Sunday
Dec162012

Thoughts on Gun Control

In the wake of the tragic events in Newtown, Connecticut, I've drifted between feelings of utter saddness and utter anger. I wanted to spend the that Friday evening in solemn contemplation and mourning (and hugging my kids just a little tighter), but at a moment I was particularly pissed off, I took to Facebook to express my frustration.

I figured I'd share my thoughts here as well:

Okay. That's it. I'm really fucking sick of hearing another tragedy like this. This shouldn't be. We MUST do something about the gun laws ... background checks, quantities sold, waiting periods. Whatever it takes. Because you know what? The "guns don't kill people, people kill people" philosophy obviously is not working. Beyond our gun laws, it's a problem with our society. We're gun happy.
And to anyone who is itching to disagree, feel free, but you're just going to bore me with the same diatribe I've heard for years. Do me a favor ... go drive to Newtown, Connecticut, and deliver your second amendment speech to one of those poor parents who just finished wrapping a Christmas present for a child who will never see another Christmas.
And a follow-up comment:
There is truly a difference in gun culture/ownership in America than other countries. Let me get those statistics out of the way before I get to my point ...
  • In 1997, one in four Americans owned at least one gun.
  • The United States is responsible for over 80 percent of all the gun deaths in the 23 richest countries combined.
  • Since 1960, more than a million Americans have died in firearm suicides, homicides, and unintentional injuries.
  • In the U.S., there are 88.8 guns per 100 people. Yes, that makes America #1 in that category. At a distant second at 58.2 guns per 100 people ... Serbia!
I see this similar to the automobile -- another instrument which can be used for good or cause death. Since the invention of the automobile, auto-related fatalities were on a steady increase in the 1930s and 1960s until stricter regulations started making cars and car-use safer. Since that stricter regulation in the early 1980s, auto fatalities have been on a steady decrease.
Now, statistics aside, let's look at this rationally. Why not give stricter gun control a try? Let's try at least a decade of much tighter control over deadly weapons. At worst, it's harder for gun enthusiasts to acquire a gun. At best, it saves a child's life.
Are you not at least willing to give that a try? I know I am. And I am a gun enthusiast. I like shooting for sport. But you know what? If it means saving the life of someone's daughter or son, I'll find a new sport.

 

Tuesday
Oct302012

Why Disney's Acquisition of Lucasfilms Will Work

It was announced that Disney will be acquiring Lucasfilms. This is the latest in their shopping spree of premiere companies of talent and content. After years of producing failed titles (which leads to failed theme park rides), they made the smart move of acquiring Pixar and then Marvel. Now that they've added Lucasfilms to the fold, they'll be set for many years to come.
It was also announced that Kathleen Kennedy will be taking over for George Lucas in heading up Lucasfilms. Kathleen Kennedy has produced a lot of huge titles (Jurassic Park, Sixth Sense, Schindler's List), so she's a good one to take over the franchise. And it's obvious from reading the Steve Jobs biography that Disney needs Lucas Films, Pixar, and Marvel more than they need Disney. But Disney can provide a great outlet for them -- more (and permanent) Star Wars-themed Disney attractions, movie distribution, access to more TV outlets (ABC, Disney Channel, Disney XD, ABC Family), and you will probably see Clone Wars move to Disney Channel when the Cartoon Network contract is up.
At the end of the day, as long as Lucas isn't directing the next movies, they can be great again. The best Star Wars film, Empire Strikes Back, was not directed by him. Let Joss Whedon and J.J. Abrams have at both writing and directing them, and they could be amazing. As a Star Wars fan, I'm really looking forward at what's to come.
Monday
Oct012012

What Does the iPhone 5 Mean to You?

Check out my podcast interview with my colleagues Stephan Merkens and Patrick Donnelly on the updates to the new iPhone from Apple and what it means to companies and consumers.

Friday
Sep142012

Finally ... iPhone 5

I was so relieved to hear about the new iPhone 5 and its features. I almost felt like I was at the presentation while viewing Engadget's excellent live blog of the event. My excitement wasn't solely because of the fact that a new iPhone was coming out (although that can't be dismissed). I had a more pressing reason for my excitement. I really need one!

The iPhone I did have was the iPhone 4, which I was perfectly happy with. So much so that I decided it would be a good idea to take it with me when I went kayaking with my daughter at a lake in the Poconos. When the kayak started to get a little unsteady, I thought we'd better turn around, so I can put my iPhone back on the deck. And then *bloop* our kayak overturned, and my iPhone took a dip in the lake. My brother-in-law got it into a bag of rice to dry out, but the damage was done. It was dead (begin sad violins).

So I decided to resurrect my old iPhone 3GS. I figured, "I only need it to last for four months until the next iPhone is released." Of course, fates being tempted, it happened. I dropped the iPhone 3GS onto my friend's porch and *crack* went the screen:

Come on!! I decided to get an Invisible Shield screen cover to keep the glass in place, since the touch screen actually still worked. This, from a phone that runs like a 2-legged dog since I upgraded it to iOS 5. And in this last week of its life, since the iPhone 5 announcement, it seems to be running even slower ... almost like it's taunting me.

If you need me, I'll be standing in line next Friday morning at the Apple Store.

Tuesday
Sep042012

Dollar Shave Club

Hats off to the marketing team behind the Dollar Shave Club. They put together a brilliant marketing video on YouTube, and they hooked me. Immadiately after watching this funny -- yet catchy -- video, my next thought was, "Where do I sign up?" They managed to pull off a rare combination in a successful product-focused viral video: humor, relevance, good production quality, and a clear call to action. (Not to mention it's only 93 seconds long.)

 

Mind you, I'm one to do loads of research on a product prior to purchase, so I then took to Twitter to hear what others had to say about the Dollar Shave Club razors. After seeing some good feedback, I figured I'd give it a try. What was to lose? A Dollar? Being a Gillette guy for years (I'm a fan of their Fusion Power razor line), I was skeptical about the quality of the razors, so I opted for the $9 per month "Executive" razor for a true comparison. After trying out their six- (yes, six!) bladed razor, I can tell you it's a really good shave.

Here are some pictures of what I received in my first Dollar Shave Club shipment:

          

I'm predicting this new company will do well, if they can push a majority of their customers to the $6 or $9 per month deal. I'm guessing the $1 per month rate (including shipping and handling) is a loss leader for their more expensive plans. More important, what they've managed to do is make consumers realize that purchasing razor blades is a commodity business. It's a life-long commitment that doesn't need millions of dollars of advertising and pro athletes to promote it. It needs a catchy YouTube video and an attractive pricing model. This will make Gillette and Schick rethink their 100-year-old business models when Dollar Shave Club starts to take off.

And now the review:

Razor Ranking 1-10
Attribute Gillette Fusion Dollar Shave Club "Executive"
Smoothness of Shave 8 9
Closeness of Shave 9 7
Convenience 7 9
Price per Cartridge $3.95* $3.00

*Based on a 4-pack of Gillette Fusion Cartridges from Target.com