Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Ultimate Snowblowing Machine

The Ultimate Snowblowing Machine, parked next to a steel chasis welded together by a bunch of transportation enthusiasts out of Munich.

Today was Day 2 of testing. The range is good. The speed is a bit slow. Need to add vibration mounts to the engine. The drive chains are the wrong type. I'll have to change them out for something more robust. But all in all, things are looking good.

I am leaving town for a few weeks. Further testing will resume in first week of April.

Friday, March 2, 2012

ipad controlled Snowblower - Maiden Flight successful

 Its alive.

This is the picture of an iPad controlled snowblower. The drive system is running on four 24 DC motors and the snow throwing attachment runs on a 13hp engine. I designed it and built it myself; with help from vteams engineers.

I started working on this project on December 23. And today, after two months and 9 days, I test drove the machine. It worked.

There hasn't been much of snowfall in Connecticut this winter. I was not able to test the snow throwing capability of the machine. But with a 13 horsepower engine, this machine should send snow particles to Iceland.

This machine has a front camera and a rear camera. So I can snowblow my driveway from my kitchen while enjoying a nice cup of coffee.

Videos and technical information will be uploaded shortly to I think I am going to produce this model and sell it for $2,499.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Sennheiser S1 vs. Lightspeed Zulu 2

Yesterday I met my friend Steve at Brainard Airport [KHFD] for the AOPA conference. We took the bus to the Hartford convention center to see what is out there. For me it was a perfect opportunity to decide who gets my next thousand dollars for an aviation headset.

Lucky for us, we found both booths in the same aisle. In one corner: Sennheiser gang wearing black T-shirts. In the other corner, the Zulu gang wearing black T-shirts.

First we went to the Lightspeed booth. Found out that they have really good upgrade options. If you own older lightspeed headsets, they will pay you up to 250 for a trade in. To me this appeared as a marketing tactic and I decided not to consider it seriously. Anyway I tried the headset on. It was kind of OK but I could still hear some humming from the convention floor. Then I realized that the unit was OFF. I turned it on. All of a sudden, the silence was deafening.

 The best way to describe the Lightspeed headset is to say that it has invisible design. For some reason, you don't feel you are wearing the headset. The invisible-ness of its design is also obvious even when you are holding the unit in your hands. There is something about it and I just cant describe it.

 After we checked out the Zulu 2, and got a free business card from the nice lady giving the demo, we walked on over to the Sennheiser booth. Steve has been raving about the S1's new adaptive magic double piston artificial intelligence black box technology. There was a line of people who wanted to check out the new S1. This excited me even more about the magic I was about to experience.

 When we got to the front of the line and got our headsets, my first impression was underwhelming. The headset is ugly and I got an instant conviction that when I put it on, I would look uglier than I really am.

 I put it on anyway and turned the unit on. Yes it was silent allright. Actually the silence was as deafening as the Zulu silence. Then the nice lady at the booth told us about the features of the headset and one of them being that you can slip in reading glasses or sunglasses while wearing the headset. Steve tried putting on his reading glasses and it was pretty easy for him. I just turned my head left to right and noticed that outside sound slips in at various angles of head turn. That was not good and not comfortable to feel an expensive headset let outside noise leak in like this.

 The nice folks at the Sennheiser booth not only gave us a nice business card, but also sent us away with a dead sexy S1 hat. Comfy.

 It was time to put all doubts to rest. So I convinced Steve to walk back with me to the Lightspeed booth. We just had to try it one more time.

We asked the nice lady to turn on the aircraft noise speakers again. We put on the headsets and it was invisible magic again.

 In lieu of the dead sexy baseball hat, my loyalty remains with Sennheiser. But my money is going to Zulu. There is absolutely no doubt about that.

 If a headset looks ugly, it will sound ugly. That's just the nature of human beings who buy headsets.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Find a good copywriter

Tell me if this has happened to you: You are on the lookout for a copywriter and end up reading the sales pitches of many potential candidates. Usually on their own websites. One of them looks and sounds particularly impressive. You go ahead and hire this copywriter.

A few weeks later, you have --in front of you-- the copy written by this writer. You are not impressed. You find yourself trying to figure out what went wrong and what made you hire him instead of someone else.

If this has happened to you, then I bet 25 Turkish Liras that it has happened more than once. And that you have a tendency to repeat this cycle.

Here are some ideas to help you break out of this loop:

1. Don't hire the first guy you talk to:
Even if the first guy you call has good chemistry with you, don't hire him. Talk to at least 5 different copywriters. More often than not, you will end up hiring anyone but the first candidate.

2. State your problems in their pure form:
Do not seed the discussion with potential solutions you have already found. For example if you are selling a widget and you think the sales would increase if you wrote your sales page in a certain way, keep that though to yourself. Start with a clean slate and only with the problem you are trying to solve.

3. The right copywriter will ask the right questions:
There is a penetrating quality in questions. Some question will stay in the periphery. Some will touch you in a certain way. And some will penetrate deep into the heart of the problems you are facing. You want the guy who asks these penetrating questions.

4. Spread it thin:
You will have to finesse this with your potential writer. Break the job into pieces. Hire 3 writers on smaller pieces and see their results. Even if you need just one sales page, negotiate a deal where the copywriter will charge you 1/3rd of his rate but put in only 1/3 effort. In other words, ask for a quick and dirty letter. Usually new entrants in the game will agree to something like this. Your goal is not to get the job done as cheap as possible. Your goal is to see who produces good results even at idling speed.

5. Test the results:
When you have the copy written, do not judge it. There is the likely hood that your customers are different from you and they respond differently than you. Test the pages.

6. Repeat:
Make this a routine. Go back to your best writers, start version 2. Then version three. On and on. Find some more writers. Keep expanding your virtual team of copywriters. After a while it will become fun. Every cycle will increase your confidence in what you can get done.

Step 3 above is the most important. For every job, there is a copywriter out there who can do magic. You can easily find the right guy if you spread the jobs thin and hire many writers.

If you are trying to do something amazing with your copy, remember what good copy is not, and what it is.

In the photoshop parlance, good copy is not a bucket full of special effects. Its a combination of boring vectors, bland pixels, fills, and the arrangement of these elements. And finally a special effect or two. In other words good copy is the combination of every part, how its put together and how it flows.