Saturday, December 30, 2006

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Working on the format

Over the Holidays I'm planning on changing the template of my blog as well as some of the content in the sidebar. If you have any feedback for me, just post a comment below.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Tremendous news for Celiacs

"ST. LOUIS — People with wheat allergies who have stayed away from beer now have a new option. Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. (BUD) on Wednesday introduced Redbridge, which the company called the first nationally available sorghum beer. Starting Wednesday, Redbridge is available in restaurants and stores carrying organic products."

Read the rest at -,2933,237799,00.html

What I find so important about this is that a major company that made wheat based products is waking up to the untapped demand for gluten-free versions of their mainstays.

Open honest feedback at AOL

I wouldn't doubt that some people will feel I'm a bad person because I don't give all of my web usage to AOL considering I work there. I do use Google for quite a few things one of which being Alerts which is how I found a recent post by Steve Gaitten who's Director of Product Marketing for Community Products.

It looks like Steve started blogging this past October and his latest post was advice to Ron Grant and Randy Falco. This is not a short or superficial post, there is serious thought behind it. I agree with most of it.

There are a few points that Steve has made that I disagree with.

Steve's Point #2 covered a lot of ground - "Culture matters, it's broken, fix it."

My feedback - We all have a responsibility to create culture, not just Ron and Randy. Your ability and responsibility to impact culture increases the further you are up in the organization. I can't tell you how many times in meetings with people from all levels where they have complained about AOL. Great, thanks for sharing, now how do we fix it?

Subpoints - "Fire incompetent employees, replace GOAlign"

These two issues are highly intertwined. Writing actionable goals takes time and effort. I always have my managers write their own goals. They write the first draft and it becomes an interactive process, back and forth. I make sure they are on track and there's enough of a stretch in them. When it comes time for scoring any difficult discussions are easier because, they had an active effort in writing in their goals. While they are working to achieve them it's easier because the fully understand them.

This takes me to performance management, without clearly defined goals and ways of measuring them it becomes difficult to manage out poor performers and reward the rest.

The feedback that GOAlign needs closer watching from the top down to ensure goals and feedback are done on time is needed, but it doesn't prevent any manager from doing it themselves today for the area of the company they manage.

Are there things I'd like to change about GOAlign? You bet, but for now it'll have to do.

For 2007 my directs are already drafting their goals (in Word), with the goal of goals being in GOAlign by mid-January for everyone on our collective team. I'm lucky because for the most part unless there is a dramatic shift in company strategy the work of my teams don't dramatically change. The tool does allow for goals to be added or changed over the course of year, maybe people aren't leveraging this ability and adjusting during the year.

On point #6 "Hire from within, Whenever possible" and point #7 "Value Tenure"
Sounds good, but unless point #2 is nailed 6 and 7 are more difficult to achieve.

I'm disappointed that there are only a few page views of Steve's blog, more employees should read this and comment. I'll be sending it out to my directs.

Happy Holidays!

And thanks to Steve for taking to time to write a thoughtful and thought provoking post!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Interesting video clip on WSJ regarding Yahoo Local

Here's a great video segment from of an interview with the GM of Yahoo! Local. He talks about their plans for the future.

Update: I guess's video content expires. Why even offer the ability to post it if it's only good for a day or so?

Yahoo Messenger Upgrade a Yahoo Search Trojan Horse?

Yesterday I was prompted by Yahoo Messenger to upgrade to a new version which included a security upgrade. I almost accepted the upgrade until I looked at the box on the right of the screen.

As well as the newest version of Yahoo! Messenger, you'll also get these helpful Yahoo! tools and services.

Their toolbar, changing your existing homepage to and making Yahoo your search engine.

I'm sure plenty of people don't pay attention and click away only to find their MSN or AOL homepage is gone. It would be nice if they put check boxes on that page so it was easy to opt-out of these other "upgrades."

Monday, December 18, 2006

Charge non-fliers to walk through security

Apparently the TSA is allowing some airports to test letting non-passengers go through security checkpoints. As a frequent flier this makes me nervous because it could causes delays for actual fliers. I already pay a security fee every time I fly, these non-fliers will only slow down the lines and they don't have to pay a dime.

Almost every time I fly I see people getting stopped for various infractions and then they argue with the TSA people which slows down everybody.

Charge non-fliers $20 to go through security. This should keep people out of the lines as well as pay for more screeners.

Second Annual Festivus in Las Vegas - Update 2

Continuing in the Festivus festivities we headed off for dinner at Mix, located at the top of the Hotel at Mandalay Bay. The meal was delicious and afterwards we walked into the club area and enjoyed the view of the entire strip at night.

Saturday started off with a quick ride on the New York, NY roller coaster which was well worth it. I haven't been on a roller coaster in a long time and it was intense.

We then grabbed the Las Vegas monorail for a ride down to the other end of the strip. Of course there was a narrative played as we traveled. The first thing that struck me was the ride was NOT smooth at all. It jumped around almost as much as a NYC subway. The narrative then mentioned how it was one of the most modern monorails. My impression was that a monorail should be a smooth ride.

We arrived at the end of the line and expected a quick walk down to Fremont Street, quickly it was obvious that it was too far to walk and through a relatively sketchy looking neighborhood. We hailed down a taxi which happened to be a Chrysler 300. We hopped in and I thought I was back on the roller coaster. This guy was blasting heavy metal music to the point where I couldn't hear anything. My buddy was in the front seat looking stressed out, from my vantage point I couldn't see the speedometer which was a good thing.

This guy raced down the strip, I thought we hit 50 mph easily (later found out we hit 80 mph on Las Vegas Blvd).

Fremont Street was definitely not like the strip, it was run down. We stopped in a few casinos to see what they were all about. Not for us, blackjack tables with "liberal rules." It's worthwhile for a visit, but I wouldn't recommend spending any significant time there.

We then visited the Stratosphere for the view from the top. The view was spectacular, they also have a few rides that we avoided. Next stop was Caesars, the ladies wanted to check out the Forum shops and my buddy and I stopped for a beverage at the cigar store near the Tommy Bahamas shop. After relaxing for a while we had to head back for dinner at Alize in the Palms.

Alize was clearly the best meal we had in Las Vegas. Our table was dead center against the windows facing the strip for the best view in the house. The waiter Derreck was great and even let us in on their speciality of habanero infused vodka. The vodka was so spicy that they didn't serve it to their guests, it was used as a rite of passage for the staff. I like spicy foods so my buddy and I tried it after dinner. Highly recommended.

After dinner we had tickets to the Blue Man Group at the Venetian. Excellent show.

That wrapped up a great Festivus holiday. We experienced a few Festivus Miracles, including winning at the tables.

I did forget to mention that we visited the Bodies exhibit at the Tropicana. Simply amazing to see what we look like inside.

Looking forward to our third annual Festivus trip next year (Dec 13th to the 16th). Hope to see you all there.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Second Annual Festivus in Las Vegas - Update 1

My wife and I traveled to Vegas last year this time as a nice little pre-game vacation for the holidays. We met up with another couple we met on our honeymoon and had a great time. We decided to make it an annual tradition and we're here again.

In honor of my Seinfeld devotion, I've used Festivus as the official reason for going. It's Festivus in Vegas.

So far we are having a great time, my best man and his wife came this time. We enjoyed our complementary passes to the Shark Reef, and I found a booth that sells custom made bobble head figures. I now am expecting a custom bobble head of myself in about seven weeks. (I was glad that there wasn't a surcharge for my rather large head)

After a light dinner at Noodles in the Bellagio we watched their fountains and returned to Mandalay Bay for some Blackjack. We called it an early night as we were going to attend our own "feats of strength" event in the morning.

8 am we headed off for a morning of mountain biking in Red Rock Canyon. This is the third time I've ridden with Escape Adventures and with our guide, Kurt. It was a great ride and I highly recommend it to everyone.

For lunch we dined at the Burger Bar, I had an amazing Buffalo burger with Jalapeno bacon. Apparently they soak the bacon in Jalapeno juice for 24 hours before cooking it.

Then we were back at the Blackjack tables with continued good luck.

To recover from the "feats of strength" we headed to the Bathhouse Spa at the Hotel. After dry sauna, steam room, hot tub, and cold tub I was fully prepared for an 80 minute deep muscle massage.

Now we are off to Mix for dinner.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Co-registration Mousetraps Advertising on the Radio

Driving home this evening from the airport I listened to a radio ad for some "get a free ipod" site. They mentioned that companies like BMG and Blockbuster wanted to give them surveys or free offers.

The URL they mentioned to visit couldn't be that memorable since I can't remember it now.

I wonder how the economics work out on it.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

My best Black Friday story

Watching this video segment on Wallstrip reminded me of an amazing Black Friday story experience by old co-worker.

Since the embedding isn't working click here to go directly to the video.

There was a brand new Walmart in Baltimore at Port Covington. Map of Walmart Portrait Studio:410-752-7970 2701 Port Covington Dr
Baltimore, MD 21230, US

Apparently when it opened that morning(Black Friday) two gentlemen made a run for the $25 DVD players where they placed all of them into their shopping carts. They took all that they could grab.

Then they proceeded to hangout in the store and sell them to people for $20 (I think that was the number, any number over zero is funny). People were actually buying the ability to purchase one from Walmart.

At some point Walmart figured this out and shut them down, but not before they made off with some cash.

How I'd put advertising on user generated video

I've been thinking about video advertising on user generated videos for the past few weeks and this is how I'd do it.

One of the biggest challenges advertisers face on user generated video sites is the massive amount of videos whose quality and content varies greatly. If I was a brand conscious advertiser I would be worried about showing pre, intra, or post-roll to something that could be detrimental for my brand image.

My proposed solution is to use the number of views as a critical metric:

  1. Quality and content is reviewed at various thresholds of popularity. First level of popularity would be outsourced overseas, next level would be people looking for innuendos and subtitles that might be missed by non-native English speaker. Final level would be professional editors. At each level of review you'd also have more tags, etc added to the video to help further increase the velocity.
  2. Upon each review the video is tiered and classified which then drives the type of advertiser who can run on that video clip.
  3. As the views increase, start to place shift the insertion of the ad. When is first runs and there is no human review, run CPA and non-brand sensitive advertisers post-roll. As human review occurs then start then move to mid-stream. When it reaches Mentos/Diet Coke level of fame, pre-roll.

There are a few things that need to happen for this to work.

1. Need to revenue share with the poster or maybe their favorite charity. If there isn't a reason to keep the video on video sharing site, you'll have multiple versions running everywhere as the author puts the video on multiple sites to increase viewership.

2. Control the duplicates on your video site, use video IQ or something to reduce the copies. Not doing so will only reduce the velocity of the streams on a single video.

3. Keep copies of videos off other sites.

LMK your thoughts.


Andy turned me onto Wallstrip. Great concept, video segments are great. I've included two below.

Not impressed by Revver, their stream is jumpy sometimes. Doesn't seem to work with Blogger either.