Friday, November 30, 2007

RIP Evel Knievel--A Real American Bad Ass

America has lost a legend. Forget toupee-wearing, born again Chuck Norris and his fake movie punches-Evel was a true American tough guy.

If you doubt it. Check out this video--one of the greatest pieces of video of all time.

Need more proof? From the New York Times.....

In 1977, Mr. Knievel was convicted in California of beating his former press agent with a baseball bat and sentenced to six months in a jail. The agent, Sheldon Saltman, had written a book that Mr. Knievel felt had treated him unfairly.

Ah yes, a guy who just hauls off and beats down a flack. Many have thought it, but so few have followed through.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Google's "RE < C" is < Smart

UPDATE: As of today (December 1st), it seems you CAN search for (the name of the initiative) on Google and Google Blog search. However, it still returns nothing on Google News.

The week,, the philanthropic arm of Google, announced a new initiative to promote renewable energy. Worthy enough endeavor, but they inexplicably saddled the initiative with what has to be the worst brand name in recent history.... RE <C.

The first and most obvious problem is that typing "<" keeps messing with my html. It is a pain to fix.

You can't pronounce it: I was going to list various ways to pronounce it, but couldn't even get started.

It's the wrong message: Google says it stands for "Renewable energy is cheaper than coal." I read it as "Renewable energy is less than coal." Shouldn't renewables be greater than coal?

It has zero domain/url potential: bob@re< I don't think so.

You can't type it:
Quick-without looking try to find the "<" key.

Go ahead, try it. This is unbelievable to me.

It just _s the fact that some people need it #ed into their heads that that, @ most times, mixing PhDs and marketers is "<" ideal.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Maybe this will convince you to shut the F*** Up!!

I spend a lot of time on Amtrak commuting back and forth between Flack U.'s campus and exotic destinations like Metro Park and Framingham. Most of that time I spend on my laptop with my Sprint PCS card. I love the train, but it can get boring. Usually, there is at least one person on the train who sees no problem with sharing is cell phone conversation with everyone around him.

When the conversation sounds interesting, I play a little game to see how much I can find out about this person via Google based on the info they are giving out on their side of the conversation.

Yesterday, there was a guy behind me yammering away. The only two bits of info I had was that he was in the PR industry and the first and last name of an employee of his who just quit. It took about 3 minutes on Google and Facebook to find out that the "talker" is president of a PR shop in Florida, he used to be an editor at a major daily, where he lives, where he was born, and where he went to school, his favorite drink, plus a bunch of other stuff. We started chatting later and he began to tell me about himself. My eyes started to glaze over as I thought, "Dude, if you only knew what I know about you."

Good times.

iPhone = SpyPhone

Yeah, lame title, I know. So yesterday I was sitting at in the audience watching a panel discuss all things digital to a group of Wall Street Bankers. In front of me was was an exec of a not-to-be-named tech company. (hint: they are like Wikipidea, except that they are not). He was banging away on his iphone when I discovered a great new hobby when hanging around these trend setters--password stealing.

It turns out that the iPhone's "exploding letters" are not only useful for letting you know you've actually hit the right key but also makes it a snap for someone near you to steal your email and password. (see picture).

This rocket scientist's password? QWERTY. I guess that is easier to remember than asdfg.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Wii are the Future

I did something amazing today. After waking up, cracking open my morning Diet Coke, I ran a quick search on Google News to see if anything on my company had popped over night. Why is this amazing?

1. I did it on my living room sofa on my TV

2. I did it on a Wii.

3. Most importantly, I did it because it was the most convenient method of doing so.

I know I am late to the whole Nintendo Wii story, but it took me a while to get one. Yeah, the games are fun, but what really struck me is that Apple, Sony, and Microsoft have been trying for years to bring Internet connectivity into my living room. Whooda thunk it would gamer whipping boy Nintendo to make it happen.

I've followed the media center hoopla pretty closely, yet I still cannot find a compelling reason to take the plunge other than for the fun of setting it up (Yes, I consider that fun). Why would I want to either leave my PC on 24/7 or wait for the lengthy boot up times when I can just plug an SD card or my iPod into my plasma for photos, videos and music.

I should also note that the Internet set up was the EASIER than either my PC or my or PDA.

Internet browsing is by no means perfect, but it is the potential that should get people really excited. The people who scoff at the Wii Internet connectivity are probably already pretty heavy online users. Wii has a tremendous potential to reach an audience who tends to unplug when the day is done.

Here are my suggestions for Nintendo for the next-gen Wiis.

1. Partner with Google and ship with a Wii version of Google Earth. (The device SCREAMS for this).

2. Integrate a thumb-type keyboard into the remote.

3. Continue to evolve the opera browser.

4. Integrate News and Weather into one "globe" interface, and add additional

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The 4th Estate at its Finest

WTF is Up with Time Magazine?

This is absolutely ridiculous. The European cover story of the April 2nd edition of Time Magazine is about current Taliban activity in Afghanistan. Check out the cover.

What is the cover story of the US edition? "Why we should teach the Bible in public schools."

Insert your own joke, statement of outrage here.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

For another 25 cents, George Lucas will lick the stamp for you

George Lucas has reached a new level to squeeze, squeeze, cajole, eek every penny out of his Star Wars franchise. No, he hasn't released yet another "collectors edition" DVD set. This time he, unbelievably got permission to deface hundreds of US Postal Service mailboxes to hype a yet-to-be-released set of Star Wars stamps.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Google Gives Reprieve to Porn Surfers

Who doesn't wistfully look back to the early days of the Internet, when you dialed in to a local ISP from your home phone, used your real email address on, and stared at the screen for 10 minutes watching the progress bar in anticipation as you downloaded a jpeg of the cast of Baywatch. Well, in an effort to show that they are not THAT evil, Google has taken a small step towards masking our early Internet "curiosity."

Geek thumbs up

After my rant about the Hudson Hotel, I thought I would say something nice about something. Buy a Canon Pixma MP830 all-in-one printer. I got it in my home office and it rocks. You can find it for less than $250 on pricegrabber.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Hudson Hell: Possibly the worst hotel in NYC

UPDATE 3/15/07: Hotel Guy informs me that the over-priced youth hostel known as the Hudson Hotel is no longer an Ian Schraeger business, but is in fact owned by Morgans Hotel Group, Apologies to Ian.

On a recent trip to the Big Apple, co-worker got a rate for us at the Hudson Hotel. For those of you who are unhip, or actually have a modicum of common sense, the Hudson is one of coke-snorting felon Ian Schrager's properties. He has followed pretty much the same formula with all his hotels. It goes like this:

  1. Hire A-hole staff
  2. Dress them in black (remember they are hip)
  3. Redecorate a room that is the size of a closet with hip features like a funny looking sink
  4. Treat your guests like...unwanted guests. No phony hotel staff smiles here. You see, they are all HIP.
  5. Put a "hip" bar in the lobby and fill with the most desperately needy people since Sex and the City was on the air (of course, they shot a scene here).
  6. Ignore every amenity and service people look for in a hotel. Instead, bank on the fact that there are enough stupid insecure suckers out there who will pay top dollar not because they like the place, but are afraid if they point out that the emperor has no clothes, people might not think that they are hip.
Here is what a stay at the Hudson is like.

First, there is no sign out front to give you any idea that you are actually at the Hudson Hotel. Wow, that is soooo hip.

Imagine it is freezing cold outside and you are lugging a heavy suitcase. Because of the wicked winds, you can barely open the glass door that stands between you and all that hipness. You have to put your suitcase down and use both hands to open it. But get this, not one, but TWO A-hole doorman are standing right there!!! A-hole #1 is outside with you, and A-hole #2 is on the other side of the glass. "Let me explain the concept of DOOR MAN to you. That means you MAN THE DOOR!!!" They just stand there with their arms folded in front them, trying to look like they are part of Snoop's posse. One actually turns his head and looks at me. I could tell he was deciding whether he should actually open the door for me, but I guess he decided that action would detract from his thug hipster posing. "YOU ARE A F****ING DOOR MAN!!!" (although he probably tells people he works "security at the Hudson Hotel").

So you drag your suitcase onto an escalator that, judging by some of the other guests I saw, is way to narrow for a hotel. Note to Ian: people who stay in hotels sometimes have luggage.

You go to the front desk, but the music is so loud that you can barely hear the vapid check-in babe tell you that your Hudson card enables you to get into "all the hotel's facilities" (more on that later).

Up the elevator you go. After meandering down long, dark (re: hip) hallways you get to your room. I am not kidding when I say these rooms are small. I lived in Manhattan in the same neighborhood as the Hudson, so I know small, and these were smaallll. How small?

  • There is an almost queen bed in the middle and about 1.5-2 ft. of clearance around the bed.
  • The only way to actually see your full length in the full length mirror is to stand on the bed.
  • The bathroom is so small that the bathmat does not fit on the floor (I swear to God).

Don't believe me? Take a look at this VR tour from their site. Keep in mind they shot it with a fish-eye lens so it looks even bigger than it is. Notice anything missing? about a desk? Well, they had to take the desk out or otherwise there would not have been any room for them to turn around. It is not a desk really, just an Ikea-like shelf thing that was as deep as my laptop.

TV? In one of the cubby holes there is a crappy 11" portable on a pull out tray. Looks like a Radio Shack discount deal.

Wall outlets? I could only find one...and it was not underneath the "desk."

Oh, and lets not for get the light switches!! Very, very hip. After feeling up the lamp looking for a switch, I finally found what looks like a plastic toothpick sticking out of the base that you are supposed to toggle. Silly me. In my very unhip world, I am used to little knobs or pull chains to turn out the lights. I thought the battle was done, but it took me another few minutes that the decorative tassel on the headboard is actually the pull switch to turn off the accent lighting behind the head board. I felt like a rat in a Skinner box.

The Hudson Hotel Web site says that the wood-paneled rooms are "reminiscent of a private cabin on an upscale yacht." Laying on the bed, which was just a few inches off the ground, the experience is more like being in a coffin.

You can also see from the VR tour that the only thing between the bedroom and the shower is a glass wall. You can pull a curtain over it if you want, or you can feel like your are working a Times Square peepshow booth when you bathe.

So I go down to the bar for a drink. The Library bar is actually kind of cool....but there is no bar to sit at. Only comfy leather chairs arranged in conversation pits. Nice if you are with a group, but not when you are by yourself.

So I go to the main lobby bar. This is kind of funny. It is separated from the lobby by a glass wall, so you can stand OUTSIDE admiring all the hip beautiful people and longing for the day that your are cool enough to go INSIDE. Oh yeah, that's right, I am a guest at the hotel. So I go over to the velvet rope they have set up inside (again, everything I say here is true). I have on my typical travel clothes, a pair of cords and a casual button down shirt (which I untucked and folded back the cuffs on in a vain, last minute attempt to look hip). I walk up to the rope following a group of very young and very good looking people only to be stopped by A-hole #3. He asks for my hotel guest card! (so much for my attempts at posing). He first says my room key is not enough proof I am staying there, but he then relents and lets me in.

I won't bore you with the details of the bar itself. The dress code at the Hudson Hotel bar is the same as every other velvet rope joint in the city. Men: Dress and act like you can actually afford to be here. Women: Dress and act like a stripper on her day off.

I really hate places like this. There is always a self-congratulatory air about them-as if being deemed hip enough by the minimum-wage bouncer to get in and look at all the less hip people on the other side of the glass is reason enough to celebrate. The thing is, the entire hotel has that feel. I downed one way to expensive Martini (even for NYC) while a very obvious hooker tried to chat me up. Left there, called my wife, and went to Kennedy's, a great pub around the corner for a civilized Guinness.

So that is pretty much what you are in for at the Hudson Hotel. I could actually see the Library lounge and bar as a destination (if it is your style), but as a hotel, it is hell.

Monday, March 12, 2007

DC Ho Watch

The men in DC are already lining up their excuses as the DC Madam says she has turned over her client list "respected media outlet." Who wants to bet at least one client has a "legal pad fetish."

Friday, February 23, 2007

Bubba Banks the Big Bucks

Bill Clinton is rolling in dough. He deserves a "Guy Lifetime Achievement Award" for being able to charm the pants off of anyone from portly interns to investment bankers. Of course, the only one he hasn't been able to get through to is Hillary. From the looks of her site, you would never know that she was once married to the leader of the free world. Her campaign folks have branded her as "Just Hillary, thank you." A bold, yet risky move IMHO. On one hand, it steals the thunder from any "Obama for President" play. However, the great irony of Bubba is that the people closest to him are the ones who want to push him away. I guess in the ego driven world of politics, the shadow is just too big. If Al Gore had leveraged the Clinton charm, then the last 8 years could have been very different.

One final note on Hil. This NY Daily News editorial puts the whole "apologize for Iraq" issue in perspective. "

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Jet Blues

The best thing about commenting on companies' public relations work in response to a crisis is that we have the benefit of hindsight. Having been in PR for more years than I care to remember, I know how easy it is to point a finger and say "you shoulda done this."

By all accounts, however, Jet Blue's handling of the recent of the passenger hostage situation has been a disaster-up until now. Today, you can't turn on the TV without seeing CEO David Neeleman on the air doing what he should have done from the beginning-issuing mea culpas and telling passengers what they are going to do to make sure it doesn't happen again. It might be too little, too late, but they seem to be on the right track.

I compare Jet Blue's response with the other Fox-fodder of the past few weeks-namely the tale of diaper wearing murderous astronaut. NASA has a history of atrocious PR. However, I have to give them props for this one. Yeah, it does tarnish the whole "astronaut as superhero" mystique, but by most accounts, it hasn't really done as much damage to the space program that it could have. People seem to understand that this was the work of one whack job. What NASA did right was (fairly) quickly issue a statement of sympathy and followed that up with announced program reviews to better spot the psychos in the astronaut corp. (The one thing that was missing IMHO, was mandatory once a month counseling by non-NASA therapists to prevent this from happening in the first place.)

Monday, February 12, 2007

Top 10 Signs An Astronaut is Trying to Kill You

Courtesy David Letterman. Being an actual owner of a pen that writes upside down, I think #1 is particularly funny.

Top 10 Signs An Astronaut is Trying to Kill You

10. Says, "This is a giant leap for mankind" as she tosses you off a bridge.

9. You turn on CNN and see the Hubble Telescope focusing on your house.

8. She promises to "take you out like Pluto."

7. It sounds crazy, but you could swear Mars is following you.

6. You were on the "Maury" episode: "I Had a Booty Call and Now an Astronaut is Trying to Kill Me."

5. Her previous attempts to kill you have been postponed due to high winds.

4. She poisons your Tang.

3. Says she looks forward to being the first to walk on your lifeless corpse.

2. Been getting threatening e-mails from

1. She keeps stabbing you with a pen that writes upside down.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Apple and AOL: Separated at Birth?

Like everyone else, I was excited about the potential of the new iPhone. But when you look into the details, the potential problems appear. Consumer acceptance of the "soft" keyboard remains to be seen. Furthermore, Apple seems dead set on ensuring that any content to be used will only come from them. They are also risking losing any enterprise market by refusing to open up network sharing (who wants to carry two phones any more?). Recently, I also had a chance to dig deep into a new 80GB video iPod. While I like a lot of what it does, and damn, it is pretty, I have become frustrated with the lack of file sharing (you can't put iTunes song on your PC without a work around) and how you can't do something as simple as delete a song from your iPod without launching the maddening and intrusive iTunes software. As a dedicated Treo owner, I am used to flexibility to pimp my PDA as I see fit.

I started experiencing a bit of Deja Vu, seeing similarities between Apple and another pioneering tech company that underestimated the sophistication of users. I sincerely hope that Apple does not let history repeat itself, but look at the market path of AOL and Apple to date:

AOL introduces a breakthrough service that makes it simple for millions of users to get online.

Apple introduces a breakthrough product and service that makes it simple for millions of users to download and listen to music.

As users become more sophisticated, they start clamoring for more content, features, and a better online experience. Local ISPs, free content, and products like Netscape and Outlook start popping up. While they make the Internet experience more complex, moderately tech savvy users realize that these new tools and services enable them to do more online than AOL allows.

As users become more sophisticated, they start clamoring for more content, applications and a better online experience. Competing MP3s and online media content, 3rd party software, and hacks start popping up. While they make media sharing more complex, moderately tech savvy users realize that they can do more with their portable device than Apple allows.

AOL ignores the growing sophistication of users, the “open” Internet landscape and the advancement of competitors, instead relying on the “simplicity” of their proprietary service and market domination to drive growth by keeping their customers “captive.”

Apple ignores the growing sophistication of users, the “open” landscape of media sharing, the demand for 3rd party applications (GPS anyone?), instead relying on the “simplicity” of their design and market dominance to drive growth by keeping their customers hostage to Apple products and services.

AOL’s customer base becomes older and younger as users realize they can do more online better, faster cheaper without AOL. The once mighty pioneer AOL becomes a bloated, rotting dotcom whale carcass.

To be continued

Oh yeah, Steve Jobs has a secretary named Case. Steve Case has a secretary named Jobs.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

"Please state the nature of your VoIP emergency"

911 availability (or lack there of) used to be a factor with VoIP services such as Vonage. In response, the service providers have put in place a technically complex, but workable solution to guarantee 911 access for subscribers. I wonder how much the 911 system gets inadvertently tested by subscribers following Vonage's voicemail settings instructions for changing their PIN.

From the Vonage site.....

A. From Your Phone

  1. Dial into your voicemail account.
  2. Press 9 for Setup Options.
  3. Press 1 for Mailbox Setup and Greeting
  4. Press 1 for Change PIN.
  5. Enter a new PIN followed by the # key.
  6. Enter the new PIN again, followed by the # key to confirm.

What is this all about?

I pledge to adhere to the following Manifesto of Truths on this blog:

1. This blog will serve no other purpose than to provide an outlet for my pet peeves, cool things, deep thoughts and inconsequential musings about PR, technology, politics, or whatever else is on my mind.

2. No consideration will be made to enter content to try to appeal to a larger audience.

3. Comments are welcome. I may even read some of them.

4. The accuracy of any statements made here are a matter of chance.

5. This blog will be updated only when the mood strikes.