Episodes of a Dad – Part 2 – Yellow Jackets

Today was our last day in Dallas before our vacation to Destin, Florida. You know, a day to get everything packed and ready for the fun in the sun to come. But today was one of those days that you could make a really funny movie out of or just break down in angst and defeat.

When you have kids, you know there will be great moments, your sons first soccer goal, your daughters first dance recital, etc… There are also those days that seem to never end. This was one of those days.

It all started a few days ago when my daughter was sick, then magically on Wednesday of this week I get sick, 104 degree fever, the works. So I am still not 100% today… more on that later.

The kids were playing in the backyard when my oldest son Gavin comes screaming into the house like a banshee. We asked him what happened and we immediately notice a large number of bites glowing red on his arms and legs. I look out at his play fort and see yellow jackets flying in formation as if celebrating their kill. Let’s just say they will no longer be patrolling this airway.

So we immediately go with the ice/benadryl combo and pray that he is not allergic. After about 30 minutes everything is looking good until he says… “I am having trouble breathing”. So we hop in my car and off to the ER we go. This is roughly 1:00 PM by now. We arrive at the ER and an hour and a half later we get the all clear. So he is good to go. So we head out for some celebratory ice cream and medicine pickup.

Back on the home front there is still packing to do but I am still not feeling 100%, in fact I am starting to feel worse. So around 5:30 I do a web check in thinking it will save me time. I don’t get the call that they have a room for me until 9:00 PM. So after another hour and a half I am the one that ends up with a shot today, not the one who got stung 8 times. Go figure.

So now it is closer to 10:45 PM and I finally make it home to continue packing the car. I go to get something out of the van and the auto sliding door won’t open. Then I open the front door and the lights flicker then go out. The battery is dead. Someone left the keys in the ignition when he took the van earlier. So now I not only get to pack the car, but jump the car as well.

So this is around 11:45 PM. I am in the garage setting up the jumper cables, the van no problem. Then I get to my car and I realize that I have not jumped off of my car before. It is a C-230 and needless to say I was not quite sure how I was going to pull it off after popping the hood. I had to remove the battery cover, filter, etc… to get to the area I needed to do the jump. So car is now jumped and it is past midnight.

We are wrapping the final items for the trip and I am shutting down around 1:30 AM. When my son comes downstairs covered in vomit and commences to use our facilities. Then I get the welcome surprise in his bed that he left. And oh what a surprise it was. It reminds me of Stand By Me when everyone has a blueberry pie explosion… Yeah needless to say I got the lucky task of changing out the sheets. How did Cherlyn get out of that one? Well she has been taking care of sick people for the last week.

While I was changing the sheets and trying my hardest to get rid of the smell I go to open his window and set off the house alarm and wake up our light sleeping infant son. Now 4 out of the 5 family members are awake and my princess is just sleeping right through it all. Lucky girl.

So it is 2:32 in the morning, their is still vomit in the air and the looming 5:45 wake up call to catch our flight isn’t getting further away. This is a great start to our vacation, did I mention that rain is forecasted for the next 7 days there as well stopping on the day we are to leave :).

Like I said, this is either a day that you can just laugh about or makes you just want to roll over. What time does Starbucks open again???

 

 

 

Xbox Live Fall Update – E3 2008

Today at E3 Microsoft previewed the upcoming fall Xbox Live update. And what changes there will be.

The interface is obviously moving towards more of a Mac/Vista look and feel. Gamercards are still around as will your gamerscore, but my first question is what will happen to all of those 1000’s of Microsoft points I spent on Themes and Gamerpics??? Well Microsoft has guaranteed that themes are compatible with the new look, but no word yet on gamerpics.

Next they are going the Wii route by introducing avatars that can potentially be included in upcoming game titles as well as more community feel by viewing your friends avatars vs. a list and the ability to collaborate with up to 8 friends in a community space that allows for full collaboration.

I am not sure how I feel about the avatar introduction. I was really onboard with the concept of gamerscore, but I DO NOT want my Xbox experience to be like the Mii experience on the Wii. I am about the games and not about building an avatar or having that avatar appear in my games (Not a casual gaming fan). Yes let’s have Halo with Avatars… Please no. If I wanted that I would join Habbo or any of the other Avatar based reality systems.

More news to come, but again I am concerned about how the money I have spent to date migrates to the new plaform. I guess we will wait and see.

 Screen capture of the new Xbox Live interface for the Fall of 08

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270

nhl_2k8Why 270? What does it mean? Why is it the title of this post?

This number is very meaningful to me. Well at least today it is. You see 270 represents the number of days between the last shutout in our office hockey competitions. The last time it happened, October 19th, 2007 it was a very shocking event as I would put the % of games that end in a shutout at less than 1%.

Now today it has happened again. Rob Howard and I beat the team of Scott Dockendorf and Kevin Cunningham 3-0 to record the second such Telligenti shutout in the past 2 years.

It was a valiant effort but on this day…. again…. the unthinkable has happened.

Oh and for Scott… It’s called a “deke”…. ;)

iPhone 3G Adventures

I finally got my iPhone 3G around noon today but not without some adventure and waiting in the process. I would love to hear if anyone else has a story about waiting for their new  iPhone today.

First I stopped at a local mall to see if I could “pop” in and pick up the 3G. Needless to say the line there was 700+ people long. After waiting for a while and not making much progress I went with plan B which was to go to an AT&T store close to my office.

The line being only 20 people I thought this would be my ticket to getting the 3G. After about 30 minutes of the line not moving very much I started to second guess my decision. On a side note, I ran into a guy that I went to high school with that I had not seen in over 15+ years! I also got to meet his great family (wife and two daughters). It is a small world considering I did not grow up in Dallas.

As the line dwindled down and it was unknown exactly when the phones would run out it became clear that it was going to be very close based on the AT&T rep updates. When there were four people left in front of me they announced that they only had 4 phones left total! There were at least another twenty people behind me. I thought… wouldn’t it be great if they ran out right in front of me.

So as their was one person to go they came to me and said that one of the people did not meet the criteria, i.e. primary account owner… so there was one black 8 GB left so I took it immediately! I was eligible for the upgrade so the cost was minimal and the wait at the AT&T store was roughly an hour and a half.

As far as the phone it is better than I had hoped. The feel of the phone is a bit more natural than v1. The back has a slight curve to it and their is a difference in terms of the feel of the screen. The app store is a nice addition although I miss some of the free hack programs. The App store is tied to iTunes. There are a number of free apps, including a great lightsaber app. Other apps are sold in the same model as other iTunes products. I immediately started downloading apps to my hearts content!

My restore from a v1 iPhone went very smoothly once I was actually able to get the activation completed. It took about 15 attempts to connect to the Apple servers to get the phone setup. I backed up my v1 one last time, popped the SIM with the SIM removal tool that now comes with the phone and once connected ran the restore from the “previous phone” option to import all of my settings from my v1.

All in all it was a very seemless transition. I have to say I love the active sync with Exchange! No more duplicate effort on deleting items from my phone and inbox. My calendar and contacts will now stay in sync so no more daily sync routine.

I have been on the 3G network before with a BlackJack so the added speed will be nice. The only downside so far is the battery life seems to be significantly less than the v1. I will have to adjust some of the defaults to try and preserve juice while traveling. My only other complaint is that this model does not fit into the existing docks. It will require a new accessory!

All in all I am very happy with the upgrade and it was definitely worth the wait!!! For those of you with the v1 I really recommend the hardware upgrade. I was surprised by how much I enjoy v2. For those of you who have yet to take the plunge now is the time. The 3G network, full exchange integration and a great user interface! What are you waiting for???

Here is a shot of my newly opened iPhone 3G

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iPhone 3G

Are you going to get the iPhone 3G? If so why? Are you a current iPhone user or have you held out waiting for a faster network?

I am very interested in the study of Consumer Behavior. Especially around brands that transcend their categories and become engrained in our culture. Apple’s products definitely have redefined how we interact with music with the iPod and for many of us and I am very interested in how the iPhone is/has redifined our expecations around what a mobile device/phone should be.  

I have been very happy with my iPhone over the past year or however long it has been. All I know is that I am eligible for the upgrade with my carrier and I am ready for the 3G. I have lived with the quirks of not being able to push contacts, calendar and e-mail with Exchange. I have undergone the daily sync routine to try and keep my ever expanding calendar at bay. And I have suffered through the subpar camera experience. 

I have enjoyed the various hacks and it has even survived a few dives into my infant sons bathtub. So now it is time to upgrade and I will be one of those people in line early on Friday the 11th just so I can upgrade to the 3G.

Is it a necessity? No. Will it make life easier? Maybe a little bit. Could I wait and just get the 2.0 software release to get Active Sync? Sure. Will I wait beyond this weekend to pick up the phone? No.

This is where I have to give Apple credit for their marketing and design of their products. There is not another brand that comes to mind that has positioned itself in such a way that with each new release of a product it warrants an almost immediate upgrade. Think about how many iPods total that you own or have bought in the past few years alone.  

This is not necessarily because the functionality is superior, it is has to do with the simple and elegant products that demand your attention and ultimately get it because it is…. well cool. The hipster factor is high on their products and they cater to those that appreciate sleek, modern designs while keeping in mind that style over substance only works if you are a supermodel. For the rest of us you have to deliver the core functionality of todays integrated offerings and for the most part their products deliver both style and substance.  

So was this post necessary? No. Will there be another iPhone post in the future? I am sure. Will I pick up the 3G? Absolutely.  

Dark Marketing

One of my hobbies is reviewing emerging trends around marketing and social media (Doesn’t that sound like fun?!?)  One such trend is Dark Marketing. No, this is not Darth Vader marketing his favorite life-support system or vacation spot… Hoth anyone??? This approach caught my attention as it is fascinating to me the lengths that certain brands will go to gain traction with potential influencers.

Dark Marketing (Defined in Wired recently) is discreetly sponsored online and real world entertainment intended to reach hipster audiences that would ordinarily shun corporate shilling.

This style of marketing is more “covert” in its approach. And with current and pending regulation around how products such as tobacco, alcohol and even fast food is presented to target markets this style of marketing is being deployed with more regularity than ever before.

The ultimate end goal is to reach an influencing audience without necessarily directly engaging the brand with the prospective targets. Instead the brands are almost non-existent but they are funding events through creating a sense of elite “insider” or “personal” events. During the events brand team representatives would engage with crowds by loudly ordering the products and then casually engaging in conversation about the products. Or a softer approach of casually conversing about a product or using a product that leads to a pitch in a very casual social setting.

Companies like Sony, Ford and McDonalds are actively deploying Dark Marketing campaigns. Sony recently executed operation “fake tourist” where they planted users of one of their camera products in a prime location and asked them to engage with people to take their picture which would lead to a pseudo-pitch around the product.

McDonalds is not a company that you would normally associate with a Dark Marketing campaign. Normally it is here is our food, here are the toys for your kids and by the way we have a great dollar menu… (great, now I am hungry)… is now sponsoring an alternate-reality game called The Lost Ring and it is nearly devoid of golden arches. This is an interesting approach as this ties McDonald’s sponsorship of the Olympics into a hip virtual-reality crossover between Lost and The Blair Witch project in an attempt to reach global youth in a very viral manner.

One thing remains very clear. The time of shotgun marketing has passed and the user is king when it comes to messaging. But one inherent truth still remains that people are social beings and their will almost always be someone who will have influence within a group. The only thing that has changed is that their defenses have gotten better and marketers have to adapt with innovative strategies that the end user ultimately wants to hear.