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The Bad Job Correlation: How Bad Companies Encourage New Business

Friday, April 15th, 2011

College is a time for learning and really bad jobs.  Some of us work at Subway, while others (me) had to participate in a parade of horrible jobs.  I worked for my father and he had a wide range of business endeavors – commercial real estate, mini-storage and estate auctions.  He also had partners that had really side businesses.  One installed cable antennas in rural North Dakota; the other built homes.

Unlike working at the pool or some awesome restaurant, I was my father’s indentured servant.  My days consisted of looking for some type of wrench or nail (I’m not very mechanical) or sitting on a steep pitched roof in Valley City, ND, with a 40 foot piece of metal, waiting to hear if the TV. inside showed any signs of life.

One extremely hot day, on some metallic roof (applying some type of glue or something), I said to myself “I cannot be an outside working guy.  I have to get an office job.”  So, I took out an outrageous amount of student debt, and got an office gig.

But all is not as it seems in corporate America.  In talking with friends and former classmates, I think 90% of people I meet don’t like their day job.  Whether it’s a manager or corporate culture (e.g. type of place where everything has to be in a CYA email), people are scratching their head for an idea.  One that gets them out of their office and into their own business.

A friend of mine recently quit his job as a general counsel for a Fortune 500 company.  His main complaint was the lack of control over his career and not a lot of exciting moments during the day.  So, what is he trying to do now? Work with some young Tech company?  Nope.  He’s scouting locations for a self-serve yogurt shop.

Another guy I know roams the sterile hallways of his corporate job, thinking of any concept that could get funding…anything from mineral rights to a new way to run match-making sites.  All of this is because he has a boss that he can’t stand.

So, in a way, America owes a lot to terrible work environments.  Otherwise, there’d be much less entrepreneurial spirit.

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Asked About Your Business? Better Get a Good “Story”

Friday, April 1st, 2011

What’s your company’s story?  As we’ve been talking to partners, investors and media people, that seems to be a favorite question.  At first, the question comes across as a bit offensive.  I mean if I’m at a party and someone I’m introduced to starts off the conversation with “what’s your story”, I’d start thinking of how to get leave the room without making a scene.  What’s my story, bud, what the hell is your story?!

But my defensive/aggressive nature aside, “what’s your story” is an invitation for you to describe your company and management team in the best possible light.  I mean, yes, it’s a bit demeaning in the sense that you’d like to think your company’s story is unique and shouldn’t be bucketed into a group of other relatable concepts.  But it’s also empowering and a chance to frame the debate.  Let me give you an example:

Here’s the KikScore unvarnished history: 5 nights and weekends entrepreneurs – mostly from the Midwest — with a product that helps promote a business’ reputation and trustworthiness.

Here’s what I say when I’m asked what KikScore’s “Story”:  KikScore is FaceBook meets Twitter meets Foursquare.  It was founded by 5 former British Royals and a reclusive vampire with extensive .Net coding experience. 

See how much better the second version of our “story” is?  Sometimes, when I’m asked the question, I start telling the story of my favorite Friends episode.  If they don’t like the joke, at least I get to remember Friends. 

So, dear readers, what’s your business’ story?  Make it good.

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Two Worlds Clashed and Delivered this Awesome Margarita Machine

Friday, March 18th, 2011

In one of the classic Seinfeld episodes, George Costanza doesn’t want his girlfriend to become chummy with his friends…as his worlds would collide and all would be lost.  Well, recently during some shopping tasks the online and offline shopping worlds have collided and I couldn’t be more excited. 

I could bore you with a story about how we saved some money on a recent home renovation purchase, but let’s get down to the brass tacks – thanks to the colliding worlds, I scored a very nice Jimmy Buffet Margaretville Fiji Series margarita machine. 

This baby does it all, margaritas, daiquiris, pina coladas and smoothies (who the hell cares about smoothies, but it is a feature, so I thought I’d mention it).  I’ve been coveting this beverage maker for a while – but it’s been a bit price prohibitive.  Something like $350 for a fancy blender that shaves ices didn’t seem like a prudent use of savings.

Then the world collision occurred…thanks to the ole’ iPad.  My wife was at a retail store and saw the gleaming beauty on the shelf…but with the same outrageous price.  However, she found it the store’s online store for $199.  Suddenly, margaritas at the dojomike household were flowing.

Let’s go over a few rules with this device:

  1.  Measure the amount of alcohol:  When you’re at home making margaritas, it’s easy to wing it.  Ok, that’s fine with the first pitcher.  But pitcher number two, your ability to wing it becomes clouded.
  2. Adding fruit improves the taste, but the alcohol level remains the same.
  3. The theory of the “ice will water down the alcohol” doesn’t work.

Now go out there let your worlds collide.  And while you’re out there, can you pick me up some lime juice?

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Internet Explorer 9 “Do Not Track” Security Feature…Will it Really Work?

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

I was reading this article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday when I realized that Microsoft released their new version of their uber popular Internet Explorer web browser which included the highly touted “Do Not Track” feature. The new feature is news-worthy for a few reasons in my opinion.  First of all, Internet Explorer is now the first major browser to include this type of feature in a major release of their we browser although Mozilla’s Firefox browser is said to include a similar feature in an upcoming release.

I think that this new “do not track” feature is also an interesting advancement because of how quickly Microsoft developed and included this functionality in a major release of their web browser.  This type of new feature only started making news a few months ago when a number of consumer privacy advocates started complaining about how so many websites, like Facebook and others, are now collecting personal information about people and their web browsing habits when they visit their websites.  Microsoft and Mozilla took these requests so seriously that they decided to include this feature in their next browser releases only a quarter later.  In my opinion these web browser companies decided to include this feature so quickly because they knew it was relatively easy to implement (in the way they have) and they also knew that this new feature would make big news and would therefore help market their new releases.

Finally, I think this new web browser feature is of note because of the way it has been implemented technically may not be very effective at doing exactly what it is meant for.  Basically, now when a person using Internet Explorer 9 browses to a web page that is trying to collect information about the person or their computer or their web browsing history it sends a series of “header” records to the requesting website indicating that the person requests that the information not be shared with anyone else or used for marketing purposes.  The only problem here is that there are no set standards around these “header” records and no major websites or eCommerce associations have acknowledged that they will accept or abide by these requests to not share the user’s data.  Inevitably, what will happen here is that Microsoft will start pointing the figure at the eCommerce sites that do not recognize these header records until they cave in and recognize them because Internet Explorer is the most used web browser in the world and nobody wants to fine themselves on the wrong side of this argument because their sites will be bad mouthed in the press and seen as non-consumer friendly.

In conclusion, I think this is definitely a step in the right direction by Microsoft but I am not sure that this is really the best or most effective way to go about it.  I guess if this is just the first step in the direction of better security for shopper’s personal information on the web then it is probably worth it and will probably get us where we want to go. 

What do you think about this new feature that Microsoft started offering yesterday in their new Internet Explorer 9?

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What our Business Blog is Learning from Charlie Sheen

Friday, March 11th, 2011

We’re a small group at KikScore and I’ll be the first to say that writing a blog post at the end of the day sometimes isn’t the first thing on my mind.  But every week we put out new content and (Raj) works the Tweet machine thingy every day.  We research topics, think of fun entries and find funny photos to associate with our content.

All of this has lead to a steadily growing readership and followers.  We’ve found integration partners and new customers.  Heck, the blog has been called out by the New York Times.  But let’s be honest.  Charlie Sheen got 1 million followers in 25 hours, and over 74,000 people want to be his intern.  Charlie Sheen is killing us in the use of Social Media.  His torpedoes of truth have hit our hull and unless we change course, we’ll sink.  We surrender, Charlie.  We’re now learning from your lead:

1.  Blog Drunk or Otherwise Be Wildly Entertaining:  I haven’t missed a single blog steam of Charlie’s.  Is it because I’m mad at CBS or the producers of Two and a Half Men?  No.  I hate all CBS comedies and that stupid show in particular.  Look, it’s a nerd and his fat son living with a swinging bachelor.  Hee-larious.  No.  The reason I watch is because I love seeing how irrational Charlie acts.  It’s a new car wreck each night. 

2.  Stick to a Theme:  Mr. Sheen is not waxing poetic about politics or international relations.  He has a very narrow focus…”Charlie Sheen” [read in strangely intense voice].  He owns that topic and lives in every nuance.  Just like the blog Calculated Risk owns Macro Economics, Charlie owns the effects of massive amounts of money and drugs on a coddled, half-wit celebrity.

3.  Less is more:  If Charlie sent constant updates about what was on his iPod right now, I would stop following him on Twitter.  No.  Charlie gives a random “Du-uh” and something odd about “Trolls” and “Warlocks” (by his usage I’m assuming Trolls are bad and Warlocks are good) and the readers eat it up. 

4.  It Doesn’t Hurt to Seem Completely Unstable:  Not a lot of analysis here.  Just stating the obvious.

 So look for KikScore to do some wildly erratic things in upcoming posts and then bask in a wave of undeserved or logical attention.  We’re counting on you, America.

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Know how many security threats there are for 2011?

Thursday, March 10th, 2011
Guess what, there’s five big ones. We knew that were plenty of threats last year and we probably expected the number of threats to grow. They have. Here are the top five for this year.

Mobile Apps:

Did you know that 85% of adults in the US own a mobile phone? ( I thought that this figure seemed a bit low…) [Turns out that 90% have access to a cellphone, but only 85% actually own one. ] Anyone hear the about the Trojan Droid Dream? No? Well what it did was gain root  access to sensitive information such as a device’s ID, model number etc… This meant that the software could take control of the devices and download things that you didn’t want on your computer. Luckily, Google remotely deleted the Trojan from user’s phones before it could do any damage.

However, malware isn’t just on official app stores. Outbreaks come from repackaged apps and alternative app stores.  Due to the increase in malware in smartphones, soon you might have to have two phones: one for work and one for personal use.  So how do you protect yourself? First, be careful about what apps you install. Do some research before you install an app. Does it have a reputation? What kind of reputation does it have? Etc…

Don’t forget to read the app’s list of permissions before you download. Does it make sense for this app to have access? See if you can uncheck unwanted permissions. Does that game really need access to your camera? (If you’re an Android user, Google makes it mandatory for the list of permissions to be there. If there’s antivirus apps for your smartphone, you might want to think about getting one.

Social Networks:

You’ve all heard about Social Network scams right? Good, then I don’t have to go into very much detail. One large thing to keep in  mind is that  using  your  Facebook account  information , criminals can actually go  and  burglarize your house .  So, don’t  click  on any  suspicious  links, be wary of claims you know to be untrue and again , read exactly what the app is asking permission for.

Antivirus Software :

Since more users have become  aware  of the need for antivirus software , these  scams have been  on the rise. The scam looks like a legitimate  piece of software  and  convinces the user that the computer  has on infection. Once the user pays for the software, the program has access to the users computer  and credit  card information .  NOT GOOD  What ca you do to protect yourself? First  make  sure  you are running a current security  program that is updated frequently and never download security  software  from a popup add.


Apparently PDF’s are one of the  potentially most dangerous file formats available. Why? It’s easy to conceal malicious content in the file.   PC World give you a link to the study…but, since it’s in a PDF format, I didn’t read it. 😀  So, be careful where you get your PDF”s from.  (My university uses PDF’s often, but I’m pretty sure that they’re not infected.) Remember to run and keep  your antivirus programs updated. Also, make sure to keep your PDF reader updated. Many of the updates have important fixes.

War Games or in other words, state sponsored malware attacks, industrial espionage, etc…

For the ordinary person they may not be a threat, but if you own manage security for a business you should be paying attention.  Hacking groups have attacked sites in Egypt and Libya in support of recent protests. The group has also leaked emails from a security researcher attempting to identify their members.  How do you protect your company from all this? First, monitor the network traffic and conduct regular reviews of employee data access privileges.

All of these threats may seem scary(they do to me), but they can be mitigated by being vigilant, keeping things updated and just using common sense.

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Google’s New Approach to Content: Maybe Our Blog Will Benefit

Friday, February 25th, 2011

This just in from Business Insider — the best business site around — Google just announced a massive change to it’s search algorithm.  And the impact is not slight.  It apparently will impact over 11% of all search results.  The big change is going after Content Farms. 

Google is going to downgrade sites that simply copy or syndicate content from other sites (or mass content providers like Demand Media).  Instead, Google is going to promote content that is original.  Well, this may be a big windfall to this KikScore blog.  We may not have the most helpful content, but it’s original.  Yes, no one helped me write this post, except maybe Business Insider.

Just a quick explanation on why Google is doing this:  Mass Content Providers (like Demand Media) figure out what the most lucrative keywords are; they create content around those keywords; associate that content around related or logical domains; and then sell Google adverts on those pages.  Not anymore.  Google is now going to determine if sites are legitimate and the content original and not a business ploy to generate the site owner Google ad revenue.

Now to start to create some worthwhile and original blog posts for KikScore.  Any suggestions, Business Insider?

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Microsoft seems to have an uphill climb with the Windows 7 glitch

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Ok, I think I did a post on the Window’s  7 phone a while back and apparently there is was a glitch. According to PC World,  there was a new software update that was buggy. The glitch caused a couple of Samsung headsets to be unusable from what I can gather. (Not quite sure what “bricked” means in slang terms…)

Anyway, Microsoft, like a good company, owned up to what it did and pulled the update.  However the glitch is glaringly public and has informed users of the OS that it involves more people than just Microsoft to update the phones. Some users who were affected by the glitch complained that the headset makers and their mobile carriers weren’t doing anything to help.  Many mobile carriers were apparently trying to avoid the issue by saying that it wasn’t their problem. For some mobile carriers, such as T-Mobile Uk, view the headset issue as the manufacturer’s problem and suggest that the user ship it to Samsung.

The number of users affected was limited because there was new firmware being phased in and not everyone got the approval for a new code at the same time.  The glitch comes at a somewhat sensitive time for Microsoft because currently Microsoft has only an approximate  2% of the  market. This seems reasonable, but compared with Google and Palm, it is a very low percentage of the market.

One bad glitch, alone, will not ruin Microsoft’s chance of success, but it might make the early adopters a little wary of getting the new OS. Also, very few consumers said they were considering buying the Windows Phone 7 handset, which makes it even more of a challenge for Microsoft to gain more market share. However on the bright side, Microsoft has made a deal with Nokia which may increase the OS’s visibility on the market.  However, if Microsoft has another bad glitch like this it may spell the end for Windows Phone 7.

What do you all think?

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Always feel like you are short on time? Maybe you should take a pay cut!

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

I was reading this post on the Wall Street Journal blog yesterday and it really made me think about how some people I know always seem to be stressed out.  After reading this blog and thinking about it a little bit, I really agreed that more often than not it seems like people that make more money in their day jobs seem more stressed out and are always saying they wish they had more time for their personal lives.  While there are likely multiple factors at play in these situations that are making these people feel like this, it seems like there are now a few different studies that are starting to link higher rates of pay to a perceived lack of time in their work and personal lives.

According to this post, there are now multiple studies that have compared a group of people that are paid very little for a day’s work and then another group of people that are paid a much higher hourly rate for the exact same work.  The results of these studies showed that the people that were paid a higher hourly wage felt much more time pressure than the group that was paid less.

I thought that these studies were interesting because they really seemed to show a tangible link between a person’s perception of their value relative to the amount they are paid to complete a task.  Sometimes people put this time pressure on themselves only because of their pay and not because the pressure to complete the task really exists.

Looking back on it now, have you ever felt like you put too much pressure on yourself to complete a task for your business when this pressure may have never really existed?

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My Diet Pepsi Could Give Me a Heart Attack or Stroke: When Your Product Gets a Little Bad Press

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Part of my morning routine is having Morning Joe on in the morning.  It’s a great mix of politics, policy, news and pop culture (this isn’t what this post is about, but if you can check out the show).  I was expecting to hear another news update on Egypt, the deficit, or a freak snow storm in Georgia (it’s a great show, but pretty predictable).

As I’m brushing my teeth, I hear Misha (Joe’s sidekick) talk about a recent study on how people who drink at least one diet soda each day double their risk for heart attack or stroke.  Not good.  I hammer down about 5-8 cans of Diet Pepsi or Diet Mountain Dew each day.  Math is not a strong suit, but by my calculations, I should be going through my 10th heart attack right about now.

With that news, I left my hotel room (I’m traveling, I’m not in a fight with my wife) and dedicated myself to making a change.  Herbal teas.  Spring water.  Fruit juices.  I’m going to be a new man.  By 11:00am (4 hours since hearing the study), I was opening my first of 3 Diet Pepsis.

Why did I change my tune?  Was the well articulated response from the beverage industry?  Did they put out a list of counter-arguments to the findings (i.e. that people that drink diet soda or more likely to be overweight and thus more likely to have a health problem)?  Nope.  Partly it’s because I have a problem and I love my morning soda.  But the other reason was the more I thought about the study, the more it kept raising the brand in my mind.  Diet Pepsi is bad for me… Diet Pepsi is bad for me….mmmm Diet Pepsi.

So keep this in mind when your product gets written up or criticized in a blog or something…there definitely will be loss of revenue, but to your die-hard customers, it will just be a reminder that they need another Diet Pepsi.

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