Wednesday, August 27, 2008

From eBay to the Moon – they walk among us

Aliens? No. Lazy people – and not me on a football Sunday (Warning to my wife: 9/7 opens the regular season).

Ok, maybe lazy is too harsh based on how hard we all work, but the reality is that people continue to overlook the basic steps to keep data secure.

And with nearly 200M personal records lost globally in just the last two years (, somebody might want to get on that. The two most recent examples are circulating today:

1) Graham Cluley of Sophos (full disclosure, a CHEN client) today blogged on a Wired post about a piece of malware that made it all the way to the International Space Station – via NASA. And they admit it's not the first one to boldly go where few have gone before.

2) A (fortunately) good citizen alerted authorities to the fact that a computer he bought on eBay for $64 included highly sensitive personal information of more than 1M customers of the Royal Bank of Scotland, American Express and NatWest. Seems an archiving company employee had sold the PC on his own without erasing the data.

And from a purely business standpoint, recent Sophos research found 81% of business computers lacking the most basic protections such as updated antivirus, patches or desktop firewalls -- some intentionally disabled by users. So with all the gloom and doom about how advanced and stealthy attacks have become, and all not being what it seems on the Web, try this. Look over the cube wall or the conference room chair next to you. If you see really big ears and a may have found the most obvious security threat in the room…

Monday, August 25, 2008

Increase Your Karma – Help a Reporter Out!

Have you helped a reporter out today?

Help a Reporter Out, HARO for short, is a free service created by Geek Factory CEO and “Hot BloggerPeter Shankman.

Founded on the premise “everyone is an expert at something,” HARO allows reporters to send queries to an e-mail list of over 2,000 (and growing) potential sources, for free. E-mails are sent three times daily to HARO members. The e-mails usually begin with a witty intro by Peter and then queries from reporters, divided into easy to skim sections: Urgent, Business and Finance, Health/Fitness, General, Lifestyle and Entertainment, Technology and Travel.

Peter has just one rule for sources that join the list: stick to the query and don’t send reporters off-topic pitches. It’s a fairly easy rule to follow, but Peter has had to pull some from the list for breaking it.

HARO has gathered such a strong following of both reporters and sources that it’s beginning to make waves for its for-profit rival, Profnet. Evidence of this rivalry appeared in Peter’s introduction to the July 28 evening HARO e-mail, “Tonight's HARO is dedicated to an unnamed exec in PR Newswire's San Jose office, who emailed all of last week's HARO reporters and asked them to switch to Profnet to send out their queries. Well... I guess that's one way of doing it. I just kinda assumed that every reporter on HARO knew about Profnet, and chose to post their queries either on HARO alone, or both Profnet and HARO. I always thought it was about getting the reporter their leads in the best way possible, but heck, I'm up for the Pepsi Challenge! That would be fun! Which one provides better sources... I smell a Pay-Per-View event!!”

Check it out.

Reporters can sign up here. Sources can sign up here.

Friday, August 22, 2008

TimeDriver – Appointment Scheduling Solved

Full Disclosure: One of my clients, TimeTrade, created the product I’m about to endorse. I believe it will be a very useful tool, so I’m sharing it with you.

Do you have to schedule one-on-one appointments for your job? Get tired of back and forth e-mail trails and/or phone tag required for each appointment?

TimeDriver may be the solution to your problem.

TimeDriver is a free appointment invitation system. By embedding a "schedule now" button in email messages and on Web pages, you can drive more appointments with fewer hassles.

Check out the video review from David Strom of Web Informant, below.

TimeDriver general beta will go live on 8/25.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Robin Young Interviews Room to Read's John Wood

Ah...PR nirvana: the intersection of one of my favorite radio personalities (Robin Young from WBUR's Here and Now) and one of my favorite social entrepreneurs, John Wood, CEO of Room to Read. (You can read more about John here and here.)

I confess to being a WBUR junkie. On non-work days, I can easily listen to WBUR 10 hours a day as I roam about the house, run errands or putter in the garden. We staff the phones a few times a year when they're doing a fundraiser, so I've toured the station, and met a few of the folks who work there. Suffice it to say I could do one of those testimonials about why it's the most intelligent programming going.

So when I learned that John Wood would be in Boston in June, I started on a quest to secure interest with one of Robin Young's producers, having had luck with her show, "Here and Now," in the past. One of the nice reporters on the news side led me to a different producer this time, and I summed up John's compelling story, which more or less sells itself.

It's so fascinating to watch Robin conduct an interview, asking just the right follow-on questions to draw out her subject. And what is it about her voice? It's got the velvet of an aged cabernet, with just a bit of pepper at the right moments. (I asked my husband how he'd describe Robin Young's voice and he said: "At the risk of getting myself in trouble, it's sexy.") In a Boston Magazine article on "The 61 Best Things about Boston," the writer sums her up as "one of Boston's savviest and most likable journalists."

So imagine that perfect combination of this stellar interviewer with one of the most notable social entrepreneurs of our generation. Or better yet, don't imagine it - just listen here.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Forrester Awards - Get Your Social Networking Game On

The Forrester Groundswell Awards will once again recognize excellence in accomplishing business goals with social applications. You can check out last year's winners here.

Winners will be chosen across seven categories that Forrester sees as essential in using social technologies to interact with customers:
  • Listening
  • Talking
  • Energizing
  • Supporting
  • Embracing
  • Managing;
  • Social Impact
Winners will be honored at Forrester's Consumer Forum in Dallas, Oct. 28-29. The deadline for entries is Sept. 9. For more information, visit the website.

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Monday, August 04, 2008


Is it possible to create materials just as strong as plastics, but that are also biodegradable? This is the great garbage question – and all this time I thought it was who’s going to take it out! Who knew? Daniel H. Wilson, host of The History Channel’s new show The Works. During the show’s first episode, which aired July 24, Daniel dissects this question as part of a larger episode on the inner workings of Garbage.

Based on the concept that everyday life is actually made up of incredibly complex systems, The Works explores the history and intricacies behind a variety of topics usually taken for granted because of their seamless integration into our lives. Think steel, powertools, sneakers, and beer (well, maybe not beer).

Having just seen WALL-E – Pixar’s animated movie about a trash-compacting robot mistakenly left behind after mankind has abandoned Earth due to the amount of garbage that’s accumulated – you can imagine my simultaneous intrigue and trepidation about watching this particular episode. (Especially upon learning that many of the plush, green parks we enjoy are actually former landfills). The most astonishing fact of all, however, is that the world’s largest pile of trash is floating in the Pacific Ocean.

Labeled the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, this region covers an area over twice the size of Texas and contains over 100 million tons of free flowing trash, 90 percent of which is plastic. But, fear not, companies like our very own client, Novomer (one of the companies profiled in this episode), have currently found ways to turn pollution into biodegradable plastic.

Novomer is a materials company pioneering a family of high-performance, biodegradable plastics, polymers and other chemicals from renewable substances.

The company’s catalyst technology enables the production of polymers and plastics from renewable feedstocks, and the team envisions a day when they’ll be able to siphon carbon dioxide from smoke stacks to make commercial volumes of durable plastics that are able to decompose.

In the wake of such inventive green technology companies like Novomer are producing, I choose to remain hopeful about the state of our garbage-filled planet. But, if all else fails, I’m sure I could find some joy in cruising around on reclining chairs in space.