Consumer Electronic Show 2015: Missing a Bet

Susan Ellsworth

Susan Ellsworth

The 2015 Consumer Electronics Show is definitely missing a bet. The CES press is talking breathlessly about drones, futuristic self-driving cars, and glamorous wristbands telling me what I don’t really need to know every minute of every day. I must admit that the report about a refrigerator with eight USB ports from General Electric’s First Build had me going—until I saw the $3000 ticket that First Build wants for this toy. Sorry, GE. No sale.

Connectivity as the big watch-word? (Yawn.) That’s not only not even yesterday’s catch word, it’s older than last year’s catch word.

So the Girl Scouts are in your show. A thrill for the girls, but not for homeowners like me. Obviously, the participants in the show have not spent five minutes a day at home. What this country really needs is genuine connectivity from the grocery store to the parking lot, to my shelves at home, and into my fridge. And make it affordable! Sorry, but the big chain-store delivery truck drivers don’t bring the goods to my kitchen, figure out where everything should be placed and place it there. Where is development of an affordable household inventory system for such items as toilet tissue, shoe strings, tooth paste, light bulbs and laundry detergents? Where is the app that reads and translates the weird codes that still show up on products? And I don’t just mean the bar codes either.

I don’t want or need a car that drives itself. I’m not quite certain I want to see my friendly postal carrier replaced by a drone. I don’t want or need a 3-D printer that produces the Teddy Bear of the Month.  I would rather have self-cleaning drains, a driveway and walkway that melt the ice that coats them in a storm, and self-storing groceries, thank you very much. I’ll be watching from here next year in case the media starts talking about robots for teaching two-year-olds how to build drones.

Groceries_in_Trunk

 

Susan Ellsworth

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Talking about Technology

Susan Ellsworth

Susan Ellsworth

As the 2013 year winds down, I find myself musing about the language we use to talk about technology. As a friend of mine observed a while back, every time the online technology comes up with a new feature/experience, the technologists and their marketers struggle to find the right words to describe that experience and its unique selling proposition.

Many of a certain age will remember when “hanging out” was a bad thing tinged with the suggestion of juvenile delinquency. Not since Google brought out Google + Hangouts.  I participate with a group that recently struggled with whether to call itself online  or virtual. Gone are the days when a cloud was simply a fluffy vision in the sky. Now it’s a fluffy way to tell end users that the computer they are using to communicate with others is not in the same facility they are.  Just as there are hybrid cars, there are hybrid clouds, which the Webopedia says is a ” combined form of private clouds and public clouds in which some critical data resides in the enterprise’s private cloud while other data is stored in and accessible from a public cloud. Hybrid clouds seek to deliver the advantages of scalability, reliability, rapid deployment and potential cost savings of public clouds with the security and increased control and management of private clouds.Really old-timers still think of a tweet as a sound made by a bird. Avatar spawned the word Gravitar for WordPress users. Bitcoin has been around for a while, and now has been entered into the Webopedia.  My picture in this blog is a selfie—a picture I took of myself. Then there is BYOD —Bring Your Own Device, a concept that used to scare corporate systems managers into hiding. The phrase Software As A Service is a yawner from yesterday. Now we have Anything As a Service and Everything as a Service, both of which are abbreviated as XaaS. Now that’s just plain weird. I think I’ll go have an eggnog and wish all of you a happy holiday and a great new MMXIV.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


Susan Ellsworth

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Graduation—-what’s Next?

Susan Ellsworth

Susan Ellsworth

Tomorrow I will be attending my niece’s graduation party. I live close to a university campus with a sports arena so large and popular that graduation ceremonies seem to start earlier year after year.   All excitement and fun.

Really?

Apart from all the student debt that will come crashing down on these students, I do wonder about the practical, hands-on work experiences that today’s graduates in the computing field bring to future employers. My own Alma Mater with its “Fearless Ideas” campaign and Cal Ripkin Jr. urging its 2013 graduates to keep a positive attitude have me wondering if the waiter at the local Applebee’s was really a computer sciences major in disguise and who was unable to find related part-time off-campus work.  

For what it’s worth, here’s a fearless idea: Provide tax incentives for businesses that revive meaningful apprenticeships for tomorrow’s computing professionals. Instead of paying  those apprentices directly, those businesses would deposit earned compensation directly into an account which automatically pays down a percentage of that apprentice’s student loan debt. Provide meaningful incentives for colleges and universities to give academic credit to those computer sciences apprentices who demonstrate that they have learned new, valuable and related skill sets. No credit for “life skills” learned in the “School of Hard Knocks.” Just for proven business and computing skills learned on the job. Period.

Debt

Your thoughts welcome.

   

Susan Ellsworth

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Teamwork and Leadership are great…and how are they Rewarded?

 Linda Finkle’s newsletter from the Incedo Group is the exception to my general practice of hardly ever reading every newsletter I receive. Her November 8 “Generate the Power” about corporate team-building landed in my inbox just about the same time as a lead from NIMBLE did. In a strange quirk of coincidence, I’ve been in an online discussion about teamwork and leadership.  And recently I’ve been working with two small and delightful Toastmasters teams.

One of Finkle’s key points about corporate team-building is that “teams can’t function well if everyone is the same personality type or of like mind on everything. You need a mix of the right technical skills and the right interpersonal skills for a team to jell and work together successfully. ”  She’s absolutely right. Furthermore, she points out that “”When individuals on a team enjoy working together, corporate team-building is the natural outcome. It isn’t something you have to create. As in all relationships, the members will have little spats, disagreements and challenges, and that’s healthy. They will also most often work through these problems without intervention on the part of management. That’s what makes a strong team.” And she’s right about that, too.

What does that have to do with NIMBLE, the simple, affordable Social Relationship manager? One of NIMBLE’s core values relates directly to working with teams. Last month, an iconic note to partners opened with the sentence “Nimble is a lot more fun and productive when you invite more team members to nurture and grow business relationships as a team. ”  There is a congenial shared LinkedIn Nimble Partners group to which even the founders of Nimble contribute answers to questions posed by partners.

My favorite global life-time learning organization Toastmasters International encourages teamwork by promoting annual change of local leadership roles. A lively official LinkedIn Toastmasters Members group with 28,500 politely discusses virtually every aspect of our organization and its programming. That includes building teams.

Yet in the paid day-job world, how is teamwork rewarded? When is the last time you and your team evaluated yourselves *as a team* ? To what extent is your compensation based on how effectively your team works together? Rather scary, wouldn’t you say? The simple truth is most of us succeed at doing those things for which we are rewarded, and it makes sense to reward teams that work well together.  That’s my thought for the day and I’m sticking with it.

Cheers!

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Beating the Social Media Bafflegab

Susan EllsworthI receive newsletters from a wide variety of organizations touting themselves as experts in social media. The ones I generally delete without reading include a title phrase like must read.  Recently, I received one that included in its preview text a suggestion that the organization producing the article completely understood a social media concept that I had never seen before (and have not seen anywhere since.) Furthermore, the teaser text suggested that what they were publishing was part of “best practices.”

Intrigued, I clicked to download the article. There was nothing new I had not seen before. Furthermore, it had been published back in 2009.  Really? Yes, really.

It’s time to look at criteria for credibility in social media.

Does the source cite actual statistical studies of its claims conducted by a completely independent source? Where is the online “Consumer Reports” aggregator of statistical studies reports in social media? A recent Google search for such a service came up pretty dry in that regard. If there actually are statistical studies included, who is the audience for whom the study was written? To put it differently, can you understand what is being said? Or are you looking at a lot of bafflegab intersperced with code words recently invented by (and defined by) the source?

While checking research is a daunting task, you can beat at least some of the bafflegab. There actually are some dictionaries and glossaries of social media terms. Here are some.

A-Z of social media. http://socialmedia.wikispaces.com/A-Z+of+social+media

Hubspot. http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/6126/The-Ultimate-Glossary-120-Social-Media-Marketing-Terms-Explained.aspx

Pam Dyer. “Social Media from A to Z: A Glossary”

Socialbrite. Social media glossary 

…and there are others that Google will serve up for you every day of the week. You can beat at least some of the bafflegab. Go for it!

Susan Ellsworth

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Spokeo gets an “Unlike”

Susan EllsworthA while back, a very good friend said
“Just because some website could be built doesn’t mean it should. TAKE NOTE: There is a site called spokeo.com that is a new online USA phone book w/ personal information: everything from pics you’ve posted on Facebook or web (depending on privacy settings), your approx credit score, home value, income, age.

Today most websites declare that they do not release your personal data without asking. Spokeo does just the opposite: It collects data about you from wherever it can find it, compiles it and offers it for sale at $4.95 a month if you sign up for three months or $3.95 a month if you sign up for six months. All without a word to you.

Thumbs Down

Here is how to get your personal data removed from SPOKEO.

Go to http://www.spokeo.com. (DO NOT LOG IN.) That’s for the people who want to sell your data.

Enter your first and last name in the dialog box below the word “spokeo” and above the “Not your grandma’s phone book” tagline. Click the green Search button.

A map of the United States will appear. To the left of the map, you will see a list of States in which people with your name appears.

Click on the appropriate State. (There may be several people with your name in your State.)

A list of cities and/or towns will appear. Click on the appropriate jurisdiction.

A listing showing your sex, approximate age, abbreviated home phone number, abbreviated eMail address, abbreviated current street address, city and State, a clickable list of family members, and a list of Marital Status, Occupation and Education with the clickable notation of “See Available Results” comes up.

Below that is a map showing the history of places you have lived. Further down is a map showing homes in your neighborhood and presumably their estimated worth.

Once you are confident that you are the person Spokeo has listed, look slightly above the website itself. You will see the website URL where your information is referred to. For example:
http://www.spokeo.com/search?q=Smith%20Sample#Sample:12345678”

Capture the whole URL of your profile.
Go to http://www.spokeo.com/privacy

The PRIVACY page will come up. Scroll down.

Copy and paste the URL of your profile in the first dialog box.
Enter your eMail address in the second dialog box.
Enter the  captcha letters you see into the third dialog box.

Click REMOVE THIS LISTING.
You should receive an eMail from Spokeo to confirm that you want to have your listing removed.
To complete the removal process, click on the new URL (included in the eMail to you) or paste it into your browser.

Press [return] and you are done….but only if Spokeo had only one listing for you. If  Spokeo had more than one listing for you, you will have to repeat this process for each listing Spokeo has for you. Happy de-listing!

Get out of Spokeo

Susan Ellsworth

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Where are YOUR Red Barons?


The late Charles M. Schultz’s PEANUTS characters went viral with an audience of 355 million in 75 countries before he ever passed away over twelve years ago. Yet one of his characters—his version of the Red Baron—never showed up in person. Instead, Snoopy—the beloved beagle who fantisized himself as a World War I ace flying his  Sopwith Camel (actually his doghouse)—would curse his invisible enemy as his plane went down in flames.

Lately, I have been thinking about the Red Barons in my life, and what I have learned to do to outmanuever them.  The Red Barons in my corporate life include the government agencies that periodically send us notices of pending contracts that in less than 24 hours are corrected, withdrawn or updated.  We know those are wired for someone else, and we will never get our arms around the government system that requires an agency to solicit openly for business but that quietly has already decided upon a vendor it wants.  Curse you, Red Baron! Then there are software manufacturers that put the business buck so far ahead of service to customers that those customers become former customers.  Curse you, Red Baron! Is there any way for a Sopwith Camel to emerge victorious?
Curse You Red Baron

There is.

I am reminded of the recent story told by Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group and companies such as Virgin Atlantic, Virgin America and others.  In his May 29 piece on Office Ties and the Company Dress Code , Branson talked about the almost identical school ties worn by a group of erstwhile orderly kids. About half the kids had ties so short that only a few inches hung below the knot. Evidently the kids hated wearing the school-mandated ties. When they realized that the rules did not specify how long the ties had to be, SNIP! and the ties were cut short. Rather than cursing their Red Baron, they found and took advantage of their his vulnerable point.  I love that ingenuity and determination not to be shot down.  These kids really became Joe Cool.
Snoopy as Joe Cool

Where are the Red Barons in your life? Lack of organizational support for a change in marketing? A change in your business model? Fear of revealing a deep secret you have held onto for ever and ever? What would happen if you realized that “the rules” might be equally shot down by a lack of some sort or another?

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In the Meantime, and Thanks to Friends, I’m Back

 Many thanks to the help of several Toastmasters friends and to the encouragement of Nimble folks, I’m back from four chemo treatments for breast cancer.  Radiology will be next. I will always be grateful to my Toastmasters friends who took me to and from the chemo treatments which made me quite sleepy and unable to drive. 

Back in November, I swore I would not wear a pink ribbon.  I swore that I would not wear a skull cap, a baggy beanie, a turban or a do-rag to hide what I knew would soon be my completely bald head.  I did indulge my love for hats. As you see in my picture, I also  got a pixie cut,  so that I had a little more control over how much hair would fall out and when.  But I did cheat on the pink thing.  My hand-made Christmas cards featured a pair of pink boots.  However, I’m still not wearing a skull cap, a baggie beanie, a turban or a do-rag.  Those are just not me.

In the meantime, Nimble—our Social CRM—has  blossomed into Nimble Personal and Nimble Business.   Pricing for both Nimble Personal and for Nimble Business were announced.  Orders for Nimble are rolling in from people  like you who know that their customers—and future customers—are already on FaceBook, LinkedIn and Twitter. And they want to see them all—and connect with them all—in one place.  So they are signing up for Nimble.   It’s your turn. Nimble Personal—which will always be free—is available here.  Nimble Business—at an extremely competitive price for small to medium businesses  is here.  What’s more, What’s New with Nimble is right here.

Cheers, all!

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We are Moving on…a new Look and Feel

Effective now, you will find this blog at http://blog.pequodsystems.com. We believe this change will make us easier to find. We also decided to give ourselves a new look.  We also changed so that our friends using mobile devices such as an iPad can read this blog while you are on the road. Over the next month or so, you will also see some changes at our website.   Our vision, values and mission will remain the same. Our products and services are evolving. We are still enthusiastic Nimble partners.  As always, you will find us on FaceBook, in LinkedIn, Twitter and even in Google+ .

THIS AND THAT

Word for the Day: (An oldie but goodie) Mashup.
Music,  Slang . a recording that combines vocal and instrumental tracks from two or more recordings. a piece of recorded or live music in which a producer or DJ blends together two or more tracks, often of contrasting genres .
…a hybrid website that collates and displays information taken from various other online sources …

Not to be confused with enabling Nimble to talk with your Google Apps. 
Cheers!

//
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Google’s Rel = Author…where is the Return On Investment?

Susan Ellsworth

For anyone other than a professional webmaster, Google’s current “Rel=Author” implementation in G+ profiles for increasing trustworthy content has a long way to go before those of us in small business will find it easy to implement. And I am wondering exactly where is the return on investment for the time and sweat it now takes to make it work reliably.

Setting up a Google+ account is actually quite straightforward. So is pointing the G+ profile directly to my website and to the URL for this blog. Pointing this blog in the direction of my G+ profile, however, was not so much. The introductory  Matt Cutts/Othar Hansson video on authorship did not match my thee-hour effort to discover the appropriate way to point this blog in the direction of my G+ profile. Google’s online helpdesk documentation specific to WordPress, the Content Management System for this blog, told me why the video had tripped ever so lightly over commenting on its implementation by saying that the implementation is still “in the early days.” Make that “still in Beta.”

At the end of the day, I found myself ponding on two questions. First, where is the return on investment for small business website owners to spend time and effort in this way? If I don’t go through all this effort, will searches on terms on my website suddenly go into the toilet insofar as Google is concerned?

Second, I thought about the matter of trustworthiness as a whole. Frankly, in business dealings, I trust people more than I worry about website rankings. I thought about Jon Ferrera, the Nimble CEO. I have not met him in person, and yet I trust him as a person. Why is that? I have spent time on the phone with him and with his staff. What they say is what they do. My business partner knew him in his early GoldMine days, and I have watched as GoldMine partner after partner has come on board—including some who originally had hooted down the idea of integrating GoldMine with social networking, let alone turning it into a Social Business Platform. Jon has over 20 years of experience in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Sales Force Automation (SFA). An entrepreneur at heart, Jon founded GoldMine CRM in 1989 with a college friend and turned it into a very successful venture that he eventually sold to FrontRange. In 2009, Jon founded Nimble LLC, and by February 2010, we were on board. We’re not looking back any time soon. See us at our Nimble site.
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