June Status Updates – Want to Eat for a Living?

Categories: news — Tags: , , — Posted by: Grant @ June 25, 2008 : 8:59 am

Hey all, I apologize for the long time between the last site update, but we’ve been quite busy over the last few months ramping up the content for chefseattle.com. We decided to update the site in one very large batch, so that the changes can be seen immediately. So to answer your questions – no, we’re not dead and no, we haven’t stopped reviews. There’s over 100 new and fully written reviews waiting to go up, along with scores of pictures. We’ve been eagerly awaiting the push, but the finish line is finally in view.

Of course: User logins! When are they going to be up? Well, we’ve got them in beta testing and we’re happy to report they’re working fairly well. Probably one more month of testing and getting out the last of the features and they will (FINALLY) be good to go. We’re sorry about the delay, but we like it done right and late, rather than the opposite.

Last but not least, some changing of the guard at Coffee.net. Bryan will be leaving us soon to make the world a more energy efficient place, so we will be missing him and his quirky sense of humor. Robin is headed off to grad school for urban planning in Virginia, so we wish her the best of luck designing our new city infrastructure in the years to come.

What this also means is that there will be a job opening at Coffee.net sometime in the future! If you might be interested, ask yourself this:

  • Are you green and socially aware? (Bonus) Charity, voluneering background?
  • Do you have a passion for food? Will you eat anything? (Bonus) Culinary or food service experience?
  • Can you communicate well in writing? (Bonus) Possess editing skills?
  • Do you like working in a small business environment with quirky workers with a sense of humor in a company that at least two years from being profitable? (Ha!)

If so, you might be just the person we’re looking for. Interested parties can send a resume/CV and writing samples to grant (at) coffee (dot) net.

When Contextual Ads Go Bad

Categories: news — Tags: , , , — Posted by: Grant @ June 3, 2008 : 3:46 pm

News article car crash screenshot

Screenshot of a article relating to a car crash during a bike race. Notice the text advertising below the article and you’ll see why contextual advertising can sometimes be bad.

Emerald City Comic Con

Categories: seattle — Tags: , , , , , , , — Posted by: steveg @ May 12, 2008 : 5:03 pm

Emerald City Comic Con

Last Saturday was the Northwest’s biggest pop culture event, the Emerald City Comic Con. Comic and sci-fi fans alike, all gathered for a great opportunity to find some great deals on rare comics as well as meet and get autographs from their favorite artists and television stars. As I took the climb up the escalator, the large adorning banner welcomed us and flashes of my childhood came racing back.

Imperial Stormtroopers keeping the order of the crowd

Then I saw the line forming in front of the door, that made it looked more like an exclusive movie premiere. To make sure the line didn’t get out of control, the Washington State convention center hired the only people to keep these people in line: Imperial Stormtroopers of the501st Legion. For a few moments, it was a bit humorous as it seemed like we were cattle being herded on to the truck. The menacing presence of the troopers were broken up by the distinct piece of paper on their back saying, “Take your picture with the 501st at booth 126.” That was a cool story in itself, but I’ll get to that later.

Emerald City Comic Con advertised a few variant covers exclusive to this specific con, such as the X-Men #497 and Tim Sale’s limited print of the Hulk at Pike Place Market munching on a Dick’s burger. At the onset of the doors opening, everyone rushed to the table with all of the exclusives being sold. Tim Sale’s print was snatched up and sold out within a few minutes. That booth was one of the most contested moments in the con, with people almost elbowing each other just to get to the table before all the rare stuff was gone.

One of the exclusive variants available at the con.

Other artists and writers were also on hand for the con. In the large area known as the artist’s gallery, fans asked for autographs and sketches. Keynote people included artist David Finch (Ultimate X-Men, New Avengers) whose line was exceedingly long. Other media guests such as Julie Benz (Dexter) and Wil Wheaton(Star Trek) had special Q and A sessions where you can ask them anything that your heart desires. Such as “Excuse me, Wil, How does it feel to be the worst character ever in the history of Star Trek:The Next Generation?”

Hey Boba! Smile!

Needless to say, being a big fan of Star Wars (the original, not the prequels) I had to get a pic. I was expecting something really simple, like two guys standing with you and a quick snap of the camera and off you went. Oh no, it was much cooler than that. They had people dressed up as every type of stormtrooper, as well as Boba Fett and Darth Vader. You could create any type of scenario you desired. The guy working the booth, came up to me when it was my time to go and simply asked, “What’s your concept?” Being the big fan boy that I am, I wanted to take on the Dark Lord himself and one of his minions. The end result was this great pic right here.

Steve going toe to toe with Lord Vader

The highlight of the con was the appearance of Jamie Bamber (Apollo of Battlestar Galactica) signing autographs and doing photo ops with fans as well. We were one of the last people to get a photo with him and got him to do a peace sign pose with us. Peace!

Overall, I have to admit, it was pretty fun. If you’re into comics and pop culture, the Emerald City Comic Con is one of the few times a year you can geek-out and in my personal case, reconnect with some of your old childhood memories.

Adjusting Review Formats for Coffee.net

Categories: news,restaurants — Tags: , — Posted by: Grant @ March 24, 2008 : 1:03 am

I never started out as a fan of blogs. To this day, I’m still a late adapter to the field. One of the reasons is that I’ve always wondered how many things can happen in one day that deserve blogging. That’s when I came up with the two posts per day rule. The rule is that if you make two blog posts a day, they had better be meaningful. Otherwise, you’re at risk of writing for the sake of your own ego.

This is my second post today, so it hopefully I abide by my own rules.

I had just finished reading an article on how to write well that made me think about the styles we use on Coffee.net. I’m in charge of coding and business, Steve does the graphics and legal paperwork while Bryan (now part-time) is our science and non-profit expert. You’ll notice I fail to mention writing as any of our core skills.

The fact is that chefseattle.com is a lightweight operation and employs no genuine writers. We’ve been winging it so far in the hopes that we don’t completely make fools out of ourselves. We do however have a part time editor, Jule, who is slowly catching up with our existing articles- let alone restaurant reviews. Restaurant reviews are the core of Coffee.net, so it’s important for us to develop a cohesive scheme that is both informative, entertaining and readable. I’m quite frank when I say that we’ve never quite developed a true game plan for the format of the reviews.

Some of our reviews are in the first person while others are in the third person. Some are summaries while others are detailed experiences. Some are humorous while others are just the facts. Having read more about internet habits, it’s apparent that readers prefer skimming short snippets as opposed to reading long-winded articles. In addition, readers want to be entertained, rather than buried under facts. The claim of short attention span on the internet holds true, for better or for worse.

I also realize that we were trying to go about things the wrong way. We are simply outclassed if we attempt to mimic the format of traditional print, with stylish stories from Providence Cicero of the PI or Frank Bruni of the New York Time. At the same time, we’re not fans of the bite sized reviews that leave so much to be desired. This leaves a format somewhere in the middle, that delivers selectable and digestible bits of information. Finding the right balance of how to deliver that information however, is the million dollar question.

There will certainly be another Coffee.net brainstorming session on how to format our reviews (again). Hopefully we will figure out something that everyone likes. In the meantime, we appreciate your patience and apologize while we try to bring cohesion to our dinner plates.

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