Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Blinded By The Light. The real one.

My Review: 10

I love Bruce Springsteen.  And this song, I think, is nothing short of brilliant.  Please listen to it in my Box.net widget in the side bar.

First of all, let me say one thing.  Douche is not part of this song.

Bruce wrote this song in the early seventies, and it was first recorded on his album Greetings From Asbury Park N.J. in 1973.  It did not achieve broad commercial success.

Manfred Mann recorded the song in 1977, and that reached #1 on the pop charts (according to Wikipedia, “…Manfred Mann’s Earth Band recording of “Blinded by the Light” is still Springsteen’s only Number 1 single as a songwriter on the Hot 100.”

I think the writing and poetry in this song is tremendous.  The lyrics are outlandish and silly in a nearly Shel Silverstein-esque manner (Shel didn’t just write “Where the Sidewalk Ends” you know, he also penned “Boy Named Sue” [Johnny Cash] and “Cover of a Rolling Stone” [Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show.] among others.) Bruce’s lyrics are fanciful, fun and fantastic (in the “way out there” sense.)  They are evocative and as close to poetry as anything Bruce has written.  To me, this kind of writing puts him in the same class as Dylan and Simon.

I also love Bruce’s rendition of the song.  His vocals are at their scratchy best, and the musicianship is raw.  Powerful, and raw.

I can (and have) listened to this song on repeat, over and over again.  It leaves me happy, sad, curious, mystified, and sometimes a little maudlin.  Not really sure why.  But it’s evocative, and strong.  For me, this song is a solid 10 out of 10.  Not just because I love Bruce (which, as I said, I do) and not just becasue the lyrics are poetic and zany (which they are.)  This song is a 10 because it symbolizes freedom for me, every  single  time I listen to it.  It’s about the open road, about America, about living your life and be damned to the consequences.  This song kicks ass.

Afterthought:

Oh, and in case I wasn’t clear before, let me be abundantly so now.  I think Bruce’s version is infinitely superior to Manfre Mann’s.  Manfred Mann IS a douche.

Advertisements

SteepandCheap Reviewed

My Review: 7

Steepandcheap.com is a website dedicated to offering super rad discounts on cool outdoor gear.  My expert internet sleuth Allison found this one.  The copyright on their “About” page says 2003-2004, but I am only seeing the site now.  They are “powered by” Backcountry.com.  I suspect they had a different format previously.  The guys at Chainlove (another BC.com site) posted something about this a couple months back.

Their tagline says: “One killer gear deal, one item at a time until it’s gone.”  I can’t argue, the deals so far have been killer.  Everything I’ve seen advertised is far below MSRP.  I picked up a Timbuk2 backpack yesterday that looked pretty nifty, at what seemed like a screaming price.  The signup and checkout process took me all of 35 seconds, which was great.  I was definitely impressed with the purchase and account UI.

They are also doing some pretty cool viral marketing, surprisingly nifty web apps that most traditional retailers don’t really get yet.  They offer a RSS alert system, and they allow you to share deals with friends not only via email, but on Facebookas well.  They show ads on the page, but they may as well squeeze every nickel that they can, especially since their margins can’t be high with discounts this steep.

The whole “one item till it’s gone” thing adds a definite sense of pressure and urgency to the system, and doubtless that’s why they do it.  It has an auction feel (a la Ebay) and also reminds me of Jellyfish’s Smack Deal of the day.  The difference here is that Steepandcheap doesn’t indicate how much time you have left, or how many items are available.  You are guessing until it’s gone.  But, the price doesn’t change either.  It is what it is.  It’s a GREAT deal on gear that sells until they’re sold out.  Artificially creating scarcity-based urgency is just good business.  My guess is that the items being sold are remaindered, unsold stock from Backcountry.

So why did I only give them a 7 out of 10 review?  Couple of reasons. For one, there’s no Paypal payment option.  I would like it better if there were.  And the RSS feeds, though really cool, seem to update slowly.  At the moment the most recent item in their feed (on my google reader) is the 4FRNT snow skis, and it says that it’s from 58 minutes ago.  That’s not the item currently on the site (A Merrell women’s jacket.)  In fact, it’s more than two items ago, because there was a watch on the site before the jacket came up.  RSS should be nearly real-time, and that’s important with a time-limited “buy till we sell out” mentality.

Also, and this is big deal, their pricing is inconsistent.  The backpack I bought was the Timbuk2 Track, and the listed MSRP on their site is $90.  SteepandCheap’s price was $44.38.  Any way you slice it that’s a great deal.  But the MSRP they listed during the sale was $150.00.  1/3 of the retail price sounds a LOT better than 1/2 of the retail price.  Truthfully, I did make an impulse buy based on the perception of scarcity without doing my research in advance.  I’m ok with that.  But I want them to play fair, and show the right prices.  I sent a question into customer service, see their answer down below.

The site is “powered by” Backcountry.com, a longtime online outdoor gear retailer, and winner of numerous online-shopping accolades.  Their internal blog, The Goat, has numerous references to the site starting as far back as December 2006.  I think they’re offering a potentially great service with Steepandcheap, and it is now on my regular stop-by list of shopping sites.  But I’d feel a lot better about doing business with them if I knew the prices were going to always be correct and consistent – I now feel suspicious about their offers.  Time will tell I suppose.   And no matter what, that RSS issue has got to get fixed.  For now, they get a 7 out of 10, even with killer prices.

———————————————————————————-

Here’s my question and their answer from their customer service rep:

Question:

Hi There,

I bought a Timbuk2 Track bag from you yesterday.  The suggested MSRP on your site
was $150, and you were selling it for $44.38. It sounded like a great deal, and I wasn’t
sure how long it would last, so I bought one on the spot.

Afterward, checking out the Timbuk2 site, I noticed that the packs are listed at $90 MSRP.

I still think I got a great deal, but it seems dishonest to post a higher MSRP than the
manufacturer really suggests.  If that was intentional, it artificially inflates the
discount you’re offering, and that seems wrong.  I’m not accusing, I’d just like some
clarification.  Why was the MSRP listed so much higher than what’s shown on the
manufacturers site?

Thanks,
David

Response:

Hi David,

Thanks for contacting us at Steepandcheap.com.

I do see the confusion, there has been many different versions of this pack, with very little physical differences and through the waves of shipments from Timbuk2 prices have changed.  The Black/ Black/ Black posted on SAC was purchased at a higher wholesale price than the packs posted on backcountry.com now.  MSRP had not been skewed to pump our number, but was actually $149.95.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, please feel free to let us know. Have a great day— we can’t wait to serve you up another killer deal at Steepandcheap.com.

Sincerely,

XXXXXXXX
Steepandcheap Gearhead

Under the Radar: Entertainment and Social Media

My Review: 10

Friends are at Under the Radar, presenting their companies and connecting with VC’s. Special mention to LOUD3R and Lowell Goss, who is poised to kick ass.

Check out the Ustream here: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/utr08

Best of luck to Lowell and everyone else presenting at Under the Radar.

Techmeme Search

My Review: 9

Techmeme has added search capability to it’s news aggregation site.  The story broke on Techcrunch a few minutes ago.  Their exclusive was busted a few minutes later when Techmeme announced it themselves on their company blog / news page.

If you haven’t used Techmeme before, it’s a neat site for taking a overview look at what technology news is hot at the moment.  Techmeme aggregates news stories that are popular across the web.  Popularity is established according to a number of metrics, an important one being cross-linking.  The more inbound and outbound links in a story, the higher it rises on the Techmeme site.  The self-congratulatory Techmeme leaderboard has become a fashionable place for bloggers to feel good about themselves as well.  It’s not surprising that the news site who broke this news (Techcrunch) is also consistently number one on the leaderboard.

Techmeme does offer a neat look at what news is hopping, though it is sometimes criticized as a popularity contest.  It also is subject to gaming, as many bloggers make an effort to exchange links and push their own site / story onto the Techmeme homepage.

All that being said however, the search feature is really cool.  It’s a great opportunity to find hot stories on specific topics you want to research or analyze.  And it offers a very cool snapshot look at how popular a topic was at a given time.  Founder Gabe Rivera told us a long time ago that we should not hold our breath waiting for search on Techmeme.  I’m glad that he decided it was time to pull the trigger, and it’s a feature I will certainly use a lot.  9 out of 10, and thanks for the memories.

RENT

My Review: 8

In 1996, my first year of college, the musical RENT, by Jonathon Larson, came out on Broadway in New York.  I was lucky enough to go see it with my friends David Neufeld and Aliza Etlin nee Katz.

I loved this show.  I saw it in New York that year, and then again in San Diego two years later, with Neil Patrick Harris (go Doogie / Barney) playing the role of Mark, one of the lead characters.  He was great.

I think the music, the dialog, and the message in this play are outstanding.  Seasons of Love is an amazing song, just one of many throughout the play.  My friends may make fun of me for writing a post expressing my appreciation for (and love of) this play, but I can take it.  RENT gets an 8, and it’s worth every point.

Gotta Be Mobile?

My Review: 8

If you’ve got to be mobile, then this website is valuable to you.

logo3.gif

www.gottabemobile.com is a website dedicated to news and information about the mobile space.  PDA’s, phones, tablet PC’s and other technology advancements in the mobile space are their forte and focus.  From their “About” page:

“GottaBeMobile.com is an Internet News and Review website that covers the fast paced and constantly changing mobile computing sector.

The vision of GottaBeMobile.com is to become the definitive source for mobile computing news, reviews, and commentary, as well as the home for the mobile community to discover and discuss these issues. When you think mobile, think GottaBeMobile.com.”

I think they’re doing a great job.  The site is feature and content rich, and also chock full of advertising – hey, you gotta make a living as well as be mobile.

But the site does not feel cluttered, and as I said these guys have a lot of content.  They also do cool things, like stream video live while they’re blogging and chat with their readers real-time.  As a reader, you can give feedback to the writers and get other insights that you’d never get on a traditional blog.  They’re covering CES thoroughly.

picture-2.png

If you are interested in the latest technology focused on mobility and mobile devices, gottabemobile is pretty sweet.  Solid 8 in my book.

The Otterbox 1000

My Review: 8

otterbox.jpg

The Otterbox 1000 is a simple, straightforward offering from the boys and girls who make waterproof cool.  Otterbox is a company that specializes in waterproof cases.  They have everything from simple generic boxes to waterproof iPhone cases.

The subject of this review is my new Otterbox 1000.  It is as straightforward as you get; it’s a black plastic box that keeps things dry.  The exterior is rigid and strong.  The latch mechanism is a snap-lock that clicks firmly into place – it does require a firm hand to close all the way.

ottterbox1000.jpg

The dimensions (in inches) are as follows:
Exterior: 4.873” x 3.682” x 1.652”
Interior: 3.700” x 2.350” x 1.000”

The box is waterproof, crushproof and airtight.  It’s large enough to hold keys, money and credit cards, a small cell phone, and other small, precious items. To test mine I filled the bathroom sink with water, immersed the box for a while by holding I tunder water, and then left it floating for a few minutes.  To spice things up I put my iPhone in it for the test.

Ha.  Right.  Actually I put some dry tissues in the box – just in case.  But I’m happy to say that the test went great, and everything inside stayed dry as can be.

img_0229.jpg

Overall I’m impressed with the thing.  I do think the latch is a little tough to close.  I want it to be tight, but the plastic is so hard that it almost feels brittle to me.  I’m concerned whether it will last through repeated openings and closings. But, thus far, I’ve had no problems and I am pleased with the box.  It retails for $11.49, and you can buy it from Otterbox directly or through any number of retail outlets.

I give the Otterbox 1000 an 8.

Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property (“PRO IP”) Act of 2007

My Review: 2

I think Nancy Pelosi is a moron and a communist.

OK, that’s an overstatement, but I do think this bill is not the solution to the problem of illegal downloading and copyright infringement. Our friend Jeremy at LiveDigitally wrote an excellent post on this topic – you can find it here. While I don’t agree blindly with everything Jeremy has to say, I do agree with the gist of his argument.

Clearly lots of people are downloading music illegally.  Sending them to jail and / or fining them thousands of dollars to protect wealthy people whose rights are being “infringed” upon is not a good solution.  However, “80 million illegal downloaders can’t be wrong” is not a good enough reason (for me) as to why the law should be changed to make illegal downloading legal and free.

I think that the punishment needs to fit the crime. I do agree with him that large business, huge conglomerates, and fabulously wealthy musicians are not suffering egregiously from illegal downloading and copyright infringement. The only people I occassionally worry about are the starving, independant artists; I don’t want them to lose their meager royalties. But I would argue that they get at least as much benefit as loss from the downloading and trading of their proprietary work. All that distribution is probably a good thing.

I think sites like Amie Street which use a market driven structure to sell music legally, and at a very god price, make the most sense.  These benefit newer independant artists, and benefit the consumer.

amie.gif

Solutions aside, the people who create and own property have a right to see that property protected.  This bill does not protect their rights.  It punishes people without acknowledging the reality of the situation.  That reality being: technology is not going to go backwards, and publishers need to find a way to work with it, not use congress as a blunt instrument to beat up the people who pay their salaries.

In any case, I say write to your congressperson to oppose this bill.

And take a crap on Pelosi’s lawn next time you’re in San Francisco. Just don’t get caught.

The PRO IP Bill gets a 2.

When your main-man abandons your ass and goes on a honeymoon

I give it a 1

That’s right, a 1.

Our First Three Days in Queenstown

My Review: 10

 

This is an unusual blog post. Though I don’t normally use 1to10 for strictly personal posts (in terms of my daily life and routine) I am making an exception. Because I can. So a couple of posts here and there will basically be copy&pastes from mass emails to friends and family / journal entries from my time in New Zealand.

 

So, enjoy…

 

 

UPDATE:

I changed my mind.  Instead of the above, I will do mini-posts on the things I experience and observe while I’m here.  That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

 

 

 

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

 

Hi Everyone,

Sorry for the mass email, but internet access in New Zealand is sort of sucky. It’s pretty much the only thing that sucks, so I’m not complaining, but it is hard to get any high-speed access. So I need to write as few emails as possible, and I can’t do a lot of picture sharing.

Allison and I got into Auckland around 5:00 AM on Thursday (NZ time.) We caught a 10AM flight to Queenstown, and started being official tourists around noon. We spent the day finding our hotel, and then walking into downtown Queenstown. The view from our room is incredible – Lake Wakatipu sits right in front of our window. It’s a huge lake surrounded by mountains in Central Otagou, the region where the Queenstown is set. We spent the afternoon wandering around, eating gigantic hamburgers at a place called Fergburger, drinking beer, and generally gawking at everything we saw. We brought some groceries and things back to our room on Thursday evening, along with a bottle of local wine, and then ended up passing out around 7:00 PM. I know, we’re weenies.

UPDATED

MY MINI REVIEW: 8

HE HOTEL WE BOOKED IS CALLED THE COLONIAL VILLAGE, AND IT IS AWESOME.  THE VIEW IS INCREDIBLE, AND THE OWNERS ARE SUPER NICE.  THE FIRST FEW NIGHTS WE WERE IN A BUDGET ROOM, BUT AFTER OUR TRAMP WE UPGRADED TO  A LUXURY APARTMENT, AND IT RULES.

 

 COLONIAL VILLAGE MOTEL

THE PARKING LOT AND SIGN

 

 31.jpg

 

 

THE VIEW FROM OUR BALCONY IN THE APARTMENT

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

On Friday we got up around 6 AM, and wandered into town to have breakfast. After eating, we headed to a storefront right in downtown Queenstown on Shotover Street. The particular store front rents motorcycles, so Allison and I took a Harley Ultra-Glide and hired it for a half-day. We took the bike out and went wine tasting at a bunch of local wineries; Queenstown is known for their Pinot Noir. That was amazing and a lot of fun. We hit a couple of wineries for tours and tastings, then had lunch. In the afternoon after we brought the bike back, we did a little shopping for our first tramp which starts tomorrow. We had a big dinner at a restaurant called the Lonestar, drank some local beer and played pool in a pool-hall, and then hit the sack.

 

 

UPDATED

 

MY MINI REVIEW: 9

 

RENTING A HARLEY IN NEW ZEALAND WAS THE BEST THING WE COULD HAVE DONE.  BEAUTIFUL WEATHER, AND A GORGEOUS BRAND NEW ELECTRA GLIDE ULTRA.  THE BIKE WAS PERFECT,THE ROADS WERE WINDY AND FUN, AND THE WINERIES WERE PLENTIFUL ALONG THE WAY.  RIDING ON THE LEFT SIDE OF THE ROAD IS A LITTLE DIFFERENT, BUT YOU GET USED TO IT FAST.  WE TOOK ROUTE 6 OUT OF QUEENSTOWN, THROUGH FRANKTON, AND ON INTO WINE COUNTRY IN THE CENTRAL OTAGO VALLEY.

 

 

COULDN’T HAVE BEEN BETTER.  THE FOLKS AT HARLEY TOURS ON SHOTOVER STREET IN DOWNTOWN QUEENSTOWN WERE FANTASTIC, ESPECIALLY JO, THE GAL WHO HELPED US OUT.

 

A DEFINITE 10.

 

01.jpg

ME AND THE WIFE

 

 img_0505.jpg

LOVING THE BIKE

 

 

 

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Today is Saturday, we have been touring around the city some more, doing some shopping and eating. We are sitting in a cafe right now – the only one with free Wi-Fi. Sadly, the connection is very slow. We will do some last minute food shopping, maybe do a hike or a walk somewhere, and then 8AM tomorrow we catch a bus to the Routeburn Track for our first backpack (tramp.)

So far we are having an amazing time. We’re taking lots of pictures, and if we ever get to a solid internet connection we’ll send some out. Otherwise we’ll share a bunch when we’re back in the states.

Love to you all.

David (and his wife Allison.)