Tuesday, April 28, 2009


That's my boy!

Got the word - today's the day!

Got the word - today's the day! He's scheduled to be delivered at 1:30 this afternoon. More later if I'm coherent. :)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Bad Move By Cafepress.com

Cafepress has announce that they are about to make a really bad move.

If you don't know who Cafepress is, it is a web site where people can upload images to be printed on t-shirts and other items. You can simply order items printed with your designs. Or you can make them available for other people to buy, with some of the sale price going to you.

Currently their business model is to charge customers a fixed base price for any given item, plus a markup determined by and paid to the designer (shopkeeper) of the image printed on it (less a percentage fee for very high markups to cover credit card processing fees.) In order to bring ih sales, they provide free storefronts for designers, with limited capacity and customizability. They also provide paid storefronts with less limited capacity and customizability. In addition, any designer can opt a store's contents into the marketplace, which is the Cafepress.com design search for customers.

What's changing? Starting June 1 cafepress will be setting the sale price and markup for items sold in the marketplace, paying Designers a fixed 10% of the sale price of said items. They will also be choosing what goes into the marketplace, or screening it anway. The latter is something many shopkeepers have been hoping for to combat the scads of repetitive designs some submit with the only variation being names, pet breeds, state names, city names, etc. The former, however, is a huge departure from their basic business model.

Looked at from the perspective of Cafepress it may actually make some sense. The manufacturer gets their base price, the designer gets a percentage royalty, and whoever's running the store where it's bought sets the final sale price and gets the rest. Sounds fair, right?

The thing is, they haven't thought it through completely. There are many designers producing really good designs that fetch a high price. Under the announced plan they would get much less per sale through the marketplace, and have their shop prices undercut. So many of them have already announced in the Cafepress forum that they plan to pull their designs from the marketplace and even from Cafepress altogether as they move to other sites, like fast-growing Zazzle.com. (This is what I plan to do - see my links below at the bottom of the page.)

The effects have begun to show. Thursday the marketplace said there were 9,080,000 designs. Today it is 9,080,000. So people are pulling out already, though many say they will stick it out through the end of May to get what they can under the current model. (I'm among them. I'm hoping Cafepress will reconsider this plan, but seeing as how they've already put out a press release announcing it, I doubt it.) It is also reported that the rate of new designs being added has dropped by a good 2/3, many are already shifting their efforts elsewhere.

The net effect of all this is that many good designs will be gone from the marketplace, and some will be gone from Cafepress altogether.

I have to wonder if they perhaps predicted this would happen, and and maybe even brought this about intentionally in an effort to switch from user-provided content to licensing designs from name brand sources. We shall see.

My own plan is to begin building up my presence on Zazzle.com, building galleries for my various brands, starting with what's currently selling and historically sold well on Cafepress. At the end of May I'll pull everything from the Cafepress marketplace that I've migrated so far, and maybe take it off entirely. Then, since there's no way I can finish it all with the baby coming (due May 15!) I'll continue to migrate the rest, removing it from Cafepress as I go.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Cruise Report Part 1: Leaving Home and Day 1

I was hoping to post about the cruise before now, but we've been a bit busy since we got back. We had a little down time so I started on it, but then we got busy again and it had to wait. But, finally, here it is. I've decided to split it into an entry for each day. Hopefully there won't be too much delay between entries.

The Cruise

In case I didn't mention this before this was a Disney cruise. It was a four-day (kinda), three-night cruise to Nassau and Disney's private island Castaway Cay (pronounced "key"), with the home port at Port Canaveral Florida. My travel agent sister-in-law told us it was a four-day cruise, but it was more like two and a half. The ship started boarding around mid-day on the first day, and we got off the ship on the morning of the fourth day. On each day it left port around sundown, arriving at the next port the following morning.

Leaving Home

As seen in my post on that day, the car was frosty on the morning we left. Our plan was to drive as far as we could the first day without staying up too late, then drive the rest the next morning. We ended up stopping in Saint Augustine, Florida, just a couple hours away from the port. As it turns out the hotel clerk recently moved there from our town. Small world.

Cruise Day One

Disney Cruise terminal Christmas decorationsWe had the typical free breakfast at the hotel, then drove to the port next morning. We apparently got there earlier than most. The lines were very short and fast and we spent an hour or two sitting in the terminal and looking at the Christmas decorations and the model of the ship. (As it turns out there are two ships, more or less identical except for "art deco" vs "art nouveau" decor, and the model was of the other ship.) We also talked to my wife's folks on the phone. None of her family arrived until after we had boarded.

We boarded the ship and as we entered the main lobby we were asked our names and announced. After that we went to the buffet for lunch, then walked around the deck to kill some time until our cabin was ready. Along the way we happened upon a couple ping-pong tables and decided to play a bit. We didn't keep score, just played for fun. It was just as well the way the ball kept rolling away. Fortunately the portion of the deck with the ping-pong tables had plexiglass covering the view over the side.

Sunset as we leave port in FloridaWe talked to my mother in law on the phone and were told that my sister in law and her family were checking in. We went back inside to the boarding area and waited on a balcony above where we were announced in hopes of getting a shot of them coming on, but after about 15 or 20 minutes of waiting we gave up. After a bit more wandering around, and finally meeting up with the family, we watched a bit of the show they put on on the middle pool deck. Then the ship left port as the sun set.

The cabin was nice. We got an interior cabin to save money. It was near the stern. (That's the rear of the ship to you land-lubbers.) It was comparable to a small but nice motel room. The only problem was the outer metal part of the hose to the shower head was broken and the rubber hose inside tended to kink. We didn't mention it to the cabin steward, figuring they probably couldn't fix it until they got back to port anyway. The cabin was, of course, decorated in a nautical Disney theme.

There were shows each night, and scheduled dinners at three restaurants. The shows and dinners were scheduled so that there were two shows a night, and two dinners at each restaurant. Passengers are scheduled in groups so that each night you eat in a different restaurant and get the same serving crew each night. As it happened, our group was scheduled for the late dinners. The first night we ate in the Animator's Palette restaurant. The whole room is in black and white, as are the staff uniforms, but some of the walls are painted screens with the same scenes in color behind them. Over the course of the meal the scenes are lit up so they appear in color, and the staff changes in to colorful vests. The food was pretty good. It was fairly fancy, as I recall, but I don't remember what I had.

Our cabin with towel bunnyIt was late after that so we called it a day and went back to the cabin. There was a towel sculpture of a bunny on the bed, along with a couple chocolates, a schedule for the next day's events and activities, and a card congratulating us on our wedding anniversary which was that month. After such a long and active (for us) day we were ready for bed. As we passed through the Florida straits, as we would later learn, the seas were a little more rough. Since we were near the stern the effect was more than it would have been amidships. For me it was nice. I kind of rocked me to sleep, though I was awakened in the night by the coat hangers swaying and clattering in the closet. They were quiet after I shoved them to one side (which I recommend as a bedtime routine if you ever take a cruise.) I don't think my wife liked it as much. We were told later by our restaurant servers that the seas were less calm than usual for our cruise, but the previous cruise was much worse due to the weather. In fact, we had not boarded by the normal entry due to the gangway being damaged by the motion of the ship in port.

That's it for the first day. More later.