Monthly Archive for November, 2002

Happy Thanksgiving

Just a quick wish to all for a Happy Thanksgiving… (non-American’s enjoy the rest of the week).

I’m about to jump on a plane bound for Las Vegas for a not so traditional holiday with some of the better parts of my family.

Enjoy the rest of the week… posts will likely be light if at all.

(Though if I win big, you’ll hear about it on Monday.)

How to Pick an SEO Firm

Triumph?  I'd say.Robert Loch, another fellow MFer, points us to this page on google.com where Google tells us all how to pick an SEO firm. Robert’s right when he says “Google – a company that really knows how to talk to its audience.” Google is all about class in my book.

They give these nine quick tips (with more information on their page):

  • Be wary of SEO firms that send you email out of blue.
  • No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.
  • Be careful if a company is secretive or won’t clearly explain what they intend to do.
  • You should never have to link to an SEO.
  • Some SEOs may try to sell you the ability to type keywords directly into the browser address bar.
  • Choose wisely.
  • Be sure to understand where the money goes.
  • Talk to many SEOs, and ask other SEOs if they would recommend the firm you’re considering.
  • Make sure you’re protected legally.

As well as tell people what to do if they think they’ve gotten scammed by an SEO firm.

Classy.

Once again, Google shows what a great company can and should do for its customers (even the ones that aren’t paying).

Mac Guide to Unix (the Mac flavor that is)

Tidbit’s latest issue includes this, well, tidibt: A Mac User’s Guide to the Unix Command Line, Part 1 by Kirk McElhearn.

It’s pretty basic, but you gotta start somewhere right? I’m looking forward to more in this series. Hopefully it’ll gradually step me up past the basic stuff and onto the more fun stuff. I’ve really never found a good *nix tutorial on all of the command line stuff out there, yet.

Mozilla 1.2 Released

Mozilla 1.2 has been released. Changes posted in the Release Notes.

“Java compatability with Mac OS 10.2 (Jaguar)” sounds like the big improvement for Mac OS X users, cool, it’s true, it’s been fixed. More stable for me upon initial use. Download recommended.

XServe selling point is service

From NewsFactor: Blueprint for Apple XServe Rollout.

…the company’s service and support may be the deciding factor in a company’s decision to switch.

Each Xserve comes with a three-year unlimited license agreement, and for less than US$1,000, Xserve purchasers can add a three-year “AppleCare Premium Service and Support” contract. This low-end service package includes 24/7 phone and e-mail support, as well as next-day on-site service, no matter the time or location of the server. In many cases, four-hour on-site response is possible, according to the company.

Adams said those service offerings are hard to touch, especially given the low fee. And Apple also supports applications like Apache and sendmail as part of its service package. “You can’t get support very easily for these and other well-known open applications [from most other vendors] unless you purchase a maintenance and support contract in addition to [the other vendor’s] platform.”

Sounds good to me, but it’s still yet to be proven if Apple really has a winner with the XServe, or if they’re knocking on the wrong doors with the wrong product.

Business Idea – Wireless at the Car Wash

veronicaI took my Jetta to the car wash today. It’s pretty dirty after 5 trips to Austin and back (3 hours drive each way) over the past 2 weeks and it’s cold as hell outside, so I’d rather pay someone to clean it than do it myself. I also figured I could get some work done while I waited, so, I brought my laptop with me.

I pulled up to the guy that takes your order, told him I wanted a full cleaning… shampooing the seats and the carpets, armor all throughout, hand wax, etc… After he took my $150, he told me it’d take an hour and a half, so I walked over to the Starbucks (two long blocks away) and ordered a Venti Americano. I paid $2.50 for a cup of coffee and spent 2 hours at the Starbucks surfing the web with my T-Mobile account.

I walked back to the car wash to find out that it was probably going to be another hour or so. I’m a little frustrated by that, but also not totally put out… I can still get some work done, but just think, if they had a wireless connection here at the car wash. I’d probably get the more expensive $150 complete detail more often. The wireless service would get more people to pop for longer services (read more expensive services) as they could be productive during that time.

So, I’d propose to all full-service car wash companies that they start adding wireless services to their lobbies. I’m sure they could get the same sort of contract that Starbucks from T-Mobile, and if there’s a large enough chain, they can make more money off of their customers… convenience is worth it in today’s day and age. Think about it: $2.50 for a cup o’ Joe vs. $150 for a car wash. I spent the same amount of time at both places…

Follow Up to the Reel Truth

After reading my post on two advertising industry parodies, Steve Hall, fellow MFer, sent me an email about his post on the Reel Truth parodies that he posted on Sunday. His post pretty much sums up the greatness that these two segments are. Check it out.

Managers Setting Up Employees to Fail?

rachelI just sat down and finally picked up the November 2002 issue of Business 2.0. I’ve made it to page 28, where I found this amazing article:

How Your Boss Is Hexing You an interview with Jean-Francois Manzoni, coauthor of The Set-Up-to-Fail Syndrome.

The questions are dead on, but the answers are even more telling. Go read it, it’s quick.

I don’t know that I can say I’ve ever been in the position when my ‘manager’ or boss was setting me up to fail, but I can say that I’ve had bosses that were being set up to fail by their bosses, or at least that’s how it seemed to me at the time. Hind-sight is always 20/20, but I can’t say for sure that I’ve really ever paid enough attention to this sort of phenomenon to say that I’ve seen it in person. I’m sure it happens though, for any number of reasons.

If you like the quick interview, you might like the book: The Set-Up-to-Fail Syndrome: How Good Managers Cause Great People to Fail or subscribing to Business 2.0.

I’ll have to keep this in mind in my future jobs.

wanna work in advertising?

I don’t think I ever said this when I was 12:

When I Grow Up I Want to Work in Advertising

ROFLMAO. In fact, I’m sure I never said it.

[via What Do I Know]

Also see:

The Reel Truth

[via Sam in the comments]

Moveable Type Optimization

Anders Jacobsenís Optimizing Movable Type series is a phenomenal read for all Movable Type users looking to get the most out of their MT installation.

You’ll find great tips, and the reasons to implement them too. Things like Category XML feeds, Meta tags (a quick hack), get more readers (tips on how to do just that), More “Googlejuice”, and more. There are a couple of posts that are pre-MT 2.5, but they are all still worth reading…

Enjoy.

[via markpasc.org]

Two Cool Interviews

ChiaraI’ve got little time right now, but I really need to come back and read these interviews:

Brewster Kahle, creator of the Wayback Machine

Maryam Mohit, V.P. of Site Development at Amazon.com

Good Stuff.

[via angiemckaig.com]

High Tech Move

In Scott’s post “Vignettes of a High Tech Move” I can see so many things that the wife and I are going through right now with our own move… for instance I just found my first HP calculator in an old box. Too funny the way our worlds collide and we’ve never really even met. This blogging thing is kind of interesting like that.

dns stuff

Lots of good, fast, free utilities here:

http://www.dnsstuff.com/

…for those times when you don’t have your own machine with all your own tools installed on them.

The Worst Part

good riddanceIt’s 2:52 pm on Friday, November 22nd.

I’ve been sitting in my office and in my boss’s office on an off all day. When I was in my own office, I was surfing the web, or otherwise screwing off. I’ve handed everything off to my boss at this point. When I was in his office I was answering questions, trying to get as much information into his hands as possible.

At lunch, there was a small ‘going away’ party thrown for me across the hall in another department.

I spent a bit of time today chatting with our network/sysadmin dude. He gave me a copy of the new Audioslave CD (it kicks ass). We also spoke a bit about some of the problems with this company.

The worst part of leaving the company is knowing that I built a solid little piece of the company that’ll die shortly after I leave. I personally sold $1.2 Million in advertising space in the course of one year. I effectively doubled (close to trippled) their online sales in that year. (I’ve been here for 18 months, but wasn’t allowed to actually sell anything for the first 6 months… corporate politics stupidity). But, I worked hard. Harder than most at this organization, I’d say.

My boss just told me a few things that make me think the company will have to out-source their ad sales department, completely and will likely do so in the next two months. Out-sourcing means two things to me:

1. The ad sales performance for the company will likely be cut in half. Most networks take somewhere between 30% and 50% of the revenue.

2. The advertiser quality will likely suffer, as networks, while good for remnant invetory on a publisher’s site, are horrible as first contact sales persons, in general. They have to be. They aren’t inside the company, so they’re limited in what they can truly offer advertisers… it’s a cost benefit anaylsis thing. It’s too expensive for the networks to really go after heavy hitter advertsers for premium CPMs.

Anyways, its disheartening to think that something I really tried to build is going to fail because I wasn’t able to support it before I left… but then again, it’s not really my fault its going to die if someone else decides to kill it because they’re too busy to think about saving it.

It’s 3:47 pm and I’m walking out of this office in less than 15 minutes.

the tribulations of being a Mac Gamer

NoSuch does a wonderful job of explaining why its tough to be a Mac Gamer, and how he overcame his need for immediate gratification by paying for a lot of stuff to have it ‘right now’ … heh… I’ve been there before, but one of the benefits of living in Texas is that Dallas is home to so many Mac game publishers, and Austin’s got two of them… I can always get a game I want ‘right now’ with a phone call or two.

(hmmm… I wonder what brought Mac game publishing to Texas?)

Google Page Rank — short how-to with some examples

Interesting developments at Google: Google’s got a secret all want to know

There’s a new corporate secret out there that’s as closely guarded as Kentucky Fried Chicken’s original recipe and Coca-Cola’s soft-drink formula. It’s the method Google Inc. uses for ranking Internet search results.

A top ranking on Google counts, because being high on the list when a user types in a particular keyword search is as good as creating a massive billboard promoting a Web site.

[via the best internet marketing resource out there: marketingfix, thank you very much]

If you ask me there are plenty of ways to get your Google Page Rank up.

tennis anyone? gotta love Joy BehrmanThe easiest way to think about getting your Page Rank up is that the process is just like building a brand new retail store in any locality.

The first thing you have to evaluate is location. Where to put the store? A lot of that answer depends on what kind of store you’re building. What kind of foot traffic do you want? Lots of buyers or lots of shoppers? Getting a great location is the equivalent of getting a great domain name. The majority of the really good ones are gone (I got stuck with inluminent of all things) but you can still find one. We found MarketingFix.com not more than a month ago. So, find a good location. It should be closely related to the topic that you’ll be writing about, or the product that you’ll be branding (selling).

The second step in building a retail store is to become the place that people go to shop for the products you’re selling. Not just a place, but the place. In the web that means: become an authority on the subject that you’re writing about, or the product you’re selling if you’re an e-commerce type of site.

Ok, that may over-simplify what I’m trying to make a point of here, but think about that local resource you had in your hometown that you always thought of when you needed something? It might be your local hardware store that had that old guy that could answer any question your dad had about fixing something… it might have been the local flower shop and the gardener that could tell you how to grow your favorite plant… it might have been the local meat market butcher that could tell a good cut of steak from a cheap one. Those were your local ‘authorities’. The web has them too: C|Net, NYTimes.com, WSJ.com are all ‘authorities’ online. I bet in your field of writing, or in the market that you’re selling into, there are authorities too. Your goal should be to become on too… a way to do that is to write content that’s relevant and useful to people and have those other authorities link to you, effectively giving you a reference in the digital world. Become an authority, get more people to link to you. Get better people to link to you for authoritative reasons.

Wanna know the fastest way to get Google to crawl your website? I’ve never submitted inluminent/weblog to any search engines. They found me through a link from Scott’s FuzzyBlog! they day after I launched this weblog. I’m sure of that. A link from another site with some decent traffic will do wonders for your search engine crawl rate. Guaranteed.

The third is to just keep building your business. Steady and strong… you’re not going to be an overnight success, but you will be the market leader if you continue to build your business based on sound principles. The same goes for the web. Continue to write about your subject. Update your homepage, and content as frequently as you can with new and relevant information. Search engines like fresh content, not just because its fresh, but because as you present new and fresh content, more people will spread the word about your new content, effectively increasing your level of ‘authority’ on that subject.

The last principle in building a retail store is to use avaialble technology to build efficiencies… In the web linking world, what we’re talking about is to use technology to play the search engine’s game. A few tips, but by all means not an exhaustive list:

  1. Don’t use dynamic URLs. If you use a dynamic content management system, use something like mod_rewrite with Apache or ISAPI_Rewrite if you’re using IIS to serve your web pages. It’s a little more work than just using the stock CMS I’m sure, but it’ll be worth it in the long run.
  2. Put your keywords in the URL of the web page. Click the ‘date’ posted below for this story. Notice that the URL will also look a lot like the title of the web page you’re on? That’ll help you’re page rank some.
  3. Put your keywords in the <TITLE> tags of the web page. Again, that dynamic CMS can do it, just take a little work.

There are more things you can do to help your Page Rank, and I’ll get them all together in on coherent article someday… hopefully with better analogies too (note: I know absolutely nothing about building a retail store. Nothing.)

It really all comes down to principles, ethics and doing the right thing. If you do that, and continue to do that all the time, no one can fault you, and generally, Google will like you. Try to cheat and you’re only screwing yourself.

Some examples of high results listings:

MN500 (#1 result)

     also see: microsoft mn500 (take that Microsoft). (just look at the page that google sends people to… see the referrers at the bottom?)

“starting a shareware business” (#1 – not bad, considering O’Reilly published the articles)

Apple iPhone Rumor (#4)

moveable type templates (#4)

ctrl-alt-del does not work windows xp (#4 – not too shabby for a Macintosh focused site)

XP Tip (#9)

This one’s too funny not to point out:

“i shop at tom thumb” (only result — who searched for that I wonder?)

Sometimes I think I should be a consultant on this sort of thing… then I realize I may not really know what I’m talking about… this might all just be a fluke.

Tomorrow’s the last day

Ok, I think I’ve given my old boss as much ammo as I can so that he can at least try to carry on with a one man advertising sales department on his own for a few weeks. I feel sorry for him. He’s a fantastic guy working his ass of for an idiot. I just hope he wakes up and smells the coffee soon.

The writing is on the wall. I saw it 6 months ago. The company I’m leaving is going down the shitter and there’s nothing anyone can do to fix it because the owner is the main reason that it’s going to happen.

Mark my words, if something big doesn’t happen in the next 6 months to get the owner to realize how fucked up his company is, it’ll be dead in 2 years. Another dot com bust that wasn’t originally a dot com, but rather picked up the XXX.com name after it became popular, and has subsequently tried to downplay it in their marketing materials… ok, so they don’t really have any marketing materials either… in their logo on their website and magazine, and even then, not consistently.

2 years. Come back in 2 years and I’ll tell you where I worked and if I was right, and if not, why I was wrong. (Some of you know where I work, and if you’re a competitor that should be good news to you, though from my positions, it’s pretty sad).

You see, I think the owner of my company is tired of it. He’s been running the business like a hobby… one that makes him plenty of money mind you (he paid himself $2,000,000 last year or so) but still, just a hobby. There’s no overall plan, or if there is he sure as hell hasn’t sold his employees on it. There’s no cohesion (I’m leaving and couldn’t be happier) and there’s no sense of greater good amongst the rank and file.

So, I’ve done my duty to them. I’ve traded labor for pay, and I’m moving on. Tomorrow’s the last day at the office, and it’s off to a new life… woohoo!

(ps. any competitors out there might find my knowledge worthy of compensation in a consultative role for a short period of time… muwahahaha)

(pps. no, I wouldn’t honestly consider selling my knowledge of this company… that would be unethical and probably illegal consider the boilerplate confidentiality agreements I signed, but if the $$$ is right, and I can spend the rest of my life in someplace like the Caribbean, I’d probably think twice about it)

(ppps. now that I think about it… some of my client’s might have stumbled across this site too… now that would be funny. The writing is on the wall, but it’s still a great website to advertise on for the time being.)

Apple Store coming to the Pacific Northwest

At one point in my life I lived in (or at least near) Seattle, Washington. I interviewed with a few local companies up there as I was leaving the miltary and had a few good offers, but wasn’t sold on living in the state (due to many reasons both good and bad). It’s nice to hear [via Glenn] that the Pacific Northwest (home to fantastic salmon, artisans galore, and stupid politicians) is getting an Apple Store, mainly because it’s sort of a thumb in the face of Redmond, and i have always wondered how long that would take to happen.

The promise, and the reality

Everyone knows that Apple has adopted BlueTooth as the wireless answer to USB. They’ve embraced it and have put a lot of marketing dollars behind it. I’m happy about this, but still have yet to think about how it might affect me, although having my printer on bluetooth and my scanner on it might be cool, though they’d likely still need to be plugged in to a wall outlet somewhere so they can get enough power to do what they do… About the coolest thing I have that I could use wireless on would be my iPod, but it’s not neccessary.

Anyways, the promise is that people can integrate their digital hardware using wireless technologies like BlueTooth and Airport and whatever marketing name they come up with for these new technologies. I think Apple can do this well, mainly because they’re the only ones that own the whole widget still. That gives them a leg up, sort of…

But, Microsoft is trying with products like the Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop for Bluetooth (great name eh? realy catchy… typical MS). The promise is still there, until today.

Sadly, I read Matt’s blog posts about his experiences (read trials and tribulations) with his new fangled MWODfB (great acronym I know – blame Microsoft for the product name, not me) here, here and then…

wait for it…

the reality… here.

Sounds like a great idea. Copy Apple, use their PR wave to create your own product, and then louse up the execution. Typical Microsoft. Wait for Service Pack 1 for the MWODfB if you’re in the market. Or, as Matt points out, wait for someone like Logitec to come out with a real product…

Sorry it didn’t work out Matt.

(one more reason to stay away from Windows)

Recommended Reading

Thanks Mark:

http://diveintomark.org/newdoor/recommend.cgi?url=http://inluminent.com/weblog/

I dig it.

[via fozbaca]

15 Minute Guide to Austin

St. Eds...My best friend from highschool just sent me this in an email… it’s hilarious. Andy, can you lend any insight into half of what he’s referring to?

Here’s my 15 minute guide I just constructed for you…

First, take the wife to Romeo’s (1500 Barton Springs) for a romantic, relatively inexpensive meal once y’all get into town.

You: order the Arrabbiatta.

The wife: I don’t know what she likes to eat. But their food is good, atmosphere is nice – you’ll like it.

Very mafia-like [some trip we took in high school where we ate at Birra Pirretti’s comes to mind]

Or if you wanna dump some coin, go to Jeffrey’s (West Lynn [I think] maybe 12th st.) or Si Bon (S. Lamar near Oltorf). Don’t order the Osso Buco at Jeffrey’s though… tasted like venison to me.

Be sure to tour east 7th street around 2:30 a.m.

Be sure to tour east Riverside around 2:30 a.m

Learn Spanish.

Go ahead and forget how to drive now. Everyone else has. Austin, though great, is a melting pot. Nobody who lives in Austin is from Austin… you have aggro drivers from Houston [and any other large metro city] and conservative drivers from… wherever conservative people drive – I dunno, I learned to drive in Houston – it’s ugly man. Austin’s highway infrastructure is pretty fucked up [I-35 mainly]. You have 50 ft. entrance ramps w/ NO merge lane. It’s close your eyes and hang on or wait for someone who’s “yeilding” on an entrance ramp. It’s scary.

Don’t become a warehouse district snob.

(long post, the rest is in the “more” part…)
Continue reading ’15 Minute Guide to Austin’

WTF? my rant about Yahoo! Hotjobs

So, I get this email from hotjobs.com yesterday saying that I need to sign up for a yahooID to access my hotjobs.com account. I thought about it for maybe 5 minutes, then decided “fuck them… I don’t need no stinkin’ hotjobs” and deleted the email.

Today, I get home, and I had received an email from Yahoo! with the subject line “Yahoo! Newsletter, November 2002” and I’m thinking, what the fuck is this?

I surely didn’t read the email, but I did look at the bottom and find this:

“You received this email because the account information for jengler8415 indicates that Yahoo! may contact you. If you do not want to receive further Yahoo! Newsletter mailings, unsubscribe by clicking here To learn more about Yahoo!’s use of personal information, including the use of web beacons in HTML-based email, please read our Privacy Policy.”

And I’m thinking to myself “jengler8415” that’s a username I’d never come up with in a million years on my own… because it includes part of my home phone number, which I’d never use in a username, or a password for that matter, and I’m starting to put 2 and 2 together. Those bastards took my old hotjobs account and some personally identifiable information (my phone number and my name) and constructed an account in their spam sending system that says that “Yahoo! may contact you.”

I wonder if I can sue their asses for spamming me? Hmmm… a lot of those cases are being won by people lately…

Jeremy? Are you reading this?

Tell your idiot marketing department that whomever came up with this dumb ass idea should be fired for putting the good name of Yahoo! at risk with however many people are signed up as hotjobs users and aren’t the least bit interested in receiving email from Yahoo!

I don’t really give a shit what all the agreements I’ve glanced over before hitting “I agree” say … the bottom line is that I never, NEVER, gave Yahoo! permission to email me. NEVER !!!

God… when a company like Yahoo! resorts to using shoddy marketing techniques, its a sad day indeed. Build a better company and people will come on their own volition… Build a company based on solid business principles and they’ll love you. Resort to spamming people and you might as well be Microsoft… and no, I don’t have a Passport account and am not interested in getting on thank you.

Damn, it really pains me to say this, but I now officially hate Yahoo! and will no longer be using hotjobs for anything… going there to delete all my information now thank you.

I’ll call a lawyer tomorrow I think…

[later] ok, I’ve deleted my Yahoo! account… I’m not calling a lawyer just yet, but I’m still mighty pissed. Yahoo!’s account deletion page told me it might take 90 days to destroy all information associated with my ‘account’ that they seemed to be able to create of their own free will in under 24 hours… at least that’s all it too for them to send me spam… God, I’m really disappointed in Yahoo! for this one…

Cross Platform: Connecting a Mac and a Windows Box

Only O’Reilly can publish an article like Connecting Mac OS X to Windows PCs and do it well.

Perfect… just what I need to figure out how to get my email.pst file off my office PC and onto my office Macintosh, so that I can transfer it to my iPod, which’ll then let me transfer it to my iBook for burning to CD (so that I can have a copy of all my email from Outlook) for future recovery by me. I mean, that file is 778 MB and that’s just a little too big to put on our network file server and not have someone notice that I’m taking my email with me. It did compress to 480 MB or so using Drop Stuff for Windows surprisingly…

Work in a cross platform environemt or have one at home? Read the article…

Press Releases

I’ve never really believed in press releases, but I’m starting to think they work on the small scale, depending on the goal you set out with when releasing one…

We, at MarketingFix, the new marketing resource we launched recently, sent out a press release on our ‘official’ launch day. It was posted here:

Business Wire: MarketingFix Launches, New Site for Web Marketing Professionals

Since then it’s been picked up by quite a few organizations:

Daily Research News Online [here]

Daily Business Journal [here]

biz.Yahoo! [here]

NewsAlert [here]

It’s fun watching the news spread.

It’s also nice to see that other bloggers are picking up the site… thanks to everyone.

Thanks to Libby Communications for making this happen.

More later on links, from other sites and the press release, hopefully with a set of numbers to let you all know if it was really worth it or not.

On Leaving a Job

umphSo, it’s public knowledge that I’m leaving my current employer. My last day is this Friday.

I’d like to document a little about the experience, to preserve it and to help others that might be in the same situation someday.

Let me be very clear. I’m happy I’m leaving. I have been so pissed off at my employer in the past I was ready to just walk out if one more stupid thing happened. I’ve got a pile of infinitely dumb memos from our ‘corporate idiots’ that I’m half tempted to fax over to internalmemos.com someday. This company is a little bitty one man operation that’s grown over the years to employ as many as 130 people in the not-so-recent past. That being said, I think it’s seen its hey-day and will decline in the future… with or without me… the key fact being that they’ll do it without me.

So, my lessons for all of you leaving a job for a new one:

1. It doesn’t matter what you think of the company you’re leaving as a whole, leave on good terms if possible.

Don’t do anything to piss them off, or make them vengeful… you just don’t need the baggage. In fact, do your best work possible during the last two weeks of your employment term. Make them remember how good you were, and think of how much they wish you were there. It’ll only help your references and it’s just the right thing to do.

2. Teach someone as much as you can about your job before you leave.

This will save you countless phone calls and emails in the future. It’ll also help you gain some sense of peace-of-mind in your own transition. If there is no one to teach, write as much of it down. Use Word and take screenshots if your job involves software (especially if no one else is familiar with it). Make it look good and print it out for your boss. Even if you’re not asked to.

3. Don’t act like ‘the lucky guy that’s getting to leave’ around your co-workers.

It’s unprofessional and doesn’t accomplish anything. Save that for the last night after work at a bar with your friends (I’ll be doing that by the way). I’d even say act remorseful about leaving when talking with your co-workers if they’re stupid enough to think that your leaving is a bad thing for you. Play it up. You never know when you might need them again, as part of your network of ‘friends.’

4. If you know who you’ll be working with at your new job, email them.

Tell them how excited you are about starting, if it’s true. Ask if there’s anything you can do before getting there to prepare yourself. If there’s a relocation involved ask for tips about the new town. Get to know them from a distance… it can only help on that first day.

5. Clean up behind yourself.

Do everything you can to remove all the porn from your desktop computer, if there is any. Delete stuff that shouldn’t have been on your computer. Clean out the drawers of your desk. Organize your files, even writing a guide to them if you have time. Make it look like you gave a shit on your last day.

There, 5 simple steps that’ll help you leave your job on good terms I hope, and will save you the hassle of answering too many questions from your old boss after you’ve left.

Hope they help you!

Note to Developers

KylaSteven Frank, of Panic fame, posted a note on his weblog discussing .dmg files, .sit files and .tar.gz files as alternates to the developer question “How should I distribute my software?” After spending about an hour helping Scott troubleshoot his iBook’s php/mySQL installation last week, I’d like to tell developers my thoughts on this issue.

First, my presumptions: Most Macintosh developers are long time users of the Mac OS. They grew up with System 6 and before, and have progressed through Mac OS X. They love the platform and know it intimately.

Most Macintosh developers write software for newbies. Most Macintosh users are tried and true die-hards or at least long time users, but let me make a distinction here. Most Macintosh users aren’t developers. They don’t want to be. They just want it to work. On top of that, a lot more new Macintosh users aren’t tried and true die-hard Mac users… yet… but Mac developers can help change that fact.

One of the comments to Steven’s post says this:

“This has been in the mac forever, you put a cd in and it will tell you to drag the folder.”

It’s true that there have been application distributions that had drag and drop usability on the Mac for a long time, but non-traditional Mac users aren’t familiar with this idea. On Windows, If you download an application, buy it in a store, or a friend gives it to you, 99% of the time it’ll run an ‘installer’ that does something to your computer while you wait for it to finish. I’m not saying that installers are something I want to see on a Macintosh, but 99% of the making the switch don’t know the beauty of non-installer-requiring software.

Anyone that’s new to the Macintosh experience will not approach installing software the same way as a tried and true Mac user. Developers need to keep that in mind when distributing their software. The .dmg approach is very foreign to anyone not fairly familiar with the ways of the Macintosh. I’d go so far as to say that using disk images to distribute your software is probably one way to frustrate any user that isn’t an old-school Mac user.

Even old computer pros, like Scott, who is fairly new to the Mac OS after having used Windows and Linux for the past 20+ years, gets insanely frustrated with the Mac experience, at times, because it doesn’t operate like he’s used to. Just last week he was asking me about an installation of GLTerm, which is distributed on .dmg and wondered what the hell a .dmg was.

Disk images are not intuitive to computer novices, or Mac novices. Stuffit files are a little less obtrustive because at least Windows users are familiar with downloading .exe or .zip files. Any *nix user is familiar with downloading .tar.gz files, so those should be safe as well.

I’d like to put in my two cents on this discussion saying that I truly think that Mac developers should follow Steven’s suggestions about using .sit or .tar.gz files to distribute their software. It’s more intuitive for non-traditional Mac users and tried and true Mac users will know what to do with the file.

Think about that. If developers really want Apple’s Switch campaign to succeed, they too need to help make the transitional experience easy for those new to the Macintosh.

It’s good to hear that Aaron and Brent are both open to changing their customs to meet the needs of the user… that’s a good developer. Thanks Steven for bringing this issue to light.

spent the day cleaning the house

Sorry I didn’t post today…

…it was a long day… suffice to say the house is probably cleaner than it’s ever been… I know my home office is certainly cleaner, or at least more organized, than it’s ever been…

…the house goes on the market tomorrow… here’s hoping it sells quickly.

ezmlm and configuration

hurleyI spent the better part of the day trying to learn more about ezmlm which is the qmail companion software for mailing list management. I’ve got it installed and am running one list, but I have no real knowledge about how it works.

We want to offer more lists and tie into it using php/mysql for some other projects I’m thinking of working on, and for marketingfix, which is the new internet marketing site, we launched a bit ago.

I can’t find anything that really explains how to use ezmlm that’s written in plain english, but I have found the following:

  • Newbie’s Guide to Qmail – A guide to downloading, compiling and installing Qmail and related utils.
  • Ezmlm-Web – a web based administration set up for ezmlm, which I might just install.
  • Mailing Lists Overview @ Spry.com – where I learned how to modify the “Reply-To:” header for a particular list, adding a message footer, and add a list subject ‘prefix’.
  • Mail transport and dissemination: Qmail and Ezmlm – which offers links to further information that I’ll check out later.
  • Mode Flags – a page on threadnet.net that describes all of the command line flags for part of ezmlm, which is something I don’t want to have to use all the time, but might need to remember to check later.

Thanks Google.

I know that I could hop on AIM and ask a few people (namely Apokalyptik, the best sysadmin I know) to teach me all about ezmlm, but if I did that everytime I didn’t know something two things would happen: 1) he’d likely block me on AIM after about 3 days of constant harrassment and 2) I’d never learn anything for myself.

So, I still don’t know much about ezmlm, but I do know how to modify a few things that were critical (namely the Reply-To header for a list) as well as how to find more information when I have time to learn more.

vi switch

I don’t know where I’ve been… I know this is old, but I figured I’d blog it because Scott will love it especially after our hour long tech support IM chat on Friday.

vi/Switch [quicktime required]

[via Because I Can]

As productivity goes up….

elisaAs company’s become more productive through the use of technology (and the laying off of their employees: less people doing the same amount of work = more productivity) executives have groomed their boards to pay them more… at the expense of their employees and the country, in general.

John Robb points to this article in the WSJ, and then comments on it:

Computer use is driving productivity growth. However, it only works if a companies use of computers is tied to sound strategy (obviously).

John Robb’s chart shows the increasing gap between productivity and income and is an excellent example of how fucked up it is that executives of company’s are currently earning more than 4-40 times the average employee of their own companies.

Mac OS X: Useful Offfice v.X tip

Prevent various Office v.X errors.

Refer installed… multiple ways to see referrals

A while back I mentioned Textism’s excellent Refer package, but I didn’t install it because I didn’t have access to a mySQL database on my old host, so, this past week I move hosting companies (now I own the box that this site resides on). With that, I gained mySQL support (thank you very much) and installed Refer… so now, you can see “Top Referers” on the weblog’s homepage, or on individual stories (scroll to the bottom), or, you can check the “Refer” page that lives here.

Fun huh?

Top Google Ranking

This article on SitePoint is pretty good at explaining how to get a decent Google rank for search terms. The most overlooked places to put keywords on a web page are listed on page 2 of the article under the heading “Develop content” but they’re at the bottom of that section.

Some important tips that need to be repeated are:

Do not use invisible text (text that’s the same color as the background). This is considered to be spamming and will get you banned from some search engines.

A lot of your cheap SEO solutions use this technique, and people that recommend the ‘invisible text’ technique to you don’t know what they’re talking about and are probably people whose ethics I might question. Beware unethical recommendations… and if it sounds unethical or ‘tricky’ it probably is.

Despite all that’s said about the importance of HTML Meta Tags, they have very little impact these days. After all, Google is trying to figure out the relevance of your site for itself — obviously it’s going to pay very little attention to what you might have to say about your own site.

I’d like to point out that while Meta Tags aren’t neccessarily important to Google, they are important to directories like DMOZ and thus should be focused on. In fact, if possible they should be different and unique for every page on your website, so that each major page on your site can be indexed by the directories and directory editors more easily.

So, read the article, study, plan, and execute. Get a Top Rank at Google in short order, but don’t be surprised if it takes a little while… You can get there, but it does take a little work.

smalldog on Gateway and the iMac

I meant to blog this a long time ago, but forgot to:

SmallDog on Gateway vs. iMacs, and yes, Smalldog is the best online e-tailer for the Mac base out there. They know their stuff and their focus is their customer. If you’re buying a Mac (or any peripherals) in the near future, buy it from SmallDog.

Beware the WinXP Help Center

This article at the Register give me just one more reason to stay away from Windows.

Win-XP Help Center request wipes your HD

A malicious Win-XP Help Center request can easily and silently delete the contents of any directory on your Windows machine, we’ve learned. Worse, MS has rolled the fix silently into SP1 without making a public announcement.

[via Useable Help]

Moral of the story: If you’re using Windows XP, upgrade ASAP to SP1. If you’re not using Windows XP and are looking for a new computer in the near future, check out my personal favorites as an alternative.

The Tablet PC

I’ve been pretty quiet on the whole Tablet PC thing, mainly because I’m biased and will admit that, but I’ve been following it loosely. I’d like to point everyone to Dan Bricklin on Tablet PC: First Impressions as I (and many others I’m sure) consider Dan an authority and his thoughts are golden:

Back in the early 1990’s, I was heavily involved in the pen computing world. I co-founded Slate Corporation which developed application software for GO’s Penpoint as well as Microsoft’s Windows for Pen Computing and for the Apple Newton. I was exposed to software and hardware development, both at the OS and application level, and had experience using a wide variety of machines. With the release of the new Tablet PCs based upon Microsoft’s new software, I felt it was appropriate for me to comment upon that, given my perspective. You will find here my comments based on my general feelings as well as actual experiences using various equipment.

Bottom line so far

So, one day in, my verdict: I can’t see ever buying a portable laptop that isn’t a convertible — the benefits are too great for me. It’s a Tablet PC, not a Pen PC, and not a Clamshell PC, and that’s a win. While these are clearly still basically a version 1 or 2, they are still very useful. If you read a lot on a PC, and move your laptop around a lot, and have benefited from 802.11, and don’t mind using early software that works but is basic (like the original VisiCalc was), and are in the market for a new laptop, take the next step and move up to a tablet. Corporate evaluators must start learning about these systems, because as they improve and the price difference disappears, you’ll have to figure out how to configure them, what type of software to insist upon, etc. If you always wanted to do your composing with a pen, and expect handwriting to be as reliable as a keyboard, stick with the keyboard, and wait for “handwriting computing” to happen, if it ever does. It’s not that important. Tablet computing is. It will make reading on a computer even more pervasive. I think Microsoft and the hardware manufacturers who were willing to take a chance trying to advance the state of mainstream personal computing are to be commended for what they’ve done.

[via holy shmoly!]

Take Charge — Fast

looking ahead to the futureIt’s no secret that I’m starting a new job in less than 2 weeks. And because of that big change in my life, I’m very very happy and excited. I’m also looking for as many tips and pieces of advice that I can find. That’s why I’m so happy to find this article:

18 Ways to Take Charge — Fast, at FastCompany.com

This article features 18 great tactics and links to more information:

1. Begin your transition before you start the job.

2. Travel widely within your organization, listen carefully, and look for patterns in everything you see and hear.

3. As you ask questions, look for the rising stars whom you want as part of your team.

4. Identify the kind of people who will flourish in the environment you want to establish.

5. After you’ve identified the ideal individual, identify the ideal group.

6. Acknowledge what you don’t know. Identify those around you are the experts and don’t be afraid to lean on them.

7. Don’t be afraid to listen to people who disagree.

8. But clean house if you have to.

9. Establish a way to communicate with — and listen to — your entire team.

10. Don’t trash your predecessor, but don’t be shy about promoting your own agenda.

11. Settle on a few major priorities. You can’t fix everything at once.

12. Meet the customers. Balance the big picture vision with-front line views.

13. Target a few early wins. Momentum counts, and nothing succeeds like success.

14. Keep an eye on the clock. Faster is almost always better.

15. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes but be sure to fix them faster than you make them.

16. Be wary of reckless re-engineering.

17. Don’t be afraid to look for ideas in unusual places.

18. Finally, ask yourself who do you really want to prevail, you or your organization?

I love it. One great collection of tips and advice, and from one of my favorite print publications, but found online. I just got the December issue in the mail but haven’t had time to even crack the cover… you know that’s what I’ll be doing this weekend. If you’re not a subscriber to FastCompany, and you enjoy reading about business at all, I’d recommend you subscribe. It’s like reading Good to Great once a month with new chapters added.

Douglas Bowman is now Stopdesign

Douglas Bowman is now Stopdesign. While we’ve never met, I’d like to congratulate him publicly and wish him good luck.

Douglas has been a pioneer in the web world and I hope he’ll continue to be one on his own. I’ve enjoyed reading his weblog for a while now and think you will to. Read on…

CSS Reference & Recommendation

Rick Bruner, one of my MarketingFix colleagues, asked for a recommendation on a good CSS book, this morning . I have to admit that I’m still pretty unsure of my own knowledge of CSS, and that I’d love to learn more myself, so if you can recommend a good book with good introductory and further information on CSS, leave a URL or Title in the comments, please.

But, I’ll also point out a reference that I always keep handy for CSS and HTML work:

Brian Wilson’s excellent Index DOT CSS Reference and Index DOT HTML Reference.

Bookmark those and you’ll at least have a place to go for convenient reference any time you’re unsure what the options for a “Text-Transform” style are, and where you can use them.

Living Below Your Means

LBYM is sort of a mantra of the Motley Fool. I’ve been striving to LBMM for a long time, and it’s nice to read some of the stories that come out of TMF on a regular basis. Thus, I’d like to point you to this one.

Living Below Your Means: Why I pay More

The most important financial consideration I have is spending less than I earn. And I do. How I spend that money is what determines my quality of life. Perhaps I can only afford 11 books a year from The Happy Bookseller instead of 12 books from a national chain, but that is a trade off I willing to make. When I support local businesses, I feel like I am supporting my community, and I gotta tell you, that makes me feel good.

That’s a great lesson for all of us, and in today’s economy, supporting out local businesses is a duty, in my opinion.

What is ‘Good Advertising’ ?

A passage from this interview with Temerlin McClain’s James Hering makes me realize why I think James understands the internet more than most advertising executives out there:

When you think about day-parting, Reach & Frequency, targeting, and clutter, all of these are marketing communications’ tactics/issues. And the more we try to be different with online, the more we find we’re really the same. Aside from this little thing called interactivity, the medium pretty much behaves the same as other media. Granted, there are unique aspects of the medium that publisher, marketer and even the consumer all end up creating defined by the type of a relationship in which we interact. We’re still trying to figure out the magical balance between that trio: publisher, marketer and user. We’re getting close, though. We all agreed that we did not like 82 banners on one page. We’re starting to get really annoyed at pop-ups. Nobody likes the idea behind Gator for the most part except for direct-response marketers. But I think what we have found is there’s incredible value in the breadth and depth of content that’s online and those marketers who find a way to appropriately engage the customer in a context-relative way add to the value. And believe it or not, customers do like good advertising. Most of the time, they don’t even consider whether the content they see is advertising or content or what. Good advertising is viewed as good content.

But its that last sentence that clenches it for me:

Good advertising is viewed as good content.

Yup, that just about sums it up.

One more week

sandyAs of tomorrow, I’ve got one more week at my current job. It’s tough, but I’m actually getting a lot done. My boss and I were chatting yesterday and he mentioned that he honestly thinks it’ll take a month or two to find a replacement for me.

(A month or two?)

Yep, that’s what he said.

That really makes me sad. I’m an ad sales rep. currently and I’ve got about 40 active clients, and another 150 or so not so active clients. All of them require some level of service on a weekly or monthly schedule. When I think about what I’ve built (trippled their online sales in 12 months) here, and realize that no one will be doing the kind of work I do for at a minimum 6 months (2 months to hire someone, 3-4 months learning what’s been dropped in those 2 months and turning it around) I get pretty depressed.

That’s really just sad to me. I really, really want them to be successful after I leave, but if they aren’t planning on replacing me for 2 months, then I think they’re pretty much fucked from the ad sales and service side… not to mention the trafficking piece of my job (which is much more technical than any sales job ever might be. Think HTML + Flash + CSS + any other web based technology and you’ll scratch the surface.) That’ll be a hard job for anyone to do without some formal training…

It’s just sad.

Oh, well… I’ll leave them in the best condition I can and never look back, I guess.

Need Writing Tips?

If you write then take a few moments to read Gareth’s Tips on Sucks-Less Writing. Great, useful tips for columnists, weblogers and even letter writers.

WebLog Anaylsis – Recommendation for Summary

Ms. TurinSo, our little marketingfix.com is getting a bit of traffic now, and the guys all (okay, really just Rick) are asking for more traffic data. I’ve looked around for good free open source solutions and have found things like Analog and Webalizer, which are great, but are a pain in the ass to set up and configure for a linux novive like myself. (I’ve been an enduser of both of these pieces of software, but never had to install or configure them.)

As I was trying to determine if I had the GD library (whatever that is) installed on our server, I remember than Ryan over at MacDesktops told me about a program that he was using to process his log files. I asked him what it was and he responded “Summary” <http://www.summary.net>.

I took a quick look and saw a few things I like while Ryan was AIMing me things like “stand-alone” and “super-easy” as well as “very powerweful for the dollar” in the back-ground. I downloaded it, uploaded it, untar’d it and made a few symlinks then typed the now infamous ‘./summary‘ command.

After working through a few things like configuring virtual domains, getting Apokalyptik (my favorite sysadmin) to show me how to turn on Apache’s NCSA combined logging so we capture things like referrers and user agents, and other basic configs, we now have a plethora of data that all of us MFers (the term we’ve taken to call ourselves) can look at as well as inluminent.com data for myself, all from the same log analysis program. And it’s actually quite pretty (except for the big “30 day trial version” stamped at the top of the reports). We’ll see if we ever need/want to move up to something like WebSideStory or WebTrends, but honestly, I can say that I’m sated right now.

So, there it is, my recommendation for Summary to anyone looking for something easier to set up than Webalizer and prettier than Analog, but just as powerful.

Mac OS X Tools: BBEdit 7.0

BBEdit 7.0 has been released. I love BBEdit. I write everything in BBEdit before I do anything with it. Everything.

New version much mean better working environment. I’d highly recommend BBEdit to anyone doing any writing.

[oddly barebones.com is down so I can’t really link to it can I?]

Anyways, they sent out PR’s so, I’m assuming that they really have released BBEdit 7.0. Check their site later for the real news.

[later: you can download a demo from here]

[later still: Cory Doctorow talks about BBEdit 7.0 on Forwarding Address: OS X]

the basics of building a service business

The latest from Sitepoint: 5 Steps to Relationship Marketing Success!

Follow these 5 steps:

1. Change your Perspective from “Here’s what I do” to “What do you need?”

2. Recognize your Vulnerability

3. Keep in touch

4. Position Yourself as an Expert

5. Grow to Meet Client Needs

To get to the payoff:

The benefits of a relationship marketing approach go both ways. Your client views you as a valuable consultant, rather than a cost center. Your potential for increased revenues and a long-lasting relationship is real.

There’s payoff for you, too, including reduced marketing expenses measured in both time and money. If you can retain more clients for longer periods, you’ll trim costly space advertising and other marketing costs.

If you ask, you’ll get more referrals from your clients. Priceless word-of-mouth endorsements from satisfied customers will result in new business which magically walks in the door.

Read, and apply to all general business endeavors, not just building a web-design company.

damn my finger hurts

I just hit the ‘delete’ key 2200+ times to delete a bunch of old email I had sitting around that I thought I might use someday. Nevermore…

I also unsubscribed from the bulk of the newsletters I was subscribed to this morning.. took a while to do that.

8 more days…

Fantastic Questions for Salesperson Self Improvement

lovely yet againAnyone that sells by phone has heard of Art Sobczak, and if they haven’t they need to learn about him.

Art runs a company called Business By Phone. He’s probably one of the best tele-sales trainers and speakers in the world, and is a fantastic resource. Art published a weekly email newsletter called the “Tele-Sales Hot Tip of the Week” that I’ve been reading for years now. I like the latest edition so much that I decided to share it all with you. If you’re a sales person, or a general marketer, read the edition in the ‘more’ link below. If you find it helpful, subscribe to Art’s newsletter yourself, or buy the old issues in hard copy and downloadable form.

All of the newsletters I’ve received are helpful, and most are full of outstanding tips for salespeople.
Continue reading ‘Fantastic Questions for Salesperson Self Improvement’

thanks Andy

Andy posted a great Dilbert cartoon today. Thanks Andy. I almost feel like that… almost

marketingfix.com

This one is totally shameless self-promotion:

Four other commentators and I (Rick Bruner, Steve Hall, Robert Loch and Olivier Travers) have launched a new site focused on Internet marketing, aggregating news and analysis from dozens of sources around the web:

marketingfix.com

It’s still a work in progress, expect formatting tweaks for several weeks, but we’re pretty excited about it. We’d all love to get your feedback on it.