Status: First Class

A nice little video on how to fly like a champion. I travel a lot and I like it. Colin Henry says I am a travel snob. I enjoy getting on planes and going somewhere new. I try to avoid the back of the plane like it is the plague, but I am not independently wealthy so the trick is fly a lot + Loyalty = baller status. So if you travel for work or for fun but do it alot, here is a nice guide to the earning status from Casey Neistat.


Restaurante Pujol - Mexico City


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I didn't write much about my two trips to Mexico city last year but one thing I will remember was my trip to Restaurante Pujol in DF Mexico.   What an amazing experience to eat a 10 course meal from Enrique Olvera one of the best Chefs in the world right now.  My favorite thing was probably this pork belly that was served with a carrot salsa.  There is too much to share in one post, but the atmosphere and the attention to detail for both the wine, food and the dining area was one of the best I have ever seen.

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I highly recommend that you take a look at the video below where he talks about his process and the food. It is in spanish but very revealing in my opinion.  Below is a gallery of my meal and some of the other food.




Soft Launches and Upcoming Changes

So I know I will probably hear from a bunch of my SEO friends on how I am going to be messing something up here. However, I made a decision to move off thecubiclepunk.com to a new design, new platform so I could focus on content (something I haven't done in a long time) and grow up a bit and use my jeremiahandrick.com domain.    

This is a bit of a soft launch.  I have been working on the move in the background for a few weeks, but there will be more work to get this up-to-date.   If you have feedback you can let me know on twitter @jeremiah. 

Or send me a note via my form here:

 

Name *
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Just say no to North Face

This is not a paid endorsement; this is my way of saying let's try and expand our horizons. I was going for a run tonight and it was rainy out so I didn't even hesitate to grab my jacket a hoodie from TAD gear. It reminded me of an exchange between two friends, Colin and Danielle on twitter from last week that started with this little tweet.

If this North Face is not the new startup founder uniform I don't know what is refer.ly/aX2Q

— Danielle Morrill (@DanielleMorrill) October 18, 2012

While I should probably worry that the startup world might be engaging in group think, I am a little more worried that Danielle might be right that North Face is just everywhere. I used to joke that when you joined Microsoft they must give you a black North Face Jacket and the keys to an Audi A4. All things you would see everywhere on campus.

So for your consideration, I thought would share some options that are not North Face.

Triple Aught Design (TAD Gear)

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For me when it comes to being warm and dry and I think almost exclusively first about TAD gear, these jackets look good but they are not about fashion. Founded in 1997 by Patrick Ma TAD Gear jackets and apparel are designed for real outdoor use and live up to it. I live for back country hiking and snowshoeing and my Ranger Hoodie is the go to jacket for days when a hard shell is too much. I have several other TAD products and next on my list is this Stealth Hoodie, it is the best of both worlds and a go to jacket when you want to be warm and dry.

If you were planning on buying a North Face jacket but want to stand out in the crowd and have kit that lasts a long time in hard outdoor use or just riding the bus from your office to the bar for happy hour this is really is so much better. Plus every comparable North Face jacket is guaranteed to pill and wear in the seams. This will last!

Acronym by Errolson Hugh

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So on the less technical front but super cool, Acronym is a great brand that is totally out there but has found a way to make gore-tex look cool. The jacket above was designed as a collaboration for last years Herno collection. It doesn't have a hood but it will keep you dry. For something similar, check out the GT-J22 hardshell with gore tex. I promise you will stand out in this jacket. An Acronym jacket is on my list for this year. Check out the video below for this years collection. Cool Stuff.

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Aether Another good option is for the SF and Pacific Northwest crowd is Aether, they make a wide variety of performance clothing focused on the city dweller who needs outdoor kit that doesn't fall apart. I have never owned any, but everyone I know who has says that they fit great and look good. I like the hood and cut of the F12 Altitude and the waterproof zippers are huge pulse.

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Moncler One option if you want to skip a rent payment or mortgage payment would be to go really old school, is a clothing company of French origin founded in 1952 by French entrepreneur René Ramillon that manufactures high-end down jackets and sportswear. You will need to drop a grip if you want anything from them, but I can personally guarantee that these jackets will keep you warm and dry and looking way better than anything that North Face will ship. I really dig this Moncler Grimbert this jacket is really different from the other suggestions I have made but it looks great. There are also a wide set of down options that will keep you warm and dry.

Some other options:

So now you have no excuses. Friends don't let friends buy North Face.

When will our site be done?

I have heard the following quotes more times that I care to repeat.

"When will the site be finished?"

"We have redesigned the site X times in Y years, when is it finished."

My response has always been, "Welcome to the internet." this is my snarky way of saying why are you complaining about the job security built into your job. But I have started to think about the fact that I few the world from an iterative lens and not everyone does. So I wanted to build a case for my thinking around being the owner of a website.

Redesign is costly, We should be optimizing.

There are good reasons to do a ground up rebuild of a website. Some that come to mind is a massive branding shift, a CMS transition, or many other deeply structural concerns. Often however it seems that a redesign isn't driven by one of those reasons, instead it is driven from the fact that the visitors needs change over time and your business goals also change and your current site doesn't meet those expectations.

Perhaps in the early days of the web, your site was created to be a catalog or a brochure for your company and despite many iterations your digital team has not made the transition from one mental model of the web to the most current. So you are stuck with the equivalent of an electronic handout or magazine ad. Now however the requirements have changed. You handle support, marketing, e-commerce, and PR. The catalog approach to the world won't work and more importantly your consumers are always changing their expectations as they get used to how the web is changing.

You must begin to structure your team and your resources to be a few things:

  1. Always testing
  2. Focused on Voice of the Customer
  3. Move away from the conveyor belt mentality and onto iterative processes.

The Conveyor Belt

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For most companies that offer a product or service a lot of effort is spent in making sure that as products are shipped the online materials like any other "asset" for that product launch is in place. This is the dominant effort for the website. Web copy is produced in the same fashion as the copy on the box or anywhere else.

Because of the weight of this, the experience of the site is often measured after the fact. While not an incorrect approach it doesn't leave room for a digital team to implement and improve the experience of the site until that effort required reaches a certain crescendo. A tipping point that gets upper management involved and the default solution is to redesign. But the 18 months it will take to get out the door is a lifetime in the world of the web.

Additionally I believe that agencies that are brought in to fill a void in our ability to do root cause analysis follow a business model that doesn't really support the idea of continuos improvement against measurable KPIs. Instead they move to quickly create recommendations that are based on a need to make a client happy. So we see redesign after redesign that is mostly cosmetic and doesn't even begin to touch the customer journey. And in the case of the SEO firm, they focus on rankings which are temporal and push to create a redesign for the same reasons but aimed at solving only one part of the problem the content or technical issues affecting SEO performance.

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The alternative to this seems to be a patchwork of projects that run in parallel to the conveyor belt executed by stakeholders internally. But often this creates a lack of predictability and an ever slipping schedule. Worse it seems that we have a difficulty in measuring and improving on our ability to commit to and deliver on time. How can we estimate when there are so many moving parts? How can we agree to things that are so out of our control? Believe it or not most Marketing teams do not realize that the website they own is still at the end of the day a piece of software and engineering excellence is as important as any other aspect of the work.

No one wants to be like the Four Seasons with their 18 Million Dollar redesign, but we also don't want our companies to become stale and lose out on the dollars sitting on the table waiting for us to snatch them from customers looking to spend. So what are we to do?

Marketing and Iteration

There are many parts to a solution that I think will help but for brevity I am going to distill them down to a couple of big rocks.

  1. Transparency: Start being honest about the amount of work being done.
  2. Respond to Change: Put systems in place that facilitate adapting to change
  3. Focus on impact

There is a big movement to bring agile development models to the marketing department and I am a fan. The benefits of these methodologies its their ability to help us focus on what matters and learn to improve how much we can get done by forcing us to make decisions about what really matters. For a good example on this thinking check out this presentation by ants eye view on the subject:

An introduction to Agile Marketing

    View more presentations from

Ant's Eye View

With more agile methodologies we should be working to evolve our website rather than get stuck in the patterns of large scale evolutions. The biggest impacts to the bottom line can be found in the smallest changes that can be learned from A/B testing, VoC and through improving against the short head.

This doesn't mean that a new look and feel won't ever drop into your lap or continue to be a dominate method of change, but the outcome should be that the fix is based on data not on the assumption that the only way to improve is to scrap what you have.

Lacoste - This strategy is a loser.

I am a lazy shopper. A friend sent me a link to a sale at Lacoste and I like one of their button down styles (the so called modern fit), so I opened the link on my iPad and of course like many websites I was forced to the mobile site. Not responsive, but for a experience that was meant for a mobile phone. This is annoying, but it isn't what I am writing about. This is again another example of a brand that sells its product to the aspirational/affluent and can't seem to get a digital strategy that works. Let me show you what I ran into:

On loading the link to the sale (http://shop.lacoste.com/) I was redirected to m.lacoste.com. There I was faced with the following user experience:

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Apparently you are not allowed to view the Lacoste site in landscape view. My preferred method of surfing on my iPad. Honestly, I have never seen anything like this. It seems so odd and it performs this way on the iPhone and the HTC one X.

So after being forced to turn the device to landscape I get this:

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I walked away for a few minutes and nothing changes, nothing loads. So I click the button in the upper left which is a clear ripoff of the Facebook interface. And sure enough a menu slides out just like you would expect.

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However, not a single link works or did anything. So they have a live, broken experience while in the middle of promoting a direct to consumer sale. I am hoping this is a glitch and not that someone there thinks launching half an experience is ok or that didn't fully test the experience. More than the fact that it is broken when I went to the website on my MBP I was able to load the site and I can't see any reason that site would not work on a iPad (Flash elements being the exception to the rule.

I think it is a lesson to aspirational brands that you need to understand your audience and I imagine based on the available data that your audience loves their iPads and may be visiting your site. Not to mention the issues I imagine your products have being found in search. Lets fix this.

AT&T this is not a great way to approach privacy.

I got this fun mail this weekend from AT&T and I was a bit amazed by it. The following is a notice that AT&T wants to let me know that unless I tell them otherwise I am opted in to share my CPNI data with whomever they choose whenever they choose. At first I almost ignored this mail, mostly because it was written in a way that just didn't come out and say it. Here is how it should read:

We want to share data about who, where and when you call and any other information that appears on your phone to anyone we want. We respect your privacy so much that we are letting you know we are asking you to call us or go to some website to tell us if you don't want that.

I am not a paranoid person and as someone who works in marketing I understand we trade our data for services all the time. But I pay for AT&T, they should not be asking me to let them know if want to opt-out… this should be opt-in only.

There are limits placed on telecommunication companies based on the 2007 FCC CPIN order and it seems like this email does comply with the letter of the law (note: not a lawyer) but I am not sure it is good for business or following the spirit of the regulations and law (1996 Telecommunications act 1996)… frankly it is creepy.

I think we could all be a little more conscious of how we leverage the available data on our consumers behavior and if you are creating a product or service I am beginning to think that opt-in should be the rule of the day. Image and print copy below:

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Dear JEREMIAH ANDRICK,

Regarding Your Account: XXXXXXXXXXXXX

The protection of our customers' privacy is of utmost importance to the employees and management of the AT&T family of companies (AT&T)*. Please take a moment to read the following important message about the privacy of your customer information.

AT&T companies that provide telecommunications and interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service (which permits VoIP customers to both send and receive calls to/from customers with traditional telephone/telecommunications service) would like to share your customer proprietary network information within the AT&T family of companies for our own marketing purposes, including using that information to offer you additional products and services.

What is CPNI? Your CPNI includes the types of telecommunications and interconnected VoIP services you currently purchase, how you use them and the related billing for those services. CPNI does not include your telephone number, your name or your address. Protecting the confidentiality of your CPNI is your right and our duty under federal law. As an AT&T customer, you can restrict the use of your CPNI even within the AT&T family of companies.

To allow AT&T to use your CPNI, no further action is required. AT&T will not use your CPNI to offer you other products and services until at least 33 days after this notice was mailed to you. AT&T and our authorized agents will not sell, trade or share your CPNI with anyone other than those who are in the AT&T family of companies or are AT&T authorized agents, unless required by law.

If at any time you would prefer that AT&T not use your CPNI to offer you additional products and services, you may:

    - Click here to submit your request electronically
    - Call 1.800.315.8303 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and follow the prompts
    - Call 1.800.288.2020 and speak to a service representative  

Your decision to permit or restrict the use of CPNI will remain in effect until you decide to change it - which you can do at any time without charge. Restricting our use of your CPNI will not affect the provision of any AT&T products or services to which you currently subscribe, nor will it eliminate other types of marketing contacts.

Thank you for choosing AT&T. We appreciate your business.

*The AT&T family of companies are those AT&T companies that provide communications-related products and/or services, including the AT&T local and long distance companies, AT&T Corp., AT&T Long Distance, AT&T Internet Services, AT&T Mobility, and other subsidiaries or affiliates of AT&T Inc. that provide, design, market or sell these products and/or services.

Thank you,

AT&T Online Services

A tale of two phones: Lumia 900 vs HTC one X

I am one of those people who always have a few phones in their bag or on their person. Not because I am involved in real estate or nefarious pursuits but because I work remote and I travel (My phone usage is a post for another day though.) having more than one phone is essential. Because I don't want to put all my eggs in the Apple basket, I have often carried an android phone with me, but for the last few weeks, I have been carrying two new phones in my Pocket and I wanted to share my experience.

The two phones are the Nokia Lumia 900 and the HTC one X. Both are much larger screen sizes than my iPhone but I am really ok with that. I am not into giant phones but 4.6 or 4.7" fits nice in my hand. I won't get into the specs as you can see a comparison sheet here. What I want to talk about what is more important to me, what it was like to use the phones.

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The Nokia Lumia 900

I wasn't sure I would get to use one of these phones other than the occasional messing with one when a friend from Microsoft would be near by, but fortunately for me I sit next to a VP at Microsoft within the windows phone team at Seattle Sounders matches. One day before a match were sharing product launch stories and the Lumia came up and he offered to send me one. (Disclosure: MS sent me this phone, I didn't buy it).

I have used this phone the longest of the two and it has been on two trips with me. The phone is strange in someways. It feels good, the polycarbonate case and the construction just seem perfect and it feels nice in your hand when you first pic it up. On the downside though, it seems really thick. Given the form factor this is really confusing because if you do look at a spec comparison I am not sure why they couldn't go thinner. Also button placement is just wrong. I have hung up on several conference calls by holding down the power button without realizing it.

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Windows Phone is getting better all the time. The software seem unique and innovative, so different from iPhone, but still familiar in some ways. But the big drawback is the apps. There are so many apps, but the ones I use everyday are a long way off. No path; No Instagram; none of my travel productivity apps… It isn't that there aren't great apps there are just a noticeably fewer amount.   

The other thing that is weird about this phone is that the hardware is underpowered. When you have every modern android coming on multi-core top of the line chips, the Snapdragon S2 just seems slow. It just seems like it isn't as snappy as the iPhone or the One X. I don't want to make it about the specs, but the reality is that when you have multiple phones you can feel the difference and see the difference when you use them.

As a phone the Nokia really shines though. I have used it for every conference call for the last three weeks and without a doubt it sounds more clear than the iPhone and the speaker feels more clear than the speaker on the iPhone. Hands down this is better.

The HTC One X

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Ever since they announced this phone I have wanted to get my hands on it. I went to my local AT&T store as soon as it was available. The first thing I would say is this phone was meant to be held. I love it. The polycarbonate feels really nice and the shape is so thin… It feels thinner than it is because of the design. I really like it. Compared to the Lumia you can see in the picture it isn't so much thinner but difference between 12mm and the 9.3mm is huge.   

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Unlike previous android phones, this phone feels really nice. Sense is out of the way. The phone is snappy and the resolution is very sharp. I like using this phone. If you haven't used Ice Cream Sandwich, this is the first build of android that feels like they thought about the user. It is much more polished and even more important you nee

The camera is super sharp and is probably one of the better features. It isn't perfect but better than most phone cameras outside of the iPhone. Here is a pic from a Sounders match:

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The only thing I don't like about the white version of the phone is the polycarbonate material seems to get dirty real easy. I am cleaning it a lot right now.

One other thing that I haven't figured out is at least three mornings I have grabbed the phone off the charger to find it had not charged. I don't know if this is because of user error or because some hardware or software issue.

The thing I don't understand.

Check out this picture of the box. Both phones came in AT&T boxes and wrapped in "don't text and drive" vinyl protectors. They both load with an AT&T screen and have the logo on it. One thing you notice about Apple and the iPhone is that no matter where you get it. The phone is an iPhone. No messy interstitials to remind you that you are a slave to AT&T for the next 2 years and the packaging makes you feel like the phone is a gift. Both these phones have a bunch of AT&T crapware installed and the packaging makes it look like the first feature phone you ever owned.

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This really bugs me because it lowers the quality of the experience. AT&T is where I get my service. They didn't make the phone. Can you imagine best buy or target telling some manufacturer that if they want to be on the shelf they need to brand everything with their brand. It wouldn't happen. (I am ignoring subsidization issues of course, but lets be real the consumers brand attachment begins at the box.)

These are both really good phones and I am pretty sure I haven't enjoyed using a phone since my first iPhone as I feel when I use the One X.   

Mission Workshop: Arkiv System launch video

Anyone who has talked to me about travel and work in the last three years knows what a fan I have become of the Mission Workshop bags. Easy to clean and super durable for travel or daily use. I am amazed at how much stuff I can cram in my bag.

I came across a video yesterday (H/T Hypebeast) of a new line they are launching with a unique closure system and special military spec MOLLE system for adding modules. Check out the demo video they shot. I can't wait to see what bags will be in the line up and might be worth checking out as a future pack.