About Ken Walsh

Ken Walsh is an Associate Professor of Information Systems at University of New Orleans. His latest book project is Dockside.

Lindsey Tweets: Twitter Insight for Dockside Book

I had the pleasure today of having coffee with a Twitter confidant of mine, Lindsey Hamlin. She really helped me focused on thinking of twitter as a set of conversations and looking at joining them based on your interests. For the past few months I have spent a lot more time in Facebook than twitter. We both agreed that more of the twitter conversations seem to follow professional interests over friend relationships in Facebook, so this may be a good place to connect with other interested in crowdfunding. My previous experience with Twitter had been more in the followers listening to experts’ mode, which works too. I like following Yoast tweets because I use their SEO plugin for WordPress and sometimes I get an idea I can run with. However, conversations give you a two way street to learn more about your field from the leading names as well as comment on where your niche may be or a new direction you are developing in the field.

If you have found someone interesting to follow, check out who they follow. Lindsey suggested I follow Karim R. Lakhani, @klakhani, because of my interest in crowdsourcing. He claims to be an expert social janitor. Hmm… have to figure out what that is, but sounds related to crowdsourcing. As of this writing, he is following 1129. Let’s see who looks interesting among them. There are a couple links to the Nest thermostat people. I love their thermostat, but that’s not what I’m looking for now. Many of his followers have no description. Note to self, fill out the about me blurb in twitter in case anyone is reading about you in a list of followers or following (followingers?). I found he was following a number of people that captured different things I might be interested, but today I wanted to stay on target with crowdfunding or at least related social networking. I found Pinar Yildirim ‏ (@Pinar_Wharton) who is a Marekting professor at Wharton who studies “New Media, Advertising, Networks, Online Platforms.” I’ll follow her. Chris Sacca ‏ @sacca invests in twitter and Kickstarte. Off the subject, but I will follow him case we crowdfund the printing of Dockside. Mike Morris ‏ @mpmorris36 says he using the crowd to move people to the cloud. Can’t pass that up. Anyway you get the idea, but it take a little snooping. I’ll probably look who Pinar likes next.

Lindsey  also discussed the art of composing your tweet. Of course you only have the 140 characters, but you need to fit your hashtag and URL in there as well as an engaging comment. Bitly is a URL shortening service that can reduce the size of the URL you want to share with people and leave you with more room for your message. Bitly is good because you can use it with any service. Twitter has updated to its own service that adjusts all included URLs. If you put the bitly URL in Twitter, it still comes out as the twitter 22 character standard.

As a comparison though, I put http://tropnetworking.com/ in bitly and it shortened it to http://bit.ly/1a5eap2. 26 charaters to 21 or a 19.2% reduction. Of course if you put in a perma link to a blog page you get a better reduction ratio. When I put in the link to my blog post on burger tasting at Dockside (http://tropnetworking.com/dockside-book/2013/11/03/burgers-beach-bob-coldies/) I got http://bit.ly/17uEt9q. 77 characters 21 or a 72.7% reduction. So I decided to give Google URL shortner a fair try. They reduced my site to http://goo.gl/7RDz8P. 20 characters, 1 character better or a 74.0% reduction from the original.

Anyway, those of some of thoughts for the day on Twitter. These will make up some first draft ideas that I will add to the Twitter section of the Dockside book. Soon to be in hardcover, paperback, and eBook. But lets not define soon quite yet.

Burgers, Beach, Bob, and Coldies!

Eric, Kim, and the Dockside Staff Serve Up The Amazing Taste of Mash Ups.

By late morning on that sunny Sunday morning, it was approaching a nice 85 degrees outside, and the kitchen staff was back at Eric and Kim’s apartment making the experimental cheeseburger in paradise recipes. They were going to test some spice mixes, mash a few of the mash up burger recipes, and cook them all up on the beach later. Hopefully Eric would bring an acoustic later to, but for now, recipes had to be created.

RawBurger100EricServing150Burger135

The latest menu I saw has five of the carnivorous delights including, including one big enough to please Bitchin himself and four of the Dock’s soon to be signature mash up’s. Note this among many other delicacies, but today would be the day of the burger. I don’t know if there will be changes, but this is the latest list:

  • Bob Bitchin’s Big Bad Beach Burger
  • Mash Up’s
    • Bacon Blue
    • South of the Border
    • Hawaiin
    • Greek

First the staff began working with Eric to get the right spice mix that would be mixed in with the ground beef. Scott and Yolanda were giving their opinions on how much of each spice, salt, pepper, garlic, and others to add to the mash up’s.

The mash up concept, a la Dockside, is to mix amazing tasty ingredients into the ground beef, so delicious flavor comes through in every bite, more so than a traditional “topped” burger. But to add to that flavor, each mash up would be topped with its own custom slaw that would complement the flavor of the burger. Since the bacon, blue recipe was pretty much in the can, today would focus on the other three.

First up were the Greek burgers, loaded with feta, infused with Greek sauce. The Greek of course had its own unique slaw designed to drive the Greek flavor up a notch. The staff pattied these up into trays of eight, each demonstrating their skills at efficiently shaping a burger at the target half pound weight. They also discussed what the real world prep routine might be to have fresh burgers shaped without delay for customers.

Next up was thee Hawaiian burger to be served with Hawaiian slaw. The cooks are debating about how much ham vs. teriyaki belongs in this one. There are a lot of critical issues still to be worked out on the Hawaiian. For example, should the pineapple be chopped and mashed in, or included in the slaw, or even sliced as a topper. I think Scott suggested staying away from the slice so all the burgers would exemplify the mash up concept. Still, that does not rule out pineapple in the slaw. I bet any combination will be great.

Finally the south of the border, or will it be called the jalpeno ranch, is bound to be a favorite for the mainstream beef, cheese, and flavor burger monster. I missed if it was two or three kinds of cheese, spice, and jalapenos in the mash. And of course its own jalapeno ranch slaw. This slaw is expected to come into play in other dishes as well including the fish tacos and as the house slaw as a side dish on other entrees, but that was not our focus that day.

The staff mentioned that if there are four different slaws for different burgers, they will need separate contains in the fridge, which may need to be expanded. Eric wondered if he could add fridge to the kitchen area.

I forget where it was supposed to go, but Swiss cheese was not available. Kim would grab some for the beach later.

The burgers were stacked in layers of wax paper and looked a thing of beauty.

Kim is tossing up the goat salad, commenting “I could each goat cheese with everything.” It includes baby greens, red pepper, pecans, cranberries, and of course goat cheese. Then it is drizzled with a little extra virgin olive oil. Kim says it is best served that with just the olive oil, but anybody should be able to order it with any of the dressings.

As they packed up the goodies, the staff asked about the dress code. The staff shirts are in tie died tee shirts. Joe asked about Jeans and Kim said they plan to avoid jeans. The shirts come in unisex or tank top.

The beach! Yes, the new burger recipes were then to be brought down to the beach for cooking and tasting. It will hard for them to not be great cooked that way. On the way to the beach we stopped in at the Dock. Brian and Packo were painting up a storm. They painted the speaker doors and the kitchen. They both had plenty of work to keep them busy until opening. I’m not sure they realized how much painting could be involved in bar tending, but that’s part of the start up process. They both were covered in the paint and sweat of the day, but they had made good progress. The speaker doors would slide into the front of the speaker cabinets to protect the speakers and beautifully decorated speaker grills when the dock is closed. Eric told them to get cleaned up, pick up some beer, and meets us at the beach! Before we left the Dock, Eric showed me the end of the bar which he had stained for the third time. This was finally the right color. He was originally going for a light look. The entire motif is pretty light from the very light lavender walls to the lightly tanned bamboo. But light didn’t really work for the bar top. It needed to be a little darker stain to contrast against all the light.

Sombrero beach, just down the end of Sombrero Beach Boulevard, is a great little beach for locals and tourists both. Probably less than two miles from Dockside, with nice soft white sand beaches and lined with palms, this makes a great place for beach party, kids and adults alike. Bring charcoal! Charcoal grills beside pavilions and pick nick tables line the park along the beach. Scott, one of the soon to be Dockside chefs was put in charge of changing the raw parties into grilled things beauty. He seared the outside and cooked them to medium. He can tell if they are cooked to medium just by the way they feel when he taps them on the grill. Each one came our perfect. Eric loaded each with the appropriate slaw and cut them in fourths so we would all be able to taste each flavor. I think we had about 15 of the staff and a few fans.

Yolanda made a beautiful cold conch salad. Yummy onions and tomatoes with tender conch. Nice! I hope that gets on the menu. Kim bought kettle chips. They were just the packaged ones for now. Dockside plans to make homemade kettle chip when open. That will be one of the side choices with your gourmet cheeseburger of choice. I’m getting really hungry writing this the next day, but I need to diet to make up for yesterday’s calories.

The first burger to come off the grill was the southwestern. With cheese, jalapenos and ranch dressing, the burger grilled up to a creamy flavorful sensation. The jalapenos were just right, not overpowering, but with a nice zest. You don’t have to be a hot and spicy freak to enjoy this one. The concept a special slaw on the top of each burger was great. It kept the rich and juicy texture going. After the Southwestern I had a coldie and jumped in the ocean to cleanse my palate and mind, well really wasn’t much going through my mind at that point.

Burger270

Next off the grill was the Hawaiian. This is a burger ham, pineapple, and teriyaki sauce along with its own custom slaw. These burgers probably feel honored being topped with a slaw made just for them. The Hawaiian burger were still in the experimental stage with different ways of doing the ham. Would it be cut small and mixed in the ground beef or sliced on top. For that matter the way to add pineapple was being considered. It could be included in the slaw, included in the ground meat, or sliced and grilled as a topping. In the interest of science, I tried a couple varieties. They were both winners so I have no doubt the winning recipe will rock.

If pressed, I might have to say the Southwestern was my favorite, but the most surprisingly awesome was the Greek. Man this was infused with Greekness. Almost tasting like a gyro or something, but it only has beef in it for meet. By the way, how do you pronounce gyro? There seems to be a lot of pronunciations out there and I can never decide which to use. The infused sauce make every bite tastse like a Greek sensation. Here is where the infused ground beefs of Dockside set them apart from place that only vary their burger by the toppings. This process takes a little more care in the kitchen because the prep the five different infused beefs and four different slaws to be ready to cook up the one you want. I guess it is bar food, but more like gourmet bar food. With a gourmet view. Nice!

OK almost forgot. The kettle chips we sampled (not ye the really ones as I mentioned) we dipped in an amazing fish dip. Dip and chips with your 33 degree draft would work fine too. I believe the dip will be supplied by an outside supplier rather than being made in house because it is that good just the way they make and they are a local key company so it is still in the family. As of this writing I won’t say who because I don’t know if they have made a final decision on that.

As we were all slowing our pace with bellies full of burgers and beer, Eric took out an acoustic and introduced the group to the new house drummer, John Otis. John pulled out snare drum and some stick and accompanied Eric on an impromptu “Rock the Dock” and ear to ear smile were seen around the pic nick table. John and Eric had not had much of a chance to practice together so they just kind of jammed through some of the classics they both new and some of Eric’s that John had gotten down from the recordings. All in all, they a great rapport for just playing together for such a short time. John could just come in pretty much wherever Eric started up and fill in with some nice impromptu percussions.

EricPlaying200Drummer250

This was not your every day office cook out thing. The beautiful beach scene, gourmet burgers, and the cool chance to see Eric relaxed just having fun improvising a set with his acoustic. You could see that the staff was really into the vision of Dockside and would bring that afternoon laid back party vibe to the Dock.

Later we chilled back at the house, Eric and Kim were a little glad they made it through the day, but it was a day to remember. Just like many have been. We sipped a little rum and hit the hay to get ready for another manic Monday that promised to rise a little earlier than we wanted.

Grass400

Which Blog Platform is Best? TropNetworking Blog SmackDown Concludes

Excerpt from forthcoming book, Putting Community First in Social Networking Technology: A Tropical Music and Food Dream Becomes Reality, The Eric and Kim Stone Story (copyright 2014, all rights reserved, working title). The book focuses on what made for a successful crowdfunding effort to raise working capital for Dockside Tropical Café. Part of the success was the orchestrated use of social media which is review in the book. This excerpt summarize our conclusions of choosing a blog platform.

The TropNetworking BlogSmackdown compared 7 blog platforms including Blogger, FourSquare, Movable Type, Posthaven, Type Pad, WordPress.com, and WordPress.org. The best blog platform depends on how you plan to use the blog, but the huge market share and vital development community around WordPress are going to make those options a top choice for many. Both of those platforms also support standard web pages and make a good platform for your web page as well, making it easy to integrate the two. Interestingly, custom blogs were the second most popular alternative in the Pingdom study. Custom blogs can be good for larger companies or high tech companies with the skills to set up the databases and the link to the page, but take more work than most companies would want to do. The added work can, however, make a blog that is well integrated with other systems in the organization.

The difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org is that WordPress.com is a site where people can just sign up for the blogging service and get started whereas WordPress.org is open source software which would be installed on the user’s web server. Of the people interested in WordPress, probably most would be well served by WordPress.com which simply requires setting up a free account to start. Many would likely opt for a paid account which allows for a custom domain name and added space. This option gives you the software with a huge selection of templates for the look and feel, a large user community, lots of how to books, and plenty of web information to give you tips and tricks all slightly easier to use than WordPress.org.

We will be more adventures for the book and go with the slightly more complicated WordPress.org software module hosted on our GoDaddy web site. This method is still not difficult because GoDaddy, like many web host providers, has a menu option that says “Install WordPress” and allows you to specify a folder on your web site for the WordPress software. The advantage to this approach is that all of the WordPress files are copied into your folder and can then be modified allowing for more customization and the ability to include third party plugins. For example, financial eCommerce is supported through plugins. As of September 25, 2013, our GoDaddy account costs $4.49/ month with unlimited websites, bandwidth, and disk space and no extra charge for WordPress.

An honorable mention goes to FourSquare that offers simplicity with integration of blog, web support, email list support, and the financial side of ecommerce. To over simply a bit, their rates are $8/ month for blogging, $16/ month blogging and email management, and $24/ month for blogging, email, and financial eCommerce. FourSquare excelled at easy of use and for simple integration of its tools. In this world of almost free online tools, it’s priced slightly higher, than others, but may be worth it for the reduced headaches. It is intended for the users that do not want to be a web programmers and offers flexible editing without all out site design. If you plan on doing your own logistics for sales, but want simple integrated payment systems, and if an easy integrated site sounds good, FourSquare may be for you.

From our point of view, honorable mention goes to Posthaven for their straight forward and unusual pledge to host your blogs forever. Their mission to create a blog that lasts forever comes out of their frustration when Twitter purchase the Posterious blog site the founders helped create and then proceeded to shut it down. Also, their clean design was liked best by many of our viewers during the Blog SmackDown. Although the site did not have extensive templates, the basic functional design was appreciated. Since many of the features are not ready and we need to get blogging this Fall (2013), we will still stick with the WordPress direction for the book. Depending on when you read this, you may want to check out their site and see what has become of a neat idea. Tweet us if we should take another look.

Google’s Blogger deserves a mention. Started in 1999 and associated with Google since 2002, it remains a reliable choice. The service is free and easy. Possibly a good choice if you have a solid web strategy and want to add a blog.

The runners up were Movable Type and Type Pad. Still solid choices with a track record of good customer service.

Note that the book contains more the details of the analysis that went into these recommendations.

TropNetworking Blog SmackDown

The Tropnetworking Blog Smackdown was designed to help new bloggers decide which blog best fits their needs. The same blog posts were set up on competing sites to see how hard they were to use and what they would look like. You are encouraged to comment at any or all of the sites.

Visit Blog SmackDown sites to comment and compare: