: Ron Lindeboom's Blog
I keep reading publishers bemoaning the state of the publishing world and decrying the fact that print is dying. They quote statistics that back up their suppositions and while these "facts" appear true, I have to scratch my head and wonder why they cannot seem to see the forest for all the dead trees they have proffered over the years.
Why is print dying? Well, I hate to tell them, it's not -- it's their
magazines and view points that are dying. There are other magazines, of which Creative COW Magazine is one example, that are doing very well and are growing and thriving. In many industries you will find these "exceptions" to the general market malaise and decline in publishing. Tim Wilson and I regularly discuss these issues and analyze and examine the magazines that fail and the ones that are thriving in spite of the perceived general market apathy.
So, what makes some magazines fail while others excel?
The reason is simple: there is a lack of real content
in many once successful magazines today. Many onetime industry leading magazines are now made up of paid stories and features that many readers suspect to be the outcome of advertiser purchases. Some magazines in our own industry have been putting paid advertorial pieces on the cover as their lead story. This is crazy to us, and will compromise the integrity of any publication. I remember when I loved some of the magazines in this industry, years ago. Nowadays, there are some that I haven't read a single article of any importance in a long, long time. In a survey of many of our members, we hear the same thing and we get many letters that come in after every issue of Creative COW Magazine thanking us for the content.
Here's one we received the other day:
"I just wanted to tell you that your 'New Visions' Issue is the best issue of any industry magazine I've read since the DGA [Directors Guild of America] stopped printing Action. Thank you for the intelligent, informative, entertaining articles on paper." -- Jim Long, Pegasus Productions
And this one just came in today from a teacher at a high school in Louisiana who left this comment as she signed up for the Creative COW Magazine:
"Your newsletter has helped me greatly in the classroom. Helps me to keep my skills polished. As an educator, sometimes we get a bit set in our ways. Your newsletters, tutorials, and articles keep my students guessing as to what their next project will be and has taught them and myself more tricks and shortcuts. We used to only get 2 projects a quarter completed, now we are able to double the production and at a higher degree of difficulty. Constant source of inspiration - Thanks Cow Team! -- Heather Lampo, Grace King High School, Metairie, Louisiana"
Thank you Jim, Heather and all of the many of you who write us and tell us that you see the work behind what we do for the audience here at Creative COW. Your kind words and votes of confidence are truly appreciated.
When we look at the state of the publishing industry, we are amazed that so few seem to grasp the simple formula that will guarantee that your magazine will have an audience of eager, enthusiastic readers -- serve
that audience. Yet most magazines seem to have opted for the kinds of compromises that serve their accounting department more than their audience. That kind of focus is sure to put smiles on the faces of stockholders (for a short while anyway), but it is guaranteed (almost every time) to remove the smiles from readers who want and expect honest and forthright communication and value in their stories.
Serve the audience, that seems a simple formula for success.
Charles and I have started calling the entry way to the new Creative COW Productions' Mancave Recording Studio, the "transporter" because it kind of resembles the Star Trek transporter from the TV series. With (what will end up being) three doors in a triangle -- of which two are now in along with the entry light, etc. -- you can go left into the recording room or go right into the mixing booth. When completed, the steps up into the studio will have a third door that separates the studio from the business offices just down the hall.
Here is a shot of the entryway and the twin Andersen dual pane heavy duty glass doors with soundproofing rubber gaskets and airtight seals around the doors. The third door in the "triangle" placement will act as further sound dampening and isolation to safeguard the working offices nearby.
Since recording my first record long ago with a bunch of friends under the auspices of an engineer that had worked with the Righteous Brothers and a few others over the years, I have dreamed of having my own recording studio, complete with isolation booth, etc. So, when Kathlyn and I moved into our new home in Paso Robles, lo and behold, to what do my eyes fall prey? It is a utility area that Kathlyn and I took to calling The Man Cave, as it was clear it was going to be an area dedicated to music and my musician friends -- along with functioning as an expanded area where I could continue my music production and editing work. The Mancave is over 600 square feet of room that was intended for storage but has now been under construction for the last 6 to 8 weeks or so, and will shortly emerge as Mancave Recording Studios, a division of Creative COW Productions. We have been documenting every step of the construction, complete with floating the walls for soundproofing, using Z-bar to reduce the vibration and transfer of sound, how to set the sound proofing board and sandwich the drywall with air pockets to deaden the room, etc., etc., etc. It will be a multi-part article that will show in-depth how to build a recording studio that is a serious room for far less than you might think. Oh, this is not one of those "Build a recording studio for a few hundred bucks" kinda articles -- no, this is a real studio and one on whom we have worked with one of Ocean Way Recorders former engineers to spec and build. It isn't Ocean Way but it is one hell of a serious home studio. One that we will shortly begin to introduce here at the COW. Stay tuned.
Here is the first shot of the entry way, and the mixing booth...
The other day I mentioned to Abraham how much I disliked our blogs section and how little I liked Drupal, the system we have been using for a while now. He wrote me today and said that he had been at work on the blogs and wondered if I liked what he had come up with. My answer? "Please change over to this system today, Abraham. No need to wait."
Kathlyn and I are going to adopt him. Or give him money.
The nicest part of this system is that it is custom developed and Abraham has tied it in with our forums accounts and usernames. No more need for two accounts: one, for the forums; the other, to post in the blogs -- now, it's all one account.
Another nice feature is that the posting mechanism rules are identical in both the forums and the blogs. The vast majority of users who use our site have forums accounts and post in the forums. This new mechanism will make it far easier for them to participate in the blogs. For those who are used to Drupal and only come here for the blogs, it will take some readjusting but we are making the move so that we simplify the blogs for our majority of users.
Another great feature of this new move is that we have far more control of the database (for searching, etc.) and also to allow blogs to be integrated into other areas of the COW (such as user profile pages, etc.).
Abraham will be focusing on this area of the COW over the near future and we hope that you find the changes useful and will take advantage of them.
Thanks Abraham for listening and acting. I see the time coming soon where I'll even like the blogs. (To be honest, I have liked to see what people are posting but I really hated the Drupal system.)
Well, it seems as if we just passed the 900,000 totally unique users a month marker (according to Google Analytics) and here we are, a month later and we are now past the 940,000 marker. Insane. It seems as if we are always buying more servers and adding more backbone infrastructure to the COW. How do we keep up with it all? Our technical director, Abraham Chaffin, is constantly researching new ways and ideas that keep us ahead of the rapid growth of Creative COW. In his latest foraging on the Net, he came across a powerful new technology that is likely to spur a huge leap forward in data serving. It is called 'Fusion-io" and it is one of the most remarkable new technologies that we have found.
Fusion-io is a PCI-e card that goes into your server and jacks up the drive access speeds to phenomenal levels. For sites like the COW, this is a giant leap forward as in the past we have had to keep adding more and more servers and extra bandwidth pipe to keep up with the growth -- this, as even our ultra-fast quad-Opterons with lots of RAM and the fastest drives, could only feed our ever-growing audience to their limits. Even our now-aging Medéa RAID arrays can only go just so fast. But with the new fusion-io cards in our server farm, we can serve up a LOT more data at far faster speeds using our existing server farm. Thanks Fusion-IO team!
This is what the Fusion-io team says about it all:
Designed around a revolutionary silicon-based storage architecture known as ioMemory, the ioDrive is the world’s most advanced NAND clustering technology with performance comparable to DRAM and storage capacity on par with today's hard disks — giving you the power to improve both memory capacity and storage performance by up to one thousand times. The ioDrive dramatically increases performance such that every server can easily contain the I/O performance of the world's fastest enterprise SAN.
Today, we (read: Abraham) install the first card into one of our systems and will beging testing it in our server farm. We are really excited and look forward to putting this puppy through its paces.
- Capable of over 120,000 random read/write IOPS
- Allows for less than 50 microsecond access latency
- Enables terabytes of Virtual Memory with near DRAM speeds
- Eliminates service interrupts due to I/O contention
- Save or resume virtual machine states in seconds
We will keep you posted on the results.
Oh, and if you think this is all smoke and mirrors, consider this: Steve Wozniak (Apple co-founder) just joined their Board of Advisors because of his enthusiasm for what these guys are up to.
Well, it's been an incredible ride so far this year: the COW has grown remarkably, with many wonderful new additions to the site, both in the infrstructure of the site itself and the people who now make this site a part of their online home — sadly, there have also been some horrible tragedies on the personal front that have brought solemnity along with the great joy that we find in building the COW.
According to Google Analytics, we will soon exceed 900,000 totally unique users a month — a staggering number when we remember that when we started building media professionals communities online back in June of 1995, we were thrilled when we went over our first 100 members. If you would like to see how the COW now compares to other magazines and web communities, you can see the comparisons online.
We have added a new MOBILE interface to the COW. The new www.creativecow.mobi interface allows people that use an iPhone, a Palm Treo, a Blackberry and other 3G-capable cell phones and PDAs to surf the COW. And one of the great new features of this interface is that if you use an iPhone, it knows that you can't see our Flash-based content and so it won't display any of it to you. But for those phones and PDAs that do use Flash, you will find it available.
Franklin McMahon has returned to head the Creative COW Podcast. Franklin is a great host and his sense of humor and his ability behind the microphone are exemplary. If you have missed the podcast, check it out — there are a number of new episodes online now and also available at the Apple iTunes Store.
New enhancements have been added to both the SERVICES OFFERED directory and the EVENTS calendar. These enhancements allow our members to look up Services Offered based on your region and locale using Google Map technology, giving the Services Offered directory a usefullness that goes well beyond the previous incarnation of our directory. In our Events section, we have added a calendar interface that makes that area of the COW far more useful. Check them out, there is a new level of usefullness in each of these areas.
We have added a number of truly bad (in a good sense)servers to the COW backbone over the last few months. In fact, we have doubled the amount of bandwidth throughput that we have available to serve to our audience. Our previous capacity was comparable to 128 T-1 lines running concurrently. Now, we have the capacity of 256 T-1s running concurrently. Into this huge amount of bandwidth, we have raised the number of servers to around a dozen. Most of them are dual and quad Opterons. A number of them exceed the power we have seen in some of the most hearty video servers. We have also added a hardware load-balancing router that has enabled the COW to keep up with the huge influx of growth over the last year. We had to, as in August of 2007 we were just over 250,000 totally unique users a month according to Google Analytics. A year later, in August of 2008, we were well past 800,000 unique users a month and will soon pass 900,000. So, while some people complain about all the ads in the COW, we would like to thank our sponsors as there is no way we could do this if they were not there. So, thank you sponsors! You keep the lights on and the dairy going.
As some of you might already be aware, we lost a son and grandson on Labor Day in an automobile accident. It was quite a sad day for our family and friends. But we were very proud of Ronnie and will miss him and Caleb greatly — though we trust that life goes on. So Ronnie, I tip the ole COW baseball hat to you and Caleb and know we will meet again. Those with less hope and little trust are welcome to their beliefs, these are mine.
So that has been my Summer report.
With the best to you all,
PS: Thank you to the many friends who wrote Kathlyn and me expressing their kind thoughts to us in the last couple of weeks. Your kind words have been truly appreciated and we are grateful to be your friends in the journey.
I finally had a few minutes to articulate some of my reasons why I feel that Apple (and Avid, earlier) felt that they no longer needed to go to NAB. While some people have argued that there is no substitute for face-to-face time with a human at NAB before making a purchase, it seems that Avid and Apple don't think so. Neither do I, and in my latest article here at the COW, I spell out some of the reasons that this opinion seems to be taking root around our industry. One of the most compelling reasons is that every year NAB continues to increase the cost to the companies who exhibit at NAB. To add to this burden, Las Vegas continues to raise its rates to the ceiling when shows like Comdex, the Consumer Electronics Show and NAB come to town. So much so in fact, that CES is looking for a new home, according to MSNBC.
There are a lot of changes in the air for the trade show industry, Las Vegas and the way it treats convention guests, and for NAB and the way it keeps escalating its prices. In the movie Network, Peter Finch threw open the windows and screamed: "I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore!"
It seems that executives at Apple and Avid have been watching Peter Finch reruns lately.
I just listened to COW leader Aharon Rabinowitz's commentary that ran on NPR. In it, he explores how human beings create one of the most insidious forms of computer virus, the "let's forward a warning about a new virus to all our friends and associates" strand.
I had to chuckle at some of the points that Aharon expresses in his four minute commentary in which he uses analogies drawn from sex education classes in school.
But in the end, it's something that I was thinking of forwarding along as a link to all my friends and associates that think they need to email me every time a new virus comes out. If you are one of these friends, here's the link...
Consider yourself warned.
Someone sent me a link to a blog written by a writer named Karen who has her own blog at wordsforhire.blogspot.com. In it, she uses my article "Clients or Grinders: The Choice Is Yours" as the jumping-off point to show how some businesses suffer what she calls "welfare mindedness." Her article is quite insightful and I am honored and flattered that my piece inspired her to write her own ideas, found in the article you can read here.
In the article, she says:
Many small business owners are standing in the welfare line and not sure how they got there. They work hard. In fact they may be working longer hours than CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. They deliver high quality work. Yet, they are barely making ends meet. These businesses are well intentioned but are not appropriately targeting their market or pricing their services.Other small businesses are locked into a mentality that says they can only compete on price. To win against the “more established,” or “the “larger competitors” they have to compete on price. Does this sound like you?Still others believe that volume makes up for low pricing. These business owners proclaim “yes our pricing is low but our volume supports it.” These same business owners would like to convince you to work at a fraction of your normal fees because they’re going to give you a large amount of work.
Check it out here, she makes some insightful points regarding things that can mentally trap business owners and negotiators.
It always strikes me as odd that here we are in 2008, still relying on print to communicate many of the same ideas that are found in-depth on the web.
Is the immediacy of the web -- along its powerful information sources like Google and Wikipedia.org (to name just two) -- simply not enough?
Tim Wilson and I talk about this phenomenon from time-to-time and we think that it's one that shows why Creative COW Magazine has become so popular among its readership; a readership that grows daily and is already equal to that of many magazines that have had decades of lead on us. The same phenomenon is also seen in the book series of Harry Potter. (Are we saying that we are like Harry? We wish!) It's funny that people cite today's young as suffering Attention Deficit Disorder and that they are so saturated with "TV Mindset" that they can't keep their focus long enough to read anything. But Harry Potter has outsold everything else in its generation and is the biggest selling book series of all time.
Give readers something worth reading and they will read it. Make it of value and they will hold onto it.
We get letters over and over again from teachers and readers who tell us that they keep every issue we make. We are honored by their words and are grateful that they recognize the work that goes into an issue of Creative COW Magazine.
We believe that the COW is full of great people and stories and it's our job to sift through the overwhelming "mountain of information" that is CreativeCOW.net and present it to our readers in a logical flow of information that is of value to our readers. We don't just back up a dump-truck and drop a mountain in their yard. We work hard to take a concept and dig down into an idea and explore the idea in ways that our readers will draw benefit from.
The COW is a wealth of information and it can be quite overwhelming to people, at times. By exploring definitive concepts in print in Creative COW Magazine, we give our readers something worth reading that is more than the "here's a box with a knob and what the knob does on the box" journalism. Sure, there are times that we get technical but we try to make the technical within the scope of the concept being explored.
So, for those of you who write us or call and ask: "Why do you make magazines? They are a thing of the past." -- there's your answer.
Oh, and thanks again to all of you who take the time to write us and give us your feedback. We really do appreciate your time and reply.