Category Archives: Marketing

How not to run a corporate web site

I’ve noticed that Transport For London do this irritating thing: they move (“archive”) their corporate media releases content each month.

So this:

— which has been quoted widely as the press release for the Royal Wedding Oyster Card, for instance on the popular Going Underground blog — gets moved to:

The old link returns a 404.

WHY? It just seems utterly pointless.

The other thing they do is fail to show, or even link to pictures on their media release pages, even in cases like this where the picture is of prime interest, as the story is “Mayor unveils design of the royal wedding Oyster card”. Instead they make you ring the TFL press office.

Perhaps they haven’t noted the rise of social media, where the messages you put out can be spread by bloggers, Tweeters, Facebookers — none of whom will have the time or motivation to ring your press office to get hold of a photo.

If you hide the official information too much, people will end up relying on the unofficial information out there. Less detail, less reliability, and you’ve got less control of the message you want to put out.

Seems an odd way of doing things in the 21st century.

(I only had this rant because I was looking for a picture of the special Royal Wedding Oyster Card.)

Sensis Yellow Pages

Dug this up from a five-year-old draft:

Sensis are nuts. They’ve totally shot themselves in the foot, and they’ve only got a limited amount of time to plug the gap before their Yellow Pages foot falls off completely.

Yellow Pages on the web doesn’t contain entries for all of the businesses listed in the physical Yellow Pages. Sensis charges businesses extra to list on the web. Not many have taken Sensis up on that option, meaning that YPW has remarkably few businesses listed – and because YPW has few businesses, consumers don’t turn to YPW to find businesses. And because of that, fewer and fewer businesses are listing… and so the death spiral goes.

If anyone there had one ounce of sense (sic), they’d be giving web listing away for free, or even negative price. For a while, while the network effect was being established. Then the charges would start hiking up, and the profits rolling in. But no, they had to try to be profitable before the monopoly was established. Bang! bang! Wow, my foot hurts.

I don’t think I was wrong. ¬†When’s the last time you used the yellow pages online to find… anything?

Decimalization of eggs

A clear sign that the French have taken over.

I tried to find the Egg Farmers Free Range Eggs, 550g Pk 10 at Woolworths, but the site just doesn’t work, even with JavaScript turned all the way on. And how well does the Woolworths site worth without JavaScript? Not at all well. The blind can go f**k themselves.

A ten-pack of eggs.

I can’t figure out how this is making things better. We have six-packs, so that’s not it. Please, enlighten me.

Printer prices still haven’t changed?

Christmas Eve, and following through on an idea I had six months earlier for fantastic presents, Fridge magnets and customized T-Shirts featuring smiling images of the whole family. Gifts like these would be well received by anyone blessed by them.

I’m not a big fan of inkjets, but several years ago we needed a scanner and the cheapest way of acquiring one was by buying one of those scanners with a free, built in inkjet printer. For some reason they’re sold in the printer section of the store. Knowing that inkjet cartridges don’t like sitting unused for extended periods, I didn’t install the cartridges. Until Christmas Eve 2009.

Things were going swimmingly well, with print-head alignment and test pages coming out, looking a little odd but they were very speedy drafts. A final print of a sheet of photos (well over 15 minutes to produce) didn’t come out so good. It was obvious yellow was missing. A few attempts to clean and clear the cartridge were attempted. One Christmas Eve, I decided to go shopping for a replacement colour cartridge. We’ve seen the movies. I knew what to expect.

From personal experience I can tell you that the afternoon of Christmas Eve isn’t all that crowded. Parking was bad, but not Boxing-Day-terrible. I picked the easy, undercover park that’s a substantial walk to the shopping centre, and all was good.

The plan was to check out cartridge prices, compare to new printers, and decide what to do. Turns out the inkjet pricing tactics haven’t changed since I bought the scanner. A replacement cartridge, just one of two required cartridges, was $45. A new printer, $48 (different brand). Given I didn’t know when the black was going to fail on me, I went with a new printer and fresh cartridges.

The new printer is much faster than the old one. And it came with same photo paper too. The T-Shirts could have gone down better, but the fridge magnets went down a treat.

Byebye MSN t-shirt

MSN t-shirtToday one of my longest-lasting geek t-shirt goes to meet its maker. It was an MSN beta tester shirt, sent to me in 1995 just after the Windows 95 release. It now has too many holes in it to be of use anymore.

Back then, of course, MSN was not a web site. It was the anti-Internet, a closed proprietary network using a bunch of jumbled technologies (some, like MediaView, were really really ugly) that I somehow got involved in testing… In retrospect, it was always doomed to failure given the rise of the Web, though I admit, I didn’t really appreciate that at the time. I blogged about it here, some time back.

So, hasta la vista, MSN t-shirt.

Name and address, please.

Those of us in AU who used to frequent Tandy Electronics might recall that they always asked for a name and address — ostensibly for customer service, but in practice to send you catalogues. I had a CompSci teacher in year 12 who refused to provide it; he found it ridiculous to do be asked, especially when buying something like a single resistor.

Raymond Chen writes about this happening at the affiliated Radio Shack stores in the USA, and tells a funny story refusing to give his name.

Friday quickies

What if Microsoft was marketing the iPod? (Article about the origins of the video here.)

In case you’ve been living in a virtual cave, VMWare’s basic VMServer product is now free.

Google is beta trialling GMail from your own domain, primarily aimed at organisations to start with. (via Patrick)

Found an old quote of mine:
To me, reading Perl is a little like trying to understand Norwegian. A minority of things – essentials like “Help!” or “Hello” – I can probably understand. The rest is just gobbledygook. (Quoted here, originally posted here.)

This is God calling

Yesterday I answered the ‘phone. Because I was home, having a holiday, which is soon to be rudely interrupted by a short working stint, but that’s by-the-by. I could tell that whomever had called didn’t know anyone in the house; the phone’s listed in my girlfriends name. “Hello, Mr [Girlfriend’s-name]?” is a dead giveaway that they’ve pulled the number from the phonebook, and immediately puts me on the defensive. Which is why I have no interest in having the phone in my name. I can spot low-life scum a mile away with the arrangement as it is.

Now, the first thing I do when I have a telemarketer on the phone is to get them to tell me who they are. The lass weasled about, talking about a survey. Surveys don’t care about the identity of the respondent; this was marketting. Eventually she said she was representing the Jehovah’s Witnesses, at which point I terminated the call; religous fundamentalists get up my nostril.

Neither Cathy nor I get any telemarketing calls – oh, well maybe we get a couple a year from local gyms. It’s because we’re signed up to the ADMA’s do-no-call list. If you’re not signed up, stop reading, and go sign up now. The local gyms get the line “we only purchase goods from members of the Australian Direct Marketting Association” and they’re taken care of.

So, here we have technology being used for evil. Evil, not only because it’s evangelical fundamentalists at work, but because they claim they’re doing a survey about how people in the local neighbourhood feel about stuff. Because it’s a survey, that would be covered by the Australian Market & Social Research Society, which (they would claim to keep the statistics clean) doesn’t operate a do-not-call list (in spite of the fact that people that don’t want to be surveyed are going to do all sorts of bad things to their stats).

Worst of all, I don’t think there’s much I can do about it, except I remember hearing about a guy who had installed a PABX with and IVR – “if you want to talk to Cathy, press 1 now. To talk to Josh, press 2 now. Pressing 3 now will let you talk at Owen, but don’t expect a cogniscient conversation out of him.” Apparently, in the US, he was getting zero telemarketing calls – which is quite a feat.


  1. Has the obesity epidemic reached the point where the Jehovah’s Witnesses can’t be bothered leaving the house to recruit souls so that they can, pyramid-sales-scheme-like, go to heaven?
  2. Why don’t the Jehovah’s Witnesses tell people up front you’re not going to heaven, even if you convert (there’s only 144,000 spots – what are the chances you’ll be goody-two-shoes-super-converter enough to get in)?
  3. Why doesn’t the AMSRS operate a do-not-call list?
  4. Why doesn’t the government ban harrassment like this?
  5. What can I do to stop this from happening again?