Category Archives: friends

Did I forget to mention tenants and/or evil neighbors?

“Matt”: now looking at a house
“Matt”: *twitch*
“Alicia”: how are you going to buy a house with no savings? mom and dad?
“Matt”: probably not
“Matt”: mom said she would
“Matt”: as soon as dad paid her for the, “half of the goddamn business”
“Alicia”: hmmm. so that’ll be a while then
“Alicia”: are you serious about buying a house though?
“Matt”: If I can get the payments low enough
“Matt”: do you like paying rent to your landlord so his equity can go up?
“Alicia”: i like not having to deal with repairs, upkeep, taxes and insurance
“Alicia”: not worrying about earthquakes and floods
“Alicia”: not worrying about losing my house, equity and down payment if i have a bad patch financially
“Alicia”: and having money to put in an investment account
“Matt”: 😛

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Fun with forensics

My roommate gets some strange catalogs delivered to her work sometimes, but my favorite by far has been the Armor Forensics catalog. Check out the products list.

That’s right, you too can own a portable glue fuming kit, ballistics chamber, or umm…TranZport hood. Okay, that last one is just weird. But how often have you wished you had a odor perception inhibitor, or evidence bags for your officemate’s week-old turkey sandwich? The printed catalog is even better, with lab activities (for the kids!), electronics, photo documentation kits and more. If you’re a CSI junkie you should definitely go check this out.

WishRadar launches

WR logo

This week was the long-awaiting launch of WishRadar, a new service started by some very good friends of mine. At least it was long-awaited by me, because I hate keeping my mouth shut. If I were beta-testing your software you’d never know this because I will literally pick through every single thing on your entire site and send long bullet-pointed lists of improvements, which is how I know that their Privacy Policy says in part:

Think of us like a 100-foot huge, frickin’ sweet robot with flame throwers that is totally way cool, and only does things you ask it to, because you have the remote control. The robot can’t go off and destroy cities, or fight Voltron, or provide any information to Amazon.com or anyone else without your permission, because you are the only person the robot obeys.

It’s nice to see Jason using that law degree.

As you might be able to tell from the name, WishRadar is a tool designed to work with your wishlists. It’s not social software, the social components are there but designed to play a supporting role. It’s not a site for sharing recommendations or personal opinions either; you can see what other people have on their public list but since it’s all stuff they don’t have yet their opinions may be suspect. It’s not about designing a new shopping process or what movies your ex-girlfriend liked or who’s got a new CD coming out this week or what the kids are wearing these days. It’s all about the acquisition, baby. It’s getting what you want for less.

There are plenty of things that Amazon does really well already, that fall under the the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” rule. For web developers, that rule might be reworded as “if it isn’t necessary to build a separate walled garden, don’t.”

  • User reviews. Amazon has a huge database of reviews supplemented daily, and their “Real Name” program basically certifies it as legit.
  • Recommendations and lists. The recommendations are created using a combination of your past purchases/wishlists/views and what other people with similar purhases, etc. liked, spiced with a dash of marketing eeeeevil. It works. The lists have that unique human touch (read: freakiness) that makes them such a great way to find, say…stories about figs, if that’s what you want.
  • Purchasing and shipping. With one click check out, supersaver shipping, etc. you don’t have to think about it, even when you’re buying from some tiny marketplace seller and not actually from Amazon.

I don’t know about you, but if I want something and I like the price I tend to buy it immediately. If I can’t afford it or don’t think it’s worth the price I add it to my wishlist, where it disappears forever. My wishlist has been the graveyard where products go to die, I have no idea if the price drops or it’s discontinued and I only think of it when I add yet another thing I’m not buying.

WishRadar leaves Amazon to do all the stuff it’s already good at, and takes over where it does less well. See something you want, but not willing to pay the price? It turns Amazon into Priceline: set whatever price sounds good to you and it’ll let you know when your target is reached. For those who just can’t wait, it also turns Amazon into a mobile price comparison service you can use from your phone (without a data plan!) and updates your wishlist while it’s at it. It also lets you import more than one wishlist, watch other people’s, and get it all delivered to your inbox, feedreader or phone.

I’m guessing you can see why this would appeal to me. I think it’s super-cool and handy as hell, though I’m not exactly impartial. See for yourself, or just subscribe to Jonathan’s massive ode to coveteousness to keep your indie rock/web dork/modern design references current.

Okay, yum

The barbeque last Sunday was awesome, thanks to everybody who came out. So much food we had to construct emergency tables out of sawhorses, futon parts and nightstands to hold it all, and it was gone by the end of the night. Jamie manned the strawberry margarita station like a pro, Tim sweated over the coals, and I did my best with my Muddlin' Stick (trademark pending) to keep up the supply of mojitos. It was a ton of fun, we'll have to do this again soon.

Speaking of summer dining, the LA Times' latest article about Thomas Keller has me thinking "road trip!" The article is here, but since it'll disappear behind a pay wall soon I'll sum it up: Keller will open a down-home American restaurant in an old barn in Yountville for six months, kind of an American version of his French bistro restaurant Bouchon. It'll be called Ad Hoc and will be open in six weeks, serving a set menu of dishes like beef stroganoff and fried chicken with salad, cheese and dessert for about $45. After six months it will metamorphosize into Burgers and Bottles, a hamburger and red wine joint.

Six weeks means mid-July, which coincides with the summer wine touring season and the usual hordes invading wine country on the weekends. I'll tough it out if anyone else wants to go…

Whooops, wrong link. Fixed now.

D-Ballin’

Thank you Jonathan for writing that dodgeball post I've been meaning to get around to since SXSW. It was really invaluable, even more so than at home. I was reminded of the first vacation I took with cell phones, and the relief of not having to pre-plan every tiny detail and sync watches and whatnot. Ahhhhh.

I'm so pleased I won't even tease you about the two year old photo or gripe about the click through (much). 

A couple Flickr links

Buzz's portrait of me, rocking.

Portrait by Buzz. This may be my most favorite photo of me ever. He’s got some other good pics of SXSW, check out his stream.

See also most randomest meetup ever, taken a day after Andrew and I met and about 30 seconds after we realized we’ve known each on MetaFilter for years. Bizarrely, the next photo is of a friend of his who happens to be from my hometown (only the second time I’ve met someone from there since I left).

In Memoriam

RIP, sweet titanium. You shall be mourned.