54 posts categorized "Success Stories"

May 25, 2012

Control Your Computer Just like Minority Report

Leapmotion has announced a tiny controller that will allow you to manipulate content on screen with your hands and fingers. In thin air. Remember Minority Report with Tom Cruise? Yes, just like that.

But what will this gadget do for the porn industry? The mind reels at the possibilites. I expect Apple to buy this company before one product hits the shelves at your local Futureshop.


May 01, 2012

Bank fee tip: Avoid those nasty Interac and epayment fees!

If you are an online banking customer, you will be familiar with the ease of use and convenience that you get with online banking. These days though, as online banking becomes prevalent, the banks have realized that they would love to charge for the convenience. My bank, Royal Bank of Canada, has gone overboard on a savings account I use. The average fees I am paying in 2012 for 3-4 interac e-transfer transactions is about $20/month (!).

Turns out that many banks have a set of free transactions for Interac email money transfer as long as you pay a monthly fee. My chequing account for a $13.95 fee gives you 5 "free" Interac email transfer transactions which can be sent to anyone in Canada and deposited to their own bank using email only.

Also you should be aware that transfer between bank accounts within the same bank (yours or others within the same bank) should always be free between any account. Anything less is unreasonable because it costs literally nothing for a bank to transfer funds between accounts.

The approach I am taking these days is to do direct any deposits (esp direct deposts) to an interest bearing savings account which yields a few bucks each month (covering any small fees when possible). The float in this account can be used to transfer to other accounts within the same bank for free. You may have to rearrange how your direct deposits are directed, but trust me -- it is worth it. Flowing money through interest bearing accounts even if it  the money sits there for a bit, offsets the nickle and dime fees that banks have been instituting. I figured that if I didn't do anything with my online payment habits I would be spending over $250 in bank fees alone for one account (Royal Bank's interac email fees are $6/transaction). It all adds up -- call your bank and review your fee patterns in your various accounts. You may be surprised what the banks have changed in 2012!

The thing that gets me of course is that in theory an electronic transaction should be cheaper than one done in person or via a physical cheque, yet banks have (as always) figured out a way to make something that costs them less, cost us more. Fight back!

April 05, 2012

How Mr. Blanzy and Mrs. Miller Helped me Learn Computer Science in 5th Grade

This is near and dear to my heart. In 1981, while I attended 5th grade at Avery Public School in Oak Park, Michigan, Mr. Blanzy introduced me and a few other bright math students to an Apple ][+. It sat behind the classroom, with it's green screen monitor, waiting to be discovered. 

image from oldcomputers.net
The next year Mrs. Miller started an after school computer club where a small group of kids worked on programs and displayed them on a big projector screen hooked up via a funky video out interface on our Apple //e. We wrote BASIC and launched space shuttles (remember NASA launched Columbia, the first space shuttle recently) on screen. We watched the booster rocket parts descendto a "splashdown". The program all used ASCII and we marvelled at the beauty of how building something, piece by piece could accomplish something that to us looked like art. For the next 5 years until the end of high school, I studied programming with my Nibble magazine and did machine language entry of cool games, modified existing LONG BASIC programs, cracked games, got my first 300 bps modem and occupied my parents phone lines for hours on end. I eventually upgraded to a 2400bps Practical Peripherals external modem, and I thought that speed was unlimited then. Today, the slowest high speed Internet connection at 1Mbps is literally 500 times faster than this "speedy" modem. The 25Mbps connection then is over 12,000 times faster. Regular phone lines were used, and we didn't have call waiting whose clicks would interrupt my BBSing. Only picking up the phone caused my line to drop. Mom and Dad never bothered me and never told me to "get off the phone". They knew something amazing was happening. My mind was opening up.

These days, kids Hoogle, copy stuff of Wikipedia and rarely actually LEARN how computers work. Most kids take these gadgets for granted. But it does seem like the UK is doing something about it. I love the arduino, netduino and sites like instructables.com -- but parents are now engaging their kids it seems, rather than schools. So I ask is there a place for computer science in schools like in the 80s? Even a better version?

March 21, 2012

The Internet moves into Moore's "Early Majority" phase

Something very interesting has happened while we were busy talking about the Great Recession. The Internet has moved into the "early majority" phase of Geoffrey Moore's technology (innovation) adoption lifecycle. This is the lifecycle:

image from upload.wikimedia.org
The theory that Moore adopted from others before him states that the population adopts technology in this manner. The percentages break up the target market audience with 2.5% of the audience being innovators, 13.5% being early adopters, 68% in the majority, and 16% being laggards. Laggards adopt pretty much nothing or have to be pulled kicking and screaming into technology once 85% have already adopted. Moore improved the theory and said that there was a chasm between early adopters and the early majority (right there between 13.5% and 34% of the potential market). If a product doesn't break this chasm it fails and withers and dies (think BETA video tape and now music Compact Discs). The Internet it appears has broken through the Early Majority. (click on chart for a larger view).


The indicator show above is a simple one: the # of generic top level domain names that have been registered. A domain name is registered for any somewhat unique entity like a business, a person, or an idea. They are cheap, ubiquitous and easy to obtain. They must be maintained and usually derive some value for the owner. The curve of total registred gTLDs (.com and .net as well as .biz, .org and .info) is similar to the one proposed by Moore, chasm included (the .com bust). It continues to rise hitting 113.8M in Q42011, indicating that there is still more to be sold, marketed and invented to be described on the Internet. If you have ever tried to buy a domain name in the .com or .net TLD you know how hard it is to pick one that isn't already taken, not suprisingly.

The total number of top level domains (TLDs) hit over 225M which includes all the country code (ccTLDs). This indicates the late majority and laggards will enter the field (if they have not already) from international registrations that cannot or do not want to obtain a gTLD.

This is an important event, because it not only means that the Internet is here to stay (duh), but that the products and services that are now being developed should meet the needs of the late majority, the next biggest piece of the audience, equivalent in size to the early majority. I think this explains the rise of the tablet device: this is the access and consumption device that the late majority (and maybe even laggards) want. Now it is a question of the standards (HTML5?), the deployment platform (apps?) and the access (wireless LTE speeds?) that is required to power the biggest chunk of the audience that is yet to come.

This is an incredible opportunity for the Internet and all the companies that work online. Service the majority well, and you will be rewarded.

March 08, 2012

Can Apple Sell 80 Million iPads in 2012?

UPDATE October 26 2012: It has been almost 8 months since I published the hypothetical drive to 80M iPads in FY2012. The answer is a flat "NO". Apple cannot sell 80M iPads in 1 year. Even they are not that dominant in a fiscal environment that restricts people from buying a $500+ discretionary device. Apple has for now reached the saturation point of who is willing to pay a premium for a tablet. And now they've announced an overpriced "mini" device (which Steve Jobs said he'd never announce) which will fail in my opinion.

The market for tablets is all about sub-$200 devices, as the cutthroat competition for the early and late majority begins in the tablet wars. And here's Microsoft coming to the table with a tablet priced in the iPad range - the Surface. Surely another fail, because there does not appear to be space for 2 premium tablets in the market.

Without innovation in the pipeline for Spring/Summer 2013, Apple is going to see their lead (and stock price) erode in 2013. The only real new revenue generator must be content which is now at a paltry 6% (iTunes). This is the real opportunity for Apple to grow - to become a hardware and content company, something they have never done before. Time to spend some of that $120B cash stockpile.

The updated FY2012 figures for iPad is just shy of 60M units - not bad, but not what was expected or predicted based on "hockey stick effect" detailed below.

image from readwrite.com

That's the main question on everyone's minds after yesterday's "new" iPad launch. The device is getting better with every iteration and it now has a screen that has more resolution that your 60" 1080p High Defintition television. Think about that - 3.1M pixels on the screen for your media. It is a hugely impressive device. It runs on the latest 4G LTE network capable of 70Mbps+ download speeds.

But the main question on everyone's mind is can Apple double their sales of ipads from 2011. Can Apple sell 80 Million iPads in 2012?

The current estimate is 50-60M iPads in 2012, bringing the total iPads sold to 100M since April 2010, when the iPad was introduced. That means keeping the current trend of 15M iPads per quarter at a standstill, which is very conservative. But if they sell 80M (very likely if the current trend shows) in 2012 they will effectively make more revenue from iPads than they made from ALL products in 2009. That is saying something -- it puts even the much lauded iPhone to shame.


Let's look at the trends:


image from aaplinvestors.net

The iPod was a cyclical device bought around the holidays and product announcements, it never really took off. The iPhone is a subsidized device that accelerated as more telecoms carried the device around the world. The iPad is a non-subsidized, laptop/PC replacement. Some families have multiple units. There will be repricing of the lower end iPad2 and with the new iPad name you can expect various pricing shenanigans to squeeze out every cent without going to a 7" tablet, ever. The new iPad will set the bar for all other tablet makers. And as a result the traditional PC makers have a lot to fear from this trajectory below - 80M iPads in 1 year is very likely.

UPDATED:The R value of .9863 is for a 3-rd order polynomial curve trendline which is a better fit than an exponential trendline. It includes the last 3 quarterly forecasts for rest of 2012.

In fact, if Apple doesn't hit 80M iPads this year, it means that the overall tablet market has peaked (or that Apple's addressable market has been saturated). What other tablet makers cannot match in technology they will have to make up in price and value. If Apple does not hit 80M iPads you can be sure that the Mac vs Windows effect will hit iPads too -- that is, people are willing to pay less for an inferior tablet or even buy 2 for the price of 1. And if that happens, the Apple roadmap will come into play forcing people to ask what else the technology pipeline has up its sleve.  Beyond the iPad horizon stands an interactive TV. Apple has to go up, because the only other way is down, and it has been there before. I hope the enterprise picks up the iPad once and for all because this is where the buyers are to support the trendline above, failing that I do not see how we can be in Tim Cook's "post-PC" world quite yet.


Ryan Block says:

“The resolution is what brings it home though. Let me put it this way: when I pulled up a nice, high resolution photograph on the iPad 3rd-gen, I genuinely could not tell the difference between what I was seeing onscreen, and a nice, beautifully shot, well-printed, glossy photograph. It was seriously to that level.”

February 14, 2012

Accessing subgrids (aka grids) on CRM2011 on onLoad and onSave events

CRM2011 has an interesting new feature called subgrids or grids. Basically they are UI elements that show related data on a form. You can load up a form and then load the related records for that forms records in a subgrid. You can then access that data, and even add rows into the subgrid without really leaving your master record. Grids are used throughout CRM2011 and can be used with custom entities just as well. Here an example on the default Opportunities form:




The name in green text above are the CRM names of the grids assigned in the properties of each grid on the form designer. Double click on each grid and you can see the unique grid name.

Continue reading "Accessing subgrids (aka grids) on CRM2011 on onLoad and onSave events" »

December 08, 2011

RFID Sleeves for your Credit Cards and Passports

Those chip enabled bank and credit cards are not secure. And our Canadian 2012 issued passports and US passports? Also unsecure. This is worse than before when you needed physical contact -- now you can read cards wirelessly. 16x9 reports.


This company offers sleeve protection. Identity Stronghold says that if banks admit and sell these sleeves, that they'd be admitting guilt. And right they are -- better get em while you can in US. In Canada you can get them here.

December 02, 2011

How to Create the Perfect Resume

These tips for creating the perfect resume are awesome! Besides making a beautiful, easy to read and understand resume, these tips will reduce the size of your resume by 50% or more without leaving any content out. These guidelines reduced mine from 6 pages to just over 2 pages without leaving any experience out! And it made my resume much more usable - recruiters look at resumes for an average of about 6 seconds. And you better do a good job helping them identify the places they are looking for -- there are only 6-8 pieces of information they really want to see. Click on the image below to enlarge.

How to create the perfect resume!

October 28, 2011

What is a #rootstriker ? Lawrence Lessig answers this question and much, much more...

An absolute must see video. A fundamental call to action for the 21st century citizen.


October 25, 2011

Being Hired by your Alma Mater - Since 2003

This is not really a success story in my opinion, although the visualization is amazing.  Check out this graph from LinkedIn on where graduates from your alma mater are working. On my U of Michigan graph, there is a disturbing trend:

Seems like since 2003 roughly, the graph has swung away from the auto company employers that dominated the Michigan economy towards the major universities themselves as the major employers in Michigan. So the major publicly funded institutions are now the top employers of university grads (who they hatched). Oy vey! That's some bubble.



2000 U of Michigan LinkedIn Stats (4 out of top 25 are public sector):


2010 U of Michigan LinedIn Stats (9 out of top 25 are public sector):


Update: I added a fake alma mater U of Toronto to my profile to check Toronto stats. They are even more startling. Look what happened to 2000 grads vs 2010 grads. They are all being concentrated as employed by U of T. Notice also that MANY less grads in 2010 are moving to the US for employment. It is startling -- the brain drain is practically gone!

2000 U of Toronto graduates:


2010 U of Toronto Graduates (more than two times as many as in 2000!)


Note I am depending on LinkedIn analytics to properly identify working vs going to school. It is possible that the idea of where they work... may mean for some where they are (continuing) going to school. It will be important to differentiate between working at an alma mater and just doing the next degree as "work".