Retro technology at its finest!

Blue Marble Announces Support for over 800 Ancient Units of Measure

Gardiner, Maine – April 1, 2009 – Blue Marble Geographics announces support for over 800 units of measure from antiquity in the latest version of Blue Marble software. Blue Marble’s geospatial data manipulation and conversion solutions are used worldwide by thousands of GIS analysts at software companies, universities, oil and gas companies, civil engineering, surveying, technology, enterprise GIS groups, government and military organizations.

Modern surveyors often reminisce about the ancient days where measurement was more of an art than a science. To help return some traditional methods to the modern world, Blue Marble now supports over 800 ancient units of measure! Whether you are surveying an Ancient Egyptian burial site, or building a modern sewage treatment plant, knowing that one šsp = .8 drt can mean the difference between doing a good job, and doing a great job. New support for cubits, for example, is quite extensive and is customizable to virtually anyone’s “arm’s length”. No more confusion between surveyors of different shapes and sizes.

Constance Noring, Vice President of Measurement at Blue Marble Geographics, could not be more excited about these new additions. “I’ve had surveyors call and thank me about this feature, and we haven’t even released it yet. Now they can convert all of their CAD data from feet to cubits with the simple click of a button! Talk about job security, with a tool like this no one will want your job once you get done with the data!”

About Blue Marble Geographics: Blue Marble Geographics of Gardiner, Maine is a leading developer and provider of geographic software products that provide sensible solutions for users and developers of geographic data. Blue Marble has been writing GIS software tools and solutions for over 15 years and currently serves hundreds of thousands of users worldwide. Learn more at

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Apple often releases products which are significantly upgraded on the inside, but which are identical on the outside. It is very very frustrating.

Take Apple’s Airport Express portable WiFi hub. These are really neat, since they can also act as print servers, as WiFi network extenders, and can even drive remote speakers for playing iTunes music.

We own several of these devices, all of which are identical white blocks. I use them all the time.

The only hint to their differences is the five-character model number — which is not the same as the nine-character product number. I started out making a quick-reference chart for my own purposes, but then figured, why not share it?

These are the two Airport Express models that Apple has offered so far. The most significant difference is in WiFi support — the newer model will work on a 5GHz WLAN. I may add more details later.

A1084 (M9470LL/A, introduced 2004)

802.11b/g, 2.4GHz

A1264 (MB321LL/A, introduced 2008)

802.11b/g/n, 2.4GHz
802.11a/n, 5GHz

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Developers are staying away from technology conferences. Maybe they’re going to fewer events, or sending smaller teams to must-attend conferences. Maybe they’re only going to conferences that are within driving distance, or are attending “free” vendor-sponsored marketing events instead of educational forums. No matter what, the decline of our leading events is a loss for everyone.

I love going to technology conferences. While online communications and phone chat are great for learning about new technologies and trends, there’s nothing like the mass face-to-face experience of a conference to keep me in looped into the software development industry.

Still, there’s no denying that conferences are expensive, in terms of tuition, travel, room, food, and time out of the office. If you have control over your own travel schedule and budget, like I do, the economy means making hard choices. If your manager has control of your travel, you’ll have to work hard to make your case. If you work for a big company, there’s a good chance that a full or partial ban on technology conferences is in effect.

Consider Microsoft’s TechEd, one of the must-attend events. Last year, TechEd had split into two separate weeks, one for developers, another for IT professionals like systems administrators. This year, TechEd is back to a single week – May 11-15 in Los Angeles. Today, we learned that Microsoft is expecting TechEd to be even smaller than we thought, as described in this exhibitor communiqué:

Tech·Ed is not immune to the impacts of limited budgets available for business travel and professional development activities (such as events) resulting from the financial pressures of today’s economic environment. On average, industry event attendance is currently trending 30%-40% lower than anticipated. Tech·Ed North America currently expects an audience of approximately 6,000, including attendees, Press staff, Microsoft staff, speakers, and booth staff, so please plan accordingly for booth staff and any marketing collateral or giveaways.

The drop-off is bigger than the Microsoft market, of course. Last week, I attended EclipseCon, the annual gathering from the Eclipse Foundation. Its attendance dropped from about 1,300 last year to about 800 this year. A few weeks earlier, SD West did so poorly that TechWeb shut down the entire family of events, including SD West, SD Best Practices and Architecture & Design World.

I dread to see what this year’s JavaOne, June 2-5 in San Francisco, will look like.

Tell me about your conference plans. Are you going to fewer events this year — or none? Do you have corporate restrictions on attending conferences? How is this affecting your professional skills development and sense of involvement in the software development industry?

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

I love a good burger… but oh my goodness.

Since owner Jon Basso opened Heart Attack Grill in December 2005, it has achieved widespread publicity for its 8,000-calorie Quadruple Bypass Burger, a medical theme, and a buxom waitstaff dressed as nurses that has riled public outcry as surely as it has attracted patrons.

The 3,300-square-foot, 70-seat restaurant remains a popular novelty, even if the $7.38 half-pound Single Bypass Burger outsells the cardiac-arresting $13.25, 2-pound Quadruple Bypass version. Guests also clamor for the Flat-Liner Fries cooked in lard. Basso said his restaurant is “an affordable diversion” in tough economic times.

The website proclaims the Heart Attack Grill as “a taste worth dying for.

Read the full article about the Chandler, Ariz., burger joint in Nation’s Restaurant News. Bon appetit!

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

The 86 Rules of Boozing are pretty darned funny. The rule listed as the blog title is #69.

#67 is, “Never ask a bartender ‘what’s good tonight?’ They do not fly in the scotch fresh from the coast every morning.”

Yes, this is old, but who cares? Read and enjoy!!

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Perhaps some chief compliance officers and financial-industry governance professionals are among my friends. But whoever decided to spam me from the Regulatory Compliance Association did a poor job of list selection.

I’m sure that they’re wonderful people, but folks who attend “The Annual Asset Management Thought Leadership Summit: Litigation, Risk Management and Regulatory Reform – An Industry in Transition” aren’t “like-minded.” At least, not if that means belonging to the same profession as yours truly.

From: “Regulatory Compliance Association”
Date: March 26, 2009 3:57:28 PM PDT
Subject: Re-energize your spirits by sharing time with like-minded people

With it being such a volatile market – wouldn’t it be great to spend some time with friends and like-minded people that understand?

The Regulatory Compliance Association Presents:

The Annual Asset Management Thought Leadership>
Litigation, Risk Management and Regulatory Reform – An Industry in Transition

Sheraton Hotel & Towers
811 7th Avenue (53rd Street), New York, NY
Monday, April 20th, 2009

Special Early Bird Registration Pricing

Registration for RCA or NFA Members and Clients of Lowenstein Sandler, SEI, Dechert or Rothstein Kass: $ 145.00

Standard Registration: $ 295.00


First, timely, practical guidance on emerging issues and trends, including:

* Successfully Navigating Your Firm Through an Industry Transition
* The New Paradigm of Investor Requirements and Preferences: Allocators Seek an Alignment of Interests.
* Due Diligence in a Post Madoff Environment: Emerging Best Practices in Response to Escalating Liability
* Fund Investor Litigation: Minimizing Exposure and Maximizing Opportunities
* Compliance Programs and Examinations: A New Dawn for Regulators
* Regulatory Investigations and Enforcement Actions: Priorities Accelerate in a New Era.
* Cocktail Networking Reception

Second, blue chip speaking faculty, including:

Walter Zebrowski, JD, CPA, CIO/COO, Hedgemony Partners
Chairman, Regulatory Compliance Association
Kevin O’Connor, JD, Associate Attorney General, US DOJ*
Joan McKown, JD, Chief Counsel, Division of Enforcement, SEC
Dan Driscoll, CPA, EVP and CCO, National Futures Association
Thomas Biolsi, Associate Regional Director, New York Region, SEC
Virginia Smith, Dept. of Labor, Director of Enforcement, EBSA
Stephen McCaffrey, JD, Senior Counsel for Plans, National Grid Corp.
Desmond Low-Kum, Sr. Mgr., ORM, Stanford Management Company
Howard Altman, CPA, Co-Managing Principal, Rothstein Kass
Arthur Tully, CPA, Partner, Ernst & Young
Martin Schwartz, JD, CPA, CCO, Millennium Partners
Marc Baum, JD, Partner and General Counsel, Offit Capital Advisors
Uzi Rosha, JD, CCO, CarVal Investors
Peter Greene, JD, Partner, Lowenstein Sandler
Marie DeFalco, JD, Partner, Lowenstein Sandler
George Mazin, JD, Partner, Dechert
Roy Gurny, Director & Head of ODD, Ramius
Kip Allardt, COO, CCO, Discovery Funds Management
Mark Polemini, JD, GC & CCO, Alexandra Investment Management
Steven Yadegari, JD, SVP & GC, Cramer Rosenthal McGlynn
Mark Schein, JD, CCO, York Capital
John Thomas, CPA, FVP & SCO, BNY Mellon Asset Management
James Cass, Vice President & Managing Director, SEI
James Tomeo, COO and Senior Portfolio Manager, SSARIS
Ingrid Pierce, LLB (Hons), Partner, Walkers

Third, learn how to use the current market environment and Institutional AlphaT to capture more assets from Sovereign Wealth Funds, Pension Plans, Endowments and Foundations.

To learn more, visit

If you have been displaced by the recent financial turmoil, or your firm has budgetary constraints – we understand.

Please contact us at (800) 306-6133, so that we can help.

Best Regards,
Regulatory Compliance Association
(800) 306-6133

Thank you for your support of the>

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

You’ve got to trust your community to do the right thing – but also make it easy to clean up after people if they misbehave.

That’s a major point that I took away from Tuesday’s opening keynote from EclipseCon. The speakers were Jeff Atwood, famous for his Coding Horror blog, and Clay Shirky, author of the insightful book, Here Comes Everybody, about the power of social groups in public life.

The topic was “The Social Mind: Designing like groups matter,” and Jeff and Clay found patterns in the success from their creation of StackOverflow, a user community for developers, and as well as successful communities like SlashDot and Wikipedia.

You should read Clay’s book, subscribe to Jeff’s blog, and visit StackOverflow. But before you do that, here are four best practices that Jeff and Clay offered regarding creating a successful community site – the headings are theirs, but the descriptions are mine.

1. Radically lower the bar for participation. Don’t make prospective community members jump through hoops to participate, or demonstrate specific expertise. Look at what makes Wikipedia successful – that it has contributions from the small number of experts who really care about a specific subject, and also smaller contributions from the huge number of people who have a smaller commitment. Anyone can start a Wikipedia page; anyone can change a page; anyone can add to a topic or correct a mistake. Make everyone welcome and let everyone participate, as much as you can.

2. Trusting (some of) your users. While you want a lot of participation, not all participants are equal. Some folks contribute more, some are more dedicated, some add a huge amount of value. Other folks contribute less. How do you know who is more valuable, more trustworthy? Find ways to let the community decide, whether it’s through rankings, karma points, or whatever. And then, provide the means for those with more trust to lead the community.

3. Life is the world’s biggest MMORPG. Successful massively multiplayer online role-playing games mimic real life. People work hard if they can see that they’re making progress… and if they have goals to achieve. Those goals might be to slay dragons, win karma points, or to accumulate gold pieces, or whatever. Build those mechanisms into your system, to encourage and reward behavior that you’d like to see in your community.

4. Bad stuff happens. Some people paint beautiful murals, and others spray obnoxious graffiti. That happens in the real world, and happens online too, as you can see by the abusive comments left on many online communities. The more general the community, the more people just like to go by and spray graffiti. Accept that this will happen, but also make sure you have ways to delete community-destroying nuisances quickly. Look at how easily Wikipedia contributors can ‘revert’ malicious content. In the virtual world, you can make it easier to delete graffiti than to create it.

Jeff and Clay suggest starting small, and getting really good at what you do – and then letting the community grow in a scalable, sustainable way. Think about how Google, or eBay, or Facebook started. That’s the recipe for success in a community, both in the real world and online.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

“There’s a saying: ‘When times are good, advertise. When times are tough, advertise more,’ ” said Dan Beem, president at Cold Stone Creamery in Scottsdale, Ariz., the ice-cream chain owned by the Kahala Corporation. “We want to stay with that philosophy.”

Should you market your products during an economic downturn? The answer is an unequivocal, “Hell, yes!”

Advertising in a downturn helps you in several ways. First, it can help you maintain sales. If you don’t market, your sales will slip. Second, it can help you gain market share. Many of your competitors will make knee-jerk decisions to slash their marketing budget. That’s good news for you, since their market share has just become yours for the taking.

There’s a thoughtful story about marketing in a recession, published in yesterday’s New York Times. The quote above is from that story, entitled “A Strategy When Times Are Tough: ‘It’s New!’

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

The strangest thing… a big truck pulled up outside the office, and tried to deliver a 500-pound palette with an industrial-grade bandsaw on it.

The trucking company’s bill of lading showed that this was an order from to be delivered to me. But I didn’t order a bandsaw, and it’s hard to imagine that someone would send me one. (It’s not Father’s Day, is it?)

We (me and the truck driver) discovered that Amazon’s shipping label on the palette itself has a different name and delivery address — in a different state. Same bill of lading number, however.

We were shaking our heads on this one. Why is my name/address on the bill of lading?

I refused delivery, of course. But now I’m having (sort of) buyer’s remorse. It might be fun to have a free industrial-strength bandsaw.

Is there a full moon or something?

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

You think? The prices do seem competitive.

From: “Youyi Automobile”
Subject: Manufacturer World Recession Sales

Dear Sir / Madam

We are please to offer you directly from the Manufacturer, Buses at World Recession Prices.

6M 17+1+1 Diesel Bus from USD 9,600.00
7M 20+1+1+1 Diesel Bus from USD 16,470.00
8M 20+1+1+1+1 Diesel Bus from USD 21,540.00
10M 43+1+1 Diesel Bus from USD 33,900.00

Both available in Right hand drive and left hand drive. Contact us for full details.

Distributorship offer is still available for some countries. We reserve the right not to supply to countries where we have our own distributor already.

Thank you.

Mary Xu
Youyi Automobile
(The one and only Manufacturer of “FRIENDSHIP ” Buses)

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

In today’s off-topic press release department, two noteworthy entries came in. You can read them both on my new “Stop-the-PResses” blog.

The first is from Unilever, and involves a computer game designed to promote a new product:

The “Bake It To Believe It!” Cooking & Baking game marks the launch of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!® Cooking & Baking sticks, which taste and bake like butter with 50% less saturated fat. The game gives cooking enthusiasts an opportunity to hone their skills in the kitchen. Visitors can experiment virtually with delicious recipes from I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!®, while putting their cooking and baking skills to the ultimate test.

The second is from Digital Playground, and is about a new Blu-ray movie for an over-21 audience:

Everybody knows that bad girls have more fun, and the Digital Playground girls are the baddest on the block. “Digital Playground’s Bad Girls” is the latest kinky gonzo from acclaimed director Robby D. Contract stars Stoya, Gabriella Fox, and Shay Jordan are naughty and begging to be punished. In her first released B/G/G, Stoya learns that two is always better than one when it comes to guys. Kelly Summer and Serena del Rio join in the hot, deviant fun in this must-have new offering.

The prurient question, of course, is what would happen if these two companies joined forces?

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

We’re huge Judy fans — and not only because she’s a family friend!

See her Sunday, May 17, at 2:00 pm, at Bay Area Cabaret, the Commandants Room, Marines Memorial Club, 600 Sutter Street, San Francisco:

Winner of this year’s Mabel Mercer Foundation Julie Wilson Award, 19-year-old JUDY BUTTERFIELD returns to her hometown of San Francisco for her Bay Area Cabaret debut.

Ms. Butterfield’s impressive year in New York was highlighted by performances at Manhattan’s famed Oak Room at the Algonquin Hotel and Jazz at Lincoln Center, all while attending Barnard College at Columbia University as a freshman.

Judy’s most recent show “Blame It On My Youth” beautifully captures the evolution of this rising cabaret star through storytelling and songs of new love by composers ranging from Jerome Kern and Cole Porter to Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Ted “call him Dante” Bahr is back, and describes the advertising sales cycle in terms that every salesperson can relate to. Here’s the first of “the seven layers of approval hell”:

First Level: Customer agrees with your proposal, is excited, but needs the price lowered. With that negotiation settled, both parties are ready to go.

As you expect, things “descend” from there.

Read the rest here!

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

It’s almost too weird to blog. Most of the junk bulk messages I receive are easily classifiable: phishing attempts, spam, 419s, viruses and so-on. This message, which came to one of our info@ addresses, is just weird. “Oliver” sent it using classic spam-broadcasting techniques, from a disguised server, and from an invalid return email address.

Subj: My resume, China business 2009322109341晖烫

Please reply to [address], please don’t use the reply button. Recently, I am re-organizing my contact list in my database and sometimes I may sent to you duplicate messages, please do forgive this and hope we can work together in the future. Thank you very much.

Dear Sir / Madam,

I have worked as China Marketing / Sales manager for USB, Willburt Companies during 2003 to 2007, I have built up a distributor network and provide the technical / sale support for the distributors. From October 2007 to August 2008, I worked for a UK company, Action Logistics, as their contact person in China, helping them to build up an agent network and an out sourcing network for their furniture supply chain project. I have extensive knowledge of the Chinese culture, language, business behavior, and the personal relationships while I have educated and worked in the western countries for many years (since 1997).

My working experience in the Chinese government and SOE gave me in-depth understanding of the economic. social, structural development and trends both short term prediction and long term planning. After my graduation from my first university in 1984, I was assigned to the Ministry of Material and Equipment due to my excellent performance, and I have worked there from 1984 to 1990). the Ministry has gone through many changes, eventually, it merged with the Ministry of Commerce and the Development and Reform Commission.

I am also a very good writer and a poet (my poem was pretty famous during the late 80s (my work has been selected in some of the anthology too). I made many speeches during in the meetings, seminars, the number of my audience sometime exceed one thousand. I have edited and wrote for some of the internal publications during my years working in Beijing. Today, I can even find an article introducing me as one of the contemporary poets in China. I also find one of my book in the library of University of Toronto.

I believe I have the necessary experience to work on the distribution / sourcing network and sales activities for you especially for the long term future. My years of working experience and education (I have a degree in Economics, a diploma in Engineering, an advanced business English, and a MBA equivalent with Tsinghua University) will be an asset of your business development in China. If I am given an opportunity, I will return with a resultful good work. I will appreciate the opportunity you are offering and keep up to your higher expectations.

Thank you very much. Look forward to a favorable reply.

Kind Regards,

This came in today’s mail. I wonder if their ISO9001 certificate includes documented processes for email marketing?

From: Floyd Tan
Subject: Business cooperation in faucets

Dear Sir,
How do you do ?

We are the manufacture of faucets.
I have learnt from internet that you are interested in purchasing faucets.

I would like to introduce me and my company.

This is Floyd Tan from Export department.Our company Huayi established in
1991.It is the faucet manufacturer located in Kaiping city,Guangdong China.
Our products including washbasin mixer,bidet mixer,bath mixer,shower mixer and
sink mixer.More than 90 percent are for export.

Our products are in good quality.
1> Our products made by gravity casting(High pressure casting)and low pressure casting.
2> Each product testing by air and by water before delivery.
3> We carry out European production style.
4> We got ISO9001 certificate.We use ISO for management in our production.
5> Our production flow is design-tooling-fabrication-grinding-polishing-
-plating-installation.Each step is strictly tested.

I suggest you a trial order to check quality for your local market.Tks.

Await your early reply.

Best regards,
Floyd Tan/Huayi

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Grrr! I’m in the middle of reinstalling Parallels Desktop 3 on my MacBook Pro, and I’m not happy about it.

I use Parallel 3 on my Mac so that I can run Internet Explorer under Windows. Every so often — such as when doing remote admin to a few Windows servers under my control — IE is the only game in town.

Also, Outlook Web Access has more features on IE than under any other browser. I don’t like that Microsoft stacked the deck that way, but since I sometimes must use OWA, that’s how it goes.

On those rare occasions when I need IE, I’ve been satisfied with Parallels 3. Since November or so, I’ve been using build 5626, without a care in the world.

Yesterday, the auto-update feature of Parallels 3 said that a new build was available, 5634. Being a good boy, I downloaded the new build and launched the installer.

And it deleted my Parallels installation. Poof. Gone.

Turns out that I’m not the only one, see this thread on the company’s support forum. So far, no official response. This sucks, people!!!

Thus, I’m wasting time downloading the previous build, 5626, so that I can reinstall it. (You can find it here.) Grrrr!

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

SD West and SD Best Practices are dead.

If you attended last week’s SD West, you know that the event has become a shadow of its former self. As TechWeb (formerly CMP) continues shifting its focus away from the software development market, the demise of SD West is easy to understand. (TechWeb shuttered Dr. Dobb’s Journal earlier this year.)

Pity. SD West was always an important conference — just as DDJ was an important publication. But TechWeb has more important things to focus on, like InformationWeek. The Software Development Conference (as it used to be called) will be missed!

Here’s what the folks at TechWeb are telling SD West exhibitors:

Dear [exhibitor]:

Due to the current economic situation, TechWeb has made the difficult decision to discontinue the Software Development events, including SD West, SD Best Practices and Architecture & Design World. We are grateful for your support during SD’s twenty-four year history and are disappointed to see the events end.

Developers remain important to TechWeb, and we encourage you to participate in other TechWeb brands, online and face-to-face, which include vibrant developer communities:

Cloud Connect, which will take over SD West’s dates in March 2010 at the Santa Clara Convention Center.

Web 2.0 Expo

Dr. Dobb’s

Black Hat

Again, please accept our sincerest gratitude for your time, effort and contributions over the years. It is much appreciated.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

This message appears to be sent from Amazon, but it’s a phishing scam that’s trying to steal your Amazon account login. Don’t fall for it! The links in the three copies of this message that I received go to, a hijacked Web server in Slovakia. However, there may be other versions as well.

From: “Amazon Merchant Notification
Date: March 16, 2009 12:30:46 PM PDT
Subject: Amazon Listing Created – Apple iPod touch 32 GB (2nd Generation)

Dear Amazon Member ,

Thank you for listing your product at Your listing will be available for purchase on our site within minutes. However, it may take up to 15 minutes for the listing to appear in your open listings area within Your Seller Account. Please do not re-list the product if you do not see the open listing immediately. Your listing will remain listed until it is purchased or for 60 days, whichever comes first.

Here are the details of your listing:

Product Name: Apple iPod touch 32 GB (2nd Generation)

Quantity remaining: 5
Total quantity sold: 0
Buyer’s price: $340.00
Amazon commission (if sold): (Standard Shipping) $28.69
Standard Shipping credit (if sold): $4.99
Condition: New
Comments: Apple iPod touch 32 GB (2nd Generation)
Listing ID: 0315EBGOXC0

When your listing appears, you will see it linked from the page where sells the same item: [fake link here] will contact you by e-mail as soon as someone buys and pays for your item(s) successfully. This e-mail, commonly referred to as the “Sold – Ship Now!” e-mail, is your indication that we have processed payment from the buyer so you can get your shipment under way. You are expected to ship within two business days. You should also always check for new orders by logging into your seller account at [fake link here].

*Always ship within 2 business days of purchase. (That’s required!)
*Secure good shipping rates: [fake link here]
*Communicate with buyers when you ship your items–it helps them anticipate the delivery time.

Thank you for selling with

Amazon Services
(This message was sent from a notification-only address that cannot accept incoming e-mail. Please do not reply to it.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

This spam scam is possibly funnier than the sender intended. Needless to say, this is indeed a scam.

From: “Judy Lau”>
Date: March 17, 2009 10:43:15 PM PDT
Subject: checking the [domain] company’s domain registration

Dear Manager,

We are a professional Internet consultant organization in Asia, which mainly deal with the global companies’ domain name registration and internet intellectual property right protection. Currently, we have a pretty important issue needing to confirm with your company.

On 2009-03-18, we received an application formally, one person named “Jacques Tits” wanted to applied for the Internet brand “[domain]” and some domain names through our body.

During our preliminary investigation,we found that these domain names’ keyword and internet brand is identical with your trademark. I wonder whether you consigned “Jacques Tits” to register these domain names through us or not? Or is “Jacques Tits” your business partner or distributor in Asia? Currently, we have postponed this application of this company temporarily already. In order to deal with this issue better, please let the principal make a confirmation with me by telephone or email ASAP.

In addition, I must state that we have time limited for one person or one company’s registration. It is just 15 days. If your company files doesn’t resent within the time limited. We will unconditionally authorized the application of ” Jacques Tits”.

Thank you for your cooperate.

Best Regards,

Judy Lau
Registration Commissioner

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

This afternoon, I received a pitch from a public-relations professional, who was inquiring about a special report listed on the SD Times editorial calendar. (I’m sure that Sylvia got the info out of a stupid media directory, since if she had actually looked at the SD Times editorial calendar she’d have noticed that I’m not the listed editorial contact.)

What was noteworthy is that Sylvia used the phrase “editorial opportunity” in her pitch more often than usual — once in the subject line, and then five separate times in the message body.

“Editorial opportunity” is a phrase that disturbs many journalists and editors. PR professionals who have a journalism or editorial background understand this, and don’t use that phrase.

But many other PR people don’t understand why the phrase “editorial opportunity” raises hackles.

For the benefit of the many PR people who read my blog, here is my response to Sylvia (expanded to be more explanatory than the original response):

Hi, Sylvia,

I’ll pass along a comment: The phrase “editorial opportunity,” while commonly used by PR and marcom professionals, sets a journalist’s teeth on edge. It’s like fingernails on a blackboard. Yes, you see a story that we’re working on as an “editorial opportunity” to promote your client to our readership. However, we don’t see it as an “opportunity” at all.

We don’t view journalism as being about creating “opportunities” for vendors to pitch their wares or get out their marketing messages. When writing magazine and newspaper stories, journalists and editors work for their readers. We don’t work for vendors and their PR agencies. That distinction is important to us.

While we might do a story on, say, [client’s technology], we do not consider that story to therefore be an “editorial opportunity” for [client name] or any of the other vendors in that space. That’s not why we’re writing it.

In fact, we try to hard to ensure that we are not creating an “editorial opportunity” because that implies that we’re sellouts who are colluding with vendors to help market their products.

Because we feel strongly about this, your use of the phrase “editorial opportunity” may cause us to give a negative response to your pitch. You see, if we provide a positive response to such a pitch, we are, by implication, agreeing that our stories are indeed “editorial opportunities” for your clients, and that we’re a de facto part of their marketing team. We don’t want to do that.

Thus, my advice is that “editorial opportunity” is not a phrase you should ever use in pitches to journalists and editors. Instead, please refer to what we’re doing as “stories.”

Best, -Alan Z

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Many dozens of press releases arrive in my email inbox every day. A small percentage of those are relevant, and spark a follow-up call by me or one of SD Times’ reporters.

Most of the remaining releases are deleted after a quick glance.

However, a few are funny. The release might be hilariously off-topic to what I write about. It might be incredibly badly written. It might be so jargon-laden that it’s incomprehensible. It might be all of the above at the same time.

What do reporters, editors and jouranlists do when we get funny press releases? We share them, of course! In my case, that means forwarding it to a few friends with the subject line, “Stop the Presses!” (If the release is exceptionally amusing, it merits the upgraded subject line, “Stop the Presses — cover story!”)

It occurred to me earlier this month, though, that it’s a shame not to share some of those award-winning press releases with a wider audience. And thus, I’ve launched the “Stop the PResses!” blog.

The press releases posted there are real and unedited. No names have been changed, no PR agencies have been disguised. They were received in my inbox: I didn’t pull them off the wire. The only change is that I’ve stripped out any rich HTML formatting and corrected line breaks. That’s it.

Note: I don’t mean any disrespect to those marketing and public-relations professionals who sent me those off-topic, badly written, jargon-laden and funny releases. I’m sure you meant well, and your release is important to you (and your clients). As the saying goes, “Good luck with that.”

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Not Like You,” newly out in paperback, is a book that every teenage girl should read. Parents, you can read it too. (It’s also okay to read it if you don’t have a teenage daughter.)

To quote from the book’s “official description”:

An emotionally complex novel for mature teens about first love, mother-daughter bonds, and the search for independence.

“Starting a new chapter” is how Kayla’s mother, Marilyn, has always referred to their abrupt moves—five in the past two years. But what Kayla hates even more than moving is Marilyn’s drinking. It once landed Kayla in foster care, so she’ll do whatever it takes to keep her mother from falling apart again. Just until she turns eighteen, less than three years away.

Now Marilyn has moved them to New Mexico, and promised, yet again, to quit booze for good. Kayla knows better than to believe her, but something about this move does feel different. Kayla is putting down roots, earning money as a dog walker, and spending time with Remy, a twenty-four-year-old musician. He’s her refuge from Marilyn’s daily struggle to stay sober. And after years of taking care of her mother, Kayla is starting to think of herself and who she wants to be. She knows for sure who she doesn’t want to be. But is she willing to do whatever it takes to create her own life—even if it means leaving her mother behind?

Sharply honest and beautifully written, Deborah Davis’s powerful novel is about loving someone else enough to stay with her through anything—and loving yourself enough to let her go.

I’ve known the author, Deborah Davis, for, gosh, 25 years now. Her books, beginning with her delightful young-children’s story, “The Secret of the Seal,” are emotional and wonderful. Authentic. I’m proud to be her friend… unlike me, Deborah is a real writer.

Her other books — for adolescents and their parents — are “You Look Too Young to Be a Mom” (about teen motherhood) and “My Brother Has AIDS.”

Get them. Read them. Pass them on.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

SPTechCon is June 22-24 in Boston.

Click the image for a bigger version!

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

I won’t be purchasing La Monte Young‘s magestic suite, “The Well-Tuned Piano,” any time soon. Wish I could, though.

“The Well-Tuned Piano” is a suite of minimalist music composed in the late 1960s. On a recent trip to New York, I heard the third piece in the suite (appropriately named “The Well-Tuned Piano pt. 3”) on the radio. It was long, hypnotic, compelling, perfect. I just had to have it.

Well, no. Upon getting back to my hotel room, I fired up ye olde Web browser, and was shocked to find that the five-disc box set — from 1988 — is out of print, and at the moment, it’s selling for $1,998. No, thank you!

I guess we’ll need to wait until it’s back in print again. C’mon, long tail! Let’s get it up as a digital download!

If you like hypnotic minimalist music, I can recommend three modern albums, in this order:

1: Ludovico Einaudi’s Echoes (collection)

2: Helen Jane Long’s Porcelain (2007)

3. Einaudi’s Eden Roc (2002)

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Microsoft might be violation of the GNU General Public License. What does that mean for its recent patent-infringement lawsuit against GPS maker TomTom?

SD Times reporter David Worthington is on top of the story, which you can read at “Experts: Microsoft’s FAT licensing terms might violate GPL.” Then read his blog post, “TomTom can license FAT without violating GPL.”

One aspect which I find interesting is that only three years ago, there were rumors that Microsoft might be planning to buy TomTom. Both companies are, essentially, in the mobile information business.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

This was passed to me…

A mechanical engineer, chemical engineer and software engineer are driving on a beautiful spring day. Suddenly, their car breaks down. The three engineers discuss how to fix the problem.

“It must be a mechanical fault,” says the mechanical engineer. “Let’s pop the hood and repair the engine.”

“No, there’s something wrong with the gasoline,” argues the chemical engineer. “We need to filter or replace the fuel.”

Both argue with each other, until the software engineer offers the solution: “Just close all the windows, and then open them again. That usually does the trick.”

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Please come to Boston
For the SharePoint.

I’m at the Hyatt with some friends
And they’ve got lots of room.

You can optimize your searches on the server
With some documents we’ll be sharin’ soon.

Please come to Boston…
She said yes, boy, please do SharePoint with me.

Okay, okay, I’m not Dave Loggins, but that doesn’t matter. The important news is that SPTechCon: The SharePoint Technology Conference, is coming to Beantown from June 22-24, 2009.

Even as we speak, we’re hard at work planning the conference. Dave Rubinstein, the intrepid editor-in-chief of SD Times, is also the conference chair for SPTechCon. He put together an outstanding program for our debut event last month in California, and it’s going to be even better in June.

What’s unique about SPTechCon is that it’s designed specifically for you – it’s the only practical conference about using SharePoint today that’s totally focused on improving productivity within your organization. With workshops and tech classes that cover deployment, administration, business applications, development and customization, if it’s about SharePoint Server 2007, it’s at SPTechCon Boston 2009.

See you there!

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

It’s hard to overstate the importance of the Free Software Foundation. The FSF project that gets the most buzz in the media, of course, the GNU General Public License, which serves as the underpinning of many high-visibility open-source projects.

Writing about the GPL is great sport, especially because it drives some commercial developers (like Microsoft) into conniptions. We technology analyst and journalists love a good theatre, and Microsoft vs. GPL will be selling popcorn for many, many years.

If you focus on just the GPL, and Richard Stallman’s unwavering advocacy for free and open-source software, you’re missing what I consider to be the real goodness: the bits created by the GNU Project.

Consider the GNU Compiler Collection. gcc is the de facto standard everywhere (except in the Microsoft-specific world). Even where you have commercial compilers, such as those from Intel, the baseline for compatibility and performance is the gcc.

Want more? There’s the Emacs editor, the gdb debugger, the GIMP image manipulation program, the Mailman listserve software, the gawk string-manipulation language, and dozens of other tools, utilities and applications. The software create by the GNU Project tend to be ignored, mainly because they just work, but also because they don’t present the drama inherent in software licensing.

So, we celebrate a quarter century of the GNU Project. See Alex Handy’s coverage of the GNU anniversary and of the latest updates to gcc. And remember, there’s more to the Free Software Foundation than license squabbles with Microsoft.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Apple has created a new software marketplace with its iTunes App Store. Thousands of developers, some corporate, some independent, have found a huge opportunity writing software for the iPhone and the iPod touch. There are more than 20,000 applications in the store. About 20% of the applications are free, and nearly all of the rest are priced really low, often at around US$1.99.

Impressed by the success of the iTunes App Store, other players like Palm, Microsoft, Nokia, RIM (which makes the BlackBerry), and Symbian are setting up similar captive marketplaces for mobile applications. Even Google is there, with a store that supports only free applications (for now) for Android-based devices.

Is this success story as incredible as it may seem? From Apple’s perspective, yes, because it captures one-time revenue each time an application is sold. However, usage patterns suggest that this may not be so much of a win from the customer’s point of view, and therein lies a cautionary tale.

According to a statistical study of more than 30 million iTunes App Store downloads, analytics firm Pinch Media reported that customers stop using newly acquired iPhone or iPod touch applications fairly quickly.

For example, fewer than 20% of people who download a free application continue using it the next day. The usage time of a downloaded application drops, on average, by about 1/3 in the first month after use. After a month or so, the typical application, if retained, is used for about five minutes per day – whether it’s free or paid makes little difference.

However, it’s worth thinking about how sustainable this marketplace will be over the long run, as there are more and more applications to choose from, and customers get over their initial “I want to download everything!” euphoria.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

I believe in the Endowment Effect. That’s an economic hypothesis that says that people place a higher value on things they already possess, compared to its nominal value if they didn’t already possess it.

Imagine if you own a 2005 Toyota Camry, and someone offered to swap it outright for a 2007 Toyota Camry. Would you do it? You’d be getting a more valuable car. The answer? Probably not. Or someone offers to replace your favorite watch, or your favorite leather jacket, with one that’s more valuable. Would you?

We grow attached to what we have – even if we have the opportunity to “upgrade.” There are good reasons for this behavior. One reason is, we want to minimize our unknowns. We already know our car and have come to term with its quirks and defects. Even though the newer car may be more valuable, its possible quirks and defects might be ones that we won’t accept. The new watch might not keep accurate time. The new leather jacket may not fit as comfortably.

Another is that we feel that we are invested in our decisions. We rationalize why the 2005 car is a “better” car, why the watch we have is a “better” watch. We say that monetary value isn’t everything, because we weren’t looking to sell them in the first place. Their value to us is in their utility and the pleasure they provide, not what they’d fetch on eBay.

Yet sometimes, the Endowment Effect might have a negative effect. Consider the choice of tools platforms, deployment targets, programming languages, reusable component suites, methodologies, even service providers. We have an emotional and financial investment in what we’re using. We’ve spent time learning and training. We’ve justified to ourselves (and our teams, partners and managers) that we’ve made the very best choices, and we’re going to stick with what we’ve got.

The reality is, however, that technology moves on. Yes, the best choices for our business two years ago, or five years ago, may still be the best choices today. But then again, they may not be the best choices.

All too often, we decline to evaluate new choices, insisting, “We did our evaluation, we made up our mind, and we’re sticking with it.” That’s fine when it comes to personal possessions. However, in a business context, we should be more open-minded. Perhaps we like our older car – or our familiar toolchain – and it could be uncomfortable to change on the short term. But maybe, just maybe, a different one might be a better choice.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick