Entries from Jul 2008 ↓

FCKEditor’s ShowBlocks Feature ROCKS!

FCKeditor ShowBlocks Feature

FCKeditor ShowBlocks Feature

The other day I wrote about how I was using Dean’s FCKeditor Plugin for Wordpress to solve the problems with WordPress’ default TinyMCE editor eating my hand-coded HTML tags.  Well Joe Banks left a great and detailed comment giving several tips including one about the ShowBlocks button. Unfortunately the default comment system in WordPress ate part of his comment so I couldn’t see what he was talking about and went exploring. 

Well it turns out he was right; ShowBlocks is awesome!  It shows the <p> tags, the <div> tags, and more. Check the screen shot above to see a larger version.

Joe Banks forgot to include his blog URL on his comment (or at least I think he forgot), but I was able to dig it up via a quick google.

Atlanta Web Entrepreneurs learn Email Marketing

Ben Chestnut of MailChimp taking Q&A

This month at the Atlanta Web Entrepreneurs meetup group I organize we hosted two sharp email marketing professionals: Sandi Karchmer Solow of I Send Your Email and Ben Chestnut, co-founder of Mail Chimp, a successful Atlanta-based Email Service Provider. Sandi presented Email Marketing 101 to the group, and Ben regaled us with his story of how MailChimp came to be.

Sandi Solow on Email Marketing

Sandi gave us a really great base level of overview of the email marketing landscape and explained how its critical to correctly opt-in your subscribers and to give them exactly what they asked for, and only what they asked for. Otherwise you loose trust and the fallout is worse than anything you could gain. Oh, and Sandi was a real trooper to speak this month because she’s about seven months pregnant. So good luck to her and her soon-to-be-newborn.

As for MailChimp, evidently it was a side project that Ben and his partner’s web consulting company implemented to keep a client who wanted them to manage his email broadcast from hassling them, but they didn’t fully embrace it as their primary offering until many years later. And the month after they fully embraced it their revenue exceeded every prior month’s revenue they’d seen life-to-date for their business! Ben told us how MailChimp has a focus on simplicity and when we reviewing his prices we found MailChimp to be very price competitive, especially for email lists of less than 100 which they send for free!

Details count!

Now most marketers have heard of ExactTarget before but many may not have heard of MailChimp, and based on MailChimp’s low pricing, it simple-to-use interface and its fun and irrerevent name, many people might think that MailChimp is only for businesses with tiny email lists. But most in the audience including myself were shocked to learn that they have successfully delivered some of the largest email broadcasts in the industry!  Ben told us about a major software launch announcements where they sent out millions of of emails in just about 30 minutes! (Ben said the client asked never to be named but believe me, it was major!)

What was especially interesting was when member/attendee Jason Prance mentioned during Q&A that he’d been using both MailChimp, for personal projects, and ExactTarget for a 100,000 name work mailing list, and that he loved the former and really disliked the latter. He then said if he had his druthers he’d be using MailChimp for work but couldn’t switch without re-opting in and loosing probably half his subscribers. To this Ben replied that all he’d need to do is provided his ExactTarget reports showing them being a responsible emailer and then he could easily move his 100k list to MailChimp. Sold!

Email Marketing for Atlanta Web Entrepreneurs

Anyhoo we had a great time, enjoyed learning about email marketing, and look forward to future Atlanta Web Entrepreneur meetups. Oh, and I want to thank both Sandi and Ben for taking the time to make such a memorable evening for us.  It really is great to have such nice people who are willing to help their peers and who are offering such worldclass services so reasonably priced, all here in our hometown of Atlanta GA. Go Atlanta!

Visit Flickr to see all photos I took for this event.

P.S.: This was NOT a paid endorsement for MailChimp. We invited Ben to speak about MailChimp because one of our members that we really respect recommended him very highly. Plus Ben turned out to be a really great guy and there were actually several members in attendance who already use his service and love it. Evidently, MailChimp really kicks ass!

Intense Debate Error Message

Gotta love this error message I got when trying to set a password that was "too long" on Intense Debate:

Will the Future bring Bluetooth Proximity Marketing?

Just Say NO to Bluetooth Proximity Marketing

Photo by Nemo’s great uncle

Several months back we had a meeting on Leveraging Mobile Apps for your Web-based Business at Atlanta Web Entrepreneurs and on the topic of mobile push marketing the consensus of the attendees was overwhelmingly “Don’t you even think about it, or I’ll end up ramming my mobile device far, far up someplace you’d really it rather not be.” Or something like that. Soon after I made a comment on Douglas Karr’s blog  on his post about bluetooth proximity marketing saying exactly that.

Well I just noticed that Michael Katz of AdMarkTech.Com posted a response entitled Do We Really Know What We Want? where he takes the position that bluetooth proximity marketing is less intrusive that television advertising because when watching TV you are not "in the shopping zone."  He then posits that:

"Maybe Bluetooth proximity marketing seems more intrusive than other forms of mainstream advertising because we’re just not conditioned to be approached while we shop."

He then claims that (with emphasis mine):

 "bona fide Bluetooth proximity marketing campaigns, similar to contextual vertical advertising platforms, are no different to television commercials"

And he summarizes with:

"The capabilities of two way push, receiving surroundings based information, on-the-spot offers and the ability to instantly reject or to receive based on Bluetooth activation preference, Bluetooth proximity marketing is actually less intrusive and potentially more helpful than television advertising."

Maybe.  But television advertising is not a fair comparison to bluetooth proximity advertising. First the TV viewer (or radio listener or magazine/newspaper reader or website viewer) makes a proactive choice to engage in a medium that they know is supported by advertising and that is part of an implicit pact where people gain content in exchange for attention. In the case of walking by a store, a person may or may not be in the frame of mind where they am ready to perform an attention exchange for an advertisement, and if they are not it is highly intrusive. Sure people could potentially be "conditioned" to accept it (shades of Apple’s 1984 campaign?) and he may be right, but I doubt it for the next reason.

There is a natural limit to advertising that can be inserted into content before people will no longer accept the exchange; only so much ad time on a TV or radio show, only so many square inches in a magazine or newspaper, and only so many square pixels close to valuable content available on a web page.  In the case of bluetooth proximity marketing it’s likely a person walking down a mall will be inundated with ads; literally tens if not hundreds in a short period, and that is far more than anyone can process.

In my opinion that’s a major reason why people hate email spam; that it overwhelms them. If we could somehow configure the number of commercial emails we’d get per day, and we could have them filtered by our preferences I think we’d be happy to get "unsolicited" commercial email. But there is no moderation on on spam, and without moderation on bluetooth proximity marketing it will just be another form of spam, only even more offensive because the devices are smaller.

Can there be moderation on bluetooth proximity marketing?  Ads on TV and radio, for example, come in series. Bluetooth proximity marketing would comes in parallel as does spam, and with nothing to moderate it. One possible way to moderate would be for governments to set up regulatory agencies to manage and meter access to said marketing but that sounds like a cure worse than the disease. Another potential way would be gatekeeping companies to control who can broadcast bluetooth proximity marketing messages to their subscribers and who cannot, and people would subscribe based on who does the best job of filtering. But I think a lot of visionary people in very powerful and competing positions would have to come together to make such a network of gatekeeper possible, and I just don’t see it happening.

Bluetooth proximity marketing is a typical example of how most people spend too much time on what they want and too little time creating value. Michael’s post title (Do We Really Know What We Want?) is a great example of that.  It sounds to me that Michael is asking "How can we convince people to want what we want?" That is wrong-headed, we should instead be thinking "What do they want, and how can we make a business to give it to them?"

Here’s a product I know people will really want instead; something that blocks all bluetooth proximity ads from ever reaching their mobile device.  Now that is a product of tomorrow that will be in VERY HIGH demand!


Twitter URL = Universal Person Locator (UPL)?

Universal Person LocatorI tried Twitter a year ago and either couldn’t "get it" back then, or I was just mentally, philisophically or logicistically in the wrong place to appreciate it. But I recently started Tweeting and all of a sudden I am seeing real value in it and am also seeing how so many others who still are not using it could see value in it too!. And to slightly paraphrase an old saw, "There are none so evangelical as the recently converted…"   ;-)

But rather than blog my full thoughts on Twitter right now I just want to ponder the following; if a web page can have a URL a.k.a. Universal Resource Locator (or for w3c purists, a URI), shouldn’t we establish a Universal Person Locators, for people, or "UPLs" for short? 

I’ve actually pondered this question numerous times in the past as I contemplated one of my many web entrepreneurial ideas.  In one context I’m lucky; there are very, very few people in this world whose name is "Mike Schinkel", and the few I’m aware of are not at all active on the web so I pretty much "own" the "MikeSchinkel" as my universal person identifier.  I’ve so blanked the use of "MikeSchinkel" on the web that there is little change of anyone else actually wanting to use it lest they be confused with me (that is, unless they wanted to create that confusion. But that is another subject.)

But what about my friend David Cohen?  From him I understand that he has the opposite situation.  For him there are hundreds if not thousands of other David Cohens (to link but a few.) Poor guy; how does he get his name known for being him? But I digress.

Yes we can all have our own domain names, like I have http://mikeschinkel.com and my friend has http://davidcohen.com (can you believe he got that domain, with all that competition?!?), but so many people don’t have their own domain and for some people it takes more knowledge or effort then they are willing or able to invest. On the other hand getting a Twitter account is free to create and free to maintain and only requires 5 minutes and then occasional access to an Internet-connected computer which in the USA and most non-3rd world countries can be had at the library or an Internet cafe. Once a twitter account is created, that’s it; no one else can stake that claim. 

Now, thanks to some rather saavy engineers at Twitter and the brilliance of the underlying technology of the web (i.e. the URL) we now have what could potentially become the Universal Person Locator, at least within the subset of people are active on the web.  With someone’s Twitter URL you have a direct way to "locate" them. Minimally you can follow their updates, but for most Twitter users you can relatively easily contact them; just tweet them and most will reply. Just as importantly you can use someone’s Twitter user name and unambiguously refer to them by that unique identifier which behaves for people just like URLs behave for "resources" (i.e. web pages, PDF files, graphic files, .ZIP files, etc.)

Will Twitter ever make it’s way to effectively being the "Universal Person Locator."  Probably not for all people, but at least for the subset of people on Twitter, it is a really interesting piece of infrastructure to consider.  And if you don’t yet have a Twitter account, now’s the time to get one.

P.S. So can you guess my Twitter user name?  "MikeSchinkel", of course.   David Cohen’s Twitter user name?  "davidscohen"; Unlike with his domain name, "davidcohen" had already been taken on Twitter (by a duffus that’s not even using it!) before my friend David Cohen could grab it. Ah, such is life when resources are scarce.

Atlanta Drupal July 2008 Meetup with Pics

It’s summer so meetup attendance is naturally low, and though this month nobody had prepared a presentation in advance it was nice to get together and "shoot the shit" as they say.  Most of Atlanta Drupal’s usual suspects were there (Andrew Lunde, where were you? ‘-)

Atlanta Drupal Meetup Group Members July 2008

After the initial discussion which include planning for the Atlanta Drupal website and subsequent jaw-jacking, Kent Lester dominated the rest of the evening, as he often does (but in a good way!) with discussions of his module-heavy site "that contains no custom code" (or so he says… ‘-)  Damn if I can’t remember the URL (if I find it, I’ll update the post.)

Anyhoo, here are the rest of the pics:

WordPress as Wiki?

Interesting.  I guess my recognition of the similarity of WordPress’ new Revisions control to Mediawiki/Wikipedia was not unique.  Andrew Hyde proposed Wikify, as a plugin for WordPress to allow readers to revise posts for facts, spelling errors, et. al. Great idea. 

Of course it becaming popular would be a mixed blessing as we’d have yet another thing for which we’d need to manage spam. :-)

Time for WordPress 2.5… Oops, make that 2.6?

When I relaunched my blog site I went with v2.3 but did most of the work several months before I launched. When I had time to launch v2.5 was out but I decided not to delay launching again and just went with v2.3 with plans to upgrade to v2.5 as soon as I had time (I’m working with 2.5 on a client probject and it is much nicer.)

Tonight I saw that Douglas Karr had a nice simple visual upgrade tutorial to WordPress 2.5 so I was going to see if I could do it tomorrow. No sooner did I find his post than up popped a notice on Twitter about WordPress 2.6 (how will we ever keep up?!? :-)  Looks like I’ll be killing two birds with one stone, and hoping that the 2.6 upgrade will be as easy as Douglas made the 2.5 upgrade look.

Anyway, here’s a quick look at WordPress 2.6 from WordPress.org (note how it looks a lot like Mediawiki (Wikipedia) embedded into WordPress halfway through the vid):