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.

ScreenShot_500.jpg

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.