Monday, July 12, 2010

Starting Up Again

Here's what's going on ladies and gents. We're looking at starting this thing up again. We've done a lot of research on what people want to read on a blog. We've been to countless professional sources and "social media gurus" concerning how to structure our content. We've come to one conclusion:

We care a lot more about what you say you want to read.

So let us know! If you comment here by clicking the post title and tell us what you expect to read when you click our blog link, we'll see if we can make it happen.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

iPad First Impressions: Point Counterpoint

The purpose of the majority of new devices is to replace or revolutionize a pre-existing object. I'm still trying to figure out what exactly the iPad is replacing.

Let's look at some of the highlights Apple gives and compare them to what's already out there.

LED Backlit Display: Currently on all Apple Products, including the iPod Touch and iPhone. The iPod sports a 9.7", larger than the iPod Touch and iPhone, smaller than any Apple computer. Nothing new.

Multitouch: Currently on the Macbook Pro track pad, Macbook Air track pad, Apple Magic Mouse, iPod Touch, and iPhone. Also nothing new.

A thin and light computer: Macbook Air, iPod Touch, iPhone. Nothing new.

10 hours of battery life: An improvement! One hour more than the average Apple Product.

Wireless: Available on all Apple computers, the iPod Touch, and the iPhone.

3G Network: Available on the iPhone.

Apps: Available on the iPhone and iPod Touch

Those are all the major design highlights given on Apple's site for the iPad. Notice something very important: the only thing the iPad has that no other Apple product has is a better battery.

Right now the iPad seems to occupy a technology space somewhere between a laptop and an iPhone. That's nice and all, but it's like having an 18" long ruler. It can measure as well as a 12" ruler with some additional inches, but it's a pain to carry and it'll never be able to effectively measure as much as a tape measure can.

Another major problem (granted, this exists on all Apple hand-helds at the moment) is the lack of Flash Player thanks to Apple's fight with Adobe. Apple likes to tote the iPad's video playing capabilities on that wonderful LED Backlit Display. Great, so you've got YouTube and any movies you might have hacked for iTunes or downloaded. What about the millions of non-YouTube videos like Hulu? That's another topic entirely, but you get my drift.

Bottom line: overpriced, oversized iPhone that can't make calls and would rather be a laptop but it can't because it can only run one app at a time.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Bold Claims of Viral Mail

Who starts this stuff anyway?

I got two new viral emails this morning. You know the type, they are full of either tips and tricks using common household products or nonsense factoids that are supposed to amaze and astound. Mostly I just get mildly annoyed. It’s like sitting next to Cliff Clavin. Ten years ago, the norm was that I would get a whole bunch of these from people who had just gotten their first email account. Then those people would get a bunch in their Inbox, they would realize how annoying these can be and they would stop forwarding to me It was part of the Circle of Life.

Now with email being as ubiquitous as junk mail being delivered by your postal carrier and with the general hatred of junk mail that we all seem to share, it boggles my mind that people still forward some of these old chestnuts around and around and around.

Do people really read these things or do they just look at the top line and say, “I’ll forward this on to everyone I know because I think it will help alleviate some of the stress in their shallow lives”? OR maybe they look at the top line and they say, “I’ll forward this on to everyone I want to annoy today”? Hey, I got two this morning!

I actually opened and read mine this morning just so I could debunk and make fun of the content and I read some really amazing stuff. How about this one: Intelligent people have more zinc and copper in their hair. Can this be true? How can this be measured? How can I be measured? How do we measure intelligence? How do we define intelligence? Is having intelligence different than being intelligent? How is a baseline established to determine if someone is high or low on their zinc/copper levels? If you are below the baseline are you automatically dumb? Or just dumber? What If I’m high on zinc and low on copper? What if I go bald?

Ok, time for some research here. I spent a couple of hours digging around on the Internet and I think I’m now an expert. Here are my ultra scientific conclusions: Apparently you need both copper and zinc (in the proper proportion) for good health. Too high copper, you have health issues, too high zinc, you have health issues, not enough zinc, you have health issues, not enough copper, you have health issues. You can measure short-term high exposure in the blood, urine and feces and long-term high exposure in the hair and that's bad.

If you have high levels of zinc and copper in your hair, you are probably a hyper-active, paranoid schizophrenic with severe PMS, acne, headaches and white spots under your fingernails. You could soon suffer from panic disorders and hallucinations while struggling with nephrosis. You may be at higher risk for leukemia, anemia, hyperthyroidism, myocardial infarction and hemochromatosis! You also could be highly intelligent but it's not related.

Not enough zinc and copper in your hair and you open the crazy emails that your evil friends send you and you actually investigate the claims (which seem ridiculas on the surface) wasting away hours of valuable time which could be spent on Twitter or Facebook. Clearly, a sign of being less intelligent.

~ Shelly Yergensen

Monday, April 19, 2010

Video in the Virtual

The ongoing drive to the ubiquity of video communications is often seen as a technology play. User based services such as You Tube and UStream; the technologies of industry leaders such as Cisco and Polycom’s TelepPresence; and, the eventual video access of the iPad certainly have the WOW that piques our interest.

The real driver though lies not in the picture but in the very human need to remove barriers to understanding – it is the never ending quest to approach the reality of same space interaction.

Video – in ways audio alone cannot provide – allows us to duplicate more closely the visceral experience that drives our emotions which in turn moves our perception and ultimately our decision making.

The video genie is out and as the world’s infrastructure continues to evolve visual communications will change, in unforeseen ways, how we see the world and our roles in it.

~ Rich Scorza, Executive Vice President of Sales

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tax Day=Annual Scorecard

Every year at “tax time,” small business owners and entrepreneurs find ourselves writing checks to our friends at the state and federal government. Some years (like this one) they are smaller than others. Unfortunately, this does not mean we found a new “loophole,” but rather, it means one of two things:

1. We spent the year re-investing in our business to make it stronger in the long-term, or

2. Our business did not perform as well as we expected it would.

Conventional wisdom suggests that small business owners and entrepreneurs make lots more money than they report on their taxes and that they are very good at hiding their “real” income by running it through their businesses. While there are some that are well-versed at “gaming the system,” most of us are focused on scrapping for new business and looking for a) new ways to add value for our customers; b) pinch pennies to boost our slim margins; and c) keep our employees and families happy while we juggle multiple responsibilities to maintain our independence and keep our dream alive.

Our egos drive us to find ways to keep our business moving forward even when our bank accounts ask us why. We take on a multitude of personnel and financial liabilities in the belief that there is “Gold” at the end of the rainbow (full disclosure, I graduated in 1987 when Spandau Ballet was cool and their song Uncle Sam True was a “hit”). Believe it…

Selling yourself, your team and your business value are the order of every day. And, like most things in life the rewards come in small doses often times when you least expect them. These range from a new business opportunity with a long-time business contact, a phone call out-of-the-blue from a long-time prospect or a completely new business opportunity within an existing customer.

But, on Tax Day, reality is front and center. Good times are rewarded with large tax bills and lean times are met with mixed emotions… smaller payments to Uncle Sam, and more conservative financial behavior.

Have fun at your local Tea Party!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Microsoft vs Apple, Round 2

Microsoft is, once again, trying to break into a market a little too late. They have a new phone in development with the project code-name "Pink." The purpose of this phone? To allow fast, efficient access to social media. This would have been a good idea around three years ago when the iPhone was released to allow some kind of competition, but right now it seems to be Zune vs iPod again. There are millions of consumers who know exactly what an iPod is, but have never heard the word "Zune" in their lives. Why? Because Microsoft tried to break into a market Apple already had locked down.

The iPhone, the iTouch, and the iPad all have apps that allow the same kind of access to social media Microsoft is talking about. Apple has three years of product development on them, and that's even mentioning the plethora of smart phones out there offered by other giants (Google's Nexus One, for example) Microsoft has to compete with. It's true that the Zune already offers social media support, but that's not the same as integrating it into a phone.

Microsoft seems to be continually looking at what other companies are doing and simply re-packaging their products (Windows 7 feels very much like Snow Leopard, for example). They need to start innovating or they're going to be taken over very quickly, if it's not too late already.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Statement Of Purpose & Dedication

Given my relative youth in comparison to the other officers of the company, a Myers-Briggs certified inability to execute repetitive tasks, and my compulsive need to be funny, I was tasked to manage our social media presence as well as cultivate a social media plug-in for our services. My interest in the phenomena made me excited about the opportunity. While equipped with a few preconceived notions about various social media platforms, I tried to begin my education with an open mind.

As I approach the 1 year anniversary of my employment at 3D Virtual Events and what I know now to be my toe dip into the constantly evolving social media community, my only conviction is that I understand less about it now than I did with solely my preconceived notions.

However, my experiences and the subsequent realization that I hope drives entries to this blog is that our definition of community is transitioning from the real into the virtual. With each new user ID, we as individuals become denizens of a community whose requirement for citizenship is nothing more than a valid e-mail address. In return, we are given the freedom to engage IP addresses across geographic, ethnic, and religious borders. A freedom that allows us to portray ourselves not as the people we really are, but as the firewall protected personas we want to be.

So while we are trimming our autobiographies to 160 characters and carefully selecting our profile pictures, we are not just leaving out possible arrest records or unflattering candids. Also left out is the trust that can only be built when we see it, hear it, or touch it ourselves. A trust that without, will leave us incapable of genuinely feeling connected.

The purpose of this blog is to explore how technologies both hard and soft are enabling the transition into virtual communities and what the human experience may have gained or lost as a result.

I will also try to be funny.

To conclude, I would like to dedicate this blog to Professor Patrick Riley who inspired my passion for the relationship that exists between individuals and their social environments. While at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I was privileged to be a recipient of both his incredible knowledge as well his enthusiasm to share it with others. While not pretending to have any Tuesday's With Morrie-like relationship, my appreciation for the perspective he has given me warranted, if not a New York Times bestseller, TV movie, or Broadway play, at least a blog dedication.