NHL Rivals 2004 Review

Ed Kaim posted a great review on NHL Rivals 2004 The artistic renditions were enough to win me over as a fan. Especially for the “Hard Hitting Action!”. I cracked up at that.

It got me thinking about how far along video hockey games have come since my brother and I used to play when we were kids. I particularly remember our fascination with “Blades of Steel” and the “AWESOME” graphics. We thought they were the greatest. Well and I guess at the time they were.

Now that I look back on things I think we may have been overreacting…



Now compare those lovely screenshots to this! Times certainly are a changing!

Ahh we were just kids (I turn 27 this week – eep!!) what did we know about graphics and quality. Shane thinks it may have something to do with the phosphorous plant that was operating across the harbour. He may be right! But damn did we ever have fun.

Done and Done

It was a crappy evening so Shane and I didn’t bother to head out of town for the weekend as was originally planned. We were both wiped after a pretty busy/stressful week so it kind of worked out for the best.

The good news is that it allowed me to actually finish my Christmas shopping. I think this is the first year of my life that I actually finished up early. Its a pretty well known fact amongst those that know me best that I HATE SHOPPING. Therefore I usually put it off till the absolute last minute – thus making the experience all the less enjoyable. The only store I get excited walking into is a bookstore – anything else I typically leave to Shane. Another thing that makes him the perfect companion.

Anyhoo in honour of this tremendous experience of having all my shopping done early, I have compiled the following festive treat:

Twas 2 weeks before Christmas and I had to go shopping,
But reports from my friends told me all stores were hopping.

I thought to myself, oh my God could it be?
Another shopping experience – Oh Lord please not me!

But then I remembered – oh my thoughts were all wrong.
There was Ebay and Apple and oh yes Amazon!!

I avoided the malls, lineups, checkouts and tears.
I laughed as I purchased great gifts without fear.

With the click of a button I was glad to be done.
Not a gift remaining, Now on with the fun!

And on that note…Merry Christmas Everyone!!!!

Storing Ideas

There is an interesting post on the Fast Company blog regarding where people get ideas and more specifically…how they deal with them.

Most of the people commenting are saying that paper systems are the way to go. The original poster even discusses a neat system whereby ideas are written on small blocks of paper in one pocket and transferred into another for later review. Great system! But it would never work for me.

The whole point of any such system is that it be one that would actually be used. If it?s not convenient and natural – it won’t be used often enough to be effective.

Anything that involves storing information on paper generally doesn’t work for me. No matter what the size is, it clutters my desk, gets bundled in my pockets, gets lost, takes too long to shred when I am done with it etc…

I use OneNote for virtually all my notes, research and brain dumps now. I have developed a system that fits me just perfectly and it?s so natural to use I don’t even have to think about it.

I know some of you might be saying that I might not always have a computer with me…but for the most part (in a kind of sad way) that is not true. At a minimum I have it anywhere I would have a pen and paper with me. I work with my tablet next to me, I relax with it next to me, and yes I even sleep with it next to me. Unless I am driving (at which point it?s likely behind the front seat of my car) it is pretty much always with me. Hmm this is sounding more pathetic as time goes on. Ah well I am 100% geek and I love it.

OneNote is great for research, as my boss has discovered. I love how it appends the URL of any thing you find on the web within your notes. Thus letting you focus on tracking down good information – not worrying about how you will reference it later.

The note flags in OneNote are great and customizable – plus you can apply them as you work and later reference a summary screen with all of them – thus saving you the stress of keeping track of them yourself. I am working on a small tutorial on how to use these and other One Note features which I will probably have up on my new site this weekend (been real lazy). If not just email me and I will send along to you or answer any questions you might have.

Not Just Buzzness as Usual

When did talking over your customers’ heads become a wise thing to do? I completely agree that certain words stimulate better reactions in specific audiences however it amazes me how many people just don’t GET it when it comes to communicating with their customers.

The goal should always be to help your clients – not confuse them. Some people have different opinions on how far you should go to help a client. I think that as long as you are not sacrificing your business, you should go the distance.

Helping a customer doesn’t mean giving them everything for free or a discount. Helping a customer is giving them a clear concise message about what they need to do to make their problem go away. Most customers appreciate honesty and similarly I have noticed that more poor customer experiences are a result of too little information rather than of a price dispute.

If I bring my car into the dealership because it’s making a weird noise, I want them to fix it. I don’t care what parts they use to do it. I just want to know that A) its going to be fixed B) its going to be fixed in 4 hours and C) it will cost me $xxx.xx to get it fixed. That’s it. I don’t expect them to do it for free or a discount but I do expect them to do what they said they were going to do.

You should talk WITH your customers. Talking with your customers implies a two way converation. Two way conversations are nice and go a little something like this:

—————————————————————

You: Hey, how’s it going?

Customer: Terrible

You: Really? What seems to be the problem?

Customer: I just don’t understand why I am losing so much business in “X” area. The group there is working round the clock and still can’t meet our customer demands. I don’t know what is going on.

You: Really? Is this a new development or has this always been a problem?

*** Conversation continues on for a while with exchanges from both parties and then LATER THAT SAME CONVERATION… ***

Customer: Wow you are right! By clearing up the [real problem] in our “y” department, the guys over in “x” would be much better able to perform their jobs and wouldn’t be spending some much time [cleaning up the mess from “y” department]. I can’t believe I didn’t think of that before.

You: Don’t worry about it – that’s what I am here for. I have seen this situation a lot. There are a couple of ways I think this could be done. I think the best alternative in your situation would be to [buy my product] but you could also try [my other product] if you think it might be easier to implement. I can drop by later to give you a little demo and discuss what would be involved here.

(In other words…”I understand your problem and I CAN HELP YOU”)

Customer: Ok drop by tomorrow at 3.

(In other words…”finally someone that can HELP ME”)

————————————————————

Sometimes an actual peer-to-peer dialogue can’t take place but it is still important to dig a little deeper to hit on the real issues that matter to your customers. Don’t talk over their heads. Not many business managers or owners are going to purchase something that they don’t understand. If they do once…they might not be around for any repeat sales down the road.

Most customers are “customers” for a reason. In other words, if they knew everything you did about your product – they wouldn’t need you because they would probably make it themselves.

They don’t care if you are going to proactively implement end-to-end result driven best practices that revisit your core competencies and create 24/7 value-added solutions that improve your bottom line by the end of the day. They just want you to solve their problem.

So in summary, if you can’t talk WITH your customers, at least talk TO them. Just don’t do what so many companies these days seem to fail on, and talk OVER their heads. Sometimes the only buzz phrase you need is “I can help you solve that”.

Banks!!

Internal Server Error

The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.

Please contact the server administrator, you@your.address and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.

More information about this error may be available in the server error log.

———————————-

I got the above message when I tried to log into my bank account – you really have to love it when companies take such time to personalize their error messages to offer that extra level of service. If they don’t have time to update their server messages – makes you wonder what else they didn’t have time to do or forgot.

Where Have the Xbox Ads Gone??

Ok just like Superbowl, one can always count on the Christmas season to unleash a pile of cool new ads. Being an advertising freak I look forward to this sort of thing. (It could be worse…Shane watches ads to dictate to me things like what fonts are being used…what a weirdo!)

Anyways I can’t help but notice that Playstation 2 is eating up the airwaves and Gamecube is holding a respectable second. But Xbox ads are virtually non-existent. At least here in Eastern Canada (although 95% of our TV channels/advertisements are American anyways so that doesn’t really matter). So it brings me to wondering….where’s the love?

I certainly do not claim to be an expert in the entertainment/gaming industry but I am pretty sure that now (actually 2 months ago) would be a good time to be flooding the airwaves with cool new ads that get kids/teens screaming “I WANT THAT”. Especially considering all the cool new exclusive games that are being launched for this season. Not to mention most game bundles are coming with a free LIVE! subscription – which is a huge value add for most consumers.

A lot of parents enter electronics stores shell-shocked. They know their kid wanted a gaming machine but have no idea how they all stack up against each other. The kids are either going by what their friends have or what they saw on TV.

Shane and I have had our Xbox for just over 2 years now. We got it almost as soon as they came out. At that time, a lot of consumers I know were dazzled by the hype that was being created but tended to favour Playstation for its game selection. Now Xbox has a HUGE selection of games and more and more are coming out with LIVE! support to even further enhance the user experience. SO it leads me to ask…where’s the hype now??? Am I missing all the ads? Is it a budget issue? Are any of you guys seeing much in the way of advertising? I admit I don’t watch THAT much television but still.