Random musings, observations, squeaks, whimpers and perhaps the ocassional rant. About what, I'm not sure.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Happy Epicurious!

Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Festivus (grin)... this time of year everyone has a holiday. I want to start a holiday for foodies. I'd call it... Epicurious!

Oh. Wait. That's a website. A great website. The web's most awesome resource for excellent recipes and more. DAMN I LOVE EPICURIOUS - I WISH IT COULD BE A HOLIDAY INSTEAD OF A WEBSITE!

Now I confess Epicurious as a holiday doesn't have the religious, historical or cultural significance of these other holidays. But Epicurious as a source of awesome recipes can't be beat. If you haven't tried it, you must.

Our holiday plans were a little different this year courtesy of the twin sisters, Frances and Jeanne. I used to cook Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners, but a few years ago we started going out on Christmas Eve (to a place that was demolished by the hurricanes this year) and then cooking a big spread on Christmas Day at home for friends and family. But the usual lovely view from my little corner of the world is still disrupted by boxes all over the back porch (you do that when you have to rip all the insulation out of your attic and can't get a *!@?^%ing roofer) and other inconveniences, so we had Christmas Dinner at friends'. Can't say I ever remember having done that before...

Anyway, I still got to cook. But the pressure was on... my friend George owns a catering and special events business called Eventmakers, and we were able to score two cornerstones of a true Florida Christmas - stone crab claws and a whole beef tenderloin!

The stone crab was easy... crack and serve on ice. OK - it wasn't so easy for George, who spent three hours cracking! (Thanks, George).

My job was the tenderloin...

I'm not a timid chef, but YOU slide a whole tenderloin out of the cryopak and then stare at it trying to figure out how to trim it and see if YOU start to sweat. Thankfully, a combination of instructions courtesy of Julia Childs, coaching from Pat and a wonderfully simple recipe for Beef Tenderloin With Garlic Horseradish Cream Sauce from - you guessed it, Epicurious, and it was low risk, small effort and big reward!

Made a great Crab and Corn Chowder with Bacon the next day... so easy, but sooooo good.

(I won't say where I got the recipe, but you're a little slow if you can't guess by now).

All in all, a very nice Christmas, and an OUTSTANDING Epicurious shared with family and friends. What more does a man need?

Friday, December 24, 2004

It happened again!

I posted below on losing something you knew you'd never see again and then getting it returned. Well, it happened to me again today!

Since the hurricanes I've been missing a cool little leather portfolio a friend bought me years ago. Had no idea where I'd put it. Then, this afternoon out-of-the-blue I get a call... "I have a portfolio here that I think might belong to you; would you like to stop by and take a look?"

The call came from a lady at George's Restaurant, a tiny little hole-in-the-wall place in Port Salerno - what used to be a little fishing town (commercial and sport), but is now what realtors call "in transition" or maybe "gentrifying". It was my missing portfolio, and I was really glad to get it back. Again, karma... I had stopped in at this place I've passed for years thinking "what the heck - I'll try it". Had a great breakfast, and overtipped the waitress a few bucks just 'cause I could (banking the good karma), and here we are something like a month later and she had dug around for a credit card receipt from the day the portfolio was found, hit the phone book, and poof - portfolio and owner reunited (returning the good karma with it and generating more).

If you're in Salerno, Stuart or Hobe Sound and are looking for a quiet place for a good breakfast, check out George's.

I appreciate getting the portfolio back, but I'm really grateful for the effort the lady put in to return it. I'm not making a $40K donation to Big Brothers Big Sisters, though...

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Anyone Read This Book?

Anyone Read This?

Even though our fiscal year at work doesn't end for another couple of months, I always find myself near the end of a calendar year thinking about what I've done for the last year, and what I hope to do in the coming. No New Years Resolutions - just a little reflection and then a little action. One thing I'd like to do is be better organized...

Matt Williams blogged a while ago about a book, method and some technology for getting better organized called Getting Things Done by David Allen. It helped Matt... I've thought about trying it but haven't gotten off my butt to do so. And then tonight in a Microsoft e-mail this book popped up. I've generally thought the Microsoft Press books I've bought have been worthwhile - albeit all on techie topics. This one seems a little different - maybe a mix of method and technology. If you've read Take Back Your Life, then comment on it. I'd rather hear that someone's read it and get a mini-review than just dumping the $20 or so on it blindly...

I do live in Outlook, so one of these could be a good start...

Do Unto Others...

Season's Greetings From Some of My New Friends

This holiday season, somewhere between the hectic running around and the gift buying and gift giving and the eating and the family and the friends and all the other stuff... take a moment and do something for someone who's less fortunate than you. That's one of the greatest gifts anyone can give, and literally everyone can do something for someone else.

Yes Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus...

Ever lose someting knowing you'd never find it again? Happened to me in NYC once - left my cell phone in a cab, knowing it would never come back. But the cabbie found it and turned it in, so when I called the cab company they not only had it, but were more than happy to send it back. Imagine... I even sent kudos to the Commissioner of the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission.

This must be common in New York. I read a blurb tonight called "Miracle Near 42nd Street" in the FastCompany blog; its about a guy who lost his wallet in a cab, it was found by another passenger, and the two meet to get the wallet back to its rightful owner. The rest of the story... the owner was so grateful, he pledged to help the good samaritan's favorite charity, Big Big Sisters of New York City. To the tune of $40,000 over four years! What a great pick-me-up/good-news story at a time of year when not everyone is enjoying the season, including many of the kids BBBS helps, I'll bet.

I dig BBBS... we just did something with their local Martin County Chapter last week for my job, and it was a great experience. Santa was scheduled to visit a Christmas party for the "littles" and "bigs", but his sleigh was in the shop, so we arranged some alternate transportation - color coordinated, even. I'm in a Leadership forum with the local BBBS CEO, Bill Bee. It was a fun and easy thing to set up, and we got an awesome reaction from all involved - kids and adults alike. I love it when a plan comes together... and we made the front page of Sunday's local section of the Palm Beach Post (thank you Jill Taylor); a full color picture, above the fold, generating I'm guessing 150,000 impressions.

You can't buy that kind of coolness. Its brought out by good karma.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Niche Marketing/Reference Customers

While I'm blathering on tonight, I'm going to give some other kudos to the folks at The Phelon Group, though I don't know much at all about them. If their website is any indication of how they're marketing their capabilities and they even do an average job of selling and delivering what they say they do, they deserve a pat on the back. Read this blurb, from a prominent spot on their homepage:

The Phelon Group helps enterprise technology companies build and sustain high-value reference programs that enable a distinct advantage in the drive for customers and corporate growth.

Now for those of you who don't know much about the tech business or niche marketing - here's the key. Find a niche - smaller is better in most cases if you're a small firm (it sounds stupid, but for many software companies its a challenge to find a market SMALL enough to address) - then start making it very clear what you do and how you add value for those you'd like to do it for (or to, as the case may be).

If I had a nickel for every high tech company that has floundered around trying to figure out how to make the last customer and sale count somehow to the next one (read Geoffrey Moore's Crossing the Chasm if you're in this boat right now), I'd be a very rich man. Selling services to enterprise software companies struggling with how to make customers referenceable - now THAT's a niche - and a profitable one I'll bet!

On a side note… my partners and I got really good at making our customers referenceable at my old firm... once it became a priority and our sales and marketing folks understood a) you won't get them to say anything if you don't ask them to (so start asking), b) asking them won't get you shot, and c) when you ask, be specific about what you're looking for and why. Kind of like this example, an industry presentation we jointly delivered with our Boeing customers...

Paving the Road to E-Business
Business Forms Management Association
Symposium Proceeding : Forms Management
by Chris Church, VP Business Development Shana Corporation

Clearing the path
Paving the road for e-business first requires clearing the path ahead and then laying a foundation. That foundation is management of the inputs or triggers to the company’s business processes - its business forms. The Boeing Company understands that its business forms are critical; therefore, an alliance between Boeing Forms Management, Boeing Information Systems and Shana Corporation focused on the different facets of construction - process, project and product, respectively.

Motorola, Boeing, NASA, General Electric, Liberty Mutual, State of Washington, FileNET... its amazing what customers and partners will do with and for you when its mutual -when they understand how it benefits you AND them. The meek may inherit the earth at some point, but meek software companies won't.

Should be called blabkarma...

I have to quit browsing around on the topics I blog on AFTER I blog on them. The entry on The Long Tail leads to ChangeThis... and an entry. The entry on ChangeThis leads to Seth Godin's blog (a must-read if you're into tech and marketing, or just marketing) where I see an entry on Customer Needs... and now I write another entry. When will it ever end?!

The company I'm slaving for is growing, and a couple of the areas we're strugging with (IMHO) are the corporate identity (not just image, etc., but who we really ARE) and the brand, or maybe in a word - marketing. Good news is we're rearranging folks and applying additional resources, so I'm sure we'll improve (who ever heard of an annual $150M US firm not having a marketing department?). For my little part, I have a keen personal interest in how we aggregate the goodwill we create with customers/partners.

So I'm reading Seth's blog and trip over a great model from a firm called The Phelon Group. In looking at (tech) customers' needs, the authors created a parallel to Maslow's Pyramid they call The Customer Heirarchy of Needs.

Don't Sue Me - Its Acceptable Use

Although I've never seen the views expressed quite this way I've lived this hierarchy - from first hand experience I can tell you its accurate, and its real-world. Very interesting stuff... and in my estimation applicable much more widely than Tech. If you're interested in building customer relationships that not only last but can also be leveraged to the next customer, read the white paper - it will at least spur some interesting thoughts.

A dear friend at Motorola - Jan Bates - had a sign posted in her office that said...

The value of any product or service is EXACTLY what the customer says it is.

How true. Are you (systematically) meeting your customers' needs?

Better Tail Than Ever...

Better Tail Than Ever!

After posting below on Wired editor-in-chief Chris Anderson's article The Long Tail I browsed around a bit and found two interesting tidbits. One, the piece is available in PDF as a Manifesto here on ChangeThis. Two, Chris Anderson has a blog called - what else - The Long Tail. Too bad he doesn't support TrackBack - I'd link to him.

Seems he has a book deal, too. Good for him. I think The Long Tail is a subject we'll be hearing much more about in the coming months and years... makes complete sense to me.

One of the things I love about the Web. You take an idea, punch a few words into your browser and - poof! Lots of stuff, some of it even relevant...

The Long Tail...

Sell and deliver it all online...

Ever read Wired Magazine? You'll want to this month if you're in the movie or music or book business. Harry forwarded me this intriguing article called "The Long Tail". Here's the teaser:

The Long Tail
Forget squeezing millions from a few megahits at the top
of the charts. The future of entertainment is in the millions
of niche markets at the shallow end of the bitstream.

Its a long article, but the premise is simple... rather than selecting a few (movies, books, albums) to promote and distribute and making that the sum total of the (movie, book, music) business, why not differentiate between new/hot and obscure/hot to few content, price it accordingly, and deliver it all electronically?

Its an interesting idea. Take documentaries - IMDB indicates over 40,000 have been released. Blockbuster carries less than two-tenths of a percent of them. I was surprised to see the NetFlix carries over 3 percent, which is huge in comparison, but still such a small piece of the pie. Where's the rest of it. Not readily accessible is the answer. So what if if was all available online - what's the incremental cost of hosting and selling another title? Well, a butt-load more documentaries would sell, wouldn't they?

Check out this passage from the article:

This year, nearly 6,000 movies were submitted to
the Sundance Film Festival. Of those, 255 were
accepted, and just two dozen have been picked up
for distribution; to see the others, you had to be there.
Why not release all 255 on DVD each year as part of
a discount Sundance Series? In a Long Tail economy,
it's more expensive to evaluate than to release.
Just do it!
Maybe we will... know anyone who produces an independent film festival - like MIFF for instance? It might not be Sundance, but I smell an opportunity!

Monday, December 20, 2004

I'm busted!

Amost forgot... on the way out from Pat's last night, he mentioned he'd heard that the Students of the Unusual website was seeing some new traffic... from blahgkarma! Now this is interesting for two reasons - one, because some of you reading here actually took the time to click over to see what these guys are up to (thanks for that), and two because nobody I know except for Harry Pierson knows I'm blogging. Guess I'm busted...

Terry Cronin, Headmaster
Students of the Unusual

Here's a new interview with Terry Cronin in Ghost Magazine. One of 3 Boys Productions' projects was a documentary called "Ghost Hunters of the Space Coast", and the article centered on it. Here's a blurb from the article:

During a recent jaunt to Spooky Empire’s Scream Fest
in Plantation Florida, Ghost Magazine had the distinct
opportunity to chat with haunt advocate, Terry Cronin.

While proudly promoting his newest project, Students
of the Unusual (a fiendishly fun comic featuring a collection
of spooky vignettes), Cronin took time from his duties to tell
GM about his recent efforts in Melbourne Florida: the short
film (featured at the 2000 Melbourne Independent Film
Festival), Ghost Hunters of the Space Coast.

He describes the film, produced by 3 Boys Productions, as,
“A documentary where the most haunted places in Brevard
were visited; it features people who have been visited by
ghosts and had ghostly experiences.”

If producing a short film about the Space Coast’s most
haunted sites isn’t remarkable on its own, the piece is fast
becoming a history lesson. Two of the three historic
restaurants featured have since been demolished and the
third is also threatened with extinction!

Its cool to see folks you know doing what they love, and even cooler seeing them recognized for it. I'm inspired! I think there's a new edition of the comic coming soon... I'm watching for it.

Holidays, Friends and Food...

Happy Handmade

Popped on over to Pat's last night after dinner. Not that any time's a bad time, but the holidays are just a great time to spend with friends, aren't they?

I have to admit I had an ulterior motive, though... besides being an accomplished filmmaker Pat's a serious foodie, and can cook his ass off. Last night he was making Pear Chutney from scratch. I got to prep, which is always fun, and the recipe is so easy, but its so good. Only downer is it has to sit for a week to blend before we eat it - damn! Had a few nips of my homemade Limoncello from last year... time to make more of that.

Food's a great equalizer, and socializing while preparing food for friends and family one the things I truly enjoy, and that I don't do anywhere near enough of. I feel a feeding frenzy coming on...

Friday, December 17, 2004

Sweet Potato Pie...

You know when you're having a blah or sort-of-crappy day and then something pops in from left field, gives you a little chuckle and then you all-of-a-sudden realize - "hey, the day's not THAT crappy"? Happened to me today.

I was browsing around for business and landed at the Orlando Sentinel online. I have some business responsibilities in Orlando and like to get the (virtual) local paper to see what sort of local issues are floating around, and whether we're mentioned (that happens ocassionally).

Anyway, there I was when I saw a little headline that said "Here's a gift to make your mouth water". It might surprise you, but I'm not the most organized fellow when it comes to the holidays, so I still have a few (is there an emoticon for "lying"?) gifts to work out. I like food, and food gifts, so I got sucked in looking for an easy solution. Instead, I found an article that cracked me up on how to make the "perfect" sweet potato pie. I mean, where can you find a good recipe for sweet potato pie, and then crack up while reading it?

I'm going to try the recipe, and when I do, I'll be replaying the little movie the writer, Mike Thomas, developed in my head - him standing there being half-scolded by Ethel Mae (you have to read the article), and probably half-screwing it up along the way. I got a really good chuckle out of the article, but seriously, where can you find a decent sweet potato pie?

My mouth's already watering...

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Hey, I'M A GENIUS...

Don't sue me... this is Fair Use.

Well, since some of you know me, I have to retract that statement. I must be smart, though, 'cause unbeknownst to me, I blogged on a topic that nearly simultaneously was in one of the bastions of American media. I commented on Amazon Theater, and what do you know, when browsing around tonight I tripped over a BusinessWeek article entitled "The New Wave of Net Films". Hey - maybe BusinessWeek got the idea for the article from blahgkarma! (not)

Here's the caption for the article:

"At their best, these branded movie shorts are entertaining, engaging, and great sales tools. At their worst, they're just overly long ads."

Personally, I've enjoyed the films. I have to admit that they haven't done a darned thing to move me to buy any of the featured products - I don't even look at the product listings afterward - but if Amazon and their advertisers want to invest in these, I'll keep watching.

Monday, December 13, 2004

This is me...

Ever feel this way?

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Christmas - Florida Style Posted by Hello

Go See a Movie in Seattle...

Hey, if you're in Seattle and looking for something to do tonight, get off your butt and your wallet and go see the movie Telephone Pole Numbering System, showing at the Northwest Film Forum cinema. The theatre is at 12th Ave and Pike or thereabouts - here's a map if you need it.

Julie's mom/Harry's mom-in-law is an actor and is in the film. Harry enjoyed it. NWFF sounds like an awesome resource for small filmmakers, providing all sorts of (otherwise cost-prohibitive) infrastructure for independants. Wish we had something like that locally for Pat and others...

Wish I could see the movie...

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Point and Shoot...

Church in Leadville, Colorado

I love this photo - its a "point, shoot and hope like hell it comes out" snapshot as opposed to something (composed, measured, calculated, manipulated)... I'm doing a little more of the latter for my job and a little recreation using a Canon D30 I traded a friend for. This shot wasn't on that fancy gear - just a little Olympus 1.5 megapixel job I carried around a couple of summers ago. Fine for the web...

I was driving into Leadville, Colorado having just caught a dozen or so trout in a half hour's flyfishing on the Arkansas River nearby. I had passed the church in the opposite direction heading out to the river, and stopped fishing 'cause the weather started to turn. Which provided a great backdrop for this shot. Rained like hell about 10 minutes later...

The appearance of security...

Seth Godin recently blogged on a topic that included one of my post-9/11 pet peeves...what I call "the appearance of security". Seth commented:

"The woman next to me on the flight had thin, sharpened spikes, two of them, eight inches long. They're called knitting needles, and they're allowed on the plane. The guy on the other side was bemoaning the fact that they took away his nail clippers.

The little kid in row 8 had to walk 35 rows back to the back of the plane to use the bathroom because it's a grave breach of security for him to use the empty and close bathroom 7 rows in front.

They x-ray sneakers at LaGuardia."

All of this, I'm sorry to say, has also happened to me. In the name of security. Sheesh.

Don't get me wrong - I want things to be as secure as the next guy (maybe more than some of the next guys), I believe the terrorist threat is real; but some of what we do now-a-days in the name of security is just - well - stupid. I call it "the appearance of security" - that is, they are in fact security measures, but where the hell did common sense go?

"Hi I'm America, and I'm looking for Common Sense? Have you seen it? I seem to have misplaced it?"

"Take off my shoes in a crowded public place so they can be scanned for explosives because one sick moron tried to sneak explosives on an airplane in his shoes?" C'mon.

"Snatch some guy's nail clippers because they might be used as a weapon (car keys will be next) but let granny have her knitting needles because she probably won't use them to poke out some air marshal's eye on her way to the cockpit?" C'mon.

"Make everyone in Coach use the Coach restroom instead of sharing the First Class restroom?" - (ok, I have to admit as a former frequent First Class traveler I support this one, but don't blame the practice on security - call a spade a spade and blame it on elitism!) Come on!

We're investing a gazillion dollars all over the place these days on the appearance of security - money we're spending so we can feel better about security even if many of the actions don't really make us much more secure, and some of them kick common sense squarely in the balls.

If we really wanted security, we'd be on what I'll call The Israeli Model - "please step aside while I go through EVERYTHING in your suitcase AND your carry on, and don't mind the automatic weapon - its friendly - and would you mind a strip search if we suspect you need one?"

Can't see American's going for that anytime soon - we don't want to pay for it, we don't want the indignation and loss of liberty that come along with it, we don't want it. But in the meantime, thanks for the appearance of security - it makes us all feel just that much better... doesn't it?

Comments and Trackback Added...

"Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog."

Given everything I've read today about assholes that enter ads as comments on blogs everywhere, I'm wondering how long it will take to get spammed. The Trackback feature Haloscan provides seems very cool, though. I can see it dealing with part of the commenting issue for me - I like to comment on others' blogs but they have to have comments active, or I can write in my blog and trackback to their entry - remotely commenting their blog. What you don't get is the random comment from someone that's not doing Trackback.

We'll see how this goes. If you're using Trackback and its working or not, leave a comment. Don't leave a comment trying to sell me crap.

Selfless Service - In South Africa...

Tim Senger, a friend and former business partner, just returned to North America from a stint in South Africa. Tim resides in Edmonton (western Canada) but has just returned from nine months or so of living and working as a volunteer for the charity Edzimkulu, a society for children affected by AIDS, in a remote South African town called Ndawana:

"The Ndawana village lies along a beautiful valley close to the KwaZuluNatal/Eastern Cape border in South Africa. Estimates suggest the population is around 5,000. There’s no power, telephone, running water or sewage system, and the people are generally poor with an estimated umemployment rate of 80%."

Some of Tim's thoughts are online at Tim in Africa, where he's put together a collection of dispatches from the field and home, along with some great pictures. It really is true - a picture IS worth a thousand words - but for the life of me i can't figure out how to link to them; you'll have to go browse the stories and see for yourselves.

Tim's a very smart and insightful guy. He's one of the five founders of the company I joined and helped build some years ago, and working with and getting to know him and other friends there was a highlight of that whole experience. He's great with people, and I'm sure he had as profound an impact on those he served and served with in South Africa as they impacted him. He's also a great photographer - aside from his company and stories, I really enjoy his photos - hoping he'll post more.

Tim, if you read this, I really admire and respect your empathy, dedication and selflessness - three traits that we can always strive for more of, especially in the holiday season.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Yikes! - Someone's Reading This...


I signed up and implemented WebStat tonight, a free service, so I could get some feel for whether this stuff's being read. I tested it maybe an hour after my post on Harry's mention in DevHawk today, and... besides me, someone's reading this! Including one person who logged in from Japan - who the heck was that?

Altogether, it look like 5 people besides me looked at blahgkarma in that hour. That's amazing - I'll bet Harry sent all the traffic over, except I can't find a referrer's report in WebStat... which is odd. I just picked the service at random - if you're reading and you have a service you like, comment and let me know.

Wonder if I've pissed anyone off yet... it won't be long now, I'm sure. I'm getting good at that lately.

Honorable Mention...

Hey - blahgkarma got an honorable mention today. Not in the traditional "you ALMOST won" something sense... better than that my friend Harry Pierson mentioned me and my blog on DevHawk today. That's pretty cool. Somehow it makes blogging seem a little bit more real (did it feel surreal for anyone reading that's not a writer when they started putting thoughts online?).

Thanks for the kind words, Harry. I owe you dinner at Jak's.

I'll have to write sometime about the project we met on - the State of Washington Digital Government Academy; one of the most challenging and rewarding projects I've worked. Met lots of great folks, learned more than I taught, and earned a gazillion frequent flyer points (the weekly commute from South Florida to Seattle to Olympia was a bitch, though).

Sunday, December 05, 2004

A little good karma, anyone?

Some Good Karma?

After I posted my rant on The Great LiveStrong Ripoff, I realized I might be able to do a little good. Unfortunately, my limited PhotoShop skills really hampered me, but I created a little WearYellow ad, which I've included and added to my Blogger template. Its not perfect - and its not completely good karma, since its essentially another kind of rip off - I don't have any permission to use these images - but what the heck; if a couple of people click through and learn about the Lance Armstrong Foundation's efforts - they're focused on education and helping people live with cancer - then its worth the risk.

'tis the Season... for a ripoff?

Seems 'tis the season for ripping off the Lance Armstrong Foundation and folks living with/surviving Cancer.

Lance Armstrong Foundation Logo

You know those yellow LiveStrong bracelets you see everywhere these days? Well, some "enterprising" soul is producing a dead-knock off and selling it for other purposes. Bet exactly zero of the proceeds go to the Foundation. Glad Lance Armstrong and Nike spent the time and effort to develop a simple, powerful, compelling and easily executed idea - that someone else could co-opt for another purpose.

I'm as into capitalism as the next person, and chuckled when I'd heard a month or so ago that a secondary market had developed for the bracelets, which are selling like free money partly because they're cool, partly because the idea is cool, and partly because demand far outstripping supply is really cool. Don't want to order and wait the perpetual 3 or 4 or more week backorder period - hop on over to eBay and buy one for up to $20 US. In this case, I just figured "supply and demand, baby".

I don't have a problem with someone buying goods and reselling them - if constrained supply and/or high demand create a bubble in which some little entrepreneur can turn a buck as the middleman for a while, I figure "go for it". I wouldn't do it in this case (I have a hundred of these we're giving to customers as promos - we waited the 4 weeks)... but ripping off someone else's product/IP so you can ride their wave? That just sucks. What happened to originality?

See Seth Godin's blog for his original post on the subject and a follow-on with some of his reader's comments - do some of these folks understand just how slimy this is? Guess not... or maybe its just me.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

I Miss O'Byrne's Pub

Ever find a really great little pub? I did... very cool little Irish place on Whyte Avenue in Edmonton called O'Byrnes. Not only do I miss the place, I miss meeting Dave and Donna there n a Sunday afternoon when we were just bumming around (especially in the Summer - the Patio is great), or Darren on a Friday night after a horrendous week at the Canadian office. The best beer, too - Kilkenny, which I've never found here at home. Actually, most of the (many) beers I had in Canada were good.

If you find yourself in Edmonton, you HAVE to look this place up. Its pretty much in the middle of Whyte Avenue, which is a very cool little artsy/foodie section of the city not far south of downtown. Its right next door to the Varscona Hotel, which I'd have to say is the finest boutique hotel I've ever stayed in, and at around $90 a night CAD to boot.

Now that I think of it, I guess I miss meeting my friends at O'Byrnes more than I miss O'Byrnes. Hope you guys are well...

All I Want for Christmas Is...

A brand new Philips HeartStart Home Automatic External Defibrillator.

HeartStart Home AED

Sheesh... I can't believe anyone with $1500 US to burn can rush out to Amazon and buy their very own AED - no prescription required. These devices are great, but to date have been applied in public places, not on the wall of the living room or in the back seat of the car (OK, I lied - I have seen one in the back seat of a car - a guy in the aeromedical business I was looking to do some consulting work with carried one around. Odd.).

Here are a couple of excerpts from the Amazon product description:

The Philips HeartStart Home Defibrillator.
It's the latest in essential safety equipment. Fire extinguishers. Seat belts. Airbags. Home security systems. All essential safety equipment to protect yourself and your loved ones. You know they are there, silently standing by, just in case. They give you peace of mind so that you can focus on life's good things.

Who should have a HeartStart?
Anyone who wants a safer home. Consider the other essential safety equipment you own to protect your loved ones in case of an emergency. Fire extinguishers. Seat belts. Airbags. Now consider the likelihood of needing this equipment.

I guess my aversion here is not to the technology, or to folks that are affluent enough to buy one buying one, its the implication that an AED will eventually be positioned as a lifesaving device every American household should own ("Have you bought one of those things that will restart your heart yet, Marge?"), and that some asshole will inevitably wind up guilting folks that can't afford and don't need one into buying it instead of - oh, groceries or meds. I can see it now:

("How would you feel if Cletus there keels over one night and you don't have the Acme HartSlapper 55? Can you really afford NOT to have one? Its only $99 a month for the rest of your life").

I'm not suggesting Philips or Amazon are doing this - I think they're responsible, and the description of the product and what it does is accurate. But I see an industry developing here...

Just in case I'm off base and you're interested in one of these, click the link above and buy away. I coded it for the Amazon Affiliate Program, so at least if you're going to invest, I'll get a few bucks out of it along the way... act now, at $1500 they're $500 bucks off!


More Comments Halley...

Finding Halley's Comment proved to me (again) how small the world really is. While I was poking around in the archives, I saw Halley Suitt used to work for/with Harvard Business School Press, and that she helped put on an HBSP conference called "Next Generation Growth" in Cupertino, CA. Being the least-smart guy at that conference didn't keep me from asking what Clayton Christenson and Andy Grove thought was a pretty interesting question on management vs. leadership. If you don't follow the Tech business, Christenson wrote a few books (The Innovator's Dilemma, The Innovator's Solution, Seeing What's Next). If you're not living in the modern world, Grove is a co-founder and the Chairman of Intel, and wrote a couple of books (Swimming Across, Only the Paranoid Survive, High Output Management), They talked about the subject for 5 minutes or so.

Guess HBSP folks thought it was interesting, too, since they transcribed the conversation in the Harvard Management Update that included the conference. I'll have to dig up a copy.

The core of the question was "Has American business - specifically Tech - swung the pendulum too far toward management and the 'hire an MBA or ten to run the company' mentality and away from valuing leadership, or more specifically a healthy balance between management and leadership". Christensen agreed - Grove somewhat disagreed. It was fun.

I loved the conference - lots of great ideas - and loved better that funding the fee came from Professional Development dollars at my former software company. Getting a budget for attending forums like that one was a big triumph and even bigger milestone at the little (as yet unnamed) company, which was as conservative as any I've seen and more resistant to change than many (it felt like more than ANY), and had never invested in something like developing its execs (the company was only 15 years old at the time, so they'd not gotten around to it yet - grin).

Halley's Comment

This is a blog plug... (is that a "blug"?). I've mostly been reading technology-related blogs, and strictly via NewsGator, until I tripped across Halley's Comment. I'm really enjoying reading what Halley Suitt is writing - her blog to me reads like a little magazine of a life - one I don't know so well, but which feels to me to have a few things in common with mine.


Still learning about all this blogging stuff. I read most blogs via NewsGator, so I was looking at how my blog could be consumed that way. Found a feature that allows an ATOM link that's located at Guess I'll point NewsGator at that and see what happens...

What I really want is one of those cool little icons that show you're providing a feed for your blog. They're cool - like a little blog accessory. Everyone wants one of those...

Outlook is smarter than me...

Outlook 2003 is smarter than I am, and it knows what's best for me. Which is obviously why, after it took a lifetime downloading a legitimate message with an 80 MB attachment, it WON'T LET ME ACCESS IT. I remember seeing a note somewhere that this feature was around, and truthfully, the person that sent me the file could have had the foresight to zip it, but give me a break... no matter how I try, I can't seem the get the damned attachment out of the message.

I even imported the message into Outlook Express as a .pst file, hoping I was smarter than Express, but no - like its more fully-featured brother, it foiled with the "I'm protecting you from unsafe attachments" feature. Tried forwarding the message to another of my mail accounts and no joy - the message hasn't shown up in the account (at least I only get to it via browser - I have to be smarter than it).

If someone has randomly come across this message and is smarter than Outlook in this regard, send a smoke signal and let me know how to get around it.

So where in the world is...

Hobe Sound, Florida? I like to say its the first green place north of the South Florida Metroplex (for me, that's everything from Miami to Jupiter, Florida - all the stuff that seems to run together regardless of political boundary).

Hobe Sound is the southernmost town in Martin County, Florida. Martin County has pretty much had a no- or slow/moderate-growth policy for the past 20 years, which my town benefits from. I guess there are maybe 10,000 residents or so, and we're right on the east coast - literally, like we're a beach town. Beautiful public beach about a mile and a quarter from my house (yes, I'm rubbing it in). I'll have to post a picture or two.

But please, whatever you do - don't come here. We have to tell lies like "traffic is terrible and the weather's worse" to keep new residents from moving here and further driving the housing market through the roof. That's the way in so much of Florida - get to a place and then hope you can slam the door shut on the next guy that wants to move here and enjoy what you enjoy. Oh well - life here today's great, the sun's shining and the Christmas parade is just wrapping up. What more could you ask for?

Students of the Unusual

Hey - while I was browsing for the Three Boys Productions link, I remembered that Pat's involved in another creative (ad)venture - its a comic book series called Students of the Unusual. I don't know the history, but Terry Cronin, one of the Three Boys, has been working to design and produce a comic book, and its underway. Got a cool review on, although it was hard to find (could someone make a good search engine, please - grin).

Pat's a creative guy - and a real hard worker. He's gearing up to sort of change careers and put his fulltime efforts into writing, independant filmmaking and other creative pursuits; I respect it and envy him. Has to be a bit intimidating to commit to doing all this creative stuff full time, but that's his passion. Of course its a little fun for me, too, since I get to be computer-boy to his creative genius. A little Final Cut Pro here, a little "can you fix the computer" there. All low pressure, high fun stuff.

Amazon - Amazing?

Well, I have a blog now, and what do you know? I was browsing around today and tripped over something unexpected on Amazon called Amazon Theater. It was a page/section that featured short movies. At first I thought this was something like what my friend Pat Martin from Three Boys Productions is trying to do with short films like "The Ride" (OK, so I helped edit that one) and MilkMaids (in post-production) - make and aggregate them and then deliver them a variety of different ways.

That wasn't it, though. I watched one film, Agent Orange, and really enjoyed it... but I didn't get it. Not the film - it was self explanatory - but why Amazon was hosting the film. So, I watched another... "Do Geese See God" - this one featured Blair Underwood. Watched the whole thing, and still didn't get it. So I watched it again, and then figured out that its interactive (I won't spoil it - if you don't get it, look around on the page hosting the movie).

Still not getting it. So I scroll the page the movie's hosted on, and there it is... the movies feature products that are then advertised on the pages hosting the movies! I KNEW there had to be a commercial motivation somewhere, but duh! Of course then I browsed back to the original page and had I read it, I would have known. God I love Capitalism!

I'm not looking to advertise for Amazon, but this was kind of a cool idea, and I did like the two movies. Check it out... wonder how far ideas like this will go?

Thursday, December 02, 2004


Hello there. Welcome to BlogKarma. Ok - I guess its actually "BlahgKarma". Seems that the word "blog" can't appear in the title of a blog here on Blogger. Hmmm. Depending on what I write, "blahgkarma" might actually be more descriptive, "blah" being the operative word!

Not sure what I'm doing here, exactly, except maybe getting over some kooky little aversion I've had to writing random thoughts for others to see. A good friend from Microsoft, Harry Pierson, started blogging DevHawk - oh, I don't know - two years ago - and has been trying to get me to start writing since, but I've always had about a gazillion excuses not to. Especially "what would I write that anyone else would read". Guess we'll find out how that works.

Thanks, and good luck finding whatever it is that brought you down this branch of the web - pretty sure its not in this post!