Category Archives: Unexpected

Business cards: tech years

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, saying you worked in “personal computers” was akin to saying you work in genetics today. It sounded cool, but few folks completely understood it. Personal computers and their software were still not affordable for the masses; these were the days when a copy of PowerPoint, by itself, was $400.

Still, from 1987 through 1992, I moved from covering technology as a broadcaster to promoting it at two different companies. And I was doing so in a field — consumer technology marketing — for which there was no formal training and, in reality, no template as to what worked and what didn’t. It was pretty damned exciting.

This is the second of three parts of a look at how business cards evolved, starting with the media years and continuing through the consulting years — three decades’ worth. Continue reading Business cards: tech years

Business cards: media years

There are few descriptions of a career more sterile than a resume.

Resumes are text. Resumes are written and rewritten. Resumes exist for one purpose only: to help get that next job. They do little to capture the character of a position as it was being held. Yet for many, they’re the only document that bolts one job onto the next in the construction of a working life.

There is another kind of document that can both trace a career path, and help recall feelings a position evoked. It is the business card. Continue reading Business cards: media years

On a clear day, you can SEA forever

As what’s expected to be the busiest travel summer since 2000 gets underway, I am reminded that I travel. A lot.

It’s part of my current position and, quite frankly, also came with the territory of being a consultant for a dozen years: The people you need to see are never where you are. Consider it a corollary of the rule that an expert is someone more than 50 miles from home. (As an aside, I rarely had clients in the Seattle area. As a result, I was mostly known here for being an analyst and media commentator.)

Last September, I hosted the WSA Investment Forum and gave some brief lessons learned by a very frequent traveler. Since then, I’ve outdone myself by simultaneously making Platinum Elite on Northwest Airlines, SPG Platinum at Starwood hotels, and maintaining a decade of MVP Gold status on Alaska Airlines.

So it seems time to update my earlier, nearly two-year-old advice to newbie frequent travelers: Continue reading On a clear day, you can SEA forever

Video out x4

Four years ago this week, I walked away from television. It was June 2002 when I left KCPQ-TV Fox Seattle as its part-time technology analyst and commentator, contributing live and taped segments to both the morning and night-time newscasts. I’d done it for four years, the people were great, the parting was amicable, but the station was moving in a direction that didn’t fit my skills or interests.

I’ve earlier recounted my thoughts on the state of TV tech coverage at the time on Lost Remote, and on the state of TV news a year later on Byte Me Online. Now, with four years of perspective behind me, the most telling effect — now that I no longer have to watch TV news — is how little of it I do watch. (And earlier, I was a full-time broadcast news reporter/anchor before a consultant and commentator.)

So, with my rear-view mirror getting a clearer picture, consider these Three Tips for Better News Consumption: Continue reading Video out x4

The noble experiment

For the last several years, I’ve blogged. I’m ending this experiment after much enthusiasm, debate and a hiatus. I didn’t start blogging because I thought it was the best thing to happen to media since Gutenberg, nor am I stopping it now because I think blogging is useless.

I’m stopping because being a good blogger is hard work. Personally, I have time for only one all-consuming hobby after my paying job and family responsibilities. I’m moving on to another form of my favorite avocation so I’m not lying on my deathbed some years hence, wondering, “If only I’d ….”

But I’m leaving blogging — first on the Lost Remote group blog, and then with Byte Me online — with these six Blogging Lessons Learned: Continue reading The noble experiment

Media shifting not just for the young

Merrill Brown and Carnegie Corporation’s new report “Abandoning the News,” about how 18-34 year olds are moving away from traditional sources of news, is getting some attention in digital media circles. Looking at my own news and entertainment media preferences (and, admittedly, as someone about a dozen years removed from the high end of the report’s target demographic), I think the report could go even further.

I’ve replaced watching live, unfiltered broadcast and cable television with TiVo — two TiVos, actually. I have a hard time imaging not being able to pause live TV, rewind to catch something I want to see again, or see a menu of shows, based on my preferences, ready to be viewed whenever I want. If there is a significant news story, I can replay a live feed. It is almost painful to watch raw TV in hotel rooms when I travel.

I’ve replaced broadcast radio with XM Satellite Radio. Continue reading Media shifting not just for the young

‘Tis the season

We are entering that time of year, that marvelous season, the season that frequent travelers dread. Not the holiday season. Amateur season.

The hallmark of amateur season is travelers who fly only once a year, and only during the summer or over the holidays (Santa Claus excepted, of course). You can spot the amateurs a concourse away: No idea where their driver’s license is when they get to the security checkpoint. No idea where their boarding pass is. Expressions of childlike wonderment when the TSA asks them simple questions, such as, “Did you realize hunting knives aren’t allowed in carry-on luggage?”

And yes, as a frequent business traveler, I’ve seen all of the above. Continue reading ‘Tis the season

When dinosaurs ruled the airwaves

The following originally appeared as a “State of the Art” essay in Analog Science Fiction & Fact’s July 1992 issue. Portions were later excerpted in the Seattle Times in October 1992.

Though 2004 is a dozen years later and some of the names of the players have changed, much of the game being played remains the same today. When it comes to news and the human capacity to make sense of it, filters are important since more broad-based information gathering and dissemination mechanisms — up to and including the latest darling, Web logs — don’t change the limits of the human attention span. And mass media continue to have increasingly less mass.

Back in 1992, this was considered farsighted heresy. Now, it’s happened. Continue reading When dinosaurs ruled the airwaves

Life at 35,000 feet

If you’re a frequent business traveler, you know we’re in the midst of the busy summer air travel season or, as I like to think of it as, amateur season. It’s a time when things which worked marginally smoothly during the first half of the year self-destruct like baggage on an airline conveyer belt.

I’ve just wrapped up six months of being on the road nearly every week for clients and conferences. Twenty-six roundtrips give one ample time to reflect on things one should have known before, say, having to choose between the ham and turkey sandwich. (Tip: They taste identical. I know, because when I asked the Northwest flight attendant, that’s what she told me.)

So while I haven’t written as many tech analyses and commentaries as I’d like since beginning my journeys, I can offer hard-earned advice for the infrequent business traveler: Continue reading Life at 35,000 feet

Love/hate/blog

Partisans either in favor, or critical, of blogging seem to have an awful lot in common with the three blind men asked to describe an elephant. Depending of the part of the elephant they touched, each envisioned an entirely different type of creature.

After my essay of a month ago, I’ve had a similar experience … only with a lot more emotion.

My intent with “Blog No More” was to pen a cautionary tale for would-be bloggers — detailing two realities of creating and maintaining a personal Web log that I’d discovered in the year since beginning and abandoning my own (and while, simultaneously, writing this blog as a tech Web newsletter and contributing to a group blog in a different industry).

It was designed to counter the hype that many in the mass media had heaped upon blogging in the wake of its use in politics and by entertainers. As Rob Greenlee of WebTalkRadio said to me, too much hype and unrealistic expectation and blogs become this decade’s equivalent of personal Web pages — easy to set up and just as easy to let sit idle and watch die a slow, neglected death. Continue reading Love/hate/blog