Archive for January, 2008

29
Jan
08

Neighborhood Raptor

There’s a new Sheriff on patrol in our neighborhood. And she doesn’t take kindly to varmints. The past few weeks has seen the appearance of a Cooper’s Hawk, commonly called a Chicken Hawk. The neighborhood dove population has taken a beating and one can often see little rodents being hauled off to a perch to be consumed. Will cats be next?

29
Jan
08

NYC Knows What’s Best

Let’s see… New York City has some of the most bizarre restrictions on what citizens can and cannot do with their rights. Wanna have a pistol? Get a permit. Wanna actually fix up your place? Get a permit. Now, you gotta get a permit if you want to know that there is a situation that requires the ever-vigilant NYPD to come save you. Richard Falkenrath, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner for counterterrorism, Mayor Michael Bloomberg have asked the City Council to pass a law requiring anyone who wants to own biological, chemical, and radiological detectors to get a permit from the police first. And it’s not just devices to detect weaponized anthrax that they want the power to control, but those that detect everything from industrial pollutants to asbestos in shoddy apartments. Want to test for pollution in low-income neighborhoods with high rates of childhood asthma? Gotta ask the cops for permission. Why? So you “will not lead to excessive false alarms and unwarranted anxiety,” the first draft of the law states.

So, it’s much better for the population at large to remain ignorant, and the over-burdened police be unaware of any potential situation, than for citizens to be able to at least take steps to protect *themselves* should a potential situation arise. Al Qaida won this round. He’s got NYC keeping their own population docile, like little sheeple, just waiting for another attack.

28
Jan
08

Celebrity Hot Tub

A classic for the ages… Eddie Murphy on Saturday Night Live doing the James Brown Celebrity Hot Tub. Eddie struggling to maintain composure is just icing on the cake…

28
Jan
08

Public Speaking: Da Rulz

There are but a few people who actually enjoy public speaking. An even smaller group of people is actually good at it. And by good, I mean a speaker that is so engaging that a transfer of knowledge takes place and the applause afterwards is more than perfunctory. I did the the public speaking thing for many years before I started my new “careers”. I can honestly say that it was the only part of the job that I truly enjoyed and I think I excelled at. Here’s my list of tips that may provide some help if you find yourself being the focus of many people who would rather be somewhere else.

  • Avoid being the last speaker (of the day, of the conference, before lunch, etc.). You may be the best speaker in the world, but nobody will be truly effective if they are the only thing between the audience and a cocktail, lunch, the flight home, etc.
  • Wear clean shoes. As in freshly polished and well-maintained. Speakers are usually speaking from a position above the audience. The audience tends to look down. Your shoes should look like you give a damn.
  • Gents – Wear a slightly loud, fashion forward tie. While the conservative power burgundy or presidential blue tie is a safe bet, you want to be memorable.
  • You’re probably going to be a little nervous. So what. Deal with it. Especially by preparing for excessive perspiration.
  • Engage the audience within the first two minutes. This can be done with a self-deprecating joke (be careful), a group exercise (not the jumping jacks thing), or even something as simple as a silly picture. You are trying to relax them and put them in the mind-set that your speech ain’t gonna be so bad.
  • Do not read your PowerPoint slides. Nobodys like to be read to. Your images are supposed to be foundational elements for your presentation, not the entire presentation.
  • Engage a few people in the crowd during the presentation. Keep coming back to them and actually interact.
  • Know your stuff. Very few people are good at ad-libbing an entire presentation. You should know your stuff inside and out. Know it to the point that when the laptop craps out (and it will), it doesn’t matter.
  • Don’t worry about the fact there will be asses whose phones go off and others who just get up and leave. They will be noticed by the audience for what they are.
  • Do not picture the audience in their underwear. Let’s face it, there will probably be some very attractive folks in attendance and the last thing that *you* want to do is get distracted with a little fantasy. Just relax. You want to share something that you know with these folks. But do look at them instead of your notes. Just don’t linger on the hottie in the third row.
  • Make sure that folks leave with something new. Some people refer to this as the “A-ha!” moment. If your audience leaves with just one new thing that is important to them, you are a success. Keep in mind that this thing could be different parts of your presentation for different folks.
27
Jan
08

Vegas Lives

Courtesy of VegasRex… Yes, the Monte Carlo is shut down. Yes, there are probably thousands of convention goers scrambling for reservations at other hotels. But it would appear that Vegas is already back to normal. The term “normal” being loosely applied. Midget Elvis sightings… check. Vegas never skipped a beat.

26
Jan
08

From The WTF? Department

I must admit, Techdirt has me wondering just what the hell is going on. I’m going to reprint the whole article here. The gist of it is that if you receive a C&D, even one that was dreamed up and extricated from out of somebody’s posterior, DO NOT post it on your web site. You will then become a copyright violater.

Back in October, we wrote about a law firm that was claiming a copyright on the cease-and-desist letters it sent out, and insisting that it was a violation to repost them. It’s long been believed that cease-and-desist letters that have no new creative expression and are merely boilerplates are likely not covered by copyright. On top of that, preventing someone from copying a cease-and-desist letter or posting it on their own website seems like a pretty severe First Amendment violation. The group Public Citizen hit back against this law firm’s claims, but surprisingly, a judge has now agreed that you can copyright cease-and-desist letters (thanks to Eric Goldman for emailing over the link). The news was announced in a press release by the lawyer in question, who claims this means he can now sue anytime someone posts one of his cease-and-desist letters. He also goes on to slam those who believe free speech means being able to talk about the fact that a company is bullying them:

The publication of cease and desist letters is an easy way for scofflaws to generate online ‘mobosphere’ support for illegal activity and, until today, many businesses have been hesitant to take action to address some of the lawlessness online because of possible retaliation and attacks.”

To which I would respond: “The copyrighting of cease-and-desist letters is an easy way for law firms to bully small companies who have committed no wrong, but who have no real recourse to fight back against an attempt to shut them up via legal threat. Until today, many companies who were being unfairly attacked by companies and law firms misusing cease-and-desist letters to prevent opinions from being stated, had a reasonable recourse to such attacks, and could draw attention to law firms that used such bullying tactics to mute any criticism.” This is an unfortunate ruling and can only serve to create a serious chilling effect on free speech.

25
Jan
08

Infuriating Marketing Change

I used to like VistaPrint. I’ve used them for years. Sometimes I would order their “free” business cards that had a VistaPrint advertisement on the back. It was reasonable, even considering that I had to pay their slightly inflated shipping charges for lengthy delivery times. I’ve also paid extra to have blank backs and to use my own images. Vista always respected my wishes to not fill my email box with spam deals. I liked that. They would tuck a coupon in with my order and when I needed something, I could use it at my discretion. I recently placed an order for around 3,000 business cards. And I paid a bunch extra for rush delivery. They arrived today. They were a little darker than expected, but they’ll do.

And then the phone rang. It showed up as a US number, but the pregnant pause between my answering the phone combined with the clicking sounds made it abundantly clear that I was being contacted via an auto-dialer and then transferred to a call center. The thickly accented Indian voice that finally said hello and then proceeded to botch the pronunciation of my name made things even more clear. Telemarketing. The woman wanted to know if my cards were right and then immediately went into a script trying to sell me on business consulting services and lead generation. I asked to be left alone, she tried to keep me on the line, and I told her I was hanging up, take me off of the call list, etc., and did.

Note to folks selling stuff: Don’t change the terms of you marketing approach in mid-stream. If you agree not to spam, keep your word. And that includes telemarketing. Why would I even consider a lowest cost printer as a provider of business services? I’m sure the call center in Mumbai or wherever is used to the rejection, though.