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February 28, 2005

Dear boston.com: Where Are the Links? Part II

As I mentioned in my previous entry about Adam Gaffin's new "Blog Log" column in The Boston Globe and published at boston.com, I emailed boston.com to ask them about their linking policy and why they do not link to websites other than the third-party stock info website. This is the response they sent to me in email.

Dear Susan:

Thank you for writing to Boston.com. At the bottom of the article you're referring to is a link to Universal Hub, www.universalhub.com/globe/0227. This link list all the blog mentioned. Due to time constraint, we cannot add any additional links.

You saw links in some business articles because it is automatically generated in our publishing tool when there is a publicly traded company. We hope this clears up the confusion.

If you any additional questions, please let us know.

Kind regards,

Customer Support

This is what I sent to them in response to that.

Hey there:

Thanks very much for your reply.

You noted in your reply that the bottom of the article includes a link. Almost ... but not quite. The link is listed, but it's not a link that you can click on -- it's just regular text ... meaning you have to copy and paste it into your browser to get to it.

Would it be possible to at least make the link to Universal Hub's site active?

Also, I wasn't confused. I'm not sure what gave you that idea. I asked for insight into your linking (or lack thereof) policy. I don't see how my lack of insight into your policy could be considered confusion.


In 1999 I worked for a television show and website called Wild, Wild Web. We used an oh-my-god-we-paid-you-how-much-money-for-this craptastic content management system (Vignette) to publish website articles that were the online companions to features on the television show. Somehow, way back then, we managed to make that awful Vignette system work so that links could be easily inserted into the web articles. I can't imagine it would be all that difficult for boston.com to do this in 2005.

Is it really a time constraint issue for boston.com or do they only want to link to a site that they may (?) get a kickback from such as that stock portfolio website?

Posted by Sooz at 05:15 PM | Comments (0)

Dear boston.com: Where Are the Links?

Adam Gaffin has a new column in The Boston Globe called Blog Log. It seems like an excellent column to start using links at boston.com -- something they have yet to do unless it's a link to a company's stock profile on a third-party website. Unfortunately, there are no links in Adam's column. A URL at the end points you to a location at Adam's Universal Hub website where you can pick up the links.

I sent a note to boston.com asking for clarification about their linking policy. Hopefully they'll write back and offer some sort of explanation.

Posted by Sooz at 11:22 AM | Comments (0)

February 25, 2005

The South by Southwest Interactive Festival : March 11-15 in Austin

Austin's South by Southwest Interactive Festival is coming up in a few weeks: March 11-15, 2005. It's the only web conference I travel to beyond the East Coast. While nagging a friend that he should go, he mentioned that he was concerned it might just be a lot of hype based on an NPR article he read last year that blathered on about participants talking about blogs.

If you do anything on the web: labor of love or commercial, you should be at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival. It's been around for over ten years and that includes all those pre-blog years, too. The festival is a few parts spring break, inspiration and fun.

And it's cheap. The walk-up rate for the conference is $275. If you register early during the months leading up to the conference it's as low as $175. I've used hotwire.com for three of my four trips to the festival. This year I'm flying out of Manchester, New Hampshire and staying at the Crowne Plaza Hotel (where I stayed last year -- they've got free internet in the rooms). The total cost was $425 including fees/taxes, roundtrip airfare and the hotel room for five nights. Amusingly enough, the Crowne Plaza is listed as $139/night on the conference website. I figure that I'm paying about $30/night with the hotwire.com deal. Austin is a very walkable city so you save money not having to take many cabs depending on where your hotel is located.

There's also the SXSW Baby! website for participants to conspire before the festival and post panel notes. Thanks to a post on the site I found out there's a cheap bus from the Austin airport to downtown for 50 cents. Nice!

Posted by Sooz at 02:50 PM | Comments (0)

February 24, 2005

Google Calendar? Yes, Please!

People are talking about the possibility of Google working on a calendar tool. That would (no doubt) be very cool. Is it an application or a search tool? If it's the latter, would it make my Exploit Boston! project (when it's updated more regularly) turn up in even more search results?

Several years ago (1999ish) I worked as the copywriter on a project with Boston's Razorfish office to redesign AnyDay.com's website. AnyDay had a really cool and useful web calendar tool that made it easy to publish personal and group calendars plus restrict who could see individual tidbits of information. They were aquired by Palm in 2001 who later abandoned the service. The closest thing I've found useful since then is PHPiCalendar that interfaces with Apple's iCal application to publish ical files to the web. I found it last Fall but it doesn't seem to be under active development anymore.

The AnyDay.com redesign was one of the weirdest freelance jobs I've ever had. They cancelled the project somewhere in the middle but I got paid anyway.


Posted by Sooz at 09:48 PM | Comments (0)

RSS Advertising: Just Say No?

I really wish Alan Herrell (The Head Lemur) would tell us what he really thinks when he writes on his weblog about topics such as advertising in RSS feeds. He's always so vague.

Really If I want to spend my fucking life reading or being exposed to advertisements, I will shove a shopping channel TV Up my ASS. I will swallow a transistor radio.

RSS advertising is every bit as filthy a practice as spyware, viruses, trojan horses, pop ups, and rich media Insertion.

Posted by Sooz at 02:04 PM | Comments (0)

It's a Big World Wide Web

Michael has had a personal website and weblog longer than most people; but he's pretty low key about it. Which is probably why most people don't know about him. He wrote something about this last night after reading something on Ezra Klein's weblog about the perception that there aren't many female political bloggers. Add his RSS feed to your news reader. He's got a way with words. The guy makes sports sound interesting for one thing.

The title of Ezra Klein's entry is "Girls with Keyboards." Maybe it's just me but I always feel a little annoyed when I see the word "girls" used like that.

Posted by Sooz at 12:34 PM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2005

Getting Paid to Do What You Love

Long time web guy Jason Kottke's announcement that he quit his web design job to work on his personal website fulltime seemed curious. Of course, a (big) part of me is jealous because I have long wished I could focus entirely on my web projects and not work for other people, so to speak. Getting paid by Marqui to link/mention them the past three months has certainly helped.

It's interesting that he's calling donors "micro patrons." Micro? What's so micro about contribting the (suggested) $30? A few years ago when people were sending each other fifty cents through PayPal -- that seemed to be about micro payments. If I give someone $30 to help them out, I'd rather just be called a patron -- leave out micro.

I wonder how taxes factor into this. Does he have a corporation or is he self-employed? If it's the latter, he'll have to say goodbye to about 37% of the donations. Unless there's some sort of loophole I'm not familiar with.

I'm curious who else is testing out new ways to make a living without a typical 9-5 job. A few I know about include:

Update: These people aren't necessarily doing their creative projects fulltime. That's what I get for writing an entry while still half asleep.

Who else?

Posted by Sooz at 10:56 AM | Comments (3)

February 22, 2005

New home for my event mailing list at WhizSpark

I mentioned the other day that I was moving my event mailing list from sooz.com over to WhizSpark. Mission accomplished! If you were on my list before and you did not receive an email via the WhizSpark system alerting you of the new list, you can sign up via my profile page at WhizSpark. It looks like 50 or so people were not added which was probably a copy/pasting oversight on my part and then a few unsubscriptions, too. If you've never been on my list before and you'd like to be alerted when I've got new events on the horizon, please sign up.

I've been going through old event photos and plan to move them over to my flickr account. Here's one of my favorite sushi fest photos of Mark Bernstein. It was taken with an instant camera that we passed around the table at the sushi fest dinner party in 1999 at Guyuhama on Boylston Street.

Posted by Sooz at 03:51 PM | Comments (0)

Boston Globe Article about the Boston Blog Meetup

I recently passed on the organizer role for the Boston Blog Meetup to Jack Hodgson. He wasn't able to attend the January meetup at Christopher's Restaurant in Porter Square so I filled in for him at the last minute. A freelance writer for The Boston Globe surprised us with a visit and told us she had an article about the meetup in the works.

The article mixed up a few tidbits. There was some confusion between the meetup and my bostonblogs.com website. The latter has been around since 2002 and is at the top of the Google results page for "Boston blogs", not the Blog Meetup. It's not a huge deal but would have been an easy enough thing to clarify.

Posted by Sooz at 12:16 AM | Comments (0)

February 21, 2005

Bowling Posse on Thursday, 3 March at Sacco's Bowl Haven

While growing up in Nebraska, I participated in a youth bowling league at Hilltop Lanes in Dodge, Nebraska. It's unfortunate that I no longer have the patches from my various winnings. I haven't gone tenpin bowling in over a decade and I'd probably not be all that good at it these days. Fortunately, New England has candle pin bowling which is a lot easier. Partly because the balls are not as heavy and you get three turns instead of two.

The next bowling posse outing is on Thursday, March 3rd at Sacco's Bowl Haven in Davis Square at 8:00 PM. If you'd like to join us, you can RSVP at the Bowling Posse event page at WhizSpark. The cost is $10 and that covers two hours of bowling and the shoe rental.

I'm starting to dabble more with WhizSpark's hosted DIY event planning tools -- in particular the ad-free, customizable tools that are under development. Overall, I like what I see. Hopefully the ability to adjust the layout (perhaps similar to how TypePad lets you move content around on the page) and link colors (I had no choice but to use the red links if I wanted a black background) will be a possibility someday. Peter Caputa, the president of WhizSpark, has been generally responsive to my ideas, feedback, nagging and criticisms.

I'm in the process of moving several hundred sooz.com event newsletter subscribers over to WhizSpark. It will be interesting to see what sort of feedback I receive once I start to send out event invites through the WhizSpark system. One thing that is new is that if someone wants to register/reply/RSVP for an event, the person first needs to create a free account. WhizSpark has an anti-spam policy as far as how users can and cannot use data in the system; but the policy does not address how WhizSpark itself will not use contact information in their system. Hopefully that's something they can directly address in their policy soon.

Posted by Sooz at 02:27 PM | Comments (0)

February 18, 2005

Cool Event: Art of the Can Contest Exhibition

Julia Tenney alerted me to this interesting event called the Art of the Can contest and exhibition that is coming up in Boston on February 26th at the Artists for Humanity EpiCenter. Red Bull sponsored an art competition that involved making artsy things out of their beverage containers. What a cool way to combine marketing and art in a non-lame way. More info on the event listing at Exploit Boston! and the contest and exhibition website.

Posted by Sooz at 04:29 PM | Comments (0)

What's in Store for the Marqui Pay Bloggers Program

J. D. Lassica wrote an article about Marqui's "Pay Bloggers" program for the Online Journalism Review. Stephen King, Marqui's CEO and President, had this to say in the article:

King said that in the next round of blogging for dollars, some of the current bloggers will be dropped and others added. “One of the things we’re learning is that for bloggers to write regularly about us, they need to be closer to our market,” he said. “We’d like them to look at the product. They can interview customers, they can interview people around the subject – it just has to remain interesting, and in that sense they’re acting as amateur journalists.”

Posted by Sooz at 01:08 AM | Comments (0)

February 17, 2005

Contributing For Access Not Payment -- Can it Work?

Today Peter Caputa and I were talking on IM about my frustration with finding contributors for my Exploit Boston! event guide/calendar website. People are generally very psyched to learn about the website and indicate that they'd like to get involved; but enthusiasm doesn't seem to last long enough to get to the point of contributing actual content. I'm not in a position to pay writers and photographers. Not at this time anyway. I've thought about sharing Google AdSense proceeds from the pages that a contributor's content appears on and might try to see how that can be set up sometime soon. Of course, the site needs to be updated much more frequently so it's making cash from the AdSense program again. I'm going to give the project as much of my spare time as possible. It's 2005 or bust! A nice motivator is the #2 spot on that big search engine for "Boston events."

In the meantime, I'm trying to frame the opportunity better and reach out to more people. Especially people who are not paid, professional writers.

My fellow Boston bloggers, I can help you get into events for free. Did a concert you wanted to go to sell out? How about a review ticket from the event's press person? Or maybe a photo pass? What about a pre or post-event interview?

You don't need to work for The Boston Globe, The Boston Phoenix or The Improper Bostonian to get into these events. However, if bloggers were to individually contact press people for access, it would be a disaster. If the requests come through a central location such as Exploit Boston!, it's a more effective approach.

Peter pointed out that people want money for their contributions. I understand that if you are a professional writer or photographer -- you wouldn't waste your time with Exploit Boston!. But what about the rest of us "amateurs"? We'd go to these events and blog about them anyway, why not join forces?

I sent out the following email earlier to the mailing list for the bostonblogs.com site that I run. If any blogger in the Boston area would like to sign up for the list and participate in this contributor experiment, that would be awesome. Let me know?

Hey everyone:

Long time, no see!

In case you hadn't noticed, Jack Hodgson is now the organizer for the Boston Weblog Meetup. He's hosting the next gathering on Monday, February 28th at Christopher's Restaurant in Porter Square. If you'd like to join in the festivities, you can RSVP at http://blog.meetup.com/3. See you there?

I recently set up a new mailing list for my Exploit Boston! project. EB! is a weblog-style event guide to happenings in Boston plus an internet radio station featuring Boston bands. The project has been on slow, slow percolation for a long damn time. 2005 is going to be a much livlier year for this project.

If you'd like to receive the ocassional alert when concert review tickets and photo passes become available or would like to alert me to other events you'd like comped review access to ... here's where you can sign-up.


UPDATE: Subscriptions are not automatic. I review each request and followup with the individual. In the followup I ask for his/her name, weblog URL(s), information about their interest to participate and if they have any questions.

I'm finding it very easy to get access to things and I'd like to share it with other bloggers. I've established relationships with many press people for bands and I'd also like to see that extend into other types of events that fall under the areas of art, culture, books and entertainment. The basic idea is that if you get a review ticket or photo pass for an event, you:

1. agree to write words or post photographs sometime within (more or less) 24 hours after the event.

2. are welcome to post the content directly on your site *immediately* with a permanent link to the article's duplicate home at www.exploitboston.com.

You own your words and photos. Some editing may be done on the content located on Exploit Boston! such as grammar and spelling.

If you're a professional writer who gets paid to do this sort of writing, it might not be all that interesting to you. But for the rest of us, it's nifty to get into events for free that we might have paid for otherwise.

If you have comments or questions, let me know.

See you at the Blog Meetup on the 28th at Christopher's Restaurant if you can make it!

Posted by Sooz at 07:57 PM | Comments (0)

Thanks, Marqui

Check number two of three arrived in the mail yesterday from Marqui, the company that pays me to include them in my blog until the end of February. I am curious to learn how the program has worked for Marqui. Will they be hiring a new batch of bloggers? Will the format, requirements and payment arrangements change?

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Posted by Sooz at 12:59 PM | Comments (0)

Photos From Last Night's Genius Workshop

Shimon Rura took a few photos at the Genius Workshop dinner that we hosted last night at Henrietta's Table in Harvard Square. We've been talking about doing this event for a couple months so it was exciting to see the first event actually take place. A few people asked us why the word "genius" is used in the event name. The idea is not to suggest that there is some sort of ego involved. And it is not a MENSA meeting. Our goal is to gather together a small group of smart (or so we think) people who are developing new tech/software/web ideas and the smart people who like to offer feedback. Shimon and I need to work out the ground rules and blog policy. If people are going to feel comfortable talking about new tech projects, they need to know the conversations won't be transcribed for the web and at the same time, we should all feel comfortable writing about it in general on our weblogs.

Peter Caputa wrote a recap of last night's dinner, including this tidbit:

We talked about a lot of stuff with a special emphasis on not talking about blogging. Content management systems, online fake cries for help and deception, each of our projects, how we each got where we are, what we are looking to do next, getting comp'd at big tech events, microsoft's love affair with usenet.

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Posted by Sooz at 10:03 AM | Comments (0)

February 14, 2005

New Project: Genius Workshop

Shimon Rura and I are conspiring on a new project called Genius Workshop. Our first event is a dinner on February 16th.

Genius Workshop is an informal group of internet technologists, entrepreneurs, thinkers and afficionados. Our goal is to bring together smarties for the purpose of mutual enlightenment. Participants include people who are working on technologies ranging from established and successful to innovative and borderline crazy.
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Posted by Sooz at 05:51 PM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2005

Live Broadcast of Exploit Boston! Radio ... right now!

It's been a long, long time since I've done a live broadcast of my internet radio station so I thought I'd test it out tonight and see if my computer can handle it while I'm also using other applications. I'm playing newish tunes from Rose Polenzani, Van Elk and then an assortment of other Boston bands. Check it out and let me know what you think? I probably won't do any talking tonight since one of my office mates is having a meeting. But if this works reasonably well I'll probably schedule a live broadcast every week or so. I appreciate feedback on the sound quality, if it's dropping connection, etc. Listen up!

Posted by Sooz at 07:35 PM | Comments (4)

Thank You For Calling the SoozCenter

Michael just sent me a link to an article at the Boston Globe's website about the FleetCenter's naming rights going up for auction on eBay after Bank of America decided to pay a small pocket of change (about $3M) to get out of the buiding's naming rights contract that they inherited after acquiring Fleet Bank. Proceeds from each of the single day naming rights will go to charity. There's no mention of specific charities in the article. As of the time I'm writing this, there are six days days up for auction with the highest bid at $3,050.

The highest bidders won't get to change the giant FleetCenter sign overlooking the highway. But they will get an assortment of perks, including their names on the FleetCenter's website, its Jumbotron, and a message for callers to the automated phone system, which will say ''Thank you for calling the 'YourCenter.' They also will get four tickets to the day's game or show, and a framed photo collage and a certificate, and a ''special surprise gift package."

Update:The fine print on each of the listings mentions that "net proceeds will go to FleetCenter Neighborhood Charities (FCNC), a 501(c)(3) non-profit private foundation that benefits outreach initiatives focused on children and families in the Greater Boston area."

Posted by Sooz at 11:01 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 09, 2005

WiFi is Coming to The Middle East Restaurant in Central Square!

A very reliable source mentioned to me today that The Middle East Restaurant and Nightclub is getting WiFi. This is great news for Central Square where there is also complimentary/free WiFi at Harvest Co-Op and Toscanini's. Hopefully there will be more info soon.

Posted by Sooz at 10:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

More Action Less Activity

Gregor's weblog entry quoting Mark Forster about action versus activity reminded me of something I should add to my list of 2005 aspirations: picking projects and collaborations that involve action and not just being busy. It's difficult sometimes (oh, who am I kidding: all of the time!) to figure out what projects I should focus on so that I'm moving forward in the right direction and not just filling up the hours in the day with things to keep me "busy." Thanks for the (indirect) reminder, Gregor!

Posted by Sooz at 05:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 08, 2005

Pinging Marqui

I've been unable to ping entries on Marqui's blog and I'm not sure what's up. I posted a comment on their blog but haven't heard back. I have never seen this error until trying to ping a Marqui entry last week. Maybe trackbacks are not configured properly in their Movable Type "weblog config" area?

This is the error I get when I try to ping them:

Ping 'http://blog.marqui.com/mt/mt-tb.cgi/12' failed: HTTP error: 404 Object Not Found

Here's a rant about trackbacks or crapbacks.

Posted by Sooz at 07:47 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Conversation Coordinators

Marqui has been talking about "conversastion coordinators" on their blog. I haven't had any direct interaction with their conversation coordinator. It seems like an interesting idea. Maybe this could be a task for PR departments instead of sending out press releases?

Speaking of conversation coordinators, I could really use one myself. I haven't had a chance to catch up with all the websites/RSS feeds I read. I'm about three days behind. I feel so out of touch!

Posted by Sooz at 07:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

New England Patriots Rolling Rally

Tom Brady

I was poking around flickr earlier to see if anyone had posted photos from this morning's rally and came across this excellent photo of Tom Brady, the quarterback for the New England Patriots.

[Originally uploaded by Ol' Mr Boston.]

Posted by Sooz at 01:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 07, 2005

Sondre Lerche Joins Elvis Costello on US Tour in April

One of my top ten favorite musicians, Sondre Lerche, will be joining Elvis Costello on the April leg of Elvis' tour around parts of the United States. From the looks of the tour schedule, they won't be stopping in Boston or anywhere else along the East Coast. Hopefully there will be more dates announced for May.

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Posted by Sooz at 03:46 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

JPG Magazine

JPG Magazine Issue 1: Origin

Issue numero uno of JPG Magazine arrived in my mailbox recently. The magazine is curated by Derek Powazek and Heather Powazek Champ. Each advertising-free issue features photo submissions that pertain to a specific theme. Issue number one is about "origin" and includes an interview with long-time photoblogger Emilie Valentine and features the photos of Noah Grey plus twenty nine photos submitted by other people towards the end of 2004. I am thoroughly in love with photo sharing websites like flickr but there is just something extra deluxe special about seeing these photographs in a printed booklet. Hopefully I'll have a chance to submit a photo for consideration for a future issue. Go buy a copy of JPG Magazine while it's still available!

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Posted by Sooz at 02:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 05, 2005

What's your Blogger number?

I had to log in to my ancient Blogger account to post a comment on Zephyr Teachout's blog and I noticed that they use a numbering system for accounts. I first used Blogger in November 1999 so my number is pretty low: 2805. This reminds me of a BBS I used (ISCABBS) when I first got online in 1993. A lot of my online pals wouldn't change their username/handles because they didn't want to lose their low number. Nostalgia!

Posted by Sooz at 07:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 02, 2005

Dabbling with Marqui, Part 2

I received an email from Alex at Marqui about my new "dabble mode" account. I haven't had a chance to use it; but I hope to dive in and dabble sometime soon.

I'm still wondering if they're letting anyone in who asks for an account or if there is a second step to qualify people. Is anyone at Marqui reading my weblog?

Posted by Sooz at 12:39 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Public Invite-Only Events

Peter Caputa at Whizspark is looking for people who organize events that are both available to the public and invite only. He'd like to test out a system that will help manage the registration process for these sorts of events. As I mentioned in the comments area of his weblog, I'm particularly interested in this right now because I'll be modifying the registration process for Free Agent Boston's monthly dinner. The way I've been doing it is I indicate numerous times throughout the body of the event info page that the event is specifically for people working solo or interested in it. More and more I'm finding that people who really don't fit those two qualifiers are showing up for the event. So, I've decided to put the questionaire in front of the registration/payment process so I can weed out the people who really shouldn't be attending.

Posted by Sooz at 10:28 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 01, 2005

Last Night's Boston Blog Meetup

Last night's Boston Blog Meetup was at Christopher's in Porter Square. A freelance writer for the Globe surprised us with a visit, too. I posted the list of attendees over at BostonBlogs.com.

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Posted by Sooz at 12:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack