Aug 022008

Why Saturday Surprises? I find more stuff than I can blog about. And, it’s sorta my version of Contextless Links [ was 1st early adopter I know of], Friday Link List, Random Links, Links List, Mixed Links: Good Stuff for Nonprofit Marketers…. other places I share my finds: my public Google Notebooks,, Digital @ Leadership Network

Jul 192008

Bible App for iPhone powered by YouVersion, free at that; even if I don’t have an iPhone (yet?), it’s still very nice

Tired is the new Fine. I’m noticing that answers to “How are you?” is switching from “Fine.” to “Tired.” Haven’t you? In DETAILS magazine — Being Tired Is Not a Status Symbol — “Some people think telling everyone how exhausted they are makes them seem important. But flaunting your fatigue only makes you insufferable… Stop complaining–No one cares how tired you are.” [ cf. So Tired: Where Web surfers go when they haven't slept a wink; EDGE's Jeanne Harnois notes, "Caffeine, the new status symbol"; contrasts with ]

Pastors in rural area churches, or “in the sticks”, there’s a conference for you in Loudonville, Ohio — aptly called “the sticks” conference, November 11-12, 2008. [ht: LeadingSmart] cf. conference blog has latest updates and a Free Gas giveaway.empty gas guage

Kinko‘s is fading away. Several months ago in car with wifey, behind a FedExKinko’s truck, I commented to her that the Kinko’s font is so thin compared to the FedEx font, I think Kinko’s is going to fade away and disappear. Lo and behold, it’s now official. I saw it coming, er, going.

Jason Calacanis retires from blogging and holds a mock press conference to answer questions. He’s only been at it for 5 years; I’ve been blogging since 1999. But then again, I didn’t have to deal with the pressures of being an A-List blogger.

Starbucks is closing 600 of its stores all over the United States, and here’s a list of 7 in Orange County that I have been to and/or have co-worked at:

  • valley view & firestone 16610 valley view ave la mirada ca
  • pch & boat canyon 636 n pacific coast hwy laguna beach ca
  • lake forest & muirlands 22621 lake forest dr lake forest ca
  • marguerite & college dr 28171 marguerite pkwy mission viejo ca
  • trabuco hills 27775 santa margarita pkwy mission viejo ca
  • newport & el camino real 14001 newport ave tustin ca
  • newport & main 13681 newport ave tustin ca

See the complete list of Starbucks stores closing before June 2009. [ht: savvywallet] 3 other OC Starbucks are closing too.

Jul 152008

Rumor has it that 2 brand new goodies are being released this week at Starbucks: the Vivianno and the Sorbetto.

Thrilled about the news! 1 of my Starbucks ideas is coming true: delicious soft serve ice cream and/or frozen yogurt!

From USA Today’s Starbucks brings new fruit smoothie to the table ::

On Tuesday, Starbucks (SBUX) will roll out Vivanno, a $3.75 better-for-you fruit smoothie made with one whole banana, juice, ice, and protein and fiber powder. It has no artificial colors or flavors, and no added sweeteners… Starbucks also will roll out another summer-like beverage Tuesday in 315 Los Angeles-area stores: Sorbetto.

Grady calls Sorbetto a “drinkable sorbet.” Similar drinks are common in Italian cafes, he says. A 10-ounce cup of Sorbetto is $2.75.

According to Reuters’ Is Starbucks’ Vivanno the next Frappuccino? ::

… chalkboards announced that Vivanno Nourishing Blends smoothies would be available in just four days. … drinks would come in orange-mango-banana and banana-chocolate flavors.

[update 7/16] got a free sample cup of Sorbetto this morning, tastes great! Price point is too high — $2.95 for a 10 oz drink. That is a smaller cup than a Tall! My suggestion: larger size, lower price point. I had thought Sorbetto was frozen yogurt, but it’s not — it’s a mix of frozen yogurt with juice. I asked barista if I could order a Sorbetto and just get FroYo without juice; she said “Yes.” (!)

[update 7/17] I got my first Sorbetto, the mango + yogurt blend, pretty good. It’s similar to yogurt drinks like Lassi and Doogh in other parts of the world. But, at $2.95 for a 10 oz cup, it’s way over-priced and I’m not sure it’d work for the American palette. This Sorbetto would work great in the Middle East and Asia if the price is right.

front door at Starbucks decked out

Jul 122008

I am now 42 years old. Had a joyous birthday earlier this week (I’m not giving you the exact date of birth to prevent identity theft) – THANKS for all the Facebook birthday wishes (more than 42!) and presents and presence. Thrilled to have a full Godfather table (Buca Di Beppo) for belated celebratory birthday dinner last night. My kind of dining ambiance! I’m not into group photos, so there ain’t any, gottaproblemwiddat? The best happy birthday wish I got at birthday dinner:

About presents and gifts for me, in a world of gift cards, here’s my insider tips: I love Starbucks, Five Guys, Under Armour; Target, B&N is okay; I don’t shop at Best Buys, but often get their gift cards, so kindly stop it. Could also use my wish list as a shopping guide….

Here’s my surprise finds for the week:

Apr 242008

I’ve been a Starbucks card member for years. Years I tell you. I’ve worn out at least 3 cards from heavy usage over time. I’ve had to ask the cashier to transfer my credit to a new card, because the old one was losing its magnetism. Automatic recharge on the card was nice, as was the quicker swipe on checkout was too, but mostly marginal.

The most recent change that Starbucks has added as bonuses to the Starbucks card are a good start: syrup and milk options for free, brewed coffee refills for free, free drink with whole bean purchase. (I don’t know why the graphic avoided the word free.)

now Starbucks card has new benefits

Now, here’s some of my wild-brained ideas that I’ve submitted to — register there as a user for free, and vote for these! and/or add comments there for these ideas!

Ya think any of these have a leg to stand on? FFT (fan-freakin-tabulous)? awesomatimistic? kewl beans? off the hook? perfectomundo?

Feb 122008

Starbucks customers will get 2 hours of free Wi-fi daily beginning this Spring. All’s you need is a Starbucks card! Finally, a perk for those who have a Starbucks card, like me. And for T-mobile hotspot subscribers, a roaming arrangement will be made with AT&T so that subscription will still work at Starbucks.

From the official announcement at

In addition to the free Wi-Fi access for qualifying AT&T customers and any Starbucks Card holder, customers will be able to purchase tiered access to the AT&T Wi-Fi network at Starbucks at attractive price points. For a two-hour period, customers will pay just $3.99 per session. Monthly membership will also be available for $19.99 per month, and will include access to any of AT&T’s 70,000 hot spots in 89 countries around the world.

NYT Bits blog Cheaper Wi-Fi Access at Starbucks and Beyond comments on this switch:

… as many as 60 hours of access for the price of one $2 cup of coffee. The offer comes as Starbucks switches the company providing it with wireless service to AT&T from T-Mobile. Most of AT&T’s broadband data customers will also have unlmited free access to Wi-Fi at 7,000 Starbucks. They have already been able to use AT&T’s other 10,000 hotspots free.

And NYT carries the AP article, AT&T Joins Starbucks to Provide Store Wi-Fi. Wired’s title is more provocative: Starbucks Ditches T-Mobile and Brings in AT&T as Exclusive Wi-Fi Provider. Plus, AT&T’s version of the announcement.

[update] when free Wifi will actually roll out to a Starbucks near you:

T-Mobile will transition network operations to AT&T on a market by market basis starting this spring and ending in early 2009. … T-Mobile HotSpot customers can continue to enjoy Wi-Fi access at Starbucks locations for at least the next five years under an agreement between T-Mobile USA and AT&T.

AT&T says that, beginning this spring, anyone who uses a Starbucks Card (a prepaid gift card, like one you would give to a friend) will be able to get up to two hours of free WiFi service per day at any Starbucks location with WiFi service. Better yet, if you’re an AT&T broadband or U-verse subscriber, you’ll be able to use unlimited WiFi at Starbucks for free. For everyone else, paid service will begin at $3.99 per two-hour session, and monthly membership will go for $19.99 per month.

[update 6/1/08] I’m noticing Starbucks with wifi signals on both SSID’s tmobile and attwifi. Each have different login, but seems to work equally well. I’ve been able to login to attwifi in Laguna Hills/ Aliso Viejo, CA, as well as Dallas, TX. For AT&T DSL Pro or Elite customers (like I am), you get attwifi login included free with your DSL plan. To login, “Use your primary High Speed Internet, DSL or AT&T U-verse username and password on the hotspot’s webpage.” I did have problem getting my DSL login credential to work with the attwifi hotspot. It took 4 tech support calls to find someone who knew how to sync it up and fix it.

Oct 242007

I’m sitting here at a Starbucks in Laguna Hills, at the corner of Paseo De Valencia and El Toro Rd. The hotspot SSID was “tmobile” and I didn’t have to login. I think the rumored free Wifi internet at Starbucks is already happening and being rolled out! The ComputerWorld article that first predicted this 2 weeks ago said it would happen within a year. 2 weeks is much sooner than a year. Is it happening in your neighborhood Starbucks?

[correction] Here’s the official news release about the proactive effort on T-Mobile’s part to make their HotSpot service available in the areas impacted by the California wildfires [ht: Cara Walker for T-Mobile] –

T-Mobile USA Offers Complimentary Wi-Fi Internet Service at Designated T-Mobile HotSpot Locations in Southern California

People Displaced by Wildfires Can Stay Connected at Open T-Mobile HotSpot Locations in Affected Areas including Select Airports, Hotels and Starbucks Coffee Shops

BELLEVUE, Wash. – Oct. 24, 2007 – In response to the Southern California wildfires, T-Mobile USA is offering complimentary Wi-Fi Internet service through Oct. 31 at nearly 1,200 T-Mobile® HotSpot locations in Southern California.

People can access complimentary T-Mobile HotSpot service during this limited time in the following locations where T-Mobile has agreements to offer HotSpot service in San Diego, Los Angeles and Orange counties, as well as Imperial, Kern, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare and Ventura counties:

· Airports:

o Throughout Los Angeles (LAX), Ontario (ONT), Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena (BUR), Palmdale (PMV), and Van Nuys (VNY)

o Complimentary service is also available to patrons of airline clubs of Delta, United, US Airways, and American at airports within the affected counties

· Nearly 1,000 Starbucks coffee shops

· FedEx Kinko’s

· Borders Books & Music stores

· Hyatt Hotels

· Red Roof Inns

· Select T-Mobile retail stores

The service is intended for those who have been displaced from their homes or are seeking refuge from the wildfires. This complimentary service for fire-affected areas in Southern California is for Wi-Fi service only, not T-Mobile voice or other services.

For a complete listing of T-Mobile HotSpot locations, visit

or call 1-877-822-SPOT (7768).

All users should visit to view T-Mobile HotSpot terms and conditions and the security policy. T-Mobile HotSpot service requires a Wi-Fi enabled laptop computer or PDA.

[update] Free wifi only to month’s end in Southern Cal, according to Fast Food Maven::

Starbucks said it has teamed up with T-Mobile to offer free Internet access at 1,000 cafes in Orange, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Bernardino, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. … Starbucks is lifting fees temporarily so evacuees with laptops can use cafes to reach family members online.

Access will be complimentary through Oct. 31, the chain said.

[ht: Nancy Luna the Fast Food Maven]

And for safe computing, see Chris Pirillo’s comment on the above and tips on securing your Wifi connection. In case you don’t know, free wifi connections may not always be safe.

Apr 052007

At 9:27am this morning, I ordered my first grande dulce de leche latte at Starbucks. The drink debuted on April 3rd, and took 18 months to development.

It is delicious! This drink you have to imbibe with the plastic cap off, to get the full texture of the whipped cream and the toffee nuggets. It wasn’t the easiest thing to order b/c it’s hard to pronounce. I also find myself gravitating to less sweet, actually, non-sweet, drinks over time, so I probably won’t be getting this one very often at all.

What is Dulce de Leche? This Business Week article gives the back story:

Dulce de leche is a caramel-and-milk dessert enjoyed throughout much of the region. What’s more, Häagen-Dazs introduced dulce de leche ice cream in 1998, and Starbucks followed suit with its own ice cream in 1999. So Americans are familiar with the flavor, says McKenzie, but “it still has a nice exotic edge to it.” Besides, she adds, caramel and milk go great with coffee.

[update] TODAY show features the drink [ht: starbucksgossip]

Mar 262007

I’m a fan of Starbucks, but not quite the zealot that Winter is (he’s that guy trying to visit every single Starbucks in the world). Congrats on the new documentary film Starbucking releasing in April 2007 [see trailer], and the free London trip he got on the Wayne Brady show.

Starbucks just had their annual shareholder meeting, where they revealed key business drivers behind their growth strategy: exapnd store footprint, increase average unit volumes, promote continuous innovation, leverage the Starbucks brand with complementary offerings, remain employer of choice, extend the Starbucks Experience beyond our stores, leverage business partners.

I sure hope they come up with better growth strategies and tactics. Maybe try some of these ideas — 2 former Starbucks marketing strategists over at Brand Autopsy and Idea Sandbox volley back and forth on solving Starbucks problems: loss of coffee theatre, loss of coffee aroma, loss of store soul, lack of merchandise focus, and loss of identity. [note to self: brilliant idea, have to do a blog volley with Next Gener.Asian Church some time]

Wallstrip weighs in with their take on SBUX: