Prognostications and other thoughts

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Golden Age of Autos-with a catch

This is truly the golden age of autos. If I had unlimited cash, I'd buy:


Sedans- used 740i with James Bond wheels

- audi a8 long wheelbase
- Aluminum bodied Jag XJ long wheelbase w/supercharger
- used Audi RS6. Too bad prices aren't plummeting
- (very) used Ferrari 400i

Commuter Cars
- used M3 coupe
- new lotus exige
- mini sport
- pontiac solstice. Damn they look great
- Cadillac XLR convertible. The new batmobile


SUVs

- Grand Cherokee SRT-8
- Trailblazer SS
- 06 Chevy Tahoe

White Trash Weekend
- new little hummer H3
- new toyota FJ
- Jeep Commanche pickup with 4 litre 6

Wagons
- E-class 500
- Audi allroad with 4.2 or Audi S6 (with aftermarket wheels)


Rallye Cars
- WRX subaru
- Mazda speed 6

But let's drill down. I have been having bad, bad thoughts about the Grand Cherokee SRT-8.
0-60 in 4.7 seconds? What appears to be very good handling? But it will obviously have piss-poor gas mileage-they don't even post the mileage. Plus, the Grand Cherokee disappoints with cramped rear seat room and a trunk that isn't as big as I'd like. But it looks f'ing cool, handles, and hauls ass.

Similarly, the Chevy Trailblazer SS
is BAD ASS looking. It has a corvette powertrain ferchrissake!

Then there is the GD Dodge Challenger

This being said, would you touch a GM or Ford product? Daimler-Chrysler is the only US car company I'd touch; drive a Charger and you'll see--very impressive; an Audi with low end torque. Speaking of Audi, their new lineup (with the exception of the A3) looks like shit. What a bummer.

Conversly, where the hell are the hybrids? Ford and GM are staring at the end of US dominance, and doing virtually nothing. Toyota is teasing us with solid bets (prius, Highlander). But I want a Land Cruiser with the 268 hp hybrid powertrain, 500-1000 pounds in weight reduction--I can sacrifice rock crawling for efficiency, pneumatic suspension, and a handling package a la the SRT-8. Is that too much to ask?! I just want 20mpg in an suv...

On a side note, European Car just had an article saying GM (with it's controling stake in Fiat) will be importing the Alfa Romeo Brera in '07. Gad-what to do. Simply looks cool and will handle well--but is slower than the competition and isn't practical for shit. The other amazing thing they are doing is repurposing the Corvette drivetrain in Cadillacs, Trailblazer SS, and Holden (er) Pontiac GTO.

Bottom line: I guess this is why we all love cars. They are never perfect.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Yahoo-brace yourselves

Argh.

This article was partially taken out of context. And Sue Decker is probably too honest at times.

This article and subsequent press backlash, could do serious short term damage to Yahoo as a company, similar to the beating that George Bush is taking for privacy violations (among other things).

What the article fails to mention is that Yahoo is INVESTING in improving search monetization AND, unlike Google, has diversified it's businesses and revenue streams to be a top growth company in the long haul.

Again and again, I am amazed at "the press"'s desire to sensationalize to sell more. But they don't well-represent prudent decisions and efforts that are designed for the common good.

Predictions: You Tube

I predict that this company, YouTube will be bought in the next 3-6 months.

They've done a great job at centralizing video content on the web.
And though the content is rife with "adult content" they have pressed on and the offering is expanding into content that is sensational for more than just base urges.

Plus they are powered by the founders of Paypal, folks who are experienced with dealing with the underbelly of early adopters (read: porn) who are actual pioneers in commerce and content exchange. You have all probably heard the stories that porn pioneered the success of the VHS and, later, Internet payment. When demand is great, innovation comes quickly.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Gross Hyperbole

From this article.

Yahoo! Gets Crushed
Yahoo! took a vicious thumping Tuesday after posting a mediocre fourth quarter.

The stock plunged 12% as investors fled tech following a big miss at Intel fell 7%. Even Google was drawn into the postclose bloodletting, shedding 3%

Of course they are paid to do this, but this seems way too overstated.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Dinner with George Bush at the White House

This is a creative writing idea. Strictly fictional, but I am trying to humanize the President. Not sure if this is worth the effort, but should I continue this? Do you want to see more "chapters"?

Here goes:


Dinner with George Bush at the White House

It’s 6:30 PM. The world, according to the government, gets off work at 5PM and is, therefore, at home, watching the news, and available to hear the occasional State of the Union Address, on time, and at home.
(Most people I know work until at least 6:30-7, and don’t get home until 7-7:30. It stands to reason that presidential addresses should occur when most people are available.)
In any case, by 6:30, our President and His Staff have all turned in their day’s work, and have already started the cocktails. For today is an unusual day. One where George and his most trusted staff members retire to a quiet meal alone. But you thought the president doesn’t drink? Of course he doesn’t drink to excess any more, but among his close knit, this is part of the ancient tradition that isn’t questioned or judged. The attendees this evening are:
George Bush, President, turning 60 this year.
Condeleezza Rice, Secretary of State, the youngest at 52.
Dick Cheney, Vice President, is 65.
Laura Bush, Our First Lady, is 56.
And, finally, Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, is 64 years old.

The room is intimate; there is a small but well-stocked bar and bookshelves with leatherbound editions, and Dick is taking his turn as “drink refresher”. His choice is scotch on the rocks, Glenlivet. “While I’m up,” he grunts, “may I do the honors? Laura, what would you like?”
“Well, you know, I am still partial to those pretty drinks, we call them MO-HEE-TOES. Do we have any mint?” she replies with a hint of her Austin Texas based drawl. Laura is not yet fully comfortable in this setting, but asserts herself as the “second most important person” in the room adroitly—-responding not with a simple request, but one that makes Cheney work harder than he had previously anticipated. She has called upon the code of chivalry-to help reaffirm that her husband is the big man in charge. In response, Cheney, by stroke of luck, discovers the sugar, mint leaves, and rum, within easy distance and recovers elegantly. “Coming right up, Madam”.
Condeleezza, sensing it is now her turn, pipes up “Richard, would you mind fixing me a ‘pepsi and rum’?” . Cheney shoots her a knowing grin, affirming their mutual awareness that Pepsi has now overtaken Coca-Cola for worldwide market share. With regard to her drink of choice, during her college stint at the University of Denver, she grew accustomed to drinking rum and has an able tolerance. Her rational mind insists that she must stay alert, so this is why she requested the coke and rum.

Cheney, hands now full with drinks for the Queen and the Princess, capitalizes on the chance to get out of his duties as bartender and presents the beverage to Laura, who has now found her spot on the “main couch”, cocked in an uncomfortable position on the end. “Why thank you, Mr. Vice President” she says with Monroe-esque flirtation. Cheney then swivels to Condelleezza, who sits upright, studious, and at attention, on the ornate yet hard chair that sits across from the coffee table that separates her and the First Lady. Condie simply says “Thank You”.
Cheney returns back to the bar, fetches his drink, and, somewhat exhausted by the exercise (compounded by ill health), retires to HIS favorite seat, a worn yet stoic leather chair. There is a surge of pain from his abdomen as the alcohol hits his belly and he winces slightly.

George, though portrayed as something of a dolt, is actually very aware and perceptive. He quickly thinks to himself, “Rummy doesn’t have a drink, and neither do I”. Rumsfeld is off in his own world, conflicted about something, looking over the books that sit in the shelves. So George steps over to the bar, twisting open his elixir of choice, a Grey Goose Vodka Tonic with a twist of Texas Lime. As he prepares his concoction, he blurts out to Rumsfeld, “Don, what’llitbeforyoutonight?”
Rumsfeld peers over his reading glasses, and says “Gin and tonic”.
Like a boxer, Bush does not retreat to THE COUCH with his wife, but strides across the room to Rumsfeld with importance, drinks in hand.

“We’re having steak tonight. New York cut, from the Angus on my ranch. No reason to eat chicken when we’ve got that damn bird flu”. Both Condeleezza and Cheney think to themselves, oh God, not steak again. Condee prefers chicken, and Cheney has just been told by his doctor, for the 15th time, that he needs to lay off red meat. As if on queue, the butler arrives.
“Please be seated, dinner will be served shortly”. In the kitchen, the cook, Pierre, who has served since Gerald Ford, is finishing up the preparations. Yes, the meat did come from Bush’s ranch. But it was harvested from a steer months ago. It was butchered by a disgruntled employee who dropped the steaks on the floor, thought about throwing them out, then changed course and decided, with a grin, to spit on them. These steaks have now spent the last day defrosting. It is prepared in the oven, baked until well done, the way George likes it. The spit, flavor and juice is all but evaporated. It is grey but sanitized and safe.

As the cadre assembles around the table, Laura sitting first, followed by Condeleezza, the rest plopping in, George reaches his hands out in prayer. Rummy rolls his eyes. Cheney closes his eyes (out of exhaustion and ill health, waiting, like a child, to dig in to the grub), while Laura and Condie comply.

George begins “To the good people of West Virginia, Louisiana, and Iraq…”

Just posted Yahoo Publisher Network ads

So-Overture, a company that was bought by Yahoo!, invented search-based advertising. That is, the little, context-sensitive ads, that you see everywhere in search results. Google copied the idea--and has made their fortunes on it. They call it Ad Sense. Google then syndicated this ad unit--so that anyone with any site or blog--could host these relevant ads on other sites, outside of Google. They call this Ad Words. Ad Words now makes up ~45% of Google's revenues. They "work" because they are extremely targetted, and the audiences are authentic and captivated.

Yahoo/Overture has been slow to respond; finally they have with a beta product called Yahoo! Publisher Network.
I was able to get on the beta list.

So let's do a side-by-side comparison.

- Ease of getting "qualified": Google wins because it's a launched product. +1 google
- Online application/completion of w-9 forms. These are forms to make sure you get paid, and to report earnings to the IRS. Yahoo! is easier, with fewer pages. +1 yahoo.
- Ad format. Yahoo!'s interface is easier to understand, simpler. +1 Yahoo!
- Relevancy of ads. This is to be determined. Look at this page; which ads are more relevant?

Currently, Yahoo! is ahead; 2 points to 1.

Monday, January 02, 2006

2006 Fitness Recap


This graph shows annual mileage since 1997 for triathlon training. Swim is in hundreds of yards, while bike and run are in miles.
2005 was a new record on the bike with 2,737 miles, 42 miles per week. Swimming was about average with 25,830 yards (487/week) but Running was way off average with just 288 miles (5.4 miles/week).

It was dicey, but managed to exercise at least once per week, something I've maintained since 1998.

Next year, hope to bump up the running and keep the riding to at least 2000 miles.

2006 Prognostications

What do you think will happen in 2006?
Check out the latest prognostications and let me know what you think.