Friday, September 29, 2006

More insight regarding Facebook

Mark Cuban said something interesting at Advertising Week in New York.

Cuban cautioned advertisers against investing heavily in so-called viral campaigns that are spread by users beyond their initial point of distribution on YouTube or other video sharing sites. But he touted opportunities to run commercials on high-definition television such as his HDNet network.

"What makes viral so special is it's so hard to do. It's so hard to plan. It's hard to stand out," he said, describing 99 percent of money advertisers spend on viral campaigns as "wasted."

"You guys love to be the trailing edge," he said.

I think the second paragraph above is very applicable to my previous post on Facebook's new ad format.

Facebook seems to be trying to turn it viral and as Mark said, "its hard to do. "

I compare all of this to real world germs.

The common flu spreads naturally, it stinks to catch it, but if you get it from a friend it's unintentional.

Think of a bio-weapon like small-poxs, it's an intentional release and the backlash and devastation is clear. Quarantines are setup, etc.

If this format is to work, it's really got to be a great campaign. If not, you've just unleashed a bioweapon.

Next thing you know you'll have quarantines around your brand.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Facebook's new ad format like chain letters?

In Mediaweek

"The new Sponsor Stories ad unit will initially be placed in the third position
within each user's News Feed - as either a small banner-like placements or video
clip. When users elect to click on these ads, their entire network of friends
will be automatically alerted and then given the chance to interact with that
particular marketer's group."

If I understand this correctly, I'm on Facebook I click on one of these ads and then all my friends will be alerted of the ad I clicked on.

Remind you of something?

Those great chain letters that you get from friends or those jokes you never want to read.

In my opinion this is not the way to leverage social networking.

Social networking data needs to be leveraged in a non-explicit fashion. There needs to be more relevance than just one degree of separation.

If "friending" is a true phenomena the relevancy of association is greatly reduced, thus increasing the annoyance factor of these, "hey I just checked out this ad alerts." The strength of each connection needs to be valued individually to determine the proper group to pass along a similar marketing message.

Pink Floyd fans should check this out

I work at AOL and use AIM for my communication needs. One nice feature of the Triton client is that I can listen to AOL Radio (yes, it's free).

There's a station on the radio called Psychedelic under the Rock genre, they play some of the deepest Floyd tracks. Meddle and Ummagumma have been rotating heavily recently. Definitely worth checking it out.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Update: Three, not two, indicators of a bad hotel

1. They charge you $1 to use the in-room safe. update: had this removed from the bill. Just saved AOL $1

2. The sink's hot and cold are reversed.

3. You catch another hotel guest watching porn in the gym at 6am in the morning. To quote him, "I don't understand how this was on the tv." Hmm, I wonder....

Canceling my Lingo VOIP Service

I'm on the phone right now trying to cancel my Lingo VOIP phone line. I've got my AIM Phone Line which is more than adequate and works on my Comcast cable modem service.

The phone representative is doing a good job trying to keep me: down grade the service, one month free.

It wasn't a painful experience, I think my reason for canceling wasn't in their rebuttal book: I just don't need the service anymore.

He did tell me to take down my cancellation number, in case I needed to call back. I ask him, "Are you expecting me to have to call back?"

He laughed and said, "No, just in case."

Maybe I should be crying?

Next time you cancel something try, "I just don't need it anymore." It's probably not in a single rebuttal book.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Importance Of Vacation at Yahoo

Kevin Delaney has an interesting article in the WSJ this morning regarding Yahoo requiring it's employees to take off the week between Christmas and New Years. As mentioned in the article this has interesting timing considering their comments regarding a slow down in some online advertising verticals.

Yahoo management mentions this is "guilt-free time off."

While at I loved that week between Christmas and New Years. It was my catch-up week since fourth quarter was always extra busy for sales which in turn meant it was extra extra busy for operations. It allowed me to get ready and recharge for the onslaught of first quarter.

Personally I'm not a big fan of mandatory vacations. I'd much rather have people take vacation throughout the year. Vacation is a great way to help re-prioritize and empower your employees.
If you're a manager it forces your direct reports to step-up. It also allows you to reevaluate what you can delegate. Something you always do, something you used to cherish doing, now you don't. It might be something a direct really will be fired up to do, or improve on how you do it. Different perspective. Maybe you stop doing something that you realize nobody finds any value in?

If you're on the front lines it forces your peers to step-up. Is there a good coverage plan? Are your department's internal processes designed well to allow for redundancy? How much extra capacity is in your operations?

As a manager or front line employee you should strive to ensure every vacation is guilt-free. Managers make sure the machine doesn't stop and fail if you or a direct leaves. Employees if you see that the processes you have break when someone takes time off work with your managers to FIX those problems.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Great Yoga Mat

Just tried my new Manduka 71" Black Mat at Mandala Yoga in Amagansett. This mat is about twice as thick as a normal yoga mat and is super comfortable on a hardwood floor. It's all natural rubber apparently. Only downside is that's probably 2-3 times heavier than a normal yoga matt.

Honda Element Windshield Crack Update

Beginning of this year I blogged about replacing my Honda Element windshield for the second time. This week I received a letter in the mail regarding a class action lawsuit where among various things I could potentially get reimbursed for my two repairs.

We'll see if I ever see a cent back, but it's good to see a class action lawsuit actually addressing a real issue and Honda owning up to their mistake.

Now I have to find my receipts for the windshield repairs.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Email addresses are sticky, but not that sticky

AOL email has been free for about a month and a half and in a previous post I wrote about the front desk clerk at my hotel and how she was about to switch to Comcast.

Well again I was in Baltimore this week and sure enough when I was checking-in the front desk lady asked me where I worked, "AOL."

FDL, "Oh I used to be AOL for years but I switched to Verizon DSL."

Me, "How long ago did you leave AOL?'

FDL, "Long time,

Me, "How long?"

FDL, "About 3 months ago."

Me, "Did you know that you can get your email address back at AOL - no charge?"

FDL, "Really? That would be great, everyone knows me by my AOL email address. Now when I send emails people don't know it's me anymore."

Me, "Well just log back in and you should be set, if not call."

She was so happy. It feels good when something like this happens. My bigger concern is how many other front desk people exist. They just don't know and we need to reach them before they fully switch to their new non-AOL email address.

YouTube Customer Non-Service Continues

On Tuesday of this I wrote about poor customer service at YouTube.

I responded back to their automated email which I thought would lead to a real answer.

What came back?

Account Questions:
Can I change my username?
Unfortunately, users are
unable to change their usernames. There is simply too much information tied to
each account. You may, however, sign up for a new account with the username that
you desire.
Can I upload videos longer than 10 minutes / larger than
If you create your own content and are looking to share it with the
world, we invite you to join our Director Program (, which eliminates the 10-minute time
limitation on uploads. The 100MB file size still applies, however.What if I
donÂ’t want to get emails when my videos are commented on, etc?
You can enable
or disab enable or disable YouTube notifications by navigating to your profile,
selecting ‘edit’ in the yellow box near the top of the page, and then ‘email
optionsÂ’ on the right. From here you can check/uncheck the boxes that you wish.
Click save and youÂ’re set!
How do I close my account?
If you would like to
close your account please go to \nIf youÂ’ve had a
video removed or your account has been suspended and donÂ’t understand why,
please read our terms of use againa here, \nFor all the parents
out there and users between 13 – 18 years old, please review our safety tips to
make sure you are safely using the service
none of the above information has helped you with your problem, please feel free
to write back to this response. Include as much detail as possible so that
we can attempt to recreate the issue you are experiencing. The more
information you are able to provide us with the better so that we can solve your
issue in a timely manner.",1]
If you would like to close
your account please go to
If youÂ’ve had a
video removed or your account has been suspended and donÂ’t understand why,
please read our terms of use againa here,
For all the parents
out there and users between 13 – 18 years old, please review our safety tips to
make sure you are safely using the service .

Yes, I realize the copy/paste was terrible, but again clearly nobody read my question. I'm going to email them again and elaborate on my simple problem of not being able to register my blogger account.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Poor example of customer service at YouTube

I've been trying for a day or so now to embedded the Roger Waters pig video on this blog. When I go to setup my blog on YouTube it just keeps saying "accessing account." I decided to submit a question early yesterday morning.

Having trouble registering my blogger blog so I can embed videos. Just keeps
saying accessing account.

What do I get back over 12 hours later?

Hi there and thanks for contacting us!
In response to your email we have
provided you with answers to almost all of the questions that we receive.
If you are one of the very few who has a question we haven't heard before,
and your issue isn't addressed below, please respond to this email and we will
help you personally!

[Insert a bunch of FAQ answers.]

Why couldn't that email have been sent right after I requested help? It doesn't seem to me that anyone in customer support actually needed to think to send that reply.

My guess is that the beta login for Blogger is causing their process to choke.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Jones Beach Roger Waters Pig Video Clip

For some unknown reason I can't embed video from Youtube on my blog, but here's a link to the video of the pig.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Legalize It

60 Minutes tonight had a great piece on Internet gambling. It was a replay from last year, but first time I watched it.

"The federal government is clear: gambling on the Internet is against the law."

Well as I wrote before, Amtrak accepts money from off shore gambling companies. Last time I checked the majority of the people riding are US citizens.

The Federal government should just legalize it, regulate it, and TAX it. Gambling is everywhere - state lotteries, native American casinos to name a few.

Imagine if you could earn comps online for transfer to your favorite Vegas casino?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Roger Waters doesn't seem to like George W

It's lightly raining and Jones Beach has no protection from the weather. It's packed, people drinking in the parking lots, getting frisked on the way in.

We find our seats and cover ourselves with plastic ponchos to keep the rain off. There are people smoking pot everywhere. If I sampled the people sitting directly around me (except for my wife) I'd find drugs on everyone.

First set are some oldies, Set the Controls for Heart of Sun.

Roger also plays a couple of his more recent works as well as one written about his hitchhiking in Lebanon. Two guys sitting to our left start booing because of the anti-Bush political messaging.

At one point they bring out the pig balloon and a guy dressed up as a butcher who leads it around through the crowd. Written on the pig were a few slogans, one of which was "Impeach Bush" on it's butt.

At this point Cheech and Chong next to us start booing and screaming "Go home {insert derogatory homosexual term}." Nice, REALLY NICE I forgot where I read in the Republican docket that illegal drug use as being OK.

Now another guy starts screaming, "Remember 9-11."


Cheech buddys up with 9-11 guy and they start complaining how Roger should just play his music. They didn't pay to get political messages and look at all the people cheering.

If you just want to hear the music, buy a CD and sit at home with a tube of model airplane glue.

It's a concert and it's his concert, let him say what he wants. I know my political views weren't changed by any of his comments. Maybe they were concerned that they would be swayed under their heavy consumption of weed?

Second set, Dark Side of the Moon played in it's entirety. Simply amazing.

Last song of the night - Comfortably Numb

Best part about it was there was lightening in the distance that seemed to be choreographed with the music.

Jones Beach still stands as the best venue for a concert.

Getting to Jones Beach for Roger Waters

Concert is at 8pm, wife and I leave at 6pm.

It's been raining all day out East. Traffic on 27 is bad in both directions, so we veer off to take the back roads.

I've never seen flooding like this, maybe back in the 80s with a hurricane. I'm driving a Honda Element and we crossed a few flooded areas where I wasn't sure we'd make it. I wish I had a video camera. One "puddle" that we crossed was about 75 long and the SUV in front of us thought driving at less than 5 mph and stopping occasionally would be a good way to make it across. I gunned it right past them.

We had to get back onto the main road because the back roads were getting too deep.

Numerous flooded areas heading out, with line of traffic heading East was significant and I wondered what would come of the Porsches and Minis about to cross these fijores. One we cross was so deep there were foot high waves going back and forth from all the cars driving through.

Made it to Jones Beach at 8:15 pm - Roger wasn't on yet.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Tree Skiing and Business Goals

Company incentive programs and goals are similar to tree skiing.
When you enter a glade (area of trees you ski or snowboard through) your end goal is to make it to the other side.
As you approach each tree, your mini goal is to miss each tree. As you progress through the glade, each tree avoidance is a mini-win. Each tree is a step to emerging successfully from the glades.
The key to avoiding each tree is to look past it, look at where you want to go, don't focus on the most imminent tree.
If you focus on the oncoming tree, you'll most likely smack right into it.
Glades are usually big enough for different paths, different trees that each person must navigate.
Goal and incentive setting in business is similar to tree skiing.
To often companies give individuals goals that represent avoiding a particular tree, they don't focus on exiting the glades. If a person focuses on avoiding the tree versus making to goal of the white space after the tree, good chance they'll hit the tree. If the tree is your only goal you aren't out of the woods yet.
Successful goal setting and incentives need to focus on the successful completion of the overall goal while making sure people understand in general to watch out for the trees. Business is dynamic and it requires people to be flexible and turn on a moments notice. Hence focusing on one particular tree tends to reduce the ability to dynamically navigate the glades of business.
Different departments may have different trees to avoid, but they should all be in the same forest looking to come out to the same place as everyone else.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Five years ago tomorrow

I'm sure there are millions of posts about the fifth anniversary of September 11th, 2001 I'm throwing mine in.
I still remember the day so clearly in my mind.
Sitting at my desk in Tide Point at Third floor, next to the window facing the molasses tanks.
Instant message pops up from my college friend Nell, she's in the city and tells me a plane hit the WTC. I mention this to people around me, no one believes me.
It's off to to see what's going on. I keep hitting refresh, finally something comes up.
First it was a small text headline, then a picture, then the site goes down.
I call my parents in the Hamptons, I tell them to turn the TV on.
Next I call Andy Monfried my co-worker and friend in our NYC office. No answer at his desk, I try his cell.
He answers and tells me he's by the back window of the office watching the first tower burn, he tells me bodies are falling. As we are talking he starts screaming, the second plane comes roaring overhead and slams into the other tower. Andy hangs up and heads to his car to get out of the city with as many co-workers as he can.
At some point I ping my friends in Washington about the rumors of another crash. My best friend Geoff, (best man in my wedding) lived in Crystal City at the time, which was right next to the Pentagon.
My fraternity brother Paul directs me to his website,, it has traffic cams all around DC. One was right next to the pentagon, the plane actually knocked it off the light post on it's way down. It was still working, picture was upside down, but you could see the Pentagon on fire.
I start to wonder if any of Nell's family are in the towers, many of them are in the bond business. I know Cantor occupies the top floors, I interviewed there a few years earlier with two Johns Hopkins/Delta Upsilon alumni. Both died that day.
Most of the people at head upstairs to the penthouse to watch the television. That's where we see the first tower collapse.
Whenever I see the footage of that day, my entire body tenses up and I get really angry.

Interesting article about Mad Honey

Apparently honey bees can collect pollen from poisonous plants and you can get sick if you eat it. Click Here

Friday, September 08, 2006

Done with incorporating video on this blog from Google Video

You'll notice a second post of the dorey video from PlumTV hosted on Google Video. Again it doesn't work.

If anyone has any insight let me know.

Real Men: East Hampton Dory Squad - Video

My comments - The Hamptons have a rich history, this is a great video depicting the dory men. These shots of them launching boats into the ocean from the beach are amazing.

Everyday heroes lived among us. They were men who dedicated themselves to assisting those caught in peril at sea. These were fishermen who understood the dangers of the surf and were a crucial part of the emergency response team for the Hampton's East End community. For close to 30 years The East Hampton Dory Rescue Squad assisted boaters in distress from Montauk to Bridgehampton. The Squad was made up of local offshore fishermen, Haul-seiners, whose unique ability to launch boats directly from the beach, proved to be vital technique in reaching those in harm. Between the Slatch: The East Hampton Dory Rescue Squad, looks at the rescue efforts of the volunteer team from 1978 to 2005. The documentary reviews the roots of the Dory Squad in the United States Lifesaving Service, as well as the role Haul-sein Fishing played in the Squads unique history.

About Plum TV®

Plum provides highly localized programming and strives to be an incubator of groundbreaking new television programming. Each Plum station is unique, providing original programming customized to each community. Plum programming includes regionally-focused feature pieces, tourist information (weather, traffic reports, restaurant reviews, retail and lodging information), a real estate show, local news and specially targeted entertainment for each community's interests.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

On the road again

I'm headed to the Hamptons on the Jitney, it's around 8:30. It's definitely after Labor Day, the bus has a handful of people riding on it.

One person is coughing and I hope it's not TB.

I'm writing this using Writely the new online word processing service by Google. I love this thing. It's much more stable then writing directly in Blogger.

Ok it's almost 9 and we made it past the traffic. We are cruising on 495.

Tomorrow is the last day of one of my team members, who will be missed. She was the pioneer of a new role being piloted. So standup that she actually stayed engaged during the last few weeks and helped train her replacements.

Signing off at exit 37

Monday, September 04, 2006

New flight security restrictions marketers delight

Eating breakfast this morning my wife mentioned to me that wealthy women on airplanes were having trouble coping without their creams and lotions to keep their skin moist. Since I'm always in marketing mode, I mentioned this would be a incredible marketing opportunity for high-end skin care companies to provide free samples. My suggestion would be to focus on first class and business class and offer either a male or female targeted product.

Let's see how things develop.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The History Boys & Roger Waters

My wife and I received tickets to the History Boy's play as a gift and last night was the show.

Couple thoughts -

1. Tickets were almost $100 each and I understand why theater is declining in this country. Maybe it was only this theater, but those seats are really packed in there. My wife and I are not particularly tall people, but we were uncomfortable. The crowd was older and maybe they are used to this, but what's going to happen with the MySpace generation? They have custom chairs for playing video games.

Movie theaters have stadium seating. Younger people are used to comfort.

2. We had the pleasure of sitting next to a MySpace couple and they were slurping down wine at their seats (against the rules) as well as sprawling themselves across our seats.

3. The play was OK - best parts were the use of black and white movie clips that transitioned between different scenes. They played some great 80s music, and I was "hungry like the wolf" for more. The party of three sitting in front of us apparently did not think it was ok, they never returned after intermission. Either they had a bad meal at one of those theater dining specials in the area or they were disappointed.

4. I hope there is never a fire or emergency in the theater, the logistics of getting to seats and the number of people who have trouble navigating them is a recipe for disaster.

5. Our being in the city intersected with a text message from my fraternity brother Paul, who was meeting up with Shaggy (aka Jay, my little brother) at the bar he bartends at. I haven't seen Shaggy in years, we haven't stayed in touch and I feel bad about that. He wants to get out of bartending, I have a gut feeling online ad trafficking would be a great fit for him.

6. Free drinks and not paying attention to the Metro North train schedule leads to having to take a cab all the way home to the burbs. The cab drivers have a great racket, they are there waiting for you to find the doors locked at GCT. There is also a handy kebob stand so you can buy some late nite food and drink for the long ride home.

7. I'm getting really excited for Roger Waters at Jones Beach on the 15th. Jones Beach is my favorite concert spot. The stage is built into a lagoon and at night you get the salt air breeze.