Bart Simpson will always be 10 years old

bart_simpsonHere is the secret to the sustainability of The Simpsons: Bart Simpson will always be 10 years old.

At first, this statement seems a bit puzzling, but think about why other social media icons have fallen away. The Brady Bunch grew up, the kid from Two and a Half Men is now a teen-ager, Eddie from The Courtship of Eddie’s Father quickly grew older. The bane of shows that have kid stars is they get older quickly. But, Bart Simpson will always be 10 years old.

Mommybloggers have fallen into this trap because many of them build their audiences around themselves, their personal brand. They are in the minds of their audience, always a mom with kids of “a certain age.” But, while they tend to attract new moms, they themselves are getting older and their kids along with them. Yet, they are looked to for the same advice they were giving when they were struggling through new parenthood.

And many of these mommybloggers will not grow out of that “phase” because it took too much time, too much energy, too much of everything to get to where they are and they will hang on. To their audience, they will always be the mommy.

But they aren’t. They are older, their kids no longer need them to be “mommy.” And this will tear their world apart because they have built a solid brand around being “mommy.”

How we are all connected

Today, I heard from a long-time reader who emailed me just to let me know she was still reading and that she had been enjoying the blog ever since she first saw it.

Wow! Whenever I get an email like this, it is truly a humbling experience. Even though the DogWalkBlog gets lots of traffic, when a reader takes a few moments out of the day just to say she enjoys reading it touches. That is what blogging and Twittering and all this stuff is about; one touch, one moment.

I’m writing this immediately after looking at the pictorial spread in the Wall Street Journal. In a sea of 1.5 million people, photojournalists are able to pick out one genuine smile, one face full of hope and one little girl who gives her dad a “thumbs up” with an orange glove.

I aspire to be that lens. Always.

Why do we keep eating?

Why do we eat? The simple answer would be that if we did not eat, we would die. But that is not entirely true. Science can provide us with a pill we can take that would provide exactly the nutrition we need — no more, no less — to keep our bodies healthy. Yet, we resist the notion that a pill, taken three time a day, would replace daily meals.

….

Round up all the web geeks and pelt them with pebbles

I just spent the last hour of my life fighting with some CSS that works perfectly in Safari and MESI 7.0, but not in MSIE 6.0 or the “standards compliant” Firefox whatever version it is now. Since I am working pre-coffee, pre-office hours from a laptop on my kitchen table, I don’t have the luxury of checking out the site on a MSIE 6.0 browser. All I have is a really badly worded description of the problem, sent in an email by a very late Boomer who is using a language all her own to describe the issue.

Let me start by explaining I am very, very good at CSS, HTML, PHP, Perl, MySQL, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and a whole host of stuff that has long been discontinued. I have been in the Internet and Web game since 1995 so I think it is fair to say I know what I am doing and have employed a pretty sizable library of fixes, kludges, hacks and plain ol’ cheats to make stuff work on a Web site. I can read, write and design. Don’t even start assuming I’m an idiot or unknowledgeable. You would be very, very wrong.

In some circles, I would be considered a geek. But in mine, I am a User Interface Designer. My job — some would say my obsession — is to make the interaction between the human and the machine seamless and intuitive. If training is needed, the system is too complicated. At least that is the ideal.

I have lost more time, brain cells and sleep to the hubris of geeks than any other tech-related issue. I am convinced the only reason that we have browser discrepancies with CSS, HTML, etc is because the geeks were in charge and they did not have the skills to play nice with each other or anybody else. They looked down at the user because they weren’t as smart, because they didn’t get it. And, they looked down at each other because each one was more right than his peer.

What if each company making street lights decided on a different order of the red-yellow-green? Of, decided that the colors were way too boring and decided purple-pink-magenta would be better. Or, what if they decided that light were just not good and they used coo-coo clock birdies instead? And imagine if a different signal was installed on each street corner. But, the wrinkle is that each user was able to choose which signal he/she liked best for that day, for that corner? What a mess!

So, now we have this mess of browser technologies that don’t play well with each other. For every hour I have to spend on the phone or email, explaining why MSIE 6.0 is a piece of crap, I would like to invoice Microsoft. And, in all fairness, Microsoft should take that invoice payment out of the paychecks of any geek who decided that their way was better. Let them live with the consequences of the mess their hubris created. Apple and Mozilla, you’re not off the hook either.

I expect the geeks to either ignore this post or defend their position. I really don’t give a crap which they do because today, I woke up as a fully frustrated user who doesn’t care to hear another excuse about why your way is better. I am no longer a developer; I will be a user first. If I have to fight with it, I ain’t gonna use your technology.

Standards are good. Community-agreed conventions keep use from wasting time. Pay attention to the user, geeks and peek out from your self-induced world every once in a while.

And quit going to geek conventions where everyone validates your opinion about the user. They’re wrong; we’re not stupid. We just have lives where technology is a tool, not an ends.

Some things I know

I just got done speaking with an American Express rep to pay my bill. I had to call them because I missed the bill pay window between 3:00-7:00am where their web site will actually work to pay my bill.

It got to think about stuff I “know” to be true, even though other dogs swear they aren’t having the same problems.

I KNOW the Amex web site will not work during business hours.

I KNOW the Chase drive-through will make me wait for hours after 2:00pm on Fridays.

I KNOW the shake machine at the Burger King in Englewood will be broken.

I KNOW Time Warner will not really send someone out between the hours of 8:00-12:00am and I should just set aside an entire day.

I KNOW the only flights that ever leave on time from the Dayton International Airport are the first one and the last one of the day.

I KNOW any rental car company will not have a sub compact car available when I arrive.

I KNOW I will not be able to get out of Meijers without waiting in line at the register, even though I will have found everything I needed.

I KNOW my cell phone bill will never be what I was told when I signed up for the plan.

I KNOW the latest gadget I bought will not be compatible with anything else I own.

I KNOW that “no assembly required” really does require assembly.

I KNOW the directions someone just gave me that includes the phrase “you can’t miss it” will not actually get me where I’m going.

I KNOW portable electronic devices will have a 50lb power brick attached to the cord.

What else do YOU know that customer service reps tell you never happens to other people?

Contributed:
@Eva_Abreu via Twitter: I know that I’ll press 3, then 6, then 2, then hold for 13 min. only to get disconnected!

Not entirely an accurate analogy on Net neutrality

Found this analogy about Net neutrality and depite its convincing face, it is not entirely accurate.

Say there was no deal cooked up between Telus and the big pizza chain and everyone was competing equally. But, the local pizza place decided it would make a really delicious, super-duper pizza that everyone wanted, but was not going to pay Telus for extra capacity for phone calls to come in to the shop. They had one line and people could reach them, they claimed.

Moreover, the local pizza chain demanded that Telus install additional lines at no cost to them so they could deliver their extra super delicious pizza that everyone was clambering for. “Pizza should be available to all who want it!” was the battle cry of the pizzeria and their customers.

Yet neither the pizzaria nor their customers were willing to pay extra for the additional phone lines to be installed. “Telus should provide those for free! They MUST be anti-pizza!” came the sequel to the battle-cry.

I am not anti Net neutrality. In fact, a lot of my tax money went to establishing the Internet and without that seed money, the Net would not exist. Nor am I pro Net neutrality. I fight all the time to establish value for web sites we develop that people think should be a free service.

I don’t know the answer, but I know analogies like the one published is not a complete picture of the issue.

Originally published on: GerardMclean.com

What would you do if you had $1 million dollars?

Dear President-elect Barack Obama;

I am a small business owner. I do quite well for myself as I am in a knowledge-based business servicing the youth sporting market and the retail services industries. I also dabble a bit in coffee and Web 2.0 consulting.

I was running some numbers this afternoon on the bail-out plans that have been proposed to date. As I look back on my college days some 20 plus years ago and my classes in English Literature — specifically with regard to American literature of the mid to late 1800s (Hawthorne, Dreiser, Meliville, etc) — I was struck with what is to me a strangely obvious fact. Modern capitalism has run its course and the current financial crisis is the front wave of a new economy.

At its basics, capitalism is providing money to build infrastructure for making goods and to a certain degree, providing services with the promise of a return on its sale or sale of the goods produced. Having been in a service industry all my life, I am not unaccustomed to “cramming” a product economic model (“making widgets”) into a service model. It really doesn’t work but we lied to ourselves just the same.

This country no longer makes things. We provide services; we assemble components. The old capitalist model where we invest in machinery, buildings, factories, etc for making goods is dead. It has been dying for a very long time. As such, funding the economy from the top down is not a viable option. There will be no trickle-down benefit as the economy will only swell and move if the bottom tiers start spending and buying goods and services. Yet, they can’t because they have no ready cash.

Capitalists talk in billions of dollars. Ordinary citizens talk about hundreds each week. Investment banks talk millions in transaction per day. Small business talks about hundred of thousands in revenue. When you pour $700 billion into Wall Street, it is like dumping a gallon of water into the Pacific Ocean. When you pour $1 million into a small business, it is like filling a bathtub with a fire hose.

Here is my proposal:
– Establish a fund of $400 Billion dollars.
– Give $1 Million dollar grants to 400,000 business that are ready, able and willing to provide services to a service-based economy.
– Each business can then afford to hire 6 people at a salary of $40,000. With health care, taxes, equipment, etc. that should equal about $60,000 investment for each employee.
– That leaves about $640,000 left for materials, computers, advertising, marketing, etc.
– Encourage a strong multi-generation team, such as Gen Y, Xers, Boomers and beyond. Working together, we make a difference we all want to experience.

That puts about 2.4 Million people to work, building knowledge centers for teachers, creating software to better manage health care systems, providing new event marketing systems for brands, creating better time balance management systems for new parents, perhaps even finding a cure for some diseases. The infrastructure of services you will jump-start will sustain itself well past the year the US Government will fund.

Your campaign proved the model. Small amounts of money spread across millions of people who are motivated to creating a better world than was left them works. We are ready, willing and able to make the change.

Lead us and help us say, “Yes, we can” one small voice at a time until it becomes a thunderous, mighty roar.

Warm regards,

G.

PS I look forward to seeing the new puppy Malia and Sasha pick out!