An Old Classic: The Dixon Ticonderoga Pencil

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My son Jacob is starting to work long division in his Math class in 4th grade. It is a source of some painful memories as I remember how much I struggled with it. In retrospect, this is funny because I went on to get a degree in Math.

However, I rediscovered a critical tool in my studies, the Dixon Ticonderoga pencil as pictured above. This was the ultimate math tool that I used through college. It always felt good in my hand, had a amazing eraser, and it always sharpened up so nicely. Simply stated, this is just plain better than any pencil. We bought a box for use at home, and it sure is canceling out the pain of reliving long division.

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Samsung Galaxy Note: Cool Phone!

Samsung Galaxy Note at CES 2012

Perhaps one of the most compelling announcements at the CES event last week was the Samsung Galaxy Note phone.  Their pitch was that this larger form factor phone removes the need to carry a tablet (e.g. iPad) and a phone.  The picture to the right highlights some of the key features.  The most prominent is the presence of a pen/stylus which enables the ability to do very precise drawing and sketching.  It’s thin profile and very soft display make it very easy to use (on the eyes, that is).

Caricatures on the Samsung Galaxy Note

The photo on the right was taken in the concourse of the Las Vegas Convention Center.  People were lined up hundreds deep to get their caricature done by a professional artist on the Galaxy Note.  It was arguably one of the most popular exhibition of the show.  I think it’s a neat device that will probably do well this year.

Here’s a link to their promo on YouTube.

Here’s a blog post with some of the technical details, including lack of an actual release date in the US.

Going Light at CES with Twitter

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CES is over for me. I am on the plane home, and I thought I’d share the experience I had that made CES better. The problem I faced was needing to make notes quickly that could be connected to photos. After all, there’s a huge crowd and you don’t want to get run over!

On Day 2 I started using my Twitter app on my iPhone and used Twitter to briefly annotate pictures. At the end of the day it afforded me the opportunity to review my tweets so I could summarize the day in more detail. A tweet was just enough information to jog the memory. Day 3 I went light and it was much more enjoyable — my iPhone and my business cards were all I needed! If I go next time, it will be so much easier.

Fitbit – A Cool New Wellness Gadget

There are a million and one gadgets to help with various aspects of your healthcare, not to mention a variety of ways to track that information online. I’ve tried a few, both personally, and as a part of my job, and none of them has really stuck.
Last September, I was at a business dinner and heard about Fitbit. This gentleman shared his story on how easy access to the data was a strong motivating factor in his journey to change his habits and overall wellness. Fitbit is a system that combines a device and a web-based system to track movement, calories burned and distance traveled. As a data junkie, I initially thought that getting access to this data would really change behavior. I was right. 20 pounds lost and more to come!
If you are getting started on getting fit and want to easily track progress, the Fitbit is as about as good as it gets. I see that there are more Fitbit devices being launched at CES this week. I plan to check them out! And I will use my Fitbit to see how much I walk this year at CES. Hope I don’t run out of battery since I forgot my charger!

CES: Getting Ready

I am on my way. The Delta flight I am on has some free WiFi service as a promotion for CES, but it’s mighty slow. Oh well. I am due to arrive in a couple of hours on the show floor. Comfortable shoes — check! This could be a 20,000 step day.

This is my second trip to this event. My first came in 2009 when the big TV ruled, and 3D was beginning to show up on the scene. I remember being skeptical that it would take off in the home, and I was pretty much right.

This year it looks like health and wellness technologies are big this year, plus a steady diet of TVs that are connected. I should also see lots of tablets or ultra thin laptops. It will also be interesting to see how Microsoft’s presence has changed (and some speculation about the future).

I am armed with a number of requests from colleagues to scout some very specific things, so I should be busy for the next few days. I hope to blog a little while I am there.

Hope my shoes hold up!

Looking Forward to 2012

Here I am on the Monday night before returning to work after a great break to end a successful 2011.  I just read an email from my boss reminding me of the challenges ahead in the coming year.  Like most companies, there are still a number of uncertainties in the business environment that is influencing our strategy for 2012.

Even in this environment, management still wants more.  I guess you have a couple of choices as a leader — either find something else to do, or get creative and find ways to get more results.  I was inspired before the break by a great post from Dorie Clark in the Harvard Business Review blog.

It seems to me we can find some productive cycles by asking ourselves what we should stop doing and replace them with more meaningful and productive activities.  Ms. Clark shares five great ideas of things to remove from the repertoire.  The concepts are remarkably simple, but difficult to implement.

Suffice it to say, this Top 5 list is now tacked to my wall.