When I think of my Gramma Rader, the first thing that comes to mind are her open arms, kind smile and that mischievous twinkle she so often had in her eye. She always had a huge hug for her grandkids and a way with words that always made you feel like you were the thing she loved most in the world.
In all the years we had together, I don’t remember any cross words, furrowed brows or I-told-you-so’s. It’s possible that she was the nicest woman I’ve known. I count myself lucky that she was my Gramma. Growing up, we never lived that far away from Gramma and Grampa. That meant lunches at their place instead of going home or eating at school, Gramma teaching me how to play solitaire and other card games and countless family outings in and around Cranbrook.
There are so many little stories I could share, and yet what I cherish most about each of them aren’t the details of what happened or who was there, but how Gramma always made me feel warm and special and loved in only the way that she could. And not only as a kid, even in our recent visits, a hug from Gramma somehow always felt just a bit more special than all the other hugs – like she put more into her hugs than the rest of us do.
I miss them already.
I run a good sized team for a good size company and we solve good size problems for our customers. One of the problems I’m current trying to solve relates to how we help our customers help themselves. Our customer service is world class (that’s not hyperbole, our NPS scores are regularly 70+) and built on the backs of real people talking to customers and walking them through whatever issue our customer has. I’ve been thinking lately that we can do better with how we organize and present product documentation to our customers. You know, how-to’s, FAQs – basic knowledge base stuff.
First off, I think there’s a real opportunity for an earnest startup to solve some big problems in this corner of the market. There are two types of solutions that I’ve found – really big, stupid and expensive enterprise packages that do everything poorly with a price tag to match and really crappy low-end solutions that don’t do much of anything well. Its really hard finding something in the middle – there is no real contender for the crown of “Knowledgebase 2.0” it seems.
Once a week or so, I set aside an hour or two to investigate solutions and explore the problem further. The issue is important enough to me so I continue to put time into my calendar to devote to it. During my most recent research session yesterday, I was quite excited when I discovered a really nice package that seemed to solve a lot of the issues I wanted to address. The website had lots of customer case studies and all sorts of good sales information that really helped me think that it might be “The One”. I was a bit annoyed that they didn’t publish a price list and I was willing to overlook that at first. The more I poked around their website, the more interested I got.
One problem though – they don’t offer a free trial and in order to get a demo or pricing, I needed to fill out a form. I resisted as long as I could and ultimately filled in the form, hoping that they were just collecting demographic data and that I’d be automatically enrolled with a demo account.
No such luck.
Immediately I received an email from them indicating that a sales person would be in touch to set up an appointment for a teleconference & demo. I replied simply, “I prefer email.” 15 minutes later, I received another email from a different salesperson with a few options for times for a phone call. I skimmed the message, realizing that if they couldn’t acknowledge that I preferred a different means of interaction, that I probably wouldn’t have a great relationship with them in the long term. I deleted the note and went back to Google to resume my search for the perfect knowledge base management tool.
I don’t think I’m unique in this respect. The amount of time that I can devote to finding new tools and evaluating whether or not they fit our business is limited. When I come to your website, I’m coming to use your application and looking for a glimmer of hope that it can solve my problem. If it looks like there’s a fit, that’s when I want to talk more with you – that’s when I want to make the appointment for the phone call – not before. Give me your pricing up front, give me a demo up front, and if you can’t or won’t, don’t expect that I’ll be using your software anytime soon.
PRISM is everywhere this week. In retrospect, I’m wondering if Google was trying to warn us about it in some small way with this message in its Chrome browser shown every time you use “Incognito Mode”, Google’s version of “private browsing”.
When I first saw it a few years ago, I thought it was a really useful explanation of what the privacy risks were for anyone using it, and when I saw the reference to “Secret Agents”, I always chalked it up to some engineer trying being funny or cute.
Now I’m not so sure.
Was Google trying to subtly tell us that Secret Agents really were watching all of our private browsing? That the NSA has access to our browser data in “private mode” as well?
I need to confess something.
I buy lottery tickets.
Not all that often mind you. Maybe once or twice a year, and only when the timing is just right. Usually I’m in the express line at the local grocery store and I’ve only got a few dollars worth of items in hand.
Tonight it was a head of lettuce and some apples.
And only if the jackpot is big. I figure if I’m going to play against the odds, I may as well play against the worst odds possible.
I always play a $20 quick pick and get the Encore.
And, I always, always pay using my credit card.
For me, I’m buying more than a few days of dreams when I buy my lottery ticket. I’m also buying a ticket to cash in on one heckuva story – borrowing $21 from the credit card company and parlaying that into $50 million lottery win is great punchline to the story about “the time I won the lottery”.
Now I just need to win
Semi-startup Dropbox acquired pre-launch startup Mailbox today.
This shows that some seriously wicked strategy smarts are in high-gear over at Dropbox HQ.
I’ve long thought that Dropbox’s biggest competitor isn’t the other players in the cloud storage racket. Dropbox isn’t a storage company, it’s a sharing company. Dropbox is in it to win against every other company that tries to make a buck off of people sharing content over the Internet.
That means companies like Facebook/Instagram, Microsoft, Google, Apple. The really big guys.
It also means that Dropbox competes with other *tools* that make it easy for people to share stuff over the Internet.
Tools like…oh say… Email.
I would wager that more stuff gets shared everyday via email attachments than gets shared on Facebook, Twitter and Dropbox combined.
By bringing email into the corporate fold via this acquisition, Dropbox is going to get a front-row seat to a massive education on what it will take to steal the marketing for sharing stuff away from Google, Microsoft and Facebook.
And its gonna be so much fun to watch it happen.
I’m taking an online course and I’m learning quite a few things that aren’t contained in the syllabus.
- I find it hard to focus longer than 10-12 minutes at a stretch when I’m using the computer. I regularly catch myself reaching for for “alt-tab”. Alt-tab to what is an interesting question. I’ve conditioned myself to switch to another window – email, twitter, Facebook, whatever, on a regular basis just to check out what is going on, even if there aren’t any alerts telling me something is going on. I’m seeing some success closing all unnecessary applications. It seems that my lizard brain knows when there’s nothing to switch to and I’m not tempted to check as often. I can’t claim 100% success yet. Instead of continuing with the next lecture, I’m writing blog post instead. Sigh.
- I need to really work on my reading. At a young age I developed a bad habit of “speed reading” absolutely everything. Rather than reading a page word by word, I look at the page in its entirety and form a picture of what the page is trying to convey. If any of the concepts are unclear, I form a picture of what is going on in a specific area of the page surrounding the concept. This is great when I’m reading large volumes of text and really bad when I’m taking a quiz. I have a tendency to assume what something says and not fully confirming that this is exactly what the text says. While I’m perfectly capable of reading a paragraph word by word, I tend to default to speed-reading mode which leads to mistakes on quizzes because I’ve answered the wrong question.
“To my mind an overleveraged unsecured mortgage is exactly the same thing as a pirated music file. It’s somebody’s value that’s been copied many times to give benefit to some distant party. In the case of the music files, it’s to the benefit of an advertising spy like Google [which monetizes your search history], and in the case of the mortgage, it’s to the benefit of a fund manager somewhere. But in both cases all the risk and the cost is radiated out toward ordinary people and the middle classes—and even worse, the overall economy has shrunk in order to make a few people more.”
- Jaron Lanier on the failure of Web 2.0,
“What Turned Jaron Lanier Against the Web?“, Smithsonian Magazine
Worth a read for an interesting view of who bears the risk and who reaps the rewards on today’s Internet.
Its been 10 years since I had my last cigarette.
That’s a pretty good start.
For some background on my struggle to quit, check out my last post on the subject.
Since then, I’ve ridden my bike across Canada, through Death Valley and set a world record for the fastest crossing of Ontario by bike. We’ve moved twice and our wonderful son Rowan has entered our lives. I’ve lost a lot of weight and gained a lot of perspective (and gained a few more pounds since…).
I think I might even be comfortable calling myself a non-smoker now.
I watched “Looper” tonight.
After, I wonder who the female lead was – Wikipedia says Emily Blunt.
For some reason, I’m reminded of an early 90′s film “Beautiful Creatures“, no…. “Beautiful Things”. No, that’s not right…
Crap, Google comes up empty.
I remember the lead actress was Kate Winslet whose film bio says the movie was actually named “Heavenly Creatures“. Now I’m back on track. The leads were Kate and Melanie Lynskey who also played Gloria in “Coyote Ugly“. Side-trip – Kevin Smith (yah, that one) was an uncredited writer on Coyote Ugly. In fact, most of the writers on Coyote Ugly were uncredited – by choice.
So anyways, Coyote Ugly starred Piper Perabo who, get this – plays Joe Simmons paramour in Looper.
Update; And to complete the fluke, I thought I’d follow Looper up with “The Dark Knight Rises“. Sheesh, will it ever end? I swear, this is all by happenstance… I’m not nearly steeped in pop culture enough to organize any of this.
This blog gets a lot of traffic referred from Google Searches. Google is cool enough to share those searches and WordPress is cool enough to report on them. Here is a list of the top 15 most common terms that people search on before clicking through on a link that brings them to byte.org from Google.
I offer them with no explanation, because frankly, some of them don’t make a lot of sense
- layne staley
- ross rader
- filez and warez
- this is bullshit
- 10 point timeline
- twitter 4
- i don’t like twitter
- i really like twitter
- jim grey cira
- sopa greed
- customer service face to face
- microsoft clippy
- did pornhub get shutdown?
- gates vs jobs