Monday, August 29, 2005

I'm calling it first: iTunes + Pandora = music perfection!

I just discovered Pandora this morning when reading TechCrunch, but I'm already wondering why it took this long to show up. Pandora is an idea so simple, and yet so amazing, it is incredible that it took this long to come out.

To try and explain it would be a disservice to Pandora. What each of you need to do is go over to Pandora and enter in a song or artist you like, than just continue working while Pandora operates in the background. After you realize you've been listening to great music you've never heard before, stop, go here and pay these genius' the reward they are due.

I know it may sound like I'm paid to plug their service, but honestly, not since the iPod has a product changed the way I listen to music so dramatically.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

New Blog

I know that posts have been off lately, and that they have been mainly limited to work related items, but I have good news. I'm happy to anounce a new blog: Insurance Resource. What I want the blog to become is a two-way conversation on trends in the employee benefits industy. I will continue posting peronal items about Tascha and I to this site, so continue to check back or subscribe. With the new blog I'll be able to better focus on personal happenings here, and work related items.

See you over at Insurance Resource

Friday, August 19, 2005

Aetna publishes prices of doctors for members to use.

Aetna has announced that they are going to post doctor's charges for common services in a pilot program in Ohio, Kentucky & Indiana. This is great news, with this tool consumers will be able to better estimate their costs and weigh the benefit before stepping foot in the doctor's office.

I'm not saying that people should shy away from much needed medical care because of rates, but if you have two doctor's with the same competence level consumers should be able to go online and see which one is more price competitive. As an example, Ford and GM both make great trucks, some consumers will choose only on brand (the doctor's reputation and hospital are his brand), while others will weigh price and features. At least now Consumers will have the same power when making health care decisions that they have when buying a truck!

Monday, August 08, 2005

New York Law creates online list of drug prices - Law creates online list of drug prices

Great news on the consumers front! If we could only require insurer's to disclose what they pay for services we'd really be on to something.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Wired News on changing the way Journalism is taught

Wired has a great article on the changing face of news channels, old hat to most of us but still well written and points out something I've been saying for awhile, Newspapers aren't loosing readers they are just seeing them move online.

Found through Corante New York, a great site I somehow missed.


Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Headlines don't matter anymore!

With the adoption of RSS readers picking up steam, titles no longer matter. When you are a webmaster running a newspaper website, your job is to capture as many eyeballs as possible, so you need catchy headlines, and lots of them. With RSS, the people that want to read your stuff have subscribed to your feed, there is no longer a need to draw these people in, now your job is to provide the service(content) that the reader originally subscribed for. That means you need to display the whole article in your feed! We use RSS readers to minimize the number of websites we visit, if I wanted to recieve your headlines I'd sign up for your email newsletter. If you have to insert advertising into the feed to make some money, so be it, just don't try and lure me to your website when I subscribed to your feed so that I wouldn't have to visit your site as often!

Monday, April 25, 2005

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Back from Lake Chelan

We're back from Lake Chelan and our retreat at Wapato Point. What a great time, it felt so good to reconnect with old (and get to know new) friends. The weather was amazing and I can't think of a better place to spend a weekend.

This is the view from the beach near the house we rented, check out that water!
Another view from the beach at Wapato Point

Friday, April 22, 2005

Weekend in Lake Chelan

I'm off for our annual retreat, this year to Lake Chelan rather than Port Townsend. It's supposed to be almost 80 on Saturday so I'm not to upset about the change in locale. As you can see from the webcam, things are looking ok!

Lake Chelan webcam

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Wedding Update

We are working hard on the "two month stuff" that should've been done a while ago. We got the proof of our wedding invitations yesterday. The printing is being done by a great printer down in Oregon, Dominick's Quick Print. They sent us some great proof's as well as a strip with some variations on the colors we picked, which was great as we ended up choosing a slightly different color tone for the green background. Below is a screenshot of our invites.

Our Wedding Invitations

You can also check out our wedding site for some more info. I'm working on getting some more info up there today so check back often.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

New Business Cards!

Well, Thanks to the recommendation of many friends Insurance Resource Group now has some great new business cards! did a great job, these people shipped our order the same day we uploaded the design!



Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Access to the wireless network

To "leonotebook" all you need to do is ask, maybe we'll let you on the wireless network. But stealing signal is really not cool!

Touching base with the family...

I just realized that I haven't done a great job of using this blog for what I originally started it for...a way to keep family & friends up-to-date with my current experiences. So here is a start: Tascha and I are still working hard on the wedding. Things are coming along great, we spent most of last Saturday getting our wedding bands ordered. Mine is a really great Titanium ring that we think will be the right mix of "trendiness and classic style" and Tascha's we are having custom made from a good friend's dad who owns a jewelery design business in Bellevue. We were a little worried about the cost and complexety of having her ring custom made but David was great and really took care to explain the process and cost as well as time restrictions in order to make us feel better. We left feeling great about the whole process (except for the part with Tascha having to leave her ring there, we trust them not to loose it but Tascha misses it on her finger!).

Tascha has been substitute teaching dance classes for some of her friends who are busy preparing for CDT this week. It's been good for her to get some hours as the Nanny thing has been a little slow lately. My work has been going well, as most of you know I closed a fairly substantial case last month and things are looking good for a couple more this month.

I hope everyone is having a great week!

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Bubble 2.0?

Fred Wilson is talking about the bubble, not the last one...this one. Doing employee benefits for startups I can say this is something you just learn to live with. Many of the companies I am working with currently will be growing like crazy over the next couple of years. I think there is at least more scrutiny of the companies that are getting started. Read his post and let me know what you think.

Source: A VC: Bubble 2.0

Sunday, March 20, 2005

This is sick

This from the party that says we should have less government interference in our lives (or deaths). I hate this crap.

Taking the leap

I have always dreamt of taking a year off to be a bike messenger, I don't know if it's the riding or the sex appeal of it that draws me but I would love to do it sometime. This person did just that, he quit a job as a code jockey in order to pursue being a curier. I am truly inspired!

A Coder in Courierland

How to strike back at junk mailers

I love stuff like this!

Saturday, March 12, 2005

David Brooks does it again...

While politically we may not see eye-to-eye, his social commentary is spot on. Read this piece and pick up one of his books.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Online sources in research papers

There is a great post over on Fred Wilson's blog about his daughter running into some problems with using online sources for her papers. I love this part:

So The Gotham Gal told the school principal that she thought the "no Internet only bibliographies policy" was wrong. He came back with a very thoughtful response. He said the "instant gratification" (my words not his) of internet research was leading to "cut and paste" (again my words not his) reports and the reason he wants kids to use offline resources is that it forces them to take time and think and construct real reports.

Now that's a great point. He's right about that. I see it in Jessica's work to be honest. It's good, but it does feel a little manufactured.

I even saw that in some of my own work as using online sources became more acceptable at Seattle Pacific. I had to make a conscious effort to use offline materials in order to shore up the quality.

A VC: Internet Only Bibliography?


So how come when Apple sells iPods to 3% of the population they change the landscape of popular culture and usher in a new era of music, but when a Gallup poll finds that only 3% of the population reads blogs it's used as evidence that the blogosphere is being "overhyped"?

Yahoo! News - Gallup Probes Blogs, Finds Most Americans Have Never Heard of Them

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Sites about [not] spending money...

I stumbled across the above mentioned post this evening, and decided I would look into them and give everyone a quick link or two.

The first is FrugalGirl.

I like the conversational tone of the site, it really makes you feel like you're listening to a friendly discussion on spending, not the over the top "this is how to do it" approach.

Second is MyMoneyBlog.

This site is more oriented towards someone with a certain level of financial success (not one that is still stumbling out of school debt) that is looking to really make the commitment to take their saving and investing to the next level. In fact just looking over the first few posts I recognize many of the tips from my future (3 months and 7 days) mother-in-law.

Last we have Spending Wisely.

This seems to be the most philosophical of the group, with both some reflection and some tips. What struck a nerve with me is the post on the conflict between living simply and watching television. I think this is a great article that should be read by anyone who has a TV, it may seem like common sense but I encourage everyone to attempt all the tips listed at the bottom of the post.

I'm off to add the sites to my Bloglines account.

BusinessWeek about how much PC customer service sucks

This quick blurb on the BuinessWeek Tech Beat Blog talks about how messed up all the automated support is for PC companies.

I have been saying this to my clients (both insurance and tech) for awhile now and some of them are starting to figure it out. While I use a PC at work I really struggle to understand why more people don't use Apple products at home for their simplicity and ease of use. That said I think there is room in the marketplace for a PC company to use an Apple service approach. Gateway only failed because the service in their stores was as bad as calling their customer support line.

Tech Beat: Technology Blog on BusinessWeek Online

Monday, February 21, 2005

Paul Andrews: "Shortsighted Amazon blind to problems"

Paul Andrews has a pretty interesting article in the Seattle Times today about some concern over Amazon's customer service as well as the entire e-retail industry's service level. While I haven't used Amazon much I have never had a problem. Anyone out there want to share their stories, good or bad?

The Seattle Times: Business & Technology: Shortsighted Amazon blind to problems

Press release about survey

Chris Busch: City Approves $10,000 for Frog Branding

From my area of the world comes this news: "Agency OKs up to $10,000 for frog branding". Growing up near Milton-Freewater (MF) I am amazed by the progress this city has made in the last 10 years. While Chris is correct that you should concentrate on the underlying experience before you spend on the branding, MF has done so over the last few years and it's time they raise awareness of the changes that have taken place.

Friday, February 18, 2005

NY Times discovers Podcasting

Watch out, the Times has discovered Podcasting, and of course assumes no one has ever heard of it before. I suppose it works well to introduce it to the masses.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

University BookStore

This is hands down one of the greatest stores in Seattle. Kinda like going to an Art Supply store without feeling like you know nothing (at least for those of us like me that Don't know anything about art). I just picked up one of the Moleskine Memo Pockets and a couple of new pens this afternoon. I've always been such a sucker for pens.

Why Seth knows more than just Internet companies

Seth Godin's blog has some of my favorite commentary on the net. What I really appreciate is how easily his ideas can be ported over to brick and mortar, service industry jobs. One idea I'm working on will probably have nothing to do with the net for the first year and yet almost everyone of Seth's points here applies to my ideas. Finance and healthcare industries that have continued to operate offline should follow his principals if they want to remain competitive. His blog should be one to watch if you are involved in any type of entrepreneurial endeavor, online or off.

Wake up call for Napster

Here's what I don't get, everyone is getting so worked up about the whole Napster To Go roll out by simply jumping on the Apple vs. the World. What most people seem to miss is that people have had these types of subscription services available to them for quite some time and have still made their choice for Apple. Think about the book business, a medium that should lend itself much more to the subscription model then music and yet is dominated by a couple of large book SELLERS not renters. Why is this? because people enjoy owning things. As the writer in this The Register article points out, people see their media collections as part of their identity, not something they simply borrow. If the market was as ripe as Napster thinks it is Libraries would rule the book business, rather than simply serving the population that can't afford to purchase books.

I think the only real market for Napster could be the tween market that has limited cash flow and an ever changing music taste. If Napster could convince parents of this market that their kids will end up stealing music if they don't get them the Napster To Go service, they might have a hit on their hands.

I welcome any thoughts on this subject, feel free to coment below.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

A patch to patch the patch

Nevermind the obvious conflict of interest, do we really want Microsoft to be handling our anti-spyware efforts? I can't believe this is even news anymore, let alone that people are just rolling over and taking it!

Via elo.journal

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Which company has changed your life?

There is a great article over at The interesting quote:
Now, for the first time in almost two decades, there's a good -- great -- feeling attached to the Apple brand, a haze of optimism that is unlike the sensation we feel for all but the most cherished of consumer tech products. (There's Google, there's TiVo, and there's Apple: Can you think of any other company that has recently changed your life as you know it?)

I'm interested to see if there are any other companies out there that have changed your life like these? I don't have a Tivo because I don't have a phone line (how hard is it to figure out that the people who drop their traditional phone line are Tivo's target customer!), but the other two (Goggle & Apple) have definitely impacted my life. The only other technology that has had as great an impact is Blogging, and everything associated with it.

Day pass required for the full article.

Google Maps

Go to Google Maps and contemplate how Google changes every market it enters, and what that means for the online map providers! I was in a conversation just yesterday about how long it would be before Goggle stopped using Mapquest and Yahoo!Maps. Start the comparisons!

Thursday, February 03, 2005

iPod Shuffle a lead in for the Mini?

As soon as the iPod shuffle was released my fiancé was interested because of the lower cost. She has never wanted an iPod simply because she felt they were "too expensive", but now she is intrigued. The funny thing is that this led her to find that she would actually much rather have the iPod mini because of the capacity and look/feel. Interesting that as soon as she considered one of the iPods affordable she found that the useability of the others is something she really wants. I can see this happening with the Mac mini as well, where people will come into the store looking for a mini and walking out with an iMac.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Blockbuster gets nasty

Blockbuster has decided that since they are getting so much negative press about their "No More Late Fees" campaign(lies) that they are going to take the opportunity to shed all decency in their quest to have even more stores when Netflix and similar services finally takes them down. The sad fact is that if anything Hollywood stands the best chance of surviving the online and mail order services simply because it has the most knowledgeable staff. Now I know that isn't true of every store but I have never been to a Hollywood Video that I didn't have good interactions with the staff. Blockbuster, well that's another story.

Monday, January 31, 2005

File in the "oh my God" section...

There is a great post over at 3Martini about a recent study that basically shows that some high school students feel that the first amendment is to broad. I was just having a great discussion this evening about how there are things in this world that I don't want to see, hear, watch, etc. but that I am very glad people have the freedom to produce those things. Someone needs to explain to these students that we should strive to make positive changes in our society that helps reduce the occurances of things we don't like seeing in the media. Censorship is never the answer, just as hiding from something doesn't solve it.

Cool PDF trick

Lifehacker is showing a great tip that I'm sure most people already know about. For those of you like myself who are a little late to the party here's the deal. You can send a PDF document to and they will send you a text document in return. If you need HTML you can send it to and you'll get an HTML version of the document. Pretty cool hack that could come in real handy for altering documents that were never meant to be changed!

Via BoingBoing

Maybe Steve knows what he is talking about...

I agree with both Mike Masnick and Om Malik on the problems facing mobile entertainment. Maybe Steve was right when he stated that people don't want to watch video in little screens. What I don't think anybody is talking about is the fact the people don't always want to share what they are watching, Video is a personal experience for a lot of us and I don't think there are that many people that want to take the chance of sharing it with the world. Is it also that video, especially TV, is seen as a lesser form of entertainment than music or reading?

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Turnout Heavy Among Iraqis

Regardless of your political position, it is a great thing to see a nation willing to take its future upon itself. I hope that this is simply the start to a long future of independence for Iraq. The New York Times > International > Middle East > Bombers Kill 35; Turnout Heavy Among Shiites and Kurds

More about KitchenAid Mixers

so after my trip to Macy's today to do a little wedding registering, I think it is only a matter of time before KitchedAid starts actually selling the flame painted mixer. I can't believe the number of color options!

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Somebody has got to tell these people it's only a mixer!

Courtesy of Alton Brown, a Kitchen Aid worthy of a NASCAR sponsorship.

What ever happened to nice cooking shows like the Frugal gourmet?

Via Gizmodo

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


There are so many great blogs out there it is hard to concentrate on blogging as opposed to just reading the incredible amount of commentary that is out there. Getting lost in all of the opinion is too much fun.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Arts Funding should be just like music funding, the users pay for it.

Roger Downey on how Arts Funding is all screwed up. Wonderfully written and well thought out. I have been saying this for years, although not all together popular, the opinion is correct. But don't ask my Fiance as she is part of a different mind set

Seattle Weekly: Arts: Tough Love for the Arts by Roger Downey

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Has anyone had any experience with Squarespace?

Squarespace - Blogging Evolved I'm looking at this as a way to build a website for my consulting services. Has anyone had any experience with it, good or bad?

Friday, January 07, 2005


Dick Staub makes a Great point about how America lacks a middle culture. What I find amusing is that I am usually the one complaining about the middle America that I can't stand. Check it out: Dick Staub: Staublog - Middlebrow.