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Month: September 2010

Remember Those Disposable DVDs?

Today’s subject is the history of technology, and predictions we used to make about where we’d be today. So, if I really wanted to, I could go way back in time and write something cliché about what previous generations predicted we would have been driving by now… hovercraft,  rocket jet packs, personal spaceships, lunar rovers, out-of-body teleportation, etc. But I won’t. But still, it’s an interesting concept—talking about how far technology has come, where it was in the past, and where will be someday in the future. Sometime around 1997, my dad and I were having a discussion about video on the Internet and the future of video rentals in general. (And when I say video, I mean VHS cassettes). So while we slowly waited for our loud, external 56K dial-up modem to connect to AOL, my dad made a bold prediction that someday in the future, consumers would be able to get online and simply “dial in” to a website to watch their favorite video online, or even download a rental that expires after 24 hours. While I thought that was a good idea, I bet him that the Internet would never be able to handle such a massive data load and that the wave of the future in entertainment was in expiring/decaying DVDs. Remember those? Also called “DIVX” or “DVD-Ds,” or for most people, “those DVDs that...

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Kozmo.com – Overdue for Extinction

You know how there are some things in life that sound good on paper, but turn out to be not-so-great in real life? An idea where, when put into practice, you’re confounded by why it didn’t work, because it seemed so brilliant? Kozmo.com was one such idea. …except for that it wasn’t even good on paper. Anyone remember them? They were one of the goofiest internet startups of all time. Founded in 1998, the basic premise was: Consumers could turn on their computers, “dial up” (as we said back in those days) www.kozmo.com and put in an order for almost anything under the sun, and in less than an hour, a delivery boy would arrive at your door via bicycle, with whatever you ordered. And I really mean anything. You want celery sticks? Check. Peanut butter? No problem. Rambo III on DVD? Yep. All in the same order? Or by themselves? Delivered for free? In less than an hour? On a bicycle? At 2:00am? Yes, yes, yes. You get the point. Oh wait, there’s a catch though… you had to live in D.C., Seattle or New York. I’ll never understand how they even raised a single penny of Venture Capital. But raise it they did—to the tune of a cool $250 million. Say what? It’s true—this company actually existed. They had over a thousand employees too. One axiom we...

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Ace Hardware Is Awesome

I’ve noticed something in the past year or so: there are a lot of Ace Hardware stores popping up in Colorado Springs. Funny thing too—I thought Ace was on the verge of bankruptcy just a few years ago. And I thought, for sure, Home Depot would have buried them with their massive selection and super-low prices. Especially because Ace is so small comparatively. In my neighborhood, they share a building with Office Depot. And they’re the smaller of the two. So how does Ace do it? Here’s what I’ve noticed: I started going to the local Ace Hardware myself, mostly because it’s only five blocks from my house. But the more I go there, the more I’m impressed. Have you gone to an Ace recently? You’ll be impressed too. Here are just a few reasons why: Selection: their selection is much, much smaller than Home Depot… but you can almost always find what you’re looking for. If you’re in a pinch and need a float valve for your running toilet, Ace will have exactly one brand for you to choose from. But you know what? There’s absolutely no fluff. Everything they sell is solid. Staff: the employees are really nice, and they really do know where everything is. When you walk in the front door, the greeting lady will kindly say “welcome to Ace Hardware, can I help you...

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My Most Powerful Business Tool: The iPhone

Every once in a while, when I pull out my iPhone to put in a calendar item or check my email, someone standing next to me will strike up a conversation about smartphones and eventually say something like “I would get an iPhone, but they’re too expensive for me” or some other comment that seems a little ignorant and a comes off as a little annoying. I always do careful research before I buy things, and I can feel good about my purchases after the fact. But what’s interesting is that aside from the Apple-bashing and occasional snarky comments about how I just have an iPhone because I’m an Apple “Fanboy,” people who make fun of iPhone users are missing the point: the iPhone is the most powerful business tool I own. Why? Well, there’s the obvious fact that it’s a phone, and in the 21st century, you absolutely must have a cell phone to do business. On top of that, it’s also a very inexpensive phone. I pay $69.99 for unlimited minutes to anywhere in the USA at any time. No restrictions at all. That’s a darn good deal. For comparison, a few years ago, I had a Motorola phone, and I paid $129/mo for an unlimited plan with Sprint. So for a dollar-to-dollar comparison, switching to AT&T cost me 46% less per month just for phone service...

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