Friday, July 19, 2013

Detroit is Bankrupt Partly Due to Boondoggles

Detroit. Why is it bankrupt?

Part of the reason is... BOONDOGGLES.

Projects that are not vital (and are often insanely STUPID) -- but certain politicians pushed them to please various supporters. Boondoggles are in the category of waste, fraud, and cooked accounting books.

Special interests twist arms to get tax dollars diverted from union pensions and needed services (police, fire fighters, health care, sewers, garbage collection, etc.) -- to fund their pet projects. Corrupt city councils go along with it. Developers and architects make tons of money, while the citizens suffer.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Frankengerbil and Other Not For SyFy Horror Films

SyFy, home to wretchedly stupid and endlessly imitative "science fiction" made for TV movies is going ahead with "Sharknado 2".

This means there may still be hope for my own science fiction horror TV shows:

(1) Frankengerbil (A young boy's gerbil is brought back from the dead with terrifying results).

(2) Dancing With the Scars (Horribly mutilated has-beens compete in sickeningly tragic dance competitions).

(3) Zompire (A baseball umpire gets bit by a vampire and a zombie -- then gets revenge on over-paid gangster-athletes).

(4) Android Rage (An innocent android is kidnapped and forced to have electro-chemical steroid injections, then becomes a robotic thug monster).

(5) Bad Hair Night (A woman has a rare scalp disease that causes her hair to grow extra fast [and can't be cut without causing her extreme pain] and have a mind of its own -- as she sleeps, the coils of ridiculously long hair unravel, sneak out, still attached to her head, and commit heinous crimes that are somehow connected with her subconscious).

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Monday, July 15, 2013

PC Matic sexist TV commercials

Sexism is alive and well in advertising today. Case in point: PC Matic.

PC Matic's first TV commercials had a woman educating a male about PC Matic. It ended with the lady grabbing the car keys, saying "Girls' night out."

That was quickly shelved, to be replaced by TV commercials with men educating females about PC Matic.

There are new PC Matic television commercials coming out periodically, but NEVER do they show a woman being smart about computer viruses and telling a man to get PC Matic.

Here's the earlier pro-female PC Matic TV commercial.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Facebook Hide Story Options

On Facebook, when you didn't like a certain photo or text update appearing in your news feed of posts by users you have friended or are following, you used to be able to click on Follow Post --or -- Hide Story.

Now it's Follow Post -- or -- I Don't Want To See This.

When you click on I Don't Want to See This, you get this pop up:

Hide all posts from [Facebook user name]

Why don't you want to see this?

__ It's annoying or not interesting

__ I think it shouldn't be on Facebook

__ It's spam


Here are some further options I recommend Facebook add to reasons for hiding a story:

___ It's another doggone cat photo

___ It's too personal, and I don't want to delve that deeply into their private life, which is a mess

___ It's another relentless posting of inspirational quotes

___ It's a hoax

___ It's extremist partisan political propaganda

___ It's just plain stupid

___ It's untrue

___ It's ugly

___ I disagree with it and hate to see the expression of contrary views

___ It offends my religious faith

___ It offends my race, nationality, income class, skin color, ethnicity, or sexual disorientation

___ It is trying to hypnotize me with glitter, stars, and hearts

___ I'm tired of all these "I hate my boyfriend" reports from this person

___ It's another debunked announcement and I'm tired of posting a comment link to Snopes

___ It offends my artistic sensibilities and aesthetic standards

___ It's another instance of vaguebooking, which should be prohibited in Terms of Service

___ It's like-farming

___ It's too emotional

___ It's copied and pasted without Googling it and discovering how it's disinformation

___ It's another "Good Morning" or "Good Night" post like we're at The Waltons or summer camp

___ No reason, I just don't feel like looking at it, too tired to explain why

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Business Startups Satire

There's a business startup called Fashism. You post a photo of your hair or what you're wearing, and people vote on if it stinks or looks okay ("leave it" or "love it").

I've come up with some possible startups:

Totalitariancestry -- find out if you had ancestors who hated freedom, were dictators, or tyrant supporters.

Viagrastry -- post a photo yourself , then people vote on whether you're handsome enough to have sex, or let your withered loathsome dangler "rot on the vine" and figure your procreation days are now behind you.

FatFinder -- post a photo of yourself in that dress you're concerned about, and people vote on whether it makes you look fat or not.

Musicide -- type in your 20 favorite bands and an automatic algorithm tells you if your tastes suck or are superb.

Politifigment -- type in a political opinion and a unbiased database of political science, current events, and common sense tells you if your ideological statement is based on facts or just a figment of an extremist partisan imagination.

PhilOfficer -- type in a philsophical idea and a database of profundity and practicality tells you if it makes sense from views ranging from phenomenology and teleology to aesthetics and ethics.

ArtifIcer -- type in an artistic idea and a database of art history and current artwork tells you if it's been done before, it's got any aesthetic value, or if you should relegate it to a trite and unhip category like "spurious post-surrealism", "dated dada dopiness", or "childish pseudo-primitivism".

Social Status Screener -- type in a social media status update you're considering and people vote on whether you should post it or roast it (delete it).

PickupALyzer -- type in a pickup line you're considering using on some gal and people vote on whether you should say it or slay it (refrain from using it).

PoliticalCorrector -- type in what you want to say, and a database of slang, slurs, and slippery slopes determines if there is any people group or class of citizen who could potentially be offended, and if so, translates your statement in more polite, super sensitive language.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Bad Link Building Email Spam

Right after I post something on my blog about backlink building for SEO, within minutes, I get an SEO spam email. Google's Gmail platform didn't like it. Google added a warning bar on top of the email message from this obvious spammer.


This message may not have been sent by:

Learn more

Report phishing

Hi Steven,

I work with Online College Classes, an education attainment resource dedicated to providing commentary and resources on the shift from traditional to online learning in today's educational landscape. We frequently cover topics in lifelong learning, using online courses as job training resources, and outline how MOOCs are changing how students learn in the 20th century.

We recently redesigned our website to better reflect our goals and and I wanted to personally invite you to take a look at our new online education resources, particularly the MOOC section.

I was looking through your site as I was doing research for Online College Classes and thought it might be interesting to you. It would be great if you'd link to our website if you think your readers would find it useful. Please let me know what you think.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Karla Gonzalez


THERE IS NO LINK TO ANY WEBSITE -- this weird email is truly ignorant. They didn't even go to the trouble of defining MOOC.

"I was looking at your site" -- oh really? What's the name of my site? You can't even mention it by name, or cite any content on it that you liked?

This is a good example of WHAT NOT TO DO in link building. No link to their "redesigned website". No real connection to my true interests. No attempt to identify common areas of interest.


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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Backlinks and Directories SEO Challenge

Clients not only pay you money, but can also provoke you to expand your expertise and become more adept and more valuable as a professional person.

You should never be troubled when a client challenges you to improve yourself or to learn about an area that you consider outside your area of focus.

You should never be troubled when a client challenges you to improve yourself or to learn about an area that you consider outside your area of focus.

Accept the challenge in a happy frame of mind. Your client is doing you a great service.

If you don't keep growing in skills and knowledge, your competitors will destroy you. Some day somebody will come along with a few more skills, a deeper knowledge, a friendlier demeanor, a more youthful energy, a stronger focus, a wider expertise -- and you'll be out of a job.

Your business will suddenly be irrelevant, old fashioned, not needed anymore.

Don't think: "That aspect is the concern of a specialty that I'm not interested in."

If it relates to your field of work, start right now becoming an expert in it. Learn more about it and you'll increase your enthusiasm for it.

Expand what you're good at, don't just relax, thinking you've "arrived" at some pinnacle of permanent expertise.

Things are changing all the time. You must change with the times. Even if that means drastically increasing what you do for clients or moving into a whole new area of services.

Instead of saying, "I don't handle that area" ... 

... say "Okay. I'll do my best. Even though this is outside my core expertise, it is related to it, so I'll do some research and discover the best practices and smartest ideas out there, and thereby expand my own expertise and capabilities. Please bear with me as I get up to speed in this area, and thanks for trusting me to quickly become adept at this new aspect of what I do."

I recently had a client ask me to create a comprehensive guide, a step-by-step procedural document, in a realm that is related to my core expertise, but is typically not included in my line of work, as it is often considered to be a separate and highly specialized field of discipline.

Backlink acquisition and directories. Or "off site SEO".

My specialty lies in "on site SEO" -- SEO audits of websites, tweaking HTML documents for SEO enhancement, improving web usability factors, and implementing SEO keyword strategies for web content (including writing new keyword-savvy content for websites).

"Off site SEO" means things you do to drive traffic to a website, but are not done to the website itself, but are done in relations with other websites, trying to get them to link to your website.

This related field of backlink acquisition and directories is considered the most difficult and time-consuming aspect of SEO and is generally handled by experts who do nothing but this. Getting other websites to link back to your website -- and selecting relevant, high quality directories on which to list your website.

Backlink building and directories have a lot of dubious practitioners. It's a completely different set of disciplines and is actually more in the realm of PR (public relations) than in SEO or marketing. But there is some overlap when it comes to developing web content that is link-worthy.

What makes this area more problematic is Google's Penguin search algorithm updates have greatly disrupted most of the old ways of getting backlinks and using web directories. 

If you don't know what has changed, how to comply with Google's new requirements, you could cause a lot of trouble and have a mess on your hands that will be hard and time-consuming to remedy. You could even be punished by Google, so that your website no longer appears in search results.

Many directories have been ruined by spammers and bad practices. Many of the techniques for getting links to your website no longer work, or can even get you into trouble with Google. 

For example, many blogs and forums now use rel=nofollow on links to your website that you embed in your signature or in your comments, so you can't link back to your website in a blog comment or forum post.

That's just one example of how the whole landscape of link building and directories has changed.

My client needed me to create a comprehensive tutorial style document on this area of SEO and I plunged into it. After doing a lot of research and pondering, I was able to create the document to satisfy the need of my client.

I got an email today thanking me for a job well done. It was even stated that the document was ready for immediate implementation, which would require several months to do. That's how much material I pulled together for them, as I dodged the bad practices, explained the difference between acceptable and non-acceptable procedures, and even gave links and screenshots of examples.

It was nice that I made my client happy, they gave me immediate feedback on their opinion about what I submitted to them, and stated that they now have a powerful tool for their success as a company.

Lesson learned: let clients push you into new areas of expertise.

Listen to the star of Hardcore Pawn....

"You've got to be willing to change what you're doing. You can't be bound by the way things have always been. If the economy changes, if trends change, if your customer starts requesting something different, you've got to change your business response, even if it means launching a completely new product or service.

....I never want to hear an employee say, 'That's not my job description' or 'I've never done that before'. You can't let yourself be limited by what you've always done. You have to be willing to experiment and try new things. Forget the past and focus on what you need to be doing today to make tomorrow successful.

Especially when you start out, you need to do what's going to make your business different from the competition."

-- Les Gold
For What It's Worth: Business Wisdom from a Pawnbroker

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Marketing Lessons from Bar Rescue

I like to watch Bar Rescue on television, not that I go to bars a lot (almost never, unless they have good food), but I like to see how the consultant operates with his clients, who are mostly antagonistic at first.

On one episode, a lady owned a "pirate bar" that was a total failure for the past 6 years. She looked to be about 40 years old -- and was living in her mom's basement with her husband and 17 year old daughter. Yet she stubbornly refused to see that her "pirate bar" concept was not working. She desperately was clinging to a delusion that she called "being faithful to my dream."

I guess a lot of people cling nonsensically to a delusion and call it a "dream" or "vision" or "goal."

One thing Bar Rescue consultant Jon Taffer recommends to a lot of bars is to simplify and reduce the number of food items on the menu. Have you ever gone to a bar or a restaurant, only to find the menu so many pages, you finally got overwhelmed by all the choices, and ended up ordering something cheap?

This is what people tend to do. Give them too many choices, and they will get frustrated, confused, and will order the least expensive, safest choice.

If you try to position yourself as "doing everything", people will assume you're truly excellent at nothing.

Do a few things in an amazing way. Don't try to be a jack of all trades. Specialize in something, then be astonishing. Nobody can be fantastic at everything.

A menu that features every dish known to man screams one thing: We Suck, So We Try to Cook Everything, in Hopes That Somebody Will Like Something.

Focus. Define yourself, your company, your talents to meet a specific area of need. Then become a bona fide specialist, a genius, an extraordinary artist in that one area. You can have other interests, but have one talent, or a few related skills, that you do exceptionally well and are known for that expertise.

When you fill out an online profile, use the word "The" at the beginning. It makes you seem more famous and successful.

For example, on my profiles, I say "The web content developer, SEO specialist, social media photographer, and techno music composer."

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Your Website Needs Photos of Your Business Facility

One of the biggest mistakes I see on websites of local restaurants, shops, and businesses is -- not showing a photo of the facility.

People like to see what your store looks like. It helps them when they travel toward it to visit. As they walk, bicycle, bus, or drive their vehicle, they appreciate a mental image of what to expect.

Directions and maps are commonly provided on websites, and that's good.

But you're missing a marketing advantage when you fail to also show a photo of your place. I like it when that image is big on the home page. At bare minimum, it should be on the Contact Us or Map/Directions page.

Displaying a photo of the front of your business, and the sign by the entrance, will help differentiate you from your competitors, increase credibility, and enhance the memorability of your brand.

Yet it seems the vast majority of websites, if they show any photos of the business at all, show just the inside of the facility.

Often these photos are boring, generic-looking, with no happy, smiling customers enjoying the food or looking at the products. But it's very important to show not only the inside, but also the outside of your business.

Use photography strategically and you will gain a distinct and powerful competitive edge.

If you need some good, new photos, contact me. I'd be happy to help.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Art of Paywall Hacking

Paywalls keep content hidden from public view and make it available only to paid subscribers. What if you only want to read a few articles a year on a particular publication? Why should you have to pay for a year's subscription, when you probably won't get your money's worth?

Since newspapers are being bought up by out of town conglomerates that then fire the city editors, reduce staff, fire the photographers, etc., here's a way to get back at them.

Paywalls are idiotic. Paywalls violate the content architecture of the web. Paywalls ruin the linking mode of related content. A paywall says, "You can't get here from there."

Paywalls are horrible for SEO, because they block content from search engine spiders. Search engines will not index paywalled content. 

Paywalls are bad from a financial point of view. The money made from paid subscriptions is negated by the money lost from decreased views of ads. Paywall barriers limit research on important topics. They prevent people from sharing articles on social media.

Now you too can bust through a paywall and view a webpage without paying for a subscription.

Often you'll be able to view a few pages a month for free, then after that number, you'll be asked to pay for a subscription. Thus, deleting cookies, using private browsing, or using a browser you rarely open can be effective.

A hack that works for the New York Times may not work for the Wall Street Journal. if one technique doesn't work for you, try another one listed below.

(1) Move cursor to web address bar, where the URL (web address starting with http://), highlight all code after the question mark or pound/hash sign ("?" or "#"), delete it, then refresh page.

(2) Do the same, but replace all code after the "?" or "#" with a forward slash: /

(3) Highlight and copy the webpage URL, up to the "?", then paste it into your web browser address bar, but with "cache:" in front of it:


(4) Delete cookies from your web browser, then navigate to the webpage.

(5) Use the Private Browsing mode of your web browser.

(6) Open another browser that you rarely use. For me, that would be Internet Explorer.

(7) Google the headlilne of the article and visit it through the search engine results page link.

(8) Copy and paste the link into a Twitter search and click through to the story from Twitter. Stories accessed via social media don’t count towards your article limit.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

All You Can Eat marketing idea

A friend of mine said his parents are taking him to the All You Can Eat for his birthday tomorrow. Not understanding his meaning, I asked, "The what?" He said, "The All You Can Eat." I asked, "You mean Golden Corral or Hometown Buffet?" He replied, "Hometown Buffet."

Actually, this misnomer is a good marketing idea. Customers call things what they want to call them, and often it has nothing to do with advertising campaigns or sophisticated branding efforts. You should pay close attention to what your customers say about your company. The best marketing ideas come from their lips.

If an all you can eat buffet called itself All You Can Eat Buffet, it would probably be successful. Gluttonous people, hard working people with big appetites, and lovers of plenty of food would greatly appreciate this name.

The name All You Can Eat says it all. The benefit is wrapped up in this name. It contains the psychological trigger that people respond to.

"Let's go to the All You Can Eat tonight!"


If you like this marketing concept, you should listen to me expound upon the Eat and Sleep. 

This is a type of restaurant that provides small, train car sleeping quarters for the budget minded traveler. Instead of leaving the eatery to go to an expensive hotel room, where all you do is sleep anyway, the Eat and Sleep combines dining and slumber in one economical package.

You attended a conference or a sales meeting that lasted into the evening hours. You're tired and hungry. So you go to the Eat and Sleep. You have your meal, a few drinks, then, without traveling by car, bus, subway, or taxi cab, you retire for needed rest.

There is a bathroom with showering and bathtub facilities. You go to bed in your little train car sleeper module, get up the next morning, clean up and shave, change your clothes, and off you go to the next appointment, all at one low priced rate.

Dine and the Eat and Sleep.

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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Loneliness is Better Than a Bad Relationship

When you start feeling sorry for yourself about not having a romantic relationship, remember that there is something worse than being lonely. It is infinitely worse to be trapped in a bad relationship.

No relationship is way better than a miserable or abusive relationship.

Everybody else seems happier than you -- but it doesn't take much poking around to burst that illusory bubble. If you could see through the charades and veneers, you'd see a very different reality in many cases.

If you have acquired the supernatural power of enjoying solitude and silence, the single and contemplative life, consider yourself very blessed indeed.

With the advent of social media, many people now think they HAVE to be connected and socializing all the time. Everywhere they go, they have to be constantly texting or talking to somebody on a cell phone.

They spend so much time interacting with others, they may not interact with themselves at all. Introspection, self-communion, and self-awareness wither and die. They are empty shells communicating with other empty shells. Everything is external. Nothing genuine or unique is happening inside them. They are just a constellation of cravings and moods, nothing more.

While "the kingdom of God is within you" is bypassed in favor of "the kingdom of society is outside you", do people even suspect that they've become tangible ghosts?

The inner dialogue, discussing yourself with yourself, is a lost art. Self-examination, soul evaluation, knowing who you are as a separate person -- this is replaced by placement in a peer group, position within a cultural milieu. Independent thinking gives way to group think and enforced conformity.

You may feel like a failure because you're not married, or you never had any children. Having rotten children is much worse than having no children. What you now consider a wretchedness may actually be a tremendous advantage, if you look at it from a different perspective.

Someone said that they cry when they see an old man eating alone in a restaurant. I cry more when I see an old couple at a restaurant who have nothing to say to each other and are obviously just enduring the relationship, waiting for death to set them free.

Our culture glamorizes romance, relationships, parenting, and the mythical "normal family" -- and tends to stigmatize single living and being alone.

But for some deeply spiritual and highly intelligent people, going off into a hermitage to live in solitude and silence was a preferred lifestyle that they never regretted.

To be human encompasses a wide range of lifestyles. Don't be deluded into thinking you're lacking something because your lifestyle isn't the one glamorized by Hollywood or the media.

Remember that "drama queen" is a term used to describe someone who is so empty inside, they thrive on the turmoil of their relationships and secretly enjoy complaining to everybody about how much trouble they're having.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Video Overview of Peoria Historical Society

Peoria Historical Society "Video Overview 2013."

A survey, through a series of still photographs, of some of the Society's activities and events. 

Featuring staff, trustees, volunteers, and community enjoying, researching, and archiving the rich legacy of the Peoria Area and the Illinois River Valley. 

Video production by Steven Streight.  Music by Str8 Sounds. Released June 30, 2013.