Ask Ike: Why are they naming winter storms?

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The Weather Channel has been adding catchy names to winter storms for a while now, but never really explained why.

  • Promotional value?
  • Winning bar bets by sneaking names onto the screen?
  • Did winter storms win a lawsuit against hurricanes for greater publicity?

The truth is simpler than that.

[Read more...]

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Ten years gone

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It’s been ten years since my last day in television news.

I remember that last story very well. Others, not so much.

I wrote this on my way into the unknown (republished in this form, five years ago.)

And what follows is my response to me. [Read more...]

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Call Him Al

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Al Volker passed away overnight, and there really will never be another one like him.

Al was the first person hired into the newsroom at ABC 33/40 back in 1996, coming on as Managing Editor. His TV career at the time spanned my entire lifetime, and he brought old-school journalism instincts from Miami, Detroit, and a host of other markets.

Al was the quintessential grizzled veteran. No one can truly say they had seen it all, but you were wise to never call his bluff. “Noah’s flood? I did the sound for that production.[Read more...]

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Keeping up to date

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The title you see above could be categorized as “irony,” given the lack of frequency in my own posts here.

What can I say, I have been busy. Very busy, and busy in ways that actually use the very same tools that bring you Occam’s Razr, and my church website, and a host of others.

I still work in media relations, and dabble in many other realms of communication, and as such get concerned where I see companies that aren’t making the necessary transformations for survival. Which is why this caught my attention.

[Read more...]

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Things that last

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I don’t always like the way we use the word “invest,” or “investment.” Too often, it is associated with the concept of risk. Conversely, it gets lumped in with reward. Rarely do we look at investing as something that is worth doing with no regard to outcome.

Years ago — many, actually — I spent five dollars on a pencil. It was bundled in with the rest of my books and supplies as I got ready for my first semester of college. (With tax, it was $5.39, which in today’s dollars is an even $11.50.)

As you can imagine, I was met with ridicule from some friends and family members, who wondered if such a purchase was evidence that my scholarships should be revoked. “You’ll lose that thing in a week,” they chided.

I don’t think it was a bad purchase at all, because it wasn’t about the pencil. It was about mindset.

[Read more...]

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Apple still doesn’t get Cloud

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I like my iPad, I really do. For what I do with it, it fits the bill.

But I am not a citizen of Apple’s dream community, and I will not be casting lots with the iEcosystem. Mainly because Apple still doesn’t get the Cloud. [Read more...]

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Disaster Help just got easier

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One of the difficulties of delivering disaster services in our “Instant On Now Now NOW” society is scale. Normal processes and supply chains are disrupted, either by having physical resources taken out of play, or human resources distracted by their own pressing needs. That’s not new, but now we have large numbers of people nearby who want to help — people who are connected and can make things happen.

However, well-meaning spontaneous volunteers often don’t know what they don’t know. They gather supplies in unrealistic amounts. They acquire food for 200 before knowing for sure where and how they will store it. They haven’t thought a step ahead about how to secure supplies, or how they can be orderly delivered. Bless their hearts, they just want to do something.

(Remember those movies where the mom-to-be goes into labor, and someone sends off the guy to tear a sheet into strips and boil water? You know what that’s about, right? They wanted to give him the value of “having something to do,” without having him get in the way of the doing.)

So now we’re stuck, between insulting a well-meaning person with busywork and allowing them to do their own thing (fraught with the possibilities of duplication of effort or even counter-productive activity.) How do we tap into their great intentions, and get them doing the right things?

There’s an app for that

20130717-233956.jpgActually, there are a couple. The American Red Cross is leveraging technology yet again, adding to its collection of disaster-related apps. The newest one, released just now, is called Team Red Cross.

Ideally, you will be able to download the apps right now and create an account. But even those who register after the nearby disaster can get to work. The app provides information about a number of tasks specific to Red Cross relief operations, and short videos and quizzes right on the phone will get them volunteer-ready. Once you’re in the system, you can configure the app to let you know about volunteer opportunities nearby. Storm strikes 50 miles away? You will know about it.

Leveraging Social

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  • Users can share Red Cross calls for volunteers in their social network and be a part of recruiting more support for the Red Cross.
  • People can earn digital “badges” by completing a job test, accepting a job, sharing the app, recruiting volunteers, donating blood, donating money and other activities. The “badges” can then be shared with their social network.
  • In times of disaster, such as a tornado, hurricane or flood, users can send instant recovery information to friends in need with the tap of a button.

Full of Win

The app is going to be valuable, no matter how far the user takes it. If the app serves to educate, that’s a win. If it spawns a spontaneous volunteer who can plug into a relief operation, even for a couple hours, then everyone is served well. If it inspires that user to seek extra training and become a regular Red Cross volunteer, so much the better.

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