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April 2010

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Duke Energy/Walmart Bulbs, energy saving FAIL

I recently received a coupon in March from Duke Energy for a box of six free 13 watt compact fluorescent bulbs redeemable at Walmart.  Duke Energy is promoting it as a way to save money and to reduce electrical demand.

Duke-Energy.com: Take a Simple Step to Save Energy and Money

If every Duke Energy OH customer receiving this offer installs six CFLs, our customers will save the amount of energy needed to serve 14,800 homes.

WalmartLightbulb.pngUnfortunately, these bulbs are nowhere to be found.  I’ve driven to two different Walmarts and they’re both out of stock of this specific pack with no substitutions allowed.  While I was there, I saw two others carrying coupons looking for the bulbs too.  I checked with my parents and they’ve been to two other Walmarts in the suburbs and they’re out of stock too.

So, how exactly are we saving energy with Duke Energy customers driving around trying to find these energy saving light bulbs?  It seems like Walmart and Duke Energy should have been better coordinated with Walmart to have ample stock of these bulbs.

I checked on the Duke Energy site and there’s a FAQ and one of the questions is:

Q. What do I do if Walmart is out of bulbs?
A. Increased inventory levels and additional reserve stock will be available to participating Walmart stores. If your store is temporarily out of stock, check back within one to three days when inventory has been replenished.

Just drive back to Walmart and check for bulbs in one to three days!

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Time.com: Why You’ll See Tons of “New and Improved” Products Soon

Time.com: Why You’ll See Tons of “New and Improved” Products Soon

Call it the recession lesson. The downturn caused many newly thrifty consumers to detour into the world of cheap toilet paper, store brand shampoos, and other generic necessities. And you know what these consumers discovered? The cheaper stuff isn’t half-bad. Often, the cheaper stuff clearly gives more bang for the buck. So why would consumers ever go back to paying significantly more money for something that does basically the same job?

Because they’re having trouble competing in straight-up face-offs with generic products, the manufacturers are rolling out new items–or rather, “new and improved” items.

P&G, the world’s biggest ad spender, plans a 20% increase in
“consumer impressions,” or instances when consumers see its ads, during
the fiscal year ending June 30. The Cincinnati-based maker of Pampers
diapers, Crest toothpaste and Pantene shampoo says it will introduce 30%
more “significant” innovations in products this year.

It will be interesting to see what P&G thinks these “significant” innovations are.  Unless there’s true noticeable improvement, I don’t think that some minor changes, a new label, and an advertising campaign is really going to win back customers.  The recession has cut pretty deeply and the old way of doing things might not work this time.

Related article:
Time.com: Making P&G New and Improved (2008 interview with Former CEO A.G. Lafley

Uncategorized

NYTimes.com: News Sites Rethink Anonymous Online Comments

NYTimes.com: News Sites Rethink Anonymous Online Comments

“Anonymity is just the way things are done. It’s an accepted part of the Internet, but there’s no question that people hide behind anonymity to make vile or controversial comments,” said Arianna Huffington, a founder of The Huffington Post. “I feel that this is almost like an education process. As the rules of the road are changing and the Internet is growing up, the trend is away from anonymity.”

I used to cringe at the callers that I’d hear on talk radio shows, but comment sections have gone way beyond that. Most of the comment sections of news websites have become a cesspool of ignorance and hate.

I think that banning anonymous comments help, but until you truly make public the identity of the commenter, you’re still going to end up with mostly garbage.

Uncategorized

Your next star employee may come from a place you never expected – the streets

“Your next star employee may come from a place you never expected – the streets”. 

It’s a pretty sensationalistic headline to get you to read the magazine, but with the recession and employment around 10%, I wonder how many hiring managers are literally looking to knowingly hire someone off the streets.

The actual article is about training the homeless to be employable with work and interview skills.
 

TrainingMagazine.png

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DailyMail.co.UK: KFC introduces ‘sandwich’ with buns made of CHICKEN instead of bread

DailyMail.co.UK: KFC introduces ‘sandwich’ with buns made of CHICKEN instead of bread

article-1264166-0908E346000005DC-537_468x321.jpgThank goodness health care reform has passed, because KFC has issued a new challenge to the hearts of Americans everywhere.  It’s the Double Down, your personal Exxon Valdez.

The Vancouver Sun newspaper estimated that the sandwich clocks in at an artery-clogging 1,228 calories – far above the 540 calories that KFC claims it contains. The grilled option comes in at 460 calories.

But nutritionists are more concerned that the Double Down contains 1,380 milligrams of salt and ten grams of saturated fat. That is 60 per cent and 50 per cent respectively of the U.S. government’s recommended daily intake.

Is the notoriety and free publicity that KFC is getting worth the unhealthy label that comes with it?

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USAToday.com: Ryanair pushes ahead with plan for toilet fee

It’s bad enough that Spirit
Airlines is charging for carry on luggage
. Now Ryanair is planning
on charging for the use of the toilets.

USAToday.com: Ryanair pushes ahead with plan for toilet fee

The Daily Mail of London writes “no-frills [Ryanair] is working with Boeing to redesign the cabin and develop coin-operated toilets on 168 of its planes. Not content with charging passengers for use of the facilities, the airline is also looking at reducing the number of toilets on board, leaving just one available cubicle for up to 189 passengers.”

I predict bad things happening if there’s only one toilet for 189 passengers.  Redundancy is the key.

I’ve flown Ryanair twice and it’s actually not a bad airline. Ryanair is different from other airlines because they’ve always nickel and dimed passengers for every little service, but in return offered shockingly low prices.  Right now they’re offering fares as low as 9.99 euros or ($13.36). 

If Spirit offered $15 tickets, maybe people would understand charges for luggage.  But $45 dollars for a bag in the overhead bin is tough to swallow.  I hope this charge comes back to bite Spirit big time.  Because if this works, every airline is going to adopt it.

Related Article
Havard Business Review: Why the Spirit Airlines Baggage Fee Won’t Fly

Uncategorized

Now! Better Tasting!

Nowbettertasting.jpgIt’s common to see new and improved on products, but “Now! Better Tasting!” on Jimmy Dean sausages sounds like an admission that the product was previously not as tasty.

What does a consumer think when they see “Now!  Better Tasting!” on the box?

  • If you’ve previously tried it before and thought it tasted bad, would you try it again because it’s now “Better Tasting!”?
  • If you hadn’t tried it before, would you wonder how bad it must have been for them to now say it’s “Better Tasting” on the box?
  • If you’re already eating this and liked it, will you wonder if you’ll still like it?
Technology

Some iPad first impressions

Here are some of my iPad first impressions after using it all weekend.

iPad Hardware
Size
Most people’s reaction when they first see it is that it’s smaller than they expected.  But, after you use it, it seems to be the right size.  I find it solidly built, maybe a bit heavier than I would like.  Most of the time I have it resting against something, my belly, the desk, the bed, etc.

Screen
The screen is sharp and beautiful, but picks up fingerprints like crazy.  Fingerprints are a lot more noticeable than on the iPhone.  I think I’m going to have to invest in some lint-free cloths to wipe down the screen.  The cloth that I used over the weekend wasn’t quite lint free and now I have dust on the edges of the iPad case. 

The screen is extremely glossy so glare can also be an issue.  I might try buying a matte screen protector to cut down on glare and fingerprints.

Speaker
The speaker is louder than I expected and works well for watching videos.

Battery Life
The battery life is so long that I don’t really think about charging it.  Normally when I use my Macbook Pro, I’m always thinking about when or where I can plug it back in. But with my iPad, I wouldn’t be afraid to head out for the day leaving the charger and cords at home.

The iPad won’t recharge when connected to my Macbook Pro or my Mac Pro.  Both of my computers are a few years old and do not provide enough power through the USB ports to charge the iPad.  The small iPod charger did charge iPad battery overnight, but probably slower than the 10V charger it comes with.

Apple Case
I like the Apple case a lot.  It’s got a nice rubberized feeling when holding it in your hands.  I haven’t used the stand much, but it feels a little wobbly when I’ve tried it.  The case is matte and seems to pick up dirt pretty easily.  (between the screen and the case, I’m beginning to think my place is really dusty.)

Software

Safari
Safari for the iPad is a killer app like it was for the iPhone.  But it is some much nicer with the extra real estate.  It’s amazing to see the difference in web pages between this and the iPhone.  It’s so good that you wonder why some companies are bothering creating iPad apps for their websites.

Some sites that do work, have a few problems.  The Google Reader RSS website seems slow and somehow less responsive.  The Google Reader website has multiple columns that require the use of a two finger motion to get the columns to scroll.

Twitter client
I’ve tried both Tweetdeck and Twitteriffic.  I like how Tweetdeck shows multiple columns by I don’t like how it wastes half the screen for the Tweetdeck icon.

eBay App
eBay tried to differentiate their app from the website by showing for sale items in gallery format- like a store.  I find this app totally unusable without having the ability of showing search results as lists.  I also don’t like the fact that it does have the saved searches from the website.  I’d much rather use the eBay web page than this.

Scrabble
Scrabble looks amazing.  Problem is that the iPad keeps beating me.  If you have iPhones or iPod touches, you can download an App that allows you to use your iPhone as a letter tray while using the iPad as the board.

Marvel Comics App
It shows comics in two ways, traditional panels or a more cinematic, frame by frame way.  This is one you really need to see.  Comics can be bought through the App for $2.00 a comic.  If they every came out with a Netflix like monthly fee, this might be worth it.  Otherwise, I’ll pass.

Numbers
Haven’t played with this much, because getting files in and out seems a little awkward.

Cincinnati, Technology

“The future starts today”- or yes, I did buy an iPad

“The future starts today”- or yes, I did buy an iPad.

Here’s a picture of me holding 64 gig iPad at the Kenwood Apple Store after my 2 1/2 hour wait in line.MeandmyiPad.pngWaiting in line was kind of my fault as I could have pre-ordered it and had it sent to my home or had one reserved for me at the store.  For a while, I thought about waiting for the next model, but realistically, that was never an option.  I truly do believe that the iPad is the future of computing so why wait when you can have the future today?

The Apple shopping experience is unlike any other.  First, there’s the line.  You really won’t find a line anywhere of friendlier people.  It really is kind of like a party.  Apple employees had carts with coffee, tea, or bottled water.

appleline1.jpgOnce you get to the front of the line, an Apple employee would come shake your hand, ask your name, and then act as your person concierge for your entire visit to the Apple store.  The Apple employee offered to demo a unit for me and to setup the iPad for me after I purchased it.  No rushing to move to the next customer whatsoever.  For me, I would have been happy with a giant stack of iPads for me to pick up and take to checkout, but for someone new to Apple, this kind of service would make a world of difference.