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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Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Susan Ellsworth

Susan Ellsworth

October —and it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Years ago, who would have thought that awareness of breast cancer would have turned into such a large business? Yet there is a site for which it is possible to buy almost anything “breast cancer.” Pink ribbons, tee shirts and pink clothing of all kinds everywhere. Breast Cancer Awareness events on every public calendar.

As a breast cancer survivor going into my third year of survivorship, I am deeply grateful to a good friend who reminded me that I am pretty good at Internet searching, and that I could certainly research breast cancer treatment centers offering minimally invasive surgery. I am grateful to the friends and family who drove me to my chemo appointments, and who bought me fancy hats I might not ever have bought for myself.  I will be eternally grateful to my husband, who diligently and patiently called the on-call doctor in the middle of the night of the first month of chemo, when I was incredibly sick to my stomach and in terrible pain. And who put up with my food rebellions when I refused to eat so much as a teaspoon of yogurt a day. I am grateful to my surgeon, who educated me and gave me options. I am grateful to the breast cancer treatment team at the Sullivan Breast Center and to a marvelous group at the Holy Cross Radiation Treatment Center.

Here’s what I don’t understand. It’s the pink marketing aimed exclusively at women.
While there are far fewer men than women who get breast cancer, the survivorship rate for men is far less than it is for women. Research has shown that significant numbers of men taking post-treatment tamoxifen stop taking it because of its unpleasant side effects. Where are the options, support, education and specialists for men with breast cancer? Where are the day-long events and Races for the Cure with traffic-stopping crowds of men to raise awareness of breast cancer for men?

It’s time for a blue ribbon campaign.

blue_ribbon.jpb

Susan Ellsworth

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Susan in the Tub/ DUB-DUB-DUB

Susan Ellsworth

Susan Ellsworth

SUSAN IN THE TUB

Recently I have been under a lot of stress. My good friend and quintessential practical networker Ramona, seeing that I was definitely in need of a therapeutic experience, invited me to join her and another friend to visit West Virginia’s Berkeley Springs spa. Never having visited any spa—and pretty well burned out—I agreed to the adventure. Soaking for 30 minutes in a huge ceramic tub of minueral water heated to 102 degrees  was a delightful experience I will never forget. I’m hooked on the experience. I recommend the experience. I’ll be back.

Bathhouse

                                                            DUB-DUB-DUB

(Now Optional)

A while back, my Toastmaster friend from California George—a webmaster by profession—pointed out that for anyone to visit my website, the infamous “WWW” (aka “dub-dub-dub”) had to precede PEQUODSYSTEMS.  All that has now been changed, and you can now get to our website by simply entering PEQUODSYSTEMS.COM in your browser.

Thanks, George! Much appreciated! 

 

 

Susan Ellsworth

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Volunteer to Apprentice to “Real Work?”

Susan Ellsworth

Susan Ellsworth

What is a good definition of “real work?” Evidently it’s not quite as easy to define as some would think—especially in a large international organization whose very existence depends upon the coordinated efforts of the hundreds of thousands of members who pay to belong to it and deliver leadership and communications skills training. Some members even contribute time and skills learned elsewhere to expand upon and deliver improved technical services provided by the organization’s paid employees. That organization is Toastmasters International, and the issue was brought up by a Past International Director’s FaceBook post which said, “Fellow Toastmasters: PLEASE do not list your volunteer work at Toastmasters under “employment”. You’re not an employee, you’re a volunteer. And there’s no need to helpfully suggest that I should also list myself as an employee — even as a (past) International Director, one is still not an employee. That’s for just the people who get paid at WHQ.” That post was quickly followed by “And yet, what are we to make of the new district leader titles that are coming out next year? District Director, Division Director, Area Director, Finance Manager, etc. I believe they are intended to make Toastmasters experience, when it appears on a resume, more directly translatable into equivalent business or nonprofit titles. I might quibble with whether an Area Director is in any way equivalent to a corporate Director position. But, it seems clear that Toastmasters wants to be on our resumes in the professional experience section.” Then there was this insight: ” Many of us forget that directing a district, overseeing a budget, and supervising volunteer staff is like running a Department for an organization. We need to think of our service as a learning opportunity. When I was District Governor, I said it prepared me for my current position as Executive Director for a small Chamber of Commerce.” Several years ago, I myself ported technical skills I learned in a Toastmasters setting to paid professional work. Along the way, however, I also took formal technical skills training, passed exams and obtained a widely-recognized professional certification. I am not the only member to have  ported skills learned in “real jobs” into our volunteer organization. And I am not the only member to have ported skills learned in a volunteer organization into a paid position. Potential employer or potential employee…learning experiences are learning experiences. Skills are skills. They are completely independent of how much one earned—or did not earn—for applying them in a setting where those skills are valued. It’s all about how the knowledge, skills and abilities are talked about when they are ported from one environment to the other.     Susan Ellsworth         https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pequod-Systems/46475331027

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Your Profession: Does your Volunteer Experience Really Matter?

Susan Ellsworth

Susan Ellsworth

Recently Dan Rex, the CEO of Toastmasters International, announced that the TI Board of Directors had decided to institute new District officer titles that, among other reasons, would “Create a parallel between district leadership and leadership in the corporate and volunteer sectors.” Basically, the idea is to help volunteers easily explain to current and potential employers what knowledge, skills and abilities they were likely to have acquired by participating in these roles.

All very nice and mostly window-dressing, insofar as many members have thought.

The real question is, does your volunteer experience actually prepare you for paid work? Does your volunteer experience really matter?

Recently, I sat down with George Marshall, whose online Toastmaster Tools are used by members around the globe. I asked him that very question, and here is what he said.

During my year as Toastmasters Area Governor, I became very interested in the big differences in club quality, and as I gathered data about each of my clubs to try to help them, I realized that the information I wanted was sometimes hard to gather in useful form. I learned a lot that year about downloading the reports and doing my own analysis in spreadsheets.

After a while, I decided to automate the more time-consuming tasks. I started working on what eventually became the Tools for Toastmasters website, summarizing some of the reports in real-time. After a year or so, I realized that the data would be more useful if it were in a database, which I knew nothing about. But I sat out to learn how, and with the help of mentors, within a year or so, the core of today’s site was in place, with built-in summaries and analysis of several types of Toastmaster data.

I have learned a lot about databases with this project, some of which I have been able to apply to our business. [Freemont Web Solutions].

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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Figuring Technical Stuff Out..Part 2

Before I joined Pequod Systems, I worked as a contractor for on several different contracts. Inevitably, some situation would arise in which I had to use a customer’s fax machine. (Remember those?) More often than not,  access to those fax machines was ruled by a Queen Bee who had programmed specific codes into the machine so that only faxes from her boss could be sent to specific recipients, whose fax numbers were also hard-wired into the fax machines. Only by talking to a more experienced fellow contractor (who might or might not be present when one needed to send a fax) could one discover the one remaining set of magical codes with which one could send a weekly status report to one’s offsite project manager. I began to hate faxing and loathe the Queen Bees. Today I am grateful for the pending total demise of fax as the Queen Bees managed it. 

Fast forward to a recent blog by my friend Ann Bevans. She says that “in programming (and I would argue, in any job), you can’t know everything you may one day have to know.  You have to be able to figure it out on the fly.” She goes on to say that My first year in business, some of my former colleagues had spun off from that company and asked me if I could build a system like that for them.
I said “YES!”
Then I went to Barnes and Noble and bought a book called Data-Driven Websites or something like that.
When you have the ability to figure shit out, you can do that and get away with it.
You’re not a fraud.

I have many friends who are entrepreneurs of all stripes, and they ALL say the same thing.
When somebody asks if you can do a thing, you say “Yes!” And then you go figure it out.
These days, the interwebs being what they are, it’s a lot easier to figure stuff out on the fly. Use that.”  

We have a wide range of customers. Some of them are like the end user who, at the age of 50 and with no training whatsoever, was suddenly placed in front of a modern computer for the first time. Others are application programmers with a lot of courage and confidence—and thankfully, enough sense to know when not to go voyaging so far into computer systems that they get into trouble they can’t get out of. In each case, we look for ways to help folks figure things out. We act on the value that one size does not fit all. We educate you and learn from you. There are no Queen Bees at Pequod Systems. And no old-fashioned fax machines.
No_ Fax_MachineContact us for respectful and personalized technical support. And to tell us if we are really educating you—and learning from you at the same time.

Susan Ellsworth

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A word from a Hero

Jon Ferrara, the CEO of Nimble, may not know that he is one of my corporate heroes.  (Hi, Jon!)

This morning Jon sent out the message that Nimble partners have been waiting to see.  Here is what Jon said.
=====================
As we approach the one-year anniversary of releasing our Nimble beta, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for supporting our company. I am humbled that more than 15,000 users have signed up over the last nine months with thousands spending almost four hours a day managing their social relationships and growing their businesses with Nimble. I knew it was going to be an enormous challenge when we set out to create a new paradigm for CRM in 2010. We wanted to enable businesses to manage Relationships & Social Engagement in a simple and elegant way. I am excited to tell you that we are weeks away from being “core vision complete” and will be releasing a major new version of Nimble in January 2012 that we are testing with select users today.
As you know, Nimble has been free during our testing phase. We wanted to wait until Nimble was something worth paying for…something truely helpful in growing a business. I am proud to say that Nimble is now ready to help you Turn Your Social Communities into Customers for Life. With our upcoming new product launch this January, we will start charging for Nimble. A free single-user version of Nimble for basic Social Relationship Management will still be available. For business users who utilize Nimble as a team and need more professional functionality, we will be charging $15 per user per month. As a special thank you to everyone who has been a Nimble user prior to enacting this change, I would like to extend a 90-day free period on their Business accounts applicable once we intiate charging. More details on pricing here.

It would be wonderful if we could offer Nimble for free for everyone forever; however, I know you can understand that to continue to grow and meet the needs of our users, and to continue providing super cool new technologies, it is necessary to monetize our platform. Speaking of super cool new technology, please join me for a webinar this week to see the new Nimble features planned for our January 2012 release.

===

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pequod-Systems/46475331027http://partners.nimble.com/pequodsystems/

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Jon Ferrara

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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Squish those BUGS!

I hate bugs. I especially despise stink bugs. They stink if you squish them. They fly into my Honda and crawl up the inside of my windshield just as I am sitting in rush hour traffic. They land in my lemonade.There seems to have been very little federal effort to control them or get them out of our lives. Evidently they do not do enough damage to crops and animals to warrant serious investment in their control.
On the other hand, there are software bugs—the kind that show up when you aren’t looking and irritate you just when you are on a deadline and muttering four-letter words under your breath. The team at Nimble has been squishing software bugs, much to my delight.

The bug-squish report in the latest Nimble Partner Newletter was a delight to read.  Several Nimble bugs that had crept into the earlier beta versions and evidently not quite put under control have now been squished. All this activity is thanks to an active Nimble communitysubmitting support tickets and some hard-working programmers. The open Nimble community conversation with beta testers, current users and Nimble staff keeps everyone aware of what changes are needed and why. Recent squished bugs related to Twitter, the Auto-Suggestion Box , the Activities Tab and the Deals tab. I am glad to be part of that community.

Good News
You can Add Users to your Nimble account. Here are the Directions.
Better News

Now you can register for Nimble directly at our Nimble partner website.
Best News
The single user version is free and will remain free. The multi-user version is currently free but in the near future, the cost will be about $10/user/month in a team account.  Join the community dedicated to and enjoying the benefits of the bug-squishers now bringing more new features and benefits to Nimble.
Got good news? Comment here by replying to this blog.
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