Monthly Archive for October, 2002

Told my boss I’m leaving

red dress?Yesterday, I sat down with my boss to explain that I’ll be leaving. He was super about it.

His actions were very professional and, seemingly quite honestly, he told me that he had been wondering how long he’d be able to keep me around (he knew I was unhappy in general) and wished me the best of luck. I’m sure that he was sincere in that wish. That’s the one thing I’ll miss… working with and for my immediate supervisor. He is a great guy, and is very under-utilized or mis-utilized there.

My boss’s actions yesterday morning, and throughout the day speak volumes about him as a person and a manager. Someday, I hope I can tell my employees that I’m happy for them if I’m ever in the same position, and at the same time, I hope I’m never in that position, though, I’m sure I will be at some point.

It was a tough day in some aspects though. I’m a sales person, and I like to make sure my clients are taken care of, so the first thing I wanted to do was get them all the information that I’m leaving, and to let them know what they should do, who to contact, and how to get in touch with the company after I’ve left… but, that’s all a big question right now still.

I think it’ll take my boss a few days to figure out what’s going to happen after I leave (I was the only person doing my job, and the two or three jobs that should be filled to really support someone in my position).

He was talking today like he might just hire a bunch of rep firms to handle my duties, which is pretty sad, in my opinion, but that thought alone speaks volumes about why I’m leaving. No plan, and no desire for a good long term plan… not something I’m interested in honestly.

Tomorrow will be interesting, I’m sure.

powerbooks coming by Christmas

[sshhh: a little birdie told me that new powerbooks should be out by Christmas… maybe sooner]

PHPCon 2002 blogmarking

This week has been a busy one. I’ve been offered a job which I’ve accepted, told my boss I was leaving, and attended my Grandmother’s funeral.

I’ve missed out on a lot that I wanted to read about, one of those being PHPCon 2002. Jeremy was nice enough to blog the shit out of the happenings, and I’ve figured out how to read that day’s set of posts on one page, so I’m blogmarking that page, so I can come back and read it again soon.

Getting Site Traffic – Looking for Pumpkins?

It’s intersting to think that Adam Kalsey is getting a lot of traffic to his website for people looking for pumpkin carving links. I’m looking to do two things with this post. The first, give Mr. Kalsey a better page rank for pumpkin carving links, and two grab a searcher or two sometime that’s looking for pumpkin information.

Write for keywords, link to relevant content, and update regularly… that’s how to get traffic. Whether, its good traffic or not is another question entirely

and the tech industry matures…

Read this today:

Is technology maturing? HP is on the record stating that the technology industry is maturing. While this may provide cover as Carly reduces the once great innovator into a Microsoft VAR, in these recessionary days it’s worth pondering if the tech sector has any growth left. And what does “maturing” mean anyway?

Read More on Winterspeak… It’s an amazing discourse on the economics of the tech industry, in a bite sized chunk.

Life Changes

red dressFor the past month or so, I’ve been interviewing for a ‘dream job’ that sort of fell into my lap. It’s no secret that I’ve been disappointed with my current employment situation, and about 6 months ago I started dropping hints with people that I’ve met outside the company that I was definitely interested in looking at any opportunities that they heard of.

Well, one of my friends came through. He called me out of the blue on a Wednesday, about 3 weeks ago, and told me about an opportunity. I was sold after about 3 minutes of talking to him. I sent him my resume that night, and that next Monday morning he hand delivered it to the person that I’ll be reporting to, along with his personal recommendation.

That afternoon, my new boss (he wasn’t my boss at that point) called me to talk about the opportunity, and then invited me to an interview later that week. I drove 3 and a half hours to get to the interview, spent 2 and a half hours there, and drove back that same day (another 3.5 hours).

The next Monday, my new boss called to ask me back for a second interview. I met with a few different people (largely people that I won’t be working with — HR, the big boss, and one true co-worker/peer). My wife came with me on this trip and was able to tour the local area by car while I was in the interview. She looked at a few houses, and got a feel for the land (which I haven’t even really had the opportunity to do yet).

This past Monday, they called to offer me the job. It’s a great opportunity with a great company, and I’ve already decided to accepted it. I’ll start on December 2nd, but there are plenty of things to be done between now and then.

This morning, I’ll have the enviably job of telling my current boss (who’s a great guy) that I’m leaving, but that I’m trying to give him a month’s notice, accepting the offer that I’ve received, and taking care of a lot of other things like selling the house.

If you’re looking for a job selling advertising, that’s a great launch pad, let me know, and I can tell you more about my current job (which will be vacant in a month). They’re gonna need someone badly. The pay is good, but the company generally sucks big time. Only apply if you’re really just looking for a short-term place to increase your pocket book and your resume’s appearance.

Oh, and my house is for sale now… so if you live in North Texas, and want a great house at cost, give me a call. Heh… I’ve gotta move this house somehow.

That’s why Monday was so great. This thing just fell into my lap, and looks like its exactly where I want to be for the next 3-5 years.

[note: there were no posts yesterday or Monday afternoon due to a funeral in the family that I needed to concentrate on. My gramdmother past away last week.]

great day

It’s 9:38 am Central as I write this…

I just wanted to let everyone know that today is probably the second best day of my life so far. (the first being my wedding day). Fan-freaking-tastic day.

[more on the ‘why its a great day’ later… just wanted to share that with you all]

inluminent is:

its all in the eyesGooglism for: inluminent

inluminent is a wickedly cool weblog

inluminent is the blog for you

Glad to know that’s what someone thinks of this site 😉

[Later (on 10/30/2002): I added the direct link to the Googlism as it turns out you can hack the URL, but I wasn’t smart enough to figure it out.]

Office and XML = people will actually upgrade their version of Office

Simon Wilson’s theory on why Office 11 will include XML support seems quite plausible to me. I wouldn’t have upgraded to Office 2001 for Mac (and later Office v.X) if there wasn’t a really damn good reason to, and there was: the earlier versions of Office for Mac sucked major ass, and Mac OS X kicks major ass, making me want to work on Office natively under X instead of classic. Think I’ll need to upgrade Office again though? Probably not…

Google is Scary

This doesn’t need any comment from me:

No this is not some slight of hand or illusion, it works.

Google Scares Me. David Weinberger posts that Google.com can be capable of some very scary (and powerful) things. He suggests trying the following: “1. Go to google.com 2. Type in your phone number, in quotation marks 3. When it finds your name and address, click on “Maps” 4. You are here.” … [Lockergnome’s Bits and Bytes]

It’s scary enough on its own. Don’t tell my wife about this please.

[via My Interests]

more on referrer spam

Michael Kelly tells us that you can email the folks at mastodonte.com (not giving them another link) and ask them to remove your weblog from their database, and they say that they’ll never spam your referrer logs again…

… whatever, I just blocked their IP address, and will continue to check my referrers for spam. Like I’m going to give them the benefit of having my real email address to send spam to as well.

The comments on Michael’s post also point to this url http://referrer.mastodonte.com/ and say that their’s now an opt-out email address you can email directly.

Slow Down

In the latest I, Cringley column: The Case Against Professionalism Robert X. Cringely argues against professionalism, MBA’s, and so much more (though its just below the surface of his writing)

It is easy to forget that professionalism is the enemy of the high-tech startup. If these companies were operated by professionals, they would never have been founded. Nor would a professional tolerate the conditions necessary for startup survival. Michael Eisner never emptied a wastebasket at work, but I’ll bet Walt Disney did.

I’ll bet Mr. Disney did as well. Any entreprenuer has to do it all at some point… that’s the whole point of starting your own business… you get to have all the fun, even if that means you have to do some of the non-fun stuff. But, Cringley’s right. I bet the majority of ‘professionals’ don’t ever want to have to think about emptying the trash.

This is all a trick promulgated by people who do not in any way care about the company or its people. But visit most any business school and what I just described is taught in case studies as examples of good management. It is maximizing shareholder value, they’ll say.

Pity the poor MBAs, for they know not what they do, nor do they seem to care.

I agree with Cringley completely. The problems we see in any ‘good’ company is that most companies don’t have a long term game plan. I don’t mean a 10 year, or 20 year plan, I mean a 50 or 100 year vision. We as a people (society) don’t think that far ahead, so why should our companies.

Seeking short-term gains, we have sacrificed not just the futures of our enterprises, but also their characters. Often all that’s left is the logo.

And that’s the crux isn’t it? Quick return. More money now. That’s what it’s all about generally. The pressures are almsot all too heavy to even think about something more long term than this year, or this quarter for the majority of the companies (and thus the managers in them) that are out in front.

I think alot of these issues are really societal issues, not just business issues. People just live to fast these days… all of us. Stress comes from many different sources, and it all compacts itself in our woking lives, cause that’s where we spend most of our days.

We’ve got to figure out a way to slow things down at some point, for the good of our sanity, if for no other reason.

Amazing Athleticism

I’m watching some amazing athleticism from Anaheim right now…

Just finished eating a perfectly prepared and grilled New York Strip steak (if I may say so myself) and now I’m chilling on the couch watching a great baseball game.

This is what America is all about.

Tonight tells me yet again how much of a miserable failure Al Queda is.

Bringing an old iMac up-to-date

lovelyI spent the better part of this afternoon filing about 6 months of paperwork that’d been piling up in the home office (with my lovely wife’s help) while getting an old iMac Rev/B up to stuff for a buddy.

My buddy picked up this old iMac through the request I made for one a while back. He got it for a fair price, and it was in great physical condition. The specs of this machine are actually quite subpar for a power-user, but its primary user will be a teen-age girl that really only needs to be able to get online, do email, and print the occaisional paper for school. This machine will be perfect for her.

The machine was in pretty good condition, though I don’t think it had ever been opened up. It was quite dusty on the inside when I pried the back off of it, and pulled out the innards to install some more RAM (it still only had the original 32MB RAM chip in it). I fixed that by installing two 128MB chips bringing the machine up to 256MB as well as expending the better part of a can of compressed air getting all of the dust bunnies out of it. (My poor white Bichon Frise ended up sneezing for about 5 minutes cause he got in the path of the dust ‘exhaust’ from the other side of the machine. It was actually quite funny).

After getting the hardware up to date, I reformatted the 4GB 5400RPM ATA drive completely, mainly to give myself the piece of mind that I had a completely clean disk to work with. I installed Mac OS 8.5 from a disk I had laying around (I think this is what this machine shipped with, but haven’t actually opened up the software package that is in the bag my buddy got with the machine). I then surfed around Apple’s Support section where I found this document that explained what updates I might need to run to get this machine up to snuff software/firmware wise.

I ended up installing the iMac Firmware Update 1.2, then the iMac Update 1.1. I didn’t need the iMac CD Update 2.0 for some reason, but the computer knew it didn’t need it, so I didn’t worry about that one. I should probably installed the Apple Modem Updater 1.3.5, but from what I remember about that one, I didn’t need it on my own machine for some reason, so I think I’ll just tell my buddy he might need it if he notices problems. Lastly, I installed the USB Mass Storage Support 1.3.5 updater. I doubt they’ll need it, but it shouldn’t hurt to go ahead and get it installed for them, in case they do.

I then skipped the Mac OS 8.5.1 upgrade and installed Mac OS 9, then Mac OS 9.1, then 9.2.1, then 9.2.2 to bring it up to snuff OS wise. I didn’t want to install Mac OS X on this old 233MHz G3 processor, mainly because the graphics card is so old… and OS X really can use the extra power in the graphics card.

After getting all of the core software and other stuff up to date, I installed some software that the new owner bought: most notably Office 2001 for Mac. I also installed AOL Instant Messager, and a few other sharware apps. I also upgraded all of the freeware that comes on the machine like Internet Explorer, Outlook Express, and Netscape.

The trusty old Bondi iMac is now ready for its new owner, Claire, and I think she’ll love it (even if it is over 4 years old).

It’s nice to be able to help introduce someone to the wonders of Macintosh.

improve the morale… and why it’s important

great eyesThis last paragraph in What to Do When Morale is Low from CIO is really what would make me care about morale, if I were the one running a company, or in charge of a department of employees that don’t have good morale:

Bad morale is a very real, very serious problem that demands good leadership. The first step is to acknowledge the existence of a morale problem. If you make the effort to examine your management and communication skills and address a need for improvement, morale will go up and you’ll find yourself with a loyal, resilient staff that won’t bolt for the hills once the economy improves.

You see, morale surely affects someone’s productivity, and their groups output as well, but more importantly, long term morale problems make people start looking for alternative work environments. The economy may suck right now for most people, enough to keep them from finding a way out of their current predicament… but when the economy turns around, there will be nothing that can keep your best employees around, if they’ve suffered a long term morale problem.

People spend more than 70% of their waking day at work, or at least thinking about work, unless its ‘just a job’ to them. If they don’t enjoy that 70% of their time, then you can count on them looking for an alternative, or at least listening to an offer should one fall into their lap.

Wouldn’t you rather know that your employees were enjoying their jobs, and weren’t thinking about leaving?

The rest of the article tells you what to do to improve morale, but I think you’ve got to make sure you’re committed to actually doing that, and know why you should, before you make half-hearted attempts at doing it.

Executive Decision Support Systems

Can you share any guiding principals or “best practices” in the presentation of Key Performance Indicators to the senior executives of a corporation?

Yes.

[via bBlog]

Efficient sites are… lessons from JOHO

just imagineOverheard in the latest JOHO:

Efficient sites are reductive: they automate processes, eliminate unnecessary steps, and save time.

commenting on the DigitalID World conference.

Also, check out the “My Brain on the Net” Contest. Pretty smart.

And lastly, I learned that mensch isn’t a negative adjective.

Search Engines, Small Dollars, and Trust

VeronicaFound some interesting tidbits of information in this article: Paid listings the savior of online adveriting?

For instance:

Overture reported that [advertisers] paid an average of 30¢ every time someone clicked on an ad, up from an average rate the year before of 19¢.

Hmmm… my company just got done running an Overture campaign, our first advertising in 20 years of history, and we spent an average of $1.23 per click… pretty high, but not too high considering the industry that we’re in.

Take out the contribution from Overture and Yahoo’s other advertising revenue was flat to down.

Hmmm… sucks to be a Yahoo ad sales person, I guess? Is this true I wonder, or just a reporter making assumptions based on a 10-K report?

Yahoo said the addition of paid listings helped it attract a host of small and medium-sized businesses that don’t have the budget to buy expensive banner ads. Even as the rates go up, paid listings remain comparatively cheap. And, since they appear only to consumers who are already searching for information under a given topic, you are pretty much guaranteed that the people who see the ads have some interest in the product being pitched.

Precisely why I’ve personally been investigating starting a relationship with Amazing Media to sell our smaller dollar advertisers for us (automatically). They’ll allow my sales staff to focus on larger dollar advertisers, and still allow us to service the small dollar advertiser that wants to run somehwere on our site.

The more online companies embrace plain paid listings, the more they seem to be discarding the bells and whistles in their ads. AOL Time Warner’s America Online division has announced that in order to improve the user experience, it will eliminate most pop-up ads, which appear on the screen, blocking most of the page.

AOL’s decision to stop running pop-up ads on their service was a business decision, not a purely advertising sales decision. It’s got more to do with their (I’m assuming this) decision to value their subscriber revenue more than the paltry revenue they were seeing from pop-up banner ad sales. It has more to do with their decision to support their users than with an increase in online search engine paid listing revenues. They’re trying to earn their subscribers trust back, I think. Stupid Reuters for tying two things together and not getting some glue in there to hold the two ideas together.

“I’d say this is the main growth engine,” said Jim Lazone, VP of product development at Ask Jeeves. “This is where it is all heading.”

Lazone argued that it is not just the simplicity or the relatively low cost of paid listings that makes them so appealing. He said plain text ads just fit the Internet better than the moving images and mini-dramas featured in television ads.

“I don’t think everyone has woken up to this, but search is the number one activity online. The Internet is about information, not entertainment, and paid listings are congruent with that medium,” he said.

Sure search is the most performed activity online Mr. Lazone, but please realize that most of the searches performed online happen on Google, not on Ask Jeeves, which I personally haven’t visited in years.

I’ll say this now for anyone out there thinking about adding more advertising space to their search engine: As soon as people begin to mistrust the search engine’s results they’ll abandon that search engine. Search Engine companies should learn from the major online media companies (AOL) and realize that they need to stay true to their users. Trust is a fleeting thing on the ‘net.

Don’t loose it, cause you’ll never get it back.

90% reneral rate tells you what?

Spotted this quick tidbit for publishers of newsletters:

What a 90 percent renewal rate is telling you

Last summer we reported that a publisher at the NEPA conference was boasting about his 90 percent renewal rate (NL/NL 6/15/02), only to be told by another publisher, “That’s not good. That means your price is too low.”

Great truism.

Criminals deserve harsh punishment

I just want to point out that I’m glad they’ve found the snipers and hope they get the worst punishment our courts can dish out. Death by firing squad would suit me just fine. But not just a firing squad with good riles and accurate shooting. A firing squad with really old rickety rifles that don’t aim very well, so that they don’t get killed instantly. Maybe shoot them each once in the knees with iron bullets, so they’ll rust and infect their legs… and they’ll die from some horribly painful death, instead of instantly.

Then again, these two criminals deserve basically the same sort of punishment, in my opinion. Maybe a little faster death, but just as painful… not the white collar, relaxed sitting in a jail community room watching Jerry Springer that they’re likely to get.

And this guy deserves the worst punishment available.

do you find TV or radio interesting?

A non-marketing friend of mine writes this in his most recent journal entry:

Yesterday a woman called me with a survey, which I agreed to respond to. Among the questions was one for marketing purposes: “What’s your favorite radio and TV station?” I told her I never listened to the radio and didn’t get TV. She replied, “Oh, how… unexciting.” I smartly retorted, “What does the fact that you consider radio and television exciting components of your life say about it?”

She didn’t have a response. Heh.

Funny as hell and interesting at the same time.

The Hackability of a Mac – dual head on an iBook

elleThe hackability of a Macintosh still amazes me.

Not just because it can be done necessarily, but because there are now so many more people trying to figure out how to get their Macs to do exactly what they want them to.

Welcome to my world open source people.

Apple traditionally locks down the Mac OS and Mac Hardware pretty well, so that things can’t be hacked, but… on occaision someone will figure out how to hack their Mac.

This hack:

Use an extended dektop with your iBook (now with OS X support!)

… is from a traditional Mac guy, and is plain freakin’ awesome. I wish it didn’t have to be a hack, but I guess Apple had to make the PowerBook G4 more attractive than the iBook somehow, so this must have been one of the ways they decided to limit the features of the iBook, so as to justify the price differences.

[via Frank] [via MacOSXHints.com]

Friday fun – Sterotypes

Don’t think, just click:

Sterotypes

[via ambigous]

Faster Finder under OS X

Read here:

Maybe I’m the last person on the planet to know about this, but on a recommendation from macosxhints.com, I went into Finder Preferences and unchecked every language, even English, under “Languages for searching file contents.” All of a sudden the Finder’s performance sucks much, much less. (I’m using a 500mhz iBook with only 320 MB of RAM, not one of them dang hot-rods like you kids have.) I think I’ve asked the Finder to search within a range of files perhaps twice since adopting OS X; I’m much more liable to use grep. So this is a feature-for-performance trade-off I’m happy to make.

— Patrick Nielsen Hayden

No, Patrick, you’re not the last person to know about it.

referrer advertising?

I call it spamming:

http://ad.mastodonte.com/

I hate that I might have to parse more shit from my referrers everyday… more and more shit… this isn’t marketing, it’s called spamming.

[later] You know what I just thought of? I can block their IPs, that’ll teach them.

favorite FAQ Answer

towel anyone?This from the Mailsmith FAQ:

1. Why don’t you support [insert favorite features here]

Our initial hope had been to release Mailsmith as a version 4.0 product. However, this turned out to be an unrealistic goal and we instead released Mailsmith 1.0 😉

So, we weren’t able to put all of the features we would have wanted in Mailsmith 4.0 into the first release. That said, we do plan/hope to add new features to Mailsmith for years to come. Many of these will be features currently in other mail clients but not in Mailsmith 1.0. However, many of them will also be features which are entirely new to the world of email clients.

Mailsmith is a wonderful email client from Bare Bones, and I love their FAQ. The above Q&A has to be the most fun answer I’ve ever seen from a developer regarding the question of features. Too funny.

Movable Type Licensing

A while ago I recommended to Scott the use of Movable Type. He said that he’d looked into it, but that he’d decided against it because the licensing was too odd. He wasn’t sure if he could use the ‘free’ license for individuals, or if he had to buy the corporate license (at $150). It also seems unclear if these licenses will ever change in the future.

Today, I read a post on Rasterweb mentioning the same thing, but this post brings out specific examples of seeming violations to the ‘free license.’

I’m sure that lots of people are technically violating the ‘free license’ that I downloaded MT under, but I did donate twice the normal amount, and the accepted it, so does that make us even?

I’d really like to see an individual license that cose $40 from the for people that want to put revenue generating links on their site… It’d be useful for little people like me.

[via nfo]

hilarious switch parody

too true:

“What the fuck?”

[via Daring Fireball]

Windows IT + Bugbear = fun

sucks to be an IT guyIt must really suck to be a Systems Admin for a Windows based company. I mean really suck.

My company employs around 100 people. We probably have 110 – 150 total desktop systems installed throughout the building, plus a dedicated server room with anywhere from 10 – 25 servers. All of the machines in the building are running some flavor of Windows except for 4 Macs. There are 3 Macs in the Graphics/Art department and one in my office (I know, I’m a lucky bastard, but I had to bitch long and hard to get it).

Anyways… at 3:30 pm today, I was surfing CNN.com, looking for advertisers to go after (prospecting) and Norton Antivirus popped up a little warning window. It said something like:

Norton Antivirus has detected a Virus.

[some cryptic code for] Bugbear has been detected in this file:

C:\LONG\Ass\PATH\to\some\Printer\spool\file.xyz

This file cannot be cleaned.

[OKAY BUTTON]

(I added the URL above, it wasn’t hyperlinked in the window)

I thought, “hmm, probably ought to call the IT guy.” So I called him, told him my problem, and he told me to “just click OK.” So I did. Another warning came up, and he told me to click OK again. I did. He then said that I probably wouldn’t be able to print until they cleaned the computer.

I went ahead and ran Norton’s Live Update command, which should make sure that I’m totally up to date. I then started a system scan on my entire hard drive after closing all of my files and programs. About a minute into the scan the IT guy’s assistant (I guess we’ll call him the mini-IT guy, though, he’s not really ‘mini’ in any sense of the word) called and said “John, we need you to shut down your comptuer. It’s trying to print to every machine on the network.” I said “sure thing… no problem” and shut down my computer.

Not more than 5 minutes later, our entire network was down. They pulled the physical connection to our T-1’s and effectively stopped all work at the office. At this point, it was about 3:45 pm. In 15 minutes, the entire company came to a halt. All because someone wasn’t being diligent, or didn’t have time to be diligent.

They still hadn’t gotten to the bottom of things when I left the office, but they still did’t know how the virus got into our network. They were pretty sure it didn’t originate with my computer, but they aren’t absolutely positive yet. They were really busy going through all of our servers trying to ensure that things were working and were clean on those when I left, so that we can actually operate as a company. I’m sure they’ll be there for a while. There are only two of them, and I have no idea what their plan for ensuring that all of the desktop workstations are clean will be, but you can believe I won’t be turning on my PC tomorrow (which really sucks, as that’s where all of my email and documents are… I only use the Macintosh to test advertising campaigns and surf the web generally).

It must really suck to be a Windows IT person.

[ps. I was able to continue working by turning to the Mac, booting up Excel and working on some calculations that I needed to work on for a project I’ve been working on every few days anyways. Beware the Bugbear. Buy a Mac]

Eureka! Great Weblog Found

smileHal Malcomber’s weblog “Reforming Project Management” is just plain fucking awesome. I say that because I learn something new everyday by reading it. No new post today on the weblog? No problem, read the archives. Read and soak it up. That’s what you can do with Hal’s weblog.

It’s like buying a super absorbent sponge. But instead of buying one for $7.99 at a boutique store, I feel like I’m buying them in bulk for 50¢ a piece for 144. A super-freakin-sponge or something like that.

Take this post about a Panel that Hal was on recently:

Question:

“How do you [flow] down the passion and responsibility we see in all of you to your staff members?”

Answers:

• “Give them the accountability to act on their own.”

• “Speak the vision [often].”

• “Match company metrics and rewards to project goals.”

• “Talk to people daily [about their role on the project].”

• “Leadership and enthusiasm are contagious.”

• “Help people understand they are building [something special], not just doing a job.”

You can just about apply that to any situation where you’re the leader… or perhaps where you’re not the leader through ‘bottom-up mentorship.’

Simply amazing business lessons… and I would have bought the book if he were selling one, I’m sure.

IDG is so screwed

John Gruber’s analysis of the current IDG-Apple pissing match is dead on in my opinion. Read it here.

Spent the Day Downtown

I reported to the main court-house juror’s area this morning promptly at 8:30 am. On the way in I thought I’d be late, because the security guard had no idea what an iPod was and I had to connect the headphones and let him listen to it before he believed me that it was just an MP3 player (while it may be more than that, I didn’t want to strech it with this guy). After he listened to a minute or so of Eminem he let me pass with the iPod. (Sidenote: Apple may have sold a lot of these iPods, but the average American still doesn’t know anything about them.)

After sitting through about an hour and a half of waiting and listening to the local governmental agency information about being a juror, my name was finally called for a jury pool. I had to fill out a questionaire, and then was told that I was to report to the designated court room at 1:30. 1:30? “Shit, there goes the day” I thought (The house is 45 minutes away. The office is 45 minutes away.) Then I thought, well, at least I’m downtown, I’ll hit the Starbucks and get online.

I ended up spending the morning totally un-connected from the internet. It’s amazing to me that downtown Fort Worth doesn’t have a well known public wireless access point. No one had one, nor could they tell me where one was avaialble… I was willing to pay for one even. No luck:

I went to the Flagship Barnes and Nobles on Sundance Square thinking that their Cafe would have wireless access since it’s affiliated with Starbucks, but I was wrong.

I went over to the locally owned and operated CoffeHaus… no internet.

I went to the main Public Library in downtown. They offered public internet access but only on outdated Windows computers with only web (http) access to anything. No public ethernet jacks, or wireless access. Not even a public phone jack I could use to dial-up on my Earthlink account.

I thought about walking around the Square with my laptop in my hands using MacStumbler to hopefully find an access point, then thought better of that idea. While it’d be cool to find an access point, my hopes were already dashed, and I was pressed for time.

So, I found a little chair and table in the downtown Tandy Center Outlet Mall (or whatever it’s called), set up my iPod, and worked on some stuff that I could do offline.

Ugh.

At about 1:00 I headed back over to the courthouse.

[later] It’s 4:30 now and I just got out of the courthouse… wasn’t selected for jury duty. Whew… looked like this one was going to take a few weeks. Sucks to be those jurors.

Jury Duty today

lovelyI’ve been selected to serve my local municipality today as a juror. Postings will be light unless I get lucky and no one shows for court, at which point I’ll come home (no, not go to work) and get to work on some stuff that needs my attention and isn’t at all related to my current job.

the new site is live, but not public

So, we’ve tentatively launched our new marketing blog, but I’m not telling you what the URL is… I’m saying this so that I can make good on my promise to launch a site on Monday. We launched it, but not publicly 😉

It’s coming though… promise…

People suck sometimes

Just ask Rob Peol.

RSS Feed validation

Mark Pilgrim points out this RSS Feed Validator

Thanks to the validator’s Movable Type RSS Templates my RSS 2.0 feed validates as does my RSS 1.0 feed.

Do yours?

Quit pulling RSS feeds so much

HeidiAfter reading this post about RSS feeds and costs from Mark Pilgrim, I’ve decided to stop pulling RSS feeds every 30 minutes with NetNewsWire. I was pulling them so often so that I could stay up to date, but, it’s really not that neccessary to pull them that often, so, I’m decided to do my part to save everyone some cash. I’m now pulling RSS feeds once every 4 hours…

… and, actually, I’ll be checking my blogroll more often than that, so that’s enough for me to stay up to date, I think.

(btw, if you have a blog, and aren’t pinging weblogs.com when you update, I’ll probably only read your site once a week or at most once per day, cause you’ll never show up with an “*” next to your site in my blogroll. The “*” denotes that the site was recently updated with a ping to weblogs.com)

Local Advertising Spending Going Up

I just read the latest print version of AdWeek this morning (ok, I skimmed it) and it mentioned that Local Advertising spending was up 2.5% this year over last… which is good news.

Steve Hall points to an iMediaConnection post about a Jupiter Report that says that it’ll grow more next year. The interesting thing is that “local online ad spending grew 34 percent” this year over last year. AdWeek didn’t tell me that.

SEO matters

“Search engine optimization/marketing matters.”

Or, at least that’s the conclusion that Sherpa has come to after reading a report from iProspect. Go read some of the details.

Meetings don’t have to be worthless

ashleyFrom Hal Malcolmber:

“Each week the 17+ trades foremen come together to plan with each other what they will have their crews do in the up-coming week. The meeting takes the same form from one week to the next. They start by reviewing the current week’s planning performance. How much of what they said they would do did they get done? For every case that they didn’t complete as promised they perform a five why analysis so they can investigate the source of the plan failure. They follow this conversation by reviewing the next six weeks of the plan looking particularly at those issues (constraints) that could keep them from performing as desired. People step-up to address the constraints to the plan making promises. Finally, the foremen say what they will do for the coming week. Negotiations occur to resolve where two crews may want to work in the same area at the same time (much like two programmers both wanting to check out code at the same time). They end the meeting with a new plan for the coming week based on the informed commitments of the people closest to the work.”

I find it amazing that true project management happens at this level… that is to say “at the working man’s level”

… and I can’t even get my boss’s bosses to commit to anything most of the time …

Amazing.

Color Schemes

I’ve been working on color schemes for the new marketing venture. One of the contributors recommended we come up with a new color scheme using this online color scheme software.

It’s too cool (expecially for a non-design oriented guy like myself), so I figured I’d blog it.

.htaccess lessons for me

I had to figure out some Apache stuff today, so that I could password protect a web directory for the new group weblog I’m working on with a few other collaborators (we’ll be covering marketing issues and the like) so I asked our sysadmin for some help, and read a few tutorials.

[note: I realize most of you won’t need to read these quick tutorials, but I might need them again someday, so I’m ‘blogmarking’ them (sort of like bookmarking, but always available to me, no matter where I am physically).]

· http://faq.clever.net/htaccess.htm
· http://www.javascriptkit.com/howto/htaccess.shtml
· http://apache-server.com/tutorials/ATusing-htaccess.html

Once I complete the first tutorial’s directions, it wasn’t working as I’d hoped (it’s never as easy as it seems). So Apokalytik helped me figure out that I needed to modify the “Directory” part of the httpd.conf file:

<Directory>
    AllowOverride None
    Options None
</Directory>

became:

<Directory>
    AllowOverride ALL
    Options ALL
</Directory>

Then I had to make a symlink for htpasswd in the /usr/bin directory, which Apokalytik showed me how to do.

After I added the .htaccess and .htpasswd file and restarted apache, all was good, and the directories are now protected.

I love Mac OS X because the built in terminal + airport let me do all of this from the comfort of my couch…

[updated: 10/5/2003] FYI, the htpasswd manual page from the Apache documentation is a useful page to have bookmarked, if you forget how to set a password.

Completely public email

CamdenI work at a company where the stated email policy is effectively:

“We can read your email at any time for any reason, and furthermore, can decide to fire you if we don’t like what we read.”

I hate that policy, but live with it, because in exchange for that priviledge they pay me. But the question of public email is even more interesting to me.

In case you don’t read Ben Hammersley’s weblog, I thought I’d point out that he’s been toying with the idea of publishing his email as a public RSS feed for a couple of days.

Ben is a journalist, and there has been a lot of talk recently in that realm about ‘full disclosure’ to the public. Many writers get many perks such as free hardware and/or software for reviewing, free trips to press junkets, and more. The question seems to be ‘should writers have to disclose this sort of information’ to the public, which leads us down a more slippery slope of ‘should a writer have to disclose everything to the public?’

I’d have to answer “no.”

I don’t want to know where writers got their background information, especially if that will close down those sources of information, which is what Ben’s sources told him will happen (effectively) if he publishes his email in RSS a public RSS feed.

He’s decided not to publish it, so that he continues to get his information from inside sources. I applaud his decision, as it helps me learn more, through him, from his sources.

That’s the job of journalism. Inform … but not too much 😉

Refer from Textism

Textism announces the availability of Refer, a new PHP/MySQL based Referrer tracking and display tool. I haven’t checked it out yet, but it looks cool.

workin my ass off

I worked my ass off today on some PHP/MySQL customizing the shit out of one of the free CMS engines I’m familiar with… getting a new site ready to launch on Monday.

I’m sure I could have done more today, if we got started earlier, but we didn’t and thus I didn’t.

Tomorrow will be a busy ass day… but I think the payoff on Monday will be worth it. I’ll tell you more on Monday…

New plugin added to inluminent/weblog

Just added David Raynes MTSearch plugin to the right sidebar of the site. Now I can see what’s being searched for, and others can too.

[via lovelinks]

Reference Material: Referrer Linking

Thanks to pixelcharmer for pointing me to this list of referrer links information by IAWiki.

Words are your friends

isn't she wholesome?“If it’s worth doing… it’s worth doing right” is a saying I like to try and live by.

Gerry McGovern’s article “Words make your website a success” is an excellent read for anyone in the design or content publication field.

“Many people don’t really care about the words they use. They shower them on a page like they would flick dandruff off a coat collar. This disdain is particularly evident on the Web. Trillions of words are published on millions of websites. Much of this publishing is of appalling quality.”

“Content is nothing without a clarity of thinking, a capacity for communication, and a way with style.”

“You simply can’t automate the creation of quality content.”

All great points, and a great article.

[via Usable Help]

If I lived in San Fran…

…I’d want to live and work here. Would you like to?

Find an investor and send them to the Trust.

According to the SFGate, they’re looking for investors to do some remodeling to get some of the buildings into shape.

Talk about an awesome place to live and work.

Anne Holland on email publishing

The Email Publisher’s Workshop, put on by MarketingSherpa, this past week looks like it was a blast. Anne’s team , published some notes, as well as a full transcript, which I’d highly recommend to anyone publishing email newsletters, or using email for business in any form or fashion. The presenters and attendees were all professionals in this field, and there is doubtfully no better place to get this much knowledge in one concise form. The Sherpa team is always a great resource. If you hurry, it looks like you can save $20 off the transcript.

[note: no, this wasn’t a paid ad… I just really like what Sherpa puts out, and want to see them succeed.]

I’m sure the next one (October 2003) will be even better. Put this conference into your 2003 budget if you can… I’m sure you’ll learn something if you attend, and Anne’s a great person to get on your side if you’re looking for PR in this field.