I posted this to Twitter, but it felt like now was a good time to give the image a better home. Seriously, fixing this issue cannot be done via software.
Like magic, I move my hand just a bit during a conversation, and my phone calls vanish! I must always be on guard against my tendency to try to grip my slippery phone, or buy a bulky, overly expensive, and difficult-to-obtain case.
And a case would not fix the face-dialing issue that has gone completely unrecognized by Apple. It happens to me on 2 out of 3 calls: I’ll dial a number, switch to speakerphone, or just hang up on my call.
Gruber may not believe we exist, but there are those of us that cannot make or receive calls properly. I may hate the clunkiness of Android phones, but (face-dialing aside) the iPhone 4 drops calls with alarming regularity. That’s embarrassing on business calls, and chuck-your-phone-through-a-window maddening when on a dial-in conference call. I’d be sad to downgrade to my (still unsold) 3GS, but it’s honestly tempting.
First off, I am so glad to be blogging again. My last post was the day before my first child was born, and babies, as it turns out, are a “disruptive technology”.
I’ve collected a lot of thoughts and decided on a more personal direction for the blog (at least for now). Rather than regurgitate and link out to things on the Web I find interesting, I’ll post more thoughts about what inspires me in the world of writing, marketing, and life in general.
This evening I went to the local grocery store and was shocked. It looked as if a hurricane were bearing down on us: empty shelves, disheveled aisles, wide open spaces where goods were once jockeying for my attention.
There’s no other sensation quite like depression, and that’s precisely the feeling that bore down on me as I traversed the aisles, looking (in vain) for Size 2 Huggies. Each empty shelf added to the melancholy, until I could only imagine a new version of that littering commercial, with Alan Greenspan shedding a single tear as consumers drive past an empty store.
What happened? Flyers near the exit told no more of the story than “Goodbye as of February 23.” I think I can fill in the blanks.
Albertson’s was the closest supermarket to our home. It’s right on a main road in a residential area, and one block from a new I-15 onramp/offramp that’s being built. This is prime real estate for a grocery store.
It wasn’t particularly dated, either; clean, late-90’s decor, and good upkeep lent a trustworthiness to the meat and produce that other, decades-older stores in the area seemed to lack.
But the explanation for this store’s demise (and I forsee more) is simple: Albertson’s gambled against the customer and lost. In a robust economy, they noticed that with “Preferred Savings” cards and yellow “look at the price” labels everywhere, customers didn’t notice when they nudged prices on staple goods ever higher.
Plus, every week I’d go in and a specialty brand or variety I used to purchase had been eliminated, losing a battle for shelf space with the generic Kroger brand. So instead of 24 varieties of soup, there are 12. It wasn’t just soup, it was any item that seemed to sell well. Selection tanked while prices rose to an insane degree. In a robust economy, people aren’t watching as closely, and Albertson’s took advantage of the situation in a move to boost quarterly profits at the literal expense of the customer.
I use a simple indicator for a store’s general sense of value: What’s the everyday price on a 12-pack of Coke, Dr. Pepper, or Pepsi? At Smith’s, it’s typically $3.50. At Harmon’s, it’s $4. At Albertson’s, they had, over the course of 5 years, jacked it up to near $8. You could walk out to the vending machine and buy individual cans of soda for less!
The saddest part is that this and other future closures will be blamed on the economy, no lessons will be learned, and the executive staff at Albertson’s/Kroger will continue to insulate themselves from the needs and feelings of their customers, until they are out on their collective asses, wondering what went wrong.
I’m not saying there are no real victims of this economic downturn, but I’ll bet that out of 4 businesses that shut down and blame it, 3 are victims of mismanagement, bad business models, or sheer hubris.
What’s the lesson? For starters, stop screwing your customers over. You know who you are. Your prices are too high. Your service isn’t good enough. I can promise that the customer doesn’t share the sense of value you think you’re offering with your product.
Old justifications of value don’t work, because suddenly, we’re all on a fixed income. Everyone’s looking for a NET COST SAVINGS: How can I pay less next month than I paid last month?
Second, if you’re selling a commodity, you’d better be darn sure you’re priced in accordance with other avenues the customer will take. Because right now, customers will take those avenues, loyalty or convenience be damned.
I’m confident that we as a nation will weather the storm. My hope for myself and for you is that we have the wisdom to quickly learn the lessons necessary to prosper during the downturn and to retain them when it’s over.
The best blog on the internet is Boing Boing, which probably goes without saying.
The worst blog on the internet should also go without saying, but you probably haven’t heard of it. Luckily, I’ve got a lot to say about it.
It’s That’s Fit. And if your blog suffers from any of the 4 things I’m listing below, you’re next on my list.
Those that know me well know this blog fills my daily rage meter to boiling. I’ll quickly run down the reasons, and again, if you’re guilty of this kind of stuff, cut it out! And if you write for That’s Fit, that goes doubly.
I first saw That’s Fit as the AOL network was pimping it heavily on other blogs like TUAW and Engadget a few years ago. As someone who periodically blogs about fitness, I added the RSS subscription to my NewsGator feeds.
Since then, I have wanted to post the following comment after every entry: “Shut up! What’s wrong with you?”
I could go through a post-by-post rebuttal of their writings; they’re that stupidly-written and wrongheaded. Instead, I’ll list 4 things that indicate your blog is doomed to obscurity’s hell:
1. You preach to, rather than relate with, your readers.
This may seem hypocritical in a post telling you your blog is going to hell, and so what if it is? I’m more referring to the fact that the phrase “my children” appears 707 times in the blog.
What does that mean? Let me offer a couple of examples:
“Gold medal phenomenon Michael Phelps never stumbled at the 2008 Olympic Games, but what was he thinking when he signed the Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes sponsorship agreement? A cereal high in sugar, low in fiber, made with mostly refined grains. One of the last meals I’d feed my kids for breakfast.”
“Parents just have to get on board, too, and save soda for the rare treat or avoid it altogether.”
“[My son’s teacher] banned candy from her classroom. I thought it was wonderful. The kids will still be allowed to have candy on special occasions such as Valentine’s Day. But on a day to day basis, my son’s teacher is promoting good nutrition that will give them the energy they need.”
“…parents need to answer the nationwide Help Wanted ad for Gaming Gatekeepers — now. This is especially relevant for our family at the moment, based on watching my seven-year-old’s new, disturbing behavior after receiving his very first, high-tech video game a month ago.”
“Your loving online Fitzness Expert (me) who has extremely high standards on what I put in both my children’s mouth and my own can spend a day at the Magic Kingdom or EPCOT and eat as well as I would in my own home.”
This begs 2 questions: First, how did every blogger on That’s Fit achieve the position of “World’s Best and Most Responsible Parent”, especially considering the fact they take the time to post to the Web while uttering phrases like “high-tech video game”? The second question is:
2. Oh, you’re an expert at what? What the hell is a Fitzness Expert?
This irks me to no end. I work with highly respected experts and authors, highly regarded in nutrition and exercise, and they blush at being called “experts”; such is the humility of the true expert.
The credential-less jabberers at That’s Fit actually altered the word Fitness to accomodate their names! This Fitz K character is seen wearing every piece of sporting equipment she can get someone to take a photo of her in (not to mention the fact that her posts are intolerable name-dropping garbage). If she’s clamoring for fame, she should probably be doing it on a blog whose readership is larger than it was last year, not smaller.
It’s fine to be an expert, guru, or Zen master, but earn the title, rather than self-assign it.
Speaking of “FitZness”:
3. Un”BEAR”able headlines
Pun-based headlines? Sure! Painful and trite? Absolutely. And nonsense? You bet.
“Drinking water for weight loss: Is it a ‘waist’ of time?” — Hilarious, and topical!
“Get cut like your fruit” — Oh, I get it. No, actually, I don’t.
“Think Healthy.” — It may not be original, but it’s also not grammatically correct.
“BODYFLOW yourself” — WHAT. Did you just tell me to…
“Row, row, row your back” — What pudding-brain thought this was good to post?
“How Many Calories … in an IHOP omelet?” — From the “Burning Questions” category, I guess.
And that’s not counting the “5 ways to blah blah blah” and the “8 foods that blah blah blah” posts. If you aren’t clever, don’t try to be.
Come straight at me with your intentions, and I’ll be less likely to want to cut myself just to make sure I still feel after reading your post.
And most importantly, if you have this, you are going to have all of the above:
4. An impossible-to-care-about purpose
Choose a blog topic that people have an interest in! How hard is that? Not so easy, actually. Most blogs are self-indulgent to an insane degree. It requires a lot of discipline to focus on things other people find interesting.
It doesn’t have to be for everybody. My sister maintains a blog about her dog, her adorable husband, and her adorable life. It’s perfect for her readership of loved ones.
But as soon as you start blogging for the general public, no one cares about your children’s wise eating choices. Educate me. Entertain me. Make me laugh. Point me to something interesting somewhere else. Just don’t write to fill space.
A fitness blog is a misguided choice. New information relating to fitness comes up once or twice a week, at the most. So you start filling space with opinions, meaningless stories, largely-unrelated news items, calorie counts from take-out menus, and other regurgitated and painful-to-read stuff.
So there you have it. A recipe for failure, from the blog that is the Julia Child of EPIC FAIL.