Monday, December 31, 2007

Not the Best Headline

Disclaimer: I am not the most environment concious individual and should definitely do a better job to minimize my impact on the environment.

However, the Business Week article titled "How to Cash in on a Warming Planet" is a bit disturbing. The content is fine since it looks at just another variable that could influence your purchasing decision. However, the title is just a bit of a turn off. If you read the comments you can see there is a good mix of extremely negative and positive commentary.

It may be the strategy of online magazines or newspapers to use controversial titles nowadays to attrack eyeballs. However, at a certain point you risk offending your user base and with your competitors now just a click away a lot of risk versus reward analysis needs to be done.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Preview of Upcoming iPhone Update

The folks at gearlive posted a preview of the upcoming software update. It looks fricken' awesome. Things just keep getting better and better.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Best Graphic RE: Twitter Downtime

It is amazing how many people have posted about Twitter being down for an equivalent of 6 days since February. I have seen comments about people recommending a change in infrastructure, or moving to another service. Pretty high maintenance end users. I think 98% downtime is pretty commendable for an up and coming company. I have talked to folks whose Corporate email systems are down on average a couple of hours a week or key internal tools go down for days at a time. That is a serious issue where 99.999% uptime is a must.

I just hope the people complaining about the downtime are the individual's actually using twitter. It seems like more and more people like to jump on the bandwagon of broadcasting bad news. The geekandpoke blog illustrates the side effects of the "catastrophic" downtime best.

Social Network Contacts = New Currency

I was going through my FB feed today and noticed one of my buddies had installed the "My Files" application from Box.net. I thought it looked interesting so I installed it as well. Then I got the following image:
I got 60 MB in additional storage since 3 of my buddies had installed the app. I could "spam" my buddies and hopefully get them to install the app so I could get more storage, but I was pretty sure that would piss some of them off.

Is this the future of software? The more # of users you have = the more eyeballs = the more potential to make money off of advertising.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Best Management Practice

I just started subscribing to the WSJ recently in order to get information from "official journalists". I noticed two interesting articles on the WSJ regarding how to manage your employees and how to recruit executive talent.

The first article is great since it acknowledges you need to focus on the individuals that do all the work. However, I think it does not emphasize how you motivate people. Some people say you can motivate people by paying them a great deal of money or showing them a promising career path, but I think that is just wrong. If you have employees that are worried only about compensation or career growth, you have a fundamental issue in your organization. You need to make sure people are passionate about what they are working on, or understand how big an impact they are making on your organization. All individuals regardless of rank should always feel they are making an impact. People say you can only make a significant impact in small companies, but I think that is just an excuse. You can make a big impact in a larger company it just takes a bit more effort to make it happen. More importantly, if an individual is making an impact in your organization they are obviously going to get compensated appropriately so their concerns around monetary compensation or career growth opportunities become less of an issue.

I think the article about inflating titles with "Chief" is just demoralizing to employees that do all the work. There are obviously some game changing individuals in each industry for whom no title can do them justice. For the individuals that are not game changers, if they are not passionate about your organization why try to recruit them by inflating their title. Regardless of their rank, they need to feel passionate about the cause and want to join your corporation. More importantly, title inflation demoralizes individuals lower on the totem pole and complicates matters years down the road as organizations mature.

I may have said you need to be "passionate about your job" one too many times, but I think that is truly the key to motivation. If you are a manager and you are passionate, your enthusiasm is going to rub off on folks. If you are an individual contributor and you love what you do, you are going to do a kick ass job. If you have an enthusiastic workplace, everything will fall into place nicely and you can through the "how to manage" books out the door.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Amazing Use of the Wiimote

My bro introduced me to Johnny Lee's website over the Christmas Break. Some of the the things Johnny has built with the Wiimote and some infrared equipment is just awesome.



Ads on Good Ol' TVs versus Online TVs

I noticed an article on techcrunch talking about the effectiveness of ads on standard TV shows versus online version of TV shows. Anyone that reads this would think great you should move your advertising online, but then I noticed this article on RWW mentioning how hard it is to get a broad reach of users with scripted content online.

I think the next couple of years are going to be very interesting for the world of proprietary video. I hope there no longer is a demarcation of content from your set-top box verus what you get on your computer. Provided there is enough bandwidth all content should be available from any device at any time. That is the ultimate utopia. If advertisers and the distribution companies figure out how to build compelling and context sensitive ads that is icing on the cake for both the end user and the advertisers.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Nice Preview Tool for Firefox

A while ago I posted about "Read It Later" which is a great add on for firefox. I now found another tool "Coliris" via mixx that makes the browsing experience even better. Rather than opening each link in new tab to preserve my original page, I just preview the content quickly in a coliris pop-up and then determine whether I shoud push it to a tab or not. I just started using it this morning and it looks pretty cool.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Check out ElfYourself

The Office Max folks are putting the cool back into Brick 'n Mortar shops. The Elf Yourself tool is generating a lot of great comedic relief.

I played with it for a few minutes, and got my bro and his former colleague in a quick video. Play with it before it expires.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Day of Surprises

With Christmas nearing it seems appropriate to see some very surprising bits of news. The first article that caught my attention was about people using DVRs but not fast forward through commercials. Are you kidding me? Watching a sitcom with only 18 minutes of content for 30 is a waste of time. Except of course if Apple releases a new Mac vs PC add. Extrapolate it even further and imagine people watching a football game for 3+ hours instead of a little over an hour. So on average 30 - 40% of content on TV is just extraneous and people are willing to watch it. Pretty scary stuff. I read that in the US people spend an average of 4 hours per day on TV so that means they are wasting more than an hour a day even if they have a DVR.

Another bit of news that really surprised me was about the awareness of Google Apps. I was astonished when the article said over 90% of people questioned had never heard of Google's Application Suite. The article reinforces the fact that we are living in a very unique part of the world which revolves around all things technology. I am happy to be living here and be the certain of such great innovation, but the challenge is now to take all the great things we have picked up this area of the world and pass it to the "Long Tail".

Monday, December 17, 2007

Comcast Pricing Model

I recently moved into a new place and requested Comcast to transfer my service from one home to another. Everything went smooth, however, a week after I moved in I received a couple of ads from Direct TV, Dish, and AT&T with very cheap options to get DSL, Satellite TV, and a VOIP Phone. The satellite options were finally viable since I can face the Southern Sky from my new residence.

I did some research and I noticed I could save 50 - 70 dollars as long as I was willing to put up with the supposedly poor DSL download speeds. I decided to call Comcast and let them know I am going to cancel my service two weeks from now. The agent asked why and I said they are too expensive relative to other vendors, and within a couple of minutes she slashed my total bill by 50 bucks. I was fricken' stunned. She must have a playbook available or rather memorized when people request cancelling their coverage.

It is really disappointing that Comcast only offers a lower price when you threaten to move on. In the consumer space, transparency into pricing models is an absolute most to stay competitive and Comcast is not doing that since they pretty much monopolize the market especially in the bay area. I did a couple of searches on Google and it looks like I am not the only guy to run into this issue. Anyways, I am happy I saved 50 bucks but disappointed the way it happened.

Open Hulu

I got my Hulu invite a few weeks ago, and I heard people are getting invites within a day or two of requests nowadays. If you are still waiting for an invite you can check out openhulu.com

It looks like they have kept the same level of quality for all the video, but too bad the Writer's Strike is still on coz the content is a bit old. The quality of the video real kicks ass and gives you a glimpse of what H.264 has to offer. There is some HD content on hulu which is not available on openhulu which looks great even though it is 720i.

Nice Relevancy with Linked In News Feeds

It seems like everyone is making a platform on their social networks to attrack eye balls. LinkedIn made headlines a few weeks ago with their news feed. I went to LinkedIn to approve some connection requests and noticed the feed below. I recently joined Google, and I am sure I would love to read about other search engine companies but not really interested in movie reviews just because they are from movies.yahoo.com. The recommendation engine needs a bit of tweaking :)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Interesting Tools from Mozilla

I don't think any of the Mozilla projects except Firefox get enough press. I was browsing through their Wiki and noticed a couple of interesting projects:

a) Prism: pretty much does what gOS does for the Walmart computers and is used as the foundation for Fluid that is used on Mac OS X. I think it is becoming more and more interesting on how people are trying to make web apps seem like desktop apps from just the perspective of launching them. I think that really proves the gap between desktop and web apps is narrowing, and we are nearing the final frontier of emulating the desktop user experience (i.e. offline apps)

b) Joey: is a cool project to save people from sending text messages to themselves. You can keep snippets of web pages on another site, and access them from your mobile fun. It is pretty useful for capturing information before you go on a trip and then downloading it on your iphone. It would be great if Joey converted youtube videos to H.264 format so you can watch any interesting youtube video on your iphone.

Blog: Bubble 2.0: The Video

Source: TechCrunch

blog, blog, blog it all blog it if it’s big or small …blog even if you’re wrong won’t you blog about this song? How could we not? A perfect link-bait … more

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Monday, December 10, 2007

Social Networking Overload

Over the last six months, I made it a point to try out every social networking app to understand what is going on in the marketplace. I wanted to understand what makes this space so interesting for people, and if it really could make my life better.

I have to admit some of the apps are just fantastic, but after six months I am burnt out. I made it a point to add people I met to facebook to keep in touch with them, and if they were professional contacts add them on linked in. Then if I would look them on twitter or friendfeed. I could have gone even further by checking jaiku, orkut, bideo, etc. Man, that is way too many URLs and there is not much "ROI". I hope there is some simplification and consolidation in the social networking space to make my life easier (ah maybe the consumer world will copy the enterprise world for once).

I have discussed this issue with several other folks and they too are feeling socially burnt.
The comics are having fun with the myriad of choices as well. I think just like everything else in life you need to do everything in moderation. Check out the strip below:

Enterprise Software Does Not Need to be Cool

I was going through my standard blogroll today and I have to admit I was kinduva disappointed. I think the number of thought provoking tech announcements is going to be limited the next couple of weeks as we head into 2008.

However, I noticed this one post on zdnet from Krigsman saying Scoble does not understand enterprise software. It may well be the case Scoble does not understand enterprise software, but I think Krigsman is wrong. People do want their enterprise solutions to be sexy.

If you look at enterprise software solutions today the features and functions among the big vendors is nearly identical. Sure there may be some minor differences here and there, but the main differentiator in the past has been user interface. It is amazing how much excitement an interface that looks like Pageflakes, GMail, or Yahoo Mail generates in the enterprise space. Enterprise end users want their apps to look like the consumer apps they use everyday.

More importantly, if people did not want sexy/cool there would not be a relatively steady flow of new enterprise software vendors: a) salesforce, b) workday, c) netsuite, d) enkata, etc. New companies differentiate themselves from the old guard by build "cooler and better" product that solves traditional business problems.

So I definitely think enterprises want sexy and cool software. As long as software providers build high quality sexy software they will always have a leg up on vendors that ignore the "coolness" factor and focus on the status quo. It is a very slow revolution, but it is happening.

Macworld Bloopers

I never watched Steve Jobs present until very recently. His presentation style kicks ass and I thought it was just inborn talent he was lucky to have. Well, I guess I was wrong yet again.

Check out this blog post featuring a youtube video of interesting bloopers from the old days.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

A good problem for companies to have

I always hear executives say if you build great products you do not need brand advertising, sales, marketing, etc. I was a strong believer of that early in my career, but as I got to understand the sales process in the enterprise space especially I thought you needed to spend a good amount of money on brand management/evangelism. However, I think I may be wrong. Check out this article about the kick ass Nintendo Wii system.

If someone does not have the Wii and is looking for one this holiday season, check out itrackr.com. You pay a couple of bucks for the service, but it will make your Wii shopping experience a lot easier.

What's the Blog Council About?

There have been a lot of posts in the blogging world about this new "Blog Council." I did a cursory review of some of the posts and find a few things quite funny. I do not quite understand the charter of the council; is it supposed to educate people how to blog (i.e. control the voice of the people) or make blogging a chore that should be on a project plan. Again, I only did a cursory review of their website so if I am completely offbase my apologies.

A couple of things just give this organization make it seem like great material for Dilbert:
a) The name "Blog Council": the name council makes it sound like this is going to be an over-reaching governing body. The beauty of blogging is it frees everyone within a corporation from any type of controls. Is ths group trying to reign that back in?
b) The mission of the council sounds way too corporate. One of the goals is "ROI". This is really concerning. It seems like the council is going to determine how to use blogs as an advertising platform. The beauty about blogging is the passion and honesty. People do not blog about things they do not feel passionate about, and once you make it an advertising platform all of that changes. "Community" will be fostered by this council. Is this yet another social network for executives. I think people are feeling social network overload.
c) One concern I think most companies have about blogging is how do I protect my internal secrets, and prevent the release of stories about employees being unhappy. For (a), I think most employees should understand what stuff they are working on which is extremely important to the organization and not shared. If not, it seems like a simple education process. For (b), I think this is a valid fear but the best fix is to make sure employees are happy. Do what you can to make sure your employees are satisfied with the workplace. If you have done all you can as an executive to ensure satisfaction, and your employees are still unhappy maybe they should look elsewhere.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Google Data Ideathon

I am pretty sure the few people that read this blog probably read some of the other major blogs which already have this announcement, but I wanted to share this just in case:

http://code.google.com/events/ideathon/

Let me know if you are coming and we can meet up on campus.

Wireless Carriers Opening their Networks

I think it is great when wireless carriers are opening up their networks. Verizon kicked things off a couple of weeks ago, and AT&T followed suit yesterday.

However, what does it really mean to the consumer. For Verizon, they use a CDMA network and it is hard for anyone to find phones in other parts of the world that are sexy enough to bring back to the US. For AT&T, anyone that purchased a GSM phone that was unlocked and operated on the right frequencies could use their phone on the AT&T network (just change the SIM cards). So I am a bit confused on what AT&T's openness policy really means. I then saw this paragraph in the
USA Today:
AT&T for years kept quiet the fact that wireless customers had the option of using devices and applications other than those offered by AT&T. But now salespeople in AT&T phone stores will make sure that consumers "know all their options" before making a final purchase.

So customers were kept in the dark, which is pretty uncool. However, even if customers were shown the light would it have changed their purchasing decision. An unlocked non-contractual phone costs 300 - 500 dollars and you could get the same phone with a 1 or 2 year contract possibly for free. Which one are people going to choose?

I think openness is great, but I'd be really surprised if it changes the immediate purchasing decisions made by consumers. It may in the future when the cost of unlocked and non-contractual devices comes down, but probably not now. I'll just be tied to the network that supports the iPhone from now on.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Apple Finally Building a Portable Laptop

First off, sorry for not being regular on the postings. Some people e-mailed me over the past week asking what is going on, and things just got a bit hectic. In my prior life, I had to blog since the people I worked with depended on the information to a certain extent. In my new life, not many people really read my blog.

Anyhow, I found this post on digg about Apple releasing a portable laptop. All I have to say is finally. I have been waiting for a portable laptop from them for a while. I wonder what else it is going to have. There have been rumors about Apple pushing out an iTablet as well. Let the anticipation begin, and maybe I will attend Macworld for once.

One other bit of news regarding the iPhone although Apple did not build it. Someone built an app that uses Google's APIs to provide a My Location App on their iphone. It is a great alternative to Navizon. It is only a matter of time before someone builds a social network of iPhone owners which tells you when you are within a couple of hundred feet of a buddy free of charge. With that type of capability all the Helio owners would jump to the iPhone.