All posts by Mitch Mitchell

I'm an independent consultant in many fields, so I have a lot to share.

Some Random Sunday Things

I’ve been on quite a clip lately in writing this blog, my other blogs, other people’s blogs and all the articles I’ve been writing as well. I could have taken today off, and I kind of am because this is a quick hitter to mention a few things that have entertained or mentioned me lately.

The first is another online radio interview I did with Beverly Mahone of Boomer Diva Nation, the same group that named me as one of the top Baby Boomer Men of 2010. I thank her for that, and I hope to be able to live up to it for the year. Here’s the interview, which you can download as a MP3.

The second is both an honor and some confusion, I guess. I was listed on Not A Pro Blog by Jordan Cooper as one of the 20 Bloggers To Watch Out For In A Back Alley (at least I was; seems the actual Problogger bought this particular blog in April 2010, so the rest of this paragraph makes little sense, but I’m leaving it here anyway).

There’s a video that picks on 20 of us guys, but when he gets to me he compares me to Magilla Gorilla. I missed the reference, my wife isn’t happy for some reason (probably that “equating a black man with a gorilla thing), but I like that I got a mention anyway. I’d have commented on his blog but he has Disqus, and you know how I feel about that, so I figure he’ll see the trackback. His blog is pretty good, and I subscribe to it, so go ahead and check it out.

The third is just a bit of funny that I saw that I wanted to pop up here, though I’m not sure I’m really allowed to do. If I’m contacted, I’ll take it back down, but I’ll get a bit of fun out of it first. This is how you take someone’s power away when they don’t really have it to begin with. I wish I could have thought of saying stuff like this back to people when I was a kid; now I don’t have to deal with such things. I bring you Get Fuzzy:

Finally, some quick football picks. I’m obviously not the best guy at picking games, but I’ll have my fun with it anyway. In the AFC, I expect Indianapolis to win big, but I’m pulling for the NY Jets. They have to be the emotional pick in this game, and all week we’ve been evoking the memories of Broadway Joe here in NY state. In the NFC, man, I really don’t care since my Cowboys lost, but since I have to make a pick I’m going with New Orleans, though for no particular reason.

Indianapolis versus Minnesota would have way more back stories to tell, and the networks would love the Manning vs. Favre comparisons, and of course that game would easily draw in more visitors and make more money than a Jets versus Saints Super Bowl, but most of the world will watch no matter who’s playing, and I’ll have a legitimate betting interest in the game then (Scott, get ready!). By the way, the Jets prove why you play these games rather than just anoint the teams that should be there. No one saw the Jets making it this far with a rookie QB and new coach; fantastic stuff.

That’s it; a “short post” that ended up being more than 500 words anyway. Enjoy your Sunday y’all!

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Avatar – My Review

As strange as it seems to me, I’ve only ever done one other movie review on this blog. That was for The Secret, and I don’t know if that movie ever was brought to the theaters. I know was about to the theaters where I live, but it’s possible in the larger cities it did hit the big screens. No matter; here’s my first movie review of something I saw in a theater.

The truth of the matter is that I had no interest in going to see Avatar. While I’m usually crazy about science fiction movies, especially those involving aliens, usually I like the scenarios that are set up where we earthlings are trying to protect our existence. I don’t really know why, and I might have to think about that one of these days, but that’s usually my preference. I think it’s pretty much highlighted when you look back at my list of my favorite sci-fi movies. Anyway, my wife seemed to get caught up in all the publicity this time around, and suddenly she really want to go. And, since it wasn’t a chick flick, I figured why not.

We decided upon the 3-D movie because it was the earliest showing of the thing and we wanted to get it out of the way because we had heard it was close to three hours long. Despite all the numbers that everyone has been hearing about how this movie has been doing, the theater wasn’t packed. I’m not sure what that says about the movie or the fact that it was a 3-D, but I just type that out there.

Since the movie’s been out there for more than a month at this point, hopefully I’m not giving anything away to anybody who still really want to see this movie. But I’m not going to all that many details, so if I tell you what the story is about and you still want to go see it, remember that the movie is still three hours long while my synopsis is very short so you might still enjoy it.

The story is about a race of tall blue creatures in human form living on an alien moon that someone has discovered is rich with a mineral that we, the bad earthlings, desperately want. We have found that it’s not so easy getting what we want from these people who, though primitive, have shown themselves to be a pretty good match against those trying to take their resources. So the thought is to create avatars that look like the blue people, link human minds to these avatars, and have them interact with the blue people, learning their culture and trying to figure out a peaceful way to get them to leave so we can take their stuff.

One of the people who gets linked to an avatar turns out to be a former Marine who has lost the use of his legs and ends up taking over the avatar from his scientist brother who somehow gets killed. Of course he takes over the avatar without any training and without anyone determining what his overall mental state might be. At some point he integrates with these people, who accept him even though they know he’s not really one of them and shows him their ways. Even though it turns out that he’s a double agent, because while he’s with some people who are trying to find a peaceful solution, there is a military buildup which is basically waiting to go in and take whatever they want if a peaceful solution can be found. He of course ends up wanting to help these people keep what they have, because it turns out they have a symbiosis with every living thing on this moon and he comes to understand that, and they need his help to overcome the overwhelming technology of the military so that they can preserve their way of life in the end.

I have to say I like Avatar, I can’t say I loved it. I did not walk out of the movie saying “wow, I got to see that again”. A few hours later, I didn’t have this movie running through my head making me feel as though I had seen something I’ve never seen before. There were couple of great action scenes I’d have to say, where you see stuff blown up, some fight scenes, and some battles with wildlife. And I love stuff like that, yet for whatever reason this movie just didn’t grab me like some other movies have. It was well filmed and well acted, but I just didn’t ever get any emotional involvement in this movie. It’s quite possible that I was numbed by all the attention and publicity this movie had gotten beforehand. That happened to me once before when I eventually saw E.T. the first time and absolutely hated it. Years later when I saw it again I started to love that movie.

On a scale of 1 to 5 I would probably rank Avatar a 3 1/2. I was less emotionally involved in this movie that James Cameron’s other fantastic movie Titanic. Maybe it was the 3-D version that threw me off a little bit. I’m not crazy about having to wear 3-D glasses, and these days they tend to make movies look darker than they’re supposed to be, and I’m not usually crazy about watching movies that seem to be dark throughout most of it. The 3-D effects weren’t bad, but there were some things I thought needed to be stronger for a better effect.

By the way, I want to address one criticism of the movie that I’ve heard. Some critics have said that they see some racial overtones in this movie because, in their words, once again the white man had to save a group of people of color instead of there being able to find a way to save themselves. It’s kind of an ignorant statement by people who have no clue in my opinion of what technology can do against anybody who has no clue about technology. Native Americans did not lose in this country because they didn’t have heart or skill, they lost because they didn’t have the kind of technology that guns offer. If you’ve ever seen the episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where Data proves that one person with the right technology can take out an entire village, and then hears him say that there are ways to take people out without even needing the ability to see those people, you get to understand that intelligence and heart isn’t always enough to overcome things. I wonder what the criticism would have been if the main character of this movie had been someone like Will Smith. If there hadn’t been the same conversation, then those people would’ve been disingenuous because it wasn’t a racial issue from the get go, it was a technological issue. You people who still might think this; get over it! And I say that with some risk since my wife, who actually liked the movie more than me, thought it had racial overtones as well.

If anyone else has seen Avatar, I like to know your opinion to see whether you agree with me or not.

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Six Figure Blogger Blueprint – A Review

I recently got my hands on a copy of Six Figure Blogger Blueprint by David Risley. I read it, as it’s only around 45 pages or so, and decided to give a review of it in my own fair and unbiased way; y’all know me.

First, I want to get the full disclosure stuff out of the way. I had never heard of David Risley until our friend Sire wrote a post on why he wouldn’t be linking to probloggers anymore. David stopped by and offered some opinions that got folks riled up and pretty much helped catapult Sire under 100,000 as far as Alexa rankings go (and I’m betting Sire didn’t send him a gift or anything for it). That post prompted an interesting response back from David, which, based on comments I read, led me to write this about knowing one’s audience, and then led to Sire writing this post on commenting, which then led to a video post by a guy named Allan (who’s removed the video and the article; I wonder what that’s about), and eventually led our buddy Rose to write this. He is also one of the experts interviewed for the book Beyond Blogging. If you go through all of that, you’ll know that most of what was going on wasn’t all that positive, but at least it’s now been disclosed.

Back to the review. I have to say this; I liked it. I’d be lying if I said there was anything that was Earth shattering in the report, but the truth is I’ve been writing blogs for about five years, so I should know most of what it is that was in his report. There are obviously one or two things I disagree with, but they’re more about personal choice disagreements rather than whether he’s right or wrong. For instance, he talks about the need to have a mailing list. I haven’t talked all that much on this blog about mailing lists, but for me, I only have a mailing list for my newsletters and not for my blogs. My general thought is that if I don’t have anything different to send somebody then why have a mailing list. But this is also something that I tried to have a conversation with Lynn Terry about, and we really didn’t get anywhere on this topic either. My thinking might be a little convoluted, but I can’t figure out why so I’m pretty much going to keep thinking like that.

I think the blueprint is actually laid out very well. He talks about his beginnings into internet marketing and what lead to him eventually get into blogging. He talks about niche blogging, which a lot of people have talked about in the past, and he gives a pretty nice guideline for how that should go. As a matter of fact, while I was reading it I was reminded of something that I think is probably a major failing of my finance blog, that being that just having a niche blog isn’t enough. You have to remember to solve issues that people have at the same time as giving them opinions and thoughts on other things. I have to say that being reminded of that one nugget was probably enough for me to say that I like this thing.

He also does talk about how to market oneself and how to monetize a blog. Like I said, for me a lot of it is pretty old hat stuff, but there are some new things in there that I might have to think about. Near the end he also gives you a way to plan your blog following a step-by-step process. Now, most people probably didn’t do this when they created a blog, and it might be a bit rigid for a lot of people, but at least it’s there and it’s something you can try if you decide to start another blog that’s specific toward trying to make money.

So, if you’re still relatively new to blogging, and my little blogging tips aren’t enough for you, I think you could do yourself some good by going to get this. It doesn’t cost you anything, so you can’t use that as a gripe. And even if you’ve been blogging for a while, you might find a nugget or two here and there that might make you think about something you can use for yourself. It only took me 20 minutes to read this blueprint; then again, y’all know I can speed read. 🙂 Go for it I say; what can you lose?

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The Ethics Of Your Writing

Last summer, Peter and I noticed that one of our blogging friends seemed to be posting things that were lifted from another source. They were word for word what was on another website; we considered that a serious breach of ethics.

fountain pen
Phil Hilfiker via Compfight

I finally had the opportunity to ask him about these posts, telling him that I had noticed that they were the exact same thing is on some other websites. He told me that he had purchased some PLR (private label rights) articles and was using them because he didn’t have time to write anymore but wanted to keep new content on his website. I pointed out that it didn’t look right, and that when people usually use PLR articles that the idea was to modify them so that they would become one’s personal articles.

As some of you know I now offer writing and blog writing services as part of my business. With one of my blogging clients, I knew his industry really well, so I didn’t have to do much research with it. With most of the other writing that I’ve been doing, there has been a fair amount of research. What you start to find out is that as you read on the subject enough times, you start to get the feeling that you know it fairly well and can pretty much write totally original content more than half of the time without having to do any research at all.

But there are those times when you have to do some kind of research. On most topics, what I will do is think of what I want to write about, pull up four or five resources, read them all, and then start writing. If the majority of the resources quoted exact same information, then I would use that exact same information, but will alter the words if it’s possible.

Sometimes it’s not; if you have a list of things that have to go in a particular order, you’re pretty much stuck using what’s there. For instance, I once wrote an article regarding something called “revenue codes“, which is a health care term. I listed a whole bunch of numbers and descriptions, and no matter what resource I might have had to look at, those numbers and descriptions would have been the exact same everywhere.

I think when it comes to writing there has to be some kind of ethical standard that a writer has to have. It doesn’t do a writer any good to copy blocks of words from someone else’s articles without giving them attribution. One of the gripes I’ve written about often on this blog is seeing people on other blogs saying the same thing over and over that they got from another blog.

True, there may not be many new ways to say “create great content” when talking about ways to improve one’s blog or to encourage visitors to stop by, but that’s part of the essence of what writing is supposed to be about, that being creativity. I’m sure that someone else has probably written about ethical writing in the past, but I’m also betting that no one is ever written about it in quite the same way that I’m writing about it right now. That’s the kind of thing that makes us all unique.

There’s also the question of rewriting articles. Many people believe that’s unethical, because they’re taking one source and basically saying the exact same thing that someone else said only in a different way. I have kind of a different take on that one also. I have rewritten my own stuff from time to time, and as I am the original source for that information, I have no qualms about doing that rewrite.

I also think that it depends on what you’re writing as to whether doing a rewrite of something is ethical or not. For instance, if you’re writing something about a new story you read, and you can only find that information in one place, I don’t think there’s anything unethical in writing that in a different way; after all, that’s news, and it’s what all the major newspapers around the country do when they get those newsfeeds from places such as the AP and Reuters. I do that on my finance blog all the time, although I also didn’t comment on those stories which make them unique.

What are your thoughts on ethical writing? Do you think I’m too strict, too lenient, or something else? Inquiring minds want to know. 🙂
 

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The World’s Shrinking… Localization And The Foreign Language Web (Guest Post)

This is a guest post by Christian Arno, the founder and managing director of Lingo24, a company that owns translation services. It’s a very interesting article, and I’m glad she’s asked to post it here. I hope you enjoy it, and comment if you can.

The world’s getting smaller. Not literally, of course, but in the sense that digital communications has helped bring down the barriers that time and space had inherently created. Thanks to the internet and affordable means of mass communication, we are closer than ever before towards living in a true global village.

However, there is still one remaining barrier: language. It’s unlikely that Earth’s six billion+ population will start speaking a single communal language any time soon, so this leaves global businesses with two options:

• Assume English as the international language of business

• Translate, localize and communicate in a language that international clients understand

The first option becomes rather redundant when you consider that three quarters of the world’s population speak no English whatsoever. So that means that localization is the name of the game for companies seeking to tap into new and emerging markets. To go global, businesses must think local.

Localization is the art of tailoring communications towards a specific cultural, linguistic and geographical group. It’s not good enough to simply consider the language alone – words can mean different things between, for example, the Spanish spoken in Spain and the Spanish spoken in Latin America. The same applies to the French in France, Switzerland, Belgium and Canada. There’s even key differences between German (Germany) and Swiss German.

Similarly, seemingly trivial points can affect international communications significantly. The conventional way of writing ‘one million’ in English-speaking countries would be: 1,000,000.00. In many European countries, this convention is reversed, so in the likes of Germany, Italy and Denmark, it would be written as: 1.000.000,00. Some countries – such as France and Finland – don’t use any thousands separator at all: 1 000 000.00.

Closer to home, there are significant differences between US English and UK English, to the point where each dialect is often treated as a separate language within marketing companies. The last thing any international marketer wants is to assume that a colloquial term used in Scotland will be understood by their target audience in Texas.

The internet has helped bring equilibrium to the world of commerce. Businesses of all sizes can now ‘go global’ with little more than a networked computer and a touch of entrepreneurial savvy – big companies with big marketing budgets are now facing stiffer competition with small to medium-sized businesses getting involved in the international arena too.

And this can only be a good thing as increased competition normally means a better deal all-round for the customer. However, it’s worth remembering that a global mindset must go hand-in-hand with a local ethos. The customer is all that counts.

Launched in 2001, Lingo24 now has over a hundred employees spanning four continents and clients in over sixty countries. In the past twelve months, they have translated over thirty million words for businesses covering every industry sector and their turnover in 2009 was $6m USD.

I thank Christian for this article, and I hope y’all have learned as much about this topic as I have.

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