This is my little piece of the world. I'm a relentless tech junkie and prepress guy ...these are my ramblings and useless swill.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

An Invite to "The Business"

So about a week ago I heard from a long lost friend that I hadn't seen or heard from in months. We had a quick short exchange after a church meeting before going our separate ways. Its always fun to catch up. Our families had hung out from time to time. No more then a week later do I get this great looking thank you card from him thanking me for the reunion. It was curious in quality and had his picture on the inside. Interesting, toss, rock on. Well that wasn't the end of it. I get a call fro him a few days ago telling me he has this great business opportunity he wants me to listen to. "Oh no" ...I'm thinking on the fly. "How do I get rid of this situation." I love this person, but I hate being propositioned like this...

This takes me back to a day where I had the grand daddy of all conversations and what I consider an "inside the park home run." Here goes.

9 years ago I get a strange phone call on my cell phone. The sweet female voice on the other line introduces herself and says she would like to meet with me for a few minutes. She said that she had heard about me and my abilities. "What abilities I thought," but lets let that go for now. She said things to me like "You seem like a real go-getter" and " I like your style"... and financial freedom and independence..."okay" I thought. She then went on to talk about how she had this "business opportunity" to share with me. Immediately red lights, flares, buzzers and civil defense sirens start going off in my mind. "Is this lady really cold calling me to set me up with some sort of multi-level marketing scam?" "No way!!" Well I called her on it and asked what "the business" was. I love it how when speaking in code, "the business" automatically referrs to Amway or some other multi-level marketing engine. Guaranteed, every time. I'm sure I know why they don't just blurt out the name of the company, but then if they did...nearly no one would be working for them. She never actually said Amway, but I assumed it. So she goes one at great length I may add explaining all the capabilities I have that she is looking for. I let her go on for about 10 minutes then I stop her and say

So I had to be somewhere and I know exactly what would end the conversing in a hurry. I asked her if "the business" opportunity she wanted me to hear was Amway? She said yes it was and asked me if I had heard about Amway. This is where I snapped into action. I told her the biggest of lies..but trust me, it was worth it. I went on to tell her that I had been involved with Amway since my early college days where some roommates and I started out as a distributor for some extra cash. I told her how I worked my way up, quit college and focused on building "the business' full time. I used terms like Diamond, and Double Diamond and Crown levels. I told her of cars unnumbered, trips with the family and boats. I told her that a few months ago I sold "the business" for 25 million and I'm now retired.


More silence

Then she spoke "I'm not sure what to say," she said. "It's an honor to speak with someone as successful as you." She went on to say that she had never talked to someone who had reached my level before. Clearly the tone of the conversation did an instant 180 and I was giving her something she wanted instead of visa versa. I gave her encouragement and told her to reach for the stars.

Funny how things change with a few industry code words.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

There's a Buzz in the Air

There is a buzz in the air this time of year in the printing industry. Yes its fall in the Midwest and the temperature is getting colder and the leaves are turning brown and falling from the trees. But that's not the real reason there's something in the air. The reason is Graph Expo. Graph Expo is the one a year printing fiesta held in windy Chicago, Il in the heart of the good old USA. Hosted at the McCormick Place, Graph Expo is just HUGE. Almost 500,000 sq feet of printing goodness. I get to see full scale running presses, binding lines, proofing devices and all the booth babes you could ever want.... All under one roof. What a great country I say as I stroll from booth to booth just wandering, faking interest in other people wares. Oh yes I have some things I truly am interesting in and want to get the 411 on, but I love just browsing and seeing possibilities. Just to tuck away in the memory banks cause you never know when you might need to say "Oh yes I saw that at Graph Expo" in some random meeting... just to impress your boss. You know what I'm saying!

Each year I drive to Chicago to stay the weekend and enjoy some of the finer things Chicago has to to offer. One of the finest and most emotional things to see is the Michigan Avenue Apple Store, or as I affectionately call it "Mecca." What would a trip to Chicago be without a stop there? It's amazing to walk through the doors, smell the sweet aroma of fresh new iPod, iPhones Macbooks and iMacs. Its truly electric. All the workers dressed in Steve Jobs issued black tee's with "back stage pass" looking name tags. Awesome! Lets not forget all the working Macs. Tables and tables and row upon rows of Apple treats. Not the crappy password protected models like you see a "Office Buy" or "Circuit Max" or whatever electronics store you shop. These machines are ready, willing and connected to the internet to do your bidding.. This afternoon when I go I think I'll make a small video for the kiddies back home and post it on YouTube. Certainly Chi-town has a lot more to offer then just a few Macs on Michigan. The food, the pier and the buildings, I love it all!

I love fall, I love Chicago, I love Apple but most of all, I love printing!!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Digital Conversion PSA

This made me roar... :)!

enjoy courtesy of Gizmodo.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Growing up along side the Yellow Box

he Eastman Kodak I remember as a child growing up in a small suburb of Rochester NY is one that will forever be in my mind. When I was born I was given shares of Kodak stock as a birth gift, which I still have to this day. It just shows what a mark Kodak had in our community. I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s in a subdivision where almost all our neighbors were employed by the “Big Yellow Box”… as it was affectionately called back in the day. We always had a freezer in the basement stuffed to the gills with small yellow Kodak boxes and plastic black canisters. ASA 64, 100, 200, 400 and, oh, there was some 800 in there- maybe even a 1600 would sneak in there on occasion. We had color slide film, color print film, black and white, high speed, low speed, low light…that freezer stored hundreds of rolls of film. All chilled down to a nice 0 degrees to keep it all nice and fresh. We never purchased any as all our friends would give us gobs of film at holiday time…or any time really, as we lived in the town of milk and honey, or as we called it, Kodak film! How many times would my dad say, “Tommy! Go get your Dad a new roll of film.” And I would run to the basement freezer to grab a few rolls for good old Dad. Dad would shoot Kodak film with near reckless abandon in his Canon AE-1 knowing the processing was included in many of the pictures he would take. Our dear next door neighbors, the McAllister’s, would even take the rolls to work with them to get the film processed at no charge. What a great land we lived in. Free film and prints to boot!

I still remember the day when the shoe fell. It was a dark and stormy day… black clouds filled the sky. An edict came from on high at Kodak central, “NO MORE FREE FILM!” People walked the streets, bouncing into walls not knowing what to do. What once was free we now had to add to our budgets? Well, thankfully the Clifford’s had a freezer chock full of film, some of which remains there today.

We lived not too far from former Kodak CEO Kay Whitmore and once he took me on a tour of Kodak Park…from the CEO standpoint. Nice gig! I remember one afternoon Kay brought over one of the new “Kodak Camcorders”. It was the huge one that rested on your shoulder but also sat in a cradle on your TV and acted as a VCR. Great idea but didn’t last too long. What about Kodak batteries or that Disc Camera? Well… In 1984 that was the extent of the innovation that came from Kodak Park. Batteries, camcorders, and what about that Polaroid knockoff? Ouch! the lawsuit over that one.

Rochester NY is tied to the successes and failures of Kodak. Boy, where there some black Fridays when Kodak announced layoffs. 25,000, 50,000 even 75,000 people would lose their jobs worldwide with the brunt of the punishment coming to Rochester. Kodak really lacked consumer innovation back in the day. Where was good old George Eastman when you needed him? Some of the crap that Kodak came out with was really stunning. But on sheer size alone, they labored through the 90’s and early 2000’s like a sick elephant. Cutting and trimming what they could, but what they really needed was a culture shift. Film and print as we knew it was dying- and they knew it.

Enter Kodak the 2000’s. A portion of the yellow box is fading. Film is dying right in front of their eyes and there is nothing they can do to stop it. Kodak knows the secret sauce and everyone else has it except them. So they are simply buying it up! Kodak is purchasing companies as fast as it can. Kodak nabs Nexpress, ENCAD, OFoto, Scitex Digtal Printing and Creo. Kodak is a digital media giant. It is hip, cool and most of all fresh. Kodak has blogs, Kodak is using Twitter, and Kodak is on TLC with Trading Spaces. Kodak has a huge theater in Hollywood, home of the Academy Awards. Kodak has a CMOS that may be in the very phone you are using now… or will be soon. Does it get any more glam than that? Digital prepress, digital proofing, digital print, digital cameras, digital photo frames and high end digital imaging. its almost as if it is turning into a "Kodak World"...who said that on TV. I know.. I know! I had to say it. Sorry Jeff I like the motto that Gene so affectionately gave on Celebrity Apprentice. Kodak is back and the Big Yellow Box is in style and I love every moment of it.

This isn’t the Kodak of days old. It's been a fun, exciting, and amazing journey to watch. Look back at where they have come from.

“Hey dad, do you need another roll of film? I’ll get it.”

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Prinergy in a Cloud

With all the talk of virtualization in this world, I don’t see much action on the part of Kodak with regards to that. Now they may be working on this but not that anyone of us have seen. I know that prepress people buck the IT mindset as most of us are big Mac fans and its very “un-IT” to like the Mac. Some do, so don’t flame me, but generally, most do not. One thing that I have thought about over the past few weeks is what about Kodak offering a Prinergy in a cloud model.

What the heck is “Prinergy in a Cloud?” PIC as I like to call it, would be a Prinergy system hosted in one of Kodak high availability data centers running the latest and greatest versions of Prinergy and InSite software. They could offer preps licensing, RBA and all the tools of the trade, but from afar. You access all this via the internet through your company pipe and you are off to the races. No servers to install, no software to patch, no nothing.

Why would any company want to do this? Prinergy saturation is really reaching critical mass. Everyone knows Prinergy is the biggest and best, even though others try to compete, there really is no competition. Cost is one huge barrier to entry to this club. Even with Evo people are spending tens of thousands of bucks just to gain membership. Add InSite on top of that and the cost rises. Some licensing fees for an unlimited copy of InSite can be$30K or more. Plus you need a server room, you need storage to hold all the files, you need a beefy network infrastructure and a backup strategy. And I’m sure that’s not the half of the issues. What mom and pop outfit wants to get involved in that IT mess if they don’t have to?

Enter Prinergy in a cloud. Kodak can now offer end users a much less expensive point of entry into the workflow of their dreams. They can offer all the tools the big boys use, but at a much smaller foot print, and a pay as you go model. I’ll leave the pricing up to the brain trust in Rochester for that. Some changes would need to happen with Prinergy like new access rights in workshop where people who log in only see jobs that they are entitled to see, like in InSite, that sort of thing. How to access the storage over the internet would also need to be addressed, but bigger hurdles have been overcome.

Bandwidth is getting cheaper every day so that should not be an issue. Certainly you are not going to run a 1000 plate a day operation on this type of deal, but 50-100 plates…maybe. Kodak service would be thrilled about this. The RC is already in place and all you would need to do is place a call and the rest is up to Kodak. No Kodak RSS to install, no onsite visits. Think about prep houses or even comp houses that have no plating operations, even better. Upload your PDF files to the cloud, bing, bang, boom…you have a ripped, trapped, color managed PDF files in no time. Your files are ready to be approved by your customer via InSite, exported, and downloaded or whatever. No worrying about Prinergy upgrades, OS patches, virus updates or any of that nonsense.

Think about it and let me know. Kodak, do you have your ears on?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Change Taking Place

The only thing that is steady is that fact we need to deal with change. If it's not one thing its another. I just spent 3 long weeks at a sister plant dealing with systems and work flows and people who buck change. Really the floor people were all up for a huge dose of change, it's the management that held to their guns on this.The floor folks felt that they were not being listened to. Maybe management felt they could not implement sweeping change like that. But they could have listened a bit more. There were brick walls everywhere I turned. If I hear one more time "it's not my job" I think I'm going to scream! or how about "Well that's the way we have done it for the past XX years, we can't change now!" That person needed a huge knuckle sandwich for that one. But people feel that after hitting a wall for so long, why ask for change, it will just get refused. One group of technology minded folks told me... "Tom, if our floors could talk, you would be amazed at how many great ideas died right here cause we felt upper management would kill our idea's" How sad!! Do you really feel that no one listens in your job? Do you have great ideas that just die on the spot because you say no one will listen? At this plant, I had to go to the plant manager and the head of HR to get people to understand what was happening. Change does not happen overnight. This is a culture shift. But its happening. Slowly and surely its happening. I have seen great strides in the past 3 weeks. People opening up and talking, walls falling and ideas being shared.

It's really amazing what can happen if you bring people together.