I taught the girls the rock-n-roll horns.
Girls Who Code is an national program that promotes coding and computer science to high school girls. A group of students in the NYC program have been learning and coding all summer in a spare conference room at my office. I was asked to lead one of the workshops and chose to teach the girls brainstorming and drafting product proposals. As with any opportunity to teach and learn with young people, I had an amazing time. The girls were bright, creative and just plain fun to work with. I was so impressed with their ideas and really happy to have had a chance to help a wonderful program.
I’m very interested in digital photography and long term photo storage. You can see a long post on that here. Six months ago I filed a provisional application for a patent for “Systems and Methods for Providing a Digital Photo Archive.” The application describes several features of an online digital archive that I believe are novel.
Sadly, I don’t think I’m going to have an opportunity to file for the full patent or to use the invention. The provisional application could be useful to anyone pursuing a similar business or invention. If you are interested, please contact me via Twitter @seantconrad. Several sections of the application are copied here after the jump.
I had a chance to sit on a panel for Internet Week New York discussing targeting and marketing. For the most part, the panel was in agreement. I’m still not sold targeting in the traditional sense, making ads for segments. The new models of targeting–taking huge amounts of data and automatically looking for corollaries with performance.
Mozilla has just released Firefox 4 (March 22). Microsoft released Internet Explorer 9 on on March 14 and Google updated Chrome to 10 on March 8. What do all these new browser mean for customers and developers?
The Good – New versions mean new bug fixes, better performance, and increased security. For developers, new versions support new code (HTML5, new CSS, etc). All the new browsers also come with a host of new features.
The Bad – All the new browsers also come with a host of new features. This is not necessarily a positive for some customers. For example, when I open my browser to check a sports score, I am already satisfied with that use case. Any changes to the experience have to offer not just an increase in value, but enough to outweigh my annoyance at change. Customers aren’t intentionally late adopters. Often times the payoff is not just worth it. Why have I had to learn at least 4 versions of Word in my life to produce the same out put, a paper letter?
The Ugly – The competition between vendors and the rapid versioning create a very segmented audiences. This means website and software makers have to test more and more configurations, spending less time giving attention to each individuals use case. It’s extremely expensive and over all user experience can suffer.
Which browser do I recommend? It all depends on personal preferences. Currently, I use Firefox 3.6. I like the menus near the top left, which eliminates IE8 and Chrome. I haven’t had a chance to try IE9 very much yet, but I did have a good first impression.
For security’s sake, I do recommend moving to the latest version of your favorite, even if they move the buttons just to drive you crazy.
If you are viewing my blog in a web browser, it looks completely normal. However, if you are a search engine spider, all the text has been changed to be about various prescription drugs that you can buy online. My WordPress blog has been hacked. To fix this, I need to reinstall WordPress.
I recommend checking out how the Googlebot views your site at http://google.com/webmasters.
Update: After several painful reinstalls of WordPress, it has been fixed. Google and the other search engines are slowly purging their records that associate me with online prescription sales. Oops! I shouldn’t have included those keywords!
I recently presented my company’s new feature to The Product Group: http://tpgblog.com/theproductgroup/.
Seated with me is my esteemed colleague Jim, our creative director.
I haven’t posted in a while, but I have been dabbling in a bunch of new technologies both at work and personally. My brother and sister-in-law have been writing original recipes and taking lots of beautiful photos, so I helped them set up a blog: FoodieLawyer.com. It’s a real pleasure to work with people who already have tons of great ideas, enthusiasm, and most importantly, tons of quality original content.
After trying our Tumbler, Blogger, WordPress.com, and Typepad, we went with WordPress hosted at Dreamhost. That option provides them with automatic security updates, but also allows custom plugins and flexibility. To get them started, I added a custom theme, Google Analytics, Google Website Tools, SEO optimization, Feedburner, a Facebook widget, Askimet comment spam prevention, Google AdSense for Content, Amazon affiliate program, and a nice plugin for integrating Picasa photos and albums. To be honest, because of so many available tools, it only took one line of custom CSS and two lines of PHP to get them going with a feature rich site. Well, it also takes tons and tons of content production by them, but at least they aren’t bogged down with the How.
Lessons learned from 13 failed software products
It seems like the main take aways are to listen to the users and that, yes, we do need marketing.
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The Puritan Gift
I’m almost finished with The Puritan Gift: Reclaiming the American Dream Amidst Global Financial Chaos
by Kenneth and William Hopper, and I heartily recommend it to technology professionals or managers anywhere. It’s a study of the history of successful business practices or qualities that stem from the Massachusetts Bay Colony:
- A conviction to create Heaven on Earth (or a limitless sense of optimism for progress)
- Placing a high value on mechanical aptitude
- Working for the benefit of the group, not the individual
- The ability to marshal resources and organize on a massive scale
Along with those attributes, the Hoppers credit the Puritans for respecting ‘domain knowledge’ and listening to the folks on the factory floor. As someone who comes from an engineering background rather than a business management, I can see a lot of value in the lessons of the book. I also am learning a great deal about management practices that I never learned while coding.
The Hoppers don’t rest on their laurels with The Puritan Gift as a dry business history text book. The hook is the delightful way they intertwine wit and historic connections while telling the American tale. In fact, it reminds me of an episode of Connections.
The book was a gift from my in-laws and they even were able to snag an autograph from the author. Thank you so much for a great gift!
“Astroturfing” is a term that refers to generate fake grass roots effort by actually paying people to pose as everyday citizens. The term was coined by Lloyd Bentsen, the same gentleman who told Dan Quayle, “You sir, are no Jack Kennedy.”
In the Internet business, astroturfing mostly refers to posting fake comments, “I LOVE Brand X! – Joe Schmoe.” I’ve dealt with a few marketers who wanted to try it and I consistently tell them not too. There are many reasons, but the main one is, you will get caught. While your marketer is working for a paycheck, many forum moderators are doing it for the love, and thus will spend more hours trying to catch you than you can trying to evade.
Now there is another new reason. It’s against the law and you can be fined thanks to New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. $300,000 for a few false comments is not chump change. I think the fines and anything else that discourages the practice is good for consumers and Internet businesses.