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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sometimes Blogs Just Write Themselves. Thank you, Federal Government and your friends.

If you're not on the tech side, you may not be familiar with all the hoops one has to jump through to do something as simple as move a tower about a mile.  I wrote about the American Bird Conversancy, the EPA, National Wildlife, ANSI, FAA and a couple of others.  I didn't get to talk about Indian lands. (Hey! That's what the government calls them)  Anyway.  When filing for a move the database gets updated and distributed to all tribes who may have, at some time, right to lay claim to the land.  It doesn't matter if it's in the middle of an industrial park that already has buildings on it.

After the filing and distribution, you get an email similar to the following.  I'll let it speak for itself but I'll ask you now, can you spot the problem?

Dear Sir or Madam:

Thank you for using the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Tower Construction Notification System (TCNS). The purpose of this electronic mail message is to inform you that the following authorized persons were sent the information you provided through TCNS, which relates to your proposed antenna structure. The information was forwarded by the FCC to authorized TCNS users by electronic mail and/or regular mail (letter).

Persons who have received the information that you provided include leaders or their designees of federally-recognized American Indian Tribes, including Alaska Native Villages (collectively "Tribes"), Native Hawaiian Organizations (NHOs), and State Historic Preservation Officers (SHPOs). For your convenience in identifying the referenced Tribes and in making further contacts, the City and State of the Seat of Government for each Tribe and NHO, as well as the designated contact person, is included in the listing below. We note that Tribes may have Section 106 cultural interests in ancestral homelands or other locations that are far removed from their current Seat of Government.  Pursuant to the Commission's rules as set forth in the Nationwide Programmatic Agreement for Review of Effects on Historic Properties for Certain Undertakings Approved by the Federal Communications Commission (NPA), all Tribes and NHOs listed below must be afforded a reasonable opportunity to respond to this notification, consistent with the procedures set forth below, unless the proposed construction falls within an exclusion designated by the Tribe or NHO. (NPA, Section IV.F.4).

The information you provided was forwarded to the following Tribes and NHOs who have set their geographic preferences on TCNS. If the information you provided relates to a proposed antenna structure in the State of Alaska, the following list also includes Tribes located in the State of Alaska that have not specified their geographic preferences.  For these Tribes and NHOs, if the Tribe or NHO does not respond within a reasonable time, you should make a reasonable effort at follow-up contact, unless the Tribe or NHO has agreed to different procedures (NPA, Section IV.F.5). In the event such a Tribe or NHO does not respond to a follow-up inquiry, or if a substantive or procedural disagreement arises between you and a Tribe or NHO, you must seek guidance from the Commission (NPA, Section IV.G).  These procedures are further set forth in the FCC's Declaratory Ruling released on October 6, 2005 (FCC 05-176).

1. THPO Linda P Langley Dr - Coushatta Indian Tribe - Elton, LA - electronic mail and regular mail

2. THPO/NAGPRA Technician Juliet K Goyen - Keweenaw Bay Indian Community - Baraga, MI - electronic mail
Details: The KBIC THPO reviews all projects within historic homelands for the presence of cultural resources with significance to the Anishinaabe. Your request will go through a preliminary review by our THPO/NAGPRA Technician, the review consists of relevant studies submitted by the applicant regarding cultural resources documentation, in house literature search, database search and GIS search for further information. If any cultural resources are identified during this process, the file will be turned over to the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer in order to make a determination of effects.  
Information required in order to complete this process are as follows:
Project Name
Project Location
Physical Address
Latitude and Longitude
State, County,Township, Range, Section quarters
Brief Project Description
Existing studies for archaeological sites, and cultural resources.

As of February 15, 2012, the KBIC THPO will be charging a fee of $250.00 per review unless the review covers more than one sectionof land in which case the fee is $250.00 per section. Fees in this process cover the research and other activities required to provide you with a timely response so your project can stay on track. Please submit payment of $250.00 for each project application submitted, checks should be made payable to KBIC THPO, 16429 Beartown Road, Baraga, Michigan 49908. Any questions can be directed to Christopher J. Chosa, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer or Juliet K. Goyen, THPO/NAGPRA Technician via email:, or or by phone: 906-353-6272 or 906-353-6278.

3. Historic Preservation Officer Virginia Nail - Chickasaw Nation - Ada, OK - electronic mail

4. MEKKO and Acting Tribal Administrator Jennie Lillard - Kialegee Tribal Town - Wetumka, OK - regular mail
Details: If the Applicant receives no response from the Kialegee Tribal Town within 30 days after notification through TCNS, the Kialegee Tribal Town has no interest in participating in pre-construction review for the site.  The Applicant, however, must immediately notify the Kialegee Tribal Town in the event archaeological properties or human remains are discovered during construction.

5. Policy Analyst Richard L Allen - Cherokee Nation - Tahlequah, OK - electronic mail
Details: The TCNS Details do not provide me enough information to conduct a proper assessment of the projects on behalf of the Cherokee Nation. Therefore, I request that I be sent a brief summary of the Phase I findings [please try to limit the summary to between1--10 pages], a topo of the area, and relevant photos.  Please send these by email to  Please treat this request for additional material as a routine supplement to the TCNS Details Notification for each of your projects that fall within our Tribe's areas of geographic interest.  Consequently, if you do not receive a response from me within 30 days from the date on which you e-mailed the supplemental items to me, you may move forward with the 20-Day Letter procedures pursuant to the FCC's guidelines.  Thank you. -- Dr. Richard L. Allen

6. Acting THPO Lisa C LaRue-Baker - United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians - Tahlequah, OK - electronic mail and regular mail
Details: As of July, 2011, United Keetoowah Band will be changing the review fee to $300.00.  This will be for ALL reviews, including colocations and resites.  Cancelled projects are still subject to fee, as the UKB reviews the project in good faith, even if the site is later abandoned. REVIEWS AND INVOICES ARE BASED ON OFFICIAL REPORTS OF TOWERS SUBMITTED DELIVERED TO THE UKB BY THE FCC.  If a site is cancelled or abandoned within the first week of listing on the TCNS system, PLEASE CONTACT THE UKB (Lisa LaRue) at UKBTHPO-LARUE@YAHOO.COM  to CANCEL to avoid review and invoicing.   Invoices will be sent along with clearance or concern letters, and are expected to be paid within 30 days, just as we review your projects in the time allotted on this end.  We thank you for your cooperation.


LATE PAYS:  Invoices from the UKB which remain unpaid after 30 days will result in termination ofreview of projects for the particular company untilinvoices are paid.  Consultation responsibilitywill revert to the federal agency for such companies.
Late pays over 60 days will result in notification to actual cell tower company regarding consultant's late payment status and notification that furtherreviews will be terminated unless handled directly through the federal agency.
Late pays over 90 days will result in all of the above plus notification of -non payment- status to tribal court for recommendation to be turned over to collection agency andBetter Business Bureau.

NON PAYMENT:  Any payments over 90 days late will be considered non-payment and will result in termination of reviews for consultant/tower company (unless handled directly by theFederal Agency) and will be turned over to tribal court to be recommended for assignment to collection agency and notification to the Better Business Bureau.  Future reviews for the consultant/tower company will require PREPAYMENT.

YOUR SECTION 106 obligations with our tribe are not fulfilled until youreceive our written response indicating our determination.  Please do not hamper your client's ability to receive reviews and responses by becoming late on your payments!!


7. Administrative Assistant Jo Ann Beckham - Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma - Seneca, MO - electronic mail
Details: If you, the Applicant and/or tower constructor, do not receive a response from us, the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, within 30 days from the date of the TCNS notification, then you may conclude that we do not have an interest in the site.  However, if archeological resources or remains are found during construction, you must immediately stop construction and notify us of your findings in accordance with the FCC's rules.  (See 47 C.F.R. § 1.1312(d))

8. THPO Kim Jumper - Shawnee Tribe - Miami, OK - regular mail

ATTENTION, NEW INFORMATION: Our procedures were updated on 14 January 2008.  Please call Kim Jumper, THPO, at 918-542-2441, so that she can send you a copy.

If your tower is a co-location, please fax us this information to let us know.  We cannot always tell from the TCNS web site that a tower is a co-location.  We require a written response from you to let us know that it is a co-location.  If a co-location project includes some new ground disturbance (such as from an expanded compound or access road, or construction of an ancillary structure), the Shawnee Tribe treats such a project the same as any other non co-location project. 

Our correct mailing/physical address is:  29 South Highway 69A.  Our correct phone number is (918-542-2441) and our historic preservation fax line is (918-542-9915).  THPO Kim Jumper manages all cell tower consultation.

As of  26 June2006, all of the faxed responses of our final comments on a tower site will contain an original Shawnee Tribe signature.  Each final comment fax is signed individually.  Copies may be compared, for authentication, against the original in our files.If afinal comment fax does not contain a signature, it is not valid.  ALL FINAL COMMENTS FROM THE SHAWNEE TRIBE ARE WRITTEN; FINAL COMMENTS ARE NEVER PROVIDED VERBALLY.  IF THE SHAWNEE TRIBE IS CREDITED WITH HAVING GIVEN A VERBAL RESPONSE, THAT RESPONSE IS NOT VALID. 

If you receive notification through the TCNS listing the Shawnee Tribe, that is an indication that the Shawnee Tribe is interested in consulting on the tower for which that notification was received.  Please consider that our official indication of interest to you.  The Shawnee Tribe considers the Tower Construction Notification System's weekly e-mail to be the first notification that we receive that a tower will be constructed in an area of our concern.  We do not view the TCNS notificationas completion of 106 consultation obligations.

The Shawnee Tribe has developed streamlined consultation procedures for cell tower developers and their subcontractors. If you do not have a copy of the procedures - most recently updated on 14 January2008 - please contact us, as you must follow these procedures to consult with us on cell tower projects.  Call us at  918-542-2441 or fax us at 918-542-9915.  It is the tower builder's responsibility to make sure that you have our most recent consultation procedures.


The information you provided was also forwarded to the additional Tribes and NHOs listed below. These Tribes and NHOs have NOT set their geographic preferences on TCNS, and therefore they are currently receiving tower notifications for the entire United States.  For these Tribes and NHOs, you are required to use reasonable and good faith efforts to determine if the Tribe or NHO may attach religious and cultural significance to historic properties that may be affected by its proposed undertaking. Such efforts may include, but are not limited to, seeking information from the relevant SHPO or THPO, Indian Tribes, state agencies, the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, or, where applicable, any federal agency with land holdings within the state (NPA, Section IV.B). If after such reasonable and good faith efforts, you determine that a Tribe or NHO may attach religious and cultural significance to historic properties in the area and the Tribe or NHO does not respond to TCNS notification within a reasonable time, you should make a reasonable effort to follow up, and must seek guidance from the Commission in the event of continued non-response or in the event of a procedural or substantive disagreement. If you determine that the Tribe or NHO is unlikely to attach religious and cultural significance to historic properties within the area, you do not need to take further action unless the Tribe or NHO indicates an interest in the proposed construction or other evidence of potential interest comes to your attention.


The information you provided was also forwarded to the following SHPOs in the State in which you propose to construct and neighboring States.  The information was provided to these SHPOs as a courtesy for their information and planning.  You need make no effort at this time to follow up with any SHPO that does not respond to this notification.  Prior to construction, you must provide the SHPO of the State in which you propose to construct (or the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, if the project will be located on certain Tribal lands), with a Submission Packet pursuant to Section VII.A of the NPA.

9. SHPO Lee Warner - Alabama Historical Commission - Montgomery, AL - electronic mail


10. Deputy SHPO Elizabeth Ann Brown - Alabama Historical Commission - Montgomery, AL - electronic mail


11. SHPO Cathie Matthews - Department of Arkansas Heritage - Little Rock, AR - electronic mail


12. Deputy SHPO Ken Grunewald - Department of Arkansas Heritage - Little Rock, AR - electronic mail


13. SHPO Elbert Hilliard - Mississippi Dept of Archives & History - Jackson, MS - regular mail


14. Deputy SHPO Kenneth H P'Pool - Division of Historic Preservation - Jackson, MS - electronic mail


15. SHPO Stephen Mahfood - State Department of Natural Resources - Jefferson City, MO - regular mail


16. Deputy SHPO, Director Mark Miles - Historic Preservation Program, Division of State Parks - Jefferson City, MO - electronic mail


17. Deputy SHPO Sara Parker - State Department of Natural Resources - Jefferson City, MO - electronic mail


18. Environmental Review Coordinator Renee GledhillEarley - NC State Historic Preservation Office - Raleigh, NC - electronic mail


19. Deputy SHPO David Brook - Historic Preservation Office - Raleigh, NC - electronic mail


20. Review & Compliance Coordinator Joseph Y Garrison - Tennessee Historical Commission - Nashville, TN - electronic mail


If you are proposing to construct a facility in the State of Alaska, you should contact Commission staff for guidance regarding your obligations in the event that Tribes do not respond to this notification within a reasonable time.

Please be advised that the FCC cannot guarantee that the contact(s) listed above opened and reviewed an electronic or regular mail notification. The following information relating to the proposed tower was forwarded to the person(s) listed above:

  Notification Received: Deleted from this blog
  Notification ID: Deleted from this blog
  Tower Owner Individual or Entity Name: Deleted from this blog
  Consultant Name: Deleted from this blog
  Street Address: Deleted from this blog
  City: Deleted from this blog
  State: Deleted from this blog
  Zip Code: Deleted from this blog
  Phone: Deleted from this blog
  Email:Deleted from this blog
  Structure Type: GTOWER - Guyed Structure Used for Communication Purposes

  Latitude: Deleted from this blog
  Longitude: Deleted from this blog
  Location Description: Deleted from this blog  City: Deleted from this blog
  State: Deleted from this blog
  County: Deleted from this blog
  Ground Elevation: Deleted from this blog
  Support Structure: Deleted from this blog
  Overall Structure: xxx meters above ground level
  Overall Height AMSL: xxx meters above mean sea level

If you have any questions or comments regarding this notice, please contact the FCC using the electronic mail form located on the FCC's website at:

Friday, July 20, 2012

Mobile Apps...What a Great Marketing "Ploy"

Do you remember the story about the guy driving down the road behind a pickup truck?  The guy stops fast as the truck driver jumps out, runs around the back and starts beating on the sides of the truck with a 2x4.  He then replaces the board, jumps back into the truck and drives off.

The guy following watches this happen 4 more times before he gets out of his car and approaches the truck driver, who’s madly beating on the truck.

“I gotta ask,” the car’s driver asks, “what the heck are you doing?”

The trucker mops his brow and responds, “Hey, I’m in a hurry.  I got a one ton truck.   I’m hauling 2 tons of birds.  I gotta keep half of ‘em flyin’ all the time.”

Reminds me of what marketers rush into when they decide they need a mobile app.

I’ve done a bunch of them in the past few months.  People and products that have to have a mobile presence.

…and I get dirty looks (or the deer in the headlights) when I ask, what’s the purpose?

“The purpose?  Harrumph, harrumph,” like Mel Brooks in Blazing Saddles.  “Uh?  We gotta be there.”

“But what are people going to get?  I mean, what’s the user experience?” I ask, jumping back to the basic of basics.

“Well.  Uh.  How ‘bout a coupon?”

“For what?”

“Lemme think…how about a free eye exam?”

“OK.  Have you run numbers for that?”

“No.  I just thought of it.  But we gotta have an app.”

It goes on like that – needing an app but not thinking it through.  Mobile apps have to offer some kind of reward.  Ideally, it’s an instantaneous reward.  Example:  news apps – you get news you’ve signed up for immediately.  Another might be coupons but only if you can deliver your coupon when the receiver is in the mood and capable of using it.  And, c’mon – an entire app for a single coupon?  Unless it’s for 90% off on a car, it’s not going to be worth your while.

I’ve seen some good ones – golf score tracker, like a clicker for your phone.  Of course, I have to prompt one of my golfing friends to actually click it with each shot.  Mortgage calculator.  Great one.  Plug in a rate to get monthly payments.  There are a bunch.

And the other side -  well, you can’t swing a dead…uh…without hitting one.  Do a Google search on “useless mobile apps.”  Or try OpenSpot on your Android.  You’ll get the idea.  And, remember, when you see one, a bunch of folks sat around a table and said, “Yeah.  Great.  Let’s go with it.”

Finally, don’t forget – once you create the app, you have to market it, it being the app!  You have to tell people about it and get them to download it.  When you’re thinking that part through, think once again about what you’re putting your prospects through.  If they download a useless app – or worse, one that monkeys with their system – you’ve done more harm to your brand than you have good.  From a tech standpoint, they have to work - and continue working.  When you rush past QA, you leave yourself open for a lot of negatives.  Remember, people can rate the app…and they do.  Oh yeah, you bet they do.  Check a few out.  Those comments could be about your product because of your app.

So the next time you’re thinking about a calculator that lets someone determine the length of a monster sub sandwich for your party, or calculates the compatibility of two cats, think again.  Save yourself some grief and save the brand from some damage.

If the guy with the truck would have thought his trip through, he wouldn’t have taken off with the two tons of birds and the one ton would have made it just fine, on time, no additional cost.

Oh, on the optometrist, finally, he says, “I got it.  The eye exam.  Make it only valid ‘while you wait.’”

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

CEO's: Have you been duped?

An open letter to CEO’s, COO’s and CMO’s:

Let’s see.  How do I say this?  How ‘bout this…is your customer service department/division/person really giving any service?

Now, let me back up.  Somewhere along the line, a really bright person stood in front of you with a Powerpoint® presentation and showed how automated customer service would save you money while at the same time keeping customers happy by providing faster service.

Well, friends, hate to tell you, but you got sold a bill of goods.  Want proof?  Think of a problem that you might have with one of your products or services.  Call your own customer service line.  WARNING:  this is not for the faint-of-heart!  If you are taking prescription drugs or have a history of health problems, I suggest you have someone else make that call while you monitor on a speakerphone.

You’ll find out quickly just how bad things are.  Actually, it may not be so quickly.  You could be pressing 1 the 2 then 5 then 1 then 4 then…and then you may arrive at a person to whom you’ve given NO authority except to say, “Sorry, it’s company policy,” and when you want to discuss it with an actual decision maker, you’re told that they can only return calls and then, only in the morning.  At this point, you’ll realize that you’ve invested anywhere at least ten and maybe twenty or more minutes to get nowhere.  Well, actually, at least you’ve probably made a great voice recording (for training purposes only, of course)*.

Think you’ll get a call back from that decision maker?  Don’ take it to Vegas.

Now, about that phone tree and saving time.  Well, it saves time for your company, I guess, but it wastes a great deal of your customers’ time.  As you use automation to sort and categorize, you waste hours and hours of time on your customers’ behalf.  And they’re getting tired of it.  Tired of pressing numbers, tired of punching in a phone number or credit card or account number only to hear from the live person you finally get to say “May I have your (phone, credit card, account) number please?“  Why did you have them enter it in the first place?  Ah yes.  The prescreener.  But that person with the Powerpoint didn’t tell you about the costs to port that information to the servicer’s computer screen, did they?

The fix:
  • One (o-n-e) automated encounter before connecting the caller to a live person
  • Empowered people who actually know the product
  • Ability to escalate a problem or issue immediately
But that’ll cost me money.  Deal with it.  Look upon it as priming the pump – the one that pumps out happier consumers.  

Go ahead.  Make the call.  But on your cell, dial 911 so that all you have to do is hit “Send” when you start feeling ill.

*NB: A lot of call center recorders continue even when you’re on hold.  That can be fun.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Everyone Wants to Be Normal

I ran into the whole "normalization" thing 10 or 12 years ago. We were working with a major IT company whose expertise we obtained in exchange for our licensing a bunch of rights to them.

We were in the early days of web audio.

As a quality facility, we supplied materials with the expected/required/proper audio and video levels. Nonetheless, we got our first bill - well, it was a deduction from the credit we had for licensing - and it included "Audio Normalizing." 

"We sent you abnormal audio?" I asked, imagining Gene Wilder saying it.

"I don't know," was the response.

"But we were charged for normalizing."

"Well, yes, all audio sent through our group is normalized. That way the levels are constant."

"But what if they're already constant?"

"Doesn't matter. Normalizing ensures it." Then he went into at best a poor explanation of digitization."

That exchange told me they were taking us were back to the wild west again. Like a dorm room carrier current station running unbalanced audio that was all over the place. And, sure enough, that's what their group usually saw. Of course, at that time, a lot of untrained folks bought camcorders and jumped into the business and there lay the problem.

But I hear it now, too - a lot! "Don't worry about the levels; I'll normalize them later."

Makes me reel every time. Also sends me back 40+ years to, "Don't worry about the levels. StaLevel® will catch 'em."

OK. I could say to consider normalization an indictment of sloppy operation. But when I hear someone say they want to normalize, I indict their ears.


First, let me say, yes, I know, (oxymoron alert!) "good normalization" involves a more complex algorithm than simple gain adjustment or compression and expansion. But think about two things:

1. Once you get to digital, the mathematics of the process can yield numbers that can't be fully quantified. That is, when the process boosts a section by, say, 2.6dB, a lot of those new numbers don't fall into the exact level of the 16 or 24 bits assigned. Hey, McFly. That's distortion. Might be bad, might be inaudible. But it's there. Some ratios are worse than others. But you can be sure something's there.

2. As smart as normalization might be, it can't (yet) decide how to normalize in certain situations. Dialog, for example - dialog where one line steps on another. Record that with one person about 6 dB below the other. Normalize it and listen. Did a pretty good job, eh? Listen again - to the tails of each line - the parts stepped on. Big change. Did you want that? Normalize a single part or thread and, except for number 1 above, it functions fairly well. Normalize multiple parts already mixed and you get, well, number 2.

Recommendation: just watch the doggoned levels. Get it right in the recording. Your mix will be a lot easier, it'll all be audible, and you won't have to normalize.