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November 22, 2006

tankless water heater

Tags: Home Improvement — 9:09 am Comments (7)

I’ve gotten a bit of a home owner’s vocabulary now that I’ll share in a bit. It’s good to know this stuff but I kinda don’t want to know sub-flooring, joists, dry wall, copper pipes, forced air, radiant heating, blah, blah, blah.

The next two items on tap is replacing our galvanized piping with copper piping. Galvanized pipes corrode and rust so we’re replacing everything with copper pipes which doesn’t do that I guess. We’re also stacking our dryer on top of our washing machine which is exciting because it’s giving us a ton more space. (I’m a tad domesticated.)
Anyway, I’ve been reading up on tankless water heaters and the benefits are:

  • unlimited hot water
  • space savings, since it’s a small box
  • energy savings since it’s on demand hot water versus maintaining a hot water store

The cons seem to be that sometimes you have to wait for the hot water to get going which is lame if all you want to do is wash your hands or hand wash dishes.

The brand that people like I guess is Takagi. It’s interesting to read up on it anyway, apparently the system can be used for radiant floor heating too. Probably not going to get a tankless water heater but it’s cool when I hear other people get it installed, it’s becoming quite popular and already used widely in the UK.

There are other energy efficient things we’re looking at like insulation (easy to do, just need to get done) and solar panels (but not for another 5+ years). We’ve got energy efficient windows, a front loading washing machine, and that’s about it on the being energy efficient stuff.



November 19, 2006

definitive Bay Area restaurants

My top restaurants per category in the Bay Area:
If you think I’m wrong on some of these tell me and help me fill in the blanks if you can.

California – Gary Danko, Lalimes, Chez Panisse (is there a good everyday type place?)
French – French Laundry: tasting menu
Bistro style – Cafe Claude, Jojo’s: steak frites

Northern Chinese – Shan Dong: Shan Dong chicken, hand made noodles, dumplings
Vietnamese – Le Cheval, Slanted Door
Korean – Oghane, My Tofu House

Thai – Lotus Thai
Indian – still need to find
Italian – Trattoria La Siciliana

Taqueria – Cactus Taqueria: burritos, fish tostada; Taqueria Ramiro and Sons: super carnitas burrito
Mexican – still need to find maybe Guaymas, maybe Dona Tomas

Pizza – Zachary’s

Burgers – Christophe’s
Steak place – still need to find

Other

Bakery – Crixa cakes
Coffee place – Blue Bottle



November 10, 2006

where Google is vulnerable?

Tags: Web — 12:38 am Comments (7)

John Battelle asked Steve Berkowitz and Jim Lanzone where Google was vulnerable at the Web 2.0 conference on Wednesday. Either they knew and weren’t sharing or they really didn’t know the answer because neither gave good answers. I’m going to think the former. Let me tell you what I think and I’ll answer this in three parts.

Part 1

The main components of a general Web search engine are: speed, relevancy, and comprehensiveness. Mastering these elements make for a great search engine/great search product. These characteristics were defined a good while ago. Speed is speed. Relevancy has a lot of leeway and has much room for improvement. Comprehensiveness is how good and complete (breadth/size) is your data source as well as what vertical searches you offer e.g. government search, subject specific search, map search, local search, etc.

What makes up the rest of a search engine is marketing and distribution.

Part 2

I’m a big Google fan for various reasons. One of the biggest reasons is Google gets it. What Google delivers in their search results is the Internet. What I mean is when I search for something, say directions, I get results from Google Maps, MapQuest, and Yahoo! Maps because that’s what I was looking for. In contrast, when searching Yahoo!, it’s about Yahoo! services first, then the Internet second; same with AOL Search and Live.com. (It’s called driving recirculation.) I’m not sure if the search engines get it. This is also the “I can’t put a finger on why I like Google, but I like Google a lot.” Well it’s because they’re giving you or like to make you think that what they’re giving you is the Web.*

Google also understands how the game is played. It’s an ops game and Google understand ops. They also understand the fundamental concept of referrals and how the Web is a referral monster, in other words, ad machine.

Finally, there are a lot of “haters” out there now. It’s just human nature. But what I’d prefer to see is that people take note of what Google is doing and really step up to the plate. It’s not just copying their homepage to make it simple and clean, it’s about copying some of the same values.

Part 3

Google is vulnerable in several places:

1) International, they aren’t globally dominant. Other search engines are better than Google and Yahoo! in other areas of the world. In country companies have a distinct advantage just because Google is a US based company. Also note that the ad market is great in the US and in some other countries but isn’t as mature and isn’t the same structure in many countries.

2) Distribution. At the end of they day, Google still has to go through Firefox or Internet Explorer or some other browser or some other client. The food chain is PC, OEM/ISP, Browser, then Search engines and web sites.

3) Completeness. Google can get locked out of various markets because they may not have access to the data or content. Let’s say Yahoo! or MSFT buys NAVTEQ, the content provider for Google Maps and every Maps service around. Guess who’s up a creek.

* This may change as Google starts hosting more and more content.  They may start giving preferential treatment to their own services and content.  They may also give this preferential treatment unknowingly by working with the content folks they acquire e.g. blogger, YouTube and helping them optimize for the Google search algorithms.  If we see “recirculation” coming out of Google, that may be the start of their decline as a preferred engine and opens up the opportunity for someone else.



November 8, 2006

bang, bang, bang!

Tags: Everyday Life — 1:32 am Comments (0)

[I was asked by Robin to respond to a couple questions regarding the election for the public radio show Open Source. I guess they had read a post of mine a while back but I don't remember it. I guess they have a new question this time.]

Bang, bang, bang! It happened about 6am, a couple months ago, in the morning directly across the street the day before we were to go on our Hawaiian vacation. A drive by, three shots and a peel out, no one died, a teenage girl grazed by a bullet, no newspaper stories, and the people who got shot at weren’t even going to report it. The next door neighbor reported it, they just moved in and paid over $500k for a 3 bedroom house in Oakland, 128 homicides and counting. This was across the street.

Bang, bang, bang! It’s late this election night. What is that? Whoa, it’s a cane knocking against a fence as I peer out the window. It’s Ms. Mary, our 65 year old neighbor, that woman knows everything going on in this neighborhood. I put on my slippers and run to the fence, open the gate, and I find Ms. Mary sitting on the ground not able to get up. She slipped as she was putting her garbage away, it’s garbage night tonight. I help Ms. Mary up and tell her good night. That was next door.

Bang, bang, bang! Is that the sound or is it rat-tat-tat of continuous gunfire in Iraq? I’ve established I’m not a very good citizen. I don’t know what’s happening in Iraq at all until one day I decided to look it up on Wikipedia. 2,900 people died on 9/11. 2,800 US soldiers have died in Iraq. We’ve been fighting since March of 2003? 43,000 Iraqi citizens are estimated to have died? Really? How far away is Iraq? It’s not next door and it’s not across the street.

Bang, bang, bang! I wish that sound is me knocking on the door of all those people who won in today’s election — Barbara Lee, Nancy Pelosi, Diane Feinstein, Arnold Schwarzenegger and everyone else. Congratulations on winning your election, now can you do something about all this banging.



November 6, 2006

the concept of “time” on the Web

Tags: Browser Garage — 5:11 am Comments (0)

*draft 2*

The Web is unlike television, watching movies, reading a book, or writing content — with each there’s a definite start, stop, and length. The Web isn’t as clear and it has multiple concepts of time, various content with different time requirements (text, images, videos) and time concepts abound and are unpredictable.

Here’s an attempt to categorize the different time concepts and possible solutions for attempting to make more sense around time. There’s potential to surface these different concepts within a browser to make users aware of the concepts of time for various applications and services.

We’ll look at: Real Time, Day Parting, Temp, Archives, Time Zones.

Real-Time aka Right Now

There are certain applications that are real time:

  • content notifiers: stock tickers, live scoreboard
  • music and video streaming
  • eBay, stock and other bank transactions, purchasing transactions
  • instant messaging

Notes:
The use of meta-refresh was a method to establish “real-time” but it’s also a method to boost page views. Users don’t like their pages being refreshed automatically unless it’s for a very good reason e.g. live scoreboards.
Real-time apps used to be premium applications but some still are. Depending on the app, probably could get away with charging for the service.
One of the metrics around real-time apps is simultaneous usage measured by concurrent users.

Users expect applications to be real time and for transactions to post real time. If an application is not real time, the application provider will or should note the length of time e.g. updates every 15 minutes.

Day Parting

Many web sites are implementing day parting even “week parting” (which isn’t a term). Day parting is splitting up the content for the day for example news in the morning, leisure type programming in the afternoon or evenings. For “week parting” it’s programming for the week for example, Yahoo!’s Tech Tuesdays or their Friday programming getting people ready for the weekend. Sites that use day parting are AOL homepage, Yahoo! homepage, c|Net
Why day parting is used:

  • Give users an anchor to establish a general time e.g. it’s morning or afternoon
  • Generate different ad opportunities by splitting a specific page by time/theme
  • Attempt to train users to come back later or a certain day
  • To match the overall time curve on the web where 9amEST – 1pm EST is peak, somewhat of an attempt to normalize the time curve so that it’s all peak usage
  • To match and attempt to normalize the week curve where Tues – Thurs is peak usage and Fri – Sun is a major drop-off

Notes:
Day parting is based on Eastern (Daylight) Standard Time and not based on individual time zones, in other words not custom tailored to your time zone.

Day parting is usually driven by an editorial/programming team. Sites like digg.com and Google News may get day parted automatically given the content that’s available on the Web.

Unless it’s published or clear e.g. a Tech Tuesday, users will not recognize day parting.

Temp or For this Session

There are many times when

Archives aka Always and Forever

Web archives. Articles, permanent links. When will a web page/site disappear completely. How do you purge the Web of obsolete content e.g. my Bed and Breakfast went out of business purge me from the Web, I no longer exist

Timezone Effects

The Netscape.com story with announcing Survivor winners to a late timezone.

Expectations

Alerts and when you expect people to respond to email. When will people update their web sites (immediately? the next morning? the next week?) How do you program people to keep coming. Newsletters.
The Concept of a “Browser Session”
Authentication, browser sessions.



November 4, 2006

Killer Applications

Tags: Web — 2:56 pm Comments (2)

List of Killer Applications

This list is based on killer categories and then lists the application that has market share and/or is a superior product in the category. Web sites are not listed here even though many sites have app-like services e.g. ESPN with live sports scoreboard or Amazon wishlists or portfolio apps. Everything listed here is just my opinion and best guess.

Killer apps are mainstream or apps that are stellar and primed to go mainstream.

Clients -

Web Browser: Internet Explorer 6 – 7; Firefox 2
Email: Outlook, Apple Mail, Thunderbird 2
Calendar: Outlook, iCal
Instant Messenger: Yahoo!Messenger, iChat
Music/Video: Windows Media Player, iTunes
Photo: iPhoto, Picasa

Word Processor: MS Word, Pages
Spreadsheet: MS Excel
Presentation: MS Powerpoint, Keynote

Anything missing?

Web Applications (mainly US) -

Search Engines: Google
Specialty Searches: Google Maps/Local, Google Finance
Webmail: Yahoo!Mail, Gmail
Calendar: Google Calendar
Collaboration (may become a killer app): BaseCamp

Photos: Kodak Gallery, Flickr
Music: iTunes store
Video: tbd

Networking: Linked-in, MySpace, Facebook
Blog software (may become a killer app): WordPress, Typepad/Movable Type

Anything missing?



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