Saturday, June 30, 2012
This is a great article that sums it up in a nutshell. Hope you enjoy and be part of the solution.
Friday, June 29, 2012
Just a thought or two, hopefully this isn't the last the world sees of this truly innovative engine. Its original purpose was to offer a small, compact engine, produce adequate power and run smoothly. Over the years it did just that allowing Mazda to offer a limited production, high performance engine, for typical Mazda value added prices. (Really an exotic car engine, but because Mazda produced it for a relatively low MSRP, it lacked the cache of high end exotics.)
Due to its compact dimensions and smooth running nature, hopefully Mazda might consider a hybrid drivetrain, offering the (Wankel) engine, bolstered by the instant torque of electric motors with a smaller capacity rotary to keep things charged up. After reading about the new Tesla, it looks like the batteries are still too heavy, expensive and slow to charge. That might be ok for car makers appealing to the higher end of the market, but it must make it challenging for a manufacturer to produce a model thats affordable for the rest of us.
Come on Mazda, don't let us down, you've done it many times, giving the average guy a fun ride for reasonable dollars. Don't let all those long years of develpment to bring the rotary to market fade to dust.
Thursday, June 28, 2012
Updated to newest version of Google plus today, after reading Joshua Topolsky's tentative thumbs up. Here's my only peave so far and its a big one. I can see what the google plus team is trying to do and basically their ideas are pretty sound. Responsive layout, easily read comments, improved contact list and a fun (color) sliding menu. Nice, nice, nice, all very laudable, except on the main stream.
I only have one quetion. Whats with all the white space? Granted I use twitter and it is all about white space, but I flick past quick and its also just text. Somehow this new look bothers me. Had to think about it for the better part of the day, but now I have it.
Google, you spoiled me with the full (width) color and pictures, especially on iOS, and it (is) was bloody fantastic. So this is a major fail for me. New looks are fine by me as long as it makes sense. In the age of high res photos, quad core superphones and 720p displays, what are you guys thinking? Now I understand that probably there are a lot of people who will like this new layout and that my observation might be in the minority, but I don't think so. Otherwise people wouldn't care about retina displays, big badass SLR's and iPads.
Backlit displays with vast amounts of white screen spaces never did it for me, not even when I was on a PC. Come to think of it, thats why screensavers and desktop images are so pleasing to the eye and judging by how many people download content like this, I'm not alone.
On newspapers it makes sense, cause newspapers don't have "backlit" displays. They don't have a lighting source at all except maybe the sun or a lightbulb. I'm sure back when candles were the biggest, baddest tech, it made sense. White things reflected light. Now? Not so much. Thanks guys, like most of it, but ditch the backwards compatible stuff, ok? Remember, I love big screens, great colors and an expansive backdrop as much as the next guy. Please remember that before the 1080p displays come out and 4k. Thanks
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Will Apple's strategies eventually turn off its loyal customer base by demonizing other manufacturers products through patents?
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
A few changes Facebook made over the last week or so. Concerning is the change of a users email address without their permission. Sound familiar? It should. Read on and find out and more.
Monday, June 25, 2012
I like Blackberry. There I've said it. But then I like lots of things. I like tech, phones and variety, in all things, just like a lot of people. But if I were to pass on a few thoughts to the current CEO of RIM, here's what I would say.
I understand that your position of your company is probably at its most critical in quite some time, but take heart, all is not lost. Its a big step for RIM to develop a new eco system, a new image, maybe even a new culture, however don't forget a few key points.
Its great to have killer new hardware, but don't go gigantic like the new SSG3, there is such a thing as too big. If it feels like its going to fall out of my hand, I'm going to get a lot of anxiety, and put it down. Oh and sexy is important, otherwise all cars would be K cars.
Please, its nice to have a killer display, but when I'm snapping pics outside and I can't see didly through the high detail screen, not so great, even if it has a killer camera
Have a killer camera, blackberry camera's in a word, suck. Oh and the whole corporate control thing, you already have the tools for controlling camera's.
Games, games, games....and more games.
Don't pull a Microsoft, make sure it works all the time, everytime, especially at your intro. Bluescreen, shiver, shiver. Surface anyone?
Have relevant features, not everything is useful, thats what app selection is for. The BB button is good, twenty sub menu's bad. Let Nokia do sub menu's and where are they now?
Data usage is going to be big bucks, try not to turn BB10 into a data hog. In case you haven't noticed, providers are offering less data for more money.
Oh yeah, last but not least, hype your products effectively, you already have many great features, but your marketing department needs a swift kick. No hype no glory. Some of the things like customizing your phone is getting a lot of hype for android or iOS these days, but RIM had it long before. Did your users use it, or even know about it? Oh and while I'm on that particular vein of thought, stop hyping until your ready, its hard to read about it over and over, get excited only to find, that its not going to be there. Remember BB playbook anyone. Apple does deliver, don't forget to deliver. Undersell, over deliver.
Use a common sense approach, but if your having a bad day, ask a ten year old for guidance, their honest. If grand aunt peach can't figure out how to use the interface....fail. Then its not an interface. Remember, people covet what they like or love. Covet.
Fluidity, ease of use, reliability and innovation win the day.
And yeah typing on a BB is still the best....
If you need help from an outsiders point of view, look me up, or if you just want to share the wealth of your developments, I am your man . I love Canadian. Go RIM go.
Interesting how bgr broke his blackberry, wait a minute, the same guy who fawns over iPhones, disses big screen androids and calls BB old and lame? The price of fame....
Here's a look at Australia and their currency
Sunday, June 24, 2012
With another American bank ready to pull its service out of middle class America, is it any wonder why the economy is struggling? What happened to the capitalist idea that more business is better business?
Saturday, June 23, 2012
What a season! Seven winners, seven different races. Its interesting to note Alonso's reaction, just after announcements earlier in the week of how Ferrari was happy with their progress. Of note is how tight the times were in qualifying for the top ten. Best yet in my opinion.
Friday, June 22, 2012
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Monday, June 18, 2012
Sunday, June 17, 2012
Venture Capital Rush Coming to Canada: American Investors Find Canadian Startup Ecosystem 'Sexy' Venture capitalists from the US and Canada reunited in Montreal last week during the annual conference CVCA conference. "Whenever you see an imbalance between investment opportunities and capital available, you have a sexy place. And now, Canada fits this definition," said Paul Ferris, Azure Capital Partners, a venture capital firm based in Silicon Valley. A panel entitled "Is Canada Sexy Now?" brought an unanimous “Yes” answer among those whose job is to bet money on the most promising technology companies in the hope of home-run investments. It should put the inferiority complex of technology entrepreneurs in Canada on the shelf. "Yes, … http://www.techvibes.com/blog/venture-capital-rush-coming-to-canada-american-investors-find-canadian-startup-ecosystem-sexy-2012-05-29
Apple I fetches $374.5K at Sotheby's auction, Steve Jobs Atari note goes for $27.5k Here's an update for all the collectors of vintage Apple Computer-wares out there. If you'll recall, it was a few weeks back when Sotheby's announced it would auction off an Apple 1 motherboard, cassette interface and its BASIC programming manual, originally set to fetch upwards of $180,000. Just this week, the hand-built piece of computing history from 1979 was sold to one lucky phone bidder for an even more massive $374,500. As Apple Insider notes, the computer is one of six that's accounted for out of 50 that are likely still out there -- ensuring these will only remain for folks with deep pockets indeed. Past that, a hand-written note from Steve Jobs during his time at Atari was also on the auction block, garnering $27,500 even though it was only estimated to sell for less than half that price. Knowing the cost of collecting a premiere piece (arguably) from the fruits of Woz and Jobs, it certainly makes that new MacBook Pro with Retina display seem like a grand bargain in comparison. Details at the links below. http://www.engadget.com/2012/06/17/sothebys-apple-i-steve-jobs-atari-note-auction-results/
Raising capital online: The new thundering herd Raising capital online The new thundering herd Wanted: small sums of money to finance young companies. Click here to invest PEBBLE, a watch that displays messages from the wearer’s iPhone, may not be a record-holder for long. The $10.3m raised last month from 68,929 people after Pebble’s inventors posted a pitch on Kickstarter, a “crowdfunding” website, dwarfed the previous high of $3.3m set in March by Double Fine Adventure, a video game (see chart 1). Until February, no project had raised $1m. Now seven have. This “feels like an inflection point”, says Yancey Strickler, a founder of Kickstarter, a site where anyone with an idea can ask the crowd for small sums of money that, added up, can bring it to fruition. Crowdfunding is booming. A report by Massolution, a research firm, forecasts that $2.8 billion will be raised worldwide this year, up from $1.5 billion in 2011 and only $530m in 2009 (see chart 2). There are over 450 “crowdfunding platforms”, including four in China, up from under 100 in 2007, with Kickstarter America’s largest. This month Indiegogo, its closest rival (though global and with a broader mix of projects), secured the biggest chunk of venture capital so far for crowdfunding. The effect of this has perhaps been most marked in the creative arts: around 10% of the films shown at the Sundance and Cannes festivals this year were crowdfunded, says Mr Strickler. Charity is benefiting, too. But America’s recent Jumpstart Our Business Start-ups (JOBS) Act is raising hopes that crowdfunding will also transform the way in which firms raise capital. Duncan Niederauer, the boss of NYSE Euronext, claims that, properly done, it “will become the future of how most small businesses are going to be financed”. Is the hype justified? From fad to finance Talk of crowdfunding as a short-lived fad has largely ceased, as evidence mounts that lots of people value personal engagement with projects they help to finance. “People increasingly want humanity with their technology,” says Caterina Fake, an early investor in Kickstarter. Hitherto people have opened their wallets for three main reasons: “caring about the person or company; wanting the product; or being part of a community,” says Slava Rubin, a founder of Indiegogo. Adding profit as a motive will bring fresh challenges. Raising money from strangers requires a lot of effort to gain their trust. One indica … http://www.economist.com/node/21556973
Now that Visa mobile has been established....what are your thoughts?
Fathers: How to Raise Entrepreneurs Five things you can do to prepare your children for the life of an entrepreneur. If you're reading this article, chances are you're either an entrepreneur or someone who aspires to be one. At the very least, you're intrigued and impressed by the aspirations of entrepreneurship. And while we don't think that entrepreneurship necessarily has to have anything to do with starting and running a business--it's more about the pursuit of opportunity wherever it lies, regardless of what resources you control at the outset--you probably evaluate entrepreneurs in some way based on the success of the start-ups they've launched. Of course you would. And if you value the ideals of entrepreneurship, chances are you wouldn't mind your kids growing up to become entrepreneurs. In other words, if you can't grow up to become Bill Gates, it's not so bad to be his entrepreneurial father William H. Gates, Sr. We've had the chance to know, teach, and interview hundreds upon hundreds of successful entrepreneurs over the last decade. And at times we've had the chance to ask them what they think it was about their upbringing that enabled them in the end to pursue the entrepreneurial life. There were many replies, of course, but we identified a few commonalities. If you want to grow your kids into entrepreneurs, be sure that you... 1. Encourage them to have diverse career experiences. Change is the only constant. It's a lesson that many of the top entrepreneurs we talked with learned early in life. Their jobs never became their identities, because they had held many different jobs. From the Hollywood producer who had been … http://www.inc.com/jon-burgstone/how-raise-your-kids-to-be-entrepreneurs.html
Saturday, June 16, 2012
Reading this article illustrates two things to me.
A) That the business minded are short sighted
B) That established methods of controlling others is still in the dark ages
Here's why....For the business minded, is it neccessary to throw the lives of others away so easily, after all they were your customers not long before, when they had a job and money. The same ones whom you spent millions reaching and retaining? With this ongoing social shift, are you not eventually going to lose a significant market share with those who can no longer afford the lifestyle. Basic math, less people = smaller market. Where will you and your business be if you keep losing customers. Its hard to gain market if only a small percentage of people can afford to do so.
And where have the values gone that made North America strong and prosperous? Where everyone lived more equally than the rest of the world.....that the rest of the world admired and dreamed of living the said lifestyle? Am I missing something here? Will the business world make the same mistakes as the music industry, where too much control equalled being eventually ignored and perhaps reviled?
Most importantly, I believe that North America is still the place to be, but the rest of the world is changing fast and evolving. We will no longer be considered the hub of higher thinking, innovation or culture. Do we really want to be left behind, especially with our seemingly devolving sense of community, where before it was good to help neighbors and friends in times of need. Loyalty has its merits, no one is more grateful and loyal than one who has received in times of great difficulties. And any business knows that loyalty is key to a successful long term business relationship. One other thing, I agree with Steve Jobs, creativity is just connecting things....
Please enjoy the article,
The War on Poverty's New Tactic: Outlaw Homelessness Cities nationwide are using tactics to battle the encroachment of homelessness on their streets and public spaces. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joel-john-roberts/war-on-poverty-homelessness_b_1590847.html
Coinstar is Kicking Netflix's Butt Shares of Netflix (NFLX) got off to a smoking start this year after a nightmarish 2011. But like the rest of the market (and especially momentum stocks), Netflix has come crashing back to Earth. The stock is now actually down almost 10% in 2012. Do investors think that the video market is dead? Not necessarily. Take a look at Coinstar (CSTR). The owner of the bargain DVD rental kiosk service Redbox is having a banner year. Shares are up nearly 40%. What gives? Well, I think one reason is that Coinstar, which also operates its namesake coin counting machines in mass market retailers, may be benefiting from the weakness in the economy. A monthly subscriptio … http://finance.yahoo.com/news/coinstar-is-kicking-netflix-s-butt.html
Friday, June 15, 2012
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Despite Toyota's recent announcement to stop the production of the Lexus Lh 250h model, now they are showing a vigorous commitment to hybrid efficiency and technology. Its nice to see renewed Toyota's commitment especially in light of recent headlines regarding waning public interest in purchasing advanced automotive technologies.
by JOHN BIGGS posted 39 Minutes AgoThere will be plenty of bits spilled over the next few days about whether Apple is going extinct, whether Jobs’ touch was integral to the Apple experience, and whether this was “The.Worst.Keynote.Ever.” I posit, however, that Apple still has a few good years left and this keynote (now available here) – a precise and well-orchestrated experience dedicated mostly to software – is proof that the Apple vision runs far deeper than the efforts of a figurehead CEO.To be clear, I despise the fawning adulation given Apple by the tech press. It’s made the company weird and twisted – at least when it comes to media relations – and it gives fans far too much currency in the game of “My computer is better.” Arguably no one else comes close to the ridiculous lengths fans and anti-fans will go to praise or excoriate this company and I assure you that Samsung or Sony execs would give up their private jets and personal chefs for just one ounce of the excitement associated with the Retina MacBook, but that’s another story.Apple still has it for a number of reasons. First, they are still innovating on the hardware side. The smart among you will note that the Retina screen resolution and pixel density isn’t particularly new in theory but in practice, and in a laptop, it’s quite a stunning feat. There are plenty of 1440×900 laptops but, like the iPad’s retina display, the implementation is far more exciting than the actual technology.What people consistently fail to understand when it comes to hardware manufacturing is that the vast majority of high tech products produced by Samsung, Motorola, RIM, etc. are mostly built of off-the-shelf designs and are dictated by the vagaries of the market and by the decisions made by Microsoft, Intel, and other major suppliers. Apple hardware is dictated by part availability and price but, in most cases, they are not stymied by parts manufacturers. Apple never buys the “latest and greatest” i.e. the latest graphics cards and chipsets and the best processors. They buy what works for the line-up at that time. Apple also doesn’t have to emblazon their laptops with badges and stickers, either, because it doesn’t play by OEM rules.So for the company to release a high-res laptop and to move entirely to SSD shows that it is still in the lead. Four months from now, for back-to-school season, you can be almost guaranteed to see a MacBook Pro clone from HP, Sony, and Dell with “HD Super Display” and “Super Fast Flash Drives.” Once Apple takes a technology mainstream, the rest of the manufacturers can easily inject it into their line-ups.Second, the company is still innovating in software. Naysayers will point to Windows 8 and Metro as the best OS available but, arguably, it’s not yet available and isn’t expected for months – if not years. Mountain Lion adds a number of useful iterative features and supports the new hardware features. The Safari update brings features that power users have been looking for and while it probably won’t draw me away from Chrome, it definitely looks promising.iOS 6, on the other hand, looks to be a must-have. The Map update looks amazing and the various syncing improvements as well as apps like PassBook (an NFC precursor if I’ve ever seen one) make sense in terms of software continuity.We can complain all we want about the missing iPhone 5 and Apple’s refusal to respect their set top box or their desktop machines but in the end this is Apple doing what Apple does best: creating a spectacle around what at any other company would warrant maybe a team kegger and cookout for a software or hardware job well done. Apple’s magic is still there, whether we like it or not, and it will take an awful lot of failure to deplete the excitement, goodwill, and fanaticism the company has engendered over the past decade.
Monday, June 11, 2012
Saturday, June 9, 2012
Friday, June 8, 2012
What Amazon’s new Kindle line means for Apple, Netflix and online media — GigaOM Pro - http://pro.gigaom.com/2011/09/what-amazons-new-kindle-line-means-for-apple-netflix-and-online-media/?utm_source=pulse&utm_medium=content&utm_campaign=syndication&utm_term=530183+microsoft-paints-azure-with-open-source-brush&utm_content=microsoft-paints-azure-with-open-source-brush_530183
Thursday, June 7, 2012
BGR: Netflix passes Apple to take lead in online movie business http://goo.gl/mag/vsFvn
Despite all the headlines surrounding Apple these days, the Mac refresh, blocking Samsung tablets, then their upcoming S3, sueing Motorola and HTC, I find it a bit of a surprise that Microsoft has chosen to block HTC from participating in the upcoming Windows launch. Hope its not true. Tell me what you think.
Ubergizmo: Microsoft to thwart HTC from using Windows 8? [Rumor] http://goo.gl/mag/Jaf4S
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
F1: Grand Prix News Briefs (Update 2)
Ferrari has denied claims that driver Fernando Alonso is grossly overpaid...
SPEED Staff / GMM | Posted June 06, 2012
Ferrari Denies Alonso Paid EUR 30M: Ferrari has denied claims it pays Fernando Alonso a cool EUR 30 million per season. A French publication called Business Book GP 2012 had claimed the Spaniard is easily F1's highest paid driver, with earnings almost equal to McLaren's drivers put together. "A shame then that it's another case of utter balderdash," Ferrari's anonymous website reporter known as The Horse Whisperer said. The columnist said Ferrari is "always put on top" in money matters, but "the reality is very different." The famous Italian team has also rejected the latest round of speculation about the identity of Alonso's 2013 teammate. When asked if the struggling Felipe Massa will be replaced, president Luca di Montezemolo told CNN: "In this moment my concentration is everywhere except the drivers. It's too early in the season, and we will see after that." Montezemolo said he was pleased to see the Brazilian perform strongly in Monaco recently, but also indicated Massa's place in the Ferrari hierarchy is clear. "I count on him to take off points for Fernando's competitors," he said.GP Circuits Create Union To Influence F1 Rules: Formula One's circuits have created a union designed to give them a greater say on the future of the sport, according to business journalist Christian Sylt. He revealed in the Independent newspaper that the Formula One Promoters Association, created in May, is chaired by Australian Grand Prix chief Ron Walker. Last year, it emerged that —led by Walker —F1's race promoters were threatening to switch to IndyCar because the new six cylinder engines in 2014 will not be loud enough. Now, Silverstone chairman Neil England has confirmed the founding of the F1 circuits' union. "We have historically lacked a coordinated voice, and the Formula One promoters association gives us the opportunity to have that. There are a number of matters of common interest, and I think it is important that those are voiced," he said. The formation of the circuits' union coincides with the negotiations over the next Concorde Agreement. "The circuits' desire to have a say in (the technical regulations) is the driving force behind their decision to unite," said journalist Sylt. Union chairman Ron Walker confirmed: "The circuits are concerned by the constant changing of rules by the FIA which is confusing the fans and affecting ticket sales." He revealed that a survey in March showed that 92 percent of the spectators at Albert Park this year did not understand F1's latest rules.Haug Tips Vettel To Hit Back At Webber: Was Monaco the turning point in Sebastian Vettel's so-far meteoric F1 career? "Not at all," Mercedes' Norbert Haug told the German news agency DPA on Wednesday. Almost two weeks ago in the famous Principality, it was Vettel's teammate Mark Webber who broke through with victory, meaning the Red Bull duo is now level-pegging in the championship. They are just three points from Fernando Alonso's lead. So does Webber's new form represent the turning poing for Vettel? "Sebastian did not win two World Championships by fluke," Haug insisted. Haug is also hoping lucky seven is on Mercedes' side in Canada this weekend. Like Webber, Michael Schumacher is also enjoying a new run of form, having secured the first pole of his F1 comeback in Monaco. Luck, however, has not been on his side in 2012, delivering him just two points so far. That's where lucky seven comes in. If he wins this year, 43-year-old Schumacher would be the unprecedented seventh different winner of the seventh race in a World Championship calendar. The great German has won seven titles, seven Grands Prix in Montreal, and he even carries the number on his silver racer. "The characteristics of the circuit should suit us, and we are counting on our car performing well there," said Schumacher.Massa To Use Monaco Setup In Canada: Although the complete opposite of Monaco, Felipe Massa on Tuesday was bound for Canada with his mind still firmly on the famous Principality. Trapped in a worsening slump since the start of the 2012 season, Massa's tumbling form had triggered speculation the Brazilian was fighting for his career in Monaco. But on those fabled streets, he appeared to turn the corner. "I really liked the car there," the 31-year-old said on Tuesday, "and it was working in the right direction to suit my style, and I hope this positive trend can continue, starting with the race in Canada and then through to the end of the championship." Indeed, Monaco was apparently such a turning point that his engineering team, led by Briton Rob Smedley, intends to use Massa's Monaco car setup as the foundation for this weekend, in spite of the diametrically opposed lines of Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Massa admitted that "the setup required for Monaco is very different to that at other tracks," but "even if the street circuit is unique, we can at least follow the direction we took there and make it work at other tracks. It might not be a normal situation, but maybe it is the best direction to go in to make the F2012 work for me," he added.Glock Back In Game After Season Slump: Still at the back of the grid, Timo Glock is nonetheless heading toward the middle of the 2012 season in a better mood. Earlier this year, still struggling for the third consecutive year to pull Marussia from the back of the pack, the highly-rated German appeared out of sorts. He was at war with his Cosworth-powered car, and being genuinely outpaced by his rookie teammate Charles Pic. "It was oversteering brutally," Glock told Auto Motor und Sport, "and after only a few laps the tires were done." The German suspected there was something fundamentally wrong with his chassis; a feeling confirmed when, at the Mugello test, he drove Pic's race car. Modifications were made for Barcelona, but Glock's problems persisted. "I even started to wonder if I had forgotten how to drive," Glock shrugged. Eventually, the mystery was solved, and a flaw in the rear suspension wishbone mountings fixed. At Monaco, he looked back in the game —once again dominating young Frenchman Pic in qualifying, and lacking just half a second to the nearest Caterham. And Glock's fastest race lap was just three tenths from a Caterham. The next big step is Silverstone, where the 2012 Marussia will enjoy a substantial upgrade. "If the data is right, then this is a really big step," said Glock.Vettel To Appear On Letterman: Sebastian Vettel will appear on David Letterman's famous New York talkshow 'Late Show' next week. The reigning and back-to-back world champion's appearance will be on Monday, the day after the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, a spokesman for the Red Bull team confirmed. The first US Grand Prix since 2007 will take place in November at the new Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Takuma Sato, a former F1 driver, drives for the IndyCar team co-owned by Bobby Rahal and Indianapolis-born Letterman.New Gov't Looking At French GP Revival: The attempted revival of the French Grand Prix is not yet dead in the water. Until former president Nicolas Sarcozy lost the country's recent general election, France looked destined for a spot on the 2013 calendar, with Paul Ricard set to alternate an annual race date with Belgium. But F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone admitted in Monaco: "I think maybe the election that has taken place might have put that back a bit. "I think you will have to wait and see if we see more. Only time will tell," said the 81-year-old. New president Francois Hollande had warned that he would "review" the F1 project if elected, his sports minister Valerie Fourneyron adding subsequently that the issue "deserves more attention than ten minutes". Indeed, Fourneyron appears to be honoring her promise to give the project more attention. The sports daily L'Equipe reports that she will meet early this week with Nicolas Deschaux, the president of France's motor racing sanctioning body FFSA (Federation Francaise du Sport Automobile).'Improving' Vettel Happy At Red Bull: After denying rumors of a Ferrari contract, Sebastian Vettel has now played down persistent suggestions he is eyeing a switch to the famous Italian team in the near future. "How will this work if I don't know anything about it?" the German smiled after authoritative British newspapers reported in Monaco that he had signed a pre-contract to move to Ferrari in 2014. But the rumors only gained strength when Red Bull's Helmut Marko confirmed the existence of a clause in Vettel's contract allowing the 24-year-old to leave under certain conditions at the end of 2013. "I'm fine where I am and I have no intention of leaving," Vettel is now quoted by La Presse newspaper ahead of the Canadian Grand prix.
In recent years, exchange-traded funds-commonly referred to as ETFs-have grown in popularity. For many investors, though, ETFs remain something of a mystery. With that in mind, here's an explanation aimed at demystifying ETFs and helping you decide whether they're a good fit for your portfolio.
Generally speaking, you can think of an ETF as a hybrid that blends the investment characteristics of an index mutual fund with the trading characteristics of stock shares.
"Since their inception in 1993, exchange-traded funds have grown rapidly as a convenient, low-cost means of gaining exposure to broad and niche markets," said Joel Dickson of Vanguard Investment Strategy Group.
"At the end of 2001, ETFs held a total of $83 billion in assets. By early 2012, that figure had soared to nearly $1.2 trillion," Mr. Dickson said, citing data from Simfund. "ETFs began as investments that facilitated intraday trading of broad segments of the markets. As time has passed, ETF providers have sliced and diced markets into increasingly smaller fragments."
How ETFs are like index funds Like index funds, most ETFs seek to track specific benchmarks and hold broadly diversified baskets of stocks and bonds. ETFs let you invest in an entire stock market or small segments of it. You can also buy ETFs that represent the entire bond market, international stocks and bonds, or specific industries or market sectors.
While most ETFs follow an indexing strategy, some are actively managed, use borrowed money (leverage), or invest in gold or currencies.
As with any investment, you should do a little homework before you buy. Many ETFs feature expense ratios on par with those of low-cost index funds. For example, Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF had an expense ratio of 0.05% in its 2011 fiscal year. The average expense ratio for ETFs across the industry (0.55%) is far lower than for mutual funds (1.12%), according to Lipper Inc. data as of December 31, 2011.
ETFs can also be very tax-efficient. Like mutual funds, ETFs must distribute income and realized capital gains annually, and these distributions are taxable to investors outside of tax-advantaged accounts. However, thanks to the low-turnover, buy-and-hold nature of the index approach, ETFs-like broad-based index funds-generally tend to distribute only modest capital gains, if any.
"ETFs can also be more efficient than traditional funds at reducing capital gains liability because they've been set up to take advantage of an in-kind redemption process," Mr. Dickson said. "In essence, redeeming shareholders receive securities instead of cash. The fund receives no gains from those transactions. This approach is available to traditional mutual funds as well, but it's not used as often.
"Vanguard developed our unique share class structure, in which the ETF is a separate share class of a traditional mutual fund, with an eye toward tax efficiency," he said. "Combining multiple share classes gives the fund a larger pool of assets, which can lead to broader diversification and lower costs, which in turn can lead to better pre-tax outcomes, in our view.
"This structure also helps us optimize the tax impact of fund redemptions," Mr. Dickson added. "Our goal is to maximize the realization of losses in the traditional share classes and remove positions with large unrealized gains through the in-kind mechanism for the ETF share class."
How ETFs are like stocks As with stocks, ETFs trade on an exchange. Shares can be bought and sold through a brokerage firm at any time during the trading day at the current market price. The net asset value (NAV) of a mutual fund, in contrast, is determined once a day after the market closes.
"Because ETFs trade on an exchange, there are some differences in flexibility in pricing between traditional mutual funds and ETFs," Mr. Dickson said. "With ETFs, if you want to buy only one share, you can buy that share at an intraday price, whereas with a traditional mutual fund there are often minimum investment requirements, and you get whatever the price happens to be at that day's market close, regardless of where the market has gone during the day."
Many investors find the flexibility of ETFs attractive, but there's reason to be cautious about frequent trading.
An ETF's price is determined not only by the securities it holds but by the factors of supply and demand in the market. Thus, ETFs may trade at prices above or below the net asset value of their holdings, meaning you could pay more or less than NAV when buying an ETF, or receive more or less when selling one. (It's worth noting, though that a built-in arbitrage mechanism is designed to keep the price of a domestic ETF share fairly close to its NAV.) There is also the hidden cost of the bid-ask spread-the difference between the price a dealer is willing to pay for a security (the bid price) and the somewhat higher price at which the dealer is willing to sell it (the ask price).
ETFs share additional aspects of stocks' trading flexibility. You can place limit and stop orders, sell short, and buy on margin. Further, many large brokers have eliminated commissions to buy and sell ETFs.
By Adrian Covert, Jun 6, 2012 12:00 AM
With DSLRs like the Canon T2I and Nikon D3200 becoming increasing accessible, and smartphone cameras becoming increasingly quality, fixed-lens point-and-shoot cameras have become something a forgotten breed. But with the introduction of the RX100—complete with its impressive 1-inch sensor, f/1.8 aperture, and compact body—Sony is trying to make the pocketable camera relevant again.
When it comes to specs, the RX100 is nothing short of impressive. The sensor is a 20.2-megapixel beast that's part of Sony's Exmor family and powered by the Bionz processor. The glass is a 28-100mm Vario-Sonnar Zeiss lens with 3.6x optical zoom and that impressive, aforementioned f/1.8 aperture. The camera has an ISO range of 100-25600, with an auto ISO limit of 6400. Video is an AVCHD affair, with 1080p recording at 60 frames (there's also a 720p MP4 mode). The all-aluminum body isn't much bigger than the Canon S100, and comes equipped not only with fully-programmable manual controls on the back, but also around the lens. The all-black camera is nothing short of beautiful, with stripped down, no-nonsense design that invokes the lines of a Leica camera.
Because Sony packed such a large sensor, and went with a fixed lens, it was able to open up the aperture to let in plenty of light. This not only means sharp images, but also powerful defocusing effects (a.k.a. those nice background blurs). The 1-inch sensor is bigger than those found in both the Canon S100 and G12, not to mention the Fuji X10 and Panasonic LX5. And despite the technical wizardry, the battery is rated for 330 shots-per-charge on average.
In the brief time I got to play with the thing, the RX100 impressed. In both the automatic and program modes, shots were sharp and detailed, even without optimal lighting. At times, the shots certainly looked comparable to those produced by considerably more powerful cameras. Though the is small and light, it hardly feels insubstantial, and can be operated without having to contort your hand in weird ways. And the big 3-inch screen is nice and bright, thanks to the LCD's added white light which is designed to combat sunlight.
So who is this thing for? At $650, it might be too pricey as a second camera for the DSLR crowd. But for someone who doesn't use a camera enough to justify the cost and bulk of a DSLR, the RX100 could be a very happy compromise. Sony says you can expect the RX100 to arrive in July. [Sony]
RIM has plans to open up to 15 premium stores in India by the end of the year. The first store open in Delhi last month, with a second store newly opened last Friday in Gurgaon. RIM plans to open these stores in major locations around India, including Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Bangalore.
The stores will feature special areas which will showcase both consumer and enterprise applications, complete with live demos. Sunil Dutt, Managing Director of RIM India says, "These stores will offer holistic consumer experience on BlackBerry consumer and enterprise services."
Asia, where RIM has a high subscriber base has already seen stores open in Indonesia and Thailand, so it comes as now surprise to see them set up shop in India where it BlackBerry smartphone usage is also high and has seen a big increase in subscriber numbers in the past months, especially within the youth market.
It's nice to see RIM building these premium stores in places where there is high demand, even the Middle East saw a flagship store open in Dubai last month. I would like to see them bring these stores to the Europe in the near future, perhaps in the U.K. first? One can only hope.
Source: Times of India
EUROPE'S DEBT CRISIS
ECB holds rates steady
By Ben Rooney @CNNMoneyInvest June 6, 2012: 7:59 AM ET
ECB president Mario Draghi is under pressure to help keep the euro currency union from breaking apart.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- European Central Bank officials voted Wednesday to hold interest rates steady, as the debt crisis in the euro area intensifies.
The ECB left its main interest rate unchanged at 1%, dashing hopes for a rate cut.
ECB officials are meeting amid a deepening banking crisis in Spain and ahead of a pivotal election in Greece that could determine whether the nation remains in the eurozone.
Separately, the European Union announced a plan for a continent-wide banking union that would deal with future banking crises rather than leave them in the hands of already struggling national governments.
But the proposals have yet to be officially endorsed and the measures will take years to implement.
June 6th, 2012 by Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director
With the launch of Windows 8 just months away, Computex has been all about Microsoft’s upcoming OS. In a keynote address today, Microsoft’s Stephen Guggenheimer highlighted the company’s progress in advancing Windows 8 and the rest of its Windows ecosystem.
Guggenheimer started by talking about the evolution of the entire electronics ecosystem from a world of separate TV, PC and phone vendors to one where companies work across different form factors. He said that Microsoft creates a set of platforms that companies can use and build upon where competitors like Apple don’t allow partners to innovate. He said Android also allows partners to innovate, but there’s no consistency in Android so partners have to take more responsibility for building and supporting their own software. He cited Amazon as an example of a company succeeding in Android by building its own software.
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He said that the Windows 8 launch is the company’s biggest launch ever.
Guggenheimer then spoke about servers and services. He said that Microsoft provides a variety of private cloud services for business, but runs close to half a billion servers for its public-facing services like Hotmail. He said that the company’s knowledge of both public and private cloud technology, Microsoft can create the most scalable solutions.
He said that Microsoft is working with partners to create a “private cloud in a box” that allows hardware vendors to provide huge servers that create a local on-site cloud. He pointed to a large Quanta server on the stage as an example.
Guggenheimer then talked about embedded devices and showed a video that highlighted all the places you might see an embedded device in everyday life. In the video, we saw a treadmill, refrigerator, security system, Ford Sync, projector, conference phone, supply chain, elevator display, printer digital sign, MRI scanner, ultrasound machine, soda dispenser, GPS system, coffee machine, Polhy come phone, digital sign, point-of-sale system, checkout system, Redbox video rental station and robotic vaccum cleaner, among others. A man going through his day encountered 45 different embedded devices in a single day.
He said the prediction is for embedded systems to grow from one billion to two billion over the next few years. He showed off a Ford car with Sync technology and an LG digital sign that shows ads, videos or restaurant menus.
“If you want to build an embedded device quickly, Windows is by far the easiest device to build on,” he said. Guggenheimer then announced that, as of today, the next technology preview of Windows Embedded Standard is available for download.
Windows Phones and Sync
Guggenheimer then spoke about advances in Windows Phone. He showed a real-time translation app that allowed him to read a Chinese sign just by running a handset’s camera over it. He then called a demo guy named Ryan on stage to show how, with a tablet, an Xbox and a Windows Phone, you can sync content across all your screens, pausing a movie on the tablet and then resuming it on the Xbox or using the phone as a controller.
Guggenheimer talked about hardware advances from Microsoft’s partners, including better glass for screens and improved hinge designs for notebooks. He then showed off a monitor from Sharp that accepts input from a standard pencil instead of an active stylus.
With Ryan back on stage, the two of them showed how they could work on a document together remotely just by drawing on a shade of light from a projector. As Guggenheimer drew lines on his desk, they appeared on Ryan’s desk and vice versa. Even a real metal hinge that Ryan put down on his desk showed up virtually on Guggenheimer’s desk.
Windows 7, Windows 8, and Metro Apps
Guggenheimer then talked about Windows 7, saying that there are now 600 million Windows 7 devices on the market today and 39 percent of the online devices today are Windows 7. He said he’s excited to see all the new Windows 7 PCs being unveiled at Computex.
He spoke about the Windows 8 preview release that launched last week and showed a video montage of people using Windows 8 tablets and other devices. He said that the critical response for Windows 8 has been strong and put quotes from three journalists up on screen.
He invited Microsoft’s Aidean Marcuss, a product manager for Windows 8, up to talk about the Windows Release Preview. Marcuss spent 15 minutes demonstrating some of the coolest apps on Windows 8, including the Bing travel app, a cocktail app, the Wikipedia app, some educational apps for kids and a painting app that simulates the experience of painting on paper right down to the grain.
Marcuss spoke about all the systems and peripherals that Windows 8 supports. He said that they’ve added new class drivers that make it easier to provide an instant install experience the minute you plug a device into your computer or tablet. He said that there are over 50 million Windows 7 certified devices today and all should work properly on Windows 8, along with a host of new devices.
He spoke about apps and the momentum from developers saying there are “hundreds” of Metro apps available in Microsoft’s market today. He said there’s a certification kit that developers can use to test their apps before submitting them. He said hardware and software vendors should get up to speed, use the certification tools test their PCs and make sure they are Windows 8 ready and test all their peripherals for Windows 8.
He encouraged developers to learn about how to build Metro apps and said there are developer workshops happening all over the world.
Systems with Windows 8
Guggenheimer came back on stage to talk about the types of hardware that run Windows 8. He then showed off a few sample devices. First he showed a number of all-in-one computers, including a Lenovo Windows 8 all-in-one with a hinge that allows it to fold flat and turn into a flat board you can use to play a game of Mahjong.
He then walked past a bevy of Ultrabooks we’ve seen–including the Dell XPS 13, ASUS Zenbook, and the Acer Aspire M5–which he showed with its pull down pots. He showed Ultrabooks with touch like the Acer Aspire S7 13-inch. He pointed out that the hinge on the S7 becomes very rigid when held at 90 degrees so it doesn’t move when you push buttons on the screen.
He then spoke about convertibles and demonstrated the Lenovo Yoga. He also held up the Samsung Series 5 Hybrid with its pop-off display and the Zenbook Transformer with its removable screen. He then showed off the ASUS’s Windows RT-based Tegra 3 tablet.
“We’re blending no compromise hardware with no compromise software,” he said.
Guggenheimer spke about the Windows 8 upgrade plan which allows users who buy a new PC today to upgrade to Windows 8 for just $14.99 between now and January 31st.
WRITTEN BY: Ken Segall
MORE BRAINS DON’T NECESSARILY LEAD TO BETTER IDEAS. WHEN IT CAME TO LEADING MEETINGS, JOBS’S HAD NO QUALMS TOSSING THE LEAST NECESSARY PERSON OUT OF THE ROOM.
This is our second excerpt from Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple’s Success by Ken Segall, a close collaborator with Jobs for over a decade. To read the first, on how the iMac was almost called the MacMan, go here.
Apple encourages big thinking but small everything else. That is, if you feel the urge to speak or act in a manner reminiscent of anything you learned in a big company, it’s best that you do that in the privacy of your own home. Meeting size is a good example. Once Chiat/Day was installed as Apple’s agency of record and we’d settled into our work, we would meet with Steve Jobs every other Monday.
Typically there would be no formal agenda. We’d share our work in progress with Steve and he’d share whatever news he had. This was how we all stayed up to date. The invitee list for these meetings was small. On the agency side were the creative people, account director, and media director. On the Apple side there were Steve, Phil Schiller (product marketing), Jony Ive (design), Allen Olivo (marketing communications), and Hiroki Asai (Apple’s in-house creative). Special guest stars were invited as required.
POOR LORRIE HAD TO PACK UP HER BELONGINGS, RISE FROM HER CHAIR, AND TAKE THE LONG WALK.One particular day, there appeared in our midst a woman from Apple with whom I was unfamiliar. I don’t recall her name, as she never appeared in our world again, so for the purposes of this tale, I’ll call her Lorrie. She took her seat with the rest of us as Steve breezed into the boardroom, right on time. Steve was in a sociable mood, so we chatted it up for a few minutes, and then the meeting began. “Before we start, let me just update you on a few things,” said Steve, his eyes surveying the room. “First off, let’s talk about iMac--" He stopped cold. His eyes locked on to the one thing in the room that didn’t look right. Pointing to Lorrie, he said, “Who are you?”
Lorrie was a bit stunned to be called out like that, but she calmly explained that she’d been asked to attend because she was involved with some of the marketing projects we’d be discussing. Steve heard it. Processed it. Then he hit her with the Simple Stick. “I don’t think we need you in this meeting, Lorrie. Thanks,” he said. Then, as if that diversion had never occurred--and as if Lorrie never existed--he continued with his update. So, just as the meeting started, in front of eight or so people whom Steve did want to see at the table, poor Lorrie had to pack up her belongings, rise from her chair, and take the long walk across the room toward the door. Her crime: She had nothing to add.
SIMPLICITY’S BEST FRIEND: SMALL GROUPS OF SMART PEOPLE
What Lorrie experienced was the strict enforcement of one of Simplicity’s most important rules: Start with small groups of smart people--and keep them small. Every time the body count goes higher, you’re simply inviting complexity to take a seat at the table. The small-group principle is deeply woven into the religion of Simplicity. It’s key to Apple’s ongoing success and key to any organization that wants to nurture quality thinking. The idea is pretty basic: Everyone in the room should be there for a reason. There’s no such thing as a “mercy invitation.” Either you’re critical to the meeting or you’re not. It’s nothing personal, just business.
Steve Jobs actively resisted any behavior he believed representative of the way big companies think--even though Apple had been a big company for many years. He knew that small groups composed of the smartest and most creative people had propelled Apple to its amazing success, and he had no intention of ever changing that. When he called a meeting or reported to a meeting, his expectation was that everyone in the room would be an essential participant. Spectators were not welcome.
MANY BUSINESSES FOLLOW A MISGUIDED PRINCIPLE: THE MORE CRITICAL THE PROJECT, THE MORE PEOPLE MUST BE THROWN AT IT.This was based on the somewhat obvious idea that a smaller group would be more focused and motivated than a large group, and smarter people will do higher quality work. For a principle that would seem to be common sense, it’s surprising how many organizations fail to observe it. How many overpopulated meetings do you sit through during the course of a year? How many of those meetings get sidetracked or lose focus in a way that would never occur if the group were half the size? The small-group rule requires enforcement, but it’s worth the cost.
Remember, complexity normally offers the easy way out. It’s easier to remain silent and let the Lorries of the world take their seats at the table, and most of us are too mannerly to perform a public ejection. But if you don’t act to keep the group small, you’re creating an exception to the rule--and Simplicity is never achieved through exceptions. Truthfully, you can do the brutal thing without being brutal. Just explain your reasons. Keep the group small.
Prior to working with Steve Jobs, I worked with a number of more traditional big companies. So it was a shock to my system (in a good way) when I entered Steve’s world of Simplicity. In Apple’s culture, progress was much easier to attain. It was also a shock to my system (in a bad way) when I left Steve’s world and found myself suffering through the same old issues with more traditional organizations again.
Back in the early days of NeXT, when all of its promise lay ahead, I heard Steve address the troops one day, telling them to savor this moment in time. He told them that when NeXT got bigger and more successful, they’d fondly look back at this time as “the good old days.” Things would surely get crazier. (Not the most accurate of his predictions, given NeXT’s constant struggles, but you get the point.) In later years, when I found myself attending larger, less productive meetings at multilayered companies, those words would echo in my head. I did miss the good old days--not just because they were quieter but because they were smarter.
ONLY OCCASIONALLY DO MORE BRAINS MEAN BETTER IDEAS.Out in the real world, when I talk about small groups of smart people, I rarely get any pushback. That’s because common sense tells us it’s the right way to go. Most people know from experience that the fastest way to lose focus, squander valuable time, and water down great ideas is to entrust them to a larger group. Just as we know that there is equal danger in putting ideas at the mercy of a large group of approvers.
One reason why large, unwieldy groups tend to be created in many companies is that the culture of a company is bigger than any one person. It’s hard to change “the way we do things here.” This is where the zealots of Simplicity need to step in and overcome the inertia. One must be judicious and realistic about applying the small-group principle. Simply making groups smaller will obviously not solve all problems, and “small” is a relative term. Only you know your business and the nature of your projects, so only you can draw the line between too few people and too many. You need to be the enforcer and be prepared to hit the process with the Simple Stick when the group is threatened with unnecessary expansion.
Over the years, Apple’s marketing group has fine-tuned a process that’s been successfully repeated, revolution by revolution. Project teams are kept small, with talented people being given real responsibility--which is what drives them to work some crazy hours and deliver quality thinking. Because quality is stressed over quantity, meetings are informal and visible progress is made on a weekly (if not daily) basis.
Every company wants to maximize productivity and cut down on unnecessary meetings. How they go about it, though, can vary widely. At Apple, forming small groups of smart people comes naturally, because in its culture, that’s “the way we do things here.” Sometimes companies try to “legislate” productivity by offering up corporate guidelines.
In one iconic technology company with which I worked framed sign in every conference room designed to nudge the employees toward greater productivity. The headline on the sign was how to have a successful meeting. The content read like it came right out of a corporate manual, which it likely did. It featured a bullet-pointed list of things like “State the agenda at the start of your meeting,” “Encourage participation by all attendees,” and “Conclude your meeting with agreement on next steps.”
What these signs really said, though, was “Welcome to a very big company! Just follow these signs and you’ll fit in well.” It’s not hard to imagine Steve Jobs, who actively fought big-company behavior, gleefully ripping these signs off the wall and replacing them with Ansel Adams prints that might provide a moment of reflection or inspiration—like those he put up in the halls of NeXT.
If you have any thought of working at Apple, I’m sorry to say there will be no signs on the wall telling you how to run a meeting. Likewise, there will be no signs telling you how to tie your shoes or fill a glass of water. The assumption made at your hiring is that you are well equipped with brains and common sense and that you’re a fully functioning adult. If you’re not already a disciple of Simplicity, you’ll become one soon. Either that or you’ll decide you’d rather not be part of such a thing, which is okay too. Simplicity prefers not having to train a bucking bronco.
If big companies really feel compelled to put something on their walls, a better sign might read:
HOW TO HAVE A GREAT MEETING
1. Throw out the least necessary person at the table.
2. Walk out of this meeting if it lasts more than 30 minutes.
3. Do something productive today to make up for the time you spent here.
I’m exaggerating, of course. Meetings are a necessary and important way to make collaborative progress. But we all know that too many unnecessary or overpopulated meetings can rob even the most brilliant people of their creative energy. More than being a guideline for meetings, however, the small-group principle is mandatory for project groups. Many businesses follow an instinctive but misguided principle: The more critical the project, the more people must be thrown at it. The operative theory is that more brains equal more ideas. That’s hard to argue with--except that only occasionally do more brains mean better ideas. The more people involved in the effort, the more complicated briefings become, the more hand-holding is required to get people up to speed, and the more time must be spent reviewing participants’ work and offering useful feedback. A smaller group offers the most efficient way to succeed--assuming that it also has the smarts. (Promise you’ll never forget that part.)
OFTENTIMES STEVE WAS ONLY DOING WHAT MANY OF US WISH WE COULD DO.To say that putting more people on a project will improve the results is basically saying that you don’t have a ton of confidence in the group you started with. Either that or you’re just looking for an insurance policy--which also means you don’t have a lot of confidence in the group you started with. Whatever your motivation, what you’re really saying is that you don’t have the right people on the job. So fix that. When populated by the smartest people, small groups will give management more confidence, not less. When you push for small groups of smart people, everybody wins. The company gets better thinking. The group feels better appreciated and is eager to take on more work. This type of organization actually fuels productivity, project to project.
Apple’s agency, originally known as Chiat/Day, succeeded by the same philosophy. Led by the Hall of Fame creative director Lee Clow, our small group matched up well with Apple’s small group. Limiting the size of our group helped us produce work quickly, get information fast, and have the agility to react to unexpected events.
The agency’s founder, the late Jay Chiat, had set a similar tone decades earlier. Jay and Steve had a unique relationship in the days of the original
Macintosh and in certain ways were cut from the same cloth. I had the pleasure of being personally ejected from a meeting by Jay during one of my several stints at Chiat/Day. It happened much like Steve’s ejection of Lorrie, except that I was only half of a dual ejection. Surveying the room before the start of a meeting, Jay took one look at my art director partner and me and said, “What are you guys doing here?”
“Beats me,” I said. “We’re just responding to the invitation.”
“You shouldn’t be sitting around a table talking about this bullshit,” said Jay. “Go create something.” At least we got to walk out of the room with smiles on our faces. Lorrie didn’t have that option.
The working styles of both Jay and Steve have stuck with me over the years. I can think of no better examples of leaders with a talent for keeping their teams focused on the mission and focused on producing great results. And both built spectacularly successful businesses. It’s not a coincidence.
To this day I have a recurring fantasy when I find myself trapped in a big meeting going nowhere. I imagine what Steve Jobs would say and do if he were sitting in that room, enduring what I’m enduring. In my fantasy, it’s like having a really good seat for a matinee at the Roman Colosseum. Who would Steve verbally dismantle or eject from the meeting? When would he cut the presenter off midsentence and say it’s all bullshit? With all the talk about how rough Steve could be, it should be acknowledged that oftentimes he was only doing what many of us wish we could do. Steve saw no reason to be delicate when his time, and the time of everyone in the room, was being wasted.
This is part of the challenge that we non-Steves must face. Most of us aren’t comfortable with the idea of turning into coldhearted control freaks, but we also know that we sometimes need to be tough to keep projects on track. The good news is, being brutal and being respected are not mutually exclusive. In fact, showing a little of that brutal honesty at the right time is a pretty good way to earn respect--and keep those smart groups small.
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Identifying relevant online influencers has become a huge part of modern-day corporate and consumer communications. It is also subject to a HELLUVA lot of debate.
Instead of focusing on the subjectivity of this process (and how this insight is deployed), we’re going to take a look at how you can use a combination free tools to narrow your search.
The reason for focusing on free tools as opposed to the paid enterprise options is simple – using free tools puts more of an emphasis on manual discovery, forcing you to get under the skin of each result as opposed to simply relying on the score served up by a fancy algorithm.
(Let’s not completely discount the usefulness of rankings and scores. They’re never definitive but they can all aid in helping you make informed decisions as part of this overall process.) OK. Enough ass covering (for now!), let’s try and outline a useful guide to identifying the influencers brands and organisations so desperately crave.
Where do online influencers operate?
They are active, everywhere. The most popular places are blogs, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. They also operate in niche online communities, smaller social networks and discussion boards like reddit and 4chan.
The three step identification and activation process
Cross platform search by keyword (phrases)
Initial list creation, based on established criteria (profiles)
Production of rankings and recommendations based on relevance and ‘influence’
I’ve called this ‘id3′ (influence identification in three steps).
Step one – the identification process
As mentioned earlier, influencers are present and active in a lot of places. For the sake of brevity, we’re going to make a couple of assumptions:
Influencers are active on Twitter
Influencers operate some form of blogging hub
This isn’t always true, but in most cases Twitter is used as an amplification channel for the original content created by these online participants. With this in mind, the process we’re going to use focuses on the intelligence we can glean from Twitter initially, and then we will verify this initial sweep with blog (or relevant hub) data.
The initial steps involve:
Search by keyword
Search by location
There are three tools that are useful in this process: FollowerWonk.com, LocaFollow.com and Twingualte.com – the first two can also search by location, which make them the most efficient options.
You are relying on people having filled out their Twitter biographies with some accuracy here. You are also hoping that your influencers have correctly identified their location details properly too. Let’s pretend you are searching for fashion influencers in London using LocaFollow and FollowerWonk.
This is what you’ll get:
The first part of the identification process is now complete. FollowerWonk gives you an ‘influence’ rating which must be taken with a pinch of salt.
In order to give that rating a bit more relevance, run that user through another influencer rating tool like TweetLevel. We still can’t say with complete confidence that we have the most relevant influencers in our sights. This is where the manual element of the process is important by taking an in-depth look at that person’s blog / hub.
Things to consider include frequency of posts, number of comments per posts, and number of retweets per post. If you want to aid this process, run the blog through BlogLevel. This will give you an influence score for the blog as well as some specific attribute metrics.
You then end up with something like this:
You can then rank your results in a high, medium and low order. Depending on the nature of your activity, you can then determine who the most appropriate person is to collaborate with.
Where do you go from here?
I can’t stress the ‘pinch of salt-ness’ of this process enough.
No matter how hard we try, a 100% fool proof influence rating is near on impossible because influence is not a science, it can’t be But, this can help narrow things down, significantly.
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