The all time most frustrating experience with (CISCO) support and WHY it matters

I’ve been a fan of Cisco products for years.  Today I had the most frustrating patronizing experience I’ve ever had with support.

Without diving into it, I had a new LinkSys (acquired by Cisco) router under warrantee and it was 30 minutes before they could find the registration information.  I had to prove my contact information and serial number five times over five transfers.

Lesson of what happens when a big company acquires are small one.  Service usually suffers.  Not really worth my time to go into detail, however, I prefer working with small companies that have better service.  Nuff said. This is a reminder to myself.


Fast Company, The Mob, and Influence

I’ve recently received a flood of strange emails.  They were regarding the Fast Company’s Influence Project (check it out).  At first, it seemed like a great noble endeavor.  An experiment in discovery.

Here is the premise:  You get invited to the project and the person that invites you gets points.  They can then create their own link and get points, etc, etc.   In a perfect world, the person with the most influence would yield the most points.  The fun part of the project is a very well done user interface that visually shows you all the people involved.  You can navigate through connections and influence points.

I want to thank John Sumser for creating the post that influenced me to review the Project.

After I clicked on John’s influence link I had a blast reviewing the site and then went back to my work.  Enjoyable experience.

Then the mob took over.

Emails, Twitter direct messages, even a phone call.  People were asking me to use *my* influence to help promote them so they could be near the top of the list.  Influence?  It is no secret that Broadlook, the company that I founded, develops list generation technology.  People wanted “my list”.  One individual even offered to purchase a list on behalf of their chief executive.

If you are reading this and you are one of the people on LinkedIn or Twitter or some other social disaster and you want be at the top of the list, (1) you can’t have my list and (2) think about what Edgar Allan Poe said:

The nose of a mob is its imagination. By this, at any time, it can be quietly led.
-Edgar Allan Poe

In reality, the Fast Company Influence Project will not come near to predicting real influence online.  What it will do is spotlight some people who desperately want to be leading the mob. Guy Kawasaki, while well respected, also seems to want to be at the top of the mob. He talks about it in this article.  I think it would be more fun to pick a person of total obscurity and put them at the top.  Similar to the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) initiative that pointed the search for “Miserable Failure” to George W Bush.

I would welcome human suggestions as to the most influential person online. How about the web master at Google?  What if Google posted a single link on their home page “Vote for Sergey”?

Overall, I am disappointed, it would be nice to have seen a scientific study.  I’m somewhere on that list, but shouldn’t be.  Thanks John ;(

Caveat: My friend, John Sumser did influence me, but did not ask.  Big distinction from the “help me be influential” contingent.


More mob quotes

The nineteenth century lynching mob cuts off ears, toes, and fingers, strips off flesh, and distributes portions of the body as souvenirs among the crowd.
Ida B. Wells

The vision that the founding fathers had of rule of law and equality before the law and no one above the law, that is a very viable vision, but instead of that, we have quasi mob rule.
James Bovard

There can be no such thing, in law or in morality, as actions to an individual, but permitted to a mob.
Ayn Rand

There is no logical reason why the camel of great art should pass through the needle of mob intelligence.
Rebecca West

There is no necessity to separate the monarch from the mob; all authority is equally bad.
Oscar Wilde

There is nothing more foolish, nothing more given to outrage than a useless mob.

We grew up as kids watching those movies and we were exposed to themes of civil rights, unfairness, bigotry and fathers struggling against the kind of mob of the town, so you remember how you felt as a kid being taken seriously, that you are part of the human drama.
Rachel Griffiths

When the theater gates open, a mob pours inside, and it is the poet’s task to turn it into an audience.
Franz Grillparzer

An amazing (1 in 84 billion) iPhone coincidence

An amazing (1 in 84 billion) iPhone coincidence

What happened today is about 1 chance in 84 Billion.  Here is what happened.

I was using the URL shortening service http:\  This service takes a long URL and shortens it into something manageable.  The utility of the service is that you get a short URL which can be used on venues such as Twitter, where every character counts.

In fact, I was going to tweet about a new product, Contact Capture for the iPhone.  The latest iPhone is the 3GS.   I typed in the long URL, as shown in the picture below.


Next, I pressed the [TR.IM] button and got the following:


If you haven’t picked it up, the iPhone is the 3Gs, the trimmed URL is “x3Gs”

Now for the fuzzy (very fuzzy math)

There are approximately 96 usable ASCII characters.  ASCII is the characters on your keyboard plus a few more  (A-Z, a-z and 0-9, etc) .  There are about 96 usable ones that the TR.IM service can use.

With 4 unique characters in the URL, that means there are 96 * 96 * 96 *96 combinations or 84,934,656 combinations.

This itself is interesting, but the fact that the URL was for an iPhone 3Gs we have to look at this question:  Of all trimmed URL’s, what percentage are for iPhone related content?  I am going to be  conservative and sale 1 in 1000.

So 84 million multiplied by 1000 is one in 84 billion.

The bottom line is that this was a coincidence, it made me smile and I thought I would share it.

Here are the links I made today:

Contact Capture for the iPhone:

Contact Capture for the Blackberry:

If the Blackberry link included something like a Blackberry model number, I would be heading out to buy a lottery ticket…no such luck.

This all made me think about Malcolm Gladwell’s new book Outliers.  One of the concepts I gathered was, basically, when opportunity knocks, you need to take advantage of it.  Sometimes an opportunity is one in 84 billion.

Fun with Tag Clouds

Fun with Tag Clouds

Tag Cloud

Tag Cloud

I’ve had some recent fun with Tag Clouds.  These are the sections of blogs that show the most frequently used words in blog postings; the most used words are shown in larger text, less frequent in smaller text.

Tag clouds are great summary tools.  In my next presentation at the Specialized Information Publishers Conference in DC,  I am presenting on The 7 laws of Internet List Generation.  I thought it would be fun to start the talk with the first slide that shows a Tag Cloud of the most frequently used words in the PowerPoint presentation.


One reason for CRM failure; The Nature of Contact Information

Most CRM implementations fail.  This is a fact.  Look it up.

In my years in the industry, I’ve worked with many vendors on the consulting side to help reduce the possibility of CRM failure.  While there is a whole host of reason that failure occurs, I have a very unique perspective into one of those reasons.  The Nature of Contact Information.

The nature of contact information is fairly finite (i.e. Company, URL, Name, Title, Email, Phone, Social Network membership, etc). In addition, the concept of contact information is a simple one to grasp. It is so simple, in fact, that if often gets overlooked.

One of the most important concepts in business is “be brilliant at the basics”. If you are brilliant at your basics many more complex processes will fall naturally into place. So how are you treating contact information?

The miss-handling of contact information can lead to dire consequences across your company.

Take the following work flow as an example:

Looking for a recruiting domain? Here are 5700, unregistered!

Shorter domain names are better.  One syllable words are simple, short, and memorable. This weekend I was looking for a domain name for a new project I was working on.  Everything I initially tried was taken.  What I did know was that I wanted to add a one syllable word to the end of my “anchor word”.  It had nothing to do with recruiting, but for this example,  I will use the anchor word  RECRUIT.

I needed to create a repeatable, semi automated process to conquer this task.   Here is what I did:

1. Create a list of one-syllable words.  One of Broadlook’s software engineers, Kevin,  had developed an algorithm to do this.  It is a great thing when you have a team with 7 years of software code to pull off the shelf.

2. Pass this list of one-syllable words past a good set of text to get a frequency count.  Kevin suggested to run it past the Brown Corpus.   It was a good idea.  Once I had a frequency count, I could remove words of very low frequency from the list.  The end result was about 6100 one-syllable words

3.  Build a simple Excel spreadsheet.  The spreadsheet allows me to type in a single word and it will create about 6100 lines of potential domain names.    You can get this spreadsheet here at a site I set up.

4.  In batches of 500, paste them into GoDaddy’s bulk registration system.   All the domains that are already registered will be culled out of the results.

If you are looking for a domain name in the recruiting space, you can try, or  All of these domains were available as of this writing.  Below is the full list of 5700 available domain names starting with the word RECRUIT.   Within this list are some good domains, and many very bad ones.  They are listed in the order of occurrence of the word in the  English language, starting with “the” being the most used.  While this may seem daunting, check your premises. Try manually thinking up a domain name, checking if it is available, and trying again, again and again  vs.  looking through this list.  This way is much faster.   If someone picks one from this list, let me know, I’d love to hear that I saved you time.  Go get em!