Archive for October, 2009

Make Uncle Sam proud this Halloween

Make Uncle Sam proud this Halloween

Ahhh, Halloween – a holiday where its OK for kids to talk to strangers, a holiday that makes it acceptable for all of us to forget about the diet for a night, and a holiday that gives Uncle Sam something to look forward to!  Halloween is also a holiday that, despite the anemic economy, rakes in billions of dollars every year, and has even seen a 3% increase in candy sales in 2009.  The National Retail Federation estimates that the average household purchased between $18-$20 worth of candy this year, coming out to a total of 6oo million pounds of candy purchased (heaven really IS a place on earth)!!!  And, although we have seen a rise in commodity prices for things like sugar, shoppers still rarely downgrade for less expensive branded candy (what can I tell ya, NOTHING, replaces a Snickers…nothing).

So, enjoy the holiday, don’t worry about all the money you spent to dress up like Michael Jackson, you may stumble upon some of the 600 million pounds of candy, and it’ll make it all worth while.  Here’s hoping you all have a very enjoyable, safe holiday!


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We live in a virtual loop.  Your ideas and opinions can so easily be shared with hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people!  Its no longer considered unique to have a blog, and your grandfather posts status updates on Facebook every 30 minutes.  With information traveling with such ease these days, and your boss and 12 year old cousin checking your blog, its becoming rather important to remain factual and respectful.  With that said, I have one piece of advice for any blogger, facebook-er, tweeter, or Myspace Cadet – being opinionated is one thing (and your right), but being informed is so much more powerful.  Instead of going off on useless, often offensive rants, perhaps it would be worthwhile to have factual support or reason before sharing your thoughts with the world.  Luckily though (or perhaps unluckily), if this is not your prerogative, no one is going to shut you up for it.

Just a thought, spun with the thread of this virtual life we live in.

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Digsby.comThere’s nothing like free marketing, really, nothing compares.  On this note, I want to touch on something that is very personal to me and has relevance to free marketing.  My husband, Steve, founder and creator of Digsby (digsby.com), is a graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology.  He got his BS in IT in 2004, and went on to do his MBA there as well.  It was during his MBA that he wrote the business plan for Digsby for an Entrepreneurship class.  He got his business funded by an angel investor, and moved into Venture Creations (RIT’s Business Incubator).  Steve went on to hire a group of RIT co-op students, who eventually all came on full time and formed the backbone of the company.  Steve speaks at multiple RIT events, and has even been the Key Note speaker at the opening of the Center for Innovation and Entrpreneurship at RIT.

Steve, and Digsby, have been written about in everything from PC Magazine, and TechCrunch to The Wallstreet Journal.  Every interview and meeting Steve has – RIT is mentioned and shown in such a positive light as being the birthplace of Digsby and the center where the talent was found.  Steve, and the Digsby team, are the best example of commercialized student innovation at RIT, I challenge you to find better.  It is because of this that I am confused as to why RIT has yet to truly leverage this (Digsby, Steve, the team).  Dr. Destler (the President of RIT) speaks often and highly of innovation at RIT.  If this is the goal of the institute, why is there so little done in partnership or support of Digsby?

On every desktop at RIT, Digsby should be installed.  Support a product that was designed on your grounds!  You have AIM and other software installed, but not Digsby?  Really?

The contacts RIT has are phenomenal, but so are the contacts Steve has.  At the very least, RIT should be communicating with local journals, like the Rochester Business Journal, to speak of the success Digsby has had, because, well, the founder of Digsby does the same for you.  Press releases should be sent out every time Digsby is featured in a leading magazine, hits a milestone, or is invited to be a part of an exclusive conference (ie. DEMO).

It won’t be forever that Digsby/dotSyntax will be located in the RIT incubator, but while it is, and while you have such a valuable resource, perhaps you should leverage it.

Loyalty is a two-way street.


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we_can_do_itI read a very interesting article at Businessweek.com today (I have forgone paying for subscriptions).  Anyways, in a special feature written by Marcus Buckingham, the “Ten Myths about the Lives of Women” are explained.  Now, I always begin reading everything with an open mind, but I must admit, I did notice right away who authored the article – a guy.  Buckingham presents his arguments numerically, and references a number of authorities in the field.  The data he presents is unarguable, however, his conclusions based on the data seems to be a bit exaggerated.  It seems as though he knew the conclusions he wanted to come to before looking at the evidence, and simply found studies to support his hypotheses without considering alternative data (if it was that easy, I would have had a PhD…4 years ago).  I won’t argue the statistics presented in the article, but I find the reporting to be very flawed and inconclusive.

I think we should empower the women who feel that they want to enter the workforce and have a family instead of finding reasons why they should not.  The first point made in this article is the most flawed of all 10 “myths”:

1. With better education, better jobs, and better pay, women today are happier and more fulfilled than they were 40 years ago.***

Actually, the opposite is true. Surveys of more than 1.3 million men and women reveal that women today are less happy relative to where they were 40 years ago, and relative to men.

***Seems like a stretch to prove the author’s point.  The conclusion made is ridiculously over analyzed and exaggerated.  I mean, perhaps women are less happy because there are more societal stresses, or higher divorce rates, or they have a harder time losing weight.  All of these are factors of happiness, which would make this argument inadequate.  Or, if all of these factors are considered (and just not mentioned), then this point is irrelevant to the point of the article, and wouldn’t make sense unless you eliminated “better education, better jobs, better pay”.

Another example:

8. Kids want more time with their working mothers.***
Not according to the kids. When 1,000 children in grades 3-12 were asked what they wanted from their mom, only 10% said “more time.” More than a third said they wanted their mom to be “less stressed and tired.”

***Who came up with this?  And who cares?  Rarely do people argue that the kids want to spend more time with their mothers.  Leave it to the kids, I mean, where would Susie take her boyfriend for a makeout session if her mom was home all the time?  When would little Tommy get to sit at home and play video games without mom nagging?  I find this to be a highly irrelevant argument.


I am definitely no feminist, but I have a hard time understand the point or conclusions of this article.  Take a look, maybe you have a different perspective, I’d love to hear it.




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Documentation of the day I found clarity!  Photo cred:  sister

Documentation of the day I found clarity! Photo cred: sister

I apologize for being so infrequent with my blog posts in the last few days.  My mind has been pretty focused on digging me out of a hole (thank you mind).  However, I am happy to report that I am feeling a lot less lost than I was the last time we “spoke”.  Well, I think I may finally be getting somewhere with all of this research.  This may be premature (although after 2 years of being buried in literature it doesn’t seem so to me), but I think I have figure out my research question.  For the next few weeks I will be making sure that the research already out there warrants my decision and that everyone is happy with my choice (Moira, Neil, etc).

Once I have gotten the “go ahead” from all involved parties I will report more on my idea, but for now I prefer to keep it undisclosed (call me superstitious).  I can tell you that, the topic really interests me and I won’t mind spending 50-60 hours a week with it for the next 3 years (I mean, that’s more time than I devote to my husband!).

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Do Not Disturb

Keep an eye out for this girl...she might be lost

Keep an eye out for this girl...she might be lost

Thursday, yesterday, was the first day I actually felt really, really lost.  I felt, and feel as though, I’ve been swimming in literature for not just the time I’ve been in the UK, but for about a year now.  I’ve done a lot of reading, and taking notes, and more reading, and mapping, and staring at massive amounts of post-its on walls.  I felt as though I had the field pretty mapped out.  I’ve mapped on paper, in excel, on napkins, on walls, with post-its, with Skittles, and well, pretty much anything that was color-coded and within arms reach at the moment I felt I was on to something.  After all of this, I felt like I was going in the right direction.  I know what interests me, and I know (in the back of my head, somewhere that is inaccessible right now) where the gap exists and where my PhD will add value.  However, I’m still so lost.  There are so many ideas and so many directions that I could go, but I find myself focusing on the big picture (a death wish) instead of taking it one day at a time; as soon as you do this, as soon as you start thinking about methodology, and lenses, and theories, and philosophy, instead of whats in front of you, the guys in orange hats throw up a ‘detour’ sign, and well, pardon my French, you’re screwed.

After a sleepless night, I “think” I have a plan to get back on track.  Stay tuned for updates…or keep an eye out for a girl stumbling aimlessly around Henley mumbling things about theoretical lenses…both should give you a clue as to how I’m doing.

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Those darn pigs…

pigI have to be honest, I have a fabulous immune system.  I rarely ever get sick, and attribute this to the fact that my mother let me get dirty as a child (not to mention the fact that I grew up in the country with lots of pets – you know, the normal ones, like emus, donkeys, goats, horses, etc).  Anyways, after promising myself that I would not get sick for the duration on my time across the pond…I get sick.  It happened on Sunday evening.  I was settling down to go to sleep, and felt that my throat was a bit “scratchy”, not thinking much of it, and internally praying that this wasn’t the start of something, I go to sleep.  Oh, well, that “scratch” turned into a full blown “I can’t eat anything my throat hurts”; now, although great for my waistline, this does nothing for my energy, and I have a lot to do.  Planning ahead (ah, its great to be a planner), I packed an arsenal of medication.  I take some meds, head to campus, and try again with this eating thing.  Luckily (for my energy, not my waistline), my throat feels better enough to stuff down four cookies.  I decide to ignore the fact that I’m ill and get some work done.  The evening rolls around, and I begin to feel horrible again.  I go to the “loo” to wash my face, look in the mirror, and wonder if that vile reflection is actually my own.  Feeling (and looking) disgusting, I decide to head home to get a good night sleep.  I wake up today…still sick.  I don’t think PhD students are allowed to get sick.  All I have to say is, if I have swine flu, I’m not going to brake the next time I see a pig in the road (true story, almost hit a pig the other night coming home from school).

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