On turning 21

My eldest turned 21 today. He reached his “majority,” that milestone in the law whereby he can enter into a binding contract, buy a bottle of tequila, get married without permission …

I’m stunned to be the parent of an adult. All trite comments and cliches about “they grow up so fast” and “they’ll be driving before you know it” apply. I can’t believe it was 21 years ago, as the Red Sox tilted at another failed World Series and his poor mother endured 24 hours of labor, that he came into this world, freaking us out as the world’s most important biology experiment.

Tonight we talked about the Sox as they went down 2 to 4 in Game 3 of the ACLS. He’s more of a fan that I ever was, pulling me along with him back into that New England obsession that I vowed never to invest time in again after Buckner fumbled the ball. I’ve loved to embellish his birth story by telling him he popped into this world at the exact instant that the poor gimpy first baseman made his epic error, but that isn’t true, that happened ten days later, when he was home with his mother and me, a human pupae.

It sounds better my way.

He blogs about the movies at http://www.churbuck.com/cinemania

This is one of his namesakes (the other is T.S. Eliot), the greatest maritime historian, Samuel Eliot Morison.

Happy birthday Eliot!

What to do with an old laptop? Ubuntu it.

Prior to Lenovo I used to carry around, as my personal PC, a little sub-notebook from Fujitsu called a Lifebook P2120 that was recommended to me by Ben Lipman for a single compelling reason — it was one of the few laptops out there with a trackpoint instead of the dreaded touchpad.

I liked the machine — it had more than 10 hours of battery life with the modular CD/DVD replaced with a big Li-Ion battery — it could play DVDs decently, had optical and S-Video ports, and was, for the time, pretty ahead of the curve in terms of features.

It’s fatal flaw was the Transmeta Crusoe processor which was woefully anemic and made some tasks nearly impossible. But — the machine served me well and yesterday, seeing it look lonely, I pulled it out and configured it with Ubuntu.

Well, it looks good,but I can’t a wireless connection to the house network and when I go looking for help, I find stuff like this:

“Here’s some more information in case anyone has the time to help me:

ckblackm@ckblackm-laptop:~$ ifconfig -a
eth0 Link encap:Ethernet HWaddr 00:E0:00:C1:2B:4D
inet addr:192.168.0.102 Bcast:192.168.0.255 Mask:255.255.255.0
inet6 addr: fe80::2e0:ff:fec1:2b4d/64 Scope:Link
UP BROADCAST RUNNING MULTICAST MTU:1500 Metric:1
RX packets:3036 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
TX packets:1605 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
collisions:0 txqueuelen:1000
RX bytes:2227825 (2.1 MiB) TX bytes:258169 (252.1 KiB)
Interrupt:9 Base address:0x8800

lo Link encap:Local Loopback
inet addr:127.0.0.1 Mask:255.0.0.0
inet6 addr: ::1/128 Scope:Host
UP LOOPBACK RUNNING MTU:16436 Metric:1
RX packets:6 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
TX packets:6 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
collisions:0 txqueuelen:0
RX bytes:300 (300.0 b) TX bytes:300 (300.0 b)

wlan0 Link encap:Ethernet HWaddr 00:00:00:00:00:00
BROADCAST MULTICAST MTU:1500 Metric:1
RX packets:0 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
TX packets:0 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
collisions:0 txqueuelen:1000
RX bytes:0 (0.0 b) TX bytes:0 (0.0 b)
Interrupt:9 Memory:dfa0a000-dfa0b000

If I don’t use the -a flag for ifconfig… wlan0 doesn’t show up.”

Okay. Sure. This is why desktop linux for consumers is a gleam in somebody’s eye. I’m sure I could call Canonical and seek some help, but want to bet if I was to take this into the Geek Squad I’d come away empty-handed?

I’d put this sort of stuff in the category of hobbyist Tinkering. But it sure is a lot of fun to make an old notebook sing again.

The measured digital spend – investing internally

Interesting article in the business section of the Sunday New York Times (10.14.07) about the acceleration in advertising budgets away from traditional advertising — TV, radio, print — and even away from “traditional” interactive — banners, skyscrapers, search and viral to more experiential and immersible experiences which the writer, Louise Story, extends to social networking.

“Last year, Nike spent just 33 percent of its $678 million United States advertising budget on ads with television networks and other traditional media companies. Thatâ€s down from 55 percent 10 years ago, according to the trade publication Advertising Age.

“Weâ€re not in the business of keeping the media companies alive,” Mr. Edwards says he tells many media executives. “Weâ€re in the business of connecting with consumers.”

Mr. Edwards may be more blunt than most. But many large marketers are taking huge chunks of money out of their budgets for traditional media and using the funds to develop new, more direct interactions with consumers — not only on the Internet, but also through in-person events.”

Fine, this is not news. Money is moving from mass media to new media and accelerating. I get that. Digital should be at the heart of every marketing campaign, etc. etc. What is interesting and underscored in the Times piece is the shift not from traditional to digital, but from media to non-media.

“True, Nike increased its spending on traditional media in the United States by 3 percent from 2003 to 2006, to $220.5 million. But in the same period, it increased its nonmedia ad spending 33 percent, to $457.9 million, according to the Advertising Age data.

Behind the shift is a fundamental change in Nikeâ€s view of the role of advertising. No longer are ads primarily meant to grab a personâ€s attention while theyâ€re trying to do something else — like reading an article. Nike executives say that much of the companyâ€s future advertising spending will take the form of services for consumers, like workout advice, online communities and local sports competitions.”

Here’s the payoff from the piece. The shift is not from traditional to digital, it’s from public media to “internal” media. In essence, marketers, particularly consumer packaged goods, are plowing their dollars into themselves. BudTV. Nike’s exercise tools. Their own communities, their own social networks. Their SecondLife islands.

“Digital media spending is doubling every year at many big companies, industry data indicate. But the research firm Outsell found this year that 58 percent of marketers†online spending went to their own Web sites, rather than to paid ads. More than two million people visited Nike-owned Web sites in July, according to Nielsen//NetRatings.”

Repeat that number — 58% — that’s right, way more than half of the digital spend is being invested internally, not via agencies, not via media planners, not being behaviorally targetted, but on internal plays. As someone accustomed to regarding a corporate dot.com strategy as little more than an IT investment managed by some designers, that blows me away.