“We have a cross-stitch situation”

Barb called me about 10:20 yesterday morning to ask if I had heard anything about a hostage situation in the Governor Hotel in downtown Jefferson City. I did a quick Twitter search, found nothing, and posted a query at 10:23 a.m.


I headed back to the Missourinet newsroom where they had heard the same rumor. One of our reporters was in the area so that sent him to the scene to see what was going on.

I was monitoring Twitter and it quickly caught fire. Civilians and news organizations, everybody tweeting and retweeting any little bit of information. Most of which were rumors. “Shots fired!” (Didn’t happen)

Our reporter’s iPhone battery was running low so I grabbed a Fllp video camera and headed downtown but couldn’t get past the security perimeter. So I headed for the Coffee Zone which afforded a nice view of the (in)action. [link]

Spotted this guy on the way and posted image to my Posterous page where readers immediately pointed out the Missouri Highway Patrol patch on his sleeve (I thought he might be National Guard.

When I got to the Zone I discovered I didn’t bring my reading glasses which meant my iPhone was useless. Fortunately, I had left a pair of spare readers behind the counter a year or so back.

Helicopters, snipers on rooftops, lots of that yellow crime scene tape blocking off streets… and it turned out to be a false alarm. Somebody thought they heard an intercom announcement about a “hostage situation.”

This immediately lead to speculation about what the announcement might have really been. My favorite was posted by @MoRecord:

“Attention embroiders! Please remain on your sofa’s, we have a cross-stitch situation.”

Squirt icing in my mouth and I’ll cut your hair off

Joan is the Head Pastry Chef (and owner) of Chez Monet, next door to The Coffee Zone. She was working on what appeared to be a wedding cake today and I mimed squirting icing into my mouth. She said something to one of the ladies working with her and she came over with a pair of scissors and pretended to cut Joan’s hair. It was a fun moment, not completely ruined by my reflection in the window.

“Having fun trying new things”

That’s how my friend (and MD) Jeff describes my job. Today he invited me to speak to a group that goes by the nome de nerd, “Geek Salad.” They meet with some regularity but I’m unclear on their raison d’être:

My friend Steve Mays works for Learfield Communications in Jefferson City will present for 20 minutes or so on “Having fun trying new things”. Steve has the enviable job (IMHO) of evaluating new technologies for his organization. And he’s effective and productive! He holds court at the Coffee Zone in Jefferson City on High Street most AM’s.

Is that really my job? Is that anybody’s job? Let’s just pretend that it is. I’m looking forward to meeting these folks and sharing some of my favorite Gadgets & Apps.

UPDATE 9/1/09: Had coffee and nice chat with the Geek Salad gang this morning. Bunch of smart doctors and university types at University of Missouri.

Screen shot 2009-09-01 at Tue, Sep 1, 1.17.40 PM

Bringing consistency to state government websites

I recently learned of an ambitious undertaking involving the websites of some of the divisions of state government here in Missouri. The objective is to bring some consistency of design and how the information is organized.

tim-robynFor example, why not put the search box in the same place on each site? Or, when deciding on names for different kinds of content areas, use the name most common to the public, rather than some acronym known only to those within the division or agency.

The man responsible for overseeing this sisyphean task is Tim Robyn, Deputy for Web Presence with the state’s IT services division. We had a cup of Rocket Fuel here at the Coffee Zone yesterday and he talked about the program.

AUDIO: Interview 15 min MP3

The state of Missouri has dozens of websites but ten have been selected for this UI make-over. I forgot to ask Tim which ten but when I have that list, I’ll grab some screenshots so we can see a before-and-after.

PS: Tim has what might be the coolest title I’ve heard in a while.

UPDATE: The official State of Missouri site (below) and the MO Dept. of Agriculture were among the first to get the make-over’s. The Dept. of Insurance is up next, and offers a good “before” example. On deck: Revenue, Office of Administration, Economic Development, Labor and Industrial Relations, Mental Health, Natural Resources, Health, Social Services

I could be wrong, but the design below sure looks like a WordPress them to me.


The siren call of Posterous

The siren call of Posterous
I continue to be enamored with Posterous, the bare-bones blog service to which you post via email. So much so, I’m moving one of my Typepad blogs over.
My friend Taisir doesn’t have time (on inclination) to post to a traditional blog. With Posterous and his iPhone, he can update the blog with minimal effort. And Posterous did a pretty good job importing the the 160+ posts I had on Typepad.
Like tech columnist Andy Ihnatko, I’m boiling down my online life to my WordPress blog, Twitter and –now– Posterous.

I continue to be enamored with of Posterous, the bare-bones blog service to which you post via email. So much so, I’m moving one of my Typepad blogs over.

My friend Taisir doesn’t have time (on inclination) to post to a traditional blog. With Posterous and his iPhone, he can update the blog with minimal effort. And Posterous did a pretty good job importing the the 160+ posts I had on Typepad.

Like tech columnist Andy Ihnatko, I’m boiling down my online life to my WordPress blog, Twitter and –now– Posterous.

How far would you walk for a cup of Rocket Fuel?

5.1 miles according to Google Maps. And — as Google predicted– it took just about 1 hour and 40 minutes.

The battery on my 12 year old 4 Runner conked out Sunday evening. A neighbor jumped me and I dropped the car at the local Toyota dealer.  This morning I could have called someone for a lift to work but that would have meant missing my visit to the Coffee Zone.

So I set out on foot just before 6 a.m., with a sign taped to my back that read: “Latte for a ride.” I figured I’d get a ride in no time. Seriously, I thought it was cute (but later learned it was just creepy). I left just before 6 a.m.

Big strong men in pick-up trucks passed me by. They were either afraid of me or just didn’t give a shit.

90 minutes later I arrived at the Coffee Zone, sweaty with two quarter-sized blisters on the bottom of my feet. When the oil is all gone I’ll be able to ride a bike down the middle of the street.

Make me say, “Oooh!”

sue-oohClyde and Sue stopped by the Coffee Zone Saturday morning and Sue got a little help from George with her iPhone. There were a few basic tasks nobody had ever shown her how to do. As George explained these, Sue would periodically say, “Oooh!”

Clyde has a Blackberry, the device of choice among execs at our company. He loves the BB and it does everything he needs for it to do. And does it well. But it doesn’t make him say “Oooh!” And Clyde likes saying, “Oooh!”

I’ve never owned or used a Blackberry. When they came out, I was in my Don’t-Need-A-Mobile-Device phase. So, maybe when Blackberry fans get together somewhere, they talk about new apps and features and oooh all over each other. Just like we iPhoners.

And surely there are those who don’t “need” to say oooh. It’s all about business and communicating and getting things DONE. I call them Grown Ups.

Making it look easy

As I left the Coffee Zone today, I noticed Joan (?) in the window of the Chez Monet Bakery, getting ready to put icing on a cake. I whipped out the iPhone and recorded her deft moves. For use here I sped it up. If you’d like to see the real time version, it’s on my YouTube channel.

Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful

While flipping through the latest edition (were there previous editions?) of Jefferson City Magazine, I came across this ad for KRCG TV. Actually, it’s only half of the ad. I think the facing page had some news guys or something. But Marketing Consultant Kristi Gratz was clearly out front.


I don’t know Ms. Gratz but assume she is a very good Marketing Consultant or she would no be so featured. But this ad does not conjure up reams of ratings data and CPM charts. Frankly, Ms. Gratz looks hot. I don’t think that was her –or KCRG’s– intent, it’s just the filthy old horn dog in me.

jeffcitymagazineAnd if you imagined Jefferson City as some midwestern hayseed haven, take gander at the cover of Jefferson City Magazine. It would seem you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a babe or a hunk (and the occasional horn dog).

This cover has given me a great idea. Coffee Zone: The Ones To Watch. I don’t have time to lay it out tonight, but watch this space or YanisCoffeeZone.com later this week.

If you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to call KCRG regarding some spots promoting smays.com.

“Oh, hello. May I speak with Ms. Gratz, please? Yes, I need some marketing.”

World’s first Bluetooth webcam

webcam“The new Ecamm BT-1 combines high-quality video and sound with complete freedom from wires. The new webcam integrates advanced technologies to allow video and sound to be sent through the air to most any Mac. The BT-1 streams 640×480 H.264 video and AAC audio to video applications such as iChat and Skype, taking advantage of Mac OS X’s rich media capabilities to provide a seamless wireless webcam experience.”

This rascal is about half the size of an iPhone. As for video and audio quality? We’ll take her for a test-drive in the morning down at the Coffee Zone.