Like all great vacations most of time is devoted to eating. We started the day with a delicious guilty pleasure at The Griddle Cafe.


The Golden Ticket
A serving of three massive pancakes filled with Banana, caramel, walnuts and streusel. Topped with real whipped cream, caramel and streusel.

Riddled with guilt we decide to try and flush our systems with a little healthy eating at M Cafe de Chaya. The picture may not look appetisizing but the trust me, the food was amazing.


Madras Tempeh Wrap
masala-baked tempeh, brown basmati rice, toasted almonds, raisins, frizzled onions & crisp vegetables with curried soy yogurt dressing in a whole wheat lavash.

Posted in Food, Travel at March 22nd, 2010.

I think all the biking we’ve been doing on this trip has convinced me to pick up a bicycle when I get back. I admit to not being an expert on biking but I’ve narrowed it down to the Montare by Gary Fisher.

If you have any recommendations please let me know.  Now, before you sent me links to Cannondale please keep in mind i am on a $1,000 budget.

Posted in Health, Travel at March 21st, 2010.

I’ve always contended that working out using my own body weight as resistance would be more effective that joining a gym and using weights. My inspiration and measurement of success would be the Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test.

Two years have passed and according to the chart above I score 95 points, a 1st class fitness test score. On top of achieving this score I had given myself the challenge of reaching the top of a 25 foot rope climb. Using only my upper body strength.

Santa Monica & Muscle Beach
Popularized in the 1950s and featured in many films since then, the network of outdoor workout equipment is where Jack LaLanne and other famous bodybuilders trained. Fully restored and refurbished, Muscle Beach serves gymnasts, acrobats and youth with an extensive gymnastics training area. Features include chinning bars at various heights, parallel bars, rings and a 25 foot rope climb.


I can’t describe the feeling of accomplishment I felt when I reached the top. Two years of busting my ass had truly paid off. I had achieved, no, exceeded my goal of losing weight and getting in shape.

I am officially in the best shape of my life.

Posted in Health, Travel at March 20th, 2010.

With SXSW behind us we set off for LA. A short flight and nap had us energized for a Friday night in West Hollywood. We bounced from bar to bar before landing at Crane’s Hollywood Tavern. I wasn’t expecting much but when Little Bird (of Los Angeles) took the stage I realized the music scene in LA is for real.

[audio:|titles=Red Balloon|artists=Little Birds (of Los Angeles)]
Posted in Music, Travel at March 19th, 2010.

Now that the Interactive portion of SXSW was officially over we had time to explore Austin.

First stop, FOOD!


Sampler @ Iron Works Barbecue

Blackened Talapia PO Boy w/ Grilled vegetables @ Whole Foods Flagship

While gorging myself I learned about a new blog / iPhone app that is perfect for foodies called Foodspotting and decided to test it out. Check it out here.

Posted in Food, Technology, Travel at March 18th, 2010.

Most important lesson I learned at SXSW: never agree to be interviewed by CNN.

iPod iPod version

Posted in Technology, Travel at March 17th, 2010.

DSLR Filmmaking, Gearing Up For Success
A session on gear and workflow requirements (for both post and acquisition). Lenses (including image stabilization vs. non stabilized), lights, rigs, audio, a sample post path, how much memory, etc. were discussed. Below is a sample of what can be done.

After doing a little research I was stunned to find out Robert Rodriguez, a big fan of digital cinematography, is shooting music video and feature length projects with DSLR’s, proving a long-format production pipeline is quickly coming into its own as an efficient, streamlined production system. For more info click here.

PS This was the best seminar I attended at SXSW. Special thanks to The BUI Brothers.

Posted in Technology, Travel at March 16th, 2010.

How to Create a Viral Video
If there were one message from today’s SXSW panel How To Create A Viral Video, it would be that it’s all about the content.

Jonathan Wells from Flux moderated the discussion and was joined by Margaret Gould Stewart of YouTube, Jason Wishnow of Ted, and Damian Kulash of the band OK Go.

The panel began by breaking down viral video into two groups. One is where the video is viral by accident. The creator was in the right place at the right time and caught something extraordinary. These folks aren’t likely to go “viral” again. The second category is much broader and the creators are people who made the viral video on purpose and will make more.

The question is what can you do to make sure your content is seen by lots of people over and over. The answer is it’s all about the content. It’s also about creating content for your audience and making sure the production value is where it needs to be. For Wishnow’s Ted audience, it’s important for the videos to look amazing, which explains their multiple camera angles, hi-def shooting and tight camera angles. For Kulash and OK Go, the production quality should be on the lower end. “If my videos looked good, people wouldn’t watch them,” Kulash said.

Kulash of course can prove that this type of content and production is effective. The first video OK Go posted was their Backyard Dance Video, which obtained more than 300,000 views in its first month–more records than the band had sold at the time.

Fast forward from that first video to their many others, including the well known Treadmill Dancing video and their most recent, which was sponsored by State Farm.

The State Farm sponsorship of the video is an interesting story from the band as well. Kulash explained that State Farm initially wanted to run the video exclusively on their website, something the band didn’t agree to. “Exclusivity online just doesn’t work,” Kulash said. That can work in the real world but online, “the point of something spreading is that it’s supposed to spread. You can’t just drive traffic to one place. Only our diehard fans would have gone to State Farm’s site.”

The band did agree to put State Farm in the video but made sure the brand was part of the story. A State Farm branded truck gets the action started in the video, which works since State Farm’s dollars made the video happen. The band also gives them a thanks at the very end of the video. Was it worth it for State Farm? I’d imagine so. Kulash said people tend to watch the video four to five times as opposed to just once.

So then, what about video content for non-music videos? Positive content works well. Negative or depressing content doesn’t get spread, according to Gould Stewart. Content that has an element of surprise also tends to be successful, like this Rammstein vs. Cookie Monster video:

Other tactics include focusing on your audience and interacting with them, allowing your videos to be embedded, distributing them on multiple platforms and tweaking your metadata. “It’s so frustrating when you see great content with crappy metadata,” Gould Stewart said.

If all else fails, include kittens in your video to make it go viral.

Presenters: Jonathan Wells (Flux), Margaret Gould Stewart (YouTube), Jason Wishnow (’s Director of Film + Video) & Damian Kulash (from OKGO)

Posted in Technology, Travel at March 15th, 2010.

Augmenting Maps with Reality
In the first location-based discussion of the day, the focus was on the evolution of the map. The panel discussed challenges to mapping indoor spaces, how user data might inform maps and the value in documenting user location history.

In Foursquare there isn’t a map representing where people are. However, they have just recently added the “trending places” section, which allows people to have a mental picture of where everyone is. By adding number of people at a given area Foursquare has caused people to travel and stay out longer.

One interesting aspect of this discussion was all the talk of history—rolling back in time, seeing a heat map where people clustered a year or two ago and how that relates to current trends. It seems the next big step is integrating this data into maps but not just flat maps with pins but a more humanistic view.

Presenters: Chris Pendleton (Bing Maps Technical Evangelist at Microsoft), Dennis Crowley (CEO & co-founder of foursquare), Ryan Sarver (Product/BD, Platform Team at Twitter ), Laura Diaz (Partner Manager, NN4D) & Kellen Elliott-McCrea (Flickr Architect at Yahoo)

Posted in Technology, Travel at March 14th, 2010.

Add Some XBOX to Your UX
Tricks and techniques from the game design world can be applied to non-games — social apps, creative tools, etc. — to improve user experience, user enjoyment, and results. We’ll look at traditional UX in a new light: from the perspective of games and gamers.

I’m Interested Tell me More

The Sixty One: The site allows users to “heart” favorite tracks and gain reputation points for certain activities. For example, if I favorite a track that’s playing that I really like, I will gain reputation points down the line for each time someone else favorites that track. The idea being, if I’m consistently ahead-of-the-curve in pointing out the best tracks on the site, then I deserve a good reputation for my good taste in music. Reputation points help quantify that. Users are also given only a handful of hearts to favorite things with when first joining the site. If you want to favorite more tracks, you have to earn more hearts. TheSixtyOne also offers “quests” as ways to get more reputation and hearts. These are both introductory and achievement-oriented. For example, one quest for me is simply to listen to seven songs from my personal stream that the site creates for me based on my tastes. Clearly, TheSixtyOne is hoping that adding these elements of game design to the music listening experience will make the activity much more interesting and enticing to their users. We shall see!

Presenter: Josh Knowles

Posted in Technology, Travel, Video Games at March 13th, 2010.