O J Way Oren Rosenthal Austin,TX

Size and Speed Beat the Full Court Press

Posted in News and Events, Technology by OJWay on May 27th, 2009 permalink

Everybody’s talking about Malcolm Gladwell’s recent article, How David Beats Goliath. For example, my company’s chairman, Eddie Lampert, has been tweeting about it. The central premise is that by eschewing traditional rules of engagement underdogs can predictably triumph over larger and more established foes. He begins with an exciting example of a 12-year-old girls’ basketball team that built their strategy around using full-court pressure defense all the time. They made it to the National Finals.

I can’t argue with Gladwell on the main argument, so I will pick on his example. The way David beats Goliath is that he turns Goliath’s strength into a weakness. However, it’s easy for well-trained players to beat the full court press. If you ask the 7′7″ Manute Bol, he’ll tell you that you can beat the press with size, just by throwing the ball over the defense. Or if you ask the 5′3″ Muggsy Bogues, he’ll tell you to do it with speed, by cutting for the fast break.

So long as they don’t get rattled, superior players will beat the press every time to get easy baskets. 12-year-old girls will get rattled, but college and pro-level players won’t. Rick Pitino, the college coach famous for using the press, only won an NCAA tourney when he had All-Star Antoine Walker on his team. He has a losing record as an NBA coach.

I’ll stop nitpicking Gladwell now, because he is my favorite nonfiction author. In his defense, another point he was making about the girls’ basketball team is that they worked much harder than their opponents and attacked in unexpected places. Other examples, such as Lawrence of Arabia, illustrate the point better. But they’re not nearly as much fun.

Cell Phone Companies’ Opportunities for Voice Mail UI

Posted in Technology by OJWay on October 11th, 2008 permalink

Hanging On The Telephone

Have you ever heard this before?

Record your message after the tone. To send a numeric page, press 5. When you are finished recording, hang up; or for delivery options, press pound. (Beep).

That’s the message appended to each T-Mobile subscriber’s voice mail greeting. Other carriers’ versions can be found at http://dwipal.blogspot.com/2006/04/voice-mail-messages.html.

However, I don’t use numeric paging. I wish I could turn this message off, but that isn’t a configurable option.  So if you leave two phone messages each day, waiting for this message takes up 14 hours over the course of a year. If you make $15 an hour, then that’s $210 of your time wasted (If you make more or less, then do your own math.)

Perhaps customers don’t recognize this because they rarely call their own voice mail. But why aren’t carriers aware they’re inconveniencing their customer’s inbound callers for the sake of a tiny audience that uses paging. This is a blind spot in their usability testing.


Personal Web Sites - Drupal or Joomla?

Posted in Technology by OJWay on October 2nd, 2008 permalink

Article in Folio comparing Open Source CMS environments.

It’s impressive that enterprise publishers, such as Us Magazine are using Drupal. Doesn’t it look great? Notice that they’ve even implemented pop-up windows.

So certainly Drupal provides a capable platform for high-end development. But according to the article Joomla is easier for basic users.

Now, let’s take a look at a Joomla site - Las Vegas Sports Magazine.

It’s very “template-ey”. It’s the current standard vanilla site. This would be poisonous to a world-class brand like Us, but certainly a lot less effort for a smaller publication. When it comes to personal web sites, it appears that Joomla would be the better choice unless you’re going after high concept design.

Traditional Radio Is Dead

Posted in Technology by OJWay on June 28th, 2008 permalink

As part of my ongoing look at entrepreneurs championing new technologies, I sat down with Internet Radio Expert and entrepreneur Mark Lassoff, VP of Sales and Marketing at NLI Media Group, who heads up their Internet Broadcasting Group.

O J Way: What is Internet radio?

Mark LassoffML: Technically, Internet Radio is the distribution of audio entertainment or informational programming via the Internet. What makes it “radio” is that all of the listeners are hearing the same thing at the same time. That’s what’s known as a single feed, just like a traditional radio station. But of course, you hear different programs or content depending on the time you’re listening.

O J Way: So why is Internet radio better?

ML: The net effect is that Internet radio gives people options they never had with traditional station. People are tired of the same 10 stations playing the same music available in every market. Do you like reggae? There are Internet radio stations that format nothing but Marley. Opera fan? Several choices in Internet radio cater to your tastes.

O J Way: What will you find on Internet radio right now?

ML: Internet radio is about to undergo a major change.

Right now, many traditional radio stations simply rebroadcast their signal through Internet radio. Wrong answer! People aren’t looking for another channel of traditional commercial radio.

Another segment would be hobbyists and DJ wanna-be’s. The quality of a lot of these programs is low. These are vanity productions, but the lower costs of Internet radio can help this channel grow.

The new and, I believe, most important segment of Internet radio broadcasters is traditional advertisers who are developing their own content. Here’s the business opportunity: 57% of weekly Internet radio users report listening while purchasing goods at a website. So Internet radio reaches customers right when they’re at a place where they can make purchasing decisions – namely when they’re online.

O J Way: Who would choose to listen to ads? (more…)


Posted in Technology by OJWay on June 8th, 2008 permalink

When I join an online community, how should I manage my network to make it work best for me? Do I want as many contacts as possible, or should I have a smaller network, composed only of people I know well and trust? It’s a fundamental argument about the merits of quality vs. quantity. The right answer depends on how deeply your computer usage is ingrained into your lifestyle.


Some people networ intimately. They share their schedules, their tastes in music, their pictures, and their profiles, and that’s also how they keep up with their friends.  These people may need to keep their online circle of friends in check. Others use the computer to communicate in a more superficial way. Even if they’re sending hundreds of e-mails and texts a day, they don’t reveal much. For these people, their network gets more effective as it gets larger.


Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon


Reihan Salam makes a case for “Quality” in an interesting piece he wrote for Slate on Facebook Etiquette called The Facebook Commandments

What should you do when someone you don’t like or don’t know sends you a friend request?

Most of you will hold your nose and accept the request. But why? This is like allowing a corsair-wielding pirate to board your vessel without a fight. Once you’ve accepted too many faux friends, Facebook becomes a real slog.

Reihan views Facebook as a vibrant online community, and not just a network. But I’m not a Facebook user. (More on that later.) I use LinkedIn, and I use it as a career resource to help me find people and be found. LinkedIn shows profile information on contacts within three degrees of separation, so having well-connected connections quickly broadens my world. I pretty much think that by now I’m three degrees away from everyone in Austin I’d want to meet. Zale Tabakman is a hardcore LinkedIn user, and he makes the case for “Quantity.” He should know; he himself has an extended LinkedIn network of 9 Million people.


Where’s The Middle Ground?  (more…)

Archiving Part I: Maintaining Primary Source Information

Posted in Technology by OJWay on May 23rd, 2008 permalink

Appalachian Folk Singer Mary Lomax
Note: I’m dividing this post into parts one and two. The inspiration for this post is a New Yorker article called “The Last Verse” by Burkhard Bilger about musicologists making field recordings of lost blues artists in the Georgia mountains. Part II is available here.

The Digital Memory Crisis

The Information Age has made long-term archiving much more difficult. It’s ironic. At first glance it’s easier than ever to store documents on a flash drive, or Yahoo! Briefcase, or one-touch backup. But easy backup can leave people with a false sense of security because there are serious long-term hazards for stored digital information.

  1. Degradation of the storage media itself. Acidic paper and magnetic tape are the most obvious examples that come to mind, but did you know that even CD-Rs can be counted on to last only up to 5 years? For example, *reportedly* 10-20% of data from the Viking Missions to Mars is lost due to the degradation of the magnetic tape. (BTW, this has fueled conspiracy theories that NASA is suppressing information about life on Mars.) *I can’t find any authoritative confirmation of this fact though, so if you can find it please comment.*
  2. The obsolescence of media technologies often prevents the retrieval of digital information. As a vinyl record collector I know this phenomenon pretty darned well. A good example of this was the near-loss of data from the 1960 census that was stored in a format that could only be read by vintage UNIVAC tape drives. Good luck getting hold of one of those! It took several years to get that data back.

Taken together, the Council of Library and Information Resources calls this the Digital Memory Crisis. But there’s a third hazard as well:

  1. The needle in the haystack problem. The vast quantities of data being produced are often routinely backed up without regard to their long-term usefulness. The really useful stuff is saved alongside the dross of the information age, and the knowledge of where to find it may be forgotten after only a few days.

Way Back Machine

9-track take with protection ringSo let me reminisce about my days at Raytheon. I was working on a radar system, but it was already well along its development path. It had been commissioned in the mid-80s, but it called for technology that was “tried and true” even back then, and presumably bug-free. That had a lot of disadvantages, but a cool part was that I learned to use (more…)

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