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Farewell George Jones

George Jones dies at 81

Country music legend George Jones

Country music legend George Jones

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“She Thinks I Still Care”

George Jones, one of the greatest country music singers of the last 40 years, died today in Nashville. His music was infused with hard-living and turmoil that matched his personal battles with alcohol and drug addiction. He could sing it all – honky tonk, beer soaked ballads of heartbreak and redemption, rockabilly and “countrypolitan” (think strings and cocktail piano songs). His life was a roller coaster of addiction and recovery – from drugs, booze, and women. His marriage (one of four) to Tammy Wynette was Nashville’s version of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton – with all of the drama and ridiculousness of a country tearjerker. Still, no one gave a more raw and human voice to the struggles of success, failure and recovery than George Jones. Rest in peace.

I’ve always been country and I always will be country…

 

By |April 26th, 2013|Music, Song du Jour|0 Comments

Song du Jour – Thao & The Get Down Stay Down

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We the Common – Thao & The Get Down Stay Down

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I’m not sure why, but I love this tune. Alt/Freak/Pop songstress Thao Nguyen and her band, The Get Down Stay Down (what surely must be the best name for a band). Seems perfect for a spring day.

By |April 25th, 2013|Music, Song du Jour|0 Comments

Marissa Mayer Leading Yahoo to Brighter Days?

Marissa Mayer_CEO of Yahoo

Two of Silicon Valley’s highest profile leaders, Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, happen to be women and have been recent and regular subjects of both glowing and derisive attention. Lean In, Sandberg’s recalibration of the notion of successful women leading the workplace (albeit with a specific focus on the most senior levels of organizations), sits atop the non-fiction best seller lists and has sparked interesting conversations around the country. Mayer, CEO of internet media giant Yahoo!, has made many of her headlines of late by her decision to end some of her company’s most flexible work accommodations, including a ban on working from home. Time magazine has listed her as among the world’s 100 most influential people (as was Sandberg), but the two characteristics that recent articles and postings mention most often are her fashion model looks and the controversial ban on telecommuting which has been viewed as both antiquated and bordering on anti-feminist. Much has been made of the construction of an in-office nursery for her newborn:

the amazing hubris of a rich, glamorous CEO, with a nursery specially built next to her office, ordering less well-compensated parents to trudge back to the office, leaving their less important offspring in daycare or in the hands of nannies…   Joel Kotkin, Forbes

I admit to being a bit puzzled by her directive initially, but let’s not forget that Yahoo has been an ocean liner cast adrift over the course of much of the past decade and that Mayer has been brought in to provide a new strategy and energy to a web property that still has tens of millions of users but has never seemed to matter less. Amid the howls of hypocrisy concerning the aforementioned nursery and the loss of “work/life balance”, Mayer’s decision reminded us that Yahoo had morphed into a bloated, decentralized and vision free collection of bureaucracies, non-aligned advertising and media activities. What had once been a leader in the emerging web of the late 1990’s had become like an Applebee’s – a collection of mediocrities. You can get a vague approximation of almost any type of cuisine, but none of it really very good. Yahoo had helped pioneer search products, but was now not particularly interested in it. Same goes for email, photo sharing, social networking, blogging – the list goes on. While Sandberg is expressly interested in helping to shape the discussion about the role and effectiveness of women in business, Mayer is focused on making Yahoo relevant as both a business and a technology innovator.

It looks like Marissa Mayer’s leadership is beginning to make a real difference. The financial results for the second full quarter under her guidance have analysts and, more importantly, the users of Yahoo paying attention. When Mayer left Google to join the listing ship that was Yahoo, it was thought that she was taking an enormous risk by putting her sterling reputation as the leader of many of Mountain View’s most popular and successful products – and moving to take the helm of the mess that founder Jerry Yang, Scott Thompson (he of the bogus resume) and a dysfunctional board were helplessly watching begin to circle the drain. It was not an uncommon opinion that Mayer may not have been the first choice and that as she had no experience as a CEO, the appointment was a signal of desperation. Turns out that hiring away one of Google’s brightest engineers and product development leaders was a pretty good idea.

Take a look at two small examples – the iOS apps that have just been released for both the Yahoo main property and for Yahoo Weather. Mayer’s stated goals of building “beautiful products”, attracting top level talent and broadening its appeal to different users each are revealed in some measure. The news feed display has suddenly become much more visually engaging through incorporating the Summly content summaries – this from an acquisition barely a month old. Clearly, the speed at which Mayer expects strategic acquisitions of the talent and technology is very different than the last 5 to 7 years. The Yahoo Weather app is just stunning – easy to read, brings a ton of information to user in an elegant and beautiful way. Each city displays crowdsourced flickr photos of the location that mimic the weather conditions – so when it’s snowing in Colorado, a photo of snow covered mountains, when it’s raining in London a raindrop covered window to Buckingham Palace.  Compare it to the  native Apple weather app (which is actually powered by Yahoo on the backend) which looks comparatively boring. The two apps were released almost simultaneously last week and may be signs of a more aggressive strategy of product releases and be cause for optimism among shareholders and users alike. It’s going to be interesting to see what she has planned for the future.

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The New Flagship Yahoo! iOS app

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The New Yahoo! Weather iOS app

 

 

By |April 22nd, 2013|Business, Design, Technology|0 Comments