time mom (a sacrifice that is well worth it in my mind). On the personal front my fitness and weight loss goals are on track – primarily thanks to mid-foot strike and no processed flour and sugar except for my cheat day. I also had my “fun” goal of seeing some live music (was it really 3 years since I’ve been to a concert?) which I did with the power of the 80’s – Peter Gabriel and Def Leppard. Financial goals are on track thanks to Run to Home Base, that raised a big chunk of my donation goal, and another donation that will involve us visiting the set of Extreme Home Makeover, which will be excellent. Work is going very well, in the hobby section the podcast model needs a bit of tweaking, but writing is taking precedent this quarter. One change I made this year was to hit my weight goal by end of Q3, because it’s foolish to think I’m going to lose weight with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the end of outdoor running in Q4 (all I want to do is maintain, and that gives me some cushion if I’m not at 100% by end of Q3). Only one other bummer, I missed the deadline for the Falmouth...