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Archive for June, 2005

Seattle Busmonster: Google Maps API now public

Wednesday, June 29th, 2005

Google has officially blessed their Maps API (in classic Google style, as a Beta) for public use by any non-profit website. They also reserve the right to include advertising on the map at any point. I’ll say it again: those are smart folks.
As soon as they can figure out how to sell it, Local text search + Adsense is going to be a huge revenue generator for Google. But wait until there are dozens of cool apps/sites out there built on the Google Maps API, all now serving up local ads on the maps! Cool app, relevant, and VERY valuable. Everyone wins–Google, the developers, the advertisers. Just brilliant from a business perspective. The hard part, methinks, is teaching the local plummer or mom-and-pop bakery shop to use AdSense.

And today I discovered a new killer local app built on Google maps: Bus Monster. This Seattle site will tell you the closest bus stop, all of the routes, and how far away (in minutes!) the bus is to that stop. Love it.

I may be late to the game, but I think I’m buying google stock.

This might be my last burrito post, ever

Tuesday, June 28th, 2005

It might also be my first, i can’t remember. It had been a goal of mine to review as many burrito shops as possible while I was living in San Francisco. I made good headway my first few weeks here, but have slowed down considerably. I was encouraged the other day, though, when I was walking through the mission and realizing that I had made impressive progress.

In fact, my friend Oliver (a former mission inhabitant), asked me to contribute/update his burrito reviews. I remembered that I owed him some contributions.

But today, I stood face to (cartoon) face with one who is much much much more devoted to this cause than I am. I therefore tip my hat to the Burrito Eater. I shall continue to enjoy my burritos, but without the added pressure of writing reviews.

The best hidden feature of GMail?

Tuesday, June 21st, 2005

In great design, it’s often the tiny features that count–the ones that make users really love the product.

Today, when I was replying to a GMail message I realized (while I was stilly typing my reply) that I had accidentally replied just to the sender instead of to everyone (as I had intended). I highlighted my reponse, copied it, and clicked on “Reply All” (instead of just “Reply”).

But I didn’t need to paste. The pane changed to Reply All and my reply text was all still there! (warning: don’t try that in Hotmail). Seriously, go try it. Intead of making me feel dumb, GMail just does the right thing. Beautiful. Smart. Those Google folks are good.

I am delighted. Like I said, it’s the little things.


My Friend Maya Rocks!

Wednesday, June 15th, 2005

I just picked up the WSJ and read a Walt Mossberg review that confirmed what Maya has been saying all along: MSN Spaces rocks. Rocks better than Blogger or the soon-to-be-released Yahoo service.

And, in case you didn’t know, I’m pals with Maya, one of the smarties who works hard every day making MSN Spaces rock. Maya tells me that lots of other smart folks are working on it, too, but I don’t know them. So I give all props to Maya.

Having been on the wrong end of a Walt Mossberg review, I know that securing his stamp of approval is no small feat–congrats to Maya and the MSN Spaces team!


I wish I had Photoshop talent

Friday, June 3rd, 2005

I would have loved to participate in this contest, which challenged Photoshoppers to dress up animals in human clothing.

Personally, I would have dressed a fish in a raincoat.

Too bad I don’t have Photoshop talent.


What kind of service collects a tip before actually performing the service?

Friday, June 3rd, 2005

Answer: a crappy one. It probably should have raised a red flag for me last night when the Super Shuttle (apparently a nationwide conglomerate of local airport shuttle services) tricked me into including the tip when, online, I reserved (and pre-paid for) a shuttle to the airport. They even had a button that said “15% tip” that was the same size and shape as a “Done” button. Like a putz, I pressed it. There was no “undo” button.

I had a 6 AM flight. The magic Shuttle Express algorithm online told me that they’d be here between 3:30 and 3:45 AM. Sucks, but I guess they know best. After all, they’re a nationwide conglomerate with a fancy online reservation system.

At 3:35 AM (yes, in the morning) this morning, I got a phone call from a nice woman telling me that the driver was rejiggering the order of pickups and he’d be at my place towards the end of my window or, at worst, maybe 3:50 AM. Not a huge deal, still in the window.

Now I have no idea what on earth their fancy algorithm missed that led the human driver to reroute his plans. But I’m annoyed because the guy didn’t get to me until 4:15. That means that I was awake a good 45 minutes before I needed to be and, at 3 AM, that matters! Does the fancy algorithm not actually do anything “smart”? Or does it just not account for the fact that there is NO traffic at 3 AM? Most importantly, can I get my tip back??

And I haven’t quite gone to sleep yet, so I’m tired now and feel fully justified in complaining.

Morale of the story: beware services that collect tips before rendering service. It screws with incentives and you’re more likely to get screwed.

Good night, I’m going to sleep and not setting the alarm,