Monthly Archives: March 2006

Flickr Is The New Wired Images

One of the first things I learned about when I started playing with business on the Web was photo licensing. If you are in the Web development space, you know that it can be incredibly expensive. Companies like Getty Images make a lot of money in photo licensing. A few years ago I got introduced to the business of image license of news sites. It became clear that blogs would have a disadvantage when it comes to being able to display images. They simply do not have the budget to acquire images the way major news sites can.

But like many other things in life, technology and creativity has stepped in to turn the tables. While reviewing a recent news story from Wired, I noticed some text under the images. This is usually saying something like “Images courtesy of AP News” or “Wired Images”. But instead it said, “Images courtesy of Flickr/username”.

I know Wired is not the small blog I was referring to, but still it’s awesome to see Flickr being used in this fashion. I’m going to try to start adding some Flickr images myself. From what I understand, they are using Creative Commons, which is of course saving us all (at least a little) from “the man”.

My Apple Predictions

I have to admit to being an Apple rumor junkie. I check TUAW.com often for the latest info, which is often someone’s handy work in Photoshop. So I thought I would make my own list of predictions of what Apple will do this year. It will be fun to cross check this in December and see how close I was.

First, a full screen video iPod. This is a must. I predict that Apple will release this in ’06, very soon, and that it will be the most scratched item on the planet.

Second, they will release a media center of sorts. This is a pretty lame prediction, because they already kind of have one now with the Mac Mini. But, I suspect that they will make even more functions to add to your home theatre.

Third, Apple will release the iPhone. This one I am most certain of because of the confirmations that Apple is talking to the vendors in Asia. I think this will come with a 4gig HD for iTunes, possibly a 1gig Flash, and that it will sync up with iCal and address book.

Fourth, I think Apple will take another shot at getting people to switch by having their new OS run Windows apps. The recent switch to Intel, and the supposed relationship with BAPco. could mean that they are moving in this direction by November. Which would give Microsoft a good kick in the nuts for delaying Vista. (Is anyone else feeling like MS is going to try to sell us a car that they can’t even get started themselves?)

Fifth, I think a tablet must be on the way. My concern is that it will be the MacBook non-pro. I tried the TabletPC because I love the idea of it. But the thing was horrible. Obviously Apple could do this right, but I just hope they do it with a fast machine. For some reason all the Wind Tablets are slower machines.

Sixth, iTMS will start offering movies. They already offered one, but I think they will expand on that. I don’t think they will enter a relationship with Blockbuster or Netflix, but instead with Disney or Tivo. Obviously Steve now has a lot of influence with Disney. I predict that we will see a Disney movie (potentially one of the classics, more likely one of the Pixar) come to iTMS this year.

On top of these, I also think there is an outside chance we will see a Mac PDA. I don’t know if it will happen this year, but I think it’s very possible in ’07.

The exciting thing is that how Apple may not release everything I predict, they will release some things that I am not even thinking about. Like Guy Kawasaki said, if you asked most people back in the early 80’s what Apple should make, they would have said the Apple III. No one would have thought of a GUI or a mouse. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens. We may even get a treat on April 1st for their 30th anniversary.

Car Finalist

I think I have narrowed he search for a new car down to 4 models.

First, the Nissan Murano.  It fits my need for being a SUV type vehicle, but drives like a car.  I wouldn’t consider this one, but Andy speaks very highly of it.  I admit that they look cool.  I’m just not crazy about the name,

Second, the Lexus RX400h.  This was my first choice, but there is no Lexus dealer within 2 hours of my new place.  That would be a bit annoying for maintenance.  I do like the fact that it drives like a car, and it’s a hybrid, so I feel a little less guilty with a SUV.

Third, Volvo SUV.  It’s a bit of a soccer mom car, but it’s safe, and it’s got some great features.  Although it’s a bit big for what I was looking for.

Fourth, the BMW X5.  I admit this would be a vanity purchase.  It’s just so nice.  Incredible power, comfortable, and ever feature I could really want.  Of course it’s also $80k.  I’m not incredibly price conscious on this, but that may be a bit much.  But there is always the idea of leasing….

The next step is to go take these for test drives.

Salesforce.com Entourage Plug In Contest

In his more lucid days, John Dovorak made what I believe to be one of the best statements about people who use Macs. He said, “There are two types of people using Macs. Those who don’t know any better, and those who know more than the rest of us.� I’d like to believe that I’m among the later.

I switched to Mac around the time when Apple released OS X. Its Unix core and incredible Aqua interface drew me in. These, joined with the sleekness of the Powerbook and then the awe factor of my Cinema Display, made me a Mac zealot. I’ll also admit to being drawn in by the “Think Different� campaign. Who wouldn’t want to be likened to John Lennon, Mohamed Ali, Gandhi and Einstein?

As for switching, it was pretty painless. Windows has more apps, but when you take out what you don’t use, and what flat out doesn’t work, what are you left with? Since I’m the CEO of USWeb, obviously I needed to use Office, but I actually find Entourage to be even better than Outlook, except for the fact that it doesn’t support Outlook plug ins.

And this brings me to my problem. We recently started using Salesforce.com at USWeb. So far, I am happy with it. It’s a bit overly complicated, but it does streamline things a bit. If you have implemented this into your business, then you already know that the biggest challenge is user adoption. I’ve had to be a complete hard ass about this with our people, and it looks like that still isn’t enough. Salesfocrce.com allows you to sync up with a simple Outlook plug in, making the application a seamless part of the process. Unless you are on a Mac. Salesforce.com doesn’t support Mac very well, and it doesn’t look like this is going to change. Since I am slowly converting my employees to the Cult of Mac, and since it is my company, eventually USWeb will be entirely on Macs. And this might just be where Salesforce.com will lose me as a customer, particularly when we see what 37Signals produces as a CRM solution. Until then, I need to set an example in adaptation of Salesforce.com, which means I need that plug in.

I have been inspired by the work that came out of the contest for porting XP to Macintels, so I figured I’d try it myself. I will start the prize at $500 for the person who delivers the Salesforce.com plug in for Entourage. It has to be something that runs smoothly, doesn’t require me to run XP in the background, and does not require an unusual amount of work to install.

If there are any other like-minded people out there, feel free to email me (edshull@yahoo.com) and we can up the prize money together.

I Love Karma

Being in the business world, I come across unethical people often.  Most of them seem to hail from Boca Raton.  But there is one organization that trumps them all in the world of short sighted, unethical behavior.  I can’t say their name because they are very litigious, but it’s a major brand.

This organization was a client of USWeb, and we did a great job for them, at a very low price.  They reciprocated by endorsing us to a lot of prospects, which really helped us grow.  But along the way I would have people telling me not to trust them.  Many stories started to pop up that were concerning, to say the least.

Then I started to notice certain behaviors that made me question their ethics.  Abusing marketing techniques to the point of making them Spam, not paying us on time, and lying about their numbers to make us perform make-goods on campaigns.  (we had access to their numbers, so we knew they were lying).  Even with these signs, I made a horrible mistake and went deeper into partnership with this company.  I presented one opportunity to them that would have made them a lot of money, and USWeb very little.  They shot down the idea, tried to roll out their own version of the idea without us, and it failed to really do anything.  Recently a major company launched this idea, and it’s been very well received.

I then made a further mistake is going into an even deeper partnership with them.  And this time I compounded the problem by bringing our clients into the mix.  The deal I put together was a complete no brainier.  I honestly didn’t see how a company could screw it up.  Well, they did.  They tried to screw our clients, and then get us to pay them more money.

After a heated conversation with my main contact, who claimed he could do nothing to fix the issue, I flew that night from LA to NY.  I flew on a red-eye, got in at 4 in the morning, and hung out for hours until they opened.  I met with my contact that said everything was arranged to meet with the CEO at 10am.  I waited in their lobby, and at 10am I went into the conference room for our meeting.  Their CEO showed up over 2 hours later!  He didn’t apologize for being late, and then started to tell me how things were going to happen.  Yes, our clients were screwed, and how USWeb just better keep paying them.  I kept my composure and tried to lay out the plan to fix the problem without them having to do anything.  He refused and told me the solution was to keep paying them and to pretty much shut up.  He then called me an “indignant punk� and touted that he was the CEO of ******.com.  The whole thing ended in an argument, and him storming off.

They of course continued to screw our clients, and USWeb had to make good to each of them on our own.  I’m a pretty smart guy, so I figured out how to salvage the deal on our end and make some good cash.  Then out of the blue, they duplicate our deal with another firm!  At this point I was amazed at how incredibly unethical they can be.  The best part was that the deal with the other firm was in barter for Spam.  It’s like trading heroin for guns.  I put a plan in motion, brought in help from someone who became a legal nightmare to them, and got out of the deal.

I am a strong believer in karma.  With the belief in karma comes patience.  You have to believe that all your deeds imprint upon you, not only in this life, but the next.  I may have to wait until that CEO is reincarnated as a chicken sold to KFC, but someday he will get his.

But karma came down my chimney early this time.  I only had to wait a few months.  It seems their Spammy ways have not gone unnoticed by the powers that be.  They have been given the proverbial pimp hand by a tremendous source of their revenue, and they are in a panic about what to do next.  I’m certain they will weasel their way out of this.  I am also just as certain that karma isn’t done with them yet.