Friday, December 30, 2005
RED HERRING | Google Sued for $5B
This is one of those things that makes me wonder about the legal profession.
These guys are called patent trolls. They buy up obscure patents from various places, then they sue companies for money. Usually, the 'firms' are made up almost entirely of lawyers.
I'm not defending (or condemning) Google here. But I am reasonably sure that Google didn't steal any patents. The nature of our patent system encourages this kind of activity and I can't say it's good.
Big companies like Motorola and IBM often patent the hell out of pretty much any idea they can. They have offsite weeklong patent parties with 20 engineers and a couple of lawyers that do nothing but come up with potential patents once an idea or technology they've been working on takes shape.
They then use these patents to shut down competitors (rarely) and more often, they 'cross' patent with other patent holders when there's a possible dispute. It's actually a clever way of protecting their own IP (we'll share with you if you'll share with us). As large corporations go, it's almost altruistic (well, not really, but sort of).
But these patent trolls are evil. While I was a general manager at a CLEC (Competitive Local Exchange Carrier) company awhile back, my group was served by one of these firms. We were (by phone company standards) small. They were going after small weaker companies trying to get us to settle to set a precident that would then allow them to go after the big boys once they had some wins in their court. In this case, it was for 'transmitting multimedia over cableTV infrastructure'. Isn't that called 'TV'?
Hmmm.. think of the ramifications if they won that one. I left the company before it was settled (and yes, we decided to fight it rather than lay down). But the fact remains: it's a form of predatory legal action that's more than a little distastful.
And more importantly, it's something that kills innovation and destroy's American companies ability to invest and create new technologies. And yea, it's an American problem because our patent laws support it.
Philadelphia Inquirer | 12/30/2005 | Editorial | Flour, not coke Philly cops didn't rise to the occasion
OK.. this is nuts. Girl in Philly get's arrested and detained for THREE WEEKS because she had 2 condoms, filled with flour (used as a squeeze like stress reliever by she and her dorm buddies during tests) in her suitcase.
Three friggin weeks?? And this was in 2003. She's now suing the City of Brotherly Love for half a mil (WAY low if you ask me).
I love my security and safety.. Really I do. But I love my freedom more, and this is getting truly stupid.
Bush running hundreds (maybe thousands?) of wiretaps that most leading legal scholars say is illegal (regardless of his 'my authority is the US constitution' argument).
The NSA dropping browser cookies into anyone's computer that visits there website that tracks where you go and what you do on the internet (without asking, and with a 20 year expiration date).
A quickly written law (The Patriot Act) that, although done with all the best intentions, opens doors that really, truly, should not be opened.
Monitoring and tracking peace demonstrators (something I don't personally take part in... but what if I was walking by when they were taking pictures? Guess I'm one of em.. guess I'm going to be monitored, tracked and followed now)
Detaining people, without even charging them, for years. CHARGE them with something, for god's sake. If they're such a threat, you've got to have something on them to charge them with.
This shadowy stuff is more than a little scary.
I could go on.. but I won't.
Maybe I'm over-reacting. OK.. yea.. I am, but only a little.
This hit me because this is very real world, with a very innocent person being detained for carrying flour that 'might' be drugs (or something..)
I see a link between this kind of behavior from our police and other governement authorities and their increasing over reaction to anything seen as a threat. It's carrying over into average people's lives in a very negative way. See my earlier post:
on the women who refused to show her 'ID' while riding on a public bus and was arrested.
Why did this happen? Maybe because...She's asian. It was WHITE POWDER. It might be drugs...maybe something else?? Ask: If this was sept. 10th, 2001, think it would have happened? Three weeks in jail? I doubt it. Overnight detention maybe. Maybe.
They should call in the CSI guys on TV. They can do highly complex DNA tests in, like, what, 15 minutes?
Seriously though, a test like this should be simple and fast. "Opps.. you're right.. flour.. sorry bout that"...
Old Ben Franklin nailed it when he said:
"They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security"
Time to buck up and accept that we cannot protect against every possible attack, every threat to our security. Time to realize that our freedoms must be protected as much as our security. And most importantly- time to realize that WE, the citizens of the country, are not the enemy. These are trends, and they are not good trends.
The balance is out of whack. WAY out of whack. To our leaders: Get it together. Find some reasonable balance. Be smart about security, but don't crush, or even dent, the freedoms this country was founded on.
I took a week and turned off my cell phone and disconnected my email and just lived in the 'natural' world for a change. You know.. cars, restaurants, coffee shops (without a computer), hanging with people that didn't care about computers or web 2.0 or podcasting or much of anything I work on all day
Everyone should do it.
Amazing how we can get totally wrapped up in our worlds and forget about all the other extraordinary things out in the world.
End result? I've decided I'm doing the wrong thing with my life. I was meant to be a Anime/Manga artist (even though I have no idea if I can draw). So, guess I better learn fast. Either that or an erotic portrait photographer. Can't get a good read on which one just yet.... Maybe another week off.... hmmmm
Weird how things come full circle if you give them long enough.
Here's something from today's Wall Street Journal:
AT&T to 'Reintroduce' Itself
With a Big Campaign
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
December 29, 2005; Page B4
In a bid to re-energize one of the country's best-known brands, the new AT&T Inc. plans to kick off a massive ad campaign on New Year's Eve.
The campaign, which includes television commercials, billboards, airport signs and a theme song by the rock band Oasis, comes a month after SBC Communications Inc. acquired AT&T Corp. and decided to keep the historic phone company's moniker. Executives said the new campaign is bigger than any marketing buys in the history of both SBC and the old AT&T.
AT&T won't say how much it is spending on the campaign, which is being handled by Omnicom Group Inc.'s GSD&M and Rodgers Townsend. Advertising experts estimate it will cost $800 million to $1 billion.
This got me to thinking: This 'new' AT&T is one big honkin company. And, as big companies go, they have only one primary goal: Increase shareholder value.
How? By growing their sales and revenue. How to do that? Good products and BUYING OTHER PHONE COMPANIES. I yell this because, damn it.... they're gonna buy all the other phone companies and reconstitute AT&T! MaBell wants to live yet again.... Even the US governments anti-trust department can't stop her long term.
You heard it here first. Heh.
Saturday, December 10, 2005
This 'accessory' is available for your iPod now. Plugs in and vibrates/pulsates to the beat of the music.
This is what I call PERSONAL entertainment.
Thanks to the engadget guys for clueing us in on this. More from them at: http://www.engadget.com/entry/1234000727071936/
Thursday, December 08, 2005
My Del.icio.us tag list. If you're not a del.icio.us user, think about starting. It's a great way to quickly 'tag' things of interest so you can find them later. I use it half a dozen times a day to mark things I don't want to lose track of, and, it ranks them for me over time showing me what my thought process flow is in a semi-graphic highly alpha mannor. Cool stuff.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
This just isn't fair.
It's official: too much sex saps male brains
MALE animals can produce a lot of sperm or grow big brains but cannot do both, according to a study that may confirm the suspicions of many women.
The study of 334 bat species suggests that energy-hungry brains can evolve only at the expense of other tissues.
Writing in Proceedings of the Royal Society, Biological Sciences, Scott Pitnick, of Syracuse University, New York, reported that species with promiscuous females had evolved extra large testicles but smaller brains.
"The general rule that is emerging is that sperm production can be incredibly costly," said Dr Pitnick, who first found the relationship in insects. Male fruit flies, for example, can make sperm 7.5 centimetres long.
"This led me to examine bats, as sperm competition is rife, and so testes can be ridiculously large," he said.
"Brains are metabolically expensive organs to develop and maintain, so looking for a trade-off there seemed obvious."
The most interesting implications of the study are for the co-ordinated evolution of brains, behaviour and extravagant sexually selected traits: ornaments such as the peacock's tail and armaments such as antlers.
Dr Pitnick said: "The road to sexual success can lie in being clever, in being a dull yet well-armed brute that can fight for paternity, in being spectacularly ornamented, or in providing a rich cocktail of seminal fluids and costly sperm."
Sexual selection could favour any combination of these.
Dr Pitnick carried out the study with Kate Jones, of the London Zoological Society, and Jerry Wilkinson, of the University of Maryland
Monday, December 05, 2005
That’s why the editors of the New Oxford American Dictionary have selected “podcast” as the Word of the Year for 2005. Podcast, defined as “a digital recording of a radio broadcast or similar program, made available on the Internet for downloading to a personal audio player,” will be added to the next online update of the New Oxford American Dictionary, due in early 2006.
Wikipedia Tightens Submission Rules
By DAN GOODIN, Associated Press WriterMon Dec 5, 6:10 PM ET
Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia to which anyone can contribute, is tightening submission rules after a prominent journalist complained that an article falsely implicated him in the Kennedy assassinations.
Wikipedia will now require users to register before they can create articles, Jimmy Wales, founder of the St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Web site, said Monday. People who modify existing articles will still be able to do so without registering.
Graffiti. I’ve been thinking about that last post on Wikipedia and the uproar over how anonymous posting there can be troublesome and, in some cases, potentially libelous. It brings me to some personal experiences, both recent and in the past that tells me: anonymous isn’t necessary goodness.
I’m CEO of a podcasting startup called ClickCaster (www.clickcaster.com). We had some debate among the development team on whether to allow anonymous podcasting or not and, after going back and forth, decided that there needed to be some degree of accountability for what you say in your podcast. At the very least, you needed to supply a verifiable email that someone would complain (or send praise) to. You can still browse and listen to podcasts, but if you want to post something, you’ve got to supply a working email.
And this reminded me of a program developed internally at Apple computer back in the late 80’s, early 90’s by a fellow (Harry C) that had a somewhat profound effect on the company. It was called Graffiti, and that was exactly what it was. It was a small program you installed on your Macintosh, and it had two fields, one for text that you’d enter, and one for text that others entered to appear in. Super simple. Super fun and it, for a while, brought the Apple Campus network to it’s knee’s (thousands of copies running on virtually every employee computer in Cupertino).
Harry wrote it while working for ATG (Advanced Technology Group) and then, worked for me in the AOS (Apple Online Systems group). The sheet hit the fan, unfortunately, when he went to work for me, so I got a front row seat (as his manager) to what unfolded.Since you didn’t have to name yourself when you put text in and blasted it all over the network, making it anonymous and very graffiti like (hence it’s name), you also could say anything you wanted. Some people did, and it was fun.
But some people posted rumors, and gossip. One in particular was started about an HR exec who was sleeping with his administrative assistant. No biggie, most people at Apple back then were single and it’s was pretty common, This guy was married though, and in a sensitive job that interacted with a lot of people. And, unfortunately, it might have been true. This exec found out, went to the engineering VP (I think it was Larry Tesler… can’t remember) who, eventually, got to me, the software authors manager.
Because the software assumed a small (Apple only) audience, and it was a closed system, Harry thought it wouldn’t be a problem that it was anonymous. He was wrong. He was forced to pull the software from the network (although, if you had it, you could keep running it) and he was almost fired over it (I intervened, of course). But the lesson was learned.
Anonymous posting is almost always bad. There are a few (rare) cases where it makes sense (political, personal or professional repercussions if you associate your name with something for instance) but, in general, it’s better to have accountability than not to.
Hopefully, the Wikipedia folks have learn this lesson as well.
Sunday, December 04, 2005
Following is a link sent to me by a friend about how a fake posting a person in Wikipedia got by the volunteer editors and slandered someone who's still around with alot of untrue info. This is my response to it. It's interesting in that I think this will become a sort of attack point by old media entities on new media and it's worth both keeping an eye on and making sure it doesn't spiral into something unreal:
"This is interesting in that it's creating alot of focus on the 'unreliability' of things like WIkipedia and blogs.
My initial reaction is 'how accurate are the newspapers?'. I've been quoted, over the years, many times in newspapers and magazines and, about 10 or so years ago, stopped talking to them because they NEVER got it right. Sometimes, they intentionally got it wrong (a quote by me was once used by a Washington Post reporter, totally out of context, about a story on the 'problems' at Apple computer... my quote, which had nothing to do with the problems, made it sound like an exec (me) from the company was confirming it was going down the tubes).
And the NYT's has some very real credibility problems in my mind right now when it comes to 'getting it right'. I don't even read these guys anymore due to 'award winning' reporters getting it wrong and, in some cases, just making it up. The NYT in particular is well known for having this happen to them.
That said, yea.. it's an issue. I think, however, it's a self correcting one. The Wisdom of Crowds is real, and overall, it's better than the editor/writer/fact-checker model used by commercial entities that broadcast out to the masses. Will things like this happen? Always. Will the Wikipedia's (and blogs and podcasts) of the world continue to have this problem? Yes. But I would bet, over time, if you compare the accuracy of a Wikipedia to a NYT's, you'll find overall better information with the user generated (and policed) source over the commercial source.
Just my two cents. ;-)S
WEEK IN REVIEW December 4, 2005 Rewriting History: Snared in the Web of a Wikipedia Liar By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE The question of Wikipedia, as of so much of what you find online, is: Can you trust it?
Saturday, November 26, 2005
Read this link. Really, read it.
Next Stop: Big Brother
One morning in late September 2005, Deb was riding the public bus to work. She was minding her own business, reading a book and planning for work, when a security guard got on this public bus and demanded that every passenger show their ID. Deb, having done nothing wrong, declined. The guard called in federal cops, and she was arrested and charged with federal criminal misdemeanors after refusing to show ID on demand.
On the 9th of December 2005, Deborah Davis will be arraigned in U.S. District Court in a case that will determine whether Deb and the rest of us live in a free society, or in a country where we must show "papers" whenever a cop demands them.
Now, I'm no alarmist. I think the militia folks out in the AZ dessert are a little batty, but this smacks of state control like nothing I've heard for some time.
Seems this women was asked for her ID on a bus that happened to go through a federal facility area (just the area, mind you, and this is a public transportation open to the world bus).
Read the story. The summation is she refused to show her ID because she'd learned long ago there is no law requiring it and it bugged her doing it. It was a principle thing (do we live in a gulag pro-1990 soviet state? not last time we checked, or, so I thought until reading this). She was arrested, dragged to the police station and is being charged with a multitude of ‘crimes’. All for being, as the story notes ‘uppity’.
We need a degree of authority. We need laws. But we also need our constitution and our freedoms.
Anyone who says 'someone who has nothing to hide shouldn't have a problem with it' wasn't around in 1770 when search (and seizure) without warrants where common. That's why we have a constitution: to protect against this kind of behavior in the face of randomly applied authority.
I'm seeing some really weird things happening lately. Microsoft releases SSE, a two way RSS like spec, under an open Creative Commons license (!). Google refuses to allow true RSS feeds that would open Google's engines to the world.
What's happening here?
Google is at the center of a centralized view of the worlds data. It controls everything, and everyone, coming in and out. It then monetizes that with advertising, allowing it to create lots of cool free services (that area also tracked and often, but not always, monetized with advertising). The problem for those of us that like to pick bits and pieces of things out there and subscribe to them via RSS is Google doesn't want to lose it's place at the center, so won't let you subscribe to things through their engine. If you did, they wouldn't be able to sell you advertising along the sides and tops of your page.
Microsoft, having no real advertising business, and not really understanding this space (as a company, although some of the folks working for them certainly do) is going the opposite route. Maybe just to do what it can to slow down Google, maybe because it's the right thing to do, I can't really tell. The SSE spec they put out, defining how to make RSS two way (simplified view, but reasonably accurate) is, by all outward appearances, legit. It's open. It's licensed right. It adds to RSS in a positive community way that doesn't (necessary) benefit only Microsoft.
Like I said, what's going on here?
Is Google's success creating the walled fortress mentality that made Microsoft into the evil empire of the north (and makes Apple, with it's much smaller walled fortress build around the iPod and iTunes the same)?
Is Google moving into the old space owned by Microsoft and, in it's fear of having someone do to it what it did to IBM driving them to actually do the right thing (albiet for the wrong reasons)?
2006 is going to be a very interesting year in the technology world indeed.
Friday, November 25, 2005
What's interesting to me is most of them didn't work with the latest version of the released browser, either (1.0.7).
This, I think, is one of the big weakenesses of Firefox. If, whenever a new release comes out, it breaks everyone's extensions (one of the things that allow you to get the same functionality as IE, plus some), well, it's a bitch.
I like componentized software as much as the next guy, more maybe, but the framework's just gotta work better if you want people to switch to Firefox. I'll keep using Firefox (if for nothing else the tabs) but if you break all the things that make it stand out from IE, you give Microsoft the chance to catch up.
Let's hope the Firefox browser folks keep that in mind while developing. In the end, users will use what has the most stability and the most (useful) features.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Check it out at:
Which (or how many) of the types of innovators are you?
Sunday, November 20, 2005
Watch out Donald Trump! You've got a head for business and money.You'll make it rich some day, even if you haven't figured out how yet.A supreme individualist, you shouldn't get stuck in a corporate job.Instead, make your own way - so that you can be the boss.
Your strength: Your undying determination
Your weakness: You require an opulent lifestyle
Your power color: Plum
Your power symbol: Dollar sign
Your power month: August
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Seems that these rootkit installing VIRUSES that Sony has sold to about 2 million people have been know of by the security companies like McAfee and Symantec for a YEAR. Did they do anything?
Now that they know about it are they owning up to the fact that they didn't do enough (and still aren't)?
Only F-Secure (of the bigger virus/computer security companies) was vocal about this and did something fast (and completely).
So, I'm switching all my computers to F Secure.
Read this story at wired: http://www.wired.com/news/privacy/0,1848,69601,00.html
It tells how the big guys pretty much ignored (and still kind of are) the crap Sony is putting out into the world.
I'm extending my personal boycott to any security and virus software from Symantec, McAfee and MicroSoft. You should too.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
This is amazing to me. Sony builds copy protection into it's CD's that puts a rootkit onto your computer. This is a form of technology that is based on the same techniques used by computer viruses. And it opens up your computer to exploits.
Someone should tell Sony it may be their intellectual property, but it's your damned computer.
I am boycotting all Sony products from now on. Software, hardware, music, the works. If a company thinks it can pull this kind of thing, it should pay the (economic) price. And, the moral price. I'm going to make sure I tell everyone I know that Sony pulls crap like this and they should avoid all Sony products now and into the future.
Two 20 minutes presentations to a roomful of (skeptical) VC's. A bit nerve wracking, but overall not bad. The format was good; you talk for 20 minutes, do a demo and then they have 20 minutes of 'free time' until the next presentation set. You get to network with anyone who's interested in your company for that time and then wham.. you're up for another presentation.
Since this was my first one of these 'pitch and greet' things, I have no idea if the response was good or not by normal standards, but I did get alot of business cards handed to me and alot of VC's telling me they'd like to talk more.
Interestingly, they're true to their word. This week, I've got about 10 phone meetings set up with various VC's from around the world. From Japan to Boston (and, of course, Silicon Valley).
The only thing that worries me a bit is the hype level around what we're doing: Podcasting.
It's technically fairly simple. MP3 audio files wrapped in RSS. In simple terms, it turns your audio recording (show) into something that's automatically delivered to anyone’s computer and MP3 player who subscribes to it.
An MP3 audio file is to a podcast what a newspaper or magazine at a news stand is to the same newspaper or magazine that you get via subscription (i.e. delivered to your house vs. having to go out, find it and buy it).
Simple eh? Well, with over a billion (with a b) MP3 players and MP3 capable phones being sold in the next 36 months, turns out, it's going to be really big.
And, it's at the center of the 'user generated content' hype you hear now (blogs fall into this arena as well).
And, to top it off, what we're doing is built on top of AJAX and OpenSource software (at the heart of the 'Web 2.0 craze).
So, it all adds up to, maybe, a bit of overhype. Being right in the middle of ALL three of these super hot areas, I think, makes some of the VC's nervous.
Had a conversation with one VC who I met earlier this year who loves RSS stuff, has invested in it and understands it. But, he's passing on investing in us. His reasons were valid, but I can't help but think that he's a little gunshy of the overhyped arena we're operating in right now (he's a survivor of the 2000 tech bubble burst).
And I have to say I tend to agree with the overhyped aspect of it all. I understand it (with a billion podcast playing capable devices out there, and the ability to put audio content into them that you pick, on subjects you like that can be listened to when you want them, there's a massive market.. and radio, with $28 billion in advertising revenue a year, is a prime target for guys like us) but, you can raise expectations too high, even with those kind of opportunities.
It's sad in a way. This is the VC I really wanted to be our partner. He's smart, he gets it, he knows what he's doing and I really like him. He did say he'd be happy to introduce us several other VC's who will invest (and he'd be happy to tell them why he isn't, mostly because he's already maxed out on investments this year and his fund closes end of this year.. too soon to make a call on us, and do proper due diligence, all very valid).
I have no doubt we'll get funded. There's simply too much money available for opportunities like ours to get passed up on. I worry though that the really good, experienced and knowledge VCs are going to stay out of this area because of the hype level looking, feeling and smelling alot like the bubble of 99.
For the record: It's not a bubble. This is real stuff we're doing. Web 2.0 is real. Podcasting is real. Technologies like AJAX that make your website act like an application are real. I'm hoping the really good VC's don't get too spooked by the hype. We need them and their experience, knowledge and wisdom.
Sunday, November 06, 2005
Well, that was something.
Tonight The West Wing on NBC did a live (as in, really live) debate between the democratic and republican candidates.
Here's what disturbed me: At the end, although I'd agreed with the democrat, I felt like the republican won.
Now, I'm a registered independant (yea.. we actually register here in Colorado as Independents). On some things I'm a little right, on most I'm a little left. And I'm no fan of the current form of republican in any sense. But, in this (albiet fake) debate, the republican was better.
Maybe it was because Hawkeye was the republican (and damn, I loved Mash). Maybe it's because Jimmy Smitts, the democrat, flubbed a few lines and seemed to lose his place without covering it up overly well (Alan Alda did too, but he covered well).
On the SUBSTANCE, I liked the democrat. On the PERFORMANCE, I liked the republican.
I'd like to think that I'd think about this... and after thinking about it, write off the republican. But it also made me think: You know... that was ALOT like the real thing. A sort of stiff democrat and a very likable republican. The personality thing played a much heavier role in how I felt about it at the end then it should have.
In real politics, I don't think of things like this (or DO I? hmmm..) happen. I would bet though, that if you just give things like presidential debates a passing glance, or go on what the guys at the office say they saw, you'd go for the guy you liked. Especially if he made it sound like it made sense (the writing on the script was outstanding, for both sides). And there's no doubt the majority of the population takes most politcs at passing glance depth.
My guess is this is THE reason Bush is in the white house right now. I mean the ONE and ONLY reason he won twice. We (as a a nation) like the guy. Can't say we think much of him as a president, especially nowadays, but we liked him at election time.
Ahh the power of emotion in the political process.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Declaration of InDRMpendence by ZDNet's David Berlind -- Is your anti-virus or anti-spyware technology warning you about the Digital Rights Management software on your computer? If not, it should be. It's a Trojan horse of the worst kind.Earlier today, after describing to a close friend the rock and the hard place that I'm between since I can't easily play the 99 cent songs [...]
Sunday, October 30, 2005
So.. just got a tom tom (although my evdo card may make it obsolete as soon as I get it! see last post)...
Very nice and extremely usable device. Touch screen, easy to read screen. Excellent maps. Put in an address on the touch screen and just go. Take a wrong turn, immediate recalc and voice prompts (in mulitple accents no less!) to get you back on track. Daytime view and nighttime view (softer muted colors). Many other features but overall, a wonderful device. I can even take it with me on foot (4hr built in rechargable battery included). Nice job Tom Tom!
Incredible. 75MHP on the highway with a laptop logged into Sprint's EVDO (3G) Service between Boulder and Denver and logged into Radio Paradise pullng a 64kbps stream.. solid and strong. Plug it into my 3mm jack, pipe it through the car audio system and you've got unlimited XM type digital radio. I pulled over in an office depot parking lot to write this (also on the EVDO) as I continue to listen to the music.
This changes everything. I wonder what guys with narrow and short range wireless pipes are going to do when WiMax starts to role out.
Verizon's got EVDO, as does what I'm using (Sprint). Card is free ($249 - $149 with a special 'additional' $99 off special FREE card). Service is $60 a month if you've got a sprint phone, $80 if you don't. (Unlimited throughput). Not quite as cheap as my cable modem, but one hell of alot more useful.
Bandwidth meters are giving me a consistant 350-500 speed. Not the 2MB that Sprint says 'is possible', but close enough to DSL to be the same thing. And TOTAL mobility.
Nice work. Awesome service. A new world of data and mobility.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Scene from the movie, "Good Night and Good Luck"
This is a movie you will love or hate. If you liked the recent video game movie "Doom", this isn't likely to turn your crank. Or, if you voted for George Bush, twice, and still think he's an oustanding president who makes no mistakes and always does the right thing, well, not so much.
But, if you think, and you do it not as a liberal or as a conservative, but as someone who asks 'what's the right thing', this one's for you. A little slow at times, even a little somber, and if you're offended by cigarettes, man, look out (did EVERYone smoke 24/7 back then?) but what a message.
Have you ever stopped yourself from writing an email or sending a note to a newspaper editor (or post a comment on a blog) because you didn't want to get 'marked' as a malcontent? A troublemaker? Someone the government might 'look at' based on your views? Ever do it, but use a fake name and email address? Come on... be honest. That's what it was like back in the early 50's during the 'red scare'. Ask yourself if that's how it feels now as well. Maybe not as much as a couple of years ago, true, but still, it's there.
Ever journalist in America should be required to see this movie. And every blogger and poster on the internet should give it a screening.
I've heard all the 'Mccarthy was right" and 'haven't you heard of the Veronica Project" (a code breaking effort that showed that, indeed, there were actually Russian spies where Mccarthy said there were). I even believe Mccarthy honestly believed what he was doing was right.
But the WAY he went about it was toxic. Using fear and intimidation with the threat of being hauled away or charged and found guilty without a fair hearing on something you've been accused of, that's not the way to celebrate a free and open society. Taking away rights we've fought for, as a nation, for two centuries, that's something to be examined very very closely.
In the end Mccarthy was censored and put 'in the back row' of the Senate. Edward R.Murrow, the leading newsman of his time, had his show taken away and was 'relegated' to Sunday afternoons by CBS. Both battled it out and, in the end, both paid a price.
Sadly, both believed. One believed in freedom, the right to face your accustoms and the belief in innocence until proven guilty. The other believe 'he was right and would prove it by any means necessary.. no backing down, never give up'.
Sound familiar? I think so. And I think a lesson can be learned here, if we only listen. History really does repeat, and, hopefully, it'll repeat all the way to the end this time as well.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Man... looking back at old pictures.. I found some of myself in my teens and 20's the just made me think. Here's a few (scroll down past the current ones and you'll see a much younger version of the same guy):
Same here, but you'll have to scroll a little more:
And as a teaser, here's one, above, of me at 21.
You know you're getting old when you look at a picture of yourself and think: "Was I EVER that young?"
Friday, October 07, 2005
This directory, what we call ‘Get’ (trying to keep it simple don’t ya know) is what draws people to the site. They can find podcasts from all over the internet. And, they can browse ClickCasts (Podcasts created on our site with our software) which brings us to the second function:Create. This is where someone can simply and easily create a Podcast (i.e. ClickCast). We have a built in recorder that’s easy to use and easy yet to publish with. You pick a license type (standard copyright or any of 10 Creative Common’s type licenses) and write up some show notes on what your show’s about that day/week/however often you create one and you hit the publish button.And that’s pretty much it right now. Very simple, Very powerful.
It gives anyone who wants a voice, the ability to have it. And to get their ideas, there music, their whatever they want out into the world in Audio (and eventually, in Video) format.
Call it, social networking, user generated content or even citizen journalism. It’s really about us, the people, creating the content and not being just consumers of content from some centralized content factory in New York or Hollywood. Not that those are bad, or even that they’ll go away (they won’t), but it’s an alternative.
Just like Radio didn’t die when TV came about, I doubt ‘professionally’ created content will go away under the swell of user generation content. But it WILL have to compete with it.
Notice how many recording studios there are today vs. 20 years ago? Maybe 1/10th. Why is that? Well, it’s mostly because the equipment required 20 years ago cost half a million dollars. Today, for under $1000, you can create a multitrack professional studio in your home. Something with 10 times the power of the recording studio’s used by The Beatles to do Sgt. Pepper, for instance.
And that puts the power directly into the hands of the musicians. They no longer need a recording contract and an expensive studio to create a CD. The software’s gotten so powerful, it acts as a sort of idiot savant recording engineer, handling much of the work required to make your music sound professionally produced.
And that’s what ClickCaster is all about, but on a broader scale. Although nascent, it’s similar. YOU can create your own radio show. As broadband becomes ubiquitous, you’ll see more video as well, and user created video shows will become reality.A lot of it will suck. Hell, most of it will, but 3,4 even 5% will be stellar. As good, or better, than some of what passes for content on TV today. And people will know. They’ll find it. And they’ll spend their time listening to, and watching that instead of the radio or TV. It’s happening now. And it’s just starting.. just at the very beginning edge.
We’re really an example of a complete Web 2.0 company. If AOL and Yahoo where Web 1.0, we’re the next generation. Us and hundreds like us. “Point’ solutions that do one thing very well.
These point solutions companies, like ClickCaster, eventually will get bought up by the Web 1.0 companies, or, in some cases, if the VC community get’s religion and figures out this really is real and starts investing in earnest, we’ll see more of these companies go public (something I’d like to do with ClickCaster, although I’m not adverse to being bought by a bigger company that’s smart and can really leverage what ClickCaster’s doing).
I think that’s really the next wave of innovation that you’ll see forming up. User generation content using tools from companies like ClickCaster to change the face of media, information and knowledge. A much more transparent world without the gatekeepers you see today monitoring and controlling what we see and hear and by extension, what we think and believe.
How will we pay for this? Well, Google’s got it pretty much nailed: Advertising. It’s the end all and be all of revenue sources. It paid for radio (and still does). It paid for TV (and for a large part of that world, still does). Advertising is the lifeblood of a free market society and it’s also not going away.
If it can be used to support the creation of things that are good, I say: go with it. Make it happen.
The nay sayers (like Business 2.0 which recently called Podcasting ‘a fad’) just don’t get it. These are the same guys that said ‘who’s going to spend good money on a box to listen to tinny music and stupid comedy shows and soap commercials’ back in the early part of the last century.
All what’s old is new. It doesn’t have to be a highly complex business model to work. Create a directory to draw people to your site.
Make it easy for them to find and subscribe to free content (podcasts)
Entice THEM to also make podcasts while they’re on the site
GROW the listener base AND the creator base into the millions
Sell advertising in the podcasts (to keep them free). People will listen to ads if it means: this is free
Radio’s a $25 billion dollar a year business in the US. And it’s free to listeners, because they agree to listen to the advertising between the content they want to hear.
If you do it right, and you do it well, it’ll work. And it’ll open the world up to an entirely new kind of media. Media created by you and by me. And some of it will be damned good and worth spending your time and your mind on.
It really is a form of revolution, and it’s coming fast.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Sunday, October 02, 2005
You know, being a middle aged bachelor is in some ways just weird. I've been divorced for over 7 years now and, although still single, I wonder why. Well, maybe not all that much. I'm sure if I really wanted to be in a committed relationship or married again, I could be. And it's not like I haven't had girlfriends since being single again (even a serious one, or two). But it just never seems to jell.
I think the reasons some of us (well, me at least) stay single is one of three things.
First, I wonder, as we get older, if we just get used to the being alone. You know, get set in our ways. I like my space. I like being neat, but in a cluttery way. I like having a laptop on a little stand hooked to the internet via wifi in the john. I have a REALLY big cable running from the third floor of my house (and some equipment there) down the staircases to my basement where it's hooked into some more equipment, and that works for me. I like smoking my pipe. I like having a computer, mixer and big black (some would say 'phallic') studio monitors in the living room as my stereo/streaming audio station. I like fast cars. I like the little data center in my basement. (I could go on, but you get the idea). Hell, I'm a guy. It's a 'this is my cave and I like it that way' kind of thing. I eat at odd hours. I sleep when I'm tired and work when I'm awake (which can mean I'm up at 3am and it's, well, normal). You just can't do that if you're not alone. Call it 'the lifestyle' reason.
The second reason, I suspect, has to do with addiction. Or, in my case, the fear of addiction. Being a recovering alcoholic (I've been in AA for 24 years now) I'm REALLY careful about anything that feels like addiction. I have to be in major pain just to take an aspirin... anything that's mood altering is suspect. what sparked an understand of this is when I saw a study recently that compared someone's MRI scan's when they were shown a picture of the person they were 'madly in love with' to a heroin addicts MRI. Identical. The same areas of the brain become highly active when you're minds eye see's the love of your life, and when you shoot up. I often wonder if this is one of the reasons I'm still single. The feeling of being in love has alot of similarities to drug and alcohol addiction. My subconscious senses it and slows it down. Call this one "the remaining free of addiction for reasons that aren't very logical" reason.
This, by the way, is something of a bullshit reason. But it’s also a visceral reaction on my (or any recovering drunks) part. One I’ve only really begun to understand fairly recently. So, maybe, we can take that one out of the running as it becomes better understood and within the conscious mind instead of lurking down there deep in the subconscious.
The third reason, and I think this is the most common, has to do with The List. You know the list... 'the person I'm looking for has these traits... 1, 2, 3...' and down the list you go. This list get's REALLY long as you age. And it becomes more difficult as time passes to find 'the one' that fits that list (or even some of it). Women, I suspect, do this more than men (make a list) but we do it too. Women, also, I'd bet, compromise more than men do on that list. Maybe I'm way off base on that last comment, but there's no doubt women are the more balanced and reasonable (as a group, although I've known some individuals that wouldn't fit the bill) of the sexes. Call this the 'ever lengthening list of traits I’m looking for' reason.
When we’re younger, and our list is shorter, we find ourselves with someone that's close to fitting the list, or reasonably close. And even though we may not be 'happy' (whatever happy really means in a relationship), we stay. Even as, over time, they change, we change, the list gets longer and the differences become wide and deep. Sometimes we stay because of money and material comforts we'd lose if we didn't stay. Often it's because of children (a good reason). Many of my middle aged male friends get divorced 'once the kids are gone'. And it's not to run off and find some 25 year old blonde babe. It's more often their wifes divorcing them. They've given 20 years of their life to this man and these children and, damn it, it's their turn. But men do it too (and some do buy a motorcycle and hit the bar scene, but less then you’d suspect).
If you've remained friends over that time, it works. But if you've lost that friendship part of the relationship, I think it's doomed long term.
I have many friends, and many more acquaintances. Some are women, some are men. Some I've known for decades. Back before I was married, some of the women would, from time to time, become lovers, then not, but still friends I wonder why those never turned into more. Some almost did... but one of those three reasons (or sometimes two or all three) would kick in and keep me single. Sometimes it was them evoking one of the three reasons.
Ahh.. who the hell knows.
Someday it’ll happen, and it’ll be because I’m not worried about it or actively gearing my life toward looking for it, but beting open to it regardless.
I’m a day at a time guy. Yesterdays gone. Learn from it, but don’t dwell on it. Tomorrow’s not here. Plan for it, but don’t obsess about it. Today is here, and it’s pretty much the only real thing there is. So, whatever you have in that day, that moment, that’s life. That’s our real life.
I’ve got today, and I think I’ll take full advantage of it while it’s here.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
I'm sitting here in the hotel that I first sat in back in 87 when I interviewed at Apple Computer, about a 1/2 block up the street. Back then I was full of fire and passion for Apple and for technology. I was hired and I had a great time.
Here I am, 18 years later. Many of the people I worked with back then have gone on to great financial and personal success. Many are independently wealthy (some at an extreme level). Many are still just regular joes working for 'the man'. Some are just scraping buy.
I had a chance to sit down with one of these folks for a quick bite and a chat. He's in his mid 40's. He and I worked together for, I don't know, 3 years (?) on eWorld at Apple. He went on to form a startup (internet bandwidth manipulation hardware) and cashed out just before the bubble burst (well, cashed out 'enough') and kept the company going (it was 'real'.. i.e. not a flaky concept company as many where back then). He's now semi-retired, altough still active in his company by being on the board.
He's clearly a happy guy. Married. 3 great kids. Wonderful wife (who I also know). By all measures, a very successful liffe.
Another guy who I worked with, in the same group at the same time, about my age, and who should have been the guy (out of all of us at Apple during that time) that went on to mega-billions and global fame sort of flamed out. Lives in a condo in the Valley here. Runs a small consulting firm. Divorced. Single. Doing ok, nothing special. His work is the same stuff he was doing10 years ago when he left Apple, just smaller in scale. Although I didn't talk to him personally, several others who know us both have told me pretty much the same story. He cheated, got caught, got divorced, got fleeced and is now 'a regular guy' just living a life like everyone else.
Not so bad, really, but far far less than the dreams he had.
I'm sort of inbetween these two. Also had the dreams, never cashed out for millions, but I'm OK moneywise. Can't retire, but can be picky about what I do and not work for long stretches if I want. Like my friend above, I divorce (although for different reasons... one was she had already spent everything we had before the divorce, after the divorce was done I was better off than when I was married). But similar.
I passed on several startup opportunities, and several bigger company but still higher risk jobs that all would have put me into the 'very wealthy' area if I'd taken them over the trajectory I chose.
So, who's really happier? My rich buddy or my working but single and somewhat happy buddy?
Is having a family vs. not having a family directly related, somehow, to this wealth and happiness thing?
The evidence says: yes. If you're married with kids, and you've got your timing down reasonably well, you're much more likely to be one of the guys who cashes out at the right time and does the early retirement thing (or goes on to do REALLY big stuff, like what Google's doing right now.. creating, in effect, a privately owned, publically available global internet subnet).
I guess I just wonder if my trajectory, considering I'm an undisciplined college dropout, is one I'm really happy with.
All things considered. Yes. I am happy with how things are and where they're going. I have a fun consulting gig that pays well and doesn't control all my time. I have a startup company that's building a great product that I think can change the face of audio and eventually, video media and I work with some really interesting and fun people.
I don't want for anything material, but, I do miss my son and that family thing that I had a taste of, but didn't really get to fully experience. Now, at 47, it's really too late to start that one again. Yea, I know, I could, but I also know I wouldn't be happy doing it from scratch. I really do enjoy the freedom of being single and doing and going where I want when I want now. It's a trade off, certainly, but one I think is the right choice.
So, I continue on my original mission I set for myself decades ago: The leave this world just a little better than it was when I came into it.
And with that said.. off to another day of doing my best to make the world 'just a little better'.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
And here you have Mecca. Well, sort of. For those of you that are Apple Computer inclined, this is a view of the man entrance to 1 Infinite Loop.. the main Apple Campus. This is where your precious iPod was invented and where your operating system lives. Interestingly, as soon as I snapped this picture, a white jeep with rent a cop lights pulled up behind me told me to CUT IT OUT... even when I explained: hey.. I worked here for a decade and this is for my blog. He didn't care. Guess I'm going to learn some sort of super secret bit of knowledge by looking at the building from a quater mile away. Go figure.
Here's where my life at Apple started. Building six on the Apple Campus in Cupertino. I find myself, this week, in the area that I spent about 10 years of my life while working at Apple Computer. This is the building that I spent the first 5 years in. DeAnza Six. Interestingly, Apple was the most fun (and the first 5 years the most fun of my time at Apple) that I've had in my adult work life. There was more IQ per square foot at Apple in those days then anywhere on the planet. And more creativity. And, damn, more highly intelligent/educated beautiful (under 30, everyone's beautiful it seems) people that I can remember ever seeing anywhere. And, of course, we were all single and having sex in the stairwells between meetings.
Ahh.. life in Silicon Valley back in the good old days.
To all you company's using rebates on your products to get people to buy things.
We know it's bull. We know you only deliver on a small percentage of rebates sent in. We know it's a scam.
When I see a 1GB SD card for 'only' $39 (after rebates) I skip right on by. I ignore the ad, delete the email and keep walking by the disply. I know I have, if I'm lucky, a 1 in 5 chance of getting that $50 rebate. That, assuming I go to the trouble of filling out the paperwork, finding the secret bar code on the box and including my original reciept and mailing it to you. Actually getting around to filling out the rebate is only a 50/50 chance thing for me anyway, so that lowers my chances to 1 in 10 of getting that money back.
And, if it's a small rebate, it's even less likely I'll get around to it.
So quit thinking we're fooled by this stupid scam.
When I buy a product nowadays, I NEVER EVER count the rebate into the price. I always figure the price to be WHAT I PAY AT THE REGISTER or ONLINE CHECKOUT CART. Period.
Here is a partial list of companies that have denied me a rebate for reasons that simply make no sense (like: you didn't include the right version of the bar code, even though there was only ONE on the box):
Best Buy (the worst)
CompUSA (the 2nd worst)
Linksys (the 3rd worst)
Toshiba (the 4th worst)
Best Buy (did I mention BEST BUY)...
Don't bother guys. We know it's a scam. And we're dead sick and tired of it.
Sunday, September 18, 2005
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Finally... after months, we finally went beta.
We started this in Jan, but we didn't have a development team with the right set of skills. It wasn't until about 2 and half months ago we got the right guys in. Shaun found Matt, Tony and Brandt and man, what a team. In 60 days they've moved mountains and we're about 90% of the way to a basic product. Beautiful.
Check it out at: www.clickcaster.com
Use the invitation code: revolution
(you'll need that code to get an account set up for at least the next few weeks.. open beta sometime in October).
Sunday, August 28, 2005
Saturday, August 27, 2005
Monday, August 15, 2005
My younger brother Craig. Standing under near the Boulder Court House down on Pearl Street. He's an architect by trade and has a thing for these art deco buildings. That's a fountain on the right (I think.. that or a pillar of glass that's in the process of shattering).
Sunday, August 14, 2005
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
My buddy Macon Cowles, in the act, running for City Council here in Boulder, Colorado.
Macon's one of those lawyers who actually makes a difference, does the right thing and has the right motivations. I wish him loads of luck (and plan on helping him get elected). We need more people like this involved in politics, be it local, state or national.
Me? I'm hoping this is just the first step in a long political career for Macon. He's already, in my book, got more class, better ideas and a smarter approach to how you go about making society a better place than the folks we have in the senate today. But, one step at a time. I'm sure, if he reads this, he'll laugh at the thought. Hopefully, with time, he'll see he's the kind of guy we want (hell, that we NEED) in real positions of influence in American government.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Sunday, July 24, 2005
Penny Lane. Dead and gone. One of Boulders most unique coffee houses.. Around for decades. Home of poets and musicians. Hang out for the weird of Boulder.
There are a few communities in the country that attract 'interesting' people. Boulder is one of those towns. These folks tend to be creative and non traditional thinkers. Sometimes they look like your next door neighbor, sometimes they look like their homeless (and sometimes, they are) but they ARE interesting and unique people.
Penny Lane was one of the places that people like this in Boulder congregated. Go there for a cup of coffee and you were bound to run into an old friend, or a local university prof, an author of a book you'd just read or a musican in a band you might have seen at one of the local venues during the past weekend. It was a meeting place and a small community all onto itself.
And it's gone. The landlord didn't like the 'element' (people) that the place attracted. And that reflects back to what's happening to Boulder (and to many 'weird' places in the US): Gentrification. The rich. Average income of a Boulderite is $150K a year. Average age: 29.
Think about that.
Lot's of youth, lots of healthy people (Boulder has the lowest BMI/body fat index, per capita, in the USA), lots of money.
Oddly, that combination tends to push out the different, the unique and the slightly mad. What, you're not a marathon running, rich beautiful person?? Well then, get the hell out of town.
I've seen some bumper stickers around town lately that say "Keep Boulder Weird". Amen, but good luck. It's hard to fight the economics.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
The global access to information that's exploded via the internet and tools like Google have made it possible. So, what's that mean to people? Well, what it does off the cuff is negate the need for consultants. Who needs em? ANY person within a company or institution that has any brains and can use the tools can be as knowledgeable on the data of a subject within hours as someone with a PhD in computer science or nanotechnology. It's the EDITORSHIP of that information that has value. If you've got context and knowledge in your mind that others don't have, knowledge that allows you to create connections between what appear to be disparate bits of unrelated data, you've created information.
Now, wrap your own experience in an industry, it's players, it's politics and it's marketplace all together, you've taken that information, and you've transformed it into knowledge. If you're able to effectively communicate it to others (or yourself) in a way that's understandable and actionable, well, you've just taken the leap to wisdom. Data->Information->Knowledge->Wisdom. Funny, I started this post out thinking that Google made everyone as effective as a high powered consultant or company executive and that people, even knowledge workers, where really just becoming cogs in a bigger mechanism.
As I write, I change my mind. The fear we American's have of outsourcing our 'information workers' to India or China is really not a threat. You can't take the big picture and shove it down the minds of programmers in Bangladesh. That set of knowledge is too broad and too tied to relationships and politics to transfer. And that set of knowledge, propertly combined into one or a few minds, is where the creative juice to make things happen, happens. So, fear not o smart folk of the world. You are not going to be outsourced anytime soon. You ARE going to have to use more of your mind and your skills, particularly the skill of communication. SGC
Thursday, July 14, 2005
Sunday, July 10, 2005
Shaun at Chili's. He wouldn't eat, but he'll drink a beer. We were meeting with one of the guys that's interested in being a developer for ClickCaster (known as RadioActive Milo by some of us, and as Tony by the world at large). Shaun's our security guy, IT and admin as well as taking a leading role in the development of the ClickCaster podcasting client and tools. Good stuff.
The best podcasting setup yet. It's an MXL battery powered pro level condenser mic with 1/8th inch plug adapter ($99) and the iRiver MP3 player recorder (model number: IFP-889 1GB-$179). What's cool about this setup is it's extremely portable and gives recording studio level quality for under $300 (retail!). Battery life on the mic is months (9v battery) and on the iRiver it's 40 hours (rated) for a single AA battery.
Saturday, July 09, 2005
Mod Mar, our resident body art/mod expert (and ClickCaster visual creative goddess) having a 'creative insight moment'. Or she's knocking that spider out of her ear... can't tell. Mar's the ClickCaster artist and webmistress. She takes the magic Cleo, our interface designer, creates and she adds her own spin to it, making it beautiful on the web. She's an accomplished artist in her own right and she's learning how to cartoon (see the rprn.org site from some of her work at: http://www.rprn.org:8080/entertherabbit.html and http://www.rprn.org:8080/mediamasters.html )
The RPRN.ORG recording studio and streaming station in the basement development lab. This is where we put out The Boulder Sound stream on the internet (www.thebouldersound.com) and where we create podcast shows. 3 mixers, a Mac Mini and two windows XP boxes hooked into a T1 with some audio compression gear and that old stuff.. CD Players down under the table on the left.
Evil Bob in ClickCaster's basement development lab. This is Bob's home away from home. He's the master of streaming radio (making it happen and creating some of the most offbeat shows you can imagine, like the Uncle Mammy show, infamous in it's day) and has some experience with that underground radio stuff you hear about from time to time. We've worked on a range of projects over the years and our latest, Clickcaster.com is proving to be fun. He's our prototype guy and in charge of all our systems and systems engineering.
Friday, July 08, 2005
Best bud Joe. Thanks for dinner man. Next one's on me. I think he's contemplating that 2 lb burger he just ate. Joe's a founder in a local RFID company and a cohart in many 'interesting' activities over the last few years here in Boulder having to do with various radio operations. He's an EE and a master RF (radio frequency) dude extraordinaire. Used to climb mountains for a living. Just your average JOE (ha! Couldn't resist).