Monday, June 30, 2003

Dean campaign surpasses $7m in Q2

By all measures, this is a stunning development in the Democratic race. I documented how they pulled it off here – it really is something to behold. Some interesting statistics from today:

  • 9,011 first-time donors today

  • 2,000 repeat donors

  • Average contribution of $66.85

  • Once matching funds come in, the $7.1m raised this quarter could easily rise to $10-12m+ raised

Staggering - $7m and counting

Does the Internet matter? Is one voice still capable of being heard in the Clear Channel era?

Yes and Yes.

Tonight, Joe Trippi (campaign manager for the Dean for President campaign) announced that the campaign has raised over $7 million in the second quarter. Is this a big deal? Yes. Governor Dean raised $2.6 million last quarter – far behind Senators Kerry and Edwards (both of whom raised over $7m), Gephardt ($3.6m) and Lieberman ($3m). It now looks like Dean has vaulted over his rivals – outraising them by as much as $2m (we won’t know for sure until the other campaigns announce their results, possibly tomorrow or Wednesday). Most impressive? Not only will he have the largest number of donors, but his per-donor average will be among the lowest – meaning that he’s getting the “little” guys to contribute. Read the comments at the blog — these are people who’ve never participated in presidential politics before. Think they’ll go away? Think again.

How did the campaign do it? No matter how you look at it, the answers all revolve around one word: Internet.

  • growing at nearly 35% per month, MeetUp is providing a base of committed volunteers nationwide. The number of people registered has grown nearly 25% in six days, with more than 47,000 people registered to support Governor Dean.

  • Blog for America: The first presidential campaign with a weblog (and the first presidential candidate to personally post to his weblog), Dean showed how a community-driven site that makes supporters feel like they’re a part of the “inner circle” can actually empower tens of thousands of people. (Check out today where Governor Dean was also the first to make an audio-blog post to his weblog!)

  • With his broad Internet support, Governor Dean was able to mobilize hundreds of thousands of supporters, taking 44% of the first Internet primary last week. Nearly 140,000 people voted for Dean, and it looks like many of those people have signed up to participate in the campaign and donate money.

  • Smart Mobbing: I first found out that the campaign surpassed $7m today from a text message sent to my cell phone. The campaign has shrewdly used SMS messaging to alert supporters to late-breaking news (appearances on TV, changes in schedule) and has indicated that this use will increase moving forward.

  • An “associates” program: while they can’t give a percentage like Amazon does, they can at least track how many contributions you’ve leveraged — that is, how many people contribute because you ask them to. This is not only another way for the campaign to invite others to build a sense of community around the campaign, it’s also a way for the campaign to recognize those who might not be able to donate the big bucks themselves but who work hard to ensure others give what they can. (You can visit my page if you’re interested in contributing.)

Mark my words: June 30, 2003 is the day that we’ll look back on, years from now, and acknowledge that things changed. Masterfully architected by Joe Trippi, this campaign has executed nearly flawlessly in the last eight days, taking a widely-panned Meet the Press appearance and turning it into a catalyst to the most dramatic eight days in presidential fundraising we’ve ever seen. For once “fundraising” isn’t synonymous with PACs, lobbyists and corporate greed. These dollars come from paychecks — from single parents, teachers, retirees, union members and students.

In announcing his candidacy last week, Governor Dean proclaimed “You have the power to reclaim our nation’s destiny.”

Tonight we proved it. We are a long way from the primaries, even longer from the general election. But in the face of conventional wisdom and in spite of some serious resistance from the party “elders”, we proved Governor Dean right. Let’s keep it up.

A message from Governor Howard Dean - audio blogging!

That the Dean campaign would chalk up another first probably shouldn’t surprise anyone any more; but just in case: Governor Dean just made the first audio blog post by a Presidential candidate.

AudBlog is a cool service — dial a number from your cell phone, leave a message and AudBlog posts the audio as an MP3 file to your blog.

Very cool!

Another law firm dissolving

The latest entrant in the pile? Arter & Hadden, a 300 lawyer law firm in Cleveland, OH that sent this memo out last Friday:

Unfortunately, we must now report that efforts to obtain the additional financing and required concessions from Arter & Hadden’s landlords to continue the law firm have been unsuccessful. As a result, we are planning for the winding up of the affairs of Arter & Hadden.

Looks like that prediction I made a few months ago wasn’t all that far off…

Give what you can...

Today is a truly historic day. After announcing they’d exceeded $6 million on Saturday night, the campaign raised another $300,000 yesterday and is striving to hit $7 million today. You can watch the progress in real time by going to the campaign blog and looking at the bat. As of 10 minutes ago, we were just a hair under $6.6 million.

Governor Dean will call five random donors who contribute online today, so now’s your chance: contribute to the campaign today. Give whatever you can. You will join the fastest growing and most widely-supported Presidential campaign.


Dean Pride Parade

Chicago Pride Parade - 6/29/03, Photo by Joe DeCock
photo by Joe DeCock

More than 60 people marched in Chicago’s PRIDE parade yesterday. Thanks to Joe for sending this picture in of those who marched.

Treo 600

Treo 600 is in development

I’m actually kind of surprised that I haven’t seen more people drooling over this phone. Ernie are you listening?!

I currently use the no-longer-available Treo 180 (the black and white version) with T-Mobile. It’s a great phone, though I would admit to some frustration with the battery life and some stability issues.

Nevertheless, it has proven to be the most functional of the road warrior devices I’ve carried (better than the Blackberry, better than the old Palm/OmniSky combo I once used, and better than any cellphone that claims to offer text messaging “66-666-333-88-222-55-444-66-9-2-999”). And now comes news that they’re working on the Treo 600, a combo device that will once again put the Treo far ahead of its competition:

  • Palm OS 5, with ARM processor.

  • Built-in camera.

  • SD/MMC expansion slot.

  • Better battery life.

  • Brighter color display.

Of course, this will be “priced at a premium” – which probably means it’ll sell comparable to what the Windows SmartPhones are selling at ($500-$600). But good news for us current Treo owners – they will have an upgrade program!

Sunday, June 29, 2003

Please folks, no wagering...

Carl has posted his predictions and after a quick IM chat, I’ve decided to place a bet: I’m posting my predictions below. Whoever is closer is the winner; the loser has to donate an additional $25 to Governor Dean via the winner’s Dean All Stars account.

Others are welcome to join; post your predictions in the comments. Karl and I have our own bet, but you’re more than welcome to join in the fun.

The rules: Winner will be determined by the closest to Governor Dean’s final Q2 haul; in the event that both Karl and I go over, then we’ll look to Kerry’s haul. Then Edwards, Gephardt, Lieberman.

My predictions follow. I don’t have Governor Dean winning the quarter; I think Kerry will take that honor. But I do think that the story will be similar to what Karl notes: that the only “breakout” candidate will be Governor Dean. Kerry will be steady, but the others will have lost ground. A gulf will be obvious between the top tier candidates (Kerry, Dean) and the rest…

Sen. Kerry $7.5m
Governor Dean $7.1m
Sen. Edwards $5.5m
Sen. Lieberman $5.2m
Rep. Gephardt $5.0m
Sen. Graham $4.0m
Rep. Kucinich $400k
Ambassador Moseley-Braun $300k
Rev. Sharpton $300k

If I’m close, the Democrats collectively will have raised nearly $35m in this quarter. Makes Bush’s “shock and awe” numbers look a little more manageable…

I look forward to collecting your money, Karl! :)

Dean campaign surpasses $6m for Q2

UNREAL. That’s the only word that can describe the transition from underdog to frontrunner. In Q1, the Dean campaign raised $2.6m – a good amount but far from the impressive numbers raised by the Kerry and Edwards campaigns. Earlier this week, the AP reported that the Dean campaign was expecting contributions in the $4.5m range.

While the tradition is for candidates to wait until a few days after the end of the quarter to report — after all, you don’t want anyone to know if you’re doing poorly, and if you’re doing well you usually want to surprise people — the Dean campaign has again flaunted tradition and shouted their phenomenal success.

How well are they doing? Over $2m raised online in 8 days. EIGHT DAYS. $500,000 in just one day. More is coming in – and we still have today and tomorrow before the fundraising is done.

Congratulations — this is truly an historic time in presidential politics. We are taking back our party and our country — keep up the great work!

Saturday, June 28, 2003

July Meetups - harnessing grassroots energy

The next time you see a comment in a press wondering rhetorically whether the grassroots support will make a difference, tell the journalist to pay attention on July 2. That’s when Meetup goes from a social setting to an activist organization.

Marching orders are a-comin’!

Friday, June 27, 2003

The Man to Beat

Elanor Clift picks up on the juggernaut that is becoming the Dean campaign in a Newsweek Web exclusive:

  • The buzz is that Howard Dean will post over $4 million. Two rival camps privately predict that Dean will come close to $6 million.

  • There is panic in the air [from rival campaigns].

  • Democrats have won the White House only twice in the last thirty years. Both times it was by somebody who was not part of Washington. Governors don’t speak Washingtonese. Whatever you think about Dean and his cranky assault on the Establishment, you can’t avoid the fact that he fits the pattern. Thanks to a little strategic thinking and a lot of luck, the former Vermont governor is positioned as the only outsider in the race at a time when Democrats have given up on insider politicians. Dean says that when he travels around the country, he finds that Democratic voters are almost as angry at Democrats in Washington as they are at Bush.

  • By all accounts, [his 6/22 Meet the Press appearance] was a terrible performance. “If he was Gephardt, he’d be out of the race,” says a Democratic strategist. But the next day Dean presided over a hokey official announcement of his candidacy, which drew a large press contingent and got him on all the news shows. “The rules don’t apply to him,” says the strategist. “He operates in a different universe. His supporters say, ‘That mean Tim Russert,’ and they send him another $200 on the Internet.”

  • Savior or spoiler, Dean has gone from a second tier candidate to the man to beat.

The man to beat.

WE HAVE THE POWER. Contribute now to help take back our country.

Dean Wins MoveOn Primary in a Landslide

It’s official – Governor Dean took nearly 44% of the vote, an almost 2-1 margin over the nearest candidate (Kucinich). While this means that Governor Dean doesn’t get MoveOn’s endorsement (the endorsement would only result in a 50%+ showing), it’s a strong statement of support from the more than 139,000 voters who expressed support in Governor Dean.

The official breakdown of the vote getters in double-digits:

Candidate % vote Enthusiastic support?
Dean 43.87% 86%
Kucinich 23.93% 68%
Kerry 15.73% 75%

The only way to read this is that Governor Dean is the favorite of the MoveOn electorate. Kerry received 33% fewer votes than Kucinich, yet is supported more broadly than Kucinich (not surprising, given the profile of the MoveOn voters); Kucinich is attractive to his loyal supporters but supporters of other candidates are less likely to support him than, say, Kerry.

Thanks to all who helped make this happen. This is an important step forward. Now contribute and show your support!

Altheimer Dissolving

The UK Publication The Lawyer is reporting that another firm is dissolving:

Chicago firm Altheimer & Gray is set to dissolve, following Brobeck Phleger & Harrison into the history books as two of the legal sector.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Free advice to the candidates: cash your checks

I won’t name names (why would I want to do that?!) but I have it on good authority from two sources that a certain top-tier Democratic candidate (no, not Governor Dean) hasn’t cashed checks from at least six weeks ago from multiple donors.

These donors gave on different occasions. Yet none has received an acknowledgement from the campaign, nor has the campaign cashed their checks.

It’s an odd strategy, isn’t it?

Fundraising preview

Taegan Goddard points to an AP report that sums up the whisper numbers from the campaigns:

Kerry $5m
Dean $4.5m
Edwards $4m-$5m
Lieberman $4m
Graham $2m-$3m

It’s highly likely that these numbers are lowballed – both in an attempt to goose last minute numbers and to not show cards before the final tallies are in (last quarter, the Dean campaign was telling everyone they’d be in the $1.5m range, then blew that number away with a $2.6m haul). Nevertheless, if these numbers are true, here are some interesting conclusions:

  • Kerry and Edwards will have both declined $2m+ from their Q1 takes.

  • Dean will have moved from fifth to second place in the “money primary”

  • Lieberman will have raised the same amount he raised last quarter, a number that was seen as almost embarrassingly low for him

And in related news, an e-mail I just received from my favorite name in the Dean campaign (yes, Narric, you’re a close second but Zephyr still gets the prize) Zephyr Teachout says that more than 7,000 new donors have contributed to the Dean campaign since his Declaration on Monday.

To put that in perspective, the Dean campaign had more than 12,000 donors in Q1. More than 2,000 donors have come in today alone.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Piercing the Veil

[entry removed]

Top 10 Signs You're in Love with Howard Dean

This is pretty damn funny. Dave Letterman takes aim at our candidate in last night’s Top 10 — I think it’s a fair bet there’s a few Dean supporters on the Late Show staff, wouldn’t you say?

10. You’ve actually heard of him
9. Whenever he discusses plans to revitalize economy, you get goosebumps
8. Named your cats “Howard,” “Dean” and “Six-Term Governor Howard Dean”
7. You’ll only watch movies featuring Ron Howard or Harry Dean Stanton
6. When you hear a report on the radio about a highway accident, you murmur, “Please, god, don’t let Howard Dean be involved”
5. Constantly complain rival candidate Dennis Kucinich isn’t “Howardly” enough
4. Changed outfit four times before watching appearance on “Meet the Press”
3. You stand by him despite the fact his infidelities embarrassed you in front of the entire…oh wait, wrong Democrat
2. When he announced his candidacy, you didn’t laugh your ass off
1. You’re actually considering wasting a vote on him

Now if only they were in booking…

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Political junkie

Well, I returned from vacation to have 1700+ e-mails waiting for me and nearly 1000 items in my aggregator. Three days later, I’m still digging out…

Aside from the information overload, I’m actually having fun this week. We got home Saturday night, and my wife was kind enough to watch the boys Sunday night so I could go to a fundraiser for Governor Howard Dean in Chicago. Despite his crazy schedule (the day started in DC on Meet the Press, then ended in Chicago with a candidate forum at Rainbow/PUSH Coalition’s conference and two fundraisers for Governor Dean), he was energetic, passionate, and left everyone in the room fired up. It’s refreshing to feel optimistic.

Tonight is another fundraiser — this one for the Clinton Foundation, the non-profit behind the Presidential library being built in Little Rock. President Clinton will be in attendance — like Governor Dean, he’s in town for the Rainbow/PUSH conference. A number of prominent Illinois politicians will be there as well – Governor Blagojevich, Lieutenant Governor Quinn, Attorney General Madigan, Speaker Madigan, Mayor Daley, and a few others. At my table will be one of the candidates for US Senate in Illinois, Joyce Washington (I’ll have to talk to her about her lack of a website!).

I’ll post pictures if I get any.

Chicago Pages Dr. Dean

Paging Dr. Dean - Chicago
photo by Joe DeCock

As many know, Governor Dean was in Chicago on Sunday. Following his Meet the Press appearance, he flew to Chicago to participate in the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition candidate forum, then attended two fundraisers in Chicago: a small-dollar event at O’Brien’s Restaurant and a large-dollar event at Landmark Arts Gallery on Randolph.

Kudos go to Joe for organizing the rally outside the Sheraton; not only did this give Governor Dean a terrific boost heading into the forum, it reinforced his widespread support for all of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition members heading into the forum. For the nay-sayers who belittle the impact this kind of grassroots effort is having on the campaign, be sure to watch ABC7’s coverage of the rally. “The only campaign to have a rally,” noted reporter Andy Shaw, “was Governor Dean’s.”

This is exactly why grassroots organizing matters. When your candidate isn’t leading in the money primary, free press is worth its weight in gold. Notice that in ABC7’s coverage, each candidate got a soundbite in. But thanks to the rally outside, Governor Dean got a separate interview, more facetime and positive mentions by the reporter about the impact of the rally. Outstanding work all around.

I was at the Landmark fundraiser Sunday night; I’ll post a few pictures later on (sadly, my digital camera must be a “conservative” camera as few shots came out!). It was exciting to mingle with fellow supporters and to meet Governor Dean. He’s even more engaging and energetic in person; with his schedule, I have no idea how he does it!

Read the full entry for more photos by Joe of Sunday’s rally.

The crowd outside the hotel

Second shot of the rally around Governor Dean

Paging Dr. Dean!
All photos by Joe DeCock

Monday, June 23, 2003

Zoe Lofgren at Blog for America

US Rep. Zoe Lofgren may now be the first sitting Congresswoman to post to a blog. She attended Governor Dean’s declaration of his candidacy, and shared her comments and thoughts about today’s events and why she’s supporting Governor Dean.

Proving again that Governor Dean’s most effective weapon is his ability to inspire others to act, Rep. Lofgren shares this conclusion:

The decision is in our hands. If we care about reclaiming America from right wing extremists, we have the power to do it. But only if we take on that responsibility personally and as a community. I will do my part to the best of my ability and in talking with other Americans at the rally today, I felt the optimism that the great American restoration can be achieved by us Americans.

Sunday, June 22, 2003

URGENT: MoveOn Endorsement within reach!

I’m back from vacation, and thankfully there’s still a day to register for the MoveOn primary – the vote takes place this week. In order to participate, you need to register by tomorrow. Go do it now!

Here’s the deal: MoveOn, as I’ve discussed before, is a nearly 2 million strong grassroots organization. If a candidate gets more than 50% of the vote, MoveOn will endorse that candidate and put their considerable effort behind raising money and spreading the word on behalf of that candidate. (MoveOn raised more than $4m in last year’s mid-term elections.) Clearly this would be an enormous boost to the campaign and a tremendous validation of our grassroots efforts so far.

Hurry up and register – you need to do so by June 23 in order to be eligible to vote.

Sunday, June 15, 2003

On vacation

I’m on vacation this week, so posts will be (hopefully) light. In the meantime, feel free to leave comments on this post to share news/info with others.

I’ll resume posting once I’m back home on the 21st. Have a great week!

On vacation

On vacation this week (through the 21st)… Have a great week!

Thursday, June 12, 2003

California's next governor?!

I love it: Chris Quan, writing from San Francisco, answers the SF Chronicle question “who would you vote for” (if Gov. Gray Davis were recalled):

Howard Dean balanced Vermont’s budget every year he served as governor. He also extended health care to 96 percent of the children in his state. If he doesn’t succeed in becoming our next president, maybe he can be California’s next governor.TWO CENTS / On California politics


50,000 served

This isn’t a vanity post, I promise. But it looks likely that sometime today, this blog will see its 50,000th visitor since going live in December, 2001. Now that’s not a lot of traffic by many measures, but the 300+ visitors I’m averaging a day is more than triple I ever expected to see. And that doesn’t even take into account the number of you (however many you are) who read this site through your aggregator…

(Wondering about the spike in traffic in April? That was the April Fool’s joke I wrote that got linked to from seemingly everywhere.)

To those of you who read regularly, thank you. Since starting this weblog, I’ve learned more, been challenged more, and had more fun than I ever expected to.

Keep visiting, and keep in touch. Thanks for stopping by!

Get a MoveOn

Zephyr Teachout, who easily has the best name of anyone affiliated with the Dean campaign, posted over at the “unofficial” Dean blog the other day about joining MoveOn and voting in their poll. MoveOn is considering endorsing a Democratic candidate in the race. An endorsement by MoveOn would be a phenomenal boost to the already strong grassroots support enjoyed by the Dean campaign. Consider: MoveOn has more than 2 million members and is a remarkable organization focused on grassroots activism and fundraising.

If you’re not familiar with MoveOn, you should check them out. I joined just a few weeks ago, and have already had a terrific experience with them. Within a week of joining, MoveOn started the “Great MoveOn Interview”, which sought to pair two MoveOn members with each other so they could discuss their political involvement, why they got involved, and what they were trying to accomplish.

I was really impressed by the process: I ended up speaking with Beth, a PR consultant in NYC. We shared our reasons for being unhappy with the Bush administration, what we were doing to change it, and how else we could get involved. When she heard I was involved in the Dean campaign, she wanted to know more, and ended up taking information I gave her and sent it to several friends. (Hard as it is to believe, there are people out there who still don’t know that much about the Democratic candidates.)

As I’ve become more involved in the Dean campaign, I’ve found that just talking with others about why and how I’m involved is enough to make others feel more optimistic that they can make a difference. This is the heart of what it means to be involved in a grassroots movement. Governor Dean’s campaign is built on it; MoveOn’s official endorsement would go a long way to solidifying that foundation and reinforcing MoveOn’s own ideals. What are you waiting for? Join today and help take our country back!

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Subscription services: Look for dialtone

A few weeks ago, the whole family went to a wedding in Boston. (Though I really, really want to, I’m going to refrain from telling that story.) We walked in the house, and I noticed the panel on the ADT alarm system was not on. Now, you’d think that if there were a problem with the alarm, they would have called us: after all, they have my cell phone number, and I’d consider “not working” qualifying as an alarm situation that might have them, oh, call me.

But I didn’t get a call. Being a charitable sort, I decided to call them. They determined that the alarm was not powered up – odd, since it has a battery backup. Except that it turns out that the battery worked – until it ran out of power. We figured out that the alarm had been plugged into the same outlet as the sump pump, which has a GFCI surge protector built in, and evidently the heavy rain had the sump pump working overtime – and at some point the outlet tripped.

Now – there are a bunch of fair questions at this point: two good ones would be why would two mission-critical systems be plugged into an outlet with a hair trigger, or why does a battery backup for an alarm system last less than two days. But my favorite is: when the alarm died, why didn’t I get a phone call?

Now ADT talks about its 24 hour monitoring system. And the customer service rep told me that that really means that they’ll respond to alarm incidents. Except that a dead alarm tells no tales, makes no calls!

I asked why they weren’t “pinging” my alarm regularly to make sure it was responding. They said they weren’t sure it was part of my package. Why wouldn’t it be? I don’t think I’m being unreasonable in expecting this to be a default setting – and they should call us if there’s a problem. You know, like the alarm being dead.

Ultimately, they resolved the issue by crediting me for a month’s service. And it turns out the monitoring I described is entirely doable – and they won’t charge me extra for it.

And here’s a contrast – TiVo. Several weeks ago we disconnected the phone line in our family room to hook it up to a speakerphone. In unplugging the phone, we forgot to plug the line back into the TiVo box.

Ten days later, I had a message from TiVo (a letter icon shows up in the TiVo menu when there’s “e-mail”). The message said: “It’s been more than 7 days since TiVo last updated your program guide. Please check the phone line to ensure that it’s connected, or contact customer service for help.”

Well how about that? I plugged the phone line back in, and TiVo went back to being the spectacular never crash Linux appliance it’s always been.

What TiVo’s figured out, and ADT needed to learn, is that monitoring doesn’t mean answering the phone. It means checking for dialtone and making a call. It’s a big difference.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

The other shoe drops at

Law Offices of Erik J. Heels

In short, I now believe that a weblog can be the main publishing platform for any website, including a law firm website. And weblog software is much more powerful than traditional web publishing software. So I have retired my old website home page and converted this website to a nearly 100% weblog model.

Erik – congrats! Though he characterizes himself as a pragmatist, he’s still ahead of the curve on this point. I’m just now coming to the realization that Movable Type is really more of a content management system than a weblog application – and Erik has now proven it can be done.

It's official - "Blog for America"

Pass the cigars, Mathew Gross and company have themselves a spiffy new weblog over at the Blog for America – where you’ll find a new look and feel, an updated blogroll with many links to new sites, and a new weblog application under the hood (Movable Type from Blogger).

Kudos to the team who made this happen. And stay tuned – now that this is in place there are some cool things on their way… :)

Monday, June 9, 2003

3200 Rally for Dean

Well, for once I get to break news instead of link to it. Mathew Gross, burning the midnight oil in Burlington, just got off the phone with Kate who is on the road with Governor Dean. Blogger’s down, so Kate couldn’t post this herself. She asked if there’s a way to get the word out. Mathew IM’d me, and here you go…

Get this: three thousand, two hundred people rallied for Governor Dean tonight – in President Bush’s home state. This was a low-dollar fundraiser for Governor Dean alone. And it was all organized by local volunteers. The campaign was expecting around three hundred – and instead, more than three thousand people showed up at Plaza Saltillo in Austin. Reports have it that every local TV network was there, and Governor Dean stayed to do a number of interviews.

Let’s be real clear: 3200 people. In President Bush’s home state capital. Six months before the primaries.

Video will be coming to soon. Stay tuned.

The most cogent observation from ClickZ...

…comes from Rick Bruner, writing at MarketingFix :

Denise Howell is totally hot.

No sense denying it. I had dinner with her earlier this year and can confirm that Denise is, in fact, a babe. Several co-workers saw me leave my hotel with Denise, prompting this conversation after I returned:

Co-worker: “Let me get this straight. You met this woman on the Internet.”
Me: “Yes.”
Co-worker: “And you went to dinner with her.”
Me: “Yes.”
Co-worker: “And your wife knows about this?”
Me: “Yes.”
Co-worker: “Wow.”

In addition, at least one co-worker was suddenly much more interested in blogging…

Denise: bookmark these posts. Return in six months — you can thank me later. :)

Weblog conference in Boston

Some great live blogging is happening from the Jupiter/ClickZ Weblog Business Strategy Conference. You can follow a few of the most prolific posters: Denise and David Weinberger are both doing a fantastic job.

Or you could just go to the metablog set up for this conference. Anytime anyone posts to their blog about this conference and includes that URL as a “ping” will have their content picked up. Very nice demonstration of the technology.

Sunday, June 8, 2003

Excerpt from Gov. Dean's speech today

For those that didn’t catch Governor Dean today in Iowa (or on C-Span’s broadcast of the event), here is the key new segment in the stump speech. As I said earlier today, I think this represents a powerful new element of the Dean strategy.

Today this country is facing a serious crisis. I’m talking about the credibility of the president of the united states. Because today, we are concerned — that our people are dying in Iraq at a rate of 9 per week, and the American people may not have had full info about why we went there.

I never thought in my lifetime I would hear this question again, but the American people are now faced with this question that we heard almost 30 years ago: “What did the president know, and when did he know it?”

I believe that never again can the Congress of the United States give the President a blank check six months ahead of time for a preemptive attack without the evidence being known to the American people or to Congress itself.

People inside the beltway have said that because I told the truth early, that I’m unelectable. It may be that because I told the truth early, that I may be the only one that’s electable.

Dean: What Did Bush Know, and When Did He Know It?

AP Wire | 06/08/2003 | Dem. Candidates Question Bush on Iraq

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean revived a Watergate-era phrase to raise questions about whether Bush withheld information from Congress: “The question now is going to become, `What did the president know, and when did he know it?’”

I just saw this on C-Span, and it struck me that this was a smart, calculated shift in Governor Dean’s strategy to separate himself from the other Democratic candidates.

This is phase 2 of the post-war strategy kicking in. The conventional wisdom in the democratic race was that a quick victory in Iraq would kill the Dean campaign — after all, the people supporting Dean were doing so because of his opposition to the war, right? When a quick, relatively painless victory was achieved, opposition to the war would be a kiss of death.

Except that didn’t happen. Governor Dean rode the wave of the anti-war movement, but transitioned back to the candidate with a health care plan, the candidate who would speak his mind, the one candidate who would ceaselessly go right after President Bush.

The first phase of the post-war strategy was to lie low, see how things played out. Clearly the revelations this week – that intelligence may have been doctored, that the Bush administration directed conclusions to support their policies — are emboldening those who originally opposed the war. Now Governor Dean can reiterate his opposition to the war (not because war is bad, but because this wasn’t the right war at the right time) — and fold that into a broadside attack on the Bush administration.

Other interesting tidbits in the same AP report:

Rep. Dick Gephardt criticzed the politicization of the WMD search:

“This is about life and death. It’s about keeping this country safe. We cannot have weapons of mass destruction used in this society. And we’ve all got to work together to the best of our ability to achieve that.”

Isn’t that what the Bush administration is saying?

And finally, Carol Moseley-Braun offers up an unfortunate metaphor for the war on Iraq:

“If there’s a crack house down the street from you, and in it are the murderers who killed your brother and your sister-in-law, do you blow up the crack house, or do you go after the murderers?”

As they said on SNL in a Hardball parody, “I don’t even know who that’s offensive to!”

Saturday, June 7, 2003

MTTextile - another excellent plugin

I’m starting to get the hang of Movable Type so that I can go beyond the basics and push it in interesting ways. I just found Brad Choate’s excellent MTTextile plugin – and for anyone who uses MT this is just about a must have.

It greatly simplifies text entry – so that instead of adding HTML tags around everything, you can just add text shortcuts. Want to bold something? Just put asterisks around the word. Strikeout? Just put dashes around the word. Link to a URL? Just put the link text in quotes, type a colon and follow that with the URL. Drop a photo in? Follow an exclamation point with the URL of the image. Textile takes care of the rest.

Now this doesn’t exactly sound like WYSIWYG editing, and you’d be right. But it is vastly easier than typing all the HTML code that goes with managing web content – and in a lot of ways, it’s actually easier than combining keystrokes with mouse clicks.

Gee… this is starting to sound like ActiveWords again, isnt’t it?

Smarty pants plugin to Movable Type

I just installed John Gruber’s “smarty pants” plugin to Movable Type. The oddly named but quite interesting little hack is designed to take straight ASCII text and convert it to typographically “proper” characters. For example, the quotes around smarty pants and proper are now auto-magically converted to curly quotes. And — get this — those dashes (which are entered in the blog post as consecutive dashes) are now converted to em-dashes.

No, this won’t solve world hunger. But if you’re interested in why this is even slightly interesting, be sure to read John’s humorous and informative documentation. Seriously — I learned quite a bit about proper punctuation and laughed throghout.

Come to think of it, that probably says more about me than it does about John. But let’s keep that to ourselves.

New video at CNN report on Meetup

The latest video at is this week’s CNN report about the Meetup pheonomenon for Governor Dean’s campaign. While the report notes that political analysts aren’t placing much faith in the Meetup numbers, it’s a good snapshot of a number of supporters, why they’re there, and how Meetup is inspiring new groups of people to get involved.

Reminder: if you have IE on your computer, you can install the applet for that will automatically download high quality videos in the background; if you don’t, you can still choose to download the videos you want to see.

Matrix Reloaded on Imax this weekend

Matrix release a big test for Imax large-screen theaters – Jun. 6, 2003

This weekend, 39 of 95 commercial Imax theaters will start showing the Matrix sequel while the movie is still playing on thousands of conventional movie screens. In November, when the third leg of the trilogy, “The Matrix: Revolutions” hits the nation’s multiplexes, it will open at the same time on Imax screens.

Friday, June 6, 2003

More thoughts on the Matrix

There’s an ongoing thread attached to a post I made after seeing Matrix: Reloaded about some of the underlying meaning. But for the mother of all threads, be sure to head over to Jason Kottke’s site where there are (as of this writing) 458 comments. Whoa.

In related news, today Ernie points us to a critic’s suggestions for punching up the drama in Matrix: Reloaded. Good stuff.

FCC gets one right for a change

Boing Boing: A Directory of Wonderful Things

Federal court approves cellular number portability
Hallelujah. Today, a federal court rejected an appeal from wireless companies and ruled that consumers should have the right to retain their old phone numbers when switching carriers.

Consumer advocates say the inability to retain numbers is one of the biggest barriers preventing more cell phone users from switching in search of better service and prices. The Federal Communications Commission is requiring wireless carriers to provide “number portability” by Nov. 24. In April, attorneys for Verizon Wireless and the CTIA told a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that the FCC overstepped its authority by imposing the requirement. They said it will raise costs while doing little to increase competition. The court rejected that challenge, calling the FCC’s action “permissible and reasonable.” The court also said the cell phone companies waited too long to object to the rule.

Jeff Kaufman: You Don't Know Dean...

(Editor’s note: Apparently an e-mail of Michael Colby’s attack on Howard Dean from February is in wide circulation. One individual, Jeff Kaufman, took time to draft a reply – which itself is now circulating by e-mail. In the interest of balancing the debate, I thought it a good idea to let Kaufman’s comments get some airtime. —Rick)

I recently received a widely circulated e-mail with an attack on Howard Dean headlined, “The Man from Vermont is Not Green (He’s Not Even a Liberal)” written by “Wild Matters” editor Michael Colby. The gross inaccuracies of this piece demand a response, especially for people who don’t know Vermont. Clouded by his narrow vision of political purity, the author misses both the remarkable record of Howard Dean’s tenure as governor and his great promise as a presidential candidate.

As a former Vermont radio and television talk show host (now living in Los Angeles and supporting the Dean campaign), I’ve had an unusually up-close view of Howard Dean and Vermont politics. During my five years as a daily radio talk show host in Vermont, I broadcast from every corner of the state and live each week from the Statehouse. I also served on my local elementary school board and co-founded a pro-environment community planning group. That proximity to the state’s concerns convinced me that Howard Dean is the real thing: a person with a progressive long-term vision who has the courage to make tough decisions and the rare ability to push through substantial accomplishments.

The article begins with a series of personal attacks against Howard Dean that may reveal more about the writer than his intended target. For instance, the author faults Dr. Dean for being born into a wealthy Wall Street family, rather than giving him credit for leaving that safe background for a public service career as a doctor and elected official. Even though Howard Dean has lived in Vermont for over 25 years (almost half his life), the writer calls him a “carpet-bagging politician.” Howard Dean first entered Vermont politics fighting for a lakeside bike path, while at the same time running a family medical practice with his wife, Dr. Judith Steinberg. That’s hardly a Machiavellian path to power.

The writer continues: “Dean became Vermont’s accidental governor in 1991 after Governor Richard Snelling died of a heart attack while swimming in his pool. Dean, the lieutenant governor at the time, took the state’s political reins and immediately followed through with his promise not to offend the Snelling Republicans who occupied the executive branch. And Dean carried on with his right-leaning centrism for the next eleven, long years.”

Howard Dean was an accidental governor in the same way that Teddy Roosevelt was an accidental president. Rather than diminish Governor Dean’s stature, the tragedy that led to his position of responsibility is a sign of his ability to rise to a challenge and excel. With Governor Snelling’s death, Howard Dean inherited the state’s worst economic downturn in decades. Occasionally alienating conservatives, moderates, and yes, liberals, Howard Dean balanced the budget and actually built up the best financial “rainy day fund” in the state’s history. This “accidental governor” was then elected five times to become Vermont’s longest serving modern chief executive.

Sliding from unfounded personal insults to unfounded political insults, the author then accuses Howard Dean of having a “mediocre gubernatorial record.” On what standard does he base that claim? During his decade in office, Governor Dean helped protect more land from development than all previous governors combined; he fought for (against huge – sometimes violent – conservative opposition) and won a new school funding system that brought long overdue opportunity to thousands of poor children; he brought health care coverage to almost 92% of Vermonters, including virtually all children; he backed and signed into law Civil Unions protection for same-sex couples (how many politicians have shown that kind of courage?); he continually fought for a woman’s right to choose her own reproductive future; he built an early childhood health intervention program that is a model for the country; he brought to the state new, hi-tech, high-paying jobs that help pay for good schools and social services; he administered a “best practices” agriculture plan that preserves land and water quality; he helped form the nation’s first statewide energy efficiency utility (preventing more than one million tons of greenhouse gas emissions since 2000); and he championed a commuter rail system to lower traffic congestion and pollution while diminishing urban sprawl (in its last report on sprawl, the Sierra Club ranked Vermont as the second best state in America for land use planning).

“Mediocre”? More like inspiring. But perhaps the best way to judge the author’s political judgment – and those who circulate his opinions – is to go back to the last presidential election.

Mr. Colby was a member of a group called “Environmentalists Against Gore” that declared, “Some people say we can’t vote for Ralph Nader because that would help put a Republican in the White House, but nature and public health will be better protected even if George Bush wins the election, because the national environmental groups that ignore or excuse Al Gore’s double talk may stand up and fight if a Republican makes those same bad decisions.”

If you agree that “nature and public health” are better protected with George Bush in the White House, then I’ve got a coal-burning power plant in Ohio that I’d like to sell you. If, on the other hand, you want an honest, gutsy, visionary candidate who can connect you to the best traditions of the Democratic Party and actually defeat George W. Bush, then I’d urge you to support Governor Howard Dean.

- Jeff Kaufman
June, 2003

Supercharge your browser - follow-up

A number of people (Sabrina Pacifici, Jerry Lawson, Larry Staton, to name a few) linked to my article in this month’s LPM about how to add functionality to your browser. Larry quite rightly pointed out that it’s focused on IE for Windows. As a result of Larry’s post, not to mention several e-mails I got, I decided a follow-up was in order.

First off, read Larry’s post for more detail about the state of the Mac browser market. By all rights, there is far more innovation in Mac browsers generally than there is in the Windows market. (Side note: why doesn’t a legal tech publication give Larry a column about Macs in the legal office?)

Concerning IE, however, a couple people wrote in to tell me that I missed some of their favorite browser add-ons. Here are a few more:

  • Courtesy of Gary is PowerCons, a “long undiscovered bookmarklet innovation”. I’ve not played with this at all – your mileage may vary.

  • Anna K�gedal from Huddinge, Sweden, saw a mention of the article on Malin’s blog, and writes in that I missed her favorite browser add-on, UltraBar. This one strikes me as quite useful, as it lets you not only search Google, but any other search engine – including ones you define. Very functional – especially if you find yourself searching the same databases over and over.

Now for my own critique of my article… for the first time in five years, I switched my default browser this week away from IE. I’m now using Mozilla Firebird, and wow is it good. Spurred by recent positive reviews from Jon Udell, Joel Spolsky and Matt Mower (all of which showed up in my news reader within a day or so of each other), I decided to give it a whirl.

In the past 48 hours, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how flexible, how fast, and how generally right Firebird feels. Matt Mower points out a few tips about extending Firebird’s functionality that are worth pursuing. Here are a few examples of what I like about Firebird:

  • Tabbed browsing. This doesn’t exist in an IE world, so anyone who hasn’t seen it (I hadn’t until switching to Firebird) won’t really know just how nice this is. In one window you can see all browser windows. It’s easier to navigate between browser windows, for one. And if you’re like me and often have a ton of browser windows open at any one time, you can now group those windows logically. For instance – you can have one Firebird window open that contains three tabs: your blog home page (for editing posts), your blog’s public page (for seeing the output) and your aggregator page. Another window could have your intranet – with separate tabs for different pages. And yet a third could be news you monitor – with separate tabs for MSNBC, CNN, a few newspapers, etc.

  • Speed. This browser flies. Noticeably faster than IE in loading pages.

  • Pop-up blocking. Built into the browser, as it should be. (Note – there’s a tip about enabling ad blocking in Firebird, though I’m less certain that’s a good idea. The whole reason these sites are free is because advertisers pay for the content. If you block the ads, the advertisers have less incentive to pay, which means the free content is less likely to remain.)

  • Presentation. You have complete control – over the browser appearance as well as over page appearances. The UI for this isn’t the greatest (it involves you editing the CSS files manually), but following the instructions provided at the support site are straightforward.

  • Find as you type. Think of this as ActiveWords for browsing. While on a page, when you see a link you want to follow, type the first few letters. Firebird will highlight the link for you, and you hit enter. Now you follow that link. Very cool.

  • Extensions. Check out the many extensions already available. A few I’ve used include the TabBrowser Extensions, which lets you control the behavior of tabs (which, along with this tip, let you control whether links from e-mail open in new windows or new tabs: very, very nice!) and NeedleSearch (which mimics much of the same functionality as UltraBar, the IE extension described above).

There’s more to the browser. I’m impressed with its compatibility – I’ve not stumbled across any major site that shows up impoperly. Things like the MSNBC navigation control (which uses DHTML) work just fine in Firebird. This browser is proof that open source can yield some terrific results. The hard core techies seem quite happy. (Definition of hard core? If this sentence from Jon Udell makes sense to you, consider yourself hard core. I’m not hard core, by the way: “The first [extension] I picked up was LiveHTTPHeaders which seems to instantly obselete Proxomitron for purposes of HTTP protocol sniffing and website reverse-engineering.” Riiiiiiiiiiiiight. Did I mention the cool tabs?!)

When you couple all of this with the recent news that Microsoft is not likely building any more stand-alone browsers, well, I think a move to Firebird makes a lot of sense. Go where the action is, as they say…

Thursday, June 5, 2003

Carl with a K - now in XML

HOLLYWOOD MEETUP REPORT The Hollywood California meetup continues to hold strong. This month we had 115 people, up from 75 last month. We spent a good deal of time recapping the past month and Gov. Dean’s visit last Sunday for the CTA speech. We also recruited donors for a series of fund raisers Dean will be attending in late June. This month Los Angeles meetupies are preparing for the LA Pride festival, a rally & presidential debate at UCLA with all 9 candidates and many small festivals, farmers markets and Democratic club meetings.

:: Hollywood Meetup Photos (06/04)

I’m blogging this mostly to report that Carl with a K now has an RSS feed. Anyone who uses a news aggregator can now monitor Karl’s site in near-realtime vis this link. Welcome to the XML club, Karl!

Homegrown development stats

I’m looking for some statistics about the costs of homegrown development. A firm I’ve been talking to is fighting a battle with their IT department – the IT department insists on building every application themselves, while marketing and management are now leaning towards buying us (a fully-built CRM system tailored to their market).

What I don’t have are numbers that identify the cost – hidden and otherwise – of homegrown software development. This seems like something that should be easy to find, but so far I’ve come up empty. Anyone care to point me in the right direction?

Trying really hard on the SAT

McGee’s Musings

Punting the SAT

Scholastic Aptitude Test: Answering All Questions Incorrectly. This is a knee-slapping account of one person’s attempt to achive the lowest possible score on a SAT examination. The project is fully documented, with lavish illustrations, from the original application to take the test to the white-knuckle stress of finding the wrong answer in a testing environment. Some biting commentary – and from the examples provided I see that the tests are still very culturally biased. Every person planning to take a SAT should read this article. By Colin P. Fahey, May, 2003 [Refer] [Research] [Reflect] [OLDaily]

Don’t know how many of you caught this elsewhere around the net. It demonstrates just what you can accomplish if you have a goal. [via McGee’s Musings]

Wednesday, June 4, 2003

Jim McGee back in the private sector

New gig in the private sector: I’ve actually spent the bulk of my post-doctoral career on the non-academic side of the fence and I’m headed back there again. You can see the details here, although I try to avoid wearing a tie whenever possible. I find that I’m happiest working in rapidly growing environments. Kellogg has been great fun and it was particularly rewarding to be able to develop a course on knowledge management, but what I’m interested in isn’t at the heart of what Kellogg does best. Time for a new adventure.

I’ve been at Huron now for a couple of months so I can say that I expect the blogging to continue. Managing knowledge work hasn’t gotten any easier and I expect I’ll continue to write down my questions, observations, and suggestions about how we can design our way into some useful answers. I just think of it as a participating in this colllective action research program from a slightly different location.

Congrats, Jim! I look forward to hearing more about how things are doing at Huron when the dust settles.

ActiveWords gets good press

Great press for ActiveWords in USA Today: Information springs from your fingertips.

Like Tivo, Active Words is one of those things that doesn’t seem to make much sense until you try it – at which point you can’t imagine why others don’t use it. Check it out.

Tuesday, June 3, 2003

Dean Meetup tonight

The Meetup phenomenon is continuing for the Dean campaign. Last month there were just around 20,000 people signed up on the Monday prior to the Meetup; in the next 36 hours more than 2,000 more people signed up. The same thing has happened again – this month there were 29,000 signed up on the Monday prior, and in the past two days we’ve had over 2,000 people sign up.

All told, there are over 31,000 individuals signed up for a Dean Meetup in over 500 cities. In all likelihood, more than 1,000 people will sign up today – and the campaign has made a push to double the total number within 5 days.

The Dean campaign is rewriting the rules on how to use the Internet in a presidential campaign. If you want to learn more about Governor Dean’s campaign, just head on over to Meetup and find a Meetup near you. Hope to see you there!

BMW - The Ultimate Rain Gauge

It’s raining inside my car – I wonder if that is the sign of a major design flaw? Well the drought finally ended last night, and it looks like we got about 2 inches of rain. I know this because I measured the rain collection in my BMW X5’s center console cup holder. So how could I be so stupid as to leave all four of my windows and the sun roof open during a major downpour?

Believe me I didn’t. Here’s what happened. Last night, during the rain storm, the car spontaneously lowered all of the windows and opened the sun roof. Really.

And this is not a design flaw, or a bug. It’s a feature.

Here’s how it works: BMW makes their ignition keys so that you can wirelessly lower the windows to your car by holding down a button on the key. It takes a good 30 seconds of holding to open all of the windows, but you can do it just by holding down that button. Obviously, the problem occurred not because of a key button being held down, but because of some stray electrical signal in the car’s vicinity (perhaps from the electrical storm).

So I asked the service manager (after I explained this problem, which apparently has occurred before) if he could disable the “feature.” He said “it can’t be done.” I asked him if he thought it was a good idea for a car to be susceptible to opening all of the windows because of some freak electrical activity in the car’s vicinity. He made an effort to understand my point, but obviously I’m biased. He said most people like the ability to open the windows with their key. So he didn’t think there was any sort of design flaw.

Oh, and any damage that might have occurred won’t be covered by the BMW warranty. Remember, guys, this is not a bug it’s a feature. And a mandatory feature.

So what if, while parked outside a downtown restaurant, the car decides to open all the windows and invite a few thieves to get inside and poke around, where they can find the valet key and drive away? (hint to the thieves: bring a bathing suit)

I can’t wait to talk the boys from BMW NorthAmerica and commend them on their fine engineering. I am definitely going to ask them what frequency their key system operates on.

Remember – this is the same car company that publishes a User’s Guide for valets so they can understand how to drive the car.

Monday, June 2, 2003

Al Franken and Bill O'Reilly: Fireworks

WOW. If this doesn’t qualify as the most electric television on C-Span ever, I don’t know what does. (It’s a panel at BookExpo America in Los Angeles from last week.)

Molly Ivins starts out by talking about her observations about President Bush, who she’s known since high school. Then Bill O’Reilly follows. The fireworks happen when Al Franken shows up (whose new book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, comes out in the fall).

That Franken and O’Reilly don’t come to blows at the end of the panel is a minor miracle.

Franken is angry. Really, really angry. And Molly Ivins is a smart cookie. (And funny too – the line of the evening – among many great lines – is hers at 1:09:00.)

Fun TV. And you might just learn a bit too.

Slate reviews "What Not to Wear"

For my wife and Denise:

Dressing for England – The brutal fashion critics of the BBC’s What Not To Wear. By Virginia Heffernan

The review is spot on: this show is addictive. And we just added Faking It to our TiVo subscription; haven’t watched it yet but the promos look hysterical. I can only imagine what it will look like when it gets Americanized…

Usability (ahem)

I find it more than a touch ironic when the search results for all show an incorrect date.

For those that don’t know, is the online home of Jakob Nielsen, the gold standard in website usability. I’m sure this is just a minor glitch (I’ve sent them a note to let them know about it), but it’s exactly these kind of things that presumably they cover in their $45 “Design guidelines for search“ report…

TiVo Sells Ad Skipping Data To Marketers

TiVo Sells Ad Skipping Data To Marketers

LA Times: Tivo to Sell Data on Ad Skipping to Marketers

TiVo has a wealth of information culled from its users detailing their ad skipping behavior. Today, TiVo will begin selling that information gleaned from its 700,000 users to help advertisers understand what gets skipped and why. Knowing this information will, in theory, help marketers create more compelling creative and might move marketers more quickly into the area of TiVo-specific advertainment.

By providing this data, TiVo will make it easier for marketers to opitimize creative the way it is done online. Granted, a :30 spot is far more expensive to produce and much less likely to be tossed out of rotation just because it was skipped. However, over time, some patterns and trends will emerge that ideally will lead to more effective creative.

License Plates in The Matrix Reloaded

Licence plates in The Matrix:
The discussion thread regarding Matrix: Revolutions on the Home Theater Forum is turning up all sorts of interesting tidbits, including the fact that all the licence plates seem to be biblical quotes!

The Twins’ truck on the freeway: DE2852. Deutronomy 28:52 – “They shall besiege you in all your towns, until your high and fortified walls, in which you trusted, come down throughout all your land. And they shall besiege you in all your towns throughout all your land, which the LORD your God has given you.”

Trinity and Morephus’ Cadillac on the freeway: DA203. Daniel 2:03 – “I have had a dream that troubles me and I want to know what it means.”

Agent Smith’s Audi at the beginning: IS5416. Isaiah 54:16 – “Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy.”

This is the kind of stuff I love — the little details that reveal more than we pick up on a first viewing.

And for an entirely different kind of identity crisis related to The Matrix, check out this tidbit (also from The Long Letter). As Neo would say, “Whoa.”