Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hoping that Twitter figures out a creative way for blocking spammers

If you are friendless and want to find them in all the wrong places, consider setting up a Twitter site. As someone who consults on this social media tool, I am amazed as the number of pornbots and multi-level, networking opportunities that pop up every morning on Twitter sites.

I wish there was a way for the folks at Twitter to set up an Internet protocol blocking protocol for those who break these basic rules:

1) Do not offer to show me pictures of yourself even with the line that you're working your way through medical school.

2) If I friend you, please don't send me a direct message to sell me your latest toilet water saving product. (Note: I was interested in water conservation as my wife teaches environmental science.)

So, how can novices or as Twitter people term "newbs" screen out these people? I check out a person's last 20 tweets, Those would be doctors working their way by showing off body parts typically only have one or two word tweets such as "martini." As for those aggressive sales professionals, if every tweet has the phrase "check this out" or "you won't believe this," then it's a good sign that you should block them right away.

Still, I wish there was a way for Twitter to note the IP address of those spammers and block them from their site for a week for a first-time offense. I'm curious too what you might think of ways to block spammers on Twitter so please feel free to share them.

Tags: pornbots, spam, twitter

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Fighting unemployment requires the conviction to get help from others

As the publicist for the company that has created one of the better job customer resource management software programs, a quote in an article from yesterday's Wall Street Journal got me thinking on why a lot of people my age are fighting unemployment.

"It's not part of people's nature to take advantage unless there is someone pushing them," the Wall Street Journal quoted John Kruecher of Human Resources Development, a Michigan job placement firm about why so many people are quitting their job search in a state with 15.2 unemployment. "There is just so much inertia built in. It's easier to sit home rather than go out and pull things together for themselves. They need mentoring, and [the mentors] can't be bureaucrats."

To this, I say "amen."

The world has changed.

It's hard for some people to remain unemployed after losing high paying jobs, but the reality is that people have to retool themselves. Today, things are much better after completing that degree in marketing almost five years ago at UTSA. While in college, I had mentors. Today, I have even more people who help me. And when others need me to mentor them, I am more than glad to help them.

As my friend, Brian Massey wrote in the tome "The Market For Me -- Surviving Job Loss and Building Your Lifetime Career Network," most workers are "job seekers." They'll take anything to put food on the table.

Now, Americans need to rethink this strategy, he argues. They need to position themselves as skill holders. Massey argues these are people with skill sets that have value in the market place. They understand their value statement in even toughest of times.

Still, to be effective, skill holders need a job champion. In my view, that's the person who helps a person get the inside track to those unpublished jobs. And, if a job is published on a search site, they can help the skill holder get the attention of those hiring for a position.

For those of you facing unemployment, here's hoping that you can change your attitude towards your skill set. When needed, there are job retraining opportunity available as well as the mentors to help you understand the best path to success in a new career.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

If I was at today's #bmpr meeting, here's what I would have asked Priest Holmes today

With Priest Holmes scheduled to speak at today's #BMPR meeting at the Holiday Inn Airport today, I was looking forward to hear him speak on how he uses social media tools. Sadly, business commitments in Austin will make me miss his talk today.
Still, I would love to know what Priest thinks about the following topics:
1) Which sports stars are you following on Twitter?
2) Who among the more popular Twitter sports users is actually composing tweets of substance?

The beauty of social media is that I can follow the talk today with the #bmpr hash tag while I am in Austin. I can count on the 100 or so loyal participants in today's luncheon to tweet their impressions by following it on Twitter. Still, I am sorry that I will have to miss today's program.

Monday, September 21, 2009

City of San Antonio should change its Alamo Bowl infomercial

If you heard screams of joy from north San Antonio yesterday morning, it was me.
I was watching an interview with Julian Castro and KENS 5 when I heard our mayor say he was pursuing ways to make San Antonio more nationally visible.
I should have been writing down his comments, but let me paraphrase what I heard yesterday. "I want to make San Antonio more nationally visible and make it a place where people want to relocate their businesses," is what I heard him say to the interviewer.
For years, San Antonio has built its reputation as a tourism destination. When the Alamo Bowl is played, our city gets a two-minute informercial during the halftime. For year, the city shows its tourist attractions from the golf courses to the River Walk. Meanwhile, when the Citrus Bowl is aired, the city of Orlando also shows some of its leading businesses during its halftime commercial.
So, Mayor Castro, if you are serious about showcasing our city's business opportunities, take a simple look at adding some shots of our city's businesses during those infomercials typically shown during the Alamo Bowl and next year's Texas Open. While we should continue to take pride in our tourist attractions, it's important as well for our city to look at new views to showcase that we have a lot to offer to new businesses.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My birthday wish for the world......

Today is Constitution Day. It's also my 50-something birthday.
As a kid, I would look forward to this day because it brought presents and gifts.
Today, it's not about the gifts, but it's about the wishes.
I am sure that most of you remember a parent or a grandmother telling you to make a wish when you blew out the candles on your cake.
So, as I woke up I began to think about this year's wish.
I could ask for a repeat of a previous wish -- the continued emphasis by San Antonio professionals to foster the growth of technology. Despite the lack of leadership in some city sanctioned areas, I got my wish. Thanks to a lot of people, we have organizations like "Business, Media, Public Relations" who truly foster the growth of technology in our city.
So, I am not going to waste my precious, birthday wish on this again.
Instead, I am going to ask today when I blow out my candle that we Americans continue the trend towards erasing prejudice. As someone who grew up in the 60s, I remember how some of my classmates would make snide remarks about people who were different than them. My mother, an educator, made me realize at an early age how my Great, Great Grandfather Hagen enlisted in the Union Army while living in New Orleans because he was opposed to slavery.
A 20-year tour in the Air Force continued my beliefs that it was not the color of a person's skin, his or her heritage and religious practices that made them unique. It was their character that truly mattered.
So, when I blow out my candle, I hope that today's generation continue to judge people not by their race, creed, ethnicity, religion or gender but instead on what they do with their lives.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Congrats to Madison Coach Jim Streety on his 300 victory

When I was reading my Sunday sports page, I am glad that my local newspaper featured Madison coach Jim Streety on its cover after he won his 300th game.
Streety's legacy is not as a coach but as an educator. Ironically, some high school football fans overlook the educational aspect of the game which we Texans (and adopted Texicans) refer to as "Friday Night Lights."
Yet, only one in 40 high school players will play in college. So, the question arises: "What will the other 39 do after they play their last down?"
And that's where Streety's impact will truly be measured. His former football players have been coaches, business professionals and successful in their lives.
My wife is on the Madison faculty with Coach Streety. She's been there long enough that she is now teaching the grandchildren of some of her former students. Her legacy is similar to Streety in that she helped mentor students who have become doctors, scientists and also teachers.
So, it's great that the newspaper recognized Coach Streety for his 300th victory. Yet, while the focus is on the number of victories on the field, high school fans should also revel in the fact that someone like Streety is helping build leaders and winners in other aspects of their lives after they graduate from high school.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Austin Innotech looking for tech startups to participate in Beta Summit

Tech startups who want to showcase their ideas and prototypes can apply to become part of the Austin Innotech Beta Summit, Oct. 29 at
the Austin Convention Center.
"This is a great opportunity for small businesses in the tech sector to get the input of the Austin investor community as well as the help
of other entrepreneurs who have built a company from a great idea," said Bryan Menell, a managing director of the Capital Factory.
Sean Lowery, the president of Prospera Events and the executive director of the Austin Innotech, said a group of leading tech
advocates will review the application for each entry. Six firms will be named finalists and will be given a six to eight-minute time slot
to present their idea or concept to about 100 or more entrepreneurs, venture capital funding specialists and technology firm executives.
Menell added this is the third consecutive year that the Austin tech community has conducted and held this competition with the annual
technical trade show.
Interested companies should contact Menell via email at bmenell@gmail.com or Sean Lowery, the event director at 503-570-6295. Info: www.innotechconference.com/austin.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

When it comes to 'these kids," it's time for every adult to help

I've gained a lot of valuable insight from these visits, but one I'll always remember is my trip to Dodge Elementary School in my hometown of Chicago. I was talking to one of the young teachers there about the challenges they faced, and she mentioned what she called the "These Kids Syndrome" - the willingness of society to find a million excuses for why "these kids" can't learn. It's the idea that "these kids come from tough backgrounds" or that "these kids are too far behind." And after awhile, "these kids" become somebody else's problem.
Then she said to me, "When I hear that term, it drives me nuts. They're not 'these kids.' They're our kids."

Barack Obama

As Barack Obama is scheduled to speak Tuesday to public school students everywhere, I am amazed at how conservative politicians have made this a hot topic.
Please note I am not a big Obama supporter, especially with his bank bailout program. However, his efforts to speak to our public school students this week is not one that should infuriate those politically opposed to his fiscal agenda.
We Americans should collectively look at the state of our education, not in the context of the quality of education our students are getting today, but what are we doing to help our future leaders understand the demands of the job market.
I am amazed at the many adults who don't speak to their children, their relatives and others who are in school about what is needed for them to get a job that pays well.
As a volunteer, I mentor one 19-year-old who will soon get his release from a Texas Youth Commission halfway house. This young man wants to work on cars, but he doesn't know that to get certified as an auto mechanic that he needs more education after completing his high school degree.
Just this week, I met a waitress who needed two classes to complete her accounting degree at the University of Texas at San Antonio. She realized that she wanted to work as a graphic designer in her father's business, and she didn't see how having an accounting degree could help. Having a business degree could only help her father manage the business, I told her.
Americans, especially those who have many years of business, government or educational experience, need to help mentor "these kids." It's up to us to guide not only our immediate family - our children, relatives and friends about career aspirations but to reach out to others who need a sounding board and some good advice. In short, we need to become "job champions" for them and to help guide them on the types of college or technical courses that help them achieve their goals.
Instead of criticizing Obama for taking the initiative to encourage our future generation to buckle done, study hard and make something of themselves, America's conservative faction should instead agree with him and spend their time not criticizing him in public for this insightful speech but instead help "these kids" find the career path that will make them productive, happy and successful.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

MIA at a PTSD conference -- effective public affairs counsel

An Austin client of mine was at a Rackspace sales symposium yesterday at the new Hyatt Grand Hotel, so I spent some time with him and then working remotely before going to a funeral for a friend's mother. As I was working on some business after our meeting, I noticed an influx of Air Force people in uniforms. I quickly found out that they were mental health professionals from various U.S. bases to discuss the ongoing treatment of posttraumatic stress disorders.

From talking on one Air Force master sergeant, PSTD is a growing concern in the Air Force with our continued involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. I asked him if there was a public affairs aspect to this conference, and he admitted that there wasn't one.

The inquisitive side of me found an Air Force lieutenant colonel who knew who the public affairs officer was for her command, but she also admitted that he wasn't there. A flag officer or two was on the program, she said, but there was nobody from the public affairs team to help discuss ways to take advantage of their many communications tools.

From what I read in the paper (when I have time to really read them,) there has been a lot written on the topic and the need for intervention for those who are suffering from PTSD. Yet, it's amazing how the Air Force mental health community overlooks the need to use some basic public affairs tools. From writing an article for the base newspaper to working with local media on outreach programs, the uniformed and civilian mental health professionals could reach the centers of influence in their base communities. A military public affairs professional could have helped the mental health community here in San Antonio develop a strategy on communicating the availability of the military, civilian and VA resources available to Afghan and Iraqi veterans suffering from PSTD and traumatic brain injury.

Having worked in public affairs at Wilford Hall before retiring in 1997, I know that some medical types don't understand how public affairs helps them communicate to their client base. Some tried to over manage the communications process by writing things for an article in the hospital newsletter that would impress a thesis committee but would confuse the spouse of a first term airman. Despite our communications styles, every mental health team should now be looking at the many tools available to them from their military public affairs programs so they can communicate the full capabilities of their program to the military, their spouses, their families and their loved ones.

The Air Force spent thousands of dollars on travel, per diem and missed appointments to discuss the issue for this conference. Yet, in the midst of all this strategy formulation, it seems somewhat ironic that their commanders and planning types could forget the need to have professional public affair representation work on helping them reach out to those suffering from PTSD. Here's hoping that if there is another conference on this topic that the mental health community doesn't overlook the need to involve their public affairs professionals as part of their outreach strategy.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Dear Sprint, please add an extra tower in my neighborhood to deal with all the extra texting in my 'hood

So I am sitting at home, working in my home office and using my Sprint PCS phone to make some calls. In the last three hours, I have been kicked off by my wireless provider at about the same time as when the 800 or so students at Lopez Middle School bombard the network with their texting to each other.

I could write another letter to the folks at Sprint, but I have already gone down that route and had to deal with a snarky customer service person last year when I had similar issues.

So, here's why I am reblogging about this topic. Maybe, the folks at Sprint customer service will read this one, or maybe after four or five of us who have similar issues retweet it and perpetuate the issue through social media channels, someone from this wireless carrier will fix the problem.

When I talked to the reps at Sprint last year at their 1604 and Blanco store, they were very nice and somewhat helpful. Then, I got this engineer who didn't want to believe that I was having phone problems. I realized then that Sprint wasn't going to address the issue then, and so I am going to blog about it again in the hopes that someone from customer service reads this and fixes the issue. As a professional public relations person, I want to hear from someone who can give me an estimate on when Sprint is going to put a new tower in the Stone Oak area.

So, for the purpose of documenting the issue for them, here goes:

1) 9:01: Talking to a possible vendor on how she could help me with a project in Detroit and we were wrapping up the call when I got dropped. It's obviously the end of first or second period at Lopez Middle School.

2) 10:01: I'm dealing with another client as he posts his first blog on MySA (yeah!!) when third period at the local school hits. The call is dropped. My client laughs when I call him back as I tell him that the electronic jammers at the local school are in full force.

3) 10:45: My remote admin diva calls me. We're talking about accounting stuff when fourth period hits. You guess it. The phone call was dropped.

I don't have this problem when I go down to my favorite coffee shop, La Taza. It's only when I am at home that I have the issue of dropped calls.

So, here's what I am asking people who read this blog:

1) Is there a way that I can call my customers with the number engraved on my business cards and use an alternative phone?
2) Are you a fellow Sprint customer who lives and works out of their Stone Oak home with similar issues?
3) Is there any way that I can get out of my contract with Sprint for non-performance? I mean three dropped calls in one morning is a little excessive, doncha think?

Please feel free to share your comments and thoughts on how we Stone Oak small business types who work remotely can address the issue.