Maggie

In 1975, the federal government passed the Magnuson-Moss Act. Ask the next 100 people you see, what this law is and why it made the explosive growth of the computer industry possible, and you will likely get somewhere between 98 and 100 blank stares.

WarrenGMagnusonBack in the 1960’s and 70’s, IBM sold mainframe computers, and sold a lot of them. IBM also sold service, accessories and upgrades for those systems. What IBM did not do was allow anyone else to poke around in those machines – even after the sale. IBM did not allow the machine purchasers to add in accessories from other manufacturers. IBM kept it all and kept it all as trade secret. Hence, when, in 1981, IBM introduced its take on the personal computer, the world marveled at its open architecture. The IBM PC was open. Anyone could, and did, build and sell accessories and replacement parts. IBM copied the Apple II in that respect. The infant industry had already learned from the success of Apple II, that open is best.

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What’s it like to be a real writer? And how do you become one?

What’s it like to be a real writer? By many definitions, I’d have to say “I don’t know.” I don’t have a published book. I’ve written a pair of screenplays, but no one has read them, nor are they particularly worth reading. I don’t write every day, like “real writers” say they do. I’m not disciplined in my approach, I’m not formally trained as a writer, and I don’t make my living solely (or even mostly) via the written word.

By who’s definition?

But, the reality is that I do know what it’s like to be a real writer; just not a theoretical “ideal” writer. I’ve been published, in print and online, for a decade. I’ve been paid for some it, and not for other parts. I’ve had my own paid column on three different occasions. I’ve written volumes of content for my day job. I think that gives me the justification to say that I’m a “real writer.” Continue reading “What’s it like to be a real writer? And how do you become one?”

The Problem With Networking, Part 2

If you haven’t yet, go back and read The problem with networking, Part 1.

There is a lot of truth to the statement: “you only get one chance to make a first impression.” While many employment consultants will tell you to get right out there, doing so before you are prepared is not far different from going to a job interview wearing pajamas. They will tell you to go to networking events now and often, to make contacts and give out business cards. They will tell you to use these contacts to expand your network.

In a down industry, networking events tend to be empathy events. Rather than entering a room full of potential employers or even leads, the networker is entering a room full of peers sharing a common problem. There is plenty of opportunity to commiserate but little opportunity to get closer to employment. If that is what you want or need to help your emotional state, fine. Just don’t waste the chance to make a good first impression on any real opportunities.

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Decisions, Decisions…

We all make decisions. It’s a part of life, and more specifically, a part of our jobs. We make so many, that you’d think we’d all be pretty good at decision making by now.

Unfortunately, that’s often not the case; even for confident people. Well, actually, most of us are pretty good at making those decisions, but we like to refuse to accept that we are good at it. Our brains play tricks and convince us that we might mess things up, get fired, not be accepted, be put down, be rebuked, or be presented any number of an endless string of negative reactions.

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Cost Reduction in Design – Advice for Makers

If you’re looking for the absolute, cheapest possible assembly service, you’ll need to look outside of North America. If you really need a decent price with good quality and good service, you can keep your gaze West of the Atlantic and East of the Pacific.

Like everything else in the modern world, design decisions can have a pretty big impact on your cost. So, lets take a look at some design decisions that can make your manufacturing more affordable.

  • Accept longer lead times

Lead times are one of the biggest factors in electronics manufacturing. Screaming Circuits (my day job employer) can turn a kitted assembly job overnight, but it costs a lot of money to do that. Screaming Circuits also has a 20 day turn-around that is much, much more affordable. Accepting longer lead times on PCB fab will drop your cost as well.

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The Problem With Networking, Part 1

Unemployed? Looking for a job? Network. Get out to all those networking events. Call people and ask for informational interviews. Whenever you speak with anyone, get referrals from them. Right? Well, maybe. Sort of.

A number of years ago, I went through a period of fairly long-term unemployment, and I think I learned quite a bit about that world. Not much was really new to me, but the perspective certainly was.

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How to succeed in marketing without really trying

If you’re old enough, you might remember the 1967 movie, “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” Well… you don’t really need to be old enough. The movie’s before my time and I’ve watched it.

vertical_marketsIn the movie, window washer J. Pierpont Finch, reads a book titled the same as the movie, and takes it to heart. Shortly after starting to read the book, he talks his way into a mailroom job. Within hours, he’s manipulated and bumbled his way upstairs and eventually lands a coveted corner office without, as the title suggests, really trying. At least, he didn’t really try working for his success. He did try a lot of manipulation, fast talking, and subversion.

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30 Minute Job Interview Seminar, Part 2

If you haven’t read it yet, might want check out Part 1 of this series.

The job applicant needs to not just show competence, but also needs to show fit in the company. As a hiring manager, I know it’s rare to find candidates that have all of the skills and experience I need. Given that, what I’m looking for is relevance, transferable skills, and a willingness to learn. Actually, “eagerness to learn” is probably a lot closer to what I need. I like to see a candidate that is not just willing to learn, but that actively seeks our new knowledge. A healthy thirst for new knowledge can be the difference between a good fit and a one-way trip out the door.

If you know enough about the company, you can get a feel for what they really need. You can highlight skills that are relevant to the company, even if not listed in the job description. You can fill in the skill blanks, or discuss how you can fill those blanks. Like step 1, step 2 should be obvious as well, but also like step 1, it’s far less common than you might think.

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Beware The Double Disruption

Have you ever been involved with the disruption of an established industry? If you’ve worked in a start-up, or have been a part of a new product release, you most likely have to some extent. New products and services are an endless chain of disruptions. However, what I’m talking about is the type of disruption that smashes an industry into pieces.

I’ve been lucky enough to have helped cause a major disruption more than once. Back in the 1990’s, LCDs were primitive. Computer projectors were huge cathode ray tube devices that required extensive installation and maintenance. They were big, expensive, and of limited practical use.

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