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Category Archives: lodging

Who Needs Money any More? Let’s all Just Barter!

We’re getting so social that currency might just disappear.

You can’t use money any more in Las Vegas.  All of your “winnings” are on your little card.  What is the fun of playing a slot machine that you don’t drop coins into?  Where is the rush of the jackpot when it just adds numbers to your account?  I want to see those quarters rolling down the chute, to fill my plastic tub(s) till they are too heavy to carry, waddle over to the change window and cash out.

This abstraction may seem irrelevant until you consider the current state of our economy.  Much of our local business is being transacted on perceived “credits.”  I have a bad back, and a good knack for marketing.  In exchange for my services building business accounts and profiles on YouTube, FaceBook, LinkedIn and Twitter, I get my back cracked for free.  Being that I have my own business, my insurance doesn’t cover Chiropractic, so it’s a good deal all the way around.  We have set up a website for  his business, optimized social profiles for his business,  and an extensive blog for his business.  It is fun.  There is nothing that gives me more satisfaction than taking someone who is unfamiliar with internet tools and showing them how simple and inexpensive it is to get started creating your own on-line brand.

My boat was in a state of amazing disrepair not too long ago, and is being worked on as we speak.  It kind of ended up being one person helping another, but a friend is doing a bunch of work on it.  It seemed a bit one sided, as the boat is at his house up in Mariposa and I am three and a half hours away.  There was only one thing that came to mind that could be done to reciprocate:  help him promote his business.  It’s not as if entrepreneurs don’t know how to market.  Most of them have had to be pretty good at it to make a living.  The problem is that when you are a sole proprietor/contractor you spend half the time working your craft, and the other half of the time out hustling for more business.  There just aren’t enough hours in the day to do both effectively.  He literally had no time to set up the profiles, re-vamp his website to take advantage of inbound marketing, optimize all of his content to include his keywords, etc.  This is all the stuff that comes really easy to me, and is fun to do so here we are again.

Same boat, different project, there is need of upholstery.  Strange coincidence, there is an upholsterer we know that is in need of all of the above, and doesn’t even have a website.  My boat partner’s wife is a sick graphic designer, I do websites, we smell barter.  There are the perceived “chips” to count; how much would we have charged to set him up with a website and accounts on FaceBook, YouTube, Hotmail, WordPress and Google.com?  How much would he charge to re-upholster the boat?  In the end it looks like it will be close enough that no cash will need to change hands.

I was able to help my good friend and caterer Chef Paul Bataille (Located on the San Francisco Peninsula) http://www.bataillegourmet.com/about-us.php with his business; same set of parameters.  He published a very nice review and recommendation for me in his blog.

In ten minutes it will be time for me to go have lunch with my publisher.  He and I taught LinkedIn, FaceBook, and Twitter together recently at ProMatch.  He is helping me with my business, and I am helping him with his.  No cash changes hands.

It would be nice if there was something we could work out with Starbucks for our lunch, but I’m afraid that they already have a fairly decent marketing department.

I guess there is an argument for paying jobs.  It would be hard to run around town with NO cash at all.

 

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Learning from Others: Finding Influential People When You Are On Your Own

My early years were blessed with always having owned a boat.  These were the frolicking years just after grad school with all the single folks jamming a deserted beach on a far away lake.  Naked waterskiing on a full moonlit night, was followed by running out of gas in the middle of the lake and paddling to shore with a water ski.   Ah, youth.

As the years passed, and children grew the excitement of the boat began to give way to other family responsibilities, and differed maintenance began to accrue.  Time was spent loading the thing with groceries and camping supplies for two weeks in the mountains, feeding 12 kids and 8 adults.  The yearly “tune-up” was accomplished, but little things piled up.  After about 15 years of this, it had come to a point of catharsis.  I was no longer motivated to keep the boat up, the kids were gone, and it seemed to be reasonable to give the thing up and move on.

This is where the power of the pen turned my life around.  In blogging about marketing, it seems to serve well to include a personal story and this was such a time.  Publishing the lament felt as a result of this dilemma yielded an unexpected, but welcomed response.  A good friend read the post and responded with a question as to my willingness to take a partner.

The attraction was immediate, and for a different reason than was later revealed.  It was attractive to have someone else to share the work load, to share in the cost, and to provide some renewed energy towards the project.   What was not yet apparent to me was that this person was my perfect complement.  He has an attention to detail that I don’t exercise.  If asked the proper way to accomplish something it is usually quite simple for me to utter a detailed step-by-step procedure of the correct sequence of activities.  Does this mean that this is the way I would ever proceed?  Hell no!

A good example is the boat trailer.  It has been rusted from salt water, the lights were almost all out, and the surge breaks hadn’t worked in years.  My new partner Scott looked at it and made some comments regarding an obvious course of action.  The wheels needed to be taken off and greased, the wiring repaired, the boat taken off, and the trailer ground, sanded, and sandblasted down to bare metal before priming and re-panting.

Well duh.  I knew that!  Why then was my first conclusion that the most logical course of action was to either buy a new trailer or just scrap the thing?  The most amazing thing happened when we dug into the work.  At first Scott did everything.  Finally the shame was too great and I picked up the wire cutters and pitched in.  Within a couple of hours we were working along side-by-side like the pit crew at an Indy race.  Wheels were coming off, bolts greased, tires changed, new lights installed, road test successful;  all things that I knew how to do, but would never have taken the time to do by myself.

That boat is like a business.  All it took was a fresh perspective to make it feel new again.  If circumstances are such that a “partner” is not the solution, there are alternatives.  I belong to several “success” groups and “Meet-up’s” where we get together with other professionals and share perspectives.  Many ides and disciplines come from these meetings, and they help me not only to see things differently, but to focus on the actions that are agreeably correct, but might not have been my intuitive course of action.  Webinars, podcasts, and YouTube videos are also great sources of educational and inspirational material. I try to schedule at least 2 hours a week in these activities, and then make sure that I document what they taught.

There are several ways to take advantage of the knowledge and inspiration of others.  We don’t have to do this all alone!

 

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Introducing White Space Links

Blame Seth Godin

The challenge of monetizing the web is a tricky one, but a new venture launched right here and right now is out to solve that problem.

It’s called whItespAcelInks.

There’s all this unused white space on the web. Spaces in between paragraphs or links. Wasted.

 

Consumers are tired of being overwhelmed by ads and by pages that are stuffed to the gills with ads. What if the ads were invisible? What if we could insert links into the white spaces, links you didn’t have to see but could still be clicked on? What if those ads were carefully targeted, location-based and mobile?

 

This is even better than permission marketing. It’s invisible marketing.

PLEASE DON’T TELL ANYONE

In one fell swoop (does anything ever happen in two fell swoops?) we can double or triple the ad inventory of any website! And there’s no need for complicated creative, because, after all, the links are invisible.

Some highlights from the funding plan:

  • We will track every user, protecting privacy by never talking about the fact that we’re doing it.
  • We will create persistent browser tools that permit us to generate whItespAcelInks revenue even when you’re not online.
  • There will be no push back from regulators because the links are invisible.
  • Will there be Android? Yes. There will.
  • An iPad app? I can’t believe you even need to ask. In fact, the iPad app will be so appy that people will pay for it by subscription.

 

First round funding, announced today, is $11 million. We wanted to keep it modest and prove ourselves in the marketplace. The biggest challenge for us going forward is that the service only runs one day a year.

HAVE A GOOD APRIL. DON’T TAKE ANYTHING AT FACE VALUE.

 

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History of Cabo San Lucas

Before Cabo San Lucas was known as the tourist town it is today, the beaches were inhabited by a nomadic Guaycura Amerindian group called Pericu. The Pericú were hunters and gatherers; the shores around Cabo made it easy to live off of shellfish, small game and wild plants. There is also evidence that they were skilled weavers and potters as well.

The Cabo coastline remained untouched by European explorers until 1542, when Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, a Spaniard, made the first contact with the Pericu people while exploring the waters of the Pacific for the Spanish monarchy. The Spanish forces remained because of the threat of English pirates in the area. The harbor at Cabo San Lucas continued to be used by pirates until the mid-18th Century as a hiding place after attacks on Manila Galleons (you can see a ship similar to these in the harbor). The pirates also enjoyed the many coves and inlets, perfect places for stashing loot. After pirating became a thing of the past, the port was mostly ignored because of the lack of fresh water available there.

More activity came to the harbor at the end of the 19th Century. Baja-californianos began exporting bark from the local palo blanco tree, to be processed and used in leather tanning. This made Cabo San Lucas a main shipping port. With the increase of nautical traffic, the Faro Viejo lighthouse was built in 1890 by port authorities at the nearby Cabo Falso.

The abundance of tuna in Cabo was discovered in the early 20th Century, and in 1917 an American tuna cannery was moved from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas to take advantage of this new resource. This brought a new population that continued to grow even as the native population dwindled. By the 1930s, a small fishing village had developed to supply the cannery. The harbor was then occupied by about 400 people, all of whom were involved in the canning industry. This remained the driving force of the local economy until 1941, when a hurricane destroyed a large part of the factory. The damage was devastating and Cabo San Lucas was all but abandoned during World War II, when Japanese submarines patrolled the coast.

After the war, leisure travel became a popular activity and Cabo was rediscovered as a game-fish paradise. Word of mouth brought a sport-fishing craze to the cape in the 1950s and 1960s and Cabo became a hot spot for catching prize-winning marlin and other swordfish. During this time, the small village grew in size to about 1500 residents (not including the many seasonal fishermen that were brought in by plane or boat to fish the cape). The slow but steady pace of growth changed in 1973 when the Transpeninsular Highway was completed. This new link by land between the United States and Cabo San Lucas brought even more traffic to the area. The city soon became a popular destination for people traveling by car and recreational vehicle, in addition to those who already came by boat or plane.

Nowadays, the small fishing village has become a bustling tourist attraction. Cabo San Lucas has increased its numbers and now boasts a population of almost 25,000. The majority of people who call this place home make their living from the tourist industry and most of them are recent arrivals seeking work. Many small shops and boutiques line the streets with souvenirs and handcrafted Cabo clothing. Tour guides are ready to show off the spectacular coastline (and the sights under the water too). Affordable boating adventures and tours await those ready to take to the waves and are a sign that Cabo is no longer an exclusive yacht club just for the upper class sports fishermen.

Great fishing is not the only activity that brings people to the southernmost tip of the Baja peninsula. First class golfing attracts sportsmen of a different kind, while the beaches bring legions of sunbathers each year. Scuba diving is also a popular draw for visitors; the beautiful waters are great for watching exotic, colorful marine life.

Despite deep roots in the past, so richly displayed at the Museo de las Californias, Cabo San Lucas has a distinctly modern feel. It is far enough away from home to be a great getaway, without feeling too foreign.

 

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Sacramento; Cesar Chavez, Ronnie and the Dart Board, Willie the Pimp, and the 3 Italians

At the heels of Mario Savio’s “put your bodies upon the gears” address given at Sproul Hall, University of California, Berkeley, I was busily motoring to our state capital for slightly more mundane pursuits.     With my copy of Hunter S. Thompson’s Hell’s Angels: the Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs neatly tucked under my arm, I registered at Draper Hall and sought the nearest newspaper.  It turns out that Sac State had a lovely little publication called the Daily Nexus. Fitting.  As I got to know Sacramento the name changed to the Daily Nauseas and never changed back.

Having been a photographer in high school, it was a matter of formality to assign me the assistant photo-editors position and set me loose to run amok in the State Capital.  It wasn’t long before my position evolved to that of a staff reporter as well.  They sent me to cover and photograph semi (top only) naked lesbian feminists, rock and roll concerts, and most importantly politicians.  We interviewed then Governor Ronald Regan, sitting around lunch at the Capital at a table of about 12.  We have never been able to explain how one of my photographs ended up on the newspaper official dart board with the caption “Ronald Regan: Mad as Hell.  I must admit it wasn’t a very flattering photo.  To think, I would end up voting for him years later for president…

This was an atmosphere rampant with change.  The grape strike had been so successful up in Napa, Cesar Chaves moved through Sacramento on his way to the Salinas Valley to work on lettuce.  It was an “ace” reporters dream; working with him and his people organizing the picketing around Safeway’s, photographing the overturning of boxes of the illicitly picked foul vegetables and the fleeing protestors.  There were even threats of police brutality and other social abuses that whipped us up into a lathered frenzy.  No excuse was too trivial to march on the Capitol, and we thought of hundreds.  I actually remember several of us milling around the newspaper office one fine October Saturday morning discussing exactly what we wanted to protest, who we could convince to do it, and who was going to cover it.  Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  We thought we had all the power until some of the Hispanic protestors we were covering decided that they wanted more than to be covered, and decided to take over the newspaper.  Javier Tafoya and La Causa de la Raza stormed in and  caused such a stink about their rights and our whites that the paper totally lost focus and most of the staff just left rather than participate in the incessant bickering.   It was at that time that my enlightenment came as to the fact that “white” people were not the only people capable of racism. That was a disturbing, but sobering,  thought.

I was eventually given a press pass to the State Assembly floor.  It was cool to be able to come and go as I pleased, ducking behind the benches and looking oh so important while taking photographs of then Speaker of the Assembly Willie “the pimp” Brown.  Willie didn’t ever actually traffic in “dating services” to my knowledge, but his dapper attire ever accentuated by his fine Borcelino hat earned him the moniker none the less.

There were, at the time, three Italians running for the office of mayor of San Francisco, an office Willie the pimp would himself occupy in ensuing years.  Bob Moretti, George Moscone, and Joseph Alioto had all thrown their hats in the ring for the position, and after interviewing Moretti and Moscone, I                                                                was more impressed with George.  If it hadn’t been for those damn Twinkies he might still be with us.  Alas, I was quick to volunteer in his camp offering whatever meager services that might be of help to the campaign.  There were phone calls to be made, dinners and other events to photograph, copy to write, etc.  Having survived the depressing occurrences at the end of the Chavez protests, my liberal zeal was again being fanned into the flames of pure self-righteous immortality until, as providence would have it,  I finally had my chance to interview Joe Alioto.   I had my half hour of patty-cake question and answer and was note-taking diligently when my eyes happened to drift past the eminent attorney to a photograph on his wall.  It was in top center position, and very hard to miss:  Mr. Alioto, Mr. Moretti, and Mr. Moscone.  They were arm-in-arm in a very very friendly embrace – three Pisano’s supposedly in a heated race now bosom buddies!?!  I was crushed.  All my hard work had been for nothing.  Moretti and Moscone mysteriously dropped out of the race a week later and the Alioto legacy was furthered.  Oh he took care of his buddies after he was elected, all right, but for me the luster had forever gone from the political apple.

 

Why Would a “White Bread” Ex-Republican Neo-Moderate Like Me Want So Badly To Go To Montgomery Alabama?

 

It started with the Northern California Folk Rock Festival at the Santa Clara County Fair Grounds in 1968.  This was an event that, for the times, blew Woodstock out of the water.  It was two days of music and love from Country Joe and the Fish, The Animals, Jefferson Airplane, The Doors, Big Brother and the Holding Company featuring Janis Joplin, The Youngbloods, The Electric Flag, Kaleidoscope, Taj Mahal and Ravi Shankar.  There was also an un-announced appearance by a small local band known as The Grateful Dead.  This was my first concert.  I was awestruck by the mixture of love, and music, half naked women, and patchouli oil in the air.  Swept into a “oneness” that would have made the Buddha proud, I found myself wandering through the vendors tent, spinning and whirling in my mind right past the US Army enlistment desk (no joke) to a desk that offered me an alternative to going to Viet Nam to fight an un-seen un-known “enemy” with whom I had no issue.   Although only 16 at the time, I exercised my illegal right and registered with the Peace & Freedom Party (an act that would eventually not escape the personal scrutiny of J. Edgar Hoover himself, nor the ramifications thereof forever effecting my suitability to serve in the armed militia of my country as it chose to hate a particular Indo Chinese group of people who had ostensibly irritated the French enough as to incite us to eventually not declaring war on them as we dropped roughly 5 pounds of bombs on each and every square foot of their land).

Did I mention that I was born in Oakland, at the Kaiser Hospital on Grand Avenue, a poor black child in a white man’s body.  If you have ever seen the Steve Martin movie “The Jerk” I have too.  My dad was quite literally colorblind, a fact that kept him out of WWII much to his chagrin, and I was raised that way too.  I literally had no idea what people were talking about later, that peoples skins were blessed with a greater or lesser amount or tone of melanin.   Of course they were. So what? They had always been.  I’m told I had a black part-time nanny as both of my parents worked.  I was not aware of her blackness until subsequently informed.

At the time that the United States Army wanted to take a closer look at me (my draft lottery number had turned up 17 – the subject of a subsequent blog) I was again summoned to Oakland.  This time it was to the Army Induction Facility.  In my adolescent arrogance and ignorance it was appalling to me that this was indeed not an Army Interviewing and Social Interaction Facility, but that the word INDUCTION was to be taken literally.  If you met their criteria for being fit to travel abroad to burn women and children they put your freeking arse on the bus and carted it off directly to Ft. Ord for basic training.  This was entirely unacceptable and I was sure mother would be quite upset if her baby were to take that minor excursion instead of returning home straight away sans body bag.  I was, however, equipped with a rather damning letter from my Canadian Allergy Doctor ( I shall never forget you Dr. Chardon) extolling in great detail the myriad afflictions of several bouts of pneumonia and asthma that had  rendered my lungs fit for nothing more than keeping my ribs from crashing into my spinal vertebrae.   This, combined with the aforementioned communist affiliation which the Army interrogator was quick to mention as soon as I was officially classified 4F, was enough to have me set on the “group W bench” and marked as unfit.  As my running-mate (thankfully with a much higher draft number) was not similarly dismissed, I was left with the afternoon to kill in downtown Oakland.  With nothing better to do, I settled into the nearest movie theatre to watch the newly released “Super Fly.”  Written around a black pimp/drug dealer, with music by Curtis Mayfield, it felt like home for Oakland.  The fact that I had the only white face in an otherwise packed movie theatre had little or no effect on me, and thankfully no-one else in the place.  I was grooving to the tunes, muttering an occasional “right-on” and generally keeping to myself.  I had a great afternoon, my friend was released and told not to leave the State, and we made it home.  Upon notification of the imminent departure to war that her son had so nearly averted my mother was hysterical.  Upon notification that I had spent the afternoon literally in the middle of roughly 150 urban black folks she merely said “oh, that’s nice dear.”

Next up:   Sacramento and Caesar Chavez, Ronnie and the Dart Board, Willie the Pimp, and the Italians

 

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Let’s Rededicate Ourselves to the Cause of Justice – SPLC Celebrates 40 Years

You’ll get in-depth briefings on SPLC‘s work from our senior staff and special guests. Learn what goes on behind the scenes of our investigations. Watch our award-winning Teaching Tolerance films.

Wall of Tolerance

At the Civil Rights Memorial, designed by Maya Lin, you’ll see the water flow over the 40 names of those who gave their lives in the struggle of equality. The simplicity and power of the Memorial will remind you of how far we’ve come and how far we have to go.

In the Civil Rights Memorial Center, you’ll feel as though you’re standing at the crossroads of history. You’ll see the names of the hundreds of thousands on the Wall of Tolerance who have taken a public stand for racial justice and tolerance. You too can affirm your dedication to the cause by adding your name to the Wall.

The struggle for civil and human rights continues. The SPLC staff and our supporters remain vigilant in our efforts to win equality and justice for victims of hate and others who have no other champion.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Event

Is there a charge?
No, but you must RSVP to the event for admittance.

Where do I stay in Montgomery?
We have a list of available hotels within 10 miles of SPLC. Additional hotel information is available from the Montgomery Visitors Bureau.

How do I get to Montgomery?
Montgomery has a regional airport serviced by Delta, US Airways and American Airlines. You can also fly into the Atlanta airport (153 miles from Montgomery) or the Birmingham, Alabama, airport (97 miles from Montgomery).

When should I arrive?
SPLC anniversary events will take place most of the day on Saturday, April 30. There will be special SPLC and Civil Rights Memorial Center tours and other opportunities to meet SPLC staff on Friday, April 29, and Sunday morning, May 1.

Is transportation provided?
The downtown Montgomery hotels are within walking distance of SPLC. Taxi service and public transportation are limited in Montgomery. Please plan your transportation needs accordingly.

What else can I see in Montgomery?
Montgomery boasts a wealth of historic attractions, and the city’s Visitors Bureau has developed a suggested itinerary for those who wish to explore the Birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement. Additionally, Selma, Alabama, and the Edmund Pettus Bridge – the site of Bloody Sunday – are approximately 45 miles from Montgomery.

Individuals requesting more than five tickets:
If you need more than five tickets, please write your request in the comments section of the RSVP page or call 334-956-8269.

What is the appropriate attire?
The entire weekend will be casual. Average high temperature in April is 78 degrees.



 

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Stocks Plummet on Nuclear Crisis Worries

U.S. stock marketClick the chart for more market data. By Annalyn Censky, staff reporterMarch 15, 2011: 12:53 PM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Four days after a deadly earthquake rocked Japan, fears about a nuclear crisis in the country are hammering financial markets.

Stocks plunged worldwide, with the Dow industrials sinking nearly 300 points shortly after the open Tuesday. Jittery investors flocked to the perceived safety of Treasuries and the U.S. dollar, while commodities fell sharply from their recent highs.

In mid-day trading, the Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) was down 212 points or 1.8%, after falling as much as 297 points earlier. All 30 of the Dow’s components were in the red. The S&P 500 (SPX) fell 22 points, or 1.7%; and the Nasdaq (COMP) dropped 46 points, or 1.7%.

The sharp sell-off follows a 10.6% drop in Japan’s Nikkei index (NKY) earlier in the day. Other Asian markets finished lower Tuesday, with the Shanghai composite losing 1.4%, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index falling 2.9%.

European markets also closed sharply lower. Germany’s DAX dropped 3.4%, while France’s CAC-40 lost 2.3% and Britain’s FT-100 retreated 1.3%.

Markets are still reeling from the staggering human and economic toll from Japan’s 9.0-measure earthquake and subsequent tsunami on Friday, which killed at least 2,475 people. Another 3,000 remain missing.

The earthquake also damaged Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, and subsequent explosions and fires there have only escalated fears about a nuclear crisis in Japan. Over the past two trading days, the Nikkei shed 16.1% — its worst two-day loss since 1987.

The Japanese nuclear plant that exploded is equipped with reactors designed by Dow component General Electric (GE, Fortune 500), its shares fell 2.5% Tuesday.

Insurance companies in the S&P 500 tanked, led by Aflac (AFL, Fortune 500) which tumbled 8.2%. Aflac generated about 75% of its revenue in Japan last year.

Hartford Financial Services Group (HIG, Fortune 500) also fell 4.7%, Prudential (PRU, Fortune 500) dropped 4.1% and MetLife (MET, Fortune 500) fell 4%.

“The U.S. market is pricing in a worst-case scenario with the nuclear situation,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott.

“The concerns about radiation — and what that could mean for loss of life — could make this a more globalized crisis rather than a centralized disaster,” he added.

The Japanese government has taken steps to shore up the nation’s financial system. But investors remain nervous about the short-term outlook for the world’s third-largest economy.

Wall Street’s most widely cited measure of volatility, the VIX (VIX) surged nearly 15%.

Ahead of the opening bell, steep losses in world markets triggered the New York Stock Exchange to invoke Rule 48 — which gives the exchange the right to pause trading in the event of exteme volatility.

NYSE typically invokes the rule several times each year.

Meanwhile, oil prices fell 2% as investors pulled back after its recent run, and gold prices fell 2%.

The dollar rose versus the euro and the British pound, but fell slightly against the yen. Like the U.S. dollar, the yen is also considered a safe-haven asset in times of economic uncertainty.

The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury rose as investors sought the safety of government debt, pushing the yield down to 3.29% from 3.35% late Monday.

Amid the volatility Tuesday, investors will also watch for the U.S. Federal Reserve‘s policy statement in the afternoon.

The central bank’s Federal Open Market Committee is not expected to discuss any changes to interest rates or its asset purchase program. To top of page

 

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If You Have Had Trouble Accessing a WordPress Blog…

Alexia Tsotsis Mar 3, 2011

You have no idea how hard it was to get this post up, as WordPress.com, our blog host, is currently under a denial of service attack. It’s been almost impossible to access the TechCrunch backend for the past 10 minutes (everything seems to be stable now) and users have been receiving a “Writes to the service have been disabled, we will be bringing everything back online ASAP” error message.

From the VIP blog post:

WordPress.com is currently being targeted by a extremely large Distributed Denial of Service attack which is affecting connectivity in some cases. The size of the attack is multiple Gigabits per second and tens of millions of packets per second.

We are working to mitigate the attack, but because of the extreme size, it is proving rather difficult. At this time, everything should be back to normal as the attack has subsided, but we are actively working with our upstream providers on measures to prevent such attacks from affecting connectivity going forward.

We will be making our VIP sites a priority in this endeavor, and as always, you can contact us via xxxxx@wordpress.com for the latest update. We will also update this post with more information as it becomes available

WordPress did not mention the origin of the attack (DDoS =! Anonymous) and I have contacted founder Matt Mullenweg for more information. WordPress.com currently serves 30 million publishers, including VIPs TED, CBS and TechCrunch, and is responsible for 10% of all websites in the world. WordPress.com itself sees about 300 million unique visits monthly.

Update: Automattic and WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg tells us that this is the largest attack WordPress.com has ever seen, and is likely to be politically motivated:

“There’s an ongoing DDoS attack that was large enough to impact all three of our datacenters in Chicago, San Antonio, and Dallas — it’s currently been neutralized but it’s possible it could flare up again later, which we’re taking proactive steps to implement.

This is the largest and most sustained attack we’ve seen in our 6 year history. We suspect it may have been politically motivated against one of our non-English blogs but we’re still investigating and have no definitive evidence yet.”

You can check here for the latest status updates.

Image via: blogohblog

Update 2: Looks like everything’s back to normal.

 

You Catch More Flies with Honey: The Coming Content Revolution

Is that saying, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar” complete BS?  It may seem on the surface that people who treat people badly seem to have anti-karma.  We can all think of examples of actors or business tycoons who have had amazing financial success and notoriety, seemingly at the expense of others. An argument can be made as to whether someone who treats others miserably is actually very happy themselves, but that is subjective and up to them and their eventual eternity.

There are examples in internet marketing of “black” techniques that work and work well, for a while.  An SEO ranking built on bought links, spam email raids, keyword stuffing and the likes that worked 10 years ago would probably be banned from Adwords today.  Point and shoot tactics work better than shotgun marketing but more and more segmentation is creeping into every campaign and it is finally boiling down to “content is king.”  This not farmed content shipped in at a dollar a page from Bangladesh, but real relevant content generated by hand by the people who care about what they are doing and what they are writing.

I don’t think we can badger anyone into doing anything anymore.  I was reminded of a story from my youth that relates to my own kids (and business) now.  Returning home from College to visit mom and dad got less and less frequent as my schedule grew and my ties with the parental structure became less important in my life. Rather than trying to either learn how to let go, or how to become more relevant again, my parents started to try to put the pressure on.  The reaction to a phone call  from college would literally be “how come you never call?”  Dinner table conversations would devolve into bitch sessions about my inattentiveness and how poorly I treated my parents.  The end result;  I  really didn’t want anything to do with them after a while.  I loved them, but there was no nurturing.

I have tried to take this lesson to heart with my own children, and therefore customers.  When my kids forget a birthday or holiday or I don’t see them for a summer it reflects on their schedule and my own karma.  What do I have to offer them ?  When we get together are we doing something new and stimulating and relevant to them, or just sitting around eating and drinking? Am I putting conditions on our time together?  Is there a feeling of quid-pro-quo in the relationship? Are they feeling a sense of obligation to hang around with us?   If the answer to any, or in some cases many, of these questions is affirmative we need to take a look at the end result.  By self-seeking short term gains, we can be causing resentment and opening ourselves up to be replaced by the next available option.  I eventually used to do ANYTHING other than drive home from school.

Your customers will do the same thing.  In today’s market f you are putting the “squeeze” on your customers your karma will eventually catch up with you.  There used to be monopolies in credit card companies, airlines, even power companies.  None of that is true anymore.  The old axiom of “If you don’t serve your customers, someone else will” has never been truer.  Even in the more traditional businesses competition has grown and re-grown to a point that it just doesn’t make sense.  For every smaller boutique company that gets swallowed up by a “giant” three more emerge.

Look at the airline industry.  We have seen consolidations of a magnitude unimaginable in the 60’s.  Whether through failures or buy-outs and mergers, two thirds of the brands I grew up with no longer exist.  The beauty is that for every Continental-United merger there have been a new Southwest, Virgin, or JetBlue.

America has always been the land of the entrepreneur and that will not soon change.  We have the spirit, the opportunity, and the means.  The digital age is no different.  If you are bullying your customers or extorting them for your service, technical support, or content, the time will come that someone else will provide all of this openly and freely.

There about thirty “meet-up” groups, twenty or so webinars and at least a two dozen white papers and free”e-books” that cross my desk weekly.  It causes me to filter huge amounts of information and hundreds of offers.  These offers range from the blatant unabashed “look at how we do this and buy from us” to the more subtle “we’ll give you this in exchange for your contact information.”

One webinar I watched last week had a really fresh and nurturing approach.  “We will give you all of this content free.”  There was no contact information form.  They didn’t even ask for an email address, the premise being that if the content was good enough (and It was) that you would WANT to be with them.  You would seek out their company and contact them.

Just like I pushed back as a kid when someone tried to make me guilty, or extort my attention, people are getting absolutely saturated with conditional offers.  Instead of “fill out this page and we will tell you part of what we know about…” consider the following:

“We have enough respect for you, and confidence in ourselves that we want you to have this information.  We are not asking for anything in return. We sincerely hope that it is helpful to you and your business.  If you find it valuable we are confident that you will remember where it came from.”

 

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