Another Friday Grab Bag

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Apologies for the radio silence yesterday; among other things, I’ve been trying to finalize the content for the next version of redmonk.com, which I’m quite excited about. It’ll go live hopefully early next week, once we square away the remaining few details.

Busy as I am with that and a few open inquiries on behalf of a couple of open source organizations, I probably won’t have a real post for you today, just the usual Friday grab bag of things that don’t deserve their own posts.

  1. Press Releases:
    Got a query about a week ago as to why I don’t link to press releases describing new news or announcements, and the reasoning is simple: I find them more or less unreadable. Between the stilted tone and the canned quotes, I find them of significantly less value than blog or news entries on the same subject.

    I understand that not everyone feels that way, which is why we contribute to releases on behalf of customers, but I personally find them of little value. Apologies in advance, marketers and PR reps.

  2. Q&A Format:
    Continue to get questions on my affection for the admittedly gimmicky Q&A format, and the answer as it always is very straightforward: it’s the format that allows me to tackle topics with the greatest efficiency. For the technical folks in the audience, think of it like this: it’s like using an object oriented database rather than an ORM layer. In other words, rather than having to translate objects into relational tables – or questions into prose, in my case – I skip that step entirely. It’s a bit weird, I’ll grant you, but you can’t beat it for efficiency, in my experience.
  3. OpenDNS:
    Switched myself back over to OpenDNS about a week ago and am quite pleased. I’d implemented it in the past, but somehow had lost the settings (probably in a firmware upgrade of my router). Comcast seemed to be spending an inordinate amount of time resolving my URI requests, however, so I turned to OpenDNS and the requests are noticeably quicker.
  4. GreenDimes:
    A while back I mentioned that I was going to be trying out GreenDimes, the service that automatically unsubscribes you from a variety of direct mail sources and plants trees on your behalf. So far, so good. After a month or two, I’m noticing a significant reduction in the amount of useless mail I receive. I don’t have quantitative metrics for you, regrettably, as I’m not in the habit of counting or weighing my mail, but the difference is noticeable. The 3 bucks a month is worth it in that regard.
  5. Spam:
    On the flip side of that coin, the electronic equivalent of Junk mail – spam – continues to get worse and worse, in virtually every channel. Even Akismet, which is hands down the best spam prevention service I’ve used, is showing signs of strain, as it’s sending me a couple of obvious spam comments every day to moderate.
  6. Coffee Shops/Restaurants Need to Think Out of the Box:
    Unsurprisingly, given my past thoughts, I’m in full agreement with Christopher that coffee shops need to be a bit more creative in how they charge. I’m personally of the opinion that there are big opportunities here as more professionals work remotely, more people generally have wifi connected laptops, and we as a society are increasingly seeking new models for interaction, given that many of the traditional mechanisms for socialization are in decline. Subscription services with social models to compliment them would be a powerful business model, in my opinion.
  7. Start Time:
    Alex is contemplating a significant change to his traditional schedule, and I sympathize. I’m in agreement that on the days that I am awake early – by design or by accident – I do feel like I accomplish quite a bit more. But at least in my case, much of that is driven by an artificial time sink: email. That channel, which has become the bane of my existence, is the single most significant drain on my productivity and the constant source of delay in the day. Early risers, the thinking goes, have a couple of “extra” hours to tackle this before their day begins. That may indeed be the case. But is that treating the symptom or the disease? I personally work best when I stay up late, and sleep late. That’s when I function at peak efficiency, and much of my best work is done between 10 PM and 2 AM, when the distractions (phone/IM/etc) are limited. Even assuming that it’s possible, I’m not sure I’d want to sacrifice that productivity in favor of a more email friendly schedule. I’d rather try to find ways to actively drive people towards channels – phone, IM, blog – that lighten my email load. But maybe that’s just me.
  8. Patagonia Listens:
    Lastly, kudos to Patagonia for taking my advice and offering flip-flops. Now, I just need to find a way to get them cheaper – especially that winterized pair.

And that’s about it. Have two calls and a presentation to finish up, and then it’s on to the weekend. Enjoy yours, wherever it might find you.


  1. I’m having a terrible time with spam too–and I only realized this week that we are losing a real comment or two a day at WWD to Akismet’s false positives. At least now I know to watch for them.

    Also agree on the press releases. They’re so awful. Impossible to read. They don’t give me anything of value; they just annoy me.

    But hey, the weather’s great! I forgot that there was anything different than snow and cold and ice.

  2. Glad to hear that OpenDNS is part of your Internet experience. Please don’t hesitate to let me know what else we can do to improve.



    ps – Never heard of GreenDimes before, but given the tonnage we put on the curb for recycling each week, I’m going to take a look.

    John Roberts
    VP of Product, OpenDNS

  3. […] Okay, these are not really Web 2.0. But so many Web 2.0 Wannabes use them. Press releases suck. As Steve says, they’re mostly unreadable and of limited value. Have your developers write a blog post […]

  4. […] came across GreenDimes via Stephen O’Grady. Not jumping on it yet, but I’m […]

  5. Kendra from GreenDimes here- just wanted to thank you for posting and for telling others about us. We are thrilled that you are finding our services so useful and look forward to helping more folks like you.

    GreenDimes reduces your junk mail, gets you off direct mail lists and unsolicited offers, and opts you out of the catalogs you no longer want (keep the catalogs you do want!). All for a dime a day or $36 a year – AND GreenDimes plants a tree for you every month.

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  6. Anne: looks like it’s ratcheting up even higher as well. i’m getting more comments to moderate each day.

    John: np – thx for OpenDNS.

    Kendra: np – happy to point folks at things i find useful.

  7. […] alternative. While traditional small businesses such as coffee shops have been loathe to get creative with their business models, my hope was that the systemic failure in our healthcare approach would have driven some to adapt […]

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