How to create a free Grooveshark player in just one step

Following on from my previous post on how to create a free Grooveshark desktop player in two steps (and save yourself $3) using Mozilla Prism, this is how you can do it in just one step using Chrome.

Open up grooveshark.com in Chrome. Now click Tools>> Create Application Shortcuts

Create a free Grooveshark player in one step with Google Chrome

Now all you need to do is choose what you want – I selected a desktop shortcut. And that’s it.

Grooveshark desktop player

Thanks to Jordan Duncan for dropping this useful tip in the comments section.

Grooveshark sucks – spoils my day

Grooveshark is web-based music player that allows you to play songs that other users have uploaded. When I first discovered Grooveshark, I though it was amazing. I would hop on to find a track that I didn’t have in my collection and that I just HAD to hear. Since I use my browsers quite extensively, I decided to spring for the $3 desktop player.

 

Grooveshark logo

After downloading and installing, away I went. Except I didn’t. After choosing what I wanted to listen to, the player would simply skip through the songs in the playlist in a seemingly never ending loop. Eventually I get annoyed, close down Grooveshark and open iTunes.

Grooveshark #Fail from Lester Hein on Vimeo.

Everytime I use it, I want to punch my monitor. For now I think I’ll save my $3 and wait until the service is a bit more mature, or until something else comes along.

The Grooveshark recommendation engine also leaves a lot to be desired. The recommendations I’ve been receiving a strange to say the least – I was served a Justin Bieber track in the middle of a radio set loaded with Common and Mos Def. I think they’re trying to tell me something. Marking a track also did not fix this – the same track appeared 4 more times.

Grooveshark sucking is a real shame – I really do want to like the service. It’s a welcome introduction and I was a very vocal promoter of the service after the first few uses.

Some of Grooveshark’s faults are forgivable and will probably be improved over time – the UI needs some work and the recommendation has some way to go, but I can’t use (much less pay for) a music service that doesn’t play music!

And it seems I’m not the only one who feels this way – http://amplicate.com/sucks/grooveshark

New Nike Ad with Tiger Woods

After making more than a few bogeys with a whole lot of birdies Nike has released a new commercial featuring Tiger woods. It’s a very simple commercial and features the voice of Earl Woods, Tiger’s father asking him a few questions before he gets back in the game. The ad is a very subtle, hinting at Tiger’s personal life but not quite saying it directly. Watch the new Tiger Woods commercial here:

As an aside, doesn’t he look like the saddest man ever to hold a gold club? It’s almost as if his wife is behind the camera holding a 5 iron…

I’d be very interested to here Tiger’s answers to his father’s questions. Or see a version with some slightly different questions.

Why Product Managers should drink beer

I came across this interesting extract in a white paper and thought it was quite an apt demonstration of thinking outside of traditional paradigms in order to find the answers you need.

Canon designers knew that for the first personal copier to be suc-
cessful, it had to be reliable. To ensure reliability, they proposed to
make the product’s photosensitive copier drum—which is the source
of 90 percent of all maintenance problems—disposable. To be dis-
posable, however, the drum would have to be easy and cheap to make.
How to manufacture a throwaway drum?
The breakthrough came one day when task-force leader Hiroshi
Tanaka ordered out for some beer. As the team discussed design prob-
lems over their drinks, Tanaka held one of the beer cans and won-
dered aloud, “How much does it cost to manufacture this can?” The
question led the team to speculate whether the same process for mak-
ing an aluminum beer can could be applied to the manufacture of an
aluminum copier drum. By exploring how the drum actually is and is
not like a beer can, the minicopier development team was able to
come up with the process technology that could manufacture an alu-
minum drum at the appropriate low cost2

So, next time you’re struggling to come up with the solution to your product problems, have a cold one. It’ll all work out in the end.

A couple of things to think about when sending email

With all the focus lately falling on social networks and social media, it feels a bit like email is getting a rough deal. Make no mistake, email is still alive, well and very important as a communication, branding and sales tool. So with this in mind I jotted down a couple of thoughts about email.

These are all based on previous experience and not in any order

From Address

Make sure that this is something that the recipient can identify. Having your company name in the from address will make it easier for your recipients to know that it’s you.

Subject Line
Subject lines are tricky. Too salesy, and you’ll get stuck in the spam box. Too plain, and you won’t get any one to open it. You’ll need to test a couple of different stories so that you can decide which one you want to use.

Here’s one way to do it:
Come up with a couple of different subject lines. Send these to a small percentage of your list and check the response. So, for example, if you have 1000 memberes on your mailing list, send subject line A to about 100 members and Subject Line B to about 100 members. Give this a day or so and then see which subject line worked best. Now you can use the winning subject line and send this out to the balance of your subscribers.

Header Image
Pictures a great way to communicate in a very quick easy way. The trick is not to get too carried away. Here are a couple of tips to consider when designing your header image.

Wider is badder.
Try not to make your images too wide or your readers will need to scroll in order to see all the information. It might also cause their email clients to wig out.

See the lighter side of life
Try and keep your header images as small as possible (in terms of k size). Heavier images take longer to load and this will probably irritate your readers (especially in a country like SA where bandwidth is still an issue).

Call to action
You’ll need to choose what it is that you want your email to say. What’s the one thing that you want your email to say? Try not to cram too much info in to the header image.

Body Copy
This is the really important part of your email, the meat of the matter if you will. There’s always a temptation to add too much to a newsletter. If you add too much content, it just becomes boring. I’ve always considered a newsletter as a entry point. It’s there to direct traffic to your website or your blog or your sales offer. Whatever the case, try not to cram too much in to the body of your newsletter or quite frankly you’ll bore your readers. Instead, have a summary or shortened version of your article with a link where readers can go to read more.

As with your header image, try and stick to your Call to Action and not add too many different incentives to click. Too many CTA’s and your mail becomes confusing.

A tip that I’ve found to work is to have clearly outlined sections. Use different sizes or colours or even header graphics to split out your content in a way that makes it easy for your readers to pick out what it is they want to read.

Signature
The signature is a very underrated part of an email. In addition to containing your details, don’t forget to add your website link. It’s also a great place to add a P.S. I’ve found that a little something in the PS field always tests well and gets pretty good click through rates.

Footer
This is the section of your mail where you need to include your unsubscribe information so that if you do piss anyone off, they can leave your club. With anyone and everyone having a social media profile of some sort, this is a great place to add links to your social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, MySpace or any other network.

Heineken Walk in Fridge, part 2

Every guy has ‘his beer.’ Mine’s Heineken, It’s delicious when it’s cold, comes in a green bottle and ha my name in the title. What’s not to love? Anyway, after making us all laugh with their first walk in fridge ad, Heineken have now released a sequel, and it’s pretty funny.

http://lesterhein.blogspot.com/2009/11/heineken-walk-in-fridge-part-2.html

Now although the walk in fridge ad was funny, I’m almost tempted to say that the spoof that Bavaria made was funnier. Have a look and decide for yourself

http://lesterhein.blogspot.com/2009/11/heineken-walk-in-fridge-part-2.html

Giving Biometrics the finger.

Data bothers me. It always has. There’s so much of it lying all over the place – in spreadsheets, emails, smses and on random bits of paper. I know a lot of very smart people who are very good at organizing, storing and using data. But I reckon the coolest ones are the ones running the video store around the corner from my mom’s place.

You see, I have a thing about video store cards. And the thing is that I keep losing them. I refuse to keep unnecessary cards in my wallet and as diligent as I am, I can never remember where I last put the video store card. Which is why my mom’s video store (for lack of a better name) is so cool.

They’ve implemented a biometric finger print scanner to replace video store cards. So whenever you rent a video, you go and give them the finger and up pops your account letting you know what the last porno was that you rented and just how many fines you have outstanding. It’s all very Star Trek, which makes it even more fitting to be found at a video store but is a very smart and efficient way to profile their customers and associate you with your data.

It also makes sense. Biometrics scanners these days start from just a few hundred rand, which means that the store will save on designing and printing cards for new members and replacing the inevitable lost cards for existing customers. It also saves time since the staff don’t need to waste time looking up accounts or searching for id numbers.

Some folks do however some safety concerns about the ‘new’ technology worrying that there personal information is at risk or that they are that much closer to being a victim of identity theft. Personally, I think having your mail stolen is a much higher risk.

The scanners that businesses such the humble video shop make use of might look very CSI, but they’re a lot more low tech. Firstly, they’re not connected to the internet (in most instances) and secondly they record on average 5-7 regions on your finger print. If memory serves, the police require a 16 point match (though I could be wrong here).

More and more businesses are using biometrics fro access control and in the US, schools have started to issue kids lunch using their fingerprints to prevent lost lunch money or lunch cards. The trend is clearly showing that this is a technology that is gaining traction.

The question I have is simple – are you freaked out by fingerprint scanners or do you accept that its’ something we’ll all have to deal with in the future?

Six Things You Should Probably Do That Might Eventually Get Your Blog A Little Traffic

A question that I get asked quite a lot is “How do I get more traffic to my blog?” Now, I’m not social media expert/rock star/ ninja/monkey but I reckon that I’ve learned a thing or two over the last while and since I’m mostly a nice guy, I’ll share. Something that really irks me are “experts” dishing out posts with titles like “10 Ways Guaranteed to Get You More Traffic.” I figure that the only guarantee of traffic is by taking out a stop street in the city centre. With everything else you’re just sorta hoping it works.

 

With this in mind, I’ve decided to title this segment as follows:

Six Things You Should Probably Do That Might Eventually Get Your Blog A Little Traffic

I think it’s pretty catchy 😉

1. Create Good Quality Content (You’ve gotta have the good sh*t)


There’s a saying that goes “Content is King” and I happen to agree 100% with this old platitude. The thing is, so do lots of people. For every person who bitches about the fact that the internet is populated with useless junk there are 5 more creating great, readable and valuable content. It used to be true that if you created good content, you would get traffic because the good stuff was few and far between. With self publication now easier than ever there are more people creating more content about more topics. This means that while the adage still holds true, it is no longer the be all and end all of your blogging strategy. Creating good content is now the bare minimum requirement for getting a bit of traffic to your blog. If you don’t think you’re posting the good stuff, you should probably stop here and go think about ways to do just that.

Seth Godin, who is probably the smartest bald person I know of, has a great list of things you can do to get more traffic to your blog, many of which have to do with the type of content you’re putting out. You should read it.

2. Make Sure Your Audience Can Find Your Content (Don’t Hide Your Stash Homie)

When I started blogging one of the things I struggled with the most was trying to figure out how to get Google to find me. Wearing brightly coloured clothing didn’t work. Neither did typing the title of my blog post 500 times in the alt text. Instead, what I found was that if I invested a little time to find out the basics about SEO and blog layout, slowly the Big G started sending some love my way. Search Engine Optimization ,or SEO, was at one time also held to be the be all and end all of blog traffic strategies (like Content is King) , but it too now has a lower emphasis value and should be part of your strategy, not the whole thing.And here’s the real thing about SEO – the basics are just common sense. Take some time to understand it and you can adapt your writing style to get the most out of it. If you’re looking for somewhere to learn the ropes, try the Quirk eMarketing Text Book. It’s easy to read, was written by a funny red head and it’s free. What more do you need?

3. But first, pick an audience (Whisky drinkers stick together)

Picture the scene – a guy walks in to a bar and starts talking to absolutely everyone in the room. He’s talking to everyone about the same thing, but only a few of the people are listening. The rest are wondering whether or not the pool cue will shatter if it meets up with his head. If you want to successfully and consistently get the attention of an audience you need to decide what you’re going to write about. Most of the time, being niche is better and easier to do. You know what you’re talking about and the type of person you’re (probably) talking to. Now, I’m not saying that you should be boring or only write about West Indian cactus plants, but try not to be too sporadic. If I’m used to finding a certain type of content on a blog, I keep going back there with the expectation that I’ll find more of the same. The beer guys stick with the beer guys and the whisky guys all hang out together. Make sense?

4. Consistency is crucial (Keep On Keepin’ On)

This is the one that I have the most trouble with. In order to maintain a semi decent readership, you need to be constantly creating good stuff. If someone finds something good and clean and fresh every time they visit you, chances are they’ll keep coming back to look for more. Good content, look most good things, is addictive. If it’s the same old stale content, they’ll probably just move on to someone else who IS consistently writing good content. My buddy Dave introduced me to the concept of the attention economy and the 5 second rule – in today’s time, the new scarce resource is not money, but rather attention and on average you have about 5 seconds (or less) to grab that attention once someone lands on your blog. But, like I said – if you’re style is stale, you can kiss that reader good bye. Keep it fresh, homie.

5. Find a like minded community and attract readers from there (Sneak in to the club and take someone home).

Building a community is hard work. It takes time, patience and skill. And if you’re still asking the traffic question, chances are that like me you’re not ready to build your own community yet. Instead, it’s easier to find and become active in an existing community where your audience hangs out. Think about it – you find club where the members are already in to what you’re writing about, so it will be easier to get the readers there than from some other random group of people. Don’t sell weed to crack heads, it just won’t work. Once you’re more comfortable with your skills, the first prize is of course to build your on community that will sustain itself and introduce new readers to your content on your behalf. For a great example of a self made and sustained community, check out Imod.

6. Offer something of value (try before you buy)

We’ve all seen the magazine’s packed with free stuff on the cover.. In fact, we’ve all bought the magazine’s packed with free stuff. The reason we do is because people like to get free stuff. So if you’re writing about music, go find some musicians and break twist their arms in to letting you offer your readers a free sample of their music. Your valuable item could also be your intellectual property – create white papers and offer them as downloads from your blog. Design some cool wallpapers and make them available in your gallery, create some wicked WordPress or Blogger themes. The thing is, creativity is a renewable resource, so you’re not giving something finite away. You can create more wallpapers and write more white papers. Only next time there will be more people to talk to 😉

One thing to remember is that your opinion and expertise are both valuable commodities. If you make it available, peeps will become dependent on it and will keep coming back to get high on your supply. So, if you’re not an expert on something yet, you’d better start working on that. The more you put out, the more you get back.

Now like I said, I’m not promising that these steps will bring you lots of traffic or any at all. What I do now is this – if you’re not doing the basic you don’t have a snow ball’s chance of getting any traffic at all, so you may as well start somewhere.

Till next time, keep on blogging.

Lester

Why Apple wants to buy Twitter

This morning I heard a rumour that Apple is making a bid for the new kid on the blog, Twitter. At first I (and the rest of the peeps in the Afrigator office) couldn’t figure out why Apple would want the micro blogging platform form at all, especially for a cool $700 mil. After all, the shiny guys make hardware right?

Well, over a mid afternoon coffee it hit me – iTunes.

Picture this – you register your credit card details on Twitter, which (if it is owned by Apple) is now integrated in to the iTunes store. Now all you need to do is send a DM to @itunes (or similar) with the song you want and hey presto, your card is charged and you’ll get a DM right back with a download link. It’s brilliant.

It gets even cooler when you consider how many people tweet what they’re listening to. If you see that @stereo_type is #listening to Chad Saaiman – Moving On and you want it – click the Buy button that now sits at the end of that Tweet.

Or imagine that you could buy the music of the musicians you’re following by clicking the Buy button on their Twitter profile.

I could probably go on all day, but as it stands I still have some work to do. So, do you think I figured out why Apple would want to buy Twitter?

More stuff I like:
http://www.stereotyperecords.co.za