Announcing the official Notches Blog


Notches is gearing up for launch. Today we are announcing the official Notches Blog.

Note, this is different from our Annoucements feed, which is for only necessary updates. We hope to offer some interesting content & analysis on the Notches blog; expect to see posts from Tim, Rajiv and myself on topics ranging from web 2.0 to the trials and tribulations of being a New York tech startup.

Blog home & the RSS feed.


BBC does Kitchen Nightmares better

ramsey's kitchen nightmares

We’ve been watching Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares on BBC-America for a couple of years now. It is one of my favorite TV shows.

Gordon Ramsey spends a week in an ailing restaurant and attempts to turn them around from empty dining rooms, terrible (usually overly complex) food, colossal financial disasters (most people on the show are between $250k-$500k in debt) to successful establishments.

I had extreme mixed feelings when I found out that it was coming to FOX. I watched the pilot episode last night and my fears were justified, but I’m still hopeful the show will work. I’m sure they picked an extreme example to be the pilot to grab some attention and it shows. Most of the show was centered around the restaurant’s namesake half-owner who threw these maniac/roid-rage temper tantrums and not Gordon’s advice. I’m going to keep watching, hopefully they don’t ruin it. I was equally worried when they took the Office to NBC, but that worked out okay.

Random notes:

  • They felt the need for Gordon to buy them an entirely new kitchen a’la Extreme Makeover: Home. He never bought anybody anything in Britain, he made one guy sell his M3 to buy new equipment once even.
  • I hated Hell’s Kitchen, the other Ramsey-in-America show.
  • Moral of the story: If a restaurant is empty, don’t eat there. Your worst fears about the quality of preparation are probably true.
  • I’ve learned more management skills from Ramsey on this show than in any college class or book.

Chromatic Aberration


Have you noticed your digital pictures sometimes have an unwanted red or cyan outline?

DP review has a nice detailed description of the problem here: Chromatic Aberration by Vincent Bockaert. It has to do with the way digital sensors work and the angles of light involved.

Since I’m a semi-semi-professional digital retoucher, I can tell you how to fix it.

In Photoshop, you could select the area in question, go to Hue/Saturation, select “reds” and reduce the saturation. But in an image like this one* you can’t just select a big chunk because the flesh tones have red in them, you’d have to do a surgical select of just the problem section.

(CS3’s new selection tool rocks btw)


Fortunately there’s a program that has a built-in feature for just this problem; it is called Picture Window Pro. It costs $90 and there’s a 30 day trial. I don’t use it for anything other than this one feature and it looks like it was written in 1987…Ā 

Bonus link: Film is digital and digital is analog with unnecessary swearing including.

*Bet you can’t guess who’s eye that is šŸ™‚



wesabeSince, oh, about 1995 or so I’ve attempted to use MS Money and/or Quicken exactly once a year. Whenever a new version would come out, I’d sign up for the 30 day trial and give it a go. I’d go back six months and catalog everything I spent and earned, glanced at some pretty charts and graphs, and that was about it until the next year.

I’m hopeful that it will stick with this new approach. I’ve started using Wesabe, whichĀ is a web 2.0 revisionĀ of Quicken/Money.

The major problem with Quicken/Money is that the various banks of the world are assholes digitally difficult to work with. All the various attempts at creating standard for transferring information have basically stalled and they realized they’d rather have traffic on their own sites to cross-sell more credit cards and second mortgages and actively shut out integration in many cases. Add onto that, the security measures involving picto-passwords, countless questions about pets and grandparents and the state of cross-site banking is pathetic.

Wesabe’s solution has been to build (among other tools) a FireFox plugin which depending on the bank, either takes a username/password or actually lets you script the entire process of logging in and downloading a statement. You can set it to run automatically as long as FireFox is open. They’ve clearly made this process their priority and rightly so.

Unfortunately some of the “basics” that Quicken/Money have had since the 90s are missing. Where are my graphs and charts?Ā Tags are the only categorizationĀ method today and while there advantages for this style, it falls apart in other critical ways. Another problem common to tag systems is the need for intelligent systems to enforce obvious things like “restaurant” = “restaurants”. It looks like even things like capitalization separates tags which causes problems, although to their credit, there is a manual merge tag function. They do take advantage of the fact that we’re all putting our data up on the web and if I purchase something from a common vendor like Whole Foods, it will pre-suggest tags like groceries and food.

Overall, I’m excited by the site and can’t wait to see the improvements roll-in.

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