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The contents of this blog are entirely my opinion, but feel free to agree or disagree with me... I like a good conversation!

Make CAPTCHA easy

No text, no math, no fuzzy images, just a checkbox stating “I’m not a robot”.  Great UX!

Google_reCAPTCHA

Reference: Are you a robot? Introducing “No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA”

Download it here: Google reCAPTCHA

You were expecting more?

Well there is more to it than that.  If Google’s risk analysis engine can’t confidently predict that the user is human or a bot, then that’s the only time it will ask the user to enter some text (which means security is still not compromised).  So I’m guessing in the “No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA” might start out to be an “extra step” for some users who might just want to enter the code straight away.  But Google’s engine gets better over time and so will its user experience.

On the other hand, if you’d like sort of a “gamified” CAPTCHA (something that can verify humans with a single click—or more clicks if you want to turn it into a quiz, but who wants that?), then Confident CAPTCHA is a good choice.  Drupal has been encouraging its use since 2010.  It didn’t pick up as fast as the regular CAPTCHA, perhaps because of the space it occupied on the page.  But it looks great (and easy to use) on mobile phones.  Check their demo.

A similar implementation was created by Jordan Kasper about the same year in his SimpleCaptcha jquery plug-in.  It looks something like this:

JordanKasper_SimpleCaptcha

Works great with casual websites but maybe not for corporate (or serious-looking) ones.  Regardless, I find it smart!  (Wish I’d thought of that…  By the way, Jordan, I love your site!)

Kudos to these developers who took UX seriously by improving the interfaces of even the simplest functions, like the CAPTCHA (and reCAPTCHA).

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Curious about tsū

You guys will be hearing about tsū soon, but it’s invite only (luckily I can invite you from here: https://www.tsu.co/gotinvited). tsū advertises itself as the first combined social network and payment platform that lets users maintain ownership of the content they post (basically profit-sharing). Its founder, Sebastian Sobczak, has this to say about social networks in general:

“Established social networks have built amazing business models prospering on the total monetization of free user-generated content… Why should anyone commercially benefit from someone else’s image, likeness and work giving no financial return to the owner? The markets we participate in are enormous, growing and can materially compensate each user — we’re simply and uniquely rewarding the users who are doing all the work. This is the way the world should work.”

That said, I see tsū as valuable for content creators, influential marketers with a consistent growing network, and leaders/experts that can compose valuable content. tsū distributes 90 percent of its royalties gained through ad revenue to its content creators and their networks (tsū has positioned itself as a socially responsive social network). Aside from quality content, tsū is also about quality viewership (or a community for authentic engagement). It discourages follow4follow schemes which gets the account that participates in it banned. Which brings me to another thing, tsū is not a get-rich-quick program.

To understand how fast tsū is growing, here’s a comparison: Facebook took 10 months to reach one million users on its platform. tsū reached its millionth in just 5 weeks from coming out of stealth-mode on October 2014. Meanwhile there might only be a few members signed up in the Philippines as of this post (including you if you create an account today). tsū users will actually benefit from growing its network. tsū can see who are the most influential users in its network through the number of people they invite. Relationships are built this way and are mined by tsū . And this relationship and engagement among users enable royalties from ad revenue to be created. The more posts are shared in the network, the more ad impressions are made resulting in revenue for the platform.

So I guess if you’re serious about branding yourself (or your professional services) in the Philippines and perhaps even earn from your content, be one of the first to sign up and influence your network to follow you (https://www.tsu.co/gotinvited). Hope this helps your career!

On the subject of TAXES and TAX REFORMS

I received this petition in my inbox this morning, asking for tax reforms:
https://www.change.org/p/hon-franklin-m-drilon-lower-income-taxes

I signed it of course, but I wanted to make a point as well. Asking for tax reforms and leaving the decision to officials we already know are corrupt regarding how it should be changed will not get us anywhere.

Don’t just demand tax reforms, be specific. Equality in the Philippines means everyone must be taxed equally, no brackets, and never beyond 10%. If God only asked for 10% tithes, why should government ask more? And there must be transparency in government by publishing monthly reports on the amount of taxes collected, and how much is used to pay the salaries of senators, congressmen and all PUBLIC officials, and how much is distributed per district as well as what projects they will be spent on. PH Government has so much money that is simply POCKETED by almost all officials from the very top, all the way down to the Sangguniang Kabataan. If corruption was eliminated, then government will survive with less than 10% tax from all levels. Government should also EMPLOY people SQUATTING ILLEGALLY by putting them to work in the clean up of Metro Manila, while their children are put in a program where they can get free academic education from high-tuition schools and universities as their way of giving back to society. There are so many things government must CHANGE aside from tax laws, because the way they spend or use TAX PAYER’s money makes their system unsustainable, that their only bright idea is to collect more from the already struggling middle-class. Tax Reform is NOT ENOUGH. Anti-dynasty laws, Transparency laws, and CRIMINAL PUNISHMENT for all Public officials that have accepted PORK and KICKBACK, as well as the confiscation of all Public Officials’ STOLEN income (with interest) must be taken back, so that replenishing the nation’s funds will not be the burden of taxpayers only, but government accountability as well.

Shallow Marketing

I really love this guy,  .  And I totally agree with him in his second episode “Why a Personal Media Brand Beats “Marketing” Every Time“.  In fact here I am again asking myself, ‘why couldn’t I have expressed my thoughts as well as he has on… thought leadership (I never liked that term, it felt pointless—I get that people who loved to call themselves thought leaders may have shared some excellent ideas, but what good is an idea if it only stayed that way?  The real leaders were able to influence their followers into transforming their businesses or even personal lives into something better, and along the way have given them specific guidelines to assist them in their success); shallow marketing (when marketers try to make a lot of noise to keep reminding people that a certain brand exists though they have nothing new to offer, or when they try to hoard ‘likes’ that mean nothing for the long-term relationship of the brand with its customers and stakeholders); and design without substance (when designers only focus on the eye-candy but not the overall user/audience experience and with very little thought for purpose, information architecture, data tables that scale appropriately, or a pleasant site process).’  I may not have the right words to elaborate the whys of what I feel but I’ll give it a try, and hopefully I can make a reasonable defense for my observations and somewhat outrageous reactions.  Today I have focused on shallow marketing.

There are many things I don’t like about marketing and advertising, but I’m not sure how to say them without sounding (maybe) dramatic.  I know that marketing and advertising are different but related disciplines, and I talk about them together because their bottom lines are the same.   At a very young age I believed there was something wrong with the advertisements or campaigns I’ve seen which I didn’t trust because of the obvious motivation behind them; usually to distract people from what was really happening, to get people’s money, or win their votes before the object being advertised is proven trustworthy.  I always felt the purpose of advertising and marketing was to con people or make them believe something that isn’t true, especially when they get a clueless celebrity to endorse a product or candidate, and that celebrity has no real authority or knowledge about the truthfulness of the claims they were endorsing.  Even after new media (or the internet) has developed, I still have a certain distrust with the terms ‘marketing’ and ‘advertising’.  Especially since I witnessed my dad who was a freelance jingle producer (…he made music for TV and radio commercials back in the day when its music was played live with real instruments in a recording studio, up to the time when music production made its shift to digital with synthesizers and computers… ) found that it was getting more and more difficult to get paid on time by the agencies that hired him—between a month to a year, and that was just ridiculous!  Even if he was keeping himself up to date with the latest equipment and produced memorable music, the industry and the business was changing with younger musicians demanding far less for their talent while producing mediocre music, and the agencies prioritizing cost-cutting while prolonging the release of payment for their contractual hires in the project.  After that I learned that the real motivation behind producing commercials and any marketing effort was simply to make money.  An agency will take on any project that would mean a profit even if the product or celebrity was bad, and to get more profit they won’t pay the people they contracted for the project on time, if at all, because my dad has also experienced not getting paid.  So he left that industry to focus on church service and became a happier man.  Meanwhile my distrust for advertising and marketing evolved to disdain.

You might think it’s unfair that I let my feelings about advertising affect a broader discipline that is marketing.  But to me, that’s like blaming the messenger for the bad news and not the message itself or the author of that message.  Bad advertising starts from bad marketing… and if you were to dig to the deepest roots, it could begin with the bad motivation of a bad business, person or entity.  Everyone is affected when the root is bad business… the people asked to do the marketing strategy will have to lie and bend rules, advertisers have to cheat and cut corners, and the audience is once again made a fool.  To mask bad business (or bad marketing), marketers resort to ‘entertainment’.  Keep the audience amused, dangle a carrot to give them hope, pick a few lucky ones to make that hope believable, and no one will complain about the real issues.  Shallow.

I find it a useless activity to participate in promotional contests for a chance to win temporal things, when I would prefer the company behind the product to give me better quality, better service and best price every time.  I don’t want to rely on luck to be satisfied, what I really want is consistency.  How can they win my loyalty when all I am to them is some statistic or peso-value?  Maybe even worse is while I already am a loyal customer, the company gives more incentive for new customers to join than for me to remain… I think when marketing thinks that way, they’re missing the point.  You should reward your loyal customers so that new customers have something to look forward to if they stick with your brand.  Otherwise your existing customers will feel used or cheated, then they leave.

Let’s talk about clever ads… Seeing something clever is only enough to make me notice a brand, but it won’t be enough to make me trust it.  A ‘Clever ad‘ is the formula nowadays to make people change their minds about something or buy in to something.  But regret usually follows after being hopeful that you’re transferring to a ‘better’ brand or service provider, when you realize that they’re actually no different from the other one you just left (or they might be even worse).  And how about this one… Let me just say that I see no point in advertising a company that already has monopoly over a business or industry.  It is insulting when a company that knows its customers have no choice but to acquire their services, come out with an ad that demonstrates a completely opposite scenario from what their customers actually experience… that’s blatantly making a fool out of people.  And marketing is used to make this sad state of consumers look good.

Alright.  It appears I’m blaming the weapon (marketing or advertising) and not the murderer (the true motive of the business or personality) for the harming the victim (the audience).  But oftentimes marketing is used for deception (revealing only partial truth) and exploiting a bad situation (adding flame to controversy).  And this exploitation has also become the trick of the trade, a common practice, the norm.  If the marketer doesn’t take advantage of an opportunity to exploit, he’s the marketing dumb-dumb… so the practice itself has been corrupted.  But let me be fair, I don’t assume that all marketing/advertising agencies operate the same way.  Many do, but not all, just look for the gems out there.

This is why I’m loving Brian’s articles so far, because he explains beautifully how marketing and advertising don’t really work when exploited—at least that’s my take.  To be clear, Brian’s point of view in his second episode is faaaar from my darker point of view.  He talks about an attention-hungry generation that wants to be famous for fame’s sake without proving their value to society or giving back anything to their audience other than amusement.  Brian says to call someone “famous for being famous” is an insult, and I agree.  Now imagine a similar scenario at a much larger scale… a company or brand or business that is hungry for publicity and resorts to all kinds of gimmick to keep people talking about them and buying their products.  But apart from that, they do very little to address complaints about their poor customer service and overpriced substandard products, and overall they offer far less value than what their customers pay for.  But here’s the deception, they make it appear like they’re doing something about the problem as they repackage the same banana and remove what little value it has left.  Because instead of spending more money for developing a better product and a more efficient customer service, they thought it would be cheaper to spend it on advertising so that they can trick people into giving more for much less, and with marketing’s help the company still looks good ripping people off.  Evil, isn’t it?

Wow… I’m too negative… maybe it’s one of those days…  But to be fair, I also believe that marketing can only be as shallow as the motives of the company or personality behind it.   Most of the time.   Putting aside the bad business and the bad motives, sometimes you find good businesses or well-meaning personalities involved in bad marketing strategies.  Most especially when that strategy is comprised of today’s unholy trinity: A celebrity pretending to be an expert (or what have you) + an overly reused and repackaged campaign + very heavy push to get social media ‘likes’ as if that was the only thing that mattered.  It’s really annoying when customers are encouraged to like a brand for its gimmicks rather how good the brand really is… I’d probably understand it if there’s nothing exceptional about what they offer, but how sad if a brand is truly exceptional and yet marketers still have to resort to that.  It’s one of those tactics used to get that short term spike in their analytics and whatever tool they’re using for measuring ROI, because it gives the illusion that things are getting better.  But if a brand were really that good or has that much potential, wouldn’t it be worth the time and effort to develop a long-term strategy that slowly develops both the brand (its products and services) and its customers so that a deeper relationship is formed?  A relationship where the brand is sincerely committed to improving itself because they want to give back more to its customers, and the customers are not just loyal to the brand, they have also become its evangelists.  But because this approach is a very long and costly process, very few take it.  Many marketers today are lazy because they prefer the quick fix though its results are superficial.  You can also tell the product of lazy marketing from the quality of content produced.  Borrowed, saturated topics, you can tell they hired some copywriter to rewrite them but nothing really new is presented.  ‘Genuine‘ is very hard to find nowadays.

Now I’m not a fan of Oprah and I have my own personal reservations about her, but let me try to be objective.  From what I’ve seen in her shows she strikes me as someone who embodies authority, authenticity and leadership in that she gets her followers to trust what she says.  She appears to be an expert in ‘living life to the fullest’ and inspiring people to be the best that they can be… and partly I think what made her seem authentic and such a lead-magnet was her grand generosity and how she reached out to people.  She also loved to share the success stories of other people, especially women.  I think Oprah understood the value of “Personal Media Brand” in a way nobody else has in her early years, because she patiently established her brand which is her name and herself all these years, being consistent in her persona, being more thoughtful each year of her audience to establish a relationship with them, and perhaps being more careful in keeping a pleasing reputation for the majority.  She did something no other person or entity invested on, and now all her (and her network’s) efforts are paying off.  Because she took the time to earn her audiences’ trust, the role of marketing/advertising and her brand name has somehow reversed.  If before, marketing and advertising would promote her and her shows to build her up, now Oprah is the perfect endorser for any of her network’s campaigns, or even the campaigns of other personalities she is friends with.  Her network’s marketing efforts and numerous campaigns are benefiting from the pull of her name… this is the power of a personal media brand that mere marketing or advertising doesn’t have.  Her words are gold, many people will believe it just because she said it, which is why today marketing her smaller campaigns have become effortless.  People watch her shows, visit her fan page, her audience makes the effort to reach out to her and even defend her—meanwhile it takes Oprah minimal effort to reach her 9.4 million fans on her fan page and 2.2 million for the “OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network” page (as of this post).  Her very name has been a long-term campaign that carries on her purpose to this day.  This long-term campaign is where many marketers, advertisers and brands miss the mark or don’t even aim for at all.  Most marketers are so preoccupied with the now and the activity-for-the-month that they lose sight of the future and what-the-brand-really-stands-for.  Quick results (though short-lived) appear to have have more value than the longevity of a trustworthy brand name, and that requires patience to develop which many don’t have.  This is why I agree with Brian when he said “…Personal Media Brand Beats Marketing Every Time”…  he articulated very well what I’ve always felt about the pointlessness of shallow marketing, and in a way he just described Oprah.

(Are you sure you’re not an Oprah fan?  Yes I’m sure, because I’m a JESUS fan.  He takes the cake on “Personal Media Brand”, no one else comes close.  For a Jesus fan you’re so negative.  Shut up.)

There is one exception…

Boo.  Boo is the cutest dog in the world. He has nothing else to offer but amusement.  His demeanor and willingness to dress for the occasion gets him 9.5 million fans (as of this post—but I kid you not it was 9.4 yesterday) in just six years (since he was born).  People just love him and are drawn to him for the ball of cuteness that he is.  But even if he is a dog, his master knew that to make him memorable he needed to have purpose.  He stands for cuteness, freedom of dogs, a dog’s right to live happily with a loving family, and his lasting friendship with his best pal, Buddy.  Because of his fame, he has also become a very effective endorser of designer products.  Life is really good for Boo.  The point is this; his campaigns are simple, the marketing strategy might be considered shallow, but hey, he’s a dog and that’s all he needed to reach people’s hearts!  So unless you’re a dog who is as cute as Boo, to be a successful personal media brand you’re going to have to do it the long way.  Establish your authority by being an expert and a valuable source of information (it might also help to invite other experts in your ‘show’), be authentic and might I add sincere, be generous without expecting anything in return, and be a real leader that knows how to care for your audience.

Something to chew on: Content Shock

I wish I was able to put into writing the thoughts of Mark Schaefer and Brian Clark exactly.  Nothing beats sincere helpfulness, thoughtfulness, truthfulness, and superb knowledge over the subject matter that has been written about, which readers—in the long term—will trust and absorb and share.

Content Shock: Why content marketing is not a sustainable strategy
http://www.businessesgrow.com/2014/01/06/content-shock/

The New Rainmaker: Why the Key to Business Success is Media, Not Marketing
http://newrainmaker.com/audio/media-not-marketing/

It’s been a long time since my last major post.  Thought I’d begin again with this one.

Protected: Blast from the not-so-past

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Smokers Violate the Rights of Non-Smokers. Period.

UPDATE: You may now show your support by signing the petition here—https://www.change.org/petitions/philippine-congress-senate-supreme-court-1-ban-cigarette-smoking-within-500-feet-of

Our family friend lives in Eastwood (by Megaworld), a smoker’s haven where none of them are penalized even when they smoke in “No-Smoking” zones.  These smokers clearly violate Republic Act No. 9211, Sections 5 and 6:

SECTION 5. Smoking Ban in Public Places.—Smoking shall be absolutely prohibited in the following public places:

a. Centers of youth activity such as playschools, preparatory schools, elementary schools, high schools, colleges and universities, youth hostels and recreational facilities for persons under eighteen (18) years old;

b. Elevators and stairwells;

c. Locations in which fire hazards are present, including gas stations and storage areas for flammable liquids, gas, explosives or combustible materials;

d. Within the buildings and premises of public and private hospitals, medical, dental, and optical clinics, health centers, nursing homes, dispensaries and laboratories;

e. Public conveyances and public facilities including airport and ship terminals and train and bus stations, restaurants and conference halls, except for separate smoking areas; and

f. Food preparation areas.

SECTION 6. Designated Smoking and Non-smoking Areas.—In all enclosed places that are open to the general public, private workplaces and other places not covered under the preceding section, where smoking may expose a person other than the smoker to tobacco smoke, the owner, proprietor, operator, possessor, manager or administrator of such places shall establish smoking and non-smoking areas. Such areas may include a designated smoking area within the building, which may be in an open space or separate area with proper ventilation, but shall not be located within the same room that has been designated as a non-smoking area.

All designated smoking areas shall have at least one (1) legible and visible sign posted, namely “SMOKING AREA” for the information and guidance of all concerned. In addition, the sign or notice posted shall include a warning about the health effects of direct or secondhand exposure to tobacco smoke. Non-Smoking areas shall likewise have at least one (1) legible and visible sign, namely: “NON-SMOKING AREA” or “NO SMOKING.”

Access Restrictions

SECTION 7. Vending Machines, Self-Service Facilities.—Unless the vending machine has a mechanism for age verification, the sale or distribution of tobacco products to minors by means of a vending machine or any self-service facility or similar contraption or device is prohibited, except at point-of-sale establishments.

SECTION 8. Retailer Compliance with Respect to Self-Service Facilities.—Each retailer shall ensure that all tobacco-related self-service displays or facilities, advertising, labeling and other items that are located in the establishment of the retailer and that do not comply with the requirements of this Act are removed or are brought into compliance with the requirements of this Act.

We expect PENALTIES to be implement on these people…

SECTION 32. Penalties.—The following penalties shall apply:

a. Violation of Sections 5 and 6.—On the first offense, a fine of not less than Five hundred pesos (Php500.00) but not more than One thousand pesos (Php1,000.00) shall be imposed.

On the second offense, a fine of not less than One thousand pesos (Php1,000.00) but not more than Five thousand pesos (Php5,000.00) shall be imposed.

On the third offense, in addition to a fine of not less than Five thousand pesos (Php5,000.00) but not more than Ten thousand pesos (Php10,000.00), the business permits and licenses to operate shall be cancelled or revoked.

However, Municipal and Police authorities IGNORE these violations from all their smokers in Eastwood, in favor of the business establishments who condone the acts of their careless employees.  Meanwhile, MMDA officers are only present during a short time in the day, and when these cats are away the dirty mice go out to play, over and over and over.

These smokers also “bully” residents of Eastwood who can’t even take a breath of fresh air when they are outside, because smokers would huff and puff in PUBLIC walkways and halls or anywhere they please.  They expect non-smokers to accept their violations and inhale their second-hand smoke, without remorse for how they affect non-smokers, or without respecting their rights to CLEAN AIR.  (Who says adults can’t be bullied?  The Anti-bullying bill must be extended to individuals who impose their careless acts on others through persistent violations of the law.)

One night, our family friend tried to be a responsible citizen and approached two smokers who were smoking in a No-Smoking area, there was a clear sign beside them.  He kindly asked them to observe the law and smoke in designated areas instead.  Our family friend was beaten up.  Not only that, it was a female who started the cussing and throwing of punches… shame on the bitch.

He went to the police to report the incident, but they were cold on his case when he did not give them “bribe” money.  His case has been weeks old and still no feedback from the Police.

What kind of a shitty place is EASTWOOD when they don’t take care of their residents and encourage the violation of Republic Act No. 9211?

What kind of call centers do band-aid solutions of posting useless no-smoking signs without fixing the real problem of truly enforcing penalties on violators?

What kind of a GENERATION are we raising when these kids no longer respect their elders?

EVERY KIND OF SELFISH AND PROUD ATTITUDE FROM THE FILIPINO YOUTH (MANY OF THEM WORKING IN CALL CENTERS), AND ANY FORM OF CORRUPTION BY OUR AUTHORITIES ARE FOUND IN EASTWOOD, QUEZON CITY.   THIS IS NOT A PLACE FOR PEOPLE WHO WANT TO LIVE A HEALTHY LIFE.  DON’T BUY A CONDO UNIT HERE IF YOU HAVE ANY KIND OF MEDICAL CONDITION BECAUSE THE ENVIRONMENT HERE WILL NOT HELP YOU GET BETTER.

And I say this to smokers everywhere.  Whenever you walk along public areas such as the sidewalk or crossing the street, or ride in trikes and jeeps, or if you merely sit at tables outside a restaurant, don’t think you own the area and that you are free to smoke.  You are NOT entitled to total freedom.  You can’t expect people who don’t want to inhale your smoke to travel or live elsewhere only to avoid you.  Eighty percent of the people who die from smoking are actually second-hand smokers, do you even care that you contribute to that?  Whatever reason or rationalization you have for your perverse sense of pleasure, it causes you to be filled with pride that you negatively affect non-smokers around you.  And the moment you beat up a an elderly man for vocalizing what is actually his right to point out because YOU violated the law… then you become even LESS of a citizen.  I for one, have lost respect for people like you.

PH should stop all exports to CH

And as much as we can help it, stop all imports from CH.

Who are we trying to fool?  They hate us and will destroy anything that comes from us!  Let’s not waste any of our resources and goods and PEOPLE on them!

They obviously WANT WAR.  They will do anything and everything to TRIGGER this war.  They fan their own flames among their people and are vindictive to the point of hurting their own people who happen to be based here!

I don’t want Our Bananas, Mangoes, Skilled Workers and English Teachers to be wasted in their land.  And I don’t want to support any of their products over here.

They’re enjoying their power now and I bet they’re just so eager to demonstrate it, but all their evil will bite them in the end.

Bing’s new look reminds me of RockMelt…

I just read this: Microsoft announces its latest Bing search overhaul plans

And I saw this:

And I thought, ‘wow, it’s kinda like RockMelt!”

Search for Japan Tsunami 2011

Search for Japan Tsunami 2011

Pretty soon there might be a standard social pain—I  mean pane, in every browser or search engine site.  I don’t know what to make of it yet.  It’s interesting yes, and maybe even useful for some… but why do I feel like it’s pushing too much social integration?  They’re seen and used everywhere!  Although I admit, the first time RockMelt came out I enjoyed the concept which is why I think I will also enjoy Bing’s new beta features… but not to use for myself; rather for marketing, engagement and optimization when we make apps or websites!

So, yeah, I think more than the consumers (who are just having fun sharing), it’s the data miners, researchers, developers, marketeers, and the big guys of the world wide web who will greatly benefit from social integrations like that of RockMelt or Bing.

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