Monday, April 30, 2007

Steampunk Mouse

Adam from my office sent me this link to a real Steampunk mouse. Check it out here.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Dow Jones Wireless Innovations

Thanks for having us out to present at Wireless Innovations. The parts of the conference I saw and participated in were excellent and I thought they brought together a great crowd. My personal highlights were getting to hang a bit with Sam Altman from Loopt, watching the captivating CEO of Spark Parking Cooper Marcus (we shared a room - use his service!) and especially getting to meet and spend a chunk of time with Andrew Graham CEO of Bones In Motion, my favorite LBS application.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Intercasting Speaking

Tomorrow I will be speaking at the Dow Jones Wireless Innovations, providing a company overview in the LBS track. The same day Shawn will be speaking at the EconSM event in Los Angeles.

Attention Article on Cnet

I was quoted in an article on here at Cnet. I love this part of the title, "an eerie sport".

Monday, April 23, 2007

Location Free Software for the P990.

I did my monthly check for the P990 Location Free player last night around 230 AM and was happy to see that it was finally available. I have been waiting for something like 7 months. I downloaded the SIS and later this AM did the install. Registering my service with the Location Free server took all morning and I was unable to do it as I kept getting a refused to register message from the media server. Grrr. I sent an email to customer support to see if my model of the Location Free device is in fact supported. I am guessing since I have one of the early models they may not support it and I may have to get a new device which is looking like a $199 purchase.

Mowser - Russ is back

When I first started blogging and reading blogs 3 years ago, the strongest voice in mobile was Russ Beattie. Russ wrote great posts that were very thoughtful and comprehensive. Whether or not you always agreed with him was another story. ;-)

I struck up an online friendship with Russ and have kept in touch with him over the last year or so of blogging silence.

Last week he unveiled his new project Mowser which is a fresh take on mobile browsing, i.e. making websites readable on phones. The even better news is that he is keeping a company blog that you can find here.

It will be great to see what he comes up with in terms of the business and it will be extremely fun to see how he tempers his great editorial now that he is blogging in the context of a business. Best of luck to him, now go subscribe and try his product!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Personal Exploitation

When I was in New York this week I had lunch with one of our company advisors who was one of the pioneers in interactive advertising. We were talking at length about user generated content, fame, and personal exploitation. My thesis is that there are two things driving the current generations expressive behavior, 1. The idea that entertainment requires a persons direct involvement to make it personal and worthwhile and 2. A desire for fame or status.

We talked around the topic a bit and he said something to the effect that it is fascinating that people both appear driven to and desirous of exploiting themselves. That is, they either don't understand or in fact don't mind exploiting themselves if they gain some kind of recognition, fame or notoriety. I don't like to think of it that way necessarily but I think a lot rings true to those words. I brought up the Jackass films and he said that although that was exploitation, it was brilliant and what we are seeing is a broad commonness to self exploitation on some of these websites. It was an interesting talk.

That evening as I sat in my hotel in Boston, I sat dumbstruck as I watched the footage broadcast by NBC of the Virginia Tech killer. I couldn't believe that NBC felt compelled to release something that not only provided no real value or insight, but also at some level validated the actions of the killer, at least in the eyes of others who would pursue similar actions in the future.

One of the most interesting things about user generated/edge of the network/consumer media is the potential for media that originates outside of the center of the network to be able to harness the massive reach and distribution of mainstream media. At it's best you have the Adam Stacy subway bombing pictures which provided a haunting and visceral image of news as it happens, at it's worst it is a news organization taking advantage of it's selection by a killer to broadcast his rants and insanity. I have great respect for NBC Universal as a company and I can only hope in the future that they make the decision to avoid these sorts of missteps.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


April 15 2007 056
Originally uploaded by brikmaster.
I thought this was a pretty cool picture. Tate wanted to keep his "wormy" friend out of the garden but we ultimately convinced him to let the worm snack away on the soil.


For the last three or four years, Tate and I have planted a garden around Mother's Day which we would take care of over the summer and enjoy the tasty vegetables as the reward for our work. Interestingly, gardening can both be a therapeutic experience as well as a proxy for your state of mind. More on that later.

Over the years I have tried to focus on planting things I particularly enjoy or things that cost a lot in the store. The best example of that for me has been Heirloom tomato's. I started with a couple and I think that last year I was up to seven varietals. Last year the startup, but more importantly the young children took a toll and I was unable to keep up with the garden. In years past, the morning watering and weekend trimming sessions were a part of my summer ritual which I both love and missed last year. For some reason the combination of things was bad for my garden. By mid summer I had the most amazing overgrown garden you can imagine. Things were rotting on the vine beneath the overgrowth.

This year as a family we resolved to pitch in together and, frankly the little ones just continue to get easier(if we could just get them to stop picking on each other). Jessica took a big role this year and really helped to plan out the whole garden in a thoughtful and methodical way. The three of us spent a good chunk of yesterday doing the initial planting which was a real blast. I decided to scale back my "quest for the perfect tomato" this year and am giving it a go with three varietals (Purple Cherokee, Mortgage Lifter, and Brandywine). The coastal coolness just doesn't get the right amount of flavor development that you get in hotter climates. I am hoping that I can get some good combination of soil treatment and aggressive sucker trimming to make an inprovement over the last couple of years. But even if mine aren't as good as other areas, I was planting in shorts while parts of the country were in a snowstorm. Everything is relative. At any rate, pictures here and on my Flickr page.

Planet Earth

A couple of weeks ago I was hiking with a friend Mike Blake and our respective children in the canyon behind their home. While talking about the various shows we were each watching he told m about the Planet Earth HD series on Discovery. It sounded really interesting so I set it up for my Tivo subscriptions on my HDDVR. The really cool thing they do is to run a bunch of old shows on Sunday night so it is really easy to get all the episodes.

The shows are thematic like, The Poles, The Deep Ocean, The Jungles and they cover some breathtaking scenery all in HD with a particular focus on the animals in each setting. This is the reason you have a big screen television (ok, that and football). I would highly recommend checking this out asap. The link to the website from Discovery is here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Zannel is a new mobile/web user generated content site. I don't usually say much about mobile stuff that is in related areas as us as I have a huge bias about the awesomeness of what we do. ;-)

However, in this case I have to make an exception. Zannel is founded by a bunch of former Infospace and Moviso guys. While checking the site out before they launched I submitted a picture of one of my many kids. It was I have to say an exceptional photo. You can see it from their homepage as it is a featured picture. My kid is the one who is knuckle deep...

Monday, April 09, 2007

Apple TV for families

Late at night several months ago I was scheming about taking a Mac Mini and turning it into a DVR. After a bit of research I decided that it just wasn't worth it and I ended up picking up my Tivo Series 2 box, which I use primarily to load up my PSP for long trips as well as to burn the occasional DVD.

With this meme out of my head I went on my merry way until the Apple TV launched. I read the gushing reviews as well as the criticism of the picture quality. I didn't really care but the noise was pretty loud. In our office we have the Mac guy. He loves Macs and carries on in the way the real die hard evangelists do when they speak of their technology the same way others speak of their religion.

For a week or two I kept looking at the technical specs on the Apple TV and I scratched my head. Why would I care? I was particularly perplexed by why I would want to buy content for Apple to show on my HDTV when I have a bunch of Tivo's and other devices that work just fine. One day when the noise was unbearable I decided to confront Mac Guy. Why would I buy an Apple TV?

His first argument was that it was a great way to leverage his insane home entertainment to listen to his itunes. Buzz. Not for me. Although I am a big music fan, I have yet to buy the mother of all surround sound systems for my house. The best audio equipment I have is a pretty sad little kitchen desktop unit with an iPod dock.

The next argument was that I could network the box with my computer at stream shows to the TV. Buzz. I have a Series 2 Tivo that can in concept do that although I don't ship movies around the house because of the war between Directv and Tivo. But anyway, you get the point.

The 3rd argument was that I could watch video blogs and other content that isn't available over pay per view. While not a buzz, I didn't see this as a big win. I was mildly intrigued by watching some videoblogs and the ability to watch Dora on demand or Power Rangers would make me a big hit with my kids.

The deal sealer for me was the following. I could rip my CDs, stick them on a hard drive and then stream them or store them on the Apple TV. When I consider the number of destroyed DVDs from fingerprints, bending or other physical abuse, the Apple TV is a cheap way to avoid that pain in the future. I strolled across the street and bought my little Apple TV box.

As all the gushing Apple fans continue to say, the UI is just amazing. You plug it in and it works. That's it. This is the difference between them and so many other companies.

So now that I have had one of these devices for a couple of weeks what do I really use it for, what do I like, and what do I dislike?

I use the Apple TV for three things. I do rip DVDs and store them on the hard drive. It works like a charm. I have become a fan of some of the videoblogs that I never could get into when I am looking at them on my laptop but on a 42 HDTV I am sold. Three, the feature that everyone in my family loves, is the photo screen saver that shows pictures from the last five years in a random fashion. Seriously, this alone is worth the price and I venture if you were to see this with your picture collection you would buy one for each TV in the house.

As far as likes, I really like that I can watch a variety of programming that I could never get into on my laptop. I will do a post soon about my favorites but know that this really gives power to videoblogs. I like the UI and I like the small size.

Dislikes? The video quality on certain clips does blow, especially flash clips. The size of the hard drive is way too small but with the help of a hacker you can beef it up for a pretty low price.

All in all a big thumbs up. For families this is a no brainer AV life saver. My kids can watch pictures of themselves for up to a half an hour without a break.

While away at CTIA a couple of weeks ago, the annual eTech conference took place in San Diego, which I of course missed. One of the people unveiling a product there was Seth Goldstein who announced This site and software builds on some of the earlier attention work such as the badge on this blog from, and now has an alpha software client for the Mac that is sort of like a television screen that shows you the various pages that someone is viewing or has viewed while recording their attention with tools like the Attention recorder. The alpha is very alpha in my book and I am anxiously awaiting the full beta.

As mentioned in my previous post, I cleaned up the various widgets on my blog and switched to a new template. Over the weekend I realize that I forgot to include urchin analytical tracking and the badge that I have added now. I don't visit urchin as often as sitemeter but it is definitely another tool that I spend time with when trying to understand my audience or accidental visitors.

If blogging is a fame based or attention seeking medium, then one of the critical pieces to measure the effectiveness is the inclusion of analytical tools to document what is happening as well as tools to share that data with others. I personally like the root badge as it is a way to share at a high level, your activity with others, to the degree you feel comfortable. The development of the viewer (called the Attentron), is a vivid way to demonstrate that aggregate data in a more meaningful way. I have no doubt that this is yet another step in the development of rich tools that will form around the concept of attention going forward.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Spring Cleaning

If you have been here before more than a couple of times, you may have noticed I cleaned up my blog. Three things happened to make this so. 1. I am approaching my 3rd anniversary of blogging next month and it seemed like a good time for a change, considering I have been using the same template for over 1000 days. 2. I really wanted to see what you can do with the new Blogger infrastructure (I am a bit of a creature of habit and if I were to start all over again today I would look long and hard at six apart and word press) 3. Some guy who writes a post about good blog design singled me out as an example of widgets and links gone bad.

The last one cracked me up alot. I saw the link sometime around 6 months ago and I finally felt like I should address his holding me out as a junkyard dog of blogging. When I find the link I will post it. Technorati couldn't help me tonight to find it.

So, the new Blogger templates...Very nice. I like the ease of adding javascript/html. No more scanning a template. This is a big reason I didn't get rid of things. Other than being lazy, it felt like a big risky undertaking. No more. Add a piece/delete a piece fairly easy.

Aesthetically I think the new look is much cleaner as well. Nice and structured. A little plain but I am sure I can fix that with some thought.

As for widgets and add ons other than archives, profile and blogroll, I added three things. 1. A cool Flickr flash badge. Very tricky. My friends and family mostly come to my blog to go to the pictures so I hope they like the improvement. 2. My ad words. I am getting my first check. Woot! Don't spend that $100 too fast. Hey can you guys please click on my ads sometime? I guess I deserve that since I don't click on yours. 3. Sitemeter tracker. Given the low volume of comments on my blog, if I didn't have the stats to secretly track you, I don't think I could carry on with my blogging.

So there it is. Hopefully I will post a similar post in 3 years when I go to the immersive virtual reality template from Google, but who knows. I will be adding more blog junk shortly so enjoy the Spartan look while it lasts.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Difference Engine

At the beginning of the year one of my silent resolutions was to read a book of fiction each month. I read a ton but over time I have found that I read fiction less and less. For better or worse, I decided to complete my entire reading of everything written by William Gibson, by reading The Difference Engine which he co-authored with Bruce Sterling.

The premise of the book is that Charles Babbage's inventions (The difference engine and the analytical engine) were actually built in the early 1800s and accelerated the computer revolution by over 100 years.

I LOVED the premise and I think I would have been more excited by the book had it dwelled more on the historical implications in an overt fashion. That said, it was a good read even though I did it in bursts over a month or two. It is certainly not my favorite Gibson book (Neuromancer, Burning Chrome, Pattern Recognition) but if you are interested in possible historical alternatives I would say it is time well spent.

Adware? Spyware? Paying Attention

With my Firefox browser I have been running the Attention Recorder for almost nine months and have recorded almost 65,000 clicks. This doesn't include my home computer usage, but it is a pretty impressive number. I continue to noodle over the value of this data but one recurring value is my ability to track spyware when new delivery vehicles pop up. This weeks spyware offender is Thanks to the Root badge on my blog I realized that my number one most visited site has been Funny though, I don't ever recall seeing that site. Add to blocklist for browser cookies. Delete from attention recorder. Delete all 7 of the cookies from that domain.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

San Diego Breweries

San Diego isn't a place that I think many people would think of when they talk about craft beers or micro brews. When I think of those words I think of Seattle and Red Hook, Pyramid and others. In fact though, San Diego has a great tradition and has some outstanding beers including beers from Ballast Point, Port Brewing and Stone Brewing.

A couple of weeks back a friend of ours invited us to a dinner gathering of a local slow foods group that was being held at Stone Brewery in Escondido. I can appreciate the style of beer produced by Stone, which is really hoppy. Think IPA on steroids. Not my thing as I prefer lagers, pilsners and similar beers, but I get why some people really like that style. I had heard that their brewery was amazing and that it was a must visit. I wasn't sure what it would be like having taken tours from great macro breweries like Rainer and Henry Weinhard's to prestigious craft brewer Unibroue in Montreal.

The Stone facility was simply amazing. This was only outdone by the menu that is out of this world. I happened to miss the tour of the brewing areas but I will certainly be back as soon as I get a chance. If you are in San Diego or visit San Diego, add Stone to your itinerary. How can you not visit a place that makes the Arrogant Bastard Ale?

MR 40

Michael Robertson, who many of his friends refer to as MR, had his 40th birthday party at his ranch east of San Diego this last weekend. It was a complete blast. My pics can be seen on my Flickr page from the pictures below. Do click on the images to read some of the comments and notes. On Saturday I went for a run (which was brutal given the hilly terrain), played tennis with a former co-worker and then spent 4 hours playing paintball with a motley crew of executives and other friends of Michael. The paintball games were certainly a highlight for me as I was simply put, a killing machine. I can't recall a time recently where I felt like a child and just literally played all day. It was a really good time. For those MP3.comers who read my blog Michael and Michelle's birthday is tomorrow so send them a birthday hello.