buildcontext blog2017-01-16T18:57:41Zhttp://buildcontext.comThe Space Between Strategy and ExecutionBen Hedrington2015-08-17T12:00:00Z2015-08-17T12:00:00Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2015/space-between-strategy-execution <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" src="/media/img/space_200.png" /></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p>I ran into this today, deep into an internet rabbit hole. <em>Something clicked with&nbsp;me.</em></p> <blockquote> <p>The space between strategy and execution is typically&nbsp;unmanaged.</p> </blockquote> <p>I spend time creating and articulating strategies. I spend time executing and building. But the thing I'm constantly doing is <em>taking a strategy, assessing our standing and driving a next step — an iteration</em>.</p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <!-- ![The Space Between Strategy and Execution - Hedrington](/media/img/space_600.png) --> <h2>Strategy and Execution&nbsp;Matter</h2> <p>A strategy defines what you won't do by telling a story of what you will. You can buy a strategy, many people do. Many of the same people stand frozen when that shiny deck is in their hands. They now have "the answer" all they can think is to toss it over the wall to someone else and say "build it." The loss of context in that transaction is&nbsp;immense.</p> <p>In the same vein building and executing is an art form. The right tools, the right process. Top notch talent, efficient operations and flawless quality. Gets us nowhere without "the what" and "which&nbsp;first".</p> <h2>Hone the Skills&nbsp;In-between</h2> <p>A strong strategy is important, what you'll learn while creating it is the real value. The context you'll build will get you where you really need to&nbsp;go. </p> <p>Hone the ability to decompose that strategy, step off the cliff and build a part of it. Hone the honesty to reevaluate then persevere or pivot from that position. Hone the stamina to do that over an over again. That will be the real&nbsp;work.</p> <p><em>The space between that shiny deck and the first&nbsp;step.</em></p> <p><em>The space between "<strong>they</strong> said to build it" and "<strong>we</strong> see this&nbsp;working."</em></p> <p>The skills needed in the space between are the least understood. More often than not they will be the decisions that matter most. <br />-Ben</p> A Reminder of Principles to Work By - Creating Directions Card Version OneBen Hedrington2015-08-05T12:00:00Z2015-08-05T12:00:00Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2015/directions-card-hedrington-v1 <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" src="/media/img/direction-v1_200.png" /></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p>Every once in a while I need to pick my head up and take a pause, survey the landscape and make the next move. <em>In these moments finding ways of keeping myself on the right path and in the right frame of mind is&nbsp;essential.</em></p> <p>I've always been a <a href="http://buildcontext.com/quotes/">quote collector</a>. I wanted to take a bit of that accumulated thinking and create a set of working principles that had meaning to&nbsp;me. </p> <p>Version one of my <em>directions card</em> was&nbsp;born.</p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <p><img alt="directions card v1 - Hedrington" src="/media/img/direction-v1_600.png" /></p> <p>I wanted to spend a little time sharing what these statements mean to&nbsp;me.</p> <h2>start at <strong>curious</strong>, beginner's&nbsp;mind</h2> <p><em>One part more questions than answers, one part zen. This takes me back to a time I walked into most situations thinking I already knew the right answer. Everything has a why, and the why buried "five whys" deep might surprise you. It's a reminder there is no need to walk in and play the "expert." An open mind knowing enough to ask the right questions will say it&nbsp;all.</em></p> <h2><strong>build</strong> momentum, compounding&nbsp;energy</h2> <p><em>Momentum always wins even if it's not moving in the "perfect" direction. Crashing something that has momentum into another only creates more energy. You can correct the direction as you&nbsp;roll.</em></p> <h2>reach out, beyond the <strong>edge</strong> of what you've been told is&nbsp;possible</h2> <p><em>Don't be limited by a job title, an org chart, your age, a town or some other "fact." Ignore the artificial boundary of "experts" and "industry leaders." I learned by example from a close mentor you can walk up to anyone or into anything if you are honestly interested, humble and open. Show your energy and passion and you'll blow right&nbsp;through.</em></p> <h2><strong>follow-up</strong>, don't follow; ignore the&nbsp;inessential</h2> <p><em>Don't blindly follow someone else's checklist but always show up, take action and follow-up on what matters. If you do that you'll already be ahead of&nbsp;most.</em></p> <h2>speak <strong>less</strong></h2> <p><em>A simple reminder that there is more to be gained from listening than droning on about what you already&nbsp;know.</em></p> <h2><strong>risk</strong>&nbsp;failure</h2> <p><em>Bias toward high optionality, and taking a first step. Win or lose taking a path that has no chance for failure has little chance of creating learning or&nbsp;growth.</em></p> <h2>strong <strong>opinions</strong>, weakly&nbsp;held</h2> <p><em>Take a position and have a clear point of view. Be ready to adapt when new information comes your&nbsp;way.</em></p> <h2>growth is a result not a <strong>strategy</strong></h2> <p><em>Strategy defines what you won't do inside a story of what you will. Only the fit and execution deliver&nbsp;growth.</em></p> <h2>Quote from Steve&nbsp;Jobs</h2> <p>Last but far from least is the quote by Steve&nbsp;Jobs.</p> <blockquote> <p><span class="dquo">"</span>...everything around you that you call life was made up by people no smarter than you. And <strong>you can change it, you can influence it</strong>... Once you learn that you'll never be the same again." - Steve&nbsp;Jobs</p> </blockquote> <p><em>This is an essential thought for me. Walls erected around you, things you must do, areas you shouldn't go... these were all put in place by someone's best guess at the&nbsp;time.</em></p> <p><em>Go where you need to go, change what you need to&nbsp;change.</em></p> <p><em>Always be ready to iterate and change course but don't slow down for that wall ahead, it may just be in your&nbsp;head.</em></p> <p>-Ben</p> Chart your career 'Press Release First' for the New YearBen Hedrington2015-01-02T12:00:00Z2015-01-02T12:00:00Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2015/career-resume-press-release-first-product-development <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" src="/media/img/noun_14383.png" /></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p>I was reading <a href="http://chrisbaglieri.com">Chris Baglieri</a>'s post <a href="http://www.chrisbaglieri.com/blog/2015/1/1/my-resume-is-fiction">"My Resume is Fiction"</a> he has a simple way of explaining his method of planing where he is going each&nbsp;year. </p> <p>Combining a little bit of the <em>'write the press release first'</em> product management approach and analyzing the intersections of where you and your current company are going is a great way to start a new year and shape your career longer&nbsp;term.</p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <p>Chris&nbsp;says...</p> <blockquote> <p>At the start of every year, I do this thing where I update my resume with falsehoods. I lie, intentionally and boldly: proficient in X; launched Y; led a team and successfully Z'd. I mold it to&nbsp;perfection.</p> <p>The spacing, superb. The type, crisp. The language, terse. The experience, impressive. I craft it as perfect as an antiquated and dead document can be crafted. And in its perfect state, wrought with lies, I think about what steps I can take in the coming year to make it less fiction and more&nbsp;non-fiction.</p> </blockquote> <p>A perfect take on the the <em>"write the press release first"</em> method of product management, often credited to Amazon, but focused towards building a career versus a product. The method is essentially a working backwards approach that ensures what you are building can be easily described and matters to your end consumer. It helps make sure you have a north star to focus on during the product building phase guiding you towards the work that is the most&nbsp;valuable.</p> <p>Ian McAllister, a product leader at Amazon, shared <a href="https://www.quora.com/What-is-Amazons-approach-to-product-development-and-product-management">this on Quora</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>For new initiatives a product manager typically starts by writing an internal press release announcing the finished&nbsp;product. </p> <p>Internal press releases are centered around the customer problem, how current solutions (internal or external) fail, and how the new product will blow away existing&nbsp;solutions.</p> <p>If the benefits listed don't sound very interesting or exciting to customers, then perhaps they're not (and shouldn't be built). Instead, the product manager should keep iterating on the press release until they've come up with benefits that actually sound like benefits. Iterating on a press release is a lot less expensive than iterating on the product itself (and&nbsp;quicker!).</p> </blockquote> <p>This isn't just for those brushing up on their skills to go hit the job market soon. Like any good strategy it's best to focus on the long play here as&nbsp;well. </p> <p><a href="http://garrickvanburen.com">Garrick vanBuren</a> recently shared a sketch as part of his <a href="https://expand.garrickvanburen.com/">"Expand" series</a>, made up of daily messages to inspire you to make improvements in your professional and personal life, that really hits this point&nbsp;well.</p> <blockquote> <p><img alt="Garrick vanBuren - The work you should be doing." src="https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B2Z3eX1IMAED1bH.png" /></p> <p><span class="dquo">"</span>Align where you want to be in 3 years w/ where your business needs to be in 3 years." - Garrick vanBuren <em>via</em> <a href="https://twitter.com/garrickvanburen/status/533244970535501826"><em>twitter</em></a></p> </blockquote> <p>Take the time early in this new year and spin the tale of who you are in your career and how you got there. Then go make it&nbsp;happen.</p> <p>-Ben</p> Four Collaborative Working Modes: User Research & DiscoveryBen Hedrington2014-12-16T12:00:00Z2014-12-16T12:00:00Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2014/four-collaborative-modes-digital-strategy-consumer-reality-hedrington-research-discovery <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" src="/media/img/4modes/mode1.png" /><a class="attr" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/katiett/5457532474/">Kate Bunker</a></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p><em>This post is part of the series <a href="/blog/2014/four-collaborative-modes-digital-strategy-consumer-reality-hedrington-research-discovery-workshopping-guide-shape-execute">Four Collaborative Working Modes Take Digital Strategies to Consumer Reality</a>.</em></p> <h2>Mode #1: User Research and&nbsp;Discovery</h2> <p>User research and discovery is not a task, deliverable or team, it is a series of important experiences that will drive your work long&nbsp;term.</p> <p><a href="/media/img/4modes/4-digital-modes-hedrington-research_1000.png" target="_blank"><img alt="Four Collaborative Working Modes Take Digital Strategies to Consumer Reality - User Research and Discovery - Hedrington" src="/media/img/4modes/4-digital-modes-hedrington-research_600.png" title="Four Collaborative Working Modes Take Digital Strategies to Consumer Reality - User Research and Discovery - Hedrington" /></a></p> <p>Even the greatest user research document can only be read and experienced as a story in contrast problems you've seen and heard resound vividly in your mind and fuels the engine to find a solution. Information directly discovered from users by <em>all individuals</em> who will touch the experience will keep what really matters in focus throughout the&nbsp;work. </p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <h2>Listen and&nbsp;learn</h2> <p>In <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0989200507/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0989200507&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=topoftheweb-20&amp;linkId=PHGGZX3LGNJNHEXF" title="The Four Steps to the Epiphany">The Four Steps to the Epiphany</a> Steve Blank keeps it simple in his proposal for Customer&nbsp;Discovery.</p> <blockquote> <p>The goal of Customer Discovery is just what the name implies: finding out who the customers for your product are and whether the problem you believe you are solving is important to&nbsp;them. </p> <p>To do this, you need to leave guesswork behind and get “outside the building” in order to learn what the high-value customer problems are, what it is about your product that solves these problems, and who specifically are your customer and user (for example, who has the power to make or influence the buying decision and who actually will end up using the product on a daily&nbsp;basis.) </p> </blockquote> <p>You'll see in this approach that there is nothing to weigh you down or suggest who is allowed to do it or how exactly this need be done, no certification, no approvals needed. It is simply about listening and observing, something <em>everyone</em> on the team can&nbsp;do. </p> <p>Another simple tool to add to customer discovery that makes the output even better is <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmrAkHafwHI">The 5 Whys</a>. The 5 Whys serves as a reminder that the first answer is not <em>the answer</em> that there is often a motivation, an emotion or a root cause behind&nbsp;it. </p> <p>As <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmrAkHafwHI">Eris Ries</a>, a big proponent of 5 Whys and <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004J4XGN6/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B004J4XGN6&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=topoftheweb-20&amp;linkId=R5DZO6X3ISVBPN7F">'The Lean Startup'</a> author,&nbsp;says</p> <blockquote> <p><span class="dquo">"</span>behind every seemingly technical problem is actually a human problem waiting to be&nbsp;found." </p> </blockquote> <p>Here is an interesting example from&nbsp;isixsigma.com.</p> <blockquote> <p>Why did your car stop? <em>Because it ran out of&nbsp;gas.</em></p> <p>Why did it run out of gas? <em>Because I didn’t buy any gas on my way to&nbsp;work.</em></p> <p>Why didn’t you buy any gas this morning? <em>Because I didn’t have any&nbsp;money.</em></p> <p>Why didn’t you have any money? <em>Because I lost it all last night in a poker&nbsp;game.</em></p> <p>Why did you lose your money in last night’s poker game? <em>Because I’m not very good at “bluffing” when I don’t have a good&nbsp;hand.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>Use the 5 Whys to go down the rabbit hole. If you stopped after the first question it is clear the person just needs gas, problem solved, but after you are one or two whys deeper the complexion of the solution changes dramatically. It's as simple as asking "why?" it doesn't even need to be five times. Anyone can do this, and you'll be amazed how much more you&nbsp;learn.</p> <h3><span class="dquo">"</span>Listen and Learn"&nbsp;Assignment</h3> <p>Give <em>everyone</em> on the team the assignment to gather our raw materials, to get out of the office to a different place across town, find two or three potential users and bring back evidence on <em>why that person is a potential user</em> and a catalog of that user's <em>high-value problems</em>. Emphasizing use of the 5 Whys when capturing the problems will only make the outputs of the exercise&nbsp;richer. </p> <p>Fanning out the research in number, location and in background of your researchers will by it's nature bring new information to the table that would have been left unseen. It is important to be aware of bias here, someone with a visual design background may see a missing beautiful interface, a developer may see a new technology needing to be installed, sometimes if you have a hammer everything looks like a nail but we can be careful to account for that when we&nbsp;review. </p> <p>Our next step is bringing back the information into an informal white boarding session and keeping the discussion of your findings in the terms of <em>problems not solutions</em>, the more detail from the "whys?" the better. Coming out of this session you will have a strong depiction of who your user might be and the problems they have at the cross-over of your researcher's stories. Capture this information any way you can, quotes, stories, sketches, mind maps, venn diagrams, whatever works for you. Document this digitally and share across the team as you'll come back to this goldmine of information&nbsp;often.</p> <h2>Hypothesize and&nbsp;test</h2> <p>Now is an important time bring the team together on a handful early hypotheses for solutions and leverage our user researcher to ensure they are testable. If your team is struggling to create hypotheses bring them back to junior high science and remind them to follow "If... then... because..." and you will be many steps closer to a testable hypothesis. Researchers are well trained to create questions against hypotheses that decipher <em>what people say they'll do</em> from <em>what they'll do</em> or in their terms attitudinal contrasted against&nbsp;behavioral. </p> <p>A few well constructed but brief participatory design sessions, field studies or crude prototypes can make a lot of sense here in response to the teams findings and hypotheses giving strong jumping off points for the next phases of the work. <a href="http://www.nngroup.com/articles/which-ux-research-methods/" title="When to Use Which User-Experience Research Methods">Christian Rohrer</a> in his article <a href="http://www.nngroup.com/articles/which-ux-research-methods/" title="When to Use Which User-Experience Research Methods">"When to Use Which User-Experience Research Methods"</a> describes methods to testing the context of product use even in this early&nbsp;stage.</p> <blockquote> <p>For example, participatory-design methods allows users to interact with and rearrange design elements that could be part of a product experience, in order to discuss how their proposed solutions would better meet their needs and why they made certain choices. Concept-testing methods employ a rough approximation of a product or service that gets at the heart of what it would provide (and not at the details of the experience) in order to understand if users would want or need such a product or&nbsp;service.</p> </blockquote> <p>With your user researcher now in the lead keep the rest of the team involved here as arms and legs, building paper prototypes, executing a field study guide or even just taking notes helps keep the work moving and the information top of mind for&nbsp;everyone.</p> <h2>Ongoing testing and&nbsp;optimization</h2> <p>Ongoing testing for the full product life cycle is a critical enabler of success. It extends from the information gathered here and returns to the methods of this mode. We'll discuss this in more detail in future&nbsp;posts.</p> <p>-Ben</p> Four Collaborative Working Modes Take Digital Strategies to Consumer RealityBen Hedrington2014-11-29T12:00:00Z2014-11-29T12:00:00Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2014/four-collaborative-modes-digital-strategy-consumer-reality-hedrington-research-discovery-workshopping-guide-shape-execute <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" src="/media/img/stop-collaborate.jpg" /><a class="attr" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/katiett/5457532474/">Kate Bunker</a></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <h2>It's not about your&nbsp;craft</h2> <p>Digital strategists, user researchers, product managers, business owners, experience designers and developers certainly have diverse skills and approaches to solving problems, many preferring to be left alone to apply their craft then toss it over the wall to the next. If you are trying to create consumer focused experiences that deliver high business value <em>this simply doesn't work</em>. </p> <h2>All in, for a better consumer&nbsp;outcome</h2> <p><a href="/media/img/4-digital-modes-hedrington_1000.png" target="_blank"><img alt="Four Modes Take Digital Strategies to Consumer Reality - Hedrington" src="/media/img/4-digital-modes-hedrington_600.png" title="Four cross-role, coloborative working modes take digital strategies to consumer reality - Ben Hedrington" /></a></p> <p>To create leading edge digital experiences we need to forget about the dividing lines and hand-offs between our roles and instead focus on how we collaborate and bring our skills to bear outside of our own comfortable "phase" and across the entire digital product life cycle. We need to refocus on how we work together. Defining critical skills and input each role must bring to the table across <em>all four critical modes</em> will help us better focus on consumer needs, fuel us with breakthrough thinking and the build the collective resolve to get through the trials of execution landing on that right customer informed experience in the&nbsp;end.</p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <h2>Four&nbsp;Modes</h2> <p><a href="http://stage.buildcontext.com/blog/2014/four-collaborative-modes-digital-strategy-consumer-reality-hedrington-research-discovery" title="Four Collaborative Working Modes: User Research &amp; Discovery"><em>#1</em> <strong>User Research <span class="amp">&amp;</span> Discovery</strong></a> - Focused, collaborative, firsthand discovery for everyone. Information gathered directly from our users by <em>all individuals</em> who will touch the experience keeps what really matters in focus. <a href="http://stage.buildcontext.com/blog/2014/four-collaborative-modes-digital-strategy-consumer-reality-hedrington-research-discovery" title="Four Collaborative Working Modes: User Research &amp; Discovery"><em>Continue&nbsp;reading...</em></a></p> <p><em>#2</em> <strong>Workshopping</strong> - Workshop methods that leverage <em>the skills of the entire team</em> to uncover business needs from new angles, define guideposts for our work and helping envision the future we re aiming for. <em>Post coming&nbsp;soon...</em></p> <p><em>#3</em> <strong>Guide <span class="amp">&amp;</span> Shape</strong> - A smart and structured way <em>for all roles</em> to tie the vision we've created to our current state work keeping the team on track and moving forward. Diverse roles, rather than one product manager or business owner, checking in on progress and steering towards the best final outcome. <em>Post coming&nbsp;soon...</em></p> <p><em>#4</em> <strong>Execute</strong> - A fast and focused delivery method that checks its work with real users as often as possible. Emphasizing getting to something we can all see and interact with as soon as possible giving <em>all roles</em> real feedback to shape their next steps. <em>Post coming&nbsp;soon...</em></p> <p><em>Over the next series of posts I will outline interesting examples of this new way of working, best practices, other readings from key individuals and share my general experience across the variety of roles that all need to come together across the four modes to deliver digital for consumers and your&nbsp;business.</em></p> <p>-Ben</p> What we mean when we say service transformationBen Hedrington2014-11-08T12:00:00Z2014-11-08T12:00:00Zhttp://buildcontext.com/meta/2014/what-we-mean-when-we-say-service-transformation <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" src="/media/img/meta.png" alt="" /></div> <p><a href="https://gds.blog.gov.uk/2014/07/03/what-we-mean-when-we-say-service-transformation/">This post</a> is great, begining with a concrete example of a broken customer experience and showing the depth needed to not just fix the visible problem but the real root cause - <em>how the team worked</em>.</p> <p>Reading the first quote from the article below I'm sure we can all think of at least one thing everyone at our company knows is broken and is being&nbsp;avoided. </p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <div class="meta-quote"> <blockquote> <p>Back to that letter – there’s a photo of it at the top of this post. No-one thinks it’s a good thing. No-one at the CA office. No-one who writes policy. No-one working at GDS or in any government department. But it still goes out, day after&nbsp;day.</p> <p>Why? Because it’s hard-wired into the system – an old fashioned, inflexible system, built up over&nbsp;decades. </p> </blockquote> <!-- Split Points --> <p><br /> To change this our job is to dig deeply into <em>why</em> and leave our company issued roles at the door. One way I like to do this is through the <a href="http://www.fastcodesign.com/1669738/to-get-to-the-root-of-a-hard-problem-just-ask-why-five-times">"Five Whys"</a>, try it, it's amazing where you'll end up by that fifth <em>Why?</em>.</p> <p>This type of work requires an evolved view of <em>transformation</em>, beyond pixels and code to something much more&nbsp;real.</p> <blockquote> <p>So when we talk about “transformation“, we don’t just mean messing about with the hardware and software that makes things happen. We mean thinking about the whole service, getting a multidisciplinary team together, and transforming the experience for users, for the people who are seeking help when they put in a claim. We mean delivering a better experience for them, doing something that makes a genuine difference to their&nbsp;lives.</p> </blockquote> <!-- Split Points --> <p><br /> Resulting in an evolved&nbsp;approach.</p> <blockquote> <p>They’re <strong>making decisions with data</strong>. They’re keen to build up a portfolio of user research and user statistics. The more data they have, the better they get at making&nbsp;decisions.</p> <p>They <strong>now release code on a two-week cycle</strong>, rapidly iterating on what came before. Many changes, little and&nbsp;often.</p> <p>The team is now <strong>making use of cloud-based infrastructure and services</strong>. That’s not unusual, not in the commercial world anyway, but in government it’s considered innovative, even&nbsp;radical. </p> </blockquote> <a href="https://gds.blog.gov.uk/2014/07/03/what-we-mean-when-we-say-service-transformation/" class="meta-via">via gov.uk "What we mean when we say service transformation"</a> </div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <p>Hat tip to <a href="http://twitter.com/clayparkerjones">@clayparkerjones</a> for sharing this post and helping it find&nbsp;me.</p> Experience design is shaping our futureBen Hedrington2014-11-04T12:00:00Z2014-11-04T12:00:00Zhttp://buildcontext.com/meta/2014/experience-design-shaping-future <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" src="/media/img/meta.png" alt="" /></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p>Interesting outline post on O'Reilly Radar by Mary Treseler (<a href="http://twitter.com/marytreseler">@marytreseler</a>) digging into design applied to the complexity of connected devices and how design is becoming an asset inside more and more companies. The post is quite a collection of thoughts right now but it will be interesting to see what Radar curates in the&nbsp;space.</p> <p>Worth a read and a <a href="http://oreil.ly/1CkAt4O">newsletter sign-up</a> for&nbsp;certain.</p> <p><em>I'll be watching for what's next.</em> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --></p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <div class="meta-quote"> <blockquote> <p>Design aligns humans and technology, it aligns business and engineering, it aligns digital and physical, and it aligns business needs and user&nbsp;needs. </p> <p>Design is both the disruptor and being disrupted. It’s disrupting markets, organizations, and relationships, and forcing us to rethink how we live. The discipline of design is also experiencing tremendous growth and change, largely influenced by economic and technology factors. No longer an afterthought, design is now an essential part of a product, and it may even be the most important part of a product’s&nbsp;value.</p> <p>IoT is also changing how designers are perceived and what is expected of them. Claire Rowland talks about the design stack for IoT: visual design, interaction design, interusability, industrial design, service design, conceptual models, productization, and platform design. Designers’ responsibilities are expanding at a dizzying&nbsp;pace.</p> <p>The convergence of the physical and digital requires different groups coming together to solve real human problems. In addition to hardware and software engineers, industrial designers, interaction designers, visual designers, and user researchers all need to&nbsp;collaborate.</p> <p>Organizations that value design and treat it as a corporate asset increase their odds of success. Conversely, organizations that minimize design’s impact and continue to treat it as an adjacent activity will&nbsp;fail.</p> </blockquote> <a href="http://radar.oreilly.com/2014/10/experience-design-iot-design-business-design.html" class="meta-via">via O&#39;Reilly Radar "Experience design is shaping our future"</a> </div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> The Next Big Thing In Responsive DesignBen Hedrington2014-10-24T12:00:00Z2014-10-24T12:00:00Zhttp://buildcontext.com/meta/2014/the-real-responsive-design <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" src="/media/img/meta.png" alt="" /></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <div class="meta-quote"> <blockquote> <p>...adapting to the screen is only the first frontier of a new, responsive web. Today, users expect online experiences that not only respond to what device they're using, but also their location, time of day, what they’ve already read, and events happening in real&nbsp;time.</p> <p>To capture a user’s attention for the next generation of the web, you’ll need more than just responsive design. You’ll need a responsive&nbsp;philosophy.</p> </blockquote> <a href="http://www.fastcodesign.com/3036091/the-next-big-thing-in-responsive-design" class="meta-via">via fastcodesign "The Next Big Thing In Responsive Design"</a> </div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <p><a href="http://www.fastcodesign.com/3036091/the-next-big-thing-in-responsive-design">This article</a> is a great read. Responsive design needs to be much more than adapting to screen&nbsp;size.</p> <p>In the early days we created "m dot" sites not just because responsive wasn't ready for prime time yet but because <em>the mobile customer has different needs</em>. We need to get back to this, standard responsive is one size fits all by definition and thats not going to cut&nbsp;it.</p> Closing the Loop Across Channels With Digitally Connected ReceiptsBen Hedrington2014-10-19T12:00:00Z2014-10-19T12:00:00Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2014/closing-the-loop-digital-receipts-cross-channel-ecommerce-mobile-digital <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" src="/media/img/receipt-qr.png" /><a class="attr" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/ben_on_the_move/4391281523/">ben_osteen</a></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p>With over 90% of retail being done in stores narrowly focusing on e-commerce and mobile sales, or worse yet in-channel conversion rates, <em>is a mistake</em>. There are clear opportunities to tap into more value for your business by putting your digital assets to work in new&nbsp;ways.</p> <p>84% of store visitors use mobile devices before or during a shopping trip and today digital technologies influence 36% of in-store retail sales, and this number is expected to increase to 50% of in-store sales by the end of 2014. Leaders must make closing the loop between your physical retail environment and this digital enabled customer top of your&nbsp;agenda. </p> <p>A strong and evolving way to close the loop with the mobile customer is the digitally enabled&nbsp;receipt.</p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <p><img src="/media/img/savings-catcher.png" alt="Walmart Savings Catcher" style="float:right;width:280px;margin:2em;" title="Walmart Savings Catcher" /> Digitally enabled receipts give a physical means for your customer to digitally connect back to your brand often by a scannable barcode, QR code, a URL or even a simple numeric code they can enter on one of your digital properties. They can also take the form of emailed receipts if your customer is willing to sign-up and offer that contact information up&nbsp;front. </p> <p>Once the customer makes this connection you can instantly connect a wealth of information in their mobile web browser, your app or website and in those important back-end customer data system. You'll now have a better view of those "abandoned carts" that were pulling down your conversion rate now turning into verified sales, you'll have new purchase data that you can use to help personalize their future shopping trips and you'll have a new view into customer loyalty that's easier than keeping presenting a&nbsp;card.</p> <p>Now this doesn't come free, with consumers <em>what's in it for me</em> is always top of mind but retailers have put forward some interesting models that are worth looking into. Walmart uses there digitally connected receipt to power <a href="https://savingscatcher.walmart.com/">Savings Catcher</a>, a slick way for consumer to save some extra pennies by comparing their receipt to local competitors. Walgreens, Macys and Home Depot talk about streamlining purchasing, reducing the clutter in wallets and going&nbsp;green. </p> <p>Regardless of the way you approach the consumer if you can engage them digitally connected receipts have the power to unlock purchase and marketing data to use with partners as a new revenue stream and internally to more clearly define cross-channel shopping behaviors and attribute your digitally influenced sales appropriately helping be a better digital leader who's not gazing at their navel and watching their conversion rate go&nbsp;by.</p> <p>Thanks for reading.<br />&nbsp;-Ben</p> <p>Some stats sourced from <a href="http://www.deloitte.com/view/en_US/us/Industries/Retail-Distribution/5e8b875282d15410VgnVCM3000003456f70aRCRD.htm?id=us:2el:3fu:digitaldiv:awa:retail:042814#.VEMKXa2edko">Deloitte</a></p> Tumblr Will Shape Holiday Purchasing Decisions of Millennial UsersBen Hedrington2014-10-19T12:00:00Z2014-10-19T12:00:00Zhttp://buildcontext.com/meta/2014/tumblr-holiday-shopping-millennial <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" src="/media/img/meta.png" alt="" /></div> <p>Some strong stats pulled by Tumblr's Marketr team. Unclear if this is incremental demand but by these stats Tumblr use shows strong signs of awarness driving and&nbsp;intent.</p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <div class="meta-quote"> <blockquote> <p>33% of millennial users say Tumblr will influence their shopping decisions more than&nbsp;TV.</p> <p>42% of users reblog products they want to&nbsp;buy.</p> <p>41% of Tumblr users are more likely to consider a product reblogged by someone they&nbsp;follow.</p> <p>35% of users have bought something in a post they liked on&nbsp;Tumblr.</p> <p>Millennials on Tumblr find gift inspiration online but prefer to shop in-store. 46% prefer to shop in-store, 22% prefer to shop online and 32% prefer&nbsp;both.</p> </blockquote> <a href="http://marketr.tumblr.com/post/100244286819/holidayshoppingtumblr" class="meta-via">via marketr "Tumblr Will Shape Holiday Purchasing Decisions of Millennial Users"</a> </div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> Five simple website features that make Volkswagen stand outBen Hedrington2014-10-10T12:00:00Z2014-10-10T12:00:00Zhttp://buildcontext.com/meta/2014/five-features-that-make-volkswagen-stand-out <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" src="/media/img/meta.png" alt="" /></div> <p>With the Buzzfeed like headlines it's easy to skip over these posts from Econsultancy but nestled all the way down at #5 is a gem in my&nbsp;book.</p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <div class="meta-quote"> <blockquote> <p><strong>#5 Clear messaging/personas on the&nbsp;homepage</strong></p> <p>I've picked this out before but it's simply excellent and what all websites with several distinct user journeys or audiences should be&nbsp;doing.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0005/4440/vw-blog-full.png" title="vw.co.uk via Econsultancy" width="400"></p> </blockquote> <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65567-five-simple-website-features-that-make-volkswagen-stand-out" class="meta-via">via Econsultancy "Five simple website features that make Volkswagen stand out"</a> </div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <p>It seems so often with high-end experience design we try to divine of why the user is on our site ourselves and design solely for&nbsp;that.</p> <p>To me asking the question to the user directly is not obtuse and allows you to better tailor the experience down the line not to mention all the direct intent data you'll&nbsp;capture.</p> <p><strong>Anyone listening in "omni-channel"&nbsp;retail?</strong> </p> <p>Why is your user on your&nbsp;site?</p> <p><em>Maybe you should&nbsp;ask.</em></p> Ello Is a Wake-Up Call for Social Media MarketingBen Hedrington2014-09-29T12:00:00Z2014-09-29T12:00:00Zhttp://buildcontext.com/meta/2014/ello-wake-up-call-social-media-marketing <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" src="/media/img/meta.png" alt="" /></div> <p>In the early days of Twitter when <a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=DYVHdCXwHEgC&amp;lpg=PA194&amp;dq=twelpforce%20case%20study%20hedrington&amp;pg=PA194#v=onepage&amp;q=twelpforce%20case%20study%20hedrington&amp;f=false">we started</a> <a href="http://www.newretailblog.com/social-media-case-study-best-buys-twelpforce/">Best Buy's Twelpforce</a>, <a href="http://www.socialmediatoday.com/content/comcast-cares-customer-service-through-twitter">Comcast call-center agents started</a> @comcastcares and the like social media was about connecting to your customers and just simply helping&nbsp;them.</p> <p>Real people connecting with real people, imagine&nbsp;that! </p> <p>Unfortunately it quickly became clear as user counts grew that our <em>folksy</em> use of social media was in the cross-hairs of marketing as usual, they had just the push marketing <em>(everyone loves push marketing)</em> to fill in that channel space... all queued up in an Excel spreadsheet to&nbsp;boot. </p> <p>Happy to hear that that tide may be turning back, if even just a little&nbsp;bit.</p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <div class="meta-quote"> <blockquote> <p>...pay attention to the growing public discomfort with advertiser dominance and algorithm-driven user experiences. As Internet users are growing uncomfortable with the now-established model of “you get free social networking, we get your data and eyeballs,” businesses need to do more than tinker with their social media strategies: they need to rethink their core approach to social media&nbsp;itself.</p> </blockquote> <a href="http://blogs.hbr.org/2014/09/ello-is-a-wake-up-call-for-social-media-marketing/" class="meta-via">via HBR "Ello Is a Wake-Up Call for Social Media Marketing"</a> </div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> All Shipping in the Future Will Be FreeBen Hedrington2014-05-19T12:00:00Z2014-05-19T12:00:00Zhttp://buildcontext.com/meta/2014/all-shipping-in-the-future-will-be-free <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" src="/media/img/meta.png" alt="" /></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <div class="meta-quote"> <blockquote> <p>Thus, in the future, shipping will no longer be a concept. In the eyes of the consumers, it's just something that happens the same way as all the other things you need to do in order to bring your products to&nbsp;market.</p> </blockquote> <a href="http://www.baekdal.com/insights/all-shipping-in-the-future-will-be-free/" class="meta-via">via Baekdal "All Shipping in the Future Will Be Free"</a> </div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <p>Interesting point raised here, when shipping becomes a cost of doing business a lot starts to be&nbsp;questioned. </p> <p>This <a href="http://www.ebay.com/itm/Canon-Speedlite-430EX-of-Bounce-Flash-Diffuser-/220819554348">flash diffuser</a> <em>sells and ships</em> for $0.99 <em>from china</em> to your home in about a week. I think it's time to start questioning the viabiity of a few of today's tactics&nbsp;now.</p> <ul> <li>No more "free shipping bump" that retailers are addicted for holiday periods and meet-our-numbers&nbsp;blitzes.</li> <li>No advantage to buy "online, pick up in store" other than&nbsp;immediacy.</li> <li>Less power for Amazon Prime unless its real people headline goes beyond shipping.<br><em>You've seen that "Hey you knew Amazon has streaming..." interstitial in cart right? Astounding importantance to put something in the path of&nbsp;purchase.</em></li> <li>And a through questioning of real "omni-channel" value to the&nbsp;consumer.</li> </ul> Meeting Connected Consumers with True Omni-Channel Experiences Requires a New ApproachBen Hedrington2014-04-02T12:00:00Z2014-04-02T12:00:00Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2014/connected-consumers-omnichannel-requires-new-approach <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" src="/media/img/7569786950_d487c36075_q.jpg" /><a class="attr" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/66971402@N04/7569786950/">Franck BLAIS</a></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p><em>Creating a differentiated, compelling, and valuable customer experience has never been&nbsp;easy.</em> </p> <p>But in reaction to further ratcheting up of customer expectations many companies, large and small, have seen the need to quickly rethink how they present themselves in the interconnected physical/digital environment often referred to as the omni-channel&nbsp;experience. </p> <p>Over the last several years, I have worked with Fortune 100 retailers, service companies, and other digital groups looking to meet their customers in a new way and to be cohesive across this landscape. I want to share what I have learned - sometimes the hard way - and help you to get off on the right&nbsp;foot.</p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <p>To that end, I've created a punch list of sorts that shares a few principles from my experiences you should check in on when you get started and while you are on the&nbsp;path: </p> <p><hr /> <ol> <li><strong>Without connected goals and leadership, there won't be a connected&nbsp;experience.</strong></li> <li><strong>Create a team culture of silo&nbsp;crashing.</strong></li> <li><strong>User experience in the trenches must be everyone's&nbsp;game.</strong></li> <li><strong>Clear the path for&nbsp;technology.</strong></li> <li><strong>Eat your own dog&nbsp;food.</strong></li> <li><strong>Focus on integration or witness the&nbsp;disintegration.</strong></li> </ol> <hr /> <p>Keep in mind that these aren't a low bar but I’ve seen that the work put into these behind the scenes team and company elements will, often more than the digital work itself, lead to your success or foreshadow your failure. Not meeting these out of the gate is not a reason to avoid getting started, but they are meant to serve as a guidepost to keep your focus on so your project doesn’t slide sideways on&nbsp;you.</p> <h2>Without connected goals and leadership, there won't be a connected&nbsp;experience.</h2> <p>When senior leaders, designers, and technologists from very different in-store and digital camps are responsible for separate channels of a business, there are bound to be differing views of what it will take to be successful. Heck, even defining what successful means is a complicated&nbsp;endeavor. </p> <p>A comfortable trap is created when your leaders and stakeholders nod their heads and&nbsp;say, </p> <blockquote> <p>“This work will be successful when our users are able to purchase what they want wherever they want through this new cross channel digital&nbsp;experience".</p> </blockquote> <p>You could stop and bask in your newly found concrete answer, but in this new omni-channel frontier, it takes the next level of persistence. You must ask, "Why?”, and, "What do you mean by that?", to uncover the meaningful nuggets that lie&nbsp;underneath: </p> <blockquote> <p><span class="dquo">"</span>Well, I want those in-store purchases to ring up as website revenue and build my revenue&nbsp;line"; </p> </blockquote> <p>or,</p> <blockquote> <p><span class="dquo">"</span>I really need to make in-store sales more efficiently with the same number of&nbsp;staff";</p> </blockquote> <p>or,</p> <blockquote> <p><span class="dquo">"</span>We are really short on foot traffic lately, so I hope these experiences drive more&nbsp;customers”. </p> </blockquote> <p><em>My, those are dramatically different problems to&nbsp;solve.</em> </p> <p>The game here is not to necessarily get everyone agree on one goal; that's not possible. Instead, you must cut through the tempting agreeable nowheres by asking why, and to get each unstated goal on paper or on a big white board in front of the team, then playing them back to the leaders of all channels as a mantra going forward. Then, and only then, will you have a chance at solving these problems and becoming&nbsp;successful.</p> <h2>Create a team culture of silo&nbsp;crashing.</h2> <p>This work in its essence is about seamless transitions between disparate parts of your company. People, processes, or technology too rooted in one channel will vastly limit your ability to&nbsp;progress. </p> <p>Listen intently during one of your meetings for omni-channel initiatives.&nbsp;If </p> <blockquote> <p>“We do X, I’m not sure what they do…”, or, “It’s only our responsibility up until&nbsp;here…”,</p> </blockquote> <p>are the type of comments often heard, reframe the&nbsp;question: </p> <blockquote> <p><span class="dquo">"</span>What would the customer expect to happen regardless of how we work&nbsp;internally?”. </p> </blockquote> <p>You'll likely get a very different answer - often a quick answer - that starts with, “Of course they would want..", and usually has at least one “but” in the response. These are signs that the team sees limits in what they can affect that you, as a leader, can help&nbsp;remove. </p> <p>Focus on building a team that can see the light at the end of the tunnel that is guided by the customer. The right team will tirelessly ask the&nbsp;question, </p> <blockquote> <p>“Why can't we do&nbsp;that?",</p> </blockquote> <p>to the enabling channel teams until it is done and done right, with no regard to the walls of the organizational silos they are walking through. Applaud small wins in these areas; it takes a lot to overcome organizational inertia, but once you get going, there will be no stopping&nbsp;you.</p> <h2>User experience in the trenches must be everyone's&nbsp;game.</h2> <p>Creating user experience in this new connected space is hard when you’ve created successful in independent digital or physical work in the past, you need a team ready to leave their preconceptions at the door. You need a strong, multidisciplinary team of researchers, designers, product developers, and technologists ready to get in the trenches to find out what the customer wants. You need to build a team that clearly puts the user first, builds prototypes fast, and has methods to show the user new ideas until something hits. The best team members work outside of traditional role boundaries: think designers that build, technologists that concept, product managers that sketch, all with focus on discovering what the user&nbsp;wants. </p> <p>Take a page from Nordstrom who created a ‘flash-mob’ of sorts with their innovation team, swarming their sunglasses department with designers, product builders and developers. They iteratively built an iPad app to help customers pick the best sunglasses and tested it with real customers in real time, spending time refining features that mattered to the customer and quickly discarding those that did&nbsp;not.</p> <p>With a team like this and a bias toward your user, be it the consumer or in-store employee, your potential for success will go up&nbsp;dramatically.</p> <h2>Clear the path for&nbsp;technology.</h2> <p>The technology team's charter commonly given by the business&nbsp;teams </p> <blockquote> <p>“Make it happen however you can, on time and under&nbsp;budget” </p> </blockquote> <p>simply will not work for this environment. In order to deliver integrated omni-channel, the technology team will need to break through barriers they've avoided both consciously and subconsciously in the past. As a leader in this work, there will be many times you must encourage the technology team in pushing the boundaries, from the complexity of privacy or security, to pure, “We don't normally do it that way", thinking. The way the networks work, which devices are chosen, what you can and can't access on those devices, which databases are the data being pulled from, if the service is real-time or has a lag, are all so critical to the end product. The answers don't vary much when you are only working on the digital or physical sides of the world, but do vary dramatically when you are blending these worlds. Be sure to ask even the simplest of questions&nbsp;like, </p> <blockquote> <p>“Where does this data come from?”,&nbsp;and, </p> <p>“Is this the same information we show on the&nbsp;website?”.</p> </blockquote> <p>The answer you’ll get will likely not be so simple. Complexity being put on your customer will spring up where you least expect it and you need to be there to question it at every&nbsp;turn.</p> <p>Warby Parker, the innovative start-up eyeglasses maker, just recently ventured into these waters aiming to move into physical retail but do it their way. They emphasized paying only when the product was shipped and keeping a single always-on history of all interactions and custom preferences for each customer at their employee’s fingertips or on any digital touch point. Today’s in-the-box retail point of sale software just doesn’t cut it here; it is rooted in a single channel, mass commerce world. Warby Parker took the plunge to create custom software to get out of single channel thinking and emphasized creating the customer experience that is right for their brand. The team realized that the point of sale software is the experience not just a tool to purchase from the lowest bidder. They are making a bet that in the end the costs of delivering this heightened experience will define the company for its consumer making it well worth the price of&nbsp;admission.</p> <p>Be ready to support your technology team to do the complex work needed by escalating to their leadership, re-defining a security policy for a new age, changing the way the networks works in the store, challenge the status quo and so much more. To make it work for the customer, much will be needed and those decisions will come to define the experience you&nbsp;deliver.</p> <h2>Eat your own dog&nbsp;food.</h2> <p>You may have heard this before, and maybe it's cliché, but I've never worked in a space where this is more critical. Keep a working version of your omni-channel product in your hands at all times, no matter if the current version is just a bunch of stories, a paper prototype, or real code. Walk around with it and ask&nbsp;yourself, </p> <blockquote> <p><span class="dquo">"</span>Does this help me get necessary things&nbsp;done?",</p> <p><span class="dquo">"</span>How would I have found out this feature even exists?",&nbsp;and, </p> <p><span class="dquo">"</span>Do people really do this in the real&nbsp;world?”. </p> </blockquote> <p>Too often when you work on hot trendy things like omni-channel that are on a hype cycle, just the fact you are doing something new will keep you moving forward and excited. However, your customers couldn’t care less what you call it or how cool it makes you; they just want something that is helpful, simple, and really works. Being the leader in your team who looks at where you are, stands back, and asks the hard questions will help the team win, regardless of how it feels in the moment. Swim against the current, and say what needs to be said when it needs to be said, even if&nbsp;it’s, </p> <blockquote> <p><span class="dquo">"</span>Team, this just doesn't&nbsp;work."</p> </blockquote> <p><em>In&nbsp;closing...</em></p> <p>Up until now, you've aligned the stars: the disparate teams and leaders have the same direction and goals, you’ve got the technologists and designers on board working across previous borders, and you've tested an idea with your customer and they like it. There is one piece that I've seen often taken for granted, however, and it is the largest definer of successfulness versus&nbsp;mediocrity.</p> <h2>Focus on integration or witness the&nbsp;disintegration.</h2> <p>Be ready to spend inordinate amounts of time pouring over the critical points where your new omni-channel digital experiences transition between people and the physical and digital realm, otherwise known as the on and off ramps of your connected&nbsp;experience. </p> <p>Every successful cross-channel experience I have seen was suggested at just the right moment by an in-store associate, linked by a related digital experience or integrated noticeably and on purpose into the physical environment. How your work shows up here in the last mile between you and your customer, is the key to success or&nbsp;failure. </p> <p>Plopping a new tool at the end of an aisle without coordinating what it is for, why you’re doing this, and how it works is effectively inviting your tool to be thrown into the dustbin. The prevailing conversation stemming from that will&nbsp;be, </p> <blockquote> <p>“Someone from HQ just put that there randomly”, and, “No, no one is using&nbsp;it",</p> </blockquote> <p>both of which will be true. Training your in-store associates is one essential approach to be sure, but empowered associates that understand how a tool can be helpful will be the first to show it to a&nbsp;customer. </p> <p>Apple has delivered the last-mile integration well with EasyPay in their Apple Store app. In every instance I have witnessed the Apple associate is the first to mention to the consumer they can pay with their phone right where they stand, seamlessly integrated into the conversation. There is no surprise payment device attached to the conventional cash register that you can “use if you want to”, no forced “would you like to pay with your phone today” that comes off as inauthentic. Just a simple in-context mention of a feature that equally benefits the customer and associate by saving them time. Do this right and your employees will own the experience, they will be your live demo and on ramp to usage, especially if the tool helps the associate get their job done fast. You’ll be a hero, and they will be selling your work to customers and their&nbsp;leadership.</p> <p>In short, a coordinated, well-thought-out plan for the steps leading to the use of your new experience and the steps that follow will pay dividends for the future. Let it be the difference between technology that really connects with your customers in this new omni-channel future, and technology that gets dusted more times than&nbsp;used.</p> <p>Thanks for reading.<br />&nbsp;-Ben</p> The Great Leveler: eCommerce’s Next MoveBen Hedrington2013-12-19T12:00:00Z2013-12-19T12:00:00Zhttp://buildcontext.com/meta/2013/the-great-leveler-ecommerces-next-move <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" src="/media/img/meta.png" alt="" /></div> <p>I totally agree retail ecommerce and point of sale systems will become one, they simply must, the higher up in the organization you are the clearer this is to you. After all, those leaders are the people who create the plans that RSR references&nbsp;below.</p> <p>But plans are one thing, what this study overlooks is at the ground level these separate ecommerce and in-store retail teams who would put this approach in place believe operationally, tangibly, and some times even strategically that they are solving different&nbsp;problems. </p> <p>Until leadership conveys the unified story, the value to the consumer and the imperative for their business in a way the teams on the ground believe it to their core the inertia of these parallel paths will unfortunately not be&nbsp;broken.</p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <div class="meta-quote"> <blockquote> <p><strong>Retailers Expect eCommerce Platforms to Power All Commerce In the&nbsp;Future</strong></p> <p>Until this year's eCommerce Benchmark, The Great Leveler: eCommerce's Next Move, it has seemed as though money was no object to improving eCommerce capabilities — new implementations were human — rather than financial resource-constrained. Given those investments, <strong>it’s only logical retailers would look to expand capabilities built into their eCommerce platforms across the enterprise</strong>. As we can see in the Figure below, those interests have not translated into budgets yet, but have found their way into corporate priority lists as&nbsp;planned.</p> <p>Figure: Finding New Uses for eCommerce&nbsp;Capabilities</p> <p><img alt="RSR Research Chart" src="/media/img/ecomffchart12-18-13.png" /></p> </blockquote> <a href="http://www.rsrresearch.com/2013/11/13/the-great-leveler-ecommerces-next-move/" class="meta-via">via RSR "The Great Leveler: eCommerce’s Next Move"</a> </div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> As Software Eats The World, Non-Tech Corporations Are Eating StartupsBen Hedrington2013-12-15T12:00:00Z2013-12-15T12:00:00Zhttp://buildcontext.com/meta/2013/software-eats-world-non-tech-corporations-eating-startups <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" src="/media/img/meta.png" alt="" /></div> <p>As the article accurately states today in retail as it relates to digital there is a mix of fear, no commerce strategy and a correct view of the future where there is no delineation between online and offline retail from small pockets inside the&nbsp;company. </p> <p>Putting a little effort into digital strategy big things can happen in retail, the distribution potential is enormous, but it's going to take a new line of thinking and that change may not be coming quickly enough for&nbsp;some.</p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <div class="meta-quote"> <blockquote> <p>Aileen Lee, founder of Cowboy Ventures and Partner at Kleiner Perkins, believes that retail will continue to be an industry where you are seeing large companies eat&nbsp;software.</p> <p>“A lot of physical <strong>retailers saw soft foot traffic in their stores in Q3 and they are more nervous about how e-commerce is eating into their sales</strong>,” she explains. Companies like TJ Maxx, Urban Outfitters and others can easily make a $100 million to $400 million acquisition in the current market, she adds. In fact, earlier this year, Urban Outfitters reportedly did try to buy NastyGal, a fast-growing e-commerce site for young&nbsp;women.</p> <p>“<strong>Lots of these retailers have no commerce strategy</strong>, but startups have the potential to expand consumer reach to a younger demographic,” says&nbsp;Lee.</p> <p>David Blumenfeld, SVP of Westfield Labs, the innovation arm of shopping mall developer Westfield, tells us that the company is definitely evaluating potential acquisitions that they can bring into their Labs&nbsp;groups.</p> <p>“While Westfield itself is not a tech company, <strong>we believe that there is not a delineation between online and offline shopping, and we have to be a part of that</strong>,” he says. “We believe tech is core to the future of how products are bought even in&nbsp;malls.”</p> <p>He adds that with the company’s malls, they have the distribution (to potentially 1.1 billion people, he says), and they are actively looking for technologies they can integrate into their&nbsp;malls.</p> </blockquote> <a href="http://techcrunch.com/2013/12/14/as-software-eats-the-world-non-tech-corporations-are-eating-startups" class="meta-via">via Techcrunch "As Software Eats The World, Non-Tech Corporations Are Eating Startups"</a> </div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> Big Idea 2014: The One Crucial Leadership Skill is AgilityBen Hedrington2013-12-13T12:00:00Z2013-12-13T12:00:00Zhttp://buildcontext.com/meta/2013/the-one-crucial-leadership-skill-is-agility <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" src="/media/img/meta.png" alt="" /></div> <p>When building a team, be it getting ready to interview or surveying your network, these are strong traits to be seeking that will create a team that can both meet a challenge and continue to grow beyond it. Often recruiters and interviewers focus on sufficient background to meet a current challenge but forget that meeting the challenge is only the first&nbsp;step.</p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <div class="meta-quote"> <blockquote> <p>According to an article in the journal Human Resource Management, people deep in learning agility are those&nbsp;who:</p> <p>Seek out experiences from which to learn; are attracted to&nbsp;“newness”;</p> <p>Enjoy delving into complex problems associated with new experiences and analyzing them through contrasts, parallels, and searching for&nbsp;meaning;</p> <p>Acquire more value from these new experiences because they have a desire to make sense out of&nbsp;them;</p> <p>Are strong at simplifying and synthesizing and are effective at presenting their views to others;&nbsp;and</p> <p>Perform better because they are able to apply new skills and insights to their challenges and responsibilities and bring others along for the&nbsp;ride.</p> <p>What does this mean for each of us as we head into 2014? Both as it relates to our own work and hiring others, we&nbsp;should:</p> <p>Be eager to learn about ourselves, others, and the world around&nbsp;us;</p> <p>Ask questions, ask more questions…&nbsp;repeat;</p> <p>Show a fundamental interest in learning from feedback and changing behavior as a&nbsp;result;</p> <p>Encourage ourselves and others to experiment, think critically, and&nbsp;learn.</p> </blockquote> <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20131210125940-203184238-big-idea-2014-the-one-crucial-leadership-skill-is-agility" class="meta-via">via James Citrin "Big Idea 2014: The One Crucial Leadership Skill is Agility"</a> </div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> How I introduced a 27-year-old computer to the webBen Hedrington2013-12-12T12:00:00Z2013-12-12T12:00:00Zhttp://buildcontext.com/meta/2013/how-i-introduced-a-27-year-old-computer-to-the-web <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" src="/media/img/meta.png" alt="" /></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <div class="meta-quote"> <blockquote> <p>It’s a lowly machine, my Mac. The specs pale in comparison to even my Kindle: 8 MHz CPU, 4 MB RAM, 50 MB hard drive, and 512 x 384 pixel black-and-white screen. My current desktop PC is on the order of 200,000 times faster – not even including the GPU. Still, that Mac Plus was where I cut my computing teeth as a child. It introduced me to C, hard drives, modems, and the&nbsp;internet.</p> </blockquote> <a href="http://www.keacher.com/1216/how-i-introduced-a-27-year-old-computer-to-the-web/" class="meta-via">via Keacher "How I introduced a 27-year-old computer to the web"</a> </div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <p>Wondering will this be our generations restoration of classic cars? I know my first, the 486DX2/50, would have loved to jump on the internet. The AMD K6 that came after it had a number of screaming modems that loved the BBSs of the time could only dream of getting beyond&nbsp;28.8kbps. </p> <p>Prices skyrocketing as people try to re-acquire the tech of their childhood? We'll&nbsp;see. </p> Hiding From Managers Can Increase Your ProductivityBen Hedrington2013-12-12T12:00:00Z2013-12-12T12:00:00Zhttp://buildcontext.com/meta/2013/hiding-from-managers-can-increase-your-productivity <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" src="/media/img/meta.png" alt="" /></div> <p>I don't think this is limited to the factory but applies everywhere. My mind immediately jumps to that white collar manager that makes sure to sit in a central place to see the comings and goings of all her workers mistaking sitting in a place with doing great work. Time spent keeping up appearances doesn't show up in the bottom&nbsp;line.</p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <div class="meta-quote"> <blockquote> <p>What's more, in a curious phenomenon dubbed the Transparency Paradox, he finds that watching your employees less closely at work might yield more transparency at your&nbsp;organization.</p> <p>Bernstein uncovered the paradox while studying the manufacturing floor at a leading, technologically advanced global contract manufacturer's plant in Southern China, where tens of thousands of workers assembled mobile devices under close supervision. The plant for years had operated myriad identical assembly lines, spaced closely together to facilitate visibility. The idea was that watching the workers would help managers improve operations and replicate innovations on one line across others, thus increasing productivity and driving down production&nbsp;costs.</p> <p>A research team found the opposite was&nbsp;true.</p> <p>...</p> <p><span class="dquo">"</span>I would never suggest that what works in one setting is necessarily going to work the same way in another," he says. "The message actually that's more important to me, which should be more important to managers, too, is that this race to full observability of everything can have unintended&nbsp;consequences."</p> </blockquote> <a href="http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/7343.html" class="meta-via">via HBS "Hiding From Managers Can Increase Your Productivity"</a> </div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> Joining SapientNitro as a Mobile / Digital StrategistBen Hedrington2013-06-08T12:00:00Z2013-06-08T12:00:00Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2013/joining-sapientnitro-mobile-digital-strategist-ben-hedrington <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" src="/media/img/sapientnitrologo-no-text.png" alt="" /></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p><em>I'm making a move.</em> In some ways a big change of venue for me in other ways an extension of where I have been focused for some time. An important next chapter in the consumer's digitally enhanced and intertwined life is opening up I am simply expanding the impact I can have on&nbsp;it. </p> <p>After eleven years at Best Buy creating and working on some great things both inside and outside the company I knew my next move was about sticking with the mobile and digital work I loved but increasing my surface area of impact. Getting involved with more leading and emerging companies, engaging leaders and expanding thinking, working on diverse problems sets from different consumer perspectives and unique business model&nbsp;needs.</p> <h2>Announcing</h2> <p>I'm excited to announce that I will be joining <a href="http://www.sapient.com/en-us/sapientnitro.html">SapientNitro</a>'s fast growing Minneapolis office as a Mobile / Digital&nbsp;Strategist. </p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <p><a href="http://http://www.sapient.com/en-us/sapientnitro.html"><img alt="SapientNitro" src="/media/img/sapientnitrologo-banner-150.png" width="95%" class="no-border" style="margin:2em 0 0 0;"/></a></p> <blockquote> <p><span class="dquo">"</span>It's because the silos that once divided creativity and technology, and any lines between the physical and virtual, no longer exist in the real world that they don't exist in ours." <em>SapientNitro</em></p> </blockquote> <p>I still have much to learn about the company and clients, that's what the next weeks will focus on, but what I do know is the role is something that I will take active part in growing and shaping as I work with the great team in the Minneapolis office, the national and international SapientNitro&nbsp;teams. </p> <h2>My&nbsp;thinking</h2> <p>Three things made this a clear next step for me. One, SapientNitro's highly influential role with key clients who are looking to really move the dial. Second, their involvement end-to-end through delivery to the customer &#8212; not just creating presentations and parting with a good-bye and good luck. Third but most importantly, our shared view of the consumer's physical and digitally blended future which they've brought to life in works like <a href="http://www.sapient.com/insights/">SapientNitro's Insights 2013</a> which focuses on <em>“connected thinking”, offering a clear view of the disruptive, exciting changes taking place in today’s omni-channel, always-on world</em>.</p> <h2>I'd love to work with&nbsp;you</h2> <p>The title above says it all, if you are working on anything in the digital, mobile or omni-channel space don't hesitate to reach out. I love to meet and hear what others are thinking and working on and I'd love to share the same. Please reach out to <a href="&#109;&#97;&#105;&#108;&#116;&#111;&#58;&#98;&#101;&#110;&#64;&#104;&#101;&#100;&#114;&#105;&#110;&#103;&#116;&#111;&#110;&#46;&#99;&#111;&#109;">&#98;&#101;&#110;&#64;&#104;&#101;&#100;&#114;&#105;&#110;&#103;&#116;&#111;&#110;&#46;&#99;&#111;&#109;</a> or through <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/benhedrington">LinkedIn</a>, I will update this post with my SapientNitro email when I have&nbsp;it.</p> <p>Thanks and hope to talk to you soon,<br />&nbsp;-Ben</p> Open office hours to discuss Mobile, Web and Product Management opportunities at Best BuyBen Hedrington2012-05-10T12:00:00Z2012-05-10T12:00:00Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2012/open-office-hours-bestbuy-best-buy-mobile-web-product-management-job-opportunities <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" src="http://buildcontext.com/media/img/job_post.png" alt="" /></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p>Let's face it really strong full time talent in the mobile, web and product areas are hard to come by and it's not going to get any easier. The pull to start your own startup is high and it's unclear if the big companies like Best Buy looking accelerate get it or are for real looking from the outside&nbsp;in. </p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <h2>Scarcity and friction are not&nbsp;friends...</h2> <p><img alt="Job Sites" src="/media/img/job.png" /></p> <p>Throw on top of the constrained talent pool the outsourced HR website, <a href="http://www.bestbuy-jobs.com/job/Richfield-Product-Line-Manager-Mobile-Digital%2C-Emerging-Platforms-Job-MN-55423/1611712/">the standard corporate job description template</a>, and (if you get that far) the gargantuan form you need to submit to be considered and you've created the highest friction experience for the very people who are so hard to find... I won't even get into the fact we are trying to hire people to deliver really exceptional customer experiences by putting them through what is certainly far from&nbsp;exceptional.</p> <h2>So...</h2> <p>In order to short-circuit this I am going to try a little experiment, I am going to hold virtual open office hours next Monday, May 14th from 1pm to 3pm&nbsp;CST. </p> <p><strong>Sign up to meet or share this link:</strong> <a href="http://ohours.org/officehours/7275">Open office hours to discuss Mobile, Web and Product Management opportunities at Best&nbsp;Buy</a></p> <p>These sessions are open to anyone, in them I hope to discuss what both our team is interested in working on and what you are. <strong>We are looking for full-time employees.</strong> Please share this <a href="http://ohours.org/officehours/7275">ohours.org</a> link with anyone you know who is working in the mobile, web and product management space that may be interested in learning about the work we are doing at Best Buy... hoping to talk to some of you and find a new way to meet, interact and get our message&nbsp;out.</p> <p>Hope to talk to you soon.&nbsp;-Ben</p> Simplify your server using Dropbox, Selective SyncBen Hedrington2012-04-09T12:00:00Z2012-04-09T12:00:00Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2012/dropbox-linux-ubuntu-ec2-linode-selective-sync <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" src="/media/img/Folder-Dropbox-sharing.png" width="100" height="100" alt="Dropbox Selective Sync" /><a class="attr" href="http://linkz57.deviantart.com/">Icon: Linkz57</a></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p>Everyone loves <a href="http://db.tt/qNfx7hxu" title="Dropbox">Dropbox</a> for the simple and instant syncing of files between their devices but as anyone who runs their own website or blog knows it can often be a pain to get files to and from your servers... Dropbox is made to solve this problem, it just takes a little&nbsp;coaxing. </p> <p>In this tutorial we are going to bring the simplicity of Dropbox to your server by selectively syncing your files, make those files accessible anywhere and your life&nbsp;easier.</p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <h2>Begin</h2> <p>This tutorial assumes you are using <a href="http://ubuntu.com" title="Ubuntu">Ubuntu</a> on your server it may work on other distributions with small tweaks. I run simple servers on <a href="http://aws.amazon.com/ec2/" title="Amazon EC2">Amazon EC2</a> and <a href="http://www.linode.com/?r=b118ab053ec4c7ea74f953bcabe6600c1a17fc67" title="Linode">Linode</a>, if you are just getting started start&nbsp;there. </p> <p>I'm going to go a little fast with the steps here, my main goal is to get all this information together so the next person doesn't need to search half of the internet to find it like I&nbsp;did.</p> <p><strong>Step 1:</strong> Go into your local Dropbox folder and create a folder called Server, <em>or whatever you'd like but if it's different you'll need to remember that later</em>.</p> <h2>Install&nbsp;Dropbox</h2> <p><strong>Step 2:</strong> Next, get a command line session with your server via SSH. Then let's check if you are on 32 or 64&nbsp;bit.</p> <div class="code"><div class="highlight"><pre><span></span><span class="go">uname -m</span><br /></pre></div><br /></div> <p>If it says <em>x86_64</em>:</p> <div class="code"><div class="highlight"><pre><span></span><span class="go">cd ~ &amp;&amp; wget -O - &quot;http://www.dropbox.com/download\</span><br /><span class="go">?plat=lnx.x86_64&quot; | tar xzf -</span><br /></pre></div><br /></div> <p>If it says <em>i686</em>:</p> <div class="code"><div class="highlight"><pre><span></span><span class="go">cd ~ &amp;&amp; wget -O - &quot;http://www.dropbox.com/download\</span><br /><span class="go">?plat=lnx.x86&quot; | tar xzf -</span><br /></pre></div><br /></div> <p><strong>Step 3:</strong> Let's download a nice python script to help us manage Dropbox. And a bash script that we'll use to start and stop&nbsp;Dropbox.</p> <div class="code"><div class="highlight"><pre><span></span><span class="go">mkdir ~/utils</span><br /><span class="go">wget -O ~/utils/dropbox.py &quot;http://www.dropbox.com/\</span><br /><span class="go">download?dl=packages/dropbox.py&quot;</span><br /><span class="go">chmod 755 ~/utils/dropbox.py </span><br /><span class="go">wget -O ~/utils/dropbox_temp &quot;https://raw.github.com/\</span><br /><span class="go">gist/2347727/108fc8af551cb4fdf7cdd08b891a45f405d283dc/dropbox&quot;</span><br /></pre></div><br /></div> <p><strong>Step 4:</strong> Run the Dropbox daemon from the newly created .dropbox-dist&nbsp;folder.</p> <div class="code"><div class="highlight"><pre><span></span><span class="go">~/.dropbox-dist/dropboxd</span><br /></pre></div><br /></div> <p><strong>Step 5:</strong> Dropboxd will tell you "This client is not linked to any account..." and give you a link copy that and paste it in your local web browser, authenticate and validate the new&nbsp;connection.</p> <p><strong>Step 6:</strong> Once Dropbox is connected kill the daemon with a&nbsp;Ctrl-C.</p> <p>Now that Dropbox is linked let's install it as a service in&nbsp;Ubuntu.</p> <p><strong>Step 7:</strong> First, edit the script and replace "user1 user2" with your server username <em>not your Dropbox account</em>. Then we'll move it to the right place, set the proper permissions and have it start on&nbsp;boot.</p> <div class="code"><div class="highlight"><pre><span></span><span class="go">nano ~/utils/dropbox_temp</span><br /><span class="go">sudo mv ~/utils/dropbox_temp /etc/init.d/dropbox</span><br /><span class="go">sudo chmod +x /etc/init.d/dropbox</span><br /><span class="go">sudo update-rc.d dropbox defaults</span><br /></pre></div><br /></div> <p>Check if Dropbox is running, if it's not start&nbsp;it.</p> <div class="code"><div class="highlight"><pre><span></span><span class="go">sudo service dropbox status</span><br /><span class="go">sudo service dropbox start</span><br /></pre></div><br /></div> <h2>It's&nbsp;Alive</h2> <div class="code"><div class="highlight"><pre><span></span><span class="go">~/utils/dropbox.py status</span><br /><span class="go">-&gt; Downloading 3,134 files (0.1 KB/sec, a long time left.</span><br /><span class="go"> Grab a Snickers)</span><br /></pre></div><br /></div> <p>Ahhh! Basically right now Dropbox is syncing your entire Dropbox to your server, for me that's not good so let's pare it down using selective&nbsp;syncing. </p> <h2>Selective&nbsp;Sync</h2> <p><strong>Step 8:</strong> You will need to call the 'exclude add' command for each top level folder you don't want to sync, I'd suggest starting by excluding your biggest folder to save Dropbox and your server some&nbsp;work. </p> <div class="code"><div class="highlight"><pre><span></span><span class="go">cd ~/Dropbox</span><br /><span class="go">~/utils/dropbox.py ls</span><br /><span class="go">-&gt; Photos Projects Public Server Work</span><br />&nbsp;<br /><span class="go">~/utils/dropbox.py exclude add Projects</span><br /><span class="go">~/utils/dropbox.py exclude add Photos</span><br /><span class="go">~/utils/dropbox.py exclude add Public</span><br /><span class="go">~/utils/dropbox.py exclude add Work</span><br /><span class="go">~/utils/dropbox.py ls</span><br /><span class="go">-&gt; Server</span><br /></pre></div><br /></div> <h2>Success?</h2> <p>Go to the Dropbox folder in your server home directory, create a file in it and let's test it&nbsp;out.</p> <div class="code"><div class="highlight"><pre><span></span><span class="go">cd ~/Dropbox/Server</span><br /><span class="go">echo &#39;success&#39; &gt; success.txt</span><br /></pre></div><br /></div> <p>Check your Dropbox folder on your local machine, if success.txt just showed up you are&nbsp;connected! </p> <h2>Success!</h2> <p>The folder works both ways, make edits, add a new file and you'll see it on your server nearly&nbsp;instantly.</p> <p>-Ben</p> On balance, what games creators and startups know that big teams often miss.Ben Hedrington2011-05-03T12:00:00Z2011-05-03T12:00:00Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2011/on-balance-what-game-developers-startups-know-big-technology-teams-miss <div class="postimg"><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/classblog/5136926303/"><img class="postimg" src="http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1436/5136926303_a3d0bb0767_s.jpg" width="75" height="75" alt="Balancing Act" /></a><a class="attr" href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/classblog/">photo: digitalnative</a></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p>I was talking to some game developers the other day about what it takes to build a good game we talked design, platforms, social, technology approaches, monetization and the hot buzzword heavy world of <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_mechanics," title="game mechanics">game mechanics</a>... they gave me thoughts on how long a game takes and what it costs to build but then, surprisingly to me, we got to the meat of the&nbsp;matter...</p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <p>Thinking we had just covered all the big rocks in making a game I said “Where do you spend most of that time?” and the three of them said without hesitation and in sync... <strong>balance</strong>.</p> <h2>Balance</h2> <p>In making a game the developers understand <em>the interplay of these important forces is the game</em>. Nothing stands on its own, it’s not the achievements, the graphic quality, the platform, whether it’s social or not... it’s really how all of that works&nbsp;together.</p> <p>Too often we lose this working in or with big companies on big products and big&nbsp;ideas. </p> <p>It’s easy to see it as a plus that you have enough people and money to put a person in command of each of these precious verticals knowing they are going to constantly push for the height of thinking, quite possibly they are industry experts in that vertical... the best of the best. The development teams pushing for the most advanced programming languages, the data guys pushing for bleeding edge approaches and tools, the social guys pushing to go “viral” (yuck) and the most connected maxed out sharing models and of course the security and standards guys telling you why all of that is a bad idea... it is needlessly complex and everyone ends up compromising their “vision” and not feeling good about&nbsp;it.</p> <p>None of this is in service of the user or "the game" you are trying to play, the balance is hopelessly&nbsp;off.</p> <p>In pretty much any run of the mill startup a balance, maybe not the right balance, is forced by scarce resources. In good startups product managers, <a href="http://steveblank.com/category/customer-development/," title="customer development">customer development</a> and a drive to minimize <a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=IezOirt2n-gC&amp;pg=PA106&amp;lpg=PA106&amp;dq=paul+graham+premature+optimization&amp;source=bl&amp;ots=Kn3AjU2bne&amp;sig=9F80m8G8ysVWvacYSSHt0yl0jhE&amp;hl=en&amp;ei=f-BDTvuqDaiGsgLGt7mzCQ&amp;sa=X&amp;oi=book_result&amp;ct=result&amp;resnum=5&amp;ved=0CDoQ6AEwBA," title="premature optimization">premature optimization</a> keeps the balance in check but as you get bigger and more specialized we need to find a way architect for balance both in the vertical teams and with a product&nbsp;leader.</p> <p>So my question for you in your vertical of specialty no matter what it is, do you find yourself in the ivory tower talking about the leading edge, best possible approach bar none and fight for it to the end... or do you spend a majority of your time on balance like my friends the game devs&nbsp;do?</p> <p>I bet we can tell when we look at the final&nbsp;product.</p> <p>-Ben</p> <p><em>What ways do you build balance into large products? I’d love to hear what works and doesn’t&nbsp;work.</em></p> "The 411 Parable": Make sure you are playing the same game.Ben Hedrington2011-05-03T12:00:00Z2011-05-03T12:00:00Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2011/the-411-parable <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5144/5685361787_0cc83ff642_t.jpg" width="100" height="100" alt="Android Voice Search" /></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p><strong>par·a·ble</strong> A parable is a succinct story, in prose or verse, that illustrates a lesson. <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable" title="Source Wikipedia">[source&nbsp;Wikipedia]</a></p> <p>Hardly a week goes by where a message doesn't arrive in my inbox stating <em>someone</em> has launched <em>something</em> we should have done or at the very least should immediately do now... we are all guilty of that reactionary thinking. When it happens to me I remind myself of what I'll call "The 411 Parable" and take a bit of time and figure out just what is really going on before I&nbsp;react.</p> <h2>The 411&nbsp;Parable</h2> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <p>Some time in 2007 Google announced to the world that <a href="http://www.google.com/goog411/" title="1-800-GOOG-411">1-800-GOOG-411</a> was coming on the scene to save you from using a phone book by letting you to speak to find a local business, a nice simple feature that made your burgeoning mobile life&nbsp;easier. </p> <p>That same day I can imagine in Redmond, WA inside the Microsoft campus an Outlook new mail chime rang... <em>Google launched a 411 service, where is ours?</em> and I am guessing the response was "It's on the list!" and time&nbsp;passed... </p> <p>Sometime in 2009 someone revived the list and <em>thankfully</em> <a href="http://localeze.com/news/newsrelease01271001.aspx" title="found a company they could pay">found a company they could pay</a> to power <a href="http://www.discoverbing.com/mobile/411/index.html" title="Bing 411">Bing 411</a> at launch <a href="http://www.kylekazak.com/localeze-to-fuel-bing-local-bing-411/" title="it was said">it was said</a>...</p> <blockquote> <p>This value-added content should give Microsoft some steady ground to stand on when going head-to-head against Google for the same local&nbsp;space.</p> </blockquote> <p>...nice, I'm sure they were happy to have that feature covered. But just when the "head-to-head" competition was rolling Google announced GOOG-411 was no more... they'd captured all the human speech they needed to train their algorithms and were on to bigger and better things... <em>Huh, voice recognition...&nbsp;algorithms?</em> </p> <p>I thought Google was just disintermediating that darn phone&nbsp;book?</p> <h2>Short&nbsp;story...</h2> <p>Take the time to understand what is driving moves... <em>Make sure you are playing the same game,</em> playing at the surface will leave you with nothing but a big bunch of yellow "disintermediated" paper as your "competitor" blows past&nbsp;you. </p> <h2>Insult to&nbsp;Injury</h2> <p>Oh and just so you know, in 2007 right around the same time GOOG-411 launched Microsoft had <a href="http://techcrunch.com/2007/03/14/microsoft-acquires-tellme/" title="acquired TellMe">acquired TellMe</a> for a tidy sum, they were one of the biggest players in the voice recognition space <a href="http://redeye.firstround.com/2007/04/google_wants_yo.html" title="10 billion utterances">at the time that had captured over "10 billion utterances"</a>, Google was starting largely from scratch... just today I "wrote" the first paragraph of this post by speaking into my Android phone, thanks GOOG-411 for playing a bigger&nbsp;game.</p> <p>-Ben</p> Android Browser Emulator - Test your site on a Nexus S or Xoom Tablet right on your PC.Ben Hedrington2011-04-17T12:00:00Z2011-04-17T12:00:00Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2011/android-browser-emulator-windows-7-nexus-s-xoom-tablet <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5264/5629753572_61f439d471_m.jpg" width="239" height="240" alt="Android Browser Emulator - Windows 7, Nexus S, Xoom Tablet" /></div> <p>In late 2008 I <a href="/blog/2008/android-sdk-browser-test-emulator-pc-google" title="Android 1.1 Emulator">put together a post</a> that helped get the early Android SDK up and running as a simple browser emulator beacause I believed getting easier access to modern mobile browsers for the web development and design community was becoming a&nbsp;necessity. </p> <blockquote><p>Browser testing is critical to any web developer, designer… really any web professional. You need to know how your users or customers are seeing your work through the multitude of browsers and devices available to them, new ones become available every day. - <a href="/blog/2008/android-sdk-browser-test-emulator-pc-google">Ben Hedrington,&nbsp;2008</a></p></blockquote> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p>Well it's 2011 and to say a lot has changed in mobile would be putting it lightly, thankfully much of it played out in the way I had hoped back then. I'm seeing <a href="http://m.bestbuy.com" title="Best Buy Mobile Web">my work related Mobile projects</a> growing like crazy and it's no longer just an iPhone world, <a href="http://gigaom.com/apple/iphone-flat-in-u-s-as-android-takes-market-share-lead/" title="iPhone Flat in U.S. as Android Takes Market Share Lead">Android is everywhere</a> and even more of a necessity for any&nbsp;website. </p> <p>Time to re-hash setting up an Android emulator on your Windows PC (Mac and Linux, my personal desktops of choice, coming soon...) this time let's emulate the current best of breed the <strong>Nexus S</strong> and throw in a <strong>Xoom (Honeycomb) tablet</strong> for good testing&nbsp;measure.</p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <h2>Let's get&nbsp;started...</h2> <p>We'll need to download and run two&nbsp;installers.</p> <p>First lets grab and <strong>install the Java SE Development Kit (JDK)</strong> you'll need to choose the right one for your machine <a href="http://download.oracle.com/otn-pub/java/jdk/6u25-b06/jdk-6u25-windows-i586.exe" title="JDK Windows 7 32-bit">Windows 7 32-bit</a> or <a href="http://download.oracle.com/otn-pub/java/jdk/6u25-b06/jdk-6u25-windows-x64.exe" title="JDK Windows 7 64-bit">Windows 7 64-bit</a>. If you don't know your "bits" <a href="http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-vista/32-bit-and-64-bit-Windows-frequently-asked-questions#" title="Windows 7 32 or 64 bit?">here is how to find out</a>.</p> <p>Once you have it, <strong>install it</strong>. All the defaults will be&nbsp;fine.</p> <p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/5629172689/" title="Android Browser Emulator - Windows 7, Nexus S, Xoom Tablet by hedrinbc, on Flickr"><img alt="Android Browser Emulator - Windows 7, Nexus S, Xoom Tablet" src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5302/5629172689_8b2bd3be78.jpg" /></a></p> <p>Next we will <strong>download the <a href="http://developer.android.com/sdk/index.html" title="Android SDK">latest Android SDK</a></strong> grab the recommended Windows "installer" version for simplicity sake. <strong>Install it.</strong> Again the defaults will be&nbsp;fine.</p> <p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/5629754124/" title="Android Browser Emulator - Windows 7, Nexus S, Xoom Tablet by hedrinbc, on Flickr"><img alt="Android Browser Emulator - Windows 7, Nexus S, Xoom Tablet" src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5145/5629754124_248aed1fe9.jpg" /></a></p> <p>Once the Android SDK installer finishes make sure the <em>Start SDK Manager</em> checkbox is checked and <strong>click Finish</strong>.</p> <p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/5629173441/" title="Android Browser Emulator - Windows 7, Nexus S, Xoom Tablet by hedrinbc, on Flickr"><img alt="Android Browser Emulator - Windows 7, Nexus S, Xoom Tablet" src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5305/5629173441_7175d2355c.jpg" /></a></p> <p><strong>SDK Manager will launch</strong> if disk space is not an issue I suggest just <strong>downloading and accepting all packages</strong> so you will have every Android version at your disposal in the future. <strong>Click Install</strong> and wait a bit for your downloads to&nbsp;complete.</p> <p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/5629754816/" title="Android Browser Emulator - Windows 7, Nexus S, Xoom Tablet by hedrinbc, on Flickr"><img alt="Android Browser Emulator - Windows 7, Nexus S, Xoom Tablet" src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5141/5629754816_9bb8cfa63d.jpg" /></a></p> <p>All our software is now installed, let's create some Android&nbsp;emulators.</p> <h2>Creating a Nexus S&nbsp;Emulator...</h2> <p><strong>Click Virtual&nbsp;devices.</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/5629755110/" title="Android Browser Emulator - Windows 7, Nexus S, Xoom Tablet by hedrinbc, on Flickr"><img alt="Android Browser Emulator - Windows 7, Nexus S, Xoom Tablet" src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5228/5629755110_18dd3a590f.jpg" /></a></p> <p><strong>Enter a name</strong> no spaces, slashes or special characters allowed. <strong>Choose Android 2.3.3</strong> in the Target field. Put <strong>128 in the Size field.</strong> Create the Android Virtual Device <strong>click Create AVD</strong>.</p> <p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/5629755302/" title="Android Browser Emulator - Windows 7, Nexus S, Xoom Tablet by hedrinbc, on Flickr"><img alt="Android Browser Emulator - Windows 7, Nexus S, Xoom Tablet" src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5221/5629755302_83ea64859f.jpg" /></a></p> <p><strong>Double click your new Nexus S AVD.</strong> I usually <strong>check Scale display...</strong> and choose <em>3 or 4</em> (inches). <strong>Click&nbsp;Launch.</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/5629755478/" title="Android Browser Emulator - Windows 7, Nexus S, Xoom Tablet by hedrinbc, on Flickr"><img alt="Android Browser Emulator - Windows 7, Nexus S, Xoom Tablet" src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5307/5629755478_28ccdbd587.jpg" /></a></p> <p>Success! <strong>Unlock</strong> your new&nbsp;"phone."</p> <p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/5629755690/" title="Android Browser Emulator - Windows 7, Nexus S, Xoom Tablet by hedrinbc, on Flickr"><img alt="Android Browser Emulator - Windows 7, Nexus S, Xoom Tablet" src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5221/5629755690_17cd6fabb1.jpg" /></a></p> <p><strong>Launch the Browser</strong> icon (the globe near the bottom of the&nbsp;screen).</p> <p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/5629755936/" title="Android Browser Emulator - Windows 7, Nexus S, Xoom Tablet by hedrinbc, on Flickr"><img alt="Android Browser Emulator - Windows 7, Nexus S, Xoom Tablet" src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5147/5629755936_5ef1372e99.jpg" /></a></p> <p><strong>Type in the URL</strong> of the site you'd like to test... and you are in&nbsp;business.</p> <p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/5629756162/" title="Android Browser Emulator - Windows 7, Nexus S, Xoom Tablet by hedrinbc, on Flickr"><img alt="Android Browser Emulator - Windows 7, Nexus S, Xoom Tablet" src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5070/5629756162_f2f1c558f8.jpg" /></a></p> <h2>Extra Credit: Let's make a Xoom (Honeycomb) Tablet&nbsp;Emulator</h2> <p><strong>Create the Xoom AVD</strong>, the <strong>Target for a Honeycomb Tablet is "Android 3.0"</strong> the rest you can figure&nbsp;out.</p> <p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/5629756368/" title="Android Browser Emulator - Windows 7, Nexus S, Xoom Tablet by hedrinbc, on Flickr"><img alt="Android Browser Emulator - Windows 7, Nexus S, Xoom Tablet" src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5109/5629756368_c374e0c0f6.jpg" /></a></p> <p><strong>Start it up</strong>, I launched it at 10&nbsp;inches.</p> <p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/5629175417/" title="Android Browser Emulator - Windows 7, Nexus S, Xoom Tablet by hedrinbc, on Flickr"><img alt="Android Browser Emulator - Windows 7, Nexus S, Xoom Tablet" src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5265/5629175417_0da93dffb2.jpg" /></a></p> <p><strong>Click Apps</strong> near the top of your new tablet's screen. <strong>Launch&nbsp;Browser.</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/5629756800/" title="Android Browser Emulator - Windows 7, Nexus S, Xoom Tablet by hedrinbc, on Flickr"><img alt="Android Browser Emulator - Windows 7, Nexus S, Xoom Tablet" src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5261/5629756800_338a2ffcba.jpg" /></a></p> <p><strong>Enter your URL</strong> and test your site in all its tablet goodness.&nbsp;:)</p> <p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/5629756970/" title="Android Browser Emulator - Windows 7, Nexus S, Xoom Tablet by hedrinbc, on Flickr"><img alt="Android Browser Emulator - Windows 7, Nexus S, Xoom Tablet" src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5108/5629756970_6ed58e6dbf.jpg" /></a></p> <p>Hope this tutorial helps some of you get your sites ready for the mobile and tablet revolution.&nbsp;-Ben</p> Playing with stickers: Writing NFC Tags with Google's Android Nexus SBen Hedrington2011-04-15T12:00:00Z2011-04-15T12:00:00Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2011/nfc-tag-sticker-writing-programming-google-android-nexus-s <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5070/5623354830_a33815e777_m.jpg" width="240" height="226" alt="NFC Tag Programming with Google's Android Nexus S" /></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p><strong>near field com·mu·ni·ca·tion</strong> Near Field Communication or NFC, is a short-range high frequency wireless communication technology which enables the exchange of data between devices over about a 10 centimetre (around 4 inches) distance... <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near_Field_Communication" title="Source Wikipedia">[source&nbsp;Wikipedia]</a></p> <p>As you all know NFC is the new hip way to bridge from the physical world to your mobile device... and the only way to understand something is to play with it right?&nbsp;Right. </p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <h2>Here we&nbsp;go...</h2> <p>First things first, you are going to need to get some <a href="http://www.tagage.net/tagage-shop/" title="NFC stickers">NFC stickers</a> in the mail coming your way. I found mine at <a href="http://www.tagage.net/" title="TagAge">TagAge</a> in Finland so even more reason to get your order in early for their trip&nbsp;overseas. </p> <p>Next you are going to need access to a <a href="http://androidandme.com/2011/02/phones/nexus-s-receives-update-to-android-2-3-3-adds-new-nfc-features-random-reboot-bug-remains/" title="Google Nexus S runnning Android 2.3.3">Google Nexus S runnning Android 2.3.3</a> once you've secured that jump to the Android Market and <a href="https://market.android.com/details?id=com.nxp.nfc.tagwriter" title="install NXP Tagwriter">install NXP Tagwriter</a> from NXP Semiconductor. Believe it or not that was the hard part, now follow the simple steps in the app and you can program any writable NFC tag you come&nbsp;across.</p> <p>An <strong>NFC tag</strong> beautiful, clean and&nbsp;new.</p> <p><img alt="NFC - buildconext.com - Ben Hedrington" src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5143/5623338126_37b84967f4.jpg" title="NFC - buildconext.com - Ben Hedrington" /></p> <p>Open up the <a href="https://market.android.com/details?id=com.nxp.nfc.tagwriter" title="NXP Tagwriter">NXP Tagwriter</a> Android app, choose <strong>Create</strong></p> <p><img alt="NFC - buildconext.com - Ben Hedrington" src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5225/5623338338_7ddc9b3e23.jpg" title="NFC - buildconext.com - Ben Hedrington" /></p> <p>I went with a <strong>URL</strong> for my first tag and then <strong>typed in my blog's URL</strong>.</p> <p><img alt="NFC - buildconext.com - Ben Hedrington" src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5187/5622751003_06dfb0fe3c.jpg" title="NFC - buildconext.com - Ben Hedrington" /></p> <p>Hold your <strong>phone over the blank tag</strong>.</p> <p><img alt="NFC - buildconext.com - Ben Hedrington" src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5266/5623338614_956a246dc2.jpg" title="NFC - buildconext.com - Ben Hedrington" /></p> <p><strong>Success!</strong> </p> <p><img alt="NFC - buildconext.com - Ben Hedrington" src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5309/5622751275_591d2e504b.jpg" title="NFC - buildconext.com - Ben Hedrington" /></p> <p>Now exit the app and <strong>return to the Android home</strong> screen. (The phone needs to be <strong>unlocked</strong> unlike the&nbsp;picture.)</p> <p><img alt="NFC - buildconext.com - Ben Hedrington" src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5109/5622750799_c571b58669.jpg" title="NFC - buildconext.com - Ben Hedrington" /></p> <p>Place your <strong>phone over the NFC tag</strong>, <em>ding</em> <strong>new tag collected</strong>! <strong>Click the URL</strong> you just received from the NFC&nbsp;tag...</p> <p><img alt="NFC - buildconext.com - Ben Hedrington" src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5027/5623338898_d450431696.jpg" title="NFC - buildconext.com - Ben Hedrington" /></p> <p><strong>Success</strong>!</p> <p><img alt="NFC - buildconext.com - Ben Hedrington" src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5262/5623338992_67c24440a4.jpg" title="NFC - buildconext.com - Ben Hedrington" /></p> <p>Happy NFC tag writing, let me know what kind of interesting uses for the tags you come up with.&nbsp;-Ben</p> Google TV plus Ubuntu: The making of a simple powerful media server a family can actually use.Ben Hedrington2011-01-01T12:00:00Z2011-01-01T12:00:00Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2011/google-tv-ubuntu-media-server-dlna-minidlna-simple <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" src="/media/img/posts/google-tv-ubuntu-dlna.jpg" width="160" height="170" alt="Ubuntu DLNA Media Server Google TV" /></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p>I've built bulky, ugly, noisy <em>purpose built media computers</em> and wedged it and a few other media player devices that shall remain nameless under my slim sleek HDTV all aiming to push network/web video and web browsing to my TV... unfortunately it always ends up unwieldy and a bit of a&nbsp;hack. </p> <p>Worse would the family even try to touch it? Never. It might as well have been a paperweight... but "it was a whole computer" I would say "just think of <em>all the things we can do</em>"... <em>that</em> was exactly the problem...&nbsp;complexity.</p> <h2>Enter Google&nbsp;TV</h2> <p>Enter <a href="http://www.google.com/tv/" title="Google TV">Google TV</a> specifically the <a href="http://www.logitech.com/en-us/smartTV" title="Logitech Revue">Logitech Revue</a>... nice and small, custom thin keyboard with trackpad (always an issue when building your own HTPC), powerful enough and nearly silent, a very solid web browser Google Chrome and support for DLNA basically making it a slim front-end for a media sever... oh and for my kids, one click TV to <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jc20vMz0V7Q" title="Hilarious Elmo and Ricky Gervais video!">YouTube videos of Elmo and such</a>...&nbsp;Sold.</p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <h2>Bring in the Ubuntu Media&nbsp;Server</h2> <p>So at my house we are nearly all Ubuntu, especially on the network side, we keep our files, video, years of pictures and music. The Google TV has a media player installed right when you boot it, it supports the <a href="http://www.dlna.org/products/" title="DLNA Product Search">DLNA standard like many of the connected devices we purchase today</a>. </p> <p>Needless to say sometimes getting new software on your Ubuntu box to play nice isn't easy, that's not really Ubuntu's fault some of the packages are not all at the same level of completeness yet or occasionally not maintained at all any more. So to save you a couple hours of trial and error, there are a lot of packages out there and blog posts about how to tweak those packages, here is a solid and simple solution for DLNA on Ubuntu for your Google TV or really any DLNA powered media&nbsp;consumer.</p> <h2>Simple DLNA Media Serving on&nbsp;Ubuntu</h2> <p><strong>Download the latest MiniDLNA</strong> ('static' not 'src') from <a href="http://sourceforge.net/projects/minidlna/files/minidlna/" title="MiniDLNA on Sourceforge">http://sourceforge.net/projects/minidlna/files/minidlna/</a></p> <p><strong>Extract the&nbsp;files:</strong></p> <div class="code"><div class="highlight"><pre><span></span>tar -zxvf <span class="o">[</span>The MiniDLNA archive you downloaded<span class="o">]</span>.tar.gz<br /></pre></div><br /></div> <p><strong>Move the files to the right&nbsp;home:</strong></p> <div class="code"><div class="highlight"><pre><span></span><span class="nb">cd</span> <span class="o">[</span>Where you extracted the tar.gz<span class="o">]</span><br />sudo cp -R ./usr/* /usr/<br />sudo cp ./etc/minidlna.conf /etc/<br /></pre></div><br /></div> <p><strong>Configure minidlna.conf&nbsp;file.</strong></p> <div class="code"><div class="highlight"><pre><span></span>sudo nano /etc/minidlna.conf<br /></pre></div><br /></div> <p><strong>Change these settings.</strong> <strong>Set your file directories A=Audio, P=Pictures and&nbsp;V=Video.</strong></p> <div class="code"><div class="highlight"><pre><span></span><span class="nv">media_dir</span><span class="o">=</span>A,/mnt/data/music<br /><span class="nv">media_dir</span><span class="o">=</span>P,/mnt/data/camera<br /><span class="nv">media_dir</span><span class="o">=</span>V,/mnt/data/videos<br /></pre></div><br /></div> <p><strong>Name your&nbsp;server.</strong></p> <div class="code"><div class="highlight"><pre><span></span><span class="nv">friendly_name</span><span class="o">=</span>Hedrington-Media<br /></pre></div><br /></div> <p><strong> Ctrl-X and save the&nbsp;file.</strong></p> <h2>All set... start it&nbsp;up!</h2> <div class="code"><div class="highlight"><pre><span></span>/usr/sbin/minidlna -f /etc/minidlna.conf<br /></pre></div><br /></div> <h2>Ubuntu backing for any DLNA&nbsp;device!</h2> <p>Start up your Google TV or really any other DLNA device and go to the Media Player, you should see your files right there and ready to play! It just works, same controls, nothing extra to turn on, log into or&nbsp;learn.</p> <p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/5313263760/" title="Success - Google TV, DLNA, Ubuntu Media Server!"><img alt="Success - Google TV, DLNA, Ubuntu Media Server!" src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5285/5313263760_4b9cddd340.jpg" /></a></p> <p>MiniDLNA is the simplest and best answer I have found to powering your media server and staying in the free and open source software world. Give it a&nbsp;shot!</p> <h2>Thanks</h2> <p>Special thanks to <a href="http://sourceforge.net/users/jmaggard" title="Justin Maggard on Sourceforge">jmaggard</a> and <a href="http://www.netgear.com/business/products/storage/" title="ReadyNAS Products MiniDLNA was developed for.">NETGEAR</a> for making MiniDLNA happen and making it available to the open source&nbsp;community!</p> Mobile Commerce Daily: Best Buy takes third place 2010 Mobile Retailer of the YearBen Hedrington2010-10-15T22:07:29Z2010-10-15T22:07:29Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2010/best-buy-takes-third-place-2010-mobile-retailer-of-the-year-mobile-commerce-daily <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4106/5187348886_3a83f6a8cd_m.jpg" width="96" height="240" alt="Best Buy Mobile" /></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p> Today <a href="http://www.mobilecommercedaily.com/best-buy-takes-third-place-2010-mobile-retailer-of-the-year/">Mobile Commerce Daily</a> reports that our Mobile efforts at Best Buy rank third in a retailer of the year race they held for 2010. We are excited for all the positive words and promise we are getting ever more sharp on our customer focus and there is a lot more to come in the next&nbsp;year! </p> <p> <a href="http://www.mobilecommercedaily.com/best-buy-takes-third-place-2010-mobile-retailer-of-the-year/">Mobile Commerce Daily: Best Buy takes third place: 2010 Mobile Retailer of the&nbsp;Year</a> </p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <blockquote> <p> Best Buy has taken third place in the 2010 Mobile Retailer of the Year awards due to its all-round excellence in mobile marketing and commerce, offering a strategy that is worthy of&nbsp;emulation. </p> <p> There were many worthy candidates, but based on the nominations received from readers and submissions from this publication’s editorial team, Mobile Commerce Daily is convinced that Best Buy serves as a role model for retailers and merchants for its outstanding use of&nbsp;mobile. </p> <p> “As a retailer we see a lot of benefits from getting a lot of more open, trusted information into customers’ hands by letting them use a mobile phone to get access to customer reviews and ratings from people like themselves,” said Ben Hedrington, director of mobile and Web strategy for emerging platforms at Best Buy, Minneapolis. “We want to reinvent ourselves as a connected retailer, offering the best of the Web and upgradiing our store by using these digital platforms and mobile apps—that is a&nbsp;priority. </p> <p> “We’re not just focused on phones, but also tablets and connected TVs, and we think about all of these connected devices in the same breath as mobile,” he said. “We’re thinking about it more in terms of portability in general, rather than just the mobile&nbsp;phone. </p> <p> “We’re definitely looking at impressive growth in&nbsp;mobile.” </p> <p> <a href="http://www.mobilecommercedaily.com/best-buy-takes-third-place-2010-mobile-retailer-of-the-year/">Read the rest of the article ></a> </p> </blockquote> Turning off HTC Sense UI on the HTC EVO 4G, Incredible and similar Android phones.Ben Hedrington2010-05-23T12:24:00Z2010-05-23T12:24:00Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2010/turning-off-htc-sense-ui-senseui-htc-evo-4g-incredible-android-phones <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3383/4632234211_3212b7b1b0_m.jpg" width="168" height="240" alt="Android" /></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p> If you are lucky enough to have one of the new smoking fast, beautiful Android phones from HTC the Incredible or the EVO 4G you have little to complain about... but... well... some of us just aren't in love with that HTC Sense&nbsp;UI... </p> <p> Is a more standard Android experience is what you want? Well it's only a few settings&nbsp;away. </p> <p> Below is the stock Sense UI home screen on my HTC EVO 4G (with a custom background only.) Let's get rid of&nbsp;it! </p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <h3>Just a few quick&nbsp;steps...</h3> <table> <tr> <td class="shot"><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/4631360507/" title="01 by hedrinbc, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4029/4631360507_188cff3fc4_m.jpg" width="144" height="240" alt="01" /></a></td> <td class="directions"> Press the <span class="do">Menu</span> button. <!--more--> </td> </tr> <tr> <td class="shot"><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/4631360501/" title="02 by hedrinbc, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4033/4631360501_30214ab4b9_m.jpg" width="144" height="240" alt="02" /></a></td> <td class="directions"> Press <span class="do">Settings</span>. </td> </tr> <tr> <td class="shot"><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/4631360499/" title="03 by hedrinbc, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4025/4631360499_7e4ce024f7_m.jpg" width="144" height="240" alt="03" /></a></td> <td class="directions"> Choose <span class="do">Applications</span>. </td> </tr> <tr> <td class="shot"><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/4631358855/" title="04 by hedrinbc, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4017/4631358855_df0e08f896_m.jpg" width="144" height="240" alt="04" /></a></td> <td class="directions"> Expand <span class="do">Manage Applications</span>. </td> </tr> <tr> <td class="shot"><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/4631358853/" title="05 by hedrinbc, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4023/4631358853_d79558ac12_m.jpg" width="144" height="240" alt="05" /></a></td> <td class="directions"> Wait for the application names to load, scroll down and select <span class="do">HTC Sense</span>. </td> </tr> <tr> <td class="shot"><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/4631358851/" title="06 by hedrinbc, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4050/4631358851_fa45110759_m.jpg" width="144" height="240" alt="06" /></a></td> <td class="directions"> Press the <span class="do">Clear defaults</span> button. </td> </tr> <tr> <td class="shot"><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/4631358841/" title="08 by hedrinbc, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3340/4631358841_9bd5e31c4c_m.jpg" width="144" height="240" alt="08" /></a></td> <td class="directions"> Now press the <span class="do">Home</span> button on your phone. <span class="do">Check "Use by default..."</span> ...and then choose <span class="do">Launcher</span>. </td> </tr> <tr> <td class="shot"><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/4631358839/" title="09 by hedrinbc, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4060/4631358839_9ebcf94f66_m.jpg" width="144" height="240" alt="09" /></a></td> <td class="directions"> There you go, your new smoking fast phone in a more native Android flavor. Enjoy! -Ben </td> </tr> </table> <p><br /> <br /> Wow... 'spy' Plays a Small Part in Helping Volcano Stranded TravelersBen Hedrington2010-04-19T08:27:29Z2010-04-19T08:27:29Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2010/wow-spy-help-iceland-volcano-stranded-travellers <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2711/4534211774_b8485413c6_m.jpg" width="180" height="178" alt="Eyjafjallajokull Iceland Volcano" /><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/sverrir_thor/" class="attr">Photo: Sverrir Thor</a></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p> It's so humbling to see simple social networking tools like <a href="http://spy.appspot.com">spy</a> which I <a href="http://www.buildcontext.com/blog/2008/08/05/social-media-spectator-sport-or-why-created-spy-appspot-com/">created on a whim</a> be discovered and serve purposes on a level I never would have anticipated. I first saw this when people found and used <a href="http://www.buildcontext.com/blog/2008/11/27/spy-mumbai-floored-help-spyappspotcom/">spy during the crisis in Mumbai</a> but just today I&nbsp;discovered... </p> <p> <h3><span class="quo">'</span>spy'ing on Volcano Stranded&nbsp;Travelers?</h3> It seems the almost 1000 members of <a href="http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=111731495524306&v=wall">When Volcanoes Erupt: A Survival Guide for Stranded Travelers</a> on Facebook are sharing and using a <a href="http://spy.appspot.com/find/getmehome">link to spy for the hash tag #getmehome</a>. If this tool helps just one person get where they need to safely I am more than&nbsp;ecstatic. </p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <p> <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/4534277965/" title="spy_volcano_4 by hedrinbc, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2793/4534277965_dcc0369990.jpg" width="325" height="500" alt="spy_volcano_4" /></a> </p> <p> <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/4534893700/" title="spy_volcano_2 by hedrinbc, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4021/4534893700_9bc13ce4c7.jpg" width="500" height="326" alt="spy_volcano_2" /></a> </p> <p> <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/4534893704/" title="spy_volcano_3 by hedrinbc, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4023/4534893704_5c1a797a4c.jpg" width="500" height="375" alt="spy_volcano_3" /></a> </p> Building on the Open Web for the future... there isn't an App for that.Ben Hedrington2010-01-21T10:35:29Z2010-01-21T10:35:29Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2010/building-on-the-open-web-for-the-future-there-isnt-an-app-for-that <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2283/2199466357_3df367a6ea_m.jpg" height="183" alt="Scott Beale / Laughing Squid" width="240" /><a href="http://laughingsquid.com/" class="attr">Photo: Scott Beale / Laughing Squid</a></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p>There is an interesting article I picked up today in Fast Company that quickly and succinctly cuts to the point of what these critical moves forward on the Web mean for the future. Counter intuitive to the folks very wrapped up in the "There's an App for That" mindset comes this article <a href="http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/142/killer-apps.html">Killer Apps: Why App Stores Are Not the Business Model for the 21st Century</a> which brings to the forefront the fallacies that every company creating, and more over controlling, an App Store concept for their business will lead to a nirvana of beautiful, useful devices and software for our collective&nbsp;future.</p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <p><p><span style="font-size: xx-small;"><a href="http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/142/killer-apps.html">All quotes from the&nbsp;article.</a></span></p> <blockquote class="posterous_short_quote"> <p>In the age of the Web, developers can get their programs to end users without anyone intervening, so locked-down software sales will always be going against the&nbsp;grain.</p> </blockquote> <blockquote class="posterous_medium_quote"> <p>...the App Store's true rival isn't a competing app marketplace. Rather, it's the open, developer-friendly Web. When Apple rejected Google Latitude, the search company's nearby-friend-mapping program, developers created a nearly identical version that works perfectly on the iPhone's Web browser. Google looks to be doing something similar with Voice, another app that Apple barred from its&nbsp;store.</p> </blockquote> <p>Too many times in the Apple App Store's short life has controversy over gatekeeping cropped up, this generally isn't when Johnny Developer wants to deploy his 1,000th copy of a flashlight app to the App Store but when truly disruptive, innovative ideas are hatched, for instance Google Voice, that disintermediate Apple or its carrier partners from something they currently completely&nbsp;control.</p> <p>Continuing to increase what is possible on the web, like HTML5 and it's related technologies are doing, ensure Apple or any other device or connectivity company will not define how technology effects our lives. Google Voice is a huge boon to how I use my phone and how people contact me from the transcription of messages to the transparent ringing of multiples lines... My Android phone let's me choose this time and sanity saving work flow for myself, Apple says my phone will work the way they want it to and AT&amp;T says the data they choose will flow over their&nbsp;pipes.</p> <blockquote class="posterous_short_quote"> <p>Apple's app bonanza won't end anytime&nbsp;soon...</p> </blockquote> <p>Yes... I'm not crazy, things generally don't just appear, get wildly popular and then disappear completely. The Apple App Store will serve iPhone users as long as the iPhone&nbsp;exists...</p> <blockquote class="posterous_medium_quote"> <p>...but you'd be a fool to ignore the long-term trend in software -- away from incompatible platforms and restrictive programming regimes, and toward write-once, run-anywhere code that works on a variety of devices, without interference from middlemen. As different kinds of mobile devices hit the market, from phones to tablet PCs to smartpens to e-book readers and beyond, developers will find that trend harder to ignore. They'll need to create programs that can work not just on iPhones but on&nbsp;everything...</p> </blockquote> <blockquote class="posterous_short_quote"> <p>Fortunately, there's an app for that: It's called the&nbsp;Web.</p> </blockquote> <p><span class="quo">'</span>Nuff&nbsp;said.</p><p style="font-size: 14px;"> Posted from <a href="http://appliedhtml5.com/building-on-the-open-web-is-building-for-the">AppliedHTML5</a> </p> Early Experiments with Web SocketsBen Hedrington2010-01-20T14:09:29Z2010-01-20T14:09:29Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2010/early-experiments-with-web-sockets-3 <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4031/4285724760_a97c9abc4e_m.jpg" height="240" alt="z6p6tist6" width="240" /><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/z6p6tist6/500048151/" class="attr">Photo: z6p6tist6</a></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_Sockets">Web Sockets </a>are set to revolutionize the way the "real time web" works, today most websites use <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ajax_%28programming%29">AJAX</a> as a way to fake a real time dynamic experience... think a stream of Twitter tweets popping up relating to a current event. AJAX approaches that try to get to the "real time" end are similar to a kid riding in the back seat on a long driving vaction with their parents "Are we there yet?... Are we there now?... How about now?" constantly pinging their data sources asking if something changed. Web Sockets aim to change all that and simplify it for web users and developers across all web browsers and devices that contain them think Mobile devices, televisions, nearly anything with a screen in the future... you have to love open&nbsp;standards!</p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <p><p>The <a href="http://dev.w3.org/html5/websockets/">Web Sockets API</a> creates real time two way communications between a server and the end user allowing streaming of information back and forth just like a desktop application in real time without the waste of the current AJAX approach either checking too often when nothing has changed or potentially missing a new message between its checks the Web Socket will only transfer data when&nbsp;needed.</p> <h3>Well... Are we there&nbsp;yet?</h3> <p>We are not quite there yet, Web Sockets will require support on the server side and the client side but in my view both are progressing nicely. Here is a run down of the early Web Socket server side tool kits I could&nbsp;find.</p> <p> <ul> <li>Python</li> <li><a href="http://code.google.com/p/pywebsocket/">http://code.google.com/p/pywebsocket/</a></li> <li>Ruby</li> <li><a href="http://www.igvita.com/2009/12/22/ruby-websockets-tcp-for-the-browser/">http://www.igvita.com/2009/12/22/ruby-websockets-tcp-for-the-browser/</a></li> <li>PHP</li> <li><a href="http://code.google.com/p/phpwebsocket/">http://code.google.com/p/phpwebsocket/</a></li> <li>JavaScript</li> <li><a href="http://github.com/gimite/web-socket-js">http://github.com/gimite/web-socket-js</a> (Powered by Flash as a&nbsp;fallback)</li> <li>Erlang</li> <li><a href="http://armstrongonsoftware.blogspot.com/2009/12/comet-is-dead-long-live-websockets.html">http://armstrongonsoftware.blogspot.com/2009/12/comet-is-dead-long-live-websockets.html</a></li> </ul> </p> <h3>Browser&nbsp;Support</h3> <p>Web Sockets are currently supported in the <a href="http://blog.chromium.org/2009/12/web-sockets-now-available-in-google.html">developer releases of Google Chrome</a> and will <a href="https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=472529">soon be available in Mozilla FireFox</a>.</p> <h3>I think I've heard of this before... Is this&nbsp;new?</h3> <p>There are many players in this space trying to make real time information to the browser possible some names you may have heard are Comet, Ajax Push, and Ajax long polling (as I discussed earlier). I found a great post for the more technical among us that helps you decipher the differences in these protocols for further reading on the&nbsp;topic.</p> <p><a href="http://www.infoq.com/news/2008/12/websockets-vs-comet-ajax">HTML 5 Web Sockets vs. Comet and&nbsp;Ajax</a></p> <p style="font-size: 14px;"> Posted from <a href="http://appliedhtml5.com/early-experiments-with-web-sockets">AppliedHTML5</a> </p> Experiment: Browser Based Geolocation - HTML5 Points the Future of the WebBen Hedrington2010-01-05T20:13:29Z2010-01-05T20:13:29Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2010/browser-based-geolocation-experiment-powerful-mobile-web-html5 <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4031/4248624487_27568e56d8_m.jpg" width="240" height="171" alt="Android Geolocation" /></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p> The adoption of <a href="http://diveintohtml5.org/">HTML5</a> and its surrounding cast of powerful new features is going to be a huge boon to web users and points towards a very positive direction for the future of the web. From the smoother interfaces of <a href="http://diveintohtml5.org/detect.html#canvas">canvas</a>, <a href="http://diveintohtml5.org/detect.html#storage">local storage</a> enabling offline modes for online email programs and the like seamlessly, online <a href="http://diveintohtml5.org/detect.html#video">video</a> free of dependencies like Flash, <a href="ww.w3.org/TR/2009/WD-websockets-20091222/">web sockets</a> making the real time web a breeze without all the current AJAX workarounds, and so much more but I'll save all of those for future&nbsp;posts.... </p> <p> Today I wanted to finish up and release an experiment using the HTML5 <a href="http://diveintohtml5.org/detect.html#geolocation">Geolocation</a> feature (<a href="#technically">sticklers, click here</a>), a feature allowing your web browser (with your permission of course) to share your location, enabling any current website to tailor itself right to where you are... a powerful feature for todays increasingly mobile web&nbsp;user. </p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <p> <h3>Why is This&nbsp;Important?</h3> Today this level of convenience, all the applications you use every day seamlessly knowing where you are, is unheard of for the user as well as the web developer outside of proprietary built "apps" on iPhone or Android you need to seek out and download. But little do most people know those web browsers in their pockets on those same devices can do this today, opening the playing field of a personal local experience up to the entire web... no downloads, no waiting, no device&nbsp;lock-in. </p> <p> <h3>The&nbsp;Experiment</h3> My experiment started with a simple need, in the summer I drive a Jeep to work with a soft top and I prefer to have it down as much as possible, I mean sun in Minnesota only happens for a short stint i need to suck it up. What I needed was a simple view of the current temperature, maybe a radar map to look for any rain on the map coming my direction, not a huge list. In the early summer I quickly built a one page HTML and JavaScript mashup using <a href="http://jquery.com/">jQuery</a>, <a href="http://diveintohtml5.org/">HTML5</a> (or <a href="http://gears.google.com/">Google Gears</a> as a fallback) and the <a href="http://www.wunderground.com/">Weather Underground</a> <a href="http://wiki.wunderground.com/index.php/API_-_XML">API</a> to build a web page that did just that, polished it up a bit (let's call it a working prototype as of today) and hosted it on <a href="http://code.google.com/appengine/">Google App Engine</a> purely for worry free scalability to <a href="http://www.bctx.info/wx">show it</a> to you&nbsp;all. </p> <p> <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/4249394268/" title="Android, iPhone Geolocation Weather GEO"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2670/4249394268_cbd989b1a5.jpg" width="500" height="370" alt="Android, iPhone Geolocation Weather GEO" /></a> </p> <p> Initially on load my experiment "<a href="http://www.bctx.info/wx">Weather GEO</a>" asks if I want to share my location, of course I select yes, <!--more-->this allows my browser to pull a location from my GPS, Wifi or internet address depending on what the device sees&nbsp;fit. </p> <p> <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/4249394276/" title="Android, iPhone Geolocation Weather GEO"><img src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4026/4249394276_d5f1a36726.jpg" width="500" height="370" alt="Android, iPhone Geolocation Weather GEO" /></a> </p> <p> It passes that longitude and latitude back to my page's JavaScript I in turn query Weather Underground for the next two forecast elements and a radar map for that longitude and latitude and display them as soon as they come&nbsp;back... </p> <p> <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/4249394278/" title="Android, iPhone Geolocation Weather GEO"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2720/4249394278_3765a984e7.jpg" width="500" height="370" alt="Android, iPhone Geolocation Weather GEO" /></a> </p> <p> Pretty slick... solves a problem in a simple way, just one click from a browser bookmark, no custom proprietary "app" code to build and it will work in every browser when HTML5 is fully adopted, but currently works in the major mobile browsers, Android and iPhone, in FireFox 3.5+ and any browser that has Google Gears on the PC, Mac and Linux... thats more than enough for&nbsp;me. </p> <p> A great example of where the web is going and how progress on open standards like this benefit everyone, give my little experiment a try here <a href="http://www.bctx.info/wx">http://bctx.info/wx</a>. Let me know how it works for you, if your device is passing your proper location and what you think in the comments. Currently I am seeing the Droid have a problem with the code and have posted to the Android Developers Google&nbsp;Group. </p> <p> <a href="http://www.bctx.info/wx" title="Android Geolocation Weather GE"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2502/4248553619_1481c5563d_m.jpg" width="161" height="240" alt="Android Geolocation Weather GE" /></a> </p> <p id="technically">* Ok, technically Geolocation is part of the <a href="http://www.w3.org/2008/geolocation/">W3C Geolocation Working Group</a>, not HTML5 but it will largely be implemented with HTML5 so it really has become part and parcel of the browser based&nbsp;future.</p> A Hands on Post From and About Google's Chrome OSBen Hedrington2009-12-28T21:44:29Z2009-12-28T21:44:29Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2009/hands-on-google-chrome-chromium-os-netbook <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4043/4223458881_96b4b97c30_m.jpg" width="240" height="160" alt=""></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p> In order to get my feet wet with Google's Chrome OS (in it's current developer build state, <a href="http://www.chromium.org/chromium-os">Chromium OS</a> properly) and test a real world workflow with this "web only" device I figured I'd put together a blog post with some photos courtesy my new DSLR never leaving the Chrome "browser" now grown up to an <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operating_system">OS</a>... let's&nbsp;go. </p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <p> <h3>Getting&nbsp;Ready</h3> It wasn't much of a chore to get Chromium OS up and running on my Asus Eee PC 1000HE netbook, I decided to go with <a href="http://twitter.com/hexxeh">@hexxeh</a>'s <a href="http://chromeos.hexxeh.net/">build</a> and run it directly from an SD card rather than <a href="http://www.chromium.org/chromium-os/building-chromium-os">build Chromium OS from source</a> on my Ubuntu box for simplicity's sake. I only had one small hiccup moving <a href="http://chromeos.hexxeh.net/wiki/doku.php?id=linux_instructions">Hexxeh's image file to the SD card in Ubuntu</a> which was cleared up by visiting his wiki, he has instructions for <a href="http://chromeos.hexxeh.net/wiki/doku.php">loading the USB/SD card from Mac and Windows too</a>. </p> <p> <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/4223457447/" title="Chrome OS Login"><img src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4054/4223457447_d92ff90cd3.jpg" width="500" height="333" alt="Chrome OS Login"></a> </p> <p> <h3>Start&nbsp;Up</h3> I booted from the SD card and in less than 10 seconds had a login box, wow... much quicker than my daily stand by <a href="http://www.ubuntu.com/">Ubuntu Desktop</a> and <a href="http://www.canonical.com/projects/ubuntu/unr">Ubuntu Netbook Remix</a>. Currently with most Chromium OS builds the first thing you need to do is <!--more-->log in as an admin user and fire up your wifi before restarting and logging in as yourself with any Google account, no problems here. Once you are logged in the Chromium logo in the top left shows you the menu screen with a nice launcher, it also loads up your GMail and other Google tools for you right off the&nbsp;bat. </p> <p> <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/4224223844/" title="Chrome OS Menu"><img src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4027/4224223844_b84c0ce0df.jpg" width="500" height="333" alt="Chrome OS Menu"></a> </p> <p> <h2>More Than Meets the&nbsp;Eye</h2> <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/4224225366/" title="Chrome OS Card Reader"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2740/4224225366_5bd327b233.jpg" width="500" height="333" alt="Chrome OS Card Reader"></a> </p> <p> The web app I use for photos on this blog is <a href="http://www.flickr.com/">Flickr</a> so I fired it up and popped my memory card into the card reader not knowing exactly how a "web browser" would handle that... not to my surprise but certainly to my delight a slick little content browser popped up auto mounting my card and allowing me to view the files in what else but Chrome. Using Flickr's uploaders on Linux in general is not the prettiest endeavor but it all worked I quickly discovered the ESC key is the key to closing full screen windows and all was&nbsp;well. </p> <p> <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/4224223174/" title="Chrome OS SD Card Content"><img src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4002/4224223174_5acbea1a1c.jpg" width="500" height="333" alt="Chrome OS SD Card Contents"></a> </p> <p> <h3>Conclusion</h3> I easily fired up WordPress and threw together this post of no more than a little geek and eye candy just to see how it all held together and I would say for Chrome OS' current young vintage that things are very well. Hardware support was awesome, no tweaking for me (some of that likely is credit to <a href="http://twitter.com/hexxeh">Hexxeh</a>, thanks!), the software and its all web based workflow work well for the cloud residents like me and I think the simplicity will appeal to the current desktop bound user who's lost files, gotten burned by viruses and simply doesn't have time to understand all the bells and whistles those boxes are now full&nbsp;of... </p> <p> ...I didn't miss semi-transparent flying minimizing windows or things "snapping" to my screen once during the writing of this&nbsp;post. </p> <p> <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/4223459371/" title="Chrome OS"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2738/4223459371_4cf460af86.jpg" width="333" height="500" alt="Chrome OS" /></a> </p> Installing Google Android for Mobile Browser Testing on Mac OS Ben Hedrington2009-11-06T20:36:29Z2009-11-06T20:36:29Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2009/installing-android-sdk-browser-testing-mac-os-x <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2562/4081708274_6d41114678_t.jpg" alt="" width="100" height="100" /></div> <blockquote> <p> Browser testing is critical to any web developer, designer… really any web professional. You need to know how your users or customers are seeing your work through the multitude of browsers and devices available to them, new ones become available every&nbsp;day. </p></blockquote> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p> About a year ago I wrote a <a href="http://www.buildcontext.com/blog/2008/11/21/android-sdk-browser-test-emulator-pc-google/">post</a> walking you through installing the Google Android SDK on your machine to use as a mobile web browser. This time I am doing it on Mac OS X but I might just make a Windows version too if I get a little time... let me know if you'd like to see that&nbsp;happen. </p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <p> Let's get&nbsp;started... </p> <p> <h3>Get the&nbsp;SDK...</h3> <ol> <li>Go to the <a href="http://developer.android.com/sdk/index.html">Android SDK</a>&nbsp;page.</li> <li>Download <a href="http://developer.android.com/sdk/download.html?v=android-sdk_r3-mac.zip">Android SDK for Mac OS X (intel)</a><!--more--></li> <li>Unzip it and move it to the root of your home&nbsp;directory.</li> </ol> </p> <p> <h3>Set it&nbsp;up...</h3> <ol> <li> Open Terminal, enter the following commands... <pre><code>cd ~ nano .bash_profile </code></pre> </li> <li>Paste this into the new file, or add it if there are existing contents. <pre><code>export PATH=${PATH}:~/android-sdk-mac/tools </code></pre> <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/4081662836/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2546/4081662836_14ac64296a.jpg" alt="" width="500" height="365" /></a></li> <li>Press "Control X" and save the&nbsp;file.</li> <li>Close&nbsp;Terminal.</li> </ol> </p> <p> <h3>Load up an Android&nbsp;OS...</h3> <ol> <li>Open Terminal, enter the following command... <pre><code>android</code></pre> The Android SDK and AVD Manager will open. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/4081052166/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2661/4081052166_01a8284b00.jpg" alt="" width="500" height="334" /></a></li> <li>Choose "Available&nbsp;Packages"</li> <li>Click the arrow beside&nbsp;"dl-ssl.google.com..."</li> <li>Check one or more Android Platforms, I chose Android 1.6 and 2.0 for good measure you can choose whatever versions you are&nbsp;targeting.</li> <li>Click "Install Selected" and then "Install&nbsp;Accepted"</li> <li><strong>Your SDK is now complete and ready to run...</strong> Stick in your Android SDK and AVD Manager let's make a&nbsp;device!</li> </ol> </p> <p> <h3>Getting your virtual Android device&nbsp;ready...</h3> <ol> <li>Chose "Virtual&nbsp;Devices"</li> <li>Click "New..." <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/4080292701/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2500/4080292701_685155108b.jpg" alt="" width="500" height="375" /></a></li> <li>Give your AVD a name for this tutorial I chose&nbsp;"default2.0"</li> <li>Choose one of the Android platforms you downloaded in the "Target" pulldown, I chose Android&nbsp;2.0.</li> <li>Give the SD card some value, let's say&nbsp;25mb.</li> <li>Click "Create&nbsp;AVD"</li> <li>You should return back to the home screen, click your new Android AVD's name and press&nbsp;"Start"</li> <li><strong>Success!</strong> <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/4080292761/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3487/4080292761_be1d165ec0.jpg" alt="" width="500" height="466" /></a></li> </ol> </p> <p> <h3>Create an icon of sorts to launch your new&nbsp;emulator...</h3> <ol> <li>Open Terminal, enter the following commands... <pre><code>cd ~/Desktop/ nano Android.command </code></pre> </li> <li>Add this command to the new file... <pre><code>emulator -scale .7 -avd default2.0 </code></pre> <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/4081684358/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2558/4081684358_e8e0685e53.jpg" alt="" width="500" height="359" /></a></li> <li>Press "Control X" and save the&nbsp;file</li> <li>Run this final command.... <pre><code>chmod 755 Android.command </code></pre> </li> <li>Close&nbsp;Terminal</li> <li>Double click on Android.command on your desktop... <strong>Success!</strong> <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/4080307965/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2760/4080307965_ef429e8820.jpg" alt="" width="500" height="432" /></a></li> </ol> </p> Embedding my first Google Wave into Wordpress!Ben Hedrington2009-06-03T10:06:29Z2009-06-03T10:06:29Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2009/embedding-my-first-google-wave-into-wordpress <div class="postimg"><a href="http://wave.google.com"><img src="http://wave.google.com/images/wave_logo.png" alt="Google Wave" class="postimg" style="padding:2em 1em 1.3em 1em;" /></a></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p> <strong>This is a&nbsp;test!</strong> </p> <p> Below I embedded my first Wave "Hello World... I mean Wave!"... The first of many likely... let's see what it looks like out in public... I know many of you probably can't see it... This is a&nbsp;test! </p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <p> UPDATE: I believe and claimed this as the first Google Wave embed in a blog outside of the Googleplex! <a href="http://twitter.com/benhedrington/status/2020952389">My claim on Twitter</a>. </p> <p> For those not in Wave yet here was a <a href="http://bit.ly/CLTN6">screenshot from 4pm 6/3/09</a>. </p> <p> <h3>Here we&nbsp;go...</h3> </p> <p> UPDATE: Now just including the screenshot from this post as Wave is slowly passing away. <img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3350/3592773235_7b1eba741a_o.png" alt="Google Wave" /> </p> Best Buy speaks Google App Engine at Google I/O 2009Ben Hedrington2009-06-02T12:05:29Z2009-06-02T12:05:29Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2009/best-buy-speaks-google-app-engine-google-io-2009 <div class="postimg"><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/3577488604/sizes/l/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3662/3577488604_b0cd3809fb_m.jpg" width="180" height="240" alt="Best Buy and Google App Engine" class="postimg" /></a></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p> I was very excited to not just attend but be a part of <a href="http://code.google.com/events/io/">Google I/O 2009</a>, Google's annual developer conference. A Best Buy contingent of <a href="http://www.stevebendt.com/">Steve Bendt</a>, <a href="http://garykoelling.com/">Gary Koelling</a> and <a href="http://twitter.com/benhedrington">myself</a> as well as uber developers <a href="http://twitter.com/iffius">Curtis Thompson</a> and <a href="http://www.gumption.com/blog/">Thomas Bombach</a> made the trip and were part of the Developer&nbsp;Sandbox. </p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <p> <h3>I/O's Key&nbsp;Points</h3> The keynotes (<a href="http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=41F4CEB92D80C4B7">day 1</a>, <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_UyVmITiYQ">day 2</a>) were both great heralding Google's confidence in the web browser centric future (woo hoo!) powered by what is possible in HTML5, open communications and collaboration systems like the introduction <a href="http://wave.google.com/">Google Wave</a> and the cloud based power plant that is <a href="http://code.google.com/appengine">Google App Engine</a>... among so much more. The whole time they hit hard their belief that developers outside their company, like the ones in the room, are the only way all this becomes possible. They left us inspired for where the web is going and future open architectures we can share versus build ourselves allowing the user, be it the end user or developer, the portability they need... great to see that becoming a&nbsp;reality. </p> <p> <h3>Best Buy and App&nbsp;Engine</h3> Best Buy was asked to come speak about App Engine and our point of view, that <a href="http://googleappengine.blogspot.com/2009/02/best-buys-giftag-on-app-engine.html">we</a> <a href="http://broadcast.oreilly.com/2009/04/the-app-engine-birds-of-a-feat.html">have</a> <a href="http://www.buildcontext.com/blog/2008/12/22/retweet-radar-google-app-engine-retweetradarcom-robert-scoble/">shared</a> <a href="http://www.stevebendt.com/?p=46">many</a> <a href="http://www.buildcontext.com/blog/2008/12/28/feedback-tim-oreilly-retweetradar/">times</a>, that it projects a strong model for the future of web development that allows the creativity of a web developer to shine through and takes huge infrastructure and scalability best practices from Google and gives them to you on a sliver platter... no pagers to carry and drastically less system set-up and runtime headaches... growing into a true platform as a service not just boxes in the cloud. The Google crew shot a few videos of us, we'll see what was smart enough to stay off the cutting room&nbsp;floor! </p> <p> We talked to many in the Developer Sandbox, answering the question "Best Buy? Like you mean the retailer?" more times than I could count but once we got through that relayed the message that we are out there, experimenting, trying, showing our company what is becoming possible on the web via new methods of getting things done, notably App Engine and open APIs like our own <a href="http://remix.bestbuy.com">Best Buy Remix</a>. It's a great time to experiment even... no <em>especially</em> at a large company that can easily slow down as <a href="http://www.buildcontext.com/blog/2008/12/22/retweet-radar-google-app-engine-retweetradarcom-robert-scoble/">I've said here before</a>... </p> <p> <blockquote>Google App Engine and Open APIs clearly show where the web is going, the playing field is leveled… get out there and deploy those ideas <em>you say</em> you have scrawled on those napkins that <em>you say</em> are going to revolutionize the world, the tools you need to prove it are out there right now. </blockquote> </p> <p> ...these movements only further speed up rapid evolution on the web, jump in now with two feet because it's not slowing down any time soon. Experimenting out in front is the key no matter your size.&nbsp;-Ben </p> Problem Solving: Get Google App Engine working on Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty)Ben Hedrington2009-05-03T08:10:29Z2009-05-03T08:10:29Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2009/problem-problems-google-app-engine-on-ubuntu-9-04-jaunty-jackelope-python <div class="postimg"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3601/3496487697_383e02fe01_o.png" width="140" height="129" alt="google-app-engine-ubuntu" class="postimg" /></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p> <h3>By default the Google App Engine SDK doesn't run on Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty Jackelope)... You can fix&nbsp;it!</h3> <br /> After a little searching I noticed neither posts about this issue nor a quick fix were top of the Google rankings... hoping to resolve that with this post and get all of us Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty) users up on App Engine. <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End -->UPDATE: This post is now first when searching for "<a href="http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=App+Engine+Ubuntu+Jaunty+Problem">App Engine Ubuntu Jaunty Problem</a>" and even "<a href="http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=App+Engine+Ubuntu+Jaunty">App Engine Ubuntu Jaunty</a>" in one day,&nbsp;nice! </p> <p> Once you download the SDK as usual and run one of your apps on a default Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty install you will see errors galore, you see Ubuntu 9.04 ships Python 2.6 and App Engine is built on Python 2.5 and they are not&nbsp;friendly! </p> <p> Here is how I got my environment running<!--more-->, I will update the post if I run into further&nbsp;errors. </p> <p> <br /> <h3>In a terminal install Python&nbsp;2.5</h3> They will coexist on the system. <blockquote>sudo apt-get install python2.5</blockquote> </p> <p> <h3>Edit dev_appserver.py in your google_appengine&nbsp;directory</h3> Change the first line in dev_appserver.py... <blockquote>#!/usr/bin/env python</blockquote> ....to... <blockquote>#!/usr/bin/env python2.5</blockquote> </p> <p> <h2>App Engine should now load and run your apps&nbsp;properly!</h2> </p> <p> I believe this is the simplest noninvasive way to let App Engine find what it wants, Python 2.5, and let Ubuntu carry on as it likes with Python 2.6 and beyond. Here is a <a href=" http://code.google.com/p/googleappengine/issues/detail?id=1159">source</a> on this issue, commenters have many different&nbsp;solutions. </p> <p> Hope this post helps at least one of you,&nbsp;-Ben </p> Exploring your way into Social Media: The Presentation?Ben Hedrington2009-02-23T22:07:29Z2009-02-23T22:07:29Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2009/exploring-your-way-into-social-media-the-presentation <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3125/3303940166_920a0939f3_m.jpg" width="130" height="130" alt="No PowerPoint" /></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p> This post exists because I was asked to create a presentation of the high points of what I've discovered in my exploration of social media that could be conveyed to others just getting started looking at the space. I was asked to include why I was so interested to build my apps on my spare time (<a href="http://spy.appspot.com">spy</a>, <a href="http://www.retweetradar.com">retweet radar</a>, and <a href="http://www.connecttweet.com">ConnectTweet</a>) which are really about poking, prodding and learning about the social media conversation's value by experimenting with it... not just technology hijinks (although <a href="http://www.buildcontext.com/blog/2008/12/22/retweet-radar-google-app-engine-retweetradarcom-robert-scoble/">that's</a> <a href="http://www.buildcontext.com/blog/2008/12/28/feedback-tim-oreilly-retweetradar/">interesting</a>&nbsp;too). </p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <p> After a fair amount of brain freeze (still only partially defrosted at this point) I knew this "presentation" was largely a series of links to tools, great blog posts and examples... I quickly determined PowerPoint, the grand old corporate standard for this type of thing, could not capture or fairly represent the multifaceted and decentralized conversation around social media it dawned on me -- a blog post -- which by it's nature is a containing thought, linking to others to expound upon it is open for debate [comments] just like the current malleable state of social&nbsp;media. </p> <p> <h3>So here it is my&nbsp;"presentation"...</h3> I come from the perspective that you don't start doing something just because it's the cool new thing - the buzzword buzzing in your peers/bosses/co-worker's ears - rather you should see true value to your relationships, your work, your future... or simply some entertainment value. I am going to try to give you a walking tour through interesting aspects of social media channels specifically Twitter, <!--more-->which at it's roots is a communication channel for short pointed messages... essentially an email message without the "blah blah" bloat and open for all to read. My goal will be to give you tools to discover why you care about participating in this channel, if in the end you just don't see it that's ok... forced conversation isn't fun for anyone. <style type="text/css"> div.linkblock {background-color:#f8f8f8;border:3px solid #f1f1f1;margin:1.5em;} div.linkblock ul {margin-top:0;margin-bottom:.5em;} div.linkblock h4 {margin:0 .8em;padding:0;} div.linkblock span {font-weight:normal;text-transform:uppercase;color:#ccc;font-size:.8em;margin-right:.7em;} </style> <div class="linkblock"> <h4><span>outline</span> How it all goes&nbsp;down.</h4> <ul> <li><a href="#listen">Listen first!</a> <ul> <li><a href="#discover_listen">Discover by&nbsp;Listening</a></li> <li><a href="#discover_trends">Discover by&nbsp;Trends</a></li> </ul> </li> <li><a href="#business">Listen and Participate for&nbsp;Business</a></li> <li><a href="#yourself">Participate for Yourself - Your Growth, Your&nbsp;Career.</a></li> </ul> </div> </p> <p> <h3 id="listen">Listen&nbsp;first!</h3> Your boss asked you why you aren't on "The Web 2.0 Twitters" yet... you are itching to go out and create that Twitter account, even though I told you not to... don't, you need to learn to listen first. <em>[And don't worry (s)he's just asking because (s)he can't figure it out :)]</em> So many people go out create those shiny new empty accounts maybe add one or two friends <em>[who don't participate]</em> and say "it doesn't work", "I don't get it" and "whats so interesting about this" here is the truth it's not interesting or useful by itself... it's a communication channel not a television! You need to discover interesting conversations and people and then jump in on it, your empty account is one of hundreds of thousands out there who didn't realize discovery and a little work is a must. <h4 id="discover_listen">Discover by&nbsp;Listening</h4> Let's find something interesting and see whats being said about it... this is where my first tool '<a href="http://spy.appspot.com">spy</a>' comes in but there are many others to look at too. <a href="http://www.buildcontext.com/blog/2008/08/05/social-media-spectator-sport-or-why-created-spy-appspot-com/">The idea with 'spy'</a> is to "listen in on the social media conversation going on around you" on something you already care about for example say the name of your company... <a href="http://spy.appspot.com/find/%22best%20buy%22?latest=25">spy on Best Buy</a> Now we're going to see all sorts of interesting things being said... you feel the vibe of the public towards you today... people hate us, people love us, people post weird <em>[really weird]</em> things... but in that mess at least one things will get you motivated you'll read a post and say "hey, I can fix that for him", "hey, she needs this product to make that better" or "hey, that's completely not true where do I find this guy!" or any of a myriad of other responses... there it happened you found a connection an interaction you want to have this is one bud of a conversation in this global decentralized chatter going on around us every day. If you are an <a href="http://search.twitter.com/search?q=iphone">Apple</a> nut or are argumentative about <a href="http://search.twitter.com/search?q=obama">politics</a>, among so many other examples, your sure to not go dry on topics to listen to and converse about. Take something you personally care and plug them into tools like <a href="http://search.twitter.com">Twitter Search</a>, '<a href="http://spy.appspot.com">spy</a>', <a href="http://monitter.com/">monitter.com</a> or maybe check out <a href="http://www.twellow.com/">Twellow</a> a list of Twitterers by their interests when you do get started you'll know who you want to listen to. <h4 id="discover_trends">Discover by&nbsp;Trends</h4> One of my personal favorites is to watch trends, not "what's next on the internet" but what are people talking about casually right now... Google can step aside here this is the rawest view on open conversations on the web -- real time conversation trends. If you take a look at the "Trending topics" or "Trends" sections on <a href="http://search.twitter.com">Twitter Search</a> and '<a href="http://spy.appspot.com">spy</a>' respectively click on any one that interests you you see up to the second conversation on that topic from hundreds or maybe thousands of participants. Yes you are going to see bad TV shows (American Idol and your sort I am looking at you...) celebrity gossip, and a bit of spam but real time shines during national or global events if you are watching you'll know about any national event first far before the traditional media can report on it, even full time cable news. During events like the US National Debates or the <a href="http://www.buildcontext.com/blog/2008/11/27/spy-mumbai-floored-help-spyappspotcom/">terror in Mumbai</a> a real powerful side conversation is being had in real time of which you are listening and can participate, I remember watching the debates on the TV with real people's Twitter commentary scrolling on my laptop in full screen on 'spy' totally changes the experience. My second tool plays in this trends space, there is a concept on Twitter where you "retweet" someone's Twitter post when you think it is important and you want more people to see it, <a href="http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2008/11/23/retweet-the-infectious-power-of-the-word-of-mouth/">more about retweets here</a>. My tool <a href="http://www.retweetradar.com">retweet radar</a> gathers all those "retweeted" messages and attempts to pull out relevant terms and plot them... this view quickly allows you to see what people think is interesting so far today and even right now, an interesting way to keep your finger on the pulse of the conversation and <a href="http://www.buildcontext.com/blog/2008/12/22/retweet-radar-google-app-engine-retweetradarcom-robert-scoble/">a fun little project</a>. <div class="linkblock"> <h4><span>links</span>Listening, trend&nbsp;watching.</h4> <ul> <li><a href="http://search.twitter.com/">Twitter&nbsp;Search</a></li> <li><a href="http://spy.appspot.com/">spy</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.retweetradar.com/">Retweetradar</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.twitscoop.com/">Twitscoop</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.tweetscan.com/">Tweetscan</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.monitter.com/">Monitter</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.twellow.com">Twellow</a></li> </ul> </div> </p> <p> <h3 id="business">Listen and Participate for&nbsp;Business</h3> Listening as closely as possible to customers and interacting with them should be the first thing that comes to mind from a business mindset when we discuss these tools, we've already talked about it a bit above. You now have the unique ability to put your ear to the masses, ask them questions about your product and share in their excitement or pain using them. In this medium some customers are turned into zealots on both positive and negative sides of the fence, they have a megaphone to speak their mind and they do. This can be good for you, they serve to keep you honest, keep a spotlight on you and spread the word of your brand and products this channel allows you to keep up a conversation with zealots and use them as a leading indicator for your decisions, maybe even including some of them in those directions. As an example, the day a new Best Buy marketing pieces hits people's homes the social media channels erupt in conversation both good and bad an almost immediate barometer on the impact of that offer, particularly today a get $100 off an iPhone offer hit all Best Buy RewardZone Silver customers and the social media conversation was <a href="http://search.twitter.com/search?q=iphone+reward+zone">very positive</a>. A further example, the day<a href="http://barryjudge.com/trust-and-the-reward-zone-black-card-test"> RewardZone Black was accidentally emailed to millions of people</a>, Barry Judge our CMO noticed the increased conversation on the 'spy' in his office and quickly issued an apology through his Twitter account and <a href="http://barryjudge.com/trust-and-the-reward-zone-black-card-test">his blog</a> a first for Best Buy in both speed and openness to admit our mistake. Best Buy and other Twin Cities companies were written up in <a href="http://www.buildcontext.com/blog/2008/11/23/social-media-best-buy-spy-spyappspotcom-pioneer-press-ben-hedrington/">this Pioneer Press article</a> for our early social media efforts including blueshirts from the stores, corporate workers and even our CMO on Twitter not to mention some nice 'spy' coverage. Outside of <a href="http://minnov8.com/2008/09/19/smbmsp_bbc/">Best Buy using 'spy'</a> to watch the social media conversation in the Hub, <a href="http://www.buildcontext.com/blog/2009/02/12/hp-social-media-buzz-powered-by-spy-appspot-com-ben-hedrington/">HP has implemented 'spy'</a> in their internal marketing portal to help their workers keep up on the conversation around their company. Chris Brogan and others covers ideas for business well in video and bullet point format so read on. <div class="linkblock"> <h4><span>links</span>Listening to Social Media for&nbsp;Business.</h4> <ul> <li>Video - <a href=" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4set_GLDb78">Chris Brogan: Listening in Social&nbsp;Media</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.chrisbrogan.com/50-ideas-on-using-twitter-for-business/">Chris Brogan: 50 Ideas on Using Twitter for&nbsp;Business</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.conversationagent.com/2008/08/business-uses-for-twitter.html">Conversation Agent: Business Uses for&nbsp;Twitter</a></li> <li><a href="http://econsultancy.com/blog/3269-listening-to-twitter-is-no-longer-merely-optional">Econsultancy: 'Listening' to Twitter is no longer merely&nbsp;optional</a></li> </ul> </div> </p> <p> <h3 id="yourself">Participate for Yourself - Your Growth, Your&nbsp;Career.</h3> Wherever and however your expertise, passion and occupation line up there are a limited number of people who do what you do, the way you do with the experiences you have... social media thrives on this fuel. People who throw out that new idea, business tip, graphic design guide, free font or nugget of web development advice are lifted up. People are eager to hear from others cross pollinate ideas and practices and generally to learn, putting yourself in this pool and being looked to for advice by this international group of "followers" can propel you to learn more, advance your skills and show you the market out there for you as a leader in your space. I have been writing this blog for about 8 months now, polluting the internet and social media with my then poor, now slightly better, writing abilities; I progressed, I helped people, I participated in thousands of conversations with people I would have never met including <a href="http://www.buildcontext.com/blog/2008/12/28/feedback-tim-oreilly-retweetradar/">many big names on the internet</a> and getting my name out there. Your ability to use social media, build your niche and "personal brand" as they say is nearly limitless. If you are the "best X person in the office" take it to the web, I guarantee you will learn something further and people will recognize your skills and you will be rewarded as many times as I feel I have been, your company, your industry, your world can be flattened by these barrier crossing social media connections. <div class="linkblock"> <h4><span>links</span>Building your skills and "personal&nbsp;brand."</h4> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.chrisbrogan.com/100-personal-branding-tactics-using-social-media/">Chris Brogan: 100 Personal Branding Tactics Using Social&nbsp;Media</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.chrisbrogan.com/passion-drives-personal-brand/">Chris Brogan: Passion Drives Personal&nbsp;Brand</a></li> </ul> </div> </p> HP keeping up on their social media "Buzz" powered by spy.appspot.com!Ben Hedrington2009-02-12T11:52:29Z2009-02-12T11:52:29Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2009/hp-social-media-buzz-powered-by-spy-appspot-com-ben-hedrington <div class="postimg"><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/3273749463/" title="HP Buzz on internal portal via spy.appspot.com by hedrinbc, on Flickr"><img class="postimg" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3327/3274665926_595b6102aa_m.jpg" width="240" height="181" alt="hpbuzzpopout_logos" /></a></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p> I just received word from Pam Dearen at HP of some great launch news partially powered by <a href=" http://spy.appspot.com">spy.appspot.com</a>! </p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <p> <blockquote>Our new internal Digital Marketing Community Portal launched as planned on January 15. One of its top features is our "HP Buzz" -- our custom version of your Spy app.</blockquote> </p> <p> It's truly exciting to see big business gravitating toward social media and empowering employees to listen fulfilling my <a href="http://www.buildcontext.com/blog/2008/08/05/social-media-spectator-sport-or-why-created-spy-appspot-com/">vision for 'spy'</a> -- it was never about the technology or the website but finding and amassing these relevant and timely social media conversations and getting them in front of people who care about them but may not yet participate in the social media&nbsp;space. </p> <p> HP's "Buzz" section of their internal Digital Marketing Community Portal does all of this well, the employees in this group will see a constantly refreshed and relevant view of what people are saying about HP, if they only find one actionable nugget of information from their customers via this method it would feel great to me and I am positive they&nbsp;will. </p> <p> <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/3273749463/" title="HP Buzz on internal portal via spy.appspot.com"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3476/3273749463_a9cbc0354f_o.jpg" width="500" height="378" alt="HP Buzz on internal portal via spy.appspot.com" /></a> </p> <p> I really appreciate the quick and relevant work they have done here, the very kind attribution and the clear view and message that empowering employees with more direct channels to listen to and interact with their customers can only better the experience for all customers and help to shape business decisions we all make every day. Kudos to the HP Digital Marketing team for getting out there, testing and trying new avenues and listening to their customers wherever&nbsp;are. </p> <p> <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/3273749461/" title="HP Buzz - Full page powered by spy.appspot.com by hedrinbc, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3332/3273749461_c8c3433470.jpg" width="379" height="500" alt="HP Buzz - Full page powered by spy.appspot.com" /></a> <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/3273749461/" title="HP Buzz - Full page powered by spy.appspot.com by hedrinbc, on Flickr">Click for full&nbsp;size.</a> </p> The Birth of ConnectTweet - Combining Your Voices on TwitterBen Hedrington2009-02-11T11:46:29Z2009-02-11T11:46:29Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2009/connecttweet-company-twitter-group-business-combine-voices <div class="postimg"><a href="http://www.connecttweet.com/"><img class="postimg" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3509/3269497307_79f2c3c488_m.jpg" width="240" height="167" alt="ConnectTweet" /></a></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p> <a href="http://www.connecttweet.com">ConnectTweet</a> is a simple utility built under the concept <em>[reality in my opinion]</em> that all groups, companies or brands are just collections of many people whose passion, ideas and behavior completely shape it. Often those people's voices are drowned out in communications by a need to feel "official" instead making it feel robotic, monochromatic and cold... this is especially evident as companies are showing up in social mediums like Twitter where forced news releases and push marketing stick out like a sore&nbsp;thumb. </p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <p> There needs to be a better way for a company to be represented on Twitter by many passionate people on the inside versus a robot or a single&nbsp;voice. </p> <p> <h3>Making it happen with&nbsp;ConnectTweet</h3> ConnectTweet flips that equation for groups and lets the real people all across your organization to show through on Twitter and be your voice. They can have real, human conversations with customers and share their unique perspectives and passion for their work as people at the front lines of your organization. This unique transparency shows the vibrancy that networks like Twitter have is inside your organization it's just waiting to be shown the light of&nbsp;day. </p> <p> First, you need to find and tap the passionates... the people all over your organization many of whom may already use tools like Twitter for their own uses, ask them to be your voice, to share openly their perspectives, interesting tidbits (guarantee you will learn something too) and to answer other users questions about the company on Twitter tagging each of their company posts with&nbsp;#companyname. </p> <p> ConnectTweet can be then setup to gather up the tweets from the approved users and post them to your organization's Twitter account allowing your followers to clearly see the human voices on the inside and give your organization that true human interface your customer always wanted to&nbsp;see. </p> <p> <h3>A simple&nbsp;example</h3> Below ConnectTweet has posted to the Twitter account of one of my tools a message I relayed from my personal account to let the tool's approximately 1000 followers know about something cool that just happened. I simply <a href="http://twitter.com/benhedrington/status/1184294705">posted this</a> to my account, and the <a href="http://twitter.com/retweetradar/status/1184295821">below tweet</a> appeared in <a href="http://twitter.com/retweetradar">@retweetradar</a>'s stream. If ten people worked for retweetradar.com they all could do the same thing creating an organic stream of information about the site right from the people on the front&nbsp;lines. </p> <p> <a href="http://twitter.com/retweetradar/status/1184295821"><img src="http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1018/3270411478_a64569850a.jpg" width="500" height="295" alt="connectweet retweetradar" /></a> </p> <p> ConnectTweet is in a limited Alpha test but <a href="mailto:ben@hedrington.com">I would love to hear</a> if you'd find it useful and would be interested in trying it&nbsp;out. </p> Retweetradar.com gets a new design!Ben Hedrington2009-01-19T13:01:29Z2009-01-19T13:01:29Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2009/retweetradar-gets-a-new-web-design-jason-galep <div class="postimg"><a href="http://www.retweetradar.com"><img class="postimg" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3121/3209867974_76f038fd72_m.jpg" width="240" height="151" alt="New design retweetradar.com Jason Galep" /></a></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p> I have to admit it's nice to have people around you that can drop a killer new web design with one hand and build in, from the beginning, an understanding of how those designs can be executed on today's browsers with the&nbsp;other... </p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <p> <a href="http://twitter.com/jgalep">Jason Galep</a> stopped by out of the blue and asked if he could contribute a design for <a href="http://www.retweetradar.com/">retweetradar</a>... the contemplation period was brief and something like a "heck yeah" came from my mouth... I have no delusions that I am a designer and this opportunity was perfect timing for both of us. We worked back and forth over just a couple hours and a few emails and it was executed... a rapidly built, high quality, and great looking new face for&nbsp;retweetradar.com! </p> <p> Hearing some great feedback on the design already via Twitter... what do you think? <a href="http://twitter.com/home?status=%40retweetradar+%23newrtdesign+%5BTell+us+what+you+think+here!%5D">Tweet your feedback&nbsp;here!</a> </p> <p> Captured <a href="http://www.retweetradar.com">http://retweetradar.com</a> as it is today here on Flickr, since we all know the train doesn't stop and changes will keep&nbsp;coming! </p> <p> <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/3209867976/" title="New design retweetradar.com Jason Galep"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3267/3209867976_3a7f45c45c.jpg" width="455" height="500" alt="New design retweetradar.com Jason Galep" /></a> </p> <p> Thanks for all the interest in my little project!&nbsp;-Ben </p> I'm a "Web Development Elf" cool?... Yes cool!Ben Hedrington2009-01-17T14:11:29Z2009-01-17T14:11:29Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2009/web-develompent-elf-cool-mike-arauz-ben-hedrington-experiment-trends <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p> Didn't want to let this pass in the night, <a href="http://www.mikearauz.com/">blogger</a> and strategist at <a href="http://undercurrent.com/">Undercurrent</a> <a href="http://www.mikearauz.com/">Mike Arauz</a> picked up on the apps I have been exercising my brain on lately (<a href="http://www.retweetradar.com">retweetradar.com</a> and <a href="http://spy.appspot.com">spy.appspot.com</a>) out of the blue and wrote a couple great posts... I mean the titles alone are classic, but they have some prefect messages that everyone in the web industry better be hearing and understand. You are hearing it from me, now listen to&nbsp;Mike. </p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <p> <h3>Act I: Bigger !=&nbsp;Better</h3> From the first installment: <a href="http://www.mikearauz.com/2008/12/web-development-elves.html">The Web Development Elves</a> <blockquote>These great little sites didn't require a multi-million dollar creative agency. They didn't require a creative brief. And they didn't require a million dollar investment from a major corporate client. They just needed the curiosity, ingenuity, creativity, time, and effort of one clever tinkerer.</blockquote> </p> <p> I really appreciate that Mike, dead on. Mike writes on the same vein I am about theses applications, it's not the change in technology that's critically important here it's the openness and pervasiveness of the new tools... anyone can do this... it's no longer just the game of big IT or big&nbsp;agencies. </p> <p> <blockquote>Small websites, tools, and online services, built by independent developers will eventually dwarf the contributions of the major digital creative agencies.</blockquote> </p> <p> <h3>Act II: Efforts playing outside influence the day job? - Benefits to Best Buy (my&nbsp;employer)</h3> In the second installment: <a href="http://www.mikearauz.com/2009/01/best-buy-makes-use-of-young-developers.html">Web Development Elves II: Double Agent</a> Mike picks up on the excellent article in the Economist "<a href="http://www.economist.com/business/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12863573">Generation Y goes to work</a>" that mentions some of our work at Best Buy and&nbsp;sees: </p> <p> <blockquote>Another Net Gener at the company cobbled together a mobile-phone version of Best Buy’s website for fun in seven days in his spare time.</blockquote> </p> <p> Mike got in contact with me and asked... yep, he got me again... turned it into this post: <a href="http://www.mikearauz.com/2009/01/best-buy-makes-use-of-young-developers.html">Web Development Elves II: Double Agent</a> Read the whole post, but this was his final flurry and I couldn't agree&nbsp;more! </p> <p> <blockquote>Big corporations are so used to working with big agencies on big projects that it's difficult for them to adapt to this new way of working. Small projects. Iterative process. Limited bureaucracy. But, best of all, small budgets and limited&nbsp;risk. </p> <p> Every corporation in the world should be seeking out this kind of embedded intelligence, and making effective use of it. Create systems for discovering these talents. Create regular rewards for employees who share these talents. And create ways for groups of employees to find each other and begin&nbsp;collaborating. </p> <p> More and more you will find that this is how people expect to work - flexible interests, collaborative, non-hierarchical - because this is how the internet works. Adapt.</blockquote> </p> <p> Fun stuff! ...Now back to the&nbsp;lab... </p> Getting Windows 7 Beta running on Ubuntu Intrepid via VirtualBoxBen Hedrington2009-01-11T15:02:29Z2009-01-11T15:02:29Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2009/windows-7-public-beta-running-on-ubuntu-intrepid-810-virtualbox <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3367/3189142928_1ee4a6e1c6_m.jpg" width="240" height="150" alt="Windows 7 up and running on Ububtu 8.10 via VirtualBox" /></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p> I'm throwing this post out there that brings together the things I learned as I worked to get the free <a href="http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-7/default.aspx">Windows 7 Public Beta</a> running on <a href="http://www.ubuntu.com/">Ubuntu</a> 8.10 Intrepid Ibex via <a href="http://virtualbox.org">VirtualBox</a>. Hoping this post helps those trying to do the same, in all my Google queries on these issues information was sparse... a few hours wasted on my part will hopefully save you time. This is written in a "just the facts" style and not a full "how to" but should get you where you are going avoiding some of the pot&nbsp;holes. </p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <p> <h2>Proof it's&nbsp;possible!</h2> <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/3189026040/" title="Windows 7 up and running on Ububtu 8.10 via VirtualBox by hedrinbc, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3119/3189026040_c7a5cdd951.jpg" width="500" height="313" alt="Windows 7 up and running on Ububtu 8.10 via VirtualBox" /></a> </p> <p> <h2>Tips</h2> </p> <p> <h4>Getting the Install Media - Downloading&nbsp;ISOs</h4> Ok, so Microsoft is having trouble serving download demand thus I tried many paths (torrents, 3rd party links, etc.) to download these multi-gigabyte files trying to avoid the rush... Don't! <!--more-->Getting partial or corrupted files is rampant even from the right source. I found the cleanest path was to download through the <a href="http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/evalcenter/dd353205.aspx">TechNet Customer Preview pages</a>, they don't have near the traffic pointed to them and seemed reliable. Follow all the steps and save your key to a text file on the desktop when you get it. I suggest downloading the 32 bit version for VirtualBox use, although 64 bit is supposed to work in the latest version unless you are going to give it a ton of RAM (4GB plus) I'd just stay with 32&nbsp;bit. </p> <p> Second tip here... no matter how much you want to use Linux/FireFox/wget to download, I tried them all... Don't! Follow their rules, fire up a copy of Internet Explorer however you can to download the ISOs and then copy them over a network or large flash drive back to your Ubuntu machine. The ActiveX (I know, gross...) downloader appears to have less issues corrupting files which just plain saves you&nbsp;time. </p> <p> <h4>Getting VirtualBox&nbsp;Ready</h4> <em>Either...</em> You already have VirtualBox running on Ubuntu and have run a number of virtual OSs without any issues... Great!... Nope, thats what I thought... Make sure you force an upgrade to the very latest VirtualBox available, doing anything on older version causes blank screens, "Aborting" of the OS and other things that waste your time. <em>Or...</em> You are new to VirtualBox, in this instance you are probably better off, go to VirtualBox.org and grab the <a href="http://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Linux_Downloads">latest version</a>. </p> <p> Setup a new VirtualBox "machine" choose Windows Vista as the type and give it at least 1GB of RAM and 20GB of hard drive. In the network area I suggest you choose the "Intel PRO/1000 MT Desktop (82540EM)" adapter rather than the default, Windows 7 seems to like it better from scratch. Connect your downloaded ISO to the CDROM and it should boot from it by default. You won't even have to ever even burn that DVD,&nbsp;beautiful. </p> <p> <h4>Installation Bumps and&nbsp;Bruises</h4> <em>Install speed, blank screens, file expanding</em>... Installation will be <em>SLOW</em> don't shut it down and restart when you are impatient, I did that about 5 times, it is working unless the VirtualBox aborts of the installer throws&nbsp;errors. </p> <p> <em>Can't find "install.wim"</em> - Your ISO is corrupt, you are going to have to download again unfortunately please make sure you download if from Microsoft directly and via Internet Explorer and the custom downloader. I downloaded two corrupt version before I gave in and followed the rules too, thats 5+ GB of wasted time and downloaded&nbsp;bytes. </p> <p> <em>Virtual machine crashes and returns to Virtual Box with the status "Aborted"</em> - For me, all these issues were due to running and old version of VirtualBox and corrupted&nbsp;ISOs. </p> <p> I hope some of those issues I dealt with help you get you copy up an running, now go beat the tar out of it and let Microsoft know if you will be using it in the future or sticking on the Linux side of the fence.&nbsp;-Ben </p> All feedback is good feedback... especially when it's from Tim O'Reilly! - retweetradar.comBen Hedrington2008-12-28T09:07:29Z2008-12-28T09:07:29Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2008/feedback-tim-oreilly-retweetradar <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p> Saturday afternoon <a href="http://twitter.com/scobleizer">Robert Scoble</a> sent out a simple tweet letting people know he popped up on the<a href="http://www.retweetradar.com"> retweetradar</a> (much appreciated Robert!), we had been talking about use of interesting metadata, for instance retweeted information, possibly being used to rank quality posts on Twitter in the comments of his blog posts about <a href="http://scobleizer.com/2008/12/27/5127/">a better Twitter Search</a>. </p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <p> <a href="http://twitter.com/Scobleizer/status/1081155258"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3236/3144253272_4cd706041a.jpg" width="500" height="306" alt="Twitter tweet from scobleizer" /></a> </p> <p> Then out of the blue I see Robert received a tweet back from <a href="http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/au/27">Tim O'Reilly</a> with feedback on retweetradar!<!--more--> </p> <p> <a href="http://twitter.com/timoreilly/status/1081167575"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3213/3144253276_70046f058f.jpg" width="500" height="336" alt="Twitter tweet from timoreilly" /></a> </p> <p> I read it, thought about it, and you know he was right on... the mixing of terms, people and links made the cloud too busy and "people" were not the topic of the tweets they we just authors and interested parties... I needed to jump to work couldn't waste my chance to show Tim and the many others showing attention yesterday what could be&nbsp;done. </p> <p> I reworked the interface so "people" and "links" had their own area but were still prominent and displayed the top ten of each among a few other minor tweaks. I let Tim know I made some changes, not expecting a response, but par for the course on this odd day I got one! Tim responded that the tool was now more useful to&nbsp;him. </p> <p> <a href="http://twitter.com/timoreilly/status/1081805564"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3212/3144253278_7f1923f5a6.jpg" width="500" height="339" alt="Twitter tweet from timoreilly" /></a> </p> <p> I sent a tweet thanking Tim for taking any time to look at my little app and then sent him the link to my <a href="http://www.buildcontext.com/blog/2008/12/22/retweet-radar-google-app-engine-retweetradarcom-robert-scoble/">previous post on retweetradar's launch</a>. I wanted him to understand this wasn't supposed to be a technical feat but that I was trying to evangelize the use of the amazing tools we have at out fingertips today to create anything we like on the web, in this instance Google App Engine and Open APIs. Suffice it to say Tim got it, as the father of the <a href="http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/oreilly/tim/news/2005/09/30/what-is-web-20.html">real concept of Web 2.0</a>&nbsp;should! </p> <p> <a href="http://twitter.com/timoreilly/status/1081890722"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3296/3144253282_15402683f3.jpg" width="500" height="310" alt="Twitter tweet from timoreilly" /></a> </p> <p> Quite a day indeed... one for the books...&nbsp;-Ben </p> retweetradar.com - One days work from concept to launch with Google App Engine... Scobleized!Ben Hedrington2008-12-22T12:09:29Z2008-12-22T12:09:29Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2008/retweet-radar-google-app-engine-retweetradarcom-robert-scoble <div class="postimg"><a href="http://www.retweetradar.com/"><img class="postimg" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3240/3127270984_fc7f0f7629_m.jpg" width="240" height="164" alt="retweetradar.com" /></a></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p> So I was getting a little restless and decided to work on another <a href="http://code.google.com/appengine/">Google App Engine</a> app, this time without all the Python learning curve and with some real world experience with the Google tools under the belt from <a href="http://spy.appspot.com">http://spy.appspot.com</a>. The goal was to see how fast I could go from concept to useful application leveraging a few of the revolutionary tools we all have at our fingertips today. In the end with about one days work an app was released, likely with a few bugs, but some fun things happened and I believe a bit of foreshadowing of the future of building web&nbsp;apps. </p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <p> <h3>The&nbsp;Concept</h3> I had an idea that I really wanted to extract meaning from a large-ish set of social media messages in near real time and visually trend it over time, showing topics heating up in conversations even while still slightly off the conventional news radar. We've all seen lately the groundswell social media conversation routinely <a href="http://www.buildcontext.com/blog/2008/11/27/spy-mumbai-floored-help-spyappspotcom/">outpacing tradition broadcast media</a> in speed and openess of accounting, this app would be yet another way to put your finger on that&nbsp;pulse. </p> <p> The class of information that looked interesting was "retweets" in other words messages where Twitter users were quoting someone else's post, essentially saying they liked it, or spreading the word. Tech blogger <a href="http://scobleizer.com/">Robert Scoble</a> called out the same last Friday saying "<a href="http://twitter.com/Scobleizer/status/1067121772">[Retweets] ...by the way, great place to find news!</a>" </p> <p> <h3>The&nbsp;How</h3> <img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3244/3127414060_5422e8b427.jpg" width="500" height="131" alt="mashup" /> </p> <p> So now to the how, obviously Google App Engine was my choice for delivering this application, it's ease of access, familiar development environment, ease to scale and obvious lack of initial cost make it a winner -- <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/2687899958/">Paul McDonald</a> and <a href="http://twitter.com/tstocky">Tom Stocky</a> being very great folks to talk to, among other Googlers on the App Engine team I am sure, helps as&nbsp;well. </p> <p> Next I needed the information, Twitter's great <a href="http://search.twitter.com">search API</a> acquired with the Summize purchase makes pulling tweets in near real time a non event. Now the value add, the real magic in the idea was to pull <em>relevant</em> information from the tweets and trend them, for that the lesser known <a href="http://developer.yahoo.com/search/content/V1/termExtraction.html">Yahoo Term Extraction API</a> was chosen, it's simple interface, reliability and quality results. So the parts were chosen... we have the ability to capture social media posts, process out key terms, save, count and display them on the web... very nice. So in the equivalent of one days work over the last two days I took these parts and pieces, shook them up with <a href="http://jquery.com/">jQuery</a> and released <a href="http://www.retweetradar.com">http://retweetradar.com</a> to the&nbsp;world. </p> <p> <h3>The&nbsp;Outcome</h3> The outcome was astounding <a href="http://www.retweetradar.com">http://www.retweetradar.com</a> launched publicly via a <a href="http://twitter.com/benhedrington/status/1069973982">Tweet</a> and <a href="http://friendfeed.com/e/3c69009c-5c2a-4811-b2ad-989feb9f3df4/retweetradar/">FriendFeed</a> <a href="http://friendfeed.com/e/a2eef7d4-53fb-46c5-8b6f-4fda8c4ab11d/retweetradar-Finding-trends-in-the-mountains-of/">posts</a> at around 8pm CST on Saturday, given the work done on Friday and Saturday certainly no greater than one common work day from start to launch. Once Sunday came around I tweeted the news to a few folks, Dan Zarrella was one he has done work on the <a href="http://danzarrella.com/whats-in-a-retweet-the-data-behind-viral-messaging-on-twitter.html">data behind viral messaging on Twitter</a> another of note was Robert Scoble to close the loop on his tweet about the value of retweets... then things took and unexpected turn... an inconspicuous but cool "<a href="http://friendfeed.com/e/5bb5ec5b-d397-ba50-110a-ed93e5ced7e4/scobleizer-Saw-your-tweet-about-value-of-retweets/">like</a>" came in from Scoble on&nbsp;Friendfeed. </p> <p> <a href="http://friendfeed.com/e/5bb5ec5b-d397-ba50-110a-ed93e5ced7e4/scobleizer-Saw-your-tweet-about-value-of-retweets/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3090/3127271164_87716e74c8.jpg" width="500" height="101" alt="Screenshot-Ben Hedrington - FriendFeed - Mozilla Firefox" /></a> </p> <p> Next thing I know Robert Scoble is using <em>me</em> as an example in a great <a href="http://scobleizer.com/2008/12/21/the-tale-of-20-likes-and-its-impact-on-news/">blog post</a> about events the mainstream media and even Internet media&nbsp;miss... </p> <p> Robert says: <blockquote>I love developers who try new things out. Check this out. Is this on TechMeme? No. Plus using Google’s App Engine, which is another trend we’re tracking: cloud computing.</blockquote> </p> <p> I couldn't agree more with the topic of that blog, even if I wasn't involved! You did <a href="http://scobleizer.com/2008/12/21/the-tale-of-20-likes-and-its-impact-on-news/">read it</a>&nbsp;right? </p> <p> <h3>This isn't about launching another web&nbsp;app...</h3> The fact this is possible is the real star here, the ability for anyone to bring an idea to the web in a highly reliable and scalable way for little to no initial investment shows a bright light toward the future... folks used to say the same for picking up some shared hosting for $5.95 and knocking out some PHP but realistically that app tipped over the second it saw real traffic and was hard to say whether it would be up day by day based on the other people, number of whom soaring each month, who shared your&nbsp;hardware. </p> <p> Google App Engine and Open APIs clearly show where the web is going, the playing field is leveled... get out there and deploy those ideas <em>you say</em> you have scrawled on those napkins that <em>you say</em> are going to revolutionize the world, the tools you need to prove it are out there right&nbsp;now. </p> <p> So, draw your own conclusions to the viability of my new app <a href="http://www.retweetradar.com">retweetradar </a> <em>-- No, please do! <a href="http://www.buildcontext.com/blog/about/">Contact</a> me with feedback on whether it is useful and any ideas to make it better --</em> it's really not a huge concern long term... but I don't believe it is possible to argue that these tools be it social media, cloud computing or whatever you want to call them are truly leveling the playing field, flattening the world and company hierarchies and making whatever the future of the web will be possible for <em>anyone</em>. </p> 'spy' makes "15 Useful Google App Engine Applications" on LouisGray.com!Ben Hedrington2008-12-04T20:35:29Z2008-12-04T20:35:29Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2008/spy-useful-google-app-engine-louis-gray-mike-fruchter <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" title="Google App Engine" src="http://code.google.com/appengine/images/appengine_lowres.jpg" alt="Google App Engine" width="142" height="109" /></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p> My little Social Media 'spy' application <a href="http://spy.appspot.com">http://spy.appspot.com</a> makes "<a href="http://www.louisgray.com/live/2008/12/15-useful-google-app-engine.html">15 Useful Google App Engine Applications</a>" on <a href="http://louisgray.com">LouisGray.com</a> written by <a href="http://www.michaelfruchter.com/">Mike Fruchter</a>! I just slid in there at 15... hoping to keep plugging along adding useful features and using 'spy' to <a href="http://www.buildcontext.com/blog/2008/08/05/social-media-spectator-sport-or-why-created-spy-appspot-com/">expose more and more folks to the value of Social Media</a>. </p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <p> Google App Engine really does make it possible to kick out an idea out into the world delivering scalability, quality and efficiency right out of the gate. I hope developers continue to discover it's power, Python and Django are nothing to be afraid of in fact I really value learning&nbsp;them. </p> <p> Thanks again to Mike and&nbsp;Louis! </p> 'spy'ing on Mumbai? Floored that my little app can help...Ben Hedrington2008-11-27T21:33:29Z2008-11-27T21:33:29Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2008/spy-mumbai-floored-help-spyappspotcom <div class="postimg"><a title="spy Usage" href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/3064240337/"><img class="postimg" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3073/3064240337_0ea77f8e03_m.jpg" alt="spy Usage" width="240" height="141" /></a></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p> As <a href="http://mashable.com/2008/11/27/twitter-search-mumbai/">Pete Cashmore</a> of Mashable, <a href="http://news.cnet.com/8301-13953_3-10109506-80.html?part=rss&amp;tag=feed&amp;subj=OutsidetheLines">Dan Farber</a> of CNet and many others have reported Twitter and social media in general are playing a huge part in receiving accurate and timely information from the crisis in&nbsp;Mumbai. </p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <p> While not in those leagues, in the last twenty four hours I've received notice of a number of posts written by bloggers looking to help people keep an eye on the events unfolding in Mumbai in real time and linking to <a href="http://spy.appspot.com/find/%23Mumbai?latest=25">http://spy.appspot.com/find/#Mumbai</a> some of them written by people with family and friends too near to the events... <em>I am floored</em>... <!--more-->This tool I created largely on a whim had no delusions of helping people in situations like these but none the less I am humbled to see that it has helped even one person in a context like this. It appears at some points the use 'spy' was seeing peaks at almost eight times the average number of requests per second from the previous days...&nbsp;wow... </p> <p> It's true social media opens many personal opportunities... to flatten your company's ladder, to enable passion in any niche space, to truly listen to your customers, constituents or opponents... but surely filling in this vital communication gap, reporting on a critical and emotionally charged event in a personal and unfiltered way, enabling people to keep closer to events effecting their families... is enough for me to say these channels are here to stay. Yes some folks tweet very inane events of their life, but today even skeptics need to step back and see just what these open channels&nbsp;allow. </p> Best Buy: I Spy Twitter - Social Media Efforts at Best Buy and My App 'spy' Featured in the Pioneer Press!Ben Hedrington2008-11-23T14:08:29Z2008-11-23T14:08:29Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2008/social-media-best-buy-spy-spyappspotcom-pioneer-press-ben-hedrington <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" title="twitter" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3008/2397881577_27e294dca9_t.jpg" alt="" width="100" height="100" /></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p> <a href="http://twitter.com/jojeda">Julio Ojeda-Zapata</a> technology writer and columnist at the <a href="http://www.twincities.com/">St. Paul Pioneer Press</a> and author of <a href="http://tinyurl.com/twitinbiz">twitter means business: how microblogging can help or hurt your company</a> wrote a nice piece today in the Sunday Pioneer Press titled "<a href="http://www.twincities.com/ci_11049791">To twit or not?</a>" [Update: <a href="http://xrl.us/twitinbiz">PDFs here</a>] about three Minnesota companies finding some success on Twitter excited to see one of them was Best&nbsp;Buy. </p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <p> Julio captures well a few of our early efforts namely <a href="http://twitter.com/BestBuyTulsa221">@BestBuyTulsa221</a> and other folks in our stores Tweeting to help customers, <a href="http://twitter.com/jbweb">@jbweb</a> using Twitter to find others in the company passionate about projects she is working on crossing existing hierarchies effortlessly and <a href="http://twitter.com/bestbuycmo">@BestBuyCMO</a> shows the power of open thinking and openness to feedback all the way at the top. Really exciting stuff, and I love the sub headline "<em>Best Buy: I Spy Twitter</em>" couldn't be more&nbsp;perfect! </p> <p> I am personally excited Julio specifically calls out the ideas behind my work on the application <a href="http://spy.appspot.com">'spy'</a> (more on <a href="http://www.buildcontext.com/blog/2008/08/05/social-media-spectator-sport-or-why-created-spy-appspot-com/">why I created 'spy' here</a>) and how we used it to display Best Buy buzz on in the "Hub" of our headquarters, exposing everyone to the Social Media conversation and it's relevance to our business. I believe, especially in economies like today's, finding new ways to tune into the conversation around your company can only help you focus on the right things and solve customers problems more&nbsp;quickly. </p> <p> Thanks to Julio and the Pioneer Press for great coverage of our early efforts hopefully there will be more fun to report as this whole space moves forward, I know I am not stopping&nbsp;here. </p> <p> This may be a bit self promotional but capturing Julio's 'spy' coverage here: <blockquote>Ben Hedrington, a Web developer for the company's BestBuy.com division, is such a Twitter fanatic that he created a new way to troll the twitterverse — along with other "social media" services such as FriendFeed and Flickr — via a built-from-scratch search engine he has christened "Spy" (<a href="http://spy.appspot.com">spy.appspot.com</a>). </p> <p> Though fashioned in Hedrington's spare time, Spy became an instant Best Buy hit. At one point, a big screen in Best Buy's vast main lobby had Spy displaying the latest Best Buy-related buzz on Twitter. Spy has come in handy for Best Buy-related events, too. A screen behind the speakers is typically present, displaying a rolling series of event-specific tweets so staffers not physically present are able to chime in on discussions by using their Twitter&nbsp;accounts. </p> <p> Even Barry Judge, Best Buy's chief marketing officer, has Spy running in his office so he'll know what is being said about his company on Twitter. Judge, a recent Twitter convert, said the service complements his blog and is a good way to gauge customer sentiment while speaking directly to his clientele in a way that feels&nbsp;genuine. </p> <p> When Best Buy recently botched a phased rollout of a rewards-card program (meant to initially target 1,000 folks, it was e-mailed to about 7 million instead), Judge used his "BestBuyCMO" Twitter feed as well as his blog for mea&nbsp;culpas. </p> <p> <span class="dquo">"</span>Full transparency was helpful for maintaining trust," Judge said. "Twitter gave me that visibility."</blockquote> </p> How To: Install and Browser Test Your Site With Google Android Right on Your PCBen Hedrington2008-11-21T22:16:29Z2008-11-21T22:16:29Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2008/android-sdk-browser-test-emulator-pc-google <div style="border-top:1px dotted #000;border-bottom:1px dotted #000;padding:.4em 1.4em;margin:1em;background-color:#FFFACD;font-size:1.2em;font-style: italic;"> <p>Update 4/2011: A more recent guide to <a href="/blog/2011/android-browser-emulator-windows-7-nexus-s-xoom-tablet">setting up an Android Nexus S and Xoom (Honeycomb) emulator</a> on <a href="/blog/2011/android-browser-embulator-windows-7-nexus-s-xoom-tablet">Android 2.3 and 3.0 is here</a>.</p> <p>The post below is for Android SDK versions 1.1 (2008) and&nbsp;under.</p> </div> <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" title="Google Android Browser Testing" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3287/3049449144_ebba7b4b86_m.jpg" width="129" height="240" /></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p> Browser testing is critical to any web developer, designer... really any web professional. You need to know how your users or customers are seeing your work through the multitude of browsers and devices available to them, new ones become available every day. I wasn't able to find a quick answer to browser testing on the new Google Android mobile platform so I blazed a trail, captured and boiled down the steps so anyone can follow and get Android up and running on their Windows PC quickly and painlessly. <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <style type="text/css"> ol.howto {margin-left:1.5em;} ul.screens {margin-left:1.5em;} ul.screens li {clear:both} img.rightscreen {float:right;margin:0 0 1.5em 1.5em;} img {border:1px solid #999;padding:5px;} code {font-size:.9em;} </style> <h3>Installing the SDK and&nbsp;Browser</h3> <ol class="howto"> <li>First things first visit the <a href="http://code.google.com/android/download_list.html" target="_blank">Android SDK download page</a> and download the Windows version of the&nbsp;SDK.</li> <li>Create a folder under C:\Program Files called&nbsp;"android-sdk"</li> <li>Un-zip the contents of the Android SDK you downloaded into this folder. <!--more--><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/3049449032/" title="Installing Google Android SDK"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3135/3049449032_e57924e5ce_m.jpg" width="240" height="180" alt="Installing Google Android SDK" /></a></li> <li>Now that you have the all files you need to edit your "path" so Windows can find the emulator when it is run. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/3049449068/" title="Installing Google Android SDK"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3190/3049449068_98d9226b26_m.jpg" width="240" height="180" alt="Installing Google Android SDK" /></a> <ul> <li>Right click on "My&nbsp;Computer"</li> <li>Select&nbsp;"Properties"</li> <li>Click the "Advanced"&nbsp;tab</li> <li>Click on the "Environment Variables" in "System Variables" scroll down to&nbsp;"Path"</li> <li>Double click on "Path" move to the end of the "Variable value" and paste in this path (don't forget the semicolon to close the previous path) <code>;C:\Program Files\android-sdk\tools</code></li> <li>Click "Ok" on all open&nbsp;windows.</li> </ul> </li> <li>Ok now the SDK is set up to run, lets quickly create some shortcuts icons to launch our emulator. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/3049449078/" title="Installing Google Android for Browser Testing"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3027/3049449078_c5ed458b22_m.jpg" width="240" height="180" alt="Installing Google Android for Browser Testing" /></a> <ul> <li>Right click on your Desktop, mouse over "New" then click&nbsp;"Shortcut"</li> <li>Paste this command into the entry field then click next <code>emulator.exe -datadir "C:\Program Files\android-sdk" -skin HVGA-P</code></li> <li>If you like give your shortcut a name I chose "Android - Standard" (I chose "Standard" for a reason if you want to try the other versions see "<a href="#extracred">Extra Credit</a>")</li> </ul> </li> </ol> </p> <h3>Success!</h3> <p> Double click your shortcut and you should see the Android emulator starting up, it does take a little time the first run. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/3048608453/" title="Google Android Emulator Browser Testing"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3003/3048608453_ec62556cdf_m.jpg" width="240" height="180" alt="Google Android Emulator Browser Testing" /></a> </p> <h3>Doing Some Quick&nbsp;Testing</h3> <p> <ul class="screens"> <li><img class="rightscreen" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3204/3048608471_ea3aa23fdf.jpg" alt="10" width="270" height="500" /> </p> <p> Once the emulator phone boots, click "Menu" on the phone and proceed to the&nbsp;browser. </p> <p> Click on the Browser&nbsp;icon</li> <li><img class="rightscreen" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3074/3048608493_f59e7da6a0.jpg" alt="11" width="269" height="500" /> </p> <p> Click "Menu" again then click "Go to&nbsp;URL"</li> <li><img class="rightscreen" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3286/3048608509_99247ee681.jpg" alt="12" width="273" height="500" />Type in the URL of the site you are interested in and see what your users&nbsp;see!</li> <li><img class="rightscreen" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3287/3049449144_ebba7b4b86.jpg" alt="13" width="269" height="500" /> </p> <p> That should be enough to get you going, there is a lot more to find in the Android emulator poke around and understand the experience on these new devices and keep looking out for new ways your users are seeing your&nbsp;site. </p> <p> -Ben</li> </ul> <div style="clear:both"><!-- --></div> <h3 id="extracred">Extra&nbsp;Credit</h3> If you are interested there are three more iterations on the Google Android screen that will be in users's hands. Create shortcuts for these commands if you'd like to try&nbsp;them. </p> <p> <code>emulator.exe -datadir "C:\Program Files\android-sdk" -skin HVGA-L</code><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/3049449168/" title="14 by hedrinbc, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3058/3049449168_cb41dca5ab_t.jpg" width="100" height="75" alt="14" /></a> </p> <p> <code>emulator.exe -datadir "C:\Program Files\android-sdk" -skin QVGA-P</code><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/3049449186/" title="15 by hedrinbc, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3241/3049449186_bc51fc231c_t.jpg" width="100" height="75" alt="15" /></a> </p> <p> <code>emulator.exe -datadir "C:\Program Files\android-sdk" -skin QVGA-L</code><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24842634@N04/3049449206/" title="16 by hedrinbc, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3197/3049449206_96cb280035_t.jpg" width="100" height="75" alt="16" /></a> </p> Paving a Path to the Truly Mobile Web: Mozilla Fennec Alpha 1 ReleasedBen Hedrington2008-10-20T20:30:29Z2008-10-20T20:30:29Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2008/mozilla-fennec-alpha-future-mobile-web <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" title="Mozilla Fennec Logo" src="/media/img/oldposts/fennec.png" alt="" width="125" height="125" /></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p> My back story: I recently got into a friendly argument with some Mobile experts on a <a href="http://readwritetalk.com/2008/10/07/rww-live-mobile-app-development/">RWW Live: Mobile App Development</a> call, I threw on my rosy colored glasses and spoke of a time where the Mobile web browser has access to device features like GPS, Contacts, etc we could leverage what we learned on the web and build even cooler more contextual and helpful Mobile Web apps that worked everywhere... and was told maybe... someday... but for the foreseeable future we'll be building our apps 20+ times and asking carriers permission to do so (listen to the <a href="http://readwritetalk.com/2008/10/07/rww-live-mobile-app-development/">MP3</a>, really!)... well the news today strikes me well, the glasses are rosy&nbsp;again! </p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <p> <h3>Mozilla has the&nbsp;Vision</h3> Today Mozilla fires the first shots across the bow of the future Mobile web<!--more-->, or as <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitchell_Baker">Mitchell Baker</a> and many others put it "<a href="http://buildcontext.com/blog/2008/05/09/the-mobile-web-may-just-may-drive-forward-the-web-of-tomorrow-thoughts-from-mitchell-bakers-mozilla-keynote/">One Web</a>." Today Mozilla launched the first alpha release of <a href="http://www.mozilla.org/projects/fennec/1.0a1/releasenotes/">Fennec</a> it's mobile browser that has goals to re-envision how we will use our Mobile device's simple web&nbsp;browsers. </p> <p> [Quotes from <a href="https://wiki.mozilla.org/Mobile/FennecVision">FennecVision</a>] <blockquote>Fennec will bring a true Web experience to mobile phones and other non-PC devices, yet take advantage of the specific opportunities for new and useful user experiences enabled by mobility and telephony.</blockquote> </p> <p> Even in it's first release it will break huge ground delivering the first of breed access to the device's GPS and they have goal to do the same across many other device&nbsp;features. </p> <p> <blockquote>It will integrate smoothly with device features, including easy initiation of phone calls from Web pages, access to local search, maps and directions.</blockquote> </p> <p> <h3>Curing Fragmentation? (ok at least a&nbsp;start)</h3> </p> <p> <blockquote>Fennec will be the mobile Web browser that content and application developers can target to create great software for mobile phones, rather than the plethora of native platforms and programming languages required to reach people in a mobile environment today. Any developer with skills in HTML, CSS and JavaScript will be able to develop for mobile.</blockquote> </p> <p> Hard to argue with any of this, in my mind aside from the carriers this is the biggest limitation seen today with Mobile&nbsp;development. </p> <p> <h3>Don't overlook this Mobile Web&nbsp;milestone</h3> This seemingly small browser release will in the future be noted as a milestone in the evolution of Mobile and the Mobile Web. The path this release sets into motion, I believe, will make possible to reuse the years of learning we've compiled as the web grew up moving our experiences Mobile with the same rich capabilities of the browser we have on the desktop. On top of that web learning we throw in access to key Mobile features like GPS and likely soon address book and calling... the ability to really build for a users context is now real, making the Mobile web browser the true platform of the future... and delivering, as closely as possible, One Web. A web that sits in the palm of your hand and works seamlessly with your life regardless of your current location or&nbsp;device. </p> <p> Rosy indeed...&nbsp;-Ben </p> Can Making Social Media a Spectator Sport Move it to the Mainstream? - Why I Created spy.appspot.com.Ben Hedrington2008-08-05T09:23:29Z2008-08-05T09:23:29Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2008/social-media-spectator-sport-or-why-created-spy-appspot-com <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" title="Spying on Google App Engine" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3071/2687899958_032c48087f_m.jpg" alt="" width="240" height="180" /></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p> There is much conversation <a href="http://www.25hoursaday.com/weblog/2008/05/21/NoteToWeb20CompaniesEarlyAdoptersAreNotTheMassMarket.aspx">among</a> <a href="http://scobleizer.com/2008/07/29/the-passionates-vs-the-non-passionates/">bloggers</a> <a href="http://howtosplitanatom.com/news/the-webs-dirty-little-secret/">lately</a> about targeting early adopters versus the mainstream, as <a href="http://scobleizer.com/2008/07/29/the-passionates-vs-the-non-passionates/">Scoble</a> would say the passionates versus the non-passionates, should we be excited when the early adopters love our product or service but the masses don't understand&nbsp;it? </p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <p> No, we shouldn't we need to find ways that show the value of what we do to the mainstream otherwise we'll be here talking to ourselves for years... how can we create that passion, or at least show&nbsp;ours? </p> <p> The creation of my <a href="http://code.google.com/appengine/">Google App Engine</a> project '<a href="http://spy.appspot.com">spy</a>' has created a wave of conversation <!--more-->among my close daily contacts, in my company and even from the <a href="http://friendfeed.com/e/e062480e-c1d6-4a8c-a6ec-e73ef87690cb/The-Google-App-Engine-Team-using-spy-on-Flickr/">Google App Engine team</a> itself, but to me it's not the JSON feed compositing, the jQuery goodness or even the fun of trying out the App Engine itself... none of that is really that new or complicated it's about simplicity and visualizing the social media conversation that give meaning to the applications like <a href="http://twitter.com">Twitter</a> and <a href="http://friendfeed.com">FriendFeed</a> and I believe a larger understanding of social media in general to its 'viewers'. <h2>Viewers?</h2> Yes 'viewers', many need to see the value for themselves before they'd ever jump in and create that first FriendFeed account while we, the early adopters, scurry around and try to sign up for the newest thing in the first hour it's created (Plurk, Identi.ca, Cuil&nbsp;anyone?). </p> <p> You see, I talk to (real "normal") people every day and similar things happen... <blockquote><em>Me:</em> "hey, I saw a great post on FriendFeed today, I commented back a tweet to Robert Scoble and he responded back to me in like 5 seconds" or maybe "last night Leo Laporte 'liked' my post about spy!" <em></em> </p> <p> <em>Them:</em> "huh, cool I guess"</blockquote> it just doesn't mean anything to them... I got the opportunity to talk to people I respect and have never met in a here to for unprecedented manner thanks to social media... but to them it is chatter, buzzwords, etc... if I would have got an email maybe that would have meant something to&nbsp;them? </p> <p> These back channel social conversations just don't hit home yet for the masses, it is really cool but not impactful to their life... this is where my idea for 'spy' was born. How could I make listening into the social media conversation <em>about something you care about</em> as low impact as turning on your TV. How can you show someone meaningful discourse via these new channels that they are overlooking or discounting? <h2>A glimpse of social media from your&nbsp;armchair</h2> So I did something about it, I combined feeds from Summize and Friendfeed to bring together the posts over a given time period and set them to scroll using some packaged JavaScript libraries, this created a simple interface that put in your face exactly what is being said about something that is relevant to you, say a <a href="http://friendfeed.com/e/bf4ce301-22a9-3b11-4987-abce8fb795ed/Check-out-this-cool-Twitter-site-that-rolls-up/">conference</a> you happen to be at, a <a href="http://spy.appspot.com/find/best%20buy">company</a> you work for, watch a <a href="http://twitter.com/labnol/statuses/867952981">news event</a> unfold in front of your eyes <a href="http://twitter.com/moon/statuses/867966263">before the US media is reporting</a> it or maybe the news on your favorite <a href="http://spy.appspot.com/find/obama">presidential</a> <a href="http://spy.appspot.com/find/mccain">candidate</a>. </p> <p> <h2>Tipping&nbsp;Point?</h2> What I saw was once I put something to scroll on a TV in front of someone that they care about people perked up, they laughed, they showed their friends, when a negative or odd post about their company or cause showed up they said "why would people say that online" my answer was two fold... <blockquote>a) it doesn't matter why they are saying it, they are... <em>and we need to be&nbsp;listening</em> </p> <p> and </p> <p> b) if they are saying it online they are, at least, saying the same thing verbally to all of their friends and it is affecting your company or cause... <em>and we need to be part of the conversation, it <span style="text-decoration: underline;">is</span> our brand</em></blockquote> The next logical question from them was "how do we respond?" Yes! This engagement tipping point I believe is what social media needs, it's not about newer technologies it needs to be about the conversation its value and its increasing relevance to everything we&nbsp;do. </p> <p> From our early adopter lens here is no reason that everyone in your company is not participating in the conversation and monitoring their interests, but you need to start from somewhere you need to put the candy infront of the masses and let them decide the value for themselves to me visualization and simplicity are the key to this tipping&nbsp;point. </p> Responsible Corporate Laptop Stickering!Ben Hedrington2008-05-29T19:41:29Z2008-05-29T19:41:29Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2008/responsible-corporate-laptop-stickering <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" title="Laptop Stickers" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3124/2534566827_9787b40d38.jpg" alt="" width="125" height="125" /></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p> So lets say you are a web guy at a big mid-western corporation and you at the <a href="http://sf.web2expo.com/">Web 2.0 Expo</a> this year and pick up a handful of cool stickers, then you see folks like <a href="http://scobleizer.com/">Scoble</a> (<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/scobleizer/2515577874/">Mac</a>, <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/scobleizer/2515479216/">PC</a>) and everyone up in the <a href="http://www.blogtropol.us/">Blogtropolus</a> with their laptops stickered end to end... you need to use those stickers... <!--more-->you need to be like those valley guys... you need to show where your allliances lie and spread the word... but can you? You've got the standard leased HP laptop, even with the barcode right at the top formally proclaiming you as a cog in the&nbsp;machine. </p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <p> <span style="font-size:1.2em;front-weight:bold">I think you can... You just need some Responsible Corporate Laptop Stickering!</span> <h3>How&nbsp;to</h3> <img class="howtoimg" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3110/2535378518_2cba87834c.jpg" alt="" width="400" height="300" /> </p> <p> Grab your Clear Contact paper (available at most general home goods stores like Target and Wal-Mart, it's usually used for covering old cabinet shelves) and a scissors, choose a size bigger than your sticker, cut cut&nbsp;cut... </p> <p> <img class="howtoimg" src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2051/2535378604_6c1904c274.jpg" alt="" width="400" height="300" /> </p> <p> ...place your sticker on the face of the Contact paper and cut around the sticker, peel off the paper backing and spread on your laptop cover as you&nbsp;like. </p> <p> <img class="howtoimg" src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2164/2535378804_377d857b0f.jpg" alt="" width="400" height="300" /> <h3>Ta&nbsp;da!</h3> Now you have a canvas for showing off your stickers and if worse comes to worse you can peel it right&nbsp;off. </p> <p> <img class="howtoimg" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3067/2535378712_7ffc8e9d7e.jpg" alt="" width="400" height="300" /> </p> <p> Re-positionable, removable you've got it&nbsp;all! </p> The Mobile Web may just may drive forward the web of tomorrow. - Thoughts from Mitchell Baker's (Mozilla) KeynoteBen Hedrington2008-05-09T09:22:29Z2008-05-09T09:22:29Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2008/the-mobile-web-may-just-may-drive-forward-the-web-of-tomorrow-thoughts-from-mitchell-bakers-mozilla-keynote <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" title="Mitchel Baker" src="/media/img/oldposts/mitchellbaker.png" alt="" width="125" height="125" /><a class="attr" href="http://flickr.com/photos/x180/2441971046/">Photo: Duncan Davidson</a></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p id="mead13">I wanted to capture my thoughts intermixed with quotes from <a id="mead8" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitchell_Baker">Mitchell Baker</a>, Chairman, Mozilla Foundation at the recent <a href="http://sf.web2expo.com/">Web 2.0 Expo</a> keynote entitled <a id="mead9" href="http://en.oreilly.com/webexsf2008/public/schedule/detail/3622">Opening the Mobile Web</a>, it was truly a great concept and conversation and eye opening for me to see there is real commitment to making the browser (which Mitchell would say is a poor metaphor, but that's another story) the true platform of the web regardless of the device. Video: <a href="http://web2expo.blip.tv/file/856176/">Mitchel Baker: Opening the Mobile&nbsp;Web</a></p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <h3>Your Mobile experience just may be your web experience of&nbsp;tomorrow...</h3> <p id="mead14">Seems counter intuitive huh? it did to me at first... <!--more-->we all know where we are as far as Mobile capabilities... browsers are clunky and don't support the same things, the connection is slow and the screen is small so everyone you talk to says, "dumb down your design for mobile," "find a few most important things and put them on the first page," "think about your user only having a few seconds, in a rush, to get your key data," after we hear all that we simplify our application, for mine it was just search and find a store for <a id="mead16" href="http://m.bestbuy.com/">http://m.bestbuy.com</a> my first run at a quick Mobile Web prototype... but is this really the direction we are heading because of technical&nbsp;inadequacy?</p> <p>Mitchell Baker says no, and I very much agree... we are doing this because our customers want it to just work, to have unfettered access to our information from any context and any device... to simply and efficiently get to what they need wherever they are. <blockquote> <p id="mead21">You should not be thinking about what data can I get to or I've got this device so I can get to this data... ...or this device has a phone on it so I can't really get to the Internet I can only get to some part of it... that's a lousy setting... doesn't work well for people doesn't work well for developers -- there is no reason we need to build a world that looks like&nbsp;that...</p> <p id="mead24">The key of the Internet should be the same and what is that key that core it's information... What can I get to and what can I do with it... and that should not be dependent on the device I am&nbsp;holding.</p> </blockquote> <p id="mead29">Right, I agree give people access to what we know wherever they are, but the trap you quickly fall into is creating the Mobile version of everything, firing up new web servers, cutting features, rewriting copy, creating hundreds of Java apps... doubling (probably more) your work and removing at least some user value all in the name of making it Mobile... we need to find ways to put the critical information and functions back and make them work in the Mobile context without all this&nbsp;rework.</p></p> <h3>Because Mobile is different&nbsp;right?</h3> <p id="mead36">Mitchell sees this trend too, we are all designing for the "new Mobile use cases" and that is all good and fine but asks are they really new? Web users want easier access to more and more relevant information, using less keystrokes and have it available from wherever they are... is that new? No... it's not... she said and I believe, these paradigms will become more and more the accepted <em>web</em> (notice I didn't say "Mobile") practice, but it will involve a little&nbsp;rewiring.</p> <blockquote> <p id="mead41">I bet in a few years all of those use cases web are finding today for people using Mobile will be equally important wherever we are and that being at home doesn't mean we will live with outdated or clunky techniques... so I'm on a Mobile device I want things quickly I want the information I want, I want to get at them with fewer keystrokes... why won't I want that if I happen to be sitting at&nbsp;home?</p> <p id="mead44"><a id="mead45" name="gdf40"></a><a id="mead46" name="gdf41"></a><a id="mead47" name="yi-51"></a><br id="mead48" />These use cases are <em>convenience cases</em> that are driven by the constraints of the Mobile device that we will find very useful on machines that have bigger screens and memory and permanent connections... there are constraints when developing for the desktop we don't have with mobile devices...  mental and human constraints, experience constrains us... we have had 35 years of desktop and laptop machines and coming up on 15 years of the graphical world wide web... those form knowledge, experience and baggage about how we approach things... as we explore the use cases of Mobile devices we will find new ways to use our computers that will be equally important if we are sitting in an office or at home on a differently formatted machine because mental constraints are often the hardest to get past.<br id="mead49" /></p> </blockquote> <h3>Putting it out there, pushing the envelope towards “one&nbsp;web”.</h3> <blockquote> <p id="mead62">There is one web for most people the Mobile Web is irrelevant, it should be something we don't think about and basically is something we are not aware of... there is one&nbsp;web.</p> </blockquote> <p id="mead66">Mitchell is a "one web" purist, as you would and should expect from someone driving forward these concepts and taking them to reality and we should all appreciate it, it will simplify both our and our users&nbsp;lives.</p> <p>I tend to take a different but very related tact, from everything I am gathering the browser can and will be the center of the Mobile Web as many of us had predicted and hoped. The work we are now doing to understand, optimize and simplify the web as part of Mobile use cases <em>will</em> be rewarded by our users and I can sleep better knowing that within the near future creating hundreds of versions of a Java clients will quickly go from a "feature" to a funny memory of the past like the classic "Under Construction" animated&nbsp;GIF.</p> <p>Working within the current Mobile web browser set <em>is</em> possible -- it's not always fun -- but it is possible and relatively reusable across many devices... As the iPhone metaphors and quality browsers emerge (WebKit, Mozilla) it will be even clearer that this is the path...Why not jump in now? <h3>Jumping&nbsp;in...</h3> <blockquote> <p id="mead72">That's the way we will see the constraints and the creativity and this odd openness of expectations that has to be fulfilled on Mobile devices move back into our entire web experience... how do we get there? it's a better world for users... there is one web... you don't have to choose... your device doesn't limit you to the data of experience you can have.... well to get there we need and open development platform, an open web based development platform and of course coming from Mozilla we view FireFox as that&nbsp;platform....</p> </blockquote> <p id="mead77">Hear, hear Mitchell looking forward to developing for <a href="http://wiki.mozilla.org/Mobile/FennecVision">Mozilla </a><span id="mead78"><a href="http://wiki.mozilla.org/Mobile/FennecVision">Fennec</a> and the open Mobile Web.<a href="http://wiki.mozilla.org/Mobile/FennecVision"> </a></span></p> <br id="mead80" /> I'm ready to build for the "cognative surplus" - thoughts from the Clay Shirky - Web 2.0 Expo KeynoteBen Hedrington2008-04-29T08:49:29Z2008-04-29T08:49:29Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2008/im-ready-to-build-for-the-cognative-surplus-thoughts-from-the-clay-shirky-web-20-expo-keynote <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" title="Clay Shirky" src="/media/img/oldposts/shirky.png" alt="" width="125" height="125" /><a class="attr" href="http://flickr.com/photos/x180/2438164853/in/pool-web2expo08">Photo: Duncan Davidson</a></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p> Shortly after the keynote by Tim O'Reilly at the <a href="http://sf.web2expo.com/">Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco</a> last week we were treated to a talk with <a href="http://www.shirky.com/">Clay Shirky</a> author of <a href="http://isbn.nu/978-1594201530">Here Comes Everybody</a>, his talk for me crystallized why the phenomenon of social interaction, sharing and co-creation is thriving on the web today and why this "little" emergent concept might just be getting started changing the&nbsp;world. </p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <p> Thankfully the talk was captured on video by <a href="http://newsblaze.com/">NewsBlaze.com</a>: <a href="http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2708219489770693816&amp;q=clay+shirky&amp;ei=B6sQSJ2KEI62rgL51NWnBA">Clay Shirky at Web 2.0 Expo</a> (Video 17 minutes) and just now <a href="http://www.herecomeseverybody.org/2008/04/looking-for-the-mouse.html">transcribed</a> by Clay himself. <h3>Foundation</h3> Clay began foreshadowing this story with a story from the early industrial revolution as we put our collective minds and “civil surplus” to use creating libraries and museums, education for children, and electing leaders; that massive change from rural to urban and industrial ways of life taxed the minds of everyone involved... he told us the "cognitive heatsink" in that time was gin, dissipating the brain cycles and complication of changing from overwhelming our&nbsp;minds. </p> <p> Fast forward to the 20th century <!--more-->as more and more of the workforce started working 8 to 5, Monday to Friday a new concept emerged... free time. With this new free time, we were taxed to figure out what to do with it. We needed to fill it... along came the new "cognative heatsink" television "dissipating thinking that may have built up and caused society to overheat", successfully filling our time with entertaining stories and calming those pesky brain cycles as we adapted to the new way of working. <h3>Human thought… burnt to a&nbsp;crisp.</h3> Clay tells us today our "cognative heatsink" of choice, television, consumes 200 billion hours of human thought in the US alone, to put that in context Clay did some back of the envelope math that tells us the entirety of Wikipedia, all the pages, edits, talk pages, lines of code and the translation of every language is the equivalent of 100 million hours of human thought... That's right, our "cognative heatsink" today burns about 2000 Wikipedia's of human thought a year, in the US we spend 100 million hours (1 Wikipedia) a weekend just watching the&nbsp;ads. </p> <p> This all builds to the premise, how do we harness this cognitive surplus and really to what magnitude could this change our society? He believes that media is a triathlon - “people like to consume but they also like to produce and they like to share”... but often we, the creators of the current web, don't always allow or design for all three. Clay says "The interesting thing about a surplus is you don't know what to do with them at first, you can't... hence the sitcoms and the gin..." and that's ok, but now that we are realizing it and there are a few good examples and experiments out there, but what are we ready to do now to put this surplus to work? <blockquote>"Even a small change could have huge ramifications, lets say that everything stayed 99% the same, people watched 99% the television they used to but 1% is carved out for producing and sharing, the internet connected population watches roughly 1 trillion hours of TV a year that's about 5 times the size of the US in terms of consumption... that is 10,000 Wikipedia projects a year work of participation... I think that's going to be a big deal, don't you?"</blockquote> <h3>Exposing the possibility of&nbsp;participation.</h3> Clay's premise: "It's always better to do something than do nothing..." <blockquote>Did you ever see that episode of Gilligan's Island where they almost get off the island and then Gilligan screws something up and they didn't? I saw that one; I saw that one a lot when I was growing&nbsp;up. </p> <p> Grown men sitting in their basements pretending to be elves [referring to World of Warcraft]... At least they were doing&nbsp;something! </p> <p> Even <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lolcats">Lolcats</a>, even cute pictures of kittens made even cuter by little captions, hold out a invitation to participation, when you see a Lolcat what it essentially says is if you have some san-serif fonts on your computer you can play this game too... And thats a big change,&nbsp;right? </p> <p> I could do that too...</blockquote> <h3>Building to a crescendo, what are we doing here? "We're looking for the&nbsp;mouse."</h3> Clay tells a story from a guest at his dinner party: <blockquote>“… a dad sitting with his 4 year old daughter watching a DVD, in the middle of the movie she jumps up off the couch and runs around behind the screen... seems like a cute moment, maybe she was seeing if Dora was back there, but that isn't what she was doing... she was rooting around and the cables, Dad said ‘What are you doing?’... she stuck her head out from behind the screen and said ‘looking for the&nbsp;mouse’”... </p> <p> “Here's what 4 year olds know a screen that ships without a mouse ships broken... Media that's targeted at you but doesn't include you may not be worth sitting still&nbsp;for...” </p> <p> “It's also become my motto, when people ask what we [the collective industry] are doing... ‘we're looking for the mouse’ we are going to look every place a user or reader or listener or a viewer has been locked out has been served a passive or fixed or canned experience and ask ourselves if we carve out a little bit of the cognitive surplus we now recognize could we make a good thing happen... I am betting we can.”</blockquote> <h3>Building My&nbsp;Context</h3> Clay’s story is both easily relatable to what we are seeing on the web and eye opening at the same time when you realize we haven’t even scratched the surface. The amount of time we burn off is staggering and the problems we could solve with that surplus are great. Working every day on the web we all know that Wikipedia itself along with other examples will be huge markers of our time, the level of collaboration and connectedness of the world it took to build these initiatives is unprecedented but the question always is creeping around “is this a fad?,” “who really does this stuff?,” “is this sustainable?,” “would I let those people edit my stuff? they’ll wreck it.” Clay’s story in part shows that the collective brain that is our society is looking for some exercise and genuinely wants to contribute; they need us as to open up, give up control and ask for help... to build participation and collaboration at the core of what we do and not as a bolt on non-integrated side forum to burn off their&nbsp;cycles. </p> <p> Much of what we do, even as for profit corporations, is play in markets of quality of knowledge, quality of perspective and trust all of which could be bolstered significantly by listening and participating in an unfiltered way with any collaborator willing to pick up the mouse and keyboard. In the next projects I consult on, I promise to find a way to include "the mouse" in the box as a design goal rather than a reactionary bolt&nbsp;on. </p> <p> Thank you Clay for the great&nbsp;talk... </p> Returning from Web 2.0 Expo - Going to start writing...Ben Hedrington2008-04-26T20:23:29Z2008-04-26T20:23:29Zhttp://buildcontext.com/blog/2008/returning-from-web-20-expo-going-to-start-writing <div class="postimg"><img class="postimg" title="Web 2.0 Expo" src="/media/img/oldposts/web2expo.png" alt="" width="125" height="125" /></div> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::Begin --> <p> Just returned from the <a href="http://sf.web2expo.com/">Web 2.0 Expo</a>, learned a lot, talked to and heard many smart folks talking about what is going on today on the web and where we believe it is all going. By writing this I am committing to distilling much of what I heard in order to better build my context for my work and join the conversation rather than being an&nbsp;observer. </p> <!-- Hyde::Excerpt::End --> <p> Me: <a rel="me" href="http://twitter.com/benhedrington">Twitter</a> <a rel="me" href="http://friendfeed.com/benhedrington">FriendFeed</a> <a rel="me" href="http://buildcontext.com/blog">Blog</a> </p> NoneBen Hedrington2000-01-01T00:00:00Z2000-01-01T00:00:00Zhttp://buildcontext.com/about/bio