Sep 082010

Someday (soon) we’re going to do the leg work required to get our chocolate store online.  I’m not talking about ordinary chocolates that you can buy at the supermarket, or even at the local mall.  I’m talking about craft made, small batch, bean to bar, single origin dark chocolate…65-70% cacao and up.  Yeah…Theobroma Cacao, “food of the gods”, the “super food” everyone is talking about.

Just like the California wine industry in the 60′s and 70′s, and the craft beer industry in the 90′s and beyond, there is a movement around the world to discover and develop single origin chocolate sources.  Chocolate makers are developing relationships with growers in tropical regions around the world, and are producing chocolate bars with unique regional flavors, similar to the way terroir affects wine.

The trouble is, there is really no convenient way to find and experience these unique chocolates.  You can find a few at your local Whole Food Market, or maybe a specialty shop like Spec’s (if you’re in Texas).  But, the selection is limited and still leans toward the diluted milk chocolates made by Hershey, Cadbury, and Ghirardelli.  Each of the makers has a web site, and most have e-commerce capabilities.  So, if you know who they are (I’ll publish a list in a later post),  you can order directly from the manufacturer.

Not the easiest way to get your chocolate fix.

ChokAlot.com will be an online chocolate store that provides a wide selection of craft made chocolate bars, along with reviews, tasting notes, discussion, and a bar-of-the-week/month subscription service….maybe even a chocolate tasters club, similar to a book club, where bar-of-the-week/month subscribers can experience tasting new offerings together.

For the time being, and for fun, I’ve put up a placeholder site at ChokAlot.com

This simple single page site has a lot going on technically.  It’s implemented completely in CSS and Javascript, so it runs in the browser with no server-side support.  Through a little bit of z-index trickery, DOM manipulation, and Javascript magic, the page background is turned into a slide show that fills the browser window no matter what size it is.  Try resizing your browser while the slide show is in progress.  The scaling is done in realtime, as you resize the browser.  There’s a Shockwave-based audio player embedded as well. Anyway, it was fun to implement, and I think its fun watch and listen to ChokAlot.com


Delivering Happiness CoverTony Hseih, CEO of Zappos, gives us a glimpse into what has made Zappos so successful.  This is a light, easy, enjoyable read in which Tony takes us through his life journey from childhood, through college, his first company (Link Exchange), and then through the growth of Zappos from no revenue to over $1B in annual sales in just 10 years.  Key insights develop that collectively contribute the company’s success: don’t outsource critical functions (fulfillment), remove barriers wherever they are identified (free shipping, 12 month return policy, efficient delivery), WOW your customers, suppliers and partners, respect and empower people, take care of your staff…deliver happiness.

I don’t think it matters who your customers are, this is great advice.

Sep 032010

Linchpin CoverSeth Godin asks…”Are you indispensable?”  Well, personally, I don’t think anyone is truly indispensable.  Really.  I think most people can be replaced fairly easily.  And, I suppose Seth would agree that most people could be.  And, that is kind of his point.  You don’t want to be most people.  You can’t afford to be like most people…not these days.

Besides, we’re not like most people anyway, you and me.  We just need to figure out what we’re passionate about and get after it.  He talks a lot about being passionate, and making “art”, and giving “gifts”.  But, the key points are these…We all have unique talents.  We all have the ability within us to leverage those talents to do great things.  We just have to allow ourselves, even require ourselves, to stop holding back.

Do this “emotional labor” because you want to…invest yourself, as a gift…and allow yourself to become a linchpin.

By the way…this is probably the most stressful book I’ve ever read.  It’s like a coach-in-a-box, the way Godin literally yells at the reader from the pages.  It’s all positive prodding, of course.  He’s done a great job of identifying the reasons we’re not doing this or that and calls us out.


Syabas has released the PopBox for purchase through Amazon.  On the surface, this looks like serious competition for the Boxee Box, the joint project between Boxee and D-Link.  On the other hand, not having Netflix support out of the gate may be a problem.


Here’s a link to the PopBox site.


Okay…I’m a little late  getting this up, but I’ve been a little busy the past few days.

The Boxee team has posted a video on Vimeo showing off a D-Link Boxee Box from the first factory production run.  I’m not going to bore you here by repeating what you can hear in the video or read on D-Link’s site.  Suffice it to say, Roku is going to lose big of they don’t figure out how to run Boxee on their box.  If I can stream Netflix movies and access all the other content available through Boxee, it’s worth spending the extra $80 – $100 for the D-Link device.