Have You Tried Hypnotherapy On How To Stop A Panic Attack?

hythHypnotherapy has been tried and tested by many stop a panic attack. So has muscle relaxation techniques. How effective it is really depends on the individual. It is important to know the distinction between theory and practice. If you think it is enough to read about all the ways of how to stop a panic attack, you would be deluding yourself. Like everything else, you need to make it a part of your daily routine and practice these techniques until you become perfect at it. Then, the next time you sense a panic attack coming on; you will know what to do at the right time.

Many people do not know when they are beginning to panic and wait until it is a full blown attack. By then, their reactions are dictated by panic and not very rational. In the process, they lose control of the incident and no amount of knowledge on how to stop a panic attack can be of help. Breathing exercises are simple enough to practice on a daily basis. It only takes a few minutes and the location does not really matter. Finding a corner for some peace and quiet in order to practice your breathing should be of paramount importance. Once you have that corner, make yourself comfortable and start breathing consciously. It will start working for you.

Find Material Online On How To Stop A Panic Attack

There is a plethora of books telling you how to stop a panic attack. You will be able to pick any one of them at any store and gather some much-needed information. Each of the books will have a huge list of tips and you can try them out at leisure. This might be more effective if you manage to find a few that you actually believe will work for you. Each person has a different level of threshold for anxiety. Therefore, the same technique may not work on all equally. In addition, it is important to first understand what triggers your panic attack. That is the only you will learn how to stop a panic attack. You have to prepare to counter such an attack well in advance so that you can ward off any state of anxiety.

Above all, a little positive thinking never hurt anyone. Believe in yourself and your ability to overcome the anxiety challenge. That way, whatever you learn on how to stop a panic attack will only be more effective. This is an elementary step to take in order to change anything you do not like about your life or your reactions to life’s events.


Drinking In Advertising Wisdom

“Advertising pays, but it’s difficult to determine what methods to use,” says Dennis Henderson at Millstream Brewing. “Everyone says their venue is best–but you never know.”

The following article discusses media usage and effectiveness, product focus, population target segments, and the role of celebrities in advertising among four types of beverage manufacturers–soft drink, juice, water, and alcohol-related products.

The agency edge

diaAt 8 percent of revenue, soft drink manufacturers lead the pack in dollars set aside for advertising. Moreover, at 74 percent, soft drink manufacturers are more likely than any other type of facility to use an advertising agency.

Results show that one in three manufacturers plan to increase their advertising budget in 2000. “I find that when commercials have a catchy jingle or a funny theme it seems to attract more attention and brings us more sales,” says Marie Caserman at Sparkletts.

Almost half the beverage manufacturers in the West and Northeast are increasing their advertising budgets. “[We] see spikes in volume when we’re being aggressive with our advertising. When we slack off, the sales go down,” says Bill Garty at Veryfine Products. On the other hand, 86 percent of manufacturers in the Midwest are sticking to their 1999 budgets.

At less than 5 percent of revenue, the advertising budget at bear/wine-makers is lower than the budgets reported at other types of facilities. “A large part of our advertising is done through the Wine Growers Association,” says Judy Masters at Retzlaff Winery.

New product advertising

As Beverage Industry’s R&D Survey demonstrated and this survey confirms, new products are key among soft drink and juice manufacturers. Juice manufacturers invest $0.27 of each advertising dollar for new product launches and soft drink manufacturers invest $0.21.

Existing products consume $0.70 of each advertising dollar at bottled water and beer/wine facilities.

Calling all young

Two-thirds of soft drink, juice, and beer/wine manufacturers target their beverage products to specific population segments. At bottled water facilities, however, a target audience is generally less important. Soft drink manufacturers typically target young men and women, teens through 35 years old, in advertising. On the other hand, juice processors target diverse segments. Although young men and women are important, families, mothers and health-oriented consumers have caught the eye of 40 percent of juice processors.

“Advertising [has impact] if it’s geared to the target audience,” says Steve Kovack at McCain Citrus. One manufacturer explains that the target audience may not be the focus of advertising: “Children are our biggest market but advertising is geared to parents.”

Most beer/wine makers target men and women aged 21 to 35 years old. However, this survey shows a high interest among wine/beer manufactures in targeting both sports-oriented individuals and upper income earners. Surprisingly, 10 percent target men exclusively.

Advertising media varies

Use of Advertising media varies by type of facility. Soft drink manufacturers consider POP display the most effective advertising medium. Juice manufacturers prefer printed media. On the other hand, two-thirds of bottled water manufacturers are banking on event sponsorship. Unlike other manufacturers, beer/wine-makers demonstrate a high web investment.

Marty Zirofsky, Northeast division vice president at South Beach Beverages, says “You can’t see the results [of advertising] immediately–but the end results are what’s important: we have seen a big increase in brand awareness.”

Maximize the impulse purchase

POP display is more likely to be used by soft drink manufacturers than any other type of manufacturer. “The biggest thing is getting the message to the in-store customer by advertising in the stores,” says John Gilbert at Pepsi-Cola Bottling. Reflecting the impulse nature of soft drink purchases, three out of four manufacturers use POP display/trucks/store signage for advertising, which they rate very highly in terms of effectiveness. POP display commands $0.22 of each advertising dollar at soft drink manufacturers.

Although soft drink manufacturers rate TV very highly effective at “3.6” (where “5” is highest and “1” is lowest), few can afford to use this medium. In fact, this study shows that larger manufacturers find TV more effective than smaller ones. For example, multinational companies rate TV effectiveness “4” whereas smaller manufacturers give it a “2.8.” However, if TV is in the budget, “the benefits of national advertising are subliminal,” says Thomas Geocaris at Pepsi-Cola.

Radio and event sponsorship advertising are considered effective by two-thirds of soft drink manufacturers and command $0.10 of the advertising dollar. Web advertising, used by 55 percent of soft drink manufacturers, received an average rating for effectiveness.

Financially speaking, the Web seems a good investment for soft drink manufacturers. It consumes $0.04 of the soft drink advertising dollar and achieves an above average rating for effectiveness. On the other hand, it is possible that traditional media are being employed to advertise Web sites and that this survey, therefore, has not truly captured the cost of Web advertising.

Printed media, used by most soft drink manufacturers, received a low rating for effectiveness. However, other types of manufacturers find print most suitable. Juice manufacturers, for example, rate print 3.7 out of 5 and this compares to 2.8 out of 5 for soft drink manufactures.

“Advertising stimulates our sales by 15 to 20 percent without doing anything else to promote our business,” says Patrick Stungill, sales manager, Tri City Beverage Corp.

Juice favors print media

In which medium should juice manufacturers advertise? Print media — magazines, publications, or newspapers — seems to be the answer. Print media commands $0.41 of the advertising dollar from juice manufacturers. Also, compared to other types of facilities, juice manufacturers rate print media very high in effectiveness.

Generally speaking, juice manufacturers find all advertising media pretty effective. “Advertising has a direct relationship to sales–we can see sales double after an ad,” says Steve Moore, co-owner, RD Mountain Bottling.

Like soft drink manufacturers, juice processors consider POP display a most effective medium setting aside $0.23 of their advertising dollar for this medium. “In-store displays are the most effective advertising because you have your product and consumers together,” explains Holly Newberry, marketing director, at Florida Bottling.

Event sponsorship/trade shows and billboards are rated highly by juice processors for effectiveness and account for $0.14 of the advertising dollar. Radio, used by 44 percent of juice received an above average rating and command $0.13 of the advertising dollar. The Internet, however, is considered least effective for juice manufacturers.

Water bottlers like event marketing

Two-thirds, the highest percent usage among all types of facilities, of water bottlers use event sponsorship / trade shows for advertising. For effectiveness, bottlers rate it 3.6 out of 5 and allocate $0.14, the highest amount among all types of facilities, of their advertising dollar toward event sponsorship.

Gary McNeil, general manager, at D’Angelo Natural Spring Water, points out a very important advertising strategy: “Our business is built on word-of-mouth and satisfaction from our customers. Our satisfied customers fill out referral cards and are rewarded with two free bottles of water and that generates sales.”

POP display was rated extremely high, 4.3 out of 5, for effectiveness by water bottlers. Also, water bottlers allocate $0.23 of their advertising dollar to POP display. Another priority is printed media, which commands $0.27 of the advertising dollar.

Although most water bottling facilities, 57 percent, have a Web site, Web advertising received the lowest rating of all in terms of effectiveness. On the other hand, radio advertising, employed by 55 percent, received an above average rating for effectiveness.

Double duty corks

“Putting our Web address on our cork increases our exposure to the public and awareness of our winery,” says Judy Masters at Retzlaff Winery. Two-thirds of beer/wine-makers are advertising on the Internet, which commands $0.13 of their advertising dollar–the highest allocation for the Internet in the industry. “With, so many new opportunities out there for advertising, such, as Web sites, this is a very exciting time,” says Jean DeLuca, director of public relations, at Merryvale Vineyards.

In fact, POP display, the darling advertising medium among other manufacturers, receives less of the advertising dollar than the Internet at beer/wine facilities. However, like juice manufacturers, print advertising sips $0.50 of the advertising dollar at beer/wine facilities.

Radio and event sponsorship are used by about 45 percent of beer/wine makers and command $0.21 of their advertising dollar. Expensive TV advertising, though rated high for effectiveness, is rarely used. Billboards and flyers are used by about 20 percent of beer/wine-makers and are considered the least effective media.

On seasons and sports

Summer, especially June and July, is the most important advertising time for soft drinks, juices, and waters. December, however, is the most important advertising month for beer and wine. Moreover, except for the first three months of the year, all months are good for advertising alcohol-related products.

Multinationals are more likely than smaller manufacturers to use celebrities in advertising and their preference is for sports personalities.

Nevertheless, all manufacturers were asked to name the celebrity they would choose to represent their company in advertising — regardless of cost. Mirroring reality, sports personalities appeared at the top of the wish list; namely Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and Arnold Palmer. One in four manufacturers wished for a movie star, specifically Julia Roberts, Arnold Schwartzenegger, Harrison Ford and Sophia Loren. Just less than 20 percent wished for TV celebrities, Oprah Winfrey being at the top of that list.


Need To Lose Weight? Easy… If You’re Not Lazy

ntlweGary Gardner, co-author with Brian Halweil of Underfed and Overfed: The Global Epidemic of Malnutrition, says, “The hungry and the overweight share high levels of sickness and disability, shortened life expectancies, and lower levels of productivity — each of which is a drag on a country’s development.” These authors point out some frightening statistics: in the U.S., 55 percent of adults are overweight by international standards, 23 percent of American adults are considered obese, and one-in-five American children are classified as overweight. They note that obesity is much to blame for chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, which plague our society.

In terms of solutions, the authors suggest, “In nations where overeating is a problem, policymakers need a different set of tools. All too often, technofixes like liposuction or olestra attract more attention than the behavioral patterns like poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyles that underlie obesity.”

Their solution? In nations where overeating is a problem, they suggest that policymakers have a different set of tools. They advocate for nutrition education, beginning in schools. They also call for taxation, suggesting, “Fatty and sugary foods low in nutrients and high in calories would be taxed the most, while fruits and vegetables might escape taxation entirely.”

Why are Americans eating more and exercising less?

Is it simply rebellion or is there some other reason why Americans seem to be reversing the advice of “Eat less, exercise more,” to “Eat more, exercise less”?

The authors of a recent report published in Public Health Report state that “national action” is necessary, saying, “Public health officials need to recognize that when it comes to obesity, our society’s environment is `toxic.’ They believe that the American society is designed to encourage people to overeat and remain inactive, thereby encouraging obesity.

The authors, Marion Nestle, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at New York University and Michael F. Jacobson, Ph.D., executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) stress that “prevention” is the best medicine against obesity, and that such prevention “requires changes in individual behavioral patterns as well as eliminating environmental barriers to healthy food choices and active lifestyles…. “They note that efforts to control obesity by focusing simply on the individual have failed and offer these suggestions instead:

* Use media campaigns: “Media advertising should be a vital part of any campaign to reduce obesity through promotion of positive changes in behaviors.” Such behaviors include eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains; switching to lower-fat meat and/or dairy products; eating fewer hamburgers and steaks; and drinking water instead of soda. They say that such campaigns can be “remarkably effective.”

* Discourage TV watching and junk-food advertising: “Anti-obesity measures need to address television watching, a major sedentary activity as well as one that exposes viewers to countless commercials for high-calorie foods.” They report that the average American child between the ages of 8 and 18 watches more than three hours of television daily, plus three or four hours with other media (such as computers)– that’s as much as seven sedentary hours a day! They recommend that both government and private organizations sponsor an annual ‘No TV Week’ “to remind people that life is possible, even better, with little or no television.” What to do with all that free time? Engage in physical and social activities that burn up calories, of course. They also recommend that advertisements for “junk food” be banned on television shows directed at children younger than 10 years of age.

* Promote physical activity: The government should also step in to help make physical activity more feasible. They can do this by providing incentives for communities to build safe bicycle paths and jogging trails, as well as more public swimming pools, tennis courts and ball fields. Rules favoring sidewalks and traffic-free areas in residential and commercial locations would also encourage people to walk rather than drive, as would safety protection for streets, parks and playgrounds. In addition, it is suggested that incentives be provided to encourage people to choose mass transit over private cars — good for our waistlines and the environment.

* Reach children through the schools. Bring back gym! “Physical education should again be required, preferably on a daily basis, to encourage students to expend energy and to help them develop life-long enjoyment of jogging, playing sports, swimming and other low-cost activities.” They also suggest that school boards be encouraged to resist the marketing efforts of companies selling soda and high-calorie, low-nutrient snacks in schools. Congress should also get involved in supporting more healthful school meals by insisting that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) get tougher and set stricter limits on the sale of foods that are high in calories, fat and sugar in schools. Although it is not suggested in this paper, making an effort to serve more organic foods in our schools would be a big step toward improving our children’s health, too.

* Adjust food prices. The authors cite research published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association which suggests that cutting the prices of fruits and vegetables in vending machines and school cafeterias in half could result in a doubling of sales.

Funding. Nestle and Jacobson realize that their proposals would not be cheap. However, they point out that the costs of direct health care and lost productivity resulting from the consequences of obesity have been estimated at 5.7 percent of total U.S. health care expenditures, or $52 billion in 1995 dollars. Not cheap either. So, the question is, can we afford to not take action?

To fund their recommendations, they, like the authors of the previously discussed study, suggest taxation. Here are some hypothetical taxes which they estimate would generate revenues of about $1 billion per year:

– a 2/3-percent tax per 12 oz. on soft drinks;

– a 5 percent tax on new televisions and video equipment;

– a $65 tax on each new motor vehicle; or an extra penny tax per gallon of gas.

So, is the mantra, “Eat less, exercise more,” still a satisfactory answer to the question, “What’s the best way to lose weight?” Yes, but this goal may be more achievable if we live in a society that encourages these goals, rather that sabotages them.


Smart Marketing Is, Well, Smarter

What if I told you there’s a new way to market? One that will obsolete the old methods. That will bring about vast fortunes for those who understand it. Failure for those who don’t.

Big words, I know. Give me a few minutes and I think I can prove it. As is so often the case, to understand where we’re headed, you merely have to remember where we’ve been.

Golden Spikes vs. Golden Cables

smOne hundred and thirty years ago, the pounding of a golden spike memorialized an event of enormous consequence. An event awaited with eager anticipation by an entire nation–the completion of the transcontinental railroad.

Several decades ago, an event of similar magnitude occurred, this time without fanfare. But it should have been celebrated. It should have been commemorated with a “golden cable,” because it marked the completion of a transcontinental (soon to be global) computer network.

That first network–the railroad–brought new possibilities. As the years passed, entrepreneurs gained two key insights. First, the railroads provided reliable transportation of physical goods. From anywhere. To anywhere. Now you could take advantage of economies of scale. Now you could build big factories and ship the products anywhere.

Provided–and here comes the second insight–provided you were hooked up to the railroad. People became immensely rich just by buying land along the right of way. Cities without a railroad spur withered away.

As these implications became clear, the Industrial Revolution–which had flourished in Europe for nearly 100 years–finally jumped the Atlantic. At the close of the century, the U.S. underwent a dramatic transformation. In the space of just two or three decades, it went from a nation of small businesses to a country dominated by giant corporations–many of which still prosper today.

Deja Vu All Over Again?

Remember that history lesson, because we’re about to live it again. We’re just now realizing the two key insights of the golden cable. First, the computer network allows reliable transportation of intellectual products. From anywhere. To anywhere. Second, to flourish in this era, you must be on the network.

Conclusion: Intellectual goods and services have been set free. By that I mean intellectual goods such as radio programming, which was previously trapped by the strength of a broadcast signal. Or text-based content, previously limited by the expense of printing words on paper.

Just as before, it has taken decades for these ideas to sink in. Now they’re coming clear. And now, we will undergo the Digital Revolution. A revolution that will create powerful new companies and change everything along the way. How we do business. How we educate our children. How we govern ourselves. How we market.

Oh yeah. You betcha. Marketers are not immune. You’re in for a revolution too. Marketing models that worked for decades are crumbling. New ones are taking their place. One such method is “spiral marketing.”

Spiral Marketing

Spiral marketing combines different media to create a more powerful, pervasive message. Not a novel idea, surely, but now we can do it in a new way. We can combine media into a “virtuous circle,” where each feeds the next, funneling customers around the circle.

The key to spiral marketing is to use each medium to its highest and best use. Let’s start by dividing media into three categories:

   a) Passive: television, radio, print b) Active: the web c) Interactive:

Now, let’s send customers around this virtuous circle, from passive to active to interactive. Let’s start with TV and the other passive media, which are great for getting attention and stimulating interest. Because they offer the power and richness of image, they are the best places to link brand to emotion. And to send people where you want them to go next–namely, to the web.

The web is where you translate interest into involvement. The web lets customers get something done. Design a garden. Track a package shipment. Order a custom-fit shirt. As they do those tasks, they transform prospects to customers. To a known quantity (you are profiling all your web visitors, right? Riiiight!?!) As you help them with their tasks, you are extending your message through “service branding”–where the relationship continues to define and emphasize your core image.

Now it’s time to close the circle. And here’s where we bump into a common mistake. The most important thing to collect at a web site is the email name and permission to mail. Once you have that, you can use email to translate the involvement into interaction. You can begin a dialog. Email them to offer add-ons and accessories. Present upgrade opportunities. Ask for their feedback.

And with email, you can invite them back to TV, print and radio. Or back to the web. Thereby sending them around the spiral again. Each time around, deepening the one-to-one relationship. Learning more about their habits and preferences. Making it harder and harder for them to switch to a competitor, because it’s easier and easier to do business with you.

You see how it works? Each media type has a role to play:

   Passive - Active - Interactive Interest - Involvement - Interaction Content
   - Convenience - Communication

Spiral Marketing in Action

Many market leaders use spiral marketing with a vengeance–whether they know their tactics by that name or not. Accuweather, for instance, provides weather forecasts to leading TV and radio stations, usually under a private label. (It provides forecasts for CNN, for instance.) Increasingly, those on-air forecasts remind people to visit a web site.

Once at the web site, they are invited to get email forecasts at their convenience. By the time you read this, Accuweather expects to have email systems in place that also remind people when to catch the next updated forecast on TV.

Around and around the spiral.

Amazon.com uses TV to get attention and send people to the web. But it doesn’t end with a web purchase. The company routinely emails customers with announcements, discounts, suggestions and other incentives to return to the web again. TV starts the process. Then the loop circles from web to email to web to email to …

Two examples of spiral marketing from the dozens and dozens already at work.

What’s Next?

My spiral marketing concept is a crude analogy for real life. Sophisticated marketers use a wide variety of “media.” Trade shows. Seminars. Training. Even such things as market research and publicity can be construed as part of the marketing mix.

You can use each medium to send customers to another one, bouncing back and forth, each time reinforcing your message and your relationship. At Ziff-Davis, we often call this “media weaving.”

But, eventually, we want to get people to the web. Where we can get their email address and permission to mail. (I shouldn’t have to say this, but just in case: There is absolutely no spamming allowed.) The web and email are the keys, the New Era developments that give us all the power to close the loop with our beloved customers.

The message is clear and simple. Stop wasting your media impressions with vague image advertising or unfocused campaigns. Direct them to the web. Grab them with valuable services. Email them with useful offers and reminders. And start them around the spiral again.

And that leads me back to where I started. To what I believe is the central rule for marketing success in the Digital Era: If you want to get ahead, you have to go in circles.


Brand Awareness Campaigns Knock It Out Of The Park

For some reason, too many marketers these days justify their existence based on “brand awareness” or “brand recall” numbers. I’m inundated with presentations featuring such metrics, which have by now become irrelevant. In too many cases brand awareness is merely a reflection of how much money you spend, and with mediocre media buying skills, you’ll get results. No wonder management is throwing up on those glitzy ad campaigns. They know the fundamental marketing question has changed. No longer is it. “Have I heard of you?” it’s, “Why should I do business with you?”

backWhile having awareness is still a component of any successful plan, awareness runs out of gas. Today’s marketing needs to respond to the notion of brand preference, or even minimally, consideration.

You see, way too many ad campaigns are little more than glorified billboards running on expensive media platforms. Is it more important. that 1,000 teachers know your name, or that the 10 tech buyers in the school districts prefer to do business with you?

The genesis of this situation is easy to analyze. Brand awareness worked in the past because the purchase process was driven by differentiation in technologies or products offered to knowledgeable customers. The marketer only had to make sure the brand was known, so that the customer would think there was an infrastructure behind the product, which, by the way, he researched himself. So the equation was known: Let product features do the talking. That worked great until 1997.

And while much of this buying practice still goes on, it’s not the only game in town. In fact, it’s almost impossible to rely on such tactics at this stage of the market. Other “outside of the box” aspects are becoming key differentiation points. As such, traditional marketing programs must trumpet new differentiation points because buyers aren’t researching the way they used to. In addition, many new differentiation points don’t have the kind of hard specs that products do. For example, how friendly should your Gateway “friend in the business” be?

So what should tech marketers do to create more than awareness? The issue becomes a reaffirmation of some aspect of the driving strategy of the firm. Every company in tech has some aspect of the firm (customer service, pricing, industrial design, ease of use, or customer relationship management) that they do at a world class level. Sometimes we use the trite phrase “core competency” to describe it. Whatever that aspect, it needs to become the center of why a customer should “prefer” or “consider” you as a vendor.

A great example is Dell’s “Be Direct.” It doesn’t talk about speeds and feeds, but rather, the message is a reaffirmation of a corporate focus on the direct model. Further, the campaign allows the company to be seen as more than just a PC vendor. That kind of foresight is critical as Dell’s reliance on PC sales gets replaced by sales of new items through Gigabuys and other new groups.

The other stellar example is IBM’s eBusiness initiative. Much as I’ve never been a fan of IBM marketing, the reality is eBusiness has put IBM in the center of the next huge opportunity. While the products may not be barn burners, that hasn’t hurt Big Blue’s percentage of deal wins; nor has it hurt its position in terms of being a preferred vendor for Internet applications. In fact, the program relies on great customer services and relationships rather than products.

The reality is that marketing programs should be judged on how well they help a company sell its wares. After all, with lower margins and lower growth, there can be no disconnect between marketing and sales. The need for top-line growth has to be a critical focus, and to achieve growth, we need to tell customers why they want to buy from us and stay with us. To say it bluntly, revenue growth and share gain have to be the key metrics for marketing. Brand awareness measures aren’t worth spit.


Truth And Lies In Advertising

taliaThere was a supermarket in my hometown that used to drive me crazy. They’d advertise low, low prices–real bargains, compared to competitors. But then, you’d notice this small note at the bottom of the ad: Plus 10%. (Or worse, you’d discover it when you went to check out that “We have to add 10% to your total.”) So what started out looking like a great bargain turned out to be not much different than you would have gotten at any of the other stores.

Now, I wouldn’t have minded so much if that 10% actually meant something. Like, “We just show our wholesale price on the shelf or ad,” and then they have to add overhead and profit on top. That would explain the 10%. But that lower price wasn’t their wholesale price at all. It was just a number set by the store. So what was it there for, if not to try to mislead you while you shopped into thinking that that would be the price you would pay?

We all hate finding the “gotchas” in modern advertising, the little asterisks that indicate your mileage will vary. Sometimes it can’t be helped. But many times it can be helped, like when someone offers you a free week in Hawaii but you have to buy a high-priced airline ticket to get it. Don’t be surprised when the ticket is the same price as the air/hotel package would be from a reputable agent.

Unfortunately in our IT world, we suffer from the same thing. But rarely do we even get the subtly placed asterisk that at least sets the suspicious shopper on guard. Too often we are left with unqualified, misleading performance numbers that don’t help us in making an educated choice in the market.

For example, a recent Microsoft press release loudly proclaimed that “Windows 2000 Professional is the fastest Windows yet.” It supported this with independent tests from Ziff-Davis Labs. Certainly seems straightforward enough. Seems like a solid vote for the newest MS OS.

However, the Ziff-Davis report doesn’t say this. In fact, the report actually draws the opposite conclusion. It states, “We found that Windows NT 4.0 provided slightly better performance than Windows 2000.” Now, we could quibble about the added advantages of Win2K as a platform, but there can’t be much argument that the ZD report says one thing while MS proclaims another, citing the same. Who does that kind of hype help?

In our optical world, we suffer consistently from the deceptive nomenclature attached to CAV CD-ROM drives. No consumer I know understands what the “Max” in “40X Max” means. Why can’t we simply state the drive’s average speed? If the drive only reads at 40X the last available 3MB of a CD-ROM disc–where there’s rarely any data–why can’t we explain it better as 15X with a Burst Mode to 40X for the last 3MB?

Every gaming fan to whom I have shown the Kenwood TrueX drive adores it [see review, January 1999, pp. 58-61]. Gamers love the consistently high throughput that the Kenwood provides. Not one wanted to go back to the cheapo drives with their 15X mean performance. But until I showed them the drive, only one understood what TrueX was or why those Brand X CAV CD-ROM drives don’t give a full 40X.

Finally, where are we with DVD-RAM numbers? One would think from reading vendor info that DVD-RAM drives write at a full 1.35MB/sec. But that ain’t so.

While it may be possible to write a premastered image file to DVD-RAM at that speed, most files aren’t written at that speed, and most file systems don’t typically use 2.7GB files. Most files are much smaller; in that case, the drive is much slower.

It is slower because it takes longer to do many small writes with DVD-RAM (or CD-RW, for that matter). In Windows, Mac, and Unix, writing to disc involves not one but two operations: recording the data, and recording the data’s location in a table at the start of the disc.

The optical write head is much heavier than the magnetic one in a hard disk, so seek times are much slower (by almost a factor of 10). Since each recording involves two seeks–one to record data and one to record the data’s location–this slows the recording process considerably. Since data is recorded in small blocks, there are many seeks for every file. This means that recording DVD-RAM must be farther off its advertised speed than magnetic. But by how much?

In our tests, using a Toshiba SD-W1101 DVD-RAM drive on a Windows workstation, we weren’t able to do better than 450-500KB/sec, barely 1/3 the write speed spec’d for the drive. (It didn’t matter much in the results what block size we used, although at 2K the RAM drive bottomed out at 250-300KB/sec.) This is significantly less than the 1.35MB/sec figure that one might be counting on when buying a drive.

It isn’t that we’d like to see lists of asterisks on the side of every box. Nor do we expect vendors to display the worst performance possible for their devices either. But it would be nice when we invest in a given technology to know what the performance ratings mean. After all, if Linux, Windows, and Mac file systems all record similarly, wouldn’t it be enough to look for solutions that record at a given figure, at least for those platforms?

While standalone users might tolerate poorer results from the latest technology, few network administrators can. Not when the purchases are for hundreds of units and the complaints might be in the hundreds as well. We simply won’t get a budget next year if that’s the case.