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, 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 (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 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!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Have a Cigar, You're Gonna Go Far

A long-standing Portsmouth tradition is the matchbook poll at Federal Cigar on Ladd Street in downtown Portsmouth. (Customers simply drop a matchbook into a bag with their preferred candidate's name on it.) About an hour ago, the Portsmouth Herald announced the results. Herald reporters Adam Leech and Deborah McDermott report that owner Leonard Seagren claims the 24-year-running poll has an "80% success rate." Presumably that is in predicting the winners only, rather than the rankings of the entire field. Here are the results:


Ron Paul (31 percent)
John McCain (27 percent)
Rudy Giuliani (21 percent)
Mike Huckabee (10 percent)
Mitt Romney (8 percent)
Fred Thompson (2 percent)
Duncan Hunter (no votes).


Barack Obama (46 percent)
Dennis Kucinich (17 percent)
John Edwards (17 percent)
Hillary Clinton (13 percent)
Joe Biden (4 percent)
Chris Dodd (3 percent)
Bill Richardson (1 percent).

Decidedly low-tech and wholly unscientific, this poll remains one of my favorite things about the NH Primary in general and Portsmouth in particular. Certainly, reading the tea leaves -- or cigar ashes? -- of this poll can impart insight into the mind of the voter, and can be an early indicator of surprises and upsets, (e.g., Hart, Gary in 1984.)

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Debate This, Pal

Wow. Talk about the mainstream media (MSM) "not getting" social media. ABCNews "partnered" with Facebook to "jointly sponsor" tonight's Democratic and Republican presidential debates in Manchester. And yesterday they announced that Dennis Kucinich will not be invited. Gov. Bill Richardson will be debating along with the Big 3, but if you go to the little ABCNews Facebook application, you'll see Kucinich outpolling Richardson by a wide margin (7% to 3%). Kucinich has filed a complaint with the FCC and supporters are hastily rallying in protest.

Similarly, although Ron Paul will be in tonight's debate, he will not be in the Fox News debate tomorrow night. Paul is the leader in ABC's Facebook poll at 37%. Paul's supporters are protesting, online of course.

Thursday, January 03, 2008


On the eve of the Iowa Caucus, KD Paine & Partners has released an update to their YouTube tracking data on the presidential hopefuls. Basically, this innovative Berlin, NH-based media measurement firm is tracking clicks on YouTube for insights into the minds of prospective voters. Katie gives a great overview on where the candidates rate on her blog. As you can see from the data, Barack Obama (pictured left, with my girlfriend Melanie) is surging. And now for my predictions:

Iowa tonight:

Republicans: Huckabee will beat Romney, with McCain a strong and surprising third.

Democrats: Obama and Edwards will finish a virtual tie, with Hillary trailing them. Biden might top the 2nd tier candidates.

New Hampshire next Tuesday:

Republicans: Again, I'm seeing a shift in support to McCain, who was left for dead in NH just a couple months ago. My sense is we New Hampshirites know Romney too well to fall for his act. Huckabee's contention that the earth is only 10,000 years old will not play here. Guiliani is simply not a Granite State kind of guy and he's seemed to mail it in here in acknowledgment of that. By process of elimination, we are left with McCain, who will win despite apparently aging 10 years in the past 4 and selling out his independent integrity by pandering shamelessly to the conservative base. Given the atrophy of support for the Republican Big 3, don't be surprised if Ron Paul taps the libertarian vein of the granite state and cracks 10%.

Democrats: Obama will win. Edwards and Hillary will be close behind 2nd and 3rd. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see a solid 8-10% digit showing from a 2nd tier guy like a Richardson or a Kucinich (pictured at right, with yours truly), depending on whether the independent voters who register as Democrats for this go-'round go with pragmatic or progressive.

And yes, I do love living in New Hampshire. :-)

Happy Birthday e-Coast!

In case you were wondering if there was an eBrew tonight, well, there isn't. If you're on the e-mail list, you got a notice at 3:56PM today about the special eCoast Birthday eBrew happening next Thursday. If memory serves correctly, this week-long delay is standard--an attempt to give folks a chance to get back from the holidays and get settled. BTW, if you're not on the e-mail list and are unsure about time, location, or if the eBrew is even happening, be sure to check the eCoast web site for updates before you leave.

Now, for you eBrew neophytes, I have to tell you that if you go to just two eBrews per year, they should be the summer eCruise and the January Birthday eBrew, which celebrates the very first meeting of eCoast founders way back in the days of yore, January 1999. Just for perspective, in those days, my hair was approximately 50% salt and 50% pepper, as opposed to the current 95% salt. Too bad I can't harness and sell all that salt for the roads, because as the P-Herald reports, we're already running low on the stuff!