My new desktop setup – powered by DisplayLink

By | Reviews | One Comment


Last week I got a new Samsung laptop. You can see it to the right of the picture above. I like working with two monitors on my desktop and my previous Dell based setup isn’t compatible with Samsung. It just so happens that DisplayLink, one of our portfolio companies makes chips that power multiple displays so I thought I would try them out. DisplayLink makes chips and partners with companies that make the consumer propducts (partners include HP, Fujitsu, Toshiba, Lenovo and ASUS). A bit of research revealed that the DisplayLink powered Targus USB 3.0 Dual Video Docking Station is the most appropriate device for me. It was released in the US last November and isn’t yet available in the UK, but the folk at DisplayLink kindly brought one over for me, and I got it today. [Update: I’ve just learned that the Targus dock should come to the UK next month.] You can see my new setup in the picture above. About half of the Targus docking station is visible, circled in white next to the laptop. The white sticker you can see tells me that the device is ‘DisplayLink certified’.

The setup was pretty easy. I had to download a driver from the DisplayLink website but other than that it was plug and play. I really wasn’t sure that connecting to two monitors, a keyboard, a mouse, and a set of headphones via a single USB port would work, but it turned out fine. The laptop found the external displays and worked out the appropriate screen resolutions no problem. I played with the settings, identifying the monitor on the left as the main monitor and making it so that when I moved the cursor off the side of a display it came up on an adjacent screen, and was pleased to see the system remembered when I disconnected the laptop from the docking station and then reconnected.

So far this setup works better than my previous arrangement which would usually make me open and close the lid of my laptop a few times before it would work properly and sometimes refused to work at all without a full restart. The Targus is a nice looking piece of kit too.

NMK Forum07 announce “The Disruptors”

By | Announcement, Content, Reviews, Social networks | No Comments

NMK 07 banner

Want to know what lies beyond the revolution in social media and what it means for business?

And who wouldn’t? Then come along to the NMK Forum conference next Wednesday. It promises to be a great event – there are some great speakers speaking on some fascinating topics, and I’ll be saying a few words as well.

They have just announced the participants in the startup showcase called The Disruptors. The clue is in the name – the companies presenting are planning on turning their respective industries on their heads.

The firms are:


Rawflow – Selfcast




It should be interesting, the ones I know have great stories to tell, and there are a couple that will be new to me.

Reviews – how useful are they?

By | Advertising, Amazon, Reviews, Web2.0 | 16 Comments

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There has been a lot of talk about reviews recently.  I’m a big fan, the web is a great efficiency tool, but it lacks the personal touch of a (decent) shop keeper and reviews go some way to solving that problem.  That much is clear from the way they increase conversion rates.

There are still some issues that need to be worked through though.

  1. Guy Kawasaki reported that the average score on a review is 4.2.  By and large people only bother to rate and review products they like.  In fact on a five point scale the result is a j-curve.  A few people are pissed off enough to rate a product one.  The twos and threes simply don’t bother, and then the evangelists rate 4s and 5s.  So the numbers don’t tell you much.  Finding ways to get a more even distribution would make the numbers more useful.  Using words instead of numbers could help – e.g. at U-Lik for content rating they use “Hall of shame”, “Dislike”, “Interest”, “Like”, and “Hall of fame”.  The site is French and the translation could improve a little, but you get the idea.
  2. Looking beyond the numbers to the text is fine, but simply seeing millions of reviews listed isn’t very helpful.  It is pretty inefficient trawling through them all.  Finding a way to draw out the intelligence in text reviews would be great – the way Amazon pushes the reviews that people found useful to the top goes some way towards this.
  3. Revenue is not always following value – people research on review sites and then buy where it is cheapest.  This is probably the most important point for start-ups seeking to monetise a review base.
  4. Combining editorial content from experts with user generated reviews would be interesting.  Too many sites seem to be either one thing or the other, but not both.

There are some great companies out there working in this area – and there should be rich pickings for the winners.  Getting the answers right will help us take e-commerce to the next level.  Companies I like that have reviews as an important part of their strategy include Crowdstorm, Trusted Places, Revoo, and TouchLocal.