Showing posts with label Easy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Easy. Show all posts

July 26, 2018

Pet Rock 2018

So when I saw this colored rock last evening, it made me think two things:

One, cool idea, looks nice and fun to make.

Two, it reminded me of the Pet Rocks in the 1970s that made millions (this one was hippie even though those back then weren't actually even colored).

A business guy came up with the idea to sell smooth rocks from Mexico beach and market them as pets.

Yeah, they are so lovable and easy to care for!

It was one of the great branding and marketing events of the 20th century.

Who would think people would actually spend money on a plain dumb rock that you could basically pick up off the street?

But incredibly, putting the rock in a box with holes (so the rock could breath) and sitting it on a little stack of hay with an joke of instruction book for caring for your rock, SOLD. 

And in fact, over 1,500,000 rocks were sold at a pop of $4 each.

The guy became a millionaire and got rid of a truckload of worthless rocks.

Yes, "One man's garbage is another man's treasure!"

But surely this was getting a little ridiculous.

Hey, I'll give you a nickle for the shinny painted rock in the photo here. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 9, 2015

Sit-Stand Computer Desk 1-2-3


This adjustable computer desk stand from Veridesk for sitting and standing is awesome. 

Someone got this in the office, and it is the talk of the town. 

It comes as one piece, no assembly required and you just place it under your computer--simple, easy!

Just push the handles on either side and the desk height adjusts variably up or down. 

I found it on Amazon for just $325-$400 depending on the size and whether you have a double monitor. 

My colleague at work said just try it and you will feel so good--this seems like a good healthy deal. ;-)
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June 22, 2015

Drones Made Easy


OMG, this is awesome.

This Lily Camera Drone is "throw and go" and simply lands in your hand. 

You can set it to follow you--almost like a guardian angel-- or to lead you where you need to go. 

Records video, sound, can do slow motion, and takes photos.

It has a tracking device.

It's waterproof.

Awesome for extreme sports or personal surveillance.

Would like to be able to communicate with it by voice command, and also see what it sees and hear what it hears with augmented reality glasses or on a smartphone or wearable.

Finally, if only it would come with a laser to zap anybody or anything bad that may come at us--that could be reassuring. 

Costs = $619 and ships in May 2016.

That was easy.  ;-)
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November 22, 2014

In Case Of Emergency


Washington D.C. Metro Emergency Instructions

Ugh, long and boring.


How 'bout this instead:


- Don't Freak Out

- Don't Get Out 

(unless your in immediate danger)

- Don't Take Your Bulky Stuff Out

- Don't Fry When Your Out 

(stay away from the electrified 3rd rail--zap!)

Easy, smeazy. ;-)


[Note: Follow instructions at your own risk.]


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal - sorry so fuzzy, train was moving)

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October 3, 2014

Data Like Clouds

So data is like clouds...

Clouds want to be free roaming the wild blue skies similar to how data wants to be searchable, accessible, useful, and so on. 

But with data, like clouds, when it rains it pours--and when data blows about with the windstorm and is compromised in terms of security or privacy, then we not only come away wet but very uncomfortable and unhappy. 

Then, as we actually end up putting our data in the great computing clouds of the likes of Amazon, iCloud, HP, and more, the data is just within arm's reach of the nearest smartphone, tablet, or desktop computer. 

But just as we aspire to reach to the clouds--and get to our data--other less scrupled (cyber criminals, terrorists, and nation states)--seek to grab some of those oh so soft, white cloud data too.

While you may want to lock your data cloud in a highly secure double vault, unfortunately, you won't be able to still get to it quickly and easily...it's a trade-off between security and accessibility. 

And leaving the doors wide open doesn't work either, because then no one even needs an (encryption) key to get in. 

So that's our dilemma--open data, but secured storage--white, soft, beautiful clouds wisping overhead, but not raining data on our organizational and personal parades. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 6, 2014

How NOT To Interview For A Job

So I am at this place of business this evening, and I overhear someone trying to apply for a job.

Note, I feel bad for the guy who is looking for extra work, but the interview just is going all wrong. 


- Easy-Smeasy - He asks "What is the easiest part of the job?" Ugh, didn't sound exactly like he was looking for a challenge.


- Keep your head down - He exclaims, "And never do someone's else's job!" What about helping where the help is needed?


- Great facilities you got here - He ends with, "And when I work here, my kids are really going to love coming to use the facilities here all the time!" Not exactly, a what will I do for you strong ending. 


I didn't get to hear the whole interview dialogue, but this was enough to get the idea about some things not to do in an interview. 


The funny/sad thing was, I think this gentleman really thought that he was going to get the job after all. ;-)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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December 30, 2012

Dyson Vs. Dirt Devil

For those of you neat freaks out there, you probably have been sold on the King of Vacuum cleaners--the Dyson!

Dyson, a British company has built a vacuum cleaner (and fan and hand dryer) empire with 4,000 employees and $1.5 billion in sales. 


For a number of years now I have used Dyson including their super powerful (and expensive) "Animal" bagless cleaner--this thing actually ate up one of my phone cords and tore it to shreds.


I've also had other Dysons and my experience has been that while they look really nice in their bright yellows and grays, and sort of sleek for a vacuum, but they tend to break down--especially the motor for the brushes that work on the floor that I find accumulates hair and dirt around the spinner until it stops working. 


The other thing that I've found with the Dyson is they come with so many annoying attachments, many with no place to actually attach them all--I think it is overkill for most people's basic cleaning needs. 


After going through a number of Dysons, I finally got fed up with paying so much and getting so little, and we decided to stop "investing" in short-lived Dyson vacuum cleaners.


Instead we said let's get a simple, cheapo, Dirt Devil for like 50 bucks and run it into the ground. If it stopped working we could replace it 6-10 times for the cost of a single Dyson!


We purchased the Dirt Devil, and my expectations were very low--I actually considered it an experiment in purchasing this low-tech machine, and just seeing what we would get. 


Well, it's been about 3 months and I can't believe the amount of vacuum you can get for so little money with the Dirt Devil--it is bagless like the Dyson and without scientifically measuring the amount of dirt it picks up, I'd say it is almost equivalent in getting the dirty job done. 


Additionally, the Dirt Devil--doesn't come with all the useless attachments--a case where more is less--and it weighs only around 8 pounds, which is 1/3 of what the Dyson weighed--so it is much easier to use around the home. 


Similarly, when I look at the cool Dyson fans without blades, it seems almost magical how they actually work, but frankly who cares if it cost $300-$450 and doesn't work as well as a basic floor Vornado that sells for about $120. 


My opinion is that Dyson is generally overpriced and underperforms--but at least you'll have the image of innovation and performance, even if not the reality at the price point.


Anyway, If I had a vacuum cleaner dream, it would be to one day get one of those "commercial" vacuum cleaners that you see being used in the huge buildings--almost non-stop use--and they may cost a little more, but they actually give you more as well. ;-)


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Molly DG)

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December 16, 2012

Amazon Will Bury Walmart

I've never seen the great allure of Walmart. Actually before I moved from NYC to the DC area more than a decade ago, I had never even seen a Walmart--and that was just fine. 

But I had heard these amazing tales of how they were superstores with everything you could ever want and at low prices and the shopping experience was supposed to be, oh what a delight!

So I cannot tell you my utter disappointment the first time I went to Walmart--shabby storefronts, elderly door greeters handing out store circulars and stickers, messy aisles and shelves, with low price tags on a swirling everything, and sort of the image of crummy leftover merchanidse throughout, and top that off with pushing crowds trying to save a couple of bucks on the junk. 

Let's just say, I'm not running back to Walmart, especially when we have online shopping experiences like Amazon--now that is much closer to nirvana. 

No drive, no crowds, no wait, no up and down the aisles looking for what you want, no shlepping, and no in your face "everyday low prices" image and we won't let you forget it--instead easy to find, interesting, varied, and quality merchandise of all types, at reasonable prices, with an easy checkout process, home delivery, free shipping, and easy returns. 

And as opposed to Walmart which is stuck in costly and inconvenient large brick and mortar stores, Amazon is investing in infrastructure of the future with convenient warehouse and delivery centers throughout the country, and more recently with their purchase of Kiva Systems in March 2012 for implementing robotics in their fulfillment centers. 

On top of it, Walmart (with nearly 2.2 million employees worldwide) in its endeavor to keep prices low, have spun up their workforce with jobs--that are often part time and unpredictable, low wage, lacking proper benefits, unsafe working conditions, and with questionable advancement opportunties (especially for women). Throw on top of that bribery allegations for which they've hired a new complaince officer. Yet, Walmart has also somehow managed to keep their workforce from unionizing to improve things. 

So how should we say this: how about straight out--Amazon gets it and Walmart does not!

And while Walmart has their own .com site--which coincidentally looks very much like Amazon's--Amazon is eating Walmart's lunch online, with according to NBC News a 41% revenue increase for Amazon's online sales versus just 3.4% for Walmart's. Moreover, Bloomberg BusinessWeek (29 March 2012) reports that Walmart's 2011 online sales amounted to less than 2% of their U.S. sales--they just can't seem to make the digital transformation!

So While overall Amazon sales at $48 billion are still only about 1/9 of Walmart colossal $419 billion, Amazon with it's high-tech approach (including their successful Kindle eReaders, cloud computing, and more) is anticipated to reach $100 billion in online sales by 2015

Like the other big box retailers of yore, Kmart, Sears, JC Penny, Circuit City, Best Buy, and more, Walmart will decline--it will just take a little longer and with a little more thrashing, because of the size of their checkbooks.  

Perhaps, as the New York Times implied years ago (17 July 2005) only stores like Costco (and throw in Nordstroms as well) with their tall aisles stocked neatly with quality goods, at low prices, and with better human capital ethos, will survive the big box retailer Armageddon.

My prediction is that within a generation Amazon will bury Walmart, if not literally so they are out of business, then figuratively with the best and most lucrative online shopping experience around--and as for the matchup betweent them, it won't even be close.  ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Fuschia Foot)
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November 2, 2012

Voting Firsts

With voting, this was the first time I've ever:

- Voted early--even though it was on the last early voting day.

- Had to wait on any sort of real line to vote--this one was about 30 minutes long!

- Waited outside in the cold on a line snaking around the building--until the election volunteers had a heart and let us all in and out of the cold. 

- Had electioneering occurring right outside at tables and people handing out "information" until maybe 25 feet before the doors of the polling center--in the past, this activity was always kept far away and and they didn't have the nerve to approach you as you were literally going inside the polling stations. 

- Got to sit down at a voting machine--always had to stand up previously, but from the sitting position and the "ergonomics" of the voting machine, you could hardly see them properly. 

- Had virtually no voting privacy--the machine faced the walls with the touch screens facing inward towards everyone else in the auditorium.

Despite all these voting firsts and most of them disappointing, the one voting first that I would have liked to see and didn't was Internet voting, where we would usher voting into the 21st century with ease of voting, convenience, and privacy. 

For some reason we can bank, shop, and pay taxes online, but to vote, we're still stuck in the dark ages and it seemed like overall it was getting darker. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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September 24, 2012

Baxter Disappoints


This new robot named Baxter, by Rethink Robots, is practically being touted as the greatest thing since Swiss cheese--"allowing our people to use their minds more than their hands"--but this demonstration video shows a clumsy and awkward robot instead. 

Bloomberg BusinessWeek (18 September 2012) actually calls it a "huge disappointment" and I've got to agree.

The product manager in video calls Baxter--developed with $62 million over 5 years--"easy," "complaint," and "collaborative," but unfortunately Baxter, the robot, comes off looking anything but as he slowly and laboriously tries to pick up and move items from one location to another, and the product manager pulls his arms and pocks at his screen/face to program it.

While I am a huge fan of robotics and see their potential to transform our society--where robots can becomes surrogates for humans in everything from work to even odd companionship, I do not see the breakthrough here by Rethink Robots--except in the affordability of this robot to be used in manufacturing for only $22,000 a unit. 

What I do like about Baxter is that it is generally a good-looking device--with a solid looking grey base and long 9 foot wingspan red stretch arms.  I even sort of like the eyes and brows giving it a humanoid nature, but the quirky and flimsy looking red screen hanging off the main body looks chinsy. 

Also, if the robot is so "friendly," you'd almost expect it to be on wheels and mobile with the ability to speak, so that it could more genuinely interact with others, but it does not.  

Baxter is the brainchild of one of the pioneers of the Roomba vacuum--another toyish device that I wouldn't spend a dime on. 

Maybe, the way to look at it is that we need to take baby steps before we get the real iRobots coming to us--and hopefully that day will come soon.

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September 21, 2011

Shalom Rotundus

Rotundus, the rolling robot, was designed by the European Space Agency for exploration of distant planets like Mars and Mercury, but now it has found its way into many earthly avocations.

This Groundbot has "eyes" on either side of its roly-poly robotic body and has a unique internal pendulum for maneuvering around.

Currently, Rotundus is deployed for sentry duty at SAAB auto manufacturing plants.

However, as you can see in the video, it can also function comfortably in a home environment as a quasi baby-sitter for the kids.

Already, we see robots in Japan providing service to people from servers in restaurants to caretakers for the elderly.

I appreciated the interview with the CTO at Rotundus who shares his vision for robots that "provide not only security, but also pleasure to people."

Rotundus is a great example of how robots can come in virtually any way, shape or form.

The key is that robots leverage the best of automation and innovation to help ordinary people do things simpler, easier, and more convenient than ever before.

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