The Typewriter Breathes New Life

A couple weeks ago I read an article in our local newspaper, the Tampa Tribune that I thought would be fun to write about. The article talked about how consumers are “embracing the past” looking for old telephones, Airstream travel trailers and typewriters.

The article notes: “We see this as a manifestation of objectifying objects, the idea of replacing virtual worlds with physical counterparts, people fetishizing tactile things.”

I love technology and simply by my association with Xplor, I am certainly able to keep ahead of the average person (my age).  I have a PC, iPhone, iPad.  I Facetime, Skype, tweet, blog and post to Facebook.  All of which were not around 5-6 years ago. (with the exception of the PC)

I have embraced technology and leaving my virtual footprint.

But are we headed for a reversal? The article continues on to say: “The modern world is so full of perfect flat-screens and virtual, always-connected services from a digital “cloud,” Berelowitz said, that people feel drawn to a low-tech world with a human touch and feel. The imperfection and iron heft of a typewriter or orange glow of an old light bulb suddenly has strong emotional draw.”

I do enjoy new technology and new ways to communicate but I do sometimes long for “the good old days”, when things seemed to be simpler.

This new fascination of embracing the past does provide opportunity to have it both ways. The one product that caught my eye would marry my iPad with a typewriter. I do plan to order one, as soon as I find a typewriter. See website: http://www.usbtypewriter.com/

If this catches on, all those old, dusty typewriters sitting on shelves and antique shops will suddenly be breathing new life and increase in value.

The bigger questions to me are:  Will virtual peak?  Will we be drawn back to more human interaction?

To read the complete article click here: http://www2.tbo.com/lifestyles/flavor/2012/jul/10/namaino1-old-is-whats-new-ar-427546/

Is the demise of QR greatly exaggerated or a lesson for marketers?

RIP QR Codes????? ….. Really?????

One of the things I enjoy most about new technologies and processes is the ongoing debate of their validity, acceptance and predictions of their demise. QR codes are certainly not exempt from the discussion.

In an article sent to me by Mark Bonacorso of Media Ink (Xplor’s PR company) that was published in the Tucson Weekly they actually celebrate what they call the demise of the QR code.

“Due to the rapidly changing nature of information technology, it shouldn’t surprise anyone when a heavily lauded innovation winds up as a relative flop—and after the hype over QR codes, with claims that we’d spend hours each day scanning them to get information delivered to us on our phones, I’m actually sort of happy to watch the obituaries for them pile up.”

Their notable stat is that “Bloomberg News looked at the rapid demise of the QR code this week, and after all of that coverage of the technology, it’s estimated that only 5 percent of Americans scan one any given week—and that’s partially because most of these codes take us to destinations we don’t really like.” (To read the whole article: http://www.tucsonweekly.com/tucson/weekly-wide-web/Content?oid=3436949)

Conversely, I have just finished the latest InfoTrend report “How to Be Successful with QR Codes” and it is full of best practices, case studies, design tips and more.

What I surmised after reading the report that it is not necessarily the technology but the application of it.

Any thoughts?

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For more information, or to order the report please visit: http://store.infotrendsresearch.com/product_p/124380.htm

Thanks for stopping by!

The Cloud Turns 50

Read a brief but interesting article this morning by Denise Miano entitled, “Computing in the Cloud is Trendy — but is it really the next new thing?”

Denise brought up some great points and did a great job defining some of the attributes, benefits and definitions of the cloud.

As she pointed out the fundamental concept of the cloud was derived from “timesharing”, conceptually introduced in 1957 and first suggested in 1961 by Stamford Professor, John McCarthy.

To read the whole article click here

The Auerbach Guide to Timesharing 1973 edition lists 125 different timesharing services using equipment from Burroughs, CDC, DEC, HP, Honeywell, IBM, RCA, Univac and XDS. Think about how many of these computer companies are no longer in business.

So it appears we have gone full circle. Timesharing (the cloud), to centralized with everything on your laptop or desktop and now we are heading back to the cloud. (Ross Perot would be proud).

Of concern is what I call “all your eggs in one basket”. If your laptop fails, and you have not backed it up, the loss can be devastating. But you control whether you do back-ups and the frequency.

It may be because I was young when timesharing was in its heyday but I don’t remember the term computer virus. What could a lethal virus do?

I do remember computer bug however, but not virus. For those of you under 40 a little about the first computer bug, which in fact was a real bug: http://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/comphist/objects/bug.htm

In a pure cloud environment, what control do you have? What is your cloud providers strategy for disaster recovery? What are your liabilities?

Certainly questions you should ask.  Are our heads in the cloud on this?

Tweeted Autographs – The New Digital Souvenir

The other day I read ashort article titled: “Retweets becoming digital version of autographs”. Being a collector for years of sports memorabilia (hopefully to put in my sports bar one day), I was trying to figure out how the new “digital autographs” will work and what their value is.

The article

Forget standing in line for hours, hoping for a scribbled, barely legible autograph on a wrinkled piece of paper. Or jockeying for spots behind the dugout on the off chance a signed ball or batting glove gets tossed your way.

When it comes to souvenirs from your favorite athlete, the retweet is where it’s at these days.

Fans have turned Twitter into a digital version of the autograph session, asking — sometimes begging or pleading — stars from every sport for a shoutout. Social media experts say the retweet allows fans to feel a “connection’’ to their favorite athletes, erasing the traditional barrier between superstars and the ordinary folks who adore them. Read article here: http://tinyurl.com/6n667yy

Great memories are attached to many of the autographs I acquired over the years, mostly at games with my Dad, my kids or charity events. None of those I would give up for a re-tweet.

I am sure some entrepreneurial person will come up with a way to catalogue and preserve the re-tweets but so what. Can’t look at them, nor display them.

Same holds true for e-books I have found out. My 9 year old daughter published a great hardback book that she wrote and illustrated, autographing it and giving it to me for Christmas.  This is certainly one of my most prized possessions.  On the other hand she recently found a kids program called Storybird, wrote another book and sent me the link. (Great program for kids)  http://tinyurl.com/6t6z52g

I of course loved it, but it can’t replace the autographed hardback in my office.

There is a time and place for digital. But retweets, don’t think so.

Lunch and Learn, information at its best!

Yesterday was the April edition of the monthly “Lunch and Learn” program entitled More QR/AR Fun. Moderator, and industry veteran, Pat McGrew, was her brilliant and charismatic self and once again assembled a great panel of industry experts.

The program, entering its 4th year continues to gain momentum and expand. What is unique about the Lunch and Learn is that it is completely vendor neutral no matter who is on the panel, Pat sees to it. It is 100% information.

The webinars are free and run from April through October 2012 very third Thursday of each month at 1:00 pm EST.

If you have a topic you would like us to discuss let us know. Also, if after reviewing upcoming events you would like to be a member of a panel. Contact me at skip@xplor.org or via phone at 813-949-6170.

Upcoming webinars include:

  • May 17: Back to Basics – AFP, PDF and Transforms! No matter how much you work with AFP. PDF, metacode, PCL and the other print languages of the business world, there is always more to learn and a lot to share. In this edition of the Lunch & Learn’s we’ll talk about what’s new in AFP (yes, there are still updates!), and what’s new in PDF. It’s always lively when talk turns to print streams and transforms
  • June 21: Technology Basics: Designing for Print and Pixel. Last year’s design webinar resulted in a record turnout, so it’s back. Come hear from design professionals as they help us understand how technology impacts your selection of fonts, colors and design techniques. We’ll take questions in advance.
  • July 19: Back to Basics – Workflow (More than just a controller!) When we say “workflow” what do you think of? For some it’s Automated Document Factory, for some it’s the Digital Front End and for still others it’s everything from job creation to insertion into the mail stream. No matter where you are in the mix, we’ll be talking about something that will be relevant to you!
  • August 16: Educating your Team: What do they need to know and how do you educate them? Each year new people come in to the industry and often they have a limited understanding of creating work that will go in to the mail stream, delivered via secure email or digital post services. In this webinar we’ll talk about the basic needs for education and what type of mentoring plan can work to ensure that your team up-to-date and on board with technology changes!
  • September 20: Multi-channel Delivery Alternatives – What should you be thinking about? digital mail boxes, augmented reality, intelligent/smart print, email, web services, SMS and a host of other technologies are available to deliver information to our customers. We’re gathering experts to help sort out the options and help point you to where the best practices are emerging today.
  •  October 18: Fall Wrap Up: What’s New, What’s Emerging. It’s a drupa year, and that always means announcements that get us thinking about the future. For this wrap up we’ll look at the most interesting announcements of the year and talk about how they impact the world that Xplorers live in.

The Lunch and Learn webinars are being produced by the Xplor Document University, the educational arm of Xplor International and sponsored by HP. All of the webinars are complimentary and open to anyone interested in participating. For more information visit www.xplor.org.

Hope you join us.

Digital gone bad?

The other day I read an article titled: “Retweets becoming digital version of autographs”. Being a collector for years of sports memorabilia (hopefully to put in my sports bar one day), I was trying to figure out how the new “digital autographs” will work and what their value is.

Read article here: http://tinyurl.com/6n667yy

Great memories are attached to many of the autographs I acquired over the years mostly, at games with my kids or charity events. None of those I would give up for a retweet.

I am sure some entrepreneurial person will come up with a way to catalogue and preserve the retweets but so what. Can’t look at them, nor display them.

Same holds true for books. My 9 year old daughter published a great hardback book that she wrote and illustrated, autographing it and giving it to me for father’s day.  This is certainly one my most prized possessions.  On the other hand she recently found a kids program called Storybird, wrote another book and sent me the link. (Great program for kids)  http://tinyurl.com/6t6z52g

I of course loved it, but it can’t replace the autographed hardback in my office.

Maybe I can have a digital display in my sports bar with all the retweets I don’t have and will not collect.

Have we gone too digital?

Economic Indicator…. Christmas Cards?

I am trying to figure out why it seems my wife and I are receiving fewer Christmas cards
this year. After giving some thought, these are the possibilities I came up with:

  • The economy
  • More electronic email greetings
  • Facebook has made them irrelevant
  • I am getting older and more of my friends are no longer “of this world”
  • I ticked off a lot of people
  • All of the above

I must admit, I do look forward to receiving Christmas cards, especially the ones that have family pictures. It is great to see how people change and how their kids have grown in the last year.

Another reason I like picture cards is that, many of the people who send us cards we don’t see for years and it significantly increases the chances that if by chance I do run into them, I just might know who they are.

And I can’t forget to comment on the “Christmas Letters”. These narrative descriptions provide highlights of the year  and allows people an opportunity to brag a bit about their kids, which is a good thing.

On the other hand, some Christmas letters telling me about your 14 vacations, 3 new cars, the new lake house, blah, blah, blah ….. Happy for you, but really don’t want to hear about it. (Bah Humbug!)

My wife and I have forgone the Christmas letter the last couple years. With eight kids and a few grandkids the letter turned into a small novel.  And since I have 8 kids, I probably won’t ever be able to write about 14 vacations, 3 new cars and a lake house.

So my question is: Have you received more or less cards this year? Why do you think that is?

My best wishes to all of you for a Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2012. (Happy Holidays to those that do not celebrate Christmas).

Until next year.

Technology “bah-humbug”?

At a Christmas party I attended last weekend a discussion evolved about the “curse” of Google and the accessibility of information children have today. Being a “glass half full” person my position quickly morphed into supporting the availability of information and the fact that like anything, it can be a blessing or a curse, depending on how one uses it.

In 1897 a little girl named, Virginia O’Hanlon wrote the following letter to the New York Sun newspaper.

Dear Editor—

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O’Hanlon

Little Virginia did not have Google, or television for that matter. The newspaper was “the” source of information for current events, in fact commercial radio did not become available until the 1920’s.

The famous reply, written by Francis P. Church of the Sun started like this: “Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the scepticism of a sceptical age.” (Read the rest of the reply at http://www.newseum.org/yesvirginia/ )

But have we all become affected by the scepticism of a sceptical age?

A simple Google search asking the question “Is Santa Claus real?” generated 33,400,000 hits and the first entry is a video of Santa coming down the chimney: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dp7zWs8fHeE

In fact there are more entries validating the existence of Santa than not. (At least in the first 4-5 pages) So what does that say about technology and information?

  • Information is exactly that, information, not necessarily fact
  • One must interpret, analyze and draw conclusions based on information
  • All conclusions are not created equal
  • Scepticism in a sceptical age can be a blessing or a curse. Depends on you.

My best to all for a Merry Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate) and a prosperous 2012.

The Flying Bus

I read an article in the paper last week about airlines significantly expanding advertising on airplanes, although airlines are no strangers to advertising with ads in the airlines magazines and commercials on the in-flight video system.

Coming to a plane near you:  Ads on overhead bins, tray tables, air sickness bags (could have fun with this), snack box lids, coffee cups, napkins, etc.

Over the summer, Ryanair, the European low-cost carrier, installed advertising panels on the covers of the overhead luggage compartments and on the backs of closed tray tables. US airlines are already offering to brand whole planes.

I think however, they have missed some key opportunities: how about footprints down the jetway with a company logo on it saying something “your journey to savings”. Or a logo on the flight attendants back or even better yet the pilot and co-pilot. (for a premium) How about a cabin “decorated by (insert name)”.  Or maybe emergency lighting courtesy of __________.

The flying bus is on the way. Does it make sense? Some airlines offer WIFI, and cell phone service may be on the way.  So the relatively captive audience today will have wired in. Maybe a couple of QR codes to scan on the way to the rest room would provide some entertainment, especially if there is a line.

Should airlines join the rest of the world and cover every inch of available space with advertising? What are your thoughts regarding losing the last bastion of “relatively free” peace and quiet?

Lifetime Revenue

How long is a lifetime? Never gave it much thought until I heard the term “lifetime revenue” at a Pitney Bowes Users Conference. The spirit of the conversation focused on loyalty driven by great products and great service, boosting lifetime revenue. And ideally, that certainly is the case.

Not quite sure why the term is intriguing to me, as it is not the first time I have heard it.

However, is it loyalty or indifference that keeps us doing business with someone or something else?

A couple examples: (Just a few)

• I have been a cardholder for “x” company since 1988. I pay an annual fee and quite frankly I am not overly satisfied with the company, the benefits or how they handled things during the credit crunch. Some of the perks are beneficial, many I do not use. They are quick telling me when new benefits are added and but do a bad job, when benefits are eliminated. Nothing worse showing up at an airline club and being turned away. But I still carry their card and pay the annual fee.

• My cell phone provider. Cheaper plans are available. Don’t like their changes regarding data usage, but I am grandfathered in, so really was not affected. I am upset over their change in policy for rollover minutes. I have called their customer service line and they have been more than happy crediting disputed (and even non-disputed) amounts and even gave me back my roll over minutes. Are they looking at “lifetime revenue” when they do this? It’s kind of like golf, one good shot and you are back. Kudos to their customer service dept.

• A second cardholder, where I have banked for almost 20 years, found it beneficial to cutmy credit limit by 70% during the credit crunch despite charging and paying off large amounts of merchandise or services on time and in 90 days or less. They also saw fit to raise my interest rate by 9%. The interest rate they charge on the card used to be called “loan sharking” when I was younger. They did raise my credit limit again, as a “valued customer”.

No indifference here. Still carry their card. Pay no annual fee (yet) and I use it once a month to buy Starbucks coffee. The minute they charge me an annual fee, I cancel the card.

• They say the hardest things to find are a good accountant, an honest lawyer and a honest mechanic. My mechanic is the best. He is honest and I trust him. Won’t fix things that don’t need to be fixed. Recommends OEM, refurbished or used parts, when it makes sense and there are never any surprises when I go and pick up my car. Not expensive, but not cheap either. He is young and I would never think about changing.

So what does drive “lifetime revenue”? The product, service, ethics, a great customer service organization or trust? Or is it all of the above?