I spent a long weekend visiting my family and it was an interesting experience to see how people manage to live without internet access. Neither of my parents are technologicaly inclined and it was a sweet reminder of just how many chores are solved almost in their entirety using the internet. For instance, I can’t see how people can live without internet banking and whats more, banks are charging ridiculous fees. $3 to make a deposit? And I had to come all the way down here. I’ve never had to write a cheque before, because bank transfer is quicker and easier.
Part of my long weekend involved two 6-hour bus trips. Thankfully I had picked up an MP3 player before setting out on my journey and loaded it with a couple of shows from dotNetRocks It’s only a cheap 1GB flash memory thing so I also put half a dozen music cds on it.
I really like the fact that it just plugs in to a usb port and you can copy files over just like a standard USB drive. Even though its a cheap thing there are two fundamental flaws with it. A) It has no clip to attach it to my clothes, which means I have to put it in my pocket. But the headphones that come with the unit are not very long, which means I can’t put the unit in my jeans pocket without pulling the cord tight. If it where made another 6″ longer, or included a clip to attach it to my clothes it would be much better. B) Theres no shuffle function** which is not such a big deal for me as I like listening to albums in order, but I’m sure its a turn off for some, and I doubt this feature would be very hard to program.
So two very minor things that wouldn’t cost very much money at all would make the unit a heck of alot better. But hey, I only paid $40 US for it, maybe I’ll upgrade to an iPod or Creative Zen at some stage but for now I’ll just keep my cheap unit – And buy some longer headphones.
Because of the bus trips I managed to get some reading done. I read two books, both of which I’ll recommend. Freakonomics which proved both interesting and entertaining. Topics were varied but mostly revolved around cheating and/or maximising incentives. An easily accessible book, much has been commented about it in other blogs, or amazon reviews. Particularly concerning the legalised abortion/low crime rate co-relation. I’m just here to say its a good book.
If you are thinking of offering some kind of digital or aggregate service (web 2.0 anyone?) Do yourself a favor and pick up this book. Most of the case studies are from the Amazon business model, or from online music services but there are a whole number of other areas where the long tail appears, infact it’s almost everywhere. As we become more and more niche in our interests and as the ability to find what we want becomes more ubiquitous, more opportunities start to present themselves outside of the so called mainstream (Also refered to by some as the “lowest common denominator”)
** EDIT : Looks like there is a shuffle function, but it was embedded deep within a whole bunch of menus – If you can’t find something in 2 minutes and its not in the manual then as far as I’m concerned it doesn’t exist.