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My older son just turned 8 years old last week and among his presents he received a robotic dog toy. I actually can’t remember the name of the manufacturer and don’t know if I would even want to link to them.

He saw it prior to Christmas and expressed an interest for it but Santa probably didn’t have enough to go around so we got him one. It seemed fairly straightforward to use when we pressed the demo buttons in the store and he is quite good at figuring out how things work. After getting my rushed degrees in Engineering and Neurosurgery I finally manage to separate the goods from the packaging and extracted the little bugger. There was more plastic holding the thing in place within the box than the toy is actually made of and there was no opening flap of any kind on any of the six sides of the box. It came with a hefty user’s manual so while he started to play with it we perused the instructions.

This thing is supposedly full of sensors; 12 in fact, and it uses the “latest technology”. For the price we paid it better well be. The toy didn’t want to do any of what it is supposed to. Then all of a sudden it did respond and the boys had some fun with it. My wife had the guide and started to laugh while reading the following passage. I have to admit I found it funny too but the more the boys tried to get this thing to react the more I thought “What a piece of crap” and to cover that fact someone in Marketing was probably ordered to put a spin on this. Here is what the user’s guide says:

“[product name] uses the latest artificial intelligence software. He has the intellect of an 8-week old puppy. Puppies aren’t perfect and neither [product name]. He can have a mind of his own. Sometimes [product name] will respond to your command, and sometimes he will do what he wants to do. It all depends on how he feels and how you are trying to communicate with him.” (grammatical errors as per text)

That paragraph describes the toy perfectly. Is this not the perfect cop out for a piece of junk? The “latest artificial intelligence software” – WOW! Not at M.I.T., NASA or SONY but right here in my son’s new toy! This thing can actually decide to do what it wants … or is it a malfunctioning ripoff? Call me skeptical. My son has given up on the toy and we have an expensive doorstop.

Here is the conversation at the company headquarters as I imagine it:

CEO: what do you mean there is a problem with the software?
VP R&D: well, it isn’t quite doing what we hoped it would.
VP Production: what? We already have 250,000 units made!
CEO: not to mention $2 million spent in R&D.
VP Sales: let’s just move ahead and ship them out anyway.
Everyone stares at him with mouthes gapping.
VP Sales: just get someone in marketing to prove themselves by putting a spin on this and pulling it out of the fire.

Well, I hope that person got the free lunch they deserve. That advanced intelligence doorstop is going back to the store and my son can have any LEGO set of his choice within the same price category. At least I know that will never let him down. I think a letter to the company is in order too.

So little time …

Since we launched version 2 things have picked up quite a bit here. Just 1 look at the frequency of posts in this blog will show that our energy is all directed elsewhere. People from all kinds of industries are interested in integrating the application into their online businesses and we’re busy delivering their requests.

In the next few months we’ll also be introducing 2 new products that will help bring your websites to life. To be among the first to see them when we release; send us an email and we’ll add your name to our list of people to invite.

There has also been a lot of interesting industry news but we’ve only scanned the headlines lately and need to read the related articles before passing on any information. One of the big stories of late was Google’s release of the news for their open-source mobile phone operating system called Android. Although the actual release was rather low key when compared to that of the iPhone, and the arguments for and against are about 50/50 right now, we feel there is great potential here. Let us know what you think.

Version 2.0 rolls out!

Oh, we are still here! We had a busy summer with several projects rolling at the same time and some of us spent more time with the kids, who were off school for the summer, than behind the keyboard. We had fun and hope you did too.

Back at the beginning of the month version 2.0 of Real-e-Live People was quietly integrated to our systems and rolled out to our clients. It has been running great and feedback has been all positive. Basically the UI stayed the same as the primary objective was to solidify the back end. That done, the team is now focusing on plugging in more features and developing new ideas. If you aren’t plugged in to 2.0 yet please get in touch with us and we’d be happy to give you a demo. You could have ReLP on your website and be talking with your visitors before lunch!

Do you have an idea for a feature you would like to see built in to your web audio/video tool that will enhance its use and help increase your productivity with it? Share your idea in our comments section, or send us an email with an outline, and we’ll be happy to get in touch with you to discuss its feasibility.

We’ll be back later this week!

If you live in the United States and happen to have a cell phone with T-Mobile, or are thinking of switching carriers, there is a great new offer they have. I understand we will have a similar offer available in Canada this fall. Technologies are finally converging and making sense for consumers. I have long been trying to whittle down to having only 1 telephone number PLUS good coverage wherever I go PLUS combine extremely low cost (free) long distance calls. Right now that means having a combo of cell phone, home phone, office phone and VoIP or a good long distance plan.

Well T-Mobile quietly introduced a new plan in the USA last Friday. I quickly made some calls to local telco contacts and found out we should have something similar in a few months.

Read all about it here.

Are you getting jazzed by the iPhone hype? How about all the coverage of people standing in lines since Monday for something that won’t go on sale before Friday night? Or the exposés on the front-liners who aren’t even there to buy an iPhone – they are just there for the notoriety of being first in line!

Never mind that the the iPhone doesn’t even allow you to replace its battery and forces you to sign up with their chosen carrier (full features heremissing features here), people will be shelling out $600 for a phone and probably even more once some of them get on eBay!

Steven Jobs officially announced the iPhone in his keynote this past winter and we can’t help but admire how this whole show unfolds; pure marketing genius. You can’t buy this kind of PR exposure. It’s not about the phone (well, OK, it is) but more about how it is all being rolled out, or not. There is no gigantic unveiling with hot air balloons or simultaneous worldwide openings. Simply a product being made available in stores starting tonight. All the hype is being consumer generated and consumer driven and thanks to the power of todays technology it is spreading farther and faster to more people than anything ever before.

Steven Jobs is smiling!

On a related note: check out his keynote address* if you haven’t already seen it . Not so much for the content but to observe his style and delivery. Notice that he is almost always on the move but stops when he requires impact. See the use of large and simple screen displays allowing for the whole message to be absorbed. And the dialog is in layman’s terms; no techno jargon that only geeks will get. No, this was addressed to everyone because he wants everyone to have an iPhone.

Of course there are arguments to be made against some or all of that, and we are aware of this, but for this exercise let’s look at the good in this and learn from it.

* iTunes requires a free subscription and the iTunes package to view the video. We are offering this link because it is the official source. Several other links exist as well.

Genius marketing?

new-shreddies.jpg

Sometimes it’s just a question of looking at the same old thing from a new angle! And the new ones seem to taste better too ;)

Always aim high!

While we don’t all have the luxury of sitting around in our undies while putting in our 2 hour work days, it doesn’t mean we aren’t successful and/or having fun while at work; right?!

Guy Kawasaki recently moderated another panel of entrepreneurial successes and posted the video up on his blog. It is 90 minutes of kick-in-the-butt inspiration. Check it out when you have a chance!

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