Testing a newsletter. Want to help?

Screen Shot 2013-12-17 at 6.57.57 AMHey all, I’m test­ing out some news­let­ter soft­ware for Tess’s Steeped Tea con­sultancy and I’ve a favour to ask; I want to test it tonight but need warm bod­ies to receive it and offer feed­back 🙂 If you want to help, sign up here (http://g1z.me/1fjAbBk). Feel free to unsub­scribe after the test, or if you can’t (soft­ware fubar etc) then just let me know and I’ll remove you.

Ques­tions? Com­ments? Let me know!

And thanks for let­ting me ping you about this!

– Brad

Two words I thought I’d never see together: Library & Groupon

I must say I’m rather proud of the Edmon­ton Pub­lic Lib­rary — my loc­al lib­rary. They were one of the first in Canada to:

  • offer free Wi-Fi to mem­bers,
  • jump into social media,
  • equip branches with self-check­out barscan­ners and RFID chip auto­mated checkin,
  • allow online holds and media reser­va­tions,
  • cre­ate a mobile lib­rary app,
  • offer digit­al deliv­ery of ‘loaned’ mater­i­al.

And now they’re tak­ing advant­age of Groupon to offer dis­counts on mem­ber­ship renew­als.


dealdeets.jpgThis last ini­ti­at­ive is just anoth­er step the lib­rary is tak­ing to remain rel­ev­ant, and stim­u­late mem­ber­ship by ‘being where the users are’, while magazines, news­pa­pers and oth­er forms of tra­di­tion­al media are being chal­lenged by mobile inter­net tech­no­lo­gies.

At the close of the offer, it looks like just under two thou­sand people bought in to the concept and bought $6.00 lib­rary cards — a steal, actu­ally for all the ser­vices offered.

But mine can’t be the only for­ward-think­ing lib­rary in Canada…got an example of your pub­lic lib­rary embra­cing tech? Write about it in the com­ments!

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Interesting business model for eBook

Earli­er this week I found an eBook over on Zen­Hab­its. The book looks inter­est­ing and I’m look­ing for­ward to giv­ing it a read, but the think that caught my eye was the busi­ness mod­el; you can get the book for free. The whole book, as a down­load­able eBook. Free.

Now, there is a Premi­um ver­sion of the eBook avail­able that includes a lot more inter­est­ing look­ing con­tent.

This busi­ness mod­el reminds me of  ‘Director’s Cut’ DVDs. You get the basic movie, the Director’s cut, the out-takes, the concept art, maybe a mak­ing-of video, and dir­ect­or com­ment­ary, over and above the basic movie.

Con­tent you’re pay­ing a premi­um for.

So, this 27 chapter eBook is free, and the premi­um stuff looks like it might be worth pay­ing for, if you think it’ll add value to the basic con­tent in the eBook.

Well, I’m going to bite, and give it a read. It’s free. It may (or may not) entice me into check­ing out the premi­um ver­sion, but at the very least, I’ll get some ideas. And hope­fully learn some­thing.

And try and fig­ure out how this busi­ness mod­el really makes sense.

1. All 27 chapters of the free ebook
Along with a crap­load of extra mater­i­al …

2. How-to videos
Going into more depth on focus-related top­ics:

  • How to Single-task
  • Beat­ing the Fears of Dis­con­nect­ing
  • How to Find Still­ness & Dis­con­nect
  • Focus & Health, Part 1: eat­ing healthy and get­ting act­ive
  • Focus & Health, Part 2: sleep and stress

3. Audio inter­views with experts

4. Bonus chapters from Leo

  • cre­ativ­ity and prac­ti­cing deep focus
  • find­ing still­ness and reflec­tion
  • how to start changes on a broad­er level

5. Bonus chapters from oth­er writers

6. Bonus PDF guides

  • How to cre­ate new habits
  • Quick-start declut­ter­ing guide
  • Focused email guide

The Steve Jobs Way

Tomor­row Apple will likely announce a new look and feel for the Mac­Book Air and an update (per­haps sig­ni­fic­ant) to their flag­ship oper­at­ing sys­tem, OSX. And once again, the real­ity dis­tor­tion field sur­round­ing Steve Jobs’ present­a­tions will be set to full power. It’ll be an inter­est­ing day, I’m sure. Espe­cially since Steve ripped into Google, RIM,  and smal­ler-sized tab­let com­puters in an earn­ings call earli­er this week.

Coin­cid­ent­ally, last week Bloomberg released a good, detailed epis­ode of Game Changers focus­ing on Steve Jobs.

Through inter­views with friends, former col­leagues and busi­ness asso­ci­ates, GAME CHANGERS reveals the many lay­ers of the intensely private Steve Jobs — his style of lead­er­ship, man­age­ment and cre­at­ive pro­cess. Inter­views include Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, former Apple CEO John Scully, journ­al­ist turned Ven­ture Cap­it­al­ist Michael Mor­itz, Dream­works CEO Jef­frey Katzen­berg, former Apple “Mac Evan­gel­ist” and Sil­ic­on Val­ley Entre­pren­eur, Guy Kawa­saki and Robert X.Cringely, tech­no­logy journ­al­ist and former Apple employ­ee.

Also coin­cid­ent­ally, former “Mac Evan­gel­ist” Guy Kawa­saki re-released (for free) his 20yr. old insight into a par­tic­u­lar peri­od in Apple’s life titled The Macin­tosh Way.

The Macin­tosh Way is the first book that Guy Kawa­saki wrote. Guy recently got the rights back for the book, and he’s offer­ing it free to people who fol­low @GuyKawasaki on Twit­ter.

So, it seems that this is a good week to brush up on your Steve Jobs / Apple Know­ledge — for free! Now just need to dust off my copy of iWoz and my week will be com­plete.

Android, Blackberry or iPhone? Which is right for you.

Earli­er today I dropped in to the CityTV’s Break­fast Tele­vi­sion set to chat about the three main types of data phones.

Basic­ally we were look­ing at the data phones, and the types of people who each type of phone is best suited for — or not suited for 🙂

Here’s my notes from the early morn­ing chat:

Black­berry — Research In Motion — RIM
This is the ‘Go To’ busi­ness device. It’s the Star Trek com­mu­nic­at­or for the C suite set. You know you’re a black­berry type if you cov­et the device for the fol­low­ing reas­ons:

1) Huge busi­ness and gov­ern­ment pen­et­ra­tion — the key here is that most gov­ern­ment depart­ments and divi­sions, and the organ­iz­a­tions that do busi­ness with them have sim­il­ar tech­no­logy. They speak the same lan­guage, look at the same screens and share the same exper­i­ences.

2) Secur­ity — The Black­berry sys­tem is based on a pro­pri­et­ary serv­er tech­no­logy that routes all com­mu­nic­a­tion through a cent­ral serv­er sys­tem, man­aged by RIM. Black­Berry is basic­ally a totally integ­rated pack­age that includes phone, hard­ware, device soft­ware and hos­ted ser­vice, provid­ing you with a com­plete end-to-end email solu­tion.

3) Keypad — Though more recent mod­els use the touch screen inter­face sim­il­ar to the iPhone, the hall­mark fea­ture of the Black­berry over the years has been mini­ature chick­let-style key­board. This has caused numer­ous thumb-cramps over the years, yet some­how, the work of gov­ern­ment has been done. Go fig­ure.

Google’s Android
This is Google’s con­tri­bu­tion to mobile com­mu­nic­a­tions. If you remem­ber the old BASF com­mer­cial, Google doesn’t make the phone, Google makes the phone bet­ter. Google provides the oper­at­ing sys­tem, hard­ware man­u­fac­tur­ers provide the phone tech.

1)  You love the concept of an open and some­what hack­able phone oper­at­ing sys­tem. This lets you con­fig­ure the device to do exactly what you want, how you want.

2) You accept the risk of an open and some­what hack­able phone oper­at­ing sys­tem. This means that an applic­a­tion you add to your Android based phone could poten­tially cause you unforseen grief in the future. The Android store is open to any­one with min­im­al reg­u­la­tion and oversite. This is a good thing, and a bad thing.

3) You enjoy being at the bleed­ing edge of tech­no­logy. There is no finer place to be, as long as you really, REALLY, know what you’re doing with this tech­no­logy. There are dif­fer­ent Android devices run­ning slightly dif­fer­ent fla­vours of the oper­at­ing sys­tem. Yet, you know which apps will and won’t work on your phone. Yes, you are an Early Adop­ter..

Apple’s iPhone
This is the gold stand­ard by which all oth­er data phones are being meas­ured. Apple has basic­ally taken con­trol of this mar­ket, and for very many good reas­ons. Apple has cre­ated the tele­phone appli­ance.

1) an out­growth of the iPod — the iPhone is much more than a music play­er with a phone glued to it. It’s really a full-blown data appli­ance that you’d expect to see on Star Trek, but not only in the exec­ut­ive suite of cor­por­a­tions — the iPhone is the device for the rest of us.

2) The Apple store enabled a safe envir­on­ment for developers and con­sumers to explore the digit­al applic­a­tion mar­ket place for mobile digit­al devices. Apple ran the store, and had the right to approve applic­a­tions avail­able in the store. Put­ting the Apple repu­ta­tion on the line, applic­a­tions had to be safe, main­stream-accept­able, and tech­no­lo­gic­ally sound. You’d not get porn, vir­uses, or faulty pro­grams from the store on Apple’s watch.

3) It’s a data appli­ance. It must work. Every time. All the time. Apple guar­an­tees it. Your mom and dad could use it, and that’s what Apple’s bank­ing on. You don’t need an IT depart­ment to sup­port it (like the Black­berry) nor have to deal with eso­ter­ic inter­faces and com­mands (ala the Android). It just works.

If it’s everywhere, is it special?

4553i114AB80206EE34C5Once upon a time, not too long ago, in the lat­ter part of the last cen­tury — say the 60’s and 70’s, con­sum­ing media was clumsy and cum­ber­some. It seemed that you had to make a spe­cial appoint­ment with your hard­ware to listen to the latest band or show some friends your latest pho­tos. You had one device for each media, and shar­ing and con­sum­ing media was not some­thing you did every day, on a whim, or eas­ily. You had to have a spe­cial place to con­sume your media. And you had to set aside spe­cial time for it.

Radio was ‘the’ medi­um that gave you instant grat­i­fic­a­tion back in the day. Every­one had one, or two, and had a favour­ite sta­tion or music pro­gram. The catch was, a sta­tion could only broad­cast one thing at a time. So if you weren’t into old-time polka music, you had to find anoth­er sta­tion to listen to, from a hand­ful, per­haps. We all had favour­ite sta­tions and pro­grams.

Port­able music was your little tran­sist­or radio. AM. The Sony Walk­man wouldn’t be developed for a few years yet. Apple was a record label that the Beatles recor­ded with. The com­puter com­pany didn’t exist yet either. There really wasn’t a concept of a per­son­al music play­er.

In most homes, the ‘liv­ing room’ had all the major­ity of media devices; a hi-fi (record play­er), a TV, and that was it. Per­haps the hi-fi had an 8-track play­er or cas­sette. Home movies and pho­tos were presen­ted theatre-style — pro­jec­ted on a big screen (after recon­fig­ur­ing the room and set­ting up said pro­ject­or and screen). Even­tu­ally con­sumer-grade video­tape sys­tems were intro­duced, but still the prob­lem of schedul­ing your media con­sump­tion exis­ted.

Many of you likely remem­ber such things, maybe even you’ve used them or owned them, but I’m guess­ing that a fair num­ber of read­ers here wouldn’t know how to change the stylus in a turntable, nor the dif­fer­ence between Chro­mi­um Diox­ide and Fer­ric Oxide audio tape. Such were (com­pet­it­or) of tech­no­logy, back in the day.

Fast-for­ward­ing to today you eas­ily see the how life­style tech­no­logy has changed the way we share and con­sume media:

  • Movies on demand can be ordered instantly and delivered to any room in the house with today’s high band­width HD PVRs and routers
  • Pho­tos are rarely stored in phys­ic­al books. Rather they’re on com­puter hard drives, or bet­ter yet, on com­mer­cial photo shar­ing ser­vices (like flickr and Picas­sa) where they’re eas­ily avail­able, secure and reg­u­larly backed up.
  • The same for music, though today you really don’t need to store it. Rather than play­back from a phys­ic­al media device (LP, 45, CD etc) you can simply grab your com­puter and surf to one of the many online music stores. Or if you simply want to sample, it’s easy to use one of the stream­ing ser­vices like Groove­Shark or Blip.fm.

Once some big-brained hack­ers some­where real­ized that our media can be con­ver­ted into bits and bytes, things changed. Those bits and bytes can be stored, moved, shared, delivered over this series of tubes called the Inter­net. That music, movie, whatever is now port­able, and it doesn’t really care about format. I can play an mp3 on my com­puter, net­work-enabled blu-ray play­er, iPod, iPad, eBook read­er, Phone, etc… you get the pic­ture.

So now, we’re much more effi­cient at con­sum­ing and shar­ing our media when and where we want. There are many inex­pens­ive tech­no­logy tools that enable this, but are we bet­ter off?

Some days, I miss the excite­ment of bring­ing home a new album of music, put­ting it on the turntable and shar­ing the music with any­one in the house. That used to be some­thing spe­cial. There was a little ritu­al asso­ci­ated with open­ing the album, clean­ing the disc, and drop­ping the needle in the groove.

Some­how, open­ing a CD and slid­ing it into a play­er, or press­ing ‘buy’ on an online music store just doesn’t have that same spe­cial sense of ritu­al, that sense that ‘we’re going to listen to music now, this is import­ant, so sit down and pay atten­tion’. Some days, con­sum­ing media just doesn’t seem as spe­cial as it once was.

I won­der what’s replaced it.…I’ve not found it yet.

This post of is one of many I pub­lish weekly at the Future Shop Techb­log. Read more of my stuff here.