Ryan Jones Blog – dotCULT.com Ryan Jones Blogs About Internet Culture, Marketing, SEO, & Social Media

April 29, 2008

I’m Finally a Level 70.

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 1:17 pm

My alter ego, Xeido, is now officially a level 70 night elf druid in the World of Warcraft. That’s the highest level obtainable right now.

It took me 20 days of playing time over the past many months, but last night at around 1am, I finally “dinged” that last time.

With that said, I can now officially say that World of Warcraft is the most addicting time suck in the world. If you want a social life after work, don’t start playing.

April 28, 2008

Making Baseball More Interesting

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 11:32 am

I’m a baseball fan. I love watching the Tigers (even all through the late 80’s and 90’s when they sucked) and I will watch no matter what. But that’s me. There’s a lot of people who think the game is boring – and I can see where they’re coming from.

The freakonomics blog has a post today about making baseball more interesting and I thought I’d share some ideas of my own.

Gone are the days where fans would drool over a 2-1 10th inning win pitchers duel. Now, they want offense. It’s the same problem as in the NHL. With that said though, I don’t think lack of offense is baseball’s biggest problem. I think too much time wasting is the problem. All the action of a 3 hour game can be condensed into 18 minutes of film. That’s the problem.

So how do we fix it?

  1. Limit the batter from stepping out of the box. Watching Cabrera bat, he has to step out, re strap his gloves, swing the bat, adjust his elbow and ankle things, spit, and re set his feet between every pitch. Why? If it’s a ball, he didn’t even move. I think the batter should only be allowed to step out of the box if he swung at the pitch. That allows them to re-adjust if they have to and still makes the game much quicker.
  2. Speaking of the batters box, it’s always gone by the time the 3rd hitter steps up. Guys will erase the inside line so that they can get away with crowding the plate. This makes it so the pitcher can’t throw high and inside. I say we put in a permanent box outline made out of home plate material. Players are supposed to be IN the box anyway, and the slippery surface will force them to not step on it while setting up. It’ll also be pretty harmless for sliding.
  3. Let’s change the innings required to get a win to 6. (4 if the game doesn’t go more than 7 innings.) The game has become too specialized with pitchers who will come in to pitch one batter. I remember the good old days before middle relief when pitchers routinely pitched a full game. Increasing this number to 6 will see starters stay out there longer and eventually generate more offense from the lack of specialized pitching.
  4. With the pitching changes we just made we can safely change the 25 man roster to a 23 man roster. There’s no longer a need for as much specialized pitching. Less players per team also builds recognition among the fans. Hockey has the same problem. Most fans in Detroit couldn’t name 3 Colorado Rockies or 2 members of the New York Islanders. A 23 man roster will help this.
  5. Another roster change is a call up rule. Often teams will send somebody down to the minors for rehab, or bring them up to the majors for a spot start. This is all fine and has to be done because of injuries, but it really turns the 25 23 man roster into a 40 man roster. Let’s impose a 15 day rule. Any players sent down to the minors have to stay for 15 days. Any players called up must also remain for 15 days before they can be sent back down.
  6. Expand the strike zone again. Actually, just call it the way it’s written in the rule book. The strike zone is unofficially shrinking more and more each year. Many umps have taken the letters to knees and turned it into waist to knees. Let’s bring back the high strikes. More strikes means more swinging which means more action for the fans. It’s also time to bring back the outside strike. Watch an ump set up next time and you’ll see him cheating toward the inside of the plate. This is because most foul balls go to the outside – the ump doesn’t want to get hit. It keeps him out of harm’s way, but it also gives him a poor view of outside strikes. It’s time to get the umps some proper protection.
  7. Make intentional walks instant. I know that technically a runner can run on an intentional walk pitch, but I don’t think it’s ever happened. This just wastes time while the commentator goes into some stupid story. If the pitcher wants to walk somebody, let them just point to first base and bring up the next guy.

So there you go. There’s some quick easy ways to make baseball a lot more interesting without really changing the rules of the actual game, the height of the pitchers mound, or the sizes of the field.

What do you think?

April 24, 2008

How NOT to email customers

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 2:47 pm

A while a go a family member sent me a link to her pictures on prestige portraits – a pretty well known photo company here that probably does 90% of area high school senior pictures and such.

Anyway, they have a feature that lets you email your comps to friends and family so that they can choose which ones they like. It’s a much cooler system than the “here’s your samples, give us a $300 deposit and bring them back later when you order” style that I had to do when I was in High School.

Where they’ve screwed up though, is that they automatically add all of these email addresses to their mailing lists. I say lists here, because I seem to get all kinds of promotions from them. They even emailed me how I can buy reprints of the photos I was looking at. I can see the thinking behind their marketing team, but there’s one major point at play here: I never gave you my email address, nor did I opt in. All of your marketing emails are in fact spam (and I report them as such to gmail.)

I found an unsubscribe link (which is very cludgy and barely works) but it seems to have worked.

For those of you in the marketing business: NEVER (repeat: NEVER) start enrolling people into newsletters if they themselves didn’t opt in to that newsletter. In fact, it should always be a double opt in where they confirm it from an email.

Prestige, please change your policy. I’m probably not the only pissed off person.

April 18, 2008

TextBunch: Group Text Messaging Made Simple

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 10:06 am

I’m happy to announce that I just launched another site today. It’s something I’ve been working on for a long time now, but couldn’t really decide on a name for. The new site is called TextBunch.com. It’s “group messaging made simple.”

If you’ve ever been on a softball team, bowling league, or even had a fantasy baseball draft you probably know how much of a pain it can be to call everybody and let them know when the game is, or what time the draft starts. TextBunch solves that problem.

At it’s core, TextBunch is basically a text message mailing list. Users can create a group, add members to that group, and then easily send a message to that group. Right now group sizes are limited to 10 members, but as the site comes out of beta that will soon change.

I’ve got a few more features planned, but I wanted to get the site out there so that you can play around with it first. (Plus, I needed to use it for today’s softball practice.) So create a group and tell me what you think.

April 17, 2008

Do You List Your Cell On Your Business Card?

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 1:54 pm

How many people out there list their cell phone on their business card? It’s something I’ve always done, but am starting to see less and less of. As a fan of this practice, I only list my cell on my current business card. In fact, I’ve often refused to have a company line opting instead to use my cell or skype for everything.

In a smaller company, listing your cell phone is a great way to get intimate with your customers. Knowing they can get a hold of you in an emergency is a great benefit for most people. From my experience customers rarely abuse this, opting only to call you if it’s extremely important.

With that said, there are a few times it can be a bad idea. I remember once being yelled at by a boss when the CEO of a company called me on a Sunday wanting some text changed on a yet to be released feature and I told him that I wouldn’t be able to do it until Monday. I happened to be at a Michigan football game, and there was no way I was going to get to a computer. All in all, these experiences are rare to me.

Then there’s the occasional “old business card” folly. I was woken up today by a frantic employee of a company that I had worked with in my last job. I left that job over 6 months ago, but this employee had no way of knowing that. She was panicking because the prices on her website were wrong, and wasn’t very happy when I told her that I no longer worked for that company. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the number of anybody there who she could call either.

So what do you think? Are cell phones on a business card a good idea or a bad one? What are your experiences?

April 15, 2008

Can I Bid on Trademarked Terms? Yes!

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 2:09 pm

There seems to be a lot of confusion about this question on the internet. I was unable to find a decent website that deals with bidding on trademarked terms on Google adwords and it’s pretty well hidden in their TOS, so here goes.

Oh yeah. Now’s also a good time to say that everything on my blog reflects MY opinions and and views, and not those of my employers (current, past, or future.)

So can you advertise on trademarked terms?

Yes – if you don’t include that term in your ad title, text, or url. In other words, I can bid on the word “Kleenex” as long as my ad doesn’t say “Kleenex” Instead, I’d have to use a generic term like “facial tissue” in my ad.

To quote the adwords TOS: (for the US, UK, Ireland, and Canada) “When we receive a complaint from a trademark owner, we only investigate the use of the trademark in ad text. If the advertiser is using the trademark in ad text, we will require the advertiser to remove the trademark and prevent them from using it in the future. Please note that we will not disable keywords in response to a trademark complaint.”

That last sentence is particularly useful. Google doesn’t care what you bid on, they care about what’s in your ad.

So should you bid on trademarked terms?

Absolutely! Especially if it’s a case of Kleenex, Chap Stick, Q-Tips, or any other trademark that has now become synonymous with the product. Even if you’re not selling a product, it can be helpful to bid on the name of your competitors. If you sell blue widgets for a price lower than company X, then by all means you should be biding on the term “company X” with an ad like “Blue Widgets – 10% cheaper than the competition” or something.

What do I do if somebody is outbidding me for my trademark?

You have a few options here. #1 is to simply outbid them. If somebody is searching for your trademark, it’s probably a very good lead and you can pay more for it. #2 is simply let them. It’s your trademark, they’re looking for it by name already, chance are they’re going to click your ad. #3 is to work on your organic SEO. If you’re not showing up in the #1 organic spot for your name, you need to be. This is really simple to do for trademarked terms.

OK great, but what do I do if somebody is using my trademark in their ad?

If you own the trademark and somebody else is using it in their ad, you should report it to Google. You can do that using this form.

If they’re simply bidding on your keyword there isn’t much you can do. It’s perfectly legal. The famous American Blinds case showed us this. Of course, chances are that American Blinds already knew this before they tried to sue, since they were even doing it themselves.

If somebody is bidding on your trademark though, you may want to check out their website to make sure that they’re not using it there. Chance are they aren’t, but it can’t hurt to check.

I hope this clears up advertising on trademarks. It can be a very profitable advertising strategy if done right.

April 14, 2008

Couple Doesn’t Understand Privacy, Sues Google Anyway.

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 11:25 am

According to The Smoking Gun, yet another couple is suing Google for showing images of their house on the Google Streetview.

For those unfamiliar, StreetView is where Google drives trucks down the streets and takes pictures of everything. While it has provided us with some pretty amusing images, it’s hardly a violation of privacy.

See, there’s no reasonable expectation of privacy in your front yard. Let me say that again:

Anything in plain sight from a public place cannot have an expectation of privacy.

The issue here is that they claim they had a “private road” sign. But does a small sign put up by the homeowner make it a private road? Their street exists on a public map, and they list that street as their address – thus the mailbox is on that road too.

They claim that Google is lowering their home value by having pictures of it on the internet. OF course, the county assessor also has pictures of the house on the internet.

In a classic use of the Striesand sydrome, the lawsuit only drew more attention to their house – causing many to comment that they’d be better served spending their lawyer money on a lawn.

Perhaps the next couple should just ask Google to remove the image instead of drawing more attention to themselves.

April 11, 2008

Network Solutions Advertising On Clients Websites

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 10:28 am

Slashdot reported something interesting today. Basically, some neat language in the Network Solutions TOS.

It says:

“You also agree that any domain name directory, sub-directory, file name or path (e.g.) that does not resolve to an active web page on your Web site being hosted by Network Solutions, may be used by Network Solutions to place a “parking” page, “under construction” page, or other temporary page that may include promotions and advertisements for, and links to, Network Solutions’ Web site…'”

Basically, whenever somebody follows a broken link or goes to a 404 page, Network Solutions will put up a page with ads instead. This is underhanded and shady, and I hope that they at least leave the URL in the address bar of the browser.

It’s similar to what Comcast and WOW (and probably other cable providers) are doing by redirecting all 404 traffic to their own ad filled page. This practice annoys me on 2 levels. First there’s the ads, and then they replaced what I typed so I can’t see if I spelled it wrong and have to re-type the whole thing over again.

I’m not one for regulation of the internet, but when all of my provider choices seem to be doing the same unfair practice, what other option is left?

April 7, 2008

A (literally) UnTapped Market

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 1:01 pm

Quick. You want to put in a sprinkler system in your yard. Who do you call?

I’ve been asking that question for a while now. There doesn’t seem to be a major company that does this. Sears, Home Depot, and Lowes don’t seem to offer the service, and they won’t recommend any good companies.

Looking at the industry as a whole, there doesn’t appear to be anybody actually marketing the service.

I need sprinklers, privacy lattice fences, and a new front lawn. I’ve got the money in my hand and will pay for it today – yet I can’t find anybody willing to come take this money out of my hand. As a marketing professional, that spells epic FAIL.

Searching Google shows up a few vague companies who don’t have websites. I called a couple, but none of them answered (and most were just cell phones)

A got a flyer on my door about it a few days ago, and called, but it said “sorry, the voicemail box belonging to Mario is full” That’s right, he put his cell phone number on the flyer and didn’t even list the company name on the voicemail. I’m going to assume from the full voicemail box that his flyer worked pretty well for him.

So there’s companies out there doing this, and they probably do pretty well by word of mouth and random door to door flyers – but that’s it. There’s so much potential here and nobody seems willing to step up to the plate.

If you own a lawn care / property maintenance company there’s no reason you shouldn’t have a website. There’s also no reason you shouldn’t be running local ads on all of the search engines. If you’re in the Detroit area, it will probably be very successful because you currently don’t have any advertising competition.

If you’re a product manager at Lowes, Sears, or Home Depot, you should think about offering this service. I think it could be very profitable.

A Note On The Tigers

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 10:46 am

The Tigers (arguably one of the best teams in the league on paper) have lost 6 straight. Everybody panic right? No, not really.

At the game the other day, I couldn’t help but notice all the boos anytime the team was losing. Lately, it’s been every walk, every allowed hit, and every error. It’s disgusting and it’s not going to help the team win. I don’t want this to turn into a “Leave the Tigers Alone” screaming post, but I’m really starting to get annoyed by all the fair weather fans out there.

It’s baseball, and it’s a long season. there’s really no difference between going 0-6 to start, or 6-6 to start. The line becomes even blurrier when you realize that you can start 6-0 or 0-6 and still end up 20-15 in a few weeks.

The Tigers will pull out of the slump and they will have a fine season. Getting some middle relief help (or Zumaya and Rodney off of the DL) wouldn’t hurt much either, but that’s not going to happen. In today’s baseball market, every team is currently looking for middle relief help.

Oh, and to all the fair weather fans: Stop going. If you’re going to go boo, why pay for a ticket? It’ll make it much easier for me to park, and maybe give me some elbow room when I’m there.

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