Posts tagged “blogging”

A test post

The new blog is here!

Not only a new blog, but now the entire site is in WordPress – this makes for some interesting things (like trying to have separate feeds for FreshMeat and this blog; or titling this page “All This ChittahChattah” while titling the rest of the site “Portigal Consulting”).

FreshMeat is definitely not working right now, but maybe within 24 hours we’ll have them all back up and sorted out (they are still up, under the old URLs, but whatever)

If you see other weirdness with the site, let me know

Opening Plenary of CHI2006: Scott Cook – Intuit

The Scott Cook (Intuit) CHI2006 plenary has been blogged

How one creates a culture of innovation.
GO out to your customers first and design from that.

This plenary is the story of why customer connectivity is hugely important – Cook insists this means not doing surveys which can reinforce the company’s existing mindset, but to get out into the customer’s actual space – to get out the old ideas and let new ideas come in

‘before you can walk a mile in someone else’s shoes you must first remove your own’

This way, claims Cook, lies innovation.

Conference blogging is the shit these days, especially liveblogging. This seems like it may have been an inspirational talk, but it’s a lot of work to plow through the (typical for this sort of thing) sloppy notes. Does this format/behavior add value? Is it buzz-generating (don’t you wish you were here?) or is it content sharing?

Update: An amazingly well-written essay based on this talk has been posted by Antonella Pavese.

Blog/flickr project for class

For my class in Design Research Methods at CCA, I’ve asked the students to start either blogging or adding pictures to flickr. They are ideally doing this regularly, at least weekly, but I think it’s taking some time to ramp up.

I’ve asked them to think like design researchers and use this as a way to practice noticing stuff, and telling stories. They can blog whatever they want, but at least one piece per week should be something interesting they noticed – something funny or odd or curious or unusual – in their daily lives. An experience, a design, a need, a person doing something odd. Just to learn to pay attention to that alerting part of our judging selves. Ideally, this will help build the muscles they’ll need for making sense out of the fieldwork they start doing.

Anyway, I’m going to link to ’em all here and maybe some of the folks who read this blog will check out what the class has done. Maybe offer some comments or encouragement. Once they got their feet wet, the hope is that having an audience will actually provide some inspiration, motivation, momentum. NEW

Search engine queries that brought people here

The latest search engine queries that led people to this blog.

The Simpsons MArge
‘digital camera history’ sasson
scott young obit
all this chittah chattah
Akido Yada
button typed toilet theory
Cupid Costumes
simpsons marge
grapples fruit
blogspot iit lingo
Origins Plantidote reviews Dr. Weil
art gallerys ronnie wood
jay leno
ml stern
simpsons marge
spammer scott hirsch

BNMI’s Creative Canux – Field Research Presentation by Steve Portigal

Robert Scales was blogging the CanUX conference. His page about my presentation is here, without a lot of detail, and with some corners seriously cut.

Some of the research items Steve included in his presentation included:

* mprovements to existing products and services
* ideas for new products and features
* new applications for existing technologies
* specific implications for design

I’m not sure what a research item is but that is text (badly copied-and-pasted) from my website, not particularly relevant to the talk. He suggests looking at my site for more info, but his link to my site appears to be broken.

It’s nice to have someone write about your presentation, but this just seems shoddy. And I wouldn’t take notice of it, except that Robert was at the conference to promote his own event at the Banff centre later this year, about blogging! Ironic!

Popcorn hacks (

Popcorn hacks is a posting to one of the most popular blogs out there,

If you’ve got a bag of Orville Redenbacher’s Butter microwave popcorn on hand but no microwave, there’s no need to panic. Just tear open the bag and pour the kernels into a large pot. Put over medium heat. The kernels will be in a big clump of congealed butter-like substance…break them apart with a wooden spoon as the pot heats up and the ‘butter’ starts to melt.

When the ‘butter’ is melted, stir the kernels around with the spoon so they don’t burn. At this point, you may want to don some protective eyewear so that when the first kernels pop, you don’t get hot butter-like liquid in your eye; I just put on my sunglasses. When the first kernels pop, cover the pot and shake it across the burner so the kernels don’t burn. Stop periodically to listen for pops and to exclaim, ‘I can’t believe this is actually working!’ When popping stops, quickly remove from the heat, and get it out of that hot pot into a bowl. Eat. As good as microwaved.

This is just everything that irks me about these over-the-top popular blogs; there’s no sense of quality control. What a moronic post, on the level of “I called my best friend last nite but he had to go too bad” but written with slightly higher level of precision. Why is everything a “hack” nowadays? This isn’t a hack, it’s just stupid. Why would you ever want to do this? I guess this guy did a post recently about how to clean up spilled cola, too. At least that wasn’t a hack.

Update: I neglected to mention that this guy made history by claiming that blogging was now his job, and asking his readers to support him. I did not, but if I had, I would certainly be looking for a refund. Great riff on this is here. Let me suggest that he’s probably taking product placement money from the Orville Redenbacher people.

Update2: I posted my product placement theory to MetaFilter. See if there’s any discussion (or if it gets canceled).

Update3: Canceled. Maybe that took about 20 minutes? Nice.

PR Rox, redux

In a previous entry I wrote about being approached by a PR firm (ineptly, at that) to blog about their new product. I still haven’t got mine yet, so I haven’t been able to blog about ’em. But meanwhile I found someone else’s experience/reaction in being approached with the same spiel. A good discussion ensues. However, I’m miffed no one asked me to discuss Glad Press’n Seal here on All This ChittahChattah. Hmm.

Shut yo mouf

In a previous post I told a story about receiving mistaken invoices from my online backup service. It was a LOT of money and I made the mistake of reading my email during a bit of insomnia, and of course, my adrenalin surged unhappily even though I convinced myself it was probably a mistake (but it was tricky; the first review I read about this service, Data Deposit Box, explained how if your software creates temp files in the target directory, you may find yourself uploading HUGE HUGE files to their system and being charged for it – and at least once in that previous month I found that my DVD software had put some several gigabyte file down without telling me, etc. etc. so I had some rational basis for concern), and eventually they let us all know that they had sent these three invoices out by mistake.

So I blogged the story, because, hey, I’ve got a blog and I’m going to use it.

But the company I blogged about wasn’t too happy.

From: “Peter Carroll”
Subject: The Data Deposit Box problem
Date: Mon, 13 Jun 2005 09:43:07 -0400


We are again very sorry for the error that caused you to receive those emails. It was an embarrassing mistake that will never happen again.

I read your blog on the topic with horror this morning. We have all worked hard to communicate with our customers and clean up the mess this caused. These were only internal reminder emails for our accounting people to manually bill a couple of our very large clients. No customers were billed.

Clearly this was a dark day in our history that we would all like to put behind us. Unfortunately, with your blog showing up in Google I fear we will be reliving it over and over for months or years to come.

Would you consider removing your post in exchange for 3 months of free Data Deposit Box service? I assume you are otherwise happy with our service. This gesture would be greatly appreciated by everyone at Data Deposit Box.


Peter Carroll, CTO

This really threw me for a loop. I’m supposed to feel bad for them? I guess I do, but what about me? My monthly bill is about $20.00, so they’re asking me to basically censor myself in support of their corporate goals, for about $60.00. I don’t want to go off on a major integrity high-horse type of deal, but really? $60? Maybe they should offer me the three free months as a gesture of good will in apology for the upset. But not make it contigent upon me zipping my mouth.

Further, there’s an element of quiet coercion here, and really, isn’t a backup company’s core offering involving trust? I don’t feel they are behaving in a trustworthy fashion. And what if I refuse to take the posting down? Will that mean that maybe my data might (oops! We are SOOOO sorry) go away? Probably not, but even the fact that this exchange has raised the spectre of data loss suggests their approach to me was a wrong one.

I’m not out to change the world with this blog, and I’m still getting used to the fact (after nearly 4 years) that this blog can have some impact, but I stand by what I wrote.

I didn’t bother to share with people, by the way, my “icon” experience. Here’s a support request I sent in

Admittedly, this is a low-priority request, but I wanted at least to request it…

Every once in a while the icon in the system tray disappears and then reappears. This causes all the task bar entries to shift rapidly back and forth – in other words, it’s a fair amount of motion along the bottom of the screen. It’s VERY distracting. It’d be great if that didn’t happen, if it just stayed live all the time, or I’d be willing to disable the icon if that meant I could avoid this problem. I’ve seen this happen with other programs (I think PopFile had it with a recent version) and it cosmetic, but it’s also impacting concentration and productivity, so it is important in that way.

They responded nicely, and quickly

We had a problem with our icon in that it would disappear and we were unable to determine why it was happening. We decided to destroy and recreate the icon periodically to stop this from happening.

I will add a registry setting to the client application to allow you to disable this. The option will not appear in our options program, but will be only available via registry changes.

I will let you know once this is ready and send you instructions on the name of the key.

I’m no programmer, but a tech friend of mine was aghast at the problem and also the kludgey solution. Didn’t give him faith in their technical chops. Anyway, shortly thereafter they sent the registry key instructions. Playing with the Windows registry is sort of a dangerous manipulation of the secret guts of how things work. One typo can ruin stuff. Anyway, they told me what kind of key to create and what to put in it. And there was a typo in their instructions.

Under Software/Acpana/Backup/username please add a ERG_SZ value with the name DoIconRefresh and set the value to 0

ERG_SZ should be REG_SZ. I didn’t know that, but I figured it out. Still doesn’t give you the best confidence in them.

Anyway, back to the issue at hand – the blog entry. I wrote them back

Peter, I’m awfully surprised that you’d ask a customer to delete a posting they made about your product! And further that you’d offer me roughly $60 to do so!

Moreover, this sort of thing really impacts the feeling of trust between me and Data Deposit Box – if I refuse, what will happen to my data? For a service that provides backup, I would suggest that the trust is pretty important and this exchange kind of threatens that trust.


and heard back

If you refuse, nothing will happen to your data. I only ask that you please consider removing your post because of the ongoing negative impact it will have on our company.

As you point out, trust is a very fragile thing. Nobody understands that more than we do. There was nothing malicious in our action. It was an honest mistake and we have worked very hard to repair the damage it caused. My fear is that your post will continue to show up in Google and new damage will continue to happen.

Expression of individual opinion is very important right. But please consider what the effect is when they are amplified by Google. IÔø?m sure you do not intend to cause us ongoing damage to our reputation. If you did, I am sure you would no longer be a customer. But negative comments are may times more powerful than positive.

I offered you some free service only as a gesture of good faith. I had no other intentions. If you are not comfortable with that I understand. Was our response to our customers not sufficient or appropriate in you mind? Is there anything more you feel we should do?

I truly hope you can forgive us for this mishap. If not, I apologize again and wish you all the best.

I don’t want to be a villain, or hurt this poor company. Discussions of forgiveness and malice and all this seem very emotional and very personal. Perhaps I need to be more judicious of my stories of bad service or bad experiences. I don’t think I’m using this a bully pulpit, though. Even though they won’t be happy to see their exchange with me also blogged, I feel it’s important. Look, this isn’t Disney sending a cease-and-desist letter or anything dramatic like that, but it’s a request to stop saying something bad about a company, because an honest experience (and really, that was NOT a screed, I’ve written screeds, that was mostly sharing an experience and sharing my own horror at it) is just that. What happened to me. My truth.

I’m still a customer of Data Deposit Box. They offer a unique pricing advantage (you pay what you backup, not by choosing from a variety of sizes that you think you need to store) and a unique backup process (you backup files pretty much all the time not on a schedule). They claim to offer multiple copies of files (versions 1 2 and 3) that change over time, but I haven’t figured that out. It may be working, or may not. I don’t know yet.

And, I’ve had a frightening billing mistake with them, and I’ve had a somewhat slapdash if effective and rapid support for something very cosmetic. I’m laying it out there for you to decide for yourself.

UGTV blog

My friend Alan has a blog that I’ve just been checking out. It’s kinda funny on several levels. Each post is a strange or disturbing comedic observation, most of them rather terse. You might compare to Steven Wright but I’m sure any serious student of late 20th Century comedy could explain why that presumption is incorrect.

What amuses me is that each entry is several days apart, and when one reads through the various entries it almost begs the question of how it took Alan so long to make yet another pithy observation.

Alan, of course, is much funnier than his blog. Even though he may make the same kind of comments, the flat tone of the blog is completely different than his intense delivery. And the minimalist tone of the blog isn’t as funny as his detailed storytelling.

Somehow I should also mention that he has a talking vagina animation on his website.

Ride me high

This story in the New York Times describes how companies are looking at what customers have to say online, and are indeed turning that into an opportunity to understand and connect. No mention this article of companies trying to suppress or remove negative comments made by their customers.

Early in April, Continental Airlines played host at a gathering in Houston for members of, a travel Web site best known for its message boards where travelers discuss, dissect and often complain about pretty much anything related to travel, but mostly airlines and their frequent-flier programs.

Not that it was all warm and fuzzy, Mr. Burri acknowledged. The dinner guests “didn’t necessarily like all the answers they got” to questions about the removal of first-class seats from some aircraft, the challenge of qualifying for elite status and the difficulty of redeeming frequent-flier miles for free tickets and upgrades.

In fact, blogs may be grabbing all the media headlines, but online communities like FlyerTalk are wielding a different kind of influence in the corporate world, providing instant feedback from those critics who marketers have called influencers. Just by logging on, companies can study, learn from and even respond to the cacophony of opinions about what they are doing wrong and what they are doing right without spending a dime on focus groups or market research.

Some travel companies have even assigned employees to act as authorized representatives in monitoring FlyerTalk’s message boards and answering questions, reporting back about hot topics and occasionally putting out fires – ideally without sounding like a corporate mouthpiece or disrupting the Web site’s natural give and take

Although Continental does not have anyone participating in the FlyerTalk fray in an official capacity, “Lots of us will go to FlyerTalk and pull up our forum and see what our customers are talking about,” said Mark Bergsrud, Continental’s vice president for marketing programs, who attended the Houston event.

“When we see something that’s factually incorrect,” Mr. Bergsrud said, “we’ll work with the moderator, but we don’t like to put our own posts on there. We’d have to be real careful about how we word everything.”

That said, Continental has responded to suggestions that have bubbled up through the FlyerTalk forums, Mr. Bergsrud added, like creating a customer service desk exclusively for its elite fliers, changing the format of frequent-flier statements and tweaking some of the tools on

One company that has assigned an official representative to FlyerTalk is Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, owner of the St. Regis, Westin, Sheraton, W and other chains. William Sanders, better known to FlyerTalk regulars as “Starwood Lurker,” says he spends six or eight hours on Mondays getting caught up on all the posts and messages that have come in over the weekend, but four hours a day is closer to normal.

Figuring out how, and how much, to participate has been a learning process, Mr. Sanders said. “I used to respond to everything I knew an answer to, and then I figured out they’ll often answer it for you.” He said he now tried to observe the delicate balance between being helpful and disrupting the exchange of ideas the site was meant to foster.

Can’t touch this

Chilling Effects Clearinghouse is a website that monitors Cease and Desist letters that bloggers and website creators may receive. One can submit such a letter and have it hosted there as well. The EFF offers legal liability guidance for bloggers as well.

Both these sites caught my eye today. I’ll probably write more about this later, but I was asked this morning to remove a posting from my blog. I don’t intend to do so, and I do intend to blog about the request. Soon.

Intelligent Design

Fast Company gives props to our blog at Core77, although they describe us as “A random group of industrial designers and design fans” (random? us?) but refer to the content as “The quick-hit, often photo-laden entries offer a comprehensive view of what’s hot and hip.” which frankly disappoints me because I think if you spend more than 30 seconds on the site, you’ll see it’s about something a little deeper.

Though I did find a lot of the content of the special issue on design to be rather glib, at least in tone, if not in fact (as this example is).

PR rox, dude!

Today I received this email

From: “Nichole Asher” at
To: steve at portigal dot com
Subject: Hefty Serve ‘n Store blog media outreach!

Hi Steve,

Let me start off by saying that I work for an agency that works for Pactiv, the maker of the new Hefty Serve ‘n Store interlocking plates & bowls. We are doing online outreach for the product through influential folks like yourself and would like to know if you’d be interested in participating in the product launch.

The company I work for is one of the world’s largest PR firms, called MS&L; we’re a subsidiary in Ann Arbor, MI called Hass MS&L. My full contact information is at the bottom of this e-mail.

I understand if you are skeptical, so I’m offering to send you links to web sites of other product launches that we’ve done and the responses showing this is legit. In fact, if you search Google using my company name (Hass MS&L) and the name of one of my co-workers ( you’ll find reviews of similar product
launches where these names are referenced.

So let me cut to the chase: Noise Between Stations is *the* place to hear about new products and such, and I think your readers would find the technology behind the interlocking plates interesting. I’m wondering if I can send you information and a sample so you can try the Hefty Serve ‘n Store products. They’re not on the market yet, but I have an order coming in pre-launch.

The plates and bowls are absolutely free, and in return the only thing my client has asked is that you post a review of the product on your blog.

Please let me know if this is something you’re interested in and I will add your name to the fulfillment list today.


[contact info deleted]

Now what was that? “Noise Between Stations is *the* place to hear about new products and such” – but this isn’t Noise Between Stations, it’s my blog, All This ChittahChattah. Pretty hilarious – she could have written “…is a great source of good information” or anything more general, but she had to say that it was “*the* place” – of course, then she was caught sending obvious form letters to different people, and oops, forgetting to change the contact info. We’ve all sent out dozens of resumes or whatever and we always hope that we make sure to change the info in our form letter, right? It would be a pleasure to work with you at MICROSOFT CORPORATION in REDMOND, WA. Etc.

But this person has it as their job, and they are trying to win over cynical bloggers (hey, by assuming that we’re already cynical, right?) so you’d think they’d be able to do a little better than that?

I called her on it and got this

apologize for that, I was reading the wrong blog name due to having multiple windows, so this was actually meant for you @ All This Chittah-Chattah if you are interested.

Anyway, I’m not proud. I’ll take the damn Hefty-whatsit and I’ll write about it. But I thought the poor PR effort was also blogworthy.


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