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The Epic iPod to iPad and Old Bones

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=apple+iphone&iid=7152173″ src=”c/8/3/b/First_iPhone_Goes_2a86.jpg?adImageId=9547642&imageId=7152173″ width=”234″ height=”156″ /]Wow. Technology moves with the speed of a sirocco wind sucking the air from our lungs and leaving our brains mushy. This photo shows a gentleman in South Korea who just got his iPhone just this past November and now, today, Apple is announcing the iPad.  Which I have to admit I just can’t figure out.

Here’s my wondering: what would I, as a small solo-preneur business person, need with the iPad?  Actually what do I need with a netbook or notebook when I have a laptop, a cell phone and an iPod already?  I admit I don’t have a smart phone yet, that is on my wish list for this year but only because I’d like to check email on-the-go…I happen to have a 7-year old cell phone that does exactly what I want it to do – send and receive phone calls.  I got an iPod because I really wanted the ability to customize music listening for myself and have it really portable.  And I actually do watch some tv shows on that teeny screen.  Then there’s my laptop for all my other stuff: email, document writing, photo work, blogging, networking…general work and social use.  What would I use an iPad for?

In doing some research for this today I came across the opinions of four members of the Harvard Business School faculty who addressed this new Apple Tablet.  It was very interesting.  Here are my favorite excerpts:

  • says Bhaskar Chakravorti, Senior Lecturer of Business Administration, “…The Apple tablet has already been declared the savior of many chronically – even terminally – ill industries: newspapers, television, movies, and computing, for instance. Enthusiasts believe that the tablet could be the magic pill that will do for all these industries what its predecessor, the iPod, did for the dying music industry in 2002.”  He continues, “…But can Steve Jobs upend the status quo once again? He can if the tablet fundamentally changes our behaviors. But that does not happen through phenomenal design alone. Design can capture our attention and spark excitement. But for a product to lead to sustained behavioral change, we also need an innovative business model that changes our incentives as consumers or content creators or distributors – and motivates the entire value chain to do things differently.…”
  • from Karim R. Lakhani, Assistant Professor of Business Administration: “…This singular focus on owning the customer experience, end-to-end, has separated Apple from its rivals, first in computers and now in consumer electronics. The eager anticipation for the tablet is driven by the expectation that the user experience will be beyond what most firms have delivered.…”
  • here’s an excerpt from Daniel C. Snow, Assistant Professor of Business Administration: “…Watch for the tablet to generate spillbacks that support smart phones, netbooks, and notebooks. For example, increasingly sophisticated App Store apps will take advantage of the iSlate’s screen size and computing power…As technological barriers continue to fall, I expect to see the emergence of a hybrid computing device – something with serious onboard computing and graphics power (always connected to the cloud) that represents the best of both worlds. The iSlate is a stop on the way to this hybrid destination….”
  • and from Stefan H. Thomke, William Barclay Harding Professor of Business Administration: “…If executed well, the tablet could take Apple into entirely new businesses and an aggressive reuse strategy in software and hardware will keep their R&D and manufacturing costs in line. It has also has the potential to change how people work and play with their computers.”  He goes on to say, “…The publishing industry could certainly benefit from an alternative to reading devices such as the Amazon Kindle and more imagination about how its content is packaged, sold, and used. At the technology level, we have reached a perfect storm where components are so advanced that it takes a brilliant integrator to give customers a product that they want, use, and love. This is what Apple does best. It is rarely first to market when it comes to products or technology, but it is often first when it comes to deeply understanding the user…Ultimately, success will depend on the user’s experience with the tablet.…”

These gentlemen have said, sort of, what I’m wondering: will this new invention change any of my work or leisure behavior?  Is this new invention another piece of hardware I need to cart around from place-to-place?  It won’t replace anything, so what is its ultimate value to me, the consumer?  Or is it a step on the way to, as Professor Slate says, “…a stop on the way to this hybrid destination….”

I’m all for improving technologies that can make my work easier or more enjoyable.  I absolutely love that the laptop computer was invented because:

  1. I love the portability – it’s lightweight and I can easily use it wherever I wish.  When there is no internet connectivity I can still use the offline programs and functions.  When there is internet connectivity I can do those tasks needing that function.  I can work at my desk, or the sofa, or the bookstore, the coffeeshop and my daughter’s house.
  2. I love it’s full featured-ness – it’s a fully functioning computer, just like the desktop pc in the bedroom office.  I can do emails, web browse, post to my blogs, do research online, and even watch my favorite television episodes and stay up-to-date on the news of the world.
  3. If I wanted to, I could even add functionality like telephone and video conferencing.

I probably won’t get an electronic reader because (a) it’ll be just one more piece of technology I don’t need and (b) like Captain Picard I just love the feel of a book in my hands.  My husband and I collect books…we have a literal library in our home.  I love to open the cover and turn the pages.

Daily Finance [dot com] today has a great article about the iPad which had a few interesting points.  The article is written by Sam Gustin, Apple Tablet: 10 Things We (Already) Hate About You.   Of those 10 things, the ones that struck me most:

  • point #2: “…You don’t need a giant thousand-dollar smartphone. You’ve got an iPhone. You’ve got a laptop. You just received a Kindle for Christmas. Why do you need a tablet? You’re probably not sure. Unlike the iPod and the iPhone, this is a product without a clear need…”
  • point #4: “…Multifunction devices can do a lot — just not well. Other than your couch, where might your tablet be more useful than what you’re using now? Will you use your tablet instead of the PC at your office desk? Will you watch videos on it instead of your flat-screen monitor? Will you use it instead of your smartphone when you’re out? No, no, and no….”
  • point #7: “… No keyboard, no mouse, no dice. Typing (or “typing”) on touchscreens is annoying. How many Tablet buyers will wind up connecting peripheral keyboards and mice? And then…well, what’s the point? Besides, mobile devices are only as useful as their battery life. Unless the tablet has more than about six hours of power, it’s going to wind up tethered to a wall. Just like your desktop.…”

And from USAToday Technology Live earlier I read as reporters Ed Baig and Brett Molina gave a nearly minute-by-minute account of the iPad unveiling:

  • 1:12 p.m. ET: It’s official. Jobs unveils the very thin iPad tablet computer.  Jobs claims it will offer the best browsing experience you can have, like “holding the Internet in your hands.”
  • 1:14 p.m.: The device will include e-mail, photos, maps, built-in iTunes store and YouTube functionality.

Well, my laptop does all that. I’m one consumer who will wait until I can see an actual need for this new bit of hardware before I put it on my Christmas gift wish list for this year.  Not that I’m being negative, but with money being so tight right now, I just can’t see the need to spend the whatever hundreds of dollars this will cost at this time.

OLD BONES. From new technologies to the work other people do with old bones that just fascinates me.  There are times when I wish I knew how to do software programming because I have this idea for a fun iPhone app – if anyone knows how and wishes to collaborate send me an email.  But my expertise and interest is not in coding…rather in mosaic-ing and painting and writing.  I do, however, have a lifelong interest in and fascination with archeology [see my alltop page for a couple interesting sites] and paleontology.  Hunting for ancient artifacts and dinosaur bones.  There are those romantic times when I wish I’d gone in those directions while still in college.

Today’s newspaper carried a story about dinosaur digs in China.  The article, written by Washington Post writer Ariana Eunjung Cha paints an exciting picture of a massive dig site with thousands of Cretaceous period fossils.  From the article, “…The fossils here — more than 15,000 fractured, mangled and blackened bones from about 65 million years ago in the late Cretaceous period right before they went extinct — support theories of a catastrophe. Global fires. Explosions. Climate change…’This find is very important for understanding the very end of the age of dinosaurs,’ said James M. Clark, a paleontologist at George Washington University who has examined some of the fossils…The excavation here, believed to be the largest dinosaur fossil site in the world, is one of a number of groundbreaking research projects…The pit has yielded some of the world’s largest duck-billed dinosaur specimens, bones of a type of dinosaur that had never been seen outside North America, and at least six new species….”

I just the other evening watched Jurassic Park [for probably the 40th time-looking forward to the blu ray edition] on our new 46″ plasma tv [which is why I don’t need any kind of hand held technology to watch movies].  I would never want to travel in a time machine and go back to the time of the dinos but I find the whole idea of them fascinating.  My husband has a tooth from a megladon that he found back east on a dive trip years ago and it is huge and extremely old.  Yes, I’m a believer in the idea that we humans can learn important lessons from digging up the artifacts of the past – artifacts of societies long gone and artifacts of ecologies long gone.

What would future archeologists think if they uncovered a cache of items that included a smart phone, a desktop computer, a laptop, a hand held reader, an iPod, a netbook, a notebook, a laptop, a personal dvd player, a transistor radio…?



If Songwriting were my Business

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=music+conductor&iid=6734018″ src=”6/b/9/5/Verdis_Aida_premiered_f4ac.JPG?adImageId=9295644&imageId=6734018″ width=”234″ height=”185″ /] If I were a songwriter, these are some of the songs I would write:

I would write a lament for all those people who are displaced by war, famine or natural disaster.  My tune would be haunting and moving with violins and oboes in the background.  The words would bring tears and the words would move the listener to action.  Most of all, the song would acknowledge that being human is a very difficult thing.

I would write a protest song on behalf of all those people who are not displaced by war, famine or natural disaster.  My tune would be strident and full of trumpets and piano cascades.  The lyrics would protest that having a home with running water is not a bad thing and having enough food in the fridge is no shame.  The words would celebrate that hope is real and dreams occasionally do come true and that there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

I would write a ballad that cries of the vagaries of humans’ injustices one to another.  The tune would be a suite of guitars and voices singing both high and deep.  A touch of blues would inflect that it is we who do the wrongs to ourselves; and that, in a one line stanza, is the gist of the definition of tragedy: it all could be avoided if we but sought to understand first, then act.

I would write an aria that soars so high with voices so sweet as to make the lyrics nearly un-hear-able.  Its melody would stick to the ribs and the inner ear bones with a vise grip of harpsichord strains.  The discourse would move from crying about the silliness of saying you’re sorry for putting the world in financial chaos to the dismay of countries who cannot care for their populations unaided.  A single voice would rise above the mantle of sound to cry enough!

I would write songs that speak to:

  • the sadness of people hurting in all parts of the world
  • the joys of people who are not hurting in all parts of the world
  • the complexities of the human condition
  • an overriding question of when? When will we, the loudest form of life on this planet, realize that we’re not of separate tribes, but of one?

These are songs I would write if songwriting were my business.  What songs would you write?  I know that “Linda’s Business Blog” isn’t a platform for societal or political statements…but sometimes I can’t help myself.  As one person speaking her mind on this day – I hate war, I despise injustices and my heart hurts for the tragedies that are so overwhelming in parts of the world.  I hate that one Tibetan young woman, attending college in my state, cannot even stand for her own people without being spied upon by another nation through her laptop.  Good grief.


Feeling good about the Christmas Tree this year

I’m pretty happy with our Christmas tree this year for several reasons:

  1. it didn’t cost an arm and a leg because we opted for a small one
  2. I decided to go with the red ball ornaments, blue lights and iridescent tinsel
  3. the tree itself comes from one of the member growers in Oregon of the Christmas Tree Coalition

Let’s clear something up right away – yes, that is an ornament featuring the character of Captain Jean Luc Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation, and that is indeed an ornament of the Deep Space Nine space station from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.  For an explanation of why my Christmas tree has spaceship [and related] ornaments see this week’s Forbes.com article, “Holiday Helpers.” In the second half of the article I explain this.

In years past we’ve spent the greater part of $100 on a Christmas tree – they aren’t inexpensive anymore if you want a tall one.  Some years we do want a tall one.  This year, however, I wanted almost a Charlie Brown tree – some small little orphan tree I could love and pamper.  My husband brought home this little guy that barely stands 5′ tall.  And it didn’t cost much which fits this year’s budget.

The tree came with a two tags, one had instructions for how to trim the bottom of the stump and prep it for the tree stand.  The other tag was information about the Coalition of Environmentally Conscious Growers. I have never heard of this coalition previous to this and feel this is worth mentioning.  The tag “…certifies this tree was grown on a farm that was evaluated by an independent auditor using the following criteria [expanded on from their website]:

  • Riparian/Wetland Management – focus of this element is on the measures taken and management practices employed to protect areas adjoining streams and waterways….
  • Soil and Water Conservation – goal must be to minimize soil losses through conservation tillage and other erosion control practices….
  • Nutrient Management – Care needs to be taken to use the proper fertilizers and amendments to provide for the needs of the trees while not applying in excess so that it ends up in waterways….
  • Pest Management – Implementation of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program is a critical step in environmental protection. While such a program does not exclude the use of chemicals, it includes careful pest monitoring and identification, determining acceptable pest thresholds, and treatment with the least toxic products….
  • Worker Health and Hygiene – A key part to raising quality Christmas trees is a healthy, productive staff. Employee safety and well-being is always a priority…. [author aside: how often do you read on a business’ website that they also care about the well-being of the employees?]
  • Biodiversity – includes practices that support and enhance biodiversity throughout the farm. Soil micro fauna, such as bacteria and fungi, break down soil organic matter and help maintain soil quality while recycling nutrients. Many insects are beneficial and prey on agricultural pests. Increasing biodiversity on the farm not only benefits wildlife but also the farm itself….”

Here is another reason I’m pleased with our tree this year:

  1. our purchase as consumers helps this business – that of sustainable, environmentally-conscious tree growers

Very cool.

I write about small and home-based business as well as other business concerns in this weblog.  One thing I’d like to pass along to every business owner to remember: we are also consumers.  The free enterprise system [capitalism] is not so much a give-and-take system as it is a we-have-to-help-one-another system.  I’m a business owner, but I’m also a consumer.  At its most basic it can be described this way: you have a business making chairs.  I have a business making hammers.  You purchase hammers from me.  I purchase chairs from you.  As a business, I need you to need hammers.  As a consumer, I need a business from whom I can purchase chairs.  We all need to help one another in a free market system.


Remembering life, not death, of John Lennon

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=beatles&iid=7342012″ src=”2/0/9/5/Fans_observe_the_e599.JPG?adImageId=8168702&imageId=7342012″ width=”234″ height=”317″ /]Sometimes I don’t write about business in this weblog and today is one of those times…although the music industry is business, isn’t it?  I subscribe to The Huffington Post online and today’s digest included an article by Joe Scarborough, “Remembering John Lennon Twenty-nine Years Later.” Mr. Scarborough said in the article that he was still in high school that awful day when the world lost an artist – I think it’s always tragic when artistic souls leave this world.   He said in his article, “…I was too young to remember the Beatles as anything more than a former band….”

I was older…am older and remember them very well.  I was barely 13 years old when the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan show.  My memory not recording these details that well, I went to Wikipedia for this information: the British band appeared on Ed’s show three consecutive Sundays.  That first appearance I saw because our family watched the Sullivan show religiously every Sunday night – we gathered to watch Bonanza also – television in my youth was a way for the family to be together.  And I remember this first appearance very well for a couple of reasons:

  1. my newly teenage heart jumped in instant love when I saw and heard these “long haired” crooners singing “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” I learned the song by heart after one hearing as is the way with teens.
  2. my dad was appalled; he thought they were too loud, too raucous and would ultimately have a very bad influence on his oldest child

I didn’t get to watch the Beatles’ subsequent appearances because dad would have none of it.  Nor did I get to purchase their albums.  I had to listen to their music on my little transistor radio [anyone remember those?] and at my friends’ homes.  My dad was very much Benny Goodman and maybe Paul Anka music, but certainly not the Beatles.

When John Lennon was murdered I was on the cusp of my thirtieth birthday.  I had a toddler and small baby and remember that night quite well.  It was awful.  What a waste.  I will never understand what drives one person to murder another.

I agree with Mr. Scarborough’s thoughts in his article about how music affects our lives; he says, “…The Beatles gave me a love for music that got me through one heartbreak after another….”  Music can help us translate emotion and transport thoughts.  Music stirs our souls and excites our imaginations.  Speaking of which, can you imagine what my dad thought of Jimi Hendrix and Janice Joplin’s music?  Let’s not even go there!


A Business to be Thankful for

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=angels&iid=200079″ src=”0196/7063947d-daac-4da2-9524-7c597b2d9e81.jpg?adImageId=7843816&imageId=200079″ width=”234″ height=”351″ /]You might think I’m going to mention my own business as one to be thankful for [which I am] on this eve of the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. – not so.  I am thankful for so very many businesses “out there” but today especially these following,  have touched my life in some way this day:

Visiting Angels, Living Assistance Services – this is an extraordinary business whose people provide “…family alternative to assisted living facilities and nursing homes.…”  We have a family member for whom the Visiting Angel who comes three times a week is an angel indeed.  There comes a point in the drama of dementia when the one with this illness no longer responds to her own family…but this caregiver can raise a smile, encourage a laugh and provide a walk to the park.  Visiting Angels are human blessings…and a business to be thankful for.

Los Vaqueros Grill, “Mexican traditions with American twists”…according to their website!  This charming restaurant is about a six minute walk from my home and today provided me with a solo relaxing and enjoyable lunch.  One of the perks of having a home-based business is choosing where I have lunch – most days I admit it’s right here in front of my laptop at my desk…but today I needed a quiet getaway.  This is a business for which I’m thankful today.   I sat in their greenhouse dining area and enjoyed a lunch of:

  • “…Tilapia Tacos Anchiote – marinated tilapia, sauteed and placed in soft flour tortillas. Then topped with a scallion, cilantro and chipotle sour cream, tropical pineapple mango coleslaw and queso fresco….”
  • I started with an appetizer:  “…Camarones Rellenos Culiacan – Our most popular appetizer. White tiger shrimp filled with Gouda cheese, wrapped in bacon, quickly fried then topped with chipotle mayonnaise….”
  • add iced tea then coffee and churros for dessert.  And lest you think I ate it all, I saved half for my husband’s dinner for tonight.

Nike brand walking shoes – why would I put this humongous company in as a business I’m thankful for today?  It’s because of the walking shoes that allowed me to go to lunch in comfort.  I’m not an athlete by any stretch of the imagination [although in college I ran some cross country but that was quite a few years ago] and due to most of a year walking barefoot on the sands of Waikiki in the late ’90’s [sounds like a hardship doesn’t it?] I have some foot challenges…so the Nike brand walking shoes help. From the Nike website:

  • “…When Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman made this observation [‘if you have a body, you are an athlete’] many years ago, he was defining how he viewed the endless possibilities for human potential in sports. He set the tone and direction for a young company called Nike.…”

Today thinking about my feet was something I didn’t have to do as I enjoyed a walk outdoors on a beautiful autumn California day.

Gap, Inc – I’m thankful for this business because my younger son-in-law works there.  This brilliant young man is an Apple IT genius and works in the San Francisco headquarters office.  In these troubling economic times, especially in California with its incredibly high unemployment numbers this year, I am extremely grateful and thankful that my daughter and her husband are okay.   The founder of Gap, Don Fisher, said:

  • “…I created Gap [in 1928] with a simple idea: to make it easier to find a pair of jeans. We remain committed to that basic principle….”

And it is principles like this that keep young people like my son-in-law employed.

Raley’s – my other son-in-law has worked for Raley’s for several years.  Raley’s founder, Tom Raley, “…opened his first store in Placerville, California in 1935. His dedication, hard work and vision are the seeds from which our family of stores continues to grow….”  And this son-in-law fits that description perfectly – dedicated and hard working.  I am so very thankful that this is another young family [my daughter, son-in-law and their 2-year old] that are ending this calendar year without layoff or unemployment over their heads.  Raley’s is another business for which I am thankful today.

I heard a saying once that went something like, ‘as goes GM, so goes the country;’ not so I say.  Rather let’s give thanks to the businesses that represent the people who are our neighbors, friends and family – as they go, so goes the country.

Happy Thanksgiving.



Heart of a Military Woman and Veteran’s Day

I’m a veteran of the United States Navy.  I served during the tail-end years of the Vietnam War.  I worked as a journalist at the Fifth Naval District Headquarters which at that time was located in Norfolk, Virginia [USA].  Part of my work involved writing press releases that went out to community newspapers about ship arrivals and departures.  Part of my work involved covering posthumous awards ceremonies…these always tore at my heart.  A bright spot of my time then was an Easter Sunday morning when I was able to attend dawn services aboard an aircraft carrier.  A funny time was when I had to deliver a message to an officer aboard a destroyer and I was wearing dress heels trying to climb up and down those ladders!

H of MilitaryWomanSmall (1)I’m honored that my remembrances are being included in a new book, Heart of a Military Woman.  This book will be available beginning December 1 online at Amazon.com and through bookstores such as Borders.  In fact, if you are in the Chula Vista, CA area December 12, there will be a book signing event from 2-5 pm.  Borders-Chula Vista (Eastlake), 878 Eastlake Parkway, Ste. 210, Chula Vista, CA – San Diego County.  If you are interested in purchasing this book in advance you go to to this link.  


Business news bits and bobs

IMG_1231Sometimes business news comes in little bite-size pieces, much like the Halloween candy we didn’t give out last night – this was the leanest year for TricksOrTreaters we’ve had in the seven years we’ve lived in our neighborhood.  We answered our front door less than 10 times.  And I carved my best effort at a Jack O’Lantern yet!  I know what you’re thinking, I’m supposed to be an “artist” and this is the best I can do? Well, sometimes one gift simply doesn’t translate into another.

Talking about translating, I’m finding that working in concert with various social media sites has its advantages.  Last Friday I put up a question on Twitter: are doctors small business owners? As was recommended to me -and I pass this recommendation along to others- I have my Twitter account linked to my Facebook account so that what I post on Twitter shows as a status update on Facebook – for a small or home-based business that is good to know as it increases the exposure for quick news items you might have.  I got a response on my Facebook status/Twitter question from Paul Sinasohn “…It depends on the structure of the practice. Some are, even if the practice is incorporated, but some – such as those who are partners in larger medical groups (Brown & Toland, Hill Physicians) are not.   SBA standard is $10 million average receipts….”  Thank you, Paul.

Bits from today’s news:

*Today from The Huffington Post, an article about counties in the U.S. that have been stressed the hardest by the year’s economic woes and wouldn’t you know, of the top ten counties, 4 are in my home state of California, and #8 is the county of my youth, San Joaquin County.  The housing boom/bust has had just awful repercussions – it’s not just the home sales industry, but also construction and all the pond ripples out to associated businesses of both those industries that have been hurt.  In the neighborhood in which I live, there is one home that was a victim of bank foreclosure that still sits empty [we had two].  Then you add the layoffs and other woes of the  auto industry and the computer software/hardware industry and it’s rather depressing.  Not so easy to be a solo-preneur in such a climate.

*Swine flu…actually any flu…advice is to stay home if you are contagious.  Article today by Associated Press writer Ashley M. Heher points out that this advice is difficult to follow for those who don’t get paid if they don’t show up.  From the article:  “…That idea drives an untold number of carpenters, day care workers, servers, shopkeepers and small-business owners to their jobs each day. Sniffles or not….”  Home business owners who work primarily online don’t have this as an issue necessarily.  However, those small and tiny businesses who must meet with clients/customers and potential customers daily will have to figure this one out.  Just today I went out to run errands and saw people in the store wearing a protective breathing mask over their face.  This might be one answer.

*This last item really isn’t about small business…it’s about big business.  Unless you could say that an actor is a small business person…even a home-based business person who goes from contract-to-contract.  I mention this one because my sister would have loved it.  My sister passed away three years ago and today is her birthday.  One of the things she and I shared was a love of science fiction movies and television shows.  We both, together and separately, watched the second “Aliens” installment too many times to count.  Tomorrow night on ABC, “V” debuts and it looks fantastic.  I have been a fan of Morena Baccarin since her days on the one-season series “Firefly” as Inara Serra and as Adria in Season 10 of  Stargate SG-1.  The TV critic of my newspaper, Chuck Barney, says of “V” in today’s column, “…it all makes for a suspenseful, scary concoction. The fast-paced “V” pilot sucks you in from the start and keeps you welded to your seat right up through a couple of shockers near the end of the hour….”  I’m going to watch it.  I know my sister would have loved it.