Frakking DO something
Monday, November 10, 2008
My Dad was in WWII (barely... he was 17 when he joined and it was the last year of the war) and he's got some pretty interesting stories about Japan after the surrender. I think this was the last time the world, as a whole, had to sacrifice and work together.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
If Ms. Todd’s allegations are proven accurate, some voters may revisit their support for Senator Obama, not because they are racists (with due respect to Rep. John Murtha), but because they suddenly feel they do not know enough about the Democratic nominee.
I think Fox News just called the Election for Obama.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
I can't say I love Colin, not after his show at the UN claiming 'Iraq has WMD's', But this helps. And, he is definitely a Republican that other Republicans and conservative independents listen to.
I also think his statement that Obama's a , has always been a but, what if he wasn't? Why would it matter... is so dead on, so obvious and so the right thing, I have to say: hats off to the man. It's about time someone stood up for what America really stands for.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
as of 10/16/08.
If Crude Oil is $148.00 a barrel, and Gas Prices are around $3.95 a gallon,
Wouldn't it make sense that when Crude Oil get's down to $72.70 a barrel, that Gas Prices would be around $1.98 a gallon?
Makes sense eh?
I'm seeing...... $3.09 (lowest price) here in Boulder.
When Crude Oil prices go up, the price at the pump goes up, next day at the latest.
How much is gas at your gas station?
Thursday, October 09, 2008
Apparently, this is Sarah Palin's IQ as a high school student.
The original is here. It's a background report on Sarah Palin.
Her SAT scores are bottom of page 3. IQ scores top of page 4.
Monday, October 06, 2008
There's an excellent interview with Warren Buffet up on Charlie Rose's site.
This is the full interview (almost an hour) but worth it. He isn't called the Sage of Omaha for nothing.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
They invest in people.
You have at most 18 minutes to get the idea across.
First, You have to get across Integrity (straight shooter).
Second, Passion for what you're doing.
Third, Experience. Serial entrepreneurs are favored.
Forth, Knowledge and domain expertise.
Fifth, Skills to get a company going.
Sixth, Leadership, to get the full set of skills in place to run the company
Seventh, Commitment, to stay to the very end.
Start like a rocket. 10 seconds to grab them.
From there, a solid steady upward graph that gets better and better that knocks it out of the park at the end. Never skip a step or go backwards. think "Logical Progression".
Provide touchstones like referencing companies the Angel or VC might know of, give them outside validation, things the potential investors knows of and can touch on.
An upside and believable. Show both. "$1m revenue is 3 years' isn't an upside "$1B in 24 months" isn't believable.
Never say things that aren't true. Ever. If you do, 1/2 of what you've said and will say will be discounted (no one's done this before is a good example).
Treat them like a 6th grader, walking them through it, but don't be condescending. Tricky, but essential.
Typos will kill the deal: how do you run a company if you can't run spell check?
Steve Jobs is the master at this. Watch him and learn. (Yea, I know I bash Apple a lot, but it's only because I love them. If I didn't care, I wouldn't say anything).
He then goes into a step by step on the presentation itself.
Top five tips for the presenter:
Always use presenter mode
Always use remote controls (don't touch the computer)
Handouts are NOT the presentation. The handout stands without you.
Do not read your speech
Never, ever, look at the screen. You're connecting with the audience first and foremost.
Worth every second of the 14 minutes and 39 seconds that it runs.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Think we're not?
Freddie and Fannie= Owned by the government. Controls over 1/2 of the mortgages in America.
A.I.G.= Owned by the government. Insures a huge percentage (globally) of all the 'mortgage debt instruments'.
And we're being dumb about it.
Sunday- A.I.G. asks for a $40Billion loan to stave off a change in it's credit rating.
Monday- Fed's say no. Monday night: Credit agencies lower A.I.G.'s credit rating
Tuesday- A.I.G. says it may have to liquidate. Tuesday night: Fed says, no no.. here's $85 Billion
$85 Billion vs. $40 Billion.
Why did it happen? The short answer appears to be the Fed's tried to scare the existing players (Goldmans, etc.) into funding A.I.G. and lost the stare down.
The cost to you and me? $45 billion.
Thursday, September 04, 2008
For decades the US has been on the leading edge of information technology (I.T.) and this has driven our economy (and the worlds) to new heights of prosperity, but it's soon to be the 2nd most important industry.
Energy is where it's at this century. The age of cheap energy is over and finding, developing and deploying (mostly) renewable energy sources is where the action will be. Thomas Friedman (NYT columnist and book author) calls this Energy Technology or E.T.
The railroads lost the battle to the auto/truck makers in the middle of the last century by thinking of their business as 'trains' and not 'transportation'.
The Oil companies of today are doing the same exact thing (and recruiting the politicians, like McCain's VP pick: Palen).
It's about ENERGY, not Oil. Investing only in an energy source with a finite supply is a waste of investment.
It's too bad today's Big Oil guys don't get that they're in the Energy business... not, just, the Oil business. They have the money to make the transition, at least today. But they won't in 10 years.
Big Oil is going the route of the train giants of yesteryear: focusing only on today and not investing for tomorrow.
Monday, September 01, 2008
Brilliant! Simple! Obvious! Why the hell didn't I think of this?
Seth Godin, a guy who really gets the world in ways many don't, recently needed some interns (paid...so he was hoping for a good response) and boy did he get that response. Over 150+ applied from around the world. Then, he tried something clever, and very obvious, but to my knowledge not done before, to help filter them down to the 5 he'd actually hire: He started a facebook group.
Unable to just pick a PDF or two, I invited the applicants to join a Facebook group I had set up. Then I let them meet each other and hang out online.Did I say brilliant? Brilliant. He only needed five (paid) but also thought, what the hell, let's set up some unpaid virtual intern work using basecamp, see who signs up. Over 60 of the original 150+ applicants did and good things happened.
It was absolutely fascinating. Within a day, the group had divided into four camps:
* The game-show contestants, quick on the trigger, who were searching for a quick yes or no. Most of them left.
* The lurkers. They were there, but we couldn't tell.
* The followers. They waited for someone to tell them what to do.
* The leaders. A few started conversations, directed initiatives and got to work.
Want to guess who I hired? (It was a paid gig and five ended up spending time with me in NY on a somewhat rolling basis). If you're hiring for people to work online, I can't imagine not screening people in this way. This is the work, and you can watch people do it for real before you hire them.
Original/full Post here.
Friday, August 29, 2008
Judy Estrin, who has built several Silicon Valley companies and was the chief technology officer of Cisco Systems, says Silicon Valley is in trouble. In a new book, “Closing the Innovation Gap,” which will be in bookstores Tuesday, she writes that the valley’s problems are symptomatic of a crisis in innovation facing the country as a whole.I have to agree, but it's not just Silicon Valley. Unfortunately, I'm learning this from direct personal experience with my own startup.
We started as ClickCaster, a podcasting platform that was veryy good at making it simple to create and publish an audio or video podcast. We built a great product and great team. We did everything 'right', but podcasting, so far, hasn't become a business. So, about 6 months ago, we sold it to a company down in Texas (the URL, userbase and a license for the software). We kept the software and intellectual property as well as the team that built it and brought in some new business folks that really understand video.
We created a new company called Medioh and started work on what I call Broadband Social Television. Everyone we've talked to says it's the right thing and the right direction, including customers, and we've got a big jump on it with years of experience dealing with media on the web (creating it, aggregating it and distributing it with a social networking twist).
We want to augment, or better yet, replace, much of the existing media infrastructure with web based solutions. Tools, content and social sharing aspects... all at an order of magnitude less cost to implement, but with the same really big advertising revenues associated with traditional television.
The problem is, it's a swing for the fence kind of play.
There's significant competition, and, the huge legacy media companies think they know what's going o. Some do, but most don't. It just scares the hell out of investors because it's obvious there are only going to be a few winners.
In a word: A Bit-O-Chaos.
I love chaos. Within chaos lies massive opportunity, if you've got the ramp/resources to sniff it out and make it real.
We're as well positioned as anyone to do that (better than most) and we've started the conversation with VC's, but we're not getting alot of traction. Granted, it's early days, but the initial discussions, to date, aren't as encouraging as i'd like.
The market meltdown hasn't helped and, potentially, has killed off pretty much all the potential funding. People are afraid.
As Judy says, the 'big' plays scare today's investors. They're looking for the short term win.
Ms. Estrin traces Silicon Valley’s troubles to the tech boom. She said that’s when entrepreneurs and venture capitalists started focusing more on starting companies to turn around and sell them and less on building successful companies for the long term.
“Starting in 1998, there was such a shift in Silicon Valley toward chasing money and short-term returns,” she said.For us, I suspect some of the problem comes from the "ITV" or "IPTV" push 10 years ago that failed so miserably. Billions where spent and it didn't take off. Everyone thought it would take a year or two and viola! we'd have webtv everywhere.
As Bill Gates says, we tend to overestimate what will happen in the next year, and underestimate what will happen in the next 10 years. He was so right.
It's been 10 years since the boondoggle of internet video from the late 90's, and the infrastructure, audience, technology and inclination is now very much there and very real.
But the money guys are afraid. They remember (or have heard) the late 90's horror stories and don't want to take the risk.
And as the article says her book implies, it's a broad problem.
Our fund raising situation? I think, we're just a symptom.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Boulder is running a scam on it's citizens and as far as I'm concerned it's a form of parking ticket enforcement fraud.
Know what this feels like? It feels like a revenue generating operation that's a tiny bit like a protection racket.
In an approx. 30 day period from mid June to mid July, the meter maids gave me three $15 tickets, and within 45 days of the last ticket, turned it into $180 in fines and booted my car (another $40 charge). $220.00.
Not a bad hall for 3 slips of paper and 6 minutes of meter maid time. How many times does this happen in a day? How much revenue does this generate for the city?
What' the ROI for the city? I'm betting: really really good.
Interestingly, this was all with zero warning. No letters (at least none that I got), no warning stickers on the car, nothing.
Apparently, Boulder enforces the 'laws of the state' around parking much more stringently than it does, for instance, laws about smoking pot in public (ever been to the annual '420' event?). I'm not against the 420, but it's "against the law" too. Do they get 'tickets'? Nope.
Sooo... what heinous crime did my car commit?
I have no front license plate. The reason is there is no place to put it (no plate holder , no holes for screws). I just got it a few months ago and haven't gotten around to buying a drill and putting the front plate on yet.
This is one of those 'you have to look for it' kind of tickets. You have to walk around the car and look for no plate. I park in the same general area downtown and apparently I've caught the eye of the meter maid who own this particular turf.
Why the need for front license plates? I think it has to do with red light cameras that take a picture of your front license plate and send you a really big fine in the mail. Apparently cities all over the country (like Boulder) are adding more of these cameras to their red lights and shortening the yellow light span to produce more tickets.
Oh.. you think a city would never do that? Think again:
In fact, six U.S. cities have been found guilty of shortening the yellow light cycles below what is allowed by law on intersections equipped with cameras meant to catch red-light runners. Those local governments have completely ignored the safety benefit of increasing the yellow light time and decided to install red-light cameras, shorten the yellow light duration, and collect the profits instead.Boulder uses traffic tickets to create substantial amounts of revenue. They sent out over 10,000 red light tickets last year alone.
Back to parking tickets.
Normally I pay things like parking tickets right away (simplifies life) but these three tickets got put into a cubby hole and I simply forgot about them. Simple human mistake.
I don't even mind paying a penalty. Say, 25% of the value of the ticket....but $180 for $45 in parking tickets? All within 60 days of getting the tickets and then booting my car with no warning?
What the hell is that about? That's about 1600% annual interest rate. Even the IRS doesn't dream of doing something that outrageous. The only people that get rates like that are loan sharks and, last time I looked, that's illegal.
And booting the car with no warning? That's the municipal equivalent of a loan shark 'breaking an arm' until you pay up.
If a business tried all that they'd be brought up on modified RICO charges.
I'm getting a new bumper sticker made up:
Boulder: Bring your pot but don't f**k with our meter maids.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
I don't mean this in the political sense, I mean it in the 'how we do business' sense.
I've noticed that Apple simply never, ever, says it's sorry. It also never admits it's wrong without being called on it, repeatedly, by many sources, over days or weeks (sometimes months). The latest example being the 3G phones unreliability and the MobileMe online service outages and outright failures.
Apple is also the most secretive company in the business. everything is a secret, even inside the company with product teams working on the same product. It's compartmentalized and everyone is isolated from everyone else (outside of their immediate group). Sound a bit like our current administration? Just a little?
I've also noticed that all the latest "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" ads, although cute, funny and fluffy, are negative ads. Negative in the sense of attack ads, similar to what the Republican's do so very well.
I know.. it's a stretch, but comparing the Rovian Republican attack ads to Apple ad's that have the PC guy doing most of the talking, usually pointing out what's wrong with the PC or the OS, vs. having the Apple guy talk about what's good about itself seems like a reasonably fair comparison.
The only difference is Apple does it with a sense of wry humor .. all soft and fluffy... vs the lead pipe/scare the hell out of you Republican approach. Same result though: You're left with the kind of residual feeling that the other guy's a loser and not to be trusted (or purchased over an Apple product).
Have you seen a positive Republican advertisement lately?
Watch the Apple Ads. Have you seen a positive Apple ad for the Mac (that's not denigrating the PC somehow) lately?
And the similarities between the control freak Jobs and the control freak Cheney are alot closer than any of the Mac Fanboys would ever want to admit.
I'm bi-computational. I own two Mac's and an iPhone. I also own several PC's. I use them all for different things. Apple makes an overall great product. I'm not really attacking the products there, I'm criticizing the company itself, and it's way of doing business, more than anything.
I could also expand this a bit more into the 'elite' (meaning: Rich/Republican) vs. 'everyday joe' (meaning: Average/Everyman/Democrat) argument and make a pretty convincing case for how PC's, which are cheap, ubiquitous, easy to repair (or just replace) are the every day joe computer where the Mac is (perceived as) expensive, difficult to upgrade/repair and generally embraced by more of the rich elite, but, being the Libertarian Hippie that I am, i won't go any farther with that line of thought.
So, add it up: Denying problems that are obvious to everyone, ignoring problems and not addressing them unless the press exposes them over and over and then doing something minor to create the idea that you're trying to alleviate the pain, but still not admitting fault; obsessive secrecy about everything they do both inside the organization and in what's presented outside and, finally, attacking your opponents relentlessly via attack ads sounds a lot to me like business as usual for the Republicans.
And now, if you just stop a minute and think about, Apple Inc as well.
Steve Jobs may be a far left Buddhist/democrat, but his company looks very Republican to me.
UPDATE: How to upgrade a Mac (click for original):
Thursday, August 14, 2008
About a year ago, Google bought Feedburner, an RSS tracking system that did a very nice job of creating advertising revenue for RSS powered content. Google announced they'd shut it down a few days ago.
Why would Google spend a reported $100M on a company and then, a year later, shut it down? I don't think they transferred that business to their adsense network (Allen Stern, in the video above, agrees with me here).
I suspect this was an example of a big company seeing that a small company had something very innovative, were first movers and were creating an 'alternative' ad network to adsense on Google.
Having worked in some really big companies I've seen this kind of behavior over and over so it's possible I'm being overly cynical ... Maybe I'm giving Google too much credit for thinking into the future and being a little bit evil here. But, maybe not.
I'm effectively saying that Google bought Feedburner with the intention of, eventually, shutting it down. They did it in a way that bought off the digitari so their image as 'not like other big companies' would be held intact. Feedburner folks and it's investors were well paid and, in the end, that's what makes for a lot of positive buzz in the blogosphere. I find this to be the goodness part of this. Unlike some companies that smash small startups that might threaten them, this IS, in a oddly mercenary way, a 'nice' way to shut down a budding competitor.
I still think it's sad though. Dick and gang put a lot of mental horsepower and hard work into creating a great company and a compelling product. I'm sorry to see it go.
The good news is without a similar product that provides similar functionality and monitization levels to take it's place at Google (adsense is not that product) someone, somewhere, can now do it again.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Every so often, I read a blog post that makes me go 'wow' and sticks with me long and hard. Posts like that are rare so when I run across them I believe it's important others have the opportunity to read them as well.
Jamie Larue just wrote such a post called "Uncle Bobby's Wedding".
The subject matter is a childrens book about gay marriage, but it could be about any idea that one person or group of persons disagrees with and doesn't feel should be made available to another group (in this case, children aged 2-7). It addresses the importance of free speech and open thought. He's addressing libraries, but it extends well beyond that to any free speech be it in a library, or on the internet.
"Our whole system of government was based on the idea that the purpose of the state was to preserve individual liberties, not to dictate them. The founders uniformly despised many practices in England that compromised matters of individual conscience by restricting freedom of speech. Freedom of speech – the right to talk, write, publish, discuss – was so important to the founders that it was the first amendment to the Constitution – and without it, the Constitution never would have been ratified."It's an incredibly well thought out and respectful response that I find, in our polarized world, sadly lacking in the public discussion of ideas.
"Finally, then, I conclude that “Uncle Bobby's Wedding” is a children's book, appropriately categorized and shelved in our children's picture book area. I fully appreciate that you, and some of your friends, strongly disagree with its viewpoint. But if the library is doing its job, there are lots of books in our collection that people won't agree with; there are certainly many that I object to. Library collections don't imply endorsement; they imply access to the many different ideas of our culture, which is precisely our purpose in public life."Bravo Mr. Larue. You have, again, reinforced my belief that The Librarians of the world are our shock troops for free speech and the dissemination of ideas and open discussion.
Saturday, August 02, 2008
Rebecca McKinnon did a great post on Silicon Valley's benevolent dictatorship. Personally, I think she nailed it. To a large degree, she exposed how a large number of high tech people tend to think about this space. Benevolent Dictatorships are, indeed, largely what creates great companies in Silicon Valley. I won't go into her take on the downside of that, read her post. It's worth it.
The guys over at Techdirt, not to be outdone, write a post about Rebecca's post that adds an important additional side note in the last couple of paragraphs about the cross pollination of people and ideas is one main reason Silicon Valley tends to be so successful. These two things, based on my 20 plus years of observing it and 10 years actually living there, make up a large part of why Silicon Valley succeeds beyond the obvious things talked about and copied by other areas many times before (money from VC's and Angels, access to universities, quality of life, etc.).
So....Benevolent Dictators and Cross Pollination of technology, people and ideas. Really really important.
Can you apply that formula to a place like Boulder, Colorado? A town that fancies itself many things, one of which is a '2nd tier' startup capital, alongside towns like Austin, Portland and Seattle?
I think you can, but I don't think, in Boulder at least, it looks the same.
Our benevolent dictators seem to also be our Money People. The VC's and Angel investors that make startups here possible. They don't act like Steve Jobs, they're far more subtle, but the effect is very similar. What they say goes, and what they want happens. This is certainly not a bad thing, but it's a real thing. We have no Apple like companies in Boulder, it's just not big enough, so a different configuration of a similar model seems to have formed up.
On the second point of cross pollination, I'm not sure we do as good a job. This is due mostly to scale.. we just don't have it here, and it's also who our benevolent dictators are.
Even 'Northern Colorado'....bringing Denver/Ft. Collins/Loveland/Longmont/Greely into it we don't have near the same number of high tech folks or money people as The Valley (I'm not counting Colorado Springs in here because Colorado Springs is to the rest of Colorado what Texas is to the US).
But, it's also partly due to our money people, or rather, our lack of them. Generally, VC's and even Angels are not overly keen on their companies hiring employee's away from each other. This is very understandable because, in a small company, a key person leaving can be devastating to that small companies progress. Because we have far fewer money people in Colorado than Silicon Valley has, there's alot more talk among the startup people running the companies about how 'VC X' really hates it when you hire someone from his/her company.
If that money person is already involved in your company, you don't want to do something to upset them. And, due to the size of the money pool being limited in this area, if that money person isn't involved with your company, chances are you'll want them to be, or at the very least have something nice to say about you, so, again, you don't want to do anything to upset any of those money people. This gives them a disproportionate level of influence (back to Benevolent Dictatorships) on the startup world in our area.
This isn't a Boulder problem alone, it's any area that doesn't have a big enough VC/Angel population which is pretty much anywhere but Silicon Valley.
Unfortunately, this creates a low level fear of hiring from other startups (i.e. limiting cross pollination) if they're involved with (or want to be) some of the bigger VC or Angel folks in the community.
In a smaller ecosystem like Boulder (or even Northern Colorado), that has a real dampening effect on cross pollination, one of the key features of Silicon Valley's success.
I don't have an answer here short of getting several dozen VC's and several hundred Angels to move to Boulder. And I'm not saying Boulder is a bad place for startups (it's actually very very good) but, the components that make Silicon Valley so successful don't yet exist here in Boulder (or by what I can tell anywhere else) and until that happens, The Valley will rule.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
I can't really think of any other explaination for what happened at CBS.
Apparently, McCain pulled a blooper during a CBS news interview by mixing up his timelines around 'The Surge' in Iraq which is actually a big story in itself (since he seems to be basing all his credibility on it) but the real story, for me, was how CBS, effectively, covered up the mistake.
Thank god for MSNBC madman (corporate newsroom speak for 'TruthSayer') Keith Oberman. He took the original footage, and the modified footage and played them side by side. Here's the Clip:
Of course, this is getting a much larger audience on the internet then when it was aired on MSNBC. If you want the facts, on demand, the internet is the place to go.
This isn't about McCain, I'm not picking on him.
What I'm astounded at is the CBS Evening News changing the content of an interview with a presidential candidate to make him look less foolish when he made a major mistake on camera.
So I have to ask: What's to keep them from doing the same thing in reverse: make McCain, or Obama, look bad.
I mean... why not? Where's the rule book that says 'you can change the content of an interview to make a presidential candidate seem better, but not worse'?
So you can bet they'll be making presidential candidates look bad using fairly blatant manipulation like the clip of CBS's clumsy editing above.
And this means that the main stream media (not just CBS, but all of the majors.... NBC, ABC, CNN, FOX... etc.) get the 'are you bullshitting me again' filter applied. Hell, if CBS is doing it, how can the others NOT be doing it? Even if they aren't, it's what people will think.
I know this because, now, it's what I think. I can't trust what I'm seeing with my own eyes from the big news guys anymore.
When the MSM blows what little credibility it has, that's it.
The internet wins.
I'll bet Walter Cronkite is really really pissed right now.
Friday, July 04, 2008
Spend a little over 14 minutes then and at least listen to it.
Monday, June 30, 2008
The Pirates Dilemma
How Youth Culture is Reinventing Capitalism
Or put another way: much of the worlds innovation was created by Pirates.
You can download a copy of it here.
Did you know Jankes was the word for pirates back in the 18th and 19th century? Its where the work Yanks came from because Americans were considered the most piratical bootlegging nation on earth. They stole, copied and ignored copyrights and patents. They looked alot like China of the 1990s, and Japan of the 1970s.
Did you know Hollywood is a bunch of pirates? Yep. Edison invented filmmaking and demanded a licensing fee from anyone making movies with his tech. What happened? A band of filmmaking pirates, including one named William, left New York for the then still wild west where they thrived, unlicensed, until Edison's patents expired. Williams last name? Fox.
CableTV: Same beginnings. In 1948 when Cable TV started, cable companies refused to pay the networks for broadcasting their content. For over 30 years operated like a primiative illegal file sharing network.
Excellent short video on the subject here:
It's worth all 4:59 seconds of time it takes to watch.
He also talks about the history of how punk music created the DIY (do it yourself) culture. Something we, today, call UGC (User Generated Content).
The basic ideas of this Punk Capitalism are simple and come directly from the philosophy of punk rock (From the book):
Do it yourself.It's written by Matt Mason, an ex-Pirate DJ and journalist. It's well researched and offers great real world examples.
Punk refused to take cues from the mass market, and created a vibrant cultural movement as a result. Now a critical mass of punk capitalists is removing the associative barriers that held them back. They are working for themselves, setting up businesses, and finding ways to produce as much as they conume, laying the foundations for a wealth of new markets and business models. D.I.Y. is changing our labor markets, and creativity is becoming our most valuable currency.
Punk resisted authority and saw anarcy as the path to a brighter future. Punk capitlists are resisting authority, too--by leveraging new D.I.I. technologies and the power of individuals connecting and working togethrs as equals. This twin engine of the new economy is creating new ways all of us can live and work, leaving old systems for dust. Technology plus Democracy = Punk Captialism.
Combine Altruism and Self-Interest
Punk had high ideas--it looked aggressive and scary, but through its angry critique of society and subversion of it, it sought to change the world for the better. Punk capitalists are using the same techniques, subverting a world full of empty corporate gestures, manufacturing businesses and producst with meanings that attempt to inject substance bank into style. Punk injected altruism into entrepreneurship, a motivator of people long overlooked by neoclassical economics. Not only that, punk made the idea of putting purpose before profit seem cool to an entire generation. It menufactured new meaning in an area where it was really needed.
Here's a overview of the book:
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Every so often, it's important that you get out from behind your keyboard and drop off your usual grid.
I like walk-Abouts. Actually, it's more the American version re: Drive-Abouts. It's something I've done periodically for years and it takes the place of a planned vacation very nicely for me. Solitary, mind clearing and life re-affirming. You get in your vehicle, with no clue where you're going to end up, and you drive. I've ended up in NYC, biker bars in CA., deep in Mississippi's swamps and in the middle of Death Valley.
I also like storm chasing. Tracking down heavy weather and tornadoes is invigorating in ways I suspect is similar to how big game photographers must feel when stalking rhino's or lion prides. So, this week I'm dropping off the grid and mixing the two up by heading to somewhere in center of the country with my trusty little AWD, some video and still camera's, a GPS, CB/weather radio, a laptop with Swift WX and GRLevelX software(weather tracking/radar software) and a hankering for roadside diner food with no $5 a cup coffee shops within a 100 miles.
I'll also be bringing along a high level of healthy respect for wall clouds (above). I've done this for years now and, generally, it's a hit and miss endeavor. I'd say 1 out of 4 times to I actually get close enough to see a tornado, but man, it's like nothing you've ever experienced until you've done it (and I've climbed mountains, raced cars and skydived in my younger days). Oddly, it's the opposite of doing high adrenaline sports in that you, really, have no control over the environment.
It's both terrifying and calming.
I wouldn't recommend it for everyone, but one things for certain, after chasing a tornado across the long flat plains of Kansas and actually catching up and having one stare you down, it puts all the other concerns, fears and hopes in a persons tiny little world in crystal clear perspective.
Sunday, June 08, 2008
I managed to lose my iPhone for real this time. 4 days later, still missing. Since my life tends to revolve around my phone (I've been using smartphones for 10 years now), I needed to replace it.
So, Sat. I went down to my friendly AT&T store and tried to get a new iPhone.
Try and 'replace' an iPhone right now. Can't do it. None to be had. New iPhone coming out next week donchaknow.
So I decided to try an experiment. I know alot of people who swear by their Blackberry's. So, I picked up a $99 Blackberry Curve. The sales guy told me I had 30 days to return it for a different phone so I'm taking AT&T up on the test drive offer. If I hate it compared to my iPhone (which I spent the last year with, and greatly enjoyed), I'll trade it in for a new iPhone early next month.
In the meantime, we'll see how well this new phone stacks up against my experiences with a year old (feature and function wise) iPhone.
UPDATE: 7/11/08- Well, I couldn't take it any longer. The BlackBerry was 'interesting', but no fun to use (at all). It was clunky, hard to find things and hard to connect activities that are fluid and natural on the iPhone. And no, I didn't get a new 3G. I'm sticking with my old first gen iPhone until it gives out largely because I'm not comfortable with a GPS chip in my phone for some reason and with the 2.0 update, I'm getting pretty much everything the 3G iPhone has (less the GPS 'features'.. which is fine with me).
iPhone: still the best out there.
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Well, sort of.
In Beaumont, Tx. only, for now:
They claim 5% of the users are 'using up' 50% of the available bandwidth.
By Ryan Paul | Published: June 03, 2008 - 09:18AM CT
Time Warner Cable will launch a trial program on Thursday which will impose monthly Internet consumption caps on new subscribers in Beaumont, Texas. Following a two-month grace period, cable users will pay $1 for each additional gigabyte consumed beyond the cap.
First, I'd ask: and how much capacity is actually still unused? If it's less than 100%, isn't that just efficient use of resources by your users? As long as it' not causing overcapacity issues (and they have never said that it is), why is this an issue?
Second, they imply that only the bad guys (those wretched Bittorrent users stealing music and movies) are the ones at fault.
Not so. The article goes on to say:
Time Warner's bandwidth caps might seem like acceptable limitations at first glance, but they look a lot less attractive when one considers the growing number of important services we use that soak up lots of bandwidth. The Internet is increasingly being used as a vector for distributing software and digital video content and also facilitates multiplayer gaming, video conferencing, real-time collaboration, interactive remote desktop access, file backups, and many other bandwidth intensive activities.The average user using Pandora to listen to streaming music for a few hours a day while working at home, then watching Hulu.com TV shows for a few hours after dinner then playing WoW or SoCom a few nights a week for a few hours can easily hit this limit.
Add in a spouse and 2 or 3 kids with their own computers, and it gets stupid expensive at $1 per GB past the 40 alloted pretty damned fast.
It never ceases to amaze me how bigco's can shoot themselves in the foot.
I'll bet the DSL providers out there (who have alot of POTS and Internet business taken from them in the last 10 years by CableCo's like Time Warner) are rubbing their hands with glee hoping all the Cable Guys get on this boat. This won't hurt the WiMax guy's proforma either.
Our CableCo, Comcast, hasn't jumped in yet, but I'm still calling Qwest about that 20MB pipe they're selling into homes now first thing tomorrow.
Monday, June 02, 2008
Jason Mendleson over at Foundry Partners (he's the guy on the far right) has an excellent post up on his frustration with venture lawyers.
His analysis is better given that, before he became a VC, he was a lawyer.
His two primary points are cost and execution.
The first point on cost resonated strongly. He compared the average VC deal in 1998 to 2008 and concluded that the amount of the deal had gone up about 11%. The salary of a starting venture lawyer, during that same time, went up 114%.
We've felt the pain. Before we call, or even email, our lawyer, we ask ourselves long and hard: do we really need this? The minimum billing for a startup lawyer is 1/6th of an hour. 10 minutes. At the low end, that's $50.
Fifty bucks to send an email asking them to change something on our yearly Delaware filing paperwork. Minimum. More likely $150. They have to read the email (10 min charge- 1 minute of reading time), go do something else, come back and make the changes to the document (10 min charge... 2 minutes of work), go do something else, then come back and put the paperwork in an envelop (10 minutes charge- 1 minute of work).
God help you if you want an actual contract reviewed, which comes to the second point re: execution.
We had a large contract with a big company that our then CEO 'ran by the lawyers'. $25,000.00 later, we had a passable contract. Chances are it would have been more if our CEO at the time hadn't left the company. To this day I'm not clear how we spent that much money on a simple contract with pretty clear terms to start with.
Even at $500 an hour, that's 50 hours. I'm wondering if that's really possible. Does it really take 50 billable hours of a partners time to 'review' a contract?
There's definitely an execution problem there. I have no idea if it was on our side or the law firms, but at $500 an hour, it's pretty easy to lay at least part of the blame on the law firms doorstep.
So, I couldn't agree more with Jason's take on venture lawyers.
I do know this: If I wasn't paying $500 an hour for the advice, I'd ask for alot more of it, and I'd count the lawyer as more of a partner in my business than a hideously expensive last resort 'check' to keep us from getting nuked when dealing with a big company or a litigious partner.
It's a little like health insurance costs: You skip getting the health insurance because it's just too damned expensive and pray you don't get sick.
Monday, May 26, 2008
I know this is old hat for many of you (it's been around forever), but it's still worth watching every year or two just to put things into perspective.
Interestingly, the version we saw didn't say anywhere that it was made for IBM. This is the first time I've seen that bit of info. I'm betting, back then, when IBM was still a real competitor to Apple, we'd have seen it was originally made for IBM and either ignored it, or it would have scared the hell out of us.
Sometimes it's just better not to know.
Monday, May 05, 2008
Someone is actually selling empty Macintosh computer boxes on Craiglist.
We have fourteen 24" iMac boxes in like new condition with styrofoam inserts available.Only $100, or, as noted, 'best offer'. And styrofoam inserts 'available' (I wonder, is that extra?)
Can you imagine someone doing this with Dell boxes? I don't know what I find more outrageous, someone posting this or the thought that someone might actually buy these off of them.
No wonder Apple's so arrogant.
Thursday, May 01, 2008
Friday, April 25, 2008
I met Jon through boulder free radio where he and his brother David played some fantastic hippie shit music and blues. I saw him many times over the last several years playing gigs, at Conners and, the last time, with he and David at the Boulder Theater a few weeks ago.
He was happy, and he never ever complained, although we sometimes gave him a hard time about how his hair grew back all curly after particularly onerous cancer treatments.
The last thing he did on this earth was visit Conners for a few beers with friends, something he dearly loved to do.
These last words from Jon:
"Oh well, I was lucky to have made it this far. And, I put up a pretty damn good fight. No crying....."
And then in his own writing:
You will be sorely missed Jon.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Saw this in today's The Inquirer (no, that not that one). Seems Negroponte, the visionary behind the One Laptop Per Child project is going Windows on the OLPC.
IN A SOMEWHAT shocking revelation, One Laptop Per Child has said that they might dump Linux from their XO laptops in favour of the Vole’s Windows XP. The seeming surrender to the evil corporate world comes just a day after the company’s president tendered his resignation.
OLPC, the educational project which purportedly aims to provide small, cheap laptops for kids has, since its inception, been running its home-made Sugar application, run on Linux, but on Tuesday, OLPC chairman and founder, Nicholas Negroponte, told AP that this was all about to change.
In an attack on pro open saucers, Negroponte slammed “the fundamentalism in some of the open-source community" and reckoned that by pushing the free, open-sauce software on OLPC XOs, the company was scaring people away. "One can be an open-source advocate without being an open-source fundamentalist" he snarled.
I completely get his comment on open-source fundamentalism. The pure Linux crowd can get a little overbearing at times, but dumping it? I'm not sure that makes much sense.Putting Windows XP on the OLPC means they'll have to at least double the 1GB of disk space to 2GB (minimum). Not much, granted, but it's going to up the price of the $100 (umm.. I mean.. $200) laptop even more. Keeping a Linux based machine allows them flexibility in their pricing they'll lose with an XP only OLPC.
I have nothing against XP. I have it running on all my computers (PC's and Mac's) along side Linux (yes, I do indeed triple boot all my personal machines). I like the option of using different OS's for different things and XP is, by all accounts, stable and ubiquitous. Good traits in an OS.
But dumping Linux because of perceived fundamentalism is a mistake. Maybe he'll shake out the Linux bigots from the OLPC project (their president and head of software just quit.. most likely because Nick wants to add XP to the mix), and that may be a good strategic move, but I sure as hell wouldn't dump Linux outright.
Even Dell gives the option of a Linux install on their PC's.
I'm sorry to say that the OLPC project may well be on it's last legs. They have raised the awareness of the need (and market) for low end PC's. Intel's Classroom PC, the ASUS notebook and others would most likely never have come about had it not been for the OLPC vision, but the original, as is often the case, is likely to lose in this battle.
Negroponte, an academic by training and nature, just doesn't understand the world of business (and as much as he'd like this to be solely a 'movement' and not a business.. it's sure as hell a business). Anything that threatens the markets of, be they existing or new greenfields, the existing PC and OS makers is going to be viewed by them as a business. Too bad Negroponte can't seem to adapt to that reality.
That said, I've got a used Linux based OLPC for sale.
Anyone interested? Anyone? Hello?
Monday, April 21, 2008
I think it's really happening now.
Can anyone imagine a western power, in this case France, trying to 'limit the damage' and reacting to China's pressure 20 years ago? 10 Years ago?
What's happening here is a test run on China's part to see how much influence and pressure it can exert to get it's way.
By KATRIN BENNHOLDPublished: April 22, 2008
PARIS — After a wave of anti-French protests in China, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France is sending three top officials there this week in a diplomatic charm offensive to limit the political and economic fallout from the controversy surrounding the preparations for the Beijing Olympic Games.
Thousands of protesters targeted outlets of the French supermarket chain Carrefour in China over the weekend, demonstrating against what they see as France’s sympathetic support for pro-Tibet agitators.
France has become the main focus of the protests in China, notably after footage of a Chinese athlete in a wheelchair protecting the Olympic torch from protesters as it passed through Paris earlier this month turned her into a national hero and talk show star.
Among the three top officials, the president of the French Senate, Christian Poncelet, was headed for Shanghai on Monday, to be followed by a former prime minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, on Thursday.
On Friday, it will be the turn of Mr. Sarkozy’s chief diplomatic adviser, Jean-David Levitte, to reassure the Chinese leadership that France has no intention of straining relations.
This is pretty much a carbon copy of how the US has been acting for the last 50 years. China is taking a page from the US play book (who took a page from the UK play book... and on and on back to the Romans).
I think we're seeing the beginnings of the 'power' transfer happening right now. I also think the 2008 Olympics may be looked back on as the time China began the process of taking the lead as most powerful and influential nation in the world away from the United States.
Guess I should brush up on my Mandarin.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
They got it under control, luckily, but it's still smoldering away into the night.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Ben Casnocha's comment on the post is golden and gives both an alternative view from Silicon Valley and shows some of the hubris (sorry Ben, but you do live inside the bubble) common among the digiteri from The Valley.
I'm from Colorado. I grew up in Boulder County. I always thought things moved a little slow for me and eventually got hired by Apple in Cupertino. I moved to Los Altos, dead in the center of The Valley from 87 to 96. I remember thinking the first year 'finally, a place going at the same speed I am'. Then, after a year of the that life, I spent the next 8 years trying to figure out a way to get back to Boulder. I finally made it back and I'm very glad I did it.
Some of what Ben says is true. There's no doubt that there's more money and more overall opportunity for entrepreneurs in The Valley. It is, as Ben notes, a huge ecosystem geared toward supporting startups.
However, our little corner of the start up world, for someone who wants access to some big university talent, a rich culture, a world class sports town in Denver, an environment every bit as beautiful as NoCal, a great community of supportive startup people around them and has a desire to live a full life, it's hard to beat Colorado in general and Boulder in particular.
I also have to take a bit of issue with the comments on the weather and great food. I remember thinking 'where are the seasons?' when I first moved to The Valley. There was this tree in the parking lot of Tower Records at the intersection of San Antonio Rd. and El Camino Real that would go from green to sort of orange for a couple of weeks in the October, but that was about it.
We've got seasons.
And,, regarding the food...we've got The Kitchen, one of the best places to eat between either coast and pretty much any other type of the best kinds of food you would want like real Mexican, Ethiopian, Caribbean, Indian, Nepali, Tibetan, Middle Eastern, French, Italian, sushi (yea.. great sushi) and, of course, lots of organic fare and multiple natural food shopping markets not to mention a better steak then you'll find anywhere in The Valley, New York or Los Angeles.
You just can't beat Colorado, when it comes to steak, or Boulder, as a great place to start a company.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Apparently, Google just did a classic non-compete bait and switch on the Doubleclick folks they recently fired (about 300 of them) after acquiring the company.
Valleywag has the text of non-compete, which looks like this:
8. Covenant Regarding Competition. I agree that for a period of one (1) year after my employment with the Company terminates, I shall not (a) engage in any employment, business or activity that is competitive with the Company's businesses; or (b) solicit business from, do business with or render services to, in any capacity, directly or indirectly, any entity that is or was a Company client or customer within the last twelve months of my employment with the Company, for a purpose or in a manner that is in any way competitive with the Company's business. If, during or after my employment with the Company, I seek work elsewhere, I agree to provide a copy of this Agreement to any person or entities seeking to hire me before accepting employment with or engagement by any such person or entity.
9. Solicitation of Employees. I agree that for a period of twelve (12) months immediately following the
termination of my relationship with the Company for any reason, whether with or without cause, I shall not either directly or indirectly solicit, induce, recruit or encourage any of the Company's employees to leave their employment, or take away such employees, or attempt to solicit, induce, recruit, encourage or take away employees of the Company, either for myself or for any other person or entity.
You can make the argument that it won't stick, but apparently the employees who were fired are worried that it's Google and they don't want to risk crossing Google's legal department. Seems they felt compelled to look for work outside of their industry, following the demands of the non-compete Google asked them to sign, right before firing them.
If I look at my own business and imagine what I'd have to catch up on if I left for a year, frankly, I'd look at it long and hard and wonder if it was worth trying to get back in the game. Things just move too fast in the high tech world.
How an employee that was defined as unnecessary after an acquisition can be considered a threat to the business just acquired is beyond me. If they were so critical to the business, why have them sign a non-compete and then fire them?
Giving Google the benefit of the doubt, it's possible it wasn't their intent to lock someone up and then fire them, but the result was they did just that.
Locked em up, then locked em out.
And this underlines (several times) why non-compete agreements are, maybe, not such a good idea.
Thursday, April 03, 2008
Soooo.... what is a home theater/video viewing system today anyway?
Is it a 27" Sony Trinitron with a a bulky 5 speaker surround sound system and a DVD player and a $79 a month cable bill?
I say: no more.
Here's my own personal version of the video future. I designed it just for me to be a sort of video cocoon.
The list of everything needed:
A dual core laptop ($600- Get an HP dv6000 at BestBuy)
A 2nd LCD screen -unnecessary, but I wanted it ($200- any will do, this is a 20" Samsung)
2 high quality studio monitors/speakers ($200- Mine ar Rokit5's by KRK from Guitar Center in Westminister, CO)
A projector ($650 for an Epson C77)
A USB 2 port mixer for the speakers ($100- Guitar Center)
Paint for the wall (Movie Screen) ($20 at Home Depot)
Comfy vibrating seat ($99 from Office Max)
3 Misc. tables to hold the gear ($50 at Target)
Total cost (for everything): $1969.00
What do I get? a 10 foot screen that looks pretty good during the day and is just short of mind blowing when it's dark. If I wanted to, I could block the windows during the day, but what's the point when I only really watch TV and movies at night.
I also have two recording studio quality speakers 2 feet from my head on either side. Sound doesn't get much better than that.
The laptop can be anything. This is a Mac, but a dual core HP is $549 on sale at BestBuy right now. And you can play some awesome games you can't using a 'traditional' home theater setup. (note the Quake 4 Arena box on top of the speaker in the forefront of the picture- 10' of violent gore with the equivlent of 15 lb headphones blowing out your ears: Priceless). And, of course, all laptops play DVD's now, gratis. Need I even mention P2P/Bittorrent?
The projector? An Epson PowerLite 77C ($649 at Staples right now). And this is a BIG ( 3 lbs!).
In the next 9 months you'll see things like this:
And even this:
These aren't mock ups. This stuff is real. The tiny projectors are supposed to come in later this year for around $300 and project 2000 lumens (my 'big' one does 2200 lumens) on a screen size up to 8 feet across.
So, I look at this setup, and what's coming around the corner and I have to wonder how long before the movie theaters just seize up and go out of business. (other than the ones that get that movie going can be a social thing.. but they are few and far between).
I also have to wonder if the video distributers of today like CableCo/MSOs and Satellite TV providers have a chance.
Mix all this with services like my own Medioh and others like Hulu, Joost and Veoh, not to mention all the networks doing their own internet offerings (and things like South Park putting EVERY episode ever made online, free), well, whats the point of paying for cable?
Who's going to stop the Major Motion Picture studios from doing what SouthPark is doing? Why, if you're creating a great show like, say, FireFly, do you have to worry about 'getting cancelled' if you can put the show on the internet, charge for access (or give it away free with commercials), bring in LESS money but KEEP more of it? I mean, why wouldn't you do that? Why keep supporting the gatekeepers when you can free your content for more people (and more net income for your company?)
Oh...The Screen: I simply painted a nice big 'sliver screen' on the wall. Cost of $20 (of which I only used about $3 worth) of 'Silver Screen' colored paint from Home Depot. And yes, that picture shows just what it looks like: A big square painted on the wall. Nothing more needed.
And this is about the most I could spend to do this. Everyone I know already has a computer (usually a laptop). Few need the sound system levels I like (although at $300 total, why not?), so, in reality, all you need is your existing internet connection and that $650 projecter and you're set.
I talk to my developers (really anyone under 25) and none of them own a standard television set. They use, yep, their computers.
This isn't just a trend, it's where everything's going.
Yes, there are likely to be people that want a TV in the kitchen while cooking dinner, but why not just plop down your laptop on the counter (wireless, battery, no cables) and watch it there? I do. Why NOT you?
This will take time of course. Games, like Rock Band, are still tied to consoles. And innovations like the Wii will take time to migrate to a laptop (Wii like controls? hmmm.. maybe not that long).
However....I still think internet access with low cost projectors and laptops (or just the laptops or any other 'internet enable device with a screen') are going to be more than a simple and easy way to replace your TV and cable bill, they're the real future of TV. Passive AND interactive.