Commute Helper

Found this post on a Personal Finance Advice blog about a guy who is a commute helper. What is that you ask? Well, he sits on the side of the road with a sign that reads “Traffic is Bad. Spend 2 hours or pay me $10 and get there in 20 minutes”. When someone picks him up, they qualify to ride in the HOV lane and they can then bypass all the traffic. When he gets to the destination, he simply goes out to the road and does it again to get a ride home. He does it 5-8 times a day and can clear $100-300 a day. Brilliant.

San Francisco

I spent the majority of this past week out in beautiful San Francisco, CA attending the Word of Mouth Marketing Association’s (yes it exists) WOM Basic Training conference. At its most basic level, Word of Mouth Marketing is defined as giving people a reason to talk about your products and services, and making it easier for that conversation to take place.

Overall, I found the conference very eye opening and enlightening. There were some very compelling presentations and they far outnumbered the poor presentations (including the pathetic disappointing keynote from Robert Scoble). What I found most fun were the stories and examples of different people rallying around a specific cause or passion, including www.savesurge.org, www.snakesonablog.com, iPod Battery Replacement, and the Chevy Tahoe “make your own ad” fiasco.

I also met some great people, including the fine folks from Brains on Fire from down in Greenville, SC (thanks Spike, Robbin for dinner on Wednesday evening! It was fantastic!).

I could write for pages the things I learned and the background on the previously mentioned examples, but I think I’ll just add them sporadically to the blog as time goes on. It will make for some interesting and diverse reading.

I look forward to attending future conferences like this and I can only hope they are as informative and enlightening as this one!

No Need For MS Office

Is it getting hot out in Redmond? Is the collar feeling a little tight? OK, so lets not get too carried away…Microsoft is still an immense power in the business, computer and software worlds and they are not going anywhere. In fact, I fully expect them to observe the market, make adjustments, and then come roaring forward to protect their core software businesses including MS Office (exactly what they did with Netscape).

But it is immensely interesting to observe the online marketplace these days and all the amazing web based products and innovation, taking dead aim at Microsoft’s cash cow desktop applications. And I know this is nothing new, as several of these apps have been out in the marketplace for a while now, and they have been written about often.

The item that motivated me to write this post is Gilffy, which is a neat browser based version of MS Visio. So in addition to this, you have Google’s Spreadsheet, Calendar and Gmail, all of Yahoo’s similar services, 30Boxes (Calendar), Writely (and all the other Web based word processing apps), Basecamp from 37 Signals, and Thumbstacks, and Eric Meyer’s S5 slideshow apps, to name a few. You are all set. No need to buy a $500 piece of software in a box full of air.

The only concern is that by using all these web based apps, all your information would be housed on someone else’s server/computer. But most to all of the aforementioned apps give you the ability to download local copies, so that should not be a big issue.

Its quite an interesting time to be a consumer and to be in Redmond. :-) I’ll be interested to see Google and Yahoo’s next steps.