Clips Email Marketing column: Chef Takes Guerrilla Marketing Online

Chef Takes Guerrilla Marketing Online

David F. Carr, 07.27.10, 06:00 AM EDT

Taking reservations and collecting money online for an underground restaurant.


Russell Jackson speaks not very plausibly about maintaining “plausible deniability” about the years he ran the San Francisco “underground restaurant”SubCulture Dining.

In talking about his experiences, Jackson uses the phrase “if it actually happened,” as if it were all hypothetical. Then again, now that he has gone legitimate with a traditional brick-and-mortar, health-department-inspected restaurant called Lafitte (, he is promoting it on the Web and promising a “crazy intangible element that made SubCulture Dining work so well for so long.”

Jackson was part of a foodie movement in cities like San Francisco that achieved a small cult following for arranging gourmet dinners in people’s homes or other ad hoc locations. SubCulture Dining cultivated an air of hip exclusivity; you supposedly had to be “in the know” and with the right connections to know when the events were happening.

I spoke with Jackson to learn about the online marketing campaign he used to make SubCulture Dining successful, especially since that success helped generate the buzz that led to the opening of his above-ground restaurant. The process, he admits, took longer than he had expected. (More at

This is a case study of event marketing with EventBrite for an “underground dining” restaurant. Interesting one for me to report that I’ve done quite a lot of custom event marketing work with my web development clients, using my own scripts and (more recently) WordPress plugins to handle RSVPs and email invites. There are always advantages of having something custom built for your own purposes, but I’m impressed by the range of functionality EventBrite offers.

Chef Jackson and his business were also undeniably fun to write about.

Clips column: Organization That Fights Slavery Stretches Its Network

Latest column, on the intersection of technology and international justice.


Organization That Fights Slavery Stretches Its Network

David F. Carr, 07.13.10, 06:00 AM EDT

International Justice Mission and the importance of centralizing and optimizing.

When John Lax joined International Justice Mission ( to manage its IT systems, he stepped into another world after 30 years in the software industry.

The IJM combats child sex traffic and slavery, working to identify instances of these practices and convince local authorities to crack down. By contrast, his previous job involved product development at IntuitINTU – news – people), the company behind Quicken and QuickBooks. Lax says he made the jump so he could be “working on something with meaning, rather than adding another $100 million to the company’s bottom line.”

In his new job, he faced an extreme version of the same technology challenges faced by many organizations, large or small. IJM has about 340 employees, 80 at its headquarters in Washington, D.C. and the rest overseas. Like every other organization, IJM needs to maintain communications with its branch offices. The problem for Lax, though, is that many of those offices are in developing countries, where network bandwidth is scarce, expensive and unreliable.

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Clips White Paper

White Paper on the Qt WebKit Embeddable Web Browser

I produced this white paper on the use of WebKit for Trolltech, the software components maker now known as Qt Nokia since it was acquired by the mobile phone company. WebKit is a web rendering engine based on the same core code as Apple’s Safari and Google’s Chrome, and Qt makes it easier to embed WebKit into your own applications.

This work sample is from 2008, so for more current info on WebKit, see the Qt website.

Clips White Paper

White Paper for Ultimate Software, How SaaS HR Product Addresses Healthcare Reform Changes

This is a project I worked on with the marketing department at Ultimate Software, the company behind the UltiPro Software as a Service product for human resources and payroll management. The content was adapted from a webinar Ultimate’s experts gave on the implications of the new healthcare reform act and other laws affecting payroll, benefits, and hiring incentives.

Healthcare Reform and UltiPro, June 2010

Clips Deciding Which Cloud Services to Trust


Deciding Which Cloud Services To Trust

imageDavid F. Carr, 07.06.10, 06:00 PM EDT

A security expert evaluates Internet business apps.

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is a seductive concept for the small, cash-strapped business. No software to install or manage, minimizing the need for you to hire your own IT staff or contractors. Pay a monthly fee, with little or no long-term commitment. And trust that the service you are hiring will do a better job of managing or protecting your data than you could yourself.

But are you sure about that last point? Ronald Knode, a director of global security solutions at the consulting firm Computer Sciences Corp. ( CSC – news – people ), suggests taking your time to make sure. (Read the rest at

Clips GeeksOnTour, Running a Subscription Website from the Road

Chris and Jim Guld (and Odie) in the office
Chris and Jim Guld (and Odie) in the office

Nice folks, and a great story of doing business in your own style.


Running A Subscription Website From The Road

David F. Carr06.11.10, 06:00 AM EDT founders teach tech skills from their motor home.

“We’re flabbergasted!” Chris Guld exclaimed on her blog a few days ago, shortly after she and her husband, Jim, rolled into the RV Lifestyle and Safety Conference in Bowling Green, Ky. “This is a metropolitan area and yet, we have NO Verizon data service.”

The Gulds run entirely out of the back of a 1998 Safari Class C motor home. Having to fall back on a shaky Wi-Fi connection at an RV park is just another day at the office.

Jim and Chris Guld, with Odie and the RV
Jim and Chris Guld, with Odie and the RV

The nation is full of IT consultants but none like the Gulds. They target not the executive suite but instead the trailer park, moving from park to park all over the country offering advice, selling videos and signing up mobile-home-owning tech buffs for $39-a-year subscriptions to the Gulds’ website. (read the rest at

Clips What Cloud Computing Means

My take on what’s new and what’s hype, along with a slideshow on cloud computing leaders.


What Cloud Computing Means

David F. Carr06.04.10, 06:00 AM EDT

New wave of technologies is the same–only different.


In Pictures: 10 Cloud Computing Leaders

Read the story at

Clips Why Companies Don’t Need Headquarters

Some people are fun to write about.


Why Companies Don’t Need Headquarters

David F. Carr06.03.10, 06:00 AM EDT

Working remotely from home or at a customer’s office can boost your business.

James Sinclair, head of the hospitality industry turnaround firm OnSite Consulting, says one of the biggest challenges his employees have had adapting to the way he runs his business is answering the question, “But where is your company based?”

The answer: Wherever the work needs to be done. “We have 65 people, and we have no office,” Sinclair explains. Headquarters is a post office box; he also has an Internet-based phone and unified communications system.

Read the rest at

Clips Bypassing IT Bottlenecks

Mr. Roy wrote me after this was published to say that when reading the story, “I can hear my frustration being presented with such clarity.” Glad I could be of service.


Bypassing IT Bottlenecks

David F. Carr05.24.10, 06:00 AM EDT

How some firms take charge of their data.

Don’t get between Jay Roy and his data. For an information technology person, that’s a good way to get fired.

Roy is CEO of AWPRx, a Florida company that provides pharmacy benefits management services in workers’ compensation cases. It’s a 25-person firm with about $15 million in revenue, and it runs on data. (Read the rest at

Clips Breaking The ‘Brochureware’ Mindset

This is a little rant I wrote up for my column.


Breaking The ‘Brochureware’ Mindset

David F. Carr05.18.10, 06:00 AM EDT

Seek out opportunities to automate your website.

Is your business website stupider than it needs to be? Or, to put it another way, is it doing everything it could to make you look smart?

The term “brochureware” was coined early in the Web era to refer to business websites that were nothing more than online marketing brochures, typically presented as a set of static pages. If you’re selling online, or using a content management system, you’ve probably gone beyond that initial brochureware stage.

But you still may not be taking advantage of all the power the online world has to offer.

For example, that Web server you’re renting space on can do more than just serve up pages. For one thing, it can tell time. So why do many sites advertise an event that has already occurred, or hawk a special offer that has expired? Because they rely on very manual processes for updating. And if someone doesn’t get around to making the fix, the old information stays up. (read the rest at