Zeroing In on the Hotspot

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I’m one of those people who can’t stand finding out that I missed a particular art gallery, a legendary candy store, or even a special restaurant when I left a town I was visiting. I could have been there on vacation or a business trip.

Usually, I don’t spend enough time researching a new area, or I’m too quick to assume there’s nothing worthwhile for me to justify my time. I have a New York attitude. If it’s not in New York, then it’s second rate. Thank goodness age has given me the wisdom to know how wrong I have been. Now I want to know every little thing. I want my options. What golden nuggets lie where? Lucky for me, I live in the age of Google and Wikipedia. I have Google to help me with my writings and I have Wikipedia to help me identify what I would like to see when I travel.

I was thrilled to learn that Wikipedia launched a new feature called “Nearby” that recommends articles based on a user’s location. The Nearby page helps readers learn more about their current surroundings. For example, visitors to the Los Angeles Wikipedia page will see articles on the the Pantages Theater and what is currently playing there.

As many more traveling baby boomers take to the road or skies, Wikipedia Nearby is going to replace the Fodor guides we all used to carry on first trips out of our comfort zones.

Happy trails to you!

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The New Face of Email

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It’s starting with Google’s Gmail, but other email service companies can’t be too far behind. Gmail is now offering users the option of being able to organize emails according to importance. A sorter will help you categorize messages: which ones you should read immediately and which ones you can read later. Gmail offers three tabs: primary, social, and promotions.

It’s all very sensible. Google Gmail learns to identify primary emails that are most important. The Social tab contains message updates from various social networks, like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and Yelp. Promotions contains newsletters, party invites, and concert announcements. You can also add additional tabs to help manage electronic bills, banking statements, and messages from forum boards.

Itamar Gilad, a product manager at Google, was quoted as saying, “All emails compete for our attention and it’s getting more difficult to focus on the things we need to get done.” My thoughts exactly. I get no less than 500 emails a day, many of them from people inside my company. We no longer get up from our chairs to talk to each other. We send emails. When we scream at each other we use CAPS.

At the end of each work day, I wonder if my life is now being measured in emails rather than years. I’m not complaining; it’s my livelihood. However, I’m all for organization. I do get distracted by emails from Bloomingdale’s, friends, and the theater. I am not sure if classifying emails into tabs is going to cure my habit of procrastination, but I’m willing to give it a try.

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Rise Above the Noise

Many DigiDame readers have spoken to me about ideas that they want to bring to market. Some ideas are just that, ideas. Others are inventions, concepts, or services. It doesn’t matter what stage you are at, you need two things: money and a marketing plan. I learned early on from the money people that they will not give you a dime (and you shouldn’t even think of spending a cent your own money either) unless you have a clear plan about how you are going to market “the big idea” and who are your target audience.

That may seem like a simple concept to you. But, in reality, it is much more difficult to make a marketing plan than it is to develop an idea. Most sophisticated investors claim that they have seen more great ideas go down the drain because no one really knew how to market the product or concept. The good news is that no one person has the corner on ideas for marketing. Sometimes the best idea comes from the guy behind the counter at the candy store down the street. The not-so-good news is that marketing ideas have to be executed the right way and often reinvented to succeed. What works one day doesn’t always work the next. To some, that is the fun of it.

So far, the ratio of good ideas to terrible ones in the world of marketing is five per cent to 95 per cent. I may be slightly exaggerating, but you get my drift. I am not even saying that my ideas are the good ones, but at least I know which ones work and what effort has to be put into a project to make something happen. I am sure you’ve heard the expression “Success is ten percent inspiration and ninety percent perspiration.” Thomas Alva Edison. One of the major reasons I am still around after all these years is that I am willing to sweat. I would not recommend this kind of challenge to everyone, but if you are passionate about what you do then you have a good chance of succeeding. I have said this before and I will say it again. “You can make it happen. You can make it work. You possess the power.”

This post is surrounded by two videos that our client RELM Wireless created to “rise above the noise” in the land of the mobile radio business. We had nothing to do with the creative. I wish we had. This will get the attention of the press and prospective buyers of their product line. There are eight videos in total which get sent out on a weekly basis to targeted audiences. They are abstract and funny. It beats the usual pitch. This is just one of many marketing tactics. I hope you get the idea.

Everyone Fears Technology

My good friend Dick Krain sent me a video this morning that I could easily relate to. I wish I could say I haven’t been a victim, but I have. Have yourself a good laugh. I did.

I’ve always thought it was my “New Yawk” accent that hampered me when speaking to a voice recognition service. I’ve wanted to scream every time after dialing 411 for information. It is always such a waste of my time. No matter how slowly I speak, I always get transferred to a live operator. Please, just give me the live operator to begin with.

If I ever needed to be taught a lesson, this is it: for the last two years, I only seek someone’s email address or phone number through Google rather than through a voice recognition service. When I get the number I need, I don’t even bother to write it down or record it into my contacts. I just click on the number and let the program do the rest. That, to me, is a truly civilized way to get addresses and phone numbers.

Every time I have to deal with technology, there is always a new challenge. Just when I think I have something figured out, another thing pops up that stalls me. I always felt that I was the only one with these troubles. Now, after seeing this hilarious video, I know better. Everyone in technology runs into speed bumps. What matters is if you have the tenacity to deal with them. Patience, Lois!

New Media Takes Over Old Media Office Space

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I had a good laugh yesterday when I read that Yahoo is going to occupy the 9th through 12th floors of the former headquarters of The New York Times on West 43rd Street. Suddenly, being in the Flatiron District, which is supposedly the hub of everything digital, is not of concern anymore. Tumblr, which Yahoo recently acquired for $1.1 billion, is located in “Silicon Alley,” on 21st Street between Park Avenue South and Broadway. Their plan is to remain there.

To that I say phooey. I bet they move uptown very quickly. I have often visited the Tumblr office. Sparse and humble are the best words I can use to describe it. I think I remember seeing a ping pong table somewhere in their office, but when a few of the 175 people see the new Yahoo office, they will never go home again. Yahoo plans to load the joint with the same attractions as in the Google and Facebook offices: outdoor terraces, cafeterias with endless food from around the world, lounge areas, meditation rooms, game areas, and media centers. David Karp, founder of Tumblr, may try to keep his autonomy for a certain period of time, but sooner rather than later, he will succumb to the midtown super-office space.

Personally, I think the whole pitch that digital companies should be strategically located downtown was good PR hype from some real estate developer. Certain companies believe if they are located in the thick of things, they will automatically become a big success. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Several friends of mine set up shop five years ago in Dumbo (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass), the digital/Internet area of Brooklyn. The area is loaded with startups and research centers. They actually believed if one company in Dumbo was successful, they all would be. All five companies went south within a few years. Every time we drive pass Dumbo, I feel so nostalgic that all my pals are gone from that vicinity.

I started noticing late last year that that the digital industry was maturing. Ten years ago most of the kids were in their early 20s. Today, many are married with kids of their own. Interestingly enough, older folks (40s, 50s, 60s) now work for Internet companies. Today, more and more people are interested in making companies successful rather than throwing hoops during office hours.

If you would have told me ten years ago that Yahoo would be replacing The New York Times in that legendary spot, I would have suggested that you were on drugs. I visited that building many times to pitch stories. I swear the building is filled with ghosts of some of the best newspaper people in the business. How fitting that Yahoo, a model of new journalism, would occupy the footprint of the most respected newspaper in the world.

All the news that’s fit to digitize.

The World of TV Viewing Is Forever Changing

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I can’t keep up with the changing world of TV program viewing options. There are so many choices out there that I kind of shut down when I hear young friends talking about their choices.

All I know is that more and more younger folks are not paying for cable and instead are getting all of their favorite programs over the Internet. They either watch their shows on a computer, TV, iPad, or even an iPhone.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association confirmed that the largest subscription video provider in the country today is Netflix. They are experimenting with alternative ways to deliver programming to the American consumer. Eliot and I just finished bingeing (the term Netflix uses for marathon viewing) on the streaming media provider’s thirteen hours of House of Cards starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. It was great to process the entire series at once instead of waiting for a new episode each week.

TV cable companies are getting more and more concerned about Netflix, Amazon, Google Play, Hulu, iTunes, YouTube, and many other online video services. Consumers have been lured away from cable because of lower prices and flexible viewing from these alternative sources.

To understand all of the options available today, USA Today provided the best possible summary. Click here.

Up, Up and Away

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One of the things I dislike the most about flying coach is the beverage cart. It’s not like I don’t appreciate a cup of coffee or an occasional snack. It’s just that I get a little claustrophobic when the flight attendant stops the cart at my aisle seat. Coach is tight enough without the cart boxing me in. I literally count the seconds until the cart is moved again down the aisle. I can usually count as high as 300.

If that’s not bad enough, a row of people are usually waiting behind the cart to go the bathroom. That means when the cart is moved to the rear of the plane, I have two or three people crowding me in as they wait behind. I really get upset when one of them is wearing heavy cologne or perfume. The whole area gets suffocated with the scent. I may sound very intolerant but I am just echoing how most people feel about coach accommodations, or the lack of them.

Let’s hear a round of applause then for Seongjoo Joh and Lee Min whose new concept for a suspended trolley cart literally “raises the roof” on beverage delivery. The Flying Trolley rolls along tracks in the ceiling and lowers down when the flight attendants need it. This would keep the aisles free so everyone moves around freely.

Like all other inventions that come to market, the Flying Trolley has its challenges. The added weight and the extra hardware could kill the deal. We understand the designers went back to the drawing board and have a brand new solution. Can’t wait to see the results.

Bogie, the Bomb Detector

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Bogie

My life in technology has taken me down many roads. There is always a new person with a new idea, invention, or service. When you are a publicist, you get to go behind the scenes and be an integral part of their journey.

This morning was no different. I once again met with Bogdan Castle Maglich (Bogie) who is a nuclear physicist and a leading advocate of a purported non-radioactive aneutronic fusion energy source. He has been an HWH PR client a few times. Our assignments with him usually involve promoting his bomb detectors/systems.

In one second, Bogie’s detection systems can sniff out any kind of explosives. Had Bogie been walking past the Boston bombers with one of his detection systems, which he houses in a suitcase on wheels, alarms would have gone off.

Bogie claims that the U.S. is fighting 21st century wars with 19th century weapons. He also says that none of the explosive detection systems at any of the world’s 780 airports has ever detected an explosive within the past 20 years. “The Roentgen Rays, which date back to 1896, are intrinsically incapable of detecting explosives because they’re chemically blind. Only a fast-neutron atometer can chemically identify explosives, non-invasively and remotely.”

Bogie is currently founder and CEO of CALSEC, California Science & Engineering Corporation. The company’s motto is “Dedicated To Saving Human Lives.” When Bogie is not involved in research and development, he is fundraising. His current project will need millions of dollars to fuel. In the past, he received grants from the government plus the investment community. Today, the “sequester” has severely postponed a lot of his capitalization. He reminded me that he is a very good fundraiser. He will figure out alternative opportunities.

At 85-years-old, Bogie was very positive this morning when we met at the Cosmopolitan Club. He looked pretty chipper and energized, especially considering he’d just taken the red-eye from Newport Beach, CA where he lives. He was in town because his youngest of four was graduating from The New School this afternoon.

I could go on and on about this incredible individual, but I will let you click here to learn more. Check out his turbulent wartime childhood in Yugoslavia. After you read about that, you will understand why the rest of his life has been about saving lives.

3D Printer Saves Baby’s Life

Lately, 3D printers have been getting a bad rap because of all the reports about this new technology being used to build undetectable firearms. Click here to see an earlier DigiDame post about the evolution of 3D printing. It’s a pretty miraculous technology that we can all use personally.

Today, I learned that the medical world is employing 3D technology to save lives. TechCrunch, a popular tech news site, reported on how 3D printers were used to make an airway tube that saved a 20-month-old baby boy’s life. “After imaging the boy’s faulty windpipe, doctors at the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan printed 100 tiny tubes and laser-stitched them together over the trachea.”

The baby suffered from a severe version of tracheobronchomalacia, causing his bronchus to collapse. The doctors surgically sewed the 3D-printed splint onto the child’s airway. As soon as the splint was put in, the lungs started going up and down for the first time. Everyone knew he was going to be okay.

When I watched the video above, I had to take a moment to think about how the baby’s doctor went back to the drawing board to design a custom contraption (I can’t think of a better word to describe the splint) that allowed this baby to breathe on his own. It was the first time this was ever done. I can imagine the celebration in the hospital that day.

Examining Privacy in the Digital Age

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Anyone who knows me will tell you I am a pretty open person. I wear my dirty laundry on my sleeve and I am very outspoken. I allow my location to be known on most Internet sites and usually agree to accepting email alerts on things that interest me.

However, I do find that as I get older my privacy has become more precious to me. I spend many hours alone reading and writing. I no longer answer calls on our landlines, which are solicitations nine times out of ten. For some reason I don’t mind countless emails that are called “spam” because it takes just minutes to delete a few hundred. Every so often, I actually learn something from some random person.

What I don’t necessarily like is when the phone companies sell my personal information about locations, travel, and websites I’ve visited to marketers without allowing me to share in the revenue they generate for it. Is there nothing sacred anymore? Cellphone carriers can track our every move.

The Wall Street Journal recently noted that when a Verizon Wireless customer navigates to a website on his or her smartphone, that information may end up as a data point in a product called Precision Market Insights. When you click on the WSJ story, it will probably take you to a page where it says in order to read the story, you have to be a subscriber. If that happens, I will be happy to cut and paste the story in an email for you. Let me know.

“The product, which Verizon launched in October 2012 after trial runs, offers businesses like malls, stadiums and billboard owners statistics about the activities and backgrounds of cellphone users in particular locations. Carriers acknowledge the sensitivity of the data. But as advertisers and marketers seek more detailed info about potential customers and the telecom industry seeks new streams of revenue amid a maturing cellphone market, big companies have started to tiptoe in. The companies say they don’t sell data about individuals but rather about groups of people. Privacy advocates say the law permits them to do so. In 2011, Verizon sent notices to customers saying they may use their data in this way.”

Meanwhile, Americans who participate in social media disclose their locations on Twitter, Facebook, and Foursquare all the time. If ultimate privacy is a big concern for you, I suggest you visit every site you deal with and look for the area where you can control your privacy settings.

If you are too lazy to go through this process, then you will suffer from electronic spam. It is only going to get worse.