Saturday, January 31, 2009

Conference week -- light blogging

I've been an at conference in LA since last Tuesday and role into a conference in Palm Springs that goes into next Thursday.  Sorry for the light blogging, but I promise I've got some good stuff stored up.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


“Go ahead and fail. But fail with wit, fail with grace, fail with style. A mediocre failure is as insufferable as a mediocre success. Embrace failure. Seek it out. Learn to love it.”
-- author Tom Robbins (from: Tom Peters, The Tom Peters Seminar)

Watch this video for further inspiration:


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Someone heard my rant about review copies

I haven't had a chance to review it, but Catherine Wilson read my rant about review copies of books not be distributed in e-book (i.e., Kindle-compatible) format and e-mailed me a copy of her book, When Women Were Warriors. Not only did she send me the e-book, but she actually encouraged me to e-mail it around to other people. Further, the book she sent is listed for only $0.99 in the Kindle Store, which is a pretty cool marketing technique considering it's the first of a trilogy.

Note that Catherine is the author of the book; she didn't have to hire anyone to do any marketing for her, she just sent me an e-mail. You can also read the first book in its entirety on her website, just click here.

It's just not that hard folks.

Obama's Chronograph Watch

President Obama was given a Jorg Gray chronograph watch by the Secret Service and has been seen wearing the watch frequently, especially when his sleeves are rolled up. The Secret Service version of the watch is very hard to get and available only in the Secret Service Store, which is not publicly accessible. However, the watch is available as an imprintable item from folks that sell those sorts of things; the catch is that you have to buy at least 12 of them at around $180+ each.

Here's what I've done: I've gone ahead and made the purchase of some of the watches with no logo on them. -- they're the same as you see in the picture, but with no Secret Service Star, just a black face. Further, I've created a little site where you can buy the watch in single quantities from me directly. I'm charging $200.00 per watch plus reasonable shipping and handling charges. This is not really a money-making venture for me, I'm just a watch guy that was trying to figure out how to get one of these watches for myself and decided to help out anyone else that wanted to do the same.

This is a nice looking watch and fairly affordable. There are other sites out there that are charging in excess of $300.00 for these things and are putting in expected delivery horizon of 3-7 weeks (about the amount of time that it takes to get them printed, which means that they are taking your money and using it to fund the purchase prior to shipping the watch to you).

I should have the watches in-hand in a few days, so feel free to use the e-mail address on my site to get on the waiting list -- no deposit required.

If you're interested, please visit my site.

Obama Watch Shop

Friday, January 16, 2009

The sillyness of books for review

I get a fair number of books sent to me to review and post about on my blog -- easily 60% of them never get a review as I only review the ones that I enjoy and that I think that those of you that read my blog may enjoy as well. What's recently cracked me up about the process is that I will always add this line to my acceptance of a review copy: "Kindle-compatible electronic versions to review are always appreciated." Not one publisher or author has ever sent me an electronic copy for review.

There are so many things that are silly about not providing an electronic review copy:
  • No shipping cost -- send it to me via e-mail.
  • Easy direct quotations -- I can clip a page and copy the text directly on to my blog.
  • No production cost -- even the simple review copies printed on bound 8.5x11 paper that I receive have a cost to them.
  • Easily transportable for me -- I'm much more likely to review the book more quickly as I hate to carry my Kindle and a book; when I travel, only the Kindle comes with me, so no book reviews when I travel.
  • It's green -- electronic versions have little to no real impact on the environment.
  • It makes it easy to sell the final version -- if you can figure out how to package it in the review stage to be read on the Kindle, you'll be that much closer to being able to sell the final version on the Kindle store when you release the final version.
Why not send electronic review copies? I would guess that the biggest issue might be a concern that the electronic version could show up on bittorrent sites. Sure, that could happen, but you either trust your reviewer or you don't -- have me sign something with a financial penalty if I'm caught (it would be really easy to simply change a paragraph in each digital copy to digitally "watermark" each digital version to the reviewers that it was distributed to). Further, there's not a real market or even a good mechanism for e-book file sharing; market penetration of the e-book devices just isn't here yet. Finally, even if I did decide to share the electronic version, if it's a good book, the people reading it are likely to recommend it and, again, most people don't have e-book readers, so that mechanism is likely to increase overall print sales -- it's not like there's anything keeping a reviewer from photocopying and/or otherwise passing around a printed review copy, even though I typically will not.

Food for thought if you're a publisher or a writer or a marketing company that rep's a publisher. I'd be willing to be that the first marketing company for a publisher that pushes this strategy will have a great story to pitch.

Picture from librarianmer

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mint prevents fraud

I use Mint as my financial account aggregator and got an e-mail from them regarding documented fraud from companies named "Adele" and "GFDL" -- these companies have been hitting customer accounts for relatively small amounts in the $0.10 to $0.25 range. Due to the fact that I give Mint access to aggregate my financial data, they specifically gave me an alert as they noticed that one of these companies had charged one of my accounts.

When I logged into Mint this morning, I searched for "Adele" and got no results, so I searched for "GFDL" and got a result of a $0.11 charge in November. Drilling into the detail, I saw that it had come through as a check card purchase, which means that my check card number had been compromised back in November. I immediately called my bank and they opened a fraud inquiry and canceled my check card with the promise of a new one in 10 days or less. Although it was a relatively small amount of money that was charged against my account, it is entirely possible that it was a test transaction to verify that they had my data correct and that they were potentially looking to steal more and larger funds in the future.

There are privacy advocates that warn against financial aggregator services such as Mint, but I've always been happy with the service and am now even more happy with the service after this experience -- my bank didn't catch it, my financial aggregator did. Furthermore, due to the nature of how Mint imports my data, I can easily search across all of my financial accounts as opposed to having to log into each account individually and attempt to search.

I highly recommend checking your own accounts for charges from these 2 companies (it's easy if you use Mint).

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


That's the key combo that you need to insert a carriage return within a cell in Excel for OS X. (Excel 2004 & Excel 2008) Similar to the alt+enter function for Windows.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Thoughts for the New Year

I was going to make a whole list, but I think that this quote from Seth Godin sums everything up pretty well:

Your customers and employees and investors will remember how you treated them when times were tough, when they needed a break, when a little support meant everything.

No one in particular will remember how you acted during boom times.

Happy New Year

Picture from nigham