Mr. Allen Goes to Washington

Sunday I leave for our nation’s capitol.  I have been to DC many times over the years (I was stationed in nearby Quantico while in the Marines – can I get an ooh-rah for Al Bolognese) and have always come away with a sense of awestruck respect for the place.

I am an absolute sucker for history.  Over the coming days, another event of striking historical significance will occur with the swearing in of our first black President.  Now personally, I am politically agnostic – I don’t vote along party lines.  And frankly, the entire political machine is about as exciting and predictable as a trip to the Laundromat.

But this inauguration event has phenomenal historical impact and despite the fact that I will be competing for the 30 Port-o-Johns with the other 4.2 million attendants, I am very much looking forward to attending the swearing-in ceremony as well as a few of the Inaugural Balls.  I guess I better polish up my shoes and knock the dust off my tuxedo!

I will be making posts via Tweets during all the events, which you can follow on my Twitter page.

Top Priorities for ScanCafe in 2009

I am not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions – mainly because if you want to resolve something, you should just do it and not rely on some trigger date to provide you the impetus.  That is what my Old Man taught me anyway.

I do, however, strongly believe in goals and objectives heading into the New Year.  Even in this trying economic environment we have a lot on our plate here at ScanCafe and are bullish that we will continue to excel in the field of preserving the American legacy.  According to the Chinese calendar, we are about to enter the year of the Ox, which is the sign of prosperity through fortitude and hard work.  Probably a good thing given the amount of weight we all need to pull in the coming year.  And it is in that spirit that we thought it would be good to share with our customers some of the things we will be doing this year:

  1. Black & White Scanning.  We’d like to deliver an affordable, hiqh-quality solution here.
  2. Website Improvements. As we continue to hone the customer experience, we have made many improvements to our website, the gallery and the order process.   We’ve really ramped up the amount of testing and research we’re doing here, and we’re looking forward to using some of those insights to make our customers’ experience better.
  3. Photo Gifts.  Many customers have asked us for the ability to use some of their scanned images to make photo gifts. We think that’s a great idea.
  4. More Options for Pros.  One of our proudest achievements is the number of professionals and hobbyists who use our services. We look forward to engaging more with them and making our service more responsive to their needs.

This is just the high level list, but stay tuned. Certainly, there are a lot of clouds on the economy’s horizon, but we think it’s gonna be a great year.

Best, Sam.

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Easier Than Hanging Lights, And It Lasts Forever

Well, it is definitely that time of year again.  I spent the past weekend peppering my house and landscaping with little white lights (how much do we enjoy unknotting those things from last year; I swear I packed them nice and neat) and the air is ringing with the sound of the holidays.

This year is a bit tough on all of us and the economic climate has made a lot of people think about what could be a truly meaningful gift this season.  It is in that respect that I am proud to announce our latest product: a prepaid Gift Box.  For the first time, consumers can give ScanCafe’s award-winning services to anyone, even those without internet access, making sharing memories among loved ones easier than ever.

Gift Boxes can be purchased online and sent directly to a friend or family member. The gift recipient will then be able to fill the box with treasured photos, slides and negatives to be hand-scanned and digitally restored by ScanCafe’s expert photo technicians, breathing new life into the past for the special people on Santa’s list.

Who wants another present that is just going to be obsolete in six months, when fashion or technology changes?  In tough times it is important to focus on that which is truly meaningful.  Spend Christmas morning by the fire with your family reliving your past – trust me, it will be much more fun than putting together a bike (which is what I will be doing for my four year old son – he wants a “black and gold” one.  I wonder if he knows Smokey and the Bandit?

We Are the World, Part II

We announced today the results of some research we recently did with Gfk (formerly the Roper Organization) about Americans and how well they’re doing saving their memories.
Sam Allen Radio
The answer is, not so well. It turns out 85% of Americans–even young Americans–want not just their grandchildren to see their old photos, but their GREAT grandchildren. The trouble with that is color photos just won’t last that long. Our collective memory is fading away before our very eyes.

So this morning I talked to some radio stations about all this–an interesting experience for me, to say the least. I felt like singing We Are The World or something! Lucky for America, I didn’t.  (Note cheesy photograph.)

Three things that really surprised me in the research (a random-digit-dialed telephone survey of about 1,000 people):

  • People know that photos won’t last.
    75% of American adults know photos won’t last forever–they’ll change color or fade away.
  • Many photos won’t survive long enough to fade away.
    54% of Americans have already lost old photos–to a move, to fire, to floods, or even to kids.
  • Kids and pets are 4x as likely to damage your photos as fire.
    And I have kids–I should have known!

We learned a lot from talking to these consumers (we always do) and we’ll be sharing more of it later. Until then,

Happy preserving,
Sam

A great photo – that could have been greater

I thought I would take a moment to pass on a great photo related story from our PepCom experience.  But first, let me recommend eating at the Extra Virgin in the West Village – Wade was so impressed with the Gazpacho that he took a photo of it.

Anyway, I was speaking with a nationally renowned photographer – to protect the innocent let’s call him “George” – about a famous photograph of some construction workers high above the Manhattan skyline atop the World Trade Center.  This photo, titled “Moon over Manhattan” has been around for decades and if you close your eyes and think, you will know the one I am speaking of.  Yeah, it’s “that” kind of moon, not the celestial kind.  At any rate, one of the features of the photo that gives it such authenticity, besides the anatomical humor, is the fine trace of an airliner flying at altitude trailing a wisp of silver in the failing light.  Only it isn’t an airplane, or a comet.  It’s a scratch.

That’s right, the original image was damaged, but the overall picture was such a stupendous example of timing & quality (and humor) that it went on to be seen time and again all over the world.  You can find it by searching “Moon over Manhattan” on Google Images.  Too bad ScanCafe wasn’t around then; we could have fixed that for the photographer (or the mooner) for about a quarter.  We even could have even completely removed the offending party with a bit of Photoshop for a few bucks.