Tag Archives | cost

Help In Choosing a Specialist. It’s in the Value.

There is a trend I have been noticing in doing business on the Internet lately and like any place of commerce you eventually see this. What I am referring to is the commodification of services. In other words, if you are looking for a programmer or designer to help you with an Internet based communication project; be it a website, email newsletter, SEO, etc., you know that one can find a variety of people that vary in skill set and professionalism with what services they provide. More people providing the same skill sets compete with others on price, thus making it a commodity.

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Paying the price. One way or another.

time-is-money

Today I was reflecting upon a common occurrence among people that I talk to with regard to their website(s).

The people I talk to either want a new website or they have one and want to update/add/delete a design or function of the site. These conversations either happen through email or in person and become a dialogue of  back-and-forth brain picking. They ask how they can do “X, Y, and Z” and I then ask questions relating to strategy, objectives, and outcomes. These are great conversations, and I love having them to figure out what it is people are doing, and how I can help them out. Continue Reading →

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The Good versus The Perfect

rocks-460

Something I constantly strive for is perfection. I’ll admit it I am a perfectionist. I have written about this before. I have recently found myself editing, and re-editing just about everything in pursuit of some sort of non-existent pixelated nirvana.

While this quality can be seen as admirable it can also be seen as a pain in the ass. I tend to lean toward the latter. Trying to get things perfect can and will make people happy. Who would not be pleased with perfection? What is better than perfect? It’s nothing but positive when you have perfection. The underlying question is, what cost does one have to pay to get there?

When I work I do try to get things perfect and it costs me, big. It costs me time and what is more valuable than that? The difference in going from good, which is perfectly acceptable 95% of the time, to perfection is very high. It takes much more time to go from “good” to “perfect” in my experience. For example the change in time invested can go from 2 hours to get things “good” and then another 8 hours for “perfection.” To help out I will use a simple visual example.

Take a look at the image of rocks at the top of this post. The tower of rocks on the left are stacked well. Its an acceptable stack of rocks. The tower of rocks on the right are stacked perfectly. What if I told you that it took 15 minutes to find and stack the rocks on the left. But it took over an hour to find and stack the rocks on the right. To find the right rocks that presented themselves horizontally in a perfect vertical column takes time. These are both perfectly acceptable towers of rocks that look good. But is that extra cost in time really worth it to get the stack on the right? I would say no. its just a damn stack of rocks.

Are there times where perfection is required and the investment in time is worth it? Unquestionably yes. If I was getting open heart surgery I would want perfect, not just good, work performed. But does that simple web site you are working on need perfection? Not really. If it were to come easily then sure, why not? But does perfection ever come easily? 

Is the benefit of perfection worth the cost?

I say no, but it depends on the scenario (pay me big bucks and I can make a stack of perfect rocks for you).

I am perfectly happy with the good.

What about you?

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iPhone 3G, Will it Blend?

iPhone 3G

There is no denying that the announcement this week at Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference, or WWDC, about the new iPhone 3G lived up to most everyones expectations. It has a great set of new features, including my want of built-in GPS, and now has the architecture open for developers to start creating some great new and interesting applications for the iPhone. The phone is slimmer and also has larger memory capacity. All of this advancement and the most impressive part of the announcement to me was the price point, $199. That is really incredible.

Last year when the first generation iPhone came out I held back because I figured that the second generation would deliver better features and performance at less cost. This has come to pass so my credentials as a swami have just gone up.

The only question left for me is Will It Blend? Yes, will the new iPhone 3G blend? Like its predecessor the iPhone-you can see what happened below-the new iPhone 3G may blend even better. Hopefully Blendtec will give it a go.

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PayPal Money = Monopoly Money

Monopoly

Yes. Using money in your PayPal account can and does feel like playing with Monopoly money. For those of you who have done enough online transactions to take the dip and get a PayPal account you will know what I mean.

If you have a PayPal account setup to you allow people to pay you for products or services–a ‘merchant’ account–you may have at one point actually received money into your account. This has happened for me a few times with a few clients of mine. It is a great service to me and to my clients. PayPal takes a little something–but hey they have to cover their costs–I understand.

Where the Monopoly money concept comes into play is when you spend the money you have in your PayPal account. For example, you go to another e-commerce website and they take PayPal as a payment method. You jump through the appropriate hoops and voila! You have paid for your transaction. The feeling is different than credit cards because they come back to remind you that you still owe. It’s different than cash because your pockets get lighter. It feels like pretend money. You received the money, but never really ‘had it’ in your hands. And it does feel a bit different than direct deposit too because you could walk into the bank and make a withdrawl, or hit the ATM. There is no PayPal ATM (hey wait a minute, that would be cool).

Unlike Monopoly money–which can only buy you plastic houses–PayPal money, if you have enough, could buy you a real house. Now if I could just stop the impulse e-commerce purchases…

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The day the iPod died.

iPod 3G

It is a sad day indeed. My iPod 3G has died. It served its master dutifully and kept my rear in gear on the treadmill, stairmaster, eliptical (take your pick) for many a day. I received it long ago when it was the new hot iPod complete with custom engraving on the back.

Sad iPodAt the end of last week the iPod took a spill and since then I have not been able to get the hard drive to boot properly. I have scoured the Internet looking for all sorts of hacks and home rememdies only to find myself at a point where I need to make a decision.

The decision is whether to roll up my sleeves, buy a new Toshiba hard drive and resurrect my iPod from the ashes, or forgo the cost of time and money and just spend more money and get a new flashy iPod with a color screen. What is a mobile music starved dude to do?

Perhaps I just wait for the 2nd generation iPhone and get a new phone and iPod in one?

That just may be the ticket.

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Moving. It’s so much damn work.

packing boxes

After 8+ years in our house my family moved last week. We started the process the week before with a medium purge of items taken to the local thrift store. Then about a week ago things started to get a little bit hectic.

Last week, Tuesday evening, I came home from work and my wonderful wife, bless her, has started the packing process while trying to entertain the likes of our three boys–not an easy task for anyone. Wednesday I spent the last hours at work until returning this past Monday. Our Wednesday and Thursday (yes, Thanksgiving) were spent picking up every single piece of what we own, deciding if we keep it, give it away, or pitch it. We managed to fill 2 dumpsters worth of trash. We also managed to fill one-and-a-half loads of a flat bed truck to give to a thrift store. Friday the movers arrived and managed to move 95% of our stuff in under 3 hours–amazing. That left me to get the final 2 loads of random items, wall hangings, paintings, and yard items (bicycles, etc) on Saturday and Sunday. By Sunday afternoon we had everything out of our old house.

There was a long, I mean very long, period during those 6 days where I thought that it would never end. Boxes kept getting packed but nothing seemed to be progressing. It was a sea of endless stuff. It was a very frustrating experience. The tipping point was when the movers took most of our stuff away. However, when I was getting those last couple of loads of items it was as if I was experiencing a mini relapse of what took place before the movers arrived.

The key I found with looking at your stuff was this:

  • have I used or seen this in the past six months?
  • if yes, keep it
  • if not, do I want it?
    • will it cost more than $150.00 to replace it?
  • if yes keep it
  • if not, give it away
  • if its not worth giving away, trash it

That’s a pretty simple flow chart of processing your stuff when moving.

I now write this entry from the living room of our brand new house. It’s an extremely nice dwelling and a great place to make a home. We are now in unpacking mode but that is much more fun that packing up.

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The cost of things

2 things.

12.99 for 2 Corona’s at the Mark Taper Forum. That’s without a tip.

3.35 a gallon for regular unleaded.

Ouch!

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Communication Bandwidth

We all have ways, or modes, in which we communicate. Depending on who you are communicating with and what context you are in will determine how you communicate. Modes most common in my life are:

  • email
  • instant message
  • cellphone
  • video conference
  • in person

Interestingly each of these modes of communication uses a certain amount of bandwidth. In the list above I ordered them from lowest bandwidth at top, to the highest bandwidth at the bottom. An interesting observation is that the higher the bandwith the higher the focus–meaning that the less distractions there are. But also, the higher the bandwidth the more commitment and time invested–meaning it is a richer experience but at what cost?

I find that during my workday the context I’m in determines what mode I use. Contexts in this case involve where I am. For me this includes:

  • at computer
  • walking between events
  • driving between events
  • travelling between events (passenger)
  • in office (but non-computer)
  • out of office (during working day, ie. meetings)

The bulk of my time spent working is in front of the computer. Using the computer for me = email or instant message. I have both going while I am online and they are hands down the best way to contact me during the working day. In addition, to reduce distractions when I am working on projects I will often turn off the cell phone, thus eliminating that mode entirely. Video conference is a mode in front of the computer that I can use but it is a rare event and always scheduled. Now, when I am not at the computer, the cell phone is the mode I can be reached at.

This all comes down to an issue of efficiency for me. Examining the cost/benefit between mode/effort/impact.

Always be asking the questions;

  • is it really necessary to go and meet face-to-face about this?
  • can this be done in a lower-bandwidth mode?
  • what is the most efficient use of my time, and the clients time?
  • what is the best mode to be using for all involved?

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