Friday, August 31, 2007

Just plain fun

Google Fight

Will someone send Matthew Rich the memo?

Busted: PR Flacks who ran afoul of the science blogosphere, including a brand new flack for Stuart Pivar who showed up right here on this blog
Not that anyone should care about the attempt by New York businessman Stuart Pivar to sue prominent science blogger PZ Myers of Pharyngula anymore, since the suit was just dismissed, but I just noticed that two of the pro-Pivar comments* on the original post in which I broke the PZ/Pivar story were by a "Matthew Richards," who claims to be an attorney.

But that's not his real name, or at least not the name he uses in his professional life. That's because his e-mail address reveals that he is in fact Matthew Rich, proprietor of PR agency the Matthew Rich Group / Planet PR ...

How is it possible that at this late date flacks don't understand that IP addresses are recorded?

Customer complaints

Why you need to keep them in proper perspective. (Also, why you need a new media specialist and why your lawyers need a sense of humor.)


Is it news when a local company is specifically invited to participate in the annual show by the Japanese External Trade Organization? Apparently not.

Several years ago a client of mine was invited to participate in this prestigious event, the only Virginia company invited and one of the very few American companies included.

It was not considered news. I am still angry.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

How many dogs does it take to change a light bulb?

A friend sent the following:
1. Golden Retriever: The sun is shining, the day is young, we've got our whole lives ahead of us, and you're inside worrying about a stupid burned out bulb?

2. Border Collie: Just one. And then I'll replace any wiring that's not up to code.

3. Dachshund: You know I can't reach that stupid lamp!

4. Rottweiler: Make me.

5. Boxer: Who cares? I can still play with my squeaky toys in the dark.

6. Lab: Oh, me, me!!!!! Pleeeeeeeeeze let me change the light bulb! Can I? Can I? Huh? Huh? Huh? Can I? Pleeeeeeeeeze, please, please, please!

7. German Shepherd: I'll change it as soon as I've led these
people from the dark, check to make sure I haven't missed any, and make just one more perimeter patrol to see that no one has tried to take advantage of the situation.

8. Jack Russell Terrier: I'll just pop it in while I'm bouncing off the walls and furniture.

9. Old English Sheep Dog: Light bulb? I'm sorry, but I don't see a light bulb!

10. Cocker Spaniel: Why change it? I can still pee on the carpet in the dark.

11. Chihuahua: Yo quiero Taco Bulb. Or "We don't need no stinking light bulb."

12. Greyhound: It isn't moving. Who cares?

13. Australian Shepherd: First, I'll put all the light bulbs in a little circle...

14. Poodle: I'll just blow in the Border Collie's ear and he'll do it. By the time he finishes rewiring the house, my nails will be dry.

How many cats does it take to change a light bulb?

Cats do not change light bulbs. People change light bulbs. So, the real question is:
"How long will it be before I can expect some light, some dinner, and a massage?"


Streamlining the DoD's Systems

How to leave Iraq
In addition to its other challenges, the military is working in the midst of a years-long mandate to streamline and modernize the Defense Department's stovepiped computer systems, some of which are custom-coded and decades old-yet still important to getting troops and supplies home. Some of this work began in 2003 because of problems getting equipment and supplies into Iraq after the war started. Repair parts and other material piled up because they were inefficiently packed and had to be manually sorted once they arrived. Troops kept reordering because the computers couldn't tell them where the stuff was. The Government Accountability Office, which conducts investigations for Congress, found a $1.2 billion discrepancy between material shipped to the Army and material received by the troops.


Design for People, Build for Change

September meeting on NCC AIIM
Speaker: Ms. Connie Moore, Vice President and Research Director, Forrester Research

I've seen her before; she speaks well, but has an analyst's weakness for acronyms.

This year's NCC AIIM theme is Implementing and Using ECM in an Ever-Changing: World, Definitions, Implementation, Use, and Lessons Learned. If you have a presentation that relates to this, you might want to contact the Board of Directors.

FMLOB Testing Strategy RFI

Via Fed CFO blog we learn that the GSA has put out a Request for Information for evaluating providers for the Financial Management Line of Business (FMLoB) Initiative.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Cracking the iPhone lock

Why Apple Can't Stop iPhone Hackers
AT&T and Apple may face an uphill battle prosecuting hackers who untether the iPhone from the AT&T wireless network

What am I missing? Why is Apple more subject to hacking than other cell phone providers? Because the iPhone does so much more? Or is it simply because the iPhone is so cool?

New to me content management blog

Sharepoint Meets ECM

Social bookmarking 101

Via D-Ring PR, Common Craft Show's explanation of social bookmarking.

The women bloggers wiki

Janie informs us that Carolyn (Wild Wiki Woman) of Becoming a Woman of Purpose has created W Magical List of Women Bloggers Wiki.

Kami Huyse and Valeria Maltoni started a virtual fire between them and I am honored to keep company with so many fine women bloggers.

This is a great illustration of how blogs can be used to build community.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

How to escape Google Hell

What To Do When Google Mistakenly Identifies Your Website as Harmful

New to me local PR blog

The Horn Group Weblog

Added to Tech on the Potomac RSS reader.

When your press release is published

So your press release was published, congratulations. Now it is time to reward the publication with additional page views. Send the publication’s story link to every blog on your list of blogs that cover that area. (You do have such a list don’t you?) Don’t limit yourself to the high traffic blogs, any legitimate blog is a good placement. Clients do not understand this, but with time results will speak for themselves.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Setting goals for your corporate blog

Think of your company’s blog as your store window (and just like store windows, it is a good thing to have more than one). It should have a narrow focus and appeal to the corporation’s customers, partners, investors, and employees. Its purpose is to build the business by building new relationships and reinforcing existing ones.

Like your website, your blog is an online extension of your existing marketing effort. The people you meet at business events, the recipients of your direct mail, and the audience for your existing advertising, are people who would be interested in your blog.

Begin by reading the blogs in your field. Go to Technorati, Blogpulse, or some other blog search tool, and do a search on some key words, such as content management, GIS, or xml. You should also do a search on your company’s name and URL to see if anyone is currently posting about your company.

Choose the name of your corporate blog carefully. Incorporating your company’s name into your blog’s name is a good choice. Whatever name you chose, be sure that it focuses attention on your business.

Use your sidebar to define your blog. Link to industry associations, publications, and blogs relevant to your industry. This helps to build community.

Linking is a great way to gain attention. Want a reporter to pay attention to your company? Link to their reporting. Want an industry analyst to notice your company? Link to their blog, or if they don’t have one, link to an article that quotes them. Analysts do regular searches on their names, so sooner or later they will notice that you are linking to them in a favorable context. The same is true for investors or anyone else you may wish to cultivate. (Note – however much you may wish to cultivate a politician, do not use your corporate blog for such a purpose, that is what your government affairs division or lobbying firm is for.)

Search engines love blogs; merely having one will instantly raise your search engine visibility. It will not put you at the top of results, nor should you attempt to use your blog for that; but it will increase your visibility. After you have been posting regularly (Two to three times a week) you should see an increase in site traffic.

The most important thing a blog will do is pre-qualify prospects. As I said at the beginning, a blog is your store window. Readers will have a chance to get to know you before you contact them. They might even contact you.

Edit -
Stephen Turcotte has written a terrific post on this same topic:
One of the strengths of social media is that it attracts enthusiastic and influential community members into publicly accessible & searchable networks. Within these networks, people share thoughts and observations and engage in conversations, sometimes directly coinciding with a particular need for a product (like a discussion where someone mentions difficulty in finding a good Internet access provider in the area, for example). Other times, the conversation may relate more to practical issues that identify a person or group as part of a certain target market or segment (for example, an active blogging community discussing farming conditions in a region, or broader farming related topics). These conversations not only provide insight into the community at large, but also provide an opportunity to research, target, and positively engage with an audience.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The real estate crash

Foreclosure filings up 93% this year

A bad sign. A very bad sign.

The Information Technology Enterprise Solutions 2-Services contract

Code-shopping anyone?
An audit of the Information Technology Enterprise Solutions 2-Services contract criticizes the Army's coding of the contract in a way that made it nearly impossible for small businesses to compete for the $20 billion vehicle.

Three cheers for the auditor.

Audit: ITES-2S miscode leaves out small businesses

Maryland commits to information sharing

Maryland Governor O'Malley Outlines Law Enforcement Information Integration
O'Malley said security integration "means protecting our people and communities through seamless coordination and consistent information-sharing. It means that the criminal justice system must work as a system, not a collection of parallel lines -- and parallel cultures and parallel datasets and parallel intelligence systems -- that never meet.

"Security integration must be horizontal, as well as vertical,"

It has taken years, but editors are finally learning that information sharing is news. I am very proud of the role that Presto Vivace played in bringing about this change.

Sensing danger

States apply sensors to bridge conditions
The Interstate 35 eight-lane bridge in Minneapolis that collapsed earlier this month had been showing signs of fatigue for several years, although the bridge did routinely pass safety checks. After the collapse, inspectors admitted that there are limits to today’s safety inspection techniques.

Now the research and development community is looking into the idea of embedding sensors within the bridges themselves. Such sensor units would not act as last-minute alarms but would let inspectors know how the material is holding up after years of use.

With funding from the Maryland State Highway Administration, the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., has developed a small, low-cost sensing package, called a Wireless Embedded Sensor Platform, that could be used with new bridges.

When multiple units are embedded within a bridge, the WESP can monitor the state of the structure. At a cost of less than $10 for each unit, such platforms could one day prevent disasters such as the one in Minneapolis.

ASCE Report Infrastructure Report Card 2005

Massachusetts approves Open XML

Joab Jackson, GCN
Bringing two years of sometimes rancorous debate to a close, Massachusetts’ information technology office has approved Microsoft’s Office Open XML as an acceptable standard for office documents.

If Microsoft has actually embraced open standards, I don't understand why they insisted that their XML standard be accepted.

Peter Quinn's interview with Groklaw

New to me local tech group

Via CMS Watch we learn about Web Analytics Wednesday.

The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act

TCG alerts us this item from Federal Computer Week:

GSA opens competition for federal funding database

GSA knew Eagle Eye could provide the data because the market research firm works with OMB Watch, a nonprofit organization, to set up Congress mandated that the Office of Management and Budget set up a public Web site similar to, which lists all contract and grants data. Congress passed the act in September 2006. The law charges OMB with corralling agencies to provide accurate data for a public database that Congress said would improve government accountability by Jan. 1, 2008.

Vendors have until Aug. 24 to respond to the RFP.

As TCG suggests, it is unlikely anyone but Eagle Eye will be able to bid.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Flacks who yell at reporters

Don't do this. (Image from Sue Johnston)

It has come to my attention that there are flacks who yell at reporters. Indeed, not only do these flacks yell at reporters, they also yell at editors, and publishers. Stop it.

That this is not widely known speaks volumes for the professional standards of the journalists involved. It speaks well of their sense of obligation to their readers that they do not take it out on the clients of bad flacks. Even so, your clients should not be getting good press in spite of the fact that they hired you.

Life is short. Yelling at people is bad. Yelling at journalists is incredibly counter productive and highly unprofessional.

It is just a question of time before one of these flacks tries this with a blogger. Then we will all have a laugh, because bloggers delight in exposing bad flacks.

It is unethical to record a phone conversation without the other participant’s knowledge. It is illegal in Maryland. It is also just a question of time before some flack yells at a blogger, the blogger records the rant, and puts the result in a mp3 file on his blog. When that happens we will all have a refreshing drink of schadenfreude.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Mark Amtower's next book

Mark Amtower's next book will be Why Epiphanies Never Occur to Couch Potatoes. Check out the cartoon, which captures Amtower's personality perfectly.

Mark was kind enough to send an advance copy, which I will be reviewing as soon as I have a chance. It is written in his lively style that has made him such a star in the marketing world.

The book has a blog which has been added to the Tech on the Potomac RSS reader.

More Amtower sites:

Federal Direct

Government Marketing Best Practices

Government Express

Great moments in content management, FTC edition

Error by FTC Reveals Whole Foods' Trade Secrets
Lawyers for the FTC electronically filed documents as part of that court case yesterday afternoon. Court officials realized the redacted portions of the document could easily be read and blocked it from being downloaded from court computer servers. The Associated Press downloaded the document from the public server before it was replaced by a properly redacted version.

Clearly the redacting function on almost all software is insufficiently intuitive. It is too easy to blame user error and lack of training for these incidents. There are good third party solutions available, the larger vendors need to buy those companies and incorporate those solutions into their software.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Jerk alert

Buzz Bin
Here’s an unfortunate incident: Men behaving badly, particularly in the comments arena. In a blatant case of misogyny, several men take to task women marketing bloggers trying to set up a top twenty independent PR Power women index. The boys got so bad that Valeria Maltoni had to shut down comments on her post.

Unbelievable. A woman blogger celebrates the work we are doing and some jerks feel a need to put her down. Sad. Just plain sad.

New to me legal tech blogs

Defenstrated, A delicate blend of government technology, grants management, cool gadgets, Britain, and the arts, with a dusting of random weirdness

Behind the Curtain at TCG, Ideas about research related IT, grants management, and government's use of technology

Added to Tech on the Potomac.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Blogging tech on the Potomac

While no major government contractor has launched a blog, small companies and individual consultants have been blogging for years. Their reasons for doing so range from marketing their services to contributing to the industry. I decided to ask the tech bloggers of Tech on the Potomac why they blog, and this is what they said:

Martin Ringlein of Maryland Media Blog:
“I’ve got two objectives with this blog; to give information and to gain information – it is all about insight.”

Tony Byrne of CMS Watch, who blogs at Trendlines:
“I blog because I have opinions. I want to share them. This is not catharsis, but rather a mechanism for connecting more deeply with CMS Watch customers. They may purchase our evaluation reports, but they want to know the people and the company behind those reports, and also, perhaps, validate that we really know what we are talking about before investing in our research. Our blog has really been the best mechanism -- short of face-to-face interaction -- for that.”

Shahid Shah who blogs at Shahid’s Perspectives, Healthcare IT Guy and maintains the HITSphere community:
I blog to:

* Establish credibility so that potential clients know that I know what I'm doing
* Market myself and have people call me instead of me reaching out to new clients (beats advertising)
* Share my thoughts with the community to do "market testing" of my ideas to see if they're useful
* Record what's happening in the industry so that I and others can come back when we need historical data

In response to my inquiry, Mike of 18th Street Software and Mike-o-Matic blog sent the following:
I would like to promote the local blogosphere too, particularly the technical and computer-oriented blogs. In this city we have a huge concentration of people doing technical work, but they are very quiet compared to the folks in tech hubs like San Francisco and Boston.

I started out writing to try to find my own voice and raise my profile (a little) in my industry. I was impressed by writers like Paul Graham and Joel Spolsky, and how they were able to communicate so clearly what those of us in the IT world feel. It's amazing when you read something by someone who "gets it," and it often clarifies your own thinking on the topic since you become more receptive to what they are saying. I hope in some small way I can give others similar Eureka! moments.

As far as how blogging has helped my career, I can only say it has hurt it. :). The only time it has been mentioned by a potential employer was when they took exception to an article I wrote about my workplace style. I don't really have any regrets though, since any place that is that sensitive would be really difficult to work at long term.

Blogging can promote community on occasion, but a lot of that depends on context and the actual bloggers in question. Sometimes blogging can move off-line. My roommate recently flew to Chicago to attend a conference for one of her favorite political blogs, so I have seen some of this off-line crossover firsthand. I also had a chance to reconnect with a friend of mine when I tripped over his blog,

I have noticed that blogging communities don't seem to follow local boundaries, and are more related to how the various authors publish their work. Being an avid reader, I started using his board to post my articles and developed relationships with people on there. They commented on my work and reposted it, and I did the same for them. We had a small community, even though we were actually located all over the world.

Mike is the only one who indicated that blogging may have hurt his career. It is a legitimate concern and I am sure many individuals and companies are holding back for just this reason. As more and more join blogosphere I think those concerns will dissipate.

Dr. Keith Casey of Casey Software and Casey Software blog sent the following:
Good to hear from you... I've talked about different aspects of the
"benefits of blogging" numerous times:

I think the point of blogging is two fold:
* First, I demonstrate that I have a clue. As a consultant, salesman, or even as interview candidate, you only get a few minutes to make your case. When they can find page after page or month after month of opinions, analysis, and information, it shows a different deeper side
than you can get in a handful of meetings.

* Second, I use it to keep the sword sharp. I learn from articles and information passed to me and by passing the same to others. Hopefully this growth in understanding and technical/communication skills is visible in my writing.

Argyn Kuketayev of One Nomad’s Blog gave a very different reason:
I'm sure you'll get all sorts of different reasons. I'll give you one which I didn't see mentioned often:

To remember where's what in Internet.

Google has changed the "internet experience", you no longer have to remember URLs, Google knows them all, you can always find them. right? wrong! Sometimes I struggle to find something which I found once using Google. So my blog's for those URLs which I think that I might need in the future, it's like a diary and a notebook.

Actually, that is one of the reasons I started blogging. If I saw an item that interested me, one I thought I might want to refer back to, I just linked it from my blog. Now I use my tags for that.

I blog for started blogging for same reason Phil Gomes did, to build relationships with the reporters who cover my area of practice. I also wanted a showcase for my work. Blogging has exceeded my highest expectations. Large contractors are still hesitating, but I think they will be pleasantly surprised the minute they give blogging a chance.

Edit -
Russ Salters sent his reasons for blogging after I posted -
I write BetterECM for a couple of reasons.

First, the blog provides a way for me to share information, presentations, white papers, etc with my readers and folks that attend conferences and seminars that I present at.

Secondly, writing my blog helps me gather, solidify, and articulate my thoughts and ideas related to my industry focus on enterprise content management. The other benefit of writing my blog is gathering feedback and input from my readers to validate new thinking and ideas. Some of the best suggestions come from my readers.

Search-Engine Privacy Scorecard

Rob Pegoraro
Just in time for yesterday's column on search engines, the Center for Democracy and Technology--a D.C.-based think tank--released a report (pdf) on the privacy policies of major search engines.

People aren't ready for it yet, but privacy will be the next killer app. The implications of the lack of privacy have yet to sink it.

Security breaches and privacy violations will become a subset of crisis communications.

Call for entries

Second Annual 2007 Excellence in New Communications Awards

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Congratulations Scott Lock

Scott Lock

Capital Area .Net Users Group

Scott Lock Recognized as Microsoft "Most Valuable Professional" (MVP) - Thursday, July 12, 2007

Edit -
Check out his blog, Scott Lock's Blog, now added to the Tech on the Potomac RSS reader.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Words that sell

The new iMac comes in 20- and 24-inch flavors, with a redesigned thinner keyboard. Apple also announced updates to its iLife and iWork suites at an event in Cupertino, Calif.

Apple upgrades iMacs

IMovie has been redesigned and simplified. Apple says you can make movies in minutes instead of hours and skim through movies in faster-than-real-time. "At no point did Apple refer to it as 'video editing.' They talked about 'creating movies,' " says JupiterResearch analyst Michael Gartenberg. "Video editing is work; movie creation is something that sounds more fun."

Ordinary words are more intuitive and thus better suited to marketing. Technical terms confuse customers and alienate sales. I started Presto Vivace with the idea of discarding technospeak for ordinary words.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Analyzing site traffic

This VisualRoute Server provides a graphical traceroute and ping test from this server to any other network device you choose, useful for pinpointing network connectivity problems and identifying IP address locations.

Looks very handy, I am going to try this when I have a chance.

Well done ASCE

The American Society of Civil Engineers has put out a report card on America's crumbling infrastructure. This is a great example of public education by a non-profit organization.