Of reviews and review scales…

I restarted doing movie reviews again, posting them to Niume. I thought I would take the first few lines of today’s post and share my rating systems for technology and movies. I also do restaurant and customer service/business reviews on Yelp so I will add that scale as well.

First movies:

1-5 where 5 is a must see movie and 1 is well a movie you can skip. I am reviewing older movies now, so I will only be sharing movies that are 4’s and 5’s. Right now I am working on my favorite movies in specific genres.

Now businesses/restaurants:

Maximum of 5 stars, with a scale from 1 to 5. If I rate a business or restaurant a 1 star, it is horrible or the customer service is unacceptable. A 5 star restaurant has good servers and good food and can lose the 5th star if we return and the service or food isn’t as good. 5 star means we are going to go back to the place!

Technology Reviews:

I recently changed my technology review delivery. First off I moved from my old system to a newer easier to understand system. Basically I only review items that I find valuable and useful. If I am sharing a review of a crowd funding project my rule is I have to be a backer. My second rule on technology reviews is I also have to use the item in question.

Based on that I now qualify my reviews with my in the bag, in the office, on the boat, at home or in my pocket. That way you have a better picture of not only where I use the device but also how critical it is. When you buy bigger pockets to carry specific devices, you know that device is critical!

Wrap up:

Reviews are always my opinion of products, services and delivery. They are wound around the scale I use, but are intended as my presentation of what I think about the products or services in question. My taste, my opinion and my personality drive the reviews!


long time reviewer…

Digital Rude, and Cyberbullying…

I promised myself I would not launch political tirades on this blog. I have in the past, but I promised myself that I was staying away from the concepts of processes of politics. I did yesterday, however, post about the sheer frustration I have with the way people are treating crowdfunding creators currently. I am not sure why people are doing this.

First off, always off, seriously this isn’t cool, the reality of social shaming. Hey, I understand that sometimes people are wrong. Sometimes mistakes are made. Based on that raising the issue on a social platform like a blog is fair. You, as the blogger have the right to your opinion. The creator of the project has the right to their opinions. It is an opinion that your opinion is better than anyone else’s. In fact, opinions, are merely that, opinions. So stand behind your opinion, post a blog and move on. These constant and sometimes incredibly rude social attacks are starting to make me realize that we need to grow up.

I know that I have in the past taken things personally that I shouldn’t have. I step way from the keyboard, and I consider both what and how I approach what happens next. It isn’t that I am perfect, I am very far from perfect. I have come to realize that a constant and ongoing public attack doesn’t do anyone any good. It simply makes everyone nervous.

Yesterday I posted about the reality and the risk of crowdfunding. There are no guarantees in life; crowdfunding goes even further down the path of no guarantees. I understand that for something to spring to life it takes time. Look I am not going to say that I haven’t reached out to some crowdfunding campaigns and asked about delays. I groan when the email arrives discussing another delay. I was frustrated and posted the email sent around from the PopSlate II team when they closed down the campaign without a single item being shipped. Yes, that made me mad. I didn’t however, go seeking out the personal social media accounts of the creators and shame them. I didn’t go on the offensive and post horrible things. I just sniffled, published the letter and moved on.

My grandfather always told me two things. The first was look before you leap. The second was make sure you understand where the other person is, first. I have lived by those two rules ever since the first time I heard them more than 45 years ago. I do not shame people publically. I am, you will notice complaining right now in my blog about the behavior of individuals on social media. I am not using the Twitter handles or sharing their profile addresses. I am not posting their emails. My rule for names in blogs has always been incredibly simple. If I use the product, then I talk about it. If I back the project, then I talk about it. If they have horrible customer service, I talk about it. I do not stalk their social media I post my issue right here on this blog.

I read the hateful and cruel comments made by people in expressing their opinion, and I feel sorry for project creators. I understand that the new models of innovation put them at risk. There is no R&D department of XYZ company protecting them. There is only them. Why is it that people feel they can openly attack someone they don’t know without recourse?

Why is trolling not a crime? It is as hateful as just about anything else. I decided more than five years ago that I would no longer allow comments to be posted on my blog without my moderating them first, why? Because some of the troll comments were beyond hateful and I wasn’t going to share them. In the US we have the principal of free speech. But free speech is only a right if you protect it for others as well. If you resort to personal attacks of other people, do you accept personal attacks in return? Michelle Obama said one of the greatest things last year “They go low, we go high.” I am not, sure enough, people understand what it means to go low. If you attack someone on social media, without giving hem voice, you are going low.

The more I think about it, the more this social shaming strikes me as bullying. Calling someone out by name, shaming them is a form of cyberbullying. Sad in the end.


It just makes me sad…

Why innovators struggle and please stop yelling at them!

There are two ways of thinking about technology. These two go back to the very beginnings of what we now call IT. The reality of is the network up or is the network down. The adage electronics only fail when they are on, or build redundant systems to avoid failure points, remain the same now as they have been for many eons of IT systems.

The thing is, it isn’t always that way. Yes, we can build systems that designed from the ground up to consider and effectively create a path to success. But the reality all things fail, including manual systems that rely on users. What happens when Bob, isn’t around? This is where the reality of CSTEAM comes into play. STEM education and now STEAM gets us a framework for education. How do we deliver training to users that are not only targeted but also efficient!

We use STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) and provide that via a connected environment that encourages information flow. I call this reality CSTEAM. It encompasses concepts shared in three of my books in the past years.

• The Syncverse

• The Innovators Dilemma

• Intergenerational Knowledge Transfer

The reality of information flow is value. One of the trends in the past five to ten years is the move of innovators away from big business. They have begun the transition to crowdfunding projects. But the risk for the project creator is the reality of the harsh world of crowdfunding. I have watched campaigns start, and the sue birds didn’t even let the campaign finish. I have seen massive social media campaigns started against campaigns. Plus, with a company (IBM) that is struggling to find its way in the digital world now diving directly into crowdfunding as an Indiegogo Partner, I think at best the ground is unsteady now.

If information is the critical piece, then how it moves within the system becomes the end game. Most people don’t know that you need to balance not only your total addressable market (TAM) but also the COGs (or cost of goods sold). We don’t always think about the fact that making something requires a manufacturing plant (or our garage)time, effort and shipping. It also requires advertising, contingency systems and if there is a software element, developers. So TAM and COGs become the worst enemy of getting a product shipped.

CESAll of this then baked around the other reality of innovation. You aren’t building all of the systems in the crowdfunding world for your eventual market. In fact, you are building a much smaller amount. Your cost per unit will be lower later. Your profit margin will be higher. The Boston Consulting Group and the experience curve have shown this to be true over and over. The more you build, the better you get at the building. But when you are small, struggling to get that project across the ever moving finish line, it is hard to step back and smile. You are the little guy, not the mythical David with a shot at bringing down Goliath; there are many other metaphors that fit better here. The best one is you are 4, and the cookie jar is a way to high to reach without an adult. When you are a small company, you are beholden to the manufacturer. They, control your destiny. You, sadly, have little if any impact on their destiny so as they tell you about delay after delay the best you can do is smile and nod.

That information about manufacturing and how it works is not available when you are outside the confines of a large R&D department. Well, it is available, but it is not written down and easy to get to if you aren’t in the safe confines. You have to know where it is.

The reality of innovation is you are taking a chance. A CSTEAM system for innovations would be something of value. I think I know exactly what it would look like!


Innovator, dreamer

On making a weather mistake…

Yesterday I experienced a weather failure. We were preparing to take the dogs for their daily walk. It is something we’ve done for the past three years with both dogs. They, the dogs, love the walk. I checked the weather forecast and then my weather station, and in both cases, it seemed that the original weather prediction that rain would roll into our area around 6 pm were correct. We ended up heading out on a walk around 4 pm. (I start my work day early). As we reached the furthest point of the walk from our house, the thunderstorm arrived.

IMG_0158So we got wet, and neither dog is a huge fan of rain. We had just decided to cut the walk short when the rain stopped, and blue skies returned. So we ended up taking a full walk, but the last 1/2 of it was while soaking wet!

In my childhood, I got good at knowing when a thunderstorm was coming. The ominous line of black clouds in the sky darkening the horizon was normally a real clue (I wrote a poem many years ago that was published called “The last known painting of Skyler Blue” my impressions sitting and watching an impending thunderstorm).  This storm rolled through violently and very quickly. That typically happens when you are closer to a large body of water, and we are only 56 miles from the Chesapeake Bay.

Simple math here – this is why you have a Micro-Weather station at your home. Conditions can change rapidly. In that rapid changing, you can get caught outside without an umbrella and a dog that doesn’t like thunder, much.

In the summer those electric moments after a thunderstorm are magical. The air charged with Ozone, and the temperature drops. 5 or even 10 degrees in the summer taking you from 95 degrees to 85 degrees. A nice respite to a hot summers day. In the spring that temperature differential, that change is often even more extreme. It went from 81 degrees the high of yesterday to 71 before the sun went down, and 51 by this morning. 

If you check out our YouTube channel to catch my yesterday’s weather video post you will see that as of 3:30 there were no clouds at all at our house. In fact, if you look you will see that at 4:00 pm no clouds. They literally rolled in and out incredibly fast.

Luckily modern cellular phones and smart watches are water proof. Shirts and shorts, as well as soaked shoes, will dry. It only takes time!

(now Raven and Dylan glaring at me because they were wet, and neither of them likes thunderstorms, took longer to go away than my wet clothes took to dry).


wet weather mis-=prognosticator

Of innovation, innovators and lagging readers…

I am trying an experiment today, as much because I can as because of need but also just to see. I’ve been chasing out some issues lately, and I am focused today on seeing in fact if my theory is correct. The first thing is the order of posting. I have been posting on one of my two blog sites first for the past couple of weeks, just to see if my initial theory is correct.

So far, that initial theory is in fact correct. But sadly there isn’t anything I can do about that reality. It is what it is. Blogs are a lot like dogs. If you have a dog, it owns you. Or in my world, I believe that dogs are family members, not something you own. Based on that reality, it is really important that you treat the dog as a family member.

In the past 11 months, I have talked to and worked with 22 different Kickstarter and Indiegogo Campaigns. For the most part talking to them about a realistic TAM. TAM is the total addressable market that any one device can actually each. No, you cannot say your TAM is 100%. In part because at a 100% TAM the US, EU, and other large economic groups would start coming after you as a monopoly. Secondly, no one gets 100% of a market. The best you can hope for on a first run basis is 100% but that blue ocean reality isn’t as likely. Plus, it would only apply to your first run, all later runs would have smaller and smaller share.

I won’t bore you with the process to arrive at a proper TAM. It is quite long, tedious and frankly boring. What I will tell you is that success with any innovation involves being honest not only with what is possible but also with when it is possible.

In my book on innovation, I talked a lot about the concept of creating an innovative idea. The concept of the book was that the reality of innovation and innovators has changed in the past ten years. When I started my IT career (after leaving public school teaching), innovators tended to work for the R&D group of large companies. In so doing, they were able to do two things. First, they were able to learn the ins and outs of the manufacturing process. They were also able to have an organization focused on making money determine the potential TAM.

It was not a perfect system and it began failing. Innovators were frustrated by the slow rate of movement by large R&D departments. Crowd-funding pushed them out of the nest and into the wild. But in many cases, the baby bird innovators hadn’t yet learned to fly. They didn’t understand the manufacturing reality, and they didn’t understand TAM. They pushed their dreams out via Crowdfunding sites and in many cases waited for a miracle.

The Miracle wasn’t going to happen. That meant they were stuck. Dreamers don’t like moving towards their dreams, and the avenues were no longer open. So they went to a new crowdfunding site and tried again. This time they stopped, they listened, and the didn’t assume the miracle would happen. The found the Superbackers in the space they were in and got them involved and engaged beforehand. They, the Superbackers on Indiegogo and Kickstarter actually can drive eyes, potential backers and provide excellent guidance and advice.

I have to say this new market is interesting, exciting and fun to be a part of, rather than waiting for a large company to release the next big thing! Seeing the creators build and deliver the next big thing is a lot more fun.

Seeing the TAM of a small device blossom and become something viable is impressive. I was very happy with the original Pebble Watch. I saw that crowdfunding success grows into a company. Sadly, they sold that dream to Fitbit, but the idea was still strong. The innovation ended up having a market and being a successful dream.

Sometimes that is all you can hope for.


innovation dreamer

What is that you say Horatio? You hear the train that is the information age?

I listen to the sound of the oncoming train and I realize that it isn’t on the tracks I am standing on. I also realize, in listening to that far off distant train that it is both far off, and distant. I stop and look around to see, to find the vibration in the world around me that says the train has passed us by. But there is no vibration, there is no train.

It is, it will be, it could be, it might be, it is. Why then do the analysts run around declaring not only has the train passed us by, but miraculously without knowledge or forethought we hopped on the train and now are riding in, off into the sunset? Personally I think it is more like the TV commercial where the cowboy is riding off, and rides into one of the letters on the screen, knocking him off his horse.

holome Saturday editionI won’t derail the train, I won’t knock it off its course. Because it has yet to arrive. Sure analysts say the information age has come, and like a puppy seeking love, is sitting in front of us now. Patiently waiting for us to pet it. But the information age is not a warm puppy full of love. It is a train. Why a train? Because it moves more than people, carries more than love, and isn’t a singular unit. It is a series of trains leaping outward from an ever growing hub spreading more and faster. 

You can put your ear on the rail and know it is true. That there is a rumble on the tracks that tomorrow will bring an information age. But then you have to stop for a moment, you have to realize that you are standing on the track where the information age, barreling towards a bright future of shared information and ideas, isn’t coming. You pull your binoculars from your bag and seek a vision but it is not there.

Someday perhaps, but not while you are there standing. Watched pots after all never boil, right? You might as well setup your tent, the information age is on the tracks, it just isn’t here yet. Information takes too long, too many winding roads to be ubiquitous now. If, and by if it is always possible, you can reach out and touch information as it flows past you, then perhaps that golden age is here. But since you can’t, no one has cyber gloves yet that act not only as receivers for information but also as fashion statements. 

Too much information lives hidden in the minds of people still for the train to come, and in arriving, pick up passengers and take us beyond the information age to what is next.

I can hear the train Horatio. I feel a vibration on the tracks that says somewhere the train is rolling, the train is trying to make it to us. Perhaps the snow in the mountains forces it to idle and all we feel Horatio is the vibration of the future pulsing and waiting. Or worse, Horatio is the coming information age, the long announced information age merely fake news of the pre-age, generated by those who would mislead?



Of the impact of Micro-weather and Micro-managers…

I have been thinking about the concept of time-lapse weather a lot lately. In part because of the exceptional Bloomsky Storm and Sky products. They allow you to, without setting up a camera, capture time-lapse videos of the weather where your weather station is.

Those videos are the primary daily content on our family YouTube channel, In part, because they are cool. In part because, I have launched a new concept on my YouTube channel, Yesterday’s Weather, today! I have been predicting accurately (100%) what yesterday’s weather would be today.

Weather impacts us regularly. How we react, plan and ultimately deal with weather becomes the structure and value of a weather station at home. I have mentioned the two I use (both supporting the Micro-weather concept) NetATMO and Bloomsky. Both allow you to connect to your phone, computer or tablet. They tell you what the weather is where you are!

IMG_0385Micro-weather is something I’ve talked about before, but it is an interesting topic. Micro-weather is the concept of many local weather stations connected. You, the house down the street and of course the house four miles away. It gives you a fascinating view of what is happening, but also what is coming your way, literally in the next 5 minutes or so!

I’ve been thinking about the processes we use to review people within companies. I’ve thought about it sometimes over the years. As part of any review process, there are a couple of critical pieces. The first is the integrity of the manager doing the review. If, you haven’t spoken with the person being reviewed and you give them a review, shame on you. The evaluation of a person has to be a two-way conversation. If you examine the person without their input, then shame on you.  If your report forces that person into a situation where they can never return to the company in question after their final review, then frankly more than shame on you.

As a person, I have a rule. That rule is that if you ask something of someone, you have to come from a strong ethical position. It is the do what I do, and what I say, rather than the much easier do what I say.  A person or manager that reviews someone without talking to the person isn’t behaving ethically. They, the manager, are guilty of taking the easy way out. If your manager tells you to do something, but you see that the company doesn’t act ethically, it is the same problem overall.

All of this ties back to the concept presented at the beginning of my blog, Micro-Weather. You see Micro-Weather is a confederation of home weather stations sharing information with each other. It is a two-way conversation that both sides gain value. 

Be careful when you review people that you are ethical, fair and considerate. What you are destroying is a career. What you are creating is an enemy. It is truly being a micro-manager.