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DorobekInsider: ‘Enough about me… what do you think about me’

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One of my favorite quotes (undetermined who said it): “Enough about me. What do you think about me?”

In that vein, there is a interview with me in this week’s issue of PRWeek.

PRWeek’s Washington Bureau Chief Ted McKenna did a really good job.

Chris Dorobek recently left Federal Computer Week as editor-in-chief to anchor a DC-area afternoon drive-time radio program covering the government community in all its sometime innovative, and sometimes bureaucratic, glory. He spoke with PRWeek recently about his new venture and his fascination with that multi-tentacle beast, the federal government.

I’m not sure I’d describe the government as a “beast,” but…

Read the full interview here.

And, to get all the “me” stuff out of the way…

CJD's home fire reconstruction

CJD's home fire reconstructuion

Regular readers know that there was a fire in my DC row house earlier this year. But, now more than nine months later, we have reached agreement with the insurance company and… we’ve started reconstruction. ETA: Who knows. But… at least it feels good to be moving forward.

If you are so inclined, you can see the reconstruction photos here.

Written by cdorobek

October 1, 2008 at 10:23 PM

Posted in Circuit, Off-topic

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DorobekInsider: BlackBerry or spouse? Hmmmm

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Just a Friday pre-weekend item: So if you only could choose one — your BlackBerry/iPhone or your significant other, which would you choose?

Well, for one-third of the people in at least one survey, the answer was obvious: their smart phone!

The Economist’s Gullivar travel blog has this item:

A NEW survey conducted for Sheraton Hotels & Resorts finds that over a third of smart phone users would pick their BlackBerry over their significant other if they absolutely had to choose one to live without. Gulliver has covered PDA addiction before, noting that users show signs of addiction “similar to alcoholics“, but this survey result has to represent some sort of new low. The 35% number wasn’t the only depressing survey result, but if you’re a heavy CrackBerry user, you already know the rest:

The vast majority of people (84%) say they check their PDAs just before going to bed and as soon as they wake up, 85% say they sneak a peak at their PDA in the middle of the night, and 80% say they check their e mail before morning coffee. A whopping 87% of professionals bring their PDA into the bedroom.

(And yes — the photo is from BlackBerry events going on around DC right now. This one happened to be outside the Regan Building. The BlackBerry and its team of assistants were pointing people to BlackBerry’s government Web site, blackberrygov.com. The photo is taken with my iPhone… but I have both an iPhone and a BlackBerry.)

Written by cdorobek

September 26, 2008 at 9:12 AM

Posted in Off-topic

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DorobekInsider.com: CJD’s brush with greatness… e-book edition

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Amazon.com Kindle eBook

This past weekend, before starting the new gig on Federal News Radio, we traveled out to this very nice resort in Tuscon, AZ for a few days of R&R before jumping in to the new job.

As I was wallowing in the pool, I saw a gentleman reading a Kindle. The Kindle, for those of you who have not seen it, is Amazon.com’s e-book. As a gadget guy, of course, I was one of the first in line late last year when it was introduced… just before the holiday season, of course.

So, I saw this guy reading the Kindle. I asked him, ‘So, do you like your Kindle?’

‘Of course,’ he said. ‘Do you have one?’

‘Yes,’ I answered. ‘I love it.’ I then went on to give him my review of the Kindle. I do, after all, adore my Kindle. That being said, I do have some recommendations. (More on that in a moment.) I told this person my critiques and then told him that I understood that some of them might be in Kindle 2.0 because I had read that Amazon was preparing to come out with a next generation of Kindle — Kindle 2.0, if you will.

Minutes later, from the other side of the pool, I thought to myself… that person looks a lot like Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon.com. (Famous people like Bezos don’t have “Fortune” across their foreheads when you see them out in the ‘real’ world.) And, when I got back to my room, I Google’s Bezo’s wife, figuring that there may be many people who may look like Bezos, but the chance of seeing a man who looks like Bezos with a woman who looks like his wife is right there between slim and none.

And, as you may be able to predict by now, in fact, I did tell Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos my thoughts about the Amazon.com Kindle.

So… back to my own review of the Kindle. (I have pulled other reviews about the Kindle together here.) It is unclear about how successful the Kindle has been, there is no doubt that it is a significant step in how we will view ‘paper’ in the future.

As I said, I am a gadget guy. Yes, I have an iPhone, which I adore, despite the short battery life… and I will get the latest iPod when it comes out. What can I say — I love to be on the bleeding edge. And so when Amazon.com introduced the Kindle e-book late last year, as a regular and long-time Amazon.com user, I was in line.

Over the nine months that I have had my Kindle, I have a number of friends who immediately say, ‘Argh! It’s not a book! This official marks the end of civilization as we know it!’ (OK — they may not use that exact language, but… it’s not far from it.)

That is generally true — until they see it. People largely expect it to be like reading a computer screen. It is nowhere close. It is simply a pleasure to read. (Don’t you wish you could increase the point size of some books? Well, you can with a Kindle.)

I have to say that I have come to really adore my Kindle.

As a regular traveler and a regular reader, I can carry scores of books — and get my beloved newspapers — on my Kindle. Currently, I have some 45 books on theeBook. Each day, I also get the NYT, WSJ, WP and Slate.com — all delivered electronically.

There are some frustrations. As I told Jeff — yes, we’re THAT close now — I think the on-off switch, which is located on the back of the device, is poorly placed. The holder for the Kindle is also clumsy. And the Kindle isn’t as elegant as it should be. (We’ve all gotten used to Apple’s designs.) And I have grown frustrated with publications, such as the WP, that only provide headlines, requiring that you click through to stories to get more information. (TheNYT offers a paragraph that provides you with more information about the story.)

I also have friends who complain that there just aren’t enough books that are Kindle ready. (To be honest, I just have not found this to be a problem yet.)

So the Kindle isn’t perfect, but… it is simply remarkable. As somebody who loves to read and loves newspapers and magazine, I can carry loads of them with me all in a trim package. I no longer have to worry about where I’ll be able to find my morning papers. I know — I’ll get them delivered right on my Kindle. And it is imminently easy to read a Kindle “page.” The device uses something called electronic “ink,” which is as easy to read as a book.

You can also load your own documents on to your Kindle either by e-mailing them to a specific Web site or by using the connection that comes with your device. (Imagine being able to carry all that reading material right on your Kindle without having to carry around all that paper.)

So, over all, I give my Kindle a strong B+ rating… and I’m anxiously awaiting the Kindle 2.0. (I’m sure Jeff is sending me one!)
Update: I got a note Thursday morning from a friend who also has a Kindle. His critique:

As you know, I agree with you completely. Here are a few faults you didn’t mention: if you want to “flip back” or go forward to re-read or read a page you have to do it page by page; a real time-waster and a pain in the ass. The Next Page and Back “buttons” could be placed more sensibly, especially Back.

I find I’m reading more (and I’m a voracious reader) as I’m never without the Kindle and use it almost every spare moment.

Written by cdorobek

September 10, 2008 at 11:00 PM

DorobekInsider.com: What Deirdre Murray does for her weekends

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So if you wondered what Qwest’s Deirdre Murray does for the weekend, we now know… because we read it on the front page of the Washington Post’s Metro section this morning.

A Social Splash [WP, 09.02.2008]
Group Beach Houses for Over-50 Singles Do a Boomer Business
Mary Lou, Sue, Deirdre, Paull, Joe, Judith and Roy share a group beach house for singles on the Eastern Shore. But it’s not what you think.

This is how the world sees group beach houses: ratty shag carpets and drunken 20-somethings passed out under beer pong tables. Boozy pickups and one-night stands.

This is life at the Cottage, as Mary Lou and the others have dubbed their well-appointed house: tennis matches in the morning and cocktails on the beach in the late afternoon. Their first party this year was a black-tie affair, and a recent dinner featured grilled swordfish steaks and pinot grigio, accompanied by gazpacho served in chilled martini glasses.

And the singles? They’re all over 50. Some are way over 50, though they’d rather not be more specific. ” Nobody knows how old I am,” Cottage member Joe Herbert said.

The Cottage is one of about 10 singles beach houses in Rehoboth and Dewey Beach for the “mature” set. They have names like the Heartbreakers, the Bird House, Sunsations and Summer Dreams. The singles host progressive gourmet dinner parties and take turns throwing the weekly, invitation-only cocktail party.

Continue reading the story here

Written by cdorobek

September 2, 2008 at 9:06 PM

Posted in Circuit, Industry, Off-topic

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An introduction to the DorobekInsider.com

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Who says nothing happens in August. There was all sorts of stuff going on during the Dog Days:

  • The seemingly never ending election season continues with each parties respective conventions and the full presidential tickets were completed.
  • A hurricane threatened the Gulf Coast.
  • Earlier in the month, an almost hurricane once again threatened the LandWarNet conference down in Florida — again.
  • And then, of course, there was the amazing Michael Phelps.
  • … and, after nine years, I left Federal Computer Week.

OK — you tell me which one doesn’t fit?

I can’t speak first hand about the other events, but I can talk about my departure from FCW and the creation of this blog.

When all was said and done, my departure from FCW happened very quickly. (Federal Computer Week editors made my departure the magazine’s “Buzz of the Week” for the week — and perhaps that is a sure sign that, in fact, there was not much going on in August. The write-up also made me sounds… well, somewhat tabloid, but I’m told that any press is good press. I’m not sure I buy that, but… Editors, by their nature, edit — and editors edit pretty much everything. I was shocked how much my reading speed slowed when I became an editor because I would read books and start editing them. And then, when you read something about yourself, there is an almost overwhelming desire to edit.)

Why did I leave?

Well, when I announced my departure from Federal Computer Week, there were two reasons. One, of course, is a remarkable opportunity to try something new: radio. As I mentioned, starting September 15, I will be the co-anchor of the Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, which will air from 3-7 pm ET on Federal News Radio (in DC at 1500 AM and online at federalnewsradio.com). Federal News Radio’s parent company, Bonneville Communications, took a risk on growing the station from a small outpost on a tiny AM frequency to a powerful DC frequency, and they thereby expand the station’s reach and coverage. The Daily Debrief is also expanding to four hours from its previous two hour slot. The company is also taking a risk on putting a print guy on the radio. I have a lot to learn in the weeks and months ahead, but… I’m looking forward to the experience.

The other reason for deciding to leave is that I wanted to grow something that I could call my own. This blog is the start of that idea.

The publishing business has changed so much in recent years, like so many businesses. Look at how the government market has changed in the past decade. But the changes in publishing have been truly revolutionary. Today, the printing presses have been democratized to a point that just about anybody can become a journalist. (That being said, it did take me some time to get this site up and running, but that was more of my own focus issues — there was a lot of stuff going on.) That doesn’t mean that everybody who has a blog actually is a journalist, but… anybody can be a journalist.

And I watched over the past several years as the innovative Huffington Post, started by Arianna Huffington, developed from a mere blog into… well, something more. (The NYT recently did an interesting story about the evolution of the Huffington Post.)

Then, over the last few years, I have tried to develop FCW.com’s FCW Insider into something more.

So what will the DorobekInsider.com be? Essentially, at least at the start, it will be something similar to what the FCW Insider was — a place to talk about the issues confronting government… a place to provide news, insights, and analysis. But beyond that, part of what I want to do is build community. After all, anybody who works with government understand that this is a community. As editor of Federal Computer Week, it reinforced how important it is to have a publication that covers that community. I tried to do that at FCW and with the FCW Insider. And I will continue to do that here — reporting on community events ranging from community gatherings and events, as much as I can.

I believe that publications are an important — almost essential — part of community. (And publications can be in print or online.) The government community is actually very lucky to have a wide variety of really good publications. There are, of course, the suite of pubs from the 1105 Government Information Group, my former home. As you might imagine, I’m partial to Federal Computer Week, but… my former colleagues are some of the best and the brightest in the business and they are working very hard to cover this market. They also have years of experience covering government and IT. But this community is blessed by a number of really good pubs: Government Executive, which has really done a remarkable job growing online, developing NextGov to cover government IT… and the venerable Federal Times… and, of course, there is the Washington Post’s Federal Dairy.

But one of the things that a publication offers is something of an unbridled look at the community itself. Too often, a community can become too focused on themselves, almost evolving into a clique. And journalism can provide that self-reflection. Journalist can hold up a mirror that can cause us all to reflect and ponder — do our words match our actions? The trite word that was always used was “objective.” That word never made sense to me, even in journalism school. After all, nobody can really be objective. We bring to any story our own thoughts and feelings. What we can do is treat people fairly. I have tried to do that over the years — and I will continue to do that both on the radio and here online.

So I do love this profession, despite its faults. After all, I decided I wanted to be a journalist when I was 13-years-old. Ironically, I fell in love with journalism through radio — two radio stations in San Francisco: KGO-AM, the Bay Area talk station, and KCBS, the Bay Area’s all-news station.

Journalist have the sometimes unenviable task of saying what others will not say, and that has made journalists unpopular. It goes with the territory. And there will be times that you may be ticked off at me. (And I pay forward an apology?)

I have a few tenants for publishing. One is that publications have to get things right. In my experience, truth is like beauty — it depends on the beholder. But to the extent possible, I will attempt to get the facts right… and when I don’t, I’ll tell you what I got wrong and correct it. Anothertenent is that you have to treat people fairly. The third is that publications can’t be boring. There is so much to do and so little time, the real competition in the world is for time.

I can promise that I will do everything under my control to treat everybody as fairly as I possibly can.

I hope to bring some of this community to radio… and I’m going to do it here on the Dorobek Insider. Earlier this year, I offered my tips for bloggers. In that post, I suggested that people need to be prepared to allow a blog to evolve over time — to grow and change. That was my experience with the FCW Insider, and I hope and believe that the Dorobek Insider also will evolve — and, I hope, grow — over time. I don’t know what the end point is. Frankly, I hope you will help me figure that out.

Regardless, as always, comments, concerns, questions, suggestions (for the blog or the radio show) or tips are always welcome. I can be reached by e-mail at “chris at chrisdorobek.com” or by phone at 202.658.8590. People can also just comment here — no registration required, at least as of right now.

They say life is a journey. I hope you’ll continue to stay with me… both on the radio and here online… and let me know your thoughts.

Written by cdorobek

September 2, 2008 at 8:39 PM

Posted in Off-topic

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