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$25K … No, $100K… No, One Million Dollars to Charity by Atlassian

Two years ago I reported on Atlassian’s initiative to to raise funds for the benefit of Room to Read, an organization that builds schools, libraries in rural communities in Nepal, Cambodia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Laos, Zambia …etc. Giving away $1,200 worth of software licences for $5 in a 5-day drive, they first planned to raise $25K, then increased the target to $100,000.

@Krishnan and I thought we should put our money where our mouth (pen? keyboard?) is, and both purchased a bunch of licences just to help push Atlassian towards the finish line.  The last minutes were dramatic:

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No For Kno, Finally. It Was DOA Anyway.

Boomtown reports Kno, makers of the flip-open dual tablet designed for the education market is planning to sell off the hardware business, and focus on software only. Says Kara Swisher:

That’s because marketing a new and complex product like the Kno takes a lot of effort and cash, especially since it is an increasingly competitive market for mobile and portable computing products that includes Apple, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Google, Amazon, Dell and many others.

Oh, really?  I think not.  It’s not about marketing.. it’s about recognizing the product was Dead On Arrival… a ridiculously impossible design.  And no, I’m not just discovering it now, I declared in DOA when it was announced:

The Kno is Not a Tablet. It’s a Workout Device

At 5 and a half pounds it’s not exactly a lightweight tablet you would want to hold for hours…

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ON that Personal Computing Nirvana Again

This will be a fairly short post – because all I do is refer to this piece I wrote recently:

Motorola Takes Us a Step Closer to Personal Computing Nirvana–and it’s Not Even a Computer

Why bring it up again?  Because Walt Mossberg just validated the concept:

Today’s best smartphones are really hand-held computers. They run a vast variety of applications, from productivity programs to games, that mimic what laptops do. Their biggest limitations for serious work, gaming, Web surfing and multimedia are their small screens, cramped keyboards and tinny speakers.
So, what if you could use the brains and connectivity of such a hand-held computer to drive a laptop-size screen, keyboard and speakers, thus overcoming these limitations? Well, Motorola Mobility has devised a new phone and accessory that aim to do just that: to make the phone the only computer you need.

Read his full post here.

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Shockingly Honest CEO Memos–Microsoft, Nokia

Engadget calls freshly minted Nokia CEO Steven Elop’s internal letter to the troops “one of the most exciting and interesting CEO memos we’ve ever seen.” Selected quotes:

We have more than one explosion – we have multiple points of scorching heat that are fuelling a blazing fire around us.

Apple disrupted the market by redefining the smartphone and attracting developers to a closed, but very powerful ecosystem.

They changed the game, and today, Apple owns the high-end range.

The first iPhone shipped in 2007, and we still don’t have a product that is close to their experience.

Android came in at the high-end, they are now winning the mid-range, and quickly they are going downstream to phones under €100. Google has become a gravitational force, drawing much of the industry’s innovation to its core.

But there’s still the low-end of the market … except.. oh, gotta love this choice quote:

At the lower-end price range, Chinese OEMs are cranking out a device much faster than, as one Nokia employee said only partially in jest, “the time that it takes us to polish a PowerPoint presentation.”

Hm, perhaps the Chinese don’t have PowerPoint? Smile (Hey, there’s a reason why I suggested the US Should Donate PowerPoint to the Taliban)

So yes, it’s a brutally honest memo from a new CEO – but not sure it holds the “most exciting ever” title.

Here’s another gem from Elop’s former boss: a CEO who is not a hired gun, but Founder, large shareholder, industry icon, Bigger then God.  Yet he can’ get his troops aligned, and as a user is frustrated at the crap his Monster of a company is turning out.  Yes, I am talking about (then) Microsoft CEO Bill Gates.

Excerpts from his 2003 internal letter:

—- Original Message —-

From: Bill Gates
Sent: Wednesday, January 15, 2003 10:05 AM
To: Jim Allchin
Cc: Chris Jones (WINDOWS); Bharat Shah (NT); Joe Peterson; Will Poole; Brian Valentine; Anoop Gupta (RESEARCH)
Subject: Windows Usability Systematic degradation flame

I am quite disappointed at how Windows Usability has been going backwards and the program management groups don’t drive usability issues…

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Josh Groban Sings Kanye West Tweets

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Trouble with My Feed

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feedburnerI’m experiencing trouble with my Feedburner feed – apologies and I certainly hope to get it fixed soon.

(Oh, and Googlers who read this are most welcome to chip in to helpSmile )

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Zoho Rounds Out Small Business Suite with Accounting App–Zoho Books

This morning Zoho, known for SMB focused SaaS offerings in the areas of productivity, collaboration, business processes launched an Accounting app: Zoho Books. I typically don’t do detailed product reviews, when I see the first good ones, will link to them – just a few points here and then let’s discuss how it rounds out Zoho’s overall strategy.

The following video introduction is a bit “cutesy”:

-and that’s quite intentional.  In fact simplicity is one of the key points in Zoho Books:

  • Clear, streamlined UI, tabs, easy terminology –i.e. Money In, Money Out. This service is clearly targeted at non-accountants, which is most of us in a small business – hey, even I can understand most of it.Smile
  • That said, Books offers the opportunity to share data and collaborate with accountants (Ouch, did I really needed that reminder for tax time?;-) )
  • Multi-currency support – this is typically a later add-on in many systems, but Zoho has a wide international presence with most of their other services
  • Integration with Zoho CRM, Invoice, Mail – somewhat basic now, will be improved as we’ve seen with the rest of Zoho’s offerings
  • Support for electronic payment systems like Paypal, Google Checkout, Authorize.net. This is a “hidden treasure” inherited from twin service Zoho Invoice, which is a subset of Book’s functionality and can be easily upgraded. Why hidden? Because relatively few know that Paypal offers 50 cent (yes, that’s $0.50 per transaction) Business Payments NOT available through the Web, only via their API, i.e. apps like Zoho Invoice and Boooks.

Having said that, is Zoho Books a Quickbooks killer?

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Motorola Takes Us a Step Closer to Personal Computing Nirvana–and it’s Not Even a Computer

Motorola Atrix 4GIt took five years, but the personal computing nirvana vision I first heard from Zoho CEO Sridhar Vembu is becoming reality. The concept that I discussed in The Cell-Phone Aware PC May Be a PC-less PC, and other posts is simple.  Instead of a plethora of situational devices with redundant computing capacity, carry around just one powerful mobile device, which:

  • brings connectivity, the browser and personalization, with
  • data and apps in the cloud, while
  • the actual devices we interact with are inexpensive displays and keyboards (and other peripherals) that come in various shapes and sizes, truly focusing on usability, ergonomics and convenience.

The first product that gets quite close to the vision is the Motorola Atrix 4G

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Could Fake Steve Jobs Go to Jail?

Online impersonators could be fined up to $1,000 and/or up to one year in jail according to California Senate Bill 1411, which Governor Schwarzenegger has just signed into law.   The new law is  meant to protect victims of cyberbullying, malicious impersonation – says  Senator Joe Simitian, the Bill’s author on his homepage:

“E-personation,” said Simitian, “is the dark side of the social networking revolution. Facebook or MySpace pages, e-mails, texting and comments on Web forums have been used to humiliate or torment people and even put them in danger. Victims have needed a law they can turn to.”

A recent New York Times story, “As Bullies Go Digital, Parents Play Catch-Up” (December 5) provides a disturbing example. A mother, distressed by her son’s emotional withdrawal, learned he was being ostracized at school because “the kids say I’m saying all these nasty things about them on Facebook.” Though he hadn’t created a Facebook page, his mother found a page with his name and picture. “Someone had forged his identity online,” the Times reported, “and was bullying others in his name.”