Ad Blocking Backlash – Can the User Tell Good From Bad?

Been reading a lot about the new ad blocking feature in iOS 9 and this post from John Gruber at Daring Fireball stood out. He comments, “Are we fighting ads, or are we fighting garbage?”

John, I would argue that we are fighting the latter, the problem is that for the layperson, they don’t know the difference since they can’t tell which ad service is doing nefarious things and which are good (like the one you use). Therefore, with this new feature, users are opting to just block everything since they have no way of knowing the difference.

StubHub is a crybaby, f’ing grow up!

So StubHub and Ticketmaster are going at it again. Or more accurately, StubHub is whining like a little kid and crying to their mommy for help. Here’s the link… http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-02/stubhub-vs-ticketmaster-can-a-scalper-be-a-fan-s-best-friend-

See, this is all about access to tickets…. StubHub wants folks to be able to do whatever they want with their tickets: the ability to resell them, etc. Their latest tiff is about limits that Ticketmaster is enforcing with one of the NBA teams about resales.

I’m not going to go into all the details, you can read the article linked above for that, but Ticketmaster isn’t doing anything that hasn’t been done for decades. Not to mention that it’s a business decision by the clients (e.g. the teams) not Ticketmaster. Sending tickets out at the last minute so they can’t be resold our counterfeited is a legitimate thing to do and solves a number of issues. Feel free to contact me and I can explain more….

But to back it up… sending tickets out last minute has been done for just about every major event for decades: World Cup, Olympics, etc.! A clause on the back of season tickets has said that they can’t be re-sold, again for decades, and if I wasn’t traveling, I’d scan an old Lakers ticket and show you.

So StubHub is just crying because they can’t make money off the sweat of someone else’s brow. And the clients don’t want them to do that, so they have a contract with Ticketmaster for resale, where they get a cut of the vig. Makes sense to me.

StubHub, if you want to play in the ticketing business, do the hard work and develop a primary ticketing service and stop whining! As the joke goes, “wanna impress me Stevie Wonder, drive!”

Oh, and my last thoughts on this… I was involved in the last anti-trust case against Ticketmaster in the 90’s. That was defeated, hands down, and this one will be to. StubHub doesn’t have a case because Ticketmaster isn’t doing anything that their clients aren’t asking them to provide a service for. No one is holding a gun to their heads, and StubHub can’t provide the services that they require, so they are getting it where they can, from their primary ticketing provider! Period.

Amazing Meal at Bazaar

Last night, my girlfriend Michelle and I had the opportunity to have a fantastic meal. See, I am in this kind of “wine fraternity” and members are responsible throughout the year for chairing dinners. I am co-chairing one in January, the theme is Spanish (dinners often follow a theme, be-it tastes such as “Spanish” or a wine maker is brought in, blah blah blah….) so we have been having meals at Spanish themed/style restaurants as we narrow down our choices and work with the chef on a menu and wine pairings. Last night’s meal was at Bazaar, the restaurant by Jose Andreas in Los Angeles.

First let me say that it’s a great space. Large, lots of tables and activity with dining areas off from the central bar. It has some noise, but isn’t that the case with all trendy restaurants these days, yet here you can still here your date talk :-). We also got to take a look at the SAAM room, which they have for private parties. That was the opposite of the main areas, being quiet and subdued with natural tones and wood paneling, etc.

Before I get to the menu, I should say it’s the folks made last nights meal. By that I mean that the food was great, but the staff made it phenomenal. Their attention to detail in every aspect was nothing if not superb. The sommeliers helped us with our wines and gave us some suggestions for our dinner (and I look forward to more help… I need a white to start with), the chef paid a visit and discussed the menu… even Jose Andreas was in the house and cooking too, wearing his whites. Everyone spent a considerable amount of time wanting to know more of what we wanted/needed/were interested in for our wine group dinner, all the while making sure that this experience was fantastic….

Well they did their jobs :-)!! I haven’t taken the time to see what of this is actually on the menu and what was done for us and the tasting menu, here it is in all it’s glory, but please understand that these short descriptions just don’t do the items justice, I was trying to write and not be rude at the table…

  1. Artichoke chips
  2. White asparagus with yogurt and olive
  3. Lox and cream cheese – a small cone with herb cream cheese in the bottom with salmon roe on top
  4. Watermelon with tomato caviar (the heart of the tomato)
  5. Bun with caviar and lemon foam
  6. Philly cheesesteak
  7. Brussel sprouts
  8. Caprese – the mozzarella was liquid and sphere-ized. think a balloon of mozzarella filled with liquid mozz. :-)… and even the tiny little tomatoes had been blanched and skinned so that they melted in your mouth for this great burst of flavor. Yum!
  9. Shrimp cocktail – I am not a big fan of seafood, but I’d order this again in heartbeat. This would make me eat shrimp regularly… It had just a hint of heat with some garlic and a pepper on top.
  10. Calamari – in ink…
  11. Tuna civiche
  12. Roasted red pepper
  13. Chicken with dates and mustard
  14. Steak with pepper confit
  15. Wild mushrooms and rice
  16. Lamb with mushrooms and potato
  17. Cauliflower couscous
  18. Pork Sausage with white beans
  19. Nitro coconut
  20. Hot chocolate mouse
  21. Chocolate chip cookies

And that was the food…. We had to wash it all down, so this is what we drank.

  • 2007 Bodegas Los Bermejos Lanzarote Diego Sec
  • 2006 Mas Doix Priorat Salanques
  • 2004 Bodegas y Viñedos Alión Ribera del Duero
  • 2005 Bodegas Pintia (Vega-Sicilia) Toro Pintia
  • 2004 Bodegas AAlto Ribera del Duero AAlto
  • One more for desert, but i can’t find it anywhere… a sweet white desert wine from Bodegas Los Bermejos as well.

This was a really fabulous meal, I can’t express that enough. Folks should make this a regular stop for a quick nosh or the extravaganza that was our meal. We sat down at 6:30 and left at almost midnight, and it was worth every minute!

Los Angeles Police/Courts are Broken!!!

So we all know that I got a ticket the other day crossing the street in downtown LA. today I called to try to resolve/pay the fine. I went through the automated phone system and the one online and it had no record of me or the citation (I guess that’s good), so I opted to wait on hold for half an hour to speak with an operator.

When I got an operator, she said that she had no record of it and that it would take up to 21 days for my citation to be in the system. But what about traveling for the holidays, etc.? I told her that I won’t be around then and I’d like to resolve this sooner. Again, she said that she had no proof of the ticket (citation #0578636) but I told her I did, it was in my hand.

When I asked her for her name, she said, and I quote, “Now you are just playing games sir. You signed the ticket saying you would appear, so you have to. Goodbye” and hung up on me….

So here’s the question… should I go downtown to the courthouse and pay/resolve the citation, whether or not it’s in the system? And if it’s not in the system for 21 days, half of the time that I am allowed to get this resolved, and I try to resolve it but they have no record of the ticket, what’s next? If i am going out of town yet they can’t process the citation ’cause of their system, why should I be penalized for their incompetence?

As a former software guy, you have got to be kidding that citations don’t show up in the system for 21 days… What is the officer doing and why does it take 3 weeks for me to be able to give the city of LA money…?

LAPD Have Nothing Better To Do…?

I was downtown today with and as I crossed the street, the walk sign just started flashing as I stepped into the crosswalk, I was given a ticket. The officers involved were standing quietly behind a post, in the alcove of a building entrance, private property by the way, and asked if they could talk with me. They asked with such a quiet voice that I said, “excuse me?” and they repeated themselves and I stepped over to them….

lapd.jpg
At that point the two officers expressed that I was going to get a ticket for crossing against the light, etc. I’ve gotten many a ticket before, but never for crossing the street. What gets me is that the police officers were really rude… OK, one was quiet and didn’t say anything, it was obvious that he was the junior if not still training (the other officer told him what to do, how to fill out the ticket etc.).

The one female officer really had a power trip going on. When I asked her about this, she was belligerent. At this point I figured I better start documenting this, so I took a picture of the two officers. I also started recording the conversation on my iPhone via the voice memo feature. I asked her for a business card and the badge numbers of both officers and they were reticent to give them out. I had to ask multiple times for the information and only after they were finished writing me up would they give the the info, and then they wouldn’t give me their badge number. They insisted that a serial number is all that I need…. What’s a serial number for a police officer? I now from Adam about that, having been ingrained in all of our heads for decades, get the badge number. I had to look at their badges and get the number myself, they did not volunteer it.

Just for reference, the officers were:
Officer Alvarado – serial #39795, badge #20947
Officer Haro – serial #23019, badge #8699

While they are writing me the ticket, one of the officers had asked me to “stand there” and pointed, and I moved to the spot…. while I was talking with her and asking for badge numbers, etc. she kept pointing to other places that she wanted me to stand. I moved, then moved again, each time, all of about one foot. She was just having fun making me move around…. When she asked me to move once again, I said that I am standing exactly where she told me to and that I hadn’t moved, why do I have to move again, that’s when she called for a car and a sergeant came to the scene with another officer.

So in the end, I got a ticket for using a crosswalk when the no crossing signal was flashing. Don’t LAPD officers have more important crimes to deal with than folks crossing the street? Wouldn’t it benefit the officer from not having a power trip and making me move from place to place. BTW, the reason stated by officer Haro why I had to wait to get their info was so one officer could write and the other could be on “look-out”… but remember there were now 4 officers there, she was just doing that power trip thing again!

And folks wonder why the police are so monumentally disliked…. Maybe if they treated folks the same way that they liked to be treated their job would be easier!

The Start of a New Wine & Food Season

menu_xiv.jpgSo it’s the beginning of a new season of a group of gentlemen that have been dining and drinking together, many of them for decades…. They have been gracious enough to allow me into the fraternity, which was far more nerve racking than it was in college, and last night’s event starts the new season. It was an evening of wine from Scholium with Abe Schoener (the winemaker) in attendance held at Michael Mina’s XIV.

For the wines, I can say little more than fantastic. I was introduced to Scholium wines a couple of years ago by a friend, and am very glad that he did. I have bought a number of his wines for both drinking and cellaring, and have enjoyed them all. Abe does some really great things with a grape and takes risks and chances that many don’t, often to spectacular results. Here is what we drank with the meal….

While nothing is ever perfect (a couple of the wines were poured “backwards” and I got a bit lost as to what was what and got re-poured) the wine service was really nice and they did a great job juggling what was a gazillion glasses. We started with the champagne which was very unique. It comes from some clippings of Pinot Noir from England that was brought to Napa and then moved into the whites that went with the first three courses. We then had the next two wines with the halibut and the salmon, and finished the meal off with the reds…. The Babylon Tenbrink is a BIG wine, one of the biggest you’ll drink.

As for the food, you can click through to see the entire menu, it was good. It’s hard to cook for a group of 30, so a couple of the things came out luke warm, but the taste was always there. A couple of outstanding winners: the sweet corn soup, Kobe shortrib and the explorateur. When it came to these dishes, they are some of the best of their kind that I’ve had. Truly outstanding examples.

In the end it was a great evening and I really enjoyed myself and the company, and I hope that the others enjoyed themselves as well. There will be about 9 more events throughout the season and I’ll try to post about ’em as we go. I will be co-chairing an event in January, with a Spanish theme…. 🙂

Ticketmaster Made Me Do It

It has been way too long since I’ve last written, but isn’t that always the case…? I am writing today ’cause Ticketmaster’s CEO, Irving Azoff, spoke at D7 — the All Things Digital conference. Kara Swisher asked questions and it’s written up here….
In the conversation she asks about many things, including the proposed merger with Live Nation. I could write a whole bunch about the proposed merger, maybe even a short novel, and I could actually argue both sides, so I won’t delve into the full argument, but I will comment briefly (in italics) about the whole article, which includes the merger.
Music Labels — they missed an opportunity to monetize digital music and suing your customers isn’t the right thing to do. Duh, really….
Merger with Live Nation — anyone can write a program that does what Ticketmaster does. Bruce Springsteen is uninformed about the merger and others are in the ticket biz like Phil Anschutz and Warner Music Group. True, but it’s the difficulty of converting to a new system (and contracts) is what keeps clients. Think about how you hate your bank, but you don’t leave ’cause it’s a pain in the ass to change all your info, auto-pay stuff, etc. Rumors are that if the merger goes through, AEG (Anschutz Entertainment Group) is going to leave and start their own system, much like Live Nation tried to do, but I think it will be successful unlike Live Nation’s.
Ticket Pricing — TM is a collection agency and prices are set by the promoter/band/customer, not TM. Should do more dynamic pricing, but not auctions which take too much time. Yup, TM has always gotten the black eye for pricing and service charges that their clients knew about in advance, and they get a cut of it! Dynamic pricing would be a difficult thing for Ticketmaster to do. Their old back-end system (called the host) can’t handle it well and it would have to be done with duct tape and superglue. Could be done, but is the public ready for concert ticket prices changing all the time like airline tickets…?
Secondary Market/TicketsNow — wouldn’t have bought it, may sell it. With variable pricing and VIP packages, the gap between primary and secondary ticketing is narrowing and being blurred. I agree, why should a broker make large sums of money for taking a nominal risk? That money should go to the promoter/artist who worked hard to create the product and took the risk of booking the show.
Data Ticketmaster Collects — available to artists if they ask, but not sophisticated as to how they use it. I remember the days when I was at Ticketmaster…. We would provide the data to those that asked, but we would also VERY quietly provide it to others as well. In the mid 90’s, we provided information about sales, etc. to ASCAP/BMI instead of paying for a license for our music-on-hold that we played, if I recall correctly (I had to do a lot of categorizing of the data (wrote a script to do so) so that it was more usable by those that were getting it, but I didn’t deposit any checks or anything, just told to do X task for Y <smile>). Who is buying what in the music biz is *hugely* important and only Ticketmaster has this data and they know its value!!!
The ticketing business, along with the whole music industry, has changed; there is no argument about that. But that idea that this merger needs to happen in order for Ticketmaster to survive in this changing environment is just absurd. While I’m sure there will be benefits to it, the only one that really requires the merger is Live Nation. Without it I think they are kind of stuck in a business with really thin margins that now needs to watch the bottom line like a hawk every quarter… not a good combo!
I was at a huge ticketing conference recently and I was talking to an old friend of mine that I worked with at Ticketmaster, he now runs one of TM’s biggest competitors. He had an interesting comment about TM and other companies competing with ’em…. He said, “Competition just makes it more expensive for Ticketmaster to do business.”
Sadly, he’s right… as Irving Azoff said, “any of you guys can write a program….” but what they can’t do is spend the hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars, it takes to land a huge client like the Staples Center, etc. And if i can cut a deal, TM will just come in and make a richer offer… it’s kind of like the Godfather, “an offer you can’t refuse…”

2005 Bordeaux Tasting

I was invited to a tasting of 2005 Bordeaux’s tonight by the International Wine and Food Society. It was the 449th gathering of this particular chapter. A great group of people and a lot of fun. The food was quite tasty and the wine was even better!
Below is a wine list of what we tasted, their ratings and the retail prices. The event was sponsored by Bob Myerson of the Wine Warehouse, and to him I say thank you. There aren’t many opportunities to drink at a tasting like this and compare this many wines, yet alone wines of this caliber!
The tasting was done blind, and if I said I wasn’t a bit intimidated doing it blind, I would be lying. At the end of the tasting, you were to rate what you thought was your top five, they tallied up the scores and announced them later on.
Again, it was a blind tasting, so you didn’t know what was what…. My score card that I turned in rated them in the following order (1 to 5 as my top five)… E, F, C, J, A. The winners, after all scores had been tallied were: J, E, I, F, H
So to put it into real terms….
1. Chateau Mouton Rothschild (J) — which I rated as 4th
2. Chateau Pavie (E) — which I rated as 1st
3. Chateau Palmer (I) — which didn’t rate 🙁
4. Chateau Monbousquet (F) — which I rated 2nd
5. Reignac (H) — which i didn’t rate 🙁
So all in all, I didn’t do too bad…. got some, missed some. If you want to know what was what and the full list, their RP ratings and retail prices, click on the pdf image below and you can see our tasting list that was given out afterwards, so we knew what we drank.
An amazing evening that I am very, very happy that I was invited to!
2005 Bordeaux Tasting

Cor.kz is Released For Sale in the iPhone App Store!

So a couple of friends/buddies/partners and I have done an iPhone App (opens iTunes) called Cor.kz… It’s all about wine! It is a front end to the worlds largest repository of wine data, vineyards, bottles and reviews and doesn’t just give the ability to lookup wine info, but you can also manage your cellar if you want.
We have gone to great lengths to try to incorporate all the stuff that you would want in Cor.kz, ’cause this is an application that is designed for, and by the people that use it (the three of us have extensive wine collections, but we’re working on making them bigger!) But we also understand that not everyone uses software in the same way, and there are some features that are in the works that will be available in the next release (coming in a couple weeks or less, hopefully).
So please, go out and buy Cor.kz, use the app, give us feedback and tell us what you think or what you want in the next version that we haven’t thought of yet :-)! We really do want to know, are totally consumer centric and will do our best to incorporate all feasible requests :-).
It’s pretty cool right now, we think… not only does it do all the lookups and display reviews, prices and ratings from CellarTracker.com, but it also is set up to “announce” what you are drinking to Twitter if you use that service too. So your friends can watch what you are drinking in real time, and drink with you :-)….
I hope you enjoy Cor.kz and find it as useful as we do!
By the way, the name of the application is the same as the domain, so you can go to http://cor.kz and learn about it there!

Just another WordPress site