- Warren Buffett: 10 Ways to Get Rich – “When you first make money, you may be tempted to spend it. Don’t. Instead, reinvest the profits. Buffett learned this early on. In high school, he and a pal bought a pinball machine to pun in a barbershop. With the money they earned, they bought more machines until they had eight in different shops.“
- Coding Horror: Is Email = Efail? – “Why answer one person’s email directly when I could potentially answer a thousand different people’s email with a single blog post?“
- Dave Wright: Keys to Startup Success – “Don’t hide your killer product (you do have a killer product, right?) behind mounds of marketing speak that leaves visitors to your site wondering what in the world you’re selling. Just explain it, clear and simple. If your idea is bigger than your product today, sell the product you have today and your customers won’t be disappointed.“
- Peter Schiff: The Truth About Bailouts – “So for the same reasons that Washington should not bail out General Motors, the world should not bailout America. Like GM, our economy is in desperate need of a restructuring. Spending must be replaced with savings, and consumption with production. The service sector must shrink and manufacturing must expand to fill the void.“
- Martin Weiss: Citigroup collapses! Banking Shutdown Possible – “The potential havoc that might be caused by a Citigroup failure, with bets that involve five times more money than Lehman’s — and the financial holocaust that might be caused by a JPMorgan failure with close to 13 times more than Lehman — boggles the imagination. How bad could it actually be? No one knows, and therein lies one of the primary dangers. “
- New York Times Executive Suite: The Worst Is Yet To Come: Anonymous Banker Weighs In On The Coming Credit Card Debacle – “Today, we are bailing out the banks because of their greedy and deceptive lending practices in the mortgage industry. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. More is coming, I’m sorry to say. Layoffs are being announced nationwide in the tens of thousands. As people begin to lose their jobs, they will not be able to pay their credit card bills either. And the banks will be back for more handouts.“
- Credit Loan Blog: America’s Debt to Income Ratio as Compared with Other Countries – “If you were to boil down what each person in this country contributed to the nation’s income vs. debt ratio, the results would be startling. We would have to take into consideration the nation’s population to better understand this. And some may be surprised to see that the US does not fare quite as bad as imagined, comparatively.“
- Csaba Csere: After Three Decades of Decline, Is This the End for Detroit Automakers? – “Since 2005, Ford has lost $21 billion. GM has made a staggering $74 billion disappear. And Chrysler is bleeding $2 billion to $3 billion per year, though we don’t know exactly how much because, as a privately held company, it is no longer required to release financial information.“
- Washington Post: Fed’s Role in Crisis Is Giant, if Opaque – “A year ago, the central bank had assets of $868 billion, of which about 90 percent was in Treasuries. Last week, it had assets of $2.2 trillion on its books, of which 22 percent was in Treasuries. Much of the remainder represents the new lending to banks and other financial institutions.“
- Smashing Magazine: 15 Beautiful High-Quality Free Fonts – “In this selection we’re glad to present you Aller Sans, Mayberry Pro SemiBold, Quicksand, Agrafa Hairline, Sketch Rockwell, Megalopolis Extra and a couple of other high-quality free fonts.“
- Ira Flatow: Cancel The Big Partying; Get To Work – “If President-elect Obama wants to make an eye opening statement about just how bad our financial situation is let him cancel all the fancy inaugural partying and spend the money getting Americans back to work building the green economy he says he wants. This way, he would hit the ground running on day-one in office and show millions of Americans who have lost their homes, their jobs and their life savings that he feels their pain.“
- TeachStreet Blog: San Francisco Bay Area – Here we come! – “At the end of a long week fueled by lattes and cuties (aka California clementines), it’s official. TeachStreet is now live in the San Francisco Bay Area with over 65,000 new classes, instructors, teachers, tutors, and coaches. Woo-hooo!!” – Awesome, congratulations!
- Marcelo Calbucci : Finding Your Blogging Voice (and more) – “If you try to write with a different persona then yourself, or if you try to be cute when in real life you’re not, or if you try to be controversial but that’s not you, then you are adding a burden to the blogging process by creating extra work. If you are yourself, you don’t have to over-think.“
- The Imprudence Blog – “Imprudence is an open source metaverse viewer project based on the Second Life Viewer source. The goal of Imprudence is to greatly improve the usability of the Viewer through community involvement, thoughtful design, modern development methods, and a pro-change atmosphere.“
- Replicator Blog: MIT Smart Customization Seminar – “Disney prevents customers on Zazzle from putting a Mickey Mouse graphic on the same garment as a Winnie the Pooh graphic. Apparently this would create some rift in the space time continuum of cartoon universes.“
- Virtual Worlds News: Quick Stat: KPMG Virtual Job Fair Draws 20k Registrants – “KPMG, a network of firms providing audit, tax and advisory service, held a 48-hour virtual jobs fair in Unisfair in September that drew 20,000 registrants and generated 9,300 applications for jobs at 45 KPMG member firms representing over 40 countries.“
- Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission: 12 Ways to Help Homeless People – “Talking to a homeless person like you would to anyone else gives them a sense of dignity and helps them to feel valued — something homelessness robs them of.“
- Second Life Blog: Solution Providers Update from Glenn Linden – “Quarterly surveys let us extrapolate that Solution Providers work on over 600 projects per quarter. We estimate that the Solution Provider ecosystem is roughly a US$70M business, engaging more than a thousand people.“
- Don Lancaster: An Energy Fundamentals Intro and Summary – “Some People……will do ANYTHING to save the environment.… EXCEPT take a science course!“
- Ponoko – “You can design a product and get it made in your own personal factory.“
- Pololu Robotics & Electronics: Custom Laser Cutting Service – “With our custom part cutting service, you can quickly and economically realize intricate designs that are too complex for creating by hand. You can cut smooth curves and even engrave text or logos on to your parts. The only restriction is that parts are flat, but you can make three-dimensional robots by combining multiple two-dimensional pieces. Of course, non-robot parts are welcome – our laser cutting service is great for anyone with a project requiring custom parts!“
- Phil Burns: Catching Up – “I burned out on life online and pretty much burned out on life. Getting through this has been the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do, and it’s still going. As much as I love blogging, I had to huddle in a corner for a while to protect my sanity and try to regroup.“
- Bre Pettis: Thingiverse Is Now Alive – “Zach Hoeken and I schemed it up and he’s been coding like crazy to bring it to life. Invite your friends to the thingiverse and share the universe of things with folks you know!“
- Thingiverse: Welcome to the Thingiverse – “This is a place to share digital designs that can be made into real, physical objects. Let’s create a better universe, together! “
- SeattlePI: Indian Music and Film Gathers Followings in Seattle, Other Cities – “The owner of Totem Lake Cinema, a Kirkland theater that shows exclusively Bollywood films, said he’s seen a 20 to 30 percent growth in the number of customers the past couple years“
- Totem Lake Cinema – “Indian movie page.“
- Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories: Meggy Jr RGB – “Meggy Jr RGB is a new kit that we designed as a platform to develop handheld pixel games. It’s based around a fully addressable 8×8 RGB LED matrix display, and features six big fat buttons for comfy game play.” – Just ordered one, not sure what I will do with it.
- The Big Picture: Peering Into the Micro World – “For visualizing the scale, most measurements below are in microns – one micron is a millionth of a meter – human hair is approximately 100 microns thick. ” – Stunning pictures, don’t miss!
My teenage daughter Bianca is hoping to go to Spain next year for a semester of study abroad. The program is kind of pricey and we told her that she would have to raise half of the money herself. Since she’s a very accomplished cook and baker, she’s going to sell some tasty baked goods to friends and neighbors during the holiday season.
Earlier today she started to gather her recipes together and created a brochure using Microsoft Publisher. She asked me how she would go about setting prices and I told her that she could price them based on value to the consumer or as some multiple of her ingredient and labor costs. This particular 15 year old wasn’t quite sure what I was talking about, so we set about to figure out her actual costs.
This turned out to be more complex than I would have ever imagined, but we managed to do it to a high degree of accuracy using a Google Docs Spreadsheet, a few online reference sites for unit conversion, and two online shopping sites (Amazon Fresh and Safeway).
We created a new spreadsheet and set up a pair of tabs, one for an ingredients list and another for recipes:
Then we populated the Ingredients tab with information about the ingredients that she’d need. We had to do a bunch of math to convert the weights and measures of the packaged ingredients into the equivalents used in the recipes. The rec.food.cooking FAQ and the Sugar Conversion Calculator were both very helpful. It is always odd to see how recipes interchange weights and volumes so often. Why is flour sold by the pound and used by the cup? Anyway, here’s what it looked like:
In order to simplify the cost calculations we assigned a named range to each value in the Recipe Unit Price Column::
Then we switched to the Recipes tab and entered a recipe (Martha Stewart’s Pumpkin Cookies With Brown Butter Icing) to try it out:
We then used the named ranges to calculate the cost of each ingredient:
Summing up the column gave us the total cost (we decided to ignore the costs of seasonings and spices for this costing exercise). Bianca was intrigued and decided to compute her unit cost, set some prices, and even figured out her profit. She had never used a spreadsheet before (what do they teach kids in school these days?) but caught on really quickly:
Not bad at all for an hour or two’s worth of work. Bianca now has a very valuable pricing tool at her disposal and she’s going to be better equipped to run a real business of her own someday. Frankly, I was surprised that the ingredients for Pumpkin Cookies With Brown Butter Icing will cost $7.96, but I am relieved to know that this works out to just 13 cents per cookie.
She’s starting out local and isn’t ready to ship goodies, but if you are in Redmond or Sammamish and would like to buy some delicious baked goods for the holidays, drop me a note (via a blog comment) and I’ll send you a brochure.
- Study Hacks: The Art of Speaking – “If you want to become a world class speaker, try to deploy Winston’s Star. A five-point checklist of things to make your talk extra memorable.“
- Mario Menti: Second Life Survey Bot With IronPython and Libsecondlife – “Nothing too earth-shattering here, reusing much of my previous prototypes, but I think quite a nice example of the kind of thing we can do in Second Life to provide engaging and fun survey experiences.“
- AlterNet: Forget Red vs. Blue — It’s the Educated vs. People Easily Fooled by Propaganda – “We live in two Americas. One America, now the minority, functions in a print-based, literate world. It can cope with complexity and has the intellectual tools to separate illusion from truth. The other America, which constitutes the majority, exists in a non-reality-based belief system. This America, dependent on skillfully manipulated images for information, has severed itself from the literate, print-based culture. It cannot differentiate between lies and truth. It is informed by simplistic, childish narratives and cliches. It is thrown into confusion by ambiguity, nuance and self-reflection.“
- Put Up Your Dukes: You, Sir, Are Going to Summer School – “The corn be with the trucky niggets.“
- FiveThityEight: Prop 8 Myths – “ The good news for supporters of marriage equity is that — and there’s no polite way to put this — the older voters aren’t going to be around for all that much longer, and they’ll gradually be cycled out and replaced by younger voters who grew up in a more tolerant era.“
- Amazing Nature: U-M Team Recovers Ancient Whale in Egyptian Desert – “The 1989 team discovered that Basilosaurus still retained tiny, useless legs, feet, and toes representing hind legs that were lost at a later stage of whale evolution.“
- Profy: Virtual Economy Grows as Real Economy Shrinks – “In a certain sense I can compare Second Life to alcohol. Frankly, if there is one thing I can expect people will resort to looking for relief from their daily problems, looming unemployment and uncertainty everywhere, it will be alcohol. But what if Second Life could be a similar vent hole for them as well?“