Tuesday, August 29, 2006


One of our board members, Steve Tomlin, recently unveiled his new contraption, The Chumby. He has been talking about it for a while and put it together with a merry band of part timers and geeks. They had their debut this last weekend at Foo Camp.

I ran by his office today and grabbed one to play with. Here it is on my desk displaying the latest headlines from Make Magazine (One of my new favorite sites/magazine)

I can't wait to dig in a little and see what we can do with it. Can you say Rabble widget?

It's great to see all the buzz they have gotten since giving out prototypes at Foo camp. It will be fun to say what kind of hacks and other neat things that come from the Chumby. When I walked into the Chumbalow to get one, I immediately saw a plush Tinky Winkie doll with a Chumby screen embedded in his chest. Nice.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Fantasy Football

And so last night another season began. I think I have been playing fantasy football pretty consistently since 1998. Each year it has ramped up a bit more in terms of my engagement. Two years ago I went beyond the normal fantasy league and joined a keeper league. This has been by far the best experience so far as it requires me to always have some kind of background thoughts that are engaged with football all year round.

Last night was a draft for a Dynasty league, which is a league where you keep almost all of the players for good. It will be interesting to see how this pans out. I was dicey on keeper and have really enjoyed it. Dynasty will place a big premium on focusing on new incoming players out of college.

The tools that are used for fantasy football have continued to improve as well. The news services, the draft tools and the various communication tools are just amazing. I believe that our choice to use AIM for our draft was directly responsible for 6 new people in their 30s to start using instant messenger. Last year I believe that there were 3 of us using IM. Now it is 12. I wrote back in April of this year, this post, that talks about how the NFL drives technology adoption. I think Sprint is doing some smart things with their various NFL Tie ins.

I frequently cite fantasy football as an example of user created content that is a big driver of consumer entertainment. Although the primary content is the actual sport/game itself, we fantasy football nuts spend a massive chunk of time looking at stats, arguing over rules, making trades with other players, paying for services, and buying every channel that Directv will offer us for pro, college and any other kind of football. As more of us non Gen Y folks take control of our entertainment experience, whether it is through things like fantasy sports or other things, we will continue to see and understand that media is undergoing an unparalleled paradigm shift where the users are in charge.

My.MP3 launch video

Sander sent me this link to a page where the video of the My.MP3 launch is memorialized. Shawn has a couple of appearances in the video.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Anti-Telemarketing Script

Lifehacker linked to this script to use when telemarketers call you. This is one of the funniest things I have seen in a while.

Regarding Operating Systems

I spend some percentage of my time trying new things in technology. For example right now I am spending some time with the Cingular 8125 Windows Mobile Device. It is always hard to overcome the bias you get from being wedded to a way of doing things. I really like how Symbian works and have to figure out how to not let that bias color my impression of Windows mobile.

Although most of my experimentation has been around mobile devices and related web based technologies, my recent purchase of a Mac Mini for home has given me a recent renewed interest in operating systems. As a bought in Windows user for the last 10+ years, it never occurred to me to spend any time looking at operating systems as new versions rolled out.

My previous experiment with operating systems goes back to around 1994. I had an earlier computer phase back in high school and early college and then took a long break from computers until around 94. In 1994 I decided that I was going to build a computer and try out some different operating systems such as Slackware. My initial impression of Slackware was that it was interesting but I hit some pretty nasty problems trying to configure PPP so I ultimately punted on the experiment.

This time around, the breathtaking look and usability of OS X piqued my interest to see what else is out there. I had installed Windows Vista on my old broken down laptop and it has performed well. It really is a nice improvement from XP but it feels more incremental than an overhaul. I am guessing that when you use it day to day that it might feel a little different but right now it is hard to say.

On my Mac Mini I installed Parallels to run Windows XP in a virtual machine and I have to say that I have only fired it up a couple of times. I have found that most of the things that I do are net related and haven't required invoking my windowness to get things done.

With all the niceness and coolness coming from my Mac, I asked around the office about how far Linux has come. Ben showed me the Linux GUI XGL which, simply put, is insane. Seriously insane. I tried to make a run at using it on my old home computer (1999 Gateway Pentium 3) to no avail. I then tried a plain vanilla install of Ubuntu and also Open SUSE using a wireless network card. Wireless isn't all it's cracked up to be on Linux.

Today I finally gave up and dragged the old beast over to an Ethernet connection. Once there I got Ubuntu up and running and plan on giving it the rounds here and there in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for more.

Monday, August 21, 2006


Two weeks ago I read a newspaper article about people using the Internet to search for their family tree. In the article they gave much praise to Ancestry.com. I hadn't spent much time looking at my family tree in the past as there were a number of gaps that I hadn't desired or been able to walk through.

My father and my mother divorced when I was two years old. Although they were divorced he was stationed almost always on the west coast which meant he was around a lot. My father's sister had tracked back the Oien family to Norway back to the early 1700s which I thought was really impressive. As of the last time I checked they hadn't done that on his mother's side. Their family name was Venn. I need to give her a call and get some details.

On my mother's side there were two branches, one of which I knew and one which I didn't. The one I knew went back to Mexico fairly quickly and then presumably went to Spain. My great grandmother, who I spent a large amount of time with growing up had the maiden name of Castillo. Other family names were Figueroa and Valdespino. My mother's father was estranged from our side of the family by my mother's choice if I recall.

So I sat down with a trial account of Ancestry and a couple of family names going back. I won't bore you with any more details about my family but I will say that the tools that are available are amazing. ESPECIALLY the census data. I was checking census records back to the 1860s which blew me away.

When I sat down I thought that my family was all Norwegian on one side, and then a mix of Spanish, German, Irish and English on the others. In reality I ended up realizing that I am 1/2 Norwegian, 1/4 Irish, and 1/8th Spanish and 1/8 Swedish. Not what I expected. I managed to track back every side out of the country, with most branches going in the 1880s and one branch going back to the 1850s (Irish potato famine refugee I assume). I did this in 2 hours. I don't plan on going beyond that our getting all the details together but when I do decide to do that I know that there are some amazing tools online today.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Facebook APIs

Marc Canter reports that Facebook has opened up APIs for developers. Woot! You can find the developer information here. Looks like there is some work to be done. As Marc says, expect others like Myspace to open up as well. I am not sure that this will happen quickly given their market position but it will certainly act as a point of differentiation if they don't.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Rabble Integration Manager Revamp - Flickr and Spaces

Last weekend we pushed out significant changes to our integration manager on Rabble. What is the integration manager? Our not so well named integration manager allows Rabble users to publish content between the mobile and web environment in either or both directions. Our first cut, while functional was a bit clunky. The new changes make the process of setting up your accounts a lot more easy than it used to be and it also sets us up for the changes we will be making when we roll out version 2.0 of Rabble mobile and web in the near future.

A really cool part of this rollout for me was the addition of Flickr and MSN/Live Spaces. Flickr had taken us a long time to get permission and now that we have it I can use the 1400+ photos I have on Flickr with Rabble. Here is a screenshot of setup screens.

With these rollouts we currently support - Blogger, Live Journal, Movable Type, Typepad, Webshots, Flickr, Zoto, Eventful, Upcoming.org, Travelpod and MSN/Live Spaces. More to come soon.


I have robots on the brain right now. I blame Tate. This weekend we were at Circuit City and I glanced over that the robot section with Tate. Right next to the Robosapien were two different models of the Roomba.

I had heard people talk about the Roomba but had never seen one in person until I was at SXSW at the Lifehacker party. When we walked into the bar where they were having the party I glanced over at the pool table and on top of it were two modified Roombas dueling. It was quite a strange sight, not unlike two giant roaches in a courtship dance. It smacked just a bit of Survival Research Labs.

At any rate I bought the Red Roomba to see how it worked. So far so good.

Friday, August 11, 2006


I am working on another post about my current fascination with operating systems and old computers that is borne out of my switch to the Mac and my re-provisioning two old computers to run Windows Vista and Ubuntu.

In the process of spending a little time at night tinkering with these things I was inspired to dig out the copy of Make magazine that I received at Gnomedex. What a great magazine! I subscribed.

In the issue I have (#6) there is a good section on robots. I think that the BEAM robot materials are just fascinating and if I can learn to use a soldering iron I may build some to play with my son. While looking around briefly and trying to understand the lay of the land I came across the new Lego Mindstorms NXT system of robotics. Wow. Super cool. I want one of these. I think I need to go get one...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Zamboni Machine Driver

This morning when I was driving me son Tate to pre-school he called out to me in the front seat.


"Yeah" I said.

"When I grow up, I want to go to an ice skating rink and I want to drive a Zamboni."

"Yeah? That's pretty cool."

"Yeah, when I grow up I want to be a Power Ranger and I want to drive a Zamboni machine"

"Well Tate when you grow up, you can be whatever you want. If you want to drive a Zamboni, I think that's cool."

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

San Diego MoMeMo

I spaced out the inaugural MoMeMo event in San Diego last month but plan on being at the next one which is on August 21 at 6:30 PM at Estancia. If you are in San Diego and are into mobile come and check it out.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Geekd in our office sent an email out about the site TurnHere that has short films about various neighborhoods and communities for people to watch. I love this idea and it reminds me a bit of what the guys at Videonary are doing. My community of Cardiff is featured here.

The AOL Data Leak and Attention

The Attention Trust Blog reports some of the details of the AOL user data leak in this post here. Imagine if everything you ever searched for on Google, Yahoo, MSN or AOL became available to people. Looking up old friends? Searching for some ahem something you shouldn't be? Are you trying to lose weight? (I am). Etc. etc.

What I have discovered since installing the Attention Recorder on my browser is that there are times when I stop myself and hit the pause button before I continue on to the next site. This awareness becomes even more important when you think not only of the personal things you do but also the competitive or business related things you do. I have a badge on the right hand side of this blog that shows a list of the top sites I clicked on and the gainers and losers. VCs? Competitors? Business Partners? It's easy to get a sense of what one is doing with click data. Installing the recorder has allowed me to become more cognizant of the power of that information. It has also made me even more cognizant of all the data the various portals have on my combined surfing history going back a long time. I think at some point a lot of people are going to wake up to this and start becoming more vocal in word and deed about how information about them is collected and how they can take control of that information.

Monday, August 07, 2006

I Went Apple / Mac

I can't believe that I am writing this. If you had told me a year ago that I would buy a Mac I would have told you that you were insane. I frequently referred to Mac's as computers for people who don't like computers. But Saturday morning there I was walking into the Apple store to buy a Mac Mini. What sort of strange series of things had occurred to make this surreal event happen?

There were a number of things over the last year that happened that made me make the commitment involved in learning a new OS and all the things associated with it. To recap, the following things occurred:

1. Video Conferencing - My father in law has been pinging me for many years now about setting up web cams for him to talk to our son Tate. I have constantly been telling him that the quality just isn't there. Earlier this year, we installed a Mac Mini in our office to video conference in our Seattle and Montana based employees. When I was told that we were going to conference people in via video, I thought it would be a big waste of time. What it has been though is simply amazing. At any given time I can stroll over to the Mac mini in our office and plop down and start a conversation with one of our remote employees. And it is REALLY REALLY good.

2. Intel Core - Our home computer has been a real workhorse and I am embarrassed to say that Jessica bought the top of the line home PC in early 1999 and we are still using it today. I mean, as of yesterday. When I spoke with our Systems guy, who is a Mac fan, he walked me through how I can use both the Mac OS and Windows XP on the Mac Mini. I have been charged with getting a new home computer but one of the key requirements was that Jessica wouldn't have to learn a new OS. No computer had really gotten me excited until now. With the new machine I set up last night, we can easily switch between the Mac and Windows world.

3. iTunes Buy In - I took the leap and digitized all my CD collection over the last six months as I have been using the Shuffle when I run.

4. Geek Buy In - All the geeks in my office are big fans of the Mac as it supports UNIX. If they can be into the Mac then I know my time to look at it is here.

So it's still early for me, but I can tell you that I m really excited and look forward to the new computing experience in the months ahead. I am sure there will be some god stories as I settle in.

Friday, August 04, 2006

MP3.com liquidation photos

It's funny that people just resurrected the photos from the MP3.com liquidation sale that can be found here. His editorial reflects a lack of understanding of the context of the business but I think it's hilarious.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Michael Goldhaber Presentation

Earlier today I spent a little time walking through the presentation that Michael Goldhaber gave at a recent conference that you can find linked to from his most recent post here. I continue to find his materials compelling and certainly a different perspective on what we have been thinking for a while in the development of our company. If you have any interest in the Attention Economy this is a must read.

VMix in USA Today

Local pals and former MP3.com alums Vmix were mentioned in this piece here in the USA Today.

PSP 2.8 Upgrade

Last night I noticed that PSP firmware 2.8 became available. There are a number of minor features but the biggest one is adding RSS support for video. I was unable to get Rocketboom or Ze Frank working but figure it must be user error.