Wednesday, June 30, 2004

New Links

Here are some new links for this week.  Some of these folks have linked to me, some are blogs I have recently discovered.  Oh, and I am eagerly awaiting my delivery of a Tablet PC, so The Tablet PCs Weblog gets a double bonus for linking to my Starbucks story and being especially useful to me right now.

randomly distracted voice
The Tablet PCs Weblog
The [non]billable Hour
Rebel With a Cause


About a year and a half ago I was riding back with lunch for my staff in my friend's truck.  The police had closed the road leading to the entrance of my building.  Without really thinking about it, I instructed my friend to drive through a dirt parking lot in four-wheel drive, jump a sidewalk, and be right at the building entrance.  Unfortunately, a cop saw what we were doing and almost gave my friend a 2 point ticket for his creative driving maneuvers.  My only statement to my friend following the incident (yes, he was quite upset with me for my suggestion) was, "That's what I would have done."

There is a great article in this month's Fast Company that was written by Seth Godin that outlines the rules for off-roading at work.  Here's a quick restatement of Seth's rules:

  • If a focus group likes it, don't do it.  My "focus group" (i.e., my friend driving the truck) didn't really think that driving through a dirt lot in four-wheel drive to get around the cops was all that good of an idea, which is exactly why I pushed him to do it.
  • If you're worried about getting fired, do it anyway.  My friend, in fact, prior to the beginning of our off-road adventure, did express concerns about getting a ticket; hey, that's what made it more fun than just driving across a random dirt field.
  • Doing something just a little differently is sure to get you in big trouble.  2 points on your driver's license is big trouble, take my word for it.
  • Your boss will never tell you to do this, because that makes it her responsibility, not yours. Don't wait, just go.  Ok, so I used a little bit of peer pressure in my situation, but my friend made the decision to commit and drive through.  Hell, he hardly even slowed down once he jumped the curb.
  • You'll get lousy mileage, so don't do it often.  Four wheel drive (not all wheel drive3, but true four wheel drive) in any vehicle burns through gas at an astonishing rate; that includes my friend's four wheel drive truck.

So is off-roading risky?  You bet it is!  Broken axles, windshields, headlights; roll-overs; having to be towed out -- all of these things can happen when you off-road, which is why many of the SUVs that you see driving around will never go off-road.  By the way, putting your SUV into four wheel drive when it's snowing is not off-roading.

Similarly, off-roading at work is a risky thing; you have to decide whether you are the kind of person that's willing to risk getting a ticket to achieve the end result.  Furthermore, there are only so many points that you can get on a license before it's revoked, so heed Seth's last bullet above and don't make a habit of doing it.

Interesting Mozilla Borwser Observation

At least at my company none of the Intranet pages seem to work well.  Using Firefox, I constantly get password challenges during page loads, so many that I sometimes have to force the program to quite using the task manager.  It seems that Internet Explorer passes all of my domain login information directly through to our Windows-powered servers, providing me direct access to in-company resources, while Mozilla does not (can not?) pass that same information through.

For me it's not that big of a deal to use the Mozilla-based browser for non-Intranet sites and Internet Explorer solely for Intranet sites, but I don't know how user friendly that is for the general population.  I am not to proud to admit that I have navigated out of the Intranet and onto the Internet on Internet Explorer, but I am not really doing anything sensitive that involves the use of passwords or sensitive information on Internet Explorer anymore.

AutoRun Disable Follow-Up

Seems that iTunes doesn't like AutoRun in Windows to be disabled.  I've tried a couple of CDs and it does seem to effect the ability of iTunes to automatically start ripping CDs.  There is the simple workaround of clicking on the desktop and back into iTunes, which seems to solve the problem.

I would say that if you are going to be ripping a ton of CDs with iTunes you should probably re-enable AutoRun, but if it's just random CDs that you rip occasionally, leave AutoRun disabled.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

NeuroLinguistic Programming

I actually read about NeuroLinguistic Programming (NLP) in a fiction book and was intrigued enough by how the author made use of NLP for a character in the book to do a little research on the topic.

This website has great resources explaining the origin of NLP and the basic concepts.  I will restate some of the information here:

Neuro refers to the brain and neural network that feeds into the brain.

Linguistics refer to the content, both verbal and non-verbal, that moves across and through these pathways. 

Programming is the way the content or signal is manipulated to convert it into useful information.

Essentially, based on the breakdown of the definition, you may be able to see why I was intrigued by the concept: using specifically planned language to produce a certain outcome.  In the fictional book I read (by the way, the book is The Protector by David Morrell), the main character makes use of NLP by projecting positive future outcomes; in other words, stating the outcome of an eventual event in a positive fashion: positive words = positive outcome.

The basic premise of NLP is that the words we use reflect an inner, subconscious perception of our problems. If these words and perceptions are inaccurate, they will create an underlying problem as long as we continue to use and to think them. Our attitudes are, in a sense, a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

The site I reference above is kind of hippie and a little more of a flower child interpretation of NLP, but provides a good background.  I am going to order a few books on the topic and you'll be able to find a link to the best resource on my blog; a lot of the books seem very focused toward psychiatry as NLP is a popular tool for psychiatry.

Disabling AutoRun in Windows

Note: AutoRun is supposed to be disabled in Windows XP Service Pack 2 as part of the security-focus of the upgrade.

Boing Boing has a great post that links to this post on Engadget that tells you how to disable AutoRun in Windows.

What really annoys me the most about AutoRun, as it does the Engadget author, is the AutoRun crap that the record companies put on CDs to make it harder for me, the person who paid money for the CD, to rip MP3s from the CD.  I listen to all my CDs on my iPod, so it insults me when I can't rip a CD to listen to; it's my music, I paid for it, I want to be able to listen to it in an encoded format.  Boing Boing and Engadget have some of their own additional rants.

Note, there are good instructions with pictures on the Engadget site, but it does involve using RegEDIT, so be VERY careful.

Best of luck in disabling this function.

Monday, June 28, 2004

New shopping carts to prevent dings

A post on AutoBlog talks about new shopping carts that have been created to help minimize car dings in parking lots.  Apparently the cart is made out of a lightweight plastic yet it holds the same volume as a metal wire cart.

Until these new carts hit the local supermarket, here are a few of my tips:

  • Put the carts away in the corral after you use them.  Yes, it does take an extra 30 seconds of your life, but there's some sort of weird "cart karma" if you leave your rolling around.
  • Lean your fully-loaded, ridiculously heavy cart against one of your own tires or bumper.  Do not lean it against my car and certainly do not just let go of it assuming that it will stay in place.

Gmail Tips and Tricks

The BlogFather has a great post on tips and tricks for Gmail.  Take a look at the post to find out how to add multiple labels, remove labels, all about custom e-mail addresses, about why you will get your mail even if someone neglects the period in your address, and more.

Useful stuff.


I've got 5 invites to Gmail left.  First come, first served.  Please send me an e-mail to get a free invite.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Yahoo Blocking Trillian

Techdirt has a post telling how Yahoo is going to continuously change their instant messaging protocols to make the instant messaging client, Trillian, incompatible with their network.  I have used the free version of Trillian for about 3 years; it allows you to make connections to all the popular instant messaging services -- AOL, Yahoo, IRC, MSN -- simultaneously and with multiple distinct accounts.  The best part is that you don't have to see any of the ads or crap that goes along with using the free versions from the respective companies.  Furthermore, there is an option in Trillian to enable 128 bit encryption over AIM, which I have used and have to say works very well.

I guess the only upside for me personally is that I don't have a Yahoo ID, so I don't care so much, but it seems a little silly for Yahoo to be so concerned about another client accessing their "free" service.

Monday, June 21, 2004

That Brand Called Jesse James

I don't really enjoy riding motorcycles; I grew up riding mountain bikes and the brakes and gears are in weird and awkward places for how my brain is programmed to react in an emergency.  However, I do enjoy watching people build motorcycles; probably one of my favorite reality shows is American Chopper on Discovery Channel.

Last night, after watching American Chopper, I caught a special called "Motorcycle Mania 3," which featured Jesse James, owner of West Coast Choppers.  Jesse James wasn't really all that much of a household name until a couple of years ago when celebrities really started pushing his motorcycles and he started appearing in various television shows such as Monster Garage.

What was amazing to me in watching Motorcycle Mania, outside of Jesse's obvious skill mechanically (he's awesome with both motorcycles and cars) and in his craftsmanship was how much of a brand he built around himself.  Constantly in the background of the scenes of his shop are people lined up waiting to see him, to get his autograph, to get their picture taken with him.  People are lined up when the gates to his shop open in the morning and are still standing outside the gates when they are closed at night.  Jesse's social calendar is stacked and packed to the point that he almost doesn't have the time to fabricate and build bikes and cars anymore -- the very thing that built his brand gets very little of his time.

The amazing thing is that it does not seem to matter to anyone (except perhaps Jesse) that he's not the one doing the actual fabrication; he's built himself into a brand that transcends the physical products he creates.

What's the brand you?

New Links Added Today

The BlogFather
The Bloggist
beyond bullets
The Idea Shop
Fresh Inc.
Tom Peters Dispatches
Auto Blog
Make Money on Ebay

Easy Grammar and Style

Johnnie Moore has a post that links through to Jeff Mellor's Grammar and style rules.  The rules are so good, I am reproducing some of them here, check out the link for further rules.

    • Also check to see if you've words out.
    • If dangling, omit participles.
    • In my opinion, I really think that an author in writing books, articles, or publications should definitely get in the habit of always endeavoring to try to help eliminate unneeded, redundant, and superfluous words, phrases, and sentences that are not really required to express fully for others his or her very own thoughts, concepts, feelings, ideas, or emotions simply, economically, and concisely.
    • Remember not to ever split infinitives.
    • Avoid a not inconsiderable lack of clarity by omitting series of mutually cancelling logically negative expressions.
    • Avoid overuse of "quotation" marks.
    • Avoid slang. It sucks.
    • Don't use run-on sentences you must insert correct punctuation.
    • No sentence fragments.
    • Inappropriate mixtures of stylistic levels in written discourse can really blow the reader's mind.

How to throw cards as weapons

How does this help you strategize?

It really doesn't, but it's kind of interesting to read: Card Throwing Technique


Another one of those great concatenated words, thanks to Slashdot:

Torrentocracy = RSS + Bit Torrent + Your TV

Pulling RSS feeds across your television.

Hotmail Blocks Gmail Emails (and Invites)

Slashdot has the story, but apparently Hotmail is blocking invites and e-mails from Gmail.  I thought I had sent a Gmail invite to one of the winners here to a Hotmail address, went back and checked, and realized his pitch had been for me to save him from Hotmail hell.  Seems to me like it's just one more reason to ditch your Hotmail account.

DeepDiscountDVD 20% off Deal

I always like to spread deals around.

Lockergnome has a post with the code (SUMMERSALE) to use to get 20% off at DeepDiscountDVD.  Code expires 6/25, so load up while you can.

Friday, June 18, 2004


According to AutoBlog, Washington DC is going to start handing out Driving While Distracted (DWD) tickets.  Although it seems like this law is aimed to stop people from using their cell phones without a hands-free adapter (hands-free adapters are exempt as a distraction), AutoBlog points out that the law is broad enough to cite you for eating fast food.

8 Things to Do With a Tablet PC During Meetings

Scoble has a post that references this post on the blog of Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, on 8 things you can do with a tablet PC during a meeting.  I've become more and more intrigued by the Tablet PC platform and hardware over the past few months, and can certainly see benefits in my daily work, but it's interesting to hear from someone that actually uses one at an executive level.  Here is Hyatt's list, visit his post referenced above for a more thorough description.

  • Take notes.
  • Enter tasks.
  • Ask questions via e-mail.  Note that you need to be connected to the Internet somehow (hopefully via WiFi or 3G wireless) in order to accomplish this.
  • Make assignments via e-mail.  See my note on wireless above.
  • Look up information in computer files.  See my note above regarding wireless in reference to files on network drives.
  • Look up information on the web.  See my note above regarding wireless.
  • Respond to urgent messages.  See my note above regarding wireless.
  • Keep my staff moving forward.  Via e-mail, which brings me back to the wireless thing again.

So interestingly, if your company does not have wireless or you do not have access to the Internet somehow, this list of 8 useful things is diminished.  I wonder about doing all this stuff during meetings; is the meeting really that important if you can get all this stuff done?  In my view, it is super-useful to be able to do a lot of this stuff outside of meetings without having to use the keyboard on my laptop.

On that last point, Hyatt says he is trying to move folks in his company towards Microsoft Messenger; I use instant messaging all the time as a very worthwhile alternative to e-mail, so I fully support that move.

WiFi Blocking Wallpaper

Techdirt has a post on wallpaper that is designed to block WiFi signal.  I was actually thinking about something in the same vein the other day as I was sitting outside my house with my laptop, using a network stumbler to discover almost 100 wireless access points in my neighborhood (yes, very few of them had the security enabled).

I'm sure, as Techdirt also supposes, that this material is going to be fairly expensive.  I initially wondered if this would be broad-spectrum blocking material (i.e., your cell phone and other radios would not work) or selective, and when I clicked through to the source article, I found that the material is called "Frequency Selective Surface," meaning that it can specifically target a discreet frequency range.  2.4ghz is the range of WiFi, so I was trying to think of anything else that operated in that range that I used at the office -- I couldn't think of anything.

The material is available in both active and passive varieties, which brings up an interesting thought: If you installed active panels in new construction that you had the ability to turn on and off, and had those panels tuned to block different cellular service provider frequency ranges, in the event of a terrorist attack, you could kill off all cellular service within a building, but still be able to use public service radios on alternate frequencies.  I wonder if the FCC cell phone jamming laws cover active surface materials.

When does a blog tip?

It's an interesting question.  Since I started my blog and started keeping track of visitors, I've generally had between 15 and 20 visitors a day (read my post about not being able to track persons reading my blog via RSS or ATOM feeds).   Suddenly it seems like I am getting between 70-120 visitors per day.

Why might I be getting this infusion of visitors?  Well, here are a few thoughts:

  • I've run a couple of promotions giving away GMail invitations in order to drive traffic to the blog.
  • Other blogs seem to be linking to my stories.  That wasn't happening in the first few months, but seems to be happening more now.  Perhaps the quality of my product is getting better; or I've broken in as a good content provider; or I've being blogging long enough that it doesn't seem like I'm going to abandon my blog.  I'm not entirely sure what the real reason is.
  • I've spent a lot of time managing links, both inbound and outbound.
  • I spend the time to Trackback to blogs that support the functionality, especially blogs that I know are well-trafficked.

I look at a lot of popular business blogs that sometimes mention their visitors per day and am astounded that they run into the thousands; I'm just happy to have broken into the hundreds.  It does make my question what it takes to make a blog tip from sort of nichey and lightly read to mainstream with thousand of visitors.  Obviously I've gotten more traffic, but I don't feel like I've yet tipped; of course there are so many people reading blogs through syndication (RSS and ATOM), that I may have thousands of readers per day and not even know it (wouldn't that be nice).

I'd be interested to hear from some of you that have blogs that receive thousands of visitors a day on your experiences from starting out to when you tipped into mainstream.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

The Danger of Price Promotions

Making Ads Work has a 2 part series on "The Dangers of Price Promotions."  Part 1 can be found here and part 2 can be found here.  There is a lot of content in both of these posts, and I suggest visiting the links above to get full detail.  Here are a few bits I picked out:

In brief, price promotions:
1. Do not attract new customers
2. Do not lead to extra subsequent sales
3. Do not affect repeat buying loyalty
4. Do not reach many customers.

HOWEVER, price promotions do produce up and down sales blips at a great cost.

Note: the piece of content above was originally authored by Professor Andrew Ehrenberg, referenced in the Making Ads Work blog, and reprinted by me.

There's a lot more detail, as I said before, in the original posts.  Read and consider how many price-based promotions your company runs.  What have been the end results for you?

Have you ever taken the bus?

Engadget has a post regarding a county in England that allows people waiting for a bus to use their cell phone to figure out the exact location of the bus they are trying to take.  Even if you've never taken a bus or waited at a bus stop, I'm sure you've seen people standing on the edge of the curb, looking down the street for the bus in the distance; this system solves all that.

The interesting thing is that the consumer tracking was not the original intent of the tracking technology at all; the information was being collected anyway and someone figured out how easy it would be to just give that information to consumers.  You may have seen the same type of invisibility if you have ever tracked a package on the UPS or FedEx website.

What is your company keeping track of that would make your customers' lives easier?  How much would it really cost you to make it invisible to your customers?

Have we taken web surfing a little too literally?

I don't know if "we" have, but Intel certainly has.

Yes, that really is a TabletPC embedded in the surfboard; so that the pro surfer can really, well, surf the web.  Thanks to Gizmodo for the story and picture.

Managers Responding to Terror

Canadian Headhunter has an interesting post about how managers should plan on responding to terror events.  Unfortunately these kinds of skills will increasingly become more and more relevant.  Here are some of the tips, click through the link above to find more:

Keeping people busy is important because it keeps their minds off of current
events so urge employees to get back into their routine immediately.

Educate managers about possible anxiety problems and employee concerns.

Designate an HR person to be the primary contact for issues related to the event.

Be more flexible in requests for using sick leave and vacation for the next week.

Allow workers to postpone or cancel immediate business trips that require
commercial flights.

Does your company have a plan on how to deal with terror events?

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

GMail Contest Winner

I was going to update my previous post, but it's really far down the page, so here you go (I actually wound up with 2 invitations, so I picked 2 winners):

Chris Ross said:

"I have two reasons, but it is hard to say if either is compelling. I need a gmail invite because:

1) I will soon be finishing grad school at Georgia State and will eventually lose the email account I have through the school, and

2) I would really like to stop entering contests for gmail invites and not winning. It is sad! :-)

-Chris Ross"

Chris, you win for 2 reasons: (1) You have the name "Ross" in your name, and (2) I'm not so far out of college myself that I don't remember losing the e-mail address I was having everything sent to.  Congratulations on winning and on your imminent graduation.

And lucky Winner #2

J. Liechty said:

"I believe in fate, and fate has brought us together, you and I.
I, a person disconnected from the world, not a single viagra or breast enlargement ad to speak of. You, with the power of a single keystroke, can shower down upon me a rain of spam and junk mail large enough to choke any inbox.

All I ask is that you strike me with the curse of unsolicited email for evermore. (Or at least help me dump this hotmail account)

J. Liechty"

You win for sheer creativity and prose.  Congratulations!

More GMail contests to come whenever I receive more invitations.  Next time I'm thinking that all submissions must be in the form of a Haiku; just to make things interesting.

Thanks to all of you the entered and to all of you that read my blog.

New Links

New links that I've added today based on a recent Technorati search for inbound links to my blog.  Thanks for everyone that links to me, you now enjoy a permanent link from Strategize.

Media Guerilla
Conference Call Unlimited CEO
Cutting Through
Marketing Playbook
Gautam Ghosh on Management

Mozilla Firefox

I've been using the Mozilla Firefox 0.9 browser all morning and I have to say that I am very impressed.  There are a few things that I can't do with Mozilla that I can do on Internet Explorer that I have found so far:

  • All the little weblets (I think that's what they're called), like my "Blogjet This" buttons are not compatible with Mozilla.  I haven't decided how much I care about that yet.
  • The Google toolbar doesn't work.  That having been said, Mozilla blocks pop-ups itself and there is a Google search box in the toolbar.

Mozilla seems to render pages must faster than IE, and it is not wide open to ActiveX controls, meaning that it's harder for malicious spyware apps to install on your machine.  I really like the fact that upon its initial launch, Mozilla imported all my Favorites, cached files, history, etc.

The best feature of the bowser seems to be browsing in tabs rather than having 47 windows open at the same time.  Once a window has been opened, it appears in a separate tab at the top of the bowser environment -- very cool stuff.

I recommend checking this out -- it's free to download.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Money and meaning

The Occupational Adventure has a post that links back to this article on the Jobfind website entitled: "Make Money AND create meaning."  Here are the 5 tips from the Jobfind author -- more detail is available in the article.

    • Work from the inside out (i.e., measure your own commitment level)
    • Ask yourself: "How much is enough?"
    • Give yourself permission and an opening to explore
    • Persevere/flex (i.e., find the perfect balance between doing both)
    • Work damn hard

I'm going to add this one from Tom Peters:

Do Cool Shit

Every Damn Day

Or die Trying.

Blog + Wiki = Bliki?

This terminology gets more interesting by the day.  See what's going on with Blikis over at Media Guerrilla.

Lessons from Starbucks' Howard Schultz

There is a great sidebar to the Starbucks reinvention Fast Company story below.  Visit page 4 of the article on Starbucks (you may need to be a subscriber to access) for full detail on the following.

Schultz's guidelines for reinvention (with my comments, original comments can be found at the link above):

  • Think like an athlete.  Keep pushing on.  One of the things that true athletes compete against is plateauing out.  Athletes, by themselves or with the help of their trainers, move out of plateaus by redefining their workouts and routines.  Reinvention of yourself or business can be done in the same way; there's even a manual for this called Re-Imagine! by Tom Peters.
  • Team up with like-minded partners.  Complimentary is always good.
  • Dream big.  Why not?  It doesn't cost anything to dream.
  • Stay small.  More than staying small, I think the key is to feel small.  Personal interaction is important; business truly is people interacting with people.

Schultz's reasons for Starbucks' success (with my comments, original comments can be found at the link above):

  • "Customer loyalty is not an entitlement."  People don't have to like you any more; they don't have to shop at your store; you have to earn (and keep) their business on a daily (hourly?) basis.
  • "Great brands aren't built on ads or promotions."  Design products people enjoy and want.  Just because you have a cool promotion or a cool ad doesn't mean that you are really succeeding in business.  What happens when that promotion ends or the ad gets stale?  Emotional connection is the key.
  • "It's no fun being a pioneer."  This goes back to the tip in the prior list: "Team up with like-minded partners."  If you have to be the first mover, you need every advantage you can get.
  • "Stay humble. There is no room for arrogance."  Tom Peters said it best: "People can smell emotional commitment (or lack thereof) from a mile away."

"Thinking Outside the Cup"

That's the name of the article on Starbucks in this month's Fast Company (you may need to be a subscriber to read it).  One of the interesting things in the article is the description of the Starbucks music/coffee store on the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica.  Here's the description from the article: 

"It's awesome indeed, this new-concept music store on the trendy Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, California. It's a beautiful space with warm lighting and wood paneling -- a place where you can buy regular old CDs, or linger with a drink while you listen to music and sift through thousands of songs stored in a computer database to create your very own personalized, mixed-CD masterpiece. In about five minutes, a freshly burned CD, complete with your chosen title and funky artwork on both the disc and the jacket (plus liner notes!) will be ready to take home. It all happens very smoothly, and yet it's a novel and startling experience. But what's most startling about this remarkable new place to buy music is this: It's a Starbucks."

Now here's my description of that same store from my post on May 17, 2004:

  • They take your order outside right along the Promenade and then you go inside to pick up your order.  What I didn't hear was the normal banter (yelling) between the people taking the orders and the people making orders because the Health Department had obviously mandated swinging glass doors be put between the outdoor ordering area and the indoor prep area.  Takes away from some of the "scene".
  • They did not write on the cups!  No, I'm not kidding.  Instead they have a fancy new touchscreen computer system that prints the label with your exact order and name back in the prep area.  Perhaps this is a function of the unique configuration of this particular store, but it was kind of a bummer not to see the doctor's prescription-like scribbles on the back of the cup that somehow manage to generate the perfect beverage of your choice.  Takes away more from the "scene".
  • There were Tablet PCs encased in stainless-steel housing on the outdoor counter area from which you could create your own CD that presumably printed out somewhere inside.  I like the Tablet PC and music idea -- very cool.
  • On entering the inside of the "coffee shop" (if it could be called that), I found myself standing at the typically small order pick-up area and in the middle of a music shop.  CDs adorned the walls and a bar with Tablet PCs at every stool; what I assumed to be a point of sale system and an array of CD burners were behind the bar.  Sure there were still some tables and chairs, but it wasn't the light cherry trimmed with stainless-steel typically cookie cutter inside of a Starbucks.  What's happened?

In answer to my question, Fast Company reports that the 3rd Street location is known as the "Hear Music Coffeehouse," and is the first of several of the same type shops in other areas throughout the country.  Visit and note that you are redirected to this page on; that's because Hear Music is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Starbucks corporation.

What are they thinking long-term?  From the article:

"Chairman and chief global strategist Howard Schultz's ambitions for this new business operation are vast; it's not just about selling a few CDs from a coffee shop (Starbucks has been doing that, successfully, for about five years already). Schultz wants Starbucks customers to make their own CDs, yes, but he also thinks they will someday use Starbucks' enormous Wi-Fi footprint to buy and store music from the network on any device imaginable -- from laptops and iPods to phones and PDAs. He hopes record labels will develop proprietary material just for the Starbucks network. And that Starbucks itself may help break new artists and develop original material. Indeed, Howard Schultz plans nothing less than to turn the entire music industry upside down."

Just look at what happened when Steve Jobs tried to turn the entire music industry upside down; one of the most successful online music stores and the best portable music device.  Schultz has certainly got a great idea, and if he gets the kind of exclusive content that he's looking for, he may even be able to beat Apple at its own digital music game.  Live acoustic performance at Starbucks that you want to listen to in your car?  Sorry, you can only buy the tracks by visiting your local Starbucks.

So this is the massive reinvention of Starbucks from coffee shop/wireless Internet access point to an integrated, Internet-enabled, caffeinated music store.  Pretty cool stuff.

If you don't subscribe to Fast Company, pick up an issue at a news stand -- there's an online access code inside.

Pop Goes the GMail

A POP client has been created to access Gmail and can be downloaded here.

I just tried it and it works great.  Essentially the program sits between the web interface and whatever e-mail program you are using to retrieve POP e-mail.  Those of you with Treos getting excited yet?

Watch The Road

I was driving down Venice Blvd. in Los Angeles today and saw that there was a message on one of the monolithic electronic LED message boards that hangs over the street.  The message alternated between "| Watch the Road" and "".  Because the sign was so bright and annoying, I decided to check out the the website site.  Not surprisingly, the site is the campaign information site for people to, well, watch the road when they're driving, which begs the question: Should you really be advertising on huge reader board signs that immediately take people's eyes off the road?  Seems a little strange and counterintuitive to me.

Why marketing is hard

John Porcaro has a post entitled "Marketing Is Hard" on his blog.  The source of the post can be found on Porcaro's blog, but is from Kevin Schofield responding to a post by Robert Scoble (is that confusing enough?).

Here are Kevin's realities of marketing:

"Marketing is super hard too. Very few people understand it. Those who don't, almost always fail. Even a lot of the people who do, still fail at it.

Marketing is a lot of inter-related things. Including:

1. Product planning -- taking customer input and market analysis, and coming up with a plan for a target market segment and what the product should be (in partnership with the product design team) so that it fulfills the customer's need and they want to buy it.

2. Positioning -- how do you present a product in a way that makes it most appealing to the target market and sufficiently differentiated from the competitors' products. Often this includes "branding:" developing a unique identity and association with positive qualities that are part of your positioning, and verbal and visual elements that will be recognized as representing that brand.

3. "Go-to-market" plans -- part of me cringes just typing in that term. This is a marketing buzzword for everything you need to do to be ready to launch your product. Some big things, like setting pricing, and a zillion little things fall into here. I have never seen a comprehensive list of what is in a "go-to-market" plan, and I think that's intentional because if it's vague it serves the interests of those responsible for delivering it.

4. Advertising. Using media to raise awareness of your product, and calling potential customers to action to buy it. An inherent part of this is understanding how to match potential advertising forms with your target audience, your brand, and your call to action for them to buy.

5. PR. Officially it's "public relations" though for many folks it could just as well be "press relations" because that's where they (unwisely) spend much of their time, money and effort. This is about how you have conversations with customers, press, and anyone else who is interested in your product. For the people who aren't good at this, it means "professional lying." For the people who are good, it means "telling the truth in a compelling way that's relevant to your audience." Often technology evangelism is a form of PR."

Porcaro has some other great comments in his post.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Time Magazine's Blogging Story

In case you missed it everywhere else: Meet Joe Blog -- Jun. 21, 2004

Two Things

This post on Fast Company Now links across to Glen Whitman's "The Two Things".  What exactly are The Two Things?  Well, from Whitman's site, here's what it all boils down to:

"For every subject, there are really only two things you really need to know. Everything else is the application of those two things, or just not important."

At first glance, the statement above looks a little unreasonable, but then you start to read the examples on his page and realize that maybe he's not so far off.  Then you try the hard part: What are the two things about your business/industry/self?

For those of you keeping track: VentureBlog's "Who Hates Who of the Technology World"

The original post can be found here on VentureBlog.  This post is is the result of comments made at the Wall Street Journal's "All Things Digital" conference.  See the VentureBlog post for more detailed descriptions of the following:

  • Gates hates Google.  Not really a big surprise.
  • Jobs hates HP, Dell, Gateway, etc.  Not only did Jobs slam the Windows guys, but he apparently threw in this roundhouse at the music industry: "When asked why it was so hard for the music guys to make good technology decisions, he said that they were getting bad advice. Why? Because, according to Jobs, just as no top tier A&R professional would go work at a technology company, only a "3rd rate" technologist would go work at a label."
  • Fiorina hates Dell.  She apparently thinks Dell is low tech and makes its business by selling other people's products.  I think she's figures out the business model.
  • Rollins hates HP.  He slammed HP for selling PCs and printers as loss-leaders for its true business: selling ink.  Not that there's anything wrong with that business model.
  • Ellison hates . . . Gates.  Not like this is at all unexpected.

Friday, June 11, 2004

The easiest way to not get a job

Rules for the perfect ways to assure that you do not get a job that you are going after can be found on this post at Seth Godin's blog.  From the post:

Last month, I posted a bunch of notices looking to hire summer interns (yes, we're set, thanks). The ads asked people to send in a three page PDF, describing their background, their goals and giving applicants a chance to really stand out and make their case.

HALF the people sent in a resume. Just a resume.

"Here's my resume" was the total content of at least 20% of the cover notes I got.

Point in fact, the easiest way to ensure that you will not get a job you are applying for is to not read the instructions.  Further, if you are applying for a job with a person that weekly bears their ideas, thoughts, comments, way of thinking for free on a blog, you have an unlimited resource to tailor your resume to that person.  And if that person has published books, you should read them (if you can't afford them, go to the library - yes, libraries still exist; some of Seth's books are even available for free in PDF if you search hard enough).

Seth's looking for a free prize, hell that's the name of his newest book.  I'm imagining the people that were accepted for the job at least made the effort to present Seth with their free prize; if they didn't, they could have beat 50% of their competition just be following the instructions -- pretty good odds when you really consider it.

Be great!  Sell yourself!  Make that HR person that reads resumes say "WOW!" and run down the hall with your resume.  You can be great within the rules/instructions that are provided by a HR department.

If you use Hymn and iTunes 4.6

Get the guide by way of Gizmodo: How to Un-DRM your Un-DRM'd iTunes 4.6 Songs.

I don't advocate stealing music by any means, but if you don't agree with the DRM technology that Apple uses, here's your lengthy solution.

Mean, mean toy

Read about the Remote Control Jammer at Gizmodo -- yes, it does exactly what it sounds like it does.

Leadership Quotes

A daily dose of leadership quotes is posted over at An Entrepreneur’s Life if you're looking for any great leadership quotes.  Here's one that's in their list and hanging on my wall:

“Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.”
- Tom Peters

Time Management

There's a great post on An Entrepreneur's Life regarding time management.  From the post:

It occurred to me the biggest time drains in my day were a) E-mail, b) E-mail, and c) E-mail. Next comes the stacks of partially finished projects, the 4 full bookshelves, and my numerous areas of stuff needing attention. All in or done in my office.

So, I bought an iBook.

It does not have E-mail set up and never will. When it’s time to work on important projects, I carry it into another office (that doesn’t have my stuff in it) to work; or strut over to Starbucks and down enough caffeine for the entire state of Virginia while pumping out the copy. In a sense, I’ve “ritualized” the entire process of writing including the tools I do it with. I’ve finished 3 major projects in the last 3 days that were dragging on for weeks. My productivity has soared. It’s great!As for my main, office computer, I’ve made a life-changing shift there, as well.

I only check E-mail once per day, at the end of the day.

If someone has to get me quickly, they now know E-mail isn’t the way to do it. The dozen people who I want to have immediate access to me, have a private phone number. Everyone else goes in the queue.

Wow!  I'm tempted to try it, anybody else intrigued?  The sheer volume of e-mail that I receive daily at work is quite astounding; I seem to spend much of my day replying to or deleting e-mails on either my computer (if I am in the office) or on my Blackberry (if I am out of the office).  While I do practice efficient e-mailing -- brevity rules and responses are not given unless required/requested -- it still takes up a large chunk of my day.  I used to pride myself on always having an empty Inbox because I was so on top of my e-mail, but perhaps that's a bad measurement.

Most IT departments don't support Macs, but I wonder how much of that simply has to do with Exchange or Notes compatibility.  Certainly I find Macs to be much more user friendly and highly capable of accomplishing everything I can do on my Windows machine with the exception of company e-mail.  If I employed a similar strategy to that stated above, I probably would go with a Mac too, they're just easier and more fun to use.

Regarding a small group of people having private access to me during the day, I could easily achieve that by adding a second line to my Nextel phone.  Going a step further, I could raise the barrier to entry by only responding to Direct Connect (i.e., radio) calls:  No Nextel?  Too bad, can't get in touch with me.

Could this actually work outside an entrepreneurial environment?  I don't know, but I sure would be willing to give it a try.  Hell, I probably will give it a try; there's a Borders right across from our office with wireless access.

Now, anyone want to help me in my experiment by offering up a decently priced (used would be fine) iBook or G4 Powerbook?  If you give me a good deal, I'll give you my Nextel private ID . . .

Thursday, June 10, 2004

More Gmail invitations . . .

Yes, along with the rest of the world, I have received more Gmail invitations.  As I have promised some of the invitations to friends, I will pledge to give away one more invitation on my blog to thank all of you for your readership.

Rules will be the same as last time:

You have from now until 6 PM Pacific time on Wednesday, June 16, 2004 to write a compelling reason for why you think you deserve the invite.  Please write your reason in the Comments of this post, and send me an e-mail with your e-mail address so I can send you the invite if you win.

Have a blast!

Note: for those of you that entered last time and did not win, please enter again this time; previous entries will not be accepted.

Got a business blog?

Add it to the bizblogdirectory on A Penny For.  The site format is a Wiki, so follow the instructions and you'll do just fine.

Download the US Constitution for your iPod

I'm not sure how useful this really is, but if you need it, Boing Boing's got the link.

Monday, June 07, 2004

More AirPort Express

The official Apple site about the hardware: AirPort Express

The official Apple site about AirTunes, the streaming audio software for iTunes: AirTunes

The official Apple site for unwiring your living room: Unwire Your Living Room

The official Apple site for using your AirPort Express when you travel: On The Go

The more I read about it, the better I like and the more I want one (can't seem to get one delivered tomorrow, however).  I can see myself buying 1-2 for my house and one to take with me to use in hotels.  Additionally, I am not particularly fond of my Linksys wireless router at home, so if the Express only turns out to work well with the AirPort Extreme, I don't think I would have much trouble convincing myself to buy one of those as well.

W Wired

What do you get when you mix 3 iTunes downloads, a 3-month subscription to Wired magazine, high-speed Internet access in your room, WiFi access in your living room, and unlimited local and toll-free calls?  You get the W Hotel's "W Wired" package.

Pretty cool.  And W Hotels are part of the Starwood Preferred Guest program, so on top of everything above, you also get Starwood Points.

AirPort Express

There's this cool new toy (via Gizmodo) for all of us iPod owners called the AirPort Express.  Essentially the AirPort Express is a $129.00 802.11g base station/wireless bridge that looks to be the size of a large Apple plug (see below):

Look at the bottom of the device: there's an audio out port, a USB port, and an ethernet port.  Apparently the Express integrates seamlessly with iTunes, allowing you to plug the Express (or multiple Expresses) in behind your stereo system (or anywhere else you want music), and wirelessly stream music from your computer.  Perhaps the USB port will allow you to attach your iPod to any Express and wirelessly sync or stream your music -- that would be really cool.  Additionally, the Express should function as an inexpensive portable wireless repeater for travelers; the addition of the Ethernet port should allow it to repeat wired signals.

Gizmodo is restating a rumor that the Express may only be compatible with Airport base stations, although that rumor has already been refuted here by Mac World.  The same Mac World article states that the upgrade to iTunes to support this new piece of hardware should be out this week.

This device is due to ship sometime in July.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Is United in trouble?

Thinking by Peter Davidson has a couple of posts regarding United Airlines.

The first post has a copy of a letter written to United that was originally sourced from here.  I am including the full text of the letter below because it is so astounding:

Larry D. De Shon
Senior Vice President
United Airlines
PO Box 28876
Tucson, AZ 85726-8876


I received your form letter dated November 26, 2001, in which you advise me that I will not have quite enough miles to requalify for 1K status. I want to thank you for the fascinating correspondence and assure you that my comments are not personally directed at you.

Every time I think it’s impossible for United Airlines to do one more thing that is counter-intuitive to creating success, I am stunned to find the company well is far deeper than I could imagine.

Here’s an example for you: My travel plans, like those of so many other frequent business travelers, were temporarily curtailed by the events of September 11. I would have easily qualified for 1K status without this interruption. Apparently, any history of travel purchases by repeat customers is of negligible concern to United.

I am intrigued by the relentlessly inappropriate decision making on the part of United; it seems no area of the organization is spared. Here is a chance to extend the program qualification period and retain the goodwill and patronage of your most loyal customers and yet the company chooses … not to. I commend United, for it is an undeniably bold strategy to treat customers as a commodity of inexhaustible supply and indefatigable loyalty. Flawed, dangerous, and bone-headed, certainly, but undeniably bold.

United is clearly in as much trouble after September 11 as the company was before September 11. Perhaps it is because United chooses to remain delusional and blame outside circumstances for inside problems. The company has publicly avowed that terrorists, the economy, the weather, government interference, the lack of government interference, labor relations, sudden and radical changes in the customer culture, not enough customers, too many customers.

Regardless of which excuse one picks (and I would love to know the decision- making process for this amongst United management -- does it involve darts?), one thing is clear: United is doomed and has been doomed for quite some time. The company does not have customers; it has hostile advocates who have been forced by convenience and monopolized routes, or temporarily bribed by discounted fares and frequent flyer programs, into a minimum show of grudging allegiance.

I don’t mean to dismiss the effort this must have taken. Through a combination of diligent activities extending from the loftiest senior manager to the lowliest "customer service representative" Team United has turned what could often have been a discretionary purchase into a margin-shredding commodity purchase.

Listen, I can live very well without the 1K status; it’s hardly a badge of honor to fly frequently on United. The United levels should begin with "Loser," increase to "Total Loser," and top out with "Inoperable Loser." And I could care less what happens to United -- quid pro quo -- since United could care less what happens to me.

I only write this letter to thank you, on behalf of your entire, um, organization. I consult at the highest levels to many of the smartest, fastest, and most demanding companies in the world. And I give keynote speeches all over the world to business executives. I don’t know how much harder I’d have to work if United didn’t continually supply me with fresh material. I’ll certainly share your letter and I really appreciate the effort the company makes to keep itself relevant as a case study for corporate suicide.

Keep up the… work.


Stan Slap

Pretty incredible right?

The second post is what Peter Davidson thinks United should do now: narrow their focus to the baby boomer generation.   Here are his main thoughts on how United could accomplish this with my comments (click through to his blog to read his comments):

  • Humanize the planes.  I totally agree: more legroom, leather seats, DirecTV . . . all the things that make me enjoy flying Frontier.  Peter's got some more ideas.
  • Provide communications technology.  I totally agree; I'm willing to pay for it, just like I'm willing to pay to watch DirecTV on Frontier.   Communications and entertainment services, especially Internet service, I am happy to pay for.
  • Appropriate entertainment.  I'll take it one step further: provide entertainment systems that work!  I was watching (or trying to watch) a movie on a recent United flight and either the system or the tape (or both) were all screwed up, causing the sound to screw up every five minutes.
  • Invest in ground facilities.  Streamline everything, make the curb to jetway experience the easiest for me and I'll fly you every time.  Want to know how not to do it?  Visit Southwest at LAX around 6AM on a weekday.
  • Reality check [your] frequent flyer program.  Please, for the love of god fix the system that used to be the standard for the industry.  I use your stupid credit card to get miles (and pay for the privilege), my Safeway card is linked to get miles, I get your miles when I rent from Hertz -- reward me appropriately!
  • Staff accordingly.  Your staff should be able to relate to your target customers.  Enough said.

I remember receiving such over-the-top service when traveling with my family that we would write letters about flight attendants.  When traveling frequently along the same routes we would see those flight attendants again and again and United would reward flight attendants for receiving customer praise with some sort of bonus or pay bump and a pin signifying X number of praising letters.  Does this even happen anymore?  I sure don't see those pins anymore.

Wi-Fi and Windows XP

This seems to be old news in the blogosphere, but you should read this if you use a Windows XP machine with WiFi -- Wired News: Windows XP Bedevils Wi-Fi Users.

The article describes the horrible experiences that a network administrator was having with XP machines and WiFi connections, and I have experienced the same thing myself at home.  I use a Linksys wireless router at home with my Vaio and the signal goes in and out for no reason.  Several times I have upgraded the firmware on the router, gone to Linksys groups, read reviews of the Linksys box (interestingly people either love or hate the box -- I wonder if it's because the people that love it aren't running XP), and basically just wound up muddling on with sporadic connections (yes, I did verify that there was nothing wrong with the router by using a network stumbler, which showed me the continuous signal strength of the access point even when I lost access).

From the article:

"It will and does lose connection for absolutely no reason whatsoever, and then picks it up again, seemingly randomly," Gilmore [the network administrator] said. "At first, it was so aggravating. And now, it's considered a normal factor of working with Windows."

Here's the solution that Gilmore came up with.  I will warn you of the following 2 things: (1) only try this if you consider yourself and advanced user, and; (2) you have to do this every time you're having a problem.

  • Go to Control Panel.
  • Choose Administrative Tools.
  • Select Services. A two-pane window comes up.
  • In the right-hand pane, scroll down and click Wireless Zero Configuration.
  • Click Stop the Service. A progress bar may come up briefly.
  • Click Start the Service. Again, a progress bar may come up.
  • Close the Services window. At this point, Fleishman said, the connection should come back. 

I've heard rumors that his problem should be fixed whenever Microsoft gets around to releasing XP SP2.

What actually is . . .

I posted on Wednesday asking what really was.  Lo and behold, I received an e-mail from the guy responsible for the site at CNET; question answered. 
Here is the body of the e-mail:
I'm the guy responsible for It is in fact a business news, blog aggregator that also distributes content from my primary product: Here's the boilerplate on BNET:
"BNET is dedicated to helping busy leaders more quickly and easily solve important business problems. BNET creates and distributes interactive business content and tools such as white papers, case studies, Webcasts, audio conferences, blogs, book summaries and checklists. BNET also publishes the monthly BNET Business Interest Index which illustrates important topics and trends among its registered user base of business leaders.


BNET's audience is made up of management and senior executives representing a variety of business functions at the Fortune and Global 500. BNET's partners include leaders in academia, business publishing, management consulting and professional services.


At June 1, 2004, BNET had more than 65,000 registered users downloading an average of 80,000 pieces of content per month. More than 95% of BNET's content is free to registered users."

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Designer Yacht

So imagine this mega yacht parked in the center of a sea of "standard" white yachts at a marina.  Would it catch your attention?

This is the 118 Wallypower, designed by Wally, originally known for their aggressive sailboat designs.  Described as the "stealth bomber on water," it is obvious to see that the yacht was designed for speed -- the creator designed the boat to be able to reach a top speed of around 60 knots.

There are unique features to this boat beyond its striking water presence, including a convertible sun area/outdoor dining area on the fore-deck, 360 degree panoramic views from inside the black glass cockpit, tender storage, a master suite with double en-suites, 2 double guest suites with en-suites, a full galley, crew areas, and more.

Design matter.

Contract Blogging

Nick Denton, owner of Gawker Media, announced on his blog today that Gawker had launched its first contract blog as a marketing activity for Nike.  The Art of Speed Gawker blog focuses on a series of short films that Nike has produced and has a limited shelf-life of only about a month.  In his post, Denton refers to this Nike blog and future advertising blogs as "special advertising sections" of the main Gawker site much like the special advertising sections that appear in magazines.  There is a comprehensive list of services that Gawker will provide as well as some information on successful and unsuccessful blog advertising campaigns.

This announcement comes at an interesting time as Denton was just featured in a story in this most recent edition of Business 2.0 in which Business 2.0 tries to figure out just how much money Gawker is generating from blogging.  Business 2.0 makes some guesses and Denton seems to downplay the revenue streams.

New Marketing Association

The Viral & Buzz Marketing Association has been formed.  What's it all about?

From the site:

The Viral & Buzz Marketing Association (VBMA) is an international group for the development, validation and promotion of consumer-oriented marketing trends and techniques.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

What's your legal e-mail disclaimer really worth?

Interesting article on Slate that details an attorney's review of the legal disclaimer that Time, Inc. has its employees attach to the bottom of their outgoing e-mail.

From the article, here's the disclaimer:

This message is the property of Time Inc. or its affiliates. It may be legally privileged and/or confidential and is intended only for the use of the addressee(s). No addressee should forward, print, copy, or otherwise reproduce this message in any manner that would allow it to be viewed by any individual not originally listed as a recipient. If the reader of this message is not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any unauthorized disclosure, dissemination, distribution, copying or the taking of any action in reliance on the information herein is strictly prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, please immediately notify the sender and delete this message.

Thank you.

Here is a synopsis some of the attorney's responses/comments about the disclaimer:

  • The e-mail may technically by property of Time, Inc., but by sending the e-mail out, there are some implied rights conferred to whomever receives it such as the ability to print and share it.  Someone may possibly be able to sue you for copyright infringement.
  • ". . . may be legally privileged . . ."  Might be, might not be; who knows?
  • "No addressee should forward, print, copy . . ."  The key word is "should"; denoting simply a suggestion rather than binding contractually.
  • "If the reader of this message is not the intended recipient . . . distribution . . . is prohibited."  Maybe is a trade secret was transmitted there might be a case, but Time would have to defend why information of that type was sent via insecure e-mail.
  • " . . . please immediately notify sender and delete this message."  The key word is "please," denoting a request, once again.

You should see the article for a more complete explanation.

Free Prize Inside Tour Summary

800CEOREAD Blog has posted the Free Prize Inside Business Blog Tour summary for those of you that may have missed it.


What exactly is Business.Updates.Com?  I saw that someone had linked through to my blog from it, so I visited it and found it to be a beta CNET product that appears to be some sort of business article aggregator.  Using the search component, I tried to find "strategize" and returned a hit from the Fast Company blog that contained a link to my blog.

I'm going to keep an eye on this product and see what exactly it's being used for.  Oh, and I did send them an e-mail to recommend my site for inclusion.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Offshoring Individual Work

Seems that you can make it happen.  Read this post regarding the ability to offshore competitive site analysis for $15-$20 an hour.  The author refers to this as sub-shoring.

It would certainly be interesting to see a micro list of offshoring jobs that are billed by the hour.  Need to input a bunch of disparate data into a single, beautifully formatted spreadsheet?  Would you rather have your $100,000 per year Executive do that work or have a $15 per hour person in India do it?  That's going to become an easier and easier question to answer as more and more white collar tasks are available by the hour off shore.

99 Performance Tips for WindowsXP

99 Performance Tips for WindowsXP is pretty useful; it says it's for beginners, but I found tons of useful performance enhancements.  I will caution you: be careful with REGEDIT.

Tom Peters New Homepage

Tom Peters finally has a blog.  Rather than retools the existing address, they have chosen a new address of  The new site has a blog on the front page that is written by members of the Tom Peters group; nothing that I have seen by Tom; there's more from time on Worthwhile.  I'm glad to see that Tom (or at least his company) has finally gotten into the blogosphere.  Major oversight on their part?  No RSS feed -- poor form!

Canon Copiers

I want to make it perfectly clear that I am not condoning these actions.

That being said, Boing Boing has an interesting post on how to get free copies from Canon copiers; the same type of copiers that are generally used at your neighborhood Kinkos.

Watch how this information spreads virally among different web sources and blogs.  Will copy shops be aware that everyone knows how to hack their machines?  Will the workaround for the new copy shop fix be just as easy to hack?  Certainly the hack for the new fix will be disseminated just as easily.

The Way the Music Died

Stumbled across this site on PBS -- Frontline: The Way The Music Died.  Apparently it's a PBS show about the music industry and you can stream the full 60 minute show via Real or Windows Media right off the server.  In addition to the full show, there are lots of good links, interviews, and voluminous information about where the music industry has been, where it is know, and where various people think it's going.

Benchmarking Everything

Seth Godin has a great post regarding the fact that nearly everything is benchmarked these days.  From vehicle computers (remember that Seth drives a Prius, so that's how he's getting 89 MPG) that keep track of MPG to daily song sales rankings from the ITunes music store, everything is being compared against the highest recorded level.

The problem with benchmarking, according to Seth, is that it causes (makes it easy) for companies to continue to be mediocre; and I completely agree with Seth.  Don't misunderstand: companies that surpass sales benchmarks may be doing ok financially, but they are no innovating.  Sooner or later someone else will surpass that high sales benchmark but slightly adjusting their price or capturing a bigger sales channel.

Seth points to companies like Hummer and Mini as companies that did not create their products to compete with benchmarks; I would add Maybach (yes, I have posted about Maybach before) to that list.  Maybach did not start out trying to build one of the most (benchmarked) expensive luxury sedan, rather they arrived at that price point because they absolutely refused to sacrifice quality or innovation.  Will Maybach ever be the top-selling (benchmarked) luxury sedan?  Highly unlikely (although selling one car for Maybach is probably equal to 10-12 Mercedes or Lexus luxury sedan sales).

One of the interesting things I find about blogs, mine included, is that we measure our popularity or worth by the amount of people that our statistics counter tells us have visited our site; we benchmark ourselves against the traffic that more popular sites receive.  Some of us take it even further by measuring the number of inbound links to our blogs, requesting that others link to us to improve that number, and linking to others to improve their numbers -- not that exchanging links is a bad thing, it does help to drive traffic, but many times I find myself being frustrated with the number of links on my blog vs. the blog that someone else offers.  The interesting thing, getting back to the site traffic benchmarking, is that the site traffic meters do not accurately display the number of people reading my blog; they do not tell me the number of people reading my blog via RSS (for those of you keeping track, yes, I have posted about this topic before).

In his post, Seth says that he is giving up on comparing himself to benchmarks.  Novel concept, but almost impossible to avoid unfortunately.  There are too many things in every day life that provide constant feedback about performance against benchmark.

Where the hell have I been?

I promise that I have not abandoned this blog, rather I was enjoying a relaxing week in sunny Acapulco at Villa Segovia (yes, it's all in Spanish, but there some good photos).  I would highly recommend investigating villas for your next vacation -- great rooms, tons of space, full staff (chef, cleaning, laundry, driver with vehicle, etc.) -- for the same price as some middle to high-end hotels.

There are a few items that caught my attention on the aggregator, but to be honest, the amount of posts from all the blogs I monitor was simply overwhelming, so expect to see regular posting starting later this week.