Friday, 28 September 2007

RE: Pioneer Press to Launch ‘e-paper’

Every couple of years, the idea of delivering a frozen PDF instead of a living, breathing website hits my radar 1. This is the first time it hit’s this close to home.

“Presumably, you’ll now be able to pay a premium to have a format that less searchable, doesn’t get corrected or updated the same way a normal paper doesn’t and ultimately cannot be linked to or aggregated.”- Aaron Landry

At best, this effort is a distraction from their two other delivery channels – paper, This middle ground is just silly.For everyone over at the Pioneer Press, could you something, anything by Jeff Jarvis or Doc Searls. Oh, and maybe you’ve heard that NYTimes has dropped their paywall.1. I remember an HP project that would automatically print out your newspaper on your home inkjet every morning.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

RE: What is the next podcast brand?

“…there’s no strong brand in podcasting – except for iTunes. And iTunes doesn’t really care about podcasting. Which means there’s an opportunity there. The podcast format is still brilliant…” – Peter Van Dijck

I think the first mistake made in podcast-land is considering it something different. Different than a blog, different than radio, different than video, different than an mp3 file, different than a conversation. That made the world very small, lame, and self-defeating. ‘Podcast’ rides atop all those things.

Hell, technically, all you have to do is make use of the ‘enclosure’ tag to be a podcast. Yes, as a communication form, the best ones have their own aesthetic and aren’t just ‘time-shifted’. But the idea of a podcast directory is as unmaintainable as a locked iPhone.

The Twittergram work I did a while back reminded me of the podcast-client that I’d like to see. It’s on the list of things to revisit after I launch this other app. Why? Cause it rides atop.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007 = Facebook + Bloglines

Ben just pointed me to another entry in the social feed space.

“Wouldn’t it be nice to know which feeds your friends subscribe to? Shouldn’t you be able to find new feeds by topic? Wouldn’t it be cool if you could browse feeds related to your subscriptions? Shouldn’t you be able to share things that you find in your reader without clogging up your friend’s email? How great would it be if your reader could automatically point you towards other interesting, like-minded people?”

Also, reading comments inline is nice.

As you can tell from the above intro from founder, Udi, this is the closest I’ve seen to the project I’m working on 1, so I’m real happy to see forward progress made elsewhere in feed land.

Marshall Kirkpatrick’s Analysis:

“The only shortcomings I’ve seen so far are the absence of offline and mobile modes, weaker analytics than Google Reader offers and a limit of 500 feeds by OPML import. Those problems are big enough that I’m not likely to use FeedEachOther.”

Those aren’t showstoppers for me – and hey, this is day 1. I just don’t think FeedEachOther is intended me, Marshall, or anyone with a serious feed problem. Walking through the intro screencasts it definitely feels like a Facebook + Bloglines (or Google Reader + Orkut if you believe the rumors), with corresponding RSS Feed 101 language and tone.

I do have 1,223,948,234,981 invites remaining, so you can expect one soon.

Based on the further comments @ ReadWriteWeb, it looks like FEO has been having some issues supporting the number of people that want to check out the service. I think that hurts everyone – the service provider and the people that want to use the site. For free services, there are only a few ways to minimize the bad experience. Unfortunately, throwing up a 500 is probably the easiest way to do it.

1. While my perspective may be skewed – 10 minutes from now feeds will be ubiquitious and we need more and better tools than we have today to help us stop drinking from the firehose. That’s just one reporters opinion.

Monday, 24 September 2007

You’re Worth $294.12

“I WANT to be enthused about things like Myspace, and Facebook, and Second Life, and iLike…In every case, I feel like people are blindly giving away value, and not getting enough in return. What do you get from these websites that you can’t get on your own? What do they do for you that you can’t do for yourself? The real purpose of all of them seems… to me, to be convincing people to give up personal information so that information can be sold to businesses, or otherwise used to market products. They are SPAM factories.” – Rusty Dubose

Rumor has it that Microsoft is about to purchase 5% of Facebook for $500 million.

Let’s put those numbers against the stats on Wikipedia’s Facebook page:

($500,000 * 20) / 34,000,000 active members = $294.11764 / active member.

No, I don’t think most “active members” get $300 of “free” value out of Facebook, MySpace, or Pownce.

Maybe LinkedIn….more likely Twitter.

The free blog their cousin set up for them on the server in his basement – absolutely.

Twin Cities Cool. Not Just Cause It’s Autumn

When we moved from Chicago almost 5 years ago, I got a lot of snickers and jeers from my co-workers. Completely understandable given that Chicago sees itself as the second city and all the reports of Mayor Daley trying to make it into NY without the bad parts.

It’s the quality of life that separates the Twin Cities from that cross-country rivalry. That’s continually highlighted in the recent WSJ article: The Twin Cities Hit ‘Critical Coolness’.

The quote, “It’s such a get-out-there and do something culture,” reminds me of Rex‘s MSP vs SEA comparison (can’t find the like right now) – everyone in MSP has a side project.

UPDATE: Rex’s comment reminded me that MSP has far more in common with PDX and SEA than ORD. But if you’ve spent anytime in the PNW you already know that. There’s been times that I’ve wondered if there’s some sorta high-speed tunnel between MSP and PDX.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Twitter Bars?

I saw these two tweets side-by-side over the weekend. I read them fast and thought that spin and Calacanis were talking about the same product. It’s a floor cleaner, it’s a desert topping, it’s a publishing channel, it’s a weight loss supplement.


One of the longer term (i.e. not this year) projects around the house is the basement. Currently, it’s comfortable place to hide from a storm, but not more time than that.

Yesterday we were at IKEA and noticed 2nds of their floating floor are 1/2 off.

After brunch this morning we picked up 25 boxes – 825lbs – of it. To my surprise the Cruiser pulled through. More than I can say for IKEA’s flat carts.

Feel free to start a long bet on how long after the new year it gets installed. 🙂

We Met at a Dunn Bros – But Not the Same Dunn Bros

“We met at Starbucks. Not at the same Starbucks but we saw each other at different Starbucks across the street from each other.” – Meg Swan, Best in Show

Meeting for coffee at a Dunn Bros. on University this afternoon and just got the call that there’s more than one. We each chose a different one.

Not the first time this has happened this summer (there are also 2 on Washington). They should start putting store numbers on the doors or we should meet at more unique locations – like; Kopplin’s, J & S Bean Factory, 1-on-1, CRC.

Let’s both remember next time. Thanks. 🙂

Saturday, 22 September 2007


Despite not having written in a while, I’ve gotten some excellent comments on the look of this site.

“…I don’t know if that’s artsy or what, but I wasn’t all that impressed.”

and the more concise:

“conspicously vacant”

Perhaps had the same problem 😉

Either way, this site’s role has changed, and it needs to do more than it did when I refreshed it last.

Also, last week kicked off the full kitchen remodel here at HQ. In an effort to minimize stress, anxiety, and any jinxes, I’m holding off writing about it until it’s over.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

The Power of Vendor/Gems

Right now, I’m heavily reliant on an unsupported (if not completely abandoned) ruby gem library. Historically, I’ve just gem install bizarro-gem and moved on.

A couple of issues have changed my perspective:

  • My host, textdrive, doesn’t allow installing bizarro gems on their shared servers and I’ve had difficulty freezing them, so I worked around the desired functionality.
  • I needed to make some modification to the library. Not easy to do if it’s installed system wide.

Thankfully, I found Chris Wanstrath’s Vendor Everything , his post makes it trivial to freeze gems in a reliable, testable, hackable way.

The core of Chris’s technique is added this line to your block:
config.load_paths += Dir["#{RAILS_ROOT}/vendor/gems/**"].map do |dir| = "#{dir}/lib") ? lib : dir

And unpack the required gems into vendor/gems

With that, I was able to make the necessary modifications and make a more portable app.

Thanks Chris.