One to Watch: Delish
I have a confession: even though I have a del.icio.us account with hundreds of bookmarks saved in it, I almost never look at it. Thats because the relentlessly textual presentation just doesnt click with me. A new OS X del.icio.us client, Delish (now in beta), just might change that for me. The key here is that it presents all of your links, tags, and bundles with graphical thumbnails, rather than as just another list. Indeed, the interface is almost exactly that of iPhoto, just transmuted to work with the site instead of with photos.

So far functionality is limited to previewing bookmarks and jumping directly to the marked sites; youll need to work directly with del.icio.us or with another client such as Pukka to add and edit new bookmarks. I also had to sync multiple times to get everything thumbnailed. But already its very useful for finding sites that have aged into oblivion, or recognizing things visually. If they can add in editing features, I think theyve got it nailed.

may 2008
Syncopation from Sonzea provides a hands-free solution to keep your iTunes® music collection synchronized across multiple computers running Mac OS X.
may 2008
Chances are you keep your iTunes music and video collection on more than one computer, so you already know how hard it is to keep them all the same. Add a spouse and some kids to the mix and the task is virtually impossible - until now.
may 2008
Obama campaign memo to superdelegates
There are only six contests remaining in the Democratic primary calendar and only 217 pledged delegates left to be awarded. Only 7 percent of the pledged delegates remain on the table. There are 260 remaining undeclared superdelegates, for a total of 477 delegates left to be awarded.
may 2008
Minneapolis Star-Tribune Owner Avista Writes Down 75 Percent Of Investment; Falling Knife, Anyone?
Going private isn't a form of immunity: Avista, the PE-fund that bought the Minneapolis Star-Tribune for $530 million in late 2006, has written down 75 percent of its original investment. The leverage fund only put up $100 million of its own cash, with the rest coming form financiers. A letter to the fund's investors, excerpted by the paper, sings a familiar song: "In the past year, the newspaper industry has suffered greater than expected declines in circulation and advertising revenue, particularly in print classified advertising." The letter also denied a NYP report saying the entity was on the brink of bankruptcy, though the firm has hired Blackstone to help it deal with its financial issues.

Basically, the company's losses are in range with what's been seen elsewhere: McClatchy (NYSE: MNI) shares are down over 60 percent since the end of 2006. Journal Communications (NYSE: JRN) are down by over 50 percent. So, anyone want to step up and catch a falling knife?


Star Tribune Newspaper Sold by McClatchy To PE Firm For $530 Million
may 2008
Minnebar '08 Schedule Announced - It's Hot
The program for our annual Minnesota Barcamp -- Minnebar -- was just released late yesterday. The event is being held Saturday, May 10, at the Coffman Union on the U of MN campus. Here's a look at where things are so far, and note that it's subject to change.

Don't miss the panel at 12:00 noon: "State of the State: Technology in Minnesota" in the theater on the first floor. Panelists include: Doug Olson, who heads a Microsoft developer team in MN Jamie Thinglestad, Mpls-based CTO of Dow Jones Online Michael Gorman, Partner at VC firm Split Rock Partners Robert Stephens, founder of Geek Squad (a unit of Best Buy) And Dan Grigsby, our infamous local rabble rouser at Unpossible.com :-) and original lead organizer of Minnebar/Minnedemo.Note the "Lightning Demos" at 4:00 and 5:00 -- which I think will be especially good! These are five-minute presentations available to new or existing startups, or anyone who has a new idea or favorite topic to talk about. If you want to add yours to the list (which is not yet published), just send an email to event co-orgnanizer Luke Francl at look (at) recursion (dot) org -- telling him your name, company name, and what you'll be talking about.

See you Saturday! This will be fun -- how could it not be, with a frenzied crowd of some 400 of your fellow MN tech enthusiasts? :-)

I'll be there Twittering and shootin' pix all over. And I'm also part of the Minnov8 team, who'll be Twittering as well. But, trust me, there'll be plenty of hot networking in between!
may 2008
WSJ Plans Closer Ties With London Times; May Offer Business Tools
News Corp (NYSE: NWS) is planning closer integration between its new Wall Street Journal website and its existing News International publications in the UK. Times Online EIC Anne Spackman told me WSJ bosses flew to London today to meet her team: "It will be partly about tools, partly about deep linking to each other's content. Wall Street Journal is such a powerful brand." Away from just The Times, she suggested The Sun has plenty on common with The New York Post, too.

During an earlier session at the Periodical Publishers Association's Magazines 2008 conference in London, Spackman said: "We are increasingly linking to them around subjects of common interest. Our friends Down under at news.com.au - we link to sport with them on cricket and rugby; with the Wall Street Journal, it will be the same on business. It will be an extremely useful thing in a way that it would never have been when we were only selling to our home audiences and when there was no power of the link." But she cautioned it's very early days on the exact form of integration, and nothing's decided upon yet - Spackman is due to meet the WSJ folks later today to discuss options.

Last week, The Times said it was working with WSJ to develop ad cross-selling opportunities from a new New York office, now it seems the integration will be editorial too. Not surprising - Times editor Robert Thomson quit to become Rupert Murdoch's WSJ publisher late last year. More at PCUK


Times Online Looks To Leverage US Audience With WSJ Cross-Selling Ad Opps
may 2008
Microsoft's Zune Adds NBC Shows, Other Features; Still Unable To Combat
Want to buy those NBC episodes that you can't get on Apple's (AAPL) iTunes store anymore? Head over to Microsoft's (MSFT) new Zune TV store, which includes NBC (GE) episodes among the 800 TV shows it will begin selling today. Microsoft is also adding new social features to its MP3 players, like the ability to access real-time feeds of music your friends are listening to.

The problem: To watch the new TV shows (on the go, at least) , you need a Zune -- which we don't have. And to use the social features, your friends need to have Zunes, too -- which ours don't.

And yours probably don't, either. WSJ: "According to market-research firm NPD Group Inc., Apple had 71% of the
U.S. portable-music-player market in the first quarter, compared with
4% for Microsoft."

See Also: Amazon's Teeny Tiny Digital Sales: Just How Small Are They?
may 2008
Web 2.0, Please Meet Your Host, the Internet
So all you agile programmers working on Ruby-on-Rails, Python and AJAX, pay attention: If you want more people to think your application loads faster than Google and do not want to pay more to those ancient phone companies providing your connectivity, learn about your host. Its called the Internet.
may 2008
Test-driving VMware Fusion 2.0 Beta 1
Mac OS X only: VMware's brand new beta 1 of Fusion 2.0, virtualization software for Mac OS X, promises to make you feel like you're running Windows or Linux natively from your Mac desktop. From...
may 2008
The Motley Fool: Will Microsoft be brave enough to bail on Zune?
Microsoft was bold enough to walk out on Microhoo. Will it be brave enough to bail on its Zune, as well?
may 2008
Amazon Now Serving OpenSolaris on EC2
During our on-stage chat at Startup Camp, Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz hinted at some big news involving Amazon and its web services. Today, the company officially announced:

Suns OpenSolaris OS will be available on the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) customers for free. It is in beta for now.
Sun will provide premium technical support for MySQL database running on Linux and Amazon EC2.

These developments are meant to address the needs and complaints of the developer community. OpenSolaris, which comes with tools such as ZFS and Dynamic Tracing (D-Trace), will be offered for free, in contrast to some Linux offerings that cost money. For instance, if you sign up for EC2 and pick RedHat, it costs $19. ZFS allows instant rollback and continual check-summing capabilities, something developers have found lacking in the EC2 platform. This OpenSolaris on Amazon EC2 beta is currently available by invitation only. Some software vendors, including GigaSpaces, Rightscale, Thoughtworks and Zmanda, are already offering their solutions via Amazon Machine.

From OStatic: As Sun Microsystems JavaOne conference kicks off this week, the company has announced its free new OpenSolaris open source operating system. Its available for download . The big question with OpenSolaris is how it may compete against Linux rivals, especially since it is a fully supported operating system. OStatic, our open source blog, has the details.

If this story interests you then you should definitely check out our
upcoming conference, Structure 08.
may 2008
Couldn't resist. Volunteered to do a session. Power WordPress. Preamble to MinneWordCamp.
from twitter
may 2008
Become a ProBlogger Premium Sponsor
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The premium sponsorship package here at ProBlogger has just become vacant and our ad sales team would love to chat with you about the opportunities that are available. The package includes multiple prominent ad unit placements as well as an announcement of the new campaign on the blog.

To get more information on prices and whats included email our ad sales team at advertising@b5media.com

PS: our other ad packages (125125 pixel ads on the sidebar) are currently sold out but to hear about future openings in upcoming months youre also welcome to get in touch with our team.

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may 2008
Hahlo 3: now out of beta
Filed under: iPod Family, Internet, Internet Tools, iPhone We at TUAW HQ definitely have an obsession with Twitter. We use Twitterrific for the Mac, and Hahlo for iPhone. Hahlo provides great features in a beautiful, usable user interface. A couple weeks ago we got a sneak peek at the beta of Hahlo 3 (titled "the Legendary Edition"), but now you can try it out for yourself. That's because Hahlo 3 was released to the public today. In addition to a completely revamped UI, the new version integrates full searching capabilities via Summize.To try out Hahlo 3 for yourself, just point Mobile Safari over to http://hahlo.com. It's free and easy to use. If you don't have an iPod touch or iPhone, you can get to Hahlo from any standards-compliant modern browser (Safari 3, Firefox, etc.).Read
may 2008
Another Card
This is another Twitter card by the someecards guys. Funny.
may 2008
Subversion’s Future?
Ben Collins-Sussman:

I’ve chatted with other developers, and we’ve all come to some similar private conclusions about Subversion’s future. First, we think that this will probably be the “final” centralized system that gets written in the open source world — it represents the end-of-the-line for this model of code collaboration. It will continue to be used for many years, but specifically it will gain huge mindshare in the corporate world, while (eventually) losing mindshare to distributed systems in the open-source arena.

The thing is, DVCSs can be preferable to Subversion, even when used in a centralized style. That’s mostly how I use Git, but I appreciate its speed, the efficiency of its disk use (much less space used and many fewer files, which really matter for multi-gigabyte repositories), merging, and not having to worry about .svn folders getting clobbered or moved to the wrong place when I reorganize. Subversion works well, and there are a lot of tools that integrate with it, but as the ecosystems for the DVCSs improve, I can’t see why they wouldn’t start to gain mindshare and marketshare, even outside the open-source world.

Secondly, I don’t really see why Collins-Sussman thinks that Subversion’s advantage is with large projects. I think it’s the opposite.
from google
may 2008
Apple TV enabled for movie purchases
It's been a long time coming but the feature you'd been requesting for is here.

Apple TV is now enabled to allow movie purchases. No longer do you have to buy movies via iTunes then sync to your Apple TV. You can now do this directly on your favorite device. As far as pricing goes, new releases will be available for $14.99 and older titles for $9.99. Sadly, you still can't buy HD titles. I'll say give it a few more months.

The news came on the same day as the announcement that new movies can now be purchased on iTunes the same day as the DVD release (http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2008/05/01itunes.html) . So now there's absolutely no reason to go down to the video store to buy DVDs. Just turn on your Apple TV and your purchases are just a few clicks away. Can it get any better than this?
may 2008
Mapped web pages in Google Maps
Posted by Abe Murray, Product ManagerYou may have noticed Google's experimental views for search results introduced the ability to view web pages on a map. We've been having fun enabling this feature for Google Maps.We're excited about this because it helps us give you search results for more types of Maps searches. A search for Einstein highlights important locations from Einstein's life with links to web pages with more information. Mapping these locations can help you understand web searches from a new perspective. This is one of many steps we are taking to help deliver on the geoweb.Check this feature out - go to Google Maps, click on the "Show search options" link near the search box, and select "Mapped web pages" from the drop-down menu that appears. This early release works best for English queries in USA. Try out some queries - our favorites include ufo sightings and math conferences in California.
may 2008
mod_rails articles
Remember when getting a rails app running took 4 cans of Redbull and an afternoon of googling? Ahh the good old days. Over on our articles site, Paul has new tutorials up on installing mod_rails and using it to serve your app. Should take you all of 2 minutes. Kids today have it so easy.
from google
may 2008
AT&T offers free WiFi for iPhone users
Filed under: Deals, iPhone
A MacRumors tipster has discovered a treat for iPhone users from AT&T. It would seem that AT&T is offering free wireless internet access via an iPhone in Starbucks (we posted about the Starbucks-AT&T deal a little while ago) as well as in Barnes and Nobles and 71,000 other locations. MacRumors notes that you must enter your mobile iPhone number as a means of verification. A picture of the portal home page is available on MacRumors.Read
may 2008
Christopher Mark Leighton-Brooder
Christopher M. Leighton-Brooder, Minneapolis, MN/Delavan, WI


- 2008)

October 20, 1968 - April 27, 2008

Christopher Mark Leighton-Brooder, 39,
of Minneapolis, MN, formerly of Delavan, passed away Sunday, April 27,
2008, at his home. He was born on Oct. 20, 1968, in Fond du Lac, WI,
the son of Louis and Bertha (Velvikis) Brooder. He married Susanne
Leighton in July of 2005 in Minneapolis. He attended Winona State
University for Photo-Journalism, and traveled the country winning
many awards with his photography. He was an independent Creative Director and Web Designer in
the Minneapolis areas.

He is survived by his wife, Susanne of St.
Louis Park, MN; his father, Louis Brooder of Delavan; a sister, Tracy
Kramer of Hubertus, WI; his mother and father-in-law, John and Susan
Leighton of Minneapolis, MN; four nieces (Jennifer, Sabrina, Rachel and Elise); and three
nephews (Jonathan, Isaac and Nathaniel). He was preceded in death by his
mother, Bertha.

Funeral Mass will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, May 2,
2008, at ST. ANDREWS CATHOLIC CHURCH in Delavan, with Fr. Brian Holbus
officiating. Visitation will be from 9 a.m. until time of service at
the CHURCH. Burial will be at the St. Andrews Catholic Cemetery in
Delavan. MONROE FUNERAL HOME, Delavan, is assisting the family.

A separate memorial service will be held for Christopher in the Twin Cities. Details to follow at a later date.
from google
may 2008
Goodbye, my dearest Marco...
For those of you who have not heard this news yet, I apologize that you are hearing about it this way. I would have liked to tell you in person, or at least over the phone or email. I have spoken with so many relatives, friends and colleagues of both myself and my husband over the past three days that I am utterly exhausted -- both mentally and physically. I hope you will understand.

Dear Friends and Family,It is with a heavy heart that I write this letter. On Sunday afternoon, April 27, my husband Christopher Mark Leighton-Brooder passed away. To say that I am deeply devastated does not even cover the range of emotions I am feeling. I was out of town at my parent's place in Wisconsin when he shot himself, and I found him Sunday afternoon after returning home. I feel incredibly sad that he was alone when he died, and wish that there had been something I could have done to save him.Words cannot express what I felt or how I reacted. I am just heartbroken and cannot believe he is gone. Christopher suffered from depression and anxiety for many years, and quite possibly bi-polar disorder although this had never been diagnosed. It is my belief that he was on the wrong medication and/or dosage because his primary care physician simply prescribed antidepressants without following up afterward. He simply refilled the prescription, time after time over the last 2 years, with no questions asked. In fact, Christopher’s doctor did not even have a psychologist on record when the medical examiner inquired. To be honest, Christopher should have been seeing a psychiatrist to help him manage the combination of drugs he was taking as well as the dosages and side effects. I feel resentful towards his physician for not taking him seriously, and for the flippant nature in which his healthcare was managed.One of Christopher’s closest friends suffers from bi-polar disorder and talked to me about it a couple days ago. He says it took him many different doctors, medications, and treatments to find the right medication. He feels immense guilt because he had wanted to talk to Christopher about his manic-depressive episodes. I reassured Christopher's friend that each of us feels like we could have done something more, particularly me.Christopher and I had been through marital counseling in 2007 for things that, in retrospect, seem quite trivial. However, I now see that they were symptomatic of much larger problems rooted deeply in his depression. Christopher never quite recovered from his mother’s death in 1999 and there were other factors that perpetuated his pain, fear, anxiety, and sense of hopelessness.Some of you knew Christopher before we started dating, and many of you met him over the course of the last 4 years. I never would have guessed that this is how it would end, and I am sure you would agree on that.Christopher was a bright star who did everything with immense passion – even if it meant expressing an unpopular opinion or embarrassing himself in the process. He often got himself into trouble for making inappropriate jokes or saying things without thinking, but people usually forgave him because he was such a lovable guy. He was extremely passionate about his design work, and this passion earned him much respect in his field.He came to be respected by his colleagues and friends because they knew that he would speak his mind and stand up for his beliefs, no matter what.  His unique set of skills made him a valuable asset to any company at which he worked. He had immense talent in aesthetic design; expertise in technical infrastructure; a keen understanding of user experience, usability and human factors; and extreme passion for designing things the right way. These traits made him a valuable asset to each of the companies who employed his services throughout his career.I felt I could trust Christopher with my life. He loved me with such passion and abandon, and was honest to a fault. He was such a sensitive, loving person. I feel extreme guilt that I was drifting away from him when I should have been keeping an eye on him and monitoring his health, but I did not understand the depth and complexity of his illness. There were sides to Christopher that I never knew, that no one knew, and these things took control and told him what to do.I love him dearly, and am so completely sad that he will no longer be in my life. He was my ‘Marco’…I called him that because his dad calls him Mark (after his middle name). I know that he is now reunited with his mom, and somehow that gives me peace.Love, Susanne
from google
may 2008
New Relic to Monitor Performance of Rails Applications
New Relic is looking to capitalize on the growing number of Ruby on Rails application deployments, having recently raised $3.5M from Benchmark Capital for their Rails Performance Management (RPM) product.

RPM is a combination of installed software and cloud services that helps developers understand performance problems in their RoR applications. A Rails developer first installs a standard plugin that continuously sends performance data to New Relics servers. He or she can then use an RPM dashboard to identify the specific points in their code that are causing bottlenecks.

Several brand name Rails developers are already using a beta version of the RPM service, including Rails core developer Rick Olson. While the company is reluctant to disclose its current enterprise-size clients, they are obviously going after the several billion-dollar-plus businesses already using Rails in production.

New Relic was founded by Lewis Cirne, who in 1998 started a company that offered similar monitoring software for the then-young Java application industry. Cirne successfully sold that company and has brought several of his old colleagues with him to this new Rails venture.

Other startups working to make Rails deployment less painful include Heroku, which offers online development and one-click cloud deployment, and Engine Yard, which offers managed Rails service infrastructure.

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Crunch Network: CrunchBoard because its time for you to find a new Job2.0
may 2008
Architecture astronauts take over
It was seven years ago today when everybody was getting excited about Microsoft's bombastic announcement of Hailstorm, promising that "Hailstorm makes the technology in your life work together on your behalf and under your control."

What was it, really? The idea that the future operating system was on the net, on Microsoft's cloud, and you would log onto everything with Windows Passport and all your stuff would be up there. It turns out: nobody needed this place for all their stuff. And nobody trusted Microsoft with all their stuff. And Hailstorm went away.

I tried to coin a term for the kind of people who invented Hailstorm: architecture astronauts. "That's one sure tip-off to the fact that you're being assaulted by an Architecture Astronaut: the incredible amount of bombast; the heroic, utopian grandiloquence; the boastfulness; the complete lack of reality. And people buy it! The business press goes wild!"

The hallmark of an architecture astronaut is that they don't solve an actual problem... they solve something that appears to be the template of a lot of problems. Or at least, they try. Since 1988 many prominent architecture astronauts have been convinced that the biggest problem to solve is synchronization.

Follow the story, here. I started picking on one company that appeared to be particularly astronautish: Groove, which was trying to rebuild Lotus Notes (a giant synchronization machine) in a peer-to-peer fashion.

Groove had some early success selling secure networks to the military-industrial complex, but didn't make much of a ripple outside that niche. Their real success was in getting bought by Microsoft, which brought Groove's designer and chief architecture-astronaut Ray Ozzie to the role of "Chief Software Architect" at Microsoft, supposedly the technical guy that would keep inventing the future after BillG left so that Steve Ballmer would have some new territory on which to build his next illegal monopoly.

And now Ray Ozzie's big achievement arrives and what is it? (drumroll...) Microsoft Live Mesh. The future of everything. Microsoft is "moving into the cloud."

What's Microsoft Live Mesh?

Hmm, let's see.

"Imagine all your devices—PCs, and soon Macs and mobile phones—working together to give you anywhere access to the information you care about."

Wait a minute. Something smells fishy here. Isn't that exactly what Hailstorm was supposed to be? I smell an architecture astronaut.

And what is this Windows Live Mesh?

It's a way to synchronize files.

Jeez, we've had that forever. When did the first sync web sites start coming out? 1999? There were a million versions. xdrive, mydrive, idrive, youdrive, wealldrive for ice cream. Nobody cared then and nobody cares now, because synchronizing files is just not a killer application. I'm sorry. It seems like it should be. But it's not.

But Windows Live Mesh is not just a way to synchronize files. That's just the sample app. It's a whole goddamned architecture, with an API and developer tools and in insane diagram showing all the nifty layers of acronyms, and it seems like the chief astronauts at Microsoft literally expect this to be their gigantic platform in the sky which will take over when Windows becomes irrelevant on the desktop. And synchronizing files is supposed to be, like, the equivalent of Microsoft Write on Windows 1.0.

It's Groove, rewritten from scratch, one more time. Ray Ozzie just can't stop rewriting this damn app, again and again and again, and taking 5-7 years each time.

And the fact that customers never asked for this feature and none of the earlier versions really took off as huge platforms doesn't stop him.

How on earth does Microsoft continue to pour massive resources into building the same frigging synchronization platforms again and again? Damn, they just finished building something called Windows Live FolderShare and I haven't exactly noticed a stampede to that. I'll bet you've never even heard of it. The 3,398th web site that lets you upload and download files to a place on the Internet. I'm so excited I might just die.

I shouldn't really care. What Microsoft's shareholders want to waste their money building, instead of earning nice dividends from two or three fabulous monopolies, is no business of mine. I'm not a shareholder. It sort of bothers me, intellectually, that there are these people running around acting like they're building the next great thing who keep serving us the same exact TV dinner that I didn't want on Sunday night, and I didn't want it when you tried to serve it again Monday night, and you crunched it up and mixed in some cheese and I didn't eat that Tuesday night, and here it is Wednesday and you've rebuilt the whole goddamn TV dinner industry from the ground up and you're giving me 1955 salisbury steak that I just DON'T WANT. What is it going to take for you to get the message that customers don't want the things that architecture astronauts just love to build. The people? They love twitter. And flickr and delicious and picasa and tripit and ebay and a million other fun things, which they do want, and this so called synchronization problem is just not an actual problem, it's a fun programming exercise that you're doing because it's just hard enough to be interesting but not so hard that you can't figure it out.

Why I really care is that Microsoft is vacuuming up way too many programmers. Between Microsoft, with their shady recruiters making unethical exploding offers to unsuspecting college students, and Google (you're on my radar) paying untenable salaries to kids with more ultimate frisbee experience than Python, whose main job will be to play foosball in the googleplex and walk around trying to get someone...anyone...to come see the demo code they've just written with their "20% time," doing some kind of, let me guess, cloud-based synchronization... between Microsoft and Google the starting salary for a smart CS grad is inching dangerously close to six figures and these smart kids, the cream of our universities, are working on hopeless and useless architecture astronomy because these companies are like cancers, driven to grow at all cost, even though they can't think of a single useful thing to build for us, but they need another 3000-4000 comp sci grads next week. And dammit foosball doesn't play itself.

Not loving your job? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.
from google
may 2008
Twitter and more disconnection
It's weird how bloggers, gossip types and
"Web 2.0" company founders and execs have developed into this strange
pseudo-celebrity sphere, where many of them are constantly stroking
each other. What's unfortunate about it is that the podcasts, blogs and
other media I've consumed from the tech world are becoming hopelessly
out of touch.
I know I've previously blogged about this with regards to Leo Laporte and the This Week in Tech gang's comments about how "nobody uses .NET," but reverse awareness is also getting out of hand. This post from Scoble is one of countless about Twitter,
and it's hopelessly out of touch. The comments on the post seem to
concur. Twitter has become something of a flagship for attention
whoring, especially in that pseudo-celebrity community. Seriously, I'm
so tired of hearing about it, about how great it is and it's changing
the world.
I'm not generally one to be a poopy pants about new
technology, but I agree with the comments about how this thing is a
niche feature for something else, not a business. VC's keep sinking
money into it, and for what? It feels like 2000 all over again.
it wouldn't be so damn annoying if it weren't for the constant, "This
is our attention whoring party and we're so awesome," kinds of posts
and comments. Seriously, take it to your average high school, and
they'll be like, "Yeah, I can send text messages, what do I need this
for?" Even kids who live for attention don't see the value in this.
pseudo-celebrities are living unbalanced lives, as far as I'm
concerned, which probably contributes to their lack of perspective on
Twitter's true impact. I don't think it's an over-generalization to say
that most people outside the valley don't feel any need to share when
they take a dump to their followers, or know when the followers are
taking a dump. There are so many more important things going on at all
times, and this constant connection noise is, in my opinion, a waste of
Do any of these people turn off the electronic devices and
spend time with their kids, pets, a book or a movie or whatever? Is
this "knowledge" about what everyone else does really that important?
april 2008
Zenbe: Next-Generation Webmail, With A Platform Twist
Zenbe is one company willing to go out on a limb, build a completely stand-alone webmail solution, and push the envelope on whats possible with email. The service, which is currently in private beta but available to the first 500 readers who sign up here, makes advances in a number of areas. It also provides a glimpse at what email as a platform really means.
april 2008
Dev Blog: Upcoming WordCamps
WordCamps are my favorite events to go to because theres something about the core WordPress community that attracts smart folks with good philosophies that are fun to hang out with. In this post Ive collated the upcoming WordCamps we know about, including the one in San Francisco. Hopefully there will be one nearby so you can meet other WordPressers in your area.

WordCamp San Francisco will be August 16 at the Mission Bay Conference Center.

WordCamp Paris will be on May 3rd. Heres their official site.

WordCamp Italy in Milan will be May 10th. (And I believe Ill be there.)

WordCamp Birmingham UK will be July 19-20.

WordCamp Toronto will be October 4th.

There are people in the planning stages in Australia, Philippines, Beijing, Utah, Hawaii, UK, NYC, and possibly others, so if you live in one of those areas and would like to help set up a WordCamp in your area Google around or connect with bloggers in your area.

You can always find out more at WordCamp Central.
april 2008
Ubuntu Server Upgrade to 8.04 Hardy Heron
First of all I have to confess that I have been very busy over the last months or two and have not really been motivated to write. I have a few other projects happening at the same time — at work, at home, at church and at my other websites, and I apologise for neglecting this blog. Hopefully I will get back to writing here again. I am also hoping to write shorter pieces — maybe just 2 or 3 paragraphs — so I can make more frequent posts.

Now, something I have been doing over the last couple of days is to upgrade my Ubuntu servers to 8.04 Hardy Heron, which was “officially” released last Thursday. Now it has been almost two months since I wrote my last blog post, which was about switching from Gentoo to Ubuntu, and now most servers/VPSs that I am personally responsible for (except those at work) are running Ubuntu. Hardy Heron is a LTS (Long Term Support) release which I am hoping to build most my apps on for the next 2 weeks. Upgrading to it from previous Ubuntu releases is surprisingly trivial.

# apt-get update
# apt-get upgrade
# apt-get install update-manager-core
# do-release-upgrade
[blah blah blah]

The first two steps are only there to ensure you already have latest updates for the current release. It’s quite possible that “update-manager-core” has already been installed. “do-release-upgrade” does all the bulky work — checking whether a new release is available, checking how many packages need to be updated, download, unpackage and install all packages + resolving potential conflicts, etc. And at the end it just reboots your server. Wait for a minute and two, connect back in and hopefully you will be running 8.04 Hardy Heron. I was lucky that it worked on all my Ubuntu boxes.

Do note that the upgrading script, which was written in Python, does chew up quite a lot of memory. I have one tiny 64MB (+256MB swap) VPS that almost got killed with OOM. So be prepared, but YMMV.

So far as a server I haven’t experienced with too much differences. PostgreSQL 8.3 was in but Firebird 2.1 wasn’t (although it should be included “soon”). Now, back to more code hacking.
from google
april 2008
Mint Moves Into Investment Tracking
Silicon Valley-based startup Mint, which provides a service that lets users manage their checking, savings and credit card accounts online, will launch a new product on May 6 that lets users track virtually any type of investment account as well. Users will now be able to manage all of their financial assets on the Mint site. With this change, Mint says, 6,500 US financial institutions: 2,520 banks, 1,621 credit cards, and 2,381 investment accounts are supported.

Brokerage, IRA, 401k and 529 assets can be managed. For now, only student loan accounts and mortgages are left off, although support for those types of accounts is coming soon. The site will show all your buys, sells, dividend distributions, etc. across multiple accounts. Dive into a single account or equity for its individual performance. Account performance v. the S&P and other indexes is graphed, and account charges are also shown.

There are some things you still wont be able to do with Mint, such as stock trades, bill payments and funds transfers. Mint CEO Aaron Patzer says those features will eventually be added, with a focus on bill payments first. Funds transfers and stock trades are a little stickier, though, and may eventually require state and/or federal regulation of the company.

Investments will soft launch on May 6 for very active Mint users and roll out from there. Anyone who wants to be in the beta right at launch (whether they are a current Mint user or not) can sign up at mint.com/techcrunch and will be added on May 6.

Other services, including Cake Financial (another TechCrunch40 startup) Vestopia, Covestor, and UpDown also offer investment tracking.

Weve been tracking Mint since their launch at TechCrunch40 last year. The 20-person company has now raised $17 million in venture capital and has 230,000 registered users (40% of which are active, Patzer says). 10,000 new users sign up each week (13,000 last week)

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april 2008
Traditional Media Companies Fight The 'Lumbering Giant' Tag
Lumbering giants of the past or the prime innovators of the moment? That was the question moderator and EconSM conference editorial director Elizabeth Osder put to a panel of old media companies representing WSJ and its close relations, as well as Time Inc., Gannett (NYSE: GCI) and Martha Stewart. Upshot? While some collectively conceded to being somewhat lumbering in the past, thats not the case anymore.
april 2008
Dan Knutson
Possible contractor for design and IA work.
april 2008
Windows XP and the importance of listening to customers
On June 30, Microsoft will discontinue Windows XP in an
effort to force all PC users onto Windows Vista. As this date gets closer and
closer, they have stubbornly insisted that they will not change their plans.

Last week, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer blinked,
but in a rather confusing way:

The sensible part: Ballmer claimed that they might
reconsider their decision if that's what customers wanted.

The confusing part: Ballmer appeared to be completely
ignorant of the multitudes of people publicly begging for XP to get a stay
of execution.

Just want kind of customer feedback would Ballmer be able to

It's really not that hard to find overwhelming evidence of
large numbers of people who want to continue using XP. A simple Google search
for the string "save
windows XP" results in over 200 thousand hits.

Oh yeah, I forgot -- Steve probably doesn't use Google. Maybe
the problem is that he just can't find any XP fans on the Internets? :-)

Or maybe Ballmer is following the now fashionable trend of
counting an Internet person as only 3/5 of a real person?

Sure, Ron Paul has lots of fanatical supporters, but they're
mostly just people on the Internet, and they don't really count.

Sure, Barack Obama has raised truckloads of money, but he
mostly gets it from people on the Internet, and they don't really count.

Sure, over 170 thousand people have signed the Save Windows XP petition,
but those people are on the Internet, so they don't really count.

Or maybe this is simply the most arrogant corporate decision
in history? Maybe Steve can hear all of these desperate cries but he simply
doesn't care.

Power corrupts. Every monstrously large organization
eventually turns into, well, a monster. The next step is for all these
organizations to start borrowing each other's tactics. Hey Steve, why not
start waterboarding everybody who won't switch to Windows Vista? Apparently
it's legal. :-)

The whole situation is most annoying to those of us who are
running small software companies. Unlike Microsoft, we actually have to listen
to our customers. When they tell us to jump, we ask how high.

Microsoft is telling millions of its customers to jump. Out
of principle, I am doing my best not to comply:

I'm typing this blog entry on Windows XP.

That instance of Windows XP is actually a VMware image
running on my Mac. I started using a MacBook Pro with Leopard a couple
months ago. And I love it.

I just donated fifty bucks to the ReactOS project. I'm figuring that in
the long run, I've got a better chance of getting Windows XP from ReactOS
than from Redmond.

Some of my readers are horrified at this blog entry. "But
Eric, aren't you a .NET developer?"

Yes, I am. My overall posture toward Microsoft is still
friendly. I still use Windows every day. I still love Visual Studio. C# is
still my favorite language ever. Heck, I'm even a big WPF fan, so I'd actually
prefer to see the world switch to Vista. I've used Vista, and while I didn't
find it to be a compelling "must-have" upgrade, I rather liked it.

But none of this means that I'm going to give my blanket
agreement to every decision Microsoft makes. In this case, I object to
Microsoft's plan, not because Vista is so awful, but rather, because ignoring
customers is so wrong.
april 2008
Internet Radio without hacking
Some of you may already knew this, but Apple TV unofficially supports Internet Radio. I found this out when 2.0 was released a few months back.

To get this feature working, all you had to do was create a playlist with Internet radio stations in it then just sync the playlist to the Apple TV. One major flaw was that, iTunes had to be running at the same time. Otherwise, the stations would disappear from the Apple TV.

With 2.0.2 update, this is no longer the case. The playlist with the Internet Radio streams would persist even when iTunes is not running on the computer it synced with. However, once you restart the Apple TV, the playlists with Internet Radio streams would disappear.

I have written a post about this on Apple TV Source . So while, we don’t have 100% functionality for Internet Radio yet, it is still much better than before.
from google
april 2008
Manage your Wordpress source code with Git
I was just thinking of posting an article about using ReSharper and MbUnit together, but before doing that I was going to make sure the source control of the blog was up to date. Then I thought, hey, why don’t I write about that instead.

So this is about using the new Git fast version control system on Ubuntu Gutsy 7.10. to add version control to your Wordpress installation.

So why bother? Especially if you copy your wordpress structure periodically? Well, obviously you can get by with that or frequently zipping into dated snapshots after you make changes. There are advantages though. Usually you’ll get rid of the oldest zip files because you’ll probably never need them, and you probably won’t be taking a snapshot after every change you make. You’re also missing some nice extras like providing comments about changes you’ve made.

So first you’ll want to install git. One way to do that is sudo apt-get install git, but as various blogs will point out git is being developed pretty actively and the packages typically trail a few versions. Piku describes the steps you would take to install 1.5.5 which is what I did. You can also browse http://kernel.org/pub/software/scm/git/ to see which is the highest available version.

From Piku’s Blog Updating git on ubuntu:

mkdir ~/build
cd ~/build
wget http://kernel.org/pub/software/scm/git/git-
sudo apt-get build-dep git-core
tar xjf git-
cd git-
sudo make install

And now you can git stuff. Next go to your wordpress directory, create a git repository there, and commit the current version of your code.

cd /path/to/your/site/wordpress
git init
git add .
git commit -m "initial import"

That’s it. If you want to ls -la you will see there is now a hidden .git directory inside the wordpress directory. It contains all information you would need to restore all of the contents to this state at any time.

Also assuming your Wordpress directory is being published by something like Apache, you’ll want to adjust the security. The following line will take away any read-only access the www-data Apache user would have by default. If you don’t do this, then you’re probably publishing your repository for the rest of the world to download. Very, very bad since your mysql password is probably in the wp-config.php file.

chmod -R og-rwd .git

You can also check the history with git log, or check to see if any files have been added or modified with git status.

Now whenever you make changes you can update your own private version control system with the following:

git status
git add .
git commit -m "changed blah blah for yadda reasons"
git log

The next thing you’re probably going to want to do is push a copy of this hidden git repository onto another location, or even better onto another machine. You may also have a situation where you will make some local changes and decide you simply want to revert to the most recent commit. At this point I think the responsible thing for me to do is leave you searching the git site itself because I would hate to throw a command-line out there someone with more experience will say is completely wrong.

Ah, what the heck. I’ll throw one out there and hopefully someone who knows what they’re doing will correct it.

git reset --hard will force the current directory to return to the state which was last committed. The exception will be new files that have never been added, but you can git status to see which extra files that would be. If you’re feeling especially brave, or potentially foolish, you could do the following:

sudo rm -rf *
git reset --hard
git status

Of course you’ll want to be absolutely certain your current directory is the correct one. Do a “ls -la” first to make sure there’s the .git folder present before you rm. I’ve verified the “sudo rm -rf *” line will not remove the hidden .git folder at the same time. Still it’s such a scary thing to do I’d recommend just using “git status” and removing the extras after you reset.

(As always any corrections in comments are greatly appreciated.)
from google
april 2008
Getting to Know the Nabaztag Internet Rabbit
Shortly after I moved to France last year, Glenn Fleishman offered to introduce me to his contacts at a company called Violet that's based here in Paris. (And thus, by the way, it's pronounced "vee-oh-LAY.") Violet is best known as the developer of the Nabaztag Internet-enabled rabbit, and this product sounded sufficiently wacky that I was delighted to pay its creators a visit. It turned out they're located just down the street from me, about a ten-minute walk away, and I'd unknowingly passed their offices dozens of times already. So I set up an appointment, and Morgen and I met with Rafi Haladjian (one of the Nabaztag's inventors) and Jean-François Kitten
(yes, apparently his real name) for a personal, hands-on demo of the Wi-Fi bunny.

That was more than seven months ago. Ever since, I've intended to write about the Nabaztag and the philosophy behind it, but every time I've started pondering what to say, I've gotten profoundly stuck. Even now, I'm not entirely sure what to think of it. I believe I could argue with equal conviction that this device is surprisingly useful or a ridiculous waste of $165. In any case, there's certainly more to this gadget than meets the eye. Luckily (or unluckily, depending on your point of view), little appears to have changed in the Internet rabbit arena since last fall, so I believe my observations are still pertinent.

Nabaztag Basics -- First things first: how does one pronounce this strange word? I wrote it phonetically in my notes the way its designer said it - roughly, "NAB-us-tag," where the stress is on the first syllable and the middle vowel is a schwa. It's the Armenian word for "rabbit," and it seems to make as little sense to French-speaking people as it does in English.

In case you've not kept up with the news in rabbit technology over the past few years, let me give you a quick description of the Nabaztag. It's a rounded conical hunk of plastic about 9 inches (23 cm) tall (including the two protruding ears), with eyes and a nose painted on front, a belly-button microphone, and a single button on top - but no other visible user interface. You plug in the AC adapter (it doesn't work with Energizer batteries, sorry) and it connects to the nearest open Wi-Fi network. (There are provisions to use password-protected networks, too, though they require a bit of fiddling to set up.) When the bunny powers on, several multicolored LEDs glow from behind the plastic case, and the motorized ears spin around in a
manner that would surely be quite painful for a real rabbit.

Then you go to a Web page to register your adopted rabbit - yes, they say "adopt" to mean "buy" - and specify a bunch of preferences and personal information such as where you live and what kinds of news and music you're interested in. From then on, your Nabaztag becomes an interactive network appliance that can do any or all of a long list of things. For example, various combinations of lights (solid or blinking, in different configurations and colors) could indicate:

The current or predicted weather

The status of stocks or other financial indices of interest to you

The air quality outside

How many new email messages you have in your inbox

Whether someone has left you a voice message

The built-in microphone and speaker extend the list of capabilities much further. To mention just a few examples, the Nabaztag can:

Read headlines from your favorite RSS feeds in a synthesized voice

Play Internet radio stations or podcasts

Announce the current time periodically

Act as a non-real-time intercom with another Nabaztag - press the button, record a message, and it's sent to someone else's rabbit for playback

Respond to spoken commands (a recording of your voice is sent to Violet's servers, where it's run through a speech recognition algorithm and the resulting command is sent back to your Nabaztag)

Oh, and let's not forget the ears! Normally they spin at various times without any particular meaning. But you can configure them in arbitrary positions and send them to your friend's Nabaztag (alone or along with a voice message) - and your friend's Nabaztag's ears will assume the same positions. (For example, point both ears down to mean "I'm sad" or whatever.) Hey, who needs video, voice, text, or even flashing lights when we have digital semaphores! For some reason, this capability tickled me more than anything else the little bunny can do. (Oh, and if you pair your Nabaztag with someone else's to "hard-wire" messages like ear positions between the two rabbits, that's called marrying them. Yep. To the best of my
knowledge, though, they only reproduce within Violet's factory.)

Last but not least is a built-in RFID reader. The idea is that you buy special RFID tags called "Ztamps" to stick on your keys, glasses, and other objects. When these objects come into proximity with your Nabaztag's nose, it notices they're there and can take whatever action you want, such as playing a sound or sending a message. As far as I can tell, the Ztamps aren't yet available separately, but Violet does sell a variety of Ztamp-equipped children's books (in French only, for now). When your child holds one of these books up to the Nabaztag, the rabbit reads the book aloud. That's right: your robot rabbit can relieve you of the tedium of bonding with your kids by reading them their bedtime story. (I have yet to see a child interact
with a Nabaztag in person, and I'm thinking it's possibly best that way.)

Although the Nabaztag comes pre-configured to deliver certain kinds of information right out of the burrow - um, box - the company expects and encourages extensive personalization and even hacking; they also offer an API for third-party developers to create their own applications and services. (Some Nabaztag services are free, by the way, while others require a paid subscription.) There's even a healthy aftermarket for replacement ears in a variety of colors and patterns.

By the way, I should mention that the current generation of Internet rabbit is called "Nabaztag/tag" - I guess that's Armenian rabbit-speak for "rabbit 2.0" - the original Nabaztag, which is still available for about $95, doesn't include the microphone or RFID reader, and doesn't support WPA encryption or streaming MP3 audio. The company representatives I spoke to said that future generations would be designated with additional "/tag" endings. Perhaps they'll come with a selection of RFID Nabaztag/tag/tag tags.

Down the Rabbit Hole -- All right, so you can buy this groovy little bunny appliance thingy that can do a million and one things, but who really needs one? The candid answer, according to Violet's Haladjian, is no one. He'd be the first to admit, he says, that Internet rabbits aren't going to change the world, that he's not looking to build the future of his company on plastic bunnies. The Nabaztag is simply the first example of a larger idea Violet is trying to promote - that of leveraging the power of ubiquitous wireless Internet access to turn ordinary objects into smart objects. We're accustomed, he explained, to having a computer screen (or, at least, some kind of screen) mediate our experience of the
Internet. But although computers make good all-purpose tools, there's life beyond the PC - and there are other, simpler and more direct ways to use that near-universal connectivity. So think of the Nabaztag as a rather elaborate proof of concept for a future in which lots of friendly little objects can do lots of useful things by virtue of being connected to each other and to a global source of infinite data. Violet's ambition is to connect everything in the world, and they're starting by connecting small, familiar-ish objects.

That word "friendly," by the way, is key. As an example, Haladjian cited home automation systems, which have been around for decades, but which, he says, are still complex and intimidating enough to scare away many people. A little rabbit with funny ears and a single button, on the other hand, isn't intimidating. You interact with it in natural ways like talking to it and holding objects in front of it rather than by connecting wires and looking at a screen and typing or mousing. So it hints at a more user-friendly future of invisible computing in which much simpler objects with embedded computers replace many of the functions for which we currently rely on full-blown
desktop or laptop computers.

This idea, of course, is not unique to Violet or the Nabaztag. For example, a company called Ambient offers a number of small Internet-enabled devices, such as the $150 Ambient Orb, which glows in different colors to indicate information like traffic, weather, and stock prices; and the $124.99 Ambient Umbrella, whose handle glows when rain is expected. You can buy standalone devices to stream Internet radio, and even the Apple TV is a type of Internet appliance. (There's also the $179.95 Chumby, a little Wi-Fi-connected gadget that can serve up the time, weather, traffic, news, music, and so on - though unlike the others mentioned here, it still relies on a conventional LCD screen to display data, making it more like a keyboard-less computer than an appliance; see "Chumby: The Beanbag Computer," 2007-12-14.) In any case, the Nabaztag is the only one I can think of with anthropomorphic (or, uh, kuniklomorphic) characteristics.

The question is why someone might find a Nabaztag (or any other such appliance) worth buying when their existing, conventional computer can do almost all the same things (though I've never seen a Mac with motorized ears). The Violet reps suggested that the Nabaztag is especially good for applications that aren't worth your full attention - for providing information in the background, perhaps even while you're focused on some other task on your computer. I think that's on the right track. I can attest that as an introvert, I'd be much less distracted by unobtrusive glowing lights on a device over on the table than by something popping up … [more]
from google
april 2008
CBS SportsLine Founder to Launch OPEN Sports Network
Fantasy sports leagues are incredibly popular but many of them are still locked in archaic walled gardens. If OPEN Sports Network makes good on their promise of open APIs, they may be able to differentiate themselves from other, established, sites.
april 2008
Interview with Leon Shklar - EVP - Media Technology - Reuters
Interviewers: Scott Swigart and Sean Campbell Interviewee: Leon Shklar In this interview we talk with Leon Shklar - EVP of Media Technology for Reuters. In specific, we talk about: Moving Reuters.com to an open source stack Choosing and supporting open source software Making code changes to open source packages Licenses and governance in open source projects The perception and reality of open source companies (more) Bookmark this: Del.icio.usdiggredditTechnoratiStumble UponBloglines
april 2008
The $300,000 Watch That Doesnt Tell Time - The Wealth Report - WSJ
Anyone up for a $300,000 watch that doesn't tell the time? OMG.
april 2008
Murdoch's WSJ: More News, Less Business
Keep forgetting what paper you're reading when you crack the WSJ in the morning? It's not you. It really is different since Rupert Murdoch bought it last year.

How different? The Project on Excellence in Journalism took a tally since News Corp. (NWS) took over: Business coverage is down 50% (!) on the front page, while political and foreign news are way up. Since Dec. 13, the Journal has devoted almost as much front-page real estate to politics (18%) as the New York Times (26.5%).

A complete study of the transformation is available at journalism.org, but here's a handy pre- and post-Murdoch synopsis:
april 2008
Mark Hamburg leaves Adobe
News has been announced that Mark Hamburg has decided to leave Adobe after having worked at the company for over 17 years. Mark joined Adobe in the Fall of 1990, not long after Photoshop 1.0 was released and was instrumental in devising many of the ‘wow’ features we have all come to love and rely on daily when we work with Photoshop.

Mark left the Photoshop team after Photoshop 7 shipped and went to work developing a new paradigm in image processing which would finally ship as the product named Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.

Jeff Schewe is fond of saying about Mark, “be careful what you wish for”!

For example, around the time I first joined the Photoshop 5.0 beta a lot of Photoshop customers had requested a multiple undo. What we got was far more than that, and came in the form of the ‘History’ feature, which had the ability to take snapshots and paint from different history states.

Six years ago Mark left his position as chief architect of Photoshop in order to start work on the Shadowland project (which became Lightroom) and right up until this week Mark was fine-tuning the controls for non-destructive localized editing in Lightroom. Ever since Lightroom launched, users have been asking for was a means to dodge and burn raw images, and if you have been testing the Lightroom 2.0 public beta, you will know that you can now also paint with colour, saturation and clarity, plus you have really accurate auto masking with flow and density brush controls. It’s yet another example of Mark’s programming genius and gift for innovation.

Over the last ten years or so I have enjoyed taking part in the various internal discussion lists at Adobe and Mark’s direct involvement with testers like myself has always helped make it an exciting and challenging experience for all involved. What’s made it particularly rewarding for me is that Mark is someone who understands what photographers want from their software and we could often see our thoughts and ideas evolve into finished features.

I don’t think one can downplay the significance of Mark’s departure because the contribution he made to the development of Photoshop and Lightroom has certainly been enormous and it goes without saying that his presence will be missed at Adobe.

On the other hand, with Lightroom 2.0 now at public beta much of the groundwork on Lightroom has already been accomplished (especially on the non-destructive image processing side) and he leaves at a time where the Lightroom team has expanded from a team of one (Mark) to now include over fifty talented individuals who have all successfully guided Lightroom from concept to finished product.

While Mark’s departure does leave a gap, Lightroom’s future looks set to continue when development gears up for work on version 3.0. As for what Mark is going to do next, it is known that he is now going to Microsoft in Seattle, and that his future work there won’t involve digital imaging, but instead be focussed on the “user experience”. So remember Jeff’s advice and be careful what you wish for!
from google
april 2008
Start a business, not a startup
Startups can bring new ideas to market. They can give people a chance to change the world on their own terms. They can create something where nothing existed before. There is no doubt that they are exciting things to be a part of.

But, as much as the tech world tries to treat them as special, we dont believe startups are special. They arent born out of big bang moments where the laws that govern other businesses dont apply.

From the moment they go live, startups are as real as any other business. They are governed by the same set of market forces and economic precepts that wrap around every other company, new or old.

At the atomic level, all businesses need to generate revenue to pay their bills, grow their business, and stay in business. The sooner they find themselves in the black, the better chance theyll have to survive. Call it a business survival instinct businesses have to feed themselves or theyll die.

Suggesting startups specifically tech startups dont need to look for revenue opportunities now is akin to spoiling a child and shielding them from the outside world: Theyre far less prepared when they eventually have to leave the house for the first time.

A poorly run startup is a poorly run business. A wonderfully run startup is a wonderfully run business. I dont believe there are many great startups that are bad businesses. Maybe less than 1%. If the business is bad the startup is bad. A great idea, maybe, but a great business, no.

So if you start something up, start a business, dont start a startup.
april 2008
Google Finance China, new Finance homepage
After adding Shanghai/Shenzhen market data into Google Finance and launching the Chinese finance onebox last year, we are excited to announce the launch of Google Finance China. Now it's easier to get Chinese stock and mutual fund data through our easy-to-use and familiar interface in Chinese.
april 2008
OpenID Marches On
First, JanRain (who run the myOpenID provider service) have come out with an ID Selector widget for web developers. Drop their javascript on your page, and theyll create a control to make it easy for a user to pick their own provider and sign in to your site. Lowering the friction of OpenID use will contribute to its spread.
april 2008
Why I love working with family people
The stereotypical startup dream hire is a 20-something with as little life as possible outside of computers. The one thatll be happy working 14-hour crunch days for weeks on end sprinting for an ever-shifting target that keeps being 90% done for 90% of the time. The one you can make sleep under the table or please with a foosball table in the center of the room. The one where the company paying for dinner pizza is awesome.

I should know. I used to be that gullible and even take an odd pride in being up to the job. But it didnt take long to catch on to the idea that packing a room full of these people was merely a crutch for shoddy management, lousy execution, and myths like this is the only way we can compete against the big guys. And you certainly need the latter if youre trying to give turds wings, but how about just not trying to make crap fly in the first place?

Thats why I like working with the family man or woman. They come in as a cold bath of reality. When people have other obligations outside of work that they actually care more about than your probably-not-so-world-changing idea, the crutches are not available as an easy way out, and youll have to walk by the power of your good ideas and execution or youll fall fast and early. Thats a good thing!

From the experience Ive had working with family people, Ive found an amazing ability to get stuff done when the objectives are reasonably clear, the work appears to have meaning, and if it can be done within the scope of what should constitute a work week. When there are real constraints on your time, like you have to pickup the kids or make them dinner or put them to bed, it appears to bring a serenity of focus to the specific hours dedicated to work.

This is what companies need, startups or not. They need constraints and especially constraints on how often you can play the hero card to Get This Very Important Project Done. Most projects are just not that important and most things just shouldnt be done anyway, despite how good of an idea you feel it is in the heat of the moment.

Update: Removed potential confusion around labor discrimination.
april 2008
Twitter cans another engineer
When Twitter hired Lee Mighdoll as VP of engineering and operations in January, cofounder Biz Stone called him the "perfect match" for the company. Not anymore. Mighdoll is out after just three months of the job. "The match was not perfect," Stone told SAI in an email. Mighdoll is the second engineer reported to have left Twitter in the last two days; architect Blaine Cook fled the country yesterday. Neither was able to fix Twitter's oft-reported propensity to crash. We hear the final straw to break Biz Stone's back was not the breakdown yesterday that TechCrunch described as a "privacy disaster". Makes sense, because isn't that Twitter's raison d'tre?
april 2008
5 Simple Ways To Keep Up With The Rails Community
Update: There are some great suggestions in the comments as well.

There's a lot going on in the world of Rails these days.  This is great for developers, but sometimes it can be difficult to keep up with all latest happenings in the community.  In addition to changes in Ruby 1.9 and Edge Rails, there's a constant stream of news with regards to well-known Rails projects, emerging plugins and development/coding strategies.

Below are a few resources I use to stay up-to-date without experiencing information overload:

RubyFlow.com - This relatively new site is a great way to quickly see daily Rails news.  It was built by Peter Cooper (author of Beginning Ruby and the blog Ruby Inside).  Anyone from the community can post links on the site, or comment on posts.  I find myself visiting here multiple times per day to get a quick sense of what's happening and to make sure I haven't missed any important news.
GitHub - In addition to being a public git repository, GitHub has become a developer social network of sorts.  By following projects that interest you (including Rails itself), you end up with a single place to view all the commits that have happened on your projects.
Twitter - For the twitter users out there, there are a few options.  First, there's a user called rornews that you can follow, which posts links to Rails blog and job postings across the web.  You can also follow a number of members of the Rails community who are on twitter, including Obie Fernandez, Geoffrey Grosenbach, Ryan Bates, and why the lucky stiff (side note: anyone is welcome to follow me on twitter as well!).  Finally, you can consider using the tracking feature on twitter to follow "rails" or "ruby on rails".  This will give you a lot of updates, but if you're willing to sift through it you'll probably learn about news almost as soon as it happens.
Shared Feeds - I really like shared feeds (also called link blogs) as a way to see the best content filtered through a trusted source.  A few feeds to check out include Obie Fernandez, Geoffrey Grosenbach, and what appears to be "Matz" himself.  Or rather than following a single person, you try tracking searches for "rails" on FriendFeed or RSSmeme.
Blog Suggestions - There are a whole bunch of great Rails blogs out there, but if I had to choose the top 3 they would be the official Ruby on Rails blog, The Rails Way, and Ryan's Scraps (I find the "What's New in Edge Rails" posts to be invaluable).

If anyone has any other suggestions, please post them in the comments!
from google
april 2008
Twitter Trends: Twist
The popularity of Google Trends, which lets users compare the relative popularity of words and phrases based on the quantity of search queries on Google over time, is starting to spawn similar services based on different data sets. Facebook now has Lexicon (launched April 15), which shows trends based on Wall posts. Twitter doesnt have an official in house trends product of their own, but Flaptor just released one called Twist. Like the related Google and Facebook services, Twist looks at mentions of the queried terms in messages and graphs them over time. Users can also click on any of the terms and go directly to the recent Twitter messages containing that term. Flaptor also has a good Twitter search tool, as well as a number of other projects. Brand owners, researchers and others are always looking for more data, and these tools are very useful for that. Startups like Scout Labs are also emerging to help aggregate and make sense of as much of this data as possible. My guess is well see them integrate as much of it as possible. CrunchBase Information Twist Information provided by CrunchBase Crunch Network: CrunchGear drool over the sexiest new gadgets and hardware.
april 2008
Flickr: 704 API Calls per Second
As announced on the Flickr Blog, Flickr has launched a new website for developers: Flickr Code. And besides announcing the new site theyve both a) given interesting details on just how much API traffic they do each day (see below), and b) they announced theyre open sourcing Flickr Uploadr, the cross-platform (Windows and OS X) desktop tool for uploading photos to Flickr.

New at Flickr Code, you can find:

a weblog (Code: Flickr Developer Blog )
a ticket tracker
a public subversion repository

Uploadr is built on on Mozillas XUL Runner. Now that Uploadr is open source, developers can customize and extend its functionality. Maybe you will want to apply specific effects (such as watermarking) to your photos before uploading them. More radically, perhaps Uploadr can be transformed to be a full-function desktop UI to Flickr, to become a Viewr and Downloadr all in one. Maybe developers will extend the Flickr Uploadr to talk to sites other than Flickr. The potential is there for all this development.

How to get started with hacking Uploadr? A good starting point is Flickr Uploadr, start to finish now to learn about the challenges of developing cross-platform apps using XULRunner. Check out the video interview with developer Rob Crowley to get an in-depth story. You can also join the discussion at the Flickr Group Hacking Uploadr.

Even though the open source Uploadr is the big announcement coming from code.flickr.com, dont miss the fascinating glimpse that the announcement provides into the tremendous buzz continuing around the venerable Flickr API (which you may know as the 2nd most mashed up API listed in ProgrammableWeb with 329 Flickr mashups listed):

In the last week we deployed new code to Flickr 50 times, including 546 changes by 16 people. We issued over 2,000 new API keys, and third party developers made an average of 704 API calls per second, across 109 public API methods. We added 1 new API method, and updated 7 others. There are approximately 10,000 lines of open source code in our public subversion repository.

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april 2008
Identicons from Gravatar
You may notice in my comments now for people who don’t have an existing Gravatar I show cool geometric patterns. These are called Identicons and they were originally conceived by Don Park. With a single parameter, you can have the Gravatar API fall back to an identicon or even force it to return one. This works in any size Gravatar supports, up to 512 pixels. Sweet!
from google
april 2008
Muxtape With Coverflow Using Fluid
Naturally I have combined these three to-dos into one. Below is a quick tutorial on harnessing the power of Fluids new thumbnail plugin to create a simple Muxtape application with sweet coverflow previews of the featured mixes. Video after the ju
april 2008
This is a hideous tool that can be used to export your entire Twitter timeline to a CSV file, readable by any spreadsheet application (Excel, Numbers, etc.). Exported data includes the tweet plus a timestamp of when it was sent.
april 2008
Most unpopular president since polling was invented
Mr. 28% is now the most unpopular president in Gallup history.
President Bush has set a record he'd presumably prefer to avoid: the highest disapproval rating of any president in the 70-year history of the Gallup Poll.
In a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday, 28% of Americans approve of the job Bush is doing; 69% disapprove. The approval rating matches the low point of his presidency, and the disapproval sets a new high for any president since Franklin Roosevelt.
The previous record of 67% was reached by Harry Truman in January 1952, when the United States was enmeshed in the Korean War.
You know what makes this number particularly amazing? Bush, post-9-11, notched the highest approval ratings in Gallup history. So he literally went from the most popular president, to the most hated. The whole country is celebrating their Bush Derangement Syndrome!
And McCain is eager to follow in his footsteps.
april 2008
Are you sure you want to be in San Francisco?
Techies, VCs, and the press are always swooning over the glory of the Bay area. This is where all the excitement, the money, and the people are, they say. And that’s true to the extent that your great big idea fits the current cultural mold of that environment.

If you’re looking to build the next web 2.0 social media eyeball-collecting application, don’t want to worry about boring details like revenues, and hope to either flip to Google for an early $20 million or get that Facebook billion-dollar valuation, the Bay area is exactly where you want to be. No where else do you have the connections, the people, and the atmosphere available to make that dream happen.

But this strain of startups is a highly inbred line that holds more risks than most people realize. It’s not that they never work financially, enough people are sipping Margaritas on sunny beaches from towering buyouts to prove the contrary. And it’s not that they don’t work socially — I personally enjoy YouTube as much as the next guy. It’s that the Bay area pipeline for building web businesses isn’t optimized to carry much else than these stereotypes.Other people’s money
If your idea for a web business is more along the lines of the mundane “product * price = profit” (3P) variety, I think the culture of San Francisco and that famous 20-mile radius around Stanford is anything but helpful. I might even go as far as say it’s downright harmful.

The flush availability of other people’s money is simply too tempting. When you’re not spending your own money, it’s easy to splash on a big open office on day one, a staff of 10+ in no time, and have few worries about paying the bills on the 1st of the month. It takes away much of the urgency to make money that I think is critical to build sustainable businesses. It gives you too many resources to be satisfied building simple tools for niche markets. Everything becomes about catching that huge wave.

Fighting for talent
And besides the simple temptation of having a few million dollars in the bank account — even though they’re not really yours and probably never will be — it breeds an asset bubble for everything else. When tons of half-baked startups out there have a million-dollar bank roll, they’re going to be looking pretty sharp when shopping for talent.

If you’re a programmer or designer working in this area, you probably have more than a few friends or acquaintances who got filthy rich simply being on the ground floor of Google or YouTube or some other company that either made them a millionaire through acquisition or IPO. Are you really going to be interested working for a company that simply aims to make a few measly millions for the first couple of years? Why settle for something that’ll take 5, 7, 10 years to mature when you can instead just hop from company to company every 6-18 months in search of that lottery ticket.

So while there is undoubtedly legions of good people available, you’re unlikely to be able to hire or retain them in an environment where every business magazine cover of is telling people that the next billionaire is even younger than the previous. No wonder people feel stressed out to make it huge before they’re 30 and will jump at any opportunity that looks like this might be it.

But where else?
If San Francisco, the Bay area, and Sillicon Valley aren’t good places to start a web business of the 3P variety, where is? Well, I’d say just about any place but. Basecamp came from Chicago/Copenhagen, FogBugz from New York, Campaign Monitor from Australia, Shopify from Ottawa, Freshbooks from Toronto, Blinksale from Texas, and there are tons of other applications of the same ilk that come from all over the world.

So stop worrying to much about where you are and start worrying about how you’re going to make your business succeed the old fashion way: Through having a better product than the competition that people are willing to pay for.

P.S.: None of this means that it’s impossible to build a web business in San Francisco that makes money by selling a product. There are plenty of examples of that too. Like TypePad or FaxItNice. This is an argument that the area is overrated as a great place for starting a company.
from google
april 2008
1,800 MySQL Servers with Two DBAs
Here’s a statistic I love, Facebook is running
1,800 MySQL Servers with only 2 DBAs. Impressive. I love seeing services show how
far you can go towards admin-free operation. 2:1,800 is respectable and for database
servers it downright impressive. This data from a short but interesting report at: http://www.paragon-cs.com/wordpress/?p=144.


The Facebook fleet has grown fairly dramatically
of late.   For example, Facebook is the largest Memcached
installation and the most recent
reports I had come across have 200
Memcached servers at facebook.
 At the Scaling
MySQL panel, they report 805 Memcached


1,800 MySQL Servers, insulated by 805 Memcached
servers, and driven by 10,000 web servers. Smells like success.




Thanks to Dare
Obasanjo for pointing me to this


James Hamilton, Windows
Live Platform Services

Bldg RedW-D/2072, One Microsoft Way, Redmond, Washington, 98052

W:+1(425)703-9972 | C:+1(206)910-4692 | H:+1(206)201-1859 | JamesRH@microsoft.com

H:mvdirona.com |
| blog:http://perspectives.mvdirona.com



From Perspectives.
from google
april 2008
Who Are The Biggest Users of Amazon Web Services? Its Not Startups.
Amazon loves to talk about its Web Services because it positions the company as a bold innovator bringing cloud computing to the unwashed masses and other companies still stuck in the land of legacy data centers. But it is coy when it comes to details about the actual business behind Amazon Web Services, which includes its S3 storage service, EC2 compute cloud, and SimpleDB online database. During its fourth-quarter earnings call, Amazon offered up the tidbit that Amazon Web Services (AWS) now uses up more bandwidth than Amazon.com proper, but not much else. You could infer, however, that the business is not yet very large, accounting for less than $131 million of Amazons $5.7 billion in revenues that quarter. The revenues may be small, but they are no doubt growing very quickly. So who are using these services? A high-ranking Amazon executive told me there are 60,000 different customers across the various Amazon Web Services, and most of them are not the startups that are normally associated with on-demand computing. Rather the biggest customers in both number and amount of computing resources consumed are divisions of banks, pharmaceuticals companies and other large corporations who try AWS once for a temporary project, and then get hooked. That surprised me. These are the types of customers you wouldnt expect to see running their data through a hosted service. But apparently the cost advantage of paying by the drink versus buying new hardware and staffing up to do a random data run is convincing them to trust more of their data with Amazon. It goes without saying that these are the types of companies who demand the highest security for their data. Banks and drug companies. And they have a lot of data to crunch. You just hear more about the startups because many are increasingly putting their entire businesses on Amazon, and the economics of cloud computing really levels the playing field for them. They also tend to be more open about their data practices. But cloud computing is already going much deeper than the startup world, and gaining adherents in big IT organizations. Crunch Network: CrunchBoard because its time for you to find a new Job2.0
april 2008
Wall Street Journal Paper Redesign: Launching Tomorrow; Broader Focus
The much-anticipated Wall Street Journal print redesign is launching tomorrow, as this long Newsweek story writes about, including positioning it as Rupert Murdoch's full frontal assault on the New York Times (NYSE: NYT). The series of editorial and design changes, which is more evolutionary than revolutionary, will include:

-- lots more news stories on politics and national and international affairs on page one.

-- the entire A section will become as a catchall for general news.

-- the second section, Marketplace, now becomes home to the Journal's coverage of corporate America, getting its own ascendancy of sorts.

-- the third section, Money and Investing, remains the showcase for news of the financial markets and investing.

-- the op-ed section will grow to three pages from two.

-- a culture section is under development for a fall debut in the Journal's weekend edition, and Murdoch has added a weekly sports page.

-- the online redesign is slated to launch this fall, not in the next few weeks as we reported first. Meanwhile, the umbrella, as we reported, has now started appearing on all WSJ Digital Network sites, which includes WSJ.com, Barrons.com, MarketWatch and others.

As for Murdoch's own involvement in WSJ, if you had any doubts, here it is: "Rather than entrust the job of all this to subordinates, Murdoch has been devoting half his time since acquiring Dow Jones (NYSE: NWS) to reshaping the paper. He has become a regular and jarring presence in the Journal newsroom: ever since he appeared unannounced on Easter--to, as he puts it, 'set an example'--top editors have been dragging themselves into the Journal's headquarters across from Ground Zero on Sundays."
april 2008
TwittEarth Makes Twitter A Global Experience
Twitter visualizations are nothing new, but they always provide a great way to waste some time. The newest, TwittEarth, is eye-candy at its finest - a mesmerizing and mostly useless diversion that sticks you in space and whips you around the globe to see a new geo-located tweet every ten seconds. Tweets are accompanied by small, goofy icons that remain static on the map, eventually providing an interesting representation of usage distribution.

The app itself is very simple at this point. There dont seem to be any settings to speak of, and there isnt any way to stray from the default view. Users can login to the application and send their own messages, but its far more fun to zone out and watch tweets pop up around the globe.

TwittEarth is available as a Windows screen saver (a Mac version is on the way), and was created by Digitas France SA.

Crunch Network: MobileCrunch Mobile Gadgets and Applications, Delivered Daily.
april 2008
Google Website Optimizer Opens Up
One of Googles lesser-known web developer tools is Google Website Optimizer. That may be because until recently you could only use this tool in conjunction with a Google AdWords campaign. Now, however, the tool has relaunched as open and standalone, complete with its own blog. If youre involved with site design and development, its worth getting to know how this works.
april 2008
Chris McCormack, Macca Conference Call - April 17, 2008
For those that were not on the Chris McCormack - Macca call last night (April 17th, 08) here is my brief synopsis of it ( I was in the midst of packing for a wedding, uploading IMAZ pics, and eating some cookies so I missed some parts):

-First off Macca sounded just like you see him in tv interviews: super relaxed, eager to share about anything and everything, not holding back on answers, and once again displayed his encyclopedia-like knowledge about our sport and fellow competitors. He was very open to sharing and I think he probably went over the time limit he was getting compensated for.

-He has just finished a 10 week base period and is moving into harder stuff ahead of Wildflower (can we get some live ST coverage of Wildflower? Come on slowman!). The other 2 focus races he mentioned were Ironman Germany and obviously Kona.

-Speaking about his bike vs run he really went into detail about why he has backed off on the bike at Kona after winning other Ironmans off the front. For Kona he said he figured out that he needed to stay under 155 hear rate till right about 4 hours and then allowing it to rise modestly heading back into town.

-Bike setup: He mentioned that for him Ironman is all about comfort. He specifically mentioned Tjorborn and Chris Lieto as guys whose plan is to ride hard and hold on for the marathon (“you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out their plan”). The questioner asked him specifically about why he was so relaxed and unsteep (ST steep crew where u at?) - Macca mentioned that coming from short course (along with Crowie) that he had moved from a more relaxed setup to his current one that is not as steep as the Normans or Bjorns of the world but allows him to run fast.

-About Bjorn – he said that Bjorn has “beautiful bike splits” in his aggressive position but then has “horrendous marathon splits” so what Macca has decided is to position himself in a way that allows for optimal running (by the way, this is exactly what Greg Bennett told me at Chicago Tri last year, interesting for me to hear two very opposite athletes that are considered “run specialists” at different distances offer the same critique - video interview with Bennett over at www.youtube.com/iwilltri )

-He mentioned the ability of him and Tjorborn and current guys to go to the lab and get tested. For Macca it was water, weight, and sweat rate. For Tjorborn it was the heat issue. He mentioned that for everyone it is different strengths and weaknesses and since he is a biger athlete he’d ever be able to win off the front at Kona cause he would not be able to run well (he said at the beginning of his Kona experiences he couldn’t even put together a measly three hour marathon cause he had ridden too hard). He mentioned Crowie “not even wearing an aero helmet” and how each has to play to his strengths.

-As the heaviest triathlete to win Kona (80kilos), he mentioned that he loses a lot of water during the race (one reason why Mark Allen counseled him to train up in Boulder - to “become a camel”) and on the nutritional side will take 440 calories (I was surprised by the 440 exact # but Macca is VERY number based/analytical) for first three hours of bike and then reduce to 350 calories and less as race progresses.

-Caffeine: Peter Reid got him on coffee (“I had never had a cup of coffee before coming to America mate”). He says he will drink tons of coffee, then quit cold turkey for 3-4 weeks before Ironman, and then take the double caffeinated clif shots (I guess Clif makes him a special blend) that really give him a boost. He has a Red Bull at run special needs which gives him an extra boost.

-Mental Toughness: he talked a lot about Mark Allen helping him in this area – I wish I had taken more notes but I stopped writing and just listened – this is heavy stuff where the boys and the men get weeded out, if you have read/listened to MA you know he is big on it and Macca spent a good deal of time on this… “when I was coming out of transition in ‘07 running 5:30s people were yelling and saying I was going too fast, and that is when I remember what MA had told me – you can’t doubt yourself, you have to press on. I had worked for this moment, it was my moment and I was not going to second guess myself.”

He talked about seeing Crowie give him a wave (I am guessing at the turn around?) and how he didn’t wave back because he didn’t want to give any energy away – this is something that MA has talked about in the past and I think Peter Reid too. “It was my moment, I kept telling myself don’t screw this up, you have to finish.”
Sorry I don’t have more notes about this but it was pretty inspiring and insightful to listen to him replay his Kona mental moments.

-Macca seemed to be so aware of everything around him during the race - he mentioned knowing how guys would ride, how they could run (he thought Lieto was running a very smart marathon) . Crowie ran 1:30 into him at the end but that was when Macca knew he’d win and had started to celebrate.

-Ironman pain: he went off for a while about embracing Ironman pain, the dark moments we all go through – he said that MA helped him to embrace that. That you need to mentally embrace the pain and realize it will pass and then will probably come back but that is part of racing. Once again I wish I had more notes but I was paying attention and not writing…

Overall I was impressed again with the studious, humble, open, and transparent he was. I have interviewed a few pros now and they obviously all need some level of “I want to be 1st” to survive” – so before the Macca haters get on here and tear me apart I just want to say that yes he can be cocky and we all know that too (he admits to it) - but his passion for triathlon is very infectious (listen to the full ironmantalk podcast at Roth last year!) and he is quite the student of the sport.

He is a very good ambassador for our sport in the same vein as Greg Bennett and Michellie Jones.
from google
april 2008
Super Hot: Muxtape With Coverflow
MP3 "mix tape" site Muxtape has been my preferred source of new music for the last few weeks now, in large part because the simple interface is such a joy to use. Now, internet and organic root-beer lover Colin Sproule has come up with a great way for Mac users to get an iTunes-style Coverflow preview of playlists on the site.

The improvement in user experience for this already fantastic app is remarkable. Check out the how-to video embedded below. It's also a great example of several brand new apps all put to use together.

Sproule demonstrates how he used the deceptively "site specific browser" Fluid to make what's almost a Rich Internet App on the desktop, dedicated here to Muxtape, and then pull in the CSS of Muxtape previews and turn on Coverflow. The end result is super hot. Notice also the great screencast production technology, Sproule uses the popular new screencasting tool Screenflow. Here's a screenshot , below that is the video about how you can put this on your Mac in minutes.

You can also skip the Fluid part and just download the completed "app" from Tom Martin's blog. You'll still have to make the CSS edit yourself, though.

If you've wondered why you'd use Fluid to make a standalone browser for a single web site, this is a great example. Following Sproule's instructions was remarkably easy, it took me less than five minutes and added a wrinkle to my internet experience that I expect to use regularly.

I struggled for awhile until I realized that my Mac needed a software update and that solved the problem of previews not appearing right away. For some reason still, a couple of the pages aren't fully previewing - but this is a much better experience than the standard Muxtape black box.

This really inspires me to try some more things out with Fluid, including perhaps a standalone FriendFeed browser - since the newly released AlertThingy really aint doing it for me. Update: While walking my dog and listening to Newsgang talk about politics and Twitter, I realized that to be honest it was through AlertThingy that I saw a Growl popup about Engtech Digging Sproule's post about this. Sometimes I drown in a soup of input and forget exactly where I first find things. I apologize for that.

The Coverflow feature combined with Muxtape is really great though.
april 2008
MyOpenID for Your Domain - The Easiest Way to Use Your URL as an OpenID
OpenID, a technology that allows users to sign in to new supporting websites through a single trusted ID provider of their choice, is notoriously hard for non-developers to implement and in many cases use. One of the biggest challenges may have been eliminated, however, by the recent release of a new service called MyOpenID for Domains.

The service makes it remarkably easy for anyone to create OpenID accounts through their own domain, using the MyOpenID authentication service.

For example, my new OpenID is http://openid.marshallk.com/marshallk, based on my personal site marshallk.com. It was really easy to set up and now I can offer other users of my site their own marshallk.com OpenID as well. (Hi Mom!)

How It's Done

MyOpenID for Domains lets you set up OpenIDs in one of two formats: Wildcard subdomains like member.yourdomain.com or as a single subdomain + path like openid.yourdomain.com/member.

I chose the single subdomain plus member path because I want to be able to use other subdomains for other purposes.

It's really easy to set up either path. For my WordPress blog I just filled out the form below, then I had to call my webhost (Bluehost - great customer service, terrible uptime) and ask them to make a small edit to my DNS record. I gave them this information:

Name: openid.marshallk.com
Value: www.myopenid.com

They made the change needed, basically setting up a redirect, in less than 5 minutes. Other hosts will let you edit your own DNS info. I then posted a page on my blog with a particular URL and a short code for MyOpenID to detect. That's it - I was done. Now I can use my own domain name as an OpenID. The next step was to make sure that my user identity page was looking spiffy.

If MyOpenID ever closes its doors, it will be easy for me to edit my DNS record back and keep my OpenID URL from becoming a 404 out of my control. I'll also now be able to verify that I am in fact the owner of marshallk.com.

Limitations of the Service

This is the easiest way I've found to use my own domain name as an OpenID. There are other ways to do it but they've always given me far more trouble than they should. This service from MyOpenID is also an easy way to offer and administer OpenID accounts to other users of a particular website.

MyOpenID is a good OpenID provider. MyOpenID for Domains does require that you use their service in particular, however. There are many different OpenID providers offering many different advanced features. Check out SpreadOpenID.org for a comparison of many different providers.

As you can see below, my MyOpenID profile is now tied to my domain. All I need now is the ability to put HTML links in my summary info, display recent items in an RSS feed of my choice on this page and some other customization options. Then I'll be doing great.

Watch this space for more forthcoming news on big increases in OpenID usability.
april 2008
Dow Jones Acquires Business Networking Tool Generate
Dow Jones has started its acquisitions again, now as part of News Corp (NYSE: NWS). it has bought a much-talked about company in the business social networking space: the Boston-based Generate Inc. Financials of the deals were not disclosed. As part of the acquisition, DJ will form a new business unit called Business & Relationship Intelligence in its Enterprise Media Group (which is headed by Clare Hart) that will focus on bringing Generate-powered solutions to market in the enterprise sales and media segments. Generate co-founder Tom Aley will lead this new group as SVP and managing director, while co-founder Darr Aley will become VP, marketing and business development, of the new unit. All Generate employees will join Dow Jones.
april 2008
A peek at In/Out, an internal app at 37signals
For about the last year we’ve been using an internal app we developed called In/Out. This tool grew out of our need to keep track of what people are doing right now, plus the last few things people have completed.

We used to do this in Campfire. At the beginning of every day people would check [in] with a list of things they wanted to do. At the end of the day they’d check [out] with a list of things they actually did. It was a good way to see what people had planned for the day, and what actually happened that day.

Twice a day updates weren’t enough

But once in the morning and once at the end of the day wasn’t really enough information to know what people were working on right now. So we often asked “Matt, what are you working on?” or “Sam, what’s keeping you busy right now?” We knew there had to be a better way. Interrupting people just to find out what they were doing was counterproductive.

In/Out was born

So we built a little tool in a couple days called In/Out. In/Out let everyone set their current status (“Working on the Affiliate Program” or “Preparing for my presentation on Friday”), plus In/Out allowed you to make journal entries for the things you’ve finished (“Updated book proposal” or “Modernized list reordering” or “Deployed Backpack calendar reminders”). People were encouraged to be as specific as they wanted to be.

One screen, left and right

Your stuff was on the left and everyone else’s stuff was on the right. It was a one-screen app with everything right in front of you. It was killer. We quickly got a handle on who was busy on this and who finished that.

Here’s what it looks like:

Other people would find this useful, yeah?

We had been thinking of releasing In/Out as its own product, but it would require a fair bit of work which we knew we’d never get around to. We’d have to build a site, allow people to sign up, and deal with all the other stuff that comes with launching a brand new product. We knew In/Out had a lot of value, but we just had more valuable things to spend our time on right now.

Coming to a Backpack near you?

Over the past few days we’ve been working on adding the In/Out concept to Backpack. It seems like a good fit since relaunching Backpack as more of an intranet and workgroup tool.

So we’ve retired In/Out internally at 37signals and are now using the version we built into Backpack. It’s not public yet — we’re going to use it for the next few days and see how it feels. If we think it’s a good fit we’ll likely launch it publicly as part of Backpack sometime in the next few weeks.

Stay tuned.
from google
april 2008
This is why we love Microsoft
Because honestly, what other company in the world makes videos as cheesy and awful and outdated as this? I mean honestly. It's like they're trying to be awful. And it just keeps helping our business. Leopard anyone?
april 2008
Google Releasing Google Earth 4.3 Today
Today Google will be releasing a new version of Google Earth: Version 4.3.
april 2008
Apple TV 2.0.2 Update is here, no one knows why
Two weeks after Apple release the 2.0.1 update for the Apple TV, the company has released yet another update. And just like the 2.0.1 update, nobody knows exactly what this update is for.

Some members of the MacRumors forums have reported (http://www.macrumors.com/2008/04/14/apple-quietly-releases-apple-tv-2-02-update/) that the user interface is much smoother now. Other than that, there are no obvious changes.

If you think you know why Apple released this update, please shed some light.
from google
april 2008
Check Your WordPress Security
Matt Mullenweg from the WordPress team has posted a message about the security of WordPress, which MarsEdit users who run WordPress should take a look at. It’s particularly timely because there are a number of attacks going around that impact older WordPress blogs that haven’t been updated to to the most recent version.

In my customer support for MarsEdit, I have been seeing these security problems pop up quite a bit lately. The so-called “spam injection” attacks often inject spam links at the oblivious expense of how these links might mess up the XMLRPC interface which blog clients such as MarsEdit use to interact with your blog. It’s gotten to the point where error messages from the blog such as “Parse error. Not well formed.” are almost certain to be symptoms of such a spam injection attack. Updating to the latest WordPress almost always fixes the problem immediately.

Matt’s advice is pretty basic: update to the latest WordPress, and check your posts for signs of tampering. But it’s nice to have advice “from the top,” so to speak. I will be glad to see this wave of blog-attacks pass us by as more and more users get updated to the latest release of WordPress.

I commented on the post, suggesting that what WordPress would really benefit from is some kind of automated updater, so that users can easily update without having to worry about whether they’re doing it right or whether they’ll mess up their blog. The great news is Matt replied saying that they are in fact working on such a feature for 2.6.

Looking forward to a built-in automatic updater for WordPress! But in the mean time, be sure to stay current so you avoid the nasty attacks that are going around.
from google
april 2008
Robert Reich on Bitterness and the Press
In response to the fuss over whether it was elitist of Barack Obama to observe that some people are bitter that their jobs have been eliminated and replaced, former Clinton labor secretary Robert Reich writes:
I was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, 61 years ago. My father sold $1.98 cotton blouses to blue-collar women and women whose husbands worked in factories. Years later, I was secretary of labor of the United States, and I tried the best I could which wasnt nearly good enough to help reverse one of the most troublesome trends America has faced: The stagnation of middle-class wages and the expansion of povety. Male hourly wages began to drop in the early 1970s, adjusted for inflation. The average man in his 30s is earning less than his father did thirty years ago. Yet America is far richer. Where did the money go? To the top.
Are Americans who have been left behind frustrated? Of course. And their frustrations, their anger and, yes, sometimes their bitterness, have been used since then -- by demagogues, by nationalists and xenophobes, by radical conservatives, by political nuts and fanatical fruitcakes to blame immigrants and foreign traders, to blame blacks and the poor, to blame "liberal elites," to blame anyone and anything.
Rather than counter all this, the American media have wallowed in it. Some, like Fox News and talk radio, have given the haters and blamers their very own megaphones. The rest have merely "reported on" it. Instead of focusing on how to get Americans good jobs again; instead of admitting too many of our schools are failing and our kids are falling behind their contemporaries in Europe, Japan, and even China; instead of showing why we need a more progressive tax system to finance better schools and access to health care, and green technologies that might create new manufacturing jobs, our national discussion has been mired in the old politics.
Read the whole post -- it's a Jon-Stewart-on-Crossfire moment that should be on television, not just Reich's blog.
april 2008
Tips for getting the most out of Backpack on the iPhone
Just Another iPhone Blog recently posted "Tips and Tweaks Make 37signals Backpack A 'Must Have' iPhone Application." It discusses using iBackpack to make your Backpack pages look nice on your iPhone and also links to a Forum post that shows how to add a custom Backpack icon to your iPhone home screen.

I came to Backpack to solve a specific work issue/need but am finding it to be an incredibly powerful and useful web-based application. I now use it to communicate with my colleagues and reduce the amount of telephone we play when information is incorrectly transmitted. I use it to collect pictures, manage a to do list, store files and documents for easy access anywhere anytime. I used it to collect ideas, information, slides and random thoughts as I prepared a talk I gave at a conference last week. Best of all, it is not only powerful but it is easy to use. In fact, it is the first time I pushed my colleagues toward a new technology that they did not initially curse me about.

The problem is- while Backpacks pages are fully accessible from an iPhone or iPod Touch they are a bit too difficult to manipulate easily.

Fortunately, some incredibly smart folks have created some amazing add-ons that make Backpack one of the most iPhone-friendly and powerful applications around.

Justin Michael at violetpixel.com as created iBackpack. iBackpack is code that optimizes Backpack pages for viewing and use on an iPhone. He has posted screen caps on his site that show the difference...

Justins code make each page easily accessible, fully readable. It makes adding, editing and changing the information on a page a breeze. It makes Backpack one of, if not the, best iPhone organizational tools around.

But that left an additional issue. Once I optimized my pages using iBackpack I created direct links to some of my most-used Backpack pages on my home screen. They work great but look downright ugly.

Luckily Grettir Asmundarson at tinypineapple.com created a lovely little iPhone icon and has shared it with anyone who wants it.

Now Backpack works great AND looks great on my iPhone. It has become my most important organizational application in a short period of time and I have no doubt that will only increase as 37signals and other creative folks find new and powerful uses for it.

How do you add that custom Backpack icon to your iPhone home screen? Grettir offers step-by-step instructions at the Backpack Forum.
Its not the most elegant solution, but it will do for now

(Note: If your iPhone typing skills are anything like mine, steps 1 and 2 may be easier to do on your computer.)

1. Go to your Backpack Home Page.

2. Add a divider anywhere on the page. When youre prompted for a name for the divider, enter the following:

<link rel="apple-touch-icon" href="http://www.tinypineapple.com/backpack/images/apple-touch-icon.png" />

3. Go to your Backpack Home Page on your iPhone.

4. Tap the plus (+) button at the bottom of the iPhone screen and choose Add to Home Screen.

5. Name the new Web Clip Backpack. (The generic icon on the left will be replaced by the new icon after a few seconds delay.)

6. Tap Add in the upper right-hand corner and your new custom Backpack icon should appear on your Home Screen.

When youre done you can remove the divider you added in Step 1. The icon will stick around until you delete the Web Clip from the Home Screen.

Thanks Grettir!
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