Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The problem with Mac ads


I recently watched one of the many episodes of the “I’m a mac” ad series. To get things straight, I like macs…alot, and although some of the ads in this series are just not funny, I do like the way they poke fun at pcs and deliver them a much overdue comedic beating. However from a business perspective there are numerous problems with the whole series of ads, some of them very fundamental in nature.

I personally like them because I understand them, and I think they cater to the whole Apple “in joke” brand of humour. However for your average computer user, who we can presume is relatively computer ignorant, the ads serve no real purpose at all. They don’t inform or persuade in any meaningful manner, conversely if we look at a typical Dell ad, it tells us what we get, when we’ll get it, and what a great deal we are getting. And obviously this has brought them great success, where as Apples “we’re cooler than thou” approach has had relatively limited success.

The most fundamental problem lies with who they are aiming these ads at.
The ads essentially act as funny little shorts that provide light entertainment for Apple fans, although amusing this is a true waste of advertising revenue. In case you didn’t notice, apple fans do not need to be convinced to go out there and buy an Apple computer anymore, they are preaching to the converted and fighting a war that for that person, has already ended. Apples hardware and software do all the marketing it needs to KEEP customers, and they do not need to run smug reminders to retain their loyalty.

Should apple ever decide to make meaningful inroads into the home computer market they will need to adopt a new marketing approach, I’m not suggesting they go out and out “Dell” on us but they need to adopt an advertising method that can inform the Appleaphobes among us what they are missing out on, rather than insult (that’s no way to make new friends) or worse tell them nothing at all.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Save the internet

Using the printing press people started to publish their thought and ideas about 600 years ago, this was the first major explosion of sharing of thoughts and ideas and has taken the world to where it is today, however within a reasonably short amount of time, the boom, was over. Sure publishing still existed, and in terms of volume it was greater than ever, the difference? Publishing was not done by the humble printing press anymore, and cost of entry were so high that the entire market for publishing print was controlled by a select few major players. This meant that the stream of ideas, thoughts and opinions was a one way process and was heavily controlled by the interests of those major players.
If we look back to the 1920s we see another explosion. This was the golden age of the radio where thousands of users would broadcast their own shows and could access large numbers of people instantly and led to a resurgence of communication. But this was not to last very long and the US government brought in regulations, that at the end of the day left a situation where only the big stations could afford the license to continue broadcasting.
The pattern we see here is a change that makes contribution very easy and a boom of involvement that follows this….and then, it gets locked up, sold off, and turned into a one way street.
Blogging and user generated videos are the new printing press, the new radio, never before has there been access to such a global audience at the click of a few buttons, however it appears history may be repeating itself. The telecommunications companies in the US have decided that the copper wires in the ground and the service they provide, means that the Internet belongs to…them, and they have the right to make the rules that should control the net. Now this poses a problem, a major problem. The likely scenario is if they own the net, they are going to try and sell it off to the highest bidder, dispensing with the little guys, the blogger, me and you.
I suggest you go to this site and have a look around and at least sign this petition http://action.freepress.net/campaign/savethenet. It is in everyone’s interest that the net remains as neutral as is possible and is not converted into a toll road. The Internet is changing the world, lets not stop it.

Save the Internet | Rock the Vote

Friday, February 23, 2007

Web 2.0

Not that long ago when i was a little whipper snapper, the Internet was very different from the way it is now. There was no way that i could have searched for a video like the way i can on youtube, and there is no way this blog would have existed. It may have been that somewhere on the unsearchable web these facilities did exist, but my point is that it is now supremely easier to create a video, a story and within minutes broadcast it to potential millions.
The web has come a loooong way in recent years and is now in a place nerds like to call web 2.0.
So next time you leave a comment on a bebo, upload a video to youtube, or write into your blog, give that a thought.
The above video is pretty great.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Spring Break (nerd style)




My planned trip to Canada (for business competition) in pics
starts march 14th go to canada, that first buliding is my hotel!
Second venue is where the competition will be going down.
Then after that gonna greyhpund it up to Toronto for a bit.
Then on to New York!
Then back to ....Dublin...


Monday, February 19, 2007

Bad Presenting

Presenting, for many people, places above spiders and tinkers on the all time fear list. To present well and effectivly you must practice and learn from the mistakes of the past. I had a presentation today that will decide whether I get to go to Canada to compete for UCD, i probably went over my piece (under 3 minutes) about 40 or 50 times to get it perfect, but most people do not do this.

In Rowan Manahans blog, he talks about the qualities (or not) of terrible presenters, and usually even the best suffer from one of the below, Rowan writes

THE APPALLING PRESENTER MANIFESTO

Just in case there’s anyone who doubts your ineptitude, indolence, ignorance and supercilious nature, make sure you include the following elements in your next presentation:

  1. Ass Narcissism - "I’m just going to turn my back on you now and read all my slides off the screen. Enjoy the view!"
  2. Tolstoy wannabe - "I know that I can fit the entire text of War & Peace onto the next three slides. Thank God for sub-bullets!"
  3. Myopia - these presenters literally cannot see beyond the end of their nose
    and so fail to notice that their audience is either asleep or has gone home.
    Tunnel vision - those who can see only the one person in the audience who is
    smiling and nodding out of sympathy, not the other 99 who have fallen
    asleep/gone home.
  4. "I'm Eclipse Boy!" - "There must be some moth in my
    genetic heritage; but you can read the slide off my chest can’t you?"
  5. Hypoempathy - presenters who use the phrase, “Now this is a very important
    point” more than once never ask themselves the essential question - important to who?
  6. "Gotta sing, gotta dance" - "Sure, this topic could have been covered
    in an email, but what can I say? I just loooove being bathed in the glow of the
    data projector."
  7. Slide amnesia - a subset of Ass Narcissism, when the presenter seems surprised that a certain slide has popped up on screen and is forced to read it out word for word …
  8. Dispunctional - the presenter has no concept of time and is eating into the next presenter's slot or, worse yet, into coffee break.
  9. Complarrogance - a rare condition, characterised by all of the
    above symptoms.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Worlds Happiest


The table of the "worlds happiest countries" (fruity I Know) was released recently, it reflects data from UNESCO, the CIA, the New Economics Foundation, the WHO, the Veenhoven Database, the Latinbarometer, the Afrobarometer, and the UNHDR.
The twenty happiest countries are:


  1. Denmark
  2. Switzerland
  3. Austria
  4. Iceland
  5. The Bahamas
  6. Finland
  7. Sweden
  8. Bhutan
  9. Brunei
  10. Canada
  11. Ireland
  12. Luxembourg
  13. Costa Rica
  14. Malta
  15. The Netherlands
  16. Antigua and Barbuda
  17. Malaysia
  18. New Zealand
  19. Norway
  20. The Seychelles

As a side note, Finaldn no.6 also has the worlds highest suicide rate...and by a long way. You figure

Friday, February 16, 2007

Phone Love

I love my iPod, i love it ALOT, and were i in a situation where my house was on fire and i needed to take a few things with me, the ipod and my brother would be high on the list. Other people love their phones and couldnt do without them, like the gentleman i will tell you about.

A polish student, studying English in Pennsylvania was recently visiting Niagra falls, strolling along while talking to his friend, his phone fell down onto some trecherous hilly land off the main trail, so, being smart person, he decided he should go after it.

Waldek Kubicki ended up slipping on the snowy rocks and ended up sliding over 200 ft towards the BIG drop, and a seeming definate death, but stopped 50ft short, where he had to wait for 45mins to be rescued by helicopter. All i want to know is what type of phone is worth risking a life for...I want it.

The Ruler

I watched a documentary on Google video yesterday about the history of numbers, it was really quite good and covered it all in a very casual and comical way. One of the things you don’t really realise is that almost everything around you is possible because of numbers, more specifically that we all agree on the same numbers. The ancient Egyptians were the first to introduce the ruler, it was based on the length of a mans forearm and the width of his hand and was made on mass. The fact that they could agree on a common measuring system enabled them to do great things, and brought us structures such as the great pyramids.
Just as they key to effective building is measurement and common understanding, the same can be said to be true to effective communication. We need to use the same basic language to get our message across, but when we have that out of the way we need to make sure that we understand the details of that language.
Too many times arguments and disagreements are based on misunderstandings like here and here, and as long as both parties have different meanings for a key term, the discussion/argument/bar fight will never really get anywhere meaningful. Dictionaries exist for a reason.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The importance of a 2nd opinion


Google like to play around with their logo and often make pretty cool topical versions, like snow covered for xmas etc. However yesterday the logo was different, so much so that in fact the logo did not even say google anymore, however it did say "GOOGE"... As Seth Godin put it "Id like to buy a consonant please".


I think this can teach us mere mortals a few lessons


  1. even if you think what you have created/designed/written is perfect, and that you dont need someone to recheck it for you. YOU DO. The goog incident really would have been quite easy to avoid.

  2. Also not to get over elaborate with decoration to the point of losing focus of what the actual matter at hand is. This can be seen by people who over format essays/presentations to the point where the core message is blurred.

  3. Some people are silly

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

iPiano




Apple really are innovators gotta say, i saw this today and i was real impressed, it really does look like its gonna make a difference in the world of music. The keys are going to be on a giant touchscreen and its all going to be digital. The profitability of the piano is quite slim though and has a retail price of $13,999.
Its hitting the shops early in the summer and I think that maybe after this guitar wont be seen as the "cool" instrument to play.
Long live the iPiano

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Design defects

Designers at times purposefully build defects in to products so as to shorten their lifespan, or generate repeat custom, but this.... well this is just silly.

It really does astonish me that no one down the entire line of command questioned how the customer who purchased the scissors (therefore obviously needing a pair) is to open them without the aid of a.....scissors?
My hat is off to them, bravo good sirs

Lessons from Basketball

I have played basketball since primary school and despite the injuries and what not, it really has been one of the more influential parts of my life. I have met most of my better friends through basketball, and despite St Andrews best efforts, managed to play basketball for the full six years of my stay there. Team sports offer lots of informal education and teaches you lessons that you can apply to all aspects of life.

I attribute most of my learning in this area to a certain Mr Conan Doyle ,basketball coach for four of my six years at the school. He taught me that to get the best out of people you don't scream, shout and insult at someone to teach them (See Dick Dunne school of coaching), instead he would bring you aside, ask you what you think you did wrong and then teach you the correct way and made sure you understood him until the message was clear and the lesson was taught. These lessons can be applied to life, and nowhere more clearly than the world of business. For example, you are a manager and you have people working for you, but they are making mistakes and working slow, presented with 2 options you can... a) scream, shout and possibly assault them, OR b) ask them whats wrong, find out the problem and fix it. This may sound obvious but I have seen this time and time again, from basketball coaches to shop managers and even in college projects.
Another gem i took from Conan Doyle was "practice as you mean to play"
Again this seems obvious, but if you train at half intensity for a basketball game, when you need to actually go full steam ahead, you cant, its uncharted territory because you haven't been there yet. Similarly if you study for a few days before the exam and don't practice timed answers, come the exams you wont be able to answer them. It disappoints me that time and time again when we have class presentations in college that people don't seem to improve at all, why?
Because they practice as they mean to play, either badly or not at all.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Saturday, February 10, 2007

eBay: the pez connection


I have to admit i was never a huge fan of Pez. Pez for those of you not in the know, or born after the 70's are small crappy sweets that really are quite terrible. However the sweets came in dispencers, and this was inevitably what shot them to fame. They often depicted characters from movies such as star wars and popular cartoons, it was because of this they aquired somewhat of a cult following amonst the nerd population.

In 1995 a gentleman by the name of Pierre Omidyar was speaking to his wife (a nerd) who was interested in trading pez dispencers with other collectors (nerds) but didn't know where to look. Pierre thought that perhaps he could set up a simple website where people could trade or purchase these delightful little fancies.

He constructed that site 12 years ago......it is now EBAY the masters of ecommerce, and vendor of virtually anything. The site remains the biggest online retailer to date and has the unique appeal of bringing customers together rather than business to cutomer.
As my rather artistic picture shows the end result of the pez project is 2% of goods are sold through ebay.... that is to say 2% of all transactions in the world, online or off go through ebay. Pretty amazing i think.
  • As an aside
    750,000 people in the US claim ebay to be theri primary source of income

  • 300,000 people in the EU say the same

  • Last year a college girl tried to sell a date with her online to pay college fees, it got to $10,000 before it was pulled out by ebay for fear of setting a standard for things like escort agencies.

Friday, February 9, 2007

We better be quiet homes......mackas view

This is perhaps the most artistic description of the moped incident I have ever heard uttered by a human. Possibly the best blog post ever.
Mackas version of the sordid incident

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

A thousand words?

"A picture tells a thousand words"

I believe that to be very true. I was watching a presentation by Seth Godin (my hero) last wekk and he put up the above slide to describe the differences between competitors in the motor industry. Two circles... and that was it, the entire slide consisted of two circles.
The traditional method of "presenting" utilised by people and encouraged by the powerpoint interface, is to use bullet points and invariably to fill the slide with endless reams of text, that the person proceeds to simply read aloud while looking at the screen.
The slide actually showed an important fact too, the small circle showed the amount per car revenue (the white screen) was spent by Mercedes on advertising, because the car is aimed at a specific group and is an exeptional car that really sells itself. The great big grey circle is the amount of advertising per car that Ford spend. Because they have to sell average cars to average people they have to spend alot of money on letting people know that their new "fiesta" has hit the streets, so to avoid huge costs you try to make your product, rather than advertising budget, exeptional.

The main point im trying to put forward is, using images like the above give scope for a more engaging presentation where you tell stories rather than repeat out bullet points.
Remember, its a presentation not a recital, the information needs to be in your head rather than on the screen

Thoughts on College + Accountancy

I'm sitting in class right now and to be honest i am an annnnnngry eddy. Management accounting is possibly the most boring course i have taken to date, its competing with financial accounting for the crown. Notice that the common denominator is accounting, i have no interest in accounting, and the overhead abortion rate can go an jump off a cliff for all i care.

i think its really stupid that we are forced to do subjects in second year (out of three) that we dint want to do and have no intention on pursuing to a further level, its just stupid and not productive.

The college complains of students not achieving high enough results in their degrees? By forcing us to take unwanted subjects it results in people like me being disgruntled (but then again when am i gruntled) and wasting everyones time from me to the lecturer.

Anyone wanting to become an accountant, have fun.

At KPMG, you can find challenging opportunities in an environment that
recognizes and rewards exceptional performance. We seek experienced individuals
capable of delivering a wide range of value-added services to member firm
clients around the world, while helping them to confront today's critical issues
head on. KPMG is a strong international network of firms and strives to take a
leadership role in globalizing businesses. - (AKA bean counter Wanted)


Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Faces of Success

McDonalds, Apple, YouTube, Goooooogle

Kids these days...

This was written by me this summer,

I was at work the other day in the good old m&s, and was serving a customer, but, this was no ordinary customer, this was infact the type of cutomer that appears only at weekends, the cookie monster, usually denoted by grey sweat pants, ugg boots, and collar up. These young teen girls seem to crave the cookie and the hidden cocaine within, and they flock in like hungry flocks of cookie crazed humans. NEXT PLEASE boomed out my manly voice, showing the queue of customers who was boss. One of the monsters in question handed me a cookie, which retails for .90c . "Eh thatll be ninety cent please", the tiny girl extracted a fifty euro note from her louis vuitton handbag, and you know what it made me think.... It made me think of the attitude we have now in the richer areas of Dublin, this new attitude we have towards money, and I honestly cannot see it working in the long term, that is in terms of generations.
My grannys parents both migrated separately from a country that was poverty stricken and had nothing to offer its people in the way of jobs, they left to go to the promised land of America. They risked failure once they got there, and even more failure to even reach there, it was a SIX WEEK journey by boat, and the prevelance of disease and death gave these ships the rather apt title of the coffin ships. Mr McKenna worked initially on the trams in new york, he would often tell of the days he would return home with ice on his beard, and how he was fully aware that if he went back to his small room at night and did not emerge in the morning, nobody would notice or care. But still he persevered, he eventually became friends with a rich gentleman who used the trams, and was later asked to work for him as a servant in his house.
The soon to be ms McKenna worked as the companion (paid friend) of the wife of a railway tycoon. These servants and companions would often meet in the basement of these large houses during the owner’s parties etc, and this is how they met. They were so determined return to their homeland, that despite bleak prospects they decided to return to Ireland to set up a family, Mr McKenna took up a job as a milk man and they saved up to open a shop, in, what is now the vhi building beside Argos in dun laoghaire. They saved up to buy two more premesis.
My grandfather started work at age 14 straight out of school, he became an apprentice mechanic, he worked many years as a mechanic in the old garage in glasthule, and then the manager and owner offered him the opportunity to buy the garage off him which my granda did. He then made it into a esso franchise and he worked there the rest of his days.
My parents fifteen years ago had to decicide whether they would buy an extra loaf of bread or a packet of biscuits for the week, seemed that geneticists were not required in the recession yrs of the 80s in Ireland, but they worked hard and got to where they are now.
So I apologise for that frankly needless bit of family history, but in a way it is relevant because it is not a unique case in any way, Ireland two or three generations back was cripplingly poor, and most lived in poverty of various levels, with barely enough clothes to go around, to quote my grandfather ‘the first up, was the best dressed’ (describing the morning rush for the limited clothing supply) and in Dublin things certainly have changed a lot. People who are now richer as a direct consequence of the work that the generations before them put in, are choosing to ignore how they got to where they got. The attitude of it being okay to be in debt with a credit card company and to spend all your money just because you have it, will, I think not work in the long term.
In my opinion it was the attitude that got the past generations the life they wanted so badly, and the work ethic that was preached to them by their parents. So when I see someone come in with more money than they know what to do with at the age of 12, it makes me angry to see the change in norms, Parents now buy anything their "princesses" ask for, I have noticed this becoming worse in the last few years. In my opinion if you present someone a situation where there is no incentive to work for something they wont, and they won't suddenly acquire this attitude when they finish school or college (people don’t seem to realise just how much their grandparents would have loved to go to college, but in their day it was not affordable, now people treat college as a mess around and as their right, not a privilege) and then are expected to leave the home and somehow become independent. What’s the point on working, studying, striving, when you think you will just be bailed out by your parents?
To quote a good basketball coach, one Mr. Conan Doyle, ‘You practice as you play’ if you want to be able to improve or even sustain what has been given to you; you need to be constantly ready to work for things and realise how things were achieved in the past so you can shape your future.
I’m also tired of this attitude that these rich kids seem to rejoice in that they are some how any better people than the poorer sections of the population, just because they wear shirts with collars up, that happened to cost 70 euro, they are better than people who shop in Penney’s, or whatever, buddy your clothes were made in the same place, and who fuckin cares, you are in fact equally poor because the money you have earned is, a big fat zero (addressing the younger ones here), you personally have no wealth at all, zip zero, you have no dinero. So when these people go around telling of their AFFLUENCE they are just giving praise to their parents, which, last time I checked, is not the done thing when you are a teenager! So I think with this current lax attitude, i guess that within two generations they will no longer be wealthy, and i cant wait to see how the power redistributes.

I think my thoughts on the matters can be summed up by the lyrics from the song ‘Handbags and Glad rags’


‘They told me you missed school today, so what I suggest, you just throw them
all away, the handbags and the gladrags that your poor old granddad had to sweat
so you could buy’

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Marketing Boundries?

No one is immune to marketing.
No one.

Employment Issues



"The Southside LES is a free, confidential and personal service for
long-term unemployed people and those in danger of becoming long-term unemployed"
I get the bus to UCD every day from monkstown farm. Every day i see the local "southside employment office" open shop at 9am, however i am yet to actually see anyone in there at all.I wondered why this was and then realised, the place CLOSES AT 1PM! I am not homeless, or long term unemployed (i think?), yet i find it hard to get out of bed before 1.
If they are trying to provide a public service and get people back into the workforce they are not really doing their job, opening at such restricted hours is not going to work, however if the Co Council is trying to set up a token symbol to give the illusion of caring they have succeeded.

Friday, February 2, 2007

"The incident" - Summer 2005

I found this saved on my computer today, must have been talking to someone on msn and saved this for some reason but its worth a good read.It is the feel good story of an adventure had by me and macka, after this we proceeded to laugh for about an hour and a half non stop, much to the dismay of a tired chilean national.

we had just been at the euro shot bar
where its one euro per shot of
whateva
pretty good really
but
me and macka decided to leave a bit
earlier so
we left but almunecar town center is very maze like
and they are all
just white washed buildings
so ur like eh
hmm which way so we
chose a direction and started goin
and the we went up the steepest street
since sliced bread
it was unusually steep
and macka in his state
grabbed onto the nearest object of assistance
which happened to be a
moped on its little shitty standing leg
it proceeded to fall over and
tumble down the hill a bit and then ALOT

so we were like OOOOOOOOOOOOOOO shit
lets run
so we just kep on runnin
and then we got home
and i opened up the door
of the aprtment block
and macka said
we better be quiet homes
and with that the door absolutely clattered shut




Thursday, February 1, 2007

This is one of my favorite quotes ever, by a nice fellow Theodore Rubin,
also trying to toy around with my graphic design (you proud sammy?)

BuyIreland.com


Owning a house becoming more and more unrealistic to a lot of the population due to land costs that are continually rising, however it seems in some areas of the country, the land prices haven’t budged much at all. A great example can be seen in the lovely Co. Roscommon, possibly due to the fact that, there isn’t really anything there

A certain Mr. John Beckett of adrenalin web productions saw this opportunity in 2003 and quickly snapped up a few fields in the county for his new big plan. He bought the cheapest fields he could get his hands on, the rougher and more rugged, the better. Then got them sub divided into legally separate plots, and got to work on his plan.

Ireland has had a history filled with emigration and as a result we have a widespread “nation” of Irish people abroad with fond memories or at least feelings of “Irishness”, imagine if they were presented the opportunity to personally own a piece of their homeland…wouldn’t that be great?

The site Buyireland.com offered people just this chance, for the small fee of 49.99 dollars (the good aul “target the dumb Americans” tactic) one could own a piece of land in their home land, receive the deeds of ownership and a even a flashy certificate which they could proudly frame on their wall!

But of course, surely there is only so much money that can be made out of a few acres?

To give you an idea of the size, an acre is essentially the same land area as two basketball courts side by side.
Today you could purchase a field of 6 acres at "Stone courts, The Square, Roscommon", for the paltry sum of €300,000, divide that into 258,300 plots of 1sq foot, and then sell them online for the $49.99 charged and with a little simple arithmetic, that’s comes out at……
(Drum roll)

$12,915,000 which converted back to euro is €9,936,142. A multiple of 33 times the initial cost!
Of course Mr Beckett is not stupid enough to think that the fields will sell out instantly, but with the website in place and all the payment processes automated, all he needs to do is employ 1 person to print out all the certificates etc and the business essentially runs itself runs itself. Over time accumulating into a nice pension fund.
If you can get a business together with minimal effort that will run itself like this….please tell me and we can be friends. Self running is where its at.