Friday, September 30, 2011

Best phone toys so far this year

I've worked remote or had remote direct reports since 1994 so communication devices are something that are not an option but critical to my job.  Plus I love new technology so the new stuff I tend to gravitate toward are things the meet both of these needs.  So far this year I've gotten a couple of new toys that I thought I would share.

A few months ago a bought the new Jabra Freeway in-car Bluetooth speakerphone system.  I have a car that didn't come with an integrated phone system and I've been using a Jawbone headset since they were first released years ago.  But that all has changed.  The Freeway is an excellent unit, with dual microphones allowing for ambient noise cancellation and a three-speaker listening device with plenty of pop.  Plus you can route the sound to your FM radio if you want to share the call via your audio system.  At around $115 it's not the cheapest, but it's a great investment if you spend a lot of time in your car taking calls.

The home office needed a new phone system so we did the normal churn of walking though all of the options.  We ended up with the Panasonic KX-TG4644. Granted, it's been quite a few years since I've bought an office or home phone, but I've been just blown away by the performance and features of this unit.  It seamlessly integrates with my CenturyLink voicemail system, has great sound clarity and range, and also allows for use of up to two cell phones via Bluetooth connection.  Plus, this little gem will work during a power outage, drawing power from the phone unit in the base while you can use any of the other three extensions. At around $120 it's on the higher end, but I've been extremely happy with it and expect it to meet my needs for years to come.

Very excited about the potential I'm hearing about the iPhone5.   While speed increases are always welcome, the potential of expanded voice recognition is something I'm really looking forward to.  With the increase in the use of text messaging for business, the ability to speak a text is a pretty cool feature and will keep your eyes on the road.  Don't know if that feature will be backward compatible with my iPhone4, but I see a 5 in my future.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Just when you thought print was dead....

Last week was a great one for me.  I started out in Chicago at Graph Expo and got a chance to catch up with a lot of vendor friends as well as representatives from all of the Blurb Global Print network, including our newest member from Australia (yep, OZ folks, you will soon be getting books printed in-country!). Walking the show floor and talking with folks from throughout the industry, there is still a real buzz about what is possible.  If you weren't in the industry you would likely think that a print show in 2011 would be like a death march.  And don't get me wrong, it's a tough world out there.  But to see the pace at which enlightened printers are looking to expand their horizons via social media, just-in-time manufacturing, and direct-to-consumer fulfillment is very encouraging.  A new generation of print service providers have learned that they can compete against the big guys by being agile, creative, and customer oriented.  Anyone who thinks there is not a major move in progress hasn't paid attention to the grassroots groundswell that is happening around industry groups like Dscoop, who threw a great party on Monday night by the way.

Then I was off to New York City for the Photography Book Now awards party.  Held this year in the center of creative photo expression at the Aperture Foundation, this year's entrants were stunning. And making the hard decisions on winners is a task I'm glad is not mine.  The winner, Gomorrah Girl by Italian photographer Valerio Spada, was an offset printed book not published by Blurb, a proud reminder of the independence our judges bring to the competition. But Valerio's book was just the tip of the iceberg.  Seeing the attendees handling, inspecting, and, yes, smelling the volumes of ink-on-paper proves something that a digital display will never give--a physical, personal relationship with the author's vision. It was a great night not just for the winners, many of whom made the trek to New York from around the world, but for all the lovers of art objects that attended as well.

I finished the week feeling refreshed about the print business.  From seeing new, excited participants entering the print industry at Graph Expo, to rubbing shoulders with emerging artist/authors less than half my age at PBN, I know that print is alive and well.  Like any changing industry, print must adapt to the times and I'm happy to say that the great people engaged in just that bode for a very exciting future.