Finding the Path

It’s been a longstanding joke among my friends that my religion is “bad Buddhism.” For quite a while, I have embraced this concept. This is because I am, in fact, a bad Buddhist. I’ll never be a good Buddhist, either. I believe I lack both the commitment and willpower (I REALLY like scotch, and meat, and cussing, after all). But, just because I can’t be a good Buddhist, doesn’t mean I can’t be a better Buddhist. And it seems like maybe that’s something to focus on coming into the new year and beyond. So we’ll try that. After all, that’s part of the Buddhist process in the end – not being perfect on the first shot, but improving upon each pass. Read More

Art Walk – April 2016

So I realized this is a belated posting, as I shot the last art walk a couple months ago and forgot to do a post of the gallery shared here (it’s been on Flickr, of course). Got to play with the PixelStick a little bit this time, and climb some buildings. Good times. Also got to put my new-to-me D700 through its paces, which gave me some extra flexibility to have two bodies at the ready to switch between what I wanted to shoot.

Pittsburg Art Walk - April 2016

Pittsburg’s ArtWalk showcases local talent and downtown businesses. (art, music, food and more!). ArtWalk happens twice in 2016: April and August.

Where is the Perfect eBook Reader?

For quite a while, I’ve wrangled with the challenge of physical books versus eBooks. On one hand, physical books just look nice on a shelf, especially if they are nice books to begin with. Plus, physical books are easy to lend when someone asks me if I have a suggestion on a good book on social media marketing, or content strategy. On the other hand, I can carry thousands of eBooks on my tablet and have them anywhere, any time. As time has gone on, eBooks are slowly winning out more and more for me. Read More

Why We Suffer

This past weekend sucked. It didn’t suck in any new or particularly shocking way. It just sucked in the same old way that we keep going around with. People being shitty, people dying needlessly, and people pointing fingers every direction they can find in hopes of finding comfort. Every time it happens, I think about it, and I usually don’t say much. This time, I want to say something. Read More

Newspapers’ User Experience Failure

For quite a while now, newspapers have been fighting upstream against other news outlets, blogs, and content sources in a battle for readership. Hell, even things like Twitter can be better and faster for getting eyeballs on an issue than mainstream sites. They’ve had many run of the mill issues, like simply lacking aesthetically pleasing designs with good information architecture that invite users in. But then there have been more specific problems like paywalls, popover ads, and interstitials which have been subject of much derision (and savvy users have been capable of working around them since nearly day one). Read More

Shortened URLs with dotCMS

While there are many solutions out there for doing URL shortening, most of them lack one feature that can be really important for a large site (at least without paying a hefty fee) – the ability to control destination URLs. This might not matter to a lot of folks, but can be extremely important if you migrate a site, move pages, or otherwise use those links in a way that would result in them breaking due to other site changes. Read More

The Myth of the Full Stack Developer

Many folks are happy to tell you that full stack developers no longer exist.

They aren’t wrong, but they also aren’t really right, either. Because when it comes to finding one, it all comes down to getting the right skillset for the right job. The trick is bringing one in with the specialty skills you need.
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Art Walk – August 2015

Every other month through the summer and early fall, Pittsburg hosts an art fair downtown. Part of my contribution, as I’m not much of an artist, is to do photography for the event. These are the shots from the August Art Walk. The next one will be the Halloween walk at the end of October. All my Art Walk photos can be found on Flickr under a CC by-nc-sa license.

Pittsburg Art Walk - August 2015

Pittsburg’s ArtWalk showcases local talent and downtown businesses. (art, music, food and more!). ArtWalk happens 4 times a year: April, June, Aug. & Oct.

Manipulating WordPress Canonical URLs

For many people, it’s not necessarily a big deal to move a blog from one domain to another, and losing social sharing metrics as a result (at least when you’re like me, and most shares are single digits, anyway). This commonly happens because the share counts get tied to each unique URL. If that changes, then so does the count. Virtually every social platform, however, allows you to specify the URL that’s used when sharing via special <meta> tags. This whole issue becomes much more important, though, when you’re a company with many hours and lots of marketing dollars vested in social metrics and the value they drive to your business.

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Who are you? Who, who? Who, who?

Seriously, can we talk about this postcard I got in the mail recently? For the sake of the company, I won’t name them here, as I don’t think that’s entirely fair to them. Maybe someone from their business will see this though and take it to heart. Absent that, hopefully you’ll understand my point and never, ever send out a mailer like this.

As a marketing mailer, I’m not sure how many ways it could have failed more. The only piece of information that was on it, aside from my address was the company’s name. In the photo, you can see a fancy picture of a bird. Not pictured is the backside, which is just two more pictures of birds. That’s it. Three pictures of birds, my address, and the company’s name. But so, so many birds.

Aside from omitting their name, I’m note sure what else could have been done wrong. First off, what the hell do birds have to do with your business (answer, nothing, after looking into them)? Second, why am I getting it (I know why, I think, but have no way of confirming that)? Third, what do you expect me to do with this? There’s no information at all on the card about what sort of action I’m supposed to take, or some special promotion going on, or some connection they’re hoping to make. No call to action of any kind. No URLs. No social media information. No phone number. Nothing. The only reason I even bothered to look into the company is because marketing is something I have more than a passing connection to, and I was curious why someone would think this was an acceptable marketing campaign. What’s crazy is that this is actually a marketing firm themselves. Knowing that, and getting this, I would never hire them to run a campaign for me.

<edit>As was pointed out to me, I neglected originally to point out the big black box which implies there’s supposed to be something with it. I saw this, of course, and it only makes it weirder. Why are you mailing something that’s decoupled? Why do you expect the recipient to bother contacting the postmaster over your failed marketing mailer? Why are the pieces able to be separated at all? Why not use that space to give me some information about the campaign you’re pushing, with a link to the missing info? So many more questions are created by this that don’t help the company’s case.</edit>

Things that should have been done:

  • Include a a call to action of some kind. Any kind. Give me some idea why I got this and what you want me to do with it. Pictures of birds is not a message.
  • Toss at least a Twitter handle or something on there. Again, anything that’ll at least maybe get me to follow up with you.
  • Don’t use three pictures of birds to take up 3/4ths of your usable card space. Don’t use three pictures of anything to take up 3/4ths of you card, unless you’re including a message over the top of them. You’re just wasting printing and mailing costs.
  • Trackable URLs are your friend.
  • This is one of three places a QR code is acceptable (the other two being posters, or publications like magazines or newspapers).
  • Don’t rely on your recipient to bother chasing down missing information.

Otherwise, this went straight to the round file. Please don’t ever let your business allow something like this go out the door, especially given the cost overhead involved making, approving, printing, and shipping it. You’re burning your money.