Friday, December 31, 2004

New Years Eve Podcast - The $250 Million Show #12

Recorded with a real mic and about 10 minutes longer than normal. Find it here.


3 Dates Later
Super Happy Fun American TV Family Death Challenge
Eight Page Pullout
Guys On Couch
Rocket Dial

One more thought

Mark Cuban drives me nuts, but this is brilliant.

Reflecting on 2004

With the exception of my wife's health problems AFTER the triplet pregnancy(which are much better), 2004 was a great year full of many personal, family and professional highlights including in no particular order:

1. 10th anniversary
2. Birth of the Triplets
3. Son's second Birthday
4. Fantastic Trip to Belize
5. Founded a new business
6. Started Blogging - and kept on going.
7. Started a Podcast

Lots of travel, lots of new friends, lots of re-connecting with old friends. All in all a banner year. As for next year I resolve the following:

1. Launch our first product very soon.
2. Keep family #1 on my priorities.
3. Keep on media networking (blogging and podcasting and whatever else, can you say Vlogging?)

Well I am sure there are other things like, coolest technology of the year (P910), favorite new website (Flickr) best new bands, best books etc. but I think that its time to wrap it up until next year.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Life, Death and Health

These last several weeks my blogging has taken on a more personal tone, which is to be expected with the birth of a child, or in my case a bunch of children. I had anticipated getting back to my usual fodder, but the last week has been a bit crazy. So much so that I haven't been really posting or doing anything other than trying to manage the chaos at home.

Following my wife's homecoming, she began experiencing strange cold spells that happened over several days. We weren't sure what the issue was, but the third episode last Wednesday was so intense and was accompanied with restricted breathing that resulted in a 911 call. She was evacuated to a nearby hospital and we spent the next 24 hours determining if it was HELP syndrome, pneumonia or kidney infection or a combination. She remained hospitalized until yesterday and is now doing better but has some lingering issues that don't seem that bad.

In the meantime our 2 1/2 yr old contracted Croup and Bronchitis, which is very dangerous around preemies. We had to scramble to isolate him and my wife from the triplets, and everything seems to have gotten on the right path.

It is at these times that the fragile nature of life, death, and our health comes into focus and you truly appreciate how amazing the human body and modern medicine have become. We keep crossing our fingers and hope that by this time next week everything will return to normal.

Tate with his "$600 Christmas Gift"

Between Xmas and New Year 009
Between Xmas and New Year 009,
originally uploaded by brikmaster.
My aunt Gladys sent Tate a card and $2 for Christmas. We asked Tate what this was and he said it was $600. We fell on the floor laughing and I had to snap this picture for her as a thank you. Captialism starts young.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

P910 Review Part 2 - The prototypical PMD

When I decided to buy the Sony Ericsson P910, I didn't just want another fancy phone. Shawn and I have spent countless hours talking about the evolution of what we refer to as the Personal Media Device. This "PMD" or whatever you want to call it, isn't just a cool phone that can take pictures and make phone calls. This is the device where we originate, consume, and experience content in an always connected and location aware setting.

We see devices become ever more complex and capable of doing amazing things. We see networks evolve into high speed data pipelines that don't really care about who/how/or what they are connected to. Traditional media is created at the center of the network with expensive production budgets. The future world of media, media created at the edge of the network is quickly sprouting up around us as evidenced by blogging, podcasting, self publication, social networking as construct for media dissemination, etc.

So my personal exploration was to find the device or devices that gave me the best glimpse into what that world will look like. I looked at a variety of devices and ultimately decided on the Sony Ericsson P910 for a variety of reasons including some personal bias given my history with Sony and my devotion to a lot of their products.

The device I wanted to use had to meet a number of criteria including:

1. The ability to access the Internet and actually recreate the web experience on the phone.
2. The ability to create media, whether that is pictures, video, or text.
3. The ability to consume media, again along a variety of media types.
4. Good form factors and usability.
5. The ability to eliminate my laptop on business trips.

My take on the P910 is as follows and not necessarily in the order above:

Size and form factor: The P910 is a bit bulky compared to all of my previous phones. Although it is large, it is fairly lightweight. Although I appreciate this as I usually carry a phone in my pocket, I am concerned about the ruggedness of the device once I experience the inevitable drop. The P910 is an interesting device from a form factor because of it's multiple modes on input including normal handset keypad, a thumbpad(a shrunken version of the Blackberry for my money) and a touch screen data entry facility. In addition to this I have augmented the data entry capability by purchasing a Bluetooth full size keyboard. This keyboard is a critical piece to addressing criteria number 5 in my personal checklist.

Overall I have found the size to be fine although not as sleek as the Audiovox that Scoble raves about. The thumbpad is not something that is really useful for a largish sort of man with big digits as I fear I am going to break it off. That said, I find myself varying the different input modes as the situation dictates and find that I like the flexibility and actually use the thumbpad at times. All in all I think that I rate this area as above average.

Software: I like the Symbian OS. It has some bugs that one can expect on any sort of device, but the P910 comes shipped with a variety of applications that allow me to live in the Microsoft required business world I live in, while giving me a lot of flexibility. Specifically the piece I am most happy about with respect to hardware is the presence of the Opera browser. I love how Opera works on this handset. Aside from some network configuration issues I experienced, it has been awesome. In addition to the shipped software, you can get a variety of Symbian UIQ software that has been successful on previous versions of this device (P800 and P900). The biggest disappointment on the hardware side was the limites support for PIM software other than Outlook and Lotus. I regrettably had to migrate from ACT to Outlook which has been disappointing as I think Outlook is a really buggy and disappointing PIM relative to packages like ACT and Goldmine.

In general all of the software I have used has been good and I have tried to really push the handset and have generally felt that is has responded well.

Bluetooth: I love Bluetooth, but the P910 has highlighted some of the bugs associated with Bluetooth which I think is a given when you start to push the limits of bluetooth functionality. I have a Jabra headset that I use with the phone, the laptop and for my podcasts. I have had intermittent problems with dropped connections with the headset and the handset and I have had one major pairing drop off that I found disappointing. In addition to this I have the Bluetooth keyboard that really highlights the bluetooth failings. If I am typing rapidly with the keyboard while connected, I get a serious lag and sometimes dropped pairing. Not good, but if I route around this issue, I can get by.

Internet Access: I have had great success with Internet connectivity. My Blackberry style email functionality is addictive and wrong. I need to stop checking email every ten minutes when I am offline. IM works great. Internet surfing works great. The biggest issue has been network related and I think that relatively speaking the handset and network have performed adequately given the state of this type of technology.

Media Creation: Love it. The camera is a bit light, I wish it were megapixel. That said, the pics are of decent quality and I used the phone to document realtime the birth of our triplets. I guess that might be kind of weird, but the family and friends watching thought it was cool. The video capture is nice too. I need to find a videoblogging hosting site to start posting. I used the sound recorder to record a portion of my podcast, the $250 Million Radio show. I have used the keyboard and blogger to write some of my recent posts including some of the posts right before my kids were born last week.

Media Consumption: Nice. I use Bloglines to keep up to date on my RSS feeds. I can check out any website I normally would surf on my computer, on my phone. I have downloaded both the Daily Source code and Morning Coffee Notes in the last several days. This is the one area that I am a bit disappointed in. The speaker kind of sucks. Adam sounded great. Dave was hard to hear. If I could have transferred the sound to my Bluetooth headset that would have fixed the problem but it isn't an option. Apart from this I can download and play MP3 files and stream video to the phone.

PC Replacement: This device is really close. I can do all my Internet related stuff, email, IM and website surfing. I can review and do minor edits of all Microsoft apps. I can view PDF files. I have a memory slot port that takes up to a GIG. I have a full sized keyboard that is a little buggy, but generally works. If I am traveling with prepared docs for meetings I am good to go. If I have to edit and change docs, I think this falls down.

Conclusion: This is the first PMD that I have owned and it really speaks to me about a world that is just around the corner. A world where you can document your life on the fly, while you run your business, stay in touch with family and friends, and where technology recedes into the background. There are probably cheaper alternatives, but if you want to see why the P900 is the best selling smartphone, and to get a glimpse of your future mobile connected world, I think that the investment is a worthwhile sip at how our world is going to change in the very near future.

Evolving Personalized Information Center

This is really cool. It is a long clip that a friend pointed me to from a recent Slashdot post. Although this is a dystopian version of what may happen, it encapsulates many of the trends that the people I speak with see emerging as the future of media distribution.

P910 Review Part 1 - TMobile

I don't think you can really do a review of a cell phone without some extensive commentary on the carrier you use. Before I go into a really deep review of the Sony Ericsson P910, I thought that some comments on my carrier, TMobile, made sense as a starting point. As some added context I should add that I have a Verizon account and phone, a LG VX6000 and my wife has a Sony Ericsson T637 that she uses with her Cingular account.

I originally set up my account with TMobile after I left Vivendi. I wanted to have a really flexible cellular plan and relatively consistent bills. Most plans in my opinion are predicated on getting you to go over plan and then pay some heinous fees. As I was usually talking on the phone between 1500-3000 minutes a month, I opted for a 5000 minute plan. I knew that it would be next to impossible to go over that amount of time. The base rate for this plan was $99 a month. I added several customizations to the account including:

TZones which gives me unlimited Text Messages
And Tmobile Internet Access (I used to have Tmobile WIFI)

All in I pay around $150 a month with taxes and 411 calls.

Over the last two years I have been generally happy with the service and have noticed a steady improvement over time, probably partially as a result of the acquisition of the Cingular cell towers after the ATT and Cingular Merger.

For the purposes of this review the following are the most relevant to my experience:

Tmobile Internet GPRS
Tmobile Tzones GPRS

When I originally purchased my P910, I simply inserted my SIM chip into the phone and away I went. Everything worked, Email, IM, and Opera. Over the next two weeks, I hit a really bad snag. I could get the default Sony Browser to work, but I couldn't get Opera to work. Opera is the only way to go from my experience, so I spent a lot of time, backing up, reinstalling software etc. Finally I called TMobile. I should have done this first.

I had to be handed to Level 2 and Level 3 support on the various calls I made over the several days I was trying to debug this, but they were always really helpful and knowledgeable about what I was trying to accomplish. I would recommend that anyone using Tmobile with this handset call immediately to get your configuration set.

From a performance standpoint I have been happy. I wish that the handset supported EDGE connectivity, and that TMobile offered it, but generally website load times and email transfer times have been really reasonable given my previous GPRS experiences on a less advanced handset.

In conclusion, I have been really happy with Tmobile in general, and with this handset in particular. I think Tmobile has done a really good job creating a price leading and feature rich network that should fit most people's needs.

So without further ado, the P910 Review in the next post.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Podcasting Chuckle

Wow do I have a backlog of RSS feeds, emails and podcasts. I can see that the next couple of days are going to be busy. In the meantime, check out this.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

The $250 Million Radio Show #11

Show #11 featuring:

Deron 5L
The Gospel of Gloom and Gladness
Justin and Tomek
3 Dates Later


Everyone came home

We all came home yesterday. The triplets never made a trip to the NICU, and now they are all home with us. Tomorrow, back to normal posts. I will continue to post some pics on Flickr for a while, but no more commentary, unless of course I can't help myself.

Thanks again.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

A New Normal

Well it's been two days and we are taking it a day at a time. Tate has met the new intruders and he seems to like them. Jessica is recovering well and we expect her to go home Saturday. We aren't sure yet when the babaies will get cleared, but we think it will be soon thereafter. Thanks for the emails and calls.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Long Day

Triplets 020
Triplets 020,
originally uploaded by brikmaster.
Ok, so far so good. The triplets managed to stay out of the NICU. We still have a ways to go, but mom and babies are doing great right now. More new non-cameraphone pics on Flickr.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

All is well

Mom is doing great.

Mallory 5lbs 9oz
Brit 5lbs 4oz
Tucker 5lbs 5oz

Minutes away

I am standing by. 1

Monday, December 13, 2004

Ok this time it's for real

We are doing the c-section tomorrow morning at 9AM. Guaranteed. Tomorrow I add to the worlds population problem. Oh well. Seriously though, I have to admit that I am struck by the idea that I am going to meet three new people tomorrow who are my children. I guess that isn't a common occurrence.

So as for that P910 review I am working on, and a miscellaneous post about user generated content, I guess they will have to wait. Pics can be found at my Flickr site. View it in semi real time.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Media I am Consuming Now

Books - Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media

TV - NFL, Anything HD like Discover, HDNet, etc. Wow HD is beautiful.

Games - Grand Theft Auto, San Andreas. After you get stuck on a mission, nothing satisfies like cruising around and beating people senseless. Or not.

Music - Pink Martini, Killers, Bright Eyes, My Chemical Romance, Fear Before the March of Flames, Johhny Cash, Cafe Tacuba.

Podcasts - Daily Source Code, Dawn and Drew, Evil Genius Chronicles.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Ringback Part Three

Tmobile launched Ringback yesterday under the name CallerTunes. Of course, I had to try it. Yeah sounds like a good idea, until you actually realize that everyone who calls your phone is going to hear a song. I could play some punk rock. Yeah, not good for business. I could play some classical. No, people might think they are in a telemarketing zone. I really don't know what to do. I ended up selecting Jingle Bells by Willie Nelson as it seemed like the least offensive alternative. The song plays for a really long time before going into voicemail. I think this is going to be a problem.

I have a really good idea though. If you had a personal message that was your ringback tone then that would be cool. "Hey I know you are calling me. If I am around I will answer your call. Unless I don't like you. Then you get voicemail. Then I won't call you back. So if you haven't gotten the hint...." Anyways you could see where that goes.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

I jumped the gun...

Its going to be next week. The little ones need to cook a bit longer. Sigh.


Wow. I can't believe it. We are awaiting the results from an amnio test to see if their lungs are ready. If this test is good, then they come out tomorrow at lunch time. I obviously won't be posting much for the next couple of days, but I will be sending a ton of pictures to Flickr. I did a ton today. So if you want to see what happens the URL and RSS feed are below:



Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Why Do I Blog - Media Networking

I saw the posts on this and thought I would add my thoughts about my without further ado, Why Do I blog?

1. Gene Hoffman. When I first met Gene, which I think was 3 years ago, I started checking out his blog that was published on something called Movable Type. I thought this was SOOOOOO Geeky, but his writing was, as Gene is, very interesting. That said, I think his wife Heather is an even better writer. I didn't get it at first, but I thought that this was a really cool way to do web diaries, if I could just figure out how to use that strangely named tool.

2. Education. When I started blogging last spring, it was to understand what the experience was like. I know that I have some serious ADD, and this had the promise of documenting for me, the various things I am interested in over time and it would be the only way to understand firsthand this thing called blogging. I wanted to understand what this medium does for users. Today, I still learn new things as I continue to indulge in my ongoing education and conversation with myself and others.

3. Media Networking - In a world of a million channels, a world where it is harder than ever to find what you are looking for, people will find you through the media you create. I have found that by documenting periodically the things I am doing, seeing, thinking about, I can keep in touch with the many people I have become fortunate enough to call friends. It is a way to keep people posted about what's going on with you, and for you to follow what others are doing. Even more interesting than the people you already know, are the people you find you meet when you put yourself out there.

In the last several months, I have been contacted by people I haven't spoken with in 10-20 years. I have also made the acquaintance of many really interesting people like JD Lassica and others who are fascinated with media in the same way I am. I have talked to people about TV sets. I have had people email me to find out the name of a band on my podcast.

We will distribute media through our network of friends. We will find our friends through the media they create. We will meet people who have common interests through the media that we each create. At a fundamental level, this is why I blog.

Monday, December 06, 2004

The $250 Million Radio Show #10 - The Triplet Special

Ok, so we have the triplet c section scheduled for Friday at noon, barring any sudden change. Here is a nice little pre-triplet podcast. Catch you on the other side.....



Microsoft Passport Insanity Part Two

David Weinberger has a similar issue, although I wasn't as troubled by the kissy face thing.

Sony Lawsuit against Blogger

I read about Kottke getting nasty legal threats from Sony and liked this post here. Having worked at a company that was sued, and PAID OUT over $250 Million dollars to content companies, I am painfully aware of the use of copyrighted material. It would behoove those of us who want to comment and hold stuff out there for others to get acquainted with the copyright laws. If we don't like the ways that the laws are being written, and enforced, we need to do something about it by calling our legislators and creating alternative models that don't step on the laws and invite trouble.

Aside from any issues of newsworthiness etc., the content companies are clearly within their rights to take the actions that they do, and it is a rational approach given existing law. I think the comments that Lawrence Lessig makes regarding the need to change these laws should become important reading material for people who don't like the state of the law.

Ringback Comments

I hadn't checked my RSS feeds this AM, but MocoNews links to this article that suggests that Ringbacks may be a passing phase like when you played that stupid song on your voicemail that you required your friends and family to listen to before they could leave a message.


This morning I had to call our development partner, eMbience, to discuss some product related items. I called Nimish on his cell phone as it was early and I wanted to make sure I spoke with him directly. When the call apparently connected to his cell phone to ring, I heard what I think was a waltz by Beethoven. I am not quite sure which piece, but it was obviously something classical. If I weren't a cell phone geek, I probably would have hung up the phone and tried calling back again. Because I am a cell phone geek, I listened to the phone for a while and then Nimish answered the phone.

As a fan of new cell services, this is really cool. As a general consumer, I am not quite sure I get it. Without some kind of education or information, it felt like I went into some kind of phone telemarketing hell, or my phone wasn't working right. I am sure as consumers figure it out it will be cool like ringtones, but I expect there is going to be a lot of head scratching for a bit.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Microsoft Insanity - MSN Spaces .Net Passport

Ok, so I am more than interested to see what Microsoft has come up with as it relates to blogging and I am very curious what Spaces has. Of course when I go to set up an account, Microsoft requires me to have a .Net passport account. End of demo. I refuse.

When every other blogging tool has a low barrier to entry, why would Microsoft require this? I know that if I blog at a MS site then they will have information about me and all that, but requiring .Net passport is just too much.

It is these types of actions that have me using Firefox and Eudora and Symbian OS on my phone. I just wish MS would learn to play nice.

MiniGPS - Update

Been playing around a bit with Mini GPS. I really think the alert function is cool, but it does have some strange behavior that I hadn't anticipated. You can assign an action to the logging in or logging out of a cell tower. I decided to put an alert that told me when I got to work and that sent an sms to Tom. So as I roll into the parking structure this morning, my phone goes crazy telling me I am at work. I of course know this, but it doesn't want to stop sending me an alarm. I finally get it to stop, and then shudder when I think about the 10 or so SMS messages I must have sent to Tom. He quickly sent me an SMS that said "WTF? 23 sms messages? I will be at work a little later"

Ok, so I have some more work to do with this.....

Bluetooth Update

Yesterdays 'travel without laptop' experiment went pretty well. The only major glitch I had was something associated with bluetooth. I was banging away on my little Stoway Blue Tooth Keyboard and started getting some weird behavior, like stuck keys and long delays displaying text. At one point it just stopped. I assumed the battery was dead. I put it away and started picking with the stylus. Later that day I noticed that my headset was no longer called a Jabra headset but instead had a weird serial number. All of a sudden the pairing with the headset barfed.

I was a bit freaked out and decided to reboot everything. I did this and after some rework pairing all the devices, things were good. I used the P910 and the keyboard all the way home reading websites and RSS feeds on bloglines and managing to get out some emails as well.

I did have a couple o panic moments when I wanted to find some information that was on the laptop, but all in all it was very cool. I think I am pretty close to writing up a big review on the P910.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Pacific Surfliner

Pacific Surfliner
Pacific Surfliner,
originally uploaded by brikmaster.
Heading Home.

The Metro Red Line

The Metro Red Line
The Metro Red Line,
originally uploaded by brikmaster.
Subway to Universal City...

Union Station

Union Station
Union Station,
originally uploaded by brikmaster.
Room where they filmed a scene from Blade Runner. Of course this afternoon they were filming a new sci fi film there as well....

Anaheim Stop

Anaheim Stop
Anaheim Stop,
originally uploaded by brikmaster.
Angel Stadium.

Solana Beach train station

Solana Beach train station
Solana Beach train station,
originally uploaded by brikmaster.
Off early this morning to Los Angeles.

What is Moblogging? Postscript

Ok, I expect that this will be a typo filled post as I don't think the spellchecker will work on the handset but maybe.

So my contention has been that mobile blogging will be a different experience than normal blogging. I still think that this is what will occur, but I write this post using my Sony Ericsson P910 and my Stowaway keyboard. With this configuration, I have a replacement for my laptop. I am using Opera to look at websites, and my email client works like a Blackberry. All this while riding the train.

In addition to this I am posting occasional pictures and comments to flickr for cross posting later today.

I don't think there is much of a near term likelihood of normal people using this kind of configuration anytime soon. To me, the short text or picture type messages are more in line with 'mobile blogging' than using this kind of configuration to do my 'normal blogging. Anyway, that's my opinion.

Triplet Update - They are coming soon

We had the last ultrasound yesterday. Jessica is around 32 1/2 weeks and the kids measured, Mallory 4.7lbs, Brit 4.3 lbs, and Tucker 4.7lbs. Based on this the doctor wants to schedule the C section for next Friday. Wow, now this is getting real, they are almost here...

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

MiniGPS - Hints of the LBS future

Several months ago when I was doing a survey of J2ME and other handset apps, one of the applications that caught my eye was from a company called Psiloc that makes a product called MiniGPS. I have continued with getting familiar with the Sony Ericsson P910 that I am just crazy about, and last night decided to get a copy of MiniGPS.

It is a really cool application. While most of us in the United States are in the nether region between LBS and non-location aware handsets, this application identifies the cell tower that you are attached to. You can go around and check the cell tower where you are located at during your travels and assign an ID to the tower. For example my home, the Intercasting office, and the Starbucks by my house. Once you have identified these locations, you can actually program events to correspond with your connection to that cell tower. For example, I could send an SMS to my wife when I hit the cell tower past the merge of Interstate 5 and 805 indicating that I am getting close to home. If I took the coastal route I could send her a different SMS telling her I took the Del Mar route.

Of course most of this is novelty today, but it speaks to the power of what LBS will be able to do and also the importance of location as a new metatag for a variety actions that we take as we move around in our increasingly connected world.