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Prime Now

I love technology. I’ve been designing and building software for over 17 years, which is crazy to think about. That feels like a lifetime, which is kind of true in the technology space. Mostly I build software for existing organizations to be a little better than they already are. “How can we do what we do a little better than we currently do it?” That’s where I come in. I see companies like Amazon who are pushing boundaries. AWS was built out of an internal need, now it’s a $7B+ a year business for Amazon. They are solving really interesting problems(?) for the everyday person. 

Last week they announced that Amazon Prime Now is available in the Twin Cities. I hate shopping for almost anything. They now offer same day delivery in the Twin Cities for a fairly large number of items. We forgot to buy a few items yesterday at the grocery store, so I thought I’d try it out today. It worked as you would hope. Place an order for a few items that total more than $20 dollars and, boom, it was at my door just a couple hours later. I’m not sure how often I’ll use it, but it worked as expected. Technology is changing the way we do a lot of daily tasks and this is a great example of how a new service could change the game. Maybe drones aren’t the future or maybe they are, but I hope they keep pushing the boundaries. 

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I had an economics professor who once said, “Statistics are like a bikini — what they show is titillating , what they hide is essential.” 73% of all statistics are made up on the spot. I hope you get that joke.
I’m not sure if sports would be nearly as interesting if we didn’t keep stats. Take the Aaron Rogers TDs without an interception statistic that EVERYONE is talking about. He has thrown 43 consecutive touchdowns without an interception ………. at home. There’s a couple games in the mix where he didn’t throw a touchdown. There’s also 4 games where he was injured. Also, how meaningful would that stat be if he threw 43 inceptions during that period in their away games? That’s not the case, but it’s not factored in. It’s the classic show the titillating stat, but hide other essential details.
You can bet the Rams will be doing everything they can to change that statistic this weekend.
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I love the innovative services coming out of the AWS teams. Snowball is a new addition to an old service. 

Snowball is designed for customers that need to move lots of data (generally 10 terabytes or more) to AWS on a one-time or recurring basis. You simply request one or more from the AWS Management Console and wait a few days for the appliance to be delivered to your site. If you want to import a lot of data, you can order one or more Snowball appliances and run them in parallel.

As someone who has used AWS extensively in the past and took advantage of the Inport/Export service, Snowball is a huge step in making it easier for companies to migrate their data.  Amazon does a great job describing what it was like to migrate large amounts of data in the past. 

The original AWS Import/Export model was built around devices that you had to specify, purchase, maintain, format, package, ship, and track. While many AWS customers have used (and continue to use) this model, some challenges remain. For example, it does not make sense for you to buy multiple expensive devices as part of a one-time migration to AWS. In addition to data encryption requirements and device durability issues, creating the requisite manifest files for each device and each shipment adds additional overhead and leaves room for human error.

When I did this in the past, there felt like a lot of faith in the whole process. It worked, but with all the variables, a failure at any stage in the process would mean starting all over. Snowball is a great solution. 

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Challenging Convention

My wife and I just got back from 3 weeks in Europe. One of my favorite things about travel is how it challenges what I believe to be a general convention. Travel gives you a view into how people in different places think or act differently. 

What I see everyday in the US, it looks like every person is using either an iPhone or an android smart phone. Based on experience it would be easy to say most people in the world would be the same. That means everyone has access to an app ecosystem or a browser and a large screen to view web sites. If that how it is here, why would it be different in Europe? We are very similar in many ways and globalization has brought us much closer together.

In fact in Hungary, most people I saw (non-travelers) were using classic cell phones. Just a number pad, with a screen only slightly larger than a regular cell phone. Browser? Not a great one, if they have one at all. iPhones were almost non-existent. I’m sure income levels have a lot to do with it. If you only make €7,000 a year, spending nearly €700 on a phone isn’t very practical. 

The US is a huge commercial market and you definitely want to focus energy on it, but when we’re building products or web sites, it’s important to remember that there is still a large portion of the world population using much more basic devices. It’s really easy to forget. 

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I need to lose weight and get in shape. I need to spend less and save more. I need to walk my dog everyday (that’s good for both of us). I need to leave work at work and be present at home. I need to spend more time with the people who elevate me. I want to learn how to play the guitar that my brother gave to me for Christmas 10 years ago. 

I’ve never been one who sets goals and strives to achieve them. I feel like I float through life most of the time. Fortunately it’s worked out pretty well for me so far, but there are definitely areas of my life that I wish were different. So, I’m going to try. 

For instance, I’ve resurrected this blog, which to be honest, never really had life. And I’m going to post something everyday. I missed yesterday, so I’m posting twice today. Thanks for reading. 

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The Broker Economy

Frequently you hear services like Über and Airbnb referred to as being part of the sharing economy. Sharing is generally free and not monetizable. We are in the middle of a Broker Economy boom. Über and Airbnb are brokers who bring suppliers and customers together through a simple interface. 

Their killer feature isn’t connecting people either, it’s seamlessly processing the transaction with next to no friction. I love that I can load my credit card into the app and trust that they will charge me when I receive the value of the transaction. No cash needed and my payment information is completely unknown to the supplier. 

Contrast that with the average taxi ride in Minneapolis. If I want to pay with credit card, more often than not, the driver will pull out a machine that makes a carbon copy of my card. Now the driver has a copy of my credit card numbers and who knows what might happen to them from that point forward.

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The Basic Equation

It’s the job of marketers and product makers to take the most basic of equations and turn it into something worth billions of dollars. Two products where this is most prevalent are wealth building and weight loss. In reality, these equations couldn’t be more simple:

X – Y = Z

In weight loss, this equation is:

Calories In – Calories Out = Calorie Gain

The wealth building equation is:

Income – Spending = Saving

You might think this is an over-simplification, but starting out simple is what makes goals achievable.  A great start at losing weight is to burn more calories than you consumer. If you want to build wealth, spend less money than you earn.

If you take weight loss in it’s simplest form, this requires little effort and little cost. You can swing this rational in your favor for zero cost. You can stop eating too much. You can add a couple miles of walking to your day. You can do both for accelerated results. People who try to sell solutions to this problem begin to complicate the process. It is in their interest for weight loss to feel complicated and insurmountable. Give us money and we’ll solve it for you. 

Wealth building is the same. If you spend less than you make, you can build your wealth. You do this by controlling your spending or find ways to make more money. The wealthy rarely have one source of income. Trying to beat the stock market or jump in on the latest IPO is a fools game. The pros don’t even do it well. Keep it simple and look to the long term. Getting rich quick takes time. 

By the way, this is the way I want to live, not necessarily the way I live. This post is to remind me that it can be simple. 

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