From today’s Microsoft Windows Vista release:

“Companies we’ve talked to are looking at driving major revenue increases, improved responsiveness to customers, and improved sales team win rates with the 2007 Microsoft Office system,” said Ken Edwards, vice president of Capgemini. “The early adopters have realized cost savings through process workflow automation, easier access to information, improved collaboration with colleagues, and lower costs of compliance. It’s all about creating better customer connections and empowering your people at less cost and with greater effectiveness.”

Really? A new word processor and spreadsheet and suddenly sales team win rates are increasing?Perhaps it’s time to fire a few of the salespeople if a new version of Excel made the difference. And I’m not sure how a new version of Office creates better customer connections and empowers your people at less cost, just to use a couple of the standard marketing benefit phrases. It seems that you’ve already paid more just to upgrade.

It’s just another operating system, and another office suite.Despite what Mr. Ballmer says, these are not "game changing" products. It’s just the equivalent of a new baseball bat and glove.


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Waiting to die.

Om Malik mentions Nortel’s reverse stock split:

First it was Ciena, and now Nortel is doing a reverse split, hoping to add some respectability to their stock price. The beleaguered telecom equipment maker which has been constantly resetting itself since the telecom bust, is going for 1-for-10 reverse split. The current share price is about $2.15, and after the split, the price will be $21.50 a share. The total share count will decline from around 4.34 billion to about 505 million shares.

I worked for Nortel a few years agoand it didn’t appear to be a well run company then, but at the height of the boom it could do no wrong. But since then it can only do wrong. From executives benefitting immensely even while they constantly delay financials and restate earnings, it must be time to put the company out of its misery.

As a shareholder who bought the stock at $20 only to see it fall as low as a dollar, it’s clear to me that the company just doesn’t have a clue. And it’s also clear that the interests of shareholders are the least of their concerns.


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If you’re downloading Bleezer now, you’re going to get Version 0.9.7. Don’t let the subtle version change mislead you – there are a lot of changes, which I’ll document in the next day or so.

It’s taken a few months to get here, but I’ve been using it for a couple of months myself. It provides for WYSIWYG editing. If you include an image from your local disk it will automatically be uploaded to your blog host. There is better support for categories, including multiple selection.

There are a lot of changes. There are probably a couple of outstanding issues as well, which you should feel free to report via email to And there are more things planned.



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Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s Thanksgiving and like millions of New Yorkers we watched the Macy’s Parade this morning, though we watched it from the comfort of a hotel room with friends at 54th and Broadway. Then we had lunch at The View, the rotating restaurant at the top of the Marriott Marquis in Times Square.

A bit wet, but a great day. Happy Thanksgiving!


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Bumping into people.

I rarely bump into anyone famous regardless of where I’m travelling. But last night Eugene Levy was on my flight, and actually bumped into us when we were boarding.

And then today I literally walked into Joan and Melissa Rivers. Ok, we’re talking B-list celebrities, but it’s still unusual for me.

I guess if you stick a few million people onto an island the size of Manhattan the odds go up.

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Timing is everything.

I’m travelling tomorrow on Air Canada on a flight that departs at 6:15 pm. Today I received an email inviting me to use their Web Checkin service:

You can now use Web Check-in up to 24 hours prior to departure every time you travel. Print your boarding pass, select your seat, stand-by for an earlier flight or upgrades if eligible.

So when did I receive the email? 7:03 pm tonight, about 23 hours and 15 minutes before my flight, which is unfortunately less that their 24 hour rule.

Good idea. Bad execution.


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Scaring away your customers.

I went to a local restaurant in Waterloo – the Huether Hotel – last night to grab some takeout food for my wife for dinner. I ordered the Ultimate Alfredo for $14.50, which seemed a bit high for a place which is basically a pub with food. The waitress placed my order without comment.

About 15 minutes later, the food arrived and the waitress gave me the bill. Lo and behold, the restaurant had added a "takeout charge" of 50 cents to the bill. Of course that became part of the meal cost, so I was also forced to pay tax on the takeout charge.

So for freeing a table for other customers and eliminating the cost of serving me in the restaurantI was made to pay 50 cents on top of the cost of my meal. Obviously this is a restaurant that does not want takeout customers.

I’m happy to oblige. I told the manager on the way out that such a charge was ridiculous and I wouldn’t be back. Sadly, he didn’t even bother to apologize or even acknowledge my concern.

He got his 50 cents. But he just lost untold future business, because I didn’t just tell 10 people – I blogged it.


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Dead people don’t buy stuff.

Motorola’s motivation for helping fight AIDS in Africa became clear this week in comments made by Ron Garriques, chief of the handset division:

The audience had earlier laughed uncomfortably when Mr. Garriques was describing Motorola’s red cellphones, a portion of whose profits are donated to help fight AIDS in Africa. Customers who are alive, he explained, "can be future customers."

Via Techdirt.


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Fight global warming. Pollute.

The solution to the perceived problem of global warming could be a simple one.

Increase pollution:

Air pollution may be just the thing to fight global warming, some scientists say.

Prominent scientists, among them a Nobel laureate, said a layer of pollution deliberately spewed into the atmosphere could act as a "shade" from the sun’s rays and help cool the planet.

So perhaps humans actually caused the problem not by carbon dioxide emission, but by cleaning up pollution.

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Inconveniencing your customer.

I have a problem with my digital cable television. My provider is Rogers, a Canadian telecommunications company.

They have several numbers on their bill for different services, so I call the Rogers Cable 24 Hour repair service – 1-800-738-7891. But I don’t get the 24 hour cable repair service. They have an interactive voice response system and I am asked to tell them if I am calling about internet, wireless, phone, or cable service. Then I am led on a merry chase through several phone prompts, including entering my phone number, as they’ve clearly never heard of call display and incoming number capture.

In fact, no matter which specific Rogers number you call you are led through the same phone prompts, which are clearly their for their convenience, and not mine. They want to make sure that I don’t waste the time of a real person. Or perhaps they hope that I’ll just get tired and give up. And I know they don’t care because the first think I do every time I call them is complain about the frustration of trying to get through their system. They always apologize but nothing ever changes.

This is a company clearly that doesn’t care about me as a customer. But they don’t really have any competition, so they really don’t have to. They exist in a market space essentially protected by the government. By law Canadian residents cannot purchase cable or satellite service from anyone ouside the country.

It is companies like this that fear competition the most because they won’t be able to fight a decent service. I can imagine a day when I can get my television via the internet and I can deal with companies that actually want my business.


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