Saturday, November 26, 2005

Denver's Police State

Read this link. Really, read it.

Next Stop: Big Brother

Meet Deborah Davis. She's a 50 year-old mother of four who lives and works in Denver, Colorado. Her kids are all grown-up: her middle son is a soldier fighting in Iraq. She leads an ordinary, middle class life. You probably never would have heard of Deb Davis if it weren't for her belief in the U.S. Constitution.
Federal Public Transportation Pass

This is not America. When honest, law-abiding citizens can't commute to work on a city bus without a demand for their 'papers', something is very, very wrong.

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.

Is Google becoming the old Microsoft?

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

Firefox and Useless Extensions

I just spent 10 minutes trying to install 'cool' extensions to my Firefox browser and not one of the damn things works with the 1.5 RC3 version of the browser!

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

The 10 Faces of Innovation

Fast company has a great article on from the GM of Ideo, an famously successful idea factory in California. He's written a book called The 10 Faces of Innovation.

Check it out at:

Which (or how many) of the types of innovators are you?

Sunday, November 20, 2005

What's your birthday mean?

I have NO idea what this is based on, but you can find it at:

Here's mine:
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

Sony exposes McAfee, Symantec & MS

So.. the story grows.

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:,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

Boycott Sony

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.


Web 2.0, Podcasting and all the hype- it's effect on fundraising and startups

So, interesting experience in progress. My company is in the process of raising our first round of venture capital ( I presented at the Dow Jones VentureWire conference last week (a collection of investors and startup company CEOs like myself, at various stages of development).

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.

The republican!

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

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 [...]

An excellent read from an ex-evangelical.

  As you know, I once was an evangelical megachurch pastor and my pastoral career stretched over many years. Eventually, I could no longer t...