Monthly Archives: March 2006

New Treo 700w – Verizon

I bought a new Palm Treo 700w smartphone in order to help boost my productivity.

I’ve never been really into cell phones, but this is a whole other category. It has all sorts of features which will hopefully make me more productive….or less…I’m not sure yet.

What I really wanted was the ability to check my email on the go without a laptop and have a to-do calendar I can carry around with me at all times. It has Windows Mobile which can play media, use Microsoft Office and all that other junk too. By far the best Treo 700w review is here.

In order to take advantage of the nation-wide broadband internet, I had to move to Verizon Wireless. I am also paying a hefty price for the convenience.

I haven’t played around with the Treo too much as of yet, but everything is very simple to learn. It’s based on a Windows platform, so any decently tech savvy person can get used to it with relative ease. For now I’m happy I can send text messages 10 times faster.

The phone itself is a very cool piece of hardware, ranking relatively high on “wow” appeal. Whenever I attend conferences with lots of busy people, almost everyone in the room has some sort of email capable device like a Blackberry….so now I can fit in by pretending to be busy on my phone :-)

I’m hoping this purchase will actually help me become more productive like my tablet PC did. I’ve been using it for only a few days, and I’ve become fond of the phone already….but $112/month??

I paid a lot of money to get this phone up and running:

Hopefully I can utilize this Treo 700w to its full potential and make it a valuable business tool.

Jeffrey Immelt – CEO of General Electric (GE)

Yesterday I went to see Jeffrey Immelt speak on the UT campus, the CEO of one of the worlds oldest and largest companies, General Electric (GE). Originally founded by Thomas Edison, this company has grown up with America and has been one of the leading innovators in American technology. I fortunately got the chance to meet Mr. Immelt before and after the speech.

Some point of interest from his speech:

Three big trends he says will get stronger: Globalization, larger interaction between government and business, volatility and face paced business.

–He says one of the secrets GE uses is turning their enormous size into an advantage, and not making it a disadvantage. He also says reinvesting so much money in research is a HUGE factor in their success.

–Good Business Leaders Must: Lead with an undying sense of optimism, believe in change, have a healthy disrespect of history, know the difference between confidence and arrogance.

–He reads 4 newspapers a day, 40 journals a week and about 50 books per year. He says he is an avid reader, something I’ve noticed most great business leaders are.

–He says his main job as a CEO is to: Pick initiatives and businesses to get involved in, shape the company culture, pick great people.

–“If you want something done, ask a busy person.”

–He started out at a very lowly position at GE in 1982. He worked his way up over the years, but never really planned on becoming CEO. He was hand picked by Jack Welch.

–He gave the standard spiel about being successful in a company: Make your job fun, have a passion for it, work hard yadda yadda yadda.

–Immelt and Steve Balmer used to share a cubicle at Proctor & Gamble many years ago.

–He is very interested in doing business with Eastern Europe and the Middle East. He also sees much more growth ahead in China and India. He says in 5-10 years half of all business done by GE will be outside the U.S. He constantly stressed that globalization is here to stay and extremely important.

–I asked if he works out, and he said EVERY DAY at 5:30 am for one hour.

Of course I had to take a picture with him. This man is just about one of the most powerful people in the world. He was actually genuinely interested in what all the people who swarmed him after the speech had to say, and a very nice guy in general.

After the speech there was a private session for an hour and half with him which contained about 10 representatives from the business school, 10 representatives from the engineering school, three GE employees…and me (Of which I don’t fit any of those categories). I think the main thing that drew me in however was the free food! No matter how much money I ever have, free food will always lure me in.

At this session Jeff Immelt mainly took a barrage of questions from the curious audience about his daily routines, views, business opinions and personal life. It was great fun meeting him, and I even got a make-shift dinner of finger foods and some free GE bags and other goodies!

Texas Film Society Hall of Fame Awards

This past Friday, “Bob” once again tipped me off about a great party. This particular event was going to have a lot of celebrities, film producers and a lot of high powered people in general.

I was informed the attire was “Texas Cocktail”, and I had NO clue what that meant. I played it safe and wore a tux, until I found out I was WAY over dressed. The bow tie came off, a few buttons were let loose and my wardrobe looked decent.

I had the chance to hang out with my friend N-a.te P a – ul at this party (He’s a college freshman and has already sold six companies….a whole post will go up about this guy later).

It was quite an eventful night, but some few major points:

I somehow heard Lucy Liu was in the crowd, and after dinner I actually went up to her and said, “Are you Lucy Liu? May I take a picture with you?” She gave me the COLDEST look and said, “I’m not Lucy Liu” and her friend sitting next to her confirmed her statement.

Turns out is was Lisa Ling from the show “The View”! Obviously, Lisa Ling is not a big Neville Medhora fan anymore. I’m usually not embarrassed easily, but I must laugh at MYSELF for that slip up :-)

In hindsight it’s clear to see they don’t look exactly alike…but it person in was deceiving!

Towards the end of the night me and NP happened to stumble upon access passes laying out on the tables. I got lucky and picked up an “All Access” pass which allowed me to go in the promo picture room with all the celebs and directors. It was surprisingly strict in there, the bouncers actually made someone delete two pictures from their digital camera inside the room.

Matthew McConaughey was there being inducted into the Hall of Fame, and NP and I went through a lot of crap to get this awful picture. We FINALLY got MM’s picture while he was ordering a drink. Long story short, Matthew McConaughey is an ASS. He’s also People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive.

I’m hardly in the picture. When he finally agreed to take the picture, he said, “Fine, but I’m not moving.” So far that night I had pissed of TWO celebrities, a new record.

Lyle Lovett performed that night, and we got a picture with him. His people were trying to get him out of the venue and told us we couldn’t have a picture, however he told them to hold on and took one with us anyway. He even talked to us for a little while. He looks a bit like a rooster, but otherwise he was a great guy.

The party was great, but the BEST part of the night was figuring out where the after party was! A little asking around got us the location, so we headed to Downtown. When we arrived, NP dropped a big name he knew personally which got us past the tight security. Surprisingly, it was at a 3-storey, private condo in the middle of Downtown Austin.

THIS is where all the fun and mingling was that night! Before we left, me and NP took some “Party-Crashing” pictures by the rooftop pool to remember the good times:

It was an awesome time. Of course I wouldn’t have known about it without “Bob”, so another great big thanks to him for another party hookup!

Favorite Quotes

I like to put quotes around my room. I mainly use them to motivate myself when I’m slacking.
The quotes I enjoy are simple, concise and evoke a passion for working hard or show the harsh realities of NOT working hard. Anytime I see a quote to my liking, I write it in my quotes section on Microsoft OneNote. Usually my main source of quality quotes comes from random posts on TheKirkReport.com, from which I regularly steal them.

Once I put a quote up, it helps to motivate for a while, but then quickly starts fading into the background. I then begin to stop noticing it when I walk in my room. For this reason, I’m constantly adding new ones or moving them around.

Here are some of my favorite quotes for whichever reasons, and some of the places I put them around my room:
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“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter if you are a lion or a gazelle. When the sun comes up, you better be running.”

“It is a common oversight in people not to make provision for the bad times while they are experiencing good times.”
–Machiavelli

“I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.”
–Thomas Jefferson
(Taken from How to Be An Expert)

“I never saw a pessimistic general win a battle.”
–General Dwight David Eisenhower

“A smooth sea never made a skillful mariner”

“When written in Chinese, the word “crisis” is composed of two characters – one represents danger and one represents opportunity.”
–John F. Kennedy

“The wise person has long ears and a short tongue “

“If Columbus had turned back, no one would have blamed him. Of course, no one would have remembered him either”

“…..it doesn’t matter how many times you fail. It doesn’t matter how many times you almost get it right. No one is going to know or care about your failures, and either should you. All you have to do is learn from them and those around you because…All that matters in business is that you get it right once. Then everyone can tell you how lucky you are.”
–Mark Cuban

“If you think your actions are too small to make a difference, you’ve never been in a bed with a mosquito. “

“The only man who never makes a mistake is the one who never does anything.”
–Theodore Roosevelt

“Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.”
–Barry LePatner

“Good things come to those who wait. Better things come to those who try.”

“Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty.”

“If we do not discipline ourselves the world will do it for us.”
–William Feather

Google Ads Gone

On February 1st 2006 I for the first time put Google Adsense on NevBlog. I begrudgingly did this to fund my charity account, but the ads annoy me more than anything, so I will take them down for a little while.

Selling Pixels made me over $2,000 with just a little work and was more fun/unique than AdSense. However, I do see why people use Adsense. Here are the revenues from my first few days using AdSense:

After the 5th day, revenues were usually pretty low, somewhere in the $1 – $2 range or lower….sporadically jumping to over $10 on some days. The big money days were when I actually wrote about the ads, naturally drawing more attention to them.

Something really going against the ads is they were “below the fold” which means people must first scroll down to see them. I like extremely simple usability, and putting an ad where a navigation menu should go is a no-no to me.

If utilized correctly, people can actually make a decent amount of extra money with AdSense. This would mean positioning the ads correctly and writing about high pay-per-click topics, neither of which I did (or plan to). However, the ads tend to clutter pages and skew what content topics are written about.

This was a nice little experiment with Google Adsense for me. I learned something and came away with a total of $138 for the 28 days of February…..roughly $5/day.

Cheap Ecommerce Shopping Carts

I’ve tried and used tons of different Ecommerce shopping carts over the years, and some online shopping carts can be very expensive. Nowadays, open source shopping carts have sprung up all over the place that offer novice web users the chance to open an Ecommerce store…..FREE.

For a recent partnership business I’m helping start, I did a review of several open source shopping carts which allow you to start a fully functioning Ecommerce store with little know-how and little money:
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OScommerce:
This is the big daddy of open source shopping carts. It has an enormous amount of users who regularly contribute to their support groups and add on modules.

Pros:

  • FREE
  • Easy to install
  • Huge support section and forum.
  • Add on modules created by the community for free
  • Great selection of out-of-the-box OScommerce templates available (for money) at TemplateMonster.com
  • When you purchase a template, the entire shopping cart is already included for free.
  • Can have a store up, running and accepting orders within minutes.
  • Simple checkout screens.

Cons:

  • Templates are extremely hard to manipulate, will most likely need to buy a professionally made template or have someone help.
  • A little “Bulky” on the backend.
  • Will take a little getting used to the backend: adding products, adding options. Not as intuitive as some of the for-pay shopping carts.

OScommerce Frontend

OScommerce Backend

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Zen Cart

This is basically an easier to use offspring of OScommerce. From my experience, it is almost identical in every aspect to OScommerce, just a cleaned up interface. The only major difference I saw was the ability to easily upload multiple templates, something OScommerce is pretty fussy about. Zen Cart is also slightly easier to use in the backend, but once again, is almost identical to OScommerce.

Zen Cart templates are not hard to find (for pay), but OScommerce has more templates, more add-on modules and a larger community of users.

ZenCart Frontend

ZenCart Backend

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X-Cart:
This is a for-pay shopping cart that allows a full, turnkey solution to Ecommerce:

Pros:

  • Easy to install
  • All add on modules and templates usually cost money, but are professionally done.
  • Easier to use than OScommerce and ZenCart.
  • Has easier add-on features and a clean interface
  • Easier to get professional help than the open source carts.
  • Has very nice upselling features and makes it easy to upload multiple images for a product.

Cons:

  • Not open source. If you have complicated modifications to make (which most people don’t), this shopping cart will be much harder to manipulate than OScommerce/ZenCart.
  • Costs at least $200 for the software, plus extra money for templates and add on modules. Probably not the choice for an uber-cheap startup.

Xcart Frontend

Xcart Backend

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All of the above shopping carts allow for easy merchant account integration and are a complete out-of-the-box solution for starting an Ecommerce store. I’d suggest first downloading OScommerce and trying it out. Add a few products, add some categories, place a few orders yourself and get used to the feel of it. The only requirement is a web hosting plan that allows you to create databases.

Verdict:

OScommerce: Use if a free solution is needed. Best option when looking for free upgrade modules. Best options when looking for great looking templates.

ZenCart: Use if a free solution is needed. Works slightly simpler than OScommerce.

X-Cart: If you’ve got a few hundred dollars to spend and want a nice looking store with upsell features and easy multiple image uploads, I’d recommend Xcart. They have a free demo also.

If familiarized with these sorts of shopping carts, you can have a brilliant idea for an Ecommerce store and actually exectute the idea while you’re still motivated about it rather than first having to learn about ecommerce!