Thursday, December 27, 2007

How do you defeat Ticketmaster's visual barriers?

captchatm logo

You pay people in India $2 per hour to do it for you.  Maybe you've heard of Ticketmaster's lawsuit against RMG Technologies, a company that sold special software to scalpers to allow them to bypass Ticketmaster security, including the "captcha" visual barrier?  Well, the President of RMG let it spill that they're simply paying people in India $2 per hour to enter the information.

It'll be interesting to see if this turns out to be fully true as RMG has had to turn over source code, but if it is, I wonder if Ticketmaster really has a case.

This will be interesting to watch.


Captcha picture from Gea-Suan Lin  

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Big Head Todd's new CD is free to download

bht all the loveBig Head Todd partnered with Crocs to provide their new CD to everyone as a free download.  If you want an actual CD, you can get one for $5 or free with a $15 merchandise purchase.

Does this change the game?  Sure it does.  A company that makes shoes that many people love to hate just became a record company.  Further, they find a correlation (presumably worth paying for) between their customers and the band's fans.

I had to (and you'll have to) give your name, city, zip code, and e-mail to get access to the free digital download.  I'm not sure what the current acquisition cost for Crocs customers is, but I'm guessing that what they're paying the band is less than what they spend on the average piece of advertising acquisition.

My best guess is that there will be a lot more of this happening.  Not only for music distribution, but just in general: there's no good way to ban cellphone cameras, so why not give Nike a piece of the action and make sure that every cellphone camera picture of an artist carries the brand logo?

 Anyway, follow the link below to give up some of your personal data in exchange for the digital version of the new CD.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

How to be a real artist? Just observe Corey Smith

corey smith Corey Smith is a musician that you've probably never heard of.  He sells out about 1/2 the shows that he plays and he plays north of 200 shows per year.  Oh, and the tickets to his shows, if you buy them in advance, are $12-$20 with no fees; they're only around $30 if you buy them the day of the event -- he does his best to not play Ticketmaster buildings if they can be avoided simply to save his fans from paying the fees.

You can buy all of his CDs (there are 4) for $36, meaning that you're paying $9 a CD, or you can get a CD and a t-shirt for $30.  He's also worked with Amazon to make downloads available for $8.99 and $7.99 on iTunes; his newest release is available on Amazon for the holidays for $6.99.

Smith lets you try before you buy -- you can download a number of tracks as MP3s directly from his site; pretty good sample across the albums.

It's refreshing to see a musician that's focused on just playing his music and makin sure that his fans can enjoy it.  I love seeing an artist that is organically growing his listener base, just like bands in the sixties and seventies used to -- this isn't the "new music business," this is the business getting back to its roots, one artist at a time.  Perhaps instead of suing their customers, the record companies should spend some of that lawsuit money on finding and supporting artists like Corey.

Oh, and he sounds really good -- sort of a mix between Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Chesney, and James Taylor.

Check him out -- pretty low cost of entry even if you don't like him.


P.S. -- Corey if you have people looking for stuff like this and you happen to read it, I'll go out on the road with you in a heartbeat because I believe that you'll be great. 

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Google Calendar Sync for BlackBerry


The title of the post accurately describes it, but if you go to on your BlackBerry, you can download a client that allows you sync your BlackBerry calendar with your GCal.  The only portion that's missing now is an over-the-air contact sync and Google will basically be providing all of the over-the-air DirectPush features.  If they really wanted to make it cooler, they would partner with BlackBerry to provide this functionality directly through a BIS server so that there was nothing to download on a client device. 


You can actually play with cell phone interfaces before buying at TryPhone.  If you're like me, just spending a few minutes in the store playing with a cell phone isn't enough time to see how all of the features work -- TryPhone puts up interactive images on their site of cell phones and their operating systems so that you can play around with features.  The number of phones currently listed is pretty slim, but they promise to be adding more phones shortly.

The site is also social, allowing users to post reviews and their experiences with the phones listed.  Quite frankly, I could see the features in this site being very useful as an add-in to Amazon or even a carrier sales site.




So I took the plunge and set up an account on Mint to try out the single-source money management site.  The process to get the data into Mint is as straightforward as your credit card company or bank allows it to be: ING Direct was probably the hardest, but all of those levels of security make me feel pretty good vs. simply entering a username and password for other banks.

Once Mint has connected and downloaded your account data, it presents interesting transaction histories and trends.  The system is not perfect, however, and requires some user intervention to tweak things.  For example, it downloaded payment data from my checking account that were actually electronic payments to my credit card, but came through with "Ross" as the description, which Mint classified as the department store and put into my retail purchase history.

Although it's not 100% perfect, it is a very useful tool and I'm definitely going to continue to use it.  I would like to see the ability to add in 401K, IRA, college savings, and mortgage accounts to get an overall picture of assets and liabilities, but my guess is that those items will be coming.

I did check out some of the offers that would either save me money and/or produce more revenue in terms of interest payments, but I'm not sure that I am going to make any changes before the first of the year.  It is interesting to know that there are online banks that are giving higher interest rates than ING and I will likely investigate switching to chase the higher rates. 


Saturday, December 08, 2007

CompUSA closing all stores


It's official: CompUSA is closing all 103 of its stores.  Like most, I've got some CompUSA horror stories, but I also have found some insane deals over the years -- I guess I'm a little sorry to see them go as the BestBuys and Circuit Citys of the world to not have the depth of equipment inventory that CompUSA carries.  At least there's a MicroCenter close to me in South Denver that can take care of my needs for more technical, less consumer-oriented items at the last minute.

Link -- CNN article 

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

AIM live in Gmail

It's not as seamless as chatting with AIM contacts through Google Chat, but I've verified that the ability to sign into AIM through Gmail is, indeed, live.  I wonder what I'm going to use Meebo for now.

aim in gmail


By the way: if you're like me and you've had Gmail open all day, just referesh the screen in your browser, click the "Options" button under "Chat", and you'll see the AIM sign-in option. 

Sonicare UV Sanitizer



So Bzzagent sent me the Sonicare UV Sanitizer to talk about and it's kind of an interesting little device.  Let me say that I've used a Sonicare toothbrush for years and have never been anything but happy with the the way the results feel and the feedback from my dentist (not just the feedback, but the lessening of scraping, etc. over the time I've used it).

The UV sanitizer uses and ultraviolet light to kill any bacteria that might be on your brush head.  Although it fits some other manufacturers' brush heads, the Sonicare head that I use fit inside it perfectly without the use of any adapters and there's a magnet on the bottom to hold the brush in place.

After having used the sanitizer for the last few days, I can't tell anything different than just let my brush air-dry.  Sure, I go through the routine of putting the brush int he container, hitting the button, and seeing the light come on, but there's nothing that's changed in my brushing experience that I am aware of.  However, my dentist charges $25 for a little laser treatment that supposedly kills bacteria in my mouth prior to a cleaning and I pay it every time, so investing $50 in a brush head sanitizer that does the same thing to a brush I put in my mouth every day doesn't seem too far out of line.

I probably wouldn't rush out and but the sanitizer, but if it came included with an upgraded Sonicare brush, I would use it.  Similarly, if there was a deal where I could purchase a number of brush heads and get the sanitizer as part of a package deal, I'd probably buy it and use it.  With the amount of travel that I do, I guess it is nice to have my brush stored inside an enclosed space rather than leaving it out in the air to attract dust, etc.

End result: I'll keep using it and would use it if it were another bell and whistle as part of some sort of kitted sales piece, but I'm not sure I would run out an buy it.

Link (Amazon) 

Things to think about when travleing and driving a rental car

broken window The first thing I do when I get into a rental car is put my bags in the back seat, which is usually where they stay until I get to my hotel; many people that I know do the same thing.  A couple of Sundays one of my friends was in town, driving a rental car, and we met in downtown Denver (LoDo) for dinner.  He parked his car under a streetlight, across the street from a well-lit bank, on the corner of a fairly major intersection, and while we were at dinner, someone smashed his back window and took off with his suitcase and laptop bag.

2 big lessons to be learned here:

  1. Put your stuff in the trunk of your rental car (or in the far back of a SUV and use the privacy screen if it has it).  No matter how safe it is where you park your car, you want to create a less attractive target; chances are good the thieves would have walked right on by had they not seen the luggage in the back seat.

  2. If your laptop bag is your life, take it with you.  My friend lost his laptop (secured with passwords), his backup memory stick (not secured), all of his chargers, his Blackberry (secured), his iPod, his camera, and his car and house keys.  I have to admit that I keep all of the same stuff in my bag and though I've considered putting a flash drive on my keychain, my keys always wind up inside the bag so that I don't lose them, so I would have been in the same situation.

Travel smart. 

Thanks to r3v || cls for the image.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Close a bag of chips without a clip

Someone sent this to me -- this would have saved a lot of black binder clips over the years (and a lot of stale chips, for that matter):

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Om Malik comments on Verizon opening it's network


Go read Om's post -- he's got some unique insights into the way that he sees things.  Opening up their network makes Verizon look a little bit more like companies that use the GSM standard, though they've taken it a step further by providing a testing bed to certify non-traditional equipment to run on their network.

I would think this move would be pretty easy to emulate; I assume that most of the carriers have testing facilities similar to Verizon's and could open them up to test all kinds of devices.

The first thing I thought about when I heard this news was the Amazon Kindle -- everything you download direct on the Kindle downloads over Sprint's EVDO network and Amazon presumably has some sort of per bit pricing on network usage.  What will be interesting is if Verizon introduces different pricing plans to allow people to really leverage their creativity to use the network.

Now I"m waiting for Shawn Conahan to blog about this: he always has interesting insights based on his relationship with the wireless market. 


30 interview questions you can't ask

. . . and different ways to pose the questions to get the answer without violating the law.

Good stuff.


AmEx My Wishlist went live today


I post about this every time it happens, but I still think it's just a cool promotion.

Follow the link below:


Thursday, November 15, 2007


Sportbrain makes pedometers -- not very interesting.  However, Sportbrain makes pedometers that link to their website to allow you to track the number of steps you make and do other cool things like join groups and participate in challenges to win prizes -- more interesting. 

virgin life care

Enter Virgin Life Care that has rebranded the Sportbrain web portal and put their branding on the pedometers.  Virgin Life Care re-packages the product for large companies that can start a wellness program that encourages employees to get active and provides rewards for staying active.  I have to imagine, though I don't know for sure, that there are tangible benefits in the way of discounts from health insurance carriers for opting in (and paying in) to a wellness program for all of your employees.  Even if there aren't active discounts, healthier employees generally have lower health care costs than those that are not active and healthy, so I would assume that there is some quantifying that can be done.

spectrumI contacted Virgin Life Care to provide some information to the company that I work for a couple of months ago, but have yet to hear back from them, so I can't really quote any of their projected savings figures back to you -- if I ever get contacted, I'll be happy to share.  One way to get involved with Virgin Life Care without being part of an affiliated company is to be a member of Spectrum Athletic Clubs -- they've re-branded the Virgin Life Care product (I think that's 3rd degree branding) as an up-sell to their membership program, which is unique in the health club world, though pretty easily duplicated if someone were to set their mind to it.

Due to the lack of response from Virgin, I decided to try out the Sportbrain myself.  One of the things that initially attracted me to the Virgin program and therefore the Sportbrain was the form factor of the pedometer itself.


What's nice about this pedometer as opposed to others is that it is designed to be worn on the belt/waistband and has a large display that is easy to read without detaching the pedometer.  Further, the pedometer can be comfortably worn inside the edge of a shoe and the display is big enough to view by looking down at the shoe.

While Sportbrain provides some social features on its site in the form of discussion boards, groups, etc. it would be nice to see them work on something like a Facebook widget; granted that wouldn't directly generate revenue for Sportbrain, but would likely result in additional hardware sales as friends wanted to engage in social competition with the number of steps.  For that matter, Sportbrain could even create a Facebook edition of the pedometer that automatically enables the widget data.  Just a thought.


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Buy Leopard at MicroCenter before 11/11/07 and save $40


Single computer version after rebate is $89.99 and the family version is $159.99 after rebate -- best deal in town.

Link -- Family version 

Link -- Single version 

Link -- rebate form 

Leopard blue-screened my PowerBook G4

Shit! I ran the installer and the machine hung on a blue screen for hours. Although some sites said to wait for 2-3 hours for it to resolve itself, I tried that and it totally didn't work.

I finally had to dig out the original install discs for the PowerBook and reinstall Panther. Doing some more searching, I found a command line hack that is supposed to resolve this issue, so I guess I'll try it tonight and see if that makes it work or not. I've held off on upgrading my G4 Mini as I'm a little gun-shy about upgrading the non-Core chipsets.

Stay tuned -- I'll update with full instructions if this works tonight.

leopard<-- I can see them on my MacBook Pro, but not yet on my Powerbook.

UPDATE: Ok, so I fixed this and here's how:

  • Inserted the Leopard DVD

  • Chose the customized install option and chose the option to archive the previous system

  • Ran the install

  • Went to the blue screen

  • Hit cmd+opt+esc a bunch of times, which finally brought up the force quite dialog

  • System was hung on the registration application (strange)

  • Once the force quite dialog came up, then the registration application started running, so I simply canceled the force quite dialog and everything worked fine

  • Got to the desktop, tested some stuff, and deleted the prior system

  • Ran software update and downloaded and updated everything

  • Restarted and checked stability

  • Trashed the old system

Good luck!

The Mini gets upgraded this evening.

Not listening to voicemail any more

I realized today that I've been using CallWave as a visual voicemail service for the past few months and haven't even looked back to switching to normal cellphone voicemail; the reason I relaized this was I observed one of my colleagues attempting to check his voicemail int he traditional manner of hitting a speed dial, entering his password, and navigating the voicemail tree.


You can liken the use of visual/e-mail-based voicemail to the paradigm change that people experience when they first use TiV: it entirely changes how you interact with a traditional service.  CallWave's voicemail translation service isn't great, but for the most part I can get the gist of the message without ever having to listen to it.  In addition, I like the fact that the caller ID data included with the e-mail from CallWave is more detailed; I only have a few people that actually block their caller ID when they call me, so it's nice to see the caller location (i.e., my dad in San Francisco blocks the caller ID on his cell phone, but CallWave tells me that "An Unknown Caller in San Francisco, CA" called, so I know it is him).

The OSX visual voicemail widget is pretty useful, though I try to be away from my computer enough that I really use the e-mail functionality a lot more than the widget.  I have CallWave send the e-mail with the WAV attachment to my Gmail account, which immediately gets pushed via IMAP to my Blackberry; the internal audio player on my Pearl handles the WAV file attachments with no problems.

CallWave is free during beta and I think that the visual voicemail and e-mail portion will remain free as I can only really see them trying to charge for the voicemail to text translation service (if they can make it much more accurate).  I recommend any sort of visual voicemail solution to anyone that uses an e-mail enabled cell phone with the capability to play WAV files.


Could Britney Spears look any more like handmade shit?

Look at this:


She used to be a brand by showing up in advertising and pictures -- you saw Britney and you bought into the Britney brand and way of life; it was worth a fortune.  Now she looks horrendous and she's just launched a new album, which I hope does not feature this picture on the cover.

Picture from The Superficial

Saturday, November 03, 2007

OpenSocial: revolution or evolution?


Facebook is number 1 in the social market, at least for now, and is the glaring missing social networking service from those that have joined Google's OpenSocial network.  Here's what I wonder: do all of the folks combined that now support OpenSocial, MySpace, Plaxo, etc. combined come close to being as big as Facebook?  My guess is that all of the OpenSocial participants combined still wind up being a very far second to number 1 -- this isn't based on anything except for my general experience about competition.  I would state that OpenSocial is evolutionary and reactionary based on competing with number 1 rather than being fully revolutionary; after all, isn't this exactly what Facebook did that was considered so revolutionary when they did it and no one else had?

Maybe I'm wrong, but then, why are you still interacting with me on Facebook in their walled garden?


The Gracenote for DVDs is . . .

. . . well, Gracenote.

In January, I was wondering who the Gracenote of video/DVDs would be and it turns out that Gracenote will be powering what will be called "VideoID-DVD."  This service will not only be available on the software side (ala iTunes), but also will be integrated into DVD and video players to provide comprehensive DVD video information.

This new system, built on the existing Gracenote platform should roll out some time in 2008.


The net/net on daylight savings time


So I was born in June during the "Spring Forward" portion of daylight savings time, which means that I do actually gain an hour of my "life time" every time the clocks get set back.  Strange to think about, I suppose, and perhaps balanced out by various moves along timezones that I've made throughout my life that may actually have a net effect of reducing my "life time".  Of course, this only makes sense if you actually keep track of your life by the time on the closest clock to you and not by the total number of hours (or minutes or seconds) that you are alive.

Not sure where I'm going with this, but if you take nothing else away: be sure to set your clocks back this evening so that you're well-prepared tomorrow (assuming that you live somewhere that this applies to you, of course)

Sundial picture from MaestroBen  

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Facebook is fast


So I finally created my Facebook profile and added some friends.  What's interesting is that everyone pays attention to Facebook in near-real-time; I got friend additions within minutes of sending the requests . . . from the same people that took days to respond to LinkedIn requests and have never responded to Plaxo requests.

Here's my take-away: if Facebook is important enough to important people (think C-Level executives) that they prioritize communications from Facebook to be important enough to instantaneously respond and react to, then I totally understand why Microsoft spent so much money to invest in it and why BlackBerry released an integrated Facebook app and why everyone is developing for Facebook.

Follow the link below -- if you're a reader, I'll be your friend.


Facebook logo graphic from AJC1  

Set up Gmail IMAP with BlackBerry BIS


If you use a BlackBerry and want to access your Gmail via IMAP, I found the instructions.  Follow the link below to the full instructions direct from Google (note that right now BIS will not auto-configure for IMAP access, so you have to follow the instructions until RIM upgrades BIS).


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

IMAP not yet active on Google Apps

google apps

Ok, so I lied -- I logged into my Google Apps Free account and IMAP is not active.  Total bummer as I've been waiting for this to happen so that I could turn my Google Apps account into my master e-mail account; I have to assume that they'll be turning on IMAP pretty quickly for Google Apps as it is definitely an enterprise-class feature that will increase their competitiveness with Exchange.


Gmail enables IMAP -- makes Gmail so much more useful

It's official: here's a screen capture from my settings this morning:

gmail impa

This makes Gmail and Google Apps so much more useful and is especially important for Google Apps Premiere as far as becoming a more robust enterprise client.

The link below is the Google Help page for IMAP configuration.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Take your travel organization problem and make it someone else's


Tripit is a service that aggregates all of your travel data and creates itineraries for you.  The service is quite simple: you forward any travel-related confirmation e-mails to Tripit and it extracts the data to create your detailed itinerary.  You can add mulitple source e-mail addresses to your account to allow you to forward from anywhere -- for example, all of my United confirmations go to my personal e-mail while most of my hotel confirmations go to my business e-mail.

There are some other cool features that Tripit utilizes that I find pretty cool:

  • Calendar Feeds.  Tripit publishes a feed that can be subscribed to in Google Calendar, iCal, Outlook 2007, etc.  You get to manage whether this feed can only be read by you or if you want to be able to share the feed with other authorized users; think about this in terms of assistants, etc.  Speaking of which, how much time does your assistant spend putting together detailed itineraries for you?

  • Web Information.  Links to Google Maps, SeatGuru, and all kinds of other conextually-relevant sites based on the itinerary information -- a lot of this is stuff that I look up independently anyway, so this is very useful to me.

  • Access.  The ability to access the itinerary information from anywhere with an internet connection is very useful.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Fake Steve Jobs post on Intercasting


This is too funny -- here's an excerpt:

Here I am on the balcony saying, “Let them eat cake for the low price
of $299,” and what happens? A fucking blogospheric revolt of customers
who were perfectly happy with their elitist touchscreen device they
were smugly using just a week before to demonstrate their consumer
electronic buying power and hipness. And all of a sudden I'm the
asshole? What gives? So then I offered a store credit so these bitches
could buy a bluetooth headset or some other sort of white plastic
accessory or whatever. That sort of shut them up, but I still had the
other lawsuit to deal with. This time, I was named personally along
with my company and AT&T for “price discrimination, underselling,
discrimination in rebates, deceptive actions, and other wrongdoings”
all because I lowered the price because I was trying to be a nice guy.
“Other wrongdoings”? Can you really sue someone for that? WTF? “Yeah,
so, I am suing Bob for just generally being an asshole. Gretchen in the
cube next to him totally agrees, so I think we have a strong case.”
Seriously. They might as well add "mischief and buggery" to their list
of asinine claims. Welcome to my world.

Go read the whole thing.


Picture from acaben.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Big Lou's Pizza in San Antonio

big lou'sWent to Big Lou's Pizza in San Antonio and have to say that it's pretty good.  As you can see in the picture to the left, they are holding the 37 inch; pizza, which, when I saw it last night, had to be carried by the waiter with both hands and be balanced on top of the guy's head; apparently it takes 2 people to actually make the thing.  Furthermore, there isn't a pizza box big enough to fit the 37 inch; pie, so it has to be eaten in-house as opposed to the popular 16 inch; and 20 inch; pies, which are available for take-out.

The dining area is very mom and pop with lots of old signs on the wall and the bar serves the traditional Texas-size 32oz draft beers if you're in the mood for that -- the bar area is actually rather small; most of the restaurant is a family-friendly seating area.

I had a 14" pizza with a couple of folks and it provided plenty of food for all of us at the reasonable price of around $13.00.  The main crust is good, has a little butter on it, and I believe that I detected a hint of garlic salt as well; the end crust is substantial and chewy with good flavor.

Big Lou's is certainly not on the main drag and you may even get a little hesitant about the area if you cruise up Ww White Road to get there, but take my word for it: it's worth the trip. 

Link -- Big Lou's Pizza via Google Maps 

Friday, October 12, 2007

Flu Shots

flu shotSo I recently got my anual flu shot -- I've gotten it a few times at the immediate care clinic up the road from my house and a couple of times at Costco, but regardless of the location, I don't like the shot for a few reasons:

  • I can feel every last drop of liquid that goes into my arm.

  • My arm is sore for at least a day after the shot.  Yes, I felx my muscles and all that, but it never seems to make a difference.

  • I usually get some sort of minor head cold-type feelings following the shot.

With the amount of travel that I do, the detractors above do far outwiegh the benefit -- I've done high volume travel without getting the shot and have been far more ill than the years that I have received it.

One thing to think about when deciding on a flu shot is the fact that the shots use a mercury-based preservative called thiomersal.  If you're getting the shot, or, perhaps more importantly, if you have a child getting a shot, you may want to read up on potential affects of thiomersal.  Some doctors have tied thiomersal to incidences of autism and one of my very good friends was able to actually reduce and nearly eliminate autism symptoms from his son through the culling of heavy metals from his bloodstream.   Check out the Wikipedia link below to get started.  Note that many vaccines, flu shots included, are available by request in thiomersal-free versions. 

Link -- thimerosal on Wikipedia 

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The clock ticks for the recording industry

From the official Nine Inch Nails blog and posted by Trent Reznor:

Hello everyone. I've waited a LONG time to be able to make the

following announcement: as of right now Nine Inch Nails is a totally

free agent, free of any recording contract with any label. I have

been under recording contracts for 18 years and have watched the

business radically mutate from one thing to something inherently very

different and it gives me great pleasure to be able to finally have a

direct relationship with the audience as I see fit and appropriate.

Look for some announcements in the near future regarding 2008.

Exciting times, indeed.


Tick tock . . .


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Updating the Blackberry Pearl

pearl Continuing on from my post yesterday, I finally gave up trying to upgrade my Pearl on my Mac with Parallels and just installed the desktop software and the update on a Windows machine, which worked perfectly.  I think the problem with using Parallels is the fact that the BlackBerry reboots multiple times during the update process and Parallels doesn't always reacquire it.

The 4.2 update for the Pearl is pretty cool, notably:

  • Updated font settings -- looks more like the Curve

  • Updated graphics generally -- looks and feels more like the newer models

  • Soft power off switch -- this has been missing since the device came out

  • Improved memory handling -- seems to be a lot more free memory, but they may also be due to the fact that I removed all of the non-English language and input support when I updated (I highly suggest doing this if you don't use it)

  • Java exception errors seem to be fixed -- I used to get them occassionally when accessing a contact by typing directly from the home screen

Haven't yet tried it with PocketMac to see if it resolved any of those issues.

Overall I guess I'm pretty happy with the upgrade.

Link -- carrier choice page for BlackBerry upgrades 

Lies of lawyers

lawyer bear

Guy Kawasaki put together a list of the top 16 lies of lawyers -- it's worth reading.  It's especially worth reading if you're a lawyer.

Here's the thing: the opposite of a lawyer is not a non-lawyer, rather it's being an extraordinarily good lawyer.  it's about not lying, it's about not cross-examining your friends and family when you're not at work, it's about not thinking about every conversation in billable increments, it's about doing the opposite of what makes lawyers the butt of jokes, it's about making sure that Guy Kawasaki doesn't have any materials for his list.  This stuff isn't easy; it much easier to simply be stereotypical rather than to be remarkable.  Maybe the place to start is to write a blog (if you can get over the potential liability implications and leave the 3 paragraph disclaimer off the top of it)

Link -- Guy Kawasaki 

Lawyer bear picture by Claire Dancer  

Push vs. Pull

tug of war I vividly remember being asked a question about push marketing vs. pull marketing in a college marketing class and getting the answer wrong; I wasn't paying attention, hadn't studied the material, and was talking to a classmate when I got called on. Unfortunately I don't remember the content of the question, but I didnt' actually agree that I was wrong, the teacher simply told me that I was because the push and pull rules were very clearly defined.

Here's the thing: the traditional world of push vs. pull has been flipped upside down. Seth Godin summarizes it this way:

RSS transforms blogs from pull to push. The web transforms TV from push to pull.

This isn't trivial. It changes everything about the way you market
what you market. I'd spend some time thinking about whether you push or
pull, about whether you can flip that, and about whether your posture
matches your message.

The new paradigm is about opting in. Chances are good that you are reading my blog because you opted into receiving it in your feed reader of choice every day: my content or knowing more or some other reason pulled you to my blog, but the choice you made to subscribe to it know pushes the content to you.

If you find yourself in a marketing class and you're not paying attention, you may wish to remember that what you're being taught about push and pull has very likely fundamentally shifted and the rules aren't so clear cut anymore.

Link -- Seth Godin

Tug of war picture by ~AJ


One of my favorite quotes on the subject:

Everyone has a choice.  It’s just that most people don’t have the guts to make the right one. 


Comes from a book called Flinx in Flux by Alan Dean Foster .

Picture by johnivara  

Building walls

great wallThose of you that have ever been involved with construction know that it is generally easier to demolish something than to build it -- much easier to take a sledgehammer to a wall and knock it down then to level the ground, set the bricks, and add the mortar.

It's interesting, then, that people are so good at building their own walls and aren't so good at tearing them down.  I'm not talking about the wall around your gated community or the fence between you or your neighbor, or the the drywall-covered studs in your house, but rather the emotional walls that all of us build for one reason or another.

We don't start out with walls around us, but things happen in our lives that cause us to carefully and exactingly build up emotional walls.  If you get burned by relationships too many times, for example, you might build a wall that makes it hard for you to let people get close to you.  In business, for example, if you get stabbed in the back enough times, you'll build a wall that acts to prevent people you work with from getting close enough to stab you in the back in the future.

Why is it so hard for us to tear down our emotional walls?  Because it takes us a long time to build them.  Because it's safe and comfortable and easier behind our walls.  Because it's easier to leave our walls up and avoid hard decisions by simply hiding behind our walls.

Please don't misunderstand: I think that some walls are important; they do protect us from things that might otherwise negatively impact us in ways that we might not be able to possibly conceive.  What I worry about, however, is that some people hiding behind walls that are so hard to tear down are missing out on amazing things.

So here's my advice: find your walls, admit that they exist, and figure out how you would tear them down (or at least put a door into it; lock and key is fine) for the right person. 

Great Wall picture from Steve Webel  

Why do you care so much?

tetons Ever had to answer that question?  I have.  There's not a perfect answer, but here's where I net out:

Caring is an easy way to measure the amount of passion that someone feels for something.  For example, the guy at the fast food restaurant that slops stuff together and delivers it to you cold and without a smile -- he doesn't have much passion for his job.  Compare that to the guy at the suit department at Nordstrom that follows up with a phone call and personal letter after every single purchase, and that calls to check in occasionally when he sees something you might like -- tons of passion for his job.

It's easy not to be passionate about things; being passionate takes work and commitment -- caring takes work and commitment.  I find that it's very easy to by passionate (and to care about) things that you love, which is why I always encourage anyone that cares to ask to do things that they love, to spend time with people that they love.

What does passion (and, for that matter, caring) really net out to be?  Emotional commitment.  Here's one of my favorite quotes from Tom Peters regarding emotional commitment: "People can smell emotional commitment (and absence thereof) from a mile away." (note that this is as important in your business life as it is in your personal life).

Emotional commitment = passion = caring


Ansel Adams picture from  

Tuesday, September 25, 2007



Ok, I think everyone's beaten AmazonMP3 to death -- some songs are $0.10 cheaper than iTunes, all tracks are DRM-free, the interface sucks compared to iTunes, etc.  Here's something that you can do for amusement, however: log into your Amazon account, go to , and click the "recommendations" link.  I'm not sure what sort of algorithm is determining choices, but given the fact that I've only really purchased consumer goods and lots of books, I guess I can't say that I'm totally surprised that they have no recommendations for me.

Did anyone else get any recommendations without purchasing anything?  I'm not sure I've ever purchased a CD from Amazon, so they wouldn't really have any data on previous music purchasing habits, but given the fact that the send me e-mails recommending strange crap all the time based on previous (mostly unrelated) purchases, I'm surprised they couldn't come up with anything for me.

Link -- AmazonMP3 

Upgrading your Blackberry with OSX: painful


In fact there doesn't seem to be a way to upgrade your Blackberry Operating System software with OSX unless you are running virtualization or BootCamp and can actually install the Blackberry Windows client.

If I'm wrong about this and there is a way to do this with OSX without using virtualization or BootCamp, someone please let me know.

Have trouble summarizing? Try haiku.

There are people that have trouble summarizing things: business plans, arguments, feelings, etc. -- I suggest that they try haiku. Haiku requires that you follow a strict structure that consists of the following:

5 syllables

7 syllables

5 syllables

Don't misunderstand my intention: I'm not trying to make you sound like Confucious by strictly adhering to the rules, rather it is the process of distillation that can make for strong summaries (putting a haiku at the top of an executive summary might not earn you too many points, while sending someone you love a haiku might earn you big points).

Often summaries

Are hardest to create

Without discipline

I like to use whiteboards to write down haikus as they can be easily erased, changed, and modified.

Wikipedia -- Haiku 

Thursday, September 13, 2007

What do you do if all your company e-mail is classified as spam?

spamEverything I get from eBay, the phising scams and the authentic e-mails all go into the spam folder in Gmail, so, as a consequence, I delete all of them.  It's interesting to hear companies talk about the number of qualified e-mail addresses they have from their users, but are those companies actually able to communicate with those users?

The number of users that you have e-mail addresses for means nothing if you can't communicate with them, even if they've opted in to let you communicate with them. 

Thanks to Grumbler %-| for the spam picture.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

"Oh, shit!" handles

Does it ever concern you to drive a car that has an "Oh, shit!" handle on the driver's side?  Personally, if I'm driving and in a situation where I might even consider using the handle, I definitely would need both hands on the wheel; similarly, if I'm riding as a passenger in such a situation, I want the driver's hands at 10 and 2.

hand at 10 and 2

Thanks to DefMo for the picture. 

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Windows XP Embedded on-screen keyboard


We've got some WebDT terminals that run Windows XP Embedded and one of the frustrations is the need to keep a keyboard plugged in to interact with some functions in our software.  It's especially frustrating because I see a soft keyboard come up during login, but there is no easy way to invoke the keyboard from the screen.

I did some digging an discovered that there is an Onscreen Keyboard application built into Windows XP, that can be accessed via the Run menu by typing "osk".  I simply created a shortcut on the desktop of the WebDT terminal, pointed it to "osk," and created the shortcut.  Simply tap the shortcut twice on the touchscreen, and the Onscreen Keyboard appears, allowing me to remove the wired keyboards from the terminals.  It does take a little practice to manipulate the keys, but I was flying after the third entry.

Link -- WebDT 500 series 

Monday, September 03, 2007

Labor Day

So Labor Day was initially created to celebrate trade and labor unions . . . what's it become now?  It almost seems like it's now the official end to summer; a time to barbecue, take a day off, etc.

I was going to go to my list of quotes and pull out something inspiring that someone else wrote and tie it back to Labor Day -- I actually went through all of my quotes and earmarked some that seem more than appropriate, and then I stopped.  If we're celebrating working (because it's unlikely that we're still celebrating labor unions), then I have just this to say:

Labor doing what you love.

Sometimes what you love doesn't pay what you think it's worth right off the bat.  Sometimes doing what you love is the opposite of what everyone thinks you should do.  Ultimately people that do what they love get the right kinds of rewards, they love waking up every morning and going to work (read "laboring"), which, in my limited experience, is worth much more than making a bunch of money and doing what you hate.

So, yes, I'm laboring today, but it's because I'm doing what I love to do. 

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Crocs now has clothes

The company that makes the shoes that everyone loves to hate has come up with a way to leverage their foam resin technology in clothing.  The foam resin material will be combined with natural fibers and apparently will be breathable, sweat resistant, UV resistant, chemical resistant, and  not typical Croc qualities -- the name of the material is Croslite rt.  Croslite material is already used in the footbeds of some Crocs, so it's not a revolutionary leap, but rather an evolutionary leap.  I'll have to see if they're showcasing any of it at the CUB Boulder game on the 15th.



Perfect Pushup

perfect pushup

I ordered a set of Perfect Pushup devices to try them out and have been fairly impressed.  The included exercises are pretty basic -- normal arm width pushups, extended arm width pushups, and hand close together pushups -- and the idea behind Perfect Pushup is to promote a natural rotation in the pushup motion to reduce or eliminate muscle strains and muscle damage.

The first time I tried the devices, I couldn't really feel that much of a difference between using the devices and doing regular pushups until I stood up and could feel how I had worked my muscles much more effectively than with the normal pushup motion.  I've been using the devices for the past few days and it seems like I can add 5 or more pushups to my reps on a daily basis.  I don't buy into the whole "train like a Navy Seal" or the turn into a professional bodybuilder in 30 days bullshit, but the product seems to work very well.

Unfortunately the devices are bigger than they look, so they do not travel well, but, with that said, they are supposed to be releasing a travel edition soon:

perfect pushup travel

Assuming that the travel edition works as well as the home edition and is as low-profile as it appears in the picture above, it may join the resistance bands that I travel with as part of my "travel gym."


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Warning: you will be dumber after having watched this

Miss Teen USA 2007:


Here's the link if the embeded doesn't work. 


If only she had ended with: "San Dimas High School football rules!" 

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Dim Sum for Sunday brunch

Maybe it's a coast thing -- growing up close enough to a large city with distinct ethnic centers that include a Chinatown; maybe it's my general addiction to potstickers and Chinese appetizers.  Probably it's a combination of both, but I've always been a huge fan of dim sum for Sunday brunch.

pork bao

If you don't know of a dim sum place in your town, you can check out CitySearch: just search for "dim sum" and you are likely to find some spots and reviews.  Traditional dim sum is served from carts that move throughout the restaurant.  In places like LA and San Francisco, the dining rooms resemble large hotel banquet facilities and the carts are constantly in motion; in smaller cities dim sum is sometimes only available on the weekends and the normal dining room is used.

I enjoy dim sum places that keep the items that are heavy on the oil in the kitchen and use the carts to distribute steamed and cold items; there are places that will actually finish potstickers and the like in portable fryer carts, but you wind up smelling like, well, a portable fryer cart when you leave.  Further, I enjoy dim sum places that have picture-based "decoders" of all the food available.  We went with some friends to a dim sum place in LA where the waiter was trying to serve us what sh termed "beef inside" -- turns out it was beef (read "cow") insides (read "intestines").

Most dim sum restaurants use a system of stamps to keep track of your consumption and generally different items are grouped into different price "buckets"; the cart servers and waiters all carry stamps and stamp the appropriate bucket each time you get a plate.  One dim sum place I used to go to in San Francisco simply color-coded the plates and counted the stack when you were done, but that does not seem to common around the country.

I do enjoy the dim sum with a Tsing Dao (it is actually pronounced "ching dao"), especially in those mornings where I'm recovering from the night before.  Traditional dim sum restaurants will include unlimited water and hot tea with dim sum service, but be careful with the tea if nothing indicates that it is bottomless.

In South Denver try the Palace Chinese Restaurant for dim sum on Saturdays starting at 11AM; if you get there right when the doors open, you can generally avoid the crunch.  I always recommend:

  • Potstickers

  • Shrimp dumplings (steamed; sometimes referred to as "shrimp shumai")

  • Pork shumai

  • Chive shrimp dumplings

  • Steamed pork bao

  • Shrimp rice crepes (these are called a multitude of things, but essentially consist of large, thin rice noodles wrapped around shrimp and covered in a light soy-based broth)

  • Foil wrapped chicken (unfortunately not available at the Palace, but a staple at dim sum places on the coasts)

Learn more about dim sum via the Wikipedia link below.


Friday, August 24, 2007

If you are a one-man business and want Blackberry service, it's free if you're running a server

BES express

Let me clarify the title a little bit: if you're a one-man show that happens to be running a Windows Server box with Exchange, RIM actually will give you Blackberry Enterprise Server Express edition that includes a single user seat at no charge.  Even better, you get full installation support from RIM as if you had spent big money on the product.

What would be interesting would be if the Blackberry server could connect to some sort of "light" version of Exchange that could run on Windows Home Server.


RIM makes a move that involves software, not a new device


It's called "Blackberry Home Server" and it seeks to give you access to files that you store at RIMs network operations center (NOC).  The user installs software on their computer and that software allows the user to access a file storage area set up at RIMs NOC -- think about being able to load up MP3s at home and access them via a server sync on your Blackberry and you'll begin to get the picture.

Although details are not complete, there are a few things that I want to comment on:

  • Software client required.  Really?  Just make it web-accessible and license or copy's little Java applet that lets you drag and drop files onto the server.

  • Storage space.  I'm guessing there's a cap and, therefore, probably a revenue model in there for buying additional storage.  Hopefully RIM will offer 1GB or more for free, but there's no mention made of storage size (yet).

  • Hooks into online PIMs.  Imagine if you could configure the RIM service to sync your contacts with Gmail and your calendar with Gcal over the air in real time, just like Blackberry Enterprise Server does with Exchange.  If you were an Outlook user, have the RIM service link up with Plaxo to sync everything in real time.  I suppose that RIM could develop a proprietary service, but I'm guessing that if they did an exclusive deal with Google or Yahoo!, the exclusive service would see a measurable jump in users and would be amazing functionality to products like Google Apps.  Note that nowhere does it say the RIM service won't support this, so it's entirely possible this functionality will exist out of the box.

I was going to post a screen grab that's been floating around with stories about Blackberry Home Server, but I looked at it hard and it's got a Roxio logo, so unless Roxio built this for RIM, I'm guessing that the screen grab is plain wrong.

Oh, and how long do you think it will take Apple to get .Mac fired up to perform similar functionality for the iPhone?

Link -- Globe and Mail

Wednesday, August 22, 2007



Ever looked for an open source alternative to MS Project?  Perhaps something with similar MS Project functionality for the Mac?  Search no longer -- OpenProj is a multi-platform, open source alternative to MS Project.  Yes, that means it is free.

I'm sold.