More California-isms

Well, not really ‘-isms’ and not necessarily only in California, but especially (meaning only) pertaining to roads and food, the only two things that really affect my life at the moment.

The roads and signs – crazy. Signs in weird places or behind trees are standard fare. In fact there are several places I can think of that actually have a sign to turn for a particular road ON the exit for the road, giving you zero chance to read it in time. Other interesting road and sign traits:

  • Not unusual for two streets with almost the same name to intersect.
  • The designation of “expressway” is meaningless. Roads designated as expressways have traffic lights, intersections, retail stores and maybe exits to get on or off.
  • Speaking of exits, it is not unusual for an exit to lead you to another road with exits, but you won’t know this until you’re on that road and really probably won’t know until you missed your turn.

Yes, driving has been fun here in CA.

Iin and Out signIn other news, I had some interesting fast food over the weekend. I started out with In-and-Out burger. I had this once before back in April and the results where the same. Good burger, OK fries. I opted for the strawberry shake and I’m sorry to say it was gross. I had to throw it away.

WienerschnitzelOK, here’s the big news. Many people are aware of my dislike for hot dogs, yet I actually ate at a Wienerschnitzel and it was pretty good. Of course, I didn’t eat any hot dogs. As I expected, they had a pretty full selection of non-hot-dog related food. Who eats hot dogs, anyway?

Noah’s New York BagelsFinally on food front, as native New Yorker, I had to try Noah’s New York Bagels. The verdict? I miss NY bagels.

In other news, My car arrived! I am no longer held captive by the rental car companies.


Yes, you heard me. I also went to the Kwik-E-Mart in Mountain View. If you haven’t heard, several 7-elevens have been transformed into Kwik-E-Marts as a promotional stunt for the new Simpsons Movie. I have box of Krusty O’s on top of my cube. Too bad they don’t sell Duff Beer.

Raining on the F and G parade

I think the impression everyone has of Facebook is way too misguided. Yes, college students use it – lots of them. And they love it. But, most of us graduate college and move on with our lives. Facebook has not done a good job of recruiting the “non-college crowd” (why would they, that’s not their niche) and I predict this will be their ultimate demise. It may even be sooner than that as we might see someone like MySpace use the Facebook API to transfer the FB’s profile data to their own site (I’m not sure if this actually can be done, or maybe it is done already?) upon a user’s request. Why would a user request this? Because ALL of their friends (family, college, work) are on MySpace, not FB.

“So what?”, you say, “Facebook has the attention of a key demographic! College students like toys and gadgets and they (or their parents) have lots of money so FB will get lots of advertising $$$.”. Yeah, maybe for the next year or two. For the long term, it’s not quite that simple.

Monitizing a “profile” is going to prove more and more difficult as the excitment of online advertising dwindles, just as it did in the late 90’s. It’s great that Best Buy has another mechanism to reach people who are likely to buy their headphones but I’d argue it’s all noise to the people actually using Facebook.

So, what’s the saving grace of internet advertising? Data mining. Get me exactly what I want for my particular need. Showing me headphones isn’t enough – I need headphones that are going to fit my oddly-shaped ear. How are you going to do that? Either find out about my oddly-shaped ear or find out that I want to know about headphones for oddly-shaped ears and show me information on others with oddly-shaped ears who purchased headphones. (I don’t have oddly-shaped ears, do I?)

The requirement to accomplish the above? Longevity. The true allure of internet advertising is the ability to focus on someone’s true interests and place things in front of them that they would actually want. That’s what Best Buy really wants because it then becomes an easy sell. You just need to be around for a while and be collecting and crunching data to do this. Facebook isn’t collecting any real, usable data to help push product. Right now, Facebook is the equivalent of putting a billboard right in the center of campus: Everyone is there, everyone sees it, everyone congregates around it. Then everyone graduates and everyone forgets it.

Google is smart enough to see the need for data mining as we can see by their key products and acquistions. Some examples:

  • Mail – figure out what people are talking about.
  • Maps – one of the first applications of the web and useful to everyone. Plus, they can figure out where people are going
  • Doubleclick – nearly everyone’s computer has a Doubleclick cookie on it
  • Feedburner – what are people reading and how is content being aggregated and passed around
  • Docs and Spreadsheets – Office is the killer app of the desktop. Unleash the user from those shackles and they can become all-G, all the time.

The problem is that Google is scaring alot of the low-key (yet 800-pound) gorillas in the media industry as well as the content providers and producers with their hype, practices and market cap.. Not to mention those in the tech sector. These companies aren’t going to just roll over as Google tries to take over. Ever watch Survivor? The person who is so wonderful in the beginning is generally voted off early on. We’re still in the cheerleading phase with Google and they’ve already made some enemies. The truth is, although they produce alot of “good”, other than search, they got nothing. Don’t get me wrong, search is big, but we’ve all been through this before in the late 90’s. This kind of reminds me of the band Kajagoogoo – they had a really big hit, a couple of smaller hits and a catchy name that we all laugh about now.

Only time will tell.

CA observations: Roads, TV and Food

There are plenty of things to note about California (I’m sure), but since I spend most of my time either at work or by myself, these three things really jump out at me. Here are my current observations on 3 things that have a great impact on my life.

Definitely different here. Besides the traffic that we’ve all heard about there are some notable things about the roads:

The street with two names

It is very common here for a street to have two names depending on where you are on it. So, you may (will) come to an intersection where turning right is marked (unclearly – see below) with one street name and turning left is marked with another. Honestly, I think this is dumb, not-to-mention confusing.

Two car pool lanes and one bike lane

Traffic is a big deal here, so much so that some roads have TWO carpool lanes. I currently live right off of the Lawrence Expressway which has two such lanes. Get this, though, one is on the far left (as you might expect) and the other is on the far RIGHT. So, if you make a right onto the Lawrence Exp., you need to quickly move out of the right lane and into the middle during rush hour or receive a hefty ticket.

Many roads also have bicycle lanes. This is a good thing as many more people seem to use bicycles as a primary means of transportation than in the suburbs of NY. In fact, several people on my floor at work ride regularly and some of my coworkers do it several times a week – Yahoo even has onsite bike repair. As inspiring as it sounds, though, I’m not quite there yet….

It’s a Bad Sign

Road signage in CA stinks compared to NY. The signs are way too small and put in unusual places. I guess they’re really not terrible but they fall short compared to LI. On Long Island, I’m convinced you could probably find your way around by just using the signs. Here in California, I think the signs really serve more as hints rather than true markers of roads and turns. There are definitely points while driving that you are not exactly sure what road you are turning onto due to the unusual placement of the sign. And as I just said, they’re way too small.

Forks and U-turns

I’ve never seen so many roads that fork nor have I seen so many opportunities (or encouragements, depending on how you look at it) for U-turns. I feel good about this, however, because I now know that I’m not the only person who doesn’t know where he’s going.

I’ll sum my driving experience as:

“I spend alot of time making U-turns because I missed the fork in the road due to the fact that I couldn’t read the signs and therefore couldn’t move over to the appropriate lane in time due to carpool restrictions just find out that I’m on the wrong road because it is called something else in the other direction.”


Nothing to see here, keep moving. Really. TV seems especially lousy here. The local news is particularly bad. Good thing for Yahoo News. Seriously, I resorted to watching it like TV. I just fire up the video player and let it go. Less commericals, too. Right now I’m watching an Intro to Computer Science course put up by De Anza College which is the highlight of TV around here. I guess there really is no reason to watch TV, though, as the weather is pretty awesome for the most part.


Of course, I like to eat and the food here is pretty damn good. What really did surprise me was how hot the people here like the food – they mean business! I always considered myself a fan of hot food but I’ve been put to shame by the California folks. I went to Wing Stop the other day and ordered a 10 pack of the Atomic, their hottest flavor. Man, it was HOT!!!! I actually had to rinse my mouth out in the bathroom the sauce was so hot. It started off quite subtle but quickly became a raging flame. I’ll definitely have to try it again.

Eat at URL’sUntil then, I’ll stick to URL’s. URL’s is the main cafeteria on campus which has deli, grill, Mexican, Indian, Chinese and salad bar, plus assorted packaged food and snacks. Each building has a cafe which will have one or two of these but you go to URL’s if you want the grand selection.

California is definitely lacking in donuts, however, and it is not worth eating a bagel here. The pizza is edible only because they seem to load it up with lots of toppings, otherwise, it is just bread, sauce and cheese. Any New Yorker knows that’s not pizza.