Friday, May 14, 2010

When a product gets too big…

When Google ™ admitted today that it ‘accidentally’ spied on those people with WI-FI internet access; I thought this was a prime example how thing have gotten so out of hand, need to finally learn that a product or service can and does get too big.

If you listen to the Google ™ PR machine, they can be everywhere to do everything for everybody, all the time. This time, the heavy-handed approach to marketing promotion allowed the gathering of your personal data via WI-FI as you operate online through their ‘Street View’ application. This information identifies your personal data with the potential of being shared with an interested person or company in the third party.

Google ™ started out as a online encyclopedic database to look up anything and everything. They advertised Street View ™ as a system to collect images and information on every street corner using all available assets. These assets include people on foot, bicycle or vehicles. They promise to never, ever share your information. But now, they want to supply your phones. Something seems amiss here…..

This is the ‘line of departure’ with small business. There comes a time when small business is the suitable answer to your needs. In doing so, you work with a company that has a high personal touch you can reach anytime. Try calling a Google ™ representative to solve a particular problem. Mom and Pop had store that sought out a simple plan – serve the people in your own community. Once in a while, a customer walked in they couldn’t help.

I’ve tried Street View ™. I was impressed by the sheer value of data that they store... I was also, impressed by the amount of data they don’t have. Beltair Industries Imaging (BAII: strives to achieve and keep the small business paradigm when it comes to serving clientele. As a landscaper or realtor – how many times have you wished for a photo with an elevated aspect just to end up with a ‘free’ photo online that is less than satisfying?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

...And If You Believe that.... There's a Bridge in Brooklyn for Sale...

I’m so ticked, my outrage has moved beyond the common sense feeling of embarrassment to wanting to ‘do’ something to put thought to keyboard. Once again, I fell for the tricks of a big company preying on a smaller one trying to get started. I don’t know if you’ve tried to start a company but the biggest pitfall is not being able to tell the difference between tenacity and stubbornness. From the very beginning, we’re taught that if you don’t at first, succeed – try harder or at least try again. Invest more time, money and effort into something that went nowhere.

In this case, I’m talking about letting myself face the fact that the ‘old way’ is actually gone. Marketing yourself to create a viable business model is essential – and in so doing, become profitable; you have to get out and hustle each and every day. Part of doing that involves ensuring your accessibility for your customer base to find you. This brings me to Yellowbook. Yellowbook is part of the old way of doing things. A printed listing that is out of date the moment they go with a ‘final’ copy. Despite my instincts and the fact that I informally asked people, friends and acquaintances if they used information from such things as the Yellowpages, Yellowbook or Superpages, I ignored the fact that they all said no. And in fact, were incredulous that I even had to ask…

I, most of us, grew up with the concept of those types of publications. The truth is, they’re dinosaurs too slow to even understand they’ve already died. They promise to ‘drive’ business to you so fast, you won’t be able to handle it. After more than 2 years of believing this business model, this paradigm, I’ve yet to receive 1 phone call, email, or visit to my website because of their efforts. It’s hokum, snakeoil, outright deception… For $40 per month, $480 per year, I bought a Yellowbook listing under their ‘Silver’ program. Newsflash, I find no evidence that the silver program even exists. Once the sales rep gets your name on a dotted line, they disappear, are never within reach of their phone and you can never get a hold of anyone on the ‘technical support team’. You can’t get a hold of their supervisors and they’re never local to you. Besides not being able to talk to someone, I also did not see my company actually listed anywhere in the ‘book’. So what did I get for $40 per month? A year long contract that lists me on a online 8th page, listing for wedding photographers - though I’ve never done a wedding in my life. So what have we learned Dorothy? You should keep your money away from the things that you know are dead or dying. Oh, and tenacity is the right answer…...

Friday, April 16, 2010

This is Incredible... the facts....

A friend sent this link to me this evening from Youtube ™:
The information contained herein, is the sort of thing I’ve been talking about…. See the video and enjoy – I found it fascinating….

Friday, April 2, 2010

Backyard Innovation – Will Continue

While listening to the news in the early part of this past March, I heard about a gentleman from Yorkshire, England. He’d created a method to take pictures from a very high altitude at the edge of space, using materials off the shelf anyone could buy and then, utilize a little ingenuity.

For this project, he bought a small high altitude balloon, some helium, a point and shoot type digital camera, GPS and a controller for the whole apparatus. He spent about $700 US dollars and created a system that took, clear, stunning pictures that rival some of NASA’s most memorable images at a cost there is no practical way to compare. An average space mission is about $350 million dollars with the soon-to-be defunct US Shuttle Transportation System.

True, there are problems and deficiencies with his method of imaging. But what is important is that those images also capture the imagination of what further development might bring.

For businesses like construction progress management, real estate, conservation, etc., where a bird’s eye view may be very helpful, the key here is innovation. The images mentioned here, are challenged by resolution and control of collection, but there is no doubt a picture of the earth below can be stunning. This assessment points to a whole new possible industry. A new embryonic industry that may possibly create jobs, solve problems and inspire new thinkers.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Report Is In...

In the event you were still at work during the following broadcast by MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan on today’s 2:00 o’clock broadcast this afternoon, you might have missed one of the best summaries of how we ‘got here’. This report on the surface is boring, but when you listen to the
entire case being laid out – you might feel a sense of outrage.

If ever there was a time for partisan bickering to stop – now is the time. We as, Americans, should be asking ‘how did the nation almost get brought down to its financial knees by the few and the very, very greedy? Further, what will we do to prevent it from happening again?

This is not a partisan issue, it concerns all of us. Jobs have been lost, homes foreclosed, businesses lost, and futures squandered. Rules were broken and now America has to pay up. What a burden we leave our kids. But we can learn from this….

Friday, February 12, 2010

Standing By While the World Learns the Lessons We Should

Perhaps you remember, I wrote and posted a blog noting a super freighter container ship – the Emma Maersk In that blog, I wondered if we’re getting used to the prospect of becoming ‘second-best’.

Our internecine political battles have gotten so out of hand, there is virtually no way to get anything done that will put this country back on track (no pun intended) by getting the country moving on a vital and very needed part of our infrastructure modernization. Ironically, the very people who bemoan that this country is going to Hell in a handbasket because there are no jobs; are the first to kill or obstruct every, and any initiative proposed by this White House.

This infighting has virtually killed healthcare reform – when both major political parties acknowledge that reform is needed. The left supports runaway spending and the right supports fighting any idea that is not their own. Folks, we’re at dead standstill with all this gridlock. In the meantime, the out years will see people die needlessly and future prosperity of individuals squandered by the same old corporate two-step.

But through intimidation and lobbying by the insurance companies, people are too scared to embrace the change that is needed. Like being afraid to travel in a world that is believed to be flat. So now, the polls show that more people don’t want change to the healthcare system than the people who do. The message of fear has gotten through and people will suffer and die.

When you show supporting data that the US ranks 37th by the World Health Organization (WHO), people get angry – stop listening and declare the US has the best healthcare system in the world. The US has the highest infant premature infant mortality rate, the highest chronic illness rate (heart, stroke, cancer, diabetes) and the highest obesity issue per capita than any other industrialized nation.

Forty million people face the medical nightmare on a nightly basis without health insurance. The financial ruin for the survivors has been catastrophic. Our own family faced this dilemma that ended when both parents died in a system that let them slip away because of being under insured. They had the best they could afford – but by their late 50’s, their races had been run.

This time, I’m referring to our embryonic effort at building a high rail system. We are so far behind, the Chinese will have built their 42nd high speed train by the time we’ve fielded our first little line from Tampa, Florida to Orlando. The Chinese already have all of their major cities connected by trains that exceed 200 mph. Imagine going from Dallas to Detroit in 6 hours. We have some short haul flights that take more time than that. The Europeans operate many successful high-speed trains.


But where is the United States on this issue? We can’t get passed being the only industrialized modern nation without universal healthcare, much less having a train system ready to meet the modern 21st century. If ever there was a time that favors infrastructure modernization, this is the time. It is a time that has the potential to rival the building of American doing FDR’S first years in office or even reach a level of modernization of the Truman – Eisenhower era. But we have political infighting like kids on the playground. We’ve ground to a halt in all that needs to be done.

So, what does this have to do with elevated photography? Nothing directly; but we’re talking about innovation and modernization – at least, that is the theme I had wished to emphasize with this blog. The year will go by in 2010 without much difference to the year before. In the meantime, people will wonder where the jobs are; and they will support the obstruction of a President with a vision that could positively affect each and every citizen across this nation. Before you accuse this author of being in the tank for this President, listen to the video of Ted Kennedy giving the eulogy for his murdered brother on 8 June, 1968: Forget the politics; there is a calling that begs for a response – courage, innovation, imagination and creation…

Friday, January 1, 2010

BAII - Elevated Imaging.... ANew Paradigm

BAII Elevated Imaging – The New Paradigm Continues

The new 2010 year is here as is the unavoidable annual ritual, of marching on to whatever fate the ‘newborn’ year intends to bring.

The hardy, optimistic crowd brings a new sense of ‘starting over’; a hope for the future sort of cheeriness. The more embittered of us, bring a clamor to be the first to predict a previously unimaginable disaster so they can have ‘I told you so’ rights later in the year.

In doing so, the lessons of the previous year get lost in the anticipation of the incoming new year. The attempt with this blog is merely to put some thoughts to readership – one of the lessons I learned this year is that I cannot possibly write a single article that addresses all things to all people for all time. The world is too big, the events to many, and I concede that I am just a bit player in it all. But in my mind, a good place to start is to list some valuable lessons learned in 2009.

The Disclaimer: I may not have learned all the things that are important to all people everywhere and therefore I may fail to mention something important to someone here. This is generally considered both understandable and reasonable; since knowing our system of law is based significantly on precedent – please wish me luck instead…..

Personal Lessons:

I should have spent more time in school. Degrees have certain value – by all means, get one as soon as you can. But the truth is, that school is redeeming; a means to forgive yourself for all the times you should have zigged when you zagged instead. There is always something new to learn that can be applied to almost any situation – so take your sheepskin and get back in school. Who could argue that doing something good for yourself like getting an education is a bad thing?

The common mistake that most people make is to look for the ‘payoff’ for going
that will make sense before they sign the dotted line. In most cases there is no
immediate payoff – the accumulation of knowledge, experience and personal
relationships are the rewards that are immediately calculable.

Dammit! My mom and the doctors were right all along – after fighting common sense for 50 years, 2009 taught me the brutal lessons of failing to eat less, exercise more, read everything your can get your hands on, – oh and eat your veggies….. funny, I was always the ‘kids will be alright’ kind of dad… I watch my ‘used to be’ little ones with their little ones and it’s all different now….

Trust my instincts more… As most of you know, I’m trying hard to get Beltair
Industries Inc. off the ground in southern California as a viable business. Even
this blog is being generated to further that cause. But to that point; it’s my
instincts to survive as well as actual skills learned that will make this possible – so
I must trust them more

General Lessons: The ‘system’ under which we live in prepares our youth to become 1 of 4 people. This current paradigm is based on education, hard work, luck and the building of coalitions. It may sound like I am about to criticize our very reasonable and logical way of life – in fact, I am only saying that it has to continue its non-stop evolution. Certainly – there are people who can explain much better than I – this theory of preparation for life in the United States. First, I must digress into the current way we do things:

The Employee: Become a reasonably dependable person with some valued skillset to support the operations of some business – be it a store clerk or school teacher. You go to a school; academic, vocational or military to get some of these skill sets, a supervisor somewhere seeks out those skills; a matching of job and potential employee is evaluated and proposed and you now have a job. That job gets complicated by the onset of families, product changes, employee expectations, economic shifts, longevity and continuation of benefits to compensate the time invested in the company or business.

2. The Specialist: This is the higher educated, skilled or niched Employee. A
doctor, lawyer, a luxury car technician (mechanic is not accurate enough here),
etc. These people are more difficult employees to get because of the skills and
educations required, therefore command generally higher salaries. In the end, they
find themselves working for a group, a business, an agency as an employee.

3. The Entrepreneur: This is the person who arrives to the thinking and/or place that they can start or run a business of their own. When this happens, things begin to change. The tax laws, personal and business relationships, the priority of issues, motivations. A person’s focus may sharpen as does their tendency to become a better shopper, customer, business owner or other things I have not even thought of yet. The goal here is to become a very attractive fish to get gobbled up by the next class of person. This may happen at 10 or 82 years of age based on motivation, education, acquisition of skills - it’s different for everyone.

4. The Super Entrepreneur: This is the person who specializes in buying up all
the little successful entrepreneurs. These folks are interested in money – they
may be interested in other things like giving disadvantaged people a fair chance in
life, maybe their thing is the environment, or animals. The point is, these people
buy up other successful businesses because they specialize in business period.

So, back to the general lessons of 2009:

Corporatism in the US as we now know it is going to eat itself alive to an uncertain and ugly death in front of our very eyes. I don’t mean little corporations designed to use the law to survive. I’m talking about the banks, mortgage companies, the credit card agencies, insurance agencies, etc. They are continuously going to a well that has finite resources and they don’t learn from it.

We finally proved to ourselves that corporate welfare does not work. The US taxpayer – broke from watching his 401K evaporate into empty promises , facing homelessness, losing his healthcare, the rising cost of education, and losing his job that he invested a whole life in, is getting ticked off to a point of no return as bonus after bonus is paid out to 5000/hr corporate officers who have angled to have the very hand that feeds them lose out their ability to do so…

If it was not the availability of the sheer numbers of the supportive and responsible taxpayers being extorted – this problem would have self –corrected many years ago. This year was the most aggressive application of the business model since the phrase Reaganomics was even coined. And the trickle down has produced more unemployment and corporate wealth than ever.

Product vs. Service: Our country has moved from one that produces a ‘hard’, touchable, seeable, product to one that depends more on performing services. Services that are considered boring, tedious, hard, dirty, or expensive to do yourself. We now see the folly of low expectations in our auto industry, not building our own housing products, outsourcing things like maintenance of business records or have some faraway 10 year old sew our cheap t-shirts, letting infrastructure fade away as we push the responsibility down the road for some other messiah to look after. If people have to choose between making the mortgage next month or having to wash their own car… I’m betting the car wash will lose the bet……

We had better take better care of each other: The current situation US Postal service find’s itself is a classic example. Most people (me included at one time) assume this system is a federal agency supported and run by their tax dollars. This is far from the truth. This is a business that is just now learning the tough and brutal lessons that the newspaper industry has learned and is currently still learning. In this case – there is still time. There are precedences; the pain was not so noticeable when the milk man was replaced by the mega-supermarkets. When the horse drawn carts gave way to service trucks, hardly anyone shed a tear. In an effort to help the postal service relate to the new way of doing business – I hope, somewhere - someone important reads the parable down below:

The newspapers made themselves obsolete by not adjusting to a new paradigm that has more agility, lower cost and greater distribution. In fairness, the explosion of the internet, services like Google ™ or Youtube ™ were not necessarily predictable. But I also mention that, as with any business, I have to invest in marketing. With the advent of the internet – I was able to create a website ( ) with almost anything I chose to put on it at a cost of about $10 per month with an almost unlimited readership. In contrast, my three trips ( they required me to come see them – only one newspaper agency chose to meet me at a Starbucks ™ ) to the newspaper industry produced the following:

1. The counsel that their introductory price of advertising about $2,500 for a week regionally is already known to be almost so worthless that my commitment would be better served by spending $17K instead over the next 3-4 months with no prediction or guarantee of customer conversion to business with a known rate of about 2%. But they were giving me a ‘deal’…… and I should have felt lucky. I guess the assumption is that the same 80,000 readers that may or may not read their paper, that may or may not convert their interest from reading the paper to becoming one of my customers, have no access to the internet

2. I went to another agency but they were ‘not interested’ … that was it… simply no
interest in taking my advertising dollar – but I got an impressive cup of coffee at
my own expense in their office. I placed a dollar into their cup near the
coffeemaker with the Styrofoam ™ cups. That was over 6 months ago… with
no call backs…. It ends up that I couldn’t even call them out of the blue and
give them money for a process that has a 98% failure rate.

3 ‘We have to find the appropriate package for you’ was the approach I was given where for weeks a wide range of confusing ideas where passed around with the idea I was going to pay a weekly fee of thousands of dollars - the total which was never firmly established.

In the meantime – I’m blogging for free and my own free business video: . If the postal service really wanted to survive they would provide a very similar service to Yahoo ™ with some additional perks that would be unique to their service. Get some of those email dollars – every industry has room for another competitor. Figure it out….