Tuesday, August 9, 2016

-Sticky (26) When your website thinks your brand is a mispelling

Some ideas stick, others don't. I am a student of ideas, products, slogans that stick. Today I ran into a series that don't. I realize readers prefer positive and upbeat; so do I. But when you run into something that is -sticky, (not sticky), it can be instructive to understand why.

At SANS.EDU we use Grammarly on student papers to ensure a certain degree of objectivity. And it works pretty well, or at least did until it didn't. Today, for some reason, I can't load the robot copy editor. 

I looked all over the website for a contact us, or support link; it might be there, but I could not find it. On a whim, I wrote support@grammarly.com and got an answer back almost immediately with a canned note and trouble ticket number.

After I returned from the gym, there was a support URL. Went to the support site, it is mostly a FAQ GUI. Found a place to report the problem.  When I put in a subject line for my report the interface marked Grammarly as a misspelling, (note the red squiggle in the graphic). Calling your brand a misspelling on your own site is humorous, but not sticky.

And I am back to where I started, with the same canned email from Grammarly with a new support number. To be continued . . .

Stephen Northcutt is Director of Academic Advising for SANS.EDU and chairperson for SANS Rocky Mountain 2017, Denver, 6/12/17, please mark the date.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Sticky (25) Veteran's Parking Places at Home Depot

Check out the orange in the sign. These are really good spots. At my local Home Depot they are on par with the handicapped spots.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Sticky (24) Pineapple dump

For my physical activity yesterday and today, I rode my trike to Pineapple dump. I think the area just North of Kealia is incredibly beautiful. Kauai used to earn money from sugarcane and pineapples. There was a narrow gauge railroad that carried the cores and skins to an area just North of Kealia beach and they dumped them in the ocean. Most of the time, the currents took them out to sea, but if a strong North wind was blowing all the refuse ended up in Kapaa, stinking up the place.

They say at night you can hear the faint cries of the dead pineapple cores, but I think that is just a legend.

Pineapple dump looking North

Pineapple Dump end of the line

Pineapple dump looking South

The reason I think this is "sticky"(Simple/Unexpected/Concrete/Credible/Emotional)" 

  • Simple: You can seed the simplicity of Pineapple Dump.
  • Unexpected: Trains dumping pineapple cores and skins in the ocean, have you seen that beforE?
  • Concrete: "Concrete details allow us to imagine a scene and, crucially, imagine ourselves in it." [Lifehack.org] First off, it is concrete :)  But it is easy to imagine watching the train dump.
  • Credible: The first time I saw this 38 years ago, it was very rural. Nobody in the tourist business knew it was there, or why. Now there is one of those informative park signs telling the story.
  • Emotional: When you think of the ocean turning orange. When you read that if the currents were going in the wrong direction there was a stench over Kapaa. That is going to cause some emotions, especially in the year of an unprecedented die off of the Great Barrier Reef.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Sticky (23) WD 40

Saw this on facebook, the ad lead in seems a bit racy for 1964, but they are targeting males.

Just about everyone has a can of Water Displacement formulation number 40 around the house. I live a block from the beach in Hawaii and spray all the tools in my tool box a couple times a year. They still rust, but much slower.


The reason I think this is "sticky"(Simple/Unexpected/Concrete/Credible/Emotional)" 

  • Simple: Blue letters on a Yellow block. Shades of Boston Strong
  • Unexpected: There had never been anything like this
  • Concrete: Water Displacement, corrosion
  • Credible: Stuff really works, that is why most guys have a can laying around, what is the first thing that comes to mind when a door lock is acting up?
  • Emotional: They sent goodwill kits to the soldiers in Vietnam so their weaponry would continue to operate in adverse conditions at a time where many Americans were not supportive of our boys.
Here is their history page. Here are some uses of the product you probably never thought of, bet you are just dying to WD 40 the pole of your bird feeder, (squirrels hate the stuff).

Stephen Northcutt is an advisor for the SANS Technology Institute, a cyber-security graduate school and chair of the upcoming SANS Boston 2016, August 1 - 6 where he will be teaching MGT 512, Security Leadership Essentials.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Sticky (22) Northstar Wine Club

This blog is a consideration why some products and ideas go viral, survive a long time, become the standard and others don't. It is important to understand that while we generally consider the positive effects, there is also a variant of sticky that is pure poison. There are scads of wineries in Western Washington, but Northstar is my go to for Merlot. And somehow they survived the 2004 movie Sideways with the famous quote, ("If anyone orders Merlot, I'm leaving, I am NOT drinking any f*cking Merlot!"), that durn near killed Merlot, at least in the USA.

It wasn't even a great movie, it falls in the class of movies that I saw once, do not intend to see again and not because I sometimes drink Merlot.

Northstar makes consistently good Merlot, (and other vintages), and they charge a significant price for them and not just because they are in Walla Walla, (the city so nice you have to say it twice and where you can expect to pay at least $10 more per bottle).

In business, it is wise to be ready to wine and dine and some people don't go for Pinot Noir if you get my drift, so I belong to the wine club which is an assortment of six bottles per year, so Kathy and I share their other vintages and keep the Merlots in that special rack that people keep for visitors right next to the Otis Kenyon.

Now, I know what you are thinking, this doesn't sound sticky to me. Hold on, being a member means you can take a friend, or client to their wine blending class. Everybody I have taken to that has had a blast. Yes, that too is pricey, but you get a tour, the class and the blending lab and get to take home of bottle of your own blend.

Something happened this morning that put them on my sticky list. I received an email: This email confirms that your order has been processed. We will send another email with tracking information when your order has shipped. If you have any questions about your order, please reply to this email or call us at 800-391-1409.

One problem. I am in Hawaii and my wine is headed to Washington, you have to sign for alcohol and I don't really want two $40 bottles sitting on my front porch even if UPS is willing to skip the formality. So I called the 800 number, they stopped the order, are storing our bottles for us, (good thing, one of the bottles was their Petite Verdot and Kathy loves it), and they rescheduled the delivery for the day I get back.

The reason I think this is "sticky"(Simple/Unexpected/Concrete/Credible/Emotional)" 

  • Simple: Join the club, get the case discount when you are in Walla Walla, the bottles find their way back to you.
  • Unexpected: I had no idea it would be so easy to change my shipment.
  • Concrete: "Concrete details allow us to imagine a scene and, crucially, imagine ourselves in it." [Lifehack.org] I have the bottles right in my rack.
  • Credible: This is what they call internal credibility, "Internal credibility is the ability of our ideas themselves to convince through an appeal to our audience’s sense of how the world works and how they see it." [Lifehack.org] They are my "snob bottles". I do not usually spend this much on wine, (a $13 bottle of H3 from Costco serves me just fine), but if someone knows red wine, they know the Northstar winery.
  • Emotional: Now that you know the Sidekick story please join me in feeling like a rebel when you pop a Merlot.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Sticky (21) Boston Strong

Just read the article about the Boston Strong banner being displayed on the final stretch of the 120th Boston Marathon next week.  When I read that I got just a bit teary. You know the story, two college students, Nicholas Reynolds and Chris Dobens, came up with the idea of the t-shirts, published it on Facebook and by the time the smoke cleared, earned almost a million dollars for charity. Some claim the phrase is losing steam, but I beg to differ, so does the One Fund.

In the words of Howard Fineman, "Today, rescuers were running toward the wounded on Boylston Street in acts of true heroism -- running toward the sound of the screams.

In the end, the terrorists will fail because Bostonians did not turn from their fellow men -- they turned toward them. And that is the real music of mankind."

Proof that "Boston Strong" is sticky? Easy, almost nobody you meet remembers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, but everyone remembers Boston Strong.

The reason I think this is "sticky"(Simple/Unexpected/Concrete/Credible/Emotional)" 

  • Simple: Blue and Yellow, block letters. There are other renditions of course, but this is the core.
  • Unexpected: Two college students, near instant turnaround, it went viral. No way to see that coming.
  • Concrete: "Concrete details allow us to imagine a scene and, crucially, imagine ourselves in it." [Lifehack.org] I have the slogan as a refrigerator magnet and reflect on the heroics and strength of the people of Boston every time I see it.
  • Credible: This is what they call internal credibility, "Internal credibility is the ability of our ideas themselves to convince through an appeal to our audience’s sense of how the world works and how they see it." [Lifehack.org] It is credible! The rescuers ran towards the screams.
  • Emotional: Here is an article with just five of the heroes of the bombing. Feel more than a bit teary? Of course you do. Me too. 

(Stephen Northcutt is the conference chair of SANS Boston 2016, August 1 - 6. Boston is one of his favorite cities. He is also, as you can see from this blog, a student of stickiness and curious about why some ideas stick while others don't.)

Friday, April 1, 2016

Sticky (20) ZeroLemon Solar charger

One of my indulgences is slashdot. So when they featured this I bought it. I am not the real camping type, so I never expected to need the solar charger. A couple weeks ago we chartered a boat for a couple weeks in the Belize lagoon. Kathy's waterproof camera was on the fritz so we bought another one. It was highly rated; it worked fairly well; it was a power hog.

Our Robinson and Caine 384 cat is one of the lower end Moorings models and did not have an inverter or generator. There was one USB port on the boat, but two couples with 5 iPhones between us meant we had to USB buddy breathe bigtime.

Solution: everyday, we put the ZeroLemon in the sun, every evening we charged the waterproof camera and it all worked. It also made a decent flashlight for moving around the boat after lights out.
One complaint, its USB charging port is non-standard. A mini-USB would have been much better, if you misplace the cord you are down to nothing but solar, (which is fine in Belize in March).

I am going to be announcing a cybersecurity covert channel contest later this month as part of my marketing efforts for SANS Boston 2016 August 1 - 6, and I think this will make a nice prize.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Way to stick Boston! Involving youth in government decision making. Sticky (19)

Since I am the chair for SANS Boston 2016, I keep a Google Alert for news concerning Boston. Today, I got a tip to an excellent article on a novel program in Boston involving kids, younger and older in government decision making. The article starts by saying, "When the city of Boston gave teenagers the power to allocate a million dollars a year on urban improvements, there was skepticism – not just from officials, but from youth who assumed they’d be ignored. The results surprised everyone"

The reason I think this is "sticky"(Simple/Unexpected/Concrete/Credible/Emotional)" 

  • Simple: a million bucks to allocate, let the kids figure it out. Now in truth, it *appears* to be simple, when we look under the hood we see it isn't quite that way. "Participatory budgeting does have costs and risks. Beyond the $1m of capital funds, the city spends $100,000 for staffing, consultant fees and materials. Logistics can be complicated, even for finding meeting times and locations that suit high schoolers’ schedules and transportation options. And Davis stresses that the involvement of city officials is required for educating and advising the youth on budget processes."
  • Unexpected: When was the last time you heard of a city giving kids a million dollars to invest in projects.
  • Concrete: "Concrete details allow us to imagine a scene and, crucially, imagine ourselves in it." [Lifehack.org] "The change agents hail from many different high schools, neighbourhoods and backgrounds. They work in pairs, poring over printed pages of raw ideas. Some entries are overly grand (“Fix the transit system”); a few are silly; and a good number are not even eligible for the youth-controlled capital funds, which must go toward physical infrastructure or technology."
  • Credible. This is what they call internal credibility, "Internal credibility is the ability of our ideas themselves to convince through an appeal to our audience’s sense of how the world works and how they see it." [Lifehack.org] It didn't come easy, they had to earn the credibility, but they did: "Youth Lead the Change has already garnered attention and honours. It made the shortlist of 15 finalists for the 2014 Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation." 
  • Emotional. "Boston has a strong tradition of involving young people in city government, says Shari Davis, an energetic 28-year-old who climbed the ranks of city government through a series of youth opportunities and summer jobs starting when she was 15 and has led Youth Lead the Change from its inception." Amazing yes?

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Sticky (18) myIDcare (OPM)

Yes, I am one of those lucky people to get the OPM hacked love letter. But they gave me a service called myIDcare. The other day, I got a note from them.

Early Warning Service
This alert indicates that your Social Security number and personal information have been used to apply for a new credit card, open a credit card account, open a bank account, or make possible unauthorized changes to your bank account.

My "love letter" was back in December. It has been busy. I don't remember all the details. I didn't know if this was a phishing note and sure didn't want to pull a Seagate, (by way of @Brian Krebs: an employee fooled by a phishing note sent all current and past employee W-2s).
So I moused over the link, it was opm.myidcare.com and a case number unique to me. OK, this might be real. Using a safe browser, (firefox/noscript), I logged in.
It turned out to be nothing, I had made a change to a bank account and that triggered the alert, but hey, way better to be safe than sorry.

So why is myIDcare sticky? Think about it. Don't you feel a bit helpless in the face of all this cybercrime? I have a friend, smart guy, successful businessman, great sailor, who keeps a substantial amount of his wealth in various safes and safety deposit boxes. I think that is nuts, but he just tells me, otherwise money is just a bunch of numbers. I am not ready to go that far, but working in cybersecurity I read story after story. I am glad there is a service like myIDcare!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Sticky (17) Hyatt Regency Waikiki Inroom Desk

We went to Waikiki last weekend for a memorial service and stayed at the Hyatt. I don't know about you, but I am so frustrated with hotels that do not provide enough outlets. This design provides enough and also accommodates adapters.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Sticky (16) Lava Lava Beach Club

To understand how sticky Lava Lava is, (and is going to be), I have to paint the word picture. This particular Lava Lava is on the East shore of the island of Kauai near the Kukui Heiau. It is attached to the Kapaa Sands resort, (not the fanciest resort on island to put it kindly), and next to it to the South The Wailua Bay View and to the North resort after resort after resort, 12 in all within a mile.

The upscale Lava Lava replaces the dilapidated David and Harry's, a really run down place that only existed because they offered breakfast. Lava Lava has just opened, in fact Kathy and Keely were there for the soft opening. That is where Kathy learned about their signature appetizer, "Sizzlin Shrimp", a very dramatic dish severed in a small cast iron skillet with a cloud of steam rising as it is brought to the table.

They clearly understand Social Media as you can see.

They have the look and feel of a beach club. In fact, we scored a table in the sand, just ten feet from where the old beachfront walking path was. It has been removed and there is just well kept sand, you know, a beach.
Even the entrance to the bathrooms keeps with the beach club theme.

You can rub your feet in the sand with a beach front table

We went there last night. There are still some opening pains. We ordered a bottle of Ca'Momi Zinfandel and our server, Ashley, did not know to take the foil off the bottle before removing the cork. She came back and said the cork broke and before I could say, "I'll take care of it", she was gone, but that proved to be our lucky break. A manager, came back with the bottle and explained the wine was still fine. We agreed and he opened it, introduced himself, gave us his card and said if you ever need a table, call my cell phone. This is no small thing! Within a month or two getting a beachfront table at Lava Lava Beach Club on a Friday night is going to be nearly impossible; this place is going to sell out.

Now why is it sticky, why am I so certain it is going to sell out? Well, remember the 12 resorts to the North? One of the most common statements in online dating sites is, "long romantic walks along the beach". 90% of what people post on dating sites may be hogwash, but I spend winters in Hawaii and I know that is true. So people, lots of people, are going to walking past Lava Lava Beach Club. They are going to see the tables and cushy chairs in the sand along the beach, the platters of "Sizzlin Shrimp", steaming noisily to heaven, hear the live music and think, "Let's try that out tomorrow night". They they are going post on social media because eating there is bragging rights stuff. Mark my words, within a year, I bet this is going to be the most popular restaurant on the island as measured by yelps, likes and such.

TIP: Walk or take a taxi, the parking lot is already full and they are just warming up, but hey, it is worth it :)

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Sticky (15) Come for the hacking, stay for the BBQ

59 views, 1 like as of 3/4/16

Some ideas "stick" others don't. This one, "Come for the hacking, stay for the BBQ", caught me by surprise. Someone posted it on LinkedIn and I linked to it with an update asking what is the best place for BBQ. There were a surprising number of comments. Rudy's, (a chain), seems to be the front runner. County Line, FranklinLa Barbeque, (Warning, this web site wants to run a large number of scripts and trackers on your browser), and Kerlin were honorable mentions.

Here is the text of the original promo: Learn RECON > SCANNING > EXPLOITATION > PIVOTING > OWNING in SANS Pen Test training courses taught by Ed Skoudis, Stephen Sims, Adrien de Beaupre, Kevin Fiscus, and Paul Henry.

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This training event is open to all information security professionals who are looking to broaden and/or sharpen their skills in ethical hacking, penetration testing, and red teaming. If you want to learn how things are hacked so you can better defend your organization, then this is the training event for you.


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* Save $400 by registering for a 5-6 day training course before Feb 24th

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Sticky (14) Sand art is sticky

60 views, 1 like, 1 comment as of 3/4/16

Last Saturday I was riding my Trike on the path by the ocean and I saw this. The circles appear to be perfect and the furrows are all shaped the same and are the same size. How they did it is beyond me.
The reason I think this is "sticky"(Simple/Unexpected/Concrete/Credible/Emotional)" 

  • Simple: all that was involved was sand, some short of shaping tool, a string in a central point to guide the circle.
  • Unexpected. I had no idea I was going to see it when I went back it was gone. That is the nature of sand art.
  • Concrete: "Concrete details allow us to imagine a scene and, crucially, imagine ourselves in it." [Lifehack.org]
  • Credible. This is what they call internal credibility, "Internal credibility is the ability of our ideas themselves to convince through an appeal to our audience’s sense of how the world works and how they see it." [Lifehack.org]
  • Emotional. Sand art makes you smile. Take a minute and put the search string "sand art" into Google and click on images. Amazing yes?
May 7, I was biking on the path and in the same spot:

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Sticky (13) Thumbtack is sticky

58 views, 1 like as of 3/4/16

Some ideas "stick"; others don't. I try stay on the lookout for art, phrases, events and technologies that are sticky. I seem to always have a project that I need someone or something to help with. Living in two places, (snowbirds), makes it even more complex. Thumbtack is a service to match needs to providers. I have a paid subscription the Angie's list, but this is working better for me.
The reason I think this is "sticky"(Simple/Unexpected/Concrete/Credible/Emotional)" 

  • Simple: easy to understand and use interface.
  • Unexpected. Life and Thumbtack is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get.
  • Concrete and Credible. You review your provider, they review you.
  • Emotional. Taking the pain out of finding a provider. Here are two examples. On Kauai, we want to host a couple's dance for Valentines. I do not know any DJs, (I did have one business card, called, never heard back). Thumbtack: answers within two hours. In Washington I need to fence my back yard so our dog can run free. Still pondering, this may be more of an Angie's list request.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Sticky (12 ). Kauai Beach House photo op

102 views 7 likes as of 3/4/16

Some ideas "stick"; others don't. I try stay on the lookout for art, phrases, events that are sticky. Most of my peers on LinkedIn would not want to stay at the Kauai Beach House, it is essentially a youth hostel, but it is right on the water. That said, for the 16 years Kathy and I have spent winters on Kauai, some of the most interesting people we have met on and around the multi-use path, Ke Ala Hele Makalae, along the ocean were staying there while visiting.

The reason I think this is "sticky"(Simple/Unexpected/Concrete/Credible/Emotional), is low cost to build, a sheet of plywood, some framing lumber, and some cheerful colored paint. People love to get their picture taken and they will share those pictures on Facebook, Instagram etc. And right on that picture are the words Kauai Beach House. Also, note the orientation, it is the same view as the deck off the Beach House.