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Techlife » 2008 » January
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January 2008

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HEMA: Brillant Design and Execution

To be unique in today’s business environment you need more than creativity. You need management willing to take a risk, and top notch people to bring the idea to life. HEMA, a Dutch Department Store has what it takes. HEMA gets it.

As many longtime readers know Techlife has a day job, providing marketing and technology consulting which includes web site design. We are always looking for unique examples, that really engage the user. We got this email from Charlie S., a reader and customer.

HEMA is a Dutch department store. The first store opened on November 4, 1926, in Amsterdam. Now there are 150 stores all over the Netherlands. HEMA also has stores in Belgium, Luxemburg, and Germany. In June of this year, HEMA was sold to British investment company Lion Capital.

Take a look at HEMA’s product page. You can’t order anything and it’s in Dutch but just wait a couple of minutes and watch what happens on the page.

Charlie’s email proves something that HEMA executives figured out. Make something unique and people will help virally market for you. HEMA’s site has attracted positive attention, just look at these headlines. Who wouldn’t want these types of things associated with their company?

Creativity Matters

Hema – Greatest Store Ever

Great Website

HEMA: Breaking Through The Clutter of Online Retail

Cool Site of the Month

Cool Online Catalog Promo

HEMA: Innovative Error Page or Advertisement – You Decide

HEMA has people touting the greatness of their products, talking about their company, using words like creativity, greatest, cool, and innovative. People don’t mind marketing when it has an entertaining purpose. They embrace it.
Have you seen a great Rube-Goldberg or unique marketing idea? Let us know in the comments.

One of my favorites is Honda’s Rube Goldberg. What sets these apart from other ads is the time and energy in the productions, people appreciate the clever, hard work that makes a few seconds of enjoyment, but a lasting impression.

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History of Religion by MapsofWar.com

A reader emailed me MapsofWar.com and I was intrigued. But the mystery only starts with the amazing visuals spanning 5,000 years of religion or imperialism.

Many clients I work with ask me to visually simplify complex problems and we use various techniques to deliver stunning solutions. Maps of War has used history as the backdrop for an artist who’s medium is Flash and large data sets. Techlife interviewed the creator and artist of Maps of War, who wished to remain anonymous.

Techlife: MoW is a dynamic project, why did you create the first MoW? Which one is it?

Maps of War: The first map was Imperial History of the Middle East. This map was the original idea I wanted to share with everyone, and the overall site was created to showcase it.

Imperial History by MapsofWar.com


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Reading by Christine RondeauThank the readers. Yes, I really mean you the person reading this right now. Last month we passed a huge milestone, more than 2,000 readers have contacted me since we started Techlife. While I know that not everyone can write in, I thank all my readers, especially YOU.

As many of you know Techlife is syndicated column and an online blog. We write much more online than can fit in the print edition. And boy do we cover it, from acapella Nintendo to Muhammad Ali to Doodle to TiVo HD. And that’s all the stuff NOT in this column from just last month.

What we do have is a special interview with an anonymous artist. Why anonymous? We’ll let him tell you. His work speaks for itself, it is site worth visiting.

(part of the syndicated print column’s writing process exposed to online readers)

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Business Notepad 2 by Steve WoodsDo you have ideas, questions or comments? Not sure how to make them happen? Techlife can do a lot. Just ask us. Hit me via email at: techlife [ at ] dkworldwide [dot] com. Do you subscribe to the RSS feed for Techlife? Visit the TechLife weblog where all you need to do is point and click.(part of the syndicated print column’s writing process exposed to online readers)

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When used effectively animation is a great tool, as it helps make complex concepts quite simple.  Does your company run into the complex explanation all to often?  Let me help you simplify that message.  As a marketing and technology proven “venture strategist” I want to meet businesses and organizations that are looking for a way to break out, all it takes is an invitation. Contact me, it’s easy: techlife [at] dkworldwide [dot] com.

(part of the syndicated print column’s writing process exposed to online readers)

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TiVo HDWhile they last at Amazon, get a TiVo HD for just $257, saving nearly $45. Of course you also get free ground shipping which makes this an even better deal. I have been reading about all the great features, and am pretty excited about Amazon’s Unbox partnership with TiVo. I will be able to download movies from Amazon and have them show up on my TiVo.

Amazon Unbox and TiVo

Even better with the TiVo HD I can do Progressive Download of Amazon Unbox, which means I can get my movie and start watching just 10 min later. That’s quicker than a trip to the video store!
Techlife has been a long time user of TiVo, since back in 2000 with a TiVo Series 1 when it was a gift from a friend. We thank him every chance we get.

Since then nearly every person who has ever seen our TiVo has not just craved one but bought one. We have returned the favor and bought a few as gifts and the “thank you’s” have been overwhelming. All in all, more than 100 people now have a TiVo home and even more impressive at least 8 come to mind who have multiple TiVo’s in their home.

So it was time. Time for us to consider upgrading the TiVo Series 1. There have been quite a few changes since then, as most people know you are looking at a TiVo Series 2 and a TiVo HD Series 3, but there was an intriguing option that I kept coming back to, the TiVo HD, which didn’t list “series”. This had a lower capacity but still High Definition recording in a PVR with the TiVo software. How could I go wrong? After a bit more research I was sold. It lists for $299.99 in most retailers, but thanks to Amazon’s great deal it is less, at least today.

What is the best feature of your TiVo? What is the best feature of your TiVo Series 2 or Series 3? Leave a comment.

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Ballistick - new features include, custom spinners, pets, a store, a map maker and editor

Techlife has just learned that XGen Studios is now a developer for the WiiWare program.  Might Stick Arena or Stick Arena Ballistick be released for the Wii one day? We were pretty shocked too. Nintendo has a developer program with the Wii, known as WiiWare for smaller developers to build content for the platform. Combined with all we know about Stick Arena‘s long awaited title, it appears a multi-platform release might be in the works at some point. While we can’t confirm this, a recent press release from XGen says:

XGen Studios is developing an original title for Nintendo’s upcoming WiiWareâ„¢ service…

It goes on to say:

…inspired by an existing cult classic from the studio, and will allow up to 4 simultaneous players while leveraging the unique capabilities of the Wii Remoteâ„¢…


…classic game play enjoyed by Millions is coming to your living room in the form of a new title with compelling additions…

and finally

…jump-in, jump-out casual style appeals to a broad audience for both quick and extended play sessions…

Reading between the lines it would appear that we are in a for a treat. The real question is will the 6.3 million Wii owners be able to interact with the PC gamers, I would think they won’t. But your username might port between the two, allowing a character to travel with you. Imagine playing Stick Arena Ballistick on your Wii online and on your PC online.  Once we all are playing Ballistick on the PC, imagine having a party and Grandma slices Uncle Charlie, only to find herself on the end of a barrage of gunfire.  Brings a whole new meaning to “The war at home.”
Ballistick with new weapons - Chainsaw, Gattling Gun, Lightsaber, and that red triangle item??

And in other Stick Arena Ballistick News…there is an impatient group of loyal Techlife readers who have logged over 700 comments about how excited they are for Ballistick. For all of them, I want to give them a heads up, an exciting announcement is coming shortly. We are targetting next week on Techlife and TechlifeTV the news. As a teaser, we have confirmed that there are 6 new weapons for Ballistick. For a bit of fun, we are going to release their initials…

  • CG
  • LS
  • TH
  • FT
  • CS
  • RG

Got any guesses? Let the comments begin!

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Screenshot of Doodle PollLoyal Techlife reader Alan wrote in asking if we knew of a solution to run a simple office pool about when the CEO’s wife was going to give birth. This is actually a really good problem and we jumped in with two feet.

Alan shook off our first two attempts which involved loyal stand-by Google Docs and their spreadsheet application. I suggested he create a spreadsheet, invite everyone in the office to share it, have them add their guess for dates and times. I also suggested Google Calendar. He could create a shared calendar and everyone could input their dates and times. As I said, Alan was pushing for something better. That’s when I remembered Doodle.

Doodle Logo

Doodle is a free service that is designed to do one thing very well, schedule people to a single event. It really shines when those people don’t use the same shared calendar. Doodle was created by Michael Näf and Paul Sevinç and their company Inturico Engineering out of Zurich, Switzerland.

Since the launch they have been written up by 43folders among others. Development is constantly continuing, Doodle is available in 16 languages and also has a polling tool. It is a simple site and the Techlife friends have used it to organize parties, a trip to a winery, and a fantasy football draft, as well as the boring and mundane meetings and conference calls.

The reaction from first-timers usually is, “So easy. I am going to use it for the next meeting.”

In Alan’s case he would need to just “schedule an event.” Give it a title, most likely, When will the CEO’s wife give birth? Add a description like, enter you name and check the date, and drop $5 off at my desk. Each person’s name may only have one checkbox checked.

The best thing to do is try Doodle so we created a poll to help you get started. Visit our poll to answer, and leave a comment below about how you have used Doodle.

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Muhammad Ali from the book GOAT by Jeff Koons

What do you do with all the Amazon Gift Cards you got for the holidays?

Amazon has long offered some treasures, one treasure that’s been out for a while is GOAT, a mammoth book about boxing legend, Muhammad Ali. Ali’s nickname GOAT, (Greatest of All Time) is among his many nicknames. And the tale of the tape is this 800 pages measures at 20 inches by 20 inches and weighs in at more than 75 lbs. Of course the Champion Edition is the one to have, setting you back slightly at $11,250, but hey, it’s on sale right now saving you $1,250.

GOAT from GOAT book by Jeff Koons
The regular hardcover GOAT book is on sale for a steal at $3,600, a $400 savings off the list price. There were a total of 10,000 printed and the first 1,000 are the Champion Edition. All of them are signed by Ali and Jeff Koons the author, with the Champion Edition additionally coming with silver gelatin prints.

As always Ali is a trend maker. The NFL followed by creating Super Bowl XL Opus MVP Edition (Leather Bound) a special limited run item available for just $40,000. Of course the limited MVP Edition has a signed page by every living Superbowl MVP, and only 400 were made. Of the 20,000 Opus run, it too measures 20 inches by 20 inches with 850 pages it weighs more than 80 lbs. Both the MVP Edition and the Super Bowl XL Opus Limited Edition contain embedded microchips to ensure authenticity. Oh yeah, that limited edition is available without the signed MVP’s for just $3,000, but seriously who wants that?

Super Bowl XL Opus MVP Edition

And while your gift certificates might leave you a little short, the next time you give a gift, tell the person they should apply your gift card to either book. It will at least get a laugh. Let us know how many of these books you will be buying in the comments.

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