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Brooding on Matters | Travis Todd http://travi.st Not sure what this is going to turn into... Tue, 04 May 2010 03:27:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.7 Sling 3g for iPhone, Just in Time for March Madness http://travi.st/2010/02/sling-3g-for-iphone-just-in-time-for-march-madness/ http://travi.st/2010/02/sling-3g-for-iphone-just-in-time-for-march-madness/#respond Thu, 18 Feb 2010 00:09:23 +0000 http://travi.st/?p=435 This morning I noticed a new update was available for my iPhone in the App Store for Slingbox.  I about fell on the floor when reading the release notes which simply said “enables 3G”.  Over the past several months AT&T has enabled (allowed Apple to enable) MMS on the iPhone and now has given their […]

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Slingbox on the iPhone

Slingbox on the iPhone

This morning I noticed a new update was available for my iPhone in the App Store for Slingbox.  I about fell on the floor when reading the release notes which simply said “enables 3G”.  Over the past several months AT&T has enabled (allowed Apple to enable) MMS on the iPhone and now has given their blessing to stream audio/video over their network via Sling.  So today on my drive to work, I streamed television onto my phone not necessarily because I wanted to listen to it as I drove down the road, but because I could.  Technology is a wonderful thing when it’s allowed to be an enabler.

For those that don’t know, Slingbox is a device ($150) that you can install in your home, that allows you to access your television lineup from your computer or phone.  In 2006 I spent several weeks in South Africa during the month of March and it drove me nuts that I couldn’t watch any of March Madness from my computer.  When I got home I did a little research and discovered Sling Media.  Over the next three years I pretty much lived the life of a consultant out of a suitcase, and the purchase of the Slingbox was a no-brainer.  In the summer of 2009 Sling was added to the App Store, the gotcha however was that AT&T/Apple only allowed media to stream via a Wi-Fi connection.  Today’s update now allows the phone to stream video via Wi-Fi or 3G.

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How to make Trudy’s (like) Mexican Martini http://travi.st/2010/02/how-to-make-trudys-like-mexican-martini/ http://travi.st/2010/02/how-to-make-trudys-like-mexican-martini/#comments Thu, 11 Feb 2010 17:54:28 +0000 http://travi.st/?p=77 When I lived in Austin I was exposed to Trudy’s Mexican Martini and some very fine Tex-Mex.  Trudy’s is a wonderful Tex-Mex restaurant in Austin, TX (they currently have three locations).  The original location, situated just four block north of the University of Texas campus, in my opinion has the best atmosphere.  When I left Austin I knew that […]

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When I lived in Austin I was exposed to Trudy’s Mexican Martini and some very fine Tex-Mex.  Trudy’s is a wonderful Tex-Mex restaurant in Austin, TX (they currently have three locations).  The original location, situated just four block north of the University of Texas campus, in my opinion has the best atmosphere.  When I left Austin I knew that I would need to find a recipe that did the drink justice, and this one is quite close.

Ingredients

  • 2  ounces Herradura silver tequila
  • 1 ounce Cointreau liqueur
  • 1.5  ounce Sprite
  • 1 ounce orange juice
  • 1/2 lime, juice of
  • rim salt
  • olives
  • ice

Directions

Shake all ingredients and strain into glass rimmed with salt; add stuffed olives.

Enjoy!  If you like this, you might also like my favorite margarita recipe.

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Mom, If you are Reading This http://travi.st/2010/01/mom-if-you-are-reading-this/ http://travi.st/2010/01/mom-if-you-are-reading-this/#comments Thu, 21 Jan 2010 04:14:26 +0000 http://travi.st/?p=410 For the past several years whenever my mom replied to an email that I sent her, the reply was always at the bottom of the thread.  It was sort of annoying, yet I just always accepted it as my mom’s weird way of replying to emails.  Today I discovered that it’s not actually my mom’s fault for […]

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For the past several years whenever my mom replied to an email that I sent her, the reply was always at the bottom of the thread.  It was sort of annoying, yet I just always accepted it as my mom’s weird way of replying to emails.  Today I discovered that it’s not actually my mom’s fault for such strange behavior, she likely must be using the guidance of default settings and Thunderbird as her email client (email clients aren’t a topic of discussion at my parents when I am home for a weekend).

Being involved in a startup, sometimes you need tools that are “just good enough”.  There is no reason to go out and spend hundreds of dollars on software licences so that you can be like the corporate guys – there is an open source alternative for almost every tool you might need out there.  Here is a great reference (open source alternatives) for searching for said tools.

So, Mom, if you are reading this there are two default settings changes that I want you to make to Thunderbird so that it performs in a manner similar to the accepted norm.

First, I want you to make the following change so that  when you reply to a thread, it places your reply at the top of the thread as opposed to the bottom:

Thunderbird Reply Above Quote

Thunderbird Reply Above Quote

Step 1. Open Thunderbird and select “Tools”

Step 2. Select “Account Settings…”

Step 3. Under your email account select “Composition & Addressing”

Step 4. Under composition, make sure that “automatically quote the original message when replying ” is selected

Step 5. Most importantly, below that, change the drop down so that – Then, “start my reply above the quote” is selected.

Step 6. Click “Ok”.

While we are at it, we are going to fix another pet peeve that Thunderbird does by default which is forwarding messages as attachments instead of inline text – as a default behavior.  To make this change:

Step1. With Thunderbird open select “Tools”

Step 2. Select “Options…”

Step 3. Select “Composition”

Step 4. Change the drop down for Forward messages: to “Inline”.

Step 5. Click “Ok”.

Thunderbird Forward Messages Inline

Thunderbird Forward Messages Inline

I love you mom.

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The Fall of 2009 http://travi.st/2010/01/the-fall-of-2009/ http://travi.st/2010/01/the-fall-of-2009/#comments Wed, 13 Jan 2010 23:35:07 +0000 http://travi.st/?p=402 What I’ve learned, done, and been reminded of professionally in the last three months: I’ve installed and built out 3 WordPress sites and have become quite proficient at the inner workings of WP. I’ve installed and built out 2 bbPress sites and have similarly become quite proficient at the inner workings of bbPress. I’ve integrated […]

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What I’ve learned, done, and been reminded of professionally in the last three months:

  • I’ve installed and built out 3 WordPress sites and have become quite proficient at the inner workings of WP.
  • I’ve installed and built out 2 bbPress sites and have similarly become quite proficient at the inner workings of bbPress.
  • I’ve integrated 2 bbPress and WordPress sites.
  • I’ve styled 3 WordPress and 2 bbPress sites utilizing CSS, a language I knew NOTHING about three months ago.
  • I’ve learned to leave graphic art up to graphic artists.
  • I’ve learned that Google Chrome needs to develop a tool as useful as Firebug to win over the developer world.
  • I’ve learned how fast Chrome is, and how slow Firefox is becoming.
  • I knew IE6 was shit – nothing new there.
  • I’ve styled (from a comp) a WordPress site and a bbPress site to look like one and the same.
  • I’ve fixed countless WP theme bugs and while I’m not a proficient PHP developer quite yet, I’ve learned to back track to the source of the bug.
  • I’ve learned the only real frustration I have with WordPress is the “open source nature” of plugins and themes and the compatibility issues with upgrades.
  • I’ve learned that the quality code/hours of coding ratio is a factor of 10+X  greater with a team of 2 when compared to a team of 10.
  • I’ve learned that a team of 3, maybe 4 is probably ideal.
  • I’ve been reminded of how much fun it is to build something.
  • I’ve been reminded of how nice it is to not visit an airport every week.
  • I’ve learned that most people aren’t motivated by the end of year bonus, rather a work environment where they are appreciated and can make a difference.
  • I’ve grasped how debilitating chaos, confusion, and lack of leadership can be to a company.  Luckily it’s been from an arms length.
  • I’ve realized how foolish you would be to start a corporate/personal website from scratch – the blogging and CMS tools are evolved – unless you are doing it for job security purposes.
  • I’ve been reminded of how easy it is to come up with great business ideas – and how hard it is to execute.
  • I’ve been reminded that execution wins.

I’ve neglected this site more than I should have over the past few months, partially due to the amount of time I have spent building out other sites.  The good news is that they are approaching public release and I can soon finally start talking about them.  Amidst all of this, my business partner and I have started Praxis, LLC and are working hard on our first application, HouseFly (which will go into private beta in the next 10 days).  More on that later, this post was really just aimed at reminding myself how much I’ve enjoyed the last three months.

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The Seperate but Equal Bowl http://travi.st/2009/12/the-seperate-but-equal-bowl/ http://travi.st/2009/12/the-seperate-but-equal-bowl/#respond Wed, 09 Dec 2009 05:06:50 +0000 http://travi.st/?p=382 Only the BCS could be dumb enough to open their annual bowl selection show by displaying advanced mathematical equations on a chalk board.  We get it, your solution has nothing to do with a football field, but rather uses a bunch of crazy algorithms averaged with human pollsters to determine the best team in the land.  Ari Fleischer, what […]

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BCS Football Math

the Texas Longhorns?

Only the BCS could be dumb enough to open their annual bowl selection show by displaying advanced mathematical equations on a chalk board.  We get it, your solution has nothing to do with a football field, but rather uses a bunch of crazy algorithms averaged with human pollsters to determine the best team in the land.  Ari Fleischer, what ever the BCS is paying you, keep up the good work on the WMD like propaganda – dare I say “a playoff system will never work in college football”!

Back in early November I suggested that the nightmare scenario might hit the BCS if TCU and BSU were to run the table and complete undefeated seasons.  Little did I know the perfect storm would actually be averted by Texas winning the Big XII Championship thanks to 1 second being added back to an expired clock after an officials review (after a very bone headed and lackadaisical decision to run one last play by Brown/McCoy, et al.).  None the less, my two predictions have come true.  The BCS in all their arrogance believe they have the best two teams playing in the championship game, and maybe they do, but tell that to the other three undefeated teams that don’t get a chance to prove it on the field.  Secondly, the BCS has elected to match BSU and TCU up in the Fiesta Bowl (dubbed the separate but equal bowl), robbing these teams and the fans  a chance to measure up against the BCS’s chosen ones.

This was an interesting decision by the BCS, they could have pitted TCU and BSU against the so called powerhouse conferences to show the world how undeserving they are.  But, given the performance of non-AQ conferences in the past, the BCS has learned their lesson and they don’t want to risk both TCU and BSU going undefeated on the year.  So the safe move was to ensure only one other undefeated team, assuming Cincinatti were to lose to Florida, and rest on the fact that since they beat another non-AQ team, the winner of the Texas/Alabama game will be the national champion in everyones eyes.  This is the most chicken sh!t move I’ve seen to date from the BCS.

A good article (and hopefully book to follow) was presented by Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports debunking the absolute crap that the BCS spews out via their propaganda machine regarding the inability of a playoff system to work.  I agree with him that someday this problem will be fixed, because greed and nonsense usually lose out.  I suspect that one of the best bowl games of the year will be BSU and TCU in the Fiesta Bowl.  I also suspect that the BCS will face this very issue again next year when BSU (who lose 1 starter to graduation) and TCU (who lose 6 starters to graduation) return to the field to once again be treated as second class citizens to the BCS conferences – but this time they will not have to climb from #18 and #20 respectively in the pre-season polls to get their just dues.

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November will bring Controversy for BCS and College Football http://travi.st/2009/11/november-marks-controversy-bcs-college-football/ http://travi.st/2009/11/november-marks-controversy-bcs-college-football/#comments Mon, 02 Nov 2009 03:40:42 +0000 http://travi.st/?p=367 Well, it’s about that time of year again, and one month from now I can guarantee these two things will happen. Fans of NCAA college football will feel cheated by the BCS’s cartel like assignment of the teams worthy of playing in “their” bowl games. The BCS will once again claim victory and success in […]

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Well, it’s about that time of year again, and one month from now I can guarantee these two things will happen.

  1. Fans of NCAA college football will feel cheated by the BCS’s cartel like assignment of the teams worthy of playing in “their” bowl games.
  2. The BCS will once again claim victory and success in getting the two best teams into the National Championship game.

History will repeat itself, guaranteed, like it has year after year.  The odds say it will repeat this year, but if not then next.  Rarely has there been a year that the stars aligned for the BCS and they have had a real argument that their system really worked.  And usually that argument is after the fact when undefeated teams that don’t get a chance to play for the championship lose their bowl game.  The BCS should be concerned with getting it right after the games are done in November, not January.

The BCS (Bowl Championship Series) is a coalition, self-appointed coalition mind you, that states the purpose of:

“match[ing] the two top-rated teams in a national championship game and to create exciting and competitive matchups between eight other highly regarded teams in four other games.” – BCSfootball.org

If I read that mission statement without knowing anything about the BCS I would think, ahh, the BCS runs the March Madness equivalent of college football.  Hardly, you must pay closer attention to what the BCS is, note the “highly regarded teams”.  It’s all about money, the haves and have-nots, and by controlling the money in college football keeping it in the desired conferences, you can also control the lack of parity.  One of the keys to college football is recruiting, and don’t think for a second that money (facilities, equipment, staff, tutors, etc.) doesn’t play a huge role.  The problem for the BCS is there have been two flies in their ointment, the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) and the Mountain West Conference (MWC) placing undefeated teams into BCS games (not the national championship) in four of the past five years (winning three of the four games played) and with a month of football left to play they each have undefeated teams that could once again join the party.  The nightmare scenario for the BCS this year is if both TCU and Boise State end the year undefeated and both likely ranked in the top 8 in the BCS polls, we shall see how things unfold.

The BCS has self promoted propaganda that is laughable at best, one argument is that the entire season is a playoff to the National Championship (BCS Doesn’t Need Intervention).  In the past 5 years there have been 4 teams that finished the year undefeated and didn’t get the chance to play for the national championship – don’t tell me the system works.

Excuses can be made why any system doesn’t work, but I find it ironic that NCAA DII and DIII have a very successful playoff system in choosing a national champion.   And yes there is history and tradition of the bowls themselves, but make them part of the solution and let them host the playoffs.  The money isn’t going to dry up and go away if the NCAA moves to a playoff system, the problem is that the cartel would lose control of where that money goes.

It’s time to break the ties between conferences and bowl games, it’s time to end the OPEC like control of college football, it’s time to institute a college football playoff system that allows the argument to be settled on the field.  Greed will eventually kill the BCS, but probably not until after many more years of failure.  The BCS could do what’s right and adopt a system that gives every team the chance to win the National Championship and divide the money fairly.  That’s right, give the George Mason’s of the world the chance to have a dream run to the final four – because in today’s arrangement Cinderella doesn’t even get an invite to the ball.

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I am Enron http://travi.st/2009/10/i-am-enron/ http://travi.st/2009/10/i-am-enron/#comments Tue, 13 Oct 2009 22:54:48 +0000 http://travi.st/?p=351 The man that once stated "I am Enron" is back in the news. The US Supreme Court today announced that they have decided to hear Jeffrey Skillings appeal based on two things, "honest services" and area of venue. Jeffrey Skilling is currently serving a 24 year prison term for his 2006 fraud conviction.

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The man that once stated “I am Enron” is back in the news.  The US Supreme Court today announced that they have decided to hear Jeffrey Skilling’s appeal based on two things, “honest services” and area of venue.  Jeffrey Skilling is currently serving a 24 year prison term for his 2006 fraud conviction.  I am eager to hear why our supreme court has picked this one case to review when there are so many issues out there that they could look at.  I for one am not overly excited to hear that my tax money is going to be spent once again on a guy that ruined tens of thousands of employee’s lives, duked investors out of billions, and already has had considerable tax money spent on him.  My hope is that the $23 million lifetime retainer that Skilling paid his lawyers, money that should have probably been returned to employees and shareholders, was not influential in getting it to this point but it has no doubt helped.

For being Enron, Skilling certainly developed one hell of a case of amnesia in August of 2001 when he seemingly “forgot” everything and anything that might be taking place in the company he helped build – and suddenly stepped away from.  Skilling had joked that the difference between the Titanic and California is that one of them sunk with the lights on.  Jeffrey Skilling captained the ship (the self proclaimed “world’s leading company”) that went from billions in assets to zero in less than a month, but in his case he was the rat that tried to bail early.

If you have an hour and a half to kill someday, and you haven’t seen the documentary “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room” I would highly suggest the history lesson.  There are a couple other great documentaries out there as well, but this one does a very good job of covering the “culture of Enron”.  One of my favorite parts is when Skilling participates in an Enron internal video mocking the mark-to-market accounting technique that he demanded Enron use.  What a sad chapter in America’s history these clowns provided…

The Rise and Fall

The Rise and Fall

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What is Your Pain? http://travi.st/2009/10/what-is-your-pain/ http://travi.st/2009/10/what-is-your-pain/#comments Mon, 05 Oct 2009 05:45:10 +0000 http://travi.st/?p=291 Being your own target market, or solving your own pains, is a good way for an entrepreneur to come up with good business ideas.

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What is Your Pain

What is Your Pain

Being an entrepreneur we sometimes get wrapped up in solving what we perceive to be problems that others have.  Sometimes this works, however many times entrepreneurs either don’t fully understand the problem, don’t have the domain knowledge to effectively solve the problem, or they have incorrectly identified  something as an issue that really was not.

I have talked before about the goal of an entrepreneur is getting someone to open their wallet and take out a hard earned dollar bill in exchange for a product or service.  Obviously, most people will not hand over a dollar bill unless you can provide something of value to them.  Paraphrasing a great B-School lecturer that I greatly respect:

You have to first identify someone’s pain, you then have to validate that others have the same pain, finally you go about fixing the pain in exchange for that proverbial dollar bill. – John Doggett

Adam McFarland writes one of the better blogs I’ve seen covering many practical entrepreneurial subjects, sharing real life issues and examples that he deals with in his company.  He recently wrote a great post about being your own target market.  I couldn’t agree more with this approach for an entrepreneur.  Ask yourself what some of your daily pains are, and focus on the business of fixing them.  In addition to what Adam covers, below are a few of my thoughts on the many benefits of this approach:

  • Most importantly, you have first hand knowledge about the issue,
  • If you are a “common Joe”, there is a very good chance that the other common Joe’s around the world have the same issue,
  • Because you understand the problem so well, you know what a good solution looks like
  • You know the common characteristics or interests of the other common Joe’s with the same pain, and how to reach them,
    • This is beneficial in that you can discuss the pain and possible solutions with others like you,
    • Once you have a solution or product you probably have a good idea as how to reach your market.
  • As Adam suggests, because you know the pain you are a good candidate to test the functionality and quality of the solution,
  • Finally, because you too have the pain, you know what you would be willing (or not willing) to pay for a solution to that problem.

So, once again, what is your pain?  I’ve spent the last few days thinking about a few of mine, stay tuned.

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Google Desecrates Microsoft, Sort of… http://travi.st/2009/09/google-desecrates-microsoft-sort-of/ http://travi.st/2009/09/google-desecrates-microsoft-sort-of/#comments Thu, 24 Sep 2009 05:20:36 +0000 http://travi.st/?p=253 Anyone that has spent any time at all doing web based development knows the pains caused by Microsoft Internet Explorer, specifically Internet Explorer 6 (IE6).  We live in a world today where the pace of technology is unbelievable.  It is estimated that Twitter.com had nearly 25 million world wide unique visitors in August 2009, not […]

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Anyone that has spent any time at all doing web based development knows the pains caused by Microsoft Internet Explorer, specifically Internet Explorer 6 (IE6).  We live in a world today where the pace of technology is unbelievable.  It is estimated that Twitter.com had nearly 25 million world wide unique visitors in August 2009, not bad for a company formed in 2006.  Facebook has over 300 million active users, and it was developed in the spring of 2004.  That is a lot of web traffic, in fact Facebook estimates 6 billion minutes of traffic to their website alone per day.  And per Google Analytics, my websites get about 15-18% of their daily traffic via IE6, I’ve read and suspect this number to be a little low with the actual closer to 20-25% market share – as my user base doesn’t seem to be corporate based.

In my former life as a VP of software development for a development/consulting company, we estimated that we had to carry 25%-30% extra developers, because of IE6.  That means out of every 1o developers we had, 25%-30% of those man hours went into “dealing with” IE6.  We had a number of screens that we replicated in our applications, one screen utilized by IE6 and the other version utilized by the rest of the browsers.  Granted, the company was 100% focused on large enterprise customers as the user base, which has been slow to adopt IE7 and IE8 as their corporate browser of choice.

For those not familiar with software development, the vast majority of developers develop software using the Firefox browser.  The browser has a number of developer tools (mainly 3rd party add-ons) that substantially increase the productivity of the developer.  And by now you’ve probably deduced that not all browsers are equal. IE6 has a lot of known bugs that were just never fixed by Microsoft and it just wasn’t built to utilize many of today’s technology like off-line capability, CSS/Layouts, and a good JavaScript engine.  So, over time, developers hacked their way around IE6 (and to some degree IE7 & IE8) as it couldn’t be ignored even though it should have been put to bed.

Did you know?

IE6 was released in August 2001, here are a few major events that have taken place since then:

  • 9/11 happened two weeks after the release of IE6
  • Terminator 2: Judgement Day was the top grossing movie of the year
  • Life House – Hanging by a Moment was the top song of 2001
  • Enron scandal starts to unfold
  • 13 months later Firefox 0.1 released (most importantly they are now at version 3.5.3)
  • I’m 8 years older than I used to be

Introducing a smack down, corporate America style.  Google has release a beta version of Google Chrome Frame, an application that has to be installed on the computer.  But what it does, via a single meta-tag in the code, is serve up the application inside of IE6, IE7, or IE8 utilizing Google’s Chrome engine.  So in essence, Google has made Microsoft’s browsers work.

I gave it a quick test drive and it seems to work quite well, granted it wasn’t thorough testing.  The image below is an image of my Wyoming Road Trip site in native IE6 with all of the IE6 “hacks” removed.  What you can’t tell is that I’m attempting to mouse over the CSS driven menu bar.

Native IE6 Mouse Over CSS Driven Menu Bar

Native IE6 Mouse Over CSS Driven Menu Bar

You may have to click on the images to see them full size to see the quality differences.  Notice the quality of the images in native IE6, the blue “shading” or whatever it is above the menu bar, and the twitter image without legs.

Now lets look at the same image also in IE6, running Google’s Chrome Frame.

IE6 Using Google Chrome Frame

IE6 Using Google Chrome Frame

Notice a few things, the first is that the IE logo on the top left corner of the screen is replaced by Chrome’s logo – very nice touch.  Also notice how much more crisp the images look, no more blue “shading” above the menu bar, the menu bar actually works when you mouse over it, and the twitter bird has legs!

I can’t even begin to express how cool this is, and the impact it COULD have.  I fear however, that it will not have the impact that one would hope for.  The only reason that IE6 has even 1% market share let alone the 20+% it does have, is once again, because many enterprises have not moved to IE7 or IE8 for various reasons.  They usually state security and training issues, I call BS on both of those excuses.  But the problem is that there are still a lot of enterprise users that don’t have access on their desktop or laptop to install software – hell if they could they would be running IE8, Chrome, or Firefox in the first place.  So while Google has successfully slapped Microsoft in the face, will the adoption of this frame really make a substantial difference, or just be another distraction for developers to worry about?  I hope the former, what do you think?

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The Incentive Behind Pricing http://travi.st/2009/09/the-incentive-behind-pricing/ http://travi.st/2009/09/the-incentive-behind-pricing/#comments Thu, 17 Sep 2009 18:08:51 +0000 http://travi.st/?p=181 I recently wrote an article about pricing, markups, and margins and thought I could go a little further in depth on the importance of the topic – in a little less technical fashion.  I can’t count the number of times as a child growing up I came up with an idea for a product.  Growing […]

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I recently wrote an article about pricing, markups, and margins and thought I could go a little further in depth on the importance of the topic – in a little less technical fashion.  I can’t count the number of times as a child growing up I came up with an idea for a product.  Growing up through a number of Wyoming winters I hated the fact that you had to scrape ice off your windshield and that your windshield wipers got frozen to the windshield, it just didn’t seem like that hard of a problem to fix.

I assumed that if my product could sell it for X and I could build it for Y, and X > Y, then I had it made.  At the time I didn’t give the first thought to distribution and sales, I guess I figured that would take care of itself.  It was also prior to public availability to the internet which changes the discussion, but for now we will live in the brick and mortar world.

Let’s say that you are an entreprenuer and you have developed a “better mousetrap” that you want to sell on the shelf of hardware stores across the nation.  You are able to manufacture and produce the product, but you don’t have the ability to get it in stores across the country.  So, you take your product to a wholesaler and ask them to distribute (or carry) your product.  Sounds like a great idea, what price are you going to sell it at?

Now let me ask a couple questions:

  1. Presuming the wholesaler agrees to carry the product why would she be more inclined to sell your better mouse trap over the standard trap?
  2. When she does sell it to the retailer (hardware stores) what is to get the store manager to place your product on the top shelf near the front of the store as opposed to the dusty bottom shelf in the back of the store?
Incentive

Incentive

The answer to these questions is INCENTIVE, and in the retail world incentive is a close relative to margin.  What’s In It For Me…

The liquor industry is probably one of the more prominent industries, or the one that drives the expressions around pricing.  You’ve heard of “Top Shelf Liquor” and “Well Liquor”.  One product sits behind the bar on the top shelf in a shiny bottle for the world to see and purchase, the other product sits underneath the bar hidden away.  Similarly in the liquor store, look at the brands that sit on the top shelf versus the bottom shelf.  Additionaly look that the store displays that you see when you walk in enticing you to purchase, are they ever for the bottom shelf product?  The price, and in most cases the distributor/retailer margin vary substantially for the two different products (just because it’s a higher price doesn’t necesserily mean its a higher margin but most likely).  I’ll avoid a thorough discussion on product placement other than to say that one of the underlying themes is to place your higher margin and higher volume items in the front of the store near the cash register – as almost everyone walks by that area.

So, back to your mousetrap.  You now understand that you want your mousetrap near the front of the store on the top shelf, and you would like your wholesaler from time to time promoting your product with store displays, right?  Hopefully you answered yes, thus you must price your product accordingly so that there is incentive (margin) for your wholesaler and retailers.  Now that isn’t always easy, as there is probably a sweet spot that the product must retail at to maximize revenue, additionaly you must consider where your competition is priced at.  In Pricing, Markups, Margins and Mass Confusion I talk about how to work backwards from retail price to get to retail markup, wholesale markup, to eventually your markup.  Go in and talk to some retailers and find out what their average margin is for your competitors product and likewise do the same with the wholesaler.  It then becomes a business decisions to see if you can give them a little larger slice of the pie (and how much of a slice does it take to make a difference) to help move your product.

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