wHy ThE cApiTaLiZaTiOn Of EvErY oThEr LeTtEr?

DiItAl cOnFrEnCeS

I don’t get it. Where did this idiotic affectation begin? Is this some stupid bleedover from the gamer subculture? “wOOt!” “pWnEd!”

I know every generation resorts to slang and obscurity to differentiate itself, but the retards who capitalize every other letter need to hang it up.

Some digging has yielded the information that this practice is known as “Studlycaps” or “camel caps” From the Wikipedia:

“According to the Jargon File “ThE oRigiN and SigNificaNce of thIs pRacTicE iS oBscuRe.” it appears to have been popularized among adolescent users during the BBS and early WWW eras of online culture, as a form of rebellion against the rules for proper capitalization of names and sentences. Unlike the use of all lowercase letters, which suggests laziness or efficiency as a motivation, StudlyCaps requires additional effort to type, either holding and releasing the Shift key with one hand while hunting-and-pecking, or alternately pressing one Shift key or the other while touch typing. The iNiQUITY BBS software based on Renegade had a feature to support this automatically.”

Holidays and other issues with brightwork

It only took two weekends, but my sailboat is painted and awaiting its launching on the next high tide. It is impressive to be afloat a week before the Fourth of July — something got into me last weekend — perhaps the sight of four idle youths with strong backs and their stupidity ability to lug the 520-pound, 14-foot boat out of the dirt-floored lean-to into the cement floored car garage without requiring more than a lot of barked orders from weak-backed me — or maybe it was the simple, mindless pleasure of scraping, sanding, priming and painting that has been my June ritual since the age of 11.

Communing with the old boat is as close to ancestor worship as it gets in my world. The boat was built sixty years ago by my grandfather, rescued from the dump from me in 2000, and restored in the spring of 2001 by Ned Crosby thanks to some dot.bomb profits I locked in before the bottom fell out (BRCM), and she is now sailed by me on weekends in a couple club races but mainly lazy day sails around the bay with a kid or two to keep me company. I hung up the big racing pants ten years ago, pissed off at my peers who were engaged in an arms war of exotic materials and go-fast tricks more in keeping with Larry Ellison than an ancient fleet of cedar skiffs. That and a temper tantrum on my part where I called the sister of a good friend a very, very bad word.
I love boat work. It starts with a sweeping with an old fox-tail broom, then a quick pass with the shop vac. I always begin with the boat right-side up on the saw horses, beginning inside the cockpit and then moving my way outwards to the combing, the deck, the rub rail and the hull, saving the bottom until phase two when the boat is flipped and left upside down. I use an oscillating sander with 120 grit discs, bearing down oh-so lightly so only a bit of old paint is scoured. I then wipe the paint dust off with a rag soaked in denatured alcohol, and go at the loose paint with a sharp scraper, feathering again with a palm sander and more 120 grit paper until the cracks and blisters are smoothed out and left bare.

The fun part, an act I couldn’t have attempted twenty years ago, is what my plastic surgeon and goomba buddy Dr. Dan calls “boat dentistry.” The problem with old boats of a certain vintage was they were nailed or screwed together with galvanized iron fittings. Iron is death to wood, and the rust causes a gradual rot that turns the surrounding wood into powder. In the old days, one denied iron sickness and tried to encapsulate it with nasty two part epoxies like Marine-Tex or Gluvit. That only postponed the inevitable, a massive restoration project costing thousands of dollars.

When I had Number 19 restored, Ned Crosby left a lot of iron behind in the lower strake, or plank, where it met the old cedar planked bottom. He replaced that old-school bottom with a sheet of marine plywood, but the iron remained in the original hull, weeping out red tears of corrosion through the summer. Now I go after the stuff at the rate of a few pieces per year, using a Dremel tool with a rasp bit like a dentist going after a cavity.

The only reason I can safely chew away at an antique sailboat with a power tool is thanks to the Gougeon Brothers of Michigan. These guys are the pioneers of the WEST System, an epoxy concoction which makes wooden boat construction and maintenance as simple as working with Fiberglas. The WEST System has sparked an amazing renaissance in classic woodenboat construction and restoration, and I am a total convert.

With Dremel in hand, I thoroughly remove all suspect boat from a rotten patch, usually finding an iron boat nail in the middle of it. I swap the rasp bit with a cutting wheel and cut the nail out. Then I get an old tomato sauce can, pump in a dozen squirts of epoxy, an equal number of squirts of hardener, and then, to give it some consistency, mix in a fine powder called “microballoons” until the stuff is as thick as creamy peanut butter.

Then I trowel the mixture into the cavity, carefully packing it in to get any air bubbles out, and then seal the whole thing down with a few strips of clear plastic packing tape. 24-hours later, off comes the tape, out comes the 80-grit sandpaper, and in ten minutes I have a perfect patch stronger than the original white Atlantic cedar.

After I cure the boat cancer and am sure I have no more sanding to do, I re-sweep and vacuum, do another alcohol rub down, then turn to the paint. Marine paint is horribly expensive ($80 a quart for antifouling bottom paint, $40 for topside enamel, $40 for varnish), and very difficult stuff to work with. This is paint that rewards careful reading of the label. What I’ve learned over the years about marine paint:

  • Thin it.
  • Use a closed foam roller
  • Brush out bubbles with a high quality brush
  • Always paint with a tack cloth soaked in thinner in your pocket
  • Wear expendable clothing
  • Do it on dry, sunny days with little to no wind
  • Don’t paint after 3 pm (evening condensation/dew is a killer)
  • Never paint at night under lights (attracts bugs, nothing like a moth landing in a perfect topside job to ruin the day)
  • Two coats are better than one.
  • Vertical surfaces always sag
  • Regular, less expensive enamels don’t get the job done

I paint from the inside out, starting with the centerboard trunk, moving to the floor, then the insides of gunwales. I re-thin the interior paint until it is the consistency of water, then put a light wash on the canvas deck. Unthinned paint fills the warp and woof of the canvas, defeating the purpose of having a rough surface with some traction. There are years when I skip the deck paint altogether if the prior year’s coat is holding up. Then I move to varnish.

Varnish is nasty stuff. One, it is clear, so you have to have great light to find the “holidays” — that’s salty Cape Codder talk for the spots you miss. It drove me insane as a kid to have old timers come by and point out the “holidays” (pronounded “halladays”). Varnish also sags, is completely temperamental, and likes to trap bugs like amber. You never know how good (or bad) a job you’ve done until the spars and brightwork are out in the bright sunshine.

The hardest part of the entire process is the painting of the boottop — the fancy stripe along the waterline. Most people go without, not me. The color scheme of the boat, green hull, yellow boot top, white bottom, is a variation of the classic Churbuck color scheme found on the original family boat, the Snafu II (seen on the homepage of Churbuck.com), yellow hull, green boottop, white bottom. Painting this line is a three hour affair of masking tape, fine brush, tack rag and a good radio station.

I’ll try to launch later this week, most likely on the weekend. Then comes the fun step of rigging the boat and getting it tuned up for the racing season. The sad part is the boat will never look better than it does right now on the sawhorses. Another month and the rust will start, and the slime and barnacles will start to foul the bottom and the sand will get tracked into the cockpit and the seagulls will poop on the deck ….

New Diet Drug: Accidents May Happen

New Diet Drug: Accidents May Happen – Newsweek Health – MSNBC.com

“GlaxoSmithKline has a tip for people who decide to try Alli, the over-the-counter weight-loss drug it is launching with a multimillion-dollar advertising blitz—keep an extra pair of pants handy. That’s because Alli, a lower-dose version of the prescription drug Xenical, could (cue the late-night talk-show hosts) make you soil your pants. But while Alli’s most troublesome side effect, anal leakage, is sure to be good for a few laughs, millions of people who are desperate to take off weight may still decide the threat of an accident is worth it.”

Nice. Take an over-the-counter pill that blocks the absorption of fat and sends it along to its ultimate end.

A pyramid scheme proposal

Background: Lenovo has a limited edition, 15th Anniversary product called the ThinkPad Reserve Edition. It’s a good looking, $5,000 ultraportable notebook wrapped in nice leather. It also comes with a white-glove service plan that the Fake Steve Jobs said included ninjas jumping out of helicopters (it doesn’t).

I personally can’t afford a TPRE, but I have been given 20 access codes so the right people can reserve one when they go on sale later this summer. There’s an internal competition for bragging rights to see which person inside the company can build the biggest network through the “refer a friend” function at thinkpadreserve.com

Now, as the only exec at Lenovo with a blog, and being the dude concerned with word of mouth, and viral, and the usual Marketing Jedi Mind Tricks, I have some serious reputation at stake here.

So, here’s the challenge. Help me figure out how to disperse my 20 passcodes so they go forth and multiply into an immense network of potential ThinkPad Reserve Edition buyers.

I am considering:

  1. A blog competition (prize to be determined)
  2. Auctioning the codes on eBay the way some people auctioned GMail invites
  3. Taking my codes to my old private banking buddies in Zurich and Geneva and proposing they give TPRE’s to clients.

Any other bright ideas? If you want a code, ping me.

[update 6.22] Uncle Fester ridiculed the eBay notion, so I ended that auction early, especially when he compared my stupidity to the evil CueCat. Aunt Esther suggests a celebrity auction … me, I want to sell all 5,000 ASAP like the time I sold more fudge than anyone else in Pack 52 of the Georgetown, MA Cub Scouts and won the blue Boys Scouts of America pen and pencil set]

Best Engineered Campaign – The Ultimate Spill Test

Inside the Box » Blog Archive » Best Engineered Campaign – The Ultimate Spill Test

Very interesting to look at comments on the Lenovo ad campaign and realize people are sometimes unwilling suspend belief on what they see — probably due to years of being conditioned by the PC industry to take the advertising at face value around Speeds and Feeds. One commenter on a popular blog said he felt this campaign was no more off-target than men being chased by frantic women in the Axe ads. I dunno about that.

Anyway, a lot of initial reaction was around disclaimers. Matt Kohut at Lenovo’s Inside the Box delivers a great one:

“They talked about dropping a system into a bathtub the night before to try it out, but no one wanted to stick their hand in the tub. They went back and forth saying You do it. No, YOU do it. I’m not sure that they ever did the test, but just went ahead and showed up at NASA and dropped the system into the tank. The result is what you see here.Oh, and the system lasted for 3 seconds. Longer than I think I would have expected it to.”

Case Study: Accelerade® 24-Hour Endurance Run

Accelerade® 24-Hour Endurance Run


“To kick off the national launch of Accelerade, Dean Karnazes will aim high. On June 21, his goal will be to break the world record for a 24-hour distance run on a treadmill (currently set at 153.76 miles) as well as to raise awareness for Athletes for a Cure, an organization dedicated to finding a cure for prostate cancer. The treadmill will be located on a platform attached to the Reuters building in Times Square.”

A rich media ad on some random website caught my eye this morning. A long range view of a man running on a treadmill on a balcony overlooking New York’s Times Square. I clicked through and found this interesting combination of:

  • Live webcam technology tied to rich media banner/display advertising trafficked through multiple sites
  • Smart viral/public campaign strategy hinging on a “stunt”
  • One day stunt — will be interesting to see how Accelerade follows through with this as part of an ongoing campaign.


The dumbest Internet business plan (okay, there are no superlatives when it comes to “dumbest” and “Internet”) that keeps coming around like a bad boomerang to whack me in the head is the notion of a “members-only” community for

Having done my utmost to sink my career with a two-year stint running a closed-network for rich people (and their bankers) out of a bad suburb of Zurich (in an office that looked like Darth Vader’s helmet), and having been pummeled ever-since by headhunters trying to lure me back into running some closed cluster$%# of a site, usually in desperation to salvage the investor’s money because, whoa, no one is using it ……

So it struck me today while getting my daily LinkedIn invitation that there is both an irony and a rule of thumb emerging from the “social business network” which anybody can join.

1. LinkedIn has this “group” concept. Example, a group could be alumni of a specific company, college, organization etc.. You somehow are invited to join this group, or are automatically elected into the group, I dunno, but there is a ubiquitous group created by Forbes.com, indeed, there are several ubiquitous groups hosted by Forbes.com — San Francisco Chapters, Entrepreneurs, Space Ranger of Tomorrow — and …

I don’t belong to a Forbes.com group. I don’t know how to join. And now, of course, I would never join. The shame. To paraphrase Fake Steve: “Dude, I founded Forbes.com. Have you heard of it?”

2. That was the irony. The rule of thumb is this: the invitations I get from the blue, from people I have no connection to, no foreknowledge, the online equivalent of the subway lunatic who asks you if you know Jesus? (I mean really know him?) They ALL HAVE FORBES.COM badges!!!!!

Woody Allen was right: “I’d never join a club that would allow a person like me to become a member.”

Pure imagination

I said in the prior post to beware of Lenovo’s Anthem video as the soundtrack — Gene Wilder singing “Pure Imagination” — is infectious. It is. My kids are walking around the house singing:

If you want to view paradise,
Simply look around and view it
Anything you want to, do it
Want to change the world?
There’s nothing to it”

A little background on the song is in order. One, Gene Wilder does not go down in history as a great crooner, yet he is definitely a musical talent. Second, the song, in its original setting, is sort of lost.

Here’s the YouTube link:

And here’s the Wikipedia entry on the song, which, to my surprise, has been covered many times. (interesting trivia, Wilder played the congas on The Talking Heads I Zimbra). When I showed the video to some people at Google last month, one person said it was one of their favorite bedtime lullabies. I can see why.

I want to acknowledge is the brilliance of the creative directors at Ogilvy — Greg Ketchum and Tom Godici — who insisted the ad be scored with this song.

A brief history of the Best Engineered Campaign

Last August I was invited to a meeting at Ogilvy and Mather, Lenovo’s global advertising agency, to preview a concept for a new campaign celebrating our excellence in engineering and legacy of building the world’s best PCs. Lenovo hadn’t run a unified brand campaign, having focused on maintaining the venerable ThinkPad brand in its first year after acquiring the business from IBM. Now, the time has come to build some awareness in a brand name my mother continues to insist on pronouncing “Lenova.”

Oglivy’s concept was whimsical — to celebrate the fantastic possibilities of technology. Their manifesto, which I will try to quote from memory, came down to: “The future isn’t being defined by rock stars or celebrities, it is being built by engineers and scientists.” The concepts were … different.

Now, ten months later, we’re rolling out the fruits of the campaign. At the center is a 90-second video — I can’t call it a commercial really, it isn’t being shown on TV — called “Anthem.” Here it is on LenovoVision. The tune is Gene Wilder singing, from the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, “Pure Imagination.” Beware, the tune will get embedded in your head and prove unshakable.

Anthem is a compilation of four other videos, all shot at the photo shoot for the print and out of home advertising. I think they come off as more than byproducts for the shoot. My favorite is the Crash Test.

Here are the links from YouTube:

Crash Test:




The things to keep in mind about these five videos are:

1. We aren’t buying TV time to show them.

2. We are buying rich media placements — so these are purely “Internet TV ads”

3. We aren’t hitting people over the head with a Ronco announcer saying, “But wait, there’s more.”

4. Did anyone say death to the 30-second spot? The Anthem is 90 seconds, the others are a minute. I dare you to play a long form commercial on television, Internet video advertising is limitless. The question is how long will a person watch?

I’d love your opinion.

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