The Digital Industry Is Going On A Diet

Sean Parker

I recently got word that one of the tech startups we repped decided to close its doors because it still had no income after a few years of existence. Investors got tired of writing monthly checks, even though they felt the founder was a genius and his proprietary software was one-of-a kind. I am keeping the name of company silent, because some of the strategic partners have not been notified yet.

Interestingly enough, Sean Parker, the guy who told Mark Zuckerberg not to call Facebook “The Facebook,” has also decided not to dump endless money into his own four-month-old startup, instead cutting staff and tweaking its software. That’s an unusual move for such a young company in this business.

If anyone knows how to build a company, Parker (played by Justin Timberlake in The Social Network) certainly knows what he is doing, having become a billionaire a few times over from Napster, Plaxo, Causes, Spotify, Votizen, and Facebook. His recent venture, Airtime, a new type of video chat, was launched with much fanfare over the summer, so the decision to slow it down a bit came as a surprise to many.

I think the digital industry is going through the growing pains it probably should have experienced a few years ago. Nothing like a Presidential election to wake people up. Many re-evaluate their portfolios because they are not sure what changes may take place in the economy regardless of which candidate is elected. It is now time for reflection, new decisions and financial housekeeping.

We are going to see more and more of the money people start to give the geniuses deadlines. I’ve always wondered about that. We worked for so many companies over the years where the founders/inventors thought they were going to get funded forever. They never addressed time commitments and goals. It was always about making them look good during their journey of glory.

It used to be so cool to tell others at a dinner party that you were an angel investor in some genius startup. Today, I think a lot of people look at you and murmur “sucker” under their breath.

For purposes of disclosure, Eliot and I got suckered in a few times. Thank goodness for the ones that made some money and for our day job.

A Bluetooth For Healthy Teeth


Do you remember the catchphrase, “Where’s The Beef?” It originated with the fast food chain Wendy’s, but quickly caught on as a trendy one-liner for every substance question pertaining to an idea, product, or event. Everyone, regardless of age, used that expression non-stop.

There’s a new catchphrase being bounced around that you might hear soon. “Does your toothbrush have an app?” The slogan was developed by the inventors of the Beam Brush from Beam Technologies.

Watch the video here that asks the question

They hope their slogan will go viral so that everyone will soon know about their invention. It is the first toothbrush with a wireless Bluetooth sensor embedded in the upper part of the brush that tracks your dental hygiene activity. The information syncs to the app (both Android and Apple) which will automatically give you a total picture of your brushing habits. The information can be emailed to your dentist.

Alex Frommeyer, cofounder of Beam Technologies, said the biggest revelation in all of this, is that most people only brush their teeth for 46 seconds. A good cleaning, according to Beam, is two minutes. In fact, the Beam Brush plays two minutes of music while you brush, so you know when to stop.

The Beam Brush is available in blue or pink with adult or kid-sized brush heads. Pre-orders for the brush cost $35. When it launches in November, the price goes up to $50.


Nothing Ailes Me


I read this morning that Roger Ailes, chairman of Fox News, just signed on for another four years. He is 72 years old.

What makes some people want to retire at 65 and others when they are too sick or dead? In Roger’s case it must be totally ego, not that his $21 million a year compensation shouldn’t be taken into consideration. Or how about the fact that there is no heir apparent in the Rupert Murdoch family. Hmmm!

I met Roger over 25 years ago when he was between TV and political gigs. He didn’t know what he was going to do with his career, so he called in three PR experts for their advice. I was one of the three. Why? I have no idea. I certainly didn’t have the brass I have today, and my opinions and convictions were not that strong.

The three so-called experts met with him separately. I remember mine so vividly. We met at his Ailes Communications office at 7am. When I entered those premises for the first time, I became fixated on two things: the tower of bagels that sat before him and the giant red telephone that kept ringing all during our meeting.

I was starving. I was dying for him to take one so I could dive in. He didn’t, so I refrained.

The first call he answered was from Nixon. He was counseling him on who to speak to at dinner that night, what the topic should be discussed, and what his remarks should be. It didn’t matter that I was in the room. He let me hear everything.

He had similar conversations with Bush senior and Ronnie. I just politely sat there. This was way before cell phones and the Internet. All I could do was stare into space.

Between phone calls, Ailes asked me several questions. 1-Should he go back into TV or pursue his counsel in politics? 2-Would he be a good CEO in the corporate world? 3-Which publications or TV shows would be best to appear on considering his aspirations.

At the time, I was not that opinionated. I was so concerned about giving him the right answers. He talked and talked until it dawned on me that he wasn’t really asking me anything at all. I was a stage prop. He knew what he wanted and Ailes was just talking out loud.

When he completely exhausted his discussion, he thanked me profusely for my time and complimented me on my sincerity. It was anti-climatic for me, but he sure had a good time hearing himself talk.

I should have had a bagel.


No Hiding Your Emotions



One of the next big things in computer software will be monitoring people’s emotions. Software is being developed around the world that will tell us what other people are thinking. It’s called “affective computing.” It gives computers the ability to read users’ emotions, or “affect.”

“Affecting computing” is going to change our lives. It might not be for the better, but it certainly will make us aware if someone is really listening to us. I watch other people talking to each other all the time and I can spot the disinterested person.

The software is going to be built into glasses, pins, badges, necklaces, neckties, or any item that is visible. Everyone will be using it.

It could turn out to be dangerous. People will now know if they are boring someone and that could ruin relationships.

Personally, I would love to use this technology in the next big company meeting I attend. Most of them bore me to death. I go into my own zone. I look around the room trying to interpret what each person is thinking.

I love playing that game by myself. The person making the presentation is so wrapped up in the topic, he or she fails to see what is actually going on in the room.

I have been to countless meetings over several decades. The scenario is always the same. One guy at the conference room table is thinking about the baseball game that night, another is thinking about what he is going to eat for dinner, and the next guy, well his eyes are closed. If I could have a dollar for each time someone snoozed during a meeting, I would be rich.

Can you imagine using “affective computing” on a date? All of a sudden you see a sign that says the person is just not into you. My response would be, “Sorry, but I am leaving now. I would rather be home watching TV.”

Now that I think about it, this new developing software could be kind of scary.


This Is Dr. X, You’re Having An Emergency


There will be a day in the not-too-distant future that your doctor will call you to let you know that you are not feeling well. Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google, mentioned this possibility last week at the 92nd Street Y, when he was telling the audience all of the things Google was working on.

He didn’t say this was going to be a Google-only project, but he did indicate that his company was researching the sensor part of it. Schmidt said that we will all be taking digital pills with indicators and markers. The pill sensors will be monitored by your doctor on an automated alarm system.

If your blood pressure goes up, one beep. If your sugar levels are rising, two beeps. If you’re having a heart attack, three beeps. If your private parts are not working, the doctor sends life support.

All kidding aside, Schmidt said the medical industry is aware of this progress and is anxious for it to happen. “They want more control over their patients. Millions of lives will be saved because early warning signs will help them make better judgement calls. They can act faster and more timely.”

While a lot of what Schmidt had to say seemed like science fiction, I believed every word if it. Just when I thought I’ve heard it all, he told us other mind-blowing stuff that was also reported in the NY Times.

Click here to read it.


Facebook Has Become A Political War Zone


If you are not a Facebook user, wait until after the Presidential election is over to become a member. That is if you are considering it. The social media site has turned into a soap box for vicious, political grandstanding.

One gal I know named Marcia is using her news feed as a whipping stick for every crappy thing that has ever happened to her. Her remarks about the current administration are so slanderous that I wonder where she plans to live if her team doesn’t make it.

Then there is Frank, the ultimate liberal, who keeps talking to Romney as if he is standing in the room with him. He reminds me of Robert De Niro from the movie “Taxi Driver.” “Are you talking to me, Mitt? Are you talking to me?”

Formerly “so-called” nice people have transformed themselves into hostile, hot heads, who will say anything that comes to mind, just to be heard. Everyone is out of control.

There is no limit to what folks will say and do on Facebook. The one that unnerved me the most recently was one from an executive from the Consumer Electronics Show. He placed a poster of the two leads from the TV series “Fantasy Island” on his page, but replaced the heads with Obama and Biden.

I thought it was totally inappropriate for an association person to take political sides. I publicly scolded him. He then sent me a private message. “Lois, I’ve always liked you, but if you have an issue with me, I would appreciate a one-on-one conversation. This is my personal page and has nothing to do with CES.”

All of a sudden I was the bad guy. I never answered him because I felt he was out of line and apparently he knew it. The poster was deleted.

See what USA Today has to say on this subject. Click here.

Urban Mobility Is About To Take Off

This is the card reader that you check in with when you want to enter car2go and say goodbye when you want to leave


So there I was, minding my own business having dinner with friends the other night in Miami, when the Greenberg brothers, Howard and Steve, started to hock me about car2go, a new hassle-free way of getting around town without the cost of car ownership. I wasn’t interested. “Let me eat my dinner,” I mumbled under my breath. They were so excited about this new concept that is arriving in cities all over the world that they wouldn’t stop talking about it. “It’s perfect for DigiDame,” insisted Howard. “The concept just makes sense,” added Steve.

I looked into it this morning and they are right. The concept of jumping into a car located steps away from your front door whenever you need one, paying only for the time in use, and leaving it in an appropriate parking spot when you are done, is very appealing. You just leave the car, you don’t pay. It is going to save us a lot of money and is good for the environment. Be careful however, that you park the car in a legal spot.

Just think of the convenience. You no longer have to pay for gas, insurance, leases, repairs and monthly garage rates. Whew, just think of the money you are going to save. There is a very small registration fee, around $10.00. and you become part of the system. Here is where the wiz bang digital fun begins. “You walk up to the distinctive blue-and-white car2go, press and hold your membership card to the car reader on the windshield, check it over and go. Your credit card will only be billed for the amount of time you use the car. Most cities are 38 cents per minute, $13.99 per hour, $72.99 per day and then special out-of-state rates. Car2go takes care of refueling, cleaning, and other services.

Now that I have told you about it, you are going to see car2go everywhere. That is exactly what happened to me.

I know that many readers are now saying that their automobiles are like family members. They are not going to give them up. I feel the same way. But there comes a day when the kids grow up, go off to school, get married and never return home. The pets move on to the great afterlife. You finish mourning and then you get the sense of liberation. Costly possessions take on a whole new meaning.

Make sure you make note of car2go. You never thought you would be reading a book on an electronic device, make phone calls on a mobile telephone or talk face-to-face with people across the ocean from the computer in your living room. This is the next step too.

A Gay Facebook Debacle

The Wall Street Journal did an article a few days ago about privacy on Facebook. A couple of gay people complained that they were “outed” on Facebook because friends inadvertently exposed their sexuality. They were keeping their sexual orientation a secret from immediate family members for personal reasons.

I posted the Wall Street Journal story below because unless you are a paid subscriber you can’t access it. It is important that you read it so you understand that we are living in an age where Big Brother is watching you. There is no such thing as “I shouldn’t have to think about every move I make” or “There should be a law that doesn’t allow……”

If you continue to believe that there is a way around the new technologies in place that track your every move, you too will fall victim. It happened to me three years ago this December and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of the blemish that will live with me forever. Do not make the mistake to think that just because you are not on a social media platform or don’t have a smartphone you are not being watched. Every street has a video recorder and every credit card company is tracking your existence.

I feel very sorry for the Facebook users who tried to hide their sexual identity. However, you can’t join a group named the Queer Chorus and not expect someone to identify you as one of their members. It was bound to happen, on or off a social network. This reminds me of cheating spouses who are more upset about getting caught then the act of cheating.

If you have something to hide, hide it. Don’t blame Facebook. Take responsibility for your own actions. For those who use Facebook’s privacy tools, let me remind you that there are no guarantees that the technology works all the time. Your TV breaks, your car breaks down, and Facebook has its “shit happens” issues.

I asked a few gay friends to review my thoughts. They were in complete agreement. They said this is not the fault of Facebook. “There is no such thing as privacy when it comes to technology. Trust no one.”

Here is the Wall Street Journal story:

AUSTIN, Texas—Bobbi Duncan desperately wanted her father not to know she is lesbian. Facebook told him anyway.

One evening last fall, the president of the Queer Chorus, a choir group she had recently joined, inadvertently exposed Ms. Duncan’s sexuality to her nearly 200 Facebook friends, including her father, by adding her to a Facebook Inc. discussion group. That night, Ms. Duncan’s father left vitriolic messages on her phone, demanding she renounce same-sex relationships, she says, and threatening to sever family ties.

The 22-year-old cried all night on a friend’s couch. “I felt like someone had hit me in the stomach with a bat,” she says.

Then she learned that another choir member, Taylor McCormick, had been outed the very same way, upsetting his world as well.

The president of the chorus, a student organization at the University of Texas campus here, had added Ms. Duncan and Mr. McCormick to the choir’s Facebook group. The president didn’t know the software would automatically tell their Facebook friends that they were now members of the chorus.

The two students were casualties of a privacy loophole on Facebook—the fact that anyone can be added to a group by a friend without their approval. As a result, the two lost control over their secrets, even though both were sophisticated users who had attempted to use Facebook’s privacy settings to shield some of their activities from their parents. “Our hearts go out to these young people,” says Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes. “Their unfortunate experience reminds us that we must continue our work to empower and educate users about our robust privacy controls.”

In the era of social networks like Facebook and Google Inc.’s Google+, companies that catalog people’s activities for a profit routinely share, store and broadcast everyday details of people’s lives. This creates a challenge for individuals navigating the personal-data economy: how to keep anything private in an era when it is difficult to predict where your information will end up.

Many people have been stung by accidentally revealing secrets online that were easier kept in the past. In Quebec, Canada, in 2009, Nathalie Blanchard lost her disability-insurance benefits for depression after she posted photos on Facebook showing her having fun at the beach and at a nightclub with male exotic dancers. After seeing the photos, her insurer, Manulife Financial, hired a private investigator and asked a doctor to re-evaluate her diagnosis, according to Ms. Blanchard’s lawyer.

Ms. Blanchard didn’t realize her photos were visible to the public, according to the lawyer, who added that depressed people often try to disguise their illness to family and friends. Ms. Blanchard sued to have her benefits reinstated. The matter was settled out of court.

A Manulife spokeswoman declined to discuss the case, saying “we would not deny or terminate a valid claim solely based on information published on websites such as Facebook.” Losing control online is more than a technology problem—it’s a sociological turning point. For much of human history, personal information spread slowly, person-to-person if at all.

The Facebook era, however, makes it possible to disclose private matters to wide populations, intentionally or not. Personal worlds that previously could be partitioned—work, family, friendships, matters of sexuality—become harder to keep apart. One solution, staying off Facebook, has become harder to do as it reaches a billion people around the world.

Facebook is committed to the principle of one identity for its users. It has shut down accounts of people who use pseudonyms and multiple accounts, including those of dissidents and protesters in China and Egypt. The company says its commitment to “real names” makes the site safer for users. It is also at the core of the service they sell to advertisers, namely, access to the real you

Closeted gays and lesbians face particular challenges in controlling their images online, given that friends, family and enemies have the ability to expose them.

In Austin, Ms. Duncan and Mr. McCormick, 21, deliberately tried to stay in the closet with their parents, even as they stepped out on campus. Ms. Duncan’s parents home-schooled her and raised her in Newton, N.C., where the family attended a fundamentalist church. Now a linguistics student, she told her best friend in the summer of 2011 that she might be gay.

As she struggled with her sexuality, she adjusted her Facebook privacy settings to hide any hint of it from her father, whom she had helped sign up for Facebook. “Once I had my Facebook settings set, I knew—or thought I knew—there wasn’t any problem,” she says.
Mr. McCormick, studying to become a pharmacist, came out in July 2011 to his mother in his hometown of Blanco, Texas, but not to his father, whom Mr. McCormick describes as a member of a conservative church that teaches homosexuality is sin.

He set Facebook controls for what he calls a “privacy lockdown” on posts that his father, in San Antonio, could see. “We have the one big secret when we’re young,” he says. “I knew not everyone was going to be accepting.”

UT Austin was more accepting. As many university campuses have for years, it offered a safe space for young people to come out without parents knowing. Last fall, Ms. Duncan and Mr. McCormick attended the first rehearsal for the Queer Chorus, a group for gay, lesbian and transgender students and their allies.

“This is a great place to find yourself as a queer person,” says the chorus’s then-president, Christopher Acosta. The group is known for renditions of pop songs in which it sometimes changes the gender of pronouns. Ms. Duncan agreed to play piano and sing alto. Mr. McCormick, who has a slight frame, surprised the chorus with his deep bass.

At the rehearsal, on Sept. 8, Mr. Acosta asked if any members weren’t on the chorus’s Facebook group, where rehearsals would be planned. Mr. McCormick and Ms. Duncan said they weren’t.

When Joining a ‘Group’ Reveals Too Much

How Facebook Shares Users’ Memberships With Their Friends Online Someone creates a ‘group’ on Facebook around a shared interest or activity. If the group’s creator sets it to be ‘open,’ other Facebook users can see its activities. The creator has the ability to add his or her Facebook friends to the group.

Getting added generates a notice that can appear on their friends’ Facebook pages—alerting others to their membership. People added to a group this way have the option to leave, but are first added by default.

That night, Mr. Acosta turned on his MacBook Pro and added the two new members to the chorus Facebook group. Facebook, then and now, offers three options for this sort of group: “secret” (membership and discussions hidden to nonmembers), “closed” (anybody can see the group and its members, but only members see posts), and “open” (membership and content both public).

Mr. Acosta had chosen open. “I was so gung-ho about the chorus being unashamedly loud and proud,” he says. But there was a trade-off he says he didn’t know about. When he added Ms. Duncan, which didn’t require her prior online consent, Facebook posted a note to her all friends, including her father, telling them that she had joined the Queer Chorus. When Mr. Acosta pushed the button, Facebook allowed him to override the intent of the individual privacy settings Ms. Duncan and Mr. McCormick had used to hide posts from their fathers. Facebook’s online help center explains that open groups, as well as closed groups, are visible to the public and will publish notification to users’ friends. But Facebook doesn’t allow users to approve before a friend adds them to a group, or to hide their addition from friends.

After being contacted by The Wall Street Journal, Facebook adjusted the language in its online Help Center to explain situations, like the one that arose with Queer Chorus, in which friends can see that people have joined groups. Facebook also added a link to this new explanation directly from the screen where users create groups. “I was figuring out the rules by trial and error,” says Mr. Acosta.

A few hours later, Ms. Duncan’s father began leaving her angry voice mails, according to Ms. Duncan and a friend who was present.
“I remember I was miserable and said, Facebook decided to tell my dad that I was gay.” Bobbi Duncan “No no no no no no no,” Ms. Duncan recalls telling a friend. “I have him hidden from my updates, but he saw this,” she said. “He saw it.”

Ms. Duncan’s father didn’t respond to requests for comment for this article.

Her father called repeatedly that night, she says, and when they spoke, he threatened to stop paying her car insurance. He told her to go on Facebook and renounce the chorus and gay lifestyles.

On his Facebook page, he wrote two days later: “To all you queers. Go back to your holes and wait for GOD,” according to text provided by Ms. Duncan. “Hell awaits you pervert. Good luck singing there.” Ms. Duncan says she fell into depression for weeks. “I couldn’t function,” she says. “I would be in class and not hear a word anyone was saying.”

Mr. McCormick’s mother phoned him the night his name joined the Queer Chorus group. “She said, ‘S—has hit the fan…Your dad has found out.’ I asked how,” Mr. McCormick recalled, “and she said it was all over Facebook.” His father didn’t talk to his son for three weeks, the younger Mr. McCormick says. “He just dropped off the face of my earth.”

Mr. McCormick’s father declined to participate in this article. Privacy critics including the American Civil Liberties Union say Facebook has slowly shifted the defaults on its software to reveal more information about people to the public and to Facebook’s corporate partners.

“Users are often unaware of the extent to which their information is available,” says Chris Conley, technology and civil-liberties attorney at the ACLU of Northern California. “And if sensitive info is released, it is often impossible to put the cat back in the bag.”
Facebook executives say that they have added increasingly more privacy controls, because that encourages people to share. “It is all about making it easier to share with exactly who you want and never be surprised about who sees something,” said Chris Cox, Facebook’s vice president of product, in an interview in August 2011 as the site unveiled new privacy controls. Facebook declined to make Mr. Cox available for this article.

Still, privacy advocates say control loopholes remain where friends can disclose information about other users. Facebook users, for example, can’t take down photos of them posted by others. Enlarge Image [Not sure how this cut-&-paste will appear on the blog, but if it will be this version, you may want to delete this line. Also add paragraph breaks above.]

A greater concern, they say, is that many people don’t know how to use Facebook’s privacy controls. A survey conducted in the spring of 2011 for the Pew Research Center found that U.S. social-network users were becoming more active in controlling their online identities by taking steps like deleting comments posted by others. Still, about half reported some difficulty in managing privacy controls.

This past September, the National Football League pulled referee Brian Stropolo from a game between the New Orleans Saints and the Carolina Panthers after ESPN found a photo of Mr. Stropolo wearing a Saints jacket and cap that he had posted on Facebook.

It remains unclear whether the photo was intended to be public or private.

An NFL spokesman said, “I don’t believe you will see him back on the field.” The NFL declined to make Mr. Stropolo available.

Privacy researchers say that increasing privacy settings may actually produce what they call an “illusion of control” for social-network users. In a series of experiments in 2010, Carnegie Mellon University Associate Professor Alessandro Acquisti found that offering people more privacy settings generated “some form of overconfidence that, paradoxically, makes people overshare more,” he says.

Allison Palmer, vice president of campaigns and programs at the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, says her organization is helping Facebook to develop resources for gay users to help them understand how best to maintain safety and privacy on the site.

“Facebook is one of the few tech companies to make this a priority,” she says.

Mr. Acosta, the choir president, says he should have been sensitive to the risk of online outings. His parents learned he was gay when, in high school, he sent an email saying so that accidentally landed in his father’s in-box.

Today, he says, his parents accept his sexuality. So before creating his Facebook group, he didn’t think about the likelihood of less-accepting parents on Facebook.

“I didn’t put myself in that mind-set,” he says. “I do take some responsibility.”

Some young gay people do, in fact, choose Facebook as a forum for their official comings-out, when they change their Facebook settings to publicly say, “Interested In: Men” or “Interested In: Women.” For many young Americans, sexuality can be confidential but no longer a shameful subject. Sites like Facebook give them an opportunity to claim their sexuality and find community.

For gays, social media “offers both resources and risks,” says C.J. Pascoe, a Colorado College sociology professor who studies the role of new media in teen sexuality. “In a physical space, you can be in charge of the audiences around you. But in an online space, you have to be prepared for the reality that, at any given moment, they could converge without your control.”

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has long posited that the capability to share information will change how we groom our identities. “The days of you having a different image for your work friends or co-workers and for the other people you know are probably coming to an end pretty quickly,” he said in an interview for David Kirkpatrick’s 2010 book, “The Facebook Effect.” Facebook users have “one identity,” he said. Facebook declined to make Mr. Zuckerberg available.

Days after their outings, Ms. Duncan and Mr. McCormick met at the campus gender-and-sexuality center, which provides counseling. On a couch, they swapped tales. “I remember I was miserable and said, ‘Facebook decided to tell my dad that I was gay,’ ” she says. “He looked at me and said, ‘Oh really, you too?'”

Mr. McCormick’s mother, Monica McCormick, meanwhile, was worried how the Facebook disclosure might affect her business selling insurance. “Every kid in this town now knows,” she says. “I am sure that I have lost clients, but they are not going to tell you why. That is living in a small town.”

Mr. McCormick and his father eventually talked about his sexuality over an awkward lunch at a burger joint and haven’t discussed it much since. But Mr. McCormick feels more open and proud about his sexuality. He changed his Facebook profile to “Interested In: Men.”

After Ms. Duncan’s Sept. 8 outing, she went through long periods of not speaking with her father. For a while, Ms. Duncan’s mother moved into her daughter’s apartment with her. “I wanted to be with her,” says her mother, who is also named Bobbi. “This was something that I thought her father had crossed the line over, and I could not agree with him.”

Speaking of Mr. Duncan, she says: “The big deal for him was that it was posted and that all his friends and all his family saw it.”

The younger Ms. Duncan says she tried to build bridges with her father around the year-end holidays. But the arguments persisted.

“I finally realized I don’t need this problem in my life anymore,” she says. “I don’t think he is evil, he is just incredibly misguided.”

She stopped returning her dad’s calls in May.

She and Mr. McCormick remain in the chorus. Mr. Acosta changed the Facebook group to “secret” and the chorus established online-privacy guidelines. Today, Ms. Duncan has her first girlfriend. “I am in a really good place,” she says, but wouldn’t want anybody to have her experience. “I blame Facebook,” she says. “It shouldn’t be somebody else’s choice what people see of me.”

Did You Miss Me? I Was Planning A Wedding





After 200 daily posts, I missed a day yesterday because I forgot to “publish.” I wrote a piece about the Wall Street Journal’s expose’ on Facebook but I didn’t published it because I wanted to proof it one more time. I got so involved with a party Eliot and I hosted last night, that I forgot to check in on WordPress. By the time I remembered, it was past midnight, the time when WordPress takes all of the blog posts for the day and starts blasting them to subscribers.

The topic I wrote about is a very sensitive one, so I wanted to read it a few times. I will publish it on Monday.

Today is all about celebration. Last night Eliot and I hosted a “Freedom To Marry” party at our Miami condo. Jeff Ronci and Juan Talavera, produced, organized, and directed the entire event.

“Freedom To Marry” is all about same sex marriage. Approximately 80 people showed up. Steve Rothaus, the outstanding Gay Issues Writer from the Miami Herald, attended and covered the event. Click here to read it.

Good Morning America’s Sam Champion, and his fiancé, Miami fine-arts photographer, Rubem Robierb, also showed. There is a good chance that Sam and Rubem will use the newly-produced song “Any Once Upon A Time,” at their wedding. Ron Abel and Chuck Steffan debuted the song last night to a cheering crowd.

Other notables in attendance were: Miami International Film Festival executive director Jaie Laplante, South Miami Mayor Philip K. Stoddard, and “Freedom to Marry” Federal Director Jo Ellen Deutsch, who grew up in Miami-Dade County. Her parents were there as well.

Steve recaps the story better than I did so read it here:

To find out more about Freedom to Marry, visit or
click here.

Please click here to hear Any Once Upon A Time

c. Abel/Steffan Music

Music by Ron Abel

Lyric by Chuck Steffan

Sung by Von Smith





























Is There an App for my Heartburn?

Did you see the story in the New York Times this morning about how difficult it is for software App developers to make a living? Here is the link. When I read this story I just wanted to weep. The technology business moves so fast that one day you’re a hero, the next day you’re an unknown. You go from the highest of the high, to the lowest of low.

It is sort of like the entertainment business. I am fascinated by people who have such a passion for the arts that they are willing to starve their entire life for the one chance of making it big. The same thing happens in the App business. Everyone who felt that they had the million dollar idea left their day jobs, cashed in their investments to float them for awhile, and begged others to chip in as well.

Before I go any further, I am not saying this is the scenario for every developer, but it certainly is for the majority of the 600,000 apps that are available today. Most of the app creators started out with an idea, immediately developed it and never really researched the market potential. They also have no money for marketing, so it just resides in the App Store with little to no exposure.

The part that hurts the most, is that developing Apps today has become the so-called excuse for not doing something more substantial or more productive. I can’t begin to tell you how many people I meet at cocktail parties or other events who tell me they are busy developing an App, when I know they are basically using that line instead of saying they are out of work. I know too many friends who are still supporting their adult children because they supposedly got stung by the entrepreneur bug and want to develop an App. That really is a euphemism for “I am taking some time off from the real working world to screw around.”

I don’t know how it happens, but I often get asked to review the App concept by the grandparents, parents, friends or lovers. More times than not, the idea person can’t even articulate what the App is all about. They talk in circles and never get to the point. Then when you ask to see the business plan, they look at you like you’re asking them to recite the Gettysburg address. They don’t want to bother putting a document together because the “smart” investors will recognize their genius and just hand over the money.

I stopped taking meetings because I found out that I was putting in more time than the developer. I am not an authority on the true merits of an app, but I can spot a “slacker” from miles away. I really want to urge others who want to develop an app to do it at night or on weekends, the returns are just not there.

Lois Whitman-Hess

>> Founder


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