Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Digital Dad takes on video calling

Digital Dad highlights a common problem faced with Apple users: How can I have a useful video call from Mac to Windows?

Is this mouse pad for Windows or Mac?

Many Mac users run iChat, which works fine for text messaging to Windows, but video calling is a whole other issue. His solution is to use SightSpeed (thanks for the plug). Shameless self-promotion aside, his dilemma highlights a real issue: How can we make all of this easier?

When I ask a dad - digital or otherwise - if they would like to see their children every time they talk to them, the answer is always an emphatic "YES!". So why isn't every dad having video calls every day? Simplicity, or more precisely, the lack thereof.

Andreas Kluth from the Economist has become the recognized voice of reason on this subject. While many technology reviewers are gushing over the next wave of speeds and features, Andreas focuses on simplicity. For a new technology to be widely adopted, Andreas posits that it must not only deliver the needed functionality, but is must also be "Mom Simple".

So what does this mean for those of us "in the business"? It means we have to continue to make our fancy technology easy to use. I can wow the best engineers around with SightSpeed's performance numbers, but at the end of the day, dad wants to see the kids laugh, and grandma wants to see the baby smile. To make that a daily reality for millions of people, the technology must be simple to use. Or in this case, "dad simple".

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Watch Me Laugh at Your Video Mail

Fellow entrepreneurs Megan and Serge recently came to Berkeley for a visit. They have become big fans of SightSpeed, and have come up with a curious new use.

Megan, is this a funny face?

It began when Megan's brothers Jeremy, Jeff, and Adam, started to create and send out funny video mails, and then immediately call Megan via SightSpeed so that they can watch her reaction as she viewed the video mails. They were laughing themselves silly. Now Megan and Serge are teaming up to create their own comedic routines, and it has become a contest to see who can come up with the funniest video mail. May the best SightSpeeder win!

Monday, April 18, 2005

The Enlightenment of the Video Resume

SightSpeed recently posted a series of job openings on Craig's List. The more clever applicants submitted video mail testimonials along with their resumes. The best ones focused on what made them unique as a person. This made a tremendous impact on me. First, I was obviously impressed that they had taken the extra effort to use SightSpeed to create and send a video mail. But more importantly, I felt like I got a much better understanding of who they were as a person. Their paper resume stated what they had done; their video resume showed me who they were.

With all of the noise in the job search arena, the video resume is a new way to identify the great candidates. I anticipate the best candidates will continue to use tools like video mail to highlight their personal strengths.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

No bad tie goes un-noticed

In the monthly SightSpeed Newsletter, I write a short greeting that includes a picture of me taken from my webcam in my office. The intention is to have a friendly graphic to accompany the introduction. I receive more comments about that photo than any other part of the newsletter.

Was it the bad ties that killed the plant?

Some of the more clever comments:
"Lose the glamour shot with the ties draped over the plumbing"
"How about watering that plant? It's not going to make it to next month"
"For next month's newsletter, comb your hair first"
"You look like you have a spike coming out of your head"

Peter Jennings once said "No matter how good or bad a job I do covering a story, I always seem to get the most comments when I wear a bad tie". So true Peter, so true.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

You Were Admitted!

On the eve of my return to my alma mater, I was pleased to learn that the Johnson School at Cornell University used SightSpeed Video Mail to let student's know they had been admitted! Not only do you hear the news you have waited so long for, but you get to see and meet Associate Dean Cathy Dove for the first time:

Dean Dove Tells the Good News

I remember how excited I was to hear the news. To hear that you were admitted from a smiling Dean Dove is all the better.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Who says technology analysts aren't funny?

Wainhouse has the most respected independent research analysts in our industry. Each week, they publish an informative and well written newsletter about the state of rich media communications. I never miss an issue. Today, they decided to play a prank on their loyal readers by scaring us with the April 1 newsletter. Among the inside jokes that only techy industry nerds like me would laugh at, they heap praise onto the latest invention out of China from Nuawei Telekom (say it out loud to get the joke):

The latest in communications? Yes way!

The last time we had analysts this funny was when Enron had a "Buy" rating. Thanks guys!