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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fall Foliage in New England

Growing up in New England my favorite time of the year was fall. The beginning of school, crispness in the air and of course the brilliant fall colors. Our small country roads filled with "leaf peepers", the name sounds funny to me now.

New England is starting to enjoy their fall colors and so in memory of cider doughnuts, cold rosy cheeks, and crunchy leaf piles I am going to repost Saco River Canoe and Kayak's fall video.

Besides the autumn poets sing,
A few prosaic days
A little this side of the snow
And that side of the haze.
~Emily Dickinson


Enjoy Saco River Canoe and Kayak's Fall Colors

Monday, September 29, 2008

House fails to pass $700 Billion Bailout bill



This just in!

House fails to pass $700 BILLION Bail out bill.

Social Media mobilized millions to block passage of this bill.

What happens Next?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Music is a Universal Language

Music is a universal language, it has no boundaries - no limits. When we find ourself in trouble or heartache the only thing that can make us happy is music. I live for music and my music lives through me, it is how I communicate with myself and others.

In the past the only way people could experience their music is with their ears, the only bands with music videos were big and commercialized. Digital Video Cameras and YouTube have allowed musicians to share their music across the spectrum. Everyone with a computer or an IPhone have the ability to watch and listen to your art. Flip cameras are a dream come true when it comes to sharing the experience of music. You can record a video and instantly upload it from your camera to a computer and spread it across the universe via YouTube and Google Video. The band that I am in has taken full advantage of Flip Cameras to help us share our music with the world. The image quality, as well as sound, is amazing!

Anybody who has a message, musical or not, has the ability to share it now. Flip cameras help musicians as well as businesses spread their word online like never before. Here are a couple examples of Flip videos:

Whiskey Change's "West Love Blues"

La Fuente Restaurant Tucson Arizona

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Dilbert 2.0: 20 Years of Dilbert coming in October

To think that 20 years ago I was a Vice President for Indian Head Bank North, New Hampshire (now owned by Fleet Bank), sitting in a private office equipped with a private bathroom, a vault, and right outside my office sat my "secretary" (now referred to as an Administrative Assistant) with a typewriter (no computer). Dilbert, the syndicated cartoon by Scott Adams, was making its debut (April 1989). Most working people found this cartoon to be really very funny and perceptive, to the point that it was almost as if Scott Adams was secretly infiltrating corporate America to obtain material on which to base his cartoon.
In 1997 I returned to California and was hired as a Senior Business Analyst by the IT Department of Mercury Insurance Services. I soon found myself living in a cubicle in a room shared by 40 other IT gurus. I was now part of Dilbert's world. We always read Dilbert, we regularly cut the strip from the newspaper and hung them on the inside and outside of our cubicles. Some Sunday strips were so apropos that I even framed them to hang on my cubicle "wall". Here you can enjoy the Dilbert strip from my first day at Mercury and the one for the day I gave my notice.
Dilbert.com
Dilbert.com
I have now learned from visiting the Dilbert website that: "The Dilbert web site, dilbert.com, was the first syndicated comic strip to go online in 1995 and is the most widely read syndicated comic on the Internet." And yes, Scott Adams has a blog on dilbert.com. Amazing! Why do I share this with you? For no other reason than it is Saturday and everyone deserves to take a break and laugh on Saturday. We spend a lot of time talking about Web 2.0 and now Scott Adams' new book "Dilbert 2.0" will be available in October. Great holiday gift for the techies in your life.

Friday, September 26, 2008

DUI Murder and Related Issues

By Richard Hutton

I
WATSON MURDER & IMPLIED MALICE

The California Supreme Court in the landmark case of People v. Watson (1981) 30 Cal 3rd 290 judicially created the crime of second degree murder, based upon an implied malice theory when a death or deaths occur as a result of a person driving impaired by alcohol and/or drugs. The critical element that distinguishes this type of second degree murder from gross vehicular manslaughter is the presence of implied malice rather than gross negligence. The Watson Court in defining this difference stated:


“The requisite culpability for the vehicular manslaughter charged here is gross negligence which has been defined as the exercise of so slight a degree of care as to raise a presumption of conscious indifference to the consequences. On the other hand, malice may be implied when a person, knowing that his conduct endangers the life of another, nonetheless acts deliberately with conscious disregard for life. Though these definitions bear a general similarity, they are not identical. Implied malice contemplates a subjective awareness of a higher degree of risk than does gross negligence, and involves an element of wantonness which is absent in gross negligence.” 30 Cal 3rd at 296. Citations omitted.






Implied malice is defined by CALCRIM 520 as an intentionally committed act, that the natural consequences of what are dangerous to human life and that the person knew that the act was dangerous to human life and deliberately acted with conscious disregard for human life.




The mental state of the accused is often the most significant issue in a Watson prosecution. Implied malice does require sufficient proof that the defendant deliberately acted with conscious disregard to human life, knowing that the acts were dangerous to human life. Thus, the actual mental state of a defendant becomes highly relevant in a Watson prosecution and the prosecutor is allowed to present evidence to establish that subjective mental state.
This evidence generally concerns a defendant’s prior conduct and knowledge of the dangers of drinking and driving in order to establish preexisting knowledge of the dangers of driving while intoxicated. The evidence usually includes evidence of prior DUI convictions, including dockets, transcripts and waiver forms which include the “Watson” admonitions if the prior is relatively recent. This admonition which must be included in all DUI tahl waiver forms, advises the defendant that “I understand that being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both, impairs my ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, and is extremely dangerous to human life to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both. If I continue to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both, and as a result of my driving, someone is killed, I can be charged with murder.”
Often the prosecution will also present evidence of the actual facts and circumstances of the defendant’s prior convictions. Police officers, civilian witnesses and/or criminalists are called and the effect is a mini DUI trial being tried as part of the Watson murder charge.
The prosecution will also introduce evidence of the defendant’s terms and conditions of probation, required attendance at DUI alcohol education programs, the actual content and material taught at the alcohol awareness classes and evidence of the defendant’s course records, including any essays written about the dangers of driving impaired. This evidence is admissible to establish the defendant’s actual knowledge and actual awareness of the risks in driving while impaired.
People v. Autry, 37 Cal. App. 4th 351 (1995), is very instructive for the purpose of evaluating whether there is sufficient evidence to establish the requisite mental state for implied malice. Autry cites several appellate cases and determines that most cases have relied on some or all the following factors in upholding implied malice second degree murder convictions:




Blood alcohol level above the .08% legal limit;

A pre-drinking intent to drive;

Knowledge of the hazard of driving while intoxicated;

Highly dangerous driving;



A factual review of the cases cited in Autry demonstrate the quality of evidence that is required to imply malice in these types of cases.

The Autry case involved a defendant who had four prior driving under the influence convictions, had been in an alcohol treatment program and whose probation officer had warned him not to drink and drive on the very morning of the accident. Nevertheless, with a blood alcohol level of .22, Autry proceeded to drive while drinking, was told to slow down by his passengers after two near accidents and then drove between 80 and 85 miles per hour, ignoring a flashing arrow indicating road construction and proceeded to strike and kill two construction workers.

People v. Olivas, 172 Cal. App. 3rd 984 (1985), involved a defendant under the influence of PCP who drove a speed between 50 and 100 miles per hour in a police pursuit and in a stolen car. Olivas ran four stop signs and three red lights prior to the chase ending when he ran a stop sign while traveling 57 miles per hour in a 25 mile per hour zone and struck a vehicle broadside. Olivas had four prior felony convictions for burglary, grand theft, receiving stolen property and driving or taking a vehicle without consent. People v. Albright, 173 Cal. App. 3rd 883 (1985), involved a defendant who drove 90 to 110 miles per hour on a city street was involved in an intersection collision. Albright’s blood alcohol level was .17, stated he was trying to kill himself and had one prior driving under the influence conviction.

People v. McCarnes, 179 Cal. App. 3rd 525 (1986), involved a defendant with a blood alcohol level of .27% and who drove at a speed of “65+” on a city street and drove on the wrong side of the road and collided head on with another vehicle and had four prior driving under the influence convictions.

People v. Murray, 225 Cal. App. 3rd 734 (1990), involved a defendant who was driving the wrong way on the freeway and whose driving ended with a head on collision. Murray’s blood alcohol level was determined to be between .18 and .23%, had admitted to co-workers that he had recently blacked out while driving after drinking and he had two prior driving under the influence convictions.

People v. David, 230 Cal. App. 3rd 1109 (1991), involved a defendant who under the influence of PCP, between 60 and 80 miles per hour was in a police pursuit and ran five red lights. David had two prior convictions for driving under the influence of PCP. People v. Talamantes, 11 Cal. App. 4th 968 (1992), involved a defendant who was driving at a high rate of speed with a blood alcohol level between a .26 and .31% with two prior driving under the influence convictions.

A review of these cases demonstrates that they all have certain common characteristics. All of the cases involve very high blood alcohol levels at the time of driving. The defendant in almost all of the cases have numerous prior driving under the influence convictions. Most of the cases involve defendants that have had the opportunity to learn through alcohol education programs the dangers of driving and drinking. Although the driving patterns vary, the driving exhibited is highly dangerous over a prolonged period of time and distance.

In summary, the general theme of these cases is that defendants, who have had significant experience and opportunity to learn about the dangers of driving while intoxicated, nevertheless drove in a highly dangerous fashion with high blood alcohol levels.

II
CAUSATION

Another significant issue in all of these prosecutions is whether the defendant’s conduct constituted the proximate cause of the decedent’s death. A necessary element in these types of prosecutions is that the defendant’s conduct be the proximate cause of the accident resulting in death. When the conduct of two or more persons, including the conduct of the decedent, contributes concurrently as a cause of the death, the conduct of each is a cause of the death if the conduct was also a substantial factor contributing to the result. Mitchell v. Gonzales, 54 Cal. 3rd 1041 (1991).

The contributing negligence of the decedent or a third party does not automatically relieve a criminal actor of liability. However, such contributing negligence will relieve a criminal actor of liability if the decedent or a third party’s conduct was the sole or superceding cause of the death. People v. Pike, 197 Cal. App. 3rd (1988). Thus, defendant will be relieved of criminal responsibility if an intervening or superceding cause breaks the chain of causation after the defendant’s original act or as stated in People v. Autry (1995) 37 Cal. App.4th 351 @ 361 “to relieve a defendant of criminal responsibility, an intervening or superseding cause must break the chain of causation after the defendant’s original act.”

Thus, People v. Glass, 266 Cal. App. 2nd 222 (1968), the defendant’s conviction of vehicular manslaughter, after striking two members of a road way repair crew, was reversed because the trial court did not allow defense evidence that a flagman was not present to warn of the repair work, which had considerably narrowed the street and evidence that no speed reduction signs were posted and no barricades were erected to direct traffic around the work. The appellate court held that the evidence should have been admitted because it was relevant, in part, on the issue as to whether or not the unsafe condition of the road was the sole cause of the accident.

III
GROSS & NEGLIGENT VEHICULAR MANSLAUGHTER

There are two types of vehicular manslaughter involving vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. The more serious charge is gross vehicular manslaughter, a violation of Penal Code Section 191.5(a). That code section provides in relevant part:




“ Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is the unlawful killing of a human being without malice aforethought, in the driving of a vehicle, where the driving was in violation of Section 23140, 23152 or 23153 of the Vehicle Code, and the killing was either the proximate result of the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to a felony, and with gross negligence, or the proximate result of the commission of a lawful act which might produce death, in an unlawful manner, and with gross negligence.”






The least serious charge is vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence, a violation of Penal Code Section 191.5(b). The relevant portion of that code section provides as follows:


“Driving a vehicle in violation of Section 23140, 23152, or 23153 of the Vehicle Code and in the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to felony, but without gross negligence; or driving a vehicle in violation of Section 23140, 23152, or 23153 of the Vehicle Code and in the commission of a lawful act which might produce death, in an unlawful manner, but without gross negligence.”








The significant difference between these charges is the degree of negligence. Ordinary negligence is defined by CALCRIM 591as the failure to use reasonable care to prevent reasonably foreseeable harm to oneself or someone else. By contrast, gross negligence is defined in CALCRIM 590 as acting in a reckless way that creates a high risk of death or great bodily injury and that a reasonable person would have known that acting that way would have created such a risk. Further, a person acts with gross negligence when the way he or she acts is so different from the way an ordinary careful person would act in the same situation that his or her acts amounts to a disregard for human life or indifference to the consequences of the act. Case law defines gross negligence as the exercise of so slight a degree of care as to raise a presumption of conscious indifference to the consequences. It is the state of mind of a person who acts with conscious indifference as to the consequences is simply, “I don’t care what happens.” The test is objective; whether a reasonable person in the defendant’s position would have been aware of the risk involved. People v. Ochoa (1993) 6 Cal. 4th 1199. The objective standard does not limit the introduction of prior misconduct evidence as the Courts have interpreted that the objective person as a person in the defendant’s position. Therefore, the prosecution is allowed to introduce evidence of prior conviction and the defendant’s attendance and participation in alcohol rehabilitation programs in gross vehicular manslaughter prosecutions.

IV
SENTENCING ISSUES

There are various issues that pertain to sentencing in these cases. The second degree murder charge carries a sentence of 15 years to life. The gross vehicular manslaughter charge carries a range of sentences from 4, 6, or 10 years. The negligence vehicular manslaughter charge carries a sentence with a range of 16 months, 2 or 4 years.

However, Penal Code Section 191.5(b) elevates the penalty for gross vehicular manslaughter to 15 years to life, the same as the second degree murder conviction, if the defendant has suffered certain prior convictions. The sentence is elevated if the person has a prior vehicular driving impaired manslaughter conviction or if the defendant has twice been convicted of driving under the influence. This means that any defendant, who has twice been convicted of DUI, faces 15 years to life if convicted for violation of Penal Code Section 191.5(a), gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. Both gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and negligent vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated are serious felonies under the 3 strikes law. A defendant, who is sentenced to prison will receive 50% custody time credits.

The real problem in this area is Penal Code Section 12022.7 which imposes additional terms of imprisonment for persons inflicting great bodily injury while committing a felony. The situation often arises where passengers involved in a collision incur great bodily injury, in addition to death or deaths arising out of the same collision. Penal Code Section 12022.7(a) imposes an additional consecutive term of imprisonment for 3 years upon a person who inflicts great bodily injury and subdivision (b) of that section imposes an additional consecutive term of imprisonment for 5 years upon a person or persons who inflicts great bodily injury that causes the victim to become comatose due to brain injury or suffer paralysis of a permanent nature. The Penal Code Section 12022.7 allegation is a violent felony under the 3 strikes law and consequently, in addition to imposing significantly more time, requires that the defendant actually serve 85% of the entire sentence. The ultimate effect is to significantly increase a defendant’s maximum exposure in cases where there is death and seriously injured victims.

Finally, Vehicle Code Section 23558 provides for an additional one-year sentence enhancement for proximately causing bodily injury to more than one victim, up to a maximum of 3 years. This section does not affect time credits as does the Penal Code Section 12022.7 enhancements.

Richard A. Hutton is a partner is the Pasadena law firm of Hutton-Wilson. He has lectured extensively in the field of criminal law, with emphasis in driving under the influence cases. He has previously taught classes for the U.S.C. Advanced Professionalism Program on the subject of driving under the influence. He has lectured to various bar association groups, including California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, San Diego Trial Lawyers Association, Criminal Courts Bar Association, and Orange County Trial Lawyers. He has authored numerous articles on driving under the influence that have been published in numerous periodicals including Scientific and Expert Evidence, Second Edition.

MLB Post-Season Preview

The MLB Playoff picture is almost set, with the National League wild card and the American League Central division the last spots in each league up for grabs. The Milwaukee Brewers and the New York Mets fight for that last spot in the NL, being the wild card, whereas the White Sox and Twins are locked in the AL central. The rest of the division winners shape up this way.

National League-

West- Dodgers
Central- Cubs
East- Phillies*
Wild Card- Mets/Brewers

American League-

West- Angels
Central- White Sox/Twins
East- Rays*
Wild Card- Red Sox*

*= not clinched

Because there is so much in the air even with only 3 games to play, I look forward to update this playoff picture next week when things are more concrete. If nothing else it is nice to see both LA teams making a run at it.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

T-Mobile G1 running Google Android


T-Mobile partners with Google in releasing the new T-Mobile G1 phone. G1 will be the first phone released to run Android, a new operating system by Google. HTC, the manufacturer of most Windows Mobile Devices in the market has partnered up with Google to release this new line of mobile phones.

What features does the T-Mobile G1 have?
Touch screen, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, slide your finger to unlock, icons on Home screen, downloadable App store and music store, Google Maps (like you've never seen before), full-screen Web browsing, accelerometer that rotates the screen when you turn the phone 90 degrees,
full QWERTY keyboard, voice activated dialing, memory expansion slot, etc.

The Android, a Linux based OS, doesn't beat the iPhone user interface but sure leaves a lot of room for customization being that its an open source platform for the community to develop new programs. It does beat the Windows Mobile OS since it's known to slow down over time, Android being a Linux based OS probably will not encounter such issues. I myself am a Windows Mobile user and cannot imagine using anything else (although Darin would go for the iPhone over a Windows Mobile any day).

You can pre-order your new Google T-Mobile G1 Phone now. Click here for the Google Phone

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Blogging and Social Media: The New Town Meeting



Last night I went to the federal public hearing regarding the completion of the 241 Toll Road. I am not a political person by nature, in fact I avoid political discussions for the most part because I rarely find that people want to "discuss", but rather they want to impose their political opinion. I prefer to hone my opinions on my own, quietly research the facts and gather objective data, but there still remains an aching suspicion that I am ducking out of the political process from a mixture of cynicism and apathy.

Reflecting on this political apathy I turned to one of my favorite sources for information, Wikipedia, and found this compelling quote from John Dos Passos,
Apathy is one of the characteristic responses of any living organism when it is subjected to stimuli too intense or too complicated to cope with. The cure for apathy is comprehension.
Each speaker was given 4 minutes to make their point. Silence in the crowd was mandatory in order to give each speaker their full turn to be heard. Speakers ranged from public officials, some from the Toll Roads board of directors, impassioned park goers who want their children to have a place to enjoy nature in the over developed mass of housing projects that has grown to typify the Southern Californian landscape, surfers, environmentalist, and Native Americans threatened with losing the burial ground of their ancestors. Big business and the "little person" gathered in one room.

It reminded me of "Town Meeting Day"which we had in Vermont. I remember it of course mainly as a day we had off from school and were able to go skiing for free. People of all walks of life would gather in the town hall and discuss local politics. I reflected on memories of one of my favorite teachers, Mr Altman, who would forgo the teacher's lounge and sit with us in the lunch room and discuss Plato's Republic and point out how fortunate we were to live in a state that engaged the political process on such a grassroots level.

As I sat there quietly and listened to each person make their arguments I was wowed by the statements ranging from emotional pleas to uphold the promise that this land remain undeveloped, to union workers requesting the toll road be built in order to provide jobs and help the economy. From the ridiculous to the profound I am still trying to come to terms with some of those arguments.

I see the blogosphere as the new town meeting. Your blog post are a vehicle to layout your opinion, cite your resources, illustrate your opinion, share a video. The power previously reserved for the traditional media is now in your hands. The town meeting can be held on your home computer, even your cell phone. Communities of like minded folks can join together in social networks, share opinions, take part in the political process.

Monday, September 22, 2008

What Happens in Vegas Lives on Facebook FOREVER! Blogworld08 #bwe08

Lisa A. McClure at BlogWorld08

Home from BlogWorld08 in Las Vegas!!


We had and excellent time meeting up with old and new friends.

Blogworld07 vs BlogWorld08? Last year CNN was there to watch everyone arrive, this year no TV coverage from what I could tell. Last year a great pajama party with an open bar, roast beast, and a chocolate fountain, this year was a scene from Napoleon Dynamite with bad red wine and a quesadilla bar. Last year, the buzz was about Stumble, This year Twitter? We were wondering what the next big thing was going to be but this year seemed to be about rehashing old memes. I was very happy to be able to stoke out my photographer friends with a link to Photosynth.net they missed those blog posts I guess.

Webconsuls.com always on the lookout for that next big thing.

Got the next big thing? We want to know about it!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Blogging is the voice of your Business

Writing a Weblog is one thing, writing a good one is something else altogether! Some people write a blog for themselves and others write them to appeal to a particular audience. It is the latter which I am concerned with, reaching out to the people so they will read what you have to say; when people finish reading your post you want them to have a desire to come back for more. Know Your Audience! Seth Godin says "You only get one chance to make a second impression".

The key to blogging is choosing a topic, once you have chosen your platform you need to reinforce it with good content. One's topic and content should appeal to a targeted audience in the field of what you are trying to sell. Most websites today, especially business websites, have a blog affiliated with their site. It gives companies the ability to reach out and have a conversation with their consumers. It is what I like to call "injecting life into your website". What was once inanimate is now animate, people can get involved in the conversation like never before; this gives the consumer a "it's all about you" feeling, and by giving the consumer the feeling of involvement you can go a long way .

Whats good for the blog, is great for the website! Once you have created something worth reading you want to make your blog's presence on the internet greater; in other words you want your audience to be able to find your blog even if they have never read or heard of your blog before. The thing worth noting is that blogging is a means to an end; when people find your Weblog (the means), they also find your website (the end). Google rewards you for a good blog and they reward your website even more for one!

Blogs are the perfect ingredient to making a high page rank in Google! Blogs are updated more often then websites which allows them to be "spider'd" more often by search-engines. Coupled with great topics and content, loyal readers equals high page rank. Keeping search engines in mind is the key to people finding your blog, and thus finding your website; keywords and key phrases are of great importance because ultimately it is those which allow search engines to find your blog and place it where it belongs for your target audience to locate your information. Create a list of keywords you want to be found for and incorporate them into each of your blog posts. The title you assign to your post is the most important place for you to implement your keywords/phrases; search engines place all lot of value on the title of your web page; therefore, how you title your blog post is of great importance for the fact that your blog is a web page in itself.

In summation I believe that there is not one right way to go about creating a Weblog, but there are definitely wrong ways. You will not become an expert blogger overnight and patience will be in order to become successful. As long a you update your Weblog often while always keeping in mind rich content that directly relates to the topic at hand you will succeed. It is completely acceptable to refer to other blogs for guidance as far as ideas and content; look for what's worked for other people and find a way to make it work for you and your company. Blogging is the voice of your business...it is your billboard on the internet highway!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The benefit of being a "blogger-in-chief"?

It was 1986 when Dennis and I purchased a country inn in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Our goal at the time was to live the lifestyle of Bob and Joanna of "Newhart" fame. You may remember this television show which takes place in Vermont and follows the goings-on of the innkeepers, their guests, employees, neighbors, and contractors (think Larry, Darryl and Darryl). We owned and operated Cranmore Mountain Lodge for eleven years. Someday I might write a book about our experiences as innkeepers, but today I want to discuss how marketing our inn would have been easier, if only we were able to communicate instantaneously via a blog. Keep in mind when we first purchased the inn our only means of immediate communication was the telephone line (and in this small town you "dialed" four numbers to call your neighbors). We did not own a personal computer, in fact, most people in 1986 did not own personal computers. We owned a standard typewriter!!

As the years went by we did purchase a PC and a dot-matrix printer! Around 1990, I came up with the idea of creating a newsletter. It was called Inn-Ovations. I was the reporter, editor, photographer and publisher. Twice a year we would create the newsletter with the assistance of a local graphic arts company, Express Graphics (but there was nothing express about the turn around time). When the newsletters were printed and ready to mail, we would struggle to print the mailing labels, debate first-class mailing vs. bulk mailing, and then we would gather with our employees to prepare the newsletters for the post office. Our usual distribution was around 2500, with the postage cost (first class) ranging from $700-$800 and after printing and prep costs each distribution totaled about $2500. And hopefully we reached 2500 American households!

While our newsletter served us well at the time (our repeat guests loved the newsletter and would actually call us to check when they could expect the next issue), the bottom line is that this process was time consuming, expensive, and really not timely. Today I am wondering how our stint as innkeepers would have been enhanced if we were to have had a "blog", that is, a way to instantly communicate, interactively, with our guests and prospective guests. I can only imagine.

If there is any question as to the marketing efficacy of having a blog, I invite you to watch a video of the July 21, 2008, NBC Nightly News segment called "Bloggers-in-Chief."

And in the meantime, I can report that many of our clients now have blogs and the Google page rank for these blogs quickly jumps to a 3 or 4, in short order. Some clients use their blog to share news about their businesses, some for commenting on local or national news items, some to post short and timely articles about their field of expertise. I regularly read some of our innkeeper clients' blogs and I have come to learn the award winning Lodge at Moosehead Lake is "going green" by installing an outdoor wood furnace which will greatly reduce innkeepers Linda and Dennis Bortis' dependence on heating oil; Alice and Len Schiller, owners of the Inn at Stockbridge, just completed their 14th summer as innkeepers and over at Hartstone Inn their sous chef, Zeph Belanger, was named first runner up in a state-wide Maine lobster cooking competition, while innkeepers Michael and Mary Jo Salmon celebrated their 10th anniversary as innkeepers this past May. All great stuff from these innkeepers, each a blogger in chief.

Since I am Webconsuls' Saturday blogger, I like to provide you with some lighthearted humor. In preparing my blog I decided to see if Cranmore Mountain Lodge's present innkeepers have a blog. Guess what? They do. Here is a link to their blog. Enjoy!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Google AdWords- Demographic Bidding

Demographic bidding is now available on select sites in the Google content network. Demographic bidding helps you display your ads to specific gender and age segments on some sites in the Google content network, giving you more control over who your audience is and greater insight into how your ads perform with those audiences.

There are two ways you can use demographic bidding. First, you can modify your bids for a particular audience segment, such as increasing your bid for 18-24 year-olds and males. Second, you can exclude certain demographic groups from seeing your ads if they aren't meeting your ROI goals.

As a result, you can then run reports specific to these defined groups. These reports can show you campaign performance metrics (including impressions, clicks, CTR, and conversion data) by the age and gender of the users who saw your ad.

The only problem is, as I have mentioned in earlier posts, the Content Network is not the most effective tool and the majority of our clients do not use it. Moreover, this whole concept does not apply to the 'search' feature and as a result is limited in its usefulness.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld

Microsoft signed Jerry Seinfeld to do advertisements with Bill Gates almost two weeks ago. This is Microsoft's attempt to show how Windows connects everyday common people through a series of dry humor comedy. This campaign is a part of approximately $300 million overall investment developed by edgy ad shop Crispin, Porter and Bogusky. Jerry Seinfeld earned $10Million dollars from the first ad alone, which is 3% of Microsoft's annual advertising budget alone.

The videos will probably not benefit Microsoft at all considering this is their first attempt to compete with Apple's videos which get straight to the point. Apple's advertisements concentrated on comparison of Apple vs PC where as Microsoft's attempt so far is well, umm, no words to describe it really.

According to an article by Reuters, "Microsoft said the commercial is part of a broader, long-term initiative to change consumers' perception of Windows, which will include setting up a retail corner at several hundred Best Buy and Circuit City stores staffed by "Windows Gurus" to explain the benefits of Windows."

Here are the first two ads:



Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Content Management

We regularly get requests from clients and prospective clients who say that they want a content management system for their web site. However we find that few clients that take the time to manage their content.

Some our clients do take the time to update their web sites. However, more often than not, the content is not updated as the client is too busy running a business to do the updating.

Content management systems require extra work to set up when compared to a web site that is updated by web development professionals. Search engines may have issues with finding all of the content. And if the updated content is not proofed, it can contain embarrassing errors.

This is not to say that content management systems are useless, only that if you want one you need to have the time and discipline to use it. Properly done a user updated web site can provide up to date information and fresh content which grows and grows providing rich source material for search engines.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

For Halloween I am Going to be Seth Godin: A Story of Social Media and the Long Tail


It's an unlikely tale but I assure you it is all true. It all started when Darin went out and bought this odd contraption to cut his hair. Sunday morning he announced he was going to give it a go out on the patio and cut his hair all on his own. "What do you think?", he asked. "Sure", I grabbed my coffee, shielding it from potential flying hairs and sat up wind to watch the show.

It was actually going quite well. All the tension had left my body and I was resigned to see a normal looking hair cut at the end of this process. Then I heard a click and saw the huge chunk of hair sliced right out of the middle of Darin's head.

It was the point of no return. He had to shave the remaining hair.

We laughed. I said, "You look like Seth Godin." We took his picture. We laughed again. He said, "I should be Seth Godin for Halloween."

Then Darin does what Darin does every time he gets a hold of a goofy picture of himself. He posted it on the internet. Actually, he posted it just once, to ping.fm, titling the post "For Halloween I am going to be Seth Godin". Ping.fm is a new service which will deliver posts to a long and growing list of blogs, microblogs and social sites.

The next day we googled "for Halloween I am going to be Seth Godin". The results are interesting.

"for Halloween I am going to be Seth Godin" with quotations filled the first page with results from his social sites.

for Halloween I am going to be Seth Godin (with no quotations)
Out of 4,190 results 3 of the first page results point to to Darin's social sites.

Our intention was not to rank for these keywords, but what these results illustrate and remind us is that by using the "long tail", optimizing for keyword phrases we can build traffic sources with our blogs and social sites by titling our posts with keyword rich phrases.

For those who would like a little more information on the theory of the long tail and how it applies to SEO here is a video from one of my favorite experts in the field, Avinash Kaushik.


When you are posting to your social media sites and writing blog posts remember the long tail. Your blog titles are important and over time can develop into a key component of your online success.
  • What is the single question or problem your customer might be posing to Google?
  • Are you using the language of your customers?
  • Can you formulate an interesting story around it?
Your social media sites serve as another entry way to your website and by titling your posts with keyword rich phrases you can grow a nice long tail.

I will be waiting for Darin's hair to grow back. For more niche specific advice for how you can grow your long tail with social media contact us at Webconsuls.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Joy of XML using Google Reader



This weekend I was asked by a friend, "Darin how do you keep up with all the blogs that you read, and all of the news sites that you frequent?" I use Google Reader http://google.com/reader. Watch the above video and then bookmark http://www.webconsuls.com/blog/atom.xml our "Feed"

Want to check out and subscribe to my shared items? To take a look at them, visit my shared items page: http://www.google.com/reader/shared/18337806966613451330

Got a great feed to share?

We would love to see it.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Photosynth for Aneurysm-Stroke.com at UCLA



On a recent Webconsuls trip to UCLA we got the chance to shoot the above Photosynth for the Division of Interventional Neuroradiology. This new state of the art biplane angiographic equipment with 3D capabilities and unique CT incorporated software will allow the Dr.'s at UCLA to have immediate image and CT scans after treatment. Thus avoiding additional transportation of the patient. The high-resolution angiographic equipment and new CT capabilities at UCLA, in conjunction with the world-wide recognized UCLA endovascular team experience, place the new Ronald Reagan Hospital at the forefront of advances in the treatment of stroke, aneurysms, and vascular malformations.

Got Cutting Edge Tech?

We would love to help you show it off.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Editing...only remember the good stuff

Dennis and Judy at La Fuente Restaurant
For years I was a fan of the television show "Everybody Loves Raymond". Even today if I just want to take a break I might tune in to watch a rerun of this show. One of my favorite episodes was #171 which first aired in 2003. If you are a fan, you might remember "Robert's Wedding" as a day when Marie Barone (Robert's mother)interrupts the wedding ceremony as the minister asks if anyone knows of a reason why Robert and Amy should not be married. Later at the reception Raymond is asked to give a toast which was probably one of the most touching scenes of the entire series. Referring to his mother's interruption of the wedding ceremony, Raymond opens his toast by saying: "I think I know one thing that can make this day all better...editing. When all is said and done we will only remember the good stuff. I think you're gonna remember about today what you want to remember."

Editing as defined by Websters means:1 a: to prepare (as literary material) for publication or public presentation b: to assemble (as a moving picture or tape recording) by cutting and rearranging c: to alter, adapt, or refine especially to bring about conformity to a standard or to suit a particular purpose .

Editing as it applies to your website can be critical. Your text, photos, videos, and documents should all be carefully reviewed. This process takes time and almost always requires the efforts of more than one person, as we all know after you look at text long enough your eye doesn't catch all of the misspellings, grammatical mistakes, etc. The same applies to photo and video editing. Photos and videos are powerful. Original unedited photos or videos can make us laugh out loud or cry. Perhaps that is why Google videos and YouTube are so successful. We can see people at their best and worst, for the most part unedited.

Recently Webconsuls was asked to make some videos of the mariachi performers at La Fuente Restaurant in Tucson, AZ. The stage area is almost completely surrounded by dining tables and walking paths for the waitstaff and guests. Try as I might, everytime I would try to shoot a video people, other than the musicians, would come into the field of view. But I videoed about eight songs and sent them to our SMO specialist to "edit." Much to my surprise he decided to put up all of the videos on Google videos and one in particular is very comical. The song being performed is Guadalajara. As you watch this "unedited" version you will see patrons and staff cross in front of the stage, then suddenly the parking lot security guard comes into view and stops in front of the performers to "check out" the tip basket. It gets better. Within a few seconds, Dennis, my husband, gets up from his table and proceeds to walk to the tip basket to make a donation! By now I just keep shooting only to see the security guard come back through camera's angle of view "dancing" to the music.

To appreciate the art of editing, I invite you to preview both videos. Here is a link to the unedited version and here is a link to the edited version of this performance. Editing...only remembering the good stuff. This weekend we will update La Fuente Restaurant's website to include the "edited" version of Guadalajara. I hope you will visit their site. La Fuente has been in business since 1959 and has a colorful history.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Randy Pausch - Time Management



I am sure most people by now have at least heard of Randy Pausch's story, and his famous book/lecture, The Last Lecture. If not here is a link to the you tube video, viewed about 7 million times- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji5_MqicxSo In short, its a story of a professor of virtual reality with Pancreatic cancer lecturing on achieving your dreams and how to live. He has just passed away a month or so ago.

Today I wanted to bring to any one's attention who was inspired by Randy's story and lecture a video of another talk I wasn't aware of until yesterday called Time Management. This is another lecture format video.

For those of us who feel helped by a this man, a stranger to most, any material is welcomed.

Webconsuls would like to wish his family well.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Importance of W3C Validation

W3C Validation Most people don't understand the importance of having a website that is W3C Validated. Having your website validated can increase your listings on SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Its a great tool for SEO, it allows search engines to read through your website without coming across any errors.

W3C Validation is also important when it comes to software for people with disabilities. A W3C validated website allows those with disabilities such as the hearing impaired or vision impaired to browse through your website with ease. Allowing their software to read what images you have posted or maybe a description of a video you may have on a website so the hearing impaired can still follow the video.

Is your website validated? http://validator.w3.org/

Contact us today to see how Webconsuls can validate and optimize your website.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Protect Your Pool, Your Family, Your Deck

Traditional pool safety covers require anchor points to be drilled into your pool deck, which creates a safety hazard from the bolts and causes discoloration and cracks.

The Octopus pool cover frame works with both in-ground and on-ground pools and does not require bolts and anchors. It's easy to assemble and use. After connecting the frame elements (made of galvanized steel or optional stainless steel), attach the cover and place over the pool.

The Octopus pool cover safety frame meets ASTM-S1346-91 standards for pool safety covers. It has been successfully tested to remain secure in place in winds up to hurricane strength

The Octopus is available in a variety of attractive colors, including standard galvanized steel, plus Ultramarine Blue, Emerald Green, Midnight Black, and the Bright Silver of stainless steel on request. A standard size fits almost any pool. ThOctopus can even spread out to cover odd shapes.

The Octopus pool cover safety frame makes your pool safe without deck damage or drilling. It is a safe, secure and easy-to-use way to protect your pool, your family, and your deck.

You can find out more about the Octopus pool cover safety frame by visiting their website http://www.octopuspool.com/

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Website Optimizer: Website Design for Your Customers



Website Optimizer gives us the opportunity to create different versions of our website pages and to test how they are received by actual visitors. There are many well documented design theories out there. If you want to move past theories and test your actual visitors going to your pages Website Optimizer is the tool with which to do it.

Color Theory Color theories, which colors will appeal to your audience and have a specific affect or mood. As fascinating as color theory is, it can feel about as scientific as a horoscope. Cultural differences, variations of shades, and the ebb and flow of fashion can be influential in shaping a viewers perception of your color scheme.

Eyetracking Human testing has established that content with pictures of people appears more professional to viewers of websites. Eyetracking studies have collected results which indicate that viewers are drawn to the line of site of the person in the picture. If you want to highlight specific text or a call to action on your site it is recommended that you use pictures in which the person is looking towards that text or call to action.

Unlike print work, where you would choose your paper stock and give a final okay to the printer before production, in website design we do not have control over the final viewing. Different computer operating systems, different browsers, and even different levels of technical proficiency on the part of the viewer are variables we have no control over.

As we make changes to our website how can we be sure that the results from the changes are not due to seasonal changes, adword campaigns, social media posts or a variety of other variables? There are so many interacting variables.

Website Optimizer allows for a more truly scientific experiment. Visitors are randomly sent to the different versions of the same page and their activities can be tracked and data collected to make your design decisions based on the visitors' actual response to your website and the actions you wish to encourage. No theory!

If you would like to look into staging a truly scientific experiment with your website design we would be glad to help.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Honda Civic GX, The Poster Child Of The Pickens Plan



In a recent TV spot from "the Pickens Plan" famous oilman T-Bone Pickens tells us how Iran is switching its vehicles to run on clean burning, abundant, Natural Gas. Next up at the Democratic and Republican conventions, Where our future leaders tell us that they too believe in clean burning natural gas.

Nice to see our major parties come to the same conclusion we did years ago, Lisa and I are the proud owners of a 2008 Honda Civic GX, and this in not our first CNG powered auto. We traded in our 2001 GX for this one after 200,000 miles.

Why should you care what your marketing team drives to get the milk? It is another example of where we were ahead of the curve, and yet another example of our full forward focus in action.

Does your business need help getting ahead of the curve? We can help.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Battle for You: In the Age of Digital Convergence

The Battle for You In the Age of Digital Convergence

"Genuine intellectual curiosity is the attribute established brands need to be successful in the blogosphere."
- Geoffrey Moore

With every second that passes the world changes, something new and exciting is created or an idea is set into motion that will forever alter how human beings live their life and interact with each other. In the past sixty years a flood of, what would seem to most, irrational ideas have been used as stepping stones to create the most rational and useful technologies that we enjoy in our life. Radio started the information age, followed by television, and now the world world-wide-web; but, kindred spirits either join together or they kill each other, leaving yesterday's trend behind.

I believe the biggest complaint about television is the lack of interaction in every respect; both commercial and entertainment aspects of television have a human element missing. Human beings have a drive to be involved in everything they lay their eyes on. Internet has provided the ability for the consumer to have a say in what they see and do, the Internet is a means for people to be a part of a growing network with limitless possibilities. It was hard to see at first with the early Internet, but the possibility has always been there waiting to bloom; for a long time the Internet (WEB 1.0) was like T.V., it was just something to look at with many more channels. WEB 2.0 is a totally different ball game, we the people are the players and the umpires - It's About You!

Social Media is what the Internet is all about, a global village of people sharing ideas, information, and art. Not only individuals, business' (large and small) are working towards going interactive; through blogging and social networks the world is getting smaller and the possibilities are becoming greater. This revolution has forced television to jump on the train or be left behind; the fact is that people can meet their communication and entertainment needs from one central location. The Internet has given everyone a voice and audience to listen, companies can advertise, sell, and interact with the consumer in a way that T.V can't provide.

Today, your computer is a portal for all of your day to day media and communication tools to connect with the web. The time has come to join up with social networks and blog circles, this will increase your presence and network; whether for business or pleasure, I believe it will be worth your time to move with the Internet and not against it. Experience the world in the way that you want, at your desired pace; the Internet is no longer growing with you, transversely you're growing with the Internet. The Internet has already started anticipating your next move and remembers what you are interested in; your computer is no longer an extension of you, rather you are an extension of your computer!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Connecting with Photos and Videos

Mexican fence post cactus in bloom
You can write great text for your website and the search engines will crawl your site. Hopefully the search engines will like your text, consider it new and unique, but the bottom line is when the human being clicks on your site they usually look at the photos or videos first. Why is this? To my way of thinking it is human nature. We are looking for a connection and our brains focus first on photos and videos. It is a quicker connection. Viewing a photo about a product or service is sometimes easier than taking the time to read. The photo to the left was taken on 9/5/08 at 7:00AM. By 10:00AM the flower had closed, never to reopen again. I could write an essay about this cactus, but the image tells you all you need to know. One moment in time!

Let's face it, we use photos and videos throughout our daily life. When tragedy strikes some of the first items that people will try to save are their photos and videos. The photos and videos help to validate one's heritage and existence. This phenomenon might explain why those of us who grew up being filmed by our parents using a Bell & Howell 8mm now spend an excessive amount of time and money to have these old films converted to DVDs. And so it is when you use photos and videos on your website. The site and the services/products become tangible.

For almost ten years Webconsuls has worked with their clients to provide original photos that can tell the story. Furthermore, we sometimes were given videos or slide shows to work with; however, this medium was in its infancy stage on the internet. Enter Google videos and YouTube.

In a recent article from Site Pro News, Randy Zlobec states, "On YouTube alone (which accounts for more than ninety-eight percent of the videos viewed via Google), more than eighty-two million people watched over four billion videos last year. That makes YouTube both the top video sharing site and the top video search engine. YouTube receives as much as thirteen hours of new user-submitted video every minute, and more than fifty percent of the people watching videos online share links with other people. So, getting a good YouTube ranking could be an important way to bring people to your site."

If you are interested in having Webconsuls create a video for your site, remember this can be accomplished by using still photos. We invite you to look at two samples: Saco River Canoe & Kayak's Fall Color on the Saco River (this video also provides closed captions) or Cottonwood de Tucson's Equine Therapy for Addiction Recovery (this video includes original music specifically written for the video).

Check back next week for a short discussion on editing!

Friday, September 5, 2008

NFL Football 2008-09 Picks and Preview

Do you remember who won the Superbowl last year?

The new NFL schedule kicked off last night between the Washington Redskins and the Defending Champion NY Giants. The final score ended, Giants 16 Skins 7- all of the scoring which was in the 1st half.

Here are my picks for the upcoming year"

AFC:
East- Patriots
North- Steelers
South- Jags
West- Chargers

NFC:
East- Cowboys
North- Vikings
South- Panthers
West- Cardinals

Superbowl: Jags over Cowboys

Those are my picks- Sunday is the 1st full day of games. Enjoy the new season, it will be a good one with the AFC as open as it has been in years mainly do to injuries. The Carolina Panthers are my comeback team of the year and yes, the Jacksonville Jags finally breakthrough the Patriots/Colts impenetrable wall to make the big dance this year. Its all about defense.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

IE, Firefox, Opera , now Google Chrome



Google has had a relationship with Mozilla Firefox for quite sometime and now they decided to branch off and get in to the desktop applications at a larger level. Firefox lead engineer Ben Goodger began working on the Google Chrome project two years ago where at that point, he stopped contributing to Firefox. Firefox see's Chrome as another competitor in the industry, and why shouldn't they, its Google.

Chrome is designed to have more application related websites run smooth giving each browser tab its own run-time environment so if one tab crashes, you can still continue to browse other websites in separate tabs.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

More than SEO

Webconsuls Greater than SEO 
The Internet today offers several avenues for exposure beyond traditional Search Engine Optimization. Working in concert with a firm that has expertise in these avenues can increase visibility, search engine rankings, and business. These avenues are often considered part of Social Marketing.

One is to use the Internet to publish articles. You write the article and your web development company publishes it on a myriad of Internet sites. Well written and interesting articles can not only get wide circulation, but enhance your reputation as well.

A second way is to use blogs. The web development company would set up the blog and you regularly add content. Done correctly, the blog pages that you add would get wide and fast circulation.

You might consider adding video content to your site. Relatively inexpensive equipment is available to take acceptable videos. You may already have suitable equipment. Well done videos are interesting content which can be publicized them on the Internet. There is also much less competition for videos. For one client's main keyword there were over 750,000 pages indexed by Google, and less that 175 videos.

Webconsuls, LLC We are a web site development company with expertise and experience in designing and building web sites, in Search Engine Optimization, and in Social Marketing.

Webconsuls > SEO

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Google Chrome - Google Fires a Shot in the Browser Wars

In the Google way, they announce this product with a comic book, but this is not about your kids going to Webkinz this is about how the internet has itself turned into the application, and Google gets it. Gmail, Calendar, Documents, Photo, RSS, and Vids should not be sitting on a computer in your office that, will break, may become infected with a virus, and finally will become obsolete in 18 months.

Click here to download Google chrome