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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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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Of Teeth and Technology

Susan EllsworthSeveral years ago, I was visiting family members in Pittsburgh. One evening, my upper left jaw began to bother me–seriously. I took an over-the-counter pain killer and thought no more about it. But by the next morning, I was in horrible pain.

The trip home was a nightmare. At the time, I did not have a regular dentist, and had not seen one for many years. I arrived home late in the afternoon. As luck would have it, an ad for a dentist was in the stack of mail that had accumulated while I was out of town. I called the number on the ad. It was a wrong number. In desperation, I called the emergency number for a different dentist listed in the phone book and got an appointment for the next morning. Long story short, I lost a molar because I had not paid attention to my teeth. Not long thereafter, I went through more expensive dental surgery. Lesson learned: Take care of my teeth!

Recently, two different customers we had not heard from in over a year called us in a panic. Each had a serious problem with a server. One of them had not backed up user data in over a year and a half. Both of them had tuned out our repeated generous offers of remote monitoring of their systems. In each case, monitoring of systems had been sporadic and questionable at best.  In one case, the business owner had been raised on the philosophy that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” He had applied that philosophy to the systems he had invested in and was ultimately responsible for. So now he had a downed server, which translated to downtime for himself and his staff.  Ultimately, he ended up purchasing a new server and new workstations. All of which could have been a lot less painful for everyone had he had regular checkups through regular remote monitoring of his systems.

Watching 24 x 7 x 365

All of which, good friends, is why your teeth are like your technology: ignore them and they will go away.

Cheers, all!

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Who Really Needs Training? Part 3 of 3

Susan EllsworthSeveral years ago, I was on a Federal technical services contract which was managed on the Federal side by someone whose professional expertise appeared to be in an arena  outside of high technology.  Many of us on the contractor side had great difficulty in communicating why certain technical solutions were necessary to implement. The problem? We were using “Geek Speak” and had become so accustomed to using it among ourselves that we did not even realize that not everyone knows Geek Speak.

Fortunately, one of the techs on the contract realized quickly what the problem was and privately explained it to us. By general agreement, he became the translator—and often the spokesperson—for the group when we met with our customer. He often used ordinary, non-computer language and stories to illustrate quite nicely the issues we were working on.

One takeaway from that experience became my  favorite explanation of eMail as it moves from your desktop to my desktop. I have often had to explain to others how eMail moves from my computer to someone else’s computer and how eMail actually goes through several computers before arriving at its destination. The analogy I use is  how a letter or package moves from my hands to a post office or other vendor, where it is sorted and shipped to yet another facility which optionally put on an airplane. It is off-loaded from the plane, transferred to a truck and moved to another facility. Finally, a delivery person brings the letter or package to you. Or you pick it up at a local delivery point. These are events that many of us have seen, and the analogy works quite nicely, with no Geek Speak on my part.

So who really needs training? We do. Even today, with many different ways we communicate with each other and using many different devices, we will be far more effective when communicating with top management when we listen to ourselves and recognize the price that speaking only Geek Speak exacts.

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Who Really Needs Training? Part 2 of 3

Susan EllsworthThe last blog talked about how Technical Services providers (yes, that’s me) need to speak three different languages: Geek Speak, End-User Speak and CEO Speak. The new End-User Speak is a wonderful blend of newly-learned Geek Speak words and phrases—and its own grammars.

It’s not just that words like gravatar,  favicon,  widget, tagging, geotagging, traffic (as it describes numbers of site visitors) , badge (as an electronic image), widget,  plugins, and tagging (clicking on a picture) have crept into the language.  Use the chat feature in FaceBook, and soon you too will be saying “BFN” rather than “goodbye for now.” Direct a comment to someone in LinkedIn, and chances are good that you will use the famous Twitter “@” symbol.Or even the famous #hashtag.

Confusion

I can just see my arms-waving Toastmasters friends jumping up and down and yelling “That’s JARGON! They need Toastmasters!” Maybe…maybe not. I think it’s simply an opportunity to learn another language. The good news is that you can learn it simply by hanging with people who use it. Read, listen and soon you too will be using End-User Speak. You might even do what some social networking sites have done: invent your own words. Pingback, for example, was invented by WordPress, and explained to its users in context. Of course, it helps if you understand what a ping is. 

We’ll wrap up this three-part blog with more about CEO Speak.

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Who Really Needs Training? Part I of 3

Susan Ellsworth One of my friends in Toastmasters is a great listener, and consequently a Senior Account Executive of New Horizons Computer Learning Centers in Washington, D.C. Recently, we were talking about one of our shared favorite topics, training in the computer field. And the cost of not training people to use the tools they are expected to use on the job. Here are some of Vann-Di Galloway’s thoughts.

Training your staff helps to keep them motivated and up-to-date with organizational skills and new technologies.  As fewer employees take on greater responsibilities within the workplace, training helps to increase their productivity.  Staff members benefit from learning new skills and becoming a valued asset within the organization. Training brings direct and immediate benefits and can be calculated as a high return on investment.

Regardless of the size or type of an industry or business, training can have a measurable impact on performance and the bottom line.  Research from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) shows that productivity increases after relevant training takes place. Employees that receive formal training can be 230 per cent more productive than untrained colleagues who are working in the same role. (1)

Businesses must continually change their work practices and infrastructure to stay competitive in a global market. Training staff to manage the implementation of new technologies, work practices and business strategies can also act as a lure for future recruitment.  Since training increases the retention of staff members, significant cost saving are accrued as the loss of one competent person can be the equivalent of one year’s pay and benefits.
===
I could not agree with Vann-Di more. At the same time, I thought about  the training that technical services providers need and the training that CEOs might need.

Technical Services providers (yes, that’s me) need to speak three different languages: Geek Speak, End-User Speak and CEO Speak.

I learned “geek-speak” in technical training classes, both formal and informal. The words seemed straightforward and easy to learn. It was the language my buddies used, so it was comfortable. But Geek Speak is a disaster around most  end users.  I’m somewhat conversant in “end-user” speak. It often starts with “HELP! I can’t…” and when we’re lucky, it ends with “Whew! Thank you!” CEO-speak is the one that still eludes me most of the time, and I’m looking for courseware in how to communicate with the CEO who juggles too many issues, and works too many hours dealing with everything except the technology he or she authorizes payment for . CEO Speak comes in different accents and is generally spoken by people wearing a suit. It seems to echo the language of the Wall Street Journal, and in meetings with Geeks, it struggles to include pieces and parts of Geek Speak.

I can just see my arms-waving Toastmasters friends jumping up and down and yelling “THEY ALL NEED TOASTMASTERS!” Maybe…maybe not. The next blog will look more closely at End-User Speak. We’ll wrap up this three-part blog with more about CEO Speak.

(1) Smith A., 2001, Return on Investment in Training: Research Readings NCVER

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Pequod Systems Posts: the Breast Cancer Series

Thank you for your FaceBook eMail, Garick.

Today’s news is that my last scheduled day of radiology is May 9, 2012.  After that, it will be a matter of a daily pill for the next five years. My radiologist MD says that the further I get away from my chemo experience, the more energy I will get back. We’ll see if I’m up to partying the weekend of May 12-13.

And of course, I will be getting my mammograms regularly and hoping that the breast cancer does not come back. The good news is that I discovered that not every mammogram has to be painful. The one I had at my hospital just prior to my lumpectomy, for example, was a bit uncomfortable but nowhere near as painful as the one I had at the facility my general practitioner had sent me to.  The challenge now is to educate my GP so he will understand that there is no correlation between the amount of pain one feels with a breast smashed between two plates and the quality of the mammogram.

As you know, it has not been easy to travel the road to cure my breast cancer and do what I can to function as the marketing partner of Pequod Systems. Especially with all the great new features and benefits that Nimble has been rolling out at the very time I have mostly not had the energy to talk with prospects intelligently. I mostly have had “chemo brain” as a result of the Taxotere in the chemo brew that I took in November, December and January.  I will have to explain to Richard and Todd that one does not contact a lead when one’s not-so-nimble brain is somewhere south of the border. Believe it or not, there actually are chemo-brain-like  residual effects from the Taxotere that do take time to disappear. I am sure they will understand.

What you don’t know is that I consequently had not paid attention to my workstation. Shortly after I learned that I had breast cancer, my hard drive had very nearly been filled with old files and plain old junk I really did not need. What’s almost worse,  the dust of the ages (not to mention cat fuzz) had penetrated my system and I suspect had been a purveyor of  static. So it was no wonder that every website (and Nimble!) I visited, I not only had the feeling I was slogging through tar, but also that my mouse would regularly stop working. Aargh.  (More about those cats in another note…) As you can imagine, I have been spending significant time moving some useless junk from my hard drive into the ozone, and my workstation has now been re-introduced to a can of air. The upside? I will not be adding more graphics without paying attention to how much disk space I have left.

One other detail…I really have less hair now than my picture shows. As a matter of fact, my managing partner has said I look like I have a military haircut. Yup, that’s the same guy who, in a moment of frustration, said that he was beginning to wonder if breast cancer is “a rite of passage.” He just knows many of the same folks that I do.

In the meantime, thanks for the intro to Google+ Hangouts. FaceBook will have to hustle.

Cheers!

Susan

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“Bring Your Own Computer to Work” Day

Recently Karen Goulart, Features writer for SearchCIO-Midmarket, wrote an interesting article called “Forget flex spending, Millennials want a flexible mobile device policy.” Based in large part on an annual study by Cisco Systems , her article raised some interesting and alarming (to traditional IT managers at least) viewpoints.

Basically, Goulart talked about the Millennial Generation of computer users who bring their own computing devices to work and who are not at all afraid to sidestep a mobile device policy in their quest to use them. First as a helpdesk operator and later as a systems manager, I realized that some years back, such a scenario would have been met with comments like “We did not authorize the use of that device and we do not support it” and “Sorry, it’s not standard within the company…if you have a problem with it, go elsewhere to get technical support.”

That was then. This is now.

Nevertheless, other than IT managers fearing loss of control of hardware they could be expected to support,  there are some potential downsides to bringing your own computer to work.  Some legacy applications may still be  hardware-sensitive and not friendly to your own computing platform.  Also, not every application used by companies today are “in The Cloud, ” where many, if not most Millennials have no clue as to exactly where their apps and/or data exist.  Apps and data in “the Cloud” may in fact not be on a server in the USA. Does it make a difference? Perhaps and perhaps not.  In any case, IT managers who may not be in the Millennial generation do have a lot to think about and communicate with those who bring their own technology to work.

Word for the Day: Fail Whale

While we all know the Fail Whale from Twitter, it appears that there is an interesting history behind the word. Read and enjoy!

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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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