Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Cyber Monday Sales

The preliminary count of Cyber Monday sales shows a take of $13.87. Yeehaw!

One of the sales came from REI Boulder another from Overstock. A third from Bass Pro Shops. The final came from a company called Green Batteries. There really isn't such a thing as a "green battery." Batteries by their nature are highly toxic, resource intensive things. If you think through your battery usage and use batteries well, you can reduce the amount of damage that you do to the world.

There was also a book sale on the weekend. If you add that to the dime from Black Friday, then I am up to a grand total of $15.51. Hmmm, I don't think I am in line for a new server in 2006.

Marble Slab Shift

This just in ... A basketball size chunk of the facade on the Supreme Court fell onto the Supreme Court steps. Prior to the event, eyewitnesses noted the Supreme Court shifted to the right ...

Monday, November 28, 2005

msn spaces

I started playing with MSN Spaces. Anyway, I think I will use a MSN Blog for comments on current events, and use this blog primarily for discussions about philosophy, programming, community and math.

The one advantage of the MSN program is that it allows categories ... which prevents blogs from diverging on a large number of subjects...like this blog does.

Back to important matters. My premilary look at stats shows that I had no sales on Saturday or Sunday (which is typical). My big hope is today. One problem of course, is that an open directory structure doesn't do any preselling. For example, Denver Clothing store page simply shows links to stores in the area. It makes no attempt to explain why a store might be compelling.

When I shop, I just want to know about what options exist.

Of course, the mixed message of a community directory that lists web sites with franchises fails here as well. The community directory only shows a the subset of shopping options that have both a web site and local store. Many of the most compelling apparel stores don't have physical outlets.

So far, I show one sale today. Not enough to pay for a server, but at least it is a start.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Thanksgiving Day Sales

The day after Thanksgiving is the biggest sales day of the year. A quick analysis of sales shows that the Community Color collection of sites sent 160 links to affiliated merchants ... these hits resulted in a single sale that paid one shiny dime in commissions.

NOTE: I am actually not sure if the dime is shiny. a tenth of a dollar will be transferred electronically into my savings account. When I go to withdraw the dime, I will have a choice of whatever dimes are the teller's box.

The totals for the month are a little better. I've sent 3328 hits to affiliated merchants scoring $238.50. Unfortunately, the bulk of that revenue vanished.

I was getting ready to sign the dotted line on a new server. Instead, I am left sitting here wondering why I am building a community directories when I do not "Share Utah values." Yes, I have actually been told a number of times that I do not "share Utah Values." You can tell if a person shares Utah values by the cut of their underwear.

I do kind of "share Park City values." I just don't share in the massive amounts of cash that it takes to live there.

BTW, my Black Friday sale was from the Fandango Link on the Salt Lake Movies page. Fandango is a cool service. You can buy movie tickets online. Buying online means you don't have to get to the theatre early, stand in line and risk missing the movie you want to see. The problem with Fandango is that you have to pay a processing fee. I would only use the service on a crowded day like today. In the last two years, I've sent Fandango 533 hits resulting in 26 sales for $2.60 ... not quite enough to pay for a server and colocation fees.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Black Friday

Happy Black Friday!

Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving. It is the day when merchants around the US are thankful for consumer credit.

This is the biggest shopping day of the year for physical stores. Oddly the biggest shopping day for online stores is the Monday Morning after Thanksgiving. This is when people get back in the office, punch the time clock, log on to the computer computer and finish their weekend shopping. Some online merchants have started calling Monday after Thanksgiving Black Monday.

IMHO, the real driving force for Black Monday was that companies had broadband and few homes had broadband. I think the Black Monday phenomena descreases with time.

My goal for Black Monday is to get enough cash to buy a server for Community Color. The goal of these sites was to make an open community directory. The idea has yet to catch on.

For all those joining the throngs ... happy shopping!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope everyone had a happy and healthy harvest festival.

One of the really positive trends I've seen in communities throughout the U.S. is a growing awareness of food. More and more communities are hosting farmers market. Vegetable gardening is in again. More and more people are shopping at organic markets.

Liberty Heights is an excellent store for folks in Salt Lake.

The quality of foods in certain Utah restaurants has skyrocketed. Some of the bad restaurants have gone to the great grease bin the sky. We have more and better choices of food today. I am thankful for that.

The selection of beer and wines are substantially better today than when I was a teen. It seems to me that Americans are rediscovering food. It is a trend I hope continues. One of the benefits of the increase in productivity and quality control is that we are able to spend more time thinking about what we put in ourselves.

I've had some great conversations in the last several years with restaurant owners, organic farmers and others who are part of this trend.

Anyway, I was thinking of pithy, counter cultural statements to spout this Thanksgiving. The truth is, I see a lot of good things still. I have far more reasons to give thanks than to spew verbal toxin. So, I am thankful for the great harvest and wish happiness to all in the holidays on the horizon.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

One World Cafe

After the ViaWest tour. I decided to jump to the other spectrum of live in America and dined at the One World Cafe. This is a new age concept that features organic cooking.

This cafe does so many things right. The restaurant has a different menu each day based on what's in the fridge and what just came off the farm. To reduce food waste, they serve buffet style. I wanted just a little snack; so I had a half plate with samples of the store's cuisine.

One interesting feature of the restaurant is that you, the diner, set the price. You look at the quality and quantity of the food you ate and pay what you believe to be a fair price for the food. This is a great twist on the buffet. The problem with most buffets is that people take way too much food. The restaurant either ends up dropping the quality of the food or raising the price to fit the appetites of the biggest and fattest in our society. A fixed price buffet results in food waste.

I have attended some buffets that weigh one's plate. Weighing the plate reduces food waste...but then people tend to skip the veggies and over load the meat to get the better of the buffet.

I had a conversation with some new agers in my hood about the cafe. They loved the cafe because the owner was not trapped by the oppressive capitalistic system. They saw the food as free ... being generous new agers, they would give a donation at the end of the meal to further the cause.

Personally, I think the store is a delightful exercise in free market economics. With each meal we go through an internal negotiation to determine the price we will pay for the meal. I do wish the store provided more guidance on price. I had only a half plate. I erred on the cheap side.

It will be interesting to see how the restaurant fares in the most republican of all states. The One World Cafe essentially is giving the food away and asking for a big tip. I mentioned politics as Democrats tend to chintz on the price but love to leave big tips. Republicans tend to like to pay fair prices but chintz on the tip.

My view is that the fair value of the food is about $15 to $20 per plate. Being a buffet, I don't think the restaurant warrants a full 20% gratuity. Of course, if it makes you feel good. Think of the food as free ... followed by a $20 donation to the cause (tip).

Of course, you could just leave a sign that says "Thank you Lord for thinking of me, I am doing fine." Unfortunately, my hair is short; so I couldn't get away with that trick.

Anyhoo, for a brief moment I had transcended my oppressive corporal existance and transcended to the One World Cafe. I am now back to my bourgeoisie ways.

PS, I couldn't find a web site for them.

Viawest Tour

I toured the Salt Lake ViaWest data center yesterday. I had been thinking of either putting together a server for colocation or renting a dedicated server for Community Color. The truth is that I really need my own server if I am to expand the programs to the point that they are successful. As it stands, I am sitting here with absurdly tight constraints on bandwidth and disk space (the constraints are absurd for 2005).

Anyway, these data centers are getting better with each passing year. The amount of redundant power supplies, multiple communication links through the facility, seismic isolation of the data center and security at the center is quite admirable.

The primary attraction of the facility is that they have locations in both Salt Lake and Denver. Unfortunately, I suspect that the price of the service will be out of my reach. The sites have just lost one fourth of their income. I don't see the appearance of any possible replacement income sources for the site (at least not in Salt Lake).

There is still a chance that the bid will come within reason. The price of the equipment and software that I need is in the $2000 area. I doubt that the real cost associated with the rack space and bandwidth I use is that extraordinary. Xmission's bid for colocation came in around $80 a month (I would have to buy and set up the server.) I can't imagine the real cost of a dedicated server being over $200 a month. But we will see.

Monday, November 21, 2005

The Google Gods Have Spoken


My little piece of manna from heaven appears to have dried up.

My little experiment in the wild world of the Internet is a collection of open directories called Community Color. The web site is just a collection of links to web sites from the community. The sites really don't have any support from the community. I feel, that the do a positive service by helping people find local artists, community service programs, etc..

Some people consider my project to be spammy.

My little manna from heaven was that, for some strange reason, I scored position two for the key words "Sears Home Center" in Google and Yahoo. The indexed page provides almost no intrinsic value to Sears. It says that there is a Sears in Salt Lake City.

The fact that I had scored well on a lucrative keyword meant I was average $150 a month for a page that provided nothing of deep value to Sears.

Essentially Sears paid the web hosting fee for my site, despite the fact that I was providing very little in service to their firm. Since I provide free listings to local furniture makers. One could even argue that I was doing a disservice to sears.

Google and Yahoo finally dropped this page. Another lucky bastard will be getting this manna from heaven.

The whole web thing is really quite amusing. It is impossible to get from the people who directly benefit from the site. When I tell business what I could do for them, they usually toss me out the door. However the site makes accidental income from a company that was underserved by the program. Very odd.

Having just a few search engines dominate the Internet market means that the market is irrational.

One of the really strange things about the web is that you often make more money by underserving people, than by providing them what they want. For example, one of my sites scores well on the term dialectics. People who find an answer to their questions about this term are satisfied. It is only when someone is unsatisfied that they click on the ads.

The same thing happens in day to day business. I often find myself paying more for jobs that were done poorly than for those that were done well. A crappy programmer will generate more man hours and receive more money than a quality programmer. In my own career, I've made a lot more money for the mistakes I've made than the small number of programs I did well.

I can see why so many marketers turn negative.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Progressive Liberal

You know what this country needs. It needs progressive liberals who actually want to liberate people and see society to progress.

Sadly, both the terms "progressive" and "liberate" are brands owned and defined by the far left.

Judging from conversations with people pushing the "progressive liberal" brand in the Democratic Party. Progressive means any idea that progresses society on the path to socialism. Liberal means anything that liberates us from the onus burden of freedom.

I kind of wish the world "progressive" was an adjective indicating if a policy favored the common (the poor over the rich). I also wish liberal was an adjective that indicated policies that liberated people.

Unfortunately, we live is an age when words really don't have meanings. Words are brands that get redefined by the great paradigm shifters who spin definitions to suit their agendas.

I really want to use the adjectives "progressive" and "liberal" as words. The problem is that in doing so, simply creates market confusion with the brands. Unfortunately without the words, it is harder to discuss why certain policies widen the gap between rich and poor while others bridge the gap. Without a word "liberal" it is difficult to discuss how some policies increase the intrusion of the state while others lead to greater freedom.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

'Tellygent Design on the Horizon

Looks like the Utah Senate Majority is preparing a statement on teaching evolution.

Personally, I don't expect much. The modern push for Intelligent Design is primarily a Baptist cause. It is not an LDS cause. My guess is that the Senate Republicans will draft up an "enlightened" statement that basically approves of the Utah Departments of Education's decision to teach evolution, but with enough of a pro creationism twist to sound well rounded.

In Utah, there is a LDS Ward next to every single public school. LDS children leave the public school for religious education. There is zero need to modify the public school curriculum because this second school system can counter anything taught in the public schools.

Anyway back to ID.

Give the Creator Credit

My understanding is that the basic argument of the guy pushing intelligent design is that he sees the hand of the divine creator in gaps in the current data set used by biologists.

The ID argument is a little like Plato's cave. The author of the intelligent design theory is saying that he has exited the cave and now has a special knowledge and can see the hand of the creator in the gaps of the creation.

If I believed in intelligent design, my thoughts would be different. My thoughts would begin with a perfect creator. A perfect creator would not be so daft as to leave gaps in the fossil record. A perfect creator would have created a perfect fossil record that indicated a complete evolutionary history. As such, there would be no gaps in the fossil record that shows the hand of God.

Give the creator credit. Trying to point to unknowns in our current understanding of evolution to show divine intervention is an insult the creator. A divine creator would not leave such telling marks on the design.

The existence of non-existence of a divine creator would not affect evolutionary theory.

Personally, I doubt the Utah Senate will be silly enough to over turn the Utah Board of Education's commitment to teaching evolution. The Mormon view, after all, is that the God of earth really is not the ultimate creator. He is more a proprietor. Our God lives on the Planet Kolob (the central office of the Celestial Kingdom). The earth God acquired our planet some three thousand years ago. The earth is a staging ground for new Gods. Those who follow Joseph Smith are saints on earth and will be Gods themselves in the Celestial Kingdom. The rest of us get scrapped in some pit somewhere.

This polytheistic view of a celestial kingdom really leaves the creation of the planet itself as a minor event. The matter of real importance is one's position in the political hierarchy. One's position in the political hierarchy determines the size of the planet you get in the here after.

Evolution v. Intelligent Design would not be that big of a deal in the LDS theology. For that matter, the Mormons I've talked to on the issue pretty much agreed that God was given the earth pre-created. God's whole goal with the earth is the separate the righteous from the trash. (Me, I am part of the trash.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Night of 1000 Dinners

Last night, I attended the Salt Lake Night of A Thousand Dinners. This event raises funds for Adopt*A*Minefield ... a project by the UNA and UN to remove landmines from war torn regions of the world.

At the moment, Adopt-A-Minefield is one of the stellar lights in the UN's portfolio. The various efforts to remove landmines and to provide prosthetics for people who've been injured by mines is one of the most visible and notable efforts of the international community.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Museum of Western Colorado Tower

This picture is from the observation tower at the Museum of Western Colorado in Grand Junction. The tower is about 5 stories high. The clerk at the museum suggested taking the elevator ... taking the stairs was much nicer.

Unfortunately, it turns out that I am a dufus. I left the battery charger for my new Nikon camera in Salt Lake. I took these photos with my old DC240 camera.

I was surprised to learn that few Grand Junction locals visit the museum. I would thought locals would be walking up and down the stairs for a quick stretch of the legs. In Salt Lake, you will often find people walking up the steps of the library during their lunch breaks.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Cisco, Utah

Cisco, UtahHere are some pictures of charming Cisco, Utah. Cisco is just south of I70 about 50 west of Grand Junction.


Looks like Spyware companies have started doing their dirty work at the Winsock layer rather than at the application layer. The most notable company using this technique is ShopAtHome.com. I suspect other spyware companies will start doing the same. Thieves have the problem that other thieves are always stealing their ideas.

I've wondered how long it would take the thieves of the internet to make the leap from manipulating cookies to actually changing packets in transit.

I wish I knew which spyware removal program to recommend. The last time I recommended a program...it turned out that Spyware removal program was simply a host for more spyware. Spyware companies are always upset at the slimely tactics of the companies in the spyware business.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Neff Creek Canyon

Voici, des images de Neff Canyon.

Neff Creek is a canyon near my folk's house. I usually take the main trail up the canyon. For this photo session, I decided to take a quick walk up the south fork. If you are will to do some exposed scrabling (a rope and the company of an experienced mountain climber advised), you can get to the top of Mount Olympus from the south fork of Neffs.

I took these pictures in early October. I keep finding faults with the migration of Protophoto.com to its new server. This is delaying me from adding new pics.

Back to the canyon. I first visited Neff's Canyon when we moved into Salt Lake. In the 70s, I recall the south fork being filled with this beautiful loamy loose soil. There were abundant flowers in the soil. Unfortunately, just visiting the area was causing great harm to the fragile eco system. As much as I loved the south fork area, I stopped visiting it because I did not want to be part of the problem. Anyway, during the last several decades, most of the soil has been washed away. There still a magical forest in the rock soil, but few new trees. This, my friends, is called desertification. The little Alpine areas just outside Salt Lake Valley are systematically becoming part of the Great Salt Lake Desert. Ferguson Canyon is currently undergoing the last stages of degradation. When the last of the nature is gone, it will be a good place for a condo.

BTW, Neff houses the deepest cave in the US. I understand that the cave is shut off to spelunkers. While making the Neff Gallery, I was thinking that an effort should be made for a robotic exploration of the Cave. The old caving reports said the cave had crappy unstable sides, a robot attached to a long Cat 5 wire just might be able to do a charting of the cave with only a minimal disruption of the soil.