EU Faux Pas in the USA

I used to work with a lot of Europeans and can tell you firsthand that Vincent Vega had it right in Pulp Fiction in explaining the differences in Europe… “It’s the little differences. I mean they got the same shit over there that they got here, but it’s just – it’s just there it’s a little different.”

Here’s a handy guide for all you EU ex-pats living in America. My favorite is:

Be aware too that most Americans are fascinated by the effects of anti-depressants, and will happily talk about multiple types of drugs and their benefits/side-effects with great interest and relish. If someone tells you an experience about their time on Prozac, ask something like “did it help?” and then share a similar experience of a time when you were really depressed.

Link via Instapundit

Schultz Warns of Brand Dilution at Starbucks

Hmmm, I seem to recall writing something to this effect recently. Actually, the real story here is how customers and employees who feel a strong bond to a brand are holding those companies accountable to the cultural values they espouse and thy name is blog. I admire Schultz for looking beyond the bottom line to highlight the meaning of the Starbucks brand. Clearly he has the luxury of doing so when his financial performance is as stellar as it has been, but good leaders don’t wait until problems materialize before addressing them.

Why Schultz has caused a stir at Starbucks – Financial Times – MSNBC.com:
Mr Schultz warned that the increasing ubiquity of Starbucks was making it more difficult to differentiate the company from competitors, including fast-food retailers.

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Architects and City Planners

There are two paragraphs in this article in the Chron that nicely sum up why San Francisco is architecturally stale as a result of conservatism among city planners and historical types who seem to suggest that the only acceptable structure in San Francisco is a 1907 Victorian. The newly constructed Federal Building on Seventh and Mission is drawing mainly positive reviews, except from city officials who probably are more tweaked about the fact that city zoning and planning regulations had no jurisdiction over the federal project and the feds pretty much told them to go pound sand when they complained.

When Mayne was selected in 1999, he was little known except among architectural insiders. No longer. Morphosis has completed a series of highly praised public projects and is now at work on a jazz center for New Orleans and a Paris high-rise that would rival the Eiffel Tower in height. In 2005, he became the first American in 14 years to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize, the profession’s highest honor.

However, the article begins by pointing out that city officials were not too happy with the design.

If they’d had a choice, city planners wouldn’t have allowed either the slab or the imposing design, because the complex sits across Seventh Street from the U.S. Court of Appeals building, a Beaux-Arts landmark from 1905. But city zoning doesn’t apply to federal projects.


So on one hand we have an internationally celebrated architect behind one of the most exciting buildings in SF, both from the architectural aspect but also for the engineering and use of eco-friendly materials. On the other are city planners who are on a mission to hermetically seal San Francisco structures from any modern influence…. and I thought SF was “progressive”.

The Transamerica building was scorned in it’s time too, but has since become a fixture that defines, literally, San Francisco’s skyline. I doubt it could be built today though.

Operator extension for Firefox

Operator is an interesting extension for Firefox that enables the browser to process select microformats.

Operator lets you combine pieces of information on Web sites with applications in ways that are useful. For instance, Flickr + Google Maps, Upcoming.org + Google Calendar, Yahoo! Local + your address book, and many more possibilities and permutations. All of these scenarios are possible due to Microformats, an emerging standard for injecting semantics into HTML.

For an example of how this works, check out the screenshot of Yahoo! Local, which supports hcard. The search results page returns the normal search results page, but because the results have microformat encoded data the Operator extension picks them up and enables the dropdown on the menubar which makes it possible for me to pass the data to the “handler” designated for that format, in this case my address book app.

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While the vcard and hcard formats are interesting, I actually found the rel-tag capabilities more useful because on any webpage I could drop down del.icio.us, flickr. and technorati menus prepopulated with tag data.

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This extension points to a future scenario where the browser is doing a lot more heavy lifting to move data from one web service to another. I would think it would be really useful to be able to take a browser window with a number of tabs open and move data from one to another based on the formats that are generated and capable of being consumed.

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Senators seek bigger stem-cell royalties

It’s taxpayer money, instead of “get rich quick” schemes the state should only require these research projects to pay back the original grant plus whatever interest is accrued on the bond supporting the grant. This is just one more reason why government should stay out of venture capital and more evidence that the stem cell initiative was a bad idea.

MercuryNews.com | 02/23/2007 | Senators seek bigger stem-cell royalties:
A bill expected to be introduced as early as today would require companies doing business with California’s $3 billion stem-cell institute to give the state a larger portion of their revenue than the institute has proposed.

More on this topic (What's this?) Read more on Royalties, Original, Venture Capital (VC) at Wikinvest

Google Apps Compete with Non-Consumption

Exactly, Phil nails it. As it was put to me at lunch today, “why should I pay for MS Office just to give to a retail clerk who is using it once a week to check their inbox?”.

» Google Apps Doesn’t Compete | Between the Lines | ZDNet.com:
Google isn’t competing with Office. They’re competing with non-consumption. That is, they’re enabling uses that don’t exist today. In this world, Office and Apps can live side-by-side and both succeed–no one has to lose.

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What exactly is a startup?

Business 2.0 is running a “25 startups to watch” feature and one of the companies is Rearden Commerce, which is a company that I am a legitimate fan of from their founding (what was the stealth name? “Just like TV”?).

Having said that, is a company with $100 million in funding that’s been around for 7 years a startup? I really don’t think so.

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