122 posts categorized "ThoughtStorms"

June 13, 2012

Newly announced and highly contested ICANN gTLDs tell a story

Do you see a pattern in the most contested gTLDs once you categorize them in grammar order? There are a few missing from the full list announced. Sorry. This should be interesting. UPDATE: It is interesting. Digital archery a no go. ICANN announced technical issues.


- ! 'APP : 13 '
- ! 'ART : 10 '
- ! 'AUTO : 4 '
- ! 'BABY : 6 '
- ! 'BASKETBALL : 3 '
- ! 'BEAUTY : 3 '
- ! 'BET : 4 '
- ! 'BLOG : 9 '
- ! 'BOOK : 9 '
- ! 'BROADWAY : 3 '
- ! 'CARS : 3 '
- ! 'CASINO : 4 '
- ! 'CASA : 3 '
- ! 'CHAT : 4 '
- ! 'CITY : 3 '
- ! 'CLOUD : 7 '
- ! 'CLUB : 3 '
- ! 'CRICKET : 3 '
- ! 'DATA : 3 '
- ! 'DIET : 3 '
- ! 'DEALS : 3 '
- ! 'DESIGN : 8 '
- ! 'DOCTOR : 3 '
- ! 'DOG : 3 '
- ! 'FAMILY : 3 '
- ! 'FASHION : 4 '
- ! 'FILM : 3 '
- ! 'FLOWERS : 4 '
- ! 'FOOD : 3 '
- ! 'FORUM : 3 '
- ! 'GAME : 5 '
- ! 'GARDEN : 3 '
- ! 'GOLF : 4 '
- ! 'GROUP : 5 '
- ! 'HEALTH : 4 '
- ! 'HELP : 3 '
- ! 'HOTEL : 7 '
- ! 'HOME : 11 '
- ! 'HOSTING : 3 '
- ! 'INSURANCE : 4 '
- ! 'LAW : 6 '
- ! 'LIFE : 3 '
- ! 'LOVE : 7 '
- ! 'MAIL : 7 '
- ! 'MAP : 3 '
- ! 'MARKETING : 3 '
- ! 'MEMORIAL : 3 '
- ! 'MEDIA : 3 '
- ! 'MOM : 3 '
- ! 'MOVIE : 8 '
- ! 'MUSIC : 8 '
- ! 'NEWS : 7 '
- ! 'PIZZA : 4 '
- ! 'PLAY : 4 '
- ! 'POKER : 4 '
- ! 'PROPERTY : 3 '
- ! 'RACING : 3 '
- ! 'RADIO : 4 '
- ! 'REALESTATE : 4 '
- ! 'RESTAURANT : 4 '
- ! 'RUGBY : 3 '
- ! 'SALE : 5 '
- ! 'SALON : 4 '
- ! 'SHOP : 9 '
- ! 'SCHOOL : 4 '
- ! 'SECURITY : 3 '
- ! 'SHOW : 4 '
- ! 'SITE : 5 '
- ! 'SOCCER : 4 '
- ! 'SPA : 3 '
- ! 'SPOT : 3 '
- ! 'STORE : 7 '
- ! 'STYLE : 5 '
- ! 'TAXI : 3 '
- ! 'TEAM : 4 '
- ! 'TECH : 6 '
- ! 'TENNIS : 4 '
- ! 'TICKETS : 5 '
- ! 'TIRES : 3 '
- ! 'TUBE : 3 '
- ! 'VIDEO : 4 '
- ! 'WEB : 7 '
- ! 'WEBSITE : 3 '
- ! 'WEDDING : 3 '
- ! 'WINE : 3 '
- ! 'YOGA : 3 '


- ! 'BUY : 5 '
- ! 'CHAT : 4 '
- ! 'HELP : 3 '
- ! 'LIVE : 3 '
- ! 'PLAY : 4 '
- ! 'SEARCH : 4 '
- ! 'SUCKS : 3 '


- ! 'FREE : 5 '
- ! 'FUN : 3 '
- ! 'GAY : 4 '
- ! 'HOT : 3 '
- ! 'GREEN : 4 '
- ! 'LIVE : 3 '
- ! 'MOBILE : 3 '

- ! 'NOW : 6 '
- ! 'ONLINE : 6 '


- ! 'MERCK : 3 '

- ! 'WOW : 3 '


- ! 'CAM : 3 '
- ! 'CORP : 6 '
- ! 'CPA : 6 '
- ! 'ECO : 4 '
- ! 'GMBH : 6 '
- ! 'IMMO : 4 '
- ! 'INC : 11 '
- ! 'LLC : 9 '
- ! 'LLP : 4 '
- ! 'LTD : 7 '
- ! 'MED : 4 '
- ! 'MBA : 3 '
- ! 'MLS : 3 '
- ! 'RIP : 3 '
- ! 'TECH : 6 '
- ! 'VIP : 6 '


May 30, 2012

How smart design changes policy - aka "fradusters steal money by filing fake US Tax returns"

So I am reading a New York Times article off my twitter stream that catches my eye:

"Fraudsters steal money from the IRS (ie tax payers) by filing fake US tax returns"

I'm thinking, "Ah this can't be too big of a problem can it?" There's tax preparer fraud, there's outright filer fraud, but people filing fake tax returns? Over $5B of returns are still not caught, and it could be much more in the future as the Times makes this issue public and more criminals become white collar. And as Americans abroad, who rarely file, can be used as the new guinea pigs for fake returns. That's another 5M returns that can be faked when they get tired of faking returns of seniors and youth and start to target these folks abroad who have forgotten to file.

But there is a solution in Canada, called the CRA "notice of assessment" which I receive every time I file a Canadian tax return. You can even get a replacement one online if you need one. It is a confirmation of the receipt of my tax filing, and a friendly reminder of how much room I have in my retirement plans for contributions (RRSP). This is a straightforward exercise that happens to the millions of tak filers in Canada and has been in effect at least since the mid 90s. It looks like this:

image from canats.ca

The IRS could (at a nominal cost of say $1 per mailing) institute this for the 100M returns. You could send one to the current address on file and the previous address one file. If I received one of these babies and I have NOT yet filed for the past tax year, bingo, there's a problem. I should call the IRS and tell them there's an issue, and they'd investigate.

I bet this few hundred million dollar solution would probably eliminate all of this fraud. So why has the IRS invested millions on training and all sorts of other systems and procedures, rather than just send you a receipt of your filing? Heck, even an email receipt would be a nice touch and be faster to avoid issues in the e-future.

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!

A better, smarter smartphone design

This chart on the cost of producing an iPhone in the US got me thinking.

image from static7.businessinsider.com

This chart indicates that producing an iPhone in the US would cut Apple's profit margins on an iPhone by 20% or more. That's not really what got my attention, though. As an engineer, I started thinking about how a phone could be made cheaper, more effective by selecting a trade off in the parts you actually select to use and integrated into the device.

What if, for example, you decided your phone had no accelerometer, gyroscope? Switching orientation would happen with a softbutton in software. What if the camera disappeared? What if the battery you used was  A LOT better, 3-4x the cost and quality and capacity? What if the screen and memory were the best money could buy? According to this chart the UI costs a fraction of the display and memory - that seems to be one part of the chart that has me flummoxed somewhat. The more iPhones Apple sells the less the cost of the UI per phone becomes, so I guess this price continues to dwindle as the power of the engineering continues to be spread over more and more devices.

I can see a lower cost device being made by another manufacturer as long as they got the important parts of the device well - that is fast internet, social media and email/calendar integration and a terrific phone experience. On a great screen with awesome battery life, such a phone could put a dent into Apple's domination. Making it in the US would be a great story as well. Is any manufacturer up to such a challenge?

UPDATE: Cover the bottom 4 parts of this pyramid and you're good to go:

image from cdn.crackberry.com

April 18, 2012

The Future TV is most definitely apps - content apps

Our family cancelled our Netflix account today. We've cut the (TV) cord after we moved into our house and decided against spending $100 per month on cable TV services. It just wasn't in the budget and seemed like an easy luxury to cut along with a newspaper subscription. The digital world is most definitely changing the way we consume content, step by step, value proposition by value proposition.

Instead, we installed a cheap $25 antenna to local channels that are within 20 miles of our house. We can't pickup the US stations in Buffalo, but that would require a multi hundred dollar installation as well. Do we miss those stations? Not really.

Instead what we've decided to do is shape our habits and become selective about what we consume. Just like a food diet, a TV/News/Media consumption diet is good for the soul. You spend less time on the couch. You are more selective about what you choose -- you listen to advice, curation and your gut feel about putting less junk into your diet.

The result is fantastic. With our AppleTV (we'll soon have 2), a Synology Diskstation and an OTA antenna we get the best entertainment money can buy. We rent videos only when they make sense and are compelling on Bluray, we only watch TV shows we can easily buy on iTunes.

With HBO Go recently launching on Xbox 360, it seems that the likely way consumers like us will be appeased is with apps that live stream content and make archives available for a monthly or yearly fee. Each app will feature a show or a network of shows. Anything less is unacceptable in this age, so it's just a matter of figuring out a transition path in terms of pricing and packaging.

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 02, 2012

NextBox 2.0 from Rogers - "No I don't have the service, and never will."

Rogers just announced their next generation set top box and whole home PVR service called NextBox 2.0. There are a lot of very compelling features that many some people are now used to having with services like Boxee, AppleTV and FibeTV from Bell. Rogers is using the Cisco set top boxes, which is the newly minted Scientific Atlanta acquisition from several years back. Hinted at selling the full set top box business, Cisco reiterated to their support for this product line. Good for Rogers -- you would not want to offer the next generation set of hardware on a product line that is on its death bed.

The features are as follows:

  • a PVR with a 1TB hard drive to record hundreds of hours of content
  • watch TV on any TV in your home, live or recorded
  • Start watching on 1 TV show, finish on another TV or Tablet
  • Rogers Live TV allows you to use your tablet to stream many of the channels on an iPad or Android tablet

The review after the break...

Continue reading "NextBox 2.0 from Rogers - "No I don't have the service, and never will."" »

February 27, 2012

How Civilization Went from High Value to Zero Value

I've been thinking about a particular idea recently: how the perception of value is changing in the 21st century. What I mean by "perception of value" is the idea that people value intangible assets less than tangible assets. And people value assets that are private in nature much less than things that are public. The image below will change over time as I receive feedback on this observation. It is an embedded Google Docs drawing that will introduce examples of items in all 4 quadrants of tangible vs. intangible and public vs private. The interesting insight I am trying to make is that civilization started mostly from tangible items that are held in private regard. That is, we all started thousands of years ago only with things we could touch, see and make and things that we owned personally. Eventually as civilization grew the stuff we held in private started becoming more public in nature. It could be observed by more and more people, and potentially was used by the public in a shared sense.

As technology took hold and the industrial age gave way to the information age in the 20th century and interesting transformation started to happen -- the rise of the intangible asset such an idea or a patent. These things were firstly something that was held in public view as well, as intangible assets were first the manifestation of a public asset that become intangible. The Internet for example can be thought of a public, intangible asset. It is hard to hold it in your hands, for example, but it surely can be considered a gigantic asset to us all. A public washroom waste bin can be thought of as a public tangible asset.

In the late 20th and early 21st century an interesting transformation occured - intangible assets became private in nature, just like the tangible assets that we strarted with. We started owning assets that we did not make, that we could not hold in our hands. In fact, many of the items you hold in your possession today are simply intangible assets -- for example your citizenship or your collection of music.

The main insight I would like to make is that during this transformation, civilization appears to have started to value the intangible, private assets less and less. It appears that the notion of private, intangible items are valued so little, we are comfortable with stealing them. The producers of these intangible, private assets are intent on making it as difficult as possible to keep the items full of value, when the audience appears intent on finding ways to devalue them.

If you can agree with this observation, or disagree I'd like to hear from you. If you think it is nonsense, please chime in. But I do want to leave you with this: does the cycle continue? That is, will we continue full circle and cycle right back to private, tangible assets as the only way to recreate value again? Is the only way to ensure value to again create and consume assets we can see, touch, taste and really own?

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 14, 2011

Isaacson on Jobs Biography on Tech Crunch

Who was Steve Jobs, really?