Blog Reality Check

From an article in Business 2.0:

“Forrester Research (FORR) conducted an online survey of 3,673 people and found that 79 percent of its respondents had never heard of blogs, 98 percent had never read one [...] ”

But you’re reading this blog. And that’s what matters. More commentary is available from Corante.com.

Pingback? Trackback? Over-Engineering?

I’m about to enter risky territory here, criticizing something I don’t fully understand, but here goes… A lot of the hipper webloggers use something called “Trackback” or “Pingback”. What these allow is for someone to link to your weblog, and have a link to THEIR weblog automatically appear on YOUR site. Follow that? This allows for an interesting form which is neither really one way nor two way communication… Zen thoughts aside, I always thought it would be a nifty thing to enable on my site.

First, I investigated “Trackback”. This, apparently, is a “Movable Type“-only thing, so scratch that, since I don’t run a Movable Type weblog.

So, I investigated “PingBack”. This, apparently is some kind of standard. But, to implement it involves the use of special HTTP headers, XHTML headers, knowledge of XMLRPC, and according to the spec, familiarity with regular expressions.

Huh?

What am I missing here? Why is this so complicated? It strikes me that all you REALLY need to do is this:

1.) write a script, in the web application server of your choice, that takes as a query string parameter a unique ID for a post. Provide this to those who want to link to your post. This script should do the following:
1a.) Display the post
1b.) Run a bit of code that checks the referer URL from the HTTP request. It should compare that to a list stored in a database or text file. If the referer is not in that list, add it, preferably with the time of the request.

Then, when you display your post, display this list of referers. Granted, this lacks a certain amount of flexibility, and may be open to some degree of abuse, but heck, it does what you want, no? I’m really curious if there are any Pingbacking or Trackbacking bloggers out there who think I’m a genius, an idiot, or somewhere in between, based on these thoughts. Until I implement “SomethingBack”-ing, you can contact me here.

Yes, I’m a Mac Head

The Macintosh iBook (and the PowerBook for that matter) comes with a power supply possessing a nifty feature. There is a little ring around the jack where it plugs into computer. When the computer is charging, the ring lights up with a yellowy-orange color. When the computer is fully charged, it lights up green. It looks really cool.

Thanks to a freak accident, in which I tripped over the power cord and flung the iBook off of the couch where it was peacefully recharging, the little lights don’t come on any more when I plug it in. Will I spend $80 for a replacement just because of that minor glitch? No. But the fact that I actually considered it probably proves that I am now clearly a Mac Head.

On a related note, my friend Andy has an iPod, which he sometime listens to in the car. He uses one of those cassette adapter things. It works perfectly fine, yet he desperately wants to replace it. The problem? It’s black. It clashes horribly with the sleek, white iPod.

Drinking the Apple Kool-Aid can do funny things to people…

Counter-Googling, or, How Not To Win My Business

Allow me to paraprahase this article from “Trendwatching.com”.

Calling all go-get-’em marketeers! Here’s an exciting new way to attract customers! It’s called Counter-Googling! It works like this: Find a prospective customer, use Google to dig up personal information about them (Hey, it’s publically available, right!) and then use that information to tailor-design an offer to the customer!

Now, allow me to extrapolate.

…Why stop with publically available information on the INTERNET? Why not drive by the customers’ house and see if, say, their car is looking a little rusty? And if you just HAPPEN to be walking by, and hear an argument between Mr. Customer and his wife, perhaps offer a marriage counseling course, at a deep discount! Or why not follow him around the supermarket, and see what kind of shampoo or soft drinks he prefers? HEY, THIS IS ALL PUBLICALLY AVAILABLE INFORMATION, RIGHT?!

Point being: Just because I expose a bit of information publically doesn’t mean you have the right to use that information for commercial purposes, INCLUDING MARKETING TO ME. If a company contacts me, armed with anything but the most basic information about me, they will never, ever, get my business.

The fact that I, technically, work in Marketing, does not change the fact that many “hot new marketing concepts” make me want to puke.

Sterling Balls

I am neither a pro- nor anti- Microsoft zealot, but CNET has a great interview with Sterling Ball (awesome name), CEO of Ernie Ball (leading maker of premium guitar strings). A while back, Microsoft made an example of his company, via their BSA goon squad, for having a handful of unlicensed software packages (caused by not meticulously wiping hard drives as computers got passed from one employee to another).

Ball responded by eliminating all Microsoft software from the company, and found that: Guess what? The company’s getting along just fine, thank you very much.

Q: there’s a real argument now about total cost of ownership, once you start adding up service, support, etc.
A: What support? I’m not making calls to Red Hat; I don’t need to. I think that’s propaganda…What about the cost of dealing with a virus? We don’t have ‘em.

No, I Will Not Fix Your Computer

I always try to explain to people that although I’m quite knowledgeable about computers, it doesn’t always mean that I know exactly how every program works, nor can I solve poorly explained problems over the phone or IM, without any access to the computer in question. They never quite seem to get it. My mother decided maybe I could help her friend out, and forwarded this to me:

porkypine67: i have this adaptec easy cd creator standard edition 4 and directcd 3
porkypine67: on one cd
porkypine67: it came with the computer
porkypine67: and i down loaded something on here along time ago and didnt like it so i took it off and where it ask r you sure you want to deleat it had 4 answers to it
porkypine67: compaq
porkypine67: windows me
porkypine67: the answer were — yes,yes to all, no, no to all , and i diding know witch one to click on so i hit yes to all
porkypine67: it told me that i could take something off that could be still useing what i downlaoded
porkypine67: but it was too late
porkypine67: so nowwww my easy cd creator want let me make a music cd

What do people expect? That I can just say something like “Oh, just press Ctrl-R”? This would probably take at least half an hour for me to straighten out if I were sitting at the computer. And, another thing to all the software designers out there, every time someone from the… let’s call them the “older market”… comes across a dialog with an option — no matter how innocuous (“Would you like an icon on your desktop?”, “Do you like the color blue?”) — THEY DO NOT READ THE OPTIONS. EVER. They just panic, and call someone like me. Think extremely hard about finding a way to avoid options in any installer. You will save YOUR tech support department, and millions of CS-degreed adult children, many hours of stress.

Boy, this is turning into the “all cranky, all the time” weblog, isn’t it?