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Month: December 2008

OMG – “Dilbert 2.0” – 20th anniversary hardback. Welcome to my bookshelf!

So, as if I weren’t already “media’d-out” by staying up till 1am each night this week watching the slow-but-winning first series of The Wire out of the 5-series box-set (a wonderful pressie from Vicky who’s trying to wean me off CSI…) I have just received in t’post the beautifully produced and weighty 20th Anniversary Dilbert hardback, slipcased, glossy, colour, tactile-heaven book.

Dilberts 20th Anniversary hardback
Dilbert's 20th Anniversary hardback

Admittedly, our beleaguered and bowed Postie wasn’t happy, but I certainly was 🙂

The book’s a large format – more ‘fork lift’ than ‘coffee table’ – but the binding and slipcase are weighty and well constructed. Think ‘woodworking’ rather than ‘cardboard’. The structure is neat too: an essay from Scott on his earliest cartoons, lucky breaks, disappointments and the growth of Dilbert – as a character and a syndicated cartoon. The book then has pages of cartoons categorised into the various ‘phases’ of the last 20 years along with lots of inline commentary from Scott Adams on the jokes, the reader responses and background.

This is a real treat for longstanding Dilbert fans and newbie accolites alike. There’s an archive DVD of 6,500 cartoons too (if the web’s just too slow for you).

So – thanks Father Christmas. Great pressie!


Sigh – maybe it’s ironic? Or a graphic designer’s claim that an apostrophe can live above a random letter?

Apostrophe is more like ‘Nopostrophe’ with their season’s greetings…

Microposting(s) for December 18th through December 27th

These my micropostings and bookmarks – December 18th through December 27th:

  • nativeclient – Google Code – A further step towards the browser supplanting the operating system?

    While google’s Native Client plugin is still simply that, it’s clear that Google’s seeing itself in the middle of the information cycle: finding stuff (google search), reading stuff (Chrome qua ‘browser’), doing things (Chrome qua application delivery/manipulation engine) and now of course supplanting the (bloated?) intermediation of an OS sitting between the browser and the chip.

    While this isn’t going to supplant a developed OS any time soon (eg for musicians, accountants, corporate users, designers) it could make the Netbooks even more powerful: fat wireless, cheap chip, no OS to pay for, Google Docs for wp and storage, and then embedded chunks of functionality running ‘in browser’.

    More interesting by the day. And to think that we used to think that MicroSith was greedy in its ambition for WindozeEverywhere…

  • DiSo Project – “Open, distributed, social” – building an open, interconnected and distributed world, with the first project built on top of WordPress.
  • · Social Networking – Interesting and richly-referenced article on open data exchange, standards and players in social networking.

    From the folks working towards Free Network Services.

  • The Snow Patrol : Criteo – behavioural marketing and merchandising services
  • Casino targets UK with discount e-tail site – “Discount” and “online” – interesting market entry approach from Casino, one of the world’s largest volume retailers. This will make the UK’s electronics market even more competitive.

    Gee-gaws and widgets aside, you need to have massive buying power to compete on price and this offering will bring DSG-esque levels of purchasing power to the UK.

    One to watch – especially with their launch offers… – monetising the lessons of success

Well well – this is a fun idea. Zappos, a US$ 1 billion etailer that’s done for shoes what Amazon did for books, has created a ‘club’ for the “Fortune One Million” group.

The club, c$40 a month membership, is a mix of video content, happy-clappy employee indoctrination videos and general bigging-up of the company culture. It’s all very ‘can do’ (and more importantly ‘have done’).

In addition there’re knowledge base articles, interviews with key staff and execs, and opportunities to post questions.

Although a little ‘American’ at times, it’s an interesting approach from a company that clearly believes in values of staff and customer engagement, delivering great service and in sharing insights. After all, it’s one thing to be given an insight, but an entirely more difficult thing to interpret and then implement the requirements of that insight.

Having worked for years in best practice publishing, training and indeed the structured, state-supported business development sector (with Business Link for London, formerly Europe’s largest enterprise support agency) this initiative is to be welcomed.

That they’re clearly going to monetise the One Million is simply an elegant example of that commercial spirit 😉

Please let me know your experiences if you join.

Microposting(s) for December 10th through December 12th

These my micropostings and bookmarks – December 10th through December 12th:

  • Small Flags – Joy! Here, in one place, all of the flags you could want ready for those i18n sites!

    A service to mankind. Manuel Giorgini we salute you.

  • FixMyStreet – iPhone app. – MySociety are/is wonderful, and fixmystreet worked (I had some graffiti removed within a week and a courtesy call to check I was happy. From Tower Hamlets!?! Magic!).

    Now, they’ve put this wonder service onto the iphone. In their words:

    “I’m very excited to announce that the iPhone app for FixMyStreet is now live and available for download on the App Store (link opens the App Store in iTunes). You can now record a problem when out and about with your iPhone, using its camera and GPS, ready for checking and submitting to the council. Hopefully people will find this useful! :)”

    Awsome. The Social Mobile Geolocation-aware Web.

  • Christmas on Oxford Street: Tinsel town – Interesting article in Retail Week – a wander down Oxford Street rating the Christmassiness and retail ‘pizzaz’ of the main retailers.

    I’m pleased to say that House of Fraser, one of my clients, performed well (ok, top 🙂 ) and it’s good to see the hard work behind the scenes bearing fruit on the shop floor.

    Highlight quotes include:

    “This really is very impressive. The decorations throughout the store are subtle and sophisticated.

    “The Christmas shop itself is excellent – great for inspiration and it feels relaxing. Price offers are subtly but clearly communicated. Crucially, House of Fraser is giving people a reason to come here and it is good at making people shop.”

    Festive feeling: 10/10
    Display and merchandising: 8/10
    Customer journey: 9/10
    Total: 27/30

  • MailSteward – Maybe this is what I need to help OSX’s deal with over 100k email messages? Sick of rebuilding the ‘envelope’ file (whatever that is)…
  • Blue Microphones: Products: Snowball – Stephen Fry has one. Clearly I need to own one too.
  • BusySync – Sync iCal and Google Calendar – from BusyMac – More fully-featured that Google’s iCal CalDAV sync offering – main benefits are: iPhone syncing, calendars appearing natively in iCal (not as DAV attachments to iCal), and support for shared/multi-owner calendars.
  • WooThemes Demo – Typebased theme – Nice theme from the folk at Woo Themes.

e-Consultancy and cScape’s 2009 Customer Engagement Survey

The third annual cScape/e-consultancy survey on Customer Engagement has been published, and it’s one of the biggest samples to date.

You can see the press release and e-consultancy’s version, but you should also mosey over to cScape’s Customer Engagement Unit to see Richard Sedley’s introduction and to request a ‘designed’ version of the report 😉 You can also flick through the report via the Issu embedded pdf.

My small contribution was piece on Sustaining Profitability in a Challenging Retail Climate, and it’s therefore a pity to see that only 51% of the sample are focusing more on customers as a result of the downturn/recession.

An interesting report and certainly food for thought as marketers in particular think through how they’ll make their targets next year – surely a ruthless focus on converting “purchasers” to “customers” and sustaining meaningful commercial relations will come to the top of the list?

Microposting(s) for December 9th from 20:25 to 22:51

These my micropostings and bookmarks – December 9th from 20:25 to 22:51:

  • BBC NEWS | Business | Bratz loses battle of the dolls – Yay!!

    “Bratz dolls are facing removal from all shops after a US federal court banned parent company MGA Entertainment from making the Barbie rival.”

    I’m no fan of Barbie, but kudos to her for killing off the vile, rude, repulsive, disgusting, annoying, nag-bait that is Bratz. As a parent I applaud!

    Not sure how I’ll explain to the kids that restrictive practices on intellectual property, transfer of know-how and passing off came together in a glorious legal storm… Perhaps I’ll just repeat ad infinitum my current chant:

    “Daddy hates Bratz even more than High School Musical(s) 1 through 3”.

    RIP Bratz. We’ll miss you – not.

  • Honeyshed – Reinventing Shopping for the Digital Generation – OMG! “Reinventing” as in “reproducing TV Shopping for the MTV Generation”!

    Er – a jukebox of flash/flashy video shot in that low-budget-but-not-amateur-but-not way, promoting products.

    Wow. Feel the quake.

    That said, a nice way for a small group of people to work a video+ webcast+ youtube+ affiliate+ yoot angle. Good luck to them.

    Cunning, yes: revolution? no.

  • Domain Name Wire » News » Standard Tactics, LLC: How GoDaddy Profits from Expired Domains – The Domain Industry’s News Source – Ouch.

Microposting(s) for December 4th through December 9th

These my micropostings and bookmarks – December 4th through December 9th:

Interviewed on SkyNews about “Mega Monday” or Cyber Monday

So, then, to 4 Millbank to be interviewed on the 7pm SkyNews bulletin about CyberMonday (or, being British, “Mega Monday”).

Appearing on SkyNews at 7pm
Appearing on SkyNews at 7pm

I was called this afternoon to ask if I’d be willing to appear and comment and of course the answer was ‘yes’. Then I started to feel nervous!

I don’t recall much about the interview itself – I was in a dark room, staring at a focus point and desperately listening to the question so that I didn’t burble. Intentionally, anyway.

Up earlier had been David Walmsley, Head of Direct at John Lewis, and as I’d arrived in the studio I’d thought how composed and fluid he was on TV. I decided to become more nervous immediately 😉

The studio was intriguing: not quite a ‘radio car’, but certainly a compact and lean operation, mainly focused on political happenings at nearby Parliament.

The Millbank studio for Sky News
The Millbank studio for Sky News

I’ve not been able to track down a ‘recording’ of what I said, but my intention was to cover off how the predictions for Mega Monday were tending toward the blindingly obvious, and how even a scrooge-like consumer was now running out of shopping days to Christmas. Behind the headline figures of revenues (predicted, btw, by IMRG to be £320m today, with Retail Decisions predicting that Mega Minute will be 1.31pm today, with an expected near £1m in transactions that minute), the real issue is that revenues this year will have been bought by discounting. In order to have a higher cash value of transactions than last year, therefore, retailers will need to ship proportionally more boxes – creating an additional strain on their logistics operations as well as reducing their margins even further.

Pressed on the reason for the success of the web I recall mentioning that the web was now a mature component within multichannel retail. The web is used by some 90% of people questioned in an IMRG survey to help decide on purchases made in-store. Interestingly, only 68% of those questioned said the reverse – that they needed to see goods in-store to inform their internet purchasing.

I was asked whether there was anything fundamental to the web that would make it an inherently ‘cheap’ channel, but of course there’s a need to have a capable infrastructure as well, ideally, as a traditional retail channel in order to maximise sales. I challenged the draw of the web as being “cheapness” alone, noting that customers now required service as much as price. In the US on CyberMonday, for example, nearly 11% of all shopping traffic went to – a combination of breadth of product, excellent pricing and exemplary, proven service.

In what seemed like an age or a second it was over and, with a polite ‘thank you’ from the producer, I was back on the scooter heading home.

The kids were pleased to see me on telly (ahh) and I’ve already had abusive texts about being fat/nervous/bearded etc – to which I just say “thanks” 😉

This is a picture of me on the telly taken with Vicky's iPhone - I'm just blinking, not falling into a trance. Honest.
This is a picture of me on the telly taken by Vicky with her iPhone - I'm just blinking, not falling into a trance. Honest.

It was an interesting experience and something out of the comfort zone. It was also a chance to get some key messages to a new audience and finally whet my appetite to enliven our plans for InternetRetailing TV. We did some experiments at our conference – see the embed below –  but I think that it’s time to be a bit more active on this front.

Jobs: Sales Manager and European Editors for Internet Retailing

We have a vacancy for a sales manager at Internet Retailing (the magazine, portal and conference for the UK’s multichannel and pure-play etailers). This is an exciting time for IR – our third annual conference was a great success and the mag and portal continue to grow in terms of critical acclaim (from a demanding, professional readership), revenues and scale.

With new events, supplements, v/pod-casts, goodness-knows-what-else, AND French and German editions of the newsletters and portals, it’s a manic and exciting time at IR Towers, and we now have three vacancies just waiting for the right people to join us.

We’re looking for:

  • Sales Manager – based in London, excellent base, unlimited commission, at the heart of a fun and expert supplier community. We’re looking for someone used to B2B, reputation-based selling who’s great with clients and not a “sales tosser” (ie talks like an estate agent, always yakking on about “closing”, pretending to discount/’do a deal’, and generally leaving civilised people aghast at their poor manners, short-termism and ignorance).
  • Country Editor, France and Country Editor, Germany – to launch the French/German-language portals and bi-weekly newsletters in, er, France and Germany respectively. You’ll be commercial, an analytical journalist, with sector experience (ie this isn’t just academic, you need to understand ecommerce and retailing) with a desire to make a name for yourself in the sector. You’ll be mother-tongue fluent, of course, and also speak excellent English so that we can chat. You’ll represent IR at the highest levels in-country, build on the basis of the European eCommerce Forum, and work as part of an unformal, slightly mad, collegiate team.

I have job descriptions, further info, a keen-ness to chat – let me know if you’re interested or push good people in this direction. Don’t be shy 🙂 Mail me for further info.

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