In This Year of Political Calls For Change

I decided to make a few changes in my career today. Well, I didn’t actually decide today. I just put the wheels in motion officially. So there’s a good chance that I’ll be available for anyone who needs BI, software development, or sys admin work done. Of course, only high rollers need apply. I hit the ground running in two short weeks.

Might as well quote another Van Halen song while I’m at it…

Change, nothin’ stays the same
Unchained, and ya hit the ground runnin’
Change, ain’t nothin’ stays the same
Unchained, yeah ya hit the ground runnin’

Yahoo! With a Huge Web Hosting Announcement

The other day I mentioned Microsoft’s bid to buy Yahoo!

Today, Yahoo! made a pretty interesting announcement…Yahoo! Web Hosting
now provides UNLIMITED disk space and UNLIMITED bandwidth for less than $12. That means that those videos you’ve been uploading to YouTube (owned by Google) because they are big and take up bandwidth can now be hosted cheaply and you can keep your assets for yourself.

They are even registering your domain name for free, plus unlimited MySQL databases and email addresses. If you’ve been thinking about starting a blog or getting a site for your small business, this looks like a sweet deal.

Two Hours Late

Driving in this morning I was listening to all the school and business closings.  Several of them were running “two hours late.”  Here in the South, the slightest bit of snow or ice is enough to cause schools to open either one hour late, two hours late, or close altogether.  Basically, those are the only three options.

I was reminded of a day when I was in sixth grade and our school opened two hours late because of snow.  After we arrived, we spent at least another hour sitting in our homeroom class while the administration figured out how to schedule the rest of the day.  Not that I really minded sitting around and goofing off with my friends for an hour, but I remember wondering why they hadn’t planned for this in advance.

I mean, there were only 3 possible scenarios, and one (being closed) meant that they wouldn’t have to plan at all.

Sun Buys MySQL

I don’t write about tech stuff here too often, but since this blog, and most likely yours*, is backended by MySQL, it’s relevant. MySQL’s business model works like this–it’s free (as in beer) to use, but enterprise level users do pay the company for support. That’s what makes it so great for the web. People can back end blogs, content management systems, bulletin boards, and just about anything else they can imagine using freely available open-source tools. In fact, there’s even an acronym for the most commonly used tools working together (LAMP–Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP). For the end user, more than likely nothing will change.

So why does it matter to us that Sun now owns it? Because the fact that Sun owns it means that Google, Microsoft, and Oracle don’t own it.

Story

*HM, I know you do your own blog engining…mad props.

My Ideal News, uh, Thingy

I’m not affiliated with and don’t have any knowledge of the newspaper business. You could make the case that this doesn’t make my opinion worth much, but if you consider the performance over the last few years of people who do know the business, maybe doing something different warrants some consideration.

Jack Lail has been posting recently about possible new ways to calculate compensation for journalists, and in a post today hit on something:

At my newspaper, we have been distributing daily top 10 lists of articles based on page views to the entire newsroom for a year or more. The lists are not used for compensation and do seem to provide instant market insights about what readers found interesting.

The way I see it, newspapers, for now, are positioned to provide three things that are at a high premium and that most blogs/bloggers can’t deliver. I think most would be wise to capitalize on these by shifting the state of mind from being a newspaper to becoming a news organization/outlet/center:

Excellent writing
Not just good writing. For now, newspapers have a large market share of excellent writers. That’s a part of the market I’d want to keep. Let the good writers go if you have to, but keep the excellent writers around. That means paying them well. If you don’t, you will eventually lose the excellent writers to their own endeavors, and you’ll be stuck with nothing but good writers. Good writing is nice, but it doesn’t make you much more special that the thousands of independent blogs that feature above average writers.

Investigative journalism
The time, resources, and energy it takes to dig (and dig, and dig) for a story set newspapers and real journalists apart from everyone else. Give us more stories that take time to develop. Give us stories that, in short, no one else can. In most cases, that would mean increased concentration on local news, and pulling back on stories happening elsewhere. And sports? Please. The account of a football game that was attended by 100,000 people, viewed by millions, and opined about (real time) on countless message boards and blogs has little value the day after the event. Does it sell copies? I’m sure of it. Does it sell as many copies as it did 10 years ago? I’d guess probably not, per capita. And if you’re now going to count web clicks instead of copies, newspaper web sites definitely don’t have the market share that the print version of the paper had 10 years ago. It doesn’t seem like a good place for resources long term. It may be time to start scaling back or redirecting resources.

Being community hubs
Newspapers have a huge asset that takes years to create–name recognition in their local markets. It makes sense to capitalize on that by being first to that market with resources that connect the community. Instead of viewing local bloggers as competitors and hacks, find a way to leverage them as a way to drive traffic. Become the place that the community uses to find local blogs. The bad news? It’s may already be too late. In my local market, the News Sentinel caught on remarkably early, and even goes so far as to feature bloggers on the front page of their web site on the weekends and has built a community aggregator. In other markets, it has taken a while, and links to other sites and blogs still aren’t featured or easy to find. As a result, other organizations have stepped up and are trying to fill the void left by what should have been the logical market owner.

It is great to see some newspapers are catching on and are willing to try something new or go in a different direction. At the same time, it’s frustrating to see the industry as a whole belly aching about its problems. Face the facts–not only are the rules of the game changing rapidly, but the game itself is evolving.

I mean, this isn’t the record industry. You guys may actually have to change.

Lessons From the Record Industry

Seth Godin has a great post today on the lessons to be learned from the music business.  It’s a little lengthy for a Godin post, but it’s definitely worth the full read.

I shouldn’t have to say this, but here goes: suing people is like going to war. If you’re going to go to war with tens of thousands of your customers every year, don’t be surprised if they start treating you like the enemy.

This point alone is a lesson that the record companies themselves still don’t seem to have learned.

Credit Card Regulation, Free Markets, and Paying Cash

The Coyote Chronicles challenges Free Marketers to defend deregulation of the credit card industry: 

You can make the argument that people who can’t pay their balances in full every month should not take out a credit card, but thats more than a little disingenuous since we would see a staggering drop in consumer spending if people only spent when they could pay cash. The restaurant and travel industries would suffer immediately. I doubt there would be a Black Friday at all. Don’t even get me started about the car business.

I’ll take a shot at this one.  First of all, Black Friday, car financing, and credit cards themselves are all fairly new concepts.  Somehow, civilization survived before they existed, and suspect it will survive long after they are gone.  The assertion that our economy is propped up by the insane amount of consumer credit that exists currently tells me that we are, as a country, living above our means.  The fact that the savings rate keeps declining while consumer debt continues to rise tells me that we are in denial of this fact.  Government regulation that enables this foolish behavior only delays the inevitable crash that must occur to correct the market and insures with each passing year that the crash will be harder.

What would happen to the economy if people stopped using credit cards and started paying cash?  One thing is for sure.  Every debt free individual would have greatly increased buying power because a higher percentage of his income would be available to purchase goods and services instead of paying interest on the Big Mac Value Meal he bought 4 months ago.

Hat tip to MCB.

YouTube Debates More Like YouBoob Debates

I had high hopes for the debates tomorrow until I watched a few of the questions being asked by YouTube users. Check these out, chosen randomly. I’ll practice my mean and nasty comments here…

[youtube oeI1njDouZA]

My thought is that the President of the United States has no business worrying about the acceptance processes of colleges.  Hopefully he doesn’t have the time either.

[youtube ei4dwzI_-xo]

I only have concern, disdain, and contempt for people who use the word “yesteryear”.

[youtube -Ut4wn-HX9k]

My question for you is, how much time did you spend filming and editing that 90 degree turn to your left…oh, and who is your choreographer?

It feels good to let it out, but it’s too easy.  You could do this all day with an army of smart asses, and the rate at which morons post videos would still out pace you.

Movies, Music, and Newspapers

This post by Jack Lail made me revisit a thought that has been rolling around in my empty skull off and on for a while now.

Truth be told, the history of newspapers on the Internet is littered with missed opportunities, wrong turns, and a lack of investment that all seemed smart (or at least prudent) at the time because of the industry’s strong herd instincts.

As an outsider, it seems to me these three industries are facing the same basic challenge. They are industries that completely rely on talent to exist, but whose current business model is centered around delivery, not the talent itself.

People are going to find good music to listen to, good stuff to watch, and good writing to read, and in an open market, the cream will rise to the top. The reality of the situation is that musicians, writers, and actors/directors no longer need the old media structure to be found, all they need is to have talent.

For now, old media has the market on talent cornered for the most part, but they’d better quickly find a way to monetize or they’ll be history.