September 11, 2004

  • It’s Not Just the ‘internet’ Now

    I just discovered, (via Zeldman) that Wired News has changed its style guide so that Web and Internet are now web and internet.

    I always thought that you were supposed to capitalize proper nouns. And to me “Internet” is the name of a unique thing (as is Web). There is only one Internet and one Web so they deserve the caps. With all due respect to Wired and Zeldman, until we have more than one Internet or Web, I think the capitals remain.

    Referring to a “Web designer” or an “Internet consultant” doesn’t allow you do drop the under the argument that there are many of those. The Web and Internet in those terms are adjectives modifying the nouns and as such (I believe) retain their caps. Just like “Pope watcher” or “Madonna fan” aren’t “pope watcher” and “madonna fan”.

    BTW, I use e-mail, not E-mail, intranet, not Intranet (there are lots of intranets, not just one), and Net (short for Internet) not ‘Net or net.

September 9, 2004

  • Thought

    Brand Autopsy makes a great argument that what the (marketing) world needs now is “telling the story” instead of “making up the story”. Too many advertisers seek to conjure up a story to support their brand when telling the story of what the product has or can do for a particular or an idealized consumer is much more effective.

September 8, 2004

  • Hard Disk Drive Emergencies And Customer Evangelism

    I had the unfortunate luck to have my hard drive fail a few weeks ago. My back-up was about 8 days old but clients and Basecamp filled in most of the gaps.

    I thought I was in good shape until I realized that the back-up of “My Pictures” had only five digital photos in it instead of the over 2,000 we’ve managed to take in the last two years. It seems that the last back-up had been too large for the drive and it gave up without copying the pictures.

    Needless to say this is a disaster. Two years of my kids’ lives, once well documented, were now (literally) a memory. Recalling how I had inadvertently destroyed most of my own childhood pictures in Grade Three, I knew that these pictures were far more valuable than anything else on the disk. I knew that data recovery could be costly, but I also knew that in 20 years when the kids were grown we’d pay any price to have those memories back.

    I therefore began the quest for a reputable data recovery service in Toronto and after some Googling found my new favourite company — ActionFront.

    From the very first visit to their website to picking-up 2 DVD-ROMs with all our photos archived for safe-keeping, this has been an absolutely great experience.

    ActionFront realizes that:

    1. Their customers are almost guaranteed to be panicked and stressed when they first contact them.

    2. The only people willing to use their service are those who know they have something valuable that is close to being lost.

    3. At the same time, customers are feeling vulnerable. It would be really easy for someone to take advantage of you when you find yourself saying “I’d pay anything to have my data back”.

    4. For most customers this will be the first time they’ve gone through this nasty experience and they’ll need hand-holding.

    ActionFront worked incredibly well to address all these issues. Here are a few of the things I noticed that made me a customer evangelist for ActionFront.

    1. ActionFront’s home page puts “Call 1–800–563–1167 for immediate assistance” front and centre. If you have a disaster you want to speak to a real person, not wade through a huge site.

    2. The site does have lots of details if you want to understand your situation better. They offer lots of background on why they are the best, testimonials, etc. And they also offer specific information on types of drives, common points of failure and the complexity of the process.

    3. They have an amazing pricing model. If they can’t get you the data you want, you don’t pay anything. They charge a higher price because of this but it makes the decision an easy one. They give you the quote and if the data is worth that much to you, you say “go for it”. If it isn’t, you get the disk back.

    4. They responded immediately via e-mail and phone. Follow-up was incredibly professional and with a reassuring “doctorly” tone. Here’s part of an e-mail: “Here is the evaluation results and quote for this recovery case. Please take as long as you need to decide how you’d like to proceed. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to give me a call. Keep in mind that this quote is based on a successful recovery of your critical data. If the recovery is not complete, the partial recovery results must be to your satisfaction or there is no charge.” and then a few e-mail messages later: “Here’s the list of recovered files. It is important to realize that this good list is what will be returned if this recovery is approved so please look through the list carefully to ensure that all of your critical files are present. If you feel this is a successful recovery, respond to this email and we’ll get started preparing this data for return.”

    5. Their offices were clean, their staff professional. The clean-room was visible as you entered. In all, it seemed like this was the right place for my dead drive to be revived.

    6. When I picked up the drive and recovered data it was packed in a custom shipping box with lots of foam and anti-static sleeves. And to seal my affection, it came with a booklet on how to prevent future disasters — essentially saying “we don’t ever want to see you again”.

    Well done!

September 6, 2004

  • Thought

    Jakob Nielsen’s “Preparing a Website for the Holiday Shopping Season” makes a great point that site architects often forget — with the rise of search as the dominant traffic generator on many sites, it is now possible for most of your traffic will not be coming through your home page and other key landing pages. That means that every page has to do double duty. First they must cover the topic under discussion so that you add enough value to get the search listing in the first pace and deliver the value the user was seeking. And secondly, pages must convey why your site is a trustworthy source and ask for the sale (whatever that may be).

    As Jakob states: “A website is like a house with a thousand front doors: visitors can enter anywhere.”

September 4, 2004

  • You Have Bad Taste in Music

    You Have Bad Taste in Music. I don’t know that for a fact, but Eman Laerton is out to convince Hoobastank, Nickelback, Train, Ruben Studdard and Linkin Park fans that they do.

    Even if you don’t have bad taste in music you should visit the site. It is a fine example of the power of low-cost technology to create new forms of communication and entertainment. Eman has used a clever domain name, website, video camera, megaphone, and army helmet (seriously) to make something that is both entertainment and social commentary.

September 2, 2004

  • Thought

    Yesterday Apple launched the Apple iTunes Affiliate Program. I wonder if it will become common practice to turn songs into affiliate links at iTunes in the way many people link to books at