Saturday, June 7, 2014

Coffee, Music, Wifi… Work!

 Saturday mornings I drop my daughter off for her job feeding horses and I head to the local Panera to crank through a few hours of writing.

And, what do I do first?

Coffee! Because no matter how often I do this, I am still not a morning person. 

Music! Because coffee isn’t enough to get the neurons firing. This morning it’s Husker Du

Wifi!  Because… Well, really I have no real reason for needing Wifi.

Everything I should be working on is already on this laptop: Notes, Files, & Applications.  Everything but the human connection. What is missing is the ritual of checking social media, the latest news, and affirming my place in the herd.

Morning ritual complete, now on to work. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

CLI is to Desktop as Desktop is to Mobile

Reliable Internet Troubleshooting Agent c. 1998
Command line interfaces are great for managing systems. The reason Sys Admins love command line interfaces is because they are simple, scriptable and accessible. Thanks to SSH, they did not have to be tied to a single machine - ever.

CLIs are mediocre for managing Data Centers.   A good UX that provides information on many systems visually is an selling point for even the most jaded of BOFHs. You'd never use your system CLI as the starting point in developing the Desktop app, would you?

Then why do you think a responsive browser interface is enough for mobile?  

A responsive web page is a proof of concept, not a design. Some things I've noticed lately.

  1. Use Case details matter. Your user is mobile for a reason. The experience of checking an alert over a pint is not the same as standing next to the CEO explaining why file & sync isn't working.    
  2. The experience changes when I rotator type. The available space is different.
  3. Hands are different. Zoom, swipe, & drag can be better than point & click.    
  4. Bandwidth! I want to use as little as possible to get what I need done. 
  5. Security. Most of the devices are BYOD. Build in the safeguards from day one. 
Break out of the box. Your customers already are. 

I'm certain there is a better set of rules out there... Comments & Pointers welcome! 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Easy to Write = Most Popular

Foo's Paradox: 

The blog post that took the least time gets the most attention. [1]

Words are not precious. 

 I am willing to bet that the average reading speed has increased - certainly the pace of creation has.
Save the angst over a well crafted sentence for your first novel.

Making a connection matters. 

Having a point of view is most important. We still crave human connection. This is a cocktail party. Loosen up and say something that gets that girl (or guy) talking to you. Wouldn't you rather be known as the interesting one?

This does not go on your Permanent Record. 

These words may exist forever on a hard drive, but I'm writing for right now, not for humanity. The Internet is a great trash heap and there are no grades.

Stop worrying  and get writing...

[1] : I saw this quote on Twitter, but don't know to whom to attribute it. 

Friday, April 25, 2014


Passing the Scan Test 

With dozens of different presentations, web pages and white papers for different companies in the last few months, I always use the Scan Test.

What did I see First? 

  • Where did my eye go?
  • What was communicated there?
  • Did it actually say anything? 

And, why did I put a picture, change fonts, italics or underline it? 

Did I use a picture to draw the eye down the page....

To where we really communicate what is different and important about this particular product to this particular person and create an emotional attachment or intellectual resonance with the viewer?

Or should we have just used a graphic and accepted that few people read?

On the other hand, I focus on B2B Technology Marketing. Most of my customers actually care about their technology, their job, and their reputation. The people I want to reach are highly-connected information junkies. They read a lot, write often, and value their time.

To reach them, we must provide the in-depth explanation of what, how, and why of the product, the use case and the architecture behind it to be credible. The presentation must be concise with the ability to drill further in the areas where the reader is curious.

 So I write and I edit and a make certain that when you scan, you get something valuable.

Never a Wall of Text...

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Heartbleed: Open Source Branding

We all know Heartbleed, the branded, logged version of CVE-2014-0160. The logo is everywhere.

Codenonmicon claims independent discovery of the bug, but they get undisputed credit for branding Heartbleed. The branding package was simple: The name, the logo, a branded URL and a page that clearly communicated the situation in simple text. 

Rather than protect the considerable Intellectual Property a great name and logo represent, Codenonmicon provided the logo with No Rights Reserved. At this point, even the most jaded IP lawyer will recognize CC0.

As a result there are hundreds of millions of instances out there. The value of that is staggering.

It is a brilliant example of the ease of Open Source Branding.

Not everyone can or should Open Source Intellectual Property. My test of whether to do so is very simple:

  1. When it's value increases with adoption. 
  2. When it is not core to your company's value proposition
  3. When you are willing to take responsibility for it. 

Codenonmicon is not in the logo or naming business. They are security specialists who happened into a great idea with a good designer, but I'm now one of the hundreds of millions of links pointing back to their web site. Well done!

Some facts:

  • On April 19th, 2014 Google Image search returns about 512 Million instances of the logo on the web. 
  • Searching for CVE-2014-0160, returns just over 1.5 Million pages
  • The Wikipedia article has 693 edits in the 9 days since it was created. 
  • The Heartbleed logo is provided under Creative Commons CC0 license: No Rights Reserved
  • Heartbleed is an exploit of the Heatbeat function of SSL.
  • Codenonmicon is clearly a play on Cryptonomicon.   
I should not have to explain what Cryptonomicon is... 

Friday, April 4, 2014

I miss Snail Mail.

Checking the mail meant something different when the postman was your connection to the outside. no matter how impatient you are for the news, you could only check it in a relatively short window - maybe an hour or two each day as you anticipated the daily rounds of your letter carrier. 
These days, you can pretend to be doing something when all you are really doing is waiting for the mail.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The View from Outside

I'm working with Marshall van Allstyne's students on a start-up business model. I've learned a lot just trying to transfer knowledge. It is the opposite of explaining to your Grandmother what you do for a living.

  • The students use modern analogues that I didn't think would fit.
    • Which helps me understand our product category. 
  • They don't value distribution.
    •  Which makes me rethink the sales cycle and cost of sales.
  • They assume reaching people is easy.
    • Which makes me rethink our marketing
It's all good.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

"It will work. I'm a Marketing Genius."

That quote is attributed to Paris Hilton. Yes really.... 

Sometimes, the only cure for writer's block (or typist's demotivation) is just to give up on quality and just pour bad stuff onto the page.

You are going to edit it anyway. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Early Customers are Easy

Your first sales prove almost nothing about your long term success. 

  • Someone you know loves your product vision. 
    • Because, you are highly connected to similar people.
  • They have a budget line item for you. 
    • Because, you use the pricing model of your established competitor.
  • You don't need good marketing, channel, support or even sales tools. 
    • Because, your best people are focused on making these sales.  

Your long-term success is predicated on learning from those early customers

  • Why this is their point-of-pain.
    • So you can imagine a _much_ better product or even a new category of solution.
  • How they value you.
    • So you can build a pricing model that puts your competitors at a disadvantage.
  • What they say about you
    • So you can help others Discover, Appreciate and Purchase your product.

Inspired by Rich Mironov's Keynote at Product Camp LA.