EJM Designs Limited Blog

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

United Healthcare: Prostitute Message?

Recent commercial from United Healthcare:

This is a great example of an unfortunate (or purposeful) advertising experience. The ad is fine, the message works, but then there's the music behind it; it's Lykke Li's "Get some" and the music at the end applies to the lyrics:
Like the shotgun need an outcome
I'm your prostitute, you gon get some


In its own right, it's a catchy song and Lykke Li a talented artist I've been listening to for a while. But does United Healthcare really want to posture itself with the refrain of a song that includes the word "prostitute?"

Your thoughts and comments are welcome.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Giving Thanks ...for My Life

Back from a wonderful weekend visiting my family up in Cleveland, it's hard not to reflect on giving thanks, as my very life was in danger the whole time.

After almost 500 miles of highway traveling, my wife, daughter, dog, and I got back to Cincinnati safe and sound. I ventured out to Kroger to pick up an easy dinner of pizza rolls and some staples for the house. During a slow turn after a stop, my left front wheel decided to detach from the steering mechanism and point in a direction contrary to my right front tire; I'd lost a tie rod.

Within minutes, seven guys were out of their cars pushing me to the sidewalk (literally linebacker-ing the dead weight - thank goodness it was raining and slick). I called AAA and all was well. But if that had happened at ANY point over the previous 4 days, specifically the drive there and back, my family's life would've been in terrible danger.

Shout-out to Ceiling Cat. I owe you one.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

So I'm Back, From Outer Space

July 11th was the last time I posted here. I've been busy. But I've also been just lazy in my time management and my priorities. I know, I know. I understand you're upset. But I'm here. Now. And we'll work this out. Just give me some time. Just a week or two. And we'll get back on just like we used to. It's going to be a cold winter; be good to have someone to curl up and read. Just saying.

So starting tomorrow (or, I guess, today), I'll be posting every weekday, M-F with occasional weekend Gravy. I'll keep it light and insightful, just like it used to be.

Thanks for reading. Be talking to you real soon.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Future Doesn't Come to the Couch

I was actually think about the future, mulling over my plans for my business, how to better serve my clients when I came across this quote:
When people indulge a little too much in their fantasies about the future, daydreaming rather than thinking about the obstacles that stand in the way of making their desired future actually happen, it saps their motivation and energy. So it's important to not spend too much of your time thinking ONLY about how great the future will be - you've got to couple that with thoughts about how the work will get done.

- social psychologist Heidi Grant Halvorson

Wow! Yes, no only are your thoughts just as important as actions, but the type of thoughts you're having will either help or hinder. Pie-in-the-sky is fine, if you're dedicating time to how to bake and fly. In other words: See the goal, plan the path, take action. If you're continually doing nothing but staring at the goal, the smallest pebbles will become stumbling blocks.

Make it a great week!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Chocolate Sex?

Perhaps you've seen this Hershey's commercial:

Yay! Cute song! Chocolate love! Get me a Hershey's bar right now!

But some (most) of us were around when Modern English released "I Melt With You" and some might even remember the intro lyrics:
Moving forward using all my breath
Making love to you was never second best

Wait, what?

So Hershey's has clearly positioned themselves into a sexual reference.

My question to you: on purpose or by accident? Does the child-like cover of the song make it worse?

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

April 1: Get Your Internet Game Face On

April Fool's Day

If you're internet savvy (or if you're not and getting there), you know already that not everything you read online is valid. You need to check sources, hoaxes, and any other reason to tear silliness to ribbons.

Get your internet game face on.

Today is April Fool's Day.

While you should always check backgrounds and sources, April 1 is notorious for being a source of bedlam for the internet world: anyone who has a computer can post anything on the internet. And while most of these April Fool's bits of humor are not remotely malicious, they will make you look like a fool if you read something and say OMG! I have to pass this on to everyone I know!

Credible sources - including Google - have been party to such tomfoolery.

The lesson on April 1 is: Do your research and wait until tomorrow. Then, if still credible, do your email forwarding then.

Save the servers! No April 1st email forwards!

Monday, March 28, 2011

New Angle, Old Scam


I know all my readers know better than to respond to an email saying you won the lottery (domestic or international), right? And no one from England or any country in Africa really wants you to help in the transfer of clandestine monies. Right?

But I'm still surprised when a small tweak in this absurd formula nets these scammers a heap of new suckers. And so I present something that came to my inbox last week. Behold, the "You've been scammed" Scam Spam letter:
Greetings to you

REF/PAYMENTS CODE: ECB/06654 $500,000 USD.

On behalf of the Obama's Foundation and UNITED NATIONS, we wish to notify
you as a beneficiary of $500,000 USD in compensation of scam
victims.This is to bring to your notice that we are delegated from the
Obama's Foundation and UNITED NATIONS in Central Bank to pay 150 victims
of scam $500,000 USD (Five Hundred Thousand Dollars) each. You are listed
and approved for this payment as one of the scammed victims to be paid
this amount.

According to the number of applicants at hand, 114 Beneficiaries has
been paid, over a half of the victims are from the United States, we
still have a pending of 36 compensations left to be paid. Your
particulars was mentioned by one of the Syndicates who was arrested as
one of their victims of the operations, you are hereby warned not to
communicate or duplicate this message to him for any reason what so
ever as the U.S. secret service is already on trace of the other
criminals. So keep it secret till they are all apprehended.Other
victims who have not been contacted can submit their application as
well for scrutiny and possible consideration

Do contact HSBC INTERNATIONAL BANK, United Kingdom Branch for
verification and release of your $500,000 USD that we have deposited
with the HSBC BANK,UK.
The account log on will be presented to you by the bank in order to
access the funds before releasing into your nominated bank account.
You will transfer the funds into your nominated account on-line as the
HSBC BANK,UK will provide the necessary information to you. Please if you
are willing to accept the funds, do contact the Managing Director of the
HSBC BANK,UK with the following details:

You are to fill the appropriate form and submit to the bank.
[1] Full Names:.............................
[2] Contact address:....................
[3] Direct Telephone:....................
|4| Occupation:.............................

Managing Director of the HSBC BANK,UK
Name: Barr Mark Johnson.
Private Email: barr.markj39@hotmail.com

Yours Faithfully,
Dr.Majlis Daerah Marang

Terrible English? Check!
Dubious personal email from the director of a financial institution? Check!
Unnecessary CAPS? CHECK!
Strange premise? Check!
Alternative red flag (2010? And an unnecessary copyright?)? Check!

C'mon folks. Bottom line: If someone you don't know sends you an email and wants to give you money, they are lying.

And because you already know this, you need to tell someone who might not know. Only through education of the non-savvy will we stop the predatory actions of a few thousand vultures. And it is our mission to spread that protection.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The One You Feed

An old Cherokee Chief was teaching his grandson about life.

"There is a great fight going on inside of all of us", he told him, "and it's a fight between two wolves.

"One is evil. He is anger, envy, guilt, sorrow and ego.

"And the other is good. He is joy, love, hope, truth and faith."

Grandson asked him, "Which wolf will win?"

The Chief replied,

"The one you feed."

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Love. Every. Day.


Why love Monday? It's your reset button, your hit-the-ground-running, your New Years Day of the week. Mondays are when we get a chance to look at what we can do better from the previous week and make that a focus.

Many people look at Monday as a plague - "a case of the Mondays" - but this is the day that owns the rest of the week, the day to wake with Success! in your head, to put on the conductor's cap and drive that train. Because if you don't, you're nothing but a passenger.

Takeaway: Monday is your engine!


Why love Tuesday? I've found that most people poo-poo away Mondays, so Tuesday is the busiest day of the week. We're getting things done, helping clients, taking calls, making calls, building new business and existing relationships.

Beside that, it's the "release" day of the week: movies on DVD, video games, new CDs, and - for the most part - books. This Tuesday, make business happen and find something new to love.

Takeaway: Tuesday is your genesis!


Why love Wednesday? Most people call it "Hump Day" while they slog through the week, the mid-point of a dismal outlook. NO! Wednesday is the first sign the business week is soon coming to a close, that there is a limit to what can happen in a business week. Get moving!

Send out your reminders, contact your clients, make sure something is happening before Friday.

Plus: New comics are released.

Takeaway: Wednesday is your lifesource!


Why love Thursday? Based on the past few days, Thursday should be relatively quiet, so catch up on some things. Make Thursday the day you knock out your absurd inbox or make a weekly trip to your local networking group or just put on the headphones, hit the driving music (me: techno), block out the distractions and get it done.

As you may have heard, the weekend's on its way.

Takeaway: Thursday is your catch-up!


Why love Friday? What's not to love about Friday? It's the last "work day" of the week!

Most people fluff off on a Friday even more than a Monday. For some it's even more stressful because you've got to find some closure to the week, need to get X number of things done before the weekend.

But it's Friday! Make sure you spend some moments in the morning planning your day. Get what you can done and be okay with putting off the rest to next week. Close the deals, pause the conversations.

Plus: New movies are released in theatres every Friday. Popcorn time!

Takeaway: Friday is your closure!


Why love Saturday? If you're like me, Saturdays are sometimes work overflow. But whether you work for yourself or someone else, Saturdays NEED to be yours! Do what you must - absolutely must - and nothing more business-wise. Get out there and fix that thing with the door or put a nail in that creaky step and retire in the evening with friends or family (and if you have neither nearby, call me) because you've been knocking it down hard for the last few days and if you work hard the general wisdom is that you must play hard - or at least play somewhat.

Takeaway: Saturday is your leisure!


Why love Sunday? Football!

Just kidding. Yes, there's football, but from a business perspective, Sunday is the recharge day, the visualization day. If you want to preempt your Monday, knock through some emails. Follow-up on the Saturday gutter-cleaning or basement-organizing you didn't quite finish.

But relax. Please. Relax. Play some video games, catch up on your DVR shows, rent a movie, but spend your best parts of this day the way you want to spend it: in quiet peace alone, with family or other loved ones. Decompress.

And as you end the day, prepare for tomorrow, even if it's just mentally saying to yourself "Success!" as you fall asleep. Because Monday's coming and Monday's exciting because Monday's your reset button, your hit-the-ground-running...

Takeaway: Sunday is your recharge!

Every Day

Why love Every Day?

Because you're here. You're alive. You're doing what you do and you're going to be better at it every single day you do it.

You're going to Love Every Day because if you don't, you will lose. You will fail, as a business and as a human being. Yes, you are allowed some bad days, some idontwannas, but your motivation is your own, your conductor-ship of the train or bus is yours to hold or drop.

Drive your bus. Conduct your train. Make it count in both business and in life. Work your ass off and spend serious time with those you care about. And don't - ever - forget yourself. Quiet- beer- video game- movie- meditation- time is probably the most important part of the equation.

So love yourself, love others, love what you do. In that order.

Love. Every day.

As my father coined: "Love is the bond."

Make it happen in your life. Make it happen for you. And never forget to love every day.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Kill the Idontwannas

You've been there before: getting out of bed, waking up, answering the phone, checking your voicemail because you didn't answer the phone, running your business, making that meeting that you can skip...

I don't wanna...

I've mentioned this before about your thoughts defining who and what you are. When you hear that coming from inside your head, you need to snuff it. You need to step up and do what you know you need to do.

The Idontwannas will break you, and spill poison into your business and your life.

So get up, get a move-on. Make action your success, make motivation your mission. Live like you know you need to, even if - some days - you don't want to.

And if you can change that switch, even if you have to flip it every day or even every few hours, do it.

Make your life as beautiful as you think it can be. You're driving the bus. You're the one in charge. So do it. As Captain Picard said: Make it so.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Wendy's Fried Linguistics

You may have noticed that since November, Wendy's has been offering slimmer, skin-on fries called -- well, let the branding speak for itself:

Wendy's Fries

At first glance, you notice the rustic/artisan patina print, "Natural" and "Sea Salt!?" OMG - Wendy's is going all natural, must be organic or something. Must have!

They did an amazing job on their branding for this because that was my first, subconscious reaction as well: Yay! Wendy's goes natural, go green! Ah, but it is not to be so.

Quick review of the language

Natural-Cut: This is not "Natural, cut" but natural-cut, literally meaning cut naturally. Now I can imagine a few horrific scenarios where you might see potatoes being cut and exclaim "Oh, how unnatural!" but seriously: how do you cut things unnaturally. That's like advertising "Coherent-Reality Chips." When wouldn't they be? And if they went through such extensive pains NOT to call their fries natural, what are they exactly?

Fries: Lest you forget amongst all the magical potato language and graphics, these are french fries. They are fried taters. And while fried taters may be delicious and varied in taste and preparation, they are NEVER good for you.

Sea Salt: Yes, sea salt is different than table salt, especially the micron-powdered stuff they used to coat the fries with, but it's still salt. You ever hear a doctor tell his/her heart patient "The table salt is killing you, but if you can switch to sea salt, I think you'll be just fine."?

The Truth

Based on some preliminary articles, Wendy's missed the boat on this one. Despite appearing more appealing to foodies or naturalists, "the new fries will pack more sodium - a medium size fry goes from 350 milligrams to 500 milligrams ... and calories jumps 10 to 420."

Caveat emptor, my friends. If something looks too good to be true, ...well, you know.

(And on a personal note, I do think the new fries are pretty tasty.)

Unfortunate Ad: HISCOX

I saw this ad over at The Oatmeal, a site full of witty and insightful web comics, seated amongst similarly-sized comic links like "How to Pet a Kitty" and the like.


Then I clicked it 'cause I was all like "OMG - thorough, well-thought-out joke site by which I may waste my time!" But I looked and I looked. And I couldn't find the funny fake-ness I anticipated it to be. And then I saw the figurative, tall, angry HR lady in a pant-suit looking down upon me with the disappointment of a sister in a habit, making that sad clicking noise out of the side of her mouth before barely audibly sighing "And what did you think would be so funny?" *

Did I mention I grew up with Cox Cable in the house?

* While I made a point of dramatizing it a bit, I am a professional when it comes to usability; the ad size tip-off, pre-click, to a quick scan and click-through of the target site lasted less than six seconds.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Do I Need to Adjust My SEO Every Month?



Sorry. Allow me to elucidate.

I get the question all the time and not everyone likes my answer. The question generally comes from a client or potential client who heard from someone something to the effect of: "Yeah, Google's always adjusting its algorithm, so you've got to mix up that SEO every single month to keep up."

The Plan

Say you or a service provider puts together an all-inclusive, rear-kickin' SEO plan and executes it perfectly. Every page has a definitive focus, reinforced by the page title - h1 - copy Holy Relevance Trinity. Your meta data is tuned (if not always used), alt and title attribute tags are playing some killer backup and your copy is sufficient but not overkill, readable but keyword-dense.

What then?

Well, assuming the necessary submissions, robots.txt, autodiscovery are in place and nothing is done to accidentally sabotage the outcome, you've got a pretty good chance Google et.al. will begin indexing your pages or raising your rankings. After a couple weeks to a couple months, that is.

The Someone Quote

"Yeah, Google's always adjusting its algorithm, so you've got to mix up that SEO every single month to keep up."

The first problem with that general idea is the timing. Yes, you can be certain that the good folks at Google don't take one day off making tiny changes to the algorithm. But as we just mentioned, it may take a couple months to get moving. So what were you tweaking?

The second problem with the quote is the absolute arrogance it encompasses. That Someone does not know a whole lot about the algorithm, let alone the little adjustments; if they did, they would be busy on a yacht.

The last problem is necessity. If you already have a clear focus on your pages and a solid search engine optimization setup, how much can you accurately make that better by small tweaks from month to month? The answer is: you can't.

The Con(clusion)

The person who tells you that you need SEO adjustments every month either does not understand search engine optimization or is lying in order to perpetuate that myth - and perhaps even rope you into an unnecessary, expensive 12+ month SEO contract. Their gain, your loss.

In a worst-case scenario, you're looking at a never-ending game of ghost cat-and-mouse: "Sorry about the lack of any measurable results, but we're doing everything we can and Google keeps switching it up."

(Can you guess which parties do not appreciate my answer?)

A Recommendation

Search engine optimization does change, but except for the HUGE revisions (hint: they have names), the little tweaks aren't going to drastically affect your rankings, and the little tweaks that would be done to your site monthly are something a small- or medium- sized business has absolutely no need for.

After I explain this to a client, I give them a realistic recommendation: Yes, Google does change, but your focus does not, not by much. So after 90 days we'll take a look at analytics, at rankings, (at no charge) and if we see something that could increase your rankings, at THAT time we'll put together suggestions with justification into a proposal for additional SEO work.

In my professional opinion, anything else is either ignorance or deception.

(Sidenote for another post: Be wary of anyone separating web design from SEO, e.g. "And this is our SEO Package." "SEO Friendly" is what you get if you don't choose that package, which generally means "If you want it later, we'll tear out the drywall in your house to add the electric. Until then? Nothing, and we'll wait for your call.")

Friday, January 28, 2011

Video Friday: Catchphrases that Stick

Because of io9.com's list of 10 catchphrases you swear you never use, I was inspired to snag some videos with famous sci-fi quotes (at least famous to me). Let me know what you think!

"Make it so."

This is Unix...

That's no moon...

Three seashells

Three seashells - in French?

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mind the Nozzel

Captured somewhere between Cinci and Chicago this Thanksgiving:


I think they're doing it wrong.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Don't Let the Alarm Clock Drive

Here's a little motivational psychological tip to help you get every last bit of kick out in the morning: Don't let the alarm clock drive.

In other words, instead of getting up when you hear the blaring of the clock or the ring of your phone alarm, hit that snooze button (you know you're doing that already, anyway). Take a few deep breaths, run through your first steps of the morning, and get moving under your own power.

It's a small mind trick, but when you let the alarm clock drive the first act of your day, you're being pushed by an "outside" force. However, when you move on your own, get up between beeps, YOU are taking charge of the first moments of your day, you are grabbing ownership at the get-go. And that can make all the difference the whole day through.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday! Snow FAIL, Scrollwheel, Starting Line FAIL

Things still snow-covered? Don't try to remove it like this:

I love helping others in understanding technology and the internet. But sometimes it's even worse than this:

And I guess we can close it out with one more FAIL:

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

MyCleanPC.com - Buyer Beware

Here's an edited version of the commercial with a humorous end, but the only bit I could come up with on short notice:

Now this has been around for a few years, and that tells me that someone's making a heap-load of money because it's become even more prevalent on television in the past few months. Or maybe I'm watching more late-night television.

More Than 3 Seconds

So aside from the spokesman looking and sounding like he's nursing a nasty cold (purposeful? virus?), the line that always bugs me is "Does it take more than three seconds for your email to load?"

What exactly does that mean?
  • Should I be clocking Outlook to see if the program opens in 3 seconds?
  • Should I be clocking the email load once Outlook opens?
  • Should I be clocking how long it takes to complete a send/receive request?
  • Is it how long it takes my browser to open in the process of checking online email?
  • Maybe the length of time it takes to bring up Gmail?
  • Does typing time count?
  • What's a jiffy?!
  • I'm so confused!

That's just my off-the-cuff process. Many people watch that commercial and respond "Yeah, slow email: bad."

And then they've got you.

But here's a tip: the whole thing is meant to be vague, indirect, and misleading, especially to people who find computers to be a little complicated and confusing.

What's the Harm?

You're going to go to their website and you'll see the giant green button and the word FREE all over the place and OMG you computer's so slow *click* and you're downloading and installing the executable file which will scan your registry. And it will tell you that you have registry errors. Want to fix them?

Oh, that's easy. We just have to discuss the little issue of purchasing the activation for the software so it can fix your computer.

Ah, but you're savvy, so you looked ...all over ...two links? Why won't they tell me how much it is before I scan and then have to buy it?


MyCleanPC.com is shilling for a program called CyberDefender. I don't care if it's the best dang registry scanner in the fracking world: The deliberate misdirection and manipulation of people who very simply may not know better is a SHADY practice and something to be abhorred.

Feel free to contact them to let them know they're shady.

But What Can I DO?

I know. I understand. Your computer is still slow and the most obvious solution on the teevee is actually a potentially dangerous bogeyman. Why not take a look at my post on The FREE Way to Clean & Protect Your Computer. It is completely legit: It highlights truly free programs that I have found work quite well and I get absolutely nothing for telling you about them. This is about making you a more savvy consumer.

That's one down. What scams or shady practices have you run into recently or in the past? Hit me in the comments and don't be afraid of the sidebar - I'm always available in a variety of ways and happy to take the time to chat about your thoughts or questions.

P.S. Depending on the branch of science, jiffy has several definitions as a length of time.