February 12, 2008

  • Dick & Syl Cut The Cake

    A while ago I started collecting up all the old photo albums and shoeboxes of pictures and slides that have been stored at the back of closets with the hope of starting a scanning project to share these with family and (to a lesser extent) the world.

    I did a test scan and post to Flickr of my in-laws wedding photo:

    Sylvia and Dick - Wedding Cake

    I’m pretty happy with the scan given I was using an old scanner and didn’t pay that much attention to my settings. I did a bit of cropping and tweaked the contrast.
    And now that this photo is out there for the world to see, maybe someone can explain to me why they have a meadow full of flowers on top of their cake!

January 2, 2008

  • Twas The Night Before Tucows

    (I got a poem from Lucy for Christmas and — with her permission — I’m sharing it here)

    Twas the night before Tucows, launched their domains,
    Ken Schafer was stirring, simply going insane;
    The plans were all there, displayed on his macable,
    In hopes that domains, will soon be unhackable;

    The macs were all snoozing, with screen savers in sight,
    While visions of starbursts, were haunting him all night;
    With Ken in his office, and Elliot abroad,
    He was checking the URLs that seamed slightly odd,

    When out on the roof there arose such a clatter,
    Ken sprang from his desk to see what was the matter.
    Away to the window he flew like a flash,
    Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

    The moon on the slush, that covered Mowat,
    Gave a dinghy appearance to objects below it,
    When, what to his wondering eyes should appear,
    But a miniature sleigh, and eight cows, instead of reindeer,

    With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
    Ken knew in a moment it must be St. Click.

    More rapid than elephants his coursers they came,
    And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
    “Now, Betsy! now, Martha! now, Ilsa and Daisy!
    On, Patches! on Ellie! on, Moo Moo and Lazy!

    To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
    Now clop away! clop away! clop away all!”
    As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
    When they meet with an awkward, mount to the sky,

    So up to the office roof the coursers they flew,
    With the sleigh full of hard drives, and St. Click too.

    And then, in a twinkling, he heard on the roof

    The stomping and Clacking of each little hoof.
    As Ken drew in his hand, and was turning around,
    Down the heating vent St. Click came with a bound.

    He was dressed all in red, from his head to his foot,
    And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
    A bundle of hard drives he had flung on his back,
    And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

    His eyes — how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
    His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
    His droll little mouth was drawn up like a truffle,
    And the beard of his chin was as white as his shuffle;

    The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
    And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
    He had a broad face and a little round belly,
    That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

    He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
    And Ken laughed when he saw him, in spite of himself;
    A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
    Soon gave Ken to know he had nothing to dread;

    He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
    And filled all the offices; then turned with a jerk,
    And laying his finger aside of his nose,
    And giving a nod, up the heating vent he rose;

    He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
    And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

    But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,


    This is the second Internet/Ken-related poem I’ve been fortunate enough to receive, following my mom’s poem a few years ago.

November 15, 2006

  • 6 Tips For Better Blogger Outreach

    With the rise of bloggers as key influencers, a growing number of smart marketers are looking at blogs as a way to seed products and develop word-of-mouth while building web traffic and inbound links. Most marketers approach seeding products to influential bloggers in an ad hoc manner — they’ll pick a few blogs, send them a sample and see what happens.

    Interestingly, there have been some very controversial attempts to formalize this concept be companies like PayPerPost and ReviewMe. All this had been a rather abstract concept for me until very recently when I got an email from Andrew Milligan, owner of Sumo Urban Lounge Gear, based here in Toronto.

    To: Ken Schafer

    From: Andrew Milligan Subject: Contact Form from onedegree.ca

    Hi Ken, My name is Andrew and I have a company named Sumo which makes modern, funky and high-quality bean bag chairs. I could simply say, our Omni chair is the most comfortable chair in the world and truly enhances one’s life! I am a fan of your site and was wondering if you would be interested in taking a sample of our Omni chair and posting a review on it.

    After taking a look at the Sumo Lounge site and checking out the Omni chair he was offering, I sent back a hearty “you’re on — as long as I can blog about you asking me to blog about it”.

    Luckily Andrew accepted my challenge and sent the chair a few days later.

    Based on my experience on the receiving end of a blogger outreach campaign, here are my recommendations should you want to do something similar (Sumo scored high on every one of these):

    • Pick Your Target — Not all sites have the right audience and the right content to fit with all products. Make sure that your product is something that fits not only with the blogger’s interests but with their readership.
    • Personalize You Message — You’ll turn off bloggers pretty quickly if you send a generic form letter. Personalize your message to show that you’ve actually read the person’s blog.
    • Don’t Make Demands — Note that while Andrew did suggest a review, he didn’t demand it and he didn’t imply in any way that it should be a positive review. Saying “I’ll give you this in exchange for a good review” will likely get you more bad PR than good reviews. Be warned.
    • Follow Through — Andrew got back to me in a few hours asking for my color preference and shipping address. The beanbag (which is huge) arrived a few days later as promised. If he’d blown the follow through many bloggers would end up blogging about that instead of the product.
    • Have a Product Worth Talking About — Whatever you do — do not seed product into the market if the product is a piece of crap. Even if it’s just run-of-the-mill, don’t do it. Only remarkable, mentionable products need apply. Sumo’s stuff is comment-worthy, quirky, a “little guy” story and a ton of other things that make it a good candidate for outreach.
    • Follow Up — I’ll be honest, we started using the chair and the original version of my review sat in draft mode for _weeks_. Andrew gave a few friendly follow-ups, first asking if we got it, then asking if we liked it, and finally wondering if I’d be posting a review at some point. He never demanded anything but did gently guilt me into posting something. (Hope you like the end result Andrew!)

    Did the strategy pay off for Sumo? Not sure yet, but the rave reviews and links from a wide range of sites are a great indicator of how this kind of campaign should unfold.

    And you may ask, how great is the Sumo bean bag chair?

    Everyone in the Schafer household was WAY impressed. My tweens immediately adopted this monster as their own and gave it a rating of “seven stars”. It was used as a couch for movie night, a bed for sleepover guests later that night, and is now the official chair for all Nintendo gaming sessions.

    My wife, parenting expert Alyson Schafer didn’t understand what the fuss was about saying, “I grew up with bean bag chairs the first time around, I don’t need to try them again.” Once repeated pleas from the kids got her in the chair she spent the rest of the evening sunk into it, admitting it was nothing like what she remembered.

    Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on November 15, 2006.

February 20, 2005

  • My Mother The Poet Goes Online

    Over the holidays we got my mother online with an old desktop PC we had kicking around and broadband. She’s taken to it like a duck to water.

    Ever since I was very young (and maybe before) my mother has always written poems about things that happen in her life. She just e-mailed me this:

    Ready for a challenge? You bet!
    I am going on the INTERNET,
    flying into Cyberspace,
    joining the computer race.

    My kids, very generously,
    provided the opportunity.
    Installed by Ken, the computer pro,
    here I am, ready to go.

    So many questions I had to ask!
    Am I really up to the task?

    But Ken, with his expertise,
    quickly put my doubts at ease.

    Compose Email, click to “Send”
    converse with family and friend.
    For info, the website is a treasure,
    finding answers a real pleasure.

    Here I am now with my biggest toy,
    having fun, so much joy.
    I wonder, should it be told,
    that I am 84 years old?

    Ilse Schaefer

    February 19, 2005