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Feds warn against Microsoft's browser


(although "the feds" are hardly fans of MS)

Robot Insurance

Make sure you're insured.

Hot flicks in the summertime

Looking forward to : Bourne Supremecy, The Village
Not looking forward to: Catwoman, Anaconda 2

Feeling special today

Seth tips his hat to yours truly for sending a very Seth-apprpriate link (which I snaked from NotSoFast)

Bill Gates has declared war on spam.

Just the sort of soldier we want on our side in this war too. Here are his latest ramblings about it.

You go Bill!

In spite of my pro-FireFox rants and occasionally critical-to-Microsoft tone, I'm actually a Microsoft apologist. I use (and love) Microsoft technology in almost all the solutions I create. Their technology initiatives are excellent, exciting and powerful. And as a business junkie, I also greatly admire Bill Gates. So, word that he might join the ranks of bloggers has my excited interest.

Now, time for a few more business rock star blogs.

Gmail: good business, done brilliantly

Google's newest business venture Gmail is attracting absurd amounts of attention. The capacity to do that, attracts mine. Here are some random observations:

When Hotmail took the Internet by storm, signing on millions of users, they did it because of a clever viral marketing technique. At the bottom of each outgoing email they placed a link back to Hotmail. This strategy caused each email sent to become a tiny advertisement for Hotmail. As you might imagine, this technique caused Hotmail to spread virally. Each person sending an email became an (unwitting) spokesman for Hotmail, as did everyone they recruited. Brilliant marketing indeed, and it worked. Soon all the other webmail competitors were doing it too and Hotmail owns the webmail world. EVERYONE has a Hotmail account.

But Google needed to be different. I don’t know what happened behind closed doors, but I have to guess the thinking went something like this: We don’t want to copy Hotmail’s methods, (which were probably, and rightly deemed “evil”--see #6), but we would like their success. So a plan was hatched, here are the pieces I’ve noticed.

Things they did right:

1 GB of storage = a stroke of brilliance. Who needs 1 flipping GIG of email storage? Actually, very few of us, but boy are we talking about it. Hotmail and Yahoo previously offered about 5MB of storage for their free subscribers. That’s roughly 1/200th of the amount of space Gmail offers. To most of us, this feels like unlimited storage. Few of us will use 1 GB, but all of us will talk about it. As I’ve stated before, in marketing, half measures are a complete waste of time. Google shot insanely high (i.e. “unlimited”) and now no one can touch them. And they did it first. Yahoo has responded with a whopping 100MB of storage space. Sorry guys, that’s still just 1/10th! And now you not only look like copy cats, but poor second rate ones at that.

Google also encourages you not to delete things. Seriously. They encourage you to keep all your old emails around. My first thought was—why do that? You encourage everyone to keep their email and you’re going to clutter up your servers! But that’s just it, here they accomplish 3 things. (1) They make it clear that when they say 1GB of storage they mean it. “Go ahead” they encourage “use the space.” It feels almost creepy, but it’s very cool and we can’t quit talking about it. (2) The more email we accumulate, the better chance they have to show off, and make good on the “find anything with Google technology” marketing message. (3) The more email we accumulate, the greater chance we have for using it. The more we use it, the more ads Google can display, which makes them more money. Everyone wins!

Advanced technology Seriously. Google’s interface is the slickest, niftiest richest web-based UI (user interface) I’ve ever seen. It’s easy to use, full of fun bells and whistles, and makes the biggest downside of web email (speed and functionality) a non-issue. Plus it has stuff no other email program has. The Google search engine behind it, the whole technology of archiving as opposed to deleting, etc. Nice work guys.

They followed Seth’s advice. In a nutshell Seth explained that Google needed to make it harder for customers to switch away from them. Leaving Google now, for something better, would be easy. Just change search engines. Seth’s advice was to make it harder for people to leave (without being evil of course). He came up with some great ideas too (read the PDF). While this isn’t a complete solution for his advice, it puts them square on the right path. I’m already starting to foster a Google addiction that goes beyond the excellent search engine. That’s just what they need.

Finally, the most brilliant of all of it, the invitation-only signup process. Honestly, for a marketing whelp like myself, this brings a tear to my eye. It’s pure brilliance.

Remember Beanie Babies? Of course you do. Those stupid stuffed animals that became such a hot collector’s item they can sell for thousands of dollars. The frenzy around Beanie Babies is horrifyingly amazing. How did Ty (the manufacturer) do it? By creating scarcity. They make each pattern in limited quantities, they are hard to get, and having them has become a status symbol in certain circles. Entire industries have sprung up as a result of the Beanie Baby mania.

Well, Google has taken a page out of the Beanie Baby manual. Getting a Gmail account isn’t as easy as getting a Hotmail account. You have to know someone that already has one. Thinking back to the Hotmail marketing method, this invite-only marketing move blows the Hotmail method out of the water. Instead of unwittingly spreading the gospel of Hotmail, Google disciples are aggressively spreading the news. Handing out invites like special treats to the ones they love the most. Singing it’s praises all the way. Google wannabes are clamoring to get an invite!

So current Gmailers get to be cool. They get to “take care of their friends” they get to be the elite. Wannabe emailers are left to wonder just how cool it is and what they can do to be a part of the fun. The anxiety and anticipation builds to a frenzy. Instead of inadvertently spreading (like Hotmail did) this is deliberately spreading. Deliberately and aggressively spreading at a pace set by Google. How many invites do you suppose go unclaimed? I’m betting next to zero. They are a hot commodity. Having a gmail account is a status symbol, it means you are one of the cool ones. Everyone is talking about it. For a long time.

Imagine this kind of mania for your business. Imagine having the world clamoring to be your customer.

Honestly, the implications of this particular brand of brilliant has me meditating just to take it all in, and more importantly, thinking of what I can learn from this. Clever on so many levels… whoever thought this one up deservers a Nobel Prize for marketing.

Web browser flaw prompts warning

Update 2: Here's Microsoft's page for dealing with it.

Update: some great comments in the comments. I'm usually the one to send the little boy crying wolf back to his room, and these comments do just that with excellent points.

This is rather serious.

This is an Internet Explorer only problem right now, and the nastiness is coming when visiting big reputable sites. If you find your browser being redirected to a russian site, DANGER Will Robinson, you're on the path to seirous trouble. Until this problem dies down... use Fire Fox. It's only a 5 MB download.

Also--now is a good time to make sure your virus protection is all up to date.

Getting More Out Of Gmail

A full gmail commentary coming soon, for now enjoy this.

Stop the presses! Qwest wasn't horrible.

Brace yourself. Particularly those that know me personally. I'm about to say something I never, EVER, EVAR thought I'd say:

Qwest is taking very good care of me.

They are soooo over the top falling over themselves slobberingly silly to provide "exceptional customer service" that I almost dare say they've achieved an acceptable rating.
Exceptional? Not yet. That takes time.
But in light of where they've come from, I'm impressed.

Recent issue:
This month, in my area, Qwest has switched to a new network. This switch renders my fairly old phone, obsolete. They've sent me mail about it, 3 times, which I've completely ignored because I just know that dealing with them is going to be a nightmare.

Finally they scared me enough that I called. I was not happy with the wait time. But when they finally answered, things started looking up. First they slobber incessantly about protecting my security, explaining that the call will be recorded, but that the confidential information will only be used for the purposes of that call, by that agent, and for no other reason.

Then onto the phone. Here's the short of it.
Q: "You'll need a new phone in order for it to work on our new network, we'll send you one out 2nd day air."
Me: "Ok, but just a new phone won't cut it. I use my handsfree almost exclusively, and my car charger is the only charger I use."
Q: "Very well sir, we'll send you a car charger, a hands free kit, and a leather carrying case to go with it"
Me: "Wait... all for free?"
Q: "Yes sir, all for free"
Me: "Sweet! Hook me up"

Then today the phone came. I called them to do the activation, more slobbering about security and how they want to service me, blah blah blah. Man they are really laying it on thick. Then the dude on the phone was both competent and helpful. He offered to step me through the process of getting my phone set up, switched so it won't roam, explaining my plan, benefits etc. I cut him short because I didn't need the long winded version, but he was very helpful.

So now I've got a new cell phone. Oh! I almost forgot, they also shaved $10/mo off my plan, for the very same plan. Yup. Seriously.

So now I've got a new cell phone, a cheaper monthly rate, some assurance that they aren't selling my personal information to phone spammers or passing it around the cubicals, and I have to say, I'm happy.

So... kudos Qwest. I've spitted more vitriolic abusive epithets in your direction than anyone besides the IRS. Now I'm singing your praises.

One lesson? Half-measures don't work. If you're going to fix something, fix it hard. Go over the top, blow it out of the water. Leave your old self so far behind that you can't see it without the Hubble telescope. Find your problems, and don't just fix them, own them. Make them your new strength. Overshadow even your strengths with this new strength.

Here's hoping it lasts.