Monthly Archives: October 2010

The best retail story I’ve read

Okay, OP, I think I have a competitor. I work at KFC, so I see hambeasts like that ALL the time. Most of them are pretty well-behaved – I mean, you don’t fuck with your drug dealer, do you? And that’s what we are to these hordes of greasy stinking fat-asses.

Anyway, it’s time to close. I start rolling the shutters – mall store – get about halfway when this monstrosity lumbers up to the counter.

She shouts “Hey! Boy! Hey!”. I stop closing the gate to tell her we’re closed and can’t sell anything to her.
She says “No,” in a really flat voice, “no. Not closed.”
I pause for a second, say “Well, it’s five minutes past the time we usually close at, so I guess, yes, we are closed. Sorry.”

Then she said no again, and tried to slap the counter. This is the sad bit. She couldn’t reach the counter. Her arm was shorter than her gigantic larddumpster belly.

She was squished up against the counter, I could see her rolls pouring onto the table, greasing it up with her filthy slimy sweat. I’d have to clean that off. She finds she can’t reach the counter, flails her arm ineffectually, then says no again. I tell her our closing time isn’t negotiable and start pulling on the shutters again.

This is where shit got surreal. With what must have been a massive effort (driven by her fear she wasn’t going to be fed, no doubt) she hauled herself onto the counter. She managed to get one hand on the inside edge of the counter, with her feet sticking up in the air. God forbid you were sitting in the food court: this heaving bulk of lubber, this whale of a human being, had the forethought to wear a DRESS. Then again they don’t make pants in her size, I’ll bet.

With her other greasy hand she grasps my arm. Sounding like she’s dying of thirst, she rasps “Give me my FUCKING chicken, boy!”

At this point I am in shock. A walrus has just attacked me. I’m being held hostage by a warthog. Assaulted by a fucking huge cow.

“What … what do you want?” This isn’t even the standard KFC response; I just want to know what I have to give her so that I won’t be a headline tomorrow: KFC Employee Crushed to Death by Wild Hambeast. Still gripping my arm with her pudgy hand, she wheezes: “I want ten drumsticks.”

Ten drumsticks. I tell her we have no Original Recipe left; she can’t have ten drumsticks. She squeezes my arm, groaning, grunting: “Give me ten drumsticks!”

Now, I don’t know how many of you know how cooking chicken works: The raw chicken comes in bags. Each bag is 2 head, or two chicken’s worth of pieces. One chicken is nine pieces: two drumsticks, two wings, two thighs, two ribs, and a breast piece.

A little math will tell you we’d need to cook 5 head to satisfy this beast’s desire. Which means three bags, so actually 6 head. It takes about four minutes breading 6 head at top speed, and then 16 minutes of frying to cook it. So, roughly 20 minutes. And our cook still has to clean the floors, the polishing pump, the racking off table, the breading table, change the flour, everything. Not to mention, we’ll waste 44 pieces of chicken. That is a fucking massive amount of waste for a store that will only sell maybe 260 pieces in a whole day. It’s not as bad as all that; we have blue-bags which are 8 thigh 8 drumstick, but that’s still 24 wasted pieces and cooking well past close.

It’s fifteen minutes past close, a gigantic fat woman has launched herself over the counter and is holding my stomach contents hostage, it will take another 20 minutes at least to satisfy her, and I’ve had it.

So I went and told my manager I’d been attacked by a whale. He came out, took one blank look at the situation, and said, quietly, “What the fuck.” She shouted to him – still spread out over the counter, fat pooling around her head – “You have to cook me my chicken. I’ll wait.” She looked like she was ready to wait on top of the counter for it, too. He called mall security and we just stood there, looking at her. She stayed quiet, giving us the patented Hambeast Glare of Death, until two big security guys hauled her off. My manager went with them, to file a complaint with the centre, to get her banned for life.

He came back with a bottle of Jack Daniels, called his Area Manager, resigned on the spot, and sat down in the office. He and I and the cook drank out of a paper soft-drink cups. He left us clocked on for two weeks straight, until the very moment he was no longer required to work out his contract with KFC. His last act as a manager was to sign off on 320-something hours of overtime for me, and similar for the cook. I don’t think he said a single word in those two weeks, just silently plowed through everything that needed doing and gave anyone who tried to talk to him a blank stare.

My paycheck from those two weeks is one of my most treasured possessions. It says:

MONDAY – S Hours: 42.99 Scale: 1.00 Rate: 15.40 Value: 662.05
MONDAY – S Hours: 293.01 Scale: 1.50 Rate: 23.10 Value: 6778.53


Why Do So Many Geeks Hate Internet Explorer?

Written by howtogeek

It’s common knowledge that almost every single geek hates Internet Explorer with a passion, but have you ever wondered why? Let’s take a fair look at the history and where it all began… for posterity, if nothing else.

Contrary to what you might think, this article is not meant to be a hate-fest on Internet Explorer—in fact, we’re pretty impressed with the hardware acceleration and new features in Internet Explorer 9—but keep reading for the whole story.

In the Beginning There Was IE, and It Was Good?

We’ve all been so used to thinking of Internet Explorer as that slow, buggy browser that is behind the times, but it wasn’t always that way—in fact, way back when, Internet Explorer pioneered many innovations that made the web what it is today.

Here’s a quick tour through the easily forgotten history of the infamous browser:

1996: Internet Explorer 3

This version of the browser, introduced in 1997, was the first browser to implement CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). Yes, you’re reading that correctly—in fact, it introduced many new features like Java applets and sadly, ActiveX controls.

1997: Internet Explorer 4

IE4 introduced a blazing fast (at the time) rendering engine as an embeddable component that could be used in other applications—this was a lot more important than people realize. This version also introduced Dynamic HTML, which allows web pages to dynamically change the page using JavaScript, and added Active Desktop integration.

Even more weird? Seems like nobody remembers this anymore, but IE4 was actually cross-platform—you could install it on Mac OS, Solaris, and HP-UX—and by the time IE5 was released, IE4 had reached a 60% market share.

1999: Internet Explorer 5.x

Microsoft invented Ajax. Wait… what? That’s right, it was this version of IE that introduced the XMLHttpRequest feature in JavaScript, which forms the underlying technology behind every web application you’re using today—you know, like Gmail. Of course, the term “Ajax” wasn’t actually coined until years later by somebody other than Microsoft, but this release supported everything required to make it work.

So Yes, Microsoft Innovated

From IE3 until IE6, Microsoft used all their resources to simply out-innovate the competition, releasing new features and better browsers faster than Netscape. In fact, Netscape 3 Gold was a buggy piece of junk that crashed all the time, and Netscape 4 was extremely slow and could barely render tables—much less CSS, which would often cause the browser to crash.

To put it in context: web developers used to complain about Netscape the same way they complain about IE6 now.

What Made It Go So Very Wrong?

The trouble all started when Microsoft integrated IE into Windows as a required component, and made it difficult to uninstall and use an alternate browser. Then there was the whole business with them exploiting their monopoly to try and push Netscape out of the market, and a lot of people started to view Microsoft as the evil empire.

Microsoft Stopped Trying

By the time Microsoft released Internet Explorer 6 in 2001, complete with lots of new features for web developers, since there was no competition and they had a 95% market share, Microsoft just stopped trying—seriously, they did nothing for 5 years even after Firefox was released and geeks started migrating left and right.

Microsoft-Specific Features

The whole problem with Microsoft’s innovation is that much of it was done in ways that didn’t follow the web standards—this wasn’t as big of a problem when Internet Explorer was the only game in town, but once Firefox and Webkit came around and started following the standards correctly, suddenly it became a huge problem for web developers.

Security Holes and Crashing

Since Microsoft decided they didn’t need to try anymore, and they didn’t keep up with the competition from Firefox and other browsers, bugs and security holes just cropped up left and right—really terrible ones, too. For instance, this code is all that is required to crash IE6:

<script>for(x in document.write){document.write(x);}</script>

In fact, the screenshot at the beginning of this section was a live example of testing out this particular bug.

IE7 and IE8 Were Too Little, Too Late

It took 5 years after IE6 for Microsoft to finally get around to releasing IE7, which added tabs and made the browser slightly more tolerable, but for web designers it was still a nightmare to deal with, and only complicated the issue since now you had to make pages render correctly in two lousy browsers instead of just one.

It took another 2.5 years for Microsoft to finally release Internet Explorer 8, which greatly improved CSS support for web developers, and added new features like Private browsing, tab isolation to prevent one bad page from taking down the whole browser, and phishing protection. By this point, most geeks had already moved on to Firefox, and then some of us to Google Chrome.

Here’s the Real Reason Geeks Hate IE

Just because we’re geeks doesn’t mean we hate everything that’s inferior and outdated—in fact, we often love retro computing—that’s why we love Atari, NES, Commodore 64, etc. We take pride in our geek knowledge. So why’s Internet Explorer a different story?

Here’s a couple of reasons that fueled our hatred of the buggy browser, and finally put us all over the edge:

Supporting IE is Like a Fork in the Eye for Web Devs

Here’s a sample of a day in the life of a web designer: You spend hours making sure that your page looks great, and you test it out in Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and even Opera. It looks great, awesome!

Now you open up IE and the page looks like somebody put it into a blender and hit the Whip button. Then you spend double the amount of time trying to fix it to look tolerable in IE6 and IE7, cursing loudly the entire time.

Geeks Forced to Use Internet Explorer

And here’s where we come to the real issue—the whole reason that geeks can’t stand Internet Explorer:

Geeks everywhere were forced to use Internet Explorer at work even when there are better browsers, forced to support it for corporate applications, forced to make sure web sites still work in IE, and we couldn’t convince everybody to switch to a better browser.

Geeks don’t hate something that’s inferior—but they do hate it when it’s forced on them.

The Good News: The Future Might Be Brighter

Thankfully it seems like Microsoft has finally learned from their many, many mistakes in the browser world. They are below 50% in the market share wars, and they’ve finally learned to focus on using web standards.

Internet Explorer 9 is about to be released, it’s got a shiny new interface that looks a lot like Google Chrome, blazing fast hardware acceleration, and supports HTML5 surprisingly well—in fact, it’s so much better that 34% of our readers said they will switch to IE9.

Microsoft is billing Internet Explorer 9 as the browser that’s going to change the world, and they aren’t wrong—they just aren’t mentioning that they were the only ones holding the web back with their anemic browsers. And now that mess is finally over.

Here’s hoping they’ve truly learned their lesson.

Bonus: Incredibly true, I say.

Things Obama has done…

Collected by Things obama has done

I’m sick and tired of people asking “What has Obama done?” So here’s a list of things he’s done since he’s been in office. Remember: He was elected President. He wasn’t elected Jesus!
The list is still growing. Let me know if I missed anything.


1. Saved the collapse of the American automotive industry by making GM restructure before bailing them out, and putting incentive money to help the industry

2. Shifted the focus of the war from Iraq to Afghanistan, and putting the emphasis on reducing terrorism where it should have been all along

3. Relaxed Anti-American tensions throughout the world

4. Signed order to close the prisoner “torture camp” at Guantanamo Bay

5. Has made the environment a national priority, and a primary source for job creation

6. Has made education a national priority by putting emphasis and money behind new ideas like charter schools, but speaking directly to school children in telling them they have to do their part.

7. Won the Nobel Peace Prize

8. $789 billion economic stimulus plan

9. Appointment of first Latina to the Supreme Court

10. Attractive tax write-offs for those who buy hybrid automobiles

11. Authorized construction/opening of additional health centers to care for veterans

12. Renewed dialogue with NATO and other allies and partners on strategic issues.

13. Beginning the process of reforming and restructuring the military 20 years after the Cold War to a more modern fighting force… this includes new procurement policies, increasing size of military, new technology and cyber units and operations, etc.

14. Better body armor is now being provided to our troops

15. “Cash for clunkers” program offers vouchers to trade in fuel inefficient, polluting old cars for new cars; stimulates auto sales

16. Changed the failing/status quo military command in Afghanistan

17. Closed offshore tax safe havens

18. Deployed additional troops to Afghanistan

19. Ended media “blackout” on war casualties; reporting full information

20. Ended previous policy of awarding no-bid defense contracts

21. . Ended media blackout on war casualties and the return of fallen soldiers to Dover AFB.

22. Ended previous policy of cutting the FDA and circumventing FDA rules

23. Ended previous practice of forbidding Medicare from negotiating with drug manufacturers for cheaper drugs; the federal government is now realizing hundreds of millions in savings

24. Ended previous practice of having White House aides rewrite scientific and environmental rules, regulations, and reports

25. American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has created 2.1 million jobs (as of 12/31/09).

26. Ended previous policy of not regulating and labeling carbon dioxide emissions

27. Ended previous policy of offering tax benefits to corporations who outsource American jobs; the new policy is to promote in-sourcing to bring jobs back

28. Ended previous policy on torture; the US now has a no torture policy and is in compliance with the Geneva Convention standards

29. . Launched to track spending from the Recovery Act, an unprecedented step to provide transparency and accountability through technology.

30. Ended previous practice of protecting credit card companies; in place of it are new consumer protections from credit card industry’s predatory practices

31. Ended previous “stop-loss” policy that kept soldiers in Iraq/Afghanistan longer than their enlistment date

32. Energy producing plants must begin preparing to produce 15% of their energy from renewable sources

33. Established a National Performance Officer charged with saving the federal government money and making federal operations more efficient

34. Established a new cyber security office

35. Expanded the SCHIP program to cover health care for 4 million more children

36. Expanding vaccination programs

37. Families of fallen soldiers have expenses

38. . Provided the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with more than $1.4 billion to improve services to America’s Veterans.

39. Federal support for stem-cell and new biomedical research

40. Funds for high-speed, broadband Internet access to K-12 schools

41. Responded with compassion and leadership to the earthquake in Haiti

42. Immediate and efficient response to the floods in North Dakota and other natural disasters

43. . Launched – enabling conversation and online collaboration between small business owners, government representatives and industry experts in discussion forums relevant to starting and managing a business. Great for the economy.

44. Improved housing for military personnel

45. Improved conditions at Walter Reed Military Hospital and other military hospitals

46. Changed failing war strategy in Afghanistan.

47. Improving benefits for veterans

48. Increased infrastructure spending (roads, bridges, power plants…) after years of neglect

49. Donated his $1.4 million Nobel Prize to nonprofits.

50. Increasing opportunities in AmeriCorps program

51. Provided tax credits to first-time home buyers through the Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009 to revitalize the U.S. housing market.

52. Increasing pay and benefits for military personnel

53. Increasing student loans

54. Instituted a new policy on Cuba, allowing Cuban families to return “home” to visit loved ones

55. Cracked down on companies that deny sick pay, vacation and health insurance to workers by abusing the employee classification of independent contractor. Such companies also avoid paying Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance taxes for those workers.

56. Limited salaries of senior White House aides; cut to $100,000

57. Limits on lobbyists’ access to the White House

58. Protected 300,000 education jobs, such as teachers, principals, librarians, and counselors through the Recovery Act that would have otherwise been lost.

59. Limits on White House aides working for lobbyists after their tenure in the administration

60. Children’s Health Insurance Reauthorization Act on February 4, 2009, provides quality health care to 11 million kids – 4 million who were previously uninsured.

61. Lower drug costs for seniors

62. Making more loans available to small businesses

63. Many more press conferences and town halls and much more media access than previous administration

64. . Signed the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act, the first piece of comprehensive legislation aimed at improving the lives of Americans living with paralysis

65. New Afghan War policy that limits aerial bombing and prioritizes aid, development of infrastructure, diplomacy, and good government practices by Afghans

66. Announced creation of a Joint Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record for members of the U.S. Armed Forces to improve quality of medical care.

67. New federal funding for science and research labs

68. New funds for school construction

69. Ordered all federal agencies to undertake a study and make recommendations for ways to cut spending

70. Ordered a review of all federal operations to identify and cut wasteful spending and practices

71. . Negotiated deal with Swiss banks to permit US government to gain access to records of tax evaders and criminals.

72. Phasing out the expensive F-22 war plane and other outdated weapons systems, which weren’t even used or needed in Iraq/Afghanistan

73. Reengaged in the agreements/talks on global warming and greenhouse gas emissions

74. Provided tax credit to workers thus cutting taxes for 95% of America’s working families.

75. Reengaged in the treaties/agreements to protect the Antarctic

76. Removed restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research

77. . Helped reverse a downward spiral of the stock market. On January 19, 2009, the last day of President Bush’s presidency, the Dow closed at 8,218.22. In February 2010, the Dow closed at 10,309.24

78. Renewed loan guarantees for Israel

79. Restarted the nuclear non-proliferation talks and building back up the nuclear inspection infrastructure/protocols

80. Provided attractive tax write-offs for those who buy hybrid automobiles.

81. Returned money authorized for refurbishment of White House offices and private living quarters

82. Sent envoys to Middle East and other parts of the world that had been neglected for years; reengaging in multilateral and bilateral talks and diplomacy

83. Unveiled a program on Earth Day 2009 to develop the renewable energy projects on the waters of our Outer Continental Shelf that produce electricity from wind, wave, and ocean currents. These regulations will enable, for the first time ever, the nation to tap into our ocean’s vast sustainable resources to generate clean energy in an environmentally sound and safe manner.

84. Signed national service legislation; expanded national youth service program

85. States are permitted to enact federal fuel efficiency standards above federal standards

86. Students struggling to make college loan payments can have their loans refinanced

87. Successful release of US captain held by Somali pirates; authorized the SEALS to do their job

88. The FDA is now regulating tobacco

89. Ended the previous stop-loss policy that kept soldiers in Iraq/Afghanistan longer than their enlistment date.

90. The missile defense program is being cut by $1.4 billion in 2010

91. The public can meet with federal housing insurers to refinance (the new plan can be completed in one day) a mortgage if they are having trouble paying

92. The “secret detention” facilities in Eastern Europe and elsewhere are being closed

93. US financial and banking rescue plan

94. US Navy increasing patrols off Somali coast

95. . Signed the Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act to stop fraud and wasteful spending in the defense procurement and contracting system.

96. Visited more countries and met with more world leaders than any president in his first six months in office

97. Improved relations with Iran

98. Improved U.S. policy on climate change

99. Set timetable for exiting Iraq (already started removing troops)

100. Improved relations with Russia

101. Improved relations with the Islamic World

102. Made progress towards greater cooperation on limiting nuclear proliferation

103. Economic stimulus plan has created jobs. (Unemployment rate decreasing)

104. Drastically slowed down the recession

105. Saved Wall Street

106. Passed the Lilly Ledbetter Act (equal work for equal pay)


108. Ordered the military operation that killed Osama Bin Laden


Once again, this is a lot to accomplish in such a short amount of time. He was elected President, he wasn’t elected Jesus.

Bonus:My new favorite picture of President Obama

My new favorite picture of President Obama

A suggestion for the Mythbusters show featuring Obama.

17 Mutable Suggestions For Naming A Startup

Written by OnStartups

Naming a startup is hard.  Very hard.  On the one hand, the pragmatic entrepreneur thinks: “I shouldn’t be wasting time on this — for every successful company with a great name, there’s one with a crappy name that did just fine.  It doesn’t seem like a name has much influence on the outcome at all.  I’m going to get back to writing code.”  I sort of agree with this.  You shouldn’t obssess about your name.  But, you also shouldn’t dismiss it as unimportant.  Part of the startup game is to try and remove unnecessary friction to your growth.  Sure, you could build a spectacularly successful company despite having a lousy name — but why not stack the odds in your favor?

One more reason why spending calories on picking a great name is important:  It’s a one-time cost to get a great name — but the benefit is forever. Conversely, if you short-change this and dismiss it completely, you’re going to incur what I’d call “branding debt”.  Not bad at first, and maybe not a big deal for you ever, but every year, as you grow, you’ll have this small voice nagging inside your head “should I change the name of the company…”.  It’s going to be annoying.  And the longer you wait, the more expensive the decision is, and the less likely you are to do it.  Save yourself some of that future pain, and invest early in picking a decent name.  You may still get it wrong, but at least you’ll know you tried. brand stamp

One last note before we get started:  Not all of these are weighted equally.  And, remember that these are suggestions not laws.  They’re also mutable.

The 17 Mutable Suggestions Of Startup Naming

1. Make sure it’s legal! This should be obvious, but it’s an important step that too many entrepreneurs skip.  Before attaching yourself to a name, make sure that someone else doesn’t already have claim to it by way of a trademark.  In the U.S., you should take a quick peek at  The good news is that if you satisfy some of the other conditions below (domain name, twitter handle, Facebook name), odds are relatively low that someone’s already using the name.

2. Hint At What You Do: You have two paths to go when picking a startup name.  You can pick a name that is “synthetic” and made-up (example: Wufoo or Quora) or you can use somthing that is somewhat descriptive of what you do (example: Backupify or KISSmetrics).  I lean a bit towards the descriptive side of the spectrum.  But, a lot depends on what you’re building.  Synthetic names are often great in the long, long-term (easily trademarkable, and you can truly “own” them and infuse them with meaning) — but most of the time, I’m more worried about surviving in the short-term.  So, I like simple names that convey a bit of what the company actually does or stands for.

3. Make it easy to remember: How do you know whether a startup name is easy to remember?  You don’t know.  So, test it. Talk to people.  Describe the company.  At the end of a 2–10 minute conversation, casually ask them if they remember what the name of the company is.  If it didn’t “register” it’s not a failure on their part (and make sure to tell them that), but a failure on your part for not having something that’s memorable enough.

4. Make it unambiguous when spoken: A quick way to test this is to ask friends and family what they think of the name over the phone — and ask them to spell it back to you.  If a decent percent of them get it wrong — or are uncertain, you’ve got a problem.

5. Make it unambiguous in Google: Many of the tricks of the trade you’ll use to monitor conversations that mention your company on the web will involve doing some sort of search.  If your name is something like “Pumpkin”, you’re going to have a harder time distinguishing when people are talking about the generic term, or when they’re talking about your company.  Of course, there are plenty of examples where a startup started with a generic word and went on to be pretty successful ( jumps to mind).  That’s why these are suggestions (not laws) and they’re mutable.

6. Start early in the alphabet.  In the pre-Google world, this was done so that you’d show up earlier in a lists of things that are often sorted alphabetically (like when you win an award).  In the post-Google world, a similar rationale applies, but what’s more important is the position of links to your website when it shows up in a list of things (like a directory).  If possible, you want to be in the first page of a multi-page article that mentions a bunch of companies.  The first page of a multi-page directory usually passes more SEO authority to your website than subsequent pages.

7. The “.com” has to be “gettable”.  By “gettable”, I mean that it is either not registered yet — or, it is available for purchase at a price you’re willing to pay.  Don’t play tricks with the domain name either — like including hyphens.  Also, stay away from clever domain names like  The reason is simple:  It’s not natural for people to type domains that way.  (Note: Even eventually switched to the much easier domain,

8.  The twitter handle has to be available.  No tricks with numbers and underscores and stuff.  You want the most natural, obvious twitter handle that matches your company name.  This is not quite as hard as .com domain names — but getting harder every day.

9. The facebook page should be available: To test this, try visiting and see if there’s something there.  Or, do a search on Facebook and see what you find.

10. Keep it short.  Always good advice, but particularly true in the age of Twitter.  The more characters in your company name, the more characters in the tweets that people write that mention your company name.  The more characters your company name uses up, the less you can actually say in a tweet.  Generally, try to stay 10 characters or under.  Also, number of characters is not the only consideration, it should be short when spoken as well (that is, have fewer syllables).  The fewer the syllables, the easier it is for people to say.  Great examples of one and two-syllable names:  Dropbox, Mint, FreshBooks, ZenDesk.  I’d shy away from anything that is over 3 syllables.

11. Don’t leave out vowels or add punctuation.  Just because Flickr was successful does not mean it’s OK for you to drop vowels from your name.  Name your company in whatever way is natural — for humans.  And, don’t add punctuation (like an exclamation mark) to your name.  Yes, it’s distinctive and it worked for Yahoo! but there’s no sense spending calories on this.

12. Try to get your main keyword into the name.  This helps with SEO and signals to potential visitors what they might find on your site.  For example, this site is called  Not particularly creative, but you have to admit — it’s clear.  (And, is likely partly responsible for my high rankings in Google for a bunch of startup related words).

13. Start with an uppercase letter.  If it’s good enough for Google, Amazon and a thousand other really successful companies, it’s good enough for you.  Sure, starting with a lower-case letter is cute and might demonstate some humility, but 99% of the people are going to spell it wrong and you’re going to spend too many cycles worrying about training them — and you’re still going to fail.  If you’re going to ask the world a favor, save it for the big stuff — not “can you please be sure to spell our company name with a lower-case letter”.

14. Don’t name your company after yourself. Yes, I know it’s tempting because it’s so easy.  And, you might even think “hey, customers should know who they’re doing business with”.  You might even make an argument like “there have been plenty of successful startups that were named after their founder.”  Though that might all be true, on average, this is a losing approach.  When customers hear something like “Dharmesh Shah Enterprises” (granted, your name is probably not as odd as mine), it doesn’t make them immediately think “Wow, that must be an awfully cool/successful/stable company”.  It sounds a bit amateurish right at the get go.  The other reason is that if you name the company after yourself, too many people are going to want to talk to you.  That’s ok when you’re the only person in the company to talk to, but becomes problematic as your startup grows and there are other people trying to sell/support/market.

15. Don’t Use An Acronym: These were all the rage at various points in time — but I’m not a big fan.  It’s hard to get emotional about a three letter acronym.  It’s hard to hug an acronym.  As a corollary to this, try not to have a company name with three words in it, because it’s long enough that people are going to be tempted to reduce it to an acronym.

16. Have a story.  When someone asks (and they will), so why did you pick X for your name, it’s nice to have something relatively interesting to say.  Names are a part of your personality, and the absence of a personality is rarely a good thing.  For example, when I started my first company (I was 24, and didn’t know what branding was), the name I picked violated many of the rules in this list.  The company name was “Pyramid Digital Solutions”.  But, it had a pretty good story.  I started first with the acronym P.D.S.  I wanted to name the company after my dad (whose initials are PDS).  He’s a tad superstitious and didn’t want me to name the company after him (it’s  a long story).  And, wanting to prove him wrong I started with the acronym PDS.  Then, for the first word, I picked “Pyramid” because I was passionate about strong, architectural software design.  We were going to build products that stood the test of time — much like the Pyramids.  The other two words (Digital Solutions) were sort fluff words.  Summary:  It’s OK to be purely scientific in your name selection, but a good story never hurts.

16. Pay attention to character sequences in multi-word names: This one’s a bit subtle.  But, if you have a name that is two words stuck together, then be mindful of what character ends the first word, and what starts the second.  I’d stay away from names where both of those letters are the same.  Example: If your company name is something like BetterReading, it’s sub-optimal (because Better ends with “R” and reading starts with “R”.  Normally, that’s OK, but when you type it out as a URL, people will often see: — which is not terrible, but does cause the brain to “pause” for a micro-second because it feels a tad unnatural.  And, I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring up the widely popular example of unfortunate character sequences:  When capitalized properly, this name is just fine (ExpertsExchange) which is what the site owners intended.  But, it turns out, this can be confused as “ExpertSexChange” (which is not what was intended).  Make sure you think through the combinations properly.

17. Seek timeless instead of trendy: It seems that every generation of startups has their own “trendy” approach to names.  Examples are the dropping-vowels thing (like Flickr), the breaking up of words (like or the newly fashionable “.ly” names.  I’d suggest that names that don’t necessarily indicate when you started are a good thing (on the off-chance that your company outlives that particular fad or trend).  Pick a name that is timeliness.  One that people will see 10 years from now and not think “Hey, they’re one of those companies…”.

That’s all I have for now.  For more on the topic, you might want to check out Guy Kawasaki’s article on the topic (makes some similar points, but he’s a better writer).  Also, hat tip to the “22 Immutable Laws of Branding” whose title was an inspiration for this blog post.  More floating around in my head, but I’m a believer in the “release early, release often” mantra.  So, what do you think?  Any other tips or rules of thumb you use when coming up with startup names?

Oh, and I’m thinking of creating a simple web-based tool that assesses a name (which I think is hard to do via software).  What do you think of that idea?  What kind of features would you want to see?

Like this?  Help spread the word.

Bonus: I liked the velociraptor sign and put it on the door of our computer-room. Three iterations later…..

13 Facebook Tricks Guys Use To Look “Cool”

Written by Alex- University of South Carolina

Those lovable bros over at have once again attempted to tarnish the sterling facades us girls put up just to please them (riiiight…).  The latest topic up for debate: The 15 Most Common Ways Girls Try to Look Hotter on Facebook. From butts out to boobs smooshed, they’re calling us out on all our “tricks” of the online trade.

Well guys, a little of our own light research has gone a long way.  Turns out you’re guilty of posting some overused, Brolicious pics yourselves.  Need proof?  Just go through your tagged photos and see if you’re guilty of any of these thirteen major offenses:

Leg up on a coffee table/chair/ledge, fist on hip, other arm pointing out yonder.

Are you scouting out the promise land, or eyeing that leggy blonde in the frat castle foyer?  Either way, you look like a tool.

Posing with expensive bottles of booze.

If the picture is taken alongside a Grey Goose tower in the liquor store, then it doesn’t count.  If you actually own twenty bottles of Grey Goose, then that’s just shameful.

Blue Steel.

I believe it was Hansel who was so hot right now, not you.

Holding a cigar.

Stogies with the bros?  How refined.  You must be a man of superior class and means.  Or you’re a total dad.

Throwing the shocker.

Please do me.

Creeping in the background of hot girls’ pictures.

Gosh, I sure can’t figure out why they’re not with you…

Keg stand.

What talent.  What skill.  You’re going far, my friend.

With fratty frat bros.

The bowties are cute, but did you really need those seersucker sport coats in October?  I’d think a man of your stature would be familiar with the most basic sartorial guidelines.

Passed out on the couch at tailgate.

Oh, you can’t make it through a pre-game? Definitely something to boast about, pussy.

Always wearing a hat.

You’re balder than Kenny Chesney.  The first step is admitting it to yourself.

The Action Shot.

Oh, you’re good at sports? Awesome.

Leaning against an expensive car.

Clearly that thing’s not yours.  I saw the beat up Tahoe you’ve been cruising in and that thing’s no Bentley.

Documentation of random bro hijinks.

Posing with the Indian cab driver.  Thumbs up with a hobo. Getting Iced.  Peeing in the campus fountain.  Standing strategically under the girl dancing on the bar in a miniskirt.  So.  Effing.  Cool.

Bonus: I love printable coupons. >:D

10 Things You Didn’t Know About The Empire Strikes Back

Written by Charlie Jane Anders

Here’s a slightly different version of the battle between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader at the end of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. It’s just one of many revelations in a new making-of book. More rare concept art below.

The Making of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back by J.W. Rinzler comes out today, and it’s not just essential for fans of the classic film. It’s also a must-read for anybody who’s interested in the creative process, because it goes into excruciating detail, on a day-to-day basis, on the troubled genesis of an amazing film.

You get inside the heads of everybody involved with it, and you see how much pain went into every frame of this movie. In particular, there’s a 17-page section in which you get a transcript of director Irvin Kershner and the actors — especially Harrison Ford — agonize over every second of the crucial carbonite freezing chamber scene, trying to get as much emotional truth and reality out of it as possible. This was on set, after the screenplay had already been revised several times, and every moment of that sequence gets rehashed and debated until it’s (arguably) perfect. There’s tons and tons of eye-popping concept art, including tons of versions of the Luke/Vader fight.

What Rinzler’s book drives home is that Empire Strikes Back was as groundbreaking and daring, in its own way, as the original Star Wars. The film went way over schedule and massively over budget, and almost ran out of money a bunch of times. Everybody became sick on set, Mark Hamill broke his thumb doing one stunt, and there was an accident with the bacta tank that could have killed Hamill if he’d been inside. Also, the movie’s second unit director and its first screenwriter both died during the process.

You see how George Lucas put together ESB at the same time that he was building his business empire, including Lucasfilm and the more mature version of Industrial Light & Magic. Lucas was creating his team and fighting for creative freedom, even as he was stepping back from writing and directing — and a big part of this movie’s brilliance stems from Lucas’ drive to finance the film himself, keeping 20th Century Fox out of the loop creatively. (And if Empire had failed, Lucas would have been broke, despite the first film’s huge profits.)

What comes through, in every interview and behind-the-scenes detail, is the determination of everyone involved to make The Empire Strikes Back bigger and better than the original Star Wars. In spite of huge, almost insurmountable difficulties, the determination to create something better comes through clearly.

In addition to the concept art, there are also a ton of set photos, including things like a cast being made of Harrison Ford for the “frozen in carbonite” Han Solo, and Darth Vader and Boba Fett out for a stroll. And there are tons and tons of pieces of script pages and scribbled notes. You get a real sense of what it would have been like to be inside this madhouse of creativity and seat-of-the-pants improvisation. More concept art shows the evolution of the tauntaun, which started out as a kind of weird lizard.

10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Yoda was originally named Buffy. No, really. In Lucas’ earliest outlines for the sequel, Luke meets a supernatural entity named Buffy, or Bunden Debannen. Here’s how Lucas described it:

Buffy very old — three or four thousand years. Kiber crystal in sword? Buffy shows Luke? Buffy the guardian. “Feel not think.”

And Lucas concludes by saying Luke will become the chosen one, “the human Buffy.” In later drafts, he thought of Yoda as a kind of small frog, and Yoda had a full name: Minch Yoda.

In the earliest script draft, Minch has the immortal line: “Skywalker. Skywalker. And why do you come to walk my sky, with the sword of a Jedi knight?… I remember another Skywalker.”

Lucas considered having a scene where Luke’s face gets injured. Mark Hamill was injured in a car accident in 1977, and his face had to be reconstructed — so for a while, Lucas planned on including a sequence where Luke’s face is damaged, and we see it getting patched up by a droid. This got as far as filming — there’s a set picture showing the droid bandaging Luke’s face — but was cut out of the movie.

Luke’s journey to becoming a Jedi Knight would have had a lot more bumps. One idea that got tossed around a lot in the early stages of planning ESB was the notion that Luke’s lightsaber had a crystal hidden in the hilt, with secret encrypted information on it — including the coordinates of Minch Yoda’s planet. And Luke would have been “humiliated” when he couldn’t use the Force to stop an attack by a bunch of ice monsters on the rebel’s Hoth base. (With Han telling Luke, “You’re not a Jedi knight, and you never will be.”) Meanwhile, Darth Vader senses that Luke used the force to destroy the Death Star and there’s a new wannabe Jedi in town — so Vader uses telepathy to choke Luke in his spacecraft, nearly killing him — except that R2-D2 jumps the ship into hyperspace and takes it to Yoda’s planet.

We could have visited other planets. Possibly including a “water planet,” with an underwater city, and a “city planet,” with the whole planet built over. And at one point, Lucas considered having a visit to the Wookiee home world (some of which ended up in the Christmas special), and Ralph McQuarrie did some concept art of a young Chewbacca. (Also, Lando Calrissian’s home would have been the planet Hoth — not the ice world, but another planet named Hoth — and there might have been a whole alien race living there. And in one early draft, Lando was a clone warrior, one of the many clans of clone fighters left over from the wars.)

Darth Vader would have had a castle. And it would have been an evil fortress — in some versions, it’s surrounded by lava, and full of gargoyles who are Vader’s pets.

Vader wasn’t Luke’s father at first. In Leigh Brackett’s first script draft, Luke meets his real dad, who says he sent away Luke and his secret sister for their own safety. (Luke’s sister has been training to be a Jedi knight in secret, just as Luke has.) And Papa Skywalker administers the oath of a Jedi Knight to Luke, in which Ben, Minch, Anakin and Luke cross lightsabers, and Luke swears to “dedicate my life to the cause of freedom and justice.”

The Luke-Leia-Han love triangle is a much bigger deal in earlier drafts of the script. It’s at the root of Luke’s struggles for self-respect and his humiliations. When Darth Vader is trying to win Luke over to the Dark Side in the second draft, written by Lucas himself, Vader says, “You’re in love with Leia. You don’t want to lose her to Han Solo…. But you will, if you lack the courage to use the strength that’s in you. A strength as great as mine, Luke.” And then at the end, Leia flat-out tells Luke that he’s not the one she loves, because she’s into Han. Also in this version, Han doesn’t get frozen in carbonite — instead, he just flies off to take care of business, leaving Luke and Leia watching the Millennium Falcon disappear.

The film posed unique challenges for special effects and model work. Darth Vader had a new Star Destroyer, which was supposed to be 16 miles long! And they built a full-size Millennium Falcon, which was 65 feet wide and 80 feet long. Also, ILM had to start a new stop-motion animation department just to make the Imperial Walkers and tauntauns work. (They tried a man-in-a-suit tauntaun, with “hilarious if not film-worthy results.”) And then there’s the challenge of Yoda — as we reported the other day, they considered everything from a monkey in a mask to a small child or little person to play the Jedi sage, before deciding to go with Frank Oz’s puppetry.

Stanley Kubrick nearly killed the movie. Empire was sharing studio space with The Shining, and there was a huge fire that burned down Stage 3 at Elstree Studios, destroying The Shining’s sets. That meant that Empire had to give up some of its own studio space, and The Shining went way over schedule, especially as Kubrick used the delay as an excuse to rethink his own movie. “Timewise, it is doubtful the picture will recover,” one crewmember wrote at the time.

Miss Piggy had a cameo in one of Yoda’s first scenes in rehearsal. When Mark Hamill first met Frank Oz, he asked him to do a brief Miss Piggy cameo during rehearsals on set, as a practical joke — but when the time came much later, it caught even Hamill off-guard. During one scene, Yoda tells Luke to follow his feelings. Luke protests that he has followed his feelings — and suddenly, Frank Oz whips out a Miss Piggy puppet, saying, “Feelings? You want feelings? Get behind the couch and I’ll show you feelings, punk. What is this hole? I’ve been booked into dumps before, but never like this. Get me my agent on the phone!”

Bonus: “You’re right, faulty logic is fun!”

5 Explanations For the French Paradox

Written by Dave Lieberman


Flickr user stuckincustoms

If you’ve never heard the term “French paradox”, it’s used to refer to the concept that French people, who are as a rule slim and svelte, seem to eat whatever they want: tons of white bread, cheese, butter, bacon, and far too much dessert for their own good. Everything from flavonoids in red wine to climate has been used to explain it.

Well, I just spent three weeks or so in France, and in that time I managed to drop a pants size. I wasn’t exactly watching what I eat (“Four cheeses, dripping with milkfat? Don’t mind if I do!”), and I drank like a small fish between the amazing wine and my own private Waterloo of pastis, so what happened?

1. Not snacking between meals.

French people don’t do it. Sure, they might sneak a crêpe or a waffle here and there, and no baguette makes it home from the boulangerie without the protruding end being ripped off and consumed, but the concept of stopping at a fast-food restaurant for a “Fourthmeal” is totally alien to the French.

2. Espresso.


Filtered coffee is nearly unheard of in France. Order un café and you will get a cup containing a single shot of espresso, with a packet of sugar and either a small biscuit or a tiny piece of chocolate posed on the saucer. Coffee in the morning, coffee mid-morning, coffee after lunch, maybe coffee mid-afternoon and coffee after dinner: four or five espressos at least go down the average Frenchman in the course of a twenty-four hour period. At that rate the metabolism must be whirring like a hummingbird.

3. Gas that costs $7.80 a US gallon.

That’s not a typo. Converted from liters to US gallons and from euros to US dollars, the price of gasoline is anywhere from $7 to $8 a gallon. At that price it is cheaper to take public transportation, even between cities. French people, particularly city dwellers, do a LOT of walking. In addition, Paris and Lyon have widespread bicycle rental facilities; you swipe your transit card and you can rent a bike for a short period of time (free for the first hour in Lyon).

4. Not eating processed crap.


Flickr user smitin

This isn’t a tourist gimmick. This is how French people buy food.

There’s a surprising lack of processed junk eaten by French people. Sure, you can get Pringles and Diet Coke Coca-Cola Light in France, and they do get consumed, but sit down for a meal and your food is far more likely to have come from whole ingredients. High-fructose corn syrup is technically legal in France, but it’s not subsidized and so most bakers use real sugar. It’s not hard to imagine that a meal that started out as a duck and some potatoes and various vegetables might be better for you than industrially produced food.

5. The 90-minute lunch.

French people savor their meals. As an American, it gets tiring to have 90-minute lunches (sixty to eat, and then 30 minutes for coffee afterwards) and 2-hour dinners, because we’re used to eating on the go, walking down the sidewalk even. Eating slowly means you respond more appropriately to your body’s “full” signals and stop eating sooner.

Bonus: Cigarettes.

French people still smoke. A lot. Smoking was (rather controversially) banned in restaurants recently, but the cigarette is still a big part of life, whether a big fat American cig or one of those tiny-but-stinky Gauloises. Anyone who’s ever gained ten or twenty pounds after giving up the cancer stick can attest to this one.

Bonus: Well…at least they keep some promises