Tag Archive | "new york"

Umpire-manager arguments are about to get a makeover

Arguing with umpires isn’t going away — it’s as much a part of the game as peanuts and hot dogs. But, just as some ballparks offer sushi and craft beer, the umpire argument is about to get a radical transformation.

The introduction of a challenge system for instant replay reviews for the 2014 baseball season — assuming it’s ratified by the owners, the players’ union and the umpires –  is perhaps the most radical innovation in baseball since the designated hitter was introduced 40 years ago.

How will it work? Managers will be allowed one challenge over the first six innings and two from the seventh inning until the completion of the game. Calls that are challenged will be reviewed by video at MLB headquarters in New York, which will make a final ruling. That’s in an effort to avoid being influenced by local forces.

So there should be fewer arguments between umps and managers, but there might be more. Only reviewable plays — fair/foul, home runs, force outs, catch or trap — can be challenged. If a play isn’t reviewable — balls and strikes, for example — we’ll still get managers turning back the clock to Earl Weaver and Lou Piniella, trying to get their points across to the men in blue.

The New York Times’ Benjamin Hoffman wrote a primer on how the system will work, and some circumstances that could arise (such as where runners would be placed if a call is reversed from foul to fair on a double down the line, for example).

“When you call me back a year after this process has been in place, there will be precise and clear answers to all these issues,” said Atlanta Braves president John Schuerholz. “We will have experienced it in real time and know what functions and what hasn’t. We think we’ve covered most of that now, and we’re still working on creating the guidelines for some of those situations. But we believe that this is a significant first big step toward using this great new technology of instant replay.”

Source: About.com


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Public Safety Networks Report

E911 Location Failures – What’s up?

This Avaya CONNECTED Blog
is also available as an MP3 Audio File


The popular belief is:

[When you dial 911, your call ends up in a massive modern control room like environment that could be easily mistaken for NASA with all the latest bells and whistles that tells the 911 call taker exactly who you are, what you're calling about, and your precise location]

Right?

Well, that might be the way it works on TV and in the movies, but the fact of the matter is the majority of 911 centers or PSAPs in the United States (about 80% of them in fact according to NENA) are only 2 to 4 answering positions. While the large “mega-centers” do exist in cities like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, they are certainly the smallest percentage.

Likewise there’s a mass misperception by the general public on the technology that a 911 call taker has at their fingertips. To those of my readers that are in the industry, it’s no great secret that the only “information” that is received on a 911 call is a telephone number, and the local equipment uses that phone number to query the telephone company database for the subscriber information resulting in the address. While that’s technology that is useful for residential fixed endpoints such as land lines where a telephone number equals a physical street address, that method of location discovery is completely useless for a device that is mobile by nature such as a cellular telephone.

Since cellular phones can be used anywhere in the country, when they make a 911 emergency call the number that is displayed initially at the 911 center, is a special number that is actually representative of the tower that is handling the call. This is known as “Phase I” location reporting. This number is called a pANI (pseudo Automatic Number Identification). While this provides the 911 call taker with a very general area that the call is coming from, it is initially used for determining what 911 center needs to get the call. All cellular calls, that’s right ALL OF THEM, initially arrive at the 911 center with Phase I location information.

While the call taker is working the call, about 8 to 15 seconds later, the 911 equipment makes a second query on the pANI number received, and by this time the cellular network should have been able to determine a more precise location of the caller, and returns that information along with subscriber data in what is called Phase II location information. Depending on the technology used to locate the device, the information is also assigned a reliability or accuracy score.

When the planets are all in alignment, and the 911 gods are shining down upon the network, this can produce fairly accurate location information, and in fact the FCC mandates that carriers provide this level of location accuracy on a certain percentage of calls. Now that you have the background information, here’s the earth shattering news that was published earlier this week in a letter to Acting FCC Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn by CalNENA president Danita L. Crombach, ENP.

The letter cites several alarming factors that came to light after a study of real-time data over a two-year period by public safety analytics company Public Safety Network. The data focused on the amount of cellular phone calls that had received Phase II data by the completion of the call.

The report focused on four areas within the state, San Francisco, San Jose, Bakersfield and Ventura County and noted that statewide, 45% of wireless 911 calls lacked Phase II data, with some areas such as Ventura County lacking that critical location information on more than 50% of the calls. Was it a particular carrier worse than the others? Not really, although some were better and some were worse the problem was consistent across all five major carriers (AT&T, Metro PCS, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon) and the report shows that even under the best scenario accuracy never surpassed 64% in December 2012.

Public Safety Networks Report

There’s quite a bit of speculation why these numbers indicate the problem is getting worse. While no specific hard analytical data was collected to define the root cause of the problem, it’s generally accepted among experts in the industry that to specific phenomena contribute to the problem. The first is the fact that cellular device saturation in the United States is estimated to be at 103%, meaning a device for every person in the country, plus a little. That first factoid directly leads to the second, where people are using their devices more and more inside of buildings and what the report calls “urban canyons”.

iStock_000002375961Small.jpgThe urban canyon actually has two negative effects on cellular location discovery. The first is the fact that GPS signals typically need to be what’s called “line of sight” and therefore do not penetrate steel and concrete rendering them ineffective indoors. The second problem affects the backup location discovery mechanism typically used known as TDOA (Time Delay on Arrival). In layman’s terms, this is the time it took for the signal to travel between the transmitter (the cell phone) and the receiver (the cell tower). Given that radio waves travel at the speed of light, the distance between the two becomes a simple mathematical calculation. Using this information from two or more cellular towers, and old-fashioned radio triangulation can be used to pinpoint a transmitter’s location with surprising accuracy. Unfortunately cellular radio waves “bounce” off of buildings and do not travel in a direct line. These signal reflections, if severe enough, can actually increase the distance traveled skewing the calculation.

Bottom line, more people are carrying cell phones, therefore more people are making 911 calls from their cell phones, and people are within buildings during the work day. Add all of that together, and you come up with a decrease in accuracy statistic. Not because the problem got worse, but because more people are using the problematic method.

Now while this specific report covers California, one would imagine that this same phenomenon exists in every major metropolitan city across the US. So while communication habits have drastically changed with the multitude of smart devices now available at our fingertips, if we’re going to continue to enjoy an accurate level of public safety communications, the Federal Communications Commission is going to need to step in, and as the report states, “issue all necessary orders” to correct this problem.

So just bring this into full circle, if you have an enterprise PBX, and you feel that your cellular phone is a suitable replacement to addressing E911 within the enterprise, based on the information in this report you may want to think that over again.


Want more Technology, News and Information from Avaya? Be sure to check out the Avaya Podcast Network landing page at http://avaya.com/APN . There you will find additional Podcasts from Industry Events such as Avaya Evolutions and INTEROP, as well as other informative series by the APN Staff.

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The Cost of ObamaCare Delays

The Obama administration’s recent decision to delay enforcement of the “employer mandate” provision of ObamaCare will cost the government $11 billion during 2014, money intended to pay for other provisions of the law, according to the RAND Corporation think tank.

In July 2013, President Obama ordered a one-year delay – until Jan. 1, 2015 — in enforcement of the provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – ObamaCare – that will impose monetary penalties on employers with 50 or more full-time employees that do not offer affordable health insurance coverage.

The problem with the employer mandate delay is that funding for many of the provisions of ObamaCare that have already taken effect or will take effect in 2014 is supposed to come from penalties paid by businesses and individuals who fail to comply with the law.

Also See: House Votes to Delay Both ObamaCare Mandates

In its recent analysis, “Delaying the Employer Mandate,” the RAND Corp. projects the delay will cost the government $11 billion in lost revenue, a full $1 billon more than estimated by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

According to RAND, the $11 billion loss will be made up of $7 billion less in penalties that would be assessed on firms that fail to offer any insurance coverage and $4 billion less from fines paid by employers offering plans not qualifying as “affordable” under ObamaCare.

While calling the one year loss “relatively small” compared to the total cost of fully implementing ObamaCare, RAND notes that it will still result in a permanent loss of revenue intended to pay for other ObamaCare provisions.

More significantly, says RAND, would be a full repeal of the employer mandate, which would cost $149 billion in revenue over 10 years “providing substantially less money to pay for other components of the law.”

Another ObamaCare Delay Could Cost You Money

The lost revenue from the employer mandate delay may have contributed to another ObamaCare delay that could cost people who already have health insurance money.

In February 2013, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a federal regulation delaying until 2015 implementation of an ObamaCare provision placing a cap on the annual out-of-pocket costs, like co-payments and deductibles that insurance companies can charge.

Under the ObamaCare provision originally set to take effect on January 1, 2014, total out-of-pocket costs for 2014 were to be limited to $6,350 for individual policies and $12,700 for family plans.

However, as reported in the New York Times on August 13, the DOL regulation will allow some insurers to “set higher limits, or no limit at all” on out-of-pocket costs until — and if – the ObamaCare provision takes effect in 2015.

Even when it finally does take effect, the caps on out-of-pocket costs could actually result in higher overall premium prices to consumers.

As Forbes notes in its August 13 article, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch. If you ban lifetime limits, and mandate lower deductibles, and cap out-of-pocket costs, premiums have to go up to reflect these changes.” The higher premium prices, says Forbes, will affect both individually-purchased and employer-provided health plans.

Also See:
Congress Gets a Little ObamaCare Break
ObamaCare Death Panels a Myth

Source: About.com


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iHeartRadio to Stream Luke Bryan Album Release Party

iHeartRadio is having an album release party for Luke Bryan on Wednesday, August 14.

Radio personality Bobby Bones will host the event for the Country singer and his new album, Crash My Party. The special will feature a live performance, interview, and listening session with Luke.

This 30-minute program will be broadcast over-the-air and streamed online via all Clear Channel Country radio stations and websites. You can also listen directly online at iHeartRadio.com/lukebryan. The album release party begins at 5:00 p.m. ET and will originate from the iHeartRadio Theater in New York City.

Source: About.com


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This Week in Radio History (8/11 – 8/17)

Here are some highlights from this week in radio history:

On August 12, 1977 “Cousin Brucie” (Bruce Morrow) did his last show on WNBC-AM, New York City…more events (Right: Bruce Morrow at Sirius Radio, Photo Credit: © SIRIUS Satellite Radio)

On August 13, 1959 radio personality Danny Bonaduce was born…more events

On August 15, 1968 – Pirate “Radio Free London”, begins broadcasting…more events

More radio history from August.

Source: About.com


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iStock_000002919063Small.jpg

Hey Avaya! – WTF!

This Avaya CONNECTED Blog
is also available as an MP3 Audio File


A few weeks back, my colleague Guy Clinch, mentioned in his Avaya Connected Blog that there were some folks out there, that were spreading rumors that Avaya was exiting the Public Safety Business. While this is in no way true whatsoever, the rumor has persisted, and there are still a few jilted lovers out there that are trying to capitalize on it.

iStock_000002919063Small.jpgFortunately, Avaya operates in a true open ecosystem, and we have nothing to hide in our solutions and integration. On the other hand there are plenty of “wanna be” folks out there, that are banking on cops being cops, and not IT folks. But treating the Public Safety IT professional like a unknowing teenager going to the mechanic for the first time, is a dangerous game to play. “Sounds like you got a Sperry shaft going bad there, I’d get that replaced before it effects the springer valves and forces you to replace the whole hydraulic Gleason valve! Good thing I can do that for you for about $1500 . . . .cash”

Lipstick on the Pig
There has always been a fair level of mystique around Emergency Networks, but their operation is actually quite simplistic. Generation X has grown up around the internet, and understands technology much better than the Baby Boomers. This is why RFAI never really took off for NG9-1-1. All it did was deliver yesterday’s outdated ANI/ALI over an IP interface. Not much value there, just like you haven’t seen many Rotary Dial IP Phones.

Over the years that Avaya has been involved in public safety, both on the Nortel and the Avaya side of the house, one of the main FUD points (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) that was used by the competition was that “you don’t want a commercial call center answering critical life safety communications. That stuff is great if you’re selling insurance policies online, but were talking about people’s lives here!”

That is absolutely true; at least the part that says “we’re talking about people’s lives here”. You see, Avaya has been at the heart of the contact center business for decades, since it’s inception really, and in fact has been the primary developers of many of the current Work Force Optimization enhancements being deployed today. We took “Call Centers” and made them “Contact Centers” adding in database integration, we took those and made them “Collaboration Centers” bringing in multi-media and realtime communications. We have taken the worlds largest, most critical networks, hardened them, flattened them, and delivered resilient and reliable communications well beyond the 5 9′s demanded by many. Adding in multi-media communications like video, text and speech analytics that have taken these high volume collaboration environments to the next level. So while the legacy Public Safety vendors try to figure out, for the first time ever, how to get this done, Avaya has been quietly tweaking it’s existing capabilities to improve the workflow of Public Safety critical communications.

I’ll be the first to agree that typical call center telephone calls are about account balance inquiries and package delivery expectations or frequent flyer bonus mile programs are nowhere near as critical as someone having a heart attack or reporting their home is on fire. But at the same time, Avaya solutions understand how to deal with these ‘mass call events’ that often cripple the existing 9-1-1 network because of it’s poor point to point design. Utilizing advanced analytics of the additional data and contextual information delivered with a caller, intelligent routing choices can now be made utilizing the resources available in the network. Precious seconds previously wasted making routing and resource decisions manually will become a ting of the past, and the exact reason why a hardened communications infrastructure is absolutely critical at the core of any life safety communications network.

In the communications world, we measure a systems functionality, or horsepower, iStock_000019923878XSmall.jpgwith a rating called BHCC, or Busy Hour Call Completion. This is a measurement of how many calls a system can handle, assuming unlimited trunking, from a processor horsepower perspective. During the years of the “PBX Wars”, a systems BHCC was touted like a professional wrestler shows off his championship belt prior to a match.

As systems grew in size, Avaya and Nortel, used to slug it out each and every year trying to bump that number as high as it would go. The last I checked, the BHCC rating was an amazing 400,000.

Why is this important to public safety? That’s a simple question to answer, and a statistic you wont find published by the others. You see the latest trend, in what I categorize as “boutique PSAP providers”, is to include in their solution an IP-based PBX handling the call processing. Primarily, this is done for two reasons: cost and physical footprint.

From a cost perspective anybody can download the Asterisk IP PBX or one of it’s derivatives. It’s available for free on the Internet, and it actually performs quite a few advanced telephony functions. But that is not what worries me. My concern is that, since it is open source code, hackers on the planet can also have this same software on their laptop, and in their labs, and on the top of their list of sites that they want to try to penetrate. Also, if you can even find it, the BHCC rating is measured at about 100, compared to a resilient and reliable call processing platform measured at 400,000 BHCC. That’s a huge difference

With that, I’ll turn the question right around to those in the industry slinging FUD. “Would you want open sourced software that has been around for more than a decade in the hacker community running the middle core network of your emergency communications system?” Would you want that system to drop to it’s knees with as little as 100 simultaneous calls pumped into it?

Given the recent headlines where 9-1-1 systems have been failing and off line recently, I would think that most legislators and their voters would have a slight problem with that. To compound that problem, vendors are not able to hide behind a veil of secrecy. Tomorrow’s next generation emergency communications systems will have to be connected intelligently to the public network in order to retrieve all of this multi media rich information that will be coming down the pipe.

Consolidation is nothing to be feared
Emergency communications topologies are going to radically change with the deployment of NG9-1-1 networks. One major change that will happen, that is terrifying to many network administrators, is the dreaded “consolidation” of networks. Typically that gets people running for the hills, collecting ammunition for their shotguns, digging trenches and hunkering down for a long dragged out fight.

However in public safety, consolidation can actually be a very good thing. When a disaster hits, it will typically always be larger than what you can handle. And whether you have to bring in additional personnel from home, call them in off of patrol on the streets, or utilize the services of other agencies that are close by, you have a problem with communication over disparate systems, accountability, and a network nightmare to try to manage.

Since the early 1980s, the Internet has existed, and has been open for nearly everyone to connect with everyone else. While we all started off with just a few emails per day, we quickly became immersed in our communications, and added in new modalities such as instant messaging, videoconferencing, and any other peer to peer communication session you can think of. From a networking perspective, the core companies of Avaya and Nortel pretty much built the Internet backbone. It’s a technology that is directly in our wheelhouse, and we lead the industry in thought leadership around new technologies like Shortest Path Bridging. In fact during the world’s largest temporary networking event, INTEROP Las Vegas, the INTEROP Net core was running all on Avaya gear.

More than just the back room
While INTEROP was certainly cool, and the Avaya network operated flawlessly in a real time communications environment, the 9-1-1 center of the future, it’s going to require much more diligent call handling, or what we call skills -based routing to effectively deal with traffic into the system.

Most centers don’t have this problem today as the typical emergency call center is only 2 to 4 positions. In the small environments you don’t have the large mass of call takers with specific capabilities, in a small center it’s just you and a couple of other people. “Hey Susan, grab the stolen bicycle report on line 2. I’ve got a medical dispatch I’ve got to give to Barbara, and I’ve got an active shooter call.

NG9-1-1 is much more than texting to 9-1-1 and getting that message to the dispatcher. It’s about upgrading and advancing the public safety network so that “virtual consolidations” can happen at a moments notice, based on dynamic events and needs. It’s about taking the intelligence available in the network, as well as from the origination and points, and using that big data to make intelligent call handling decisions.

One of the best examples that I can give, and one that was acknowledged by FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai during the FCC super storm Sandy hearings in New Jersey and New York City, is that while calls to 9-1-1 were failing, as the system quickly became overloaded, you could pick up the very same telephone, and reach the airlines to check on the status of your flight as well as available options.

It’s a lot more than answering your call in the exact order it was received.
It’s about providing situational awareness at multiple levels.
It’s about using that situational awareness to make either automated, or manually assisted decisions when there is too much data to process manually and mentally.

It’s why we designed computers to begin with. Not to replace us, but to help us by enhancing our decision-making capabilities. That’s what next-generation 9-1-1 is REALLY about.


Want more Technology, News and Information from Avaya? Be sure to check out the Avaya Podcast Network landing page at http://avaya.com/APN . There you will find additional Podcasts from Industry Events such as Avaya Evolutions and INTEROP, as well as other informative series by the APN Staff.

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Thanks for stopping by and reading the Avaya CONNECTED Blog on E9-1-1, I value your opinions, so please feel free to comment below or if you prefer, you can email me privately.

Public comments, suggestions, corrections and loose change is all graciously accepted ;-)
Until next week. . . dial carefully.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Fletch911

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Next Generation 9-1-1 is quickly becoming more and more of a reality in the Public Safety world each and every day, and many of the industry technology partners are asking Avaya “WTF?” you know . . . “What are The Facts?”



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Coca-Cola Homepage

7 Secret Coca-Cola Formulas to Successful Content Marketing

Here at Avaya, we’re focused on helping you be more successful today than you were yesterday. To that end, we’re constantly searching for insights to share with you about current business trends in communication, social media and the way technology is improving the bottom line.

This past week, Avaya’s social media team in Santa Clara spent the afternoon at BlogWell, a one-day conference for communication professionals sharing best practices and emerging trends. Speakers included executives at Coca-Cola, Whole Foods, Intel, Xerox, Citrix and others.

Coca-Cola, in particular, stood out as a company pushing the envelope on social media and branded editorial content. Coke recently revamped its corporate homepage, and is focusing its efforts on hiring journalists to help them produce a daily digital magazine. The effort is less than a year old, and is already yielding positive results.

Coca-Cola Homepage

The company’s stock chart and mission statement are buried elsewhere on the site, which instead offers up video on Tom Brokaw’s life tips for teenagers, a feature piece on a cold water surfing town in British Columbia and elevator etiquette. This content is wrapped in red and white, under the banner of Coca-Cola Journey, the company’s 9-month-old experiment in digital publishing.

So what’s driving Coke’s resurgent interest in editorial content?

The company is embracing its role as a storyteller, said Ashley Callahan, Coca-Cola’s manager of digital communications and social media.

“We’re building a network of [Coca-Cola Journey] editors,” Callahan said. “We really think of Coca-Cola like an international news market with bureaus. We’re based in Atlanta, but we’re in 207 countries. We have a lot of public affairs and communications folks in all of those markets, so we’re meeting with them and relying on them to tell us what stories they have, what stories we should be sharing and telling, and in response, sharing our stories as well.”

She offered up 7 major strategies her team employs when creating original content:

#1: It’s not always an article

Corporate blogs can be a little dry, with an endless parade of articles touting new products and features. Coca-Cola’s products don’t change much, so their content team had to look beyond traditional articles: Adopting photo slideshows, videos, infographics, songs and other bite-sized content packages designed to be shared socially.

“Just as long as it’s interesting and tells a story and draws the viewer in,” Callahan said. “Many times, the content is there and the real challenge is to craft it and create something interesting. We like to say, ‘Take the ordinary and make it extraordinary.’”

#2: Apply the water cooler test

Ask yourself, does this story grip me on a personal level? Callahan asked the audience to consider whether the story was so compelling they’d tell their friends and family about it.

The water cooler test is a related idea: How would you tell a coworker the story over the water cooler? If the story makes you want to go to sleep, chances are, you won’t do a great job getting your readers excited about it, either.

“If you think you’d still share it with a friend or family member, you probably have a good piece of content and should keep pursuing it,” Callahan said.

#3: Surprise sells

“A lot of times, writing is boring,” Callahan said. “It’s very predictable. We kind of know what’s going to happen. So I always ask people in our company to try to react to things as a human being and not so much as an employee. Is there something surprising that caught you off guard?”

The best stories, Callahan said, teach us something new, or cause us to think about the world in a new way. Writing surprising truths is an ambitious goal for Coca-Cola’s writing team, and Callahan makes sure to capitalize on it whenever she sees those truths cross her desk.

#4: Make data-driven decisions

More than 1 million people per month visit Coca-Cola Journey, roughly one out of four doing so on a mobile device. In the 9 months since the new site launched, people have consumed 23.8 million pages of content, shared that content 54,000 times and left 8,500 comments.

The company tracks those metrics through the Brightspot content management system, Google Analytics, Gigya and other proprietary tools to deliver something it calls the Expression of Interest score–studying, essentially, the popularity of specific topics.

BlogwellCokePhoto.JPG

Callahan and her team watch their metrics like an online news organization, tweaking coverage to reflect their readers’ interests. When they began tracking metrics, they found the top inbound search term was “Coca-Cola cake,” linking to a recipe containing 6 tablespoons of Coca-Cola.

Inbound search terms also gives her marketing team information about what people are actually interested in, helping them make informed decisions about new campaigns.

#5: Own the medium

Coca-Cola is a massive company–it estimates it sells 1.8 billion servings of beverages every day worldwide–and it has a lot of stories to tell.

Before the advent of the Internet, the company relied on traditional news reporters to tell those stories.

With Coca-Cola Journey, the company instead controls the medium and the message, which goes out to more than a million people per month. Sustained, creative social media campaigns help Coca-Cola grow that audience on a daily basis.

The company’s internal goal is to triple its readership on Coca-Cola Journey by 2018.

#6: Use that medium to react in a crisis

In late January, the New York Times published a guest opinion article by American history professor Grace Elizabeth Hale entitled “When Jim Crow Drank Coke.” The article claimed Coca-Cola avoided marketing to black Americans in the early 20th century, and only did so after facing renewed competition from Pepsi.

Callahan said the company reacted quickly to this emerging brand crisis, asking their chief historian to respond on Coca-Cola Journey.

“The lengths taken by Dr. Grace Elizabeth Hale to try to link the history of America’s favorite and most inclusive drink–Coca-Cola–to racism are both absurd and appalling,” Coca-Cola Chief Historian Phil Mooney wrote the next day.

Mooney’s response garnered media attention, resulting in links back to the company’s website.

#7: Think like a newsroom

Roughly half of Callahan’s team has a journalism background, and they apply traditional editorial standards and ethics in their work. Callahan is a journalist herself, having worked as a television reporter in North Carolina, Salt Lake City and Atlanta before joining Coca-Cola in early 2012.

The traditional measures journalists use to weigh a story’s importance–chiefly, does it educate and delight–are directly applicable in the world of content marketing, she said.



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Yosemite mountains and waterfalls

My Summer Plans: Exploring the US

Greetings from Portland, Oregon!

After two years of continuous travel, I’ve finally made it to the United States and it certainly feels like the perfect time to have done so.

With a heatwave sweeping across much of the country, I’ve found my transition from Southeast Asia to North America a lot easier than expected. I was slightly concerned about spending a month in Portland after being warned by practically everybody I spoke to expect rain, even in summer. However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to have not experienced a single drop during the two weeks I’ve been here.

Yosemite mountains and waterfalls

With such fantastic weather, I’ve decided to make the most of it and so I’ve extended my US travels so that I can spend three months here in total.

Once I finish up in Portland in August, I’ll be jetting over to the east coast to check out New York City, Boston and Washington DC. I’ve visited New York City before, almost ten years ago, so I’m intrigued to see how I like it this time around. Boston and Washington DC will both be new cities for me to explore.

My final month in the US will be spent in the Southwest, where I’ll be driving from Phoenix to Austin. High on my list of places to see are the Grand Canyon, Saguaro National Park, White Sands National Monument and Big Bend National Park.

Apparently I really like hot weather.

I’ll be visiting a lot of brand new cities over my next couple of months in the US so I’d love to get some recommendations from you. I love quirky sights, unusual activities, hiking and great food. If you can think of anywhere I absolutely have to visit in any of these places then leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.

 

Photos © Lauren Juliff | Student Travel Blog Home

Source: About.com


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John Scofield (Live at the String Cheese Incident, August 3, 2013)

A Wonderful Day In The (Jazz) Neighborhood

John Scofield (Live at the String Cheese Incident, August 3, 2013)

It’s been a great day to be the jazz guide here at About.com.

Today’s mail delivery included a CD by a young cat named Warren Wolf. The young man plays the vibes and does it with remarkable melodic intensity (not to mention the support of dudes like Benny Green, Christian McBride and Lewis Nash). Also in the mix, the Pablo re-release of Coltrane‘s Afro Blue set, an album I blogged about last week (and one that will get a spin on the sound system tonight).

As if that weren’t enough, I got a chance to hang on the phone this morning with jazz guitar legend John Scofield. “Sco,” as his pals call him, was back home in New York after playing a weekend date at the String Cheese Incident in my current hometown of Portland. I was there and I saw what he did: a great set from him and his Uberjam band. And, I had a great conversation with him today about his new album Uberjam Deaux. Look for the full details later this week.

However, you shall not pass “go” and shall not collection information about “Sco” without first reading my Talks About interview with the wonderful and charming singer and pianist Eliane Elias. Check it out and then check out her new album, I Thought About You, a dazzling tribute to Chet Baker.

Enjoy!

_/\_

MV

Photo of John Scofield by Michael Verity

Source: About.com


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Monday Morning Manager: It’s Biogenesis D-Day

Today could be one of those days in big-league history that will be long remembered. Major League Baseball is reportedly ready to suspend several players in the ongoing Biogenesis investigation.

Alex Rodriguez is likely to come off the disabled list, but nobody is sure if he’ll go to the New York Yankees’ active roster or to the suspended list for a long, long time.

Several news sites are reporting that Rodriguez will be one of a dozen-or-so players suspended on Monday, just as he’s finally ready to come off the disabled list for the New York Yankees. It’s been an interesting game of cat-and-mouse between Rodriguez, the Yankees and MLB in the past few weeks as the timetable has meshed between A-Rod’s rehab, the investigation and a lot of behind-the-scenes maneuvering. Rodriguez has behaved in public as if there’s nothing wrong at all, saying he is ready to join his teammates and that he feels great.

Other players on teams in pennant races — such as Detroit’s Jhonny Peralta and Texas’ Nelson Cruz — are also likely to be suspended. But Rodriguez has vowed a fight, and it’s likely that MLB will let Rodriguez play while he appeals a long suspension, perhaps one that could keep him out until 2015.

And we’ll likely finally get a bit of resolution today.

On to this week’s Monday Morning Manager:

WHO’S HOT

Jason Heyward, Braves: He’s coming alive as Atlanta is pulling away in the NL East, winning 10 in a row. He was 10 for 27 in the last seven days with two homers and eight RBI, but still is languishing at .235 with 10 homers and 31 RBI on the season.

Jose Fernandez, Marlins: Becoming one of the best stories of the year on a last-place team. He handed the Indians their only loss in the last 10 games on Friday, shutting them out and striking out 14. He’s 8-5 with a 2.54 ERA and 138 strikeouts in 127 2/3 innings.

Chris Perez, Indians: He’s returned to dominant form since coming off the DL on last June. He’s given up two earned runs since then in 16 appearances, with two wins and 10 saves.

WHO’S NOT

Josh Johnson, Blue Jays: Toronto made three huge additions to its pitching staff in the offseason, and none have gone as planned. The worst of the bunch has been Johnson, who fell to 1-8 with a 6.60 ERA  after the Angels battered him last week.

J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays: Don’t mean to pile on here, but Toronto’s battery is woefully uncharged right now. Arencibia has two hits in his last 10 games and his average has slipped to .212.

Chris Carter, Astros: He’s just an extra H from a famous football Hall of Fame player, but this Carter didn’t have as good a week as the former NFL receiver. Carter, the Houston left fielder, is 1 for his last 21 and is at .213 with just two of his 19 homers since the All-Star break.

TOP 10

1. Atlanta Braves (67-45, last week unranked)

2. Boston Red Sox (68-45, last week No. No. 72)

3. Tampa Bay Rays (66-45, last week No. 3)

4. Pittsburgh Pirates (67-44, last week No. 4)

5. Detroit Tigers (64-45, last week No. 5)

6. St. Louis Cardinals (65-45, last week No. 1)

7. Los Angeles Dodgers (61-49, last week No. 5)

8. Cleveland Indians (62-49, last week unranked)

9. Cincinnati Reds (61-51, last week unranked)

10. Texas Rangers (62-50, last week unranked)

BOTTOM 5

26. Chicago Cubs (49-62, last week unranked)

27. Milwaukee Brewers (47-64, last week No. 27)

28. Miami Marlins (43-67, last week No. 28)

29. Chicago White Sox (40-69, last week No. 29)

30. Houston Astros (36-74, last week No. 30)

Source: About.com


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