Expedia’s Best Price Guarantee, like a grenade, just needs to be …. close.

Generally I like price guarantees which tell you that the company is 1) fairly confident they are usually offering the best pricing on stuff and 2) allow you to relax a bit and book while still surfing around for a better trip.

But Expedia’s “simple” and “Best price” guarantee did make me laugh a bit when I noted in the fine print that the Expedia airline ticket must be at least $6 more to qualify.  Not  a big deal of money (though with a family trip it’s enough to care about), yet somehow the notion of “best price” that is not the “best price” smacks of the kind of bogus pitch everybody is tired of hearing.

Wouldn’t it be nice if somebody had a good faith best price deal with no fine print where “best price” meant simply the best price for a comparable (rather than perfectly, exactly, unlikely-to-be-found-in-exact-same-form thing?

Kawasaki on new trends in marketing

Here is a nice summary of insights from Guy Kawasaki, clever marketing guru, about what young people are doing online and on phone.    Supports the ideas that the future is highly mobile and must be highly “permission based” in it’s marketing.

Won’t it be interesting if the new age of marketing becomes a lot like 1800 style marketing?   There, you’d go to the hardware store or the grocery and ask the retailer to hand you things.    In the new age this is becoming a trip to trusted niche sites (or Costco.com and Wal-Mart?) for information and shopping and then asking the computer to fetch stuff for you and add to your electronic shopping cart.

Yahoo Hack Day is Rocking!

Yahoo Hack Day is already shaping up to be a fantastic event. I really hate to miss this developer campout down in Sunnyvale that is featuring hands-on developer classes today, a yet-to-be-named big time entertainer tonight, and a hack contest tomorrow.   Folks are camping at the heavily Wi-Fi armed Yahoo campus in rooms and the lawn.   Cool.

Some resources for those of us who missed this are over at Jeremy’s blog.

Yahoo! …. I finally bought the company….well…I bought a little piece of Yahoo!.

I’ve been watching Yahoo the company and Yahoo the stock for over a year, and finally put my money where my mouth is and picked up 600 shares at 25.31

I feel the stock is really undervalued due to what should soon be a huge wash of new cash that Yahoo will get next spring from the launch of the publisher network to a wider audience.    This is Yahoo’s version of Google’s adsense which nets Google about 43% of their revenues and growing.     This is the long tail money and I think the smart money says the long tail money will eventually be the big money.   In the old days I would have thought “Wall Streeters MUST understand this process and thus the price MUST already reflect this”, but after the internet stock meltdown it was clear that Wall Street did not understand many aspects of the online economy and didn’t care about them much anyway.

Also important to my decision was that Yahoo’s been doing the best 2.0 stuff for some time.    For example today’s Yahoo Hack Day, a special event open to developers from all over, is a brilliant example of how Yahoo! wants to take back their old reputation as the coolest company and may just do it.

They deserve to be treated much better, both by online commenters and by Wall Street, because Yahoo!, far more than Google or MSN, is coming up with both simple and complex developer tools to facilitate the new internet, which is shaping up to be a monstrous, layered, interconnected, cross referenced and community-fied ocean of information where distinctions between websites and even businesses are broken down along the lines of what people need to learn and need to do.    That’s cool.

Action Buy
Symbol YHOO
Description YAHOO INC
Quantity 600
Order Type Market

Asphalt, the underrated innovation

Billions use it daily on roads and on roofs, but Asphalt really does not get the respect it deserves. Concrete too, but everybody loves a cement mixer and I think many boys fondly remember their toy truck cement mixer. However I don’t know any kids with a toy asphalt hot mix street paving vehicle.

“Mommy, I’m sorry I spilled tar all over the dog again….”

They are paving the road behind our house and I’m enjoying the symphony of engineering, construction, and innovation involved. The concrete sidewalk routine was impressive but the biggie with road building is the pavement itself.

I thought the Scot MacAdam invented it but NO WAY.

In fact I bet YOU didn’t know this Babylonian Asphalt fact:

The first recorded use of asphalt as a road building material was in Babylon around 625 B.C., in the reign of King Naboppolassar. In A Century of Progress: The History of Hot Mix Asphalt, published by National Asphalt Pavement Association in 1992, author Hugh Gillespie notes that “an inscription on a brick records the paving of Procession Street in Babylon, which led from his palace to the north wall of the city, ‘with asphalt and burned brick.’”

We know that the ancient Greeks were familiar with asphalt and its properties. The word asphalt comes from the Greek “asphaltos”, meaning “secure.” The Romans changed the word to “asphaltus,” and used the substance to seal their baths, reservoirs, and aqueducts.

Many centuries later, Europeans exploring the New World discovered natural deposits of asphalt. Writing in 1595, Sir Walter Raleigh described a “plain” (or lake) of asphalt on the Island of Trinidad, off the coast of Venezuela. He used this asphalt for re-caulking his ships.

Surely this proves that King Naboppolassar really deserves more of a place in history than he currently commands?

Search game score: US History: 37,600 US History Regents: 866,000 !

I actually grew up in New York and took the New York State Regent’s Exams but even I didn’t initially make the connection when doing some research to see how our site U-S-History.com is doing for various “US History” searches at Google.

Incredibly, the number of Google (and presumably other SE) searches for “US History Regents” appears to be many times those for US History. us history.com was pretty high with 216,000 but the “US History Regents” win by a landslide.

Update:  I may have been confusing the number of *results* with number of *searches* here…

Generalizing from this, Myspace success, etc we are starting to confirm a hypothesis that suggests online search activity is high school centric. I’m suggesting far more than most studies suggest – perhaps due to survey response bias or time online issues or the fact many studies are looking for info about more commercially viable audiences than a 15 year old teen boy.

Blog readers vs writers III – Cicarelli’s fleeting fame

Even thanks to a highlight by A-list blogger Jeremy of my AOL lawsuit post yesterday it looks like my Cicarelli “test post” is by far the top interest item here at Joe Duck, and it appears this is due to high placement at MSN for the term … Cicarelli.

This little Cicarelli experiment is suggesting to me that the gap between readers and blog writers is much wider than I’d thought, and it may change my approach to blogging.   Perhaps throwing in junk topic posts every so often is a good way to shake up search prominence even for non-junk topics.   Hard to test that but it seems to be happening – presumably as people who come for Cicarelli stay to read about …. Web 2.0 or Global health and welfare?!

But alas at Technorati we see that Cirarelli is down to search term number 9. I fear her fame, and mine, shall be as fleeting as a teenager’s search preferences.

Posts that contain Cicarelli per day for the last 30 days.
Technorati Chart
Get your own chart!

Mall of America on Travel Channel

Hey, I really like the Mall of America.    When we visit our Minnesota relatives we often head over there for a day and it’s really an intriguing place.   In some ways it’s the capital of American retail consumerism, a dubious but interesting distinction.   In a world fraught with violence, intolerance, war, disease, and hardship isn’t it nice to have four miles of enclosed, climate-controlled store fronts, amusement park, aquarium, and theme restaurants?   No?   C’mon, you call yourself an American?

Travel Channel notes:

The Mall of America is effectively an entire enclosed city. Designed by 40 architects and designers over a period of four years.

Giant Rectangle, allowing strolling without backtracing.
Each floor has over a MILE of storefront space.

4 malls in one with different themes:
North Garden

West Market – RR station theme.
South Avenue – Southern grand hotel theme.
East Broadway – modern high tech design

Glass sphere spy cams document shopper’s every move.

120 security gaurds plus dogs to sniff out trouble.

250k visitors daily during peak times

Camp Snoopy makes 25 million per year.

20,000 parking spots in 3 square miles of parking. State, symbol, and color designations to help mall visitors find their car.

20 sit down restaurants plus 30 fast food.

14 screen movie theater.

Chapel for marriages is the “Chapel of Love”.

5 themed restaurants and Hooters is the most popular watering hole in the mall.

Underwater Adventures is a huge aquarium located in lower sections.