Showing posts from 2007

Web 2.0 - Not Your Big Brother's World Wide Web

These days, it seems that everyone's talking about Web 2.0, the new release of the Internet that’s due out from Microsoft some time in 2010, right after they ship Windows 2005.

Just kidding: everyone knows that Microsoft sold the Internet to Apple and Google a few years ago in a super-secret deal that gave Apple ownership over all digital media while Google got everything else. Every time someone downloads a video of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton at the MTV Awards, Steve Jobs buys another jet. But that’s not what Web 2.0 is about. Web 2.0 is fresh! It’s new! And it is nothing, repeat, nothing like Web 1.0, which was full of dirty pictures, popup ads, and e-commerce sites that wanted to sell you appliances over the Internet. This is a meaningful paradigm shift, not some technology fad. You just wait and see.

You know, I still remember Web 0.8, which we called "AOL" (for you young kids, this was before everything had ".com" at the end of its name). Back then, we …

Yankee Fans Eat Their Young (or old, in this case)

The only thing more fun than watching the Red Sox sit atop the AL East is watching the New York papers turn on the Yankees.

I don't think that Newsday holds out much hope for the postseason...

The Dangers of Google Street View

Sometimes, Google Street View shows you more than you want to know about the local street life.

Best Buddies Hyannisport Challenge 2007: Rain, Speed, and Rick Springfield

Note: to get the most enjoyment out of this report, you need a little history. Stop reading right now and go look at the 2005 and 2006 ride reports. OK, now you can keep reading.

If you ever find yourself in the position where you have to ride 96 miles on a bicycle through the pouring rain, then I have a word of advice for you: don't. What are you, nuts? It's cold and wet out there, the road grit sprays up and gets in your eyes, and that "Singin' in the rain" feeling doesn't kick in until well after the hypothermia has set in.

If, on the other hand, you find yourself with no choice but to ride in the rain for 96 miles because many of your wonderful friends and family members have paid for the privilege of hearing about it later, then I have another word for you:


If you have to do this and you want to leave your closest biking buddies sucking damp wind in your wake -- just like they've done to you for the past two years -- then I have two more words …

Count the cost

I have a friend -- let's call him "Mark" -- who is the cheapest guy that I know. This guy pinches pennies so hard that he has a permanent imprint of Abraham Lincoln on each thumb. He's the kind of guy you want at a party, though, so you can make sure that the caterer didn't overcharge you. I've never known anyone else who could calculate the difference between the charge per guest and the estimated cost of food, drinks, and wait staff, to the penny. Truly, it's a sight to behold. And he loves to tell the story about the time that he crawled inside his trunk in a New Hampshire blizzard to try to fix a tail light on his Passat, because he was darned if he was going to pay some dealer $50 to change a $2.30 part.

But we're not here to talk about Mark's legendary frugality (he buys his poker cards used, you know, and dips them in Fantastik to make them look new). We're here to talk about cost baselines. A cost baseline can be an extraordinarily usef…

Intellectual Property Tax?

I recently attended an in-house seminar about intellectual property for consultants. When I first saw this topic, I thought they had a typo in the title. I thought that they meant to say, "Intellectual Property *is* Consultants," which, while grammatically awkward, seemed accurate enough. I mean, I always hear the sales guys saying, "Our people are our product." They say other things, too, but they're not really relevant and certainly aren't for polite company. The point, though, is that I had always thought that if our people were our product, then intellectual property, like Soylent Green, was people. It turns out that I was incorrect, and I wish that someone had straightened me out before I tried to check my technical analyst's brain into the corporate knowledge base.

So what is it, then? This phrase, "intellectual property" -- IP for short, Int Prop for not-quite-as-short -- is thrown around our office like a free Nerf frisbee from an insur…

96 miles? No problem!

I did the Best Buddies Ride again this weekend, riding through rain and wind for 96 miles. Believe it or not, it felt pretty good!

The full ride report will be coming soon. In the meantime, why don't you go for a nice leisurely ride?

I'm still winnning

I just thought that it was worth mentioning that I'm still beating 94% of the other players on Motley Fool CAPS, even after a disastrous short on Blockbuster, Inc.

That is all.

Best Buddies route map

Check out the route map for this year's Best Buddies ride. This will be my third year doing the ride, and the first two ride reports are posted here and here.

Read this year's ride report!

I'd just like to note a few things about this map:
I finally have proof that this is more than a 90-mile ride. In fact, it's 96 miles! You can't even round down to 90 miles from there. I'm just sayin'...If you click on the link to show elevation, you can also see the hills that have killed me in past years. Specifically, what looks like a climb up a cliff (conveniently located by the White Cliffs Country Club) and the long series of hills between miles 76 and 88.Finally, it's a beautiful ride. Look at all that time we spend near the water! If it weren't so darn long, I'd do it every weekend.

Keep the Change (Clean)

We recently went through Anti Money Laundering training at my office (again). The training included ways to identify potential money-laundering behavior, some red flags to watch for, and some tips for avoiding potentially risky activities (for example, never float a loan to a guy named Osama, especially if he lists his address as "unknown cave in Pakistan" on the application).

Personally, I've never seen all of the fuss about money laundering. I mean, I've sent my wallet through the washer several times, and the money seems to come out just fine. In fact, it did a lot better than my receipts, which melded into a solid white brick that looked like it would have fit in perfectly at those adobe homes that New Mexico is always bragging about. Our bookkeeper complained a little bit when I tried to submit them like that, but she relented when I told her that this was just part of the new "consolidated entry system" that we're enabling. I just had my boss sign …

It's all in the family

From the Personnel Changes section of today's Publisher's Lunch:

Personnel NewsAt Llewellyn, Bill Krause has been promoted to publisher and
acquisitions manager. Former president and publisher Carl Llewellyn Weschcke now
serves as chairman while his wife Sandra Weschcke, formerly secretary treasurer,
is now president and treasurer. Gabe Weschcke moves up to executive vice
president and his wife, Michele Weschcke, has been promoted to an officer of the
company as corporate secretary.

And who says that nepotism is rampant in the publishing industry?

Go with the flow

Today we're talking about process flows. And really, I think it's about time that someone thought about this for a while, don't you?

Who doesn't enjoy thinking about process flows? I know that I do. When I'm standing in line at Starbucks waiting for my third Venti Bold Roast Selection of the Day, I think, "Isn't there a faster way to get this coffee into my system? Why can't they just set up a series of feeder tubes and credit card machines right by the entrance? Better yet, why can't they just pipe it into the office? We already have that special spout for 'filtered' water, so why not another for Starbucks Bold Roast, and another for the Light Notes? And who drinks the Light Roast, anyway? What's the point? I mean, you might as well go to McDonalds and order the Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese, large fries, and a Diet Coke and tell the cashier, 'I'm trying to lose weight.' You know, I could really use some coffee about no…

Evil Mutant Attack Squirrel of Death

The Rodent's Burrow: Evil Mutant Attack Squirrel of Death

How can you not be entertained by something with that title? We have a LOT of squirrels around our house, living on a wooded lot and all, but I've never managed to tick one off quite like this. There was that time at Penn when a squirrel decided that I wasn't sharing enough of my muffin and tried to take it out of my hand, and then he fastened onto my thumb until I threw him across the courtyard, but at least he had the sense to run off after he landed.

The best part of this story: "And now he has a patrol car...."

(Thanks to Miss Snark for the link)

Think you're smart? Prove it on Motley Fool CAPS

Think you invest better than anyone else? Prove it on the Motley Fool's new tool, Motley Fool CAPS. If you want to take me on, then you can start at my CAPS page (login required). I'm not in the top 100 yet, primarily because I only rate companies that I have an informed opinion on (as opposed to that Eldrehad guy), but I'm beating the market rather respectably. So bring it on, smarty-pants!

Death by PowerPoint

There are two groups of people who need to review the following links: those who think they need help, and those who don't. For those who don't think they need help (you know, the PowerPoint junkies huddled out by the dumpsters swapping illegal clipart), I'll make sure you understand me by speaking in your own dialect, Bulletese:

You need to read this information if: The thought of putting together a presentation and then standing up in front of a group of people to deliver it makes you physically ill, or at least a little woozyYou hate Microsoft with a towering purple passion, not because they stole the desktop platform from IBM and Apple, not because they're an evil empire, but merely because they foisted PowerPoint upon the worldOn those rare occasions when you are forced to speak in front of a group, you never see them because you spend the entire time facing the screen and reading your slidesYou also need to review this information if: You feel naked if you leave y…

Crack the (use) case

Today, boys and girls, we're going to talk about use case modeling. Now, I don't want you to make the same painful mistakes that I did when learning about this topic a few years ago, so let me just set a few things straight right now:There is nothing funny about Use Case Modeling. Even if you think that "RUP" sounds like somewhere ScoobyDoo might tell Shaggy to look if there were a ghost above his head, please keep your levity to yourself. This is serious business, people.UML does not, apparently, stand for the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. Nor is it an acronym for Unsafe Military Landing, even though that *would* be a cool name for a band.Even though we spend a lot of time talking about "actors," no real actors will be present at the session. Not even Ben Affleck, though he's probably available.Use cases are not a special kind of suitcase for carrying only useful clothes, and no one will actually be modeling any clothing. Therefore, bringing …

Thoughts on Lean Six Sigma

Here are some random thoughts that plague me about this whole Lean Six Sigma thing. I think that these are the burning questions that I think keep all of us up at night, especially if we have eaten a double dark chocolate espresso sundae while reading a Six Sigma textbook right before going to bed.
Why do we need so many sigmas? Wouldn't two or three do the job? Is it just because it makes the name so nicely alliterative? What's a KPI (pronounced "Kippy"), and why is everyone so excited about them? Is it any relation to Skippy, Alex P. Keaton's nerdy friend on the 80s sitcom Family Ties?What is the difference between Lean Six Sigma and regular Six Sigma? Does it involve Splenda? Is it possible to discuss Six Sigma while eating without spraying food on your neighbors? (Go ahead: try it.) If you were to use Lean Six Sigma for BPR to create a TQM SDLC and become ISO 9000-compliant while raising your CMM level, would your head explode?All very important questions, I …

Meeting Addiction

Do you have a Meeting Dependency? To find out, take this little test (which, out of sensitivity to our more heavily afflicted readers, avoids the use of the trigger word, "meeting")...
Do you frequently find yourself in a small room with a bunch of other people during work hours and wondering why you're there, especially since there is no food anywhere in sight?Have you ever sat for an entire hour with a group of semi-strangers who all seemed to care passionately about something you didn't understand and never said a word? Do you ever come out of a mandatory non-social work gathering and realize that, despite an hour of intense talking -- to the point that the temperature of the room has actually been raised by several degrees purely due to the amount of hot air expelled -- nothing was decided? Do you find yourself ending even your social gatherings with, "I'll schedule a follow-up so that we can continue this discussion, and hopefully come to a resolution by…