Battle Royale: What Bigwidesky should invest in, instead of a printer!

Blake Fehl
in culture

During a recent status meeting I was given the task of finding a 11×17 printer for the office. Tasks like this go to me for a number of reasons, the first of which is that I’m not very important, the second is that I have a knack for finding deals.  I did my thing and quickly fired up “the Googles”, and found out that not only are printers useless, but they are entirely too expensive. Being someone who has been immersed in technology their whole life, I’ve never really gotten the appeal of printers.  I mean, I get why they are there, but I’m not sure why we continue to print things out when we have these beautiful high-res screens to view everything on. So, I’ve decided to come up with a list of things we could buy for the office instead of a high end printer.

1. Boxing Arcade Machine 

This is obviously my number one choice. It accomplishes a number of things, the main one is it lets me hit something when I feel like it, which is a much too common occurrence. I know what you are thinking, “Why don’t you get a punching bag or something?” Does your punching bag tell you how hard you just hit it? I didn’t think so, actually if they made one that said “Ow” when I hit it, I’d be loading that on the back of my broken down Jeep.

Every office has a printer. You walk in see a printer/copier and think, “I’m in an extremely boring office.” Whereas if you walking and you see the PUCHINATOR 4000 (probably not the game’s real name), you think, “Holy hell! These guys not only conduct great business, but they might also take down some of my enemies in physical battle if it came to it.” This is the kind of assurance that every client needs. So, let’s make this a reality.

2. Rock Climbing Wall

Right now we have an unused loft space above our kitchen, but no way to get there. I’m all about pretending to care about physical fitness, so I’m going to kill two birds with one stone. Installation of a rock climbing would allow us to use the space above the kitchen as a new office, and provide a quality two minutes of physical fitness for our recreationally lazy staff.

Now if we really wanted to shake things up, we’d put the conference room up top, and make clients scale the wall to make it to the meeting. We will make a gentleman’s agreement, that if they can’t make it up, they have to pay us the remainder of our contract up front. Another win win for everyone!

3. Ted Nugent Pinball Machine

This one was suggested by our designer, Heather Lindsay. Apparently HL has a thing for the Nuge, and why wouldn’t she? He’s a rock god! Eliot, of course, has been in love with him since he realized that they share a lot of the same political ideals. If you are going to get a pinball machine, might as well get one of someone you idolize right? Unfortunately for me, they have yet to come out with a Cuba Gooding Jr. pinball machine. I’ll keep crossing my fingers until then.

The pinball machine is no boxing machine, and might have the propensity for causing more stress in the workplace. The number of curses that would fly through the air after playing the bad boy for thirty minutes would approach the high score of the machine itself. One could only hope that the sweet sounds of “Stranglehold” coming from the machine could calm those who insist that they hit the “f’n bumper”.

4. Private Chef

Mary Ann is obviously the smartest of all of us, as she understands what really keeps us going.  Her suggestion of hiring a private chef is the most expensive, but the most useful. For someone who consists mainly on a diet of the McDonalds next door, a chef would be brilliant. I’m not sure I’d eat any healthier, but I’d look classier doing it. It should be pointed out that a private chef doesn’t do yearly Monopoly contests, so I think we all know who the true winner is.

I’d like to think that a chef for bigwidesky would have a pretty simple go of it, but I think we’d end up questioning their every decision, because that is just the type of people we are. I don’t mean that we are annoying about it (which we may be), just that we would inundate this poor man or woman with requests on how to improve our meals. After saying all that, if you are a chef come work for us!

5. Fancy Espresso/Coffee Machine

If there is one thing that designers have done to the dev side of the industry in the past decade, it’s that they’ve slyly introduced their fancy drinks to the dev side of things. Years ago devs would would leave their work caves to get a simple coffee (or maybe a Bawls…), and most of them would enjoy it with little frills. Times have changed, and developers have realized they can not only get that jolt of caffeine to finish an all night coding  session, but they can enjoy it as well.

Chris, our lead developer at bigwidesky, personally consumes a gas tanker full of coffee a week. I might be slightly off about that amount, but it sure seems like he drinks that much. We have a simple coffee maker, that he loads up with whatever is around. Most of the time he hops over to Einsteins Bros. Bagels next door and picks up their delicious Vanilla Hazelnut blend, which is the equivalent of getting a girly drink in a bar, but as Chris is extremely busy, we try not to give him too much trouble.

What if he could make even more tasty concoctions, and we could take advantage of that as well? Then after we are all wired up, we can use the rock climbing wall to work off some of that excess energy.

Albert The Man, The Myth, The Legend is Gone? Where Does This Leave His Brand?

Blake Fehl
in uncategorized

The day many Cardinals fans have feared over the past few years has finally come to pass. Their star of the past 11 years, Albert Pujols, has left for the greener pastures of Hollywood, and a contract north of $250 million dollars.  It was hard to be on social networks like Twitter and Facebook yesterday because the majority of the feed was filled with items about Pujols. The reactions were strong (at times too strong), and the emotions transitioned throughout the day from shock to anger, and eventually to grief.

There are many markets in the US that don’t understand why a ball player is so important to a city like St. Louis. Being a major hockey (and Blues) fan, the fervor which St. Louis residents talk about baseball can be annoying when they tend to largely ignore my favorite sport. However, as an American it is hard to not romanticize baseball to a degree. Baseball is as American as apple pies, and St. Louis is steeped in so much baseball history it almost manifests itself as a thing of pride within residents of St. Louis. This is a town that has had a world class baseball team for over 100 years, and lays claim to greats like Stan Musial, Bob Gibson, Ozzie Smith, and until yesterday Albert Pujols.

Many here saw Albert as the new age incarnation of Stan the Man, a player pivotal to the game, who not only put up impressive numbers, but did it all while wearing one team name on his jersey. Albert himself assured fans he wanted to assume this role, and that there was more to the game than money. However, these notions came to a screeching halt yesterday as Albert left St. Louis for a bigger contract. There aren’t a lot of people who thought it would come to this. Despite having very high attendance, and one of the broader fan bases in baseball, St. Louis is still very much a smaller to mid market team, and isn’t able to put up the kind of cash teams on the highly populated coasts can. The Cardinal’s offer of $210 million+ (or rumored top offer of $220 million) was said to be an over-extension of the Cardinal’s finances.

We can say at the minimum Pujols will be collecting an extra $30 million over the next ten years. However, when you factor in cost of living and taxes in California vs. Missouri, the two numbers are much closer than anticipated. However, many people forget that Albert will most likely have many more endorsement opportunities in Los Angeles than he ever had in St. Louis. In the long run Albert might actually make much more money than people are anticipating. However, that doesn’t mean this move wasn’t without risk.

Potential failures of moving:

This is very much a time will tell deal. If the Cardinals have a good season without Albert next year, many of his fans will forget their new found animosity.  While if he has a banner year in Anaheim, he might gain even more respect throughout the baseball community as someone who can lead a team through skill and action.  Needless to say, we wish he would’ve stayed, but baseball was popular in St. Louis long before Pujols came, and likely it will stay that way.
Sponsor: St. Louis Pest Control

Fighting Social Media Bias

Blake Fehl
in user experience,web

Prepare yourselves for battle, because as social media grows, PR battles will be continually grow harder to control. This is a fact that video game developer and publisher TellTale Games found out Monday to their chagrin.

It all started innocently enough with a self-post on the popular social aggregator Reddit. User Boomerjinks (which I’m going to go out on a limb and say isn’t his real name), accused TellTale games of breach of contract after using his semi-famous internet Jurassic Jeep.  You can read the full accusation here, along with update. It didn’t take long for the internet to get up in arms about a movie-themed Jeep with minor cosmetic damage. Users on Reddit quickly picked up their digital pitchforks and torches, and started what they thought was their white knight gallantry. Some merely emailed the company saying their purchase decision had been swayed by the negative impression the received by the post, while others took to harassing TellTale employees over phone, Facebook, and email.

Is Netflix Ruining Their Brand?

Blake Fehl
in user experience,web

A year ago if you had asked most of my friends their opinion of Netflix, they would have bestowed heaps of platitudes upon the DVD/streaming company.  These days, you mention the company around many of my tech savvy friends, and you’ll be greeted by looks of disappointment, and in some cases vitriol. How does a company go from beloved to pitied and by some hated? Through a series of marketing missteps that could have easily been avoided.

Marketing Mishap #1: Splitting Plans and Raising Prices

I shall regard this as “First World Problems Day”. The amount of bitching and moaning that went on because of a price increase due to the splitting of the direct to mail DVD and streaming services, was amazing. We’ve seen a near collapse of our financial system here in the U.S., but I saw 100x the response when Netflix raised prices.  Kind of shows where our priorities are doesn’t it?

So, what was the problem? Well, Netflix announced they would be splitting the plans, and charging new amounts for both. Before, for $10 you could have 1 DVD out at a time, and unlimited streaming. For people used to $5 rentals from Blockbuster in the 90s, it was a great deal.  In July, Netflix told it’s customers it was time to cough up a bit more dough. The streaming plan starts at $8/month and 1 DVD out a month will cost you an additional $8/month. The 60% price raise caught many people by surprise, and created a lot of negative press for the company.


iPhone 4S: What’s All the Hype About?

Yesterday, my Twitter feed was swarming with people commenting about the “all new”  iPhone 4S. The tweets were varied, some praising Apple for their foresight, some just happy to see a few new features on their phone of choice, and many others responded with a resounding “meh”.

First off, I have to give credit where credit is due. The iPhone wasn’t the first smartphone out there, but it certainly was the one that revolutionized it. Sure, touchscreen style smartphones had been gradually making their way onto the market, but Apple was the first one to have a dedicated push, and revolutionize it with solid apps. I’m sure many would be surprised just how primitive the first iPhone would look these days, but no one can deny that without it’s launch we wouldn’t be enjoying the plethora of phones at our grasp today.

That being said, this was probably the worst iPhone launch yet. Many expected a radical change in the iPhone, something that would continue to push the market. Instead, the phone seemed more of a response to competitors, rather than a one-up. So, what are the new features?

So, as you can see, no design changes, minimal changes to the OS, and upgrades that just move Apple even with the competition. Despite this, the Apple iPhone 4GS is possibly one of the best smartphones on the market, it just doesn’t have as much of a wow factor as previous releases.
What do you think Apple could have done better? Let us know in the comments!