September 12, 2023

Tell me about your blog

If you read my blog and if you have a blog, tell me about it. I already have a short list of other bloggers who read my blog, but I got them mostly from comments and from blog-search tools like Technorati. I have a list called “Readers” in my RSS feed reader, but it’s still very thin and I’d like to boost it. So leave me a comment or write me an email. Thanks!

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September 10, 2023

Techcrunch on how to pitch your dotcom

This is a great article from Techcruch on ten things that tech companies can do to get blogged. It’s Techcrunch’s wishlist directed at all the PR reps who keep sending them stuff. But it makes a lot of sense. Most tech entrepreneurs already get most of the points. The ones that they keep missing are points 7 and 8.

7. Be descriptive. Tell me what your product does immediately in crisp and interesting prose that is FOA (Free Of Acronyms). FaceBook is a social networking site for college students. Pandora is a music recommendation engine. See? I need more details down the road, but give me something to hold on to before you jump into the cool way you’ve implemented ajax into the FAQs, or whatever.

8. Tell a Story. Bloggers want to tell a story. Help them. Pandora is different because they break down music technically – interesting! 60% of FaceBook’s users log in daily – wow! Writely is allowing people to visualize a world without thick clients – big story!

Tech entrepreneurs always fall in love with their technology. I’ve been pitched ideas revolving around Ajax and Ruby before. But when I respond with “But how is it different from this-or-that dotcom? And why will this-or-that user segment prefer it?”, I always get blank stares and stammering. The things is, tech entrepreneurs almost never think about who will be using their software or how they will use them before they start building them. The key to success always lies with focusing on the users, not on the sexiness of the technology. It’s pure commonsense.

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Display any Flickr photo collection on your website

This is a really nice script that displays photos from any RSS feed on your website.

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September 9, 2023 went from Nice! to Sucks!

This is probably news of no importance, but I’ve decided to unsubscribe from’s RSS feed. It just got too intrusive for me with its “link optimisation”. I can’t stand that:

  1. It has a link post every day, not for one topic but for several. There’s “News”, “Ask Metafilter” and now “Ask Slashdot”. Listen, I’m here for lifehacks. Hello, that’s what your site is called. If I wanted that other stuff, I’d subscribe to their feeds. I don’t need it from you too.
  2. On top of those link posts, also does a link post on its own posts! What am I, a five year old child? I need to be reminded twice about everything?
  3. It’s even doing a weekly post about its advertisers. Talk about intrusive advertising! I don’t mind if they link to their advertisers within their own posts, especially if the advertisers have relevant products or services. But blatantly making a “Sponsor” post is just too much.
  4. I think it all started with a directive to cross-sell the other blogs in the Gawker Media empire. I can’t stand that either. If I was interested in cars or celebrities, don’t you think I’m smart enough to subscribe to those feeds. I mean, those blogs are popular and prominent enough that they’re all topic leaders in their fields. But the point is: they’re not relevant to lifehacks so why are they on
  5. I get ten posts from you and only five are actual lifehacks. What happened? I got bait-and-switched, that’s what happened.

It’s gotten to the point where nearly none of the posts on interests me. Half of them aren’t real posts — they’re meta-posts. In any case, if it does turn out that any of’s posts are of any real value, they end up on and I still get to see them anyway. So long,!

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September 6, 2023

Researching a client’s brands online

Yesterday I touched on the topic of studying a company to make it inscrutable. That’s just one of the reasons I always conduct secondary research (research through the internet and other publications) on all my clients. What I look out for is brand impressions — anything that people think is important enough about a company, its products or its employees to mention. Some of the other reasons include:

  1. Understanding their marketing history and promotion efforts — because their target audience might remember what messages they sent out before
  2. Finding out what other people make of the company, the people who work in it and their products
  3. Finding out who are the stakeholders — people who have interest in the company or its products — and why they have an interest in them

I have a basic checklist of things I do when I conduct secondary research. For dotcoms, I only do internet research and never bother with paper publications, although I do always ask clients if anyone has written anything about them. You might find this checklist of sites useful since I’m not the only one who uses these techniques. I run all the searches for the company’s name, its website, the brand names for its products and the main people behind the company and the people in the development team. (Incidentally, I also run the same searches for each one of the client’s most prominent competitors.)

  1. — I only scan up to 200 entries unless a lot as been written about the company.
  2. and — I look out for references in user blogs as well as industry blogs and employee blogs. Regarding employee blogs, I’m not really interested in them except for getting their impressions of the products and the company they work for and how popular their blogs are.
  3. — I scan for references in the more popular web versions of industry publications.
  4. — I look up whose name is on the domain registration. Sometimes its important to make it anonymous but have the contact details correct.
  5. — I check the number of incoming links and website prominence to compare with their competitors.

I don’t build a dossier on everything or on everyone. But I do make notes. It’s not important for me to bring up everything I find. Sometimes they just aren’t relevant to my branding objectives. But I do need to know who is thinking what so that I can segment the market accurately into primary audiences and secondary audiences — groups of people to whom I need to allocate my branding budget. Everything is really all about the money and how I spend it. But that’s a topic for another day.

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Skype robot that creates an underaged-girl “user” as a perv honeypot

This is brilliant. This programme makes a robot for Skype that looks like a girl — with automated responses and even an attractive photo. The software author also put up logs of a previous conversation that the robot had with an unsuspecting victim who propositioned the “user”.

A profile is put up with a girl’s name and picture, and put in “Skype me” mode. Within minutes some seedy guy will invariably try calling/chatting, and there’s a little program I made running the whole time which will partner up people 2 at a time, and send messages from the first person to the second, & vice versa. This way both people think they’re talking to a girl.

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September 5, 2023

The role and function of marketing communications in product development teams

The ideal dotcom startup team seems to be CEO, CTO and COO or CFO. Now it’s all well and good to be product and business focused, but who’s looking out for the people who can make or break a business — the users and the public stakeholders? A CEO’s function is to provide strategic vision, a CTO’s to manage the development of the product and internal technologies, a COO or CFO is to look after revenue and expenditures. All these are full-time jobs with weighty responsibilities. Just as weighty as it is the CCO’s (Chief Communications Officer) job which is to manage the outgoing as well as incoming communications of the company as well as looking after its brands. Yet most dotcom startups completely sideline this essential function.

I had drinks with the joint CEOs of last night. Both very bright and clued-in guys who have great ideas for web services and products. They both have great vision and are very experienced at producing winning products and partnerships. And while they do know what their consumers want and how to deliver the goods, neither of them has marketing communications expertise and neither does anyone on their development team. Even while their products are in development, buzz still needs to be managed as first time users try out their beta products and talk about them. And someone needs to create marketing communications plans and execute them. Currently, they’re both handling these functions themselves but chinks are starting to appear. There’s not one but two faux Wikipedia pages to promote their products; glaring spelling errors in their marketing materials; use of a free blog host (Blogspot) for their company blog; and at least one instance of evoking the cliched Google’s Law. None of which set very good impressions on the techie crowd — the quintessential first-adopters. I’m not trying to be picky, but a startup that wants to engage the larger community has to first be inscrutably “Slashdot-ready” (and those guys do way a lot more researching).
(Click here to read the rest on the article page…)

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September 2, 2023

Yahoo domains now for $1.99

They dropped it to $4.95 a couple months back before it returned to $9.95. Don’t wait for this $1.99 offer to expire. It’s good.

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The most frustrating job at Google

After I posted about Philipp Lenssen’s poll of Blogspot blog’s, I thought: the guy who has to come up with a new “Blogs of Note” for Blogger’s dashboard every day must have the most frustrating job in the whole of Google. Half of the blogs he has to survey (and I reckon he must go through hundreds each day) is spam. Poor bastard.

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September 1, 2023 Web based news aggregator is a beta site that lets you create a publicly accessible webpage that shows news from all your favourite news sources — as long as they have an RSS feed. Right now doesn’t allow you to add just any feed (only the ones they’ve selected), but the existence of this service only highlights that people want to have a say in how they have news displayed to them. RSS may be hot, but it’s not how everyone wants to consume news. A significant portion of people just don’t want to use a feed reader for whatever reason and Web 2.0 engineers need to take notice.

This week, I made Macgregator, a webpage that aggregates news in Mac-related topics that I’m interested in. Although I judiciously use an RSS feed reader, I don’t want to constantly consume Mac news. Although I’ve been using a Mac for over a decade, I’m just not that interested in the latest and the greatest in everything Mac. I sporadically read Mac stuff from a few sources and I needed a way that lets me do it conveniently without having to bombard me with reminders of that I’m missing out. I want to consume some news when I want and if I want to — not when some robot tells me to. For me, that’s why sites like will have a place in the future.

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