Back in Action

Sorry dear readers for the unplanned absence. Needless to say some things supercede blogging. In my case I took a hard fall and wound up fracturing some vital stuff, so, after a down month in a noisy hospital and rehab post surgery I have returned, with a hitch in my Gittyup but on my feet thank God.

So what’s been happening? I missed a couple of key conferences but I sure others have done their work so I’ll review their posts and take notes.
Offhand, I see that Samsung has finally emerged to become a major unstoppable force in mobile computing and incidentally launched a bevy of products worth a look.
A few of my favorite apps have upgraded and fixed some of the issues that plagued me. THANK YOU!
On the downside I see that some big player retail stores like Best Buy and Radio Shack have stumbled into tough times.

Best Buy, Buying the farm?

With stocks falling and brick and mortar retailing on shaky footing analysts are predicting the absolute worst for retailer Best Buy.

If true, consumers nationwide will be SOL and will have to go online to buy their gadgets and gear.

Years ago, few saw this coming when we had our choice of Circuit City, CompUSA and Egghead competing aggressively for dominance in a market that is now fading fast into obsolescence.

In my region (Northern Calif.) Fry’s may turn out to be the sole survivor other than those Apple Stores.

I hope I am wrong and wish that Best Buys survives and thrives and over the holidays put money on this hope.

Nonresponsive

This frustrating condition is getting to be constant with apps and OS’s. It is as if things are breaking down and degenerating. The problem here is that the developers and manufacturers are saying nothing nor are they publicly fixing a damn thing for fear of affecting sales.

There is even a more insidious occurrence when in the middle of your work your system freezes and then quits and resets/reboots. That used to happen once a week now it happens several times a day and sometimes once an hour. Now this IS a problem.

Smartphones are really “Controllers”

Now you can really have your world in the palm of your hands and that is no longer just a fanciful cliche.

I have long held the view that we need a device that integrates and controls the various devices, apps and digital elements of our lives and work.

This seems to have become the end game goal of both Android and Apple iOS

Now will come the flow of forms and functions that utilize those platforms to deliver products and services we can’t live without.
I for one am very excited to see what’s next now that I have my best smartphone/tablet (Samsung Galaxy Note 3). Let the controller ecosystem begin.

I had no sooner posted the above article when a story came out of CES that “Smartphones can carol everything. I would suspect the author bit me. Except that I have put forward this argument for 5 full years after supporting “embedded computing” for well over a decade.

So the concept is not a new idea but one who’s time and capability has come now that all elements and factors have aligned including consumer interest and demand.

I applaud any additional industry support in ultimately realizing this approaching vision, however disruptive.

CIS 2014

It is a new year and time for new things courtesy of the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Sin City Las Vegas.
Among the myriads of product displays and isles of innovation there are a few that may shape the lives and businesses into the next decade.

The problem is sorting out the prospects from the suspects.

Among the many misses are a few hits. In the next few weeks I will hunt them down and point you at them.

I am most anxious expecting to monitor new products in wearable computing now that Smart Watches are gaining traction and long-rumored Google Glass finally creeping onto the market.

There was actually too much activity in the category of Fitness wristbands. I sense in response to Obama care.

Your Mobile Self

The Mobile You has become just as real as your physical self for some even more so. Philip K. Dick would have easily understood this alternate world. In fact he predicted it and feared the ominous implications of our digital world And masterfully wrote about it.

One set of nnovation Factors  that drives our move to digital personification is the prevalence of Social Media.

If we can only get our Digital selves to pay the bills, show up for work and take out the trash.

State of the Web 2013

2013 proved to be a challenging year for things online. The big story is the massive invasion of personal privacy by everyone and his brother. Companies we thought we could trust sold our data and information to info brokers and that have had tragic implications and impact. Even our own government engaged in this nefarious activity.

It seems that every piece of data we so natively entered in response to every offer has been analyzed and collated to create behavioral profiles that have led to an ultimate form of discrimination when we provide our location data we open up the doors to potential abuse.

We have not considered how this info and data is being used and by whom. For many of us it is too late to put the horses back in the stable. There is years of personal data lingering out there for anyone to use for any purpose.

 

Book Review: The Vigilant Fundraiser

Do you desire fundraising success?

If you run or volunteer for a community organization the start of a new year is vital to your sustainability. This is the time when donation commitments are made and tax deductions are planned wth April 15th just around the corner.

I located a book that could help organizations map out their fundraising efforts in 12 steps. The book is The Vigilant Fundraiser by George Stanois and published by Civil Sector Press. ISBN 978-927375-12-9 (paperback)

There are tons of such helpful books and resources available but many confound and complicate what could and should be a simple process of mapping out your approach. Using 12 concise steps is an effective method.

It starts with Step 1: : Case for Support written by Victoria White.

You narrow your fundraising documents down to a well-crafted description of what your organization does, what your stakeholders and community needs, the impact you are having and making, your key core priorities,how you plan to use provided funds, how the funding will benefit those you serve.

The other steps written by subject matter experts are intended to help you develop a tight strategic funding plan. Much of what you develop will be useful content for responding to RFP’s on and offline.

Because I am a strong proponent of effective processes and this book fits right in my wheelhouse. To date I have read over 50 books on the subject of fundraising and attended hundreds of seminar hours and online webinars.

All I really initially needed was to read a book like this. Too bad for me it came to me after 15 tough years of fundraising struggles trying to figure it all out. Good for you that you can get this important book now and jump right in.

Platforms

We quietly moved beyond simple OS’s and wound up firmly in the realm of platforms. IOS and ANDROID are more than operating systems. They are ecosystems which is another term for platforms.

So what then are platforms?
According to Wikipedia:
A computing platform includes a hardware architecture and a software framework (including application frameworks), where the combination allows software to run. Typical platforms include a computer architecture, operating system and Runtime libraries.[1]

A platform is a crucial element in software development. A platform might be simply defined as a place to launch software. The platform provider offers the software developer an undertaking that logic code (a general term for bytecode, source code and machine code) will run consistently as long as the platform is in place.

So, What Now?:

- CMS solutions are also platforms mainly intended for content development via templates.

- iOS and Android are platforms for devices and developers

This movement towards platforms is exactly the twist that Microsoft missed because they were thoroughly invested in and the proponent of operating systems because that was were they lived and what they controlled.

Now that times and trends have changed Microsoft is having very difficult time redefining themselves and dialing down and scaling back their OS philosophy to become just a platform. Microsoft is still attempting to hold up the banner for Windows/OS.

Users after years of Windows horror stories and overcharging don’t seem to be buying it and aren’t willing to step back into the muddled OS past.

The age of The Platform has arrived!

Unnecessary Daily Updates

I am beginning to wonder about the reason for, and an becoming ever more suspicious of apps that demand daily updates seemingly for no good reason. Are programmers that busy or is something else really the reason?

One issue I have is that those updates cripple my tablet just at the moments I need it most.,    really seldom see much improvement in the performance or presentation of those updated app’s. I couldn’t even edit this post having to wait for some update or the other to complete its mission. This is a problem that will compound itself the more apps you have loaded.
Now I see that an update has disabled my CMS solution so now my work is impacted. FTS.

 

Exploiters Pimping Social Media

Vampires look for inexhaustible sources of blood, criminals go after the money. Scammers look for the deepest source of suckers. At this time Social Media serves these up on a platter. Hackers exploit the holes and openings that weak programming and loose policies present.
The combination of unscrupulous marketers and scammers has created a minefield that is better carefully navigated by the newbie and unsuspecting.

The upshot will undoubtibly be the impending demise of social media and eventually the absolute wariness and distrust by users and consumers.

There will be additional impacts that will dig deep into many of the currently thriving industries and market segments.j

Initial reactions to this post come from folk with vested interests in the robustness of Social Media. Please understand that I am not trying to bring down their altar nor grind axes. I am simply working to see that we improve it to Jake it live up to its potential and promise. This can only be done if we weed out those that would run it into the ground for profit and pleasure.

Does Social Media Matter?

Social media in just a few years has completely changed the way we do just about everything from the way we communicate, shop to how we manage our careers.

Social Media is a powerful tool still maturing and expanding into new areas of our lives with potential for greater relevance that is high as are the countless drawbacks that are beginning arise that are frequently driving new users away.

BENEFITS:
* Drives trends
* Provides new means of communication
* Social media has the power to support wide and diverse needs.
* Social media allow individuala a voice in all thins
* Provides marketing opportunities
* Influences Events

DRAWBACKS:
* Lack of privacy and security
* Abundance of scams, malware and hacking
* Constant change for the worst
* Lack of trust
* Poor programming and development
* High costs of Bandwidth and access
* Duplication of services
* Oversatuation of Useless Information and Clutter

CONCLUSION:
Does Social Media really matter? The answer to that differs for each user. Some can plumb the depths and come up with ways to draw revenue and uncover opportunities while it is a time drain for many others hoping to strike it rich.
Social Media matters as much as the watch you wear. It is a tool for some and more like a magic lamp for others.

Half-assed Apps

What I have noticed is that this whole mobility ecosystem is plagued through and through with a multitude of half-assed incomplete and often non functional apps that in no way deliver on their promise nor accomplish what they claim to do. We waste countless hours trying to reign them in and make them do what we need.
Try as we might they do not nor cannot satisfy our ever increasing need for robust apps that actually work.
Even the simplest apps are insufficient to do even the most mundane of functions. I am almost tempted to declare that quality programming is a lost art.

iWatch: Late to the game

What beyond screwing up could have caused Apple to come late to the smart watch game. A game which their own Nano started many years back. They will surely claim they wanted to wait until the market matured. That is pure bullshit. Steve’s passing my be another excuse but now we are able to see if they have learned anything in the lull.
Now that everyone and his brother has stepped forward with an offering Apple comes forward with their bid. Let’s now see if the wait was worth it.

Social Media Versatility

It just hit me that Social Media as we knew it has changed by the minute. It becomes whatever we need at the moment. If there is an emergency it becomes a lifeline. If we need to communicate with our broad community it becomes the best means. If we need to get the message out about our products or se

Me Too Technolgy

Rather than playing an unending game of “follow the leader” many tech companies rather than innovate their own ideas and products copy, clone and reverse engineer the work of others.
There are so many unborn things users wish we could discover and obtain.

It continues to mystify me why rich and powerful companies with such amazing talent and such considerable resources act so seemingly uninspired that they prefer to imitate leaders and play safe by piggybacking off of the brilliant work of others who have taken the risk of building new markets for new product categories.

Many of these “also-rans” don’t even bother to bring significant improvements to these products that matter.
The best example I can put forward is in the area of smart watches. A little company called Pebble used Kickstarter to enter the marketplace. Now every Tom, Dick and Harry tech company is jumping in the game.

A Mistaken Idea

Some companies are under the mistaken impression and opinion that by simply sprinkling the word “technology” onto their collateral or into their mission statement will add a few more productive years onto their future or a bring a more profits in their pockets. Wake up, that is not nearly enough. Each company needs to sit down and address some critical questions and core issues.

ISSUES:
What business are they in?
How does technology relate?
What resources are available?
What skills are essential?
What return do they expect?
What if it doesn’t work?
What options and alternatives?

These are just a few of the key questions each should honestly address with a clear understanding that technology is not a “be-all, end-all” solution. Technology is only a tool to help you do what you do much more effectively.
It should not in most cases change what you do but how you do it. It cannot resurrect a lame, dead or dying enterprise.

Rethink it!

It is hard to admit it is time to adjust your direction or reframe you tactics and technique but the time will come when you realize what you’re doing ain’t working.
An example would be building a website and nothing happens. You turn to SEO experts and make a million dollar a day gurus to infuse you with the secret.  Nothing!
That is a good if not perfect time to reconsider your closest held premise. Are you doing the right thing, for the right reasons, in the right way?
It might be an adjustment or complete revamp. Whichever, you need the courage to change.

Lures

I have noticed that many companies have become so aware that we are tired if their BP that we do not click on their links that they taken to masking their identities behind “false flags”.

These are seemingly innocuous but these deceptive positive compelling posts feed us into marketing mills.

They exploit and use everything you have a passion for or faith in to pull you into their schemes and hustles.

This tactic surely has the ultimate effect of cluttering up the few remaining avenues for untainted constructive conversations available to us.

From here on in we will need to anticipate and judge the motives and methods behind almost each and every thing we click on. It’s a f*#kin@ minefield out here.

Everyday is a new opportunity

to:
Achieve your
Reach your goal
Meet your match match
Find your meaning and purpose
Discover your faith

Pop-up Creator Apologizes

Ethan Zuckerman the acknowledged inventor of pop-up ads has of late attempted to apologize for his creation. I actually consider his appeal as bragging self-promotion.

Pop-up ads have since the 90′s have almost singlehandedly coupled with than malware, spam, social engineering have ruined the online experience.
This points out that coders need to be socially responsible for all the things they send out into the world.

On the front end they need to be aware of their ethical duty to stay within the bounds of morality and on the backend they must dread prompt and thorough enforcement they surely must come when they have unleashed such nefarious digital plagues into the ecosystem.

Malicious code can and should be considered a harmful form of terrorism fostered on an unwitting public.

Many are the computers and lost hours caused by this kind of irresponsible code.

Missing the Trend

Some companies have failed to invest in their future by failing to innovate and stay on top of prevailing trends. They often attempt to catch up and enter late pretending that they were their first. Some notable examples are Microsoft, XXX, XXX. A few major players never seemed to wisen up and have fallen completely out of favor. Examples here are: HP, Dell, Sony and others.
I rate companies as either “in trend” or “out of trend”.

“Out of tenders” more often can blame complacency and hubris.

They preferred to sit on the fence and bide their time waiting for change rather than closely monitoring where trends and markets are heading. They also too frequently fail to invest in ongoing innovation. Some stubbornly refuse to trust their staff’s insights and talent to be able raise the innovation bar preferring rather to sit back and rest on their past successes and laurels.
This can also happen to individuals and smaller who fail to recognize emerging trends and market shifts.
The key is versatility and agility. Those u that nurture those factors may emerge as leaders in new markets and be able to remain vital and profitable in the near and far future.

Ballmer Out at MS

After many years as first mate and more at the helm of Microsoft Steve Ballmer has his leave to leave to pursue a career as Basketball mogul.
Critics are mixed to deeply divided over Ballmers ultimate impact at Microsoft both before and after Bill Gates.
Some see this as the best thing that could happen. Others see this as an opportunity for Microsoft and whoever takes over. Still others predict destruction and doom for Microsoft dead ahead. Harsh critics even predict this as a calamity for the L.A. Cippers due to Ballmer’s management style. We shall see.

Illegal vs. Unethicial

Modern businesses are faced with conflicts of determining whether to implement tactics that cross imaginary lines and force them to make decisions that may bring consequences if they are revealed or caught. One such example is the recent Lyft/Uber debacle.

Other questionable methods used by some companies include user tracking, social engineering and spam phishing all in an effort to increase and enhance businesses.

The days of assuming businesses operate in our interest are over. We must all watch our own backs and use extreme caution for every little thing we do.
If this sounds like the Wild West, you’re absolutely right. Anything goes out here. In the name of money folks will say anything no matter if true and they do whatever they can get away with and damn the consequences.

When Unlimited is anything but.

If you are wondering why you are being charged fees you never contracted for or are seeing the performance of your bandwidth slow to a crawl even when you have been promised to have unlimited access it is because you are a victim of providers trying to squeeze every penny from you that they can without ever having to live up to their promises.
Fret not, you are not crazy nor are you alone.
There seems no one dealing with this issue protecting consumers and users.
There are hundreds of sneaky tactics they are using to hem us in. In the meantime costs have gone through the roof to a point they are not affordable for many if not most.

How they make us pay for data

While providers could not in most cases charge us for other people’s content their throttling schemes and toll gates are as effective in making us pay by the piece. Over time at many points they have installed unstated methods on our devices, in their networks, in the cloud, and at the sources that force us through their pay gates. All the while they continue to promise to provide high speed services which they do not deliver. And when we get feed up with lagging performance they point to a future with still higher bandwidth and advanced media options. All of which will come with arcane limits and higher costs included.

Unnecessary Logins

I sense a scheme behind sites that too frequently require users to login. If it is about avcount security that would be understandable.

It seems that anytime we need to do something useful to us far too many sites send us through a phalanx of hurdles that could easily be hacked and co-opted and used for other purposes.

In one case a spurious login had me signing up and opting in to something I never would have willingly requested.

Anytime you are required to login you should consider what you are logging into and why if you are recognized it isn’t automatically doing the trick.

Smartphone Trickery

You just knew when leading smartphone manufacturers ran out of useful ideas they would soon or eventually resort to slick tricks to gain and hold our attention and get us into stores to plunk down our hard-earned dollars.

Samsung for instance is talking 3-sided screens, LG is pitching flexible curved screens and Apple is doing what they always do, not talking and leaving their fan boys to make stuff up.

At this point much of this purely hype. Bt the end of the year we shall see which promises are kept and which are crap.

What will probably happen is they will all just imitate the hot button product of the moment. It will probably be an ultra thin, big screen, high powered, super fast phone with all of the bells and whistles we never knew we needed.

ALERT: Massive Data Breach

A Russian cyber gang has effected what’s being called the biggest data breach in recent history.

They have been able to install illicit malware on key servers in order to steal millions to billions of important passwords along with other personal information and Internet credentials from businesses that we frequently patronize as well as from thousands of other heavily used websites and services.

Users are urged to quickly secure stronger more unique passwords and avoid using the same passwords for both personal and financial sites.

Goodwill Gets Wise

Your days of combing through your local Goodwill store to find undervalued unappreciated items to sell on eBay may be numbered. Goodwill now has their own auction site: http:/www.shopgoodwill.com. and it ain’t bad either. This site will certainly not disrupt eBay anytime soon but it will have an adverse impact and affect on those that are used to snatching up stuff cheap and pricing it up for less exacting or diligent online buyers.

This will also cause Goodwill stores to know and learn more about each item that comes through their doors.

Don’t expect to find Stife teddy bears for $1.50, Steuben ware glass for $2.50, or designer shoes and handbags for under $4.99 from now on.

You should however expect Thrift Town and most other similar donation/thrift outlets to do much the same sometime soon.

It’s the end of an era. eBay has already ruined the concept of Flea Markets and to a lessor degree yard and garage sales now they are a model/template for the aftermarket industry.

You should also expect Goodwill stores to become fancy boutiques and start pricing items higher than ever before. It’s already happening!

They will also draw down funding under the guise of recycling and reuse.
They might even move towards a consignment model to pull in high end goods.

Online Twilight Zone

There are patches of time when nothing online works. Not apps, connections, servers, devices, browsers – nothing.
You try all of your usual tricks and workarounds and plumb your roster of skills still nothing.
In the final accounting there is no rhyme nor reason nor anything you can do. “You have just entered the Online Twilight Zone”.
The only thing you can think to do is shut it down, restart and hope that in time things will get right on their own.
Most of the time this tactic works that is until you have a vital mission critical task to accomplish and you simply can’t wait. SOL.

Monitored Behaviors

Long an understated and often misunderstood aspect of online life is the fact that everything you do online tells a lot about you. Marketing companies initially were the ones interested in your practices. Now with the advent and rise of Social Media just about every company in every industry wants to zero in on you. Here is the way!

If you have been less than exacting and cautious in your digital roamings some of the elements of your long-term deeply collected online profile can brand you as just about anything they want you to be or seem.

Late to the Party? (2)

If you are fairly new to the online game, don’t despair. There are trends, market spaces and other such areas of expertise that we arrive at too early or unfortunately for some too late.

Occassionaly we get there right on time for each of us. Timing differs for each.

This event horizon can and usually occur when the stars align and everything is as close to right as can be or as is necessary for us to accomplish our goals and objectives.

Such is the case of those new to or ready to seriously dive deep into the emerging world of digital technology. There are many different doors to come through or paths to competence. There are also an equal number of hinderences and roadblocks in our way as well. No challenge is any bigger than dealing with unripe, untested or incomplete ecosystems These look great at first glace but upon real world use we discover they lacking the tools and techniques needed to get it right.
We have now entered a hoped-for new realm of development when most if not all of what we need is before us.
We may still lack some of the skills demanded to master the pieces and parts, tools and technologies available but there are enough tutorials, webinars, and consultants out here to fix that if we are diligent.

We now have many of the resources and factors in place to jump right in and make a real go of practically any advanced concept from building a simple website to designing the next hot app.

We have:
* Mobile, laptop & wearable devices
* Apps
* OS and Development platforms
* Extensions and plug-ins
* Themes and templates
* Delivery systems
* Notifications
* Social Media Marketing Tools
* Messaging systems
* Learning and Support systems
* Commerce and payment solutions
* Networking solutions

Warning:
Do not get too attached to any one thing to get you there. This is the promise of Content Management Systems and templates but that is hyperbole.

Things are given to rapid unplanned disruption and charge often without warning nor purpose. The best we do is to frequently scan the innovation horizon to assure us that we are about as ready and able as we can.