Archive for August, 2009


Free information at a Price

Aug 31, 2009 by Steve Belt in General

Iím in the market for something relatively big and expensive.† Call it a car or a painting or a piece of industrial equipmentÖit really doesnít matter.† So, where do I start my search?† Why online of course.

The item I want is manufactured to customer order and as a result most manufacturers offer them in custom colors with custom add-ons.† They have websites that talk about how great theirs is, with pictures of it, and customer testimonials about how awesome their product is.† There are technical specs about how physically large it is, what capacities they offer, and all sorts of bits of information that will help a buyer make a decision.

The odd thing, however, is most manufacturers do not list a price for their products online.† Talk about annoying.† One manufacturer has a class form to fill out to submit an online price request, which I did last night.

This morning I get a simple form email asking me some obvious questions (questions that I believe I answered when I submitted the form), for which the answer was once again answered.† Then, instead of getting pricing, I got a 2nd email, once again with more questions.

At this point, I became more than a little annoyed.† How many times are we going to email each other back and forth, before this company salesperson decides to let me in on the secret of the price.† I began to feel like I was taking part in an infomercial, with the classic, ďbut wait, thereís more!Ē.† Finally, I got back a fancy color PDF for the 2 products that would obviously work best for me, and that includedÖ.the PRICE!

Iím still clueless as to why getting a price out of this company was tougher than pulling my wisdom teeth.† Oh wellÖevery business canít always operate under the mantra that their product needs to be great, price accordingly, and then you donít have to keep the price a secret.† If thatís what ďGreatĒ costs, then thatís what it costs.† I still think this companyís product might be greatÖjust annoyed that I jumped through hoops to get it.

If you sell, manufacture, or provide a service, and are offering that product online, do yourself a favor and list the price.† Online consumers expect to the see the price.† If, for some unexplained reason, you cannot list the price, then absolutely, positively give the customer the price the second they ask for it.

Participation is King

Aug 11, 2009 by Steve Belt in General

Phoenix Photographer, Tyson CrosbieThe graphic you see at the start of this post has appeared at the bottom of the middle sidebar on the right for over a year now.† The graphic states, ďI make comments participation is kingĒ.† Tyson Crosbie created that graphic for those of us that participated in his soft edit comment process to proudly display on our blogs as a show of support for his approach to social media and photography.

Itís been a long time coming, but alas, right now I need your comments.† Tyson has published my soft edit on Flickr and for the process to work most effectively I need you to go to Flickr, view the 15 images- and via comment -vote for which image you believe best represents the words ďspontaneous, inspired, and directĒ.

And now that Iíve asked for a favor, a few words about the images and the experience of being photographed by Tyson.† Because I was a lucky winner of one of Tysonís fine art photographs in his contest Living With Art, Tyson needed to come to my home.† As a result, the photos were taken there on the day I received #9.† Tysonís wife Jamie was also present.† She told me this was the first time sheíd seen Tyson take someoneís portrait.

In the past, Iíve had my portrait taken a few times.† The process in the had always been the same.† The photographer asks me to sit in a spot, look in a certain direction, tilt my head a certain way, and then a few clicks later, my portrait was complete.

That Saturday was very different.† Tyson gave me very little direction.† As you look at the images in the soft edit, you can probably identify the shots in which I was given the most direction.† These are the images, in which makes it becomes painfully obvious, I could never be a professional model.† Instead, for the most part, I was simply chatting with Tyson and Jamie about stuff.† Just talking about this and that.† Learning more about each of them, and them a bit about me.† Small talk, reallyÖthe kind you might do at a dinner party.† It was certainly nothing like what I expected a photo shoot to be like.

But the resultsÖthey speak for themselves.† Still, the process is far from complete.† To be the most effective, this process needs you to participate as well.† So head over to Flickr, and please, please comment.† Let me know what image or images you think capture those three words.

Thank you.

Thinking on two wheels

Aug 03, 2009 by Steve Belt in Cycling, Mountain Bike

Iím currently planning my cycling events for the year and working to get back into better riding shape, now that the worst of the heat of the summer is starting to inch behind me.† Iím already registered for The Tour of the White Mountains (TOWM) and El Tour de Tucson (ETT).† TOWM is October 3, so just 2 short months away.† Iím signed up for the 65 mile course along with Chris Z.† Robert and Chris M are supposed to sign up any day now.† This is the distance we attempted and failed miserably at last year, having finished only ~45 miles of the course, before being forced to DNF by race organizers as the rain/lightning was about to pound us into submission.† Honestly, I was toast anyway, so the rain didnít actually stop me.

Finishing the 65 miles will be challenging.† Itís a challenging course, and even without the challenge, just riding 65 miles on a mountain bike is a long ride on dirt.† Currently, my strength is well off what I need, while my endurance is only off by a bunch.† Stated differently: I could ride 65 easy miles without much worry, but TOWM doesnít offer 65 easy milesÖthey are tough, high altitude miles.† That means more hill climbing work in the McDowells over the next two months to build my strength up.† Sunday, I had visions of a Sunrise climb, but failed 1/3 the way up, as I was simply feeling ďcookedĒ, from the early morning heat at only 7:30am.† Due to misplaced sunglasses, I left my house at 6:30am, which was 30 minutes later than intended, and under the direct sun, just couldnít motivate myself to push through both the heat and the pain of the climb.† I still rode for 90 minutes, but it wasnít pretty, and demonstrated to me, just how far out of mountain biking shape I really am right now.

For ETT, my goal isnít to just finish.† Iíve finished the 109 mile event the last 2 years in a row.† Two years ago it was in 6 hrs 23 min, and last year in 6 hrs 1 min.† Both results were Silver medal finishes.† Gold medal finishers are under 6 hours.

Naturally, this year, Iíve got my sights set on Gold.† And I donít want to just make Gold, I want to cruise comfortably into a Gold finish.† That means 5 hrs and no more than 45 mins.† 5 hrs 30 mins would be better.† Iím currently riding the 45 mile Cave Creek loop in under 3 hours, including the necessary stop at Cave Creek Coffee Company.† Thatís a good start, but I need to lop off a good 30 minutes from that ride/route.† I love the route for itís relative lack of traffic, and similarity to ETTís course conditions, so itís tough to want to mess with a good thing, but I found a way to add 9 miles, including another 3 mile climb, without adding any traffic, so from now on, my Cave Creek ride will be 54 miles.

The other big ride I have yet to do this season is the Rio Verde around the mountain ride.† Thatís roughly 50 miles, but it includes either going up 9 mile hill (up Dynamite Road from Rio Verde) or the 10% grades that are in Fountain Hills, depending on which direction is ridden.† Either way, itís no picnic, with terrain significantly harder that ETT, and thus why itís a good training ride.

But the ride I really want to complete during preparations this season, and if I can Iíll know 6 hours is well within my grasp, is the Bartlett Lake Dam ride.† From my house itís nearly a 75 mile ride.† And itís either up or downÖthereís almost nothing flat about the ride.† I tried it last year, and failed to get to Bartlett Lake, riding only 50 miles, instead of the 75.† It was brutally windy that day,† but I know itís a ride I need to conquer if I really think a Gold finish is within my grasp this year.

FYI, the Bartlett Lake ride is one that Lance Armstrong was known to ride back in his US Postal days when he stopped in Scottsdale after visiting Tucson to ride Mount Lemmon.† I suppose thatís the allure for me as well.† If itís good enough for Lance, itís certainly good enough for me.

Iím also 100% committed to riding the 24 hrs in the Old Pueblo again.† Team Are We Dead Yet? will hopefully continue to build on itís experience and strengths and find a way to complete 14 laps this year.† If we can stop sleeping together as a team, I think we can do it.

Iím also probably going to ride Tour de Phoenix (April 2010?), as Chris Z said he really enjoyed the ride last year.† Itís 75 miles, and seems poorly named as the ride never once pedals over any portion of Phoenix soil, but the ride should be fun, and a great way to maintain my fitness/focus after the 24 hr race, which annually seems to be a problem for me.