counter on godaddy
post

Southern Comfort Goes All Digital – Hopefully Smarter, Too…

Southern Comfort dumps old media, and pours (pun intended) their entire $8 million media budget on the Net.  Let’s hope they’ll spend it smarter then they did on this ad four years ago.

What’s wrong with this banner?  Nothing – unless you place it in context. It appeared just days after Hurricane Katrina almost wiped out New Orleans… which gives the words “where anything can happen” a special meaning.  And if you think it was just an innocent mistake, read the details here.

Related posts:

post

Credit Crunch Has Reached Bloggers

The Credit Crunch has reached the Blogosphere: it is now a WordPress Theme by Ericulous, developer of the lightweight theme I use here.

I have not found a "Recession" WordPress theme (yet), but there is one called Depression.smile_omg

post

Wow. I’m on The Industry Standard’s Top 25 B-to-Z List …

I am a life-long  Z-lister, no doubts about it.  But today I found myself on a much different Z-list: The Industry Standard’s Top 25 B-to-Z List Blogs:

These are the blogs you won’t see on the Techmeme Leaderboard, Technorati’s Top 100 blogs, or the CruchBase BloggerBoard … at least not yet. They include VCs, entrepreneurs, coders, experts, and observers, and they bring a delicious mix of insight, experience, and passion to their blogs. While they may not have the right amount of link love, they need to be on your radar screens.

I’m really-really humbled.  Last time I felt like this was when the Economist’s Business Intelligence Unit included me in their Thought Leadership list. Frankly, I had no idea what I was doing in such esteemed company, and I feel the same way now.

Writing “good” blog content is a tricky task.  My favorite posts, which I consider more thoughtful, analytical often get quoted, but generally don’t attract a lot of readers.  Then I have some of the quickies, like the Gmail import guide which become all time hits – at least in terms of traffic.  I also have ‘accidental’ traffic, like two days ago the tragic earthquake in China sent me over 10k readers – unfortunately, as they really did not find what they came for.  (more on this later).

Anyway, the part I really enjoy are the longer analytical pieces – which I don’t often have the time to afford.  But back to The Industry Standard list: thanks, guys, again, I am very-very humbled, and appreciate it.  And as a bonus, I am especially pleased to be featured together with fellow Enterprise Irregular Vinnie Mirchandani.

Wow, again… all I can say, I’ll try to keep up with the The Standard. smile_regular

post

You Know You Blog Too Much When…

…when whatever you’re discussing the first thought that comes to your mind is “I’ve already blogged about this” and want to quote yourself – in an offline, verbal discussion.

post

Resumes Are Dead. Your Blog is Your Resume. (Still).

I haven’t updated my resume for at least 3-4 years now. (There must be some old versions floating around, as just a few days ago a recruiter solicited me for a SAP Implementation Project – she must be especially dumb, not noticing the decade-old timestamp on my SAP qualifications.) But back to resumes: I don’t need one, and neither do you.

Even in the “old days” of writing resumes any recruiter would confirm that the single best way of landing a job was through your personal network. Top Executives, genius engineers, star salesmen, well-published academics don’t ever need to look for a job: they get invited. It’s always better than knocking on the door. Or many doors.

But now Seth Godin sets the same rules even for applicants to his internship:

Having a resume begs for you to go into that big machine that looks for relevant keywords, and begs for you to get a job as a cog in a giant machine. Just more fodder for the corporate behemoth. That might be fine for average folks looking for an average job, but is that what you deserve?

If you don’t have a resume, what do you have?

How about three extraordinary letters of recommendation from people the employer knows or respects?
Or a sophisticated project they can see or touch?
Or a reputation that precedes you?
Or a blog that is so compelling and insightful that they have no choice but to follow up?

We’ve looked at the two extremes: the top 5% whose personal reputation and network carries them on, and those who can’t really have a meaningful resume, since – unlike Ben – they are barely starting their careers. But in between is the rest of us, average Johns ad Janes, who probably have some achievements, are remarkable in one way or another … if only the world knew about it! Well, that’s the point! Most of us don’t have an extensive enough personal network, or they may be geographically dispersed, or they may not be in the right position… so how to get the word out?

Blogging changes it all. If you’ve been blogging for years, you certainly did not do it with a particular job in mind; your blog is likely to be a true reflection of who you really are, what you are an expert in, your communication skills, your priorities … YOU as a whole person, not as a candidate for a specific job – the brand called You. That’s certainly better than a resume, which is likely tailored for a particular job, and let’s face it, often “cosmetically enhanced” – no wonder it ends in the waste-basket.

You don’t have a blog? Why? Don’t you know the best time to market yourself is when you don’t need it?

Tom Peters has been saying for years:

Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You

My friend and fellow Enterprise Irregular Roth Boothby argues:

“…hiring a blogger is a lower risk proposition because you have more information and a better idea of how they are going to perform.”

He should know – he got hired twice, based on his blog. By the way, I really envy Rod’s charting skills:smile_eyeroll

It’s never been easier to build that Brand Called You: if you’re still not doing it, what are you waiting for? Start your blog today!

(hat tip: BL Ochman)

post

My Move from Blogware to WordPress

It’s been over two months now, so I figure it’s now or never that I chronicle my migration from Blogware to WordPress.

After getting my feet wet in Google’s Blogger over two years ago, I read a post by Des Walsh on why Blogharbor was a great service for a non-techie blogger, which inspired me to do some research, and to switch to Blogharbor. Blogware (by Tucows, marketed through resellers, of which Blogharbor is likely the best) was cutting edge at the time: the ability to drag-and-drop custom components into columns, header, footer gave it flexibility long before WordPress started supporting widgets.

After a year or so I got bored of my layout and was looking for a new template. I wanted a more minimalist one, with flexible width and was surprised to find there were only rigid columnar designs.

Lesson #1: It pays to go with the market leader, especially if it’s open source. WordPress has a thriving ecosystem, with countless themes, widgets, plugins, while Blogware has none. Zero. Only those provided by Tucows, where time seems to have stopped.

Tucows seemed to have abandoned Blogware: no new features, and even bug fixes became rather sporadic. We were struggling with a rather manual spam-filtering process, and system availability has become worse and worse.

We had been using Blogware of Tucows till now, but it has been very limiting in terms of functionality. Besides, Blogware has been experiencing several bugs making it impossible to continue with that service. – says VC Circle.

When your resellers are leaving your platform that should be your first clue that you aren’t getting it right. Over the years I’ve dealt with all kinds of silliness from Blogware… However I hate using any type of support services. They normally are an exercise in aggravation and you have to play the back and forth game… You never know what may or may not work with Blogware on any given day… Blogware service could become a major player with some effort. To me it seems as if no one at the company wants to make that effort…The company doesn’t seem to want to support the product. So why not just give up and call it a failure? – says a clearly very aggravated customer who’d still rather not move.

Soon I saw some “big names” leave Blogware and find their new home at WordPress: Chris Pirillo, Tris Hussey, just to name two. And what does it say of Blogware when their former sales manager switches to WordPress?

But as tempted as I was, I was still not ready to jump ship, for one huge reason: the absolutely extraordinary, personalized support I received from Blogharbor. Owner John Keegan always went out of his way and provided support way beyond what could be expected, often not even related to Blogware. I simply wasn’t ready to give up such support and find myself “out in the wild”, especially not after reading about the migration difficulties Chris, Tris and others experienced. So I sat tight…or should I say I kept procrastinating?

Finally, the solution came from the very same support I did not want to leave behind: Blogharbor’s owner decided to venture in the WordPress hosting business, and opened up Pressharbor to a few test customers. The decision was a no-brainer. smile_wink.

Now, since I’ve talked so much about why I left WordPress, I’m sure you expect a description of the actual migration process. I’m afraid I’ll disappoint: the migration was a non-event. I made the call, and two days later my blog was up an running on WordPress. Old posts, comments, trackbacks, pictures – Pressharbor took care of it. My main concern was not to lose links, trackbacks to old posts: while Blogware had their own cryptic permalink structure, on WordPress I am using the SEO-friendly title-based permalink formula. Pressharbor set up 301 redirects for every single of my old posts, and in a few days I saw Google reindex all and point to the new permalinks.

Of course there were glitches, but again, Pressharbor dealt with them, and the few remaining issues are not bad enough to keep me at Blogware’s dying service. A few of these issues:

  • Comment author names do not come through, so old comments all look like written by “Anonymous”. I did not make a big deal out of this: on a one by one basis when I link back to an older post, I’ll fix the comments belonging to those. (Unlike Blogware, WordPress allows me to edit comments, and I’ve kept an offline reference copy of the old blog)
  • Probably due to time zone settings, a few of my old posts that were timestamped close to midnight had discrepancies in the new permalink, and this caused the 301 redirect to not find the converted post. Pressharbor fixed all these.
  • Duplicate message body. This was a weird one, and took a while to find the reason. If the original Blogware post contained an excerpt, WordPress appended the excerpt to the message body, causing redundancy.

There may have been other glitches, but generally there were few, and with the exception of the “anonymous” comments, Pressharbor fixed all of them.

One lasting, unpleasant side-effect of the migration was losing my Technorati authority. It was close to 600 prior to the migration, and immediately after it went into a free-fall. Several bloggers think Techno Ratty does not follow 301 redirects well, and there is no authoritative answer, since they don’t bother responding on their user forum. Not that it matters a lot: Technorati is slowly but surely falling apart and becoming irrelevant anyway. (Update: while I’m writing this, today my authority started dropping again, to the tune of 40 points in a matter of a few hours).

Last, but not least, first impressions of a WordPress user. Whoa… this is liberating… confusing .. scary. Blogharbor converts, coming from a very limited but full-service world will find the whole concept of plesk, site management, FTP … etc overwhelming – I know I did. But choice is great. Being the picky guy I am, I did not like the dozen or so default themes, and finally settled on Genkitheme, a three-column, fluid, lightweight theme by ericulous. Back in those days Eric, the author used the same theme, his blog was a regular free blog, and he went the extra mile (or two) to offer free support to his users. Perhaps too much… so he ended up converting the blog into a more commercial site and is now offering support for a fee ( man’s gotta eat…).

Widgets were and still are somewhat of a disappointment. It was easier to install them on Blogharbor as “custom components”. But considering the increased supply, it’s a good balance, after all.

The flexibility of changing your blog’s behavior via plugins is great – but there is a jungle out there. There are far too many poorly documented plugins that do not correctly specify up to which WordPress release they work. Part of the problem was being ahead of the curve: while it’s generally not a good idea to go live on “alpha” software, ate Pressharbor we started to use WordPress 2.3 (then alpha) from day 1, to avoid converting twice in a short time. Since 2.3 brings about major table changes (categories, tags), it breaks a lot of plugins, in fact most of the themes I tested also produce database errors. The ecosystem is not quite ready for 2.3 – I hope it will change in the weeks to come. Oh, well: no update, broken plugins, tag conversion or even upgrade party here – I’m all done.

Summary: I’m here and I like it. I’m a WordPress fan now. If you’d like a full-featured WordPress blog, i.e. want more power than wordpress.com offers, but don’t want the hassle of running it yourself, check out Pressharbor. You’ll get the best service you can. thumbs_up

post

Blogs and Wikis Are the New Web

Traditional web sites are so 20th Century – Blogs and Wikis bring them to life, and they are easier to set up. Perhaps not surprisingly, a Web 2.0-focused VC, Union Square Ventures was one of the first to replace their entire Web site with a blog – read the rationale of the switch. Corporate web sites soon followed suit, just look at Architel and Return Path as examples. Now, for some shameless self-promotion, my earlier tips on the subject: Blogs To Replace Personal Web sites.

In Wikis are the Instant Intranet I also talked about how companies can set up a living-breathing Intranet, one that people can actually use, not just passively read by deploying a wiki: ” in the large corporate environment a wiki can be a lively collaborative addition to the Intranet (see the wiki effect by Socialtext CEO Ross Mayfield), but for smaller, nimble, less hierarchical business a wiki is The Intranet.” (note: I am not just speculating on this: been there, done that in my prior life).

Now Sydney-based Customware raised the bar:

The entire web site (not only the Intranet, but the customer-facing web) is built on a wiki – Confluence by Atlassian. (hat tip: Mike Cannon-Brookes)

Update (9/28): The Atlassian Blog points to several other wiki-powered sites that look-and-feel like traditional websites.

Update (9/22): Just as soon as I posted this article, I saw this pic on Rod Boothby’s blog:

Itensil, short for “Information Utensils” builds “a self-service technology that we’re calling Team Wikiflow that captures collective intelligence and delivers it as reusable team processes.”

I have to admit I haven’t heard of Itensil – it will be exciting to meet them, as well as Atlassian, Socialtext, Zoho, ConnectBeam, EchoSign and many other companies in the collaboration space at the Office 2.0 Conference.

Update (4/12/07): Here’s a list of corporate websites powered by CustomerVision’s BizWiki.


­