Wednesday, 28 February 2007

May 4th: Too Much Joy’s First Show in 10 Years

True to their word, Too Much Joy never broke up – they just stopped having gigs. Until now.

Friday, May 4th
The Knitting Factory
74 Leonard Street
New York, NY

“It’s all ages. TMJ will be playing as a 5-piece, as both Sandy Smallens and William Wittman will be joining the celebration of drummer Tommy Vinton’s retirement from the NYPD after 20 years on the beat.”

Congrats to Sandy, William, Tim, Jay and especially Tommy.

Unsocial Networks

The Head Lemur digs into Ning’s terms of service (similar to Flickr’s and YouTube’s, et. al) highlighting the problem: in exchange for free services “members” grant rights to their stuff to promote the “network”.

“None of these sites are created for the people. These are, to the last picture, file, and pixel solely created as businesses to make money for the plantation owners….People flock to these things like the little kid in the room shoveling horseshit, and exclaiming, “There HAS to be a PONY Here!!”

Sorry boys and girls, No Pony.
It is just another room filled with shit. They place ads around your stuff, and deliver eyeballs to advertisers in the electronic version of valpack coupons and junk mail.” – The Head Lemur

I don’t think it’s a fair trade either – it assumes that my stuff isn’t valuable in it’s own right unless it’s wrapped in AdSense. I wonder what one of these “social networks” would look like that places a higher value on their members’ stuff than on monetization.

Initial thoughts:

  • Members pay a non-trivial amount for access
  • Members can import, remove, and export all of their stuff easily
  • Members can kill their account easily – say, by not paying
  • The network considers members’ stuff private and won’t use it for self-promotion

From that list, I’m thinking BaseCamp or Joyent Connector are the closest things we’ve got.

Mike @ TechDirt says:

“Peer production only works when it creates value for the ‘peers’ involved. When you increase value in one place, there will always be somewhere else where that value can be captured monetarily….The mistake is thinking that just because peer production doesn’t involve direct payments that the overall value isn’t increased and that there isn’t a way to later capture that value monetarily.”

Yes, but, AdSense (and advertising in general) is an admission that the value is misunderstood.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007 10:54:50 AM

Yesterday’s travels dropped me in the middle of the snow storm expected in Mpls tomorrow or Friday. It’s a heavy, steady snowfall. A couple inches so far this morning.

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Ratings, Scores, Context and Sneezing

A while back, I watched Never Been Thawed a 90-minute, independent, very comprehensive, mockumentary. There was a lot going on in the movie. Lots of different story lines and highly-developed character relationships. More so than I’ve seen in many a documentary (the non-mocking kind). No, NBT isn’t a Spinal Tap or a Best In Show, but it is a good effort in that direction by a lesser known cast.

Now bounce all that off your taste and everything else you know about me. Do you think you’ll like the movie? Do you even have enough information to say?

The problem is single-attribute rating/ranking/tagging systems. They provide only the most basic value – and always with a caveat. Case in point – searching the web for any single keyword rarely provides anything useful.

Tim’s rethinking his wine rating system – maybe something more detailed albeit less glance-able.

Over the weekend, I found the ‘Origins’ wine label on store shelves – Temparnillo, Malbec, (2 of my favorites) and other varietals from around the world – all under the same label. On the back, 3 scales indicate where a specific varietal falls on the flavor scale. Three-times the information than a single score.

While even 3 scales can’t replace the wealth of information found in personal recommendations, it’s more than an arbitrary number or letter. But, what were the biases and preferences of the person that declared where a specific wine fell on each scale?

In nearly each episode of Winecast, Tim discloses his preference for “fruit-forward” wines. If Tim and I share the same definition of “fruit-forward”, I have some context for determining if a ranking of ’83’ is something I’ll like or dislike. If I don’t know if we share the same definition – I pick up that specific wine and see if my tasting matches his. And repeat.

All this metadata is why recommendations from someone you know really well is far more valuable and those from Amazon, Netflix, etc just aren’t.

Yes, this is word-of-mouth, and yes, we are all doing this today when we IM a YouTube link. There’s got to be a better place to sneeze.

How To Install MacPorts, Apache2, Rails, MySql, Mongrel, and Subversion on an Intel Mac

Now that I’m just about ready to deploy my first rails app, I thought I’d get the deployment environment set up rock solid on both the production and the development machines (one Mac Mini and one MacBookPro).

Like many other tutorials on this same subject, your mileage may vary. In fact I’m writing this now, because mine did. After stalling out in many of the tutorials all different places, this is what worked for me.

  1. Download and install MacPorts (used to be DarwinPorts)
  2. Open up a terminal and type:
    sudo port selfupdate
    making sure everything is the way it should be.
    If you’re like me, you get port: command not found in return.
  3. I fixed this by opening up .bash_profile in a text editor (Textmate: mate ~/.bash_profile) and adding the line
    export PATH=/opt/local/bin:$PATH
  4. Next download and install MySQL5
    I grabbed the binary from the bottom of the MySQL 5 download page. It comes with a System Preference Pane and checkbox for auto-startup. I’m using CocoaSQL for admin.
  5. Change the MySQL5 root password

    /opt/local/lib/mysql5/bin/mysqladmin -u root password 'new-password'
    /opt/local/lib/mysql5/bin/mysqladmin -u root -h [HOSTNAME] password 'new-password'
  6. Next load up the Apache2 package
    sudo port install apache2
    (this takes a while)
  7. sudo launchctl load -w /Library/LaunchDaemons/org.macports.apache2.plist to launch Apache2 on startup. I’ve disabled Apple’s default Web Sharing in the System Preferences.
  8. Create an initial http.conf file
    cd /opt/local/apache2/conf
    sudo cp httpd.conf.sample httpd.conf
  9. Start up Apache2
    sudo /opt/local/apache2/bin/apachectl -k start
  10. Load up http://localhost. It should say “It works!”

  11. sudo port install fcgi
    sudo port install lighttpd +ssl
    sudo port install mod_fastcgi
  12. Next load up Subversion package with the mod_dav_svn for Apache2
    sudo port install subversion +mod_dav_svn +tools
  13. Next load up Ruby, RubyGems, Termios, RB-MySQL5 Bridge, and ImageMagick Packages
    sudo port install ruby
    sudo port install rb-rubygems
    sudo port install rb-termios
    sudo port install rb-fcgi
    sudo port install rb-mysql (I had some errors on this one.)
    sudo port install imagemagick
  14. Install a bunch of useful gems, like rails and capistrano.

    sudo gem install --include-dependencies rake
    sudo gem install --include-dependencies rails
    sudo gem install --include-dependencies termios
    sudo gem install --include-dependencies capistrano

    sudo gem install daemons gem_plugin mongrel mongrel_cluster --include-dependencies
    sudo gem install --include-dependencies mongrel
    sudo gem install --include-dependencies mongrel_cluster

    sudo gem install mysql --

    (thanks to d. robert adams for the last bit)
  15. Create a rails app
    rails testapp
  16. Connect the rails app to mongrel

    mongrel_rails cluster::configure -e development -p 8000 -a -N3 -c /RAILS/ROOT/OF/TESTAPP

Saturday, 24 February 2007

The Difference Between Yahoo & Google

From my perspective, sorting out the acquisitions of Yahoo and Google is pretty straight-forward.

Yahoo (list of Yahoo acquisitions) has always been about building a directory. ‘Tags’ are just another way to create a directory. From that perspective, purchasing HotJobs (directory of jobs), Flickr (directory of photos), Upcoming (directory of events), (directory of web pages), even WebJay (directory of music) makes total sense.

Google (list of Google acquisitions) has always been about measuring social gestures. Thinking about the purchase of Urchin & Measure Map (gestures within a site), Dodgeball & Jaiku (gestures within a place), Adscape (gestures within a video game), YouTube (gestures within video) from that perspective also makes total sense.

UPDATE 2 Aug 2007:
In other words, Yahoo is the class roster and Google is the yearbook.

UPDATE 9 Oct 2007:
Word is that Google just acquired Jaiku. Wondering if it will find the same fate as Dodgeball (acquired and forgotten about) or if Google has a plan to integrate the two services.

First Crack 96. Jeff Williamson on St. Paul’s Flat Earth Brewing

As Jeff Williamson, co-owner of St. Paul’s Flat Earth Brewing Co. awaits kegs to distribute the first batch of Flat Earth Pale Ale, he and I talk about;

  • Getting a microbrewery off the ground
  • How a new child changed his the direction of Flat Earth
  • Flat Earth’s place in Minnesota’s beer scene.

Listen to Jeff Williamson on St. Paul’s Flat Earth Brewery [16 min].

Thursday, 22 February 2007