22 December 2007

Password Resets for Dead People

Does anyone else see what's wrong with those new website password reset schemes where they ask you a half a dozen questions like, "What's your favorite food?", "What's your favorite car?", etc..?

Umm... what if I change my mind about what's my favorite? The only time I expect to stop changing my mind about things is when I am dead.

Seriously, what this amounts to is now having six extra passwords that I have to memorize, any three of which can be thrown at me at any time and they are all based on criteria that is changing.

The worst part is, the site that I just used where this happened ( an partners extranet portal of a major software company ), automatically expires my password every three months!


This makes the site basically unusable to me.

Too bad. I am sure they put a lot of work into the rest of their site.

28 November 2007

Free Radiohead

I know it's been a few weeks now since it's release but I have something to say about the new music distribution experiment being conducted by Radiohead.

I like the album. I want to buy it. But when I went to the site to pay for it... the site asked me for a bunch of personal information.... my question is, why?

That information grab was actually enough to prevent me from buying it. In an age where giving someone your personal information can result in spam, junk mail, annoying phone calls, or even contribute to identity fraud, etc... I am fairly careful about where and when I give out my info and I am certainly not willing to give it out for the right to purchase some music. I don't give it to the local record store so why would I give it to Radiohead? I wouldn't, and so I won't enjoy that album and my willingness to support "free" music ( as in freedom ) will not be counted by this experiment. Hmm.... too bad.

Well, when someone finally releases free music, I am willing and ready to pay for it.

It will happen.

05 July 2007

Honouring Teenagers

I was in a meeting with someone the other day who said talked about how their 17 year old child was so annoying to live with. Apparently this child is rude, messy, bossy, selfish, knows everything, has no consideration for others... is annoying. Then they went on to say, "She's a typical teenager. The're so disrespectful these days."

It struck me how simple it is for people to write off a whole segment of the population to justify the behaviour of their one child and avoid responsibility for how that child operates in the world. The message is, 'it's not anything to do with my child... all teenagers are like that".

I couldn't agree less. It's been my experience that teenagers are wonderful amazing people and I value the relationships that I have with so many of them (including the teenager in question above). In fact, I don't know a single teenager that fits the above description, and yet sometimes we adults paint this segment of the population with this brush. Unfortunately, this sort of lore, like the slams against racial segments tends to stick and be used by people looking for a way to be right.

I am tired of hearing how bad teenagers are. I say let's stop talking about "the way teenagers are" and just treat them like people... like we would want to be treated.

My friend Dar wrote about this very thing over a year ago. I missed it since I didn't know she had a blog at that time. I do now.

Thanks for tweaking my memory Dar.

04 April 2007

Brightnets vs. Darknets

This is a great little bit of technology that's sure to disrupt the vectoralists.

07 March 2007

Dell to offer Linux as alternative to Windows

This article from Reuters Business News reports that Dell is considering offering GNU/Linux as an alternative to Windows on it's personal computers. Of course this is great news for free software.

I think there are at least three major factors that will make this a huge success.

1) The price will be lower. Dell doesn't report how much of the purchase price goes toward Vista when you purchase a new Dell computer but it's probably not as low as say Ubuntu with a price of $0. And, for lots of users, price can easily be the deciding factor. No doubt, Dell will offer direct or third party support which will incur a price, but it will be an option.

2) The barrier will be lower. Right now, if the average mom and pop wants to run GNU/Linux on their computer there are a multitude of options and although it's dead easy to install, there's not much reason to because Windows is already installed. The switch from Windows to GNU/Linux is complicated by the fact that the user has usually already created documents and folders and they often have no idea how to move that data over to a new OS. Unless they have a kid who is a geek, the barrier to switching is pretty high. If, however, the OS comes preinstalled and mom and pop just start working with the new GNU/Linux box and creating their documents there... no problem. And, in fact, there would then be a barrier to switch back to windows, for the same reason.

3) No viruses. PC users can join the MAC crowd enjoying virus free operation of their PC. Security with GNU/Linux is just so much higher that there's no need for anti virus software and all of the complications and expense that goes with that.

4) Okay, I said three but here's one more. It's good for you. This is just a hunch, but I think in the near future the coolness of GNU/Linux will play a factor. It's like it's the environmentally friendly OS and with all of the polished distros like Ubuntu now available it really is a pleasure to use.

26 February 2007

Your Word

Your word is the single most powerful tool you have to generate the results you want in your life.

You can either honour your word, through thoughtful communication, being clear and straight, doing what you said you would do, and cleaning it up when you don't, OR, you can blurt out what ever thought enters your head, waste peoples time with nonsense, make promises and not keep them, and when you don't... pretend the promise didn't happen.

Honouring your word gives your word power. When people know they can count on you they treat you differently, they trust you, things can happen at a much higher velocity.

And, that's not even the best part. When you honour your word, you trust yourself more, you count on yourself more, you start to get a sense of what's possible through communication alone.

Seth Godin recently wrote Seth's Blog: Precision in language short riff about a writer's use of language. It's not that the writer is wrong, or bad, it's just that it's a waste of time. It doesn't move the conversation forward. And that's just not as powerful as it could be.

15 January 2007

Sony Mylo

Imagine being able to head down to the local convenience store and pick up a commodity web browser / communicator. It will cost less than $50 so you will be able to upgrade fairly often. If you lose it, it's no big deal because it doesn't actually hold any data. Your data is all safely stored on the net, at gmail, Skype, Flickr or DataZoomer.

If you want to give your device to a friend, no problem. If you want to share one with other family members, no problem. It's basically a the modern version of what we used to call a 'dumb terminal'. After 30+ years of viruses, spyware, blue screens of death and upgrade nightmares, it doesn't seem so dumb after all.

Now imagine that next generation WiFi is everywhere. And it's free. All metropolitan areas are covered as are most smaller towns. And, this dumb terminal, has software that allows you to communicate via the internet. Just like a telephone - but there's no phone. No phone bill.

It runs a basic set of communication applications, and that's it. You don't won't install applicaitons on the device because they're all available on the net - for free.

This futuristic scenario is getting much closer that some of us think.

Sony has had the PSP Game machine out for a few years and in my opinion, one of the most exciting features of this device is often ignorede. The thing has an awesome display and it can be used for browsing the web via a WiFi connection. Not only that but it also has a streaming media player that can play podcast feeds right off of the net. Pretty cool stuff and it's a few years old.

Well, here is something new from Sony. They call it the mylo personal communicator and get this... it does not have a cell phone! Instead, it has Skype. Very cool. It also plays mp3's, has 1 GB built in RAM, supports memory stick (natch), web browsing, email, chat, .... on and on... you can check out the link for yourselves but for me the idea of ditching the cell phone and using ubiquitous WiFi instead is just awesome.

It's not just about the money (although I do think cell phone rates are outrageous). It's about being held hostage by having your phone number locked, it's about contracts that cost a fortune to get out of and, it's about being nickel and dimed for every little feature for years.

WiFi phones are coming in lots of different shapes and sizes and companies like Sony, Apple and Nokia are getting on the WiFi bus because unlike most cell phone companies, they have a business models that don't have that nasty side effect where your customers end up not liking you.

08 January 2007

Hard to say goodbye

Beware the free cell phone! I am tired of being held hostage by cell phone companies. Multi-year contracts, locked handsets and huge cancellation fees makes me very cautious about trying a new cell company but also leaves me choosing cell services like I sometimes choose who to vote for. I end up choosing the one that I think is least likely to steal from me than the others.

Imagine what would happen if a cell phone company came in with unlocked phones and no contracts. Just pay us for the service we provide. Oh, and bring your own handset if you want or we'll sell you one that is yours to keep, for a reasonable profit. Oh, and if you want to stop, no problem, just let us know. We hope to have the opportunity to serve you again some day. Thank you for your business.

Seth's riff (Hard to say goodbye) about companies that make it hard to leave is right on. Companies aren't taking into account the opportunity cost of holding their existing customers hostage.

Sadly, it may take a disruptive technology (SIP over WiFi anyone?) to break free of the stranglehold.