Tuesday, December 09, 2008

3G and fiber-optic TV Come to Portsmouth!

1 if by by Air

One of the more compelling arguments against the new 3G iPhone was that there is no 3G network to speak of in New Hampshire. But that has changed recently, with the stealthy roll-out of 3G throughout the state and up the I-95 corridor into Maine. Late last month, Granite Staters began buzzing on MacRumors.com forums about the 3G bars they were seeing on their iPhones. On the 24th, a poster reported strong 3G signal in Portsmouth and Rye, and according to a post as of today, Concord and Manchester are apparently live now, as well. While the AT&T plan remains obnoxiously expensive, the advent of the speedier 3G network might make for a few more iPhones under the tree this season.

2 if by Land

Meanwhile, on the landline side of things, I came across this tasty little tidbit on Engadget the other day about Verizon's... OK, OK, FairPoint's... plans to roll-out TV service on their fiber network. In the past couple years, Verizon strung fiber-optics in limited areas in Portsmouth, happily including my neighborhood in Atlantic Heights. We signed up for the FiOS right away and have enjoyed fast, reliable fiber-optic Internet service: I just pulled 2.25 Mbps on CNet's broadband speed tester, for which I'm paying $44.99/mo. (Note: This is a negotiated/grandfathered rate. Your results may vary.)

Although the billing has been a nightmare since the FairPoint deal, the Internet speed is great and I'm generally a satisfied customer. But this news about the FTTH (Fiber to the Home) -- or IPTV as it's also known -- pilot program has me potentially moving from a satisfied to a happy customer. Although I knew the phone company could compete with Comcast on TV service with its fiber network, I expected they would concentrate on Boston or maybe the larger NH cities; then, after the FairPoint deal, I figured that pipe dream had gone up in smoke. But apparently, Portsmouth is where its at, as this is the only place FairPoint is doing the pilot. As you may recall, I'm a not-so-happy DirecTV customer, and let's face it, Comcast is no great shakes either, so I'm all for a 3rd option, and this might be it. And a free HDTV? Sign me up!

Update: I've e-mailed my application to FairPoint and they have responded with the generic "thank you for your interest" reply. I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Signs o' the Times

Drive down Woodbury Ave. these days and you'll get an eyeful of exactly what we're up against in these tough economic times: Sign after sign, being propped up by bored and cold people, advertising various going-out-of-business sales. For the record, they include:

Tweeter, Etc.
Whitehall Jewelers
Linens-n-Things
Kline's Furniture

BTW, Circuit City is closing lots of stores, but none in NH, so the Woodbury Ave location is safe for its loyal shoppers (like me) for now.

OTOH, according to this CNN/CareerBuilder study, we are in 16th best place in the country if you're looking to get -- or hold onto -- your job. They report:
Jobless rates were higher in 338 of the 369 U.S. metropolitan areas surveyed this July, which means 92 percent of cities have seen an increase in their unemployment rates. [...] Despite these startling figures, there are several cities with low unemployment rates and sizeable job growth.

16. Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Unemployment rate: 3.3 percent

Last year: 3.1 percent

Job growth: 2.8 percent

Hmmm... I wonder how many of these sign-holders are/were already employed by these companies? Or are these are these new jobs being created?

"Wanted: Sign Holders. Work outdoors! Plenty of fresh air! Must be able to stand in one place for inordinately long periods of time. Waving experience a plus."

Monday, November 10, 2008

eCoast Wi-Fi Expansion Makes News

After being front-page news in the Portsmouth Herald, news of the $345k donation of wi-fi equipment from Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO) to our Portsmouth wi-fi network has proliferated.

NHPR reported on the radio that day. NH Business Review notes our expansion plans "In Brief" in the current issue.

Esme Vos at MuniWireless and Glenn Flieschman's WiFiNetworkingNews have both picked up the story. (Muni with prodding; WiFiNet without.)

Tom Long gave us a nod in the Sunday Globe North, making us Portsmouth's story of the week. And Mass High Tech covered it with a quote from yours truly; check it out here. (BTW, great to see Ef at the eBrew last week!)

Meanwhile, David Brooks reports here in the Nashua Telegraph about the effects of weather on municipal wireless, noting that our Portsmouth network used to shut down for the winter due to lack of use. For the record, that was only one of the reasons we shut it for the winter. Now, the access point is in a secure and heated indoor location (the kiosk, albeit cute, is unheated) and as such, we will be up for a second winter this year. I would note that although laptop-tappers and latte-sippers won't be out in Market Square in December -- indeed, all the outdoor seating will be put away for the season -- users will be able access the network from their Blackberries, iPod Touches, and other portable wi-fi devices. A cold and hungry shopper walking the sidewalks might well use the service to locate a restaurant, find lodging, look up a phone number, compare prices, etc. I believe we're only just beginning to see the implications of ubiquitous free public wi-fi. And yes, the signal pushes into Breaking New Grounds, making the window seats that much more desirable for your business meeting, so get there early and stake out your spot!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Happy 20th IOL / eCoast Wi-Fi Update

Back on the 8th, I saw in the UNHToday e-newsletter that the UNH InterOperability Lab -- known commonly in the industry as IOL for short -- is celebrating its 20th year of existence. Here's the press release. The IOL is a real feather in the cap, not only for UNH but the eCoast region and the entire state. IOL is the undisputed leader in interop testing and is internationally renown with good reason. As they note:

"If you ever use the Internet, check email, chat, play games online, or print from a networked device, then you have a used a product or service that has been tested and improved at the UNH InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL). UNH-IOL is one-of-a-kind: a hybrid industry and academic technology and testing lab that offers students paid training in leading-edge and popular technologies."

I've had the pleasure to know many folks from IOL over the years, and to work with them as partners in our eCoast Wi-Fi Project. Speaking of which, if you've been wondering what's going on with it these days, it's front-page news today! Thanks to Marisa for the heads up, and to Adam Leech for continuing to cover the story as the project evolves.

Check out the map of the coverage area! Not too shabby, eh?

Friday, September 19, 2008

eCoast loses one of its own; R.I.P. Jeff Beauregard

Sad news to report today. Jeff Beauregard, a Portsmouth technology sales executive and well-known face around town, took his own life Tuesday night. The obituary ran in today's paper. He was most recently with GreenPages; here's Jeff's LinkedIn profile. Condolences are pouring in on his MySpace and Facebook pages, as well as his online guestbook. He was just 28 years old.

I knew Jeff through my girlfriend when she worked with him at DesktopStandard, a Portsmouth shop that was bought by Microsoft a couple years ago. I didn't know him very well, but we hung out a few times after work at the local watering holes. I'll never forget how he had my back in a near altercation at Poco's one night. He was just a real, solid, stand-up kind of guy... Very outgoing, gregarious, funny... Which makes this so hard to understand.

I won't be able to attend his event tomorrow at RedHook so this is my memorial to him. R.I.P. Jeff. I hope you found the peace you were missing in life.

Meanwhile, I was reminded that I had just seen this in the paper a few days ago:

Thursday, September 11, 2008
PORTSMOUTH — Support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention by participating in the Portsmouth Out of the Darkness Community Walk on September 27th in Portsmouth's Peirce Island. Proceeds will benefit local and national suicide prevention and awareness programs. Registration will be held at Peirce Island near the Portsmouth Outdoor Pool at 9:00 am The walk will begin promptly at 10:00 am. To register, donate or to learn more, please log on to www.outofthedarkness.org.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Deal Flow? Deal Slow.

Flipping through the new issue of Mass High Tech, my eye is always grabbed by any reference to New Hampshire, because, let's face it, it's an infrequent occurrence. This week, MHT correspondent Christopher Calnan covers the dismal state of business investment overall, and focusses on some initiatives here in the Granite State hoping to ameliorate the situation.

In his piece, "N.H. Angels Respond as Deals Slow," you can learn about the growing number of angel investment groups in NH. I find it interesting to see that the SBDC is getting more involved in funding -- good idea, as they have first-hand knowledge of and access to the best small startup opportunities.

Note: eCoast Angels were not quoted in the story but are mentioned in the sidebar of the dead-tree version. And somehow, inexplicably, old pal Jeff Sohl was not quoted, although his Center for Venture Research was mentioned.

In a related editorial "NH, Maine Get Lost in Hub's Glare," the MHT editors opine: Perhaps the time has come for state funding agencies — and the angel investors working behind the scenes — to come together across state borders for the regional good. You mean, like this? At the very least, that network might be a good place to start the conversation.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Fast is as Fast Does

OK, maybe they're not quite as fast as an Olympic sprinter named Bolt, but congratulations to my friends and colleagues at Single Digits - they've been named to the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing private companies! The company is ranked 215th in the country, showing four-year revenue growth of 1,176.4% from 2003 through 2007. Way to go Steve, Bob, and the rest of the SD team!

Other NH companies of note that will appear in the September issue of Inc. include SilverTech, NitroSecurity, Ektron, and eCoast Sales Solutions. If you can't wait for the magazine, The Union Leader has the whole scoop here.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Buy Local, Cruise Local

Kudos to SeacoastLocal, Portsmouth's BuyLocal group, for organizing a business networking cruise onboard the MV Thomas Laighton. Personally, I'm excited about it, because it fills the gaping gap created by the demise of the eCruise, which had been the can't-miss local networking event so far this century... until the Chamber effectively abandoned it this year. (Although a quick check of the eCoast section of their web site shows they still plan to have eBrews starting next month. Hmm...) Anyway, this new free event is an opportunity for owners of locally owned, independent businesses to celebrate a successful first year of SeacoastLocal.

SeacoastLocal's mission is laudable, and the main sponsors are two of my favorite local businesses: River Run Bookstore and Piscataqua Savings Bank. Piscataqua, BTW, has a great new web site, as of like 2 days ago, designed by an under-the-radar local development firm called Lightfin Studios.

Event Scoop: Tuesday, Aug. 19, 6-8:30PM. (Boat leaves @ 6:25PM sharp.) More event details here. RSVP before tomorrow, Aug. 12, to Mollie Mulligan at SeacoastLocal@gmail.com
with your name, the name of your company and number of years in business on the Seacoast. If you're local, you should check it out.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

PortsTube

I thought this was a really neat piece of local reporting on the use of technology in our home town, well deserving of a link and some props: Spotlight cover story: Portsmouth on YouTube; City and Seacoast presented to the world in variety of videos by Amanda Hamilton. It's a beginner's intro to YouTube, but it also highlights some interesting and unique uses for the site, from selling homes to keeping in touch with your family after a divorce. The article then links to 5 cool videos that I wouldn't have seen otherwise. Ironically, I first read the article in print, which made click-throughs a little difficult. But for you, since you're online already, here's the links!

Free Hugs in Portsmouth

Scuba Diving at the Isles of Shoals

2007 Portsmouth Fireworks

Water Slides at Water Country

(Shark) Fishing in Portsmouth

Dancin' in the Streets

And here's a bonus for you, my loyal readers... Our own YouTube video sensation: Herbert the Wonder Turtle! My girlfriend found this tiny newborn snapping turtle in a parking lot last year and we nursed him back to health and adopted him. This is his Internet video debut... Yet another use for this wonderful $1.65 billion technology!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Nashua Wi-Fi on NECN



Good piece here on NECN by Lauren Collins on the Nashua Wi-Fi launch last week. I like how she uses my favorite term "dowsing for signal!" From a muni wi-fi admin perspective, I like the idea of making the users go pick up a password in the local shops, but as a user, I'd find it at least mildly annoying. (I was in the Portsmouth library last week and was frustrated to realize that after I had gotten myself comfortable upstairs with my book and my laptop, the network log-in screen told me to back downstairs to the front desk for the password.) Also, I really dig the street signs in Nashua. Note to self: We need those here in Portsmouth.

Finally, it's very refreshing to see the media cover a wi-fi installation with a positive or neutral bias on its own merits, instead of bringing up old nay-saying arguments or invoking the demise of Earthlink.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Nashua Wi-Fi Up

As noted below, the much-anticipated launch of Nashua's wi-fi has been well, much anticipated, due to various delays. My follow-up inquiry to the Telegraph Weds night about the project status was met a front-page story the next morning: Downtown Wi-Fi up and running, sort of. I love the article and the comments below it -- all the same old tired arguments! I'm sure one easily predict the reactions in every place that tries to put wi-fi in their downtowns, because they're always the same. What's more, they seem to break along political lines, with Republicans typically arguing ("infringing free markets," "wasting tax dollars," etc.), despite the evidence that wi-fi is an effective economic development tool for small businesses, and despite the fact that the US is far behind in broadband deployment. Anyway, good luck to the Nashua Chamber and its partners in this; we'll be watching and rooting for you from Portsmouth.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Portsmouth's Got Buzz

As I noted in my 15 Seconds of Fame post, our fair city has been getting more than its fair share of attention lately. You could say Portsmouth's got buzz.

Now, Outside Magazine has ranked us the #4 city in the country. NECN sent a reporter to check us out and somehow the poor thing didn't get to Annabelle's for ice cream. Let's go to the video:


Meanwhile, Newsday tagged us as well worth the 5-hour drive from Long Island. They even gave us props for our free wireless Internet. (Thanks for noticing!)

We might even qualify for the full 15 minutes if this keeps up!

Friday, July 04, 2008

3rd of July Fireworks Delayed...


...Til the 5th of July!

During the eBrew last night, I was online adding people to my eCoast Facebook group when I received this e-mail:

The City of Portsmouth Community Newsletter SPECIAL REPORT July 3, 2008

FIREWORKS POSTPONED
The City’s annual fireworks display scheduled tonight (Thursday, July 3) has been
postponed until Saturday (July 5) at 9:15 p.m.

Due to the rescheduled fireworks display, the Dog Park will be closed from 6 a.m.
Saturday until 10 a.m. Sunday. The tennis and basketball courts, playground and
baseball areas will close by noon Saturday. The High-Hanover Parking Garage will
charge a flat $3 fee from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday. For more information, see
www.CityofPortsmouth.com.

So, yep, anything to avoid the unacceptable ignominy of celebrating the 4th of July on, you know, the 4th!

Anyway, Happy 232nd Birthday America.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Concert for a Cure

Congrats to old pal Katie Paine on another successful iteration of Concert for a Cure, the annual cancer awareness concert at RedHook Brewery held this past Saturday. The event garnered big coverage in both local dailies: Herald and Fosters. Unfortunately, the old saw of "any publicity is good publicity, just as long as they spell my name right" doesn't apply to the Foster's piece.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Portsmouth's 15 Seconds of Fame

A friend told me a few weeks ago that Samantha Brown from the Travel Channel was in town recently filming for an upcoming segment that would include Portsmouth. Allergic to flying as I am, I'm not a big Travel Channel viewer, and I was afraid I'd miss it. But then there's this Internet thing; a Facebook buddy posted a link for it today.

Here's the video. Portsmouth gets mentioned at 2:09 in and goes to 2:40. (So it's 31 seconds, not 15. But in my title I wanted to play off the Andy Warhol thing, math be damned!)



Obviously this is picking up off the Distinctive Destinations designation Portsmouth received a while back. It also doesn't hurt that Samantha has roots here in NH.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Impeachment on the House Floor but not the Front Page

As a PR practitioner for nearly a decade, and as a voracious news hound my whole life (somewhere there's a picture of me reading the newspaper at age 7), I'm constantly fascinated by what makes the news and what doesn't. Today, I'm less fascinated and more saddened.

Last night, one congressman stood on the mostly-empty floor of the House of Representatives and read aloud 35 articles of impeachment of George W. Bush. He read for something on the order of 3 hours, pausing only to take an occasional sip of water as his words echoed and hung in the chamber. Taken in total, the articles are well-reasoned, detailed, annotated, and devastating.

And yet, the next morning, one must dig and dig hard to find any media coverage of the story online. The AP and Reuters broke the story as it happened, but then a funny thing happened, or didn't happen. The story failed to propagate.

These articles are a scathing indictment of a sitting president, highlighting the hubris and the incompetence that has pockmarked the past 7 years. From ignoring Richard Clarke's warnings of the impending 9/11 attacks, to grossly overstating Iraq's threat of WMDs, to awarding back-room billion-dollar no-bid contracts to Halliburton and Blackwater to operate above the law, to bungling the Hurricane Katrina response, to documented voter fraud and disenfranchisement, to firing US Attorneys for political reasons (and covering it up with "executive privilege"), to outing a covert CIA agent for political reasons (and covering it up with "executive privilege"), to the endorsement of torture and holding prisoners against the Geneva Convention and international law, to the systematic unconstitutional spying on Americans' phone calls and e-mails in ways that would make McCarthy blush, these articles of impeachment were ticked off eloquently and simply.
*Nota bene: None of the above is to say Mr. Bush is guilty of anything. He's innocent until proven guilty, of course. If guilty of any one of the 35 accusations, the president could be impeached. But to determine guilt, Congress must investigate, which is what the impeachment articles are asking to do. And to those who say Congress has "better things to do," I say what could be more important than maintaining the balance of powers our Founding Fathers held so dear and upholding the laws of the United States Constitution?
But regardless of the merits of the impeachment articles or of Mr. Bush's guilt or innocence, I am more concerned about the media's lack of response to them. If standing on the floor of Congress and calling for the removal of a sitting president doesn't rate as front page news -- and to most of the mainstream media outlets, it doesn't rate as any kind of news -- it makes one wonder. If they were baseless claims made in a reckless manner, would that constitute news? If they alleged sordid sexual dalliances of elected officials, would that constitute news? If they were delivered by someone taller or better looking, would that constitute news?

If the articles of impeachment were a vinyl LP record, the 35 tunes would read like the back of "Bush's Greatest Hits." Taken individually, each of these songs received tons of airplay. So why isn't the compilation album racing up the charts with a bullet? Because it's "old news?" Not with last week's Senate Intelligence Committee Report being issued, or with former White House Spokesperson Scott McClellan's book being released. In fact, at the same time the impeachment articles were presented, it was reported that McClellan will appear before the House Judiciary Committee to answer questions about the Valerie Plame case. So current, relevant news hooks certainly do exist.

Obviously, the media is betting on this being a "non-story," i.e., insofar as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says impeachment is "off the table," the proceedings won't proceed. But polls like this one show that the public is in favor of impeachment proceedings.

As I wrote this, a blog was just posted on USAToday that links to the PDF of the impeachment document, so now you can read it for yourself. But USAToday -- the newspaper and the "official" web site -- continues to offer no coverage of this historic event. Turn on the TV, and it's not even an item in the news crawler on CNN.

So what can we do about it?

1. Blog it. Buzz it up on Yahoo. Digg it. Share it on Facebook. Rate it up on YouTube. If the mainstream media won't report the news, then use our social media networks to spread the word.

2. Support independent and alternative media outlets by advertising and subscribing. Here in Portsmouth we've got the Wire and the grand-daddy of them all, the NH Gazette. (You know this will be front page news for their next issue!)

3. And while most of us don't feel comfortable calling our congresspersons, why not try your local paper. Ask them directly to cover the stories you feel are important.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Hubba-hubba!


Only $199?!

3G and Wi-Fi?!

Pant, pant, pant!

Drool, drool, drool!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Nashua Wi-Fi Up July 4?

Very interesting, in-depth, and somewhat contentious article in the Nashua Telegraph here on Nashua's troubles getting its wi-fi project up and running. There's some good old-fashioned finger-pointing going on, since the launch has been delayed several times already, and they've given themselves another hard deadline of July 4th. "Our reputations are on the line," says Nashua Chamber of Commerce President Chris Williams. Talk about backing yourself into a corner! Then old friend Bob Goldstein from SingleDigits has some pointed things to say about how the project has been handled, or mishandled, so far.

Friday, June 06, 2008

To e-Brew or Not to e-Brew

There was no e-Brew last night.

Or was there?

Stay tuned.

;-)

Friday, May 30, 2008

Dover's Wi-Fi Moving Forward

Once again, flying in the face of such wicked media-driven wi-fi flame-outs as Philadelphia and San Francisco, we are seeing that smaller cities are fulfilling the promise of municipal wireless Internet. And they're showing it's not that hard.

Yesterday's Foster's reported that the Dover NH City Council OK'd the plan to install wi-fi access points throughout the main downtown corridor. All it took was this:

1. Last year, Dover Main Street and Dover Chamber of Commerce applied for, and received, a $10,000 from the state Dept of Economic Development.

2. In December, Dover negotiated another $25,000 from Comcast when they re-upped their Cable Franchise Renewal Agreement. This is smart for both sides. Comcast has essentially a monopoly, so why not give a little back to the city? Gains a lot of good will, and since they offer Internet services, it's mission-centric to boot. Meanwhile, the city is well within its rights to ask for a little something in return for the franchise. It's your prototypical win-win.

3. Dover ponies up $30,000 of its own. This, too, is key. Many cities go too far one way or the other -- either they expect someone to come in and give them the wi-fi for free, or they try to buy and own the whole thing. Dover's approach is very reasonable. Take a little from the state, a little from private enterprise, and give a little out of the tax rolls. So to review: Multiple revenue streams + multiple stakeholders = wi-fi success story.

Meanwhile, stay tuned for big news on our eCoast Wi-Fi Project ongoing in Portsmouth!

Addendum: This just in! Today's Portsmouth Herald: City expands free wireless Internet access.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sex and the City... of Portsmouth!

In today's Portsmouth Herald, Rachel Forrest features my old pal Dave Cummins, star of stage and screen! In one scene in the new Sex and the City feature film, we find Mr. Cummins sitting at the head table with stars Kim Cattrall, Chris Noth ("Big"), and Sarah Jessica Parker. (But Dave, where's Kristin Davis? She's my favorite! For obvious reasons...)

In a related story, local businesses are also trying to get into the act, but only David makes the scene for real!

"Sex and the City: The Movie" will be in theaters tomorrow. In fact, unless I'm reading this wrong, you can catch it at the Fox Run Regal Cinema at midnight tonight?!

Even better, Rotten Tomatoes has it at 65% fresh!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bike to Work Day!

It's tomorrow! Now, I don't want to hear any excuses, cuz I'm doing it, too! My six-mile commute is no endurance run, and it's no cake walk, either. But it makes sense on so many levels: reducing my carbon footprint... saving the gas $... cleaning out my genetically-blocked arteries... sssallgood. ;-)

Skate over to the SABR site linked above and register for the free bagel at checkpoints around the Seacoast. Mmmm... Carboload!

I'll post a pic here of me on my bike as proof that I did it, and I challenge you all to do the same in the comments.

(Oh yah, but if it rains, screw my carbon footprint, I'm out!)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Big Apple Comes to Boston

We've had an Apple Store (or as I like to call it, "Mecca") in Tax-Free-Salem-New-Hamsphire (as the advertisers like to call it) for many years. Now the company is opening a store in Boston. It's big news for sure: Front page of the Sunday Boston Globe's Business section this past weekend and its sparked an active discussion thread on Boston.com.

Big kudos to the Apple marketing group who came up with this Red Sox themed signage. Creating an homage to Fenway Park's Green Monster to hide the construction is a stroke of genius. And for Apple, the branding king of the world, to play off the Sox demonstrates just how powerful the Red Sox brand has become.

Incidentally, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is also opening a store in Maine this year, although in their typical AppleSecret M.O., they won't say when or where. The Portland Press-Herald reports it could negatively impact those independent Apple Authorized Resellers who had been holding down the fort. It's certainly a concern, but I tend to see it as a "rising tide lifting all boats" situation.

For instance, I bought a new laptop battery -- for the MacBook on which I'm typing now -- from a local independent shop called MacEdge. They're in the Bowl-a-Rama plaza on Rt.1 South, just a couple miles from my house, whereas Mecca is a solid 40 miles to the West. With gas prices these days, the more Macs are sold (be it at Apple retail stores, BestBuy, online, or through resellers), the more demand there'll be for local service centers for repairs, peripherals, et cetera.

I note that Michael Oh, who operates Tech Superpowers on all-too-near Newbury Street, is using the Apple Store's arrival to refocus his operations toward professional and business accounts, smartly ceding retail consumers to Apple corporate. And yes, as a true Apple geek, he's ramped up about the new store, too, even if might be competition: Check out the "Birth of an Apple Store" blog featuring his way-cool webcam chronicling the construction.

Most importantly, I wonder if I could get to Boston on Thursday night in time to get one of those free opening day t-shirts?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Local Boy Still Making Good

Old pal Dave Cummins has scored again! Here's the latest posting from his Facebook page:

David J Cummins (New York, NY) wrote
at 1:47pm on May 10th, 2008
If you are reading this and it is Tuesday May 13th...tune in to As The World Turns on CBS at 2pm EDT...or go online to cbs.com and see it at 6pm EDT. Look for me in the background during the outdoor cafe scene shot at The Boathouse in Central Park...I think I may be right on camera...but alas...no speaking this time...but good things are coming...tune in soon for some big news.

Friday, May 09, 2008

The Wine Guy on the Shelf

Here's wishing Papa Campbell, Portsmouth's favorite Wine Guy, a speedy recovery from his recent surgery. The shop is open sporadically with "Backup Wine Guy" Paul running the show, so you might want to call ahead: 431-2640.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Back from vacation... Back to work... Back to blogging

Ever have one of those vacations when you come back and say, "Man, I need a vacation from that vacation!" Well, yah, that's me. Thanks to SkyBus, my Portsmouth-to-Punta Gorda door-to-door flight became the airline itinerary-from-hell. Our replacement flight down, Southwest (MHT to TAM), was OK, although we sat for an hour on the tarmac while they figured out why they couldn't refuel. (Really? How does that even happen? Ever pull up to a gas station and not be able to put the nozzle in the hole?!) So we arrived late, rented a car in Tampa, and didn't get to Mom's house until midnight. The flights back were on JetBlue. We left the house at 8:30AM. We loved the DirecTV in the seat-backs, but the turbulence on the first leg (FLL to IAD) was brutal for nervous fliers such as myself. ("Stewardess? Scotch, please. Actually, make it a double.") Then we sat at Dulles ("Putting the Dull in Dulles since 1962") for eight (8!) hours while we waited for our connector to get out of Boston, get down there, and get us back to Boston. When we finally got on the plane, there was a computer problem and they essentially needed to reboot the entire plane! Not sure if the pilot saw the BSOD in the cockpit or if they're running Vista or what, but that was weird. Of course, we arrived after C&J stopped running, so we rented a car and arrived home sometime after 3AM. For those of you doing the math at home, that's Florida to New Hampshire in about 19 hours.

Yep, I need a vacation.

Anyway, lots of blogging backed up in my queue, so stay tuned!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Local Girl Makes Good



Yep, this is my pizza girl. I've been visiting Savario's Pizza, a little hole-in-the-wall on State Street in Portsmouth, almost every Friday night for... I dunno... A decade? (If you're a pizza lover, check them out. See reviews here and here. Personally, I recommend the 12" red with spinach and sausage.) Often, a teen-aged Gina Catalino was working the register for her dad, pizza-making genius Frank. But a couple years ago, she flew the coop of Portsmouth to launch her budding music career. As you can see, she's done pretty well for herself! Her music is featured on the Showtime TV show "The L Word" and just last week she visited NBC studios for the live performance you see above. Check her out on MySpace.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

They Will Appease Us

Good news to report from the Corporations-Screwing-Scott File.

DirecTV (NYSE: DTV) and I had a nice chat on the phone yesterday. They've discounted our bill about 19% for the next year, and we got one free day of NFL Sunday Ticket. (Did you know you can buy Sunday Ticket the day of the game, just for the day?!) They also helped us discover a package on our bill that we thought we needed for NESN, but didn't. Good news, we save $23/mo; bad news, we've been spending $23/mo. So we are appeased, for now. With today being the Red Sox home opener and World Series ring ceremony at Fenway, there's no chance the picture will go out again, right?!

Meanwhile, I'm happy to report that our Florida vacation is saved! My mom sprung into action and was able to secure 1-way tickets with Southwest and JetBlue. Of course, these tickets cost considerably more than the $30 seats we had secured with SkyBus. Does the Bush administration see the irony here? They want us to not hesitate to spend to "keep the economy going," but when we plan a vacation, the airline goes under due to fuel costs that are nearly twice what they had budgeted for. These fuel costs are, of course, a result of: 1.) Unstable conditions in the Middle East, caused by our invasion of Iraq; 2.) A plummeting dollar caused by Bush's economic policies; and 3.) Corporate greed on the part of the oil companies. So now we're spending 5 times more for the flight, which will obviously affect our spending power on the vacation considerably. So much for your "economic stimulus package," Mr. Bush!

OK, so that was a rant. This was supposed to be a good news blog filing, but I got off on a tangent there. Sorry about that. Stay tuned for another good news post later today, which will be entitled "Local Girl Makes Good." Or "My Pizza Girl Sure Can Sing." Or something else that doesn't suck so much.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

SkyBus Goes South; My Vacation Hangs in Limbo

A couple weeks ago, SeacoastOnline.com had an online poll asking if we were optimistic about the chances SkyBus would make it. I voted that I was optimistic. My brother and his family had just done the Pease to Punta Gorda, Florida, trip and had a good experience with SkyBus, and I'm an optimist by nature. But the poll results were less sanguine, and today, I was awoken by a call from my mom in Punta Gorda. SkyBus was bankrupt, and our vacation was in limbo.

Of course, it's the top story on the Herald site. Foster's has a detailed story here. On SkyBus.com, it there's this helpful tidbit for my mom, who fronted for the tix: "Passengers holding reservations for Skybus flights scheduled to depart on or after Saturday, April 5, 2008 should contact their credit card companies to arrange to apply for a refund."

Currently, my mom is trying to do the super-hero thing and save our vacation, which was to be my first in several years. I was starting to calculate the driving cost, but I may be the only one in the family willing do to the 24-hour road-trip. As this writing, she has secured $99 tix one-way to Florida.

Can this vacation be saved? Stay tuned!

And RIP SkyBus. And Pan Am. And Allegiant. And... Is it just me, or was this airport built over an Indian burial ground? I think a saw a Scooby-Doo episode just like this!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Where, Why, Wi-Fi?

David Brooks, the Granite Geek himself, notified me of this a couple weeks ago. In its review of the status of wi-fi hotspots around the country, Wired magazine somehow gave Portsmouth a miss completely, despite the fact that we've had free municipal wireless Internet available in downtown Market Square since 2003. I did some digging and found that even MuniWireless, who had covered our expansion plans mere months ago, also did not have us listed. I've written both, hoping they will correct their errors of omission. MuniWireless has now fixed theirs as you can see here; I'm wondering now if that's where Wired got their erroneous info.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Baseball fans need DirecTV... to work

The fallout from yesterday's DirecTV debacle continues to, well, fall. Like SkyLab.

A Google News search shows well over 120 news items on the subject, with the AP picking up the story late yesterday afternoon. The Portsmouth Herald did a nice story on it today: DirecTV Fails Sox Fans in Opener on page 1. And notably, Seth Mnookin, author of the excellent book Feeding the Monster, blogged about his consternation: DirecTV, How Do I Hate Thee? Let me count the ways.

Meanwhile, the PR geniuses at DirecTV are taking a hide-and-see approach to their problem. They haven't fessed up to what exactly happened, and that lack of transparency gives one pause. In the Boston Herald's piece Viewers Strike Out as DirecTV Goes on DL, the company "wouldn’t say how many customers missed the game, how many complained (we’re guessing many) and what exactly went wrong."

In this piece on WBZ-TV.com, you can see the company taking the word obtuse to new levels.

BTW, I find it interesting to note that DirecTV (NYSE: DTV) launched a new bird over the Pacific on the 20th, and that the company CEO sold 25,000 shares of stock on Monday.

Further adding to the company's problems, if you look at the blog postings and comments, far too many customers reported that the customer service people working the phones were not helpful and "rude."

Finally, they are being coy about how they might compensate subscribers for the "inconvenience." Note: My bill says it cost $23 for NESN this month. Ahem.

For counterpoint on how to handle a technical glitch that impacts the customer experience, NetFlix confessed to me today that they had a delay in their shipping (which I didn't even notice) and proactively took 10% off my next bill, with me having to do absolutely nothing.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Boston, we have a problem.

What was supposed to be an unique television event -- the live broadcast by dawn's early light of the Red Sox season opener from Tokyo -- became a debacle for DirecTV this morning when a widespread outage affected thousands of unhappy customers, including this one. I got up at 6AM to find the screen "searching for signal" on both NESN and ESPN2.

After resetting the box, testing other channels, and, yes, making sure we paid our bill, a call to customer service yielded 15 minutes of bad hold music, followed by a terse response from a harried customer service rep: "It is a known issue. We are working on it." Super.

While trying to tune the game in on AM radio (is it just my imagination, or is AM radio reception worse these days?), we went poking around the Internet for news of the problem. We found the news had reached the Boston Globe's live game blogger, who posted news of the outage between game updates. These in-game blog entries typically never get comments, but within minutes, there were a dozen. A half hour later, 30 more "me-toos." Now, 218 comments from angry fans have piled up. The Globe's Erik Wilbur has also blogged on it, garnering 30 comments. Even ESPN's Buster Onley complained about it on-air, and he blogged it, too.

This is a PR nightmare for DirecTV.

Meanwhile, to their credit, the company hosts user forums on their web site. This is smart business on their part, allowing users to compare notes and troubleshoot without going off-site and without tying up technical support lines. But as you can see for yourself here, they're now hosting well over 100 company-hostile postings.

As of 11AM, with the game all over but the shouting, the problem was not resolved on my TV. Now, instead of getting a black screen with "searching for signal," you see a placard "No need to call us. We are aware this TV station is temporarily unavailable. We'll have this channel back as soon as possible. Sorry for the interruption."

DirecTV to Face the Wrath of Red Sox Nation

What's interesting now is how the satellite TV giant handles the fallout. To a die-hard fan, there is nothing they can do to fix it, because they can't give us back the experience we missed. The game will be re-aired at 2:30PM today, IF the technical difficulties are resolved. I've set my DVR to record it, but the content of the game is far less important than missing the event. I listened to the game on the radio; I know what happened, and I can read countless news accounts of the game's events. But the opportunity to watch it happen, live, is gone.

DirecTV's modus operandi is usually to issue partial credits in the event of an outage. But judging from the level of vitriol in some of these blog commentsI doubt that will be enough. Get the Blue Screen of Death enough times and you decide it's time for a Mac. A dissatisfied consumer's only recourse in this situation is simply to take their business elsewhere. (Umm, that's 1-800-COMCAST for those of you keeping score at home. Or 1-888-GET-FIOS to see if Verizon's new TV service is available in your area.)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Baseball is back! And so is Jordan's... Kinda, Sorta.

When the Boston Red Sox take the field in Japan tonight -- yep, that'll be 6AM Eastern Standard Time here -- it'll mark the beginning of the 2008 baseball season! With it, we'll also see the return of one of most clever promotional campaigns in recent memory by Jordan's Furniture. Last year's "Monster Deal" meant that when Jon Papelbon whiffed the final batter, 24,000+ happy furniture shoppers received rebates for the purchases they made in the spring, making the Sox victory just that much more sweet.

To be eligible for free sofas and mattresses in this year's promo, you'll need to make a purchase between March 25 and April 27. But this year, they're being "stingier," as the Boston Globe puts it, requiring not only that the Sox repeat their World Series championship performance of 2007, but also that they sweep their World Series opponent in 4 straight games. Now, granted, they did sweep the Cardinals in 2004, and they did sweep the Rockies last year, but this is one tall order for the local nine! No doubt the insurance company that underwrote last year's promotion (at a cost north of $20 million) is behind this rule tightening... Spoil sports!

Last year's promotion generated truckloads of free positive publicity for Jordan's, and it solidified the company's association with the uber-popular Boston Red Sox. It was, in short, a marketing home run. But this year's event will struggle to recapture the magic, not only because the promo seems, well, played, but because the odds are so long. To me, this one looks like it'll die on the warning track.

Meanwhile, the Sox traveling road show is a grand slam by Major League Baseball. The Oakland A's are on record that they feel like the hapless Washington Generals in this battle of baseball globetrotters, and there's now no doubt that Red Sox Nation extends far into the Far East. That Japanese expatriate Daisake Matsuzaka is pitching the opener is that much more of an attraction, so set your alarm, chill your beer (hey, it's after 5PM in Tokyo, remember), and enjoy the game. And if you're feeling lucky, you might shoot your laptop over to Jordan's web site and do a little shopping... It might pay off come October.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Port City Web on the Move

Good to hear that Port City Web is returning to the fold of downtown Portsmouth, AKA the eCoast epicenter. (Actually, right next door to the Portsmouth Chamber!)

According to PCW's latest press release, that's not all that's new. New HQ digs... New services... New spin-off businesses... New hardware... Nice new web site, too! Boy Erik, no moss grows on you!

Media, take notice: Businesses news doesn't have to be all gloom-and-doom!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Best of the Best

About this time every year for nearly a decade, I looked forward to the NH Internet Awards. But now, it's RIP NHIA.

The powers that be (i.e., McLean Communications -- NH Magazine, NH Business Review, etc.) have shifted their efforts to a more general business recognition program. Personally, this makes me a little sad, like when Interface Tech News ceased to be. Hell, I still remember the NEWD Awards, which drew 1000 young, eager, hip, web-type-folks people to the Avalon for the awards on my birthday in 2000. Man, what a party! But I digress. Or regress.

Now, there's no NH-only recognition program for web designers; if you're in that biz, you'll have to compete in regionally, nationally, and internationally, and as small fish in a larger pond, it's a lot harder to make a splash. Your best shot is the MITX Interactive Awards (formerly MIMC Awards) in Boston.

Hmmm... Or if you're based in Maine, looks like the MESDA "Geeks in Black" Technology Awards are still going. Good for them!

So anyway, now NH Business Review is doing "The BOB Awards" where BOB = "Best of Business." The inaugural event is scheduled Wednesday, March 19. Maybe you'll get a 'Bobbie' if you win? Like, a little golden guy shaped like a British policeman?

FYI, here's the rest of NHBR's recognition programs.

Meanwhile, NH Magazine is doing their annual "Best of NH" poll. Restaurateurs, take notice: With categories from "best fries" to "best wine list," you're bound to find a space in which your house specialty can compete. When I vote, I'm always torn between the pride of having my favorite pizza place honored, and the fear that my favorite pizza place will be discovered, if you follow my reasoning.

It's never to early to put Mass High Tech's awards into your calendar. They're now taking nominations for Tech All-Stars 2008 (deadline August 22) and TechCitizenship (Sept 26). Don't forget they're always taking nominations for "The Pitch," where you can put your start-up company in the running to be spotlighted on page 3 with your pitch for funding.

More immediately, NH High Tech Council's Entrepreneur of the Year deadline is April 15.

And MITX is taking applications for their competitive Technology Awards until March 28. The competition features 9 different categories, hitting on business intelligence, marketing, social media, even gaming and virtual reality technologies. Good stuff!

Friday, March 07, 2008

I-Brew, U-Brew, We all e-Brew!

Mmm-hmmm, I do love a good eBrew. As one patron said, "Ever notice whenever the economy goes in the tank, the eBrew is always rockin?!" Ain't it the truth! If you missed the eBrew last night, here's my brief debriefing.

News from the eCoast Wi-Fi front: Fear not, progress is quietly being made. My sources say Cisco and the city are working on siting the access points. Of course, the topography of the town is tricky, and then there are the permissions to deal with. There's at least one WAP sited and successfully testing now; hopefully, we'll have more in place for spring. Good to see eCoast Wi-Fi co-founding fathers Erik (Port City Web) and Dave (BayRing) in attendance last night, too.

Was happy to hear from the guys at Savvy Software that business is still strong. I have long said the SavvyCM product was great; the market just needed to be educated on the idea that web sites should and can be updated regularly and easily. The more people understand the power and the value of a truly user-friendly CMS, the better Savvy does, and it seems the idea is reaching its tipping point.

SilverOven was represented; I can't recall the last time that happened, if it ever has. Welcome aboard, guys!

Speaking of Flywire, it was awesome to see Jody LaRue again. He's now chief creative at VisionaryFX, who do some pretty awesome 3D work.

And old pal Steve Long (Webricators) was holding court with a demo of his odometer widget, a clever little app that measures distances on your online map.

Hatchling was in full force, as per usual. They've got a new president, Mr. Mark Samber, and continue to win awards left and right. While Mark with a k runs OPS, Marc with a c (founder & CEO) can focus on the vision. This will prove to be a potent combination, mark my words!

Good talks with the TeBuMi contingent
from Newburyport, too. TeBuMi is shorthand for TEchnical BUsiness MIxer, BTW. Peter, I'm hoping to make one of your shindigs someday soon!

Thanks to Tim, our bartender for the evening, who took good care of us right up til 7:59. And to Paul McAskill (The Compass Points) for sponsoring.

Oh, and don't forget to join the e-Coast group on Facebook!

Foster's: Australian for Lay-Offs, Mate?

A short while back I wrote on the curious decision by Fosters to switch to being
amorning paper. Today, I saw this news about layoffs. Mere coincidence? Or is
there a connection? Anyway, I wish both the laid-off and the still-employed the
best of luck during this difficult transition period.

Monday, March 03, 2008

In the Waiting Room at the Car Dealership

Thumbing through the February BusinessNH magazine in the waiting room at SeacoastVW... Which has no wi-fi, BTW, although they do have an Ethernet hook-up for you, if you're into that sort of thing. Anyway, the magazine cover "The New Tech Wave" caught my eye with the promise of spotlighting some hot new high-tech companies in the state. And there is actually one that looked interesting. Netrocity Design & Information Systems in MancheVegas "creates specialized news filters that collect thousands of news items -- including blogs, news feeds, e-mail news alerts, and subscription-based sites -- and turns them into event radar maps that show trends and patterns in less than a minute."


Not surprisingly, this sort of thing would have interesting applications, and a presidential primary campaign (Mitt Romney's) seems to be a perfect fit. Check out the sample here.

The profile states that subscriptions start at $880 per year, and that Netrocity won SwaNH's "Rookie of the Year" award last year. Whether Netro is a Joe Charboneau-type (a rookie flameout) or a Cal Ripken-type rookie remains to be seen, but the tech is intriguing.
Page 45... An ad reminds us of NHHTC Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. Deadline April 15. Hmmm... Isn't that also a deadline for something else?

Further flipping, I notice my friends at SilverTech have won another web design award - a Gold from American Design Awards - for its Life is Good site. Congrats guys!

Inside back cover is a big ad that looks to be inspired by 2001: A Space Odyssey promoting an event presented by the magazine. New Hampshire: 2018 will be at the Center of NH on March 11. Old friend Ross Gittell will be one of four featured speakers. $35 a head. If you go, let me know!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Providence as High-Tech Hub? Sure, why not?

Interesting article in today's Boston Globe by Carolyn Johnson about efforts by Providence, Rhode Island, to cast itself as a high-tech hub. eCoast gets a mention, although it's hard to tell if it's a positive or a negative. We'll call it neutral. Anyway, looks like they're serious... It's an official effort by the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation. They branded it RINexus (a little Matrixy but we'll allow it) and have launched a fairly impressive web site to support the effort. Here's their "About" verbiage.

RI Nexus is a public-private initiative of the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation to support and grow the state's info-tech and digital media sector. RI Nexus aims to help transform the sector's collection of organizations, individuals, and initiatives into a highly interconnected statewide industry cluster by:

  • Helping the sector's stakeholders to connect, communicate, and collaborate
  • Nurturing a culture that recognizes and celebrates entrepreneurship and innovation
  • Streamlining access to support resources relevant to entrepreneurs and innovators
  • Promoting Rhode Island's dynamic info-tech & digital media sector beyond our borders
If you look at the ingredients necessary to for this sort of thing to flourish, as UNH Prof. Ross Gittell has, you'd think they actually have a pretty good shot at developing an attractive technology-based economy down there. They've got the proximity to major cities, universities, and cultural/recreational attractions. Too bad their state-wide wi-fi initiative has fallen by the wayside.

No Fair Point, No More

Well, it looks like it's all over but the shouting. Despite well organized opposition, the Fair Point-Verizon deal is going through.

Ashley Smith does a tremendous job recapping the whole long sordid tale in a folksy Q & A article for the Nashua Telegraph : In case you haven't heard, it's official: Verizon is leaving the landline and DSL business in New Hampshire. Barring a successful appeal, the name FairPoint Communications will soon appear on your telephone bill. Read on...

Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing for the citizens and businesses of Northern New England remains to be seen. Wither FiOS? Is DSL going to be good enough? But at least we know the process worked. This deal was thoroughly vetted in all 3 states. And the unions made their voices heard loud and clear; in their opposition to the deal, the Communications Workers Union and the IBEW scored at least a moral victory.

No doubt this will be a major topic of conversation at the Regional Broadband Forums being hosted around the state by NH DRED. “These forums are of vital importance in determining where our opportunities, needs, challenges and obstacles lie in terms of telecommunications infrastructure,” said New Hampshire Division of Economic Director Michael Vlacich.

For times and locations, visit DRED's newsroom.

I wish I could attend this Friday morning's session at Pease, but I have at least 2 meeting schedule conflicts. Hopefully someone will catch me up?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Portsmouth Wins National Recognition

Being a Portsmouth Rah-Rah Booster, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention this: The National Trust for Historic Preservation has named Portsmouth, New Hampshire, one of its 2008 Dozen Distinctive Destinations.

National Trust said: Portsmouth, N.H.--This elegant seaport, the nation's third oldest city, is one of the most culturally rich destinations in the country with its captivating blend of coastal beauty, historic buildings and lively downtown.

So, yah, like we didn't already know this? ;-)

(Photo by Melanie Burger.)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Local Boy Makes Good, Part III

This just in from Portsmouth expatriate Dave Cummins, who left town to pursue fame and fortune in the Big Apple:

Hello all...

Indeed it is my first speaking role on All My Children. I will be featured playing a U.S. Marshall in a big scene with Erica Kane (Susan Lucci) in two episodes airing on Monday, Feb 18th and Tuesday, Feb 19th. I will begin my scene toward the end of the show on the 18th and continue the scene with my speaking line(s) on the 19th. It airs on ABC TV at 1pm EST. If you happen to have a cable package with Soap Net then you can also catch it the same days at 8pm EST and again as the first two hours of a 5 hour weekly recap marathon on Saturday 2/23 from 2pm-6pm.

I also hope to have the scenes up on my website as soon as possible so…as always…feel free to visit the site and tell all your friends. www.davidjenterprises.com

Thanks for all the support.

Be well, David

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Super Bowl Winners

Once again, the game was more competitive than the commercials. The Giants somehow stunned the Patriots while Budweiser was winning USAToday's AdMeter. But the big winner of SuperBowl Sunday was... The Internet. The New York Times sums it up nicely in this piece: "For Marketing, the Most Valuable Player Might Be YouTube."

"It is a far cry from just a few years ago, when the Super Bowl commercials disappeared after the game, along with the losing team. Now the strategy among sponsors is to maximize postgame exposure to help amortize the eye-popping cost of a Super Sunday spot — this time, an estimated $2.7 million for each 30 seconds of national air time."

The article notes that TiVo, long the bane of TV advertisers, helped some ads beat the game in ratings; the commercials got a higher audience than the game” in homes with the TiVo video recorder service.

YouTube, of course, was a prime destination for people wanting to catch what ads they missed on their beer and bathroom breaks. Check out the AdBlitz channel to compare view counts and ratings.

Even more interestingly, there was the TwitterBowl. I'm not a Twitterer, but this is the first time I've seen a really neat application of the technology. Kudos to Jeremiah Owyang on this fascinating experiment in social media.

BTW, here are my favorite commercials from this year:

5. The E*Trade Baby (both versions).
4. Audi's Godfather spoof. Clever concept, and man, what a car!
3. SoBe's Lizards were doing the Thriller dance so well, I wondered why Naomi Campbell was even on the screen at all.
2. Bridgestone's "Scream" and "Alice Cooper/Richard Simmons" (tie). Bridgestone? Really? Yep, really!
1. Coke, of course. Underdog and Stewie go at it, only to see Charlie Brown steal the show?! Brilliant.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Super Bowl Ads Still Super?

I tend to agree with this CBSNews article posted a few hours ago: "Super Bowl Ads Aren't What They Used To Be; You Just Can't Count On Being Entertained During The Commercial Breaks Anymore."

It's been a long, long, long time since Apple's Orwellian triumph in 1984.



(Trivia tidbit: Directed by Ridley Scott (of Blade Runner fame), who hasn't done a decent thing since.)

Longer still since 1979, when "Mean Joe" Greene showed his softer side and traded his jersey for a Coke.

The CBS article blames the Internet, where this year's GoDaddy ad will be because Fox has refused to run it. You can see that ad, and the rest of the Not-So-Super Bowl TV spots here on YouTube, and you can rate them! That's where I'll be after the Pats dispatch the Giants 38-20. (Yes, that's my prediction, on record here for all to see.) Enjoy the game, if not the commercials!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Fluff Piece Throws eCoast a Bone

My Google News Alert just sent me a notice that the key words "Portsmouth" and "wi-fi" were in the news. I clicked over and found this fluff piece on Seacoastonline.com about the pervasive impact of technology on the NH Seacoast. Aside from the dubious self-promotion of the Herald's parent company SMG, the article quotes my friends Ginny Griffith (Portsmouth Chamber) and Warren Daniel (NH SBDC), promotes the eCoast.org web site, mentions my downtown wi-fi project, and notes (finally, some recognition) that the eCoast has just celebrated our 9th anniversary. (See my post below about last month's eBrew and the eBrew Facebook page for pictures.) So, definitely a fluffy space-filler article, but all in all, I deem it bloggable.

Monday, January 21, 2008

No Fair Point

The proposed FairPoint purchase of Verizon's landlines in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont is coming to a head. While reading a story about yesterday's Patriots victory (yah baby!) on Boston.com, I noticed a banner ad at the top of the page:

This is an interesting tactic on the part of the very strong, very organized opposition group known as NoFairPoint.org (a project of the Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO). NoFairPoint is using newspaper and radio adverting to make its case, but banner ads are usually used as marketing tools to reinforce a brand, usually a well-known brand. Because of years of negative conditioning, most Internet users do not click-through banners, so they are particularly ill-suited to calls-to-action. Despite this, I took action and clicked on it! The ad is designed cleverly as a newspaper headline -- and a scary one at that, because of my strong support for bringing high-speed Internet to rural areas, be it with Wi-Fi, WiMax, fiber, or at the very least, DSL on copper -- and I wanted to see what the story was behind the ad.

For those not up to speed on the story, this is a big deal. Evidently, Verizon wants out of landlines, which is not a growth area, so they can concentrate on wireless. Based in North Carolina, FairPoint wants to expand its LEC footprint. The problem is that FairPoint, while not exactly a small company (NYSE:FRP), is in no financial position to swallow a swath this wide. FairPoint is already in debt, and opponents say the additional debt will force the company to cut jobs or service. Or more likely, both.

Some advocates for the deal say the government shouldn't interfere with corporate deals. Nothing against FairPoint -- I know little about them -- but industries like telecom are a public necessity and are regulated for a reason: Private companies exist to grow and make money. The FCC, on the other hand, exists "to ensure that the American people have available, at reasonable costs and without discrimination, rapid, efficient, Nation- and world-wide communication services; whether by radio, television, wire, satellite, or cable." Indeed, after checking into the deal, one presidential candidate is calling for FCC investigation, citing the potential for job loss and negatively impacted service.

In an editorial on Saturday, The Portsmouth Herald outlined the whole deal and summed it up with a strongly caution:

The question that regulators have to ask is whether the deal is good for the businesses and people of the Northeast.

There are indications that it will not be, and if these indications hold up under what we hope is the intense scrutiny of the Public Utilities regulators of these three states, then FairPoint should be sent packing and Verizon should be forced to perform the functions it assumed when it was granted the right to operate in these three states.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Another eCoast Firm Gets Bought

Came across a tiny news blurb yesterday that caught my eye when I recognized the company name and location... Foedus, a 30-head firm on Pease, has been bought by VMWare (NYSE:VMW). When I typed in Foedus.com for more info, I found the domain already redirects to the new parent company. But I could still see the Foedus site here.

According to the press release, VMWare is on a bit of a spending spree, having also purchased the much larger firm Thinstall; as such, the Foedus acquisition gets a small paragraph at the bottom of the release:

VMware Acquires Assets from Foedus

VMware also disclosed its acquisition of services-related assets from Foedus, a Portsmouth, New Hampshire-based provider of virtualization technologies and services. VMware intends to leverage Foedus’s application and desktop virtualization services expertise to help VMware partners expand their virtualization services business. Foedus’s remaining assets, including the company’s sales and marketing organizations, were acquired earlier this month by GreenPages Technology, a national, consultative IT solutions provider and VMware Authorized Consultant (VAC) partner.

What does it mean? David Marshall at InfoWorld blogged: "This is further proof that virtualization expertise is hard to come by and in many cases perhaps easier to acquire than to train."

I'm awaiting news from my contact at Foedus as to what this all means to them, but surely, congratulations are in order for them!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Apple of My Eye

It's like a national holiday when Steve Jobs speaks! I'll be tuning in online at noon, anxiously awaiting news of an iPhone* update.


"There's something in the air." Hmmm... Is this a hint of some kind? Something to do with wi-fi or something wireless, perhaps?

I also note with interest that the Apple Store is down ahead of the big Macworld keynote address.

*BTW, I did finally find the eCoast's first iPhone at last week's eBrew! Mr. Erik Crago of Port City Web has purchased several, in fact, in order to equip himself and his team. He might be one of the most unlikely iPhone users, as one of his long-time favorite quotes is: "Apples are for eating." Just goes to show how far Apple Inc. has come over the past few years.

Ooops, Macworld is about to start. More later!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Local Boy Makes Good, Take II

A while back, I wrote about my old college buddy David Cummins, who had decided he wanted to try to break into showbiz. Due in no small part to his sticktoitiveness, Dave has met with an impressive amount of success, from local tv commercials to catalog modelling to bit parts in All My Children and even major motion pictures like Catch Me If You Can. His latest coup is appearing in the opening credits of a new Lifetime Television series, Matched in Manhattan.
It's a reality series starring Matt Titus, a "dating agent" who works with New York singles looking for true love. Dave's in a taxi and has a twinkle in his eye when a woman gets in, so look for my pal every Friday night at 9:3o! Or just click the link above to watch the first episode online. I just watched it; it's a pretty good show!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Obama's Consolation Prize

He may have narrowly lost the NH Primary, but Barack Obama continues to dominate in cyberspace.

He wins the Yahoo! Buzz Showdown with Hillary Clinton. Check out the geographic skew on the Yahoo! search for "barack obama muslim".

He wins the YouTube battle for eyeballs. Drill down to the data here.

And he wins Facebook's popularity contest. With 200,000 "friends," as reported here in The Nation, his numbers triple Hillary's.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

See you tonight at the Press Room...

For the e-Coast Birthday Bash at the the e-Brew! This is your first chance to network and schmooze in 2008. And, there'll be cake. I mean really, who doesn't like cake? Nobody, right? (Well, except those of us with random food allergies. Stupid food allergies.) Oh and for those of you on Facebook, I've created an eCoast group and an eBrew event; check 'em out and if you know me, add me!
It won't just be high-tech chit-chat tonight, methinks. No doubt there'll be some discussion about our Primary election. I have to say, I'm finding it interesting if not refreshing to hear the pollsters and pundits eating crow over Hillary's so-called surprise victory. (My own predictions (see below) were actually pretty right on, actually, but only if you look at the voting rolls here in the Seacoast towns. My political barometer was not so good at predicting the Manchester, Nashua, and North Country, which makes sense seeing as I don't live there.) But the media mea-culpas keep coming, and it just goes to show you, like they say in the NFL, this is why they actually play the games.

The best news from the Primary? We in NH showed the nation, if not the world, why we deserve to be first in the nation. We know our politics cold -- the candidates and the media now know better than ever, there's no snowing us. And we show up to vote, this time in record numbers. Some polling stations were actually running out of ballots. Beat that Michigan!