The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

The Beatles 1967 album Sgt Pepper is often cited as the most influential and important album of all time. In what I consider to be a reactionary backlash to this praise Sgt Pepper is also often cited as one of the most over rated albums of all time.

This year this monumental album turns 40 years old. So where does it stand now? In 2003 Rolling Stone magazine ranked it as the 1 album of all time. It doesn?t fair quite as well on the popular music rating website Rate Your Music where it ranks 27 of all time which is behind four other Beatles classic albums Revolver (#1), Abbey Road (#2), The White Album (#10), and Rubber Soul (#21).

Personally while it?s not my favorite Beatles album (that honor has to go to The White Album) I do believe it is the most important and most influential album of all time and I do rank it above Revolver, Abbey Road, and Rubber Soul.

I?ve heard some people say it doesn?t hold up well with time but I disagree entirely. I think this album is absolutely timeless. I don?t think the songs sound like they are from the 1960s necessarily. They sound like they are from the future and the past simultaneously.

I believe all 13 songs from this album to be absolutely essential to the album and this is a very rare thing. What set this album apart from most of the albums that came before it is that it truly plays like an album. While definitely somewhat in debt to The Beach Boys classic Pet Sounds, Sgt Pepper takes things a big leap forward. In many ways I still feel that Sgt Pepper is the perfect cohesive album. It doesn?t take the ?concept? and wear it thin but it also holds together as one work very well despite, and maybe because, the fact that the songs are of such varying styles.

Song by Song Breakdown:

1 Sgt Pepper

The album starts off with the crowd noise which goes into the first song which shares the same name as the album: ?Sgt Pepper?s Lonely Hearts Club Band.? This is a great song and also sets up the rest of the album as part of this loose concept of watching a band perform. This is all made to come together even more by the later inclusion of the Reprise of this song! Paul McCartney came up with the idea of the Beatles pretending to be this different band. The idea being that they could really branch out into all sorts of different styles with no limitations. They could also break free of their image. There?s quite a few layers to the idea but it?s also a very simple idea that isn?t overbearing unlike some later prog rock attempts at ?concept albums.?

2 With A Little Help From My Friends

This track was written by lead songwriters and singers Paul McCartney and John Lennon specifically for the drummer Ringo Starr to sing. This adds another layer to the lyric ?I get by with a little help from my friends.? This song was a hit for Joe Cocker (his cover version was used on television program The Wonder Years.) It also contains a reference to marijuana with the line ?I get high with a little help from my friends.?

3 Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

This song is inspired by LSD in my opinion although Lennon denied this and said it was merely inspired by his son?s painting. Many years later McCartney admitted the influence of LSD on this track. This song is often cited as a prime example of 1960s psychedelic music. Besides the other worldly fantastical lyrics the song has a dreamy quality to both the music and the vocals. This song uses a flange effect on the drums and the bass is very prominent in the mix.

4 Getting Better

There?s so many great things about this track I have a hard time deciding what to talk about first. One thing that really does stand out for me though is use of sitar in this track. It?s subtle and yet very effective. A great example of the sort of unique tracks on this album that don?t really have any direct comparison to anything else in rock music, even to this day. I think the sharp down stroke style used on the guitars in this track has been extremely influential in rock to this day.

5 Fixing A Hole

This is another amazingly unique song that has so many layers and so much to discover. I?m still hearing new things in it now and I must have listened to it over 1000 times. The harmony vocals are absolutely incredible (listen to the right side)

6 She?s Leaving Home

This song features McCartney and Lennon on vocals but no Beatles play in the instrumentation. The song was scored for classical musicians. The twists and turns in this album are startling but they somehow all make sense. So much variety. All beautifully and masterly done.

7 Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite

Lennon got all of the lyrics off of an old circus poster he had. A great example of the avante garde attitude of the Beatles at the time. I like to picture this as the wild place she goes after she leaves home. I don?t hear 60s when I listen to this track. I hear another time, another place. A warped distorted but still very relevant version of our own reality. This song is absolute psychedelic weirdness. It?s overflowing with ideas and imagination. The instrumental breakdown after ?Henry the Horse Dances the Waltz? and at the end of the track includes bits of real circus sounds which were all cut up and taped back together randomly. This type of thing you could do quite easily today with Pro Tools but in 1967 it was a very inventive and creative technique. The way it was done also lends to it a timeless quality that isn?t connected to any particular recording technique or trick. This sort of experimentation has been very influential on countless artists.

8 Within You Without You

This is probably the least popular song on the album amongst your average rock fan because unfortunately too many people have a hard time opening their minds towards other types of music. This song, just like ?She?s Leaving Home?, features no Beatles on the instrumentation. The music is all recorded by Indian musicians under the direction of George Harrison. Harrison sings and wrote the music. This song to me is absolute essential to the album. ?Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite? should have opened your mind a little bit but this one should really blow your mind right out of your head. You are now in a completely different world. This is an album that deftly takes you all over the world with an incredible journey through the middle of your mind. I really don?t think I?m overstating this or exaggerating. I simply feel if you don?t hear this, then you haven?t really listened to this album and fully experienced it. I think in some ways this is the most psychedelic song on the album. It?s a true journey and it?s very beautiful. I believe the laughing at the end of the album symbolizes your average person who laughs at things that are different or thoughtful.

9 When I?m 64

As of this writing Paul McCartney is actually 64. As far as out as the last track takes you, this one places you right back somewhere else entirely. Such a strange trip, isn?t it? This is another song of many on this album that is not guitar based. The Beatles really were experimenting with instrumentation a lot on this album. This instrumental experimentation has been extremely influential on many bands

10 Lovely Rita

This is just an excellent fun song. The lyrics are fantastic. There are so many just out of this world sounds going on, really listen to everything going on in the mix. And for God?s sake, listen to the reverb on those backing vocals. Awesome. I also just absolutely love the way this song ends with all of the weird vocalizations with the delay. They?re just having a great time making this track that enjoyment directly leads right into my ears.

11 Good Morning Good Morning

This is probably my least favorite track on the album if I have to choose one. That being said it?s still a great song. I?m a big fan of the time changes and of Paul McCartney?s searing Hendrix like guitar solo.

12 Sgt Pepper (Reprise)

The sound of a rooster leads directly into a guitar squeal. One of the coolest segues ever. This version of Sgt Pepper is like the first except it rocks a lot harder. This is a great way to tie together the album and lead into the grand finale.

13 A Day In The Life

This may be the greatest song ever written. In my opinion it is just that. Certainly a fantastic way to end an album. The orchestral buildups are genius and perfectly capture the feelings that could never be put into words. The song itself is can sometimes sound deceptively simple but there?s so much nuance. So much you can hear even on the 1000th listen.

The Top 10 Rock Albums Of All Time According To Rateyourmusic.com

I?m a big fan of the site RateYourMusic.com (I?m also a huge fan of the site http://www.MusicByDay.com by the way!) and one thing I really like to look at is the overall charts to see which albums have been the top rated of all time. If you don?t know what RateYourMusic.com is, it?s a site where music lovers (like myself) rate all of the albums they?ve listened to. Some raters also write their own reviews which can be very interesting to read.

This article is a review of the top 10 rock albums listed (removing the jazz albums that are listed in the top 10 because while I do enjoy jazz I don?t feel I know enough about it to really review it.)

1 The Beatles ? Revolver

As a huge Beatles fan I?m definitely glad they have the 1 spot although personally I feel that Revolver has become a bit overrated in the backlash to Sgt Pepper?s supposed overrated-ness! As great as Revolver is (and it is really great) I don?t feel it should rank above either Sgt Pepper or The White Album. That being said the songs on Revolver are truly timeless and beautiful. The album was also extremely groundbreaking and has been almost incalculable in it?s influence.

2 The Beatles ? Abbey Road

I?d personally probably rank Abbey Road as the fourth best Beatles album so I think it?s slightly overrated as well here. It?s still a great album but for my tastes it?s not quite ?far out? enough in comparison to some of the other great Beatles albums. The second side is quite glorious though.

3 Bob Dylan ? Highway 61 Revisited

I?m not sure you could go wrong with about 5 different Dylan albums here. ?Ballad of a Thin Man? is my personal favorite track on this album.

4 Bob Dylan ? Blood on the Tracks

I don?t quite enjoy this Dylan period as much as his 60s stuff. I think I may even prefer his recent trilogy (at least Time Out of Mind & Modern Times) over Blood on the Tracks, not sure why. This is still a great album, don?t get me wrong.

5 The Velvet Underground ? The Velvet Underground & Nico

I?m a fan of The Velvet Underground yet I do think this album is probably a little overrated here.

6 Radiohead ? OK Computer
This album is now nearly 10 years old and it is the most recent album on the list. I certainly believe it belongs on the list, although I think Kid A should be ranked just as high, if not higher!

7 The Beatles ? The Beatles (The White Album)

This is my 1! I would rank this as the greatest album of all time because of it?s expansiveness and how many times I can replay it without ever getting tired of it. It?s not as cohesive as most (any?) of the albums on the top 10 and it has a few tracks that aren?t that great by Beatles standards yet somehow it all just works perfectly together for me.

8 Bob Dylan ? Blonde on Blonde

I?d rank this one over Blood on the Tracks for sure. Not sure vs. Highway 61 Revisited.

9 Bob Dylan ? Bringing it all Back Home

This is the fourth Dylan album on the top 10 to go along with the 3 Beatles albums. It?s no surprise really. There?s really no competition when it comes to who are the two most important acts in rock music history. It?s Dylan and the Beatles.

10 Pink Floyd ? The Dark Side of the Moon

I actually feel this album should probably rank even higher. It?s a timeless psychedelic classic. This album is just about as close to perfection as you can find.

Free PSP Movie Downloads – An FAQ

Sony?s Portable Playstation Player, or PSP, system delivers an amazing array of media to its users, with games, movies, and music available. It is now possible to download free PSP movies directly to your player after paying just a one-time fee. Here is an FAQ.

FAQ 1: Technically speaking, how do PSP movie downloads work?
A: To play a movie on your player, you must first download the movie directly to your computer from a Web site the delivers PSP content and save it on your hard drive. Note that given the large file size of movies and the varying Internet connection speeds from computer to computer, downloading a full, feature length, premium quality movie file can take an hour or more. Once you have downloaded the file, you just need to transfer it to your device and play the movie.

FAQ 2: What are my options for downloading movies to my PSP device?
A: There are two main options for downloading movies. You can either purchase them directly from any of a number of official Sony partner sites, which means you pay as you go: the more you download, the more you pay. Some people are most comfortable using a site run by an official Sony partner since it is owned by the same people that built the PSP devices. A second option is to get unlimited free movie downloads from any of a number of online providers. In this case, you pay a one-time, initial setup fee and then you get unlimited movies. The advantage of this second option is that you also get to download PSP games and music, all for the price of the same, one-time setup fee.

FAQ 3: How is the movie watching experience?
A: Given the small size of the screen, watching movies on a PSP device is not the same thing as watching it on a small television. While the picture quality itself is crystal clear, the limited size obviously does not deliver the same type of movie-going experience one gets when watching a movie on a larger screen.

FAQ 4: Can I watch a feature-length film on my PSP?
A: Yes, it is possible to watch a full, feature-length film on a PSP device. However, it is not really advisable. However, there are many video shorts and clips that are ideal for viewing on a PSP unit, so leveraging the video capability of these devices should not be overlooked. And, given that PSP devices do so much more than just play videos (like games and music), the video feature should be seen as a bonus rather than as a primary attraction of the PSP device.

FAQ 5: Will the battery on the PSP device last if I watch an entire movie?
A: Yes! The battery in a PSP unit is designed to last 4 to 5 hours, which is plenty of time to watch even long films or double features.

If I were to grade the overall user experience when watching movies on a PSP, I would have to give it an A+ for convenience, an A for screen quality, a C for quality of the movie-watching experience (given the small screen size), and an A for technical ease of use. Downloading free movies from pay-just-once-type Web sites is an excellent option, especially if you do plan to also download their available music and games as well.

Seven Reason I’m Addicted To Last.fm

I believe that Last.FM is the music site we’ve all been waiting for. It’s the site that all of the previous music related sites have been building up to. There are sites like garageband.com and there was the old mp3.com that were/are decent places for new artists to be heard but let’s be honest, the average music listener doesn’t want to hear a barrage of new stuff they’ve never heard before by unsigned artists. That’s why I think Last.FM is a much better avenue for new artists. It plays their music alongside better known established artists so you get to really hear it in context. It’s also much better for music listeners in helping them to discover great new music. Now that I’ve set things up a bit let me get along to the 7 reasons why I’m addicted to Last.FM

1 My Personal Listening Stats

I’ve always been a bit of a stat geek and I’ve also been a long time music geek and last.fm combines these passions! I can keep track of all the music I listen to, what music I’ve listened to the most and what music I’ve listened to the least. Sometimes I’ll look at my charts and it’ll give me a cool idea of something to listen to I haven’t listened to in awhile. It’s also cool that you can easily put your “top 10 list” on other sites like MySpace.

2 The Overall Last.FM Charts

Although I feel bad for caring about stuff like this. I can’t help it. I’m curious to see what the most popular music (atleast among internet music geeks) is. I’m also pleased that the music charts here are usually substantially less disgusting than the Billboard charts. For example this is this weeks top 10:

1. The Beatles – Yes. Now this is a beautiful thing, to think of all the people still getting enjoyment from the Beatles music. Their music is truly art and it truly lasts the test of time. It makes me feel all warm inside to see this.

2. The Red Hot Chili Peppers – I’m personally not much of a fan, but things could be much worse (check the Billboard charts.)

3. Radiohead – Yes, I definitly approve.

4. Coldplay
5. Muse
6. The Killers
7. Death Cab For Cutie
8. Metallica
9. Nirvana

10. Pink Floyd – Again like the Beatles it’s nice to see this sort of timeless music still being listened to today by new listeners.

3 The Top Tracks By Artist Charts

It’s always interesting (and usually a bit dissapointing) to see what the top tracks for any particular artist are. Looking at a “one hit wonder” is always quite telling as you’ll see 95% of their listeners all for one song.

4 Using the Last.FM Radio Player to listen to “Similar Artists Radio”

Using the Last.FM Radio Player you can listen to “similar artists” of any band or artist you like. This can be an absolutely awesome way to find new music you haven’t heard before. In fact I’m doing it right now and I’m listening to a band I have heard a bit about before but hadn’t heard previously called Architecture In Helsinki. The song is called “Fumble” and I am really enjoying it. Last.FM has a feature where you can press a heart icon which means you love that track. This is a great way of keeping track of new music that you like and you heard for the first time.

5 Using the Last.FM Radio Player to listen to “Artist Fan Radio”

This is similar to the above reason except with this setting you get a bit more varied results. This is really great for really expanding your horizons but still upping the chances that you’re actually going to like what you hear. I can’t even imagine why anyone would listen to the real radio when Last.FM is around. The real radio is predicable and boring and almost always plays the same old songs over and over again. Last.FM is a way to hear great music that you may not have heard before but that also fits in well with your tastes (and if you don’t like the song you can always just skip to the next one!)

6 Using the Last.FM Radio Player to listen to “Tagged Radio”/Tag Charts

Using this you get to hear all the tracks/albums/artists that were “tagged” a certain term by other Last.FM listeners. This is truly awesome! It’s really cool to go through and tag different artists and songs with different terms. I’m a huge lover of psychedelic music so I spend some time tagging psychedelic music as such. It’s great because I can listen the Last.FM Radio Player for music tagged as “psychedelic” and I get to hear a bunch of cool psychedelic music I haven’t heard before (usually mixed in with some that I have heard before which makes it less overwhelming!) Also really cool are the tagged charts. For example the top 5 artists tagged for “Psychedelic” are 1 Pink Floyd, 2 The Doors, 3 The Beatles, 4 Jimi Hendrix, and 5 The Velvet Underground.

7 Discovering new bands/artists!

There’s a great number of bands/solo artists I’ve discovered via Last.FM that I don’t think I would have ever heard otherwise. The best example of this is the indie psychedelic rock band Scumbo.

These are just 7 of the many reasons why I’m addicted to Last.FM and why I highly recommend it to any music lovers out there who haven’t discovered it yet. It’s the best music site on the internet and a great place to find new music that you’ll really be interested in.

8 Reasons Why You Should Email Me One Dollar

Paypal has made it possible to quickly and easily send money over the Internet. This allows us to pay for all kinds of purchases with a lot less hassle. It also will allow you, everyone who reads this article, to send me, Timothy Ward, $1.00.

Being the cynics that you are, I know you’re probably asking: “Why should I send you $1.00? I barely even know you. If I hadn’t somehow stumbled onto this article I wouldn’t even have known that you exist. I still don’t know how I came across this ridiculous article, I was trying to find my brother-in-law’s blog.”

Since I know that humanoids are by nature untrusting, and I know that you can spare the dollar, I will now generously provide 8 reasons why you should immediately paypal me a buck. I don’t think I’ll need more than 5 reasons but I like to give people their money’s worth. Plus I have a word count to think about. So without further ado:

(1) Sending me $1.00 will keep you from spending it on something pointless like the mortgage payment. You’ve been faithfully paying on that mortgage for years-it’s time you had a break. And it’ll only cost you a single greenback.

(2) Donating to a worthy cause can give you peace of mind which, in turn, will help you to sleep better at night. Giving me a dollar may not be as worthy a cause as, say, giving to the Red Cross, but I promise I will sleep better tonight and many nights thereafter if you send me that dollar.

(3) If I were sitting in front of a gas station smelling of cheap wine and wearing the same clothes I had on when I lost my job 8 months ago, you wouldn’t even consider giving me a dollar. You would probably tell me to: “Get a Job, ya bum”, and then rapidly walk away, clutching your wallet tightly. I, however, am not sitting in front of a gas station, I’m sitting in front of my television. And I changed clothes 2 days ago.

(4) I need to buy some Bling Bling! You’re just not in the game if you don’t have diamonds in your ears and ice on your neck and wrists. Plus I know a guy who’ll give me a great deal on some gold teeth. But I need more cheese.

(5) Many great artist in history have depended on donations to finance their masterpieces. Your sending me $1.00 will allow me to do the necessary research for a masterpiece of an article that I’m working on called: ‘Going Out on Saturday Night and Getting Sloppy Drunk Using Other People’s Money’. I’ll be sure to acknowledge you at the end.

(6) Fellas, would you rather send me a dollar or have your wife spent it on yet another pair of black heels? Ladies, would you rather your husbands spend it on another one of those magazines that he keeps in that box in his workshop? I thought not.

(7) Time is money. You’re already wasting money by taking time to read this article. Another George Washington won’t kill you.

(8) The pens and paper I use to write these articles don’t pay for themselves. My high speed internect connection that I use to upload these articles isn’t free. I don’t think $1.00 is too much to ask after the scores of articles I have written and shared with all of cyberspace. After all, if it wasn’t for my articles you wouldn’t appreciate the good articles written by others.

So there you have it folks. 8 reasons to send me $1.00 via Paypal. As I suspected most of you were sold after Reason 5. I appreciate you waiting patiently until I finished with the remaining Reasons before rushing over to Paypal.com. Now that I have finished listing my reasons feel free to login and send your $1.00 to wailinward@yahoo.com. And please hurry, the guy with the gold teeth isn’t going to have those great deals forever…

Top Gambling Rules

Here are some of the top gambling rules you should follow while gambling. In gambling a long term strategy is best. You can win over the long haul if you gamble wisely and stick to your strategy. People start to get in trouble in gambling when they play with money they do not have and when they begin to chase the money they have lost.

Rule 1- A win is a win no matter the amount. Whatever you win for the day consider it a win. Whether it’s 50 dollars or 50,000 dollars be thankful for the win. Look on the bright side at least you did not lose any money.

Rule 2- Only gamble with an amount you feel comfortable with. Never let anyone pressure you into gambling with more than you are comfortable with. When you start gambling outside of your comfort zone that is when things begin to get dangerous. Which leads us to our next rule.

Rule 3- Only gamble with money you can afford to lose. Never put your mortgage or car payments on the line when gambling. If you can’t afford to gamble with it then you should not be gambling, period.

Rule 4- Know when to quit. You should know when to quit by setting limits for yourself. For instance you could say if I lose 100 dollars I will quit for the day and if I win 500 dollars I will quit for the day. Setting your gambling limits will help you avoid chasing your bets and will help you avoid losing your winnings.

Rule 5- Study your game. If you are really in it to win you should study the odds of each game you are playing. Studying your game of choice helps you avoid placing bad bets.

These are just a few of the top gambling rules to follow.

The 5 W’s of World Class Customer Service Training

The preamble to the United States Constitution begins, ?we, the people.? I feel strongly that we, the people, are what make the difference in life, both personally and professionally.

The interaction anyone has at any level with your employees, including you, gives a customer– whether current, potential, internal or external–an opportunity to make a judgment about you, your company, all companies like yours. I?m not just talking about call centers here. All technical support or help desk personnel are included as well. As a matter of fact, anyone who is in the customer service business period.

With continued focus on customer satisfaction, customer retention, and lifetime value of the customer, it is no surprise that contact center operations continue to increase in importance as the primary hub of a customer?s experience. For the customer, the person on the other end of the phone is the company. The contact center is still the most common way that customers get in touch with businesses. In fact, Gartner reports 92% of all contact is through the center. And it?s been reported that 70% to 90% of what happens with customers is driven by human nature, having nothing to do with technology. State of the art technology is a necessity today, but it is meant to enable human endeavors, not to disable them.

I often talk about taking customer service and ?kicking it up a notch.? In the food industry, the word ?lagniappe? is often used. Its definition is ?a small present given to a customer with a purchase. For example, when you go to the bakery and buy a dozen donuts or bagels, you oftentimes get a ?free? one or a baker?s dozen. That?s what customer service should be about–giving the customer more than they expected! Let?s bring lagniappe into the contact center industry.

If we?re going to speak about world class customer service, let?s have a working definition it so we?re all on the same page. Customer service is those activities provided by a company?s employees that enhance the ability of a customer to realize the full potential value of a product or service before and after the sale is made, thereby leading to satisfaction and repurchase.

Let?s look at the first W which is Why?

The state of customer service today is not good, be it over the phone or self service. Because 92% of people feel their call experience is important in shaping the image of a company, this reinforces the importance of centers in branding the image of their companies.

In a Mobius Management Systems Survey, here?s what happened because of poor customer service:

60% cancelled accounts with banks
36% changed insurance providers
40% changed telephone companies
35% changed credit card providers
375 changed Internet service providers

Are you one of these statistics? I certainly am.

In a study done by Purdue University and BenchmarkPortal.com, in answer to (1) how did agents satisfy your needs and handle the call, and (2) based on any negative experience, would you stop using this company in the future? the findings reveal a strong correlation between the participant?s age and the tendency to stop using the company after a bad experience.

What does this mean? Younger participants were less tolerant and more likely to move to the competition. People over 65 were found to be more demanding than those in middle age.

What can you do? Give younger callers a ?wow? experience–maintain their loyalty. People over 36 probably have more of an ?emotional bank account? with the company they are dealing with?maybe had some good experience and therefore are more willing to ?forgive.?

In a recent study (CRM Magazine/PeopleSoft Web Seminar on How Usability Helps to Drive a Profitable Contact Center), the number of applications required for agents to access customer inquiries were:

3.7% just 1
81.5% 2 ? 5
7.4% 5 ? 10
7.4% more than 10

As you can see, the majority of applications are 2 – 5. The goal, of course, is to link every point of contact to one central location for a customer-centric, synchronized approach satisfying customer experiences with every interaction.

Strategies for success for world class service should include:

Respond promptly
Handle requests through the customers? choice of medium
Be brief and clear
Reduce back and forth communications (especially in writing, i.e., email, kick it up to a phone call if it goes beyond two)
Personalized service
Delight the customer
What do we mean by delighting the customer?

Inform and educate them
Establish your expertise and professionalism
Offer options
Diffuse upset, anger, when and if necessary
Escalate, if required
Take Ownership of the call

Remember we?re still on the first W ? the Why. Today?s pressures on agents are different than in the past. They are asked to handle more customer, more volume, more complex and/or complicated calls. After all if we could handle our issues with self service, we probably would not call. But if we tried self service and it didn?t work, now we?re upset and it?s an escalated call from the get go.

They?re asked to provide more information, do it faster and be available and accessible. But they are to lower costs, generate revenue, incorporate new technologies, ensure closure and commitment, deliver ?great? service and when? Yesterday, of course.

As a matter of fact the CDC (Center for Disease Control) has said that the causes of death for people under 65 are:

21% – environment ? war, accidents, crimes
9% – health care system ? doctors, hospitals, medications
17% – human biology ? not because of lifestyle
53% – because of the way people choose to live their lives!!!

This is the good news and the bad news. It?s bad news because it?s more than half. However, the good news is that this is something we can do something about, it?s about choice.

The 2 W is Who should be trained?

We suggest front line agents/representatives, supervisors, team lads, managers, assistant managers, internal customers and other departments ? anyone who is a touch point so that they can learn to speak the same language, and more importantly, not be in an adversarial position, but rather, together they are serving the external customer or end user.

The 3 W is Where should the training take place? Offsite vs onsite, and there are advantages and disadvantages for both.

Certainly it is most cost effective to have training on site. However, distractions are rampant as is the participant?s availability to a person or problem.

Offsite is more costly. However, there are no distractions and the participants are unavailable to other departments, their managers, or any issues. I believe there is psychic value in taking people away from their work stations and off site to acknowledge the touch jobs they have.

The 4 W is What should be included in any training? We believe the following modules provide a robust, powerful, and succinct training curriculum:
 Quality Customer Service  Rapport Building
 Customer Expectations
 Perception Shifting  Conflict Resolution
 Language Skills
 Anger Management  E-Mail Protocol
 Stress Reduction  Empathetic Responsiveness
 Change Management
 Communication/Listening Skills  Interaction/Role Play
 Service with a Smile

Further suggested is university certification to up the ante. The more professionally you treat your employees, the more professionally they will treat your customers.

The 5 W is When. We say for new hires, monthly, ongoingly, consistently, whenever change occurs, when stressors increase, and as needed.

We further suggest that each employee get a minimum of 24 hours per year of ongoing training, spread out over time for the most absorption. We divide our trainings into two four hour sessions per day and deliver 6 days per employee. Therefore, 30 people can participate in the training per day. If there has been no ongoing training, we do four days once a month for four months and then a session three months later, and then another three months later. In this manner, training is customized, in real time, and can address whatever challenges are presented when they occur.

The Blonde Joke’s On Us: The Dumbest Woman On Earth Was Not A Blonde

I’ve lived my entire adult life with “dumb blonde” jokes. Whoever started them, probably spawned by pornographers allured by Marylyn Monroe types (probably with dyed hair), should be locked up in a room with a hundred blonde professional women on a month-long sabbatical from bad bosses. Think he’d make it out alive? I think he (or she) definitely be a changed creature after that month. He’d gain a new understanding of blondes, that’s for sure.

If you really want to know the truth of it, the dumbest woman to ever walk the face of earth had dark hair (likely, though we may never know for sure.) She was, without a doubt, the dumbest woman to ever live. Her name? Eve. Very unlikely blonde, seeing as how her issue to this very day is mostly brunette or have black or dark hair. So get the blonde thing out of your head for just a moment. You see, she and Adam were originally created equal (many women today have a big problem with that “man having dominion over women” thing), otherwise, as I see it, God would have taken a bone out of Adams foot to create Eve. He didn’t. (Now, wait, all you Bible believers- you have to read the rest of this before you’ll understand just when Eve lost her “equal” status.) The bone came from his side, his rib. To me, this signifies equality. Well, then what does this dark-haired woman do but sashay up to a serpent and strike up a conversation with him (precursor to flirting, I suppose?). Didn’t she think it unusual that a serpent could talk? Guess not.

That was Dumb act 1.

Now for dumb act 2:

After a little chit chat, (Gen. 3:1…”Really?” he asked the woman. “Did God really say you must not eat any of the fruit in the garden?” Gen. 3:2″Of course we may eat it,” the woman told him. 3:3 “It’s only the fruit from the tree at the center of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God says we must not eat it or even touch it, or we will die.”) she believes this creature (remember a serpent that can talk) when he calls God a liar, basically (3:4 “You won’t die!” the serpent hissed. 3:5 “God knows that your eyes will be opened when you eat it. You will become just like God, knowing everything, both good and evil.” 3:6 The woman was convinced.) Now, it doesn’t look like it took much convincing, does it? How dumb is that, after the head honcho of the place, the owner, the boss (the best boss ever, one who actually loves his workers) says don’t eat fruit from that tree, and a snake or serpent (that’s not supposed to be able to talk) can ‘talk you into it’?

Dumb act 3:

The dark-haired woman proceeds to eat the fruit (Adam, by the way, was right there with her- why didn’t he pipe up and say “uh, hon, I don’t think this is a good idea…I don’t trust that serpent (that can talk, remember?). He was most likely dark-haired as well, remember.

Dumb act 4:

She turns and offers it to her husband. All the while the serpent is watching. I never saw a serpent grin, but I’ll bet he did.

Dumb act 5:

They hid from God. Whose idea was that, I wonder?

Dumb act 6:

They look for someone to blame it on (3:12 “Yes,” Adam admitted, “but it was the woman you gave me who brought me the fruit, and I ate it.” 3:13 Then the LORD God asked the woman, “How could you do such a thing?” “The serpent tricked me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.”) Now I don’t know about you, but that conversation was a blatant manipulation, i.e. a lie, by the serpent, but not a trick. Eve believed a lie, just believed what the serpent said. (Remember this the next time a snake or lizard comes up to you and strikes up a conversation). Genesis Chapter 3:16 is where Eve, (a dark-haired woman? Again, we’ll never know for sure), sold out her equality, not only for herself, but for all women from then on (3:16 Then he said to the woman, “You will bear children with intense pain and suffering. And though your desire will be for your husband, he will be your master.”)

They were both dumb, at that time. God didn’t make them stupid, but they sure had an Adam and Eve moment. I don’t think you have to have any particular hair color to be dumb. You could even be bald. So dumb-blonde-joke-tellers, get over it already. If you don’t like who you are, at least quit putting others down to make yourself feel better.

Interesting, that when I used to work for a company which employed mostly people of another nationality (including the boss), they could make “dumb blonde” jokes all day, which is a reference to my racial heritage, but if I said just one slanderous joke referring to their race (which I wouldn’t have, even if it was legal), then that would be considered by the law to be a form of assault, among other things.)

Maybe blonde jokes should be outlawed. You think?

? 2005 Dianne James

Seven Reason I’m Addicted To Last.fm

I believe that Last.FM is the music site we’ve all been waiting for. It’s the site that all of the previous music related sites have been building up to. There are sites like garageband.com and there was the old mp3.com that were/are decent places for new artists to be heard but let’s be honest, the average music listener doesn’t want to hear a barrage of new stuff they’ve never heard before by unsigned artists. That’s why I think Last.FM is a much better avenue for new artists. It plays their music alongside better known established artists so you get to really hear it in context. It’s also much better for music listeners in helping them to discover great new music. Now that I’ve set things up a bit let me get along to the 7 reasons why I’m addicted to Last.FM

1 My Personal Listening Stats

I’ve always been a bit of a stat geek and I’ve also been a long time music geek and last.fm combines these passions! I can keep track of all the music I listen to, what music I’ve listened to the most and what music I’ve listened to the least. Sometimes I’ll look at my charts and it’ll give me a cool idea of something to listen to I haven’t listened to in awhile. It’s also cool that you can easily put your “top 10 list” on other sites like MySpace.

2 The Overall Last.FM Charts

Although I feel bad for caring about stuff like this. I can’t help it. I’m curious to see what the most popular music (atleast among internet music geeks) is. I’m also pleased that the music charts here are usually substantially less disgusting than the Billboard charts. For example this is this weeks top 10:

1. The Beatles – Yes. Now this is a beautiful thing, to think of all the people still getting enjoyment from the Beatles music. Their music is truly art and it truly lasts the test of time. It makes me feel all warm inside to see this.

2. The Red Hot Chili Peppers – I’m personally not much of a fan, but things could be much worse (check the Billboard charts.)

3. Radiohead – Yes, I definitly approve.

4. Coldplay
5. Muse
6. The Killers
7. Death Cab For Cutie
8. Metallica
9. Nirvana

10. Pink Floyd – Again like the Beatles it’s nice to see this sort of timeless music still being listened to today by new listeners.

3 The Top Tracks By Artist Charts

It’s always interesting (and usually a bit dissapointing) to see what the top tracks for any particular artist are. Looking at a “one hit wonder” is always quite telling as you’ll see 95% of their listeners all for one song.

4 Using the Last.FM Radio Player to listen to “Similar Artists Radio”

Using the Last.FM Radio Player you can listen to “similar artists” of any band or artist you like. This can be an absolutely awesome way to find new music you haven’t heard before. In fact I’m doing it right now and I’m listening to a band I have heard a bit about before but hadn’t heard previously called Architecture In Helsinki. The song is called “Fumble” and I am really enjoying it. Last.FM has a feature where you can press a heart icon which means you love that track. This is a great way of keeping track of new music that you like and you heard for the first time.

5 Using the Last.FM Radio Player to listen to “Artist Fan Radio”

This is similar to the above reason except with this setting you get a bit more varied results. This is really great for really expanding your horizons but still upping the chances that you’re actually going to like what you hear. I can’t even imagine why anyone would listen to the real radio when Last.FM is around. The real radio is predicable and boring and almost always plays the same old songs over and over again. Last.FM is a way to hear great music that you may not have heard before but that also fits in well with your tastes (and if you don’t like the song you can always just skip to the next one!)

6 Using the Last.FM Radio Player to listen to “Tagged Radio”/Tag Charts

Using this you get to hear all the tracks/albums/artists that were “tagged” a certain term by other Last.FM listeners. This is truly awesome! It’s really cool to go through and tag different artists and songs with different terms. I’m a huge lover of psychedelic music so I spend some time tagging psychedelic music as such. It’s great because I can listen the Last.FM Radio Player for music tagged as “psychedelic” and I get to hear a bunch of cool psychedelic music I haven’t heard before (usually mixed in with some that I have heard before which makes it less overwhelming!) Also really cool are the tagged charts. For example the top 5 artists tagged for “Psychedelic” are 1 Pink Floyd, 2 The Doors, 3 The Beatles, 4 Jimi Hendrix, and 5 The Velvet Underground.

7 Discovering new bands/artists!

There’s a great number of bands/solo artists I’ve discovered via Last.FM that I don’t think I would have ever heard otherwise. The best example of this is the indie psychedelic rock band Scumbo.

These are just 7 of the many reasons why I’m addicted to Last.FM and why I highly recommend it to any music lovers out there who haven’t discovered it yet. It’s the best music site on the internet and a great place to find new music that you’ll really be interested in.

6 Tips To Select Home Theatre Seating

With the help of latest technology, so many things have been made to come true which were not even dreamt earlier. In the similar manner, earlier we used to go to the theatres to watch movies, but now the time has come to bring theaters to your home and enjoy the real and original fun of theatres at home.

There are many factors that influence the designing of the home theatres. The most important one is its seating because the spurious and authentic fun of home theater can be felt only if there is full comfort and easiness.

Tips To Select Home Theatre Seating

It is really good to have a surround-sound home theatre system, but it will be of no use if there is no comfortable seating in order to enjoy and relax after having a hectic daily schedule. There are so many things to be kept in mind before going to select home theatre seating. For example, it should suit your decor, should be fully comfortable, etc.

There is a wide range of home theatre seating from the movie theatre seats to the home theatre couches with footrests. The numerous designs and varieties of home theatre seating are offered by different companies that generally make the customers perplexed. The following tips can assist you in choosing the perfect home theater seating.

Home Theatre Seating Tip 1
The first thing to be considered while choosing the home theater seating is the number of persons to be seated in the room possessing home theater as the arrangement of seating will be done accordingly.

Home Theatre Seating Tip 2
It is always recommended to have a spacious room for your home theatre. In as spacious room, the seating plan can be done properly avoiding congestion and preventing overcrowdedness.

Home Theatre Seating Tip 3
The most important feature of the seating is the comfortability and the easiness as one has to sit for approximately 2 hours to watch the full length movie. The seats should possess wide armrests to maintain the right balance and the sliding footrest should extend before as the backrest reclines. This will help in giving the support to the body.

There should be a proper stability and flexibility at the seat and back, and the seat should possess high density foam cushions in order to offer extreme comfort and back support. The seats should be capable of providing support from head to toe. Therefore, only those seats should be selected that are fully comfortable in each and every manner so that it should become relaxing and entertaining to watching film.

Home Theatre Seating Tip 4
You should always opt for that type of home theatre seating which suits your decor and should embellish your home theatre. There are different types of seating like upholstered home theater seating, the timber’s natural woodgrain brightened with an oil finish, etc. with a wide range of colors like pinks, browns, etc.

Home Theatre Seating Tip 5
The home theatre seating should consist of strong and durable couches and seats.

Home Theatre Seating Tip 6
The most important thing to be kept in mind is the budget. You should first set your budget as there is a wide range of prices. For example, a three-seater Rodeo Leather Lounge with built in wireless bass shaker, recliner, footrest, and wide armrest rolls that costs around $4700 is the best.

Therefore, the most important thing to be considered before planning to have a home theatre is its seating.