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hopefully relevant commentary · January 2008

January 2008

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A fun, simple, addicting game.

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via email …

One top fuel dragster 500 cubic inch Hemi engine makes more horsepower than the first 5 rows of stock cars at the Daytona 500. (approx - 8000 hp)

Under full throttle, a dragster engine consumes 1-1/2 gallons of Nitro methane per second; a fully loaded 747 consumes jet fuel at the same rate with 25% less energy being produced.

A Dodge Hemi V8 street engine cannot produce enough power to drive the dragster’s supercharger.

With 3,000 CFM of air being rammed in by the supercharger on overdrive, the fuel mixture is compressed into a near-solid form before ignition.

Cylinders run on the verge of hydraulic lock at full throttle.

At the stoichiometric (stoichiometry: methodology and technology by which quantities of reactants and products in chemical reactions are determined) 1.7:1 air/fuel mixture of nitro methane, the flame front temperature measures 7,050 deg F. (approx - 14.7:1+ on a car)

Nitro methane burns yellow. The spectacular white flame seen above the exhaust stacks at night is raw burning hydrogen, dissociated from atmospheric water vapor by the searing exhaust gases.

Dual magnetos supply 44 amps to each spark plug. This is essentially the output of an arc welder in each cylinder.

Spark plug electrodes are totally consumed during a pass. After halfway, the engine is dieseling from compression, plus the glow of exhaust valves at 1,400 deg F. The engine can only be shut down by cutting the fuel flow.

If spark momentarily fails early in the run, unburned nitro builds up In the affected cylinders and then explodes with sufficient force to blow cylinder heads off the block in pieces or split the block in half.

In order to exceed 300 mph in 4.5 seconds, dragsters must accelerate an average of over 4G’s. In order to reach 200 mph (well before half-track), the launch acceleration approaches 8G’s.

Dragsters reach over 300 miles per hour before you have completed reading this sentence.

Top fuel engines turn approximately 540 revolutions from grenn light to finish light! Including the burnout, the engine must only survive 900 revolutions under load.

The redline is actually quite high at 9,500 rpm.

Assuming all the equipment is paid off, the crew worked for free, and for once NOTHING BLOWS UP, each run costs an estimate $1,000.00 per second. Most top fuel crews include 6 team members and a crew chief and today few of the top teams have anyone working for free. If you run 4 passes to qualify and 4 passes on Sunday that is about $64k plus crew, driver and breakage and there is plenty of that in Top fuel. No wonder they need Big sponsor bucks.

The current top fuel dragster elapsed time record is 4.441 seconds for the quarter mile (10/05/03, Tony Schumacher; which by the time you read this has been significantly broken).

The top speed record is 333.00 mph (533 km/h) as measured over the last 66′ of the run (09/28/03 Doug Kalitta; also demolished by this current date).

You are driving the average $140,000 Lingenfelter “twin-turbo” powered Corvette Z06. Over a mile up the road, a top fuel dragster is staged and ready to launch down a quarter mile strip as you pass. You have the advantage of a one mile flying start to reach your top speed. You run the ‘Vette hard up through the gears and blast across the starting line and pass the dragster at an honest 200 mph. The “tree” goes green for both of you at that exact split second moment. The dragster launches and starts after you.

You keep your foot down hard, but you hear an incredibly brutal whine that sears your eardrums and within 3 seconds, the dragster catches and passes you. He beats you to the finish line, a quarter mile away from where you just passed him by a significant margin. Think about it; from a standing start, the dragster had spotted you 200 mph and not only caught you, but nearly blasted you off the road when he passed you, all within a mere 1,320 foot long race course.

Sick….

That folks, is acceleration…

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A Tribute to Printing

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There’s a relatively new VC backed company called Earth Class Mail that threatens the existence of direct mail.  I bring this up because I have received some very compelling direct mail recently.  The first, was a letter that looked like it came from my mom.  The address was hand written by a woman.  It wasn’t printed in a hand written font, it was actually hand written, which was impressive.  Inside this friendly looking piece of mail was a folded up news paper clipping with a post-it note on it, also handwritten.  This article though, was announcing a local car dealership sale.  I saw that, and immediately set it aside, because I’m not in the market for a new car.  The piece, did however, astonish me at how creative and effective it was.  

Today, I also received another direct mail piece from the stock resource company Veer.  I’ve been on their mailing list for a while now because I love what they send me.  Their catalogs are printed on a very nice heavy stock.  The creative is exactly that … creative.  But what I love the most is the smell of high-quality print.  If you’ve ever worked at a commercial printing company you’ll know what I’m talking about.   Granted … the majority of direct mail just clogs up your mail box, but the people that know how to do it right give their recipients something great.  

I really don’t think direct mail is going away, but services like Earth Class Mail definitely threaten its existence.  Essentially it makes direct mail equivalent to email.  So what good does that do to companies spending thousands of dollars, sometimes millions, to get something physical in front of a potential customer? 

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I was thinking about my Gmail account yesterday and I realized how Google’s webmail program has really changed the way people use email. I graduated from TCU and came back to Phoenix, still having kept in touch with a good amount of people. Most of them went to U of A and during their time there they effectively created a user group with email. One person would send out an email “To:” one person, and “CC:” the other 30 or so. It was understood that if you wanted to be involved in this conversation you must hit “Reply to all” or be faced with friendly ridicule. So, I joined and soon became truly appreciative of the way Gmail combines all messages in a thread, displaying them in a conversation view. Some days there will be over 200 emails exchanged. I wanted to create a proper user group to get those emails out of my inbox, so I tested Google Groups out with a few people and it wasn’t fast enough. There were delays between when posts were made and people received notification emails. This wouldn’t do. I still haven’t found a group service that performs better than Gmail, and that was easy enough for those less tech savvy.

What’s interesting is these quick improper exchanges have changed the way everyone on our “List Serve” uses email. We all forgo the typical greeting and closing, saving time for everyone. Sometimes this leaks into my professional life, which I have also found, is becoming more and more common.

Recently I started receiving emails from a friend. These emails are simple, insightful ruminations about life. I was lucky enough to be included on the “CC:” list, along with about 50 others. Last week someone decided to “reply to all” with a comment, that on the surface, seemed insulting, when really it was an inside joke. Well, this sparked a chain of people “replying to all” in defense of our good friend. Some of those however, you could tell, were not used to the barrage of emails that comes from a group like this, and keep in mind, a lot of people on this Gmail group don’t know each other.

I think this uncovers an opportunity to create a group service that’s completely different than anything out there right now. Something that mimics Gmail, but public with available privacy settings. Something that really lets the conversation flow.

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I was talking with Sean Tierney of Jump Box at cocktails after Social Media Club last night about how the cable/television industry needs to change their ways.  Oh … by the way Sean is a fellow All Saints and Brophy alum … small world.  Anyways, we were discussing convergence, CES and the upcoming MacWorld.  Apple has already announced their eight core Mac Pros which leaves MacWorld wide open for something pretty revolutionary.  People have speculated about movie rentals through iTunes since movies were for sale through iTunes … predictable.

He brought up though, and I agree, that something needs to happen with the Apple TV.  It’s adoption has been meager to say the least, and not a whole lot of exciting things have been going on with it.  Apple has a history of keeping their software and hardware closed. Keeping the OS X/iTunes/iPod/Apple TV combination proprietary is a way for them to control their media supply chain.  But if you think of the Apple TV and Front Row as a platform it completely changes the game.  We think they will open up both of these, giving application developers a way to get their content to every Mac/Apple TV on the planet while making it accessible from the 10 ft. interface at the same time.  We already have YouTube content formatted for it.  What if any online video/photo/email/rss website were able to develop for Front Row/Apple TV.  This would motivate people to buy Apple TV’s, giving owners access to free content.  It would also give people more of a reason to buy a Mac Mini and hook it up to their TV’s, as well as allow people to rent and buy movies from iTunes straight from the couch.  What if Hulu built an application for it?  Think of the consequences.  Cable companies would soon become only Internet providers.  Instead of paying $100/mo. for cable TV service we could access the plethora of content availble on the Internet in a usable way.  Talk about convergence!  I can’t wait.

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I’m really a Mac/Gmail guy, but for those of us that are required to use Microsoft Outlook at work, this is something that can really help keep track of projects, clients and bosses.

In Outlook on the left, you’ll see all your folders (where your Inbox is).  If you look below your “Sent Items” you’ll see an item called “Search Folders.”  Basically, what this allow you to do is to create folders that automatically update based on search criteria.  So lets say you’re in a sales, or client management position and Pepsi is your client … you can create a search folder titled “Pepsi” that searches for “pepsi.com” in “frequently used fields.”  This will bring up every email that basically goes to and from someone who’s email address ends with “pepsi.com.”  You can put your bosses email address in there and it will keep track of every email to and from your boss, automatically organizing them.

To accomplish this, right click on “Search Folders” and click “New search folder.”  You’ll see a list of example search folders, scroll to the bottom of that and click “Create a custom search folder.”  Then click “Choose” and title your new folder.  Then click “Criteria,” this is where you enter your search criteria.  Specify something similar to “pepsi.com” in the “Search for word(s):” field and then “In:” “frequently used text fields.”  Click “Ok” until you’re done.  Then watch your new folder auto populate with all the relevant emails to your search.

What you can also do is right click on one of those search folders and click “Properties.”  Then select “Show total number of items.”  This will allow you to create a “one-look,” if you will, of all those neglected contacts.  Once you do this … ping em’ … just to say hi!  They’ll appreciate it.

Note:  You’ll get the hang of it, but until then monitor this new folder to make sure it’s aggregating all the emails you intend.  If it’s not, modify your search criteria until it does.

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Party Ideas

Tonight Joshua Strebel of BestPartyEver spoke about his experience being an entrepreneur. He was very insightful about trying to balance a legitimate business, life and a startup all at the same time. Another great Refresh Phoenix event.

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Google TV


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There have been lot of people talking about open positions surround television at Google over the past two years. So, it’s no surprise that Panasonic has announced a television which will use a Google service that allows people to download and browse content from the Internet.  Companies have always tried very hard to get content from your computer to the television. Gateway’s attempt in the 90’s proved extremely premature.   Now that there are a plethora of online video services like YouTube, this could be the time. Services such as Hulu, Joost and Fancast, though, are what really make this idea compelling.

Check out this short Red Herring article regarding the announcement.

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I ran across this on Guy Kawasaki’s blog. He posted a very interesting report by Merrill Lynch summing up their thoughts on Internet trends for 2008. Head on over to download it.

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Down with Web 2.0


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Andrew Keen’s new book The Cult of the Amateur talks about how the Internet is destroying our art and culture.  The “democratization of the Internet” or the “democratization of media” is actually destroying the quality of our content.  I saw him on The Colbert Report last night. Here you can see him speaking at Google. What do you think?

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Go Elf Yourself!


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Why didn’t I ever hear about this?  I feel so left out.Here is the Office Max holiday viral campaign write up at AdWeek.com

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Blue-ray Pulls Ahead


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Blue-ray Pulls AheadWell it looks like Blue-ray is pulling ahead in the format wars.  Sony actually might pull this one off.  How likely that really is, no one knows.  Sony has a history of trying to dominate markets with proprietary formats.  We see examples of that with Betamax and MiniDiscs, neither of which worked.  They may now, have the critical mass needed to make this happen.  I still don’t think anyone should throw down the money needed for a Blue-ray disc player just yet.  Microsoft is going to hold out for a while. Check out a good article regarding this issue in The Washington Post. CNET has done a nice technical comparison of the twoEngadget has one here as well

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