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Oct
04

Changing the World, One Book at a Time

Posted By · October 4, 2010 at 10:52 pm

The other day, I was looking through a list of the best
100 tech start-up companies.

The company locations were all to familiar.

New York, New York.

San Francisco, California.

New York, New York.

San Francisco, California.

This went back and forth for dozens of companies, until…

Elkhart, Indiana!!!!!?????????

The company is called Better World Books.  It was founded and
is still operated, right here, in Indiana.

Better World Books is a for-profit company that collects and sells
books online to fund literacy initiatives worldwide.

On September 24th, the following national spot aired during the Notre Dame game.

 

 
Most companies have a single bottom line, profit.
 
Better World Books claims to adhere to a triple bottom line, which is revealed in
the following ways.
 
Social: power to the people
The company provides funding for over 80 literacy partners.  This knowledge gives
families around the world hope for a better life.
 
Environmental: love your mother
The company implemented the first carbon neutral shopping cart.  By reselling used
material, they have kept over 8,000 tons of books out of landfills.
 
Economic: true accounting
The company maintains profit to ensure long-term viability.  The company answers
equally to their employees, customers, literacy partners, investors and the environment.
 
 
 
I venture to say Better World Books has a fourth bottom line… helping Hoosiers.
 
They provide jobs in northern Indiana, an area hit hard by RV manufacturer
layoffs.
 
World Books shows everyone that Hoosiers can be technological
leaders and change the world, one book at a time.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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Sep
23

How Much Do You Trust Your Facebook Friends?

Posted By · September 23, 2010 at 10:52 pm

FACEBOOK POST:

Todd: Look at our great vacation photos! 

     IamAthief: Look, I am robbing your house!

I am actually surprised this doesn’t happen more on Facebook.

Family brags about their far-off vacation, and some “friend” takes
note and robs them blind.

Maybe I am paranoid, but I don’t post vacation photos
until we are back home.   Otherwise, it would be like posting
a sign outside our house saying: “We are NOT home”

While Facebook robberies seem possible, it doesn’t happen very often.

On September 10, 2010, NECN.com, a news agency in New England, reported
about a burglary ring which targets Facebook users in New Hampshire.

The police alleged three men broke into more than 50 homes and stole
over $100,000 worth of property.

Facebook responded with the following statement:

“We’ve been in contact with the Nashua police, and they confirmed that they while they have an ongoing investigation and have already made a number of arrests, the only Facebook link was that one of those arrested had a Facebook friend who posted about leaving town in the near future (which is why they believe that home was targeted) and it had nothing to do with Facebook Places. The police confirmed that the other burglaries had nothing to do with Facebook altogether.”

Facebook basically brushed the robberies as one part of a larger theft ring. 

So is this a potential problem?  Am I just paranoid?

I guess the real question is:

How much do you trust your Facebook friends?

Todd Donaldson

p.s. Props to anyone who can identify this famous home.

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Sep
17

Oh Brother, (Microsoft) Where Art Thou?

Posted By · September 17, 2010 at 12:47 am

Apple released the iPad.
Google released several versions of an Android based tablet.

Apple introduced a the iPhone 4.
Google unleashed an army of Android based phones.

Apple announced Apple TV.
Google, which owns YouTube, began streaming live video.

These two companies battle for technology supremacy, but
do you know who is missing from this discussion?

Microsoft.

Originally, I was going to write a blog about how
lazy Microsoft has become.

I was going to paint the picture of Microsoft as a
teen slacker living in his Mom’s basement.

Mom: “Microsoft, when are you going to stop playing
XBox, and get a real job?”

Microsoft: “I quit my job so I could play Halo
full time.”

While most Microsoft products don’t generate a buzz
from consumers, they do generate profit.

For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2010, the net
revenue for Microsoft was $62.48 Billion.  It was
a record for the company.

Net income was $18.76 Billion, also a record.
(a growth of 29% over the previous fiscal year)

Not bad for a company no one talks about…

So where did the buzz go?

Vista was a buzz kill.  Consumers lost confidence
with Microsoft, and those Apple commercials didn’t help.

It must be noted that, Microsoft caters to business.  Products like
Sharepoint do not create consumer excitement, they DO create revenue.
(see sales figures above)

Microsoft is also missing a strong spokesman who can
highlight the success and smooth over the rough spots.

Someone like… Bill Gates.

In the early years, Microsoft fed off of Gates’ drive.
Bill was able to sell the heck out of software, even
though he knew it was buggy.

Under the leadership of Gates, Microsoft became a
powerhouse, a company to be admired and feared by
the competition. 

(Kinda like what Steve Jobs did for Apple)

Then on June 15, 2006, Bill announced he was stepping
down in 2008. And with him, the wind went out of the
company’s sails.

While he is not a charismatic showman, Steven Ballmer,
the current CEO, has made some tough decisions.

With the recent economic downtown, Microsoft has
streamlined operations.  They currently have
88,596 employees, down from previous high of 92,736.

In addition to fiscal responsibility, Microsoft
shored up its product line.

Windows 7, actually works!

As a result, the OS has been a hit, but it has not
been easy.  Microsoft has spent millions in ads,
which basically say: “We don’t stink anymore!”

While a stable operating system is nice, it doesn’t
generate buzz with consumers… or Wall Street.

Over 5 years ago, I bought Microsoft stock for 24.35 a share.
On September 16th, my stock closed at 25.33 a share.

On September 16th, Apple closed at $276.57
Google closed at $481.06.

This shows two things.

1) I bought the wrong stock.

2) Wall Street values innovation and consumer buzz.

As a shareholder, I applaud Microsoft for maintaining a solid
company with a strong foundation on business products.  I am
glad Ballmer streamlined Microsoft and stabilized the product
lines.

But…

As a greedy shareholder, I just want to say:
“Get off your Mom’s couch and innovate!”

But leave your XBox controller, I want to play Halo.

Todd Donaldson

P.S.  I know Microsoft created buzz this week with the
release of Halo Reach.  But don’t you think it’s time
to make a new version the game system?

XBox 360 was launched in 2005!

At the very least, it needs a blu-ray player!

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Sep
09

Han Solo Shot First UPDATE

Posted By · September 9, 2010 at 11:39 pm

In Star Wars, Han Solo was cornered by a bounty hunter in the Mos Eisley Cantina.

Guido, the bounty hunter, was alone.  He thought he was good enough. Guido thought he had won.  Then… BLAST.

Han Solo shot him down.

For many years, the iPhone has been Han Solo, flying around the galaxy, shooting down contenders one
at a time.

Some smart phones had good features, but no one device could compete with Apple.

This domination continued until Google created the Android operating system.  Finally, there was a
digital empire ready to take down the iPhone.

Apple laughed and said, “You and what Droid army?”

In the Empire Strikes Back, the Empires hires a group of skillful bounty hunters to hunt down Han Solo and
the rebels.

Eventually, Han Solo was caught and frozen in carbonite. 

Google took the Empire’s approach.  They licensed the Android OS to several manufacturers and created their
own army of bounty hunters.

Google’s plan has been working.

According to Quantcast.com, Android’s share of mobile web consumption has been rising.  In the month of
August, Android was second only to Apple. 

In terms of mobile web consumption, Android left Blackberry and Windows Mobile in the dust.

While Google’s group approach is working, it is also creating an identity crisis.

When I say “iPhone”, everyone knows what you are talking about.  This is because Apple has very few iPhone models and they spent millions on advertising. Now when I say “Android Phone”, what device comes to mind?

Droid?
Droid Incredible?
HTC Evo?

On a brief web search I found twenty-three (23) different Android models!  Here they are by carrier.

VERIZON
Droid
DroidX
Droid2
Droid Incredible
Devour
LG Ally
Samsung Fascinate a Galaxy S Phone
 
 
AT&T
Samsung Captivate
Sony Ericsson Xperia
Motorola Backflip
HTC Aria
 
 
SPRINT
Samsung Epic
HTC Evo
Samsung Intercept
Samsung Moment with Google
Motorola i1
HTC Hero with Google
 
 
T-MOBILE
T-Mobile myTouch
Motorola CLIQ
Motorola CHARM with MOTOBLUR
Motorola CLIQ XT
Samsung Behold II
Garmin-Asus Garminfone
The models keep coming!

Verizon releases new phones EVERY QUARTER.

At the most, Apple releases a new iPhone once a year!

While the Android OS is gaining popularity, the iPhone still has the name brand recognition. This is due, in part, to Apple’s limited product line.

To combat this, several carriers have rolled out large marketing campaigns.  Sprint has featured several TV ads for the HTC Evo. 

Verizon has featured it’s line of Droid phones, which brings me back to Star Wars.

Have you noticed the fine print on any Droid ad? Part of it says: “DROID is a trademark of Lucasfilm Ltd.
and its related companies. Used under license”

To learn more about the licensing process I contacted Lucasfilm Ltd. 

Paul Southern – Sr. Director, Domestic Licensing & Marketing, Lucasfilm Ltd. provided the following insight.

How long does the licensing process take?

There’s really no set formula, it’s truly case by case. Sometimes it happens very quickly, usually when both partners are on the same wavelength, other times it can take years before we’re able to find common ground on an opportunity. 

How many licensing requests do you get a year?

The whole mobile space – phones, apps, e-books etc – is clearly a very dynamic area at the moment and we’re getting several calls a week from organizations interested in leveraging the power of the Star Wars brand within their businesses. 

Does the process take longer for a major commitment like the Motorola Droid?

No, this was one partnership that made complete sense to everyone involved from the very outset and as a result, for a partnership of this scale, it came together surprisingly quickly.

———–

Verizon is using the well known “Droid” name to gain brand recognition.  It will be worth the money, if the Droid can catch the iPhone and freeze it in carbonite.

Maybe then the iPhone will have better reception

Todd Donaldson

p.s. In the original version of Star Wars, Han Solo shot first, and killed Guido.

In the most recent DVD release, Lucasfilm changed the movie and made Guido shoot first.

Why change it?

Han Solo was a smuggler, not a saint!  He doesn’t need an image make-over.  It made Guido look stupid, he missed a 3 foot shot!

Just in case George Lucas needs more money, Lucasfilm will be releasing the Star Wars saga to Blu-ray DVD in the Fall of 2011.

When you buy it, and I know you will, look closely and see if Han Solo shot first.

NOTE: Special thanks to Chris Argyropoulos and Lucasfilm Ltd. for your communication and insight.

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Sep
02

Deal of the Day: Get your Groupon!

Posted By · September 2, 2010 at 11:25 pm

Have you ever wondered through a store
and stumbled upon a clearance shelf?

You find an item, that at full price,
didn’t seem that good.  But now, at a
discount…

You must have it!

You get this same rush when you shop
at a Deal of the Day web sites.

Deal of the Day sites sell very few items.
But, those items are sold at a dramatically
reduced rate.

Here are a few of my favorites.

www.groupon.com

Groupon deals are based on your city location.
It offers 50%-90% discounts on the following items:

Restaurants
Spas
Activities
Events
Classes
And More!

A business or entity will offer deal.  The deal
will go into effect if a minimum number of people
participate.

Some deals also have a maximum number of participants.

For instance, on August 25th, Groupon, in Indianapolis
sold tickets to the Mary Poppins musical.  $67 seats
were sold for only $39.

The deal went into effect after 15 people bought
tickets.

The deal only had a maximum of 1,500.

NOTE: Groupon asks you for an e-mail before you see
the site.  If this bugs you, click on the Groupon
logo in the upper left to get around entering your
e-mail. 

(that annoys me when a site asks for your e-mail
before they tell show you their goods)

www.livingsocial.com

Living Social is another deal of the day site based
on your city location.

On September 2nd, in Indianapolis, Carolina Grill
offered a $50 gift certificate for only $25.

 

www.woot.com

I you are looking great deals delivered in a light
hearted manner, WOOT is for you.

Here is the humble origin of the company, taken
straight from their web site:

“It started as an employee-store slash market-testing
type of place for an electronics distributor, but it’s
taken on a life of its own. We anticipate profitability
by 2043 – by then we should be retired; someone smarter
might take over and jack up the prices.”

On September 2nd, they had a great price on a
multifunction printer.

WOOT wrote a big joke based on the product.  It began:
“Man walks into a bar. Orders an Epson Workforce 600
Wireless AIO Printer soup.”

Silly people, good deals.

 

www.1saleaday.com

On September 2nd, the family section had a great deal
on a Thomas the Tank Engine set with Cranky the Crane.

The set was normally $89.99.  It was on sale for $29.99.

 

www.yugster.com

Yugster provides a few options.  It has a daily offer,
a daily watch deal and boutique items.  In addition,
it features “Yours Until Gone.”

On September 2nd, the daily deal was a high quality
folding knife.  The “Yours Until Gone” item was a
Corona Extra baseball cap with a built in bottle opener.
Was that too low brow for you?

How about something a little more… upper class?

 

www.wiredforwine.com

Wired for Wine offers vino:
“One unbeatable deal each day until it sells out!!”

If it doesn’t come in a box I don’t know much
about wine.

I appreciate the description Wired for Wine gives
to each featured bottle.
Still looking for something more… cultural?

 

www.ugallery.com/dailydeal

UGallery offers one deal a day on reasonably
priced fine art.

While I can’t see to many people buying from
this site, it was fun to see the art.

 

www.tanga.com

I love board games, so Tanga is a personal
favorite.  Each day, they offer a great deal
on a board game and at least three other items.

Tanga’s items can be quirky and geeky.  (like me)

One day, they sold a Space Invaders T-shirt. 

Classic.

Finally,  here is one independent retailer,
you have never heard of before.

Target

Yes, even the big retailers are getting into
the game.

dailydeals.target.com

Target offers 5 deals a day, only on their
website.
I hope you enjoy these sites, please post some
of your favorite Deals of the Day!
Todd Donaldson
P.S. I had two alternate titles for this blog.

Woot, There It Is!

and

Last Tanga In Paris

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Aug
30

Book of Jobs

Posted By · August 30, 2010 at 11:11 pm

Congregation.

Brothers and sisters.

Please turn to Chapter 7,
verses 24-29 of the Book of Jobs.

“The prophet in black came down
from the mountain and gave the
people holy relics.”

“The people raised their voices
to spread the good word.”

“But there was only silence.”

“The people looked to the prophet
in black for advice.”

“He gazed down up the people and said:
YOU’RE HOLDING IT WRONG.”

I have personal testament in regards
to the biblical controversy now known
as “Antennagate”.

I ordered the iPhone 4 for my beloved
wife as an anniversary present. 

Every AT&T store was sold
out of this highly prized item.

So we waited…

and waited…

and waited…

While in the queue, I read some early
reviews of my wife’s phone to be.

There were articles and videos claiming
the iPhone 4 had a problem with poor
reception. 

Apple downplayed the allegations,
stating performance had to do with
the way users held the phone.

According to Engadget, Steve Jobs emailed
one upset user, “Just avoid holding it
that way.”

Still, I held out hope, and waited…

The iPhone showed up on July 12, the same
day Consumer Reports said it could not
recommend the phone due to poor reception.

Great…

Why did I believe the false prophet in black?

Because the rest of the “phone”
is outstanding!

The screen is brilliant, the camera is great,
e-mail was a snap and navigation is easy and
intuitive.

It just can’t… make… calls… worth a darn.

On July 16, Steve Jobs, wearing his trademark
black shirt, held a press conference to address
the issue.

Apple gave all iPhone 4 users a free
insulating bumper, normally 30 dollars.

We ordered the bumper from a free
iPhone app the company provided.
Unfortunately, it was going to take 3-6 weeks.

So we waited…

and waited…

and waited…
Finally the bumper arrived, and imagine that,
we could make a phone call! 

(no matter how we held it)
Amen
Todd Donaldson
p.s.  If you someone you know has an iPhone 4,
be sure to order your bumper soon. 

You only have until September 30th to order
the cure to your reception woes!

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Aug
26

Where is my flying car?

Posted By · August 26, 2010 at 12:25 am

Wired magazine recently featured a cover
story called “The Future That Never Happened”.

We grew up with the promise of a fantastic
future full of dazzling inventions.

The Wired article explained why we don’t
have flying cars, food in a pill, self driving
cars and jet packs.

I asked my co-workers if they had any
unrealized futuristic technology.

Sunrise anchor Bruce Kopp said,
“Windshield wiper blades that never wear out.”

Kerry Williams from our promotions department
recalled the hologram TV from the Jetsons.

Sara Galer, our Senior Web Producer said,
“A hard drive that plugs into your brain,
like Keanu Reeves in Johnny Mnemonic.”

Photographer Kyle Duell wanted time travel…
to the past.

Every day in the kitchen, I think about my
invention-yet-to-be.

The smart refrigerator.

Not impressed?  Consider this.

All food will be scanned as it enters
the refrigerator. 

My smart fridge will keep an inventory
of all items and will warn you when
food is about to go bad.

The door will have a touch screen that
is connected to the Internet and your
personal video and music collection.

This screen will also show you the current
contents of your chilled food palace.

With a simple touch, the screen will then
show you various recipes that work with
your current inventory of food.

If you need ingredients, the smart fridge
will beam the list to your favorite mobile
device.

I went to Clark’s Appliance on the south
side to see if they had anything close to
my smart fridge.

The salesman at Clark’s said they once carried
a refrigerator with a built-in television.
It cost over $6,000 and did not sell well.

Downtrodden, I asked if there are any other
futuristic kitchen appliances.

He introduced me to induction cooking.

To quote from a GE brochure:
“Induction cooking uses a high-frequency
induction coil below the cooktop’s smooth
surface that heats the cookware by a magnetic
field.”

Please note the high-tech words:
“high-frequency”, “coil”, and “magnetic field”.

I immediately perked up.

The salesman put a paper towel on the cooking
surface. Then he put a pot on the paper towel.

We brought water to boil faster than any
gas or electric stove I have ever seen.

Even while the stove is active, you can
touch the cooking surface and not get burned.
In fact, the paper towel was totally unaffected
by being in direct contact by the “burner”.

I have never heard of induction cooking, but
the salesman said it has been around since
World War I.

So to find the future, I had to look to the past.

Maybe one day, I will have my smart fridge.
All I really need is the following timely message.

WARNING: BEER LEVEL DANGEROUSLY LOW.
Todd Donaldson
Please leave a comment. 

What invention or technology has
gone unrealized?   What are we missing?

I need to unplug my computer brain and go to bed.

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Aug
22

Mayor of WTHR

Posted By · August 22, 2010 at 9:56 pm

CHECK IN: Jockamo Upper Crust Pizza “Love the pizza”

In just seconds, I expressed my love of Jockamo’s pizza though Foursquare.

Foursquare is social networking software which allows users to post their location to sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Foursquare also keeps track of each time a user checks into a location.

Users are rewarded with badges after meeting certain criteria.

For instance…

The Adventurer badge is given for checking into 10 different venues.

The Gym Rat badge is for going to the gym more than 10 times in 30 days.

The School Night badge is earned by checking into a venue after 3AM on a school night.
(one of my favorites)

In addition, the person who checks into a venue the most becomes the mayor of the location.

You may be asking, what is the point of all this?

With Foursquare, your friends can instantly see your location and meet up with you. (very useful for late night bar hopping)

Some users enjoy earning new badges.  It gives them a sense of personal achievement.

Everyone enjoys the bragging rights associated with being the mayor of a location.

Some locations have special offers for those who check in.

Scotty’s Brewhouse offers a discount on lunch and dinner on certain
days of the week, and the Mayor of Scotty’s always receives 10% off
their bill.

This is a nice benefit for the regular crowd and a handsome reward for being the Mayor.  The restaurant, in return, earns loyal customers.

While Foursquare is fun, I always felt like it is a feature, not a full fledged, stand-alone service.

Facebook agrees with me.

Facebook programmers took one look at Foursquare and (click, click, click) made their own location
feature.  (time elapsed to save time in this blog)

Last week, Facebook revealed “Places”.

It is a feature which allows users to post their location so your friends will instantly know
where you are.  (sound familiar?)

Foursquare has about 3 million users and Facebook has over 500 million users.

Eventually, most companies will focus on Facebook Places just because of the shear number of users.

Once Places adds fun features like badges, I can’t see your average user checking in to both Facebook AND Foursquare.

Unless Foursquare expands its service, it may be forgotten, in favor of Facebook’s location feature.

Until then, I’ll continue to check into Foursquare.

Maybe one day, I’ll be the Mayor of WTHR.

Todd Donaldson

(Below are a few screen shots of Foursquare)

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