Why is my six-year-old PC faster than my work laptop?

About six years ago I built my own PC. To this day it outstrips any work machine I’ve ever had. Why is this?

The PC is nothing extraordinary. It’s built around an AMD XP2100 processor on an Asus A7S333 mobo, with 750MB of Crucial RAM, running Windows 2000. When I put it together it was screamingly fast – about as fast as a PC got then. But compared to any work machine I’ve had in the intervening years - mainly from Dell or HP – it’s still, well, screamingly fast.

I notice it particularly on searches. I try to keep my work as organised as possible but often, when working across accounts, you need to look for files according to someone else’s idiosyncratic filing system. Google Desktop is great for looking by search term, but if you need to do it by filename, well forget it. It’s sluggish in the extreme. Yet my own PC at home rifles through thousands of files in the blink of an eye.

It gets worse if you change applications. I know apps get cached and they speed up the more you use them but I can switch to a browser after doing any other work at home painlessly. So why do I have to wait for several seconds while my work machine thinks about it? Why can I load up apps like Photoshop instantly at home, but it takes a minute or two of painful loading at work?

Is it Windows XP? Is it really so bloated that higher spec machines run more slowly with it than lower spec machines running Win2K? Or is it the preference of UK companies to provide their employees with the lowest spec machines possible?

I’m seriously considering overclocking my laptop at work. At least it’d keep my lap warmer, even if for a shorter period of time.

Technorati tag: Add to GoogleAdd to BloglinesAdd to TechnoratiSubscribe by RSSSubscribe by email

BlinkList | Blogmarks | Digg | Del.icio.us | Ekstreme Socializer | Feedmarker | Furl | Google Bookmarks | ma.gnolia | Netvouz | New PR | RawSugar | Reddit | Scuttle | Shadows | Simpy | Spurl | Technorati | Unalog | Wink | Yahoo MyWeb2

An Englishman, Scotsman, Irishman and Welshman get into a French car…

… and a Peugeot advertising exec says: Bugger.

If the Rugby World Cup pans out according to form, none of those nations will progress to the semis. Perhaps Peugeot should have considered including a Kiwi or a Springbok in its advertising just to spread that bet:

Apologies to any readers who actually thought there was going to be a joke at the end of that title. I doubt anyone at Peugeot is laughing either.

Technorati tag: Add to GoogleAdd to BloglinesAdd to TechnoratiSubscribe by RSSSubscribe by email

BlinkList | Blogmarks | Digg | Del.icio.us | Ekstreme Socializer | Feedmarker | Furl | Google Bookmarks | ma.gnolia | Netvouz | New PR | RawSugar | Reddit | Scuttle | Shadows | Simpy | Spurl | Technorati | Unalog | Wink | Yahoo MyWeb2

For the first time ever people think ‘Apple’ more than ‘Microsoft’

For the first time ever, in the UK, people are seeking more information about Apple than Microsoft, and it looks like the world is about to follow.

A couple of weeks back I posted my findings after playing around with Google Trends. One of these was, to me, astonishing: when plotting Apple vs Microsoft, the Google Trends chart search volume chart – that is, the number of people looking for each term – showed that Apple had, for the first time ever, overtaken Microsoft. Moreover this was at the end of a clear trend showing Apple closing the gap over the past three years. This implied that people are hunting out information more about Apple than Microsoft.

I posted, sat back, and waited for the comments to flood in. But this didn’t cause much of a stir. I was surprised because I think it’s highly significant. Perhaps I shouldn’t have ‘buried’ the finding in a post about Google Trends, or maybe I was slightly frivolous in investigating the effect the Cadbury’s ‘Drumming Gorilla’ was having on Phil Collins record sales.

So, I’m returning to it and looking more closely. Here’s the chart as it stands today:

 

My interpretation: since the beginning of 2004, in the UK, there has been a gradual closing of the gap between people searching for news about Apple (red) and Microsoft (blue), and Apple would appear to have supplanted Microsoft in the past two weeks. In the third quarter of 2007 we see this crossing for the first time. This is not a temporary reaction to the iPhone, and it would seem news of the Microsoft fine in the EU has had little effect. Furthermore, the chart for all regions shows a similar trend but Apple doesn’t quite seem to have crossed over yet:

In both examples the lower chart shows the amount of times the topic appeared in Google News. This shows less of a change: it would seem that Microsoft still generates more news than Apple overall, even though there are occasional switchovers.

Let’s look at more analysis, Steve Rubel-style. Firstly, Blogpulse:

 

This tells me that consistently, over the past six months, in all regions, people have been posting more about Apple (it also shows that typical, tell-tale weekly cycle in which people have better things to do that post on their blogs at weekends!). So people have always been more interested in talking about Apple, but, according to Google Trends, they’re also more interested in seeking out information about the company too.

What else does Steve Rubel do? (Yes, it’s true, I have no original thought). Oh yes – Technorati, Land of the Free.  Below, we have Microsoft, then Apple, over the past six months, in all languages:

To my eye this looks like a close-run thing but I would say this implies there is more posting about Microsoft than Apple? Hmmmm.

So in short, we seem to have three plottable activities: news coverage in Google News; the amount people post; and the amount people search.

News coverage seems fairly constant, and Microsoft ‘outcovers’ Apple. Blog posting seems a little inconclusive: Blogpulse indicates more posting about Apple, whereas Technorati looks more like Microsoft.

But the Google Trends is very revealing about what people are looking for. Apple has turned the tables on Microsoft, as part of a clear trend over the past three years. 

Apple is on people’s minds more than Microsoft for the first time ever.

Technorati tag: Add to GoogleAdd to BloglinesAdd to TechnoratiSubscribe by RSSSubscribe by email

BlinkList | Blogmarks | Digg | Del.icio.us | Ekstreme Socializer | Feedmarker | Furl | Google Bookmarks | ma.gnolia | Netvouz | New PR | RawSugar | Reddit | Scuttle | Shadows | Simpy | Spurl | Technorati | Unalog | Wink | Yahoo MyWeb2

The Power150 is knackered

Has anyone else noticed this? All the Technorati figures are at ’1′ as at midnight on 28 September.

I noticed this several hours ago. I assumed it would be fixed. It isn’t.

If you’re going to put yourself – and, now it’s been adopted by Ad Age, your brand – on the line then for heaven’s sake make sure you’re accountable. Guys, you’re in the public domain. Even if it’s not your fault you need to say so.

EDIT: It’s fixed now, as at Sunday evening. But it was borked all Friday and most of Saturday.

Technorati tag: Add to GoogleAdd to BloglinesAdd to TechnoratiSubscribe by RSSSubscribe by email

BlinkList | Blogmarks | Digg | Del.icio.us | Ekstreme Socializer | Feedmarker | Furl | Google Bookmarks | ma.gnolia | Netvouz | New PR | RawSugar | Reddit | Scuttle | Shadows | Simpy | Spurl | Technorati | Unalog | Wink | Yahoo MyWeb2

Creativity is more creative with limits

I’ve been involved with several brainstorming sessions recently. I’m not convinced they work, because people’s brains are too big.

The idea is that everyone can say anything, and that by doing so, we give the session handler lots of ideas to sift through. But I think people find this intimidating. They go blank. They get scared. It’s the equivalent of the copywriter’s nightmare brief: I want you to say anything, about anything, anytime. Given that the human brain has from 10 billion to 100 billion neurons, suddenly everything, about everything, kicks in. It’s too much.

Parameters need to be set. The book Creativity in PR gives a great example of the creativity continuum: think of the most ridiculous thing you could do, and the most conservative. Between those two extremes, your answer lies.

So, let’s take an example. Let’s imagine we’re promoting, oh I don’t know, pluck something out of the air, desks. Wooden desks. A company produces wooden desks and wants coverage. Its messaging is that its desks are sturdy which gives them longevity. 

What’s the most ridiculous thing we can think of? Put an elephant on one – really, an actual elephant – and see if the desk holds up. Make it a pink elephant. Paint that elephant pink. Put a tutu on it. Do it in Hyde Park at rush hour. Employ a ringmaster to shout about it. Metro would love it.

The least ridiculous? The most mainstream? An expert opinion on how important it is for a desk to be leanworthy. Because you don’t just use a desk to work on. You lean on it. I bet you’re leaning on your desk right now reading this. Metro might like that. Heck, even Horizon might feature it nowadays.

They could both work, but the former pushes the envelope – and, needless to say, the elephant – and is probably not right for a stolid desk manufacturer. The latter might get some coverage but is really quite dull.

So we can now operate somewhere between a be-tutued pink elephant in Hyde Park, and an expert in a broom cupboard with a comb-over commenting on desk sturdiness. Suddenly, people have an area in which to operate. They know what they’re trying to achieve, and the limits – yes, limits, even though it’s brainstorming – within which to operate.

I’m going to try this in my next brainstorming session. As soon as I see those eyes glaze over in panic, I’m going to set the extremes. People may look at me as if I’m a nutter, but that wouldn’t be for the first time.

Technorati tag: Add to GoogleAdd to BloglinesAdd to TechnoratiSubscribe by RSSSubscribe by email

BlinkList | Blogmarks | Digg | Del.icio.us | Ekstreme Socializer | Feedmarker | Furl | Google Bookmarks | ma.gnolia | Netvouz | New PR | RawSugar | Reddit | Scuttle | Shadows | Simpy | Spurl | Technorati | Unalog | Wink | Yahoo MyWeb2

Tech PR Copywriting: The whole of feedback can be greater than the sum of its parts

Today, copywriting, and the lot of a copywriter when presented with negative feedback.

It’s not often you get a piece totally right first time. You can be as thorough as possible with the copy brief, but you’ll find from time to time that people prefer to see a written piece before they really start to think about what’s required. And when I say ‘people’, I mean separate individuals: they will all review it, independently, and add what they think are a few comments. In toto however, this becomes a wash of revision marks and comments, and when they return to the copywriter they can be very dispiriting.

Everyone reads something and thinks they can add to it. In fact, I think they feel compelled to do so, because it’s a direct message. It doesn’t have the ambiguity or interpretation of an image: it’s something more tangible, something they are actually ‘saying’, through you, to the world. Naturally everyone involved wants to comment, even if just to put their mark on it.

So far, I’ve articulated the reason. But emotionally, for a copywriter, it’s hard. Even if you write a fairly routine piece, you put something of yourself into it. Even if it’s just a standard contract win press announcement, when changes come back, it’s a knock-back.

You have to keep in mind, always, that you’re working for the client. You have to understand that non-positive feedback is not necessarily negative: it just means it’s different. If you believe you’re right, you must say so and give reasoning. If the client disagrees, you get one, maybe two shots at convincing them otherwise, but at the end of the day you have to give the client what they are happy with, whether or not you personally believe it’s right. You will get it right second, maybe third time around.

You have to be like a brain surgeon. Effectively you’re plunging into someone else’s brain and finding out what’s in there. Sometimes you have to do this dispassionately.

I digress. How does a copywriter handle difficult feedback? Professionally, with distinction. Personally, with difficulty.

Technorati tag: Add to GoogleAdd to BloglinesAdd to TechnoratiSubscribe by RSSSubscribe by email

BlinkList | Blogmarks | Digg | Del.icio.us | Ekstreme Socializer | Feedmarker | Furl | Google Bookmarks | ma.gnolia | Netvouz | New PR | RawSugar | Reddit | Scuttle | Shadows | Simpy | Spurl | Technorati | Unalog | Wink | Yahoo MyWeb2

Putting the tech into tech PR

Do you have to know about tech to do tech PR? I’m hoping not, because hardly anyone seems to know hardly anything.

My background is fairly techy I guess. I had a ZX81, and a ZX Spectrum. I did a degree in IT. I’ve been a programmer at a large bank (lasted about six months), a technical author for a financial software house, a designer at a multimedia hardware company, and a publications manager for another financial software house.

So, whereas I wouldn’t say I’m deeply into tech, it’s always been around me. I just enjoy it. I especially enjoy the creativity it affords me (I’m also into home-based music production based on a PC - warning, yes, this is me, download of about 6.5MB MP3). And, in turn, it gives me an appreciation of what I’m writing about, or the nature of the messages we’re trying to promote.

But it often strikes me that the people I work alongside know diddly squat about it. As in, almost zero knowledge, across the board. Recent episodes have involved someone wondering why it took longer for their home page to load because they’d set it to a corporate website rather than, say, a blank page or Google (yes, you see those pictures…?); being asked why I would want to save something as a separate graphic file rather than a Word file (still not sure about that one); and someone taking two hours to install a printer on their machine (how long…?).

I know there’s an argument that ‘non-technical’ people (whatever that means) might be better at tech PR because they get a new, fresh angle on what’s good about it, and the mechanics of PR should operate no matter what specialism you adopt.

But I do think there are often astonishing gaps in people’s knowledge which, to my mind, put them below the bar for truly grasping what they’re actually supposed to be talking about.

Technorati tag: Add to GoogleAdd to BloglinesAdd to TechnoratiSubscribe by RSSSubscribe by email

BlinkList | Blogmarks | Digg | Del.icio.us | Ekstreme Socializer | Feedmarker | Furl | Google Bookmarks | ma.gnolia | Netvouz | New PR | RawSugar | Reddit | Scuttle | Shadows | Simpy | Spurl | Technorati | Unalog | Wink | Yahoo MyWeb2

Stephen Fry: Tech blogger?!?!?!?!?

First there was the Salmon of Doubt. Now, Stephen Fry has totally come out as a tech blogger (although you might not be able to see this because his site is currently down, presumably as a result of traffic).

At first, I did not believe this was a real blog. The mere idea of Stephen Fry as a geek just didn’t compute. I thought it was a PR stunt. But no, his smartphones blog entry is liberally sprinkled with indisputable Fryisms: “to predicate a useful Platonic ideal”; “my dear, have you seen the E61 and E61i?”; and signing off with “As the General Confession in the Book of Common Prayer has it, ‘I have followed too much the devices and desires of my own heart.’ Amen.” Yep, that’s Stephen Fry. Even the Guardian says so.

And his entry (that’s probably a Fryism too) is remarkably well-informed. He clearly knows his stuff. He compares and contrasts technologies, approaches and models down the years. He knows about server-side apps. He talks about inferior networks. He mentions the UIQ platform. What the hell is that?

Turns out he’s been ‘at it’ for quite some time. He’s co-author, with Douglas Adams, of the Salmon of Doubt. Adams was well known for being an uber-geek. Dawkins contributed too (I read the God Delusion on a summer holiday this year). Something tells me I must read that book: perhaps it’s a confluence of genius.

So, welcome Mr. Fry. Welcome to the blogosphere where geeks wail and nerds weep, where the panorama is one that encompasses heaven and hell like a veritable Hieronymous Bosch triptych. One thing I know: it will be interesting to see how the iPhone fares on Google Trends as a result of this.

Technorati tag: Add to GoogleAdd to BloglinesAdd to TechnoratiSubscribe by RSSSubscribe by email

BlinkList | Blogmarks | Digg | Del.icio.us | Ekstreme Socializer | Feedmarker | Furl | Google Bookmarks | ma.gnolia | Netvouz | New PR | RawSugar | Reddit | Scuttle | Shadows | Simpy | Spurl | Technorati | Unalog | Wink | Yahoo MyWeb2

The Ogilvy Blog Aggregator: Pipes across the world

I was scratching around for something interesting to say when I noticed, in my Google Docs ‘Blog ideas’ document, a passing mention of an interesting Yahoo Pipe I’d seen some time ago. So, I took a closer look – and, in the process, found the guy who’d created it.

It’s called the Ogilvy Blog Aggregator and you can see it here (although if you take a look, be careful, the Yahoo Pipes editing interface seems to have changed so you’ll need Firefox, Opera or IE7 to see it). It looks like it’s taking a load of feeds via Feedburner from other Ogilvy bloggers and mashing them up into one feed.

The reason it stood out for me was the juxtaposition of a PR company’s name – Ogilvy – alongside ‘Blog’ and ‘Aggregator’, especially when a second glance showed it to be using Yahoo Pipes.

“A PR company?” thought I. “Using a Blog Aggregator? In Yahoo Pipes? I must find out more!”

I’ve only cursorily looked into Yahoo Pipes. I created one once but then found that it tended to chuck out the same content on a daily basis, and so decided to move on rather than fix it. The feeds to the right of this page are aggregated using Google Reader, but it would be an interesting project to try and recreate them in Yahoo Pipes too.

What I like about the pipe is the innovative use of the BabelFish translator. If you haven’t used BabelFish before, it first appeared on AltaVista many moons ago and supposedly translated between languages. This it does sufficiently well to understand the gist of some text – here, for example, is a translation of the recent German comment on my Social Media Resource - but sometimes it does get it a bit wrong. To see what I mean try translating this into, say, French, then back into English.

Anyway, Giles’s pipe makes great use of BabelFish to translate content from Italian, Spanish, French and German, and it looks like this:

Isn’t she lovely? And already added to the Social Media Resource. You can see the pipe’s output by subscribing here.

I think the use BabelFish in this manner ties in with a video I recently saw on the HP Corporate TV website. In it, John Battelle hosts a discussion on the impact of Web 2.0 but what really interests me is his preamble. He talks about the move from back-office (data reports), to front-office (applications), to essentially out-of-office (the web, and back to the company), and how each era had a distinct interface mode: command-line for data; point-and-click for information; and now search for the web (which, I guess, you would class as knowledge in that it feeds information back to source and thereby provides a basis for ‘knowing’ about behaviour rather than inferring it from information). And yet, with all this sophistication, we’re back to using the command line interface for the search.

It’s my hunch that the command line search interface will continue to power the web, but that, instead of people using it, applications will reference it as a layer. So, I used to refer to BabelFish by copying and pasting some text, or referring to a website. But now, Yahoo Pipes is referring to it as a means to translation. In the same way, I’ve already seen how Photosynth uses the search analogy underlying its pictorial composition.

As for the dude who put the pipe together, he’s Giles Rhys-Jones and he’s a director at Ogilvy, London. He runs the Interactive Marketing Trends blog but he’s also pretty much all over the place too. What it must be to have a director so clued-up with this stuff…

Technorati tag: Add to GoogleAdd to BloglinesAdd to TechnoratiSubscribe by RSSSubscribe by email

BlinkList | Blogmarks | Digg | Del.icio.us | Ekstreme Socializer | Feedmarker | Furl | Google Bookmarks | ma.gnolia | Netvouz | New PR | RawSugar | Reddit | Scuttle | Shadows | Simpy | Spurl | Technorati | Unalog | Wink | Yahoo MyWeb2