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Showing posts from March, 2009

Why Printing Boarding Passes Is A Ripoff

Today was yet another reason to forgo printing your boarding pass at home. Why? The sophisticated logic of the humble airline check-in kiosk, specifically United's. When I went to check in online before my flight today, I was offered the ability to print my boarding pass. That's it. I actually got sidetracked, so I failed to. When I got to the airport, the kiosk check-in offered me: To volunteer to give up me seat in return for a free RT ticket, if needed. No obligation; I just would be the first on the list to be called upon, in case they overbooked. To change my seat and see all of the seats open around me, up to date with who had already checked in. To submit for an upgrade to first class. To optionally look at other flights, since mine looked to be delayed. To buy 5" more legroom in Economy Plus. To buy the ability to double or triple my mileage for the flight for the frequent flyer program. To buy the ability to get to the front of the Security line and be among the f

All Hail The Slider

I've been delighted with the comeback of the slider. From the humble White Castle beginnings, it has shown up with increasing regularity in many eateries, such as The Cheesecake Factory and more. The best sliders I've ever had were lovingly, organically made by some of the most loving, organic people I know, and still are the gold standard I compare everything to. Word comes today that I may be able to enjoy some sliders on my airport trips, as Johnny Rockets, that ubiquitous throwback eatery, is now adding 6 varieties of sliders to the menu, along with other so-called "mini-foods." I expect to see more clever variations on the theme soon, at other establishments. Salmon sliders? Buffalo sliders? Ostrich sliders? Maybe a chain that just serves miniature food? Oh, the marketing possibilities... In any case, join me in hailing the current ascent of the slider in our world. Go grab some for lunch, and celebrate.

Welcome To The Red Zone

Great news for football fans: DirecTV's " Red Zone" service will now be available to non-DirecTV subscribers , as part of a new deal between the NFL and the satellite carrier. What is Red Zone? "The Red Zone channel works much like the NFL Network's pre-season No Huddle program that goes from game to game. The premise of the Red Zone Channel is to bounce from game to game as a team moves the ball inside their opponents 20-yard line. A narrator alerts the viewer to an on-screen game change with a brief explanation of what is currently going on in that game." Best of all, hidden in the announcement was this juicy morsel: "Under terms of the deal with the satellite carrier, the “Red Zone” channel that shows live cut-ins from all Sunday afternoon games will be available to cable TV, wireless devices and the Internet. " NFL on iPhone, baby! Woo-hoo! Only 6 more months until the season kicks off with the Patriots against T.O's new team, the Bills. O

Salesforce on iPhone...for Free

Smart move by Salesforce today to make a "Lite" version of their mobile application free to most users. I tried the "full" version before, and was underwhelmed; certainly, I would not have paid for it. For true mobile Sales, it makes sense, but for operational folks like me that rely on its reporting capabilities, it was a dud. Free, with ability to see dashboards ain't bad, but it still needs access to Reports to be truly useful.

The Cylons Had a Plan...And Forgot It

Friday was the last episode of the groundbreaking reimaging of Battlestar Galactica, a series who's promise was only matched by the intricate plots it's amazing creator created. For four seasons (that lasted as long as six would on any other network), we watched the show peak early, and grind through, kept interested by the fact that the writers would surely finally answer all of the amazing loose ends with the finale., not quite. This great article pointed out the major plotholes that the finale had to address. Here's how they did. Warning: if you haven't watched it, and don't want to be spoiled, stop reading now. Ready? Ok. What, exactly, is this "plan" that the Cylons have? Um, none, it seems. Unless their plan was total destruction of the skinjobs, and a rebellion that got rid of most of them. Conclusion: Fail. Who (or what) are the Head People? If we are to believe the finale, they were angels. Yes, angels. Seriously. No kidding. A sci-fi s

iPhone 3.0: Taking It Up A Notch?

Apple announced an event this week to discuss the upcoming iPhone 3.0 software. Since the 2.0 version was a major change in the success of the platform, 3.0 is eagerly awaited, and, of course, the speculation has begun. Kevin Rose of Digg, who was dead on in his leaks on what would be in the iPhone 2.0, has come out with his predictions . Among them was this tidbit: "Also, the 3.0 update will have enough new features and additions to bring it up to the Palm Pre levels. Whatever Palm Pre has shown us so far, apparently, the iPhone will have too when 3.0 becomes official." Whoa. That's a pretty major statement. I'm definitely going to change up my phone, and I'm torn between the upcoming Pre and a new iPhone 3G (I'm still on the first generation). If Apple's getting close to parity on the intuition the Pre shows, I know which way I am leaning. By the way, I'm sure you are asking why I would be considering the 3G, if I already have an iPhone. Recent month

An Outlook/Google Calendar Revolution

That screenshot from my iPhone to the left is not a simple view of my calendar with multiple colors. Oh no. No, what you are seeing is, in no uncertain terms, a complete revolution. That's right: a revolution. Here's the problem that is being so elegantly solved with that innocent image. The most popular way to see calendar data in multiple applications is the popular iCal standard; iCal essentially works like an RSS feed for calendar data. Why is this interesting? Say you want to see your favorite sports team's schedule: just subscribe to their iCal feed, for example. In my case, I wanted to get my travel plans from the superb TripIt site into my Outlook and iPhone, so I'd have the details without having to have online access. Seems easy, right? Sure, but one thing: Outlook 2003 does not handle iCal feeds. I know, you're saying "Outlook 2003? Um, that's almost 6 years old, and why the heck are you using Outlook for e-mail still?" Valid question. Answe

Barnes & Noble Goes After The Kindle

E-Reader, the leading distributor of e-Books, outside of Amazon, has been purchased by Barnes & Noble today. The timing is rather fortuitous: in a way, Amazon's own marketing makes this move newsworthy. With the release of the Kindle iPhone application, Amazon has made the mainstream media aware that e-book reading on a smartphone is a real option. As a result, B&N gets some good press and looks like a cutting edge company with foresight, as opposed to a retailer ready for the endless gloom and doom so many are plagued with in these troubled times.

A Realistic Look at the Future of E-Books

TWICE, the industry magazine for consumer electronics, has an excellent, sober, and well researched piece today about the realistic potential for growth in e-books . In essence, there are several factors that will determine the future, but the biggest one seems to be the educational market: as the textbooks go, so does the mass appeal. Some interesting tidbits: In all the hubbub about the Kindle iPhone app, Stanza got missed. Stanza claims more than 1.4 million unique iPhone and iPod Touch users, and links users to a store with more than 100,000 books and periodicals. A new type of e-reader is due next year from Plastic Logic, and features a plastic screen made from plastic transistors. It's the width and height of an 8.5-inch by 11-inch sheet of paper, is less than a third of an inch thick, and weighs 16 ounces. Its dimensions make it suitable for reading magazines and documents as well as books. Plustek introduced a scanner that creates do-it-yourself audio books. It’s not an e-r

The Sound of Dead Trees Falling

If you haven't heard by now, Amazon has launched their Kindle Reader for the iPhone , and it's free. Better than that, it's good . How good? I downloaded the app in moments. Amy is an avid Kindle reader, so I put in her access info. In literally 2 seconds, every book she ever bought on her Kindle was available for me to read on the iPhone. The app itself is excellent, offering superb readability, and intuitive controls. It remembers where you are, or where you started reading on one device, and picks up on another. It is easily the most seamless syncing I have experienced on the iPhone. So what does this mean? It means every iPhone is now an eBook reader with Amazon's expansive Kindle-based selection and incredibly inexpensive prices. Yes, the e-ink of the Kindle vastly trumps the iPhone, but as a close second, it's pretty good. Not to mention the install base of iPhones is far larger than Kindles (though I have documented many Kindles in the wild on my Facebook alb

Newspapers & English

I realize newspapers are in dire economic straits, and it seems the effects are being seen on their quality. Remember: this is a format that relies upon the printed page and language to correctly communicate it's product. So, imagine my surprise as I scanned an article today in my local San Francisco Chronicle about the 49ers. In it, I found this gem: "J.T. O'Sullivan, San Francisco's starting quarterback for the first 7 1/2 games of last season..." The definition of "starting," according to, is "to begin an activity or a movement; set out." Therefore, how can the quarterback referenced above have "started" for half of a game? It's an inherent "partially pregnant." Hey, I know it's the sports pages, but these are supposedly folks with degrees, right? Or at least they have editors who are supposed to catch these things?

Who Plays the Watchmen?

It was not my intention for these recent posts to be so focused on the upcoming Watchmen movie, but hey, I'm an addict. ;-) Apparently, I may not be alone, as a new game for the iPhone rolls out the same day as the movie, allowing you to immerse yourself in the gritty rich world of the Watchmen. These games, called MMO's, offer more of a free-form approach to exploring a world. In this case, I think they have to do a lot of convincing for me to want to sign up. Judge for yourself:

Coffee as Marketing?

An odd way to promote the upcoming Watchmen movie: bring an obscure coffee from an obscure scene to life and sell it online . Look, I'm a huge Watchmen fan, and I just got done watching the entire series run in Motion Comics , but I don't get this. For instance, in the scene this references, the coffee was not "Nite Owl," at least as far as I remember. Even if it was, it was not significant. What was significant in the scene was the use of a special brand of sugar cubes, which led the police to discover two of the protagonists. If you were interested in branding so much, why not use that?