Archive: May, 2004

Drunk on alcopops

posted by Jeff | Saturday, May 29, 2004, 7:21 PM | comments: 3
There was an interesting article in Business 2.0 about "alcopops," the sweet beer alternatives that have been all the rage the last couple of years, but failed to deliver. The summary is that everyone and their brother released one of these things, they didn't differentiate from each other, and frankly, few were any good.

That made me think about Zima, which came out a full ten years before most of them, and sold pretty well at the time. Heck, I remember in 1994 they had a Web URL on the back of the label, one of the first commercial Web sites. Clearly at the time, they knew how to get to their audience. Zima was good for me my junior year of college because I could cart it around in the dorm, as an RA, because I could pass it off as Sprite.

"Girl beer," as I like to call it, is generally pretty lame, and as the B2 article explained, none of it was very good. Interestingly enough though, Zima has re-branded itself with a couple of variations. Zima XXX is stronger (5.9% alcohol) and comes in lemon-like, black cherry and orange.

Even though most other alcopops I tried sucked, I thought I'd give it a try, the black cherry. Well fuck me, it's pretty good, and you can't taste the alcohol. I'm generally anti-girl beer, but this shit's pretty good. Who knew?

It remains to be seen if they can stand out and send a clear marketing message, but the product ain't bad.

Self-employment: Week 1

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, May 25, 2004, 6:34 PM | comments: 3
Since quitting my job last week, I can't tell you how liberated I feel. Aside from some final pay issues to deal with, I really feel like I'm living on my own terms.

I didn't do much of anything Monday except take a walk in the morning with Stephanie and do some grocery shopping. Other than that, I took it easy all day since I've not really had time to chill since January. Today I got back to writing the book, a process now made more official since the publisher sent me the right Word templates and a time line. Oh, and I have an ISBN number! Bummer that I won't see it in print until next spring, but hey... I'm writing a book and that's pretty cool.

I'm glad to see that there's another VS 2005 build going out this week, although it seems like it isn't that necessary with the beta allegedly in the works for next month. The more I play, the more I love it. I'm torn between starting to build stuff and understanding the new features well enough to write about them. I'd like to do both at the same time, but if I do that, my deadline will be upon me and I'll have no book!

With the AdTech conference going on, we keep hearing about the rebound in Web advertising, which is welcome news because that's what's paying my mortgage right now. CoasterBuzz and PointBuzz are both getting nice traffic. Yeah, pop-ups are annoying, but my audience doesn't seem that annoyed because they keep coming back (that and on CB you can buy a membership that kills all ads). I look forward to the inevitable shift to traditional ad formats when IE ships with a built-in pop-up blocker.

uber:ASP.Net is suffering from neglect. I need to get back in gear with that now that I have time. I'd also like to build some kind of volleyball site for kids, parents and coaches in high school or Junior Olympic ball. That one won't ever make much money, but it's something I'd enjoy doing.

That's what I'm up to. More of the things I like to do, and none of that dread that comes from getting up to go to a place I don't want to go.

Today is the day...

posted by Jeff | Friday, May 21, 2004, 10:13 AM | comments: 1
Today is the day that I voluntarily quit my day job.

Today is the day that I accept the financial risks of working for myself and take a real stab at making it work.

Today is the day I can begin concentrating on my ASP.NET book so that it's finished on time and doesn't suck.

Today is the day that a job and The Man no longer place constraints on me that keep me from doing what I really want to do in terms of professional development, personal time, diet and exercise.

Today is the day that even my “hobby” sites can be something that is better than the rest because I can devote proper time to it.

Today is the day where I don't have to dread Monday, because Monday I'll be working on my own terms.

Today is a glorious day.

ABS is cool

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, May 18, 2004, 10:00 AM | comments: 2
Today some asshole in a giant SUV that I couldn't see around wasn't paying attention on I-271 and skid/swerved all over trying to avoid the stopped traffic in front of him. He went right, fortunately I could go left in the shoulder. Fucker nearly caused a crash.

What was neat about this incident is that my car, the Corolla I bought a couple of months ago, has anti-lock brakes. It's the first car I've had with ABS. While the idiot in the big, causing-gas-to-be-two-dollars SUV nearly lost control, I was able to steer clear without ever skidding. That's pretty cool.

I know there has been a certain amount of debate about ABS. Some people who drive professionally, racing or otherwise, say that it removes a certain amount of control from their driving, because they expect the deal with the car and the physics involved with a skid. I can certainly appreciate that, because that's how I feel about driving in show. I know what braking and steering will cause the car to do, and it's what I expect.

Still, this was kind of neat. I hate that drive... and things like this make it worse.

End of another volleyball season

posted by Jeff | Sunday, May 16, 2004, 9:05 PM | comments: 1
We had our last tournament this weekend to end my fourth season as a J.O. volleyball coach. This one is hard to let go of because it was easily the sweetest bunch of girls I've ever had. I never had any conflicts with them, they never had significant issues with each other and overall they were just great kids.

We ended up somewhere in the middle third of the 17 open ranks. I would've loved to have been higher, but this was the most competitive year I've seen yet. We had something like ten (out of 29) teams qualify for nationals. Really tough region this year.

Regardless, every kid ended better than they started, and I expect they'll be well ahead of their teammates on their high school teams. They embraced and executed my offense really well. My setter is easily the best I've ever coached, and we got to be pretty close. Kind of like a little sister.

Good times though. I'll take away a lot of great memories from this season.

Launched a new site last night!

posted by Jeff | Thursday, May 13, 2004, 9:36 AM | comments: 4
Finally, Walt and I launched PointBuzz last night. The premise is simple: I don't have the desire to maintain a ton of content, and would rather write code, while Walt likes to produce content. So we combined Virtual Midway and Guide to The Point into PointBuzz.

I'm excited about it. I can't take a ton of credit for it because Walt's the insane one to cover everything at Cedar Point. What I find neat is that the underlying code is serving data so damn fast. Really top notch!

The demise of TechTV. Good thing they didn't get Disney.

posted by Jeff | Friday, May 7, 2004, 9:55 AM | comments: 2
The mental giants at Comcast bought TechTV, now they're going to close it. How fucking stupid is that?

I don't pretend to know the financials of the network, but I can't imagine it was that bad off. Even if it was, I'd love to here the logic behind buying it, closing it, and trying to divert the audience to a gaming network. That's the single most stupid thing I've ever heard of.

TechTV was finally establishing itself as a brand. It's filled with a lot of young, smart and interesting personalities that people enjoy watching. It's also the TV home to the tech media's good guy, the face of TechTV, Leo Laporte. Now we'll have a gaming channel at 273? Who the hell wants to watch that?

Congratulations to Paul Allen for building something up, cashing in (as if he needed the money) and watching it get torn down. If this is the kind of brilliance that Comcast has, thank God they won't get Disney.

It's a damn shame. I'm going to miss Leo, Patrick, Jessica, Sarah, Kevin, Yoshi, Foo, Cat, Morgan, and yes, even Adam. What a damn fucking shame.

Dido sure is cute

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, May 5, 2004, 7:46 PM | comments: 0
A few months ago I picked up the new Dido album on iTunes, because previewing it, it seemed like good chill-out music. That it is. Good for chillin' out the J-Pizzie.

So on iTunes today they have the video for "Don't Leave Home." Damn... I had no idea she was so cute. I mean like obtainable cute. (And I assure you this isn't one of my low standards episodes that Steph accuses me of. ;)) It seems rare that the really good singers and songwriters are also cute. Her appeal though is that she's not model or movie star cute. She's girl-at-the-mall cute. Obtainable.

Blogging for an audience

posted by Jeff | Sunday, May 2, 2004, 7:32 PM | comments: 4
Stephanie mentioned that you sometimes read blogs that are clearly written for an audience, and how that can be annoying. I've watched that go on for a couple of years as online journaling has become more popular.

I suppose that people do what they want to do, but it's so transparent when someone makes a post that is clearly intended to be read by someone, perhaps because they don't have the wrinklies to say what they mean directly to the person's face.

That's one thing the Internet has been generally good for in some cases though, at least enhancing communication. I look at how high school kids now have a couple more "safe" avenues to communicate (e-mail, IM), and it's probably a good thing. The only negative is that some kids are even bigger social retards when it comes to real life human interaction.

Me, I tend to just write whatever's on my mind. I admit that I've written stuff that might be read by people I'm talking about, but generally it's not anything I didn't already tell them directly.