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Archive for March, 2009


5 Reasons I Don’t Shop at Your Store

Creative Commons License photo credit: Justin Marty

When it comes to where I take my business, I’m a pretty picky customer. I demand a lot of the places I shop, especially the ones I’m going to get into my car and drive to.

First, there are the obvious criteria for where I shop. The store has to be reasonably close, has to have what I need/want, be friendly and has to have reasonable prices. But then there are the less-obvious reasons, reasons that it appears many shop owners and managers forget in their bustle to keep the ship sailing forward.

So, as a public service to those stores I haven’t seen in a while, here are my top five less-common reasons I don’t visit your business. Read moreRead more


Daylight Savings Scam

DST - Day 67
Creative Commons License photo credit: √oхέƒx™

Even on a blog about inelegant solutions, Daylight Savings Time (DST) has a special place. Not only is it an inelegant solution, but it is a bad means to a solution that doesn’t solve its designated problem. It’s a bad answer to a very stupid question.

The idea is simple, in a bid to save energy, make people happier or whatever the logic is this year, we all, save those of us who don’t live in a DST zone, set our clocks back one hour in the fall and then set them ahead that same hour in the Spring. The idea is that, during the months where DST is in effect, we get more sunlight in the evening.

The problem is three-fold. A) For it to work it requires every county in every state in every nation to agree to go along with it, then requiring every person in those countries to successfully set every clock to the right time. B) It doesn’t do the job its advertised to do and may actually make things worse. C) Even if it DID work, there would be far more efficient ways to achieve the same effect.

So let’s take a moment to stop and think about DST for a bit and marvel at its stupidity. If you think it’s a good thing, give me a second and hear me out, you might like my competing solution better.

After all, the true marvel of DST isn’t that it doesn’t work, but that it’s such a horrible way to get to something that doesn’t work. Read moreRead more


Seeking Better Email


As I was writing my column yesterday for Blogging Tips, something dawned on me. That as much as I love Gmail, there aren’t many alternatives out there.

I wondered aloud on Twitter why there were no viable competitors for Gmail and got a slew of good responses. One of the best came from user @lance_ who said that “It takes a lot of market clout or money to get past spam filters. There isn’t a huge market for b2b & consumers already got an address.” (fixed quote for tweet-speak).

Others seemed to feel that the market was saturated while others still were quick to remind me about Microsoft Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail, neither of which really hold much of a candle to Gmail in terms of features. When you consider that Gmail, for free, offers nearly unlimited space, free IMAP access, threading, powerful search, good spam filtering and more, Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail look like weaklings.

Gmail is pretty much the undisputed champion right now, at least in terms of features and power, and, sadly, there is no real competition on the horizon. Yahoo! and Microsoft seem to have rolled over and other companies, like Zenbe, would rather build off of Gmail than create something truly new.

The result is that Gmail has stagnated. What was revolutionary when it was first created has slowed to a crawl. Most of the “Labs” features are either mistakes that should never have been in Gmail, such as Signature Tweaks, Title Tweaks, etc. or outright catchup with other systems, such as Canned Responses.

Gmail, which is still in beta, hasn’t blossomed and though it seems to announce new features regularly, most seem outright trivial. So where’s the competition to keep the fire hot? Where is the upstart company with a bold new vision and a competing ideal? It isn’t there.

It’s time for some competition. Time for an upstart group of rebels to really attack this issue and see what they can do. Will it be easy? No. Is it impossible? Maybe. But the future of email may depend on it. Read moreRead more


Why OmniWeb Failed


Update: See comments below for a response from Omni Group The OmniWeb Web browser is, for the most part, no more. Though the announcement last week highlighted the fact that it was now available for free, the buried lead is that they are stopping active development on the browser. Though they aren’t ruling out future updates, they aren’t promising any either and they didn’t open source the browser. With the browser wars the way they are, that’s as good as a death sentence.

However, most people that used OmniWeb seemed to like the browser. I tried it several times over the past few years, never quite getting to the point where I was willing to pay for it after the trial ended. Sadly though, the browser couldn’t build any real traction. Many Mac users were unaware it was available and, those that did, seemed to always go back to free browsers.

It was, and still is, a fairly innovative browser and one that works fairly well. Based on Webkit, it’s a fast browser with an intersting “tabs on the side” system that uses thumbnails of pages rather than a traditional tab bar. It also has a slew of built-in features, such as ad-blocking, workspaces and individual site preferences.

Yet, the browser is clearly being put into retirement. Where did it go wrong and how can other “deep in the pack” browsers, such as Flock and Opera, avoid a similar fate? Read moreRead more


7 Beers, 7 Countries: A Review

Drinking in Germany
Creative Commons License photo credit: Jayel Aheram

I’m not a beer drinker. When it comes to my very limited alcohol consumption I’m definitely more of a wine/daiquiri/mixed drink kind of guy. A good bottle of red wine or a jack and coke is more up my alley than pretty much any beer.

However, economic times are tough. We don’t have the income we did a year ago so we’re looking to cut back on our expenses. One of the easiest for us is drinking. Though we love our daiquiris, $20 for two larges (with tip) makes little sense when a six pack of even high-end foreign beer is less than half the price.

So we set out to find a beer that we could enjoy. We had the good fortune to do some overseas traveling in the past year and learned that we liked some foreign beers but the ones we truly enjoyed, such as Duvel beer, were not widely available in the U.S. The goal was to find a beer we could locate easily and enjoy on a whim.

World Market came to our rescue. Their “Make your own six pack” feature let us literally build a six pack of beer from six different countries at an affordable price. So we decided to try and then do a review of it. Here are the results. Read moreRead more