Archive for: January 2008

January 31, 2008

Admirable Candidates

Filed under: Politics — Les Bain @ 4:19 am

The process we put our Presidential candidates through is difficult.  It exposes their weaknesses more than their strengths in my estimation.  Senator Obama is one of the few that seems to continually rise in this whole process.  I am leaning to Senator Obama at this time.

January 29, 2008

Cash Flow Situation

Filed under: Personal — Les Bain @ 3:50 am

I am having serious cash flow issues.  I am going to try a number of creative ideas over the next couple of days to try and raise some quick cash.  I will document how it goes.

January 27, 2008

Political Attack Ads

Filed under: Politics — Les Bain @ 9:08 pm

I watched a CNN special today on the history of attack ads in Presidential Campaigns. Here are some notes:

  • Attack Ads have always been a part of our history and they used to be worse. “Thomas Jefferson’s opponents predicted in their brochures that if he became president, “murder, robbery, rape and incest will be openly taught and practiced.”
  • People say they hate negative advertising, but they are effective.
    Gov. Michael Dukakis was 17 points ahead in the polls before the Willie Horton negative ad. His lead dropped quickly after the ad aired.
    Senator John Kerry was undone by the Swift Boat Ads.
  • Timing is critical. Attack ads are done at the last minute to prevent a solid response.
  • The only known defense is to attack back hard and fast.

We can expect to see attack ads in this campaign.

January 26, 2008

Password Managers

Filed under: Internet — Les Bain @ 9:57 pm

After some time, I decided today was the day to implement a password manager.  We all know the issues.  There are many websites we sign up for and that creates many passwords.  We cannot remember every  password.  We do not want to use the same password.

Password Manager services and software address this issue.  There are many approaches.

  • Some are downloaded programs with on site databases of URL, user and password.
  • Some are completely online and the information is stored online – excellent for those that travel and use different computers.
  • Some are Firefox extensions which does not help with other browsers.
  • Some are only for Windows.   Some are only for Macs.

I have looked at several, but decided on RoboForm.  It had the features that matched what I wanted.  There are a couple of things that are confusing me, but in fairness, I have not gone through the help files carefully.

I will continue to research functionality and see if I can make it fit everything I want.

January 24, 2008

The Internet

Filed under: Internet — Les Bain @ 9:43 pm

When I talk to different people and tell them I work helping people build their business using the Internet, they often tell me how they see the Internet.   We all know the Internet is massive enough where people see it differently, but I am surprised how much the difference is.

  • For some, the Internet is where they search for information on various topics.
  • For some, the Internet is where they go to participate in one club or forum.
  • For some, the Internet is where they go to participate in their social media site – either Facebook or MySpace.
  • For some, the Internet is where they go to participate in a chat room.

The surprising thing is the number of people that I meet for whom the Internet is very narrow.  It is where they go to do one particular activity or participate in one site.

Google Adsense on Website

Filed under: Blogging,Marketing — Les Bain @ 3:13 am

I relented and put Google Adsense Ads on my Website.  I will eventually put code to alternate Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft Ads.  It is all PHP controlled, so I will just alternate ads depending on the time of day or the day of the week.

January 23, 2008

Keyword Country

Filed under: Blogging,Marketing — Les Bain @ 10:26 pm

I signed up for a new affiliate program called Keyword Country after I reviewed their site and all their videos.  I put ads to some appropriate blogs, and to several pages on my website.  It was the first time I put ads on my main website.  I did not think I ever would, but I am seriously considering more ads.  I will test and see how it goes.

Amazon Astore

Filed under: Internet,Website — Les Bain @ 3:34 am

I created an Amazon AStore today. I am not sure whether I will ever make any money from the store, but it was so much fun creating it. It is a powerful system, and with server side includes to roll it out on the website, it was all very quick to implement.

It is a fine affiliate program.

Website Changes

Filed under: Internet,Website — Les Bain @ 3:31 am

After I moved everything to server side includes, I had to do some website maintenance. It was so sweet to change a server side include and have it take effect immediately.

January 22, 2008

Keywords

Filed under: Internet — Les Bain @ 6:19 am

I am working on a tutorial for keywords.  It is a simple enough concept, but it is so very important to understand and get it right.  The tutorial will cover

  • Identifying keywords from the business plan and the marketing plan
  • Brainstorming keywords
  • How search engines use keywords and set relevance
  • Where to put keywords in your website and blog
  • Tools for researching keywords

I thought at first it would not be a long tutorial, but the more I think about it, the more there is.

January 21, 2008

New coffee mug and the US Senate

Filed under: Personal,Politics — Les Bain @ 1:39 pm

I got a new coffee mug as a gift. It is a thermal mug that keeps the coffee hot as I sit at my desk and work. I had been taking the old mug into the kitchen to microwave it every so often as it got cold.

This mug keeps the coffee so hot that I am having trouble with it. I have started to pour a little coffee out into another container or cup to drink it. It reminds me of the story of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson as they were discussing why there where be two houses in Congress.

A famous (though perhaps fictional) simile often quoted to point out the differences between the House and Senate involves an argument between George Washington, who favored having two chambers of Congress and Thomas Jefferson, who believed a second chamber to be unnecessary. The story goes that the two Founders were arguing the issue while drinking coffee. Suddenly, Washington asked Jefferson, “Why did you pour that coffee into your saucer?” “To cool it,” replied Jefferson. “Even so,” said Washington, “we pour legislation into the senatorial saucer to cool it.”
http://usgovinfo.about.com/library/weekly/blhouseandsenate.htm

Marketing

Filed under: Management — Les Bain @ 12:49 am

I am rethinking the marketing that I am doing after my day at the marketing seminar. I have tweaked my marketing plan and marketing tasks. Some of it is just renaming things to get focus.

The other emphasis is to create process for various marketing efforts. A prime example is getting referrals. I am putting a process in place to ask for referrals, to follow up on those referrals, and to reward the person doing the referral in some way.

January 20, 2008

Twitter

Filed under: Internet — Les Bain @ 2:24 pm

I am going to try Twitter yet again.  There are just so many people that I respect that are using it in a positive way.  It just has not impressed me so far, much I am going to try again.

Google Analytics

Filed under: Blogging,Internet — Les Bain @ 2:20 pm

I updated my Google Analytics as part of the process of upgrading the Blogger Templates.  I set up Google Analytics for each of the blogs.  I reviewed the Analytics reports today, and it is always so interesting to see how people find things on the internet.  Some of the Search Results are so surprising, I have to enter the Search Keywords to see for myself.

When I do the search using the keyword, I often find my listing beyond the supposed 3 page max that people use.  I quite understand that searching for the same keyword will return different results on different days, but what I see suggests more people go deep into the search results.

Blogger Blogs

Filed under: Blogging — Les Bain @ 2:15 pm

I have written several times about my project to upgrade all the templates for my Blogger blogs.  I implemented the new templates this weekend. Most of the changes were just organizing the material, but it will make it much easier to implement changes.

I still need the capability to update the template in a program using the API, but that is part of the list for version 2.

January 19, 2008

Marketing

Filed under: Management — Les Bain @ 1:30 am

I went to a Marketing Workshop to review my marketing.  I spent the day remembering

  • Mission Statements
  • Vision Statements
  • USP – Unique Selling Propositions
  • Elevator Speeches
  • Lead Generation
  • Tag Lines

Marketing is getting to be like physical health.  We all know what to do, it is just doing it.

January 16, 2008

Does the Media have a Horse in this Race?

Filed under: Politics — Les Bain @ 4:59 pm

Is traditional media backing one candidate in the election? I think it is safe to say that different folks in the media back different candidates.

But it seems clear that there is one outcome that most of the media favors, and that is the situation where there is no clear winner before the conventions. It has been some years since that happened, and it is an exciting thing for political junkies to watch a convention with no preordained outcome.

I have seen more than one pundit declare that would be a most desirable outcome because it would be so interesting. I wonder if that will steer the reporting to try and balance the candidates leading up to the convention.

Some of the scenarios – like Senator Edwards being the king maker by convincing his delegates to support Senator Obama are interesting to contemplate.

Interviewing for a New Job

Filed under: Politics — Les Bain @ 4:31 pm

I read a great article on one technique for effectively interviewing for a new job.  The technique is to start doing the job during the interview.  As you ask about the job, start suggesting things that might be done right away.  One of the stories in the article described a young woman who in the interview asked to see the problem area and started to fix it on the spot.  She was hired.

Dave Winer suggests that those who want the job of President of the United States should do the same thing, and that is start to fix the problems as they are interviewing (campaigning).  One example was to organize contributions to help poor families get health insurance.  I love the idea.

Comment Spam

Filed under: Blogging,Internet — Les Bain @ 4:23 pm

Akismet has caught 37,595 spam comments since I first installed it.  Most of the spam comments I get are advertising pharmaceuticals – Viagra, Soma, Xanax, Phentermine, Percocet, Hydrocodone, Tramadol, Ephedrine and many others.

Blogger Templates

Filed under: Blogging,Internet — Les Bain @ 4:09 pm

I have a number of link blogs on blogger. I am updating the templates. That means looking at the code from various vendors, including Google Adsense and the Amazon Associate program.

Most of the code still works, but all the vendors have new options and new functionality. It takes a certain amount of time to stay current. One one blog I have interfaces with all the following vendors:

  1. Blogger (Google)
  2. Google Adsense
  3. FeedBurner
  4. Google Custom Search
  5. StatCounter
  6. Amazon Associate
  7. RevResponse
  8. FreeSticky

I suppose one option is just to get rid of it all. Or just do one vendor, but as I find things from vendors that look interesting, I like to add them to my blogs.

I have organized the Blogger Template code so that all the code is isolated.  I wish there was a way to use server side includes with Blogger.  That way if I could change the vendor code in one place and have it updated on all the blogs.  Server Side Includes can be used if you FTP to your own domain, but not if you use the blogger.com domain.

January 14, 2008

Blogger Templates

Filed under: Blogging,Internet — Les Bain @ 4:17 pm

I have a number of blogs that are on the Blogger service.  I use the same basic blog template for all of them.  As one can easily imagine, the template has a number of common elements with some specific items for each blog.

I am working on a system to generate the template in order to cut and paste new templates.  Making changes and propagating them to all the blogs is time consuming.

The system is basically working now, allowing one to select a blog, generate a new template in order to cut and paste to Blogger.  The change can be made to one place, and then each template is regenerated.

How big a threat is Islamic Terroism?

Filed under: Politics — Les Bain @ 4:06 pm

What is the best term?

  • Islamofascism
  • Islamic fascism
  • Islamic extremism
  • Islamic terrorism

And how big a threat is it?

  • Is it as big a threat as the Soviet Union was?
  • Is it as big a threat as North Korea?
  • Is it as big a threat as China?
  • Is it as big a threat as global warning?
  • Is it as big a threat as oil at $200 a barrel?

January 12, 2008

Reading RSS Feeds

Filed under: Blogging,Internet,Technology — Les Bain @ 8:06 pm

I had a little more time to read my RSS feeds today.  It is humbling to read and process the insights of some of the bloggers.  It makes me resolve to think and post more aggressively – but not today.

January 11, 2008

Complete conversion to PHP

Filed under: Internet,Technology — Les Bain @ 6:05 pm

I finished the process of converting my website code so that every webpage is PHP.

  • I changed all files to .php files
  • I changed all client side includes to PHP server side includes.

Because everything has been changed to PHP, I was able to do the following:

  • Change the copy write end year to be dynamic
    Copyright © 2003 – < ?php echo date('Y'); ?>
  • Randomly show different photos

Positioned the website to be more dynamic and include more Data Bases.

January 10, 2008

New Clients

Filed under: Management — Les Bain @ 8:31 pm

I am actively looking for new clients.  The holiday period was slow, and worry about the economy is preventing some from moving ahead with 2008 plans.

January 9, 2008

Campaign Analysis

Filed under: Politics — Les Bain @ 2:40 pm

I listened to analysis and punditry after the New Hampshire primary as I worked on the computer.  The voices were predictable depending on title.

  • Republicans and Conservations analysis ts were predictable.
  • Democrats and Liberals analysts were predictable.

The spokespeople for the different candidates were just spin doctors.

Who is doing the following kind of analysis:

  • Is anyone looking at the situation with any perspective?
  • Does anyone look at all the candidates as a whole?
  • Is anyone reviewing the process by which we nominate candidates?
  • Is anyone looking at the third parties?
  • Is anyone comparing the leading candidates to slates of candidates in the past?  Or to slates of candidates in other countries?

January 8, 2008

Senator Clinton and Senator McCain win in New Hampshire

Filed under: Politics — Les Bain @ 10:10 pm

The polls predicted Senator Obama would win in New Hampshire.  The polls were not accurate.  Senator Clinton won in New Hampshire.

Less than 1% of the American people have now voted for delegates that will nominate candidates for the two major problems.

Audio Blogging

Filed under: Blogging,Technology — Les Bain @ 9:43 pm

I talked to an associate today who said he thought he should be blogging but did not have enough time.  I recommended that he consider Audio Blogging.  He is articulate and concise. He travels around during the day, and would have an easier time blogging using his cell phone.

I reviewed what I knew about Audio Blogging, especially using a cell phone, and as always, things have changed.  Hipcast is still the one to beat, but it is a paid service.  Other services are free.  I will look at the services again to get up to date.

January 7, 2008

Cash Flow

Filed under: Personal — Les Bain @ 3:33 pm

I am having cash flow problems. Cash flow issues take up way too much time. I am resolved this year to have a more positive cash flow. I am going to do the following.

  • Ask for partial payment up front.
  • Invoice Promptly.
  • Track Invoices and follow up promptly when they are beyond 30 days.

But the bottom line, if it is a big company, there is not much leverage other than walking away.

January 6, 2008

Website Errors

Filed under: Internet,Website — Les Bain @ 11:31 pm

Part of doing a well crafted website is doing error processing. When someone keys in an invalid webpage name for example, a 404 error is returned.

It is considered good practice to replace the system generated error message with a tailored error message that matches the rest of your website. There is a cottage industry around the 404 error, and there are websites with examples of all the creative things that people have done with 404 errors. See 404 Research Lab.

It can a little unwieldy to do lots of error message programs, so I refined my process today. My website is on a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL & PHP) environment.

The process now has two parts

The htaccess file with a set of Error Commands –
ErrorDocument 404 /error-page.php?404

The error-page.php program itself that captures the error code and generates the message.

I like the approach because it is all contained in two places.

This is the description.

Blogging

Filed under: Blogging — Les Bain @ 11:14 pm

I am consciously making the effort to blog more. Not for any reason other than I just want to experience what it is like to blog frequently. At first it was difficult. I kept trying to think of what I was going to blog about.

But as I start to blog more, it becomes easier, because blogging becomes a part of the day. I do something, then I write about it.

It is in fact becoming more like a journal.

Recycling E-Waste

Filed under: Technology — Les Bain @ 1:10 pm

E-Waste is electronic waste – old computers, monitors, televisions, and peripherals.  California has a program to encourage recycling e-waste.  E-waste has toxic material and should be kept out of land fills.

Today I took all my old computers and computer gear to be recycled at a www.noewaste.com recycling event. (They are a client.) They are having a 3 day event to collect e-waste. There have been record rains during the weekend.

I took a car load of computer gear collected over many years, including the following.

  • An IBM XT computer.
  • A 1200 baud modem.
  • Several boards from 286 and 386 computers.

It felt good to clear it out. Next thing: get rid of the clothes I do not wear.

January 5, 2008

It’s the Delegates!

Filed under: Politics — Les Bain @ 6:24 pm

The major political parties are going through the process of nominating their candidates for President of the United States.

The Democratic Party will nominate their candidate at their National Convention at the end of August.  The Democratic Party sets the rules for who can be a delegate to the convention and who can vote to nominate their candidate.

  • The convention will have 4049 delegates.
  • It takes 2025 to get the nomination.

Who are the delegates

  • 850 are super delegates who can vote for whomever they want.  Some have already committed to a candidate.
  • 3199 are selected by a series of primaries and caucuses and are pledged to a candidate

Who is ahead on the delegates?

  • Clinton – 111
  • Obama – 59
  • Edwards – 32
  • Richardson – 11
  • Kucinich – 2

Note: 2075 delegates will be decided on one day – Feb 5, 2008

January 4, 2008

Iowa Money

Filed under: Politics — Les Bain @ 2:38 pm

Iowa Democratic Caucus – roughly 250,000 people
Iowa Republican Caucus – roughly 150,000 people
Total Money spent in Iowa – roughly $40 million

Congratulations to Obama and Huckabee

Filed under: Politics — Les Bain @ 2:29 pm

Senator Barack Obama wins the Demoncratic Iowa Caucus.

Governor Mike Huckabee wins the Republican Iowa Caucus.

Britney goes to the Hospital.

Iraq? Pakistan? Iran? Sudan? Kenya?

January 3, 2008

Iowa Caucus Today

Filed under: Politics — Les Bain @ 8:50 am

Today is the Iowa Caucus.  This is the day where a small number of people caucus in Iowa to start the process of nominating a presidential candidate.

  • In 2004, there were about 124,000 caucus-goers.  That is about .0413 percent of the population of the United States.
  • The population of the United States is 300 million.
  • The population of the county where I live is over 1 million.

All the news channels will cover the story all day.  There are dozens if not hundreds of reporters in Iowa.

Is this any way to elect a President?

Being Nimble

Filed under: Personal — Les Bain @ 8:34 am

One of the benefits of a small business is that it is supposed to be nimble.  I am changing some things about my business, and it does not feel nimble.  There are business cards, pamphlets, websites, profiles, and other marketing material to examine.  There are plans to  change and networking to do.  At the onset, it seemed more a tweak than a big change.

I will talk to a process consultant this morning, and try to understand why it feels more like turning an ocean liner as opposed to turning a powerboat.

January 2, 2008

New Year’s Resolutions

Filed under: Personal — Les Bain @ 1:39 pm

More Reading : Less Calories
More Books : Less Blogs
More Webcasts : Less Television
More Exercise : Less Computer Games
More Money : Less Weight
More Meditation : Less News

I know that resolutions need specific targets, but I am not sharing those.

Goodbye PageRank

Filed under: Blogging,Technology — Les Bain @ 1:02 pm

I have been using PHP more and more on my websites. On the Wizard Creek Consulting website, I went through and changed all the webpages from .htm to .php. At the same time I added a bit of PHP code to randomly show photos from a photo directory.

I updated the .htaccess file to do the redirect from the old page to the new page.

As I write this, I wonder if there is a way to specify to PHP to also use .htm files so that files do not have to be renamed. I will investigate that next time. (Apparently, I could have changed the parameters to have PHP parse .htm files as well. That would have worked for me, because I changed every file from .htm to .php.)

But because the files are all new names, the PageRank dropped from 5,4 and 3 to zero. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for Google to once again evaluate my website and assign a new PageRank.

I do wonder if I will lose traffic or business. Time will tell.

January 1, 2008

Happy New Year

Filed under: Personal — Les Bain @ 9:49 pm

Happy New Year to one and all.  I hope 2008 is a great year for all.

Off the grid for 24 hours

Filed under: Personal — Les Bain @ 9:05 pm

Yesterday, I took a 24 hour break.  No computer, no PDA, no phone, no Television, and no Radio.  I took the day to read, meditate, and reflect back on 2007 and forward to 2008.  The most interesting thing was now long the day was.  Time passed slowly.  Today, I am back on the grid, and the day has zoomed past.