New Hunch reports

We’ve been producing lots of interesting reports lately using Hunch data. Among them:

Voting in an Echo Chamber: The Myth of the “Informed” Vote

Aisle vs Window: The great debate

There’s also Magazines and Music, The Science of Attraction, and many more in the full report list.


New Verizon iPhone NOT coming by Jan (reliable source)

It’s confirmed: there will not be a Verizon iPhone available anytime before February 2011.

I know this because I had a 15 minute conversation with a local Verizon rep. while he was selling me a Droid X. I’ll call him Myron to protect my valuable source. This is serious intel.

"Ain't happenin'": A reliable source

“It’s happening, but not anytime soon,” Myron said, “And certainly not in January,” he added for dramatic emphasis.

How was he so sure?  He cited two reasons.  First, he says that secrets aren’t kept very well at Verizon, and if the phone were truly coming out in January, this would be the best-kept secret the company had ever had.

Secondly, he said that typically, training for major new products begins months in advance of their release, since customers start coming in and calling to inquire about the upcoming change. But there hasn’t been a peep about iPhone training.

These sound like perfectly reasonable conclusions to me.

So I’m discounting the fact that reputable media sources have followed the CDMA chip supply chain to note huge increases in core component sourcing.  I’m also ignoring the reports that contracted call centers have been asked to massively ramp up in anticipation of a major launch. And analyst speculation? Poppycock.

Could this conclusion have anything to do with justifying a decision to buy a pricey Droid X (with not much of a discount), because I just couldn’t stomach my POS LG “touchscreen” for one more day?  Could it have anything to do with the fact that Myron wanted to close a $350 deal today rather than see a customer walk until January? Nah.

So, draw your own conclusions based on “facts” and “senior management insiders”, but on this one, I’m going with Myron.

A weekend above 23rd Street

Since this was our first weekend in the city after closing up the Fire Island house, we decided to break out of our routine and venture uptown.  It was great.

We had dinner Saturday at Robert, in the Museum of Arts & Design on Columbus Circle.  (Warning: the restaurant’s website is really irritating.)  Food was great, interior design is terrific, views are amazing, and service was spotty but generally ok. We’ll definitely go back.

Our table at the restaurant. Amazing views of Columbus Circle, the Upper West Side, and Central Park.

The view of Columbus Circle from our table at Robert

After dinner we took a 10 min tour through the Hudson Hotel, which has an amazing outdoor terrace/bar.

Then we walked another 10 minutes or so to the new Ink 48 hotel on 48th & 11th.  Views from the 16th floor rooftop bar were absolutely stunning; there are no other tall buildings around, and it provided a rare East-facing view of Times Square and midtown.

Big City Lights

270 degree panorama shot taken with the help of my new Droid X

Nifty water feature has changing light colors

Sunday we headed back to the Upper West Side, starting out with a stroll around the Natural History Museum.

Museum of Natural History

Heed that warning

We passed by several nice-looking brunch places, but most were pretty dog-unfriendly and wouldn’t allow Nanu to sit under the table in their outdoor patios. Finally we found a place with less stringent rules. Our brunch at Al Dente was actually quite good, although the online reviews I read today are pretty bad, so I guess I wouldn’t recommend it in general.

Our meal was good at Al Dente, but online reviews are pretty bad

Next, we checked out an outdoor flea market. It was pretty upscale and they had some interesting stuff.

Old compasses, magnifying glasses, telescopes and sextants

Still, there were no buyers

Finally, someone’s short, little legs were getting tired. (And Nanu seemed to be getting pooped, too.) So we headed back down to Chelsea, with one of us hanging out the taxi window to greet passers-by.

Short legs are getting tired by this point

City girl on her way home

Key performance metrics for pets

It’s good to have goals, and it’s even better to measure progress against them.

Even Nanu knows that. That’s why Diane, our dog walker, measures performance every day on Nanu’s Key Performance Metrics dashboard.

It’s all very demanding & intense.  So much so, that sometimes a performance slip-up warrants an explanation.

Take Sept 27th, for example.  A less-than-perfect performance came with the caveat: “Too much rain for her to poop.”

Seems like a reasonable justification to me.  And that’s exactly the excuse I’m going to use the next time my  TPS reports are late.  Good inspiration, Nanu.

A simple design trick guaranteed to infuriate your paying subscribers

Update: See Oct 12, 2010 update below

There’s not a lot of content that I pay for online, but there is some, such as the WSJ and Zagat.

Despite valuing its online content enough to pay for it, I end up irritated with every time I have to interact with it and re-sign in (typically, after clearing cookies or changing computers).

Why? The site makes it nearly impossible to find a ‘log in’ link so that current subscribers can continue reading teaser content.  (go ahead: see if you can find it below in 5 seconds or less)  Instead, they plaster ‘subscribe now’ in at least 6 places on the page, including at the most logical place to also include ‘sign in’: where they cut off the teaser content.

It’s a usability flaw that never ceases to irritate me, even though I now know where the microscopic log in link is located.  Is this really how the WSJ wants to engage its existing subscribers?


Go ahead: try to find the 'log in' link so you can finish reading the article that you've paid to access as a subscriber


Site designers and UX planners should never lose sight of the fact that even as they’re trying to entice new users to their properties, they should create a great experience for their existing users — particularly paying ones.

Update: Oct 12, 2010

To the WSJ’s credit (and to my astonishment), they:

* Graciously acknowledged my tweet/gripe about the above issue, via a Tweet reply within 10 minutes. Here’s the exchange:

* Sometime between then and now, they updated their teaser content landing page as shown below.  It now includes 2 additional login links where you’d logically expect those links to be: before the paid content begins and after the teaser cut-off.

The above has now gone from an example of a design gripe to an example of turning a suggestion around so that the griper becomes an evangelist (which is what I’m doing with this updated blog post and new Tweet). At the same time, the WSJ’s social media folks listened to a valid suggestion, got it to the right department, and that department made an improvement which now benefits all their subscribers.

Great example of social media in action and done well. Marketers: take notes.

The shocking thing about the Facebook outage is the collateral damage on other sites

Sites scrambled like the dickens when Facebook launched its Like button a few months ago, plastering the button all over their content. But now they’re finding out what happens when FB goes down and you don’t have a contingency plan.

As an example, check out what just about every article on CNN looks like now.  Where the ‘Like’ button would normally be, there’s a gigantic “Service Unavailable – DNS” error shown.  Ouch.

FB outage causing all kinds of headaches for other sites

The NYT handles this a little better; the Like button is still shown and you don’t get the error until you click it. But still – this ain’t purty.

Facebook seems to be back up now. But I wonder if the outage is going to cause some of these major sites using the Like button to assess what contingency plans they could enact should the FB API fail again. It’s a relevant question to ask.

Beer heaven in the Bowery

A couple of weeks ago Paul and I crossed the great divide (5th Ave) to venture East and have dinner in the Lower East Side. Dinner at The Orchard was ok- (great flatbreads but a suburban mall-like decor). It was the walk back, when we discovered the beer room at the Whole Foods on Houston, that was the highlight.

The Beer Room has more than 1,000 different types of beer, many refrigerated but even more on shelves. A handful are also offered on tap at any given time, and they also sell home brew kits if you want to do it yourself.  This place is worth a visit.

About 1,000 types of brew, including a few on tap

Kits, drums, and capping equipment for the DIY crowd

What to do on a flight from NYC to Berlin

This sketch series is hilarious.  I wish I could draw…

New Urban Art on 21st Street

The elementary school on 21st Street between 8th and 9th Avenues in Manhattan is getting a major piece of artwork added to its 6 story high walls.  Pretty cool:

In progress

Fuzzy pic of artists and crew, taking a break

Check out the details on the shoes/feet

All done. An awesome addition to our block.

You can read a bit more about the artists here and here or watch them in this video interview. Even better pictures of this particular piece are on

Smart move by Yahoo to partner with Gannett for local sales

I’ve written before about the challenges of selling local online advertising and the difficulty of delivering a good local experience for end users.  (and don’t even get me started about that most dreaded of all local advertising vehicles, phone books)  So I was glad to see today’s announcement that Yahoo! will be partnering with Gannett’s sales force to peddle Y!’s inventory to local businesses.  It’s also interesting that Yahoo will be offering ‘interest targeting’ as part of the inventory. That’s something that’s going to be more and more critical for publishers to provide to sophisticated ad planners/media buyers.

Whatever the economics of the agreed-upon Yahoo-Gannett deal, you can bet the numbers are a boatload better than if Yahoo had to put their own feet on the street to cater to local businesses.  I recall my experience at AOL over a decade ago when their local sales force was integrated, separated, and re-integrated with the national sales team every 6 months or so. It was a complete mess.

Local businesses are by definition “people people” based on who their customers are.  And in my experience, newspaper salespeople are also great relationship builders.  Some might call them old school, old media, or some other uppity term, but the fact is that they know how to engage customers, brush off rejection, and ultimately close deals.

Yahoo! could use every boost it can get these days.  Executed carefully, this partnership should provide one.