Thursday, December 27, 2007

Where have all the adults gone?

The sub prime bailout being discussed is disappointing on many levels. After reading articles off-line and online I've come up with my own categorization process. With regard to the defaulting borrowers there are 3 buckets.

1. The Shim-shamed - These are borrowers who had mortgage brokers et all falsify documents or outright lie to people to make the loan (purchase) happen.

2. The Speculators - These are borrowers who borrowed with the goal of making money on flips. Some used no-doc loans etc to buy homes to fix-up and sell quickly. Which works in rising markets, but "when the musics over turnout the lights. " The Doors

3. The Over-extenders - These are borrowers who bought as much as they could assuming some other positive economic shock (raise, etc) would occur that allowed them to re balance their finances. Or they weren't expecting a negative economic shock such as losing a job.

I think I've got the borrowers covered with these three segments. Now for the lenders.

I found a great article today on which had a link out to a graphical explanation of how the CDOs worked. It's a great visual that let's you go step by step. Take the time and follow the flow of the money and the securitized mortgages, you'll be shocked.

Reminds me of Enron.

The United States needs to re-examine it's priorities and citizens need to step-up and be adults. Take ownership for your mistakes (translation: don't expect the government to always come to the rescue if you're in category 2 or 3) and take care of yourself (translation: save for retirement).

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Technology and the Trucker on

Great to see the company that makes those truck all-in-one units actually up and running.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Sunday, December 09, 2007

My First Facebook Beacon Encounter

I read an article about Vans offering fully customizable slip-ons the other day during my daily commute. This lead me to visit the Vans site where I noticed their limited edition Iron Maiden slip-ons. Since Iron Maiden was one of my first favorite bands I had to pick up a pair.

These will be perfect for my Las Vegas Festivus trip.

I stopped by to buy them and after the checkout I was asked whether I want to share my purchase on my Facebook page. From my perspective it was clear to me what they were asking me to do. Cool - I opted-in.

Here's what happened to my page. Nothing too scary from my perspective.

screen shot of facebook beacon for zappos

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Loving the Roomba 570

I know this is my third Roomba post, but every week that goes by makes me value my Roomba even more. Mine is set to clean three times a week(MWF) at 11am.

It might not clean as well as a Dyson upright vacuum, but it does keep up with the dirt and dust. What I would like to see them do is figure out how to make the lighthouses smaller. Right now they are a bit obtrusive. Maybe something that's slim and sticks to your baseboard with Velcro.

The only disappointment so far is that the side brush has had two tines break off. I'll be contacting customer service about that.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Is this AdWords ad OK?

If you're reading this blog you know I'm an Internet ad guy. How does this translate into my surfing habits? I watch out for ads and explore ones that seem interesting.

Using my Gmail account I came across a sponsored link - "
Free Oreo Cakesters - - Get a Free Sample of Oreo Cakesters Soft Snack Cake in 2 Flavors!"

I clicked on it immediately to find out what this was all about. For some reason it struck me as odd that Nabisco would be giving away a free sample of Oreo Cakesters via AdWords.

You'll notice in the ad text is refers to . Which if you visit you'll also notice is owned and operated by Kraft Foods.

Instead you end up on which is a co-registration path. I'm not sure that the cute Oreo characters would like to force an interested consumer through a gauntlet of offers.

Or maybe they don't want their brothers and sisters boxed up, shipped, and eaten by a hungry Internet surfer?

I read the Google AdWords Advertising Policies page and had trouble finding something that explicitly made this use not OK. I must be missing something.

Waiting for the Wii

This morning as I headed into the city for work a call came through from a co-worker. He was waiting in line for a Wii at the Nintendo store in the middle of Rockefeller Center. It was around 7am, which was early until he told me he was in line on 6th Avenue.

I had waited in line during the summer and had no problem getting a Wii standing in line starting around 8am.

I told him I'd stop by and say hello as I walked past the store and followed the line, it was amazing. Grandmothers, mothers, fathers, kids, urban holiday arbitragers, and a few people who were could have been mistaken for homeless or they were very well equipped for outdoor urban living.

Why am I blogging about this? Because I read an interesting article on regarding Nintendo and their assumed strategy regarding the Wii. Lessons can be drawn from those faddish Tamagotchi toys. Check out the article if you subscribe.

Update: I just got the call, he missed one by about 100 people.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Social Networking for Stoners

Reading Rolling Stone magazine on my way into work this morning I came across an article that had a few different MySpace/Facebook-esqe social networking sites featured.

The one that stuck out the most was Potspace, "the largest online marijuana community for weed smokers." The site is something else.

It never ceases to amaze me what people will do online.

3D Printing At Home - WSJ

This is one of the more interesting home projects I've seen in a while.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Sending Email Late Night

Being a subscriber to I came across a blog post on The Juggle. It's a blog dedicated to work and family balance. This post touched on the impact and interpretation of sending emails after traditional work hours.

There is some interesting context provided by Google employees as well as other executives.

What struck me about this email is that it brings back my 360 feedback sessions with my direct and second level direct reports. I was guilty of sending emails at all times as well as being online at all times.

While I'd like to report that I don't send late night emails any more, I still do. I have explained to my directs and second level directs that they don't need to respond in the same time frame. Although I think the precedent I'm setting is still problematic. "Do as I say, not as I do."

Of course sometimes there are emergencies as my role is in advertising operations and the Internet advertising runs 24x7. In these cases I might drop a SMS message to a report's cell phone to check email asap.

I'm also starting to leverage the delayed send feature in Outlook that allows you to set the delivery time.

Re-opting Out

Since my wife and I purchased a new home and moved we found ourselves increasingly inundated with credit related offers. We had much success in the past opting out of the credit bureau's database marketing services. Our junk mail was reduce by over 80%!

This time we could use a website to re-opt-out. The last time we opted out we both had to call a 800 number maintained by the credit bureaus.

If you dislike junk mail, dislike the wasted trees in all that paper then visit the website and opt-out.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Should be a good movie

I also appreciate that they made the trailer embeddable.

Monday, November 19, 2007

ThermaCare HeatWraps for Staying Warm Outside

This past weekend I spent some time at the Hillside Hunting Club and one of the other hunters let me in on a secret to keep warm while you sit outside waiting for a deer or turkey.

ThermaCare lower back heat wraps. Wrap one or two of them across your torso and they help keep you warm for 8+ hours.

Here's the old fashion way of keeping warm - circa 1955.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Roomba 570 should be perfect for small retail stores

This Saturday I had the opportunity to stop by La Shed Du Fred in Callicoon to look at their custom furniture. They make amazing pieces out of reclaimed barn wood and non-toxic finishes.

Irregardless as we were chatting with the owners it came up that it was difficult to find people to clean the store. I suggested they look into buying a Roomba as they could set it to run in the evening after the store closes.

It would be a simple and easy way for small retail shops to keep their stores clean. Sure you'd still need to dust items, but the floor could be vacuumed every night.

Next time I visit to order our dining room table I'll bug them about getting a Roomba.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

If subprime loans weren't enough

Here's a great article in the NY Times highlighting the shortcuts and challenges with the Frankenstein financing of recent mortgages.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Email Is Broken

Since I signed up for Facebook and MySpace and worked on becoming a regular user of both I've come to the conclusion that email innovation stalled, it stalled a long time ago.

Reading Saul Hansell's blog post on "Inbox 2.0" just further confirms a growing feeling in my gut. Email evolution stalled and others filled the gap created.

I liken email to the telephone, except it never really evolved or kept up with the evolution of the Internet.

Did it ever really embrace Web 1.0? Maybe recently with instant messaging being incorporated into the email services.

As Saul points out there hasn't been innovation on helping make the inbox more useful, helping you prioritize, etc.

The telephone has caller id, call waiting, voice mail, call forwarding, universal phone numbers, etc.

I know when I log into Facebook I will only see communications from my friends. There are no pharma spam ads, just the chatter of friends and old acquaintances.

Saul makes a great point that people might not have great expectations with email, but it's a universal communication tool that is not "owned" by a single company. I can join Gmail and email someone on Yahoo. Today that doesn't work between Facebook and MySpace for example.

If the majors want to capture email share they need to evolve the inbox and make it useful again. Most of them have all of the functionality that Facebook or MySpace has but it's spread out among various products. There is minimal integration.

What would happen if all of the functionality was added in and the velvet rope was setup?

Email is a universal communication tool, that needs to evolve. We need an arms race in the inbox to improve the functionality and relevance.

Business still runs on email, most companies have their own email server. I find it hard to imagine that every company would switch to Facebook for communication. Imagine new email tools that weave in social functionality, it's happening with top of mind with me.

Apologies for the ads

I feel the need to apologize as I noticed the ads that were running on this blog from a certain ad network after I added their tag. Sure this a small site, but I did not sign-up for having suggestive banner ads. The ad I saw this morning had woman's undergarments and I'll leave it at that.

Tags GONE.

It's 180 degrees from his day job

Interesting video story from the WSJ Online. Personally I find home repair / construction work to be my prospecting.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Another Great HBS Post

"Why is Succesion So Poorly Manage?" is another great HBS post. I might have to pick up the book, The CEO Within.

My Roomba 570 Maiden Voyage

Well our Roomba 570 ran around our co-op today covering two rooms and a hallway. We keep the place clean and I am still amazed at what it picked up.

Below is a picture of the dirt and dust it picked up. It'll be interesting to see what it picks up on Thursday. (Please ignore the leaks)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Roomba 570 has arrived

Diana and I returned home tonight to find the Roomba box waiting outside our door. Of course I had to set it up immediately and try it out. The manual recommends a deep 16 hour charge to start, but I figured a few minutes running around would be good for it.

The co-op looks clean, but sure enough the collection chamber had a significant amount of dirt in it. I'll write more when it's fully up and running, but I'm impressed so far.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Business Class on Southwest?

I'm a big fan of Southwest Airlines. When I lived in Baltimore is was the preferred carrier for any business trip out of BWI. I would forgo other airlines and direct flights to fly Southwest. They are the easiest to earn a free ticket and I could decide who was sitting next to me. (Click here for my older SWA posts)

Now they launched Business Select, apparently you pay a small premium which entitles you to board with the A group. I guess you don't need to race to print your board pass any longer. There is greater flexibility in changing your ticket as well as getting a full refund. You'll also earn more frequently flier points!

They also launched Business as well which doesn't have preferred boarding.

Smells like enhanced yield management.

Could it be that business travelers are competitive for the A slots and would gladly forgo $$s to skip the line?

Could the business traveler be the only people who earn free tickets normally and would pay the extra charge since it's really their business paying the cost?

Thoughts anyone?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Google Maps coming to a gas pump near you

Google Maps will soon be at gas pumps near you. You'll be able to print out directions while filling up your car with costly gasoline. What's interesting is that the gas retailer will be able to choose the points of interest that show up on the map. They'll be able to generate some revenue off coupons on the points of interest.

Initially it doesn't look like you'll be able to type in an exact address.

Monday, November 05, 2007

What is this world coming to?

A new drug from fermented human waste? - read it here

Buying a Roomba online and watching the remarketing

I broke down and ordered a Roomba today. Next thing I'm seeing are banner ads for the Roomba.

Re-targeting me? YES, but I purchased one.

I purchased one through Google Checkout - my guess is there was no cancellation pixel on the thank you page.

Either way not a big deal, intent has been shown, so show me ads about the Roomba.

When people talk about better targeting for better ads, this is the first step. Much better than seeing an ad about punching a monkey.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Baltimore/DC Weekend

Just go back from a Baltimore/DC weekend. What normally takes 4 hours, took 6 hours to get home. PAINFUL

Diana and I celebrated my birthday Saturday night at Holy Frijoles in Hampden with Jon Alsop. Great dinner and some great artwork by Scott Fishpaw.

This was also my Johns Hopkins Second Decade Society weekend and for a few hours we reviewed various committee updates. There were some amazing donation statistics reviewed that completely blew me away. People just don't contribute to the school. Sure there is a percent that does, but the number has to be greater if we ever plan on growing our endowment. Something we'll have to work on.

This morning Diana and I stopped in the 7-11 in Hampden and sure enough I ran into a police officer who used to hassle our fraternity when we had parties.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Added the new Plaxo Pulse Widget

Reading TechCrunch through Google Reader this morning I read their post about the new Plaxo Pulse Widget. I'm a big Plaxo fan and this is another nice addition to their product suite - I've added it to my right rail.

One other observation I've had is that the Amazon widget always seems to take forever to load. I wonder if that has to do with my page or is it a Amazon problem? Of my readers do you notice that the black Amazon widget to the right takes forever to load?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

WSJ stops by the Art of Shaving

I tried AoS in Las Vegas.

Day of the shave - great

Day after - great

Two days after - my face was on fire

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Rawlings CEO's Secret to Success

This week's episode of History's Business on the History Channel had a great interview with Robert Parish, the president of Rawlings.

His secret for success?

First, success is something you don't measure over 3 or 4 years you measure it over a career.

Second, something I don't like seeing is someone putting self interests before the company's interest. Think first what's good for the brand, think first what's good for the business and act accordingly. I guarantee you that your personal and professional career will grow at a faster rate then it would otherwise.

Great advice.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Some thoughts for the week so far...

Much has happened this week, which made me think about an older post.

"What's Your e-slope?"

Something to think about.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Keeping in touch and staying in-sync

It is time for a fall clean-up of many contacts. I'm a Plaxo Premium subscriber and also a fan of Linkedin. Only recently I started using Facebook, but I'm not finding it that useful yet.

My general rule of thumb for me to accept an invitation on LinkedIn is that I need to know you and your work. My LinkedIn's contact count will never equal my Plaxo count. It'll always be less.

I'm amazed at how many invites I get from people I don't know. We might work at the same company, but we've never met.

Anyway, I want to make sure everything is up-to-date.

I decide to use the new sync feature on Plaxo that logs into LinkedIn and pulls in all of the data. Then I run the super duper de-duper which found a large number of duplicates. There were many instances where the same person had vastly different contact information.

It seems people have profiles on Plaxo and LinkedIn and they are different and that causes some indigestion for Plaxo.

Maybe Plaxo should have a feature that checks your profile on other sites it syncs with to help fix your own syncing problem.

Testing out mobile bloging from

Testing out mobile bloging from my cell phone.

Friday, October 12, 2007

32D was not the seat I was looking for

I flew back last night from Las Vegas having attended RAPT's annual summit. It was a great event and in an effort to get home quickly I took a Delta red-eye back to JFK.

I board the plane, find my seat, 32D, isle, last row, next to the toilets.


Next to me is a couple who proceed to complain to the flight attendant that their seats don't recline enough. The flight attendant replies, "one seat in that row is broken."

I look down and sure enough there is professional looking piece of duct tape covering the hole where the reclining button would normally reside.

First thing I asked for was a different seat, no luck - completely full flight.

They should have taken that seat out of service.

Thanks Delta - I'm exhausted today.

The only thing that could make the flight worse is someone is found to have TB on it.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Two New Customers from Google Maps

Visited my stylist today to get my hair cut.

Yes, I did write stylist, with my melon head I need an expert to cut my hair. In Baltimore I frequented a chain and on many occasions I detected alcohol on my barber's breath.

Earlier this summer I wanted to experience the business registration process on Google's Local Business Center so I offered to setup Special Effects of East Hampton.

Today when I walked in Elaine the owner, stopped me and said she had gotten two customers from Google.

I asked how she was so sure.

"They told me."

What took 10 minutes, resulted in 2 known customers. Not bad.

In the last 30 days 80 people have viewed Special Effects.

Related Posts:
Replicating the army of yellow page sales people

The Rude Hamptons Makes the Long Island Free Press

The Long Island Free Press published a nice article on citizen bloggers on Long Island this past week and they featured my site -

Thanks LIFP!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Had some minor surgery today

I'm not sure I would classify it as surgery since the podiatrist only used novacane to numb my big toe. It's a simple procedure to remove part of your toenail along the edge to prevent ingrown nails. In the interest of furthering the public knowledge I was planning on taking a video of the procedure. He didn't seem keen on it, so instead I found a video on YouTube.

Please note this is not my toe.

Also please note this video is graphic in nature and should only be viewed by people who can handle live surgery.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

George Bush Senior on Amtrak Acela First Class

Something unexpected happened this past Thursday as a I returned from Baltimore from a day trip to visit some friends.

I'm sitting in my first class seat (only worth it if you have upgrade coupons) as the train pulls into Philadelphia. Facing the only entrance into the car I noticed two huge men in suits with buttons on their lapels board. They looked like security for someone.

Next person who walks on is the former president, George Bush. Then followed by another approximately six secret service people.

At one point I heard one agent ask if there was assigned seating. Guess they never ride Amtrak.

Everyone got off in NYC and as expected there were cops everywhere who kept the path clear as GW walked out to his motorcade.

Imagine being the person he sat next to, that would have to be an interesting ride.

Netbank Closed by the FDIC

Never seen this happen before.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Moving to Blogger

Just changed my DNS settings on, going forward will point to my blog.

Monday, September 24, 2007

My Summer of George

I'm on vacation this week, enjoying some new technology and catching up with friends. My latest purchase is the new iPod touch. I picked it up this afternoon at the Apple Store near Central Park. The place was packed, the lines were really long.

Apple had a solution, there was a person just selling touches with a portable credit card machine. Just received the receipt via email.

It's a cool little device, much smaller than my second generation iPod. More to come.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

WSJ Geek Squad Video

Check out the first customer in this video. She paid the Geek Squad to call Dell tech support.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Good thing I don't have a second car right now

otherwise I'd track down the owners of the last Honda repair shop I visited and demand they open their repair shop back up whatever the time.

My Honda Element has come down with a flat tire at 8pm tonight. I go to change that said tire and the said tire lock key was no where to be found.

They were the last to use it when they rebalanced my tires.

I'll post more when I get through with them.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Remembering 9/11

The WSJ has a great interview with Howard Lutnick the CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald. Howard recounts this day six years ago, how he missed getting trapped in the towers, and what Cantor is doing for the survivors.

They have set aside 25% of the profits for the families of the employees who were lost. $180 million.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Dining at Mr. Taco

If you're looking for authentic Mexican cuisine and you live in Westchester you must stop at Mr. Taco on North Avenue in New Rochelle.

Their guacamole is just amazing. They even import their soda from Mexico.

Having lunch there on Sunday we saw something that blew both of our minds. A family arrived with two girls who had to be 4-5 years old.

Each was drinking a Red Bull. While the small can proportionally looked more normal than a can of soda, I can't imagine what effect the caffeine would have on them.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Essential Websites

I just added my essential websites module on the right rail.

Wolfgang's Vault is first on the list. Hands down this is my favorite place to listen to music online. AOL Music comes as a close second.

Weird Wild Stuff at Cittanuova

My wife, brother-in-law, and I had dinner at Cittanuova last night on the back patio. As usual we enjoyed an excellent meal, but all of a sudden two giant slugs caught our attention.

Apparently they were mating. I used my trusty cell phone to take a picture and video of this very public weird wild stuff.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

How Can Flying Get Worse?

Start providing instant messaging on a plane. Watch this video.

Some of my previous posts on Southwest traveling.
Are you in the A line?
Business Travel?

Monday, August 27, 2007

What's Southwest Airlines New Strategy To Be?

I won't be answering that question in this post, but I do want to point out something I read today. In my Google Reader is the Airline Hub, a news site all things airlines. I noticed a blurb that Southwest is poised to be the number one airline in the world in passengers carried.

That means they'll beat out American Airlines the champ for the past five years. All I can think about is the impact this will have on SWA as well as the rest of the airline industry.

The no-frills, alternative airport carrier is dominating.

As Scott Ferber, co-founder of, used to say, "It's a lot hard when you're number one." When you weren't number one you always had someone else to chase after.

Congrats SWA, you're about to be number one. What's the second encore?

Top on my list is a closer airport to NYC then Islip.

Great Wallstrip on Costco

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Favorite Posts This Week

Energy Outlook -has a great post on energy conservation and how utilities could facilitate it.

MediaPost - feedback on YouTube's new video ad format.

PickTheBrain - 7 ways to become more action oriented.

Digital Thoughts @DMConfidential - Two great posts looking into the sub-prime debacle along with payday loans and credit cards. Part 2

Great BusinessWeek column on CEOs and Leadership

I'm a regular BusinessWeek reader, usually digesting a magazine during my morning gym workout.

One of my favorite columns is The Welch Way which is in every issue written by Jack and Suzy Welch.

Two pages earlier in the September 3rd edition I found Outside Shot written by Henry S. Givray. The title of his article, "When CEOs Aren't Leaders."

"The problem's roots lie in the fact that the terms "CEO" and "leader" have mistakenly become synonymous. Nothing could be further from the truth. CEOs are measured by quantitative results. Leaders are shaped and defined by character. CEOs are expected to boost sales, improve profit margins, and make money for shareholders. Leaders inspire and enable others to do excellent work and realize their potential. As a result, they build successful, enduring organizations." - Givray

Givray points out that we have lost our way at many corporations where we have hired CEOs who are not leaders. I won't get into the three easy steps Givray lays out to fix the situation thats for you to read.

Either way this is a thought provoking article for anyone in a management position. It's beyond just being a manager, it's being a leader as well.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Jonny A's got a blog

A good friend and business colleague just dropped me an email about his new blog. While there are only three posts, there's some great content. Dog fighting and sports, eating peaches and plums, as well as how to cure toe fungus with vick's vapor rub.

Jon you've been added to my RSS reader. Correction: need to fix your feed, I can't find it.

The pigs are done

Unfortunately night fell quickly, so the last photo I shot was the final product. Overall it's was a great evening, with a variety of home-made bbq sauce and fresh Hamptons produce.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Replicating the army of yellow page sales people

Google is making a smart move launching their Business Referral Representative program. The program is quite simple, you get paid as a independent contractor if you help input and verify local business listing information.

The implications of this are tremendous because as Google gathers hours of operations and category of business from which they can literally create custom trial packages of advertising for these businesses. They could even offer websites for them with templates for barbers or plumbers for example.

Imagine you're the owner of a plumbing company. You might get a letter or email from Google offering a geo-targeted package of keywords along with a hosted website that can gather all the information you need for you to help convert a new customer.

In my past exposures to the local business advertising market I noticed there is a fundamental challenge of access issue to the local businesses owner. Yellow page companies have an advantage of feet-on-the-street and a product they sell that works for many of their customers. The local YP sales representative has a personal relationship with their customer. There is a level of trust. This relationship makes up-selling additional offerings easy compared to trying to reach these customers some other way.

The local sales person knows the business, they know the hours, the geographical coverage.

With this strategy Google collects all the information in a structured format that will allow them to market in a one to one fashion to each local business in their fold. This could lead to unprecedented scale in accessing the small-medium business market.

The SMB market is hard to target and expensive. This could be a game changer.

The Family Pig Roast is On

It's time again for my in-laws family's annual pig roast. I snapped some pictures on my camera phone. Enjoy! I'm really looking forward to trying the pig cut, the "Boston Butt" which is the first picture.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Impulse buying in children

Yesterday I volunteered for four hours selling tickets at the LVIS fair in East Hampton. My booth was right near a bunch of kids rides. Pony rides, giant slides, rock climbing, and snow cones.

Sitting there I watched a fascinating phenomenon. As kids bought tickets, I would first give them the tickets and then count out their change. Half the time the kids were running off before I could even give them their change. I had to yell at them to get them back to the booth.

The desire for one more pony ride or snow cone was so great they'd leave $15 in change behind.

Interesting to see considering what sometimes happens in online auctions where people bid over the retail cost of an item.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Yellowman at Stephen Talkhouse August 26th 8pm

I'm officially excited.

Yellowman is playing at Stephen Talkhouse this summer on August 26th 8pm. This means 10 pm, but I'm excited to attend.

The Five Whys

For some reason I remembered back to a Delta Upsilon Leadership conference I attended in Washington DC when I was president of the chapter.

Maybe it was the traffic on the LIE Westbound.

The conference taught the "five whys." It is a technique for finding the root cause of a problem.

Simple technique, you just keep asking why? Five times at a minimum.

Here's a hypothetical Internet advertising example.

Problem: The client is unhappy.

Why? Their campaign didn't launch on time.

Why? Their creatives weren't loaded and launched on time.

Why? Account management didn't collect the creatives on time.

Why? The agency couldn't send the creatives over on time.

Why? The agency did not get the creatives from the creative agency on time.

You can keep going past five whys, but you can see how this technique can quickly drill down to the root cause.

Added Favorite Podcasts

I just added a Favorite Podcasts module to my blog's right rail.

Manager Tools is a great podcast that I subscribe to via iTunes. Each podcast is about 30 minutes and they cover a variety of topics. You need to register to get the older casts.

Whether you're new to managing old or been at it for a while their podcasts will have some useful nuggets.

My biggest issue now is that my ipod and shuffle don't work. I need to buy a new one.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Back from Europe

I'm finally back from Europe and caught up on sleep. I hit visited four countries in five days and met with great colleagues in three countries. If I haven't responded to emails, expect a catchup in the next few days.

Few things stood out in UK, DE, FR -

In London I called for a wake-up call, which I received by a human on the time I requested as well as a backup automated call ten minutes later. Nice touch.

Many products are labeled as being celiac safe. Make it much easier to get around.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Westbound on 495 and North on the Hutch

My wife and I drove back from East Hampton today and were privileged enough to be behind a silver Audi A4.

We watched this man (driver) and woman proceed to cross in and out of the HOV lane illegally about a dozen times. Twice in front of police on the side of the highway. As they crossed the solid white lines stones and road debris was thrown up into the air.

I wonder if I video taped this behavior on my cell phone whether I could mail this into the police for a ticket?

He cut off a few people during the illegal lane changes, we were both expecting an accident.

After we watched this idiocy, we were stuck in traffic on the Hutchinson River Parkway and there we found a mSUV pulled off the road, with another car in the right line (two lane road each way) stopped talking to the person. The cars weren't visibly damaged, so I guess it makes it ok to cause delays for everyone.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

East Hampton Library Novel Night

I just finished up helping stuff envelopes for the East Hampton's Library Novel Night. My wife is a board member we're sending out invitations for the August 11th event.

Personally I'm torn because of two authors, Robert Caro and Renee Mauborgne. I can only attend one dinner with one author and both are great. My wife and I would like to attend the Blue Ocean Strategy dinner with Renee.

It's a great event and I highly recommend it if you have the time and money. The proceeds benefit the East Hampton Library.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Just back from watching Sicko

Diana and I took in the movie Sicko this evening. A thought provoking film, although me being my normal skeptic self I had to do a little searching afterwards.

Wikipedia has a write up on the film as well as a write up on the controversies over it.

The thing that struck me the most about all of it was when they talked about the cost of a treatment. A person would say, "It costs $24K in the US, but it's free here." That maybe true from a patient out of pocket situation, but it costs someone something somewhere.

Real Life Big Love

Interesting ABC video segment on a woman escaping from polygamy.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007 Makes Front Page News

My hobby website/social experiment,, has made the front page of The East Hampton Press. Brendan did an excellent job on the article. Thanks Brendan!

Link to the article here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Gone for a while, but I'm back now

I haven't posted in a while, but I'm back.

This morning I ran into George from the Apprentice in Penn Station, NYC catching the Acela.

More thoughtful posts to come.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Dr. Monfried on Wallstrip

My good friend and former colleague is on Wallstrip for an interview about his company Lotame.

Interesting insight on social media advertising.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Great Scoble video on how he reads 600+ feeds a day

I've started to use his technique and it works - much faster then mousing around.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Great Wallstrip chat with Alan Levy

Great mentions of the .com bubble of 2000 and whether we have one today.

Monday, May 28, 2007

What to do with our soldiers?

Today I attended the East Hampton Memorial Day parade and ceremony.

One of the veterans spoke about how Congress has money to allow illegal aliens to become citizens, but doesn't have money that could equip our soldiers with the latest equipment to help keep them safe while in Iraq.

I will be the first to admit I don't follow politics and these issues as much as I should. My days are loaded with Internet advertising issues.

This veteran's speech struck a cord with me.

In the business world if you want to end a project or division, you cut the budget, you redeploy the people or lay them off. You don't take away their safety goggles and tell them to keep using dangerous machinery. You don't close the plant and leave the workers in the plant.

What is Congress doing? If we want the troops out take them out. If you want them to stay, let them stay. Either way make sure they have the tools they need. Winding it down safely requires the right equipment, continuing to fight requires the right equipment.

Why can't they make the bills simple, they should cover a specific topic or issue.

Instead they layer on special interest projects. All of that money could be used to give the troops the right equipment. They could derail or delay the bill. Delaying critical support for the troops.

You can either support our efforts in Iraq or you may not.

Either way shouldn't we make sure our troops are properly prepared to face the enemy?

From my viewpoint the choice to be there vs the choice to properly fund our soldiers are separate issues.

Congress and the public should keep them separate.

What kind of tech user are you?

I normally don't like to admit that I read Newsday, but when I'm in the Hamptons at my in-laws I take a gander.

The Sunday Money and Careers section Personal Technology columnist Michael Himowitz highlighted the Pew Internet and American Life Project which surveyed 4,001 people and segmented them into 10 groups.

I took the quiz and I fell into the Omnivores group - 8% of the population.

What is an Omnivore?

From the Pew Site:

Basic Description
Members of this group use their extensive suite of technology tools to do an enormous range of things online, on the go, and with their cell phones. Omnivores are highly engaged with video online and digital content. Between blogging, maintaining their Web pages, remixing digital content, or posting their creations to their websites, they are creative participants in cyberspace.

Defining Characteristics
You might see them watching video on an iPod. They might talk about their video games or their participation in virtual worlds the way their parents talked about their favorite TV episode a generation ago. Much of this chatter will take place via instant messages, texting on a cell phone, or on personal blogs. Omnivores are particularly active in dealing with video content. Most have video or digital cameras, and most have tried watching TV on a non-television device, such as a laptop or a cell phone.

Omnivores embrace all this connectivity, feeling confident in how they manage information and their many devices. This puts information technology at the center of how they express themselves, do their jobs, and connect to their friends.

Who They Are
They are young, ethnically diverse, and mostly male (70%). The median age is 28; just more than half of them are under age 30, versus one in five in the general population. Over half are white (64%) and 11% are black (compared to 12% in the general population). English-speaking Hispanics make up 18% of this group. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many (42% versus the 13% average) of Omnivores are students.

Take the quiz and post a comment about your classification.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Is that a celiac bracelet?

Thursday morning I sat in a three seat row on MetroNorth and proceeded to type away on my Blackberry.

About halfway into the ride I looked over and noticed the man sitting next to me had a green rubber bracelet. Ever since Lance Armstrong came out with the yellow bracelet there has been a proliferation of rubber bracelets for different causes.

Looked again with my 20/15 laser enhanced vision and saw that he was wearing the Celiac Awareness bracelet.

I asked him if he was celiac, he wasn't. His young son is celiac. We chatted for a while and he had some good restaurant suggestions in Westchester.

What's funny is that my wife always gives me a hard time about wearing the bracelet. I never thought I'd see one on my commute.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Stopping by the New York Transit Museum

Diana and I decided to head into the city yesterday to check out the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn.

We had a bit of trouble finding the museum, as we went to the mailing address. Diana and I were directed across the street but expected to see a ground floor entrance. We walked past a subway stairwell which we finally figured out to be the museum.

Diana and I spent about three hours walking through the exhibits. They have a great balance between pictures and artifacts along with some hands on experiences.

The museum also has an exhibit for the creation of the Triborough bridge and Robert Moses. On a side note: Robert Caro wrote a great book about Robert Moses: The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York.

Since the museum is an old subway station, there is a platform where they have all of the old subway cars on display. You could walk through the old cars and they even had old advertisements in the cars.

One feature of the old cars that was personally striking to me was the pre-AC cooling systems. I took a few pictures of the old fans.

Exposed metal fan blades? That's a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Maybe in the past people were smarter - they knew not to put their hands into the spinning metal blades. Or maybe we've become less astute over time as the fans in a future version have cages protecting them.

Diana and I highly recommend a visit to this museum.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Save NetRadio

I'm a big fan of Internet radio, I normally listen to AOL Radio through my AIM 6.1 client. Even though I'm a Sirius subscriber, the integration into AIM makes it too convenient not to use it. Normally I hear an occasional commercial, but the other day I heard something highly contextual.

I'm making a call to my representative tomorrow. I suggest everyone who listens to Internet radio make the call. Sure it takes some time, but royalties should be fair. Video on Yahoo MSFT speculation

Interesting comments regarding culture issues.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Wait Please Don't Steal My E-ZPass

My wife and I drove back from Atlantic City today and we were privileged to watch the normal E-ZPass arm flailing at the toll booths.

I've heard the excuses before for not mounting your E-ZPass in the proper window location.

"Somebody might steal my E-ZPass."

Let's think about this one, how many thieves would steal the pass and proceed to open an illegal cab operation and drive people repeatedly across the George Washington Bridge?

How long would they get away with this? (Yes, I know you're responsible for any charges until you report it stolen or lost as well as a replacement fee.)

OK, so let's assume that theft is a valid concern. The nice E-ZPass people provide a Velcro like solution which would allow you to remove your E-ZPass whenever you want.

I'm concerned about the lanes that allow people to drive through at speeds varying from 5 mph to 15 mph and the non-mounters stopping their cars and waving their pass around.

How many accidents occur? How much time does this waste for others?

How to cut food on a plate while standing

This Saturday night I found myself in a bind where I had some meat on my plate that needed to be cut. There were no tables around, but I was hungry.

(This would be helpful for those summer picnics or dinner parties where there aren't enough tables to go around.)

What to do?

Assuming you cut with your right hand you can do the following:

Step 1: Hold the plate with your right hand.

Step 2: Take the fork in your left and maneuver the item to be cut near the center of the plate. (Note this assumes you're using a small plate, bigger plates require off center placement)

Step 3: Now take the fork and place it on top of the item to be cut. The tines of the fork should be pointing down and pressing into the item to be cut.

Step 4: Take your left hand and grab the plate such that your thumb rests on top of shaft of the fork. If you've done this correctly you are now apply pressure to the item so it won't move.

Step 5: Proceed to cut the item with your right hand.

Step 6: Take your right hand holding the knife and grab the plate. Pick up the fork with your left and eat.

Wine Spectator's Grand Tour at the Borgata - Atlantic City

I enjoy wine, but I'm not a wine expert by any metric. My wife on the other hand has spent time in France and knows much more about wine. For her birthday I decided to take her to the Wine Spectator's Grand Tour at the Borgata. We both have visited the Borgata before, but this was for this specific event.

Two hundred and eighteen different wines to sample. Too many wines. They also had a nice buffet laid out with cheeses, meats, and pasta. The wines were amazing, there were champagnes, whites, reds, and ports. We both enjoyed some of the New Zealand varieties as well as the ports.

The event lasted from 7 pm to 10 pm although we left at 9 for dinner at Specchio.

There are a few things I would suggest they change for the next event.

First, they had no places for people to eat, maybe some bar height tables would have helped. Instead people were camped out sitting on the floor in corners eating their food. This looked odd for such a nice event.

This leads into my second suggestion of only providing food that doesn't require a plate. You had people holding a wine glass, a plate, and somehow had to put the food in their mouth. I grabbed some meat that required cutting, Diana had to hold my wine glass, while I improvised a new technique for holding a plate and cutting meat simultaneously. I have another post that shows how this is done in case you find yourself in a similar bind.

Even with a few drawbacks, it was a great event and we'd attend again if it is held in our neck of the woods.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Plaxo Mobile Plus Is Indispensible

Until recently I used my Blackberry as my personal and business phone, with a policy change at work I've had to change that. I received a company Blackberry with cell and I traded my personal Blackberry in for a Motorola Razr V3M.

I also purchased VZW's mobile office kit so I could sync up my phone's address book with Outlook. That was a disaster, I could not get it to work. I called tech support which only helped to waste an hour of my time and increase my frustration level. Anyway, it's on the way back to VZW for a full refund.

Next step was to figure out how I could automate the populating and maintenance of my phone's address book. I found Plaxo Mobile Plus, $4.99 a month plus airtime, but it works great. I'd already been using Plaxo Online for years, all I needed to do was mark the contacts that I wanted on my phone.

Sure almost $60 a year seems steep, but it's slick and easy.

Interesting Smith School Research

Interesting research coming out of Robert H. Smith School of Business - The article looks at the effects of competitive clutter on feature ads on for example a super market circular.

Grand Central Terminal Going Green?

After reading the NY Post's op-ed about Mayor Bloomberg's green initiative, I thought I should point out something I noticed on my morning commute into GCT. As my Metro-North train navigates the tracks in the yard before the platform I always would notice single incandescent light bulbs all over the place lighting the area. Around the holidays I noticed they seemed to be all compact fluorescents.

Someone changed them out.

If there is someone out there who can quantify the number of bulbs changed or what happened, much appreciated.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Thank You For Buying a Pair of Shorts

With the warm weather and my lack of packing a pair of shorts for the weekend in Baltimore I stopped by Jos. A. Bank. Sure enough they emailed me a thank you. Just like last time, except different sales person writing thanks.


Apr 22, 2007 8:00 PM

Thank you from Jos. A. Bank
On behalf of everyone at Jos. A. Bank, we thank you for your recent purchase.

At Jos. A. Bank, we pride ourselves on the outstanding quality of our products and our tremendous customer service. We hope your experience at Jos. A. Bank was a pleasant one and that we met all your expectations.

We look forward to serving all your clothing needs in the future. Again, we thank you for your patronage!


Michael XXXX
Light Street

Recruiting at George Washington University

This past Thursday I had the privilege of attending the George Washing University career fair with two people from my team. The normal protocol is for recruiting to attend job fairs, but from my experience it’s better for the team to attend. There are pros and cons with regard to pulling people out of their day jobs to attend career fairs, but in my opinion the pros outweigh the cons.

Finding talent, let alone great talent to hire is tough. Unemployment is low and there are plenty of companies looking to hire. In the DC area there are many consulting firms looking to hire graduates. I believe we were the only media company recruiting at the event and some students were excited to speak to us, to AOL.

Some told us they were specifically there because of AOL.

Watching my team in action, answering questions and showing the passion they had about their positions at AOL, was priceless. When someone looks at a job opening online we probably have one shot at capturing their attention. Having the actual people who hold the jobs we are recruiting for allows for the students to actually ask questions and get actual answers.

While none of us were GW graduates, I know I have some on my team and next time I hope they can attend. Graduates at these events bring a legitimacy that can’t be matched. You were in their shoes at some point in the past.

I’m looking forward see if my team hires some of the people we spoke with.

Ten Year Johns Hopkins Reunion

This weekend was my tenth year reunion for my undergraduate degree at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. It was a great weekend with it culminating with our class event at the Bloomberg Center on campus. I volunteered on the reunion committee who worked to organize the event as well as get people to donate and attend.

We had an amazing turnout; it was well over 100 people which was much larger than the class of 1996. Our gift goal was also reached which as another win for us.

I personally was happy to see most of the people I was friends with in my dorm freshman year as well as a whole slew of fraternity brothers I hadn’t seen in years. Just reconnecting and seeing everyone was great along with some great food and beverages.

This was also a personal experiment from my perspective where we were using the web to help organize and move things forward. We used Google Spreadsheets to share the class call list among the committee members. While the actual usage of GS wasn’t 100%, it was still useful for those that did. There are some powerful tools available for free that can help increase the efficiency of these types of events. I also setup a Flickr group to share the photos from the event which I’ll be uploading tonight and contacting others to contribute their photos.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Clams Casino on Amtrak Acela

My wife is traveling with me today down to Dulles and with some fancy first class upgrade coupons we're both enjoying first class.

What does first class on Amtrak Acela include? Free beverages and a hot meal at your seat.

My wife ordered the bouillabaisse which had lobster and shrimp in it.

It looks good, but I hope it isn't a repeat of the clams casino episode in the Seinfeld diner.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Support the Highline Park Project

I subscribe to Fred Wilson's A VC blog, which btw is a great blog, his Highline post caught my eye. Railroads have always fascinated me, the scale of the business, the efficiency. Anyway, watch the video, read Fred's post, and contribute if it's important to you (I did).

What's On Your BlackBerry?

I love my BlackBerry 7250, my personal communication device from Verizon Wireless is invaluable. I'm in the process of switching over to a company provided Blackberry from Cingular.

Right now I can't install any third party applications, but hopefully I can figure this out soon.

What's On My BlackBerry?

My Applications:

Google Talk - If you have a Gmail account, you're already aware of Google Talk. The nice feature is that it does not use SMS to send and receive messages. It uses the data connection and with an unlimited data plan you're covered. It even works with Twitter.

Google Maps - This installs on your BlackBerry and gives you access to normal maps, satellite, as well as traffic. You can search for business and get directions. It's super helpful and just like Google Talk, it's free and piggybacks on your data plan.

Google Gmail - This is an installed application which gives you quite a bit of functionality to read and action upon your Gmail.

My Bookmarks:

Google Reader - In the last couple months I've embraced RSS and have used feeds to help my productivity and keep me in the loop on various things. Google's Reader is easy to navigate and I can catch up on my feeds while commuting on the train or riding in a taxi. I need to check out the AOL Feedreader, from what I've seen it has more customization features.

Amtrak - Essential if you travel the Northeast corridor.

Southwest - Essential to ensure you get your A boarding pass. Check-in through your Blackberry.

FlyFAA Plain Text - Great way to find out if there are weather delays on your flights.

HopStop - Essential for navigating the subways in NYC and other major cities.

MapQuest - If I need directions displayed all at once, MQ is great. MapQuest is my standard computer mapping choice, but for quick looks at a map I'm using Google Maps on my BlackBerry.

AOL Mail - When I need to check my non-work AOL account, I would equate the interface to be comparable with Google's Gmail web interface.

I'm curious to know what other people find essential on their BlackBerrys.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

AOL Using FeedBurner

Really glad to see AOL using Feedburner for all of our feeds. I use the free version and it's insightful, the paid version even more so.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Trying out Amazon Unbox on TiVo

I'm a big TiVo fan, have been for years. When I received an invite for $15 credit to try out Amazon Unbox on my TiVo I jumped at the chance.

So far I've rented the past tv episode of 30 Days - Outsourcing, the movies World Trade Center and Miami Vice. Just ordered Catch a Fire and Fast Food Nation.

One downside is that your rental is only good for 24 hours, start playing your rental and you've got 24 hours to watch it as many times as you want.

You get full DVD quality downloaded to your TiVo box, the World Trade Center movie was a 2.72 gigabytes.

I haven't purchased a video yet, but apparently there is an online media center at Amazon were you can re-download it at your pleasure.

This is a great service, still trying to determine whether on-demand cable is better, same, or worse.

Supply and Demand on the web - economics of Google - great post

Alex Iskold has written a great post regarding supply and demand online versus the physical world. He does a great job comparing and contrasting Google to Starbucks.

Worth taking the time to read.

Monday, April 09, 2007

It's time to start golfing

In a continuing effort to improve my work-life balance and find additional activities that my wife and I can enjoy together we stopped by the Fairview Golf Center in Elmsford, NY to see about lessons yesterday.

Yes I do realize that it's a driving range, but since I hear consistency in your swing is critical what's better then being able to hit a bunch of golf balls in a row? They also have simulated holes out on the range so you can actually take aim.

I signed us up for a clinic this morning and we're off to two hour long classes during the week in the evening and then a private half-hour lesson.

After that we'll be off to hit on some real grass.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

PodCampNYC Recap Part 1

As I mentioned before, Diana and I attended PodCamp NYC yesterday in New York City. It was a free un-conference (sponsor supported), with multiple sessions per hour running 9am to 6pm. We were both looking to learn more about blogging since we both blog, me with this blog, and Diana with When we originally signed up it was marketed as blogging and pod casting focused. It was definitely slanted towards pod casting, but many of the sessions about various aspects of pod casting apply the same to blogging.

I'll recap the sessions and some of the key learnings. I'll also post links because part of the rule of this un-conference was that anyone could film etc. So there should be some high-quality video up online of the sessions soon.

First session - Social Media Convergence and Virtual Worlds - Joseph Jaffe, Greg Verdino, Mark Wallace, Johnny Ming, and Adam Broitman

We both found this particularly interesting because it touched on a part of the Internet that neither of us visit. During the panel, they had SecondLife up on the screen where they actually had setup an area with booths for all of the sponsors. We watched a presentation being projected on a screen in SecondLife. They talked about companies and their presence in virtual worlds.

Some quotes that stood out for me (I'm not a reporter, so these are as close as possible)

"A campaign has a start and end date, consumers do not, " J Jaffe.

"We live in a world of partial attention - people are twittering, emailing, while sitting up here on this panel," Greg Verdino.

Second session - What's Next? A discussion for looking ahead - Andrew Baron and Joanne Colan of Rocketboom (one other person as well, didn't catch his name)

Andrew started the session off with an interesting slide show showing the progression of technology and communications. The sound on the recording is a bit faint, but you do get to see some of his slides. There was an interesting discussion of a firm offering real-time translation captioning of video casts. I believe it was 8 languages simultaneously. Also some discussion of censorship in China as well.

More to come...

Execution vs Vision with Mitchell Caplan, CEO of ETrade

I'm a big fan of the History Channel show, History's Business. In this morning's episode Mitchell Caplan, the CEO of Etrade (stock ticker: ETFC), was interviewed and one particular quote stood out:

#1 Key to Success - "Not only for me, but truly for the management team it's about tactical execution... Every time I hear a CEO pontificate endlessly about vision, I would go back and short the stock, and every time I really can see true proof of execution that's what makes success." - Mitchell Caplan

While at the surface this is a strong statement, is Mitchell saying vision isn't important?

No, endlessly is the key word.

Once you have vision, you then need to execute that vision.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Heading down to PodCamp NYC tomorrow

Diana and I are heading down to PodCamp NYC tomorrow for a day of sessions covering blogging and pod casting. Apparently they are even holding the sessions virtually on Second Life.

I'll have more details tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Dark Side Of The Moon OZ Video Mashup

I'll apologize for the lack of deeper posts recently, my work and personal life has been hectic the last week or so.

What I did find while catching up on my magazines was a Rolling Stone magazine featuring an article on Pink Floyd, one of my favorite bands. We know the magazine click-through rate is low (someone typing a url from a magazine into a browser), but in this case they caught me with this video mash-up.

I've never had the opportunity to watch the Wizard of Oz and listen to Dark Side of the Moon which supposedly seem to follow each other. Rolling Stone matched up a few sections. Definitely interesting to watch - click here.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007