Categories
Productivity Booster

Doing Business in Asia

Here’s the discussion with Derek Sivers, if you’d rather listen you can get the podcast here.

John:  Hello, everyone. We have a great interview today with Derek Sivers, author of a number of books on doing business in the Far East. You may know him as the man behind CD Baby. He was on last in 2011 when he had done a book for The Domino Project called “Anything You Want.” We had discussed what went into that project, but he’s had a whole bunch of stuff since we talked to him last.

Derek, welcome aboard. Thanks for talking with us.

Derek:  Thanks, John. I can’t believe it was 2011. It feels like it was maybe a year ago. You’re right. It’s been a while now.

John:  The great thing is that your blog is active. You have a ton of people who follow you and everything over there, so I was able to go in and read what’s been going on. First, let’s get you caught up before we jump into the Wooden Egg Project and what this is all about.

When we last talked, you were in Singapore and now you’re in New Zealand. I’ll have a link to the post you have about that, but tell us a little about how that all came about.

Derek:  Sure. To back up a bit, I’m so American. I was born in California and I’ve lived in California, Chicago, Boston, New York City, Woodstock, Portland, Santa Monica, and I almost moved to Texas until I realized that America had become kind of like my glass jar – like I was a fly bouncing around inside the jar and I needed to lift off the lid and go out into the rest of the world.

That was a few years ago when I gave myself a personal challenge to live outside of the U.S. for the next 40 years because it was around my 40th birthday. I figured I’d spent the first 40 years of my life inside the U.S., so I’d challenge myself to spend my next 40 outside the U.S. That’s about the time I met my wife. We got married and went around the world to look for a new country to call home. We landed in Singapore and really loved it. We filled out a ton of paperwork – visa and immigration stuff – and I became a permanent resident of Singapore.

I really thought we were going to spend the rest of our lives there, but then we had a baby. Singapore is an awesome city. I love it, but for a baby, I still have this thing where I think babies/kids should grow up outside in nature. That’s one of the few things that Singapore lacks, so instead we picked another place on the map and moved to New Zealand, mostly just as a good place to raise a kid, and I also realized that I needed a lot more time to focus internally instead of externally, if you know what I mean.sivers-350x250

John:  Right. With this Wooden Egg Project that you’re doing, you came out with a series of 16 books back in 2013 covering a whole ton of countries over in that part of the world, and now in 2014, all of them have been updated. They’re massive books. I look at this pile and I think, “Why the hell did you drop 16 books at once?” So tell us about this. Give us the sketch here.

Derek:  Imagine you moved to a part world that you knew nothing about. I never lived in Asia before. Here I am living in Singapore. I really know nothing about it. I know nothing about Indonesia and I’m right next to it. I could literally see Indonesia out of my window of my apartment, but I knew nothing about it. I’m a one-hour drive away from Malaysia, but I know nothing about Malaysia. I’m a 30-minute flight away from Thailand, but I know nothing about Thailand.

I just wanted to understand this part of the world more. I wanted to get to know my new neighborhood, in a way. At first, I was kind of haphazardly taking little trips and walking around looking at temples and talking to random people who I bumped into. But I was learning very slowly, and I wanted to learn in a more intense and concentrated way. They say that the best way to learn something is to teach it. This is part of why you do these podcasts, right?

John:  Sure.

Derek:  It’s that same motivation. I wanted to really understand my new neighborhood, so I decided to start writing 16 books per year about 16 countries in Asia. The big idea that I think your audience will find interesting because I think it applies to a lot of projects they do was to get over that paralysis of launching something. I decided up front that these books were not going to be very good at first. The first year, I wanted to put them out, even if they weren’t good. But then I’d come back and do them all again the following year, and then they’d be pretty good. And then I’d do them all again and they’d be very good. Maybe by the fourth of fifth year, I’d be able to call them great or even amazing.
It’s interesting to take this upfront commitment to improving something every year and just having to humbly accept that it’s not going to start out very good, but you’re just going to begin.

John:  It’s funny. That’s become a little more vogue. I think people are more understanding of how, when you create something from scratch, it’s going to be very rough-hewn the first time through. But with each iteration it gets stronger and faster.

Just to give everybody an idea, let me go down the list. It’s Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.
They’re all e-books available for under $10 through Leanpub, Amazon, and Apple iBooks. They’re all there. This year, you’ve done this massive book of nearly 5000 pages – you’ve bundled all 16 into one shot if people want to go on some incredible learning adventure.

Talk a little bit about the process. You have a post about how you farmed a ton of this work out and how you changed the process a couple times with that.

Derek:  Now imagine that you’re me sitting in a hotel room in Indonesia and you’ve decided to write 16 books a year about 16 countries. The first thought I had – of course, like any of us – is that I was just going to do it all myself. That’s always our first impulse. I thought, “Okay, 16 books per year. There are 52 weeks in a year, and let’s say I spend three weeks each in 16 countries. That’s 48 weeks, and I’ll take a few weeks off at the end of the year.” At first I thought that my next few years were going to be spent just constantly traveling 16 countries for three weeks each, writing everything I learned in those three weeks and going onto the next country. But my wife was pregnant at the time, so that idea lasted about a minute.

The next idea was that I was going to have 16 different authors from these 16 countries write the books. That idea lasted a few months. A few of the people did a really good job, but the guy from Indonesia just flaked out and disappeared, so partway through I realized that this was still too fragile of a process. I’m really into that E-Myth-style repeatable process: making little systems so that if any one person drops out, the whole process doesn’t collapse. On that note, you realize how fragile the idea of making a book can be if it’s just dependent on an author. If that author disappears or something happens, then there’s no book.

But I really wanted the book to exist, no matter what.
Then I had to go back to all of the wisdom I’ve read from all of these books over the years, like crowdsourcing – including books like “The Wisdom of Crowds” and “Wikinomics.” I decided to put a lot of those lessons to work. I made this system where I came up with 200 questions that, as an entrepreneur, I wanted to know about each of these countries. Then I applied the same 200 questions to all 16 countries, and then I went onto Elance and oDesk and hired three business researchers per country to answer the same 200 questions over and over again, so that now, for every question, I would have three different answers per question. The big idea was getting it from one local native person, one foreigner/expat who had been living there awhile, and then one other person. This way, the book represents a broad spectrum of looking at things, instead of just one person’s opinion.

Lastly, I just had to hire a writer who would take those three different answers and combine them into one essay per question. And that became my little book factory process.

John:  That’s great. That’s very interesting. Give us an idea of the scope of this, now that you’ve done this. For these 16 countries, is it as if you were writing 16 books on individual U.S. states? Is it like 80% is similar and 20% is different, or is this as broad as it could get, as if you were writing about England, Canada, and Mexico? Where does it fall on that spectrum?

Derek:  It’s more like your England, Canada, Mexico analogy. That’s a pretty good comparison because there are some countries that are pretty similar, like Indonesia and Malaysia. Thailand and Cambodia have a lot in common.

But then there’s some where the authors are asking me how I could even include them in the same series, such as Mongolia. I had no idea, until I went there two years ago, that Mongolia is a lot more Russian in its influence. The Mongolian writing is the Russian alphabet, and Mongolians don’t really consider themselves part of this East Asian culture so much. Even though they’re physically connected to China, they’re enemies with China, and they like to probably differentiate themselves from China. So Mongolia feels more like Kazakhstan.

Japan is also kind of an outlier in Asia, where people in Asia see Japan as the rich, advanced, more-Western culture. They don’t really fit in with the rest of Asia in many ways. On the other hand, China is its own thing, and India is its own thing.
It’s vastly different. I thought there would be more similarities, but many times there are a lot of questions in the books about comparing cultures, asking things like, “What are the cultural differences between people from India and Vietnam?” and the answers were like, “What are the cultural similarities?” There are almost none. Yes, technically we’re in Asia, but – to use the European comparison – think about what people from Greece and Iceland have in common. They’re technically both part of Europe, but you look at their similarities and they’d probably shrug and say, “Well, we eat fish.”

John:  Yeah. There is literally nothing in common as far as that kind of spread there.

Derek:  I have a great story for you. Getting back on track with Marketing and Coffee and such, this is actually the point that I wish I would have kicked off this phone call with. This is what I should have started with because to me, this is the most fascinating story that directly applies to everyone.
When I first started this project, I knew this French businessman who grew up in France and had been living in Asia for the last 15 years. He lived five years each in Korea, Japan, and China, so he knew a lot of this Pan-Asian culture thing. I was there in Singapore interviewing him and I said, “I’m starting this book series. I’d like to interview you first. Can you tell me something about doing business in Asia?” He told me something that blew my mind that I think will be really interesting to everyone. He said, “In Asia, people use English as the common business language (it’s the common shared language between these countries and for foreigners coming in to do business) but the thing is, even though we’re all using English, the meaning of words is completely different, depending on the culture.

For example, if I say the word ‘quality,’ what does that mean to you?

John:  That usually means making sure you have accuracy in your process; that all your widgets are shaped the same.

Derek:  Yeah. To me, I think it’s almost like that little “made in the U.S.A.” flag that represents quality. It’s well-built and it’s going to last. It’s solid and it works.

When I said, “It works,” he beamed a big smile and said, “Guess what? I knew you were going to say that because you’re American. You have to understand that that’s the American answer for what quality is. If I were to ask the same question in Korea, everybody knows that ‘quality’ means – it’s brand-new. It’s all culturally understood that when you say quality what you mean is: this is the newest, brand newest thing. That’s what quality means in Korea. Therefore, if you’re planning on doing business in Korea, don’t go in there with your marketing trying to emphasize the timeless quality or the legacy aspect of your product. That’s not quality. Quality means it’s the newest thing.”

He said, “On the other hand, in Japan, when you say ‘quality,’ everybody understands that means ‘perfection.’ Japan is obsessed with perfection, so ‘quality’ means ‘zero defects.’ It’s perfect. It has no flaws. That’s what quality means in Japan. This matters because, for example, I’ve heard instances where somebody is shipping products into Japan, and if the shipping container has a dent in it, even if the product inside is flawless, it’s not longer considered a quality shipment because it’s no longer perfect.”

He said, “On the other hand, in China, when you say ‘quality,’ everybody understands that that means it gives you status. It’s all about social status. It doesn’t matter whether the product itself is well-built or if it’s going to fall apart in a week or last at all – if it gives you social status, it’s quality.”

We’re using the same words, but it’s a vastly different meaning in every culture.

John:  That is fascinating. So it’s really about being able to fit into the local culture and understanding what all those different cultural meanings are just so that you can even function.

Derek:  Exactly. When I first moved to Singapore three years ago, the thing that I missed most was Amazon, where in the U.S. I’d gotten so accustomed to, anytime I wanted to buy anything like noise-canceling headphones or whatever. You just go to Amazon, search it, instantly look at this product if it has a ton of five-star reviews and is best-selling, and within one minute, you click “Add to Cart” and it shows up at your door.
But in Singapore, even though it’s very high-tech and everyone is online, there is no online shopping. It totally blew my mind. At first, I thought, “Hey, this is a big opportunity. Let’s start a new company. Let’s set up e-commerce in Singapore. I can’t believe they hadn’t thought of that yet.”

But it turns out that, of course, they’ve thought of it, but culturally in Singapore, shopping is seen as something you go out and do with your friends. It’s a social activity. So the idea of saying, “Now you can shop online at home in your underwear” is almost like somebody trying to market a product in America saying, “You no longer need to go out to a bar drinking with your friends. Now you can sit at home drinking in your underwear.” That’s kind of sad. That product wouldn’t go over very well. That’s how it feels when people try to market online shopping in Singapore; culturally, it just doesn’t fit.

I just find all this fascinating. We hear all these stories, especially in America, about the rise of Asia, with China being the new biggest market in the world, and there being billions of people in India, China, the Philippines, and Indonesia. This is the new market that we almost pay attention to, but it’s fascinating to realize that you can’t just take your good idea from America and go make it happen there. It has to fit in culturally.

John:  This is one thing that, as an American I can speak to and say that I have lived, is thinking our way of doing things is superior, like we should force this process on the rest of the world, in spite of the fact that there are more guns and obesity here than anywhere else in the world. That’s just a side effect of our great commerce engine.

Derek:  Right. I think that even the last time you and I spoke I was still in that mindset that my American/Silicon Valley/California/entrepreneur/founder of everything kind of mentality was the right way to be. I felt that this is how everyone should be. Everyone should start a company.

I’d only been in Singapore for a month or two when they asked me to come speak to a class at the local business school. I went and spoke to this class. Imagine this. It’s 40 business school students. I’m speaking to this room and start out my talking asking, “Who here would like to start their own company someday? Raise your hand.” No hands went up. I thought, “Okay, maybe they’re just shy.” I said, “Come one, sometime ever in your life, who would ever like to start your own company someday?” One reluctant hand went up.

I pointed to a person who didn’t raise his hand – because I thought they were just shy and would actually like to start their own business – and said, “You. Why don’t why you want to start your own company someday?” He said, “Why would I take the risk? I’m spending all this money on business school so I can get a nice, steady job.”

I said, “Okay,” and I pointed to somebody else and asked, “Why don’t you want to start your own company someday?” They said, “I don’t have any ideas.” I pointed to somebody else and asked them and they said, “My parents took the risk. My parents had a little shop. It was very difficult for them, but they did it for years to save money so that I could have a secure future. So why would I risk that?”

Then I realized that our American way of doing things is not the center of the universe, despite what the media that we’re surrounded with makes you feel in America, like America is everything. All of the movies are set here. All the TV shows are set here. Yes, there are some other little countries you can go vacation in, but come on, America is the center of the world.

John:  Right. The aliens always land here.

Derek:  Exactly. They always go for the White House. They’re not landing in Dubai. I realized Americans are kind of off on one far extreme end of things. It’s a very individualistic, cowboy-kind of “I’ll do it all myself. I’m going to start my own thing.” Then I realized it’s not that they’re wrong, but that it’s a different way of thinking. It takes a while to accept that there’s the American way of looking at this and there’s the Asian way of looking at it, and the Indian way of looking at it, and the Japanese way of looking at it. They’re all just from different perspectives.

John:  That’s excellent. Thanks for speaking with us. Everyone can check out the Wood Egg series of books wherever fine e-books are sold.
Derek, is there anything else you’d like to say in closing? Do you have travel coming up or other stuff you’d like to talk about?

Derek:  No. I really admire what you’re doing here in this show. You’re constantly on your blog putting out everything you’re learning all the time. I had a personal tragedy happen a few weeks ago where one of my best friends – one of the smartest people I know – was just out riding his bike in the bike lane on a Sunday afternoon and a car accidentally swerved into the bike lane and killed him instantly. It really bummed me out for the usual reasons, but I also wish that he would have taken the time to share what he knew. He never really did. If you hung out with him in person, he’d have fascinating little bits of wisdom and insight on life that he would share with you conversationally. But he never took the time to create like you do this weekly podcast, or write books or articles. He didn’t do that and I wish he would have. After a tragedy, we all take out from it what we do, and for me it was just a reminder of how important it is for all of us to share what we’re learning and put it out there so that it lives on. I really love what you’re doing and I’d love to do more of the same, too.

John:  Thank you. I appreciate that. We will keep cranking it out here. We appreciate everybody taking the time to listen. We will catch up with you next week. Until then, enjoy the coffee!

Derek:  Thanks.

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Productivity Booster

Top 7 Confessions

B2B-MC-EmailThis month I’ll be talking about some of the info in B2B Marketing Confessions in a webinar with MarketingProfs! Reg info to follow…

Of course you could free yourself from the calendar and just get a copy of the book for yourself!

Lastly, this week’s edition of Marketing Over Coffee is now available.

Bonus: As mentioned in the session, here’s the chapter on Email for free!

 

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Productivity Booster

The Book!

B2B Marketing Confessions is now available on Amazon!

From the promotional material:
What’s the Truth About Marketing? Contrary to the popular belief that marketing is advertising, listen to the confessions of an insider to learn how marketing affects every step of the customer life-cycle. From product design, to building awareness, selling, and keeping customers happy, this book covers all the basic principles and gives you tactics, tips and tricks to succeed (including best practices for Salesforce.com)!

With over 20 years in business I’ve seen many things: successes, failures, tragedies and flawless execution. The marketing profession changes so rapidly that every day is an adventure. Having learned many lessons from painful first hand experience I wanted to create something that would help those who are putting together their marketing strategy and tactics. My hope is that by confessing everything I’ve seen you’ll have a guidebook that can help you navigate the ever-changing seas, and increase your odds of success.

This book covers 4 key points:

  • The first 12 pages give you a basic understanding of Product Marketing
  • The next 115 cover demand generation including: blogs, email, lead scoring, search engine marketing, trade shows, direct mail, and basic PR
  • The intersection of sales and marketing covers 35 pages including how to eliminate cold calling and optimizing the sales cycles
  • The last 20 include customer retention and closing the loop on the customer lifecycle to improve demand generation and the sales process.

If you are tasked with leading the marketing efforts at a growing business or just want to understand how marketing has changed in the past 10 years, this guide is for you!

2016 Update: Samson, a listener of the audiobook edition, asked about the diagrams so I’ve added them here!

Salesforce Leads vs. Campaigns vs. Contacts vs. Accounts
Showing how record types overlap in Salesforce.com

2019-agency

Some predictions on tactics agencies might take up by 2019. Some hits, some misses.

taguchi

Results from a multi-variate, or Taguchi test, although calling it Taguchi seems to be less popular.

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Productivity Booster

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 product.

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Productivity Booster

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, BunchballBadgeville 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 enough.

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Productivity Booster

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:

  1. Never drop the baby. Ever.
  2. Bath time is inherently dangerous, buy protective stuff and see rule 1.
  3. Don’t worry about the baby, take care of Mom and everything else takes care of itself.
  4. Do some cooking and cleaning you lazy bum.
  5. If you do 3 and 4 she will let you sleep more, this is all that matters in your life.
  6. Have your own baby time when you can have fun and let Mom sleep, this reduces the chance of Mom accidentally/intentionally killing you.
  7. 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 asked Steve Jobs about having kids, he said it was “10,000 times better than anything I’ve ever done”. Congratulations and enjoy the ride! I have to get back to work…

 

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Productivity Booster

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.

 

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Productivity Booster

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 later it died completely. It was still under warranty so I sent them proof of ownership and got a new B60-WR yesterday. It looks like a new model because it’s not on the website and the reservoir has a new shape that protrudes out over the drip tray. Obviously there was much celebrating upon the return of the coffee machine.

I only had to send the K-Cup holder back, they said I could dispose of the rest. I had already checked out opening one up and upgrading the pump when it was short cupping but I didn’t bother since it was under warranty. Everywhere I could find info said that the machine was not made to be opened, and I only read one story of a brave soul who replaced a pump. Since I now had one to throw away I thought I would open it up and check it out. You can see the pictures of the Keurig Autopsy here. Most importantly, if you are looking for how to open your Keurig you’ll see my hand written diagram on where you’ll need to drill to get the top open. There are 3 tabs, much like those that lock a car door panel to the frame, that you’ll have to drill to get to, otherwise it’s not possible to open without breaking. You’ll need a hole just under a half inch and have to pull the tabs outward, but you may just want to drill them out, they’re not very flexible. There’s also a bunch of screws to remove before you need to unfasten the tabs, it literally is more work than the thing is worth.

As you can see from the other pictures it’s a marvel of engineering. I now doubt the story of the guy who repaired a pump since there are no fewer than FOUR pumps inside of it. It has 3 boards and about a quarter mile of tubing. I love the thing and was even more impressed seeing how it’s put together. The only thing I would change would be to make a premium one that could be repaired, I’m sure it’s not the best business model but it would be a fun project to mess around with. Of course the risk of home brew high pressure boiling liquid accidents might have something to do with that business model decision…

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Productivity Booster

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, pulling the headphone jack out automatically pauses the music.

1080P Video: The iPad will not play 1080P (because resolution that high on a 10 inch screen is not noticeable compared t0 720p), but I’m not really into re-encoding HD stuff just to carry on the iPad. Good Reader will play 1080p files (of course they are huge, but I’ll take that over re-rendering).

Bookmarking: You can bookmark any webpage to have an icon on your home screen just as if it was an app. Browse to the page you want, touch the box with the arrow icon to the left of the URL, and click “Add to Home Screen”

and, Dvorak keyboard layouts are supported if you use the bluetooth (or the stand version) Apple keyboard.

If you have any other tricks please share. Thanks!

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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 to heel strike you realize that after about 3 strides you are destroying your entire skeleton. There is a lot of writing and religious discussion out there as to whether the running shoe and the heel strike is one of the greatest frauds of the last century, I can only judge by my own results.

This year one of my personal goals was to get some training on running form and check it out more. While looking for a coach I found a group that was running a full day clinic at a triathlon expo in Cambridge and spent a day in March with Vince, studying Chi Running, which is in line with what Born to Run is talking about (there’s also Chi Walking, if running is not your thing). I’m still too chicken to run in the VFF’s (I’m still well over 200) so I got a set of Newton Shoes which are a minimalist shoe, they are neutral (no raised heel), which makes them feel flat and much lighter than everything I’ve ever run in. I thought that I would have to adjust to those but from day 1 my feet felt so much better that I’ve never gone back.

If you decide to check this out don’t make the mistake I’ve heard many people make – wearing them as your new shoes. You have to consider wearing them as a workout, I started with short walks with the dog, building up over 6 months to the point where I could wear them all day. Just for walking around, never for running. I’ve had more than one person tell me “I wore them for a day and I was crippled, injured, hobbled, etc…”. From looking at them if they spent a full day in the gym they’d be in the same condition. How about giving 20 minutes a shot first considering that you’ve spent your entire life with your feet in casts?

The results have been amazing, in a 9k race that I started the season off with both this year and last year I was 7 minutes faster. It used to take me two days to recover, I couldn’t run without taking a rest day for my feet and back, now I feel like I could run at lunch after a morning run. Last year nine miles a week was average, I can do 20 a week running faster with less effort, and less pain. Sometimes I even enjoy it. My only regret is that I didn’t change my technique a long time ago. Better yet, I’m glad I never had my toenail removed – for the first time in years it looks normal.