Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Big Three Need Three Steve Jobs

My wife, my father and I were discussing the pending big three auto bailout over dinner. The consensus was bankruptcy. Most other companies wouldn't get a bailout. 

There are Web 2.0 start ups going under weekly, no bailout for any of them. Out of their failure are hopefully people who know that much more as to how to find success in their next venture.

The big three need a serious reset. Accept failure, reset the contracts, right size the business. Then add some inspirational leadership. 

Each of them need their very own Steve Jobs. They have serious labor, product, and operations challenges. 

Apple had big problems, irrelevant products, and declining market share.

Can they find Steve Jobs cubed?

Wait somethings coming to me...

Here's an idea, a politically appointed car czar. I'm sure the same people who deregulated our markets and accepted all those donations can find a qualified person for that role.

Let the markets do their work.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Craigslist Baltimore Post

Check out this real estate ad for my old neighborhood.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Get The Quicker Picker Upper Via Your Tivo

Personally I'm a big fan of TiVo and always root for their success. Tonight after watching an episode of the Family Guy, on the main TiVo screen I spied an ad for Bounty Paper towels. Being in advertising I had to click through and check it out. I expected a coupon and some content, but there was more.

I could buy a case of Bounty paper towels via Amazon through my TiVo. Amazing, truly enpowering an on-demand purchase of a consumer non-durable item. It would be interesting to see how many people order paper towels online and have them shipped due to this ad campaign. Maybe the strategy was to drive more people to the $1 coupon by giving the extreme option of mail ordering paper towels?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Watch the Warren Buffet Interview

Great interview with Charlie Rose on PBS. It's almost an hour long, but well worth the time.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fred Wilson's from web 2.0 NYC

Great keynote for anybody working in the Internet space.

Monday, September 08, 2008

My Blackberry Essentials

A little over a year ago I wrote about my favorite Blackberry applications as well as bookmarks. With some recent additions I thought I'd update my post.

Applications (You'll need to download them)

WSJ Mobile Reader - This is a must have application on your Blackberry. You get constant access to the latest premium content as well as your own feed reader. I assume at some point they will start charging or require an online subscription, but for now DOWNLOAD it.

Ramble (AIM Client) - Found this looking for an AIM client that doesn't use SMS to send and receive instant messages. It's offered by SRA and there is no charge.

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.

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. Now leverages GPS data from the phone or triangulates location based on cell towers.

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


Amtrak - Essential if you travel the Northeast corridor. For some reason the train crew often won't update you on your arrival time. It appears that only the mobile version of the site allows you to check your arrival times.

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.

MTA - If you ride on Metro-North or Long Island Railroad (LIRR) they have a great site you can check the schedule.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Go See Yellowman in concert, get a surprise set with Jimmy Buffet - Priceless

We went to see Yellowman tonight, he rocked it out.

About to leave and I run into an old high school buddy who tells us not to leave, Jimmy Buffet is about to play a set. Buffet rocked out No Woman No Cry and a bunch of other songs.


Check out the photos - unreal!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Yelloman Live Tonight

Can't wait to see Yellowman tonight at the Stephen Talkhouse. Pictures to come.

While you're waiting here are some clips from YouTube.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Beekeeping Update

Quick update on my beekeeping adventure.

My first hive is doing really well (right hive in the picture above), I've a honey super on top along with a queen excluder. The bees have just started to build out the comb and are storing nectar. I took a few pictures along with a short video.

The second and third hive are not as strong as the first, which has a month head start. Hopefully they'll catch up as the new bees start to hatch.

Notice the propolis they're applying to the inner hive top.

Friday, June 06, 2008

It's healthy - it's got apples and cinnamon

Thought I'd share a conversation I overheard on my commute earlier this week.

Two people were chatting, one says, "there was a two for five dollar special on Apple Jacks at the drug store, I'm having that for dinner."

The other responds, "that's unhealthy."

"It's got apples and cinnamon."

With shock, the other responds, "it's filled with sugar."

"The cinnamon counteracts the sugar."

I'm a supplement person, so I take a few horse pills a day of vitamins. There is marketing materials out there about cinnamon helping control blood sugar. I haven't researched it, but I've read about it.

So I'm shocked at the, "it's got apples and cinnamon" comment, but it gets better.

The conversation turns to diabetes and blood sugar along with how doctors potentially get incentives to push certain drugs.

Interesting how advertising is digested.

Anyway it's the weekend, off to check on the other queen bee.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Ensuring the Queens are released

Sunday was a beautiful day and a perfect time to see if the queen bees had been released. With smoker in hand I checked the hives.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Installing two more boxes of honey bees

My two three pound boxes of bees were installed first thing Friday morning. Diana was nice enough to film the fun. Enjoy!

Now onto installing the first box of bees.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Installing the second box of bees

Finally finished

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Jeff Bewkes at D6

Here's the video clip of Jeff's interview at D6. Great watch and interesting comments on how everything comes together at Time Warner.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Six pounds of bees were shipped today

I'm having better luck with my new bee supplier as I actually received a heads up that they shipped today. With any luck they'll show up on Friday or Saturday and I'll be able to install them quickly. Expect more video as I now have extra protective gear for Diana.

Zappos will give you $1,000 to quit

I came across this Freakanomics post on the in Google Reader. Interesting concept for screening newly hired and trained customer service representatives level of dedication.

Click the title for the post.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Making Chunk Honey Video

Found Linda's blog and video this morning doing some research on comb honey. Hopefully I'll be able to produce some comb honey.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Three Things to Remember

Learned three new things this morning.

First, if you leave your car window open it's possible for a bird to get inside and proceed to defecate all over your steering wheel and dashboard as it thinks it's trapped.

Second, if you move a beehive greater than three feet, but fewer than three miles some of the bees will return to the old location.

Third, if you assemble six beehive bodies and haven't swung a hammer in a while you'll have a really sore shoulder.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Must Read Article - China In Africa -

I just finished reading a special report in Fast Company on China and their moves into Sub-Sahara Africa. Scary and fascinating article at the same time.

The last paragraph was great,
"We buy China's junk, they buy our bonds, our real estate, even our corporations; they expand into Africa with our money, enabling them to grow and sell us more junk. It's a spiderweb, a matrix-and how it spins out is a scary as it is unclear. But one thing is certain: We're all part of the same ugly scramble."
Take some time and read the article here.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Take responsibility -

Read about this site on today. Thought I'd embed the videos, they have a valid point.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Beekeeping Update - Time to Scale

After some deep thought, I've come to the conclusion that one hive will yield minimal honey compared to 3. Thus I've ordered two more 3 pound boxes of bees and will be setting up two more hives in a week or so.

More video to come

Friday, May 09, 2008

Does Facebook think I'm bipolar?

I was just looking at my Facebook news feed page and what sponsored message do I get?

Not sure how this ad is targeted.

Installing the bees Part 2

You may have heard me mention that the queen cage seemed to be missing the sugar plug in the earlier video. I reached my bee supplier and found out that I should remove the cork and stick a small mini-marshmallow into the hole. The other bees will then eat through it and release the queen bee. I'll be doing that tomorrow, stay tuned same bee time, same bee channel.

In this video you can take a peak inside the hive.

Installing the bees

Diana was nice enough to video tape this new venture. Results below:

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Starting Beekeeping Change of Plans

I'm not going to Vegas since it might not be a great idea to install the bees in the middle of the night. Just cooked up some sugar water to feed them and will install tomorrow morning. The three pound box of bees is in our bedroom, I'm game for sleeping in there, Diana is not. The buzzing is soothing.

Will find out if I'm allergic to bee stings tomorrow morning. I'll try to get this on video.

The bees have arrived...

...with no notice.

My bee supplier told me that they would call the day my package bees were shipped. This morning on my way to the airport for a day trip to Dulles, the post office calls to let me know the bees have arrived. Putting aside the shock, plan B is in action.

1. Family member to pick up the bees this morning.
2. Drive out to the Hamptons tonight at 7pm
3. Install the bees with flashlights at 9pm
4. Drive back to Westchester
5. Fly to Las Vegas 8am Friday morning.

This should be fun.

Pictures to follow

Monday, April 28, 2008

Going Green By Using Your Spare Change

This weekend working out I came across an article in Businessweek about the environmental benefits if we put dormant coins back into circulation. BW had sourced a press release from Coinstar, the makers of those coin counting machines in your local grocery store.

The environmental savings are quite impressive considering it would put on average $90 into your pocket. Of course you could visit your nearest Coinstar machine or visit a bank that offers free change counting, for example Commerce Online.

One other interesting tidbit is that it costs the U.S. Mint 1.3 cents to make a penny and 7.7 cents to make a nickel.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Beekeeping Update

I'm still waiting for the bees to arrive. Apparently the supplier hasn't received their shipment thus my 3 pounds of bees haven't shipped. It's probably a good thing since there aren't too many plants starting to blossom in East Hampton.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Beekeeping Starter Kit Arrived Today

My beehive starter kit arrived today via UPS: included are the frames, hives, smoker, gloves, hive tool, etc. Now I just need for the live bees to be delivered later this week or early next week. I'm sure the post office in East Hampton will be looking forward to my package.

I'll be blogging about my experience as a first time beekeeper. During my childhood my father kept many hives as I remember harvesting the honey. Looking forward to producing some honey.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

How to re-cedarize your closet

I'm writing about my experience "re-cedarizing" our cooperative closets as I think I may have zapped my and my wife's ability to smell cedar.

A few neighbors stopped by today and mentioned the strong smell of our cedar closets. Diana and I can't smell any cedar. What I find even funnier is that I came home from my trip to Leadscon and complained to my wife as I put my jacket away that the cedar oil wore off.

This could be problematic.

For those of you that do have cedar closets that aren't as fresh. There is a relatively simple way to rejuvenate your cedar smell.

1. Buy some cedar oil - I purchased 32 oz. from a store that I can't find online anymore, but Woodcraft carries a smaller size. In hindsight I probably could have gotten away with an 8 oz container.

2. Setup a small palm sander with fine sand paper and a shop vac. This will allow you to sand the cedar in the closet in a dustless fashion. In the picture you'll see the setup I've used before. Sand the closets.hand sander connected to shop vac

3. Throw on some gloves and take a sponge soaked in the cedar oil and wipe down the newly sanded cedar boards. Let the oil soak in for a day or two and you're finished.

Warning: The first closet I did not use gloves and I felt funky for the rest of the day. Ventilation might be good as well as I'm not sure why I can't smell the cedar scent anymore. At least the moths will stay away.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Las Vegas Airport Needs Clear

I just returned from the Leadscon conference in Las Vegas and had the thought that Clear needs to sign-up McCarran International Airport. Clear just launched in Dulles (IAD) and Reagan (DCA) which is great for my business travel needs, but I'd like to see them everywhere. Whisking myself past insanely long security lines is great.

No waiting behind someone who has five gallons of hand lotion in their bag and is upset that they have to throw it out. Clear travelers are professional travelers and know the tricks.

I don't know the economics behind an install, but just from a PR/advertising perspective Las Vegas would be ideal. It's the conference center of the US and the sheer volume of sales people visiting for conferences would be great free advertising. Imagine waiting in the sometimes insanely long lines and you see someone fly by in the Clear line.

Get ready for the sign-ups.

Maybe put a sign-up booth inside the secured area and sign people up as they come through.

Friday, March 28, 2008

My Scratchitti Element Is Finally Fixed

Over two years ago my Black Honda Element was vandalized at my wife's place of work. I've talked to a few auto body repair places to repaint the car. Quotes ranged from $2,000 to $4,000.

Not an option for a $22,000 Element.

Not an option for me to shell out for a vandal's handy work.

Last summer I had a thought, why not call a car wrapping company? Wrap the car with an advertisement or just black wrapping.

I stopped by Sign Language last summer and spoke with the owner, Jack. He thought it was possible and would run around $200. Much better deal than a new paint job and the wrapping material should last at least 5 years.

Finally I motivated and brought the Element in today to have it wrapped. An hour later, you can hardly notice the black wrapping. Diana couldn't tell the difference. Diana and I no longer drive in a card with "bitch" scratchitti on three sides.

If you have a scratchitti car this is a cost effective way of covering up.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Thoughts from Mountain View

Just getting ready to board the plane home from SFO after a few days in Mountain View. I had a great time catching up with old friends from as well as meeting new AOL colleagues.

I planned on flying into San Jose which required a connection at LAX, shockingly the connecting flight was canceled. Instead I flew to SFO where I picked up my rental car.

A rental Prius.

I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I had trouble getting the car to move. A quick look in the manual fixed that and I was on my way. Having never driven a hybrid before it was certainly interesting to not hear an engine running. A few time the combustion engine did turn on and it jolted the car a bit. I guess I could buy one, it had some good acceleration.

Now as I write this I'm listening to a traveler ask the counter person if he can change the side of the plane he's sitting on. Apparently he only sleeps on his right side and he's on the wrong side.

Good luck with that one!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Preparing to prepare (Restoring Steel Casement Windows)

As I mentioned in a previous posting, I'm getting ready to restore all of the steel casement windows in our apartment. The building is from the 1930s and I'm not sure how long the current paint and glazing has been there. (pictures to come)

One of my neighbors has redone all of her windows and she'll be sharing some of her secrets, but I'm also doing some research.

First, who actually specializes in fixing these types of windows:

Seekircher Steel Window Repair - Peekskill, NY - they restore and repair old windows. Here's an article in the New York Times about John Seekircher.

- Kansas City, MO - has a nice step-by-step instruction of how they restore steel windows.

J Sussman - Jamaica, NY - they craft custom steel windows.

Second, what how-to articles are out there:

ThisOldHouseWeb - Someone writes in asking how to fix cold and drafty steel casements.

ThisOldHouseWeb - A detailed article describing the restoration process.

The Steel Window Institute - Who's who of steel window manufacturers

Third, the pictures:

Here's a standard steel casement window from the 1930s. steel casement window

You'll notice here that the outside glazing on the glass is worn away and missing a protective coat of paint.steel casement window close up of window glaze

Here you can see rust forming on the inside of the window as well as it not closing completely. steel casement window close up of window frame

Saturday, March 15, 2008

My Most Popular Page

I keep an eye on my site analytics and consistently I see one post showing up via Google organic search. It's my closing post on my Baltimore row house staircase replacement. You can read it here.

The post ranks on the first page of Google results for "replacing stairs" and "replacing staircase." My next home improvement project is to restore our steel casement windows throughout our apartment. I'm planning on using a combination of video, pictures, and text to detail the project.

I took the first step today and more detail will be coming.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Save Money - Stop the Earmarks

Senator McCain and DeMint are offering an amendment to the 2009 budget resolution that would impose a year long moratorium on congressional earmarks.

Visit the Citizens Against Government Waste website and easily send emails to your Senators telling them to support the amendment. Get Washington focused on fixing real problems instead of how to hide pork spending for each state.

Click HERE

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Too Many Cold Showers

My wife and I purchased an apartment late last year in a 70+ year old building. We’re on the 5th floor, the top and we’ve noticed the showers don’t get hot enough. We’re having work done on one bathroom, so since January 1st we’ve been showering in the other bathroom where the water has never gotten warm enough. We essentially have a cold shower every time. The other shower is slightly warmer.

I asked the contractor and the superintendent what the problem could be and they said it was the mixer value jets. Apparently the old pipes have debris that clogs the jets thus the hot water side must be clogged. New valves have bigger jets. My sink hot water is scalding, it must be the jets.

Seems reasonable, so it was more cold showers until our other bathroom is renovated and we get a new water valve. A cold shower can be refreshing during the summer, but day after day in the winter is tough. I shave in the shower and the lack of hot water seriously impacts the closeness.

In Baltimore I had tiled my shower and installed the handle on the shower mixer valve which had a hot water mix adjustment. The design is to ensure you can prevent scalding.

This past Friday night as we sat watching TV, I started to think about that shower valve in Baltimore. Maybe the prior owner was ok with cold showers? My previous thinking was that nobody would purposefully subject themselves to cold showers everyday. The plumber who installed these valves must have adjusted them for the prior owner.

I booted up my laptop, checked the valve for make and model and proceeded to search. Sure enough there was a hot water mixer valve in this model. Next step was to disassemble it. Sure enough I needed a hex key, I didn’t have one. I'd have to wait until Saturday morning when the local hardware store opens.

I purchased the set, headed home and off with the handle. Viola! The hot water setting was not maxed out. All this time, all those cold showers, it was a simple Internet search away.

With the hot water setting cranked up to the max, I re-installed the handle. It was tough going, the screw was sticking. Nothing a daub of dishwasher soap can’t fix though, smooth installation.

Handle back on, shower on, hot shower is a go!

So where is this post going? Is there a natural gas leak in our apartment as I write this?

This story is applicable to business.

Everyday we do things a certain way because we assume that’s the best way. We get used to the cold shower, we accept it. We adapt our bathing process; we optimize our soap up time to ensure minimum time under the shower head.

In business everyday people doing things the same way they did them the previous day. Even if something is wrong, many times the root cause isn’t sought out. Maybe it takes research, maybe investment in a tool? Time surely you could have better spent running around after the shower to dry yourself and warm-up.

How often do we go back and double check our key assumptions? Check our processes? Challenge the status quo?

Maybe the person who created them was a madman or madwoman?

Maybe it was somebody who liked cold showers?

You'll never know until you check.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Google Docs Looking More Like MSFT Word

I'm working on a letter in Google Docs this morning and I look to save the file.

Yes, I know it automatically saves, but I like to double check.

They moved the save button.

Now it looks like the Word save button and is situated in a similar location.

MicrosoftMicrosoft Word Toolbar Screen shot

GoogleGoogle Docs Toolbar Screen shot

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Thoughts from the last row

I’ve been a bad blogger, not posting as often as I should. More promises of getting back into it, well now it’s time to deliver.

On my way to San Francisco for work with my wife. She’s taking some vacation and she gets to experience me in work travel mode. Thrilling I’m sure as I spend hours on my Outlook inbox under an iPod induced trance during the flight.

We hit JFK after a long trip down Queens Boulevard. Most likely annoyed the driver when I informed him of traffic from Google Maps on my Blackberry.

No bags to check, only one Clear pass, long line at Terminal 7 security. We separate, I take the carry-ons, luckily the Clear attendant told me to get my wife and she’d bring her through as a courtesy.

Diana’s signing up tomorrow for her own Clear pass.

After scanning my finger we’re escorted to the front of the security line with many frowns of disappointed people in line. If I was Clear I would have the attendants wearing a shirt explaining the cost and benefits.

Walking billboards with a targeted audience.

We’re sitting on the plane waiting to buy some food, we look to our in-flight magazine for the menu. Sure enough Diana’s magazine is missing the page. It’s been ripped out. I check mine, more of the same.

Must be someone from a competitive airline trying to slow down the in-flight meal service. Or maybe somebody is being passive aggressive because due to this being the absolute last row on the plane.

Battery is almost dead, but my inbox scroll bar length is a third of the total length. Prior to boarding it was a fiftieth. 93 emails sitting in my outbox.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Need to buy some Bhut Jolokia peppers

I just spied this video clip on the Weekend Edition of about the hottest pepper in the world, the Bhut Jolokia. Being a big fan of spicy food, I'm off to find some.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Getting back into it

It has almost been a month since my last post. Personally we are living in a bit of chaos with some major home renovations going on right now. My wife and I feel like we are living in one of those shows on TV about pack rats since we have everything pilled up in a few rooms. Hopefully we'll be finished in a few weeks and spread back out over the apartment.

I was also elected to the board of our co-op and have webified us with a domain name as well as setting us up on Google Apps. More to come on my experiences with getting us fully up and running.