Policy With No Input

Google, Chase, AT&T, Geico, etc, Video Web Commercials Suck

Google, Chase, AT&T, Geico, etc, Video Web Commercials Suck

You shouldn't have to watch a commercial to see every new story on a website.

You shouldn’t have to watch a commercial to see every new story on a website.

It’s the latest advertising model–you go to almost any news website and click on a story that has video and a commercial from Google, Chase, AT&T, Geico, a car company, SOMEONE is going to run.

What do I do? One of three things. 1) I stop the video about three or four seconds into it, 2) I want to watch the piece I actually wanted to watch, so I turn off the audio so I don’t hear the spot, 3) I leave the page completely.

And I’m not alone. I’ve polled PR professional colleagues in Dallas about this and the responses were the same.

This model of advertising is NOT working.

No one should have to watch four Chase Bank commercials to view four video stories on CNN.com or Fox News or any news site over and over and over.

And what sense does it make for me to be forced to watch the same spot that’s over saturated on TV, too?

STOP IT!

Advertisers and website managers, this isn’t working. If I could create an automated function that made my browsers go from one page to the next on a site like CNN so your spots would run 24/7 and no one would see them and I’d run up an expensive bill for you, I’d do it in a heartbeat if this would get your attention.  Gosh, maybe that’s the answer and give it away to friends across Facebook so they’d launch it on their systems, too, and then…

This model is NOT working. I am not going to watch your spots like this. And I hope other people won’t either.  No one should have to watch umpteen commercials to get information that should be free across the net, and if sites like CNN are going to go full bore on such tactics, well, I’ve pretty much moved on from CNN as a news source anyways.

 

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AT&T Network Resetting in Montgomery, AL

AT&T Network Resetting in Montgomery, AL

UPDATE May 31, 2014: A rep from AT&T via Twitter said thanks and this post had been a great help. I’m glad it was. I spend a lot of money, too much money, every month with AT&T.  Glad an outsider could help them fix an issue. Screen Shot 2014-05-31 at 7.38.21 PM

Last night I posted a thread about not being able to text photos via iMessage to my mom and sister in Montgomery, AL. They both have iPhones and are on AT&T.

To his credit, George from AT&T responded via Twitter and then put me on the phone with an operator who literally wanted to “Axe” me a few questions.  (Really? You’d figure internal screening and training would have put a stop to this.)

Back to the problem. For more than three weeks now photos have not been going thru to AT&T iPhones in Montgomery and I have figured out why, not by talking to AT&T, who says their systems are working fine, but through talking to three different people at Apple.

RESET NETWORK SETTINGSAT&T network resetting

Apparently, AT&T has done something lately to their network in Montgomery, AL which is precluding photos from outside the city to come thru. I’ve had others from around the country try to text into the Capital City and received the same results.  I tried this with another iPhone user in Montgomery, this one using Verizon, and the photo went straight thru.

To remedy the problem, go to Settings > General> and then all the way down to RESET > and then down to RESET NETWORK SETTINGS. Tap that setting and follow the prompts. The phone will then reconnect with the towers in Montgomery and on my mom’s phone, she can once again receive photos via iMessage from outside of Montgomery.

 

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CNN TO FURLOUGH ‘UNNECESSARY REPORTERS’ UNTIL MH370 IS FOUND

Editor’s Note: Dear Onion, you’re welcome. 

CNN TO FURLOUGH HUNDREDS OF ‘UNNECESSARY REPORTERS’ UNTIL MH370 IS FOUND

(CNN) The president of CNN Worldwide, Jeff Zucker, Thursday announced that the global news network will be issuing furloughs to more than 350 employees worldwide until MH370 has been found in order to save the media company thousands in salaries for doing nothing else while a handful of crack reporters, including Erin Burnett, Wolf Blizter, Pamela Brown, and Don Lemon carry out their endless filibuster of BREAKING NEWS coverage about the Malaysian missing plane.Unknown

“We’ve decided that we’re wasting money with all these other folks around and in order to save on the CNN budget, the best thing to do is to just send people home until the plane is found,” Zucker said. “We’re not going to cover another damned thing until we know exactly what happened on Flight MH370.”

Zucker said that the meant cable network was forgoing its exhaustive campaign to promote same-sex marriage in America, Putin’s land grab in Crimea and even President Obama’s trip to Europe and Saudi Arabia.

“I don’t’ care what’s going on in Michigan, the Crimea or what Obama’s doing unless the pilots turn out to be in favor of gay marriage, if the Malaysian plane landed in Crimea or the president is releasing the NSA audio of the phone call the pilot made right before takeoff,” Zucker said. “If it doesn’t involve MH370, it’s not news and it’s not going to be on CNN, so anyone not covering this story, well, we just need them to go home until we need them to come back.”

Zucker said his crack team of Blitzer, Burnett and Lemon have been driving up ratings the past 20 days since the plane went missing.

“Every other potential breaking news story is going into a Black Hole,” Zucker said. “We have spent more covering stories we didn’t report on air than the US government has reported spending in the air covering the search.”

Zucker said he is proud of the endless coverage his network has provided in the month of March.

“It’s been madness. I never knew we had such dedicated reporters who can sit there on set and say the same thing over and over and over and over and over with such limited information and make it sound fresh and new day after day after day after day after day,” Zucker said. “Hell, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say the plane had just crashed yesterday the way Wolf gets on there and talks about pingers and batteries and satellite imagery. This is what journalism is all about—giving the public a fresh insight on the very thing we have reported every day for the past 20 days at the same hour of every day since.”

Zucker said once the plane is found, he will consider bringing many of their staff back to work, but only until the plane is found. Otherwise, he said, there’s no need for them to come to work.

 (In case you are actually that dense, this is all fiction and tongue in cheek satire of how ridiculous the coverage on CNN has become.)

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Things We’re Hoping For In iBooks Author 3.0

Things We’re Hoping For In iBooks Author 3.0

On Oct. 22, Tuesday of next week, fellow Auburn graduate Tim Cook is slated to take the stage to reveal all that’s new with Apple and as usual, that is primarily going to focus on new iPads, MacBook Pros, the Mac Pro and the new OS X version called Mavericks. What he also likely will do is include a reference to books for iPad and iBooks Author, but those announcements and presentations often seem like he’s either got to get to the rest room or his car is double parked out on the street and he has to leave.  Sadly, we truly wish Apple was going to place more of a priority on books for iPad as they truly are the way of the future and the best digital learning tool available for kids of all ages in existence.

So in Tuesday’s announcement, we’re hoping for some announcements about improvements to the free software that can be used to make books for iPad.  Ultimately, we’d like to see these three things in iBooks Author 3.0.

1. Ability to change the background color in images v. galleries-Presently, when one loads a photo image into a book for iPad and sets it so that it can be tapped and expanded to the 2048 x 1536 pixel range of the screen, depending on how large the image is, it is going to display on a white background. Apple has said over the phone that this is largely done because images can be .pdfs and they think those display better against a white background, but in a world where not everything is that simple, we really wish they’d add one more button or tick box to change this presentation feature. We have a client right now who is insistent that images in his work should appear on a black background and the only way to try to trick iBooks Author into doing that is to make all images one-image galleries, and well, that’s not working out real well because the software also names the images as galleries when there’s really only one image.

2. Ability to leave social note thread discussions within a book-Social discussions within a group project are the way of the future. Already Apple has added “share” functionality within books for iPad, but we think it should be expanded so that teachers, authors, and classmates can all leave live notes right there in a group discussion in context to the pages where they’re happening. This would open an entirely wider array of functionality and effectiveness in discussions.

3. Ability to read books for iPad on any mobile device, not just on Mavericks Macs and iPads-Think Quicktime here. It works on any computer platform. That’s what’s needed for books for iPad that presently only work on the iPad or iPad mini. At the announcement, Apple is going to say that these books for iPad now will work in the new desktop operating system Mavericks, but what is really needed is a common platform that will make them available on a Kindle, Nook, Nexus 7, Surface, PC, ANYTHING.  The 3D imagery, the interactive widgets, all of the stuff that sets books for iPad apart from the horrifically limited functionality of EPUB 2.0.1 and EPUB 3.0 need to be made available in a Quicktime-type of widget/app that can be loaded onto these other platforms. Apple would significantly expand its revenue base for the sale of these books and capture a greater share of the book market.  It makes absolutely no sense at all to keep this as an Apple-limited product.

Will any of this come about Tuesday? We can only hope.  And Tim Cook, when you talk about books for iPad and iBooks Author, please, slow down a bit. All the other stuff is cool, but there are those of us out here in the wilderness who are forging a path to the future with these great tools and we think they deserve a lot more time and attention.

EDITORS NOTE: Last Friday in San Antonio, I gave a presentation about books for iPad that you can download for free and see some of the cool 3D images, puzzles, interactive timelines, and tools I reference above. If you need these made for your own classes, schools, or companies, please give me a call today at 214-364-7240.  A copy of my presentation is available for download from a public link on Dropbox.

 

 

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iBooks Author Full Screen Background Now Black: How’d We Do That?

iBooks Author Full Screen Background Now Black: How’d We Do That? 

As we noted before, Apple defaulted the background screen in iBooks Author to display photos on a WHITE background when an image is displayed full-screen. One of our clients didn’t like that and said it washed out the image. He was right.  In Gallery in iBooks Author, full-screen display changes the background to BLACK and images punch out much better. (Look at the last two images in this post. You’ll see what we mean.)

The problem is, by Apple’s design, there’s no way to change the background from white to black or any other color.  Apple has decided they shall remain on a white bg.

So how did we get around this?

STEP 1:

iBooks Author's Inspector Window Featuring Gallery

iBooks Author’s Inspector Window Featuring Gallery

In the Inspection window, the last tab to the right has a Layout/Interaction menu for working with photos.  Even if you just want to display one picture, we recommend you drop the GALLERY widget onto a page, and then load in the one image. (Of course, images should be .pngs, no larger than 2048 x 1536, and have a dpi of 132).  This is an important step. You cannot just change an Image over to the Photo designation we’re going to describe for this to work!

STEP 2:  To create a new option under the drop down menu, highlight Gallery and hold it.  You will see the “Edit Label Styles … ” dialogue area at the bottom of the menu open.  Click on it.

Hold down Gallery for this new menu to open.

Hold down Gallery for this new menu to open.

STEP 3: A new dialogue box will open allowing you to either add (+) or delete options(-).  Press + and name your new setting.  We chose PHOTO since Image is already in use and we didn’t want to create confusion.

STEP 4: Go to the Inspector window after highlighting the Gallery listing for the image and change it from Gallery to Photo (or whatever designation you created.) Then add whatever titling and caption options that are necessary for the style of your project.

That’s really all you have to do.  You’ve now created a Gallery widget and changed it’s designation, but it’s still technically a Gallery widget. You’re just going to display one photo in it.

 

 

What’s the difference?

Here’s the image saved as a straight up Image file in iBooks Author when the image is increased to full-screen:

A full-screen image in iBooks Author displays on an annoying white background.

A full-screen image in iBooks Author displays on an annoying white background.

 

This is what happens once you follow the steps outlined above–loading an image in a Gallery and then changing it’s designation to Photo or the name of your choosing.

A Gallery Widget in iBook Author Renamed To Photo to Display on a Black Background.

A Gallery Widget in iBook Author Renamed To Photo to Display on a Black Background.

 

One Small Problem: The only problem with this solution is the fact that Gallery photos are formatted in a 2:3 proportion and there’s no changing that. This will only work if you don’t care if you can’t show the entire image in the window, meaning it will have to be popped open to display in full.  So, while it is a solution, it doesn’t match the power of displaying and entire image as you can with just Image.

Obviously, it’d be easier to fix this if Apple provided a setting for it, but they don’t and from conversations with them, it doesn’t sound like it’s going to happen anytime soon.  So here’s the workaround and thanks, Apple.

Once you create the Photo designation, it’s just a matter then of remembering to load all images as Galleries and then just not adding more than one photo to them if you’re going to display one pic.  If you’re going to do a Gallery as it was intended, you just leave the Gallery named Gallery and keep on going.  If you want to display the thumbnails, that’s easy.  Just check the box and they’ll pop up.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The page displayed is an example of one of the photos to be included in our ongoing Bach project.  Exciting news to follow soon!  

 

 

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Apple please fix iBooks Author full screen image background settings

Apple please fix iBooks Author full screen image background settings

 iBooks Author full-screen image white BG

Per Apple, at present, one can’t change the white background that displays on a full-screen png in iBooks Author.

Our Bach book client we are working with in iBooks Author has a legitimate beef with Apple and in our research, we can’t find a workable solution.

If one sets a photo to open full-screen in a book for iPad made with iBooks Author 2.0 the image presents on a screen with a white background.

If you set two photos, .PNGs, in a gallery and then open them full-screen, they present on a screen with a black background.

In the design of a book for iPad, not every book needs to go into a gallery, but in our book on Bach, which is going to be one of the most in depth pieces of work on J.S. Bach, it’s annoying to see the images against the white when they would clearly stand out better against the black.

I thought about putting all images on a screen that’s 2048 x 1536 and on a black BG and then using the Alpha to remove the black in the initial image, but that takes away the black in full-screen as well.  Not a solution.

The only other option would be to put every photo into a “gallery” setting and just not add the thumbnails on images that are not multiple .PNGs, but that seems like it’d get wonky and it’d seem that a gallery, by definition, would consist of two or more images.

In iBooks Author gallery images display with a black background on full-screen, but even this setting can't be changed.

In iBooks Author gallery images display with a black background on full-screen, but even this setting can’t be changed.

Apple, Please Fix This

A search of the message boards and a call to Apple Support has revealed that indeed, at this writing on July 24, 2013, there is no way to change a setting in the Inspector panel to remedy this.

Audio Page Specific

The other major complaint we are having as we build this vast work of Bach is that a reader can’t tap on the MP4 files we’re embedding and turn the page.  Audio and video files are page specific, so a reader listening to the music and reading can only read the page they’re on and hear what they’re wanting to listen to….

 

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Manti Te'o's GF Could Have Been Found WIth Fact Checking

Journalists Baffled By Manti Te’o Hoax Should Try Fact Checking

Journalists Baffled By Manti Te’o Hoax Should Try Fact Checking CC Red Circl

Fact checking used to be something that was done on a regular basis in the news business. There was even a commonly used editing icon–a red check mark in the margins of a draft copy of a story that signified one thing–CHECK YOUR FACTS. Seasoned and sage editors used to use it frequently with cub reporters because something just didn’t feel right.

Deadspin Does Media's Job--Checks The Facts

Deadspin Does Media’s Job–Checks The Facts

But with the proliferation of the Internet and the demise of the Fourth Estate caused by an ever decreasing need to spend a buck a day for what you can find on the Net for free has come another consequence–the inaccuracy of things on the Internet because there are few left in the news rooms of America, really the world, to do what was once commonly done on a news story.

Pull up an On Demand clip from All The President’s Men, (that’s a movie about Woodward and Bernstein–they were investigative reporters who broke the Watergate Scandal during the presidency of Richard Nixon) and you’ll see references to the fact they couldn’t use information in their stories unless there were two verified, confirmed sources willing to go on the record and confirm something as fact.

Today, most publishers of America’s newspapers and TV networks rely on a handful of people to put together a product that is more entertaining than based on news or fact. The training is different than it was just 10, 15 or even 20 years ago.

The AP Stylebook, once revered as “The Bible” in journalism courses across the country is seemingly used as a last resort. The rules, (when I was in college, if you wrote a paper and made five AP style errors, no matter how good the writing was, the paper was given an F grade because of the five infractions) that once made news writing consistent and at a certain standard clearly are ignored or not known out of ignorance.  (Think of how many of your local anchors say “Drunk” driving when it’s “DRUNKEN.”) (Think of how many times you’ve heard them talk about the flags having been lowered to half mast–when a mast is on a boat, and the actual order, which by US law can only come from the office of the president or the office of a state governor, and requires the US flag to be flown at half STAFF.)

 

Cover of

Cover via Amazon

 

But according to some, it’s okay to ignore those things because news isn’t about being right anymore, it’s about being entertaining.  And what could be more enthralling and more encouraging to readers and viewers than a story about a college football player playing for his dying girlfriend who is more worried about him repeating a Gipper scene of “win one for me” than bothering to check to see if such a person even exists.

The ESPN anchor who just interviewed Notre Dame regular reporter Gene Wojciechowski, (By the way, Gene, if you read this and have a sister/cousin named Natalie who used to live at KI SAWYER AFB in Michigan in the early 1970s, but who changed her last name to Forester because it means the same thing, would you please ask her to contact me) said something to the effect, echoed by the anchor of, “Wow, we’re gonna have to stop taking people’s word from now on and ask some tougher questions.”

Well, YEAH.  That’s what a reporter is supposed to do.  Or was once supposed to do, when reporting news was about reporting news. That was before the day of “if it bleeds it leads.”  That’s when it meant something to be in “Sweeps” and to have your investigative reporters out finding something truly scandalous about government workers who were fleecing taxpayers, or chemicals being put into children’s drinks that could be carcinogenic.

This is just one episode where the media failed to get the story right. What we won’t hear much of in the coming days is them being harsh or critical of themselves because there is not a more thin-skinned bunch than ones who sit around in the core of the nation’s news rooms. No, they will have nothing to learn here.  It’ll more or less go down like this: Gene, SI, the South Bend paper, they all got it wrong, we just repeated what they said as though it were fact so we’re in the clear.

But as you think about how the press and the rest of us all got duped in the Manti Te’o hoax, start thinking about what all else you’ve seen on the national news lately that may not be right either.  And that, my friends, can be a scary thought…..

And congrats to Timothy Burke and Jack Dickey.  Nice work.  Too bad there aren’t more like you left in mainstream news rooms across America.

 

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From Netflix: Two Websites Would Be More Difficult … REALLY?

Image representing Netflix as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

Dear Donald,

It is clear that for many of our members two websites would make things more difficult, so we are going to keep Netflix as one place to go for streaming and DVDs.

This means no change: one website, one account, one password…in other words, no Qwikster.

While the July price change was necessary, we are now done with price changes.

We’re constantly improving our streaming selection. We’ve recently added hundreds of movies from Paramount, Sony, Universal, Fox, Warner Bros., Lionsgate, MGM and Miramax. Plus, in the last couple of weeks alone, we’ve added over 3,500 TV episodes from ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, USA, E!, Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, ABC Family, Discovery Channel, TLC, SyFy, A&E, History, and PBS.

We value you as a member, and we are committed to making Netflix the best place to get your movies & TV shows.

Respectfully,

The Netflix Team

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TSA Pat down searches–Learn from this PR mistake

School superintendents, school board presidents, company presidents, communications professionals, Gap, TSA officials and President Obama, the public is witnessing this week what happens when one makes decisions in a vacuum and doesn’t tell their clientele, supporters or users ahead of time–You pay heavily for it on the back end.

When President Obama writes his memoirs in years future, count on there being a chapter called, “How I let the TSA screw up body scans and searches.”

Yes, the public is greatly aware of the recent cargo bombs sent from Yemen disguised as HP printers, and the public remembers the guy who tried to blow up the plane on Christmas Day 2009 with an underwear bomb. The public knows there are dangers.  And yes, the public expects the government to protect its citizenry to the Nth degree.

There are a few other basic principles that need to be brought in mind here, too.

The US public is very leery already of the government’s increased role over recent years.  It’s become very invasive.  When it comes down to it, but the public thinks, “Yes, I want terrorists stopped, but I’m not one, so leave me alone.” Americans still, even though tons of information already about them is online in Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Foursquare and blogs, feel there’s still something creepy about going through an X-Ray detector at an airport and some nameless person staring at your goods.

Add in the new rule where if you don’t go through the scanner you get the pat down by a TSA agent, and you’ve got a hell of a big mess.

Could it have been avoided?  Maybe not.  Could it have been handled better?  Certainly.  Has the administration begun doing that?  No.

Face The Nation

We were not surprised when Bob Schieffer asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday if she would submit to a TSA pat down if she were traveling like the majority of the public.  Without hesitation her response was, Not if I could avoid it,” and then a laugh, “I mean who would?”

The President

News outlets Monday morning were running video clips of the president behind a podium somewhere saying they’re necessary.

“What I’ve said to the TSA is that you’ve got to constantly refine and measure whether what we’re doing is the only way to assure the American people’s safety.”

TSA Administrator

John Pistole, the TSA Administrator was on the national morning programs Monday trying to explain the reasoning and rationale for their actions.   When asked if there was going to be any relief prior to this week’s massive travel demands, he dodged the questions completely.

Why Isn’t The TSA Program Popular?

The Obama administration presently is paying for not being upfront and open with the public prior to the enactment of the new screening machines and particularly, the pat downs.

Instead of sharing the administration’s point of view ahead of time, instead of there being some real figurehead of the administration out in front explaining why this is going to be necessary (i.e. the president), instead of someone out in front showing empathy, there is instead the complete opposite.

School district superintendents are famous for this sort of practice.  Make a decision without any input or support, take it forward or put it into action without a saturated market understanding what was up, and then getting hit with a huge backlash of public anger, further distrust, and resentment.

Mrs. Clinton’s comments, facial expressions and laugh on Sunday on Face The Nation told it all.  From seeing what she said, viewers of the show, and those who now have seen it as part of the massive reruns, likely are further angered.

Sure, the Secret Service would never let Mrs. Clinton, the President nor Mr. Pistole go through a TSA checkpoint at this point in their lives, and there in lies another aspect of the problem.

Another question the news media should be asking, and if it happens, the TSA should be forthright in announcing, is whether or not all this massive searching has led to anything?  One has to wonder if the old gag about the guy standing around screaming and pounding the ground with a stick until he’s asked what he’s doing and he says, “Keeping the elephants away!” is in play when the elephants are 4,000 miles away.

At this point the administration is left with a few hard choices.  Back off and put thousands of peoples’ lives in danger, or keep going and further anger the public.  There is not a win-win here.

And the public now is beginning to see this as a “Do as I say, not as I do,” situation.

Moral of the Story

You cannot afford to make policy decisions in a vacuum.  It takes public input.  It takes an education program ahead of time as to why you’re thinking about taking such actions.  No matter how “obvious” the need for the policy, the public doesn’t move or think like decision makers.  And once angered for not being included in the process, once the news media is able to go out and find a cancer survivor whose urine bag was squeezed all over him, or a YouTube video of TSA doing a very public near strip search of a little boy, and once you have a Cabinet secretary saying she’d not put up with it either, well, you’re in a heap of trouble.