The California wildfires on Google maps and news

Rather than contacting everyone you know who might live the LA or San Diego areas every few hours, you can use this useful Google map to check up on their area and then dive deeper into the latest news. It shows all of the wildfire sites, their status in terms of containment, vital stats, and related news stories.

Google Wildfires

This type of representation is especially helpful in trying to keep up with news that is so geographically sensitive and ever-changing. Let’s hope all these fire icons above turn to green (100% containment) very soon.

Giving back on the network

Dandelion NetworkOf course by now you’ve heard that the world is getting smaller, with the Internet as the centerpiece for that movement. Increasingly we find ourselves networked with our neighbors, and even the word “neighbors” has started to mean someone in another country on another continent . . . instead of someone who lives right next door to you.

With any infrastructure that gets put in place to network people, there is always extra capacity – the network seldom has to perform at peak levels to accomplish all the networking it needs to get done. An interesting idea that has been around for some time is using that extra capacity for something else while people aren’t actively using it.

Years ago I had my work computer set up so that when I wasn’t using it (meetings with the Bobs), it was searching for extraterrestrial life. Through the program SETI@home (SETI is a government program that stands for “Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence“) I had a screensaver that would kick in and start analyzing packets from the radio telescopes of the world for patterns that might indicate a meaningful signal from another planet. SETI would send the packets down to my computer, my computer would crunch them, and then send SETI the results.

Recently I saw that another group has picked up on this and started to use idle computer time to fight AIDS. So what is your computer doing when you aren’t using it? I hope something, no one likes a lazy computer.

Extending this idea to other networks, I have also heard that certain urban areas, Austin for one, envision an entire infrastructure of smart electric cars such that when your car is plugged in and not driving around, it is acting as a piece of a massive battery for the city such that excess power can be stored away in your car and accessed in times of higher demand.

Photo Credit: Michael Heiss

Bill Parcells leadership gems

Bill ParcellsGetting an MBA will teach you a lot of important things about management and leadership, but it’s important to balance out the lessons you take from academics with lessons from the good old School of Hard Knocks. I can think of very few people (other than my grandfather) who might be more qualified to teach at that school than Bill Parcells, legendary football coach and most recently coach of America’s Team, the Dallas Cowboys.

The other night in the Monday Night Football pregame Ed Werder brought up the fact that Bill had given Tony Romo (current Cowboys’ quarterback and former Parcells player) 11 lessons on leadership that Tony still has posted in his locker. In a rare glimpse behind the curtain, Bill stared straight into the camera and broke all those lessons down:

  1. Ignore other opinions. Outsiders (spouses, friends, media) don’t know what’s happening here.
  2. Clowns can’t run a huddle.
  3. Fat quarterbacks can’t avoid the rush. Train.
  4. Know the job cold. Study.
  5. Know your own players.
  6. Be the same guy every day.
  7. Throwing the ball away is a good play. (Avoid disastrous turnovers and other mistakes.)
  8. Learn to manage the game. Never take your eye off the clock.
  9. Get your team in the end zone. (Individual statistics don’t matter.)
  10. Don’t panic. Our ship can’t have a panic button.
  11. Don’t be a celebrity quarterback. We need battlefield commanders.

These are as applicable to the Fortune 500 as they are to the football field. I think my favorite is “clowns can’t run a huddle,” though they are all great.

After Bill had finished, all Chris Berman could say was “wow.” And the audience knew for just a minute what it would be like to be coached by one of the greats.

Watch it

Powered: Social commerce out-of-the-box

Powered Logo SmallThis past Monday I started my new gig with Powered, an Austin-based company that creates social commerce web destinations for big brands (Sony, HP, etc.). I’m currently a “Business Architect” – which basically is another way to say strategic pre-sales, or even better, the guy who does the demos.

I’m really excited about the company and the role I’ll be playing. Social commerce, which is basically social networking wrapped around online shopping for products and services, is a part of the web that is really on the upswing. Powered is an emerging company in this space, and offers a unique service by bundling a strong content development offering with a social technology platform.

Basically, if you are a marketer scratching your head about how to leverage this Web 2.0 business for the benefit of your brand, Powered can have you up and running with a fully loaded social site driving interest and business in three months (mileage may vary). Do I sound like a sales guy yet? I’m working on it.

Powered has roots in “Online Consumer Education,” and if you go to the website now you’ll see it still reflects that content-focused approach. But next month we’ll be relaunching with a push into Social Commerce and a brand new technology platform named Panorama. Exciting times.

Beyond the impetus to join Powered because it’s a well-positioned company in a rapidly growing area of the internet, I joined up mostly because I was really impressed with the management and leadership here. People is always the first place I look to not only know if I will be happy somewhere, but also to know whether a company is going to ultimately succeed or not. I have a good feeling about this one.

More about Social Commerce at Micropersuasion and DMNews.

Chicago to Austin, and I’m back

To the readers – I apologize for the spottiness of the blog during the past few weeks. It likely feels much longer to me than you, as I now live in a new city and have taken a new job (more on these two things later). But as of Friday the movers delivered the last of the worldly possessions, and as of today I got my new desk and laptop – so I am back online.

Thanks to you for hanging with me – in my absence the site traffic and subscriber count has stayed steady. And while I wasn’t looking the site passed 1000 views, which isn’t too shabby for three months.  Pop the champagne and stay tuned.