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2013 not working yet (duh)

I feel really bad for President Obama and I am still a big fan. But. As we all know now, this is a total disaster, on a lot of levels. For first hand experience, I tried to create an account on about the middle of October. After several tries I managed to do it. Yesterday I tried to log into the site to see how things were going, and after several tries and I managed to log in. But I didn't get too far before I got a 404 error.

Those of us who have worked on, or seen close up how a complex "web site" is built have a feeling of how complicated this is. And coupled with other factors and complications (like politics and buareaucratic ineptitude) we can't say this is not a movie we've seen before. But that doesn't begin to explain nor excuse it. Here's a good behind the scenes article: How political fear was pitted against technical needs - The Washington Post:

"They were running the biggest start-up in the world, and they didn't have anyone who had run a start-up, or even run a business," said David Cutler, a Harvard professor and health adviser to Obama's 2008 campaign, who was not the individual who provided the memo to The Washington Post but confirmed he was the author. "It's very hard to think of a situation where the people best at getting legislation passed are best at implementing it. They are a different set of skills."

(De) bunking some myths about those $1b startups

I want to direct your attention ton interesting article about $1 Billion Startups - "Unicorns" - on TechCrunch today. Some myths debunked and others confirmed:

So, we wondered, as we're a year into our new fund (which doesn't need to back billion-dollar companies to succeed, but hey, we like to learn): how likely is it for a startup to achieve a billion-dollar valuation? Is there anything we can learn from the mega hits of the past decade, like Facebook, LinkedIn and Workday? (from: Welcome To The Unicorn Club: Learning From Billion-Dollar Startups | TechCrunch🙂

Do it for free!

Tim Kreider's essay could apply as easily to all those people who complain that an iPhone app is not free, or is so so expensive at $5.99. Not too long ago a piece of software would get $99 or $495. Makes you wonder how long Adobe can keep on charging through the nose for Photoshop and Illustrator. Anyway, here's a bit of the article:

"People who would consider it a bizarre breach of conduct to expect anyone to give them a haircut or a can of soda at no cost will ask you, with a straight face and a clear conscience, whether you wouldn't be willing to write an essay or draw an illustration for them for nothing. They often start by telling you how much they admire your work, although not enough, evidently, to pay one cent for it. "Unfortunately we don't have the budget to offer compensation to our contributors…" is how the pertinent line usually starts. But just as often, they simply omit any mention of payment." (from:Slaves of the Internet, Unite! -

[FUNNY] Congress investigates problems with healthcare.gove

Really, this is NO JOKING MATTER

Rep. Upton said that "looking serious and nodding our heads a lot" contributed to the illusion that committee members had even scant comprehension of what was being discussed. "At the end of the day, a lot of it came down to not asking the questions you really wanted to ask," he said. "Like, 'What exactly is a Web site?'" (from Congress Spends Several Hours Pretending to Understand Internet : The New Yorker)

The Apple Store: Fascinating look behind the scenes

This was a fun read with lots of cool insights. If your blood pressure surges and adrenalin courses through your veins as you approach the big white electronic temple then read on. Here's an excerpt from: Retail Therapy: Inside the Apple Store:

Let's explore Loss Prevention. Theft hurts profit. Theft matters more with portable items of great value, like say a laptop, or a smartphone, or high- end speakers. Multiply that value by how many different models and spare parts an Apple store needs to keep in stock, and you have a few million dollars of goods on hand. Scale up more if it's a big flagship store. That warrants not only video cameras and bag searches of employees, but armed professionals. Apple stores have the equivalent of undercover Federal Air Marshals on hand, like my friend Brock.

Gripping story of restaurant

Who knew that a story about behind-the-scenes of a big restaurant could be gripping, but this one is. I guess it's a combination of a fascinating operation with outstanding writing. Check it out.

22 Hours in Balthazar -

Produce comes in, too -- 50-pound cases of russets from Idaho stacked head high and six deep; spinach, asparagus, celery, mushrooms, tomatoes -- as do dry goods, dairy and some 500 pounds of insanely expensive peanut oil for the French fries. The restaurant employs six stewards to deal with deliveries and storage alone; they weigh goods and check them against invoices, putting everything in its proper place, keeping the Health Department happy. At a typical restaurant, as much as one-third of the overhead goes to food costs, and so efficiency is an imperative. "Monday, you'll see," Kelvin Arias, the head steward, tells me, "all the walk-ins will be empty."

More about GreenGoose and the Brush Monkey

Amazing story of a great looking product, and awesome demo, on the spot investment of $100,000 and still… It didn 't work. The story was told by Scott Kirsner in the Boston Globe:

"Today, GreenGoose is out of business, and Krejcarek is grappling with $80,000 in credit card debt -- his approach to funding the company after investors' money ran out earlier this year. When he says, "I'm trying to scrape together spare change to buy gasoline," it's hard to tell if he's kidding." (from The Boston Globe)

You have to admire that the founder of Green Goose (Brian Krejcarek) was willing to share his experience with Scott and the rest of us. There are many lessons there. To really appreciate the story you need to see how it started, with the demo at the Launch Conference. It was an unbelievable and triumphant presentation:


And yet. Here's a page of Bonus material where you can read more of how it ended:

"Krejcarek says that the company spent much of the money it raised exploring different product concepts. By the time he launched Brush Monkey, there was about $200,000 left in the bank. The product wasn't simple enough for people to set up. And there was no big distribution partner putting it on store shelves and helping to promote it. "Distribution is probably one of the hardest problems for a startup to solve," he says." (from Innovation Economy, Scott's Blog)