This is what Shawn Morton would look like if he had been made of LEGO -- the personal website of Shawn Morton
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Happy 2nd Birthday, Maddox!
Maddo and Daddo
This photo was taken yesterday at the zoo. Maddox just got his first peek of the elephants.

Today is Maddox Milo Morton's 2nd birthday. It seems like yesterday that we were taking the photo below.

Maddox Milo Morton

In his brief 2 years, he has been through so much (wearing a helmet to correct a misshapen skull, a bout with RSV, a broken leg, hernia surgery and a diagnosis of Celiacs), but he has always been a joy to be around.

For his big gift, we got him a Kota the Triceratops. He absolutely loved it.

Just finished assembling Maddox's big present for his birthday tomorrow.

See all of his birthday photos and videos on Flickr.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Jane's Addiction live in Columbus
After a great Yeah Yeah Yeahs show at The LC the night before, Amy and I headed out to the Jane's Addiction show there last night. It was actually the first time since moving to Columbus last year that we had gone out without the kids. We grabbed dinner and some Jeni's ice cream at North Market then some drinks in the Arena District before settling in for Jane's.

Because it was an outdoor show, we had to wait until it got dark for the show to start. That left us with plenty of time to do some people watching (which was awesome) and have an adult beverage.

"Nothing Shocking"
During "Nothing Shocking"

Jane's Addiction played a 90-minute set that opened with "Three Days" and finished with "Jane Says." Perry Farrell was one part lounge singer (he wore a gold satin jumpsuit with cummerbund and scarf), one part rock star and one part stoner at the coffee shop that asks you strange questions (he asked the mostly 30+ crowd if school was out yet). I'm not complaining, BTW. Perry is a great showman and definitely kept the crowd engaged. Check out the clip from the end of "Stop" to see that in action.

The end of "Stop"

The weather was absolutely perfect until the last few seconds of "Jane Says." At that point, a downpour started. As the crowd ran for cover, Perry said, "We made it rain!"

You can check out my photos and videos from show on Flickr.
Friday, May 29, 2009
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs live in Columbus
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs live in Columbus

I attended the Yeah Yeah Yeahs show in Columbus last night at "the LC." It was an amazing show. Karen O. had the crowd in the palm of her hand throughout (even tho they had to restart one song twice because she lost her place). They covered songs from all of their albums. I was disappointed not to hear "Tick," but was glad to hear "Black Tongue" and "Date with a Night."

I was able to get digital photos and some HD video on my Flip camera.
Check out more video clips and photos from the YYYs show in Columbus.

YYYs-esque Grand Ole Party was the opening act. I was pleasantly surprised with their set.

Part of "Black Tongue" live
Friday, May 22, 2009
My interview with Tavis Smiley
It's not every day that you get asked to interview one of TIME's 100 most influential people, so I was pretty thrilled (and a little nervous) heading into my one-on-one with Tavis Smiley yesterday at Nationwide headquarters in Columbus.

After my interview with Tavis Smiley

Tavis is in the 2nd year of a partnership with Nationwide for the On Your Side Tour and was in Columbus to announce the dates for 2009. I was able to get 10 minutes with him between his media interviews and his talk for Nationwide associates.

My questions centered around the OYS Tour as well as his new documentary STAND which had one of its first public screenings in Columbus last night. Here are my questions followed by his video response:

1. What can attendees of one of the five OYS Tour stops expect to learn? See Tavis' response on Nationwide's Facebook page

2. What was the most interesting thing you learned during the 2008 OYS Tour? See Tavis' response on Nationwide's Facebook page

3. Can you share an example from your film where you learned something you didn't already know about the people traveling with you? (This answer is my favorite, so I am embedding it below)

Afterward, Tavis was nice enough to pose for a photo with me. He even cracked a couple of Twitter-related jokes saying that he can't say no to a photo with the social media guy because I might trash him in 140 characters.

You can learn more about the On Your Side Tour and the 2009 tour dates at
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Inbound Marketing Bootcamp & SMC Louisville recap
One of the many things I miss about Louisville is the amazing social media community there. I was fortunate enough to be there a year and a half ago when the Social Media Club chapter was formed and was on the board until I moved to Columbus in July.

So when I heard that Chris Brogan was bringing his Inbound Marketing Bootcamp to Louisville *and* that he would be speaking at the SMC Louisville meeting the same night, I had to make the trip back to the 'Ville.

I headed down on Monday afternoon and met Jason Falls, Amber Naslund of Radian6, Justin Levy of New Marketing Labs, and Brendan Jackson from Creative Alliance for dinner at Proof on Main. Fortunately, everyone loved to eat, have a few cocktails and laugh (a lot), so it was a great time. I shared one infamous story from SXSWi that had the table in tears.

After dinner, we moved to the Proof bar and had another drink. For this one, we were joined by David Finch and Chris Brogan. I pulled a Don Draper (thanks to a tip from Brendan) and had an Old Fashioned before calling it a night.

The Humana Building
Photo by Chris Brogan

The Inbound Marketing Bootcamp kicked off at 8:30am on Tuesday. The event was hosted by Humana. On the way up the elevator, one of our Humana hosts noticed my Nationwide Insurance nametag and said how cool she thought our new iPhone was. That was nice to hear.

After catching up with Scott Clark from BuzzMaven, I grabbed a table with Falls, Amber and Melissa King from KFC. There was packed house as the event started with around 100 people attending.

The crowd at Chris Brogan's Inbound Marketing Bootcamp in Louisville
Photo by Chris Brogan

Over the next 7 hours, Brogan, Justin, Rick Burnes from Hubspot, Amber, Greg Cangialosi from Blue Sky Factory and Falls covered a wide variety of social media topics including blogging tips, how to engage on social networks, social media listening techniques, creating good content and the differences between bloggers and traditional media. You can check out the Twitter coverage of the event by searching the #imbc hashtag.

After the Bootcamp, we took a big group to Los Aztecas on Main for dinner before the SMC event. We ended up with Falls, Chris Bergman from the 513, Scott Clark, Justin Levy, Chris Hall and Greg Matthews from Humana's Innovation Center, Greg Cangialosi, Amber, Brogan and Rick Burnes.

Around 6pm, we headed back to the Humana Building for the Social Media Club event. Ran into a ton of old friends and former CNET colleagues including Tom Osborne, Eric Roland, Jay Garmon, Jim McDonnell from Papa John's, Rob May and Michelle Jones. Maker's Mark, who sponsored the event, provided free cocktails served in wax-covered glasses.

Chris Brogan at SMC Louisville
Brogan takes questions from the audience

Brogan took the stage around 7pm and shared his thoughts on the future of social media and took questions from the audience.

Hanging out after the SMC Louisville event
Back row: Chris Hall, me, Rob May, Michelle Jones, Greg Matthews, Justin Levy Front row: Greg Cangialosi, Amber Naslund, Chris Brogan and Jason Falls

Afterward, a group of us, including Brogan, Justin, Falls, Amber, Chris Hall and Greg Matthews, headed to the bar in the Seelbach for some drinks. Stuck with the Old Fashioned again. I spent most of the time talking shop with Brogan, Justin and the guys from Humana's Innovation Center.

I finished up the trip early the next morning by meeting Tom Osborne, Eric Roland and Kevin Brown for breakfast at Panera.

Hoping to convince Chris and Justin to bring the show to Columbus some time later this year.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Who crippled SlingPlayer for the iPhone?
After months of speculation and anticipation, Sling Media and Apple released SlingPlayer Mobile for the iPhone this week. The release, which should have been a big day for Slingbox owners like myself (I have 3), was overshadowed by the fact that the app would *not* be allowed to use AT&T's 3G network. Instead, it can only be used on a Wi-Fi network.

Bloggers and the Twitterati quickly jumped all over the story and blame landed squarely on AT&T. After all, they had tweaked, untweaked and retweaked their Terms of Service recently to place limitations on placeshifting. And, immediately following the release, they issued a statement via Engadget that said:

"Slingbox, which would use large amounts of wireless network capacity, could create congestion and potentially prevent other customers from using the network. The application does not run on our 3G wireless network. Applications like this, which redirect a TV signal to a personal computer, are specifically prohibited under our terms of service. We consider smartphones like the iPhone to be personal computers in that they have the same hardware and software attributes as PCs.

That said, we don't restrict users from going to a Web site that lets them view videos. But what our terms and conditions prohibit is the transferring, or slinging, of a TV signal to their personal computer or smartphone.

The Slingbox application for the iPhone runs on WiFi. That's good news for AT&T's iPhone 3G customers, who get free WiFi access at our 20,000 owned and operated hot spots in the U.S., including Starbucks, McDonalds, Barnes & Noble, hotels, and airports. AT&T is the industry leader in WiFi.

This caused many to assume that AT&T's 3G network couldn't handle all of the SlingPlayer traffic on their network. Of course, Slingplayer is already available for Blackberry and Windows Mobile on AT&T (I've used my SlingPlayer on AT&T's network for years without a problem), so that doesn't seem to be a valid reason.

Last night, I received an e-mail from Sling Media announcing the new iPhone app (and an overshadowed update to the Blackberry version). At the very bottom of that e-mail, Sling includes the following disclaimer:

Sling is blaming Apple for the Wi-Fi only SlingPlayer for iPhone

"* SlingPlayer Mobile for the iPhone is available as Wi-Fi only at Apple's request."

This morning, Gizmodo ran this article that claims insider knowledge of an upcoming i-Verse app from AT&T that would allow AT&T U-verse customers to placeshift their TV signal.

And let's not lose sight of the fact that Sling made an announcement a few weeks ago that owners of older Slingboxes could *not* use SlingPlayer for the iPhone. I'm sure many people upgraded their Slingbox in order to take advantage of the new app. Now, after the Wi-Fi outrage, Sling reveals that the iPhone app will support all Slingboxes. Sorry 'bout that, upgraders.

So, for those keeping score, bloggers and tweeple are blaming AT&T, AT&T is blaming Sling for violating AT&T's Sling-specific Terms of Service and Sling is blaming Apple.

As far as I'm concerned, they are all to blame. Regardless of the reason, they have all contributed to building up hype about a product that fails to meet the expectations of their customers.

I was actually considering upgrading to an iPhone this summer once their new (rumored) hardware is released. Having a Slingplayer app using that big, beautiful touchscreen was one of the primary reasons for that. Combine that with the $2,000 bill issue we just resolved and I have lost the main reason to go with the iPhone or stay with AT&T.
Monday, May 11, 2009
AT&T wants us to pay $2,000 for a $30 data plan we turned off [updated]
I struggled with the title for this post. I tried "AT&T hates their customers" and "AT&T's data plan scam," but those seemed too sensational. While I want to draw attention to this issue, I think the facts speak for themselves.

I've chronicled one of the many issues here, but there have been many little things over our 5 years as AT&T customers that continue to reinforce their anti-customer attitude. Unfortunately, most of the mishaps have occurred while we were under contract, so leaving would have been too expensive.

Today's most recent debacle, depending on how it is handled, may be enough to finally push us out the door.

Back in December, we turned off the unlimited data plan that I had been using on my Moto Q9h. We had been paying $30 per month for it, but it became unnecessary when I got a corporate Blackberry.

Prior to turning off the data plan, I had my phone set up with Gmail to pull my webmail down at some regular interval. Since I don't use my Moto Q9h for anything other than basic phone features, I hadn't been looking at the e-mail inbox. Didn't think I would needed to, right? After all, I don't have data service.

Turns out that turning off a data plan with AT&T doesn't actually disable it. It simply changes the rate at which they charge you for data.

So, today, we received a bill for over $2,000! The reason? Data usage... Seriously?

The source of our AT&T frustration. $2K? Really!?

Not only did AT&T allow my phone to access a service which I had told them to turn off, but 1) they didn't bother to alert me that I was using a premium service and 2) they didn't bill me at the old rate of $30 per month when they switched it back on.

If we asked AT&T to turn a feature off, it should be off. However, if they decided to turn it back on (which they shouldn't do without an opt-in of some sort), why wouldn't they do it at $30/mo.?

I keep refraining from calling this a "scam;" however, I can't think of any other word that fits.

Now, we're going round and round with customer service to get the charges reversed. Of course, if we can't resolve it, we are either forced to pay $2,000 for something we used to pay $30 for or face the penalty of having it show up on our credit report.

Who treats their customers like that?

We're currently waiting 5-7 days to hear if they are going to take off the charge or not. I'll post an update when I know more.

The funny thing is that I was considering sticking with AT&T (and re-upping my contract) when the new iPhone is released next month. With the rumors of an iPhone coming to Verizon, I might have another option.

[UPDATE 5/22] AT&T has corrected our $2,000 bill issue. Thx to all who provided comments and assistance.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
May is going be a busy month
It has been a busy few weeks, so I haven't been able to blog as much as I would have liked. As I look at my calendar for May, it looks to be a month filled with social media events, concerts and a very special birthday. Should make for plenty of hot blog action over the next 4 weeks.

Last night, I attended the Columbus Tweetup at Sandbox Columbus. Sandbox is a very cool co-working space in the Short North.

Sandbox Columbus
Photo courtesy of Sandbox Columbus. See more photos.

I saw some people I knew like Lewis Howes (we met at SXSWi) and Cheryl Harrison and made some new connections with Christian Adams, Mark Allen, Jim Pidcock and Jason Rubinstein.

On May 18th, I am going to be heading back to Louisville for a couple of events with Chris Brogan. First, I will be attending his Inbound Marketing Bootcamp at Humana. It is an all-day event covering blogging, lead gen, customer service and e-mail (among other things).

Later that night, Chris will be speaking at the Social Media Club of Louisville's May meeting. I'm looking forward to catching up with the Louisville crew, especially those that didn't make it down to SXSWi in March.

On May 21st, we will be hosting a series of events at Nationwide with Tavis Smiley.

Tavis Smiley and Jesse Jackson at 2009 State of the Black Union
Jesse Jackson and Tavis Smiley at the 2009 State of the Black Union. Photo courtesy of Nationwide. See more photos from SOBU 2009.

I am scheduled to interview Tavis, who was just named one of TIME's 100 Most Influential People, for one of the web projects we're doing to support our sponsorship. In addition to my own questions, I will be soliciting questions in advance from Twitter. If you have something you would like to ask Tavis, please leave a comment below or shoot me an e-mail at smorty71 at gmail dot com.

On May 27th, I will be attending the next Central Ohio Tweetup at Huntington Park, the new home of the Columbus Clippers.

Huntington Park
Huntington Park in Downtown Columbus. Photo courtesy of marada. See more of his photos of Huntington Park.

Much like the Tweetup at Ohio Stadium back in November, this one will feature a private tour of the new facility and access to the Club Level Patio before and during the game. You can register for the Tweetup here. Tickets are going fast, though.

On May 28th, I will be going to a sold-out show by one of my absolute favorite bands, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, at The Newport. This will be my first time seeing them live. I had tickets for a show a couple of years ago in Cincinnati, but I wasn't able to make it.

My favorite YYYs song happens to be one of Amy's least favorite songs of all-time.

On May 29th, Amy and I are going to see Jane's Addiction at Lifestyles Community Pavillion. We're both big Jane's fans, so it should be a good time.

We'll be capping off the month with Maddox's 2nd birthday on May 31st. Although we don't have any official plans for that yet, I am assuming we spend several nerve-rattling hours at Chuck E. Cheese.

About Shawn Morton

Married father of 6; VP of Social Media at JPMorgan Chase; gluten-free; gadget enthusiast; hair metal aficionado; #Movember man View more on LinkedIn.