Monthly Archive for July, 2003

Inc.com has a RSS Feed

Here’s a feed I’ve been looking forward to for a long time: Inc.com RSS 2.0 Feed [via Scripting.com]

top 10 urinals

Quite interesting for some reason:

The Top 10 Most Fascinating Urinals

Mailsmith Recommendation: MacOS X email client

For the record, I’d recommend Mailsmith also:

TidBITS: True Confessions of a Mailsmith Switcher

Conclusions — Despite such nitpicking, this version of Mailsmith puts the program in a whole new category. Mailsmith 1.5 was usable but flawed; it had a coterie of devoted followers, but they seemed mostly to be fanatics. Mailsmith 2.0, on the other hand, is simply a great program, and deserves wide and serious consideration. It has been worth the wait. If you’ve wondered what the fuss is about, now is the right time to give Mailsmith a second look – or a first look.

Check out Mailsmith if you’re looking for a good mail client right now… or wait for the Panther upgrade for an even better Mail. I’d recommend Mailsmith to anyone that doesn’t need IMAP support and wants a fast, fully scriptable mail client that doesn’t suffer from “HTML Rendering slowdown” every once and a while.

Amazon RSS Feeds Could Be Dangerous

I read an article today about Amazon’s new RSS feeds, and quickly moved to investigate the PR. I added a bunch of feeds to NetNewsWire. I’m thinking this could be dangerous (feel free to grab these feeds for your own use):

I’m excited to see a company introduce RSS feeds for the public in a revenue generating environment. It’s only a matter of time before other companies catch on. To me, the importance of Amazon introducing RSS feeds for products isn’t really that big of a deal for News Aggregator software, but rather for how super easy it would be to add these feeds to web sites.

Amazon will make money with this one.

Snapster

Good ol’ Cringley brings us the “Son of Napster”. Interesting concept, even if it’s flawed.

I like the idea of a publicly owned company that ‘owns’ the media that people consume, but this would effectively put musicians out of a job, and while it would hurt the record industry, it would also hurt the artists pretty badly…

Mac based weblog company

From MacMinute:

Sparkpod, a Weblog (blog) hosting company, has announced the availability of free trial accounts for its service. Sparkpod was designed using 100% Macintosh-based solutions — programmed using WebObjects, designed using Macs, and hosted on Xserves — although PC users may also use it. The service offers the ability to post messages in the same visual environment as your front end Weblog design, and includes additional features such as commenting, image uploading, auto archiving, design template selection, and automatic announcements to friends.

They could’ve picked a better name. I’ve got a ‘mac…’ domain for sale that I’d have sold them cheap.

Also, they really ought to be publishing their own weblog, purely as a PR ploy if for no other reason… and a better reason if they need one is so that people that are interested in their service can learn a bit about them — worked for Dave Winer, didn’t it?

Mac: Xicons turns three years old

Jeff Stys is an old ‘buddy’ of mine and his website Xicons is turning 3 years old this summer. To celebrate, he’s offering T-Shirts for sale at around $12. Go pick one up if you’d like to support a great Mac focused web operator. I did.

Quick Links for July

Cleaing out my bookmarks:

I think I’ve found my CMS talks about pMachine.

Then this: Weblogs vs. Websites, Part 3 (or Retiring My Old Home Page) = “In short, I now believe that a weblog can be the main publishing platform for any website, including a law firm website.”

An on going thread about using MT to do it all:

Some marketing focused links:

Some links from Ensight, which I’m really enjoying reading:

And a few random links thrown in for good measure:

New to Texas Weblog Entries

What a weblog from a non-native Texas might look like:

May 30th: Just moved to Houston. Now this is a city that knows how to live!! Beautiful sunny days and warm balmy evenings. What a place! I watched the sunset from a park lying on a blanket. It was beautiful. I’ve finally found my home. I love it here.

June 14th: Really heating up. Got to 100 today. Not a problem. Live in an air-conditioned home, drive an air-conditioned car. What a pleasure to see the sun everyday like this. I’m turning into a sun worshiper.

June 30th: Had the backyard landscaped with western plants today. Lots of cactus and rocks. What a breeze to maintain. No more mowing lawn for me. Another scorcher today, but I love it here.

July 10th: The temperature hasn’t been below 100 all week. How do people get used to this kind of heat? At least it’s kind of windy though. But getting used to the heat and humidity is taking longer that I expected.

July 15th: Fell asleep by the pool. (Got 3rd degree burns over 60% of my body). Missed 3 days of work. What a dumb thing to do. I learned my lesson though. Got to respect the ol’ sun in a climate like this.

July 20th: I missed Morgan (our cat) sneaking into the car when I left this morning. By the time I got to the hot car for lunch, Morgan had died and swollen up to the size of a shopping bag and stank up the $2,000 leather upholstery. I told the kids that she ran away. The car now smells like Kibbles and shits. I learned my lesson though. No more pets in this heat.

July 25th: The wind sucks. It feels like a giant freaking blow dryer!! And it’s hot as hell. The home air-conditioner is on the fritz and the AC repairman charged $200 just to drive by and tell me he needed to order parts.

July 30th: Been sleeping outside by the pool for 3 nights now. $1,500 in damn house payments and we can’t even go inside. Why did I ever come here?

Aug. 4th: It’s 115 degrees. Finally got the air-conditioner fixed today. It cost $500 and gets the temperature down to 85, but this freaking humidity makes the house feel like it’s about 95. Stupid repairman. I hate this stupid city.

Aug. 8th: If another wise ass cracks, “Hot enough for you today?” I’m going to strangle him. Damn heat. By the time I get to work the radiator is boiling over, my clothes are soaking wet, and I smell like baked cat!!

Aug. 9th: Tried to run some errands after work. Wore shorts, and sat on the black leather seats in the ol’ car. I thought my ass was on fire. I lost 2 layers of flesh and all the hair on the back of my legs and ass. Now my car smells like burnt hair, fried ass, and baked cat.

Aug. 10th: The weather report might as well be a damn recording. Hot and sunny. Hot and sunny. Hot and sunny. It’s been too hot to do shit for 2 damn months and the weatherman says it might really warm up next week. Doesn’t it ever rain in this damn desert? Water rationing will be next, so my $1700 worth of cactus just might dry up and blow into the damn pool. Even the cactus can’t live in this damn heat.

Aug. 14th: Welcome to HELL!!! Temperature got to 115 today. Forgot to crack the window and blew the damn windshield out of the car. The installer came to fix it and said, “Hot enough for you today?” My wife had to spend the $1500 house payment to bail me out of jail. Freaking Texas. What kind of a sick demented idiot would want to live here?

“Welcome to Texas. Hot enough today for you?”

Keep Clicking

12 days into my test of Google’s AdSense program, and I’m happy to report that according to the latest report, I’m looking at a payable of about $52.00 … keep this up, and my server costs should be covered by months end…

The beauty of this advertising program is that I haven’t clicked an ad yet, so someone that’s reading the ads is actually interested enough to click, or you guys are all just nice enough to want to help pay for this site through your clicks.

I hope the advertisers are getting something out of the clicks too… that would suck if the AdSense program really turned out to be a flop for Google because too many people didn’t convert on the clicks that are being generated all around the internet through this program…

Only time will tell, until then, keep clicking if the ads interest you.

On Firing an Employee

Last Monday, I fired an employee for the first time in my life.

It was the worst morning of my life, and the weekend before that Monday was horrible as well.

Firing an employee for whatever reason is probably the hardest thing a person can have to do, because when you’re in charge of hiring or firing someone, to some extent you can’t help but feel responsible for that person’s life and well-being.

One of my ‘mentors’ at the office told me “That’s the one thing you never want to be good at.” I agree completely. I’d rather be very good at hiring the right person, coaching them towards success, and promoting them into a new job. I’d rather be good at teaching and training than firing. I suppose that for some reason I feel like firing an employee shows that I am responsible for that person not succeeding.

Anyways, I had an employee that was performing marginally most of the time, and below my (and the company’s) expectations consistently. I tried coaching, teaching, training, warning, and every other technique I could. I gave that person 75 days formal notice that they were on probation, and still didn’t see results. I made the decision to let this person go on a Friday, and set the time/date for the following Monday.

I sweated the event the entire weekend, getting only 3 or 4 hours of sleep on Sunday night. On Monday morning, I had a quick dismissal interview/meeting, and the deed was done.

I’m now looking for a good replacement, but I surely hated myself on Monday morning. I’ve learned a few things about this employee since then that don’t make me feel so bad, but Monday morning was hell, and the rest of the week was full of playing sales person + sales manager… that being said, I actually enjoyed working 12+ hour days this week. It was refreshing. And the support team I’ve got was quite supportive.

If you’re ever in the position to fire someone, I’d recommend some of these links as preparation for the event:

How to Become a Great Boss, as I have done before, as the book will definitely help you learn more about how to be a great boss, and it touches on the subject of “Groom them or Broom them” which basically means that you should make the decision to fire someone quickly if you have to, or commit to training them for bigger and better things… I took too long to make this decision this time I think.

Good E-commerce is hard to find

I just read this article: Safeway widens delivery of Web orders and I had to point out how cool I think it is that a grocery store is taking up the charge of offering web based order and grocery fulfillment again. I’m hoping it works out this time around, and that they don’t go down in flames like the others did a few years ago.

On the same subject, I have to point out that I think Papa John’s Pizza has the slickest (and quickest) online order to fulfillment system on the internet (that I’ve ever used). They offer a quick login or registration process to being with, and then offer 5 or so quick order options, plus their entire menu online, so you can easily order something on special quick, or you can order something special and customized, if you wish.

And, they then guarantee a quick and painless delivery.

(And the pizza is damn good too, btw)

The only complaint I have is that they won’t take a credit card order through their website, but then again, that means if they get the order wrong, or forget to deliver your order, you don’t have to deal with the issues of your credit card being charged and the product not being delivered…

Good e-commerce in the service sectors and industries is still hard to find, and it’s nice to find them when you can.

The Segway of Lawn Mowers

Todd Dominey writes about his new ‘old school’ mower in this post. I’m linking to that post, because an old neighbor of mine bought a reel mower for his lawn back when I lived in Fort Worth. When I asked him what was wrong with him when I saw him mowing with it at 7am one Sunday morning in the middle of July, he laughed at me.

I cocked my head waiting for an answer, and he listed his reasons:

1. It’s friendly to the environment

2. It actually cuts much closer and cleaner than a power mower can after you get it set right

3. It’s quieter than a power mower, thus he could mow at 6am, or 10pm if he wanted without disturbing the neighbors or waking his young children

4. It’s hotter than shit outside at noon, so I’d rather mow at 6am or 9pm

I laughed pretty hartily at his 4th reason, but couldn’t argue with him. He was right, but I suspect the fact that he’d just moved to Fort Worth, TX from Colorado made the heat at noon more unbearable than it felt to me. I attempted to mow my yard once or twice with his mower, but I had much thicker grass than he, and that made it tough for me to use the reel mower… and thus, I resorted to my good ol’ power mower (which was a hand-me down from the neighbor next door that had just upgraded to the Super-Deluxe Honda XL-23958 model with a turbo-charger built in). (who knew Honda made lawn mowers?)

Keep mowing with the reel mower Todd, I’m impressed.

Butt-simple Laptop Backup

This post is just too delectable to pass up linking to:

Butt-simple Backup for Macintosh Laptop owners

do you know how butt-simple it is to back up your tibook? …if anything goes wrong with your laptop, its your fault. these people just make it too easy.

Classic.

Sherlock + Feedster

I personally haven’t used Sherlock in at least 6 months, and only launched it today to check out the new Feedster integration that Scott has announced

I wonder what that says about Sherlock’s real usage? I know I’m not a typical Macintosh user, but I wonder how many other Mac users actually use Sherlock more than once every 6 months?

Buck Rogers

Anyone remember Buck Rogers?

Close right?

wigi, wigi, wigi, wigi…. (or something like that)

The 118118 Experience

Here’s a great british parody entitled “Tyre” of the ‘amazing Honda ad‘ that has been circulating around the internet since April.

I have no idea what the “118118 Experience” is promoting, but if you’re british, and can shed some light on the subject that’d be cool. It seems to be a spoof just for this site, but I don’t have a clue what it’s all about, other than typical british humor.

Photos from Acuna

In case you were wondering what you missed by not joining us in Acuna, Mexico a while back, I’ve posted some photos from the trip we made to see Pat Green play at the Corona Club in Acuna:

How to Turn Away Customers – MLB

Adam blogs a quick diddy about how Major League Baseball is turning away customers. The kicker for me is this line:

“Go ask your dad how many words would fit into 2314 bytes.”

The sad thing is I bet my dad (in-law) would know.

Marketing for Geeks

A series of three article (so far) about marketing targeted at the small ‘Independent Software Vendor’ where the “central theme is that if we demystify marketing, it can be competently done by technical people”:

Choose Your Competition

Marketing is not a Post-Processing Step

Act Your Age

Good job so far, looking forward to more. [via Simon Willison]

839 Buttons

In case you haven’t noticed, the “Steal My Buttons” effort run by Taylor at gtmcknight.com is up to 839 Buttons. Wow.

Optional Advertising (on a weblog)

An interesting approach to running Google AdSense program on a weblog, and an applaudable one at that. (it’s much like my images on/off switch in the top right navigational bar). [via Zeldman]

Building a Business in the Open

Wow!

I’m amazed at Andy Bourland’s personal weblog. Not because Andy’s writing a weblog about his personal experiences, but because through his posts in his weblog, he’s essentially building his new business, Up2Speed, in the open, or at least as much as any business I’ve seen built in the open lately.

Andy’s not just talking about his projects, or products in the open like some of the other ‘corporate weblogs’ I’ve seen. He’s actually talking about the decisions he’s making and how he’s thinking about his business.

Example 1: On being an ‘introverted’ thinker:

…in buying MarketingFix.com, little did I know that the 5 partners who came along with the deal had pretty strong opinions about damn near everything, and didn’t hesitate to make them known. They had developed their own highly collaborative approach to running their operation, and I needed to blend in with the process if I expected their cooperation. And I can guarantee you, I couldn’t possibly do it on my own. I depend on those guys…

And when the Adventive deal came along, God must have been rolling over in laughter because Mr. Unilateral Decision — me — was acquiring not 5, but 50,000 highly opinionated souls who made it quite clear that while they support me and respect my reputation — they want to play a role in the decision-making process.

Example 2: On building a business with a succession strategy in mind:

In my case, I am deliberately building a core team of 3 people and hoping to give them the resources and support they need so that — should the grim reaper drop by unexpectedly some day — I can have a succession program in place that will ensure that they will be able to continue to build the business whether I’m there or not.

I can’t exactly hand the business over to my girlfriend or my children to manage — though I would want to make sure they benefit from the value of the Up2Speed LLC asset should I die. But I can develop a team of leaders who eat, sleep and breathe this business and have a legal document in place that provides for an orderly transition where everybody wins.

When I was at ClickZ, I never even thought of putting together any sort of succession agreement. I was feeling young, healthy and was going to live forever.

Example 3: On starting a Startup:

Would you believe that I actually FORGOT how much work is involved in a startup?

Truly admirable way you’re bringing the process to the table Andy… keep sharing, I have a feeling it’ll make a huge difference in the way Up2Speed is perceived in the long run. I guess I should also say I’m not amazed that Andy’s doing this, rather that anyone with as high a profile as Andy is blogging about their personal experiences as he is.

[disclaimer: I still own a very small part of Up2Speed]

Added Google AdSense and why

Following John Gruber’s lead… shit… I can’t follow his lead…. If you want to know why I’ve added Google AdSense ads to inluminent/weblog read his post on independence as it’s an eloquently written piece.

inspiration

It’s nice to know I’ve inspired someone a little… welcome to the world of weblogging.

YASMP (funny post about MacNN)

I just have to point to this post on MrBarrett.com about MacNN:

…MacNN has become a dwelling place for People Who Don’t Know of What They Speak™.

Priceless.

[disclaimer: I used to work for MacNN, and am glad I no longer do, and know a bunch of folks that’ll get a kick out of reading Mr. Barrett’s post]

News website business models

First Monday’s Business models of news Web sites: A survey of empirical trends and expert opinion, by Frederick Schiff, is a fantastic read for anyone looking at revenue models on the internet, specifically of the major content producers out there in media land.

cheap computer stuff

A buddy of mine is havine a Garage Sale and his prices really aren’t bad. If you’re interested, check it out.

Googlebot writing

If you’re interested in writing web pages that are friendly to the Googlebot, read this post I just posted at Up2Speed.

AdSense

Heads up: I’ll likely be adding Google’s AdSense program to this weblog in the coming week or two, mainly as a test. I’m encouraged by this article about boosting your AdSense revenue. I’d recommend you read the article if you publish a website at all, and are interested in getting their program on your website. [via Up2Speed – internet marketing news]

If you’ve got an opinion about me adding AdSense to this weblog to earn some cash, now would be the time to say something…

Quick Links before July 4th weekend

I’m betting at this point that I won’t be posting again until next week, so, here are some links that I found interesting over the past month or so:

If you’re celebrating the 4th with me this weekend… enjoy. If you’re not celebrating with us Americans enjoy your weekend anyways ūüėČ

Moving a web site

I happened to have the occasion to move a web site today. We moved MarketingFix.com from one server to another, but we didn’t move the DNS yet (because we hadn’t set up email and all of the internal lists we’re still running @marketingfix.com) so, we had to figure out how to send traffic coming to http://www.marketingfix.com/* to http://www.up2speed.com/* (and keep the pages the same).

One of the team members, Olivier, found this code:

RewriteEngine On

RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.up2speed.com/$1 [R=301,L]

at WebMasterWorld. He then showed me how to test your redirects using this redirect tool.