They Just Don’t ‘Get It’

Research is a beautiful thing.  Software research is an ongoing effort by all educational institutions and is carried out in earnest by the big 3 internet service companies.  Microsoft, Yahoo, and Google.  They all have sites dedicated to the research that is being performed and freely invite the public to participate and provide feedback on these activities so that they can learn and better their efforts to provide solutions that mean more and are more beneficial to the ultimate end users.

This past week, Microsoft started publicizing their efforts around a new software product from Microsoft Research called Songsmith.  It’s a program that automatically generates appropriate background music based on the vocals that you sing.  From the initial demos, this is a very cool piece of software that has some great potential.  It is available as a free download from the Microsoft Research site.

This is where the concept of software research labs goes slightly off the rails at Microsoft.

The software that these research efforts produce is good software at various stages of development often being at Alpha or Beta stages but always being in a non-productized state.  This typically means that there is no formal support model in place and you are requested to provide feedback and bugs that you encounter to help troubleshoot the software before it makes it’s public product release.  You are also expected to participate in a user forum that allows the users and developers to learn from each other.  In all instances that I have ever seen where software was available from these services, the software was provided without restriction and at no cost.

Now comes Microsoft.  Songsmith is a Free download and you can use it unrestricted for 6 hours.  That’s it.  If you want to keep using it you need to Buy it.  That’s right.  You are required to actually purchase a non-productized, largely unsupported, non-commercial piece of software that is still in the research labs.  While I don’t have a fundamental issue with purchasing software (Talk like a Pirate day is not until September 19th so save it), I do have an issue with paying for software that is in active development that has not been formally productized.

Microsoft needs to take a page from the playbook of Yahoo and Google when it comes to research software.  Until a product has a formal support process in place and has been moved to the production product phase it should be provided at no cost to the end user.  Provide it with a kill switch that can be remotely activated, provide it with a time bomb that activates at a specific date, provide a limited set of keys that restrict the use of the software, have a closed beta or an invite only mechanism to manage growth.  Google has managed to do this repeatedly with all of their products.  Granted, Google has a major aversion to charging for their efforts but they use the software they develop and freely provide to gather various pieces of information to help further their dominance in the various technology fields that they operate in.  (See link below)  Yahoo does research in various areas that lie outside of the consumer space all with a goal for advancing the technology that we use on a daily basis.  Microsoft goes so far as to have research teams dedicated to online services and a separate group dedicated to ‘Advancing The Frontiers of Computing’  (See links below)

Oh yeah, they have a REALLY STUPID COMMERCIAL.  It completely undermines the products potential reach to parties that may benefit from the product.

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Have-Be-Do

It’s odd how the same message keeps coming up in life.  It’s the universe’s way of telling you that you have not yet learned the lesson.

One of the consistent things that re-occurs for me is the need to totally own your obligations or responsibilities with a sense of clear direction.I have great difficulty in establishing a clear vision.  There is vision there, it is just not clear.  Having a clear vision is needed if you are to experience great success.

This clarity of vision is a trait that has been demonstrated time and time again by people who have had great success in their lives.

  • Richard Branson
  • Bill Gates
  • Steve Jobs
  • Barack Obama
  • Michael Phelps
  • Ted Rogers
  • Walt Disney
  • Tiger Woods
  • Michael Jordan
  • and countless others…

The consistent theme with all of these people is that they had a clear sense of purpose and they owned it.  They did not let anyone stand in their way on the way to success.

The difference between most people and these wildly successful people is clear vision.  Successful people have a clear vision and they know what they want.  Most of us don’t know what we want and we meander through life just experiencing it as opposed to shaping it to be what we want it to be.  Life is not some linear existence that we are destined to follow.  Life is a fluid, moldable, experience that is meant to be defined by each and every one of us.

Think about the times in your life when you have had success.  these times probably coincide with a clear and focused objective or goal.  You probably didn’t let anyone get in your way and you followed through to completion.  These were times when you defined the road and took charge to shape the outcome for whatever part you played in the success.  We all have the ability to experience these smaller goal based periods of clarity but tend not to apply the same tools for major life altering goals with huge lasting impact.  Your goals do not need to be world changing for millions of people or solve world hunger of bring world peace but they do need to matter to you.  If the things that matter to you are life changing at a global level then step up and take charge.

Here is an exercise for you.  Write a Have-Be-Do list.  This is a list of 100 items that you want to have, be or do.  Take all obstacles, real or imagined, out of the equation.  There is no limit to what you can put on the Have-Be-Do list.  You must list at least 100 things.  Do it without guilt and with a sense of total deserving.  Silence the chattering monkeys in the back of your head that keep telling you that you can’t do it or that you are not worthy.  You will find this a very difficult task as it is uncommon for us to come from a place of total selfishness.  This list is for you.  Write it for you.  Do not write it with any other person in mind except you and your wants.  If your wants include another person then so be it but do not allow your list to be shaped by outside influences such as your job or your finacial situation or you inability to speak a language or any other obstacle that can be overcome.

Oh yeah, in the immortal words of Yoda “Try not. Do or do not, there is no try.

Any list item that begins or contains a phrase like ‘Try to …’ does not count.  Be definite in your Have-Be-Do list.  Instead of ‘Try to make more time for xxxx’  change it to ‘Make more time for xxxx’.  It has a more definite and empowering phrasing that give you strength to follow through.

Once you have that list, Start to do those things and cross them off as you complete them.  You will be amazed at the power you find and the sense of accomplishment you feel when you start to achieve success based on a clear goal no matter how small.

Feel free to share or not. Ask questions or don’t.  The answers will be there when you need them.

How Do They Tell You?

How does your company handle layoffs in this economy?  Do they blame it on tough economic times or do they just come out and say that you are not cutting it?

Where I work, the email just came out advising about the coming year and what it means for the company and it’s employees.   Salary freezes, bonus reduction, organizational re-structure etc… All affected in some manner or another.   I have to say though this line was masterfully crafted.

As we have in the past, we will make targeted adjustments to our employee base to reflect ongoing priorities of the business and operational improvements.

I love a beautifully crafted phrase or message that has a significant underlying meaning and this is a doozey. It could have been cold and impersonal such as

Some of you are doing better than others, but due to the tough economic times, we have to let some of you go

or reality based such as

Team 2, got nothing for you, head back to camp and we’ll see you at tribal council where some of you will be going home.

So I put it to you, what are some of the ways in which you have been advised of a coming employment storm at your workplace or how did you find out about the storm?

Post in the comments.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to start cleaning my desk.

Voice?

Over the past number of years in wireless there has been a steady decline in Voice ARPU in relation to overall revenue.  This has many wireless operators in North America concerned.  There are many pundits who have various points of view on the subject and I will leave it up to them to sound off and claim superiority.

Today while watching ‘teh twitter’ Jevon was asking about 3G Data only devices. There were the replies and comments for devices such as Nokia 800/810, Peek Mail, Sony Mylo and a few others but none of them seemed to cover the whole need of what consumers are using or want in a mobile communications device.  Doesn’t anybody talk anymore?

I’m not too sure about the defined need for a dedicated data only device outside of a vertical market application such as something used by UPS or Purolator for mobile package tracking.  Certainly for the comsumer market there is a defined and proven need for a communications device that includes voice service.

As we move further away from the analogue age and further into the digital abyss, operators need to understand that voice services of yesterday are not the voice services of tomorrow.  VOIP anyone?

Perhaps it’s just us getting older and not having a need to actually ‘speak’ to anyone.  I know for sure that the 18-28 demographic has no issue with actually speaking to someone and do so whenever they have the opportunity.

Now if you’ll excuse me I should call home.

Apple Who?

So I’m not a ‘MAC-head’ like some of my friends but I am very open minded about technology and I do actually use a Macbook Pro at work (running XP Pro in VMware mind you) and I was looking forward to the Macworld keynote today for all the usual reasons and one historical one.  According to Apple, this is the last Macworld Expo they will be present at,  and with that announcement they basically extinguished the relevance to Apple that Macworld is/was.

So it was with great disappointment that I repeatedly clicked refresh on the Gizmodo Liveblog for 90 minutes only to have Phil Schiller roll out on this historic last keynote a groundbreaking, world changing, earth shattering, software update!?

Really,  iLife 09, iWork 09, iWork.com, iTunes Pro and one hardware announcement a new Macbook Pro with a long lasting non-removable battery.  Talk about letting the wind out of the sails.

All the buildup from the multitude of “reliable sources” would indicate that Apple was going to make their last showing at Macworld an event to remember.  A new Mac Mini, an iPhone Nano, a new iMac, the solution to world discourse and all the stuff that makes Apple “Really Really Great” but there was none of that.  Those “reliable sources” really paid off.

These products will come, eventually, when we are not expecting them.  Apple is sneaky that way.

So Apple moves into the next phase with not a BANG but with a whimper and the Mac faithful keep trudging along in the cattle line looking for the next really great thing.

Now if you’ll excuse me I need to sync my iPhone.

Welcome to the Jungle!

WooHoo! First Post!

Oh, Wait,  That’s reserved for Comments.  lost my head in all the excitement.