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Archive for November, 2006

We all know that biological and genetic factors encourage the body to store energy in the form of fat to protect people when the availability of food is limited or irregular. I didn’t think I was all that worried about availability of food this winter…but, after jumping on the scales it would seem I’m very concerned.

And, it’s snowing outside, the bicycle has a flat tire, the sidewalk is slick with freezing rain and my running gear is in the clothes hamper smelling up the house…what to do? I know, I’ll search (as George dub-ya says) THE Google…

THE Google has all the answers! Don’t let me down on this one.

My first challenge was how to categorize the situation and determine “what” to ask THE Google. Is it weight loss, overweight, reduction-of-fat, reduction programs, weight trends, hypercholeterolemia, gastric bypass, or just obese. I chose obese, but had a very difficult time typing it into the search bar, thinking how skinny that little box is and what if it doesn’t fit?

I hit return and bam! Thousands of hits including several YouTube videos. And there it was…an ominous warning…

“Obesity is the number one health threat in the United States today,” — says the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Well, that didn’t make me feel better so, seeking instant gratification I jumped over to DailyStrength as it’s one of those social networking sites for health support. Where do men go to find other like minded people who are connected to the dieting community, want to correspond with each other, and give each other virtual “support hugs” between snacks at 3am?…back on task, Mac. I scrolled down the page and read about elevated fibrinogen levels and obesity rate for the Boy Scouts and then over to how the House Rabbit Diet works for certain type people, huh?!

And then a real nugget surfaced about a company called Orexigen Therapeutics, which targets neurons in the central nervous system to suppress appetite. Wow! Exactly what I need. A new and novel approach to dieting and a clear path to achieving that 30 something biff-n-buff build again.

So, I signed up for the North American Association for the Study of Obesity (NAASO) trail. A secret “society” with access to a once-a-day pill that’s designed to sustain weight loss by enhancing satiety, diminishing appetite, improving energy expenditure and minimizing the body’s efforts to compensate for weight loss….all while watching HD-HBO.

How cool is that! Pass the cheese whiz…

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The American Marketing Association (AMA), commissioned and released a survey that revealed:

Nearly half (49 percent) of all respondents said they would participate in one or more activities related to shopping and buying on a social networking site, if those activities were available. Nearly as many said they would visit a social networking site to search for gift ideas (47 percent); while one-third (29 percent) said they would buy products on those sites, if such a service were available.

Available is the key word. The service is NOT available! Social networking sites are successful because they allow for real connections. Just because you listed a couple hobbies in your profile doesn’t mean you want a barrage of gift ideas in you inbox. But, because these sites provide the best “word-of-mouth” marketing — marketer types see them as an opportunity.

And it’s a big opportunity. More than one-third of U.S. households shop online. It’s projected that $211.4B will be spent online this holiday season (source: National Federation). I’ve posted about social networking sites previously and the lure of registered users go way beyond any fad zone. Most social networking sites rely on ad revenue for income and ad spending on social networking sites is now at about $350M a year and projected to grow to $2.5B by 2010 according to marketer.

So, connecting the dots with this AMA research…it suggests that revenue from sales on these sites could be worth $Billions and potentially much more than the ad revenue.

If you’re a marketer then you know that:

  • Consumers are willing to spend more on bundled and blended services which offer personalized services
  • Spending varies from country to country and doesn’t necessarily correlate with interest
  • Increased services revenue growth will result from highly segmented service offerings
  • Customized feature and functionality is key in pricing for targeted segments
  • Understanding different countries’ preferences is critical for new offerings
  • Social networks are a huge youth e-tailing revenue base and if the marketers go in with stealth tactics or over-hype a brand, they are likely to face a serious backlash rather than gain customer loyalty.

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    The Photo Buzz is Loud…

    The face of new business in the land of opportunity….Bruce Livingstone (CEO of iStockPhoto.com). He looks like a Harley rider heading to the SD Bad lands, not sitting at a conference table running a major photo imaging company. Guess I’m envious…and need to bring back the “sole patch”.

    In the spirit of, “get-your-act-together” (GYAT), I spent time last weekend to become a contributing photographer for istockphoto.com. I read through the mountain of paperwork, reviewed the rules and finally received confirmation that I passed their online exam. But it’s unclear they will ever “approve” any photo I decide to submit because snapping pics of people eating Turkey gravy in Huber’s isn’t my tea bag and they are all full up of fall foliage and sunset shots.

    The photo stock biz is dominated by Getty Images. But, they are being hurt. There’s more competition, and customers are turning to cheaper, Web-based imagery providers as an alternative to the high-end products that Getty specializes in. Last February they acquired iStockphoto, a Canadian company that accepts images from amateur photographers and others, and sells them for as little as $1. Thus my interest.

    Certainly the Getty/Corbis’ of the world are under pressure and facing competition from smaller rivals. Yahoo already owns one of the biggest social network/photo sites (Flickr) in the world. They must be thinking about monetizing Flickr at some point, right? What about all that social user generated content that is appearing all over the internet? Getty likely needs to maintain high editorial standards to ensure that photos are not doctored, etc. before they are sent out to worldwide publications so they will continue to use high scrutiny and only use their pros for certain types of photo’s.

    But, as the digital cameras get better and less expensive, more and more people will put them in “AUTO” and are able to create stunning images. The proliferation of great images are created due to lower barriers to entry for fine photography.

    And, all that user generated content appearing all over the internet only puts more pressure on Getty. It’s a great day for us amateur photographers!

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    Not me, my Motorola Q. There are camera phones, fashion phones, music phones, and Smartphone’s. After a couple of months or so using a new Smartphone (work tether), here is some insight and feedback. The “Q” was a replacement for a Treo 650 (PalmOS) that fell victim of a horrific accident in a local Starbucks. The below pros/cons contrast my Treo vs. Q experiences, however, I’ve also used a Blackberry and have a couple data points from that vantage. Goodlink is my IT mandated two-way push messaging solution and I share issues about this software as well.

    The Q squeezes all the features you’d expect in a Smartphone — Bluetooth, IrDA, QWERTY keypad, 1.3Mpixel camera in an ultra-thin (11.5mm) device where Outlook meets camera and media player.

    Q Pros

  • Great form factor (4.1oz; 4.3Hx2.5Wx0.5D-inch); much lighter than Treo; fits in pocket
  • Windows Mobile 5.0 is better integrated (sync etc.,) than the PalmOS on Treo 650
  • Side-mounted scroll wheel, makes for single hand operation. The Treo was a stop the car, get out and grab the “wand” for a two-hand operation!
  • miniSD card for portable video/music
  • Good QWERTY keyboard – not “abridged” like the new Blackberry Pearl
  • Excellent phone quality/performance
  • Very good screen quality (2.4-inch; 320×240 pixels)
  • Great system responsiveness; Verizon EVDO data network is speedy
  • Keyboard lock really works and does not make 911 calls on its own! However, with the phone in your pocket, it can still make calls if the GoodLink timeout hasn’t started.
  • Innovative translucent adjustment on any photo and can use as a background
  • IrDA transfer works exceptionally well for quick biz card exchanges
  • Motorola battery chargers are made small and exceptionally well for traveling
  • Web 2.0 hits the Q – an online Wiki with lots of tips and information.
  • Availability of add on software. Lots! One example is Musicdock that provides access to your XM Radio account via the Q.
  • The USQ ultra low-profile “skin” ($19.95) fits extremely well and works super in keeping the phone from flying across any car dash.
  • Q Cons

  • Weak integration with GoodLink software. Goodlink is my IT supported two-way push messaging solution. A weakness example is the need to modify multiple categories/screens for ringtones if you want to eliminate a ring that you thought was OFF in Windows Mobile 5.
  • GoodLink Contacts can’t be used for text messaging – must be in the Windows phone contact manager and doing a cut/paste is beyond challenging.
  • GoodLink Contacts can’t have distinctive ring tones – must be in the Windows phone contact manager
  • GoodLink has no audible calendar and task reminder options (can be done in a limited way with phone options), but rather messy
  • No GoodLink backup option (any reloads must be done OTA)
  • GoodLink does not retain selected calendar views when phone and Goodlink get restarted.
  • My office location and Verizon service seem incompatible. Spotty to no coverage.
  • GoodLink phone lock password can only be numeric – alpha characters can’t be entered. This was an incredible waste of time when I first received the unit and could have been eliminated had it been in the instructions
  • Windows Mobile Internet Explorer is a rather weak handheld browser – it does not scale the pages to the screen size, so formatting is odd and a great deal of scrolling is required to use it.
  • No automatic extra digit access code dialing for speed dial numbers
  • Landscape oriented screen requires more scrolling, but can be done so from the scroll wheel and the optional screen protectors slightly diminish the brightness of the display
  • The belt holster (included) is weak, but the Q easily fits in any pocket, so not an issue.
  • The standard battery lasts less than 12 hours (~10 hours idle, or ~2 hours talk time) when running GoodLink. A larger battery (which also places a bump on the back of the Q) provides significant more duty/cycle.
  • I’ve had to reset the Q once, but never by pulling the battery. I had to restart the Treo 650 frequently (weekly). It would just hang, sometimes in the middle of a call and it became a routine duty to remove the battery cover and push the reset button with the wand or more often than not physically remove the battery for a hard reboot.
  • Conclusions:I wouldn’t say that the Q is my perfect all in one device/Smartphone, but the form factor of the Q is very compelling, the operation is one-handed and straightforward, and the phone quality is very good.

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    I recieved the below teaser email from Microsoft today on the new bundled personal media player/service which goes on sale November 14th. The Zune site is LIVE today as well as the animated shorts on the arts.net site. Interesting site, but as appealing as the device and service look…I’ll stay the course with my video iPod.

    *********************************************************************
    music is in the air

    *********************************************************************
    Zune is almost here. So, thanks for registering to learn more.
    Hope you enjoyed what we have shown so far. We have a lot more
    going on.

    Zune.net went live today. Check it out to learn more.
    http://www.zune.net

    Plus, Coming Zune is evolving into Zune Arts. Go see it at
    http://www.zune-arts.net
    It’s a place for creative expression around the idea of sharing
    from some of today’s most progressive artists, animators and
    designers. Play around. The gallery is constantly growing.
    http://www.zune-arts.net

    And because you signed up early we want to give you an exclusive
    heads-up. Make sure you come back to Zune.net on November 10 for
    some exciting information about our launch plans.

    Pass it on. 11.14.06

    zune

    *********************************************************************
    Legal: You are receiving this email because you signed up for the
    Zune newsletter. To cancel your subscription click here.

    Note unsubscribing to our newsletter does not change your email
    preferences with Microsoft.com. To manage Microsoft.com preferences
    click below.

    Zune Privacy
    One Microsoft Way
    Redmond, Washington, United States 98052

    *********************************************************************

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    I’ve noticed lately that I’m getting old-r. Maybe ’cause it’s that birthday time of year or my lack of patience? So, anyway I’m standing in the Starbucks line to buy a Grande Coffee and it’s freakin’ like 17 billion people long ’cause the only thing the dumb teenage boy at the register is thinking about is the teenage girl at the other register and some lady has her purse inside out trying to win the “exact change” trophy…Mac, drink your coffee and chill…

    So, where was I? Oh yeah, I’m not sure I fit into the cool generation. Sure, I give it a try…I do “The Google” (as George dub-ya bungled), I blog a bit, I’m on Facebook, I Flickr photo’s, connect with groups on CollectiveX, manage calendars online with Eventful, I Digg lots of articles on the internet and post web pages/sites on Apple dot mac. But I can’t find clothes that I like, I can’t find music that interests me on mainstream radio, I’m tired of the barrage of commercialization and I make fun of both in an attempt to stay sane.

    And speaking of music, how about that hip-hop Jibb’s song ‘Chains‘. Yeah, Boii, Jibbs who?! I don’t get it. I understand the lyrics and stupid hooks. I get the thump, thump, thump beat. But, several of my “cube-cruisers” in the office think it’s a great song and I can’t figure it out. They don’t wear a chain with ‘DEALR’ all spelled out in diamonds. They didn’t grow up in ‘da hood. They don’t have 24’s (rims) on a Range Rover with a Rhino Guard and spot floods. Most of them are driving a Pontiac Sunfire or Toyota Corolla’s… on 12’s… and squeaky brakes…with political bumper stickers, so why are they bounc’n to Chains? I must be getting old…because this represents everything wrong with hip-hop IMHO.

    Speaking of old-r, I like buying jeans and breaking them in, but not the kind with rips in the butt where your girlfriend can store her hands while walking on latte avenue or missing knees and distressed to the point of Kleenex thin. But, I can’t find jeans that are ‘clean’ anywhere…I’m wearing a pair of “Calvin’s” now that I’ve had for three+ years. It’s time otherwise I’ll be no shirt, no shoes and lots of problems.

    And while I’m still on music… here’s something Disturb’n the Peace every day… According to the charts, consumers everywhere are digg’n Hinder’s Extreme Behavior (parental advisory) CD and single ‘Lips of an Angel’…loosely based on an affair of sorts in a love triangle. While keeping in mind that media is based on what comes out of society… in a media based society is that song a snapshot of society… or just hype from the studio? Does influence flow from the media to consumers or do we influence media? A label won’t produce a CD if there isn’t a market. So, is the market craving these lyrics (or relationship concept), or are the lyrics influencing the market? Does a song like that ignite infidelity or does it simply act as a mirror on society’s accepted form of a relationship? I’m not sure I care, but it is curious.

    And while I’m on relationships, social networking sites seem all the rage in these Web 2.0 days. I ran across a site called myYearbook.com (started by a 16 year old, bother/sister team). It’s an online yearbook for the digital age where more than 1M young people around the world – mostly teens – gather to socialize. It’s the youngest demographic and also the fastest-growing social networking site on the Internet. I pinged the site and as I waited for the page to load…OUCH! Yep, I’m getting old-r, but when I’m “banner blasted” with an ad evangelizing an ever elusive younger demographic:

    “Did you know – 52% of MySpace Users Are Older Than 35″

    I’m not even on MySpace so, that must mean I’m at that particular period of life at which a person becomes naturally or conventionally disqualified? Double OUCH!!

    Not wanting any long term emotional distress on this age gig, I ventured onward to find some better news, and when I heard about a new report that estimates there are 117 million active gamers (defined as those who play upwards of five hours per week) in the U.S., more than half of whom (56%) play online games. Of all online gamers, the report from Nielsen Entertainment found that 64% are women. While teenagers still comprise the largest share of online gamers (40%), Nielsen found that 8%, or nearly 15 million active gamers, are 45 or older.

    Sure my hallway of “cube-it’s” will gladly debate experiences with MMOG’s or if a PC can survive as a viable gaming system against the console giants or if parlor games really qualify as “games”. But, they are totally missing the point.

    Us old guys gett’n old-r need to give it up for those old gamers…they rock!!

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