Case Studies

Forward Thinking

By Marta Bright, Marta Bright, Michael Callicotte, Bobbie Hartman, Monica Mehta, Chris Null, Kate Pavao, Joe Shepter, and Alison Weiss

November 2007

GI Joe
Your Own Action Figure

Want to be a superhero? Sadly, superpowers are not for sale, but your very own custom-made action figure is.

Connecticut-based can turn two photographs of you into a realistic, 12-inch, polyurethane action figure. The service includes the doll, a programmable voice chip, and the ability to add nearly any custom feature.

"Let's face it," says President Emil Vicale. "You're not a success in America unless you have an action figure made of you. We all know that."

Vicale reports that customers range from CEOs to soldiers heading overseas (who receive a discount). If you can't resist the temptation, the basic service costs US$425 for the first doll and US$39.99 for each additional one. You can also choose from a range of inexpensive clothing and props—everything from BlackBerrys to Birkenstocks. HeroBuilders will also customize the figure any way you like, even adding tattoos if you have them. For something truly unique, the company also offers political action figures. If collecting likenesses of your favorite personalities is appealing, you can join the Club and receive discounts. But if you want a doll for the holidays, you'll have to order fast. It takes more than a month to produce a figure and a little longer around the end of the year.

Book Review
Know When to Fold 'Em

The Dip, by Seth Godin
A while back, best-selling author and former Yahoo! marketing guru Seth Godin started noticing something. He was meeting people from all walks of life—entrepreneurs, students, and everyone in between—who thought they were failures because they felt like quitting. "Part of the problem was that there wasn't a word for it," says Godin, who decided to give a name to that feeling of when work becomes, well, work. He called it "the dip," and he also penned a book by that name, published this year by Portfolio.

The Dip, subtitled A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit and When to Stick, offers advice about when it's worth it to work through such phases—and when you need to get out. He tells Profit that if people learn to see the dip in advance, "they might make smarter choices about what they set out to do in the first place."

In The Dip, Godin argues that Vince Lombardi was wrong when he suggested that winners never quit, explains how strategic quitting is different from serial or reactive quitting, and advises writing down the circumstances under which you would cash in your chips.

"The wrong kind of quitting is quitting in 'the dip' because you feel too much pressure, you feel too uncomfortable, you feel like you have no other choice," says Godin. "What that means is that you've just wasted an enormous amount of effort that got you into 'the dip' in the first place, and what you should have done is quit six months ago."

The Ultimate Winter Escape

What could be better than planning a midwinter getaway to beat the cold-weather doldrums? While a Hawaiian vacation is a great option, why not think out of the box and consider renting your own private island for an unforgettable getaway?

Private Islands Online, which profiles islands both for sale and for rent, is a good place to start. The islands featured on the site range from tropical island paradises with sandy beaches to forested freshwater islands that offer a full complement of seasons. Rental islands are available for every budget—as little as US$600 to US$300,000 per week—and exotic options include Fiji, Belize, Nicaragua, Sri Lanka, and Seychelles. Other popular categories include islands for honeymooning, diving, and camping. For "green" travelers there are even islands that are completely eco-friendly.

A Gem of a Chocolatier

Chocolate is sure to please even the pickiest of corporate clients. But how do you ensure that your box of treats stands out from the rest? Three ways: You can select a high quality of chocolate, package the chocolate uniquely, or personalize it. With a gift from, you can do all three. The husband-and-wife team that founded this French company, Jean-Philippe Khodara and self-described chocolate addict Valérie Méaouri, certify that all of their chocolates are handmade in France by four award-winning chocolatiers. "Corporate gift-giving is one more chance to make a difference and increase customer loyalty," says Khodara. The chocolates come in many different varieties and feature unique flavors such as lavender honey, coriander, and star anise. can customize gifts in a number of ways: engrave your corporate logo onto a brass plate mounted on the box, or print your logo on individual chocolates. Our favorite is the Eternelle (US$174), a half-pound, diamond-shaped piece of dark Venezuelan chocolate with a hazelnut praline center.

Top 5 Video Games

The 2007 holiday season is almost here. If anybody on your shopping list is a gamer, here are some top picks that are sure to please.

1. Madden 08
Electronic Art's Madden 08 is the next generation of sports games. The eye-candy graphics and ultraresponsiveness allow the player to have complete control of the game. Running at 60 frames per second, Madden 08 offers the smoothest game play of any sports game on the market.

2. Halo 3
The highly anticipated Halo 3 picks up right where Halo 2 left off, as the Master Chief returns to Earth to finish the fight. New gadgets such as the bubble shield and the spiked grenade have gamers giddy with excitement.

3. Skate
Skate around the virtual city of San Vanelona with some of the world's best skaters, and experience the true feeling of skateboarding. New physics techniques and animation let you feel through each trick and have a unique experience every time you pick up the controller.

4. Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock
This third installment of Guitar Hero will have you rocking out all over the house with its new wireless guitar controller. Guitar legend Slash provides an original track for the song list and also appears as a character in the game.

5. Need for Speed ProStreet
Street racing fans finally have a believable driving simulator that captures their underground culture. ProStreet places you head-to-head in a variety of street racing showdowns throughout the world to see who can become king of the street.

Tech Events

Oracle Rdb Technical Forum
November 8-9, Redwood Shores, California
This free event includes a series of sessions conducted by acknowledged technical specialists from Oracle Rdb Engineering and the Oracle Rdb community at large. The Oracle Rdb Technical Forums should be considered a requirement for anyone wishing to remain up-to-date with all the latest enhancements and optimizations in Oracle Rdb.

Oracle OpenWorld 2007
November 11-15, San Francisco
Companies large and small have been innovating with Oracle almost since the day the company was founded 30 years ago. And Oracle OpenWorld, the world's largest event dedicated to helping enterprises understand and harness the power of information, is the best place to see that innovation in action.

2007 Oracle CFO Summit on Globalization
November 13, San Francisco
Oracle Chairman Jeff Henley will once again host this year's CFO Summit, sponsored by Infosys and titled "Capitalizing on Globalization: CFO Strategies for Winning in a Flat World." This all-day event will bring together globalization experts and leading CFOs from around the world to discuss the role that finance can play in helping organizations increase their competitive advantage in a world that is increasingly flattened by outsourcing, technology, and competition from emerging market leaders. Speakers include Kris Gopalakrishnan, CEO, Infosys, and Wayne Mincey, CEO, the Hackett Group.

Gartner Application Architecture, Development & Integration Summit
December 3-5, Las Vegas, Nevada
This summit integrates the best of Gartner's long-standing former Application Integration and Web Services Summit and the Application Development Summit. The conference program includes coverage of all the key issues across the application cycle.

Nirvana Underwater

Just because you're swimming laps in the Olympic pool at the gym doesn't mean you can't listen to all the tunes you can handle. While water-resistant music players have been around for some time, Finis' SwiMP3 is the only fully waterproof one we've seen, specifically designed for use in the water (up to 10 feet deep), not just near it.

The secret sauce is bone-conduction technology. When the SwiMP3's two halves are placed against any bone in your skull, they essentially vibrate your noggin in time with the music. Those vibrations transfer to the fluid in your inner ear, letting the music come through in all its glory, without a traditional speaker.

With the exception of a covered USB connector attached via rubber cable to both halves of the SwiMP3, the music player is entirely sealed. Buttons on the right piece let you skip tracks back and forth, change the volume, and turn it on and off. Just copy music in MP3 or WMA format from your computer to the device. The cost for the SwiMP3 is US$199. For more information, visit

Celebrating 30 Years

From the launch of the first commercial relational database to the delivery of business's next-generation enterprise computing platform, Oracle has always been in the forefront of technology innovation. Take a trip through Oracle's history with our interactive timeline at

ePRINT Massive Conversions

Complicated file conversion is a thing of the past, thanks to ePrint Professional 5. The new version functions as a desktop application that converts files to up to 150 other formats, including PDF, DOC, JPEG, and HTML. For example, if you want to send a Microsoft Excel invoice to a customer as a PDF, simply print it to the ePrint Workstation and save it as a PDF. You can then manipulate the file, adding other files and annotations, and e-mail or print it directly to multiple printers. It's not perfect, but it might be just the solution for companies trying to do simple conversions quickly and on the cheap: ePrint Professional 5 costs only US$49 and can be purchased at

Photography by Shutterstock