Saturday, December 28, 2013

How To Prove You Can Do the Job at an Employment Interview

Want to get that job? Want to know the #1 secret, the single most powerful thing you can do to nail a  job interview?

Even if you're not asked, explain how you would solve a typical problem that is related to the job. Or, even better, ask what one of their toughest problems is at the company at which you're applying.

If they won't tell you what a major problem is at the company, then say, "Well then, here's what I have observed to be a very common problem in this industry, one that is very difficult for most companies to solve."

Assert yourself, show some initiative, and say, "May I now tell you my thought process for solving the problem of __________________?"

Go into details about what you would do to solve a problem, how you would identify the real root of the problem, how you would test your hypothesis, how you would analyze what is wrong or lacking, and the steps you would take to fix it.

If you have actually solved a similar problem in the past, without revealing too much about the company you worked at, talk about how you solved the problem there.

An anecdote about an actual problem-solving event is even better than a theoretical approach. But if you're young, or new to the field, a theoretical approach, well thought out and well stated, is good too.

Tackle the problem and communicate to the interviewer the expertise you would bring to the situation. Explain how amateurs would handle it and what makes your approach better.

Also add, "You know what the biggest myths are about ________________?" or "Let me tell you what I see as the biggest mistakes people make in _____________." Explain why these are myths or mistakes and what the truth is.

I can almost guarantee, no other job applicants will do anything like this. They'll be passive sheeple, just hoping they have memorized the "correct replies" to standard interview questions.

They probably won't show any initiative. They won't seize control of the interview and use it not as an interrogation of themselves, but as a platform to perform in a hypothetical situation.

See the job interview not as a scary event where you're being tested, but as an exciting opportunity, a stage on which you get to display your superior talents and knowledge.

Prove that you can handle the job. Have a blog that showcases your expertise, so the interviewer can see more of your vast intelligence and skill.

Job seeking is war. You must win the war with advanced firepower and overwhelming gusto. You must out-maneuver your competing job seekers. This is one way to do it.

Companies aren't looking for employees to hand paychecks to. They're looking for problem solvers who will increase their revenue. Prove that you're a problem solver.

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Email Marketing and Subtle Business Bullying

I got a ridiculous email from a company today.

I had expressed interest in their services, but never said anything about a meeting with a representative. Now I get this aggressive email, using the "pretend the potential customer has agreed to a meeting and try to force it to happen" approach.

It's in the deceptive realm of "fake it till you make it" -- where you act like something has been agreed upon, hoping the customer will be spacey and think it's true -- and will go along with the scheme.

Many times, a sales rep will try extra hard to make something happen by the end of December, to make the year's sales statistics sheet look better. A form letter email will be sent out to all prospects, regardless of what has been discussed previously. A shotgun approach, instead of a truly personalized strategy.

A real turn off. It's a subtle form of business bullying. The subject line of the email was "The end is near."


Hi Steven,

Happy Holidays! Hope you are going to have an amazing 2014!

I will be on vacation all of Christmas week. Would you like to meet at the end of this year before we close everything out, or should we look to January?

Please advise.
Thank you!

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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Peace On Earth, Not War

Remember our brave peacemakers this holiday season, who are struggling to end violence and war, to bring non-violence and love to the world.

They don't wear a special uniform. They bear no weapons. They get no medals or awards. There are no ceremonies or pageantry honoring them. They have no monuments or statues dedicated to them. There are no recruiters signing up others to join.

You might not even notice them. But they persist in advocating and creating peaceful solutions to conflict and strife.

Christmas is a good time to reflect seriously on the Prince of Peace, the ultimate pacifist, the Lord Jesus Christ. He died for the sins of all mankind and taught principles of non-violence, being compassionate toward our enemies, and seeking reconciliation instead of vengeance. 

"Blessed be the peacemakers."

"Peter, put away thy sword."

"Resist not evil with evil."

"Love your enemies."

"My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence."

Other leaders have agreed with the Messiah.

"I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word."

"To our most bitter opponents we say: ‘We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We shall meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, and we shall continue to love you.’"

-- Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Peace and friendship with all mankind is our wisest policy, and I wish we may be permitted to pursue it."

-- Thomas Jefferson 

Those who support war without tolerating any criticism will not listen. People who think war should not be questioned, but engaged in, just because the government demands it, will argue against any type of non-violence ideology.

We must begin to see that a peaceful resolution of conflict is nearly always possible, if we search for it earnestly. Arms manufacturers don't want wars to end. War profiteers want nations to continue to bomb each other. But even one individual who rebels against the Eternal War Doctrine is a threat to the entire system.

Cooperation. Negotiation. Conflict Resolution. Reconciliation.

These are the values we must uphold in the face of extreme pressures to keep slaughtering and destroying each other. Interpersonal or international, peace is the best.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Web Error: Linking to Home Page Instead of Information Page

One of the most common website usability errors is to post an update on Facebook telling people to click on a link to get information about a specific topic, but the link takes you to the home page, instead of to the webpage where information can be found.

This mistake is especially bad when, once you arrive at the home page, there is no Search Site box, and no way to discover where that information is located.

Here's an example.

AAA offers Tipsy Tow to drunks, which is a service that drives them home and tows their car home too.

On their Facebook page, they say Tipsy Tow is not available everywhere. Then they provide a link for you to discover where Tipsy Tow is available.

But the link dumps you into the AAA home page. There is no Search Site. There si no Services tab or Tipsy Tow tab. There is no way to discover where that list of Tipsy Tow service areas is at.


For a comprehensive list of other community programs listed state by state, please visit:


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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Barbara Walters Thought Obama Was The Next Messiah

Looks like people on both the far right and far left are saying some really idiotic things lately.

Watch the video and see Barbara Walters say "We really thought that he [Obama] was going to be ... the next messiah."

Is she out of her freaking mind? 

No politician comes anywhere close to being a savior, Buddha, or messiah.

Next messiah? 

I thought there was only one Messiah.

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Friday, December 20, 2013

Phil Robertson Condemns Gays, But Jesus Condemned the Rich

Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty is said to be very concerned about preventing gays from going to hell. That's why he uses coarse macho language to describe their behavior.

When is Evangelist Phil going to show that same evangelical zeal for the wealthy?

Since Phil belongs to that category, at least right at this moment he seems to, I guess we won't be hearing much concern about the eternal destiny of the wealthy.

Matthew 19:21-24

Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."

But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.

And Jesus said to His disciples, "Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.

"Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Duck Dynasty and Racist Homophobic Remarks

When conservatives, traditional family values advocates, and religious types rally behind people like Phil Robertson, they make their beliefs look foolish. Or fascist.

It's like when extreme partisans rally behind anybody in their political party, no matter how criminal, stupid, or corrupt they are. Reform will never arrive as long as we keep propping up the worst among us, just because they're supposedly "on our side."

I'm dismayed that Phil Robertson would say things that would taint his family ministry and TV show. He was not "wise as a serpent, but harmless as a dove." 

He did not "show wisdom to them who are without Christ". He should have known that expressing his opinions in such an aggressive and provocative manner would cause trouble.

I think he's been hanging around Paula Deen or Ted Haggard too much.

This is not about freedom of speech, it's about decency of speech.

Phil Robertson should have known that his unseemly remark would cause unnecessary trouble and damage to his brand. His explicit statement was not appropriate for a Christian celebrity to make.

On the topic of gays, all he needed to say was he believes what the Bible teaches about homosexuality. That statement would be controversial and hated by many, but at least it would avoid a macho display of Super Hetero Man and unnecessarily explicit sexual talk.

He said instead: "“It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying?"

His racist remarks: “I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field.... They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!... Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”

I can't imagine Jesus saying any of this diabolical nonsense. In fact, Jesus never said one word about gays or about white supremacy, since Jesus was not white, but was a dark skinned Jew.

Some supporters of Phil Robertson say he wants to save gays from an eternity in hell -- and that's why he speaks coarsely about what they do in bed. Wow. Isn't Phil a great soul winner. I'm sure his approach is winning converts all over the world.

I can't wait for Phil Robertson the Evangelist, "saving people from hell," starts speaking against warmongering, materialism, greed, and how it's almost impossible for the rich to go to heaven. Why say gays don't go to heaven, when Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell everything and give the money to the poor?

"Then Jesus said to his disciples, "I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven." Matthew 19:23

So now we have a so-called "Christian" (I call these types Churchians), proclaiming the Gospel of White Supremacy, the Good News of Black Slavery, the joys and honors of racial oppression, the message of Humiliate the Gays By Describing Gay vs. Hetero Sex Acts with Explicit Language?

Shame on anyone who defends this man's undignified statements and ungodly attitudes.

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Facebook Your Year in Review 2013 is Too Narcissistic

Are selfies just NOT narcissistic ENOUGH for you?

Do you yearn to have your entire 2013 year summarized in a 20 point story told by your most Liked posts and what you tagged as landmarks in your grandiose social media saga?

Are you fond of waxing nostalgic about your own life, the past 12 months in particular? Let's celebrate your cat photos, lunch reports, weather complaints, inspirational quote posters, and political rantings. Step up to the open mic.

You're an Online Legend in Your Own Mind, a winner of a "major award", called "Your Year in Review 2013" and I advise you to avoid it.

It's too narcissistic.

It's a soggy waffle of self-congratulatory auto-adulation and mirror gazing.

You are so important to all your Facebook friends, you thought they'd enjoy a sweeping inspection of your best scenes and situations, as recorded by status updates?


The only "precious moments" you had was when you were engaged in critical thinking and the analysis of power structures and domination systems, serving others, or developing your expertise. Will those triumphs get the spotlight?

Huffington Post explains "Your Year in Review on Facebook" feature:


Earlier this week, Facebook released its annual Year in Review list highlighting the site's biggest viral trends, check-ins, and things people couldn't stop talking about in 2013. But to make things a little more personal, the social media network also rounded up 20 of your top moments of the year.

New babies, new jobs or just your well-deserved vacation, the social media network has collected some of your top Facebook status updates (we assume depending on likes), best (and unfortunately sometimes worst) tagged photos and even some of the funny wall posts you may have forgotten about.

And true to our Facebook stalking natures, you can also see some of the best moments from your friends' pages, including photos and wall posts about graduations, weddings and all those other precious moments in life.


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Monday, December 16, 2013

Phrases to Eliminate

(1) "That ship has sailed" = It's too late to stop a process or event or policy. Dissent is not allowed. There will be no further discussion about it. Resistance is futile. Shut up. BUT -- that ship can be torpedoed.

(2) "I want to make it perfectly clear..." = often the preface to making something as clear as mud. Implies "because I'm saying that I'm making it perfectly clear, this means I'm being totally honest and transparent."

(3) "Nobody likes change" = an attempt to dismiss criticism of something that has nothing to do with adjusting to change, but is based on other issues or aspects of something. We all like and even crave certain types of change. We like exploring new things, learning new skills, seeing new movies, trying new restaurants, changing our hairstyles, experimenting with new art techniques, etc.

(4) "Hindsight is 20/20" = an exaggeration, since no sight is perfect, there are always errors or bias or mis-remembering involved.

(5) "It is what it is" = "It cannot change, that is its nature" -- but who defines "what it is"? This is sometimes another attempt to silence dissent, critique, or deeper analysis, or to deflect ethical questions. "Just accept it, you can't change it, leave it alone" is often the implied meaning.

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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Facebook's Artificial Intelligence Means More Surveillance

Some people are getting ecstatic about Facebook Artificial Intelligence. But I can't think of anything "artificial" that is good. A lot of "artificial" stuff is toxic and malevolent. Or a cheap substitute for the real thing. 

When people praise "frictionless" ubiquity of devices, you must remember that "frictionless" was first used by Facebook to mean "without your permission or awareness." Thus, we become encased in digital prison that replaces our independence and freedom.

Some geeky types are heralding the triumph of the Machine Realm over the Human World. They eagerly anticipate the Humachine, the Bionic Man, the Half Man/Half Robot. They claim that social media and Facebook are vital aspects of the New Regime. They point to Graph Search and other unnamed "exciting features."

Graph Search sucks. Stalkers and predators like it, I suppose, but you still can't search your own FB content. There are no "exciting features" on Facebook, just more opportunities for advertisers, sales hype, rogue apps, hackers, and identity thieves.


Andrew Ng states: "Better machine learning will be able to help improve all of these features, as well as help Facebook create new applications that none of us have dreamed of yet.”

What might those futuristic advances be?

Facebook did not reply to repeated requests for comment.


Some talk about the Social Revolution or the Contextual Revolution.

There is no "Social/Contextual Revolution."

There is just increased surveillance and cat photos.

We seek contextual devices that will tell us what to do, what to think, where to go -- the very definition of dependency / slavery. We want devices to know us better than we know ourselves. We think this will make life easier. But actually it will make life far more restricted and easy to manipulate.

As we become more dependent on mobile, contextual, and wearable computers, we become weaker. We think we are increasing our ability to connect and discover, but simultaneously, we are becoming easier to track and control.

Robots are becoming smarter, stronger, and more lethal. Automated combat machines are getting good at killing humans, in violation of Asimov's Rules of Robotics.

Remember how in the 60s and 70s the media raved about "labor saving devices" that would take over all the burdensome chores and usher in a paradise of unlimited leisure time and unhindered pursuit of self-fulfillment? 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Anti Social Users of Social Media

Have you noticed the phenomenon of non-interacting users on Facebook?

You click Like and Share, and post comments on their status updates. You want to encourage them, support them, and engage in conversations with them. But they never respond.

They never return the favor. They don't click Like or Share, or post comments, onyour status updates. There is no reciprocity.

And you may even know these people in real life.

Have you ever wondered why they act so insular?

Are these non-interacting users shy? Narcissistic? Uncomfortable with two way communication? Pompous and self-elevated to a level far above the rest of us, in some grandiose delusion? Who knows?

Perhaps they're paranoid, afraid of engaging in conversation and looking foolish. They may not like or share anything you post, because you just bore them to death.

Or maybe...they aren't on social media to socialize. They simply post announcements of life events or thoughts. They want family members and intimate friends to know what's going on in their lives, but they don't much care what's going on in anyone else's lives.

Some Facebook users NEVER read their news feeds.

When they get on Facebook, they just visit their own profile page and post a status update. They don't care about notifications, informing them of Likes, Shares, and comments. They ignore the notifications icon, because they have no interest in others.

They use social media as a billboard advertising their own adventures, like they're writing a journal. Paper journals don't contain any interactivity. They just record a person's thoughts and adventures. So Facebook is just a personal journal, and not a social platform, for such users.

This policy is especially bad for companies who maintain a Facebook presence. To just grind out sales hype and corporate news is not what social media is all about. Here's a terrific opportunity to interact with customers and the public, but instead, most companies just use Facebook as a one-way messaging platform.

Differentiate your company from competitors by actually being sociable on Facebook. Whoever handles your Facebook page, tell them to get out there and interact, share advice, post encouraging comments. click like and share.

People tend to do business with companies they know, like, and trust. Social media is your chance to become better known, more likable, and trustworthy.

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Work Should Not Be Fun, But Grim

Fun-gineering turns the office space into Forced Smiling Zones where people are pressured into submitting to the "Work Is Fun" regime. Turning work assignments into games is bad for productivity, not to mention personal dignity.

I like work to be grim, serious, intense, concentrated, professional, pursuing excellence and not happiness. Don't get me wrong. I love what I do to put food on the table. I enjoy using my expertise to solve problems. But I don't want to hear kazoos and watch clowns waltz around quoting "inspirational motivation quotes" all day long.

I'm not comfortable with Company As Family cultures. There is much potential for dysfunctional family junk. You have to pretend you care about every personal thing going on with your co-workers. It would depend on the job and the company I guess, but I dislike One Big Happy Family type environments.

I prefer to be unknown, just hunker down and get the work done. I work on websites, all alone, in my home office, and I love it. I am burnt out on working in corporate settings. I need to concentrate in silence, not go running off for birthday party cupcakes in the break room every day.

If you want to have fun, go volunteer at a face-painting booth at a local kiddie carnival, or try to eat a pizza at Chucky Cheese. Work is work. If it becomes too playful, goofing off will be the ticket to Employee of the Month.

When I answer the phone and say "Hello?" and nobody answers, I start singing to them.

"Work should not be fun, but grim. It's quicksand in which we swim" is today's little acapella Str8 Sounds tune that I croon wretchedly, somewhat to the tune of The Real McCoys or the Beverly Hillbillies theme song.

Read more about FUNgineering at the New York Times:

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

PIL vs American Bandstand: Death of Rock Music and Disco

It was the funeral service for The Death of Rock and Roll and Rock Star Idolatry. Johnny Rotten moved from the Sex Pistols to Public Image Ltd. and the appearance of PIL on American Bandstand was the tombstone for the antiquated relic known as rock music.

On 17 May the group appeared on the "staid" teenage music show American Bandstand. This was because an influential producer for the show was insistent despite objections from nearly all the show's personnel and host Dick Clark, who referring to Lydon said, "What can I expect from this asshole?"

The group was not keen on appearing either, but went on.

As "Poptones" and "Careering" played, Lydon and the group broke many of the show's rules by failing to lip sync, blowing his nose at the camera, bringing disco-clad audience members to himself and the group, pulling the entire audience up on stage to destroy the division between band and fans, and banging a microphone in time to the music on Clark's podium.

When Dick Clark acted in a condescending manner to Johnny Rotten/Lydon, asking him "Are you okay?" (a conformist always tends to accuse non-conformists of being "not well" when they see them step outside the boundaries), Johnny glances down at him in contempt.

The dirge-guitar harmonics influenced bands like U2 and The Cure, while ending the punk revolution just a few years after it started with the Ramones, the Clash, and the Sex Pistols. Punk, by definition, was intended to dethrone rock gods and make fun of their pompous struttings and jivings, their self-indulgent drug scene, and the "journalists" who defended the aging geezers.

ABC, feeling the show was a "disaster", did not want to air it, but the influential producer successfully fought for it. The show became a regular part of American Bandstand's highlight reels.

When the Poison Apple disco of Peoria, IL (located approximately where the Walmart on University and Forrest Hill now stands) decided to have a funeral service for Disco Music, complete with coffin and pallbearers, my brother Jumpin' Jimmy, a popular Poison Apple DJ, played music by PIL, from their "Second Edition" metal can album to proclaim and seal the Death of Disco.

Johnny Rotten buries the Rock Star Worship Syndrome right before Dick Clark's astonished eyes.

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tactics of a Bully

A bully attacks a person who is perceived as weak. Or a bully may just lash out at whoever is close and convenient. Or a bully may be so used to nobody ever defending themselves or fighting back that they just see everyone as a potential target.

You are expected to submit to the bully.

When you defend yourself or retaliate, the bully, who is taken off guard and wasn't expecting that, will try to turn the tables on you. Suddenly, he acts like YOU are the aggressor. You are critical, judgmental, verbose, needlessly making things complicated. 

You should not have even responded. You should have just submitted in silence or said, "Yes sir, I shall obey, I am sorry to have done that."

Even explaining yourself is looked upon as stubborn resistance, defiance, unnecessary complexity. A bully doesn't want to hear any clarification, or explanation of your action, they want to rip on you and intimidate you into submission.

If your response is intelligent, thorough, reasonable, that is intolerable to the bully. There's no way the bully is going to apologize, meet you half way, or let you off the hook. 

How dare you defend yourself? You've got a lot of nerve trying to put the bully in his place. You are an idiot, a jerk, a person who is impossible to work with. Your explanation or defense was uncalled for and ridiculous.

These bullying types are insecure. Their goal is to dominate through the application of force. When they run into a confident, combative, or argumentative person, they freak out. 

Even though they are the one who started the fight, they desperately, in exasperation, attempt to make you look like the aggressor for defending yourself.

Have you ever experienced these classic tactics of a bully or a person who, if you don't want to label them a "bully," is in the habit of attacking, censoring, or criticizing others in a hypocritical, hostile, or nonsensical manner?

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Monday, December 9, 2013

Complete Guide to SEO Copywriting

SEO copywriting involves a clear understanding how search engines view a webpage. The goal is to write content that answers questions and includes relevant keywords that occur naturally.

When a webpage has sufficient, up-to-date, and credible content, search engines will drive more qualified customer traffic to it. A website that attracts the right visitors and moves them toward buying a product is a productive website. Qualified customer traffic can result in increased sales and other valuable conversion goals, helping the overall SEO program to be a success.

SEO copywriting today must be based on the new Google Hummingbird semantic search engine, which places less emphasis on content keywords, and more emphasis on a conversational content that answers customer questions.

Instead of just wondering “Do I have enough high volume and long tail keywords?” you should also ask “Is this content really great at explaining the topic or product to customers?” Keywords will always be important, but satisfying customers is the real key to successful content.

When I did some online research, I was amazed to discover how most "SEO Copywriting Tips" type articles were extremely skimpy, often being no more than 3 to 5 tips and included such dopey advice as "replace poor content with great content."

Here's what you really need to know to write good SEO web content.

One Theme Per Page. Each webpage must be devoted to a single theme (a topic, service, product, product category, or idea). That theme will be expressed in the HTML document title tag, meta description, image filenames, image alt attributes, and H1 and H2 headings.

Google wants to match a customer search query with the best webpage that will meet the need of the customer. If multiple topics are contained in a webpage, the primary theme will be diluted, and Google will not consider that webpage to have adequate focus.

Separate Themes on Separate Pages. When multiple themes, product categories, etc. are on a webpage, consider breaking that page into separate pages. Give each distinct idea, topic, product, service, etc. its own webpage. This will enable customers to drill down for more specific information as needed.

Know Your Target Audience. Ask yourself, “Who, or what type of customer, would go to this webpage? What would they hope to find on this webpage?” When you identify the theme of a webpage, Google the keywords and read a bit of the conversations and debates going on at other websites, blogs, and forums. Discover the hot issues and questions people have.

Do Some Competitor Research. Look at some competitive websites that rank well for top keywords. What do they seem to be doing right? What deficiencies do they have that you can exploit by writing better content for your client?

Also look at some other websites that don't rank that well. What do they seem to be doing wrong? Learn from their bad content. Consider how disappointed a customer would feel when they visited this poor content website. Decide what is lacking and make sure you don't have the same lack in your client's website.

Internal Linking Strategy. When a theme is complex, internal linking to subpages is the solution. Make sure the link wording (anchor text) has keywords in it, instead of “read more” or “click here” or “learn about the options available”. Revise such phrases to “read more about _________”, with “_______” being the keyword phrase (specific product, service, subordinate concept, etc.) that is the link anchor text. In other words, “heart surgery” should be the link, rather than “read more about heart surgery.”

Don't overdo it. Too many internal links can make a webpage look spammy.

No Keyword Stuffing. Don't write generic copy, then try to plug in keywords for SEO. Instead, use a set of recommended keywords as ideas for content amplification. Lists of recommended keywords should be used as possible synonyms or aspects of content that you may have overlooked. They are not to be used as magic bullets to sprinkle into otherwise generic copy to trick search engines into thinking the content is relevant and authoritative.

Long tail keywords are terms that are not used very often, but when they are used, they tend to be used by customers with deeper understanding of a product and are ready to buy now. Be sure to have some of these long tail keywords in your content, in addition to the more popular, high volume keywords (which are more competitive and harder to rank for).

Get Info from Client. Before writing a webpage, gather as much information as possible from the client. Client-provided facts are the most important aspect of copywriting. You can't pull these facts from the thin air or guess what they are. The account representative should contact the client with a list of questions or topics that need explanation and detailed information. This is the #1 priority for copywriting.

Do Some Research. Once you have the client-supplied information, you will probably find parts that could benefit from elaboration or simplification. Google the keywords or topic of the webpage and see what competitors and authoritative sources are saying on that same subject. You may discover new angles or directions to follow that you had not thought of yet.

You may see that competitive websites are using charts, videos, or other presentation formats to help clarify certain aspects. Consider doing something similar, but better.

Talk Like the Customer. Be sure to put information into the language of customers, while retaining the technically precise terminology. This is where definitions come in. Define the technical terminology in customer language. You may need to read customer testimonials or visit online forums to discover how customers are talking about a topic, product, or problem.

Use Conversational Language. As much as possible, make your content sound like a good friend or trusted adviser engaging in sincere, intimate conversation. Customers are turned off by stiff, institutional sounding content. Try to get a genuine, warm, human feel into the copy. Look at what you've written and ask yourself, “How would I state these ideas if I called my best friend on the phone and wanted to tell him these facts, quickly, simply, and in a way that would not bore my friend?”

People Buy Benefits, Not Features. It's easy to forget that features and technical specifications don't arouse buy behavior, unless they are translated as promises and benefits. People have problems and needs. They seek solutions and answers. Be sure to always explain the advantage of a feature and not just list features alone.

How Well Does This Webpage Answer Questions? Look at a webpage, not just from the point of view of the client, but also from the viewpoint of a customer. What may seem adequate to a client can be woefully incomplete to a customer. Think: “If I had an urgent need that this product can fulfill, would this webpage satisfy me so much that I'd buy the product, or set up an appointment, or contact the company for more information?

Expand on Bullet Lists. Often a webpage will have some introductory copy, then a bulleted list. The items in the bullet list could usually use at least a couple sentences or a short paragraph. For example, a list of diseases treated by a clinic. Why not add a definition of each disease and maybe some common symptoms?

Almost Nobody Reads Content. People tend to skim and scan content. They typically don't read it like a person would read a book. Web users are impatient, multitasking, and in a hurry. Keep this in mind. Make it easy for customers to quickly zip through the content to zero in on the exact answer they need at that moment. Break up long, dense paragraphs into shorter paragraphs. Use bullet lists and subheads. Use images to add variety and separate ideas.

Start Some Paragraphs with “You” or “Your.” When you think in terms of customer needs, you won't write copy with an “our” and “we” emphasis. Try starting some paragraphs with “You” or “Your”, as in “You'll get _______ (benefit) with this _______ (product).” or “Your _________ (problem/need) will be taken care of quickly, at an affordable price, with _________ (product).” Customers don't want to read corporate fluff that talks on and on about how great the company is. Customers want to read copy that talks about their problem and how to solve it by using the product.

Good Content Attracts Links To It. One of the benefits of complete, compelling content on a topic is that it will be valued by others, so that they will want to link to it. This is a great way to get backlinks to a specific webpages, which are better than backlinks to the home page. A deep link indicates that a specific piece of content is treating a specific subject in a superior and meaningful manner.

Use Synonyms Instead of the Same Terms Repeatedly. The purpose of keywords is not to make content appeal to search engines. Google Hummingbird semantic search engine actually places far less emphasis on matching user queries with content keywords, since many black hat websites have used keyword stuffing in a misguided attempt to game the system. Keywords that are synonyms act as alternate expressions, so your content doesn't get tiresome or seem repetitive.

Good Content is Fascinating. There really is a way to make any product or topic extremely interesting, no matter how dry and dull it might appear at first. The copywriter's challenge is to know so much about the customer needs and the product benefits, that a compelling story or a remarkable description can be communicated to the customer.

You can spice up the content with historical background facts, interesting anecdotes, customer testimonials, insights from blog posts and forums, powerful presentations of how important or urgent it is to solve the customer's problem (rather than letting it languish), and putting yourself in the customer's shoes, imagining their need, and feeling the relief of having that need met by a superior product.

Images Grab Attention and Clarify. Be sure to specify photos to be included in content. People prefer to see images of other people doing things, using a product to solve a problem, being serviced by smiling employees, etc. Notice how magazines successfully use images to draw your attention. Images are important for adding credibility and clarifying what is described with words. Add keyword captions under the photos.

Think of The Webpage as a Movie Script. The H1 (headline) tag should be like the title of a movie, but responding to a question, and implying a benefit. Instead of “Cardiac Care” your header might be “How State of the Art Cardiac Care is Delivered to Our Patients”. The H2 tags should describe the main scenes in the movie/webpage. The content under each H2 subhead should summarize the action and move the plot forward. The climactic final scene is the strong Call To Action that prompts the customer to buy now, set up an appointment, contact the company, or some other conversion act.

Test Your Content. Get a friend, family member, or colleague to read your webpage copy. Ask them if it makes sense, if everything is clear, and if you might have missed an important detail. Tell them to be hyper-critical and totally honest. You care more about getting the copy right, than having your feelings hurt. You might be amazed at how effectively other people can evaluate content. Get several opinions, for one person may not catch everything that needs improvement.

Become an Expert at Talking About the Product. You can't necessarily become an expert at manufacturing, inventing, or using a product. But you can, and you must, quickly become an expert at talking about a product or topic – at least to the extent of being able to write intelligent, accurate, engaging content for the website. This might mean spending more time reading blogs, forums, magazines, books, and competitive websites related to the product or the problems the customers are having.

The Goal is Not Communication But Transaction. Web content needs to tell a story and convey information. But the goal is not education or enlightenment. The primary aim of web content is to persuade a customer to buy something, schedule an appointment, sign up for a newsletter, watch a video, download a file, or whatever conversion goals are desired by the client. Every webpage, even About, should have a strong Call To Action, moving the customer closer to a purchasing decision or other mission-critical business objective.

Command the Customer to Act. Don't just assume that the information itself will provoke a buying transaction. People like to be told what to do when an action is in their best interests. They don't respond to vague instructions. If there are 3 steps to a transaction, number those steps so a customer's progress is logical and orderly. Tell the customer exactly what they need to do next, at every step along the way.

Use commanding phrases like “Now that you've seen how great this solution is, go to our Product Guide to select the right model for your specific needs.” with “Product Guide” as the linked text that when they click on it, will take them to the Product Guide webpage. Remember to help the customer understand how to respond to the offer – and never assume that the customer will enjoy the information so much, responding to the offer will just happen without prompting.

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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Facebook Games That Make You Look Bad

When you see a Facebook friend post a message that seems bizarre, crazy, or provocative, it may not be a real expression of the person, but a "game" they are participating in.

This "game", where you have to choose a statement and post it as a status update, is a malicious, sadistic attempt to cause trouble for people. People are actually getting fired for posting such things, as I noted in a warning about a previous incarnation of this "game."

A police officer posted one of these messages, in his case it was about hitting and killing a dog with his vehicle, then dumping it in the woods. People took the message seriously. The cop got reprimanded and came close to being fired.

Even a seemingly "funny" statement, like "There's a raccoon in my bedroom", is a lie. All you accomplish is getting your friends and family upset or worried about you. Is this something you want to do? Why would you want to post something untrue?

Notice the instruction "you have to play and you can't tell anyone it's a game." This is a form of social engineering, to command people to do things that are not in their best interests. In the long run, it will decrease the credibility of your Facebook updates, and Facebook in general.

WARNING: Your children, parents, real life friends, employers, future employers, law enforcement, etc. are reading your Facebook updates. DO NOT let anyone chump you out and persuade you to post nonsense.

Here is the latest rendition of the "game" that lures people into posting stupid or controversial messages on their FB wall.


It's a game sorry. TAG YOU ARE IT!!! You fell into the trap. This is a game. The person who likes/comments has to choose one of the following to post on his/her timeline.

1. I confess: I like porn.

2. I wish Obama could run for a third term.

3. I cheated on my ex.

4. I tried smoking crack today.

5. I just fell in vomit at McDonalds.

6. I quit my job today.

7. There's a raccoon in my bedroom!

8. Where can I buy used sex toys?

9. I think I'm changing gender.

10. I'm pregnant.

You have to play and you can't tell anyone its a game. I can't wait to see what you choose.


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Monday, October 28, 2013

My Obituary Will Not Be Written

May each of us have a good life, a good death, and a good after-death.

My obituary will be simple.

Date of birth, date of death.

Nothing more. No photo.

The people who already know me know everything they want to know about me. Trust me, even those closest to me already have too much information. And I tend to tell the same story at least ten to twenty times to any given victim, I mean listener.

Those who don't know me, don't need to know where I worked, what my hobbies were, who my nearest kin are, what clubs I belonged to, what supernatural feats I performed for clients, what sound experiments I indulged in at my music lab, and what bleak and lonely hermitages I founded.

Let word of mouth carry my legacy to future generations who won't, and shouldn't, care about it.

Why would anyone want to publish what actually amounts to a posthumous advertisement about their life? Isn't that what an obituary is? As an ad writer, I don't want my final memorial to be an ad.

I'd rather have people think: "What WAS that? He's gone now, but when he was here, things happened."

I'd rather be a breeze that passed by and mischievously vanished than an ornate monument that pigeons relieve themselves on.

Let my lack of statement be a statement that rings loud and unclear.

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Monday, October 7, 2013

Dark SEO: Goodbye Keywords, Hello Hummingbird

SEO just had its lights turned off. How do we do organic SEO in the dark? What we need now are new guide lamps.

Welcome to the (for some) bizarre new landscape of SEO, without keyword data and with more focus on intent, semantics, stories, social signals, page level data, video, voice search, image search, conversions, conversations, and context.

Recently Google killed their Adwords Keyword Tool and encrypted their keyword search data, so you can no longer know which keywords are driving traffic to your website. The best we can know is what webpages are the most popular.

Instead of knowing which keywords are being typed into search engines by customers, by volume of search queries, we must look at the webpages that are receiving the highest numbers of visitors.

What is it about that webpage that could be attracting customers?

You can't with any certainty say, "Such and such keywords." So perhaps that webpage is an incredibly complete but concise, well-written explanation of a timely issue that in itself is already viral. It has credibility, it's easy to read, and it's interesting,

But more importantly, it answers a question that a lot of customers have.

Without keyword search data from Google, how can we set up website content for organic SEO? Are we flying in the dark now? Are there any bright lights that can illuminate our way toward high organic search rankings for good quality websites?


We shift our focus from keywords to intent, conversation, and new search behaviors, like local search, mobile search, voice search, and clickless searching (when a query is answered by Google without the user needing to see any search results for the search term or visit any website).

Let there be no misunderstandings here. We Are In A New SEO World.

Keyword data: gone.

Hummingbird: here.

The new Hummingbird algorithm update is shifting the focus into more new realms of SEO specialization.

Hummingbird is Google's recipe for finding content that:

(1) answers actual questions of customers, both typed and voiced

(2) uses lively customer language with strategic keyword usage, not "we-oriented" corporate-talk sprinkled with keywords

(3) matches the intent or goal of the customer's search query, rather than strictly the keywords used

(4) aligns with every word of the query, rather than only keywords

(5) answers keywordless search queries by knowing context of query

(6) is authoritative, original, credible, timely, trending, dealing with a topic or news item that is already viral, complete, concise, well-written, unique, idiosyncratic, not generic

(7) is Liked and Shared by social media friends of the searching customer

(8) is optimized for mobile devices

(9) is easily shared on social media, with embed code and/or social sharing links

(10) is conversational, tells a story, rather than cold Power Point bullet points

(11) is accompanied by relevant photos, audio, video, and other interactive media.

While we can't know which keywords customers are using in their searches, that doesn't mean we are completely clueless as to what keywords are the most popular. We can read popular press articles, journals, blogs, social media conversations, trade sites, and other resources to stay current with the language in current usage.

Maybe it's time to meet and mingle with actual warm body customers and interact with them on social media, instead of hiding in the manager cave or just grinding out sales messages on Facebook and Twitter.

The more intimately we know our customers, the more keywords that will naturally be circulating in our conversations and marketing communications, including websites.

You'll discover the best keywords as you gain a true grasp of your industry, customer psychology, social signals related to your products, and terminology employed when expressing customer needs and describing how your product solves their problems. It all begins with knowing how customers talk about their frustrations, lack, and desires.

SEO is maturing in a sudden, quantum leap.

Instead of manipulating keywords on a webpage, while keywords still play a big role, it will be a deeper understanding of product benefits and customer behavior that will be the solid core of today's SEO practice.


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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Usability Diagnosis of Obamacare Website

The Obamacare website is a usability nightmare.

Like many companies with complex, high traffic websites, they must have not conducted adequate user observation tests or functionality checks. Although server overload is the primary problem, various aspects of the site are broken.

Web developers should watch and learn from this unfortunate situation.

Here are the things the developers should have taken into consideration to facilitate user success.

(1) load testing

(2) make sure all your javascript and AJAX are functional

(3) keep the client code, server code, error messages and instructions in sync

(4) user experience should be tested for usability, velocity, validity, simplicity, navigational path clarity, understandability, and error recovery.


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Friday, October 4, 2013

greeting a customer who enters your store

When greeting a customer who enters your store, there are 3 basic ways to welcome the customer:

(1) UNCARING/PUSHY: "Hi. Can I help you find something?"

Translation: "I want to get you paired with a product then out of this store as quickly as possible."

(2) UNCARING/LETHARGIC: "How are you doing today? If you have any questions, or need anything, please let me know, okay? Have fun looking around."

Translation: "I'm not really interested in identifying and empathizing with your needs or interests. In fact, the only thing I'll respond to is a question or a request involving an immediate purchase. I'm tired of talking to you now, and bored, so I'm going to retreat back to my comfort zone."

(3) CARING/INVESTIGATIVE: "[OPTIONAL: Welcome to ______________. ] What brings you into the store today?"

Translation: "We're proud of our store. We also want to understand your immediate need, so we can share our expertise and guide you to the best product to solve your problem."

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

SEO Without Keyword Data From Google

Google is no longer going to be providing keyword data on visitors to your website. 

You won't be able to know what keywords your customers are typing into Google to find your website. Conversely, you will not be able to build a new webpage around a set of keyword synonyms, and know if it's attracting web visitors who are typing those keywords into Google.

This can be seen as a big change in SEO, although it may be that Google has been moving away from keywords for a while now, to focus more on mobile and local searches. 

Some speculate that this is Google's way of destroying organic search and keyword manipulation so that only Google Adwords will be available to target keywords to drive traffic to a website.

SEO will be flying blind, in some respects, perhaps but consider these points:

Instead of playing SEO games with keywords, you're now forced to do serious work with key themes and key customer research. You arise from the micro-content realm of isolated terms, to ascend into the loftier regions of categorical topics and wide-spectrum issues.

Instead of fishing for customers in the internet ocean, using keywords as bait, you must now use throw the net of need fulfillment out there to catch the zealous seekers. 

Instead of thinking: "Customers are using these keywords in high volume, so let's use these keywords in our web content."

You now think: "Intelligent discussion of this topic includes the use of these keywords, so let's use these keywords in a webpage on this topic." 

Or you think: "Here is what real customers are actually saying, in forums, social media, and blog comments, about this topic, so let's be sure to use the same language in our website."

Intelligent discussion. How do you find it? You must discover the most authoritative, reputable experts in a field.

Real customers. Where do you find them? In your own corporate or product blog. In the blogs of your competitors. In your testimonials section of your website. In your dealer locations, branches, and stores. In Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, GooglePlus. 

Your website must be more authoritative, have richer, deeper content -- and you must get closer to your customers and how they think, rather than depending on Google-generated data on internet search behavior.

Combining the expertise of authorities with the folksiness of real customer expressions, you accomplish two goals: 

(1) demonstrating to Google that your webpage knows the right things to say about a topic (product, issue, etc.) 


(2) gaining insight into what customers are probably typing into Google when searching for what your company offers, thus enabling your website content to match the query string of the customer. 

You can have customers fill out a questionnaire that asks them what they type into Google when they are looking for ___________________. And keep asking that question about all your products.

You can invite some local customers to a usability study and watch what they type into Google when they attempt to find information on a list of products, services, issues, or ideas related to your business. Tell them they are helping you test the website, rather than testing them on their web surfing skills or computer knowledge.

Keyword data, including how well a website ranks for a given search query or set of keywords, was always in flux anyway. Chasing keywords was a never-ending drama that had no final achievement. Since the way customers talk about their needs and possible solutions is always changing, keyword usage in search is also changing.

With keyword data now unavailable, SEO will need to be based even more heavily on a true expertise related to the product and the solutions it provides to customer needs. SEO will need to put a more intense emphasis on customer research, customer relations, and customer psychology.

SEO must concentrate on:

(1) Content that completely but concisely answers customer questions.

(2) Content that proves to Google that it's a smart and ungimmicky treatment of a topic.

(3) Knowing intimately how a product fulfills the needs of customers.

(4) Talking in the language of both customers and experts.

(5) Watching how the most successful websites in your field are talking to customers, and how those companies interact in social media.

(6) Page level SEO data: instead of what keywords did a customer use to find our website, you ask "what are our website's most popular pages -- themes, issues, topics, products."

(7) Building webpages that contain content to please human customers, not search engines.

(8) Creating web content that answers the questions your customers are currently asking, in the language they're using.

The bottom line in SEO was never improving ranking for keywords, even if many clients thought in those terms and demanded reports on this metric.

The bottom line in SEO is increased sales.

SEO is all about conversions first. Everything else is just preliminary work. When your website is bringing you more paying customers, that is the main result that you should care about.  

If your SEO program is driving more traffic to your website, and a lot of that those web visitors are converting into sales, then your SEO program is successful. 

If that's not happening, but you're ranking really well for a bunch of keywords, what's so great about that? Keyword ranking success is not necessarily the same as sales or marketing success. Even ranking well for high volume keywords is meaningless unless it leads directly to more conversions and increased revenue. 


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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Popular Science Wimps Out, Shuts Down Comments

Too much trolling and spambotting -- so Popular Science is shutting down all comments? 

It's like getting rid of your telephones because you're annoyed at telemarketing calls.

Science can't hold its own against pseudo-science trolls?

Science must run and hide from the mean old unorthodox thinkers?

Wait a minute. What is Popular Science shutting down?

Debate. Discussion. Conversation. Argument. Clarification. Confirmation. Dissent. Criticism. Questioning. 

In other words, the interaction and testing of other minds and ideas, which is the very foundation of scientific progress.

Popular Science wimps out and disallows feedback. What's disconcerting is their neurotic, victim-mentality  reaction to problematic comments that are posted on Popular Science articles online.

They, rather unscientifically, blame the trolling on some paranoid vision they cooked up, of a "politically motivated war on expertise." 

This reminds me of the Anti Blogging Bloggers and the Cult of the Amateur book author, blaming the web revolution for growing disinterest in opera and burgeoning distaste for hierarchy, elitism, and authoritarianism.

No, the war is not on "expertise." 

It's a war on unilateral propaganda, one-way messaging, without the democratic participation of reader input and response. To shut down comments altogether, because negative comments skew the perception of the article, is just irrational and absurd.

What ticks off the ruling class and the establishment media is when average people start voicing their questions, critiques, and challenges. 

The blog or news website, with reader comments added to each article (or post), right there under and along with the article, not shoved off in some Letters to the Editor or Readers Forum section on some buried page -- this is what they fear and despise.

To make a declaration, then have immediate feedback from absolutely anybody in the world -- this Wild Wild West of public communication is not their cup of tea. 

Instead of regulating the feedback, monitoring it and only publishing what is sincere, sane, and enriches the discussion, Popular Science is eliminating the democratic process of civilized, moderated, but not censored, reader input. 

Shutting down comments is not a really mature or smart way to deal with the situation.

CAPTCHAs filter out most spambots.

Disallowing anonymous comments and moderating comments, with delayed posting of comments that are approved, that's how you deal with trolls, without censoring genuine but contrary points of view and allowing expressions of all opinions.

I have been a hardcore blogger, often inflammatory or provocative, since 2004. I have administered wikis, participated in forums, and published a large number of blogs on various issues.

Early in my blogging experience, I perfected the Art of Troll Smashing, and have posted many tips and techniques on how to deal with trolls and abusive, off topic comments.

A troll is just an immature, unintelligent person who gets sadistic but empty pleasure from annoying, interrupting, angering, humiliating, and otherwise harming other people online. It's a form of cyber bullying.

Most troll comments should be deleted and the troll banned/blocked. In some cases, a dignified response to a troll is in order, but generally, the more you interact with them, the more trouble they try to stir up.

Trolls, as you naively attempt to "reason" with them, will quickly deteriorate into racism, false allegations, filthy language, hate speech, and crazy talk.

It's very EASY to ban anonymous comments and to enforce commenting rules. By not publishing any comments until they are moderated and approved is what the big boy do, Popular Science.

To wimp out and disallow interaction with articles is very disappointing. It's not popular. It's not science. It's defeatism and cynicism.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Great Writing in the Wild

I'm collecting specimens of exceptional text, sentences and paragraphs that are great examples of clear messaging, adding my specialized marketing psychology commentary, and putting them into a book called "Great Writing in the Wild."

As a web content developer, I pay close attention to how language and design are used, words and images, in all contexts and environments. It's all content. The content on a website needs to communicate as effectively as a simple cardboard box in the garage.

From a deconstruction viewpoint, I'll point out what seems to pointedly leap up and out, like a too loud vocal "escaping" from the mix of a song, dominating by shooting up above the sound, so that vocal track has to be mixed down, reduced in volume, to contain it more securely and seamlessly in the mix of all the other sounds.

"How to Use Box Handles" is the first entry in this exciting new compilation. Obviously, it's an attempt to clearly communicate an action to a person who is unfamiliar with how to interact with a cardboard box.

Real world vs. Digital realm.

You can get away with using ALL CAPS in the real world. It's how IMPORTANT messages and vital WARNINGS are conveyed. Often government statements are in ALL CAPS. In the real world, you can SHOUT IN ALL CAPS and people are okay with it.

But TYPOS are strictly prohibited in the real world, as they make a person seem uneducated and spelling really is a school subject, not a program called spell check.

Lest we get too self-righteous about the superiority of the real world communications, notice that headlines are played loosey-goosey.

The headline promises to teach how to USE box handles, but the step by step directions are on how to CREATE a box handle, leaving you completely in the dark as to what to do next, after they're created.

So it qualifies as "great writing in the wild" if you overlook the fact that it delivers something other than what it said it was going to deliver.

I especially enjoy this jarring declaration:

3. Pull the long ways like zipping a zipper (2)

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Friday, September 6, 2013

Str8 Sounds martian disco VIDEO

Str8 Sounds "Martian Disco" techno music video.

From "Music For Mars" CD September 2013.

Sony Movie Studio Platinum 12.0 and Sony Acid 7.0.