Sunday, November 30, 2008

Fun with TypeAnalyzer

Ok, two references to something really cool has piqued my interest. Essentially, there's a web service in beta called "TypeAnalyzer", which aims to analyze your personality based upon the text from the URL you pass into it.

Using my blog as input produced the following synopsis as to who I am:

ISTP - The Mechanics

    The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment are masters of responding to challenges that arise spontaneously. They generally prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal conflicts.

    The Mechanics enjoy working together with other independent and highly skilled people and often like seek fun and action both in their work and personal life. They enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters.

I have to comment here -- "Yep, that's me ;)"

It's interesting to me that I've gravitated to Rosetta (Formerly Brulant). Rosetta has the highest genius quotient of any place I've ever been. I haven't done the policeman / firefighter gig, but I do own 2 rather fun vehicles and have upon occasion found myself having to use the cruise control on them more as an override than for the purpose of eliminating the manual "chore" of regulating speed. The reason for this is related to a phenomena of a dawning recognition, as hard as you might find this to believe (but trust me, I'm not making it up), whereby I look down and have a cow at the numbers that the little needle on the dash are indicating at that moment in time. The last one was in excess of 110...

In other words, TypeAnalyzer seems to have a pretty good lock on a lot of my personality traits. It's interesting that it does this from analyzing my text and that it can pull it off in a rather short amount of time. I'm sure this thing could be useful for all kinds of insanity -- you're interviewing a person and want to understand them, or maybe on your present or potential boss.

It's a fun gadget. I aimed it at my resume to see what came up:

ENTJ - The Executives

    The direct and assertive type. They are especially attuned to the big picture and how to get things done. They are talented strategic planners, but might come off as insensitive to others needs and appear arrogant. They like to be where the action is and like making bold and sweeping changes in complex situations.

    The Executives are happy when their work let them learn and improve themselves and how things work around them. Not being (sic) very shy about expressing their ideas and often very outgoing they often make excellent public speakers.


Well, I have done a lot of public speaking events and it's rather obvious that I do have lofty career aspirations. This is potentially another view of me. I decided to aim the thing at all of the articles I've written for

ISTJ - The Duty Fulfillers

    The responsible and hardworking type. They are especially attuned to the details of life and are careful about getting the facts right. Conservative by nature they are often reluctant to take any risks whatsoever.

    The Duty Fulfillers are happy to be let alone and to be able to work int heir own pace. They know what they have to do and how to do it.

Maybe that's a reflection of my abject terror of making factual errors in my stories that I publish in my role as a journalist for the site.

For the fun of it, I took it down to just one of my stories (FeriCyde Chat: The Linux Virus Threat List for 2005), a joking number in which I pretty much lambaste facets of the industry under the guise of warning the readership about viral threats. I need to do a current one, it's always a popular format. Anyway, the cool thing is that it came back with the same analysis as the first pass at my blog, so I was happy.

Regardless, it's a lot of fun. If you've done a lot of writing on the web, it's probably not a bad idea to do some introspective snooping on your work for the heck of it.

Many thanks to Doc Searls who as usual wrote something to get the ole brain in gear. His article on TypeAnalyzer can be found here.

Happy ThanksGiving Everyone!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Muscle-Car Melt-Down

I find it totally ironic as a follower and lover of all things Pony-car that Chevy is about to ship the new Camaro right around the time that Chrysler is releasing the charger for the masses. Here we are, approaching 2010, and the big three are about to get the pony-car formula right!

Horsepower, engineering, look and feel -- it's all good. The Mustang tweaks have been kinda lame, actually, in comparison. But the irony is this -- they're all about to go belly-up. Ford stands the best chance of survival of the three, but it hardly matters -- all these cool pony cars may not survive the next round of hybrid-mania.

I'm really kind of torn about it too. Honestly the whole fossil-fuel thing is getting kind of old. Congress should be bailing out -- of the bail-out game. It's ironic, and unfortunate that the big three are here, but honestly you can't say that it hasn't been a long time coming.

Fuel prices are at an amazing low too -- but everyone pretty much knows that this isn't a long-term gambit we're testing here. We need to be looking at getting out of the combustion-engine game. The sooner the better for national security. The problem is that with low fuel prices come throngs of people that want to be driving the family (or just themselves) around in a 5000-6000lb monstrosity. The prediction that this was a short-lived game to be playing isn't exactly rocket-science. Sure, there's demand -- for the next 10 minutes to the next ten months -- heck even the next ten years. But sooner or later you'd have to be an idiot to not see the end of the cheap-gas era.

Ford has, for example, been for years dumping out lots of cool SUV-like things. Honda just started a couple of years ago shipping the Fit. Nissan has the Versa. Toyota has the Yaris. All of these vehicles appeared at roughly the same time. Why? Were the Japanese auto manufacturers some kind of sage gurus with magic Chrystal balls in the closet?


Obviously they were doing something proactive about the coming crunch. They're all playing the hybrid space. It's not like all of this is outside of the realm of Detroits' manufacturing prowess either. GM even shipped some electric vehicles a while back (leased them to buyers who loved them).

The reason Detroit is on the rocks, in other words, is related to the really cool Muscle cars they've just shipped.

Don't get me wrong -- I love em all!

(But I don't think I'm going to be alone in avoiding the purchase of them like the plague.)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Social Media as a Marketing Vector

You might want to weigh in on this poll. There's a lot of cool stuff going on with Social networking. Facebook, Myspace and Linkedin are all the rage for a lot of people. I for one have Linkedin as one of my multiple home pages -- if you don't have this setup with Firefox or the latest version of Internet Explorer, you're really missing out -- basically when I pop a new browser window, 7 or so pages load at once, so I can check all the things I care about in my life simultaneously. Linkedin is one of those pages.

I check facebook probably once a day (it's not a default page) -- from a work perspective it's just not as valuable. Great for distractions though.

What's budding is the value of using this technology to market products. It reminds me of the old interactive TV idea. Remember this? There was once going to be a time when TV had like an attached keyboard and you were going to be able to do cool stuff to supposedly interact with what was going on. I won't go off track here much -- things like the Cue Cat, for example, prove that getting traditional marketing channels to be more interactive are difficult at best.

WebTV was, from what I could tell, an attempt to kind of go that direction. It just didn't make a whole lot of sense at the end of the day. Why? Mostly because TV infected the Web first, and I would add that as a second vector, the Web is far more interactive and entertaining than any set of "channels" with interactive componentry. The concept isn't exactly dead -- it's just not exactly something all that effective -- the reasons why will become more clear as the concept of Social Media in the context of interactive marketing are exploited going forward.

Microsoft is supposedly reworking the WebTV concept for Version two (due to ship sometime soon).

Don't hold your breath on that one...

Social media as a marketing concept is different in a lot of ways. Social media itself is basically another set of nebulous vectors aimed at connecting people. When you look at the potential to harness it to get the word out for new products and ideas, the differences (in my opinion) stand out:

  • Less centralized control.
  • More motivation by the target audience to use the service to their ends.
  • It's more or less a free service to the people that use it.
  • No hard-wired anything (hardware, software etc -- you just need an internet connection and a web browser to join the party).
  • It's basically a blank canvas from a format perspective -- anything goes.
  • People are more emotionally connected to it.
I think this has a lot more potential to work, for all of the above reasons. I think traditional marketing people may be totally frightened by some of the vectors mentioned above -- mainly the decentralization of the beast. In the old days of TV, magazines and traditional marketing this wasn't the case so much.

Sure, you were free as a public citizen to create your own radio, TV station or magazine -- but that's not quite the same thing as creating a facebook page or updating some information on -- and yes, I think this analogy applies.

It's very much the same kind of decentralization that Linux has brought to the operating system world (see, I knew there was a way to drag Free Software into the conversation). That world is better (in my humble opinion) and I think this kind of marketing is going to be better for all the same vectors.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Time asks: Is GM worth Saving?, which I think is a leading headline. Like "Aren't these puppies cute?", it leads the reader to a conclusion before they begin to read.

Where's the headline like this: "Is Tesla, the innovative electric car maker worth saving?" No where to be found on there. GM has for years had tons of cash and potential. They, along with other US automakers, have had opportunities to focus upon continuous improvement of their products. They have potential -- but it's going to be a bumpy road for them.

Handing them cash to fix the problem may sound like a great idea -- after some banking bail-outs by the government, why not major automakers?

This is the "logic" being applied.

Anyone that knows me personally knows that I've not been a huge fan of GM products. I've owned exactly one GM product in my life -- a 1974 Nova that my wife had when we got married. I didn't purchase the car. It never let me down but when I sold it there was an amazing list of things that had broken on the car.

  • The interior lighting.
  • The door latches inside the car.
  • The hinges.
  • The speedometer.
  • One of the rear leaf springs.
  • The fuel gauge.
  • The body (lots of rust).
  • The rear brakes, including the parking brake.
  • The ventilation system.
And that's the short list. I joked at the time that the only thing that worked was the engine, transmission and rear end. It was a road hazzard. At the time I lived in Niles Ohio, the epicenter of General Motors loyal buyer-base. Surrounded by Lordstown employees (a plant that made cars) and Packard Employees (At the time, the place where the wiring for most GM cars was manufactured), I had an easy time unloading it for a few hundred bucks. Some kid came along with stars in his eyes and drove off happily in the thing.

And, short of a Corvette, the GTO and the new Camaro, there hasn't been much they've made that even came near drawing my attention. They talk a lot about making electric vehicles (and did at one time pilot a few in California), but honestly for the size of the company and the amount of engineering talent on tap, the sad fact is that they haven't been all that innovative.

Now we're talking about cutting them a check. For what? A reward for not being innovative? That's my call.

We're starting to find more and more reasons to reward executives for a lack of sound leadership (that's my concern) by doing things like this. And I think the long-term health of our economy is being jeopardized by actions like this.

Of course, it's going to take some serious examples of why bailouts are bad for the health of the country before anyone will totally understand this -- honestly I think we're (America) being too protective of things like GM and as a country we should be more protective of new innovative things. Tesla, for example, is far harder to get going, and in the long run, far more likely to truly be innovative.

What we're experiencing is the antithesis to the dot com era -- instead of a lot of people hyping stuff that will never pay off and sucking down massive amounts of VC, we're seeing the government putting things that are failing on life support. Wild speculation here: Both ventures, despite living at opposite ends of the funding, political and lifecycle spectrum, are huge wastes of capital.

Will GM survive? Why not let the market decide that one?

Let's hope I'm wrong about the cash, but experience tells me otherwise.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Social Media Zeitgeist

Several years ago, one of my friends, Brian Thompson, sent me an invite for this thing, called "". I remember seeing the invitation in my email and thinking, what the heck is this?

Fast forward to today. I'm over at over 400 connections and has pretty much become a lot of things for me -- my resume is obsolete -- oh, yeah, I still update it pretty frequently -- but it's almost irrelevant. Why? Because my resume is to LinkedIn what the old search engines are to Google's search algorithm. That is, obsolete. Why again? Because my resume says nothing about who I know or who I did what with way back when.

Linked-in has become a lot of things to me. It's a way for me to stay connected and to know at a glance who's doing what, where and with whom. It's a digital extension to my (pretty outgoing) geek personality. It's a Rolodex of sorts. It's a nifty spamming tool as well...

Blogging came about a different way. I used to write a lot for technical publications (Linux Today, LXer, Linux Planet) and that was a creative outlet. As I became somewhat less connected to Linux as a focal point (some might use the words "less obsessed") I began to find myself wanting to write about things that were completely unrelated to anything technical. I realized that I needed to blog the stuff and started doing that as a natural progression.

FaceBook was something different. I came across FaceBook like this, looking over a co-workers shoulder one day: "Oh, hey, that's like linked-in, but for friends." Yes, this is intended to be funny. I decided to create a FaceBook page at that point, after realizing that there was indeed value in being digitally connected on the friendlier side of things.

And now something similar is happening with Twitter. I'm assimilating it today. I'm not going to try an sell you on it (although if you want a good reason to start using it, with some idea of the kind of banter you're going to be exposed to, here's a good article by Adam Cohen -- DISCLAIMER: Adam is one of the partners at my firm, a marketing company, who's really into social media.)

Of course, no good technology gets swallowed by me with out it being complicated (improved?) by more technology -- so I also recommend reading this article on how to update Twitter using a shell script. For those of you non-Linux/Unix geeks out there, just ignore this portion of the article. You'll sleep better not knowing what you're missing out on, being able to type command-line-level things to update your cool web gadgetry.

So, now I'm able to update my blog, facebook and tweet -- all at once. If only I could get this thing to update the status message on my corporate messaging/mail client at the same time.


If you're really bored feel free to twitter @fericyde -- bonus points if you can pull it off from a shell prompt ;)