Saturday, January 31, 2009

Time for #superbowlads year 2

Jeremiah Owyang is at it again:

Last year, I kicked off a twitter game that let folks rate superbowl ads....

We found that many enjoyed making the game interactive, by watching and critiquing the ads (more fun that just consuming) and many non-football fans were able to get into the spirit of it, (some were dragged to the superbowl parties).

But this year, Owyang won't participate himself:

I’ll be on a plane flying from Maui to SF during the superbowl (not really a loss for me) so I won’t be there to enjoy the festivities....

However, the event will still go on, with other people (such as Brian Solis) running the show.

To get your opinions heard, just be sure to include the hashtag #superbowlads in your Super Bowl advertisement-related tweets. And participate in the SocialToo survey (new for this year). Louis Gray has more details on the SocialToo survey.

I participated in the tweet-a-thon last year (although it was conducted differently), and plan to do so again this year.

Frankly, this will be an interesting year to watch how people react to the Super Bowl ads. Because of the downturn in the economy, NBC has had a difficult time selling ads in the last few months. (Silicon Alley Insider wrote about this in November.) Will the companies who did buy the ads feel that it was worth it? Will the companies that didn't buy the ads (e.g. the Big Three automakers) feel like they missed out?


A Slash, but not the Guns N'Roses kind

I wasn't on the tubes Saturday morning, so I missed the excitement that occurred early this morning Pacific time, during which...well, I'll let Marissa Mayer, VP, Search Products & User Experience for Google, explain what happened:

If you did a Google search between 6:30 a.m. PST and 7:25 a.m. PST this morning, you likely saw that the message "This site may harm your computer" accompanied each and every search result.

The first thing that Google did? It apologized.

This was clearly an error, and we are very sorry for the inconvenience caused to our users.

This apology, incidentally, was posted at 9:02 a.m. Some could argue that Google should have posted something more quickly, but on the other hand it's possible that they could have responded much more slowly, especially on a weekend. I'm not going to quibble over a 97 minute response time.

The second thing that Google did is explain what happened. Here's part of the explanation:

What happened? Very simply, human error....We maintain a list of [bad] sites through both manual and automated methods. We work with a non-profit called to come up with criteria for maintaining this list, and to provide simple processes for webmasters to remove their site from the list.

We periodically update that list and released one such update to the site this morning. Unfortunately (and here's the human error), the URL of '/' was mistakenly checked in as a value to the file and '/' expands to all URLs.

Mayer then explained how Google detected and fixed the problem, and apologized again.

The third thing that Google did was...well, this:

We will carefully investigate this incident and put more robust file checks in place to prevent it from happening again.

The fourth thing that Google did was to update the post as more information became available.

Update at 10:29 am PST: This post was revised as more precise information became available....

The quotes above are from the updated version of the post, and it's possible that additional updates could occur after I post my own post, so it's probably best to check the original post.

Incidentally, if you follow Google's link to the StopBadware post, you find out why Google had to update its original information. Times in the StopBadware post are Eastern time, definitely not Pacific time.

[Update 12:31] Google has posted an update on their official blog that erroneously states that Google gets its list of URLs from us. This is not accurate. Google generates its own list of badware URLs, and no data that we generate is supposed to affect the warnings in Google’s search listings. We are attempting to work with Google to clarify their statement....

[Update 1:36] Google updated its statement to reflect that StopBadware does not provide Google’s badware data.

[Update 2:35] Hopefully this will be the last update, as Google has acknowledged the error, apologized to its customers, and fixed the problem. As many know, we have a strong relationship with Google, which is a sponsor and partner of The mistake in Google’s initial statement, indicating that we supply them with badware data, is a common misperception. We appreciate their follow up efforts in clarifying the relationship on their blog and with the media. Despite today’s glitch, we continue to support Google’s effort to proactively warn users of badware sites, and our experience is that they are committed to doing so as accurately and as fairly as possible.

You can see why StopBadware was irritated. How would you feel if you were a small organization and a huge company blamed you for a problem?

So perhaps Google should have apologized to For all I know, they may have done so.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Why Harlan Koch needs to run Starbucks

It's no secret that Starbucks has been ailing, but part of its latest remedy is worrisome. BusinessWeek details the latest change:

One of the new cost cutting moves announced was the elimination of ready-brewed decaf coffee after noon.

BusinessWeek also noted one of Starbucks' previous cost-cutting measures:

Last year, Starbucks cut back on the number of rotating daily coffees it offered, choosing instead to make Pike Place its daily house brand always available.

Now I can understand if Starbucks wants to cut out the Paul McCartney CDs or whatever. But last I checked, the official name of the company is still Starbucks Coffee Company, and its mission statement is still "To inspire and nurture the human spirit— one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time." Somehow it doesn't seem all that inspiring when you cut back on your main product line. Nokia did it, but it had mobile phones to replace its paper products.

No offense to Howard Schultz, but I suspect that Starbucks needs to be run by an insane person.

Let me give two examples.

Perhaps you've heard of Harlan Sanders, better known as Colonel Sanders. He opened a cafe in 1929, created his special fried chicken recipe in 1939, and was considered synonymous with his fried chicken recipe until his death in 1980. Actually, even afterwards, but the post-1980 cartoon character can't compare with the real thing.

The good colonel would do anything to promote his chicken.

Another insane person is Jim Koch. I had never heard of the guy, nor of the Boston Beer Company, until I began hearing these radio commercials for Samuel Adams beer. And he didn't talk about return on investment...he talked about beer. And not just on the radio:

[I]n the mid eighties Jim Koch literally went door to door in the Boston area to convince tavern owners to carry his beer.

Here's a 2003 story about Koch:

Just as Jim Koch is about to paste a sticker for Samuel Adams beer on the cooler of a Manhattan supermarket, the red-faced manager appears. "Don't you dare put anything on my shelves without my permission," he fumes. The brewer musters his most disarming smile and extends his hand. "Hi," he says in the voice made familiar by 15 years of cheeky radio commercials. "I'm Jim Koch, of Samuel Adams beer." The manager is unimpressed: "It's a little late for that," he says curtly. "Please leave my store immediately.

So you have Jim Koch running around in an insane manner in grocery stores, and you had Harlan Sanders running around in an insane manner all over North America (even criticizing Hueblin, who owned Kentucky Fried Chicken, at one point).

What Starbucks needs is a "Harlan Koch" - a spokesperson who is insane about coffee. But Joe "Mr. Coffee" DiMaggio is dead, and Juan Valdez is fictional. Ironically, there is a coffee-lover who would be good for the job:

[A] marketer of kitchen goods and housewares...had an epiphany when he first visited the original Starbucks stores in Seattle in the early 1980s. Used to the ‘swill’ of American filter coffee, he fell in love with the real thing, and knew instantly he wanted to work for this offbeat and passionate company....

In 1982, to the dismay of his parents, he left his position and joined Starbucks, having persuaded the founders to hire him as its marketing director. Security had been replaced by passion.

In his first few months he was sent to a coffee trade fair in Milan. He loved Italy’s crowded, atmospheric cafes, seemingly on every corner, and suddenly realized that the key to Starbucks’ future was not just roasting and selling coffee, but serving it. On this trip he had his first cafĂ© latte, a mixture of espresso and warm, frothy milk that at the time was almost unheard of in America.

However, this person left Starbucks and started his own cafe, Il Giornale. The rest is history, because this person who got so excited about Starbucks coffee that he left Starbucks was...Howard Schultz.

Perhaps someday he'll return to his first love.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

As long as we're testing...

...might as well test a remote post.

This is a clear example of a soft opening for a blog, don't you think?

Anyway, the setup continues. I haven't set up Odiogo yet, but Technorati, Adsense, FriendFeed, and FeedBurner are up and running.

What is this? Number four?

You see, Odiogo doesn't like to enable itself on blogs with very short posts. So it didn't like my first two posts, and even the third post (which was longer) didn't really help matters. So let's try one more time.

Here's another quote:

We can drift along as though there were still a cold war, wasting hundreds of billions of dollars on weapons that will never be used, ignoring the problems of people in this country and around the world, being one of the worst environmental violators on earth, standing against any sort of viable programs to protect the world's forests or to cut down on acid rain or the global warming or ozone depletion. We can ignore human rights violations in other countries, or we can take these things on as true leaders ought to and accept the inspiring challenge of America for the future.

Jimmy Carter

Sorry about this, but here's a third test post

Perhaps I should post some quotes about problems:

There’s no denying that a collapse in stock prices today would pose serious macroeconomic challenges for the United States. Consumer spending would slow, and the U.S. economy would become less of a magnet for foreign investors. Economic growth, which in any case has recently been at unsustainable levels, would decline somewhat. History proves, however, that a smart central bank can protect the economy and the financial sector from the nastier side effects of a stock market collapse.

Ben Bernanke

More here.

Second test post

Test post

"The business of America is business." (Calvin Coolidge)