On my recent sojourn to the place of my birth, I had the opportunity to revisit the church of my youth. I grew up in the Episcopal Church – St. Mark’s Episcopal Church of Shreveport, Louisiana, to be exact. As a child, my parents had been searching – unsuccessfully it turns out – for a church home, when they enrolled me in the Kindergarten class of the school run by St. Marks. I came home spouting Episcopal theology. It occurred to them that the Episcopal faith was the only thing they’d not really explored among the mainstream Christian denominations. Soon, we all became card-carrying Episcopalians. Continue reading The New! Improved! Episcopal Church! (Not.)
I’m back from the family reunion, offspring in tow. Along the way, we made her first pilgrimage to the Mecca for women, young and old, a place called “Sam Moon.” What is a “Sam Moon,” you may ask? Sam Moon is a phenomenon in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. It’s a chain of stores that sell women’s accessories – jewelry, purses, luggage, belts, earrings, necklaces and the like, at wholesale prices. “Wholesale prices” is a term that is bandied about in the retail game, sometimes with a sense of mendacity that would make a professional liar blush. No, Sam Moon has got the goods. They are the real deal, the genuine article, the Real McCoy. But this is not a post about the wonders of Sam Moon, the upsetting of the natural order when it comes to baubles, bangles, and bright shiny beads. No, gentle reader, this is a story about awe, shared experiences, and fatherhood. Continue reading Leapin’ Lizards!
I am informed by my friend, web host provider, bon vivant, teller of tall tales and singer of sea chanties (let’s call him “Major Disaster”) that we have a failure to communicate with the fine folks that provide him with the dedicated server hosting. In short, the company he uses for dedicated hosting sold out to some new guys. He’s found the service provided by the new guys to be, shall we say, “less than optimal.” (I’d say more, but I think you can read between the lines on that one.) As a result, the Major and the old hosting company have come to a parting of the ways. The Major has already contracted with a brand spankin’ shiney new web hosting company (this is a good thing), so this blog (and the many fine websites we have created for ourselves and clients) will have a new home shortly. The downside is that there may be a slight interruption of service, as we get all the files transfered over. (Read: I’m not sure how long or how bad, but I got a bad feelin’ about this, Sundance.)
Of course, this couldn’t have happened at a worse time, as I am on vacation, at my family reunion. The box I do all my site management on is several hundred miles away. So if this blog goes away for a day or two (or three), rest assured, it will come back, hopefully beter, faster, (cheaper would be nice), and perhaps a little more bulletproof, this time around.
It’s family reunion time, and I’ll be away from the blogosphere for a bit. I have to make a pilgrimage to Captain Digital’s ancestral home – Shreveport – which is Hell-n’-gone from Amarillo (Centrally Located Between Two Oceans!™). The offspring (our Digital Mini-Me) is making the trip with me (should be fun), but Mrs. Digital has opted to stay behind and convalesce. I may – or may not – have a chance to log-in, tune-in, and write-on (this blog), so it may be a week or so before I’m expounding on whatever is bugging me. (Not to worry…I’m sure I’ll have plenty of stuff to write about, after dealing with my family for a week.) So enjoy the weekend. Lord knows, I’ll try to, between the scheduled spontenaity of the reunion, a 10-year-old on HER first pilgriage to Sam Moon (the merchandising Mecca for All Things Jewelry), and the joys of driving two-lane-blacktop for several hundred miles. Catch you on the flip-side.
My wife thinks she’s Wonder Woman. Not the cartoon character. Not the Lynda Carter TV icon. But she does think she’s invulnerable, super-strong, and impervious to pain. And she’s not alone. A lot of women that came of age in the 70’s and 80’s bought into that superheroine myth.
In the five decades I’ve been on God’s green Earth, I’ve learned that what you believe is every bit as influential regarding how you react to something as is the stimulae itself. In other words, the way you react to a given situation is largely going to be dictated by your belief system. Here’s an illustration that I think will clear things up…Three people are locked in a room. One grew up around an uncle who ran a snake attraction, and was used to handling snakes. The next grew up traumatized, as a favorite relative died on a camping trip, from a snakebite. The third has no exposure – positive or negative – to snakes.
A panel opens in the ceiling, and a snake is lowered into the room. One event: three dramatically different reactions. The first person says “Oooh, what a cute snake!,” and picks it up to play with it. The second person hyperventilates, panics, and attempts to claw their way out of the room. Third goes back to reading a book. Continue reading (Why) Wonder, Woman?
I love creative things. In particular, I’ve always loved science fiction (which gives writers a way to violate reality to serve their story ideas) and humor (which requires both creativity and intelligence to do really well). So when the SciFi channel launched EUReKA, a show that combines sicence fiction with humor, I quickly became a fan. Then they did something that, at the time at least, was creative in a marketing sense. They created a website that was a “we’re going to pretend as if all this is real” kind of thing, that somehow made the show that much beter. It was cool. The show was cool. And they were doing some pioneering work in how to use the web to market a show.
Season Two just started, and they have pulled off yet again another innovative idea in marketing – they’ve blurred the lines between product placement and conventional advertising, and in the process have forged something new, different, and in many ways, pretty scary. Continue reading EUReKa!…I think they’re on to something.
And I thought I’d let you know about it.
Here’s the deal…I’m always thinking about ways to make the things I use better. I’m also good with my hands, and notoriously cheap, when it comes to buying something I could make myself – especially when I can make something that’s better than what I can buy.
The other day, I was looking for a guitar stand, one that would hold several instruments at once. I didn’t like anything I found at GuitarCenter – too expensive, and cheaply made. I figured I could make something that would cost less and work better. And I was right. Turns out, a bunch of people agreed with me, and want to get me to make them a stand like the one I made for myself. What a novel idea. Continue reading I’m working on something cool…
Branding. It’s the single most important thing about marketing. A brand communicates how a company wants to be perceived – or how it wants you to think about its products. Branding is a combination of one part image, one part slogan, and 98 parts repitition. Great brands are not created overnight. They are built slowly, one message at a time, until the brand becomes etched in your conciousness. Brands are expensive to build. But their worth their weight in gold. Which makes it all the more interesting – and madning – when I see a company kill a brand that resonates with the public. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at three brands that have been killed-off by their corporate masters, and examine the who, what, and why they died (and perhaps why killing them was a dumb idea).
Continue reading Brand Equity and Egos.
I’ve been in the business of using computers, in one way or another, since 1982. I wrote my first college paper on an Apple III. I owned one of the original IBM PCs (Hercules Graphics Card! 512K RAM! Two full-height 5 1/4″ Floppy Drives! Dot Matrix Printer! DOS 2.0! Ashton-Tate Framework! All for the low, low price of $4,000!!!). I’ve worked as a software engineer, product manager, project manager, marketing manager, and user interface evangelist for software publishing companies. I was around for the birth of Windows 1.0, the life and death of COMDEX, the rise of the common user interface, the Year of the LAN, and a slew of other things, long consigned to the dust bin of computer history. I’ve been a user, author, coder, beta-tester, evangelist, designer, and planner. In short, I’ve held just about every job you can hold in the software industry.
Now I’m writing reviews. Continue reading My two cents.
The older I get, the more I appreciate old stuff. I suppose that makes a certain amount of synergistic sense. When I was a kid, “new” was the thing. If some marketer prefixed their pitch with the magic word “new” – they had my attention. These days, I equate “new” with “not as good as what it replaced.” That’s not always true, of course – a new computer is better/faster/cheaper than an old one. But when it comes to things that require craftsmanship, pride, skill, taste, and durability, “old” beats “new” almost every time. Case in point, musical instruments. Continue reading The Value of Old.