Fences grow faster than trees here!
Bariloche is placed in a National Park (Nahuel Huapi) which is, to say the least, odd... since I don't really think it is either wise or otherwise seen to place a 100,000 inhabitants city in a National Park.
It is one of Argentina's preferred tourist destinations, thus it has an ever-growing population and developments (the quality of most of the "developments" should be subject of a longer post).
I was born and raised in this place and I know most of the surroundings quite well. So today, as rain gave us a small break we decided we should go for a walk to Cerro Otto.
First shock was the state of abandonment of the mountain trails, since no-one has cut off any of the fallen trees on the trail for quite some time. Second shock came when our stroll came to an abrupt end due to fences. Everywhere. Quite sad to loose the possibility to go to some of the amazing places this city has to offer due to political corruption and selling of government's land.
On the bright side the day was cold but sunny so I'll leave you with some pictures. You can check them at flickr as well,
View Towards Cerro Catedral from Cerro Otto
Lake Gutierrez and "Hasburg Rock" towards the right.
A tree (photo by Luciana)
Cerro Otto Mountain trail.
Mr. Twain (who, by the way, is my favourite North American Author) allegedly wrote:
The coldest winter I ever saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco.
I've been to San Francisco in winter... and it was warmer than this summer in Bariloche. I hadn't been here for the past two years; enough time to almost forget the lousy weather.
The odd thing is, even though its rainy, cold and windy, I love it. One of the things I miss most living at Buenos Aires if the horrible climate conditions (and I absolutely hate Buenos Aire's humidity and heat). The constant drizzle, low temperatures, and wind that can drive you crazy in about 15 seconds are things I really appreciate. Blame it on being born and raised in this place. I guess people born in Seattle or Dublin or other places known for their lack of nice weather conditions might be fond of them too.
All that being said it's very refreshing to be typing at this ThinkPad while staring through the window and to a breath-taking view of Nahuel Huapi lake. I could get used to this. Too bad it'll only last 4 more days.
Off I go to my high school 10 year reunion...
I'm leaving tonight. Heading south to patagonia we'll spend Christmas and the following week in Bariloche. Although I am taking my good old ThinkPad with me I might not log on too much if I'm entertained.
Happy Holidays to all in case I don't post before Christmas.
The aim of the game, for those who don't know it yet is to tell 5 things about yourself you wouldn't otherwise post on your blog and then Tag 5 more people.
So, here we go:
- I bite the flesh around my nails when I'm anxious and expecting. NOT when I'm nervous, since I don't usually feel that Nervous. It's an awful habit and very difficult to get rid of it.
- I am 2 final exams away from getting my major degree on Contemporary Musical Composition, Although I should of done them 2 years ago. I still can do them but really don't know if when or even if it will happen (I don't "believe" in traditional education).
- Before going into Music I almost Studied Astronomy. I'm still very fond of it, and read as much as I can on the subject. I still feel strong for Science in general (I mean I even married a Biotechnologist!) and there's a sort of scientist "dormant" inside me somewhere. I also considered going into computer sciences, but since my eldest brother, Bernie, was already in the subject I decided otherwise (as a Side note, I'm the youngest of four brothers, consider this thing "3.5" about me).
- I only went into web because I needed a job... and it came easy to me. With time I got passionate about it and I love it. I am totally addicted to what I do.
- I get easily bored about stuff I'm not interested in, and/or if I don't feel a mental challenge about what I'm doing. This can be considered both an advantage or a great disadvantage. Over time I have learnt to deal with it and create challenges for myself if the people in charge of that fail to do so. This has also brought me some issues... but I wont get into any details since it would make this post too long.
That's it, now it's time to pass it on:
Aviansh Kaushik's blog presents "Ten Minutes With….. Mike Moran, IBM", an absolutely MUST for anyone with any level of involvement on Web.
One of my favourite phrases is Mike's reply to "How do you make yourself indispensable to a company?":
I think passion is a big part of it. Find what you are passionate about and go after it–you’ll do a better job. But you also need to find out what is important to your company.
So ABC... yet so overlooked.
An interesting part of web analytics is to determine if the facts and figures you are getting are good or bad. Of course there are some obvious answers, for example, revenue is pretty much fair and square self-explanatory; the more you sale, the more successful your site is. As a matter of fact Conversions in general might be considered as easy, to understand (higher percentage of conversions - better) although there are some other variables coming into play that should be considered (like what I mention about "out-of-the-web-conversions" on this post).
But the real deal is how to measure all the other stuff going on that gets reflected into metrics. Is a 20 page visit good or is it someone who can't possibly find what he/she is looking for? A long visit depicts interest? If someone goes form point A to point B, back to A, to C, to A, to D and so on, is that user lost, looking for something or comparing? What is the mean time to complete a conversion? The list of questions is endless.
So, what can be done to start getting some answers? Nothing very easy. some very serious "profiling" of a given number of "model" visits needs to be done. There are several ways to achieve this. One way is to have a "user experience" group set up and asking them to achieve different goals and measuring what they do. Of course as with any "sample" you only get an approximate idea of what's going on; but approximate if far better than no idea at all.
The other alternative is to get some sort of understanding of your metrics and as much feedback from the users as you can possibly get. Surveys are a good way to get this; and they can be very useful if you can cross-link it to your current metrics problem since a post of the type "your site sucks, I tried to buy a Wii and failed miserably" is far more useful if you know what the angry customer did before (and after) he gave you the feedback.
Usually customers will give you no clues about what they did on your site, but will tell you what they were after. In order for that non-technical feedback to be of any real use a deep analysis of every negative feedback must be made. You must bare in mind that most people will only give you feedback when angry or frustrated. Use this to your advantage. The other thing is that only a rather small group of people will give you feedback this way. The vast majority of people will simply leave when frustrated.
Another good way to think about this issue is having access to any sort of benchmarks to similar sites as yours. This is something that can't always be achieved, since your competition usually won't be very happy sharing sensitive information with you. In that case you can always try to surf through similar sites and pinpoint key differences in navigational flow / times / ways to access important areas.
One of the best answers, I think, is external consulting. I am not too fond of external -anything- in general if a company has the means to afford having "inside stuff"; but this is one of those cases where the general knowledge a consulting group might have on other sites becomes crucial. Thus a broader view is welcome.
Finally common sense and permanent studying and knowledge acquisition is also key. Since the web in general is in permanent change and evolution, permeated by new trends and technologies what was absolutely true 2 years ago might become totally obsolete and out of date today.
Read, Learn and Listen.
I could probably write a whole book about about what I like the program and the general user community, but I won't be focusing into this for now.
What has amazed me now that a new version of the program has come out is the fuzz this has generated around the web (a visible fuzz if you usually visit Computer Generated Graphics's forums, blogs and sites). The software promotes itself in a way I've only seen on things that are much more mainstream. Because, let's face it, programs such as Terragen belong to a very we'll defined userbase niche.
I'm pretty sure that this viral marketing approach was not something intentional, but rather the result of a serious lack of funds to market the software more "conventionally". As a matter of fact, the viral nature of Terragen's marketing is very interesting since it was spontaneous.
Let's analyse what I consider the success keys of this case.
1. An excellent product (and free!)
It should be the base for all Marketing campaigns, viral or not. But it is even more important on viral campaigns since the word of mouth bubble will pop as before you can say "it sucks".
The fact that the program was free with restrictions that only made the purchase a must for those users with some experience on it was very important. That gave users the time to get a real feel on what the product could do before they chose to buy it.
The bad thing about X-days trials (usually 30) is that you never have enough time during that 30 days to really evaluate anything.
2. Good (and constant) communication.
Ever since I've been involved in the community ,I can remember the guys at Planetside posting at Yahoo's Terragen Group. This communication became somewhat interrupted when Matt Fairclough (the "soul" of Terragen) couldn't say much due to contractual reasons (he went to develop Terragen for DigitalDomain). But even then Matt "hired" Jo Meder to port the software to Mac. Ever since that day Jo has been always willing to write and share what was going on. Less Directly the guys slipped tids and bits of information to key community members, who'd communicate them to the rest of us.
Lots of webpages and sites were built around Terragen, it's users and it's renders, and any news got everywhere at the light of speed (or existing internet connections).
In a sort of anecdotal note, Oshyan Greene, key member of one of the most visible Terragen communities, Ashundar, recently became Planetside's PR guy.
3. The "sense of belonging".
It goes along good communications and its one of the hardest things to achieve "artificially". The community always had the sense the program was being developed for them and that Planetside was always listening.
Besides the feeling of being part of something great happening was there (at least for long time users).
All of this things make an evangelist out of every user. It creates the necessity to share the program and what's made with the program with every one. thus the viral effect is persistent and visible on each and every new enthusiast.
It might be hard to achieve for companies or larger business, but not impossible if the mind set is right.
Haven't had the chance to play much with it yet, but intend to during the weekend.
Thanks for a neat release!
These tiny icons encourage readers to discuss an article or blog post on the target site -- thereby enriching the user experience -- but they're also crass tools of promotion. Publishers hope that a link on Digg or Newsvine will drive traffic back to the original story on their site -- which is why bloggers add the buttons to their posts in the first place.
It's funny seeing those icons reproduce as wild rabbits on a lot of blogs.
I guess I'll have to start working on adding some of those myself. Nay... I don't think I will...
Luciana and I are going to Bariloche for Christmas and a week's vacation. It has been over two years since I last went to my home town and I must admit I'm looking forward about going.
The idea was to have everybody there, but one of my brothers couldn't get tickets for that date. Too bad.
On December 30 we're rushing back to Buenos Aires just to go back to Junin and spend New Year with my in-laws...
Quite a week! I'll post some pictures and stuff.