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Clippings from the BetterComms Garden – 11th Dec

Clippings from the BetterComms Garden – 11th Dec

by Lee Hopkins on December 11, 2006

in miscellaneous

These are a few of my favourite things today - Monday 11th Dec 2006

Just a few things I wanted to highlight today…

Firstly, despite my spontaneous, bleeding-edge nature I have decided to uninstall the trial version of Office 2007 and revert back to Office 2003. I’m not even sure I will upgrade when ’07 becomes commercially available early next year. The reason? Not the interface (although in PowerPoint the new interface can be confusing and counter-productive), but because of WOPR, a tool I use every day.

“WOPR?” I hear you cry, “what’s that?!?

WOPR is a Word add-on that I have been faithfully using since Office 97; it makes working with Word so much more pleasurable.

I don’t know if a version for ’07 will be released (there’s no hint on the WOPR website), but apart from the stupendous OneNote 2007 there is very little incentive for me to upgrade (and indeed Word 2007’s way of creating page numbers is annoying, clumsy, cumbersome to work around and doesn’t work with Acrobat). I may just fork out for a standalone version of OneNote…


The Beeb has an interesting take on remote access working: products that allow you to keep on working even if you are stranded at an airport, miles from your PC.

Michael Simons of LogMeIn says: “You may have a contract on a USB stick, you’re in an airport lounge and it doesn’t have Microsoft Word but you have it on your home or office computer. With our product you can simply plug the USB stick into the computer you’re sitting at and then use Word on the remote machine.” John Sequeira over at O’Reilly ran a review of LogMeIn nearly two years ago (see how easy it is to fall behind with technology?) and was generally positive, as were his commenters.

The Beeb also reports on the scrapping of the controversial Child Support Agency (CSA) in Britain and a website that will ‘name and shame’ absent parents – those parents who refuse to pay maintenance on their children. Privacy advocates are no doubt horrified, and as some commenters rightly point out, being ‘named’ on the website will no doubt be a ‘badge of honour’ for some.

Some interesting stats about the CSA: Set up in 1993 to ensure parents who do not live with their children pay for their upkeep; spends 70p to collect every £1 of child support; £3.5bn in payments not collected since 1993; reforms begun in 2003 cost £539m but scheme worked no better than predecessor; a third of non-resident parents pay nothing despite their maintenance being assessed. Source: National Audit Office, published June 2006.

I feel for lone parents, even more so for those who struggle financially when payments from their child’s other parent could alleviate some of the stress. But I’m not convinced a website is the answer…

And still staying with the Beeb, it’s run an interesting piece on the future of the print newspaper. As it says at the very end of the article:

These are scary times for newspapers and a crucial time for society.

A fully functioning media needs more than fast reacting rolling news, it also needs newspapers which spend more time chewing over what the news actually means.

There is a problem with free: it often comes unpackaged and without the know-how to understand it.

And thus enter the blogosphere: there are no shortage of pundits who are able to take the ‘long view’ and a give balanced view of ‘what it all means’. Just search Technorati for your topic of choice.


Scoble detests partial feeds as much as I do. Whilst I tolerate it on news sites, I really cannot be bothered with elsewhere. Scoble points off to a great analysis of the full-text versus partial-text debate by Amit Agarwal. In the analysis he outlines why he has moved from a solid two-year position of only providing partial text to now providing full feeds — the economic and ‘reach’ evidence are compelling.

The Washington PostAlso worth reading is The Washington Post’s blogger-focused ad program. As Amit says,

These are again very interesting times. Web companies likes Google are partnering with print newspapers to show ads offline and here, a traditional newspaper company is setting up space in the online advertising market.

I’ve never really read Amit before, but I’ve just added him to my blogroll after skimming through his blog…


In Women We Trust - book coverElizabeth Albrycht (always a great read) has reviewed the book In Women We Trust. Citing both personal evidence and stats presented in the book such as women make over 80% of all consumer products, own 45% of all US companies, and employ 18 million people, Elizabeth highlights the main message of the book — that marketing is a reciprocal arrangement.

That is, you cannot market ‘to’ a demographic anymore, you must engage and be prepared for a relationship. Otherwise ‘trust’, that vital ingredient for on-going business transactions, is going to be missing and your business will wither and die, or else burn itself out from trying to find endless new ‘one-off’ customers. Customers are now talking to each other to get recommendations (‘Word of Mouth’, nothing new here as any seasoned Network- or Multi-Level Marketer will attest) and not relying on the pronouncements made by companies in their ad copy.

It will be interesting to see what happens with Direct Marketing over the next few decades… How will DM practitioners build relationships based on reciprocity?


Trevor Cook reclining on the Aussie Futon of PRAnd on a final note, Trevor Cook has some mates (I am fortunate to count myself as one of them) and some of those mates (not me) are launching a new service shortly, called ‘Scouta’.

Says Trevor:

Perth blogger, and aspirant webpreneur, Richard Giles has asked me to spread the word; “We’ve also just added a email sign-up form on the website. We’re planning on running a private beta in the next few weeks, and so we’re looking for a bunch of people”. I’ve put my name on the list, should be fun.

I have too, although I have no idea what Scouta is about. Still, let’s support our compatriots-in-arms, eh?

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