Traitor Joe's

Trader Joe’s cares less about Corona

Nope. Trader Joe’s does not care if you or its staff get’s Corona.

How do I know? While lines at Trader joe’s are around the block, “for your safety” Trader Joe’s has:

  • Decreased it’s hours, making lines (and the transmission risk) longer
  • Refused to allow Instacart delivery or curbside pickup.
  • Finally required their staff to wear masks, but without training them how to use them or even requiring that they be worn properly

Then on Trader Joe’s Podcast, VP Matt Sloan, had the gall to say they won’t do delivery because it takes years to develop? Nope. It takes minutes for to call Instacart and give the OK.

Look, I get it. Trader Joe’s has built its brand around having friendly staff with a plucky attitude. They tried delivery a few years ago and they found it distanced the customer from that culture and resulted in reduced sales.

That was then, this is now. If Trader Joe’s insists on long lines at it’s stores, knowing full well that increases the risk of Corona transmission, then they will lose customers and brand trust.

If Trader Joe’s wants to keep customer in the new reality of Corona, they need to allow delivery, increase hours and train the staff on the right way to keep themselves and the customers safe.

Oh, and Matt, you may want to remember that the best way to lose customers trust is to lie to them.

Dad lives on in me..

Dad died yesterday, releasing him from his pain. It had been coming for a long time. The thing about the long goodbye as your loved one slowly slips away over years is that you think you have already grieved and shed all of your tears… and then when it happens you realize that it really has just begun.

My Dad was mischievous. He was older than most Dad’s, born in the great depression, the middle child joker in a sea of siblings. At 17 he enlisted and went to Germany to rebuild after WWII and served through Korea and the beginning of Vietnam. He retired after 20 years with a pension and a broken back. Then when I was 5, he met and married my mom, adopting me and giving me his name.

It took me a long time to adjust and understand him. He wasn’t perfect. A man of his time, he believed in family and service, but was always a bit of a rogue. He was much deeper than the his shell of jabs and jokes let on. He suffered his own demons and from the deterioration of MS that had broken his back and kept him in chronic pain. He self medicated with alcohol and spent too much time at the VFW drinking and playing cards.

He didn’t have all the answers, but taught me philosophy, and the art of verbal fisticuffs. Dad gave what he could to my sister, mom and myself. I am who I am because of him and I miss him. For years now MS, diabetes, dementia and pain medicine have robbed him of his health and memory, but even to the end he was still Dad. I see more of him in myself than I admit.. Dad lives in me..

Apple + Beats – It’s Demographics..

On the surface Apple buying Beats Audio for 3.2 billion looks insane.  In this case I think Apple is crazy like a fox.

Beats audio on the surface looks woefully overpriced.. like their products.

The overall market for Premium headphones is about $1 billion and Beats does have a large chunk of that, but consumers are fickle.  Beats also has a premium streaming app that is doing well since its January launch, but it too early to tell.

Why is Apple so interested?  Simple demographics.  Apple skews towards affluent consumers.  Apple has a great market and an aspirational one. Unfortunately it is NOT an urban brand and is now losing/lost traction with teens and young adults.

Continue reading Apple + Beats – It’s Demographics..

What we need to Unlearn…

“Education consists mainly of what we have unlearned.” – Mark Twain

I was reading an article on college admissions recently that reminded me of another great quote.

“When I was a teenager I knew everything. After many years of education and life I have learned that I knew nothing.”

A good college is one that challenges your perception of the world. A place where the rug is pulled out from under you and you have to scramble to find a footing that is secure.

It is a shame that we don’t continue to have the same ideals in lower education. We have lost our understanding of what education is.

I salute those who help people to unlearn!

A Syrian Solution

International politics is not a game for the faint of heart. The many machinations of the pawns on the chessboard is enough to keep you up at night wondering who is really playing who.

In a way the biggest problem is that this is all being played as a zero-sum game.  If one side wins the other must be losing.  In this winner keeps all scenario each country is playing for their goals without concern for the greater good.  Any concession is an admission of defeat.

Continue reading A Syrian Solution

Ocean Cleanup Array is stupid!

Ocean-Clean-up-array

Stiv Wilson, policy director for 5Gyres,org which is dedicated to cleaning up the ocean,  recently posted an article pointing out that the proposed Ocean Cleanup Array is not only a pipe dream, but distracts the public from the real solution.

Digested version… any robot/automation we design to clean plastic out of the oceans will not only be prohibitively expensive.. it will also never work. Not only is it extremely difficult to get anything to work in the ocean (corrosion, storms, etc.) there is no way to collect the plastic without killing off most of the plankton.. on which most sea life depends.

Luckily the ocean deposits about 10 percent of the plastic on beaches each year. If we reduce the plastic waste that makes it to the ocean by 90% then in 10 years the ocean will also be 90% cleaner.

The solution is not to clean up the mess, it is to prevent it.

Read the Stiv’s article HERE.

Network Testing Toolbox

Many times  our  Q/A staff is tasked by well meaning managers with the task of testing some new website, plugin, game or other network enabled application with zero training, tools or even a basic understanding of the scope of what they need to test.

Any network enabled application can run into a number of issues that it will need to work with or fail gracefully from. Without adequate testing the company will at the least loose some of its reputation, and at most go out of business.

A short list of of common network errors include, but are not limited to:

  1. Server Failure
  2. Packet Loss
  3. Slow Connection
  4. No Connection
  5. Bad or corrupt data

To test these scenarios required dedicated hardware in the past, but today almost any PC or Mac can detect and simulate most network conditions through simple to use tools. To  get a team  started I have assembled the simple networking toolbox bellow..

Continue reading Network Testing Toolbox

Sugar is a Poison!

Yes, that is right Sugar is Toxic.  I happened upon this little fact about a year ago when someone shared a video from a Dr. Lustig entitled “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” that literally changed my life.

Dr. Lustig’s video is a bit technical so I will summarize it here. Dr. Lustig and a microbiologist found that Sugar (Fructose) is processed in the Liver in almost exactly the same way as Alcohol. As a result, its consumption has almost the same long term health consequences/risks.

Some of the health problems/risks are the very same chronic deseases that are increasing the cost of medical care for everyone including:

Nifty right?  It get better.  Sugar is also addictive.  Just as you can be an Alcoholic, most Americans are now Sugaroholics. That is because sugar:

  • Stimulates that same pleasure centers in the brain as opium
  • Sugar makes you hungry

So sugar feels good and makes you hungry for.. more sugar.
Continue reading Sugar is a Poison!

Wizards of Kid at Toy Fair 2011

ShadyLogic will be presenting the Wizards of Kid (The Alchemy of transforming Kid´s Movies, TV and Toys into Online Worlds at Engage at the Toy Fair 2011.

It has been a busy year, and we have had a lot of fun helping Activision design and develop a web world that is integral to the Skylanders hybrid Toy and Video Game launch.  Skylanders will mark a lot of firsts as a hybrid product and it will be quite an impact when we hit the market.

As a little excerpt from the Wizards of Kid panel:

Toy Fair 2011

Kid’s IP has exploded into online worlds and the convergence is transforming kids products and entertainment. Extending a Kid’s IP from screen or toy to online worlds takes a lot of insight a fair bit of magic. We bring together a eclectic group of the top wizards from Disney, Mattel, Hasbro, National Geographic and Cartoon Network to show us how they weave new worlds with existing IP. This panel of creative executives with deep background in production, technology, creative and online branding explore the process and challenges of bringing kids brands online.

We have great panel and it should be a lot of fun.

Contact us if you would like to chat at Toy Fair!

Should FTC file Facebook Antitrust?

facebook-opolyAt almost 500 million active users and half of all internet users worldwide, Facebook is a “natural monopoly”.  It comprises over 75% of the internet users in the US.  If you are making social applications or games Facebook is effectively the only  game in town.

I am a big fan of Facebook and we are developing games for the platform.  While many  ruminate over the implications of Facebook’s privacy changes I am much more concerned by the implications of other policy changes towards businesses.

Some of my compatriots might worry about the reorganization of notifications and requests, but the elephant in the room is Facebook’s Credits.  Credits are an initiative to take control of the monetization of all apps on the platform by taking a Apple-sized bite of 30% of every transaction. This will effectively erase any profit for many companies.

Continue reading Should FTC file Facebook Antitrust?

A Checklist for Kids Virtual Worlds

In February I  was honored to be part of a Panel on Virtual World development at Engage 2010 at the NY Toy Fair.

In “The Tactical Perspective:  A Best Practices Checklist” we discussed the process of migrating brands online, including a typical product development roadmap and timeline.  At a high level we covered the different phases of production as well as engaging an audience, building a brand, operations,  moderation and driving ROI.

Engage Expo was great to work with and has generously shared the recordings of the session:

Should Designers Script?

At last years LOGIN conference Peter asked me to do a debate.  Knowing that I was bit outspoken in my views on technology and game design he pitted me against Isaac Barry of Gamehouse.  Our topic… “Should game designers be allowed to write code in a  scripting language”.

Watch the video if you want to get into the debate.  It is a bit slow initially.  I was a bit evil and switched the tables on Isaac in the opening statements by framing the debate around MMO’s and then conceding his main points around casual games.  Issac recovered about halfway for some fun points.

Or you can read more….

Continue reading Should Designers Script?

Why not C Sharp?

Microsoft-Dot-Net-Old-Logo2The choice of which technology and language a project is built on can be divisive. We wed ourselves to the tools we know best and identify with the solutions we employ.   While there are zelots in the PC vs Mac debates, the hotter arguments in tech circles frequently revolve around what technology will mean success.

One debate that comes up in game development is the use of any language other than C/C++.  The C/C++ languages have been almost the exclusive language for game engines since its beginning.   While developers my also adopt scripting languages (many times to offload work to less technical game designers) the core that makes the engine do its magic is in C/C++.

With the advent of new technologies does this still make sense? Continue reading Why not C Sharp?

Catching The Next Wave

The Wave

A while back (March 2008) I wrote an article for Game Developer Magazine on what was coming up in gaming.

Most of these predictions came true, but that is not remarkable considering that we were only looking a couple years ahead.  What I find more interesting is that things have not moved faster.  After all the vacuum isn’t going anywhere.

Catching the Next Wave.

If we take a look at the Petri-dish we call the Internet we notice something, it evolves pretty quickly.  What was the killer application last month is old news the day the next start-up launches. The companies that grow either have something intrinsically valuable, or can evolve faster than their peers. We are learning that the only true constant is ever accelerating change.

Continue reading Catching The Next Wave

Yelp! needs Help?

Yelp has been growing at a good clip and in the last couple days touted how well they were doing. This growth was probably a big factor in Yelp’s rumored $200 million valuation on its fourth round in February. A lot of this growth has been fueled by the excellent SEO that they receive as a result of a partnering arrangement with Google.

I noticed recently that Yelp isn’t as prevalent in my searches. Where Yelp used to show up almost every time I Googled a restaurant, instead it looks like Yelp competitor Citysearch is Google’s new review partner.

We haven’t seen a press release yet, but if Yelp has lost its relationship with Google this could lead to a downturn. While they may have the best reviews, that will mean little if people can’t find them. Could Yelp’s recent crowing be a scramble to paint a pretty picture before the decline?