Thursday, 30 October 2014

Keep calm and well, keep calm?

There are a couple of quotes that I want to share today as they both seem very relevant in today's kneejerk, twitter shitstorm society.

I hate myself a little bit for using this image.


The first is by Stephen Fry

"It's now very common to hear people say, 'I'm rather offended by that.' As if that gives them certain rights. It's actually nothing more... than a whine. 'I find that offensive.' It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. 'I am offended by that.' Well, so fucking what."

The second is by Brian Cox

"The problem with today’s world is that everyone believes they have the right to express their opinion AND have others listen to it. The correct statement of individual rights is that everyone has the right to an opinion, but crucially, that opinion can be roundly ignored and even made fun of, particularly if it is demonstrably nonsense! "

Both are so apt these days as it seems every day the rod up the internet's collective arse gets a rod up its arse about something. Whether it be Judy Finnigan's opinion on whether Ched Evans rape conviction mean he should play football again, or all that collective bullshit about Gamergate. Who actually cares? Will it immediately or indirectly affect your quality of life? No. So shut the fuck up and go outside. Maybe lay off the coffee and daytime TV.

I despise posters telling me to "keep calm" but lately I think the constant reminders are need for keyboard warriors who feel the need to steamroller their beliefs and opinions onto others through threats and intimidation.



I may have some unpopular opinions and thoughts but I don't care if people don't agree. I'm very open to the idea that I'm wrong (I'm not). But I don't threaten strangers with rape or murder if they don't agree with me. That's just for my very dear friends.

Now calm down or you're all getting a time out.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

20 Observations About Ibiza

Not too much to rant about lately I'm afraid. Went on holiday to Ibiza, here's some thoughts, observations and musings:

1) Out of season there is nothing to do. Pack lots of books

2) Netflix won’t work. Subscribe to unblock-us.



3) BBC iPlayer won’t work. Seriously subscribe to unblock-us.

4) Don’t drink the tap water.



5) Seriously, don’t drink the tap water.



6) Liquido in Santa Eulalia del Rio claim to do the best cocktails in town. It’s true.

7) There is no one under 60.

8) The food was so disappointing I had a Burger King on the last day just so I could enjoy at least one meal.

9) If a waiter puts bread on your table, it’s not free.

10) If you’re a restaurant owner sitting in your establishment reading a menu all night will trick exactly no one into thinking you are a customer.

11) Ibiza old town is rather lovely.



12) The fort in Ibiza old town is woefully lacking in historical information. If you like reading a sign that says “machinery changed warfare” dozens of times you’ll love this.

13) Hotel duvets are disturbingly thin.

14) If you leave your towel on a sun lounger and don’t return to it within an hour, you should have your towel and possessions burned. It’s a dick move.



15) No one picks up their dog shit. What the fuck, Ibiza?

16) Ibiza airport is a cluster fuck. Board people by last row first. Otherwise it takes forever to get people on. It’s not difficult to do!

17) Mojitos should not be served in a tumbler.

18) October is still hot enough to sun bathe.

19) I still have no idea how a bidet works.



20) For the love of all that is good and holy, do not drink the God damned tap water.


Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Ebola

"Those who do not learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them" - George Santayana

This years doomsday bug is Ebola and the media is already whipping up a shit storm of panic and the ill informed are all doing what they do best, and me, I'm doing what I do best. Getting repetitive strain injury from rolling my eyes at how fucking stupid people are being.



We've seen this crap year in, year out. Bird flu, SARS, swine flu, foot and mouth. All massive overreactions and the death numbers pale in comparison to those who die every year from flu anyway.

Cut out and keep.


Can we not all as a society, just this once calm the fuck down and be logical? Just this one time?

I'd write a longer post but I need to deep heat and ice my eye balls.


Monday, 22 September 2014

Handling The Inept

We have all worked with someone who likes to shirk responsibility and deny accountability. Working for the Agency in Soho I have to deal with a client who is best described as an apprentice candidate reject. You know the type, churning out statements like “I don’t lose” or “I’m a born winner”. With their ill-conceived  confidence seeping out of their pores. This particular oxygen thief is 'Online Acquisitions Marketing Manager' for a credit history company and he is without a doubt the single most inept person working in digital marketing I have ever come across. (This includes the person who whilst I was training how to use Google Analytics, I had to help set up with a Gmail account.)



An example of how stupid this meat sack is; I sent him very basic instructions on where to find and how to install Adobe Report Builder (an Excel plugin), with a clear sentence stating “if the link doesn't work, type in the top left search box ‘report builder’”. He replied saying that the link didn't work, could I do it for him. (See email chain below)

Click to make larger.


Working with this exceptionally stupid person I have picked up some of his tricks to avoid responsibility and accountability which I shall translate for you now.

1) “It’s my understanding that”
“I have no understanding of this subject, but not knowing anything about something has never stopped me having an opinion before.” He uses this phrase a lot, it usually precedes something so spectacularly inaccurate that one winces when it hits the ears. It’s obvious this moron has been to a lot of marketing events and picked up a lot of buzz words that he likes to drop in his sentences because he likes to sound intelligent. He doesn't. He sounds like a turd.



2) “I’d like you to take ownership”
“I want you to do this for me.” He says this a lot. He’s online acquisition manager, yet he has another agency do all of his advertising, SEO, display and affiliate marketing, we do the analytics and strategy so it does beg the question; what the fuck does he actually do?

3) “I’d like to partner with you”
“I want you to do this for me”. Another sneaky way of him doing none to very little work. This variation means that he intends to take half or more of the credit for the work, if it goes his way.

4) “Could you run us through this”
“I didn't read it, I’m not going to read it. I want you to read it to me and explain it to me as simply as you can, possibly using sock puppets”. Sometimes working in digital you have to deal with some  long winded technical information. In this example I sent him a usability audit of their site. I proof read this document several times, sent it back to the author for revisions to make it more readable and easy to understand as I know he is a lazy son of a bitch and I wanted to remove all hurdles that could make him put it down and lose interest. I emailed it to him and waited for feedback. For two weeks. I chased and heard nothing. When he came in yesterday for a meeting I asked what he thought of it and it turned out he hadn't read it and wanted the author of the document to come in person to their offices and present it to them. Utterly infuriating and not going to happen, the author is in the USA.


I came across his LinkedIn profile and found the following listed under his current role:

Remit:
All Acquistion channels
User journey/conversion rates
Web Analytics
Budgets
Strategy

Of that rather detailed and impressive summary of his role let’s review what he actually does:

All Acquisition (I'll correct his spelling of the word here) channels – I thought your job title was Online Acquisition Manager. Are you claiming credit for offline too now?
User journey/conversion rates – Nope, afraid that’s me.
Web Analytics – Knock knock, me again.
Budgets – I’ll let you have that one as you do have to pay the agencies that do your work for you.
Strategy – If you had an original idea it would die of loneliness. We’ve come up with your entire roadmap for the next year.

I don’t understand how this dullard is employed as anything.

This all may seem rather personal and quite frankly it is. I suppose what I’m getting at is when I ask for more information when you send me an email saying “this doesn't look right” don’t copy in my manager, the senior partners of the agency saying questions like that “damage your credibility”. You fucking illiterate, unorganised, lazy, work shy, slopey-shouldered cunt.

I suppose I shouldn't get too worked up, he’s barely been in a role longer than 7 months so he’s long overdue a firing.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Why I’m Against Tag Management Solutions

Tag management solutions for those of us who are fortunate enough not to work in online marketing are sold to us as bits of software that enable us to make changes to our websites, particularly around tracking or adding plug ins for behind the scenes stuff. They do this by adding their code to your site, and you make the changes in their software rather than involving your IT department. Which historically has always been portrayed as a colossal ball ache.



For example if you're a web analyst like me, and some marketing time vampire wants to know what percentage of a page has been viewed. It’s not something we're currently tracking so I'd have to add it in the back end of the web analytics package, then make sure the code on the website was updated to marry the two bits of data together so it works in the shiny front end.

Typically I'd now have to involve IT or Web Development and get them to go into the website code, add it, test it and make it live. Some companies are larger than others and some have much more stringent policies on what goes live when. If your web team does releases in sprints, sometimes your small line of code can take a month or more to be added in. Nightmare right?

Which is the scare story a lot of TMS (Tag Management Solution) companies tell you to make you piss your collective marketing pants and buy their product. So that you don’t have to involve IT / Web Development and get on with your jobs. However in the last few months of working agency side with a TMS I can say that in my opinion they are a waste of time and another road block when things go wrong.

There have been more than a few instances here where something has gone horribly wrong and they've denied any responsibility for the problem, stating unequivocally that their tool was at fault and I’ve had to spend my time digging through change logs to prove it was. For example, I did some digging and noticed that the traffic coming in via organic search was less than 10 visitors a day. Which struck me as supremely odd when most companies I’ve worked at organic search traffic was at least 50% or higher. I reached out and was fobbed off, then I looked at the historical data and saw that search died the same day that the TMS was made live. Coincidence? Nope. Turns out that the TMS wasn’t firing any tags on a visitors first visit, thus losing all referral information.

Another instance was after they fixed that problem they changed the way the TMS works, this has since caused a number of tags to stop working, they are denying it’s them, the USA web development team have made no changes, the change log shows that the TMS changed the way it works on the exact date this custom data died and here I am waiting for them to come back to me writing a blog about how much I fucking hate Tag Management Solutions!

The best solution in my opinion is for businesses to encourage a much better working relationship between web development, IT and marketing. It’s 2014, it’s not 1974. Anyone who works in marketing will probably have been bombarded with presentations of marrying up their offline and online presences, synergising and other irritating corporate bullshit bingo buzzwords, (and if they haven’t been bombarded they’re probably the ones bombarding) but it’s becoming more and more apparent that the best way to do this is to actually do it!

Don’t buy some shitty solution that adds days and days to a potential resolution when it could be resolved by walking over to your trusty web developer chum and getting him to check the code. I think it's very necessary to define an internal process that allows your website to have smaller additions done outside of lengthy development cycles. And I’m sure that phrase has made more than one of my web developer friends testicles rise into their chests!


Monday, 8 September 2014

We all knew this was coming.

I’m sure a lot of some people have been wondering when I'd chime in about the Ice Bucket Challenge, so let's get it over and done with.



I run the risk of coming across like I think everyone is a moron for doing the Ice Bucket challenge. This isn’t true in any way. If people want to do it, that’s great. Charity as a concept is a good thing. My issue is the people that do these things like the Ice Bucket Challenge or the upcoming Movember and don't raise any money but do them just because everyone else is doing them and then play the 'awareness' card.

Doug Stanhope says something very funny about awareness in his Beer Hall Putsch show (I order you to watch it on Netflix)

Raising awareness is another form of doing nothing, raising awareness is me standing next to a drainage ditch where a guy just hit a goat with his moped on the highway and now they're in the ditch laying in the muck with compound fractures and the dude’s got a bone sticking through his leg and the fucking goats got a bone sticking through his fur, and they're laying there in agony, and I’m raising awareness by standing above them shouting down an empty highway “LOOK, LOOK, EEEW, LOOK EEEW!” and they're going “help” and I’m going “no, look I’m raising awareness

3min 52Seconds in.

I couldn't agree more, additionally Lance Storm posted a very interesting insight into this latest internet fad which I will yoink:

“The first flaw is that a lot of people taking up this challenge are just doing creative videos of themselves dumping water on their heads as a vanity project to get attention and pat themselves on the back for all the good they are doing, despite not donating a single penny. The excuse or denial here is “Well at least we are creating awareness, look at the national donations, they are way up”. Way to pass the buck. I’m sure your individual video was the one that made the difference. For those who did in fact donate or are pacified with the “I’ve created awareness” we then have the second flaw.

What is the ALSA doing with all of this money? The truth is the vast majority of the money you are donating is not going towards research and finding a cure for ALS. The numbers are disputed somewhat. I’ve heard people claim as low as 7% is going towards research and the ALSA claims that number is closer to 27%. Lets for the sake of convenience and benefit of the doubt, use 25%. Three quarters of the money you donate to help find a cure isn’t going where you want it to. Most of it is going towards “Awareness and Education”, which could be translated to be read “Advertising and Promotions” to ensure more money gets donated so they can again put only one quarter of it towards what they are claiming it’s for in their promotion and advertising. It is a deceitful cycle that keeps a lot of people employed earning great livings while delivering very little of the money donated to the cause they are promoting. To this we offer ourselves the excuse, “Well 25% is better than nothing, that is still a lot of money, and someone has to run these charities” To this I offer you the popular concept of cutting out the middle man. Why are we donating to these Charity groups that only deliver a small percentage of our donations to the research groups? Why not donate directly to the people that are actually doing the work, the people trying to discover treatments and cures?

This is the third and final flaw. The reason we don’t donate directly is because then we would discover that the portion of our donation that isn’t going towards salaries and advertising, that 25% that we think is actually doing good, is going into the pockets of Big Pharma. Yes the pharmaceutical companies are getting your money. You are giving your money to some of the biggest, richest, most profitable companies in the world. You are helping cover the cost of their research and development programs to allow them to make higher profits. You are not financing new research, this is research they are already doing. This is how they make their money after all. They create new drugs to treat diseases, and when they find a new treatment they patent it and sell it back to you at a huge profit.

Think about that for a minute. Millions upon millions of dollars are being GIVEN to a company to help find a cure or treatment of a disease and if they find a cure/treatment, the people you GAVE that money to will then patent that cure and sell it back to you at a huge profit. Wait…What…profit? I thought we donated to Charity, a non-profit organization. Oh right that’s another reason why we don’t donate directly to the people doing the research if we did they wouldn't be able to claim it as a non-profit or a charity, and they are creating these drugs with the sole intention of making profits, hundreds or millions of dollars in profits. Yes your good intentioned donations, or at least the part that isn’t going towards salaries and advertising, that huge 25% of it, is going towards increasing the profit margins of some of the richest most profitable companies in the world.

Doesn't that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.”

People doing these things blindly without question just because everyone else is doing it bothers me. I don't want to downplay the importance of the Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (this is what ALS stands for by the way and I'll bet most don't know that) The cause is important as are most causes to the people doing them but blindly following just bothers me.


Tuesday, 2 September 2014

My Take On The Celebrity Nude Photo Hacks

All over the news this week has been the revelation that some 100 or so female celebrities have had their private iCloud accounts hacked and nude photos leaked. There are a few things bothering me about this one so I'll try convey these in some logical order.

1) Celebrity Apologies
Some of the actresses involved have apologised for the photos in question even existing. I find this really backwards. It’s 2014, it’s not 1890 and we're not in Victorian England although the way the media goes on you'd think we were right in the middle of a glorious puritan utopia where no one ever does anything even remotely sexual and everyones pure Christian wholesome values are purer than the driven white snow. Bullshit. If anyone wants to share with their partner / casual sexual acquaintance / anyone they damn well choose a nude photo of themselves they are quite within their right to. For these celebrities to apologise for being naked I find abhorrent. Whilst I don't want to trivialise rape in any fashion, you don't see rape victims apologising for not putting up a better fight.

2) iCloud / Any online data hosting
If you can't 100% guarantee that some sweaty bedroom troll isn’t able to hack your services and plunder nude photos, credit card details or any other private personal information then you really shouldn't be in business and you're just as much to blame as aforementioned bedroom troll for the loss of peoples privacy.



3) Don't take any nude photos today.
A blog I follow and usually agree with posted this image:


To quote Dan Aykroyd; "Graham, you ignorant slut."


I take massive exception to this image. Why the hell shouldn't I take nude photos if I want to? If I want to send my partner a cheeky arse shot to remind him just how amazing it is why shouldn't I? Just because Apple / Insert Cloud provider name can't get their shit together or because some sad loser hacked a system? There is nothing wrong with expressing our sexuality or being sexual beings and shit like that image really don't help matters. I could go into the whole anti-rape nail polish but it's before 11am and I'm under caffeinated, the jist of it is would he like to produce a cut out and keep "Don't get raped today" card too?

4) Hackers
Isn't it kind of fucked up that you'd rather spend hundreds, maybe thousands of hours learning and refining your skills to hack into these massive companies so that you can steal nude photos? Whereas if you'd used that same amount of effort you could have become well read, developed social skills, hell even learned an instrument so that you can serenade your sweetheart (even a solid 3 who can sing / play guitar is bumped up to an 8) or learned enough about the human condition that you could have landed yourself someone rather lovely? But instead you've flushed that time and energy into something so sad and pathetic? Take a good long look in the mirror and ponder just how much of your life you have wasted.