Thursday, June 29, 2006
Well, there's another guy in the market. A few guys from Alaska Airlines have put together a site that provides forecasting on airfares based on historical and predictive analysis. So you can determine whether right now is a good time to get a good deal on your ticket. Pretty cool.
It's a unique value proposition and ultimately pretty sticky for the consumer if they can deliver on it. Like many sites out there (a la Zillow.com on real estate), the question is how accurate is this forecasting? I'll definitely try it for my next trip. Check out Farecast.com.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
this is another great example of the power of user generated content (eg. 1.3 million uniques/month and growing) and scaling your user base virally. fuhgeddabout' the old school way of acquiring customers/paying for them. web 2.o!
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Buffett talked about dynastic wealth and his belief towards giving away most of his assets to help those less fortunate than he. I suppose it's easier to be altruistic when you have $40+ billion in net worth. Nonetheless, it's commendable that's he giving away 2/3 of it. He also brought up another point about his wealth and his children. Strongly believing that children should have the means to do what they want in life but not to the point where they become irresponsible with money and lose sense of any reality (a la Paris Hilton). Pretty rational but I suspect Buffet's kids don't really have to work.
In the interview, it was fascinating to see how passionate and strategic Bill and Melinda (she's very articulate, more so than Bill I'd say) were about their efforts in fighting disease/poverty in developing countries, particularly focusing on areas and places that typically fall under the radar. Point being that why would you fund projects that already have lots of attention, support, and are already flush with lots of resources? Doesn't it make sense to fund those projects that live on the 'tail' and have little chance of success?
Sunday, June 25, 2006
Saturday, June 24, 2006
Like my mama used to say, "When you throw some bad eggs together, it's a recipe for some bad food." She didn't really say that but I needed an opening.
Our captain and CAO, Mike D (not of the Beastie Boys but of the average guy walking down the street kind), hosted Friday's post season soiree for Pride is Forever. It was an evening to pat ourselves on the back for being mediocre: finishing in 4th place out of a 13 team league. Yes, all of our moms are bragging about this as we speak. More importantly though, it was an opportunity to "acknowledge" the various contributions made by individual team members.
One observation. When I walked into the Dojo, I was taken aback. Where were the posters of the Bud Light girls? The dirty socks hanging from the drawer? The leftover pizza boxes? Oh, quite the contraire. Mike D's crib is Yuppified with a capital Y. A sophisticate of the 21st century. What toys a young, single, educated white male might possess, he does. There's the 40+ inch flat screen TV, next to that is a very prominent long and skinny wooden (and tall, 5 ft +) sculpture procured from an African tribe on the plains of the Serengenti while hunting mani-eating lions for sport (how's that for a story). In addition, there's the Miami Vice/Beach frescoes on the wall (art lover), a monster 3 burner stainless steel grill, and a hot tub just big enough for three (with built-in Crystal coolers). I'm pretty sure the bearskin rug is hidden in the closet for those uber special moments. Welcome to the Dojo my friends.
Back to the story.
The all-important awards ceremony, the highlight of the night. Unless you're on the team, you won't get these or find them remotely funny. That really doesn't matter given that my readership consists ONLY of the team (& Heather) anyways and they only read my blog because I spam them with a weekly email campaign that promises them a rev share on ad revenue.
In no particular order of course. The shining stars and what shined so bright...
- Wind Beneath My Wings Award - Alison (Certificate of Achievement for being the loudest screamer on sidelines, includes the Microsoft mascot, the Butterfly)
- "Look at his Eyes" and Whiteboard Award - Adam (Sunglasses and pad/pens to prevent opposing defenses from knowing where the ball is going)
- OldTimer Award - Johnny (Geriatric Giftbag of Ben Gay and Geritol to keep everything in check)
- Flav a Flav Award - John (Clock and Pad to make games on-time)
- "Let's Look Like I Belong Here (i.e. not Panhandling on Street Corner)" Award -Maggie (Sunglass case and cords to keep glasses intact and on face)
- "I'm Young and Can Drink" Award - Nicole (State-of-the-Art Beer Bong for the only person that would use it on a regular basis; compliments of OldTimer)
- Special Ball for Special Kids Award - Mike D (Very Large Blow Up Football for Ages Four and under, to work on ball catching in the off season)
- Twinkle Toes Award - Kellyn (Ballerina shoes (or Kilo of Coke) for strong toes when performing double feet hop move and maintaining sick athletics in blood; compliments of Senor Tintle, the Blow King of Seattle)
- Little Football with Nicole's Deep Thoughts Award - Debbie (ask Nicole)
- Cuervo Especial Award - Matt Krueger (Bottle of Tequila for his namesake play)
- Jared the Subway Guy Award - Jamie (Subway card for three 6-inch turkey subs with all the toppings, compliments of Dean's leftover Subway points)
- Enough of Your Stupid Blog, Here's a Personal Diary Award - Herman (Paper Diary so he can keep his deep thoughts to himself and Extreme DDR for off season rehab)
After our awards, the group needed to kickstart the tryptophanal lull brought on by the meat dishes (burgs, brats, etc.), Deb's famous pasta, and guac & chips. (I'm questioning the use of that tryptophan adjective).
In response, Sensei Dean barked orders for team shots. I became the makeshift bartender - throwing whatever liquor, juice, and ice lay on the counter into a blender for some ungodly concoctions.
We then made full use of Nicole's award as the beer bong went around the room. To my dismay, I disgraced my alma mater by regurgitating the last few inches of foam that came through the funnel. I think it's somewhere fermenting on Mike's ceiling. Yes, my brethren in Hanover would not have been proud and my degree is temporarily in suspension. Whatever. Actually, I was more bummed out that I got beer on my new designer shirt. J/k, not really.
Anyhow, we then took the partay to Capitol Hill at the Baltic Room where the DJ played old school hip hop and laid down some pretty nifty beats. The scene was a bit younger and more Asiany. My peeps, not really.
So the drinks continued to flow and then Dean starts to think he's the star of Hustle & Flow, "rapping" to all the songs with Aggie gang signs ablazing. Notice rapping in quotes.
Towards the end of the night, Debbie has a close encounter of the darker kind. Clearly, she was shaking her junks enough to pique the interest of this younger male. Not sure if digits were exchanged, so you'll have to get the details from her. Anyhow, we end up shutting down the Baltic Room at the 'break of dawn' (2 am in Seattle). Thus, ending another PIF night.
One final note, we did have one fallen soldier who was unable to participate in the festivities. While the airline gods were not in her favor, we did keep her anima-tensity with us throughout the night. Kellyn, you'll be happy to know you were in our thoughts as we got housed. We'll just have to dominate the summer league, claim the title, and make Vegas the next spot for PIF banquet. I'm thinking Ghost Bar at The Palms.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
1. Empowerment is the Path to Consumer Engagement
This is what sites like MySpace and brands like BMW and Nike do very well. They empower their user to define and control their experience in the way that they want to. Consumers have many choices today and marketers have to allow the consumer to make choices on how they want to interact with a brand and how they want to navigate within the site.
2. Social Networking = Big Numbers
Case in point. MySpace has 66 million uniques/month and expects to hit 100 million by end of year and Facebook just rejected a $750 million buyout offer. Can we say 2000 redux on valuation?
These sites appeal to the 18-24 year olds and WORK because it fulfills a fundamental need of this demographic, “personal branding.” MySpace and Facebook give kids 1) freedom of expression, 2) ability to create and control their identity, and 3) make new friends.
This is what they care about…..
3. Behavioral Targeting is Sexy but not the End All Be All
A lot of talk about BT for publishers. It tends to work well in e-commerce, for higher priced products and longer purchase decisions. Has proven to work in some campaigns and not others.
4. Be Creative in Driving Pageviews
RSS, Blogs, and Tagging are ways to create “links” back to a site. Every publisher should be doing it.
5. Ad Dollars Continue to Shift Online
Duh. We know this. $15.6 billion in Online Ad Spend in 2006.
Monday, June 19, 2006
The team played valiantly, played together (as always, "can we all have a group hug?"), and hung tight through both games. It just wasn't our day....
One good thing: With outstanding play, our captain, GM, and CAO (Chief Administrative Officer), Mike D, has solidified the final roster spot for PIF's 2006 Fall season. There was fear amongst the ranks that his value add (administrative duties) could be outsourced to a third party. When PIF dialed in a 911, Mike D stepped up his game and made Wayne Chrebet wish he hadn't retired. The 5'10 caucasian male from Texas went deep in the middle and made several big time catches in traffic. Stupefied on the sidelines, we watched the ball bobble a few times like a hot potato and then fall into the new mitts of receiver Dean. He even showed his 4.9 speed going an extra 8-10 yards. Glad to have you back on the team, Mike D!
Second good thing: I did end up fulfilling a lifelong dream of living a day in the life of Steve-O and Chris Pontius from Jackass and Wild Boyz. In other words, I decided to play in the first game against #1 seed Yo Mamas with my 2 week old fractured clavicle. The thought was that I'd play offense only - catch 5-10 yard passes with my dominant arm and going left only. I know, doesn't sound too impactful. And indeed, this was true. I made a marginal impact on the game.
Anyhow, that's besides the point. Clearly not real smart given the inherent risks. Apparently, that's the kind of decision making you can only obtain from an Ivy league education and b-school. Funny thing is that minimizing risk was my job in a former life, analyzing investment risk. Ah, the irony.
Luckily for me, I played through the game unscathed by further injury. The last time I do that. Never say never is the response to that. :)
Here's a non-sequiter, Yo Mamas has a very annoying, "XL & in charge" captain who's big mouth does not match his small game. He kind of reminds of one of the Jedi Knights from that Triumph the Insult Dog clip where he's berating the hardcore fans at a Star Wars premiere. Here's the video. Hilarious. Yes, totally random. Just had to point that out because I can never seem to beat his team (dating back to the 2005 RainBowl). Someday ...
Anyhow, the season is over and the stories shall continue... our big end of season banquet is this Friday and is being held at the captain's self-professed Love Shack. He also calls it his Dojo, akin to the den of the infamous Cobra Kai who terrorized Mr. Miyagi's Daniel-San.
Friday shall be an evening of indulgences, roasts, a little alcohol, serious rug cutting and possibly some debauchery. More to come; pics too!
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
After a lengthy dinner (4 hours due to poor waitstaff), we decided to stay local at the hotel for the evening festivities. This led us to our only option - the 51st floor of the Rio, the not-too-famous VooDoo Lounge where we each had to pay an outrageous $20 cover. Note to management of the VooDoo Lounge, this ain't Manhatten and IT's a MONDAY night!
Anyhow, we decided to fork over the Andrew J and take our chances. To our surprise, the VooDoo delivered indeed. A bit slow at 10 but things did get hopping at the half hour mark when the DJ's kicked in the salsa/latin/dance music. Coincidently, that's also when the shots of Patron started to flow. I must say ... you take people out of the office environment and you learn a few things. There are some heavy hitters in this group - dancing machines. I won't name names.
Overlooking the entire Vegas strip with amazing panoramic views, we then proceeded to shake our junks the rest of the night. A warm breeze and city lights. Vegas style. It felt like a party you might see on Real World Las Vegas (at Rio not Palms). The pretty people out with fancy cocktails and shiny clothes.
The highlight of the evening was the creation of our own dance circle. Yeah, we were the cool kids, to the envy of all the hipsters at the VooDoo, completely dominating the dance floor with our theatrics. I must say that we brought out a big fat rug and cut it up nicely; lots of robot action and swing dancing.
To my "surprise," my broken clavicle was no longer feeling broken - thank you Mr. Tequila ... and yes, the sling came off. Apparently, that gave open invitation to perform more elaborate swing moves by other members. And yes, I did pay for it the next morning.
Viva Las Vegas.
Above is a pic of the crew, from left to right. Stella, Heather, Laura & to-be-named baby girl Burke, Wiley, Manon, Lizzie, Heather, Joe, and Roxy.
To the right, are the elderlings of the pack: Roxy Levy and Wiley Burke.
Saturday, June 10, 2006
Well, this afternoon, P.I.F. played big time in a 27-0 dismantling of The Bourgeois.
Small caveat: they did only have 7 players vs. our 8 but it still would have been a blowout nonetheless.
Everybody stepped up to play an all-around solid game, not a lot of mistakes:
Adam got Player of Game honors with his multiple TD's on O and D, Shan probably set a record of INTs and return yards in a game, Kellyn was tenacious on D (as usual) pass rushing like the late Reggie White and hauled in some nice outs, Maggie was like a Jack Russell Terrier terrorizing the opposing QB, Matt owned the skinny post all day long with some post catch wiggle, Debbie grabbed flags like it was her Biznass, Nicole hung tight in the curls, John put the lock down on his zone, and Johnny caught some key passes despite his groin injury.
At the end of the day, the good guys came out, put on a clinic, and we are yet one game closer to the branding of our fearless captain, Mike, with the team moniker, Pride is Forever.
Oh yes, it's going on his left derriere!
I get my haircut at Studio 229 in Capitol Hill (i. e. Chicago's Lincoln Park of Seattle) from a very hip and talented chica by the name of Trista. She's a total perfectionist which jives well with me AND most importantly, she does a mean faux hawk. My du jour cut. If you are looking for a killer do and good conversation to boot, give her a call. She won't disappoint.
Since I've moved to Seattle, I admittedly have become a bit of a coffee/latte snob. I mean, it's kinda' like once "You go [black], you never go back." Yes, random but you get the point. I'm talking about that perfect blend of espresso and steamed milk with the latte art on the creamy, silky head of the foam usually shaped in a rosetta pattern. In my short time here, I have determined that three coffee shops deliver what I call the perfect latte. They are in no particular order and you should try each for yourself to make up your own mind:
Zoka in Tangletown (Green Lake), Espresso Vivace in Capitol Hill, and Uptown Espresso in Belltown.
You won't go wrong with any of these.
Based on this entry, can you figure out the anagram for Seattle?
Friday, June 09, 2006
Thursday, June 08, 2006
In my fallen state of shock, Kellyn and Maggie somehow sensed my faculties were not intact - I think my Casper the Friendly Ghost look AND loss of vision were strong indicators. Thank you ladies for making me lie down and hence, giving back my sight. Kind of important to me in the big scheme of things.
Upon regaining vision, Kellyn then drove me to the emergency room, got me into the ridiculous queue of waiting dumasses (e.g. one guy jumped off a fence and had a lead pipe go through his foot), and patiently hung out with mega-gimp until Heather arrived with a baggie of goodies. You know, like candy bars, bottled water, and mags (not the dirty kind). She’s kind of obligated to do that since she married me but nonetheless Heather did have the remarkable presence to bring me my latest read, Web Site Measurement Hacks. Yeah, I’m pretty cool.
One day ladies, I predict that you all will make a little boy feel very safe and happy that you're nearby to save the day. And lucky me, I was that kid for one afternoon. :)
Where's my 600 mg of ibuprofen when you really need it? Did I mention that this clavicle injury tends to be its worst in the morning? Still trying to figure that out, especially getting out of bed. I imagine it's the lack of blood flow plus the requirement of using the clavicle bone to support the entire weight of your body as you turn to stand up. Wowsers, it hurts.
Anyway, if you can't beat it, write about it. So more info than you need to know, my left bicep has turned a pallid shade of green while my left pec has turned a rich pomegranate color. I think it's nature's way of saying "You're f'd up. Here's proof." If you're lucky, I may get a pic up here. Just need to get Heather to take the pic.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Back in February, Heather and I adopted a 6-month old stray puppy from the animal shelter, who we affectionately call Lizzie Lou. She is a piece of work! The ham of the family, loves to taunt other dogs with toys, and has taken to the water like a true Lab. As far as breeds go, we think she's a mix of Lab, Pit Bull, and Rhodesian Ridgeback.
So I took two of my college interns (one female and one male) out for a sushi lunch to just chat about work and whatever else was on their mind. Truly interesting for me - as I could test my ability to relate to the kids.
So it starts out like this, “So do you guys have My Space accounts?”
Female intern says, “No. There are a lot of creepy people on My Space. I can’t believe there are older people in their twenties who are on there.”
I say, “Yes there are sketchy people on My Space. I don’t have an account but a lot of my friends have My Space accounts.”
You know who you are. Ok, moving on to the next topic.
“So I’ve been watching this cool new show on MTV called Fresh Meat. Have you seen it?”
They say, “Nope.” O for 2. Sweet. Time to break out the life-saver. Grey’s here we come.
“What about Grey’s Anatomy? I’m really bummed the season’s over.”
I already knew that one of the interns (the female one, no surprise) watched the show so I was in. We then proceeded to talk about why the show is so good: intelligent characters, witty dialogue, solid story lines, and of course the really good looking people. I will say that the show is pretty darn addicting. Plus, I have to show support for the show’s creator/producer, Shonda Rhimes, who’s a fellow Dartmouth alum. Props to her for creating something SO FRESH and filling a huge void on network TV. I have no doubt that this show has legs for the long run. The key will be to maintain character development for Meredith (obviously) and those who are interesting to me like Addison (she’s hot!), George, and Izzie. Tuning the audience into that development is the ultimate crack for TV. Enough of Grey’s.
Back to my interns, they are awesome: eager, inquisitive, and mellow cool. I look forward to being a lighter version of J.D. – helping them pull off an actionable research project and at the same time, enjoy a Mariners game and a few more Grey’s-like conversations over lunch.
I made this statement to a few co-workers and they basically laughed at me. Fine, I may not be 22 anymore, be in Ironman shape, or have access to the best medical help available but damn it, I think I've done more than a decent job of "living a healthy and active lifestyle." As such, I hit the grocery store early morning and picked up some calcium, boron, and vitamin D supplements to help spur the path towards accelerated bone growth. Theoretically, if I eat healthy, I'm getting the proper nutrients to do this but I figure it doesn't hurt to have some extra oomph to get those cells going. If nothing, it will at least provide me with a placebo and give me that psychological edge which may in turn create a positive physiological effect. You never know.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
I will say that wearing a sling on a day-to-day basis does have its benefits. People generally feel sorry for you (or at least they act like it) and IT'S a great conversation starter. "So what happened?" "How did you hurt yourself?" "Are you ok?" These are the kinds of questions I'm getting walking down the hall at work, in the supermarket at the checkout line, at the gas station, and at Starbucks. All from random strangers and interestingly enough, I'd say 95% from the opposite sex. If I were not happily married, I'm thinking that this would be a very effective way to meet women. Couple this strategy with walking a dog at Green Lake, and you've got a surefire way to meet a honey. I may have to suggest this tactic to my single friends. Guys, if you want to meet the ladies, get hurt or fake an injury and make sure people have a visual. It works!!!
Anyhow, I seemed to have digressed a bit from my initial cost-benefits analysis of this injury. I sure hope somebody makes good use of the very clear takeaway from this entry.
Be back in a few, H