Tag - mistakes

Funniest press release ever?

As my colleague Jolie O’Dell said, it’s a “vibrating buttplug that makes you poop?”

Vibrant Conducts Pilot Trial with Vibrating Capsule for Chronic Constipated Patients

Petach Tikva, Israel, September 11, 2012. Vibrant Ltd. today announced that it is conducting a pilot trial of the company’s anti-constipation vibrating capsule. The clinical trial is taking place at two Israeli hospitals among patients with chronic idiopathic constipationFirst results of the trial will be reported at the 20th United European Gastroenterology Week, to be held in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, October 20-24, 2012.

“First indications show signs of positive impact and we are awaiting the trial’s completion,” said Dr. Laurent Choppe, Managing Partner at Cukierman & Co. Life Sciences.

The mechanically operated capsule is a breakthrough treatment for constipated patients. It meets the highest safety standards and uses biocompatible materials.

“By using no chemicals, Vibrant’s treatment concept is a novel approach for people who suffer from constipation. Market need consists of about 8-10% of the world’s population,” said Lior Ben-Tsur, Vibrant Chief Executive Officer.

Vibrant is currently raising funds from private investors to complete a financing round that will enable the company to complete a multi-center clinical study and prepare for market launch.

Vibrant constipation relief technology is based on the effect of the capsule’s vibrations on the wall of the large intestine, consequently inducing peristaltic activity and generating spontaneous additional bowel movement. The easy-to-swallow capsule is controlled through algorithms, predefined by Vibrant R&D and gastroenterology advisers.

The capsule is activated by a base unit that transfers the predefined algorithm’s data into the capsule, before it is swallowed. The capsule operates inside the large intestine and is washed out of the body with the bowel movement, leaving no chemicals in the body.

The company plans to complete the pivotal clinical trial by mid-2013 and obtain CE mark.

How not to pitch a journalist, method #37

I get 50 million pitches. One that starts like this is DOA:

Huawei, a leading global information and communications technology (ICT) solutions provider, today unveiled the Huawei MU736, the world’s first WWAN module that is fully compliant with the Next Generation Form Factor (NGFF) standard.

Fortunately I know what WAN is, but the second paragraph gets even worse:

The NGFF standard enables a transition from Mini-PCIe Cards to a smaller form factor module in size, volume, and system design flexibility. The MU736 NGFF module is based on Intel’s industry leading XMM™ 6260 HSPA+ modem solution, supporting penta-band operation (B1/B2/B4/B5/B8) for worldwide network coverage, low power consumption, Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), and major carrier certifications, enabling easier and more flexible design and integration into end devices. In addition, the MU736 supports all NGFF features to optimize performance, power consumption, and usability.

Roundfile!

In which I follow Steve Jobs' advice and follow my heart …

A couple of days ago I posted this video on Facebook. It’s about fear, and not letting fear drive your decisions:

Four months ago, Yellow Pages Group shut down Canpages, where I had been working to reinvent local search in Canada. That work got flushed down the toilet, and our entire team was shown the door, which started months of searching for the next thing.

Initially, it seemed to be going super-well, but leads dried up, and it got more challenging. Then a particularly juicy opportunity with a major corporation opened up, and I went through four rounds of interviews, only to get dumped at the last round because I didn’t “have enough big-company experience.” That was a bad moment.

My wife Teresa and I have never had any real financial worries; we’ve been frugal and done well, thank God. But emotionally it was taking a toll. So I refocused on my own consulting business, which I had let lapse for a few years. And that took off.

For the past month and a half, I’ve been working insane hours. I was giving 20 hours a week to Click4Time, a startup focused on the online appointment-booking industry, I was increasingly writing for VentureBeat (one of the top tech/biz/startup blogs on the internet), I was working to get a coworking space, SwitchCube, off the ground, and I was working on a variety of contracts with partners like CGA-Canada and the Trust Tour. From the stresses of the job search I moved to the stresses of too many demands on my time, and the stresses of not really being sure where I should be and what I should be doing. And the stresses of still looking for the real actual job that I dreamed was out there.

It was easily 60-80 hours a week, and it was too much. Something had to give. And that something was almost me.

However, after a lot of soul-searching, that something turned out to be Click4Time. The startup is in a hot space and there’s a lot of potential, but there’s a ton of work to be done on the product itself. As acting director of online marketing, I was spending most of my time actually working on the basics of the company website and core product. Last Sunday I pretty much made up my mind to “fire the client.” But I didn’t act on it until Tuesday, when I told Lance, the CEO (who was great about it).

And it was a very tough decision. It was guaranteed money – not tons, but some, and 5000 shares a month, which are currently being sold for $1 apiece. In addition, it was the guarantee of a 6-figure salary if and when the company closed a significant investment – which seems to be getting closer, by the way.

That was the fear part: the fear of losing out … the fear of not having income … the fear of a certain lack of status. That’s why the video above spoke to me so deeply.

I’m a Christian. I believe in God. And I finally agreed, kicking and screaming, to take a leap of faith. Because my passion was VentureBeat.

It’s a funny thing. I always wanted to be a journalist when I was a kid. And I thought I would be one while I was going through university too. Then work came as a staff writer, then marketer, then technologist, then minor-league executive and management. And the dream faded, I guess. But never really died.

The work I was doing for VentureBeat was the best part of my day. At night I was writing, and it wasn’t work, in a sense. It was fun. It was enjoyable. So I decided to follow Steve Jobs’s advice: to follow my heart. To stay hungry. To stay foolish. To have faith that everything would work out if I just did the thing that felt right, even if it was financially stupid, even insane.

So I did it. I quit Click4Time. And I mentally committed to VentureBeat. And everything changed.

This week has been just unbelievably amazing, with good news packed on top of good news:

  • I got great news – my stories had done better than I thought they had and I had a bigger traffic bonus ($$$) than I expected.
  • I got great feedback – super encouraging words from Heather Kelly, senior editor, and Dylan Tweney, executive editor, and others at VentureBeat – that I was doing well. As Heather put it: “kicking ass and taking names!”
  • I very serendipitously did a couple stories that hit excellent traffic numbers
  • I was – even as a freelancer – the top writer on the site on Wednesday. (Of course, a bunch of our all-stars were on vacation or not posting that day. Still!)
  • I picked up an amazing story based on a Shark Tank episode that Teresa, my wife, had PVRed. It was a great feature story about a guy who created a startup based on drawing cats and scored an investment from Mark Cuban.
  • I got an email from Mark Cuban (!) adding comments to that story.
  • I got more great feedback from VentureBeat staffers, and I had two stories featured at the same time on the home page. And I had the main feature story yesterday morning. And all three of my latest posts have been selected as Editors Picks!!!
  • Then Dylan, who brought me on at VentureBeat as a freelancer in the first place, added me to the writers’ email list and the shared doc which is all the stories that VentureBeat staffers are working on … bringing me more into the fold.
  • And there was some more good news as well, which I can’t share yet.

In other words, a complete avalanche of good news. Unexpected, undeserved, unexplained. And a lot of clarity and faith and evidence that this is the right direction, that this is where I should be going, that this is what I should be doing. I haven’t had that in a long time, it feels like.

I’m super-thankful, and super-humbled.

And I remember Steve Jobs’ words at the Stanford Commencement speech in 2005. In somewhat random order, here are a few bits that especially impacted me:

You’ve got to find what you love
The only way to be truly satisfied is to do great work
And the only way to do great work is to do what you love

Remembering you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid thinking you have something to lose.

You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

I’m following! And I’m selling out for what I know I should be doing.

Sony Wonderbook: I'm predicting a flop, based purely on the advertising

If truth in advertising is too much to ask, how about just advertising the product?

I saw on VentureBeat this morning that Sony has signed J.K. Rowling to write the first game/book for PlayStation’s augmented reality peripheral, Wonderbook.

Intrigued (although I am, alas, no Harry Potter fan) I checked out the story, and watched the promotion videos that Sony created to promote the new product launch, eager to see how the Wonderbook works and what it does. Only to be vastly unimpressed … not with the videos themselves, but with the fact that they show virtually nothing of the actual product.

Here’s one:

What does this product actually look like? What does it really do? I mean, there’s wonderful soft mystical music, magical flourishes, and impressive CG effects. But no actual footage of the real product. The funniest part in the narration? About 50 seconds in:

Melodramatic english narrator: ” … must be seen to be believed.”

Caveat immediately follows: “Images simulated. Actual game images appear on your television …”

If they must be seen to be believed, I don’t currently believe … mostly because I haven’t seen. So show me, Sony! Show the actual product in actual use with actual images.

The second promo vid is just as bad, if not worse. There are not going to be cool little cartoon characters popping out of the product, hovering in mid-air, talking to kids.

This is a set-up for disappointment. Sony has learned nothing from Apple, which focuses on making incredible products, and then simply demonstrates them in its ads in a low-key, nonchalant manner. (Which, by the way, makes them much more credible, much more believable.) Sony’s ads are nothing but hype.

Based solely on the ads, I think Wonderbook is going to be a major flop.

iCal + iCloud + Google Calendar = iBroken

I’ve been getting strange messages from iCal for the past several months. Friends, colleagues, or partners have been sending me meeting invites from Google Calendar, and iCal has been completely barfing on them.

“The server responded with an error” … followed by an iCloud location, and the happy note that said location “is not a location that supports this request.” And then I have the happy choice of either Going Offline (which means my calendars won’t sync) or Reverting to Server (which means my new calendar event will disappear).

Some choice.

This has been a problem since Lion, and it’s time for Apple to fix it. For now, there seems to be one “solution.” Ignore the email with the calendar invite on your Mac, and accept the invite on your iPhone. It’s cheesy at best, and hardly indicative of the elegance that is supposed to accompany a truly Mac experience … but it does have the virtue of working.

I just wish it wasn’t necessary.

Very odd: Outlook @ Facebook

Occasionally when I’m writing a story for VentureBeat, I’ll email Facebook PR, asking them for comment. Today when I did so, I got a bit of a surprise.

You always get the automated email first:

The real answer will come later, when a Facebook PR rep has a chance to look at your question, and decides if it’s worthy of response.

For some odd reason, I decided to click on the NewsRoom link you can see above. This is always a waste of time, because nothing really new is up there – certainly not a statement about anything that is current, topical, and just happening now.

But I clicked, and oddly enough, this is where I came to:

Not the newsroom, that’s for sure. This is a log-in page for the Outlook web app for Microsoft Exchange. And note: thefacebook.com.

Very, very odd!

Epic Google fail: clicking through to a nonexistent On24 session

Whoa. Saw this today while talking to a colleague about some training I’ll be providing via On24, the online webinar/training/meeting software.

Google links to a nonexistent session on On24 … rendering an error when you click through to the site.

Here’s what happens:

Imagine this happening to your site. Extremely double-plus uncool.

Getting MobileMe errors on your Mac? Complete your move to iCloud – here's how

I’ve been getting odd errors in iPhoto lately – MobileMe alerts saying they didn’t recognize my password. Something like: “MobileMe didn’t recognize the stored password for …”

That’s fairly odd, since I’ve been using Apple’s new iCloud service for months, and haven’t knowingly used any part of the old MobileMe service for months, if not years. Finally I got annoyed enough to check it out (it usually takes more than a few alerts to stir me up enough to do something about it) and fix the situation. If you’re getting similar warnings, here’s what to do …

Complete your move to iCloud
You probably are already using iCloud, but you may not have completed the move. That’s because there’s still a MobileMe preference pan in your System Preferences (who knew) that may still be active. Or, at least be trying to be active:

MobileMe is deprecated (fancy for cancelled) so that’s the cause of your errors. But that handy little Move to iCloud button at the bottom of the screen is your savior. Click that, and you’re solving your problem.

Now you’re cooking with gas
When you click that button, you’re going to be taken to an online interface to move all your MobileMe data over to iCloud. If you’re like me and barely used MobileMe for anything at all, it’s a fast and simple process.

When finished, you’ll see something like this:

Sign in (and check “keep me signed in” if you wish) and you’re all set. Cloudy goodishness is yours for free (well at least 5 gigabytes of it).

Simple, easy, and no more Mobile Me error messages!

Meetup: this is how NOT to treat paying clients

Earlier this week I set up a Meetup group for coworkers in BC’s Fraser Valley. It contained some information about coworking, some hints on the kinds of people who might enjoy coworking, and a link to our current landing page for coworking in Abbotsford.

Today I was informed that the meetup group had been terminated:

Needless to say, I was totally flabbergasted. Our meetup group was for people who wanted to help start a coworking community in the valley. It wasn’t about porn, and we weren’t selling anything. So why were we being closed? How were we not in compliance?

Well, the answer was simple.

For more information you can review the Terms of Service

This is one of those cases where something that is simple is not easy. Here are the Meetup’s terms of service – to the right. As you can tell … there are a lot of terms. And a lot of words. And a long, long, long web page full of reasons why we were not in compliance.

But which one was applicable?

After a lot of reading, I think it was this one: 5.3(b)(vii). Yeah, that’s number 5, section 3, subsection (b), sub-subsection (vii). Which reads under a heading titled “Grounds for removal, sanction, and/or suspension:”

[Posting any material] that uses the Platform primarily as a lead generator or listing service for another website;

Well. Perhaps the link to our coworking signup page violates that stipulation.

Here’s how you should treat that scenario, Meetup
Here’s a wild, crazy idea. I know it’s out of left field, so brace yourself. Be seated. Hold on to your hat.

How about: you send me an email, explain that stipulation, and ask me to remove it?

I know it’s ground-breaking and earth-shattering … but do you think that might be better than arbitrarily booting a paying customer with no reasonable explanation?

No, I didn’t read your terms of service
I’m sorry, but there are 14 pages of TOS, totalling 8319 words. And I have a life.

So no, I didn’t read your TOS. And I don’t think your TOS is reasonable or customer-friendly.

So please …
So I’m asking … please reinstate the group. I’ll remove the offending link (if indeed that is the problem).

How to cancel recurring Paypal payments and subscriptions

Noticed a drain on your Paypal account lately? Wondering why there’s always money missing?

I recently checked my Paypal account and noticed a subscription and recurring payment for a service that I no longer needed. But cancelling is not terribly simple in the Paypal interface. In fact, you’d almost assume they’ve built the user interface to discourage discovery and awareness of all your recurring payments. Or, at least, made it hard to find and stop subscriptions.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to finding and cancelling Paypal subscriptions:

  1. Log into Paypal
    Then click on the History link in your account overview:
    Find all your recent transactions
    Select the first radio button and pick Last Three Months, which will show you enough history to know for sure which payments are recurring.

  2. Select Subscriptions
    Select the Subscriptions link above the activity listings. Now you should see all your subscriptions and recurring charges in Paypal.

  3. Click the Active button
    While you might reasonably be expecting and looking for a cancel button (!!!) click the Active button:

  4. Scroll down and click Cancel Subscription
    Yes, it’s right at the very bottom of the page …

  5. One more step … confirm the click
    No, you’re not quite finished, now confirm that you want to cancel the Paypal subscription and stop all recurring charges by clicking the Cancel Subscription button on the confirmation page …

Now you’re finished – cancelling your Paypal recurring charges in six easy steps 🙂

Theoretically this should be a lot simpler: Paypal should simply provide a link right on your account for all recurring charges so you don’t have to search for them. And … providing a clear “Cancel” link instead of a somewhat cryptic “Active” button.

Microsoft & Skype: the great cosmic joke … and an $8.5B investment in yesterday

It has become increasingly clear to me over the past few weeks that Microsoft has made an astonishingly bad decision in buying Skype. But that’s that the worst part.

The worst part is that it is now completely obvious that the top people at Microsoft, Steve Balmer among them, have no clue about the future of technology.

Here’s the deal: all value is moving to the cloud.

Look at the top valued companies today. Google. Facebook. All the hot new startups that are building value. Zynga. LinkedIn.

They are cloud companies.

They live in the cloud. They take us into the cloud. They work on the cloud. They make the cloud meaningful.

And what about Apple? Apple, which is now trending toward a more than 2X valuation over Microsoft?

Don’t they make a lot of stuff? Things? Devices.

The answer is yes, of course. But first of all, those devices are on-ramps to the cloud. No-one has made the cloud relevant to average people (who don’t have a clue what the cloud is) than Apple. Mobile apps virtually didn’t exist before iPhone. Mobile data is dominated by iOS (and now Android). iPad is a perfect vehicle for cruising the virtual road.


Value started in hardware (IBM etc)
Value moved to software (Microsoft etc)
Value is now moving to the cloud (web 2.0 and 3.0 companies)

The cloud is not magical. It includes hardware. And it includes software. Of course. But it is the opposite of installable software.

One guess what Skype is …

Buying Skype is a great business decision … in terms of technology, in terms of clients, in terms of integration into core products.

But all of these tactical reasons that say YES are vastly outweighed by the massive strategic reason that says that Skype, even though it’s P2P, even though it has added a small cloud-ish component via Facebook … is fundamentally old-fashioned software.

Which makes Microsoft’s $8.5 billion dollars an investment in yesterday. Which follows so many of their other recent investment decisions. Which signals yet another death-knell (did you need one more) for Microsoft’s domination in the world of technology.

Microsoft, quite simply, is v2.0.

The world is moving forward 3.0 is upon us. Google+ is showing the way. 4.0 will come. And a company that is optimized for surviving and thriving in a 2.0 world is de-optimized for surviving in a 3.0 world.

It’s raining in Seattle.

Searching For Small Businesses, Coming Up Frustrated

Let’s take my local pizza place. There’s a good one in Newport that I always order from, but I can never remember their number. So like many people, I search for it. But recently when I did this, I had a terrible experience. When I clicked through to the site, there was nothing about pizza. Instead, a pop-up window appeared telling me I had a Windows virus. That’s hard to get, given I use a Mac. Someone, somehow, managed to get control of the pizza place’s web site, the same domain that’s listed on all their boxes.

What’s going on here? How does a local pizza place not realize this is happening? Does anyone from the company ever go to their own site? Trying to help, I even called and explained that something really bad was happening with the site. I was told the owner would call back. I didn’t think he would, nor did he.

via Searching For Small Businesses, Coming Up Frustrated.

YAOU (Yet another Office update)

Last week I bought and installed Office 2008 on our new iMac … and immediately had a 400+ MB download to update it. Tonight I started up PowerPoint … and am immediately confronted with a 158 MB to update it again.

I can only assume that Microsoft screwed up something in the initial update horribly, and needs to rectify its error with yet another massive update.

Not cool!

To date I have spent more time updating Office 2008 than actually using it.

Amazon marketplace: sorry, your purchase has been sold

Yesterday I bought 27 books from Amazon – mostly from the marketplace. Why not? The book are almost new, and they’re easily half off or less.Today I got a notice that a book I bought via the marketplace was previously sold.amazonNo biggie – I just went back to Amazon, chose the next available seller for the book, and bought it again.Here’s the deal: when Amazon sends out that kind of email, they should include a link to re-purchase. That would probably increase their sales from people whose purchases are no longer available.And would make an already very usable store even more so.

Google has much better …

. . . Excel help than Excel.Every single time I need to find out how to do something in Excel, I try to figure it out from Excel help. Search usually gets me nowhere, but sometimes gives me a clue what I should actually be searching on. But the help I usually get is not very helpful.So I turn to Google, and usually on the first page of results, using the search terms that make sense to me (an admitted Excel weenie, and proud of it) I find the answer.Isn’t that bass-ackwards? Shouldn’t the best source of information about your product come from your company?

More music industry madness

So, Universal wants to invent a new model for music sales:

Universal Music Group, the world’s biggest record label, is looking to mobile hardware makers to foot the bill for a free music subscription service for buyers of a certain mobile phone or music player, The Telegraph reported Saturday.

Think. What does a model where you buy a piece of music-playing equipment and then the music itself is free remind you of? Oh yes, radio!Hmm … so they’re trying to reinvent radio here? Nice “new” model here.I wonder what other parts of the radio experince they’ll try to replicate? The lousy music choice? The annoying DJs? Maybe. But there’s another piece of the radio universe that I predict will come along with the “free” music, if this model actually makes it out the door.Advertising.That’s the only way there could possibly be enough revenue in this ridiculous model to support a continual flow of new music. But isn’t the 20 minutes an hour of radio advertising one of the reasons we bought iPods in the first place?No worries. As Dr Phil would say: this dog won’t hunt.PS:Why are the labels so fixated on hardware revenues? They are constantly complaining about the money Apple makes on the iPod … but they never complained before about not getting revenue from radios and stereo equipment. If only they would fixate on being best at what they’re supposed to do: find and promote great music.

Second life just like first life

Well, I’m unhappy to report that Second Life is just as big a pain in the you-know-what as my first life.I’ve had an account for years, but haven’t used it much. However, now I’m doing a paper for my master’s program in educational technology, and thought I’d get back in for some hands-on research.Only problem? Bugs, bugs, bugs.After downloading and installing a fresh client right from the Second Life servers, I’m told during start up that I need the latest version. Clicking the download update button crashes with an unknown error (twice) … so now I’m re-downloading Second Life … all 90 MBs of it.Fun, fun, fun. If this wasn’t for a good cause …

Updates, ETEC, CrowdTrust, Life

In case you’re wondering what’s going on with this blog, I’m currently taking 2 courses for my Master of Educational Technology program at the University of British Columbia.

Plus doing some home reno, plus I have 3 kids, plus my wife seems to feel that somehow I ought to spend some time with her (odd, that), plus I have a full-time job (money: it’s a love/hate relationship).

So some things suffer.In any case, for my ETEC 522 course “Ventures in Learning Technology” we’re reviewing educational technology ventures: start-up businesses. Since one of the profs for the course is behind a social knowledge storage/management start-up called CrowdTrust, we’re putting most of our thoughts and comments into that system. (Here are mine.)

One thing I wanted to share here is a memo I wrote concerning a company’s pitch for VC money.

Hopefully I haven’t been too savage.

Customer service

Perhaps a no-return policy on guns and ammo is not the best policy

It’s Walmart’s policy, clearly visible on their website and in their stores, that all sales of guns and ammunition are final. One San Diego man didn’t like that policy so he tried to return the ammunition in another way. By firing it in the Walmart parking lot.

Seriously … be extra-nice to these customers.

Monster security fiasco – literally

Job warehouse Monster has had an ongoing security nightmare, with hackers infiltrating the database and pilfering usernames, passwords, and email addresses with which to launch phishing attacks.The worst part? Monster doesn’t know how bad the problem is! From an email sent to me this morning (note the bolded portion):

As you may be aware, the Monster resume database was recently the target of malicious activity that involved the illegal downloading of information such as names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses for some of our job seekers with resumes posted on Monster sites. Monster responded by conducting a comprehensive review of internal processes and procedures, and notified those job seekers that their contact records had been downloaded illegally.The Company has determined that this was not an isolated incident. Despite ongoing analysis, the scope of this activity is impossible to pinpoint. Monster believes illegally downloaded contact information may be used to lure job seekers into opening a “phishing” email that attempts to acquire sensitive financial information. This has been the case in similar attacks on other websites.

Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

Pay more, get less

These are the options if you want an Education Week subscription:education week bad deal

As you’ll quickly see, you actually pay more to get the online version than the print+online versions. Probably has a lot to do with advertising revenue and subscription counts.

Major rip-off … and it isn’t doing trees any favors either.

iWork needs Appleworks import

Dan Knight of Low End Mac fame has a well-researched article on the abandoned Apple office suite AppleWorks, which used to be ClarisWorks.Most of it I’m taking with a bit of a grain of salt, since I know Dan is a keep-my-old-computers-til-they-rot kinda guy, but he makes a number of good points, and one very important one:

However, iWork isn’t AppleWorks. It’s not an integrated word processor, database, spreadsheet, paint, and drawing program. It’s much more like Microsoft Office, where Word and Excel are separate programs that can work together.And while iWork can open PowerPoint, Word, and Excel files, for some reason Apple has ignored compatibility with its own AppleWorks program, which is used by millions upon millions of Mac users on both the Classic Mac OS and OS X.I know Steve Jobs has a general disdain for things not created on his watch, and he’s allowed AppleWorks to languish, but if he wants Mac users to migrate to new hardware and iWork, he needs to make it easy to convert .cwk files into iWork documents and spreadsheets

An import function … that would be useful for people who have documents in AppleWorks. I know I have a few on my home computer.

Verisign is hounding me …

Verisign is driving me nuts emailing me and phoning me. Just to make it perfectly clear:

  • I don’t want your PDF white papers on internet security.
  • I don’t want your SSL certificates.
  • I don’t want your emails.
  • I especially don’t want your phone calls from “sales executives.”

Hrm … now that’s off my chest I feel marginally better. Until the next call starting off with “Hello, this is $salesguy calling from Verisign. How are you?”Worse than I was before you called.

WordPress admin panel: why is Akismet not under Comments?

wpI guess the title says it all … Akismet, which is a comment spam identification and deletion tool, is under the active menu, Manage, not under Comments.Odd.On a related note, I’m getting something like 5000 comment spam attempts a week, of which about 1 makes it through onto the site.Two things that implies:

  1. Akismet is stunningly amazingly incredibly good. There are no words.
  2. A huge amount of web traffic is spambots looking for places to implant their evil input. I wonder what percentage? 1%? 3%?
  3. Bonus implication: the success rate for comment spam is approaching zero … for blog/forum owners who know about Akismet.

Busted by the Honda police?

A colleague of mine just bought a Honda.

He needed to pick it up tout de suite but the Honda sales rep wanted to slow him down. Apparently the car needed to be detailed yet.

When my buddy declined the detail in favor of getting the car sooner, the rep said he couldn’t do that. Asked why, he replied “the law of Honda.” Apparently it’s Honda law that every car gets detailed before leaving the lot.

Sounds like good customer service … and good customer service matters … BUT …

The customer gets to decide what service means!. . .. . .

(That, and the fact that he was told the car was en route from a different location while it was actually sitting on the dealership’s lot all day somewhat soured my friend’s new car buzz.)

The $30,000 toothbrush

Mike Wagner has a great post (and follow-up) on how poor service, breaking promises, and essentially not living up to their brand cost a hotel $30,000 … all for a missing toothbrush.

Here’s the story:
He was in town to deliver a seminar, had forgotten his toothbrush, tried to take the hotel up on their stated in-room offer of providing replacement items for things that guests have forgotten, and was invited to purchase an over-priced toothbrush at the gift shop.

Here’s the result:

A seminar participant shared with the group, “I’m negotiating a contract for more than $30,000 with that hotel later this week. We bring our most important customers from around the country here throughout the year. That’s the hotel where we were planning to have them stay. Now maybe we won’t. Their sales staff has been great to work with, but if that’s the way they deliver on their brand…”

Geography in America

Is it any wonder that Americans hardly know where continental Europe is? Check out this excerpt from a AP story on Congress passing a law authorizing Canadian drug imports into the US:

Supporters of the idea say it would save consumers great sums by allowing them to purchase U.S.-made medications from other countries where they often sell for much lower prices than in the U.S. Under current law, consumers are permitted to buy a 90-day supply in Canada. Overseas, drugs can cost two-thirds less than they do in the United States, where prices for brand-name drugs are among the highest in the world. In many industrialized countries, prices are lower because they are either controlled or partially controlled by government regulation.

(Emphasis added.)

How to get a genuine Moleskine notebook

Sometimes I can’t believe the lengths people will go to in order to save money. Michael Shannon has about 2500 words and perhaps 25 illustrations on 5 pages teaching you how to create your own Moleskine-like notebook.I think I can do it simpler and cheaper.Here’s his steps:

Page 1.

  • Materials Needed
  • Tools Needed
  • Step 1. Cut paper
  • Step 2. Fold paper
  • Step 3. Collate folios
  • Step 4. Mark spine
  • Step 5. Punch holes

Page 2.

  • Step 6. Sew signatures

Page 3.

  • Step 7. Glue signatures

Page 4.

  • Step 8. Glue endpapers & cover

Page 5.

  • Enhancements

Here’s my steps:

  1. Go to Amazon
  2. Buy Moleskine notebook
  3. Wait a couple of days

My way: $9 plus a couple of bucks shipping. His way: hours of effort, some money for materials, massive PITA factor.I rest my case.