Three Cycling Things

The East Bay Bike Path is rather wonderful. It’s never very far from the water; perhaps its name gives that away, and it is in Rhode Island.

It was a lovely morning to cycle up the path from Barrington to its northern terminus in Providence. A breakfast wrap and coffee at Amy’s Place fortified me for the ride back. It’s about 10 miles in each direction.

The second cycling thing of the day is not so positive. This afternoon, I tried out the Komoot app on my Android phone. Komoot allows you to plan your ride, provides navigation along the way, and… Well, I asked it to help me go to a particular bike shop right on the East Bay Bike Path.

Komoot seemed unaware of the bike path. It wanted me to turn onto a main (by Barrington standards) road. I ignored it, crossed that road, and got onto the path, heading toward the shop. Komoot advised me to U-turn, presumably because it thought I should be heading back to the road.

So I deleted Komoot from my phone as soon as I got home. Perhaps that’s harsh after one ride, but for me, bike ride planning and navigation needs to include bike paths, and especially the East Bay.

The third cycling thing of the day, and the bike shop in question, are one and the same: Your Bike Shop. It’s in Warren, the next town south along the bike path from Barrington. (There is another location in Riverside, which is on the way to Providence.)

I bought a mirror (this one by Mirrcycle, to be specific). They fitted it for me right away, then we discussed bikes and related matters for a few minutes. I’m happy to have Your Bike Shop as my local bike shop.

So it was a good cycling day. Two out of three ain’t bad, as the song goes.

ProjectSlice and Online Shopping

ProjectSlice aims to help you organize your online shopping by analyzing your inbox, as Leena at TechCrunch puts it. I’m on the waitlist for the beta.

I’ve started using the Yahoo mail app, which has found a recent purchase from Amazon and the recentish purchase of an iPad from Apple. I can’t think of anything recent that the Yahoo app has missed. I was surprised that its request for an OpenID was out in the open. I’m pleasantly surprised that it didn’t insist on a Facebook or Twitter id.

Some other purchases go through my ChangingWay email (andrew@). I’ll have to wait for the beta to see how well it integrates mailboxes. It’ll be interesting to see how it handles requests to sign up for ProjectSlice from people who are already using the Yahoo app. Seamlessly, I hope, but we’ll see.

ProjectSlice has received quite a lot of coverage already (e.g., GigaOm, RWW). That’s not surprising, given that those who blog about tech are likely to do a lot of their shopping online. The $9M in funding probably doesn’t hurt, either.

Fundraise While You Shop: eScrip, etc.

I’m setting up a website for the PTA of my daughter’s school here in Silver Spring, Maryland. The current post is You can help the PTA by shopping! The PTA treasurer made me aware of three retail chains that will contribute money to the school in proportion to purchases. There is of course some setup to be done, both by the PTA/school and by the supporter/purchaser.

For two of the chains – Giant and Target – supporter setup means linking your store card with the school. I already had a Giant card, and it was very easy. I don’t have a Target card, and wonder why I can’t apply for the type of card I want online – but that’s another story.

This post is more about the third chain – Safeway – or rather, about the way in which shopping at Safeway can result in the chain contributing to the school. It involves a firm called eScrip, of which I’d never previously heard. I became curious about eScript as a fundraising program, and about eScrip as an organization.

As a fundraising program, it stands out from the other two (i.e. Giant and Target) in a couple of ways. First, you deal with eScrip, rather than dealing directly with the store. Those who run their own websites and use commission programs might be reminded of the difference between using Commission Junction and doing affiliate setup at the merchant’s site.

Second, eScrip allows you, not only to register store cards, but also credit cards (and other cards too, but I’ll focus here on credit cards). You can register a credit card with eScrip. If you buy from a merchant that’s signed up from its end, your use of that credit card with that merchant will automagically result in that merchant donating to the school you told eScrip about. eScrip asking for my credit card made me ask about eScrip.

eScrip is a private company. I think that it’s a for-profit. doesn’t provide a lof of information about the company itself. But it does have an FAQ including questions such as: who is ESI (Electronic Scrip Inc.), how do I know it’s legit, and who founded the company. links to a Better Business Bureau page, on which eScrip has an A+ rating. Googling does show up many fundraising organizations using eScrip.

I think that ESI is legitimate. I should probably provide my credit card number so that the school benefits when I use my credit card at Amazon and other participating merchants.

Interesting organization, this ESI/eScrip. Interesting stuff, this fundraising. But that’s just what I think. What do you think?

Celebrating the Local

Belated BirthdayWest Roxbury is local to us, although we actually live in Roslindale. Maddie takes classes at the Center for Asian Martial Arts in West Roxbury (it moved from Roslindale at the start of this year). She had her 5th birthday party at the center on Saturday. It went very well, mainly thanks to the instructors who made the party fun for the crowd of kids (mostly girls of 5 or 6).

Another local business that contributed to the success of the party is the Sugar Bakery. They did the usual excellent job with the cake.

Sunday saw my first visit to Seek Books (previously). I liked this recently-opened second-hand science fiction bookstore very much. It packs a lot of inventory into a smallish store, managing to be cozy rather than cramped. I bought an as-new paperback of Sabriel for $4.

Then it was off to Macy’s to pick up some wine. There were a couple of wines out for tasting. I particularly liked the “El Miracle,” a blend of Tempranillo and Shiraz.

We visited a bunch of other local businesses over the weekend, but as far as the specifics go, I’ll leave it at wine, cake, books, and martial arts.

Battered Box

As I suspected, I’ve started to actually use the video feature of the digital camera since Flickr started allowing short video clips, as well as photos. Here’s a fascinating clip of me approaching a box that recently arrived rather worse for wear. It was shipped by Electronica Direct via the US Postal Service.

Did the contents survive the journey? What were they anyway? All will be revealed right here at this blog in a day or two.

Sazze: Like Yelp For Products

While Yelp is an online place to read and write reviews of businesses in your city, Sazze is an online place to read and write reviews of products. It moved from closed to public beta yesterday.

As Mashable Paul just noted, there are many product review sites on the web already. Sazze sets out to be “more of a social, well-networked atmosphere for its users than the average consumer is likely to encounter through many existing services.”

Sazze has an obvious bootstrap problem, in that the quantity and quality of reviews need to be established in order to bring shoppers to the site. There are already many products there, but there seem to be almost as many opportunities to be the first reviewer of a particular product.

I took the opportunity to write the first review of the SanDisk Sansa Clip (1 GB) MP3 Player. I liked the ability, the encouragement even, to link from the review to a URI outside the Sazze site. That said, once the review is published, the relationship between the on-site review and the off-site page to which it links isn’t clear.

Sazze has a “blog” that seems to lack two of the essential features of a blog: a permalink for each post, and a feed.

I think it’s unlikely that Sazze will manage the difficult task of boostrapping within a crowded market segment. Being like Yelp is all very well, but Sazze doesn’t have Yelp’s local angle, and so it’s unlikely to develop Yelp’s local sub-networks of members.

Sazze might be hoping that sub-networks will form around product categories. However, most product categories already have their own specialized sites and activity at existing super-sites. For example, last night I did some research on headphones to go with my Sansa MP3 player. I found plenty of reviews at Head-Fi and at Amazon.