Catching up with “What The Fund?”

Slightly behind schedule I bring you What The Fund episodes 10 and 11. Back story on the posting delay is below, for those of you interested in a behind-the-scenes look.

Findster is a set of GPS tracking devices that let you keep tabs on your kids and pets.

Digidate is a virtual reality project intended for first dates. I have a better idea.

Here’s the back story. I was using some inexpensive video production software for episodes 1 through 10. While the software wasn’t much to write about, it was sufficient for my original purposes — basically doing some minor post production on a nearly finished product. But when it came to doing much more than that, its inexpensive roots started to show, particularly a nasty green tinge that the webcam driver corrects for but the cheap capture software doesn’t. While I know a good video has more to do with content than with white balance, the photographer in me had a real hard time paying attention to the content.

So I acquired some less inexpensive (but still cheap, as in under $100) replacements [VideoPad from NCH software]. While it’s still not as powerful as professional software, this has let me move to a two head production (two cameras), and use my professional camera to capture full HD. While that’s a major improvement, it comes with a steep learning curve that impacts the whole production process. This means it took a few extra days to get episode 11 out the door. Fortunately after I get back up to speed it looks like it won’t take a lot more work to move forward with this format, so I hope everyone likes it.

Fun with “sansoftonline.com SEO Company”

Every once in a while I get a Skype connection from someone trying to sell Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Services. My standard rebuttal is to show them how my business ranks higher than theirs on a search for “search engine optimization”. We do relatively well because years ago I posted a very basic article on Realistic SEO. Generally speaking, the site isn’t particularly authoritative on the subject, so the search has the link down in no mans land on page 22 or so (for a search done in Canada; if you’re outside the country your results will probably place it on page ten million or so). If you add “realistic” to the search then it comes up much higher, but still in desperation land (page 2 or 3). (more…)

Critiquing Crowdfunding: Introducing “What the Fund?”

What the Fund? I love the crowdfunding concept. I’ve backed two Kickstarter projects so far, and I’ve been happy with the results. I really like the product launch model: what better way to know your product is going to be a hit than to have your crowdfunded project blow right past its goals? What a great way to both lower the amount of investment you need to launch a business and to prove that you’ve got a valid concept to investors.

But that’s the ideal case. A crowdfunded project is also an acid test for your idea. If it sucks, nobody’s going to buy in. The sad fact is that a lot of ideas suck, and failure to meet your funding goal can be a harsh reality check. (more…)

Everyone is Broken

I’ve just spent some time looking for a quote I think I’ve read somewhere. Historically this means I either have the quote badly mangled, or it’s something that’s been rebounding through my neurons for so long I think I picked it up from somewhere else. Either way, the version I post here will invariably be less eloquent.

“Everyone is broken in some deep, fundamental way. The trick is to never let it become visible, especially to yourself.”

The problem is that the breakage can’t be masked, only managed. Sometimes slathering a cover upon it just gives it a nice comfy place to fester and come back, bigger, uglier, and harder to contain. The last thing you want is a hole that can never be filled, no matter how much booze or drugs you pour into it.

No matter how broken you think you are, know that there are others who are just as broken, often in almost exactly the same ways. There are people who are very capable of helping broken people deal with the broken bits. They’ll never be fixed, just as an addict is never cured — only managed.

The real trick is to do the opposite of the quote above. Let it become visible, to people close to you, to professionals capable of helping. Opening up is the only way to stick the pieces together, and it’s always going to be a tough road.

You’re not alone. We’re all broken. It’s just that few of us have the courage to talk about it openly.

Ain’t Nothin’ Free

I’m at the point where if you want me to sign up for your free service, your website better have a main menu titled “Revenue Model”. Ain’t nuthin’ for free, so just come clean and tell me which piece of me you’re trying to get a slice of — or I’m likely to assume you aren’t going to last anyway.

Dear Rob and Doug: Get the Hell Out

On Thursday, Doug Ford said this to the Toronto Sun: “This is not normal in democracy… It is a full out jihad against us right now.”

Yes Doug, you have that partly right, because what’s “normal” in democracy is that when you get caught engaging in criminal behaviour, you resign. Because what’s “normal” is to be accountable to your taxpayers by communicating to them through the media. All media. Because what’s “normal” is to represent all the people, not just the ones who voted for you. Because what’s “normal” is to have some integrity and not do backroom deals to help your buddies.

So you ignore all that and what you get is angry voters. Sooner or later you get enough voters sufficiently angry that they’re not going to take it anymore and you get a battle, mislabel it “full out jihad” if you want, but you brought it upon yourselves and it is NOT going away with a wave of your usual bully tactics, so get used to it or do the right thing and get the hell out.

D-Day

In January of 2000 I went to the south of France to celebrate the start of the last year of the millennium with friends. After the celebrations, I took the TGV high speed train to Paris for a week. 1999 was a good year, and I booked a first class seat, which meant I got seated in a cabin of about 8 seats at the front of the car.

There were three people besides me in the cabin. A rather strange fellow who both offered up scrawled, broken samples of poetry and kept on trying to convince me that I should be involved in Nigerian oil and diamonds (needless to say my comprehension of his French and broken English was surprisingly low that day) and an older couple who seemed to be rather disapproving of the both of us.

Eventually the hustler managed to pry from me the fact that I was Canadian. This had little effect on him, but the change in the older couple was profound. Suddenly they were fluent in English and more than willing to talk. What they had to say first stuck me: they thanked me for my country’s help in the war, for Juno beach. The man shook my hand, his gratitude some 55 years later surprised me.

Growing up not so long after the war, the contribution of Canada to the battle was something we knew well. We were taught to never forget  (although I mistakenly thought what we should not forget was to be intolerant of human rights violations, something we’d forgotten by the time Rwanda happened, but that’s another matter).

What we never really learned was how much our efforts were appreciated by those we liberated. By how much respect we gained by punching well above our weight in WW2, and to the extent that those we liberated would never forget our sacrifices.

I salute the amazing men and women who went to such extraordinary lengths to achieve such a great feat.