Archive for July, 2008

Marketing and Social Media

July 30th, 2008

For much of this year I have been learning the ins & outs of this whole Web 2.0 social media thing. I have blogs, accounts with Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn, and for years have been a podcast enthusiast. The attraction for me is being an active participant as well as an interested observer of how communication is evolving.

Fascinating how text-oriented people have become in how they communicate. From phone-based texting, to reading and writing blogs, to the little snippet updates on Facebook or Twitter, text is becoming an overwhelmingly popular way to communicate. For me, I find myself having to be very selective of what I choose to read because there is just so much out there. Information overload is a constant battle for me – a guy who has an enormous appetite for information. No wonder the older set pushes back so vehemently on technology. My parents read the paper every day and watched the evening news and that was about it.  Now data is coming at us in a constant stream and finding ways to sift through it seems to be where the magic is.  This brings me to web search…

Google is the dominant player in Search (~60% market share compared to Yahoo at ~25% and Microsoft at ~15%).  They have some very interesting initiatives going on that from a sociological perspective is fascinating. Things like offering free 411 directory assistance inquiries so they can document both who people want to call and to record their voice with accent and dialect to build a database for future voice recognition use. Their idea is to simply offer the free 411 instead of paying for access to someone else’s data.  Google wanting to build their own body of data and not even paying for it is genius.

So I am paying close attention to the trendsetters like Google and like Facebook to try and glimpse the genesis of this social mediarevolution as its unfolding before our very eyes. Marketing has always intrigued me but within the past year or so the entire landscape has been changing rapidly. Web users accepting the ubiquitous sponsorship/advertisements that seem to tag every part of every page (some much more than others) as a necessary component. 

On the web you really don’t get something for nothing as videos are either wrapped in an advertisement or perhaps even begin with a 15 second commercial that can’t be skipped. Links are usually sponsored so click-throughs are measured and counted so someone in the sky pays and gets paid. This is all now universally accepted as par for the course, meanwhile people using their DVR/TiVo setups at home usually skip commercial breaks rendering that method of promotion nearly obsolete.  Very interesting indeed to see all this play out. For me, I prefer ride-along ads over obtrusive, older methods. It’s less inconvenient and frankly more clever.

Caesars Palace lodging review

July 30th, 2008

I posted this review on RateVegas.com of accomodations at Caesars Palace following my Feb ’08 visit to fabulous Las Vegas…

Caesars Palace 2008

Caesars Palace rooms:
I’ve stayed in four of the five towers. Here are comments listed in order of tower preference:

Palace Tower – Opened in 1999, this tower has some very, very nice rooms, all with marble bathrooms and spa (jacuzzi) tubs. Good size, comfortable, but frankly a long walk from the main casino area, restaurants & shopping. Close to pool.

Augustus Tower – Opened in 2005, the rooms are very comfortable with significant money put into the bed & bedding. Baths are marble with spa tub. Even the upper floor rooms (not suites) are on the modest size.

Forum Tower – Remodeled during winter 2007/08 with similar bedding and comforts as the popular Flamingo GO rooms. For whatever reason, they are proud of their electronic “do not disturb” signs and door bells. ?? Rooms are small-ish (except suites) as I believe this tower was built in 1979. My favorite thing about Forum tower rooms is the elevator lets you out right in the middle of the Forum casino, near the Forum Shops. Very convenient. If you want to splurge, check out the Absolute-themed suites.

Centurian Tower – Old, small rooms are what you get when you book & settle for a “standard” room. Centrally located, but I’d rather stay at Flamingo than in a Centurian room.

Roman Tower – I can’t recall if I’ve stayed in the Roman Tower, but see my notes on Centurian rooms for a very similar experience.

Beware – Ceasars will undergo yet more remodeling in 2008 as the Palace (main) Casino pit and all adjacent “low ceiling” areas are re-done with high ceilings to match the lobby and Pussycat Dolls pit areas.

Still, Caesars is Caesars and there is no better oldschool property to get the feel of vintage Vegas while still enjoying the most modern of amenities, restaurants and shopping. The joint was originally built with money from The Boys (Teamsters Central States Pension Fund), but the various owners (now Harrahs Corp) have managed to keep it relevant.

To experience Vegas the way its meant to be, stay at Caesars Palace!

Literally late for his own funeral

July 30th, 2008

The SunTimes has a good section devoted to the Chicago Outfit. Writer Steve Warmbir’s mob blog is not nearly as detailed or updated as it could be, but it is the only news outlet in town that to my knowledge has such a blog.  During the recent Family Secrets trial the daily updates were brief, but I read every word.  Now today, the final defendant in the trial is literally late for his own funeral:

FAMILY UPSET | Body taken from funeral home and sent to medical examiner

July 30, 2008

The late reputed mob hit man Frank “The German” Schweihs was known for making people disappear.

But this week, it was Schweihs’ body that was not to be found at his funeral service.

“It wasn’t a pleasant situation for them, that’s for sure,” said one of Schweihs’ attorneys, Paul Brayman.

The move sparked speculation that federal investigators wanted to get some DNA off Schweihs’ remains before the alleged hit man himself took a dirt nap. Schweihs had a reputation on the street as prolific hit man for the mob and inspired fear among the toughest Outfit thugs.

But the truth was far more pedestrian.

The medical examiner’s office was not properly notified when Schweihs died Wednesday at Thorek Memorial Hospital under guard. By law, anyone who dies in custody has to undergo an examination at the medical examiner’s office, a source there said. A medical examiner’s investigator learned Schweihs had died and called the funeral home Monday, demanding the remains.

For the record, Schweihs, 77, died of complications from cancer. He had suffered from lung cancer and a brain tumor and was to go to trial in October. His body was released by the medical examiner’s office to the funeral home Tuesday. The funeral director could not be reached for comment.

Schweihs’ family was already upset because they were not at his side when he died. Authorities at the U.S. Marshals Service were trying to arrange for a visit, but Schweihs’ condition deteriorated so quickly, he died before that could happen, sources said.

“The family is devastated,” said a source close to the Schweihs family. “He may not have been liked by a lot of people, but he was loved by some, and they were the ones who wanted to be with him in his final hours.”

Some family members of Schweihs’ alleged victims have said they believed that cancer was too good a death for Schweihs — after his reign of terror for decades — and were satisfied to hear he died without his family.

Schweihs had been charged with racketeering in the Family Secrets case and accused of taking part in two Outfit murders — although authorities believed he was involved in many more. He was too sick to be tried with five other defendants in the case last year.

Schweihs had looked forward to going to trial, Brayman said.

On Monday, a federal judge dismissed the indictment against him.

Jerry Lewis Gun Charge

July 30th, 2008

Oy with the gun and the props and the mashuguna and the thing…woah ….mister policeman, sir…

Vegas police: Jerry Lewis cited for gun in luggage

Police say they have confiscated a gun belonging to Jerry Lewis that was found in the 82-year-old entertainer’s carryon bag as he prepared to fly to Detroit from Las Vegas.

Las Vegas policeman Bill Cassell said Tuesday that the actor was cited Friday for carrying an unloaded concealed weapon at the Las Vegas airport.

Lewis’ manager, Claudia Marghilano, says the handgun is a hollowed-out prop gun that Lewis sometimes twirls during his show. She tells The Associated Press that the gun couldn’t fire.

Marghilano says Lewis didn’t know the gun was in the bag along with other props.

Cassell says if the gun were merely a prop “it wouldn’t be a weapon and we couldn’t cite him for carrying a weapon.”

Nearly Irresistible

July 30th, 2008

Just look at this face:

I need a good home!

If you are in the market to add a puppy family member, you cannot go wrong with this little darling. At 10 weeks, she is house-trained, super friendly, adorable and available for adoption through H.E.LP.  I know firsthand as we’ve been fostering her and her 6 litter-mates since they were a week old.

If you are not ready to adopt “Snoopy”, then slide a modest donation to the folks at H.E.L.P. or any other animal rescue organization of your choice!

I swear it wasn’t me.

July 1st, 2008

Way back in the good ol’ days of releasing our first record, when records were made of vinyl and releasing one took considerable effort, a fledgling rock band might be asked for an autograph. Who are we to reject such a request?!

Now of course it looks quite dated and egoistic. But I tell ya, at the time… well, I guess you had to be there.