Monthly Archives: December 2008

Dear Santa

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I know it’s a little late to send a wish list for Christmas, but I thought it’s worth a try.

Zink / Polaroid PoGo

Zink / Polaroid PoGo

1) Zink / Polaroid PoGo Instant Mobile Printer – Zink stands for “Zero Ink”; it’s the technology behind the cool Polaroid PoGo mobile printer.  The printer can plug directly into your digital camera and prints borderless, 2″x3″ color prints in under a minute.  This pocket-size printer uses Zink paper which contains embedded dye crystals and allows the printer to work using heat rather than ink.  Available on Amazon for $99.99.

2) Starbucks Gold Card – For people who really love Starbucks.  For an annual fee of $25, you receive 10% off Starbucks purchases, a free drink when joining (and on your birthday), and free Wi-Fi access for up to 2 hours each day in the store. 

Sennheiser MX W1

Sennheiser MX W1

3) Sennheiser MX W1 Wireless Earbuds – Completely wireless stereo sound in a sleek earbud design.  They will transmit 3-4 hours on a single charge, but can be charged using the docking station up to 3 times remotely.  Get ready for some sticker shock – $499.95

4) Flip MinoHD Camcorder – At 3.3 ounces, this is the world’s smallest HD camcorder (this week).  It has a built-in USB arm so it can plug directly into your computer.  Small enough to take just about anywhere, you can now have web-ready video – in HD, no less! – in minutes.  This model holds up to 60 minutes on 4Gb built-in memory – no tape or additional memory cards needed.

5) Wii Fit GAMES – OK, no link to this one.  Yes, I already have one of the hottest toys of the season

Flip MinoHD

Flip MinoHD

– the Wii Fit Balance Board.  Now, can we have some additional games to go with it?  There are two, that I can find, on the market today – Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum (which is getting horrible reviews on Amazon) and Yourself Fitness (which doesn’t use the Fit Balance Board).  Unfortunately, the game that comes with Wii Fit leaves much to be desired.  C’mon, Santa – get your elves to program some more games!

6) LiveScribe – An awesome smartpen which is compatible with both Mac and Windows.  This pen transcribes your handwriting to text, search your text for notes, transform your notes into Flash movies and share online.  It reminds me of the LeapFrog FLY pen, which I bought for my 12-year old step-daughter last year and is still in a box upstairs.  I think I was way more interested in it than she was.  2Gb LiveScribe Pulse Pen for $199.95 on Amazon.

7) Apple MacBook Air – Yes, my MacBook is just a year-old today.  Unfortunately the MacBook Air was introduced just weeks after I received mine last year.  The MacBook Air is the ultrathin laptop that is only 3 lbs., but still has a  13.3-inch widescreen LED-backlit display. Ahhh…be still my beating heart.  Starting at $1,799 at Apple Stores.

Thanks to Brian Solis and Last Gadget Standing for the ideas!

The Car Czar

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So, much to the dismay of many taxpayers, the auto industry is close to receiving a government bailout of $15 billion.  The administration will appoint a Car Czar to oversee the distribution of funds and enforcement of policies associated with the bailout.  Among these conditions are limits on executive compensation, a restriction on paying shareholder dividends and requirements that the government share in future profits so that taxpayers are repaid before any investors.  According to the AP on Yahoo!, the bailout also requires that automakers get rid of their corporate jets.

The Car Czar will oversee a “restructuring” of the auto industry.  I think that the Czar should start with the auto industry go-to-market.  I’m not going to get into the import vs. domestic car issue and the fact that our US automakers were so sure of their power in the 70’s and 80’s that they hired fractions of the engineers that the overseas automakers did.  What I’m talking about is the overall buying experience for automobiles. 

There are books, blogs and magazine articles written to help you negotiate the best deal on a car.  There are financing deals, employee pricing, trade-in allowances, blue book pricing, MSRP equations, dealer pricing, “no haggle” deals, red tag sales…the list goes on.  In fact, in Dallas, there is a law firm advertising that they will review your dealer’s contract before you sign.  Really?!  Is all of this needed?  Of course it is!  When the US automakers claim to lose money on each car sold, then of course they need to confuse the buyers in hopes to recover some profit. 

As recent as September, GM’s COO, Fritz Henderson said that GM expects to lose money on the new Chevy Volt for years.  “We won’t make a dime on this car for years, and the board is OK with that,” Vice Chairman, Bob Lutz, said in March. Uh…is that OK now that we are giving you the money to survive?

I think this is the turning point for the auto industry.  Is it necessary to have thousands of dealers across the country with lots full of cars?  Throughout Europe you see showrooms where cars can be ordered.  Are Americans so obsessed with immediate satisfaction that we have to drive the car off the lot the day we make that decision?  It seems to me that the auto manufacturers tend to flood the market with product that effectively “sits on the shelf” for months.  Why can’t we have regional distribution points to deliver cars as needed? 

So, the automakers that keep producing  when sales are declining.  Supply outweighs demand and then the fire sales begin.  Not to mention, the loss-leaders that dealers sell in order to get manufacturers incentives.

If I’m ordering the car – the exact make, model, color and features I want – and there is a set price for that – no haggling, bargaining or negotiating – wouldn’t I tend to pay more for that experience?  Isn’t it time to rethink the way we purchase our cars?