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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Google Has Violated A Trust With Its Users

Not an email, a phone call, or any other kind of notice that I was suddenly and clandestinely rejected from Google Maps.

After about 2 months of no phone calls coming in, I wondered... Is there a problem?!? I show up here and lookee lookee, someone has quietly turned off my marketing. This feels sneaky and underhanded.

We have based much of our presence upon Google and working with them as a partner, and this is how they repay us?

I have been an early adopter, a survey filler outer, standing on my head to be a part of what they do. And this is how they repay us?

After all of the trust we have placed in this company, despite warnings to the contrary, we have trusted them to treat us and the services we provide fairly and honestly.

But now, they treat us like we are strangers whom they have never met.

It is time to rethink our relationship with this company, and develop solutions that do not put them at the core of our business.

I recommend a boycott of all Adwords and Adsense usage from each Places user who has been rejected without notice and without reason.

There are many other avenues to advertizing your site and monetizing it. Many of the monetizing options are much more efficient and can put more money in your pocket than Adsense.

Join me and support this sentiment by telling the world this is a useful post below.

in reference to: Quality guidelines : Get started - Google Places Help (view on Google Sidewiki)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Getting Things Done

I recently started posting on a government small business web site.  They posed the question "How do you take the big picture and turn that into small actionable tasks?" (paraphrasing).  Here is my answer:

There are multiple tools for taking a big idea and translating it into actionable steps.  The first cardinal rule is "be organized".  Every project becomes bigger than we think it will be, and just like in the book, "Getting Things Done", you must write down everything so that you mind is free to do the hard work of solving problems instead of trying to recall the 50 other things you need to do.  This is my formula:

1)  Write an ethereal vision of what the idea should look like.  Don't put any limitations on this.  This is the big picture translated into concrete words.  Don't be afraid to come back and change it as you learn more about your project because everything in life is a can of worms- they are all bigger than you realize til you get deeper into it.

2)  Write purpose for your project.  This should be single short sentence.  Economy of language is important.  Use as few words as possible so that you are forced to be concise.  DO NOT make it about the money, make it about giving people what they want or need, even if they don't know it yet.  Mine for my website is "To create a source of simple advice for people who need help with LA Real Estate"

3)  Write out concrete results that MUST be accomplished by the project in order for it to be successful.  Insert within the middle of your result a "so that"  This will show you what small steps you need to take to accomplish each project.  Create a list of actions that need to be completed under each result.  Prioritize the results, and therefore the actions beneath them.  Don't be afraid to come back, add more results, change some, or create more actions as you learn more about your project.  Some results from my website include, "Engage my readers so that they contribute and reach out to me." and some of the actions are "inlude social networking tools for users to share with their networks" and "reach out to other forums to let them know we exist".

4)  In no more than 5 words, write out your context in active concise language.  This is what you need to hold on to and project out onto the world as you are completing, scheduling, managing, and prioritizing your results and tasks.  If you are doing this right, people should be able to read it on your face, your body language, your tone, and your words.  My context for my website is "Giving Education And Simple Solutions".

This is how i tie the BIG to the small, and how I stay organized doing it.
Michael S. Gentile
Los Angeles Realtor

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Google Friend Connect Enabled Sites List

I have just enabled Google Friend Connect for this site, and tried looking for a list of other sites that are also enabled.  One site offered a link, but then required me to get invited to join...  And thats not the way I want my internet to be.

So here is a great spot to start a public list of Google Friend Connect enabled sites.  Just leave a comment in the spaces below with your link and hopefully a description of what your site is about.

Oh boy am I behind on the times.  There are LOTS of sites out there.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Food Porn: Caramel, Part 2 (and how it applies to brewing)

In my last post about caramelizing, I described a process of getting some very deep flavors out of your food through delgazing:

"Letting these sugars brown by cooking off the water in them, then adding water back to them through deglazing, then browning the sugars again (and repeating this process multiple times) will lead to the creation of a very savory sauce using nothing but the food you are already cooking."

This principal also applies to beer, as it turns out.  After a home brew meeting with the Maltose Falcons  I met with a couple of very good brewers, and asked one of them if I was tasting diacetyl in one of his beers.  He said no, and that it was actually caramel.  As it turns out, boiling your wort for 2-3 hours with a driving, high heat with 4-5 hop breaks greatly enhances the flavor of many beers through the carmelization process.  It also helps suspended proteins that can contribute negatively to the flavor to glob up (I know, very clinical language) and drop out/be skimmed off.

I recently brewed a very big beer (likely to be 17% to 19% alcohol) and put this theory to the test.  Hopefully, a big slug of Trappist yeast from some Belgian monks will help it attenuate.  If not, I will have to find some stronger yeast.

I will let you know how it turns out!

How To Start A Brewery In California

Los Angeles is a thirsty city.  The recent renaissance of home brewing has yielded increased demand for commercial micro brews and nano brews.  Many home brewers talk about how cool it would be to start a brewery of their own.  Is starting your own brewery all it is cracked up to be?

I recently sat down with the founders of the recently opened Eagle Rock Brewery to discuss what it took to start your own brewery.  It is not an easy task, to be sure.  They are the first brewery to open in LA in over 50 years.  Regulations and restrictions abound, as "The Man" likes to hold a brutha' down.  Got $500k to a million bucks, a penchant for backbreaking labor and two years of free time?  Then read on.  If not, read on anyways because we all need a reasonable cost/solution to allow more brewers to share their beers with the community.

The first step in starting a brewery in Los Angeles is deciding on one of two paths:  a manufacturing environment or a restaurant/brewery.  M2 or M3 zoning (medium or heavy manufacturing) is required if you will be a stand alone brewery without any food offerings.  This severely limits your options for locations, requires you to be paying rent (or a mortgage) while waiting over one year for your permitting/inspections, and pouring beers at your facility is another matter entirely.

The second option is to start a restaurant AND a brewery in a retail environment.  While it does allow you to have some income while you are giving reach arounds to bureaucrats, shopping for (hopefully used) equipment, and greasing the palms of police and inspectors, you have to start two businesses at once (and the cost of the location is higher).  My long time friends at the Pineapple Hill Saloon And Grill (I sold them a home, the best deal of the century!), a restaurant/bar, can tell you that just running a bar and a restaurant together is tough.  Starting both businesses on your own can be enough to give you an aneurysm.

So equipment and permitting can cost as little as $50,000 but paying rent/mortgage on a location for a year and a half or longer can run hundreds of thousands of dollars while you are waiting for permitting and inspections to go through.  Does anyone have input on how to reduce or eliminate this cost?

People interested in investing in, partnering, offering a location, or otherwise helping accomplish starting a brewery:  contact me!

To read in-depth about starting your own brewery, this book is a winner:

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Like Belgian Beer? Watch This Show.

I had to share this show, because it gives you the low down on what is happening with the scene across the pond.  Belgian beers have a huge variety of styles, and many of these styles are distinctive and brave when compared to the rest of the brewing world.  Many beer drinkers that I know love Belgian beers.  There are lots of fun little tidbits in here, like the fact that the Delerium Cafe is home to the Delerium beer line, and how some Trappist Monks keep their monastery/brewery a secret from the outside world.  So that means there are some super rare Belgians out there, and that very few people have access to these secret beers.

So lets ruin the secret: If you know of one of these Belgian breweries, drop a line here and tell us about it.