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September 2004

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September 29, 2004

New book from my old boss

Scott Schwefel, my former boss, just published a new book entitled I Think I'll Stand Up: Finding Your Personal Path To Success And Self-confidence and I thought I would give him a quick plug. Scott's a great guy who has been tremendously successful, recently selling his computer training business. I haven't read the book yet (just ordered it) but I figured I would mention it as I'm sure it'll be great.


September 27, 2004

The Day the (iPod) Music Died

It seems that there are some lessons in life that you have to learn a few times before they finally sink in. One of those for me might seem quite obvious to you: Water and electronics do not mix. After managing to drop my cell phone into a drink a few months ago, today lightning struck twice as a water bottle in my backpack managed to leak all over my iPod. Needless to say, this was not a good thing...

When I went to go out on a run today I checked my iPod to make sure it was working. It wasn't. It was doing some really funky stuff and I figured that the bottle of water had just cost me $250 more than I had previously thought. I got on the line with tech support at Apple and in the meantime, turned the iPod off.

After about 20 minutes on hold I finally got someone who informed me that I had purchased my iPod more than 90 days ago and therefore was not entitled to anymore "complimentary phone support". In all fairness though she was willing to listen to my problem and send me a link with some info on a couple of steps I could take to possibly restore it. She also mentioned that it would cost $250 to repair it but with new Minis running about $235 at Amazon.com I'm not sure why anyone in their right mind would choose that option.

Well, after getting off the phone with tech support I turned the iPod back on and lo and behold, it works! I'm keeping my fingers crossed as I know were not out of the woods on this one yet. If my iPod startsplaying Miles Davis someday then I know I'm really screwed (I have no Miles Davis music on my iPod). In the meantime, all is good. Still can't wait until they come out with waterproof iPods...


September 27, 2004

The Leadership Collection...Stupid

Every once in a while I hear or read something a business has done and hear Tom Peters' voice shouting "Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!" (If you've listened to his remarkable book "Re-Imagine" you know exactly what I mean.) It's usually when a business is really close to having a great idea and then FUBARs it. This was the case with Soundview's new Leadership Collection executive book summaries on audio...

What's wrong with executive book summaries on audio you might ask? Nothing. In fact, it's a brilliant idea. Executives don't have time to read. OK, that's not true but at they are probably among the busiest of all human beings. Throw the information they need to digest into audio format then and let them listen to it in their car or at the gym. Seems reasonable...

Expect for the fact that these summaries are available only in the "exclusive Audiofy BookChip format". So exclusive I'm sure that very few people will actually be able to listen to them. I have an iPod which is the most popular portable listening device on the market. Can I listen to these book summaries on my iPod? Nope.

I commend Soundview on bringing these products to market but I really wish they had thought a little more about it. Are people really going to buy their Audiofy player just to listen to this? Didn't Audible try this and fail with their "Otis" product? It's not rocket science. Put together killer content in a format that can readily be consumed by the masses. Do that and you'll feel the customer love...


September 25, 2004

Trying out Netflix

So I bit the bullet finally and signed up for Netflix. In addition to using LearnOutLoud.com to enable and promote audio learning, we're also focusing on video learning as well. One of our goals is to encourage individuals to substitute 10-20% of the time they would normally be watching regular television with more substantial and beneficial programs. While some channels (A & E, The Learning Channel, etc.) carry this type of programming, it's often best to look towards DVDs and VHS tapes instead...

The benefit of subscribing to Netflix is that you can watch as many programs in a month as you have time for. And they do have some good ones. I'm currently watching Joseph Campbell's interview with Bill Moyers entitled The Power of Myth. It's quite interesting and well worth watching. If you've read any of Campbell's books (e.g., "The Hero with a Thousand Faces"), you'll definitely enjoying these discs.

The downside of Netflix right now is that they don't have a ton of "video learning" material available. There are a few titles by Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer and Caroline Myss but the number if relatively small compared to what's out there. Imagine a day when you can rent Teaching Company and Nightingale-Conant titles for a monthly fee. That will be really, really cool.

In the meantime we'll just have to make due with what Netflix (and other similar services such as those from Blockbuster and Wal-mart) has to offer. If you're interested in giving Netflix a test run, you can get a free trial at www.netflix.com.


September 17, 2004

Egoscue Clinic Visit

Yesterday I had the privilege of visiting an Egoscue clinic in Irvine, California. For those of you not familiar with it, the Egoscue Method is a rehabilitation/injury prevention program based on the theory that most physical injury is caused by lack of flexibility, strength and range of motion. Pete Egoscue has written a number of books on the subject including the classic Pain Free.

Yesterday's session lasted a little over an hour and consisted an analysis of my posture based on a series of digital photographs. A fairly thorough diagnosis was given and then I was shown a series of exercises custom-tailored to my particular needs.

Midway through the session I was pleasantly surprised with the man himself, Pete Egoscue, showed up (their headquarters is a couple of hours south in San Diego so he is rarely at the Irvine clinic. Pete's a great guy who's helped thousands of individuals (including athletes such as Jack Nicklaus and Charles Barkley) recover from pain and injury.

I left the Egoscue clinic with a series of customized exercises which I am to perform in the coming weeks. Although many of these exercises can be found in Pete's books, there were a few new ones and I also realized that I had been doing a couple of the exercises incorrectly (not surprising given how difficult it can be to learn them from books). I was very pleased with the experience and will head back in a couple of months to get "re-assessed".

For more information on the Egoscue Method and their clinics, visit them at www.egoscue.com.


September 15, 2004

Good News from Audible.com

I received a response to my Audible customer service query today (here was the original issue). Audible's response:

"As per your email St. Francis of Assisi by G.K. Chesterton was not up to your standards. I have refunded your account for the book and have restored your book credit."

Kudos to Audible for handling the situation appropriately. They were a bit slow in responding but they did the right thing in the end.


September 15, 2004

Books on Tape sale

Books on Tape is discontinuing their current rental program. As part of this they are selling all of their rental products at rental prices. This represents a huge savings of 80% of more on most titles. For example, I just picked up an unabridged copy of Bill Clinton's autobiography "My Life" for around $30 (it normally runs over $100). Unfortunately they are pretty picked over but it might be worth your while to hop over there and check out what they do have left.



September 13, 2004

St. Francis of Assisi

Well, I knew it had to happen. I've ordered about a dozen books from Audible.com and they have all been great. Awesome sound quality, great narration, etc. However, this week I listened to G.K. Chesterton's essay "St. Francis of Assisi" and wasn't impressed. The sound quality was poor and the narration lackluster. I've come to expect pretty high standards from Audible so I've e-mailed them to let them know and to request a credit/refund. We'll see how their customer service measures up...

If you are interested:

St. Francis of Assisi

I'll keep you posted on what I hear from Audible.


September 8, 2004

There is a Spiritual Solution...

I had the pleasure of going to see Wayne Dyer speak last week here in Los Angeles. I've been a big fan of Dyer for quite some time and really his talk. There is something about Wayne's message that is very reassuring and calming. It's almost "anti-self-development" in the sense of not striving to hard to reach one's goals but rather relaxing, doing what comes naturally and allowing your true self to come out. If you haven't listened to any of Dyer's stuff before, here's a great title that I just recently finished:

There is a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem

You'll likely agree that it's a great listen. For information about Wayne Dyer and his products visit http://www.drwaynedyer.com


September 7, 2004

Finding Decent Headphones

It's a little bit ridiculous but I need to have three separate of headphones for my iPod. It's a bit of a pain and I'm hoping that I'll find a set of headphones that'll work regardless of what I'm doing while I'm listening. Here are the three types of headphones I've got:

My IPod headphones - Although these look cool, I do think Apple dropped the ball here. These work fine when you're moderately active (e.g., walking down the street) but they don't work at all for me when I'm running or doing some other kind of workout. I've heard that complaint from others well. So while the "form" of these is pretty cool, I'm just not a big fan of the "function". Plus, I appear to have blown one of the earphones out even though I almost never listen to loud music through these earphones.

My RIO "Sportclip Earphones" - I got these with a Rio MP3 player I bought a year ago (which I really liked but has only 128 MB vs. the 4 GB of my iPod Mini). I love these for running, working out, etc because they wrap around the ear and even though they don't always fit snugly in the ear, they don't fall off entirely like the iPod ones often do. The problem with these? A very short cord. They work fine if I put the iPod on my armband but not if I try to put the iPod in my pocket.

My Sony "AIR" headphones - These have an extra long cord (which has an extension so it can actually be made shorter...cool) and they wrap around the ear. So that's cool. And the sound is good but they are a little heavy and clunky. So almost there but not quite.

Anyway, I'm rambling now but I'll do a little searching and see if I can't find something that's a great hybrid of these three. In the meantime, if you come across something that might fit the bill feel free to post it in the comments.