Pew Pew Laser Blog

Code. Glass art. Games. Baking. Cats. From Seattle, Washington and various sundry satellite locations.

Past Blogs

The Restaurant Dilemma.

11.24.2008

Over the past year, many restaurants have faced a dilemma. How to make up for rising source food costs? Generally the choice is to either put less food on the plates, or raise the retail price to consumers.

My advice - always raise the retail prices. Customers know that food costs are rising, and people will understand this upfront change. Less food is a 'hidden' change; Previously satisfied customers will be dissappointed when they discover a lesser product than what they were expecting.

Black Friday Shopping Tips.

11.21.2008

The annual post-Thanksgiving bacchanalia of commerce is upon us. If you want, there are some great deals to be had. Yes, you'll be getting up early. You didn't have a late night up with your family, did you? Suck it up, and use tryptophan to your advantage. Here are my tips for a successful Black Friday:

Alternately, just avoid the whole hassle, stay home in your pajamas and watch a DVD. The husband and I may get through the entire 12 hour Lord of the Rings trilogy in one day. Relaxing.

1 comment(s).

Services and Uptime.

11.19.2008

In summer, Amazon's S3 service (an image hosting service which offers high bandwidth and speed for a low cost) went down for several hours. This put many of th internet's most popular start-up / web 2.0 applications reliant on S3 off-line for the duration of the outage.

Last month, Gmail went down (for some folks) for a few hours. This affected Google customers paying for their GAPE service, as well as businesses relying on GMail for their email service.

It strikes me as bizarrely unprofessional that organizations had no backup systems ready for the S3 outage, and just plain kindergarten that some people were relying on a clearly labeled beta service for business critical communications. If they'd thought about it, they would have known that those services were going to fail someday. Even a service with 99.9% uptime will be down for 8.76 hours in a year.

Consider your critical procedures. What's your backup plan?

Cops and Robbers.

11.14.2008

I love stories of thievery, detective work and social engineering. It's one of the things I really enjoyed about working in L.P. at Hollywood. When reading this story about a foiled bank robber, I was reminded that retail stores will often use the same technique to dissuade potential thieves. (The bandit was caught later.)

I was also delighted to read this story from last week where a bank robber's inner tube-driven escape was aided by a phony job posting on Craigslist. It was another one of those "I'm gonna hear about this on Wait Wait" moments. (This bandit was also caught later - he should have worked a little harder on his internet anonymizing techniques.)

San Francisco.

11.11.2008

We've returned from a wedding / vacation in San Francisco. The wedding was charming, with just a touch of geek. Touring the city was fun, though we are looking forward to a few relaxing days back at work. We crammed a mighty amount of tourist activities into just a few days - Ghirardelli Square, Fisherman's Wharf, the Ferry Terminal, Golden Gate Bridge and Lombard Street. Whew!

2 comment(s).

Political Intrigue.

11.5.2008

I'm re-reading Interface, by Stephen Bury (aka Neal Stephenson) - a stunningly acute tale of an American Presidential election. It's particularly interesting considering this country's recent events and the perfect marketing packages created by both campaigns.

Also, if you'd like to hear Barack Obama take a firm stand against 2nd grade graduations, check out his appearance on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me from August 2005. Just scroll down to the "Not My Job" part, and click "Listen".

Vote Swag.

11.4.2008

I voted on Sunday - I read the pamphlet and filled out my absentee ballot while Sunday Night Football was on. Then I ate a chocolate. But there are election-day freebies to be had today:

Last Month

Next Month