e’s Week in Review: Gympact, Toutapp, Steve Jobs

e's Week in Review

January 2, 2012 – #01

Each week I want to share with you the interesting things I come across. It could be anything; blog posts, tech products, new apps, quotes, etc. If you’ve found any interesting tidbits or news, please share in the comments below, I’d love to hear about them.

First, Happy New Year! Can’t believe it’s 2012.

1. Gympact. Is your New Years resolution to hit the gym? Do you have a weekly gym goal? Are you willing to put money on it? This app is about tough love. Each week you develop a goal on how many times you’ll go to the gym. You then attach a price you’re willing to pay if you don’t meet that goal. The app works on check-ins. If you don’t meet the goal, you have to pay the dollar amount you had tied to that goal. If you meet the goal, you see some green from all of the other users who didn’t meet their goals. Gympact collects a 3% fee on these transactions. Read more of Mashable’s coverage. P.S – you can’t do drive by check-ins. You must be there for at least thirty minutes.

2. ToutApp. Curious on the activity within your email inbox? ToutApp is a pretty slick tool that produces data on your Gmail activity for all of 2011. It produces a pretty neat infographic with various levels of data – it shows you how many emails you dealt with (received) over the year and how quickly you responded to them. On the flip side it shows you how many emails you sent, to whom, how many were replied to, the time of month, day, etc. Read more of Mashable’s coverage.

3. Steve Jobs. I completed the tale of Steve Jobs written by Walter Isaacson. One of the greater books I have read. It portrays the true side of Jobs. It’s truly a tell all kind of book. Though the printed version may seem overwhelming by the thickness, you won’t be dissatisfied. As I was nearing the end of the book I wish there was more. It truly is fascinating the impact this man had on our society and the industries he flipped upside down. Simply put, he’s a genius. Check out my full review  here.

Now it’s your turn to share… Go.

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Steve Jobs Book Review

Steve Jobs Book Review

Steve Jobs is one of the most fascinating individuals of our time, therefore, this is one of the best books I have ever read. Walter Isaacson does it Pulitzer Prize style in delivering the true colors of Jobs. You know the saying, “the truth hurts”, absolutely, but the truth is what made Apple what it is today.

From his very first beginnings to his final breath it’s truly an inspiring and fascinating tale. I’ll leave the guts for you to read. Here are just a few highlights to dissect.

Apple is Steve Jobs.

The DNA of Steve Jobs poured into everything Apple – from employees to product design to the architecture of Apple properties to running and leading a business to advertising. He simply was Apple and he could con anyone into becoming a believer in his vision. He had a way with words and people.

Seeing the light with LSD.

Jobs credits taking psychedelic drugs for making him more enlightened. “Taking LSD was a profound experience. One of the most important things in my life”. It allowed him to gather a sense of what was truly important in life. It was ultimately a catalyst for his deep passion in changing the world. It wasn’t about getting rich, it was about making great products that would put a ripple through a lot of industries. It was about making something you believe in and creating a company that will last. There’s an admiration for those whose drive is to change people’s lives for the better – and not to mislead by just wanting to cash in. The green will follow.

A perfectionist to the Nth degree.

At a very young age Jobs’ father taught him that a drive for perfection meant that caring about the craftsmanship of the parts unseen. Jobs instilled this into everything he could put his hands on. From Apple to his living room – Jobs went with no furniture in his home for months because nothing suited his perfectionists drive. But it’s fairly easy (but mostly extremely difficult for a lot of people) – simplicity. “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” This shows from Apple hardware to software. The amazement that non-techies (young children!) can pick up an iPad and fully comprehend how to use it. It’s a matter of instincts and it’s path from simplicity.

Reality distortion field.

Jobs would stare at his employees (or anyone for that matter) without blinking until they basically took a sip of his kool-aid. This notion of his reality distortion field is essentially summed up like this: “you did the impossible, because you didn’t realize it was impossible.” People found it empowering as Jobs believed it truly inspired and motivated his team. He would change the course of computer history with a fraction of resources Apple’s competitors were working with. Why? Because of this notion of belief. He would slash a 3 month ship date to 2 with his employees working tirelessly. In the end – they did the impossible and shipped in 2. In addition to this inspiration for his employees, he believed that the rules simply didn’t apply to him. He had this sense that there are few people who are truly special, that are the chosen ones, the enlightened ones. He believed he was one of them.

Jobs had a way with words and a way of luring people into this distortion field. During board meetings the others had signals for when someone was being caught up in Steve’s world and needed to be tugged back to reality.

A true knack for business

One of Jobs greatest strengths was his ability to focus. “Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.” When he was invited back to Apple he simply came in and slashed 70% of the products Apple was creating at that time. Apple simply lost focus on the core product and was competing too much with its own self. It’s amazing the vision this man had and his intuition for operating a successful business, but yet, he had to sell himself (and his vision) during each one of these episodes.

Even to this day you see companies changing their model, features, systems, spending millions on market research to meet consumer demands. Jobs didn’t believe in market research because he knew that customers don’t know what they want until they’re shown. By having “A” employees and those with a real drive and passion for what they’re doing, they built products they wanted to use.

Apple products are truly revolutionary – they are the intersection of technology and creativity. Apple will go down in history as one of the greatest companies and brands of all time – turning many industries upside down.

Conclusion.

1.) He definitely was the chosen one and 2.) read the book for yourself. You’ll be in awe. Enjoy!

What are QR Codes?

Eric Ungs LinkedIn ProfileQuick Response Codes (QR Codes), defined by Wikipedia, is a specific matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code), readable by dedicated QR barcode readers and camera phones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded can be text, URL or other data. The 2D codes are able to hold much more information and data versus the more commonly bar code generally used for tracking inventory and products.

The QR code technology has been around for almost two decades but is now only starting to gain traction with widespread adoption here in the U.S. It’s origination can be tracked back to 1994 in Japan where Toyota created the code to track manufacturing parts.

Its use has evolved immensely since its conception with marketers across the globe finding creative uses in finally connecting the web (particularly the mobile web or via applications) with traditional print media. There is no longer this gab between both medias. Today’s consumers want immediate and relevant access to the brand. The  QR code allows for immediate interaction with the destination of the scanned code. A printed flier essentially comes to life with an abundance of interactive information.

How do QR codes work?

Create: First you’ll need to find a QR code generator (Kaywa, QRstuff.com, Kerem Erkan) which allows you to input actions (capabilities vary between QR code generators) on what you want the QR code to do when scanned. The QR code generator then outputs a 2D image with your actions (data) encoded into it.

There are different kinds of QR code generators that do different things. QRstuff.com allows you to create a shortened URL that gets encoded into the QR image. Once the image is created you can swap out the destination URL to be able to use the same QR code image for different destinations. The thing that stays constant is the image and the shortened URL, you’re able to change its destination.  TappInn allows you to build mobile smart sites so when a QR code is scanned you’re directed to a mobile site with your data and information. PingTags allows you to link your business card to your LinkedIn profile mobile site where one can acquire all of the necessary information. From the LinkedIn profile you can make a phone call, check your other social network sites, your blog, etc. From just one scan of your business card you have immediate access to their entire profile vs just the contact information that’s normally on a business card.

Direct: You can create QR codes that direct a user to a webpage, “Like” a Facebook fan page, SMS, text message, phone number, vCal, google maps, etc.

Scan: QR readers are applications (apps) that you’re able to download from your smartphone’s app store (iPhone – i-nigma; Android – Barcode Scanner; Blackberry – comes with the phone or QR Code Scanner Pro). Upon downloading and opening your QR reader app hold the phone’s camera over the QR code image until it is able to read the data. It will then direct you to the specified destination.

Where to use QR codes?

  • Business cards
  • Fliers
  • Vehicles
  • Ticket Stubs
  • Magazines
  • Billboards
  • Thank you cards
  • Window signage
  • Buildings
  • Mailings
  • All printed marketing materials

Where to point a user from the QR code?

  • To a website URL
  • To a coupon
  • To “Like” your Facebook Fan Page
  • To a contest
  • To an interactive application
  • To a YouTube video
  • To an iTunes download link
  • To a vCal, vCard, etc.
  • To a Google Maps location
  • To a PayPal buy now link
  • To post and share a tweet
  • (Tip: be sure to have the destination be mobile friendly)

QR codes are now able to connect the traditional print media with today’s digital age media and allows for immediate interaction with the user. Most QR code generators offer a robust analytics platform to track your printed materials that house the QR code image. I’d say expect to see these everywhere as the uses begin to expand and become simply more convenient.

Have you see any creative uses with QR Codes?

e’s Week in Review: LinkedIn Maps, Hyper Alerts, Facebook Stories

e's Week in Review

January 24-30, 2011 – #5

Each week I want to share with you the interesting things I come across. It could be anything; blog posts, tech products, new apps, quotes, etc. If you’ve found any interesting tidbits or news, please share in the comments below, I’d love to hear about them.

1. LinkedIn Maps – “Your professional world. Visualized.” This is currently an experimental project in the LinkedIn labs that puts your connections in a stunning visual. The visual sifts through your network and puts them into clusters based on the types of relationships. Take my LinkedIn Map for instance, it generated 7 different clusters in which I had the opportunity in naming them. This is a neat way to visually understand how your connected and to which category (relationship, industry, profession, etc.). It defines who your key influencers are by the size of the dot and font. It really is a beautiful visual. Make your own LinkedIn Map. Once generated it creates a landing page of your map in which it gives you several sharing options to share with your social peers.

2. Hyper Alerts – Facebook page administrators, it’s finally here, though not within Facebook, but via Hyper Alerts. You can register to receive alerts on any type of activity that takes place on your Facebook fan page. This new free service is extremely easy to setup. Simply; open an account, add new alert, input your page vanity URL, set frequency, and sit back while your email keeps you in the loop of any page activity. Via HubSpot, this service can also be used to stay on top of what your competitors are doing within the Facebook space. There’s no limit to the number of alerts you set. Nifty tool hugh.

3. Facebook Sponsored Stories – Facebook just recently launched a new ad platform of what they’re calling Facebook Sponsored Stories. Basically, when you either check-in to a brands physical location, engage on their page, or interact within their custom app that brand is able to grab those bits of content and use them in their Facebook ads. Not too long ago I posted a tweet about having dynamic photos instead of the brand uploading their own and the only thing being personalized is if your friend liked the ad. So whomever has previously interacted with the brand their photo would appear when someone in their network stumble across it. This is exactly what Facebook Sponsored Stories is doing but instead they’re using content that users have created. I think this is a great direction for the ad platform within Facebook. It creates a more trusted and personalized advertisement (not even sure you can call it that). As always there are two sides to every coin, some preferring to have users opt-in.

January Read: Referral Engine by John Jantsch

e’s Week in Review: Google Suggest, Sean Parker, Group Buying

e's Week in Review

January 17-23, 2011 – #4

Each week I want to share with you the interesting things I come across. It could be anything; blog posts, tech products, new apps, quotes, etc. If you’ve found any interesting tidbits or news, please share in the comments below, I’d love to hear about them.

1. Why Entrepreneurs Should Care About Google Suggest – Now, more than ever, brands from main street to wall street need to listen extra carefully and respond more quickly. In a recent post on Open Forum it talks about Google Suggest and Google Instant. Both basically filling out the rest of your search query for you. This may lead consumers to seeing negative ‘suggestions’ when it wasn’t their initial search intent. Leaving little to no control for the brand in its online reputation management efforts. The control; to listen intently and respond quickly. The post shows an excellent example of Google Instant gone wrong for Comcast.

2. Sean Parker Says “The Social Network” Is “Fiction” – via Mashable. Napster founder Sean Parker comments on the movie “The Social Network” during a panel conference in Europe with Paulo Coelho. Sean lashed out in saying the movie was a complete work of fiction and was dissatisfied in the way he was portrayed in the film. Sean and Paulo discuss “The Social Network” only for a brief moment, but the 23 minute video is worth finishing out. They touch on social media and the future of publishing. Quite interesting.

3. What Does Google Offers Mean for Groupon? It was only a matter of time for Google, after Groupon politely declined a $6 billion acquisition offer, to step into the group buying ring. It will definitely be interesting to see how this plays out. Google obviously has the infrastructure with their existing AdSense and AdWords products in their arsenal. But, we all know Google’s social efforts don’t really take off and with not having the men on the streets to compete with Groupon’s sales force leaves a competition that will be closely watched.

So, as Mashable ends the post, is there enough room for both Google Offers and Groupon to be in the group buying space?

January Read: Referral Engine by John Jantsch


e’s Week in Review: PingTags, LinkedIn Tips, iPhone

Eric Ungs Week in Review - 2011

January 10-16, 2011 – #3

Each week I want to share with you the interesting things I come across. It could be anything; blog posts, tech products, new apps, quotes, etc. If you’ve found any interesting tidbits or news, please share in the comments below, I’d love to hear about them.

1. PingTags – creates a QR code for your LinkedIn profile. Simply login using your LinkedIn credentials and it populates a QR code that you can put on any of your personal marketing materials; e.g. business card. Once the QR code is scanned the user can see any of your LinkedIn profile information. They’re also able to easily connect with you via email, a phone call, or click through to one of your profile links without having to input any data; it’s automatically populated. When you login into your PinTags account the dashboard displays analytics for your QR code; how many scans, what links were clicked, and what geographic location it was scanned.

2. 26 Tips to enhance your LinkedIn experience Social Media Examiner recently put together an excellent list of how to enhance your LinkedIn experience; recommendations, creating a share of voice within groups, introductions, connecting, etc. Aside from this post, Social Media Examiner does an excellent job producing news on the social space for all experience levels.

3. AT&T vs. Verizon 3G Networks – With the recent announcement of Verizon taking aboard the iPhone, it leaves a lot of people wondering if they should switch or not. This piece, via Mashable, goes into detail on the underlining differences between the two networks and what may be the best option for you. I for one am still hung up on getting a 4G EVO (Android) or the Verizon iPhone.

January Read: Referral Engine by John Jantsch

Will you be purchasing the new Verizon iPhone? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Users Don’t Like Relevancy

Connect with Facebook - Huffington Post

Just as I post Privacy on Facebook’s Social Graph I read Huffington Post Readers Dislike “Connect With Facebook” Feature via All Facebook. The ‘Connect With Facebook’ feature (just recently released on the Huffington Post site) allows Huffington Post to suggest articles based on your Facebook profile; likes, bio, etc.

Here’s a few comments on the users reaction to the new feature (via All Facebook post):

“I don’t want any such ‘recommend­ation’ feature to channel me away from stories or presume that my interests don’t shift,” wrote MyFatCat. “This might be good for your advertiser­s, but it’s bad for my reasons for coming here.”

A few other commenters echoed this reasoning, hinting that Huff Post readers generally consider themselves fairly well educated and read, and don’t really need stories to be “so intensely personalized” and “babyfed,” as Leviathan21 put it. “I think I’m capable of navigating my way around a website and clicking on articles that interest me. I don’t need someone to pick my articles for me,” he added.

Cdub1991 said that the move was “a rather obvious ploy to increase revenue by enhancing their ability to sell targeted marketing to their advertisin­g clients. I wish them well, but I think I’ll pass.”

There are two sides to every coin.

It’s always good to see both perspectives on issues.  I still think that having this relevancy, for majority of the user base, is an attractive feature. I for one have very limited time in consuming content (news, sports, gardening, etc.) outside of my day-to-day industry focus. Therefore, based on my Facebook profile, the articles that I want to read first show up first.

So this may leave us with two thoughts to ponder.

Facebook profile optimization.

In the future, as the social graph expands and connecting to sites via Facebook Connect, will Facebook users have to optimize their Facebook profiles? Will Facebook provide areas on our profiles where we know outside sites will capture that data first. So essentially, optimizing our Facebook profiles to better our ‘outside of Facebook, browsing experience.

Two prong approach.

When a user decides to view a site through the “Connect With Facebook” feature, would it make sense to have a subtle box appear with options? The options could include: view content based on your Facebook interests or view in standard mode, allow site to show friends activity on the site, allow to share via Facebook, etc. The idea is to give the user an option in choosing how to view the site. Granite the money making side of this approach would be against it as it would be harder for advertisers to target the users not choosing to utilize all of the ‘Connect With Facebook’ features.

What are your thoughts on this whole ‘Connect With Facebook’ approach? Do you find it becoming a nuance for your browsing experience or do you find it to be an added value when browsing, socially?