Sunday, June 24, 2007

Foo sign-up frenzy

I took these pics on friday evening and saturday morning. The smaller one is the frenzy of people signing up to present. It' s completely free form so you can present on anything that strikes your fancy, and as you can see from the larger pic there were a lot of fancies...

While I attended some great presentations (and missed many more), the one where I had the most fun was "Improvisation with Ask A Ninja." We went through some improvisational comedy techniques such as storytelling as a group (each person can say one word) and watching/listening to what zany stories bubble to the surface. I think in one retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Goldy was being chased by a wolf while eating a house.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Werewolves, bloggers, and robots

Got up this morning, to a new day of foo. I'm currently watching a girl walk across campus in front of the mess tent, her torn orange shirt and purple ribbons fluttering in the wind against her long black dreadlocks. Avi Bryant was sleeping outside of my hovel along with about 6 other people scattered about. He must have gotten here early because he got the primo couch position. I sneak out for a run using my Garmin 305 to track my pace. It's great running near sea level. I'm pushing 8:00 miles and hardly feel tired.

Last night was insane. It's an idea camp for startups or people who want to change the world. There's a cross pollination of people of all tech ilk, from biotech to social web, from robots to green energy. Life slows for these brief intense conversations like it does in the moments before a car crash, with intense focus and then moves on to the next thing.

so far I'm planning to attend discussions on:
There are so many others, including: social robotics, how drupal wil save the world, myths & truths about oil & electric cars, hacking the english language, and werewolf game theory.

Can you see the smile on my face?

Thanks for the invite Tim.

Friday, June 22, 2007

setting up camp

I finally made it through the North 101 traffic to arrive at Foo Camp 2007 in Sebastapol, CA. I figured that foo came from fubar, but didn't realize that it was a play on the previously held "bar" camps. Sebastapol is a mid-size town and since I only brought a sleeping bag thought I'd look around for somewhere to buy an air mattress to make my sleeping environment a bit softer. In luck I found a Rite-Aid with a $2.00 bright green mattress. Sweet. Took a while to get checked in, get the swag and ran into Chad Fowler while looking a bit lost. He helped me out directionally, we chatted a bit and then off to find some camping space. The campus is spread out with many areas off limits to camping. Lot's of people are camping outside in tents, but I'm not sure I trust either the bugs or late night partiers not to bite, sting, attack, trip over or spill known or unknown liquids upon, so I opt for inside. Many places are already spoken for, but I find a room off a hallway, barely more than a closet and set up camp. Woo hoo. I'm in. Not the Westin St Francis where I stayed last night, but it is somewhere to crash.

Off to fight the foo.

appeal to innate laziness in human beings

Was listening to a panel on startups yesterday (I'll highlight these in another post) at Supernova2007. One of the panelists was Paul Kedrosky. When asked what he looked for in a company his answer was "companies with ideas that appeal to my innate laziness"

I think it's an excellent point and I would add to it. If there's a task that occurs everyday in your life, people will always seek ways to either shorten the task or make it more pleasurable. If you can provide a product that does either of these two things you have a shot at success. If you do both well (and have good marketing) you will have great success.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Dark Internet Economy - interesting acronym

Sitting in the SuperNova2007 conference listening to the Dark Economy panel talk about the underground economy that tries to take advantage of of the huge (and growing) revenue around search marketing economies to siphon that revenue in black hat sorts of ways (splogs, phishing and identity theft to name a few). About 2 of the 4 panelists are fairly good, but I see a whole lot of people cleaning out their email in-box. Seems like a lot of money to spend to clean out your email but maybe just a sign of our hectic work lives that we can only create free time to do these mundane tasks by attending conferences...

Anyway, here are some tidbits from that panel:

Amazing to witness the scope of economic activity that has grown up around search. Google has created a wonderful mechanism to bring buyers and sellers of content together in an affinity area. The reason why search works so well is that there is a high relevance of intent. Google has created a new economy around search. Marketplaces have developed that allow companies and marketers to bid on groups of words. Also entire affiliate economy who use tools and deliver users or buyers at certain price point. It works and is democratized. Has enabled an entire micro-economy around search itself. Mis-spelled URLs account to 10-12% of search engine revenue according to the CEO of Tucows. Yipes!

(Former exec at Paypal) Your personal information, cc number, driver license, ssn, usernames and passwords costs about $14 to access. There's a very vague sense of what's legal or illegal because it crosses international boundaries and subject to a variety of laws. Phishing scams alone acounted for $1B in losses last year. Most states have spam laws on the books but are not really enforceable, more of a public relations effort. One scary example in the spam world is that Six-Apart was using some software to retaliate against spammers and the spammers attacked back, effectively bringing down the Canadian Internet backbone. The service provider effectively gave up Six-Apart so that the other hundreds of thousands of Canadian sites would remain up. I'm assuming that is to say they shut down domain name resolution for Six-Apart and then the spammers stopped attacking the DNS provider.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

camping under the super nova

I'm heading to two conferences this weekend in the San Francisco area.  The first is @ Supernova2007.   SuperNova is advertised as:

Business, technology, and social interactions are decentralizing, tearing apart industries with the force of a supernova. Intelligence is moving to the edges, through networked computers, empowered users, fluid digital content, distributed work teams, and powerful communications devices. Business models are under pressure as end-users gain greater control, computing becomes a commodity, and companies collaborate across geographic boundaries. At the same time, new opportunities are emerging through social software, pervasive wireless networking, massively multi-player virtual worlds, and distributed e-commerce, among other trends.

Sounds like fairly heady stuff right? I certainly hope so and will be looking to connect with a few of the thought leaders out there including Paul Kedrosky, Lada Adamic (an advisor for CI), Julie Hanna Farris, Udi Manber, and others.

The second is Foo Camp 2007 sponsored by O'reilly. This is an invite only event sent out to thought leaders on the web. One of my heros, Paul Graham, who turned me on to Ruby in his book "hackers and painters" will be there and am greatly looking forward to the dialog. The agenda is worked out by the attendees on Friday evening and everyone literally camps out on the O'Reilly campus at night. Should be very interesting times.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Media Activity Monitoring

My last company was coined as Business Activity Monitoring or BAM by Gartner, the sages of Information Technology almost a year after we started. The current business that I founded in 2005 could use some naming standards as well. There are a lot of companies out there touching various aspects of this market that label themselves as Buzz Monitoring or WOM (word of mouth) monitoring or Vertical Search or Competitive Intelligence or Media Tracking or Brand Monitoring or Knowledge Management 2.0 or blah blah blah. Driving a standard naming convention removes the veil of market confusion driven by fragmented marketing messages. So, Gartner, Forrester, IDC and others if you are listening let's not wedge this area into one of the existing boxes. Also, this is much bigger than just calling it Buzz Monitoring. Instead, let's call it Media Activity Monitoring (tada, trumpets and such).

Media Activity Monitoring covers:

  • buzz monitoring - tracks the buzz about topics you care about
  • persistent search - finding new content on topics you care about when it happens
  • professional search - gives more weight to the rank of content your professional network cares about
  • personalized search - gives more weight to the rank of new content that you've cared about historically
  • meme identification - discovers concepts that are waxing and waning among conversations
  • maven monitoring - who are the key influencers (mavens) among the people talking about talking about topics you care about
  • pushes real time alerts to you when these things occur

Monday, June 18, 2007

How to be a failure

Was reading the Big Moo, edited by Seth Godin and came across this chapter. So good I decided to repost.

  1. Keep Secrets
  2. Be certain you're right and ignore those who disagree with you
  3. Set aggressive deadlines for others to get buy in - then change them when they aren't met
  4. Resist testing your theories
  5. Focus more on what other people think and less on whther your ideas is as good as it could be
  6. Assume that a critical mass must embrace your idea for it to work
  7. Choose an idea where number 6 is a requirement
  8. Realize that people who don't instantly get your idea are bullheaded, shortsighted, or even stupid
  9. Don't bother to dramatically increase the quality of your presentation style
  10. Insist that you've got to go straight to the president of the organization to get something done
  11. Always go for the big win
I think I've been guilty of almost everything on this list from time to time, and I can attest they most certainly resulted in failure to achieve my aim. So I suppose that part of this posting is somehow cathartic, reinforcing the behaviors to avoid.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Garmin 305

Just got the new Garmin 305 for Father's day (Thanks Kelly). This thing rocks! I've only scratched the surface of what it's capable of and need to get the bike cadence transmitter to get fully tricked out. It uses GPS to track your pace, distance, elevation gain, etc. You can download your workout to your computer. Very cool indeed!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

entrepreneurial start

I was introduced a few weeks back to a recent college grad by Ben Casnocha. I will almost always take a meeting with entrepreneurs seeking advice. This meeting came from a trusted source AND she was taking a job in a similar area to my company, Collective Intellect.

I think I get more out of these meetings than the upstarts seeking advice. It's great to get fresh perspective from people just starting out their careers. And perhaps even better, it forces me to examine my own beliefs and motivations about the startup world as I answer their questions.

She asked what motivated me the most to repeatedly start companies and, in a nut shell, this is what I told her:

  1. I crave the adventure of the startup. There is no greater thrill in life than starting off on a new adventure. Startups are chock full of the unexpected and your ability to think creatively and adapt are constantly challenged.
  2. People who say I can't. When someone tells me I can't do something it really fires up something inside of me that needs to prove them wrong. You can ask my parents to validate that one ;)
  3. I want to give my kids better opportunities out of the gate than I got. Now, I made most of my opportunities so this sometimes seems like it's a crutch to me. But I love them dearly and want to give them the tools through my experiences and available capital to fulfill their potential.
And, speaking of kids, I told Jing that starting up a company is a bit like having a child. If you researched all of the things that could go wrong when you have a child you would never have children, the same is true (at least for me) with startup companies. There are numerous decisions you will need to make each day that impact the well being of your business child and you need to learn and grow from the consequences of each of those decisions. But don't be daunted, this is what life is all about. Now go get your toddler away from that outlet!

Mini HaHa Triathlon

Just competed in Broomfield Colorado's Mini HaHa triathlon last weekend. For those in Colorado who are looking to get into Tri's this is a great starter event. It has a very manageable distance with 300M swim, 11 mile bike, and 2 mile run. And the race is very well organized.

I've been training up for a few months now just trying to get back in shape (literally) from my back injury a couple of years ago. I train in a morning tri group at Lakeshore Athletic Club with a handful of awesome moms and a dedicated coach (Jen Lesea) who also has a startup company in the fitness space called Fitwise Training.

The swim was in the Broomfield Rec pool. I followed Jen's advice and claimed a fast time to my lane mates so I could get that first position. They had about 5 people per lane with varying times, so if you weren't in front and were reasonably fast you would get slowed down by having to pass people at the wall. They let people go at 5 second intervals. I told them I could do the 300 in 5 minutes, thinking this was a good bet since I was in the 5-6 minute heat and it indeed won the pole position. I took a little water in the goggles during the first kick off the wall, so right off the bat I'm thinking oh great this isn't going to go well. I swam the first lap with chlorinated water sloshing in my eyes and when I reached the wall looked up and the next person was about 5 meters away, so I quickly emptied the goggles and kicked off with a bit less gusto this time. I exited the pool in about 5:10, always kept ahead and lapped a couple of people who had admitted b4 hand that they were probably 6-7 minute swimmers.

When I did the transition people were clapping and cheering. I was about the third person out of the pool and headed quickly out of the building jogging barefoot to the bikes. I had practiced the transition one time before and had my helmet and sunglasses ready, my shirt, and my number bib on a tri belt, and last socks and shoes, so I could put on the helmet, wipe my feet, and put on the socks and shoes. I goofed because I put my helmet on and then realized, I'm not going to get my shirt over it (doh!) and had to take the helmet back off. Result: my first transition ended up taking about 2.5 minutes. I pulled the bike off the rack, and jogged to the end of the transition area and mounted the bike. This is probably my strongest leg, so I cranked on the bike passing quite a few people, especially on the one hill in the ride. Admittedly a number of these were on Mountain Bikes but it still feels good to pass people :)

The next transition only went slightly better. I missed the spot on the bike rack where my stuff was and had to back track. I probably spent about 2 minutes on this transition. At this point I'm 44:20 in. My goal was to try and complete the race in under 1 hour. Now I've been doing some running but typically around 10:00 pace, so I thought oh well, I'll just go out at my normal training pace and see how I feel. There was a guy on the bike leg who I traded positions with a couple of times who got through the transition about 20 seconds ahead of me. He didn't look like he was going all that fast so I set out to keep up and see if I could overtake him on the run. I never did. It turns out he was running just under that 8:00 pace. I came in at 59:34 and was pretty spent. It was a great experience and I'm sure I'll be back. Hopefully next year I'll also take on the Boulder 5430 Sprint at the Res.

What I learned from the race:
  • I perform best when I'm chasing people
  • Everyone is extremely friendly at triathlons
  • My transitions suck
  • I need a new bike (I rented one for the race which was about 5 lbs lighter than my 15 year old steel frame wheeler, and I flew)
See you next year, Mini HaHa.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

The Drum Room

Had dinner last night in downtown Kansas City at the famous Drum Room in the President Hotel with good friends. This place was built in the 1920's and has been fully restored to it's glory years of the 40s and 50s when big bands played and cigars were smoked openly among men. The food was fairly good and a jazz band played while we ate. Pretty cool tribute to a bygone era.

One bizarre note: my friend had booked us reservations there the night b4 and on the day of I was at a local park playing tennis with my wife, daughter, and niece where I saw a taxi cab (rare enough to see in KC) with a "Drum Room" ad placement on the roof.

Cosmic Synergy.

Friday, June 01, 2007

24 - Act Three

There is an excellent review of season 6 and it's place in the 24 mythology on the Critical Myth website. It is well worth reading the review in its entirety but I've pulled a piece out that predicts what the tone may be for the remaining seasons.

"So just as the first three seasons ("The CTU/Kim Years") as an introductory trilogy, the next three seasons ("The Freelance/Audrey Years") could be considered the complication trilogy. In a classic three-act hero's journey, this makes perfect sense. The first act would have the hero struggling yet still largely triumphant, setting the seeds for the events that would bring him down, as seen in the second act. The end of the second act is usually the hero in his darkest hour. The third act is typically when the hero is restored.

24 has been renewed for at least two seasons, at which point the series would likely end with a major motion picture. That time span seems realistic for closing out the third act of the series. While it's unlikely that Jack will ever find the happiness and stability of his life before 24 began, it's quite possible that the producers' realization that things must change will lead to a restoration for the series as a whole."

I'm in. If they can get off the treadmill they've created, explore Jack's psyche with Jack coming to grips with his demons, perhaps in completely new (non-ctu) territory, then this ship can be brought around and deliver a powerful third act that leaves us cheering the hero with full appreciation of the hard journey that brought him here.

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