Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dadomatic: Will The Real Santa Please Stand Up?

Will The Real Santa Please Stand Up?

‘Tis the season when red and green are the new black, and the “holiday spirit” permeates all things commercial and otherwise.  If you are politically correct, then almost all salutations, spoken, written, or otherwise are readily sprinkled with “HAPPY HOLIDAYS.”  If you are politically direct, then, at least this week, it is “MERRY CHRISTMAS.”  I am Jewish, and now that the Menorah is back in its box, I am perfectly happy to enjoy the trees and the lights and the wreaths and even the occasional mistletoe.  I am also perfectly happy to say, MERRY CHRISTMAS to someone, and even happier when someone says MERRY CHRISTMAS to me.  That is because for me, Christmas is not so much a religious holiday as a state of mind.  It is has become an extension of the introspective warm and fuzzies that start with Thanksgiving and end at year-end on New Year’s Eve.  It is during this proverbial “Holiday Season” that we are finally free from the go, go, go, get, get, get mentality of the rest of the year and at last have explicit permission to be a little sappy.  This time of year it is okay to be reflective and appreciative. It is okay to be helpful and giving. It is okay to say “I love you” and “thank you” a lot, and to a lot of people who touch your life.  Of course it should always be okay to do these things and they really should not be reserved for the last five weeks of the year.  Unfortunately, many of us, myself often included, keep these emotions and their expressions in check most of the year, boxed up along with our lights, ornaments and Menorah’s…

Bah Hamburger…

I used to be a regular Scrooge come Christmastime, muttering “Bah Humbug” under my breath and frowning my way through my seasonal melancholy with an irritated demeanor that would have made Chuck Dickens proud.  In recent years, however, I have seen less of my inner Ebenezer and more of my Santa self.  I have watched my kids become young adults and grow beyond the age when they were in awe to wake up and find half-eaten cookies and a half-filled glass of milk as proof positive that indeed Santa had squeezed through our chimney and left all those colorfully wrapped gifts under the tree (yes, my kids grew up in a “mixed” household and we celebrated both Hanukkah and Christmas).  I can fondly recall when it was my turn to wear the rented Santa suit and offer entertainment (and my lap) to my kids and nieces and nephews, using my best stage voice to give them a hearty, bellowing, “Ho, ho, ho!”

The Santa Clause…

I miss those days when my kids were young enough for Santa and Christmas to be more magical than commercial.  When we could dangle the notion that there really is a Santa and the concept teetered precariously on the edges of their belief.  Now, as I am older and presumably wiser, and as my kids have long since wised up to the fictional tricks of St. Nick, I have come to the realization that Santa does indeed exist.  I am Santa, and so are you!

Will The Real Santa Please Stand Up?

As parents, we are all Santa, and like Santa in his North Pole workshop, we too, are working at being Santa all year long.  As Santa, we must monitor and guide our kids from naughty to nice.  We keep our lists and remind them of their great moments, and the moments that need some work.  We offer our laps to our kids freely as a place of comfort, consoling and encouragement.  We shower our kids with gifts all the time.  Sometimes in the form of Christmas-like packages, but more often our gifts come in the form of constant love and support, doing it all to provide a happy roof overhead and food on the table every day. We ride our modern mini-van sleighs through the neighborhood, and always do our best to bring cheer to our children when they are most in need of it.  We may not have long white beards, reindeer and elves, but we have the holiday spirit in us to be a good Santa all year round. It’s what parents do.

What do you think? Are you a real Santa too?  I hope so, and send you and your family best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season, and of course a Merry Christmas too!

“Ho, Ho, Ho!”

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 22, Ethan, 20 and Olivia, 19).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.

Photo Credit: © Ivan Bliznetsov – Fotolia.com

My Holiday post at www.dadomatic.com... Happy Holidays!

Posted via email from Kiss My SASS!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Devices With The Dragon Tattoo

It has been a while since I have read a good thriller, and there is nothing like the feeling you get when you are approaching the end of a page turner, reading fast and furiously, racing toward the grand finale, but at the same time wishing the feeling (and the story) would never end.  I just finished reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and, thanks to my gadgets, I was able to extend the experience a few hours more than I expected, and flesh out the images and enactments of the story that the brisk words of Stieg Larsson had etched in my mind's eye.

Kindle Fuels The Fire

I bought the Kindle version of the first book in Larsson's now acclaimed "Millennium Trilogy" and took full advantage of Amazon's clever cross-platform cloud based whiz bang of Whispersync. At one time or another I would read portions of the intriguing tale of Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander on my Android HTC EVO, my iPad, my actual Amazon Kindle, and even my laptop PC.  Thanks to the slick Kindle software I could move seamlessly between devices and always keep my place in the story.  No matter where I was or what I was doing, I had access to my book, and the ability to slip in some reading and dive back into the adventure, living vicariously through the vying Vanger family.

Next Up...Netflix

I finished reading DRAGON TATTOO on my iPad, and as I feverishly swiped my way through the pages of the novel's delicious denouement, I was conflicted by both the excitement of reaching the end of the story, and the disappointment of reaching the end of the story and having to end my engagement and entertainment immersed in Larsson's well characterized world.  As I finished the finale and exited the Kindle App on my iPad I suddenly smiled and said to myself, "but wait...there's more!" Sure, there are two more novels in the series, but I wanted more of this story.  I wanted to relish more in the tale just told.  No problem!  After just a few taps of my iPad screen, thanks to Netflix and their great iPad App I was instantly watching the extremely well done Swedish film of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo on the same screen that I had just finished reading the book.  The characters I had been imagining in my mind were now fully realized before me, faithfully (for a film adaptation) reenacting the drama that I had been living through the digital pages on so many devices.

My Head (And Entertainment) In The Cloud

Thanks to the intricate interoperability of all my digital toys and "the cloud" I was able to enjoy a good novel in ways that were not so readily possible just a short time ago, and it was great. Having your books follow you everywhere you go makes reading a good thriller a thrill, and having instant access to the movie of the book as a visual dessert to a hearty literary meal is a delicious way to extend the end of a great story.  I have already started reading The Girl Who Played with Fire (the second installment in Larsson's trilogy) and I look forward to the movie, and to repeating the process again with The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.  I realize it is perhaps unusual to have a novel trilogy with a matching trilogy of faithfully produced film versions, but diving into Stieg Larsson's MILLENNIUM Trilogy in this fashion is perhaps the most fun I've had with digital entertainment this millennium!

How about you? Have you found new ways to enjoy your reading and watching thanks to your digital devices?

(Disclosure: All the book and DVD links in this post are Amazon Affiliate links)

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Saturday, December 04, 2010

How To Beat A Bot (By Being Human)

So, I am sitting at my computer minding my own business when a Facebook Chat window pops up and asks,

 "around? jeffrey, got a second??"  

It is from "Michael N.," an old high school acquaintance who, like so many others, I have befriended on Facebook but haven't really engaged with save for a few mass messages from other old High School friends that we were both copied on.  We are friends by Facebook standards and we certainly hung out in the same crowd on occasion "back in the day," but (no disrespect to Mike) we were not close friends.  That's why I was surprised to see a chat message from him...  So I answered,

"Sure. I am here.  How are you?

And then things got, in my opinion, a little bit weird.  No, "hey, how've you been?" or "whatever happened to so and so...?"  Instead, Michael said,

"ok cool, I know this is random, but i want you to try something real quick"

First of all, I know this is chat and Facebook and the age of instant messaging, but I'd like to think that a fellow adult who shared the same quality New York City Public High School education that I had would be a cut above using limited punctuation and all lower case letters when typing anything. I continued, tentatively...


And then "Michael" asked me to take some crazy IQ test.  An IQ test?  A guy I haven't seen or spoken to in decades out of the blue sends me a link to take an online IQ test?  WTF?  I didn't have to be a CSI to know that something was amiss.  I've been fooled before, but I won't get fooled again! (Yeah, all this High School talk brings back memories of THE WHO...).  So, clever me asks,

"How do I know this is you and not a bot?"

And of course I get a reply that has no relationship whatsoever to the question I just asked.  In my mind I hit Bot Bingo... no way this was really Michael!  And just to be sure, I go ahead and play the human card.  I want him to prove he's the guy I went to Forest Hills High with...

"Tell me something personal so I know it is really you..."

Silence.  No answer.  The chat is over.  Score: Human 1, Bot 0.  Chalk one up for the sentient beings!  I beat the bot!

What do you do when faced with an apparent bot? Do you try to beat it at its own game by asking questions only a human could answer?  Please share your bot beating techniques in the comments.

(P.S. I sent the real Michael N. a message that his FB account may have been hacked...  No reply so far.  He probably thinks the note from me is spam!)

Bot Photo Credit: © iBamboo3106 - Fotolia.com

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

From Dadomatic: If You Can Read This… Be Thankful!

If you awaken to a house full of noisy kids… be thankful.
If you are tired because you spent half the night feeding and rocking an infant to sleep… be thankful.
If you are late for work because you walked your son or daughter to the bus stop and the bus never showed… be thankful.
If you are frustrated because you really don’t know how to do the math to help your kid with the homework… be thankful.
If you had to change your outfit twice in a day because of spittle and spills… be thankful.
If you worry about money because school costs so damn much… be thankful.
If you have no time for yourself (but make time for your kids)… be thankful.
If you can collapse a stroller easily with one hand… be thankful.
If you read more nursery rhymes than novels lately… be thankful.
If you know the smell of a baby’s head… be thankful.
If you cry because your child cries… be thankful.
If you worry your kid will get hurt every time they are not in your sight… be thankful.
If you have ever been grossed out by things you never dreamed could be pooped out of a tiny butt… be thankful.
If you angrily left work early to attend a parent-teacher conference… be thankful.
If you caught yourself cursing or acting badly in front of your kids… be thankful.
If you have ever lost your temper and yelled like a banshee, scaring your child and yourself… be thankful.
If you are uplifted simply by the smile of your son or daughter… be thankful.
If hearing “I love you Daddy” has turned an awful day into the best day ever… be thankful.
If there’s a little person in the world who wants to be just like you when they grow up… be thankful.
If you have been embarrassed in public by your child in the midst of a kicking, screaming irrational tantrum… be thankful.
If you know the joy of watching your kid do anything for the very first time… be thankful.
If you have spent an entire weekend sweating with frustration while assembling a swing set… be thankful.
If you have ever canceled something you were really looking forward to because your little one was sick… be thankful.
If you ache with love for your child in ways that words simply cannot do justice… be thankful.
If you have ever swapped a tooth under the pillow for some money… be thankful.
If you have ever sat, bored out of your mind, through tedious school productions… be thankful.
If you have ever braced yourself in the passenger seat as your teenager gets behind the wheel… be thankful.
If you tell your kid “yes you can!” even when you are not so sure… be thankful.
If you want more for your kids than you ever dreamed of for yourself… be thankful.
If you know how to change a diaper… be thankful.
If “crib” means more to you than a celebrity’s house… be thankful.
If you find yourself bragging shamelessly about your child’s accomplishment… be thankful.

If you are a parent… be thankful.

It is so easy to forget how truly fortunate we are, and how so many of the things that really matter, we already have.

If you can read this… be thankful.

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 22, Ethan, 20 and Olivia, 19).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.

Photo Credit: © 2Dot – Fotolia.com

Related Post: Ten Reasons To Be Thankful For Your Kids At Thanksgiving

My Thanksgiving Post from www.dadomatic.com... I am thankful for you!

Posted via email from Kiss My SASS!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Perspective, And The Attack of the Giant Spider

OMG, a giant spider is attacking my neighborhood!!!

That's what it looks like, right?  A humongous spider is terrorizing the neighborhood by climbing along the telephone wires, on its way to wreak havoc and destruction. Of course, that is what the perspective of the picture makes it look like.  In fact, the merely average sized spider in question is hanging out in his tangled web just a few inches in front of my phone's camera, and a great distance from the telephone wires above us.

Things Are Rarely As Bad As They Seem

It is easy to draw the worst conclusion and overreact to things if you don't keep them in proper perspective.  The choice is ours to make.  We can be frightened by the things we believe to be giant attacking spiders, or we can recognize that, when put in perspective, the things we fear are not nearly as daunting as we let them become.  The "spiders" that scare us are actually small and relatively harmless.  Put in perspective, we realize it is not that hard, if you're paying attention, to avoid them and not get caught up in a web of anxiety.  Keeping things in perspective helps us avoid unnecessary angst and stress.  

Life's too short to spend it worrying about giant attacking spiders, don't you think?

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Drew Carey, The Price Is Right (And The Price We Pay)

"Jeffrey Sass, from Myxer... come on down!" Yes! Drew Carey just picked my business card out of a bucket and called me onto the CNET Stage at CES for a round of Geek Trivia! I had just been admiring how down to earth and cool Drew was being with the gathered crowd, signing autographs and taking pictures and joking around warmly. Despite his celebrity he seemed like a regular guy, just as you would expect he would. Approachable, funny, someone you'd want to be friends with and who just might let you... I raised one hand in the air, half whooping, and half identifying myself as the person whose name Drew had just called.

Smile, We're All On Candid Camera...

As I "came on down" to the stage, I remembered that in my other hand I held a shiny new toy...a handheld HD video camera on loan from my friends at Sony. I had only had the camera in my possession for a few minutes and was wholly unfamiliar with it, but it had a familiar flip out LCD screen and a bunch of buttons that I assumed would turn it on and make it record. Perfect! They say the best camera is the camera you have with you, and here I was, about to go on stage with Drew Carey, camera in hand. I HAD to capture the moment on video...

As I pushed through the crowd I flipped open the LCD and heard a reassuring high pitched beep as the camera turned on. I fantasized about the tens of thousands of YouTube views I would get when I posted this uber cool video of me and the uber cool @DrewFromTV. I stepped up onto the stage and Drew shook my hand. I held up the camera and above the din of the crowd asked him if he minded if I recorded. He had barely said "sure, knock yourself out" and I had the camera up in front of my face and pointed at him.

The next few minutes were a blur, mostly because I spent them staring at a 3-inch LCD screen, living life at 720p and 30 frames per second, filtered through the lens of a borrowed video camera. As Drew slipped into his comfortable role as game show host and focused on emceeing the round of "Geek Trivia" I was focused on keeping Carey in focus in the LCD of the Sony. When he called on me to answer a ridiculously easy multiple choice question (something about Linus Torvalds and Linux) I was so caught up in being a citizen cinematographer that I lost all synaptic connections to my brain and though fully cognizant of the correct answer, from behind the camera my brain failed me. As I pointed the camera at Drew to capture his reaction I blurted out the wrong answer, knowing it was wrong the moment the words left my mouth. As the knowing crowd of geeks in the audience chuckled at my apparent ignorance, Drew too looked at me as the dunce I was.

Fleeting Fame...

My fifteen minutes of fame had lasted about fifteen seconds. Drew handed me a consolation tee shirt and whisked me off the stage. I pointed the video camera at him as I left the limelight, but he had already forgotten my poor performance and was on to the next contestant...

As embarrassed as I was at my geek trivia gaffe, I was still quite excited.  After all, I had this awesome video of "me and Drew Carey" ready to blast my YouTube cred to a new level. It was worth the shame of getting knocked out of the competition by the first softball question. Perhaps that would actually make my video funnier and thus more appealing and an even better magnet for views. As soon as I was a reasonable distance away from the stage I stopped in my tracks to examine the camera and replay my handiwork. I figured out which button set the camera into playback mode and eagerly pressed it.

Nothing. Panicked, I closed the LCD to shut the camera off, then opened it again to resurrect the recorder.  I put it into playback mode again. Again, nothing. No Drew. No me. No!!!  Sure, the camera had been on, and I watched my magical moments with Drew Carey through the lifelike images on the LCD, but alas, in my haste (and my unfamilarity with this particular camera model) I had not actually ever pressed "record." There was no video of "me and Drew." Worse, I had barely participated in the experience as I was focused the whole time on making the video and not at all on "living the moment." Not only had I lost the chance to capture it on "tape" I had lost the chance to capture it in my memory, as my only memory would be of the 3-inch LCD screen, and my desperate attempt to make a great video.

To add insult to injury, I looked in my hand and saw the "The Price Is Right" tee shirt Drew had given me. It was pink. It was a woman's size. I would have no video, and no tee shirt to wear to prove I had even been there with Drew...

A Digital Dilemma...

It is wonderful that we are all media producers, with cameras in our phones and literal recording studios in our pockets. The digital age of sharing has changed the way we approach our everyday experiences, viewing everything as an opportunity to tweet, and post, and capture and blog. These can all be great things and fun to do. But sometimes life is better left lived. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but good memories and real experiences can be worth a thousand pictures.

Drew, if we ever have the chance to meet again, I promise.. no pictures!!!
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Sunday, October 03, 2010

Android App Alphabet: Still in the "A's" with App 2 SD

I could not imagine going through the day without my trusted HTC EVO.  I rely on it for so many daily functions, from waking me up in the morning as an alarm clock, to acting as my mobile media center for my daily fix of podcasts, social network updates, news and information, and even for the occasional phone call.  With that in mind, when my EVO starts getting sluggish and begins to under perform, it becomes an instant source of unnecessary stress in my life (yeah, I know, I shouldn't be complaining if the "stress" I am worried about is related to the performance of my smartphone...but, hey, such is the life of a gadget geek!)

Thanks For The (Lack Of) Memory...

It seems the greatest contributor to my occasional Android angst is the lack of internal memory.  So, when I overload my phone with too many apps and too much data I am faced with a fatigued device, prone to frequent failures, from crashes to missed calls to cutting off my ability to add more apps.  What's a geek to do?  Of course, deleting data and memory gobbing apps is one way to free up space on your Android, but it can be frustrating if you like to have lots of apps at your fingertips.  The latest versions of Android do let you store and run apps from the SD card, which is a great solution except that not all apps are capable of being moved to the SD card.  It is a function developers must actively include in each individual app. As a result, you may have to go through the painful process of checking each app on your phone, one by one, to see if it can be moved to the SD card.  Not a happy way to spend the day.

Sam Lu To The Rescue!

The best answer I have found so far is a neat little free app from developer Sam Lu, App 2 SD.  As the name implies, App 2 SD scans the apps on your Android device and let's you know which internal apps are capable of being moved to the SD card, and then it lets you move them all with a single click.  Nice!  It even can move itself to the SD card, all in all providing a very simple, efficient way to free up as much internal memory hogged by apps as you can.  You can also use Apps 2 SD to move apps from the SD card back to the phone, if need be.

If you are aggravated by Android apps invading your internal memory then App 2 SD may be just the tool you have been looking for! 

Do you have other tips for freeing up Android internal memory?  Please add them in the comments, where there is no limit on space!

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Your Social Media Strategy Is An Octopus! (From #140Conf Boston)

My friend Jeff Pulver has grown his 140 Characters Conference ("140Conf") to be a global gathering of stories and storytellers covering every imaginable aspect of the impact of the "real-time web" on business, media, education, art and our daily lives. Jeff manages to collect an amazing group of real characters who have real experiences, large and small, and who are always informative and inspiring.  With back to back, wall to wall speakers and panels taking the one and only main stage it is a fast paced event, overloaded with amazing content about "real-time" presented in real-time.  I have had the opportunity to speak at the inaugural 140Conf event, as well as several others thereafter, and it has always been one of my favorite events to speak at.    

The Social Media Octopus

At the recent 140Conf Boston conference I discussed how "Your Social Media Strategy Is An Octopus!"  At Myxer, where I work, I was recently tasked with developing a "social media" strategy for the company.  Suddenly this thing I have been playing with and writing and speaking about for three years is now part of my job responsibility. Be careful what you wish for...   

In developing a strategy for Myxer I used the Octopus as a helpful analogy to address the many tentacles of our Social Media activities:
  • An Octopus has many tentacles, and your social media strategy has many outposts and elements (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Blogs, etc.)
  • The tentacles of an Octopus are both deeply intertwined and independent of each other as they work to support the Octopus.  The tentacles of your social media strategy are similarly intertwined and independent, working to support your marketing objectives.
  • An Octopus can jettison one of it's tentacles and grow a new one.  Similarly, you should jettison your social tentacles that aren't working and try something new.
  • An Octopus is a master of camouflage, and can literally become invisible.  A good social media strategy should also be invisible, and your social media interactions should feel organic and natural to your customers.
What do you think?  Is your social media strategy an Octopus?

Below is the video of my 140Conf Boston presentation.  Thanks to @geogeller for recording the video, and thanks to @iPayStation for the photo above. For convenience I edited the video to include the videos I showed and some of my slides.

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Posted via email from Kiss My SASS!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Are You Getting Your Pizza The Mobile Pie?

I had the pleasure of participating on two panels and giving a "spotlight" presentation at DigiDay: Mobile in NY on Monday.  Nick Friese, Tameka Kee and the entire DM2 Media team run a great series of events focusing on all aspects of Digital Media, and my employer Myxer has been happy to be one of the sponsors of both DigiDay: Apps and DigiDay: Mobile.  I enjoy speaking before a crowd, and had some fun this time bringing along an edible "prop."  The description of the session and video of the presentation is below.  What do you think?  Does the idea of "branded mobile content" resonate with you?  I welcome your thoughts and feedback in the comments.

FREE Branded Content: Mobile For The Mass Market: Apps, apps, apps. Location, location, location.  These are the incessantly buzzing Buzz words of the day.  But the majority of U.S. mobile subscribers don’t have a Smartphone yet, and they have little interest in sharing their every move with friends and marketers.  How do brands reach the masses of the mobile marketplace in fun, engaging and attention getting ways?  With branded personalization content that rings true across all handsets, smart or not.  Brands from GEICO to SKITTLES to FORD to ORBIT and more have leveraged the broad reach of free branded mobile content to establish lasting engagement with consumers.

Posted via email from Kiss My SASS!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11th And The Things I Miss

There will be much written today about the events of 9/11 and much of it by folks who were far more directly impacted than I was. I did not lose any family or immediate friends, but I still feel a sense of loss, and like most of us, a sense that things changed on that day, deeply, dramatically and permanently, even if at times it is hard to verbalize just what those changes are.

Stars And Stripes Forever?

In the days following September 11th 2001, in addition to the feelings of sadness, frustration and anger, I was overwhelmed by a sense of community and nationalism. Through the horror of the act of terrorism in my homeland there emerged a powerful sense of belonging, of being part of a common cause, of being an American. After so many years of neglect, I once again recited The Pledge Of Allegiance with meaning and purpose, as a true pledge and with pride and emotion behind the rote words. One of my sons and I planted a flagpole in our front yard and the raising and lowering of the American flag became a cherished daily routine. As I drove to and from work I was invigorated by the many cars, like my own, proudly waving the Stars and Stripes from windows and antennas. We were all in this together, and that sense of belonging seemed to be perhaps the one silver lining in a very dark and stormy cloud.

Where Did It All Go?

In 2005 Hurricane Wilma ripped the flagpole from my yard. Weeks earlier a gash had already been ripped in my American pride by the blatantly failed response to Hurricane Katrina. In the aftermath of Wilma, faced with my own challenges to repair and rebuild, I had no desire to restore my fallen flagpole.  I had lost more than a boat and trees and part of my roof.  I had lost the sense of American pride and purpose that I had regained back on 9/11.  Today, as I think about all that was lost nine years ago, I am also sorry for what has been lost since.  In 2010 we are faced with so much uncertainty that I feel there is hardly a trace of the caring and patriotism that the awful attacks inspired.  The "war on terror" continues.  The faith in our economy continues to decline.  When I look upon my neighbors and fellow Americans I see much more worry than waving of flags.

So Many To Thank

My heart goes out to those who were lost on this day nine years ago, and to the families who have suffered since, and to the brave and dedicated men and women who have put, and are putting, their country first through their service in the military and other public branches.  Your sacrifices and commitment do make me proud to be an American, and I hope that one day soon, for reasons that are only positive, I will once again be inspired to plant a flagpole in my yard.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Myxer Cracks The QR Code

(Note: The following is an article I wrote for The Official Myxer Blog.  As author of the post, I have graciously given myself permission to re-post it here...)

It turns out Da Vinci isn’t the only one who can get a bunch of people worked up about a code. For many years now the Mobile Industry has been excited by the prospect of using barcodes to connect the real world with the virtual world. I know this firsthand as back in 1998/99 I was co-founder of a company called BarPoint.com, and our entire business was built around the concept of entering or scanning a barcode on your phone and instantly getting back product specific search results and comparison shopping information. Can you say “ahead of our time”?

That Was Then, This Is Now

Flash forward to 2010 and the age of the Smartphone. Thanks to the proliferation of cameras in every phone the idea of scanning a barcode from your phone is becoming more and more common. There are now a number of companies and apps cleverly and creatively using barcodes to extend and simplify the process of accessing mobile content and interacting with physical media to trigger actions on your phone. It gives a new meaning to “point and click!” One of the the barcode formats growing in popularity is the QR Code (or “Quick Response” Code), the funny looking box above and below that you are starting to see cropping up in more and more places, from billboards in Times Square, to the backs of business cards.

The QR MyxerCode

A QR code can include an embedded link, and the software that your cameraphone uses to read the code can launch your browser and take you right to that link with a single click. It is EASY and Myxer likes EASY, so we have now added a unique QR Code for virtually every item, Artist and Content Partner on Myxer – over 5 million unique QR Codes! If you are downloading content from Myxer.com you can simply point your scanning ready phone’s camera at the QR Code on any item or artist page and get the link right to the mobile download on your phone. If you have a smartphone you may need to first download a Barcode Scanning app, and if so you can find a few suggested free ones here.

Cut And Paste, Point And Click

If you are an artist or brand with content on Myxer, you can easily “right click” on the code and save your Myxer QR Code as an image you can use on your own site, or even in printed materials to make it easy for your fans to point and click to get right to all your content on Myxer. Even better, not only does every item on Myxer now have a QR Code, but every item and artist also already has a customizable SMS keyword (Text “YourName” to 69937) so between the SMS code and the QR code, any phone can easily get to your content from anywhere you place the codes and SMS instructions. Cool!

Try it now and get a free laugh from the the “Can You Hear Me Now” ringtone by scanning the code below, and if you don’t have a scanning phone just Text “joelhaas 499″ to 69937 or click here.

(Disclosure: I work at Myxer as Vice President, Marketing & Business Development, Chief Evangelist)

Posted via email from Kiss My SASS!

Saturday, September 04, 2010

My Android App Alphabet Continues: A Is For Astro File Manager

A few weeks ago I started going through my "A Is For Android" look at the Apps I use regularly on my Sprint HTC EVO and focused on Advanced Task Killer.  As an update to that post, while I mentioned that some folks claim that you do not need a task manager, I have since tried a few days without ATK and found that, at least for me, my battery life and general performance of my EVO is noticeably better when I DO have Advanced Task Killer running. So there!

Still In The A's

This week I am still in the A's and want to recommend ASTRO FILE MANAGER by Metago, Inc.  Android does not come with a built-in file management system, and because of that having a third party file manger app is a must have and I have found Astro File Manager to be among the best.  Available in both a free (with ads) and a Pro Version ($3.99) with no ads from the Android Market, Astro File Manager is easy and intuitive for anyone who has used a computer and folder based file system.  In addition, Astro File Manager adds a very nice icon based horizontally scrolling tool bar that makes it very simple to take actions, change settings, sort, search, copy move, delete files, backup and manage apps, and even launch apps and playback media files.

ASTRO File Manager

It's All In The Cards

Memory and storage are critical components to the performance of a mobile device, and with all the media you can manage on an Android phone, having an ample capacity SD Card is key to seamlessly consuming gobs of music, video, apps and games, and taking seemingly unlimited photos and videos. Of course, if you have gigabytes to play with, you need an easy way to manage the bits filling those bytes and Astro File Manager clearly fits the bill.  As I go through my Android App Alphabet, Astro File Manager is one of my "A" apps that definitely gets an A!

How about you?  Do you use a third party file manager on your Android device?  If so, which one?  Please add your suggestions to the comments.

Posted via email from Kiss My SASS!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

iMedia Connection: Location ROI: The relevance of interruption

Location, location, location... 
William Shakespeare once said, "All the world's a stage, and we are merely players." That was then and this is now. Now all the world's a location waiting to be "checked in" at! Our modern lives are nothing more than a growing trail of digital breadcrumbs as we actively, and passively, broadcast our every move to friends and strangers alike. Despite the perceived perils of privacy (or the lack thereof), the liberation of our location is not necessarily the epitome of all evil. There can be benefits to location awareness, if we are just aware of them. 
You are here 
There is no question that we live in a mobile world. Numerous studies predict that there will soon be more mobile phones than there are people on the planet, and just as many studies state that in a matter of years more people will be accessing the internet from their mobile phones than from desktop and laptop PCs. Thanks to the proliferation of these mobile devices, and especially the growing popularity of high-end smart phones, complete with always-on connectivity and internal GPS functions, your very specific location can be made readily available if you so desire. To find someone today, you needn't hire a spy or P.I., or secretly stash a tracking chip in their pocket. More than likely you can find them through one of the many mobile apps, social networks, and location-based services that they have opted into that share their location from their mobile phone, actively or passively. 
Location changes everything 
For many of us, our mobile phone is the center of our daily universe. It is the focal point for our information, entertainment, and communications, and it has changed the way we look at advertising and commerce. As much as mobile changes everything, location changes mobile.
We have all heard that "content is king" but in an always-on, interactive, digital world, really it is "context" that is king. Context is especially important for advertisers and marketers who are reaching out to hyper-targeted consumers, leveraging the power of digital to narrowcast their offers and messaging to the audience they believe is most likely to respond. The person on a boat ride is not likely to be responsive to notice of an afternoon sale from a midtown retailer; however, the person across the street from the store is. If context is king, location creates context. 
Be relevant 
Location creates context and context creates relevance. In a mobile, location-aware world, everything should be relevant to your interests. The challenge for marketers is that most advertising is still an interruption. Worse, because the mobile phone is such a deeply personal device, and one we carry with us nearly 24/7, the potential of an ad being an interruption is amplified. The person relaxing on that boat does not want to be bothered by an ad on their phone for a sale occurring back on shore. For the person near the store, an ad about the afternoon sale is relevant, and thus to that person the ad is much less of an interruption. Hence, the Relevance of Interruption. Popular location services such as Foursquare and Gowalla are learning to leverage where someone "checks in" to deliver increasingly relevant offers. A check in at your office may present an offer for a discount at the Ben & Jerry's next door (which happened to me). If you believe that at some level all mobile ads are interruptions, the more relevant the ad is, the less of an interruption it will be. Successful mobile advertising can be gauged by this new ROI -- the relevance of interruption. And location can be a meaningful way to increase relevance and improve your standard ROI (return on investment). 
Content can be relevant too 
Location-created relevance is not limited to advertising. Mobile content can also be more relevant based on a person's location. We are just beginning to scratch the surface of what may be able to be done with "mobile aware" content that leverages a person's place as well as their interests. For example, my company has launched an Android app called GeoPix that lets you set different wallpaper images for an unlimited number of locations, based on your phone's GPS information. You can set a location zone of any size and then assign a unique wallpaper image to that zone. Then as you go about your daily routines, your phone's wallpaper image changes automatically as you enter one of your pre-set zones.  As another example, music video site Vevo has announced that its upcoming iPhone App will be location aware and will recommend local artists that might interest you based on your location. It is likely you will soon see many more examples of ways mobile content can be influenced by a person's location. Geo-based ringtones, music, and playlists are inevitable and will create more ways to make mobile a highly personal, highly relevant experience. 
In a mobile world, location creates context, relevance and opportunity.
What do you think? Should mobile marketers be considering location and the relevance of interruption? 
(This article is based on a presentation given at the 2010 SFIMA Summit. You can view the presentation slides here and the video here.)
Jeffrey W. Sass is VP of marketing and business development and chief evangelist at Myxer. 

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.
Thanks to iMedia Connection for publishing this article I wrote, based on a presentation I gave at the 2010 SFIMA Summit...
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Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Power Of Recommendations

Today I went to a birthday party for the seven year old daughter of a former business partner. As my own kids are of college age, I had no idea what to get as a gift for a seven year old girl. My first instinct was to just go to Toys R Us, but upon further reflection I realized that the last thing I wanted to do was to aimlessly wander the TRU aisles, reading the manufacturer's labels to try and determine what would be an appropriate gift for a seven year old girl. Instead I went to a small "mom and pop" educational toy store I had remembered seeing in the neighborhood.  The extremely helpful young salesperson recommended an artsy/craftsy friendship bracelet kit, that she insisted was one of their best sellers and VERY popular with the seven year old girl crowd.  While it may have been a little more expensive than the same item at Toys R Us, it was less than what I was willing to spend so without hesitation I said yes. "Would you like it gift wrapped?" Of course I would!

Service, And A Smile

I was in and out of the store in less than fifteen minutes with a beautifully wrapped gift, but the best part was yet to come.  At the birthday party, when the birthday girl opened her piles of gifts, many of which were likely far more expensive and trendy than the "Alex Toys Friends 4 Ever Bracelet Making Kit" (affiliate link) I had bought her, guess which gift she picked up, filled with excitement, and ran over to her dad exclaiming with joy, "Daddy, look what I got!  Look what I got!!!"  Yes, it was the gift I had brought.  She was thrilled by the gift I got her, but not as thrilled as I was to have clearly made the right choice.

The Lesson Learned

My little birthday shopping experience is really just a real-world example of why Social Media and our increasingly connected lifestyles are upending the old ways of marketing, merchandising and selling all types of products and services.  In a connected world, why would you buy anything without first getting a recommendation from someone with experience, or even better, a friend with experience.  The old adage states, "You get what you pay for!"  If you believe this to be true, then why wouldn't you pay more, in time and/or money, to get a trusted recommendation before buying just about anything.  It makes perfect sense, and will make you a smarter, better shopper.  In most cases, getting the lowest price is not nearly as important as making the right product choice.

Do you agree?  How important are recommendations to you?  Would you rather shop at a mass merchant or a smaller store with more personal assistance?

And by the way, if you know of any seven year old girls you want to impress, here is the Alex Toys Friends 4 Ever Bracelet Making Kit on Amazon.com (affiliate link) for a better price than what I paid...

Photo Credit: © Javierafael - Fotolia.com

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

You Can Pick Your Friends, You Can Pick Your Nose, And You Can Pick Your Friends' Panel for SXSW 2011

One of my favorite events of the year is SXSW (South By Southwest) held in Austin, Texas each March.  Thanks to my work at Myxer, when I go to SXSW I get to attend both the Interactive and the Music portions.  “South By” has always been a great way for Myxer to connect with the artists and bands that have been the backbone of the music part of our mobile content service.  In recent years the Interactive part of the show has exploded, adding even more value (and fun) to the annual Texas pilgrimage.  The content at SXSW for panels and presentations is selected through a voting process that then influences the organizers.  Last year I had the chance to speak at SXSW as part of Jeff Pulver's 140Conf SXSW. This year Myxer is represented by four possible presentations in the Panel Picker, two in Music and two in Interactive, two by myself and two by Myxer CEO Myk Willis.

If you are so inclined, please visit http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ and vote for one or all of the Myxer panels, especially if the topics are of interest to you. Below are brief descriptions of the four panels as well as links to some other blog posts with additional SXSW 2011 panel recommendations from some trusted friends.  Voting is open until Midnight on Friday, August 27th.  Thanks!


Here are some other blog posts with great Panel Picker suggestions:

David Berkowitz's Marketing Blog: http://www.marketersstudio.com/2010/08/help-some-friends-get-seen-and-heard-at-sxsw.html

Greg Verdino: http://gregverdino.typepad.com/greg_verdinos_blog/2010/08/pick-a-pack-of-powered-panels-time-to-vote-for-sxsw-sessions.html

Social Media Club Members: http://socialmediaclub.org/blogs/from-the-clubhouse/need-your-vote-sxsw-2011-panels-your-social-media-club-members

Becky McCray's Small Biz Survival: http://www.smallbizsurvival.com/2010/08/what-we-proposed-for-sxsw-topics.html

Rohit Bhargava's Influential Marketing Blog: http://www.rohitbhargava.com/2010/08/25-sxsw-panels-worth-getting-excited-about-and-voting-for.html

And Here Are Myxer's SXSW 2011 Panel Submissions:






Major brands are learning to leverage the power of branded mobile content as a way to extend their relationship with their customers beyond the campaign and into their pockets. Take a look at the impact of branded mobile content as a way to express brand affinity, extend and sustain awareness and start conversations. See examples of brands who effectively ring in awareness and attention with catchy and clever "Brandtones" and learn how you too can dial up great results through branded mobile content delivery.




Every year for the past 10 years has been dubbed “the year of mobile.” The truth is, just as our phones have become an integrated part of our daily lives (too much so in many cases) “mobile” should be an integrated part of every marketers’ strategy, and not set aside as something special. Learn the truth behind mobile myths and how to make mobile work with Social, Online, and all your interactive initiatives.






You may have heard industry pundits claim "the ringtone is dead" but what they are really talking about is the decline in on-deck sales of $2.99 master tones of hit songs. With several major labels, artists and music publishers cashing in on ringtones, and using them as promotional tools for integrated marketing campaigns, there is proof that in fact the ringtone business is thriving. As more and more mobile phone owners embrace and consume a wide range of entertainment and personalization content, you need to seize the opportunity to get in front of them. Learn how artists from unknowns to Snoop Dogg make mobile work for them and use the 'staying' power of ringtones to keep their fans engaged, entertained, and coming back for more.




There will soon be more people accessing the Internet from their Mobile Phones than their PC’s. With the mobile web dominating the attention of your fans, why limit their access to you and your music to platform specific apps. Learn how you can use the Mobile Web to reach ALL your fans and go from their pockets to their pocketbooks.

Whether you vote for our panels or not I hope you have the chance to attend SXSW 2011!  See you there!


Posted via email from Kiss My SASS!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Man Inside (Intel)

Here's the scoop:  As you may know, for the past few years I have been active as a so-called "Daddy Blogger,' sharing my dad point of view and stories at Dadomatic.com and in the weekly Cast of Dads podcast.  With three awesome kids now ages 22, 20 and 18, I have no shortage of experiences and opinions on just about every parenting angle imaginable, so don't expect me to shut up anytime soon.  On top of that, I am very lucky to often be handed new and interesting things to write about, and in this case I am looking forward to being able to share some insights on exciting new technologies, and how they will impact our family lives as an official "Intel Insider" advisor.

Inside Intel Insiders

Now in its third year, the Intel Insiders program originally sought to connect with early adopters and influencers to help Intel stay in touch and connected with technology enthusiasts.  According to Intel's Ken Kaplan, "...this year we will be working with influencers actively engaging in lifestyle and parenting conversations online. We are hoping this helps us connect with people who are finding that technology is becoming more important in their lives."  I am honored and excited to be one of this year's Intel Insiders along with this impressive group of bloggers:

In June I had the pleasure of visiting Intel's Portland Campus and today I will be attending an Intel Insiders Summit in NY.  I look forward to sharing more Intel insights with you soon.  Stay tuned...

In accordance to the FTC Guidelines and WOMMA Code of Ethics, I am disclosing that Intel Corporation has covered my travel, accommodations and expenses incurred for the Intel Insider Year III Summit.