fun with graphs

I've been playing around on Swivel for a bit this morning, and it's one of those tools that's like hot cocoa on a cold day for plannerly types. It is still in preview/beta mode, but will get better as more and more people upload data and info.

Here's a chart (featured today) on Second Life usage that shows the high usage of the virtual world's average premium resident vs. the relatively low usage of the average regular resident, a category I'd fall in:

Get A Second Life


make a call from google maps

The store locator function on a lot of websites is often hidden or takes a lot of looking in the small type to find, so I use google maps to find businesses. It saves quite a bit of time and eye strain.

Yesterday I logged onto the site yesterday to find the closest REI, and (drumroll please...) google now offers the option to connect you through to that business for free. What a feature, it made my day.

The call feature has to cost them something, but it's worth paying a few pennies per call to build more loyalty to their maps site. With stuff like this piling on to what they already offer, even if I get lost using one of their routes I'll still keep coming back.



The Onion

Apple Hard At Work Making iPhone Obsolete

CUPERTINO, CA—Only a month after the much-heralded announcement of the iPhone, Apple CEO Steve Jobs confirmed that his engineers were...

More geniusness from the onion. And this oldie but goodie below still shines - just swap out "98" with "Vista".

The Onion

Evil Genius Gates Drops Windows 98 Into NYC Water Supply

NEW YORK—Determined to circumvent Justice Department action forestalling the release of his powerful new operating system, Microsoft CEO and evil genius Bill Gates dropped Windows 98, coded into liquid form, into New York City's water supply sometime this past weekend.



I finally found the perfect mountain bike. After researching on the topic for weeks online, going to several bike shops, and talking to friends who are into the sport, I ended up buying a friend's older bike, in part because it was less intimidating than the other options.
It was a hellish process, I went into several bike stores and was intimidated by the lingo and the general vibe of the store - as a beginner I didn't feel like I belonged. Even after having a good grasp of things after reading some stuff online, I just didn't know the right questions to ask and was worried that I'd buy something that wasn't worth what they were charging or a bike that would break down in a year.

Then I saw this story/case on United's in-flight magazine (thanks to a boss, Kelly S.) and it all made sense. The story is about gear/shoe/bike everything-except-the-frame maker Shimano and its partnership with IDEO in an attempt to build a bike that gets more people into cycling in general, a product that reaches out to more people than to the bike gearheads.

Here's an excerpt:
Ideo equipped team members with hidden cameras and had them follow ordinary people into bike shops. The results were revealing. Consumers often were confused by the myriad offerings: road bikes, racing bikes, hybrid bikes, comfort bikes, recumbent bikes, and mountain bikes, just to name some basic categories. Many were intimidated by the staff as well. “It’s scary to see this shaved-leg, extremely fit cycling guru who talks in jargon and technical terms and say, ‘I just want a bike,’” says Ray Keener, the president of Growth Cycle, a producer of training programs for the bicycle industry based in Boulder, Colorado­.

The typical reaction? “They run out of the store screaming,” says Jay Graves, who owns The Bike Gallery, the largest independent dealer in Portland, Oregon.

To give bike aficionados a taste of their own medicine, the Coasting team gave OEM representatives and a select group of dealers an assignment: Go to a cosmetics counter and buy $50 worth of products. The memory of facing down a battery of face creams and hair gels still makes Trek’s Price cringe. “I was genuinely uncomfortable. I didn’t know what to ask for or where to start,” he says. “It was exactly the same feeling I saw in the people in the Ideo videos—‘I have no idea what I’m doing here.’”

It's an inspiring read. Just brilliant.

photo from flickr user Thorne Enterprises


video of the week

Not quite sure what to make of this one...



For anyone writing briefs or striving to write succintly and with passion, the (RED) manifesto is a work of art.

tip of the hat to Heather L.


tag is back

So Kevin tagged me a long time ago and I thought about not writing this post as it seems a bit too late, but I do feel obliged to write it. So, here are 5 things you don't know about me. As for other people to tag, I tag the other writer of this blog, John, to get one up on this topic, and I've looked around and there's really no one left for my other 4 tags...

1. I'm not into reality tv, but did get into Beauty and the Geek. It's one of those things that I can't really explain.
2. I was a part-time waiter/bartender for 6 years. It was great experience for thinking on the fly, relating to lots of different people, and learning food, drinks, etc. But I'm glad that it's over, anyone who's done it will know what I mean. It's a rough way to earn money. I tip like a crazy man now, too. 25-30%.
3. You could call me a pen snob - I've tried a bunch of pens out but still haven't found one that's quite right. I just can't use those little $0.10 bic pens. They stifle my ability to write.
4. I have a soft spot for pop music at times. It's my windows up music.
5. The classic scene from Something About Mary has haunted me to this day. It makes me want to abolish the zipper from pants everywhere.

more on music

There's been quite a bit of discussion recently about the future of music. This month's Fast Company has a fantastic piece on Musictoday - who along with artists like Beck and Barenaked Ladies are changing the way the industry is headed. Musictoday takes charge of the unsexy part of the business that is selling concert tix and also physical goods from a warehouse. The t-shirts, shot glasses, etc. helps artists generate name recognition and build that personal relationship with fans.

As artists start to give away tracks for free on myspace and their own websites, like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah has with their new album, it may free up some wiggle room in fan's pockets to buy that t-shirt or concert ticket. If I'm given a cd from a friend and I like the band, I make an extra effort to go to a show, artists get more of that $ anyways - maybe others will start to feel the same?