Dec 31, 2007

A Line About Poker & Common Sense

Browsing sites I came across this small jewel of wisdom that I have to share with my readers:

Hold and Fold

“If, after the first twenty minutes, you don’t know who the sucker at the table is, it’s you.” ~Author Unknown


Source: Linkedin ---> InfoChackie (a little gem by itself as a commonsense resource for the entrepreneurial or business type individual)

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Still an Undecided Voter?

Seems that the 2008 elections are quickly becoming the elections of the undecided. I am a legal alien but alien nevertheless (lol), so I can't vote, but I have to confess that if I could vote I would also be in the "undecided" list.

That is why I believe the "Candidate Calculator" is a very interesting tool. If you take it seriously it basically analyzes how you think about hot issues and finds the 2008 presidential candidate that best aligns with your beliefs.

I wasn't really surprised when my result came back stating that my best match was Kucinich with whom according to the test, I agree with 82%, on the issues that matter to me. Problem is that even when I really like how the guy thinks, I believe he is not the best choice for this moment in time, so I wouldn't vote for him, but that is another story.

Nevertheless the result was pretty accurate also when pointing who the worst choices would be, being Mr. CheapCarSalesman Romney and Mr. Law&Order Thompson the ones making the "Bottom of the Barrel" list for me.

If you are still undecided, take the test and then drop me a line (or better still, post your result in the comments area) and let us know how accurate you feel those results are!

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No Comments Needed

This video is the advertising from a site called FCCFU.com. As part of their campaign they ask people that if they agree with what they have to say, to spread the word.

The site is HORRIBLE (they surely could profit from the help of a designer!) but I surely agree with what they say. So here is my little grain of sand to make it more popular..., viral if possible!

video

Slightly related to this topic, if you haven't seen the movie "This Film Is Not Yet Rated ", make sure you do. Is a great documentary that shows how stupid, inadequate and archaic is the system to rate movies. A must see.

If you decide to visit FCCFU, make sure you also take a look to Carlos Mencia's rant about censorship, freedom and personal responsibility.

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Dec 26, 2007

Just a Reminder...

...Don't ask me to respect someone because they have an MBA!

I taught for 9 years at the University of Buenos Aires. I have friends that have become MBAs and I have friends that are teaching to future MBAs.

When I move to the US I have the "pleasure" of seeing some final projects done by MBA students at an American School... and I remember thinking they would never ever pass my undergraduate class with such an a poor level of thinking (and writing for that matter), but they pass their class anyway.


"...56% of MBA students admitted to
copying others' work, plagiarizing,
or sneaking notes into exams..."







Don't get me wrong, I believe an MBA may be useful for some. Like Engineers or MDs that want to go into business. It will give them the very basic tools to start in the business world, as well as the contacts. But if you are about pursuing knowledge forget the MBA. Go for a Master in your area.

Just don't ask me to respect you because you have an MBA. Ask me to respect your knowledge and your wisdom and show those to me.

And BTW, check this little piece of information:

"You have business students saying, 'All I'm doing is emulating the behavior I'll need when I get out in the real world.'" -- Rutgers University professor Donald McCabe, lead author of a study that found MBA candidates the most likely to cheat among North American graduate students (...) fifty-six percent admitted to copying others' work, plagiarizing, or sneaking notes into exams.

(Source: CNNMoney)

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The Art of (Re)Creating Stories

Stories are, when taken to the very very basic core of them, just a few. From Romeo & Juliet to Alien, they are always about basic human feelings, good and evil, love and hate, war and peace, "them" and us. Still, there are thousands of millions of stories out there that are (for real) original stories.

The main reason that makes that possible is that stories are like us, humans.We do have a common DNA that makes us 'humans' but the devil is in the details and those 'details' makes us so different (or not).

Advertising works creating stories that should reflect either a concept or a virtue related to the product or the brand. But advertising has also the option to work (re)creating stories that are popular from another point of view, using what the public will recognize from the original story in a way that would help make their point.

There are endless examples of this resort, and here is a good one: the 2006 campaign of VW with the bunnies recreating well known films in just 60 seconds.

VW - Alien



Take a look to the some of the other movies from this campaign, like Jaws, The Shining, Star Wars, Rocky and Pulp Fiction

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Dec 25, 2007

Do You Believe in... ?

Santa Claus? or in Aliens?

SciFi French fans that may believe in both were greeted by this ad that also can be seen as a social service ad against drinking and driving!



Enjoy more Christmas related ads at Zero-Zed (a.k.a. Advert-Eyes)


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Dec 24, 2007

Merry Happy Something

What can I say? It is that time of the year again, when people play nice even if they are not... when they are capable of killing each other to get THAT present that their kids want without thinking that those others also have families... or they max out their credit cards and get drunk for a religious related holiday...(sigh)

Those that know me also know I am not a big Christmas fan. I am a BIG fan of year's end and I LOVE to welcome a New Year, but I can live without Christmas, what of course instantly makes me "Mrs. Grinch" in the eyes of the entire world (except for a couple of antisocials that may be reading and agreeing with me, what doesn't make me feel very comfortable either).

I can give a long explanation of why I am not fond of this festivity and just so you know it has nothing to do with my childhood memories. I enjoyed Christmas like any other kid.

Now, it would be a good and logical but really looooong explanation, and my guess is that it would be boring (a mix of history and my view on religion and blah blah) so I decided that I rather go with the flow and wish you all... you know... happy something... so here it goes...


video

PS: I couldn't change the background of the card, so in case you are not the Bionic (Wo)man and you can't read the message at the end, its just we (my Ugly Doggy and me) wishing you all a

Happy Weirdmas...
we mean...
a Merry Grinchmas...
(sigh)...just be happy..., ok?

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Take Back my TV

I have seen this type of dump site with my own eyes while I was visiting in Nigeria. It is, for real, an incredible and awful thing to see, that is a common view in Nigeria's capital, Lagos.

Could you imagine something like this in your own city?




We are all part of that and we can do more to avoid it. That is what "Take Back my TV" is about. Read more about it and sign the petition.

Sony just launched the first takeback program for any television company in the US. While the leading computer companies have already established recycling programs, Sony is the only television company to offer a national program for free takeback and recycling to its customers in the US.

You can do something. Join the Take Back campaign to demand responsibility from television manufacturers for their products.

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Dec 21, 2007

The Grinch is Alive, Doing Well, and Lives in China

According to the Odd News from Reuters, "a Chinese city has beaten the Grinch at his own game, banning Christmas trees from shopping malls, restaurants and other public places because they pose a fire hazard, a newspaper reported on Thursday.

Chen Ying, deputy mayor of Zhuhai, a city of 1.3 million people in southern China, said restaurants, malls, grocery stores and other entertainment venues had to remove trees and other 'flammable decorations' immediately.

'Those that fail to rectify the situation will be subject to legal measures like suspension or closure, the Southern Metropolis Daily quoted Chen as saying on Wednesday."

Disclosure: I am Mrs. Grinch by my own merits, not related in any way with Mr. Ying, who is apparently from the oriental branch of the Grinch family.

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Dec 19, 2007

My Very First Keyboard in a Very First Book

Not so long ago, after publishing several postings about keyboards, I had a sudden realization about my apparently obsession with them.

Well, guess what? It seems that my love for them dates from long, long, long ago... as you can see in this old picture that illustrates this posting. Yes, ladies and gentleman, that is me at 2 years old and it seems that I was already enjoying what we can call "my first keyboard".

As always, all this long introduction is to share another piece of news with you...

I am VERY proud to announce the release of Tesoros Familiares - 70's (Family Treasures - the 70's) , a book just released in Argentina that, among others, includes this same picture that you are looking at.

Conceived by photographer Lucila Bodelon and designer Vero García (both friends of the house, as we say in Spanish) the book compiles pictures from the 70's that are a perfect sample of that decade, as it was portrayed by the loving angle of parents or relatives. Therein lies its great appeal: this book is not revisiting those years from the political angle or to showcase the highlights and shadows of that decade. This book carefully rescues a look and feel of our everyday occasions, without the pretensions of the professional photographer but with the warm feelings that make those amateur family pictures so special.

It doesn't matter who are the kids on those pictures. You will find yourself finding 'something' that could make the picture yours: a toy, a car, a design in the clothes.

This book is the first of a series. They are already working in the 80's and the 90's sequel (you can send them your pictures for consideration via email) and they are also open to hear from artists interested in replicating the idea in their own locality.

If you live in Argentina, you can buy it in main bookstores like Jenny or you can buy it directly contacting them via email.

In case you still have any doubts... yes, of course, I am the one that wrote the prologue and that is how this picture with my "first keyboard" ended up there!


Luc and Vero, the authors with the book
(the very first ones out of the printing house)


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Dec 15, 2007

Sharing a Smile

This is not a new video. Has been in YouTube for almost 2 years now. But if you haven't seen it, I bet it will make you smile.




And if anything else, apart from the smile, it also adds to the notion of how almost everything is labeled based on the eye of the beholder. You can find this video under the keywords "Jerk in a Mercedes" or "mean old lady" :))

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Dec 14, 2007

The Argentine Syndrome


Syndrome is defined in the dictionary as: "particular group of symptoms that appear together and characterize a particular disease or disorder (Medicine)". For those who don't speak Spanish, the title that you can see at the top is from a very respected Argentine newspaper (La Nacion) and literally reads: "A survey done in the Capital city reveals that 44% of pacients do not know what type of psychotherapy are receiving".

At first I couldn't believe my eyes, but then I thought "that is SO us, such an Argentine way of seeing things".

For those who have no idea what I am talking about, this is how I think it works.

Argentines (generalizing, of course) are seen by the rest of Latin Americans as arrogant people. With some reasons, let me tell you. The problem is that we are always comparing ourselves with everyone in everything and we do have an inferiority complex. So, when we travel from Latin America and we find that Buenos Aires has in fact a more European look and feel than most of the rest of the cities in the South American continent, we can't help it but gloat. For just a minute or so, we see the glass half full. Just for a minute.

Now, most of the time we compare ourselves with Europe and the US and we just can't stop ourselves of just seeing all that we HAVE NOT. Always the glass half empty. What makes us natural born complainers. Nothing is EVER good enough for us, because we may find that we have something better in Argentina than in Spain but... what we have is not as good as it is in England. Or in the US. Or vice versa.

There lies the root of the problem. We use the WHOLE world to compare us with, so, of course, we are never good enough at anything.

And when the whole world is not enough, we compare ourselves with ... an ideal world. If 44% do not know what type of psychotherapy they are taking that means that 56% DO. What here in the US (where they tend to be the other way around and always see the glass half full) would have been a motive to gloat...

In marketing/advertising we know that to sell something to someone, the image of the product and what the users of that product say about it are very important to its success.

I truly believe that half of the success of the USA is based on its internal marketing. They BELIEVE they are better and nicer and bigger than the rest of the world even when sometimes is not so true, just a good spin of some facts. They can sell the American Dream, because they bought it first. They BELIEVE that living here is the best that can happen to anyone.

I can use the Argentine Syndrome and compare the USA with the rest of the world and find 10000 reasons why that is not entirely true. Canada has less violence. Europe works less hours and has (in average) better health and education access. Latin America, has better family ties and less depression. But it wouldn't matter. Because here in the US, they will always look to what they have that is better than the rest, and they would talk about and sell an image to the world.

They tend to see the glass half full.
We tend to see the glass half empty.


PS: If you are from Argentina and want to see the glass half full, take a peek to what International Living says about living in Argentina or what the NYT says about visiting Argentina.

PS2: Of course this is a generalization. Not ALL Argentines are like that, nor all (north)Americans, I am talking mainstream population.

PS3: See comments. My original said 44 and 66, was fixed, was a horrible typo...!


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Dec 9, 2007

Facebook ( I Told You So!)


VS.

At least once a month someone asks me "Do you have an account in Facebook?". Generally, my answer is a simple "no, you can find me on LinkedIn or in ASW" without further explanation.

Some of my friends that know my interest in almost any online product though, couldn't believe I have not an account there and asked why. My explanation has been always the same: I just don't want to be part of a product that became big by basically betraying the users that made it an interesting product.

Now, believe me, I know my share about repositioning and changing strategies. Sometimes is something that simply can't be avoid. But this wasn't the case. Facebook didn't NEED to open themselves to everyone. They could have grown and become a very interesting product still being a network close to certain group. It is true though that by opening the network, they became bigger, faster, and they obviously decided to betray their user base for their own profit.

Again, don't get me wrong, I have nothing against free enterprise and profits. My thoughts were that considering they have betrayed their user base once, they may do it again. So I didn't have an account at first because I didn't have the 'credentials' needed to get in there when it was a closed network and I decided not to have one when they became an open product, because I felt I couldn't trust the product...

Not so long ago, they came up with their new advertising system and someone at LinkeIn asked:

"Facebook to Turn Users Into Endorsers. Is this a way to 'monetize' the value of friendships? Thoughts, reactions... "

My answer was (sic):

"My first thought (that of course can be totally wrong it wouldn't be the first time) :)) was "how many users may NOT like how this information will be used?" How many professionals in the top tier will stay there and allow to be used that way?

I know I wouldn't like it on a personal level, of course as an advertiser I love it!. But me, Sandra, the person/professional? Why would I be an endorser with their words? I am an endorser of products but but when I want to, with who I want and with my own words.
(...)
Again, as an advertiser, good for them and great for me. As an user..., don't count with me buddy!"

My answer was ranked as "a good answer" but the one selected as "best answer" was:
"This is a fantastic step forward and a giant leap for social network advertising. "

Now, after they step back from Beacon and publicly apologized for this try (that I also see as a major intent of betrayal to a bigger base of users) I have decided to be a bit mean and I will jut say "I told you so!".

PS: (You will still find me in LinkedIn and ASW..., I was also using Plaxo but I may close my account there since their new Pulse is driving me crazy..., but I will leave that for another article)

Want to read more about why you shouldn't trust Facebook? Read this article and this one.

And if you are interested in online social networks and advertising in them, you may also find this article interesting.


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Dec 7, 2007

Santa's Identity

Normally, "the Christmas spirit" gets me on The Grinch' side in two seconds.

You have to hear the same songs for almost a month (even the heavy metal radios seem to have a heavy metal version of Jingle Bells, for Christ's sake!) and you have to spend half of your month thinking in presents and the other half buying those presents.

I don't like shopping at all and I am not religious, therefore, most of the time Christmas just annoys me.

But as with everything else, there are exceptions and creative ads about the Christmas Holiday Season are one of them. I am not talking sappy, joyful, touchy "the-best-season-is-coming" type of ads but the ones more in line with the one below....

Do I feel bad for these kids findings about Santa's identity? No, I don't. This happens to them for being noisy kids.. and for me, anyway...,

THIS is the Christmas spirit!
(just make sure you watch it until the end)


video


Thanks Luc for sending me the ad! (and Happy Christmas for you too, ho ho ho)

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Dec 5, 2007

When the World Is Your Tetris

The project is called Mikontalo Lights and this is the latest video about it, right before the main event, that was yesterday in Finland.

The idea? To transform a building into a giant Tetris, controlled by a mobile phone via Bluetooth. But watch the video. I like how it express some of the 'programmers' idea of fun. Is the type of creation that is more about "can we do it?" than anything else.

What is interesting is that the whole project is also an ad or at least a marketing idea, as they also wanted to do it as a way to focus attention on the (good) level of their University.

As it often happens, I am sure this project started as a fun challenge but that can be seen as useless now, will be the seed for some very useful developments. Congratulations to those finnish students!



Found via -->typo in YouTube :)) See more in their site and their blog.

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Dec 4, 2007

No More Mojiti for You!

No, is not a typo. I am not talking about those refreshing cuban Mojitos but about the site, Mojiti. Apparently it will be closing pretty soon.

My guess is that (as it frequently happens with online projects) they were expecting a larger number of users in a shorter timeframe. Or that they faced unexpected legal problems on their way. But that is just a guess.

The facts are that they have sent an email to their members, stating that "The team is moving on to other online video related projectsand services, so we will be closing the Mojiti services on December 10." .

A pity, as it was an easy way to comment and subtitle videos. Good news is that it never was the only tool for that. So bye bye, farewell, ciao, Mojiti. We will miss you but such is (the online) life!

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Dec 3, 2007

Too Creative About your Work?

How much are you allowed to joke about your job while you are not at work? And how 'public' can you make those jokes? Where is the line that you shouldn't cross to avoid being in trouble?

In the era of bloggers and youtubers, is really difficult to assess if (or when) a joke about your job made public can get you in trouble. Someone that can testify to that is Emma Clarke, one of the official announcers for London's Metro system. According to some versions, she has been fired last November 27th for making spoof messages mocking American tourists, peeping Toms and media employees (some other sources believe she was fired by admitting she doesn't use the Tube at all because she finds it 'dreadful').

In her case the story will probably not have a bad ending because before she was fired few people knew who she was. Today, she's almost a brand just because The London Tube fired her (and by making the news headlines people got curious about her spoof messages and flooded her website). So the London Tube has probably done more for helping Ms. Clarke's career by firing her than anything they have done during the previous years where they have an employer/employee relationship.

Some will say that her spoof messages were not "politically correct". Maybe. On the other hand, my guess is that if you have at least 5 grams of imagination and Emma's job, it is impossible not to have that type of 'messages' crossing your mind everyday. Being a voice over professional with a website, a reel and a blog it takes just 5 minutes to cross the bridge between your mind and the world.

Me, I find them funny. I truly believe that being too serious and too politically correct does not helps creativity. In advertising creativity is about crossing limits. With a strategy behind and with some common sense of course, but still is about going beyond what the public expects. In that sense, the spoof messages became an excellent advertising campaign for Emma and her voice!

You can hear more of Emma's now famous messages here or check out her playful sense of humour @ her blog.

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Creative Italian Animation

If you understand Italian at least a bit and you like good animations, Gordo.it is a website you should visit.

Their work helps to promote organizations like Doctors Without Borders or Greenpeace. They have a range of animations that are just pleasent to watch while at the same time they tackle some important issues of our globalized world.

I like specially their work for the italian version of Doctors Without Borders that has a Nahir, a 5 year old girl as the main character. She reminds me of Mafalda, that other great 6 year old character from Quino that was also used to questioned the world with that naivete that only kids can have (you can see at the end of the post an image of Nahir -in color- vs Mafalda in B&W).

Another sample of their interesting work can be seen as an intro for Pangea, an Italian non profit that helps women in Afganistan by teaching them new skills and by giving them micro loans to start their own business. In this animated intro, the same young woman answers questions about her life after and before Pangea making it pretty clear how her life has changed for good.

Animation is a great tool for advertising in general because people can get over the looks of an actor and focus on the message. Is nice to see it applied to good causes like these ones!


Nahir & Mafalda:
is it me or they could be cousins?

(Thanks Roxana for the lead!)
Roxana-->Pangea--> Gordo.it

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A Search Engine to Watch

The other day reading some of the raw data from my Google Analytics report one unknown domain catched my eye and of course, there I go, to see what this url is about.

It ended up being a search engine, called Hakia, a development still in beta but with great potential if it is done right.

Part of the approach that can make this search engine different is the "components" they are developing, apparently since 2004. Some of them are:

1. The use of Ontological Semantics

2. Semantic Ranks: Hakia's algorithm, that deploys a collection of methods to score and rank paragraphs that are retrieved from the QDEX system for a given query. The process includes query analysis, best sentence analysis, and other pertinent operations; in this operation there is no keyword matching or Boolean algebra involved.

Last but not least their "conversational systems" that allows people doing a search to go directly to a forum made by people that have performed the same search seems an interesting feature to develop further. Something they seem to be doing, as according to the Hakia Team, more ways of "conversation" will be available soon.

A couple of days ago, when I find their site for the first time, they had a tool to compare their results with Google results. Today I couldn't find that link but from what I remember using it, Hakia results took a couple seconds more to appear but they were better results indeed.

So, my take is that is a product to watch and to use periodically, if anything to see how they can improve results (or not).

You can check them our by yourself at Hakia.com (and let me know how you like it or not!)


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