Monday, December 28, 2009

A good time to look ahead, not back.

This is a time when many news organizations present end of the year stories, or in this case, end of the decade.

I remember as a kid looking forward to the new century. Back then the year 2000 seemed so far away.

There have been some rough, make that awful, times since the big ball in Times Square dropped, not the least of which was 9/11. Then the economic crash. We’re at war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Many around the world, and sadly some here at home, are writing off this nation. Our time on the world stage is over, they say.

I don’t buy any of that for a minute. The United States of America was, is and will remain the most powerful, prosperous and—most importantly—generous nation in the world.

Truth be known, we remain the envy of most of the world.

Can we do better? You bet. It can begin with our own government, where votes might as well be sold on eBay®. Bitter and petty partisanship must end. Immediately if not sooner.

Ultimately, it’s us who live along Main Street, USA who will carry on. We remain a nation of great people and problem solvers.

Just a few weeks ago we teamed up with a group of parents, educators and businesses to provide 130 computers and Video Professor lessons to deserving kids in Brooklyn, New York. As a result, kids who would have been on the wrong side of the digital divide are sitting at home with computers, learning and communicating. We didn’t need the government to help us make it happen, just the willingness to work together to make a difference.

So I remain optimistic about this nation’s future. Look back at our history. Seismic events throughout our history have simply made us stronger, as people and as a nation.

It’s with that spirit that I wish each and every one of you a most prosperous and happy new year.

John W. Scherer
John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.
You can reach him at

Monday, December 21, 2009

Is Santa real? I have proof!

There always seems to be some discussion this time of year about whether or not there is a Santa. The naysayers tend to be Grinch-like personalities.

So I did some checking to set the record straight once and for all.

I didn’t have to go any further than the Newseum in Washington, D.C. It’s a great place that honors the best traditions of journalism and those who did, and continue, to practice them. If it’s in the Newseum, it’s fact. Period.

They list an article that, to me, is absolute proof that Santa does exist. It all started when a young girl named Virginia wrote into New York's The Sun back in 1897. Apparently, some of her friends had been telling her there was no such person as Santa Claus. Concerned, she wrote a letter to the editor, and this was the response she received:

VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! He lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Francis Pharcellus Church
The Sun

So there you have it, proof directly from the Newseum itself. Santa does exist. (Was there ever any doubt?)

Ho Ho Ho!

John W. Scherer
John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.

You can reach him at

Monday, December 14, 2009

NASA can learn from NASCAR.

I’ve been reading about entrepreneur extraordinaire Richard Branson who, along with engineer extraordinaire Burt Rutan, is building a commercial space facility in New Mexico.

Starting as early as 2011, you’ll be able to take a short suborbital hop for $200,000. Hundreds of folks have already placed deposits for a flight 70 miles above the earth and five minutes of zero-G.

The Russians will take you up to the International Space Station for $20 million.

All these prices are out of reach for most of us, but the bottom line is … the bottom line. Making money off space travel.

This leads me to wonder why NASA hasn’t gotten on the bandwagon. Theirs is a constant fight with Congress for budgeting. As they said in the movie "The Right Stuff," “No bucks, no Buck Rogers.”

There are ads on everything these days from busses to stadiums to race cars. Why not the space shuttle, or whatever next generation rocket comes along? Can you imagine what some companies would pay to have their brand on the side of a spaceship? Or on space suits?

Hey, it works just fine for NASCAR, so why not NASA?

Space exploration is important. It’s in our nature to want to explore to see what’s over the next hill or the next planet.

Why not earn a little advertising revenue along the way? Or would that make too much sense? Tax dollars are hard to come by these days and the voters are getting restless.


John W. Scherer

John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.

You can reach him at

Monday, December 07, 2009

Dec. 7, 1941. A day that still lives in infamy.

Sixty-eight years ago, Pearl Harbor was attacked. A sneak attack by the Empire of Japan. The Pacific Fleet was essentially wiped out. Thousands died.

America was at war.

It all ended in Tokyo Harbor aboard the USS Missouri in 1945. The fighting in between, both in the Pacific and Europe, was horrendous and the cost enormous.

American didn’t start it, but they finished it with victory.

Should your travels allow, visit Pearl Harbor and tour the USS Missouri and USS Arizona. In Europe, visit the beaches of Normandy. Feel the history; embrace the sacrifice.

Back then, battle lines were clearly defined, as was the enemy. They flew flags and wore uniforms.

Today we’re at war in Iraq and Afghanistan. We wear uniforms. Our enemies don’t. There are no battle lines, and often those we fight come in from other countries then escape back over some border to regroup and fight again.

As with all wars, the cost is high. Too high. But we pay it.

Like World War II, we didn’t start this war either. But we will finish it. With honor.

How victory will be measured is something entirely different.

After winning World War II we re-built Japan and Europe. What was once the enemy is now an ally.

It’s much different now.

But on this day, let’s remember what happened over the skies of Pearl Harbor those many years ago. Let’s remember that there are people in this world who want to destroy us and everything we stand for. They are dangerous and not to be taken for granted.

Let us remember this day and every day that it’s brave men and women who step up to finish the fight someone else started.

Let’s never, ever apologize for doing so.


John W. Scherer

John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.

You can reach him at

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

A Tiger’s Tale

Golf fans, (which include me) and non-golf fans alike were stunned to hear the news that golfer Tiger Woods was “seriously injured” in an early morning car accident outside his home.

A short time later we heard he had been treated and released from the hospital and returned home. End of story? Nope.

As for the accident itself, police reports say it involved him leaving his home early in the morning, hitting a fire hydrant, then a tree. He suffered some facial injuries as a result. Police found him lying on the ground, his wife with him saying she used a golf club to break out the windows of the car to help Tiger get out of the car.

Then the Rumor Express left the station.

I won’t repeat any of them because I don’t know if they’re true. Stuff posted on blogs and other websites, were quoted by “traditional” news outlets. Stories began with the word “Rumor.”

Winston Churchill wrote years ago that, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”

Now the call is for Tiger to come clean. He did make a statement about the issue on his website. But almost everyone feels he should make a full and open public statement.

All that the law requires is he show his driver’s license and proof of insurance. He did that.

Personally, I think whatever Tiger says, or doesn’t say, simply fuels the fires of the blogosphere. Because of his celebrity, all bets are off about what is written or said about him.

Tiger is in a rough spot. If he says something, many will run with it and have a field day. If he leaves it with his website statement, many will run with it and have a field day.

Darned if he does, darned if he doesn’t.

Churchill nailed it.


John W. Scherer

John Scherer is CEO and Founder of Video Professor, Inc.

You can e-mail him at

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Time for Thanks

This week families gather for Thanksgiving. It’s been a tough year in so many ways, but there remains so much to be thankful for.

Not the least of which are the freedoms we enjoy to gather, to speak our minds and to live and work in peace.

Let’s be thankful for the men and women of our armed forces who have volunteered to protect these freedoms, often making the supreme sacrifice in doing so. Remember them this week and every week.

Let’s be thankful for so many organizations that help out the needy who otherwise might go hungry or without warm clothing or shelter. Whatever you can spare to help these organizations in your community will be greatly appreciated. The need is bigger now than ever before.

Thanks to our own employees here at Video Professor, Inc. who, through their Seasons club, organize an annual food drive for a local nonprofit, the Jefferson County Action Center, which gives out two tons of food a day to the needy. As soon as the food drive is over, they start work on gathering gifts for the Salvation Army Angel Tree Program. I know so many of you are involved in similar projects where you live.

Americans are so generous, and they don’t get nearly enough credit for it. But you don’t give for recognition; you give because you care.

Let’s be thankful for technology and social web sites like Facebook® that allow us to hook up with new friends—and catch up with old friends—to share pictures, videos and what’s going on in our lives.

While many of us will get a few days off to enjoy the holiday, there will be police, firefighters, doctors, nurses and so many others who will be on duty. Let’s be thankful for their dedication and service.

Finally, let’s all be thankful for the spirit that is uniquely American. This nation has gone through tougher times before and has always snapped back. We are a nation of great people.

Yes, there is so much to be thankful for.

I wish you, your family, your friends and colleagues a most happy Thanksgiving 2009.


John W. Scherer

John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.

You can reach him at

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Water Cooler now has a plug.

There once was a time, especially in the workplace, where the water cooler or coffee pot (depending on one’s needs) was the center of conversation, usually Monday mornings.

It was a place to share news and gossip as we “gathered around the water cooler.” The water coolers and coffee pots still exist, but just to serve beverages. Talk and gossip have moved online to web sites like Facebook® and Twitter®. Business-style discussions and exchanges of opinion can be found on sites like LinkedIn®.

It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t use these sites. We all create our own circle of friends, peak in at others, find old friends and make new ones.

Instead of pulling pictures from our wallets, we post them online. We don’t have to tune in to blooper shows anymore on television because we can post them online instead.

When it comes to sports trash-talking, there’s nothing like Web 2.0!

One colleague here keeps her Facebook circle of friends pretty much limited to friends from her school days. “It’s like having a class reunion every day” she said. It’s the best description I’ve heard about social media.

There is a dark side to all this, however. People have a tendency to say things online, especially anonymously or using a pretend identity, that they wouldn’t say to your face. Others will try and exploit their “friendship” with you for personal gain, or even more nefarious activities.

Generally, it’s all pretty terrific but, like anything else, look both ways before you cross any digital road. Pick and choose your friends wisely. Always remember that once you post something online, it’s out there pretty much forever.

Part of the HR process these days when evaluating potential hires is searching these sites to get a sense of who you are. Keep that in mind before hitting the Submit button.

Like anything else, when used properly and responsibly, these electronic versions of water coolers are great fun.

Let’s hope it stays that way.

John W. Scherer
John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.
You can reach him at

Monday, November 09, 2009

College Football and Computers: A BCS Mess

There’s hardly a part of your life where computer skills can’t help you be better at what you do, both at the office and at home. We’ve been teaching just that for 22 years here at Video Professor.

With one exception, however: college football.

For the life of me, I cannot figure out how computers should factor into who should, and who shouldn’t, play for the national championship. The folks at the Bowl Championship Series do, however, and it provides no small amount of grist for sports pundits, reporters et al.

The BCS combines a labyrinth of polls and computer rankings to decide the best teams in the land, and who should play for the various games in the Bowl Championship Series.

Computers compute. But they have no heart, no soul, no true passion for the game. Sports is about passion. (And heartbreak!)

I follow a weekly “bracket” each week at

Okay, it’s put together by SI’s own pundits and scribes, but it’s close to what could be a legitimate play-off system, which could really go toward deciding a national champion in college football.

The idea of a play-off system in college sports isn’t a new one. It exists in many sports, not the least of which is the fabled NCAA basketball tournament.

A journey that starts with 64 teams and then narrows down to the Sweet 16 and then to the Final 4. (Sorry, I can’t embrace the “Great 8” yet.)

In the NCAA basketball tournament, everyone gets a shot. When it comes to football, it’s a case of the have’s and the have-nots. Great teams can go undefeated, but because they play in “non-BCS” divisions, they have no shot at knocking off a Florida or Texas.

President Obama likes the idea of a play-off, and he has an ally from the “loyal opposition” in Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah.

Let’s hope the NCAA figures out a way to make it work before the government tries. NCAA “reform” would make the current arguments going on in Washington pale in comparison.

Every NCAA Division 1 conference should have a champion. That champion should have a shot at becoming the national champion.

The decision should be made on the playing field, not inside a computer chip. Or, worse yet, Congress.

John W. Scherer
John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.
You can reach him at

Monday, November 02, 2009

To: Congress

November 2, 2009

To: Congress
From: Taxpayers
Subject: Notice of Employee Misconduct

As we approach your biannual review, we thought it important to notify you of several deficiencies. We deem them serious, and unless immediate efforts begin to remedy the situation, we will be forced to notify you that your continued employment may be in jeopardy.

We should remind you that this is what you agreed upon when entering into employment with us.

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

According to our legal department, this may not actually be legally binding, but we consider it at the very least, morally binding.

Here are the key areas that concern us most:

Budget Management
As of September 30, the deficit for the 2009 fiscal year was $1.42 trillion. This is up from $459 billion from the same period a year ago. The overall budget deficit is well north of $13 trillion, an increase of $3 trillion from a year ago.

You have indicated several times that you inherited a significant deficit from the previous management, but you also promised that you would work toward decreasing that deficit, not increasing it.

Here are just a few of literally thousands of examples of what we feel are wasteful spending. They have been brought to our attention, and we’re sharing them with you here:

· A tattoo removal program in San Luis Obispo County, California ($50,000)
· The Fort Union Trading Post bike trail in North Dakota ($500,000)
· The Center for Diabetes and Obesity at West Virginia University ($2 million)
· An effort to combat "Goth culture" in Blue Springs, Missouri ($270,000)

Individually, these items might not sound like much, but these projects and ones similar to them are up 14 percent over the last year.

One major project several departments are working on is reforming our existing health care system. Your original target date for completion was set for last August, but your latest reports to us indicate the end of the year at the earliest.

An area of concern appears to be an issue of competitiveness and personal agendas versus shareholder concerns. We also note that follow-up questions we’ve had since our employee-employer meeting in August are not being returned. Our “open door” policy rules are also not being followed.

These are issues of great concern, and it is management’s perception, at least, that you are driven by personal ego and lust for power rather than putting shareholders first.

Job Creation
Unemployment rates hover around the 10 percent level and have been steadily increasing. When you budgeted stimulus funds, we were promised job creation. Your report of 10 percent unemployment rates also appear to be understated due to the significant number of people who have given up searching for work, or who no longer receive unemployment benefits. True accounting puts the number in the region of 17 percent, a number which, like us, I know you must consider very serious.

The solutions, at least to us, appear easy. You must make every effort to loosen up the housing and credit crunch. No one sector of our economy employs more people. You must also free up credit to responsible borrowers and small businesses. Banks have the money; they simply are not lending it. Again, we stress that money should be lent only to responsible borrowers, which make up a huge majority of shareholders.

Your responsibility is not to create jobs but to let the private enterprise system work freely, which creates jobs. Simply put, get out of the way of those who know more about the economy than you do.

Personal Conduct
When we hired you, and as you stated in your earlier declaration, there was at least an understanding on our part that you would conduct yourself at a high level of decorum, ethics and personal morality.

There appear to be several areas where you have fallen short. Areas such as paying taxes, personal conduct issues and the like. While you may simply consider these “errors” or “lapses of judgment” we disagree. We will be paying especially close attention to personal conduct rules leading up to next year's employment review in November 2010.

There are also numerous and documented examples of name-calling, behavior expected from two-year-olds, but not from you, an employee of the United States of America.

It’s our hope that you take the above criticisms in the most positive of ways, and that they be guidelines to improve your overall job performance prior to next year’s employment review.

We must, however, inform you that your work is deemed unsatisfactory at this point, and unless significant improvements are made quickly, your employment with us will be in serious jeopardy.

Action Items
Return constituent calls, e-mails and letters.
Return to an open door policy, rather than trying to hide.
Please post legislative items for shareholder review at least 72 hours prior to voting on them.
Act like “grown-ups.”
Put your employers first, yourself second.

Again, it is management’s hope that you will carefully read and review all the above concerns. Your employment with us is, again, in serious jeopardy. We look forward to reports back from you detailing your actions for improvement.

Yours truly,

The Citizens and Taxpayers of the United States of America
Report filed on behalf of the above by:
John W. Scherer
CEO & Founder
Video Professor, Inc.
If you have any questions, please contact him directly at

Monday, October 26, 2009

Big Brother?

George Orwell’s “1984” promised (and delivered) a frightening look into a society where the government controlled every aspect of people's lives.

There’s a piece of legislation sponsored by Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia officially known as “S. 773: Cyber Security Act of 2009.”

According to, "The bill would also give the President new authority to 'declare a cybersecurity emergency and order the limitation or shutdown of Internet traffic to and from any compromised Federal Government or United States critical infrastructure information system or network.'"

On the surface it sounds good. Protect the federal government. The troubling part is drawing the line at exactly how “critical infrastructure information system or network” would be defined and how one person, the POTUS, would make the decision.

The bill was written much earlier this year and is in “committee,” which means that it’s essentially parked until further notice.

Here’s what some are saying about S. 773:

Lots of opinions. (Aren’t there always?)

What are yours?


John W. Scherer

John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.

You can reach him at

Monday, October 19, 2009

Points to Ponder

I’m sharing these passages (with attributions) from various items I’ve read. You can draw your own conclusions, thoughts and ideas from them.

  • Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

-First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

  • The Internet [...] has also nurtured an “artificial” sense of community among the hateful [...] When you have a venue for ventilating rage, your belief in that rage is ratified [...] It increases their belief that their behavior is acceptable. Their behavior is applauded, seconded. In that case, it’s scary. It does seem to roll and escalate.

-Shari Julian, psychologist, in an article in the Denver Post about Craigslist cracking down on what was being posted on its site.

  • One, I think there’s so much information out there that it’s hard to know what to believe and what not to believe. Two, rumors take on a life of their own. Three, the democratization of all this information undermines any kind of authority. Everybody’s an authority, so nobody’s an authority.

    -Dee Dee Meyers, former White House press secretary, in an article from Public Relations Tactics magazine.
  • It started as privacy protection for the abused, the oppressed and the bashful. Now it shields creeps, criminals and malicious mobs. One story example was about a girl who, after sneaking out of the house, grabbed the keys to her dad’s Porche® and ended up crashing and killed in an accident. Gruesome photos of her mangled remains showed up online on Google™, Yahoo!® and Photobucket. Captions accused the girl of being a spoiled rich girl who deserved it. The postings were all anonymous.

-Paraphrased from the Forbes magazine article "Anonymity & the Net."

Food for thought.

John W. Scherer
John is CEO & Founder of Video
Reach him at

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Education reform: Back to the future?

President Obama is talking about extending school schedules into the summer months. Classes on weekends are even being discussed in some circles.

The goal is a good one: to make our kids at least as competitive as their counterparts in other countries. It’s no secret American school kids lag behind many countries in key skill sets like math, reading and science. Way behind.

How did we get to this point in the first place? A generation or two ago our education system was the envy of the world. Students from that time went on to get us to the moon. They went on to design the best cars in the world. They invented computers. They developed lifesaving medical procedures and cures.

What happened? Where did we lose it? Why did we fall behind?

We must have been doing something right back in the day. Maybe we need to look backward so we can move forward again.

It’s apparent our education system has taken a wrong turn. Maybe it’s time to double back and get on the right track again.

If the system is shortchanging our kids and our future, making days longer will just make it worse.

Back to the future. That’s the answer. What worked once can work again.


John W. Scherer

John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.

You can reach him at

Monday, October 05, 2009

Enough with the polls.

When I summon up the courage to watch the news these days, in most cases I’m confronted by a poll of some sort.

I’ve never been polled, but the way the results are presented I might be the only person in America who hasn’t.

Depending on the pollster, the network and day of the week I’ve come up with the following conclusions.

  • People want Healthcare Reform.
  • People don’t want Healthcare Reform.
  • People like the job the President is doing.
  • People don’t like the job the President is doing.
  • The BCS stinks. (Have to admit I agree with that one.)

Polls are called “scientific.” Not being a mathematician, I guess I’ll have to take their word for it. But how can a survey of a few hundred people truly be representative of a nation of 300 MILLION people?

One thing is for sure, there are two types of politicians out there. Those who let the polls drive them are followers. Those that ignore them are leaders.


John W. Scherer

John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.

You can reach him at

Monday, September 28, 2009

Time to extend and expand the home buying rebate program.

Incentives work. You may recall that earlier this year I called for a $10,000 tax rebate for anyone buying a new American car. I appreciated the fact that outlets like CNNfn, major newspapers and the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association liked the idea as well.

Congress didn’t listen but that’s dollars and jobs under the overpass. The Cash for Clunkers Program did get people back into showrooms, although it ended far too quickly. Sales, again, are flat. Showrooms are empty.

To its credit, the government is continuing the $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers. I think they should expand it to include ALL qualified homebuyers. There are people looking to purchase another home, even in this economy, and fixer-uppers for investment and rental properties.

The automobile and housing industries are responsible for more jobs than any other in this country. It’s a huge amount of jobs.

Tax credits will obviously impact the bottom line next April 15, 2010 but in the meantime create jobs, jobs that pay good money, money that is spent in the community that generates other tax revenues which far overshadows any downside to tax credits.

Even the administration admits that double-digit unemployment will be around for a while. This is a jobless recovery. But there are people who are working, looking to buy cars and homes. Let’s give them every incentive to do so.

This isn’t rocket science, just sound and proven economics.

When people buy, jobs are created. It’s as simple as that.


John W. Scherer

John Scherer is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.

You can reach him at

Monday, September 21, 2009

Why are we rewarding bad behavior?

Were you watching President Obama’s health care speech to Congress when Republican Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina called the president a liar? You may agree or disagree with that charge, but inside the House chamber is not the place to make it.

Then there’s Kanye West. As Taylor Swift was giving a heartfelt acceptance speech for winning an MTV Video Music Award, West—with a bottle of booze in one hand and a microphone in the other—comes on stage and says Beyonce should have won instead.

Of course there’s the case of Serena Williams at the U.S. Open Tennis Championships. Upset by a call, she pulled a John McEnroe and threatened to ram a tennis ball down a lineswoman’s throat. (Accented by several expletives.)

The real stink about all this is that then I see both Kanye West and Serena Williams on network television “apologizing.” Coifed, made-up and contrite. Right.

Serena referred to her victim as “that lineswoman.” Does she have a name? And I do hope that Mr. Leno offers Taylor Swift a guest spot on his show sooner rather than later.

Rep. Wilson, and this isn’t a partisan statement in any way, should apologize on the House floor because he insulted the American people by his behavior.

All this, simply put, is bad behavior being accepted and rewarded.

No one is perfect, but when shameful and boorish behavior is rewarded by a guest spot on network television, things have gone terribly wrong in this country.

Back in the day, if I would have acted this way in school, it was a quick and unpleasant visit with the principal. At home, well let’s just say mom and dad had rules and they were enforced!

I know I’ve been on a tear the past few weeks about yelling and now politeness. But this used to be a reasonably civil country. We need to get back to basics, stop yelling and treat each other with respect.

You know, the golden rule.

We saw a great example of this at the Philadelphia Phillies game last week. Maybe you saw it. Dad caught a coveted foul ball then handed it to his little girl, who promptly tossed it back on to the field. It’s what little kids do. Was dad upset? Nah, he gave his daughter the most loving of hugs. Watch the video here.

Let’s follow his example, shall we?


John W. Scherer

John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.

You can reach him at

Monday, September 14, 2009

We’re yelling at the wrong people! (Part Two)

Last week I hopefully started a dialog among you about all this yelling going on. Ironically people are claiming free speech to suppress your free speech.

There is a lot to yell about. Unemployment is now 9.7 percent. If you think that’s bad, I’m hearing that number will climb to as high as 10.5 percent before things start getting better. It’s hard to imagine it getting worse.

$23 billion we “lent” to Chrysler® and GM® isn’t going to be paid back. Not a dime. Auto dealers who were promised refund checks from the government within 10 days for the “Cash for Clunkers” program are forced to wait months.

And the health care reform “debate” goes on, and on and on.

Promises broken over and over again. Yes, there is a lot to be angry about.

There was a time when you could actually get ahold of your elected representatives. In this world of e-mail and tweets, you’d think things would be easier. They are, at least for Congress. They just send generic automated responses along the lines of “Dear Occupant, I’m glad to have heard from you ..." blah, blah, blah.

I’ve received more than one of those “Dear Occupant” e-mails; it's disheartening to say the least.

It’s why people who showed up at the
town hall meetings were so angry. We’re being shut out by the very people who represent us. The anger isn’t over issues; it’s over lack of representation.

So what’s next?

Keep up the pressure, but do it with the local offices. Call every day if you have to. Stop by personally at a local office and arrange a meeting with a local staff member. Here along Main Street, USA you have the power. You’re the boss. You’re the employer and there are employment reviews every two and six years.

Don’t give up. I’m not going to. Otherwise we’re going to lose, slowly but surely, the freedoms that have been part of our national fabric since July 4, 1776.

Finally, be unfailingly polite. The time for yelling is over. That
outburst during President Obama’s speech last week is exactly what we don’t need, and proof that Washington is out of control.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t let them know who is boss.

And that’s us.

John W. Scherer
John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.
Reach him at

Thursday, September 10, 2009

We’re yelling at the wrong people! (Part One)

First and foremost, let’s stop yelling, period.

As Congress returned to Washington, the business of the people (at least that’s what they claim it is) resumed after arguably one of the most tumultuous August recesses in recent history.

The issue at hand was health care reform. The debate revealed something else. The American people have discovered that the government has lost touch with the people.

Sadly, much of the yelling and screaming was done by Americans at other Americans. When they weren’t tearing each other’s protest signs away.

It’s no wonder. They’re both angry and confused. There really is no reform bill per se, just about 1,100 plus pages of hastily prepared and unfocused legislation floating around various committees and subcommittees.

Special interest groups bombarded the airwaves with their various versions of what reform should be. Town hall meetings became shouting matches.

Americans who dared oppose reform were called “anti-American,” “vile” and much worse. They were accused of being “organized.”

So let’s dispel a couple of myths. What is more American than raising your voice in protest against that which you disagree? It’s how the nation was founded. As for being organized, so was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s march on Washington. So was the bus boycott in Alabama. Both landmarks in racial equality.

It’s about as silly as when now-President Obama was accused by some of not being patriotic because he didn’t wear an American Flag lapel pin. What is more patriotic than running for president of the United States?

Washington long ago stopped listening. The Founding Fathers of this nation came up with a system of governing that included three separate but equal branches: executive, legislative and judicial.

One became term-limited, the executive branch. It was a reaction to FDR’s almost four terms as president. Now, just like a badly balanced wheel on a car, our system of governing shimmies and shakes.

Write your congressman? Forget it. Send an e-mail and you’ll eventually get a generic response.

So what’s a citizen to do?

The answer next week.


John W. Scherer

John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.

You can reach him at

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

So, what are you willing to give up?

You’ve no doubt heard that the government “revised” the estimated deficit from $7 trillion up to $9 trillion for 2010-2019. The current health care package being debated and argued ad nauseum will add another trillion to the total.

Why do I have a funny feeling the number will grow?

The cause for all this is a no-brainer. The government is spending way more than it takes in. To be clear, this all started well before most of us even heard of Barack Obama. In Washington, D.C. fiscal responsibility is an oxymoron.

So, how do we solve all this? There are only two choices, or perhaps a combination of both: cut spending and/or raise taxes.

What happens when you overdraw your checking account? You get a nasty note and penalty from your bank.

What happens when the government does the same thing? Well, think what it would be like for the Chinese to foreclose on the White House. Wouldn’t that be a proud moment? China holds over a trillion dollars of our debt, and I do believe they expect to get paid back—and not in Monopoly money.

But when you have a government accounting system that deals in “rounding errors” in the billions, it’s a recipe for financial disaster.

Oh yes, the market seems to be humming along. It’s no wonder. The companies making money have two things in common. They didn’t take bailout money and they’ve cut expenses to the bone, most notably employees—a difficult decision for any company to make.

Don’t let Washington fool you; our national unemployment rate is well north of 10 percent.

We are stuck in a national “catch-22.” A line-item veto would certainly be a good start, but the folks who could vote on that are the same ones who love to tuck millions for pork into legislation for the folks back home not remotely connected to it.

The Balanced Budget Amendment? Never gonna happen. Look at the health care “reform” debate. It would amount to a pimple on a hog’s rear end compared to the debate over balancing the budget.

So, we have to ask ourselves how much more in taxes we are willing to pay. Are we willing not to have our streets plowed, or those potholes on the Interstate fixed?

If the government isn’t willing to fly coach like we do, then it’s hard to expect us to give up driving on a decent road when we go to the airport.

I’d suggest you call or write your elected representatives, but they’re not listening. They stopped listening a long time ago.

Hence the $10 trillion deficit.

Just think, a child born today will do so automatically being $5,000 in debt.

A child born tomorrow will be in even more debt.

And so it goes.


John W. Scherer

John Scherer is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.

You can reach him at

Monday, August 24, 2009

Washington gets an earful.

Attend any of the “Town halls” during the past couple of weeks? They’re certainly more raucous than the staged campaign-like appearances by the President, attendees by invitation only.

Listening to the level of “enthusiasm” of many of the attendees it’s clear the anger and anxiety being felt by us folks living on Main Street extends well beyond healthcare reform.

Most polls indicate that by a Americans are turning their backs on the Administration’s reform efforts, albeit by a small margin. But the margin grows daily. It’s no wonder, never has any initiative been more poorly articulated, with mixed messages galore.

Then there’s the stimulus plan. A USA Today poll last week indicated 57% of us feel that it’s flat-out not working. The feel the $787 Billion plan has not worked as advertised, has not created new jobs, has done nothing to truly stimulate the economy and would much rather simply have the money returned to them.

Don’t hold your breath.

The real issue is that the majority of Americans simply don’t trust government anymore. It doesn’t help when the Speaker of the House calls those who exercise their 1st Amendment Rights "un-American".

It doesn’t help when Congress votes $500 Million for luxury jets when a lot of folks are simply trying to pay the bills.

Unemployment goes up, the debt does up, our confidence in government as a problem solver goes in the opposite direction.

All this started well before the current Administration. The inherited a mess but sweeping it all under a rug doesn’t get rid of the dirt. That will take a big broom and it appears the mood of the American people will be every bi-partisan next year to sweep everyone out and simply start all over again.

Washington has gotten an earful because simply put, we’ve had a belly full of petty partisanship and a total lack of leadership from both parties.


John W. Scherer

John is CEO and Founder of Video Professor, Inc.

What do you think? Contact John at

Monday, August 17, 2009

Pizza Goes High Tech.

You might recall the PR hit the good folks at Domino's Pizza® took a few months ago. A couple of employees posted an absurd, make that obscene, video spitting and other things on a pizza apparently set for home delivery.

Then they posted it on YouTube. Millions saw it. Unfair to Domino's? You bet. The good news comes twofold.

First, the employees are charged with food tampering, which is against the law. Nothing like having a felony on your resume.

The real good news is what Domino's did next, and because it involves computers, hence today’s blog.

Let’s face it, ordering a pizza for home delivery is one of life’s simple pleasures. Now when you order a pizza from Domino's for home delivery, you can order it online, then track it from the time it enters the oven, who made it and when to expect to have it delivered.

As I’ve said so many times before when we first started out teaching people how to use their computers, it’s always fun to see how things have evolved the past 22 years.

From MS-DOS to tracking your pizza.

Extra sausage please.


John W. Scherer

John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.

You can reach him at

Monday, August 10, 2009

What happened to R-E-S-P-E-C-T (and privacy)?

You might have read about a female ESPN™ sports reporter who had her hotel room infiltrated by a tiny spy camera. No need to go into what was seen; she was a victim of the worst kind of intrusion. No one has been caught yet. Sadly, some of the images turned up on the Internet and elsewhere.

Then there was the story last week where someone set up a fake ATM machine at a Las Vegas hotel while a security convention, of all things, was going on. More than a few people swiped their cards for some cash, and instead had personal data stolen, pin codes, etc.

An anonymous blogger posts that Sarah Palin is getting a divorce and moving with the kids to Montana. Sadly, some mainstream media actually picked up the story. Only problem is, it wasn’t true.

There was a time when people respected privacy, and something Aretha Franklin so grandly sung about, respect.

Society has always had its share of bad people, but technology is aiding and abetting the worst of them. Anyone can buy a tiny spy cam and simply use the peephole in your hotel door to peep at you. How does someone get away with such a thing at a high-end hotel? The fact is that they do.

Planting a fake ATM machine at a ‘Vegas hotel during a security convention is akin to walking unannounced into the Oval Office. Somehow, someone figured out a way to beat the system.

And of course, we all know that anyone can post about anything they want anonymously on the Net. But when some traditional media start to “run with it” you have to scratch your head. Sadly, Walter Cronkite has passed away, but one would hope that solid journalism didn’t die with him.

It just isn’t right when, after checking into your hotel room, you have to check for hidden cameras. It just isn’t right when you need to use an ATM and you wonder if it’s real or the work of some high-tech crook. It just isn’t right when people simply make up rubbish, post it and then the story gets a life of its own. Even if it isn’t true.

I hope all of the above are caught. I hope that all of the above are punished or exposed for what they are.

Is simple respect out of date? I hope not.


John W. Scherer

John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.

You can reach him at

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Video Professor-ESPN SportsNation spots posted.

Just got the links to all the spots I told you about earlier with ESPNTM. Thanks again to ESPN for making it a memorable day in Bristol. Hope you enjoy the spots as much as I did making them.

To view the Video Professor spots, click a link below.
SportsNation: Not Everyone Can Talk Sports
Bonus Content
Screen Test


John W. Scherer

John is CEO and Founder of Video Professor, Inc.

You can reach him at

Monday, August 03, 2009

Interactive is empowering.

I blogged last week about shooting a promotional spot for SportsNation on ESPN2 hosted by Colin Cowherd and Michelle Beadle. The show really empowers sports fans who can e-mail, Tweet, Skype™, etc. into the show. In essence, the viewers are the show and Colin and Michelle the “Ringmasters.”

Look also at your local news. Here in Colorado we’ve had a very stormy summer season. There isn’t a station in town that doesn’t provide an opportunity for you to post pictures and videos of spectacular lightning or storm damage. I’m sure you see the same thing where you live.

Viewers are now news gatherers as well.

What makes it all possible is your laptop, desktop or PDA. To be honest, when we produced our first lesson here at Video Professor on MS-DOS, this was the furthest thing from our minds. What we did realize was that people wanted to learn how to operate their computers. They saw the potential that the machines had.

Almost 22 years and 20 million customers later, we’ve seen for a long time that potential being realized.

It’s why it’s especially gratifying to us when we work with non-profits like Global Outreach in Tanzania or Serving Our World in Thailand who include computer literacy as part of their programs. They came to Video Professor as the best way for their students to learn how to operate a computer.

They’ll be able to learn more about the world around them, and at the same time share their world with the rest of us.

It is empowering. It’s great. It shows that regardless of where you live, you can be involved, that you can communicate, that you can be part of the process.

Your voice can be heard.

I like that.


John W. Scherer

John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.

You can reach him at

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Video Professor spends a day at ESPN™.

A few weeks ago my Public Relations representative came down to my office and said ESPN™ was interested in using me for a promotional spot for a new show.

I kept on waiting for the punch line! A few days later he was back and told me, “You’re going to Bristol!”

Is anyone not a fan of ESPN? Granted, a lot of people cover sports on television. But when it comes to sports coverage (and sports promos) there’s ESPN and there’s “not exactly.” ESPN re-invented sports coverage. Heck, they re-invent it every day.

ESPN is located in Bristol, CT. It’s a small community near Hartford. Their facility takes your breath away. It’s a huge campus full of studios and state of the art technology. The home of Sports Center!

ESPN promotional spots are among the best. They’ve developed a unique brand of humor and style, and I admit to being a wee bit nervous. I’ve been on TV for years, but this was something entirely different. The ESPN crew was great and made me feel right at home.

(John W. Scherer with ESPN Production Team)

The easy part was that I got to play myself. Sort of. ESPN2 is launching a new interactive sports talk show hosted by Colin Cowherd and Michelle Beadle called SportsNation. But this isn’t your Dad’s call-in sports show, this is all about interactive. You can Skype™, Twitter™, e-mail or even make old-fashioned phone calls with your questions and comments to Colin and Michelle in real time.

That’s where I came in. I’m a sports fan named VidProf45 and Colin Cowherd is talking about Manny Ramirez. I’m Skyping into the show telling Colin I taught Manny everything he knows about the Internet. In fact, I can even teach Colin, to which he responds that he’s been there done that. I close out with my famous commercial tagline, “What have you got to lose? Try My Product!®” Colin quickly moves on to another call.

(John shooting his lines for Sports Nation Promo)

I know they have a few other folks who’ve cut promos and like you, will see them on ESPN2. Check them out here:

But for a day, at least, I got to hang out at ESPN and shoot promos that I hope will be successful in promoting SportsNation along with its terrific co-hosts Colin and Michelle. I’m honored that the folks at ESPN and The Martin Agency thought enough of the Video Professor brand to use it to promote their brand.

(John on the set of ESPN’s SportsNation)

When I started out Video Professor almost 22 years ago, I had no idea where computer technology was going and what it could do.

Now I know!

So, what have you got to lose? Try ESPN’s product (and mine, too)!


John W. Scherer

John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.

You can reach him at

Neil, Buzz and Mike are on to something.

Last week marked the 40th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing. After the current shuttle mission, only six flights remain scheduled. Then the “Space Truck” will be retired. It’s 1980’s technology.

Funding for the space station could run out as early as 2016. So, what’s next? For the meantime, we’ll have to hitch a ride to space—and only in low Earth orbit.

Getting to the moon July 20, 1969 was a remarkable achievement. It was more “Stick and Rudder” than high tech. The onboard computers had the power of a Commodore 64, if that. Slide rules, ruled. (Google® that one.) Your cell phone has more computing power than what was available to Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.

The current goal appears to be a return to the moon through the Orion Project. It looks remarkably similar to Apollo. Just bigger, and of course, with computing power that could only be dreamed about 40 years ago.

The Apollo 11 crew dropped by the White House last week. They suggested Mars instead of the moon. As they’ve “Been there and done that” we should heed their advice.

The Russians just completed a simulation of a flight to Mars. The return trip will take at least 150 days. The challenges are huge. But we’ve proven we can send spacecrafts to Mars, land them safely and explore the surface.

The moon doesn’t offer much. Mars does, including an atmosphere of sorts, and water. Or at least ice.

Two points I’d like to close with, the first being cost. (It’s a CEO thing.) One of the staff here at Video Professor did a paper about the Apollo Program while in college. He discovered that at its peak, Apollo used just half of one percent of the national budget.

Secondly, the Apollo Program drove technology in computing, fuel cells and simply how to boldly go where no one has gone before.

Besides, Mars is “Shovel-ready.”

Do we go it alone? No. It should be a joint effort between the United States, the Russians and even the Chinese. All have established space programs. We already partner with the Russians getting to and from the space station, ferrying food and even equipment to fix the plumbing!

Other nations including Europe, Canada and Japan can also be active partners.

It’s human nature to want to know what’s over the next hill. This continent was discovered by explorers.

We’ve been to the moon. Let’s make the next stop Mars.


John W. Scherer

John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.

You can reach him at

Monday, July 13, 2009

Wall-to-Wall 1963-2009

I've been pondering what's referred to in the news business as the "Wall-to-Wall" coverage of the Michael Jackson memorial.

It harkens back to the network coverage following President Kennedy's assassination in 1963. The networks literally had to invent technology as they covered the story.

That coverage was described then as television's finest hour. I agree.
I'm not sure the same terms will be used today.

In 1963, there were just three networks and newspapers for coverage. That was it. Yet, the coverage then, as it is today, was incredible. Technology in 1963 was crude by comparison.

In 1963 it was Walter Cronkite and other journalistic giants of the era providing the coverage. Today it's "Jackofan4ever" competing with FOX News™ who is competing against (or working with)

Dozens of networks, broadcast and cable/satellite, went 24/7. Many of you followed coverage streamed to your computer or PDA.

It involved streaming, tweeting and downloading, which created huge demand and big numbers.

Gigaom reports that it was one of the busiest Internet events ever.

Akamai says it delivered more than 2,185,000 live and on-demand streams in both the Flash® and Windows Media® formats. There were 3,924,370 visitors per minute as of 1 pm EST and an average of more than 3.3 million visitors per minute overall.

Facebook® announced 800,000 status updates during the memorial.

People filed pictures and video via their cell phone cameras on their sites and others.

Regardless of what you think about last week’s events, or those 46 years ago, it takes just these kinds of moments to push the communication envelope as to just what can be done—both good and bad.

Gone today, however, is the filter of traditional journalism. In fact, this modern era of communication often takes a backseat to rumor.

We need to work on that part.


John W. Scherer

John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.

You can reach him at