Unintended Casualty Of Smart Phones

I was recently digging through and cleaning out some old boxes that I had packed after graduating college. As I was making keep, sell and trash piles, I discovered that I had accumulated four alarm clocks whilst in college. First thought, why did I need this many alarm clocks, second thought, when is the last time I actually used an alarm clock?

My wife and I have an alarm clock in our bedroom, but it sits on my dresser, is turned facing the wall, and last I checked it was flashing 12:00. I occasionally think about setting it, but then I pull out iPhone and check the time and move on.

Seeing this (which I believe the % to be low) status: 65 percent of adults sleep with their cell phone next to their bed in my Twitter feed got me to thinking that the alarm clock in a casualty of smart phones. I use my iPhone for my clock and alarm. It’s usually in my pocket or at minimum within reach, it also got me to thinking what other items are intentional or unintentional casualties of the smart phone.

Leave a comment with the items that once were seen as necessities or important to have that, due to smart phones, are something that are (or soon to be) long and forgotten.

Minified Desktop Using GeekTool

I recently was pointed to GeekTool by a good friend. I really didn’t get the hype but decided I would dive in and see what all it could do.

If you aren’t familiar with GeekTool, it basically is a MAC OSX app that allows for simple command line scripts to place items on your desktop. Some of the more intricate scripts can show your your HDD capacity and available RAM. Combined with a little graphic styling, you can really turn your desktop into something you might see out of a sci-fi movie.

I am a bit more simplistic when it comes to my desktop. I abhor cluttered desktops. Not only is your desktop not a folder to store every file you’ve worked on in the past 2 years, it just doesn’t make sense not to organize you workspace. Ok, so maybe I get a tad bit OCD when it comes to my GUI.

You (as I did) can start off with GeekTools by downloading “Geeklets” and adding them through GeekTools interface. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of Geeklets, so chances are anything you think would be cool to have on your desktop, it’s probably already been done. Visit the Geeklet repository here.

Once you’ve become a little more comfortable with using GeekTools and adding Geeklets, you imagination is really the limit on what you can do to your desktop.

As I mentioned, I prefer a clutter-free workspace, so after learning a bit more about GeekTools and Geeklets I went for the minified version of things. And, honestly I usually have a window open so for me I didn’t need all the bells and whistles that were just going to be hidden by a window anyway.

My current desktop

As you can see I’ve started with a simple calendar and clock as the focus of my desktop. This is actually three different Geeklets just sitting on top of each other. The dateline, day and time all update just the same as the clock on my taskbar would/does. The only other thing I really wanted was the ability to look up in the midst of a long web design/development session and see what track was playing on Spotify. I tend to listen to a lot of random playlists so there is frequently a new song/artist that I like and want to remember. Before if I missed the Growl notification I would have to open Spotify to discover this info. This usually led to me being distracted. Now all I have to do is look up and bam there is my “now playing.” Once again this is actually 3 Geeklets all sitting on top on one another.

Like my desktop or just want to use some of the geeklets for your own custom desktop? Grab them from my Github.

 

Apple Needs A Game Changer For The iPhone

The original iPhone was a game changer when it came to smartphones. At the time the first iPhone came out, Blackberry (which I was using) was the king of the smartphones. Now that I think about it, maybe the term “smartphone” isn’t the best term to describe the original smartphones– maybe “sophisticated phone” is a more accurate term… but I digress.

Anyway, back to the original iPhone. When it came out it changed the perception of what a phone could be and do. Up until the iPhone; touch screen tech was something largely relegated to the sci-fi world or on really expensive and poor resolution point-of-sale systems, browsing (even on the most expensive of smartphones) the internet was an awful experience,  music and games (in a portable sense) were dedicated to a different device like an MP3 player/iPod or Nintendo DS/PSP, and video was solely a desktop/laptop luxury.

Now notice I didn’t say anything about the phone function itself. Apple realized that phone technology wasn’t the selling point for the iPhone. Rather being able to make a call from the same device that you use to browse the internet, watch a video, play a game or listen to music was a benefit. Apple understood that, in large part, the technology of the “phone” was limited to the provider and any cell phone on the market could make a phone call the same as the iPhone.

June 29, 2013 will mark the six year anniversary of the original release date for the iPhone. Looking back on the iPhone then versus the newest release, iPhone 5, one might even be inclined to lump the original iPhone into that sophisticated category I proposed earlier. As the popular Loretta Lynn song says, “we’ve come a long way baby.”

While the iPhone was a game changer it was only natural that others were going to attempt to capitalize on the success. Not long after the iPhone hit the streets, other manufactures were pumping out their answer to the iPhone. None really matched up, even the Android OS based phones were seen as flops at first… we won’t even talk about the Windows Mobile based smartphones.

The thing that Apple did really well was to make the iPhone really simple to use. Yes, for your 80 year old grandmother it might have been difficult, but overall the iPhone was a turn it on and use it device. This is mainly due to the proprietary and restrictive nature that Apple (sans jailbreaking) has maintained on the iOS platform. Apple saw how miserable it was to get an add-on or app that actually worked for the Blackberry, and they also knew Flash was buggy, full of security loopholes, and most importantly a dying format. Keeping in mind that Apple has always been about usability, they were a bit communistic with their approach, but knew people would be more apt to live with restrictions if the product was solid.

Tthere was harmony for a short while and people lived with the native apps and used those hacky webapps when they wanted to add something more. Remember Steve Jobs never intended for their to be an App Store. His push was for developers to build apps in Ajax that could be run in the Safari mobile browser. While it was never intended, thanks to some cranky developers and people jailbreaking their phones, Apple change the game again with the introduction of the App Store.

They, unlike other mobile OS developers, decided to have strict control over apps that got added. Some look at this as Apple being over reaching, but I see it more as a quality control issue. Yes, from time to time there are some apps that get approved that are pieces of crap, but the “crapps” are far fewer than the good ones.

With the introduction of the App Store, Apple had not only changed the smartphone game, they had also changed the game for so many other things. Things like online marketing, branding, shopping, social media, you name it… there’s an app for that.

However, since the App Store, Apple hasn’t really done much to change the game. They’ve had a few bright innovations (notification center / social integration) here and there with each iOS release, but most the things that Apple saw being “game changers” were complete fails (Apple Maps) or at minimum overhyped additions (Siri).

From the original iPhone to the iPhone 5 not much has changed at a 50,000 foot view. The look of the phone is pretty much the same, the screen has gotten larger and higher resolution, but still isn’t edge to edge, and the iOS platform (unless you jailbreak) is still restrictive. Some (I am one) might argue that the iPhone 5 is just the original iPhone with a supercharger and some body work.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like my iPhone. I switched to an Android phone for one day between the original iPhone and the 3Gs. It only took me that one day to realize how much better the iPhone was.

Even though I still believe the iPhone to be the best of the best when it comes to smartphones, I think if Apple wants to maintain that reputation it needs another game change innovation.

I don’t have a billion dollar brain or the intimate working knowledge of the R&D process like those up in Cupertino, so I won’t pretend to know what the game changer is or needs to be. Maybe it isn’t just one thing. Maybe it is a consortium of things like removing the home button from the screen and putting it on the right edge so you can have edge-to-edge screen display, or a redesign to allow for larger keypad input, or making all the buttons touch vs push. But even with all those changes it still doesn’t fuel my desire for a total paradigm shift that we saw with the original iPhone.

As I said, I’m not sure what the game changer is, but Apple better hurry it up, Android is in the race and catching up fast.

10 Types Of People That Ruin Twitter

#10: #teamfollowback

#9: 700 tweets, 1 follower, following 10K

#8. Users of Auto DM after a follow

#7: people who have 0 original tweets

#6. People who RT 50 times in 5 mins

#5: People who never RT

#4: People send the same tweet & change the ID

#3. “Just joined twitter. Not sure how to use it.”

#2: racists, biggots, hate mongers, etc..

1: Most celebrities

Banner Advertising… Not As Bad As You Read/Think

If you were to read the latest stats on banner ads you might be tempted to just pull that plug and let your banner ads die a quick death.

Don’t believe me? Check this out 15 Alarming Stats About Banner Ads.

Ok, so banner ads are everywhere.

Yes banner blindness is real.

Yes CTRs on banner ads are traditionally low. 

Even though there are some high negatives to banner ads, that doesn’t make them a bad form of online advertising. If done properly and with leveled expectations banners can actually be a cost-friendly and effective form of advertising online.

Here are few suggestions when it comes to banner ads that I have implemented that seem to be making a difference.

1. Focus on the “branding” of the banner vs. the potential conversion of the banner. 

Spread the gospel of branding throughout your management/ownership team. It’s not the easiest task to convince numbers people that branding is a wise investment. After all, branding and banner advertising is not a zero sum game. Not every impression is going to correlate into a lead/conversion/sale.

If you can level the field of expectations and convince people that branding still matters then a large portion of your battle is won.

2. Design your banners with “click intent” in mind.

Far too often I see banners where the entire banner is clickable, even the first several frames before the viewer even knows what this banner is for or who it is about. Why in the world would you want someone to click on your banner before they even are aware of a need to click?

Beyond that, depending on the location (relative to the top of the page or other actionable item on the page) of your banner, you could be suffering from accidental clicks. While you really don’t pay for those clicks because most banner ads are CPM vs CPC, you still are effecting other items. SEO anyone? Bounce rates, time on site, pages visited all suffer from accidental or premature clicks.

In Flash and HTML5 ads, most online advertising sources allow for specific elements or a CTA button to be the only clickable item. Refine your ad design and set those clickTAGs to be button/element based. Even better don’t even offer a clickable option until the static frame.

3. Be diligent about segmenting and knowing where your ads are being run. 

Sans a remarketing campaign, you should really know the sites your ads are appearing on. For example, if you are selling tennis shoes, the chances of someone being on a site about cooking being interested in your product isn’t very likely. Dig deep in the data and start taking granular control over the networks and site placements for your ads.

Yes, it is tedious, but it is worth it.

4. Speak to your audience!

Seems like common sense, but there are far more ads that are targeted to the general masses vs. targeted ads. If you can come to a point where you put down the ego and realize that your product/service is going to be for everyone then you’re doing better than 75% of the other marketers out there.

Once you get passed trying to craft a desing/message for the masses and can just focus on your target audience then your ads become much more meaningful and powerful. In other words, focus on crafting your ads for the .01% rather than the 99.9%. If you can create a message that sticks with that .01% then you’re ads will produce much better results.

5. Trial and error & A/B testing.

I’ve seen several companies get to the end of their first banner ad campaign and look at the numbers and dollars spent and just throw their hands up in disgust. That is really an unfair way to look at things and it’s a huge disservice to your company.

Rarely does someone get it right on the first try. The best hitters and baseball take 1000’s of practice swings just to hit .250 in a season. An author doesn’t sit down and knock out a best-seller without some major rewrites and edits. So unless you just luck out, you need to have some patience and try different things out. You’ll eventually hit a home run but not without some strikeouts along the way. 

Don’t just create one ad with one message. Change the look, change the message, change the timing, change the last frame. Test, test, test!

Of course not everyone has the luxury of having an in-house team to build ads. So before you contract someone to build your ads have a game plan. Know in advance that you are going to try 3 or 4 different ads. 

Side note: Be sure to make at least one of your ads static.

Conclusion:

In the end, only you can be the judge over how successful banner ads are for your company. No survey or article online should sway your decision. Banner ads aren’t going to be for everyone or every company, but you won’t know unless you actually try it.

Intexticated Driving

I will admit I am guilty of texting while driving. I haven’t done it in it a long time, but still that is no excuse for past bad behaviors.

I agree that it is a problem, and something needs to be done to curtail and eliminate texting while operating a vehicle.

That said, I don’t believe passing a law that makes it illegal is of any value. Speeding is illegal, not wearing a seatbelt is a law, being drunk an driving is illegal, but people break those laws all the time. It’s obvious that a law, while a preventive measure, doesn’t eliminate the illegal activity.

Beyond that, the law has to be enforced, and really aren’t there more important things we want our police to be focused on?

Not only is it an issue on the illegal and enforcement front, studies have shown that in places where texting while driving has been made illegal that the accident rate (attributed to texting) has gone up. Why? Because people hide the phone below the line-of-sight and thus slowing reaction time even more than already reduced by normal texting and driving.

I’ve been doing some thinking about an easy and effective way to eliminate texting while driving. My answer is to install some type of jamming device that turns on when the car is put into gear. Make it so if it was bypassed or disabled that the engine wouldn’t start.

This could be a market device and also installed after-market on most any car that dates post 1990 that is heavily dependent on electronics to operate the vehicle.

I am not attempting to say this is a flawless solution, but it seems much more effective than making it illegal to be intexticated.

What are your thoughts?

Onward and Upward - 2013

As we enter the final hour (CST) of 2012 and the first hours of 2013, I am reflecting on the year.

Personally it has been one of struggle and strife, ups and downs, good and bad; truly the definition of yin & yang. From losing my job to being rehired 11 months later to finding out about the new addition to our family and then going through the struggles of finding out he isn’t growing like he should.

As a believer I have the ability to cling to the hope that tomorrow will be better than today, and that ultimately GOD is in control over everything.

As we enter 2013 I pray that you are blessed and that you prosper. I pray that our new boy is born healthy. I pray that the struggles of 2012 remain in 2012.

Happy New Year!