Thursday, March 01, 2007


The Big News... and The Last Blog Post.... Here Anyway....

The announcement of WhatTheyThink's purchase of the assets of Global Forecast Group and my becoming the Director of WTT's brand new Center for Economics and Research is on PrintCEOblog this morning.

You can access the audio of my recent interview of Randy Davidson where we talk about WhatTheyThink's acquisition of Electronic Publishing, PrintPlanet... and my new role.

My industry blogging will move over to and also a special blog being set up on the WTT page that will be devoted to the new Center.

I will still keep this blog site for personal blogging which will be somewhat infrequent, about things that don't fit the scope of the WTT sites. I'm still working on my karate and prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain blog and will post some things there this spring. It's not likely that WhatTheyThink will start covering my study of Okinawan Karate any time soon. :)

This is quite an exciting time for WTT. For years, I believe, what has been going on there has been underestimated by the industry old guard, and it's building up quite a brand, reputation and business. I have been pleased and honored to be part of that, first with "Fridays with Dr. Joe", since moved to Mondays, the economic webinars, and the GraphExpo and Print events. I was dragged kicking and screaming into the Internet by my then business partner Jim Whittington, and I have to say... he was more right than he even suspected at the time. Now that WTT's base is over 50,000, it's quite the industry heavyweight. I'm excited to be part of it.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Photoshop: Online!; Navigating the Media Divide; Media Deprivation; Other Stuff

Adobe offering Photoshop online in 3-6 months
The network is the computer is becoming more true every day

IBM has posted an essential report called "Navigating the Media Divide"
executive summary
full report
press release
blog posting that has some good insights
From the press release: ...IBM conducted a comprehensive study that included interviews with leaders of media companies and an in-depth analysis of the factors that are shaping the industry outlook. The IBM report shows that new forms of media will grow at 23 percent compound annual rate in the next four years, nearly five times that of traditional media businesses. The report also estimates that the music industry lost between $90-160 Billion in its transition to digital and finds that future implications are even greater for television and film if companies do not systematically navigate the media divide... IBM sees a clear delineation between the old and new worlds of media. In the traditional world, content produced by professionals and distributed through proprietary platforms still dominates. But in the new world, content is often user-created and accessed through open platforms. These polarized tendencies mark the clear and present conflict between incumbents and new entrants. A second conflict is emerging among existing players -- between traditional content owners (studios, game publishers and music labels) and media distributors (television affiliates, retailers, motion picture exhibitors, cable and satellite providers). This media divide is pitting partner against partner in a struggle for growth.

Piper Jaffray has released a new Internet report. Here is the press release

Vista activation problems: when the geeks who work at the various PC magazines have problems, they're not afraid to write about it... because it slows down their own work as well.

E-paper used as a keypad

Students demand to get out of a week-long test of media deprivation, lasting only 4 days
...even four days was too much — each of the students cheated, some more than others.
Which perhaps proves professor Mara Adelman's point: The art of alone time is increasingly lost in our hectic, frazzled, wired lives.

My son has an English teacher who has "hell week" when they read Walden. The kids do make it, and they have to write about it. The kids actually love it. The tough one is instant messaging, but they do make it through the week... or at least most of them do. It's a reminder to everyone that much as we love using media, taking a news break or a media break once a week can certainly be the pause that refreshes.

Important breaking news tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Dr Joe Part 2; Greenspan's Forecast; Agency Clients Unhappy; Meetings Make Us Dumber; Dell to Start Selling Linux

Part 2 of Margie Dana's interview of me has now appeared

Alan Greenspan expects a recession in 2008
"When you get this far away from a recession invariably forces build up for the next recession, and indeed we are beginning to see that sign," Greenspan said via satellite link to a business conference in Hong Kong. "For example in the U.S., profit margins ... have begun to stabilize, which is an early sign we are in the later stages of a cycle. While, yes, it is possible we can get a recession in the latter months of 2007, most forecasters are not making that judgment and indeed are projecting forward into 2008 ... with some slowdown," he said. Greenspan said that while it would be "very precarious" to try to forecast that far into the future, he could not rule out the possibility of a recession late this year.
There's only one good thing about this. Despite his reputation, Greenspan's record as a forecaster was actually quite horrible. Bernanke has had a much better record, though obviously much shorter. The comments about profits are very funny. Since the media portray profits as "bad" perhaps they'll start reporting profits declines as "good" news? :)

Agency clients are more unhappy than anyone imagined, according to a new Forrester study
...a whopping 76% of marketers had no way to determine their return on investment from their lead agencies. Sixty-nine percent said ROI is too difficult to measure.

Spectacular print ads get spectacular results
... when the results are measured as recall. Sales are the best results. Recall is not always what it's cracked up to be. Remember how Alka Seltzer had its famous "I can't believe I ate the whole thing"? The ad was very memorable and won Clio awards, but Alka Seltzer sales went down, and the campaign was pulled (and the Clio rules were changed). Recall is used because the direct attribution of sales to an ad campaign is difficult. This is why there is continually growing emphasis on the use of direct marketing techniques.

Alka Seltzer redid the ad three decades later with Peter Boyle
Boyle died a few months ago, and will always be near and dear to the Webbs because he was "the monster" in Young Frankenstein, the movie we saw on our first date.

There's always David Letterman's famous "Alka Selter suit" from 1984... he stopped being funny a couple of years after that...

Meetings make us dumber
We knew that all along because of this famous poster

Dell will soon start selling Linux notebooks!
The general expectation is that notebooks will be a lot cheaper. Sorry! Vista's OEM price as preloaded is dirt cheap, perhaps $50-75. The notebooks will be cheaper mainly because they can be configured with less horsepower than running Vista requires. As a special feature, look for Dell to offer dual-boot (Windows and Linux) systems. Dell already offers Red Hat Linux for servers, so it is quite possible that will be their main offering. Some postings on their customer blog indicate that they will probably offer Novell's SuSE Linux and Ubuntu as well once the program starts. Linux is gaining steam, but it's not about to unseat Vista. It will be nice to finally have a choice, however. If Linux does start becoming a good portion of business, I wonder how HP, Toshiba, and Gateway will react. (Gateway is the big PC disappointment... boy, did success and an IPO really ruin that company!). And... will Apple react in any special way? I bet if Linux starts doing well that Apple will start to finally license its OS as well.

Saturday, February 24, 2007


Google Solves Everything; Double-Opt-In is Not Always the Answer; Bosacks Column; IAB has a Print Mag; Newspapers Okay?; Other Stuff

Advertise all the time... according to Google...
Google's VP-advertising sales, Tim Armstrong, touted his company's ability to court brand advertisers... He talked of a Long Tail of products, explaining that previously, by using traditional media, marketers could only advertise one or two products at a time because of how long it would take to create and execute the advertising. With services like Google's, however, he said, brand marketers are advertising all of their products, all the time... "Most marketers are used to advertising just a fraction of their products due to that human scale required to advertise them"... Five years ago, he said, Hewlett Packard was running only two or three of their products on search. Today they're running thousands. "Consumers are on 24 hours a day, you should have all your products available to them." ... the company has led road shows to reach out to chief marketing officers and creative agencies to get them to think of Google products for other uses. One oft-cited example is how Saturn used Google Earth and Google Video to create an online ad application where customers "fly" around Google Earth, then through the doors of their local dealership and watch a video of the actual sales manager welcoming them into the dealership.

Double opt-in registration is supposed to be the cure for spam and ensuring deliverability of e-mail messages, especially marketing messages. Here's a new wrinkle... and another reason why brand and product support still needs direct mail and space advertising.
Anti-spammers and others promote double opt-in as the only fail-safe way to build a permission-based e-mail marketing list. But one e-mail service provider recently found its messages blocked by a major Internet service provider because of the very confirmation process designed to prevent spam. The problem: A so-called spambot—a program designed to collect e-mail addresses off the Internet—repeatedly registered an e-mail address on the e-mail service provider’s Web site. But the e-mail address was a spam trap and every time a confirmation e-mail was sent to the address, the ISP considered the message spam. As a result, the ISP repeatedly blocked the e-mail service provider’s e-mail, said the company’s ISP relations executive, who asked that all names in the story be withheld.... So what’s the lesson for everyone else? For one thing, a good ISP relations program is crucial, said the executive. “To me, it means really get in close contact with whoever is blocking you, and talk to human beings on the other end of the phone.” The executive added that the spambot still hits the company’s site about once a quarter. “All we can do is send a pre-emptive email to the ISP telling them: ‘It's back, please don't block us again,’” the executive said. Meanwhile, the only foolproof way to guard against this spambot’s actions would be use a CAPTCHA—an acronym for completely automated public Turing test to tell computers and humans apart—requiring subscribers to type in the letters of a distorted image. “Convincing people to switch to double opt-in is hard enough,” said the executive. “Double opt-in plus CAPTCHAS and you might as well ask them to do calculus.”

Publishing guru Bob Sacks (Bosacks or "Capt. Bo" among his acquaintances) has written an excellent piece in Production Executive magazine. I know it's excellent because he mentions me.... :) Seriously, Bob and I come from totally different directions about the publishing business and our experiences, but somehow we keep ending up at the same place...§ion=Unknown&page=1
The Interactive Advertising Bureau is starting a print publication
IAB has one of the best e-mail newsletters around. This is in conjunction with AdWeek so there's nothing really nefarious here about IAB resorting to print. They know just as well as anyone, especially now, that your brand has to be everywhere. After all, the former head of IAB was one of the authors of What Sticks. Now that there's a new executive director there, what's the first job of any trade association leader? That's right... non-dues revenue! It'a a 16-page magazine with about half of it as ads... mission accomplished.
The magazine is available as a web site/digital magazine at
It's rather cool. You can save it as a separate executable file, and it opens quickly and is easy to navigate. It seems faster than Zinio, using the NXTBook software

Newspapers are doing just fine... according to this article... and the biggest pain is in the big dailies... they're big so they get all the press.
(Which reminds me of an old line for some reason: never tick off someone who has a warehouse full of paper and truckloads of ink)

I was interviewed by Margie Dana of the Boston Print Buyers... Here's the link to Part 1

Big announcement coming next week... it'll be posted here first...

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Oldest Newspaper is Now Digital; Newspapers Video; Electronics Requires Energy!; RFID & WiFi Disappointment; Various Computer Stuff

Meant to post this a while ago-- the world's oldest newspaper has now gone digital.
For centuries, readers thumbed through the crackling pages of Sweden's Post-och Inrikes Tidningar newspaper. No longer. The world's oldest paper still in circulation has dropped its paper edition and now exists only in cyberspace.The newspaper, founded in 1645 by Sweden's Queen Kristina, became a Web-only publication on Jan. 1... The paper edition was certainly not some mass-market tabloid. It had a meagre circulation of only 1,000 or so, although the Web site is expected to attract more readers, Vikstrom said.

Another story about how newspapers are doing website video well

How a Norwegian newspaper has found a way to thrive online: branding

On-line coupons finally starting to move. Newspaper inserts have been holding up well, considering what has happened to other print products. This will change, of course, but it will be a big market for quite a while.

HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa Data centers in the United States are consuming 5 million kilowatts of energy per year, an amount equal to the power consumption of the entire state of Mississippi, according to a report released Thursday. These stories always make me laugh because there is the implicit assumption that if data are stored or shared electronically, the amount of energy used in chopping and crushing and cooking and flattening trees will disappear. Data need electrons! Otherwise, they would not exist! A stored book requires no energy. A stored file needs a hard drive to be constantly accessible. That hard drive needs to be powered.

Wal-Mart's RFID program is nowhere near where they expected it to be.
Two thoughts:
1) suppliers are really miffed, and this is the dark underside of "getting close to your customers."
2) four years ago people thought I was dumb when I minimized the effect of RFID on print and packaging. I said "the only ones who will make money are the people who sell the hardware"
Score another one for Dr. Joe. But now it seems those hardware sellers had better pare back their forecasts, too.

SanFran's WiFi program isn't going well.,1,2811102.story?coll=la-headlines-technology

IBM makes a breakthrough in computer speed

File this under "don't use it, you lose it." Google ran tests on its hard drives and found that its results were counterintuitive. Drives that are not used often break sooner. Heat did less to affect drives than anticipated. It's always funny how real world experience can vary so much from testing labs. Remember that Google built its initial infrastructure from equipment garnered from dot-bomb bankruptcies.
Just had to replace a hard drive in my "old time radio" computer where I store my collection of shows from the 30s to the 60s. It started to display annoying problems, such as refusing to copy certain files. Good thing I had backup. A 500GB external drive is now down around $175. Certainly worth purchasing at that price. We have file backups of all of the family systems on one drive.

MSFT Vista causing problems for gamers
Experts blame still-flaky software drivers, Vista's complexity and a dearth of new video cards optimized for Vista's new rendering technology, DirectX 10. That's despite promises from Microsoft that Vista is backwards-compatible with XP's graphic engine, DirectX 9, and that it will support existing games.
Meanwhile, games written to take advantage of DirectX 10 have been slow to emerge. And one Nvidia executive predicts that gamers may not routinely see games optimized for DirectX 10 until mid-2008.
It's not that bad, says Microsoft. Chris Donahue, manager of Microsoft's Games for Windows group, says the company has tested 1,000 popular games from the past five years. Most work well with Vista, he said, declining to elaborate how many had problems and why.

My favorite line in the MSFT Knowledge Base is "engineers are aware of the problem and will post a solution when available." Of course, I was searching for something about Office 2003.

Vista's trial/activation period can be extended to 120 days,129148-page,1/article.html
How to do it is on Brian Livingston's Windows Secrets site

MSFT is underplaying how a Vista system needs to be configured.
They say that it will run with 512MB, but most people claim 1GB is needed, and others say 2GB is the "sweet spot." This article says 4GB is best.
Hardware vendors, of course, will offer systems built on Microsoft's minimum hardware requirements called "Windows Vista Capable," configured with 512MB of system memory and a processor that is at least 800MHz. But their heart may not really be in it. For instance, Dell offers a Windows Vista Capable configuration that isn't capable of much, according to what Dell says about it on its Web site: "Great for ... Booting the Operating System, without running applications or games." Dell recommends 2GB of system memory. Microsoft may be using PCs loaded with 4GB of RAM for some of its customer demos; At least that's what Ann Westerheim, president of Ekaru LLC, reports. A Microsoft representative recently demonstrated Vista on a system with 4GB of system memory to some of its customers, and the performance was so impressive that it drew some "ohs and ahs" from the audience, said Westerheim. The Westford, Mass.-based company provides technology services for small and mid-sized business.

The software in which this blog is created is Google's Blogger. I have tried different blogging software, and without a doubt, I can say that I think Blogger is stored on punched cards that have been folded, spindled, and mutilated. WordPress and TypePad are quite superior. Here's an article about Blogger's problems.
"We know how important a service Blogger is to our users, so the highest priority for the Blogger team right now is monitoring the migration to the new platform, listening to feedback from people who've migrated, and tackling as fast as we can the little bugs that inevitably pop up here and there in a new product," says Courtney Hohne, a Google spokeswoman.
Bloggers are having all kinds of problems, including disappearing posts. In the prior version, my favorite problem was that graphics could only be posted in Firefox. Yeah, that's the solution the engineers came up with after weeks of complaints from users.

Steve Jobs blasts teachers' unions... and also campaigns for a textbook-free future. The audience gasps... not because there will be no textbooks...,129214/article.html

Recording industry is cracking down at colleges for music piracy. Perhaps if they offered music worth paying for things would be different.

Yahoo! is thinking of dropping music copy protection.,1,7452706.story?coll=la-headlines-technology&ctrack=1&cset=true

Dell customers cast votes for them to offer Linux and OpenOffice. Sure, there may be some ballot stuffing going on... I wonder what computer manufacturer/retailer will be the first to break and start offering Linux on computers other than servers. Dell currently sells servers with RedHat Linux.

Another story about the $100 I mean $150 I mean $100 two years from now and $50 five years from now Laptop

Why is it that spammers want to sell me authentic prescription medicines at the same time they want to sell me fake "replica" watches?

Monday, February 19, 2007


XRX Buyback, Publishers Step on Agency Turf, Newspapers Sue Google, Non-Print Revenues Ain't So New, Don't Feel Sorry for MSFT

I said it for Heidelberg, and now I'll say it for Xerox: stock buybacks are a bad idea. If you have that much cash that you can't figure out what to do with, give it directly to the stockholders. Buybacks are too often a sign that a company no longer has a clue where to invest its cash. Keeping your powder dry for for future opportunities is also a good idea: one never knows when some opportunity may come your way, and it would be nice to fund things from your own cash. This is disappointing. Doesn't Xerox still have debt to pay down? Sure they do, $7.7 billion woth. Is there no further restructuring that needs to be done? Is there no technology or acquisition that could sweeten the company's current offerings. Right across town in Rochester, Kodak did a buyback a few years ago at $52. I bet they wish they had that money back right now. Instead, the money evaporated as Kodak's fortunes dived, and the stockholders got nothing. I hope Xerox never finds itself in that position. The company has gone through such a marvelous and well-orchestrated turnaround, with some occasional pain, of course, that a special dividend would have had, I believe, a bigger effect on reminding investors about how far Xerox has come. Now, stockholders should legitimately wonder if the company will do things like this to inflate their earnings per share. The goal should be to create more stockholder wealth through their newly retuned operations. I hope that this is a sign that Xerox' big financial rebound is now over and that management has no more major initiatives to build EPS organically. Ann Mulcahy (more powerful than "The Oprah") resisted the advice to declare bankruptcy a few years ago after the company manipulated the structure of its debt to inflate its earnings and stock price. It would be a shame if this buyback started with pressure from institutional shareholders who did not have the company's, employees, or individual shareholder's interests at heart.
(Disclosure: I do not own any Xerox stock, but owned shares a few years ago in a retirement account.)

Magazine publishers are getting into traditional ad agency turf as Meredith acquires some agencies. Part of this is funny because ad agencies started when publishers were not able to assist advertisers in creating ads, more than 100 years ago. Finally, the publishers wised up! Seriously, it is common for small, especially local, magazines and non-daily newspapers to work on ad campaigns for their smaller customers. This takes that trend to a higher level.
Meredith Corp.'s acquisition last month of two marketing communications agencies is the latest sign that publishers are offering more integrated marketing services to clients as well as building out divisions that can help them diversify to create new revenue opportunities.Last month, Meredith announced the acquisition of Genex, an interactive marketing agency, and New Media Strategies, an interactive word-of-mouth marketing company. Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed.The acquisitions follow the media company's purchase last year of O'Grady Meyers, an interactive marketing services firm, and will strengthen its Meredith Integrated Marketing division, which provides custom publishing and online communications services to clients... Other b-to-b publishers, including Hanley Wood and Meister Media, have created marketing services divisions through acquisitions, offering services such as Web site design, custom publishing, creative development and public relations.

There's a disagreement over the new NAA campaign to promote newspapers.
But perhaps he should look at the latest data about visits to newspaper web sites
The press release about the campaign is at
The research about consumer media use behind campaign is at

Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. of the NYT took back his remarks about not knowing if the NYT would be in print in five years.
He had it right the first time. Then somebody reminded him they own paper mills, that probably dropped in value to a potential buyer just minutes after he said that.

Some Belgian newspapers have successfully sued Google for copyright infringement because... Google links to their stories! How dumb! I'd be thankful for the hits and that people can actually find my newspaper. So very strange... and this in an age when a newspaper story gets linked on the Drudge Report that newspapers hate it because their site traffic goes through the roof and can shut down their servers! Wonder if Matt Drudge would ever link to a Belgian paper now :)

2/3 of Internet users surf while watching TV

PIA's report about "navigating print markets" is at
There's still this myth in the industry about "ancillary services." I took the list and identified what each item "used to be" in the "old days" (the 1980s!). This ancillary thing is really a bunch of hogwash. Printers have ALWAYS sold other services, and it always has been some more than others.

Microsoft is saying that forecasts for Vista revenues are too aggressive
Translated: it didn't take off the way they wanted.
In a conference call Thursday with financial analysts Ballmer said lower selling prices, limited new corporate sales, and software piracy may combine to temper Vista sales forecasts.
"I'm really excited about how enthusiastic everybody is about Vista," he said. "But people have to understand that some of the revenue forecasts I've seen out there for Windows Vista in fiscal year 2008 are overly aggressive."

Ummmm... gee, he doesn't mention how the new EULA puts people off, or how in order to get the software to run well you have to upgrade RAM or other components, or just the high cost of Vista.
If someone in your family just needs a computer to do small tasks like an occasional letter, e-mails, and general surfing, look for a closeout Windows XP computer. If someone can help them with basic things, Ubuntu would work, too.
But don't feel bad for Microsoft... when people replace their computers, Vista will be pre-loaded.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007



Blogger Adam DeWitz has asked others what tools they use. I first saw his request on Steve Duncan's Lornitropia and I responded there. But I have copied my comments from there and added hot links, and added a few other comments as well.

Steve Duncan
Adam DeWitz
Peter Muir

On my desktop (Windows) I use StarOffice (the paid version of OpenOffice). I use Excel only when I have to make charts. I use 2 free browsers developed by Anderson Che. The one that sits on top of IE is Avant Browser which adds all kinds of goodies like ad blocking and a variety of creature comforts that IE does not have. I have been experimenting with his Orca Browser, still in beta, that sits on top of Firefox. I have no clue when he will release Orca for real. I use Eudora as my mail program on my business account. Eudora was just released to the open source community by Qualcomm, and I expect that some of its features will be come part of Thunderbird at some point. Next time I set up a computer from scratch, I’ll probably use Thunderbird. For instant messaging, I use Gaim, which is open source and consolidates all of my instant messaging into one clean nice window from all of the services. For VOIP I use Skype and I have had fun using Pamela for Skype which has allowed me to record interviews that I do for my podcast quite nicely. Pamela is free but there are paid upgrades available. When I need to write something quick, I use the open source word processor AbiWord. It loads faster than Word or OpenOffice and gets the job done. It has minimal features, but when you're just dumping text, it's a got all you need.

I have a Logitech iFeel mouse, one of the most unsuccessful pointing gadgets (from a sales perspective) that has been a joy to use. Unfortunately its driver conflicts with all versions of MSWord starting with XP. That’s OK because I have grown to hate using MSWord. For PDF making I use the open source PDF Creator when I am not using StarOffice, which has PDF making built in. For PDF reading I use FoxIt Reader which is much faster that Acrobat Reader. For system maintenance I use SystemSuite Professional, which is far less annoying than Norton Systemworks. I also use PowerDesk for my file management. For audio recording and editing I use the open source Audacity.

On my notebook, I have a dual boot system with Windows and Ubuntu 6.10. I have grown to love working with Ubuntu and I expect that the new release in April of version 7.04 will throw me over the edge to put it onto my desktop. In Ubuntu, I have experimented with the beta of CrossOver Office from CodeWeavers and loaded MSOffice2000 and worked with it with absolutely no problems at all. It was amazing to be thinking that MSOffice runs faster in Linux with an emulator. I have decided that once 7.04 comes out I will buy a new notebook that will be solely Linux-based.

In Ubuntu, I have all of my favorite software as part of the package: OpenOffice, Gaim, Audacity, Skype, AbiWord, Firefox, and others. I also like using Gnumeric, an open source spreadsheet. My biggest problem going "all-Linux" is replacing the charting capabilities of Excel. But I will be able to use CrossOver Office to handle what is absolutely necessary.

For e-mail I use Yahoo for personal stuff and newsletters, and I use GMail for all of my news alerts, and also
for my blog e-mail. Gmail’s spam filtering seems to work incredibly well.

My blogs are in Blogger, but I am quite impressed with WordPress and will be switching to it soon.

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