Ten Years Ago Today

Ten years ago I entered the publishing world when I bought Connections Magazine from its founder, Steve Michaels.

The transaction was done in parts, that is the documents for the sale were not signed at the same time or at the same location, but on different days via fax and mail.  As a result, I don’t know what day the sale was official, but what I do know is that the package of publication’s records and files arrived on September 10, 2001.

Early that next day, I dove into the treasure trove of information that would set my career in a new direction. I was understandably excited and wanted to quickly grasp the nuances of my new business.

My morning bliss, however, was interrupted by my bride who uncharacteristically popped into my office to inform me that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center building. Assuming that it as a novice pilot in a single engine plane, I dismissed the news and resumed work. But not for long.

Soon I was drawn to the TV and the horrific events that would forever change life in the United States. For a time, my labors no longer mattered; ceasing all attempts to work, I watched the news in shock. I wondered what this would mean to the future of business and commerce — and the magazine operation I had just bought. Would I end up being a victim of bad timing?

For the rest of that week, I did only the work that was absolutely required. Then, life slowly began to reclaim a degree of normalcy, even if normal no longer existed.

As we remember the events of 9-11 and the people who innocently lost their lives, we can also celebrate the resiliency of our country and our ability to prevail and succeed. Personally, I can also celebrate Connections Magazine and the new path it has provided.

My Summertime Schedule

For myself and many others, summer effectively begins on Memorial Day and ends on Labor Day.

This year the weather seems to concur that summer is over. Last Friday, temperatures in southern Michigan were in the upper nineties, with a heat index of 105 to 115. Today, the highs failed to hit 70, with a predicted low tonight of 45.

For the first time in months, I am wearing jeans and have donned a sweatshirt. It certainly feels like fall.

With fall comes a pledge to blog more frequently. If you’re keeping track, it’s pushing two months since my last post. It’s not that I have nothing to share — I’ve composed many a blog in my mind — it’s that I’ve not had a chance to write things out. So, I hope to begin catching up and write retroactively.

Another change is that the comments and trackbacks features are again reactivated. I had turned them off due to a high degree of spam, but with a software upgrade, things are again manageable.

Also, check out my other blogs, which I post to more frequently:

Going Forward

Regular readers of this blog (thank you, one and all) have noticed a decided decrease in posting frequency over the past six months. While Musings will remain alive and active, infrequency will become the new norm.

When I started Musings over three years ago, it was to provide a creative outlet, connect with others via the written word, and learn about the art of blogging. By design, Musings had no theme, other than to share the musing of my mind at that moment. While it was not a stream-of-conscience spew (that would be narcissistic and boring), it did bounce all over the place. No one would connect with all my topics, such as family, computers, nature, movies, politics, business, sports, weather, and even blogging about blogging.

Realizing the need to blog around a theme and for me to focus on areas of interest, I have begun to specialize. The result is that, going forward, I will primarily be blogging at:

I encourage you to pick the ones that interest you and follow me there, as well as occasional future posts here.

Thank you!

A New Blog: From the Publisher’s Desk

This blog, the “Musings of Peter DeHaan,” is about nothing, but covers everything. It is essentially a sharing of my stream of conscience. While this blog will continue unabated, I have started another blog, one with a stated purpose and goal.

It is a business blog, called “From the Publishers Desk,” and shares my tips and commentary about advertising and marketing. If this topic is of interest, I encourage you to check it out. Just like this blog, you can sign up to be notified via email of new posts or subscribe to a list feed.

[In 2013, the name of the blog changed to “The Book Blog,” and the focus became book publishing. All old posts were saved in the archive section.]

More News Than You Can Use

As a publisher, I receive all manner of press releases. Some are appropriately targeted and end up in one of my magazines, newsfeeds, or newsletters. Others are close, but slightly miss our focus, while many are seemingly sent to me without forethought or strategy. Here are the headlines that I have received in the past 48 hours; see if you can figure them out:

  • Prosodie Interactive Enhances the Max-Route Call Allocation Platform by Adding Ad-Hoc Reporting, Fulfillment and Contact Center Flexibility
  • Smucci: Make Your Pets Feel Like Royalty
  • Wilson Named to Kaiser Permanente’s Board of Directors
  • Confirmit Partners with Plum Voice to Offer Complete Data Collection Platform
  • GSA Smartbuy Geospatial Agreements Provide Maximum Taxpayer Value
  • Global Telecom & Technology Completes Acquisition of WBS Connect
  • FTC Privacy Roundtable Highlights Clash Between Consumer Advocates, Ad Industry
  • FCC Counsel Invests in XG Technology
  • LG Begins Global Hunt for Live Borderless Experience
  • Knowledge Networks Expands in Pharma Research with Acquisition of CMR
  • Researchers Announce Medical Breakthrough with Simple, Inexpensive Blood Test for Colon Cancer
  • Immune Cell Activity Linked to Worsening COPD
  • Hibernia Atlantic Acquires International Broadcast and Media Production Service Provider Mediaxstream
  • Isippy Networks Inc. Announces Unlimited Calling to 70+ Countries on iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile, and Symbian Phones
  • In Age of ‘Sexting,’ Parents Weigh Options for Blocking Content
  • CSD Designated for State of California Disability Equipment Distribution Contract
  • U-M-Patented Nanotech Treatment for Cold Sores Gets Major Boost with Glaxosmithkline Licensing Agreement
  • About 25 percent of Arab adults in Greater Detroit reported abuse after 9/11, study says

Many of these make little sense to me — even after scanning the press release. Some, I comprehend, but don’t care about, while a few capture my attention, as in the case of the last two items  Nanotechnology has always intrigued me, though I never suspected it as a cold sore combatant. The abuse of Arabs after 9/11 is indeed sad.  Nineteen radicals needlessly subjected an entire race to unwarranted ill will and harsh treatment by close-minded and vengeful Americans. What else can I say?

Call Centers Can Aid in Healthcare Reform

I’ve spent most of my adult life in call center related vocations. I’ve worked in call centers and for a call center vendor, did consulting for call centers, audited call centers, wrote about call centers, and now publish magazines, newsletters, and websites about call centers.

Call centers are a vital part of the global economy, moving information and facilitating commerce by taking and processing orders, providing customer service, taking messages, and even assisting in and providing healthcare. Yes, healthcare.

Hospital and medical related call centers ease patient-practitioner communication, provide medical answering services, allow patients to schedule appointments, send reminders of those appointments, refer callers to doctors based on specialty or geographic location, and dispense medical advice. Even though I am aware of this, I’ve never taken the next logical step to see that medical call centers can play a vital role in healthcare reform.

Fortunately, Doctors Barton Schmitt and Andrew Hertz have. They recently completed a position paper regarding the role of medical call centers in health care reform. The position paper, titled The Case for Publicly Funded Medical Call Centers, offers as a premise that, “every citizen should have the right to reach a telephone care nurse at any hour day or night for assistance with illnesses, injuries or other acute medical problems.” Its content describes the primary functions of today’s medical call centers, an overview of their outcomes, evidence of their ability to reduce healthcare costs and recommendations for making these centers a critical part of universal access to health care. Medical call centers are used in many other countries and have been found to be cost-effective, so why not in the US?

If you agree with the premise, why not pass it on?

Magazine Goes Green – Sort of

A weekly (or almost weekly) magazine that I receive, recently announced that it was going to have four “green” issues this year, with the goal of being “carbon neutral” in 10 years.

I was curious how they would handle this “green” issue.  o their credit, they emailed me when it was ready and I went online to check it out. (Even though I proof the magazines I publish on a computer and online, I greatly dislike reading magazines on my computer.  To be direct, I don’t have a computer where I do my magazine reading.)

Upon clicking on the link, it took me to a sign in page, where I essentially requalified my subscription, which was a good idea on their part, as it will save extra work and effort for them later. Additionally, I didn’t need to pick a password and login, which is a good thing, too, as I have over 150 logins and passwords for the various sites I need to use and will thankfully be spared one for this site.

The presentation of the magazine was a PDF file (as I do with the electronic versions of my Connections Magazine and AnswerStat), with some hyperlinks in the table of contents to go directly to the articles. There were also links on the top and bottom of each page to speed readers back to the table of contents, to the next page, or to the previous page.

So, all is good — sort of.  The magazine had a green issue, it was relatively painless to access, and I could read it online — unfortunately, I don’t like reading magazines online.  More on that tomorrow…

A Salute to Google Alerts

One of the many things I appreciate about Google is Google Alerts (I enjoy both the service and the fact that it is free).  With Google Alerts, you enter in a name or phrase to be tracked.  When Google finds it online, they let you know about it.

I use Google Alerts to track references of my name and magazines online.  This helps me keep my finger on the pulse of what is happening relative to me in Cyberspace.  Plus, if there is misinformation (which happened once), I can to correct it (which was partially successful).  I think everyone should set up a Google Alert for his or her name and business.

Of course, many of the matches that pop up are to my own websites.  Other matches are not for me.  For example, a prodigious blogger who shares my name seems to post daily on a couple of blogs.  I only have a faint idea of what he is talking about, but am quite sure that he is an expert.  Thanks to Google Alerts I know about him; I wonder if he knows — or cares — about me?  (I’m not narcissistic, just curious.)

The phrase “Connections Magazine” gives frequent matches to other publications with the word Connections in the title, such as “Cycle Connections” magazine, “Irish Connections” magazine, “Cable Connections” magazine, many “Connections” magazine, and even other “Connections Magazine.”  At this time, I’ve logged over 30 and I am sure there are more.  Someday I will post a list.

Over the weekend, there was a blog post by Randy Saunders mentioning Connections Magazine.  He wrote an article in Connections, back in ’07, entitled “Creating a Virtual Contact Center.”  He shared with readers how he could link to the specific page of his article, on the PDF file of that issue, by appending the web address with “#page=” and the page number.  If not for Google Alerts, I would have never known about his post or the nifty trick that he shared.  Of course, I felt obliged to comment on his post, thanking him for the info and letting him know of the link to the text version of his article.

Thank you Google and thank you Randy.

Peter DeHaan Publishing Inc Launches TAStrader e-Publication

Peter DeHaan Publishing Inc Launches TAStrader e-Publication”

This headline has been four years in the making — seriously.

In 2005, I hatched an idea for an e-publication for telephone answering services.  I did some online research, eventually landing on a name with matching website that were available.  Taking a proactive step forward, I registered the domain name TAStrader.com on May 13, 2005.

In my spare time over the following months, I would plan and strategize how the publication would be laid out, promoted, and supported.  Sometimes I would go for months without working on it, but the idea had been birthed and was not going to go away.  Two years ago, I began in earnest, putting my many musings to paper and working out the details.  I added “TAStrader” on my “to do” list, but there always seemed to be another project that was more worthy, more demanding, or more promising of providing immediate gratification.

Approaching the project’s four-year mark, I decided that I needed to bring it to fruition or be content to forever lay it aside.  Fortunately, my planning notes were sufficiently sound and adequately detailed, so there was little left to do — except execute the plan.  It was merely a matter of prioritizing my time and enlisting the support of the Connections Magazine team to make this a reality.

Last Saturday the supporting website, www.TAStrader.com, went online and the bugs worked out on Monday.  The final version of the premier issue was also completed and approved that day.

Although the scheduled distribution is April 9, I pulled the trigger this morning with an announcement launching TAStrader.  Emailing the subscribers and potential subscribers will still happen as scheduled, but the word is out and people are providing pleasingly positive feedback.

I would hope so — I’ve been working on it for four years!

Green Publishing

A growing trend in magazine publishing is “going green.”  Green publishing means different things to different people and includes many facets.  The most common and visible result of green publishing is digital editions.  Digital editions are issues that are not printed on paper but read on a computer screen or reading device, such as Amazon’s Kindle.

For my magazines, we offer two options for digital reading.  One is a PDF file of the complete issue, exactly as it will be printed.  The other is a list of links to each article on our websites.  This is a basic, first step that I have taken, while awaiting for the more advance digital publishing technologies to shake out and for a reader preference to emerge.

Our digital editions are available a week prior to the magazine being printed and mailed, so our on-line readers get a huge jump on everyone else.  We’ve been doing this the longest with Connections Magazine and about 15% of our readers receive digital issues.  AnswerStat magazine is at 3%.  For both, the new subscribers tend to opt for digital over print.  This is certainly a trend that we will see more and more of, which is being accelerated by the current recession.

Here are some stats, courtesy of Folio magazine, from PennWell Digital Reader Surveys, about why magazine subscribers go digital:

  • 67% – easy to save
  • 61% – environmentally friendly
  • 52% – the ability to search issues
  • 48% – easy to forward
  • 45% – more timely than print
  • 34% – prefer reading on a computer

As for me, there is something about holding the magazine in my hand and not being tied to my computer that I just can’t shake.