“An adverb is a part of speech. It is any word that modifies any part of language other than a noun (modifiers of nouns are primarily adjectives and determiners). Adverbs can modify verbs, adjectives (including numbers), clauses, sentences and other adverbs.”—From where else?
My favorite line of this is the movie section: “The way it works is as follows. You rate the movies you have seen. Then the system finds other users with similar tastes to extrapolate how much the you will like some other movies. It is currently written entirely in Python.”
“OurBeginning, an online stationery e-tailer that launched its Web site only last April, is right in there with the big boys. So what if it has just 12 full-time employees and, according to Chief Executive Michael E. Budowski, has thus far racked up revenues of a little over $1 million? OurBeginning is paying to produce and air three pregame ads and a fourth spot to run during the game at a cost of about $4 million (plus $1 million for tech upgrades to handle the expected surge in site traffic).”—From this Business Week article, again in 2000.
Web Startup Blows 60% of Funding On Superbowl Ads.
"Computer.com, a hand-holding help site for novice computer users [ran] through 60 percent of its funding in 90 Super Bowl seconds.
I quizzed [the site’s co-founder] about the red-faced reactions he must surely get from investors as he seeks more funding.
Doesn’t cartoon steam shoot out of the ears of the blustering moneybags as they roar: “Kid, you just spent $3.5 million in less than two minutes. Why should I give you, of all people, any of my money!?”
Ford assured me that he’s met with no such open indignation: “They probably wouldn’t say it to my face,” he says.”
The weather is cold. But today most of the snow has gone and looking out my window I can see the first stems of grass revealing themselves in the park below my building.
Having been sick for half the time I’ve been here has held me back. I’ve felt like a robot most of the time. Eat, sleep, go to the office, eat, sleep. I was a shadow of myself this week which was frustrating. And while things buzzed around me, I was exhausted, lying on the couch with a nose full of tissues watching Jersey Shore reruns and a guy with dirty nails fail to find love on Millionaire Matchmaker.
I’m staying in Tribeca and my apartment overlooks Washington Market Park.
I’ve been walking everywhere, despite the cold. This is a good city for walking.
Walking gives me time to think and observe. And to take in more slowly my surroundings.
You don’t have to stretch far in New York to find someone whose achievements dwarf your own.
The second thing that’s struck me here is that if you’re not on your toes, then this is a place that’ll squash you fast. The safety net I feel exists in Australia doesn’t stretch as far and wide as it does in Australia.
As a trivial example of this, I couldn’t activate my phone through AT&T. So I called customer service, trying to speak to someone. After seven different numbers, three drop-outs, rude service operators and an endless loop of “Press 7 for more options” only to be repeated the exact same options again, I had to give up. It wasn’t until I Googled ‘how to speak to a customer service rep at AT&T’ that I found a number that got me through. And even then, it was the same ordeal of calls dropping out and an automated message 4 days later telling me they couldn’t fix my problem.
So I gave up.
It was an extraordinary experience to see just how bad customer service can be.
And all I was trying to do was activate $50 of phone credit.
I can’t imagine what happens at the edges of the systems of healthcare, insurance, litigation or public administration.
I think for most people, it would all be too much.
This place definitely has a higher proportion of sharks than I’m used to. Everyone, at some level is trying to gouge their little slice.
From the guy at Verizon (another Telco) who promised me there was only one AT&T provider in Manhattan (waaaayyy uptown, apparently) to the woman who directed me to my Terminal at LAX and then asked for a tip to the taxi driver who was all smiles and help until I paid the fare, at which point I was very much on my own getting my own suitcases out of the boot.
It’s all small stuff, but I think it’s representative of what happens on a bigger scale.
If you’re not careful, this place will swallow you.
Then there’s all the cliched things you experience here too.
Expensive fruit, insanely high rents for single digit square metre apartments, huge serving sizes, brash, rude, loud people, cream on everything and Spanish as a second language.
But for all that, it does feel like the centre of the world.
It feels like no matter how high your ambition here, there’s a structure to support it.
No-one’s sitting around taking pot-shots. It just feels like a lot of people sprinting as fast as they can to get where they want to go.
I like that. I love that.
I love the anonymity of this place. You can be whoever you want to be and you still won’t stand out.
I love the sense of possibility.
The sense that every moment you are one chance encounter away from opening doors to new worlds.
I like how thoughtful and pensive people are. How seriously they take what they do. How deeply they think about things.
In contrast, a number of times since arriving I’ve felt too shallow, like I don’t think enough about the how and why. I’ve felt out of my depth. I’ve felt underdone. Flabby. Unpolished.
I’ve been challenged. What do I believe in? Who am I, really? What do I stand for? When people push you towards your edge, you get a better sense of your outline.
I also think the USA is still the one place in the world where you can create something perfect.
It’s a place with the ambition to let people have a grand vision, the resources to allow that vision to be realised, the space for that vision to fail and a market large enough to support that vision if it succeeds.
There’s one place, strangely, that I’ve felt that more strongly than anywhere else.
It’s Whole Foods. Whole Foods is big business doing good. It’s a supermarket that you walk into, a vast, beautfiul space with people who treat you well, with food and products that do the same, a place that reward shareholders and suppliers and consumers equally. A place with the world’s tastiest granola, chicken soup and raspberry-flavoured oranges.
It’s the free market’s perfect creation.
And I think there’s no other place than the USA where something so complete could exist.
It’s weird. It’s trivial. I know.
But it’s been my recurring thought all week.
And it’s the thing that draws me here. The possibility of that perfection, that greatness.
In my mind the most brilliant feature of the site is the five dollar signup fee. Haughey explains the rationale:
It’s mostly just putting a huge hurdle in front of having to deal with new users. ‘Cause it’s such a pain. The last ten years have shown that any time there’s press, like the New York Times writes something about us, 300 people sign up and then wreak havoc for a while, and then go away. [Without barriers to entry] it would just be a nightmare.
I admire MeFi, but I don’t like it. Not because of its business model - that’s one of the things I admire, it’s a very stable way to run stuff. But because of its culture, I guess. Every 12-18 months something on a site I run gets MeFi’d, and it gives us a nice traffic spike, and I go and read the thread, and it never tells me anything interesting or new - there’s maybe two or three postings I’d have been glad of sitting in the comments boxes rather than over there on the MeFi thread.* In fact every MetaFilter thread gives me the same feeling: here are a bunch of smart people who already know what they think about things. There’s not a lot of dialogue there, not a lot of members buzzing off each others ideas, changing their minds, getting excited. There’s a lot of people posting settled, defensible, polite, non-stupid opinions. But I’ve never been surprised or stimulated by anything I’ve read on MeFi. Places it’s taken me, yes - it’s good for links! But for me at least it doesn’t add value to those links.
And this isn’t a function of its old age: it’s always been that way. I was a member (for all I know the login still works though I assume they purge ‘em) in 2000 or so and I never got much out of it then either. I think it’s more to do with when it was founded - it started in the late 90s I believe, as part of the successor generation of web communities after USENET basically collapsed under the weight of trolls and spam and idiots. I’d be amazed if the experience of USENET, or if not actually that then something similar, hadn’t informed MeFi’s ethos and design - let’s get all the good people together somewhere and make it hard to get in. It was the era when you had communities with ‘nursery forums’ and all that kind of thing, so MeFi was hardly the only one.
It’s essentially a suburban impulse - which has awfully loaded overtones as a metaphor but, you know, I’ve moved to the suburbs myself in real life, I LIKE suburbia in reality but maybe not online suburbia: so I’m not trying to damn MeFi, just work out why I personally never enjoyed it. But it’s hard for me not to see some of that in the attitude to new members - not the joining fee but the idea that new members are basically a pain in the arse, guilty until proven innocent.
A huge caveat: the vast majority of the Metafilter threads I’ve seen are ones on music, and it might be that music was a particular weak spot of theirs.
*no MeFi-er ever posts in the comments boxes of the stuff that gets linked, obviously.
Why picking your friends carefully will help you live longer, better.
I watched Dan Buettner’s TED Talk twice last night. His topic was lifestyles of longevity.
He talked about how to add more years to your life and life to your years.
He studied four communities with longer than average life expectancies to understand what they did differently to live longer. His study concluded that there were certain things these communities did that extended their lives.
I’ve summarised some of these below - but it’s well worth 20 minutes of your time to watch Dan speak it through.
The reason you wake up in the morning. People with long lives have a sense of purpose. Whether that’s purpose is to fish, to teach karate or to hold a great, great grandchild purpose is crucial for a long life.
Eat a plant based diet.
Genesis 1:29: Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.
One thing all the communities shared was a plant based diet. The more colourful, the better. This also meant that a high proportion of people had a garden which assumedly they used to grow plants to eat.
Tofu also came up as a good longevity food. I chose to ignore this fact.
Eat to 80% full.
Diets don’t work. Ever, in the history of the world. Rather than dieting, what these communities did was set up subtle nudges that regulated how much they ate.
The most important of these nudges was stopping at 80% fullness. Because the brain take 30 minutes to get the message from the stomach that it’s full, stopping at 80% allows you to eat the right amount.
From this, you might also recommend eating around a table with people as conversation slows the eating, allowing your brain and stomach more time to communicate.
It’s also important to use smaller plates and not to lay out the food like a buffet. The key was to put the serves on a plate and put the rest of the food away rather than just leaving it out to be mindlessly consumed.
No exercise plans.
Exercise programs fail all too often.
Being active, without doing ‘EXERCISE’ was the key for these communities.
In lieu of ‘exercise’ these communities were all active and avoided stagnant conveniences and shortcuts in life that promoted laziness .
Walk everywhere you can. Take the stairs. Hand-mix ingredients rather than using a beater.
A faith-based community.
Being part of a faith based community which met 4 times a month added years to people’s life expectancy.
Adventists took one day off a week and walked together. Switching off and taking time to slow down was crucial for adding to longevity.
By celebrating family, you spend more time together. This allows older generations to develop a closeness with grandchildren. This simple addition added years to people’s lives.
Drink a little, often.
Pick The Right Friends.
This was the most important factor. Whatever one does, it’s a community that will have the biggest effect. The Framingham Study shows the impact of friends. What your friends are, is a huge impact on who you are.
Pick your tribe carefully. Surround yourself with the right people. People who will share in their fortune and pick you up if you fall behind.
Pick people with all the traits listed above. Active people. People who value family and bring together multiple generations. People who eat and drink in moderation. People who like vegetables. People who walk and garden. People who take the time to slow down every day.
People who have an answer when you ask: “what’s the reason you wake up in the morning”.
“Used to be that when you would visit someone for the first time, you would scan their CD collection and their bookshelf. You would get an idea of the personality of your host their experiences and interests. These personal identifiers were conversation starters or at least access points to each other. Today, you almost never see a CD rack. Everything is ripped to the computer. And that’s a good thing. People have their collections shared, they have them streamed through Express networks throughout the house, they can shuffle endlessly and create a soundtrack of everything they like. But it is one less way I get to know you when I walk through your door.”—Big Spaceship | Think Blog - The Kindle and our Personal Identifiers (via iwc)
“Great business idea. But did you find a zealot to run it?”—
One of the interesting things about running an IAC company is that once a quarter you sit in a room with Jack Welch all day and talk about business. It turns out to be an incredibly healthy exercise to have to answer questions from a tough outsider every once in a while. The above question of his stuck with me from our meeting earlier this week.