Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Greatest Thing Since CompuServe - The PDF Standard

I've been meeting to post this one for a few days. The San Jose Mercury News reported this week that Adobe Systems announced that they are offering PDF (Portable Document File) as a standard. Some may say "this is the greatest thing since sliced bread," but its actually the greatest thing since CompuServe released GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) in 1987. Does this mean that I can convert to PDF for free? How about editing PDFs? For better or worse, the outcome will be very interesting.

BREAKING NEWS: San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is a PLAYA!

Okay. So it's not really breaking news. Everyone knows that Mayor Gavin Newsom is a PLAYA!

KTVU reported San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's campaign manager Alex Tourk resigned today after he confronted the mayor about an affair Newsom had with Alex's wife Ruby Rippey-Tourk. Ruby told her husband about the affair while she was going through rehabilitation for substance abuse. The affair took place about two years ago when Ruby was Newsom's Director of Administration and Commissions. The Tourks had a baby together that same year.

Fast forward to last year: When the
Westfield San Francisco Centre opened in late September 2006, Mayor Newsom was spotted giving booze to girlfriend 20-year old Brittanie Mountz, who is said to be a hostess at Aqua, located at California and Battery in the Financial District. In October 2006, the two were spotted at the SF Symphony.

Now this should make for an interesting election year. He's screwing more than girls. He screwed the 49ers and chased them to the South Bay. Don't vote for Gavin Threesom...ugh...I mean Newsom.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Quit Messing with My Time

Today's top rated story in Network World is about daylight savings time being moved up 3 weeks.

Thanks to the "U.S. Energy Policy Act of 2005, Daylight Savings Time has been moved up from the second Sunday in April to the second Sunday in March. Likewise, Daylight Savings Time will be extended a week from the last Sunday in October to the second Sunday in November."

I personally hate Daylight Savings Time. What a waste of time to change it twice a year. Why don't we just leave it alone year round? Whose bright idea was to change it again? Now we have companies scrambling like it's Y2K.

I have enough trouble getting my time zones straight when I'm booking a media tour and I definitely hate waking up in darkness and leaving work in darkness. Makes like a little depressing and leads me to drink...well I guess there is a postive after all.

Publications Taking Blows On and Offline

BullDog Reporter on Friday noted a study by Challenger, Gray & Christmas that saw an 88 % surge in media job cuts this year. In 2005, 9,453 jobs were cut and in 2006, more than 17,809 eliminations were announced. The study also revealed that more than 2,000 jobs cuts were already announced during the first 15 days of 2007 and predicts many more jobs to be eliminated this year. This is almost as scary as the murder rate in Richmond and Oakland.

During the last few years, you've seen reporters coming into public relations, joining sales departments and major shifts at analysts firms. Most recently, we saw long time technology editor of eWeek, Peter Coffee land with We also saw go down for the count and Intelligent Enterprise move to a online only site. Most notably, we saw media giants including Time Inc. and New York Times announcing recent shrinkage.

While publications are struggling to find revenue streams from online content that has stolen the audience from getting their "fingers dirty," PR somehow is enjoying a period of steady growth. However, it will be interesting how this one plays out. Clearly, charging for archives isn't the answer and neither is ad relevancy.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

One Good Idea: HD Internet

After last week's Churchill Club event, I wrote about my idea for HD Internet. Apparently, I wasn't the only one. Mark Cuban wrote how consumers want to be able to use their televisions as computers. Although you can already do this, I'm looking for the next generation, not just the capability. Although, just a consumerized interface for the capability would be nice.

But imagine if you could go to, pick out your favorite team's highlights and then watch it on your TV in HD, instead of a pixelated version when you want to watch it full screen on your monitor. Imagine if you could go to MTV Overdrive and watch a rerun of The Duel or your favorite new music video in HD. What about playing PC games on your TV and plugging a controller into the USB port of your HD flat screen instead of camping outside for the first release of Playstation 3, which you already know has bugs. Or imagine having NBA League Pass and being able to watch it on your couch instead of sitting at your desk or watching it on your laptop. I'd settler for getting rid of...buffering.

Can I claim copyright on this idea? Maybe I should follow in the steps of the Churchill Club panelists and hire some Stanford engineers to develop a prototype.

Chris Shipley Launches Guidewire Report

This week, Chris Shipley and her team at the Guidewire Group launched the Guidewire Report. The first/sample report discussed the current state of Web 2.0 and profiles about a dozen up and coming companies. It's an interesting read.

I admire Chris Shipley a lot and have gotten to know her having staffed several clients briefings. In fact, she was kind enough to come speak to my colleagues and I just before Christmas. Someday, I will not only be attending DEMO, I'll keep my fingers crossed to become a DEMOGod. Until I think of that one great idea, I'll stick with my day job.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Illegal Use of the Hands

From the Bondage File of the San Francisco Chronicle, the AP reported a Center for Disease Control and Prevention advisor was caught for public indecency at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. I can already hear Jay Leno or David Letterman having their fun with this story.

The Clear Card Challenge - Biometrics for Speed?

Mineta San Jose International Airport became the first airport on the West Coast to give flight passengers a speed card to bypass long security checks in airports. For about $100, you can pay for a clear card that holds information like your fingerprints and other information that will get you into the speed lane.

However, until advanced technology that doesn't force passengers to take off their shoes and belts become available, you may not be saving too much time. For now, applying for one will be like spending a day at the immigration office...except by the Transportation Security Administration. Hopefully by the time it gets up a little bit closer to home (Oakland and San Francisco), the technology will be up to date, even powerful enough to scan laptops inside a bag or process applications faster.

Eye Poke to Escape Fatal Shark Bite

A former colleague and friend recently told me that she is going to Austrailia. I hope she avoids the water after reading this. After being swallowed by a shark head first, somehow he managed to escape after poking the eye of the shark. I don't think I would react fast enough.

Monday, January 22, 2007


I keep seeing this commercial on slomming (Sticking Leaches On Myself). I think it's a pretty interesting way of pushing for a "drug-free America." Slomming is not real but it proves a point that teenagers will succumb to peer pressure. Or maybe it just leads to kids actually trying this? Anyone have any leaches?

DEMO Gods, Angels and Demons?

Tonight at the Churchill Club event at the Hyatt in San Francisco, DEMO executive producer Chris Shipley led a session on taking an idea from conception to launch. She was joined by Brett Kilpatrick (Panoratio), Steve Larsen (Krugle), Srivats Sampath (Mercora) and Munjal Shah (Riya).

Riya recently launched I already love this site, and I don't even like shopping.

Here are some tips that I picked up:
  • Hire good people
  • Start with good engineers
  • Use beta releases as your market researcher (Unless you are an enterprise - Ugh thanks Brett)
  • Add at least a few great salespersons
But here's a few tips from a PR perspective:
  • Develop a solid consistent message
  • Consult independent reviewers prior to a public release
  • Hire a good PR firm to keep the momentum going after a launch
I've always wondered what idea I could come up with. Here's a few I jotted down on my way home...another long BART ride.
  • High definition Internet
  • Comprehensive news search
  • UTD media and analyst contact database
  • Excel that links to a database that is updated in real-time (yes, I used real-time)
  • Video camera via a Web browser
One day, maybe one of these ideas will payoff.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Time Inc Lay Offs

New York Times reported that Time Inc. let go 289 employees and also asked for voluntary resignations. This effected Time, People and Sports Illustrated. Will new online content really be the answer for hardcopy publications to generate new readers? Personally, I still like to get my thumbs dirty and read the hardcopy. I'm one of few new school people in public relations that still like some of the old school way of doing things.

Content like ESPN Insider doesn't really encourage me to go its site because I wouldn't I pay for rumormill stories. I could just wait a few hours for anything that is inevitable and also read blogs that report what was said on ESPN. Isn't that why we have blogs?

Online content should focus on video clips, reader reactions and indepth analysis that compliments the news in the print edition, not just online version of the print story. But I'm glad I don't have to pay when I'm researching reporters I plan on pitching. Ultimately, I don't know how newspapers will survive but while I'm riding BART, I'm glad I can read the paper.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Water Intoxication?

As you may have read last year, a Chico State student drank huge amounts of water in a fraternity hazing incident and died. Recently Sacramento radio station, KDND-FM held a contest on the Morning Rave that invited 20 contestants to drink water and without visiting the restroom. Tragically, another person had to die.

Free 411

I heard a commercial this morning for You can call 1800-Free-411 and get phone numbers for free. It takes a minute to get by the disclaimer and the advertisement but like the ad says, it's much better than paying 79 cents to my cell phone carrier...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Socially Immature Press Release

I became aware of the Social Media Press Release or Press Release 2.0 when SHIFT Communication’s Todd Defren created a template and I began following the movement. However, I have to admit I have been skeptical of the impact.

But this week I attended Third Thursday in San Francisco and while I haven’t changed my mind wholeheartedly, I do see current and potential benefits.

However, it’s more about leveraging components of SMPR rather than following a template or formatting a release differently. With a press release and Yahoo! And Google news searches, you can direct consumers to your release but with the addition of video, graphics and other SMPR features, you can keep the interest of your consumer and make the sale by directing a reader to your e-commerce site. RSS extends that capability and will lead your reader back to your site. You can also leverage track backs to determine where certain leads come from. For consumer products, it would be nice venue for the release of a iPhone, for example but for enterprises vendors, I don’t really see it leading to anything significant at this time. I’m open to being convinced otherwise.

For journalists, I find the SMPR insulting. I realize there are journalists who are “slackers” and do the “copy and paste” job, which provides no analysis but those aren’t the journalists you want to target. They may find the SMPR template release even easier to use but I’ll have to agree with Tom Foremski that real journalists will still want to take the time to speak with your executives to get additional insight and a unique perspective. But for bloggers who don’t take a neutral and objective perspective, they will do what they want.

Web 2.0 encourages a free flowing conversation. SMPRs help extend a conversation by providing more information or more organized information to different audiences but SMPRs are still merely consumerized press releases. Even if you encourage comments, any negative comments are moderated and a real view of feedback is not provided. However, what’s to stop a competitor or someone with a grudge to post a biased opinion. So isn’t a moderated feedback system the best method? I don’t know the answer to that.

I also agree with Stowe Boyd that SMPRs doesn’t make a press release more honest. Traditional and social media press releases both incorporate marketing jargon and quotes from executives that the PR/marketing leg of the company approves, most of the time without the executive ever seeing the release. On the other hand, companies have key messages and as long as it falls in line, why would an executive have a problem? Nobody ever complains that the president is reading a written speech? As the president relies on his trusted advisors, for better or worse, isn’t a company in the same situation?

There was also a guy from BusinessWire there pumping in how the newswire helps those pushing SMPRs (a sales pitch – how’d he get on the panel?). But a link in the “old school” release that directs readers back to the site for the SMPR version should suffice.

I agree with the panelists [Tom Foremski (of Silicon Valley Watcher), Brian Solis (of FutureWorks PR and PR 2.0), Shel Holtz (of Crayon and A Shel of My Former Self) and Chris Heuer (of Social Media Club and Idea Engine) that only time will tell how this will look at the other end of the tunnel. But for now, the debate continues.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Who's the Biggest Loser? Troy Murphy or Mike Dunleavy?

The Golden State Warriors took another step in the positive direction. They got rid of two very inconsistent players, dumped some salary($25 million and a few years) and got the free agent they most coveted during the offseason - Read it here. Forwards Mike Dunleavy, Troy Murphy, Ike Diogu and guard Keith McLeod were passed on to the Indiana Pacers for Al Harrington, guard/forward Stephen Jackson, guard Sarunas Jasikevicius and forward Josh Powell. Overall, the Warriors become more athletic, have another big man on the roster who can score and a couple guards who can be decent role players. We also may get slightly better free throw shooting. But the real benefit is the magical ability to dump Dunleavy who should be embarassed to be called a #3 pick and Murphy who is an overpaid jackass. Plus I hate Notre Dame. Fight on! I bet Dunleavy senior is happy he didn't have to take his son either.

iDon'tCare about the iPhone

When the Apple iPhone was announced by Steve Jobs at MacWorld in San Francisco recently, I heard about it in my office, the elevator, on BART and in just about every newspaper. If it wasn't getting enough publicity, Cisco pushed it over the edge by slapping a lawsuit on Apple for the name. This is hilarious.

I like my all-in-ones but honestly how many times have you really ever seen an all-in-one that works just as great with just as much capacity as a single product? Today Tech Chronicles posted videos with spoofs of the iPhone that I thought were pretty funny. Check it out.

CRV - California RipOff Value

I listen to the radio on my way into work and lately I've been hearing about the new California Refund Value. I think the old refund is 5 cents for two cans. Now - 5¢ for beverage containers under 24 oz. and 10¢ for containers 24 oz. and greater. So now this would be great if everytime I checked out they didn't charge me for it. But wait, until the end of June, we'll only be charged last years rate. The reason? "The Department of Conservation is authorized to increase CRV paid to consumers for beverage containers recycled to encourage greater public participation in recycling." I have to call bullshit on this one. I think it's more like blackmail? Someone once told me that politicians are legal crooks. I believe it.

Google Password Strength? Sucks!

I'm a big Internet security nut. I love pitching security clients and digging up new trends on botnets, IRC chat rooms, keylogging, spam, phishing, Man in the Middle attacks and hearing about how teenagers are hacking into our nation's biggest companies. I often wondered about why threats keep growing more severe. Are hackers ahead of the game or are security vendors lagging? That is the question that often comes up.

I think I know why. When I was signing up for this blog, I also needed a Google account. But as I typed in my desired password, the strength of my password was revealed. As I mixed in letters, caps and numbers into my password, I got the desired "strong" password rating.

Don't worry. It gets better. The security question in case you forget your password is a choice of library card number, frequent flyer account number, first phone number or first teacher’s name. I honestly don't remember any of those...

If this is suppose to make me confident in using Gmail or Blogger? No wonder hackers are laughing as they collect money using free online phishing kits.

Natali Del Conte's Secret New Project

I don't know what Natali's new gig is, but I'm dying to find out. I worked with her when she was in public relations and we're both Trojans. Fight On! I pitched her when she was with the SF Examiner and exchanged a few emails when she was at PC Magazine. But I haven't spoken to her recently. If you've been following the news, you saw Mike Arrington revealed last month on CrunchNotes that Natali left TechCrunch after three weeks. This was followed by a blog in the SF Chronicle that got Natali's side of the story. AppScout says she's working on a "top-secret tech-internet-video-blogging project." I'll probably end up finding out what her new gig is through some blog but maybe she will pick up her cell and reveal the big secret...

Who Hates Blogs? I Do

For more than a year, I've been exposed to the blogging world. I've always thought of it as an unedited, uncensored and public way for people to share thoughts both for good and evil. I hated the way it has become so commercial and part of the reason I have stayed away from social sites like MySpace and Friendster. Does anyone still use Friendster?

But sites like YouTube have given me hope that people will do anything to be famous or get rich.

I'm not trying to get famous and I hear there's no money in blogging but I'm hoping to be discovered by Mark Cuban, Donald Trump or Billy Beane. If I ever come up with a bright idea and start my own business, the way these guys operate will help me define how my company is run.

The challenge: One Good Idea

The good thing about blogs is the feedback and I'm hoping that will lead me to One Good Idea.