Google is becoming my mother-in-law

I love Google, but I have to say lately Google has started to remind me of my Mother-in-law.

Here’s what I mean.

Google announced recently that they are going to be personalizing search results even if you are not logged into a Google account.
Presumably this means they will use your own search and surf patterns (or the ones of your PC – ever heard about shared PC’s?) and perhaps extrapolate from your IP Address (maybe people in your area or using your ISP have certain patterns of interest?) anyway Google will use this to give you more of what they think you like.

Let me tell you a story. My in-laws live in California, and are terrific people. When my wife and I got married my mother-in-law apparently really liked me and the first time I visited she went out of her way to find out what I liked so she could get it for me. I am fond of blueberries. Well, MIL found out and Boom! – 2 lbs of fresh blueberries. every day. So I branched out. I also like raspberries. Boom! raspberries and blueberries. You get the idea.

Sometimes I’m polite and I say something like, “thanks, the Hungarian goulash was really good.” even when I don’t actually love goulash. Next thing you know, “yep, Sam loves goulash, I’ll make him goulash every time I see him.”

So I end up eating a lot of blueberries and goulash and less of things I might really enjoy, like ribs, lasagna, etc.

So now I am more than a little weary of trying new things when my Mother-in-law is around – she’ll probably decide it’s my favorite and serve it up to me again and again.

Personalization should be a choice – when you go to your favorite eatery – the place where they know you – they usually don’t serve you that thing you always order – first they ask, “You havin’ your usual today?”

So Google, if you dont want to be my mother-in-law, please don’t decide what I like based on what I liked in the past, or what people like me usually like. There’s a lot to be said for exposure to new ideas, new websites etc.

At the 140 Conference in LA

Interesting conference. Lots about Celebrities and using Twitter!

Celebrities need to be twittering – it makes it real!!

1) Twitter is not mainstream enough yet if half of the speakers are still defining what twitter means to them.
2) Iphones are way more popular than Blackberries with the attendees of this conference.
3) Conferences where 90% if people are on their laptops are great for multitasking.
4) ADHD seems rampant at this conference.
5) The Kodak theater is smaller than I would have thought.

Why I love Craig’s List

When traveling to Houston last week to visit a client I picked up a copy of Wired magazine.
They kind-of trash Craig Newmark of Craig’s List. I met Craig – he’s a really nice guy – and he has done something very good. I would recommend not judging him as you would a founder of a big business. He’s just a guy with a list – that got big.

I wouldn’t run it the way he does – but I respect him.

And when we wanted to rent an RV a few weeks ago. Craig’s List was the best place to go.
Saved us a bundle. Very recommended.

Sometimes you gotta make your own.

For a few weeks a year I work from my company’s LA office – which is usually a real estate management office. Aside from being located above a Coffee Bean store (you gotta love $5 coffee!) and having wireless (plugged in my own wireless router last year – so it’s always here when I get here) there is also great bottled water. But today there were no cups. So I went online and found out that you can really make your own cup out of a piece of A4 paper – see: How to make your own paper cup.

It actually reminded me of when I was a little boy and I went to visit my Grandfather’s store in Philadelphia. My grandfather had a floor covering business – carpets and tiles. He also had a water machine that dispensed great water into little cone shaped cups made in about the same way as I made my paper cup today.

Anyway, the cup worked for a few “shlooks” but I think I’ll need to make a new cup soon…

Kudos to American Airlines – for doing nothing! (really!)

On Wednesday I experienced more flying and airports than I had every expected to, in a single day. It actually took more than 26 hours from takeoff – to final landing. I flew Tel Aviv – Barcelona – Madrid – New York – Los Angeles.

Aside from a very rude flight attendant who refused to allow me to bring my carry-on (the same carry-on that was allowed on 3 subsequent flights on other airlines – the same day!) my travels went fine.

The reason I got to Los Angeles in one piece was especially thanks to American Airlines.
On my final flight I chose a good seat from the electronic check-in kiosk. Back of the plane – empty row in the middle section. I ended up moving to the middle seat so that no one would try to take my staked claim.

American Airlines gets kudos for not even bothering to try to wake me up for landing – I actually slept sprawled across three seats with pillows and blankets – all the way to the gate!

Sometimes the best customer service is to just let the customer be!

( I was so tired I didnt even try out the in-flight wifi for $7.95 – that’s pretty tired…)

Israel’s Channel 2 reports: Headscarves Mandatory for all Gaza Women

The media is full of reports today that in Hamas-controlled Gaza, the local leadership has decreed that female lawyers must cover their hair. But on Israel’s channel 2 this evening there was a report that ALL women in Gaza are now forced to wear head coverings.

In the report Silman A-Shafi, the Arab reporter reports that there are now thugs roaming the streets both in uniform and out of uniform to enforce these laws.

They interview several young women some pro and some against the new law.

They show the beach and how women now have to go fully dressed into the beach, though they are swimming in women-only area.

Haaretz – a left-wing Israeli paper is reporting the same thing – in English.

The London-based newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi reported that the organization’s Gaza government had recently approved a series of laws, a Muslim code of conduct of sorts, meant to guard Muslim religion and morals. These guidelines join an increasing amount of reports from Gaza residents saying that modesty patrols were forcing women to wear head coverings, especially at Gaza’s beaches, and that they were inspecting isolated cars in order to prevent unmarried couples being alone together.

I am confused – how is it that Israel’s media has such a different story than the rest of the media?

See for yourself: here.

This is the Google translation of the blurb on that page:

Is the world okay with a new Iran-style regime popping up?
I think it’s a disaster.

Swine Flu is big in Britain

Wow – this is not good news lots of people in Britain are coming down with Swine Flu.
This article troubled me some..

Britain’s department of health said Thursday that 840 people have been hospitalized with swine flu and 63 are in intensive care. There have been 31 swine flu deaths.

Officials have instructed people not to go to a doctor if they have symptoms but instead to visit a new swine flu Web site or call a flu hot line, staffed by people with no medical training.

Remind me that if I am ever ill with a disease sweeping my country – one that is claiming lives and hospitalizing people – I should go to a website instead of a doctor.

Sounds like a good plan to me.

Refuah Shleima – Good Health and Speedy Recovery to all of our friends in the UK.

Shhhhh! the President is sleeping!

paris 283
For our trip to Paris 2 weeks ago we used Priceline to get 2 rooms at the HILTON Arc de Triomphe for $225/night per room.
Excellent hotel – very recommended. (The theoretical price posted on the inside of the door was a whopping €1,500/night!)
Anyway, across the hall from our room we noticed 2 African men who seemed to be present all of the time. We eventually asked them who they were, only they didn’t speak French or English. (as if my French would have allowed for a meaningful conversation about anything other than ‘the pencil is on the table’…)

It turned out that they were from a country called Guinea Bissau, in Africa. As far as I know it’s the only country in Africa that I had never heard of. Bordering with Senegal, Guinea Bissau is a former Portuguese colony with a population of 1.5 Million. Turns out the President was staying across the hall and this was his security. There seemed to be additional security people in the lobby including French ‘Inspector Clouseau’ lookalikes.

Daniel, my 13 year old says to me ‘Abba, it’s a nice Hotel, but shouldn’t the President be staying somewhere nicer?’ I think the president doesn’t know about Priceline… Anyway I told my wife that if I am ever president I will want to at least get a room on an executive floor with a 24-hour lounge stocked with grapes and butter cookies…

Well, staying across from the President has certain advantages. Firstly, we were able to leave our double stroller in the hall instead of folding it up – we had guards around the clock.. Also it was very effective in getting the kids to quiet down at night – shhhhh! the president is sleeping. You know what they do to kids who don’t quiet down outside the president’s home in Guinea Bissau? You don’t want to know…

Just before setting out for the airport we told the guards we wanted to meet the president. He was happy to meet us and get his picture taken with us – he even gave me a high five as he exclaimed “Guinea Bissau” – as if it was the name of our favorite hockey team! It may have been the first time that a head of state gave me a high five.

Before parting with my new friend I said the blessing reserved for the occasion of meeting a king or ruler. I had explained to Mr. President that we were from Israel and that we were thrilled to meet him. I also told him about the blessing I was going to say. He gave me another high five.

We had wanted to invite the president to visit us in Israel – but did not get a chance. If the president or any of his buddies are listening please let me know – we are always happy to have the president as our guest!
Continue reading