Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Useful apps for the Droid

Here are some of apps that I have found to be the most useful for me, not including the ones that come pre-installed on my Droid.
  • Quick Profile: I use it to quickly set the volume for various notifications, based on where I am and what I'm doing. My "car windows down" profile turns the volume up on phone calls, Bluetooth in-call volume, and notifications. My "meeting" profile sets the phone ringer to vibrate, shuts off the Bluetooth, and turns off email and text message notifications. I use this application almost constantly; it's reliable and adds a level of convenience to the phone that is remarkable.
  • GReader: A decent app that displays the blogs that I subscribe to in Google Reader so that I don't have to try and read them in my web browser. The synchronization doesn't work very well, but it opens the posts faster than the browser.
  • Google Maps Labs: There are a couple of really nice add-ons for Google Maps. Namely, the scale bar and the layer button. Both have made the application much easier to use.
  • The Weather Channel: I can get the forecast for the cities I'm interested in, even if I'm not there.
  • Battery Widget: This puts a battery meter right on the main display, which I find to be very convenient.
Of course, Pandora and FaceBook get a lot of use on my Droid, as does Soduko Daily. I still haven't found a good auto-text function, like I had on my BlackBerry. Inserty allows you to pre-compose some text to use in messaging, but it's cumbersome to use. ShapeWriter has made touch-screen composition much better for me, but I don't think it is still available in the Droid Marketplace. I don't know if a replacement has been published.

What do you think?
What are your favorite Droid apps?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Is the PMO still useful?

A few years back, the Project Management Office was the hot trend in business, especially among enterprises on the large side of the mid-sized spectrum. Clearly, these firms saw the benefits of investing in the discipline of project management and of standardizing best practices across their companies. Graphs like this actually mattered to people. A PMO that didn't have the right cultural fit would really impede progress against important initiatives.

But who still has a PMO?
Are there any firms under $500M (US) that can afford the overhead?
Does the value generated by a PMO even come close to covering its costs?

The mega-enterprise clearly gains sufficient value from a PMO. Just having a standardized, predictable reporting methodology is probably worth the cost. But I can't see a medium-sized firm getting enough benefits to justify the expense of at least 3 FTEs, supporting software and the added project costs.

What do you think?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Blog Police

Blogging is earning a unique place in the hierarchy of marketing tools. Not too long ago, a corporate blog was seen as something that that the kids were doing down on the first floor. The grey-beards were intrigued and impressed with the display of initiative, but didn't pay much attention to the activity.

Now the perspective is that a blog is a necessary ... even indispensable ... part of the overall marketing strategy. They create an informal and seemingly natural conversation about the company, which fills in the overall brand image in the consumer's mind. Blogs don't replace traditional media, but they help to complete the picture.

But even though blogs are critically important, there are thousands of smaller companies that don't produce them. Why? When they would stand to benefit the most from them? Simply, it takes time to write. I have barely written over the past 6 months. The firm I work for has amazing expertise and a remarkable breadth of knowledge across the team. Yet, there is no Hartman Blog. So it is no surprise that a micro-industry has risen up to fill this need.

But a blog posting has no requirement for accuracy in and of itself. And frankly, there are many, many bad writers out there.* So, a group of concerned - and self-interested - people came together to form the Internet Content Syndication Council (ICSC) back in 2007. Earlier this year, they published a document calling for some sort of reviewing authority that would certify blogs as being of acceptable quality. "Low-quality content can pollute the information ecosystem," as one of their members once said. They believe that this process will somehow protect readers from being misled.

But who will certify the ICSC certifiers? What gives them the authority to separate accurate opinions from inaccurate ones? How will they keep their personal biases - or corporate agendas - from influencing their decisions?

I believe that readers are smart enough to distinguish truth from fiction and facts from opinion. The internet needs no blog police to give their stamp of approval to my posts or to anyone else's. Bloggers who routinely lie lose readership. That's all the policing we need.

A related article at AdWeek: Council to Counter Web 'Content Mills'?
* On a scale of 1 to 10, I give myself, on average, a 7.5. I have definitely produced some high-quality posts, but I also have published more than my fair share of atrocious writing.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

How to tell when someone is on the phone

You are driving down the road and the car in front of you starts ...
  • slowing down for no apparent reason
  • using up the entire lane, and maybe a little more than the lane
  • then straightens out and speeds back up

Did you notice the driver's head, as it turned down and to the right?

Voice activated dialing will help some of this, but the caller still needs to pick which number to use, right? And when the phone rings, the caller-ID feature makes it very tempting to check the screen before answering the call, doesn't it?