Thursday, December 27, 2007

Happy Holidays





We had a wonderful Christmas and are enjoying the time together away from work. I hope to make a couple of posts this week but I am not promising anything. :-)

I posted a ton of pictures on Flickr but here are some of all the kids in case you are lazy.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Triplet's 3rd Birthday

Last Friday our triplets turned 3. It has been an amazing three years and it has gotten more easy and more fun by the day. I will post some new pictures on Flickr later this week.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

EG07

As I mentioned in my last post I was given the opportunity to attend The Entertainment Gathering or EG in Los Angeles earlier this week. When asked if I wanted to attend I hesitated because I had a board meeting, a very important business development meeting and was generally way behind at work at the time.

In retrospect, if I had missed it, it would have been a tragedy that I would have never understood.

One of my former colleagues at MP3.com, Brian Dear the current founder of Eventful is a frequent attendee at certain conferences that I never truly understood. Where I understood trade shows or conferences like the CTIA or Digital Hollywood, I wasn't clear on the value of a multidisciplinary gathering of smart people where there isn't an obvious thread or theme. One of my investors, Steve Tomlin, when reflecting on the conference and my obvious enthusiasm at having attended described it as a mental spa, which I think is an apt description.

So before I talk about the amazing speakers, I think one other thing needs to be mentioned, the amazing attendees. In the first session I was seated a row behind Jeff Bezos, who was showing some friends his kindle. Robert Metcalfe the inventor of Ethernet and Metcalfe's law was there along with Steve Wozniak and Matt Groening. Seeing this early on, and realizing that this conference was something that these people were spending three days of their time wading through gave me a strong respect for the expected quality of the event. It certainly didn't disappoint.

There is a blog on the EG2007 website that you can see a good slice of the speakers and the program. My condensed bullet point of the conference follows:

Rob Glaser from Real Networks spoke about his non profit activities around branding Progressive as a positive message to potential voters.

Jim Citrin from Spencer Stuart spoke about his new book and parallels of excellence between people in business and sports and the difference between amateurs and professionals as a function of disciplined practice and time.

Andrew Keen, author of The Cult of Amateur, railed about the erosion of quality and the tension between the religion of technology and it's impact on media.

Brewster Kahle spoke about the efforts around the Internet Archive and archive.org to create a library of everything on the Internet.

Don Katz spoke about his time as a journalist and as an executive of Audible, the audio book file company. I know Don from a previous life and it was great catching up with him.

Brian Greene gave the audience a 20 minute primer on the fundamentals of quantum mechanics.

Paul Horowitz spoke about some of the math and timelines involved that underlie some of the assumptions that drive the efforts behind things like Seti which he is involved with.

Keith Schwab hit some of the same highlights as Brian Greene but also talked about the implications of quatum mechanics for code breaking and the development of objects at a larger than quantum scale.

Marvin Minsky spoke about his new book on Artifical intelligence and his position that emotions primarily manifest themselves as a switching of of certain rational components of our mind. (Which was meant to be a positive as I understood it).

Pablos Holman showed some of his amazing hacker techniques and tricks.

Caleb Chung, the inventor of the Furby, showed off his newest toy/robot the Pleo. I can guarantee you will both hear about and want one of these little lifelike robot dinosaurs in the next month or two.

Frnas Lantig, the famous naturalist photographer gave a mind bending presentation of his recent collection of photos from around the world of nature accompanied by a soundtrack by Phillip Glass and a poetic narrative from his partner.

Yves Behar talked about design as a concept and walked through some of the examples created by his firm including the Jawbone headset, The Herman Miller Leaf lamp and the design for the One Laptop Per Child project.

Nicholas Negroponte followed with an overview of the One Laptop Per Child project which I have to say was among my favorites both in terms of what the endeavor to accomplish and in how amazing the device is that they have come up with.

Tim Kring the Executive Producer and Creator of Heros spoke about how the show came to pass which was a compelling personal story.

That was the first day for me and I omitted the segments I unfortunately missed. I will hit my second day in a brief follow up post later.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Entertainment Gathering

For the next two days I am in Los Angeles for the Entertainment Gathering. I like to take the opportunity at least once a year to step outside my normal point of reference and work the mind. The year before last it was Gnomedex and this year it is this conference. Can't wait to report on some of the fascinating sessions scheduled.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Techstars Revisited

Over the last two months or so I have been at great risk of becoming an occasional blogger. Actually I have also toyed with blogging about cooking which has been something I have been spending a lot of time doing around the holidays. In any event, I miss posting and now that I have finally taken a VACATION, I endeavor to get back on track. One of the items that came up while I have been blog absent involves the company my friends started called Social Thing. I had posted before about Tech Stars, which I can't say enough good about. Link to my previous post here.

While I was busy, Matt, Brian and company raised an angel round! Their blog post here. (It's been a month already!). Congrats to them and I wish them the utmost success.

While revisiting my reminders to make this post, I went back to the Techstars site to see how the other teams have fared so far and I was excited to see that so far 4 of the companies I saw that day had raised money. Link to the most recent funding and list of other companies here. I can't wait to see how things play out for them and am very interested to see what the Tech Stars folks do in 2008.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cool New iChat Features

Here are some cool background effects and the recording capability.
video

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Another Year

I am 41 today. It seems like I turned 40 just yesterday. Sigh. What a great year last year was and I am sure next year will be as good as the last. A big thanks to my wonderful wife, kids and friends for making each day that much more special.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Digital Hollywood Podcast Interview

While at Digital Hollywood the week after CTIA I was interviewed by website Digital Podcast which can be found here. It is a longer version of what I said on the video interview posted previously. Link can be found here.

Intercasting/Rabble in USA Today

While I was in Rome we had a bunch of news. I will recap links later today as I catch up on email. Here is a link to the USA Today story which mentioned both Rabble and Intercasting.

Rome

This las week I realized a life long dream and got to take a trip to Rome with my wife. As a student of history, Latin and the history of Christianity it was everything I dreamed of. Not much else to say other than it was amazing. Pictures can be seen on my Flickr page which you can reach from here or you can click on the badge on the side.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Video from CTIA

I am way behind on posting but expect to catch up soon. Right. In any case here is a video of me rambling on about what we do from bnetTV at CTIA. Link is here.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Fire Epilogue

Thanks to all my friends and associates who inquired about us during the fire. We never were in any danger and in fact were either in Los Angeles, San Francisco or Palm Springs during the whole thing. Cleanup was a pain but were certainly were thankful that we fared as well as we did. Our thoughts go out to all those who lost their homes.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

San Diego Fire

Yes I live in San Diego.

This last weekend I took my son Tate out to his first Indian Guide camp out on the beach at Camp Pendelton. It was great. On Sunday my wife Jessica took some time off after having had the little ones solo for a good stretch of time. Sunday afternon she was out running some errands and she called me t ask me what was wrong. I was engrossed in a little football and told her nothing was going on or they would have interrupted the game. About an hour later they did.

Fires are pretty common in Southern California and this fire, or rather fires were out in the eastern portion of the county. At least they were at that point.

That evening I headed to the airport to fly up to San Francisco for CTIA. The smoke was unreal on the drive and was bothering me a ton as I went dowtown to catch the last flight up.

The flight was delayed forever but ultimately I rolled into my hotel at around 2 AM. I passed out.

That morning my wife called me to ask me what was going on and to find out if I knew why the power was out of the house. I said I didn't know but to check the neighbors to see if it was just us or the entire area. Shorly thereafter I started getting a bunch of emails from my staff saying that they werte being evacuated, or were helping their families evacuate etc.

My wife was really anxious when we talked and quickly made the decision to take the kids and go up to Los Angeles to stay with friends. This was around 9 AM. She got out quickly and avoided any big traffic nightmare. I went about my merry way having meetings all day and monitored the progress of the fires by calling friends living near the fire and near my house. By the late afternoon, both Del Mar and Solana Beach had been evacuated. I was shocked. This is the beach!

In any event we are fine. I don't believe we are at significant risk to our home as of last night. I guess I will find out later this AM. Thanks to all our friends and families who reached out to see how we are. Hopefully we get back home later today and tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

How I Learned To Love The Cult

It has been a long time now that I have been working on the Mac as my main computer. In fact, both my work and home computer have been Mac now. For the longest time the one last item that has really made me nuts is the inability for me to synchronize my laptop with my smartphone. I have found a business card scanner for my Mac and have been adding all my new contacts but until just recently my phone wasn't staying current with my business card collection.

I have been using Location Free again sporadically and one evening I was wondering around the Sony Ericsson site in hopes of finding a new client for my phone. This was a fruitless exercise but what I did find was a new iSync download for my device. Woot!

In order to use the new synch I also had to upgrade the firmware on my phone in addition to installing the library on my Mac. While this is a bit of a pain I have to say that I am generally pleased with the results and I think thus far have done 4 firmware upgrades on my phone, each with better performance after the upgrade. I do like this service and would be disappointed if I had a phone that didn't have periodic upgrades. Now if we could just do it OTA like the iPhone...

So I downloaded the iSync piece for the Mac and updated the firmware. Next step was to do the Sync. The Sync seemed to take a long time and was sort of buggy. Ultimately it barfed before it coordinated my calendar. This kind of sucked but I had my new updated contacts on the phone which was the primary issue I was trying to address.

The next week while traveling I noticed that my Sprint EVDO phone that I use for a modem was barfing and not connecting. I was not happy. It dawned on me that maybe there was some bluetooth weirdness on the Mac as a result of the sync upgrade. I went in and deleted all my devices and restored them. Bam, everything is working stellar now. Contacts, calendar, etc. This reminds me of a post about how I both love and hate bluetooth but for now I am good to go.

Being able to deal with the last productivity hurdle on the Mac has been really powerful for me and I don't think I am going back to Windows anytime soon. it bums me out as that is my heritage but for now I can say I am happy with being in the cult and all things are good.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Anthem named a Top 10 Application

Fierce Wireless named Anthem as a top 10 mobile application for 2007. Blush. Link can be found here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Best Buy Carphone Warehouse

While in NYC last week I was walking past the Best Buy Mobile store near 45th. I had seen one on my last trip and made a mental note to stop in the next time I got a chance. So this time I did. I was glad I had seen a Car Phone Warehouse when I was in London last which provided me a good understanding of what Best Buy is trying to bring here. The store in NYC (I believe there are 8 pilot stores in Manhattan) was very similar in look and feel to the stores in the UK. The selections were divided into unlocked, carrier specific, prepaid and accessories. Accessories were certainly a huge part.

For someone who wants to shop across carriers I think the store is pretty good. For someone who is looking for unlocked phones the selection was pretty light and certainly that is primarily driven by the subsidy model in the US. In general I hope that they succeed and help bring more selection to the market but if I were a betting man I am guessing that it's going to be a tough haul.

Friday, October 05, 2007

My Friends House - Casa Moderna Take 2

My friend John Diaz and his wife Nancy built the most amazing house in Mar Vista last year. It was featured in the Los Angeles Times in an article I posted about a while ago. This month their house was featured on the cover and in an excellent article in the magazine Azure. Home page pics here. Article here.

Spook Country

This last trip to NYC I finished reading Spook Country by William Gibson. I loved it. It was slightly off from Pattern Recognition but not by much. I hope Gibson keeps writing the contemporary meets the future stuff. While he is the king of cyberpunk, I think there last two books are just remarkable and hopefully inspire more writers to cover similar ground, i.e. when the future collides with the now. No review or spoilers here, you are going to have to read it yourself. :-)

NYC, Urban Daddy and Williamsburg

I was in NYC all this week for meetings. Cross country trips are both good and bad. Good because roughly 12 hours trapped in a plane allows you to catch up on email, write some blog posts, contemplate strategic business stuff and get your Nintendo DS game on. Bad because you go into a time warp and in some cases arrive home beat and sick (this trip especially).

Three non work tidbits from this trip. Scott Wolf, who ran sales for me at Vivendi, was throwing a big agency party on behalf of his new company Waterfront Media at the Gramercy Park Hotel. It was great seeing Scott and meeting the founders of that company and swapping some war stories. Scott is doing a bang up job there. At the same time I also saw Ed Koller who is one of the top media recruiters in the country and was the guy who helped me to get Scott.

Two, at the same party I ran into Rob Petrausch, who worked with us at Vivendi under Scott. After my previous post about Urban Daddy, Rob had emailed me to let me know that he was one of the early guys there and he thanked me for the post. Small world.

Three. I got to take my first trip to Brooklyn to visit my friend Tom Ryan in Williamsburg. I had always wanted to visit the home of the New York hipster set and it didn't disappoint. We had a great dinner and got to check out his place. Williamsburg reminded me a lot of Melrose in LA or Haight in SF. I definitely plan on hanging out there with Tom again soon.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Anthem Launches On Boost

We issued a press release this morning announcing our launch on Anthem on Boost. The release is here. We have been working with the folks at Boost for a long time and are extremely excited to launch with them. They are one of the most successful MVNOs and are some of the most savvy marketing people in wireless. More announcements coming soon.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Urban Daddy

I ended up on some nightclub mailing list over the last couple of years. I don't remember how or why. It is published by a guy in Manhattan and I don't unsubscribe because I find it fascinating. In the off chance I am in NYC and I am bored to tears, not...maybe I will go to some hopping club. Right.

A couple of weeks ago the guy who runs the list David Jaffe, sent an invitation to people on his list to sign up for a new email newsletter called Urban Daddy. I of course signed up. It rocks! They have city issues like LA and NYC and the newsletters remind me of a Daily Candy for urban hipsters. Check out the site here and subscribe. If you need an invite let me know. Right.

Strange Interactivities

If I were to be blogging more frequently now it would be about the mobile social networking space and mobile advertising and other things I don't think I should comment on given what I do. Because I am busy, the usual 5-10% of time of information harvesting I reserve has been very specifically work focused and that doesn't lend itself to blogging. Until five minutes ago.

I met Corey Denis at the first Portable Media Expo in Ontario in 2005. I was going out for drinks with Chris McDonald of IndieFeed and Brian Dewitt (currently at socialthing! ) at some cool bar near Pomona College. Corey came along and was working with IODA at the time (I think she still might be doing something with them) and we were all talking about podcasting and indie artist music and such.

Since then we have kept in touch periodically because we have been to some of the same events (Gnomedex) and we explored doing some stuff with IODA (I love IODA by the way). In any case like many people with the new social linkages, you find people in your various chat/communication/reader thingies these days. While I am not a Twitter person very often, I do occasionally turn on Twitterific to have some droning activity going on in the background. You know, where friends are flying to, what games they are playing, where they are eating.

Today Corey said she was doing some live realtime video feed stuff ala Ustream. She is currently consulting with a company out of Boulder called Me.dium and they are doing some live interactive rock show called Rock Me that you can find at the link. Corey said she was preping some live video feed at Dude of Music. She told people to come check it out on Twitter.

I fired up the website and saw her setting things up. Pretty cool. Kind of Justin TV but you know her. I pinged her on AIM. She answered. We spoke about a mutual friend Dick Huey who she had been hanging out with at the Future of Music conference. In any case, the live interactive video and glued to Twitter and AIM/Skype whatever goodness is just really freaky. Convergence isn't coming from a device or a piece of software. It's going to be the various little bits and pieces you can string together with your various pals and buddies wherever whenever. The future is definitely going to be cool. Or rather is the future now? Back to work.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Getting caught Red Handed

Hotel Max

I have not been blogging. The kids have been sick, work has been busy and I have been traveling. Lots of fun. Last week I had to bow out of the Silicon Valley Mobile Monday due to a very scary emergency room trip, which was a bummer(on both counts). Late in the week I was in Seattle speaking at a smaller conference on mobile commerce and doing some meetings and stayed at the Hotel Max. I have raved before about Tablet and thought I was done but this hotel was awesome and I of course found it on Tablet. First, it was cheap. Cheaper than any Starwood hotel and more importantly, the entire place is LOADED with art. The rooms, the doors to the rooms, the public areas. When you go to Seattle, put this on the list of places to stay.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Return of The Industry Standard

One of my daily email newsletters is reporting that The Industry Standard is coming back online. Well probably only online. As a pre-bubble dot-comer, The Industry Standard was THE place for all the dot com news. I really loved to read it as it had a faint hint of the scent of Valleywag and was pretty comprehensive in its coverage. In my opinion it was the best of the Biz 2.0 and Red Herring competitors. As nostalgic as I am, one has to wonder if this is a sign of impending doom. :-)

Mobile Monday Silicon Valley

I will be speaking about some of our lessons learned on Monday night at Silicon Valley's Mobile Monday meeting. Details here. It's a great collection of speakers including Jordy from Bebo and Sam from Loopt. Both are great guys. Can't say that I know the Nokia guy. It will be my 3rd Mobile Monday (San Diego, Austin) and it should be a lot of fun.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Sirius

This is the year I took the satellite plunge. I have posted before how certain things can really drive technology adoption. For me it has been the NFL. Thanks to the NFL I made the switch to Directv. In fact I think they kick ass over my former digital cable provider.

Last year I came really close to getting Sirius. The big sticking point for me was that there weren't any portable models except on XM, and XM doesn't have the NFL. This year while looking through the selections offered I discovered the Stilleto which is a portable unit that can be played on the go, in your car with a dock, or in your home. Nifty. Well, mostly nifty. I had no desire to do an install in my car so I thought I would walk around and listen on runs or while killing time. Two problems with this. First, the only way to remotely pull that off is to wear some industrial strength antenna headphones and pray that you get more then one bar. Second, you better be outside with an unobstructed view of the southern skies with said contraption on your head. I don't mind looking stupid but the headphones actually hurt.

So I broke down and did the car install. Since then I have been really digging Sirius. I expected to get NFL and college football. What I didn't expect was that I would get into listening to music. Sirius has some great genre formatted stations that I am getting into. Right now the three music oriented channels I listen to are Elvis, Punk and Faction. Elvis is, well, Elvis. 24/7. Punk is mostly real hard core old school punk. Think Dead Kennedys. Faction is for lack of a better word skater music. The play punk, hardcore, reggae and hip hop. You know skater music. In any case I am excited about the football season and getting to spend some time discovering some new bands I wouldn't normally listen to.

Old McDonalds - Truth in Advertising

One day several weeks ago while watching The Power Rangers with my oldest son, he suddenly asked me why Old McDonald keeps interrupting his show. A little background is needed. You see for some reason my son has confused Ronald McDonald and Old McDonald from the nursery rhyme. He seems to think they are the same even though one runs a farm and the other is a clown.

I explained that Old McDonald was trying to get him interested in visiting their store to get hamburgers and fries. He asked why? I told him that it was called advertising and the idea was that if they kept reminding him that he would ask us to go there the next time he got a choice. I wasn't convinced he understood it but the line of questioning dropped.

A week or so later we had been at an Aztecs Football practice and I was looking for a fish and chips place by request. I was n a part of town where I couldn't seem to find one and suggested that we go to In and Out burger instead as there was one nearby. Just then my son saw the golden arches and commented to his friend, "I don't know why Old McDonald keeps trying to get me to eat their unhealthy food but I don't want to go there."

I laughed out loud realizing that he had synthesized conversations from my wife saying that he can't always go to McDonalds with the conversation above. Too funny.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

iPhone Goodness

I have been playing with an iPhone for a couple of weeks. I was about to write a lumbering post about how it is a great media device and a not so great productivity tool. Especially with respect to email. But then Lifehacker turned me on to AppTap and I did the easy 1 click firmware upgrade that allowed me to install a whole host of software including the mobile Chat software that supports IM. Specifically AIM right now. Fricking cool. Ok, so I will probably still do an iPhone post but may change the focus.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

William Gibson Deja Vu

This morning I boarded a flight from San Diego to San Francisco. Two weeks ago, recalling one of my New Years resolutions, I realized that I hadn't read a book a month and am certainly in danger of probably only hitting half that number this year. In fact to be technical I think I resolved that the works be fiction and my last one was Paul Graham's Artists and Hackers. Certainly not fiction but definitely enjoyable particularly because one of our young rising star engineers kept citing passages from it I felt compelled to read it.

I had recently been chatting with Russ Beattie about the various Nokia Internet tablets and he mentioned off handedly that the N770 had a great ebook application and that he had found a full text copy of the Neuromancer he was reading and that led to a discussion about the new book from William Gibson, Spook Country. What? How the hell did I miss that! I have read every one of his books.

I immediately ordered the book and looked forward to the opportunity to read the book. This morning I cracked open the book and with the music of The Mortal Coil floating through my iPod began the read. It became an immediate Deja Vu on so many levels.

My mother died suddenly but not altogether unexpectedly back in 1985. That set into motion for me a journey I would characterize as the low point of my life in terms of where I was mentally and emotionally. The end of that approximately year journey sort of came to an end up in Seattle when I ended up bunking with one of my fraternity brothers for a week or so north of downtown. It was during that time that I picked up a copy of the Neuromancer and I spent the better part of a couple of days wandering around downtown Seattle reading the book on park benches and while riding the buses and taking in the rainy, misty Seattle days. The memory of that time has always been with me and the cyber future that Gibson portrayed would be a big part of my re-entering the digital world in the years to come.

The opening chapter of Spook Country is set up on the Sunset Strip with mentions of The Mondrian and the Standard Hotel and many of the clubs I frequented in my early 90s industrial/punk phase as well as during the last ten years of digital media wireless startup city hoping staying in the Ian Schrager, Tablet Hotel land hotels. It made me smile and put a wrapper on how funny life can be. I can't wait to see where this book goes.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Anthem Goes Live on Virgin

We announced here that we have launched Anthem on Virgin Mobile with Black Planet, Asian Avenue, Mi Gente, Glee, Faith Base, Xanga, Vox, Live Journal and Rabble. We technically Rabble has been there a while but we have switched the underlying client architecture to a single client that interfaces with the above mentioned communities. More to come.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Helio Ocean Video Post Via Youtube

Boulder

Last week I traveled to Boulder, Colorado to see the presentations from the techstars group. It was a great event and I will do a detailed write up today or tomorrow (hopefully) of the different teams products I saw.

An unintended benefit was my first visit to Boulder. What an amazing town! I have a number of friends who attended the University of Colorado and who raved about the city and the school. The setting of the school, adjacent to an amazing rock formation and surrounded by mountains can hardly be described. The town had a great feel as well as one would expect from a college town.

I think that beyond the content and the teams and products presented last week, it was quite a smart move by the folks at techstars to bring talent into Boulder through this vehicle. I believe over half of the teams that presented were from outside of Colorado and they now intend to set up their companies there. Beyond Silicon Valley, Los Angeles and New York, I think that the fight for talent can be tough, even in a city as big as San Diego. I think that a techstars type enterprise in San Diego and other cities would be a great thing to invigorate the local technology industries and give the entrepreneurs something to galvanize around.

Skateboarding Video Test from P990

Friday, August 10, 2007

Hotspot@home

As a follow up to the rambling wifi device post I made previously, I picked up one of the Tmobile Hotspot at home devices. Actually, that would be a phone and a router. For information check out their website here. The name is "The only phone you need." Hmmm.

The phone that comes as part of the kit is either a lower end Nokia or Samsung phone. The phones are both fine but aren't blowing anyone away with fancy features. THE fancy feature is a UMA chip. UMA stands for Unlicensed Mobile Access and what it essentially means is that you can use WIFI, at least in this implementation.

I am a long time Tmobile user for my personal primary phone. One of the bad things about Tmobile at my house is that there really is only one place in my house that gets good reception. I tend to overlook that because I try not to talk on the phone at home. With the new Hotspot@home phone, this issue disappears. What the phone allows you to do is to make phone calls using your wifi as the origination point. An added bonus of this is that for calls that originate on wifi, they don't count against your plan. Essentially they are free. An added bonus to this is that whenever you walk into a Tmobile hotspot, your phone also automatically routes itself to the hotspot for call origination/termination.

Ok, Derrick, so that's fine except I talk when I am driving in my car and last time I checked there isn't any wifi on the road. True and in this case the handset seamlessly transitions to the Tmobile network. Pretty nifty stuff. As an added bonus, if you start your call on wifi, and jump in the car and transition to their network, the call is still free. I have to say that I was really skeptical of the handoffs but upon multiple trials, I found that it is excellent. There are occasional issues, for example, when I walk out my house the Tmobile connectivity is bad and the handoff either gets mangled and sounds like hell or actually drops. In general though, that is the rare exception.

So I like it. Now what? Well when I thought it through, to me the benefits of this service are mainly two. First, this kills those companies that are trying to magnify the cell signal in your home. If carriers adopt UMA configurations like this and consumers happen to have broadband, then this is a great way to ensure that you have good cell coverage at home. I guess that's why they call it The only phone you need, which I assume is a reference to the need to have a landline at home when your cell doesn't work.

The second benefit is the extension of free minutes for consumers. In my case that doesn't do much since I have a 5000 minute plan, but I get the value for people who have broadband, which I think is an important distinction. The reason I point that out is because the phones they deployed in this package are pretty underwhelming and given my perceived demographic skew of users who have broadband, they are probably not phones that more affluent customers would want.

What I anticipate though are future devices that are similar to my smartphone. The benefit of the UMA access would be great to use as a web surfing device, for file transfers within a local area and some of the other things you see with the Apple Phone. The questions this raises though are around cannibalization of existing business models and possible breaks in the closed or controlled nature of the networks. My bet is that several of the carriers will approach this in a thoughtful way that will ultimately result in a wow kind of consumer offering. I am not entirely sure what that is yet but I think that one can see some of the elements beginning to form and how they could possibly be joined.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Arcata


I am kind of on summer blog vacation. Not entirely by choice, but the combination of a really busy work schedule coupled with a couple of long weekends with the family has made me disappear for the last week.

Last Thursday night I drove up to Los Angeles and then flew out the following morning to Arcata, CA. The last time I had been in Arcata was in 1984 at a debate tournament in college. I remembered that it was a nice place although slightly rustic, but that was about all.

I have to say that I was totally blown away by the trip. We spent a bit of time around Redwood National Park north of Arcata. We did a little hike through the Lady Bird Johnson grove which was beautiful and timely given her recent death. The highlight of that part included sighting a pretty good sized Black Bear that ran across the road just in front of our car.

After a small lunch we went up a bit further and visited Fern Canyon which was the setting for some of the scenes from Jurrasic Park 2. It was really unbelievable. While there we saw a really Big Elf buck that was grazing near the canyon entrance.

On the way back towards Arcata, we ran into a whole herd of Elk that was grazing in a field. There must have been 40 or so.

The day before I left there was an editorial article talking about how eco tourism hasn't taken off the way people expected so far. I blurted out that the reason I saw was that there really aren't a whole lot of accommodations and getting there is still a pain. Hopefully that changes with time as I think that the north west corner of California is up there with Yellowstone and some of the other beautiful national parks. Ok, now I will get back to technology. I will have some pictures of the above on my Flickr page if you are interested.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

13 years


Monday was my 13th anniversary. Jessica and I had planned to go to Switzerland this summer for a week but we got caught in the passport nightmare and decided to punt. Before we had done that we planned on spending our anniversary hiking in the mountains around San Bernardino. Even though Switzerland was out we decided to do the hike anyways as hiking was something we did a lot of when we were dating and during the first chunk of years of our marriage.

Our target for the hike was Mt. San Jacinto, which is the second highest peak in Southern California. I had forgotten that it was also the first real big hike I had taken her on. Back then she wore tennis shoes. Not a good idea.

As a hiker who hasn't hiked in a while I forgot all the important things. Things like packing enough water. Packing moleskin for the inevitable blisters. Not entirely freezing your water bottles. All the good stuff.

The hike we chose was via the Palm Springs Aerial tramway to Long Valley, Round Valley and then up to the peak. About two miles in, I realized that 1, I hadn't worn the right socks and 2, I didn't have moleskin. We thought long and hard about turning around but ultimately ran into a guy who graciously gave me some moleskin.

After that it was steady going towards the top although I have to say I was sucking wind pretty hard. I can maintain a consistent pace without much stopping but the altitude and the relative shortage of water took a bit of a toll. About 3/4 of the way up we stopped and had a lunch i made that was homemade pesto from the garden on ciabatta with brie and heirloom tomatoes grilled on a panini grill and wrapped tightly to keep it from drying. It rocked. The basil has been exceptional this year in the garden.

We eventually made it to the top where some other hikers snapped this photo for us. Coming down Jessica realized that there was a tear down my pants about 18 inches long that left my "full seat" exposed. I told her it was simply a equipment malfunction and that it was a good idea to create an a$$ vent for hikers. I am sure I looked very foolish.

Before leaving the top we signed the book and then headed back down. The entire day was a great flashback of the foundational years of our marriage and it was an awesome day spent away from kids, startups, and outside distractions. Each step reminded me how lucky I am to be married to such a wonderful woman, mother, life partner and friend. I can't wait to head back up there with her in another 13 years or so.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

San Diego Events: Comic Con and The Dead Sea Scrolls

There are a couple of attractions in San Diego currently that warrant attention.

The first is Comic-Con 2007. I attended my first one around 12 years ago. At the time I was working at Sony Pictures and my boss asked me if I wanted to make a couple of extra bucks driving a group of animators down to the convention. I took him up on it and was surprised to find out it was a lot of the animators of The Simpsons. They were a lot of fun. Back then Comic Con was small.

I went yesterday towards the end of the day and spent some time with my son walking around and taking pictures with people in full costume. This is no longer a small event. It sold out Friday and Saturday so far and I am betting that Sunday does the same. No longer a place for oddball comic collectors and refugees from a Dungeons and Dragons convention. Every gaming company was there. All the studios are there. It is MASSIVE. The rise of shows like Heros and Smallville only hint at the fascination with superheros we have in this country. If you aren't in San Diego this weekend make plans to come next year. This is quickly becoming one of the must see shows.

The second event is the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition at the Natural History Museum. We went last weekend and it was just amazing. When I was in high school many years ago I visited the Getty on a Latin class field trip and saw an illuminated manuscripts exhibition that was breathtaking. These hand written books were from the 1200s and 1300s. Better yet they were in Latin and I could read them. It was awesome. Those documents are nothing compared to the Dead Sea Scrolls which date back to the early 1st Century and some that may be even slightly older. Looking at 2000 documents leaves you with a feeling that is hard to describe.

The big downside of the exhibition was the attendance. In Los Angeles or New York, there would have been lines out the door and spending time looking at the exhibit would have been difficult. Not in San Diego. We strolled up and had the place to ourselves with just a handful of others. Hats of the the Jacobs for bringing such an important cultural exhibit here. Hopefully more things like this will build on some of the other great cultural items in San Diego (Old Globe, La Jolla Playhouse) and raise the prominence of San Diego as a cultural destination rather than a place for beaches and fish tacos. Maybe. :-)

Rabble at Comic Con

Well sort of. This morning I grabbed the paper and was immediately drawn to the picture of zombies on the front page. I realized quickly that one of our employees was quoted on the front page and mentioned Rabble. Link here. Very cool. I am in fact headed down today to take my son. I had tried to get out of it because it is such a zoo, but he insisted. So I will be there wearing my fancy new Rabble T-shirt with pride.

Congrats to Jennifer who organized the parade. An added bonus is a quote by Howard Rheingold of Smartmobs fame who cites the zombie parade as a sort of flash mob.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Mobile Jones is back and a new one as well

I hadn't talked to Debi in a long time. I know she was doing some other stuff mostly focused on podcasting and to my knowledge had been true to her pledge earlier this year to quit blogging. In recent weeks she started again and I always enjoy her thoughts/rants, etc. Do check it out.

While chatting around a podcast I was supposed to be involved in but had to flake on due to a biz dev conflict, Debi suggested that I subscribe to Paul Ruppert's blog. Paul is a former executive with Mobile 365 as well as one of the co-authors of the patent around international sms cross protocol exchange. Needless to say he is an old timer in mobile terms and another blog I would add if you are mobile interested.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Quien es mas Macho? Mylo or N770

While many of my mobile cohorts have been fawning over or hating their iPhone, I have been spending a lot of time getting to know the Nokia N770 I bought on Woot.

Russ wrote a great post today about a remote desktop client for the N770 that you can find here. That served to remind me that I had an overdue post. Fyi - blogging and startups don't mix, but I digress...

I almost titled this post "The emergence of the wifi device" which seemed like a bit much, but it is what I have been thinking about since playing with this device. In the last year there has been a marked increase in the number of devices I carry that have wifi connectivity. My PSP, P990, Mylo and now the N770. What is the significance of wifi and what promise does it hold from my perspective?

To begin with, I am not a converged device believer. There is no one device that will have the features that I want. I believe that when one device tries to do everything it doesn't do anything well. I think there are devices that can hit a wide range of functions and do them well but at some point it starts to fall over. As I have stated previously, I carry my P990 and the Sidekick 3. The P990 is just an awesome device to me but it doesn't do Instant messaging very well. It also doesn't do a very good job at playing games or playing video, at least not in my opinion. The Sidekick is an amazing IM device. I don't use it for anything else. I know that there are a lot of Nokia users who swear by the N95 the same way that I fawn over my P990.

So broadly speaking, how does wifi improve my communication experience? The obvious things are fast downloads, possible voip usage, circumventing my carrier network charges, and in some cases the ability to share files locally. The downsides? Poor handoff, fixed perimeter usage, encryption set up for some networks and in some cases speed degradation when too many users are present(although in most cases that isn't a concern).

There are many who are brighter than me who can elaborate further but in a nutshell the above describes how I think about it. In any case, I have gone down the wifi road with my devices and am increasingly thinking about where it all leads. While I want to talk about the Mylo and the N770 in particular I think that it makes sense to walk through the other devices as well to give context.

The PSP. I love the PSP. I max mine out every chance I get. I do a ton of things with it that I wont elaborate on. Wifi is very important for a couple of reasons and is completely useless in others. Wifi is the mechanism to browse the web. The input mechanism is terrible so I don't do that much. To upgrade the firmware, I use wifi. This has been by far the best use of wifi and I have seen revision after revision of firmware upgrade the device since I bought it. One of the coolest firmware upgrades gave me 6 months free wifi at Tmobile hotspots. A very tasty treat that I didn't expect.

Putting content on the PSP. Sorry, wifi isn't able to do that. This is a major travesty and one I cannot fathom. Instead I am left connecting cables to laptops to transfer Tivo shows, pictures, and other stuff. I can't imagine that this will remain like this but in the meantime that is a tragic gap in what you can do with wifi on this device.

The P990. The P990 has wifi. I almost never use it. The first best use case of wifi with this device for me was email. I could quicky download email and in the case where some god friend or coworker sent me some kind of megabyte size file I could switch over to wifi and grab the offending item quickly. Unfortunately for me, when I have the WAN/wifi enabled and I leave the local area, I find that my GPRS tends to barf and timeout when fetching my email. When I disable the WAN, everything woks fine again. Beyond email and the occasional web browsing (which works very well) I don't really use wifi. What would be really cool would be some kind of voip client or the ability to use wifi to tap into the video conferencing capabilities of the device which doesn't work on my US EDGE network today.

The Mylo. I bought the Mylo when it came out as it reminded me of some kind of cross between the Sidekick and the PSP. Admittedly it was an impulse purchase at the time and I wasn't properly informed about what it could/couldn't do. I do recall vaguely some review that mentioned the emergence of wifi devices that started with the N770. I spent a fair amount of time with the Mylo over 2 or 3 months and came to a couple of conclusions. Awesome Skype phone. And not much else. The media capabilities are good. Great speakers and great sound. Getting music in and even worse, video, is a nightmare again requiring cables and PC connections. Web browsing is certainly better than the PSP. While traveling in Europe I was pumped to get to use the Skype capabilites at Hot spots but the Tmobile free wifi service was North America only so I was very bummed by that.

The N770. The N770 has none of the style or class of the Mylo. The Mylo looks slick and has a great slideout keyboard that is usable. The N770, although it lacks the Sony design edge is a monster. Most critically, it isn't strictly tied to wifi. You can use Bluetooth to connect to a phone when you aren't near a hot spot. While traveling in NYC a couple of weeks ago I could pull out the N770, connect to my EVDO phone and check email, surf the web and generally do a lot of the things I do on my laptop in a much smaller package. The single network piece is a serious Achilles heel of the PSP and the Mylo. No doubt that will get fixed in the future.

As I spent more time with the N770 a really important distinction became apparent to me about the inherent nature of this device versus the Mylo. The Mylo is a communications device at it's core. The preinstalled IM clients and more importantly Skype drove both the major use cases as well some of the design considerations (QWERTY keyboard and general phone form factor). The speakers and display also speak to the media aspects of the device.

The N770 on the other hand seems firmly rooted in business productivity type applications, at least in my opinion. There is extensive support for email, web browsing and contact management. The extensive Linux application support is extremely impressive although it isn't as user friendly as a simple business person would like. I am sure that the N800 takes it up a notch in usability. There is audio and video support, as well as support for VOIP via Gizmo project but those features seem underpowered in device form factor and audio output.

I have to say that I actually use the N770 and am excited to try more things like the remote desktop application Russ mentioned. In general, I don't use the Mylo except for the occasional Skype call when I don't want to be tethered to my PC. I imagine that the next generation of the Mylo will see some upgrades along the line of the N770 / N800. I am actually getting an N800 now to see what the next generation of Nokia device does well and where they have migrated to from a technology perspective.

So Mas macho? The N770, although I think that there is a future for Sony in this category especially as they see continued growth and movement in their handset joint venture with Ericsson and their vertical focus on camera and music with the Cybershot and Walkman lines.

With the recent announcement by Tmobile of their wifi/phone offer, it appears to me that the walking the line between wifi and actual carrier networks is about to be crossed/blurred and mashed up. As that starts to occur I think that finding the right and best applications of the various networks will be a challenge for all the manufacturers and will be the key to success. I like where Nokia is at but I suspect that the winners will be vertically tied to specific use case or consumer group like gamers/productivity, etc.

Monday, July 23, 2007

iPhone comedy

If you have never read The Best Page in the Universe, I have to recommend it highly. He doesn't post that much but when he does it is priceless. Last week Chris in my office sent me a link to his latest rant about the iPhone which you can read here. NC-17 all the way.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Walken For President

Damon sent me a link to the Christopher Walken for President site which you can find here. While I don't know if this is a joke or not, it certainly couldn't be worse than they guy in office today.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Intercasting named to the Always On 100 Top Companies List

We are honored that today we were selected as one of the top companies in mobile on the Always On list. Full details and the complete list can be found here.

Anthem on Sprint

Today we announced the launch of Anthem on Sprint in this press release here. It has been a lot of hard work from our team but we think that the end product is something that will help define communities on mobile devices. What exactly is Anthem? From a user perspective, it is a donwloadable application that will allow people to interface with existing web based communities they use on the web. At launch we are rolling out Xanga, Live Journal, Vox, Rabble, Black Planet and several other properties from Community Connect. What the user sees is a web like experience on their phone. They have full read and write access just like they do on the website.

We expect to announce a number of additional carriers very soon as well as a number of additional social networking sites/communities. One of the great things about our approach with Anthem is that it will lead to preinstalled applications on the handset that bring the flexibility to add communities in the future.

On the Rabble front this brings us to 9 carriers with deck support from the carrier. We are working with the three largest carriers, Sprint, ATT, Verizon as well as Virgin, Cricket, Metro PCS, Cellular South, Claro Puerto Rico and Centennial Puerto Rico.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Russ is blogging again

Actually Russ started blogging around his new startup Mowser a while ago but now he has started his personal blog again which you can view here. I am really pumped to be reading his posts again.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Hyatt Place

In an earlier post I wrote about how I had used my LBS enabled Google Maps application to find a hotel while stuck in Denver. That hotel was a new Hyatt Place hotel near the airport. I don't normally write about hotels (except Tablet Bookings) but this was a pretty cool new concept. We arrived at the hotel exhausted and saw a line of a couple of people speaking to the front desk agent and two check in kiosks. I went to the kiosk, swiped my credit card and in about a minute was checked in as two room keys popped out of the machine.

The decor of the place reminded me of W or Ian Schrager styling with a bit more lively colors and a feel that reminded me of some kind of update on 60s French Utopian design. Think Kubrik but friendly.

When we got to the room, the bed was awesome, the TV giant and beautiful, and the whole place feeling like an upbeat W.

Apparently this place had been an Amerisuites hotel that had been converted. I generally avoid the Courtyard and other suite style places as they feel geared to families and not business travelers. This was the opposite. It also didn't have the overly hip feel of some of the places I usually stay.

I hadn't heard much about this new brand but I hope some other chains follow with what felt like a good combination of the things us road warriors want with the right balance of convenience, services, and comfort. Two thumbs up!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Net Neutrality

One of the wonderful surprises of the Mac has been the ease of use of my Sprint Upstage phone as a EVDO modem. I can't say how amazing it is to pull out the laptop, connect to the phone wirelessly and be online anywhere with some screaming connectivity.

Over the last two weeks while using this I have had some intermittent connection problems. I would connect, and then disconnect. This kept happening to me so I started turning off applications like Adium and Skype. Through a process of elimination I realized that if Skype was up, the connection disconnected. That of course led to the aha moment that Sprint is blocking Skype traffic through whatever port they happen to use. As someone who works with carriers this isn't news to me so I turn Skype off and away I go.

I had originally planned to post this observation around a post that highlighted the fact that the wireless networks are closed networks and not the Internet and that they had to bid on spectrum, put up towers etc.

Since then the new FCC guidelines around the 700 mhz spectrum auctions were announced with a lot of flaming back and forth about whether or not this was a gift to Google and a shot at carriers and how carriers are stifling innovation etc. As a reader of tech blogs the blogosphere was heavily in favor of this and in general was pretty unkind to the carriers. I didn't spend too much time thinking about it as in general I find that the biggest critics are people who either have difficulty working with the carriers or who think everything should be free, Internet, music etc.

Before I boarded the plane to San Diego I picked up the WSJ and read a couple of interesting articles about the spectrum auction. There was a strong argument made that this move was an attempt to change the nature of the auctions to the advantage of tech companies. I know that the truth lies in the middle somewhere but as a free market person, I think that the journal made much stronger arguments than what I read online. It will be interesting to see where it all shakes out. If you have any interest in the topic I would try to check out pieces from both sides as there is a lot of merit in both arguments.

LBS Use Cases - Hotel Finder and Cabbie Helper

So what I didn't say about the trip to Colorado was the nightmare return home. We arrived back at the Gunnison airport on Sunday afternoon several hours before our flight. This wasn't a big hit with Jess but I miscalculated the time of the drive for some reason. We checked in and hung out with the airport wifi and our computers while Tate watched some DVDs. About an hour before take off time we had some bad news that the flight was going to be delayed. We had a tight connection in Denver so this was some big time bad news.

The delay stuff was hanging over the whole time and it quickly became apparent that we weren't getting out of Denver once we arrived. At the airport it was a complete mess. Apparently Denver shut down for two hours or so for lightning storms and this killed the feeder flights coming in from the little towns nearby. The lines were out the door. If you have ever been stranded in Denver, then you know that the only decent hotels are about 45 minutes away in downtown Denver.

I had two bad nights in Crested Butte with a not so great bed and an upcoming cross country trip to NYC so I had to get a good nights sleep. I whipped out my Helio Ocean and pulled up the Google Maps application. I searched for Starwood, Hyatt and other chains that do a good job with the beds. I found a Hyatt Place hotel very close to the airport and called them. They had availability so I booked a room. This experience was so good I will follow up with another post just about this new approach to hotels later.

I hopped in a cab and said I wanted to go to the Hyatt Place at the airport. He was dumbfounded. Never heard of it. I whip out the phone and said here on the map, go here.

While in NYC this week I was playing with the Google Maps application again as I was plotting out my 5 meetings per day itinerary. I can't recall how many times in NYC I am asked about the cross street and I don't have it. 550 Madison? Madison and what? I don't know, I am from LA. Our numbers make sense there. Not this trip. Madison and 55th. So there. My favorite was a meeting in the East Village where I pulled the phone out and said look, this is where it is.

These examples are the kinds that make LBS compelling to me.

Crested Butte



This last weekend Jessica, Tate and I traveled to Crested Butte, Colorado for a wedding for a good friend of ours when we lived in Los Angeles. Three things worth sharing. One, we loved this area. It had a lot of the charm of Jackson Hole, WY without being crowded. The town had a great vibe and the number of activities you could do was astounding, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, river rafting, etc. Just to name a few. We want to go back with the whole tribe as soon as possible.

Two, I got to see a lot of our friends from when we lived in Los Angeles. We were really fortunate to have a great group of friends who worked in the film industry who are down to earth, smart and a lot of fun to be with. Of course life gets in the way of time spent together and I haven't seen many of them much in the last eight years (Has it been that long?). While catching up, a couple of them were completely up to date with me from reading my blog. I was flattered that they cared enough to stay in touch virtually and I was amazed at how having that in place made for some interesting conversations about things people were working on or thinking about. I whimped out on one of the party nights as I was kind of shot and I regret that but hopefully the experience makes us all try to reach out a little more and stay in touch.

Three, Tate came within about 200 feet of his first serious summit, Mt. Crested Butte. We took the ski lift up and he just trekked right on up the mountain, passing some teens along the way. It was great and I think I might have a hiker in the making. As we approached the summit the path gave way to rocks and some sheer sides and Jess and I didn't feel all that comfortable putting him in that kind of environment especially with a storm looming. Next time. Pictures here.

Monday, July 02, 2007

iPhones, Woot and Internet Tablets

On Friday I knew I wasn't going to be picking up an iPhone. Although it was clearly an event, it wasn't on my list. I felt a pang of jealousy for all the people I saw in line at the Apple store by our office.

I arrived home Friday afternoon and before me was a smallish box with the Woot label on the side. I quickly turned my thoughts to the box. Earlier in the week I was looking for my daily Wot fix and saw the Nokia N770 available for $125 + shipping. This device was recently retailing at about $350. Two very interesting things about the device intrigued me. One, it was one of the first devices in the wifi appliance category. Two, it was built on an open platform around Linux so there is a ton of software available. At $350 not too interesting to me. At $125 it was a must have.

So while man of my pals were in line getting their iPhones, I was trying to set up my Internet Tablet.

In brief, the N770 allows you to connect to either your wifi, or through your phone using Bluetooth. I spent something like 5 seconds setting up Bluetooth with my Sprint EVDO handset and away I went. There was little difference between the wifi and the phone from what I could tell. The device has a web browser, email client, media management, voip support and other things that are common on PDA or PDA like devices.

I spent the better part of the weekend playing with the device and will follow up with a write up shortly with a reference to the Mylo and some other devices to put the N770 in context. The short review is, I really dig the N770. If you can get one for cheap go grab it.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Social Networking - The Beer Filter

Over the last month I have been suddenly deluged with a number of requests from friends migrating to Facebook. I signed up after they had opened up originally and quickly found that none of my friends were there. Old guy. But now they are. And in looking at Facebook and that some of my adult/real friends look like they may really be setting up their home there, it made me come to the conclusion that unlike most of the other sites I have signed up for, where I approve any friend request, I am not going to do that again.

Not this time. On Linkedin I am up over 300 people and a surprising number of them are actually friends. Then there are legions of people I met at a conference, or have had one meeting with, or I may have actually met at some time. No more of that. With Facebook I am applying the beer filter. What is the beer filter? I won't do an add friend unless I have actually sat down and had a beer with someone. The only exceptions I am making are people I work or worked with whom I might have had a beer with as part of larger company function. If the beer filter works then I may actually accumulate a good number of people who really are friends, colleagues or people I work with in business. At least that is the hope.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Avoiding Email Bankruptcy

Coming into this year, I realized that the activity level of work just continues to increase. I think there were times at Vivendi when I was possibly busier, but it had a natural ebb and flow that is different than in a startup. In a startup you have the ebb and flow but everything is on a continued upward trajectory.

I spent some time with the Getting Things Done materials and through most of this year kept telling myself that I would get rigid about how I process things. My natural state is to keep a lot of details in my head and switch back and forth very quickly. A lot of that ability was honed in my early 20s when I was a dispatcher at the studios and had to track 50+ people all day long all over Los Angeles. It was sort of like a living video game with screaming studio executives in the background. In retrospect it was really a lot of fun and to this day I can juggle a lot at the same time. This however doesn't scale.

The biggest monkey on my back has been email. I generally hover around 300 to 700 emails that are to be filed or to be responded to. In general, most of those are to be filed. With a number of posts from people like Fred Wilson making posts about email bankruptcy (deleting your inbox and starting over), I paused for a second and considered the option. My anal retentive nature with respect to information made that a bad option for me. I had to bear down and solve it. Last week as I transitioned to a replacement for my two year old laptop, I got the email box to zero. I plan to keep it there. I also am trying to use some structured approaches to deal with the scaling of information. I will keep you posted as to my success.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Mac Attack

So add me to the long list of people who switched from a PC to a Mac. I have never ever been a Mac user but the opportunity to use the Mac, PC and Unix environment on one machine was irresistible, especially as I became more comfortable with the Mac from using the Mini at home.

Yes it is great and I love it. No it isn't a social movement or the next best thing to sliced bread. My only hope is I get another 2+ years from this laptop as I did my last HP Laptop. I am thinking that I will.

One big drawback so far is the support for business nerds. Getting Outlook contacts to a Mac format was a real pain in the ass. I had to buy a $10 software package called Outlook2Mac. How I am going to sync things with my main smartphone is still a mystery to me. One big plus was the set up of my Upstage EVDO handset as a modem using Bluetooth. That ruled. No software, no discs, no drivers. It just worked. As it should.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Helio Ocean

I have been carrying around the Helio Ocean since the new phone launched. In general I don't like to talk much about carriers or devices because we work with both carriers and handset OEMs. In the past I have made the exception with Helio because I felt that they were targeting people like me as the core of their consumer base (Gadget freak, early adopter). This was based mostly on the early descriptions of their market pre-Myspace deal. The Myspace deal was confusing to me because I think that Helio, which is in general a higher end device carrier than the broad based US carriers that offer lots of phone choice as well as free phones and family calling plans, was targeted at a slightly older and slightly more affluent consumer. Given Myspace's ubiquity that may be a mistake on my part but in general I personally thought it was a head scratcher.

The Ocean, however, is the type of device I would expect from Helio. It is definitely a device like no other on a carrier today. While true their are devices like the LG Envy and others, the Ocean brings an amazing combination of hardware design and usability, with an awesome handset UI and a great network.

Big plus - The action on the Ocean (Pantek) both the traditional and qwerty side are switchblade like and is very similar to the Sony Mylo. The FAST mobile messaging and IM integration is ambitious and fairly well executed. The LBS enabled Google maps application is probably the hottest thing I have seen on a phone.

Big minus - The handset seems like it is bit under microprocessor strain. For example, although the Fast mobile IM works well, there are times when you type on the keyboard and the phone seems like it is hung, until about a minute or so later when it actually types. I can't tell if this is hardware or software related but that's a must fix in the future. No use of the device as a phone modem. Maybe that is going to change?

So to reiterate, I am exited to see Helio push the envelope with a device like this. I can't wait to see what the next devices are going to be absed on this direction. There are a number of concerns I expressed previously about the deck being kind of locked down, the inability to use Opera or Opera mini etc. that may be issues around Pantek devices specifically. In any event, I would bet that in the future those issues will fall by the wayside.

One big question I had that seems to have disappered is the H.O.T or Helio On Top application from the Ocean. I thought that in concept this was one of the coolest things that Helio was trying to do. The software for the Hero was pretty buggy but I figured that would be fixed over time. I wonder if there is a data load issue with that kind of application? Hard to say.

The ultimate question I face when I look at a device is whether or not I would adopt this as my primary phone. In this case I would give the Ocean a pretty high thumbs up in general if not for my involvement with my current phones. Yes, phones. I am still way bought into the Sidekick III. It is almost laughable that I carry a device just for IM, but it is really that good. I think that I could use the Ocean in a serviceable way, and it is certainly better than anything I have seen on other handsets including my SE P990, but it isn't as good as the Sidekick for IM. On other fronts I think it probably beats the Sidekick but as that is my primary use case, I am still going to carry the larger device.

Since I am a smartphone user, it isn't a fair comparison as a replacement for that class of device but it is certainly a top of the list phone if I were to abandon the smartphone class of device.

Hats off to the Helio team for a bold direction with their newest phone. I can't wait to see what is next.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Devices in my Bag - Phone Porn


Two things happened to me a couple of week ago that made me dump my travel bag out on the kitchen table to reassess what I am carrying around in my bag.

First my Sprint Ambassador phone, the LG Fusic expired and I had to switch to a new phone. I have to say that I really loved that Fusic.

Second, I was heading to Europe and I had to free myself of my CDMA phones. I figured that would lighten the load in the bag when you consider that I carry around power cords for all these devices.

So I thought that it might be fun to share which devices I am carrying now including a little editorial where appropriate and the promise of a full review where warranted.

Jawbone - Tom in our office was cruising around a couple of months ago with a bluetooth headset that looked like something from Counter Strike instead of a McDonalds headset. He said it was the Jawbone and it uses special technology that isolates sounds so you could in fact be mowing the lawn and talk on your phone. Not a use case I would consider but a good pitch. I found that after too many times driving my car with one hand up to my ear that I should use one of these devices. It also looks pretty cool. The noise filtering doesn't perform as advertised but how often do you mow the lawn anyways? The added side benefit is that I have been stopped by half a dozen people who have asked me if that is the Jawbone. I am impressed that they have that kind of mindshare when I have never heard or seen an ad. It could be what I am watching. For the record, I don't wear it in the office.

Helio Ocean - I have spent the last four weeks using this phone as a replacement for my Sidekick. It does some things really well and others not so well. I think this one warrants a full review. All in all I would say that it is a thumbs up, but like I said, I think it is a longer discussion.

Bluetooth Keyboard - Underneath the Ocean I have a fold out Stowaway Blue Tooth expandable keyboard. I haven't used it in over a year. I keep business cards in the bag. Reminder. Take out if bag next trip. The device was ok historically, but if I am going to bother with pulling it out, I might as well just get the laptop fired up or use the qwerty board on my other devices.

Sony Mylo - I have written about the Mylo before. Funny how it looks like the Ocean? Except no phone capabilities, and no upslide to complement the side slide. I topped up my Skype out and set up a Skype In account because I thought in Europe there would be hotspots everywhere. In fact, there were hotspots, at around $.36 a minute or $50 a day. What a disappointment. I thought I would come back with a great use case for the Mylo and it didn't happen. On the other hand, if I were in our office in London and had our own network, it would have been infinitely more affordable that using my cell phones. Next time.

The Upstage - What an awesome music phone. I can't get the Flip thing figured out. Apart from the device however, what I found intriguing is that Europeans like to say how far the US is behind Europe in mobile. In fact the media capabilities, LBS capabilites, and quality of service of Sprint and Verizon are insane. If you use some of their advanced technologies, I can't imagine that there are superior services in Europe. Now that could be my North American ignorance, but using my super fancy quad band phone on a smoking hot 3G network didn't strike me as anywhere near as fast as the data rates on US 3G CDMA. This wasn't a benchmark test and it was more my opinion, but I have to say next time I will be trying to test it more aggressively, like actually using the video calling capability.

Samsung A707 - This is my standard demo phone. Not too fancy, not too constrained although it is a 3G device. I have been using this to demo video primarily.

Nokia N73 - I have a couple of demos on this device, primarily around Flash. I generally shun Series 60 devices for demos as I think it deviates to far from where the consumer market is in terms of feature set and price. That said it is certainly a nifty phone on par with any of the high end phones I have used. I am more bought into the Symbian UIQ platform but it feels pretty close.

P990i - I love this device. It is my most favorite ever. In Europe I was able to see the nifty little 3G icon light up for the first time. That was cool.

Moto Q - I demo Windows Mobile on this. If I carried a Blackberrytreoqblackjack, I am pretty certain that this is the one I would carry.

PSP - I love this device. It isn't pictured because it was in the process of filling itself up with movies from my Tivo. Isn't that fricking cool? I can't wait until they fix the keyboard missing thing.

Marc Andreessen Blog & GoMo News

Over this last weekend I was turned on to two new blogs that I want to pass on. First, Marc Andreessen from web browser fame started a blog. It is a great collection of posts about technology, VCs and personal productivity. I'd say it is a definite subscribe given the quality of his first several posts.

The second one is GoMo News which describes itself as Edgy Wireless News. Debi Jones turned me onto it during a conversation where I lamented the shortage of good wireless blogs, or rather new voices. There are in fact a good number of mobile bloggers ala the Mobile Carnival ring, but it seems like there aren't a whole lot of new faces posting these days. Maybe they are working on companies...In any case GoMo looks promising as they are kind of irreverent and we even got singled out as a potential bubble company. Thanks guys!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Europe

Europe was a blast. It was a really busy trip and I had a bad time with jet lag. The purpose of the trip was all business development (carriers, offdeck, community sites). We arrived in London, which was 40 degrees and raining the day we arrived. Glad it was almost summer, I can't imagine what winter is like. ;-)

Our meetings went well and I only have a couple of observations about London. First, the US dollar is in a really sad shape. The last time I had been to London was 3 1/2 years ago and I was blown away by how expensive everything was. I guess those deficits in the US aren't helping.

Second, WIFI is a joke. By that I mean that it was either a. obscenely expensive, or b. it was metered by the minute. Yes by the minute. I guess in some ways that makes sense but for something that probably doesn't have any variable cost it seemed like a big joke.

Third, I love Carphone Warehouse. What a great concept/store. Their selection was amazing and their ubiquity was impressive. I am excited to see what they do with Best Buy over here in the US.

Fourth, transportation in and around London is a pain. Granted transportation is amazing, but to get from one meeting to the next seemed to consume around twice the time that you spend in NYC doing similar things. It could be how we planned things out.

One really funny story. Right after we get to London, we showered, changed and headed to the Express. As the train pulled up, the car that stopped in front of us had a familiar face. It was Tasso Roumeliotis from Wavemarket. Now the odds that a couple guys from the west coast, who happen to work in mobile, happened to be in London at the same time, and just so happened to be on the same train, which just happened to deposit us right in front of each other was beyond comprehension. In any case it afforded us some time to catch up, compare notes and chat. They have been doing some good things with their Kid Finder application and it was good to hear that they are doing well.

In addition to the strictly business aspects of the trip I got to spend a little time with Russell Buckley from Admob who is one of the bloggers at Mob Happy.

London was a bookend on both sides of the trip and in the middle we took some of the exploding Southwest style budget airlines in Europe to Germany for meetings in Dusseldorf and Bonn. I had been to Germany back in 1997 in Munich and really liked it at the time. This time I truly fell in love with Germany. The weather was beautiful and the scenery in the Rhineland reminded me of the Pacific Northwest in summer, or something like North Carolina. Everything was very organized and clean and people spoke a lot more English than I recall.

When I returned home I had some observations about differences in the US and European market in terms of wireless coverage and services but I think I am going to hold off on that editorial until after my next trip when I have more data.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Where is Waldo?

Sometime approximately 24 hours ago I was walking through the park adjacent to Buckingham Palace. I had a bit of the jet lag sleep issue and thought a brisk walk would do me some good. Fast forward. Train to Heathrow. Pass out in Admirals Club. Run to plane. Pass out on plane. Land at JFK. Work in Admirals Club. Rush to plane. Board plane. And then the nightmare starts.

We push out and proceed to spend the next four hours touring the airport. Apparently there was some horrible thunderstorms which of course there was no evidence of at JFK. Strange. After four hours, and I began to complain loudly at two hours, they cancel our flight. Having figured as much, I was one of the first of the plane to rebook for tomorrow. Ouch, nothing until 1 PM. LA? Yes, run to gate there is one last one out. Get in plane. Plane pushes out. And we wait. Again. At least I have my EVDO phone and the laptop and they have a bit more tolerance of us tired and angry fliers. Someone said Bush flew in and did this. Seems possible but frankly all I want to do is get in my own bed. Europe was great. Recap later.

Monday, May 28, 2007

London Calling

I am in Boston about to hope on a plane to London. This week includes trips to London, Dusseldorf and Bonn. Should be busy. I think it's been 3 1/2 years since I have been to Europe so it's definitely overdue. Trip report later. I have a feeling that there will be more than a few trips to Europe this year...

Star Wars Recap


The Star Wars convention was awesome. For my son Tate it was a superbowl of activities. We traveled to Los Angeles via the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner. Once we arrived in LA we tool the Metro Red Line Subway, which was his first subway trip and in his opinion the best part of the whole day. At 7th street we switched to the Blue Line which deposited us at the LA Convention center. There we found the oddest collection of freaks and nerds ever to be brought together in my lifetime. I think if you could have rounded up all the Storm Troopers alone you may have had a regiment of several thousand ready to attack the rebels.

The convention was broken up into a commercial area where you could buy just about anything you wanted, a fan hall with things like Jedi training classes and then a variety of meeting rooms and other stuff. We really just spent out time in the commercial and fan hall as well as getting pictures with just about every character you can imagine. Here Tate is with his Jedi outfit and a Storm Trooper helmet which might be a good birthday present in the next couple of months…

Friday, May 25, 2007

Star Wars Anniversary

Tate and I are off to the Star Wars convention today to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the release of Star Wars. Nerd pictures to follow shortly...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Unintended Consequences

It was great to hear from my many friends and acquaintances when we announced our Series B round. It's almost funny when you realize who follows what you are doing and are kind enough to reach out and say congratulations. What wasn't as exciting were the avalanche of unsolicited calls from service providers and salespeople for products we don't really need. It is as if there is a wire that comes out and there is an army of people who wait to see where money is flowing and they are waiting to reach into the river to take a swipe at the fish, er money.

As someone who does a lot of business development and sales, I can totally appreciate the need to reach out to people you don't know and to reach out to people who you think might need your service or product. Where I have a problem, is in the lack of qualification of a prospect. Something on the order of 80% of the solicitations have no relevance to what we do in any way shape or form. Accountants? Ok, that makes sense. Banks? Check. Lead generation services? Not exactly.

In addition to the really bad hit rate, which I think speaks to some laziness on the part of the sales professional or telemarketer, is the method of reaching us. We have a generic phone number that goes into an IPPBX and I get an email with the message attached. When I get a chance I play those messages. Some people are slightly more crafty and they go to our website and look up our email and send a direct email to either Shawn, myself, or both of us. Ok, a little more effort.

The really smart ones actually do a little bit more homework. In my case that would be finding my blog. Once they have found my blog, if they actually look around and read some stuff they will find that I put my cell phone number on here. The very small handful of sales professionals who did this managed to get me on the phone last week. While I didn't welcome the unsolicited interruption, I did in fact either channel those people to the right person or told them there wasn't a need for their product, albeit as quickly as possible. Hats off to the resourceful.

CNN Center


DSC00007.JPG
Originally uploaded by brikmaster.
There was this mural at CNN Center in Atlanta I saw this morning while walking around. This particular piece had a number of news terms on a wall. I thought that given the rise in user generated video, this particular segment 'Raw Video In The System" had a funny double meaning as the old and new media worlds collide.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Blogging Birthday - 3 Years and counting

As of today, I have been blogging pretty regularly for 3 years. Back in 2004 when I started I don't think I imagined I would keep doing this. Now, 882 posts later, I find it more enjoyable than ever although my ability to move to a long form of narrative has never materialized. For those who keep tabs on me through this vehicle, thanks for the kind comments and your continued interest.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

We raised a $12 million Series B

The press release is here. We are extremely excited to be working with Venrock. They are a firm with a great tradition of working with entrepreneurs to create great companies. We had met them when we were out raising our Series A, and are glad that we are now in business with them as we move forward in a growth period of our company.

We are also excited to have our previous investors, Avalon and Masthead, involved in our Series B as well. Both firms have been great supporters of ours and I'd like to send my thanks out to the various partners at each firm. We really appreciate their insight, support, and continued involvement in the building of our company.

Without the great team we have built, we wouldn't be able to accomplish the things we have so far, nor would we be able to deliver on the vision we have going forward. A big thanks to our team for all their hardwork and dedication. We expect to do big things in the coming year.

We started this company with the intent to work closely with the carriers to develop a category of applications and to work to build this category in unison with them. We appreciate the support we have had from all of our carrier partners so far and look forward to delivering on the promise of an exciting revolution in mobile data applications.

Most important to me though, has been the support of my wife and my kids. My wife has been a world class startup wife, raising our kids, running the house, and continuing to work 75% time as an attorney. I can't thank her enough for her belief in what we are doing and her strength in helping to make that a reality. Without her, none of this would have been possible.

We have a lot of exciting announcements coming very quickly and we look forward to sharing the news as it becomes available.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Location Free P990 Not Available in US

I had someone post a comment to my Location Free post and they asked whether or not the Location Free software for the P990 I found worked in the US. In fact it doesn't. I was pretty bummed and I don't understand why it doesn't. Sony customer service confirmed that it doesn't work and didn't have a release date.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Google History

Have you checked out Google history? You should. It is awesome, and brilliant and scary, all at the same time. If you have read my blog before and wondered about my posts on Attention, or went and read some Goldhaber stuff, or checked out Atten.tv, and you still find that this topic is a bit academic or difficult to grok, then I suggest you go check out Google History.

A week or two ago, I read a post about Google history and quickly signed up and allowed the logging of all my data in a variety of categories. Then I forgot about it, much the same way I keep my Attention recorder running on my browser (By the way...When is Root.net going to fix their security certificate? Very disappointing, but that is another post...).

Earlier this week I went in to see what was in my Google history goodie bag. The main page is a chronological listing of all the pages I clicked on from now going backwards. I have this in Root.net as well but I get to block out certain domains I may not want to record (things like ego surfing my site statistics). Not here, everything gets recorded. Not really a problem, but still kind of freaky when you sit down and think about it and then multiply me by the population of the web world who uses Google. I am creeping you out yet?

I can then slice it more finely by looking at just news, or images or videos etc. especially for Google related services. Not too shabby.

I then click on trends which slices out the top queries, top sites, and top clicks. Are you still wondering why they are making so much money in advertising? Hold on there is more...I almost forgot to add you can slice that by week, month, all time etc.

My favorite part though, and where I think it all really comes together is the tab called interesting items. Here Google has determined other searches, pages, videos and gadgets that might be relevant to what I have been up to while surfing on the web. The list of pages is pretty impressive as we have been doing the fund raising exercise and the top 10 list for me includes nine venture firms and a buyout firm. Uncanny. I am curious though on how they rank them. Could it mean that the sum total of my interests (wireless, media, etc) when intersected with venture fund raising means that these are the best prospects for closing a round with those specific venture firms? Hard to say. In any event I was pretty surprised that there weren't fantasy football references or NFL draft results or other items which given the recent NFL draft would make the most sense. Maybe the algorithm is skewed?

In any case, if you have the slightest interest in Attention or wanting to understand the data you are throwing off when you mindlessly browse and search the web, I would certainly recommend that you check this service out. In any event, Google isn't the only company tracking this data (Yahoo, Doubleclick, AOL, etc.) and I think it is important we all be cognizant of the invisible transactions we are all generating behind the scenes with our web based actions. A final note is that I am not a Google hater or fearer as I know some are. I use Blogger, Google, Gmail, Google Apps and occasionally Google Maps. I get that the price of the services I am using are a value exchange that they need to offset by profiling me in great deal to yield high advertising returns. I would however like for Google to give me the option to keep my own copy of all the data they are keeping on me in the event that I want to use it for my own benefit somewhere down the road. You know, like when I am trying to decide which venture firms I should call on first, or which ones I should cross off the list. :-)