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Dear Mom and Dad ... (zachklein.com)
78 points by callmeed on Nov 10, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 34 comments

Nice, but still waaay too technical for my mom and dad...

Dear Dad,

My customers are small business people (retailers, wholesales, doctors, lawyers, etc.) who own computers that have replaced their file cabinets and some of their clerical employees. Those computers came with lots of stuff in them but need more as their business changes or they discover stuff they forgot. I upgrade their computers with the stuff they need. We call that stuff "software". They pay me. Well enough for me to buy you dinner Sunday night and take you to the Steeler's game. What do you say?

Love, Eddie

Dear Mom,

I sit in an office writing all day long. I have a fridge and a microwave and occasionally go out to lunch with people down the hall. When it gets cold I wear the sweater you bought me last month. I love what I do. I write stuff, kinda like Stephen King or Danielle Steele, but business stuff, not fiction. My customers love what I write for them and they pay me well, so you never have to worry about me again. I showed Uncle Lenny what I was working on and he thought it was great. I'll pick you up for lunch and a trip to the mall at noon on Saturday. See you then.

Love, Eddie

This is usually attributed to Einstein (but I can't find a definitive reference): "You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother". Clearly he has a way to go still.

I think the quote is from Richard Feynman:

"If you can't explain something to a first year student, then you haven't really understood it."

Although WikiQuotes says it's unsourced: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:Richard_Feynman

Whether he said it or not, he definitely practiced it. For many years, Feynman taught an informal seminar for freshmen at Caltech, called "Physics X", at which he offered to answer any physics questions the freshmen could come up with.

Not quite any physics questions. Feynman imposed a rule that he would "not take any question the answer to which did not match the impedance of your knowledge." So a freshman asking "What is quantum chromodynamics?" was gently nudged into a simpler answer that they might learn something from.

Didn't Einstein say: "If you can't explain it easily, you don't know it good enough."?

Far too much "I", not enough "you" in the Mom letter.

This could end up starting a new meme :)

I sort of hope not. It started out good, but morphed from a letter to one's parents into a press release at the "in response to a few problems" phrase. Clever marketing, but if your product/service is aimed at the mass market, the kind of simple and down-to-earth language that this "letter" should have contained ought to be on the home page.

Just wanted to say that's an incredibly slick approach at a sales letter. Rather than directing the letter to the consumer it's directed to Mom & Dad, which creates an audience to whom the concept can be explained in a simple manner. There are all sorts of emotional responses to this approach too, which creates warm and fuzzy feelings toward Boxee.

Well played sir.

Agreed, I would be interested in his device if I didn't already have a media server with mplayer and youtube-viewer installed. I even have a nice apartment complex that unknowingly multicasts all available cable channels to me for free!

It was a great article though, even if it was a sales pitch.

It would've been a lot better if he'd included even a single link.

Especially on this bit: "Tell them it’s even available on Amazon!" That would be an ideal place to link to the product page and sell the thing.

This actually left a bad taste in my mouth -- the "I should call more often" leading directly into press-release tone conveys anything but familial warmth and respect.

Is your audience geeks who don't call their mom? Then maybe it's OK. Is your audience moms? Then you might want to tweak it some more.

I'd suggest that the author browse some of the old Buffett letters, you can get some good tips on how to communicate complicated topics to ordinary people:


I find it fairly sheisty that Boxee Box does not support Netflix. Or rather that they are ambiguous about its support on Boxee Box. It's displayed plain as day on the introductory video on boxee.tv. There's been a lot of "we can't say anything until launch day" kind of stuff. Well, it's launch day and as far as I know there's no Netflix on Boxee Box, so just say it. I came within an inch of buying this thing until I read the fine print and realized that Netflix is only available on PC and Mac versions of Boxee due to use of Silverlight.

Other than, great software. If it ran Netflix and Hulu+ on the Box, it would be a no brainer for purcahse. But as it is, without Netflix, I have to wonder if Apple TV2 is the right way to go, esp. at 50% the price.

At this point I just assume Hulu+ won't work on anything. It barely works on our iPad, and that's a supported platform.

Hopefully Roku will support Hulu+ before the end of the year.

Sorry if this post was overly negative. This is actually a really exciting time for cord cutters. I think we're finally at the threshold of being able to buy a black box that just works and gives me pretty much everything I would reasonably need on my TV without having to pay a $80/month life tax to Cox/Comcast/TW/etc. It's been a long time coming.

well, it looks like the Boxee Box _should_ be supporting Netflix "by the end of the year" and they appear to be in talks about Hulu+.


Boxee is literally one of my most favourite startups - right up there with Dropbox etc. Boxee has changed how I consume and discover media. It is incredible.

I know I've made this comment before; and I'm not trying to distract from what a great product Boxee is. However, without the major sports leagues taking back their streaming rights from cable providers and allow people to sign up directly, as much as I love this box, it sadly won't be able to replace cable TV. :(

Broadcast still works well for sports, as long as you're interested in your home team. It's what I use for NFL.

Sadly; I don't live in my home team's market anymore; so I'm stuck using 3rd party sources.

Actually, as far as the NFL goes, I really don't have a choice but to use pirated streams online. The building in which I live can't get DirecTV so I have literally no other option.

"available to buy in over 30 countries" ... leads to ...

"The page you asked for does not exist You may have followed an out-dated link, or there may be an error in our service. We apologize for the inconvenience."


It is unfortunate however that he indicates the problem is that most of the content he watches that isn't on user-generated sites is via Hulu or Netflix. As far as I know, Boxee currently does not support those two platforms. I'm not blaming boxxy as I'm sure there are complex legal/financial constraints at play, but imagine what a compelling product it would be with access to Netflix and Hulu content. Ideas like this should keep cable company CEOs awake at night.

Boxee has Hulu & Netflix, plus a ton of other sources featuring both user generated & professionally produced content.

My only gripe with Boxee is I find it to be very finicky (or at times completely broken) when it comes to playing content from any flash-based site on my Mac Mini.

I believe the box will only have Hulu Plus - not full Hulu. I'm not sure if they're still kind of back dooring Hulu in. But Hulu's corporate masters are generally trying to only allow Hulu plus on the big screen.

I've been a Boxee user for a long time, and I was SO excited about the Boxee box. I was about to click "Pre-order", and at the last second I thought "Wait, what's the size of the hard drive?.."

And that's all she wrote. I cannot believe they didn't put a hard drive in there. For me, that completely kills the purpose of this thing ...

I think the thinking here is that hard drives are cheap and ubiquitous.

I have a whole drawer full of old hard drives, and though most people don't, I'm sure a lot of boxee's eventual user base does.

Given the amount of streaming content available, I can see why they didn't include it, I think if you're likely to want to have a hard drive inside this thing, you're the kind of person who'll have very little trouble finding one and plugging it in. The less savvy users won't notice it isn't there.

I realize I'm setting up a straw man problem here: a problem that'll only exist for people with the solution already, but I simply don't see a strong case for needing a hard drive. Do you need it to store video locally? If so, then they could never have included enough space, if you're only storing a few things temporarily, they you're likely able to buy a small thumb drive & store things there. Are there other reasons to have a hard drive that I'm missing?

EDIT: never mind about the flash drive: there's an SD Card reader on the front of the thing.

I have a NAS box full of media. Why would I want a hard drive in the player?

I think boxee may just the best solution out there right now - it seems they've hit a sweet spot between the cheap-but-simplistic appleTV and the expensive-and-ambitious-but-half-baked Google TV.

Don't discount Plex http://plexapp.com/ and their deal with LG. I run it on my Mac Mini now, but you can expect some consumer devices with it pre-installed some time soon.

I'm lucky...my mom had to recuse herself from the committee where they decided on whether to buy the software my company makes (for obvious reasons).

Too bad the marketing department put it in a box that wont fit anywhere. Probably could mod it into a normal box though...


Pretty slick website. The background video effect is pretty rad.

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