Friday, July 30, 2004

Another reason to join the military

Free plastic surgery!  At least that's according to this article on CNN.  From the article:

"Anyone wearing a uniform is eligible," Dr. Bob Lyons, chief of plastic surgery at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio told the magazine, which said soldiers needed the approval of their commanding officers to get the time off.

Between 2000 and 2003, military doctors performed 496 breast enlargements and 1,361 liposuction surgeries on soldiers and their dependents, the magazine said.

. . . quoted an Army spokeswoman as saying, "the surgeons have to have someone to practice on."


I was pretty surprised to read this post on MSMobiles regarding Centrino-powered laptops and WiFi access points.  From the post:

It's almost unbelievable but true: several Centrino powered notebooks and Tablet PC computers refuse to connect to several Wi-Fi access points!

Before you will do something stupid, like for example re-installing whole operating system in your Centrino notebook, just because it doesn't like to work with your Wi-Fi access point, check out whether your Wi-Fi access point is actually Centrino compatible!!! If it is not then check out if proper software upgrades for this access point are available that address Centrino compatibility. If there are no such ugrades, then throw away your access point. . . 

Simply speaking: don't buy Wi-Fi access points that don't have “Connect with a laptop featuring Intel Centrino mobile technology” badge!

Now I have another reason to check and see why my Centrino laptop hates staying connected Linksys access points.

My United Airlines Rant

Last Saturday I was flying from Los Angeles International to Denver International Airport.  My flight was at 8:00AM, so I showed up relatively early along with everyone else that was taking flights that morning.  I wound up in line for about 30 minutes at the self-service, automated kiosk check-in.  Why did it take so long?  Here's why:

  • Most importantly, just like self checkout at Home Depot, there were not enough employees to help people.  I actually walked up and helped a few people through the check-in process, but, worse than that, people had to wait 10 minutes or longer for an employee to come put a baggage check sticker on their checked bag.  You see, the system is not fully self service: you don't get to put your own sticker on your checked bag; that prints up behind the counter.
  • The employees that were behind the counter were allowing people to get out of line and ask them questions, many times simply checking those people in behind the counter.  That is not ok!
  • There were no employees making announcements nor were there any signs that told International travelers that they could not use the kiosk to check in.  I can't tell you how many people had to go get in the International line after having stood in line for 20 minutes at the kiosk.

So I arrived at the gate around 7:00AM, sat down to read a magazine, looked up, and realized that the board was already showing a one hour and fifteen minute delay.  Because I know had lots of time, I went up to customer service and asked what the reason for the delay was.  They responded that there was no crew for the plane.  I responded back that I had booked my ticket a month prior, so the airline must have known that the plane was scheduled to leave at 8:00AM and that I couldn't understand why there was no crew; my response back was a dumb look.  I did get them, after about 10 minutes of negotiation, to upgrade me to Economy Plus, which, according to the upsell they tried at the kiosk when I checked in, was a $40 value.  I still didn't feel very warn and fuzzy about the whole experience.

On Thursday I departed Denver, which is a United hub.  I once again went to a kiosk, but in Denver had no line to wait in.  Upon checking in, I tried to switch my seat to an exit row seat; all of the exit row seats were available when I checked in.  After selecting the seat I wanted and trying to confirm the change, a message popped up and told me that I had to see a United agent to let that person confirm my eligibility to sit in an exit row seat.  Now that check makes sense because they do have a series of questions and some age requirements, so I flagged down one of the United reps behind the counter to get my seat.  I was promptly asked if I was a United Premier or 1K member to which I responded that I had not yet hit that status this year.  To my chock, the agent told me that without the status of one of those programs, she would not upgrade me even though seats were available and that I would have to try my luck at the gate.

In shock, because I had heard about this preferential treatment for elite members, but never expected such an overt admission, I very loudly made a comment about First Class in Coach and proceeded to complete my check-in.  Of course, it was just my luck that the printer malfunctioned and the whole kiosk shut itself down.  Due to my earlier outburst, a Manager was now behind the counter and had to check me in manually.  I asked the Manager for an "upgrade" to an empty exit row seat and he refused as well.

On the ground at LAX I went to retrieve my checked bag and wound up waiting from 12:40PM until 1:20PM before any of the bags came off the carousel.  During this time period I talked with the United baggage rep who explained the delay by pointing at some of the carousels that were boxed in with plywood and telling me that there was construction.  I asked how the construction around other carousels was slowing down the baggage from our plane, especially since the carousel had not spit out any luggage from the time I arrived, and he had no answer for that.

I contrast these experiences with United against the fabulous service I receive from Frontier and wonder why I subject myself to flying on United any more.  Frontier really acts like they want my business and they bend over backwards to accommodate me (to the extent that they can).  Frontier has cheap prices, pleasant flight attendants, and gives me free tickets after 15,000 miles vs. United who couldn't care less about the fact that I have a lifetime program mileage of 1,000,000 miles, that I am almost to exec premier this year, that has surly flight attendants and line workers, and refuses to give "upgrades" to the exit row.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

What's in my bag

Here's what's in my main travel bag (lots of people ask me, surprisingly):

First off, I use an O'gio City Corp bag as my primary travel bag.  I love O'gio bags because they've got lots of internal and external pockets and they look great embroidered with company logos.  Additionally, the hardware on the bags is first-rate and does not easily break or wear-out.  The final thing I like about the bag is that it has a generously-sized laptop packet and a holder on the outside for a cell phone that I use for my Blackberry 850; the holder has a cool pull string that literally ejects the Blackberry when I need to read it.

My primary computer is an IBM T40.  The T40 is pretty thin and light with a large screen and full-size keyboard.  Like most IBM laptops, the thing is bomb-proof; it takes drops and bumps like a champ.  I really enjoy the Centrino chipset; I connect wirelessly to the Internet in airports, at Starbucks, at Borders, basically anywhere I can find a connection when I'm traveling.  Inside my bag I've got a power adapter, a basic 5 foot length of phone cable, and a 5 foot length of CAT5 cable; all of these items necessary to power and connect the computer respectively.

I have an older generation 30gb iPod that has about 20GB of music on it.  To support the iPod, I carry a power adapter and the USB/Firewire cable (the T40 does not have a USB port); it's nice to be able to use the iPod as a portable hard drive if I need to.  The only other things for my iPod that I carry are the original Apple carrying case and the headphones.  For extended trips, I do have the inMotion speaker setup, but it doesn't live in my bag.

For quick portable storage, I have a SanDisk 128MB thumb drive.  Jump drives are really useful when you have to give presentations or really need to quickly share files with someone and your computers are not networked together.

My current digital camera of choice is the Canon PowerShot A80.  The A80 has a lot of picture options that can be controlled while taking pictures; it's point and shoot if you need it to be and semi-professional when you need it to be.  The 4MP pictures it takes are awesome and more than what I need for my personal or business use, and the storage is infinitely expandable with Compact Flash cards; currently my camera has a 256MB card in it.

For a cell phone I use a Motorola i730 with Nextel service.  I know lots of people that use Direct Connect and the free incoming plans are certainly a money saver.  I carry the phone and a rapid rate charger.  I am looking forward to the forthcoming i930 that is supposed to run Windows Mobile and have a 1MP camera.

That pretty much wraps up all the electronics and crap in my bag.  Most trips see at least a book or two and several magazines along with my Tumi padfolio and any paperwork and travel documentation I may need.

All of this does fit under the seat in front of me and has never needed to be put into the overhead bin.

Blackberry Frustrations

I use a Blackberry for e-mail while I travel.  My biggest issue with Blackberries is the fact that they do not real-time sync my e-mail deletions; I have to cradle the thin when I get back to the office to synchronize all my e-mails.  That gets to be especially frustrating when I find myself in a situation like I'm in now:  My mailbox is full and exchange won't let me send any more e-mails until I get rid of some in my Inbox.  I know what is causing the problem, I can see the numerous very large attachments I have recently received.  Of course, I have tried to dial in with my modem, but I keep getting booted.  I have tried using the free Internet in my hotel room, but my VPN software won't authenticate and my company has not enabled Outlook Web Access or IMAP.  I can jack my computer into my Nextel, but that's really, really slow.

I'm essentially left with 2 options:

(1) Go find a Starbucks and connect wirelessly; my VPN software always authenticates at Starbucks.

(2) Call the company tech support line and have them increase the size of my mailbox.

I don't find either solution particularly elegant, but I have a feeling I'm going to go with option 1.

Friday, July 23, 2004


The Internet Explorer team at Microsoft now has their own blog, which can be found here.  Please note the ground rules of what will and will not be discussed on the blog.

U2's Pledge

If the CD that was stolen during a U2 photoshoot last week winds up on file sharing networks, u2 is going to immediately release the CD as a legal download on iTunes -- hat's the story according to this article on Wired.

Understandably, the band has put a ton of work into the new album, but it seems a little weird to me to "threaten" to put the album out on iTunes if the music is released on file sharing networks.  Listen, if the album is done and ready to distribute, put it our on iTunes anyway: generate some buzz prior to the record release party and give people that would otherwise download it from a file sharing network a legal way to get the music.

What would be interesting is if the music comes out on a file sharing network on any other day but Tuesday.  Would U2 and its record company wait until the industry standard day of Tuesday to release the music, or would they truly immediately release it?


The number of people that are coming to the site because of my little yellow bracelet post is simply incredible; I hope all of you that are searching for information and landing here are purchasing a bracelet.  I have decided to republish my earlier post based on the number of e-mails I have received from people looking for the information:

So I'm a little behind on this, but if you are anywhere near a Nike Store, you should stop by and pay a buck for a Live Strong yellow bracelet (chances are that you've seen people wearing them but didn't know what they were).  The whole cost of the bracelet -- $1 -- gets donated to the Lance Armstrong Foundation in support for cancer research; in total, they are trying to raise $5 million.  In addition to being for a great cause, your wearing of the bracelet shows your support for Lance Armstrong during the Tour De France race.

If you can't get by a Nike store, you can order a band online here.

As I pointed out to one of my single friends: if nothing else, the $1 bright yellow band is a very inexpensive conversation starter.

On the website for the campaign, you can register to show your support, just click here and click on the "View the WearYellow Peloton".

Technical ActiveX Spyware blocker

Lockergnome has a post that links through to this page on Spyware-Guide.  From the aforementioned page you can download an executable that solves the following, according to the site:

Tired of all that Spyware and Adware crap being installed by ActiveX ?
But don't want to lose out on functionality?

We have created a system that blocks all known "bad" ActiveX controls from running inside Internet Explorer by setting the "Kill bit".

When a page tries to install a component from our list, it will fail.
When a page tries to use a component from our list that was already present on your system, it will fail too!

Other, "friendly" components are not affected.

For those of use that may be suspicious about this, there is actually this Microsoft article.

I'm going to give it a try although I now do 100% of my non-Intranet browsing on Firefox.

The theatre of e-mail bakruptcy

"Dear person who sent me a yet-unanswered e-mail, I apologize, but I am declaring e-mail bankruptcy."

According to this article on Wired, that is the response you receive when e-mailing Internet legal visionary Lawrence Lessig.  Because of the sheer volume of messages that Lessig receives, he determined that he would never be able to adequately answer the vast majority of his e-mail, so he declared "e-mail bankruptcy."

"E-mail bankruptcy" makes sense if you consider the following:

  • Potential e-mail recipients are creditors.
  • The creditors cannot be responded to by their due date (a reasonable period of time for a response).
  • Lessig is late or has not "paid" his creditors.

So is this whole thing just a publicity stunt?  Maybe a little bit, but it does highlight the massive problem of sheer e-mail overload that a lot of us deal with.  I personally have 3 Ureach addresses, 2 Gmail addresses, a work address (this one generates the majority of my daily e-mail), a Blackberry address (for those of you that did not know, even though you get your work e-mail on your blackberry, it does get a default direct address assigned by the service provider | luckily no one except me and the IT department know what this address is), and a number of Hotmail accounts that I used to use as throw-away accounts for registration.

From the article:

"Public figures and senior managers are going to get a lot of e-mail, and the traditional solution for them is you have secretaries . . ."

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

New Inbound Links

Here are few blogs that have linked to me this week:

Marketing Genius from Maple Creative
Media Dragon
Dual Loyalty

Thanks for the links! 

Apple Batteries

I saw this today when I was cruising around on the Apple site looking at the new iPodsThis link will take you to a special page that Apple has devoted to telling you how to get maximum battery endurance from your Apple device batteries.  Specifically, this link will tell you how to maximize the life of your notebook batteries and this link will tell you how to maximize the life of your iPod batteries.

A lot of this stuff seems obvious, but I do have to say that I have showed quite a number of people how to use the standard hold switch on their iPods.

Prius Review

Here's a great one on for those of you that, like me, are fascinated about the popularity of these vehicles.

French Hours

Seth Godin has a great article in this month's Fast Company (as always, you may need to go buy the magazine to get the access code or wait until you can view the article for free) regarding French Hours.  What are French Hours?  Seth uses the Hollywood movie business, and in particular the 10 day shooting schedule of Joel Schumacker's Phone Booth (hey, Schumacher was the one that coined "french hours" when talking about the film) to contrast with the normal multiple month or year shooting schedule of normal Hollywood movies.  Specifically, during Phone Booth, no lunch breaks were taken because all of the staff agreed not to take lunch breaks (food was simply available for crew to grab and eat when they could) versus normal movies where there a very specifically set times or hour metrics that determine exactly when each meal must occur and the entire production stops while the crew eats.  In short, French Hours mean moving more quickly and more efficiently while still retaining the same quality.

French Hours are applicable even outside the entertainment industry and Seth proposes 4 rules for implementing French Hours; here are those rules with my comments:

  • Every person must want to do it, and there must be an alternative job if anyone chooses not to.  It would probably be optimal if the alternate job was not something demeaning (i.e., work on this project for 12 hours (or more) a day, or clean the toilets with a toothbrush).
  • You can't do it all the time.  People burn out.  It's just that simple.  High-stress, long-hour tempos burn people out even faster than normal, so it is not advisable to stay at an elevated operational tempo all the time.
  • Everyone on the team has to be reminded of the uniqueness of the situation (and the team) on a regular basis.  The urgency and intensity of the team and the project live in the emotional buy-in and intensity of the leader; it is up to the leader to constantly remind the team why it is that they have bought into this environment.
  • You have to stop.  All at once.  There will be no tying up loose ends, dotting the i's and crossing the t's; when the project is done, it's done and that's it.  Why is this so important?  Because ending abruptly at full completion leaves the team excited about the project rather than dreading the mop-up work.

The great thing about projects where team members have signed up for French Hours is the excitement and competition that is bred within the project.  Let's say that everyone signs on for 12 hour days.  Everyone on the team is going to try to compete to stay a little bit longer and work a little bit harder than the other people on the team.  The end result?  A quality project that employees are excited about that may even get completed before its deadline.

Here's an example from my personal experience:

We had to park 8,000 cars in dirt fields for a festival-type concert.  None of the fields were marked with spaces and the patrons wanted to get parked so that they could either start partying or make their way up to purchase tickets, pick up will-call, etc.  I had a crew of not very many people with whom I had to park the cars in these fields; normally this crew got several distinct breaks for bathrooms and water etc. -- and this day it was about 90 degrees.

Before any cars started showing up, me and another supervisor talked with the crew and simply told them that there was no way to have organized breaks because of the volume of cars and the time of the show.  What we did offer was a constant stream of water and food available at any time from the back of a golf cart and the ability to take a quick restroom break at any time.  I did explain that any time one person took a break, that meant double the work for the guy next to him until he returned.  Furthermore I explained that the more quickly we got the cars in, the more quickly we would be done with the job.  Anyone that didn't want to be part of the crew could be reassigned to some other job.

Everyone elected to stay and as the cars began to pull in myself and another supervisor showed the crew our very effective festival car parking method; the method keeps you constantly in motion and requires a fair amount of brain power -- essentially it turns a very boring job into a very exciting one.  As the column of cars began to increase, I again offered to let anyone that wanted to leave -- no one wanted to leave.

As I had promised, a golf cart was provided with a cooler full of water, drinks, and food and there were port-o-lets spread throughout the lots.  The biggest problem I had was keeping everyone hydrated: no one wanted to take a break for a bottle of water, so me and the other supervisor started delivering the water so that the crew could keep working.  Any time someone actually got to the point where they truly needed a break (it was usually just to run to the restroom), either myself or the supervisor would take their place until they were done, ensuring that the crew saw that we were willing to do the same job that we were asking them to do.

Once we had the lots about 95% full and the traffic had died, I pulled the crew in.  Some of the crew offered to stay in the lots and park the remaining cars, but I told them that we could just let the cars sort themselves out when they arrived; I had the next day of needing the crew to perform in exactly the same way and did not want a few of the crew to become embittered at having to stay in the lot any longer than necessary.

What's great about French Hours is how intuitive it is to almost everyone.  Heed Seth's four rules and add in some leading by example, and you can reap the rewards.

Detailed AirPort Express Review

It can be found here at arstechnica and includes detailed configuration instructions, software screenshots, tips and tricks, and the results of testing it with a Linksys wireless router.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Seth Godin's new project

I wrote a post back in March regarding Seth Godin looking for interns.  Seth has posted a soft rollout of what he and the interns have been working on that redirects to this post on Worthwhile.  From Worthwhile:

First, if you haven't started following this very interesting project he's involved in at this link -- CHANGETHIS -- get cracking and go over there and check it out.

Their blog for the project is Read and Pass, and don't miss this post about their cool team -- Noah, Phoebe, Amit and Michelle.

Essentially ChangeThis is an idea that will allow authors to rapidly publish their works in such a way as to turn their works into instant ideaviruses; much the same way that Seth distributed his book entitled "Unleashing the Ideavirus."

Here are the basic ideas behind a manifesto (click through to view more detail):

Principle 1 -- A manifesto shouldn't be angry.  But it can make you angry!

Principle 2 --  When I'm done reading a manifesto, I should be able to make the argument myself.

Principle 3 --  A manifesto should contain both hope and a plan.

Principle 4 -- A manifesto should be as short as possible and as long as necessary.

Principle 5 --  A manifesto must be of utmost importance to a specific hive of sneezers: a subset of people who like to spread ideas.

Principle 6 --  A manifesto won't convert the masses immediately.   Instead, a successful manifesto sows the seeds of doubt.

Principle 7 --  The first page must sell the reader on reading the second page.

Principle 8 --  Manifestos must be heretical. If you're just going to say what everyone already knows, no one's going to pay attention.

Follow the link above to get a few more manifesto "Details."  Even better, read the manifesto about creating manifestos.

I am very excited to keep my eye on this project.  You can get even more details by reading the company blog (Read and Pass) for this project.

Stay tuned, this is very interesting!

Why people read blogs

I saw this information over at a post on Corporate Engagement:

Not that the results are very surprising, but you do have to wonder what this means for magazines, newspapers, etc.

Airport Express

I wrote about the Airport Express from Apple when it was first announced; you can find those posts here and hereJames Duncan Davidson has a great post on his first day with the Airport Express and makes some comments and observations that I had wondered about, not having had the time to get around to purchasing an Airport Express for myself yet.  From his post:

Within minutes of picking up the box, I had the device out of its packaging and into the shelving around my home stereo. And a few minutes after that (after installing a new Airport Admin Utility and a Airport Express Setup Assistant) it was set up and running.

 Of course the next thing I did was stream audio to it from iTunes. And it worked. Nicely. In fact, every minute I've been home this weekend, there's been music streaming to my stereo from my laptop. It's pretty seamless. The only hint that there's not a wire between the laptop and the big speakers is the bit of lag when playback is started or stopped. Oh, and the fact that there isn't a freaking cable between the laptop and the stereo.

So the Airport Express seems to be as easy to configure as the Airport Extreme base station, which is nice, and it seems to provide the AirTunes function quickly and efficiently out of the box.

Beyond its role as a audio sink for iTunes, the Airport Express is first and foremost a wireless base station. And it's an awesome one. You know from the specs it's going to be small, but when you hold it in your hand and realize that in the box is a power supply, wireless base station, print server, and a audio output... well, let's just say it's surprising.

Outside of getting a few of these for my house, I really want one to travel with and use in the hotel room -- a wireless access point the size of the Apple power supply is a pretty cool thing.  Additionally, for many users that have a cable modem in a small apartment, the Express may be the cheapest solution for a small wireless access point.

The Airport Express doesn't come with an AC power extender cable in the box . . . I'm using one of my laptop extender cables to carry power to the Airport Extreme rather than using the simple plug. This lets me put the base station up on the shelf rather than plugged directly into a plug so that I can see the nice green light from the couch.

You can buy the extender cables at the Apple Store.  Hopefully future versions of the Express will come with the extender.  This is a primary concern for many home stereo system users that may want to plug the Express directly into a wall outlet -- the shape of the Express is not going to allow you to push any solid-walled furniture back up against it.

The feature pictured above is the Express profile manager.  Why is this cool?  Well, if you travel with your Express, you can save the configuration for your home network and save various configurations for different hotels or office buildings.

One thing that Davidson notes and I had wondered about is the support for laptop power.  How cool would it be if there was another port on the Express that allowed you power your laptop while it was performing all the rest of its functions.  Maybe the G5 Powerbooks and iBooks will simply have an Express/charger combo device.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Business Blog Survey

From a post on Business Blog consulting:

Dear Sir,

My name is Matthew Lin, an MBA candidate at University of New Brunswick at Saint John, Canada. I am currently conducting a research on how weblogs are being used as business tools, and their particular implication for small and medium enterprises. I have designed a questionnaire in order to survey individuals who publish weblogs or can describe the reasoning behind their company’s weblog. The survey will be posted online for one month, starting next week. I am seeking your assistance to promote this survey to your readers, in hope of gathering a good cross-section of business weblogs. Please spread the word!

The survey ["The Blog as a Meaningful Business Tool"] is available at:

Additional information about this project (e.g., objectives, hypotheses) are available upon request.

Thank you for your consideration. If you are aware of others who might also be interested in posting this questionnaire URL, please feel free to forward this email to them.


Matthew Lin

Let's all help him out; take the survey and if you have a blog, repost the request above.

It's going to be a virally-supported survey!

Question about WiFi on airplanes?

If carriers begin providing WiFi Internet access on airplanes, then wouldn't it be possible for me to use my VOIP phone via the connection, bypassing the exorbitantly priced AirPhone service?

Just a thought.

Trouble for NetFlix?

I saw some interesting information on this post at Lockergnome:

“Sign up now, and you can try Wal-Mart DVD Rentals for 30 days, free! To get started, click ‘Begin Free Trial’ below. There’s no risk, and you can cancel anytime.”

I think I'm going to go give it a try, but I am quite certain that this could spell doom for NetFlix based on Wal-Mart's aggressive pricing.

P2P Video sharing Climbing

Check out this post on Lockergnome regarding P2P file sharing.  From the post:

Despite what certain agencies may want you to believe, Peer-to-Peer file sharing is booming big time. To my surprise, video has actually over taken music in the #1 content slot being downloaded.

Not that it is surprising that video is being downloaded -- it was being downloaded even while the RIAA was suing filesharers.  What is surprising is how quickly video has supposedly overtaken audio.

Check out this article on BBC News.  From the article:

"Video has overtaken music," CacheLogic founder and chief technology officer Andrew Parker

Interesting (a little bit) to me are these facts from the article:

File-swappers have moved their attention to other peer-to-peer software, such as Bittorrent.

While the FastTrack network (which carries Kazaa ) still accounts for 24% of all P2P traffic, the lesser known Bittorrent and eDonkey together account for 72% of file-sharing, according to CacheLogic's report.

Hopefully the MPAA has learned how not to do things from the RIAA approach.  Unfortunately, I am not optimistic.


So I'm a little behind on this, but if you are anywhere near a Nike Store, you should stop by and pay a buck for a Live Strong yellow bracelet (chances are that you've seen people wearing them but didn't know what they were).  The whole cost of the bracelet -- $1 -- gets donated to the Lance Armstrong Foundation in support for cancer research; in total, they are trying to raise $5 million.  In addition to being for a great cause, your wearing of the bracelet shows your support for Lance Armstrong during the Tour De France race.

If you can't get by a Nike store, you can order a band online here.

As I pointed out to one of my single friends: if nothing else, the $1 bright yellow band is a very inexpensive conversation starter.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Better voicemail

Working Smart has a great post on how to create a template for your voicemail so that you can update your outgoing message every day.  Here's the template from Working Smart:

Hi, you’ve reached the voice mailbox of Mike Hyatt. Please note you can bypass this message at any time by pressing “1”. Today is [day of week], [date].

  • I am in the office, but I’m either on my phone or away from my desk;
  • I am in the office but will be in meetings all day;
  • I am out of the office on business; or
  • I am out of the office on vacation.

However, your call is very important to me. If you will leave a message, I will call you back at my first opportunity. If you need immediate assistance, press press zero-pound to speak to my assistant, Vicki Parr. Thanks for calling.

Interestingly enough, I actually use a somewhat similar template for my own voicemail with the following exceptions:

  • I never tell people I am on vacation, I am always just out of the office.
  • I do tell people how long I am out of the office.
  • I add this language: "If you leave a message with your name and number, and you have thirty seconds to do so, . . ."  My voicemail system doesn't actually cut you off after 30 seconds, but the ploy works remarkably well in forcing callers to get to the point quickly.  I always ask for a name and number because people still don't leave numbers when they call and still sometimes forget to leave names.
  • I say that I will call people back in 24 hours and I do, always.

One important, time-saving lesson from Working Smart is this:

I started by programming into my cell phone my voice mail telephone number and then all the keystrokes necessary to log in and initiate the “change your greeting” feature. I was able to reduce the sequence of twenty-seven keystrokes to two: I press the speed key to dial my voice mail number once, then, once I'm connected, I press a key to initiate the log-in process.

Automating the process by programming menu choices is an absolutely great idea.  This isn't just limited to the cell phone either; you can do the same with speed dials stored in your office phone.


This picture cracked me up when I saw it today in a post on Johnnie Moore's blog.

How many people in your office hold meetings as an alternative to work?  I can certainly name a few in my office.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

New links

Hey, I just got a new Powerbook, I've got to start reading up on this Mac stuff:

Daring Fireball

Other blogs:

Rands in Repose
*Star in the Margin


Are you screwed?

Rands in Repose has a great post about what you can do is you are screwed.  From the post:

The state of being screwed is unique. You know when things are going smoothly because you can arrive in the morning and quietly sip your hot beverage until your first meeting at 11am. Screwed is the opposite. Screwed is being accosted the moment you walk out of the elevator and being unable to even check your mail... until Winter.

Screwed is mental paralysis.

Screwed is career panic.

Screwed is also an opportunity to hit it out of the park. Overcoming screwed will give you confidence, experience, and respect, but you need to figure out how screwed you actually are and then then figure out and how to fix it. If you aren't interested in unscrewing yourself, I'd suggest this article is not for you. I'm assuming you've have passion regarding your professional career. You want to do more. You want make more money and, if it all works out well, you want to change the world.

Even more worthwhile are the examples that Rands goes through to guide you through various situations in which you may be screwed; he evaluates each situation with a measure of "Screwedness" and provides tips and solutions for overcoming each problem.

Good stuff with great verbiage.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Put your blender on "High"

Seth Godin has 2 wonderful posts: part 1 here and part 2 here about the new, what he refers to as, "The Blended Times."  From Seth:

Welcome to the blended times. The moment when the big and small, the impermanent and the permanent, the accepted and the ‘scammy’ meet. For a while, it’s going to be awfully confusing. We’ll get ripped off, waste time, become even more skeptical than ever before.  

It's inevitable isn't it?  Yes, it's going to be hard (sometimes) to distinguish the flash-in-the-pan from the permanent.  Are we going to get nailed and ripped off?  Yes, Seth is very correct.  Remember that "ripped off" can refer not only to the loss of cash, but the loss of anything.  How much is your time worth?  I get pissed when customer service agents rip off 2 hours of my time for no good reason.

So, when all the cues are gone, the way we make decisions about who to work with, what to buy and who to believe and trust comes down to this: it's in the interactions.

As it is and has always been:  Business is people interacting with people.  Sure, corporations are legal entities, but you don't do business with the corporation itself; the interactions you have on a daily basis with a corporation are really interactions between you and another person that represents that corporation.  Corporate structures are great from a tax and legal liability standpoint; many times single proprietorships can beat corporations because of the quality of the owner-representative interaction.

It's not the surface flash . . . the brand of car, the cut of the suit or the seat at the table. It's in how we follow through. It's in the actions we take and the way we listen. It's in keeping our promises and doing exactly what we say we're going to do.

I wore a suit and an earring in my ear to my first interview for a consulting firm -- that earring almost ensured that I didn't get the job until the partner realized that he was selling products to people that looked a lot like me.  Do first impressions still matter?  In certain things, you bet!  I guarantee you will get more value if you try to trade in a car that has been detailed vs. a car covered in road grime at a dealership.  However, when I am talking to a customer service person on the phone that's representing a company, I may assume that they are required to spout off whatever their company tells them -- name, rank, serial number -- it is how they interact with me after that point that determines the end result of the experience.  Read this post about my 3 hour experience in the Apple Store to find out what I'm talking about.

Our prospects, though, are scared. They can't afford to spend time or money with every single person that walks in. So the challenge is to be cheap and easy. If it's cheap and easy (or quick) to interact with you once, people are more likely to do it. If the first interaction goes well, you get a second shot. You build a relationship, not a sale.

Maybach calls their salespeople "Relationship Managers", what do you call your salespeople?  Everything else being equal, why is it that people buy your widget over someone else's?  It's the service and the interaction!  Why was AT&T Wireless losing customers?  Do a Google search on "ATT wireless + customer service" and find out that everyone on the web says that they have the worst customer service.

So what's the take-away message here?  Where's the big nugget and lesson?  Here you go, in Seth's words:

No, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Far more important today, though, is this: you don't get a third chance to make a second impression. And it's the second impression that builds your brand.

Fanatical Customer Service

I brought my new (to me) Apple 15" Powerbook into the Apple Store in Santa Monica last night around 6:00PM.  In trying to get the Powerbook to be totally versatile, I had purchased an AirPort Extreme Card earlier in the day, followed the awesome step-by-step instructions complete with pictures, and couldn't get the machine to recognize that the card had been inserted.  Finally, after reinserting the card several times into the slot, I gave up and called Apple Care who referred me to the closest Apple Store to have the store troubleshoot the card and the machine.

When I arrived at the Apple Store, I went straight to the Genius Bar, logged in, described my problem, sat back, and waited.  Even though the displays told me it was going to be 25 minutes to talk to a Genius, the 1 Genius behind the counter managed to effectively multi-task between myself and 2 other customers and provide pretty adequate service to all of us at one time.

My computer had to be taken into the back to be analyzed, so I sat in front of the Genius Bar and watched the tutorial that was being given on Microsoft Office for the Macintosh.  More than watching and listening to the live tutorial, I was shocked to see that all of th audience members were over at least 50 years of age.  Thinking about that, however, I realized that the Macintosh platform is the perfect machine for the 50+ age group; you plug stuff in and everything just works, there's no need to install drivers, configure Internet settings, etc.  Interestingly enough, if Apple were to focus on the retired, not supported by their company's IT department segment, they could probably really get some business; based on the number of older people taking this class, maybe they're already succeeding.

The Genius who was helping me came back after about 45 minutes with my computer, a LED light, and a dental mirror -- not a good sign.  He showed me the inside of the bay in which the AirPort Extreme card is supposed to be inserted, and there was a white piece of paper stuck against the receiver pins; no doubt I had jammed it further into the pins when trying to install the card.  Instead of telling me the machine had to be sent out, another Genius offered to try his hand at removing the paper, so I settled in for another 30 minutes on my stool.

During the nearly 3 hours I was at the store, the sheer volume of product, particularly iPods, that the store was selling was mind-boggling.  They happen to back-stock the full-size iPods in the Santa Monica store behind the Genius Bar, and there was almost a constant stream of salespeople grabbing iPod boxes to hand to customers.

It was interesting to watch the Genius Bar employees at work.  In one case 2 gentlemen came in that wanted to purchase their iSight cameras and wanted the Genius to set them up and show them that they worked.  No problem, the customers were sent to purchase the cameras, came back to the bar with them, the Genius unwrapped everything, and showed them how to work the cameras over the complementary wired and wireless network in the store.

In another instance a customer was having a problem reading CDs on his machine.  The Genius hooked up an external hard drive, booted from the external drive, fed a CD in, the CD mounted, and the Genius determined there was a software problem on the machine.  Then the Genius ran some utilities that didn't solve the problem, so the Genius offered to sit with the customer for 1 hour and reinstall the operating system, or offered that the customer could leave the computer for the Genius to do the work (free of charge, of course) and come back the next day to pick it up.  The customer opted to leave his machine.

The last case that I witnessed was an irate customer who had the motherboard of his computer replaced and his DVD player no longer worked.  He spent 15 minutes yelling at the Genius and the manager of the store finally came over and agreed to let the man leave his machine at the store, let the Genius fix it, and offered to let the man come back at 10PM that night to pick the machine up; after the customer left (i.e., stopped yelling), the Genius fixed his machine in 4 minutes.

Back to my machine: After 3 hours of attempts by 2 Genius employees, they finally could not get the piece of white paper out without potentially damaging the pins.  Even though the repair is normally classified as a Tier 2 repair (i.e., not covered by the one year factory), the Genius told me they were sending the machine in for me and having it repaired free of charge.  I did get to see what I would have been charged for the repair; suffice to say that it was just shy of 4 digits. 

It's refreshing/incredible/exciting to me that Apple gives their employees the latitude to make the kinds of decisions that the Genius made with my machine.  I've been through the repair process at Best Buy and have never felt so well accommodated.  This is the kind of experience that will turn me into an Apple Store evangelist?  Can you beat the prices that the Apple Store charges other places?  Sure, you can save yourself a hundred bucks or so, but why would you want to?  I guarantee you some Internet store is not going to give you the kind of service I and the other customers I observed received.

If you've never been to an Apple Store, I recommend that you go and just check it out.  People watch.  Play with all the cool toys; you can put your hands on everything.  Sit at the Genius Bar and observe; yes, they let you site there even if you don't really need anything specific.  Go to one of the classes some night and observe the people in the audience.  When you find yourself near the store in Santa Monica, pop in and observe the people that bring their dogs in, roll their bikes in, and are rolling around on rollerblades throughout the store; try doing that in Circuit City.

Monday, July 12, 2004

What you pay for sunglasses

I saw a "special report" on the local Fox affiliate this weekend regarding how cheaply you can get a fully effective (UVA and UVB blocking) pair of sunglasses vs. the prices that people are paying for so-called "precision optics."  Here's my take: can you get a pair of sunglasses at the supermarket that provide acceptable amounts of coverage for your eyes?  Sure you can.  I would question you: Have you ever skied with Revo glasses?  Have you ever gone boating with Maui Jim polarized glasses?  Have you ever worn a pair of Oakleys?

Sunglasses really aren't just about eye protection.  Do I like the fact that my Oakleys are ANSI-rated?  Sure I do.  Do I like the fact that my Oakleys provide my eyes with great light protection?  Sure I do.  But all of that aside, I buy and wear Oakleys because I like the way that they look and I like the way the look on me.  Everything else being functionally equal, we pick our sunglasses and other accessories because of style and design.

Imagine how surprised I was to see the story about this product on all of the tech blogs this morning (picture from Engadget):

Oakley is suddenly thrown that assumption of everything being functionally equal out the window.  According to this CBS news story, the new glasses are called the Oakley Thump and will be available at Circuit City locations in time for the holiday season.  The glasses not only have the signature Oakley optics and design, but also contain a 6 hour rechargeable battery and a 128MB or 256MB MP3 player.  The pieces you see going into Lance Armstrong's ears are pivoting headphones that are integral to the frame.  From the article:

The suggested retail price of Thump(tm) is US$395.00 with 128MB of memory and US$495.00 with 256MB of memory and polarized lenses.

Paying to try out your dream job

There seem to be an awful lot of posts on this article in USA Today, which talks about a company called "Vocation Vacations," which allows you to pay them to go work for a day or a few days or a week at your dream job.

Sounds a hell of a lot like Your Reality Checked on Fine Living.  Sure the show on Fine Living follows other people experiencing their dream jobs, but it doesn't cost me a thing to watch a week of someone else's experience compressed into an hour.

Don't get me wrong, I think that Vocation Vacations is probably a pretty cool thing for people that feel like they may need some real life experience before they make a career/life change; a lot of the people on Your Reality Checked decided that they didn't really want to do what they thought they wanted to do after a week of actually doing it.

Patrick Lencioni Interview

For those of you that are Patrick Lencioni fans, you may be as interested as I was by this interview with Patrick Lencioni on the Decker Marketing blog.  Lots of insight on Lencioni's creative process, inspiration, and researching techniques.

This is an interview that was given to the author of the blog's father, so it is unlikely that you would find it elsewhere.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Making P2P work for artists?

According to this story on ABC, peer-to-peer network providers are discussing giving revenues to artists whose music is driving P2P popularity.  From the article:

 "As the progression of the litigation [against P2P companies] moves on ... there will in fact be a return of profits to artists . . ."

". . . certain actions that are already providing a return of profits to artists. There are funds established, there are distribution methods being explored for moving profits back to artists."

 "In addition to that, there's obviously the potential for digital rights-managed content to be injected into search strings of users to choose those particular files, through which a direct relationship is established between the label, the artist and the fan."

Since major P2P software providers make their profits by selling advertising and bundling software shopping products (among other things) with their free software, it makes sense that a certain percentage of those revenues could be reserved for the artists that are driving users to use the software.  This, of course, does not address revenue sharing for film studios and software manufacturers, but once the precedent is set, it will be hard to stop the flood of people with their hands out.

The article sites that P2P software providers would also be looking to Internet service providers and Internet hardware manufacturers for contributions to the artist revenue fund because, they claim, that the demand for P2P services is what is driving the demand for service and hardware products.  I find it hard to believe that the ISPs or hardware manufacturers would be willing to give up any of their revenues, and if they were mandated to do so, I am sure that those additional costs would be passed right on to the consumer with a profit markup attached.

Assuming that payouts proceed (or are currently actually happening) it begins to beg the question of the validity of the RIAA lawsuits: If the artists are being compensated and the RIAA is suing on behalf of the artists, then what is the problem?

Friday, July 09, 2004

New LinksTthis Week

alteraxion: Digital Entertainment Convergence
Radiant Digital
Shannon Says
Jane Blog
Evan's Weblog of Tech and Life

New people I am reading and new people that have linked to me.

Ross Mayfield's Killer Application

This picture came from Ross Mayfield's blog:

I've never seen any of these options in the Office suite.


Coinstar at Starbucks

Peter Davidson has a post regarding the installation of Coinstar machines in Starbucks.  You know the Coinstar machines; the sorting machines that you see in your neighborhood supermarket?  Anyway, the Coinstar machines in Starbucks convert your change in Starbucks card credit.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Stamps out of the ATM

I can get stamps out of the ATM at Wells Fargo, which is a pretty cool thing (provided I remember that I need stamps when I am getting money out; I've never made a special trip to the ATM to get stamps).  Stopping at a Wells Fargo ATM today and seeing the option on the screen, I got to wondering what else ATMs could dispense.

Obviously whatever the ATM dispenses would need to be no larger than the average size of a piece of American currency, but could probably be as thick as 10 bills (I think $200 is the maximum you can get out of an ATM).

Besides selling pre-paid phone cards, pre-paid wireless cards, pre-paid credit cards, and Chiclets, I couldn't really come up with anything else useful that could be dispensed.

Can any of you think of anything?

My thoughts on the Starbucks music store idea

I got an e-mail today asking what I thought Starbucks should do based on my posts here and here , so I figured I would share my response with all of you:

Following the story that ran in Fast Company, I went back to the Santa Monica pilot store to check it out again. The concept is really cool and the store was picked with people buying music; almost all of them drinking from a Starbucks cup.

I truly think that if Schultz moves quickly and gets this program rolled out, they could wind up being the brick and mortar digital music store. Truly, not everyone is willing to move past CDs into digital music players, but they will change quickly as the equipment becomes less and less expensive.

The differentiating factors for digital music stores are ease of use and exclusive content. Starbucks has a very compelling distribution network to sell to the record labels; I see the biggest growth opportunities for exclusive tracks in the live recordings arena. If Starbucks was the only place to get the live tracks of the concert that you saw on Saturday night, you would probably go into Starbucks to download them.

The wireless high-speed Internet infrastructure is already built into the majority of Starbucks locations; conceivably Starbucks could create a free Intranet (Starbucksnet or something like it) that was free to "Power users" who want to download tracks themselves and recharge their Starbucks cards in the stores. Assuming they went to an Intranet model, Starbucks could theoretically only charge users to access Internet sites; all Intranet activities would be free (imagine the sponsor partnership opportunities on the Intranet page).

My only concern about the music store concept is size. A lot of Starbucks that I have been into a rather small; customized to fit into the space available. The Santa Monica location is extraordinarily large in comparison to the majority of the stores I've been into. Having spent more time observing the Santa Monica location, I think the physical space plays a big part in the customer experience.

Down the road, if the music model works, I can easily see video being an easy addition. Imagine, stop off at Starbucks for your coffee and get a DVD of the Friends episode that you missed last night while you are waiting for your coffee.

The great thing about Starbucks is their willingness to rapidly prototype and to fail. The web is littered with information about different programs that Starbucks has pursued and have failed. However, I guarantee that Starbucks has more knowledge from those failures than companies that have had similar ideas, but have shied away from trying them.

I do know this: it's going to be very interesting to watch.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Gmail Exploit

Just to sour the news of my previous post, Broadband Reports carries news of a potential Gmail exploit that may cause user information to be disclosed.

A lengthy description of the exploit can be found here, but basically:

A remote user with a valid GMail invitation can determine information about another user attempting to register an account with the service, including the target user's first and last name and the target user's desired GMail account username.

Additionally, Broadband Reports notes this problem (the link takes you to a list of about 500 Gmail registration pages that include executed addresses).

To be honest, neither of these problems seem to be that big of a deal.  For those of you that are super upset by this, perhaps you should have read the license agreement.  If that doesn't do it for you, ever time you log in you will notice that the Gmail service is still in beta.  If you're still upset, don't use it.

Gmail Imports Contacts

According to this post on Slashdot, Gmail can now import contacts.  From the post:

First, a user must save their existing contact information as a CSV file in a place on their hard drive where they can easily find it. By clicking through to the Contacts > Import Contacts links at the top right of the Gmail interface, users are then given the option to import/upload their contacts CSV file into Gmail. And voila! When contacts are imported, Gmail automatically fills-in addresses as a user types recipient names into the address field.

So I gave it a try, and, of course, it works just as advertised.  One caveat: I only imported about 10 contacts in a custom-created address book just to check the functionality and instructions.  My address book in Outlook has about 500 contacts; I'll let you know when I get a chance to try an import the whole thing.

Now I'm waiting for Gmail to let me import all of my PST files and search them with the Google engine (of course, by the time I can do this, the Google engine better be able to search inside all of my attachments, regardless of their file type).

Let me know if any of you import a large address book and if you have any problems.

Who identifies your digital music?

Chances are it's identified by Gracenote CDDB (compact disc database).  Wired has a great story about Gracenote; how they started and where they are going.  What I love most about Gracenote is the fact that they built their extensive CD database from the input of users like me.  Back when Gracenote first started up, I would spend the time to enter information into Gracenote as accurately as possible so that other users wouldn't have to; I did this because other users were doing the same thing for me.  Gracenote is currently used by the major online music stores, including Apple's iTunes Music Store; I love being able to put in very obscure or live CDs only to have Gracenote return the full disc information and track listing.

Gracenote has a new product called Music ID.  From the Wired article:

. . . a file-recognition technology that analyzes the audio characteristics of a digital file like an MP3 or Windows Media Audio file. The service uses audio waveform technology to match music without any identifiable tags to Gracenote's database . . .

New this year, Gracenote's Mobile MusicID can identify snippets of songs through a cell phone. Music fans can dial a number and hold up their mobile phone near a radio, for instance, and Gracenote's service will send a message to the phone, identifying the tune being played . . .

Adding Functionality to Mozilla

I've been using the Mozilla Firefox browser for a couple of weeks and it's really awesome (the only thing that I have to go back to IE for is internal company Intranet sites).  One of the downsides of Mozilla is that you do run into some Internet sites that don't work quite right.  Luckily there are all kinds of programs that you can install to help your Mozilla browsing experience.

Wired has a great article that reviews some of the helper applications and suggests some of the essential helper apps; useful stuff.

Strategize Clip Blog

It can be found right here.

I will post any content that I feel is interesting and relevant to the Strategize theme from all the blogs that I read.

This clipping blog is a cool new service of Bloglines and I'm still trying to figure out how to use it, so bear with me and feel free to give me feedback.


Tuesday, July 06, 2004

12 Months of EZ Armor Free

Follow this link, fill out the registration, and you will get 12 months of EZ Armor by Computer Associates for free for 12 months.

Cool FedEx RSS Tool

Ben Hammersley has information on how to track your FedEx packages through RSS.  Essentially you just put your tracking number at the end of this URL:

Then subscribe to the URL as a RSS feed to track your package.  Hammersley also provides a copy of the source code for those of you do-it-yourselfers.

How long before UPS/FedEx/DHL start providing this as a standard service?  Do the shipping companies even know what RSS is?

What I love about this is that the shipping status information is being pushed to me; I don't have to go to the site, paste in the number, and drill down to the status.

Customers Are Not Always Right

At least Best Buy is willing to acknowledge that customers are not always right.  Slashdot has a post that links through to this article on  From the article:

". . . customer who ties up a salesworker but never buys anything, or who buys only during big sales. Or one who files for a rebate, then returns the item."

". . . Best Buy was tightening its rebate policies in the case of customers who abuse the privilege . . ."

Apparently a lot of this is driven by a consultant named Larry Selden who wrote Angel Customers and Demon Customers.  I think I'm going to go pick up a copy and see how it reads.  One thing Selden talks about in the article is a company's willingness to "fire a customer," something Best Buy is unwilling to do.

Companies not allowing iPods?

Slashdot has an interesting post that links through to this article on ZDNet UK, which states that iPods are a security risk.

I'm sure you can all guess why someone might see an iPod as a security risk; the thing's just a hard drive.  However, to specifically pick on the iPod as a security risk is asinine.  There is storage in the phones that employees are syncing to Outlook, there is storage space in the memory cards of digital cameras, USB thumb drives keep getting smaller and are even being embedded into watches, and there are online storage sites (hell, you could e-mail yourself 1gig worth of files to a Gmail account).

If you're a company that's worried about data loss/corporate espionage, you may want to consider the exact kind of hardware that you are putting at your employees' desks.

Monday, July 05, 2004

"Will Work for Food"

That's what the label on my Heinz ketchup said yesterday.  Doing a little investigating, there's some information on the Heinz site.

Hey, it's not rocket science, and Molson (ID required to enter) did it with it's "Twin Label Technology," but it is pretty cool.  I remember some of my friends making bartenders go through different bottles of Molson at the bar until they got the saying they wanted; will you be going through different bottles of ketchup at the grocery store looking for your favorite saying? 

Free Anti-Virus

Jeremy over at Ensight has provided links to a free anti-virus program that you can use at home.  How many of you don't use anti-virus at home?

You can find the free anti-virus here.


You can find the basic instructions here on The Furrygoat Experience.  If you try it and it works, let me know.

Free Loaner Car

I drive past a lot of body shops on my way to work every morning.  The body shops seem to differentiate themselves by performing work on specific types of automobiles (using the auto manufacturers logos) and/or offering free loaner cars.  Thinking about this post I wrote in April about car manufacturers providing hotels with their cars in order to get guest to drive them, I got to wondering why the manufacturers don't provide cars to body shops.

If I was a car manufacturer, I would find the non-dealer body shop that did the highest volume business in fixing cars manufactured by my main competitor -- if I were BMW, I'd go find the high volume Mercedes repair shop -- and I would provide that body shop with a bunch of my cars to use as loaners.  I know people that have had some pretty serious damage done to their cars and almost all of those people, once the car has gotten out of the body shop, have traded the car in, myself included.  Why do you trade it once it's fixed?  Because it never feels quite the same as it did before.

It stands to reason that if luxury car manufacturers are getting good return on their hotel investments that they would probably get pretty good return on a body shop investment.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Plugs Re-Imagined

Thinking by Peter Davidson has a great post that details how The Design Center of Toyama won an award for re-designing an electrical plug.  Check it out:

Definitely one of those things you look at and say to yourself, "Now why didn't I think of that?"

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Search Engine Optimization

This blog currently is the number one result if you search the term "strategize" on Google.  Is that because I have performed some sort of optimization on my blog to make it that way?  No, I haven't (at least not that I am aware of).  I have heard that Google likes to index sites that are constantly updated, that Google likes to index Blogger blogs because they own the company, and I know that Google has assigned my a Page Rank of 6/10.

I have spent some time registering my blog on various different blog indexes.  Additionally, I spend time trading links with other blogs that I read.  A lot of my referrals come from blog search engines like Technorati and Feedster.  My counter does allow me to track search engine jumps to my blog, and I do get a fair amount of traffic primarily from Yahoo and Google.

Seth's has a post about his feelings regarding search engine optimization.  From his post, here is why Seth does not recommend Search Engine Optimization:

  • "Because it's a black art, it's really hard to tell who's good and who's not."  I certainly wouldn't pay anyone to optimize my site.  I keep this blog as much for the people that read it as I do as a resource for myself.  That being said, I do enjoy reading all the posts for increasing traffic to my blog over at Blog Business World.
  • "my real problem, though, starts with an analogy. Imagine your retail store was on a road that no one ever drove down unless they found it on a map. And then imagine that they redid the maps every week and the mapmakers refused to tell you exactly how they went about deciding which roads to draw and in which hierarchy to place them."  This is a very interesting way to look at how search engines work.


Michael Moore's Blog -- Coming Soon

For those of you that are fans, here is the address of the soon-to-be-real blog by Michael Moore:

Michael : Mike's Message : Blog

Found the location via this post on Candy Coated.


When I was taking a database class in college the professor ran through an exercise to help us understand how to organize data within databases.  The question he asked the class was: "What makes any car, truck, SUV, etc. unique?"  Answers ranged from color to make to manufacturer to trim package; all of those answers were, of course, wrong.  Someone in the class finally said something to the effect of the car's serial number being the uniquely identifying feature; the car's serial number, of course, is the VIN.

I, being sort of a smart-ass, commented that the VIN was the uniquely identifying feature only if the VINs were never repeated.  The professor agreed and added on that counterfeit VINs would also screw up the process.

Because of this experience with VINs, I was intrigued to read this post on Autoblog that states that car manufacturers are running out of VINs.  The suggested solutions seem to be taking VINs from countries that don't produce lots of vehicles and/or reclaim VINs assigned to manufacturers that are no longer in business.

Can you see the people that created the VIN system saying to themselves: "We'll make the VIN number 17 characters long, there's no way we'll ever run out of VINs."?

Getting around registrations

The BlogFather has a great post that links through to a site called Bug Me Not.  Essentially Bug Me Not maintains a list of active logins and passwords for various sites that require registrations to read content.  I tried using the login and password for the New York Times site (hey, it was the example on the main page of Bug Me Not, so I figured there was a good chance it would work) and it worked like a charm.

Why you can't have a closed Coke can on an Air Force base

According to this post on Techdirt, it's because of a potential GPS threat.  That's right, GPS threat!  The new promotion that Coke is running says that all you need to do is pop the top of a winning can of Coke and the can will send a GPS locator signal out to the prize patrol who will bring your prize to you.

To be a little more clear on the winning process, a red button on the can must be pushed in order for a GPS signal to be sent, but the military doesn't seem to think that bringing any sort of GPS receiver onto a secure installation is an ok idea. 

I wonder what they do with all the E911 cell phones with GPS capabilities.