My Resolutions for 2009

1) Complete projects that I start
I think I run with too many ideas, don't focus them, and don't complete them.  It's beginning to seem futile, and I need to focus on deciding what I want to accomplish and doing it.

1a) Make a significant change at work
There's a lot of opportunity at my job to make something happen, beyond the every day work.  I need to stop talking about it, and do it.  

2) Identify the things that matter to me and ignore the filler
It seems like there's a lot of pressure in this city or in life in general to do a lot, to always be using your time, to always be busy.  I think I had a pretty good 2008, but I want to avoid that pressure and only do the things I really care about, rather than just doing things to check them off a list or feel like I used my time.

2a) Spend more time in non-Starbucks coffee shops reading and writing
One thing I always enjoy when I make the time to do it is sit in coffee shops watching, reading, and writing.  It's something I rarely pick over another option, but I usually enjoy it more.  And it shouldn't be Starbucks, there isn't the same kind of energy or interestingness there.

3) Improve my socially concious efforts
This year spurred a lot of interest in alternative oil, green awareness, and more.  But I don't want to be one of the many who forgot about the need for alternative energy once the oil prices dropped again.  This year a group of friends tried to eliminate the frivilous use of paper cups when drinking coffee; I also contributed to and tried to spread the word about Donors Choose.  Hopefully I make more progress moving forward.


10 Things I Want From Google in 2009

In no particular order, here are 10 things I want from Google this year (these mostly come down to consolidation of offerings, standardization of features, and leveraging of data):

1) A seamless interface between Gmail, Google Reader, Google Calendar, Google Docs, and iGoogle that lets me transition from one page to the other without having to open new windows and saves work.  Also, it would be nice if there was more interoperability between Google applications.

2) Better management and control of the Google Chat and AIM chat within Gmail; also the ability to chat with AIM contacts on iGoogle.  Also the ability to chat with users in Google Docs, which for some reason is only available in the spreadsheet application, not the word document application.

3) The long awaited consolidation of files hosted by various Google products into a web hard drive.  It's a bit ridiculous that Google Panoramio has 2GB of free photo hosting but Google Picasa only has 1.  If I wanted, I could host 7gb of photos in Gmail, also.  In any case, I can't access files across properties and I can't utilize the web space they're offering how I want to (by redistributing it as I see fit for my various Google-hosted needs).

4) The formalization of the Google Social Network.  So much social content contribution is happening on Google based products but it still doesn't pull together and live in one place.  The Google profile is slowly being built out, but it isn't happening fast enough.  The new iGoogle was supposed to have an information feed that could help pring this to life, but as far as I know that didn't happen.  Everything I do on Google Maps goes into an abyss, why?

5) A more advanced Gmail that integrates some of the features 3rd parties are making a reality.  Xoopit turns Gmail into a social network of sorts and enables easier organization of pictures and other files that are sent to and from friends.  I also really want Xobni's features to make their way to Gmail - the way it connects data with email and Linkedin is great (Linkedin is the most trusted source of personal data), and the analysis of email data is great.

6) More advanced display and use of data in Google Reader.  My biggest interest is seeing which feed items I emailed people, but there is definitely more all together that can be done with these engagement metrics.  Also, there needs to be better recommendation around content.  It's wierd that there's no built in Digg-style feed that you can switch over to view periodically, maybe in a page-layout like Techmeme (think the front page of Google Blogsearch).

7) Some major improvements in Google Chrome.  Mainly, better crash protection - half the time, if my computer crashes or the browser crashes I lose my tabs, whereas this is 100% protected against in Firefox.  Also, the lack of RSS detection in Chrome is ridiculous, the lack of integration with Google products (Google Bookmarks for example) is odd, and the fact that some of your own services don't even work (think Adwords and Doubleclick) on Chrome is embarassing.  It is kind of a joke that Google took this out of beta so fast compared to their other products.

8) Google Desktop has made some huge headway this year but it needs a few more things.  First, there's no Google Reader gadget for Google Desktop.  Also the Google Calendar gadget is really unimpressive considering the polish of the other Google-developed gadgets.  And how come the Photo gadget can't resize properly for pictures that are horizontal or vertical?

9) The ability to collapse the sidebar on iGoogle, similar to how it's done on Google Reader.  Isn't this obvious?

10) Android on Verizon and ATT.  If a good Android phone comes to Verizon, it might just keep me on their horrendous service past May of this year.  Since I don't actually expect Verizon to improve by May '09, I am hoping to see Android on ATT so I can officially move over to ATT and have choice between the iPhone and Android (by the way Google you get a pardon for this, I know it's mostly out of your hands)


My 2008: A Look Back at the Events and Activities

I am planning doing a series of posts recapping various perspectives of my 2008 and I thought a fun way to start would be to look back at the memorable events that shaped it – the activities and trips, etc. It’ll be nostalgic as I put it together, and possibly dig up some funny stories or pictures. This isn’t everything, but the things that really stuck out for me when they happened. So Here I go:

1/7 – I attended the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. I stayed in a beyond seedy motel behind a liquor store on the Vegas strip, I saw Jerry Yang give a Keynote Speech as CEO of Yahoo, and I viewed several miles worth of booths containing the world’s largest TV’s and various other new electronics, along with 150 thousand other people.

1/17 – Angela and I went to see the Editors & Hot Hot Heat at Terminal 5. The concert was great until the last song during the main set, when someone in the balcony threw up on us. We ran out into the rain along with 20 or so other unfortunate people; it was one of the grossest moments I can remember, and I am partially traumatized about concerts now.

1/21 – I got to see the Celtics, behind the big 3 Garnett Pierce and Allen, trounce the Knicks during a season that the Celtics then went on to become the NBA Champions. I sat in the 17th row.

1/26 – I ran the Idiotarod for the 3rd time, this time with Ari, Angela, Jackie, Mike, and Andrew. We wore ridiculous neon outfits, ran more 4 miles from Manhattan, over the bridge, and through Brooklyn, and got covered in all sorts of disgusting stuff.

2/21 – I went with Vito to see Linkin Park at MSG; The highlight when Jay-Z mad a surprise appearance on stage to sing Encore with them.

2/25 – “Black Magic”, a film about race issues through the history of Basketball that features my Uncle Milton as a commentator (he wrote a book on the subject), debuts at Apollo Theater. I attend with my mom and uncle; together we are easily 2 feat shorter than everyone else in the theater.

2/28 – I attend the Deep Blue Something reunion tour with Ari to witness the reprisal of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” in a very empty Brooklyn bar where people ignored the band until their one hit was played. I felt really bad for them, and they looked miserable. The song was awesome.

3/1 – Angela and I head to Riviera Maya Mexico for a quick vacation on my birthday. We visit Chizen Itza, one of the 7 wonders of the world, and jump 20 feet into an underground water pool called a cenote. It’s the farthest we’ve both ever jumped and we got no good pictures!

3/18 – Angela and I stand outside in the middle of a very cold night to see the Elephants from the Circus walk through the mid-town tunnel from Queens into Manhattan. It’s quick and underwhelming after the wait.

3/22 – We attend the Union Square Pillow Fight for the 2nd year in a row. It’s much bigger this year, equally hilarious, and I do get punched in the face.

4/4 – Angela, Ari, and I learn about the hidden world of Underground Art Battles. It’s a pretty cool experience but not an every day thing, as you are mostly waiting patiently and watching.

4/23 – My dad and I go to the Phillies/Cubs game and Sixers/Cavs game on back-to-back days, a Philly sports road-trip of sorts. It’s the beginning of an amazing Baseball season where the Phillies win the World Series.

4/27 – We attend a screening of a critically acclaimed animated film at the Tribeca Film Festival, that may yet hit the theaters in ‘09 or ‘10 (it was really good but I can’t remember the name).

5/1 – Angela and I attend the Google Art Show, a projection show to music being presented on the walls of buildings in the Meatpacking District. It’s raining on us as we stand outside, which I think kind of added to the effect.

5/16 – Angela and I visit the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens; I’d never been there, and I still haven’t been to the Bronx Zoo – that has to be a goal of mine in 2009.

6/7 – The Big Apple Bar-Be-Que comes to town on a ridiculously hot summer day. BBQ restaurants from all over the country come and set up in Madison Square park, and you can buy samples. The lines are long, it’s worth paying for a speed pass.

6/21 – My friends and I go on a road trip to see a Nationals game in Washington D.C., a Phillies game in Philadelphia, and a Pearl Jam Concert in Camden. All of them are awesome, but the memorable moment for me is ending up at an IHOP in the middle of the night in D.C.

6/28 – Angela and I head to California to visit San Francisco, Wine Country, the Redwoods, the beach, and the famous 17 mile drive. It’s an awesome vacation, one where each day brought something totally new and fun. Everything about the trip worked out perfectly accept 1 one horrendous hotel; also its the first time I ever rented a car.

7/10- Angela, Tanayia and I check out Shakespeare in the Parking Lot, a very interesting spin on Shakespeare that is performed literally in a functioning parking lot around the cars coming in and out. It’s one of those things you are surprised and yet expect from New York City.

7/13 - I take Angela home to Cherry Hill to go blueberry picking at the farms. It's her first time; we pick 9 pounds of blueberries and later make some amazing pie.

7/14 – We head to Coney Island for a Brooklyn Cyclones game and bumper cars, my first and only visit before Coney Island gets torn down.

7/18 – Ari, Mike, and I do the Chipotle Underwear Run in Central Park; I forget I’m not wearing any pants and get out of the car to walk home infront of Macy’s.

7/25 – We head to Wildwood NJ for a weekend Beach Ultimate Frisbee tournament. We get destroyed, our worst showing in 3 entries, but we have a great time anyway, and Bruce manages not to repeat his mistake of throwing his keys away and making us get towed 100 miles. Angela and Eric have a fierce Chubby Bunny contest.

7/29 – Angela and I see Spring Awakenings on Broadway; if you haven’t seen it, you should before it leaves.

8/1 – My Brother, Dad, Friends, and I backpack the Wallowa Mountains in Oregon. It’s 45 miles, 10,000 feet vertical, 50 degree temperature swings, and 6 days of intense camping. It’s an amazing challenging week.

8/9 – The Wedding Life Stage begins; 3 weeks running of Bachelor Parties and Weddings for my old college roommates Dave and Jeff. It starts out with paint ball in Massachusetts – my first time, would definitely play again. I give a speech at Dave’s wedding.

8/23 – My whole family takes a cruise up the North East Coast to Canada for my Grandfather’s 80th Birthday. It’s the first time we’ve ever all traveled together and it’s the first cruise we’ve ever taken. It provides countless family photo ops.

9/13 – Our Zog Football season starts; my first Zog sport, a right of passage in NYC. Jackie puts together an awesome team. I don’t score any points until the last game, months later.

9/21 – I run the 5th Avenue Mile Race in just under 7 minutes, my first formal race (and 1 mile is just about my limit).

10/4 – Day of Cultural events in NYC. Angela and I do the 1.7 mile Norway run in Central Park; then we walk through the Gracie Square Art Show; then we meet Bruce at the Korean Festival for lunch. Later, I head to a disturbing film screening about nightmares at the New Yorker festival.

10/11 – Angela and I vacation to Lisbon Portugal; it becomes one of my favorite places. Portugal is Europe without the hastle. We see castles, eat delicious pastries, and drink a lot of coffee.

10/15 – We see Stephen Colbert do a reading of a short story at the Cymfony Space ‘Tales of the Office’ short stories reading event. It turns out he loves to do this; I found books on tape that he reads.

10/20 – I see Art Spiegelman, the author of MAUS, speak about the graphic novel genre; I then get to meet him, and have a copy of his book personalized. It’s incredibly emotional and I am thankful for the opportunity.

11/28 – Angela and I see Avenue Q on Broadway with my Parents; if you’ve seen it, you understand why that might not have been the best choice. Still, it was a hilarious play.

12/7 – Angela and I check out the Gizmodo Tech exhibit, get to see some early models of computers, cameras, phones, and apple prototypes that never made it into production.

12/11 – Vito and I hit up Rockwood Music Hall to see some relatively unknown groups play. We’re a few feet from the stage, it’s an amazing intimate music experience, the acoustic performance is great, and I fall in love again with live music.


Rockwood Music Hall Revitalizes My Love For Music

Dandelion Wine at Rockwood Music Hall

Sometimes it takes an unexpected event to reawaken your love for something. Lately I’d been sick of concerts. I was tired of the crowd, the getting pushed around, the being unable to see, the people more interested than drinking than the music. I hadn’t seen many shows in months, and going when I did make it out to see Vampire Weekend a few weeks ago, I skipped the opening acts so that I could minimize my time in Terminal 5 to about 1 hour (they play a short act).

But last night reinvented my love for live music. I went with a friend over to Rockwood Music Hall, a little place as small as an apartment that is really all about the communal music experience. Maybe 40 people, all there because of the music, you don’t have to pay to get in and they just pass a hat around afterwards asking you to contribute as you see fit after each set. 5 feet away from the stage, mostly acoustic, very intimate and personal. The way music is supposed to be.

I ended up seeing two bands that I’d never heard of but really loved – the first was Dan Torres; I recorded this jam session from him last night, which captures how connected you could feel to the musician right in front of you. Afterward, I purchased a CD/DVD he was selling of a previous performance at Rockwood Music Hall, and you can try out the same song, “You Don’t Even Want to Know My Name” with a little less ‘jam’ here.

The second band I saw was Dandelion Wine, another great performance. I didn’t grab the CD, but you can check out some live video over at my YouTube channel. It’s worth watching all 3 videos – I’ve replayed them several times this morning already.

Most people probably never make it over to Rockwood Music Hall; most of us will probably never recognize a name on their set list. If your sick of big concert venues, though, and you have forgotten how intimate and mesmerizing a live music performance can be, you should make your way over. And you might even discover a few musicians you never knew existed that you’ll love.

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Did You Know 2008

This is a really cool video that throws very interesting statistics at you in a way that can help change your perspective and re-think the way you look at things. If you spend the 5 minutes watching it, you'll have at least 1 significant wake-up.


A song, a photo, a moment

Tonight I've been posting over at my Tumblr. I haven't really ever gotten to the point of defining how I'll use Tumblr, but for now it seems more suited for short expressions. It's easy to post all types of content, and it's easy to re-post other people's content with comments.

Tonight I am running various thoughts through my head via Tumblr - a song, a photo, a moment.
  • Many nights I find I’m the only one still awake; I’m borrowing this (sort of related) picture to reflect on that.
  • (reblogging) iraqi man throws shoes at Bush at press conference. i suspect there’s quite a few US citizens who would like to do the same thing!
You can comment seperately on all of the content over at Tumblr; on the content, or on where Tumblr should fit in the scheme of things.


40 Inspirational Speeches in 2 Minutes

This is a pretty cool video someone mixed together of 40 inspirational speeches from iconic movies. The best part is picking out the little scenes from the cult favorite movies I loved - Newsies, Cool Runnings, Mighty Ducks... what were everyone's favorites?


A Visit to the Gizmodo Gallery

Today I went out to The Annex on Orchard Street to check out the Gizmodo Tech Gallery. Gizmodo took over a show room for a weekend and filled it with gadgets old and new - everything from the world's first camera phone prototype (it's different than you think) to a 102 inch LCD TV with a 3D television demo. Very cool stuff, and very cool of them to take their collection on the road free for their audience. I didn't take pictures of everything, but you can see a some of the cool 'original tech' they had demo'd over at my Flickr gallery (I should've taken some pictures of the original Apple prototypes!).

[my Gizmodo Tech Gallery set on Flickr]


Missing Calvin and Hobbes

I stumbled upon an article that reminded me of Calvin and Hobbes, and how Calvin and Hobbes could be summarized in one single word - Friendship.  How reading the books, we not only witnessed Calvin and Hobbes friendship, but became best friends with them.  I miss Calvin and Hobbes - there has never been a comic close to it, and I don't have as many fond memories reading anything else as I do reading them over and over.  Leave me thoughts on the ones you remember, and if you can, link me to prints.  
(I posted links to rare Bill Waterson comics a while back)


Making a Market vs. Taking From It

Another good post from Seth Goden, this time discussing the difference between Making a Market vs. Taking From It. His examples are clever in that they illustrate his point but may not be the obvious way you would think about the concept.

Making the market: "By combining protein and chocolate, we've developed a new food that's both dessert and dinner" - The first thing I think of here is the Snickers Marathon bar; I'm not sure I totally believe it's invented a new market, but then again maybe I just didn't buy into it.

Taking from it - "This has a touch screen, too, but you can get it from Verizon" - Since the iPhone came out, there have been a number of these that all feel like runner ups for people that can't get out of their contract or don't want to leave Verizon for the better service. Pretty much none of them, though, have pushed the market forward (though the BlackBerry Storm might). On the other hand, the T-Mobile G1 is the cell phone version of making the market - by taking some of the best of the iPhone and the Blackberry and creating a hybrid market that appeals in a different way.

The decision to make a new market or take from it will be based on many things - how strong your product is, how appealing it is, whether it is only ready to piggyback on existing success - there are probably more brands & products that piggyback (and to success) but it's the inventors that we'll remember.

A Deep Dive Into the Latest Nike Lebron James Spot

Ian Schafer wrote a great analysis of the new Lebron James Nike Commercial; all things to think about when you are building out advertising and wondering if it will really connect with your target (the elements may change but the mental process needs to stay the same)

This spot is phenomenal because it does the following:
1) It shows that Nike gets LeBron.
2) It shows that Nike gets basketball.
3) It shows that Nike gets the intersection of basketball, hip hop, and street culture.
4) It shows that Nike gets music.
5) And if you're savvy enough to understand all the finer points of the spot, Nike understands you.

Sheer brilliance. Yes. TV spots can still be great at telling stories -- but the web is a great place for continuing their discussion.

Side note - didn't Lebron steal the chalk toss from Kevin Garnett?


Learning From Seth Godin’s Gravity vs. Evolution Marketing Theory

This week my team has been in an interesting discussion about the different lessons we’ve taken frfrom Seth Godin’s recent piece Gravity is just a theory. The basic premise, naming something that people already believe in is very smart marketing, lives both in reframing existing ideas (such as Gravity) and answering existing wants (the iPhone as an answer to everything we already knew we wanted in a phone).  On the reverse side, evolution faced an uphill battle because it required people to abandon their current school of thought, as well as because the timeframe of the message was longer than the attenion span (in the case of evolution, the lifetime) of the audience.

I originally introduced the article to my team and presented the idea that relaunching the ONDCP’s Anti-Drug  message as the Above The Influence message in November 2005 was a powerful marketing tactic that repositioned the message to fit Godin’s “gravity” outline and away from his “evolution” outline.  In essence, the Above The Influence framework took Anti-Drug and reframed it in a way that most people already think is a good idea - to be yourself, be the best that you can be, by being above the influences in the world.

Someone else took an alternate lesson from the article.  He pointed out Godin’s principle that the timeframe of the message relevancy in fitting with the audience’s attention needs to be paid close attention to.  This leads us to consider whether the campaign needs more pro-active in showing how being above the influence can benefit people in real ways, directly within the window of time that the decision is being made - either tangibly or emotionally.

Still another person reading the article took away a completely different learning.  Focusing on the line Persuading someone to start a blog is evolution marketing. Lots of people have been brainwashed that they have nothing to say, or can’t say it, or aren’t allowed to say it. And you rarely see someone become an overnight blogging success, we discussed how mindsets have to change to really believe that contributing content to facebook, twitter, yelp, etc, really have value and matter to our social graph.  This lead me to read up on Chris Brogan’s opinions of The Annotated World, essentially pushing us all to see the value in incremental contributions (another discussion for another time).  The discussion doesn’t relate to my job as much as it relates to the evolution of communication and social interaction in general, but it is significant none-the-less.

All in all, I highlight this because Godin’s article on Gravity vs. Evolution Marketing really stood out to a variety of people in very different ways, and generated internal marketing discussion in a way that rarely happens on a higher level above our day to day work.  I will look to highlight more of his thinking and the critical analysis it instigated in further posts.  I invite comments.

[cross posted on my Advertising blog KBS Advertising]


Gmail Finally Comes to Google Desktop Gadgets

Google finally built out a Google Desktop Gmail gadget to bring Gmail fully to your desktop... now all I'm waiting for is a Google Reader gadget, which I can't believe still doesn't exist.  It was part of my plea to them way back in June 2007...

What gadgets do you use on Google Desktop?


Why The Music Industry is in Good Shape

Ian Rogers, the former head of Yahoo! Music who left to form a startup called Topspin that helps artists promote themselves without a major label, gave a great speech on the evolution and the future of the music industry.  I’ve highlighted two slides here that I thought were particularly poignant. 

GrammyMusicTechOct2008.011The first reveals some very compelling and optimistic numbers about the rise in consumption and purchase of music, in general.  It’s interesting to note the key stats – CD’s of course aren’t one of them, but music playing devices are up (iPods most specifically) year over year, as are individual music purchase moments are up, concert revenue is up.  Streaming music is also way up (which may be licensed) and music file sharing is up.  The interesting thing about the last point is, it parallels more music purchasing – file sharing and free (or advertising subsidized) streaming are music promotion vehicles, and more and more people are spreading the word about more and more music every day.

GrammyMusicTechOct2008.022The second slide I want to point out is discussing the “shift in power” from the label to the artist, which also I think means some portion of power shifting from the label to the consumer.  The future of the music industry leaves little room for price gauging by the music industry, because consumers won’t allow it.  On the other hand, it gives a more direct relationship with the consumer and the artist that enables us to reward artists that we really truly enjoy their music.  Hopefully more artists step away from the major label contracts realizing they don’t need them, so we can feel like the money we spend on music really goes to the artist.  I also hope within the music industry and other industries there develops a system for consumers to give money directly to just about anyone we want to support in their creative endeavors.  If I haven’t bought an album from someone because I can hear it for free elsewhere, but I still want to give them money to support their creation of future music, I want to be able to do it.  In the mean time, I don’t buy songs very often, but I do spend a lot of money on Concerts, and I do try to spread the word about music, while buying a few tracks along the way.

By the way, if you enjoyed this presentation and want to see more interesting presentations and talks, I’m saving links to interesting content on del.icio.us here

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A Passionate Discourse by Keith Olberman (MSNBC) Pleaing for Answers From People Who Supported Proposition 8

This is a really fantastic statement by Keith Olberman, an MSNBC reporter, pleading for Californians who supported Proposition 8 to rethink why they are so intent on criticizing other people's definitions of love. It's a phenomenal piece that I hope everyone takes the time to listen to and think about, and hopefully it contributes to future open-mindedness and reform.


An Update from DonorsChoose (this is very cool of them)

Dear Kevin, 

"Strike Up the Band!" (athttp://www.donorschoose.org/donors/proposal.html?id=209035) is now becoming a reality for the students of Mr. Hartshorn, with the help of a Double Your Impact grant from The Wachovia Foundation. Mr. Hartshorn wrote you this note: 

Dear Kevin, 

Thank you very much for your generosity. Your contribution will mean a great deal to these children. Being part of our music program provides the kids with an opportunity to develop self-esteem, a sense of community, creative problem-solving skills and so much more. We appreciate what you have done for us. Your gift will provide years of music!


The DonorsChoose.org Team


Obama's potential to be the people's president through social media

When Barack Obama was running for President, he used almost all social media platforms to connect with his supporters and raise awareness for his messages. Now that he's president, a question is - how much will he actually continue to reach out to the people on such a grass roots level?
Early signs are that he will:

* Just a day after his election, Obama's group posted a flickr album that provided an intimate look into the Obama family during election night

* He also launched
Change.gov, a website that will keep America informed on how the presidential transition period is going

* Finally, he launched a
YouTube channel where he'll post videos of his weekly presidential address, starting now

Now though he's leveraging social media, he's still holding back - you can comment on the flickr photos, but not the YouTube videos. Also Obama's Twitter account has gone cold, and I haven't received a text message since election night either (though is last message did mention that we'd hear from him soon, implying that his direct texts aren't over). And really, while publishing communication through social tools is a start, it's only the beginning - he (or his administration) needs to interact with the people as well. TechCrunch and GigaOM have written recommendations and requests to the new administration on ways to embrace new media to create more transparency and two-way communication with the nation at large, and I'm hoping to see some of the recommendations be put into play. It may be unlikely to see the President launch a social community on GetSatisfaction enabling feedback, ratings, and recommendations by anyone who wants to voice them, but it would be an amazing break through. In the mean time, I'm enjoying the personal touch of flickr and youtube, and feeling more intimiately connected than ever to a President.

Eating Brunch at Prune (Review)

Sitting down at Prune for brunchEating at Prune for brunch

I don't remember how I ended up hearing about Prune - I had written on a piece of paper on my desk at some point to try it, and finally this morning we decided to head down to 1st and 1st and give it a shot.  There was a was, but the uniqueness of the menu gave me enough incentive to stick it out for 45 minutes - and I'm glad I did.  For a brunch place to be worth the wait and the higher cost, the dishes have to be something different than you would get at the place on your corner, and Prune rises to the occasion.  We tried the Fresh Ricotta (w/ figs, raspberries, and merveilles - probably makes more sense as a group appetizer or side dish), the Dutch Style Pancake (cooked in an oven to crisp the outside and leave the inside like cake), and the Spaghetti a la Carbonara (mixed w/ egg, bacon, and pepper.. not very eggy and much more addictive than I expected).  All 3 dishes were delicious, and were different than any dish I had eaten before.  I will definitely be headed to Prune again (though earlier in the morning to try to duck the wait).


Flashback: The Dominican Republic with Angela and my Friends

3.2007.dominican republic. 081
Originally uploaded by kskobac.

Lately pictures have been popping up in my picture frame that I've forgotten about, and absolutely love - I guess it's the kind of thing that good pictures memories become better over time. I'm going to start posting the pictures that make me pause, and writing a bit about them on flickr under the picture, in another attempt to tap into my Daily Fotolog, which never really took off. You can see my reborn daily Fotolog here:


The picture here was taken on my trip to the Dominican Republic, with Angela, Bruce, Mark, and Ari. It was the first trip that Angela and I took together. I was nervous about it, but it was an incredible trip, everyone had a great time, and she held her own on a very male-driven trip with non-stop sports and little beach relaxation. Here Bruce and Angela are in the back of a bus taking us to a catamaran trip early in the morning.


The Second Law of Social Media

I want to take a minute to reflect on Mark Zuckerberg's now infamous second law of social media

“I would expect that next year, people will share twice as much information as they share this year, and next year, they will be sharing twice as much as they did the year before”

I think for the most part this type of growth is really happening. Those of us using digg and delicious for years are now stepping it up to twitter and friendfeed. Those of us who never used any social tools are sharing links and posting status updates to facebook. Wherever you are on the growth curve, though, most of us are doubling the amount of content and information that we're sharing year over year - whether it feels like it or not. Sharing content is really the way we all socialize on the web, it's the backbone of the most basic social networking, it's what makes it addictive rather than repetitive. And it's only going to become more mainstream, more commonplace, more build into our everyday actions naturally- we might as well accept it and get used to it.

(To see an example of how much content i share on the web, look at the red mybloglog widget on the right of this site, or check out out social footprint here)


Photo Blogging Life Through Flickr

Lately I’ve been taking more pictures with my phone than with my camera.  It sort of goes against what I preach, considering the photo quality, but the convenience of always having my phone with me and the ease of posting it to the web instantly has made it more and more my camera of choice.  I can snap a picture with my phone and have it live on Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, Friendfeed, Tumblr, and my own blog within seconds – and that has lead me to be more and more addicted to photo blogging during my day.

As an example, last weekend I quickly posted a handful of pictures, with simple statements of what I was doing and what I wanted to say, as I spent a full day walking around the city:

 Brunch at The Place in Greenwich This book is awesome Wakamaru robot in Uniqlo The leading mens group in the New York City Marathon on mile 17

Aside from the blogging aspect, it’s also a really enjoyable way to keep a journal of sorts of my life, with little effort.  Now I can look back and remember the smaller life moments that may not have gotten captured if I didn’t have my camera phone.  I’ll still use my camera when the picture quality really matters, but now getting a strong camera on my next phone is definitely a priority.

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The Green Coffee Challenge

This month a bunch of us at work are participating in a "Green Coffee" challenge; it started with Katie, and now it's official. For the month of November, we're not allowed to drink coffee from a paper cup. Every time you break the commitment, you have to put a dollar in the jar (see left), and at the end of the month we'll donate all of the money to the Million Trees NYC program, which aims to plant one million trees in the city.  We also have a Facebook group, which is by invitiation only.  If you want to join the challenge, and you're willing to donate a dollar to a good cause every time you grab a paper cup, then leave a message below.

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election night with angela & kevin

Photo Booth reels are quickly becoming my favorite photos - the 6-picture series just captures so much different emotion and defines the scene

see my set of photo booth pictures here

election night with angela & kevin
Originally uploaded by 


Documenting the Vote: November 4th, 2008

Today is the day we've all been reading about, talking about, and thinking about for nearly two years now - hopefully that means everyone at this point recognizes the importance of this election, and commits to voting, regardless of how it might interrupt your day.  Ari and I were in a wrap-around-the-block line by 7:25 AM, and out by 8:15 AM - and of course I made sure to document the whole thing.
Check out my video of the crazy line wrapping around the block, which is now submitted to the YouTube Video Your Vote channel. 
You can also see on a Google Map how close the line ended up taking me back to my apartment.
I also grabbed a few pictures at the voting booth  for Flickr and Twitter.  I'm sure it will be interesting following all of these places as the day moves along, and come 7PM tonight I'll be over at the Washington Post party following the election as it nears the end.


The Phillies WIN !!

From k. b. skobac

This was an amazing team to watch through the end of the season and the playoffs.  Every player came through in one way or another, every player contributed to the team in a big way.  Jamie Moyer’s epic effort on the eve of his 46th birthday, Cole Hamels going undefeated entering the playoffs after only his 2nd full season, the defensive plays, the big hits by just about everyone – it was amazing.

(for more pictures, see the ESPN Gallery)


Gmail Experimental Features Make Gmail More Interesting

If you haven't noticed yet, Gmail opened up a "labs" page a while back that allows you to turn on experimental features within your gmail interface.  It had gotten little attention until the new beer goggles protection feature that was added two weeks ago.  Well I hadn't really felt the need to turn on any features until this morning, when Google added the ability to integrate Google Calendar and Google Docs directly into Gmail, as well as any additional Google Gadgets (though others are done through a hack and are not yet entirely meant for integration) you like.  At that point I turned on 6 features - Google Calendar, Google Docs, Chat to the right, Labels to the right, drag and drop modules, and pictures in chat.  Now all of the sudden Gmail looks like a much more powerful dashboard, and the only thing I really feel missing right now is a to-do list (which I could really take care of by pumping a remember-the-milk module into the left bar via the gadget hack).  I've grabbed a screenshot of my Gmail as it stands right now - if you want to turn on these features, sign into gmail and go to the settings link, then over to the labs tab.


Donors Choose - Transparent Local Fundraising for Education

DonorsChoose.org is an organization that helps raise funds for education. But instead of donating money to the organization and wondering where the money is going, DonorsChoose creates challenges where individual schools and classes post what they need money for, and groups try to raise money to complete each fundraising challenge individually. Not only do you know what the money is going for, but you know what class and what teacher has requested the money - at that level, you can probably go right to the school and confirm the fundraising initiative!

Right now the major tech blogs are having a competition to see which tech blog community can raise the most money for the needs of public schools - I donated money to help fund laptops for a middle school journalism program, and musical instruments for another class - both New York City schools. Afterwards I received a thank you note from the teachers:
Dear Kevin,
I cannot thank you enough for your generosity in donating money towards the laptop computer. The students will be using this laptop with such gratitude and appreciation. We have been sharing laptops with other clubs, saving documents on flashdrives which is very time consuming. This laptop is going to be such an asset and will make our school newspaper even better. The students were so excited when I told them and could hardly wait for it to come. It is great to know there are generous people out there and people who are willing to give money to the education of the great students here at our school. Once again, we are so appreciative of your generous gift. Thanks
If you want to help out, the tech blog fundraising effort is going on for another week. I'm embedding a widget here for you to donate to Fred Wilson's challenges (where I donated as well):


Tonight I had the Honor of Meeting Art Spiegelman

Tonight I had the opportunity to meet Art Spiegelman, the author of Maus, as he took time to speak at a nearby Barnes & Noble about his new book Breakdowns (an auto-biographical graphic novel that touches on how he came to write graphic novels and how he came to write Maus). 

Maus, for those not familiar, is one of the most well read books about the Holocaust, known for it’s distinct graphic novel style and it’s portrayal of the the world as animals.  It’s also a story written by Art Spiegelman looking at his father, who was the survivor (rather than say Night, which Eli Weisel wrote about himself the survivor).  The perspective of the son and the post-survivor generation is different, and intense in it’s own way. 

I’ve read Maus (it’s actually a two part series, Maus I & II) several times, and always it has been incredibly intense and emotional; my Grandfather is a Holocaust survivor, and many many of my relatives died in the war, so thought it is not my family’s story, it is in a way their very story.  Everything about the victims and the survivors is tied to every other, and the emotions of Spiegelman himself as a 2nd generation is just one more layer that survivor families can relate to.

I had not expected for tonight to impact me as it did; I knew that Maus wasn’t particularly the subject at hand, and so I expected more to hear about the graphic novel industry.  He was also not who I had imagined from reading the books – he’s jovial, boisterous, comes off almost as a jolly professor (his talk is filled with literary reference) rather than the burdened tired man I envisioned.  If I hadn't known what he wrote about, I probably wouldn't have expected it from him.  Still, the few images he presented of Maus and his time writing it reminded me that regardless of how he carries himself out in the open, Maus the story and more importantly Maus the life of his father was the defining influence on his life.   His pictures were small peaks into what's deep inside him and what lies embedded in the history of all of our families.

Standing in front of him, I was humbled and thankful – the book he wrote may have been cathartic for him, but it is also incredibly important to my family as survivors, as it is I’m sure for all of us that have ties to the Holocaust.  As he signed my book, I thanked him for the difficult work he did that is so significant to all of us, and told him that as a family of survivors we are thankful for it.  He asked if my grandfather was still alive, where my last name comes from (it’s modified from polish origin), and finished the inscription from above.  It was a short meeting that followed a talk meant more to be humorous and informative, but I walked away from it shaking and emotionally exhausted, in ways that I can only begin to describe here. 

If you haven’t read Maus, make sure you do – it will not take long.


Forget it and Enjoy Life

This is a great quote that is worth thinking about:
I do not understand the legacy thing. Nearly everyone will be forgotten. Give up on leaving your mark. Throw the Blackberry away and enjoy life.
I want to leave a mark on the future for people that follow me, be it family or in organizations I care about, but I think that's different - it's seperate from spending all my time trying to earn more money, or prove to people I'm better - it's about feeling like the time I have here is being spent on worthwhile endeavours, and paying forward the great things that people before me have done for me.  The point stands though, don't lose site of enjoying life for what it is while we have it.

(re-blogged from FredWilson who quoted Andrew Lahde)


Disturbing Notice About the Water at Work

Internal notice received today at the office:

A new announcement has been posted for 100 West 33rd Street:
Brown Water in Restrooms
Please be advised that the brown water in the restrooms is a result of the DEP opening and closing certain valves in the street which caused sediment to shift in the water. 
The DEP is stating that the water is safe but it will take a couple of days for the water to clear. 
Oct 17, 2008 9:00a

Eminem coming out with a new album

Didn't expect to see this - Eminem is apparently coming out with a new album soon, after basically disappearing for a while (Here's a single from it).

Supposedly it will be coinciding with the release of new Dr. Dre and 50-cent albums as well:
Eminem’s album forms part of a “three-headed monster,” to be released alongside his new album, ‘Before I Self Destruct,’ and Dr. Dre’s much anticipated ‘Detox.’
I wonder if I'll like any of it or if it wi'll feel old and tried at this point?


What I learned from Michael Eisner about the online video industry

Michael Eisner, former CEO of Disney, formed Vuguru in 2007, a studio designed to develop video exclusively for online and mobile applications.  On October 7th, he spoke at the VEOH Insights: Watching The Web presentation about the future of the online video industry.  He came off as funny and insightful, and he's betting big on the future of online video, so it's worth paying attention:

On Hulu and video portals: 
Hulu is a "middle game" - it's not content produced for the web, leveraging the web, though what it does it's done very well.

MySpace has the audience and the streams to dominate in online video, but they don't have a clue how to make it all work.

On online video advertising:
The industry needs to lead the advertisers - it can't let them define their own ad executions that don't fit into the content.  Show them why it will work your way, everybody has to be convinced.

Audiences are conditioned for commercial pods.  They will accept a :15 sec interruption.  Interruptions need to scale to the show length.

Post-roll is dead, it's like watching the credits.  A targeted contextual offer at the end that ties well to the content could be a fruitful alternative.

Behavioral targeting is like when a guy marries the same woman over and over.  It's the Amazon model of assuming a person wants the same thing he just purchased.  But most people aren't that predictably consistent.

On quality of content:
South Park and other low resolution shows are essentially radio, they leverage the elements of good radio to be successful.

On the web video industry:
Video right now is lead by the distributors - the people looking for eyeballs, worrying about screens.  Cable came into it's own when it started producing it's own content.

Online video needs professionals, not automation, to really take off.

TV may be the big guy at the party for the next few decades, but the idea of 'on demand' is the future.

Shows that are cultural phenomenons (Seinfeld for example) took commitments by the networks.  They failed early, but the networks believed and gave them time to win the audience over.  An online property needs to have that presence of mind - it's got the capability, it has the audience and the ability to syndicate instantly.

In any business, you can be too early or too late - we're not sure yet for the online video landscape where we stand.

On Back On Topps and Vuguru:
Back on Topps is a new show by Vuguru.  It's exclusive for a 12-hour window on Fox Sports.  Windows are a TV model that defines length of exclusivity before pushing into syndication.

Back on Topps has in-show ads for Skype that have been made funny; Reeses Pieces was made by Speilberg doing the same thing (inclusion in E.T.).

Back on Topps will ultimately be a half-hour show rather than just 5 minute episodes.  Vuguru is committed to testing the limits and longevity of the show.

Prom Queen was translated and pushed out to international audiences, and saw success.

For an example of his recent work, check out Back On Topps
Cross posted on my Advertising Blog


NYTimes.com Becomes Social

Last week the New York Times slipped a social layer right onto the NYTimes.com website, with fair little fan fair.  What they call TimesPeople now appears as a floating bar atop NYTimes.com as you read articles, enabling you to friend other NYTimes.com readers, see a feed of articles that your friends or the community at large has recommended, and submit articles yourself to the TimesPeople community.  It’s the kind of social layer that all professional content sites can benefit from – and a key example of how “social” really is just ultimately going to be an underlying part to most of our everyday experience (rather than “social networking” requiring specific sites of their own).

This is not the first time we’ve seen a print publisher attempt a transition of their website; in March ‘07 the USA Today re-launched with a social framework.  However, the USAToday.com was such a drastic overhaul that it was almost difficult to grasp for the audience; just a few months later, TechCrunch highlighted their stagnant traffic.  Looking at the figures today, there’s been strong growth in the year since that review, but it may have been a difficult transition for the USAToday.com audience to make.

NYTimes.com has taken a more subtle approach that does little to change the overall user experience, but definitely enhances it considerably.  You browse NYTimes.com like you always do, but now you easily submit and see the best articles from your friends.  It’s a valuable social layer that personalizes the “most popular stories” module we’ve been used to seeing on news sites over the last few few years.  It seems like the perfect way to introduce such social features to a traditionally older web browsing audience.

TimesPeople isn’t the only sign that the NYTimes.com designers are serious about embracing social media in a smart way.   They’re also one of the first to embrace the new canvas-style layouts of iGoogle, which provides a full front page of NYTimes.com directly inside your iGoogle page, without having to leave your homepage to browse the headlines.

It’s great to see the NYTimes.com try to embrace change, develop their site for the better, and introduce a thought out, engaging social layer to the site.  It needs work for sure (I can’t see the bar or share articles from David Pogue’s NYTimes.com blog), but it’s a great start.  If you are a NYTimes.com reader, connect to me here, and start sharing.

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A Rarely Before Seen Image in the History of Philadelphia Phillies Baseball

I liked it so much I had to re-blog it:


Thanks to Balls, Sticks, & Stuff for the post.

The New York City Food Trucks are all Over Twitter

You can follow several of the popular New York City food trucks on twitter - keep up on where they're parked, what their specials are, even receive coupon codes for free stuff (like toppings on your waffles):

You can also follow Midtown Lunch, though they haven't made any updates yet.

Any other good New York City finds for Twitter?


How to re-create the Show Desktop icon on the Quick Launch toolbar

In case this actually happens to someone else like it happened to me this morning, I’m going to post the notes to re-creating the “Show Desktop” icon that in your Quick Launch toolbar on a Windows computer:

Manual steps to re-create the Show Desktop icon on the Quick Launch toolbar
The Show Desktop icon is not an ordinary program shortcut. If the icon is deleted, the procedure for re-creating the icon is not obvious. To manually re-create the Show Desktop icon, follow these steps:

Click Start , click Run, type notepad, and then click OK.

In Notepad, type the following text on individual lines:


On the File menu, click Save As, and then save the file to your desktop as Show Desktop.scf.
Note Notepad might automatically append a .txt extension to the file name. Remove this extension if present. The file name should be Show Desktop.scf.

The file must now be moved to the correct folder in the user profile to appear in the Quick Launch toolbar. To manually do this, use one of the following methods.

Method 1

Use the mouse to drag the Show Desktop.scf icon to the Quick Launch toolbar or another location where you want the shortcut to appear.

Click Move Here.

Method 2

Use Windows Explorer to locate the following folders:
Microsoft Windows 95 and Microsoft Windows 98
Windows\Application Data\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch
Microsoft Windows NT, Microsoft Windows 2000, and Microsoft Windows XP
C:\Documents and Settings\Username\Application Data\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch
Note Username refers to the account name where you want to put the icon.

Use the mouse to drag the Show Desktop.scf file to the Quick Launch folder.

Click Move Here.

Note By default, the Application Data folder for Windows NT, Windows 2000, and Windows XP is a hidden folder. You may have to unhide this folder by using the Advanced Settings in Internet Explorer. Click the Show hidden files and folders option.

You can also find this at the Microsoft support site.


The new single from The Killers

I have posted the new single from The Killers over at my Tumble Blog, listen and see my comments Human - The Killers

Back on Topps: An Unexpected (and Kind of Funny) Scripted Show

I stumbled upon the most random scripted web TV show a few days ago, and even after watching the first episode, as well as a handful of teasers, I still can barely believe it’s real.  “Back on Topps” is an online show that follows Leif and Leyland Topps, played by the apparently semi-famous Sklar brothers (see links below), as they learn that Topps was actually bought out from under the family by another company, and adjust to life under management (for those who don’t know, the Topps company has dealt with a similar shareholder descent in recent years).  Given how niche baseball cards are, and how few people probably know any history about the industry, it’s a very surprising topic to cover in a comedic show.  However, the teasers are filled with athletes (anyone from David Love to Dennis Rodman), and I think they’re actually pretty funny and attention grabbing for sports fans.  The first episode is up on the show’s website BackOnTopps.com, and you can find the teasers (which are worth watching) on Fox Sports Video, which has exclusive syndication rights.  I will definitely be checking in on the show over the next few weeks, and will let you know how I think it progresses – I’m excited for it.

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Inspiring passages read on the New Year

I don't often write about religion, but this morning in Rosh Hashana services I read a passage in the prayer book that I found particularly impactful. It's not about religion so much as it's about life perspective, and life approach - I think we can, myself included, all benefit from focusing more on thinking about both of those things more often. The text I'm copying here is an abridged version, focusing on the portions that were most significant to me:

A Passage Read on Rosh Hashana

The day has come
to take an accounting of my life
Have I dreamed of late
of the person I want to be,
in the changes I would make,
in my daily habits,
in the way I am with others,
in the friendship I show companions.

I have remained enchained too often
to less than what I am
But the day has come
to take an accounting of my life.

I, who am my own kind of needy person,
have been afraid of vision.

I need to be loved.
Do I deserve to be?
I need to love another.
Can I commit to my love?
Perhaps its object will be less than my visions
(and then I would be less)
Perhaps I'm not brave enough to find new vision
through a real and breathing person.

So long as I have breath
I know I have the strength
to transform what I can be
to what I am.


Tina Fey delivers another fantastic Gov. Palin performance

Learning from the $700B Government Bailout of the Banks

Fred Wilson makes a great proposal for the public disclosure of the results of the government loan to the banks:
I would like the splurge legislation to require that we not only have public disclosure, but that we have in effect a real time listing (like the Nasdaq) of all splurge related transactions. This is good for the public (so we know what's going on with our money) and it's good for the Treasury (so it is forced to behave rationally) and it's good for investors who want to profit from all of this splurge activity. It will also allow us, after the whole things is over, to analyze the splurge and learn from it, like JLM learned from the RTC.
This is a great opportunity for the US at large to learn about investing - the US Government should be using this time to teach us all about risks, investing, returns, everything they can as they put a nation-wide contributed sum of money to work.  I hope the US government is paying attention to people like Fred Wilson and Mark Cuban, who have been pouring out intelligent recommendations for the use and management of the funds almost daily.


Ryan Howard Carries the Phillies to the Playoffs

Photograph taken by Googie Man and released un...Image via WikipediaCongrats to the Phillies!!, who made it into the playoffs for the second year in a row - 92 wins, 16 and 7 in September, and one step ahead in a race against the Mets (who have matches the Phillies 2 straight winning seasons with 2 straight end-of-season collapses) for the pennant. Ryan Howard, who started out the season horrendous, had a monsterous September - he hit .345, 11 HR's, and 32 RBI's (on his way to 48 home runs and 146 RBI's, well ahead of all other major league players). The whole team has been on a tear this month, so I hope they can ride the momentum into the playoffs and fair better against Milwaukee than they did against Colorado last year - outlook is good, since they were 5-1 against Milwaukee this year. Cole Hammels and the ageless wonder Jamie Moyer can help make it happen.
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Why I like the new Microsoft ads

The new Microsoft ad campaign has been unfolding over the last few weeks, and it's seen its share of criticism. The campaign has come in two waves. The first set, a few odd early commercials showing Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates hanging out together, lasted only a week or so.

The second wave swapped Jerry Seinfeld out for a series of short snippets of a broad collection of people stating "I'm a PC" - everyone from a random teacher in a 3rd world country, to Eva Longoria.

The Gates / Seinfeld commercials were a bad start - for the most part, they weren't funny (although the last line when Seinfeld asks for a sign from Gates that there's something new coming to Windows could maybe have been funny packaged differently). Worse, though, they almost made it seem like Windows was for rich people that don't get the real world. They even said that they need to spend time with regular families to understand them. It's not that they are elitist, they're just out of touch.

The new commercials, however, to be me accomplish exactly what I think they need to - they take back ownership of the now common phrases that Apple coined "I'm a PC", and they position Apple as the company that has thinks too highly of itself. And that in a subtle sort of way hits home because I desperately want a Mac, every time I see someone at Starbucks that seems to have a cooler computer and looks like they're enjoying it more.
If it really is because they are better computers, that's one thing. But if it's because I am jealous of the image, the cool factor, the elite, the step up from the regular people who use PC's, then I've bought into the "I'm a Mac" image, the Apple culture, and I'm getting ready to pay a 50% mark up on a laptop just to have it.
If the new Windows commercials can make me feel like it's not wrong to be the every day person, if they start to make me turn a more critical eye towards the elitist Mac cult, then I'll start to second guess paying a premium for Mac products (which I am as of late). Breaking down this yearning for a Mac, reminding us that it's ok to be a PC user, is exactly waht the new Microsoft ads need to achieve.

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