Saturday, December 30, 2006

Movies and the Fountain of Youth

-- Actor, Writer, Producer, Director -- is 58 years old. In spite of gerontological concerns, Sly has chosen to again portray the eponymous characters in Rocky Balboa (2006) and Rambo IV: Pearl of the Denture (2008). Dirty Little Secret: They had to make the boxing ring wheelchair accessible. As for Rambo, betcha didn't know his rations included Ensure.

63-year-old is reprising the lead in Indiana Jones 4: The Search for Metamucil (2008). By the way, Indiana Jones was voted the 2nd greatest hero of all time by the , just behind Atticus in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), according to the Internet Movie Database. The vote was cast long before the candles on Indiana's cake weighed more than the frosting.

Bad jokes and cliches aside, I wonder why a few older actors continue to secure unlikely roles. Are Sly and Harry so incredibly talented and charismatic that we are easily hypnotized into suspending our disbelief? Maybe.

And "what's up with these old farts continuing to indulge themselves as action heroes?," you ask. Well, if you had the money and leverage to defy stereotypes by convincing folks you were still in your prime, wouldn't you at least try? Hey, Cher's been doing it for years. I'm a Baby Boomer, too, but even I knew when it was time to stop wearing short skirts and low-cut tops.

Only by Hollywood standards can sexy granddads be seen magically leaping, punching and taking loads of physical abuse way past eligibility. Meanwhile, a ton of Americans don't have the means to get out of debt, let alone afford the air brushing, CG, soft focus, lighting tricks, editing, girdles, stunt doubles, personal trainers, make up, and plastic surgery it takes to convince others we're still studs and babes. I wonder -- just how many accommodations do actors and filmmakers have to make to maintain the fantasy?

I admit that certain movie roles are timeless. There are some characters we'll accept getting older, like Columbo, Matlock and Captain Kirk. But for action heroes? There is a physical reality.

At some point, audiences (or actors) either have to let these heroes go or face the truth in the most recent James Bond film. To maintain a story's credibility, younger actors eventually have to take over the action-packed roles. In Million Dollar Baby (2004), Clint Eastwood had the good sense to pass the physically-demanding torch on to someone else.

Sure, I'll probably go see these sequels and enjoy them, in spite of myself. Maybe it's because these old guys originated these roles. Maybe it's because I can't imagine anyone else playing Rocky or Indiana Jones. Or maybe it's because I still love these characters and predictable storylines for what they represent -- the belief that my generation is still young, even if it's only for 120 minutes.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Customer Care Is Alive at the Crowne Plaza Cabana

Customer Care Is Alive at the Crowne Plaza Cabana

Review of: Crowne Plaza Cabana Palo Alto, Hotels
By: Minced Media on Judy's Book
Rating: 5 stars
Read review on Judy's Book.

I've stayed at the Crowne Plaza Cabana in Palo Alto a few times because of its comfortable rooms, amenities, and convenient location near company headquarters. This trip, I had misplaced my hotel bill upon returning home. Nuts! It would be difficult to file my expense report without it.

"To the Web," I declared, quickly locating the hotel Web site. I emailed someone named Josephine with identifying details and requested a duplicate bill. Imagine my delight when I received a PDF copy of my bill attached to an less than an hour. Wow! I'm impressed.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Five Top Tips for Starting Your Business

1. Define your business by .
I'm amazed at how many people continue to start and/or operate a business without one. Then they wonder why they are failing. Guess what's more amazing. Business owners who think they can attract investors without this important step.

2. Find a mentor or two.
You can ask an old buddy or call a local office of S.C.O.R.E. or a Small Business Development Center. from a veteran in your field. You really need someone to be honest enough to "smack you up the side of the head" when you are out of touch with your market. Check your ego at the door and get an expert's help.

3. Get business insurance.
We are such a litigious society, that it's become a requirement of doing business. You're a consultant and you think you don't need it? Come on! Who knows how someone will interpret your omission of key information, even if it occurred after the fact? Cover yourself. Get insured.

4. Network, network, network.
Join the local Chamber, business clubs and national associations. No one ever became rich in a vacuum. No matter what your age, gender or business model, you need to listen to and talk to others to bounce ideas and share resources. Besides, you'll save yourself a ton of legwork if you know who and what to ask. And you might even find a future business partner. Imagine that!

5. Share your knowledge with others.
Give back to the community. Speak at conferences and local business meetings. Spend time with an undergraduate business student or even a high schooler involved in Junior Achievement. It's what good citizens do. If you can't do it for others, do it for yourself. You never know when someone you help today will be in a position to help you tomorrow.

Want more ideas? Visit JumpUp, a new site for small business owners and start-up entrepreneurs. It's operated by Intuit, makers of Quicken, QuickBooks and TurboTax. I work for Intuit on the JumpUp team. Visit my JumpUp profile for some helpful links under "My Saved Bookmarks."

Friday, December 22, 2006

The "Starting a Business" Blog Carnival

I've just launched a Blog Carnival related to my current project at Intuit -- JumpUp is a Web site dedicated to helping small business owners and start-up entrepreneurs. I launched the carnival to help me find the best blog articles, so I can share them with others through my JumpUp profile page and bookmarks.

What is a blog carnival?
A blog article that contains links to other articles covering a specific topic. Most blog carnivals are hosted by a rotating list of frequent contributors to the carnival, and serve to both generate new posts by contributors and highlight new bloggers posting matter in that subject area. ~ according to the
If you post a relevant blog entry then join the community of contributors, you can get more readers for your blog. Here are the details of my carnival...

Title: "Starting a Business" Blog Carnival

Description: The Blog Carnival called "Starting a Business" is built around main topics (business planning, expert help, business structure, business identity, marketing 101, getting paid). To be eligible, your blog article be actionable, insightful and/or helpful to small business owners and/or start-up entrepreneurs. I work for Intuit, which operates JumpUp, a business resources, tools and networking site.

Keywords: business, enterpreneur, startup, business planning

Submission deadline:
Every Sunday at 2 PM MST

Submission categories:
business planning, expert help, business structure, business identity, marketing 101, getting paid

Do you have a blog post about starting a business? Does your blog post provide expert advice for business owners? Tell me about it by submitting your article to this blog carnival!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Chat with Me on Plugoo

Plugoo is , with two added benefits:
1. Keep your IM screen name private
2. Incorporate discussions into the IM service you use the most

I've also found two other Web IM tools you might want to explore. One is , which is similar to Plugoo. Another is Chatango, and yet another is Gabbly. With Gabbly, you append the Web URL to and you can chat with other users who do the same. Try this to to this blog.

I'll be playing with these applications for the next week to see if it helps me connect better with visitors. Let me know what you think.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Millions of Sites and Nothing to Read

Question: How does one get read today, or even noticed, when there is so much content available? Tons of sites and blogs have launched, hoping to bring fame and fortune to the Web-entrepreneur or would-be pundit. Most of these are worthless; each new digital page is yet another fly in the soup of useless Web drivel.

I guess my Dad was lucky in his day. Dad's writing was most often peer-reviewed. Nothing got past the gatekeepers without a good "going over." Too bad the same can't be said of today's bloggers. Sadly, I'm no exception. On the Web, no one holds my hand and saves me from myself. Hardly anything but sweat equity prevents me from writing too much, saying the wrong thing, or saying it badly. I suspect I'm not alone.

A blogger is like an amateur photographer who takes hundreds of pictures each month with a cheap digital camera. No, he doesn't plan to print these photos out. Most of the shots are blurry and poorly-composed snippets of time anyway. But that won't stop him. He enjoys the daily click and whirrrrrrr, knowing he didn't spend a few days and dollars waiting to develop the results. It's the freedom that attracts him, not the promise of a great framed print.

The next time you search through Google or Technorati for something wonderful to read, keep that in mind. There are thousands of free articles and millions of blog entries. Most of them are not worth the digital paper they're posted on. They're just there, because it's the act of composing that attracts most bloggers, and not the paycheck.

In spite of our love for writing, there will always be poor composition. It's a long, hard road -- mastering style, focusing thought and gaining a loyal readership. I write because I love to share my opinion and knowledge, and I'm content to leave it at that.

Of course, if your writing is terrible, or worse, nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to sell goods and services, you'll fail, and fail miserably. Whether it's writing to build recognition as an authority or writing to fill a creative void, empty advice with the hope of selling something is worse than not writing at all. The real challenge is making your blog stand on its own, with actionable content...if you can do that, you've got something. It's likely the reader won't mind seeing a short tagline with a link to your other Web presence, if you give them something to think about.

Having said all that, I'll admit that I write because I truly enjoy the act of thinking and typing simultaneously. No, your approval or admiration is not required...and I'm not trying to be dismissive or arrogant here. Please don't misunderstand me. I'm just being transparent about what I expect out of this blog.

Yes, I'll keep writing long after you've left my site, never to return. If you happen to like something I've written, post a comment. I'll revel in it and feel like someone out there is appreciative. If you don't like it, well, check out Technorati. I'm sure you'll find a blog or two more to your liking and probably less self-serving.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Friday, November 17, 2006

Captive Audience - Employee Abuse

I can't believe that employees at Bank of America had to sit through this. Thanks to Sugarrae for pointing me to YouTube.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Indeed - How Much Are You Worth?

Every once in a while I come across . Like me, you may be thinking there is no single job description that accurately covers everything you do for a living. Sure, but you gotta start somewhere.

Take one aspect of my work -- online community development -- and you'll get an idea of what those job responsibilities alone might pay in certain locations, if that is your only area of expertise. If you're in the middle of job negotiations, this could be an effective, eye-opening, way to present your salary case. Remember, it's just a free tool, so if your target career appears woefully underappreciated, don't say I didn't warn you. I'd recommend relying on more than just one Web site and more than one job title to figure out what you should be earning.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Find Yer Booty! Arr...

If you're a big fan of the "," movies, then you'll love this . Just plug in yer city and state, Matey and thar she blows!
The project's point is to explore the flexibility of Yahoo! maps and how they can be integrated into the design of a site/application.
The author created a few others for your amusement, too. And if you really like it, you can get the source to create your own.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Up Close and Personal

With so much happening of late, I wonder how a site like is getting away with this?

Want to try it? Just go to the site and plug in your neighbor, employer, boyfriend or even yourself. You'll find it reveals more information than it should.

Privacy advocates? Lawmakers? Lawyers? Anyone? Hellllloooooooo.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Vanity Betrays You

So my daughter got contacts. Which is good, because she can actually see the board in class now.

I thought, I should get them, too, then I'll understand what she's going through in the morning.


Sure, I can do this. I know I have a paranoid attitude about anything in or near my eyes, but I can't stand these crummy reading glasses anymore. Not to mention the unsightly line eyeglasses leave on the bridge of my sensitive nose. Yep, I'll get contact lenses.

Ah, the wonders of getting older. Fortunately, the optics industry has come a long way, so I had some choices. Now I'm wondering why I waited so long.

I got my "trainer" lenses last weekend. The "eye assistant" had to leave the room because she was driving me crazy with her micromanagement of my technique. My eyes looked like a desert full of red tumbleweeds, with all the fuss trying to get the lenses in. After she exited, I succeeded. Imagine that.

Yesterday, it took me 5 minutes to get the right eye in. Then 15 for the left. So I gave up to retry later.

Let me just say that spending hours feeling like a lash is stuck in your eyeball is not my idea of a good time.

I've been asking everyone I know who has contacts about their techniques for applying and removing them. Apparently, there is no right way. At least I'm getting better at this, and I did manage to face my fears about something in my eye.

Next week, I find out if my eye doctor thinks I should continue, or it it's just a bad choice for me. Something about checking the health of my eyes to make sure they can tolerate the lenses.

Oh, joy. The things we do for vanity.

[ tags: , ]

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Good Grammar Is Optional

I installed the other day. Apparently, command of the English language is not a prerequisite of Microsoft employment.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Your Reputation Precedes You...Forever and Ever

Social computing is a pretty hot topic lately.
"There's been a lot of interest recently in the social aspects of Web 2.0 experiences because of their tendency to alter the communities that use them. A lot of folks call these pull-based interaction systems, which value reputation and trust above all other things..." ~ The shift to Social Computing by ZDNet's Dion Hinchcliffe
I'm excited about the future of social computing, while at the same time, somewhat apprehensive. I like to imagine "What if..." just to see where it takes me. Bare with me while I dream about a possible future.

Here's the deal. I didn't really dwell on the negative side of social computing until a colleague suggested to me that individual users should all have Internet reputation scores. These could be logged in a central repository, accessible by all users, sites and ISPs. He was so blindingly excited about this Orwellian concept of identity and wanted to start driving its adoption, that I almost threw up.

Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should.

A portable identity and reputation standard is a wonderful idea...for eCommerce, as in consumers and businesses engaged or to be engaged in a transaction. As a buyer of goods on eBay, I want to know if customers have had good experiences with sellers. As a seller of goods, I want to know if customers are prompt payers and willing to resolve any issues in a reasonable manner, if needed.

But apply a universal rating to private individuals in all their online social endeavors? Come on. Wow. Nothing like institutionalized bigotry...oh, wait. I forgot about .

It's not like we don't have enough social caste systems in place already. My daughter doesn't wear Prada or drive a Hummer to school, so she isn't hanging out with the kids who do. Not that it matters. And I'm not the CEO of a big corporation or a brilliant engineer being courted by Microsoft, so you won't find me playing tennis with Bill Gates. Not that it matters. My significant other is not a political pundit or powerhouse, so the White House won't be calling him anytime soon to prep him on Iraq. And again, not that it matters.

It's reality. We all get it. We are human and we make choices. And sometimes, we make mistakes.

On the Internet, we each have a wonderful opportunity to discover new friends, learn new things, and perhaps evolve into a smarter and different person, regardless of our current status in the physical world or any past foibles. An Internet-wide user reputation system would change all that forever, severely and unnecessarily limiting our online freedoms.

Users who frequent user-generated communities, enjoy gaining favor on selected sites for the quality of their posts. What if you never had a chance to erase, hide or transform your online identity, even after you'd become a better online person?

I reminded my colleague that there are too many nutjobs online who spend all day plotting revenge on some poor newbie who mistakenly typed IN ALL CAPS in a favorite forum. And for some reason, self-appointed Net police seem to run in packs. Over the years, I've seen users gang up on someone for one indiscretion, just because it was good sport. A user judged by one community as a scoundrel could be a hero in another...but he might not get the chance, should new technology be misused to assign a "Human Value Score."

I can only begin to imagine what injustice will be served by an overreliance on a technical standard not meant for cataloging human beings. Why we continue to substitute technology for good old neighborliness is beyond me. Ubiquitous online ratings would have the potential to stalk users for the rest of their natural lives...can't we just give individuals the benefit of the doubt?

Much of the Internet's value comes from an ability to gather info and participate anonymously, devoid of superficial barriers like universal personality systems attached to one's ankle like an boat anchor. With many aspects of SciFi a bold reality today...intrusive direct marketing, identity theft, and domestic spying...I don't want to live my live in a fishbowl. There's a reason I'm not rushing to become a contestant on a reality TV show, with insensitive strangers deciding whether or not I can stay or go. And I value my privacy. I don't want everyone to know everything about me, especially if I had a bad hair day and posted in haste.

So, while I whole-heartedly support the development of social computing standards, merchant ratings and earned reputations, let's make one thing clear...portable ratings are best used for consumer protection and business development, not for Scarlet Letters.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Shaving for the Clueless

This has got to be the silliest (and most entertaining) advertising idea I've seen in a long time. Thanks to Jim Del Favero for telling me about it during a meeting in Mountain View this week.
: The Philips Norelco Bodygroom all-in-one system to shave and trim body hair.
O.K. -- the interactivity does remind me somewhat of Progressive Casualty Insurance Co's .

Easily offended? Then don't go to the Philips site. To be honest, I couldn't stop laughing when the actor accompanied himself on the guitar while singing a folk song about the product and his "bleeped-out" boy parts. Obviously, this is not a tune you'd find on Billboard Magazine's charts. Parental discretion advised.

So if you're into interactive Web marketing with a ribald sense of humor, stop by the Norelco site to "drive" the virtual shaver and listen to some faux voicemail testimonials.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Buy Your Way to Fame...and Support a Good Cause

Have you ever wondered what it takes to , billed alongside the names of the Hollywood elite? Apparently, a dollar will do it these days.

If you haven't heard about it yet, here's the scoop. The 1 Second Film (2007) is "a collaborative non-profit epic that climaxes in one second of animation." The idea is to raise money for charity. You pay any amount and you automatically get a credit in the film. In essence, the film will consist of one second of animation and 90 minutes of credits rolled alongside a documentary of the making of the film. Currently, the project is in production, with a projected premier date of November 2006.

It's not a's pure genius. I heard about the project while searching on YouTube. The most entertaining part of the promo, apparently filmed at Sundance 2005, were the celebrity comments.

Comedian Tom Arnold said "Oh, God, What a great deal," in reference to the producer credit he obtained by donating $100.00. Pierce Brosnan chipped in $10.00 then referred to himself as a "sucker producer." After cobbling together a whopping $11.00 for his producer credit, Stephen Colbert said, " should put these credits in. It's as valid as most of my credits."

Just how good is this idea, from a perspective? It's probably the best WoM bonus any film could ever hope to achieve.
I think what you are doing is probably one of the most creative and inspiring ideas I've ever heard of, not to mention a noble and unselfish act in raising money for this charity. If I had a million, I would donate it, I know how hard it is to raise money for a project, and to raise money for a charity. I've sent out a mass email to about 100 people telling them about your project, so I hope you get some more donations. Congratulations on your success thus far.
- Jason Lupish, $15 Producer

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Wiki See, Wiki Do

I've been dabbling in the Wikidom a lot and someone just asked me my top tips for Wiki administration. So I'll take a shot at it. These thoughts are coming out in no particular order. Here goes...

1. Log into your Wiki every weekday and add value, even if it's just a new category to make things easier to find. You can spend 15 minutes every day or you can spend 5 hours on one long frustrating day trying to clean up the messes left behind by various users -- the choice is yours.
2. Frequently browse the "Recent Changes" page to make sure some knucklehead hasn't done something awful or stupid. If so, fix or revert the page then move on. Don't dwell on it. The contributing user will get the picture soon enough. If anonymous, lame edits become a pattern, see the next tip.
3. Minimize the acts of wise-ass egotists, inexperienced Wiki doodlers, and drive-by spammers by forcing a log-in before allowing someone to edit. Talk to your Wiki Sysop to enable this.
4. Don't sweat the small stuff. You can go crazy editing other people's prose for teensy-weensy grammatical errors, when it adds nothing to your Wiki's value. Unless your Wiki is some Doctoral Dissertation on Grammar and Punctuation and you have a very dedicated and highly skilled user base, give it a rest. Focus on more important matters, like good overall content, ease of navigation, and attracting credible contributors.
5. Spend lots of time on mastering the Wiki basics yourself before you start judging others' contributions. The only way to lead by example is to lead by example.

More thoughts later as I have the time...

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Reinvent Yourself

Trying to come up with a funny moniker for that next improv character? How about a great character for that student film? At a loss for a fake identity to give some stalker at the next party you attend? Then check out these sites.

Even better, check out

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A Series of Unfortunate Events

You'd think people would figure it out before they registered them. This list of bad is funnier than Thanks to and for bringing them to my attention.

  • Who Represents? A database for agencies to the rich and famous: (

  • Experts Exchange, a knowledge base where programmers can exchange advice and views: (

  • Looking for a pen? Look no further than Pen Island: (

  • Need a therapist? They'll help you find one...maybe. (

  • Mole Station Native Nursery, based in New South Wales: (

  • New to Milan and you need electric light? Why not sign up on-line with Power-Gen?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

What's The 411?

Avoid getting charged $1.00 or more for calls on your cell phone.

Dial 1-800 FREE 411 (1-800-373-3411).

Apparently, you'll only get charged for the minutes.

Hey, I don't know this for sure. I haven't tried it, but I'm curious. If you find out this is not true, please let me know.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Kaleidoscope Painter

My cousin Tom is always sending me the greatest links on the Web. Here's another one. Tom writes:

This is clever! mouse on dot in middle (click & hold) and then move around.....what a trip!! Also experiment with the sizes and brushes.