Vote For Ryan!

Ok, there’s no real vote here, but my friend and colleague Ryan Block wrote an excellent blog post nominating himself for the future CEO of Motorola’s beleaguered cell phone division. Now to be fair, I don’t think he’d really enjoy the CEO gig (think of the paperwork!), but I’m sure they could use a Chief Cool New Phone Officer. Ryan, you’ve got my vote. If I actually had one, that is…

Rioting after quarterfinals is way premature

OK, to be completely honest, any rioting that has to do with a sporting event is just plain ridiculous. As is plainly obvious, I’m a huge Habs fan, and was totally Tom Cruising (jumping off the couch) during their 5-0 win against the Bruins on Monday. But I was somehow able to restrain myself from tipping over my plasma and throwing something through my front window. It’s an embarrassment to Montrealers, Canadians, the Habs team, and its fans to have to read/watch stories like these (echoed here). For shame.

Not being evil is different than not doing evil

Saw an article on TechCrunch this morning regarding Google’s philosophy of “not being evil” which included:

This is most likely not a precursor to an official move away from the motto. I imagine it’s little more than a venting of a frustration that Google continues to be held to a promise made six years ago, when they were under significantly less scrutiny than they are today. Google can’t ditch the motto (the press would eat that up), and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to live up to it. What can they do? Not much.

I don’t think I agree with Mike on this. In fact, not “being” evil is fairly easy, as there really are few companies who “are” evil.  There are few people who are evil.  Being evil is a fairly tough endeavor.  Doing evil, on the other hand, is quite a different story, and while this might be a matter of semantics, I believe it’s a very important difference.

Plenty of good people do plenty of evil.  They do it fairly frequently in fact. It’s extremely challenging to not do any evil in one’s life, whether it’s lying, cheating, taking advantage of others, etc.  These are all evil things, even if at varying degrees.

I’d love to see a company step up to not DO any evil.  Now that would be a noble challenge.

It’s the playoffs. I have a DVR. Don’t call with an update!

It’s 2002. Game 6. Montreal leads the series 3-2.  It’s 6:30pm on the West Coast and I begin watching my TiVo’d game, timeshifted by about 2.5 hours.  About 15 minutes later, my phone rings, “CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?” exclaims the excited relative.

That one was understandable.

It’s 2008.  There should be no such calls.  It might be harder to celebrate (especially bicoastally), but if you know someone is (1) a huge fan and (2) has a DVR and (3) isn’t always able to watch games live and in real-time, just don’t call.  Wait it out.  There’s plenty of time to yell and reminisce.

Game 1 is in the bag.  15 more for 25.

Tops In The East!?!!!

Holy cow!

Eastern Conference

Go Habs Go!

Thank you GrubHub!

My wife and I don’t get food delivered all that often, as we prefer to cook. Partly because we enjoy cooking, partly because we enjoy the taste, party because of the healthiness of knowing what is in our food, and partly for the ecological/sustainability issues around buying local, etc. BUT, when we do get something delivered, we tend to sift through our pile of menus, often reordering (accidentally) from places we don’t like.

Until the other night, when I found grubhub, a site that h

WordPress killed my original draft and I just don’t have the energy to rewrite it.  So… I like GrubHub.  The End.

I didn’t know it, but my cousin’s a poet!

Hey, at least it rhymed…

My 15-year-old cousin Jared cowrote, then read aloud an original poem. I’d say it’s pretty impressive for a 15-year-old, but I think it’s pretty impressive for any age! Great job cuz!

Hockey Night in San Jose. Go Habs!

Last year I read and listened (online) anxiously to every game leading up until the end of the regular season.  And I was there stunned as the Montreal Canadiens were eliminated, mostly at their own doings, by a single point at the final game of the season.  Not quite heartbreaking, but most definitely disappointing.

The summer passed, several decent free agents showed up, but no “monumental” players.  By the pre-season, the Habs were picked anywhere from 8-15th in the Eastern Conference, typically again, out of the playoffs.  And the season opened, and Montreal did well.  Surprisingly well in fact.

As the season continued, the team continued to perform.  They didn’t have their typical Nov/Dec crash (past 4-5 seasons those months were terrible for some reason).  They remained in contention I think every game of the season.

StandingsTwo weeks ago, I watched a game where over the course of the first period they ended up down 5-0.  So even though the game was on the DVR, I continued watching.  But I did put it into fast-forward mode.  Mid-way through the 2nd period, Montreal scores. Yay.  A few minutes later, goals 2 and 3 come almost back to back.  I drop back into regular speed.   The 3rd period opens, and goal 4 happens.  When Kovalev ties it up with 8 minutes to spare, I was borderline emotional.  The shootout win was like a movie moment.  Go habs go!

And now?   Tied at the top of the East.

Tonight, as they did 4 years ago, Montreal is playing San Jose here in the Bay Area.  And myself and a crew of another dozen folks are caravaning on down to watch em.  And it’s my birthday.


Elitism in any form is a bad thing

Originally I was preparing to write a number on how much I hate music snobs.  You know, the people who glance at your iTunes playlist and make a mocking comment about something you have in there, and then you kinda joke back about “how’d that get in there” but deep down you really like Tiffany’s rendition of “I Think We’re Alone Now” or even “MmmBop”.  Snobs suck. Snobs ruin the day. Wine snobs, food snobs, car snobs, clothes snobs.  All snobs suck.  Period.  But there’s something bugging me more than snobbery, it’s elitism.

I define elitism as people who think that some other people, for some particular reason, are better people than others.  Let’s not confuse this with liking people more – we can most certainly choose who we want to spend our time with and not have it be questioned.  Elitism is putting the velvet rope outside a venue, and putting someone in charge of determining who gets to go in.  And elitism is bad.

Elitism causes jealousy. It causes anger. It causes frustration.  It causes self-doubt.  And by the way, this is not just to those who can’t get in, it applies to those who did get in as well.  And the upside of elitism?  Not much.  It makes just fa ew people feel temporarily better about themselves, but over the course of time, probably less about themselves (as they wonder it they’ll make it to the next must-attend thing).

There’s a little brouhaha going on about the TED conference, an event that many techie folk consider drool-worthy (myself included).  In the past, it was easy to hold an “elite” conference and people sat on the sidelines lamenting about their not-so-coolness.  Today with the combination of bloggers and the permanence of the Internet, that’s no longer the case.  Valleywag blogged the TED conference list, then quickly got asked to take the list down, an utterly irrelevant act due to instant caching across the Internet.  Today, the elitism of the event has turned the goodwill into ill-will, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see changes next year, possibly as drastic as canceling the conference (which would be the absolutely worst outcome of all this).

Does this mean that anyone and everyone should be allowed across the velvet rope just because they want in?  No, that doesn’t solve a problem either.  But in this age of openness, I think organizers of events and “list-makers” are going to need to disclose their processes.  They’ll need to create more open applications for others to join.  And criteria must be disclosed.  People like Sarah Lacy (and heck, even myself!) are unlikely to feel sour grapes if there’s a clearly explained event selection process and she can logically deduce why she didn’t “make the cut”, even as her friends (and their boyfriends or relatives) did.

At least at the clubs you know why you didn’t get let in before those 14 ripped dudes with perfect hair.  It’s because you are ugly.

Why I’m weaning from United

Hello.  This is my last week as a 1K flyer, and I felt it made sense to give you feedback as to why this is the case.  First and foremost, this is a deliberate effort on my part.  While I absolutely maintain the Mileage Plus program is probably the best of all frequent flyer programs, the flights themselves are simply no longer worth the effort.

I am not exactly sure how many times, but I used e-upgrades to fly first or business class numerous times last year.  In no uncertain terms, I find your “elite” seating is simply not worth the effort to maintain status or even keep loyalty with the airline.  With the exception of the P.S. flights, I don’t recall more than one flight in all of 2007 having working power adapters in the first class seating. This is at the same time as many airlines have put standard AC outlets across all coach class seats.

While the meals and free drinks in the upgraded sections is nice, I’d rather pack a sandwich and buy a $5 vodka than have to deal with running out of power while crossing the Mississippi ever again.  And considering your fares are barely competitive with upstarts such as Virgin America, I have neither the feature nor financial incentive to remain active with the airline.

In 2007 it took me a few months to make these realizations, although I did come to appreciate the P.S. service.  Accordingly, in 2008 whenever I fly to New York it will likely be via United.  However for international destinations or other domestic needs, I’ll be flying on another carrier.

As parting advice, I strongly urge you to start modernizing your airplanes.  When comparing the quality of the planes, the seats, the service, the food, and virtually every offering, I believe United has slipped far below its competition.  Specifically:

  • Install AC outlets at every seat.
  • Consider more in-flight entertainment options.
  • Stop featuring “fancy sounding” food (Italian herb roasted chicken) and do the basics better (turkey sandwich).
  • Upgrade all the seats in the upgraded cabins, they look like they are leftovers from Braniff’s fleet.
  • Give the flight crew and reservations staff a new training lesson on the notion of customer service, and how it is not the same as “answering a question as curtly as possible”

It might be ironic that it’s taken me 500,000 miles before writing to you, and that the first time I do so it is a note of complaint and departure.  I’m not really sure, but I do know the airline operates today the same way it did before I started accumulating my 500,000 miles.  And at this pace, I am probably not the only one abandoning the quest to drive that number into the skies.

(sent to United’s 1K customer feedback email)