A Recipe for Disaster

Have any of you seen an episode of The Simpsons where Lisa becomes a vegetarian? If you haven’t, too bad, because it has a lot to do with my first paid review on this blog.

Lisa: They can’t seriously expect us to swallow that tripe.
Skinner: Now as a special treat courtesy of our friends at the Meat Council, please help yourself to this tripe. [Class cheers and runs to table loaded with tripe.]
Lisa: Stop it Stop IT! Don’t you realize you’ve just been brainwashed by corporate propaganda?
Janie: Hmmph, apparently my crazy friend here hasn’t heard of the food chain.
Uter: Yeah, Lisa’s a grade A moron!
Ralph: When I grow up, I’m going to go to Bovine University.

Joel Spolsky has his underpants in a bunch because spoiled grade A… I mean, A-list bloggers are currently being showered with fancy laptops, all expenses paid trips and other goodies by PR agencies. Next thing we’ll see is the Webbys attendees start getting Emmys-like gift baskets. It’s a widely known fact in the entertainment industry: if you want the A-listers to attend your crappy awards show, you better give them some stuff that they can buy with their pocket money.

Since I am not an A-list blogger, nobody is trying to bribe me with a drool-inducing HDTV TIVO or a shiny new laptop, so if I want to shed some of my credibility, I’ll have to do some work. I decided to try out the very controversial http://www.reviewme.com.

The deal is simple: an advertiser asks me to write a review on my blog, and if I do, I get some money. I do have pretty good pagerank and a decent amount of readers (aka blog juice), so after a month or so of waiting, I got my first paying reviewee, chefs.com. They want me to review their recipes. Fine. Off to http://www.chefs.com/recipes/default.aspx I go. I do like to cook, and I do use recipe sites all the time.

The last time I searched for a recipe I was looking to do curry. See, I purchased this really awesome Maharajah Style Curry Powder from PENZEYS Spices. It’s pricey, but unlike curry powder that you might find in a supermarket, it’s made out of the best and freshest ingredients with a pound of Kashmir saffron for every 50lb of curry.

So I type in “curry” into chefs.com and sort by cook time (a seemingly useful feature). What do I get? 133 results overall, which is not stellar, but a number of curry recipes that take 0 minutes to prep and 0 minutes to cook. A boon to a busy web developer and blogger like myself. Just to think that I was using Joe Grossberg’s How to Make a Simple Curry “Anything” that takes whole 15 minutes!

Ok, so the supefast curry recipe turned out to be just a case of bad data, a lazy developer and a company (it could be that it consists of that one lazy developer) that does not use it’s own product(or does not care about it).

Moving on. Some time ago I had to look up a recipe for another exotic delicacy, Ä°ÅŸkembe çorbası. It’s a Turkish soup made of tripe. I have it regularly at a Turkish restaurant near my house, and it’s extremely delicious. Tripe can be very tasty when prepared right.

So I type in “tripe” into chefs.com. Here’s what I get:

To my disappointment, the first result, “Lighter Fresh Applesauce in Puff Pastry” does not contain any tripe. Neither do the rest of them.

From what I know, recipes are not really copyrightable. Because of that, it’s possible to get a couple of cds with recipes from somewhere or just scrape the web and start your own site. For instance, the recipe for “Lighter Fresh Applesauce in Puff Pastry” shows up on different websites with the same phrasing down to “Bake puff pastry shells according to package directions.” One of the sites even has nutritional info, but also omits the source of the recipe.

To conclude my review, chefs.com has reviews available elsewhere with one of the buggiest search interfaces I’ve ever seen. The owner of the site probably used some Bovine U-trained developers, and not that the site is generating pretty good revenue, is looking for a way to improve the search engine positioning. He or she has no clue about web development and marketing. I could provide that clue, but it’ll take a bit more than the $50 I should get for this review.

TT: Thought Tally #1

Ok, just now I came up with a name for the “slashback” type posts in my journal. They will be called “Thought Tally” or “TT”. The other type of “named” post that I have is “What Michael Learned” or “WML”.

Just now I looked up the word “tally” in a dictionary and learned the following about the word’s origin:
… Originally, a piece of wood on which notches or scores were cut, as the marks of number; later, one of two books, sheets of paper, etc., on which corresponding accounts were kept.

Note: In purchasing and selling, it was once customary for traders to have two sticks, or one stick cleft into two parts, and to mark with a score or notch, on each, the number or quantity of goods delivered, — the seller keeping one stick, and the purchaser the other. Before the use of writing, this, or something like it, was the only method of keeping accounts; and tallies were received as evidence in courts of justice. … “

Pretty cool, huh? Of course I got the idea from listening to that Survivor CD that I like so much.

You see, many bloggers put way too many posts with small tidbits of information, single thoughts. I find it hard to read for exactly that reason. These would go great in an aggregated post, like in ‘s journal.

So, here goes.

* Had a dream about winning an Emmy award for something (must have been for blogging, har). Even though Emmys are a dime a dozen, this one was supposed to be from the last batch to be given out. Somebody stole it from me later in the dream.

* Last evening was trying to find a good archival scrapbook album to buy. Bought some deacidification spray. The damn thing is expensive. I wonder what’s the main ingredient. Unobtanium? Tears of virgins (the non-geek variety)?

* Need to start shopping around for new computer and monitor for my wife. God, how many different types of ram are there? Oh, and it’s so difficult to find a good motherboard review that doesn’t cater to stupid overclockers. I don’t want marginal speed improvement. I want stability, dammit.

* Ordered a fat caliper.

* Need a good .NET hosting solution. And a good .NET based Wiki. Maybe I’ll write my own though. Thinking about making a canonical list of Microsoft project code names in a Wiki.

* Another thought – I’ll probably undertake a small project of making an app that will tell the train car model from a serial number in NYC subway. Could be a cool Pocket PC app (but I don’t own one). Could do it in Tablet PC in order to learn something, but it’s not very practical. On the other hand it’ll make an awesome web app on the manner of Where George. Yeah, that’s probably what I’ll do.

* Stay tuned for a monumental rant about innovation. And I am still planning that post about eBooks. Yeah.