FAIL: Chase Feedback ‘Compromised’ by Customers


JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. sent this FAIL-o-gram to remind me to proof-read my bank statements. How the financial behemoth let the word “compromised” instead of “comprised” slip by the copy-editors is beyond me. The result is an obtuse? description of its “Chase Panel” survey program as having been somehow jeopardized by its clients. I’m sure Chase always gets numbers correct, right? However, if they’re going to make a typo, could they at least do it by adding few zeroes at the end of my balance?


New Tune from Static People: The Late Projectionist



The song is a better page-turner

Static People takes you to a mournful matinee with its latest track, “The Late Projectionist.” Give it a spin here or download it, compliments of the band.

You may also enjoy the novel of the same name by Static People’s bassist, now available digitally…
Get the Kindle version of The Late Projectionist. Here?s the complimentary Kindle app for iPhone (launches iTunes). As always, The Late Projectionist is available in paperback. Very cheap.

Sonoma Online Media Smackdown

The more the merrier/murkier. Pick one.

I’m not too proud to admit it took me 15 minutes to realize that “#SOTU” was the Twitter hash-tag for Tuesday’s “State of the Union.” I was too busy trying to decipher J.M. Berry’s tweets to follow the President’s speech through the proxy of 140 characters.

Of course, Berry’s own commentary reads like a typography salad that requires a few cranks of the Enigma machine to decrypt. Defeated, I went back to “#SOTU,” which I figured was some hip, Japanese noodle craze I’d missed since I never eat anything I find on the Internet. It is, after all, a “cesspool” according to some pundits.

Sonoma must have its hip waders on, for cesspool or not, Sonoma is deep in the digital mire as one of the most well represented communities on the Internet. There are a dozen or so websites that now complement its media ecosystem, proffering information from hard news to tips on what wine to bring to a fistfight.

Among the NKOTB (yes, I just used an ’80s boy band acronym) is, the local iteration of the AOL-backed community news site that recently made its local bow.

Ditto, the New York Times-driven “YouTown” initiative, which also boasts a Sonoma edition. This, of course, is in addition to the sites of our local newspapers and a smattering of other homegrown initiatives telling Sonoma’s stories via pixel like so many bubbles in glass of Gloria.

Why the sudden flurry of interest in Sonoma by media companies great and small? Well, in the case of the venerable, 132-year-old Index-Tribune, “sudden” might not be the most accurate notion, but the there has certainly been an up-tick in local online coverage the past five years. The reasons are myriad – the barrier to entry is nil, everyone’s an “expert” and Sonoma is intrinsically interesting not least of which because we’re all here (well, I’m in hiding but that’s beside the point).

Likewise, there’s a misapprehension among a certain sort of media huckster that we’re early adopters. We’re not. We’d still be pulling corks out with our teeth had some tourist not left a winged-corkscrew on a Plaza picnic table back in the ’70s. Even then, everyone first thought it was a lewd jumping-jack toy.

Perhaps we’re serving as some sort of test market – media guinea pigs let loose upon an ever-expanding proving grounds. This is about as palatable to some locals as the Tuskegee syphilis experiments of the ’30s, wherein citizens were injected with the disease under some diabolic pretense for the sake of science. For the record, Sonomans are perfectly capable of getting syphilis on their own, let alone local news, which, given the size of this town, they’re apt to have made themselves. I mean, how many times have you thumbed through the latest edition after a wild weekend to see if you made it into the police blotter? It’s damn near a rite of passage here.

This hyper-local coverage trend can lead to a kind of homespun myopia. Here we have the greatest communications tool ever invented in the history of humankind, one that can connect us to the world at large and most everybody in it and yet we’re more interested in our backyard.

Surely, this is why I mistook the State of the Union for a noodle. And what of the State of the Valley, to be hosted by our local Chamber of Commerce this week? I’ll find myself a Navajo Code Talker and follow it on J.M. Berry’s Twitter stream, hash-tag #sonomamediaechochamber.

5 Tips for New Apple CEO

Apple?s Steve Jobs is taking medical leave just as tech writers were running out of puns on his name. The ?Patience of Jobs? and the ?Getta Jobs? gags, not mention the ?How do you like them apples?? will soon be retired at least for a while. In the meantime, the gaping hole left behind will have to be filled with someone with the same verve, nerve and ability to swerve as the Apple co-founder.

Unfortunately, the iClone is still in beta so we won?t be seeing a shiny new Jobs-spare anytime soon, so we?ll just have to make do with acting CEO Tim Cook who?s held the position when Jobs has previously taken leave for a liver transplant. Of course, there?s surely a coterie of drooling bastards who?ve been eyeballing Steve?s job since his bout with pancreatic cancer in 2004. Should anyone else ever get a shot at the gig, here are five tips on how to be the next visionary of Apple?s eye:

1.) Be iconic. Jobs? is known for his black mock turtleneck and the mid-rinse blue jeans, which have comprised the CEO?s costume since the late 80s. This is what I like to call an ?action figure outfit,? meaning, the costume in which one will be molded in plastic. Think Anna Wintour?s sunglasses or Dali?s mustache or Buckethead?s bucket.

2.) Be divisive. As Ricky Nelson crooned, ?You can?t please everybody, so you?ve got to please yourself,? which is either about masturbating at an orgy or focusing like a laser on one?s own vision. Provided you?re vision is in sync with market desires, or better, foments said desire, you?ll likely be on the right track. In fact, if you don?t rile any sort of opposition ? be that from your board, stockholders or the tech pundit of the week ? you?re not creating ?disruptive technologies? just, um, ruptive ones.

3.) Be brilliant. It turns out you have to have the goods if you actually want to impress anyone and contort the adoration of the masses to one?s favor. As sci-fi scribe Arthur C. Clarke opined, ?Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.? Think back to the prehistoric telephony you pocketed in the dark days before the iPhone ? if you?re honest with yourself you?ll probably recall a bit of awe and wonderment akin to perhaps being shown the magic of fire. Of course, being brilliant means being ahead of the curve but not so far ahead as to make a wrong turn, losing your peeps on the way. Remember the Newton, Apple?s ill-fated first foray into the handheld computing market back when we called them PDAs (?personal digital assistant? now sounds as quaint as ?public display of affection?)?

4.) Re-invent the wheel. Jobs and Woz didn?t invent the personal computer, they perfected it, or at least a version of it ripe for its time. Mp3 players, mobile phones? Ditto. Apple has consistently entered existing markets, improved them beyond measure and come to dominate them. When?s the last time you went to a record store? Sure, Jobs and his gang might have cost the hairball brimming with alt-metal trivia behind the counter his job, but he sold you the one good Helmet track without having to buy the whole album too.

5.) Be secretive. This may sound counter-intuitive in the era of Facebook and rampant lip-service to corporate transparency but, alas, it?s a sure-fire way to spur conjecture, conversation and wishful-thinking on the part of consumers, media and (sometimes more importantly) competitors. Consider the fact that there were at least a couple manufacturers who dumped their own tablet lines mid-production after witnessing the marvel of the iPad last year. Jobs is so damn secretive, for example, no one actually knows what?s wrong with him, which keeps everyone guessing and stock prices bobbing along.

?The right to privacy of a CEO about medical conditions should be outweighed by the need for disclosure under certain conditions,? wrote Ben W. Heinman, Jr., author of High Performance with High Integrity, of Jobs illness in the Atlantic Online. Fat chance that?ll happen. One of the joys of driving the Apple cart is choosing when to upset it.

Sonoma Transit Trials

Not the Wine Train.

This is being written from within the innards of BART, the Bay Area Rapid Transit system that wends through the large intestine of the greater Bay Area like a behemoth tapeworm. It is both marvelous and beguiling. Especially considering that, heretofore, my commute experience comprised driving from the Springs to EDK, which actually takes a smidge longer than zipping from Rockridge to SOMA, the locations betwixt which current contracts have me bobbing like a cork atop the Bay.

I’ve heard tell of a Golden Gate Transit bus that once took commuters from Sonoma to San Francisco, but so far as I can tell it has evaporated into the mists of memory. Meaning, there’s no direct way to commute from Wine Country to, um, the outer limits, besides hopping in an emissions-emitting vehicular bunion on one’s carbon footprint. Surely there must be a rideshare program or even a “casual carpool” as it’s called, which somehow sounds less like a viable means of getting to work than swingers getting it on in the backseat – unless that’s your job (insert rim-shot here).

Of course, there is the “gondola” but that requires a certain heartiness of soul. I don’t mean the romantic Venetian kind, rather the massive tubs used to route grapes from harvest to date with the crush facility.

If you time it right, you can hop in some rich dude’s estate-grown varietal en route to a custom crush pad in San Francisco where some tatted-up assistant winemaker lets him take credit for the resulting plonk. Don’t wear white. In fact, don’t wear anything. That way you can stage a miraculous birth as “Bacchus reborn,” which will confuse everyone just long enough to get the hell out of the joint. Sure, you’re skin will be purple but it’s the content of your character that counts.

Sonomans seeking public transit alternatives within the confines of the county have long used Sonoma County Transit’s fairly thorough routes, though, mysteriously, none travel east of the Plaza. Some have quietly suggested that this says something about class distribution in the Valley but their supposition is based on a false corollary: “East-siders don’t ride the bus because they drive BMWs.” This is patently untrue since many actually drive Mercedes. And some don’t even drive at all – they take the secret monorail that runs through the wine caves and is available to only the crème de la crème of Sonoma society. Oh, you haven’t ridden the monorail? How bohemian of you.

The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit district (SMART) is being pretty mum about their efforts to bring high-speed rail through the counties, at least as far as courting bids is concerned. While contractors are vying for the big construction gigs, someone savvy from the beverage biz could be making a play to run the cocktail car. Or, perhaps more apropos, the tasting room – on wheels (and not the old “open-container in the car” type either). I’m talking about a bona fide, real deal “pour and snore” with sommeliers who dispense too little and talk too much – but at, like, 200 miles an hour. That means you could be in the city in 15 minutes – just enough time to catch a buzz but not overdue it. Hell, you could make a cereal out of those little tasting room crackers and a splash of merlot (trust me, certain Sonomans have done worse). Forget the Napa Valley Wine Train, climb aboard the Sonoma Express and have one on the house as the conductor shuffles by collecting corks. Choo-choo!

This is all probably moot anyway. I hear someone in WiredSonoma is building an eco-friendly jetpack that runs on fumes collected from breathalyzer tests – our local renewable energy source.