Those Pictograms…

…that theoretically make things easier to understand are refusing to relinquish their penchant for obscurity:

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I mean; if a person trying to operate a car cannot read the words, “ON” and “OFF” located immediately below a vent no matter what country they’re in; perhaps they’re operating the wrong form of transportation.

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Drivers here in NB must interpret even weirder symbols that replace words.

Those Years Fly By

Convict

https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/08/us/iowa-inmate-life-sentence-died-trnd/index.html

Hey – makes sense to me.  Part of delivering what you promise, is clearly stating the promise.  Part of getting what you want is making the person promise that they will deliver what YOU want.

When a Product Tries to Be TOO “Easy to Use”

<< Sigh. >>

Yesterday, I wanted to transfer all the photos that my daughter has on her digital camera to my hard drive, so she could email one of them to her teacher.  The camera is fairly new to her, so I had never had to do this before.

In my dream world, plugging a camera into a USB port would be the same as plugging in a flash drive — you would see a whole bunch of files, and you could pick the ones that you want to grab.  (Similar to how I wish iPods would work.)

Alas, that is not the case.  As soon as the camera is plugged in, it makes your computer go to a web site to download an application.  You CANNOT retrieve the images from the camera without doing this first.

I already feel like someone’s takin’ me for a ride.

THEN, once you’ve downloaded and installed the app, and even before you have the actual photos off the camera, Kodak asks you to log into facebook.  Did you hear me?  LOG INTO FACEBOOK!!!  I presume they think that everybody wants to share every pic they take, with the entire planet, instantly.  Well I don’t.  And neither does my daughter.

I did NOT log onto facebook, and the Kodak app was mad at me, but let me continue nonetheless.  So I accomplished my goal (eventually).

For a complete neophyte, I can see how this might be a way to help them out.  But it just smells bad.  It’s like if they gave an appendectomy to every human who walked into a hospital.  Sure, you may need one someday, but MAKING you do it isn’t the right way.

I ♥ My Audi

First, I’ll tell you a story, and then I’ll tell you how it applies to marketing and product management.

Yesterday, the highway drive from my office in Saint John to my home in Moncton (about 150km) was a MESS. There was snow, rain, freezing rain, sleet, hail, and ice pellets. (Canadian readers will know there’s a difference between those last 4 items.) Most sane individuals had already abandoned any idea of driving through this crap, and those that were still on the road were going painfully slow – about 40km/h. And there were many motorists going nowhere, because they had slid off the road.

I, however, was gleefully cruising along at the speed limit – 110km/h. My Audi S4 has Quattro all-wheel drive. This is a suspension/computer system that dominated the European rally racing circuit in the early ‘80s because it was so good – Audi won nearly all the races. After learning in my youth how to winter-drive in conventional front-engine, real-wheel-drive vehicles; the difference in an S4 is shocking. In any road condition, at any speed, it feels like you are glued  to the road. My car probably saved my life yesterday.

Now to my point. Thirty/forty years ago, people expected  their cars to be unmanageable in snow, to break down periodically, to rust out after a few years, to be expensive to maintain, and to be sold by unscrupulous hucksters. Because of the entry of QUALITY vehicles into the North American market, all this changed. Now all vehicles are expected  to be well-made, easy to service, reliable, and available through honest distributors; whether they’re from Japan, Korea, Germany, Sweden, or Detroit.

Did the automobile industry increase their focus on quality, causing consumers to upgrade their expectations; or did consumers begin to realize that cars could be well-made, and start to demand it? Probably a little of both, but it was marketers who gauged the public expectations, and product managers who made the changes to their products. Chicken and egg, I know, but who cares? The lesson is that QUALITY became more important. I think this is a transferrable concept. Designing/making/selling/maintaining a higher quality product will almost always lead to success with your market.

Well, That Was Easy

I know that, as consumers, we are always supposed to try and get the best deal.  That’s one of the lynchpins of a free market.  I have been partially successful at this in the past.  For instance, we low-balled the offer on the house we currently occupy, and they accepted.  However, when I bought our old BMW in Vancouver, I actually walked out of the office when the salesperson would not accept our price, only to walk back in an hour later (with my tail between my legs) to pay his price.  But today, I got something just by asking.

It started when my cell phone, which is from the Pleistocene epoch, was getting no signal.  I called Rogers (Canadians will know that company), and the friendly tech support lady fixed me right up.  I figured, while I was on the phone with them, I would ask about something Bell Aliant (the OTHER Canadian telco giant) is doing in my neighbourhood.  For the last few weeks they have been stringing FibreOp cables on all the hydro poles.  Also, there is a billboard campaign throughout the city, advertising much lower rates than I currently pay Rogers for my broadband and cable TV.

So, the friendly tech support lady transferred me to a friendly “customer retention specialist,” who, on the spot, knocked 20% off my cable, land line, cell, and internet.  90 seconds of my time just saved me ~$40 per month.

Just by asking.

Full Disclosure

I have been using a 12-year old photo of myself on this blog, because it’s the only decent one where I’m wearing a tie.  I decided to come clean today and substitute a recent one (3 months old) where I have significantly less hair:

It was taken at a friend’s cottage on PEI* in August, and while not as professional as the previous, it’s more HONEST.  And that’s my marketing mantra, right?

“Tell the truth.”

And that really is a Club Soda in my hand – I didn’t Photoshop out a Stella Artois logo.

* BTW, here in the maritimes we say, “on PEI” as in, “on the Island,” as opposed to “in” Ontario or other mainland provinces…

Well, That Was Easy – “Quantum Jumping” Solves Everything

While browsing a frequently-updated breaking news site (newser.com), I stumbled across an ad for something called “Quantum Jumping.”  I almost never click on ads, but the snarky, know-it-all, ex-physics-major in me wanted to confirm that the people who ran the ad really had no idea what “quantum” means.  It turns out they do, but in a VERY bizarre manner.

This is a self-help scam much like The Secret, which was espoused by Oprah Winfrey and other celebrities a few years ago.  The essence of The Secret is that if you visualize yourself being succesful, you will be.  Oprah was either conned, bribed, or genuinely convinced, that the technique would benefit her 1 billion fans that she told them about it, so it became a smash (although fleeting) success.  Whichever it was, Oprah was either immoral, illegal, or stupid enough to do it.

Of course, The Secret probably works, the same way that concentrating all your effort on ANYTHING works.  If I wake up every day and tell my self that I’m going to be the best goddamn hot-dog vendor in the city that day, sooner or later, I will be.  I don’t need any mysticism or wonky rituals to do it.

But the subject of this post is Quantum Jumping.  I quote from their site:

“Quantum Jumping is the process of “jumping” into parallel dimensions, and gaining creativity, knowledge, wisdom and inspiration from alternate versions of yourself.”

They go on to explain how Max Planck and Albert Einstein first came up with the idea of alternate universes (partially true), but then leap to the conclusion that you can visit them at will.  And while you’re in that alternate universe, you can hook up with your alternate self, who may be a billionaire or professional athlete or (they admit) homeless person.  But you learn from the more successful versions of yourself and return to this dimension wiser and more equipped to succeed.

There are a LOT of details left out, because, of course, you have to order the DVD set to learn the whole program.  But it goes to show you that a little bit of knowledge (in this case knowledge of physics) is a dangerous thing.