Is Disney Spamming Me?
In amongst the waves and waves of email I got this holiday weekend was a very interesting one from vacation.disneyworld.com:
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48 years ago today: Arthur Miller condemned by HUAC
I wasn't alive 48 years ago, but I continue to find the activities of the House Un-American Activities Committee fascinating. Five years ago I would have said that we'd never again see a rabid politico like Senator Joseph McCarthy and his watchdog HUAC group resurface, but nowadays I have a sense that it's more important than ever to study the past, learn more about the 50's, when intolerance and fear were such powerful driving factors, and try to identify how we can avoid falling into these behaviors again.
If I may dig into this topic a bit...
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Expanding the Limits of Social Networking: My LinkedIn Power Forum
I've been involved with the LinkedIn social network for a long time, along with quite a few other networks, and have been pleased to see how it's evolved into a terrific professional networking environment, while the other social networks I'm in have devolved into MLM hunting environments (Ryze) or non-professional, personal dating and socializing networks (Orkut).
The latest wrinkle on LinkedIn that I'm just learning about is that some savvy members with > 1000 connections realized that the tools LinkedIn offers to mine your network are insufficient, and they're building separate, but related, mailing lists and discussion forums for LinkedIn users.
This is impressive because one sign of a healthy and thriving community is when it spawns innovation in its user community. Think "eBay", for a beautiful example of this phenomenon. (I know, because my second startup, iTrack, was a company riding the coattails of eBay until we sold it and it was morphed into a completely different service)
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Author Interview: Maria Winslow "The Practical Manager's Guide to Open Source"
As a widely published author, I'm plugged into a number of author networks and always enjoy talking with authors of interesting books to learn more about what they write about and how they produce their material. Recently, I bumped into Maria Winslow and was intriguied by her new book, The Practical Manager's Guide to Open Source. What's so interesting about this book is that the focus is to explore how Linux and open source software lets you switch from an expensive Microsoft Windows based environment to a considerably less expensive Linux platform, a topic that I'm also quite interested in exploring.
Anyway, Maria and I went back and forth via email to produce the Q&A included herein. Do check out her book and if you have your own views on Windows versus Linux, please feel free to add your two cents here too!
Maria, what was your motivation for writing this book?
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Relativity in a Nutshell: Albert Einstein
I don't know if Dr. Einstein would have written a Nutshell book if he were around nowadays, but I do know that my favorite audio company, The Teaching Company, is commemorating the 100th Anniversary of Albert Einstein's birth by offering two free physics lectures for the downloading, one on "Einstein's Miracle Year" and the other "Relativity in a Nutshell".
Mini bio: Albert Einstein (March 14, 1879 – April 18, 1955) was a Jewish theoretical physicist who is widely regarded as the greatest scientist of the 20th century. He proposed the theory of relativity and also made major contributions to the development of quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics, and cosmology. He was awarded the 1921 Nobel Prize for Physics for his explanation of the photoelectric effect and "for his services to Theoretical Physics".
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Going Above and Beyond as a way of life
If you were delivering a load of screws to a construction site and suddenly realized, with horror, that they'd all fallen out the back of your car and were strewn across a major highway, what would you do? Would you speed up and hope to get away? Would you stop and take responsibility, hoping that the people who got flat tires (and potentially got into accidents) didn't figure out it was your responsibility?
If you're super salesman Jim Stimpson of Denver, you'd do something entirely different, something remarkable.
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What fictional character would make a great blogger?
For the last few months, many bloggers and marketing folk have been talking up the pros and cons of so-called "character blogs", weblogs written by fictional or imaginary people. You know, like Batman blogging, or a company's mascot, or a now-fictional corporate figurehead like Betty Crocker or Aunt Jemima. I think character blogs could be pretty fun reading, however, as I talked about in my Q&A What's a Character Blog?
Now that the storm of discussion about character blogs has passed and everyone seems to be able to at least grin and bear it, if not embrace it wholeheartedly, I have a question to ask: What fictitious characters would make a great character blog?
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The commoditization of the hardware store, and of our future
I had the opportunity to spend most of this week at the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, and was unprepared for what I saw there. Upon reflection, it should have been obvious that anyone in any country can buy a metal forge and a plastic molding device, but it was still startling to walk the aisles -- and this conference took up the entirety of the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Sands Convention Center -- and find vendor after vendor after vendor offering the very same products with almost identical packaging.
Organized by nation, the Taiwanese vendors, the Indian vendors, the Chinese vendors, the Thai vendors, the Hong Kong vendors, all had crescent wrenches, screwdriver sets, hammers, and drill bits, by the thousand. They also had lawn care products, household appliances, blenders, paring knives, mixing bowls, dishware, and on and on.
All left to pick through the bones of a completely commoditized industry...
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Ubuntu Linux, Yellowdog Linux and Mac OS X, all on one PowerBook?
In a bit of a break from business analysis, I thought it would be fun to post one of my more technical articles to re-establish my "geek cred", if you will. This article details the trials and tribulations of turning a perfectly good Apple PowerBook into a tri-boot system with Mac OS X, Yellow Dog Linux and Ubuntu Linux.
Mac OS X is built of two components, Darwin, the BSD-based Unix underpinnings, and Aqua, the beautiful graphical user interface we Mac heads have all grown to love. However, there are other operating systems and other work environments that can be installed on an Apple system, based on popular open source Linux applications. If you’re looking for Intel-based versions of Linux, there are dozens and dozens, but the PowerPC chip cuts those options down quite a bit. I decided it’d be interesting to install the most popular Linux for PowerPC - Yellow Dog 4.0 - and an up and coming Debian-based Linux distro that’s getting quite a bit of buzz in the community: Ubuntu Linux.
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Your Daily Art: A great example of leveraging blogging
I'm always looking for small entrepreneurial businesses that demonstrate how a smart business blog can help raise your visibility in the community, gain traffic, and improve your sales. It's not always easy, between the ceaseless stream of advertising blogs (I will mercifully not link to any here) and the boring sites that aren't even of interest to target customers, to the random flow-of-consciousness sites that are 20% on topic, 80% drivel and unrelated.
That's why I was delighted when I bumped into the simple, elegant, and interesting Your Daily Art weblog. Written by Martha Cleveland, the site presents a photograph of a piece of art, adds a little background information, and does it all to drive business to her Youngest Daughter line of jewelry. Brilliant!
Here's today's entry, to whet your appetite:
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Review: Freakonomics, by Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner
FREAKONOMICS: A Rogue Economist Explores The Hidden Side of Everything
I really wanted to like this book. There's a lot about how economist Steven Levitt thinks that I resonate with, and the free association of how seeming unrelated things interrelate is certainly reminiscent of one of my favorite authors, James Burke and his best-selling and immensely entertaining book "Connections."
But I didn't like Freakonomics, for a variety of reasons, the first being that nowhere in the writing or editorial process did anyone bother to mention to the authors that modesty trumps egocentric writing. Between the introduction to the book and the chapter introductions, Levitt has more ego strokes (which is to say we're trapped having to read about him) than any other living author I've encountered in thirty years of voracious reading.
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The Seven Core Roles of Innovation
I'm turning over my blog entry today to colleague and entrepreneurial bright spark Gary Lundquist, publisher of the Colorado Innovation Newsletter. This is a long article, but extremely interesting reading...
The Seven Core Roles of Innovation
Innovation has two jobs:
Turn ideas into products that delight customers. (For “product”, also read at least: product, service, process, strategy, business model, and business.)
Turn funding into revenues that satisfy management and investors.
OK. No big deal. You’ve got that covered. Right?
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Hands on "How To Blog" Workshop Announcement
A few days have passed since I presented my standing-room-only Blog Smart Business Blogging workshop here in Colorado, and I'm still astonished at how many people showed up. It was terrific, lots of great questions and comments, free NewsGator Online accounts preloaded with top business blog feeds for all attendees, and much more.
As I reviewed the feedback from the workshop, however, one thing was quite clear: as much as everyone knew that they needed to learn about why their business should be blogging, everyone also wanted to learn how to blog! With a three hour presentation, there just wasn't anywhere near enough time to step through even a simple example, but I've taken their feedback to heart and am please to announce my new How To Blog hands-on workshop, June 2nd, here in Boulder, Colorado.
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How Apple and Wiley are just like GM and the LA Times
I've been sitting on this story for a few weeks, letting the neurons fire and the connections happen inside my head, and it's now clear to me that Apple banning Wiley books from the Apple stores because of an apparently unflattering bio of Apple CEO Steve Jobs is identical to GM's fracas with the LA Times a month or two ago.
Wiley publishes tons of books, including my own Creating Cool Web Sites. In 1987 Wiley published Steve Jobs: The Journey is the Reward, written by Jeff Young. 18 years later, Jeff Young's written a new book about Steve Jobs with the inflammatory title of iCon - Steve Jobs: The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business.
Upon hearing about this new title, Jobs says "no way are we helping that publisher" and kicks Wiley's entire library of best-selling Macintosh titles out of every Apple Store worldwide. Wiley responds...
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Buyer Beware: Malicious reviews on Amazon.com
One of the very best features of Amazon.com, one of the reasons that it's a tremendously successful online bookstore, is that anyone who wants can post a book review. No longer the exclusive purview of The New York Times Review of Books, Amazon lets anyone become a book reviewer, attaining the promise of a truly egalitarian online society. But, like anything else, there's a dark side to the open nature of online reviews, and when the following messages from two of my favorite authors arrived in my mailbox, I asked them if I could republish their notes. They said yes, so here's what Robert Bruce Thompson shared:
Now I'm pissed. Ordinarily I shrug off bad reviews, but I just read one on Amazon posted today for my book Building the Perfect PC, which has 35 reviews averaging five stars....
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University of Colorado teachers forced to swear they'll uphold the US Constitution?
I'm an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where I teach about technology and business topics, including blogging, web site design, and online marketing. It's fun, interesting, and I get to give something back to the community, lots of positive karma and all that.
To date, it's been straightforward and really not much bother, other than parking, but that's the same at any large college in my experience. Until this morning, when I got the following email...
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Mock legal threat causes panic at major publisherIn the midst of an author discussion about how some companies grumble about having their Web sites mentioned in books, even if it's favorable, I wrote the following parody letter. I'm still wondering if this is where things are heading. The names herein have been changed to protect the, um, innocent.
"Dear Sir: We noticed that in your book "Teach Yourself Some Crazy Subject in No Time!" (BigPublisherInc, 2003) you make an oblique reference to a "web site designed predominantly in browns" and are convinced that you're talking about our own site, http://www.intuitive.com"
Top Business Blogging Resources
One question that commonly arises in my email messages from readers and clients alike is the same that appears in all professions (yes, I'm saying that producing a good, credible business weblog is a professional undertaking): how do I get started?
As of yet, there aren't any books I'm comfortable recommending, but I will say that I was appalled the book Blog, by Hugh Hewitt, and found it to be terrible, just terrible. I have high hopes for some of the new books in the pipeline from various authors who are part of the corporate blogosphere, however, so instead of listing any books, I'll point to some of my favorite online references.
Note: My intent is to keep this list reasonably up to date, so if you have an additional article you think would be a valuable addition, please add it as a comment and I'll migrate it up to the main article if I agree. If not, I'll leave it as a comment and let people read it and decide for themselves.
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