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Andrew Lloyd Gordon "Web Marketing Expert" (UK)

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Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure
Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure
by Tim Harford
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book - a solid argument delivered well, 29 July 2011
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Brief review

Recommended.

An enjoyable, easy to read business book. Develops a solid argument that a disciplined process of trial and error eventually produces the most adaptive solution(s).

Longer review

Other reviewers here have explained the core concepts of Harford's book better than I can. However, as I understand it, Harford's argument is that we would be better served if we applied the 'process' of evolution in a structured way. That is to say that we should create situations where we encourage:

1. A culture of experimentation
2. The generation of a variety of solutions to challenges
3. The isolation of these solutions (so as to encourage originality)
4. A willingness to accept failure
5. An ability to spot the real winners to problems

As Harford points out, if our culture was more willing to experiment and accept failure, we would rapidly discover effective solutions to challenges in areas such as medicine, humanitarian aid, business, banking and even counter-insurgency!

I really enjoyed this book and can recommend it to you. Indeed, I found it a bit of a page turner. I kept on wanting to see how Harford developed his thesis.

The only point at which the book lost me a little, was when Harford delved too deeply (for my liking) into the banking/credit crisis. I could see why he did so and how it supported his main points, but I felt that this material was a little long-winded.

The other part of the book that didn't quite work for me is towards the end. Here, Harford explains how you can use his ideas in your everyday life. Whilst I agree with him, I thought this section weak and of little practical use. The book had also strayed unhelpfully into pop-psychology and self-help.

Nevertheless, despite these minor complaints, I thought this was an excellent book and well worth the money!


HP Officejet Pro 8500A e-All-in-One Web Enabled Printer  (Print, Scan, Copy, Fax, Wireless, e-Print)
HP Officejet Pro 8500A e-All-in-One Web Enabled Printer (Print, Scan, Copy, Fax, Wireless, e-Print)

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wireless free heaven - Easy to set up with good results, 26 July 2011
BRIEF REVIEW

Recommended.

Works a treat. Simple to install. Reliable (so far) and beats having a computer tied to a printer.

Downsides: large desktop foot print. Slow-ish to start. Print quality OK.

LONGER REVIEW

I did a stupid thing once I'd bought this printer. I read the reviews about it AFTER I'd paid for it!

I know, I know. That's not the way you're supposed to do it...

You're supposed to check out the reviews for a product and then use your red laser scanner on your smartphone to find the best price, ask all your friends on Facebook, send out a tweet, spend hours and hours online checking out all of the review sites and trawling around the forums to find out what people really think.

Only THEN are you supposed to buy the right product at the right price!

But I fell for a special deal and bought this machine on a whim.

And I'm glad I did.

Despite some of the negative reviews I (have now) read, the printer was very easy to set up and install. I had it working and 'speaking' with two laptops, one ipad and 2 smartphones in our home within about an hour of it being unwrapped.

The print quality is great. Not as detailed or as fine as say an high-end laser printer but it serves our general needs well. The ability to scan, photocopy and fax (who needs a fax these days?!) is also very welcome.

But it's the wonder of wifi-enabled printing that really does it for me. It's fantastic to be anywhere in the house and being able to send a photo, map or document to the printer anytime you want. And all without having to fiddle with memory cards or cables. Bliss!

Indeed, there's something strangely satisfying to hear the printer starting up within seconds of you zapping a file to the device.

So, I confidently recommend this printer to you.

However...

The only issues I have with it (and they're minor) is that it does seem to take a long time to start. And that it takes up a huge amount of space on my desk. The latter reason being, I feel, because of the way the paper tray juts out some distance from the main body of the machine.

Other than these niggles, I think it's a great machine.

It will probably break down on me now ;)
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 4, 2012 3:43 PM GMT


Everything is Obvious: How Common Sense Fails
Everything is Obvious: How Common Sense Fails
by Duncan J. Watts
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.99

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking, serious and challenging but of little practical use, 25 July 2011
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Brief Review

Buy this book for an easy-to-read and solidly researched guide into how human beings think and make decisions. Do not, however, expect to discover much substance on how to correct or manage these cognitive flaws.

Longer Review

Duncan Watts has written an important book that should be read by managers, politicians and leaders of every kind. Although it won't be because these are just the sort of people who DON'T think they need this sort of help!

The key message I took away was that 'common sense' (Watts describes what this can be thought of) is useful in our everyday lives. However, despite the value we place on it, our simple, intuitive understanding of the world is simply not good enough when it comes to explaining the past, understanding the present or planning for the future. Or, in other words, we should not reply upon our simplistic mental models to explain the world.

Thus, the world is far more complex than our brains can comprehend.

Whilst this might sound obvious, Watts demonstrates time and time again how people and organisations have relied on pretty flaky thinking in a wide variety of settings. And whilst I'd read about many of these type of cognitive failings before, it was enjoyable to read Watt's take upon them.

The difficulty for us - including you and me dear reader - is that, even though we may know about these cognitive failings, we are still going to suffer from them. This is the way our brains, all of our brains, are wired. This is how we think and decide. Indeed, the cognitive failings Watts describes are a bit like those A-level Psychology optical illusions you're probably familiar with. Even though you know you're looking at an optical illusion, you still suffer from the illusion despite yourself!

Thus, as Watt's points out, we need to be very self-aware and understand how we and everyone else actually thinks. Which is why, I guess, I found Watt's book a little lacking.

I was hoping that his book would provide more of a solid framework for circumventing our intellectual weaknesses. To be fair, he does give some brief suggestions on how to test ideas in a more scientific manner (which is what his book is all about). Unfortunately for me, this latter part of the book is very light on detail and paints a picture of how to do this with very broad brush strokes.

So, in conclusion, I'm glad I read this book. I got a lot out of it and can recommend it to you.

I did think, however, that it was more of a 'How To' book than it actually is. Which should have been, I guess, obvious...
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 17, 2011 8:13 AM BST


Future Babble: Why Expert Predictions Fail and Why We Believe them Anyway
Future Babble: Why Expert Predictions Fail and Why We Believe them Anyway
by Dan Gardner
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Made me think differently about the information I'm exposed to, 15 Jun. 2011
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Summary:

A fascinating book that explains why human beings crave certainty about the future and why we're suckers for people (Experts) who make predictions about what will happen next.

A little long-winded at times. Almost too many examples of failure. But ends with useful ideas on how to make better quality decisions.

Recommended.

Full Review:

Who can you trust to tell you what's going to happen in the future?

No one.

Especially 'Experts'. Oh no, don't trust any of those...

At least that's the way I feel now after reading Future Babble by Dan Gardner. In this serious book, Gardner explains why we have an in-built desire to know the future. He also demonstrates, again and again, why we are so bad at prediction.

Yet, despite the countless attempts at predicting the future, we still seek out people who claim to know what's coming. We will even pay attention to those who make new predictions when their previous prediction proved to be wrong e.g. an Economist revising their predictions for the economy when new economic data undermines their previously expressed views.

In the book, you're introduced to the metaphors of 'Hedgehogs' and 'Foxes'.

Hedgehogs are experts or opinion makers who have one 'Big Idea' or concept through which they see the world. They use this basic concept to make predictions about the future. Sometimes they're right but usually they're not. But when they're shown to have been wrong, they'll claim that there were other factors at play or that their prediction is still valid but, 'not just yet' and so on.

Foxes, on the other hand, take a more balanced and nuanced view of the world. They are willing to incorporate different pieces of data into their worldview. They're more prepared to accept that they might be wrong about their ideas and predictions.

Now, whilst Foxes don't get it right either, they've got a better chance of making better quality predictions because of their ability to see complexity. At the very least, they're prepared to accept that they don't have all of the information and that the world is a complex place i.e. one simple explanation will not do.

Gardner uses these metaphors throughout the book. They're not his in fact (they're from Professor Tetlock's famous study into 'Expert Political Judgement) but they help you see why some Experts get it so wrong and whilst others can (occasionally) get closer to the mark.

My only criticism of the book is that because Gardner describes one predictive failure after another, I got a little tired reading about them. Not that they weren't interesting and often amusing but more that I got 'failure fatigue'.

After reading about several poor attempts to predict future events, I 'got it' and just wanted to skip to any part of the book where Gardner could provide suggestions on how to make better quality predictions.

This he does in part. Although he doesn't attempt to give the reader a 'Prediction Tool Kit'. Indeed, he makes it very plain that we can't predict the future. Although that won't stop us trying...


How Brands Grow: What Marketers Don't Know
How Brands Grow: What Marketers Don't Know
by Byron Sharp
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.25

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marketing under the spotlight, 28 April 2011
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I love this book.

It's the first book on marketing I've read - and I've read many, many books on marketing - where I was presented with hard, solid data for the claims that are made. Almost all of the other marketing books have relied upon waffly anecdotes and less than scientific 'evidence'.

What Bryon Sharp has done is point a very bright light on marketing and branding. By using statistically relevant data, gathered across many different industries and countries, he pulls the rug from under many of the commonly accepted 'hearsay' views of marketing.

For example, he shows how dis-loyal loyal customers can be. He pulls apart certain concepts around Differentiation and Price Promotions. He also explains the role that Advertising really plays.

But that's not all he does. As Bryon chops away at the hype and puffery, he provides instead a solid and convincing framework for effective marketing and branding.

As with others here, I wish more professional marketers would read and learn from this book. As Byron Sharp points out, what we should be moving to is a world of evidence based marketing. And the evidence of - if we apply the lessons of this book - increased sales, revenue and profits.

Highly recommended.


Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
by Daniel H. Pink
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

72 of 79 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Important ideas in a padded out book, 28 Feb. 2011
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Summary: an important book that discusses an important topic. Everything is explained very well and laid out clearly. If you need to motivate people, whether that's employees, co-workers or even children, then you'll learn from this book.

Sometimes I wish Amazon would allow you to give a book half a star. Because, if I could, I'd rate this book 3.5 out of 5 rather than 3 stars.

It's a decent book that discusses an important topic - how and why people are motivated to do everything from the mundane to the marvelous.

The basic argument presented by Pink - which he bases upon proper research - is that for simple, 'boring' tasks, such as manual work, human beings respond to financial rewards. So, if you pay me £10 per hour to shovel coal, I'll work harder for you than if you only paid me £5 (all things being equal).

However, for more complex, professional managerial or 'white collar' activities, this model of pay and reward doesn't work. Indeed, it can be counter-productive and can damage motivation and productivity.

To learn why you should buy the book :)

The problem for me, is once you 'get' this main idea the book has few solid examples of how this theory has or could be applied.

Pink is a great writer. He has a talent for summarising the complex. He does this so well early on the book that I felt he had to keep repeating himself. Whilst I don't mind an argument being reinforced, this one is so obvious once you're exposed to it, that I felt the book had become padded out towards the end.

This is not to devalue the concepts presented. Absolutely not. I only wish more managers read this material and applied it. We'd all enjoy happier and more productive working lives if we did.

Although it's easy for me to be an 'armchair critic', I didn't enjoy this work from Pink as much as I'd expected.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 27, 2015 3:54 PM BST


e-mail Marketing For Dummies
e-mail Marketing For Dummies
by John Arnold
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, solid introduction to Email Marketing but uninspiring in parts, 12 Feb. 2011
Summary:

A decent introduction to Email Marketing.

Covers the basics and gives you a good grounding. Goes into depth in just about every area of Email Marketing that you need to know about. It just lacked 'sparkle' as a book for me and I found it heavy going.

3.5 stars would be a more accurate rating.

Review:

What can you say about Dummies books? They're well written, easy to read and comprehensive. Indeed, you're actually very smart in reading them.

This book on Email Marketing is no exception. It's well written, easy to read and comprehensive. It's just that I found it a little...dull.

Maybe this is because I'm too familiar with the content (Disclosure: I train people in Email Marketing). Or maybe it's because you can't write exciting prose (can you?) about 'From Fields', 'Subject Lines', HTML formatting and Bounce Rates etc.

On the positive side, if you're thinking about starting Email Marketing or would like to improve your existing campaigns, then this book will give you plenty to think about. There's not a stone left unturned. Every important aspect of Email is covered in plenty of detail.

For example, there's a good section on Strategy and Planning. Which is an area of Email Marketing that I find is lacking in many organisations.

Nevertheless, for me, the downsides of the book include the fact that this version of the book is looking dated. It doesn't mention 'social media' at all (I've just double checked by searching for the keywords on my Kindle App). And, unsurprisingly, it doesn't relate well in a UK or European legal framework.

Finally, I've just realised, I think, why I've struggled to engage with this book.

As with all Dummies books, this book is page after page of checklists. Or even paragraphs that read like checklists.

Although checklists are useful, they become boring to read very quickly :(


Performance Marketing with Google Analytics: Strategies and Techniques for Maximizing Online ROI
Performance Marketing with Google Analytics: Strategies and Techniques for Maximizing Online ROI
Price: £25.64

5.0 out of 5 stars Great companion to Google Analytics, 12 Feb. 2011
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Summary: I recommend anyone involved in web marketing and analytics to buy this book. Even though I was familiar with much of the contents, I still learned a great deal.

Review

Google Analytics, Google's free website analytics software, is easy to install, configure and use.

Despite this ease-of-use, organisations that install the software are often not making the most of its potential. This is where, 'Performance Marketing with Google Analytics' comes in.

The book covers the following areas:

- An overview of the digital landscape
- How to use data to drive marketing improvements
- The importance of Goals and Strategy
- How Google Analytics works and how to install it
- The various ways in which you can use Google Analytics to conduct analysis
- Using the software to improve your website
- Applying Google Analytics to Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Search Enging Optimisation, Display Advertising, Social Media Marketing, Email Marketing and even offline marketing

There's also a brief but useful section at the end of other resources you can turn to.

Throughout the book, the authors provides 'real world' examples of how Google Analytics can be used. They talk you through different scenarios and how others are making the most out of the software.

I also like the fact that the authors (there are 3) introduce wider topics such as 'Website Optimisation'. This draws your attention to the fact that Analytics cannot be seen in isolation and should be part of a wider effort to improve your online presence.

The only warning I would make is that, at times, the book can be a little bit technical. It's not a proper, in-depth techie manual but it could lose people new to the field. However, for the majority of people at Intermediate or Advanced levels, this will not cause you any problems.

Yes, there are other books on web analytics and Google Analytics specificially. Nevertheless, as a broad, engaging read, this book will help you get much more out of Google Analytics. No matter how easy you think it already is :)


Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion
Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion
by Gary Vaynerchuk
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Admire the man, don't admire the book, 12 Feb. 2011
When you realise how successful Gary has been in using web marketing and social media you have to tip your hat to the man. He talks the talk and also walks the walk. He's the real deal and I admire what he's achieved.

Unfortunately I felt let down by this book. Not because Gary doesn't share his enthusiasm for marketing and promotion using his methods - he does so very well - but more that the book itself isn't that great.

As other reviewers have noted, this is a short book. There can be advantages when books keep to the point. However, with this book I felt that there wasn't enough 'flesh on the bones'. There are lots of 'do this and try that' without much actual information you can follow.

To be fair, I guess there are many, many other books you can read to find how to do the things Gary has done. But I would have preferred a little more detailed information.

So, if you're looking for inspiration and rousing 'You can do it too!' copy, then this is a book for you. But if you're looking for a practical guide that will move your marketing forward, look elsewhere.


No Title Available

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to set up and simple to use, 7 Feb. 2011
This is a great little product. And if you run a lot of training courses (as I do) then it's an essential bit of kit.

As you can see from the product images, you simply insert the USB key (which normally sits within the device itself) into your PC or laptop and away you go. You can move your slides forwards and backwards and also make the screen go blank.

The red laser pointer is very useful. Especially when you're some distance from the screen but need to highlight something to the audience.

The only downside I've found (and it isn't much of one) is that the pressing of the buttons makes a loud 'click'. Not a problem but in the quieter moments of your presentation - when you hope the audience is concentrating and not asleep- it can be the only sound everyone hears!

Apart from that, this is a gem of a product and recommended :)


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