Commanding Chaos for Coworking, Open Source and Creative Communities

September 2005 Posts

Smithwick’s as a staple

Fri, 09/30/2005 - 21:18 -- rprice

I first had Smithwick’s Ale in the Arena (Ann Arbor) at a charity event to raise money for a needy Detroit school. Awesome that a bar and a group of college students in Ann Arbor would put together such a worthy and attractive benefit like that. Good food in the form of unlimited appetizers, and $3 beer across the board. My roommate Erin suggested Smithwick’s (pronounced smitiks), and it was a good beer for that setting.

I was quite into Yuengling at the time, so Smithwick’s was an interesting departure. Similar to Yuengling in color, body, and weight, Smithwick’s has just a bit more bite, and a little less of what I would say is Yeungling’s “fruity” quality. I have always said Yuengling is a good middle of the road beer, good for hops fans and American Domestic fans alike. Besides, Yuengling is cheap in the parts of the country where you can find it.

Both beers are not so filling, something you can drink repeatedly without feeling too wieghed down. Smithwick’s was $7.99 for a sixer at the 500 Beer Store, not so bad for some good flavor, but a $6.50 pack of ‘Lager’ (the colloqiual name for Yuengling in Pennsylvania) would have sufficed for the budget-conscious drinker.

Smithwick’s is made by Diageo, the same folks as Guinness, an Irish brew, and a fine beer. Fans of Guinness will notice there are no similar qualities to these beers aisde fromt the manufacturer, but a beer connisuer should check it out.

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Great White is Great Beer

Fri, 09/30/2005 - 21:05 -- rprice

Some time ago, for my friend Beth’s birthday (and her twin Garret’s), I went to the Lazy Moon pizzariea near UCF. Garret insisted that I sample some of his Great White, a wheat beer they had on tap. I rushed right to the tap to grab a Litre of said beverage, because I loved it. I had some again tonight in a bottle, and it was equally pleasant:

Lost Coast Brewery’s Great White is described as:

A Crisp beer with a hint of citrus, made with two-row malted barley, unmalted wheat, a secret blend of Humboldt herbds, crystal clear mountain water, and ale yeast.

Let me say this is an accurate description. The initial hit is fruity, followed by the WAMMY of wheat. People who have tried other wheat beers like Blue Moon will be surprised by the incredible flavor and body of this beer (no oranges or lemons required). A bit filling, but it is worth it. The only food I’ve tried this with is pizza, and I have to say that goes well, even for pizza and beer. I had some pizza rolls tonight, and had as good a time. It was also good by itself, but again, I wouldn’t be able to drink too much.

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New Supreme Court Justice

Thu, 09/29/2005 - 10:51 -- rprice

Posted from Boing Boing (Sept 14th 2005):

Five things I’d ask every Supreme Court nominee if I sat on the Senate Judiciary Committee

1. If you knew to an absolute moral certainty that you could capture and consume a live infant without being caught, how many do you suppose you could eat in a weekend?
2. Have you ever been spanked erotically by someone who was not your current legal spouse? Just yes or no, please.
3. Nominee, do you regard these slacks as accentuating my basket in an un-senatorial fashion?
4. Describe in single words, only the good things that come into your mind about…your mother.
5. Kindly rise, and sing the 1979 hit, The Pina Colada Song, also known as Escape.

The new Supreme Court Chief Justice was sworn in today. The public opinion is very mixed as to whether he will kill democracy as we know it, or just be a good Chief Justice. The one story I read (and damned if I can’t find it again) suggested he would be objective and not let his religious beliefs get in the way of decisions. He is now the 4th Catholic Justice, whatever that means.

That’s what happened. That’s all I can say.

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Most Important Report Ever - New Server?

Mon, 09/26/2005 - 21:30 -- rprice

What is the pinnacle of your carreer? What defines the greatest achievement for a young entrepeneur like myself? How about writing a report for guys down at Wizards of the Coast? I think so.

I got a wierd random email from Erik of Unity Entertainment asking me how to access the web stats... I thought this was a little out of the ordinary, so I informed Erik that he would have to ask me at the exact time he wanted to see the stats, since I don't have instant control over stats.

In talking to Jeff one time, I was trying to explain that I have to query support every time I need new stats, and he said "Well, why not just buy a server?" I reply "Well, that costs $170!" He says, "As long as we could make money, then whatever!"

I think it would be a bad idea to go into business wiht a client to resell hosting and have to play sysadmin to bunches of users just because I was sharing profits with Mr. Jeff. No offense to him, but... no thanks, Jeff. The end of that is I will most likely be hooking up a Virtual Private Server pretty soon, and I will be getting a small chunk of a server that lets me control it like it'y my own dedicated server, meaning I get root access and i can run scripts whenever.

But back to the topic at hand. My special special report. It turns out the reason why Erik wanted to see the stats is because Wizards of the Coast was running a number of TV ads on Adult Swim with location-specific endings, like the Florida ones apparently advertised my client Unity Entertainment and MY website. SWEET! The goal was to prove that the advertising was driving traffic to the site, and that it would be profitable to run the ads again for future events.

WELL, I knew it would be pointless to start the report until Sunday, since the event was a Friday to Sunday thing. I emailed the dudes Sunday afternoon and asked them to run my stats. Then I got lazy and didn't check very often, so I went to hang with my friends for a little while. By the time I got back, it was after 1 AM, and I still had barely written any of the report. I spent the next three and a half hours cranking away at it, and then emailed it to Jeff, with instructions to wake me up at his earliest convenience. Around 10 AM, I get the call and the instructions to actually write something based on the data. I said "The advertising worked", and I got a pat on the back. Hooray. Now I get to charge Jeff for time well spent.

My report is going to be reviewed by the largest gaming company in the world. I mean, they are owned by Hasbro, and they own almost every major gaming license they could get their hands on, including Dungeons & Dragons. That is major.

I doubt you'll be seeing my name in lights anytime soon, but I feel special today.

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Gallery 2 Released

Wed, 09/21/2005 - 21:19 -- rprice

Gallery 2 has been the topic of most news on gallery.menalto.com for a number of months now. The new version of this widely used web-based photo gallery software has introduced several radical changes. The most interesting is use of a database to serve images, completely hiding the location of photos from all users of the gallery, while still allowing access to these images via gallery-specific URLs. The new version of gallery will allow great leaps and bounds in security and community, at least as soon as development catches up with Gallery version 1.

Gallery has always been based in PHP, but has thus far used configuration text files for storing the locations of all images and user information, as well as preferences. Gallery 2 will now employ a centralized database with the ability to support multi-site installations. I installed the full gallery package, which is about 70MB with all the optional packages, but the remote site only takes up about 1.5MB (at least the one I installed seems to use that much space, and it's mostly in the albums folder where it caches the data, not really the installation directory. That is a great feature for web hosts like me with several clients, all with their own photo galleries.

Also on the storage front, users of G2 may now be organized into groups, and optionally given a disk space quota based on the amount of hard drive space their images occupy. One small but useful feature is the ability to give each registered user their own gallery when they register: this task used to be done manually.

Other great upgrades include a theme system, similar to most modern Content Management Systems, allowing real freedom of design—especially compared to the old G1 'skin' system. This means the same codebase can now support infinite layouts, limited only by the designer's imagination and skill. Similarly, extensions to Gallery 2 are now handled though a module-based system, which should prove to be much more user-friendly for administrators than editing PHP files by hand. Several modules ship included with Gallery 2, but they can be turned on and off via a simple user interface.

Aside from the exceptionally large install of the initial 'server' codebase, the new Gallery is a snap to set up. Just turn it on, locate a few directories, and no—more—binaries. Anyone who set up gallery before in shared hosting knows it was an adventure if your host didn't support ImageMagick or NetPBM. Now users will be pleased to learn that Gallery 2 supports GD, a graphics library that often comes pre-compiled into PHP. Following along with the help file, I was able to get an instance of Gallery 2 running reliably inside of 10 minutes, maybe less. Wonderful. Just give me some defaults, and let me sort it out later.

Good job, kids. Love the new Gallery.

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iPod Nano vs. McDonalds

Tue, 09/20/2005 - 19:46 -- rprice

This topic was broight to my mind by Paul Colligan and Alex Mandossian of Marketing Online Live, two guys that have a Podcast related to their Marketing Online magazine.

iPods aside, ask anyone in the business or marketing world, 'What business is McDonald's in?', and they will reply, 'Real Estate'. Most people will say, 'I thought they sold hamburgers and plastic toys and... fruit.' Oh no, my unknowing friend, think about it:

  • Franchise owners will buy more land than they need, and sell the remainder to other businesses like mini malls. The street corner grows up around the McDonald's
  • McDonald's owns more land than Disney. For kids from Florida, that means something.
  • Much like a realtor will sign up with a national firm like Watson, an entrepeneur will spend millions of dollars just for the right to use the name of McDonald's.

All that other stuff is mostly there to intice you, the consumer, to want to go to the real-estate and spend your money, and come back to it many times, because you trust the product. You can get the product anywhere—a hamburger, a spongebob toy, a playground, and a clean place to sit. You want the product, but you are investing your time in that piece of real estate.

Now, let's take the iPod. What are Apple and Steve Jobs really selling here? Music? Digital freedom? Podcasts? Photos? No way. If you haven't noticed, when you buy a new iPod, it is empty. You have to buy the content, or rip it yourself. Without good content, your iPod is worth nothing. However, you paid $300, bitch. Why?

You're buying a brand. A brand that is so damn exiting that HP didn't even bother to make their own, they freakin' re-sell Apple's! The thing doesn't even play video! WHY? Because they have got your loyalty. They are McDonald's. Not only do they control your real-estate and your brand loyalty, they also control the means of distrobution.

The smartest thing they ever did was give me something for free. Every week, the iTunes music store gives away two or more songs. In order to download these songs, I have to sit my butt in the seat, open their application, go to their music store (which I can only open from their application), and download the free songs. Now, I don't exactly have to walk in the front door, because I can link to it directly from outside the application, but I am already there. They've got me. And you know what? The songs you buy on iTunes can only be played on an iPod. That means you need to visit their real-estate to use their product.

The same can be said of McDonald's. The only place to get a happy meal is underneath the Golden Arches.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. There is a handy comment form below.

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I made it to the Digg Homepage

Sun, 09/18/2005 - 19:09 -- rprice

Digg.com, for those of you who don’t know, is a social technology news website where users digg (vote) stories to promote them to the homepage. I believe 75 diggs will earn you coveted homepage status. Just for fun, go there and read 3 or 4 stories. Some are really geeky or funny, others are real news.

One bottleneck to the process is that people tend to post things over and over and over and… ad nauseum. To solve this problem, the submission get matched agianst other similar posts and there is a search box so you can try to weed out your news before you post and get angry comments. The seceond one is posting stale news from days, weeks, months, or even years past, although it did re-unite me with my favorite car commercial (Honda).

My story:

Google Founders Buy a 767 Jumbo Jet

Apparently, a 767 is not a Jumbo Jet. Oh well. At the time of this post, I was up to 1073 diggs, and my user name now has a little (1) next to it. Hooray-a for me!

My Digg Profile

Here you can check out the stories I have been digging recently. You could also see if I have any more stories on the homepage. I doubt it will ever happen again, but we’ll see.

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Google AdSense for RSS and Atom Feeds

Sun, 09/18/2005 - 12:33 -- rprice

I read this news just a few days ago, and it seems like old news, but it is a viable topic for discussion. Google is obviously big daddy here, but other companies have been putting ads in feeds for quite some time now. Should feeds contain advertising? Is it profitable? Viable? Who benfits?

Posted from eWeek.com (May 17, 2005):

By moving its sponsored listings into feeds, Google wants to remove a common fear among some publishers that they will lose advertising revenue as readers subscribe to feeds rather than reading content on Web sites, said Shuman Ghosemajumder, business product manager for AdSense.

Over the past few years, everyone has come to expect seeing Google text ads hovering at the top or sides of almost every web page. The idea of contextual advertising is certainly not old, but new form of content delivery are now appearing, and new advertising models are needed as the Web evolves.

Scott Johnson of Feedster mentioned in a July 4th interview with InfoTalk that his RSS search engine would be incorporating ads into feeds. One of the best parts is that their brand of feed-vertising will scrape content from the entire archive of a feed, as opposed to just what is being displayed (i.e. tha last 10 posts). This allows them to give you truly targeted advertising, instead of just grabbing keywords.

The Feedster interview took place at the Gnomedex conference, shortly after Microsoft announced IE7 would have support for RSS, additionaly announcing RSS support would be built in to the Vista kernel and each user's profile. For advertisers, that is a fairly large announcement, considering Windows users will have such integral support to viewing feeds, and therefore being exposed to feed-based advertising at every turn.

The place I see this sort of advertising having the greatest effect is in a vertical search or regional search type application, such as my brother's Cable Ridge, where he wants to promote events specifically in South Florida. Placing ads in his RSS feeds for local businesses and services would really target the specific customer base that business is chasing after, therefore maximizing the effectiveness of their ads. On the other hand, of the millions of people subscribed to Slashdot or del.icio.us may be getting ads they don't neccesarily care about. I guess it is better than plain old contextual AdWords, though.

Keep watching your favorite feeds over the next few months. We'll talk about this more after it becomes common practice.

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InfoTalk Podcast is my #1

Sun, 09/18/2005 - 11:56 -- rprice

John Furrier of PodTech.net is a computer science guy from back in the 80's, and while he doesn't think of himself as special, he really is. His incredibly popular batch of InfoTalk Podcasts consists of short 15-minute segments, each one covering a different topic somehow related to current and future trends in the internet, or Web 2.0 as John calls it. Guests have included Adam Curry, one of the people known as 'Podfather', employees of Microsoft, WordPress developers, lawyers, marketers, computer scientists, you name it, he's got it.

While the show is very informative, the delivery can be confusint. He tries to break the segments up into more than 20 different 'shows', and segments within these shows have an insane amount of overlap. Subscribing to even two of the shows produces 10 or 15 duplicate downloads. My personal recomendation is the Silicon Valley Podcast.

Hard drive space aside, the guest speakers are great. John takes it much more like an interview with the guest as the star and himself as a humble facilitator. He obviously knows his stuff, and does great preparation beforehand. Each interview may cover a number of topics such as Podcasting, Blogging, Search Engines, Operating Systems and Open Source issues in the technology side. He also takes time to ask about Venture Capital, Entrepenurship and Marketing, even legal issues. For a young aspiring mind like myself, the views and news presented give me a great idea of the state of the industry, and what the big boys are up to. More than once a guest has presented and idea I would like to incorporate in to my Web business, or that I think is just darn cool.

The point is, if you are interested in the slightly more business-y side of the Web, where the future of content delivery is headed, or tips about how to make a million ducks, check out PodTech.net and the InfoTalk Podcasts.

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