Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Hiding the Blog bar from Blogger

Thanks again for all of those code gurus who manage to hack just about everything and anything there is out there in code-land...

I was looking for a way to remove the Blogger bar from a Blogger blog, and came across this little snippet of code that seems to do the trick:

#navbar-iframe { display: none !important;}

In doing so, this allowed me to embed Blogger's blog into an existing website so that the exterior framing, navigation bars and footer could remain exactly consistent with the rest of the website.

Great tip courtesy of the following website:

Red Dream Studios

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Gee, you really CAN find anything on the Internet

It takes a lot to impress me, but a few days ago, I was throughly impressed -- enough to take time to blog about it.

Red Dream Studios recently secured a video production project with SoftImage. We're very proud of this, as it places them as being one of the largest and most prestigious clients we've ever served. Our mandate is to produce an interactive training DVD based on video material that was previously captured -- a whole 45 hours worth!

Since the project is not going to end up on television, or being played on set-top players, we chose to author the navigtional interface in Adobe Flash. All video was converted into FLV files that were loaded by clicking on various menu options or chapter points.

So what had impressed me?

I was looking for a quick way to convert time into seconds. Specifically, the time had to be formatted as an expression of 00:00:00 (hours, minutes, seconds -- the time indicated to me on the original video clip timeline), and when input, I needed to have the result in seconds. This would allow me to seek to a specific point in the FLV file that would represent a chapter point. The seek function in Flash requires seconds as its parameter.

So for example, 0:03:08:39 would equal 11319 seconds.

I couldn't figure out immediately how to do this, and various searches for "time calculator", "time conversion", "minute to second conversion", left me with the wrong results. In the end, I searched for something explicit like, "format 00:00:00 in seconds", and I came across a post on a developper site for Microsoft Excel. And believe it or not, Excel has some great functions that allow me to do exactly what I was looking for.

Thus the power in the internet. You really can find the answers to imponderables. Now, if it could only tell me the meaning of life...

PS: The formula in Excel is: =RIGHT(A1,LEN(A1)-FIND(":",A1))*24*60*60. Put your time, expressed as 0:00:00:00 in cell A1, and there you go.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Web predicts the End of the World

It seems we only have 4 years left to exist. And although the End of Days has been predicated and chanted throughout history many times over, this one may possible have some merit.

Another example of the power that resides within the internet. We've always argued to potential customers who are not online that their businesses will undoubtedly (and eventually) suffer from not having a website to promote themselves. This is probably even more true in the Web 2.0 era.

The following content has been pilfered from another blog (Mirror of Aphrodite), but I'm repeating it on my blog because I watched a Discovery channel documentary this past weekend eliciting this very same content.

Maybe some of you have heard of The Web Bot Project, but for those of you who have not, it's quite intriguing. The Web Bot Project, developed in the late 1990's, was created to assist in making stock market predictions.

The technology uses a system of spiders to crawl the Internet and search for keywords, much like a search engine does. When a keyword is located, the bot program takes a snapshot of the text preceding and following the keyword. This snapshot of text is sent to a central location where it is then filtered to define meaning.

The projects concept is aimed at tapping into the "collective unconscious" of the universe and it's inhabitants. As well, there is an interesting time concept involved and an unusual concept of a "tipping point" regarding the past, current, and future times. It goes a bit deeper than viewing what those of us on the Internet are saying.

But in 2001, bot operators began to notice that stock market predictions were not the only matters being accurately predicted by the program. They began to take notice of coincidence with occurrences and explored it further.

One of the first accurate predictions from the bot program took place in June of 2001. The program predicted that a life altering event would take place within the next 60-90 days. An occurrence of such proportion that it's effects would be felt worldwide. The program based it's prediction on "web chatter" which ultimately represents the collective unconscious of society.

Regrettably, the bot program's prediction proved accurate and the Twin Towers fell on 9/11/2001.

Here's where it starts to become very interesting. The bot program also predicts a worldwide calamity taking place in the year 2012. For those of you who study astrology, prophecies, and the like, you may already be familiar with this date.

The Mayans were considered by many as great "seers" and built a society that focused it's studies on time, synchronicity, and consciousness. The Mayan calendar predicts that mankind will end in the year 2012. A period which also signifies the end of the current era in the Mayan calendar. But this end may represent a symbolic end - more so than a literal end. An end that refers to a shift in consciousness, such as a societal shift into a spiritual age from a scientific one.

Many have derived similar predictions from the I Ching or China's "Book of Changes." The I Ching was written in 2800 B.C. and is revered to this day in China. A gentlemen by the name of Terrence McKenna studied the I Ching intensely and began to see a pattern emerging. From that pattern he produced a time line graph and called it the "Time Wave Zero" theory.

Terrence's time line derived from the I Ching ended in the year 2012 - December 21, 2012 to be exact. The winter solstice.

Even more intriguing is the fact that many suggest that there is scientific evidence that points to a very rare astrological occurrence taking place the year of 2012. For millenia, the Mayans believed in the existence of a dark rift in the center of the Milky Way and considered it fact. Only recently did modern scientists discover that it actually does exist.

Many exist, however, in the center of our galaxy is a black hole. And in the year 2012, it is suggested that the sun and the earth will be in direct alignment with this black hole. Scientist speculate that magnetic shifts could take place as a result. In essence, it is theorized that the poles could reverse. The poles have shifted before and Einstein, himself, had suggested this pole shifting theory in 1955.

And I'm sure many of you have heard of Merlin the magician. Merlin was believed to be a Celtic shaman that many of his day considered a "crazed man of the forest." As a result, during those times he was referred to as "Merlin the Wild." But what many don't realize is that Merlin was considered Europe's greatest oracle or "seer."

Merlin predicted that the planets will "run riot" through the constellations. Completely off their normal paths of rotation. Scientists speculate that if this were to happen, it would be a result of the earth changing it's rotation - or the poles shifting.

Merlin also predicted that the use of "talking stones" would be taking place during this time. For those of you who don't know, stone is the basis of our modern technology. Quartz in particular. Quartz technology is used in cell phones as well as computers. Silicone quartz stores information that can then be retrieved.

Another interesting side note to this, that I will be discussing in an upcoming post, is the use of quartz by the Mayans. The Mayans coveted what were known as the crystal skulls. Skulls carved from natural quartz crystal. They claimed the skulls "talked" to them and gave them information. Could it be that they actually did? Based on our knowledge of the capabilities of quartz crystal and it's uses for technology - it seems quite possible. Hewlett Packard studied the skulls in 1970 and their results were startling.

The oldest tribe in the United States, the Hopi Indian tribe, believed that the world has been created and destroyed four times previously. The Hopi's believe that we are on the brink of the Fifth World. They predicted that this occurrence would be preceded by submersion (rising waters), the sun getting hotter (global warming), and earth occurrences (hurricane's, tornadoes, and mass flooding).

The Hopi's also predicted that the world at this time would be criss-crossed by a spider web, which could be likened to the Internet. They believed that the end of the Fourth World would be followed by the beginning of the Fifth World. The evolution of life requires violence.

Seems that these beliefs are in line with the predictions made from one of the greatest book of prophecies ever written - the Bible. And the Book of Revelations, in particular.
So sinners repent, and all that jazz. But we're likely do to more harm to ourselves by our blatant misuse of natural resources, polluting our planet, and not doing enough to stop an irreversible environmental meltdown.

One of the reasons why Red Dream Studios has adopted a "green" philosophy. We operate in a paper-free environment. And other than the power consumed to run our equipment, we are also carbon-free.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Six Simple Principles of Viral Marketing

The term "viral marketing" is offensive. Call yourself a Viral Marketer and people will take two steps back. I would. "Do they have a vaccine for that yet?" you wonder. A sinister thing, the simple virus is fraught with doom, not quite dead yet not fully alive, it exists in that nether genre somewhere between disaster movies and horror flicks.

But you have to admire the virus. He has a way of living in secrecy until he is so numerous that he wins by sheer weight of numbers. He piggybacks on other hosts and uses their resources to increase his tribe. And in the right environment, he grows exponentially. A virus don't even have to mate -- he just replicates, again and again with geometrically increasing power, doubling with each iteration:

In a few short generations, a virus population can explode.

Viral Marketing Defined

What does a virus have to do with marketing? Viral marketing describes any strategy that encourages individuals to pass on a marketing message to others, creating the potential for exponential growth in the message's exposure and influence. Like viruses, such strategies take advantage of rapid multiplication to explode the message to thousands, to millions.

Off the Internet, viral marketing has been referred to as "word-of-mouth," "creating a buzz," "leveraging the media," "network marketing." But on the Internet, for better or worse, it's called "viral marketing." While others smarter than I have attempted to rename it, to somehow domesticate and tame it, I won't try. The term "viral marketing" has stuck.

The Classic Example

The classic example of viral marketing is, one of the first free Web-based e-mail services. The strategy is simple:
  • Give away free e-mail addresses and services
  • Attach a simple tag at the bottom of every free message sent out: "Get your private, free email at" and
  • Then stand back while people e-mail to their own network of friends and associates,
    Who see the message
  • Sign up for their own free e-mail service, and then
  • Propel the message still wider to their own ever-increasing circles of friends and associates.

Like tiny waves spreading ever farther from a single pebble dropped into a pond, a carefully designed viral marketing strategy ripples outward extremely rapidly.

Elements of a Viral Marketing Strategy

Accept this fact. Some viral marketing strategies work better than others, and few work as well as the simple strategy. But below are the six basic elements you hope to include in your strategy. A viral marketing strategy need not contain ALL these elements, but the more elements it embraces, the more powerful the results are likely to be. An effective viral marketing strategy:
  • Gives away products or services
  • Provides for effortless transfer to others
  • Scales easily from small to very large
  • Exploits common motivations and behaviors
  • Utilizes existing communication networks
  • Takes advantage of others' resources
  • Let's examine at each of these elements briefly

1. Gives away valuable products or services

"Free" is the most powerful word in a marketer's vocabulary. Most viral marketing programs give away valuable products or services to attract attention. Free e-mail services, free information, free "cool" buttons, free software programs that perform powerful functions but not as much as you get in the "pro" version. Wilson's Second Law of Web Marketing is "The Law of Giving and Selling". "Cheap" or "inexpensive" may generate a wave of interest, but "free" will usually do it much faster. Viral marketers practice delayed gratification. They may not profit today, or tomorrow, but if they can generate a groundswell of interest from something free, they know they will profit "soon and for the rest of their lives" (with apologies to "Casablanca"). Patience, my friends. Free attracts eyeballs. Eyeballs then see other desirable things that you are selling, and, presto! you earn money. Eyeballs bring valuable e-mail addresses, advertising revenue, and e-commerce sales opportunities. Give away something, sell something.

2. Provides for effortless transfer to others

Public health nurses offer sage advice at flu season: stay away from people who cough, wash your hands often, and don't touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Viruses only spread when they're easy to transmit. The medium that carries your marketing message must be easy to transfer and replicate: e-mail, website, graphic, software download. Viral marketing works famously on the Internet because instant communication has become so easy and inexpensive. Digital format make copying simple. From a marketing standpoint, you must simplify your marketing message so it can be transmitted easily and without degradation. Short is better. The classic is: "Get your private, free email at" The message is compelling, compressed, and copied at the bottom of every free e-mail message.

3. Scales easily from small to very large

To spread like wildfire the transmission method must be rapidly scalable from small to very large. The weakness of the Hotmail model is that a free e-mail service requires its own mailservers to transmit the message. If the strategy is wildly successful, mailservers must be added very quickly or the rapid growth will bog down and die. If the virus multiplies only to kill the host before spreading, nothing is accomplished. So long as you have planned ahead of time how you can add mailservers rapidly you're okay. You must build in scalability to your viral model.

4. Exploits common motivations and behaviors

Clever viral marketing plans take advantage of common human motivations. What proliferated "Netscape Now" buttons in the early days of the Web? The desire to be cool. Greed drives people. So does the hunger to be popular, loved, and understood. The resulting urge to communicate produces millions of websites and billions of e-mail messages. Design a marketing strategy that builds on common motivations and behaviors for its transmission, and you have a winner.

5. Utilizes existing communication networks

Most people are social. Nerdy, basement-dwelling computer science grad students are the exception. Social scientists tell us that each person has a network of 8 to 12 people in their close network of friends, family, and associates. A person's broader network may consist of scores, hundreds, or thousands of people, depending upon her position in society. A waitress, for example, may communicate regularly with hundreds of customers in a given week. Network marketers have long understood the power of these human networks, both the strong, close networks as well as the weaker networked relationships. People on the Internet develop networks of relationships, too. They collect e-mail addresses and favorite website URLs. Affiliate programs exploit such networks, as do permission e-mail lists. Learn to place your message into existing communications between people, and you rapidly multiply its dispersion.

6. Takes advantage of others' resources

The most creative viral marketing plans use others' resources to get the word out. Affiliate programs, for example, place text or graphic links on others' websites. Authors who give away free articles, seek to position their articles on others' webpages. A news release can be picked up by hundreds of periodicals and form the basis of articles seen by hundreds of thousands of readers. Now someone else's newsprint or webpage is relaying your marketing message. Someone else's resources are depleted rather than your own.

Copyright © 2000, 2005, Ralph F. Wilson, E-Mail Marketing and Online Marketing editor, Web Marketing Today. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Face it -- you're addicated to Facebook

Ok, you've heard the same story many times before:

  1. Your wife or friend tries to convince you to join
  2. Your wife or friend was convinced to join by one of her friends.
  3. You, your wife, or your friend were all reluctant to join another blog, myspace, or other service dedicated to cluttering up the internet.
  4. You, your wife, or your friend, all reluctantly agree to start your own profile.
  5. You, your wife, or your friend are now highly addicted to Facebook.
  6. You, your wife, or your friend are now all in competition to see who can tally up the most friends possible -- whether or not you've actually spoken to the person face-to-face in over 10 years is irrelevant, it's still a notch on your Friends list.

I have to admit, I was truly uninterested in Facebook. However, once my wife convinced me to join, I was hooked. For me however, there is always an alterior motive.

Blogging is a well known marketing tool to help promote you and your business, or whatever other fiction you want to publish all over the internet. Facebook is another such useful marketing tool, particularly since it involves direct one-to-one conversations with people you wouldn't normally speak with, or haven't spoken to in a long time. The other benefit is that these friends also belong to networks of people who you may have one met, or might be interested in meeting if they are in a position to need your services.

Imagine that... Facebook lets you network with networks of people who you may have never had a chance to chat with. Imagine the potential source of clientele that such a service now exposes you to. Well, as President of Red Dream Studios, I will not shy away from exposing my face on the internet, and hope that the good word spreads...

To see my Facebook profile, visit