March 26, 2009

12 of 16... all Elite Eight remaining. I may not be winning my pools, yet, but I'm in good shape to get it done this year. I missed on Wake Forest, W. Virginia, Washington, and Marquette (the Brawling Brunette is from MO so that didn't go over well in the ol' apartment). To me, Pitt/Xavier is the most intriguing match up, and while I picked Pitt to win, their first two games don't breed a lot of confidence. Let the fun recommence.

"Give me back that filet o fish
Give me that fish
Give me back that filet of fish
Give me that fish
What if it were hanging up on this wall?
If it were you in that sandwich you wouldn't be laughing at all!
If you haven't fallen under the trance of Frankie the Fish, then you must check out the McDonald's Filet o Fish ad. The ad worked on me, I bought a double filet o fish on Saturday between football games; so good. (NOTE: Stay to the very end of the ad.)

I have a new favorite band of the moment. The group's been around awhile, but they're new to me and that's what matters. Porcupine Tree. The blend of music makes then hard to describe, but trust me, they're a great listen. "Fear of a Blank Planet" has been on continuous play for the last week.

"Lost" has been phenomenal. For every question they answer a new one pops up (and not all the answers are definitive). I love a series that keeps you guessing; hate spoon-fed drivel that treats me like an idiot. Benjamin Linus (the incredible Michael Emerson) continues to be the greatest enigma on TV; and the time traveling is a complete mind (expletive deleted).

A special thanks to a Stephen King column in Entertainment Weekly for introducing me to Robert Goddard. Reading his first novel from 1977, "Part Caring," and can already tell I'm going to like all his works. Complex imagination and his protagonist is flawed, not brilliant, and very human; just like the rest of us. If you like plots that build on the initial foreboding, you will thoroughly enjoy this read.

"He was dead...but he got better." How could you not want to see a movie with that tagline? "Crank: High Voltage" opens April 17th. The original "Crank" lived up to its title and then some (definitely see it even if you're not a Jason Statham fan, which I am, except for "Transporter 3" which neutered the guy). "High Voltage" looks to be just as deranged; cannot wait. And if the movie "State of Play" is even half as good as its trailer, then that should be a decent see, too.

Circle your calendars faithful readers - April 5th. Opening Night for the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies (host the Atlanta Braves). I highly doubt Hamels starts, but Utley looks to be on pace to start and Howard has had an excellent spring training. These are heady days for Phillies fans; I am going to thoroughly enjoy all the moments.

While I still don't think they have a shot at the title, the Sixers have impressed me with their evolving maturity. They had a long, successful west coast road trip, get a day off, and then play a slumping T-wolves team. In the past, guaranteed loss; not with this team. Not trading Andre Miller was the smartest move of the season; Thaddeus Young is growing into the real deal; and Tony DiLeo has probably earned himself a 3-year deal. They could do some damage in the east playoffs.

The Flyers definitely have a shot at the Cup (despite their putrid performance in Detroit). The power play and penalty killing have been excellent all season (too many penalties, though); if they keep the special teams going in the playoffs, I like our chances. Biron didn't buy into the goalie question last month because he knew he'd round into solid form (a .940 save percentage in the last couple weeks); I like him in goal. Timonen and Richards are exactly who you want leading you in the playoffs.

One piece of business - join the throngs who are now part of the Syzygy 3 Newsletter brigade (sign up here). It's a good 10-minute read each month and we focus on the technologies relevant to your business. You won't be bored.

"The first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: Decide what you want." Ben Stein

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March 19, 2009

The bracket is complete (and there is just one). So, without further ado... my Final Four picks:

Midwest - Louisville
West - Connecticut
East - Villanova
South - North Carolina

Final - UConn vs. UNC

Champion - UNC

Last year saw four #1 seeds reach the Final Four (first time in tournament's history); given the balance in the upper echelon of this year's field, I couldn't see that happening again. So, I'm picking just three #1's to make it this year. (CAVEAT - I pick UNC with a great deal of trepidation given Ty Lawson's big toe. But I think they can get through round 1 without him, so he will have plenty of time to get healthier.)

I love the way Louisville plays defense (not so much their offense); UConn has Thabeet, who can turn opponents into one-dimension jump shooters (he's mentally fragile, especially if refs are calling a tight game); Villanova has that spread offense and all five guys can score (experience in big games this year isn't impressive); UNC is the best offensive team in the country, both running and half court (they just don't like to play defense).

It's always crushing to watch your bracket get chipped apart round by round, but that's also the fun. So good luck to you all; may you be the victor in your pools, unless you're in one of mine. We'll chat again in a week. Full bracket in below.

"Though this be madness, yet there is method in 't." Hamlet

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March 19, 2009

OK, before we get to the fun posting of the day (my picks for the NCAA Men's Final Four), I want to issue fellow small- and mid-sized business owners a challenge/pseudo pep talk. The economy stinks; the Feds have done little to repair the damage and stimulate spending; and as this downturn has hit capex and operating budgets, the trickle down impact from the major corporations to the "little guy" has been swift and brutal. All in all, not a good picture.

Which means this is a perfect time to take your shot. Hey, you wouldn't have your own business right now if you didn't have the stomach for risk. Well, you're back to being a start up, except you have more experience to guide you through the tricky waters. Be aggressive. For ourselves, we hired our first sales person (Jason Staiger's LinkedIn profile); we're doing mailings of our marketing materials (which have resulted in two excellent leads); and we're exploring new technologies to expand our offerings. It took a tough economy for us to be more aggressive, but we see this as a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to doing the best for our clients.

This isn't a time to gamble. Each step must be well thought out and in keeping with your core business objectives. If you need outside support to accomplish something, now's a good time to find someone smarter than yourself; if you can afford a sales resource, there are good ones on the market at affordable rates; and don't forgo all marketing efforts - you still have to keep your name out there (see March 5th entry about HARO). There were more millionaires created in America during The Great Depression (as a percentage of the population) than at any other time in our history. So it can be done - and it can be done by you.

"Remember that there is nothing stable in human affairs; therefore avoid undue elation in prosperity, or undue depression in adversity." Socrates

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March 13, 2009

As blogging is not our primary business I tend to make this a once-a-week phenomenon. But in reading a blog posting referencing comments made by Tim Berners-Lee (widely dubbed the father of the Internet, with all apologies to Mr. Gore), it struck me as an appropriate one-off posting.

Click here to read Mr. Berners-Lee's comments.

It still amazes me how many still think of the Internet as an anonymous experience that can be hidden by deleting a browser's history. IT DOESN'T WORK THAT WAY! The Internet is one of the most dangerous environments on the planet. The Internet puts the sheep and wolves in the same pen with limited protections (except after the wolf eats a sheep, and even then, you have to figure out which wolf). I'm not advocating more oversight or restrictions (China does enough for all of us), but I want you dear reader to be mindful of what you do online and how you do it. No one can protect you from yourself, but I want to do my part to protect you from the wolves.

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March 12, 2009

If you're not familiar with terms such as "bubble teams," "automatic bids," "at-large bids," "PRI," "strength of schedule," or "brackets," then under which rock have you been hiding? I am, of course, talking about the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament (aka, the Big Dance). And while the crushing attention usually results in arguments about major college sports, I prefer, for this moment at least, to revel in the joy brought to millions of us by the simple process of filling out the brackets. Let's be honest - the Super Bowl and the Men's tourney are the two sporting events on which people blatantly place illegal bets (I admit to nothing) and no one blinks.

The NCAA's are unique in that they take place over three weeks and there are the ubiquitous brackets strewn over the office, living room, bathroom, street corners. These brackets will be studied more than all the budget-stimulus-rescue-recovery junk that Washington has thrown out the last eight months. By the first Saturday of the tourney, brackets are tear stained by those whose gamble on the 14 seed didn't pay off and whose Cinderella (another common term) 5 seed couldn't make it to the 2nd round, let alone the Final Four. And invariably, the champion of your pool will be someone who couldn't care less and filled out their bracket based on the mascots. Ah, the agony and ecstasy. Enjoy. (I'll post my Final Four and Finals picks next Wednesday.)

One piece of business - Syzygy 3 has its own newsletter now. This is a monthly mailing that will offer an article on relevant technology happenings, technology advice, trivia, and other fun and exciting items that you will not want to miss. Sign up here for all the fun.

"Watchmen" - go watch it. The movie is an admirable re-telling of a truly complex tale (word for word, frame for frame in a number of instances). Laurie comes off as much more of a hero in the movie; SPOILER ALERT! - there is no squid; and I had the same visceral reaction to Ozymandias at the end as I did in the comics. Star of the movie - as he is in the comics - is Rorschach. The absolutism drips off him throughout, and the jail sequences are perfect. The one complaint - SPOILER ALERT! - is how he resolves the girl's kidnapping. The comic version is much more in keeping with the character than the movie. The more I think about it, the more I liked the film; sorry Alan (I also liked "V for Vendetta").

Reading "Watchmen" again. Just as good the 8th time around.

U2's new album is eh. I've listened enough that I should really like it by now, but I don't. I do like Kerli, though. Great sound; she's been burning a hole in my iPod.

As you dear reader know, this forum shies away from highly controversial topics (politics, religion, Britney's Circus tour). That said, I have to promote a new hero of mine when it comes to this economic mess... and he works at CNBC, no less (not a favorite channel of mine). Dennis Kneale makes a lot of sense and is practical in the application of his senses. This article alone makes reading him worthwhile.

Also realized that in all this time we've spent together that I have never promoted one of my favorite shows on the tube... Diners, Drive-ins and Dives is so good that the Brawling Brunette and I plan to travel based on the places on the show we've liked best (seems Salt Lake City has an inordinate number of good places). Guy Fieri also knows his stuff, so he makes it fun and interesting to watch.

That's it for me... for now. Cheers.

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March 05, 2009

Technology is a series of acronyms: IP, DHCP, DNS, LAN, WLAN, and on and on and on (The Battling Brunette tells us we don't speak English when she visits the office; on a side note, all my best to speedy recovery, Dr. Z [Sports Illustrated football writer].). Well, I want introduce an acronym that is for everyone - HARO.

Help A Reporter Out (HARO) was started by Peter Shankman, a PR maven and serial entrepreneur (always wonder when guys like him sleep). It's a free service that allows reporters to request "expert" assistance with articles, segments (TV, radio, Podcast, etc.), and other news/feature endeavors. The experts in question are you and me. We are all experts in some area - and there just might be a reporter out there who wants to quote your expertise in a piece.

This is my non-tech assistance to all you loyal readers out there. Visit the HARO site to add your expertise to the list. Respond only to inquiries that meet your knowledge (your rep gets around quickly); be courteous to the reporter (and wary of how your words will be used); and be sure to spread the word when you're part of an article (point is to get the publicity). Syzygy 3 has benefited from HARO (and other services) - check out our News Page.

And in the inimitable words of Lily Tomlin:
"Ninety-eight percent of the adults in this country are decent, hard-working, honest Americans. It's the other lousy two percent that get all the publicity. But then--we elected them."

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