Category Archives: General Technology

Roku 3

Earlier this year I had to make a decision.  My DVD player was on its last legs and I wanted to start watching Netflix without relying on snail mail.                                                          Roku3

I’m not a big fan of network television; I watch sporting events and the occasional movie.  I mainly wanted something to stream Netflix and open up some online viewing options.  My original research pointed to a blu-ray player or a little device called a Roku.  I hadn’t heard of the Roku before and this was just when the Roku 3 was coming out.  I read a number of reviews of the 3 from various sites – everybody loved it.

I looked at various blu-ray players.  They were good, but nothing really stood out.  I also realized that I only needing something connecting me to the internet – I wasn’t going to watch a blu-ray video any other way.

The Roku was the way to go for me.  I checked my two standard purchasing options – Costco and Amazon – but neither would be able to sell the Roku 3 for another month.  Voila, off to the Roku website and a few days later it arrived.

Setup was easy and a short time later I was connected to Netflix.  Investigating the device, I found I actually liked the Amazon Instant Video a lot better than Netflix.  They frequently seemed to have better videos (at least they appealed to me more) than Netflix.  There are also a lot of other channels that you can watch – okay, there are 61 just sports channels.  Even I think that’s nuts.

Anyway, eight months later and I’mRoku video a very satisfied Roku fan.  If you want more information, here’s a short video on the device.

Although I have a lot of good things to say about the Roku, I saw a preview of the Xbox one today.  If I was a console gamer, that device looks pretty cool.

The Everything Store

I just finished The Everything Store, the history of Amazon.com by Brad Stone (@bradstone).  51N7s0z8kXL._SL160_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-dp,TopRight,12,-18_SH30_OU01_AA160_I pre-ordered the book around 6 weeks ago when I heard Brad Stone moderate a panel discussion on the future of retailing at a GeekWire event in Seattle.

Stone asked interesting and thought-provoking questions of the panelists.  I thought his book on Amazon might be an interesting topic given the company’s role in creating the internet experience we all have today.  I didn’t think reading the book would be the “popular thing to do.”  I don’t do a good job of following the herd.

Well, the book certainly didn’t disappoint.  There was plenty of information on Jeff Bezos’ single-minded focus on the customer experience as he established and lead Amazon from the garage roots to the corporate leadership role it has today.  A number of stories weren’t flattering of Bezos; he seems to have a bit of a temper and uses and leaves by the wayside both employees and corporate partners.

Still, the book also has a number of asides showing the amazing vision Bezos had in leading Amazon while also growing as a person. While I’m certainly happy that I never worked at Amazon, I’m equally certain that we’d have a much less vibrant and impactful internet if Bezos hadn’t been the leader of Amazon.  And I don’t think that would have made us better.

Back to my comment on reading this book being the “popular thing to do.”  When I started this article, the book was #59 on Amazon’s list of best sellers.  As I’m finishing, the book is now #57.  As I’ve said, I enjoyed the book.  But how much of the bump is due to Bezos’ wife MacKenzie and former Amazon executive Rick Dalzell panning the book on the Amazon website because of technical inaccuracies.  They point to incorrect dates, or missing information to call into validity everything in the book.  Interestingly, Dalzell still gave the book 3 stars out of 5.

Personally, I didn’t read the book expecting it to be the definitive guide to Amazon.com.  There’s a lot more left to write in that story.  I wanted to experience the flavor of the man and the company he’s lead into such a position of prominence.  In that, the book was very successful.

You can find the Kindle version of the book The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon

Kindle First

Kindle FirstAmazon has added a new feature to their Amazon Prime program — Kindle First.

This will give Prime members access to books a month before they are publicly available.  Early is good, but the best part is you get to choose one book for free.  The free book doesn’t count against your Kindle Lending Library book-a-month allotment.  It’s just a new book that you get to keep.

The benefits to the customer are obvious.  It’s a free book.  I didn’t need to do anything different.  Just select a book.  I can read it on any Kindle or Kindle reading app.

For Amazon, there are also some great benefits:

  • The selection of books isn’t vast (there are 4 on the docket for November).
  • They are all books published by Amazon so they’re promoting their own work.
  • it further reinforces the value of the Amazon Prime program, and Prime members are very loyal Amazon customers.

Time will tell whether I can always find a compelling book among those available.  And I don’t know whether there will always be 4 books and whether they will always be Amazon-published.  But, I think this is a nice start.  What do you think?

 

The Big Exit

There were a number of great stories at GeekWire Startup Day (#GWStartupday), but none like that of Dave Cotter, CEO of SquareHub.

Dave Cotter,  CEO of SquareHub

Dave Cotter,
CEO of SquareHub

His talk was titled “The Big Exit.”  Given the venue and the audience it might be about selling your startup or perhaps closing the door because there just wasn’t enough traction. Or perhaps it was a tale of making it through an IPO.

Actually the title didn’t refer to any of those.  It meant the exit all of us have.  Death.

It wasn’t a Halloween tale full of ghosts and goblins — although it sounded like some of Dave’s former colleagues might live in that world.  It was about a man in the prime of a life filled with work in the fast-paced tech industry suffering a stroke.

In the hospital he was surrounded by thoughts.  I’m sure he had people with him some of the time — he’s too engaging a character to be completely alone.  But the wife, who was now an ex-wife, and the three daughters he admitted to not knowing all that well, really made him think.

He started a change.  He made a list of the 10 people who meant the most to him in this life.  And he vowed to pay them back, not in wild, extravagant, meaningless ways.  But to pay them back with the simple things of contact, recognition, surprises and understanding.

When we each make our own list, and I’m sure you’re thinking about it now, you need to make sure you add your own name.   You need to be part of whats most meaningful in your life to enjoy and share the full benefit.

Check out SquareHub, his new gig.  It’s an application made for friends and families to connect.

GeekWire Startup Day

I’m at the Geekwire Startup Day event. The agenda looks great — a full day of capitalism at its most basic. I hope to have a lot of information to share in the coming days.

Google Analytics Academy

Google AnalyticsToday I finished some very interesting training through the Google Analytics Academy on the fundamentals of digital analytics.

It’s a free, self-paced course that has 6 courses with a number of sub-topics in each course.  You can hook up with the course here.  Each topic has a video along with a text handout.  The course starts with a basic discussion of analytics and definitions so everyone is on the same footing.  At the end of each topic there are a few questions to test you on the material you just learned.  In the first few units, the questions at the end hadn’t always been covered in either the video or the written information, but that kept it interesting.

At the end, you take a final assessment exam with a number of multiple choice questions.  Don’t worry, the exam is open book –and open computer for that matter –and you can change answers, if needed until you get 80% right and earn a certificate.

The course gives you great insight into the power and potential of Google Analytics and I thought it was well worth the time.

If you’re interested, though, you better hurry up.  The course will only be available until October 30th. 


Startup Day — October 25th

I’ve got my ticket and am anxious to attend this Friday’s Startup Day sponsored by GeekWire in Seattle. 

There are a lot of great speakers planned — both start up CEO’s and venture capital  guys.  Whether you’re a start up company needing direction, an investor looking for new investment ideas or someone fascinated by the early stages of capitalism, there should be something for each of us.

 Banner

They Buried the Lead

After viewing a nice interview between Bill Gates and David Rubenstein of Harvard that you’ll find here, I realized that everyone publishing the interview completely buried the lead.

All the announcements talked about Gates acknowledging that the key sequence CTRL-ALT-DELETE, was a mistake.  They shouldn’t have required that sequence to start up a computer.

That was the most important thing they got out of a nearly hour-long interview.  Really?

Personally, I was much more interested in the evolution of the intense, driven 20-something computer software fanatic into a 50-something self-effacing philanthropist.  You hear stories from the man who casually refers to his friends Warren, Paul and Steve and how those real-life tales changed his life and the lives we all lead.

You seen the consistent playful byplay Gates had with Rubenstein and it brings a previously unsuspected humanity to the myth that time and wealth helped create.