How to Make a Bad Idea Good (or at least less bad)

I’ve been reading a lot of pitches lately, and many are obviously ill-fated. Here are some themes that would benefit most of them:

1) Cut the budget in half. Costs will be higher than expected, and returns will be lower than expected. Inflated numbers won’t fool anyone.

2) Plan the project in multiple phases. Then focus on phase 1 – it should make sense on its own.If it’s only value comes from the success of future phases, then that’s a problem.

3) If you can’t even explain it clearly, then what chance does it have of actually working? Simplify.

4) Money does not equal marketing does not equal success. There is often low correlation between each.

5) Time is not money. Spend the time, don’t spend the money. If your team doesn’t have the in-house capabilities, then it’s not the right team for the project.

6) Experience matters – but experience doesn’t matter. Past successes are great, but what’s even better is experience that will help with the current idea.

7) Think small – but be ready for success. How will the idea scale if it turns out to work?

8) How will it fail? How long will it take? How much will it cost? Will there be any salvageable value?

The Largest Computer Hardware Business on the Planet

Mr. Hurd will bring his expertise running the largest computer hardware  business on the planet to Oracle, where he may be able to revive the fortunes of Sun’s products at H.P.’s expense.

Who do you think wrote that statement? It sure sounds like a press release from Oracle. But it comes from the pen of Ashlee Vance at the New York Times. Does Ashlee even read what he copies and pastes?

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/07/technology/07oracle.html?_r=1&hpw

Rushing Spies, or just middle-class Americans? The News Media Falls Short on Analysis (Again)

The New York Times, and essentially all the other media, have assumed the 11 middle-class people arrested are spies. This, even though there is insufficient evidence to even charge them for espionage.

Experts, on the other hand, wonder why such an elaborate spy ring would be so unfocused, ineffective, and unprofessional. Unfocused, because these 11 people lived middle-class lives, working in regular jobs, with no efforts made to obtain government positions or decision-making ability, or any type of access to anything. Ineffective because the most accurate source of news for a real estate agent in suburban New England was probably the New York Times (haha!). And unprofessional because some of the 11 admitted to having Russian ties, whereas true sleeper spies would have blended in completely.

So if these people are doing none of the stuff that we think of as actually espionage, why has the media labeled them as spies? It’s time for their friends, classmates, coworkers, employers, and universities to stand up for them and at least ensure they’re not tarred and feathered by the unthinking media.

They might, indeed, be spies after all. But let’s not assume so just because the government arrests them on trumped up money laundering charges.

A small victory for all U.S. citizens

With so much going wrong these days, at least all U.S. citizens and companies can breathe a sigh of relief at the following:

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in the Northern District of California rejected the Bush administration’s argument that no warrant was necessary to look through the electronic files of an American citizen who was returning home from a trip to South Korea.

Oh wait… that wasn’t the Bush administration that was claiming the right to seize a traveler’s laptop, keep in locked up for months, and examine it for contraband files without a warrant half a year later. That was the Obama administration. Fortunately the courts were there to prevent obscene abuse of executive power.

Read more here.

Just what we need: more cashiers with college degrees

The value of a college degree is already in question. Economists and educators are just beginning to realize that education (as distinct from job training) will not raise income or create new opportunities for the majority of the population. There just aren’t enough good jobs available. Furthermore, the good jobs that are available often require specific job skills and training that aren’t learned at college.

Walmart’s program to allow cashiers, clerks, and other low-level employees to spend $24,000 for an online bachelor’s degree seems rather absurd. Are there really better jobs available for the 1 million+ employees if only they had the degree? I think not – there aren’t enough jobs as it is.

@BPGlobalPR – PR, BP, and Twitter Converge

Follow a few basic rules of PR, throw millions of dollars at a problem, and it will go your way, right?

A crash course in PR from @BPGlobalPR:

1. Acknowledge the problem without acknowledging specifics. This was our very first tweet:

@BPGlobalPR: We regretfully admit that something has happened off of the Gulf Coast. More to come.
2. Be open about one piece of bad news and no more. You want to appear human, but you don’t want to appear like a bunch of idiots. There’s another word I’d use there, but I don’t think I can. It rhymes with mickleticks.

@BPGlobalPR: Sadly we can no longer certify our oil as Dolphin Safe.3. Threaten legal action if anyone crosses a line. You’re in PR, but you need to make sure you flex your muscle and establish some ground rules.

@BPGlobalPR: Please do NOT take or clean any oil you find on the beach. That is the property of British Petroleum and we WILL sue you.

View the rest of the tips here.

Inc Magazine: Best Industries for Starting a Business

Inc Magazine article highlighting 16 industries for starting a business. A few of the industries are a little goofy (e.g., selling homemade goods online and sperm banks), but others come from the just-released Top Industry data from AnythingResearch.com. Cool, huh? There are certainly a lot of other factors that go into identifying venture opportunities, but many of these  less well-known industries are worth looking at.

LinkedIn Privacy: now hiring managers can contact your former coworkers/managers behind your back

One of the *New* features that’s being tested on LinkedIn allows companies to connect with people who know job applicants and ask them to provide candid references.

On the wake of the Facebook privacy issues, LinkedIn is now opening up its network to employers in a way that individuals never anticipated and that violates the norms of the hiring process. Traditionally, employers ask for references and candidates provide names of people who they believe will speak favorably about them. LinkedIn now allows the employer to bypass the request for references and source references directly. This will produce a less biased (and less favorable) assessment of the candidate, giving even more control to the employer and less to the job seeker.

Is the Greece Bailout Big?

Does hearing about another $957 billion in bailout money make you cringe? Bailouts were yesterday’s news. In fact, I don’t even remember what the total U.S. bailout is. As reference, I needed to check Bloomberg to determine we’re passing $3.8 trillion in bailout funds (with many additional trillions committed).

U.S. Bailout

                                  --- Amounts (Billions)---
                                   Limit          Current
===========================================================
Total                            $11,623.63     $3,800.18
-----------------------------------------------------------
 Federal Reserve Total            $7,565.63     $1,478.88
  Primary Credit Discount           $110.74        $65.14
  Secondary Credit                    $0.19         $0.00
  Primary dealer and others         $147.00        $25.27
  ABCP Liquidity                    $152.11        $12.72
  AIG Credit                         $60.00        $37.36
  Net Portfolio CP Funding        $1,800.00       $248.67
  Maiden Lane (Bear Stearns)         $29.50        $28.82
  Maiden Lane II  (AIG)              $22.50        $18.82
  Maiden Lane III (AIG)              $30.00        $24.34
  Term Securities Lending           $250.00       $115.28
  Term Auction Facility             $900.00       $447.56
  Securities lending overnight       $10.00         $5.59
  Public-Private Investment Fund  $1,000.00         $0.00
  Term Asset-Backed Loan Facility $1,000.00         $0.00
  Currency Swaps/Other Assets       $606.00       $417.86
  MMIFF                             $540.00         $0.00
  GSE Debt Purchases                $600.00        $33.58
  Citigroup Bailout Fed Portion     $220.40         $0.00
  Bank of America Bailout            $87.20         $0.00
-----------------------------------------------------------
  FDIC Total                      $1,551.50       $400.30
   FDIC Liquidity Guarantees      $1,400.00       $261.30
   GE                               $139.00       $139.00
   Citigroup Bailout FDIC            $10.00         $0.00
   Bank of America Bailout FDIC       $2.50         $0.00
-----------------------------------------------------------
 Treasury Total                   $2,206.50     $1,621.00
  TARP                              $700.00       $387.00
  Tax Break for Banks                $29.00        $29.00
  Stimulus Package                  $168.00       $168.00
  Stimulus II                       $787.00       $787.00
  Treasury Exchange Stabilization    $50.00        $50.00
  Student Loan Purchases             $60.00         $0.00
  Citigroup Bailout                   $5.00         $0.00
  Bank of America Bailout             $7.50         $0.00
  Support for Fannie/Freddie        $400.00       $200.00
-----------------------------------------------------------
HUD Total                           $300.00       $300.00
  Hope for Homeowners FHA           $300.00       $300.00

Moving on to Greece…

Greece’s GDP is $356 billion; compared to U.S. GDP of $13,840 billion. Their bailout package is nearly triple their GDP. Now I understand why they’re rioting.

GDP and Bailout Size - Greece versus United States

Hackers Announce Japan Nuked by N. Korea??!

Back in 2007, hackers broke in to a website for the Intelligence Community and made off 64,000 email addresses.

Now, using that same list, they sent out a fake news report apparently from an intelligence agency bulletin. The email is directly traceable to Georgia and Hungary, but likely misdirection from another country entirely…

What’s interesting is that it’s written intelligibly (as far as government-speak goes) and follows conventional structure. Pretty sophisticated for a link going to a weight-loss site!

From: SSC@dia.mil [mailto:SSC@dia.mil]
Sent: Sunday, March 07, 2010 11:17 AM
Subject: FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Office of the Director of National Intelligence INTELLIGENCE BULLETIN UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

(U//FOUO) DPRK has carried out nuclear missile attack on Japan

06 March 2010

(U//FOUO) Prepared by Defense Intelligence Agency

(U//FOUO) Today, March 06, 2010 at 11.46 AM local time (UTC/GMT -5 hours), US seismographic stations recorded seismic activity in the area of Okinawa Island (Japan). According to National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has carried out an average range missile attack with use of nuclear warhead. The explosion caused severe destructions in the northern part of the Okinawa island. Casualties among the personnel of the US military base are being estimated at the moment.

(U//FOUO) In connection with the occurred events, it is necessary for the personnel of the services listed below to be ready for immediate mobilization:

CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY

DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY:
OFFICE OF INTELLIGENCE AND COUNTERINTELLIGENCE

DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY:
OFFICE OF INTELLIGENCE AND ANALYSIS

DEPARTMENT OF STATE:
BUREAU OF INTELLIGENCE AND RESEARCH

DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY:
OFFICE OF INTELLIGENCE AND ANALYSIS

DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION:
OFFICE OF NATIONAL SECURITY INTELLIGENCE

FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
NATIONAL SECURITY BRANCH

NATIONAL GEOSPATIAL-INTELLIGENCE AGENCY

NATIONAL RECONNAISSANCE OFFICE

NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY

UNITED STATES AIR FORCE

UNITED STATES ARMY

UNITED STATES COAST GUARD

UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS

UNITED STATES NAVY
________________

(U//FOUO) Additional information can be found in the following report:

[LINK REMOVED]
________________
Office of the Director of National Intelligence Washington, D.C. 20511

UPDATE: hundreds of visitors are seeking information about this from all over the country – from Maryland to Oklahoma; from outside consultants to intelligence agencies. Post a comment with your reaction. Did you click the link?