Updated Blog Look & Feel…

Hi all…

Yes, the blog shifted a bit this evening. I discovered some issues with the theme I was using before for WordPress and that caused me to redo a few things. I think I have it licked now and folks should be able to leave comments.

Sorry for any inconvenience. The new layout seems to be much simpler and less crowded than the old, so I think it looks better anyway.

Thanks for understanding.

–Fitz

NBC and Hulu.com

Hi all…

I thought all the hoopla about Hulu was interesting over the last few days.

A few months ago, NBC decided to pull out of iTunes and not renew. They were making piddly numbers and thought they could do the whole digital video distribution thing better and make more money at the same time.

Well, Hulu.com is the result of their labors. It’s in private beta now, but the upshot is that NBC controls the content and distribution of their own properties, which is probably in their best interests. Evidently it will be shared with NBC partners and other channels and small networks such as Sundance, Style, Golf, TV Guide, and National Geographic. The other major stations (CBS, ABC, Disney, and Viacom) haven’t yet signed on.

I find it interesting though in the land of free TV with YouTube, Blinkx, Joost, Blip.tv, and others, that NBC is going this route. However, since advertising is king, I anticipate that commercials will find their way into the equation somewhere.

Amazon’s Unbox service seems very similar to what I’ve seen and read of Hulu also, so I’m not quite sure what the differentiators are in the market. Hopefully that will become more clear when Hulu leaves private beta and becomes open to the world.

What does this mean to bloggers and advertisers? That’s tough to say. I believe that in the world of digital distribution, links are king. So I would hope that NBC (and others) would be smart enough to offer some sort of deal for associates pimping their products, but that’s just me. I’m a TV junkie and will watch in a variety of formats I’m sure.

What do you think? Will this impact an already crowded online TV market? Or do you think NBC may get it right and lead us to a nirvana of digital TV distribution?

Chime in!

–Fitz

Great Halloween Blog Post

Hey all!

The Great Pumpkin left us a present in the form of a blog post:

here

I thought I’d spin it off into a post of my own… Science Fiction-themed blogs…

1. Blog Trek… Boldly goes where no Blog has gone before…

2. The Blogtrix… We’re all just part of the great Blog machine… Really!!

3. The Blog Element… The perfect blogger returns to Earth to save us from anhilation!

4. The Blogger Strikes Back… A rebellious blogger is put in his place and has his homepage rampaged by an evil blog corporation…

5. The Day the Blog Stood Still… A blogger from another world comes down and speaks in Unicode, but nobody understands him until it’s too late…

6. War of the Blogs… A race of invading bloggers attacks Earth only to find that they are allergic to… gossip columns!

7. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Blog… A small, hand-held device helps intergalactic blog readers pop from one blogging universe to the next in search of a towel and a good mug of beer.

I could go on… But what do you guys think? Any cool ideas for Sci-Fi-themed blogs?

Until next time… I blog in peace!
–Fitz

Using Squidoo Lenses for your Blog

Hi all!

If you haven’t discovered Squidoo yet as yet another way to get the word out for your blog or product efforts, might I suggest that you take a look?

Check out my lens

Squidoo allows you to take your blog and wrap it in what they call a “lens” — you can use RSS feeds from your blog or add your own text (or html) as well as hooks into various search engines and other web presences like Technorati, CafePress, Amazon…

I’ve created a couple of lenses — one for my T-shirts (the one above) and one below for helping get some traffic for the Moebius Adventures roleplaying games.

Check out my lens

There are thousands of folks using Squidoo and it comes highly recommended by the CafePress community, so check it out!

–Fitz

Pep Boys and Making People Wait…

Hi all…

You may think from the title that this is a little off-topic, but it really isn’t. I recently had to go to Pep Boys to have them replace the battery in my wife’s car. The cold finally killed the old one and we were about to head out on a trip, so we needed it fixed immediately.

According to Google, the closest place to have that done (after AAA came and gave me a jump start) was Pep Boys. So, I trundled over to Pep Boys to have them take care of it. I was even happy enough to see that there was just one other gentleman in line in front of me, so I assumed it would only be a couple of minutes before we could get the process started…

Not so easy, it turns out. The Pep Boys I went to was one trying out some new software (written by an IBM development group in China) up front to run their store. Everything from entering customers, checking old records, getting parts ordered, and so on. Well, it turns out that the software was just bad enough to make them learn ways to get around quirks it had instead of actually doing their job and helping customers.

What was even more amusing to me was that while I was sitting there waiting to be helped, the guy at the counter got a call from one of the developers asking how they liked the software. The man at the counter was very polite and told him that he’d have to call back when he didn’t have a line of customers forming because his software wasn’t allowing him to help people quickly enough.

I’m a software engineer, so I found all this very entertaining. Nice to not be the guy being yelled at (occasionally) by folks because your software doesn’t work.

But I digress… This illustrates an important problem that everyone providing a service — bloggers, website developers, software engineers, writers, advertising widget makers, and so on — needs to be aware of. Never make your customer wait, or you’ll lose the customer. I had no way of getting anywhere, or I would have left Pep Boys and taken my car elsewhere — but I couldn’t because my car wouldn’t start.

It came up that my site was slow to load in IE7 this past week. I’m not an IE user any more. I have been pretty faithful to Firefox for a while now. But I will have to go through and see which widgets work fine on Firefox but not on IE7 and see what’s going on.

Performance is a huge factor in software development also. People don’t want to have to deal with your stuff — they want to use your stuff to get their stuff done. If they can’t use your stuff — they’ll find someone else’s stuff to use, and so on…

So it’s just one more way of making sure that you don’t lose your customers!

Until next time…

–Fitz

Zazzle vs. CafePress

Hi there!

Just yesterday I posted a blog entry about CafePress and promoting your business via that service (you can see the article here). While looking for other folks doing similar things, I came across Zazzle. It has a much nicer way to present your products to your user via their widget, like this:

You have many of the same options as with CafePress, but a nicer front end for your consumers.Something to consider!
–Fitz

CafePress for Advertising

Hey all…

I know most of you have been around the block a time or two with advertising, but I’m just now getting my feet wet with marketing and advertising for my other publishing effort for the Moebius Adventures Roleplaying Game.

A few months ago, I started trying my hand at designing funny or thought-provoking t-shirts and bumper stickers via CafePress. I’ve even sold one shirt to a complete stranger, so my shirts must not be too bad. But with the impending release of the first Moebius Adventures book, I thought I’d put some products out with the Moebius logo on them to try and share the “Moebius” love and get the word out a bit. (You can see my efforts here.)

CafePress is great because they have a wide selection of available products. You upload your design, and within minutes you can have a plethora of products from t-shirts, bumper stickers, buttons, books, and so on. (Recently they added the ability to create signs for political awareness, among other things also — so they’re continually adding new products.)

If you want to design more than a very few products, you have to pay their fee for a store. But it’s minimal. (Less than $7 a month.) And to get the word out, it can be quite handy to stick on a shirt or a button or slap a bumper sticker on your car to get everyone to your site or your product line.

It’s obviously not for everyone. I’m not a graphic artist by any stretch of the imagination, but I can see my way to creating a few things here and there to help myself out.

So check them out. Depending on what you’re doing, it might get you a few more readers or sales!

Until next time…

–Fitz

eBook Publishing and Lulu.com

Hi all!

Just thought I’d tell you about another project of mine. I’m currently working on publishing the first of several roleplaying games — a line called Moebius Adventures. And I am marketing them both as hardcopy (printed/bound) and e-published books via Lulu.com.

Lulu Logo

If you haven’t taken a look at Lulu before, I highly recommend them. The test I ran a few months ago is what convinced me that it was time to publish these books and I also plan to write an eBook about using roleplaying in different business situations based on my series of three articles I wrote earlier this month. (You can read those articles here, here, and here.)

They provide great services, including ISBNs and making your books available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other retail sites. One of their new products is a photo book, which looks like it might compete with Snapfish, who does something similar.

Anyway, I urge you to check them out. This isn’t a sponsored post, but I will sing their praises anyway!

Until next time!
–Fitz

DRM and the MP3 market

Hi all…

Those of us who are Amazon affiliates may or may not have seen that Amazon has recently launched a beta for their MP3 service (http://www.amazonmp3.com) or you can check out my store here.

But what is interesting is the recent shift of all the major MP3 vendors, such as iTunes and Napster and eMusic to DRM-free MP3s. And with the shift of some of the popular bands like Radiohead starting to drift away from the huge management/production companies and offering their products directly to the consumer, I think we’ve only seen the beginning.

Video is in a similar predicament, though we’re pretty early in that cycle. If you look at Amazon’s Unbox service, which I use, I think it’s pretty cool. Some of the major networks are moving away from the iTunes model and going towards other vendors or even rolling their own. I know NBC has their own shows on their website.

Here’s an example of Amazon’s Unbox service: here

So if you’re marketing MP3s as part of your service, I think DRM-free is the way to go. iTunes philosophy of Apple or nothing has started working against them. As a non-iPod MP3 player owner (I have a Sansa), I have struggled with iTunes as a consumer. You have a great selection there, but you’re limited to using it on an Apple MP3 player unless you can find a way to manipulate the files to get them in a simple MP3 format.The MP3 market is great for individual websites and business owners if you’re affiliated with one of the larger markets. I think Amazon has a great model. It’ll just be interesting to see how things shake out to see how the DRM backlash continues.

Until next time…

Enjoy!
–Fitz

Evidence of the World Gone Mad…

Hi all…

This is a little off-topic, but I just thought I’d comment on some of the wacky stories I’ve seen in the popular media lately… And yes, I find it highly ironic that by writing a blog, I’m contributing to the “popular” media, but hey… What can I do?

  • Robot Cannon Kills 9, Wounds 14 (here) … This blog post indicates this is an indication that the robot uprising has begun… I believe it’s just man’s general lack of common sense. Amazing that there doesn’t appear to be any kind of a way to shut it off in an emergency… Terminator 4, anyone?
  • Feuding Nuns force Convent Demise (here) … First heard about this on the Bob and Tom morning radio show and sat in disbelief. But here’s the story. Evidently the two remaining nuns had enough one day and pummeled their Mother Superior. The world must be in a sorry state when ladies of peace start in on each other…
  • In September, prominent California cardiologist Maurice Buchbinder had his privileges revoked at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla after he allegedly roughed up an unruly angioplasty patient during and immediately after the procedure. Buchbinder was so irritated by the patient’s combativeness that he even (according to witnesses interviewed by state medical licensing officials) delivered a pair of what could be described as “Three Stooges” moves: bopping the patient in the head with the tip of his elbow and twisting the patient’s nose until it turned “bluish.” [San Diego Union Tribune, 9-26-07] – this from the MSNBC site here

Between these wacky stories and all of the political and military turmoil in the world, it’s a wonder we’re still here sometimes. If nothing else, it provides something for the news media to talk about. 🙂

Have a great day!

–Fitz