Trio

Friday night Duke and I went to a concert at the The Mountain Winery in Saratoga. The Mountain Winery is my favorite place for a concert. It has a relatively small seating area and beautiful setting under the stars with the winery in the background. Whenever we go to a concert there we always have a picnic first in the parking lot overlooking the Santa Clara Valley. If you haven’t experienced a concert at the Mountain Winery you should definitely make a point of going there when you are in the San Francisco Bay area.
We saw  Stanley ClarkeBela FleckJean-Luc Ponty. who are doing a summer concert tour called Trio. All three musicians were exceptional.  Bassist Stanley Clarke makes the bass into a solo instrument.   Jazz
violinist Jean-Luc Ponty made the violin sound like about three or four instruments playing at one time and  banjo player Bela Fleck made the banjo seem like an instrument made for Jazz. When they played together the strength and power of the music took your breath away. This was one of the best concerts I have been to in a long time.

A Wonderful Dinner

Pat, Linda, and I have been friend for almost 30 years. The three of us always get together to celebrate each of our birthdays. In a previous post I have discussed the dinner we had at Manresa  for Pat’s birthday. I guess I didn’t write anything about the wonderful dinner we had at Gary Danko in San Francisco for Linda’s birthday. Last weekend we celebrated my birthday by going to Cetrella in Half Moon Bay. It was also am amazingly wonderful dinner. I had chicken liver pate to start, then I had the
  Pan Roasted Grimaud Farms Duck Breast, Wild Rice, Toasted Hazelnut and Baby Leek Pilaf with Caramelized Mission Fig for my entree and had the Peach Tart Tatin with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream for dessert. It was all wonderfully prepared and delicious. The service was exceptional and the atmosphere was wonderful. I especially liked that the noise level was low. So many good restaurants I’ve been to lately have high hardwood ceilings that make conversation difficult. I noticed that at Cetrella  even though the ceilings were high they had acoustic covering.

As you can imagine dinner with three long time friends is always wonderful. We have been through a lot together and never run out of things to laugh and talk about together. It is so wonderful to know that no matter what happens in our lives we will always be friends.

Harry Potter and Travel Plans

Allison and I had dinner Thursday night and got to discuss the new Harry Potter book which we have both finished. Rowling has an amazing ability to do what I think all fiction writers should do, tell a great story and create characters you care about. Someone asked me why the series is so popular and I think it is that simple. Harry Potter books are just meant to be enjoyed and one shouldn’t spend too much time analyzing them, although it is fun to speculate what will happen next.

Work is especially busy right now. We have started the pilot testing for our new software. I am off to Tucson tomorrow for meetings with my boss and the rest of our group. I’m looking forward to meeting the folks I’ve talked to on the phone.

Book Club

Our book club book this month was The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.   I got to lead the discussion. It is a very simple read (I read it in a weekend) but it is highly entertaining, thought provoking, and memorable. The story is told from the perspective of Christopher, a 15 year old autistic boy. The author, Mark Haddon, does an amazing job of giving the reader Christopher’s perspective. 

Christopher  is very talented at Math and applies his own logic to his world.  But his  view of the world lacks any  empathy or understanding of human interaction. One reviewer said that Haddon does what authors are supposed to do, paint the picture and not try to tell you how to feel. As a result when you  read it you  tend to rush in and fill in the emotions yourself.  I highly recommend the book.

Jonny Lang

Last night we went to see Jonny Lang at Villa Montalvo   His singing and guitar playing were exceptional. The power  and energy came through to make it a great concert. He was billed as a "once in a generation blues talent" and I would have to agree. If you ever get the chance to see a concert of his I would highly recommend it. And he is only 24. His debut album came out when he was 16.  I felt like we got to experience something very special. And Villa Montalvo is wonderful outdoor setting.

Zipingo

It is bugging me that I can’t remember who first articulated the relationship between the number of participants in a community like ebay and its usefulness. The bottom line is that the bigger the community the more valuable the service. I know I have read this somewhere and it is one of the basic tenets of the Internet economics. As the number of people who use the  Internet increases so does the rate of attachment because the Internet becomes more and more useful. I can’t even figure  out how to Google this to find what I am looking for. If someone can point me to a link I’d appreciate it.
I remember that the principal was described much more clearly than I am describing it.

UPDATE: Thanks to  atthecrux for answering my question. The law I am looking for is Metcalfe’s Law , aka the "network effect".

But that is not exactly what I want to talk about here.  The purpose of this posting is to talk about Zipingo.com. It is a new service that Intuit has launched into beta test this week.  We are building a database of business ratings. The site describes itself as the "yellow pages with ratings."  Obviously a site like this isn’t useful unless what you are interested in has been rated. So for now we are trying to get a lot of ratings. By the way I am not working on this project at Intuit. When I say we I am saying we as in Intuit.  Anyway Zipingo is only going to be really useful when it has millions of ratings so Intuit has added a link to Zipingo from Quicken 2006 and a link from Quickbooks. This should make it really easy for people to rate their transactions. It is also really easy to rate a business or your optometrist or your chiropractor from the site itself. Give it at try! I am really enjoying watching the growth of the number of rankings on the site. I’ve done 27 so far and the number this week is up to  41,777. It will be fascinating to me to see how it grows.

 

Software for Independent Financial Planners

In a  recent blog entry Tom Peters addressed the  question, "Can a small financial services firm compete in a world of Citigroups and Bank of Americas?" Peters put together a list of 16 ‘Must Dos’, Two of the ‘Must Dos’  especially caught my eye:

  • " Sophisticated use of information technology.* (Small-"ish" is no excuse for "small aims"/execution in IS/IT!" 
  • "Web-power!* (The Web can make very small very big … if the product-service is super-cool and one purposefully masters buzz/viral marketing.)"

They caught my attention because the software for independent financial planners that we are piloting right now will help small financial planners compete with the big guys. If you are an independent financial planner who manages your customer’s assets and you are interested in helping us pilot test our software drop me an email marion_vermazen at intuit.com.

As I was writing this blog entry I discovered that  Tom Peters recently posted a blog entry about what he has learned in his first year of blogging. It resonated with me and it gave me a new perspective on a couple of things like the power of small posts and how blogging breaks can lead to better blogging. I really enjoy reading The Tom Peters blog. It is a group blog and the posts are almost always interesting and thought provoking.