Monthly Archives: December 2008

Lesson from Jason Calacanis’s JetBlue Experience: Don’t Make Crap

Today, in Twitter and his blog, Jason Calacanis regaled us with his positive experiences as he walked through Jet Blue’s brand new Terminal 5 in JFK airport.

This is what he said:

If every terminal was like terminal five, and every airline was like Virgin and JetBlue, and we had wifi on those flights, air travel would EXPLODE and the economy would rebound.

If you’ve been in an airport or ridden on an airplane, you know how the typical customer experience is on par with getting herded like cattle.

Jason has found one of the few companies, JetBlue, that gets that if you create an enjoyable user experience for your customers… if you create a good product, then they’ll keep coming back for more and they’ll tell their friends.

If we keep looking at the airline industry, there are folks Virgin Airlines.  They value keeping the customer happy.  And… guess what?  I give them repeat business.  I also tell my friends about them.

This isn’t just for the airline industry.  It applies to anything and everything that you create.   Slow down, think about your users, and create a product/experience that they want.

Yes, if everyone made products that people wanted to buy and use, we wouldn’t be as much of a horrible recession that we are in today.  People don’t wanna buy crap.

Moral of the story: Don’t make crap.

Michigan Wine Country: A Community That Needs a Face

If I mentioned that Michigan has a substantial number of wineries, most of you’d probably say, “Michigan has wineries?!?”  There are actually wineries all over Michigan.  (You can find more info at MichiganWines.com.)

Today I went with my parents to Haslett, Michigan’s Burgdorf Winery to check out their winery.  They don’t grow their own grapes or fruit (they have some awesome fruit wines) but they buy the grape & fruit and then make and sell the wine in this pretty massive addition that put on their house.  It was good.  I walked out of their with a bottle  that I’ll be brining back with me to Washington, DC. ;-)

But… unless someone would have told you about Burgdorf, chances are that you would have never have found it.  Much like most Michigan wineries (or so it seems), they completely depend on word-of-mouth as the way to get the word out.

It seems like the Michigan Wine community is in desperate need of a face.  It’s needs an evangelist or a community manager.  It needs a person that you can see and have a relationship with.   It’s in the need of someone who’s going to go out into the world and tell everyone about the wonders of Michigan wine.

Why hasn’t there been more Michigan wine on Gary Vaynerchuk’s Wine Library TV?

It’d be great if someone did a video blog that chronicled their journeys from winery to winery… talking to wine makers along the way.

You could go around the country and hold tasting parties where you showcase Michigan wine.

Have you had Michigan wine?  If so, what do you think?

What’s a community that you think needs a face?

Blew A Few Hours Today Playing Sim City on the iPhone

So… I’ve played a bunch of games that have been made for my iPhone.  Most have been cool but they all lacked that ummph that made it something that I wanted to play over and over again.

Well that all changed today…  I found out that Electronic Arts released Sim City for the iPhone.

Sim City is a game that I grew up with.  It’s a chunk of my computer game playing child hood.  When I saw it was released for the iPhone, I didn’t hesitate to buy it.

I’ve noticed that a lot of reviewers are like… well it’s missing this or that.  But it’s frickin’ Sim City on my iPhone.  I’m blown away to the extent that they were able to load so much of the game into a portable version.

There is everything from picking terrains, to changing taxes, meeting your mayoral advisors, to disasters, and building the water system.  Like seriously… seems like they put everything in.

I killed a couple of hours today doing nothing but playing this game.  I will definitely be playing this when I’m on on the subway commuting too and from work in Washington DC.

If like me you grew up on Sim City and you have an iPhone,  I’d recommend that you go buy this game for $9.99.  There aren’t many iPhone games that I’d say would be worth it.  This is worth it.

Check Out The New AddThis WordPress Plug-In

As you know, I’m a big time fan and user of the WordPress blogging software.

So… I’m excited that this week we released an updated and MUCH improved version of the AddThis WordPress plug-in. It’s much more robust and customizable.

Can you do me a favor and check it out?  I’d love to hear some feedback – justin@addthis.com

“Time to Reboot America”

It’s not often that Thomas Friedman and I see eye to eye on things but I think his latest column is pretty good, “Time to Reboot America.”

With the current economic recession that we’re in, this IS NOT a time to throw in the towel and look to the government to save us with loans and bailouts.  This is a time to hunker down and think harder about solving the problems that have been troubling us.

Here’s a passage from Friedman’s column:

America still has the right stuff to thrive. We still have the most creative, diverse, innovative culture and open society — in a world where the ability to imagine and generate new ideas with speed and to implement them through global collaboration is the most important competitive advantage. China may have great airports, but last week it went back to censoring The New York Times and other Western news sites. Censorship restricts your people’s imaginations. That’s really, really dumb. And that’s why for all our missteps, the 21st century is still up for grabs.

John Kennedy led us on a journey to discover the moon. Obama needs to lead us on a journey to rediscover, rebuild and reinvent our own backyard.

While I agree 100% with Friedman’s sentiment about America’s abilities and strengths, I’m not sure I agree that we’re just surviving or getting by right now.  There still are people who’re innovating and solving big problems, with little resources.  We need to lift those people up and let them be examples for the rest of the world.

When Will All My Music Just Live In The Cloud?

Per usual, it’s Christmas Eve and my dad and I went out to pick up a last few things.  My mom stayed home and cooked all kinds of delicious amazingness.

While we were out, we stopped at Circuit City and Barnes & Nobled, I noted the extent which they still had CDs out for people to buy  all the latest music.  With the extent that iTunes is dominating as a music retailer and iPods are flying off the shelves, this all kind of surprised me.

Last week, as I was walking around DC, I was using the Pandora App on my iPhone (iTunes Link).  It got me thinking.   At what point will we even move past digital downloads for how we get and store our music?  Why can’t all our music live in the cloud?

Why do I need to download my music to a device?  I’d pay money to just be able to access the music and stream it from wherever I want as long as I want.  Maybe it could be a dime per song.

With the current digital download economy, isn’t the biggest concern piracy?  If all the music lives in the cloud, would it still be a concern?

If all my music lived in the cloud, would we have to worry about how big the hard drive was on our portable devices?

My Views On Online Community Haven’t Changed Much Since 1998

Part of buying a Mac Book Air a few months ago, my dad picked up one of those all-in-one printer, scanner, fax machines.   In my parents basement there are tons of box of amazing old photographs.  I’ve been encouraging him to scan them and throw them on Flickr, as kind of a family digital preservation strategy.

It’s been a blast watching my childhood and family history flash before my eyes as my dad has loaded up the photos one after another.

Yesterday, he loaded up a scan of something, which is slightly blown my mind.  It was a newspaper clipping from an article that the Lansing State Journal did about me back in 1998 when I made the Web site for my school, Our Savior Lutheran (obviously the site has changed a lot since I made it in 1998).

The school bought me a copy of Microsoft Front Page, which at the time was top of the line software.  Still, I wrote most of the site by hand using HTML.   The Web server was a computer in the school principal’s office which I often edited the Web site on directly. :-)

A perk of my current job is that I’m out there talking everyday to folks who are trying to use the Web as a medium for getting their message out to the world and keeping their community in touch. It’s scary to think about how similar the concepts I consult folks around today are to the things we were talking about 10 years ago.

Seeing this article has definitely reminded me to the extent which the Lord has blessed me with amazing people in my life who’ve encouraged me to step out into the vast unknown and try new things, like making Web sites in the early 1990s.

I still vividly remember the day when my dad called me into the back room of the house, where our family kept the computer.  It was 1996-ish (maybe) and we used AOL 2.x.   My dad told me that there were these online classes in HTML and encouraged me to give it a whirl.  The rest is history.

I guess I can say that the AOL online class in HTML was a turning point in my life.  It helped to set the direction for what turned into a career.  God’s hand was definitely at work.

Looking back, what’s one turning point you’ve had in your life, where your like “wow with out this I’m not sure this would have gone this way”?