Saturday, December 27, 2008

Bitter Bloggers: The New Better Business Bureau!

Emeril Lagasse may be a famous chef, but his restaurant in Orlando, Florida SUCKS!

There, I said it, and in doing so I have joined the ranks of folks with a blog who have used their social media platforms to air complaints against companies and services that have have not held up their end of the merchant/customer bargain. I am in good company. Well read bloggers such as Joseph Jaffe and Chris Brogan have all been pushed to the brink and then used their popular platforms to blast businesses that FAIL them as customers.

Now it is my turn, and this time it's PERSONAL!

My girlfriend is taking Culinary classes at Johnson & Wales University (where my son is also a Junior) so "chef talk" is commonplace in my world, and we like to check out well-known chefs and restaurants whenever we have the opportunity. With that in mind, since we were spending Christmas at Disneyworld in Orlando and we had never been to one of Emeril's restaurants, I made reservations for Christmas dinner at Emeril's Orlando. What should have been a pleasant and enjoyable evening turned into a culinary catastrophe that left us hungry and disappointed.

Service With A Smile?

All started well, with the Maitre'd seating us and the THREE "servers" who would be our caretakers for the meal pleasantly and professionally introducing themselves to us. Despite having THREE servers at our beck and call, Emeril's Orlando managed to do something that I have never experienced in my entire life of dining. Yes, folks, I am not a picky person at all, but this was truly a first (and the last time we will eat at an "Emeril" establishment).

I am a vegetarian and often end up ordering "off the menu" if there is no vegetarian entree choice. This is rarely an issue and, as expected, the waiter confirmed that the chef would be happy to prepare a grilled vegetable plate for me. Perfect. My girlfriend, who is most decidedly NOT a vegetarian, happily ordered from the menu - a ravioli dish. We enjoyed our wine and salads, and noted that the wait for our entrees had seemed to cross the line into the territory of "taking a bit too long" but hey, it was Christmas and we were certainly not in any rush.

The Order and the Disorder...

When our food finally did arrive, it arrived with this shocker: they did not have the ravioli Sue had ordered (FROM THE MENU) so they had taken it upon themselves to go ahead and prepare an alternate dish for her. WTF? With no warning, and no opportunity to simply choose something else from the menu they decided to serve her a meal that had no relation whatsoever to what she had ordered. The "substitute" dish was a poorly presented slap-dash mix of flat ribbon noodles, some grilled vegetables (that were likely stolen from my vegetable plate) and a thin veil of plain tasting tomato sauce. Huh?

One of our three servers explained that they ran out of the ravioli she had ordered and she should "taste" this dish and if she didn't like it she could order something else. Huh??? Now, with my food already served and her "surprise" dish in front of her, Sue could decide to wait another half hour for something else, so that she and I could effectively dine alone, me eating while she is waiting, and she eating while I digest... But I digress...

From Minor Error to Major Fail

Needless to say, Sue did not like the odd off-menu choice that had been made on her behalf, nor did she care to watch me eat while she waited for something else. The apologetic spokesman for the restaurant appeared to be the one of our three servers who, sadly, had a speech impediment that was getting worse by the minute due to his nervousness. As he spit, sputtered and stuttered his embarrassment at the mistake (I am NOT exaggerating) and offered to remove the cost of the unwanted entree from our bill, we assured him it was not his fault (though, of course, in part it was). Despite our very vocal dismay, none of the on duty management visited our table, and we had to go to the front desk twice to air our complaint to the same Maitre'd who had so nicely seated us, and who claimed to be one of the managers. He was useless, and offered no explanation or excuse, and simply said, "we took your entrees off the bill, what else do you want me to do?" MAJOR FAIL. You are supposed to make us feel like a valued customer.

What we wanted, was a decent enjoyable meal. One that, in fact, we were well willing to "overpay for" (based on other folks' reviews of Emeril's). Not paying for something we did not eat and did not enjoy (or even ask for) is hardly a substitute.

What Happens Anywhere... Ends Up On Twitter!

So, we paid for our wine and salads, and left Emeril's Orlando hungry and wholly disappointed. In the old days, that would have been the end of it. Instead, standing outside the restaurant I began my blogger's revenge with this simple Tweet.

And now I am following up my Tweet with this blog post. If in doing so, I have saved one person from having a similar dining disaster, then my work here is done. Thanks for reading, and for letting me vent.

What do you think? Is one's personal blog a valid place to air such complaints? Is the "Bitter Blogger Bureau" the new "Better Business Bureau"? Should it be? Please share your thoughts in the comments, and of course, if you have your own Emeril's experience or opinion, please share that as well.

Photo Credit: © Hugh O'Neill -

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Saturday, December 20, 2008


Time flies. It is hard to believe it has been more than three years since Scott Sigler ripped open and gutted the newly emerging world of Podcast fiction with his mesmerizing tale of subterranean terror, EARTHCORE. It is not hard to believe that on December 30th 2008 Scott will have his 4th book published (and his second from major imprint, Crown Publishing). The guy reeks of talent and is every bit as good a marketer as he is a wordsmith -- and he's a damn good wordsmith! Scott's writing is, well, CONTAGIOUS!


Leveraging podcasting and social media to the max, in his own inimitable way, Scott has amassed a massive following of loyal fans, affectionately called his "Junkies." As a treat for his fans, Scott has released 12 collectible CONTAGIOUS Posters and spread them across the interwebs on a variety of uber cool websites and blogs, including my own employer, Myxer. You can get the first poster at and to get them all you will have to visit each of these sites (they are all awesome, so you won't be sorry...)

As for CONTAGIOUS itself, it is the kick-ass sequel to Scott's popular podcast and novel, INFECTED. Here is he official synopsis:

Across America, a mysterious pathogen transforms ordinary people into raging killers, psychopaths driven by a terrifying, alien agenda. The human race fights back, yet after every battle the disease responds, adapts, using sophisticated strategies and brilliant ruses to fool its pursuers. The only possible explanation: the epidemic is driven not by evolution but by some malevolent intelligence.

Standing against this unimaginable threat is a small group, assembled under the strictest secrecy. Their best weapon is hulking former football star Perry Dawsey, left psychologically shattered by his own struggles with this terrible enemy, who possesses an unexplainable ability to locate the disease’s hosts. Violent and unpredictable, Perry is both the nation’s best hope and a terrifying liability. Hardened CIA veteran Dew Phillips must somehow forge a connection with him if they’re going to stand a chance against this maddeningly adaptable opponent. Alongside them is Margaret Montoya, a brilliant epidemiologist who fights for a cure even as she reels under the weight of endless horrors.

These three and their team have kept humanity in the game, but that’s not good enough anymore, not when the disease turns contagious, triggering a fast countdown to Armageddon. Meanwhile, other enemies join the battle, and a new threat — one that comes from a most unexpected source — may ultimately prove the most dangerous of all.
Please visit all 12 of these sites to get your CONTAGIOUS posters, and more importantly, order your copy of CONTAGIOUS now and help make Scott the first podcast novelist to hit the NY TIMES Best-seller list!

You can hear a ringtone version of the promo for CONTAGIOUS in the widget below and send it to your phone!

More from CONTAGIOUS at Myxer

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Jungle Fever (Social Media Style)

Based on the success of his first Social Media Jungle held in November, Jeff Pulver is bringing his one-day Social Media Jungle to the 2009 International CES (Consumer Electronics Show). With a bigger venue comes a bigger agenda, and for the January 7th event Jeff has assembled a stellar group of discussion leaders. I am very pleased to be able to participate again and look forward to leading a discussion of how businesses can "Turn Their Social Media Addicts Into Assets!"

Here is how Jeff describes Social Media Jungle CES (and you can see the full schedule here):

"The Social Media Jungle at the 2009 International CES brings to light how the advent of social media is changing the way we work and live. Sessions include state-of-the-industry updates and a candid look at how social media disrupts the workplace by empowering companies to lower burn rates. Plus, learn how companies can motivate consumers through social media to drive product sales without increasing costs."

This will be a pretty intense day of conversations and a great day to catch up with some of the people involved in the social media industry.

Everyone in the room will have the assumed role of discussant and will be counted on to contribute to the conversation.

If you are planning to be in Las Vegas for CES we hope you will also be able to expand your expedition to include participating in the Social Media Jungle.

Registration costs: US$ 295 / 395.

To register - visit: CES Registration page

View this event on the CES website.

Photo Credit: © HenningManninga -

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

2B or nt 2B? Micro-Blogging vs. Micro-Shakespeare

They say Twitter has started a "micro-blogging" and "micro-sharing" craze. Millions of tweeple have reduced their social networking conversations to short bursts of 140 characters, in many cases in lieu of more frequent long form writing. If you can reduce blogging by such dramatic proportions, why not some of the most famous theatrical works in the English language?


In the spirit of keeping things short and sweet, last night I had the pleasure of seeing The Complete Works of William Shakespeare performed in a mere 97 minutes, thanks to the manic miniaturization skills and gigantic talents of the Reduced Shakespeare Company. To see 37 plays performed in 97 minutes (plus some sonnets and poetry thrown in as an extra Measure for Measure) was an hysterical evening of live, interactive entertainment. I highly recommend it for scholars of the Bard as well as aficionados of the abbreviated.

As an example of "micro-Shakespeare" here is the classic tragedy MACBETH, as performed by the RSC in less time than it takes to boil an egg. Enjoy!

Have you had a chance to see The Reduced Shakespeare Company perform? Leave a SHORT comment and let me know what you think!

Friday, December 05, 2008

I Can Tweet That Tune in 12 Seconds!


Ever since I joined Twitter in March of 2007 I have been experimenting with ways to use it both for my own personal edification as well as for business. From early experimentation with Daily Haiku poetry, to the launch of TwitTones, offering daily free ringtones delivered by Twitter (courtesy of Myxer), I have been looking for creative ways to establish a daily content ritual with Twitter.


With that in mind I am pleased to introduce Tweet That Tune. By leveraging the ease and simplicity of and Twitter we can have a little fun trying to identify a song from a 12 second video with the song playing in the background. It's easy to play. Every day (hopefully), I will Tweet a link to a video. Then you can Tweet your guess as to the name of the song and the artist (please add #TweetThatTune to the message for tracking.) The first person who Tweets the right tune wins! Right now all the "winner" gets is the satisfaction of being right and being first. Perhaps we can round up some real prizes in the future.

For more information and to follow the action please visit

What do you think? Does it sound like fun? Any suggestions?

As an example, here is today's Tweet That Tune:

Can U Name the song? Tweet your guess with #TweetThatTune Answer posted at 10am. on

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Cold Beer Is Better Than A Cold Call!

I don't know about you, but I hate making cold calls. I do it when I have to, and I'm actually not bad at it, but I hate it nonetheless. The good news is that Social Media gives us the tools to avoid ever having to make another cold call. Used properly and creatively, the information flow and personal data available via Social Networks is invaluable for business development. As a self-professed Social Media "addict" I work hard to put my addiction to good use for my business. Here is one of many examples of how I have used Twitter and other tools to build a worthwhile business opportunity.


I work at Myxer, and we provide an outstanding platform and large audience for content creators who want to reach their fans with mobile entertainment. Tens of thousands of Indie bands and artists use our free service to create and share ringtones of their music with their fans. I am also an avid podcast listener, and through podcasting I became a fan of the talented musician Matthew Ebel whose music was frequently featured on podcasts I listen to regularly including Adam Curry's Daily Source Code and CC Chapman's Accident Hash. A while ago, I thought it would be great to get Matthew and his music on Myxer and started looking for ways to reach out to him. Then I saw this Tweet from CC Chapman flow by on my Twitter stream:


I had some interactions with CC on Twitter before, so on a whim I decided to see if I could use CC to get an introduction to Matthew. Using PayPal, I sent $10.00 to CC Chapman with a note saying something along the lines of "if you can introduce me to Matthew the first beer's on me!" It worked! Soon I saw this Tweet from CC:


Shortly thereafter I was able to exchange emails with Matthew, thanks to CC, and so a connection was born. Over time, we did indeed get Matthew's great music on Myxer. In fact, this past summer we participated in a fun and timely experiment with him by sponsoring his Electric Bicycle project on Block Island, dubbed the MyxerCycle. To memorialize his electric bike project, Matthew put together a great 5 part video series about the MyxerCycle which you can see here.

I hope this helps quench your thirst for some examples of using Social Media for business and, at least in this case, proves that a "Cold Beer call" is much better than a Cold Call!

If you have never had the chance to see or hear Matthew Ebel, here is a fan-created Music Video (and link to a free Ringtone) of his popular song "Drive Away" from his aptly titled, "BEER & Coffee" CD. Cheers!

More from Matthew Ebel at Myxer

Beer Glass Photo Credit: Okea -

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Learn Baby Learn: Turn Your Social Media Addiction Into An Asset

They say it is a jungle out there, but this past week the jungle was in Melville, NY. Specifically, Jeff Pulver's first ever Social Media Jungle was held on November 13th, and I was fortunate to be one of the 50 or so participants and one of the 15 discussion leaders. I am careful to say "participants" rather than "attendees" as this event was unlike a typical conference. Everyone in the room actively contributed to the discussions inspired by each presentation. The day was thick with rich content and thought provoking questions and answers. I am honored to have shared the floor with the other presenters including Jeff Pulver, Chris Brogan, Jeremy Epstein, Leslie Poston, Howard Greenstein & Dean Landsman, Nelly Yusupova, Brett Petersel & Oz Sultan, Steve Lubetkin, Jonathan Yarmis, Ben Grossman, Jamie Thompson, and Justin Oberman. Kudos to Jeff for organizing a very special event, and congrats to Jeff for already landing a commitment to hold a second Social Media Jungle event at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January 2009!


As someone who is arguably addicted to Social Media, in my presentation I tried to give a real world example of how I use my Social Media addiction (specifically to Twitter) as an asset to the benefit of the company where I work, Myxer. I break the essence of using Social Media for Business into 5 key actions represented by the word L E A R N.

L: Listen. Social Media provides you with the tools to be the ultimate eavesdropper and be a fly on the wall to virtually thousands of conversations. What should you listen for? Your name, your company, your product, your industry.

E: Engage. Social Media provides you with the tools not just to listen, but to easily step into a conversation and engage with strangers. With that in mind, you must be REAL and be OPEN.

A: Accept. Now that you have listened and engaged, you need to accept what is being said about you, your brand, your company, your product. Take the feedback to heart because to the world at large, their perception is their reality, whether you agree with it or not.

R: React. What you do next is important. Are you going to be defensive or helpful? Remember, just as you started your Social Media exchange as a fly on the wall, there are others now listening to you, and seeing how you engage with your "followers."

N: Nurture. Social Media is all about relationship building. That first random encounter can, over time, become a valuable and rewarding relationship. Nurture your Social Media connections and you will build an army of evangelists for you, your brand, your product, your company, etc.

Thanks to Sanford Dickert, you can see a video of the entire presentation below. I have also posted the slides on Slideshare.

How have you turned your Social Media Addiction into an asset? Please share your view in the comments.

Blocks Photo Credit: Heath Doman -

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Saturday, November 08, 2008


Consistency is good. I have always like consistency. Even annoying things are easier to deal with when they are consistently annoying. I am no Spock, but I believe I am generally a logical thinker, and when things are consistent they are much easier to approach with logic. Chain stores should be consistent, and it is that consistency that makes them appealing to us. It is good to know you can walk into a California Pizza Kitchen anywhere in the country and get the same good food, prepared and presented in exactly the same way. There is comfort in such consistency. Don't get me wrong, I am not a stickler for chains and franchises and I love the unexpected standalone experience... but there is something to be said for the consistency of a well managed established brand.


I didn't realize just how consistent some retail chains were until I tried to replace my phone the other night. I got a new Sprint HTC Touch PRO (which is an amazingly great device, by the way) at Best Buy and I thought there was something wrong with it (as it turns out, the phone is fine... I was a knucklehead and didn't bother to read the manual more carefully...). In any event, I went to a nearby Best Buy store on the way home from work to exchange the phone. As the HTC Touch PRO is a new phone and a "hot" item they were out of stock and did not have a phone to replace mine. The Best Buy mobile clerk gave me her business card with the direct extension to the Mobile department (2270) and said they expected to get some more Touch PRO phones delivered in the next few days and I should call before coming.


Being impatient when it comes to my gadgets, the next night I called to see if the phones had come in. I dialed the extension 2270 and after a few rings the phone was answered, "Best Buy Mobile." But alas, the phones had not come in. A man on a mission, I decided to check with some other Best Buy stores in the area. I looked up the main number for the next nearest store and called. When I selected the choice to "speak to a sales associate" it rang and rang, but nobody answered. I hung up. I was not surprised, but I WAS determined to replace my phone. I looked at the business card in my hand from the "other" Best Buy store and wondered... then I tried it. I called the new Best Buy store that I had just hung up on and tried the same extension, 2270. Sure enough, someone answered, "Best Buy Mobile." Even better, this store had the phones. Off I went to the store...

I was pretty impressed that Best Buy stores are so consistent that the departments have the same telephone extensions and I wonder if other retail chains are similarly organized. What do think? Do you prefer when things are consistent? Is that important? Feel free to be consistent, or not, and share your thoughts in the comments. Oh, and just for fun, call your local Best Buy and see if extension 2270 rings through to the Mobile Department. Let me know!

Photo Credit: photopalace -

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Friday, October 17, 2008

It's A (Social Media) Jungle Out There!

This morning I had the pleasure of shooting the breeze over bagels with Jeff Pulver. Among many other accomplishments, Jeff has recently made a name for himself as the host of more than 30 breakfasts in 17 cities around the world this year. Although he has thousands of followers on Social Networks such as Facebook and Twitter, Jeff has cleverly brought the engagement and interactivity of "tagging," "poking" and "writing on one's wall" to the off-line "real" world at his live breakfast events.

Today it was just us Jeffs so we dispensed with the need for name tags (especially since they both would have said "Jeff") and we dove right into a healthy discussion about life, liberty and the pursuit of social media happiness.

Jeff is planning his first "SOCIAL MEDIA JUNGLE" event in Melville, Long Island in November and I asked him to talk a little about why it is a jungle out there and how his events can help us on our own expeditions.

What do you think? Do you need to be Tarzan to succeed in the Social Media Jungle?

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Simply Fab!

It's Been A Hard Day's Night. Well, not really. It was a great night! We were invited to go see The Fab Faux perform. I had never heard of them before. Of course I have heard of The Beatles (and grew up listening to and playing their music). Without question, seeing The Fab Faux perform live is the closest thing you will ever come to the experience of hearing the Beatles themselves on a Magical Mystery Tour. I have seen Beatles tribute bands before, but they are usually focused on assembling four young lads with Liverpool looks and and more ability to mimic than true musical talent. Not so for this Fab Faux. They are musicians first, and well established working musicians at that, with day jobs including the house bands on The Late Show With David Letterman (Will Lee) and Late Night With Conan O'Brien (Jimmy Vivino).

It's certainly a thrill, you're such a lovely audience,
We'd like to take you home with us.
The Beatles: John Lennon, Paul McCartney
Song: Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

The audience was not just lovely but totally rocking out and engaged. The show, at the delightfully retro Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale, was sold out. Even though this was the first time in their ten years as a band that The Fab Faux has performed in Florida the house was clearly packed with eager and enthusiastic fans. The goal of The Fab Faux is to bring the recordings to the stage, and it is truly amazing to experience. With strings, brass, and an assortment of bells, whistles, megaphones and tambourines, they miraculously re-create with uncanny precision the intricate and spectacular musical arrangements and vocal harmonies of hit after Beatles hit. It was truly one of the tightest and most enjoyable concerts I have ever been to. If you ever have the chance to see The Fab Faux perform I highly recommend it, Any Time At All!

Here is a taste of the Fab Faux performing "I Am The Walrus" on The David Letterman Show.

Have you seen The Fab Faux in concert? If so, what did you think? Please leave a comment and let us know!

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Dad-O-Matic: Where Every Day Is Father's Day

Hello, my name is Jeff and I'm a Dad (Daddict?)

I am the father of three (and master of none...) The greatest joy of my life has been to watch, participate, influence and, to the best of my ability, guide ZEO (my nickname for the clan - short for Zachary, Ethan & Olivia, in birth order) as they have grown from tiny bundles of cute, to teens and young adults. Today they are truly wonderful citizens that make me enormously proud on a daily basis. If everything else I do in life should fail, I can sleep well at night knowing I have done my part in bringing three great additions into our world.

With that in mind I am very pleased to have been invited to be a contributing writer for a terrific new blog created by Chris Brogan. As one of the original "Rock Stars" of the world of blogging and social media (and an extremely good person, a true "Mensch,") Chris has assembled an impressive squad of Geek Dads to share their views and experiences on fatherhood and parenting. I am honored to be among them and invite you (actually, I encourage you) to visit Dad-O-Matic and enjoy articles, reviews and opinions on a wide range of topics and from varying points of view, all with an important common thread: being a Dad.

I hope you will read my first contribution to Dad-O-Matic, The BUXX Stops Here!, as well as the other great posts from the rest of the Geek Dad Squad!

UPDATE: I will continue to add links to my Dad-O-Matic posts here:

The Real “L” Word

How To Tell A KILLER Scary Story

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

From BARBIE to Blackberry!

Barbie girlsImage by jikamajoja via FlickrTomorrow is my daughter's 17th birthday. As most parents know, buying "the right" gift for kids - especially teenage girls - is always a challenge. Get the wrong brand of over priced, over designed T-shirt (i.e. anything that's not ED HARDY) and their mood shifts from happy to sad faster than their weekly allowance disappears off their Visabuxx debit card. I can remember the days when the biggest birthday challenge was to toil over which version Barbie Doll was "the one" that would bring eternal smiles to my little girl's face. Those were the days when life was simple, and she refused to wear anything that wouldn't "spin" when she twirled around - yes, dresses only from ages 4 - 9.


In truth, though it has been more costly than even Malibu Barbie with the Beach House and Corvette Convertible, the past four or five years selecting my daughter's birthday gift has been a cinch. Every year for her birthday she wants a new phone. As someone who works in the Mobile industry, I often tout that for teens today the mobile phone is the center of their universe, and having three kids gives me the right to say that with the utmost confidence. So now birthdays are easy (albeit expensive.)

The last two years it was the T-Mobile Sidekick, and then the Sidekick 2 that fit the birthday bill. So, as this annual ritual rolled around I assumed my daughter would be itching to upgrade to yet the latest version of her well worn temple of texting. With that in mind, you can imagine my surprise when she announced that the object of her desire, the dreamy device that kept her awake at night longing for the feel of it's tiny keys sliding beneath her calloused and capable thumbs... was a BLACKBERRY CURVE! That was the phone she wanted. That was the phone she HAD to have (the RED one, of course.)


Franky, I was honestly surprised. My daughter, whose connected life is so dependent on MySpace, Instant Messaging and Texting that she refuses to get a proper email address, now lusted after a phone that built its reputation on being the ultimate email device. She didn't just want it, either - she REALLY wanted it. I know that RIM (Research In Motion, the Canadian juggernaut that created the Blackberry) has been aggressively trying to break out of their mold as an "enterprise only" device and crack the consumer ranks with crackberries like the lithe PEARL and the sultry CURVE. If my daughter is any indication, they have succeeded, big time.

So Blackberry Curve it was. We visited the local T-MO store and made the swap, and my daughter is already completely enamored with her little red Curve-ette.

She doesn't miss her Sidekick and is already texting at speeds that would make Mavis Beacon the typing tutor proud. Below is a sample of her mad thumb typing skills on our way to buy the Blackberry. The geek in me is so proud! ;-)

Mad Thumbtyping Skillz of a 17 yo Girl on

How about you? Are mobile phones on your gift lists? How often do you get your kids a new phone, and at what ages? Let me know in the comments, and if you enjoy reading this, please subscribe to this blog by email or RSS.

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

Witnessing The Execution: Demo vs. TechCrunch50

If your online circles touch on tech it is likely you have caught wind (and perhaps even a bit of hot air) of a pseudo controversial battle between two prominent conferences, DEMO and TechCrunch50. There has been much ballyhoo in battling blog posts between Robert Scoble and Chris Shipley, and others.

Last year I was fortunate to attend both DemoFall and TechCrunch40 and frankly, from my perspective they were both really great events, and in many respects very different events. As the new kid on the block, TechCrunch40 was full of spunk and excitement, and based in Downtown San Francisco it seemed to attract everyone. It was broadly attended by start-ups, bloggers, tech-execs and enthusiasts. The hallways were networking heaven, and seemed to transcend the scope of the presenting companies and attendees. Demo, in contrast, being based in San Diego, was more like being on an island. Seemingly smaller and more slickly produced, Demo had the feel of a more elite, country club event. More focus on the presenting companies and so-called mainstream press, and few, if any, folks who were not directly involved as a presenting company, media, or investment community attendee. At both events I saw great presentations and not so great presentations. At both events I was impressed at times, and not so impressed at others. Regardless of my own impressions, and my own personal and professional agendas at each, for the companies presenting each event was most certainly an important and exciting moment. It was a time for the companies to shine, and show off their innovation and share their inspiration.

Which leads me to my point. Through all the hype and hyperbole, I sincerely hope that the companies currently involved in both events remember that the real excitement of entrepreneurship is not just having a great idea, making a killer presentation, and becoming the darling of the press or the blogosphere. The real challenge and real excitement of being an entrepreneur is in EXECUTING. In the end, its not about Demo or TechCrunch50 or any other conference or press event, but rather, it is about building a company that really serves your marketplace and customers as you have defined them. It is about executing on a plan that delivers a great product or service that generates real revenue and creates opportunities and careers for your employees and value for your investors.

In the coming months and years ahead, the success of the companies on display this week will not be measured by which event they were a part of or how cool their presentation was. The true measure of success will be based on their execution.

Good luck to them all!

Photo Credit: Tjall -

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A Club Worth Joining: Social Media Club

I don't want to belong to any club that would accept me as a member.

--Groucho Marx

I am a lifelong Groucho Marx fan... When I was in High School I once cut classes to spend the entire day on line in front of a Manhattan movie theater just to catch a fleeting glimpse of a frail, elderly Groucho walking the red carpet at the re-release of the Marx Brothers' 1930 classic film, ANIMAL CRACKERS. I have been "Groucho" at many a Halloween celebration and costume party. When I first created an account at Virtual World SECOND LIFE and saw that "Marx" was one of the available surnames I was able to secure "Groucho Marx" as my Avatar.

As much as I admire Groucho, however, I have to disagree with his famous quote above. I would join a club that would accept me as a member! As a matter of fact, last night I joined a club that welcomed me as a member: Social Media Club.

Alex de Carvalho and Social Media Club founder Chris Heuer organized the launch of Social Media Club South Florida and the inaugural event attracted about 40 Floridians for an evening of engagement and great conversation. With chapters all across the globe, Social Media Club is doing a great job of "
...building an organization and a community where the many diverse groups of people who care about social media can come together to discover, connect, share, and learn."

If you are looking to turn your online Social Networking into some real world social engagement don't be like Groucho. Go ahead and join the local Social Media Club, and if your area doesn't have one yet, go ahead and contact Chris to find out how you can start a chapter!

Here is Chris talking a bit about the origin and purpose of Social Media Club:

Update: Here is some audio of the conversation at Social Media Club South Florida as recorded by Chris:

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Social Media Is NOT An Industry

I've been making a concerted effort to leave more comments on the blogs I read, and recently I commented on a post called "The Future of Social Media: Hope Or Hype?" at Jason Falls' great Social Media Explorer blog. My comment touched on some discussions I recently had at a breakfast with Jeff Pulver, where we were discussing different real world applications of "Social Media."


Social Media is fun and addicting, so it is no surprise that the active participants love to talk about it, examine it, analyze it and obsess over it. Hell, here I am writing about it. Guilty as charged! But what is Social Media? As I wrote in my response to Jason:

Hi Jason. Great post. I think the reason this Hype question even exists is that "Social Media" is really NOT a standalone industry or sector, even though many folks are trying to position it as such. IMHO Social Media is not an industry.
Well, if it is not an "industry" what is it? I continued:

Social Media really refers to a set of technology driven tools and services that simply allow us to do what we have always been doing -- interacting and engaging with friends, family, associates and customers -- but with Social Media we can do it in a much more efficient, easy, cost-effective and far reaching way. Faxes were better than snail mail, and email is better than faxes, but they all enable us to communicate and exchange messages with others. Social media is like that on steroids, making it almost ridiculously simple to engage with an almost unlimited number of folks, removing all barriers of time, cost and place. Social Media provides the ability to listen and engage faster and better than ever before, and EVERY industry can use the tools and services... not to be a part of Social Media, but to leverage Social Media as a part of what they are already doing, to do it better!
Clearly, I believe there are tremendous personal and professional benefits to using Social Media, but the key is not as much being "active in Social Media" but rather, how can you make Social Media become a part of your activities.

What's your take? Is Social Media an Industry? Please add your thoughts to the comments, and if you like reading this blog, please subscribe by email or RSS.

Photo Credit: Paul Hill -

Monday, August 18, 2008

BigFoot is Pulling Our Leg!

Frame 352 from the film, allegedly capturing a...Image via Wikipedia In this age of bloggers breaking news before CNN and so-called "Citizen Journalism" often trumping the evening news, is it at all surprising that a "Press Conference" held by "BigFoot Hunters" would attract literally dozens of seasoned journalists? Not at all. News happens NOW, and news is published globally NOW and if you are not right there right then like the paparazzi popping pictures and posting your posts and twittering your tweets it is too late. You missed the scoop and are left with the poop.

Thus, the BigFoot bozos took center stage and center ring at the self-perpetuated media circus surrounding a longstanding legend with huge shoes to fill. BigFoot was not only spotted, but found! As the breaking news chilled the dog days of summer, BigFoot himself was chilling on ice in an over sized Coleman cooler at an undisclosed location. As the journeyman soldier Marcellus sort of said in HAMLET, "Something is rotten in a state of decomposition..."


Inspired by the attention these hacking hunters were able to arouse around some large feet and Halloweenie fur, I set upon my own search for Sasquatch (or in my case, SASS-quatch). I set about meandering through the steamy mangroves of South Florida in search of my own evidence that BigFoot exists...

And I found it!

EXCLUSIVE video evidence of BigFoot on

As if the above video is not compelling evidence enough, I was also able to capture two crystal clear photographs of the actual BigFoot. You can see these startling and dramatic EXCLUSIVE pictures HERE and HERE.

Now that I have put my (big) foot down and squashed the matter of Sasquatch once and for all, I am getting ready to go to work on my next expose... proving that long before the current Phoenix mission there was already tangible evidence of life on Mars!

What do you think?

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

In Search of Ghosts (Orchids)


Recently I went on an Everglades Hike with the Florida Native Plant Society to look for a Ghost Orchid. I know nothing about plants and know nobody in the organization, but the prospect of a nature hike through the Everglades in search of a rare plant (the same elusive Orchid that was at the root of the film ADAPTATION) seemed like a neat thing to do on a sunny Saturday morning. The emailed instructions were clear: Bring a walking stick. Wear shoes you don't mind trudging through knee-deep mud (and bring back-up footwear for afterwards). Be aware that there will likely be snakes. Snakes???

So Sue and I drove west along Alligator Alley to the appointed meeting area. We gathered with the rest of the group and followed them down an unmarked dirt road driving five miles into the Everglades. Along the road we saw many alligators in the canal alongside, and at one point a few deer came charging out of the woods on the other side. Yep, it was going to be a nature hike!

After parking our cars by a trail entrance, we walked. Jack, our guide, wore a well-worn hand held GPS device from a lanyard around his neck, the modern day equivalent of the compass mounted on plastic I once carried as a Boy Scout. Before we were too far down the trail, away from our vehicles, Jack once again reminded us that the Everglades is a swamp, that we will be trudging through mud that could be knee deep in places... and that there will likely be snakes, so keep your eyes open and watch where you step before you step. He instructed us to use the walking sticks not so much for walking, but rather to poke the mud ahead of us to ward off unseen slithery friends.

I turned to Sue, "Who's idea was this, anyway???"

We trudged on. After walking ninety minutes or so, Jack informed us we were ready to head off the visible trail and into the swamp. At this point, we were to be relying on Jack's familiarity with the area, and his dangling GPS, upon which he had marked a few waypoints where he thought we'd have a good chance of spotting a ghost.


Ghost Orchids are apparently very rare indeed. They only bloom in optimal conditions, and then only during two weeks a year. Many seasoned botanists have never seen one in bloom in the wild. Perhaps many seasoned botanists are much smarter than I am and know better than to invade the murky habitat of cottonmouth water moccasins.

As we got to the point where the mud was calf deep, and every cautious step resulted in an audible "THWUP" as my foot was plucked from the muck, Jack started to call out the snakes as he saw them, and led us on a circuitous route through the swamp to avoid their path. At one point, we had to walk through the mud while about two yards away, two large cottonmouths lounged on some rocks amidst the winding root system of an old tree. As the sun dipped in and out between the tall vegetation of our jungle-like environ, it was hard to make out which bits of thick roundness were the snakes and which were the tree's tentacle like roots. Suddenly, it was easier to tell, as one of the snakes lithely slipped into the water, just a few feet away.

Now what? Do I concern myself with the snake(s) in the water that I cannot see, or do I remain focused on the snake I can see, and ensure that I do not disturb it and potentially provoke an attack. I chose the latter, slowly sludging by, keeping close tabs on even the slightest movements of it's slithery scales. We passed safely, our encounters with the snakes remaining only visual, and our adrenalin levels admittedly on the high side.

Eventually, we came across a beautiful Ghost in full bloom. Jack, and the budding botanists of the Native Plant Society were abuzz and in awe. They had found the holy grail they sought! I, on the other hand, was thinking about the snakes, and the lesson I had learned. Don't worry so much about the challenges you cannot see, and thus perhaps cannot control. Rather, stay focused on the challenges you can see, and focused, you can conquer them.

Which snakes/challenges are you focused on?

Here is an Animoto video from the pictures I took on my Quest For The Ghost Orchid:

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Love Thy Neighbor

When I discovered Podcasting in 2004 I was immediately hooked. When I discovered Podcast fiction I was addicted. I was in on Scott Sigler's EARTHCORE from the very first episode, and not only have I listened like a good Junkie to every episode of every podcast novel he has so brilliantly spewed forth, I have gone on to become good friends with Scott. I have been fortunate to meet many of the Podcast novelists whose work I admire, including Seth Harwood ("Jack Wakes Up"), Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff ("Number One With A Bullet", "Shadow Falls", "Diary of a Madman"), Tee Morris ("Morevi") and the inspiration for this blog post: creator of the uber popular "7th Son" Trilogy, J.C. Hutchins.

I first heard of "7th Son" when a promo ran during one of Scott Sigler's podcasts (I can't recall if it was ANCESTOR, INFECTION, or THE ROOKIE - you should listen to them all to check). I listened to all three 7th Son novels and was a fan of J.C.'s clonederful stories when, as fate would have it, he responded to a recruitment ad I posted on Twitter and YouTube. As a result, J.C. and I now work together at Myxer. (You can read more about that here.)

I am truly inspired by the creativity and great work these talented writers put together and offer to the world for free. On many occasions I have dusted off something I have written and contemplated turning it into a podcast novel of my own, but I've never gotten off my procrastinating butt to do so. Until now...

J.C. Hutchins has launched a ground breaking creative project with his "7th Son: Obsidian" series. He has extended the fictional world he created in the 7th Son trilogy by inviting other authors, podcasters and fans to create content based on a particular event in 7th Son - A nationwide blackout. In J.C.'s words: "On November 19, 2007, the U.S. suffered a coordinated terrorist attack, and was plunged into a nationwide blackout. The country devolved into chaos..."

When J.C. introduced his "Obsidian" project it lit a flame deep inside me, and a story started to brew. The sleeping wordsmith in the dark corners of my brain had been awakened. The result is a short story called "LOVE THY NEIGHBOR," which I recorded as my very first attempt at Podcast fiction.

I am honored and delighted that J.C. thought LOVE THY NEIGHBOR was worthy of being a part of his 7th Son Obsidian project. I hope you will listen to it and let me know what you think in the comments below. (P.S. there ARE some of George Carlin's 7 dirty words in LOVE THY NEIGHBOR)

Here is J.C. Hutchins' 7th Son Obsidian presentation of LOVE THY NEIGHBOR


(P.P.S. If you enjoy reading my blog, please subscribe via RSS or EMAIL in the sidebar above)

UPDATE: I am flattered by this great review of LOVE THY NEIGHBOR on the Time Well Wasted blog. Thanks Gemini!

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Apple Update Update...

Like many folks, I spent Friday, July 11th frustrated that I was unable to instantly and seamlessly purchase the iPod Touch software update and enjoy the wonders of the new App Store... but alas, it was not to be. In order to vent my frustrations against a suddenly rotten Apple, I wrote this Haiku:

Apple update day...
My Touch cannot get in touch.
Sometimes life just syncs!

But this story has a happy ending! Today I was able to complete the update and bless my Touch with 2.0. I have loaded it with apps galore and I have reveled in the glory of a Touch worth touching. So today I present a new Haiku:

Touch update complete.
The Apple is now shiny.

If you have an iPhone or an iPod Touch what was your update experience like? Leave a comment and let me know. Or better yet, leave a HAIKU of your own!

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Thoroughly Modern Millie!

Poster for the film Thoroughly Modern MillieImage via WikipediaAhhh, technology! As a serious "gadget geek" who is old enough to remember when there was no such thing as a personal computer on every desk or lap, I am a firm believer that technology has no age boundaries. When I look at generations older than my own I can see how those "seniors" who embrace technology are invigorated, connected, and live more enriched and enlightened lives. How can they not? How can it not be better in your retirement years to have the world at your fingertips from the comfort of your PC? How can it not be better to spend your golden years just a mouse click away from all the knowledge, places, and people you could ever dream of reading, seeing or reaching out and touching.


With that in mind I was thrilled to see popular vlogger Steve Garfield proudly touting his mom's appearance tonight on ABC World News. Seeing popular blogger Millie Garfield, at age 82, talking with passion and enthusiasm about her blog, and Flickr, Twitter, community and "googling" was a delight and perhaps the best imaginable endorsement of blogging and so called social media. No wonder Steve is always plugging "My Mom's Blog." It is great, and so is she.


Seeing this thoroughly modern Millie also made me think of my own Dad, who, at almost 73, is as addicted to his Blackberry as anyone I know and who doesn't go anywhere without his iPod and Laptop. I am also reminded that the more things change, the more they remain the same. When I was in college, my Dad used to send me big Manila envelopes filled with Xerox copies of pages and pages of stupid jokes. Today, he still sends me the stupid jokes... but now it is by email.

So thanks, Dad, for the stupid jokes (and for being a tech savvy senior). And thanks Millie, for being a blogger and an inspiration!

Are the seniors in your life "connected"?

Here is Steve's "behind the scenes" video of his Mom's ABC World News interview.

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Museum Piece, Circa 2025

Visitors to the Museum of Modern Art were fascinated to learn that in the year 2008 it was not uncommon for popular Internet services to experience something called "downtime," often represented by cute avatars that are now considered works of art...

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