Category: Meta

The Twitter Diet

I recently purchased the new Withings Wifi enabled scale. The scale is unique because it uploads your weight and body fat measurements to the Internet via wifi, and the measurements are accessible via a web page and iphone app. A new feature allows you to publicize your weight to twitter. It sounds completely stupid, but I thought it would be interesting to see if reporting weight via twitter would actually lead to weight loss.

For the next two months, I’m going to report my daily weight measurements via twitter. December is probably the absolute worst time to start a diet, but I need to get an early start. I have a very challenging cycling “vacation” at the end of March, and my current weight is the cycling equivalent of morbid obesity.

Withings WIFI scale

The marketplace for startup funding is something that has always fascinated me. Venture capitalists seem to behave like trendsetting hipsters trying to go to the next “it” club. Once the new “it” business plan is identified, VC’s will gladly fund mediocre startups that resemble or piggyback to “it” regardless of their potential for long term viability.

In the mid to late 90’s “it” was any business plan that involved e-commerce. You could write a business plan to sell dogshit online, and “it” would probably get funded. The Napster phenomenon caused a funding frenzy towards P2P startups, even though their potential for revenue was mediocre at best. The success of Myspace caused a funding boom for anything to do with social networking, even though that business model is extremely questionable. Today, the “it” trend is probably cloud computing.

Venture capitalists are like hipsters looking for the next “it” nightclub, but most of the time they end up with a bunch of “me too” companies that go nowhere, but get funded with buzzword laden business plans. Some of the most successful startups in the history of technology are boring companies in established markets.

Was there really anything exciting about Google? Search was already being done by 20 different players in the late 90’s. Search was boring. I’m surprised they didn’t get passed over in order for a VC to fund the next Pointcast screensaver.

The point is that some of the best startups are boring companies, that do boring things, in already proven boring marketplaces.

With all the health care talk in the last few weeks, I started to think how utterly broken the health care system is in the United States. I’m not a fan of the current proposals in congress, because they don’t go far enough. We really need to move to a universal single payer system.

Opponents of health care reform seem to like the current system. They refer to public health care plans as “socialized” health care. It recently occurred to me that there are lot of other “socialized” government services in the USA that should be reformed, using the brilliant HMO model. Here are few suggestions:

The “socialized” public education system is out of control. People without kids get taxed for education. We need to privatize education immediately, and auction off all the public schools to private companies. People with good jobs will get employer subsidized EMO (Education Management Organization) plans that pay for their kids to go school. People will not get to choose their school regardless of where they live. Participants must choose an “in-network” school, even if it means traveling far away from their homes.

Millions of kids will be unable to go to school, because their parents are unemployed or work at companies that don’t provide an EMO plan. Mental retardation and other developmental disabilities will be considered “preexisting” conditions, that will exclude coverage under all EMO plans. Sorry kids, but you can always get a job at Taco Bell.

The “socialized” road system is killing America. We should privatize all roads immediately. Under the new plan, all roads will be toll roads. Your employer will sign you up with an EZ-PASS system through your TMO (Transportation Management Organization) plan. You will only be able drive on roads covered by your TMO plan, so make sure you pick an employer with good coverage area. If you lose your job, you will lose the ability to drive on roads.

The “socialized” police system we have today is straight out of Soviet Russia. Effective immediately, all police services will be paid for via your CMO (Crime Management Organization) plans. When you’re the victim of a crime, the police will charge all investigative costs to your CMO plan. Your CMO plan will determine the amount of money paid for specific investigations. Pricey investigations like rape might not be covered under your CMO plan. When a criminal is put in jail, the cost of incarceration will be covered under the CMO plan. The time a criminal spends in jail will be determined by the quality of the victim’s CMO coverage.

Your employer’s FMO plan (Fire Management Organization) will cover the expenses of fire services. If you do not have FMO coverage, the fire department will let your house burn down, unless you pay in full upfront while your house is burning. The FMO system does away with the previous “socialized” firefighting system.

National Defense
Its hard to believe that the Republican party has been supporting nearly unlimited funding for socialized national defense. The entire armed forces should be privatized immediately, and citizens should be billed appropriately. You employer might have a DMO plan that will cover some of the costs. People who live in high risk areas, will be charged more, similar to how an insurance company manages risk. People who are unemployed and can’t afford DMO coverage will be expelled from the country immediately. We can’t have free-riders ruing the system.

Ten years ago, almost every small business created a website with the .com boom. Today, having a website is the bare minimum. Companies need to learn to embrace the web, or die. Its really that simple. Here are four basic moves that should be done by every business.

1. Create a Google Local Business Entry

People don’t use the yellow pages anymore, unless your customer base resides in a personal care home. Google’s local business center lets you register your business with Google. Its important to take control of the information rather than to let it fall to chance.

2. Start Blogging

If your company’s website does not have a blog, its outdated. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, blogging is a great promotional tool for all organizations. Keeping the blog fresh with desirable information can be a challenge, but the promotional benefits are enormous. The key to a good company blog is to create a sense of community. A sure fire way to get very little traffic is to just “hard sell” products or services via your blog. Nobody wants to read a bunch of press releases. Providing tips, news, industry trends, and the occasional product plug is the way to go.

3. Start Tweeting

Twitter is a great way to promote your business, and its free. Whether its promoting specials, industry news, recruiting, or just networking with existing customers, all businesses should have a Twitter account. Did I mention its free?

4. Create a Facebook Page

Facebook pages are free for anybody to create. At the very least it will result in a few web hits. Given Facebook’s skyrocketing growth, its import to have a presence.

Since Lance Armstrong’s comeback started earlier this year, he has embraced Twitter, blogging, and video blogging as means to communicate and interact with fans. A few weeks in to the Giro, Lance Armstrong stopped speaking with media, after the Italian press tried to vilify him because riders staged a protest on really dangerous course. This protest happened a day after a rider nearly died in a horrific crash.

Lance decided to cut out the middleman, and embrace new media as a means to disseminate information. Naturally, the mainstream media was not happy with the embargo. The major mainstream media outlets have a centuries old tradition of getting their asses kissed by those being covered. A New York Times writer published a snarky rebuke of Lance’s boycott yesterday. Quite ironically, it was in a New York Times “blog.”

Cycling is a sport that is poorly covered in the United States, so its easy to see why Lance would consider the press to be unnecessary. The New York Times sent Juliet Macur to cover the Giro. While Macur might be a gifted writer, she knows very little about cycling. Is it necessary for sports figures to embrace the media anymore?

Personally, I find Lance’s twitter feed and video blogs to be really interesting. Much more interesting than a lengthy media profile done by a journalist. There is certainly a need for good journalism, especially when it comes to controversial issues like performance enhancers. However; journalists need to accept twitter, and the fact that direct communication via the Internet is here to stay. Long gone are the days where major media outlets were the only method of disseminating information to the public.