Sep 21, 2008 Blog General
Hello world. I know you’ve been wondering where I’ve been the past few days. No blogs, no twitters, no Facebook updates. Well, since you’ve been wondering and its been a dying question ( :rolleyes: ), here I am:
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I currently am sitting in my hotel room in Indianapolis, Indiana. Indianapolis is one of those smaller market cities that (unless you’re from here) you always assume you know where it is by instinct but always need to check a map to make sure. For example, I was completely turned around for a couple of hours here until I figured out that I was still in the Eastern time zone. Guess all places midwest aren’t automatically CST. Also, until you’ve done it a few times, you find yourself checking how to spell Indianapolis each time you attempt to. I practiced a few times before braving into this blog post. I-N-D-I-N-A… hrm. I-N-D-I-A-N-I-A-N-A… dang…
Ok, I shouldn’t joke around. I’m very familiar with Midwestern cities after living in Kansas City for 3 years. And by the definition of Midwest cities: This town is great! The locals are friendly (even though the Colts lost a close one tonight). The climate is enjoyable. There are so many great places to eat within walking distance of downtown. We actually decided on Ruth’s Chris steakhouse for dinner. I forgot exactly how pricey that place was. Guess we’ll be doing Steak’n'Shake for the rest of the trip.
I’m here for the ExactTarget User’s Conference. We’re attending their advanced training tomorrow, and the rest of the conference will be Tuesday through Thursday. We’re hoping to glean some helpful email marketing tips and advanced strategies. We recently added an advanced module to our account, and so far it has enabled us to do a lot of fantastic things with our account. We’re hoping to learn even more about it. There’s also some great keynote speakers lined up that I’m excited about, including Tony Dungy (Head Coach of the Colts) and Christopher Gardner (author of The Pursuit of Happyness). I have to give major credit to a man who can come back from such a disappointing loss and deliver a business related speech. I know it’s the furthest thing from his mind tonight, but I certainly am looking forward to what he delivers.
So hopefully I’ll be able to come back each night with a few take-away items and post them here. My apologies to all the readers of my blog (Hi Mom and Dad) for ditching a few nights in a row. I actually ended up letting go of an employee on Friday, and for anyone who knows me this isn’t a process I take lightly. I was pretty bummed out about it and blogging was the last thing I wanted to be doing. Whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing I’m a nice guy by nature. I have a hard time letting people go, especially ones that I have become friends with. However, as a good friend of mine once said: “We’re not in business to make friends”. I certainly wish the best to that employee and hope that she can become the rock star for a firm who needs someone with a skill-set like she has.
Sep 18, 2008 Unordered Miscellany
I found some content for my Halloween site that I’ll be kicking off really soon. I’m super stoked about the domain: Halloweenr.com. Right now, it’s in its own state of fail, but I’m working on it. New theme, new content. Give it something viral. Actually, I really don’t have much of a plan for it except toy around with it until something works. That’s kinda how things work on a budget. But I do love the domain.
Costumes, pranks, decorations, scary stories, horror movies… not sure exactly what I’m going to put on the domain. If it ends up like most of my blogs, it will have a wide-variety of content. What would be ideal would be if I could figure out a way to get user generated content. Any ideas?
Years ago, before Napstergate and the dot bomb bust, my favorite website was a streaming music service called Echo.com (don’t go there now, it’s a logistics company now. Check out the archive here instead). There really has been nothing like it since. It was basically a “personalized” radio, but you were able to invite friends to join your station and chatroom and while there share the same stream with you. Anyone could vote thumbs up or down on a song, and if the majority of voted thumbs down on a song, it would skip and go to a different song. I spent hundreds, if not thousands, of hours creating the ultimate radio station with my friends popping in at any given time. When Echo.com announced that they closed their doors, I was simply heartbroken.
Today there are several services that offer the streaming “personalized” radio similar to Echo. The major players are Pandora, Slacker, and Last.fm. All of which offer personalized radio stations, though none offer the true social component like Echo did. A couple do have “friend” capabilities, but it is very limited what friends can do. However, as far as creating a station around tastes that you like, I think all of these services have evolved tremendously in the past few years.
Another cool feature is that some of these stations will travel with you offline. Pandora offers several ways to make your music portable, via mobile phones (including the iPhone) and stereo add-ons like the Logitech Squeezebox series. Slacker has a cool offline offering too: a proprietary wi-fi enabled player.
I have been a long-time Pandora user, fan and supporter. There have been so many times where the music Pandora offered had matched my mood that it could have created a mashup album. Some of the suggestions are pure genius (although I’ll admit sometimes it can be off). Example of a perfect match: The Beatles “Blackbird” playing on my Modest Mouse station. Another example: Led Zeppelin on my Pearl Jam station. Want another example? Check out my bookmarked songs, you’ll see a few different patterns.
Even though I’m a fan of Pandora, I decided that during the next week or so I’m going to give the other two a valiant test. I’ve used Last.fm a few times. I think I finally understand their UI. Slacker is much easier to use, but I just never got around to creating an account for their free web-based player. I’ve done that now and tomorrow will be the first full day of Slackerdom.
I’ll post my observations on the services, once I feel I’ve observed something.