Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
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Sunday, April 13, 2021

A well-recognized scenario from the subprime lending meltdown: The property owner rents out the acquired residence, looking at this income to wholly or partially cover the mortgage payments. But when that doesn’t work out and the bank forecloses, the renters left behind can linger for years before the eviction notice arrives.

Foreclosures can have an impact on tenants in lots of ways, but there are two sets of problems that most will face. The first and most daunting is eviction. The second is a loss of services, which can mean anything from having to fix your own clogged pipes to losing heat in the winter.

Luis Matute moved into a two-bedroom railroad apartment at the top of a walk-up in Bushwick, Brooklyn, 13 years ago. Five years later, Nelva Muy joined him when they were married. Now, the couple, who are from Ecuador, and their 6-year-old son, Jinson, live in the same apartment, which has become plagued with cracks and leaks.

Two years ago, the person who collected the rent every month stopped showing up. Mr. Matute and Ms. Muy have not paid rent since, though they have been saving their rent money of $575 a month.

I’m no legal expert, but the situations described in the article — where landlords disappear and the tenants wind up living rent-free for years — make me wonder if a case for squatters rights doesn’t apply.

It can be pretty hard to establish those rights, as they have to be based upon “adverse possession” criteria, and technically a tenant agreement precludes that. But when the residents wind up being responsible for the upkeep on the property — making significant structural repairs — that indicates a shift in responsibility for an abandoned property. Indeed, it’s preferable for neighborhoods and cities to have these houses occupied by actual residents, versus having them cleared out and then vulnerable to transients and crackheads breaking in (which has happened in other foreclosure-hit areas of the U.S.).

True, the foreclosing bank gets ownership when the landlord bails, so such properties technically don’t slide into a legal limbo. But banks are notorious for neglecting their foreclosed houses — they generally don’t want the headache, they just want a monetary return on their bad investments. I’d imagine they would sign off on a squatter solution if they were given a minimal payment to simply walk away; that’s something that governmental assistance could facilitate.

The missing ingredient here is tenure. Most adverse possession laws, including that for New York, set a lengthy time period for squatters rights to kick in — something like 12 years. It’s highly unlikely that real estate of even minimal value would sit that long without the titleholder expressing the token efforts it would require (or more) to keep a stake in defensible ownership rights.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 04/13/2008 09:59:43 PM
Category: Business, New Yorkin', Society
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Much as my first Jelly session was photographed and Flickr’d, this past Friday’s Jellyness was video-recorded and Viddler’d.

Viddler‘d? Yes. Just watch:

Somewhere around the midway point of this compilation, you’ll see yours truly, wearing a green-and-white long-sleeved tshirt. I consciously decided to dress down this time, as I felt I stuck out last time in my shirt and tie. It helped that I made Jelly the main event of that Friday. The wardrobe choice came back to bite me late in the day, when I had to make a last-minute face-to-face meeting, but little (if any) harm done.

You’ll also notice me brandishing my XO Laptop, that I said I’d bring. Despite the oohs and ahs, no one was interested enough in the little Linux box to actually crack it open. I had figured as much beforehand.

Unfortunately, the videocamera (which was, in fact, one of those super-cool Flips) didn’t capture my triumphant snag-free upgrade of WordPress 2.5 onto PopulationStatistic.com. Good thing I blogged about it, right?

I had to leave around 1:30, after spending the better part of the morning at House 2.0. So I didn’t get to participate in the Wii gamebreak, nor the wrap-up potluck dinner. I believe the next Jelly is coming up in a couple of weeks, so maybe I’ll stick around for the extracurriculars then.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 04/13/2008 03:21:18 PM
Category: Business, New Yorkin', Tech
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Saturday, April 12, 2021

So far this year, there’s been little action on the initial public offering market for Web/tech companies, and it’s bugging the heck out of venture capitalists, who claim that that’s bad for the overall economy:

Entrepreneurs are optimistic by nature, but they will need more than that in the current market. Many tech companies live and die by venture capital funding, and venture capitalists need an exit strategy. The current IPO market is not much of one, and the chances for buyouts by other companies may become slimmer in the current credit environment. Lack of exit options keeps VCs in deals longer, which increases their own risk and makes them less likely to fund other promising ventures.

Actually, I don’t think the buyout market is that bad, even with tightening credit. There’s always stock deals, that can turn out to be much more lucrative in the long run. Combine that with the prospect of continuing work as part of a larger-but-simpatico company, and most up-and-coming tech entrepreneurs happily will opt for being acquired over playing a high-finance money game.

We’ve already seen how strategizing for eventual buyouts by the Googles and Microsofts of the world has changed the rules for valuations in tech startups, and now that dynamic is impacting the established investment procedure for VCs. The old money guys are just mad that they’re being left out of the action now.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 04/12/2021 02:14:26 PM
Category: Business, Internet, Tech
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Friday, April 11, 2021

Posting this from today’s Jelly co-working gathering in midtown Manhattan, which I said I’d attend. Go figure that I’d actually follow through.

Maybe I should make a point to hit this joint every time it’s held. Because something rubbed off today, and I was able to upgrade this blog to the brand-new WordPress 2.5 without a hitch! That’s the first time I’ve ever been able to upgrade WP on this site and not have something explode. Today, I followed the upload-and-overwrite instructions, and somehow it all worked.

At least as far as I can tell. Little things may need tweaking; I’ve already had to adjust the plugins. I may or may not play with the new tagging feature (highly touted for this release, but I can take it or leave it — for now). And as usual, I had to disable the fool default-login aspect of the commenting feature (something I’d really love to hear justified by the WP developers, because I don’t see the point of it). But the rendering on the site looks good, with proper permanlinks and everything, so that’s my chief concern.

This is something of a milestone for me. I feel like going out and getting tore up to celebrate! Well, maybe just a cocktail or two, at least.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 04/11/2021 01:36:29 PM
Category: Business, New Yorkin'
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Wednesday, April 09, 2021

I care not for jelly — neither the spreadable stuff nor the British version of Jello.

But I guess I like Jelly well enough, because I’ll be at the coworking space in midtown this Friday. I’m anticipating attending for a couple of hours in the morning, probably checking out around noon.

I’m not planning on a repeat performance of liveblogging, like I did at last month’s Manhattan gathering. I expect most of my time will be occupied with blog housekeeping, specifically updating this site to the latest and greatest version of WordPress (currently 2.5). Since my past experiences with the supposedly simple upgrade have always been bumpy, I figure I should take advantage of Jelly’s heavy contingent of tech-heads as a go-to help resource. I’m crossing my fingers.

I’m also considering bringing along my XO Laptop, just to show it off to anyone interested. I don’t think there are that many floating around in the U.S., so it’d be a novelty. That doesn’t exactly fit under the working-time concept for Jelly, but what the heck.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 04/09/2021 11:53:37 PM
Category: Business, Creative, New Yorkin'
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Friday, April 04, 2021

Are the logos above twins? Apparently, they are to Steve Jobs: Apple Inc. is suing New York City to prevent its eco-friendly GreeNYC campaign from using an apple symbol, contending it’s too similar to the computermaker’s mark.

I’m usually sensitive to even a whiff of intellectual property infringement, as most people seem willfully ignorant on the very concept of look-and-feel mimicry. But I have to say, I don’t see much merit in Apple’s suit here. The “infinity apple” design obviously looks like an apple, as intended; but I think the resemblance to the home of the iPod ends there. There are enough points of distinction between the two images that it’s hard to see confusion widely setting in.

Plus, consider the context here: New Yorkers are used to seeing Big Apple messaging all the time. If the GreeNYC ads were somehow to roll out in other parts of the country, I might see the concern. But since that’s not going to happen, and the City audience can distinguish between the two apple-themed concepts, I don’t see a problem.

Less seriously, this could be a signal that Apple is getting ready to unveil some sort of environmentally-optimized gadget, and were prepping a green apple logo of their own. Under-ripened marketing, perhaps.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 04/04/2021 08:39:29 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business, New Yorkin', Tech
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Pondering: If some TV exec dreamed up a new reality series centered around a strip club, would the resultant marketing come up with the term “Realititty Television”?

It seems like a natural — even if the featured titties wouldn’t be.

Think such a concept would never fly, either with the TV industry or the nudie club business? I beg to differ. On the television side, this hardly scrapes the bottom of the reality barrel, and the surefire ratings from featuring nekkid women (even with the naughty bits pixelated out), aided by the built-in controversy it would attract, would dismiss any objections. As for the “gentlemen’s clubs”, the increasingly corporate nature of the business means they’d welcome the exposure (no pun intended — mostly).

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 04/04/2021 12:57:15 PM
Category: Business, Reality Check, Women
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Monday, March 31, 2021

I’m sure many a corporate notebook-computing jockey is tittering over the idea of “going topless” — with “topless” in this case meaning laptop-less, referring to an effort among Silicon Valley companies to make face-to-face meetings more productive via elimination of distracting portable monitors.

And actually, since I just used the suggestive “tittering” when describing a term suggestive of exposed breasts, I guess I’m part of the problem.

But at least I’m not part of this problem:

It’s not exactly attention deficit. Linda Stone, a software executive who worked for Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp., calls it “continuous partial attention.” It stems from an intense desire to connect and be connected all of the time, or, in her words, to be “a live node on the network.”

Etiquette has suffered in the process. “Face-to-face meetings have become a low priority because they’re constantly being interrupted by technology, and many people can’t figure out what to do,” said Sue Fox, author of “Business Etiquette for Dummies.” “What’s more important — the gadget or the person, or people, you’re with?”

I’ve said before that we live in the Age of Distraction. Having an interactive source of constant distraction in your pocket makes it official.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 03/31/2008 09:40:24 PM
Category: Business, Tech, Wordsmithing
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Saturday, March 29, 2021

In 1938, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster got $130 (roughly $1,800 in today’s dollars, per this historical inflation calculator) in exchange for selling all rights to a little character by the name of Superman.

Seventy years later, their heirs have legally reclaimed part of the copyright to the world’s more famous (and marketable) superhero, potentially complicating Time Warner’s use of the character in films and other media.

Compensation to the Siegels would be limited to any work created after their 1999 termination date. Income from the 1978 “Superman” film, or the three sequels that followed in the 1980s, are not at issue. But a “Superman Returns” sequel being planned with the filmmaker Bryan Singer (who has also directed “The Usual Suspects” and “X-Men”) might require payments to the Siegels, should they prevail in a demand that the studio’s income, not just that of the comics unit, be subject to a court-ordered accounting.

What this recounting fails to mention: If the ruling stands, it opens a can of worms. Practically every iconic comics and pop-culture character is probably covered under this precedent: Batman, Spider-Man, Bugs Bunny and hundreds others. The intellectual property held by companies like Time Warner are consistently undervalued; a flood of legal claims not only would rightfully revert rights back to the creators and their families, it might also bring to light just how much money their creations bring to corporate bottom-lines.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 03/29/2008 04:26:03 PM
Category: Business, Pop Culture, Publishing
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Friday, March 28, 2021

David Pogue ponders why more companies don’t embrace the transparency of corporate blogs, podcasts, Facebook pages and other public-facing interactive communications.

And he inadvertently hits the nail on the head with this observation:

Now then. We all know, intellectually, that no matter what image a corporation tries to project, it’s made up of ordinary people with personalities, insecurities and lives. But because the marketing and P.R. teams work so hard to scrub, control and package a company’s image, the public ordinarily sees none of that human side.

And all that scrubbing toward uniformity is exactly why you don’t see more penetration of Web 2.0 techniques. Corporate imagemakers are paid for version control — maintaining a buttoned-up storefront that conveys a “serious” company. The idea is that anyone who wants to do business, especially in terms of swapping real money, won’t do so with a bunch of clowns who are goofing around on MySpace on company time.

That’s typically not the marketing wonks pushing such an agenda. Ultimately, the company chieftains are the ones who yea or nay the approach, and since they usually become immersed in fairly rigid corporate cultures (especially when the money becomes larger), they are less comfortable with informality in their brand messaging.

So is a Web 2.0 approach the key to unshackling this closed loop?

When a company embraces the possibilities of Web 2.0, though, it makes contact with its public in a more casual, less sanitized way that, as a result, is accepted with much less cynicism. Web 2.0 offers a direct, more trusted line of communications than anything that came before it.

Well. Anything can be managed at the source. There are plenty of examples of corporate blogs that are ill-maintained, becoming little more than token permalinks filled with press-release text. I don’t think Web-based techniques are inherently purer than any other marketing collateral; maybe their relative newness triggers more trust from public audiences, but that will wear thin as traditional corporate communications techniques get channeled through them.

Ultimately, Web 2.0 gimmicks work only as long as quality content inform them. When they come in contact with corporate America, the quality becomes more restrictive the larger a company gets, and that includes once-spunky Web operations like Google (despite internal efforts to preserve the loose atmosphere). Doing business unfortunately leads to the narrowing of paths.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 03/28/2008 02:40:55 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business, Internet
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Sunday, March 23, 2021

With the appeal of first-release theatrical movies waning — as audiences know the cable and DVD release for the same flick will follow in mere weeks — more cineplexes are using their screens and seats for simulcasting live sports matches, concerts and other big-ticket events as a way to expand both revenue streams and audience access.

Why has this idea, which clearly fills a need and seems like a natural fit for moviehouses’ small-crowd configurations, not caught on? Probably because the words “movie” and “theater” are too-closely wed:

Marketing is the biggest puzzle that operators need to figure out, said Jeffrey B. Logsdon, an entertainment analyst at BMO Capital Markets. Trying to contain costs, most have relied on advertising on their Web sites and in movie listings. Still, most people do not think to seek this kind of content at the movies, he said.

Consumer psychology, Mr. Logsdon says, plays as big a role in the shift as economics. Operators want people to think of theaters as vibrant, busy places. But when weekends account for 70 percent of movie ticket sales, multiplex parking lots spend a lot of time sitting empty.

“At the movies” is the heart of the problem. Nobody considers their town or neighborhood theaters as anything other than a place to catch a movie. Decades of reinforcing this linkage served the movie business well, before box-office declines became the norm in recent years. Now, that extreme tailoring by exhibitors to just one content stream — movies — is the classic situation of putting all the eggs in one basket, and sinking or swimming correspondingly.

It’s not out of the question for theaters to remake themselves into multiple-offering venues. After all, motion picture showings started in old vaudeville theaters that were dominated by live entertainment. Even well after films established themselves in “movie palaces”, they often shared space with other modes of entertainment. A congregation of seating is inherently flexible, and that silver screen can be rigged to show just about anything.

The trick is convincing people that there’s enough of a tradeoff between watching at home, on a smaller but cozier home theater, and sharing a gigantic screen and surround-sound experience with dozens of strangers. The event will go a long way toward selling the experience.

The key is in playing with the definition of “live”. Live simulcasts certainly don’t have the same vibe, but the exclusivity of the situation would still count for something. It certainly needs some marketing finesse — consumers resent an obvious attempt to be suckered into a “live” event when it’s really video. But presented for what it is, with the benefits emphasized, it can be sold.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 03/23/2008 10:15:24 PM
Category: Business, Movies
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Friday, March 21, 2021

Amid much bitching about how its competition is undercutting it, Hawaii-based Aloha Airlines filed for bankruptcy yesterday, the second time it’s done so in the past couple of years.

This development compels me to invoke the signature catchphrase (usually used to signify an out-of-the-park homerun highlight) of former ESPN anchor and Hawaiian sports media alum Larry Beil:

“And aloha means goodbye!”

Not that every on-air wonk from here to CNBC won’t be repeating that same phrase today…

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 03/21/2008 11:57:17 AM
Category: Business, Sports, Wordsmithing
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Thursday, March 20, 2021

While I managed to do a little live-blogging at last week’s Jelly coworking session, I neglected to add pictures to my words.

Never fear: Another Jelly-er snapped a few photos and Flickr’d them.

In that picture set, you’ll see yours truly up close and personal, along with an action shot of me eating pizza while conversing with the t-shirt aggregator dude. This is what it’s like to live your life in Web 2.0 mode, right?

Maybe I should get into the act and bring my fancy on-loan Nikon camera to the next Jelly, scheduled for Williamsburg (which I’m 90 percent sure I’ll attend). But I hate lugging that thing around, and since I’ll already have my computer in tow, I think I’ll have to leave the visual record to someone else.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 03/20/2008 04:46:09 PM
Category: Business, Creative, New Yorkin', Society
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Wednesday, March 19, 2021

Ailing even during healthy economic times, U.S. automakers are expecting to take an especially big hit in the sales charts during 2008 — one that cannot be expressed as a mere downward curve, but as something with more depth:

[Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli] describes the current downturn as “bathtub-shaped” as opposed to v-shaped, implying it will be of longer duration.

With Detroit eventually going down the drain, presumably. And a ring around the tub left behind, consisting of abandoned factories and long unemployment lines.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 03/19/2008 09:40:41 PM
Category: Business
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It’s the big-box retailer equivalent of unplanned pregnancy, and the end result is the biggest Wal-Mart in America at 260,000 square feet, located on the outskirts of Albany:

Real estate planners at the Bentonville, Ark.-based company - the world’s largest retailer with more than 4,100 stores in the United States and 3,100 more overseas - never set out to build their biggest store in New York’s Capital Region. In fact, the larger stores tend to be built in rural areas, [Wal-Mart spokesman Phil] Serghini said.

In the 1990s, Wal-Mart co-located a Sam’s Club - its members-only warehouse store - with a Wal-Mart department store in a dual-level shopping center, with the Sam’s Club on the lower floor.

The company closed the Sam’s Club in 2006 because of low membership and decided to use that space to turn the department store into a supercenter.

“It’s the largest one really only because of the situation involving the former Sam’s Club,” Serghini said. “But it is unique, and the customers are going to be very pleased with the layout.”

Finally, something of interest in the state capital. Maybe the steady stream of gubernatorial sex partners can catch up on their sundries shopping while they’re in town, after their visits with whoever’s currently in the Governor’s seat (or even before, to prep).

I’m disappointed the article doesn’t mention the current largest Wal-Mart title-holder. I could swear it’s a big ol’ SuperCenter location in Pinellas Park, Florida, by which I used to live; but it may just be the busiest/most profitable, not necessarily the biggest.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 03/19/2008 08:18:04 PM
Category: Business, Florida Livin', New Yorkin'
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Monday, March 17, 2021

damn dirty stocks
What does recession, large-scale financial institutional collapse and currency devaluation bring to mind?

Of course: Planet of the Apes, where a hierarchy of primate greed is to blame for our fiscal woes.

Giant Apes - Capitalists ruling the Jungle through asset management

Orangutans - Puppet leaders in power positions, yet controlled by Apes

Gorillas - Enforcers whose brute strength protects the Apes power

Chimpanzees - Masses of workers manipulated like the Humanoids

Flying Monkeys - New high-tech species immigrated from Land of Oz

Even though MarketWatch columnist Paul B. Farrell goes way overboard with the damn-dirty-apes motif, he does present a crazy-quilt cast that somehow makes sense. Take, for example, the Wall Street equivalents for one simian class:

Orangutans: Puppet Leaders

8. Politicians, Congress & Executive. Follow lobbyists’ orders; love perks, status

9. Securities and Exchange Commission. Always favors industry over investors

10. Mutual fund directors. Paid over $250,000 annually, favor their insiders

I guess the appropriate d’enouement to this monkey business will be the realization that this was our planet all along. You maniacs, you blew it all up!

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 03/17/2008 11:14:24 PM
Category: Business, Movies, Pop Culture
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Sunday, March 16, 2021

It may not have invented junk mail, but Valpak, that St. Petersburg-based firm that’s celebrating 40 years of business this year, certainly maximized its potential with direct-marketing precision that drills right down to neighborhood demographics:

From the beginning, the company has staked its success on measurable results. [Company founder Terry] Loebel required advertisers to record how much coupon-carrying customers spent. Valpak remains an intensely data-driven company, with the ability to divide neighborhoods into blocks of 10,000 residences.

For instance, Valpak can tell businesses which neighborhoods have swimming pools, where new houses are being built and where people with certain income brackets live.

If you have a mind to sabotage this sort of datamining, there doesn’t seem to be a way to do so, other than promptly tossing the unopened baby-blue overstuffed envelop to prevent further information compilation. That just slows down the machine — it doesn’t pervert the already-collected data. If it makes you feel better, you can always tear the coupons to shreds, or burn them, before depositing them into the trash bin.

Wait, wait… I work in marketing now. Strike everything I just wrote. Redeem the hell out of those direct-to-your-door coupons!

I was well-aware of Valpak’s presence in St. Pete when I lived there, but I never followed them particularly closely, either personally or for the business magazine I worked for. That’s probably because it sold itself to Cox Target Media long ago, and as a result was no longer considered a “local” company. Too many layers of corporate crud to cut through to get any information.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 03/16/2008 09:15:41 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business, Florida Livin'
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Friday, March 14, 2021

Since office-less coworking among freelancers and other labor free agents is all the rage, and I don’t want to pay Office Nomads actual money in timeshare-like rent for some non-Starbucks workspace, it’s Jelly for me.

What is Jelly? It’s a semi-regular gathering of independent white-collar workers (like me) who converge on a host dwelling for a day, for the purpose of creating a convivial collaborative work environment. It’s like an office setting without a boss hanging over you. The aim is to network with like-minded individuals (as far as work work-life balance goes) and ward off the shut-in mentality that can take hold from working at home every day.

I don’t usually have to guard against stir-craziness, as I go to one client office or another every day. But I was intrigued by Jelly’s concept, and today I was able to jigger my schedule to attend today’s 2nd anniversary of Jelly.

So here I am, having landed in the founding Manhattan edition of Jelly’s gathering, in midtown’s House 2.0. I think I’ll take the opportunity to maintain a running post, to record the couple of hours I expect to be here. Here goes:

1:27pm - I’ve been here about 10 minutes. CNN cameraman arrived a couple of minutes later. The bigtime! I have mixed feelings about being on camera, but I guess I don’t have to worry about it until/unless they turn the lens on me.

Otherwise, I coughed up four bucks for community pizza, and found a backroom area to fire up the computer and (allegedly) get to work. A bunch of people were already here, mostly in the living room where the building’s elevator opened into. I was a little overwhelmed, so I scurried back here. But I think I’ll relocate myself back up front, if there’s still room.

Also, the house puppy Oscar, a daschund mutt, is making his presence felt. Like I need another distraction from work…

2:17pm - Pizzas arrived, so it was socializing time. Talked to a couple of co-Jelly-ers. One was a developer who’d been to these gatherings before, very low-key guy; he’d just gotten a new iMac which he didn’t have with him, so I think he was just observing. The other was a newbie like me, a budding novelist named Kelly; she was most interested in interacting with live, breathing people versus being alone with her (vibrant) thoughts in her apartment.

2:19pm - Some independent vid-journalist/blogger showed up after CNN left. She’s floating around, interviewing the Jelly hosts and taking random shots.

2:21pm - I figured I’d be the only schmoe here dressed in shirt and tie — and I was right. Couldn’t be avoided as I had onsite client work this morning. I’m also one of the very few non-techies hereabouts, which I also expected. It’s all good; it’s been pointed out to me that a different creative perspective is good to inject into these gatherings. Or something.

2:23pm - At this point, I’m waiting for a 3pm conference call to begin; it’s scheduled for an hour, but I doubt it’ll last even half as long. After that, I may or may not hang here at Jelly for a while longer. In the meantime, I’m tackling a couple of put-off marketing reports (between blogging sessions ;) )

2:51pm - That developer I was talking to earlier: His name is Dan. I’m bad with names.

2:54pm - Weird vibe here. A couple of people are pairing off to collaborate, advise, etc. but most are just hunched over their notebook computers, typing away. Not much in interaction, other than being aware of a live body in close proximity. I guess it’s just feeding off the broader aura.

3:22pm - Just had my lone conference call for the afternoon. Short, as expected, and painless. I have the rest of the afternoon, to Jelly or not.

I’m having a bitch of a time with these marketing reports, which is what I feared (and which is why I held off doing them until now). I may have to shunt these until the weekend. I’ll stick with it for another hour or so and see if I actually accomplish something.

3:44pm - We seem to have hit a lull at House 2.0. Most of the folks seem to have cleared out (temporarily, as there are computers and personal effects lying around), except for me and two other guys. They’re chatting about BarCamp and other techie stuff. Oscar the puppy is wandering about, looking for attention and/or food.

And I’ve hit a lull myself. I’m getting nowhere manipulating these marketing charts. So I’m about ready to give up and re-engage over the weekend.

Overall, not as much social interaction as I thought there’d be. It was nice getting a change of venue for one workday, but it was less stimulating than I’d hoped. Maybe I should have gotten here earlier.

3:49pm - Here’s something, at least: This blog post is already ranking high on a Google search of ‘jelly nyc’, somewhere around No. 20. That’s within a couple of hours of creation. Much love for the Googlebot!

This seems to be it. It was worth a shot. I might try for the next edition, provided it’s in Manhattan. Midtown is nice and central, for me anyway.

The greatest irony: I don’t even like jelly. Peanut butter and honey sandwiches — that’s what I’m talking about!

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 03/14/2008 01:26:15 PM
Category: Business, Creative, New Yorkin', Society
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Wednesday, March 12, 2021

If you’ve been thinking about going on a diet soon, you now have extra incentive coming from your pocketbook: Food prices at the grocery store are going up at the fastest rates since 2003.

And since it’s hard to do without sustenance, that means other economic sectors will get short-changed:

Escalating food costs could present a greater problem than soaring oil prices for the national economy because the average household spends three times as much for food as for gasoline. Food accounts for about 13 percent of household spending, compared with about 4 percent for gas.

And consumers spending more on food have less disposable income to spend on items that keep retailers happy – from electronics to dining out. Food prices are rising while home values fall and the stock market falters – all of which can shake consumer confidence.

Maybe it’ll turn out cheaper to start eating and drinking petroleum products…

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 03/12/2021 05:22:39 PM
Category: Business, Food, Society
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Thursday, March 06, 2021

After years of going nowhere in challenging Google, Ask.com is throwing in the towel by niche-ing itself into a women-focused search engine.

Talk about a solution in search of a problem. It’s not like women are complaining that Google or Yahoo! aren’t meeting their Web researching needs. Granted, such a need can be manufactured via deft marketing and reliable technology; but as ubiquitous as Google is in this space, it’s going to be a tall order.

Basically, Ask.com is trying to cash in as quickly as it can, and since women are its chief demographic, that’s where it can have its greatest short-term ad-selling success. There’s no real strategy for the future beyond that.

And just to keep things straight: Ask.com has gone from its old Ask Jeeves manservant mascot — a somewhat masculine symbol — to a female makeover which, I presume, is going to include lots of soft colors and even flowery graphics. Quite the transformation.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 03/06/2021 10:54:23 PM
Category: Business, Internet, Women
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Monday, March 03, 2021

Did you know that gift cards are now the single-biggest holiday gift item given and received by Americans during the holidays, surpassing categories like apparel and electronics?

And did you know that all it would take to obliterate that popularity is a refusal to accept gift cards, like soon-to-be-bankrupt retailer Sharper Image is doing.

Aside from the obvious, a lot of it has to do with the nature of what a gift card actually is:

Gift card holders fall in the class of unsecured creditors, which is “low in the pecking order,” [bankruptcy lawyer Howard] Kleinberg said. Those at the top of the list are secured creditors — with debts backed by assets such as real estate or accounts receivable.

But more fundamentally, the backlash from consumers can be harsh. It’s somewhat amazing that shoppers have been convinced that what are essentially purchase vouchers make the perfect gift — basically selling the store brand instead of a specific item. But when that store brand turns out to be worthless? I can see the entire basis for gift card popularity eroding in short order.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 03/03/2021 11:23:34 PM
Category: Business
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