Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Legal Document of the Year

From CalPundit (who saw it on Unfogged), we get the Smoking Gun Legal Document of the Year.

Yes — even though there are five months in the year remaining, Smoking Gun has declared a winner. And it’s a doozie — defending the use of the word “fuck” in a school. Regardless of the merits of a student’s right to confront a principal in such a manner, the brief is truly spectacular. Kudos to public defender Eric Vanatta for such an excellent piece of writing:

Fuck is certainly a controversial word that may be appropriate in certain venues and locales (Florida Elections Commission, speed eating contests, public defender offices) and may be inappropriate in others (weddings, Chuck-E-Cheese pizza parlors, district attorney offices). Some people may believe it is always inappropriate. But in all but a very few circumstances, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits our government from making that determination. This case falls outside of those very limited circumstances and as such, no conviction can result from Mr. X’s alleged statements.

Almost makes me recall with fondness those legal writing skills classes from ten years ago.


Monday, July 28, 2003

Free book!

Last month I wrote about a book by a very close friend. Learning that a friend attempted suicide is hard enough; reading about the ordeal and realizing how little you actually knew about this person is terrifying.

Ben is an amazing person — not because of his suicide attempt or his survival, but because of the enduring commitment he feels to share his story. Instead of capitalizing on his challenges he has written a powerful book and is now giving it away. For real. I urge you to read the manuscript — and then decide whether the charity Ben mentions is worth getting a few dollars in return.

I think they are.

(Consider this a belated pointer to Ben’s blog, which accompanies his book. Welcome to the blogosphere, Ben. It’s warm here. You’ll enjoy it!)

Fundraising success

The Dean vs. Bush fundraising challenge is over – and the campaign reports that over $500,000 was raised since Friday afternoon. NPR covered the effort today on All Things Considered, and gives nice airtime to Nicco, Zephyr and Mathew.

Great job, everyone. And thanks to the many readers of this blog who commented, shared the news, and contributed.

Prof. Sabato on the Democratic contest

Kos over at Daily Kos remarks on UVA professor Larry Sabato’s predictions about the Democratic candidates’ chances against President Bush next November.

Kos is miffed that Sabato omits Dean from the analysis; I tend to agree that the omission of Dean from this list seems odd. (In Sabato’s defense, this analysis was published in June – meaning that Dean’s shocking fundraising performance was not yet known and his status as “insurgent” was still the accepted conventional wisdom.)

To recap, here’s where Dean stands:

  • Statistically tied for the lead in California.

  • Statistically tied for the lead in New Hampshire.

  • Gaining in Iowa.

  • Raised more money than any other candidate in Q2.

  • Will enjoy a fundraising windfall in January when matching funds are disbursed; nearly half of Dean’s contributions are matchable (compared with the average of 14-15%). This could result in a war chest of $12-15m going into the primaries, in addition to whatever he has in the bank after raising money through Q3 and Q4 of this year (I’m assuming he raises another $20m this year. That’s very aggressive, I realize. Even a more conservative estimate still reinforces my point.)

  • Is demonstrating an uncanny knack for leveraging his advantage on the Internet to spend less and raise more — see today’s challenge against the Bush/Cheney ticket as another example — the campaign will have raised over a half million dollars from over 9,000 contributors. How’d they do it? An invitation-only $3/plate turkey lunch.

  • Has more contributors to his campaign than any other, and is trending to widen the gap.

  • Has more volunteers actively involved in the campaign — with six months to go before the primaries — than any other campaign.

While I think the debate about electability is premature — the voters will figure that out for themselves without the pundits decreeing who’s electable — I do think it’s not too early to identify top tier candidates from second tier candidates, etc.

By any objective measure, Dean belongs in the top tier. Whether you think he’s the frontrunner or not is beside the point… but I think it’s an eminently fair request to ask that Sabato’s next analysis include Governor Dean.

The Crystal Ball site is due for a July update. Think Dean will be in that update?

Productizing legal services

It’s not online yet, but be sure to look out for this month’s Law Practice Management Magazine which has a cover story on productizing legal services by Sally Schmidt. In it, she looks at three firms who’ve gone to some lengths to deliver packaged services (often for a flat fee) that clients are finding very valuable:

  • Godfrey & Kahn. Started an “emerging 100” program where young start-ups can “select from a range of fixed-fee services” and which offers “qualified clients the option of deferring the fees for warrants in the company.” The goal? “To help position the entrepreneurs for growth.”

  • Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone. Created a Rebate Calculation Service, which “helps clients determine when IRS rebate reports are due, calculate rebate amounts, prepare the reports and handle the record-keeping.” This started as a flat-fee arrangement but has evolved; interestingly, the firm has developed a “proprietary computer program specifically designed to run the calculations.” (Side note: why can’t I find anything out about this service at the firm’s website?!)

  • Lindquist & Vennum. The Employment and Labor Group Chair Nancy Vollertsen created the “L&V Employment Assessment” which is a flat-fee program to help employers “spot potential legal issues with their employment policies and practices.” Nice mention: the firm originally priced this service as a loss-leader, but the perception in the market was that it was low value. The firm raised the price and picked up more clients.

Schmidt includes several rules for a successful service launch, including the necessity of doing market research and devising an appropriate market mix. Schmidt did her homework here, and it’s refreshing to see a well-documented article focus on the potential upside in pursuing alternative business models.

Another nice tidbit: I’m on a conference call in twenty minutes with a huge east coast law firm (they’re a customer). They have five open spots for “account managers” whose sole purpose is to assist the attorneys in managing active opportunities in the sales pipeline.

Oh, the horror! Law firms sell services? What will they think of next?

Friday, July 25, 2003

Speak softly and carry a big bat

After the Bush campaign’s fundraising successes in Q2, some skeptics pointed out that the Democrats were challenging each other but not presenting much of a challenge to President Bush. Well, the Dean campaign has brought back “the bat” — you may recall it showed up towards the end of Q2 to show real-time fundraising progress — and this time it’s to go head-to-head with a fundraiser that Vice President Cheney will raise $250k on Monday. In less than six hours, $50,000 has been raised. We won’t just hit $250k, we’ll blow by it. I’m guessing we’ll get around $600k.

Current status is here (click the image to contribute):

Brobeck - the firm that keeps on giving

This has the potential to be a huge problem with wide-ranging ramifications for the ongoing troubles faced by several law firms. A former IT employee at Brobeck is claiming that confidential client files were potentially mishandled in the wake of Brobeck’s dissolution.

In a declaration, Homiyar Watchha, Brobeck’s former head of Enterprise Application Services, complained about the way client files were handled in the wake of Brobeck’s announcement in January to dissolve.

Watchha said the processes he created to protect client information were disregarded as the firm fell apart and after Morgan, Lewis & Bockius took over Brobeck’s client materials. He alleges he was fired when he voiced his reservations.

“My concerns were as follows, the risk of confidential client data being shared by multiple legal entities (law firms) was certainly high,” Watchha said. “The fact that now there are Morgan Lewis staff working on Brobeck systems posed further risk to client confidentiality and conflicts of interest.”

Related story: Orrick, Cooley end merger talks.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Upgrades gone bad

I’m an Expensable user — it’s an old Quicken product (now owned by the ominous-sounding “One Mind Connect”) that manages expense reports. About two months ago, it produced an expense report that printed out all expenses as “miscellaneous” even though all were properly categorized in the program. It took days to figure out what had gone wrong, and eventually required a manual re-map of all categories.

In the process, I discovered that One Mind Connect was discontinuing support of our version of Expensable. Today, I got an e-mail from the IT director that we’d purchased an upgrade license to version 6. I ran the setup, entered the code, and it told me that no prior version of Expensable was found, so it could not install.

Except that it was installed. I called the IT director. He got a different error message when he tried to run the upgrade: it told him an old version was found, but he needed to remove it before he could upgrade. Odd, since we both had the same version installed.

Except that we didn’t: I use the program, and up until support expired, One Mind enabled automatic updates. So through the years, Expensable 3.0 had morphed to Expensable 4.11 — and our IT director couldn’t replicate this because updates from version 3 are no longer available.

Solution? In order to upgrade, this is what I had to do:

  • Remove Expensable 4.11.

  • Install Expensable 3.

  • Remove Expensable 3.

  • Run Expensable 6 setup.

The fun part? After running Expensable 6 and exiting, it asks if I want to update the product. Sure — why not? (I’m a glutton.) It discovers a new version (taking the product from 6.0.0 to 6.0.1) and begins downloading. (Download: 1meg.)

Then it crashed. When I tried running it again, it told me I had a patch that hadn’t yet installed; fortunately that installed successfully.

Then it told me another patch was available. (To go to the ever-important version 6.0.2.) Download: 600k. It installs fine.

I run Expensable again. Guess what? Yup. Another version available (they’re rebuilding this thing every 2 minutes! They’re awfully busy at One Mind Connect.) After a 1.6 meg download, I’m now at 6.0.3.

I think I’m caught up. My expense report’s not done, but at least I’m running 6.0.3.

Until tomorrow, perhaps.

I work at a software company, and I’ll be the first to admit that managing a software release process (and the inevitable patches that address important fixes) is hard. But this sure seems like about the least user-friendly process in the world. I can understand the official build and the current build being different. But I had to install 4 versions (after removing 2 versions) of the software. Unbelievable.

Charity begins at home

TAP: Web Feature: Team Spirit. by Garance Franke-Ruta. July 22, 2003.

A web feature on Garance Franke-Ruta’s analsysis of the giving habits of each of the campaigns. It’s interesting reading…

Life Lessons from the Donut Guy

Life Lessons from the Donut & Coffee Guy

Jason Kottke has a terrific post about a sidewalk stand that increases profits by improving trust.

“Next!” said the coffee & donut man (who I’ll refer to as “Ralph”) from his tiny silver shop-on-wheels, one of many that dot Manhattan on weekday mornings. I stepped up to the window, ordered a glazed donut (75 cents), and when he handed it to me, handed a dollar bill back through the window. Ralph motioned to the pile of change scattered on the counter and hurried on to the next customer, yelling “Next!” over my shoulder. I put the bill down and grabbed a quarter from the pile.

I walked a few steps away and turned around to watch the interaction between this business and its customers. For five minutes, everyone either threw down exact change or made their own change without any notice from Ralph; he was just too busy pouring coffee or retrieving crullers to pay any attention to the money situation.

Ralph probably does lose a little bit of change each day to theft & bad math, but more than makes up for it in other ways. The throughput of that tiny stand is amazing. For comparison’s sake, I staked out two nearby donut & coffee stands and their time spent per customer was almost double that of Ralph’s stand. So, Ralph’s doing roughly twice the business with the same resources. Let’s see Citibank do that.

When an environment of trust is created, good things start happening. Ralph can serve twice as many customers. People get their coffee in half the time. Due to this time savings, people become regulars. Regulars provide Ralph’s business with stability, a good reputation, and with customers who have an interest in making correct change (to keep the line moving and keep Ralph in business). Lots of customers who make correct change increase Ralph’s profit margin. Etc. Etc.

And what did Ralph have to pay for all this? A bit of change here and there.
(thanks, Roland!)

Ralph the Coffee & Donut Man has done two things to improve his business. First, he’s put himself at risk rather than the customer (caveat venditor). Whether it’s a hard-headed ROI calculation or a social statement, he’s come out way ahead. Second, he’s changed the character of his relationship with his customers. Instead of insisting on a simultaneous exchange of coffee and cruller for cash, he delivers the goods and ignores the mechanics of the transaction. He’s depending on reliable protocols for the money side of the deal. To his “business logic” (as the consultants call it), the money’s an afterthought.

Many of us, like Roland, see the similarity between the Ralph protocol and the Xpertweb protocol. Once the order’s delivered, the vendor’s free to start on another revenue cycle. Upon delivery, the customer is trusted to pay according to his satisfaction.

In both environments, the delivery and the customer’s response are visible to bystanders, which probably reinforces compliance, but the urge to treat fair work with fair payment is probably genetic, since animals do the same thing.

Trust. You can take it to the bank.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Boston Globe - Blogs Shake the Political Discourse

The article I referred to a few weeks ago is now out, by Joanna Weiss at the Boston Globe. Titled Blogs shake the political discourse, it’s a nice overview of the impact that blogs are having on the presidential campaign.

The article takes a local focus — Oliver Willis (Dedham), and Jock Gill (Medford) are both featured prominently. And she quotes me as well, though she didn’t add my local connection — I went to Acton-Boxboro High School.

And Ron Schmidt, a reader of this blog who was contacted by Joanna, is quoted here:

Ron Schmidt, a Dean supporter from Minnesota, said blogs give him ammunition for water cooler chat. ‘‘I work on people at the bus stop and work,’‘ he wrote in an e-mail to the Globe. ‘‘I have the information, and that’s what the blogs have given me … the POWER.’‘


Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Life on the road - it's all glamorous

My itinerary today:

  • 9:30am flight: Chicago – DC. Cancelled. (Got the last seat on the next flight, got in a half hour ahead of my meeting.)

  • Got into DCA after my meeting to fly to Raleigh and noticed that flights to Raleigh were delayed 2-3 hours. Rather than wait until 8:45, I noticed the 5:30 was due to take off at 8 (it was 7:30). At the Admirals Club, got the receptionist to put me on it so I’d actually get in early. Riiiiight.

  • That flight circled Raleigh while we all watched a spectacular lightning show. Captain announced we were diverting to Norfolk (190 miles from Raleigh).

  • They let us off the plane (in Norfolk). Airport’s closed, there’s no food (I didn’t get dinner in DC, as I was landing in Raleigh in less than an hour and figured I could eat at the hotel), and they have no idea whether we’re leaving tonight or not.

  • It’s now 10:05pm, I have another hour to go before they tell us if the weather’s cleared over Raleigh. For what it’s worth, this is what it looks like right now:

(I think it’s safe to say my day o’ fun isn’t over yet.)

The only silver lining: there’s no food, no drinks, no books, no magazines. But there is WiFi. T-Mobile, you are doing the Lord’s work.

Monday, July 21, 2003

Movable Type enhancement

Over at my Dean campaign blog, I mentioned that I helped the campaign update the official campaign blog over the weekend. Specifically, we added permalinks to comments and added “mail this entry to a friend” functionality. Both are simple tweaks to Movable Type that greatly enhance the weblog. One of my readers asked how I did it, so I’m posting the answer here.

Probably not a bad idea to back up your templates before proceeding, by the way…

Comment permalinks. (Note: This assumes you’re publishing comments on your individual entry template and not in a pop-up window.) Find the spot in your individual entry template where is. Ahead of that code, insert the following:


Decide where you want the permalink link to go; at the Dean blog, we put it immediately after the date (which is likely in your template as ). Insert the following HTML:


Republish your site. Now all comments have permalinks.

Mail this entry to a friend. This is actually in the Movable Type documentation. The only thing I modified here was to add an HTML anchor to the top of the code included in the doc so that when people link to it from the blog’s home page, the link takes them directly to the e-mail form. (See the results by visiting the Dean campaign blog.) The first line of the code from the MT code should look like:

<a name="Mail"><form method="post">mt-send-entry.cgi"&gt;</a>

Once you add the form to your individual entry template, add a link to the form from your Main Index template. We put the link in between the permalink and the Trackback link. The HTML should look like this:

<a>#Mail"&gt;Mail This Entry to a Friend</a>

Of course, you can change the link titles for either of these enhancements; I just included the code as written so you could see what we did.

Dean on Vermont Public Radio - Thursday

Vermont Public Radio (VPR) will have Howard on live from Iowa this Thursday, July 24, from 7pm-8:30pm(east-coast time.) If you can’t tune in VPR in your area, you can listen live on their website. This is part of their Switchboard series which is a call-in show that Howard appeared
on frequently while Governor.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

New from the DoD and Accenture: "eDemocracy"

New from the DoD and Accenture: “eDemocracy” Think web elections are a long way off? Think again. A lucky few American citizens will be able to vote online in the upcoming 2004 presidential elections, thanks to a Department of Defense project called SERVE.

[via kuro5hin.org]

Saturday, July 19, 2003

New features at the Dean blog

We did a little tinkering over at the official campaign blog this afternoon. With the watchful eye of Mathew Gross over my virtual shoulder, we overhauled several things:

  • Comments now have permalinks. If you see something that someone says that you want to share, you can now share it by simply copying the link next to the person’s name.

  • Comments are now published on the page with the individual entry; this both makes permalinks possible and makes it easier for more browsers to handle (several browsers don’t like pop-up windows).

  • Each blog post now has a form you can use to mail a copy to a friend. This is a nice little tweak that’s actually documented in the Movable Type doc that I’d completely missed. Implementing couldn’t be easier, and is a nice new feature for the thousands of visitors that drop by the Dean blog.

What’s so gratifying about working with Mathew, Nicco and Zephyr is that they are so quick to seize on a good idea and make it happen. Or, in today’s case, to seize on a good idea and IM me. :)

There have been some great observations lately from some heavy hitters in the blogosphere — Doc Searls, Mitch Ratcliffe and David Weinberger. I’ll write more about these (especially the requests for a Slashdot-like system for the Dean blog) later. In the meantime, it’s great to see the tech community start to build a community around the campaign.

John Robb is back

JRobb is Back!

John Robb is back, located now at MindPlex.org. [via Bryan Strawser

Friday, July 18, 2003

History comes alive

Like Matthew Langer, I have long been an admirer of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. (I have my high school history teacher — Winslow Smith — to thank for that.)

For that reason, I quote in its entirety Matthew’s post from earlier today. I completely agree with him — this is breathtaking.

I read a lot of history, and Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. has long been one of my favorites. But today, while finishing the last pages of The Crisis of the Old Order, the first volume of The Age of Roosevelt, he amazed me in a way he never has before. So I just wanted to share this great passage that is representative of history writing at, in my opinion, its absolute best:

On February 14 the governor of Michigan decreed an eight-day bank holiday, closing all the banks of the state. On the 15th, Roosevelt went ashore at Miami. A motorcade took the President-elect to a reception at the Bay Front Part as dusk began to fall. (In a car behind, Vincent Astor and Ray Moley academically discussed the risks of assassination in crowded streets.) Sitting on top of the back seat of his open car, Roosevelt addressed the crowd. As he finished, the newsreel people asked him to repeat his speech for them. He courteously replied that he could not. Then he slid off the back of his car into his seat.

Just then Mayor Cermak of Chicago came forward. (Cermak was seeking political favors; he would never have had to go to Miami on this mission, Jim Farley later wrote, if he had not stalled on delivering the Illinois delegation to Roosevelt after the first ballot in Chicago.) A man appeared with a long telegram and started to explain it to Roosevelt. The President-elect, leaning forward to listen, turned toward the left side of the car. Suddenly Roosevelt heard what he took to be the explosion of a firecracker; it was followed immediately by several more explosions. Blood mysteriously spurted on the hand of one of the Secret Service men. Roosevelt abruptly became aware in the half-light of a short, swarthy man standing on a small box thirty-five feet away, wildly spraying bullets in his direction. A roar of fear and horror began to rise from the crowd. In a moment Roosevelt’s strong voice rang out above the panic, “I’m all right! I’m all right!”

Joe (or Guiseppe) Zangara was an unemployed bricklayer who had bought his revolver at a pawnshop on North Miami Avenue for eight dollars. Nagging pains in an ulcerated stomach filled him with deep hostility toward the world. “I have always hated the rich and powerful. I hoped I would have had better luck than I had ten years ago when in Italy I bought a pistol to kill King Emmanuel. I sat there in the park waiting, and my stomach kept aching more than ever. I do not hate Mr. Roosevelt personally, I hate all Presidents, no matter from what country they come, and I hate all officials and everybody who is rich.” And so, his stomach blazing as if it were on fire, he poured his bullets toward the presidential car. Mayor Cermak, writhing in agony, fell to the ground; four others were wounded. Roosevelt motioned to have Cermak put in the back of his car and told the chauffeur to drive to the hospital. “Tony, keep quiet — don’t move,” he said. “It won’t hurt if you keep quiet.”

The events at Miami shocked the nation into reality. If the thin chance which had saved the people their President-elect was sobering, his own response was more than that — it was heartening and exhilarating. For Roosevelt, it was clear, really lacked physical fear, and an impulse of courage now flowed out to the nation against the backdrop of gunfire at Miami.

When John Garner warned him about the dangers of assassination in December, Roosevelt had reassuringly answered, “I remember T.R. saying to me, ‘The only real danger from an assassin is from one who does not care whether he loses his own life in the act or not. Most of the crazy ones can be spotted first.’” Nor did the actuality of the attempt now disturb him. “I have never in my life seen anything more magnificent,” Moley later wrote, “than Roosevelt’s calm that night on the Nourmahal.“His only concern was the condition of Cermak and the others who had been wounded. (Cermak died a few days later.) “He was a fatalist,” reported McDuffie, his valet. “He believed what was to be would be. He laughed! He didn’t take that very seriously. He wasn’t a man to be in a very serious mood over a thing that’s gone under the bridge. If it was over, it was over.” The next morning, when McDuffie brought out the tie rack, Roosevelt reached for the same red tie he had worn the day before. As McDuffie remembered it: “I said, ‘This morning we won’t put the red tie on.’ And he laughed and laughed. That was the only time I ever selected his tie.”

(Fourteen months earlier, a British politician, crossing Fifth Avenue in New York between 76th and 77th Streets around ten-thirty at night, had looked in the wrong direction and was knocked down by an oncoming car — a moment, he later recalled, of a man aghast, a world aglare: “I do not understand why I was not broken like an eggshell or squashed like a gooseberry.” Those who believe that personalities make no difference to history might well ponder whether the world would have been the same in the next two decades had Gieseppe Zangara’s bullet killed Roosevelt at Miami in 1933 and had Mario Contasini’s car killed Winston Churchill on Fifth Avenue in 1931.)

— Matthew Langer, 03:03 PM

[from Untelevised.org

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Google NonSense

So I got interested in Google’s new AdSense program. It doesn’t cost much to run this blog (all told, hosting and software costs run about $300/year), but I figured the AdSense program might be a nice way to recoup just a tiny bit of the investment.

So I signed up. Here is the e-mail thread that resulted:

From: Google AdSense Support “adsense-support@google.com”
To: rick@rklau.com
Subject: Google AdSense Account Status

Hello Rick Klau,

Thank you for your interest in Google AdSense. After reviewing your
application, our program specialists have found that the website
currently associated with your account does not comply with our
policies. Therefore, we’re unable to accept your into Google AdSense
at this time.

We did not approve your application for the reasons listed below. If
you are able to resolve these issues, please feel free to reply to
this email for reconsideration when you have made the changes.


- Difficult site navigation

It was then that I realized that the URL field in the AdSense sign-up page required a top-level domain; I replied to the e-mail and explained that my blog lives at http://www.rklau.com/tins/ and that the page at rklau.com is in fact just a placeholder so that people who hit the page don’t get a 404.

Google’s reply:

From: “Google AdSense” “Adsense-support@google.com”
To: rick@rklau.com
Subject: Re: [#3003784] Google AdSense Account Status

Hello Rick,

An entire site must be reviewed for participation in Google AdSense, not
individual pages. Unfortunately, we do not have the ability to approve you
to run only on select pages or a sub domain. Your website, www.rklau.com,
was found to not be in compliance with our policies (https://www.google.com/adsense/policies), and we are unable at this time
to approve you to run in this program.

If you manage or own another site on which you’d like to display AdWords
ads, you may reply to this email and include that URL in the message. We
will then reconsider your application. If the new site complies with our
program policies, we’ll approve your application and allow you to run ads
on that specific site.


The Google Team

Here’s my reply.

From: “Rick Klau” “rick@rklau.com”
Subject: Re: [#3003784] Google AdSense Account Status
Date: Thu, 17 Jul 2003 19:35:33 -0500

Maybe this isn’t clear: I run a weblog. It, and all its archive pages, are
at http://www.rklau.com/tins/. I also run a second weblog about the Dean
campaign, at http://www.rklau.com/dean2004/.

Except for the fact that both live at the same top-level domain, they have
nothing to do with each other. And they have complete navigation,
archives, search engines, etc. (TINS has more than 900 pages, Dean2004 has over 200.)

Both are, by any definition I’m familiar with, separate sites. For you to
describe rklau.com as the site, and any and every page that lives off of
it seems to fly in the face of conventional wisdom. I find this policy of
requiring only top-level domains to be “evaluated” to be at odds with the
goal of your program (namely, to distribute Google AdSense as widely as

If that’s your final position, so be it. But it strikes me as exceedingly
narrow and a rather arbitrary requirement.


Rick Klau

Oh well… I was going to try it mostly as an experiment anyway; no reason to get upset about it. But what practical reason is there to restrict this to top-level domains?

I’m consistently impressed by Google’s ability to “get it”. Just this once, they seem to have completely missed the point.

Judges with a sense of humor

Caught over at The Volokh Conspiracy, check out this wonderful example of judicial common sense:


Pursuant to the modified scheduling order, the parties in this case had until June 25, 2003 to file summary judgment motions. Any electronic document may be e-filed until midnight on the due date. In a scandalous affront to this court’s deadlines, Microsoft did not file its summary judgment motion until 12:04:27 a.m. on June 26, 2003, with some supporting documents trickling in as late as 1:11:15 a.m. I don’t know this personally because I was home sleeping, but that’s what the court’s computer docketing system says, so I’ll accept it as true.

Microsoft’s insouciance so flustered Hyperphrase that nine of its attorneys, namely Mark A. Cameli, Lynn M. Stathas, Andrew W. Earlandson, Raymond P. Niro, Paul K. Vickrey, Raymond P. Niro, Jr., Robert Greenspoon, Matthew G. McAndrews, and William W. Flachsbart, promptly filed a motion to strike the summary judgment motion as untimely. Counsel used bolded italics to make their point, a clear sign of grievous iniquity by one’s foe. True, this court did enter an order on June 20, 2003 ordering the parties not to flyspeck each other, but how could such an order apply to a motion filed almost five minutes late? Microsoft’s temerity was nothing short of a frontal assault on the precept of punctuality so cherished by and vital to this court.

Wounded though this court may be by Microsoft’s four minute and twenty-seven second dereliction of duty, it will transcend the affront and forgive the tardiness. Indeed, to demonstrate the even-handedness of its magnanimity, the court will allow Hyperphrase on some future occasion in this case to e-file a motion four minutes and thirty seconds late, with supporting documents to follow up seventy-two minutes later.

Having spent more than that amount of time on Hyperphrase’s motion, it is now time to move on to the other Gordian problems confronting this court. Plaintiff’s motion to strike is denied.

Entered this 1st day of July, 2003.

Magistrate Judge


Up2Speed: mLife Dies, AT&T Won’t Admit It Stunk

AT&T’s fuzzy and conceited mLife campaign was taken behind the barn and shot. Presumably by a smiling 30-something in high-contrast colors carrying a cell phone. One of the worst-conceived campaigns ever to soak up $120 million finally died, with AT&T’s firing of Ogilvy & Mather (O&M) and hiring of Goodby Silverstein & Partners. The client did not confirm whether the online portion of the account – with one of the largest online media budgets – will also fall to Goodby.

AT&T’s hired O&M to do for it what they had already claimed to have done for IBM: invent a branded word that would encompass a desired market category. With the conceit typical of the larger agencies, O&M had been bragging that it had invented the word “e-business” for IBM. Showing great gullibility, AT&T bought it.

Showing even greater gullibility, AT&T bought the mLife concept, a mish mashy hodgepodge of aspirations – all of which apparently involved smiling people carrying cell phones. The TV, print, outdoor and online blitz teased and cajoled viewers into wanting an mLife, but someone at the agency apparently forgot to include the part about what the heck an mLife was. Viewers thought the ads were pretty, mistakenly going out in droves to buy mutual life insurance.


Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Maximizing Movable Type

Maximizing The Power of Blog Software Interesting ideas from A Whole Lotta Nothing [via Dennis Kennedy] on getting the maximum value out of Movable Type: “It’s pretty common for people new to weblogging to embrace the simplicity of publishing, and crave it in the rest of their tools. Once you start blogging and the pain of FTP and hand HTML coding is gone, many people start wishing their blogging tools could handle other pages on their site, but virtually none of them do out of the box.

Adding to this, Movable Type has the ability to link the templates referred to in this post to filenames. So – use your favorite HTML editor (DreamWeaver, FrontPage, GoLive, whatever) to create the HTML files you want. Save them to your webserver and you can use Movable Type to control the republication of those pages.

In fact, you can even insert Movable Type commands to insert variables where appropriate, so that the pages created can contain links to dynamic data coming out of your weblog.

The Connectivity Campaign

David Weinberger is enthusiastic about Governor Dean’s guest-blogging over at Larry Lessig’s blog. David asks, “Has any presidential candidate ever in history been dropped into a free-for-all quite like this? Could it be any more different than Bush’s scripted press conferences and tailored, crotch-enhancing photo opps? Democracy just got a little real-er.”

The conventional wisdom would have you believe that the day Bush 41 asked what the barcode scanner was at the grocery store was the day he lost the presidency: in that one action, he demonstrated that he was out of touch with the American people. (Politics aside, I tend to disagree witht the conclusion: he ran a lousy campaign and Clinton ran a brilliant campaign. But as Bush 41 demonstrated repeatedly in post-election interviews, he was — and is — a sincere individual with a great sense of humor and a piercing intelligence.)

With Bush 43, it’s increasingly bizarre pronouncements that demonstrate the lack of connectivity to the population. Ari: “To the people who say the WMD don’t exist, I say the burden of proof is on them to show me where they are.” Huh? Or our President: “Bring ‘em on.” or even “We had to go to war because Saddam wouldn’t let inspectors in.” (Shh — maybe someone will remind President Bush that he did let them in.)

And Governor Dean’s demonstration of connectivity — in all aspects of the campaign — is what is driving its success.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Dean gets help from DC Insiders

MSNBC.com — Dean gets help from D.C. insiders

But as improbable as it would have seemed three months ago, some Capitol Hill political realists have now accepted — even embraced — the notion that Dean will end up as the Democratic nominee.

“I want to beat Bush and I think Dean is the best guy to do that,” said a senior Senate Democratic staffer, who spoke to MSNBC.com on condition that he not be named. “I’m convinced he’s going to win the nomination. He has won ‘the inspiration primary’ and he won the fund-raising primary,” leading all Democratic contenders with $7.5 million raised in the second quarter.

The article mentions that Dean is meeting with the “Blue Dogs”, a group of 36 conservative House Democrats.

Monday, July 14, 2003

Want to be in the paper?

I got interviewed by a reporter for the Boston Globe last week. She’s writing about the grassroots support building around the Dean campaign, and I stressed that a major contributing factor to the momentum is the growing sense of community that individuals are feeling once they get involved.

To that end, if there’s anyone who reads this site on a regular basis who would like to chat with the reporter from the Boston Globe about your experiences with the campaign, please contact me by Wednesday of this week. She’s mostly trying to get a feel for who reads blogs like this one, what they may be doing “offline” to support the campaign, and how they got involved.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Chris Suellentrop - Should Dean be afraid of the Internet (Slate.com)

Talk about a forced analogy:

Peer-to-Peer Politics – Should Howard Dean be a little bit afraid of the Internet? By Chris Suellentrop

What did file swappers do after Napster went down? They turned to Gnutella, a system that doesn’t require a central broker. Dean wants to be Napster, but his supporters are more like Gnutella: They don’t need to go through Dean to connect with one another.

I’m not sure I follow. Suellentrop is trying to say that Napster failed because it required a central server. And Gnutella has succeeded because it doesn’t require a central server.

Actually, Napster failed because it ultimately fostered illegal activity, and the people most harmed by that illegal activity had deeper pockets than Napster did.

While I think Suellentrop’s underlying message — that the lessons from the Dean campaign will fundamentally rewrite campaigning as we know it — is perfectly sound, I think he’s vastly understating the support Dean enjoys among his supporters.

I’ll be the first to admit that I could be wrong (and it will be interesting to revisit this prediction next spring and in November, 2004), but I’m convinced that the Dean popularity is not because of the Internet, it’s because of his message. The Internet simply lets others feel like they’re a part of that message. It’s that very participation that makes the difference.

Dean gets the Slashdot treatment

Lots of interest over at Slashdot now that Governor Dean will be guest-blogging at Prof. Larry Lessig’s blog while he’s on vacation.

No entries from Governor Dean yet – he is probably wrapping up at the NAACP conference and I imagine he’ll check in later tonight.

Enter the Matrix

My wife bought me Enter the Matrix for Father’s Day (yes, she really is that cool) and I’ve been enjoying it quite a bit the last few weeks. I’m not a gamer (in my opinion, games went downhill after River Raid for Atari), but found the mix of action and plotlines to be kind of fun.

I’ve read several of the reviews that complain about the game (specifically, they noted that the gameplay isn’t as good as others out right now) — and I don’t think they’re wrong. But there’s just a visceral thrill when you figure out how to hack into the Matrix, change the game, and then get a message from Neo.

I mean really — for Matrix fans, that’s worth at least a few hours of entertainment, right?!

Speaking of the Matrix, comments are going strong on my post from several months ago about the philosophy behind Matrix reloaded. As of this writing, there are 61 comments. Keep ‘em coming!

Cleaning up Your Act: Dirty Data (CIO Australia)

CIO | Cleaning Up Your Act

Lots of quotes from yours truly about the impact of dirty data on a firm’s software initiatives, the need for process improvement as well as technology improvement, etc. It’s a great article – Sue Bushell really did a nice job of going beyond the sound bites.

Good Chinese restaurant in San Francisco?

A friend needs a good recommendation for a moderately priced Chinese restaurant in San Francisco. Should be casual and can accommodate a medium-sized crowd (20 or so).

Any suggestions?

Joe Klein - Are Voters in the Mood for an Angry Democrat?

TIME – Joe Klein – Are Voters in the Mood for an Angry Democrat?

And so Kerry vs. Dean has become the preliminary bout before the Democrats’ main event. It is a struggle that revolves around a single issue that mixes style and substance. The issue is Iraq. The style question is, How angry should Democrats be about what George W. Bush has done there?

Dean is winning on both counts. His opposition to the war is looking less radical every day. His style — his imprudence, his plain talk — just doesn’t sound like the other guys. At the Dems’ winter meeting in Washington, he arrived at the podium and, instead of lapsing into the usual thank-you blather, blasted off like a rocket-propelled grenade: “What I want to know is why so many Democrats in Washington aren’t standing up against Bush’s unilateral war in Iraq.” This was followed by several more withering “What I want to knows” and then the introduction: “My name is Howard Dean, and I represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.” The crowd went nuts.

My favorite piece from the article is perhaps the most cogent analysis of Dean’s rise. It’s not the Internet – it’s the message:

There is a misapprehension that the Dean phenomenon was created by the Internet. It was created by Dean’s mouth—and by the fury of many Democrats at what they perceive to be a radical Republican Administration. [It’s not] a leftward lurch by Democratic Party activists; it seems more a reaction to the rightward lurch of the Republicans.

Washington Post: Kerry & Dean on a Collision Course

Kerry and Dean Set on a Collision Course (washingtonpost.com)

Now Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and former Vermont governor Howard Dean are on a collision course in their bids for the Democratic presidential nomination. They skirmished briefly in the spring over patriotism, courage and the qualities required of a commander in chief in an age of terrorism. With Dean’s sudden emergence, a decisive clash appears inevitable, one that will have a significant impact on the outcome of the Democratic race.

NAACP Candidate Forum - several candidates MIA

Looks like a few candidates have discovered that being a full-time politician and a full-time candidate for president can be tough.

As many as four of the nine candidates have refused to participate in the forum, expressing reluctance to appear on stage with their rivals in a debate format, NAACP officials said.

The four — Edwards, Lieberman, Graham and Kucinich — drew considerable heat from Kweisi Mfume (NAACP President) and Julian Bond (NAACP Chairman):

Mfume: “If you can’t come to the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization’s national conference to lay out what you believe in and the direction you think our country should go in, you certainly have no legitimacy going into black communities asking for votes. If you can’t do a forum where you’re simply asked a question and asked to respond, the question is can you really lead?”

Bond: “Those who do come demonstrate as much by their presence as by their words that they’re interested in what this audience has to say. Their absence says the contrary.”

Think this next paragraph might haunt the Kerry and Edwards campaigns?

According to NAACP officials, at least two campaigns — Kerry and Edwards — were involved in intense negotiations with the organization late Saturday, urging it to prevent a format in which the candidates appeared together.

How about the flap with Edwards: he asked the NAACP to change the date of the candidate forum to accommodate his schedule; the NAACP complied, only to have him again refuse to come.

As of late yesterday Edwards and Kerry have agreed to participate.

At least we know what they’re afraid of. (Just in case you’re wondering, it’s not Sharpton.) Can’t wait to see the soundbites that come out of this forum…

Friday, July 11, 2003

Governor Dean in Chicago on August 5

This just in… Stay tuned for rally details as the date gets closer.

AFL-CIO to Host Working Families Presidential Forum on August 5th:
Union Members to Assess Democratic Candidates at Forum at Chicago’s Navy Pier

The AFL-CIO will host a national working families Democratic presidential forum in Chicago on August 5th in conjunction with the AFL-CIO’s Executive Council meeting there. Questions from rank-and-file workers will shape the direction of this lively forum among the nine Democratic candidates and raise issues central to working families’ lives.

“America needs a leader who plans to put the needs and concerns of working men and women front and center,” said AFL-CIO President John Sweeney. “This forum will help our members decide who best represents working people’s interests as the unions of the AFL-CIO prepare to undertake an unprecedented mobilization effort for the 2004 elections.”

The forum will be held from 8:00 – 9:30 E.T. at Chicago’s Navy Pier.

In addition, hundreds of local union groups will come together in “watch parties” in union halls and homes in cities across the nation to view the event and gain a comparative look at the candidates.

President Bush has been invited to speak before the AFL-CIO Executive Council.

The AFL-CIO Executive Council will discuss next steps in the labor movement’s Presidential endorsement process on Wednesday following the Tuesday forum in Chicago.

The AFL-CIO is the umbrella organization for America’s unions, representing 13 million working men and women across the nation.

Reporters and cameras should call the AFL-CIO at 202-637-5018
in advance to register their attendance.

Wednesday, July 9, 2003

Into the ether...

Now it seems the other shoe has dropped at Userland, and the rules have changed. Dave Winer is the founder of Userland (Userland is the company that makes Radio, a weblogging application) and is now a fellow at Harvard Law’s Berkman Center.

In June, Dave lamented that the New York Times had committed a grave error by taking their free archives away and instituting a pay-for-access scheme. Dave wrote:

This broke our achive too. Now not only can’t they be the news source of record on the Web, but in a single move, they erased the record they had already created, and we had come to depend on. That’s how powerful the technology of the Web is, and how fragile.

How fragile indeed. On Monday, Userland’s CEO John Robb abruptly left the company (I’d link to his post, but that’s part of the story; instead, read his brief post over in Feedster’s cache). John’s weblog — hosted at Userland’s servers — is now dead. Gone. Nothing but a default server response when you go to jrobb.userland.com.

This troubles me for a host of reasons — but by far the biggest reason is that I’m blogging because of John Robb. Three days, three separate queries — and each one led to John’s site. I wondered why — who was this guy who was getting such good Google placement? I sent him an e-mail, we talked on the phone for a half hour, and I wrote an article about the whole experience. That week I started my own weblog (ironically, that first effort was in Blogger, then I moved to Radio and now I’m using Movable Type).

Beyond the personal connection, this frustrates me because Dave Winer took a principled position on the NY Times issue (one I happen to agree with) — yet now he wishes John good luck while simultaneously taking down nearly five hundred pages worth of content. (Caveat: it’s possible, though doubtful, that someone other than Dave took this down. If you know differently than I, feel free to leave a comment.)

John — I hope you land on your feet (I’m confident you will). Let us know where you go!

Final lesson from this situation: never, ever blog at a domain that’s not owned by you. Don’t blog on your employer’s site, don’t blog on your blogging application’s site — make sure your blog lives (and stays!) on your own domain.

Tuesday, July 8, 2003

We need bigger places...

Thanks to The Long Letter for linking to this article in Saturday’s Washington Post – it’s a good article with some great snippets. But I particulary liked this nugget:

After six months of full-time campaigning, he has gone from being the asterisk to the rising star of the nine Democrats vying for the nomination to challenge Bush. In aggressively confronting the administration, Dean has tapped the discontent, and even anger, among the party’s ranks with the self-assurance of the doctor he once was and the combativeness of the governor he became. Now Dean, the shortish (about 5-foot-8) contender with the flushed face and the rolled-up sleeves, is the one with the buzz and the blogs.

At least 38 Web sites are devoted to his campaign, and online volunteer organizing has packed the pubs, cafes and living rooms where Deansters meet. If 20 people are expected at a Dean event, 50 or 100 show up. If 100 are expected, 200 or 400 show. And so on.

“It’s a problem,” quips Joe Trippi, Dean’s campaign manager. “We have to keep finding bigger places.”

Out of town...

No posts for a while – I’m currently in London on business. Lots of good discussions going on at the official blog — so be sure to swing by there.

I’m just now getting caught up on my news aggregator, so I’m hoping to get some posts caught up from the past week or so. Stay tuned…

Monday, July 7, 2003

WiFi rules

No shocker that I’m a fan of WiFi – but there’s something incredibly satisfying about sitting down for a cup of coffee 4,000 miles from home – and having Internet access available as soon as you open your laptop.

No doubt this will seem quaint in a few years – but it sure seems pretty cool today.

One question: if I’m already a flat-rate T-Mobile HotSpot subscriber, why do I need to buy a UK HotSpot pass?

Light posts

I’m still around – just been busy with July 4th plans. And now I’m in London for just over two days of meetings. I’m hoping to get caught up (there are a number of good KM threads in my aggregator just waiting to get posted) in the next day or so, but it may be the end of the week before I’m posting back to normal.

Thursday, July 3, 2003

The Clue Primary: Reed and From prove the point

Bruce Reed and Al From, leaders of the DLC that attacked Governor Dean’s supporters for being “activist elites” last quarter, now write an op-ed in today’s LA Times:

Activists Are Out of Step

Real Democrats aren’t ideologues. They don’t vote to make a statement; they vote hoping to get things done. They want social progress, but they’re not on a social crusade. Most Democrats don’t think they know better than everyone else; they are everyone else.

Well, sure. I’ll agree with that. But in the same article they try to paint Governor Dean as a liberal unelectable candidate whose platform is “defined by weakness abroad and elitist interest-group liberalism at home.”

Is there anyone who actually reads his campaign positions (pay special attention to his address to the Council on Foreign Relations) or who reads the comments on the campaign weblog who actually believes this?

I’ll co-opt Sharpton’s line from a few weeks ago: Reed and From are my color, but they’re not my kind…

The Clue Primary

Ooh! A Google whack to call my own: the “clue primary”. (For you purists, I realize that a real Google-whack has just two words and doesn’t use quotes. Whatever – you get the idea.)

Here’s the thing: by all accounts this presidential campaign is different. There are some campaigns who have a clue, and there are many that don’t. Kos does a great job today summing this up — “the top-bottom campaign structure is DEAD. Communicating via only press release is DEAD.”

Kos points to this NY Times article where several of the campaigns demonstrate their lack of a clue by marginalizing his supporters. (The Star Wars cantina quote and the “WTO protestors in turtle costumes” are my two, uh, favorites.)

Wouldn’t you love to be in on that strategy session?

*Candidate:* What’s going on with Dean?
*Consultant:* Nothing. It’s nothing to worry about.
*Candidate:* But there’s like 50,000 people who’ve signed up for him. 59,000 people donated to his campaign.
*Consultant:* Those aren’t real Democrats. They’re angry dorks. Ignore them.
*Candidate:* Ignore 59,000 potential voters?
*Consultant:* No, better yet: insult them. Maybe they’ll go away.
*Candidate:* If you say so…

So there you go: I’ll periodically post to this blog about The Clue Primary, and will provide a link on the right-hand side of the blog to posts in The Clue Primary. To rip off the Washington Post’s old tagline: If you don’t get it, you don’t get it.

Blogland's Man of the People

Welcome to the many readers of Salon.com who are showing up here after reading Farhad Manjoo’s article Blogland’s Man of the People about the Dean campaign and the blogosphere.

Since I do quite a bit of writing too, I know there’s a ton of angles on the story that Farhad wanted to address (and we talked about) but couldn’t. So here are some additional points that I think bear mentioning:

  • Money raised online is more valuable than money raised offline. I wrote about this back in May, but I still think it bears more coverage in the press: if offline fundraising (i.e., traditional fundraising) costs up to 80% of the dollars it raises, is there any doubt that the impact of Dean’s online efforts will only magnify with time?

  • Online fundraising is scalable, offline fundraising is not. A candidate can only ever be in one place at one time. Online fundraising ensures the candidate can be in every family room across the country — at the same time. Result? $800k in one day. Imagine what that will look like in the midst of the primaries.

  • The most successful element of the Blog for America site is that it creates a sense of community among the Dean supporters. Result? They’re more connected, they have an emotional investment in the outcome, and are more willing to dig deep when it counts. The campaign continues to leverage this aspect in ways that leave the other campaigns far, far behind. (Farhad asked me: could other campaigns just duplicate what Dean has done? I think not: it’s as much about the culture of the campaign and the character of the candidate that dictates how the strategy plays out; it’s hard for me to see the same community building organically around the other candidates.)

  • The popular rhetorical question the press is asking lately: will Dean’s grassroots support matter? Shame on the unnamed rival campaign who compared Dean’s Meetup attendees to the cantina crew from Star Wars; the 40 people who attended the Meetup in Naperville/Wheaton Illinois last night were an exceedingly normal group of people. We had college students and retirees, parents and single individuals, teachers and union members, executives and a few people who’d been recently laid off. In short — this was a cross-section of voters who are eager to see a change in 2004. And does the grassroots support matter? Those 40 people wrote nearly 70 letters to undecided Iowa voters, joining hundreds of cities around the country who were doing the same thing. Last night history was made — and we’ll do it again next month.

Kudos to Farhad for writing the article (and thanks to Dave Cullen for the pointer in my comments last night). To those of you who are just finding out about the Dean campaign, welcome! We need all the help you can give. To get involved, I suggest:

  • Join the e-mail list. Make sure the campaign knows how to reach you.

  • Sign up for Meetup and join the more than 55,000 Americans who are already supporting the Governor’s campaign.

  • Contribute to the campaign. While this campaign isn’t about money, it’s only with money that Governor Dean’s message can be communicated. Give whatever you’re comfortable giving — the amount is less important than the contribution itself.

Tuesday, July 1, 2003

Um, Dad? I was alive in 2000...

Garry Trudeau is my hero:

Doonesbury c2003 Garry Trudeau
(c)2003 Garry Trudeau

(In the interest of full disclosure: Trudeau is a classmate of Governor Dean’s and a long-time friend who’s given his $2,000 limit.)