Stage 17 of the Tour de France was touted as the killer stage, the one that contained four staggering Alpine climbs before shooting down to the valley village of Morzine. This, the experts said, would be the toughest stage, the place where the eventual winner of the three-week slog around France would be selected.

I wish there was a way to easily capture the drama of that stage and put it into perspective with other astonishing feats of atheletic prowess and human force of will, but I’m not a sportswriter and won’t try to pull out the purple adjectives and hackneyed cliches to persuade you of the magnificence of that day. If you have four hours and a friend who has Tivo’d it, watch it, there are few examples of individual heroism to compare with it.
It was a script too incredible for a movie, the set up too perfect to ever be believed, but in the end it was about head-down, teeth-gritting effort on the part of one man fighting the pack and the clock.

Floyd Landis may have just won the most dramatic Tour de France victory in decades, if not the history of the race. Devaluing that win because the pre-race favorites were taken out in a doping scandal, comparing it to Lance’s seven … none of it matters because of what Landis did over the week. He goes into it having announced that he needs an operation on his hip, most likely an artificial hip replacement, and that this could very well be his last time in the Tour if not on a race course. Then he gets the yellow jersey in the Pyrenees, loses it, and then regains it on the fabled climb of the Alpe d’Huez with 500,000 crazed fans there to see yet another American move closer to the podium.

The next day, disaster. Landis bonks and loses 11 minutes on the final climb, plummeting from first to 11th place, down by 8’08”, written off by nearly everyone, including myself, as a lost cause.

Then comes the morning of the 17th stage, the hardest stage, and Landis attacks from the beginning, using his Phonak team to hurt the rest of the peleton. He breaks away and chases the breakaway, catches them, doesn’t pause to rest, to but keeps on motoring away, tailed a lone rider who put on the most shameless display of wheel-sucking ever seen. Landis received no help and expected no help (cyclists form temporary alliances to help each other cut through the wind as 80% of their effort is expended overcoming wind resistance).

He finished the day by winning the stage, his first in the Tour, and only 30 seconds back from the yellow jersey in third place. He sealed the deal in the individual time trial and this morning rode into Paris triumphant. The French have adopted his as their own, for the simple reason that the Mennonite from Lancaster, PA displayed the thing they love the most — panache. I call it perservance. Floyd Landis just rode into the history books.

tecosystems: What Lenovo Should do with Linux


Steven O’Grady is putting an X60s ultraportable Thinkpad through its paces with an installation of Gentoo Linux. He blogs some good advice for us:

Q: What do you think Lenovo could do to better support users like you that want to run Linux?
A: There’s been a lot of press about Lenovo and its support or lackthereof for Linux in recent months – see CRN here or here. While I will not presume to speak for or on behalf of Lenovo in this context, as a user of desktop Linux I’ve been encouraged by Lenovo’s willingness to have a dialogue on the subject. Particularly when that dialogue results in me getting new hardware.But in all seriousness, based on the conversations that we’ve had and the fact that I’ve been given this machine for testing I’m relatively convinced that Lenovo does perceive in Linux an opportunity – and just as importantly, they’re willing to listen. What they’ll do with that remains to be seen, but I think a very nice start would be by assessing – via the community, if possible – the degree of Linux support for the various devices and peripherals, and delivering around that. It’s no secret that some hardware makers are serious about providing Linux drivers for their hardware (e.g. Intel), and some are much less so (e.g. ATI & Nvidia). It’d be nice to see a hardware manufacturer take that into account, centralize and make transparent the level of support available, then design a model or models accordingly. There’s a lot more that could be done, and we’re pushing in some other areas and trying to make certain conversations happen, but that’d be a great start.

Online/Print Revenue Crossover

Folio Magazine – Home

Is the crossover upon us? Is the magic moment when online revenues exceed print revenues inside an IT publisher’s P&L about to occur? Jim Spanfeller, ceo of said over a year ago that he expected Forbes’ online revenues to overtake print’s within 18 months. Now Folio magazine is reporting that the tech publishers are, at the very least, beginning to offset print revenue declines with torrid online growth. Still, we’re a ways away from a total flip.

“The amount of online revenue in absolute dollar terms is exceeding any decline in print although print has been a little healthier lately,” says [IDG’s] Carrigan. “Our online business in percentage terms is up 40 percent over the prior year and online is approaching 20 percent of our total U.S. revenues. It’s a substantial business and high-growth in absolute dollars.”

Important post by Rebecca MacKinnon on Chinese net censorship


I ran into the same phenomenon during my Beijing trip. Western hand-wringing over the Great Firewall is sometimes met with indifference or indignance:

“I’ve met with local Internet entrepreneurs, bloggers, Westerners doing business here in the Chinese Internet sector, some diplomats, and some low-level bureaucrats. I’m struck by the degree of disconnect between what the international human rights and free speech community is intending to do, and the way the criticisms of Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! are perceived here on the ground. While the leading international free speech and human rights activists view corporate collaboration in Chinese censorship as part of a global problem which will have a major impact on the future of the internet and free speech worldwide, most people in China who are aware of the issue see the debate mainly in terms of whether or not Internet companies should engage in China. They also see it as part of a larger political agenda to demonize China, or as an effort by Americans to tell the Chinese how to run their country. (See the essay by Chinese blogger Michael Anti, himself no fan of censorship being victim of it himself: “The freedom of Chinese netizens is not up to the Americans.”)


One day after blowing up badly, Floyd Landis pulls off one of the most heroic comebacks in cycling history, winning a tough Alpine stage and putting himself only 30 seconds off of the yellow jersey. He’s poised to win the entire tour in the time trial. I am beside myself waiting to watch the stage tonight on the tube.


“Floyd Landis hammers it top the finish, getting everything he can out of the bike. He clenches his fist in triumph. YES!!! What a brilliant ride.”

On blog monitoring …

I’ve developed a routine for scanning Blogistan for hits on keywords of interest. Technorati is my primary tool for ad hoc monitoring — I would dearly love an RSS feed of those searches — and when I am ultra paranoid or inquisitive I turn to Google Blog Search and Pubsub for a quick scan.

The company does subscribe to a blog monitoring service — I won’t disclose who — and they ping us when they detect a post of interest that may deserve a response. Surprisingly, a lot of “alerts” come from friends who happen upon items of interest to me. In fact, some of the more substantial interactions I’ve had with bloggers has not been due to tools or my own detection efforts, but from direct referrals.

I am beta testing an exciting tool — again, I won’t disclose the details — but in theory it should transform how corporate communications and customer service groups attack the monitoring issue.

The tough nut to crack is triage and multi-language monitoring. Technorati does a great job finding stuff — unfortunately I can only understand half of it, which means I need to find “watchers” in multiple languages to keep an eye on the buzz in Mandarin, French, whatever ….. Triage is knowing how to direct a detected post to the right owner inside of the organization … a tall order if you don’t have a lot of institutional knowledge and know precisely who is the person to deal with a specific complaint or issue.

While a lot of Naked Conversation type of discussion focused on how corporations should blog and comport themselves online, not a lot has been devoted to the monitor, detect, and react element of the equation. I suspect a lot of home grown systems — such as my own, are in deployment, a lot of accidental discovery occurs, and a lot of money is spent on professional monitors which may or may not detect issues soon enough.

The other thing I’ve been thinking about is using blog monitoring to establish a sentiment benchmark of positive or negative comments about a brand, product, or person. There has to be a simple way to rate blog posts and the subsequent comments on a happy or sad continuum.

This is the most demanding stuff in interactive marketing as it crosses a lot of departments, many of whom may not want to hear that there are issues being discussed out in the aether.

tecosystems: Meet Bishop [Linux on a X60s]

tecosystems: Meet Bishop

Stephen O’Grady at Redmonk is doing a Linux install on our hottest ultraportable — the X60s. I didn’t dare do my first Ubuntu build on my primary office machine due to Lotus Notes concerns, so I’m going to follow his smart commentary on how well the X60s does when put through its Linux paces. Stephen points to the Think Wiki, which is an excellent resource for Thinkpad owners looking for Linux info.

“I’ll have to put my more detailed review of the x60s off for a bit – particularly its Linux compatability – because at the moment I’m hung up with my installation of Gentoo Linux. First impressions were excellent but brief, because about 10 minutes after I first booted the machine I was shaving down the XP partition (using Acronis Disk Director) to carve out space for my Linux instance.”Installation from there went smoothly until I tried to boot into Linux for the first time and was unable to (the XP partition is just fine, and is there if I need it). Before anyone jumps to conclusions and decides either that x60’s are incompatible with Linux or that installing Linux on the desktop is hard, let me say that I’ve purposefully chosen one of the hardest installation procedures – a fully manual Gentoo setup. According to Thinkwiki, people have had little difficulty getting both SuSE 10.1 and Ubuntu Dapper set up on this model. While I may be forced into taking that route (I’ ve got Dapper downloading now just in case), I’m going to continue with my efforts to get Gentoo installed because that’s what I’m most comfortable with.

Floyd is back in yellow (correction: all done)

This crazy Tour de France just got crazy again as Floyd Landis regained the yellow jersey with a ten second lead over Oscar Peirero on the Alpe d’Huez. These are the final days and Floyd is positioned, in fairy tale fashion, to overcome a dead hip and finish a promising cycling career with the ultimate victory. Think the Euro riders will let him get away with it? Don’t count on it. Floyd is incredibly exposed as the rest of the peleton tries to break a seven-year American streak of victories and he doesn’t have many teammates left to support to him at the front of the pack. I hope my Tivo saved today’s stage, I know what I’ll be glued to on Thursday night.

Update 7.19 – Floyd is done. He finished today’s massive Alpine stage eight minutes back. He’s done. It’s Oscar Periero’s to lose now.

Scobleizer – Tech Geek Blogger » Matt Cutts, of Google, on metrics

Scobleizer – Tech Geek Blogger » Matt Cutts, of Google, on metrics
Scoble talks about metrics and their biases. His point on “influential” users versus inert users (my term) is well taken.

This is a real important point for marketers to understand. If you’re going to use metrics to make decisions you need to understand the biases those metrics have. Not to mention that an influential user (which is what weren’t being measured by the company Matt is talking about) is worth a LOT more than one who doesn’t tell anyone, or isn’t seen as an expert by his/her friends.

Speaking of which, I wish I had better metrics at I wish I knew how many listeners we REALLY have. Or, whether the people who download a file actually listen to it. Or, whether they listen to the whole file, or just part of it.

Podcasting and video podcasting won’t be taken seriously as businesses until we figure this stuff out. Advertisers want proof that their money is spent well.

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