Monthly Archives: August 2005

Slidell Hurricane Damage Blog

Brian Oberkirch, the CEO of Weblogs Work, is from a small town just outside of New Orleans called Slidell.  Both he and his wife were raised in the area, have parents living there, and have friends and relatives devastated by the hurricane.  Everytime Brian and I would talk he was telling about the lack of news from the area.  He had little tidbits, but no one had the full story.

I suggested that he start a blog where he could share his feelings and information about Katarina and its wrath (this seemed obvious since he runs a blog consultancy).  Anyway, he had one of the techs set it up and within an hour he was posting.  Shortly thereafter a reporter from CNN IM’d him asking for information, next Brian’s high school buddies were calling him after they read the blog and all sorts of people who had little bits of information were contacting him.

Interestingly Brian posted the blog so that he could share the little information he had, and as a result a much larger dialogue was created.  You can visit the Slidell blog here:  slidell.weblogswork.com.  On a more somber note, I am shocked by how bad it really is – we are still working on ideas to help out.  I think Brian will be headed back very soon.

Web2.0 Business Plan Generator

It took me a minute to figure out that Nathan was going for after I found his ‘Gateway to Web2.0 Riches’ at odio.us.  Basically the site is a Web 2.0 Elevator Pitch Generator.  For all my buddies who have no idea what I am talking about, but want in on the Web 2.0 action – just visit the site and claim your pitch.  Nathan writes,

For maximum irony, I implemented it with Ajax using the Prototype odio.us/plan/bingo.cgi?l=n Javascript library, a RESTian web service (to get a plan with n adjectives), and released it as open source.

I highly recommend the tool.  I think it would be fun for to try it for one of the WebWorks projects – anything would be better than Gahbunga (just kidding).  Oh and interested in my automatically generated Web2.0 pitch?

"Mobile Web 2.0 p2p targeted advertising cellphone app that leverages existing metadata."

[found via Robhyndman.com

The Launch of Gahbunga (beta) ‘Hot or Not’ for your Camera Phone!

gaphubjpgscrnshot.jpgI can’t recall how we came to the decision to build Gahbunga, but I am happy to report that we are launching it in early beta this month.  If you visit the site you will be able to create an account, add friends and start using the service.  What is Gahbunga you ask? 

Gahbunga is ‘hot or not’ for your camera phone.  Here is how it works:  take a picture of your date or potential date with your camera phone and forward it to Gahbunga.  Gahbunga will send the picture to your friends, asking them to ‘rate’ your date on a 1-10 scale.  They will receive an SMS message asking them to check their email (most U.S. phones do not allow SMS attachments).  Within 30 minutes you will have an average score from your friends.  If you select the community rating option you will also receive an average score from all Gahbunga users who responded. 

Currently Gahbunga is written with basic LAMP technologies, incorporates SMS and postfix.  We plan to add certain functionality with AJAX shortly.  If you have an idea for an additional feature please leave a comment on the site.

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Why blogs work better than websites…

I was trying to explain to my father why it would make sense to move from his standard website to a blog style site.  I ran across this old diagram from Ricksweb and I thought I would reblog it here:

      howblogswork.jpg 

The FCC to the rescue! Safer VoIP

stupid.jpgIn our offices we use VoIP from a local provider.  We have been using it since 2002 and have enjoyed the service and the flexibility of the technology.  In fact, we ship Cisco IP phones to Manila for our workers there and they work perfectly.  Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I received an email from our provider indicating that we needed to agree to an acknowledgment that 911 might not work too well.  Given that some of our users don’t even live in the United States we were well aware of the problems associated with 911 and our VoIP phones. 

The interesting part of the story is the fact that the FCC required VoIP providers who had not received acknowledgments to disconnect service to these users by Tuesday of next week.  So, the solution that the FCC came up with for spotty 911 service was to simply turn it off?  That is certain one way to reduce the number of calls to 911.  But does it really solve the problem?  I can think of several solutions besides shutting users down.

I just want to thank the FCC for making VoIP safer for our company.  Update:  The FCC extended the deadline to September 28th today!

LogoWorks 2.0 – Jeff Kearl gives us a peek!

In a previous post I indicated that I was happy with some of the logos received from LogoWorks and less than thrilled with others.  I made a few suggestions to Jeff only to learn that Jeff and his team were WAY ahead of me.  Jeff gave us a peak of some of the up and coming features of LogoWorks

"We will actually publish the profiles (education, work experience, former clients, favorite book/movie, etc.) of the designers as well as their personal portfolios. Customers will be able to choose which designers they want on their team based on how that designers design style appeals to them.

For now, we are calling the service BrandTeam. The metaphore is that you’re the coach and you get to draft your individual team members for your brand creation. Prices will be higher, but we will be including a number of elements that add more value to the service around brand strategy and execution. We actually have the site programmed and the first 40 designers in the system. It is a flash based site and very cool (from my humble, biased perspective).

Give us a few months to finish building the supporting infrastructure and we’ll get it launched."

I am excited to see what Jeff has put together.  I do wish they had selected Rails or AJAX for the interface – but you can’t have everything.   I hope they are redoing their logo too!  Thanks Jeff for the inside baseball information, keep it coming…

Christine Ekman from Evolve Adapt Survive 3Qs

christine.jpgChristine Ekman is the president of Evolve Adapt Survive.  I had the pleasure of meeting her first in 2001 when I was running LayerOne and more recently this month while she was in town working with a client based here in Dallas.   

Q:  What is the elevator pitch for your company, Evolve Adapt Survive?

A:  I usually describe what I do by describing my company name.

Evolve: I work with companies that are just starting out, helping to define their strategy, define their target customer and to raise capital if that’s required.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard, "Everyone needs this product" and "We have no competition". Startups need to be focused on a specific target market and understand all the factors that may prevent a potential customer from buying their product (  i.e. competition), it’s a key to success both in sales and raising capital.

Adapt: I also work with mature companies, both private and public, helping them to revive existing products or use their expertise to create products/services to address emerging markets. Repurposing existing intellectual property so to speak.

Survive: This work involves companies that are beyond continuing, for a multitude of reasons, and need to sell their assets.

Q:  How long have you been in business?  Who was your first client. 
 
A:  The original name of the  company was N@tural Selection, founded in April of 1999.  A legal notice arrived in 2002 telling me that another company had trademarked the Natural Selection name in 1996.  I was shocked, I thought it was public domain, Darwin et. al.  It happened right at the bottom of the market in 2002.  I thought about putting up a fight, but the tag line for the company was "Evolve  Adapt  Survive" and people always liked that line.   Besides, the @ was a pain in the neck because it triggers a URL name and it was time to practice what I was preaching, I needed to evolve and just change the name.  Plus, the patent attorney said I would lose anyway and it’s a lot cheaper to listen to your attorney the first time he tells you, "Give it up".

My first client was IPIVOT.  A friend from U S WEST was the CEO and they had been an OEM partner with Nortel Networks. I took a combination of monthly fee and equity for doing business development work.  They ended up being bought by Intel for $500 M.  It was the most fun, exciting and profitable experience I had ever been involved with, and it still ranks very high on the scale. 
 

Q:  What was your most interesting client/project?  What would you do differently if you had a chance? 

A:  Believe it or not, I find each client interesting and I learn from every engagement.  Consulting by its nature is problem solving. If there wasn’t a problem, clients wouldn’t need a consultant.  My clients have been great (even the odd ones are a learning experience) and each idea has, in one way or another, had merit.  If I had it to do over again I would have left the corporate world sooner, consulting suits me best.  

Note:  Alex wanted a "headshot" to go with this blog piece, I don’t have a headshot, but I attached a picture of me taking a picture. That’s what I think the role of a consultant should be, behind the scenes, observing what is taking place and trying to capture the clients best side. – Christine Ekman

Web 1.0 Worked For Me (first installment)

I decided to start a little series of posts I am going to call "Web 1.0 Worked For Me".  The first installment is about my first third-party shopping experience on the web.  Back in 1999 I was knee deep in fund-raising for LayerOne and travelled to my parents home near Walnut Creek (just outside of San Francisco) often.  Prior to one such visit I was SPAMMED by a watch website.  I think it was watch.com or something.  Basically it would allow you browse through a selection of watches and when you found one you liked you could put it on a wishlist.  The site would then email your family and friends with your wishlist (I put my Dad’s email on it).  I selected the Rolex GMT – Master and forwarded it along as a joke.  I never really heard anymore about it, my Dad never mentioned that he got the email and I am sure I forgot that I sent it. 

rolex.JPGrolexback.JPGWhen I arrived at my parents home my Mom told me to look on my bed for a surprise.  I was shocked to see a Rolex box with this Rolex (see pic)!  Evidently my Dad showed my email to my Mom and she said, "we should get it for him."  So the moral of the story?  First, if you never ask for something you will likely never get it. Second, you should ask for exactly what you want (if you want the Rolex don’t ask for the Fossil).  And third, new things on the web are far more powerful than old stuff.  My Dad’s SPAM filter would have caught the Watch email and he would have never seen it.  So the Web 1.0 worked for me (I still wear the watch daily – Mom had the back engraved: Alexander Muse 1999 Love Mom & Dad.  Thanks Mom!  I love you too! (now if my Mom only read blogs)

LogoWorks – Full Refund!!!

I got an email from Debbie from LogoWorks today.  She sent me notice that my credit card was refunded the full amount for both Architel logo projects.  Thanks LogoWorks (we will keep you using you for a our WebWorks projects).

egor.gifThought, can you somehow give certain designers a unique ID on your system and show those to us?  Perhaps let us rate each ID?  You guys did some great work for me on my Egor project – the designers were great.  Add trust and transparency to the design process.  If I knew that I could get the guy who did our Egor logo to do another one I would pay more for the next logo than I will if I am just taking a risk with a group of unknown designers.  So maybe two pricing models, one is your current system and the second allows you to invite certain designers to engage for a higher fee.  What do you think Jeff?

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