Different Degrees Of Gaming The System

Suffice it to say, many of us write our blogs and hope to find a loyal audience. To get a portion of that loyal audience, something else we do is visit each other’s blogs and, when we can, we write comments on those blogs. It not only helps us in potentially getting people to follow the link back to you, but it helps them because not only are you contributing to the community, but you’re also helping their community grow. It seems that people love commenting on blogs that show some kind of activity.

If you wanted to, you could say that’s a way to “game the system”. I don’t necessarily believe it, but the truth is that it’s nice knowing there are some people who have your back from time to time.

However, I’m betting most of us can’t compare to what’s been reported about the Chinese government. It seems that China wants to change its reputation around the world in the worst way (so many ways to go on this one). So what they’ve done is hired 280,000 people to write good things about the country. Not only on their own blog, but on other websites that even mention China:vacation sites, political sites, product sites… you name it.

This isn’t new, really. How many folks remember the tale of Belkin, a company that was caught having its own employees review their products in many places, including eBay and Amazon, favorably, until someone found an internal memo and leaked it? It’s that sort of thing that brought about the FCC’s new policy on disclosure.

At the same time, who can compete with 280,000 people being paid to say nice things about you, other than India? That’s really gaming the system, and that’s just not right. I mean, almost no one here would be upset to get that kind of great press for their blogs or websites, but at the end of the day, it’s disingenuous, false, and no one benefits from it, including the person being talked about.

How do you feel about this one? Am I wrong?

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How To Train Your Dragon – My Review

You know, sometimes I feel like I just know how to call a movie that’s not only going to be good, but is also going to be popular. Such is the case with the new movie How To Train Your Dragon.

dragon_L1500_

Okay, so I’m a big kid at heart; I loved this movie! It’s the story about a kid whose father is the leader of Vikings, and they lead a fairly idyllic life in relative cold and their only problem is that they have to deal with dragons on an almost daily basis. The main character is named Hiccup, mainly because he’s a super klutz with no real skills and always seems to be messing things up at the wrong time, such as when the Vikings are battling dragons.

Along the way he finds a way to interact with a special dragon known as a night fury, which he names Toothless (but it has teeth) because they’re almost invisible at night, due to being black, and he discovers some things that aren’t know about the dragons and why they’re always attacking the Vikings and stealing their stuff. That’s about all I’m going to give you as far as what the movie is about; if I were writing this three weeks later, I’d say a lot more.

I have to say that they got the main character absolutely correct, as well as his voice. I don’t know this actor, Jay Baruchel, but they couldn’t have gotten anyone else who could have done that part. Gerard Butler, who’s also in the new movie with Jennifer Aniston, portrays the Viking leader, and I have to say I wouldn’t have been able to come up with it being him, nor America Ferrara as the lead female character.

You know, I really can’t think of all that much more to say about it without giving anything away except to say that it’s not just a kid’s movie, which means I believe adults will get a lot of joy out of it. I didn’t see the 3-D version this time around, and truthfully, I think you could get away without seeing it in that version. I loved the bright colors, and I’m not sure how much fun you get when you’re seeing 3-D when the background is darker, which it is in many scenes in this movie. This was a lot of fun; I almost want to go see it again. 🙂 Here’s one of the trailers:


http://youtu.be/oKiYuIsPxYk

 

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Sunday Question – How Do You Feel About The Economy?

By the time most of you read this, I should be on my way to New Jersey for almost a week of consulting for a hospital system in the area. This is a big deal to me because it means that the chains are finally off the wallets of some hospitals, now that the health care bill has been passed, and that most of them have some kind of idea of what their monetary situations are as it pertains to Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements.

As I look at health care, it makes me wonder whether the economy is finally starting to turn around for the better, after about 2 years of horrible financial distress around the world. Actually, that’s not quite a true statement. I don’t wonder about it at all because I think I know the answer, and I’d like us to discuss it to see if I’m alone in this thought.

What I think the answer turns out to be is “no”. Here are some reasons why I say that.

1. Unemployment in the United States is around 9.7%. It’s remained there for the last two months, which means it hasn’t gotten any better, but it hasn’t gotten any worse. I’m not one who believes if you’re not falling further behind that you’re actually making progress.

2. Housing is still in the tank. Real estate people are saying that things are getting better because foreclosures are starting to diminish. I’m sorry, but if foreclosure rates were around 40% a month for awhile, and now they’re down to 22%, to me that doesn’t mean things are getting better, just that there are fewer properties for banks to foreclose upon. Home sales in general aren’t getting all that much better, home prices are still way down, and banks are trying to inflate the prices of some homes by withholding how many foreclosed properties they’re putting on the market.

3. Banks are closing at a higher rate than last year at the same time. There were around 140 banks that were closed last year by the Federal Reserve, the highest number since 1990. As I wrote on my finance blog last week, we were at 37 bank closures before Friday (that’s usually when you hear about more banks being closed), which was 16 ahead March 28th of last year. Also, all the large banks that had received bailout money from the government have paid it back, but more than half of those banks are recording losses ever since they left. That doesn’t bode well for anyone.

4. And that’s only in the United States. British banks are in trouble because the American banks are in trouble. Most of you heard about the problems in Abu Dhabi as they thought they’d be able to build forever without having any extra cash, investors, or clean water, let alone building everything on slave labor (no, they don’t like talking about it). Foreign investments are having problems as well, and let’s face it, the Chinese market is killing all of us because they just won’t open up; Chinese leaders, communism is dead and dying!

5. Credit. I’m talking about all of it, or the loss of it. Remember when you used to get 3 to 4 credit card offers a week? For about 8 or 9 months I stopped getting any, and now I’m getting one a week, for my business, and that’s it. Banks have learned the wrong lesson. They were giving a lot of credit to people who didn’t deserve to have it, or as much as they gave out, and they got burned. They got burned because they generated a lot of revenue that’s not real money, and when people were suddenly out of work and couldn’t pay, even collection efforts couldn’t save banks because all that money, which they turned around and invested, wasn’t real.

Now they’ve decided they’re not giving almost any money out, even to people with high credit scores, which I’ve already deemed are worthless. There are people with high credit scores being turned down for loans; that’s a shame. And let’s not even talk about how people are being cheated as it comes to their credit cards, even with the new legislation. Once again, this isn’t just in the United States.

Those are only a couple of reasons why I don’t believe the economy has turned around. I could go into a litany of things, but this should be enough to get a discussion going. Yes, some things are finally starting to turn around for me, but I never use myself as a gauge for how things are going for everyone else. What say you?

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Klout

There’s another neat little web service that will tell you what they’ve perceived is your clout on Twitter. Of course, it’s called Klout.

What you do is put in your Twitter account name, it does some calculations, and then it comes out and gives you what it calls a Kscore. My score is 56, and strangely enough, out of everyone I personally know, I have the highest score of all of them; pays to have been around awhile, I figure. Then I checked some other names, and the only person I could find who was higher than me, that I kind of know (since I wasn’t interested in looking up Oprah or Ashton Kutcher, or any other celebrities for that matter), is Guy Kawasaki, who has an 82; ouch!

Klout tells you a bit more than that. Without signing up, it also gives you the names of people who are following you that you’re influencing in more than just a totally casual manner, and how you’re influencing them, as well as who’s possibly influencing you and how they’re doing it. One oddity about that is that one of the categories of influence is “casual”, and Sire happens to be the one person in that area for me. And it will also tell you the Kscore of those people. There’s one guy who supposedly influences me a lot, yet I don’t know who he is, and I’m not even sure I’ve ever seen any of his Twitter posts.

If you register you can get other information as well, such as statistics and content and some type of influence tracker. I’m not sure what any of those things are because I didn’t register yet, and I’m not sure if I will or not. Sometimes when you register for those things, they automatically go onto Twitter and tell everyone, and if I can’t control that I’m not going to be a happy camper. There’s also the possibility that I wouldn’t be able to cancel if I signed up, which has happened to one other thing that I just can’t figure out how to get out of.

Anyway, it’s just another bit of fun people can have with Twitter; give it a shot.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2010 Mitch Mitchell

RSS For Your Business Websites

Oddly enough, I guess I owe this post to much of the spam I’ve been receiving lately. Much of it asks, stupidly of course, how they can subscribe to my RSS feed for this blog, which is pretty much all over the place, especially if you use Firefox.

However, it got me thinking about RSS feeds in general, especially as they apply to business websites. I have enough websites, I figure, but in reality I have 3 business websites. And I don’t have RSS feeds on any of them.

I’ve started wondering if I should have feeds on them. After all, I don’t do a lot of updating to those sites. One of them I have my business blog attached, and it obviously has a RSS feed, so I’ve just assumed that site didn’t need one. For my other two sites, though, I do add something here and there, and those are mainly articles, and maybe I need a RSS feed for those. After all, who doesn’t want more RSS subscribers?

The question of course is why anyone would subscribe to the RSS feed for a business site. It’s not news, and since most of us assume that most sites are fairly static, what would compel us to subscribe? Or is this a case of “if you build it they will come”?

I’m not the only one who thinks about this sort of thing. A woman named Sarah wrote an article titled Why RSS Is So Important For Your Business That You’re Probably Already Using It (whew, long title!), and she talks about the importance of having RSS feeds if you’re constantly updating your information. That’s easy to agree with, but what about if you’re not constantly updating your content?

Actually, that’s kind of the point, isn’t it? As a consultant, I often advise potential clients that they need to have constantly updated content in some fashion. Of course I usually recommend blogs first, and most blogging software comes with the ability to easily add RSS feeds so you’re covered there. But what about the website itself? Other than news sources and sales pages, are there any other reasons for a business to syndicate their site?

Something more to think about, I guess. Meanwhile, the palm trees are for my friend Sue. 🙂

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