Productivity Buster

Why I Didn’t Spend $1,300 at Best Buy on Black Friday

As the IT Director of my family we’ve been updating the hardware infrastructure. Over the past couple of years everyone is migrating to Mac. I no longer loose Thanksgiving or Christmas time doing Virus Protection upgrades, and my family members now have a 50/50 or better chance of getting the pictures off their digital cameras (or better yet, even being able to look at them on said machine).

Unfortunately there is no Apple Store out in Western Massachusetts, not surprising given the falling population density and the loss of many large employers in the area. When Best Buy rolled out an Apple center within their store here in Natick I thought that the one out west would be similar.

Alas, it was not.

I talked my dad out of mail order so we could head over on Black Friday and see what they had. Unlike the Natick store there was no dedicated store section, just two lone machines on the long rack of laptops. Jobs’ fanboys are groaning now at the sight of a Macbook and Macbook Pro on the same asile as Acers and HPs.

The clincher was that after watching 3 sales people talk to folks checking out the Macs, we got our turn in line. Instead of just listening to the pitch (the same one other 2 customers got) about how cool they were, I hit them with the heat – “Yeah, we’ll take one of those.” This required going off to check the stock and talk to a manager, used-car lot style.

The punchline is that there are none to sell in the store, we were told we could go and get one on line, complete with (wait for it…) Free Shipping! The guy also said that when checking out we could take the customer survey at the end and tell them it would be great if they would stock the stuff in the store.

Of course, rather than do that we went straight to, ordered it there and got a special $50 off price with… (you guessed it) Free Shipping! And I didn’t have to spend 5 minutes digging through a survey to tell Best Buy not to over promise and under deliver. And it’s not just for the customers, you don’t have to have sales reps giving up valuable time on Black Friday telling people how great Macs are and that you don’t really sell them.

Productivity Buster

EHMO Returning

I am a big fan of this show that at least does something. When you think about it, every other show exists only to sell ads.

So I had a widget for Extreme Home Makeover here, but it broke the formatting for the page so it’s gone.

Productivity Buster

Theives and Liars Think We Are Stupid

By Theives and Liars I mean the jackasses that should be treating us as customers rather than known felons. Regular readers are familiar with my extreme hatred of companies who add so many security “features” that it makes it impossible to do business with them. I was ordering a credit report a few weeks ago and ran into the same problem again: automated questions about previous cars that I’ve owned.

Again a garbage process: asking me what year my Honda is. Right now we own two Hondas, and they are not the same year. At least it gave me a second chance to guess the other one.

“Verified By Visa”, which I will now refer to as “Vilified by Visa” is the latest bonehead move. I tried to purchase an airline ticket this weekend and I was pulled away from the Northwest Reservations system to go to a special Visa site to prove that I’m not using a card that’s been stolen. As if confirming my address, the card authorization code, and my frequent flyer number weren’t proof enough.

I thought I had an account set up, but I couldn’t tell if the Vilified site is the same as the Visa site or not. After 3 tries I decided it was just much easier to give American Express the business, and they didn’t make me go through any additional stupidity.

My favorite part is how Visa has a whole campaign set up about how this is protecting you, the customer. Even though Federal Law limits the penalty to $50 per card, they try to make it sound like this is all for your sake, when in reality they are trying to protect themselves from the exposure, even if it makes it harder for you to do business with them.

Did I mention how much I love American Express?

Productivity Buster

A Robot Renegade Cop

It’s Friday, and my chance to score -10 to your productivity with some Vids. Scott Monty tipped me off to both of these as a fan of voice-over artists.

Robot Renegade Cop


Five Guys in a Limo


Have a good weekend!

Productivity Buster

What I Did on My Spring Vacation – BS (08)

For those following the travel saga, we ended up taking the LimoLiner, a 28 passenger deluxe bus that worked very well, although we felt the pain of a fellow traveler across from us who was sitting next to the guy who really wanted to talk politics and spilled his coffee all over both of them. This further solidifies my “Final Approach Rule” I don’t engage in transit conversation until the final 10 minutes just in case I’m seated next to some type of freak. I put on my headphones, fired up the laptop and checked out some Season 3 Doctor Who.

Lots of fun this weekend in New York City. The unofficial prelude was being lucky enough to have schedules overlap to catch Chip Griffin in the Brandy Library with the Scotch bottle, a great place to visit in Tribeca, followed up with a fantastic dinner at Pepolino.

The great part about this event was that there were no formal sessions, just social functions. The first night at an Irish Pub, followed by a boat tour around Manhattan, and a semi-formal dinner that evening (Blogger Prom, as some called it).

The BeastThe highlight for me was meeting The Beasties: Ryan often confused with Justin Timberlake, Nathan with some real technical chops and mastering of the A/B split, Lijit’s mercenary Tara (but there’s a big heart in there… maybe.) and Matt with a razor sharp wit, and aggressive attack on the bar that reminds me of my days before I learned better. I haven’t laughed that much in a long time.

It was also great to meet Matt Dickman in person having followed him over on MarketingProfs.

The lowlight was chatting with Todd Andrlik, founder of the Power 150. I enjoyed talking to him but maybe he’s got Kryptonite in his bag because every time I talked to him I had no game whatsoever. He was shooting some video, asking what makes blogs influential and I tried to make a crack about using blogs for global domination. As anyone who does comedy knows, there is no middle ground. Either you win, and people laugh, or you lose and you get no laughs – the comedic equivalent of a 65 car pile up with an explosion that takes out the orphanage next door.

After my crash and burn Tara was kind enough to give me a gun to the head gesture. I was feelin’ the love.

And if that weren’t enough, we were chatting on the boat and the topic of American History came up. I said yes, I have read a lot of U.S. history, but then as I tried to dig into the database I realized that my full year of American History at school is now too far in the rear view mirror to be seen. I couldn’t even recall Stephen B. Oates, UMass prof and well known author from my time there. At least I managed to scratch up Manchester’s American Caesar, but it’s amazing how, as my career has progressed I’ve read less and less outside of my profession. Fortunately for me he was a gentleman and spared me any remarks such as “So I heard your stroke recovery is going well” or “You know I do have a coloring book about the Constitution you could check out”.

I also got to catch up with the Podcast Sisters, I always appreciate listening to Anna’s insight.

I even broke out the David Ogilvy pipe, fortunately Greg Verdino had a point and shoot to catch the moment. That’s me with Scott Monty and Linda Sherman.

Congratulations to Scott Monty for the success of the Oovoo campaign run by Crayon, complete with a $30,000 donation to the Frozen Pea Fund (and for talking me into going to the event). The lovely Carin joined me for Breakfast with the Monty’s, the Savvy Auntie, and Jason Falls, who we will probably be visiting soon as Carin is looking for an excuse to see the horse races, and I want to tour a distillery.

There’s plenty of pictures up on flickr if you’d like to take a look around.

Productivity Buster

Monday Morning Blues

Back to work after a busy weekend in Gotham City. I had a great time a blogger social, and have to do a full write up, but catching up on sleep was a higher priority this morning.

You know it’s solid when the Ogilvy pipe comes out. I just requested permission on this copyrighted shot from Greg Verdino, I think I need a point and shoot, I can’t carry the bag everywhere.

Check out the rest of the photoset here.

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.

Productivity Buster


Stupid KeysI rented a minivan for the trade show. Lame, I know, but it’s good for hauling around the trade show cases, or  carpooling with everybody else.  These keys are huge b/c they have 6 buttons on them, but here’s the kicker: they gave me two keys on a keychain that is a cable keyring that is riveted shut. I’d need some wire cutters to get them apart. So why am I carrying around two? What in would require me to need both keys without separating them?

So I can do them the favor of losing them both? Knowing they will be safer because I have to put them in my laptop bag because it’s too big for a pocket? Anyone? Bueller?

Productivity Buster

Weekend Ramble – Palm Centro

So it’s the weekend. Taking a break from Marketing here’s the important stuff:

I got a new TV so the complaining can stop at my house. The old one is being repaired and it’s going on 3 weeks, we couldn’t take it any more. We got a good deal at the Sony outlet and so I was able to take the upgrade to Apple TV last night and subscribing to Flickr is awesome.

I had a question come in and thought it would be good to put it out there as a continuation of my travel series, as I’m packing my bags now.

“I think I remember a post or tweet of yours regarding your Palm Centro. I am in the market for a smartphone and I have been looking at it. I am a Sprint customer and I have narrowed my search to the Centro or the Pearl. I really wanted Windows Mobile over PalmOS but that is mostly because I haven’t used PalmOS in years.

Would you recommend the Centro? I would basically use it to browse the web with Opera and check Gmail with the Gmail app. Are you using these apps?”

Back in December I traded in my Treo 600 and my wife’s standard issue Sanyo flip phone for a pair of Centros. Now some will say that my opinion is moot because our previous phones were so crappy that anything would be an upgrade. Getting past that let me say that I am a die hard Palm fan. I have yet to find any version of Windows mobile on any device that matches the usability of the Palm OS. It’s just easier and faster to get to addresses, see the calendar, do the simple tasks.

Also note that getting off of Sprint for an iPhone is not an option. My wife talks to her family alot so I have 4 phones on my plan, that keeps 1,000 minutes on Sprint-to-Sprint and pays for itself, but again, no iPhone for me.

The killer App for me is PDANet, I’ve used it on my 600 and the version on my Centro gets decent speeds. This means I can browse the web, upload and download files on my laptop anywhere there’s Sprint cell coverage. No more looking for wireless, and I’ve used it at geek shows such as Gnomedex or Podcamp where the attendees often kick the conference center’s wireless service in the ding-ding.

I use it to check my Gmail via the browser – and it works perfectly. I have been meaning to install Opera Mini but that is not a one click installation, you have to install some kind of java machine first and go from there. I’ve heard it’s possible but haven’t read about anyone who has done it on the Centro (755p is the newest I’ve seen that does run it). One of the other mailing apps ends up polling the system all the time and will wear your battery out, but I’m not using that.

I’ve also used JShopper for years as my shopping list and I’m not willing to give that up.

Productivity Buster

Are You Ready for Some Football

Firebrand will have some coverage of Superbowl Ads by Terry Tate, that’s all I need to know.

Happy Friday

ps – Google reader doesn’t show the embedded YouTube vids in this post, anyone know how to fix that?