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The Google Car Will Be the Biggest Mashup Ever

Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

If Google can create a car that chauffeurs you around safely, then I think it’s safe to assume that they will tap into Google Maps—along with their traffic stats—to optimize your drive.

BUT IT GETS BETTER!

What if Google could then get all local, state and federal governments to create and provide access to traffic light systems?

Isn’t it conceivable that Google could totally optimize the world’s driving, reducing congestion, saving gas, time, wear and tear on cars???

They’re applying the Google Optimizer philosophy to driving.

I’m in!

Actually, I walk to work, but would welcome a world with fewer cars, creating less gas, fewer accidents, and people in cars less.

 

Realtor.com App Lets You Draw Custom Geos

Realtor.com App Lets You Draw Custom Geos

Anybody who has grappled with building a local app has struggled with how to structure local searches and local information.

Is it by zip code? Area code? Town name? Mailing address? Miles from current location? Nearest largest city?

Well, Realtor.com has introduced a pretty sweet feature in their iPhone app that’s so intuitive an lightning fast–and downright HELPFUL that I have to show you:

Here’s how it works:

  • You hit the lass0-looking icon
  • You draw your on circle of interest
  • It populates your custom geo with the info you want
This has all the markings of greatness: it works the way you think, it’s easy and it’s fast.
Great UI and great UX Relator.com team!

 

On the Factors Which Define A Good Cup of Coffee

I’m not really a coffee aficionado—dare I say the word “addict”—but I do think there are some basic things that you HAVE TO DO to fully enjoy the cup that you have. The one right there in front of you. The one that you’re drinking!

1. Take the lid off

Coffee is meant to be smelled first and then drunk. So please take off the plastic lid.

2. Drink it out of ceramic

Paper? Ugh. Plastic? Ugh and dangerous. Heating plastics is just not good for your health. Ceramic is just built to pour coffee and leave not weird aftertaste or textural sensation.

3. Don’t you dare put cream and sugar in there!

Black is best in this case. If you’re going to drink coffee, then drink coffee. If you want a cookie or a bowl of ice cream then eat a cookie or a bowl of ice cream.

For what it’s worth, I think it’s good to point out that October 10th, somewhere in the Mid-Atlantic region of United States is probably the best time to drink a cup of coffee.

Happy Monday folks.

Share the Meme Not the App

Share the Meme Not the App

I have Dictionary.com’s iPhone app, and I receive their Word of the Day. Today I actually looked at it and it was a gem:

Bandersnatch: An imaginary wild animal of fierce disposition.

There’s something about this words that seems so cool and useful that I’m definitely gonna use it. Ok, that makes me a little strange… My instinct, though, was to share it on Facebook–where my geeky linguaphile friends would surely drool over my discovery.

Alas, the only sharing on the Dictionary.com iPhone app was for the whole app!

Who wants to share a whole app!

People tend to share the smallest parts of our culture—song, photo, text, quote, link, video… Have you ever heard of an app going viral?

And so Dictionary.com could enable the sharing of words because that’s what people do. Marketing strategies might share apps, but people sure don’t.

It’s the meme that counts!

 

Someone Splice Skype’s DNA With Visual Thesaurus For The Ultimate IM UX

Someone Splice Skype’s DNA With Visual Thesaurus For The Ultimate IM UX

So IM was a great tool.

It no longer is.

Why? Primarily because we’ve all adapted to the concept of asynchronous communication, and we’re ready–we expect!– for a better, easier, more intuitive, more effective tool. What do I mean?

The problem:  The Skype UX lays out communication in linear fashion–even though human conversation isn’t! Here’s a little illustration to remind you:

Tell me you haven’t had this IM experience: your typing fast on the initial thread and then someone veers off–so you follow. Then someone comes back to the initial thread before you’ve even finished typing a response to their tangent. Then you press ‘Enter’ on the tangent thread and the IM UX shows the response next to a non-corresponding line. Now your work has exponentially increased. Add another thread and you’re focused entirely on the screen above–double checking previous IMs to ensure your on target. At this point the UI is not making it easier–it’s making it harder. Fail.

The solution

Now, imagine this: a branching IM a la Visual Thesaurus.

What if each comment or line had an imaginary box around it–and that box could be dragged around and anchored anywhere on a screen; and from each node could grow a conversation?

I would pay for that that!

 

 

Geo-Smart Reminders

Ok, I’m wearing my soothsayer hat and looking into my crystal ball:

I see a time when I can add a to-do item to my iPhone app that helps me organize my life (Things by the way) and I can define it so that it goes off when I enter a particular store or class of store.

For example: I always have a few to-dos related to the hardware store–but they’re never a priority. I’m forced to give them an arbitrary due date just to keep them in my mind. It never works that the arbitrary date is the day I walk into a hardware store!

Now, if there was some real smartness in my phone, it would know when I walked into a hardware store (Home Depot, Lowes, local hardware) and then beep and vibrate like crazy.

That would work for the grocery store or music store or… it would be cool and helpful.

Unsubscribing? Not so fast!

Just decided to go hog wild and get rid of email subscriptions that I haven’t looked at in months. So after unsubscribing from about 10 emails it occurred to me that not one organization said to me: “Hey, we know you’re busy, how about instead of unsubscribing you take a little vacation from us. Say for about 6 months. We’ve got a lot planned and we’d like you to experience it.”

I would have done that 9 times out of 10.

Sure, I’ve seen ‘reduce the frequency’ options, but really when people go for an unsubscribe they’re already kind of annoyed–so going from three times a week to once a week just won’t suffice.

My concept is just “back off!” or “I think we need a little space from each other.”

A big PAUSE button, really.

Anything to lower the unsubscribe rate, right?

Groupon’s Mojo: Simplicity

I don’t generally use coupons, but I think Groupon is brilliant in its simplicity.  When you arrive at the site, there’s really only one question.

Here’s a great quote from Andrew Mason, founder of Groupon (from ChicagoMag.com):

The premise is “dead-simple value that you can comprehend by looking at one page in three seconds,” says Mason.

In the age of TMI (too much information), this concept will make or break a business.

 

Is Google Making Product Documentation Obsolete?

Ok, I’m still amazed at the value Google provides, AND how it makes lots of companies (their documentation) look silly.

Case in point: I was trying to figure out how to prevent Adobe from automatically opening pdfs after I create them. I started (of course) by going to Acrobat (Pro in this case) and looking around its menus.

You know, Preferences?  Nothing.

Then I tried Google. I searched: “how to prevent Adobe acrobat from opening newly created pdfs”

The first result had my answer. It was Tek Tips. Never heard of it before–basically a poorly designed forum for tech Q & A.

But low and behold there was my answer. In less than a minute.

Note: Adobe wasn’t even on page one.

To be fair, I went back and used Adobe’s help files. I entered my search and hit enter. Nothing happened. Nothing. Fail.

Four Marketing Principles I Learned From My Kids

Having kids is like being on Jeopardy for, like, 20 years: they give you the answers, you just have to figure out the questions they’re asking!

And they’ve taught me a lot about marketing. Here’s their insight:

Positioning matters. Ask a 4 year old girl if she wants a pony tail = no! Ask the same girl if she wants ‘super-high, flowing pony hair’ and you’ve got a pretty excited kid standing in line at your feet.

Make it special–novelty matters. If you’re having trouble feeding your kids the same ol’ thing just try cutting things into funky shapes. I keep cookie cutters handy–makes turning a pedestrian pancake into a butterfly easy. All of a sudden they wanna get some. With marketing, every so often, just change course. Keeps clients and prospects on their toes.

Slow down–be sincere. Ever try to read a book on fast forward? My kids called me out on that on the quick. It really made me think: life is about the here and now–if you’re not gonna do it right, don’t do it at all. Your audience isn’t schooled in your products like you are, so slow down a bit–let folks d i g e s t…

Too many choices is counter productive. Kids love choices–and if you stay disciplined, you can get your kids to do a lot of things if you avoid overdoing it. Same with clients, colleagues, direct reports. A or B? that’s a 15-minute decision. A, B, C, Ca, T, R or Z? That’s a black hole.

Get the core stuff right and nothing else matters. Kids love constant change–but they really just want you to love them in a straight-forward and consistent way. Your clients and prospects too: give them something really good and be consistent. Everything else is distracting and confusing.

 

Walk the Alleys–Gain New Perspective

Walk the Alleys–Gain New Perspective

I live in semi-urbia. A big town. A very small city.

Here’s one of the things I love to do: Walk the alleys.

Here’s why: you get to see some interesting stuff.

For example, here’s a little spontaneous micro-landscape design in a veritable pot (really the end of a dormant pipe). Nature’s work is genius… you just have to keep you’re eyes open.

 

Or how about this crazy paint job. Seriously, can you imagine watching this person flub this project?

 

Or this plane crash. Shot with Instagram, but without the retro look, it was a pretty wild find.

 

Or this cat.

 

So next time you’re walkin’ the streets–take the alleys and find something new.

Is Huffington Post the Ambulance Chaser of Internet Media?

Here’s my suspicion of the new darling of Internet media:

  • HuffPo editors use Twitter and other real-time & mostly social media to find out what’s trending.
  • Then they grab a writer to jot out a quick story or grab an AP brief to see can get in on the action.
  • HuffPo.com’s formidable SEO capital catapults them to the top of searches for that topic.
  • They get zillions of ad impressions for their advertisers.
  • HuffPo’s leading lady isn’t po’–she’s rich.

Good for her.

Bad for the internet.

I’m not the first to comment on this, but I was just infuriated to see a tweet in my stream that pointed to an article about a man who drive down the freeway with his wife on the hood of his car.

Proclamation

Internet publishers: you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Either have editorial discipline and focus and accept reasonable margins from loyal and interested readers OR make a ton of money gaming the system and be out of business soon.