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?