A lot changes over a year.

I’m at the SFO airport enjoying my overpriced Firewood Cafe pizza and I felt the need to write a post I’ve been thinking about all month. I didn’t want to pay for the wifi since my layover isn’t that long so you’re getting my second mobile post via Opera mini (that’s my way of warning you about the bad spelling and typo’s to follow).

February marks 1 full year of blogging on NewCommBiz. I’ve actually been blogging off and on for 5 years or so I just never had a reason to stick with one for very long :)

(As proof and for a really good laugh I found an old blogspot -aka blogger- blog of mine. I wish I could remember the password so I can delete the damn thing. www.baroqueinboise.blogspot.com. I’ll have to check that later to make sure it’s right)

A lot has changed in the last year. When I started. A year ago I had just left the marketing agency I was a partner at to try something new. It didn’t workout and just as that wound down HP came knocking.

I was half way through my Executive MBA program a year ago and now I’ll graduate in May *big sigh*

Most of what I wrote about was theory or only tested on a limited basis. Today I turn those theories into action and have the luxury of building on those theories making them even better.

I had the pleasure of spending a lot of time this week with Anita Campbell of www.smallbiztrends.com and for some reason it really got me thinking about the future of this blog. I’m a pretty open guy when it comes to sharing my thoughts on new media (or anything for that matter) but there’s something I haven’t blogged about much (or as much as I’d like to): HP.

I’ve done some pretty mild posts from time to time about a campaign or something, but I haven’t really dug into some of the meaty stuff. There’s two reasons for that and I think I’ve worked them out in my head.

1 - I didn’t know how interested you would be in what I’m doing at HP. Sure HP’s a big company but I mostly deal with LaserJet and I don’t know about you but printers, in and of themselves, don’t get me real excited. What does excite me is what HP is able to do with new media to help our customers. I’m also focused on the SMB space now (which having been an SMB a few times really get’s me excited).

2 - the other reason is kind of two fold but boils down to the fact that I was still “adjusting” to corporate life.
A) I wasn’t working on a whole lot of stuff just yet so there wasn’t too much to write about.
B) I wasn’t really sure what the reaction would be to me being so public about not just what we are doing in that space but how we are doing it.

Really this is a long way of saying that moving forward your going to be seeing a lot more stuff about what I’m doing at HP and how I’m doing it. I actually have a whole post comming up about my 6 month assesment of HP. Stay tuned.

Your comments are the most valuable thing I get from this blog. It’s how I gauge if I’m on target or not so please feel free to always leave a comment or suggestion on what I can be doing better. And if you haven’t yet, be sure to subscribe to the RSS feed.

Other than that I wanted to thank all of you for sticking with me over the last year, and invite you to help me take this conversation to the next level.

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Random Thoughts 02/25/2008

Starting up: Hiring a ‘gray’ work force can reduce errors, increase efficiency | Starting Up | Idaho Statesman

tags: babyboomers, business, entreprenuer, ncb, outsourcing

  • I thought this was a fascinating concept ‘graysourcing’. As more and more babyboomers “retire” they aren’t really going to want to retire. I think we will see a huge uptake in hiring this experienced labor force instead of just outsourcing.
    - post by tacanderson


tags: agency, blueline, deadpool, ncb

  • lol.  I love what the guys did to the old site.  RIP

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The two most dangerous books in business

Influence: Science and Practice

Reading this book gave me the same feeling I hade when I read Anarchist Cookbook; like I was learning something I really shouldn’t. Robert writes the book from the perspective of how to avoid the traps of influence. It doesn’t take long to realize that in the wrong hands this book could be used for evil, or at least increased sales.

(I would also like to take this opportunity to apologize to any of my childhood neighbors who mysteriously found any damage to their personal property that I may have inadvertently caused and to anyone that I may in the future apply any undue influence to.)

One thing I did learn from reading the Anarchist Cookbook is that if you then take one very volatile chemical and apply it to one very sticky chemical you have homemade napalm.

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

Made to stick in contrast in no way seems dangerous and can be seen as having great potential for achieving a greater good (then again that’s what Teller and Ulam thought).

Made to stick in my opinion is a must read for any manager or leader. I think it should be required reading for anyone who has to ‘pitch’ their idea.

If you are a change agent in your organization (or want to be) you have to read these books. The combined effects of these two books is sticky influential ideas at the emotional or almost subconscious level. Basically it’s the ability to drive change in your organization (or at the very least the ability to become the dictator of a third world country).

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Random Thoughts 02/20/2008

Cockburn Affirms: Use Cases Rule for Agile! | Tyner Blain

tags: ncb, scenarios, usecase, user

  • While this article is about software I found it really interesting because I’ve been talking about use cases, scenarious and personas almost interchangably when I talk about using them for marketing campaigns. I need to take a closer look at these examples and see how they apply to marketing.
    - post by tacanderson

Auburn Journal : AP Stories

tags: diy, geek, make, ncb

  • Ok, I was just feeling cool abuot myself because I installed Ubuntu on my laptop and then I read this story about a bunch of geek MacGyvers.”What do you do when you’ve bolted a computer onto a remote-controlled
    car, hooked it up with Internet access, a wireless router and a camera
    but you don’t have anyone to show it off to?”
    - post by tacanderson

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The tools I use to manage 6 blogs

Over the course of the last year I have myself with 6 blogs. That doesn’t include Twitter, StumbleUpon, Diigo and MySpace, all of which have some sort of “blog” functionality. In order to keep consistent content flowing to each of these blogs I’ve found a variety of essential tools. In this post I thought I would do a blog tool round up of how I use each tool for each of my blogs.

The Blogs

This blog, NewCommBiz, is a self hosted WordPress blog. This is what I consider my main blog and am very happy with WordPress.

TechBoise is a blog experiment I’ve had for almost a year now and is dedicated to techies and tech companies in the Boise area. It’s also a self hosted WordPress blog although I’ve been thinking about switching it to Drupal (like I said it’s an experiment).

After starting at HP I started an internal blog, which uses Roller. The interesting thing about this internal blog community is that the platform is managed completely by HP volunteers. I think they are transitioning to WordPress MU this year. Since I obviously can’t link to this one I thought I would give you a little peak. I use this blog when I want to elaborate on a point as it pertains to HP and may sometimes include HP sensitive information. Often times though I use it to repost my NewCommBiz posts so I can share them with others at HP. Usually I changes the posts to make them a little more HP focused.

I recently launched an HP blog dedicated to helping the small and medium business with their marketing and marketing material called Marketing Impressions, it’s on HP’s platform which I think is an old .net platform. It will be upgraded soon but the new platform is still under debate. Unfortunately this is the one blog I have that I can’t use any of these blog tools with. I’m hoping the new platform will have more expanded functionality.

I have this need for mobile blogging and while I have experimented with Opera Mini and it does work in a pinch, email blogging is so much easier and the best way I’ve found to do tht is on Blogger. I use a free blogger account for 3rd Medium, a blog I only post to with my Blackberry and Gmail.

And finally I have tacanderson.com for which use a Tumblr blog to aggregate all of my external blogs in one place. The Tumblr platform doesn’t allow for commenting, so it works perfect for aggregating summaries of the external blogs.

The Tools

Widows Live Writer - If you run Windows and you blog and for some reason you don’t use Live Writer stop what you’re doing after you finish reading this go grab this incredible and free tool from Microsoft. Windows Live Writer is an offline blog editor that makes turning out stunningly formatted blog posts a breeze. The WYSIWYG editor in WordPress is good but Live Writer makes it so easy. You can configure Live Writer to post directly to your post when you’re done.

I use Live Writer to post to this blog, TechBoise and my internal blog. When I have these longer, more time consuming posts I always write them in Live Writer. I don’t have to worry about losing my Internet connection and saving posts as I go along. It also makes posting pictures a snap.

ScribeFire - ScribeFire is a FireFox extension that allows you to blog right from your browser. If you run FireFox and you blog make sure you grab this. If you blog and you don’t use FireFox, what’s wrong with you go grab it now. Unlike Live Writer ScribeFire will work on Windows, Mac or Linux, since it runs in FireFox. ScribeFire is super easy to use, just highlight some text and then right click the little icon in the bottom of your browser. ScribeFire opens up a split screen with the text and a hyperlink already inserted.

Like Live Writer, ScribeFire posts directly to your blog when you’re done. I use it to post to this blog, TechBoise and my internal HP blog. It doesn’t have near the formatting capabilities that Live Writer has but it is much better for quick posts when I don’t want to leave my browser and open up a new application. I also use it when I want to blog from laptop running Ubuntu or from the Mac Mini.

Diigo - Diigo is a social book marking service like Del.icio.us but on steroids. Anything Del.icio.us does, Diigo takes it several steps beyond. The only problem is that Del.icio.us got in early and grabed most of the market. Long term if Yahoo doesn’t do something more with Del.icio.us I think Diigo could easily take them. One of my favorite features of Diigo and it’s actually why I started using Diigo again is it’s Daily Blog Post tool. Many of you may know that Del.icio.us will let you post your tags to your blog. The only problem is that it’s an all or nothing approach; all of your publics book marks get posted each day. What if I don’t want my bookmarks about a new Boise based tech company to be posted to this blog, or my bookmark about how to use MediaWiki plug-ins to go to my TechBoise site or my bookmark of some new indie band I found on MySpace to go to either site? Too bad. Unless you use Diigo. Diigo let’s you post certain tags to certain blogs. Simple right?

So far I have only used the Diigo Daily Blog Post tool for this blog but I recently set it up for TechBoise as well. It’s slightly more difficult to set up than Live Writer or ScribeFire and I haven’t been able to figure it out for my internal blog. I think that’s because Roller isn’t supported and I’m hoping that once they make the move to WordPress MU I’ll be able to use it there.

Digg - What? Digg to blog with? Digg has a little used ‘Blog It’ feature in their system and I’ve only used it once but I plan on using it more. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Email - There are so many times I want to crank out a quick blog post. I’m usually out and about. It’s something that’s right off the top of my head. It’s a short idea but longer than 140 characters so I can’t use Twitter. I don’t want to open up my laptop. I could use Opera Mini but if I could just send an email from my phone it would be perfect. WordPress does have the capability to blog with email, but it’s not something simple as setting up a plug-in, it actually requires some routing work from your email server. Enter Blackberry+Gmail+Blogger.

3rd Medium marks my return to blogger. Years ago I used blogger, back when it had limited functionality and before I discovered WordPress. Blogger has gotten much better and as other Google apps get more integrated with Blogger it’s going to be hard to justify not having a Blogger account. While all of the tools mentioned above could be used with Blogger I currently only use it for sending an email from Blackberry using Gmail. By nature this will be a more random blog, think Twitter unleashed. I use it when I have random thoughts and I’m out and about. I see using it at conferences when I want have to blog something but can’t or don’t want to break out the laptop. The formatting gets kind of messed up, I don’t have spell check on my phone and it’s on the fly so it’s probably not something anyone many people will want to read. It’s really more of a release for me.

Blogs to blog - Technically the blogs themselves also become a blog tool. Many people have blogged about Tumblr and how to use it for a life stream. They pull their blog, bookmark, shared items and Twitter feeds all into Tumblr. I use it to aggregate this blog, TechBoise, Marketing Impressions and 3rd Medium into one place. I still have room to add one more blog (by default Tumblr only lets you aggregate 5 feeds although you can request more).

Did I miss anything? What cool tools do you use? Do you use any of these? Which ones are your favorite?

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Random Thoughts 02/19/2008

Reaching for the Sky Through The Compute Clouds - ReadWriteWeb

tags: amazon, cloud, computing, ncb

  • ReadWriteWeb does a great job of explaining what exactly Cloud Computing is.  Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock you’ve probably heard the term recently and if you haven’t, get used to it, you’ll hear it a lot.

    Especially as the Web becomes more mobile, cloud computing will become ever more important. 

    Amazon’s S3 outage demonstrates the limitations in the cloud and, for me, demonstrates why some sort of distributed Cloud/Host system will always be required for apps. 

     - post by tacanderson

Join Me in San Diego on February 26 » Small Business Trends | small business experts

tags: events, hp, ncb, smb

  • I’m speaking at a workshop the day after this one in San Diego with Anita Campbell and was planning on attending this one as well.  if you’re in the neighbourhood you should stop by.
     - post by tacanderson

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Sometime’s it sucks being ahead of the curve

In my previous post on Death of an Agency. I pointed out *one* of the major flaws in our business plan is that we were too far ahead of the market (especially for being in Boise). Pretty much all of my life I’ve been ahead of the curve.

Usually those of us that are early adopters enjoy being out ahead. We like the wild frontier and if everyone else is doing something, we’re bored with it. It’s just the way we are. And you have it for everything; music, fashion, business, technology.

But sometimes it sucks being ahead of the curve. Your favorite indie band sells out. EVERYONE in the hipster coffee shop has the same white laptop you had last year. Your favorite skate clothing brand starts selling in the mall and being bought by a bunch of stupid jocks… but I digress.

There’s an interesting new report from Forrester by Peter Kim that addresses what the future agency will look like. Not only does it point out trends that many of you reading my blog are already aware of but takes it a step further to identify how agencies need to adapt.

It really is a great report and I still have to wrap my head around all of the implications. The one thing it did tell me though was that BlueLine was *trying* to be a 2013 agency in a 2007 world.

Being Peter Kim: The Connected Agency

The executive summary of the research: Today’s agencies fail to help marketers engage with consumers, who, as a result, are becoming less brand-loyal and more trusting of each other. To turn the tide, marketers will move to the Connected Agency — one that shifts: from making messages to nurturing consumer connections; from delivering push to creating pull interactions; and from orchestrating campaigns to facilitating conversations. Over the next five years, traditional agencies will make this shift; they will start by connecting with consumer communities and will eventually become an integral part of them.

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Random Thoughts 02/12/2008

Feature: Run Your Personal Wikipedia from a USB Stick

tags: ncb, portable, wiki

  • This is a very cool idea.  I’ve been running FireFox off of a U3 drive for a while and I love it.  I love the idea of a personal wiki.  I wonder if you could do this with your own personal WordPress install?  I imagine you could.  I especially love the video that shows you how to write a book using a wiki.  This tutorial gives you the quick crash course in wikitext markup (think basic HTML but just for wiki’s)
     - post by tacanderson

Debut of GPhone Prototype - Seeking Alpha

tags: android, google, mobile, ncb, samsung

  • I can’t wait for the Open Source hacks of Androitd to make their way out there.  How long do you think it will be before theirs an aftermarket Android platform for older Blackberry’s?  Especially with companies like Verizon *opening* up their networks.

    We saw how eagerly people hacked the iPhone.  And with all the old smart phones on the market I think we’ll see Android do to smart phones what Ubuntu’s been doing to PC’s.

     - post by tacanderson

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Web Design for ROI - A Book Review

How I came to get a copy of Web Design for ROI: Turning Browsers into Buyers & Prospects into Leads is really a great example of the social graph at work.

Lance Loveday was looking for some bloggers to read and review the book he co-authored with Sandra Niehaus (apparently first time authors are completely responsible for the marketing of their books). Our mutual friend Shane Vaughan over at Balihoo, knowing I’m an avid reader, recommended that Lance should ask me. To complete the circle Shane is married to fellow HP blogger Tanya Vaughan, who uses Lance’s agency Closed Loop Marketing. After reading his great book I now see why.

I was really amazed with the content in this book. I’ve read several books on search marketing, usability, design and general web marketing but this was the first one that has pulled it all in to one concise book. I’ve read books twice as long that haven’t covered half as much.

While this book isn’t meant for a complete newbie to the web I would recommend this book for web savvy first time web marketers. But don’t think that this book is a beginner book. An adventurous young entrepreneur could run an entire consulting practice just by following the steps in this book and still feel comfortable that they were providing real value to their clients.

In fact I was very surprised at the completeness in this book. Most books written by agencies or consultants give you just enough of a taste to understand the principles but don’t actually give you enough knowledge to go off and do it yourself. I really applaud the thoroughness in Web Design for ROI.

Lance and Sandra walk you through each section of the site from landing pages, home page, shopping carts and everything in between as well as break down the unique problems for each page and how to fix them.

They have working sections where you can actually apply what it is they are teaching as well as actual examples with screen grabs.

My absolute favorite part of the book though was the metrics section. They show you how a little effort on single sections of your site can have a greater effect than just dumping more money into driving traffic to an inefficient site.

Their approach is amazingly simple and even a number challenged marketer like myself can use it. I’ve even started using those metrics when I make presentations to my managers and let me tell you, managers (or clients) love seeing numbers. It makes it so much easier to sell your initiative when you have some simple numbers to show them.

If you do web marketing of any kind, for your own site, for clients or for your company get the book right now, I promise you’ll be thanking me.

Still not convinced? Check out their site and blog www.WD4ROI.com for more resources, work sheets and samples of the book.

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Aaron of CanGoogleHearMe is on his way to California

I just got off the phone with Aaron and he’s really excited (and nervous I’m sure). I’m really excited for Aaron and his team for three reasons:

  1. It’s a great story and a great adventure. A boy, an idea and the determination to try.
  2. He’s a local entrepreneur. Boise doesn’t get a lot of high profile tech startups (especially in the web space), so it would be nice if Aaron makes it big.
  3. He’s just a really nice guy. There’s really no other way to say it. You talk to him and you realize that he’s just one of those genuinely nice guys.

Good luck Aaron.

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