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I’m a freelance interactive content strategist and copywriter in Austin, TX. See my work here.

I post about whatever geeky stuff interests me. Sometimes I post funny stuff that I make up. About once a week I post videos of my cat Yeti ignoring me. I welcome reader suggestions and feedback. I seldom get any.

Oh, yeah. I’m also the recording artist currently known as ManChildATX.

Friday
Nov212014

My cat Yeti not down with Uber's rumored cat slaughtering policy

Tuesday
Nov182014

Uber exec helps further define the brand

Buzzfeed: Uber Executive Suggests Digging Up Dirt on Journalists

Homeboy goes off at a swank, supposedly private dinner in New York, except no one told the BuzzFeed journalist in attendance—whose under table engorgement must’ve been considerable—that the dinner was off the record. 

In September I asked if Uber’s corporate tactics make it a big bully. 

Now it seems more like a psycho stalker. 

Tuesday
Nov182014

Selling Obsolescence: The Jitterbug Cellphone

Click for large print version you can see without your readers

I love these ads for the Jitterbug, like this one from the back cover of the NYT Book Review. They are pitched at aging boomers who find modern cellphones too complicated, hard to see and confusing to use.

Though it’s difficult to make out in the photo, the Jitterbug is nothing more than a Samsung flip phone. It’s the kind of phone that wireless carriers used to give you for free when you signed a two-year contract—like, about 10 years ago.

Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any product whose main selling point is that it is LESS capable than the competition. 

I love the headline—who are all these poor older folks tethered to phones they hate?

Also great are the potential objections used as bullet points in the copy: “I tried my sister’s cellphone… I couldn’t hear it.”

You can just hear the naggy, whiny tone of voice in these statements: “I had to get my son to program it.” “I’ll be paying for minutes I’ll never use!”

Not that these aren’t valid concerns for anyone to have, but reading the fine print, you could certainly argue that Jitterbug customers are paying more for less.

Fascinating business model.

Friday
Nov142014

Lolcat pundit explains the Democratic drubbing in mid-term elections

As good as any explanations I’ve heard:








Thursday
Nov132014

How to contact Ploom customer service about your Pax (hint: don't call me)

In the past couple of days I’ve received two phone calls from complete strangers seeking to contact Ploom, the company that makes the wonderful Pax vaporizer. Dudes, wrong number.

Ploom has FANTASTIC CUSTOMER SERVICE, but, like a lot of other online businesses, they do not offer a direct number for phone support. The two people who called me looked in vain on Ploom.com for a number to reach them. Failing to find one, they checked their search results and found my site, which up until this morning listed my phone number. I don’t exactly understand why they thought calling me would help them get in touch with Ploom, but I nevertheless had pleasant conversations with both callers, and assured them that if they got in touch with Ploom through the channels the company provides, they’d get a prompt response.

You can talk to a member of the “Ploominati” on the phone, but you have to arrange for them to call you by submitting a customer service request and setting an appointment.

But I’ve had wonderful luck getting help from them through both their online service request form and their online chat function. I recommend you do the same. 

But first, visit the Pax Vapor Tips & Getting Started page.
 

It will probably help you solve your problem without needing to contact Ploom. If not, you will find the “Start a Chat” link in the lower left hand corner. Chat services are available 11am-4pm Pacific time. If chat is not available, use the link below to submit an email requesting help. 

Ploom Online Service Request Form

Saturday
Nov082014

My cat Yeti can hear Fun Fun Fun Fest just fine, thanks

Friday
Nov072014

Get bowled over by Serial, a gripping new non-fiction podcast

 

Adnan Syed is serving a life sentence in a Maryland prison, convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, while both of them were teenagers in high school, in 1999. Syed has steadfastly maintained his innocence from the very beginning. He was convicted largely on the testimony of an acquaintance who claimed that he helped Syed dispose of the body. Did Syed really do it? Will a thorough reexamination of the evidence exonerate him or validate his conviction? That is the premise of Serial, a new weekly podcast from the makers of This American Life.

Serial is already the number one podcast in the country. It is insanely compelling. Producer and host Sarah Koenig says that each season of Serial will cover one non-fiction story, with as many weekly episodes as needed to cover it. And that’s part of what is so compelling about it. Not only do listeners not know where the story will end, neither does Koenig. The whole thing could end up as much of an ambiguous muddle as it was when the Serial team’s investigation started.

You can listen to episode 1 right here. Visit the Serial site to subscribe. And enjoy it while it’s free, because I have a very strong feeling Season 1 is our l’il taste. Serial is so good, I would pay to get more of it, and I suspect Season 2 will be offered under some kind of paid model.

 

 

Thursday
Nov062014

Need money for life's essentials? Download DoFor!

Tired of complaining that you work your ass off, but still don’t have enough money for decent food, shelter and clothing?

Meet DoFor! DoFor! is the revolutionary app for our times.

Even with full time employment, lots of us—well, lots of you—are still just barely hanging on.

The unique DoFor! algorithm is driven by the latest income inequality statistics. With DoFor! you can find people near you who are willing to give you cash for doing the things they just don’t want to. Like spending quality time with their model girlfriends. Driving their Maseratis so the engines stay lubed. Tasting their gourmet food for off notes that may (but probably don’t) indicate poison. Or even polishing their gold.

Just open the app, tap the map, and within minutes you’ll be matched with a CashTasker near you. But hurry! Whichever DoFor! gets there first gets the work—and the money!

Worry less about being evicted, malnourishing your children, walking with holes in your shoes, or going without heat in the winter—download DoFor! today!

 

Thursday
Nov062014

Got more money than time? Download DoFor!

Are you tired of complaining that you have more money than you need, but not enough time to wipe your own ass? Well, now you don’t have to complain! Or wipe your own ass, for that matter!

Meet DoFor! DoFor! is the revolutionary app for our times.

You’ve got plenty of money, it’s just that you don’t have enough time to enjoy the finer things in life, much less the drudgery of everyday living, like cleaning your house, shopping for groceries, nurturing your children, or, well, wiping your own ass.

The unique DoFor! algorithm is powered by up-to-the-minute income inequality statistics. With DoFor! you can find people near you who need cash and are willing to “DoFor!” it. Just open the app, tap the map, and within minutes you’ll have a DoFor at your door, and at your command.

We carefully vet all of our DoFors, so you’ll know you’ll get someone who knows how to step-and-fetch-it, pronto! To sign up, all DoFors must show proof of full time employment, a pay stub proving they make less than $100,000 per year, and a breakdown of annual expenses proving they are just barely hanging on.

You may wonder, how do our DoFors have the time to DoFor! you? They need the money, so they make the time!

Download DoFor!, and never wash your car, pay your bills, stand in line at the DMV, buy gifts for your spouse, give blood, clean your toilets—or wipe your own ass—again!

 

Monday
Nov032014

ManChildATX (hearts) Tribeza Magazine

SWEET! Thanks for helping me get the word out about the new ManChildATX record, Tribeza! You are my best friend!


Thursday
Oct302014

Halloween posts from my neighborhood listserv

HEELo nAYBOSR! DOES ANyONE HAVE A BLACK cAT BILLY CAN BORRO FOR HOWWOLEEN? HE WILL RETORN IT IN GoD CONDITION OR GET RID OF IT FOR YOU. YOUR CHOICE LEt ME KOW!!!—BERTHA ON HOLMES AVE

Fellow Ashtown Heights residents: Not trying to be alarmist, but just a reminder that every year thousands and thousands of children die right here in our neighborhood from gluten-laced Halloween candy. As an alternative, consider bringing your kids to the Fall Earth Spirits party at the Ashtown Heights Preschool Child Potential Center on Ashtown Way, where we will be handing out natural organic treats, such as red apple slices. Oh, and also, green apple slices. Yours in shielding children from real world experiences.—Ms. Srisatva, Preschool Director.

OK, NAYBORSS! I GIT IT! BILLY WILL RETURN thE BLaCK CAT WITHER YO WAnT IT BAC OR NO. i BET MOST OF YOU HATER S DoNT’ EVEN HAVE A BLACK CAT SO WHAT DO yOU CARE NOSEY PARKERs!!!!!!?????—BERtHA ON HOLMES AVE

This is my annual reminder to neighborhood parents that just because tomorrow night all of my exterior lights will be off, my house will be utterly devoid of any exterior holiday-themed decorations, my shades drawn and my house completely dark inside except for the glow of my TV DOES NOT mean I am running a Halloween “spook house.” And not to reopen old wounds, so to speak, but I’d remind everyone that I won a full acquittal in 1999, and was allowed to keep the shotgun. Fair warning.—Otto on Bark St.

Hi, everyone. Skip surprised me with front row tickets to Foo Fighters tomorrow, and he’s arranged a full-blown night on the town with a limo, dinner at La Tony’s before and a VIP table at Baccarat later. Any parents of youngsters out there mind taking Sasha and Julius trick-or-treating, and maybe keeping an eye on them until, oh, I don’t know, 1am or so? I’d gladly pay you. I’ve accumulated a ton of gift cards to the kind of chain restaurants that I’d never be caught dead in. Lemme know.—Janice on Moore La.

PS. It’d be great if you had a couple of extra little costumes.

NEvER MIND, NAYBORS. My HUbSAND SAYS HE’LL JUST TRAP A STRAY AND DIE IT BLACK.—BERTHA ON HOLMES AVE

Thursday
Oct232014

Yeti the Siamese cat can't choose favorite affectionate nickname

Wednesday
Oct222014

Clay Cooley badly wants me to visit his Nissan showroom

The mailman brought me the latest direct mail come-on from Clay Cooley Nissan, and it’s a doozy!

It’s another “match the number in our showroom and you win a prize” sweepstakes. And look, it came with a secret Combination Box™, a little plastic box booger-glued to the side. I bet the mailman hates Clay Cooley days.

Back to the Box™ in a minute. First, let’s see what I have to do to qualify for a prize:

Oh, man! What are the odds the number under the scratch-off patch AND the number in the Combination Box™ are going to match 83329? Let’s see. First the scratch-off:

Dude! I’m almost there. But what about the Combination Box™?

Lookin’ good so far. It could be, it might be…

It is! Another match! Wow, how lucky can I get? Who’d a thunk? But wait, the real mystery is not what appears on the front of the Combination Box™. The real mystery is what appears on the back of the Combination Box™:

The Combination Box™ is a “digital electronic device?” WTF?!

I guess I’ll just have to visit Clay Cooley Nissan to see if somehow, someway the three identical numbers on my mailer match one of the numbers on Clay’s prize board. And also to ask about the electronic capabilities of the Combination Box™ that I am apparently missing. 

Be seein’ ya soon, Clay!

 

Friday
Oct172014

The manifold joys of the enormous Uline catalog

I don’t remember when I became aware of Uline, the self-styled “leading distributor of shipping, industrial and packaging materials to businesses throughout North America,” but it wasn’t all that long ago.

But I recently made a minor purchase or two from them, and now I am on their mailing list. And I am infatuated with their 627 page catalog (subscribe here), which is full of esoteric items I don’t understand, would never use, but covet nonetheless. If your business does shipping, warehousing, packaging, retailing, materials handling or any other semi-industrial task, OMG, is this catalog chock full of treasures for you! Let’s take a look, shall we? 

First of all, the cover is a paragon of attractive, simple, candy-colored design:

Now, about those esoteric items. So you say you’re tired of your bollards going sleeveless? Sleeve them shits, homie:

You’re sackin’ lots of material and sealing the bags is no cinch? Go whole hog ring:

Oily rags. Your mother warned you about ‘em, my mother warned me about ‘em. How much damage do fires caused by oily rags do every year? Millions of dollars worth! Because people have never had a place to stick ‘em! Until now:

The professional eyewash station cognoscenti don’t say, “Give me a top-of-the-line, best-in-class, leading edge, fully OSHA compliant, no-plumbing-needed eyewash station.” No, they have a shorthand for that. They just say, “Motherfucker, I want a Fendall™ 2000!”

OK, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, wow, that’s great that Uline has all that stuff, but what does Uline have for the Tuscan smoker? A POLE, that’s what! Just for Tuscan smokers! Unbelieves! 

Sick of posers trying to front their way into your spot, but not quite ready to get rough with them? Control those fools and keep them up outta there with some plush class:

Those anguished cries of, “Where’s my tape?! I can’t find my tape!”??? They’re a thing of the past, mofo. Put some conspicuity to that shit:

Your foam is too simple, son!

I’m not too sexy for my zebra snap-blade knife, my zebra snap-blade knife is too sexy for me:

And that’s just a tiny fraction of the stuff I found to highlight. Catalog rating: delightful

Wednesday
Oct152014

You'll never make sandwiches in this town again, kid.

 

If you’re considering working at a Jimmy John’s sandwich shop, you may want to read the fine print on your job application.
A Jimmy John’s employment agreement provided to The Huffington Post includes a “non-competition” clause that’s surprising in its breadth. Noncompete agreements are typically reserved for managers or employees who could clearly exploit a business’s inside information by jumping to a competitor. But at Jimmy John’s, the agreement apparently applies to low-wage sandwich makers and delivery drivers, too.
Huffington Post

“Hi, welcome to Subs ‘n Such. What can I make you today?”

“I’m looking for a Randy Todd Coleman.”

“That’s me. And you are?”

“I’m the guy who is serving you with a lawsuit. Here, take this.”

“A lawsuit?! For what?”

“Didn’t you briefly work at the Jimmy John’s restaurant about a mile and a half from here?”

“Yeah, but that place sucked. They made me wear a hair net and wash my hands all the time.”

“Well, they are suing you because you signed a non-compete agreement. You pledged that for at least two years after you left the place you wouldn’t work in a, and I quote, ‘restaurant, establishment, snack bar, food cart or any other entity, whether for-profit or not-for-profit, engaged in the purveyance of food items served between two or more pieces of grain-based baked goods, to wit, sandwiches.’”

“Aw, are you kidding me? Those bastards. They can’t do that!”

“Well, they did it. And you signed it.”

“I didn’t know what I was signing!”

“Signing it without understanding it is not only NOT a mitigating factor, it’s exactly what Jimmy John’s hopes all their employees will do.”

“Well, screw those Jimmy John’s guys! I’ll counter-sue!”

“No, you won’t.”

“Yes, I will! My girlfriend’s dad’s a lawyer.”

“Then he’ll be able to explain to you about the binding mediation clause you also signed, waiving your right to sue Jimmy John’s. In perpetuity. For anything.”  

“Well, what recourse do I have then?”

“You can bring your case to a mediator, but it has to be a mediator Jimmy John’s approves of.”

“And who would that be?”

“Usually, it’s the owner of the franchise where the disgruntled employee worked.”

“That’s not fair!”

“I didn’t say ‘fair mediation,’ I said ‘binding mediation.’”

“Oh, man. This sucks. Listen, I gotta get back to work. Do you want a sandwich or not?”

“That depends.”

“On what?”

“Did you wash your hands?”

 

Thursday
Oct092014

My cat Yeti knows where I got Ebola

Wednesday
Oct082014

Amazon pimpin': Philips Sonicare HX9332/05 DiamondClean Toothbrush

Click to view product on Amazon.com

I went to the dentist a while back, and it had been some time since my last cleaning. Though I am a dedicated flosser (at least once and usually twice a day), I always build up a lot of dental placque, and the hygienist has to use the deep scaling device on me, which is never fun. During the consultation, I asked the dentist and hygienist if there was anything I could do to prevent so much placque building up between visits, and they both said, simultaneously, “Get a Sonicaire toothbrush.” They said they notice a marked difference with patients who use them. (And, btw, no, the dentist’s office did not sell them, so it’s not like they take a cut.)

So the one below is the kit I bought. I just got it yesterday, and I have high hopes it’ll keep me away from the scaling tool. 

Note: I try to offset my expenses for this site through Amazon affiliate links. I only pimp items on Amazon that I’ve actually purchased and used. 

 

Wednesday
Oct082014

Austin Skyline, as seen by mega-festival poster artists

click for more biggerOne of these images is from the ACL festival site, the other from the Circuit of the Americas Fan Fest site. Looks to me like C3 Presents and Transmission Events used the same poster artist, or their separate poster artists used the same twee icon set. Either way, IMO, this faux Chris Ware look is nearing it’s sell-by date. 

 

Tuesday
Oct072014

Choosing up sides in the HP breakup

“All right,” the CEO began, “Stevens, Porter, we’ve asked you here because we, the board, here, and I, have decided to split the company into two teams. We feel that this will help each team be better able to compete in today’s marketplace. We’ve chosen you two to run the teams. Today, we’re going to ask you to put together these teams from the 20 or so separate HP business units, just as if you are choosing up sides for a sandlot football game. Do you understand?”

Stevens and Porter nodded yes, they understood. The CEO flipped a coin, Porter called heads; the coin came up tails.

“Stevens, you pick first.”

“I’ll take ink and toner.”

From a big whiteboard covered in such signs, the CEO took a magnetic sign with the ink and toner division logo on it and passed it to Stevens. “Very well. Now, Porter, your turn to choose.”

“I’ll take business laptops.”

The Chairman handed Porter his sign. “OK, Stevens?”

“What?”

“It’s your turn to pick again.”

“I pass.”

The CEO and Porter looked confused. “What do you mean, you pass?” the CEO asked.

“I’m good here. Ink and toner. That’s my team.”

“Damn, I wish I would’ve won that coin flip,” Porter muttered under his breath.

“But see here,” the CEO sputtered, “there are 18 other division-sized business units that remain unchosen.”

“Yeah, he can have all the rest of ‘em,” Stevens said, inspecting his cuticles.

“But you can’t possibly compete with just the ink and toner division.”

“Why not?”

“Because… because…” The CEO knew there was a reason. “Well, look, you’ve at least gotta take one of the printer divisions.”

“I don’t want ‘em. Too much overhead. Too many model changes.”

“But they make the printers your ink and toner go in.”

“Good for them. They can make the razors, I’ll sell the blades. I’m good with that.”

“But don’t you think you’ll be at a disadvantage? I mean, look at Porter. He’ll have 19 divisions versus your one.”

“Great!”

“But we can’t let you get into the game so terribly undermanned. Tell you what, why don’t you take enterprise servers?”

“Uh, no way.”

“Why not?”

“Three words: big, dumb and slow.”

“OK, well, what about the handset division?”

“Do we still have a handset division?”

“Fair question. Then what about business desktops?”

“No way. I’m in this to win, not nurse along a bunch of moribund mopes.”

The CEO was at a loss. He briefly conferred with the board. When he turned back, he saw that Stevens and Porter were shaking hands.

“What’s this then? You’ve decided to stick with the teams as they are?”

“Actually,” Porter said, “I quit.”

“You quit,” the CEO repeated, stunned. “But who will run this team with 19 of our biggest divisions?”

“I don’t know. But I just agreed in principle to be an assistant coach for HP Ink and Toner.”

“What?” the CEO sputtered. “But why?”

Porter shrugged. “Hey, go with a winner.”

“Now if you’ll excuse us,” Stevens said, “we have some money to make.”

The CEO turned and looked at the white board displaying the remaining 19 business units. None of them were ink and toner. Then he noticed the board members glowering at him.

“Ah, shit,” he said.

 

Thursday
Oct022014

My Cat Yeti Considers Top Job at the U.S. Secret Service