Saturday, February 28, 2009

The drawbacks of a multi-blog empire

Early Friday morning, I was musing:

considering pros and cons of streaming empoprises blogs to facebook, linkedin, plaxo.

For those who aren't familiar with the Empoprises blogs, this is actually a series of four blogs that I publish. Unlike my personal blog, which is specifically advertised as "all-encompassing," each of the Empoprises blogs is devoted to a specific topic.
  • Empoprise-BI (this blog) is devoted to business.

  • Empoprise-MU is devoted to music.

  • Empoprise-NTN is devoted to trivia games from NTN Buzztime. (Therefore, if I run across a business story about NTN Buzztime, it will go in Empoprise-NTN, not Empoprise-BI.)

  • Empoprise-IE is devoted to the Inland Empire of California. (Therefore, if I run across a business or music story about the Inland Empire, it will go in Empoprise-IE.)
I've gone back and forth on this over the years, but have decided that these separate blogs offer a more focused reading experience for my potential readers. I also figure that the more focused content will benefit me in other ways (searches, etc.).

I know that some people only write about tech, or only about business, or whatever, but I've decided that it's more fun for me to pursue my separate interests in these four areas. And for other areas, there's always my personal blog.

So anyways, I eventually started to act on my musings. First, I went ahead and added streams from all four blogs to my Plaxo account on Friday.

I began looking at adding these to my Facebook account, but I am extremely new to Facebook (I just joined on Thursday) and am still trying to figure out the optimal way to do this. (I don't know that I want to dump everything from all the blogs into the Notes application.)

That left LinkedIn, which I visited on Saturday morning to figure out what to do. I had already installed the Blog Link application.

Blog Link is a free, easy-to-use application that allows you to connect your blog to your LinkedIn profile. Blog Link is powered by TypePad, and enables bloggers on all platforms to leverage original blog content on LinkedIn.

And there are clear benefits to promoting your original blog content.

Now you can extend your personal brand even further by sharing the thoughts and insights on your blog with your professional network on LinkedIn....

Blog Link enhances your LinkedIn profile with the latest news from your blogand informs your connections whenever you publish a new post.

But there are two-way benefits also, because I can also view when my LinkedIn connections publish something.

Blog Link automatically pulls in the latest blog posts from around your network so that you can stay up to date on the issues that matter to you from the sources you trust.

Actually, I'm already subscribing to many of these blogs via Google Reader, but if one of my other contacts starts blogging, this way I'll know about it.

But how does Blog Link work?

How it works:
Blog Link Powered by TypePad is simple. Here’s how to get started:
  1. Make sure your blog is listed on your “Websites” on your Profile.

  2. Add the Blog Link application to your LinkedIn Profile.

  3. That’s it - Blog Link will now add your sites to your profile.

  4. To find news and ideas from trusted people in your network, go to the “Your
    Network” tab. Blog Link will automatically find all of the blogs in your network and update them in the “Your Network” tab. If you do not see the blog of one of your connections, just ask them to add it to their “Websites” list on their LinkedIn profile and Blog Link will find it for you.
So, I proceeded to my LinkedIn profile and found the space to list up to three blogs, and prepared to enter my four blogs into that space.

If you've completed first grade math, you can see the problem here.

Perhaps LinkedIn has specific reasons for limiting a user to three links, but to me it seems kind of odd, given that some of us literally have dozens of profiles. Take your average Oracle person, for example - he or she may have a personal profile, a profile on the Oracle Wiki, a profile on Oracle Mix, perhaps some other Oracle profiles, a profile on Eddie Awad's, plus your usual smattering of profiles on other services.

So I ended up only adding one blog to my LinkedIn profile - this one (Empoprise-BI).

But the ironic part of this decision is that I ended up leaving out a lot of business content from my other blogs. Specifically, I had just started a series on LinkedIn member businesses in the Inland Empire and, according to my rules, I am putting these posts in my Empoprise-IE Inland Empire blog. And therefore they're not showing up in the Blog Link application (unless you happen to click on this post in Empoprise-BI and click through to the series).

Well, perhaps it's better this way. I don't know if my LinkedIn readers necessarily want to know my views on Madonna's music. I'm a little more pop-py than some of my LinkedIn contacts. (For example, see Louis Gray's post Life Is Better With a Techno Soundtrack.)

But now my Plaxo and LinkedIn contacts, and possibly my Facebook contacts, will have more visibility of my business blog. We'll see what happens.

Business in Gaithersburg

I am scheduled to take a business trip to Gaithersburg, Maryland next week.

I grew up in the region (specifically, suburban Virginia) a few decades ago, and at the time, the business of Washington was government. Today's it's still government, but government contractors have taken a bigger role.

But you have to learn how to do business, which is why when I did a web search for "gaithersburg business" I ended up at Montgomery College:

Montgomery College provides undergraduate and Workforce Development and Continuing Education programs for virtually all of the county's business, government, entertainment, and community service sectors. The College also provides employee, business, association, and government agency training on-campus, in-house, and online....

Work with our Workforce Development and Continuing Education Division for open enrollment courses or customized instruction by one of our Training Institutes: The Gudelsky Institute for Technical Training, Health Sciences Institute, Hispanic Business Institute, the Information Technology Institute, other training departments, or credit departments.

But why should you think about business in Montgomery County, Maryland? Some Chamber of Commerce-type person wrote something about THAT:

Montgomery County has a diverse population of over 927,000 (U.S. Census population est.2005) and is the largest county in Maryland. Montgomery County has one of the nation's most highly educated and diverse workforces, with a strong economy. The County has robust and growing information technology, biomedical, and health care sectors, based in part on the presence the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and commercial, research, and incubator technology centers in Rockville, Gaithersburg, Germantown, Silver Spring, Bethesda, and other parts of the county.

Hey, as long as Gaithersburg has a business that caters to my NTN Buzztime needs, I'm OK.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Why should I come to your news website?

I linked to this in a post in Empoprise-IE, but I'd like to highlight it a little more.

Techdirt printed something that said, in part, the following:

[N]o one has explained why...advertisers should support newspaper websites. Those newspapers have done little to add real value over the past few years, while plenty of other online sites have actively embraced their communities, and done so in a way where advertisers can derive much more value putting ad dollars towards those communities, than the "hands-off" communities created by so many newspaper sites.

Now it would be inaccurate to say that newspaper websites don't have online communities. Some do...but still don't get it:

I had a conversation yesterday with a former colleague, who, like many online journalists, is trying to steer his newspaper toward a more Web-savvy future. As we were wrapping up, he mentioned that he had to go to a meeting of his paper's "standards and practices" committee.

The what? I asked.

"Yeah, we have a standards and practices committee," he said. "We're supposed to figure out policies about managing user-generated content, hyperlinking and stuff like that."

Why don't you just crowdsource that? I asked.

He rolled his eyes, said "I know," then proceeded to detail some of the reasons why the paper's old guard had shot down his proposal to do just that. The reasons boiled down to two: 1) We don't trust outsiders to know what we ought to be doing, so 2) we're not comfortable letting "outsiders" influence decisions about internal operations.

But when you put too many restrictions on online discussions, that doesn't mean that the discussions will stop. The discussions will move elsewhere. And this doesn't just impact newspapers, it also impacts bloggers, especially those bloggers who require you to register for THEIR website before you can comment.

But wouldn't it be nice if a newspaper would adopt a generally-used commenting system? Well, at least one has - take a look at the commenting system used by this Harvard Crimson article.

Yes, the Harvard Crimson is using Disqus - which happens to be the same commenting system that I use on many of my blogs, including this one.

Apparently the Harvard Crimson wants to hear from their online readers.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

No Cure for a Radiohead

Music is a business, and some businesspeople in the music world are experimenting with different business models.

And some are not, as Stereogum noted when it linked to an interview with the Cure's Robert Smith.

Smith is certainly not behind Radiohead's experimentation with new ways of selling music....

Smith said: "The Radiohead experiment of paying what you want - I disagreed violently with that.

"You can't allow other people to put a price on what you do, otherwise you don't consider what you do to have any value at all and that's nonsense.

"If I put a value on my music and no one's prepared to pay that, then more fool me, but the idea that the value is created by the consumer is an idiot plan, it can't work."

And yes, Musicradar and Stereogum noted that the plan DID work for Radiohead, but would it work for everyone? If it did, then perhaps you'd see everyone rushging to this model.

Time will tell if Radiohead is an anomaly, or the herald of the future.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Five Guys Burgers and Fries

On Saturday, I had lunch at the Five Guys Burgers & Fries in Cerritos, California in connection with a FriendFeed meetup. The Cerritos location is on South Street, just east of Cerritos Auto Square (here's a tangentially-related video).

Five Guys started in my old stomping grounds of Arlington, Virginia (but after I left), at the corner of Columbia Pike and Glebe Road. They have since franchised and gone all over the place, including locations in southern California.

Here is my Yelp review of the Saturday lunch:

A Los Angeles FriendFeed meetup was held at this Five Guys on Saturday, February 21, 2009, and in the week prior to the meetup, people from all over the country were comparing Five Guys to southern California hamburger chain In N Out, and stating that Five Guys was better.

Menu-wise, Five Guys has two gimmicks that In N Out doesn't offer. First, they have free peanuts in the shell. I'm not a huge peanut sheller myself, but the two young kids at the meetup were definitely enjoying the peanuts. Second, Five Guys has an extensive choice of toppings for your burger; if In N Out has this breadth of toppings, it's not well advertised.

The service here was definitely a cut above the usual fast food place. We were not the only large party at the place - there was a group of yo-yo enthusiasts a few feet away from us. But a couple of employees stopped by a few times to make sure that everything was OK, to get us drink refills, etc.

Oh, and by the way, I followed the advice of several FriendFeeders and just ordered the small burger and small fries. That was more than enough; I had lunch at around 3:15 pm and ended up cancelling my dinner plans.

There are varying opinions on Five Guys, especially on the value of the burgers, but one writer had a very strong opinion:

A flyertalker once took me to the Dulles one.


But the writer went on to clarify:

But only because they don't have one close to me ;) Burger was top notch!

Friday, February 20, 2009

College president as chief fundraiser

On Thursday, I wrote a piece in my personal blog that, among other things, noted that the former president of Deep Springs College, Louis Fantasia, was apparently fired from his position for spending too much time on fund-raising.

If true, then this is another reason why Deep Springs College is an anomaly among private colleges and universities, since most private institutions are moving toward a different focus for their presidents. In 2004, a publication with the name University Business said as much:

Gone are the days when the hire of a university president was based primarily on a lifetime of scholarship and academic credentials that resonated with faculty. Gone, too, are the days when the president was expected to focus on internal governance and maintaining the institution's status quo. Increasingly, university leaders are under relentless pressure to raise private funds to protect and grow colleges and universities.

If you doubt this, take a look at the criteria being used in Oberlin College's presidential search. Seven points are listed, but even the first point ("Enhancing the Value of an Oberlin Education") has financial implications:

Strengthening professional development and salary support for faculty, while enhancing their recruitment, retention, and diversity...

And, of course, you get to the second point, which concludes as follows:

The president’s role is crucial in communicating Oberlin’s distinctive strengths and raising the College’s profile among friends, donors, prospective students, colleges and universities, and other influential constituencies.

Notice that "donors" is listed before "prospective students." But the real meat of the president-as-fundraiser role comes through in the fifth point, which I am reproducing in its entirety:

Enhancing Oberlin’s Philanthropic Culture – There is consensus within the Oberlin community about the need to improve the College’s resource base. In no other area will the president’s ability to build awareness of Oberlin’s excellence and to enhance the perceived value of an Oberlin education be more crucial. Whether focusing on the annual Oberlin Fund, nurturing the prospects of major and planned gifts, or initiating the next capital campaign, the Oberlin president will be asked to have a direct impact on fundraising and on improving the College’s overall philanthropic culture. Oberlin’s trustee and alumni leadership understand the importance of this activity and have pledged their full support and involvement to presidential activity in this area. Engaging external constituencies, setting development expectations, and establishing priorities on which future fundraising will be based are all opportunities awaiting the next president.

But it's not just the private institutions.

True story - back when I was in college, several of the people in my dorm had attended private schools in their high school years, and, as expected, they all received solicitation letters from their schools. One of my dormmates had attended public school, but he received a solicitation letter also - asking for his vote on a local school bond measure.

And that was then. This is now, and even public school executives need fundraising skills. ERIC references an article with the title "A New Role for Community College Presidents: Private Fund Raiser and Development Team Leader."

I'm sure that some educational professionals are decrying this trend toward college as a business. But others recognize that without these fund-raising efforts, there won't be a college.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

James Macpherson responds - and points out some errors of my own

You'll recall that on Saturday, February 14, I wrote a post entitled "Outsourced News" which discussed James Macpherson's Pasadena Now.

Macpherson has responded, and for those who don't see my Disqus comments, I'm reproducing his response in full here.

When you write (eloquently if without regard spelling) "Although I live for opoprtunities [sic] to slam Maureen Dowd, I'm forced to admit that she did uncover some issues with the accuracy of the Pasadena Now coverage" you utterly miss the point.

The worker queried was not a writer or "reporter" but one of our cut-and-paste personnel who copies event listings into our calendar section, verbatim.

How disingenuous of Dowd - and you! - to cite this person's comments as evidence of ignorance on the part of our writers.

More to the point: What "issues" did Dowd uncover? Every single article and fact we publish is vetted by the editor here in Pasadena.

Even more to the point: Our writers in India are provided with full research background, interview transcripts, and photos - when they produce articles, they have full facts at their fingertips.

FYI, our content is now bolstered by Andre Coleman, for years the city reporter for the "Pasadena Weekly." Our stories are authoritative and collaborative, blending articles written here with articles written elsewhere.

We have signed up 37 advertisers in a month and are flourishing; the Pasadena Star-News has laid off many and forced unpaid furloughs on the remaining.

If you were to take the time to investigate the model we are developing you would discover it has much to offer to save American journalism and is far from the lame caricature you present.

Macpherson raises some valid points, which I'll investigate in the future.

But the best part of this whole affair is that James Macpherson, the Foothill Cities Blog's "Centinel" (see this post), and I all agree on one thing - Maureen Dowd is not a shining example of American journalism.

(Now we'll see if Dowd avails herself of the opoprtunity to leave a comment in this blog. And yes, "opoprtunity" was intentional.)

Two WMFLs and an Xtranormal

I've previously written about the @WMFLNC6 Twitter account, which was "exposed" as "a fake news station" by @atweeteraday (who, incidentally, is being promoted on @hangintherejack, a fake corporate Twitter account).

And yes, there is a WMFL, but it is not a news station. It broadcasts at 88.5 FM from Florida City, Florida and is associated with Family Radio.

But the news version of WMFL does have a cool video.

As you can see, the video is a promo for, a text-to-movie service. Perhaps I'll play around with it at some point.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Jack in the Box campaign continues #DYSP

The Jack in the Box campaign continues, and the message is actually rolling out, although you can question whether the methods

If you go to, you can see that the message has been incorporated into the website.

And there's even an interactivity section, in which people can write messages to Jack. Presumably the messages are scanned for inappropriate content, but it still provides a level of engagement with the campaign.

But the campaign has been going on for a while. And Nancy Luna is getting bored:

I have to say, I’m getting tired of waiting around for news on Jack Box. Last we heard, the iconic mascot flat lined in surgery. Now, his ‘doctor’ says he’s in a coma....

What do you think? Is Jack in the Box dragging out this ‘mock’ bus bashing drama?

And to top it off, there was a post in early February entitled "Jack run over. Who cares?" But to find it, you have to go to the Google cache; the original author cared so little that it was later deleted from the blog.

But conspiracy theories are afoot. When @hangintherejack was sending different information than @jackbox, Ryan Kuder wondered whether Jack in the Box had After viewing the @hangintherejack account myself, it appears that the account is independent...and has its own storyline (in its version, Jack Box died February 3)...and seems to run a lot of tweets about @atweeteraday. Funniest tweet from the latter is this one, in which @atweeteraday complains that a news station Twitter account (@wmflnc6 is "fake." I'm waiting for @atweeteraday to expose @hangintherejack...

Oh, and by the way, you may recall that I previously linked to a Damien Newton post on Streetsblog that criticized the promotion. Newton's post was itself hijacked by a site called Top Buzz that appears to have stolen, without attribution, all of Newton's post except for the first paragraph. And of course if you're missing the first paragraph of Newton's post, the post is pretty much unreadable. Top Buzz can't even steal correctly.

If you're going to Nevada, bring supplies (when the war on drugs hits your nose)

I spent last weekend in Las Vegas, Nevada, and at one point was sent on an errand to get some allergy medication for a family member. It turns out that I selected the wrong allergy medication, but in an odd stroke of luck I was prevented from buying the medication.

I was prevented from buying the medication because the Wal Mart cashier wouldn't sell it to me.

You see, the medication that I selected contained Sudafed. (The medication that I was supposed to get was the Sudafed-free one.) And Wal Mart wouldn't sell me the medication because I don't have a Nevada drivers license.

There's a good reason why I don't have a Nevada drivers license. You see, I live in California. But at least to the Wal Mart clerk, a California drivers license isn't good enough.

As it turns out, I'm a Sudafed user - mainly because (a) I have allergies, and (b) the newer models, such as Sudafed PE, don't work.

But it turns out that my home area, the Inland Empire, isn't the only place dealing with meth labs. As of March 2007, the Las Vegas Review Journal reported the following:

A study found that Nevada ranked No. 1 nationally in use of methamphetamine, with 2 percent of its population over age 12 having used meth at least once.

So places everywhere are restricting sales of Sudafed in various ways. I haven't been able to determine if the "only a Nevada drivers license" mandate is a Nevada state mandate, or a Wal Mart mandate.

But travelers should be forewarned.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Virtualization update - virtualization classification

Yeah, I know that I get in trouble when I refer to the word "classification," but it's appropriate here.

True story - I worked at a small software company in the 1980s, and at some point I ran into a potential customer who, when talking about his software needs, insisted "I want it to be integrated." Never mind WHY it had to be integrated; it was just important that the particular buzzword in question be satisfied.

I think that each of you can think of some buzzwords that can make things attractive to different people - "open," "Web 2.0," "stimulus," what have you. In fact, I'd like the three readers of this blog (I'm counting my dog here) to subtly introduce a new buzzword into the online conversation, and insist that everyone needs to have it. The buzzword that I have chosen is


I've played these games before, but not in the business environment. (Search for the term "vonsinium" when you get a chance.)

Well, "virtualization" certainly can become one of those buzzwords devoid of meaning. Thankfully, TechRepublic's Debra Littlejohn Shinder defined the term a little bit better. As the first of her "10 things you should know about virtualization," she talked about different types of virtualization:

#1: Virtualization is a broad term with many meanings

Virtualization software can be used for a number of purposes. Server consolidation (running multiple logical servers on a single physical machine) is a popular way to save money on hardware costs and make backup and administration easier, and that’s what we’re primarily focused on in this article. However, other uses include:

* Desktop virtualization, for running client operating systems in a VM for training purposes or for support of legacy software or hardware.

* Virtual testing environments, which provide a cost-effective way to test new software, patches, etc., before rolling them out on your production network.

* Presentation virtualization, by which you can run an application in one location and control it from another, with processing being done on a server and only graphics and end-user I/O handled at the client end.

* Application virtualization, which separates the application configuration layer from the operating system so that applications can be run on client machines without being installed.

* Storage virtualization, whereby a SAN solution is used to provide storage for virtual servers, rather than depending on the hard disks in the physical server.

To see Debra Littlejohn Shinder's other 9 items, go here.

On business risk - when a Dubai investment runs afoul of the Tennis Channel

Tom Hoffarth linked to a New York Times article. Here's how the story begins:

The Tennis Channel will not televise the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships this week to protest the United Arab Emirates’ refusal to grant an entry visa to the Israeli player Shahar Peer.

Quick quiz - what's the first company name, after the Tennis Channel, that you see in connection with this event?

That's right - Barclays. Things seemed so much better for Barclays a few days ago:

Barclays Bank is entering its second year of title sponsorship for the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships (BDTC), an event that is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free and draws over 125,000 spectators and half a billion TV viewers from around the world each year.

With the fantastic line-up of all of the top ten female tennis players, this year’s tournament is anticipated to attract additional interest from local and international tennis fans. Furthermore, seven of the top ten male players will be participating. The all-star tennis cast will include last year’s defending champions Andy Roddick and Elena Dementieva, as well as Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova and both the Williams sisters, Venus and Serena.

However, any mention of Shahar Peer over the next few days will probably include the word "Barclays." Which may not be good press for Barclays. Look at what Israel Newsletter wrote:

If it’s a basic question of right versus wrong for the Tennis channel, than what about for Barclays? Do they sanction these steps? Do they believe that an Israeli tennis player, should be discriminated against because of her religion? Why are they continuing on with their corporate sponsorship?

Then again, perhaps Barclays will be helped in some circles. Marco Villa obviously approves of Shahar Peer's banning:

Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer was recently denied permission to land in Dubai and compete in the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships. Poor her, she probably trains on some stolen piece of Palestinian land....

The New York Times and Shahar Peer both weep at the denial of any Israel to compete in just one tournament. But does the Times and this self-entitled tennis player have any sympathy for those Palestinians denied to play in any tournament by Israel? Where is the Times’ self-righteous indignation for those Palestinians denied permission to leave the West Bank to they can compete? Zionist fanatics even launched an effort to prohibit the Palestinians from marching in the Olympics under their flag.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Selling the Presidents

I recently wrote about licensing the likenesses of dead people. But you have a little more leeway when talking about public figures...such as U.S. presidents.

John Breneman has collected some of the results:

A couple years ago on President's Day, I read in the newspaper that Abraham Lincoln was rated by a panel of scholars as the nation's greatest president ever. Said so right on Page 3.

Then I turned to the automotive section to find a sad-eyed Abe in wearing a conical birthday hat and tooting a party horn to trumpet the "Historic Deals" at some Volkswagen dealership.

Further down the page George Washington (ranked #3 in the greatest-ever poll) is sporting the same red-and-white striped chapeau with the tassel on top as Lincoln. But his party horn is cut off by a '98 Jetta pricetag, making it look like he's smoking something or sucking his thumb....

Word balloons put "quotes" in the mouths of our greatest leaders. Lincoln exclaims, "All options at dealer cost!" And Washington chimes in "Instant financing too!" This is in an ad for Subaru Legacy sedans and wagons.

More here.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

At least SOME business is booming

An Olive Garden on Decatur in Las Vegas, Nevada on a Valentines Day Saturday night. And this is only the INSIDE crowd...

Outsourced news?

When I was working on my Bob Marley story, I referenced a news article at the Reuters website. The article had an interesting byline at the bottom:

(Reporting by Emily Chasan in New York and Ajay Kamalakaran in Bangalore; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

At first I thought that an Indian company might have been involved in the Marley licensing deal, which accounting for Kamalakaran's presence in the byline. But then I realized that something different was going on, and an old BBC article confirmed it:

In an office in central Bangalore, dozens of employees are arriving to work on the night shift.

They are journalists employed by the world's biggest news agency, Reuters.

Their job is to cover US financial news.

And they are working overnight so that they can report company news live as it happens on the New York Stock Exchange - from India.

But if I really want to understand how news is being outsourced to India, I can look closer to home. Well, sort of, since the reporting is still in India.

Before the Foothill Cities Blog had a major hiccup, it was devoting a lot of attention to Pasadena Now's India-based coverage of the city of Pasadena. While I can't find the older articles, there is a December 2008 post that talks about the main issues. There's also a 2007 Eye Level Pasadena post that links to a lot of other items (although, unfortunately, the Foothill Cities Blog posts are no longer available).

Although I live for opoprtunities to slam Maureen Dowd, I'm forced to admit that she did uncover some issues with the accuracy of the Pasadena Now coverage:

I checked in with one of [James Macpherson's] workers in Mysore City in southern India, 40-year-old G. Sreejayanthi, who puts together Pasadena events listings. She said she had a full-time job in India and didn’t think of herself as a journalist. “I try to do my best, which need not necessarily be correct always,” she wrote back. “Regarding Rose Bowl, my first thought was it was related to some food event but then found that is related to Sports field.”

However, Dowd was apparently late to the party, since the Claremont Insider parodied Pasadena Now's accuracy in 2007. Excerpt:

The Claremont Resort and Spa has initiated special summer Rate Plans. The Resort and Spa has a distinguished history going back to the 19th Century a.d. and has hosted the Saudi Royal Family in connexion with the Founding of the United Nations in 1945. Excellent views of the Bay Area are to be had.

Well, it's funny to the locals.

But is Pasadena Now's local coverage the worse for the wear today? Judge for yourself:

City Council Rejects Convention Center Artwork
After a public debate it was decided that alternative artwork be for the Convention Center be solicited.

Published: Tuesday, January 27, 2009 | 2:04 PM

In a public debate Monday, the City Council voted to reject the recommendation of the Pasadena Arts & Culture Commission to install works it had solicited and approved by internationally-known sculptors Hans Peter Kuhn and Dennis Oppenheim at the new Pasadena Center plaza. They will instead, accept a recommendation by City Manager Michael Beck to seek alternatives.

Continued here.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Virtualization update - getting hyper

I previously cited this Charles Babcock article, but didn't really delve into it. His major point:

What's going to stop Hyper-V virtual machines from taking off beneath the central IT radar as a cheap alternative to going through the agonizing process of getting another server out of the purchasing department? IT doesn't approve? Hasn't stopped 'em before.

And once Hyper-V gets a toehold, it will spread until one day the IT manager realizes he's got to manage the Hyper-V virtual machines alongside his VMware orCitrix (NSDQ: CTXS) XenServer virtual machines. Maybe he's got to manage all three, and throw in a stray Virtual Iron, Sun xVM, or Oracle (NSDQ: ORCL) VM virtual machine -- all members of the open source Xen family of hypervisors, but each one different -- as well. Wouldn't it be nice if users had the option of regenerating them all to run in a neutral format that could be recognized by any hypervisor?

So what is a hypervisor? TechTarget helps out:

A hypervisor, also called a virtual machine manager, is a program that allows multiple operating systems to share a single hardware host. Each operating system appears to have the host's processor, memory, and other resources all to itself. However, the hypervisor is actually controlling the host processor and resources....

More here, including the links to Microsoft stuff.

But it's not just tech people that are watching what Microsoft does. Douglas Brown notes:

With the upcoming release of Windows Server 2008 R2 and the amazing Windows 7, Microsoft has added native support in both operating systems for their virtual hard drive (VHD) file format....

As Microsoft is locked in a battle with VMware for virtualization market share, could embedding their own virtual drive format be seen as using their overwhelming share of the desktop and server OS market to their advantage? I quickly found a possible parallel and asked myself... is this the same as when they embedded "search" in the Internet Explorer browser which caused Google to go and whine and complain to the Justice Department? This result of which was to force Microsoft to create an “open” search so competitors, such as Google, would have the same ability to embed their tools into the Microsoft browser and OS.

Keeping with this thought process, one has to ask.....will Microsoft be forced to create an “open” virtual file format feature so VMware can embed their own proprietary virtual hard drive (VMDK) support in to Windows 7 and Windows 2008 R2 in order for users to natively mount a VMware created virtual hard drive file?

See Brown's conclusions here.

The perils of licensing dead people

In other blog posts in my Empoprise-MU blog, such as these from February 7 and November 30, I've written about the problems that Devo faced when they wanted to place a particular video on their DVD. The problem arose because the video was of a song by Jimi Hendrix, and the Hendrix estate refused to approve its appearance on the Devo DVD. (Yet the Hendrix estate licensed the "Liquid Experience" drink. Go figure.)

It turns out that I actually know a bit about licensing, having worked at a licensing company for a few years. Many of the licensed products that we sold featured living people or fictional characters, but we did have some products that were licensed images of people who had passed away. I'll confess that I didn't work with the licensing portion of the business (Glenn Hendricks, if you're out there somewhere, want to write a guest post?), but you can get close enough to it to realize that approvals for licensed products are sometimes difficult to get.

I suspect that it's harder for people who die young, such as Jimi Hendrix. I'll grant that the John Wayne estate isn't going to allow anything, but estates of people who die young have to worry about the raw emotions of people who are grieving over the death of the star, and then think it's "sacrilege" when the dead star's likeness is used to promote some product.

Take the example of Nike, who licensed the use of the song "Revolution," even though the surviving Beatles AND the widow of John Lennon opposed the project. (You'll recall that the Beatles did not own the rights to the song; Paul McCartney's former friend Michael Jackson did.) Nike had to tread carefully:

The Nike ads that ran using the “Revolution” music, however, were well received by many who saw them. The ads — showing a collage of quick-cut sports scenes that fit well with the music – were generally upbeat and energetic. They were purposely crafted by their producers to have the look of a grainy black-and-white home movie. The producers said they wanted the look of a “a kind of radical sports documentary,” and in 1987-88, the ads likely had that effect. One showed a few quick clips of professional, well-known athletes — including very brief appear- ances of John McEnroe and Michael Jordan. But there were also lots of shots of amateurs doing their own sports things – from joggers and tennis players, to toddlers, rope skippers, and air guitarists. Some Madison Avenue managers at the time thought it was a coup for Nike to have had the Beatles’s original music in the spot, calling the music “a very, very powerful tool.” Others weren’t so sure, pointing to the anti-war demonstrations of the Vietnam War era when the song was first aired, suggesting that association might be the more powerful one.

So why am I thinking about this whole issue? Because another dead star is being licensed by his estate.

Bob Marley's family has teamed up with a private equity group to handle licensing of the late Jamaican reggae legend's likeness, trademarks and themes on retail products ranging from apparel to video games.

The private equity group is Hilco Consumer Capital. Here's Hilco's "news article" on the deal (yes, the article includes the phrase "according to people familiar with the matter," and yes, the article appears on Hilco's own website):

News Article

Reggae singer Bob Marley's name and likeness have been slapped on unauthorized merchandise since his death in 1981. Now, the Marley family and a private equity firm that invests in retail brands are preparing a major push to license Mr. Marley's likeness, trademarks and themes to apparel, food and even video games.

Hilco Consumer Capital, which has compiled a stable of retail brands including Halston and Ellen Tracy, this month invested some $20 million for half of House of Marley LLC, a joint venture with the Marley family, according to people familiar with the matter.

Hilco Consumer Capital is jointly owned by Hilco Organization, one of the country's biggest retail liquidation firms, Mr. Salter and several other executives, Goldman Sachs Group, and Cerberus Capital Management LP.

House of Marley marks a new twist on an increasingly profitable sideline in retail liquidations. Hilco and rival Gordon Brothers Group are snapping up the rights to defunct retail-store names, such as Sharper ImageCorp., Bombay Co. and Linens 'N Things.

They revive the names through licensing deals for name-brand merchandise which is often sold exclusively to a particular retailer as a point of differentiation.

Hilco is separately negotiating to acquire rights to instant-film creator Polaroid's trademarks and to Fortunoff, a well-known New York jewelry and silverware retailer, according to these people.

"There is life after these companies go away," said James Salter, chief executive of Hilco Consumer Capital, a unit of Hilco Organization. "It's just the retail aspect of these businesses that were broken."

Mr. Salter said the first step for the Marley venture is combating the companies that use the name without permission. The company will spend "as much money as it takes" to stop counterfeiters, he said.

By cracking down on counterfeiters responsible for an estimated $600 million in annual sales worldwide of Marley products, he believes the brand could be a $1 billion retail business in the next few years. House of Marley would earn a royalty of 5% to 10% on sales of licensed products, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The House of Marley will sell the rights to produce products under the brands Bob Marley, Tuff Gong, Catch A Fire and One Love. One of the company's first priorities is creating Marley Lager, a Jamaican beer featuring the singer's likeness. The marketer hopes to add headphones, snowboards, posters, screensavers, among other products, Mr. Salter said.

"We want our legacy and our name to be firm in the world," said Rohan Marley, 36, who designs clothing under the brand Tuff Gong, named for the record label that was started by his father's band, the Wailers.

The Marley family also owns an organic coffee plantation in Jamaica that is developing Bob Marley Coffee, which Mr. Marley said will be on the market later this month.

Mr. Salter got a call from a music industry executive in October, who informed him that the Marley family was looking for a partner to help market the brand for a younger generation.

A month later, he was at the Miami home of Cedella Marley, the singer's daughter, who also designs apparel. As the Marley grandchildren played soccer in the backyard, Mr. Salter and the Marleys hashed out a deal over spicy Jamaican fried fish and corn.

"Dad's legacy continues to grow," said Ms. Marley. Hilco will develop products and events to celebrate what would be Mr. Marley's 65th birthday, which will take place a year from now. The deal between Hilco and the Marleys was signed on the night of Feb. 5, a day before what would have been Bob Marley's 64th birthday.

Mr. Salter said he views the Bob Marley brand as one likely to resonate with the changed mood of American politics.

"The Marleys stand for something, peace and love," said Mr. Salter, who has hired brand guru David Lipman to run the marketing side of the business.

So, will consumers line up for Bob Marley screen savers? Time will tell.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Virtualization update - the low end

I previously quoted from an article in The Age (Australia) that talked about virtualization.

But the part that interested me was the use of virtualization in the low end of the market. The Age talked about three examples:

These three case studies, taken from different levels of the Australian market, show virtualisation firmly in play, even at the low end of the market.

Michael King, vice-president of global education industry for IBM, says: "Especially in difficult economic times, schools of all sizes are looking for ways to save money across the board."

But the interesting one to me was Luther College:

[V]irtualisation is a work in progress and to define where it begins and ends remains tricky. At its humblest level, it could be Luther College, a co-ed school in Melbourne's Croydon Hills, moving from the use of distributed desktop PCs to thin client systems, leaving the task of processing and storage to centrally located Blade PCs in the college data centre....

Describing his school's dilemma, the school's director of IT, Chris Topp, said with school numbers growing and with a new middle school under construction, the pressure was on the IT system, which already included 850laptops and 350desktop PCs. It wasn't just cost but issues of flexibility and security that needed to be tackled.

Mr Topp says: "All expertise was being forced out to the devices on the edge of the network in both classrooms and admin departments."

Luther took advantage of a long-standing relationship with HP to install HP t5730 thin clients and HP2533t mobile thin clients in the place of distributed desktop PCs and laptops. Processing is handled by HPbc2500 Blade PCs in a central data centre that includes graphics-intensive applications such as PhotoshopSuite and 3DStudio, which used to be hard to run in the distributed PC environment.

More here.

How layoffs affect the younger generation

When I was growing up, my father had a steady job with a single employer. That doesn't always happen any more, as MSNBC/Forbes notes:

For many parents, the hardest part about being laid off is explaining it to the kids.

Ellen and Jim Kirchman found themselves in this predicament — twice. Jim lost his sales job at legal-products company Thomson West in December. Barely a month later, Ellen learned she's being cut from her job selling hardware for IBM....

Jim, who shares child care and housework equally with Ellen, bore the brunt of breaking the news to their 7-year-old daughter, Amy, both times. (Ellen was, ironically, traveling on business when IBM gave her the news.)

After two layoffs, Amy was worried.

"She's started having nightmares about tornadoes."

Forbes' Heidi Brown urges that parents remain strong, while noting that's a difficult thing to do.

Dr. Michele Borba notes that it's important to tell your children something:

[K]eeping kids in the dark about something so serious as a job layoff is a huge mistake. First, children come equipped with built-in radar and notice those hushed conversations and pick up on your tension. They may even feel they somehow caused your stress. And hearing such an immensely personal family problem from anyone other than you is plain unfair and could well break down the trust between you and your child.

The Los Angeles Dodgers break tradition...and it makes sense

When I moved to the Los Angeles area at the end of 1983, the Los Angeles Dodgers appeared to be steeped in tradition. They had been playing in Dodger Stadium for over two decades. They had been managed by the same person, Tommy Lasorda, for the past seven years, and Lasorda had followed a manager, Walter Alston, who had held the position for decades. The team itself was owned by the O'Malley family. Yes, the Dodgers were steeped in tradition.

Of course, anyone with any sense of history knew that there was a little more to the story. Just ask the citizens of Brooklyn. Just ask the people in Chavez Ravine who lost their homes to make way for Dodger Stadium. But there was still an aura of Dodger Blue tradition around the club.

Things fell apart a bit in the 1990s, as Lasorda had a heart attack and moved to the front office, Fox bought the club and made wholesale changes - my Dodger allegiance was painfully shattered when Fox dumped Bill Russell, Mike Piazza, and Hideo Nomo in a very short time - and the team, even after Fox exited, hasn't played in the World Series since 1988. And, to top things off, Rita Moreno of Arte has effectively made the Angels into the new Dodgers, copying much from the O'Malley/Campanis playbook and using ex-Dodgers such as Mike Scioscia to do it.

But current team owner Frank McCourt is trying to recapture the feeling of tradition. Whether it's a cynical marketing ploy or a deeper transformation, McCourt is clearly re-re-positioning the Los Angeles Dodgers as the bastions of tradition. Vin Scully's sonorous tones are still heard over the airwaves. And the rhythm of the baseball season continues on, right from the beginning of the spring when the Dodgers report to Vero Beach, Florida, as they have done since BEFORE the O'Malley days.

Whoops, strike that last part. The Dodgers announced that they were going to move their spring training facilities from Florida to Arizona, and that 2009 would be the year that the transfer would be made.

So how are the Dodgers selling this move? Very carefully.

I was listening to local news station KNX earlier this morning, and KNX reported that at 10:00 am, Dodger legend Tommy Lasorda was going to leave the Dodger facilities to travel to spring training.

By bus, as notes.

Tommy Lasorda has decided to take the old-school route to spring training, hopping a tour bus from Dodger Stadium to the Dodgers’ new Spring Training home, Camelback Ranch - Glendale.

There are just two stops on the itinerary - a 76 station for gas and a Carl’s Jr. for lunch.

And the fact that you can get to spring training with two stops is the crux of the matter, and the reason why the Dodgers broke with tradition. You see, if the elderly Tommy Lasorda can get to spring training by bus, then can't you, the Los Angeles resident, hop into your car, drive to Arizona, and take in a game or two?

And the Dodgers are helpfully reminding you of this via the occasional press release:

The Los Angeles Dodgers are now offering official Spring Training Travel Trips during the team's inaugural spring at Camelback Ranch - Glendale. Fans can save time and money by booking their entire vacation at one time, while being among the first to experience the new state-of-the-art Cactus League facility. The trips are available now at or by calling 866-863-9426.

As Frank McCourt well knows, a parking lot is no good if it's too far away from your destination. I'm not sure if this move will result in some tangible revenue increases, or some significant expense reductions for the team itself from the reduced travel, but it looks like this new place has the potential to keep the old fans very, very happy.

P.S. One more tidbit from the post I quoted earlier:

Also unknown is whether Mrs. Lasorda has been invited with promises of a “steak dinner” [at Carl's Jr.]

Forget DOS...these people probably ran CP/M

Back on February 4, I wrote a post about the New York Stock Exchange that traced its origins back to 1792.

Heck, that stock exchange is a baby. They're definitely not the oldest:

Generally the origin of the stock exchange is traced back to the stock exchange in Antwerp (1460). Still the Amsterdam Stock Exchange is considered as the oldest stock Exchange in the World. This was established in 1602 by the Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie or called VOC) that issued the first shares on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange.

The company was the first in issuing the stocks and bonds. It was later renamed as the Amsterdam Bourse and was the first to begin trading in secuirities.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Virtualization update - the players

I really need to follow up on these things.

If you go back to my mrontemp posts from 11/13/2007, 11/18/2007 [1], and 11/18/2007 [2], you'll recall that Oracle introduced Oracle VM at Oracle OpenWorld 2007.

And perhaps you saw the September 19, 2008 FriendFeed conversation that resulted when I shared an article entitled "VMware Says Another Executive Is Stepping Down." The article, which apparently is no longer available, certainly mentioned the earlier departure of co-founder Diane Greene from VMware (see a contemporary Forbes article for THAT story). The conversation mentioned another competitor to VMware: namely, Microsoft.

And this Charles Babcock article mentions Citrix, as well as some other players.

So where is the virtualization market today?

If you believe The Age, the players are VMware, Microsoft, and everyone else.

LAST year was a breakthrough time for virtualisation, with market leader VMware setting a cracking pace and Microsoft finally laying its cards on the table.

While spending some time talking about VMware, the article also discussed Microsoft's efforts:

Microsoft...has announced a comprehensive virtualisation war chest, claiming list prices for its V-word and management software would give it the edge.

Ovum senior analyst Timothy Stammers says: "Microsoft's pricing underlines the fact that its initial assault on the server virtualisation market will begin at the low end."

Microsoft makes no secret that it has VMware in its sights, but as MrStammers says: "This will initially present VMware with much less competition at the high end."

By the time Microsoft fills the gap, VMware is likely to have secured its market position.

At a recent conference in Las Vegas, VMware's president and chief executive, Paul Maritz, shrugged off suggestions of a VMware-Microsoft virtualisation war, saying: "They've locked onto our tail lights. They might release at less cost, but they'll be two years late. We're not overawed by them."

I'll probably have more to say on the low end later.

So where is Oracle? I couldn't find a lot of talk about Oracle VM in a Google News search, but I did find this from CIO/Computerworld:

With budget cuts across industries, yet high demand for service quality, the current global financial crisis is seen as "the perfect occasion" for the integration of open systems with proprietary software.

The article talks about some of the solutions that Touch Solutions is offering:

[Founder Anson] Uy, along with Boom Villaba, vice president of sales in Touch Solutions, announced that their company is ready in providing Oracle Enterprise Linux solutions, including the selling of Oracle Unbreakable Linux Support for businesses of all sizes....

During a recent press conference at the Mandarin Hotel in Makati City, Touch executives demonstrated the Oracle VM (virtual machine), meant to create virtual machines and automate them. For example, they showed how Windows XP ran on Linux.

"With Oracle VM you don't need to buy proprietary software licenses for each user's PC but they can use the software if they're connected to the Oracle VM that has it," Boom said. "It's like extracting the juice from that box."

More here.

Attention research firms - complex surveys are ineffective

This morning, one of my co-workers was grousing about having to read long emails. His standard for a long email? One that he has to scroll through to read all of it. I laughed as he said it (particularly since I've been known to write "War and Peace"-style emails).

I stopped laughing when I opted into a survey from a research firm. The firm promised a five-minute survey, so I figured, why not? The survey itself was easy enough, since it was multiple choice. But one of the questions was interesting. The question listed some different items, and you were supposed to choose the top three items in the list. (Click once and only once in the first item column, once and only once in the second item column, etc.)

The problem with the question? There were probably a couple of dozen items in the list. And they weren't single word items; each item was probably about three or four lines long.

The result? I had to - you've guessed this already - scroll down and up the screen to read all of the couple of dozen items before I could even make a single selection. And then you're supposed to agonize over them - so, is item 18 more important than item 16? And what about item 22?

I say that you're SUPPOSED to agonize over all of the couple of dozen items. By some strange coincidence, all three of my top three items happened to appear on the first screen of the survey page. Imagine that! (It could have been worse; I could have just chosen the top three items and been done with it.)

One would hope that the research firm guarded against this tendency by rotating the list of items for different survey respondents. But even if they did, what's the net result? The research firm is going to end up with a survey that doesn't reflect the respondents' true preferences.

So if you are running a survey for a research firm - or even if you're surveying Best. LOLcats. Ever!, please keep your surveys simple. It will improve not only the accuracy of your results, but also your response rate.

(Now - is this post too long?)

Follow up on the Jack in the Box promotion

I've previously blogged about the Jack in the Box promotion, which is supposedly intended to get people to come to the store.

Now I'll grant that I'm not an advertising expert, but I'm not quite sure what the message is in this February 6, 2009 video.

I can't figure out what the underlying message is here, unless "really loud crack" means that they're about to release a new egg sandwich or something. The original Super Bowl spot had Jack, pre-accident, talking about ordering food at any time of the day. I could understand if the bystander was saying that he was on his way to a Jack in the Box so that he could have his mid-afternoon breakfast, but...I'm puzzled here.

Perhaps this is similar to what Mark Trapp said about GoDaddy. Perhaps the very existence of the mentions of Jack, even without any brand messaging, are enough to drive people into the restaurants. Heck, it worked for me, I guess.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Does the government want to trash the businesses it "rescues"?

A true conservative (as opposed to a neo-conservative) will philosophically argue that a government, an entity somewhat immune to business pressures but extremely sensitive to political pressures, is the last entity that should be in charge of a business operation. Because of the non-business attitude of the government, a philosophical conservative would argue that the government would not take the proper actions to maximize business revenue.

Perhaps the true conservative can appeal to Wells Fargo as an example of such behavior.

Wells Fargo is in the business of making money. Provided that Wells Fargo's internal planning is not completely screwed up - which is admittedly a distinct possibility - Wells Fargo is naturally going to take actions that will make money for the firm, both in the short term and in the long term.

One of those actions is to make sure that its employees are intent on making money. To do that, you need to reward high-performing employees.

Politicians may refer to such awards as "junkets." In a Sunday New York Times ad, Wells Fargo disagrees:

"Okay, time out. Something doesn't feel right," the ad begins, before attacking "media stories" for creating the mistaken impression that every employee recognition event is a "junket, a boondoggle, a waste, or that it's for highly paid executives. Nonsense!"...

Wells canceled its major events, such as trips, for 2009, and has received $25 billion from the government's Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP.

But the cancellation of those events hurts those Wells Fargo employees who are "most deserving of recognition," such as tellers, personal bankers, operations clerks and credit analysts, the ad says.

The ad attempts to compensate those employees for the thanks they will not receive this year at their canceled events, said Wells spokeswoman Julia Tunis Bernard.


Monday, February 9, 2009

Leaving the Station

Perhaps you heard about U.S. News and World Report's list of 15 companies that might fail in 2009. I want to focus on one - Station Casinos.

Why? Because that one hits close to home. Well, not close to home, but close to travel. My wife has an elderly relative in Henderson, Nevada who plays bingo at Sunset Station whenever she can, so I've been to Sunset Station often.

Here's what U.S. News and World Report said about Station Casinos:

Station Casinos. (Privately owned, about 14,000 employees). Las Vegas has already been creamed by a biblical real-estate bust, and now it may face the loss of its home-grown gambling joints, too. Station - which runs 15 casinos off the strip that cater to locals - recently failed to make a key interest payment, which is often one of the last steps before a Chapter 11 filing. For once, the house seems likely to lose.

The Las Vegas Business Press has more:

Station Casinos carried $5.4 billion in debt in the third quarter ended Sept. 30, much of it from the November 2007 management-led buyout with Los Angles-based real estate firm Colony Capital.

That leverage puts Station at risk of breaking terms of bank debt, said Peggy Holloway, a Moody's Investors Service analyst.

But there's positive news here and there:

Station Casinos has been asked to temporarily run day-to-day operations of the Thunder Valley Casino by the American Indian tribe which owns the casino, the tribe and casino company confirmed Thursday....

[Tribe spokesman Doug] Elmets said the decision was made by the tribe to ask for Station Casinos' help until more experienced casino executives are hired to manage the economic downturn.

It's quite possible that a bankruptcy might not affect day-to-day operations, but with the economy, you never know.

And Trump Entertainment Resorts Holdings also appears on the U.S. News and World Report list. Although Trump caters to a different crowd.

Pigskin wisdom

Eric Musselman's Basketball Notebook printed a football-related post that included a quote from Denver Broncos coach Josh McDaniels:

"The way I coach and try to lead is by being more prepared than everybody else, trying to do that on a daily basis because I think that is what players respond to...."

Stupid LinkedIn tricks - using your network's location capability

I was perusing my LinkedIn network updates a few days ago, and discovered that one of my LinkedIn contacts is looking for a job. This caused me to wonder if I could help this LinkedIn contact in any way, even though the contact is in another geographic location.

The obvious way to do this was via my LinkedIn network itself. I'm nowhere near LION status, but even with my network I have contacts throughout the world. So I just had to see - did I have any contacts in the same geographic area as my LinkedIn contact?

Luckily, LinkedIn lets you do this.

If you go to your connections and select Advanced Options, you can then Filter by Location and see all of your contacts who are in a particular location.

There are other ways to probe your network, such as clicking on a company in someone's profile and seeing which of your contacts are currently working at that company, or have worked at that company previously.

So...what's your favorite LinkedIn network search capability? What capabilities would you like to see? Sound off in the comments.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

In which I perform field research on the economy

As you know, the economy isn't doing all that well. But to get a feel for how the economy is really doing, you can't rely on books of statistics. You have to go out into the field, talk to people, and get information.

For you, the Empoprise-BI reader, I made that sacrifice.

Yes, I went and played NTN Buzztime Trivia at Tequila Hoppers this afternoon.

I was talking with a fellow NTN Buzztime Trivia player named Russ (as I've noted elsewhere, he beat me in three out of four games), as well as with the bartender, Terri.

Terri, as all bartenders are wont to do, was making conversation and asking Russ what he did for a living.

It turns out that Russ is a financial planner.

Terri then asked how his business was going.

It turns out that Russ' business is doing quite well. In a way, this is understandable, since a number of portfolios have taken a negative hit over the last few months. In times like these, you'll often go to a certified financial planner to see if things can be improved.

Russ happens to work for New York Life, so I'll quote from one of their web pages regarding financial planning. The page lists nine mistakes that New York Life says that people make. Here are a few of them.

Mistake 1
Failure to Plan

Most people spend more time planning their vacation than they do planning their financial future. To the extent most people have done any planning, it's typically been on a piecemeal basis, and usually they receive different advice from different people at different times, with none of them referring to what the others may have done. It's recommended one person act as coordinator and catalyst.

Mistake Two
No Systematic Investment Plan

One should try to save and invest ten percent or more of one's gross income monthly. The older people get, the closer they are to retirement, the greater the "more" should be. Most people are about three months away from bankruptcy. After setting aside three to six months' income in liquid assets or cash value as a cash cushion to fall back on, a fixed amount should be invested every month to take advantage of dollar cost averaging.

The other mistakes touch upon issues such as not enough diversification of investments, insurance, estate planning, and the like. Read the rest here.

Oh - and by the way, Russ gave me his business card. If you live in the Inland Empire of California and need financial planning advice, email me at empoprises at gmail dot com and put "Russ from New York Life" in the subject line. I'll put you in touch with Russ.

And if you get together with him, ask him a trivia question. He's pretty good.

Will libertarians boycott Kellogg's?

I am slow.

I knew that I wanted to write about the whole Michael Phelps/marijuana/Kellogg's endorsement loss thingie, but before I could compose my thoughts, Dave Winer went ahead and wrote about it. His post is entitled "Don't Boycott Kellogg." Here's the humorous excerpt:

I think sometimes American industry worked at creating products just for people with munchies, like Krispy Kreme donuts. Kellogg's makes many such products.

Here's the more serious excerpt:

What a bunch of stinkers they are at Kellogg's. They could score so many points by saying something like this: "We don't encourage pot smoking, but we understand that some people do it. We have so many bigger problems to tackle in this country, and Michael Phelps is such an incredible young man and hero, we decided to be heroic ourselves, and cut him some slack, and keep him on the corn flakes box."

Winer then goes on to explain why we SHOULDN'T boycott Kellogg's, by saying...well, you have to go here to read his reasoning.

Meanwhile, others ARE urging a boycott, including Reddit user legalizetoday and Huffington Post writer Lee Stranahan. Stranahan again makes the point that Winer made:

[W]e believe that most people over the age of twelve would not eat Kellogg's products were they not wicked high.

He then goes on to call Kellogg's action "totally bogus."

While one would think that the standard libertarian argument would be to support Phelps and not support Kellogg's, Neofusionist has a different perspective:

[A] major problem with libertarianism is that its proponents often do things like support the guy who smokes weed over the company that cancels the guy who smokes weed as their spokesperson....There is no reason to condemn Kellogg here. They have the right to cancel on Phelps. Phelps knew this when he smoked on camera....

Barring the intervention of the authorities into this situation, this story has unfolded in a manner that is entirely consistent with libertarian ideals. Phelps was pictured smoking and now he must pay the consequences. Note that nothing stops him from smoking (he's not going to jail) - he's free to smoke, but not to avoid the consequences of his actions. A libertarian society would not be a society devoid of morals, it would just be one in which consequences for violating standards of morality were enforced privately instead of through state violence.

But the most interesting article comes from the National Review Online, with the title Arrest Michael Phelps Now!.

But if marijuana use is so horrid as to warrant criminalization, why are we wasting time discussing whether Phelps will be able to keep his endorsement deals? Shouldn’t he be prosecuted—just like millions of other Americans, whose lives have been ruined by criminal convictions for smoking pot?...

To ask the question is to answer it. While smoking pot may be a stupid thing to do for many reasons—risking adverse health effects, endangering endorsements, undermining Phelps’s status as a celebrity role model—he hurt no one but himself. He could have been photographed while drunk and stumbling out of a party, and it would have been no different. Bad press and angry sponsors would have forced an abject apology, and everyone would have moved on. Just like with his marijuana hit.

But back to the original question. Will libertarians boycott Kellogg's? Not necessarily, unless there is a valid alternative. Perhaps General Mills will step up to the plate and say that our government has too many silly laws. Then again, the Peanut Corporation of America may say that our government has too many silly laws, such as these dumb FDA laws...

Friday, February 6, 2009

Response Expo

I received an email for the Response Expo in San Diego, California this way.

What is it?

Presented by the Direct Response Marketing Alliance (DRMA) and Response Magazine, Response Expo 2009 is the key event in the direct response marketing world. Continuing on the overwhelming success of the 2008 event, Response Expo 2009 moves to the new Hilton San Diego Bayfront on May 20-21, 2009. With a full track of innovative educational sessions featuring the newest ideas and biggest names in direct response marketing, a bustling expo hall floor, and our famous networking events, including the second annual Response Expo Golf Tournament, Response Expo 2009 promises to — again — break the mold for events in the direct response marketing world.

Response Expo 2009 brings together key decision-makers and industry leaders from the corporate marketing arena and direct response spectrum. Whether you use direct response marketing on television, on the radio, in print, online or even in the mobile/wireless world, Response Expo will deliver exclusive opportunities to meet with your peers in the beautiful resort setting of San Diego.

Response Expo, much like the DRMA, is designed to create networking opportunities among corporate marketers, direct response agencies, traditional advertising executives and the television world.

More information at the wegsite.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Daily Breeze reports resolution of Broadstone Foothill Apartments case

Followup to my previous posts in Empoprise-BI and Empoprise-IE.

This article was posted at the Daily Breeze a little while ago. Excerpt:

The business manager of an apartment complex that demanded rent money from victims of the Covina Christmas massacre said Thursday the financial situation will be resolved.

"We will be resolving this with the family and a response from corporate will come out later today," said Candyse Wardlow of the Broadstone Foothill Apartment Homes. Massacre victim Alice Ortiz lived in the complex until she was killed.

Read the rest here.

Didn't Stop Daddy - GoDaddy registrations show net increase

Followup to my post from yesterday. A few more items on the GoDaddy/Super Bowl front.

Betty Chaney at Morehead State University has weighed in:

According to TiVo, this year's most viewed commercial was an advertisement for featuring Indy racer Danica Patrick. This particular commercial featured women in a court hearing being asked by a panel of male judges whether or not they were enhanced. All the women denied it, except Patrick who proclaimed she was enhanced.

Patrick also appeared in another Super Bowl ad for It opened with three men watching a computer screen which shows Patrick taking her "fifth shower today." The guys, in amazed wonder, then add "the German woman from the Dean's office" to the equation.

But what is It isn't a website filled with pictures of women. Instead it is a site that registers domain names. So, how do the commercials fit in?

Incidentally, the way that the commercials fit in is that the commercials lead you to the site, where you are then greeted with GoDaddy advertisements for domain name registration and everything else. Mark Trapp pointed this out in a FriendFeed comment. But I digress. Back to Chaney:

It is a shame Patrick has sunk to this level. Patrick should be admired because of the glass ceiling of sorts she broke. She has excelled in the Indy Racing League, a place where women are rarely seen. Instead of making further advancements for herself and other women, Patrick has only helped to contribute to the idea that for women to succeed, they must provide a little sexual excitement. Patrick should stick to racing instead of perpetuating a society that undervalues women.

So it sounds like Danica Patrick is in as much trouble as Miley Cyrus' Asian friend.

But Bob Parsons has faith in the numbers. And the numbers support his position:

Bob Parsons, chief executive officer of the Scottsdale-based domain name registrar, called the issue amusing.

"Since the Super Bowl, we've done 230,000 new or renewed domain registrations and had 9,000 transfer in and 3,800 leave," he said. "So it is much to do about nothing."

I figured that you couldn't anger two potential markets - conservative Christians and feminists. But I was apparently wrong.

Broadcrest Foothill Apartments or Broadstone Foothill Apartments, it's still a FAIL

Those who know me know that I use the tubes term "FAIL" very infrequently, but it's deserved in this case.

I work for a Fortune 500 company, and like any large company, we have a lot of processes. However, managers at my company realize that there are occasions in which a process has to be waived for the good of the company.

There is an apartment complex on Central Avenue in Upland, California which has been reported in the press as Broadcrest Foothill Apartments, but may possibly be Broadstone Foothill Apartments. Anyway, whatever the complex name, it is not a Fortune 500 company, but small companies have processes too. And understandably so, since you need to have a standard way of doing business.

Apartments usually have a requirement that a tenant give notice before vacating the premises, and that the tenant is responsible for paying the last month's rent. (Plus they'll try to tack on a "cleaning fee," bla bla bla, but that's another story.)

Anyway, Alice Ortiz lived in an apartment with her three children. Ortiz vacated the apartment toward the end of last year, and, following process, the apartment complex (Broadcrest, Broadstone, Broad-something) wants her to pay up.

There's only one slight problem.

You see, Alice Ortiz vacated the premises because she and her son were murdered on Christmas Eve.

The daughters have gone to live with their father, Carlos Ortiz, who lives in Ontario. And now Broadcrest/Broadstone Foothill Apartments is demanding that someone pay them $2,821.23. gets better. From the Daily News:

[Attorney Scott] Nord said apartment managers began seeking rent from the family in early January.

"I got a call from the landlord after everything happened, saying Alice didn't pay her rent," Nord said. "I asked, 'Have you seen the news? Her kids just lost their mom.'"

The apartment-management company followed up the conversation with a three-day notice to pay rent or leave, Nord said.

"So we had to get them out by Jan. 13, despite the fact that everything else was going on, dealing with the coroner, all these horrible things."

There's only one problem with enforcing process at inopportune times - someone is bound to complain about it.

I'm not sure whether it was attorney Scott Nord or father Carlos Ortiz who made the first complaint, but now Broadcrest Foothill Apartments' name is all over the place. (And if the name is wrong, you can be that Broadstone Foothill Apartments' name will be splattered also.) I originally heard this story on the Los Angeles ABC affiliate's morning newscast.

Oh, and it's in the International Herald Tribune also.

Even if it isn't Broadstone Foothill Apartments, at least one person thinks it is:

This morning on the news they said this community is trying to collect rent from residents who where part of the Christmas Massacre. Never rent from this community or the management which is Alliance. SHAME ON YOU!!!!!!



Innovate or Die

When I was a kid growing up in the early 1970s, there was a clear hierarchy in the pre-teen humor magazines. Sure, you could buy Cracked, and I think there were a few other mags out there, but everyone realized that Mad Magazine was the top of the heap.

I hadn't really paid attention to the wild kiddie humor magazine world lately - last I remember, Brooke Shields was interviewing Mad's William Gaines (as Yogi Berra would say, he must have granted that interview before he died).

But then, in the process of writing a Super Bowl-themed post for my Empoprise-MU blog, I ran across a post in The post, written by Clive Bannister and entitled Anti-Rock: The 10 All-Time Worst Choices for Super Bowl Halftime Performer, made it clear that today's Cracked bears little relation to the Cracked magazine of my childhood days.

Then, coincidentally, I ran across this post in Silicon Alley Insider, which linked to this Cracked post by Daniel O'Brien. If you believe O'Brien, the tables have turned.


Hey MAD.

How you doing? Why don’t you sit down, slip off those shoes of yours? Have something cold to drink, maybe snack on a few of these chips. Do you want a back rub, or something? Heating pad?

Foot massage?

You’ve been having kind of a rough time, lately, haven’t you? We feel your pain, really, we do (well, not really; things are actually pretty great over here. But you know what we mean).

I wanted to write sooner, really I did. Back in November, your TV show, (that, evidently, wasn’t already canceled), was canceled. That must’ve been tough. Even though it didn’t have much to do with your brand, it had your name on it, so that must have hurt a little bit....

More here, but this line stood out:

But, rest assured, Cracked is here for you. We used to have a magazine, remember?

So, while Mad Magazine has apparently gone to a quarterly publication, Cracked has ceased printed publication altogether, concentrating instead on the website.

Mad also has its own website, and it doesn't appear to be as pathetic as Cracked makes it out to be. And Mad's website is more kid safe than Cracked's.

But it's important to note that both companies have had to make adjustments over the years - or else they'd both be gone like Crazy and Sick.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Gone Daddy?

What do Christian conservatives and feminists have in common?

A united contempt for Bob Parsons, that's what.

Bob Parsons runs, which has received some notoriety for its Super Bowl commercials. I was blogging about them back in 2005, and they've been airing (or not airing) commercials ever since.

The 2005 commercial used a suggestive message to promote GoDaddy's $8.95/year web registration, although at some stage one wonders if the corporate message has been lost.

Certainly there's another message that is received by a wide variety of people.

Let's take Erin Kotecki Vest (@queenofspain), who simply stated:

Queen of Spain blog will no longer be a Go Daddy domain. My blog has up and moved. #suckit, Go Daddy.

Others were less succinct. Glennia Campbell (H/T Ninja Poodles! wrote a note to GoDaddy, and in the process of mentioning a technical issue, also mentioned another one:

Dear Tech Support:

My domain name is no longer referring people to my site's main page. Also, I would like to transfer my domain name registration to another site, due to your incredibly stupid and offensive ad campaign. I have 6 additional domain registrations up for renewal in May, and I will not be registering any of them with you. "ENHANCE THAT!"


"Oh," you may be saying. "So a bunch of wild-eyed feminazis got all wound up. Who cares?"

Perhaps you may want to hear from another feminazi, Brian Harrell:

Entrepreneur Brian Harrell, who manages hosting services for dozens of Christian churches and faith-based organizations and uses GoDaddy to host over 160 domains, says he's pulled several of his clients off of GoDaddy's servers after receiving numerous complaints about the company's racy ads that aired during Sunday's [Super Bowl] game.

"I know they're trying to make sales, but that kind of content is not going to fly in the Christian community," he says....

In the hours after the game ended, Harrell says he began receiving complaints from his Christian clients, who demanded their hosting and e-mail services be moved to a different provider.

And the calls kept coming. By Tuesday, Harrell says he has orders to move 20 of his clients' domains off of GoDaddy's hosting service and another 40 off of its web-based e-mail service. He anticipates more calls as word spreads across the Christian community.

Now one can say that a business can purposely take a risk at offending one segment of the market. For example, if you're a Carl's Jr. or a Del Taco, you may choose to air advertising that upsets vegans, but only because such advertising will help you address the market that you DO want to reach.

But when GoDaddy ends up angering TWO segments of the market, on different sides of the political spectrum, they'd better have a pretty good strategy for doing so.

Bob Parsons of GoDaddy has not blogged since the Super Bowl, so I don't know if any of these defections have reached a level that will affect him. And it seems like the positive attention outweighs the protests: saw its first Web traffic spike during the Super Bowl about 15 minutes after its first commercial ran, Web technology firm Akamai reported Sunday night.

Traffic to the site jumped to 433,206 visitors per minute at 7:30 ET, then was sustained at about 134,328 visitors for about 10 to 15 minutes after the an ran. That compares to 10,000 per minute on average for the site, Akamai said.

Whether these people will become paying customers, however, is another question.