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Hey sports fans, I need your feedback: hashti.me

**update** I've since taken hashtime offline.

I was watching the NFL Football Chiefs lose their season opener two weeks back.  OK, I wasn't watching all that much because they're not so awesome anymore and I'm not so much a huge fan anymore. So I started playing around with Twitter Bootstrap, a "sleek, intuitive, and powerful front-end framework for faster and easier web development".  The scaffolding is all about responsive web design.  It is cool enough.  I like jquery mobile a lot however.  This is different but since the whole demo was using Twitter I figured what the hey.

I thought a few weeks before "wouldn't it be cool if you could follow a game and teams all in once place without firing up TweetDeck?".  The entire sports universe isn't probably up to that type of social stream management...yet.  They'll have this in fantasy apps, but here's hashti.me anyway:

http://hashti.me  

I only input a couple games and have more plans, but no reason to continue without good honest feedback.

*no, hashti.me isn't a drug reference. it is a quick attempt at Twitter reference + sports reference + $3.99 godaddy credit = brevity

*go landscape mode in iPhones (iPad is fine)...CSS isn't playing so nice with me right now when tweets appear.

*there is a better way than iframes (I know) but for now developing on the api is second to getting feedback on the proof of concept.

*if you're logged into Twitter you can post from within the page, but scrolling can still be a bit funky.

*Go Chiefs.

13 decent sites to learn to code

Friends keep asking me and while there is a lot of crap out there that promise to teach you to be a freelancer charging $100/hr in days or become a ninja, these are decent. Some will say don't learn to code, but here are some sites to learn to code the basics to at least be more knowledgeable. Some paid, mostly start free. In no specific order:

How to use dropbox to host your website for free

If you're just practicing front end development you don't need a web host to test pages out on mobile or any other device. This only works for basic 'static' sites (no database really...limited javascript, etc) but is perfect to see something online quickly.  For doing mobile and html5 development when you don't want to keep using iOS simulator (or don't believe it or want to send to friends Android devices to see how things lay out) it is perfect.

1. Put the index.html file in the Public folder (include CSS, JS files and folders as well)

2. Create the public URL for sharing like normal

3. Email, text, etc to yourself and open as normal on your mobile device.

4. If you want to get really fancy and put a customized domain with it:

  1. Go to settings in your domain admin (godaddy has it in domain management / information).
  2. Forward to your Dropbox URL
  3. You can mask (keeps the new domain) or unmask (forwards to the dropbox URL)

*If you totally screw up your files Dropbox even has versioning...not that you'd want to depend on it that much.

*It will take a few mins for changes to take effect and you'll want to clear cookies in your browsers if you're making a ton of changes.

Hope this helps.  Any comments: andy at odower dot com

 

Long time, no blog. No more.

I've been busy since the new year.

Recap of latest 9 month chapter:

Loving Chicago with my wife.

Replacing 'want, need, more' with 'thank you'. Feel much better.

Closed biz. More on that soon.

Started new gig @ cars.com. More on that soon.

Digging into code much more. Yep, I'd better have something soon.

Working out much more. Setting bigger goals.

Went to Canadian wilderness with family. Didn't want to leave.

All in all, a bunch of 1st world problems, losses and victories. I'm lucky to know great people.

Back in a few with a lot of takes...until then, a great quote that Mel likes:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

*Backstory to the pic: Muir invited Teddy to see Yosemite Valley in 1913. Teddy ditched his personal guard and escaped into the wilderness with just Muir for 3 days, camping under the stars. It was there that Muir convinced Teddy to save Yosemite and it eventually became a national park. Couldn't see it possible for any world leader to do something like that today.

How Google+ combines intent and social proof.

The three things that Freakonomic's authors will tell you that influence someone's decisions are: economic, social and moral. In terms of influence in commerce:

Amazon, Ebay and Google own economic.

Facebook owns social.  Obviously Twitter is coming, but not integrating with brands front and center the way Facebook does.

No one owns moral.  Maybe a non-profit brand like the Red Cross.  But most tie-in moral into their offering.  No one does it exclusively for commerce.  Tom's Shoes aren't bought just because they're a moral company.  Much goes into the messaging on the economic and social side.

The best brands tie in all three.

But, what happens now when Google combines economic and social?  Intent and demographics and context?

The difference between Facebook ads and Google ads are intent.  Most people don't search Facebook for their nearest restaurant or a shoe they want to buy.  Sure, they spend more time on Facebook but when it comes time to INTEND to buy they go to Google.

The new place to play is ads (insert daily deals here too) in context and discovery: where you live, where you socialize, where you are right now.  Best of all, the ads are smart and come to you...but they don't care about your real intent...they want to form your blank slate of a day with their intent.   Native apps (iOS, Android, Windows) and HTML5 apps with geolocation and social API integration are just the beginning.

With a new layer of social search results you be able to get your economic + social influencers in one place.

For those that don't care what the experts say, they just want to know if their friends own it, bought it, liked it, etc...you're all set.

Wait, I guess if you're friends would just join Google+ or Google will integrate Twitter and Facebook a bit more, then you'll be all set.  :(

The Top 12 Product Management Mistakes

Full credit to www.svproduct.com for this piece. When talking to start ups, the all too common theme is the product takes a back seat to the blue sky business model.  Assumptions and tunnel vision that people will instantly like + use + share your product give way to time wasting long term planning over the pragmatic build > test > learn > re-build cycle.

Maybe just print and toss this up on your wall.

Same goes for a new internal product or project at a large company.

Tools I'm using

Just need an update

Building IntroFly like crazy. Fundraising.

I've been learning to code Ruby on Rails.

Experiencing everything Chicago has to offer.

More to come....back to Fundraising.

What does Facebook's Open Graph know about you + friends?

To see what data you are sharing with the world (ok, just every site you use Facebook Connect to create an account), just type in: http://graph.facebook.com/yourusername

To see your friends' data you are sharing:

http://graph.facebook.com/yourusername/friends

*If you don't know your Facebook username, go here: http://www.facebook.com/username/

**If you have tight security settings already, you'll probably get "o auth required" type messaging. You're ok.

Then, set your security settings to allow or not allow all this info...your decision. FB says it aggregates this info you share, the sites you share it with to then give you a better experience / more targeted experience. Sooo, the tradeoff to signing up to 3rd party sites with Facebook Connect is it is easy/fast for you and the site owners, everyone gets more data (especially FB) and then you IDEALLY get a better FB experience going forward. What could go wrong? :)

Conquering the enemy within...and staying UPBEAT.

Disclosure: the author, Rajesh Setty (@RajSetty), of the below book review is a friend that I've been fortunate enough to know.  Rajesh is an investor, entrepreneur, author (first book published at 13!) and speaker.  His advice on the challenges and opportunities of entrepreneurship are inspiring and motivating to say the least.

The review:

There are a TON of 'self help' books out there that get into the philosophy of why we're not happy, but they don't offer simple direction on what we should be thinking, when we should be thinking it and what the positive results will be if we act properly on those thoughts, moods and attitudes. Most of all, they don't come in a format that reads more like a manual (which we all need) that can be read over and over, for the reader to discover something new each time.

The first time I read the book a few sentences hit me like a ton of bricks. I wrote them on a piece of paper above my desk. The next time I read the book (1st sign that it is a valuable book!!) I found 3 more sentences that made me literally change the way I was interacting with people that day. The results? More than I expected.

If you are an entrepreneur or ever want to be successful in your personal OR professional life, read this book. Act on it DAILY. Then read it again 2 weeks later. Did you see better results? I did.  And I've read a lot of these types of books before.

Rajesh knows what he is talking about. A great author in this space doesn't just study life's interactions and the success of others, a great author lays out the blueprint that worked from his own successes and lessons learned from failure...what an honest concept that makes me want to stay upbeat.

Click here to buy the book and here to learn more about Rajesh.

The top 361 reasons to find mentors, not consultants.

 

OK, that title is my one feeble attempt at April Fool's joke.  Now that it is out of the way:

I had two great meetings with some very successful business leaders in Boulder and it got me thinking about the difference between mentors and consultants.

Since most of the conversations revolved around simplicity of product and messaging, it got me thinking about what my experiences have been as a marketing 'expert' helping others and finding experts to help me.

Therefore, I'm focusing on simple product and messaging part...the technology part will come in part 2 of this post.

Ironically, most marketing consultants (interactive, old-school or both) are the worst examples of their craft's mission: simple communication.

Check out their company websites and they'll have a laundry list of departments that they can help you with: website? check. logos? check. direct mail? check. "viral" anything? check. strategy? check, check check. wrapping it all into one tight bundle? check.

Where to begin? With ALL of them, of course!

The problem is that rarely do these consultants work with your best interest in mind.  Rarely do they say "wait, let's back up and start with the core message" because it isn't in their best interest to force you to be disciplined.  It is in their best interest for you to expand your message into 15 different mediums right away.  Rarely do they say "maybe its your product?" or "maybe we should start out simply?".

Don't get caught in this trap of thinking that you need to spend away your core messaging problems with more mediums.  Don't get caught into the trap of thinking that a consultant has your best interest in mind (although there are some great ones out there I'm sure).

DO find mentors who will shoot you straight and have a vested interest in seeing you do less, but better.  Why?  Because they're busy and can only help simple problems and follow ups are easier when you're both on the same page.  Often they will offer advice that is harder to take, but MUCH more beneficial in the long run.

Thank you @msitarzewski and @billflagg for giving me the advice that is harder to take, but easier to act upon.

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold

Spurlock is at it again...this time creating a 100% product placement / advertising driven documentary. In 2011, will people even care about the trend of ad-fueled everything?

This is different, but is it something that we're already used to?  Our music, videos...hell everything is supported by ads now.  If you read Chris Anderson's FREE, then you'll see why we all want "free" and we're willing to make the moral compromise of ads popping up to get our content quickly.

Time will tell, but as the lines blur between product placement and flat out entertaining commercials with a plot, our content will either get more diluted to please the brand's broad audiences...or more sharp to please the niche tribes of certain brands.

When facial recognition hits your iPhone

Right now all I need is to google your name to find out a LOT about you.

If I have your email address, then I know all the social networks you're in, what you've recently tweeted and where you work.

If I have an iPhone with a few cheap or free apps, I can scan a barcode, product or random object to find out tons of information.  Facebook already recognizes your face most photos.

So the question becomes: when will I just be able to take a picture of a stranger on a train and instantly know their name, social networks and workplace?

Facial recognition is coming a long way...hell, ads in stores are looking back at you and determining if you're a man or a woman and tailor (pun intended) ads to you.   License plate recognition already scans hundreds of cars as they fly by and give officers real-time data if you're a criminal or not.

When will the general population be able to do this with their friends.  Can they already?

Simple is hard. Complicated is easy.

When your problem is simple, then your checklist had better be simple. But it gets easy to throw in meetings, calls, brainstorming sessions, desk cleanings, procrastination sessions.  These seem like they're necessary for big projects to get done.  But, they're not.

It is hard to keep your checklist to 5 daily tasks...make that 3 daily tasks.  Do them, and do them well.  Create busy work for yourself and you're succumbing to the lizard brain that Seth Godin talks about.  It is hard to keep things simple and keep your daily tasks direct and measurable.  It is hard because we naturally want to solve more problems rather than go deeper on one we just solved.

If you're going to take a simple solution to a simple problem, do the hard work.  Say  no 99% of the time to anything that doesn't allow you to execute your simple solution.  Say no 99% of the time to people that want to distract you from the simple solution.

Aim small, miss small. Visualizing product management.

After some very big wake up calls about PM; then reading the Top 12 Product Management Mistakes I thought, "If PM is so important, yet so many people fall into the bigger-is-better, more-features=more-users, then maybe it is HOW we're thinking about PM that gets us off course".

From now on, on the wall, product features are physically posted on the outer limits of our bullseye and we KNOW that they don't affect the core product, or else they'd be the core product.

For me, visually seeing the distance of a feature from the core product helps me prioritize and say 'no' more often than 'yes'.

Maybe I'll design a poster out of this some day.

Service now can never = product later

When your goals are to make money now, how do they affect your goals to make money later? Do you spend night and day pleasing your first customers because your product isn't up to snuff?

Or do you just go make your product up to snuff?