Thursday, April 29, 2010

Can Entrepreneurs Go It Alone Without Co-Founders?

ReadWrite start posed the question: Can Entrepreneurs Go It Alone Without Co-Founders?

Lewis also argues that it is highly unlikely that entrepreneurs will find their emotional match when seeking a co-founder, but I think that is exactly why having a co-founder is a good position. If you want your co-founder to be a "yes man" clone of yourself, then yes, you might as well go it alone, but the point of having a co-founder is to have a diversity of opinions and perspectives. Sure, both founders should be passionate about their product, but they don't have to be a perfect match to make it work.
Chris Cameron, the author of the post, misses the point. Emotional match does not mean someone who thinks someone exactly like you. It means what he is arguing for. Someone who can keep you in check and can match you on an emotional level, which is very rare.

I think, if you can, go without a co-founder. If you clearly lack a skill, try to hire someone first and only get a co-founder if you're not successful there.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Moving to WordPress

WordPressImage via Wikipedia
I'm moving to WordPress.

I'm not moving because I'm unhappy with Blogger. Despite the badwrap Blogger gets sometimes, it worked for me.

It worked for me mainly because I'm always doing stuff with Google and it integrates nicely into the mirad of Google products -- and it's simple.

That said, when I have a client that needs a basic CMS, I always recommend WordPress. Additionally, I just bought a license for Thesis, which is totally amazing.

So, I'm eating my own dog food and working on a new blog.

I don't know if it will be at a new domain or what, but I'm building it locally and then will deploy it sometime in the near future.

I have to decide if I want to import all the posts from Blogger or just start from scratch.

Ideas?

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

If you hate it, change it [Student Branding Blog]

My weekly post is up over at the Student Branding Blog.

I talk about changing the way corporations operate.

Not an easy task. But it IS possible.

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Monday, April 26, 2010

@anywhere and Social Plugins -- Blah!

Within an hour of Twitter turning devs loose at Chirp, I had an @anywhere prototype page up, demonstrating everything that can be done with the new API on an ESPN page.

You can see it here.

Similarly, I had been playing around with the new Facebook APIs and hammered out an example of each Social Plugin really quickly.

See this for an example.

Here's what I think: Blah!

I thought the days of inflexible widgets was over, but now, we have this slew of APIs that make it easy to drop in functionality, but is it worth it?

I'd say no. At least not yet.

Let's keep in mind, these are new APIs and they are designed to be able to be used without a developer's intervention, but I'd argue they do more harm than good right now.

First, most are hatched in an iframe, meaning you can't style them and your site quickly begins to look like a Facebook or Twitter transplant.

Second, the functionality they offer is a bit weak right now. Nothing earth shattering or that hadn't been done before. Yes, Facebook, I know the Open Graph is new, but it's not really a product play, it's a marketing play.

That said, they have promise. They are drop dead easy to use. Here is what I would recommend

  • Allow each API to be exposed as JSON-P
  • Allow each to take a parameter that is the location of a stylesheet that can be used to style the contents of the iframe
  • Allow multiple domain or top-level domain insights. You can't pass espn.go.com and get info on sports.espn.go.com and vice versa.


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Saturday, April 24, 2010

SHOCKED: Top 10 Twitter Trends This Week

ESPN (UK)Image via Wikipedia
Just checked out Mashable's weekly Top 10 Twitter Trends and was kind of blown away to not see #NFLDraft up there.

Especially since ESPN was pushing it so much during the Draft.

Even "NBA" showed up higher. I mean, "Astrology"?

Does that say something about ESPN's social media pull or the lack of interest in the Draft? Both?

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Friday, April 23, 2010

"Geofencing" will be huge...And annoying

BlackBerry PearlImage by Santosh Dawara via Flickr
Read/Write/Web has an article on "Geofencing".

Having just left a startup that is a tad behind this technology, I found it interesting.

Here is the basic concept: You're walking around and you pass within 300 feet of a sports supply store and you get a text message or buzz from an app alerting you to deals at the store because you told someone, somewhere that you were sports.

The possibilities are huge.

For example, I'll only buy Clif's Builder Bars when they are on sale at Ralph's. But most of the time, I have to go into Ralph's just to see if they're on sale.

On the other hand, I ride my bike by Ralph's almost everyday. If I could get pinged on my way by, I'd definitely stop in.

Now, the annoying part.

The preferences have to be narrow enough to not be spam and broad enough that you actually get updates. That's hard.

The search has to be good enough to match your preferences. That's hard.

The alerts have to be helpful enough to not be spam. That's hard.

So, brace yourself, early adopters. There is a new kind of spam headed your way. But persevere and you could make your life better.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Let the hysteria begin! [Facebook]

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...Image via CrunchBase
I had a preview of Facebook's new changes over a month ago, and my first reaction was "Users are going to freak out."

What precipitated this post was reading, How to Delete Facebook Applications (and Why You Should), over at RRW.

Privacy is a big deal to some. And for those that it is, I would say don't use social media. Period.

Social media is great for a lot of things. Privacy is not one of them.

In fact, social media is partly about exposing your private life.

The more public information a company can expose the more popular it's going to be to the masses.

Privacy policies will continue to open up and expose more and more information.

For me, this isn't a big deal. I don't care if you know where I live or what time I eat or my friends' names or my height, weight, job, blah-de-blah-blah.

Anything I don't want you to know, like my social security number, I don't put online.

Keep that in mind. If you don't want one person to know it, don't put it on a social network even if you set it to "private."
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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Best Advice I Ever Received [Student Branding Blog]

My second contribution was published on the Student Branding Blog yesterday.

Check it out. The advice really helped me.

Also, please let me know what you think, either there, here, Twitter or anywhere.

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This is the worst news ever

YouTube, LLCImage via Wikipedia
Hitler "Downfall" Parodies have been Removed from YouTube.

I literally am crying. How am I going to get me through boring moments?

Why would the studio have these taken down?

I have to imagine that these parodies drove people to watch "Downfall."

I'm stunned, saddened and defeated.

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ESPN is awesome. And people like to complain about it.

My last assignment for my MBA was to present findings on our team Brand Audit of ESPN.

Embedded is the presentation I gave. Hopefully, I'll be able to include more detail from the full report in upcoming posts.




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Monday, April 19, 2010

Global Strategic Management Final Exam


Answer all three questions below and attach to this sheet

1. In Mature industries, firms often attempt to protect their competitive advantage. Examples of such an industry are: airlines, retail, coffee sales and fast food. Discuss what strategies firms in these industries use to deter entry and manage rivalry. Provide a detailed discussion of each strategy.

Naturally, when an industry enters maturity, barriers to entry increase.

Such barriers to entry include:
  • Intellectually property protection
  • Network effect
  • Economies of scale

Additionally, the threat of entry from potential competitors decrease because the financial opportunities aren't as prevalent as they are in growth industries.

Because there are fewer entrants, the existing firms begin to compete for market share, driving down prices, which can lead to price wars as evidenced from the airline industry.

To survive a price war, firms will begin focusing on minimizing costs, allowing them to become the price leader or building brand loyalty through differentiation so they can maintain price while not losing a large share of the market.

Strategies to build brand loyalty through differentiation include:
  • Excellent after-sales service
  • Marketing/Advertising
  • Customization
  • Response Time
  • Service/Product Innovation
  • Quality
  • Targeting market segments

Strategies that focus on minimizing costs include:
  • Direct to consumer selling
  • Lowering cost structures
  • Process Innovation
  • Targeting average customer
  • Increase inventory turnover and reduce cost of goods sold

These factors lead to higher barriers to entry and tend to create an oligopoly in the mature industry where companies try to avoid price wars and acknowledge that they are all interdependent. Combined with stable demand, this allows the firms in the oligopoly to enter into price-leadership agreements, reducing the threat of rivalry. 

2. Discuss how the need for control over foreign operations varies with the strategy and distinctive competencies of a company. What are the implications of this relationship for the choice of entry mode?

Pressures for cost reductions and pressures to be locally responsive are the two competitive pressures facing companies competing in the global marketplace. Unfortunately for these companies, these two forces put conflicting demands on a company.

In the world of cost leadership vs. differentiation, cost reduction in the global market falls under cost leadership while being locally responsive means differentiation by having a product or service that uniquely serves each of your markets best. Different nations have different preferences, tastes and culture. 

There are for main strategies companies can take for operating on a global market.

  1. Global Standardization: This strategy focuses on increasing profitability by reaping the cost reductions that come from economies of scale and location economies. These companies standardize their product or service in order to pursue a low-cost strategy on a global scale. Companies that face high pressure for cost reductions and low pressure for local responsiveness should pursue this strategy.
  2. Localization: Companies that pursue this strategy focus on differentiating their product or service to uniquely match the tastes and preferences in their different national markets. Companies that face low pressure for cost reductions and high pressure for local responsiveness should pursue this strategy.
  3. Transnational: This strategy looks to achieve the best of both Global Standardization and Localization simultaneously. That is both low costs and differentiation. Since these are competing goals, such a strategy is very difficult. Companies that face both high pressure for cost reductions and high pressure for local responsiveness should pursue this strategy.
  4. International: Global companies that don't face competition and sell a product that serves a universal need or needs don't need to differentiate their product to local tastes and preferences or cut costs. Companies that face both low pressure for cost reductions and low pressure for local responsiveness should pursue this strategy.

Additionally, there are five main choices for control over foreign operations.

  1. Exporting: Exporting avoids the costs of establishing manufacturing operations in host countries and should be pursued by companies that can produce the good cheaper domestically and ship it. Transport costs and tariff barriers hinder exporting.
  2. Licensing: This is when a foreign licensee buys the rights to product a company's product in the licensee's country for a negotiated feed and the licensee puts up most of the capital necessary to get the overseas operation underway.
  3. Franchising: Franchising shares many of the traits of licensing, but involves longer-term commitments and insists that the franchisee agree to abide by strict rules about how it does business.
  4. Joint Ventures: Joint ventures occur when a global company partners with a company that is established in the host country, allowing the global company to benefit from the local partner's knowledge of the host country's competitive conditions, culture, language, political systems and business systems.
  5. Wholly Owned Subsidiaries: This is when a parent company owns 100% of the stock of a company in a host country. This gives the global company tight control over production.

Generally speaking as we go from 1 to 5, we get more expensive, but also get more control. For example exporting is appropriate for companies facing the most pressure to reduce cost while wholly owned subsidiaries are appropriate for companies that need tight control over production and face pressure to be locally responsive.

The distinctive competencies of a company also affect what choice it should make. If a company's distinctive competency is based on proprietary technology, entering into a joint venture may risk losing control over that technology. 

Companies with distinctive competencies in technological know-how should avoid licensing and joint ventures, minimizing the risk of losing control of that technology. Companies of this type that are considering expanding into other countries should consider a wholly owned subsidiary in the host country to maintain control over this technology.

On the other hand, companies with distinctive competencies in management know-how don't face that great a risk of losing their management skills to franchisees or joint-venture partners and should pursue these arrangements for global strategy.

3. Explain in detail how the four building blocks of competitive advantage are related to each other. Provide detail on the relationships. Why is innovation often called the single most important building block?

As the text points out, there are four building blocks that a company can use to help build and sustain a competitive advantage. The book refers to these as "generic competencies," which allow a company to differentiate its product offering, and hence offer more utility to its customers and/or lower its cost structure. Thus these for building blocks worth together to form a company's competitive advantage. The are:

  • Efficiency: This is basically inputs over outputs. The more efficient a company is, the fewer inputs (cost) are required to produce a given output (product/service/etc).
  • Quality: This includes the form, features, performance, durability, reliability, style and design of a product or service. When consumers perceive that the attributes of a product or service provide them with higher utility than the attributes of a competitor's product or service, the product or service has superior quality. High-quality products provide more utility to customers and allow for greater efficiency and lower unit costs because of less time spent with customer service and returns. 
  • Innovation: This is the act of creating or improving new products or processes. There is product innovation, which is the development of new or improved products and process innovation, which is the development of a new or improved process for producing products and delivering them to customers. Product innovation creates more utility for costumers, thus increasing the product's value while process innovation allows for a company to sell the product at a lower price, raising the product's value to consumers.
  • Responsiveness: This is the process of identifying and satisfying customers. A company that does this better than competitors will create more utility for its products because its customers will be more satisfied with the overall experience of buying and using the company's product or service. The quality of a product is directly related to responsiveness because a high quality product does not require complicated support. Innovation, as well, is directly related to responsiveness because it is the process of using customer feedback to improve existing features or add missing features to a product or service.

The text calls innovation "perhaps the most important building block of competitive advantage" because competition is driven by these innovations. Successful innovations, at least for a time, give a company something unique, thus adding to or creating competitive advantage. The competitive advantage can lead to differentiation, allowing the company to charge a premium price, or to a reduction in cost, allowing the company to lower price to consumer.

Additionally, innovation touches directly on each of the other three building blocks. Process innovation can help a company produce its offering more efficiently or increase or add efficiencies to a company's product. Innovation can also directly affect the quality of a product by improving the performance, durability or reliability of a product or indirectly through process innovation, allowing the company to more cost-effectively add features to a product. Innovation, as well, is directly related to responsiveness because it is the process of using customer feedback to improve existing features or add missing features to a product or service. Finally, innovation affects innovation. Process innovation gives a company more resources to shift toward R&D. Also, product innovation, such as we see at Apple, necessitates more innovation to satisfy the next generation of product.

In the end, the four building blocks work together to form a company's distinctive competencies which then allow the company to pursue competitive advantage through either cost-leadership or differentiation.


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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ning Failures; a lesson in the obvious

Image representing Ning as depicted in CrunchBaseImage via CrunchBase
I'm driving back to Stuart, FL, following my MBA graduation, woot!, and was reading Mashable's post called Ning: Failures, Lessons and Six Alternatives.

Mashable points out how promising Ning seemed a year ago. I didn't buy it then, and I'm not surprised now.

Ning may find a niche in the enterprise for intranet-type social networks, but it was never going to work for the public web.

Why? Because it kills the one thing that would make it: The Network Effect.

By having so many social networks, none could grow enough to be self-sustaining.

Combine that with the fact that Facebook Pages provide people and businesses to create their own mini-social networks and put it in front of 400 million users, Ning didn't have a chance.

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Social Media Addiction

Just read an interesting post by Kristin Cormier on Social Media Addiction over at the Examiner.

Kristin contends "Online marketing and advertising using social media is effective" because social media is addictive.

She goes on to cite a Retreveo Gadetology study that offers some data to support the claim that social media is addictive.

But is that why it makes online marketing and advertising through it effective?

I have my doubts.

First, there have been some studies that show, for example, that Twitter users are more likely to click an ad, but I can't find definitive evidence that social media marketing is more effective than traditional marketing.

In terms of dollar cost, it certainly is cheaper. But what's lost in dollars can be consumed in the time it takes to run a social media campaign.

Secondly, people going through addictive measures are less likely to be responsive to advertising.

Addiction is ritualistic behavior and unless the ritual includes clicking an ad, I don't see it helping advertising.

That said, like subliminal messages, the addicted user will grow more accustomed to a brand.

Whether that leads to an actual purchase is up for debate.

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The Monk and The Riddle by Randy Komisar

The Monk and The Riddle by Randy Komisar is a "classic." It was assigned to my entrepreneurship class for my MBA program, and I'm glad it was.

You see, now I finally know where this Deferred Life Plan theory game from.

The story follows a first-time entrepreneur as he finds his way from the Deferred Life Plan of killing yourself now to get what you want later to the Right Now Plan of finding out what you want and finding a way to fit that into what you do for work.

The premise is the foundation for The 4-Hour Work Week, which is a life-changing book.

In fact, I see many of the tenants and lessons from this book in many books on entrepreneurship. This book is for technology entrepreneurs what the Prince is for aspiring political and corporate leaders: A must read.

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Getting started with Heroku and Spree: Part 5 - Setting up Heroku [GUIDE]

At Gunner Technology, we have found that if we give a little, we usually get more in return.

Here's what I mean. Most of our clients know nothing about the Internet other than some buzz words around it. Giving them specs, bids, wireframes, sample recommendations, etc isn't very powerful.

We've found that building a prototype and showing them examples of what we want to do is about five times more likely to end in a relationship than if we try to tell them what we want to do.

This means banging out a WordPress site on a shared host. Setting up a Twitter account and faking interaction, promotions and messages.

Right now, we're working on forming a relationship with a Mexican restaurant. They don't have a Web site, and we feel they could see a 30% increase in sales by taking orders online, registering their site with Yelp, Google and Bing and implementing a Twitter/Foursquare marketing campaign.

So, we're going to put together a demo site for them using Spree and we'll host it for free with Heroku.

We also have a new MacBook Pro we're going to set up from scratch to get this started, so we figured we'd take you through the whole process, step by step.

This is part 5: Setting up Heroku
  1. Sign up for a Heroku account
  2. Check your inbox for the confirmation email and follow the instructions
  3. You'll end up at a screen to complete your registration by creating a password
  4. Create a new git repository for your app:
    cd your-site-name
    git init && git add . && git commit -m "first commit"
  5. Open a terminal and run (with RVM, you do not use "sudo"): gem install heroku
  6. Generate RSA key by running this from terminal (just keep the two prompts blank by hitting "enter"): ssh-keygen
  7. Generate DSA key by running this from terminal (just keep the two prompts blank by hitting "enter"): ssh-keygen -t dsa
  8. Create your heroku app. We provide the stack flag because spree requires Ruby 1.8.7 or higher and Heroku's default stack runs 1.8.6: heroku create your-site-name --stack bamboo-ree-1.8.7
  9. Enable SSL, since Spree uses SSL for administration and payment flow in its standard setup (You'll have to provide account verification for your Heroku account first, but don't worrry this is free as in beer:
    heroku addons:add "Piggyback SSL"
  10. Copy your local database structure to Heroku's Postreges database:
    heroku db:push
  11. Deploy your code: git push heroku master
  12. Configure your app for S3:
    heroku console
    >> Spree::Heroku::Config.set(:bucket => 'bucket name')
    >> Spree::Heroku::Config.set(:access_key_id => 'access key')
    >> Spree::Heroku::Config.set(:secret_access_key => 'secret access key')
    >> exit
    heroku restart

  13. Go to the url for your app: http://your-site-name.heroku.com

Woot! Your e-commerce site is now live! We'll configure it next time!

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Getting started with Heroku and Spree: Part 4 - Setting up Amazon Web Services [GUIDE]

At Gunner Technology, we have found that if we give a little, we usually get more in return.

Here's what I mean. Most of our clients know nothing about the Internet other than some buzz words around it. Giving them specs, bids, wireframes, sample recommendations, etc isn't very powerful.

We've found that building a prototype and showing them examples of what we want to do is about five times more likely to end in a relationship than if we try to tell them what we want to do.

This means banging out a WordPress site on a shared host. Setting up a Twitter account and faking interaction, promotions and messages.

Right now, we're working on forming a relationship with a Mexican restaurant. They don't have a Web site, and we feel they could see a 30% increase in sales by taking orders online, registering their site with Yelp, Google and Bing and implementing a Twitter/Foursquare marketing campaign.

So, we're going to put together a demo site for them using Spree and we'll host it for free with Heroku.

We also have a new MacBook Pro we're going to set up from scratch to get this started, so we figured we'd take you through the whole process, step by step.

This is part 5: Setting up Amazon Web Services.

Right now, all we need is an S3 account, so we'll just focus on getting that working.

  1. Create an Amazon AWS Account
  2. Once you've gone through the verification processes, go to your Security Credentials and copy the Access Key ID and Secret Access Key
  3. Download S3 Browser for Mac
  4. Open S3 Browser and select Connection > New Connection...
  5. Paste your Access Key ID and Secret Access Key into the appropriate boxes and click "connect"
  6. Click the add Icon in the upper lefthand corner of the connection window.
  7. Enter your-site-name as the bucket name and click "OK"

That's it! You now have your S3 account set up so you can use it with Spree and Heroku.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Golden Rule of Social Media Consulting

I'm really busy at Chirp today, but I cam across The Golden Rule of Social Media Consulting from Opinion @ Large and had to share it because it is the best post I've seen on being a Social Media consultant.
Deliver dollars or equity, and you can expect to receive the same.
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Getting started with Heroku and Spree: Part 3 - Installing Spree [GUIDE]

At Gunner Technology, we have found that if we give a little, we usually get more in return.

Here's what I mean. Most of our clients know nothing about the Internet other than some buzz words around it. Giving them specs, bids, wireframes, sample recommendations, etc isn't very powerful.

We've found that building a prototype and showing them examples of what we want to do is about five times more likely to end in a relationship than if we try to tell them what we want to do.

This means banging out a WordPress site on a shared host. Setting up a Twitter account and faking interaction, promotions and messages.

Right now, we're working on forming a relationship with a Mexican restaurant. They don't have a Web site, and we feel they could see a 30% increase in sales by taking orders online, registering their site with Yelp, Google and Bing and implementing a Twitter/Foursquare marketing campaign.

So, we're going to put together a demo site for them using Spree and we'll host it for free with Heroku.

We also have a new MacBook Pro we're going to set up from scratch to get this started, so we figured we'd take you through the whole process, step by step.

This is part 3: Installing and configuring Spree
  1. Install Spree (with RVM, you should not use "sudo":
    gem install spree
  2. Create the rails app:
    spree your-site-name
  3. Install extension to make spree work with Heroku:

    cd your-site-name
    script/extension install git://github.com/RSpace/spree-heroku.git

  4. Copy the .gems manifest to the root of your application (this is to work with the Heroku stack we're going to set up later):
    cp vendor/extensions/heroku/.gems ./
  5. Add this gem to the .gems file:
    aws-s3 --version '0.6.2'
  6. Install any other needed gems:
    rake gems:install
  7. Setup your SQLite3 database:
    rake db:bootstrap
  8. Start your server:
    script/server
  9. Check out your site: http://localhost:3000

That's it!

We're getting closer to having an e-commerce site on a production-grade stack. But before we get to Heroku, we have to create an Amazon Web Services account and set that up. That's next time!


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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Getting started with Heroku and Spree: Part 2 - Configuring Ruby [GUIDE]

At Gunner Technology, we have found that if we give a little, we usually get more in return.

Here's what I mean. Most of our clients know nothing about the Internet other than some buzz words around it. Giving them specs, bids, wireframes, sample recommendations, etc isn't very powerful.

We've found that building a prototype and showing them examples of what we want to do is about five times more likely to end in a relationship than if we try to tell them what we want to do.

This means banging out a WordPress site on a shared host. Setting up a Twitter account and faking interaction, promotions and messages.

Right now, we're working on forming a relationship with a Mexican restaurant. They don't have a Web site, and we feel they could see a 30% increase in sales by taking orders online, registering their site with Yelp, Google and Bing and implementing a Twitter/Foursquare marketing campaign.

So, we're going to put together a demo site for them using Spree and we'll host it for free with Heroku.

We also have a new MacBook Pro we're going to set up from scratch to get this started, so we figured we'd take you through the whole process, step by step.

This is part 2: Configuring Ruby

Since we do a lot of development and testing, we're going to start with Ruby Version Manager or RVM, which will let us easily switch between Ruby and Gem versions.
  1. The best and easiest way to install RVM is with Git. Install it using this link.
  2. Once you have get installed, open a Terminal window and paste this command:
    mkdir -p ~/.rvm/src/ && cd ~/.rvm/src && rm -rf ./rvm/ && git clone --depth 1 git://github.com/wayneeseguin/rvm.git && cd rvm && ./install
  3. During the installation process you'll be asked to modify your .bash_src and .bashprofile. Do so
  4. After that, install Ruby 1.9.1 with this command in terminal: rvm install 1.9.1
  5. Install Ruby Enterprise Edition with this terminal command: rvm install ree-1.8.7
  6. Set enterprise edition as the default as this will match the Heroku environment we'll be running spree in: rvm use ree-1.8.7 && rvm --default ree-1.8.7
  7. Install Rails: gem install rails --no-ri --no-rdoc
  8. Install SQLLite3: gem install sqlite3-ruby --no-ri --no-rdoc
  9. Install AWS-S3 gem: gem install aws-s3 --no-ri --no-rdoc
  10. Install Mongrel gem: gem install mongrel --no-ri --no-rdoc
And that's it! Next time, in part 3, you'll create your spree application.


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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

History Channel Gets a Badge! (never mind the cost)

History (TV channel)Image via Wikipedia
Just saw over at Mashable that the History Channel is Launching a Foursquare Campaign and a New Badge.

That's pretty cool. I mean, the History Channel, along with Family Guy, Breaking Bad and The Office is one of the few things on television worth watching.

But... I think the price tag could be steep. As in $10,000 a month steep.

Is having a badge really worth that? Even if you attract every Foursquare user (probably about a million of them), does that equal positive ROI? I don't know.

But more realistically, History Channel can probably expect about 2-5 percent of Foursquare's user base to be exposed to this.

Yes, yes. I know dollars aren't the only thing that matter in the Social Media realm.

But is this really worth it?

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Message Board Admins are dead. Long live Community Managers

PACIFIC OCEAN (May 28, 2008) University of Ill...Image via Wikipedia
Got to admit, I got a good chuckle from reading 10 Fresh Tips for Community Managers over at Mashable.

Back when I used to work for the Gainesville Sun, running GatorSports.com, one of my main responsibilities was to administer the old, old, old phpBB message boards.

My best story was when I developed an application called the Zook-O-Meter.

It was a terribly designed Flash app that was nothing more than a simple poll aside from the fact that it was laid out with then-head Florida Gators football coach Ron Zook's face as the background to what looked like ship dials.

The community voted for an option once a week, ranging from Fire His Ass to Steve, who?

Usually, the dial hung around Fire His Ass, and the message board folks got so pissed off.

They claimed I was trying to sabotage the Gators and turn recruits away by making it look like Gators fans were not loyal.

Yet, they just keep voting to Fire His Ass, which happened a year later.

The post from Jolie O'Dell reminds my how much the Internet changes and how much it remains the same.

The tips she lays out are as good today as they were seven years ago. SEVEN?!

But now, the conversations a "Community Manager" manages extend well beyond in-house message boards.

Plus you get a fancier title now.

Give me a shout out if you're an old school message board admin. Love to hear your best stories.
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Headed to Chrip

Panorama of San Francisco with Alcatraz Island...Image via Wikipedia
I'm off to San Francisco.

My flight leaves LAX at 11:30 and I get in an hour later.

It's my first time to San Francisco, and I'm pretty geeked to be going.

I hope to post a lot of updates from chirp to my Twitter account and maybe UStream, too. We'll see.

Anyway, it has me leaving LA for almost a month! I get back into town May 3.

Over that time, I will have been to Chrip, graduated with my MBA, met with clients and taken a workacation.

Good stuff.

What should I definitely not miss in San Francisco?

Chirp: The Official Twitter Developer Conference

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Getting started with Heroku and Spree: Part 1 - Installing Snow Leopard [GUIDE]

At Gunner Technology, we have found that if we give a little, we usually get more in return.

Here's what I mean. Most of our clients know nothing about the Internet other than some buzz words around it. Giving them specs, bids, wireframes, sample recommendations, etc isn't very powerful.

We've found that building a prototype and showing them examples of what we want to do is about five times more likely to end in a relationship than if we try to tell them what we want to do.

This means banging out a WordPress site on a shared host. Setting up a Twitter account and faking interaction, promotions and messages.

Right now, we're working on forming a relationship with a Mexican restaurant. They don't have a Web site, and we feel they could see a 30% increase in sales by taking orders online, registering their site with Yelp, Google and Bing and implementing a Twitter/Foursquare marketing campaign.

So, we're going to put together a demo site for them using Spree and we'll host it for free with Heroku.

We also have a new MacBook Pro we're going to set up from scratch to get this started, so we figured we'd take you through the whole process, step by step.

This is part 1: Installing Snow Leopard
  1. Insert Install Disk
  2. Restart your machine
  3. Immediately when your machine starts up, push the "option" key
  4. This should bring up all bootable options. Pick the DVD
  5. Pick English and your language and click "Next"
  6. Click "Next" again
  7. Click "Agree"
  8. Choose "Disk Utilities" from the "Utilities" drop down menu.
  9. This will open a menu of your available drives. Select your main hard drive and click the "Erase" tab
  10. Make sure "Mac OS Extended (Journaled)" is selected in the format drop down.
  11. Put a name in the name box. I used "gunner-technology-1".
  12. Click erase. This will remove everything from your computer.
  13. After it's finished, close the disc utility window
  14. The DVD will find all available drives on which the operating system can be installed. Pick which one you want and click install
  15. Go get some coffee this is going to take about 30 minutes.
  16. When this is done, select your country and click "Continue"
  17. Select your Keyboard and click "Continue"
  18. I don't want to transfer anything so I chose "Do not transfer my information now" and clicked "Continue"
  19. If you have a wireless network, choose it, it not, click "Different Network Setup"
  20. If you have an Apple ID, enter your credentials. Click Continue either way.
  21. Fill out your registration information and click "Continue"
  22. Answer a few more questions and click "Continue"
  23. Fill out your credentials for your local account and click "Continue"
  24. Once you're up and running, you're going to have to install Xcode either from the install disc or download it for free.
  25. Also, download MacPorts
  26. Run the following commands in terminal:
  27. sudo port install readline-5 && sudo port install openssl && sudo port install zlib && sudo port install ImageMagick
That's it you're now running Snow Leopard.

Next time, we'll set up Ruby.

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Monday, April 12, 2010

I'm moonlighting...

Starting today, I'll be writing as a contributor for the Student Branding Blog.

My posts will appear every Monday, and I'll be writing about how to work in a corporate environment.

My inaugural post covers how I got my first job out of college and how I got my current job.

I'm really excited about the opportunity to write and work with Dan Schawbel, the founder of the Student Branding Blog, a leading personal branding expert for Gen-Y, the best-selling author of Me 2.0 and the publisher of both the award winning Personal Branding Blog and Personal Branding Magazine.

I've been a fan of his for a while and there is a lot I and anyone else can learn from him on personal branding and more.

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Key Business Metrics [A VC]

Damn Fred Wilson and his intelligent posts.

This time he writes about Key Business Metrics and how important they are.

Early on when the company is developing its first product or service, those metrics might be related to product development like development resources, features completed, known bugs, etc. Once the product or service is launched, the metrics might shift to include customers, daily active users, churn, conversions from free trial to paid customer, etc.

These metrics are critical. Not necessarily THESE metrics, but a business must have clear metrics or key performance indicators and how to measure these.

I was shocked to find out how often these are missing, and it's so frustrating not knowing what you're judged by.

I've dealt with this at ESPN and I've dealt with it with clients.

With ESPN, KPIs aren't shared widely enough.

And clients know they want more Twitter followers and Facebook fans, but they don't know why.

As Fred points out, there are many different metrics to pick from. I'll let you check out his post for the full list.

But I'd add one to the customer service metric: Quality. And you can measure this by analyzing the number of returns, complaints or negative feedback your product or service receives.

Union Square Ventures is Hiring

Union Square Ventures is hiring and both positions sound like a hell of a lot of fun. Challenging, rewarding and a chance to work with a great team.

The two positions are Investment Analyst and General Manager of the Union Square Ventures Network.

I'll let you venture over there to check them out, but the Analyst position speaks to the Geek in me. I'm a technologist and Web developer and I love plotting strategy and looking at hard numbers. Competitive analysis, market research, positioning, signaling. I love it all.

The General Manager position intrigues me because of the Social Media angle and forming relationships with people. I love recruiting new hires, too.

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How Journalists are Using Social Media for Real Results

As a former journalist, Mashable's post this morning titled, How Journalists are Using Social Media for Real Results, caught my attention.

Mashable's Brenna Ehrlich wrote a novel on the subject, and you should check it out.

Reader's Digest:
  • Finding Leads, Noticing Trends
  • Finding Sources
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Giving the Voiceless a Voice
  • Sharing/Vetting Stories
  • Creating Communities/Branding
I'd add a big one to the list: Accountability.

With the growth of Social Media, I don't see how a Jayson Blair situation could happen again. Social Media is the ultimate BS detecter because someone was there. And if you say you were there and you weren't, the world will find out.

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Statistics Assignment #3 [MBA]

1. Which of the three X variables is most important predictor in the model? Why did you choose this variable over the other two?

According to the multiple regression analysis
Predictor p-value
Circulation: 0.000
Income: 0.273
Male: 0.887

A p-value more than 0.05 indicates something is not significant. A p-value less than 0.05 means the result is significant. If the p-value is less than 0.01 the result is very significant. Applying that logic to the above, circulation is the only significant variable, so it must be the most important predictor in the model.

2. According to the output, what would be the eventual effect of a 1000 person increase in circulation? Give an interval estimate if possible.

The regression coefficient for circulation is 5.282. This indicates that a magazine with an extra 1,000 readers will charge an extra $5.28 (on average) for a one-page, full-color advertisement -- all else being equal.

If another magazine had the same median income and the same percent male readership but had 3,500 more people in its circulation, the ad cost would be expected to be 5.28 x 3.500 = 18.48 higher on average due to the increased circulation.

3. What cost does the model predict for an ad in the magazine Statistics and Other Torture Devices, which has a circulation of 1 million and has an audience that is 58 percent male with a median income of $32,000 per year? Give an interval estimate if possible. Note: setting up these calculations is sufficient.

COST = -8642.535 + 1.223 (INCOME) + 5.282(CIRCULATION) – 10.997 (MALE)
COST = -8642.535 + 1.223 (32000) + 5.282(1000) -10.997(.58)
COST = 35769.09
Interval estimate: 35769.09 plus or minus 13129.253

4. Regardless of your answer in part 3, suppose the calculation yields an estimated cost of $34,132. You find out that the actual cost of an ad in Statistics and Other Torture Devices is $49,000. This does not look like a particularly accurate prediction. Do you agree? Cite some specific numerical evidence in your answer.

The prediction equation has a standard error of estimate of 13129.253. This means that if the calculation yielded an estimated cost of 34132 at least two-thirds would fall below 47261.253.

That is 1700 less than the actual cost for an ad in Statistics and Other Torture Devices. But 95% of time, the cost will fall within 2 standard deviations and this estimation falls within that range. With that in mind, I agree that this does not look like a particularly accurate prediction.

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Overture Founder Launches Tweetup, “Adsense For Twitter”

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase
I just read that Overture Founder Launches Tweetup, “Adsense For Twitter” over at TechCrunch. And it struck me as brilliant.

Here's basically what happens. Advertisers pay for their Twitter accounts' Tweets on sites that add the widget.

Think of it this way. Instead of adding AdSense to your blog, you add this new service. What you'll get, instead of traditional ads, are Tweets from advertiser accounts that match the content you are blogging about.

Well done, idealab.