Guy Kawasaki Pop-Up Webinar

Written by Vance Fitzgerald. Posted in Misfit Toys, Tech

Guy Kawasaki spoke for an hour plus last night in what appeared to be a ‘pop-up’ webinar – one that he announced and participated in with little warning.  Don’t try this at home though, Guy has about 400k followers on twitter.  Luckily I am a night crawler and caught wind of it on Google Plus.  He shared his slide deck which can be found here:  The presentation was informative and insightful for sure.  In addition to the presentation, the interview and Q&A were fantastic.  He shared his desktop, and his workflow was enchanting too, mainly because it let those listening see him as being ‘real.’    He exposed some of the same issues that the rest of us face – and that’s something you don’t picture without peaking behind the scenes of one of the world’s most prolific icons.  He noted that on Google Plus – all of his posts are his own, and that he attempts to insert a picture or video for each post.  Clearly that isn’t the case for his Twitter feed that is like drinking from the fire hose.  He has help there and uses automation as well.  He uses SNAPZ on a MAC for his images, which looks similar to what I use – SNAGIT.  He captures all of his enchanting content through Stumble-Upon and through his Alltop website, by aggregating sources that have proven to be of consistent interest daily.  He now posts to Google Plus and to Twitter at the same time from his G+ interface.  Overall – he was quite a likable guy.

Your Credit Score of the Future May not be a Black Box – but it might as well be Part I

Written by Vance Fitzgerald. Posted in Tech

Remember the good ole days, when your credit score was ultra simple.  All you really had to do was pay your bills, and pay them on time.   If you selectively closed out dormant accounts, limited your credit-card applications, and kept low balances, you had it made.  Your part was so simple that at some point you and everyone else collectively stopped raging against the Big 3 credit keeper machine of EquifaxExperian, and Transunion.  You accepted that their magic formulas in their distinct black boxes were sound and fair.  Back then it was simple.  But that was back then. This is now. Enter a host of ‘credit’ raters – including the usual suspects of Google, Facebook, & Microsoft Bing that will ultimately consolidate some of the young upstarts that have pushed the ever evolving envelope on these ‘credit’ concepts thus far.  But regardless of who will be judging you – and it will be more than 3, be clear that you are already being assessed.  Klout has quickly become a name that many Twitter users know, and TweetLevel is another that is approaching this brave new rating and ranking concept with some creative algorithms.  So creative in fact, that they have declared that their formula (that already requires a skilled mathematician to decipher) will be in ‘constant beta.’  The formula appears to be listed on their site – though it isn’t clear to me yet whether it is the real deal.  But open source is good.  And the new world of credit ratings walks like open source, it talks like open source, so it must be open source – right?  I suppose that the source in this case is technically open if they show the formula, and the last thing I want to do here is to spawn a debate over what constitutes open source.  So let me just say this – it doesn’t really matter.   The underlying data to populate the formula can’t really be sourced by the population at large – at least not without a team of coders and the patience to interact with multiple distinct moving target API’s.  So the source may technically be open, but the black box is still closed.  So now you don’t really know the numbers or the formula. So that takes us back to our roots – maybe we can just roll this up and nicely summarize a game plan to ensure our ‘credit’ ratings remain high. Based on some of the notable factors and my extrapolation of some that will be thrown in the mix – I have decided that you can follow these simple steps: Get a large number of followers.  Do this across every social media upstart outlet and interface.  Throw privacy to the wind.  Now make sure that you use your Solver package of choice to optimize your Follower vs. Following Ratio.  You don’t want to upset the balance there.  Update these followers religiously, especially update them in the thirty days prior to planning on cashing in on any rewards.  Try to get them to put you on a list and get them to follow you too.  Invent profiles, follow yourself.  Pretend, though convincingly if you want to fool the matrix, that you are a source of original, important, enchanting content.  Settle out the number of lists that you follow relative to those that follow you, find your groove.  Don’t be offensive, but be impressive.  Ok, sometimes stir emotion by being just offensive enough.  Don’t roll over and cave in, but don’t be abrasive.  Check-in everywhere you go on Foursquare, Tri-Out, Facebook, Gowalla and Google so that your comments, references, and emotions can be text mined with geographical relevance. Retweet appropriately and use hashtags approriately too.  Engage others.  Be significant in your niche, but diverse in your broadcast audience.  Speak about topics and products that you love quite often.  Trust others to warrant their trust in return.  Be believable.  Be real.  Be timely.  Be everywhere.  Continually refactor and try to guess how critical each of these pieces of advice is – it is subject to change.  Repeat.  Now that you’ve been talking and bantering back and forth all day with your sphere of influence, you have become more valuable to the would-be reward givers. You might also onsider embedding GPS tracking beneath your skin and providing daily dumps in a meta friendly format. Simple enough or a little disturbing and narcissistic? Follow me on Twitter – ha – that makes me laugh.  But do it – just in case. Add me to your list called ‘Influential’ and +1 me on Google and Klout. We could cut out the rewards middle man and you could just Paypal me money directly. Oh wait, that is a middle man. Better use Square. Damn it – its hopeless. Part II will be about the pros and cons of this brave new world, and why privacy is sadly, no longer a luxury you can afford. The matrix will evolve.  Hopefully it will evolve to the point that it doesn’t reward the wrong behavior.

Business Intelligence Requires Business Intelligence

Written by Vance Fitzgerald. Posted in Tech, Tweets

The biggest gains you can make for your business are not going to be uncovered by simply capturing massive amounts of data.  Chances are good that even if you have a small business, you are immersed in data that is sitting and dying a slow death.  You are probably already capturing data that you can’t even scratch the surface of in terms of taking action, primarily because you can’t ‘see’ it.  Assuming you even know how to lay your hands on it at all, chances are its all numbers and text and difficult to wrap your head around.  If you use any modern accounting package, or if you interact with your customers ‘socially’ through Facebook or Twitter, or if you have a website that is a point of real interaction, or even if you have your customers fill out physical surveys at your place of business – kudos to you.  But its what you are doing with that data that matters.  And for most, its what they aren’t doing.  But don’t feel like you are behind the times as a small business owner, the big businesses are equally inept at utilizing data as well…. more to come on how you can get started.

YouTube 5 Star Rating System – Does it Work?

Written by Vance Fitzgerald. Posted in Tech

youtube ratings graph

youtube ratings graph

The official YouTube blog showed a graph of how their 5 star rating system is used.  First off – this should have been a bar chart.  But nevermind that for now.  The dialogue from them around the graph lets me know two things:

1)  Designing surveys is <not> the same as designing codecs. Designing a customer survey is as challenging as designing the technical components of a site like YouTube.  Each task requires an expert.

2) New businesses like YouTube are less afraid to ask customer’s opinions, and less afraid to hear the answers. New businesses (and old ones) just need help knowing how to ask.

I don’t think the data surprises most of us, though they claimed to be fascinated by it. Here is the deal:

Responses to surveys are driven by the way the surveyor utilizes the collected data.

If someone believes they can influence change – they are sometimes motivated to utilize their voice through filling out a survey.   If they believe that they will have no impact by simply sitting the fence in their responses within that survey – then they are likely to go into binary mode – all in or all out.    Perhaps trinary mode if you include indifference.  In a more traditional model where a survey disappears into the abyss of a corporate database, users have learned that any mid-level responses are basically white noise and simply do not generate tangible action or process change.  So true ratings are skewed because respondents don’t offer them up.  Regardless of whether it is a model like this one from Yahoo where the survey is ‘transparent’, or another format, the behavior is similar.  When a Web 2.0 shopper looks for a video on YouTube, or an app for their IPhone… they start at the 5 stars.  Why wouldn’t you start there?  There are plenty of options for items such as videos and apps – so sifting through the 5-Stars alone could take forever.  So those 4-Star apps get much less attention from us, and we know this.  We are talking Gen-A-D-D users.  So if a ‘rater’ is wanting to influence others decisions, then this use of the extreme endpoints is perceived to be the best option, perhaps the only option that they really have to be heard by others.

USB Power 101

Written by Vance Fitzgerald. Posted in Tech

  • Any USB cable (2.0 or 1.0) is composed of four wires—two for data and two for electricity.
  • The power is delivered across the outer two pins—a +5-volt wire and a ground.
  • USB connectors are configured to provide 100 milliamps of current through these pins when in “low-power” mode or 500 milliamps in “high-power” mode.
  • Although some USB connectors will provide maximum power without any questions asked, most won’t unless the USB device requests high power using the proper protocols.
  • Most USB hacks to power other devices aren’t that sophisticated, and are therefore limited to about 100-200 milliamps of current.
WARNING: An improper USB mod that results in a short circuit can fry your USB port or even your motherboard. Make absolutely sure that all wires are spliced correctly and that any exposed copper is covered with electrical tape or heat-shrink tubing.

WordPress vs. Joomla

Written by Vance Fitzgerald. Posted in Tech

WordPress vs. Joomla … I have screwed with Joomla for about a decade now, and tinkered with WordPress sporadically over that same timeframe. I thought that one would absorb enough of the other’s functionality and eventually trump the other at some point, but both continue to endure. This post represents my first look back at WordPress in quite some time – and there is little question why it has thrived. It is dirt simple and very intuitive. I always felt like Joomla had more upside and creative custom modules and plug-ins, but I am not convinced anymore. One thing that I like immediately after looking through WP quickly – is the ease of access to the css and other files from the admin area. Joomla followers know that the same access is available in the Joomla admin area too – but the WordPress work flow for a poder (coder poser) is more intuitive. I really just needed a topic for this first post – so the jury is still out on which way I may sway tomorrow. I love Joomla, and I suspect that I will find that there is clear reason for the existence of each. If I just wanted to blog though – there is little question that I would stick with WordPress.
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