Thursday, March 31, 2011

Chris Schauble's broadcasting move - not quite of earthquake proportions

So anyways, a few days ago I turned the TV on early one morning and was watching the KTLA broadcast here in Los Angeles. I often catch the radio version of the radio-TV simulcast between the KTLA Morning News and Roger Lodge's radio show on AM 830 (motto: "The only reason we don't cover the Ducks all winter is because that would cut into our winter Angels coverage"). So I was somewhat surprised to see that the male newscaster was not Frank Buckley, but Chris Schauble.

You may recall my previous vent regarding Chris Schauble - namely, how he joined into the anti-Kent Shocknek chorus of "don't do the responsible thing when an earthquake hits." (You know - when an earthquake kills 6 people, and an aftershock hits, apparently you're supposed to pretend like nothing is going on.) And you may recall my subsequent comments regarding Schauble, who responded to a video gaffe with an on-air obscenity. Those things happen, but when you're on an FCC-regulated broadcast outlet, you will be criticized.

I don't know if that had long-term ramifications for Schauble's employment at KNBC (although it probably did, since Schauble was consigned to odd-hours work after the event), but Mediabistro linked to a Frank Buckley post that revealed that Schauble has switched stations:

Starting next Monday, I'll no longer be anchoring the 5-7am hours of the KTLA Morning News and a new guy will be in the anchor chair. I was asked to fill in on the 5 and 6am broadcasts on a temporary basis after the departure of our friend Emmett Miller in October. We thought it would last a month or two. It's now March....

The new guy is someone you may know from KNBC Channel 4. His name is Chris Schauble. He's a veteran newsman, a dad, and a person we will all get to know well in the months and years ahead. I hope you'll welcome him with open arms to the KTLA Morning News family.

Well, at least until the ground starts shaking and we see if Schauble does something stupid. (Presumably Ana Garcia remained at KNBC; hopefully she has learned to wear shoes when an earthquake strikes.)

As for Shocknek, he authors a blog at CBS Los Angeles' web site. Among other topics, Shocknek has blogged about the new Volkswagen all-electric VW Bus. And in an earthquake-related post, Shocknek analyzed the aspect of timing that nuclear opponents need to consider as they cite the Japan earthquake in their arguments:

But when would you start to make noise? Point out what went wrong in Japan too late, and you’ve lost people’s immediate attention. Point it out too soon — as the situation still is unfolding – and stand by to be accused of heartless exploitation, as millions still are suffering from what they’re going through.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

(empo-tymshft) Modern-day Rip Van Winkle Thomas Haynesworth (cell phone???)

Part of the appeal of the Rip Van Winkle story is that it is so unlikely to ever occur. When is someone going to miss twenty or more years of their lives, and then awaken to find a new world?

Actually, it's not as unlikely as we may think.

The Washington Post has published a story about Thomas Haynesworth, who was arrested in 1984, charged with rape, convicted, and sent to prison. Subsequent DNA evidence showed that he was not the rapist in some of the cases, and he was freed after 27 years in prison. At the beginning of the Post article, Haynesworth's Rip Van Winkle experience was described:

For the first time in his life, he placed a call on a cellphone.

There are millions of people in the United States who have never known a world without cellphones. But Haynesworth, under prison restrictions, had only heard rumors of the device. In fact, his possessions at the time of his release were very few:

Haynesworth, wearing khaki pants and a button-down shirt, walked out of the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt carrying his television and a single garbage bag that held the rest of his belongings.

Presumably his television was connected to some type of cable network in prison, because if he tried to connect an over-the-air antenna to that television today, it wouldn't work.

And those weren't the only changes that occurred in the last twenty-seven years:

Haynesworth has never googled, used an ATM or traveled on an airplane. He doesn’t have a driver’s license. During nearly three decades behind bars, he was told when to eat, exercise and go to bed. He said he’s ready to catch up with a world he knows only from television and books.

Now ATMs certainly existed in 1984, but Haynesworth was so young at the time of his arrest that he presumably never had an opportunity to use one. And how do you explain the Internet to someone who, even if he could access it in 1984, would only be familiar with text-based Usenet and BBS interfaces? Consider the fact that Haynesworth's story was told on something called a web site, which you could view on a desktop computer, laptop computer, tablet, or phone.

Even the fact that Haynesworth has relied on television and books for news over the last 27 years is notable. There are those that argue that television and books are dead today.

But with all of these technological advances, what was most important to Haynesworth at this point?

He wants to sit on a porch, reconnect with old friends and enjoy some of his mother’s fried trout.

“It’s been a long journey,” Haynesworth said. “I just want to reflect and sit down and talk to my momma and eat a meal with her.”

Some things never change.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The fame silo

I am (still) an avid user of FriendFeed, which reflects real life in one very important way. When you are on FriendFeed (or, for that matter, any similar service), you usually only see the activity related to your particular friend circle. All of the other stuff that passes through FriendFeed is (usually) not seen by you. As an example, FriendFeed has a huge Turkish user base. You wouldn't see that if you looked at my feed, however, since very few of my FriendFeed friends are Turkish speakers.

Of course, real life is the same way. My interests are probably very different from your interests. When I wrote about Simon A. Cole last October in this blog, I had to explain who he was. When I'm at work, I (usually) don't have to explain who Simon A. Cole is - people at work know very well who Cole is.

We often make assumptions that everyone knows particular things, but often those assumptions are faulty. My favorite story in this regard can be found here. Scroll down to the story that Deborah Anderson tells about her father, and a golfing partner that he encountered in the early 1960s in the San Fernando Valley here in southern California.

Another player walked up to my dad and asked if he could join him in a twosome because the course was a lot more busy than expected. My father couldn't help but notice that people were gawking and pointing at the guy he was playing golf with. My father couldn't stand it anymore, his curiosity got the best of him. He finally asked his golf buddy why everyone was watching and pointing at him. He replied, "Why, I'm Hugh Beaumont and I'm in television!"

Now perhaps the name Hugh Beaumont isn't well known today, but at the time Beaumont was one of the lead actors in a very popular TV show. So why wasn't Mr. Anderson familiar with Beaumont?

My dad's only experience with television was limited to only watching the "Huntley-Brinkley Report" and an occasional college football game so he was still mystified.

Beaumont, to his credit, was not insulted that Anderson didn't know who he was.

He asked what show it was and Hugh told my dad and he kindly explained what the show was all about and who the characters were.

After playing golf, Mr. Anderson went home and told his family who he just met - only he got the name of the TV show wrong.

My dad came home and excitedly told us that he played 18 holes of golf with the star of "Beaver the Cleaver".

(For those who don't recall, Beaumont played Beaver's dad, Ward Cleaver.)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Developing outside the geographical box - Robert Scoble and location

I'll admit my biases up front - I have lived in Southern California for nearly 30 years.

Therefore, it was with interest that I read Robert Scoble's recent post entitled "MySpace’s death spiral: insiders say it’s due to bets on Los Angeles and Microsoft."

Now it should be noted that the Los Angeles-dissing view is not necessarily what Scoble himself is saying, although as a person who grew up in Silicon Valley he might share the sentiment. But here's what others told him:

There just aren’t “web scale” companies down in Los Angeles, and because Los Angeles is such a large place — it can take hours to drive across the city — there isn’t a single neighborhood that has built up a good talent base, the way Palo Alto or South of Market in San Francisco has.

This bet on Los Angeles doomed MySpace when Facebook came along. Facebook has hired tons of talent from Google and other companies. This expertise helped Facebook not only keep up with scale, but add new features.

Scoble offered additional explanation in the comments. For example:

Entertainment systems probably won't get to 100 million or more users. So, the engineering talent in LA will probably be just fine for most companies. But not if they really need to scale up. And, the talent is disperse, not located in one neighborhood. So, tough to hire.

Scoble is right about the dispersal of talent. Not that I'm a hotshot programmer or anything, but I can vouch for what he's saying. Ever since I moved to southern California, I have lived in either Upland or Ontario, two cities that are roughly 40 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. I have worked in the Inland Empire, in a suburb just east of downtown Los Angeles, and in northern and central Orange County. However, if I were to receive a job offer in Santa Monica or Long Beach, it would have to be a really really good job before I would consider taking it.

Presumably the Bay Area has similar types of issues - would a resident of Concord consider a job in Palo Alto? But Scoble's inference is that the talent is somewhat centrally located in Silicon Valley, and I don't have enough knowledge of the Bay Area to dispute this assertion.

And Jessas says that even the El-Lay assumption may be incorrect:

[There] are definitely major pockets of tech companies - Santa Monica and Burbank/Glendale/Pasadena for example. And there thousands if not 10s of thousands of engineers, sysadmins etc who work at great and innovative companies in LA like: Google, Yahoo, Edmunds, Shopzilla, Disney Interactive, Rubicon, Adconian and of course eHarmony where I work.

But the truly interesting part of this discussion is that there are some people who believe that location doesn't matter. Remember that this is the time during which technology should allow us to work anywhere, and that MySpace or Google or anyone else should be able to hire remote workers who live in Sulligent, Alabama or Ontario, California or Bangalore, India or wherever.

And while a telecommuting model doesn't work for all jobs, one would think that it would work for some of the development jobs that companies like MySpace require. Provided that the home office had built the necessary infrastructure and processes (including the human processes), and the remote workers had necessary bandwidth, it is at least theoretically true that MySpace's Los Angeles location should not have hampered it in any way.

Of course, the theory of telecommuting does not always agree with the reality - at least for some people. I recently attended a seminar that discussed telecommuting, and one southern California worker had been telecommuting for some time, and was in fact more productive because he didn't have to drive on the El-Lay freeways every day. In the end, however, he decided to go back to working in the office; the recession was beginning to take effect, and he worried that continuing to telecommute could contribute to an "out of sight, out of mind" mentality that might make his job vulnerable.

And when you have a company like MySpace that is laying people off, that's a problem that you want to avoid.

P.S. It should be noted that Scoble was NOT saying that Silicon Valley was the ONLY tech community. And if you want evidence of other tech communities, just ask Robert's friend Jesse Stay.

(And if you don't recall the link between Scoble and Stay, read this piece regarding their discussion with Twitter back in 2008. As of 2011, Stay is more well-known as a Facebook technical expert than as a Twitter technical expert, so I guess that we can conclude that Twitter hasn't exactly enamored itself to developers.)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

There are reviews, and there are reviews (the difference between Ezine Articles and TechCrunch)

If you've heard of MyCleanPC or other CyberDefender product fronts, perhaps you ran across this EZineArticles review from Dale Powell Jr. Excerpt:

As an IT Specialist performing computer maintenance on a regular basis, I routinely remove viruses and malware from both home and business computers. The problem is getting so epidemic that the majority of the computers we check-in for repair are infected. And since we are in the business of professionally removing viruses and malware, we know what works best, and what doesn't. With that said, you might want to know what we discovered about a popularly advertised product you may have seen on TV or heard on the radio called

Powell discusses the product offering, including the fact that you have to purchase additional products, and then talks about the certifications that MyCleanPC has received:

When it comes to the security software industry, there are many, many companies involved from all over the world. For many of these companies to become known as major players in this industry, they have to submit their products for product compliance and performance by an accredited 3rd party company. Three of the top certification companies are ICSA Labs, VB100, and AV Comparatives. There are others and you can easily check the results of how the various security software products they tested were ranked. Companies that have submitted their products for certification with favorable results will proudly display the certification logo on their products and websites.

CyberDefender boast many awards dating back to 2006 based on popularity because of the high number of downloads recorded for their products.

Read the rest of Powell's review here...and then note that at the end of the review, there's a link to

But wait a minute...why would a MyCleanPC review link to another MyCleanPC review?

If you follow the link, you'll find out why. The site doesn't allow me to print excerpts from the real review, but suffice it to say that Powell did not have the freedom to say everything that he wanted to say in the Ezine Articles review. For example, the second review makes it clear that CyberDefender has not received certification from the top certification companies that Powell named in the first review.

But enough about CyberDefender - what about EZine Articles? I couldn't find any explicit statement that negative comments were banned, other than this item in the editorial guidelines:

MUST NOT contain any content that is a violation of any law, be considered defamatory, libelous, or infringes on the legal rights of others.

I don't know...perhaps saying that a product doesn't have an independent party certification is considered defamatory.

And Britt Malka (on a site called has posted a list of the unwritten rules of Ezine Articles. The first item on Malka's list:

Don’t write negative reviews. It’s okay to put in a negative thing or two, but your review must not be totally negative. notes why positive reviews are important:

Actually, I can see why they don’t want anyone to write negative review – in case of this particular game, what if i tell everyone it’s bad and then its developers would look at EzineArticles and say, “holy cow, we won’t pay these guys for ads, they allowed someone to bark at our game!”.

But this isn't unique to Ezine Articles:

This also why you would look up and down many major gaming networks and never find an honest review about a game that is really bad and isn’t worth your time – there are few sites that allow themselves to write the truth and not being afraid of losing some future advertiser.

But I previously saw this post (H/T Chris Pirillo) about someone who tried to get a TechCrunch article edited:

After the launch party for the new Jake Gyllenhaal movie, the Source Code, Alexia Tsotsis of TechCrunch posted an article about the social game layered above the movie. Immediately following the publication of her post on TechCrunch, Alexia received an email from Moviefone/AOL Television...

It's relevant to note that TechCrunch is also an AOL property.

...asking her to tone her “snark” down after Summit complained about the tone and content of her article. Moviefone, of course, made the request to stay on good terms with the movie studios. And of course, Alexia refused.

And if I were to be perfectly honest, I edit myself. There are some negative things that I could write here that I have chosen not to write, for a number of reasons.

So how do you trust any of us writers?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Oh, to be an editor

I have a friend who was writing a column for a city newspaper. I say "wrote," because he has stopped writing the column. I'm not going to reveal the name of the columnist nor the name of the paper that he worked for, but his experience is instructive, not only to people who work in newspapers, but also to people like me who work on proposals.

As a proposal writer, I am responsible for gathering lots of information from many different subject matter experts. My job is to ensure that the final proposal is a single consistent document. At the same time, I need to preserve the main points being made by the subject matter experts - after all, they are experts. This often requires some very careful editing.

My friend submitted his column to the paper, and was very distressed when the article actually appeared. You see, my friend wrote a column on Christian topics, and this particular column included several references to Joseph as the "foster father" of Jesus.

The editor at the paper removed the word "foster," thus referring to Joseph as the father of Jesus.

Now even if you're not a Christian, you probably realize that this edit dramatically changes the substance of the column. It is a basic point of Christian doctrine that Jesus is the Son of God. Therefore, to change references to Joseph from "foster father" to "father" not only shortens the column by a few words, but also caused some rather unorthodox statements to be issued under my friend's name.

Of course, some people claim that editors themselves are gods. Or at least that editors were gods, once upon a time.

And now (and my friend, who is not Lutheran, will cringe here) I must ask the question, "What does this mean?" It means that, in my ideal world, an editor and a writer should work together to reach a common understanding on issues that an editor will raise regarding a writer's piece. Of course, in the ideal world there are no deadlines, and perhaps the editor of my friend's piece only had five minutes to get the article to press. We may never know, but I do know that one city paper has lost one columnist over the incident.

P.S. Yes, I've been absent from blogging for a while. For an explanation, see the posts that will appear in my Empoprise-MU music blog on Monday, March 21 and Tuesday, March 22.

P.P.S. And yes, I'm going to urge my friend to start blogging.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

(empo-tymshft) On post-acquisition reorganizations, revisited

One of the people in my FriendFeed circle was recently laid off, so the thoughts of many of us in the FriendFeed circle are understandably concentrating on employment. When I was asked about the way in which I got my last job, I ended up re-examining my October 22, 2009 post On post-acquisition reorganizations, and the February 2010 follow-up post Guilty by association (APMP).

And a lot has happened in the last year and a half, but a lot has remained the same. A few comments are in order.

In my 2009 post, I mentioned that we were still getting our proposal software from the same vendor that provided it back in 1999 (when I was last in Proposals). Well, guess what? That company got acquired, so there are changes on that front also. We'll see what happens.

In my 2009 post, I talked about how my product management experience could benefit me in my new proposals job. In some senses it has benefited me, but in other senses time has moved on. The new product manager has evolved my product well beyond where I had taken it, and although there are similarities to the previous generation, there are a number of new things that I have to learn just like everyone else.

Oh, and remember how I mentioned that I took care to let all of my contacts know that I was changing jobs, and told them who their new contact would be? Well, either I missed some contacts, or (more likely) my original e-mail describing the change got lost. Just this week, someone at Oracle contacted me with a question, and I had to redirect the person to the new product manager.

I continue my involvement in the Association of Proposal Management Professionals, and just attended a chapter meeting last week. The topic was virtual working. People dialed in to the presentation from approximately 20 different locations. That's called eating your own dog food.

And the job itself is going well. You'll notice that I never explicitly mention the proposals that I'm working on at any given moment, primarily because the proposal process takes so long. Of the first four opportunities that I proposed in 2009-2010, three were decided later in 2010, and one won't be decided until possibly 2012. All I'll say is this - if you go to a well-known summer "stampede," don't get into trouble with the law, because my company will check you out.

P.S. If you're in the Portland, Oregon area and are in need of an experienced IT security professional, take a moment and read about Alex Scoble.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Remember when comment fragmentation was bad?

It seems like just a couple of years ago that some people were extremely concerned about comment fragmentation, and about how this was going to be the death of blogging as we know it.

I thought about this again when I tried to comment on this post and was unsuccessful:

You see what I did - not only did I fragment my comment, but I also did so in a non-searchable format. (Or at least it's presently non-searchable; it will probably be searchable within a few months.)

Of course, today the issue of comment fragmentation has taken a different look. Now when you go to comment on certain items, you have the option of sending your comment to multiple destinations. Of course the two most common destinations are Facebook and Twitter (which always seem to be linked together), but you can also send your comment to other stuff too - provided that you share all of your credentials with the host of the original item.

I've become more selective in this sharing as I have grown older. Do I want to share this with the Twitter folks? Do I want to share it with the Facebook folks? What about the folks on FriendFeed? Or should I just leave my comment here and not share it with anyone else?

P.S. Actually, barber shops are probably just about as good as think tanks in considering important issues.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

You do not control your message

If you create a product, you like to fancy that you can completely control the positioning of your product in the market. However, experience shows that there are people downstream who can affect your product positioning in ways that you never imagined.

Take BMW, for example. BMW provides a premium product at a premium price, and tries to issue classy advertising for the self-described "ultimate driving machine."

But apparently BMW has little control over what its dealers do in their own advertisements.

On Sunday evening I was listening to KLAC-AM over the tubes, and I heard a Long Beach BMW ad several times. Someone posted the ad to YouTube, so you can listen to it yourself. Here's the part of the ad that probably doesn't please BMW Corporate:

Pop quiz. What is balding on top, has to wear a diaper, and screams in the car? No, it's not your neighbor's newborn. It's you. After buying a new 2011 BMW from Long Beach BMW, you can't stop screaming from excitement, and can hardly pull yourself from your new ride to take a bathroom break.

This doesn't necessarily correspond with the image that BMW drivers may have of themselves.

Unless, of course, Long Beach BMW is targeting Lisa Nowak as a customer.