The ubiquity of WiFi... or not.I'm staying at the Embassy Suites in Kansas City and they are proud clients of the VLINK Solutions wireless network for Internet Access here at the hotel. Theoretically, it's magic: there's a WiFi network throughout the hotel and once you sign on (at $10/day), you can then be online from anywhere in the hotel, whether the bar, a conference room, or, of course, your hotel room. Except the system fails miserably with my Macintosh. Whether running Safari or Microsoft's Internet Explorer, it generates an OLE DB error page if I try to enter my credit card number (something I'm reticent to do anyway on a wireless network, even with an SSL-based connection) and when I went ahead and paid for VLINK access cards from the front desk, the system refuses to accept as valid the card numbers given.
It's another example of the gap between what could be, and what is. The theory is nice, but the reality is that VLINK needs to get their act together: it's ridiculous to expect that anyone here at the Embassy Suites has a clue about computer connectivity and the nuances of 802.11 networking. And as a guest, I certainly don't want to spend any of my vacation time messing with configurations, connections, and compatibility issues.
And so... I've given up my hopes of high-speed access, turned in the cards, and requested that they reverse the charges for all local calls ($0.75/call) so I can just use my Earthlink dialup account instead. It's very 20th century, but y'know what? It works.
Trivia: What DOES the YKK on zippers mean?I'm liberating this entertaining trivia question from Ask Yahoo!, I freely admit it up front, but it's too good not to share. Ever looked at a zipper and seen "YKK" stamped on it? Now we know what it stands for: Yoshida Kogyo Kabushikikaisha, the name of the Japanese founder. The letters were stamped onto the company's products and eventually became the trademark and official name of the company.
Weblogs for BusinessI'm ten minutes away from being part of a teleseminar on Weblogs for Business, and wanted to both point that out, and give anyone who pops in here a preview of my main idea: don't think "weblog", think "content management system". That is, when people talk about weblogs for business, they often get excited about the "what's new today" weblog/blog/diary factor, but when I think about business communication on the Web, I think about how I can get my message out to my customers in the fastest, most effective and easiest manner.
If I emailed this posting to everyone I know, would you get it? Probably not. If I had this as a static web page that I updated every so often, would you read it right now? Probably not. Would I update a static page on a frequent and regular basis? Unlikely.
And that's what business weblogs are all about from a marketing and customer outreach perspective: an easy tool to make my communication with you, my potential customer, fast and efficient.
The King of Affiliate MarketingOver the years, I've watched Amazon.com expand its affiliate program in a remarkable number of ways. It's pretty darn impressive - they're always tweaking the program and offering affiliates a tiny slice of more and more different transactions. Today their "Associates Newsletter" outlines yet more possibilities, including a special gifts store. Check it out yourself: visit your Amazon gift store.
Oh, and if books, sporting goods, and whatever else Amazon has isn't enough, they're announcing a gourmet food store too. As they say, "use the mouthwatering images" to link to them, or just visit their site. Not enough marketing savvy from them? The newsletter also suggests that I, the Associate, buy keywords on Google to push customers to them, and even talks about how cellphone number portability can be exploited to sell Amazon cell phones.
They don't miss a trick. If you want to learn about online marketing, a close study of Amazon.com is time very well spent.
Page Proofs coming out my ears!I'm in the thick of things this week: I'm working on new chapters for the upcoming Creating Cool Web Sites book (from Wiley), nitpicking through the page proofs of Wicked Cool Shell Scripts and tomorrow morning picking up a FedEx package from O'Reilly & Associates that's the first page proof set of Learning Unix for Mac OS X, The Panther Edition. I think I'm starting to go cross-eyed along the way here!
But for those of you that don't know about how books are produced, it's actually quite interesting. Using a complex template supplied by the publisher, I write the chapters in Microsoft Word. I then submit them to the publisher who has a copy editor, development editor and technical editor all go through them. Their feedback is (usually) consolidated and sent back to me as a heavily edited and marked up file. I then have to step through that and address each and every issue, problem, structural suggestion, query, clarification, etc. Sometimes the response is "no, it's okay as is" but many times the comments really help produce a better book.
I bought a 2004 Toyota Prius today!After spending years looking at them, I drove our white Chrysler Town & Country van into the local Toyota dealer and traded it in for a brand new 2004 Toyota Prius! Well, sort of. The Prius is on 50 day backorder so I won't actually see my car until the very end of 2003 or thereabouts. But I'm excited! The Prius, for those of you that haven't heard of them, have a brilliant hybrid engine system that is part electrical, part internal combustion. In the city, where I'll be doing most of my driving, it gets a glorious 60 miles per gallon. Imagine...
Continue Reading "I bought a 2004 Toyota Prius today!"
Email from beyond the grave!Man, you can't make up this stuff! A new service called MyLastEmail debuted today, offering you just what you'd think from their name: the chance to queue up email messages to be sent after you die.
Karen Peach of MyLastEmail explains: "Until now, planning for your death has involved making a Will and putting some kind of insurance in place. Unlike a Will and financial planning, Mylastemail.com deals with the emotional and compassionate aspects of taking care of the family you leave behind". Further explaining this, um, wacky business idea, Karen talks about the book You Only Die Once, about end-of-life planning. Apparently the book shows how you can create satisfaction from making plans now and how you can give hope to survivors and assist them in building bridges for the future. And that's what MyLastEmail is about: planning ahead and leaving positive last memories for family and friends.
Ready to sign up yet?
The relative price of Big Macs around the worldA while back, BusinessWeek shared some very interesting statistics about the amount of working time, on average, it takes someone in various cities around the world to pay for a McDonald's Big Mac. In Tokyo, it's 10 minutes, the shortest amount of time. New York, 12 minutes. Hong Kong, 13 minutes. London, 16 minutes. Istanbul, 36 minutes, Bangkok, 50 minutes, Kiev, 84 minutes, and Nairobi, a whopping 185 minutes. Imagine working for almost the entire morning and you've only earned the cost of a Big Mac. Fries and a drink? That's your day's income gone. Something to think about next time you plop down $20 for lunch out, eh?
How do Hackers exploit poorly written CGI forms?Night after night, at about midnight, I have my contact form probed by a hacker. It never works, but he keeps trying. So today my friend Leo Notenboom and I tweaked the code slightly so we could see exactly what he was trying to do, and lo and behold, as of a few minutes ago, here's what we saw...
Continue Reading "How do Hackers exploit poorly written CGI forms?"
Cool "under the hood" Panther capabilitiesAccording to very good sources, the latest version of Mac OS X has a couple of very interesting file system features worth knowing about:
Weblogs for Business: TeleseminarI'm pleased to announce that I'm going to be involved in a teleseminar with Greg Reinacker, author of NewsGator (a great Windows-based RSS system), moderated by my friend and colleague Debbie Weil, of WordBiz Report. We'll be talking about what you're reading right now: weblogs (or "blogs" for short) and how they can be used for business. If you think that weblogs are just for personal diaries, then perhaps you're not paying attention, and you might well be missing an important communications and marketing venue that's cheap, easy to set up, and can be surprisingly effective!
Trust me on this, you need to find out more about the case for business weblogs, and the first step is to check out this blogging teleseminar. And if you have questions, please don't hesitate to send them along!
The modern face of teen angstOne of the Web sites that I run purely for fun is Etymologic!, an online word game themed around etymology, the history and origin of words. At the end of the game there's a submission form, and while some of the submissions are valid and interesting, most are less serious. But today I got one of the more interesting submissions:
"there once was a girl who had a boyfreind that really loved her but he didn't know if she loved him cause there have been a lot of things said about her loving somone else, do you think he believes those rumors even though he does not know if she loves him?Quoted as-is, with typos in place. In a new and very 21st century venue, young love still has its heart on its sleeve, with the pain of being jilted, and the challenge of trust just as difficult as it's always been.
Having AnswerSquad around is really amazing...I know that I'm part of the expert team at AnswerSquad, but like all of us, I only have a finite amount of brain cells and therefore only have specific areas where I consider myself particularly knowledgeable. When I'm on the Macintosh or my Linux system, I'm comfortable and can find my way around quite well. But as part of the development process for my new book Creating Cool Web Sites, I've begun spending hours at a time working on my Windows XP system. And ...
Continue Reading "Having AnswerSquad around is really amazing..."
Elsewhere in my
Latest Entries at
The Business Blog