Dryw Keltz

Dryw Keltz is a Reader contributor. See staff page for published articles.

Yelp giveth, and Yelp taketh away

Great article on a great topic. I knew that many small businesses (especially restaurants) have been grumbling about Yelp, but I thought it was just due to negative reviews. It's interesting to learn that Yelp simply filters out the reviews they want to filter out, and keeps what works for them. I just noticed that the site gives the option to sort reviews by the date they were written ("Newest First" etc) and I will always use this method to navigate their reviews from now on. It's still a downer to think that even new reviews can be deleted almost immediately after they are written though. There is definitely a Big Brother feel to Yelp's algorithm in this sense. It would just be better if the site posted all the reviews in order from newest to oldest, then give the option to sort for 'best," "worst," "oldest," etc. An algorithm doesn't really make sense for their reviews because, once you find out there is an algorithm for their reviews, it just leaves you wondering, "Why in the world does a website need an algorithm for how they post reviews?" Just post the reviews in order...especially for restaurants. Menus change, staffs change, owners change, the negative or positive review from two years ago might just be completely irrelevant today. Of course, groups could pile on negative reviews in unison, so even the "newest reviews first" system has its flaws. The fact that they just randomly delete some reviews that don't fit their ALGORITHM (UGHHHHHH) is just pure awfulness. The multiple reports about Yelp advertising badgering is pretty disheartening as well. It just feels like the algorithm is an excuse to be able to manipulate the reviews however they wish, while remaining under the guise of it being some technological marvel of negative vs. positive review placement. Just more silicon valley tech BS hiding behind the sacred algorithm to eliminate any semblance of transparency. Yelp should tread carefully regarding how they treat both their businesses and their reviewers...the Facebook to their MySpace might be just around the corner.
— October 7, 2015 7:50 p.m.

AirBnB, the elephant in the room

Yikes. It seems like the city should have just written new laws specific to AirBnB operators instead of going after them using bed and breakfast code requirements. As Smith clearly states here, there is no breakfast portion of her business. Technically, this ruling sets the precedent that anybody who lets a buddy stay in their apartment for a case beer could be prosecuted under this same law. The sample apartment would most likely have a kitchen, and that kitchen would have (at one time or another) most likely served a meal commonly referred to as "breakfast." I have no issue with the city going after AirBnB operators if they decide they don't approve of the idea of the short-term rentals. If you don't like it, just outlaw it. It's simple. You may have to deal with an excess of anger from local constituents and potential tourists, but if you are clearly against something, come up with some laws that specifically state how clearly against this thing you are. This case is akin to arresting someone for jaywalking who is just out jogging because you want to outlaw jogging, but since there are no specific laws against jogging you just chose the closest illegal activity. Are all the drivers working for rideshares in danger of losing lawsuits since they don't follow the same operating codes as cab drivers? Both services pick up passengers and transfer them to destinations for a fee. One could argue they are remotely similar. If anything, this ruling shows that cities like San Diego need to do a better job of staying ahead of the curve when it comes to new technologies such as AirBnB and Uber. If you see something coming that you don't like, either outlaw it or regulate it quick. If you wait too long and start retroactively going after individuals operating legally within the city you're just going to look silly. All this ruling shows is that the city is either too scared to outlaw AirBnB, or too afraid to deal with the wrath of a handful of neighbors dealing with two extra cars parked on their block.
— August 10, 2015 4:38 p.m.

Rattlesnakes percolating from dry Clairemont canyons

I've been mountain biking for about 15 years around the San Diego vicinity and the Daley Ranch has by and far the greatest concentration of snakes I have ever encountered. Roasting heat, lots of rocks...it's snake heaven. One of my favorite memories from riding up there occurred on a late-spring day. It was one of the first really hot days heading into summer. We drive into the parking lot, start unloading our bikes, and a guy with only a handful of teeth left comes walking up to us holding a rattlesnake he had just decapitated on one of the trails. "OHHHHH THEY'RE OUT THERE TODAY!!!" he tells us. It was straight out of Deliverance, but, in all honesty, a very nice warning, because there were rattlers all over the place that day! It was nuts. Mission Trails can be really nasty as well on those first scorching hot days of the summer. One time I bailed on a ride in the East Elliot area after seeing five different snakes within the first five minutes of the ride. (I really should mention here that I am not the biggest fan of snakes.) Probably a couple of rattlers plus a trio of large red racers. Those snakes live up to their name...they can haul! The funny thing about the red racers is that I hadn't seen them out there before that day, and I haven't seen them out there since. I have seen a handful of snakes at Florida Canyon, Tecolote Canyon, and Lake Hodges as well, but nothing along the lines of the concentration to be found at Mission Trails or the Daley Ranch. I am always amazed by how many people run the trails and walk dogs at Mission Trails. It's such a minefield of rattlers. You really have to keep a sharp lookout on the trails. If you don't like snakes, avoid these places on the initial 85 degree-plus days of the late spring/early summer. That's when they seem to really come out in force.
— August 10, 2015 3:56 p.m.

Massive layoffs rumored for Qualcomm

So the best advise would be this: If you work for Qualcomm, and think you are about to get laid-off, buy a bunch of Qualcomm stock. The ultimate "taking it for the team." It's pretty easy to see why entry-level wages are so stagnant across this country. Even if the CEO of Burger King wanted to pay his fry-cooks 20 bucks per hour he couldn't because Wall Street would kick his companies butt into non-existence. Once I had the thought that the government could reward companies that are known for paying their employees well and treating them fairly by enacting some sort of exceptional business dividend in conjunction with the stock market. Basically, investors who bought stock in these companies that displayed exemplary behavior in these realms would receive an additional dividend which would come out of the feds pocket. Where the money would come from...hmmm...maybe actually prosecute some white collar crime every so often? One interesting method would be to pool money brought in via whistleblowers, tax-fraud, fines and other corporate crimes. It would be a bit of a Robin Hood scenario as the bad would be rewarding the good. In conjunction with the positive list, you could also shame companies that treat their employees like garbage by perhaps giving them a zero on a scale of zero to five in terms of "quality company to work for." Of course, Wall Street would obviously clamor to all the "zero" companies since they would be the most likely to live by the corporate bottom line and not their employees well-being. In short, we're screwed.
— July 20, 2015 4:09 p.m.

Fate of Chargers predicted

There are some great comments in this thread. Good work all around. I completely agree with the perception that even local sports talk radio is slowly coming around to the reality that a publicly financed stadium is the scam of all scams. When the local sports talk radio programs start to show doubts about stadium financing...that is when you know the citizens are really getting the shaft. The loss of tailgating and gouging for the concessions is a great point as well. And anyone who was down at Comic-Con last week may have noticed the $30 Ace Parking lot fees. Well double that, and you may get what a parking space to attend a Chargers game in the East Village would have cost, or perhaps even in the new Mission Valley location, since more fans will have to park off-site since plans call for a massive development of retail, condos etc on much of the current parking lot. In John Oliver's stadium piece, he highlighted how in the most current version of the Madden NFL videogame, you could act as an owner and choose concessions prices etc. That is the true game being played here. Football is just the front. If owners could pull this scam with professional badminton games they would do it. No matter how much people love their NFL teams, they are basically enthralled with something that is leased to their city. There is no connection besides the city's name on the jerseys and the geographic location of the stadium. The new facet of the game is the drive to replace stadiums at an almost dizzying rate. It may be the ultimate undoing of the current system. Once enough cities go into major debt in an effort to retain their football teams, other cities will become reluctant to make the same sacrifice. It's already happening here. People have seen the data. They know what is up. If the Chargers get rejected from playing in LA (which they obviously without a doubt are intent on doing now) they have to crawl back to San Diego looking like the awful guy who is trying to make nice with his great ex-girlfriend who he dumped to pursue a fashion model. It's not gonna be all rainbows and lollipops when they get back together. As for the bigger picture of stadium financing, if the NFL is going to keep asking for public money to fund stadiums, they are eventually going to have to cut cities in on the profits. I have always thought letting the stadium take all the ticket sales and giving the cities all the parking proceeds would be a great system, but getting owners to give up any of their take seems like an almost impossible bargain at this point.
— July 14, 2015 3:14 p.m.

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