Roadwarrior design classics

A little while back I wrote about my multi-adapter that some clients have coveted in the past. Another item in my laptop travelling kit is this natty retractable ethernet cable by Targus. Wi-Fi despite what the techno-pundits would have you believe is rather unpredictable and reception areas can be like Swiss cheese. If I have the chance I prefer an ethernet socket to hook up my MacBook Pro.

Rather than having a coiled cable that ends up looking like a plate of spaghetti and damaged connectors I have a small plastic block about the size of a fat audio cassette. It makes it a lot easier to pack.

It recoils back into its plastic shell automatically like the power cord on my vacuum cleaner.

The red brand of China

Brandchannel have an interesting article about the challenges that Chinese brands face to make it successfully in the West. The article doesn’t cover the recent BenQ Siemens disaster. More details here (PDF document or Adobe Acrobat reader required).

Links for 2006-10-29 [My Web 2.0]

What Do Women Want? Just Ask – New York Times

Energy Fiend – Obsessed With Caffeine

Some inconvenient questions?

I went to see An Inconvenient Truth. This is a film made by Al Gore which intersperses his presentation which he routinely gives on climate change and the story of Gore’s own journey to environmentalism. I had some observations which I have noted below in a number points in no particular order.The Good
Gore has managed to make his lecture a worthwhile experience to watch, which is a rare achievement.

Where the lecture touches on the way humans continually fail to understand non-linear or dynamic systems really struck a chord with me.

It’s the reason why Yahoo! Research and O’Reilly Media run the Research Buzz Index and why DARPA tried to introduce the market-based regime dead pool as a predictor of terrorist activity and intent.

The end of the speech highlighting why people shouldn’t shrug global warming off as something they can’t change I found particularly influential.

The Bad
The film missed an opportunity to discuss how long-term carbon emissions can be reduced through increased reliance on nuclear and alternative energies. There is also a compelling economic argument for reducing carbon emissions. By reducing resource consumption for fuel we are sparing these resources so that they can be used as chemical feedstock over time for medicines, plastics and other advanced materials that can improve our life, minimise our impact on the environment and still spur economic growth.

Gore points out how a sample was taken of academic papers and none of them disputed global climate change. However in doing so he did leave him open to criticism: peer review is notorious for enforcing orthodox thinking. By going against orthodox thinking scientists risk losing their funding and or tenure. In brutal terms, they risk losing the ability to provide for themselves and their families. I think that on balance Gore is right, but he left himself open.

The blog to support the film is a model example of how not to do a corporate blog. It is more like a bulletin board and has no personal feel. All the posts seem to be done anonymously. This was a bit surprising since in other ways the film seems to have been very savvy in its online presence to facilitate word-of-mouth marketing.

The Cynical
The film looks in part like a campaign video for some future Gore White House ticket, especially when the film reaches back to personal tragedy in Gore’s life. Maybe its a cultural thing, me watching a film very much aimed at an American audience through my European cultural looking-glass.

Product placement: Gore is on the board of Apple Computer Inc. The company makes fantastic products, hell I use them, have done for the past nigh on two decades; but the first five minutes of the film had footage that was a product placement persons wet dream. Was this the catalyst for the current hate campaign against Apple by environmental ambulance-chasers Greenpeace?

I didn’t see Gore once use a light transit system or any form of public transport (apart from taxis) in the film.

The Unfortunate
Ultimately the audience for this film will be self-selecting, it won’t reach into the less progressive heartland of America that it needs to impact in order to facilitate change. How do you turn the media’s answer to J Edgar Hoover: Rush Limbaugh green?

Pulp Fiction

My Dad used to read a lot of pulp fiction from Westerns by the likes Louis L’Amour to thrillers from Hammond Innes and Alistair MacLean and they were always kept around the house.Periodically my Dad would trade some in and get newer ones from a second-hand book seller in Birkenhead market. As a kid they made an easy way to wile away a few hours on a wet Sunday afternoon.

I picked up a copy of Louis Louis L’Amour’s Silver Canyon by chance.

It was easy to read and although the plot and characterisation did nothing for me, you could see from his writing how the discipline of cranking out book after book on a typewriter had given him a lean writing style similar to Hemmingway.

It makes you wonder how many books we have to suffer from Dan Brown before he gets to a similar standard, or how many blog posts I have crank out?

Links for 2006-10-28 [My Web 2.0]

Not As Random As It Looks? – Business Week on new stock scandal in the making

whitney music box var. 0 – chromatic – 48 tines

Snap Cam – 35mm Camera Model Kit – SUPERfantastico!

Nintendo: Playing a different game –

Charles & Marie: The Quintessential Lifestyle Navigator

O’Kane Irish Foods

Forrester’s Consumer Forum 2006 – attendees takes on the different presentations given by the likes of Charlene Li

RTE – Radio Gems

Irish business newseircom net

Television, drug of the nation

One nation under god has turned into

one nation under the influence of one drugTelevision, the drug of the nation
Breeding ignorance and feeding radiation

The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy (Michael Franti, 1991)

Wallpaper for the the mind, an escape, an opiate of the people: television has been accused of many things.

I found that my life was richer and I read more when I didn’t have a TV set.

However, I was surprised by this article in Slate TV Really Might Cause Autism: findings from a new Cornell study by Gregg Easterbrook that pulls together academic research which points out TV may be related to incidences of ADD and autism in young children.

The Dipstick

I am not a great kitchen and cooking person but this really appealed to me. The Teastick.For years my parents and my Granny claimed that teabags contained the worst sweepings of the tea and insisted on drinking Barry’s Tea in leaf form only.

You can only hold so many years making a quick mug of tea and drinking carefully to allow the leaves to settle at the bottom of the cup if the tea strainer had been mislaid. Which is where the Teastick is a stroke of well not exactly genius more like something that has been staring you in the face, its so obvious. But I guess that’s where great product design comes in.

A curious mix of influser and teaspoon, the Teastick is old school tea for a post-modern time poor world. What’s more paper-making manufacturing for the cases of tea bags consumes a huge amount of energy, pollutes a lot of water, so the Teastick should be appreciated by Guardian-reading types.

Chromatic progression

Whitney's harmonic

John Whitney was an
animator and composer who did a lot of work around music and mathematics. This work has been taken up by a Flash animator. The animations are the kind of simple yet entertaining simple pleasures that I would have appreciated as a child and have begun to appreciate again. Theyt are strangely compelling, enjoy!

Links for 2006-10-27 [My Web 2.0]

Free Online Translator and dictionary – English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese (Brazilian) and Russian languages

Attack of the Sprouts

Top 100 Facts for Chuck Norris –

Ferris Bueller’s day is history for today’s kids –

EMI Music CEO says the CD is ‘dead’ – MarketWatch


Play corrupts and game play corrupts totally

Earlier this week, the legal actions of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) apparently forced to shut down. There has been soul searching in some quarters about Sony’s conduct, particularly with regards the number of senior executives how had bought grey-market devices for ‘investigative purposes’ allegedly.Rather than have people rattling around online, I thought that I would suggest some practical ways to respond in a responsible manner and explain to SCEE that they didn’t appreciate the company’s conduct.

I started by revisting a post I had written over two years ago for the AlwaysOn Network following articles I had read about Wal-Mart. It has some good rules of engagement in italics:

Stop bellyaching saying how terrible they are. If you have money you have a choice; use it. If you have a fair bit of money you also have a voice; use it.

– Don’t be abusive to company staff. These are people who are trying to get by; the last thing they need is some stuck-up righteous person going off at them. Be polite and courteous at all times – even to senior management.

– Consumers – don’t buy the company’s products and services. If you don’t buy, they will go away or change to behave in a ‘more acceptable’ manner. Its the laws of supply and demand, you cut off their supply of money, they’ll be more ameniable to respond to your suggestions for improvement.

– Do talk to your friends and peers about the benefits of rival ways of shopping. For a listed retail company, there is nothing more terrifying than a decreasing amount of money going through the tills.

There is nothing more powerful according to some of the world’s leading marketers like Richard Edelman than word-of-mouth marketing. That’s the reason why even mobile phones have blogs nowadays.

If you have bought a Wii and or your XBox360 tell everyone how good it is. If you are in Currys or Comet and someone is looking at the PS3 or a PSP, tell them how rocking your Wii, DS or video iPod is. If a Wii or XBox360 demo kiosk has fallen over , get a member of staff to reset it. Mac users have been doing this for years, its known in the industry as evangelisation.

– Focus on one message, there seems to be a myriad of issues that people have with Wal-Mart, however like advertising if you repeat just one message enough times it is more likely to get through to the public psyche and the board of the company. When they have listened to that focus on the next one.

In this case, I’d recommend expressing displeasure at the company’s ‘regional apartheid’ against European gamers. It’s a phrase that is loaded with imagery and emotion and makes a great media soundbite.

– Think about your message, phrase it in terms of the benefit to the audience. For instance, a politician who voices an opposition to the company may benefit from more votes and individual campaign contributions. Basic Dale Carnegie stuff but very true.

– Hound special interest groups like ‘Greenpeace’ and ‘Friends of the Earth’ telling them to readjust their priorities, you’ll need to be polite and very persistent because they usually have pretty thick skins since they give it out so much.

Greenpeace is very interested in electronic waste at the moment., here is a link to their report on Sony. I found it particularly interesting that I couldn’t find any information from SCEE on their website about their environmental record or what they are doing to limit e-waste. Why not send an email to Greenpeace and ask them to take action?

– Learn from the way political campaigns have co-opted the web and get active using, web blogs etc

– Write, email, call the company’s share register, their auditors, their PR agency and their bank of record. Be polite, courteous, persistent and humourous (if you can be) to deliver your message and do it often.

  • SCEE Email addresses are usually of the form:
  • There is a feedback page here.
  • The company press office email address

– Don’t deviate from non-violent action. It’s not cool and its not clever, it is counter-productive to your argument. Over here in the UK, the anti-vivisectionist movement have lost a lot of public goodwill by using violence and intimidation

– Vitriol is not clever, stick to the facts. To an outside audience your vitriol will lack credibility. That is why some of the empassioned anti-Bush protests have little effect (ya’ feelin me Howard Dean?).

– Do not violate the company’s intellectual property including trade marks. That funny piece of satire that you put up as a website, wont be seen by too many people because your web host provider or ISP will take it down if they get a letter from the company’s lawyers.

There is nothing more frustrating to a company than not being able to do anything about its reputation, SCEE is especially vulnerable at the present time as it is in the midst of changing UK PR agencies. The company will struggle to respond to sustained criticism where it cannot bring legal pressure to bear.

– Suppliers – if the company knocks on your door wanting you to supply them. Send them on instead to the competitor you most want to see ran out of business.

– If you want to put your money where you’re mouth is, make sure the company’s stock isn’t in your 401K

– Write to your mutual fund manager, write to your politicians

– Write to your local newspaper.

Post on the forums that you read, put a link to this posting for any people that are interested.

– Don’t give up, its only by repetition and determination that campaigns suceed

Links for 2006-10-26 [My Web 2.0]

AMD, Intel are come-back kids with X86 vectorisation


Microsoft To Miss XBox 360 Sales Targets By As Much As 25% – SeekingAlpha Out of Business due to Multiple Sony Lawsuits

Size? – Buy rare & exclusive trainers, deadstock, buy UK-exclusive colour ways, adidas, Nike, Puma, New Balance

Thursday Miscellany

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The folks at San Francisco bag maker
Timbuk2 have extended their custom build range with a market tote for all you yoga loving gym bunnies and a laptop messenger for all us wage slaves.For what their worth (and Internet tracking is less advance than the industry would have you believe) netimperative have a chart of the world’s 15 most trafficked web properties courtesy of comScore World Metrix.

PRMoves are having a networking event at Ping Pong, 48 Eastcastle Street, W1 on Tuesday 7th November. In their own words: It will be a chance to catch up with us plus indulge in free drinks and nibbles. Also we will be giving you the chance to grill Emma Smith, Assistant Editor of InGear/Sunday Times on the ‘mysteries of journalism’. Let us know if you can come! I would have hoped that many of the PR people there would already have a good understanding of the mysteries of journalism – but hey ho the market must be tough so any kind of candidate will do ;-).Defected Records have teamed up with Mark Finkelstein to resuscitate Strictly Rhythm records according to Earplug. Once one of the most cutting edge New York record labels Strictly disintegrated in creative bankruptcy around the time that Warner Music bought into the label. Where they had once broke artists like Josh Wink, George Morel and Masters at Work and Aly-Us; post Michael Moog – That Sound they ended up churning out bland me-to tracks.

Good luck to them, I met Strictly’s famous A&R supremo Gladys Pizarro in a house party in Hampstead a number of years ago and she seemed suprisingly well-adjusted compared to the usual music industry casualties that I’ve met.


Its the new style

Yahoo! BookmarksI originally wanted to post this yesterday but Blogger was on the blink. One of the key products I was involved in whilst at Yahoo! was the company’s entrance into the social search space with a product called MyWeb. In the last year or so the company has updated the product to version 2.5, which is immensely usable and purchased delicious.

MyWeb was useful as a ‘memory’ with its repository of saved web pages, however in versions one and two was a pig to set up. Many users didn’t appreciate its utility because it was so hard to initially use.

Last night the company rolled out Yahoo! Bookmarks. Bookmarks is a mix of old and new. The brand name does what is says on the tin and takes the bookmarks function that was on the old My Yahoo! page since 1999 and brings it right up to date. It gets consumers over a major barrier about what the hell the product is.

The interface on the product is slicker than a silk codpiece, with proper drag and drop functionality like the Oddpost-powered Yahoo! Mail. The site thumbnails is one of those so simple its obvious ideas. Big props to Tom Chi – the developer who did much of the super-sharp work.

So that Bookmarks must live, MyWeb must die, there will be a migration path to either or Bookmarks. Migration will be easy because Bookmarks sits on the MyWeb platform and delicious will move over (whilst still retaining a user experience that makes a Benedictine monks cell look decadent).To be honest with you I want both, part of the value of MyWeb is the discovery of great links from other people who are known to you, AND the ability to take a copy of a page that you’ve seen.

The reason that I want to copy a page is that many links, particularly on dynamic content sites like newspapers die, having a cache of the page at the time I originally saw it is a really handy reference.

Anyway, give it a try here. A Yahoo! ID is required.