For many people across the U.S. this week, Memorial Day meant the unofficial opening of summer (unless you were in snowy Vermont or foggy San Francisco earlier this week).
Often times, technology news slows down considerably during the long summer months.
But before we get there, May still brought in some curious (and sometimes ludicrous) story pitches to amuse ZDNet writers, and by extension now, ZDNet readers.
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I'm not sure if I've been dropped from some email list serves because of this column. But fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you see it, my colleagues seem to be getting all the best pickings lately.
Here are a few of the worst pitches received this month that certainly incited a mixture of chuckles, eye rolls, and groans at just how these were possibly conceived.
The (unintentional) common themes in this month's edition might be that sex doesn't always help sell a product -- and that we might have far surpassed the threshold of possible mobile app concepts.
Here's one example of one mobile app that might seem funny (and even useful after too many cocktails), but makes you wonder how this one is getting bankrolled:
Subject: Hello [REDACTED], news and story idea: Ashley Madison releases Blackbook - The most discreet 'cheating' mobile app to date
AshleyMadison.com, the largest discreet dating service in the world with over 18 million members, has released Ashley Madison Blackbook – the best “cheating” mobile application for calling and texting to date.
The privacy of the user is paramount. The mobile security features of Ashley Madison Blackbook utilize many of the same privacy features which are UNIQUE to AshleyMadison.com, including:
- “Panic Button” - The Ashley Madison site has a localized panic button that appears on every page of the site and when selected will immediately take you to a local, family friendly website.
- Full Profile Deletion - Removal of profile from the site and search results. Removal of all messages sent and received, including in the recipients inbox. Removal of site usage history and all photos.
- Private photo showcase
- SSL encryption
- Anonymous billing
Noel Biderman, founder and CEO of AshleyMadison.com, is available for an interview and can speak about all topics relating to the app and Ashley Madison.
Besides the fact that this points to the sad, sad world that we live in, the easiest explanation of why it doesn't belong in a ZDNet writer's inbox is that it has nothing to do with what we cover here.
One of the primary lessons to be learned from this column is that anyone pitching story ideas should know their audience. This PR rep does not.
Screenshots via iTunes
This next pitch actually sheds light on a valid product and important public health matter. However, the important message gets lost due to a useless subject line that cheapens the whole message.
Subject: Sexy mobile health solution in teledermatology
May is skin cancer awareness month!
iDoc24, is a telemedicine company focused on teledermatology. Since a few years the iDoc24 app has been available in the Apple app store. A user can ask a dermatologist anonymously on any skin disease and have a response within a few hours. In March 2013 we released the STD Triage app, which is focusing on Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs).
I am also a researcher in the digital health space from Gothenburg University, Sweden. I am currently a visiting PhD student at UC Berkeley. I just released a peer review article called “Mobile Teledermoscopy- there is an app for that!” in the journal Dermatology Practical & Conceptual.
We have researched the iDoc24 app in a hospital setting. We looked at the possibility to diagnose suspected skin cancer lesions using an image taken with the iPhone camera and an image taken with the Handyscope, which is an iPhone attached dermoscope (a magnifying glass with a built in LED light, that magnifies a skin lesion 20X)
We found that sending the images via the iDoc24 app to an internet platform; two dermatologists could diagnose the images comparably to a normal dermatology visit face to face. This has now been published as a peer review article and we have released the iDoc24 PRO version for healthcare workers.
Please see the press release below for additional data. If interested, I’m happy to jump on a quick call with you to further discuss the article and how the app will be used between family doctors and dermatologists.
Thanks in advance for your time; I look forward to hearing from you.
A press release followed, explaining more about the app and testing at a hospital in Sweden. I just wish the sender didn't try so hard to catch my attention with the "sexy" subject line.
This last one should be self-explanatory about why it is just so awful:
Subject: NEW APP DICKORATE Launches on Google Play - upgrading the sexting game | Digital Halo LLC
Digital Halo Media releases DICKORATE an app changing the sexting landscape! DICKORATE , an entertainment app, allows users to photographer their "junk" and add fun digital accessories, think cowboy hats, mustaches and sunglasses. Those looking to extend the fun can try the "enlargement" function capabilities.
Available Today On : Google Play
Mobile Platform : Android platform v3.0 or later .
SRP : Free Download - Accessory bundles for .99
Press Release attached.
Please do not hesitate to reach out further information and or hi-res images. As always keep me posted if you're planning on including DICKORATE in any of your upcoming stories or tech reviews.
I don't think anyone will be hesitating to reach out about this one. There's simply no need to find out more.