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Posts Tagged ‘Apple’

Retail stores open Thanksgiving Day

Retail stores open Thanksgiving Day

It seems that the shopping season is taking over the holiday season.  Black Friday battles to save a couple dollars are giving us all a black eye!

The MINDLESS ads…  Door buster ads, “lightning” deals, Amazon Black Friday week, newspaper ads, TV ads, email ads, Facebook ads, Pinterest ads, ads embedded in blog posts and even Apple products are being advertised on discount, which is something we’ve rarely seen before.  In fact, a record number of retail stores (i.e. Best Buy, Walmart, etc.) are open on Thanksgiving Day (which means people have to work vs. share time with family)  so that consumers can buy those so-called “bargains.” 

Clearly Retailers have crossed the line, but we know the public will head to the shops.  We complain about consumerism, but there are plenty of horror stories of stampedes as shops open their doors and people fling themselves into shop ‘til you drop mode.

So, I wanted to put Thanksgiving in perspective. 

obamacare_stickerI have many things to be thankful for, most of all my family and friends.  I’m thankful for motorcycling and the ability/health to have enjoyed another year of riding my Harley across this great country.  I’m grateful for a wife who shares my passion and rides along on many adventures.  I’m thankful and appreciate my extended rider “family” who have been there with support and hugs from breakdowns to accidents.

I’m thankful for the men and women of our armed forces who are serving overseas protecting our interests.  They don’t get to spend Thanksgiving with their loved ones and I appreciate their sacrifice.  It does not go unnoticed!

We live in a country that to a great extent, still provides the promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  A place where we can freely choose to do what we want and if we’re fortunate, be able to make a living doing it.

I’m thankful that I can complain about our elected representatives, and have the ability to choose them which is a rarity in this world!  Speaking of,  I’m thankful for Barack Obama banishing boredom for millions of lives.  The ObamaCare misadventure and “apology” has caused a lot of ordinary people to question both his character and his competence.  But, I’ve digressed.

Last but not least, I’m thankful for all of you!  The readers, the subscribers and the commenters.  You allow me to do what I do on this blog.  That is the promise of America, and on this Thanksgiving holiday, it still holds true.

 I hope you have a chance to enjoy some turkey, yams, stuffing and pumpkin pie with your family and friends!

Photo courtesy of Internet Advertising.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Apple II Ad

Steve Jobs has passed away and what we’ll find over the next couple of weeks will be planned storylines about the life of Apple’s co-founder and his time in Oregon attending Reed College.

I had an article ready to post about the letdown of the iPhone 4S launch.  Given all the hyperbolic speculation and secrecy leading up to the launch I’m not sure expectations could have ever been met, but it all just feels off. Like way off today.

I did a blog post HERE last year about Steve riding on a BMW, nostalgia and my early Apple experiences.  I have very clear recollection of Apple when living in North Dakota attending college.   For awhile I worked part-time at Team Electronics (Store #30) in Bismarck.  This was circa 1977 and I distinctly remember when the first Apple II computer showed up at the store.  In college we were learning how to write BASIC programs for an Intel 4004 CPU (4-bit).  No one knew what to do with the Apple II (8-bit), but soon enough we figured out how to spent hours playing a Star-trek game (loaded by cassette tape).

Whether you love or hate Apple–or fall somewhere in between–it’s hard not to acknowledge that Steve Jobs was a remarkable and brilliant man. He’s also a man who we don’t really know a lot about in his personal life. But he’s also a man who changed a lot of lives.  Mine included and I wanted to thank him for that today.

Wozniak and Jobs in the early days

Steve Jobs clearly loved what he did and I’ve returned several times to his 2005 Stanford commencement speech, where he said:

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma–which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

I didn’t really know what my reaction would be until the moment actually came.  I’m profoundly sad today on the news of his passing.  Steve’s remarkable ability to touch every person on the planet started in Minneapolis and for me it started in 1977.  My heart goes out to his family and many friends.

Photo courtesy of Apple.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Greatest Road - iPhone App

Paper maps are essentially unmanageable on a motorcycle.  As a result many motorcyclists venture toward stand-alone handlebar-mounted GPS units that are easy to read and manipulate.  Then there are those who prefer to leverage their smart phone and Google maps.  Of course there is the debate about distracted riding of ALL kinds and whether anyone should be using GPS etc. while driving a motorcycle.

Then there are old skool riders who just hit the road and want to wander.  They wonder where they are and wander around looking for it.  To each their own because it’s about the adventure and freedom on a motorcycle.

Earlier this week I was contacted by the founder and CEO of Greatest Road Software who remarked about a couple of map/navigation apps I mention on this blog.  He suggested that I give their app a try.  I did and decided to blog about the results.

This post does not answer the question… which iPhone app is the best for use on a motorcycle?

Road Stretch Details

That is complicated.  Some riders are looking for a point A to point B mapping solution where others are looking to be part of a larger community with the intent to share route information and to rate the trip with comments and tips.  If you are in that last category then I think you’ll like “Greatest Road” as it was built to help bikers worldwide find, rate, share and comment on cool roads.   Essentially the app was designed to make the best motorcycle roads easy to find and provide routes with detailed information from other riders along with a map.

I tried the application on an Apple iPhone 3GS running iOS 4.1.

To be clear, I’m not a GPS nut or a certifyable map-aholic.  Sure I’ve used my iPhone to avoid rain and find my way, but it was to point me in a general direction.  Not for turn-by-turn instructions.

So, after downloading the small ~8MB app I open it.  Users choose a location on a map, and zoom in or out. Each road stretch has a user-generated star rating system telling you how enjoyable, twisty and scenic it is as well as what shape the surface is in.

Road Stretches - Map View

My first impressions: works well with northwest roads.  It’s easy to use and not confusing on how to set-up routes.  The user can move and zoom the map to an area you’re interested in, and the app shows road stretches nearby. You can save a complicated route in about 30 seconds and can view all other routes in your desired area… again with comments that others have uploaded.  What makes this application most interesting is the share-ability of the information, all your routes and comments are all in the same “folder” as other people have uploaded as well, for the location that you are interested in, all in the same easy digestible format.  Users can email directions to other bikers with iPhones, or send a GPX file to yourself or others to install the route on a dedicated GPS device.  Open-ended comments mean riders can share highlights or report on a hazard. In fact, most content – contributions, ratings and comments – are supplied by fellow motorcyclists.

The app is priced at $4.99 on Apple iTunes.  If that is too pricey for a full purchase commitment then I suggest the “try before you buy” section.

Look, I’m no lawyer.  I just like motorcycles and good roads to ride.  Here comes the disclaimer:  Use at your own risk as I’m not liable for the accuracy or how well the application works when you use it.

Photos courtesy of Greatest Road Software.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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The times they are a changin’… certainly in the way people get their news.  This is especially true for the youth demographic who live and breathe by their cell phones.

As a result, I’ve been noodling about how to get this blog content onto iPhones given all the web-based tools that allow developers to build an iPhone App.   It seems logical that a blogger would want to create an app for the millions of iPhone users, right?  Sure it’s easy enough to call up a blog site on the Safari browser by typing in the URL, but wouldn’t it be much easier to push an icon button on the iPhone app screen and the like magic the blog content is there on your mobile device?  Complete with rich media.  And while we’re at it how about having the ability to jump to the Flickr photos and then over to Vodpod/YouTube to watch recent video posts?

Well…drum roll please….that day is here.  I’ve developed an application and placed it on the blog (under the calendar, right side).  There are a couple methods to get this application.  With your iPhone browser go to NWHOG and click on the app icon under the calendar.  Or go directly HERE.  Once the page loads for the first time, you’ll see a pop-up that instructs you to tap the ‘+’ sign, then tap the ‘Add to Home Screen’ selection, and finally tap the ‘Add’ button, which will add your app icon to your iPhone app screen.  Tapping the icon will start the webapp.  

Some might ask, “What are you trying to accomplish with this, Mac?”  My answer is simple.  I don’t know.  Other than to make it a little easier for mobile users to get to the blog content.  Plus I needed a little science project to fill those rainy evenings — it serves no other real purpose.  But, that could define much of the internet these days…

I do believe this Harley iPhone/blog application is a first.  Who knows if this will take off.  But, I thought it was worth a post and it serves as a reminder to Harley-Davidson corporate that they really should be doing more in the area of application development to promote or connect their customer base.  Try it out and let me know how it works for you.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Steve Jobs Riding a 1966 BMW (Taken in 1982)

The word “nostalgia” is a compound from ancient Greek consisting of nóstos (”returning home”) and álgos (”ache”). Etymologies don’t get much more interesting than that if you’re into that sort of thing.

In the late 1600’s a Swiss doctor identified nostalgia as a medical disease — a kind of hypochondria of the heart. And for the next couple of centuries people went on suffering the disease without a treatment.  Then a professor of Slavic languages at Harvard named Svetlana Boym spent years studying various manifestations of nostalgia, and determined that there were two distinct types of the sensation. One she called “reflective nostalgia”, which consisted of longing for the past without denying the present. The second type she called “restorative nostalgia”, which involves inventing a tradition to make the past more coherent.

Apple II Advertisement

Nostalgia came to mind when watching a television show a couple weeks back called “Welcome to Macintosh” on Apple history.  The reflective kind, to be precise.  One enlightening part of the documentary was how the director happened across an old Apple II computer — on the internet up for bid. It wasn’t just any Apple II, but the fifth unit (S/N #5) to roll off the manufacturing line in the late 1970s.

This led the director of the film to the Twin Cities and to Wayne Wenzlaff.  Wenzlaff has long been credited with giving the still-emerging Apple its first big break. As the film puts it, “It all started in Minnesota.”  The documentary recapped how Wenzlaff picked up the film director at the Twin Cities airport and whisked him off to his Apple-related treasure trove, which included the Apple II.  Complete with an Apple-imprinted leather case from 1977 and given to Wenzlaff by none other than Mike Markkula, Apple’s original investor.  It turns out that Wenzlaff was a buyer for the since shuttered Minnesota-based Team Electronics chain of stores.   Team Electronics went on to become Apple’s first big foothold in the consumer-retail market. In addition, Wenzlaff helped Apple win its first big education-market deal, in Minnesota.

Souvenir Team Electronics Pocket Knife (circa:1977)

It’s funny.  I can’t remember what I had for lunch last Thursday, but for some reason I have a rather clear recollection of my Apple experience when living in North Dakota (“NoDak”) attending college.   For awhile I worked part-time at Team Electronics (Store #30) in Bismarck.  This was circa 1977 and I distinctly remember when the first Apple II computer showed up at the store.  No one knew what to do with it, but soon enough we figured out how to spent hours playing a Star-trek game (loaded by cassette tape).

Apple II StarTrek Screen Shot

In fact, a good buddy of mine (who also worked at Team and was partly responsible in getting me a job there) we’re talking about this documentary and he told the story of his attendance at a mini-electronics show in Minneapolis just weeks before the Apple II’s arrived in the stores.  Before the opening of the show, there was a meeting of all store reps and Team Central staff where the Apple II was going to be unveiled.   He recalled this tall guy with hair in a pony tail wearing an uncomfortable suit 10′ away — none other than a nervous Steve Jobs!   It was ground zero for the introduction of the Apple II to the Team Electronics Franchise.

The past can’t be fully recaptured, and often it never really was the way you recall it. But, this documentary delivers some laughs and I recommend it to anyone with even a vague interest in Apple.  The 1.5 hour film can viewed online HERE.  At the 12:15 minute mark is where the Wenzlaff/Team dialogue starts.  There is also a great article from the October 1982 edition of National Geographic on Silicon Valley and Jobs HERE.

Photo’s courtesy of Charles O’Rear and Apple. Pocket knife is from my tool box!

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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MAD Maps Inc.

Harley-Davidson marketing experts have consumption maps.

Basically it tracks how customers perceive the value of their products and they “map” out benefit-vs.-price along with a number of other purchasing criteria and behaviour dimensions when customers evaluate H-D products against competitors.

I’m not referring to this type tool.  Rather it’s the visual representation of what’s called a navigational map.

As motorcyclists we know firsthand about the value in a two-dimensional road map.  Especially if you’re directionally challenged like me!  Sure there are paper and digital versions and debating the merits of each has no value since they both serve a purpose.  Although some may argue that going on a road trip with a map is no way to roll.

Personally I like to have a paper map with me when I’m on a road trip.  In addition I have an iPhone and its navigation and weather applications have proved quite handy dodging rain storms.  But, now there is an iPhone app designed especially for Harley-Davidson riders by MAD Maps Inc.

In collaboration (read officially licensed product they paid $$ for!) with Harley-Davidson and tech partner Abalta Technologies, MAD Maps lets motorcyclists download electronic versions of scenic loops right to your iPhone. Users can purchase rides from a library of more than 1000 routes in the continental U.S. and rides are searchable by current location, city or state. These aren’t ordinary road maps. The company developed its maps with the help of local feet-on-the-street scouts who know the back roads.  This enables the maps to highlight the best roads, roadhouses, roadside attractions, and more which is oriented toward the motorcycle enthusiast.  Because it’s built with Harley riders in mind, the app lets you of course find the nearest H-D dealership – in case you need another black t-shirt – and the app also provides you the location of the nearest Best Western, where H-D riders get special 10% discount on overnight stays.

I down loaded the application (cost $0.99) and within moments was looking at a number of rides in and around the Oregon/Washington state area.  My first route was a Mount St. Helens ride.  You’ll be ask to set up an email/account to registered on the MAD Map servers, but it’s easy enough.  Being able to do all this from an iPhone is super convenient.  I can download a map on a moment’s notice, without having to plan ahead.  It’s important to note that with the purchase of this app it includes your choice of only five rides anywhere in the country. All additional trips/maps are $0.99 cents each.  Some of the reviews stated there are very few rides in their area.  I’m most satisfied with the rides in the northwest and see the value.

So whether you’re looking for a new adventure in your backyard or Sturgis bound and looking for a new Vanocker canyon ride, this app will have you covered.

Photo courtesy of Apple iTunes and Mad Maps Inc.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Crispin Porter & Bogusky

Crispin Porter & Bogusky

Way back in ’05 the boyz of OCC (not to be confused with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency) showed us what they do best with a Microsoft operating system crash while designing the custom choppers for America’s corporations.  Microsoft hired OCC to build their own name inspiring Microsoft SQL Bike.

Now Microsoft has been caught in out-right deceit!  Latest example? 

Microsoft’s new “Laptop Hunters” TV campaign, in which an attractive girl professes she’s not cool enough to buy an Apple laptop and goes for a cheaper Windows machine.  Within moments, it was revealed that “Lauren” (Lauren De Long) who is a little funky, a little folksy was not an average person, but a member of SAG (Screen Actors Guild) recruited from Craigslist.  Then, it became public that the $699 computer she purchased was an old AMD-based PC with super bad reviews.  Then a Mac user offered to GIVE her his own Apple PowerBook so she could see what she was missing.

In other words, if Microsoft and the ad agency think they can pull the wool over the public’s eyes, with lame excuses denying the truth, they’re wrong.  This “twitter-first-century” is about transparency.  Most important is that the Microsoft ad totally misses the point. The ad doesn’t even advertise Microsoft’s operating system (almost as if they know that they can’t compete in this arena), but oddly the ad promotes other PC hardware over Apple’s computers by talking about a price advantage.  This $300M ad campaign created by ad agency of the year, Crispin Porter + Boguksy was designed to boost the Windows brand following the downward spiral of user outrage over Vista.

Hey Microsoft.  1999 called.  It wants its motherboard back.

Photo courtesy of Creativity.

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You see it all the time…companies involved in cross-promotion or product placement deals for television and/or films.  High-tech companies are the worst in pushing products including Apple Computers, which must have a warehouse full of MacBooks for their “hired-out-for-loan” program in exchange for exposure.  From the first Tom Cruise “Mission Impossible to Fox’s “24″, Apple must outspend all other PC companies in product placement and is perhaps more active in this area than any other technology company.  Product placement has become a significant source of revenue for media companies and I would assume that manufactures compensate the producers in some manner.

I think my first exposure to product placement (that I remember) was while watching Steve McQueen steal a Triumph from the Nazis and chasing himself around the fields of Germany in The Great Escape, the finest motorcycle sequence ever filmed, in my humble viewpoint and I didn’t know for years that Bud Ekins made the big jump.

However, after recently seeing “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Crystal Skull it would seem that Harley-Davidson is joining the product placement cult.  Just like in the movie “Wild Hogs” which had both “product placement” for a physical product as well as self-promotion for a media property (Extreme Makeover – Home Edition),  when Mutt (Shia LaBeouf) speeds through the college campus with Harrison Ford riding “bitch”, it was on a Harley.  By the way I think stunt rider Lee Morrison is one of the best motorcycle riders on the planet! 

But what type motorcycles were they using?  The two-wheeled star of the movie is a 2007 Softail Springer Classic that was modified to look “period correct” — from 50 years ago.  Harley supplied Lucasfilm with the bikes and requested that they be recognizable as a Harley, however, the bike’s builder, Justin Kell, stated that he modeled them to be a postwar Knucklehead and did a lot more than just put 1955-56 tank badges on them.  Modern improvements were necessarily left intact on the motorcycles because the bikes were used to do high-speed stunts in the film.

Because of product placement deals the film had to use new bikes.  A total of five bikes were built for the film, one of which was an effects bike that was destroyed in the course of filming and two of the remaining bikes will be returned to Harley-Davidson, which plans to display them in the new motorcycle museum, opening July 12th in Milwaukee. The remaining two others were purchased by the production company.

The chase scenes move rather fast and many people won’t notice, but astute bikers likely noticed the belt drive in the campus chase scene.  Also the not-so “period correct” bikes had a disc brake on the front wheel, dual throttle cables, a “Twin Cam” engine along with modern grip/hand controls, including a starter button when it was seen being kick-started earlier in the movie.

I wonder where we’ll see Harley placement next?  To me, Wild Hogs and now Indiana Jones is a new high (or new low, depending on your perspective) in marketing strategy. I checked out the movie web site and there are plenty of games, promotions and activities to satisfy the interactive mind – expected for a film such as this. What I was surprised not to find was a tie-in to Harley-Davidson for a ‘Wreck a Hog’ simulation game, since they blatantly promote the destruction of the motorcycle in the film.   

Harley did sink rather low…I found a “Motor Wheels Mutt” licensing deal for a toy tie-in back to Harley on the Burger King site.

 

Train photo courtesy of Lucasfilms.

Motor Wheels Mutt courtesy of Burger King

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I’m not a brand expert, but brand promise (“This brand is all about….”) seems to be the corporate mantra these days on how to bond with customers and retain their loyalty.

I don’t like to admit that I’m a fan-boy for certain brands. But, I’ve come to realize that there are probably three or so that I really am devoted too.

A few of them are:

  • Apple products: I’ve really drank the Apple juice, but it is what it is. I have a work provided MacBook Pro, have a G5 iMac, multiple iPods and I’ve been pushing out an iPhone purchase because it will clash with the blueberry holster. But, a Mac Mini and Apple TV are on my holiday wish list of “need to have’s”. What it comes down to is that I spend a lot – maybe as much as half of my waking life in front of a computer. Everything needs to work well, and the peripherals and devices need to integrate with it. Apple just feels right! The products work and do what they say they will do. And if I’m feeling a little blue I can visit a store and get little moments 1-to-1 time of uplifting experiences…
  • PHD

  • Harley-Davidson: They work to deliver on a fantasy of complete freedom on the road and the comradeship of a kindred spirit for the avid motorcyclist… If you want to experience the psychology of hard-core devotion and feel the sense of anxiety that comes from not being part of the inner circle — wear your Polo Shirt, Tommy Bahama shorts and Sperry Topsider deck shoes to the next HOG wanna-bes event. Point is that each touch point in the Harley brand mates with consumers and is really organized to uniquely deliver on this promise. The Harley brand ‘essence’ has largely remained unchanged for decades. Sure they have refreshed and added different ad campaigns, but the hallmark of the company quickly describes the brand. Free spirited and rebellious associations while nurturing relationships to maintain a loyal H.O.G. community. With over 660,000 members it’s the largest motorcycle-sponsored club in the world and seems to work. I do think Harley has a looming issue of reaching the younger consumers entrenched in the internet age where the word “classic” and “tradition” have less marketing leverage. Maybe that explains why they’ve tried video games?
  • Starbucks: They are not about providing me a great cup of coffee! They do, but it’s more about providing me a great coffee “experience” and rewarding everyday moments. Lifting up my spirits one cup of coffee at a time and, looking back over my cash outlay this past month…they are doing a mighty fine job of lifting my spirits!! Similar to the Harley brand, Starbucks portrays a lifestyle image. Who hasn’t thought about what it would be like to leave the corporate 10 hour day mad-dash to become a Barista?! From napkins to paper cups, in-store posters, t-shirt designs to in-store architecture…the “Bucks” Creative Group tells a story to feed my habit all the while they put skim on my macchiato.
  • Born Shoes : I don’t buy a lot of shoes (or clothes for that matter; I’m kind of a charity case), but these shoes fit what my friends call my “techno-sporty” fashion sense. I was shooting for a cross between the Marlboro Man and REI fitness so, I’ve got some work to do in this department! I’ve been buying Born shoes for a couple years, and they have consistently been my “everyday” shoes. Do the math: that means each pair is lasting a couple years. I walk a lot and that’s a deal.
  • I’d like to be absence brand loyalty. I think everyone around has similar problems. Find someone who reacts with the “I don’t have any brand loyalty!” and I’ll bet within five minutes’ of conversation, you’ll expose:

  • Google (yeah, it’s a brand)
  • Facebook or MySpace
  • Tillamook Cheese
  • So, what are your brand loyalties?

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