Monday, August 28, 2006

My First DECLINED LinkedIn invitation!

I am crushed.

An old collegue from Apple Computer (who, albiet, I didn't know well, I just remembered her name) TURNED DOWN my LinkedIn invitation!

A first! I'm sad. And a bit happy. I'm glad to see that there's at least some degree of filtering going on. I know I've said no to alot of the guys just looking to add names to their list, but not all of them (LinkIn 'notches' on the belt... so to speak.. God, when I think of it, I feel so... used....sigh).


Invitation Declined

Linda XXXX (formerly XXXX) declined your invitation to connect, because Linda doesn't know you well enough to represent your interests when forwarding requests or facilitating contacts.

And added these comments:

Sorry, I'm keeping my network restricted to those I know very well.

You can view your connections here, or by pasting the following link into your browser:

Thank you for using LinkedIn.

--The LinkedIn Team

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Bob Dylan... Luddite!

Bob Dylans a Luddite!

What's interesting about this is he's been on the cutting edge of music for so long, and is obviously using digital technology in the studio.

I wonder if he's releasing the new album on vinyl.

Who'd a thought? From Wired:

Bob Dylan says the quality of modern recordings is "atrocious," and even the songs on his new album sounded much better in the studio than on disc.

"I don't know anybody who's made a record that sounds decent in the past 20 years, really," the 65-year-old rocker said in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine.

Dylan, who released eight studio albums in the past two decades, returns with his first recording in five years, Modern Times, next Tuesday.

Noting the music industry's complaints that illegal downloading means people are getting their music for free, he said, "Well, why not? It ain't worth nothing anyway."

"You listen to these modern records, they're atrocious, they have sound all over them," he added. "There's no definition of nothing, no vocal, no nothing, just like ... static."

Dylan said he does his best to fight technology, but it's a losing battle.

"Even these songs probably sounded 10 times better in the studio when we recorded 'em. CDs are small. There's no stature to it."

Guess it's ok to pirate anything he does that's been digitized eh?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Verizon's now making up fee's, literally

Anyone who thinks the phone company will do the right thing and 'pass on savings to the consumer' just got a nice screw you from Verizon.

Apparently, the government stopped requiring Verizon charge a universal fee to help cover the cost of phone service coverage in rural areas on DSL lines. From $1.20 to $2.80 a month. Your bill should drop by that much now, right?

Not so much. The unvarnished word directly from Verizon:
"Effective August 26, Verizon will charge a Supplier Surcharge for all DSL customers. The surcharge helps offset costs we incur from our network supplier. The Supplier Surcharge will be $1.20/month for 768Kbps service customers and $2.70/month for higher DSL speeds.

Verizon Online will cease charging an FUSF recovery fee, beginning August 14, 2006. The impact of the elimination of the FUSF fee is for DSL customers up to 768Kbps, fee eliminated is $1.25.month; for DSL customers of up to 1.5Mbps and 3Mbps services, the fee eliminated is $2.83/month. On balance your total bill will remain about the same as it has been or slightly lower."
What happened here? They instituted some made up cost they have been 'absorbing for some time' to match the drop in price. They also, of course, neglected to detail what this extra cost was (other than: we're losing money in our landline phone business.. doh.. you and the rest of the world).

I've got no beef with Verizon making money. Really. But when they could pass on the savings of a government tax that is no more, and instead just tack it onto your bill as some random fee to keep the money you've been 'trained' to pay out already, I have to ask: what else are they tacking on and charging for that has no value other than to add pure profit?

These guys operate as near monopolies. I'm no fan of government regulations (being a libertarian hippie and all), but some guys just need watching.

Verizon is one of these guys.

They've effectively evoked a rate hike of hundreds of millions of dollars on their users, without a single regulator getting a look at it (or, it seems, caring much about it).

This is from today's Wall Street Journal (and even they seem to be looking at it a big cockeyed):

Verizon Adds New DSL Surcharge

August 21, 2006 4:09 p.m.

For Verizon Communications Inc.'s Internet customers, monthly bills won't be dropping after all.

Last year, the government changed the rules so DSL subscribers would no longer have to pay into a federal fund which subsidizes phone services in rural areas and for low-income consumers. That promised to shave a dollar or two off a typical DSL Internet bill -- $1.25 a month for Verizon's slower DSL service and $2.834 a month for its faster service.

But Verizon recently emailed subscribers, announcing that it will drop the universal service surcharge as of Aug. 14 and impose a new "supplier surcharge" beginning August 26. The new fee -- $1.20 a month for slower service customers and $2.70 a month for faster ones -- is almost exactly what consumers would have saved with the government's change. Essentially customers' bills won't fall at all.

It appears that Verizon is essentially pocketing the money that consumers would have gotten back, although the company disputes that notion. It says it will eventually impose the fee on all of its six million or so DSL customers because of increased costs of providing stand-alone Internet service, which is purchased at a premium by consumers who don't subscribe to its phone service.

"We have a cost that we have been absorbing for a long time. We're not going to absorb it anymore," said Bobbi Henson, a Verizon spokeswoman. The new charge will not apply to subscribers with annual Internet contracts until those agreements expire.

It's not clear how many other phone companies will use the change to impose new charges on consumers.

Last year, the Federal Communications Commission changed rules that govern DSL Internet lines and dropped the obligation to pay into the $7.3-billion Universal Service Fund, which subsidizes phone services in rural areas and for low-income consumers. That change takes effect this month for all DSL Internet providers.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Windows Live Writer: Just Stupid?

Alright.. isn't the point of web 2.0 to be on the WEB? Isn't the concept of a downloable application like this just announced Windows Live Writer from Microsoft against everything Windows Lives is supposed to be? (LIVE.. like.. right there... on the web. AJAX, WebApps, yadayada.... you know Web 2.0...).

Introducing Windows Live Writer

Welcome to the Windows Live Writer team blog! We are excited to announce that the Beta version of Windows Live Writer is available for download today.

Windows Live Writer is a desktop application that makes it easier to compose compelling blog posts using Windows Live Spaces or your current blog service.

Blogging has turned the web into a two-way communications medium. Our goal in creating Writer is to help make blogging more powerful, intuitive, and fun for everyone.

Am I missing something or is this as it appears: just stupid?

I'm actively deleting my stand alone applications from my computer. I use google spreadsheet for 80% of the spreadsheet stuff I do now (simple ones at least). I use writely as my wordprocessor. We use ActiveCollab for ClickCasters project tracking. We use fogbugz for our feature and bug tracking. We use email, IRC and, sometimes (rarely) the phone for communications.

The only application I'm still stuck with is Powerpoint and I've seen some reasonable potentials in the works for that on the web of late as well.

I thought Microsoft might have started to 'get it' with their LIVE initiative, and had this come from, say, the Office group, no biggie, but it's FROM the LIVE group. That can only mean that the people in charge don't, after all, get it.

I'll be selling the last of my Microsoft stock on Monday.

Cars: Stepping down while stepping up

I just traded in my Mini Cooper for a 2007 Yaris. It's weird, As I get older, I'm finding I like simpler, and friendlier to the world I live in.

At 40MPG, this little beastie puts even the Mini Coopers high 20's low 30's to shame.

I paid about $12,500 for it. (actually, I traded the Mini and got a nice big check back).

I've owned Porche's, Lexus and Audi's. I've spent twice the average American's annual income on a single car several times. I've come to the conclusion it's just dumb. That 12 MPG Landcruiser cost as much as 5 of these cars. Did I ever take it off road? Did it save my ass in a pileup? Was there really any reason to buy it other than it was big, it was impressive and it was expensive?


I suppose some of it is just: I don't care what others think of what I'm driving anymore. Yea, I used to. I admit it. I just don't anymore. And, having lived in startup company land the last year or two, I've really grown to love the 'less is more' approach to life and business.

We're just now closing a round of financing from a group of really great people and, damn it, I'm going to do everything (personal and professional) to use that money they trusted me with as if it were my own. So, how do I spend my discretionary income on cars? Do I blow it on an Audi Twin Turbo TT for $50K? Or do I get the Yaris liftback at $12.5K?

Simple. Yaris! And if I do it there, I'll do it in the business too. "Just enough" is really the best approach to life in my book.

And, I also have to admit that my sense of the environment is greater now than ever before. All the news on global warming has me slightly freaked. I think some of it is overblown, but I also think some of it is dead on accurate.

If we can each make a small dent by using less resources as individuals, it makes the world a slightly better place for all of us. And if we can achieve the same goals (like: getting from point A to point B in a car) doing that: all the better.

Simplistic stuff, but it's the simple stuff that adds up to overall big change, in our personal life, in our businesses and in the world in general.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Does Apple believe in OpenSource? Really?

Apple is trying the OpenSource approach, again.

By ScuttleMonkey on on-the-road-again Today Apple announced a few expanded open source efforts. First, beginning with Mac OS X 10.4.7, the Darwin/Mac OS X kernel, known as "xnu", is again available as buildable source for the Intel platform, including EFI utilities. Second, iCal Server, Bonjour, and launchd are moving to Apache 2.0 licensing. And finally, Mac OS Forge has been launched, as the successor to OpenDarwin as a conduit for hosting projects such as WebKit that were formerly hosted by the OpenDarwin project's servers, such as WebKit. Mac OS Forge is sponsored by Apple. DarwinPorts has already moved to its own servers. Update: 08/08 01:43 GMT by J : The official Apple announcement is now out. Other fun news: Leopard will ship with Ruby on Rails.

Something tells me this isn't going to work. They originally tried this with Darwin and formed OpenDarwin. Just last month, that community of developers shut down the project. The reason? Apple didn't play well with others. From:

OpenDarwin Shutting Down

OpenDarwin was originally created with the goal of providing a development environment for building and developing Mac OS X sources as well as developing a standalone Darwin OS derivative. OpenDarwin was meant to be a development community and a proving ground for fixes and features for Mac OS X and Darwin, which could be picked up by Apple for inclusion in the canonical sources. OpenDarwin has failed to achieve its goals in 4 years of operation, and moves further from achieving these goals as time goes on. For this reason, OpenDarwin will be shutting down.

Over the past few years, OpenDarwin has become a mere hosting facility for Mac OS X related projects. The original notions of developing the Mac OS X and Darwin sources has not panned out. Availability of sources, interaction with Apple representatives, difficulty building and tracking sources, and a lack of interest from the community have all contributed to this. Administering a system to host other people's projects is not what the remaining OpenDarwin contributors had signed up for and have been doing this thankless task far longer than they expected. It is time for OpenDarwin to go dark.

Project admins for all active projects have been notified, and we will be working with them to provide as seamless a transition to their new homes as possible. We don't want to boot anyone off, we will be operating the machines as usual for several months, until everyone has had a chance to move elsewhere.

We will continue to provide email and dns redirection after the machines go dark. We'll be looking at what other redirection services are needed and can be provided after hosting has ceased.

The OpenDarwin team would like to thank everyone who did contribute to the project, and our apologies to active, loyal projects that have to move.

- OpenDarwin Core Team and Administrators

So I've got to wonder if this most recent attempt by Apple isn't something along the same lines. What's different here? By what I can see, not much. Same people at Apple. The likely result: Same indifference. Apple is, by nature, a closed ecosystem. Look at the Mac. Even more so.. look at the iPod/iTunes juggernaut. If there's one thing that goes against all things Apple, it's the concept of OpenSource (unless, of course, it benefits Apple in a way that lets them take, but not give back).

If I were an OpenSource developer, I'd take a long hard and cynical look at this before I spent my time and energy on another Apple 'OpenSource' project.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Media Meltdown? Nope.. it's the aggregation of old and new media

Chris Anderson, of "The Long Tail" fame has some interesting figures on traditional media.

Mainstream Media Meltdown III

A couple times a year, I take a statistical look at mainstream en

tertainment and media in decline. All figures are year-on-year comparisons unless otherwise noted. (The last version of this, from November, is here).




What does this mean? It doesn't mean the end of the old media world. It means that the trend that was first spotted back in the 70's by Tofler (Remember 'The Third Wave'?) is continuing. Media is becoming more dispersed. The methods of distribution are becoming more varied and the audience is becoming more segmented.

The opportunity lies in embracing the splintering segmentation and getting ahead of the technology, just enough, to aggregate what makes sense and ignore the rest. A good example of this is Feedburner (

The recently announced that they will be creating aggregations of feeds targeted at specific audiences. They'll, in effect, take RSS content, put a managing editor in charge of the 'collection' and make it available with a headline (like: VC blogs, or Indie Podcasts).

Sound like a new take on that venerable old media institution the Newspaper or Magazine? Yea, does to me too. It's editorial perspective from a trusted source (i.e. the managing editor persona.. usually someone well known, respected and trusted in a specific community of interest).

Pretty clever on Feedburners part. They're collecting feeds from 100's of thousands of places (and getting paid for the service), then, they segment and create editorial perspective around collections of the feeds. This drives marketing dollars (i.e. advertising) to their feeds which puts more money into people's pockets that host their RSS feed with feedburner, and creates additional value for the aggregated collection of 'trusted' feeds around specific interests.

I take it back, not pretty clever, frakkin brilliant. Not only do they not disintermediate the hand that feeds them (traditional media and new media alike) they make it more valuable individually, and collectively. All the while, potentially, creating entirely new classes of 'super' managing editors.. like Brad Feld, who's doing the VC collection of feeds... and I predict, will be one of the main 'go to guys', globally, for anything VC, media and blog related 12-18 months from now.

He's who the editor of the New York Times will call first on matters of VC importance. The question that comes to mind for me is: who's likely to be more listened to by the people that matter in that particular area of interest in late 2007? The NYT's or Brad and other RSS feed managing editors? I love it.

But.. that's just my opinion. I could be wrong (betcha I'm not though).

Indian Scott?

What if I'd been born in India and not the US?

THIS is what. heh. Check it out

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...