Category Archives: Books

Tufte is tough on Microsoft PowerPoint

Cover of Edward Tufte's new book: Beautiful Evidence 
(Edward Tufte’s New Book: Beatuful Evidence)

If you don’t know who Edward Tufte is, you should definitely get to know him. Edward Tufte (ET) is one of best experts in the field of data and graphics display. According to Business Week, he is “the Galileo of graphics”. 

Listening to ET in his one-day course in New York gave me a clear picture that he has a tough love for Microsoft PowerPoint. He suggests that there are several problems with PowerPoint and its uses to present data and graphics to audiencies in many different settings. ET suggests to use 2 page paper instead of PowerPoint. Yes, 2 page paper to replace all that jazzy flying bullet points and cool transition effects.

According to ET, 2 page paper can display the same amount of information efficiently as 50-200 PowerPoint slides. That was an eye openning discovery, because he actually shows how it can be done through some examples during his lecture. I highly recommend attending Tufte’s lectures, which takes place in different cities throughout the year in the U.S.

Read more about ET and PowerPoint issues on his web site.

Weekly Round-up

Adobe’s New Online Video Editing Tool
Adobe came out with a new variations of Adobe Premiere and Photoshop Elements that let’s Photobucket users edit videos online through these programs. This is Adobe’s new strategy to shift it’s desktop based software to the web and make it available as a web service, just like Microsoft’s Office Live or Google’s “Office.”

Interactive online t-shirt designs.

Say Hello to Pipes – Yahoo Relaunches Online Aggregator
According to news stories, Pipes was so popular that Yahoo expereienced a melt down when it first launched its aggregator servce.

Make Room, Wikipedia: Internet-based Collaboration Could Change the Way We Do Business
Article from Knowledge@Wharton newsletter.

Web Design Contracts: Why Bother
Digital Web Magazine article that explores different aspects of web design contracts and why you should have one.

Easy to use online task management tool.

Tutorial: CSS Hack to display percentage bar

New Book: Information Architecture for the World Wide Web (3rd Ed.)

Upcoming Event: An Event Apart Boston: March 26-27, 2007

Weekly Round-up

Upcoming Events: Web Directions North
Web Directions Conference will take place in Vancouver, BC, Canada from February 6-10, 2007. Speakers will include Kelly Goto, Dan Cederholm, Joe Clark and other web super stars.

Local Start-up gets traffic of Wayne, PA is acquired by Navteq for $179 million.

College Rolls out Ipod Program
At Nevada Community College iPods will be provided to all new students. This is a new trend among colleges and universities in the U.S. that encourages using iPods in classroom by students and Podcasting clasroom lectures by faculty. Now you can listen to music while in class, and its ok.

Research: You have 4 seconds to load a site
According to a research by Akamai, web users expect a site to load within 4 seconds, if it doesn’t, they leave or hit the ‘Back’ button.

New Book: Mobile Web Design
A new book by Cameron Moll worth checking out.

Blogs: Brand New
“Brand New is a Speak Up spin-off displaying opinions, and focusing solely, on corporate and brand identity work.”

Free Pixel Fonts
Enjoy free pixel fonts to your heart’s content.

100 million web sites served!
According to Necraft, the Internet now has 100 million web sites. This means in the future there will be even more demand for search engines to find what you want through clutter of millions of sites.

The Wall-Mart Effect

Wal-Mart’s tagline is “Always Low Prices” and they actually live up to this and have low prices all the time.

Everyone is always curious, “How do they do that?” That’s exactly what I wanted to know.

The Wall-Mart Effect { book cover }So, a week ago I finished reading one of the best books on Wal-Mart, The Wall-Mart Effect by Charles Fishman.

The book explores the impact of Wal-Mart’s ‘Always Low Prices’ in depth on employees, customers, suppliers and even competitors. Each chapter covers case studies from real life experiences of people who have been directly or indirectly affected by Wal-Mart. The book also tries to answer questions, such as: Is Wal-Mart good or bad for us? How does Wal-Mart always get low prices? How does Wal-Mart affect you even if you did not shop there? How do businesses cope with the low prices on their premium products at Wal-Mart? How does Wal-Mart impact US inflation? These are just some of the questions Fishman tries to answer.

The book also does an excellent job in covering the history, mission and vision of Sam Walton and his stores. Sam Walton emphasized ‘efficiency’ and always having low prices even if it hurt the business in short-term. Eventually the stores made profits from repeat customers, because customers loved these low prices. What about Wal-Mart’s efficiency? The efficiency of Wal-Mart is no much to its competitors. Wal-Mart knows ‘efficiency’ better than any other company. You either match up to their speed of business efficiency, or else you will be left in the dust bleeding to death.

Wal-Mart trivia: How much does Wal-Mart make in a month (gross profit)? Take a guess…

Answer: $20,000 per minute. That’s right, per minute. So let’s do a little math, $20,000X(24 hours*60 minutes) = $28,800,000/per day. Per Week = $28,800,000X7 days=$201,600,000. Per month=$201,600,000X4 weeks=$864,000,000.

So, Wal-Mart makes roughly $864 million a month. Is that good or bad for us? Is that good for Wal-Mart? These are some of the questions that you will come across in this book.

You can read some excerpts from the book at Fishman’s web site. For example, there is a book excerpt: “Chilean Salmon for $4.84 a pound?” or “The Man Who Said No to Wal-Mart” which you might want to read before spending any money on buying the book.

I highly recommend it, if you are interested in getting to know the largest and the most powerful company in the world history (in 2006 they fell to #2 because of ExxonMobile’s profits from rising oil prices) and the largest employer in the US after the U.S. government — Wal-Mart.

Note: My previous calculation of Wal-Mart’s monthly gross profit was screwed up. Thanks to Mr. Fishman for pointing this out. The correct figures are now incorporated to this post. Note to self: gotta freshen up on math. :) { 8/17/2006 }

IACOCCA: An American Legend

Book Cover - Iacocca: An Autobiography Open finishing the book Iacocca: An Autobiography, I am quite moved by how much Lee Iacocca has done to this country and its auto industry. He is a true American legend, who brought innovation and clear vision to American auto industry and to his people. Father of Ford Mustang, the man who made seat belts possible, an innovator who was behind Chrysler K-Cars and Dodge Mini-vans, Iaccoca is a true innovator who was ahead of his time. For example, when seat belts was not a norm in auto industry, he was the only auto executive to push and add seat belt safety in all cars manafactured in the 60s and 70s.

In 1984, Iacocca also outlines how America needs to look for alternative energy sources to fuel its economy and not depend on foreign oil resources. Today in America, you see hydrogen cars and hybrids that have become hugely popular because of soaring oil prices.

In his book, he writes about how he rose through the ranks to become Ford’s President, how he got fired from Ford, how he turned around and saved Chrysler Corporation, how to fix economic problems of this country and how he envisions America to become great again.

Lee Iacocca is an inspiration to people from all backgrounds. He helped to save Chrysler in 1980s, tenth largest corporation in Americe which was virtually going bankrupt in 1979, saving hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country. Iacocca was also in charge of the restoration of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, which he successfully raised money and support across America for completing this project under the Reagan Administration.

Even today, Iacocca can’t sit still. He setup the Lee Iacocca Foundation to support and fund diabetes research at Massachusetts General Hospital. At this hospital, Dr. Denise Faustman’s work cured type 1 diabetes in mice, which was largely funded by donations from the Iacocca Foundation. His latest initiative Join Lee Now! campaigns for raising money to support the clinical trials investigating potential cure for diabetes type 1.

In 2000, Iacocca founded Olivio Premium Products. The company manufactures the Olivio line of food products made from olive oil and 25% of all profit from the company is donated to diabetes research as well.

In 2005, Iacocca partnered with Chrysler Corporation to appear in series of ads in exchange to create a fund raising program for diabetes research. Under this agreement all U.S. Chrysler, Jeep® and Dodge Dealers will donate $1 for every car sold from November 2005 through December 2006 to Iacocca Foundation to continue funding for clinical trials of curing diabetes type 1 at Massachusetts General Hospital.

I highly recommend reading this book!

What is a Brand?

It’s not your logotype…

Book Cover: The Brand Gap by Marty NeumeierMarty Neumeier’s “The Brand Gap” is one of the best books on branding and brand management that I have ever read.

According to Neumeier a brand is “person’s gut feeling about a product, service or a company.”

The book gets into many aspects of branding, what brand means, how much it is worth, why it is important and how to build a brand. He also gives great examples of how successful companies have built their brand and what keeps the brand a live and how to protect it.

It is a short book that can be finished in one sitting, and worth reading several times.

Web Site Usability: A Designer’s Guide

Web Site Usability: A Designer’s Guide is a book on user centered design that helps web designers with usability issues while designing sites.

Here is what Jacob Nielsen had to say about this book:

Even experienced Web designers should read these usability findings about 11 different site designs. Competitive usability testing is one of the most powerful ways of learning about design and this book will save you many hours of lab time.”

“What about inexperienced Web designers? Lock up their copies of FrontPage and Photoshop until they have finished reading this book — twice!”