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December 30, 2006

WiFi Fridge

I got so excited when I saw this that I dropped my phone and my memory card popped out and flew under a washing machine. This is a pretty common reaction I think.

On the right door is a TV display. I'm not sure if it is HD. The small display on the left is where you set up the wireless connection, get recipes off the internet and view your photo albums.

I wonder if I could hook up the Xbox to it?

Update 1 The fridge is made by LG and it has already been discontinued from Smarthome.com.  It only has one connection to the display, and it is Coax, so you could connect an Xbox, but the resolution wouldn't be good and you'd need a switch to be able to watch TV or a DVD.  It's a nice Version One by LG.  Being able to get the day's weather is something I've always wanted to do with a refrigerator, and the Aniversary Reminder feature is a nice touch.  I can't wait to see Version Two.

Update 2 This is a video of the fridge.

December 30, 2006 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


I was driving through Atlanta when the Garmin GPS suction-cupped to the windshield of the rented Chevy began to glow.  My stomach was doing flip flops as I realized that I was closing in on a Frys.  Many years ago I discovered by accident the wild west of the Palo Alto Frys and since then I've been drawn to Frys like I'm drawn to, well, fries.


The Atlanta Frys seems to be bigger than most Wal-Marts.  I knew I was home when a guy walked up to his car, hit the remote and a second after hearing the beep of his car alarm, the engine started.  The guy just grinned.  You need remote starting in Atlanta to warm it up on those cool winter nights.


I was tempted to stop at the cafeteria, for a Jolt and a Moon Pie, but I had promised I wouldn't be gone long. I decided to walk every isle to see what was new.

Motherboards Frys has something for every geek.  Building a computer?  Check out the Wall of Motherboards. Network

Building a network?  That's 64 feet of gear stacked five shelves high.


Need an Oscilloscope?  There must be $100,000 of inventory in this store alone. 

Resistors How about an isle of nothing but resistors and capacitors? Probably more parts than all the Radio Shacks in Georgia carry. Refrigerators

Frys isn't just about electronics though. The have more refrigerators than the average Best Buy.

They have 24 feet of shelves full of TV wall mounts.  Not TVs, just wall mounts.  Who knows how many actual TVs they have in stock.

They have 88 feet of phones, but that isn't counting cell phones or the 14 feet of VoIP, video and conference phones. I particularly liked the looks of the Ojo Phone by Motorola.


Speaking of appliances, they of course had a vacuum cleaner section and a large display of Rumba robotic vacuum cleaners.  But who else stocks the TracVac, a robotic, remote controlled NASCAR vac that is ". . .so fun. you'll find yourself throwing stuff on the floor to use it!"  You can get the Lowes number 48 vac, or Jeff Gordon's number 24.


Throughout the store there were special displays of random things.  Like the display of 10 outlet power strips.  Each display (there were at least two) were 4 feet by 4 feet by 5 feet high.  I wonder if the TSA would have let me carry one on the plane?


The best part of Frys is the checkout lanes.  In my picture you can see 34 cashier stations.  To get to one of the stations you walk through a maze of junk food, gadgets, batteries and gag gifts.  What you can't see in the photo are the 36 cashier stations on the other side.  That's right - at full capacity they can check out 70 people at one time.

The most amazing thing?  I didn't buy anything!

December 30, 2006 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

December 29, 2006


Just testing.  Thanks Jason!

December 29, 2006 in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 26, 2006


One of the My Way blogs that I read is 2-Speed by Will Herman.  Today he had a post called Think - A Good Reminder To Do Just That.  I tried to leave a comment, but for some reason I couldn't get it or an email to go through, so I thought I'd just share the story here.

Will tells the story of IBM's "Think" slogan and he has a photo of the very same Think plaque that I have on my desk at work. 

Update 1 The link to Will's photo stopped working, so I'll have to take a photo of mine and post it.  Until then you can click here to see a great webpage of Think plaques and IBM collectables at IBM-Collectables.com.

My dad always had this plaque on his desk at home when I was growing up, and now I have the desk and the plaque in my office.  Reading Will's post reminded me of one of my early lessons in customer service.

My dad was an IBM'er and I have that exact Think plaque on my desk now.  I grew up being reminded to "think" and I learned a lot about integrity and customer service by watching my dad.  When my dad died, he had a printer in pieces at home that he was repairing for a customer.  This was back in the 70s when printers were big mechanical things.  It was long out of support and there was no one else locally who knew anything about it.

Since my mom had helped him disassemble and clean the printer, she offered to put it back together for the customer.  I believe she could have done it too, but the customer insisted that the printer be allowed to pass.  Even though my dad had just died, my mom wanted to keep the commitment that he made, which was to take care of his customer.  I would never expect a Gold Systems person to be that customer-focused, but then IBM didn't either - that was just my dad's nature, and my mom's too.  They believed in keeping their commitments and helping others. 

December 26, 2006 in Entrepreneurship | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

December 23, 2006

home safe

52 hour delay - a personal record, but I'm still smiling!

December 23, 2006 in Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 22, 2006

so close yet so far

I made it to Denver, but we've been sitting on the ramp for 90 minutes waiting for the person to wave us in the last 50 feet. The story is that most of the ground crews couldn't get to work today, so they are only handling a few at a time.

I'm still smiling, though it has been a long day and I still have to dig out the FJ.

December 22, 2006 in Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Spiremedia advice for non-profits

In November I asked for help from anyone who wanted to help a few local non-profits with their websites.  The demand is greater than the supply, so if you want to help you can still email me.  I asked my friend Mike Gellman for advice.  Mike started SpireMedia in 1998 during the dot com boom, and he survived the bust and has a great business that has customers such as Echostar, MapQuest a bunch of the Colorado ski resorts.  I admire Mike's perseverance and creativity, so I asked him, "What should a non-profit with a very limited budget do for a website?"  His answer was so good I asked if I could just publish his email.  Here it is:

Here are my thoughts on non-profits. The first thing they should do is see if one of their volunteers knows how to make web sites. Some of the best non-profit sites have come from people are truly passionate about the organizations. Plus, they will always be available to update and maintain it.
Next, they should start contacting local web firms, especially smaller, newer ones, to see if they have a non-profit budget or want to develop a marquis site for exposure, access to donors, or display in their portfolio. A lot of the newer firms need live sites that will display their talent. They may decide to do the site for free or at a majorly discounted rate. Many of these companies will also have a rudimentary content management system that they include, which will allow the non-profit to update it themselves.
Finally, if they can't find a donor, they should consider using some of the inexpensive online site building tools like Godaddy or Yahoo Small Business. These tools offer templated designs, content management, and if necessary, e-commerce for anywhere between $10-$50/month. Once established, they site can be managed by an administrator who doesn't have any web knowledge.
Overall, non-profits need web sites that will provide up-to-date information. They do not need to be too extravagant AND they definitely should not take large amounts of money from their budgets that can be spent elsewhere. The previous three options should get them where they need to be.
-- Mike
Thanks Mike!

December 22, 2006 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Real-time flight tracking

Here's another travel tip.  You can track flights in real-time at http://flightaware.com/ and other sites.  Flightaware is showing me exactly where the plane is that will be used for my flight out of here.  It also predicts that it will arrive here at 5:04, which is about ten minutes after my airline claims I'll be departing.  Assuming the airline is not changing planes, that means my airline is fibbing a bit and I'm going to be delayed again.

That reminds me of the time that my airline was saying that the flight was delayed because of fog in San Francisco and I brought up a web cam of the airport showing nice sunny skies.  Never lie to your customer.  It's bad karma and you will probably get caught.

December 22, 2006 in Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Travel tips

On Tuesday I left Denver to visit some customers, expecting to return home on Wednesday.  It's now Friday afternoon and I'm still not home.  As you probably know Denver got clobbered by a big snow storm that dropped 30 inches of snow at my house.  The Person Who Prefers Not To Be Blogged About just dug out this afternoon after being snowed in for almost three days.

I'm sitting in an airport still waiting to get home, so assuming I really do leave this afternoon I will have set a personal record for a flight delay of 48 hours.  Everyone I've talked to is surprised that I'm not upset about this, so I thought I would share a few travel tips that have helped me keep my good humor.

  1. Keep smiling - you really can choose your attitude.  Being annoyed is not going to help and it will just ruin your day.  Who would you rather help?  Someone who is mad and acting like a jerk or someone who's taking the delays in stride?  I once got bumped into first class and got home while the guy ahead of me got stuck and probably had his baggage sent to Alaska.  The difference - he yelled at the gate agent because of a mechanical problem with the plane, and I simply smiled and told her that I understood it wasn't her fault and that I appreciated her trying to get me home.  The longer the delay, the more fun it is to be smiling while everyone else is losing their head.
  2. Enjoy your time - yesterday I spent a few hours exploring the city.  I can work from anywhere and it was fun to sit in a new coffee shop and answer emails.  I enjoy seeing new places so no matter where I am I can find a new neighborhood to explore.  Having a portable GPS really helps too.  I just head off in an interesting direction, knowing that I can always get back to my hotel.  Now that I'm at the airport, I'm catching up on emails, making a few calls and generally just enjoying some time where I have no choice but to sit still.
  3. Be creative - There might just be another route home that the airlines won't volunteer, so having someone to help look for alternatives can mean the difference between getting home and spending another night away from home.  I'm lucky to have someone helping me who doesn't take no for an answer, and for less than the price of another night in a hotel I'm (fingers crossed) going to be home tonight.  The airline originally said I would not get home until sometime next week.
  4. Travel light - I have a small bag that I don't have to check, so last minute changes don't disrupt my travel as much.  I sometimes have to buy new clothes on the road, but it gives me something to do when I get stuck.
  5. Keep it in perspective - I'm traveling on business and I'm on my way home.  There are lots of people in the world who have it a lot worse than I do, even if I do sleep in a terminal tonight.  This is a bump in the road.

Safe travels!


December 22, 2006 in Travel | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 20, 2006

Customer obsessed and company values

I happened to meet a person from Amazon.com this week and when I was introduced to him and I said, "I'm a customer" the first thing out of his mouth was, "Are you happy?  Are we doing a good job?"  I love that, especially since it was pretty far from his job description to care about individual customers.  (Or so I thought)

I'm a big amazon.com fan.  It seems like they are always innovating and everything they do seems to be designed to make it easier for the customer.  I made my first amazon.com purchase in September of 1996 - ten years ago - and in that time I've had two problems, and both were resolved not just to my satisfaction but each resolution exceeded my expectations.

A few years ago I bought a Wise Crackin' Shrek and Wise Crackin' Donkey from amazon.com.  (They do speech recognition - it's my job to understand this stuff.)  Donkey was fine, but Shrek was stuck in demo mode.  On Saturday I went to the amazon.com website and filled out a return request page.  On Sunday I discovered an email saying that a new Shrek was being shipped on Monday to me, and that I should return the broken Shrek, postage paid by amazon.  The new Shrek arrived on Tuesday as promised.  I became an even bigger fan.

Thinking about my new amazon friend I did a little poking around on the website and found the company values.  Sure enough, number one is Customer Obsession, and number four is Ownership.  This person definitely fits the values.  If you are a skeptic about the idea of company values, like I was once, think of it like this.  Company values are the basic characteristics that you look for when you hire a new person.  The person's character really.  And sometimes they are the characteristics that force you to fire a person.  If you find yourself saying, "they just didn't fit" then it was probably a values mismatch.

Jim Collins writes about core values in Built to Last, which of course is a bestseller on amazon.com.  I see that he also now has a great selection of mp3s available on his website, including one one titled "Getting Back to Values and Other Lessons on IBM."

Disclaimer:  Years ago I bought a few shares of amazon.com for my IRA, but that's not why I'm writing this.  Also if you buy anything I've linked to on the amazon.com website, I make a dollar or two, but trust me that doesn't even pay my monthly hosting bill.  I just really admire the company and it was fun to meet someone who works there and who really is customer obsessed.

Update One  This is what I'm talking about.  I just checked to see if I had the link to Built to Last correct, and I noticed something new.  For some time, amazon has made it possible to view pages from a lot of the books they sell, but you could only view excerpts.  Here's what I saw today:

Amazonreader Online books?  What online books?  It turns out that I have nine books that I've purchased in the past that can be upgraded to "read online."  The price to upgrade ranges from $2.49 to $10.59.  What's really interesting is that of the seven books, four are by local authors Jana Matthews, Richard Hackathorn and Theresa Szczurek.  Cool!

December 20, 2006 in Entrepreneurship | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack