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All Things Internet™ since 1999


Game, set, match. Mind games with the witless.

I got this most recently via Joey deVilla and its made the rounds a few times since last August.

Naheed Nenshi is the mayor of Calgary.

Calgary is looking better and better every day.

If only they had decent skiing.


A Scanner Darkly

I recently upgraded to a new Macbook and didn’t set up Preview.app to sign documents until this morning. As I clicked the “New Signature” button, I realized that I should probably create a signature to scan in. While perfecting my scrawl, I looked up at the screen to see that the software was trying to turn my head into a signature. Rolling with it, I smiled and clicked “Accept Signature”. From there, I created a blank PDF and “signed” it with this pretty cool image of my big head, saved the results and uploaded it into this post.

Kinda neat!


Frequent Flier Programs: Not really rewarding

I just finished reading about someone’s experience with ConciergeKey, American Airlines gold-plated frequent flier reward given to customers that have flown several kazillion miles on their airline. I don’t know exactly what all of the perks are, and I imagine that they are pretty sweet given the number of miles it takes to earn the program.

Here’s one frequent fliers recent experience with the program (“CK” is “ConciergeKey”, you can figure out the rest of the abbreviations, or just insert the names of random cities ;) ) -

My flight was delayed this morning. Got an email (standard from the website, anybody can get that, on any airline I think, and you better be doing it too). Said my SAT-DFW flight was delayed half an hour. No real problem, I had a 2 hour layover at DFW. Cool.

Then my phone rings. Some number I don’t recognize. Check voicemail. It’s CK, telling me, we know about the problem, we’ll track it, you’re fine for now, here’s what’s causing the delay.

Bloody awesome.

An hour goes by. Three more delays. Emails say, you ain’t gonna make it, son.

CK calls again. This time, I answer. Sorry for the trouble, you won’t make your connection, but we have you on another flight, and it’s all good.

So on one hand, this program is a really, really sweet reward for customers that have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars with the airline.

And at some level, I suppose it is also intended to influence the purchasing decisions of customers that haven’t yet qualified for the program.

The problem is that for 99.9999% of the population, it just isn’t possible to make these levels of miles, so it really isn’t all that influential – at least not in my thinking.

Worse still, in the earlier story, the airline can offer this level of personalized service to each person that flies their airline. Technology makes it completely possible to automatically re-book passengers and even though it might be hard to have a person call everyone on every flight, most people wouldn’t mind getting a ping from a computer outlining the problems and the options available. Hell, some of us might even pay slightly more for a ticket that included these services as an upgrade.

As is, I find these programs insulting and disrespectful. When a restaurant can’t deliver the meal I ordered, they bend over backwards to make it right. Why can’t the airlines? This is just basic customer service. Perhaps in the ancient times before automated dialers and high-tech booking systems were practical, I could understand how the costs might outweigh the benefits, but given the current state of technology it feels more like laziness and a lack of innovation.

Moreover, I think if these frequent fliers thought hard for a second about the pain the airlines inflicted on them while they pursued these luxurious “perks”, they’d probably agree with me.

For what we’re paying for airline tickets, we all deserve a better class of service.


Activism or Spam?

Funny, I’m now receiving spam masquerading as Internet activism. The most recent piece I received proudly flies the anti-SOPA flag and questions whether or not some of your favourite sites could be shutdown as well…

My first inclination was that this was spam promoting Pornhub. Silly me, that’s just a regular link – a spammer would at least include an affiliate URL or some other means to make money.

No, this is actually a Viagra spam. If you follow the link to the protest, you will end up at a Pharma page trying to sell you little blue pills. I can’t imagine that the conversation rate would be all that good, but again, spam is a volume game. Even with 1 buyer for every 10,000 spam message sent, these scumbags send enough volume to make it profitable.


Seesmic sheds staff, drops CRM, re-focuses on social

As a followup to my post earlier this week, Seesmic has laid off just more than half of its team as it struggles to find a business model. Before acquiring Ping.fm, Seesmic tried its hand as a CRM vendor, Twitter client and video platform.

AllThingsD reports that Seesmic is buckling down to focus on its social tools, which presumably includes its Seesmic Ping product, so it might yet find a winner that it can run with.

My hope is that they seize this new focus and use it as an opportunity to revitalize their customer relationships, start communicating and work with its loyal and passionate users so that we are part of the solution.


Men are not blocks. People are not FTE.

If you take a flat map
And move wooden blocks upon it strategically,
The thing looks well, the blocks behave as they should.
The science of war is moving live men like blocks.
And getting the blocks into place at a fixed moment.

But it takes time to mold your men into blocks
And flat maps turn into country where creeks and gullies
Hamper your wooden squares. They stick in the brush,
They are tired and rest, they straggle after ripe blackberries,
And you cannot lift them up in your hand and move them.

–A string of blocks curling smoothly around the left
Of another string of blocks and crunching it up–

It is all so clear in the maps, so clear in the mind,
But the orders are slow, the men in the blocks are slow
To move, when they start they take too long on the way–
The General loses his stars and the block-men die

John Brown’s Body” – Stephen Vincent Benet, most recently via the Manager-Tools newsletter.


Giving up on Ping.fm

After some reading, I think the situation at Ping.FM might be worse than I realized. After Ping.FM was acquired by Seesmic, they revoked all API access a while ago and I’m not sure that they’ll be fixing these issues anytime soon. It seems like Seesmic is focused on relaunching a paid app under the Seesmic Ping banner. That’s cool… for them, I guess. In the meantime, it would be nice if they provided their users with some direction and guidance.

For my part, I’ve now invested 45 minutes troubleshooting and trying to understand the situation better – that’s 45 minutes wasted if Seesmic is going to shut down Ping.FM. And, if they don’t have the courtesy to keep me in the loop now, I can’t really expect the situation will improve if I pay them money. In my experience, companies that offer great service don’t wait to show their stripes until you’ve ponied up some cash.

I was able to find a few WordPress plugins that offer similar functionality – a total PITA to install and configure, but not much more time on top of the time I’ve already wasted trying to solve this.

Updated: Since posting this, I’ve found WordSocial, a nice plugin that handles posting to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and wasn’t much of a hassle to install. I pulled the earlier plugins I was wrestling with and I’m quite pleased with the results.



As much as I like the clean design of the previous template I was using, I found it daunting to write under. Form matters and it has an influence in the substance. If you choose a blog template the lends itself to quick, concise updates a la twitter, that’s probably what you’ll write to populate it. My old template really lent itself to long form posts, which I find daunting. As much as I enjoy writing, if I had the time to do proper long form, I’d probably be getting paid to do it ;-)

So I’ve chosen a new template that shares some of aesthetic of the old template (at least in the way I see it) but lends itself to much smaller posts. I promise I won’t get so concise here that you think you are reading my twitter feed. Twitter is good enough for the short form snark and hopefully, my new styling helps me explore that nice middle ground between the two…


Hopeful words from Costa Rica

“…privacy, security, and protection of intellectual property should not become an excuse to justify trends seeking to exercise highly restrictive controls on cyberspace…

Internet belongs to us all, and we should all participate in the discussion on the rules that should govern the Internet. The design of Internet governance should be based on a multistakeholder approach with — regardless of our political, corporate, financial power. We can participate in a process of reciprocal trust that will reinforce coordination and organization mechanisms in a democratic way. Internet is the great opportunity that we have in history, so as to not repeat our past errors that led to the creation of international governance institutions that are vertical, closed and bureaucratic.

Internet should not be conceived as a threat but rather as a hope. Internet is the hope of an integrated world without frontiers, a common world without controlling owners, a world of opportunities and equality. This is a utopia that we have been dreaming about that is a world in which each and every one of us are protagonists of a destiny that we have in our hands.

- Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla addressing the global Internet community at ICANN 43

Hopeful words from a country that seems to really get it. I visited a few years ago, and I remember being impressed with their progressive views on education, military spending and green power. I think this seals the deal – I officially have a new favourite country :)

A complete transcript in PDF can be found on the ICANN web site.