February 25, 2004

How Good was your High School?

Housing prices here in Silicon Valley are just nuts. If you want a house in one of the better school districts, like Cupertino (home of two of Newsweek's "Best High Schools in the Nation") or Saratoga (home of the infamous cheating-by-hacking scandal), you'll pay $1M or so for a house that'll cost you $250K somewhere else in the country.

So this begs the question--is it really that important (like, $500-700K worth of important) to have your kid go to the best school possible? Especially if that school is such a pressure cooker that kids: a. commit suicide. b. hack into their teacher's computers to steal test answers. c. feel that MIT isn't as competitive as their high school. Can your kid be a star if 1/3 of the senior class has a > 4.0 GPA?

We all want the best for our kids. But in the whole scheme of things, what's worth it? Can we fit an econometric decision model against these types of strategic decisions?

I figure, as long as my kid goes to a better school than I did, that's ok. Like I was reminiscing the other day how we had just a couple of crappy scales in our Chem lab--the others were stolen by fellow students who needed to weigh their drug inventory. And yeah, I'm sure those kids were making six figures way before they went to the prom, but they're probably living rent-free courtesy of the California State Penal system nowadays.

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February 11, 2004

Chunky.com is Funky

So I'm eating at my desk again, this time a pop-top Campbell's Chunky Soup nuked in the breakroom microwave. Halfway through my lunch, I decide to find out just how bad this slop is for me. Naturally, I had already chucked the can in the recycle bin. So, I surf over to the aptly-named Chunky.com for nutritional information.

Where is it? There's everything but the facts, ma'am.

Not only did they leave out the kind of content 90% of users would expect to find at a food company Website, but the navigation sucks. The only way I could find to get back to the corporate home page was to click the copyright text in the page footer.

The Search box doesn't help, because it's really "Recipe Search". Yes, it's labeled as such, but aren't we conditioned (hello, Pavlov?) to type a string into any field labeled "search" on Web pages these days, and expect something useful? Why not just buy a real search engine and offer the user the ability to constrain the search domain to just recipes--or scan the entire site?

I do have a great new tagline for them, though: "...just like Mom used to open...". Although I'll be honest, my Ma cooked up real homemade soup for me. I can proudly state that I serve up miso soup from scratch (none of those little packets, thank you very much) for my kid. Wish I had some of that for today's lunch, though.

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February 03, 2004

SEO by Hijacking

I got this funky comment yesterday. It didn't seem like the usual "Buy the combo Viagra and penis enlarger patch now!" spam, so I was inclined to leave it be.

[Now that product would sell like hotcakes, wouldn't it?]

But then I noticed the references to a discount software sales site sprinkled throughout the futurist copy. Putting my SEO hat on, I'd say these guys are angling for more Googlejuice. Rather innovative, I'd say. You learn something new everyday, even from the spammers.

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February 02, 2004

Super Bowl Excitement

So I arrived at our friends' house just in time to watch that exciting 4th quarter. But it turns out that I missed the really exciting part of the Super Bowl telecast, if all the controversy is to be trusted. My friend Rebecca asked, "Did you see the halftime show?" I was like, no, I wasn't really going to watch the game, figured it wasn't going to be that good (although I was proved wrong in the 4th Q). But now I've figured out what she was talking about.

My take? Intentional!

Letterman's going to have a field day with this one.

Timberlake for California govenor in 2034. If groping got Ahnold so far, this kid's got a chance.

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