About the Author:

With a career that has spanned advertising, production, technical services, and project management, Michael is able to articulate the wide range skills and professions that make the Internet work. This eclectic understanding and his desire to shine the light on those hiding behind techno babble has brought success to a wide range of projects.

Twitter @bissell

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Past Postings:

Using Dissent To Enhance Your Social Influence Online

Industry Profile - Author

Industry Profiles Full Time Employees - Professional Writer

Some Thoughts On Freelancing

Building Your Online Brand

Marissa Mayer and the Change in Yahoo's Remote Workforce

LinkedIn for Professional Writers

Fake Republican Twitter Accounts

"Did you mean?" -- Google's chiding nanny of search results

Branded Technology

Sharingspree.com -- Stealing more than GroupOn's Idea

The Internet Isn't Entertaining Enough

It's not your bank... It's Apple's and Amazon's

Violated by Madison Avenue

Google+ Scares Me

"We need to..." Internet Marketing Myths

Facebook's deal with the Devil

My cool new phone is a little too cool.

You are never alone

Promotion vs. Distribution... You'd think they'd know that one...

Publishing Industry Watch

Content for Social Media

Social Media Slot Machine

Anonymous vs Me

News from the Twitter Follow Campaign Trail

The art of Indiscriminate Twitter Following

The Cloudy Meaning of The Cloud

The Demand For The Loss of Creativity

Alien Technology and Government Conspiracies

Time for a New Reality

The Death of Email

Protecting Free Speech... Anonymously (and geekily)

Amazon Shouldn't Have Shut Down WikiLeaks

The Superpowers of the Hive Mind

Time for New Ideas

Comcast, Netflix and the Mystery of the Modem

The Great Technical Disconnect

New for the Sake of New

A Retail Store Built Like the Web

Disposable Personas

When did Google Start Policing the Internet?

Getting back to HTML basics, thanks to Apple

Inspecting my Navel Base

A shoebox vs. an online backup

Is Your "Resume" Website Recruiter-friendly?

iBooks -- Creative Epicenter or Gatekeeper?

The Failure of Success

The Economy is Going to Get Worse, but that's okay

Time lost on Twitter

Client Vendor Relationships

Twitter's back alleys and dark places

Social Media is NOT Advertising

Microsoft Courier

Form (designers) versus Function (geeks)

PDXBOOM -- The power of social media and the portland pipe bomb

China and Apple -- Different organizations, same management

The volume of screens


Google Adds Biking Directions to Maps


That magical little tablet

How your website can be in two places at once

Masterpieces created by sheer volume

Suing over lack of originality

A Primer on Internet Fame -- dancing babies, hamsters, numa numa, and more...

Checking my messages

Rules are made to be broken -- in a reasoned, systematic way

So many accounts, so few passwords

Who really uses Twitter? 60% of Twitter's traffic isn't on Twitter

The Web is a Jerry Rigged Kludge

Twitter: Asleep at the Mouse Wheel

Where regulation is good: Google Voice and Vonage

How Facebook is (unintentionally) forcing programmers to piss off users

The Twit Cleaner

Perfect Secretary's pitch for @Adbroad (and the Youtube API)

The Emotions of Text

The Shorty Awards Scandal -- Manual Spam is still Spam

Google Analytics, the cloud and missing numbers #fail

Helen Klein Ross & Michael Bissell Interview at Adweek's Social Media Strategies Conference

The Internet is the New 60's

Cougars from New Zealand (and I don't mean big cats)

Adding facts together, or why you can't charge your cell phone from wifi

Social Media and the Destruction of the World

Rabid Fans vs Passive Viewers -- The Coco vs Leno saga

How to tell someone to retweet (without using up your 140 characters)

You can't buy social media

A book unopened is but a block of paper

Building the LOST: The Final Season Sweepstakes

Holiday SPAM (or the lack thereof)

Archiving Twitter

Too Many Toolbars

Random Censorship with Google Adwords

Accessibility and Shopping Online

Twisted path to customer service

Flash: Shiny objects blinding your audience

Twollow and other gold rush scripts

GPS in a Laptop computer

Thinking outside the box... There was a box?

Twitter was designed for Text Messaging

It's not the corporations, damnit

Entrepreneur or Dreamer?

Adweek Social Media Twitter for Brands Presentation

Socializing is more than Social Media

Generational Marketing is a Myth (or Who's your Daddy?)

Social Media is Just the Way We Use the Internet

Twitter Followers Don't Matter (ask the porn sites)

The Internet is Gooder than Books

Sometimes you don't want your campaign to go viral

Best Twitter Branding Campaign

Like flies to crap, Spammy Twitter Followers don't really go away

iPhone SMS Security Hole

How Flipmytweet works

Cell Phones as Microscopes

Digg is not the Hijacker -- You Are

Steve Ballmer -- the walking dead?

Twitter as an open mic poetry reading

Automatic Social [un]Awareness

First splash for United Against Malaria

New Media/Old Media and the CLIO Awards

Interview at SXSW: Mad Men Twitter And Tracking

We've got an App for that -- it's called the Web

Understanding Google To Get Your Resume Noticed

The trouble with Wordpress and other templates

Wayward Words with Baggage

Speaking at SXSW March 17th

The fleeting Memory of the Internet

It's okay to say 'I don't know'

Nike Takes Over Conquent

Facebook owns this title

Excuses, excuses

A little on Social Media

Feeding on Content

Attack of the Bots

Web 1.0

Net Neutrality

Getting clever with data feeds

The Other Credit Crisis

The Broadband Inauguration

T-Mobile owns Magenta and Other Patent Stories

The Risk-takers, Doers and Makers of Things

The noise of 20,000+ Twitter Followers

30,000 feet, 500 MPH Suburban Strip Mall

Cellphones, toilets and the Inauguration

The End of Days (of song): Microsoft Songsmith Example

Browser Bigotry

The Death of your Soul: Microsoft Songsmith

Creative Development or Developing Creatively?

The Myth of Wikipedia (or the Wiki-1400)

Online/Offline Sales -- is it really that bad?

Is PayPal Tacky?

Old School Web Design Still Works

Domain Squatting

Green Chri$tma$

QA 101

Portland Snow

Get some return on that web traffic

I think they have a backup...

I'd love to have that problem

The [un]importance of statistics

Don't be a tool of viral marketing

Emails, discussions, blogs, wiki and web content

You Designed for Print First

You let someone else register your domain name

You figured .biz, .info, .us would work fine

What's after the Integrated Circuit?

Intelligent life is out there (but it's bugger all down here on earth)

Subject Matter Experts Talking Other Subject Matter

The Totalitarian Regime of Apple

Oversimplifying how people work


Creative Services for the New World

Reverse Anthropomorphism

The End of Time

Better Living Through Twitter

Lessons Learned From Apple

It's the Brand, Baby

Business Architecture vs. Web Construction

On Truth

Inverse Peter Principle

Random Knowledge

The Hive

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Building the LOST: The Final Season Sweepstakes
Posted: 2009-12-29 12:36:03
Shortcut URL: http://t.conquent.com/i700

We were contracted to build a sweepstakes site for Disney/ABC for the final season of the TV show LOST (or as they put it LOST: The Final Season, which sounds more ominous). It was a pretty straightforward database project, with two major wrinkles.

First off, they needed it in a week. I was thinking two weeks when we agreed to do it, but when you consider we had Christmas right in the middle of the project, we pretty much had to get it done in a week.

Purnima did a great job of creating custom graphics for the site based on the imagery we were provided, and Eric got the programming and server set up done in short order. Even the HTML came together, which is remarkable when you consider how short-handed we are in that department at the moment.

But the real thing that had me worried about this project is that this is LOST; this is a show with a fan base that put fanatical back in the word "fan". There are over a million fans on the LOST Facebook page which could pummel a web application. Then there's the fact ABC will be advertising the sweepstakes on TV, which can get thousands of people to hit the site at the same moment.

Fortunately Conquent has faced this before and we were able to get a site set up on Rackspace's cloud -- we looked at Amazon and Google (even considered Microsoft's), but what made Rackspace work for me was that I had a couple business cards from meeting tech and sales guys in Vegas at the CLIO awards. Yep, I made the business decision from hanging out in the cabanas by the pool at the Hard Rock Hotel in Vegas.

It's not that they had plied me with booze and wifi, it's that I was able to pick up the phone and talk to someone who was able to help my team set up the right solution. No matter how hard you try, you just can't automate real customer service. Even with over a decade of doing exactly these kinds of projects, cloud computing is new, and I honestly didn't know enough about how the technology works to understand how the pricing works or how we might get in trouble with one package versus another.

We're in Day 2 of the sweepstakes as I write this, and it's running so smoothly it's almost disturbing. I mean, I don't want to break the site, but I'd like to see the thing strain a little. But so far, it's just another ho-hum miracle.

Here's a link to the sweepstakes site, which probably will be pulled down a week before the February 2nd season premiere:


A book unopened is but a block of paper
Holiday SPAM (or the lack thereof)

Eric Weaver: Re: Building the LOST: The Final Season Sweepstakes
2009-12-30 00:55:10

An amusing challenge was that they wanted to give people a right/wrong indication on each question. How to do that without just letting them view source and read the correct answers?

Wound up doing a bunch of nasty number hacking in Javascript. Lots of multiplying and dividing-and-taking-the-remainder. The correct answer will be divisible by a certain number that's not obvious at first. I figured anybody hackerly to figure it out will have wasted enough time they might as well have submitted the form 25 times.

Taylor Singletary: Re: Building the LOST: The Final Season Sweepstakes
2009-12-30 18:07:26

Great project. I also recommend Joyent's cloud solutions pretty highly. AppEngine has legs but requires very specific implementation choices

Michael Bissell: Re: Building the LOST: The Final Season Sweepstakes
2009-12-30 18:07:50

I like the way Rackspace Cloud Sites (as opposed to Cloud Servers) scales automatically leaving fewer of those implementation choices

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