Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Food Portion Sizes

If you've ever had a meal out-to-eat with me you've heard me complain about the portion size of food served at restaurants; it's disgusting!

Please join me in a campaign to halve serving sizes at restaurants. We, as a society, need to end this gluttonous reign of Fat Ugly Americans (myself included) pigging out on 1lb+ entree sizes, for under $0.10. Guess what people, "more for your money" is exactly what you do NOT want when dining out.

The next time you dine out, ask for half of what you want to order. If the restaurant can accommodate, you'll feel much better after the meal; I guarantee it. If the restaurant cannot accommodate, at least you've made the point that you'd prefer a portion more fit for human consumption. When a restaurant tells me "we can't do half portions of that" I make some comment about how I'd appreciate it if they'd simply cut the portion down altogether and just charge me the full-plate price; again, trying to make the point.

Of course there are exceptions to this rule. There are restaurants that serve too little for the price, but like I said, they're exceptions; let's leave them alone for now and solve that problem another time.

One of the only ways I see restaurants cutting back is if we, consumers, demand it.

A quick plug for a newsletter I've been receiving for over a decade now. A nice, balanced, view into diet and nutrition in the U.S.; Nutrition Action published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Holiday's and Communication

A holiday party conversation with relatives last night kicked up the "why would someone use Twitter" and "why do the kids text message so much" questions again. There's nothing like getting four generations in a room to illustrate severe communication differences. The older generations are downright angry at the concept of publicly broadcasting your thoughts. The younger one's don't know any other way; it just is.

The conversation brought up some work I did with a friend little over a year ago. It came out of a day-long, two-man, off-site brainstorming session. We were trying to understand social network and communication dynamics. What motivates people to contribute? What motivates people to look at others' contributions? Why bother with all this stuff? We jammed our summarized thoughts into a yin-yang diagram like so...

It goes something like this... we contribute to social networks/products in order to fulfill our need for self expression... we consume the information within social networks/products in order to discover new things... and the social networks/products themselves provide an innate human need to feel connected. Wrap all this stuff together and you have the nut that comprises the psychology and sociology behind social applications. One's contributions to a social product generally reflect their "real-life" personality facets. If someone's an ego-maniac in "real-life," they're likely to be one "online." If someone's passive in "real-life," they're likely to be "online" as well (if they choose to participate "online" at all). You can often draw connections between one's desire/ability/style to blog, and their contributions to various social networks/products.

Most of this is obvious, but some of it is intensely subtle.

Some examples:
  • I check my Facebook feed to learn about what my "friends" have been up to. Discovery.
  • I tweet about ice skating with my family so my "friends" (or geographically distant relatives) can know what I've been up to recently. Expression.
  • I blog about an exotic experience I had in so anyone reading my stuff knows I had the exotic experience (bragging). Expression.
  • I read the blog post from a friend who just went to a concert to learn about a new band I might be interested in. Discovery.
  • Again, wrap it all together and you have satisfied our human need for "connectedness."
The only real differences between today's communication and yesterday's is that today's is permanently "recorded"/stored and doesn't fade with time, and that today's cannot be controlled once the cat is out of the bag. These are BIG differences and can be used for good, as well as evil.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Update: American cafes, service, and tipping

Last year I posted about how caf├ęs in the US lack table service. I'm pleased to report that my favorite joint in Boulder, Laughing Goat, has started offering table service in the evening. Finally someone in town stepping it up. Thanks LG!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


A sad artifact of search engines having become the navigation paradigm for the web, is that gaming the system came into vogue. Carpetbaggers in the form of SEO "experts" started manipulating content to get better search engine rankings, and selling their wares to unsuspecting websites wanting "better results page placement."

Note that SEM is radically different from SEO, and I consider SEM a legitimate industry.

Guess what? 99.9999.....% of what these SEO "experts" do can be easily done by anyone, and unfortunately, the "experts" have built up such a layer of falsification and search algorithm manipulation that legitimate content has to fight tooth and nail to be properly represented. If you're interested in all the relevant tips/tricks on SEO, all you need to do is buy the seobook; it'll tell you everything you need to know, and it's updated regularly in order to keep close pace with algorithm changes. We'll leave it to Google/Yahoo/MSFT to sort through the math in order to keep the "right" stuff at the top of the page, but the rest of us simply need to focus on what matters; your product and content. If you deserve first-page placement, you will get it; you can't buy it. The few examples I've experienced in my life wherein someone manipulated the model to get first-page placement, the algorithms caught up to them, snuffed them out, and their SEO investment was lost. If you're reading this thinking "but, I've been on the front page b/c of SEO for months now", your days are numbered; figure out a different model quickly.

The upside here is that the marketplace is evolving. Just like any opportunity that is taken advantage of, and over used, it becomes commoditized. SEO is no different. Some friends of mine have recognized this and are building a service that cuts out the noise, and allows folks that want their site to be SEO'd, to have it done by people that know what they're doing (self-regulated marketplace style), at costs that are in-line with the reality of the market; as opposed to glorified SEO gurus. You'll hear about this firm soon enough; I'm excited to see them set things straight.

There is incredible money to be made by a site owner, as well as by people that know how to SEO, if you get "good" placement on a search result page. The industry needs a reset on the model here however, and I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Browser Innovation

Hark back to the early home computing days when the apps that came with a computer were built/owned by the operating system vendor. Now think about the product landscape and OS advancements that have taken place over the past 20 years. Those advancements and innovations were purely a function of the underlying operating system opening up it's APIs, and supporting the needs of application developers. The result has been better products for the end user, and billion dollar software industries.

Now consider web browsers the new, modern, operating system. They only way to see the same kind of innovative explosion in the browser space is through extensibility. Netscape/Mozilla have supported cross-platform extensions since the beginning. Microsoft has wedged it's proprietary add-on models (leveraging highly proprietary technologies from COM/DCOM, to ActiveX) into IE. Apple, in a series of miscues with Safari, doesn't have an extensible model for their browser. It was a joy to see Mozilla finally take add-ons seriously once they sput out of AOL. While Netscape had a framework, they didn't provide a clearinghouse, so add-ons (plugins as they were called) had limited success as an industry early on. Mozilla finally seems to be getting it right with http://addons.mozilla.org; though there's room for improvement.

I'm really excited to see some friends pulling together something we'd talked about years ago; addoncon (http://addoncon.com/). The fact that industry hasn't been pulling together on the extensibility front to date, is beyond me. I'm planning on attending, and if you care about how the network evolves, I hope you do too.