Towering Aspirations of Growth and Excellence

Today I stumbled upon a Manifesto by one of the most inspiring people I have ever had the honor of attending one of his seminars: Tom Peters.

In this Enterprise Manifesto, Tom talks about what an enterprise could or should be:

“An emotional, vital, innovative, joyful, creative, entrepreneurial endeavor that maximizes individuals’ growth and elicits maximum concerted human potential in the wholehearted service of others.”

(Examine this definition one word at the time!)

And about what an organisation is (no more, no less):

“An Organization Is “People Serving People.” (Period!)”

Not really new insights one might say, but the consequences of these insights should be translated into your company’s strategy, and that’s a big deal apparently. Who else than Tom would suggest you to love your competitors, to help them?

And you know, I think he’s right…

Take ten minutes of your valuable time and read the Enterprise Manifesto yourself. You won’t regret it, I promise.

Google for dummies

If at the next cocktail party you attend someone walks up to you and asks for the seven millionth time how you can work with Google without working for Google, these are the videos you have to show them (and shut them up forever):

As a company, Google focuses on three key areas: Search, Ads and Apps. Search is our core technology; ads are our central business proposition; and apps are the umbrella over our web-based software that you can access anywhere, any time. While each of these has a lot of technology under the hood, the basic tenets for Search, Ads and Apps are very simple. We’ve created some short videos explaining the principles behind our core services.

How Google Search works by Matt Cutts:

How Google Search Ads work by Nundu Janakiram:

How Google Apps work by Vivian Leung:

via How Google Works

How I ordered a Google Nexus One

The moment Google announced the specifications of the smartphone they were about to release, I wanted to order it. I have been hesitating for a long time about buying an iPhone, but the real reason it never happened was because Apple tends to keep everything closed, from the device itself to its’ App Store. No changing batteries, no adding storage, …

The Nexus One runs on Android 2, an open source mobile operating system using a modified Linux kernel. Just the mere fact that it runs on Linux didn’t make the entire deal, but the fact that the OS itself is open source is a big deal. If Android keeps growing at the rate it does today, in a few years it will have the largest user base combined with a community that is actively helping to develop and enhance the platform.

A few colleagues were already working with Android, but on a HTC Hero that seemed a little insufficient on hardware. The Nexus One specifications on the other hand (1GHz processor, 512MB Flash, 512 MB RAM) looked irresistible.

Hence, big disappointment on January 5, 2010 when Google started taking orders for the Nexus One. They would only ship inside the US, to the UK and Singapore. Since I live in Belgium (Europe), navigating to Google’s Nexus One page only resulted in this short notice:

Sorry, the Nexus One phone is not available in your country or region.


Meanwhile I noticed some Belgian people I follow on Twitter talking about how they loved their new Nexus One. Thinking they must have visited the US and ordered the phone over there, I continued to look out for news about when the Nexus One would reach the European mainland. And then I stumbled across a post by @Pvw2180 explaining how he managed to order the Nexus One straight to his door (in Belgium).

I could wait for another couple of months until the N1 would become available in Europe (and would be sold for the same amount in Euro’s that it costs in dollars…) or I could order it right away. Impatient as I am, I chose the second strategy.

In fact it is really easy to order the Nexus One from about anywhere in the world, you need to do two things:

  • Make Google think you are browsing their Nexus website from the US or the UK
  • Get an address in the UK or the US Google can ship the phone to

Might look difficult at first sight, but if you have half an hour of spare time, you can still order your N1 today!

Getting an address in the US or the UK is easy, just set up an account at Borderlinx. In minutes you’ll have two shipping addresses, one in Lockbourne, Ohio (US) and one in Milton Keynes (UK). Once the phone arrives at their premises, you’ll get an email and they will send it to your place (in exchange for a small handling fee…).

Next thing to do is make Google think your are visiting the N1 store from the US or the UK. While it is possible to use Firefox with a proxy server (as mentioned on the Borderlinx blog), this method doesn’t always seem to work. As an alternative you can use Hotspot Shield, a downloadable application that allows you to surf through VPN from anywhere in the world. Install and launch Hotspot Shield. On NNTime you can find a list of free proxy servers ordered by country (make sure you pick one from the US or the UK). Once activated, you can go online with any browser and your session will seem to originate from the proxy’s country you selected in the previous step.

And now you’re set to order your own Nexus One. Go to and your will notice the annoying notice we mentioned above has disappeared. Instead, you can now login using your Google Checkout account (any Google account will do, including your GMail account).

Once logged in you can place your order. Besides the phone itself you can also order an extra battery (which I didn’t) and a dock (which I did). You also get the chance to personalize your Nexus One by engraving it, but using this option delays delivery by a maximum of 72 hours. If you finish the order, you still have 15 minutes to cancel it (don’t, you won’t regret it!).

How long does it take before your Nexus One arrives?

I ordered my N1 on Monday and personalized it with an engraving (+72h). I received the order receipt minutes later. On Wednesday, I got a confirmation email my N1 had shipped to the UK using DHL (with tracking code). On Friday the package arrived in Milton Keynes and just an hour later Borderlinx sent me an email confirming the arrival. Logging on to the Bordelinx website I confirmed it had to be sent to Belgium right away. After paying Borderlinx, the package left the same day (without tracking code). On Monday DHL delivered my Nexus One in Belgium.

So it takes somewhere between 4 and 7 days for you Nexus One to arrive (depending on the weekday you make the order and whether or not you want it engraved).

How much does it cost?

The Google bill (paid with credit card):

1 Nexus One phone: $ 529.00 (€ 384.55)
1 Desktop Dock: $ 45.00 (€ 32.71)
1 Shipping (DHL): $ 29.65 (€ 21.55)

Total: $ 603.65 (€ 438.82)

The Borderlinx bill (paid with Paypal):

Shipping charges (DHL): £ 27.00 (€ 29.63)
Taxes (!): £ 67.30 (€ 73.85)

Total Borderlinx bill: £ 94.30 (€ 103.48)

Total paid for Nexus One + Dock + Delivery to front door: € 542.30

OK, the total price is a bit above the budget I was expecting but hey, it’s still cheaper than what you pay for an iPhone in Belgium (and you have to admit the Nexus One looks and feels better).

Mission Impossible accomplished. Questions? Shoot!

Microsoft Pivot: a new way to browse and arrange massive amounts of data online

In its endless quest to categorize all information available (just like Google), Microsoft Live Labs has come up with Pivot:

Here at Live Labs we’re all about experiments, and Pivot is our most ambitious to date. Pivot makes it easier to interact with massive amounts of data in ways that are powerful, informative, and fun. We tried to step back and design an interaction model that accommodates the complexity and scale of information rather than the traditional structure of the Web.

Sounds ambitious indeed, but looks cool and handy too I have to admit. Gary Flake, founder and director of Live Labs, did a TED presentation on the Pivot features (spectacular zooms in and out of web databases, discovery of patterns and links, …) that you absolutely, definitely have to see:

Will this become the new search, will this kind of applications revolutionize the way we think about search? Or will it change the way we browse the web?

Happy fifth birthday for YouTube

Video sharing website YouTube turns 5 today. “Five years of YouTube, is that all?” was my first thought. After all it seems like YouTube has been around for a decade at least and we have to admit they revolutionized the internet as communication channel over the last few years.

On February 15, 2005 Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim, former PayPal employees registered the domain name On April 23, 2005 the first video was posted showing Jawed at the San Diego Zoo.

Just one year later YouTube was amongst the 10 most visited websites in the world and by the end of 2006 Google acquired YouTube for the astonishing sum of 1,65 billion dollars.

And the rest is history:

I’m just curious how Google is ever going to monetize YouTube…

A romance in search: Google’s Super Bowl ad

Yesterday Google, the advertising company that doesn’t advertise, made its debut on television by advertising during the Super Bowl breaks. The commercial is supposed to tell a Parisian love story in search:

If you watched the Super Bowl this evening you’ll have seen a video from Google called “Parisian Love”. In fact you might have watched it before, because it’s been on YouTube for over three months. We didn’t set out to do a Super Bowl ad, or even a TV ad for search. Our goal was simply to create a series of short online videos about our products and our users, and how they interact. But we liked this video so much, and it’s had such a positive reaction on YouTube, that we decided to share it with a wider audience.

More on Wired and the Google Blog