EJM Designs Limited Blog

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Videos: Moonwalk Fail, Shake Weight, N64 Kid

In the tradition of keeping things within the range of the attention span of the internet, I present you with 3 videos under 2 minutes:

Moonwalk Fail

Not much to be said - plays as advertised.

Shake Weight

Only 4 million reps? Please comment your own conclusions. :S

N64 Kid

Because a classic is always a classic. Seriously, that's not me. I'd be way more excited.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Eric Marschall on That Marketing Show

That Marketing Show

This week I'm featured on Rodger Roeser's That Marketing Show!

That Marketing Show is the official broadcast of the Public Relations Agency Owners Association.

My discussion with Rodger centers around how we handle the discussion of public vs. private and personal vs. professional when it comes to social media. What happens when your personality is part of your business or you want to inject some personality into your blog? How far do you stick it out there? Is there a line?

These are just a couple of questions we address in this excellent and informative marketing conversation. Take a listen!

How Much Does a Domain Name Cost?

$10 or less.

Back after the internet transitioned from military to civilian and Network Solutions set up a fee schedule and was the only way to register, it was $100. Now it has been decentralized so much that you can get domain names for $7 - $10 at places like GoDaddy, NameCheap, and many more sites.

The reason I mention this is that I've had experiences with clients (see my post on Portability) who were not aware of their options and I even received a letter from a company today - a company with whom I did not register my domain names to begin with, but who wanted me to transfer to them at $30 per year.

These companies are not just trying to stretch their profit margin, they are preying on people who simply do not know better. This is bad business and unethical by its very nature

To be clear:

Under no circumstances should you ever pay more than $10 per year on .com, .net, or .org domain names.

Be wise. Shop around. And always have someone you can talk to (for free) if you have a question about web stuff. It'll keep more money in your pocket.

And if you don't have that person, my number is in the sidebar ;)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wednesday Twitter: Creepy, Driving Celebs on Pandora


Creepy Google Search turns out to be the same creepy Google search, just on social networks. Surprise, surprise!

Adam Lambert drama ensues with whining about his album cover. I didn't know the guy in Highlander was doing an album. Oh, that was Christopher Lambert? Nevermind.

Oh noes! It's Twitter. In traffic! Lots of whining on the Bay Bridge. Cheese vendors requested to add complimentary tastings to the whine.

Lost fans? William Atherton was trick-tweeted in the latest version of JJ's trickery. Dick? Anyone?

Finally, what we've all been waiting for, it's Pandora doing the Twitter (and FB) dance. Bring it.

Plenty of joy on Twitter this week. Love on it.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Video Roundup: Fun Theory, Biden Sneezes, Facebook Abuse

Fun Theory: Deepest Bin and Piano Stairs

Biden Sneezes? The Nerve!

Gaffe-Prone Biden Embarrasses Nation Yet Again By Sneezing During Meeting

Man in a Box

Don't know if you've caught this web series, but I'm including it because it's specifically about Facebook abuse and hilarious. Be forewarned: swearing in video.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wednesday Twitter: Meteor, Spies, Death!


Happy 5 Billionth!

Happy Birthday to you! Happy birthday...wait. That's not right. Twitter hits 5 billion tweets - or 10,000 if you only include the intelligible and not-spam. Either way, congrats!

Orionid Meteor Shower

The shower peaks tonight! Best time is reportedly 1am wherever you are. "'That’s when the patch of Earth you are standing on is barreling headlong into space on Earth’s orbital track, and meteors get scooped up like bugs on a windshield,' said Robert Roy Britt on Space.com." And, of course, don't forget #meteorshower!

Spies Like Us

Well, they don't tweet but the CIA will read yours - and your blog! Surprised? You shouldn't be. From Carnivore and probably before to wiretaps, communications have been monitored in the US under the auspices of national security for ...well, as long as there have been communications, probably. And this stuff is public. I would venture to guess it's a waste of money to filter what has now become 5B tweets, but our government has always been good at that.

Oh Noes! Celebs! Not Again!

Someone was all "RIP Kanye West" and BLAMMO it was like everywhere on Twitter and then DaRealAmberRose was all "Its in extreme poor taste to have that as a trendy topic. It's totally disrespectful to make up a story like this where all human" so I guess Kanye ain't dead. Or its trendy human where or something.

Meghan McCain wasn't really a celeb until she decided to post a "spontaneous" twitpic of her cleavage ...and an Andy Warhol biography. Crazy? You bet! But not as hot as this week when Pink decided to let her 600K (!) followers suggest what she dress up for for Halloween. Yowza! I don't know what's nuttier: Pink's dilemma or that someone writing for MTV still thinks Octomom is "topical."

*sigh* Does everything eventually become E!?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday Inspiration: The Universe

As a tech geek and armchair scientist, I often find inspiration in science. Today's inspiration is based on that, and gives us a little perspective. When you get tied down to a computer or an office or even a city, a reminder that we are only a small part of the universe, a universe that is HUGE, can help us remember that maybe our problems and issues aren't so incredibly large.

Or, like Zaphod Beeblebrox, you may just imagine that as a microscopic dot on a microscopic dot you are the most important thing in it. Either way, enjoy the Hubble Ultra Deep Field. If this does not inspire awe, I do not know what can.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Videos: Wild Things, Balloons, Bats

If you haven't had enough of the "Where the Wild Things Are" preview and the accompanying Arcade Fire music, feel free to click play. For me, it inhabited my dreams last night and will not leave my head.

Balloon boy? "You guys said... we were doing this for the show." Did anyone else relate this to the sub-sub-piece in 12 Monkeys where Bruce Willis heard the story about the missing kid on the radio, remembered it from his childhood, and said that it was a ruse and the kid was in a barn? Maybe just me?

And now for something completely different: The Onion News Network hits on a gem about a bat.


Have a great weekend!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Music as an Inspiration

Some days inspiration does not appear as empowerment or an intrinsic motivation, and you need to find an outside source.

Okay, maybe that's most days for some.

But on those days, when you must seek out some inspiration, you have the option of going no further than your network connection. Because music has always had the ability to inspire and lift us up. And with the internet, you're not tied to going to your local music store to pick up an album.

Trouble waking up in the morning? Knock out something to get you on your feet. Feeling down? We all have music to bring us up. Losing energy in the middle of the day? Get moving again!

Below I've got a couple of my favorites. But I know you have yours. Whether you're used to noise while working or need quiet, take a break. Recharge. Your day will run more smoothly in just taking 10 minutes a couple times a day to just enjoy.

Wake-up Music: "I'm Free" by The Soup Dragons

After-lunch blahs: "Jesus Built My Hotrod" by Ministry

Something poppy for a dragging day: "Angry Kids of the World (Unite)" or anything else by Tiger Tunes

Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday Video Roundup: NASA, Kitteh, Fred

LCROSS Mission

Yay, we're blowing up the moon! Actually, you don't see anything on the video from this morning. It's a shame it wasn't a little more spectacular because of all the hype it got. I hope NASA gets some seriously good data.

Sneezing Cat

I offer you a sneezing cat to reflect my home life. I, my wife, and my daughter - along with our two cats - apparently have a cold. I've never seen cats sneeze so much and I've had them for over 7 years.

Our dog is somehow unaffected.

And Fred Gives Advice

Again, from my daughter, only to shield you from the hell that is the She Wolf video. Feel free to put in the ear plugs or smash your computer monitor.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wednesday Twitter: Celebs, Celebs, Celebs


I found so much drab news about Twitter this week, I thought I'd poke a little fun at the vapid foolishness that is celebrity Twitter simply by posting the information; no other clarification is needed.

Elizabeth Taylor announced this week via Twitter that she's going in for a heart operation. Miley Cyrus quit and deleted her Twitter account, leaving 1.1 million followers partying in the USA without her. A waiter in LA got fired for Tweeting about celebs and whining about waiting tables. Waaahaa! Drew Carey will donate $100,000 to the Armstrong Foundation to claim @drew Twitter name if he gets 100K followers by Nov 9th. Okay, that's not so vapid. Follow @DrewFromTV.

And that's the condensed soup version of this week's Twitter headlines. I'm looking forward to something a little more compelling come next Wednesday.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Portability: Who Really Owns Your Website?

Don't be chained up

In the past couple months, with clients and potential clients and friends and some folks I'm just advising, I was both surprised and horrified that the topic I'm going to be addressing here actually needs to be addressed. But I guess there are those businesses out there that need to make the extra buck and/or need control and really don't have the client or end-user in their best interest.

The question is: Are you portable? In other words, if your registration or hosting or even development company folded, would you be able to switch without a complete crippling of your website?

Who really owns your website?

Here are 4 things you need to check.

1. Domain Name

What's your website domain name? You know, that WWW thing, that branding that you can recite in your sleep. Excellent, you're doing great so far.

Now: do you know exactly where it lives, how to access it, and who actually did the purchasing of that name?

Your domain name has a home. That home is a registry or hosting (or both) company. Through that account, you can renew the ownership of the name, control where the name points to go for the website files, or redirect it somewhere else.

I have seen very recently an instance where a non-profit group had an internal spat and the person who originally purchased the domain name logged into the registration site, renewed the site for 7 years in his name, and changed the password.

I've also heard tales of companies like AT&T doing the registering on the client's behalf but maintaining control to guarantee a service contract.

Take-Away: You need to guarantee from inception that you have control over your own site name, that either you or someone you trust registers that domain name - in your name - and can (they should immediately) provide you with login information.

2. Hosting

The hosting service is where the files for your website live. This can be the same company (like GoDaddy.com or namecheap.com) where the domain name lives and was registered. And that's fine. Problems arise in the same way as they do with the domain name issues.

I spoke with a client I'd just begun working with a few months ago when they forwarded me an email from their dual registry/hosting company. The dual company claimed that if my client did not renew their previous registration at some $50/yr that when it expired they would hold the website in default until a $200 fee was paid to them.

This is fraud. Quick 101: Domain registration can be found reasonably from $8 to $15 per year, depending on how many years you're renewing. If someone is threatening a hostage act like this, they fully intend to wait for the second of expiration and buy the domain name themselves, as any person in the world could do. Then they point it wherever they want. And when you pay, do you get control back? Or do they maintain ownership?

Take-Away: Often said is "Possession is 9/10ths of the law." That may not be fair, but it is true. Unless you have full copyright on your business and paperwork that you've purchased your own domain name and hosting through your company, fighting for control could be expensive in both time and dollars.

Do you have all hosting login information? The login to the hosting account and FTP information? Who else has it?

3. Programming

There is a city on the East Coast that I do some newsletter work for from time to time. They awarded their government contract for a website to a company that built their site in a proprietary content management system. The company also maintains the site. When discussion began about the city doing their own updates to the site through the CMS (which is - generally - the intent), the company said "Sure - as soon as you go through our 80+ hours of training on how to use the CMS."

Their website is being held hostage by this company and their only options are to continue paying the ridiculous monthly fee, paying a great deal more money to this company for training, or paying about an equal amount to go somewhere else and have the site reconstructed.

Take-Away: if something goes wrong with your service provider, are you able to walk away with those files? If you are, will another programmer be able to take those files and understand how to change or manipulate them?

4. Pay Per Click and Social Media

Pay Per Click campaigns, whether Adwords or Yahoo or Bing, can either be created separately and managed at a central location or created within one account. If you have someone create an ad campaign, do you have access to it? If you don't like the job someone is doing with that account, can you take it with you?

The same login issues exist with Social Media: Do you control the account? Did you create it? Was your Facebook fan page created and administered through your own Facebook account or someone else's?

This is the essence of portability when it comes to a website: regardless of who you have doing the design and build and programming and optimization and social media, you should have logins and administration ability for everything, even if you don't want to touch it.

That way, should anything negative happen, should anything unexpected happen, and you have the need to change service providers or just get rid of the one you have, you control all the assets.

As owner of EJM Designs Limited, that is one of the most important aspects of how we work, and a subtext of guarantee for any client we work with: we build on best practices and portability.

Make sure anyone you are currently or eventually going to work with does the same. It's good business.

As always, feel free to ask any questions in comments, or directly at eric (at) ejmdesigns dot com or any of the other connections you can make through the website.

Why Issue 7 and Our Libraries Are Important

I know we usually discuss social media on Tuesdays and I try to keep politics out of the blog as much as possible, so I thought I'd touch on something important and social an ...contains media and is relatively void of politics.

I recall, as a child, some of the best weekends in memory included a bike ride to the park, running around with my siblings and parents, and following that up with a ride over to the nearest library branch. I would get lost in the rows of books, the expanse of knowledge, and that slightly musty smell of age and wisdom. My love of reading and knowledge carried into adulthood and I can still get lost for hours in a book store or library, and my daughter now enjoys all that the library has to offer.

But they're in trouble.
1. Why does the Library need to go on the ballot now?

The Library has seen a 28% reduction in State funding since 2001 which will cause a deficit of over $16 million by the end of 2009. Without new funding the Library will be forced to make dramatic cuts including closing branches, cutting services, and hours.

A reduction in services will affect thousands of individuals who rely on our Library system every single day for important services such as job placement, homework help, children's programming, and at home services for the homebound and elderly. Although the economy has taken a downturn, the need for these services has not decreased, but only increased dramatically as we have seen circulation numbers hit all-time highs in 2008 and record numbers at the beginning of 2009.
They do not receive any city or state funding. This levy will cost $2.50 a month for every $100,000 of value of your home. And between the books, internet access, and a generally stunning DVD collection, you can't beat it.

You can see their FAQs here, but one of the things that is not always forthcoming is that if it does not pass, branches will begin closing on December 1st.

If you live in a county that has a library levy on the ballot, please vote for it, and keep a tradition and priceless resource alive.

Because as Robot Chicken reminds us...

Monday, October 5, 2009

Carl Sagan - A Glorious Dawn Remix

A fantastic, beautiful, chilling, geeky mash-up.

Inspiration Monday: In Short: Best Always

Obviously, the first directive of your mind when you arise is to review what you expect to be your day and a quick visualization on how you might accomplish everything, how you can be your best and most efficient all day long.

But that can be daunting.

Instead of a large concept like "all day," quickly visit each task as you know it, and think briefly on how to optimize that task.

When you break things into bite-size pieces, they're easier to chew, easier to understand, and easier to bring success to.