In Search of: A better computer bag (Part 1)

I have owned more computer bags and cases then I care to admit. Many times I created a story in my head that would allow me to purchase (read justify to myself) a bag for a particular need. But then I end up being let down.

Before I purchased another bag I wanted to make sure I was clear what my needs were.

Why did I need another bag?
What worked with the old bags?
What did not work?
What is my goal?
Do I like the design aesthetics?
Will this solve my problem or end up in the closet?

I wanted to be able to carry my MBA and an iPad, a moelskine notebook, a magazine or two – some small accessories and power supplies. I wanted to lighten up – work for the 80/20 rule instead of trying to pack for every scenario when I travel or go tot a friends house to collaborate on a project. Basically I was and am tired of carrying everything I own everywhere I go.

I looked at many many bag makers. I started with companies I had used before – as well as bags I had seen others use. Manufacturers like – Targus, Booq or Waterfield bags were on the top of the list. Each time I looked at a design I went back to what my needs were and what I was going to use it for and made sure it was a fit. Most times I felt like I was back at that talking myself into a bag point wehre I had been so many times before.

As I was reading The Brooks Review blog I came across a post that Ben had written on purchasing a new bag. He did an excellent review of fit and finish as well as functionality of a new bag he had recently purchased from Tom Bihn. I knew of Tom Bihn products but I had never owned any products or knew anyone who did.

I read the post over and over looking to poke holes in his story – or the story that I had created in my head about the bag. he was also paring down his needs and wanted to be what I like to call functionally minimal. When I got to the end of the review I realized it was for a Tom Bihn 13″ Ristretto. Immediately I went to the site to take a look for myself at the products and others options that existed. But I kept coming back to that one bag. It was a little unconventional for me – ok a lot. With is vertical orientation compared to the more common horizontal orientation I was concerned that it bordered on “murse like” qualities.

Then a funny thing happened I started searching for reviews of this bag and was blown away on how many there were. Blog posts, editorial reviews and user generated videos on you tube and vimeo. I found myself watching lots of videos about all their products.

It was clear that Tom Bihn created very high quality products and in doing so also created a huge network of customer evangelists that were happy to talk about the products. All aspects, the quality, the nice touches, how they use them, recommendations for add-ons and more. Many times when you see a product it is hard to gauge what you can get in the bag; no issues there. There were at least a dozen videos of customers packing and unpacking their various bags to give you a real world demos of what can actually fit. I was actually surprised because it reminded me very muck of Apple “p0rn” (sic) of unboxing new items.

So I ordered my Ristretto.

 

Magical

Apple has just released a new commercial for the iPad 2 entitled “We Believe”.  Its a bit of a departure from some of their others ads. This one shows how  focusing on technology can be useful, productive and simple.  My favortite line in the commercials says

When technology gets out of the way, everything becomes more delightful, even magical

Take a look.

Respect from another entrepreneur

Sir Richard Branson on well wishes and respect for Steve Jobs and the apple brand. (with a chuckle about merging the two)

Twitter with Seth Godin (or my minor brush with fame)

Last week marketing author Seth Godin and founder of the Domino Project in conjunction with Amazon had a hour long twitter session where he answered questions on a host of things related to his new book “Poke the Box“.  He started the  This was the first time to my knowledge he had done this.  I almost forgot and missed the time slot  but managed to get a question in.  I had a few others but time did not allow for them.

WIth any writer, musician, artist or person who creates something I am always interested in how their process works and how long it takes.  I think it is the curiosity in me that begs for the answer. Anyway here is my question to Seth.

Twit
If you are stuck and need to move forward READ THIS….If you haven’t gotten this book…GET IT !  If you have read this book…GIVE IT to others…

In search of: Todo apps

I admit it.  I have failed more times using GTD then I care to admit.  It was easier to quit smoking then get the process right.  Though I think there is merit if you have the fortitude to stick to it.
I have tried many many todo apps. Many of them great – but did not fit my needs or the way my mind worked (or did not work).
I have tried:

Wunderlist
Recently I came across a new application that seems to work amazingly well for me called Wunderlist by 6wunderkinder.   It is very simple and beautiful.  But don’t confuse simplicity with lack of functionality.  You can create context lists or different lists by function like work, personal or home.  You can share lists – print lists and set do dates.  My favortite feature of all is its cross platform synchronization.  I use a Mac and a PC at work, a Mac at home alone with an iPad and iPhone.  If you setup a free account on their web site you can synchronize all your tasks across multiple devices. A version for Android is also in the works to be released shortly. Opening up the application on any of the devices initiates the synchronization so you are always up to date.
If you live your life by a list this is a great application to make it a little easier.

Lean and Green

Logo Herman Miller LogoA few weeks ago I posted and article about design and sustainability on our company blog. I saw this article on TreeHugger the other day in the similar vein and after reviewing the headline I  thought there was a misprint.  How could a giant factory only generate 15 pounds of waster per month?  But in reading the article I was blown away but some of the facts that were included in it.

Herman Miller’s GreenHouse Factory Generates 15 Pounds of Landfill Waste Per Month

  • About 45 million pounds of parts, materials and packaging come into the plant every year. Amount of waste sent to landfill every month: fifteen pounds.
  • 50% of the parts used are manufactured within 30 miles of the factory in Zeeland, Michigan
  • The “store” contains two hours worth of parts; each assembly line has a couple of minutes worth of parts. Trucks arrive from some suppliers as many as six times a day

This is a great example of how lean manufacturing works at its peak.

But the article also when on to talk about what employees do – how they work and how the environment is setup.  Something else that really stuck out to me was a picture that is included in the article or a huge skylight.  It is it obvious that the use of natural light helps with the electricity savings within the plant.  But the article goes on to say that as a result of the skylight

they save a fortune on electricity, productivity is higher and absenteeism is lower.

Being able to equate productivity and absenteeism to the way this facility is constructed is amazing.  I would love to see other examples of how this works with other companies. If you know of any please let me know.

Categories Eco

Not So Mobile Coupons

The other day I was emailed a coupon from CVS for my reward dollars.  The coupon said to print it out and bring it to the store to redeem.

FrustrationWhen I went into the store I realized that I  for got to print it out but I thought why would it matter?  I turned on my iPhone and  I brought up the email that I received.  On the email was my barcode for the coupon.  I showed the check out clerk and asked her if she could use that instead.  She told me that they had to have the piece of paper to put in the draw for tracking and that the barcode scanner could not read it off the screen.  I have tried others apps that allow you to store all your loyalty cards on you iPhone and I have had very poor results with the scanning so I was somewhat understanding of that issue.  But having the coupon in the draw when it tracked against my loyalty card kind of surprised me.  Since no one else could use the promo without my card why do I need the paper? She explained that I could come back and they would refund me the money for the item if I brought the coupon back in.  While it was a nice suggestion I was angered by the additional effort I had to do to take advantage of the savings.

I went back to my apartment and printed the coupon out and later returned to the CVS. When I gave the clerk the print out she was very kind and tried to scan it over and over and it was not recognized.  So she restored to manually typing the code in to give me the credit. White this 25 digit number was being entered I looked at my phone and realized this number was also on the email so I was a little more perturbed. After the transaction was completed and I had my $5 back I thanked her and started to leave when I noticed her crumple it up and throw it away.  I said ” I thought that had to go in the draw?” she responded with since I entered it manually I dont have to.  Very very frustrated I walked away thinking now I have wasted more time for something that could have been done the same way from the phone.

As I left I went next door to a Starbucks and ordered my usual Americano.  I opened my Starbucks mobile app hit the pay now button a simple bar code was created, it was scanned and I was done.  Simple, no hassle and a process that made the transaction feel better.

I think and hope that more retailers will follow a similar path in the future or risk loosing loyalty customers all together.

Whitespace in Music


Fender telecaster thinlineSome of my favorite guitar players are not what many would think of as tradtional guitar heros. They have all played in famous groups.  But one of the things that distinguishes them from so many other great guitar players is what the don’t play rather than what they do.  All three of them recognized what I like to call the white space in the music.

Andy Summers is well know as the guitarist of The Police. [ Perhaps not as well know was that he was also a member of Eric Burden in the Animals in one of their incarnations.] He played short reggae riffs and let the other instruments fill in some of the voids. He created tonal layers instead of trying to overwhelm the music with rapid fire insertion of notes to impress.

Johnny Marr was the lead guitarist of The Smiths. In some songs his notes were so sparse you wondered if he was playing.  In my opinion a perfect example of this is in the song “Half a Person“.  The entire song is made up of chords played in a slow appagio like format and then he would have the most unbelievable little hook that made the entire song.

One of thing most distinguishable sounds of U2 is the minimal guitar playing by the Edge.  While he may overlay tracks of sound or heavy use of echo and time delay – the actual notes he plays are relatively minimal to the overall sounds that he produces.

Like great design sometimes it comes down to what you leave out rather then put in that makes something so special.