Random musings, observations, squeaks, whimpers and perhaps the ocassional rant. About what, I'm not sure.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Get Well Mom...

Bad Things/Good People

You know how some guys have the mother-in-law from hell? Not me. Mine has always treated me better than my own family did in some ways. She'd do it for you, if she knew you.

I have the greatest mom-in-law in the world.

But now she's sick.

Sick - Sick.

-----> As in saw her doctor on Friday and told she'd need surgery.

----------> Admitted to the hospital today (Monday).

---------------> Major surgery tomorrow (Tuesday).

--------------------> (insert concern and sadness here)

Hope everything comes out OK, but its pretty serious - we'll have to wait and see.

Good doctor, great hospital - she has the best chance she can. Isn't it rude to get this kind of reminder that we don't direct much of what happens in our lives?

Or that a day, an hour, a moment can sometimes make such a difference.

Hug someone you love right now.

While you can.

Trying to Work...

Interesting interview with Jeff Raikes. If you're interested in Microsoft and productivity software, read it. The guy who has the vision Raikes does and rakes (pun intended) in nearly $11 Billion in revenue is a force to be reckoned with.

I'm especially interested in the Office suite as a collaboration platform. Microsoft is going down that road - I hope it works.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Amazing Photo/Travel Project...

Follow this little man!

Found a reference to an amazing photo/travel project on Scoble's blog. I clicked through, thinking "ho, hum... another collection of someone's travel pics. What's so amazing about that?".

How wrong I was...

This site is amazing, if a little hard to describe. Picture a continuous path between various cities of the world (someone's travel itinerary? a collection of travel photos from around the world - who knows?), displayed in 3-D. Points on the path represent cities with pictures associated.

You can spin/rotate the path, mousing-over the points to see the city or cities. Click on a point and the path flattens, and a group of pics associated with your click display. With a bunch of other cool features including the ability to caption photos, display captions, and download pictures, to name a few.

I don't know which I find more amazing... the concept, the photos or the presentation/execution. Very interesting work in Flash to be sure. I e-mailed the site contact - if I get more info I'll post it, but CHECK IT OUT!

I Donated $25...

Escape To Zanzibar...

OK, I'm getting addicted to the Escape Travel Album, if that's even what its called (page titles on the site variously say "escape > route" or "escape : route".

One of the features is "download a picture", and when you do this a structured e-mail goes to someone named Henry Dawson, who apparently manually posts the high res original and an enhanced copy for you (manually?). There's a comment about accepting donations via PayPal. I'm not associated with these folks or the site in any way, but I was so impressed by the work, I sent 25 bucks.

Maybe I'm living a sheltered life, but I've never seen anything like this before on the web. I like Picassa's 3D timeline feature, but this site goes so far beyond that. Very innovative.

Henry Dawson, whoever you are, if you're the creator of this, you've done some amazing work.


The real name of the awesome travel/photo website is "escape:route". The author is Henry Dawson; he's a Flash developer/designer, and he built the site while traveling around the world "for family and friends" to view his photos.

If you like the site, poke around until you find the feature to send him a few bucks via PayPal - I did. Its great work...

Bump on the Road of Life...

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Comfort Food...

Oreos and Milk. Mmmmm. Hope I don't drop any in when I'm dunking... I hate when that happens.

I'm Ready to Do My Taxes... sortof.

Ross at Strategize reminded me its Tax Time. I'm usually pretty good about avoiding this... you know, until 15 April. Around midnight. (grin)

I file electronically and use software (TurboTax) to help me do that. Its pretty painless, but I still hate the process... you can do it all without waiting for your W-2's etc. to come, if you're confident in your numbers...

Asking for Help... Scarcity...

Paraphrased from a great post at Incite by Design:

We live in one of the wealthiest nations in the world, and yet, so many of us are mired in a "hoarding mentality," terrified that we will lose our abundance. In turn, we create a form of spiritual poverty that permeates everything we touch.

One of the hardest things for any of us to do in life is to ask for help. This is especially true in business where we are supposed to be a pillar of self-sufficiency and unmitigated triumph.

I've found the best leaders are those who have struggled in some capacity - sought help - and showed tremendous gratitude in their continued path. In learning how to ask for assistance, humility is cultivated, yes, but also the important lesson of learning how to accept with an open heart and mind.

This is a small part of the post, but I found it interesting how two of my (past) recurring corporate experiences with the same company - asking for help and hoarding or a feeling or scarcity - intersected. The firm's not in existence anymore, but I'll refrain from naming it anyway.

I once did a big project as a favor for Apple at one of their Fortune 100 customers. Our work caught the attention of company that published/developed the software we applied. They were in the Mac software business and had somewhat accidentally gathered a nice little portfolio of larger customers - but had no field service, system engineering or consulting personnel. At all. When something for one of these large customers broke (it was software, remember? It breaks), an engineer hopped on a plane to visit the customer and try to fix it.

Anyone see a problem with the model - gathering up large companies and then having to send software developers into the field to support them?

To the company's great credit, they asked for help. I was not only flattered, but the alliance turned into great business for all parties for some time. We shored up the product, expanded, dumped unprofitable business and customers; in summary, we did a bunch of things right - in the beginning. In the end, though, the motivation to take the company to the next level just wasn't there... I guess we were really a "lifestyle company" (which is code for "we don't want to grow much beyond our own skills"), not a company that wanted to grow to our $100M potential.

The folks I worked with were great, but they couldn't all personally do what they'd done so well a couple of years before corporately - ask for help solving the biggest problems. Some of them did, and the company profited, as they did themselves. We parted ways, though not altogether to bad result financially.

The tandem quirk to growing until the management team needed a serious makeover and then getting out was the rampant scarcity mentality. The founders of this company are some of the smartest, hardest working, most honest guys I've ever met. I respected their tenacity, and still do. But they nearly starved themselves and the company out of existence despite a product, talent and customer base most would envy. Their own pay was nowhere near equitable, they'd miss paychecks rather than push for performance and accountability where they knew they needed it most. But, in the end, it was their company by a couple of votes.

One of the things I'm most proud of from the whole experience is testing and providing ghe "rising tide floats all boats" scenario. When we wrapped things up, we'd increased each of the founders' compensation to nearly 5 times what they were making when we started, we had more large enterprise customers than ever, and the company flourished.

If this company had not asked for help when it did or changed radically, it would have died. If the scarcity mentality hadn't been checked, it would have died. These two dynamics continuing to intermingle would have strangled the company within a year or so if the customers didn't first. Glad that didn't happen, for all our sakes.

Blogs in Crisis...


Blurb on blogs as crisis communication tool from the CorporateBloggingBlog:

Blogs have a role to play in crisis communications. In some ways those communication features we need in a crisis are inherent in blogs. But I think we should be careful and not hope too much from blogs as crisis communication tools - they don't beat TV to show emotions and are probably best for audiences you have relations to already.

If the spin here is "blog vs. TV", these folks are right. In other ways they're very wrong. Especially in one of the later comments in the posting where the author asserts the corporate website will be the primary communications vehicle vs. blogs because "If we're talking about large companies or organizations they all have reasonably good content management systems". You guys need to get out a little more (grin)...

During Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne, I suggested setting up a blog to feed news outlets the same info that our PIOs were publishing via several hundred "press releases" they were typing and faxing and/or calling in to the local media (this was not an optimal system, but its the one they had/chose). A blog to be fed to the media was a great idea - but bad timing. The County communication folks had no idea what a blog was (no big deal - most of corporate America doesn't yet), so there was no chance of pulling it off, even if I set it up.

If a crisis blog was event-focused, and some simple writing style was agreed to (basic publication guidelines), I think this would be an awesome tool for publishing breaking information. It wouldn't replace reporting/TV (this seems to be a focus of the CorporateBloggingBlog piece "people will watch TV anyway"). Blogging could be a tool to GET the information to the TV... that's what I thought, anyway. Some of the TV people after the fact thought it, too...

Get Out the Vote!

Get Out the Vote!

Saw a reminder somewhere that the 2005 Bloggies ballots are up. So get out and vote! blahgKarma donated $20.05 for whoever winds up the winner of the Best American Blog category. I'm disappointed that none of my nominees for any category made it to the ballot (you might know who you are).

I won't likely make it to the South by Southwest where the awards will be given out. If you'd like to be my proxy at the awards presentation, e-mail me at cchurch (that funny little 'at' sign) techplanning (the dot character) com - I'll collect names and if I'm not going you might just get the honor.

Things That Make You Go "Hmmm"...

The Blogger spell checker doesn't recognize the word "blog".

Tom Peters - Idea Factory

Some ideas...

Check out "Tom Peters' 100 Ways to Succeed/Make Money". I loved the material - I think it would be really well suited to be a manifesto. If Tom does it, I hope someone will edit it for style (typography, not content). I love reading Tom Peters (if you haven't checked out his blog, "Dispatches from the New World of Work", read it); always thought-provoking, but sometimes its hard to get past all the exclamation mark! And. Sentence fragments!

Thanks to Troy Worman over at Orbit Now for pointing us to this. I keep reading Orbit Now 'cause I like the varied stuff Troy posts - some his own, some links, some insights, but also 'cause I think he has the coolest mantra/tagline - "Don't wait for permission to succeed". Sounds like a book title to me... do it up, Troy.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Bad paintbrush. Bad!

Bad paintbrush. Bad!

God, I am so NOT a painter. Imagine painting a color you thought looked great on the paint chip in your new office. Not one coat, but two. On two walls. And that you not only did a crappy job with the painting (poor cut-in, roller strokes - the usual), but that color, dried and up there on those two big 'ol walls, looks hideous. But that's OK, 'cause my co-workers will value that I put myself out there and tried, right?

Welcome to my personal hell.

I hate to paint. Never been good at it, either. I thought I was going to save myself or the company a few bucks and do it myself. Big mistake.

A friend is going to help me fix this tomorrow. I feel like an ass. Yet another reason to let people who are good at something you're not do the work.

Grrrrr... and the color looks almost like that in the picture here.

Picture Perfect

Picture Perfect

I may suck with a paintbrush, but occasionally I can take great digital, unenhanced photos like this one. Guess that's karmic... it all balances out somehow.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

New RSS Feed for blahgKarma...

Testing... 1, 2, 3

I'm testing a new RSS feed for blahgKarma, courtesy of FeedBurner, which is in beta. The advantages, besides getting some idea of view and click-through stats, is that FeedBurner will serve the feed in the format most friendly for each client/reader. We'll see...

The new feed is available at, or via the cute little "XML" flair to the left.

Be there. Aloha.


While we're on the subject of handy little blog widgets, I thought I'd mention the blogrolling tool/service that forms my blahgRoll for me. is a free service that lets you easily build and maintain a blogroll (with no technical knowledge) and then host it/post it on your blog.

It was idiot-simple to implement (again, some of you know me!):

  • Create an account.
  • Enter a few links.
  • Copy one line of code.
  • Paste code into Blogger template.
I upgrated to the Gold version for $20 US just so I could add some cool little icons to indicate which of the blogs on my blahgRoll had been updated and some other stuff (which isn't working quite right). I highly recommend the free service - the jury is still out on the $20 investment, though.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Nextel SUCKS!

Nextel Sucks.

I hate to be so hateful, but damn am I ever frustrated with Nextel! I got a Nextel phone when I started this job a year ago, and I can honestly say I've had a whole year's worth of problems. With a couple of hundred people in at least two organizations I might like to reach having Nextel phones, I finally got one, forsaking my nearly-perfect experience with AT&T Wireless. Which was no small feat, given I'd used them for - oh, I don't know, MAYBE 12 YEARS!

Problem 1: Cell calls drop. All the time. Regardless of location. Regardless of apparent signal strength. After having had two phones.

Problem 2: Radio is more unreliable than cell service. Direct Connect is very handy - when it works. I can be standing next to another subscriber, go to bleep him (that's a technical term) and get the dreaded yet ever-so-frequent "User Not Available" message. Not to mention that I'll frequently have a Direct Connect conversation in progress and then *magically* neither I nor the other end can get the other party. Just like that.

Problem 3: Its not just me. Its everyone I know locally that's using Nextel.

Problem 4: Despite numerous complaints, tech support calls, threats on large organizations' parts to DC the service...
no joy.

Organizations I work with are HUGE users of Nextel. And the ones I know are ALL complaining about the crappy service. Rumor has it that Nextel doesn't have the bandwidth they need in Florida, and folks attribute both the radio and cell interruptions to that. All I know is I'm starting to look for the alternatives, 'cause having a Nextel so you can bleep someone else isn't a competitive advantage when all the bleeps are covering my expletives.

p.s. I guess I'm not the only one who thinks so low-ly of Nextel. Click here for a Technorati search for other similar comments. Technorati, as opposed to Nextel, rocks.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

While We're Warming Up...

Hey, while I was trying to keep warm here I surfed over to Troy Worman's Orbit Now! blog where I read his Manifesto. Of course since I like to tell everyone what to do, I suggested Troy pick a manageable number of his comments, flesh them out and then pitch ChangeThis for publication. I'll bet he does it - he seems like a pretty motivated guy - or maybe he wrote the post to flesh out thoughts for doing just that.

If you're not reading Orbit Now, check it out. You'll enjoy it.

Its Going to Snow Here Tonight...


OK, maybe not but it damn sure feels like it. Its 52 degrees in my little (outdoor) office, headed to somewhere around the mid to upper 30's, I hear. Which, in South Florida, is a kind of emergency. The Red Cross is opening a shelter in Stuart tonight - hopefully those who need it will know and use it so we don't have any exposure deaths.

I wonder if this is going to hammer the Citrus industry - again. Between the hurricanes and this cold snap if it has an effect, we're going to be screwed for Florida orange and grapefruit juice for a year.


Read a Tom Peters comment this evening regarding design (see item 15 if you click through). I found it interesting because I'm in the process of designing a couple of websites and have been torn on "how designed" they should look/be. You know what I mean - whether the sites are relatively utilitarian in how they wrap or present the content, or whether they should be more/highly "polished".

Browsing around, I tripped over a site called imagehall hosting photos by a German photographer named Daniela Boerner. Loved the photos - similar to work I'd like to find the time to do - but also loved the simple, clean design of the site, and how the site theme changed to complement the photos. Simple idea, simple execution, big impact. Tom, if you're reading, check it out... (grin)

I've often said I don't have a creative bone in my body, and other than my dabbling in photography or writing here in blahgkarma don't really have a creative outlet. I guess I left cooking off the list - shouldn't have. That's certainly a creative endeavour. Enjoying the photography, and stepping my way through Photoshop, though primarily for work. Used to do a lot of B&W architectural photography at night when I lived in Burlington, Vermont but abandoned it within a couple of weeks of moving to Florida. Seems like a lifetime ago...

More Stupid Human Tricks...

Comes in too handy

Having apparently reached a pinnacle of stupidity, I'm missing the Blog Business Summit in Seattle. Sheet. SonOfBeech!

I can't believe I did this, but when I booked my travel I set up a flight on standby from West Palm to Seattle for Monday so I could use some of my gazillion miles. Does anyone see a problem here? Since the conference actually STARTS on Monday, that's a pretty big screw-up.

I'll bet the event will be great, and I'm pissed I won't see it, meet folks or be able to do the business I'd hoped to do when in Seattle. And, since I'm working on a couple of commercial website projects, I'll miss the direct benefit of the content.

Of course the biggest issue is that Harry is going to kill me, like I posted. But, I'd need to be in proximity for him to make good on the threat - which obviously isn't happening this week. Sorry Harry, sorry Halley, sorry Tom, sorry Scoble... you guys will have to get on without me (grin).

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

HD Looking UP?

HD Looking Up?

Browsing my inbox this morning and read an e-mail from DirecTV. I usually trash these, since they tend not to have anything new I'm interested in, but for whatever reason I opened it. Typical Marketing-speak (paraphrased :-)...

"Its a new year. DirecTV loves you. We're doing a bunch of (not really so) new things. We're rethinking TV. Blah, blah, blah."

Just as I got ready to trash the note, I read this under "Coming Up":

• Four new satellites providing over 1,500 high-definition channels across the country

What? Is that true? I wonder what that means, exactly (like are they repackaging a bunch of content that's not HD and somehow delivering it as HD? Hell, I'd be happy with something like 20 new channels, although I don't want to pay more than they're already clipping me for the existing couple of channels.

Makes me think more about that HD Tivo. But not enough more to buy it - yet.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Holy Crap, the New Acrobat is Fast!


Download the new Acrobat 7 reader. Guess its called Adobe Reader now. Whatever. If you're viewing PDFs (who isn't?), you want this upgrade, which opens up - oh, I don't know - maybe 100 times faster than Reader 6. Forget about the new features - the damned thing finally PERFORMS.

I have a love-hate relationship with Acrobat. We used to sell against Adobe for electronic forms applications and beat the crap out of them; an enterprise-wide deal with Boeing (where we beat them, BTW) didn't hurt. But for static content (i.e. you're not filling and trying to store/workflow/integrate with other systems), PDFs are great.

I ordered the new Pro version of Acrobat (the whole deal, not Reader), but its not here yet so I DL'd the Reader and like the performance. I like to store documents I'm circulating in PDF, but I'm not using it - or anything, really - for e-forms since the Shana days. God, we were ahead of our time. Designing and distributing and filling forms with our products was a head-and-shoulders-above experience versus even current versions of competing tools. Which is why FileNet snapped us up before someone else could. It certainly wasn't for our good looks or a variety of other company attributes.

I miss our old apps - I could really apply them to good use at my new gig - and my old pals. Used Excel to design a simple form the other day - it sucked compared to what Informed used to do, and the user's experience will pretty well suck too, but its better than paper. That's life...


I have to admit, I'm jonesing for a Personal Video Recorder, or more specifically, the way-too-expensive-to-warrant-buying-it HD PVR for DirecTV. I think its a grand, but I can put that kind of "cha-ching" to better use...

I went HD maybe a year and a half or two years ago... moved from cable to DirecTV, bought a fancy Sony HD-SAT200 receiver and then figured out that there's still a dearth of HD programming. And at something like $800 for the receiver, this was none too fun to figure out.

I guess its getting better. And, I truly enjoy watching {whatever} in HD and with digital sound when I can find it. I'm still peeved to have to invest in the hardware AND pay more for the DirecTV HD content (whatever happened to the "razor and razorblades" thing - shouldn't I just have to pay for one or the other?). Maybe I'll just choke down getting another receiver (a standard DirecTV PVR is $100 plus another $5 a month for the extra box).

Friday, January 14, 2005

But what did you expect?

Excellent post in the Worthwhile Blog by Halley Suitt from Halley's Comment on under-promising and over-delivering. This is one flavor of a skill that is so simple to master in many ways, yet so ignored by many of the professionals I know. I'm glad she blogged it.

We so often set our clients' expectations, and far too many times don't even realize we're doing it. That's a mistake. And, expectations we set regarding schedules, deliverables, all sorts of work products are often just plain wrong - too optimistic in timeline, no slack for what I call the "shit happens factor". That's sloppy work. I'm guilty of it myself on occasion, but I work hard to avoid it.

To me, success in business rides right on top of not just meeting, but exceeding clients' expectations. Another tenet of success, and we certainly saw this in the consulting and software businesses, is understanding what your client NEEDS, which so very often is neither what they think nor say is what they want. Understanding the real problem, doing the front-end work with the client so they can understand it, and gaining enough of their trust to let you assist is all hard work. And it all slides down a slippery slope toward the crapper when you do a bad job of managing their expectations.

Like I wrote below, the quality of any product or service is exactly what the customer says it is. How do you think they form those impressions? Its not rocket science.

Sorry Dave...

Sorry Dave!

When I got the computer this morning I had the following e-mail waiting for me from Technorati support:


Searching for your own blog URL will show you links to it,
not your own posts. The idea behind cosmos is to show people
linking to you; the assumption is that if you know the url, you
don't really need us to show you the posts.

I hope that makes some sense.

To which I gingerly respond... DUH!

I was curious how quickly Technorati indexed posts (it turns out its generally within minutes!), so I put my blog URL in, not the content of a post. The service isn't designed to regurgitate every posting one makes). Funny... when you use it right, the service works every time!

Sorry for the trouble, Dave. Thanks for watching this latest edition of "Stupid User Tricks", and now a word from our sponsors...

Thursday, January 13, 2005


And - I got an e-mail from Technorati support this evening. Dave DID forward the issue to the developers.


Technorati - "Off the Hook" Customer Service...

Have you ever gotten a tech support call - from the vendor, unsolicited? Never heard of it. But I got one of these. OK, it was an e-mail; well, actually a comment on a post that generated an e-mail...

Did you read my post on the coolness of Technorati? If you didn't, take a minute to read it, and then come back...

Besides commenting on how cool Technorati is, I also commented on a glitch I experienced. Which, and I'm floored to say it, made its way (via Technorati, no doubt) to David Sifry, the founder/CEO. He then commented on the post:

"Hey, thanks for the kind words! I'm going to send this issue directly to our developers, we'll look into what's going on and help get things fixed for you. Hey we're still a young service and still have bugs.

Thanks again for saying such kind things about Technorati. We are 100% focused on serving you.


Sonofabitch, this guy has some balls. Talk about Customer Service. Mommy! And he encourages people to contact him - directly. What's he thinking? (grin).

This is definitely an example of at least two very interesting things...

  • what "going to the edge for the customer" means (in 15 years of dealing in technology, I've NEVER had this experience).
  • what a wild and useful utility/service Technorati is.
I have no idea how these folks make money - if they do - but the ability to have a watchlist perpetually scanning the blogosphere for whatever interests me, get updated via RSS and facilitate these kinds of nearly-instant connections is revolutionary.

Check out Dave's Blog. And Dave, if you're listening/reading (and I know you are), I hope you're going to the Blog Business Summit. If you are, I'm buying you the beverage of your choice!

More Karma...

I'm Going!

Wouldn't you know it... I had no sooner posted below that I was hoping the Seattle trip for the Blog Business Summit and more would work out, and I got the e-mail I was hoping for from my boss.

My employer works with several organizations in the Pacific Northwest, and I'm going to combine some personal business with business-business and do a couple of site visits. I always enjoy seeing what others are doing that's innovative, and haven't come away from a site visit yet where I didn't collect up good ideas.

As for the Blog Business Summit, I hope to meet Tom Peters and Halley Suitt, among others. I'm less interested in the business blogging than I am in better getting a handle on blogging in general - where its going, why its become such a social phenomenon, where might the opportunities be. And what better way to gain the insight than to interact with thought-leaders on the subject. At a cheap price. In a great city. Can't be beat.

Einstein once said he liked to "polish [his] mind off of the bright minds of others"... I love the same. And, we're going to do some benchmarking projects this coming year, so it will be good to make the contacts with my peers and out of our local market.

Chill, Harry... I'll get with you on the details (grin).

Premature Clue-age...


I might have been premature in posting my Seattle clues below. I'm trying to commit for the Blog Business Summit coming up at the end of the month, but I have a question outstanding for my boss so I haven't locked it in yet.

Harry left me a VM saying it was nice he had to hear from blahgKarma that I'm coming, rather from me. He also said I'd better come 'cause he told Scoble I'm coming, and if I don't he (Harry, not Scoble) will look bad and will have to kick my ass. Which, if you know Harry, you know he could do. Easily. While juggling or coding, or both.

I hope I can work this out. The conference has a bunch of great speakers and interesting attendees lined up, plus it will be great to travel and have a little fun. Not to mention seeing friends like Harry and Jules, who are not only expecting a new baby, but are looking at a new house too - thinking good thoughts for you guys on both fronts.

MS Spyware Review

Good review in eWeek on the new Microsoft AntiSpyware tool. I downloaded and installed the beta, and it seems to be doing its job without incident. I like it. The review points out a couple of weaknesses and issues, but I'm sure the product will tighten up before its released. I'm a little concerned about subscription costs, but think some sort of update service for a product like this is a requirement, not a nice-to-have. And with the major pain-in-the-ass Spyware is becoming, I'm glad to try the tool, Microsoft nay-sayers notwithstanding.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Boomerang Thang...

Thanks for the Boomerang...

blahgKarma was mentioned in The Occupational Adventure, an excellent blog by Curt Rosengren. If you're interested in the topic of being passionate about one's work, you need to read this. I like the casual, conversational writing style, but also greatly enjoy the wide range of topics Curt is writing about, including his recent work in the Worthwhile Magazine blog.

Thanks for the "boomerang" recognition, Curt, and keep up the good work.

Another hint...

Wonder what this could mean?

Getting to "No" You...

Great post on "things to say no to" in business on Sam Decker's blog, Decker Marketing. If you're a manager, executive, or business owner and you know me, you'll often hear me talk about dropping the stuff that doesn't get you to the goal-line, and pretty directly. That's the gist of Sam's post, which I think has a lot of merit.

Saying no is one of the hardest things I learned in going out on my own and into business. I'm still not good at it in many ways, but I got good at looking at strategy and then what folks were doing and questioning the stuff "we've always done", and especially things we did "because we've always done it this way". Not always tactfully, but honestly.

Learning to drop customers, products, initiatives, goals - even people - that no longer (or maybe never really did?) lead directly toward success is a hard thing to get used to, but get used to it; its an essential business skill.

What can you stop doing this year to be more successful?

Thanks to Ross at Strategize, one of the cool blogs I'm reading, for posting on this and in turn twigging me to it.

Technorati is Cool!

If you're not familiar with Technorati, its a very cool (free) service that crawls and indexes the blogosphere and then provides a search engine on top of its results. It also understands the relationship between blogs, in a way - like how blogs are connected via reference. A simplistic view, but pretty accurate, I think.

Anyway, a great feature of Technorati is the ability to set up a Watchlist, which is in effect an agent that automatically watches the world of blogs for a search term or terms you specify and then notifies you about hits via RSS. Sounded slick - I thought I'd try it to see what happens.

Well, first of all, when its working well it seems to be updated very promptly. Second, when its working well the Watchlists are updated quickly. Third, when its working well, you find out stuff in near-real time, like for instance that there's a new edition of Students of the Unusual hitting the streets this week. Pretty cool!

I stress "when its working well" only because I'm scratching my head about something that doesn't seem to be working well with the service. My blog, blahgkarma, is "claimed" by me in Technorati. And I tell Technorati manually when I update the blog (this should be unnecessary, but I do it anyway). But when I do a search on Technorati for blahgkarma, the newest results (i.e the posts I see) are from thirty days ago, and its always the same four posts. But if I put in a string that appears within a given post, I get the result, and fast - like within 10 minutes of making the post in some cases. Wierd. I've reported it but haven't heard anything. You can't bitch when the service is free, so I'm not.

I like the service, and who knows - maybe I did something wrong when I added the Technorati code to my site template. Either way, the Watchlist feature seems to be very working well, and quickly - the blog entry from Comic List it notified me of was made only a few hours earlier. How's that for speed?

Rock on, Technorati.

update: another Students of the Unusual mention at the Little Terrors blog... the comics are generating buzz, which is great for Pat and Terry. Congrats, guys, and BTW - Technorati Watchlists RULE.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Checks and Balances...

Step Into My Office...

My Office - Sort OF

Welcome to my office. Well, one of my offices, anyway. OK, its really just a county park that I sit at and work sometimes...

Where I office has been a running joke since I started my job, as in I haven't had one. Its not for lack of interest on the company's part... but the place where my work focuses didn't have enough room for me, so I've had the good news/bad news scenario of working from home and seeing clients out for the past 10 months or so. It made more sense at the time than sinking something like six grand of the company's hard earned cash into renting a place I'd probably be in half the time anyway.

Anyone who's worked from home knows what I'm talking about on the good news/bad news front... the freedom to set hours and work the way you want, balanced by all manner of home activities swirling around. At a previous house I had a sweet little apartment on the back of my garage that was the world headquarters for my then-business, SquareOne Solutions. Little did the CIO at The World Bank or Apple or Motorola clients know or care that I did some of my best thinking and most creative problem solving in a little 150 sf efficiency apartment.

Its different now. I love the view as I sit on the back porch using my cell and surfing the web wirelessly, but I'm sick of it, too. Not having a place to go for work has the attendant disadvantage of having to keep all the crap that supports your work - somewhere. And working from home IN your home as opposed to in an office AT your home sucks.

I'll have a new office in the next couple of weeks, and while I'll miss the view of the pool I can always work from home a day or two here and there, and can always sneak off to the park for a little creative thinking... like I did today.

Business Luck...

From re:invention blog - for women entrepreneurs:

"In an article titled, 'Lucky or Smart' in this month's edition of Inc. Magazine, Bo Peabody of Village Ventures gives a nod to a similar topic, which he calls 'creating business luck.' The article lifts from Bo's new book of the same name. Admittedly, Bo is reworking Thomas Jefferson's writings. Jefferson once wrote: 'I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.' An excerpt from Bo Peabody's article:

Business luck can be can create a company that gets lucky more often than the average company. Indeed, there is a pseudo-scientific formula for creating business luck. The key element is this: Lucky things happen to entrepreneurs who start fundamentally innovative, morally compelling, and philosophically positive companies...Serendipity -- the faculty of making fortuitous discoveries by chance -- causes lots of unexpected things to happen to a company. Some of these unexpected things are good. Some are bad. But because no one planned for the good things to happen, they appear as luck. In other words, the best way to ensure that lucky things happen is to make sure that a lot of things happen.

How true. I've been lucky enough (grin) to experience this, more than once. Its amazing how, with a creative eye toward just about any situation, opportunity can be found. So what do you call it when you trip over opportunity over opportunity? Business luck - albeit with a huge amount of prep backing it up.

The challenge for some I've worked with is to craft and mold and CLOSE the opportunity when it presents. For me, way too many otherwise-successful business people either shy away from opportunity - they don't see it, see it and don't understand it, or understand it but won't take reasonable risk to capture it - or they want to analyze it to death. What I'd call business intuition is a very important part of any organization's psyche, not matter how much they plan and analyze and manage and lead.

Food for thought. How are you at creating luck in your business? Remember - the harder you work, the luckier you'll likely be!

Please Don't Die...

Change Those Batteries

Every year Christmas Day, I change the batteries in all the smoke detectors in the house. I can't remember where I heard about the technique - the idea being you make the change on a day when you're going to remember it. This year I'm really cognizant of the job - we had a fire-related death in our neighborhood two months ago (actually just a couple of doors away). Smoke detectors save lives folks, but they have to be operative. You'd be surprised how many fires occur in dwellings where smoke detectors were present, but no batteries.

If you don't have smoke detectors on every floor of your dwelling, get them. Today. If you can't afford them, contact your local fire department and ask if they have a program to provide them - many departments do. In Martin County, call Fire Rescue headquarters at 772.288.5710 and ask...

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Dakota says "Who wants some popcorn?"

Friday, January 07, 2005

Happy New Year!

A Worthwhile Endeavour...

Thats me on the cover...

Just subscribed to the hardcopy version of Worthwhile magazine. You should too if you're interested in some insightful stuff that might get you thinking about work and work/life balance (if anyone has this, please e-mail me a some) . Here's the blurb:

The editorial mission of WORTHWHILE is to put purpose
and passion on the same plane as profit. WORTHWHILE
offers a roadmap for business success that is more personally
fulfilling and socially responsible. We live by the motto that it
is impossible to have a meaningful life without meaningful work.

Authors include Anita Sharpe, Curt Rosengren, David Batstone, David Weinberger, Eric McNulty, Halley Suitt, Kate Yandoh, Kevin Salwen, Rebecca Ryan, Tom Peters. How can they go wrong with that cast of characters?

The description seems a little stiff to me, given all the hip and talented contibutors... they need a better elevator pitch, I think. Doesn't at all detract from the excellent content of the mag, clean website or insightful blog, though.

The sub was 11 bucks for six issues. Should be well worth it.

btw - I was bullshitting you - that's NOT me on the cover (but you already knew that!)

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Posting Pics...

Anyone know a better/easier way to post pics to Blogger than Hello/BloggerBot? I like the tool, but my frustration is that it posts pictures as active entries. This means if I want to augment a post with a picture, I get an active entry in the blog - which I then wind up editing, saving as a draft, and then just using to copy the associated HTML and then pasting it into the REAL post. After which I trash the original picture-only post.

It would be easier if Hello either offered an option to post as Draft, or defaulted to it. I'm sure the reason they don't default to drafts is that its extra work for those who JUST post the picture.

If you know a streamlined way of doing this, please comment. I'd really appreciate it.

"Under the Buzz"?

In my most recent old life (I've had a few), I was a voracious consumer of information on the software industry. One person whose writings and teachings I put to good professional use was Geoffrey Moore, author of Crossing the Chasm. What a book... what a concept.

When I was studying Moore and considering engaging him for a project for our firm (we should have hired him or one of his associates - they'd have helped double our multiple on the acquisition), I came across a publication he's involved with called "Under the Buzz".

Under the Buzz is a monthly e-mail newsletter of sorts put out by The Chasm Group, or more specifically one of Moore's partners, Philip Lay. Here's the blurb:

Back to Basics in e-Business Markets by Philip Lay
Under the Buzz is a monthly publication that seeks to enable individuals who drive e-business strategy in their organizations to make sound business decisions. Philip Lay's stock-in-trade is to examine the basic value propositions of B2B and other high-tech companies, in order to understand how they can grow and thrive in the business-to-business e-marketplace.

If you're an executive in the software industry, read this thing - its free - if only for juicy articles like the one on the changing nature of the business for mid-sized players that's in this month's edition. You can sign up here. The writing style is simple, but the ideas powerful. In this article's case, I think 75% of the observations and recommendations could apply to the company I'm with today. Especially the parts about embracing change... highly applicable.

The only criticism I have here is that the package The Chasm Group delivers this little gem in sort of... sucks dirty pond water, to be blunt. As in no design. At all. None.

The website is beautifully simple and functional, but I've always felt a disconnect between the quality of the content and the quality of the presentation. Someone needs a corporate identity guideline and an e-newsletter makeover. Geoffrey, if you're reading - get your graphic designers to spruce this baby up! Or let me know... I'll do it for you.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Raising Ink...

Great post on getting PR. I love these rules, so I've shamelessly stolen them from re:invention, the blog for women entrepreneurs.

10 good rules of thumb when it comes to Ink-Raising:

1. Write good press releases, preferably those that
can be printed verbatim. Include quotable stats, top
5/10 lists, and facts of interest that people want
to know. Make your point quickly and make it well.

2. Be blurbable. Speak in blurbs - a blurb is a short,
meaningful statement that will pop in print (or sound
smart on air).

3. Never turn down an opportunity for media. Drop
everything when they call.

4. Stand for something - believe in what you do, what
your company does, be yourself, be honest, and declare
it with conviction.

5. Do something newsworthy and do well by doing good.
Make sure your company goes the distance with exceptional
and noteworthy products and service, do things differently,
suggest problems for which you have a solution, debunk
common myths, allude to controversial topics, align yourself
with powerful causes & national issues, get involved, volunteer
and advocate community involvement.

6. Toot your own horn. But be tasteful. Too soft and no one will
hear you, too loud you will turn people's stomachs.

7. If you want publicity, ask for it. You shouldn't be afraid to ask
for anything. Those who ask, get.

8. Network with the press at events. Networking means more
than new business lead generation. Meeting editors is equally

9. Email thank you notes to reporters, even for small mentions.
Thanking them opens the door to future communication. And
more importantly, it's just good common courtesy and polite!

10. Be committed to others' success. Introduce your contacts to
reporters to help them with their future stories. Promote other
sources that have something to say of value.

I'm pretty good at 3, 4, 5 and 9, and working on the rest. Some would say I'm too good at 6 (it tends to piss people off if you effectively promote yourself and create/leverage opportunity).

Thanks to Kirsten Osolind of re:invention. Here's her original post. I also enjoyed her recent post on marketing for women rather than marketing TO women.

Pro-Am or No-Am?

Very interesting post at Chris Anderson's blog, The Long Tail, on what's being called the Pro-Am Revolution (Pro-Am being Professional Amateur) in the UK. The gist is that Pro-Am's are 'amateurs' (meaning not professionals - not paid like professionals might be a better description) who achieve professional standards in some pursuit or another. I found the post and the attendant article/paper very thought provoking.

Here's a blurb on the subject:

From astronomy to activism, from surfing to saving
lives, Pro-Ams - people pursuing amateur activities

to professional standards - are an increasingly important
part of our society and economy.

For Pro-Ams, leisure is not passive consumerism but
active and participatory, it involves the deployment

of publicly accredited knowledge and skills, often built
up over a long career, which has involved sacrifices
and frustrations.

I've seen much of this and have personally lived it in Public Safety, albeit many moons ago.

Many years ago in Maine, I studied and certified as an Emergency Medical Technican. Our town had started a volunteeer ambulance service to complement its long-standing all-volunteer Fire Department (I was already a volunteer firefighter). Over the years the number of such departments has seriously declined, but people pursuing professional excellence as volunteers in fire and medical disciplines has continued. These people, when they're serious about it - when they're spending time and money to do it, when they're as talented as people that get paid for the job - are Pro-Am's. Even while I worked professionally as a Paramedic, I volunteered as a firefighter and continued my public safety education and efforts in that realm, including pursuing certification. I'm not sure what that's called...

Anyway, many parts of the country still have volunteer Fire Departments, Rescue Squads, Ambulance Services, etc. In fact, a large number of the folks who provide these services in the US are volunteer. Although at least on the EMS side of things, they have to certify just like the "professionals". The distinction being those who have a career - who make their living, essentially - providing the service. With dedication and training, they're all professionals.

I've known many over the years that have pursued Paramedic certification as a volunteer, or in exchange for some small stipend to offset some expenses. Because they wanted to practice this brand of pre-hospital medicine, regardless of how/whether they'd be paid. These folks were just as dedicated, just as professional, and just as highly trained as many of the career folks I know.

Americans as a society don't have the flexibility of schedules or proximity to home to allow many volunteer systems attain professionally recognized response standards, although many volunteers achieve the highest levels of professional certification.

I think there will be a new wave of financially-OK individuals pursuing professional excellence in these disciplines as our communities continue to deal with the aftermath of 9/11 and 'Homeland Security', with little or no expectation of making a living at it. The question will be where and how they'll be applied...

And it will certainly be interesting to see what sort of economies evolve around the Pro-Am's. I'll certainly be watching...

Quote of the Day...

"A helping hand is sometimes the best present of all."

Found on the inside of a Dove Milk Chocolate drop wrapper, of all places.

Manipulating Space and Time...

Time Machine

Halley posted the other day about manipulating the timing of posts so they appear in a particular order. Hadn't thought much about that, but then today I actually READ my blog as opposed to just posting to it, and realized I have a couple of postings I made over the holidays that I stored as DRAFT and never published. GENIUS.

I think I'll go back and post and back-date them, rather than just tossing them into the bit bucket. I don't thin they wouldn't make sense posted ahead, so what the heck. I mean - you may only have a certain number of words in you in this world, and I don't want to waste any (grin).

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

It Really Is a New Year

So Start Writing the Rest of Your Life

I stumbled on this quote at re:invention, a blog for women entrepreneurs - I was getting in touch with my feminine business side :-). Anyway, the quote spoke - even sung - to me after having read something thought-provoking at Halley's Comment.

Kind of makes you think, doesn't it? It did for me.

Need a pen? What are you writing in your book of Opportunity this year, or are others writing the book for you? Are you even awake and in tune enough to know what's being written?

Thanks, Halley.

Wishing I Was Here...

Wishing I was Here...

Damn I miss the offshore fishing. Hey Keith - if you're reading, how about another Costa Rica trip? I'm down, man... lets GO!

Monday, January 03, 2005

Been away for a week or so now... not physically, unfortunately, just mentally and emotionally.

The holidays are a crazy time of year for me in lots of ways, but we don't want to blog on or read about that, I'm pretty sure. This year they were safe and more relaxing than some for the couple of days I actually took off (I turned my cell off for two entire days between Christmas and today) which is good. Being in a hurricane-splayed house isn't so much fun (again, if you're a roofer - please come fix my roof). The physical disruption of having crap not where it usually goes sucks, and it feeds a little discord loop in my head - kind of like a little slightly-off-key Musak in the background.

How could I complain? I have a pretty great life. Health is good. Money in the bank and an income. A roof over my head. A family. But the holidays always remind me of times when some, most and even once none of the above were true. Not in a nostalgic, 'look at how lucky I am now' way, but more in a 'man, that SUCKED' way. Not sure why that is.

Got a little reality check from my son, though. We're driving along doing not much of anything and purely out of the blue he blurts out "We're pretty priveledged, aren't we Dad?". A sage comment from a 12 year old, but how true.