Archive for July, 2009

How Movies Are Marketed

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

I've been thinking a lot lately about how movies are marketed, and I'd love to get people's comments. It seems like there are some main ways that we become aware of movies coming out soon.

  • Actors, writers, director (who I'll call "key people") on national morning shows (Today, Good Morning America) or national evening shows (Conan, Daily Show).
  • Key people doing regional shows, like appearing on a local segment (live or by satellite) for say a Denver or NY or San Francisco news or lifestyle segment.
  • Key people on drive-time radio like kooky morning shows.
  • TV commercials. Hard to miss some of those. :)
  • Newspaper ads
  • TV reviews during the news, or movie review shows. I'll also lump newspaper reviews with this.

Many of these are designed to drive you to the movie's website, which then wants to drive you to…

  • Join a mailing list
  • Follow a twitter account
  • Read a blog
  • Watch trailers, clips, and interviews
  • Download a desktop image or phone application
  • Discuss on a forum
  • Go to MySpace or another sub-site

It's not like the TV commercial sends you straight to their Twitter account… they want you on the website. And at that point, they'd like you to be one of their army who is telling friends, sharing clips, and thinking about when this movie comes out.

There are other ways to promote movies, like appearing at film festivals or doing special screenings in certain towns. But how many of us learn about a movie from that? I can't name a single movie that is playing at a festival. I can't name a single movie that is on a tour of cities to do special previews and screenings. So that's not where I get my movie awareness… unless I know someone who follows that stuff. And if the movie isn't doing some of that more traditional marketing
listed above, when would my friends or I find out about the special
screenings? It seemed like a circle, or a sort of catch 22.

You might find a movie's Twitter from friends who found it (but then somebody found it at SOME point). You might stumble on it, say on Fandango or YouTube, and watch a trailer, interviews, and other things put out there to make you interested. You might learn about a movie by seeing what your local theatre is playing… it's possible they're playing something you never heard of, and now you're going to read up about the movie.

And then there's also the "paid buzz," like paying bloggers to write about your movie, paying people to Tweet, paying people to post things to their Facebook, etc… I'm not sure how much of that will be the FIRST time we've heard about a movie… I'm trying to think about our first awarenesses of a new movie, and what the movie people do to make sure we're excited, we are going to see it, and tell friends.

How do you find out about movies? Do you send clips of movies to friends? I'd love to know more about the marketing of movies because I tend to think that it just about ALWAYS takes at least SOME of the traditional movie marketing in order to get a giant amount of the public to know about it, to be excited about it, and to tell friends.


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Palm Pre Backup and Restore is Impressive

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Yesterday was NOT a cool day for my Palm Pre. After taking a small tumble, the case wasn't cracked, but was no longer sitting correctly. It couldn't be snapped back in. Man, my HTC WinMo phones took many more WAY worse falls, and lived. So I am a bit concerned on construction here.

But I did something weird for me, and I took insurance on the phone when I got it. So I went to the Sprint Store. Showed it to the girl, who went, "OOooooo!" Like ooo, this is bad. I had called that morning, and she said to backup my pictures and any music I've put on the phone. I did. I also hit the "backup" button the phone has, though I didn't know what it did.

I went to Starbucks and got my usual. By the time I walked back, she was just about done reprogramming a brand new phone. Not worth them trying to fix, I guess. Brand new phone. The phone asked for my Palm account. Well, I didn't really know what that was for. I only knew I was creating one when I first got the phone. But having NOT downloaded the desktop software, I didn't know what having the Palm account really did.

So I log back into my account on the new phone, and it says it's downloading. Minutes go by, and then it reboots. When it's back, it's just amazing.

What's there:

  • All of my email settings… I had put in 5 email addresses, and it started sync'ing those accounts, and downloading my mail.
  • My Google account to sync my contacts and calendar, which it started doing.
  • All the apps I had downloaded.
  • So within minutes, I had all of my contacts, calendar, and emails freshly sync'ed. It was NICE.

What's not there:

  • My desktop wallpaper. Easy to reload and assign.
  • Preferences for ring tones, both the main one, and ones I had set for contacts.
  • Settings inside the apps I had downloaded. For example, my Twitter app was there, but it didn't know any of my accounts.
  • I'm hoping that future apps can have some sort of import/export settings so I don't need to redo all my settings if I ever have to factory reset.

But this was impressive and a welcome relief when I think about what it was like after factory resetting my Windows Mobile phones. Note that the Palm automatically syncs with Google accounts… so I have an app sending my Outlook contacts and calendar to Google every 15 minutes (and receiving anything my phone has sent). The Palm syncs periodically, so both are always updated. That's niiiiiiiice. :)

Thanks, Palm. I started out nearly hating you, and ended up converted again. :)


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Things to Consider Before Getting Married

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

Having read this blog post on Things to Consider Before Getting Married, I felt like that post really didn't cover enough. I know of no friends in bad marriages because of how many football games someone wants to watch. I haven't had any relationships end over that.

Here is my take on this.

Consider what is very unlikely to change at all, ever.

Religion. Politics. How many kids someone does or doesn't want. How much someone smokes, drinks, or does drugs. How much someone goes to a strip club or enjoys porn. :)

If your partner doesn't agree with your views, and that sometimes bugs you, remember that you're signing up for a lifetime of disagreement on those issues. He or she may not eventually come around to seeing your way on this, so don't assume it'll change.

Don't assume he or she will change at all, ever.

I've been in long-term relationships with a few people who had some self-awareness of some bad or even destructive aspects of their personalities that they wanted to change. Great! Step one is being aware, and step two is wanting to change. And so far in my life, I've watched these people change none of these things. I think it was because they were large, fundamental changes to how they saw things, how they gut-reacted to things, and things like that… so they weren't easy changes to make.

I have gone into long-term relationships assuming that he will "stop doing that" because he says he will get help… or because my love can support him through his tough times… or because love conquers all… or something like that. And so far, I've been painfully disappointed, and it's a double disappointment. It hurts that the person is still doing things evidently neither of you want him or her doing, and then it's hard to realise that he or she broke a promise to change it.

Make sure that if you are moving in or getting married, you really love that person AS IS. If he or she NEVER changed and always did that or always avoided that or always was just as he or she is now, would he or she still be your Perfect Partner? If you don't immediately jump out with YES, then it's no.

While my last relationship didn't last, I knew I was going into it loving that person the way he was, for better or worse, and sometimes he was worse. :) I knew he might not change, but I was ready to support him in any change he wanted to make. To me, that's unconditional love, and that is what both people should feel for a marriage to be the right choice, and then work out.

Listen to your gut.

When you hear yourself unsure of these things, or you hear yourself thinking about how you wish she didn't do that or how you wish he didn't say that… put those on a pile. They're not isolated. People have patterns. People rarely do things once. Crappy people who learn that you'll take what they just said or did will surely do it again… they just learned you'll take it.

I have had friends who were married to crappy people, and they kept telling themselves that their spouse won't be like that to the kids… that he won't say those mean things to a little baby, and then he'll learn to not say those things to me. Well, it normally doesn't work that way. If he's saying hurtful things, he's got issues, and the kid will be the next target.

Nobody escapes someone with issues, and you shouldn't assume that someone who has patterns of being a certain way will magically stop being that way. If that person were capable of that kind of awareness, I'd think that he or she would see what he or she is doing to YOU, and would STOP.

Watch your role.

In many of my long-term relationships, I seemed to end up as the everything. I was the main or sole breadwinner. I was the person who planned everything, took care of everything. Fought every wrong bill. Dealt with every contractor coming to the house. I like to be supportive to people, but seem to end up as their therapist or the objective of their obsessions, power struggles, or addictions.

Some people think they want that take-charge person, or that they want to be that take-charge person. Well, just remember that you then have a relationship that is not equal. OK, not everybody's pay rates will be equal, but in theory, you want something equal. You are not in this relationship to take care of someone else, or to be taken care of. You're an adult. :)

Live together first for 3 years.

Yeah, really. Are you in some sort of rush? You shouldn't be. If this is the right person, you'll have plenty of time together. Don't be in a rush to be married or have kids. That doesn't work out for most of us, and most of the people I know who are still in their marriage seem awfully unhappy… but stay for the kids. By the way, your marriage is a model for your kids. Stay in a loveless or openly negative marriage, and guess what you teach the kids. It's no accident that I keep dating the same people who treat me as badly as my mother treated my father… it's what I learned, and I'm not out of that habit yet. So staying in it for the kids may not be giving the kids what you think it gives them.

I have noticed that the relationships I had with people were MUCH better before we moved in together. Once you are with that person that much, you get to see it all. It all comes out. That great behaviour they save for those dates or nights together is there… and then the other stuff comes out. It's amazing how much gets revealed about someone once you are living with them. People are different when they don't have the same personal space and choices on how they spend their time.

In the last 3 long-term relationships I've been in, I saw enough bad stuff from these guys in the first year we lived together to have known that this was wrong. But part of my bad pattern is to stay in these bad relationships and think that I can help, support, and love unhappy people into better places in their lives. I am wrong. But I sure could have avoided a lot of divorce issues and bad dealings with unstable guys if I had "put on a pile" what I saw once we moved in together. I should have seen that complete picture of who that person really was, not just loved their potential to be happier or better, not just loved the good times, and LEFT.

Why 3 years? Because I've still seen some people on their best behaviour in that first year or so. It's that honeymoon period. You've picked a place, some furniture… there's probably still some of that fun, fresh dating energy there. Let that burn off, and see what you have underneath it all. I found that not only were these guys awful and impossible, but we couldn't even stay friends.

Even if you've been dating 5 years but haven't lived together yet, live together for at least 1-2 years. It really is different. It just is!

Pre-nup

Yeah. I said it, and I mean it. Get a pre-nup. I don't care if you have NOTHING. Get one. If you both agree on property and things, then you'll both sign a fair pre-nup. If you don't agree on property and things, oh isn't that best to know before you get married?

It's like any other insurance. You hope you are not in a car wreck. You hope you are not hospitalised. But you have insurance in case these things happen. You don't want them to happen, and you assume they'll never happen to you. But they're good to have. So is a pre-nup.

Marriage is not supposed to be hard, so stop telling yourself that.

People marry the wrong people, and then guess what. Marriage is hard. It takes work and effort. And that's what they tell you when you hang out. Marriage is just so hard, and it takes work.

It doesn't have to be like that, and it shouldn't. Think about your relationship with you
r best friend. Does that person have to try to say and do the right thing for you? Do you tell him or her what to say, what not to say, and how to act to make you happy? Probably not. You probably go well together. That's the sort of relationship you should have when you want to be married. That great friendship where you don't each have a list of what you hope the other person will change.

Your relationship with your best friend is probably very easy. It's natural. You don't have to sit down and ask where it's going, or why she wasn't more supportive. This is your best friend. This relationship is not hard, and nobody tells themselves or each other that best friends are hard and take effort.

So why are we telling ourselves that marriage is hard and takes effort when you're supposed to marry "your best friend," your perfect match, your soul mate, the person who loves you and understands you the most? Why do we tell ourselves this stuff when it just gives people reasons to stay in bad relationships? Well, this relationship is a mess, but hey, marriage is hard and takes hard work, so I guess I haven't put in enough hard work because this is a mess.

So be very careful. There is no good reason to rush into getting married or having kids. There is so much to consider to make sure it's right, and you don't end up a statistic. Divorce is not the only statistic. I also think of the number of people staying in unhappy marriages "for the kids." Or the people staying in verbally, physically, emotionally, or sexually abusive situations. These are all easy to do. None of us set out to do this, but we fall into patterns or we believe liars.

Yes, I am a bit skeptical and not so hot on the whole marriage thing. That's more from watching unhappy friends stay in bad stuff than from my own bad dating experiences. If I were the only one having bad long-term relationship experiences, you can say it's just me. :) I'm in the majority. I think people need to do a better job picking their partners. If this blog post can save just ONE person from some of the mistakes I made (more than once), it's worth it.


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CSI Got It Wrong

Saturday, July 18th, 2009

I was flipping by TV the other night, and I don't remember if this were a commercial or an episode, but the CSI guys were standing over a body. Not that exciting yet. :)

But in deducing I don't know what, they decided that the guy was left-handed because he wore his cell phone on the left side of his pants.

Wrong. (Envision loud X sound from Family Feud)

I am a righty, and I wear my cell phone on the left side. Why.

  • As a righty, when I carry a pocketbook, I carry it on the right. I hate when it bumps into my cell phone, or has to stand way away from me because it's on my cell phone.
  • Because of where my cell phone case tends to sit on the right side of my pants, it was bumping into where the seat belt pieces connect. That was annoying, and it was hard to battle that to get into the cell phone case.
  • If I'm a righty, then I am probably doing something with my right hand when my phone rings. Maybe I'm writing or carrying a grocery bag.

It just makes more sense for my cell phone to be near my non-dominant hand. CSI would have gotten this WAY wrong, if I were a body on the floor of a film set. :)


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Chemistry.com… Holy Cats

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

Some of you may remember my testing of eHarmony in Feb 2006 (I can't even be bothered to check the blog archives!). That was something other than else.

This time, I decided to try Chemistry.com. I'm not looking for Mr Right or a serious relationship, but I always hope that if these matching systems are as good as they say, I'll meet people who'd make great friends.

I just don't get this. I really don't. OK, maybe people aren't that serious, and maybe they're not that interested in me. I'm not that interested in them, though I'd like to make friends. But there are some really bizarre things going on here.

This week, a guy tried to tell me he wants a take-charge woman. When I told him I am that but don't want to be that in a relationship because I want an equal relationship, his reply was that he does want an equal relationship. The example he used for an equal relationship. Referring to himself, "I might help out in the kitchen."

Are you freaking kidding me? That implies that I'm cooking and sometimes you'll help out? And that's equal? If you want a take-charge woman, you are probably not looking for something really equal… or you would have said that in the first place. :)

I picked like 7 guys so far who I'd like to communicate with and see if they're out of their minds or not. Only one responded. Seemed like a nice guy who'd have some things in common with me. Said he wanted to go out. Sure, I'll go out. Gave me his number. I called and got voice mail. I left a message saying we should plan something. Never heard back… that was like 2 weeks ago. I hope he's OK! But barring an emergency, I'll say that this doesn't look very good for what I would want in a friend (forget about some sort of date).

The other guys? Didn't respond at all. Not sure if they are logging in. One guy tried to tell me eHarmony was better, but my experiences there were WORSE. I am not sure if they've changed this, but in 2006, eHarmony treated me not wanting kids as a preference that wasn't really important to me. So even though I flagged everything I could as "I don't have kids, I don't want kids, and this is 100% important to me," they sent me people who had kids and wanted kids. That's a major FAIL. I'd rather be alone the rest of my life than to have kids or have to deal with someone else's kids, even adult children.

So Chemistry.com, I paid for a month to check you out, and I will be cancelling in about a week so you don't charge me again. I didn't expect to find love. I wasn't looking for a husband. And maybe because of that, I have really high standards.But then again, I know CRAZY when I see it, and I know a dating website that nobody seems to be logging into when I see it.

Chemistry.com, you were better than eHarmony in that you didn't send me piles of people every day who had really BASIC things completely opposite to me. That was good. But that's about it. The rest of these guys don't seem to be logging in. They're not responding to me, they're not archiving me… it's just nothing. You are more expensive than eHarmony, and I don't need that!

I'm not bothering with Match.com (Chemistry.com's big sister). When I looked at it in 2006, the second question is asked was what is your best "part," and "brain" was not a choice. I don't want to be "analysed" for my body parts, thanks!


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Can The Palm Pre Do This?

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

Well, I bit the bullet yesterday and got the Palm Pre. I was holding out for an HTC Touch Pro 2, and honestly, may still get that when it comes out and return the Palm. There's a lot I like about the Palm, but there is something nice about staying with Windows Mobile and being able to use all my apps. There are very few Palm apps, which is surprising given how long they're been yapping about this phone and how many have sold.

But so far, I would say the Palm interface is very slick, fast and easy to use, I like the multitasking, the screen is lovely… there's a lot I like about it. The gestures (finger motions) make sense, and the keyboard is small, but surprisingly easy to use. The screen seems to like bulky finger presses while I'm used to precise stylus pointing (or fingernail pointing). So since most people HATED precise stylus pointing, you would be happy!

So after 12 hrs of playing with the Pre, here is what I wish it would do. If anybody knows how to do these, please comment in the blog here! Thanks.

  • I wish email could delete from server. I'd like to pick up email, junk what is really junk, and when I get back to my computer, NOT see the 30 emails I deleted.
  • It seems like many notifications are sound OR vibration. I like both at the same time just about always. Sometimes I'm in a quiet place and can hear the phone. Sometimes, I am singing loudly in my car, and don't hear the phone, but feel the vibration. So the idea or one OR the other is NOT what I'm used to, and I'm worried I will miss things.
  • I leave my phone on all night for two reasons: 1) someone might need me and call or text, and 2) it's my alarm clock. So I can't put it into silent or airplane mode since that would kill one of those goals. However, I can't find where to make the Palm stop picking up things like from the internet all night (and making sounds and vibrations when it finds them). I don't know how to get it to STOP picking up my email and tweets, or to at least NOT alert me. The Palm has areas where you can turn on or off Bluetooth and WiFi, but doesn't have an area where you turn off polling the internet (Windows Mobile does).
  • There is no really quick way to call my favourite people. I have to go into contacts, find them, call them… I had an app in WinMo that let me dial by pictures, and it was RIGHT on my "desktop." I'd like fewer clicks!
  • More custom sounds. I can't change my "you have mail" sound or my "you have a tweet" sound. I'm used to customising all these things in Windows Mobile… down to what SMS tone does a friend get. It's handy… why even pull the phone out if it's THAT guy, which you'd know by sound. :)
  • More calendar customisation. I'm used to Outlook (and WinMo) letting me categorise my appointments, and each category can have a colour. So at a quick glance, I know if my day is filled with phone calls, work, or fun personal stuff.
  • I'd like to be able to customise my App Launcher. I can move things around, but can't seem to remove things I'll never use like Sprint's NASCAR app. I can't make icons smaller and place them how I want them. I'm used to doing this with WinMo.
  • I'd like ALL the IM apps to be available, not just Google Talk and AIM. I am now using Yahoo Messenger a lot, plus I do a crazy amount of Skype typing, and those aren't on here.
  • Google Maps should have Latitude. I'd like that back!
  • I'd like it to handle DRM subscription music because I use and love Rhapsody with my MP3 player. With the Pre, I was only able to load on tracks I ripped through iTunes. It didn't see the ones I loaded with Rhapsody. Weird.
  • The integrations are neat, but I had NO idea that when I put in my Facebook info that you'd make EVERY Facebook friend I have a contact in my phone book. That kinda makes no sense since many of my Facebook friends are eBay sellers who just want to hear what I have to say about eBay. They're not REALLY friends. And when I wanted to remove those people, I was told I can't remove a Facebook friend from my contacts. Well, I'd like to! And I'd like you to know on next sync to NOT add it back!

Many of the things I was doing in WinMo were thanks to outside apps… SPB Pocket Plus let me arrange my interface. SPB Diary made working with my calendar easier. Lonely Cat Games ProfiMail was a great email app that could delete off server. Lonely Cat also made Slick, a multi-IM app. PockeTwit is a better Twitter app, putting my multiple Twitter accounts into one timeline and giving me WAY more features than the Twitter app I found for Palm.

So I feel like 1996 again… I was a Mac user who was a professional website designer/builder. And every time I wanted to use an app, it would say available now for Win95, available next year for Mac. I finally dumped the Mac and got Windows so that I could stay ahead in my own industry. And I feel like that again where every app out there seems to be for iPhone, Blackberry, and/or Windows Mobile… some are even Symbian. And where are the Pre apps!

Will I stay with the Palm for its neato interface, features, and POTENTIAL, or will I just get the HTC Touch Pro 2 when it comes out since it might have many of the same features and interface, but will run all the apps I miss so much. The drawback to the HTC Touch Pro 2? It's not out yet and it's WinMo, which may mean crashing and instability… not good either!

It's really up to app developers. Everything I want has to do with apps, which means apps (and I'd pay for these apps) can do what I need. Better email and IM handling… faster dialing of my most common friends… a better Twitter app… I'm sure these can exist, and if I'd pay for them, maybe 3,000 other Pre users (1%) would. That could be a nice revenue stream for somebody!


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Myths About Recent Sales and Best Match

Monday, July 6th, 2009

Even though eBay's communication about how to get Recent Sales momentum in Best Match search results has been clear and consistent, it sounds like some waters have been muddied. People are confused, especially those who received an email from a software service, telling them that if you move to another listing service, you will lose your "Best Match priority placement." Let's dispel this now.

Firstly, why is this important? Part of how eBay calculates where to place you in Best Match has to do with your Recent Sales. Quite simply, if an item that is a Fixed Price 30-day or GTC has a multiple quantity offered, and makes a sale, eBay would bump it higher in search results. The idea is hey, this is the one people are choosing, this must be a good one from a good seller, let's give it more exposure. The better it gets, the better it gets. :)

So you want to do whatever you need to do to KEEP the momentum you can get by making sales from these items. The word from eBay has ALWAYS been that you can keep your Recent Sales by doing these four things when re-listing the item (as of when I'm typing this on 6 July 09):

  • Don't change the category.
  • Don't change the condition.
  • Don't change the title.
  • Don't raise the price.

You can lower the price, and you can even change the description. Most importantly, you CAN change listing services. Nowhere in there does it say that you lose Recent Sales ranking if your relist shows up from a different listing tool than before. So thing 1, myth busted!

But something IS going on. Some people who are changing services found that their items sunk in search results, and it appeared that they HAD lost their Recent Sales ranking. What happened?

It seemed that many services had set "relisting" to actually be putting an item freshly on eBay. Huh? Well, think back to auctions. If you ran an item, and it didn't sell, you relisted. If it then sold, you got those insertions fees back. If it didn't sell that 2nd time, you had to list it freshly, and NOT relist so that if it didn't sell again, that 4th listing might qualify for the "free relist." So with most tools having been built back in the day, the system saw a "relist" of a fixed price item as a totally fresh, new list… which was resetting the Recent Sales on that item.

Aha!

So check your listing system to see how they're doing it. I work with InkFrog, and to fix this, you can now choose 1 of 2 ways to relist. One is a regular relist (say you use auctions and are hoping for the old "free relist"). The other choice says something like "relist for best match." This will send your item to eBay as a relist, and if you meet the criteria for NOT breaking your Recent Sales momentum, then you will keep that momentum.

That's why it LOOKED like changing listing companies was hurting Recent Sales, but it turns out that it's more about how the software is submitting that relisted item to eBay. When eBay was seeing these as brand new items, it was resetting Recent Sales. When eBay saw it as a relist, and it met the criteria, you should be able to keep Recent Sales!

We saw clients moving in ALL directions losing Recent Sales… I had a client move from Kyozou to Infopia, and it looked like he lost his Recent Sales. I know of people who left Auctiva for inkFrog and others. So it's not just one service… it looks like this was how many software systems were set up, and hopefully third party providers are making changes!

Whew, I hope that clears that up!


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What Nobody Is Saying About Michael Jackson

Monday, July 6th, 2009

I have been watching some of the MJ coverage from network TV to CNN to MSNBC, VH1, E!, etc… I wasn't really a fan, but having been sick in bed a lot of the last 9 days, I've seen a lot of TV. :)

I have seen a lot of people interviewed who were friends with Michael Jackson. Nearly all of them talk about how they were there for him… they were there when he got married… or won an award… or did something groud-breaking, had his kids, went to court, etc… So many people are talking about being there for him, with him, etc…

But there is one thing I have heard NOBODY say about Michael Jackson.

I have not seen a single interview (yet) where someone talks about how Michael Jackson was there for them as a good friend. Nobody has said, "When I was at a low point, I called Michael because he's always there for me." Nobody describes MJ as their go-to best pal.

If Deepak Chopra or his son were having a bad day, I bet that they didn't call MJ. MJ's family… do you think he was the emotional rock that everybody turned to when things were going wrong for them?

To me, this reminds me of people who are takers, and maybe it's just part of being an addict… taking a lot from people around you, surrounding you with people who support your world view and get you your fix, not being the go-to supportive friend people wish you were. If you died today (and please don't), what would your friends say about you? Would they be thinking about all the times they were there for you, and evidently none of the times you were there for them?

Maybe it's a wake-up call about how we can be there more for our friends. Friendships are about a give and take, and the main thing I'm noticing about MJ is that while he may have been generous with money and using his ranch and material things, he doesn't seem to really have been anybody's best friend. Makes me think about the nature of friendship.


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Saving Money with Google Voice

Monday, July 6th, 2009

Following my post last week about Google Voice, I was poking around the forums, and got a great idea from people there on saving lots of money with Google Voice.

I will probably take and make calls through Google Voice from my mobile phone. But I was worried about it burning up my allotted minutes. Well, the folks in the forum had a solution, and I'm going to try it.

Many carriers have some sort of "friends and family" plan or add-on where you can pick a few phone numbers that are outside of your carrier's network, and you will ALWAYS get free calls to and from those numbers. For example, if you call home a lot, you might want those to not count against your minutes.

Well, you add your Google Voice number as one of those! That way, when you call GV to access your voicemail or make outgoing calls, it won't count against your minutes.

What about receiving calls? GV has a feature where the call can show up as your GV number every time OR it can show up as the caller ID of the person calling. I'm setting it to show up as my GV number… and in that case, my carrier should see it as my "friend number" calling, and not dock my minutes.

Play your GV cards right, and you could barely pay for calls ever again!

The next thing that would save me heaps of money would be if GV let us have multiple numbers that we controlled from one account. Sure I can start separate accounts, but it's always easier to control things from one account. If I had multiple GV numbers, here is the problem that would solve.

Right now, I have 4 phone lines. One is my mobile and three are my businesses (As Was, We Are Your People, and inkFrog). When you call one, you expect me to pick that up and say the right company! :) But if you call through Google Voice, and I don't know who you are or why you're calling, then I might not say the right company.

If I had multiple numbers, then I could set GV to show that GV number as my caller ID. Ring the "As Was" number, and I know to answer with "As Was." Ring the "We Are Your People" number, and I know to answer that way. I could then have ONE phone line (instead of three) because I would know who you were trying to reach, and GV would always take voicemail… with a customised outgoing message for each number.

That would be GREAT.


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Crazy Woman in My Building

Saturday, July 4th, 2009

I woke up at 6:something thinking I heard someone knocking on doors or going around the hall. I figured it was the girls next door. They tend to party late and come home at weird hours.

But it was 6:something, so I got up, and got ready to take my dog for a walk. We were headed outside probably around 6:40am. Someone was running after me as I left the building. I tried to ignore her, but when I got outside, she called after me.

Crazy lady: "Where is everybody?"

Me: "Who is everybody?"

Crazy lady: "You know. They are all waiting for me!"

Me: "I don't know you. Who is they?"

Crazy lady: "You know, Seven."

Me: "Is Seven a person?"

Crazy lady: "Yes."

Me: "I don't know anybody named Seven."

Crazy lady: "Don't you know Leah?"

Me: "No."

Crazy lady: "Well, they're waiting for me."

I went to walk my dog. I took her on a crazy long walk hoping this woman would be gone. When I got back, this woman was sitting on the benches outside the main door of our building. I didn't say anything to her, and she did not try to follow me in. It was about 7am by then.

I was laying in bed watching some TV, when around 7:30am there was a knock on the door… which is a little weird as we all have doorbells that are lit up. This is an 11-floor apartment building with all inside doors. I looked out the peephole, and it was HER. I stood in silence a moment wondering what to say or do. She just stood there and didn't seem to give up.

I finally said, "Please go away." She said, "OK," and kept standing there. My dog let out a big bark, which startled the woman, and she walked away. That meant this woman has been walking around here at least for an hour with evidently nobody to meet… even though they're ALL WAITING FOR HER! So I called the police.

I saw out the window that the police came. Two cars were talking to each other. Nobody called me back. I hoped they found her and got rid of her.

11am, I decide to take the dog for another walk. Just before I go out the front door of my building, I notice the SAME WOMAN is sitting in the lobby on the couch. It's HOURS later. I am thinking she is NOT meeting anybody! If I were meeting someone and they were going to be 5 hours late, I would go find a Starbucks and not sit around the lobby of an apartment building… not to mention that this all started at 6:30am on a Saturday morning, the 4th of July.

I took the dog for an extra long walk, and called the non-emergency number for my local police. I told them the woman was still there, and what did the police who came out earlier find? The woman said she sees a record of the call and of the officers going out, but they never reported back. I said that I was really doubting this woman's story, and I have no idea why she's here. But I think she's scary and not making any sense, and I have no idea what's going on.

There is only one way in and out of the building, and I decided I didn't want to walk past her. I decided that the dog and I would wait for someone to open the gate to go into or out of the underground parking. Someone did just as I got there. We ran in, and got the elevator to our floor. But hey, if this woman is in the building, she can get in an elevator and have access to the underground parking.

You learn, growing up in suburban NYC, to not have a giant mountain of trust for strangers. :) But you also learn that if something looks weird and acts weird, you get away, and maybe you call the police.

For all I know, this could be the Mom of someone in the building, and they ARE expecting her. But then again, everything she said this morning makes NO sense, and if someone is "waiting for her," where are they? Why isn't she calling them? Why isn't she using our building's intercom system to get them to come down?

It's 11:30, and I don't see any cops outside. I know this is low priority, but then again, it's low priority until it's not. I'll just go in and out through the parking garage, and hope I don't run into her. I have no idea why she's here or why she was knocking on my apartment door hours ago. And while I'm on that point, when she was standing out there, she never asked for help or explained why she was there. She was just knocking, and when I said to go away, she was like, "OK."

Bizarre.

For those of you desiring a mental picture, this woman looks a bit like Penny Marshall (famous director and actress in Laverne and Shirley). She's wearing mostly black with some hot pink. She looks relatively normal, but her words and actions make no sense. And people making no sense scare me. :)

Update: The cops came. They had no way to get into the building. No key, no special code that opens the door. They were standing outside. The desk person called me and asked how they should get in. I told them to find my name in the directory and I'll buzz them in.

Well I HOPE I buzzed in cops. Who freaking knows without video. But I think the cops need a way into this building in an emergency. If someone were being attacked, and the cops were standing outside hoping someone lets them in… that would be REALLY bad.


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