May 29, 2008

Death of the $100 Hamburger

With aviation fuel (avgas or 100LL as we like to call it) climbing over $5.50/gallon in many areas (see for current prices), it's clear that the famed $100 Hamburger is rapidly vanishing from aviation.


If you're not familiar with the concept, Wikipedia explains it well:

A $100 Hamburger is aviation slang for a private general aviation flight for the sole purpose of dining at a non-local airport. Most often used by pilots who are looking for any excuse to fly, a $100 hamburger trip usually involves flying a short distance (less than two hours), eating at an airport restaurant, and flying home. "$100" originally referred to the approximate cost of renting or operating a light general aviation aircraft, such as a Cessna 172, for the time it took to fly round-trip to a nearby airport. Increasing fuel prices have since caused an increase in hourly operating costs for most airplanes, whether rented or owned.

The last time we flew for a $100 hamburger was back in January when a group of group of us (two Citabrias, one Cub, and one Cessna 150) headed out to Merced for lunch.

Citabria N8643V

I actually did have a burger that day. :-)

But when your airplane burns 6.5 gallons/hour (leaned) and fuel is $5.50/gallon, you can't fly much more than an hour each way and keep it to $100 (not including food, maintenance, or insurance!).

The only I hope I see is that many of the new Light Sport Airplanes are using engines that burn anywhere from 3.5 to 5.0 gallons of fuel per hour. That's an improvement.

In The $200 hamburger, Nate Ferguson at AOPA Pilot suggests that we need to increase that number. He's definitely right, but something about calling it a $200 Hamburger really spoils it for me.

Posted by jzawodn at 05:59 PM

May 28, 2008

Yahoo! Developer Network Hiring a Technical Evangelist

If you happen to know someone who'd be interesting in joining the evangelism team on the Yahoo! Developer Network, please let me know.

The full job listing is here. To that, I'll add a few points of interest.

  • you get to attend and speak at numerous industry conferences
  • you can appear on YDN Theater as much as you'd like
  • you will work with a cool team
  • you get to be on the forefront of stuff like YOS (see: this video and this video too)
  • you may build prototype applications, mashups, and demonstrations to showcaswe our technology and services

That's on top of all the other benefits of working at a company like Yahoo! :-)

Feel free to send me a resume (that's the most direct method) or use the "Submit Resume" button on the listing.

Posted by jzawodn at 12:51 PM

May 25, 2008

Tim O'Reilly on Search

Tim O'Reilly gives the following advice about Search...

So, my advice to Yahoo!: continue with your plan to outsource search to Google, just like you did before 2002, and plow those increased profits and reduced costs into your own innovation, strengthening the areas where you are #1, exploring new ideas that will make YOUR users insanely happy, and generally focusing on what makes Yahoo! great, rather than on what doesn't. That is, unless Microsoft makes you so good a deal for your search assets that you just can't say no. But either way, let yourself be quit of the destructive competition and focus on adding real value for your users.

In other words: play to your strengths.


Posted by jzawodn at 12:40 PM

May 23, 2008

BlackBerry Curve Impressions

Yesterday my wife inherited my trusty old Motorola V710 cell phone after hers vanished. I took advantage of some credit I had, plus a pair of aggressive rebates from Verizon Wireless to get a Blackberry Curve at a very good price.

blackberry curve

I'll preface this by saying that I've never owned a "smart" phone before and wasn't sure what I was getting into. But so far I'm pretty happy. Having access to some of my favorite on-line apps (in mobile form) is surprisingly handy.

So far I've set up a few favorites in the browser, such as Weather Underground Mobile and Bloglines Mobile. I've also installed a few apps: GMail Mobile, TwitterBerry, and Google Maps Mobile. I expect that I'll find some useful aviation related mobile sites or apps that I need to try out as well.

The best part is that once the service on my EVDO card is shut off, I'll have a cheaper bill and similar capabilities to what I had before--partly thanks to Bluetooth Tethering. And from the looks of it, there are even some Linux tools to play with.

I dig that fact that I don't need to buy funky chargers. USB power is great. I'm finding the interface pretty easy to adapt to, and thanks to some BlackBerry keyboard shortcuts, I'm pretty good on the keyboard.

I thought about getting the BlackBerry Pearl but couldn't see the point of having something with a retarded keyboard when the "real thing" was close in price.

I haven't yet tried the camera and uploading to Flickr. Sadly, there is no ZoneTag.

I have used it as a phone and it's at least as loud and clear as my old phone.

What else is out there that I need to play with? I'm sure there's a lot...

See Also:

Posted by jzawodn at 12:13 PM

May 13, 2008

Good Food, Eating, and Diet Advice Talk by Michael Pollan

I've been a fan of Michael Pollan's work for some time now, so I was quite happy to run across a video of a recent talk he gave at Google in which he discusses the current understanding of food and nutrition as well as what's wrong with our "system" today.

Even if his name doesn't ring a bell, you may have heard of some of his books: In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, and Food Fight: The Citizen's Guide to a Food and Farm Bill.

Anyway, enjoy the video.

And, if you found that interesting, allow me to resurrect my 2+ years old diet posts. They seem to still garner a fair amount of attention, and recent readers may not have been reading when I first wrote them.

Posted by jzawodn at 02:14 PM

May 12, 2008

Monkeying with Search

Search Monkey A few weeks ago, at the Web 2.0 Expo, Matt Cutts dropped by the Yahoo! booth and we got to chatting a bit. He mentioned being impressed by Yahoo's willingness to monkey with our search results page--meaning Search Monkey, the tool that allows site owners (like me) and developers (like me) to, for lack of a better term, pimp their result.

I haven't had a chance to write up anything about Search Monkey yet, but luckily Rasmus dove in and wrote up a developer-centric summary. As he notes, there's a launch party later this week at Yahoo. Drop by for some food, drink, and more information about Search Monkey.

Posted by jzawodn at 03:17 PM

May 07, 2008

Why is it hard to work with big public companies?

People often ask questions like that. And from the inside it's clear that things aren't as easy as we wished they'd be. But I've never thought long enough about the issue to figure it out for myself, let alone try to explain it to others.

Luckily Greg Cohn has. Here's just a bit of what he says in Doing Business with the Semi-Permeable Corporation:

Today’s environment is transparent, open, and conversational - meaning almost anyone can get to anyone and communicate with them publicly, semi-publicly, or privately. This is great - when I need to find someone, it tends to be quite easy to reach them directly or with one degree of separation via my network. When someone needs to reach me, I am equally easy to find (and in fact have a public “contact me” email link that’s one click away from a search on my name). As conversations become substantive, companies are increasingly transparent about their objectives, plans, competition, and even finances, all of which materially increase effectiveness.
So much for the good stuff. The challenges are: a) that I’m still under the constraints of a public company, and can not in any way be “conversational” about material inside information; and b) that open doors like mine are magnets for everything from unrelated BU inquiries (from people who should know better) to “the Yahoo! suggestion box”, and the signal-to-noise ratio of inbound items can create a lot of distractions and confusion if I don’t filter aggressively.

I can definitely sympathize with the second bit. I don't know how many random inquiries I get each month, but it can be a lot to deal with. Help me with my research project. Introduce me to someone in My Yahoo! Tell me my Yahoo! password. Fix my email. Buy these pills. The list goes on!

And I digress...

Seriously, go read what Greg wrote. He did a good job of helping people to see the world from the other side.

Posted by jzawodn at 12:35 PM

May 06, 2008

Web Developer Needed

yahoo The Yahoo! Developer Network (otherwise known as "YDN", also known as "where I work") is looking for a skilled webdev to work full-time at Yahoo! HQ in Sunnyvale, California.

Here's a bit of the boilerplate about the job. I've left out the "who is yahoo" stuff, since I assume your know what Yahoo is if you managed to work the Internet long enough to find this. :-)

The ideal candidate will have a strong command of JavaScript 1.0-1.5, DHTML, DOM Levels 0-2, CSS 1-2.1, HTML & XHTML, web standards, PHP, object-oriented programming, cross-browser compatibility issues, progressive enhancement, optimization techniques (both in file weight and perceived/actual rendering speed), accessibility, device-portability techniques, and internationalization issues.
Knowledge of XML, HTTP, Apache, MySQL, remote scripting, state management, working within a Unix environment, CVS, and bug tracking tools is highly desirable. A Computer Science degree with 5+ years of related work experience is required.
The environment is fast-paced with numerous user-centered iterative design & development cycles. You'll be responsible for building everything from proof-of-concepts and usability prototypes to deployment-quality code.


Shoot me your resume and I'll get you hooked up with the hiring manager.

Posted by jzawodn at 01:55 PM

May 05, 2008

Open Source Nonsense: Microsoft and Yahoo Flamebait?

Writing on OStatic, Reuven Lerner (whose writing I've read in various places over the years) appears to be hitting the crack pipe in explaining how he wonders if Microsoft buying Yahoo would lead to Yahoo ditching open source projects.


That's what I thought. Here's what he says

Back when Microsoft announced its intention to buy Yahoo, many of us wondered whether Yahoo would be forced to get rid of its open-source projects in the wake of such a purchase. But after reading the press releases put out by Yahoo, in which they seem to indicate that they're aiming not only to survive, but to become a stronger and more profitable company, I have to wonder whether this might force Yahoo to give up some of its open-source projects.

While it's not at all clear who "us" is there (open source community? OStatic writers? Israeli developers?), the implication that Open Source is somehow more expensive could use a bit of support. But let's go on and look for it.

My reasoning is as follows: Yahoo is not as profitable as it needs to be, which means that they begin to shed low-margin business units. Yahoo has already indicated its willingness to give much or all of its advertising business to Google; this presumably means that everything is on the table.


While it's undoubtedly true that open-source software has many benefits, we have yet to see an obvious indication that development (and giving away) open-source software leads to higher profits. Indeed, while we cannot pin Sun's steep decline in the last quarter solely on its embrace of open-source software, the correlation seems too strong to ignore. Which means that if Yahoo is looking to restrict itself to profitable ventures, they might stop funding some of the open-source projects they have supported until now.


Hadoop is critical to many business operations within Yahoo, including Yahoo Search. Based on what the folks from that team have said, I find it hard to believe that getting on board with Hadoop was more expensive than rolling our own (again). And lower expenses often lead to higher profits, right?

And then there's PHP, another very important piece of infrastructure at Yahoo. It replaced a dozen other half-baked languages years ago. Maintaining a single server-side scripting language is far less expensive than a dozen that all suck more than PHP.

I could go on. But let's keep reading...

He then ends the article by saying the following, which really should have been at the beginning so that people wouldn't waste time hoping for a well thought out argument.

I should note that what I'm writing is pure speculation: No one at Yahoo has even hinted that their support of such projects as YUI and Hadoop will go away. And indeed, those tools are essential to Yahoo's future, which means that we can expect them to continue to survive.

I think there's a damned good reason that nobody has hinted that way: It'd be stupid to do so.

I've generally been pleased by the quality of writing at thinking on the GigaOm blogs. But this one really leaves me scratching my head. Was this supposed to be some kind of Open Source flamebait