Ramblings of a Nutbar

You’ll probably regret this.

Zune2K? Blown up zunes, anyone?

When I read this, I thought it was a hoax, but it’s serious as a heart attack.

At 2AM this morning (Apparently in each time zone) The 30GB version of Microsoft’s Zune, their iPod wannabe, simply stopped working. No, I’m not joking, and yes, this is real. Check it out – Microsoft’s official zune support page goes into great detail on it. Many of the zune support boards are being flooded with posts that their zune quit working.

 

And in a dark, unlit corner of Apple world headquarters, Steve Jobs lets out a long, sinister laugh.

My guess? Microsoft programmed the Zunes to go out of service when the world ends in in 2012, but a pogrammer accidentally wound back the software by 3 years.

Quick update: As of this moment, this is CNN.com’s number 1 story of the day.

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December 31, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Years Resolutions

So, what are your New Years resolutions? Do you even make resolutions? Have you ever kept a resolution?

This year, my top 10 resolutions are as follows:

  1. I resolve to be less of a loser.
  2. I resolve to father at least one child.
  3. I resolve to lose 50 pounds or more.
  4. I resolve to hit the 10,000 subscriber mark on YouTube.
  5. I resolve to get mentioned at least once on a national TV show.
  6. I resolve to be a better husband.
  7. I resolve to go back to school.
  8. I resolve to find a job that is both enjoyable and fiscally rewarding.
  9. I resolve to invent something useful.
  10. I resolve to write a book.

There they are. My top 10. Let’s see if I can manage to pull off even one of them.

Later! :-D) <—That’s my double-chin smiley. See resolution #3

December 28, 2008 Posted by | My Random Thoughts | | 1 Comment

Merry Christmas!

Now, I know that some of my readers don’t hold to the same beliefs as I do, and that’s cool. Without diverse opinions, the world would be a boring place, right? To those viewers who don’t share my beliefs, I wish a most fulfilling holiday season to you and yours.
For anyone else, I want to just remind us what the season is all about. It’s not about shopping, or giving presents to your family. It’s not about buying cards or standing in lines at 3AM. It’s about love, coming down to Earth clothed in humanity. It’s a love that was willing to sacrifice everyting, just to save us. In a little town called Bethlehem, love came down one night, and in that we can place our hope.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

December 25, 2008 Posted by | My Random Thoughts | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

6k&Under – Keep or kill?

So a couple weeks ago I started a program on my YouTube channel called 6k&Under, a program featuring lesser-known faces on YouTube who are far more talented than you’d guess by looking at their subscriber base. I really enjoy doing the show, but I’m having problems:

  1. Production time – Ever tried finding talent in the seas of less-subscribed people? Finding a needle in a haystack is easier, and it’s probably more fun, too. I can spend 8 hours researching for a 4 minute video. User submissions are helpful, but I either don’t get any, or I get 70, and I can’t sort through all of them right away, which means they get lost in the shuffle.
  2. Low viewership – The people gettng featured are watching, and a few of my regulars are watching, but nobody else is even coming over to say hello. When in it’s first day, my stupid Viagra video gets more hits than the latest 6kU episode got on day 1, I have to wonder if it’s worth the effort.
  3. My third point – Because all good lists need three points or more.

So help me decide if the show is worth keeping on life support, or if I need to pull the plug. Answer a few questions, and then comment below. Be honest! (See more to complete the survey!)

Continue reading

December 18, 2008 Posted by | Making Better Videos, My Random Thoughts, YouTube | , , , | 15 Comments

The face of Social Media & Marketing in 2009

Do you enjoy social media? Do you enjoy understanding the benefits of social media to the worlds of Marketing, PR, and Customer Service? Are you a social media junkie who wants to position yourself in a way to appeal to corporations looking to get with the times?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then this paper is a must-read. It’s predictions for social media in 2009, written by some fairly well-known players in the growing industry. I loved this paper, in part because it’s great insight, but also because most of it has been what I’ve preached all along.

If you’re a little ADD, and 23 pages freaks you out, here are a few things that stood out to me:

  • Human interaction trumps all. For the last…oh, forever, businesses have taken a “create an ad, dump it someplace, and don’t touch it” aproach. In 2008, businesses started using social media to connect to customers, and there was this revelation: Consumers LIKE interacting! In 2009, expect to see many more businesses adopting this approach to social media.
  • A problematic economy will INCREASE social media marketing. Think about it: Ad agencies, TV, radio, and newspapers all cost money, and in some cases a lot of it. How much does it cost to set up social media accounts? Virtually nothing, and the entire planet has access to your company. Not bad.
  • Realization that quality of friends & subscribers is more important than quantity. For the last year, there has been this mentality that the best way to get your product seen was to promote it with the most popular bloggers, YouTubers, etc. Slowly, some businesses have realized that this doesn’t really work effectively. In many cases they’ve learned that 5,000 subscribers that fit your target audience is better than 100,000 subscribers who don’t fit at all. In 2009, many businesses will put down the shotgun, and pick up the sniper rifle.
  • Spectators are people too! Spectators are those people who watch your stuff, but never subscribe. For example, while I only weigh in with 2,200ish subscribers, almost a million people have viewed my material. The trend in 2008 was to ignore the people who didn’t “sign up”; in 2009, businesses will realize that the ones who don’t sign up to follow have great value.
  • Redefining the metrics of advertising value. Many businesses are realizing that page impressions, clicks, CPM, unique views, etc, are all so 2007.  Social media is about satisfaction, engagement, and viewer retention. A blog or video that 1,000,000 people watch for 5 seconds and click out of is less effective than the one that gets 5,000 loyal viewers coming back each time, who watch all the way to the end. Expect more businesses to put to bed the use of traditional metrics to determine what’s valuable.
  • Big business gets back to small-business approaches. Businesses that have grown so big to become faceless corporate entities are slowly realizing the value of good old-fashioned principles, like friendship has to be earned, fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and people want to connect to real people. Social Media in 2009 will draw more businesses into to world of real human interaction.

That’s the general gist. There’s a lot of great stuff that I didn’t put in here. One could honestly blog about 30 posts from notes on this paper. It’s good stuff. I also liked their prediction that Google will buy twitter. One can dream.

December 17, 2008 Posted by | Social Media | , , , , | 2 Comments

Bush gets a shoe, you get a game.

You know you want to…

December 16, 2008 Posted by | Humor, YouTube | , , | 1 Comment

After piles of mistakes, YouTube GOT IT RIGHT!

I am happy.

Verry Happy.

So happy that I’m dancing around and singing and generally making this recent video look mellow by comparison.

Why is this?

Because today I’ve noticed someting that YouTube has done that will make life for partners on YouTube so much easier.

It’s the custom thumbnail.

 

New Feature to upload a thumbnail. Rock on YouTube!

New Feature to upload a thumbnail. Rock on YouTube!

That’s right. It looks like from here on out that YouTube partners (I checked on one of my non-partner sock accounts, and it’s not there) can specify a custom thumbnail for their videos. 

The implications for this are enormous. No more working your butt off trying to get the perfect shot in the center frame (which YouTube recently fried anyway). No more hoping you don’t get three crappy thumbnails to pick from. From now on, partners can control their thumbnail.

You might find yourself saying “Okay. You can pick your thumbnail, big deal. What’s the hulabaloo all about?” It’s a commonly known fact that the thumbnail is a big part of what drives views to a video. It’s the very tiny window into your show, and sometmes it’s the only thing someone will see of yur video. If yu want to market your videos, the thumbnail is very important. And now, thanks to YouTube, partners can more effectively market their productions.

Thanks YouTube. I take back anything negative I’ve said lately. You rock, at least until I find something else to complain about.

December 9, 2008 Posted by | Making Better Videos, Social Media, YouTube | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Tips for getting views & subscribers on YouTube

You’re making YouTube videos. You’re actually pretty good (and that’s not your opinion – unbiased sources have told you this), but for some reason, breaking out of the sub-100 subscriber range just isn’t happening. So how do you climb out of the basement, and into the light? This post should give you some useful tips that I’ve learned myself, and things that I’ve seen from the top YouTube creators out there.

As a disclaimer, I will preface this by saying that I’m not a megastar on YouTube (yet!). I don’t have 100,000 subs and I’m not on the top pages. But I DO have a few thousand subscribers to my channel, and the number is growing literally every day. so with no further ado, here are my tips to gaining YouTube popularity, with important stuff bolded for those too ADD to read it all:

  • Make quality content. This is first and foremost. I’m not saying that you need to go out and buy a $2500 camcorder, or even use anything more special than a webcam. What you DO need to do is produce videos that people (other than you & your family) will want to watch. The secret to learning this is to critically watch YouTube videos. Which ones do you watch? Which ones do you click out of? Watch what the people you watch do, and emulate the positive aspects while making it your own. Important: While this is the first step, as you will soon read, it’s not the only ingredient.
  • Get involved in the community. My friends over at 88improv were the ones who got me to YouTube. They had been there for several months before I was. Today, they have thousands less subscribers than I do. What’s made me more popular? It’s certainly not video quality alone – theirs are way better than mine. The biggest difference I’ve noted is that 88improv is using YouTube more as a storage site; They upload their videos to embed elsewhere, and seldom get involved with comments & community involvement. In contrast, I Was doing shoutouts in my first video, and responding to other folks early on. I made some great friends, and I got involved in the community. If you provide positive feedback to others, they’re more likely to come and see your stuff. And if your stuff is good, they’ll subscribe.
  • Remember that asking for subscribers is okay (sometimes). Not everyone remembers that they can click the little orangish-yellow button to follow your videos. Putting a friendly “Please subscribe” at the start or end of your video is totally cool. If you’re an authentic individual, people will see this. Asking for subscribers CAN be overdone: see the following points on what NOT to do for more.
  • Love thy subs, and be thankful for them. Okay, it might be difficult to thank every subscriber once you hit 10’s of thousands of subscribers, where you might have a few hundred join per day. But since you’re not there yet, go show some gratitude. If someone subscribes to you, click on their name, go to their channel, and in their comment box write something like “Hey (their name), thanks for subscribing. It means a lot”. They like this, and what’s more, anyone who stops by their channel see that you care, and you might catch some incidental subscribers as a result.
  • Collaborate. Make videos with other YouTubers. heck, mak a video with me, I’m always game for a good idea. Collabs typically help both parties in some way (usually the person with fewer subscribers will get the most benefit from the deal, but the extra exposure is always nice for the more popular one). Enter Contests, such as ChristopherMast’s Generic Video Contest. Or better yet, nominate yourself (and hopefully a friend) to be on my new show that features unsung video producers (see below or click here).
  • Enjoy ALL free exposure, even from haters. (Thanks to jischinger for pointing this missed piece.) Any time someone promotes your stuff, it’s a good thing. It’s like they say, “All press is good press”. Sometimes you’ll get promoted in positive places, such as the new show 6k&Under. And sometimes you’ll get views from people called “haters”. These folks range from mild “ur so gay” comments, to more extreme threats and even featuring you on one of their many hater websites.  BUT here’s the rub: everyone knows they’re just haters. Nobody believes them, and in fact, I’ve found many great YouTubers because of them. So don’t hate the haters. They don’t realize it, but they’re doing you a favor.
  • Keep on truckin’. It’s easy to get discouraged. It took me months to break out of the single digit numbers, but it’s a snowball effect. Keep making videos. Keep following the steps above. Eventually, you’ll build a large enough base to get noticed. Patince, grasshopper.

WHAT NOT TO DO: Stuff you should avoid, lest you be riddled with strife and disliking:

  • Don’t Sub4Sub / Beg4Sub. These tactics send a very distinct message to people: I’m not talented enough to get subscribers on my own abilities and terefore I must find other ways to peddle my useless material. Understand this: The people with respected channels will not subscribe to you because you’re offering to sub to them. I am very exclusive about who I subscribe to: I only subscribe to people I want to watch. Sub4Subbing with 10 kids, only to have my subscriptions page filled with hundreds of crappy illegally uploaded Anime videos to the point where I can’t find the people I want to watch is NOT on my agenda, nor the agenda of most regulars on YouTube. And recently I had someone go beyond sub4sub, and just lazily posted a profile comment asking me to subscribe. Again, subbing to a channel full of crappy Animes is not something I, or most established YouTubers will be doing.
  • Don’t be a hater. Some people (mostly dumb kids) think that being a hater (e.g. going to people’s videos and posting stupid comments) will get them noticed, or maybe even get popular YouTubers to respond to them. 99.5% of the time this is futile. When I see a hater, I just delete the comment and block him. Way to ruin your chances of me ever subscribing to your stuff. And besides that, nobody else who comes to my channel will see you now either. Plus, haters are so cliche. Folks, calling me fat, ugly, gay, or stupid doesn’t bug me. I just look at it and laugh at the fact that this is the best you can do.
  • Don’t break the law! PLEASE, I beg of you, obey copyright laws in your videos. As much as you want to use that new Jason Mraz song in your latest video, doing so is a time bomb. Eventually YouTube will find out. Thanks to a recent agreement with the recording industry, YouTube can keep some of these videos on their site now, in exchange for sharing ad dollars with the record labels, but that’s on a case by case basis, and YouTube can pull your video anytime it wants. Stick to royalty free or creative commons stuff. If you don’t know where to find good music, check out incompetech.com for starters.
  • Don’t be afraid to initiate conversations with popular ‘Tubers. This is how I found out Nalts is a pretty cool guy. Just because they’re popular doesn’t mean that they’re not down to earth real people. And if they don’t respond, it’s not that they’re jerks blowing you off – it’s because you were probably one of 500 emails they got that day. Perseverence will usually get you noticed, just remember to be polite and respectful of their time.

In conclusion to my longest blog ever, here’s a great way to get seen: Get onboard with 6k&Under, a new show for unrecognized YouTube Talent.

December 6, 2008 Posted by | Making Better Videos, YouTube | , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

How YouTube Plans to Self-Destruct

I’ve long suspected that somewhere deep down inside the central heart of YouTube Corporate HQ, Chad Hurley has a little room, 10′ x 10′, completely empty save a marble pedestal with a Magic 8-Ball Sitting upon it. And I imagine that every morning he walks into this room, shakes up the Magic 8-Ball, and whispers “Today can I drive it all into the ground?”

Yesterday, the 8-Ball said “Yes”

So Chad rolled up his sleeves, and called together all of his top programmers, including Melvin, the guy who insisted on programming a 500 Internal Server Error into every 6th time you click on your Inbox, and they went to work.

A few moments ago, I happened to spot that Nalts wrote a blog entry pointing to YouTube’s Blog. In a release dated Yesterday, YouTube made the following announcement:

As a community, we have come to count on each other to be entertained, challenged, and moved by what we watch and share on YouTube. We’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to make the collective YouTube experience even better, particularly on our most visited pages. Our goal is to help ensure that you’re viewing content that’s relevant to you, and not inadvertently coming across content that isn’t. Here are a few things we came up with: 

  • Stricter standard for mature content – While videos featuring pornographic images or sex acts are always removed from the site when they’re flagged, we’re tightening the standard for what is considered “sexually suggestive.” Videos with sexually suggestive (but not prohibited) content will be age-restricted, which means they’ll be available only to viewers who are 18 or older. To learn more about what constitutes “sexually suggestive” content, click here.

  • Demotion of sexually suggestive content and profanity – Videos that are considered sexually suggestive, or that contain profanity, will be algorithmically demoted on our ‘Most Viewed,’ ‘Top Favorited,’ and other browse pages. The classification of these types of videos is based on a number of factors, including video content and descriptions. In testing, we’ve found that out of the thousands of videos on these pages, only several each day are automatically demoted for being too graphic or explicit. However, those videos are often the ones which end up being repeatedly flagged by the community as being inappropriate.

  • Improved thumbnails – To make sure your thumbnail represents your video, your choices will now be selected algorithmically. You’ll still have three thumbnails to choose from, but they will no longer be auto-generated from the 25/50/75 points in the video index.

  • More accurate video information – Our Community Guidelines have always prohibited folks from attempting to game view counts by entering misleading information in video descriptions, tags, titles, and other metadata. We remain serious about enforcing these rules. Remember, violations of these guidelines could result in removal of your video and repeated violations will lead to termination of your account.

The preservation and improvement of the YouTube experience is a responsibility we share. Let’s work together to ensure that the YouTube community continues to thrive as a positive place for all of us. 

At first this sounds like a great attempt to clean up YouTube. I would fully support making illicit and profane content harder for minors to get their hands on. I also hate dishonest thumbnails. But when one takes a moment to stop and think about these changes, one can see (even in a state of total sleep deprivation) that the changes are going to hurt more than they help.

First, and what I see as the biggest problem, is the issue of no longer taking the 25/50/75 points in a video for thumbnails. Now, as I demonstrated in my test video, the thumbnails were not falling on the exact 25/50/100 points anyway, but they were close enough that one could aim to make sure a clip was placed that properly represented the video. This is called branding folks! It’s putting a pretty wrapping on your box that shows you the best part of what’s inside.

Yes, people do sometimes abuse the system, but why punish the 95% of people who don’t regularly commit this dastardly deed, just to force the 5% of abusers to figure out a new way to cheat the system (which they will). I lose branding control, and the scum just have to try a little harder to get what they want. Nice. This hurts, especially considering how many content creators wanted MORE choice in picking thumbnails, not less.

Really, the whole article reeks of “Quick! Somebody’s planning to sue us! Let’s do a super quick fix to make it all better!”. It doesn’t look like a lot of time and planning went into this.

My sincere hope is that it’s something that after a few days YouTube will realize their error and correct their mistake, but I do sometimes wonder if there really is a room at YouTube HQ with nothing in it but a marble pedestal and a Magic 8-Ball…

December 3, 2008 Posted by | My Random Thoughts, Social Media, YouTube | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Walmart – Devil in a blue box.

Okay, I’ll preface this by saying I’m a capitalist. Big Time. I am all for making money. I think money is a wonderful thing, and having it eliminates many problems (albeit creating a few of it’s own). That being said, I find myself becoming more and more disgusted at Walmart as I get older.  The reason is that too much of anything, even capitalism, can be terrible. Making money is great, but doing so at the cost of American jobs and the lives of innocents is another.

Lives? You mean you didn’t hear about it? Friday, during the “Black Friday” rush, a temporary maintenance worker at a Walmart was killed by the mob of shoppers standing in line for all the stupid crap they didn’t even need. If this doesn’t upset you, I don’t know what will.

Reading other posts out there in the blogosphere, I know that if I let this sit without explaining further, I would get piles of “It’s not Walmart’s fault!” comments (that is, if I were popular enough to gather comments), but most anyone who has ever worked in a retail environment, as I have, knows the truth.

Corporately-operated busnesses are eternally attempting to cut costs and maximize profit. In and of itself, this practice is a great thing – I wish more corporations would do this with their multi-million earning C level execs for example. But the downside to cutting costs is that you usually have to sacrifice something. Apparently Walmart sacrificed security.

In this case, the police had warned Walmart well enough in advance that the crowds would be tremendous, as if common sense doesn’t dictate that in a recession with the highest unemployment rates in years that maybe more people than usual will show up to save money. Walmart was asked by the police to have adequate security staff on hand to open the store.

What did Wally World do? Did they have two or three security guards standing at the door to push back the crowd while the doors were being unlocked? That sounds like a sensible idea to me. But sadly for Jdimytai Damour, this didn’t sound like a good idea to Walmart.

No, instead of using common sense and having as many security officers flanking the entrance as possible, they had a great cost-cutting idea. Security guards cost a lot more than most everyone else working at the store level. Why, for the cost of three of four security guards, you could hire a whole fleet of maintenance guys. And why would you need a whole fleet of maintenance guys, when one will do nicely? So they assigned the role of unlocking a door with thousands of tired, cranky, mob shoppers on the other side to one lowly maintenance guy. A temp worker at that. I imagine his personnel file probably had “Expendable” stamped on it in big blue letters with an “always” and yellow smiley underneath it. I’m sure fellow Star Trek enthusiasts are wondering if they actually gave him a red shirt before sending him to his doom, or if they just expected him to know he wouldn’t be returning from this away mission.

I’ve worked in a lot of retail and hospitality environments. An established business, especially one such as Walmart should have known better. Working in the hotel industry, we always hired on lots of extra security during special events. When I was working at my last job, security always opened the doors, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Walmart’s quest to save money, maximize profit, and cut corners is the direct cause of this man’s death. Had he been a security guard, I would have been less incensed, but he wasn’t, and he should NOT have been the one opening that door.

And of course there’s the other stuff, like the way that Walmart has left Sam Walton’s “buy American” approach, and embraced selling cheap foreign garbage, or their unethical business practices in employee treatment (I had a friend back in my hometown who got fired for requesting a few days off – to go to a funeral!), etc, but you get the point.

The saddest thing is that I’ll probably wind up continuing to shop at Walmart, because frankly, there’s nobody else in the area that has the same selection at prices we can afford while I’m busy being unemployed. So really, I’m just whining.

And because I don’t think the shoppers are completely guiltless either, here’s a great video by Peter Coffin:

December 1, 2008 Posted by | My Random Thoughts | , , , , | Leave a comment