Wednesday, December 30, 2009

This Ending Decade


According to our local newspaper are ending decade (the last ten years) has been named The Search Decade. This is because of GOOGLE, How many times have you asked a question only to be told Google It? I have, so often that that is what I do, I Google it.

Here is a copy of the local papers article:


We had the Roaring '20s and the Swinging '60s. Then came the Me Decade and the Greed Decade. The 10-year period that's about to end, say historians and social critics, was "a big-bang decade," "a historical pivot," "one huge tectonic shift."

But what to call it?

Here's a thought: The company of the decade is Google. The word of the decade is what that company lets us do. Search. The decade felt like a big white screen with those clean Google graphics and that blank box with the blinking cursor.

This was the Search Decade.

Sept. 11, 2001: Why do they hate us? Where is bin Laden?

Hurricane Katrina in 2005: Where is the aid? Who is in charge?

The economic panic and collapse in 2008: How did this happen? Who do we blame? What do we do?

And finally the election as president of a person who grew up in Indonesia and Hawaii, the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas: What's an American? Who are we? Where do we come from, and where are we going?

Taptaptap. Typetypetype.

Searching.

"It feels almost like Exodus," said Robin Sloan, co-creator of EPIC 2014, a prescient short film about the future of news, and us, that first screened in St. Petersburg in 2004.

"We're wandering now."

"It's ironic, but the bigger the Internet gets the more difficult it is to find a simple, accurate answer to your questions," Google co-founder Larry Page said at the beginning of this decade. "The more information there is out there, the more likely you are to get junk or lies for an answer."

He ended up being more right than even he, the Stanford prodigy, thought he would be.

The name Google comes from googol, the number 1 followed by 100 zeroes, which conjures infinity. We can find today more information more quickly than ever before. The same will be true tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that. The power of this capability is limited only by how we use it.

It's the paradox of search.

Said Page: "You are fighting with chaos."

The magazine The Futurist says the world population is on track to produce about 988 billion gigabytes of data per year by 2010. That's this week.

We search for music on iTunes. We search for TV on Hulu. On MySpace, Facebook and Twitter, we search for love, friends and contact.

We click REQUEST.

But where's Bin Laden?

Maybe he's in Pakistan. Maybe he's in Afghanistan. We haven't had a solid lead on al Qaida's leader since the battle of Tora Bora in the winter of 2001.

Blank box. Blinking cursor.

• • •

"The remarkable achievement of Google," Rick Fairlie wrote this month in PC Magazine, "is that it has become our brain."

Overstatement? Could be.

Try this then: "Google," Ken Auletta wrote earlier this year in his book Googled, "is the front door to the world."

The Google guys, Page and Sergey Brin, met as computer science graduate students in California, at Stanford, and in the past 11 years have gone from their dorm rooms in Palo Alto to a garage in Menlo Park to the 1.5 million-square-foot headquarters in Mountain View called the Googleplex and on to offices all over the planet.

The company has gone from 10,000 searches a day in 1998 to 100,000 in 1999 to being the world's largest search engine in 2000.

It went public in 2004. It bought YouTube in 2006. Google Mail came in 2004, Google Maps in 2005, Google Calendar in 2006. Revenues were $86 million in 2001, $439 million in 2002, $1.4 billion in 2003, $6.1 billion in 2005, $16.5 billion in 2007, more than $20 billion now. It became a word in the Oxford English Dictionary in 2006. To google. You can do it in more than 100 different languages.

Look it up. Google Earth isn't just an app.

Taptaptap. Typetypetype.

We search for news. We search for deals. We search for sex.

Our searches tell the story of the decade. They show sometimes what we need, but always what we want; sometimes who we strive to be, but always who we really are.

In 2001: World Trade Center, Pentagon, Osama bin Laden. Iraq was the No. 7 search in 2003.

The top four searches of 2004? Britney Spears. Paris Hilton. Christina Aguilera. Pamela Anderson.

In 2005: MySpace, Wikipedia, Katrina. In 2007: iPhone, Facebook, YouTube. In 2008: Obama, Palin, Fox News.

In 2009: unemployment, bankruptcy, foreclosure.

• • •

Back in May 2000, which wasn't that long ago, which was forever ago, the New Yorker's Michael Specter wrote a piece partly about Google in which he felt it necessary to define search engines: "programs that hunt for Web pages in response to specific words or phrases."

"Search and Deploy" was the story in which Page said what he said about junk, lies and chaos. Looking back, the quote can be read as almost prophetic, tautological verse:

The bigger the Internet gets

The more difficult it is

To find a simple, accurate answer

They are "utopians," the Google guys, one of Page's old professors once said, audacious and optimistic and with full faith in the power and the value of technology.

"Certainly," Brin said in Newsweek in 2004, "if you had all the world's information directly attached to your brain, or an artificial brain that was smarter than your brain, you'd be better off."

Certainly.

"The solution," he said that same year in Playboy, "isn't to limit the information you receive. Ultimately you want to have the entire world's knowledge connected directly to your mind."

The interviewer asked: Is that what we have to look forward to?

"I hope so," Brin said.

• • •

Hope.

We went in this decade from an all-time stock market high in 2000 to the worst recession since the Great Depression, from 4 percent unemployment to more than 10 percent, from unprecedented home ownership to unprecedented foreclosure.

Four-in-five Americans say household debt is a serious problem. The median household income went from $52,500 in 2000 to $50,303 last year. The percentage of us who have no health insurance went up. The percentage who trust our leaders went down.

"The Decade From Hell," Time called it, or "the Reckoning, or the Decade of Broken Dreams, or the Lost Decade." Lost control, lost security, lost ideas — like the idea that America is somehow different, sheltered, better.

Since 2002, according to Pew polls, satisfaction with the overall state of the country has declined. In 2006, according to a CNN poll, 54 percent of us considered the American Dream "unachievable."

Peter C. Whybrow wrote about this in 2005 in American Mania: When More Is Not Enough. "For many Americans," he said, "the hallowed search for happiness has been hijacked by a discomforting and frenzied activity."

Taptaptap. Typetypetype.

"In America," Whybrow concluded, "we are not as happy as we are rich."

Abundance doesn't mean contentment, and the paradox of choice — the more we have, the more we want — is not unlike the paradox of search.

Sloan's short film from 2004 points out the good and the bad of this new information overload: "a summary of the world, deeper, broader and more nuanced than anything ever available before," the narrator says — also, though, too often "merely a collection of trivia, much of it untrue, all of it narrow, shallow and sensational."

This, at the end of the Search Decade, is what we've kind of always known, only in the extreme: The more good information we have, the more bad information we have, and it's up to us to sort it, sift it, interpret it.

It's not about having information. Because we're about to have it all. It's about using it. It's about what has to happen after taptaptap and typetypetype.

• • •

What Google searches best is the static Web. It doesn't search, or at least not as well, the "real-time" Web, the social networks, the status updates on Facebook or the tweets on Twitter.

"We'll look back at a decade of having our short-term information needs fulfilled," Mike Grehan of SearchEngineWatch.com said last week. "So satisfying your long-term information need is what this next decade will be about."

Meaning.

Fulfillment.

Happiness.

Blank box. Blinking cursor.

The new search is the old search.

Michael Kruse can be reached at mkruse@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8751.

Sources: Googled: The End of the World as We Know It, by Ken Auletta; Planet Google: One Company's Audacious Plan to Organize Everything We Know, by Randall Stross; Reset: How This Crisis Can Restore Our Values and Renew America, by Kurt Andersen; The Way We'll Be: The Zogby Report on the Transformation of the American Dream, by John Zogby; The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google, by Nicholas Carr; American Mania: When More Is Not Enough, by Peter C. Whybrow; The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less, by Barry Schwartz; The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse, by Gregg Easterbrook; "Search and Deploy," The New Yorker, May 29, 2000, by Michael Specter; "The Politics of Rage: Why Do They Hate Us?" Newsweek, Oct. 15, 2001, by Fareed Zakaria, "Rethinking the American Dream," Vanity Fair, April 2009, by David Kamp; "Lost decade," The Economist, March 13, 2009; "The Decade From Hell," Time, Dec. 7, 2009, by Andy Serwer; "The Ferality Show," New York, Dec. 14, 2009, by Michael Hirschorn.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The True meaning of Christmas


I was playing around on the internet and stumblrd across this article written by a sixth grade student. It his modern version of the true meaning of Christmas. I thought it was interesting enough to share. Its a great read, I hope you enjoy it!

Many people have different thoughts about Christmas.

Young children think of it as an excuse to get a load of presents. Parents think of it as a very stressful time of year where you're running through the mall like a crazy person.

Deep down though, we all know that Christmas is a very religious time of year. (Okay, so the young children don't yet know, but you know what I mean).

There's an old religious story about the birth of Christ that should explain the true meaning of Christmas.

Hundreds of years ago in the religious town of Bethlehem, there was a couple named Mary and Joseph. They were going to give birth to a child and they couldn't find an inn with an empty room anywhere.

I know what you're thinking "Of course they can't find a room! I'd like to see you try to get a hotel room during Christmas!"

Remember, this was before Christ was born, so there was no holiday on December 25th.

As I was saying, they walked from inn to inn for days. Finally they found a place to stay, but this wasn't an inn. This was a barn! Now I know that this seems strange, but remember: they have been walking from inn to inn, and they were getting desperate. That barn was a stroke of luck. Anyway, they decided this was the best they were going to find, so they remained there and Jesus Christ was born and placed in a manager.

Three wise men were sent to find this special child, deemed a saviour. As they wandered in search of the child, they followed the north star to make sure they didn't get lost on their journey. When they found the child, they showed their respect and goodwill through gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh (those last two are fragrant spices). Though these don't seem like amazing gifts for a baby (I mean OTHER than the gold), they'd probably be considered an iPhone, a MacBook and a Wii by today's standards.

There you go. A quick skim-over of the story of how Jesus Christ was born and the true meaning of Christmas with a modern twist.

William Shakespeare, eat your heart out!

By Jake Michaud

Grade 6

Hillcrest School

Sunday, December 20, 2009

So Much Sadness


This is suppose to be a happy time of year! Family and friends getting together, gift giving, dinners and just plain old family fun and caring. Unfortunately this year is a sad time for many, way to many. I think back to this time last year and things were good, not perfect, but real good. We were able to pay our bills do some shopping and have a nice family get together.

This year we are behind on our mortgage, shopping for Christmas is not in the mix. The business we bought in May has drained us. Like so many others we are in financial need. I have not felt this way in so many years, and I can say I don't like it, and I am open to suggestions on how to fix it. Selling the business is not an option, losing our home is not an option.

This business venture has ruined my credit so I doubt I could even get an equity loan on my house. My credit cards are maxed out and cash funds depleted. My sales have improved a little each month but its just not fast enough or high enough to cover the expenses. I have been trying to add things to draw in a new customer base but its very hard. You know the old saying it takes money to make money.

I have mentioned my breakfast special before, The $2 HOLLAR, people like it its a great bargain for my customers a real recession buster. Sales have improved from a $30.00 average to a $70.00 a day average sounds real good but the profit is only about .50 an order if careful portion control is used. I go in every morning at 4:30 A.M. and start cooking. We also have very good lunch specials and always trying out new things. Tomorrow its chicken and sausage gumbo served with rice and bread and Pasta shells surprise (hamburger helper), veggie and bread.

I have even added fresh produce, the deal of the day 5 tangerines for $1.00, the grocery store is .50 each. Its doing OK all has been impulse sales and my produce guy has been a real help, he is selling to me at his cost to get me started. The only wrench in this one, I have to wait for the state to issue me a permit to use a scale and then wait for them to certify the scale to be able to sell by the pound, in the mean time every thing is by the each or basket. (I can't wait for strawberry season)

One of my homeless customers brought me a register report from the RaceTrac across the street, he got this from their dumpster while digging for cardboard to make a sign to fly. I was in total awe when I read this reading, not really sure if jealous or angry. The reading was from last Thursday they sold over 13,000.00 in merchandise and 41,000.00 in gasoline if this is their average they do in 4 days what it takes me an entire month to do in merchandise sales and 1 day for a month in gasoline.
This just proves what I was saying in a earlier post, The big corporate company has plenty of money to weather this recession and the small business man trying to live the American Dream is living an American nightmare.

I'm on a soap box again, sorry. I was just trying to say there are a lot of sad and hurting people out there and I think everyone should pray for them and us and your own family and friends. Pray that no one else looses their jobs, homes, family and friends. That folks stay warm and fed. That brighter and prosperous days are close by.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Mr. President..... A Message For You!




Help, I need somebody,
Help, not just anybody,
Help, you know I need someone, help.

When I was younger, so much younger than today,
I never needed anybody's help in any way.
But now these days are gone, I'm not so self assured,
Now I find I've changed my mind and opened up the doors.

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being round.
Help me, get my feet back on the ground,
Won't you please, please help me?

And now my life has changed in oh so many ways,
My independence seems to vanish in the haze.
But every now and then I feel so insecure,
I know that I just need you like I've never done before.

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being round.
Help me, get my feet back on the ground,
Won't you please, please help me.

When I was younger, so much younger than today,
I never needed anybody's help in any way.
But now these days are gone, I'm not so self assured,
Now I find I've changed my mind and opened up the doors.

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being round.
Help me, get my feet back on the ground,
Won't you please, please help me, help me, help me, oh.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Free Online Games



Free games are great when you have time to kill, or just can't sleep. Pogo.com is a great place to play. You may even make a friend or two in the chats(if your into that). Occasionally I get the chance to play, and a fun game is golf solitaire or boggle bash but I'm to slow for that game. This photo is of my mini on pogo. Whats your favorite game? Are you a free or paid member? Each has its advantages.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Small Business vs. The Corporate Giant

In today's economy I think we all need to make an important decision. Stand by the corporate giants like 7-Eleven and Hess or support our small business owners. The huge corporations have millions of dollars to withstand this recession while the little guy is going under and closing their doors.

A little history: I used to be a manager for 7-Eleven for 27 years. In the last few years they started to franchise here in Florida. The deal they made sound so sweet but when you did the math they are in my opinion taking advantage of the franchisee, 7- Eleven wants 48 to 52% of the profits and then you as the franchisee pay all the bills out of what is left. I did not like this and was scared of being in the unemployment line with the millions of others, so I went out on my own. This action has taken up my entire life savings, every time I feel I am making progress another stumbling block is thrown in my way.

I have learned a lot over the past 7 months, like I never concerned myself with the cost of things like straws or cup lids and napkins. Believe it or not these and many others are very costly items. I have learned the companies like Coca Cola and Pepsi take advantage and hold hostage the small business owner. You as the store owner must have so much space given to them, carry items that you just sit on, and buy large amounts to get a reasonable price to be able to compete with the big dogs. I don't know how many times I have to pay say $8 for a case of 12 pack soda when Hess or RaceTrac is selling them 2 for $5 or 2 for $6.00. How if this fair?

Beer on the other hand is regulated the beer companies have to offer everyone the same price no matter who you are. But the more you can buy the better discount you can get, therefore offer the consumer a better retail. Of course most small business owners do not have the funds to buy in a 50 case deal in order to do this. The big guns do and most of the time do not pass it along to the consumer.

Cigarettes, not only was there a federal tax increase in April but the state of Florida did an additional $1.00 per pack tax in July. Every retailer had to pay a $1.00 per pack for every pack of cigarettes in their store on July 1st. Ouch This One REALLY HURT!!! The cigarette companies offer what they call a buy-down for the space you allow them and you must sign a contract and follow their rules. Marlboro for example wants their product displayed in the shape of a T. You have to do this because you will sell more of their product than any other premium brand. Lorillard The makers of Newport want the top two shelves this can't happen because of Marlboro, unless you can afford to buy your own rack and not use the cigarette companies rack. So the perfect example is Newport if I buy wholesale it cost me 52.74 a carton or I can walk across the street and pay $44 and some change plus tax for a carton and only sell single packs. Also with the buy down you must pay the full price in advance and wait for your check to arrive once a month. In the mean time you may only be making 25 to 30 cents a pack as you sell them. The big dogs offer a multi pack discount, but of course they have the buying power, and if you buy a single pack your were screwed and they did not even say thank you. The little guy like me will offer a more consistent single pack price at a more reasonable price.

The vendors as I hope you can see have us by the balls and who are they The Big corporate giant, Go Figure! Who are the ones they pretend to have the super deals stores like 7-Eleven and Hess, the Big Corporate Giants.

Any how off my rant and back to my point. We all need to decide, shop with the small business owners, not just convenience stores but small businesses of all kinds or stand by the corporate giant and let the rich keep getting richer. It is my belief that if we shop with and do business with the small business owner we will all be doing our part in helping the economy to a speedier recovery. We will help one an other survive in a time that is destroying our lives and livelihood. We will regain self confidence and self respect. And most importantly we will be helping our fellow American.

And You never know what kind of awesome deals you might find. At my store we offer a breakfast you can't beat. 2 biscuits and sausage gravy, or scrambled eggs, grits or hash browns, and your choice of bacon, sausage links or patty, chicken and toast for $2.00 even McDonald's can't beat that.