Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Peoria Blogger Bash August 2010

The Peoria Blogger Bash was again held at
the Fieldhouse restaurant in CampusTown.
I had my standard Cajun Burger
with homemade potato chips.

Peoria Anti Pundit aka Emtronic
demonstrates his Android browser's
capabilities to C.J. Summers of
The Peoria Chronicle.

Peoria electoral politics and many other
arcane and mysterious topics
were vigorously discussed.

(We generally avoid
debating national politics.)

My job as photo journalist
is not as easy as it may look.
For this shot, I stood on a chair.

That's Billy Dennis aka Peoria Pundit
in the foreground on the right,
leaning back and
grinning knowingly.

Peoria Councilman
Gary V. Sandberg
arrives with "Block the Bonds"
petitions in hand.

Peoria Councilman
Gary V. Sandberg

Deirdre "DK" Hirner
who is running for US Congress
in Illinois' 18th District.

Sheldon Schafer
also is running for US Congress
in the Illinois 18th District
as the Green Party candidate.

We came. We saw. We ate.
In between bites and gulps,
we talked and laughed.

Was anyone paying any attention
to the ball game?

Perhaps a little bit, sporadically.

Sophie enjoys the Peoria blogger
socializing and the Fieldhouse food.

Shall we quit our jobs
and move all our blogs
to TellPeoria?

Wait and see.

Steven E. Streight
Vaspers the Grate

I'd like to point out that C.J. Summers
got two slabs of tenderloin,
one is bunned and being eaten
whilst the other slab sits there
in the basket by the fries,

I was tempted to swipe it
while he was off talking to somebody,
but I exercised astonishing
self-restraint and declined to do so.

Tenderloins were on sale tonight:
just $5.00.

And he got two slabs!

Vaspers distributes print-outs
of his latest blog post
"12 Common Blog Mistakes"
to the distinguished company.

This was the "special treat"
he promised to share tonight.

Well, at least he didn't try to
inflict any of his Str8 Sounds
techno music CDs on them!

Vaspers tries to put his arm around
Peoria Pundit, but his frozen shoulder
made it too painful to accomplish.

Peoria Anti Pundit (left)
Peoria Pundit (right)
discuss what it means
to be a blogger in Peoria, IL

C.J. Summers of The Peoria Chronicle
and Vaspers holding a bag of post print-outs.

Peoria Blogger Bashes
are fun and enlightening.

If you're a Peoria area blogger,
be sure to attend these events
and meet the local social media
warriors who are trying to make a
difference in Central Illinois.

Putting the "city"
back into diversity.

Also see:
Peoria Blogger Bash June 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

12 Common Blog Mistakes

(1) No editorial linking strategy.

Not linking to online sources when quoting them, or as references under a Further Reading type category at the end of the post.

This is also a typical failing of online versions of newspapers and magazines. Sometimes the avoidance of linking is based on fear of sending readers off your website, as though they'll never come back, which is the old fashioned concept of "stickiness" (keeping people trapped on your website).

Don't be absurd. Your blog will gain more credibility when you substantiate what you say by linking to the sources and other relevant online information.

(2) Spambot-friendly email display.

Displaying your email address as somebody@yahoo.com makes it easy for spambots to harvest, sell, and send spam to your email address. Always display it like this: vaspers [at] inbox [dot] com

(3) Generic design template.

When you use a generic design template, instead of a customized header and layout, your blog looks amateur, cold, non-personalized -- and it won't stand out as unique.

(4) Faceless / No avatar.

Not showing a photo of yourself or some image that represents what your blog is about. If you have a good reason not to show your face, at least use some visual device, logo, or other graphic that immediately lets people know your general interest and topic area.

(5) Solid blocks of text.

These are hard to read. Break up your text into bite-sized paragraphs. This will greatly reduce reading fatigue and make your blog look smarter, better presented.

(6) Full of ads.

When a blog is loaded with advertisements, the credibility is greatly reduced because many spammers and con artists will do this.

We've all seen them. You do an internet search on a topic, and some of the links go to sites that have very little relevant content, just enough to pull you in, and the minimal content, which is usually copied and pasted from some other site, is just a lure to get you to click on the ads.

(7) No tagline or slogan.

This is one of the fun parts of blogging: inventing some catchy, clever, or comical tag line.

A tagline or slogan is short text that acts as a motto or summary of what you're blogging about, or a glimpse into your personality, or just a funny statement.

"You just stepped into a pile of posts" is a humorous one. My tagline for this Pluperfecter blog is "Web Content. Social Media. Marketing Strategy."

See my post "Blog Taglines Experiment #1" which caught the attention of the BusinessWeek blog.

(8) No link to your corporate or ecommerce site.

If you own a business, or have a product selling website, you need to put a link to it way up at the top of your blog sidebar. Make your company logo a clickable graphic link. You should also try to do posts about various products you sell, or aspects of your business, or topics related to your industry expertise.

(9) No multimedia.

All text blogs are like dinosaurs, they're becoming extinct. People like informative reading material, but they also like photos, video, and audio in a blog.

Get a digital camera, a webcam or camcorder, a video editor like Magix or Sony Vegas, a computer-compatible USB microphone like Samson CO1U, and audio editing tool, like the free Audacity.

You should make your own videos and you can also find relevant videos on sites like YouTube and Vimeo. You can do your own podcasts and audio files, then embed or link to them on your blog.

(10) Typos.

It can be very annoying to read a blog post full of spelling errors. Each blogger has to decide where he or she stands on this issue of typos. Edit and revise. Typos can cause people to not understand what you're saying.

I personally think it's lazy to allow typos to remain in a blog post. I usually print out my posts to edit them one last time, as I can't spend a lot of time on the computer due to physical disabilities.

Have another person read your posts. An extra set of eyeballs can catch things that you blanked out on. Typos are another sign that a blog is amateur and not sufficiently concerned about readers.

(11) No links to your Twitter, YouTube, or Facebook accounts.

Way up high on your blog sidebar should be a "Follow Me on Twitter" link, "My YouTube Videos" link, a Facebook link badge (if you're on that horrible surveillance site), and any other social media sites you're on. Bloggers often forget to include these links, but your true fans will want to know your other online content locations.

(12) Obsession with Comments and Traffic.

Don't worry so much about how many comments you receive or how much traffic you're getting. Just keep adding frequent, relevant, helpful, entertaining, or educational content to your blog.

You can increase your comments by posting comments on other blogs related to your own and by adopting a friendly tone that invites people to share their viewpoints.

As far as traffic goes, numbers are not the main thing. Even if you reach only a few readers, you may have a huge impact, especially if those readers are significant influencers in their field.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Top Posting vs Bottom Posting

Discussion lists are email conversations you subscribe to, which also allow you to reply to threads or start a new one. I've been subscribed to a few web developer discussion lists for several years now. Each discussion list has its own rules and netiquette.

One of the major issues is top posting vs. bottom posting when you include quotes from the original post, plus replies to that post, in your own reply to a specific thread.

The main options are:

(1) interleaved posting (inline replying, in which the reply is woven into the original post)

(2) bottom-posting (the quoted portion appears first, followed by your own reply underneath the quoted material)

(3) top-posting (your reply appears first, followed by the original message and some or all replies to that post).

In some cases, people may trim the quoted material, selecting only the most salient points, or only the specific questions or answers they are responding to.

One of the lists I subscribe to is the webdesign-L discussion list, which states the following rules:

* Trim your replies. Avoid quoting the entire preceding post, and take care not to include the list footer.

When replying, quote only what is needed for context. While most people will not remember the previous message verbatim, you should assume that those interested have been following the thread and do not need to reread the previous post to understand yours. Quoting the entire message wastes bandwidth, annoys members, and makes the digest hard to read.

* Avoid over-trimming.

Include names, but not the email addresses, of persons being quoted, relevant URLs, and enough of the original post so that readers know to what and whom you’re responding. If you’re responding to several posts, or to the thread in general, please say so.

* Do not top-post; write your reply below the quoted portion(s) of the message to which you are replying.

Recently, some subscribers started a debate on discussion list netiquette and email clients. The moderator, calling himself List Mom, jumped into the fray to set the record straight. Here's how he explains his ban on top posting.

(See all the webdesign-l policies.)


Everyone has a different set of correspondents, with different sets of expectations and capabilities and tolerances.

If you grew up on pine and elm and mutt and even Eudora, you'll have an experience of email similar to that of those who hung out on Usenet, because that's where the people who wrote pine and elm and mutt and Eudora hung out.

Given that Usenet was the largest community of message swapping professionals ever created and set the standard for those to come in terms of etiquette, I tend to think that they might have just maybe gotten a few things right. They certainly documented their experiences with Netiquette, and whether you managed to see them or not really isn't the issue.

If you grew up on AOL, you have a high tolerance for idiotic quoting, because AOL's mail and forum clients had lousy quoting.

If you cut your teeth on Lotus Notes, you likely expect to top-post reply, because as I recall, Notes just appended the *entire thread* to the bottom of every message and reply, and didn't let you edit it, even to do the sort of interleaved quote/reply style of communication that lets you actually answer a question.

If you use Gmail, you'll default to top-posting and feel that interleaving is a waste of your time because Gmail makes it more difficult to do so.

Outlook users and others whose clients make it difficult to do proper quoting and nested attribution will find such practices foreign and will not be familiar with them.

Anyone who was introduced to email via (shudder) MSMail circa Windows for Workgroups will expect every reply to contain a WINMAIL.DAT attachment, because the programmers who wrote MSMail were huffing gasoline and had zero experience with email, reading standards documents, and so on. Though it was probably invisible to the actual users of MSMail, I can't recall. It certainly wasn't invisible to anyone else.

So, in a sense, you're right - etiquette is constantly evolving, which is another way of saying that since the Eternal September, there have been a few hundred million people come online who are ignorant of all that came before them, and to suit their bewildered and pathetic need not to have to understand history, programmers and product managers have striven to make it "easy" instead of trying to make it "useful", because easy sells the software and useful hurts at first.

By the time they've come to understand how painful using tools that suck actually is, the market has stupidified itself to the point where there isn't any real choice of decent software left, unless you're willing to do a lot of research and ignore a lot of misleading claims and experiment a bit with different mail clients.

I use mutt because it lets me treat email like I do any other text document, use my favorite editor, and so forth. It's how I've done email since the early 1990s, if you don't count a few years in Eudora, which was essentially the same experience but with more windows.

For me, it's how email *is*.

Anything else is a distortion, a failure of design, and a retrograde move to the eventual loss of civilized discourse to the pre-literate, drooling moronic exchange of funny cat pictures and videos of children biting other childrens' fingers by people who think every file is the same size because the icons are all the same size.

I don't know what systems you've used, and frankly don't care.

I started this list, back in 1997, back when the question of whether "HTML email" would survive was not yet settled, and ran it on Majordomo until 2003 or so, filtering out HTML mail and attachments and top posts and failed trims, and have done the same on Mailman since, and I set the policies based on the best practices as I understand them. Like it or not, the expectation is that you'll follow them.

If you don't, all you're hurting is yourself, because the people who I consider most worthy of respect here will think you're boorish at best and careless and rude at worst. But your reputation here is in your hands, the policies are well-documented, and that's the last thing I have to say on the matter in this thread.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Typo and Spam Destruction of English Language

Two things are destroying the English language.

They're happening online, and you may be guilty of generating or tolerating them both. I'm talking about typos and spam.

You shouldn't have to be told not to commit typos in your posts or comments -- or to permit spam to attach itself to your blog. If you just exercise a little common sense, you'd come to that conclusion. Typos and spam should not be permitted to gain an insidious foothold on our communication system.

Yet many people do just that.

They let language corruption thrive, by contributing to its generation, multiplication and dissemination.

They let typos enter the internet and they don't care what example they're setting for youngsters, immigrants, illiterates, or people trying to learn English as a second language. By letting your typo dangle in the wind, it becomes a flag of semantic degeneracy. An exegetical nonsensicality. Sentence content defilement. Hermeneutic nuisance. A non-extrapulatory excursion into disconnection.

Sentences convey meaning and sentences are composed of individual words. Words that must be spelled and used correctly.

They also fail to put reader comments into moderation, a tool that prevents spam from automatically getting published on a blog.

You don't need a captcha (word recognition device that separates spambots from humans), unless you're flooded with comment spam and don't want to have to delete hundreds of spam comments every day. Captchas are often hard for humans to decipher, what with all those wobbly letters and visual noise and jumbling.

Use comment moderation instead. That puts you in complete control of the content, your own and user-generated, that's presented on your blog. Make people wait to see their comment appear; let them experience eventual gratification, rather than instant. It won't hurt them.

Spam and typos exhibit a wanton disregard for decency and order in human information exchange. They must be stopped.

Let's take a look at how typos and spam are corrupting and permanently changing the English language.

Typos Attack Spelling

Typos are when you put sloppy text online, in Twitter or your own blog or a comment on someone else's blog.

Many years ago, I read that typos are mandatory online and in email. Why? Because typos are evidence that you're a busy, therefore important, multi-tasking, pro-active person.

You doesn't have time to be bothered with correcting a fat finger mistake.

I disagree.

There is never any reason to let mangled text flood the web.

What's the matter with you anyway?

Do you not care about communication, accuracy, meaning?

Are you in such a big hurry, you can't spare a moment to keep the lines of communication free from contaminants?

Are you secretly happy to wreck the language? You never won any spelling bee championships, can'y keep a dictionary at hand, don't know how to use spell check -- and you just read comic books anyway?

I mean, language does so much work for us, accepting our diversity and adversity with not a whimper, yet we treat it like a red-haired stepchild with a faulty license plate. Or a can of worms that crawls hideously across the richocheting rockets and creaking chasms of relationships, bearing our ill-begotten fears and fights?

Language has been instrumental in all our success, and failure, and do we then treat it like a sideshow, a worthless freak, a tool we use nonchalantly, willy-nilly, with no concern about its own well-being?

You think I have so much free time on my hands that I can spend time analyzing your typo to try to decipher what you were trying to say? I can't play guessing games with you. I have too much work to do. I can't be juggling everybody's letters around and doing mental strikes just to make sense of what you say. Or

΄sɓuıךʍɐɹɔs pǝךɓuɐʇ ɹnoʎ ǝךqɯɐɹɔsun oʇ sdıךɟʞɔɐq ɓuıop

Zero tolerance fo typos, I say. If you can't espresso your sylph without errors, plz remain silent .

Typos are rude. Typos are selfish. Typos are negligent, unprofessional, and stupid.

Typos are saying this to your readers:

"I'm too smug and self-sastisfied to worry about you struggling to understand what I post online. Figure it out. Substitute one letter for another. Insert omitted letters. Read between the consonants. In time, you'll understand what I was trying to say. I'm all wired from energy drinks and candy. I have much more to say, and so many places to say it. Obviously, I can't waste a single moment correcting a silly littel typo. It's like a white lie. Small. Insignificant. Deal with it."

Every time you let a typo slip out online, you're perverting the English language, falsifying it, disrespecting it, abusing it and yoru readers. You're hurting the language, disgracing it, diminishing it, smashing it to shreds, and ripping it apart.

Spam Attacks Logic, Rhetoric, and Relevance

It seems that about 90% of the time, spam is delivered online in mangled syntax, bad grammar, poor word choice, tangential irrelevance, broken punctuation, and incorrect spellings.

In other words, spam is nonsensical. It talks about things that have nothing to do with your blog. Spam runs off on tangents that generally loop around to the product the spammer is misguidedly trying to sell.

Here are four examples of spam in my comment moderation for this blog today, which I deleted.


Hello All. After lurking around pluperfecter.blogspot.com for a while and enjoying the site from the background I have decided to join up!...There seems to be some really good member in here and I like very much [URL]


Am new here, got to this site by searching G and truly like it here, will enjoy my stay for sure P.S. if somebody is also interested in watch free movies online you can see my Sig.


If you want talk with me than take a look at [deleted] i don't know yet. I think it's [deleted] This is mandy from all my movies and here is my invitation to you to take a look at [deleted]


Get Genuine Ways To Earn Money Online With Payment Proofs. You Can Learn How To Make Money With Traffic Improvement Tips and make $100 every day. So That You Don't Waste Your Time And Money.for details click here [deleted]

Although I know these comments were spawned by evil spambot programs, and not manually deposited by human agents, I shall respond to them anyway.

My response to the spam messages:

(1) There's nothing to "join" or sign up for.

(2) I don't watch movies online or anywhere else, as I hate Hollywood. I'm a book reader and a music lover. No time for films, except for the occasional avant garde experimental flick over at Ubu Web.

(3) I'm very married and don't need to "take a look" at you, your "movies", or anything else of yours.

(4) What the heck are "payment proofs"? My proof I got paid is cash in fist, money in my pocket, and whistling a rickety sea shanty I trot off to the store to buy a bunch of junk I don't need. I'm not interested in giving you money online so you can show me how to make other people give me money online, or any other scams, sorry.

Now that you've seen how typos and spam are disrupting and mutating the English language, promise yourself and the internet that you'll cease and desist from adding to the cesspool of semiotic decay.

Thank you.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

12 tips for creating business blog content

One of the major problems for business blogs is "What kind of content should I put on it?"

Business owners often stop right there.

They've never created much content on the web. They may have read a few blogs, skimmed over some comments, or followed a debate in an online forum. Perhaps they've even posted some remarks here and there, on someone else's blog.

But they generally don't know how to write blog posts. To suddenly start writing articles, and letting others post criticism, questions, complaints, right there for all to see, can seem a bit intimidating. Blogs give you the opportunity to express your point of view and benefit others, so you should want to receive feedback from readers, both negative and positive.

Once you appreciate the communication value of blogging, how do you even guess what to talk about in a blog post?

What if you say something that upsets a customer? Nobody wants to look dumb or get into a big argument. Also, people don't want a blogger to be constantly pushing products in a high pressure manner. Relentless sales hype or self-promotion in social media is considered spam.

So how do you blog about your business, in a way that will be interesting and valuable to others, without offending or boring anybody? In other words, how can one be altruistic and relevant in social media, while accomplishing business objectives?

Here are 12 tips for creating content on a business blog:

(1) Focus on Benefits to Others

Have a clear goal: to benefit others with your unique insights, expertise, product knowledge, industry experience, customer service enthusiasm, and personal style. This goal will guide all your blogging, from information shared and tone of voice, to sidebar widgets and blog design.

(2) Be Friendly and Sincere

Consider a blog to be an “email to the world" (- Doc Searls).

Write the article as if you were composing an email to someone who looks to you as a mentor, a customer who just asked you a great question, a student learning about your industry, a news reporter who asked you to clarify a policy, or a colleague who challenged you to think deeply about some aspect of your business.

Communicate in your own words, in a warm and human manner, as though you were discussing a topic with a person who was physically present with you.

(3) Solve a Problem

If you've been in business a while, you have a wealth of information about specific customer needs and interests. What's a common problem your customers encounter? Explain how to solve it, even if it doesn't necessarily involve buying your product. Be altruistic, eager to serve, happy to help others.

Customers are always looking for ways to do things better, faster, more economically. Do you have a solution you wish they knew about? That would be an excellent blog topic. Make your explanation short, simple, step-by-step, and inject a little humor if you can.

(4) Answer Questions

What questions do customers ask you constantly? What concerns related to your field is the mainstream media all fired up about? What are some facts that your sales literature or website weren't able to expand upon as much as you wish they could?

Is there some important, newsworthy aspect of your industry that your competitors are silent about? Here's your chance to differentiate yourself from them. Shine the light of your wisdom on the issue to educate your blog audience.

(5) Challenge a Mantra

Is there some phrase that people repeat without thinking, like a mantra or proverb? Like "Content is King" or "Location is Everything" or "Privacy is Old Fashioned"? Is the statement always valid? In what context is it false or misleading? Is it self-serving or exploiting? What are the exceptions? Can you come up with a more accurate phrase?

Is the truth more like "Content is Important, but Without Good Presentation and Audience Relevance, It Won't Be Effective"? Think of some idea or saying that has been abused, misinterpreted, or is outdated, and write a blog post that explains your insight regarding the topic.

(6) Explain a New or Neglected Product

Do you have a new product that's unfamiliar to customers? How about an old product that remains fantastic, but is under-utilized? Which of your products or services contains a special benefit that people don't appreciate? A new way of using the product that's not immediately obvious? Is there a product that would sell better if people had some background information about it? Provide this clarification as a blog post, or a series of posts.

(7) Spark Controversy

Do you have a strong feeling or opinion that might surprise people? Do you have an opinion that's runs contrary to the prevailing point of view? Is there a commonly held misunderstanding concerning your industry that has gained traction in the media.

Do battle with this false concept. Proclaim your contrarian idea, be assertive and confident without any arrogance or ill will, and back up your claim with credible quotes and links to substantiating reference material online.

(8) Share New Discoveries

As a professional, you have to keep up with trends and developments in your field. Your customers look to you as an expert, someone they can trust to keep them up-to-date, separating the wheat from the chaff. Teach your audience what you've learned recently. Pay attention to what the news media is reporting on, do some research, then set the record straight or deliver the information in a more complete or simplified presentation.

(9) Tell a Story

People love narratives. Do you have a favorite anecdote related to your business?

Something funny that happened when you first started out? A mistake you made and a lesson learned?

A bizarre customer request? An unexpected way your product was used? A customer request that caused you to improve your business or re-position your product? A customer service dilemma you figured out how to solve? A tale about why and how you got into this business?

(10) Respond to Another Blog

You should be reading other blogs relevant to your industry, and posting comments on them once in a while. As you do this, you'll stumble upon a post that shakes you up, inspires you, or makes you angry, or cause you to re-think something.

Maybe a brilliant blogger in your field wrote something that you bookmarked as a favorite web page. Perhaps you Twittered a link to it, it was so good. Why not quote some of that post, linking to it in your citation of the post's title, and add your own remarks or amplifications to it? That's a really great way to honor other bloggers and add rich content to your own blog.

(11) Tie in With a Viral News Story

Here's a way to please your readers and generate more traffic to your blog. It's an SEO (search engine optimization) technique that can work wonders. You ride on the coattails of an already super-popular topic.

Think of some current news item that everybody's talking about. How can you merge that topic with your own business, your industry, or the products you sell? How could you deal with this news item, in a way that relates to your own expertise?

A creative mind can link any two events or concepts. Just build a bridge from the news item to your products or business field.

Let's say the big buzz is a sports hero who was caught illegally using steroids. You sell sports equipment.You know a lot of athletes and you have formed your own opinion about performance enhancing drugs in professional sports. State your opinion in a blog post, with links to the story as it's presented on the big online media, like ESPN, Huffington Post, Fox News, MSNBC, or WebMD.

This will keep your blog timely, and it will drive traffic from web surfers who are doing internet searches related to a hot news topic.

(12) Make a List

What are your favorite books that deal with your industry or field of expertise? Who are your biggest influences in business? What are your company's driving philosophies? What are your favorite movies? People like lists, especially when they can learn something from them.

People like to feel they know a business owner as a person, not a vending machine that simply wants to sell products and make money. By sharing things you care about personally, as a non-commercial individual, you make yourself more accessible to regular folk.

Lists are fun to read and can inspire others. Lists also convey the sense that a methodical approach is being taken, rather than a rambling rant or heated expression of emotion.

Be sure to include the number in your blog post title: "8 Ways to Improve Your Memory", "12 Leadership Books CEOs Need to Read", "15 Tips on Search Engine Optimization", “7 Ways to Keep Your Kids Safe Online”, “5 Dangers of Location-based Status Updating”, or "Top 10 Books for Sales Professionals".

When the driving force behind your business blog is caring and sharing, the core values of social media participation, you'll naturally tend to compose articles that people will look forward to reading. Even better, you'll generate good will and deeper understanding of your business, which will result in increased sales and business success.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Naturally Yours example of a business blog

I sold a blog design to the manager of Naturally Yours Grocery about 3 years ago. When their employee blogger decided it was time for him to stop blogging, I took over the content generation, and became the Web Systems Administrator for the company.

In addition to the blog, I handle their Twitter and Facebook accounts, monitor and offer advice on their ecommerce shopping site, and do digital photography and online video for them.

A few days ago, I did a revision of the entire blog design, header and template. You may find this new design to be interesting.

My article "12 Tips for Creating Business Blog Content" will be published in InterBusiness Issues in the October 2010 issue, which is dedicated to Technology as the theme. In this issue, iBi looks at some of the key technologies having an impact on today's business world.

In my article, I refer to Naturally Yours blog as a spot where I endeavor to implement my best ideas about business blogging.

One of the main ideas is this SEO (search engine optimization) technique: write a blog article that's related to a current viral news story in the mainstream media, and be sure to quote and link to the major online news articles.

An example of this SEO technique is my post "Salmonella Egg Recall".

Many other business blog concepts are discussed in this upcoming article, but you can learn a lot just by looking at what I'm doing, and how I'm doing it, on the blog itself.

Just click the Naturally Yours blog header above and check it out. You may see some ideas that you could use in your business or CEO blog.

Monday, August 16, 2010

my Google credit card

It finally arrived.

I'm okay. A little emotional, but I'll be fine.

My Google credit card arrived today and I can't wait to take my family out to dinner. I've got $100 on it right now, so that means a nice restaurant this time, in a good area of town maybe.

I might even stop off at the record store and see if the Lucky Dragons CD is in from back-order yet.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Blogging is Devotion

Blogging takes discipline. A unique mentality.

You must have a strong need to share what you know. You have some expertise or viewpoint or insights. If you blog for traffic, you're in a popularity contest with superficial criteria. If lack of comments causes you to question if you should keep blogging, you don't get it.

You blog because you must express or push something. You blog to keep your brain from exploding. Like a monk, the blogger is detached from praise and blame, from cheers and flames. You blog because you're a blogger.

Your passive, non-expressive friends who simply seek to be pleased and entertained, they will not understand your blogging. It wouldn't be comfortable for them to struggle with communicating their passions, if they have any.

You're "different" in the worst possible meaning of that word. Your peers look at you funny. They know you've got posts inside you that demand to be published to the web.

You blog because you have a blog and its need for fresh content is insatiable.

Adorno is Art #2 Recently Added Highlights

Click on image above
for larger view.

Str8 Sounds "Adorno is Art" ranks #2 in Recently Added Highlights on WFMU Free Music Archive. This song is from my Str8 Sounds "Aesthetic Theory" CD.

Steven Streight, of Str8 Sounds, performed live on WFMU with his earlier band Camouflage Danse, August 4, 1986, on the Dan the Immigrant Show (East Orange, NJ).

We are honored to be selected as a Recently Added Highlight.

WFMU Free Music Archive
Recently Added Highlights

(As of 2:40 AM Saturday August 14, 2010)

1. The Rope River Blues Band "A Dream"

2. Str8 Sounds "Adorno is Art"

3. Judenfrei "Black Mold Seance"

4. The Knaves "The Campfire Ethos"

5. Amazing/Wow "Covered in Blood"

6. RAUL "Latin America"

7. Weyes Bluhd "Liquor Castle"

8. Andrij Orel "Against Imagination"

9. Duane Pitre "Perfect/Imperfect" (live)

10. The Pleasure Kills "Chat With Efd"

Check out Free Music Archive "Selected Sounds Vol. 1" sampler CD.

Also Free Music Archive "Selected Sounds Vol. 2" sampler CD.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Aesthetic Theory on WFMU Free Music Archive

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Reliable Sound vs Unpredictable Music

Starflyer 59 has a new album that sounds almost exactly like most of their older albums. That's good news for those who prefer a solid standard sound in a band, reliable, expected, "art that seeks to please", as Adorno sneered.

Must your favorite bands really progress, going in new directions that may make them no longer sound anything like their previous recordings? Or should they grind out material, with a small amount of clowning around or slight experimentation, but within strictly enforced boundaries?

Is music production, creating new songs or sonic events, focused on being popular with non-musician fans? Other musicians? Other artists in your specific genre and style?

Or should music be universal? Easy to listen to and understand. Unchallenging. Comfortable. Conformist.

Is music a party or a laboratory?

I suspect that most people like certain bands to keep creating a particular sound, while other artists are enjoyed because you never know what they'll do next, within a genre, or zigzagging in and out of genres, which has become a genre in itself, the trans-genred genre.

When marketing music to fans, how should the music be portrayed? How do you depict the band? In what manner, what tone, what point of view?

Let's take a look at how some bands are promoted via ad copy, the words used in the advertising campaigns.

Here's what Starflyer 59 puts on a landing page announcing the new album "The Changing of the Guard" on Facebook. They quote a review, and use it as the ad copy.

Notice how an evolution in the sound is described by the reviewer, veering dangerously close to disappointing some fans.

Calling the current music "stripped down", back to basics, departing from lush orchestrations -- this simplified sound is not everyone's cut of tea. The band tried this a few times, returning to a raw, driving, hard rock sound, with great success, but quickly abandoned it for their typical reverberating shoe gaze.

Fortunately for the diehard shoegaze fans, this album delivers what's expected, what SF59 is trademarked and branded as: introspection rock, being dreary and sincere because it's fun. As the reviewer below states: "...not thrills, but a warm and welcoming embrace."

Mushy, to some, but does everything need to confront, agitate, and shock?

Who knows? LOL

Starflyer 59 on Myspace

Reviews by real people are far more effective than corporate fluff and hard sell hype.

What's your best product? How many genuine testimonials do you have regarding it? Can you use some quotes from fans and customers in your ad copy?

Marketing strategy must come from the bottom up, not the top down. Go to your customers. Listen to them. Use the very words and phrases that they use when describing the features and benefits of your products.


Since the release of the modern shoegaze classic "Leave Here a Stranger", Jason Martin and Starflyer 59 have been slowing stripping back the layered and processed sound they utilized so perfectly on that album.

Moving to a simpler and more direct sonic approach can cause problems if the songs are weak.

Martin has proven again and again that he’s equal to the challenge of writing memorable, emotional songs that would sound good no matter how they are arranged or recorded.

On "The Changing of the Guard", he delivers another batch of low-key melodic and hooky tunes that will satisfy SF59 fans who are used to the high-quality output that’s been established over the past 17 (!) years.

The changes since 2008’s "Dial M" are subtle, mostly in the sound of Martin’s voice, which is a little deeper and less bathed in reverb than in the past.

It’s a little disconcerting at first to hear him sounding manly and high in the mix, but he can pull it off easily. The voice fits well with the slight country-rock influence heard in songs like “Truckers Son” and the almost boogying rocker “C.M.A.R.," which needs a bit of a sneer to succeed.

While the bulk of the album stays firmly in the midtempo ballad mode, the handful of songs that bump the energy level a little (like the chiming “I Had a Song for the Ages” and the almost jaunty “Kick the Can”) help break up the melancholy some. So does the almost danceable “Time Machine,” which has the album’s best chorus and features Martin crooning like a less worldly Stephin Merritt.

Fans of the band know by now that you don’t come looking to SF59 for thrills, you come looking for a warm and welcoming embrace. "The Changing of the Guard" is exactly the kind of sonic comfort food that the band has been cooking up lately, and even if it doesn’t improve on recent efforts, there are no signs of wear either.

~ Tim Sendra, Rovi


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Str8 Sounds mind music pt 3 VIDEO

Str8 Sounds "Mind Music, Pt. 4 - Conclusion" (1:55)

Live 1:30 to 2:30 PM on August 6, 2010. Parts 3 - 4 were adjuncts performed in the studio, as a supplement, to finish off the day's outdoor event. The weather was beautiful.

A brief excerpt here -- to give a glimpse into the whole enchilada, a swirling summer sound collage.

Check out Str8 Sounds "Mind Music -Part 3" (9:56) at YouTube.



Monday, August 9, 2010

Public Records uses social media for product research

Evolution of Recent
Electronic Music
in 3 Phases:

On June 4, 2010, Public Records announced a partnership with Loopmasters. It was on the Loopmasters site that I saw the news item. In the Public Records music site, electronic musicians, most of them now composing in loops and samples, submit songs for user review.

Fans and fellow musicians vote on the best new songs posted on Public Records, which is a form of product research online. They're using this social networking interaction method to help decide which aspiring artists are worthy of signing to the Public Records label.

A smart move would be to make this Upload | Vote | Release (classic 3 step action set of social media) an ongoing process, in preparation for upcoming label releases, but also to keep the social media interaction fire alive.

Public Records Introduction by PublicRecords

Marketing strategy certainly comes from the bottom up, not the top down. By getting users of the music site to participate, there will be more user buzz generated, and the label gets free access to customer insight.

When products are based on real user needs, with creative presentation and fun participation, they're more likely to succeed and be imitated, which sets off another set of problems, that can again be solved by obtaining user input and predicting future behaviors.

Here are the WAV audio files of my Str8 Sounds techno music that I submitted, via SoundCloud audio hosting, to Public Records.

Circus Balloon Revolution by str8sounds

Harmonic Clarity by str8sounds

Music Radar: Computer Music Magazine offers a DVD of 2 GB of free acidized loops and samples, plus much else, every month.


Public Records set up for the specific purpose of providing talented and undiscovered artists with an effective platform to launch their careers.

The site makes use of social media tools so that user votes and feedback are easily and seamlessly spread across the web, promoting your music to an untapped audience during the voting stage. Even if your submitted tracks aren’t ultimately signed we will help spread your music across social networks and draw new attention to your music, increasing your profile.

If you are signed with us, we’ll PR your music and make use of our list of key partnerships to get your music out there. Our artist agreement is simple and easy to understand, and we only look for your commitment on a track-by-track basis. We are here to act a launch pad to move on to other labels if you choose – think of us as a starting point to big things for you.

The label is open to all styles of music with an electronic influence and our first EP will be an eclectic mix, so whatever your flavour we’re here to listen!

Our submission phase officially launches today (June 4th 2010) and we’ll be accepting tracks until July 4th.

From July 11 to August 11 we’ll post our short-listed tracks on www.publicrecordings.co.uk for public comments and voting.

Shortly after the voting period ends, we’ll offer the five most highly rated track producers the option to release with us! We plan on releasing at least one EP every quarter.

For full details of the submission, voting and release process you can visit the labels FAQ page.

If you feel it’s time for you music to be heard, why wait? Submit your track now