Best Fries in Boston

December 28, 2007

Everyone’s got their thing. Josh’s is beer, for instance. And our friend at Venrock, David Beisel’s thing is Hamburgers. Mine is french fries. I can’t help myself – I always have to try them out, and if they’re good they’re gone. Not great on the health-o-meter, but nothing an extra few miles on the mountain bike can’t solve (oh yeah, it’s winter and I only biked 3 times last summer).

Boston has some decent fries. In my humble opinion, decent fries means: not too greasy, freshly cut (ie not previously frozen), not too thick (thin is better), not too crunchy. Some have flavor, which can be great or horrible. I’m not into spicy fries, curly fries, or hexagonal fries. Just straight ones. Dipping sauces can be a plus. And they need to be fried in high quality, clean oil. Very important.

 That said, here are my favs around town:

 1. Chez Henri. Don’t ask why, just go try (not intended to rhyme)

2. Acquitaine

3. Sel de la Terre

4. Brasserie Joe

5. West Side Lounge

Agree!? Tell us what you think here on the blog. And while you’re at it, let us know what you like, and dislike about the site.

Fantastic news! There’s Zync cocktail. Yes, it’s true, Josh verified it and found this recipe:

 

2.0 Oz. Sprite Lemon Lime Soda
2.0 Oz.
Sweet Vermouth
1.0 Oz.
[good] Vodka

 

Mix all ingredients, stir, and ENJOY!

Zoodles of improvements…

December 14, 2007

We’re listening… We’ve heard over and over that when people search locally they are often asking themselves one of the following questions:

  • What should we do Friday night? {time-based query}

  • My brother and his family are coming to visit January 15-18, how are we going to entertain the kids? {time and “mood” based}

  • I live in Davis Square, what is there to do there? {location based}

  • I’ve heard that Back Bay is THE place where all the hip people hang out, where should we go? {interest based}

We are hoping that our new guided nav on the browse and recommendations pages have gotten us one step closer to making this easier for you (see it in action). We still have a lot of work to do, but this is a decent start. On our roadmap we have plans to tweak events so they are more appropriately tagged, add a zip code and radius search, reorganize our Geographic Region section so you don’t have to drill down through layers to get to neighborhoods, and to reorganize Activity Types to get you to what you are looking for more efficiently (we have a lot of events there that no one is seeing!) And that’s just the short list.

This is where you come in, we need your help.  What questions are you asking yourself when you are looking for stuff to do? What are you specifically looking for on Zync? Are you finding the places and activities that are right for you? We want to know what is working for you and what isn’t. One of the best parts of being an early adopter of Zync is that you get to help us shape what the product will become.

 

Click here to send us feedback or email us at info@zync.com

Oh, and notice the email address, we are now www.zync.com! We are very excited to now have our company name and url be perfectly matched.

Start of a new era…

December 14, 2007

Ok, I admit it. I haven’t done a great job of keeping our blog “fresh”. In fact, I haven’t done squat (technical term for “didley”). That whole stream of “Big Thoughts” consciousness thing just didn’t happen. Probably for lack of Big Thoughts, but the excuse I’m sticking with is lack of time, having to run the company yada yada. The intentions were there, but the follow-through was not.

But the tides of change are upon us. You’re now going to see contributions from everyone at the company, on subjects related to and about the company. From Big Thoughts to trite rants, the proverbial kimono is now officially open for business (is that mixing metaphors?).

Enjoy, and send lots of feedback to info@zync.com.

People Like You

August 23, 2007

I was reading one of my regular blogs – fred wilson’s a_vc - and he touched on a subject I’ve been pondering for over a year (and which serves as a driving philosophy in zync). The idea is that with the successes (in terms of traffic) of community review sites like yelp, trip advisor, and citysearch, we now find ourselves facing an interesting paradox – there are too many reviews out there! This has a two-fold effect – first, we don’t know which reviews to trust and which are garbage; and second, the actual numerical ratings trend towards a mean, becoming less meaningful as the number of reviewers grows.

An example: the 99 Restaurant in Boston gets an 8.7 on CitySearch. Not a bad rating. Yet, most of the people I know don’t go there because the food quality and ambiance aren’t…how do I say this…good. So while the 99 may be satisfactory as a local watering hole, for some fried food, and to watch the Sox, it would be poor recommendation for people like me.

These days, I find myself disregarding the ratings and focusing on each reviewer’s comments, trying to assess how similar that person is to me and how much I can trust what they are saying. Ideally, as Fred points out, we’d only see reviews by like-minded people that we can trust! A friend from MIT, Anil Dharni, discusses this issue nicely in his blog post: ”What’s Broken With Yelp“.

I run into examples of this all the time, but another that sticks with me is when I was researching hotels in Bali for my honeymoon on trip advisor. I was looking for something upscale, romantic, quaint and off the beaten path, and not gaudy, too large, or “over the top”. I found one that by most accounts sounded amazing. But one reviewer said “Yes, this is a gorgeous hotel on which billions were spent by the prince of Bali. However, we found it to be ‘trying too hard’, ostentatious, and the food was lousy!…”. The review went into great and articulate detail in justifying these claims, and I found myself saying “this person is like me – the level of detail, values, what’s important – I really should trust this person.” …but I didn’t – they were having a deal yada yada and we stayed there. It *was* gorgeous, but completely off the charts on the gaudy/ostentatious and ‘not subtle luxury’ scale (it was the heart shaped bath tub and 10 dining areas that all served the same fare that put us over the top).

The point I’m making is that there’s a real need to personalize the way information is presented on the web, especially local information. We’ve seen a movement towards “personalization” with netflix and amazon, and I believe this same approach can be applied in other markets, such as travel and “local”, to make it easier for people to find the right information. For a crisp look at how recommendation and personalization systems work, read this post from our friend Joshua Porter’s blog on “Which movie to watch“.

Briefly, that’s what zync is about. We’re making “local” personal – enabling faster and easier dicovery of relevant new stuff to do with your free time. Zync applies personalization algorithms to find People Like You™ and pushes activity suggestions to you proactively. I’ll stop there – you can check it out for yourself at zync.

-brad

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