Posts tagged “email”

Sign up to get blog posts by email

Did you know that you can receive all blog posts by email? Go here to sign up.

Yeah, portigal.com has long had this capability, through Feedburner, eventually bought by Google. It’s still running but it seems that Google has abandoned it. Feedburner emails look something like this

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It’s not even possible to tell if it’s being supported or not; the webpages that support it seem to have been abandoned. So yeah, it runs every night, for now, and sends out postings, but it probably won’t stick around forever.

I would manually migrate Feedburner subscribers to the new Mailchimp list but it’s so broken that even though I can log in, I can’t find the actual mailing list. Support pages show many people with similar complaints.

If you’re receiving posts already, you can do nothing and probably for some time you’ll be fine. But you can also take 30 seconds to sign up here for the shiny new list!

ChittahChattah Quickies

Robots Ate My Job [Marketplace] – “Robot” is a bit of a red herring…the series is really an investigation of automation, when we interact with other devices instead of a human. Not sure there are too many surprises here but it’s still great to have this topic receive some focused attention.

Special Correspondent David Brancaccio takes us on a week-long series on air, online and on social media, called “Robos Ate My Job” to explore how technology is impacting the future of jobs in America. Find out who’s winning and who’s losing at the hands of the robots.

The Strange Art of Picking a TV Title [The Hollywood Reporter] – I’d be interested in knowing if the TV people design for nicknaming. Battlestar Galactica comes BSG among the cognoscenti. Does that little hook let people take ownership as the narrative pulls them in? Around my house we call “The Simpsons” by its shorter form “Simpsons.”

Would Friends have been the same hit had NBC executives approved its original title, Six of One? Would Lost have lasted six seasons with its earlier name, Nowhere? And would Grey’s Anatomy be able to charm nearly 12 million weekly viewers had it remained Surgeons? These are the questions now haunting studio and network executives as they look to attach the perfect title — catchy, but not cheesy; clever, but not confusing; inclusive, but not vague; provocative, but not inappropriate — to their crop of pilots in contention for the fall schedule. Producers and executives agree that getting a title right is more important than ever given the increasingly crowded and fragmented television landscape, where standing out is as important as telegraphing what a show is about. And while a great title can’t carry a poor show, it can get an audience to show up, which is why networks and studios have been known to rely heavily on focus groups and the occasional consulting firm.

Alphabet Soup [More Intelligent Life] – More on the ‘how does stuff get named?’ theme. Ever dine at QV? Me neither.

Some names come out of the blue. While seeking inspiration for his new London venture in 1926, an Italian restaurateur called Pepino Leoni saw a poster for the 1925 film “Quo Vadis”. The restaurant that bears its name can still be found in Soho. In 2002, about to open a place specialising in French food, the British chef Henry Harris was forced into creative thinking by his signmaker. “He said if we didn’t come up with a name right then, we wouldn’t have a sign in time. So I put together a long list of French words, including a few writers as fillers: Beaumarchais, Moli?®re, Racine-Going through them, we went, ‘Crap, crap, crap’ until we reached Racine and someone said, ‘Racine, of course, French for root. Absolutely brilliant.’ So there it is. Both interpretations are true.” The restaurateur Will Smith explains the origin of Arbutus, in central London, thus: “We discovered there used to be an arbutus, or strawberry tree, around the corner in Soho Square. The name felt good and sounded great. It was a bit like naming a child. At first, people went, ‘Eh?’ but soon said ‘That’s interesting’ and accepted it. Also, arbutus fruit have a culinary application in Portugal, where it is made into a spirit.” So does Arbutus sell arbutus spirit? “No.”

The Personal Analytics of My Life [Stephen Wolfram Blog] – I was pretty surprised to see this was just about his email. Email is one lens into someone’s life, but it doesn’t provide much detail into what you are doing when you aren’t using email. I was hoping for something along the lines of the good ol’ Americans Use of Time Project that took a broader look. The title is definitely an overreach.

What is the future for personal analytics? There is so much that can be done. Some of it will focus on large-scale trends, some of it on identifying specific events or anomalies, and some of it on extracting “stories” from personal data.
And in time I’m looking forward to being able to ask Wolfram|Alpha all sorts of things about my life and times-and have it immediately generate reports about them. Not only being able to act as an adjunct to my personal memory, but also to be able to do automatic computational history-explaining how and why things happened-and then making projections and predictions. As personal analytics develops, it’s going to give us a whole new dimension to experiencing our lives. At first it all may seem quite nerdy (and certainly as I glance back at this blog post there’s a risk of that). But it won’t be long before it’s clear how incredibly useful it all is-and everyone will be doing it, and wondering how they could have ever gotten by before. And wishing they had started sooner, and hadn’t “lost” their earlier years.

Hertz, Donut*

*Referring to a dumb, fun, and rather apt joke

I tried to opt-out of unwanted marketing email from Hertz. The link in the email took me to this outrageous page.

Go ahead. Try to parse the nested logic and dense legalese. To add insult to injury, I was unable to submit without the ugly red form error admonishment (“You have entered an incorrect option. Please correct and resubmit”) for the whole first set of options. I eventually had to submit it without any of those checked. Will I get more unwanted marketing email? I’ll have to check with my lawyer about that.

ChittahChattah Quickies

Volkswagen turns off Blackberry email after work hours [BBC News] – Technology changes work boundaries and work patterns. Will a technological solution work? The article suggests that they will stop people from receiving email after hours, but will they stop people from sending email after hours? Is the demand for after hours work coming through the email messages or are there other pressures? So many questions about this one!

Volkswagen has agreed to stop its Blackberry servers sending emails to some of its employees when they are off-shift. The carmaker confirmed it made the move earlier this year following complaints that staff’s work and home lives were becoming blurred. Under the arrangement servers stop routing emails 30 minutes after the end of employees’ shifts, and then start again 30 minutes before they return to work. “It’s bad for the individual worker’s performance being online and available 24-7. You do need downtime, you do need periods in which you can actually reflect on something without needing instantaneously to give a reaction,” said Will Hutton, chair of the Big Innovation Centre at The Work Foundation.

Manischewitz Creates Kosher Food for Gentiles [NYT] – Having grown up with the traditional meaning of the brand, I find this a bit challenging but am intrigued by the potential to reframe and expand their story.

“Instead of taking the older products we have out of the kosher aisle and forcing them into the main aisle, we’re creating new products that have a place in the main aisle,” said Alain Bankier. A new line of broths, for example, is being shelved in many supermarkets not with most Manischewitz items but rather in the soup aisle. A new line of Manischewitz gravies also will be stocked with other mainstream brands. Manischewitz ads traditionally have emphasized Judaism, showing yarmulke-wearing celebrants at, say, a Seder. But new ads, by Joseph Jacobs Advertising in New York, the Manischewitz agency for more than three decades, take a decidedly more secular approach. “Don’t miss the boat,” says a print ad for beef gravy, which shows it being poured from a sauce boat onto mashed potatoes – no shofar or Star of David in sight. New ads “make little if any reference to any Jewish holiday,” said Elie Rosenfeld, chief executive of Joseph Jacobs. “There’s a tagline we use, ‘Bringing families to the table since 1888,’ and we want to be part of that family with you whether it’s Rosh Hashana, Hanukkah or Easter.”

Samoa Sacrifices a Day for Its Future [NYT] – A massive change in infrastructure and function, revealing time (or at least our documentation of it) to be more arbitrary than fixed.

The Pacific island nation of Samoa and its even tinier neighbor Tokelau are skipping Friday this week, jumping westward in time across the international date line and into the shifting economic balance of the 21st century. The time change is meant to align Samoa with its Asian trading partners; it moves the islands’ work days further from the United States, which dominated its economy in the past. In this giant-step version of daylight saving time, the island’s 186,000 citizens, and the 1,500 who live in Tokelau, will go to sleep on Thursday and wake up on Saturday. The government has decreed that those who miss a day of work on Friday will be paid all the same.

Portable Cathedrals [Domus] – Dan Hill’s epic articulate review of the Nokia N9 isn’t a gadget review, it’s a (tl;dr) cultural critique of design, where culture is within the producer organizations as much as – if not more than – the consumer society.

Yet the skeuomorphic nonsense that incomprehensibly pervades apps like Apple’s own Contacts, Calendar, iBooks, GameCenter, Find My Friends et al-all awkward faux-leather, wood and paper stylings-is is of such questionable “taste” it threatens to damage the overall harmony of iOS with its discordant notes. You cannot derive value from the idle suggestion of such textures on screen; they are physical properties and should be experienced as such, or not at all. Yet Apple’s design team will not explore those physical properties, merely sublimating their desire for such qualities into a picture of leather, a picture of wood. It recalls Marcel Duchamp’s critique of ‘retinal art’ i.e. intended only to please the eye.

For a Corn Chip Maker, the New Spokesman Is the Product Itself [NYT] – The argot of advertising is hilarious and depressing all at once. Zany and authentic spokesbag?

At the Fiesta Bowl on Monday, the game’s sponsor, Tostitos, will have a new endorser – a “spokesbag” puppet in the form of a chip bag with arms, a mouth and a generous dollop of swagger – to humorously convey the message that it is the tortilla chip brand that enlivens social gatherings. The new life-of-the-party campaign resurrects the top-selling snack’s 1990s theme. ” ‘Tostitos Knows How to Party’ means we are returning to our roots,” said Janelle Anderson, the brand’s senior director for marketing. Tostitos returned to the ’90s theme after marketing research over the last year found that its customers wanted reasons to celebrate and have fun in economically lean times. Tostitos chose a zany character “to get the message across and make it authentic,” said Ms. Anderson. “We wanted something that was magnetic, fun and approachable.” The brand’s new advertising agency, TBWA/Chiat/Day, decided to “bring personality to the brand, and, in one of those rare cases, have the actual product be the actual spokesperson,” said Brett Craig, the group’s creative director for Tostitos. Working with Legacy Effects, a Los Angeles special effects company, the agency developed the hand-manipulated puppet with movable parts and special effects to convey energy, said Mr. Craig.

ChittahChattah Quickies

You’ve Been Left Behind – Another niche offering, online: a service that will, after the Rapture, deliver a final message to those who weren’t pulled up to the sky. The name is a bit misleading: “you” refers not to the customers but to those who the customers are reaching out to.

Q:How are the emails sent out after the rapture if you are all Christians?

A:I have a team, of Christian couples, scattered around the U.S. 4 active couples and one alternate. One of each, of the active couples, are required to log into the system everyday. They are scattered to protect us from having the team wiped out by attack, natural disaster, or epidemic. They are couples in case one is sick, injured, killed, and to assure their walk with God. If they (3 out of 4) fail to log in for 3 days the system figures the Rapture has taken place. There are then notices sent out to each of us daily, for 3 more days, warning us we must log in to prevent the sending of documents. If, we do not, then the system sends out all of the stored data to all of the email addresses. There is one alternate team member to ready as a replacement for a lost teammate. Also one team member is located near enough to the server bank, with access, in case the net goes down, or malfunction.

Trade in Pork Bellies Comes to an End, but the Lore Lives – Like seeing the obituary of someone you thought was already dead, there’s a bit of a surprise here that pork bellies really are a thing (well, if you dine out fancy, you already know that), and they are a thing that actually does get traded. Or used to.

When the Chicago Mercantile Exchange announced the other day that pork belly futures would no longer be traded, it was hardly a shock. Trades had shrunk to almost nothing. Volatility was too much. The frozen bellies, used to make bacon, were, in the view of some, losing relevance.

Pork bellies have long held a puzzling mystique to the public. Experts in the field offer a range of sometimes conflicting explanations: everybody likes bacon; the word “belly” sounds funny; no one actually knows what a pork belly is. Whatever the reason, pork bellies pop up in an inordinate number of references in magazines, popular culture and movies, like “Trading Places,” the 1983 film in which Eddie Murphy’s character used pork bellies to explain, in unforgettably bare terms, how a market works.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] Did My Brother Invent E-Mail With Tom Van Vleck? [NYtimes.com] – [Errol Morris' series is a fascinating. personal history of computer technology.] Batch processing…was like taking your clothes to the laundromat. You’d take your job in, and leave it in the input bins. The staff people would prerecord it onto these magnetic tapes, they would be run by the computer. The output would be printed. This cycle would take at best, several hours. It was maddening, because when you’re working on a complicated program, you can make a trivial slip-up ­ you left out a comma or something ­ and the program would crash. You would try very hard to be careful, but you didn’t always make it…A process that could take a week, weeks, months. People began to advocate a different tactic called time-sharing. Have people at typewriter-like terminals. It certainly seemed feasible. But no manufacturer knew how to do it. And the vendors were not terribly interested, because it was like suggesting to an automobile manufacturer that they go into the airplane business.

I’ll be the one with the red carnation…

Last night, I was making plans with someone I’d never seen. We were on the phone and got to the familiar, “what do you look like so I can find you” part of the conversation. She jokingly said she should just snap a picture with her phone and email me, then described herself. After we hung up, I thought, yeah, sending a picture really makes a lot of sense in this situation, doesn’t it, so I decided to do it. While I was snapping a picture to send her (which took me a few minutes because I’m just vain enough to keep trying ’till I got one I liked), she friended me on Facebook, thus providing me with a picture of herself.

It was another of these striking moments where I find myself smack in the midst of a piece of “behavioral extinction,” as an older way of doing something – in this case, describing oneself to someone – cedes ground to new, technology-enabled practices.

As always, the questions: what is lost, what is gained, how does this change in the experience change us and the ways we think?

dan-self-2

ChittahChattah Quickies

I Now Confirm Thee . . .

A little while ago, I got an interesting email message from Facebook:

To: Dan Soltzberg
Subject: Theresa Soltzberg said that you two are married…

Theresa said on Facebook that you two are married. We need you to confirm that you are, in fact, married to Theresa.

To confirm this relationship request, follow the link below:

    http://www.facebook.com/n/?home.php

Thanks,
The Facebook Team

Theresa is, in fact, my wife. After briefly considering several possibilities for practical joking, I followed the link, and was presented with this grand choice:

relationship-request.jpg

With the price of gas skyrocketing, will we see this replacing the Vegas wedding as the quick solution to getting married?

Anyway, I confirmed, and just wanted to share my nuptial joy with all of you . . .

iTunes helps me help myself

I had to email iTunes the other day about an issue with my account. I composed and sent my message using their web-based contact system, and a little message box popped up.

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The message said that since there was a chance iTunes’ response to my inquiry might end up in my Spam box, a test message would be sent within 15 minutes. If I didn’t get the test message, I was given several steps to take, including adding the iTunes email address to my contacts so that the real message would get through.

I’ve never had a site pre-troubleshoot like this for me, and I thought it was a really elegant and collaborative way of making sure I got the communication I was asking for. Nice job on this one, Apple.

It’s interesting to see workaround strategies like this evolving when things like spam filters–conceived as solutions–become problems.

Social adaptation overrides technology affordances

I received an email last week that stated, in part

My boss is away for the next week or two but I will forward her your e-mail when she returns.

This gave me pause.

Of course, you could forward the email any time you want, and it’ll just be held the boss’s inbox until she returns. The technology (store-and-forward) affords that quite nicely. From a technological point of view, my correspondent “should” forward the message immediately and get on with her day.

But my correspondent suspects that’s not the best way to do things, because there’s people in this system. And people behave to optimize against different constraints than technology does. We all have our little usage rules, and we all adjust our usage of technology in order to be most successful.

Perhaps the boss is checking email while she’s away, and will discard anything not mission-critical. Or perhaps the boss isn’t checking email, but will be burdened with a huge number of messages in her inbox when she returns. My correspondent is respecting her boss by not contributing to that, and respecting me by “handling” my email properly.

We’ve helped a few clients understand how their customers’ work cultures have evolved to the point where there are complete-but-unwritten rule sets for sharing documents, information, collaboration, communicating via telephone, email, and IM, and most other “work” activities. As the tools change, the behaviors change.

Telecommunication and etiquette norms

Like the digital equivalent of an IZOD gator, email programs insert small branded tags in the “.signature” portion of the message.

Free webmail services like hotmail, yahoo, and MSN have their ads

_________________________________________________________________
Express yourself with MSN Messenger 6.0 — download now!
http://www.msnmessenger-download.com/tracking/reach_general

and

——————————————————————————–
Don’t pick lemons.
See all the new 2007 cars at Yahoo! Autos.

While in recent years we’ve got the device specific sigs. The first one I really noticed was

Sent from my Blackberry

and of course the superest of coolest

Sent from my iPhone

These little tags (and think of the tags on Levi’s jeans or skin tags, more than folksonomies) advertise the product (as with the Yahoo et. al examples) but they also tell you something about the person. I’ve got one of these. Beyond that, the message might be I’m cool enough to have an iPhone, or I’m lucky enough to work someplace where they buy me a Blackberry.

levis-pocket.jpg

But they also tell you something else. I wrote this message in some situation you can’t possibly (and probably shouldn’t) imagine, when I had a few seconds to kill er um spend responding to you, away from a full keyboard where I could hit my expansive wpm and correct the embarrassing typos. Just like when we call someone on their cell phone, we may not know where we’re reaching them and therefore how the interaction will proceed, when we get an email from a mobile device, we can’t assume the normal context of use (computer, full screen, full keyboard, some time committed to the act).

And so I was tickled to get an email over the weekend that included this customized .signature

Apologies for brevity and any blunders in spelling; this was sent from my iPhone.

Nicely done. I don’t know how to change the iPhone signature, and I realized upon seeing this version that I’d just always assumed that my correspondents would know how to interpret the default. But I’m probably expecting way more empathy that anyone has time for.

Brands, blogging, snack culture, and a dilemma

Snacklash is the only thing worth reading in the recent Wired feature on snack culture (summary: lots of shorty-short-short stuff proliferates).

Snack culture is an illusion. We have more of everything now, both shorter and longer: one-minute movies and 12-hour epics; instant-gratification Web games and Sid Meiers Civilization IV. Freed from the time restrictions of traditional media, we’re developing a more nuanced awareness of the right length for different kinds of cultural experiences…Yes, it sometimes seems as if we’re living off a cultural diet of blog posts and instant messages – until we find ourselves losing an entire weekend watching season three of The Wire. The truth is, we have more snacks now only because the menu itself has gotten longer.

This sums up the challenge I’ve been in semi-denial of for a while now. My own output of content. For as content creators, we face the same challenges as well.

The posts here on this blog vary in length and thought and time. I’ve started the Quickies as a channel for passing on a link of interest with one or two key thoughts. And there are the longer pieces every so often that summarize an experience or an issue. If you go back and look at the earlier days of this blog, you’ll see a lack of polish and focus, and a lot less content by me.

Now take a look at FreshMeat. The earliest entries are on par with some of stuff I blog now (longer, more focused), but the later entries are like small theses. They are really in-depth, long, and demanding-as-hell to write, especially when a simpler blog entry is easily produced and delivered.

FreshMeat got longer and more intense, as did the blog. A blog entry now is more substantial than a FreshMeat started out to be. It’s an escalation.

And then there’s an infrastructure issue. FreshMeat originally was an email list, with a web thing as secondary distribution. But running a mailing list is increasingly demanding as customers of an ISP. Most don’t want you doing anything like that; moving an existing set of names to a new host sometimes means that everyone has to opt-in again. I’ve got over 1000 names, granted the list is a bit stale, but I can’t imagine I’d get more than 50% re-registering after 2 years of silence.

I still get asked “when’s FreshMeat coming out?” because people enjoyed it. They may be not the same people who make the commitment to read a blog on a regular basis.

The dilemma, then, to readers here, who have a good perspective on my brand and on content and all that, what makes sense? Should FreshMeat be retired? Integrated into the blog? What should the brand be? If I could send one last email to the 1000 names, what should I tell them?

I’m stuck on this one, and I would love your thoughts! Please!

Email is back

Appallingly, the ISP that hosts portigal.com pulled our plug around midnight last night when we exceeded our monthly bandwidth. I am spluttering with rage (really; I am wiping down the screen as I type) and frustration. There was no warning. Indeed, when I got a cryptic automatic warning a month ago and inquired about it, there was no help. I guess blog traffic is pushing me over the edge on bandwidth. That means some form of success, and paying the price for it.

I was able to pay more money and get back into my email, blog, website, etc. And now I’m having Stockholm syndrome. Well, no, but the incredible hassle of moving seems beyond my emotional and technological fortitude at this point – now that this is run with WordPress, I suspect that moving is even hairier than before.

Anyway, very little emailed appeared after this 11 hour absence, and at least one person is reporting a bounceback (that’s not what is supposed to happen, of course). Email is back, so if you sent something and it bounced, please resend.

Classy all the way here. Sheesh. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Squid Spam

I received this spam today

From: roydymond@hotmail.com
To: steve@
Subject: Announcing GIANT SQUID world event survey

Hi

Spirit Quest is a collection of professionals who can succeed in surveying the Giant Squid for the very first time alive and in its own natural habitat.

During surveys other unknown creatures and undiscovered artifacts are likely to be found. This will be seen worldwide on sattelite tv.

I seek now museums and supporting parties to join in sponsorship and other ways for this very important set of expeditions.

The advanced subsea vehicles are designed and tested, ready in storage for final fittings and installation.

I propose the procurement of two 24m sailing ships as each expedition is a duration of 7 months at sea without coming to port. Together these vessels will operate silently 24/7 in all weathers and the subsea vehicles will launch to the great depths required. Both ships will be broadcasting live to the internet as well as documenting evidence for later broadcast.

I look forward to your positive involvement and association with this world class event.

All the best

Roy Dymond MD Principle Spirit Quest

Media Partners www.reverieproductions.com

Series

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