USP = Unique Selling Proposition

I subscribe to the RSS feed at SpywareInfo

SpywareInfo has a new(ish) feature, listing news headlines relevant to spyware, privacy and safely using the computer.

Unfortunately they’re now covering all things internet, like Microsoft, Google fight Web bill. The problem is it dilutes their USP – Unique Selling Proposition. That’s the thing they do better than anybody else. In this case they know Spyware. I’m interested in the current state of the spyware universe. Sounds like a match made in heaven. That is a great value proposition to their readers.
If they keep cluttering my RSS aggregator with news I get from other sources I’ll most likely drop their feed. I have to wade through too many posts to get to the value.

This post isn’t really to beat SpywareInfo up. Entrepreneurs want to grow their business, often we’ll chase volume without thinking of it’s impact on our current customers. We’ll change our business to grow it. In the process we’ll lose customers who don’t like the change.

It doesn’t really matter long as we’re adding customers at a significantly greater rate than we’re losing them — there’s a long digression here on the cost of customer acquisition and the lifecycle value of each customer.

Bot trap installed – Spambots need not apply

Over the last two months this site has been absolutely hammered by spambots — automated programs designed to use this site for sending spam, spamming search engines or other nefarious activities.

None have got through to any public pages or done anything useful. But I’ve had about 12,000 unique bots visit in March alone. This became too much to ignore, plus it was making my logs a mess and interfering with my writing on this site. Everytime I went to blog on wealth creation I’d be reminded that “Something had to be done”â„¢.

Anyway I’ve done something about it. The most hit page is an old, no longer existing page from years ago. So it now contains a bot-trap. While setting it up the earlier version of the script caught 38 badly behaved bots in one hour. That’s 38 bots which did not bother to read the standard robots.txt file that almost every website has.

Slowly I’ll implement the bot-trap on all the pages of the site. Should any reader accidently find it and get themselves banned, there is even an automatic unban option for humans.

Thanks to Daniel M. Webb on whose Bot-trap I’ve based my work.

Update 335 IP addresses have been banned in the first week of the bot trap. The beauty of this system is if any of them are dynamic IP addresses that are subsequently legitimately reused, those visitors can automatically get themselves unbanned.

Authentic creativity vs deliberate merchandising

Seth Godin blogs in I don’t feel like playing tonight about authenicity in product lifecycles. Specifically about Gene Roddenberry…

Reading an auction catalog tonight, I just discovered that Gene Roddenberry designed the phaser to be a profitable children’s toy first, a Star Trek prop second. And the only reason the Klingons had a ship is that the Enterprise model kit sold so well… They even let the model company, AMT, build the prop so that they could be sure the model sold in stores would be the same. Does that make you think anything less of Roddenberry’s universe?

It’s impossible for me to think less of Roddenberry, a.k.a. the Great Bird, genus Hollywood Creature of the NightTM. One year after Trek was in production, Roddenberry wrote lyrics to the Star Trek theme song despite never intending to use them. This let him claim 50% of the performance royalties paid every time an episode aired and including subsequent use of the music in spinoffs, movies and sequel series.

Every Hollywood producer who knows this story is emerald with envy. It’s considered one of the ultimate contractual triumphs. Young producers, clustered around film market bars, look up from their cosmopolitans and dare to dream of such a score. It reminded me of the way Ahab dreamed of the white whale, except I knew none of them would ever have read Moby Dick.

The Urban Legend Reference Pages at confirms the Star Trek theme had lyrics. The Wikipedia also has an entry Star Trek: The Original Series (theme song).

Also on the topic of deliberate merchandising I am reminded of the story that Star Wars: Return of the Jedi was supposed to feature a Wookies instead of Ewoks. Rumour has it George Lucas thought Ewoks would make better toys and spinoffs.

At a cocktail party in Sydney during the production of Star Wars Episode II Attack of the Clones, Producer Rick McCallum pointed out that George Lucas was mainly in the toy business. Later, I saw a documentary of George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola and Saul Zaentz having lunch in a Napa Valley winery. They pointed out to each other and the camera that while they were famous film makers and producers their real businesses were toys, wine and music respectively. They certainly are passionate about everything they do.

One last Australian example. Fred Gaffney, founder of Gaffney International Licensing the most important figure in Australian product licensing. If you see a kid with a licensed product there’s a good chance that Gaffney’s had a hand in it. It’s not just for kids either, anyone for American Chopper products? Licensing is the purest meeting of art with commerce. Every proposal has to answer the question “will it sell?”. Fred’s company has stylishly eclipsed toys and tin lunchboxes.

So while I may distrust crash merchandising, I think the really successful merchandisers love their products. That is how they keep doing it for so long and are so good at it.

I’m still around

No I haven’t vanished off the face of the earth. My health is suffering, plus this domain is getting hammered by spammers at the moment – I don’t think any is getting through. I basically need a few uninterrupted hours to restore the design for the new version of WordPress I’m using.

Then I can resume my meanderings.

I’ve retired most of Dreamspinner’s trading diary as it was a favourite target for these spammers. Folks I hope you never buy anything as a result of an unsolicited bulk email. ‘Tis because of the 0.001% of recipients that do buy their junk that we are buried under their refuse today.

Funnily enough I deleted 8,000 spam emails and 5,000 virus emails from a client mail server today. They had 200 mild false positives – nothing earth shattering to have missed.
I no longer feel angry about email spam as my tools are now so good that I actually scan my Junk mail folder daily in case of false positives. I get very few.