Tag - mistakes

for the BS-in-marketing category …

I’m checking out some online resources for education and came across this:

For nearly 70 years, ProQuest has offered superior information services in electronic, microform, and print-on-demand formats to university libraries.

Interesting.

Obviously, this is a programmer’s use of the inclusive AND – as long as one part of the conjunction is true, it all evaluates to true. POD and electronic have certainly not been around for “nearly 70 years.”

Bah, humbug.

When business is evil …

When the business you’re involved in is evil, you know it’s time to get out and start doing something else. Otherwise you will inevitably become evil as well. There are plenty of examples of that in the US health care system, which Sicko is highlighting right now.

Here’s just one of them …

Palmer still owes more than $7,000 for an eight-hour hospital visit that involved, by his estimate, only about 15 minutes of actual care.

That’s after getting more than $4K reduced for the “trauma activation charge,” which is a page to doctors and nurses that are presumably either already at the hospital or on call.

15 minutes of care? $7000?

His room was $2000. His CT scans were $3500. Sucks to be him, obviously … according to the administrator.

“It’s unfortunate that he’s in the situation he’s in,” Nazeeri-Simmons said. “But what is an individual hospital to do? Are we supposed to eat the costs?”

She know’s it’s wrong … but does she take any personal responsibility?

“It’s not us,” she said. “It’s the whole system, and the system is broken. We need to look closely at making changes and at how we can deliver care in a rational way.”

Rational health care? Here’s a couple of clues:

The United States spent an average of $6,102 per person on health care in 2004 (the latest year for which figures are available), according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Canada spent $3,165 per person, France $3,159, Australia $3,120 and Britain a mere $2,508. At the same time, life expectancy in the United States was lower than in each of these other countries and infant mortality was higher.

I live in Canada, and the health care system is not always perfect. You usually have to wait … I guess sort of like Palmer.

But though I’ve had multiple broken bones, several car accidents, and various other incidents requiring stitches etc., I’ve never had to fear that an accident or an illness would wipe me out financially.

Spending an average of $6K/person and only actually covering about half of the people? That’s evil. I’m a pretty conservative guy, but there can be no better argument against the free enterprise system than American health care.

Theft, larceny, and even murder: that’s what it is.

New iLife: better camcorder compatibility

Camcorder compatibility is a major problem for iMovie users these days. If you haven’t heard or seen that, check out the comments on this post.

Many, many, many camcorders available right now, especially the new hard drive-based versions, will not work with iMovie. They record in low-quality MPEG-2, which combines the audio and video into one datastream. iMovie only works with DV camcorders or hard disk camcorders that record to MPEG-4, a higher-quality format that keeps the audio and video separate – enabling future editing.

There are workarounds (see above link) but they are time-consuming, costly, and not foolproof.

There are rumors that iLife is ready for an upgrade soon, perhaps even before the next version of Mac OS X comes out. It had better include an updated iMovie with built-in capability to handle MPEG-2, because it’s getting hard to find camcorders that are Mac-compatible.

Frankly, it’s hard to believe this is a problem that Apple has not yet addressed: imagine if iPhoto only worked with 5-6 cameras.

Apple needs to fix this quickly … or at the very least, provide an actual, specific list – with model numbers – of camcorders that work with Mac OS X and iMovie, instead of this no-help help page.

Umm … which one?

In a discussion on the burning question of “who Bill Gates really is,” we get the following brilliant insight:

“Bill Gates is the proxy for how Microsoft will be remembered. First and foremost, he’s a businessman. He’s not an inventor or technologist, per se, and I don’t think he would claim to be. He’s fundamentally a geek.”
Greg Papadopoulos, CTO of Sun Microsystems

Count me confused.

eWeek and iPhone: fear and loathing?

Is 3 negative articles in one day a coincidence?

Holy mother, what on earth is going on here?

Could it be an extremely Windows-centric empire of analysts and business media is absolutely terrified that their comfortable bread-and-butter Windows hegemony is dissolving in front of their eyes?

I guess Linux was bad enough – it wasn’t in the MSCE textbook but at least it was technical, and needed user handholding, and ensuring lots of expensive tech support and high-end analysis was required.

But Macintosh! Is iPhone at last the trojan horse that will take Apple into the enterprise, just like iPod has in the home? The very prospect has Windows weenies running scared:

After all, the horde carrying the forthcoming Apple phone won’t be barbarians; rather, the very folks doing the work, and worse, some may well be the boss.

IT departments like devices like Blackberry’s with centralized command and control. They hate things they don’t bring in, that they haven’t first subdued with strong corporate chains. And they fear Apples’ recent success.

Their fear is both justified and unjustified. On the one hand, corporations don’t change their systems and applications overnight. On the other hand, a real alternative is slowly taking shape.

However things go, this outpour of vitriol and epidemic of trembling knees is pathetic.

Clipblast: well that sucked

If Scoble says it’s good, it’s usually worth a look. So when Scoble says that ClipBlast is a “killer video search engine”, I thought I’d check it out.

One thing I’ve been looking for lately is video footage of Alexander Ovechkin’s lying-on-the-ice backhander goal from last year. We’re talking ice-hockey, in case you’re wondering.

Here’s what ClipBlast gives me:

clipblast

That contrasts rather poorly with plain old Google:

google video search

The first two results are direct links to the video; the other results are directly related.

Not very “killer” to me.

[tags] scoble, video, search, clipblast, google, hockey, john koetsier [/tags]

Most ridiculous opt-out page ever

This has got to be the most ridiculous opt-out page in the history of permission marketing:

netapp opt-out form

First name, last name, job role, department, industry, company name, address, city, state/province, zip/postal code, country, phone, fax, email, and comments.

Unbelievable. Email address and UNSUBSCRIBE is the max expected.

Better yet is a link in the email that includes your email address and automatically takes you to a page that processes the unsubscription and lets you know.

I hated MySpace; now I hate Facebook

So I got an account on Facebook a couple of weeks ago.

It’s protection – in the personal SEO era, you need to lock up accounts on popular services with your actual name. Amazingly enough, I’m John Koetsier on Facebook.

After being on the service for all of about 25 days, I’ve already formed some conclusions:

  1. Facebook is the anti-MySpace
  2. MySpace is gaudy and busy; Facebook is boring
  3. MySpace is full of ads; haven’t seen many on Facebook
  4. MySpace is web 1.0; Facebook is web 1.0 too. Only difference: it’s designers weren’t on LSD
    (I know, I know Facebook is doing all kinds of API deals, I know, I know, it’s a platform now … blah, blah, blah. I’m talking about the visual feel, the scent you get from using it. It’s all been done so, so, so many times, and it’s all very 1.0)

  5. MySpace was programmed by Hammy, the hyperactive squirrel in Over the Hedge, and few things work as advertised; Facebook actually works, which is good, but still does stupid stuff.

Case in point: check out this screenshot from the homepage of Facebook …
facebook.png

Facebook wants me to give it access to my online email so that it can check if any people that I sent messages to and from are also on Facebook … it’s an auto-friend feature.

Cool? Uncool.

I don’t have a Hotmail address. Or a Yahoo, MSN, AOL address. I don’t know too many self-respecting technically-proficient over-20 people do. (I have a Gmail account, but that’s mostly for subscriptions and possibly spammy stuff.)

So the feature is useless to me. But can I get rid of it? Can I edit it? Can I dismiss it? No, no, no.

So every visit to the boring uninspired homepage of Facebook is punctuated by the uselessness to me of the largest element on the page.

And that’s just annoying.

I hate ringtones

Ringtones rank among the most annoying of modern inconveniences.

Unfortunately, most people apparently need to hear that it is not actually cool to have the Star Wars theme echoing tinnily but noisily from your pocket. And the Hallelujah chorus really was not conceived as a notification that Bob is caling to inquire whether or not your toenails need trimming this evening.

Would it really, really, really be so bad if a phone just actually sounded like a … phone?

Bah. Humbug.

Now I’ll dismount, etc.

Savages with machine guns

OK, so I called my father a savage today. Trust me, it’s not as bad as it sounds.

He called with a computer problem: he’s trying to install some application on his PC. Problem: he’s completely clueless about computers. So I’m doing the familiar dance … what happened, what does it look like, what do you seen on your screen.

Seems to me that the application might actually be installed – he just doesn’t know it.

So I ask him to search in his Programs folder. Doesn’t ring a bell. Open up his computer’s hard drive. No response. Doubleclick the icon where all his files are. Nope.

That’s when I called him a savage. Actually it was more of an analogy. I compared him to a savage with a machine gun … as likely to be looking down the barrel when pulling the trigger as aiming anywhere else.

Not knowing anything about how computers work – even the slightest bit – is becoming more and more of a handicap.

[tags] computers, user friendly, clueless, savage, machine gun, john koetsier [/tags]

Alternatives, Inc.

I think I just saw one of the worst company names in history. OK, after ACME.

A truck passed me today on my usual lunch hour walk. On the side, in hand-lettered type, was the name of the company: Alternative Cartage, Inc.

I can just imagine how this plays in marketing.

“Um, yes, we’re Alternative Cartage Inc., and we do want your business, sir. The one thing I can tell you about us is that we’re definitely different than the other guys. See, they’re them and we’re us. We’re an alternative.”

Not the best alternative, not the only alternative, not even a better alternative, but I guess, yes, they are an alternative, just like everyone else.

I do give this business owner a modicum of credit, however. At least he didn’t name it Agressive Trucking along with the other 20 bozos who had that bright idea.

Or maybe he saw them in the Yellow Pages and figured that being #21 was worse than having an even lousier business name.

[tags] business, name, naming, branding, john koetsier [/tags]

This website hates people

hater.pngCheck out this screen from Seeking Alpha.

Here’s what I see when I read this:

  1. You don’t belong to the club
  2. If you do but you’re a bit of a doze, go log in now
  3. If you want to belong to the club, you have to do this first
  4. Here’s why you should care

Sorry, I already don’t care because the way you put your message together is rude. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Have a comments form that anyone can type into
  2. Accept the comment, with email address and optional URL, and if the commenter does not have an account, ask if he/she wants to create one … with the email address and URL already provided
  3. If yes, send and email to that address
  4. When the commenter clicks on a link in that email …
    • create an account
    • publish the comment

Simple, friendly, easy, natural, and quick.

[tags] usability, forms, comments, john koetsier, seeking alpha [/tags]

Why I hate it when people say “let’s ask our clients”

Yesterday I was pitching a totally innovative never-been-done-before six-figure customer support, training, and marketing initiative for a multi-ten-figure product line with extremely high gross margin to the board of an industry-leading company when someone piped up and said the same thing every scared decision-phobic exec always says when presented with a new idea:

Maybe we should do a focus group or something – ask our customers if this is something they would like.

So I was happy to see James Dyson’s quote at the Independent:

“You can’t go out and do market research to try to solve these problems about what to do next because usually, or very often, you’re doing the opposite of what market research would tell you. You can’t base a new project two years ahead on current market trends and what users are thinking at the moment. That sounds very arrogant. But it isn’t arrogance. You can’t go and ask your customers to be your inventors. That’s your job.”

Bloody right.

There’s a time and a place for listening to clients … but usually it’s not when you’re inventing some new product or service. People want what they know. They literally can’t want what they don’t know.

Innovation often comes from the edges – and sometimes that’s clients – but unless you’re incredibly smart at reading between the lines, focus groups usually tell you what you already know.

(In case you’re wondering, we’re reconvening next week to get to yes – or no.)

[tags] dyson, innovation, business, strategy, john koetsier [/tags]

Microsoft & Yahoo: dumb and dumber

So Microsoft and Yahoo! are in takeover/merger talks. It’s getting major coverage. Is this a good idea?

Buying Yahoo! would be Microsoft’s dumbest move ever. Focus dilution, merge headaches, corporate culture clashes … the list goes on and one. Frankly, if I was Google or any other Microsoft competitor, I would be praying that they do buy Yahoo!

Microsoft’s niche – OK, ecosystem – is not the web. That’s not what they do best. They’re desktop and server. That’s where they win. It’s not clear to me that buying Yahoo! makes them any more web-native.

Microsoft would effectively be granting competitors a 6-month headstart – at least – while they tie themselves and Yahoo! up in interminable negotiations, strategizing, and what/who stays/goes triage.

Finally, Microsoft’s ace in the hole – one of them, anyways – is their massive cash hoard. That loot buys them 5-6 mulligans in just about any business sector they’re in. If they use up all or a significant part of their cash, they become that much more vulnerable to the consequences of screwing up.

And screwing up is easy to do when you take your eye off your ball.

1 rule to improving your productivity

Just saw Steve Pavlina’s 33 Rules to Boost Your Productivity. These types of posts seem to be very popular on social bookmarking sites like Digg and Reddit.

Here’s one of my own: stop reading about how to be more productive. Get busy doing what you need to do.

That’s a little tongue-in-cheek, but this isn’t: 33 rules to boost productivity is a sick joke. Why? No-one can possibly implement more than maybe 2-3 at any given time.

So reading 33 and thinking each one makes a lot of sense (true) and would be very helpful (true) is actually going to lead to a sort of paradox-of-choice paralysis.

Which is the worst productivity tip of all.

[tags] tips, productivity, steve pavlina, john koetsier [/tags]

Entrepreneurs vs. wanna-bes

I get Perry Marshall’s AdWords/marketing email newsletters. Today’s had a section on entrepreneurs versus wanna-bes that I thought was really, really good:

  1. Wanna-be’s obsess about ideas. Entrepreneurs obsess about implementation.
  2. Wanna-be’s want more web traffic. Enrepreneurs focus on sales conversion.
  3. Wanna-be’s focus on positive thinking. Entrepreneurs plan for multiple contingencies.
  4. Wanna-be’s want to get on TV and get “famous.” Entrepreneurs build their list.
  5. Wanna-be’s seek a perfect plan. Entrepreneurs execute and adjust the plan later.
  6. Wanna-be’s wait for their lucky break. Entrepreneurs engineer four, five, six plans and execute them in tandem, wagering that at least one plan will get traction.
  7. Wanna-be’s fear looking stupid in front of their friends. Entrepreneurs willingly risk making fools of themselves, knowing that long-term success is a good trade for short-term loss of dignity.
  8. Wanna-be’s shield their precious ideas from harsh reality, postponing the verdict of success or failure until ‘someday.’ Entrepreneurs expose their ideas to cold reality as soon as reasonably possible.
  9. Wanna-be’s put off practicing basketball until they’ve got Air Jordans. Entrepreneurs practice barefoot behind the garage.
  10. Wanna-be’s believe what they’re told, believe their own assumptions. Entrepreneurs do original research and determine what paths have been already trod.
  11. Wanna-be’s believe they can do anything. Entrepreneurs do what they’re gifted for and delegate the rest.
  12. Wanna-be’s think about the world in terms of COULD and SHOULD. Entrepreneurs think in terms of IS and CAN BE.

To be honest, it’s a great checklist to check up on my own behavior. Am I acting like an entrepreneur or a wanna-be?

[tags] perrry marshall, adwords, entrepreneur, john koetsier [/tags]

Sony camcorder & Mac OS X: not happy together?

Yesterday I bought a new camcorder – the Sony DCR-SR82 with a 60 GB hard drive. Today I shot some video, and tonight I tried to hook it up to my Mac and play in iMovie HD.

No such luck.

  1. Sony wants you to use their proprietary software … which is Windows only
  2. Sony provides a sort of a dock for this camera, which you are then supposed to connect to your computer – there’s no real USB output on this camera
  3. iMovie HD doesn’t recognize that a camcorder is attached, and won’t import any video from it
  4. The Mac finder can see the camera via disk mode, and I can see my movie clips in QuickTime format … but I can’t open them. They’re “muxed,” meaning that the audio and video are mixed together and QuickTime can’t open them
  5. Well, actually QuickTime can open them … if I spring for a $20 plug-in to QuickTime. Hrm … do I look stupid? Shouldn’t QuickTime just come with this needed component in the first time? Isn’t this the zen of Mac we’re talking about here … stuff just works?
  6. But even if QuickTime can open them after I pay extortion, iMovie HD will still not like me very much … iMovie HD won’t import, play, or edit muxed files

This is just wrong. OK, there’s only one course of action:

  1. Return crappy camcorder
  2. Buy new camcorder with better outputs and Mac compatibility
  3. Write nasty blog post about this hassle (check!)

To be completely frank, being on a Mac should mean that I never have to think of or even hear something so esoteric as “muxed video.” That’s what Apple engineers are paid for.

To be completely george, Sony is smoking something powerful if they think I’m going to change my computer to work with their camera. Not bloody likely.

They just lost a customer.

[tags] apple, mac os x, mac, sony, DCR-SR82, incompatible, muxed, iMovie, john koetsier [/tags]

Adlinks will ruin the web

fake-links.pngIf every page starts to look like this, we’re in big, big trouble.

All those links are fake links – ad links … what I’m going to call adlinks. This particular bit on nonsense is featured on /Film’s Indiana Jones story.

They don’t actually go anywhere that you might think they do, they’re only ads, and they’re either selling something at best barely related to what you’re reading about, or they’re just a way to benefit from adwords arbitrage (insert whatever pay-per-click program you wish, even Microsoft’s).

Plus, they’re too dense, meaning that the value of each individual link is less. And finally, since they bear no relationship to the story/post, they actually inhibit communication.

fake-links2.jpgWhen you mouse over them, they look like this.

Links are the roads and the currency of the web. When they don’t do what they’re supposed to do, we’re putting potholes in our roads. We’re inflating the currency.

And we’re pissing in our own well.

[tags] adlinks, ads, links, advertising, online, john koetsier [/tags]

Accidentally making love not war

I love fortuitous mispellings. Someone at Trendhunter, a social trend-following site, posted the following:

the future solider will be equipped with “intelligent amour, which remains light and flexible until it senses an approaching bullet, then tenses to become bulletproof.”

I like that – intelligent amour. This is ironic on so many levels.

[tags] funny, soldier, armor, amour, mispelling, john koetsier [/tags]

Boycott old-skewl media: anything w/o comments

Just because it’s online doesn’t mean it’s new media. I’m declaring war on all old-school media that just happens to be online. It’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

What am I talking about? Articles like this one on Apple and music by Joshua Chaffin of the Financial Times. Here’s the paragraph that has me frosted:

The record industry, in particular, has long been frustrated that Apple has reaped most of the profits of the burgeoning online music market through sales of its iPod player. By contrast, they have earned only modest royalties from digital music sales because most of the songs on iPods and other devices result from illegal download.

The problem with the above paragraph is obvious to anyone with half a brain and a reasonable background in technology. Chaffin has uncritically accepted a music industry lie and printed it as fact. He’s participating in propaganda. He’s a lousy, lousy journalist.

Worse, he’s calling me a thief … along with tens of millions of other iPod owners. That burns me up, since I’m very careful to only put music on my iPod that I’ve obtained legally. Some of it is from the iTunes Music Store, most of it is from my CD collection. So in effect, Chaffin is slandering me.

But that’s not why I’m declaring an old-skewl media boycott.

Every piece of writing has things others will disagree with. That’s OK. But online, in new media, it’s now a reasonable expectation that readers can comment on a story. Not on the Financial Times site.

I’m declaring the boycott because Chaffin and the Financial Post don’t allow comments. In other words, I can’t post a comment disputing his facts and assertions. In the new media web 2.0 online world, this is simply unacceptable. It’s outrageous and we need to start recognizing that fact.

Having comments ability ought to be a minimum standard requirement on any website in 2007.

Frankly, this would be a major positive step for FP and writers like Chaffin – purely from their perspective. Why? They’d get a lot smarter, a lot quicker. None of us is as smart as all of us … and comments, properly implemented, can unleash some of that collective intelligence. Errors get pointed out and fixed quickly – which really is in the media organization’s best long-term interests.

So: no more old-skewl media.

And any site that doesn’t blur the traditional publisher/audience role is old-skewl.

Goodbye and good riddance.

[tags] media, ugc, ugm, audience, publisher, web2.0, comments, discussion, financial post, joshua chaffin, apple, music, user-generated content, john koetsier [/tags]

Dreamhost on DMCA (versus MediaTemple)

Having had way too much experience with the negative aspects of the DMCA lately, I was pleasantly surprised to find an article at Plagiarism Today referencing DreamHost’s blog post on Dealing with a DMCA Crook.

I love the fact that DreamHost goes out of its way to be clear that the DMCA can be used with no legal basis:

While the DMCA does offer some major benefits to both copyright holders and web hosts like DreamHost – legal immunity, woo-hoo! – it’s not always used as a force for good. Occasionally, unscrupulous types (and I’m looking at you, Church of Scientology!) will attempt to use the DMCA as a cudgel to take down sites that they don’t like, even when they are clearly in the legal right under copyright law.

Even better is the fact that DreamHost stands up to those attempts:

Liability issues aside, we’re not about to knowingly help someone silence valid criticism by going along with false or overly broad DMCA Notifications.

I’m contrasting that with the treatment I recently received at the hands of my current host, MediaTemple.

There was an obviously non-infringing incident, a person who did not want criticism, and a DMCA takedown. Without doing even the least amount of fact-checking, MediaTemple told me to take down the content within 24 hours, or they’d do it for me.

When I talked to an individual at MediaTemple, I was told that this was corporate policy so that they were not at risk. That’s the legal immunity part.

The bigger risk, though, is that free speech suffers when merely alleging that an incident has occurred is the full and complete basis for censorship … at least in my opinion.

While I can understand MediaTemple not wanting to accept any legal risk whatsoever, I wholeheartedly applaud DreamHost for shouldering their part of the burden of the ongoing fight to keep freedom free.

Kudos to DreamHost!

[tags] dreamhost, mediatemple, dmca, legal, risk, censorship, john koetsier [/tags]

Acrobat is a real space hog

One thing that has always irritated me about Adobe’s Acrobat applications is that they are real space hogs. Upon launch, they immediately expand to fill all available space:

acrobat-space-hog.jpg

Note, that’s all available space – as wide as your monitor will allow. Not, as one might expect, a reasonable size that is commensurate with the size of the document that you’re opening and viewing. To me, this makes Acrobat one on the long list of rude applications.

Annoying!

[tags] acrobat, space hog, PDF, john koetsier [/tags]

Snargleblast!

password.pngI am posting this to keep from throwing my laptop across the room.

A project management tool we use called Infowit is set up to force users to choose a new password every couple of months. OK, I can somewhat understand that – there’s a desire for security.

(Never mind the fact that when people have to change their passwords, they’re more likely to write them down so that they remember them, resulting in less security. On the other hand, if people change jobs, eventually they’re locked out of a corporation’s systems by default.)

The annoying thing is that the system will not allow me to choose any normal (i.e., human readable) password. It has to contain characters such as ~!#$%^&*()_+ etc. etc.

The triply annoying thing is that the auto-generated new password the system offers CONTAINS NONE OF THOSE CHARACTERS … and thus, tragi-comically, fails to work.

Sometimes, you can only shake your head wearily (and publish a nasty blog post about some stupid company’s stupidity.)

[tags] infowit, password, security, stupidity, funny, annoying, john koetsier [/tags]

OK, how much?

People persist in thinking I am Judge Glenda Hatchett, including Delores Clark Washington, who has left her phone number and email address for me to contact her so that I can deliver a speech.

Sigh.

Perhaps I should just give up, show up, and collect the check. On the other hand, I thought I had dealt with this already:

[tags] funny, odd, crazy, stupid, judge glenda hatchett, john koetsier [/tags]