Why are the get-rich-quick boys in such a HURRY?

Tim Burrowes, writing this week over at Aussie marketing/media website mUmBRELLA expressed this thought common to journalists everywhere:

The substance behind the Photon gossip

by Tim Burrowes June 17th, 2010
One of the perks – and frustrations – of being a journalist is that you often get to hear interesting gossip.
Perk because it’s nice to hear these things first. Frustrating because you often can’t stand up for publication what you’ve heard. …
Read on here

Ain’t that the truth, Tim? Well said.

Photon, if the name rings a bell, is the company which bought the now-infamous Geekversity er, enterprise … then shut it down at a big loss amid legal threats and a clamour for refunds. Browsing mUmBRELLA’s archives, it transpires there’s a lawsuit going on, apparently. It’s just one of the current woes beleaguering Photon.

Shaun Stenning promoting Geekversity. Seems like just yesterday. (Click)

Shaun Stenning, you may recall, was the ‘face’ of Geekversity, telling Australians and Kiwis he could turn ordinary mums and dads with ‘little or no computer experience’ into money-making internet marketing entrepreneurs. These “big claims” as one enthusiastic interviewer put it, turned out to be vapour. Watch the video.

Geekversity affiliates Dean Letfus and Steve Goodey gushingly promoted the short-lived Geekversity, uh, operation in New Zealand in effervescent terms until …

Geekversity/Geekdom crashed to a huge loss and refunded millions(?) [It's not clear] to avoid legal action by disappointed, oversold, aggrieved customers.

It turned out these “students” were not the only group who were disgruntled, apparently. According to the original report in the Sydney Morning Herald:

Former director sues Photon for $4.4m

by Julian Lee | SMH 29 Jan 2010
Just weeks after washing its hands of the controversial Geekversity internet get-rich-quick scheme, Photon Group is being sued for more than $4 million by a former director of one of its internet companies.

Late last year the listed marketing services company narrowly avoided a court action after aggrieved ”students” of the scheme, which charged people up to $21,000 to learn how to make money from internet traffic, demanded their money back.

Now a former director and principal shareholder of iMega, which at its peak generated monthly earnings of $750,000, is suing Photon for allegedly failing to pay $4.4 million in earn-out fees.

That’s interesting, I thought. Then there’s this from the same article which is fascinating: Continue reading →

My review of a recent Empower Education event

OK, if you don’t know I run Empower Education, that’s understandable. I don’t make a fuss about it here. (Separation of Church and State?)
But if you’re interested, here’s a review of a recent event Post-Budget Special Briefing and Property Q&A where three of my authors — Olly Newland, Mark Withers and Tony Steindle — shared their expert opinions about the effect of changes to property taxation announced in the recent NZ Budget and gave a market update.
Includes 7 minutes of audio samples and this example of my own deathless prose…

I never thought I’d write these words but one question was answered with, effectively, ‘The Tax Administration Act rides to the rescue!’ (Ha!)

Read the review at www.EmpowerEducation.com

For real?

Geography NOT a strong suit at WGNTV …

Image: thedailywh.at (click for link)

(via Huffington Post.)

Bloomberg calls Fox News on its uppityness

image: Huffington Post

Remember Helen Thomas ‘retired’ after her ‘Jews should go home (to Poland and Germany) comments?

Now the argy-bargy about which news organisation should get her front-row seat at the White House media briefing room is getting interesting.

Fox News (bleurgh) thinks they should because they gracefully conceded CNN should get one in 2007. They’ve dissed Bloomberg, the other contender, as ‘niche’ (ha!)

Here’s Bloomberg’s case to the White House Correspondents Association… (PDF 80k)

It nicely puts the overreaching graspers at Fox News in their place, in my reading.

These film guys have got a point

Reuters reported yesterday that film studio Summit Entertainment, which produces the “Twilight” film franchise, is suing a retailer that’s selling copies of a jacket worn by actor Kristen Stewart who plays heroine Bella Swan in the movies.

The studio filed a lawsuit against women’s fashion designer BB Dakota on Friday for copyright and trademark infringement. On the company’s website, BB Dakota advertises a blue cotton canvas jacket like this: “Bella Swann (sic) wears this jacket in Twilight and scores the hottest vampire in high school, and so can you!” …. In the lawsuit, Summit seeks an injunction against further sale of the item, all profits earned from the jacket, and — the horror! — it wants BB Dakota to “deliver to Summit for destruction all Bella Jackets.”

Look at the image of one of the BB Dakota ads. I think the studio has some justification in tackling them. So has Kristen Stewart — they’ve effectively [by name and image] made her an unpaid fashion model or endorser of their clothing line.

Not OK.

Inspiring clarity of purpose from John Gruber

What makes Daring Fireball an efficient and effective soapbox is exactly that it is not noisy. My goal is for not a single wasted word to appear anywhere on any page of the site. … It’s my firm belief that all websites eventually attract the attention and respect that they deserve. The hard work is in the “eventually” part.

I heart John Gruber when he writes like this.

Read the full post, please. I recommend it.

Very, very good.

UPDATE: Reflecting on his admirable ‘not a single wasted word’ philosophy (which I respect, even if I don’t always live up to it) I recalled the ‘dicknose’ T shirt pic of Gruber I saw at 9to5mac … which got me to thinking about a really cool shirt I saw the lovely Calli Lewis of geekbrief.tv wearing once … (In case you can’t read it, it says ‘With a shirt like this who needs pants?’)

Yeah, I find these funny. I have wide streak of geek in me. (So sue me.)

Pop, pure and simple …

I like this…
Bang Bang Bang by Mark Ronson & The Business Intl featuring Q-Tip and MNDR (Amanda Warner)
… and I like how it’s being marketed. Very cool. Very synergistic. (Smell the budget, too.)

Amanda Warner (MNDR) features in Mark Ronson's Bang Bang Bang (music video below the fold)

Continue reading →

The escape of exnzpat, Part 1

Conversation with a madman

It is important, I think, to explain more fully the circumstance that has brought me to this strange and terrible place, which up until a year ago, was an unremarkable life.

There are gaps in my memory – of this you know – but more – there are gaps in the story and so I shall do my best to bring you to this weary place I find myself in now.  Perhaps the place to begin is in the place where I first realized that salvation was possible for one so wretched as me.  It happened after many months in the asylum and it went something like this…

Here in my room I sit.  It is a special room, in a special place, for those of us that are criminally insane.  Yes, that is what I am now.  Here and now, in this room, I am at home.

Here in this room I sit.  The room appears to be much like a fancy hotel suite.  It is true too I have felt my way about it and there is a soft bed to sleep in, a soft carpet to walk on, and a dresser to keep my few clothes in; there is even a separate room with a sink, shower stall and toilet.  I am one of the lucky ones I guess, my wealth from my lawsuit has enabled my lawyer to provide me with such comfort not afforded others.  Though, I care little for any of it.

Here in my room I have searched, inch by inch, for a way to kill myself.  As each day lengthens, and the medicines they give me wear down slowly like an unwound clock, my mind gives in to remembrance of the excruciating details of that terrible night.  I see throttled little faces; I see crying and screaming.  It was a night with one arm deep in my tool box and the other deep in my children’s blood.  I am a monster!  But, NO!  I was possessed by a monster; the beastly dark enraged lost soul of the murderer Scudamour!  He was the monster all along — now gone to Hell!  But, it helps me not to know of these doings — I am a simple man – and here I sit.  Continue reading →

Misleading and deceptive

image: searchengineworkshops.com
(click for link)

In an previous post  OK, so it’s not a hopeless quest … I celebrated action being taken by the Commerce Commission against an outfit that, it seemed to me, was dubious in its operation.

This evening I read the news that the Securities Commission has taken the novel step of banning a financial advisor — after he was convicted of dishonesty offences: theft and forgery. Well, that’s worth marking too!

Is it too much to look forward to a ‘cleaning up’ of this severely discredited profession? I hope not.

I know of people with fraud convictions who have positioned themselves as ethical advisors — only time will tell what their disclosure statements say when the law compels them to produce them.

However, I note from the news story below that any such ‘advisors’ who “hold back information, provide a misleading, deceptive or confusing disclosure statement or advertisement” can be heavily punished.

Fair enough. That should sharpen things up a bit.

Adviser banned under new laws

By Tamsyn Parker | NZ Herald 15 June 2010 Continue reading →

First signs of Spring?

I noticed this in Howick this morning … first signs of Spring?

Can Spring be far away with signs like this?

By their fruit

Be more concerned with your character than your reputation,
because your character is what you really are, while your reputation
is merely what others think you are
— John Wooden legendary US basketball coach

Even a scoundrel can take comfort in the wisdom of John Wooden’s words, and I’m sure some do.

But the question of character goes deeper than shallow justifications or mealy-mouthed complaints about being misunderstood … or suffering for being ‘a tall poppy’.

Sometimes, despite our best defences, we bang up hard against unequivocal principles of (gasp) right and wrong.

I remember a cartoon in Winkie Pratney’s wonderful book Doorways to Discipleship which showed a man lying on his bed listening to a record (vinyl. Yes, it’s an old book) which repeatedly played an affirmation: “It’s alright Joe. Everybody robs a bank once in a while.”

Winkie was making the point, I think, that some things we do are wrong, period. No matter what we tell ourselves about it to rationalise the ‘crime’. We will pay a ‘price’ for that action.

image: http://heavenawaits.wordpress.com/997/

No folks, it’s NOT all a matter of perspective or situational ethics, as some suggest.
Some of those who ‘do’ bad things tell themselves they ‘are’ good people.
But it ain’t necessarily so. They’re liars, fools, or both.

I’m actually a fan of the saying: ‘Stupid is as stupid does’. So it is, I believe, with what we dangerously call ethics or morality. Our actions reveal our character. What we stand up for, what we oppose, what we build — it all counts.

On the sometimes contentious issue of judgement (i.e. Who the hell do you think you are to judge me?) I find it hard to go past what Christ said (and probably Confucius, Buddha, Plato, Homer, Shakespeare … who knows who else?) “You will know them by their fruit”

Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? — Matthew 7:15-16

To ‘beware’ of false prophets we must be able to recognise them and label them — which we can only do by discernment — judging them. That’s the game.

We shall know them by their fruit — their past results, their track record, their reputation — as I have said before here and elsewhere. These things reveal character, sometimes despite ardent declarations of ‘turning over a new leaf’ and noble-sounding professions of motivations which can, at times, smack of a dubious sales pitch …

Fair use — ‘iconic’ is a rationale

'Iconic' as rationale for fair use of someone else's (Martin Elliott's) copyright image — from wikipedia (click for link)

We’ve discussed ‘fair dealing’ and ‘fair use’ of other people’s intellectual property previously.

I stumbled across THIS useful explanation on wikipedia following a link from Jason Kottke on reproductions of classic photographs in lego and found it interesting enough — the copyright aspect — to quote in full here.

Lego Tennis Girl: ode to a 'classic' image. Yup. flickr.com/photos/balakov/sets (click for link)

Copyright is owned by Martin Elliott.

Fair use rationale for Tennis Girl

The picture is being uploaded in a scaled down low resolution version under fair rationale to illustrate an article of significant cultural and historical importance: namely this is alleged to be the biggest selling poster of all time and is an iconic image for the 1970s in the UK and beyond.

This image is iconic. No meaningful discussion about the subject can be had without reference to the image. The image was/is extremely widespread with over 2 million posters being distributed (see article for ref).

So to be clear the rationale:
1. Significant cultural and historical importance
2. The image is iconic
3. The image has widespread use
4. No meaningful discussion about the subject can be had without reference to the image
5. The use of this image does not limit or impinge on the image’s commercial use: namely sale as a full size poster.

This image is of a poster, and the copyright for it is most likely owned by either the publisher or the creator of the work depicted. It is believed that the use of scaled-down, low-resolution images of posters to provide critical commentary on the film, event, etc. in question or of the poster itself, not solely for illustration on the English-language Wikipedia, hosted on servers in the United States by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation, qualifies as fair use under United States copyright law.

Point #5 is the kicker for me: “The use … does not limit or impinge on the image’s commercial use…” … and all I’d add is: and the original source is properly attributed or referenced where possible.

What does it say about our ‘culture’ that Martin Elliott’s Tennis Girl is “alleged to be the biggest selling poster of all time and is an iconic image for the 1970s”? It is a playful image. Cheeky. (Ba-da-boom!)

image by Bruce McBroom/Pro Arts Inc. LIFE magazine 1976

I thought that ‘biggest-selling’ accolade went to the Farrah Fawcett poster at left (click thumbnail for a larger image) — which, when you think about it, I guess, has a similar ‘theme’… and truly was ‘iconic’ — if that means on A LOT of teenage boys’ bedroom walls. Ahem.

I seem to remember there was a black and white poster of Raquel Welch too … that was pretty ‘iconic’ too.
Yup … Definitely. No question about it.

More on ad blockers …

image: opindian.com (click for link)

Remember our earlier conversation about ad-supported sites suffering from increasing use of ad-blockers?

Well, a new round of quelle horreur!! has been prompted by the very recent release of Safari 5.0 with a Reader mode (which, it turns out, uses the open source code of the arc90 Readability java bookmarklet I’ve been happily using to improve my web-reading experience for ages now — who knew?)

Anyway, with Safari 5.0, this is the very useful adblock list (css stylesheet) I’m using at present.
Combined with Click2flash (which allows you to whitelist sites that don’t overdo the flash-bling-thing) … it’s working great.

And here is some wailing and gnashing of teeth about adblockers, prompted up by Apple’s new ‘Reader’ feature in the just-released version of Safari (although Jim Lynch has my sympathy):


and here’s his argument for NOT blocking the ads on his site:


Like I said, sympathy, but not convinced I should eschew the idea altogether. I blame the histrionics of some of the ads on newspaper sites. Desperate for revenue? Then don’t annoy the hell out of your readers.

As for ArsTechnica — well, they don’t expect anyone to take this seriously, do they? Oh dear.

Apple’s “evil/genius” plan to punk the Web and gild the iPad

By Ken Fisher |

….So how bizarre is it, then, when leaving Apple’s rosy App Store garden and entering the public square of the Web to find the following phrase on Safari 5′s “new features” page:

“Safari Reader removes annoying ads and other visual distractions from online articles.”

So the company that has made an advertising platform a major part of its iOS strategy is also hawking an ad-blocking technology for its Web browser, where it has no stake in ads. App Store: use our unblockable ads, developers! They help you get paid for your hard work! Web: hey, block some ads, readers! They’re annoying!

iPad: ‘a revolution, guys’ — Seth Godin

Marketing and web guru Seth Godin recently gave his friends at the Kindle team an open briefing on their options in response to Apple’s iPad selling at a rate of one every three seconds.

image: businessinsider.com (click for link)

It’s an interesting read from a number of points of view, not least: what are your options when your business has been outmanoeuvred? (Or “a pretty urgent moment”, Godin calls it.)

Fewer than you might think, in some ways. More in others.

Whatever, business-as-usual is a recipe for slow (or not-so-slow) decay.

Look for hidden values like camping on an audience/tribe/market’s infrastructure sweet spot, adding value … or, as Godin highlights, look for ways to become the ‘language’ or ‘medium’ of some other valuable transactions…

Any other ideas?

Helen Thomas interview

Helen Thomas is the 89 year old White House correspondent who ‘retired’ over her comments that ‘Jews should get the hell out of Palestine’, leave the ‘occupied’ land, and ‘go home’ to Poland, Germany and America. (Yikes! Jon Stewart had a take you can see here via Huffington Post.)

But this interview in Vice magazine is definitely worth reading. Not so much for the Israel stuff but her tough line on journalism and politics. An introductory line for flavour:

Besides, if we were 89 years old and had spent the last five decades watching a steady flow of spin and doubletalk issuing forth from the mouths of countless men (and a select few women) standing behind a podium with the White House seal on it, we might be getting a little grumpy by now too.

There’s a lot more to this woman than meets the eye. Read it at Vice Magazine here where they say: Don’t let Helen Thomas’s views on Israel alone define her for you.

I agree.

On a related note, it’s tragic to see that RabbiLive, who recorded the ‘infamous’ comments that Helen Thomas made so freely and published them (clips in the Daily Show extract above) — to worldwide acclaim, are copping hate mail:

An explosive reaction — and hate mail by the ton (click for link - but be warned: some of it's nasty)