Author Archives: David Starkweather

About David Starkweather

David Starkweather lives in the Kansas City metro area, working as a business analyst for a web development agency. He is a technology enthusiast and an avid reader. David is currently on his way to reading a book a week in 2012.

Google’s Nexus Q | A New Media Streaming Device

Nexus Q from Google

Google made a couple of new announcements prior to the I/O conference this week. A new Tablet (Nexus 7) and a new media streaming device called the Nexus Q.

The Nexus Q looks to be an interesting device, allowing you to access all of the Google Play content through your TV. While this sounds really cool, these devices have been around for a while.
Apple has had an AppleTV box for a really long time but they’ve never really seen great success with it. Western Digital is another company that makes a digital media device and while it works well, they don’t have a flashy name or much support other than the people who tried it out and like it.

ROKU is another company without much of a brand to get behind but they seem to have maybe the best option for digital media streaming (they offer the holy trinity of digital streaming Amazon, Netflix and Hulu). ROKU also has an extremely cheap price tag at only $99. admittedly, I’m looking into a ROKU box in the near future primarily for their streaming video and the ridiculously low price.

The one big gap in this list is Amazon. They are arguably the biggest rival to Apple’s iTunes, but they still don’t have a media box to stream the content that you purchase from them. It’s possible that they are relying on the rest of the players to build the actual device and simply add an Amazon app to their product. I highly doubt that Jeff and company will be sitting by idly watching their biggest competitors come out with proprietary streaming devices while they hope to get their app added to the devices. The opportunity to make a streamlined media device that, much like the Kindle Fire, ‘helps’ users buy more content from Amazon would appear to be too much for Amazon to pass up.

Back to the Nexus Q. The device seems to go away from what Google is known for, low design, highly functional devices. Most of the products they release aren’t highly designed to be displayed to the world, they are however usually highly functional devices that allow easy access to the digital world. You would think that if Google launched a media device, they follow suit with the likes of ROKU (and even Apple) and come up with a very low profile device that will ‘enhance’ your living room experience rather than take over.

It’ll be interesting to see where all of this leads. An Apple TV seems more and more like a very real possibility as TV’s start becoming cheaper and devices like these lending TV’s to be less of a cable consumption device and more of a multimedia/digital/internet consumption devices.

May Recap | A Book A Week In 2012

May was a tough month for reading. The sun came out, the birds started chirping and the amount of time spent inside reading seemed to dwindle down. Even with the extra daylight and warm weather, I managed to stay on track. Five months down, seven to go.

 

The Picture of Dorian Gray

This was one of the more difficult books to finish so far this year. Mainly because it just wasn’t that entertaining. I picked it up because I knew roughly the story behind Dorian Gray. There is a painting of Dorian and the painting starts to age while Dorian stays looking young.

It sounded really interesting but Oscar Wilde takes 3/4 of the book to get to any of the ‘good’ stuff. The majority of the book is about the painter, his friend and Dorian…a bunch of rich guys in old world London. They spend their time going to dinner parties and talking about nothing of any real substance.

It isn’t until the last quarter of the book that you find the real meat of the story, when Dorian becomes obsessed with the painting as he spirals out of control, living a seedy life of sin just to see how those sins are projected onto the painting. The ending is quick, to the point and great. The problem is getting to the ending is a chore.

 

 

The Headhunters

Jo Nesbo is one of my new favorite writers. His style is similar to Stiegg Larsson (it helps that his stories also take place in Sweden) so if you enjoyed the Millenium trilogy, you’ll probably also enjoy Nesbo’s books.

This one is coming out as a movie soon, so it prompted me to read the book before I see the movie (which I will). This is the second book by Nesbo that I’ve read and this one held up just as well as the first. The Headhunters is a story about a recruiter, an executive recruiter (headhunter) and an art thief. Very similar to The Thomas Crown Affair in that you have a successful businessman who also steals art. That’s probably the only connection between the two stories but it’s a good plot to start with nonetheless. In this story, the main character ends up stealing from the wrong person and people around him end up getting killed and he struggles to stay alive as he’s chased by the man he stole from.

This is a great story, quick, fun and easy to read. I have high hopes for the movie but we’ll see how it stands up.

 

 

Unbroken

Unbroken is an amazing story of a WWII bomber whose plane crashes in the Pacific and who eventually survives on a raft for over 40 days! It’s amazing to even consider anything remotely close to that. He eventually finds land unfortunately its enemy territory and he becomes a POW for over two years, enduring unbelievable conditions only to come home and be haunted by his experiences.

This is a wild ride. The story takes you from happy to sad to angry to happy back to sad and disappointed and back to happy. The author doesn’t hold back and sometimes I even found it hard to root for the guy. At other points in the book I got so disappointed for him and couldn’t BUT to cheer him on.

The person in this story went through so much, it’s hard to think twice about any of the negative things that happen in the story. It does however have a happy ending but it’s a long road to get there.

This a great book, written by Laura Hillenbrand the author of Seabiscuit. Check it out if you get a chance.

 

 

Shotgun Gravy

First things first, this is a novella, a short(er) story…it still counts.

I really like this author. I’ve read some of his fiction back in January, some of his non-fiction on writing back in December (I’m actually right in the middle of another of his books on writing at the moment as well).

This is his first novella in a series about Atlanta Burns, a teenager who’s been in trouble with the law and who is recently back in her old town. She keeps finding trouble and trouble keeps running into her. Her problem is less of trying to do the right thing, but the approach she takes in trying to resolve issues…a lot of the times she uses a shotgun to get her point across.

I think this is technically a YA book but what isn’t these days, right? If you want something a little different and quick to read, this one isn’t bad (and it’s only $.99) but there are definitely other books i’d recommend before this.

Facebook’s IPO And Why You Shouldn’t Buy

 Facebook just launched their initial public stock offering (IPO) and it is a bad stock to buy. The company is priced at its ceiling from the start. Here is an article from the Wall Street Journal talking about how even on opening day, the stock is struggling to maintain its stock price

A story ran last week on NPR quoting some investors by saying, “I missed out on Apple, I don’t want to miss out on this.’ The problem with that thinking is those are two completely different situations… Apple was a new cutting edge technology company. Facebook is a social network that has been around for a while and who doesn’t have ground breaking technology or even an ad model that works, which is how they are supposed to be generating revenue. I recently read an article by Mitch Joel explaining what the frustration is with advertising with Facebook. In his article, Mitch talks about GM pulling all of their $10 million Ad budget from Facebook simply because there was no return on their ad spend.

If you look at Facebook’s ad model, it’s really just selling banner ads which 90% of the time are either ignored or a waste of money (this goes for banners on Facebook or any other media placement) the one thing Facebook does have going in their favor is they have community. Advertising on Facebook is not advertising per-se, its building up your community and creating awareness and brand loyalty. That leads me to their potential.

For Facebook to truly succeed, they should take a page from their competitor Google+. Google has a much smaller community BUT posts on G+ are indexed by search engines. That means that all that time and effort by marketing teams spent building up their community is not wasted for only their fans…that content becomes apart of the web. It’s linkable content that can e accessed by their fans and by people who don’t know about them already or people who aren’t yet fans can stumble across all the content that is being created. Here is an article from the Business Insider highlighting how Google’s ad model is out performing Facebook’s by a large margin.

If Facebook were to make this change their Ad model could change to replicate something a little more similar to Google’s textual ads and actual drive some revenue which could possibly increasing the companies valuation. If not, their stock prices and eventually the company are in for a long and bumpy ride.

April Recap | A Book A Week in 2012

April came and went and I’m still on track. I did stumble early on in the month, especially with the weather warming up and so many outdoor activities calling my name, but I recovered and still plugging away. Take a look below at what I read in April.


The Long Run
Short and sweet (I finished it in a day). This was a Kindle single that caught my eye, I love the cover image. It does a lot in conveying a message about what the story is going to be like.

Its a crazy story about a alcoholic/drug addict who switches additions from drugs and alcohol to running. Not just jogging and an occasional 5k, but ultra-marathons…as if a marathon isn’t long enough. The author is doing 100 mile runs and 50 mile trail runs…some crazy stuff. It’s a pretty good read and worth the price ($1.99) and time to read.

 


The Hunger Games
I broke down and read it. Every one said it was good. My wife said it was good. The movie came out and we were supposed to go see it. So I read it and well…it was good. It’s a trilogy, (not an 800 book epic like Harry Potter that would end up consuming my reading list) and the story isn’t quite as young adult-ish as some books (like Harry Potter – I didn’t read this btw). Actually looking back, there is very little about the book that is ‘young adult’. This was a novel for adults that a younger audience could also enjoy…how about that!?

Its about a girl in a dystopian future where every year they hold the ‘Hunger Games’ where a boy and girl from each district have to battle it out to the death among other boys and girls from other districts. Its not an entirely new concept. There seem to be a number of books that address the same lottery type life or death situation that this book portrays. But even still, it was a good book. I’d even go so far as to recommend it. There are three books in the series and I can only vouch for this one so far but its worth the time.

 


Six Pixels of Separation
I think this quote best sums up the book.

In this world of interconnectedness, the bigger question is , how are you going to spread your story, connect and add value to your life and the people whose lives you touch? How are you going to explore your network to grow your net worth? how are you going to add tremendous value to a brand, product, or service that can always be made cheaper and faster by someone else? how are you going to connect and stay connected?

Everyone is connected. Connect your business to everyone.

Read the full review here

 


Savage Season
Savage Season is the first book in Joe R. Lansdale’s ‘Hap and Leonard’ series. It seems like an interesting series. “Start with two best friends who practice martial arts in their free time: one a straight white guy, the other a black gay guy.” That’s pretty different right?

In the first installment Hap’s ex-wife comes around and pulled the two friends into a scheme to find some lost stolen money that her new husband found out about while doing some time in prison. It sounded like an easy way to make some good money but the two heroes find themselves in the middle of

Six Pixels of Separation | a book review

Here is an ultra brief recap. You need to monitor your brand. There are a plethora of tools (free tools) that allow you to proactively monitor yourself and your brand that make it so easy and critical that you cant afford not to.

“people are confused about the meaning of the word ‘branding’. Branding is not the logo, the brochure, or the email. Branding is the heart and soul of a business-and of the people who make up that business. Branding is what the company (or person) ‘is’.”

So what is your brand? That’s the main theme in this book, finding what your brand is and utilizing the wide range of tools available to ensure that you/your brand is taking advantage of what is available to you.

“There are three main reasons why all of us need to nurture our personal brands:
1. to add more value to our lives
2. to make more connections and build our personal network and community
3. to increase our business opportunities”

It’s also about recognizing that what you say and do on the Internet will affect you. If not today then tomorrow or at some point down the road. The long tail of the Internet has prove that content is king and everything is indexed by Google. So be smart about it.

The book is more geared towards business people or entrepreneurs who don’t know much about the Internet. I found myself reading the book and thinking to myself, yea, I.already know this.

For example, a lot of the principles he talks about are similar to what Seth Godin talks about in tribes….creating that strong community of followers who are passionate about what you do.

On a more positive side, he does tell.some interesting stories about his interactions with other Internet,marketing big wigs.

In the end, Mitch is trying to impress the idea that everyone is connected. Social media and the Internet allow you to do anything and promote yourself or your business to the masses with little or no costs involved.

“In this world of interconnectedness, the bigger question is , how are you going t spread your story, connect and add value to your life and the people whose lives you touch? How are you going to explore your network to grow your net worth? how are you going to add tremendous value to a brand, product, or service that can always be made cheaper and faster by some one else? how are you going to connect and stay connected?

Everyone is connected. Connect your business to everyone.”

So should you read this? Are you very familiar with digital marketing? If you are, I’d say pass. Partly because the book is a little dated (one of my favorite lines in the book was at the time he wrote this, Facebook was valued around $15 million….they were just valued recently for $100 billion) and partly because if you’ve read other book on the topic, some of this may seem a bit redundant. On the other hand, if you’re not familiar with this topic and even better, if you have a business that could benefit from some digital marketing. This would be a good course on what to do.