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In Too Much of a Hurry to Enjoy Life

Combating Comment Spam

Over a year ago I jokingly noted that I had apparently “arrived” with my blog because spammers had found me and began regularly trying to post comments to the site. I am proud to say that to date no comment spam has successfully made it to public viewing, but unfortunately, that has taken a little effort along the way.

First, staying ahead of the abuse curve requires always installing the latest version of the WordPress software I am using for this blog. This may not seem like a big deal, but because I have customized things a bit to my liking, updating to the latest version of things often requires me to enter again my customizations. On more than one occasion I have broken things with the upgrade and had to take the time to research and fix the errors.

Combating Comment Spam

Second, though WordPress includes a rather effective plugin called Askimet that autodetects comment spam, the spam is placed in a queue that can be reviewed for false positives. Though there are very few misses, I feel obligated to wade through this large queue regularly to make sure no valid comments are missed; another big waste of time due to some lazy spammers ‘bots keeping mine in their attack list.

I recently tried to install a hidden programming trick that didn’t work, much to my chagrin. I have been hesitant to use other methods because they require you as users to read a funny image and type in the text (CAPTCHA), but now that appears to be my best solution. So, at this point I am testing out a CAPTCHA installation on the comments to see if that will cut down the hundreds of comment spam entries per day wasting the resources of my server and me personally. I apologize for the extra step on your part, but hopefully, you can bear with me.

In Too Much of a Hurry to Enjoy Life

You do have the option of skipping the CAPTCHA if you are a regular poster and would like to register as a user on this site. Registered users are not required to do this step.

Spam is definitely something that’s gotta go, but the reality is we can only hope to stay one step ahead.

10 Things to Do Chicago

10 Things to Do Chicago

10 Things to Do ChicagoChicago has all the cultural possibilities you would expect in a big city. It is also a city of immigrants and neighborhoods, making it a fun place to walk around and people watch. Chicago lies on Lake Michigan with a lot of beaches and a long trail along the shore full of locals walking their dogs and biking. Take time to absorb what this city has to offer; don’t just whip through the top tourist attractions.

Enjoy an Art Museum

Although certainly the Art Institute, and especially its Impressionist and post-Impressionist works, ranks as an institution of world renown, you would be amiss not to stop by the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago or even the funkier Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows at the Navy Pier.

The Art Institute of Chicago
111 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, Illinois 60603-6404
(312) 443-3600
http://www.artic.edu/aic/

Smart Museum of Art
5550 S. Greenwood Ave.
Chicago, Illinois 60637
(773) 702-0200
http://smartmuseum.uchicago.edu/

Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows
Navy Pier
600 E. Grand Ave.
Chicago, Illinois 60611
(312) 595-7437
http://www.navypier.com/things2do/rides_attract/smith_museum.html

Experience Nature Indoors

For a city with a seriously cold winter climate, people need some big indoor venues for fun and learning. Chicago not has only an aquarium and a zoo, but a large conservatory that stays green all year long.

John G. Shedd Aquarium
1200 S. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, Illinois 60605
(312) 939-2438
http://www.sheddaquarium.org/

Garfield Park Conservatory
300 N. Central Park Ave.
Chicago, Illinois 60624-1945
(312) 746-5100
http://www.garfield-conservatory.org/

Lincoln Park Zoo
2001 N. Clark St.
Chicago, Illinois 60614
(312) 742-2000
http://www.lpzoo.org/

Learn about Architecture

Chicago has its share of vintage buildings. The Chicago Architecture Foundation introduces people to old and new buildings with architectural tours by bus and boat as well as walking tours and neighborhood tours. Chicago was the home of esteemed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and visitors can tour his home and the studio where he developed his Prairie style as well as the Robie house, a sample of his work.

The Chicago Architecture Foundation
224 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60604
312-922-3432
http://www.architecture.org/

10 Things to Do ChicagoFrank Lloyd Wright’s Home and studio
951 Chicago Avenue
Oak Park, Illinois
708-848-1976
http://www.gowright.org/homestudio/homestudio.html

Robie House
5757 S. Woodlawn Ave.
Chicago, IL
708-848-1976
http://www.gowright.org/robiehouse/robiehouse.html.

Immerse Yourself in Different Cultures

Chicago’s neighborhoods are one way to go to experience contemporary cultures of the immigrants that continue to populate the city — Chinatown, for example. Or visit a museum like the DuSable Museum of African American History or the National Museum of Mexican Art. For an eye into cultures no longer living, try The Oriental Institute, which is devoted to the study of the ancient Near East.

The Oriental Institute
1155 E. 58th St.
Chicago, Illinois 60637
(773) 702-9514
http://oi.uchicago.edu/

Chicago Chinatown

Between Canal Street and Lake Shore Drive from the Stevenson Expressway to the Santa Fe railroad yards
http://www.chicago-chinatown.com/cgi-bin/view.cgi?li=26

National Museum of Mexican Art
1852 W. 19th St.
Chicago, Illinois 60608
(312) 738-1503
http://www.nationalmuseumofmexicanart.org/

DuSable Museum of African American History
740 East 56th Place
Chicago, Illinois 60637
773-947-0600

Home

Explore History

A good place to start might be the Chicago History Museum to get your bearings on Chicago in the context of American history. Then a stop at the Henry B. Clarke House, the oldest in Chicago and a sample of Greek Revival architecture, to learn about the social history of Chicago before the Civil War. Then spend some time at the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum to learn about social settlement houses of the late nineteenth century, where middle- and upper-middle-class men and women lived to provide social supports and education to poor immigrants.

Jane Addams Hull-House Museum
University of Illinois at Chicago
800 S. Halsted
Chicago, Illinois 60607-7017
(312) 413-5353
http://www.uic.edu/jaddams/hull/

10 Things to Do ChicagoChicago History Museum
1601 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60614
312-642-4600

Home

Clarke House Museum
1827 South Indiana Avenue
Chicago, IL 60616
312-745-0040
http://www.nscda.org/museums/illinois.htm

Play Outdoors

Splat in the center of downtown Chicago is Millenium Park, which is a great hangout especially when it’s not too cold. It includes a Frank Gehry pavillion, a garden, sculpture, and an interactive fountain. The Navy Pier calls itself Chicago’s “lakefront playground.” It has an amusement park, gardens and promenades, a Children’s Museum, food, and more.

Millennium Park
5550 S. Greenwood Ave.
Chicago, Illinois 60637
(312) 742-1168
http://www.millenniumpark.org/

Navy Pier
600 E. Grand Ave.
Chicago, Illinois 60611
(312) 595-7437
http://www.navypier.com

Investigate Science

Soak up as much science as you can, Chicago style. First you can explore natural history at the Field Museum, then move on to astronomy at the Adler Planetarium, and last but decidedly not least, spend lots of time at the Museum of Science and Industry, where you can learn about biology, space, transportation, mathematics, and more.

Museum of Science and Industry
57th Street and Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60637
773-684-1414
http://www.msichicago.org

Field Museum
1400 S. Lake Shore Dr.
Chicago, IL 60605-2496
312-922-9410
http://www.fieldmuseum.org

Adler Planetarium
1300 S. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL
312-922-7827

Home

Listen to Classical Music

Put aside some time to listen to opera and classical music.

Chicago Opera Theater
312-704-8414
www.chicagooperatheater.org

Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Symphony Center
220 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL
312-294-3000
www.cso.org

Lyric Opera of Chicago
Civic Opera House
20 North Wacker Drive
Phone: 312-332-2244
www.lyricopera.org

Take an Elevator to the Top of Sears Tower

No big city visit is complete without a great view from the tippy top of the tallest building; in Chicago that would be the Sears Tower.

Sears Tower
233 S. Wacker Dr. Suite 3530
Chicago IL 60606
312-875-9447

Home

Eat Pizza

Deep-dish pizza got it’s start in Chicago. Try the first and second Uno’s, which started making pizza in Chicago in 1943.

Pizzeria Uno
29 East Ohio
Chicago, IL 60611
312-321-1000
http://www.unos.com

Pizzeria Due
619 North Wabash Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611
312-943-2400
http://www.unos.com

LA

Things to Do in LA for Free

LA

Los Angeles, a lively, captivating city and the pulse of the West Coast, offers a plethora of free things to do. Enjoy the stellar Southern California beach weather, the glamor of the city and all the wild sights and sounds—from Venice to Hollywood, from Beverly Hills to Malibu, from Santa Monica to Studio City.

La Brea Tar Pits

LARight in the heart of the city, visit the site of the largest collection of Ice Age fossils ever found. Located in Hancock Park, these asphalt pits have been seeping for more than 40,000 years. Scientists have found the remains of hundreds of species including herbivores, Columbian mammoth, American mastodon, ground sloth, western horse, ancient bison, dwarf pronghorn, extinct camel and the saber-toothed cat, all of whom became fatally entrapped.

La Brea Tar Pits
5801 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90036
(323) 934-7243
tarpits.org

Grauman’s Chinese Theatre

LASince the 1920s, the forecourt of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre has been one of Hollywood’s most endearing free attractions. Screen legends Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks were among the first to lay footprints, since then they’ve been followed by many major celebrities. One of Hollywood’s most iconic landmarks, the theater contains fascinating Chinese artifacts and is a must-see free thing to do in L.A.

Grauman’s Chinese Theatre
6925 Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood, California 90028
(323) 464-8111
manntheatres.com

Live Studio Audience

LAGetting tickets to live tapings of shows is free. Usually you are required to obtain tickets in advance. Sometimes tickets are available free at the studios on the day of the show, so be flexible.

Paramount Television Audience Shows, Guest Relations (323) 956-1777
Audiences Unlimited at Fox Television Center (818) 506-0043
Audiences Associates (323) 467-4697

marketing

Integrated Marketing – It’s A Worldwide Phenomenon

I’ve been preaching the value of an integrated marketing strategy for some time now and while my focus has been mainly on US-based companies and consumers, it would appear the idea of integrated marketing is catching on everywhere as consumers Down Under want an integrated message just like the rest of us.

Results from a survey conducted by the Australian Centre for Retail Studies (ACRS) revealed that 58% of Australians now shop in a multi-channel way. The results of the study also suggest that retailers and companies who engage consumers effectively across multiple channels, and new technologies such as the iPad, smartphone and mobile applications, and social media, will be more successful than those retailers and companies who don’t.

Please spare me the “But Steve, this survey is about Australian consumers. I don’t market to them, why should I care?” comments. This is not about one particular country or continent. People are people the world over and they want an integrated marketing message. They want the same message delivered across all the channels advertisers and marketers decide to include in our integrated marketing strategies. Why is that so hard to comprehend?

marketing

Back in June, I told of how Shoppers Want Integration, Retailers And Marketers Not Delivering It. In that post I told you of TWO separate surveys which showed that 72% of consumers WANT an integrated marketing approach yet only 39% are ACTUALLY getting one. Re-read that again. Nearly 3/4 of people want to see the same message across all platforms and mediums but less than 40% are in actuality getting just that.

 

Earlier this month I wrote CMO’s To Increase Spending On Social Media But Integration Still Lacking. In that particular post I made reference to a survey done by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business – the twice a year survey “collects and disseminates the opinions of top marketers in order to predict the future of markets, track marketing excellence, and improve the value of marketing in firms and society.” That survey revealed “…marketers admitted they have a ways to go toward integrating social media in their strategy. On a scale of 1-7, with one being “not integrated at all” and seven being “very integrated,” almost a quarter of marketers (22.3 percent ) selected “one” to describe how well their company’s social media is integrated with the firm’s overall strategy.”

And as far as integration within the marketing strategy as a whole, the numbers were only slighlty better as “only” 16.9 percent selected “one” for this question.

marketing

Let’s go back to the findings from the ACRS survey. Nearly 60% of Australians now shop via multi-channel, assumably because they want to and because they can. See where I’m going here? These folks are shopping via multi-channel because it is made available to them. How many more would do this if it were made available to them?

And what about the other 42% who don’t shop via multi-channel? Is it by choice or is it because they simply don’t know where to go for a multi-channel experience because their favorite stores and brands are not delivering it currently. But, if these same 42% get wind of another retailer, AKA a competitor, offering multi-channel, integrated marketing, would they shift their allegiance?

Obviously there’s more to this than just providing the same message across multiple channels but… See where I’m going here?