Halloween Vlogfest 2005

Zadi from the Videobloggers Group has set up a fun event for anyone that wants to participate. Halloween Vlogfest 2005! All you need to do is make your video and tag it HalloweenVlogfest2005. With my two boys and their cousins, I’ve got alot of content coming in between now and Halloween night, so I imagine I will be posting my video later in the evening of October 31st. Visit Zadi’s site, or search for the tag on your favorite engine(s) and site back and enjoy!

Here is another serendipitous music video. This time, a really nice retail experience in the Back Bay area of Boston filmed while I was out for Paul Graham’s startupschool.org. Special Thanks to Mark Seelig @ Piano Forte for allowing me to shoot.

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Live Music and Pizza by the Slice

Since 1967, The Cheeseboard Collective in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto has been baking some really great food in addition to their deep selection of cheeses. One of the nice pleasures of waiting for a slice of delicious pizza is getting some tasty live music too!

Enric from Cirne.com was over in Berkeley too, vlogging another culinary experience: Geek Dinner at Fellini. He bumps into several notable folks including Matt Mullenweg, one of the creators of Word Press. Great to hear Word Press is working on support for vloggers in the next release!

By the way, check out Matt’s new product called Akismet. It hopes to end comment spam on blogs. I’ve just downloaded the API, and will give it a spin.

iTunes launches Tagami.com podcast

I check this evening and the tagami.com podcast feed now appears in iTunes. Woohoo! For some reason the image shows a broken link but the XML file validated completely through FEEDValidator.org.

Now to hammer out the theme and meter of the show and get it into gear. For now the feed will continue to be a lens that looks back into the Individual Media Revolution here in the early part of the 21st Century. Let’s see where that takes us.

Joshua Schachter, the man behind del.icio.us, was at Harvard on Tuesday discussing the Future of Tagging. Beth Kanter over at Beth’s Blog has a quick video and some notes from the discussion. Worth checking out. Joshua describes tagging as the opposite of search. One for storage, the other for retrieval. Some interesting stats too: Tens of millions of posts, 100,000 people. 500,000 unique tags.

Joe Beck @ Anna's Jazz Island

Finally got around to getting some video up from last week. Here is Joe Beck (guitar), with Peter Barshay (bass), and David Rokeach (drums) at Anna’s Jazz Island on October 19th. I got lucky and had my little Sony HC20 in my backpack so could get some footage of this notable guitarist. Joe was Miles Davis’ first guitar player. Will try to get another few clips up soon. My apologies in advance for the fidelity.

I’ve got my fingers crossed right now. I’ve moved my nascent video production over to Apple and have submitted my RSS feed for iTunes. I should know in a few days if I am worthy…

Novels, Movies and Games

Have you ever thought about writing a novel? How about writing a novel in 30 days?! That’s what the crazy folks at nanowrimo.org are doing starting November 1st. This is the 7th year that they are doing it. Suprisingly, many people really do complete an entire novel in 30 days!

I gave up last year after getting no more than 2000 words down, but am determined to participate this year. I have bent the rules for my own needs however. While hundreds of folks write their 30-day novel, I will be writing my first movie script. I can’t say more than that, so consider me in stealth mode. I’ll post general updates through the month, but I want the results to be a suprise!

Civilization IV will be available this Wednesday! With this release, a new era of game computing will be here. Why you ask?

The backend of this networked game will be coded in python and XML! Early next year Firaxis will release a SDK (Software Development Kit) that will allow people to create mods for it. Similar to the buzz we hear about Web 2.0 sites and open APIs, this will be a truely open ended platform for game design.

Sid Meier created the first Civ back in 1991 and it ran on DOS. The objective was simple: as a ruler of a civilization you had to explore, do research, and develop the world starting in 4000 BC and ending in the modern era with global domination.

Since picking up the game when it was released for Windows in 1993, I have enjoyed the continuing level of sophistication and AI improvements through II (when they introduced world building tools), and III (when they introduced Internet play). Now with Civ IV and the open architecture, you can modify game rules and change or add content. Add new building types, resources, even add new civiliations! One of my favorite sites to catch up on the latest in Civ is CivFanatics. This will definately be a game to check out.

Now to decide: should I start with the Chinese or the Romans?

Blogs, Cogs, Vlogs and Splogs

I had a chance to sit down with Chris Baudry of Pacific Whistle last week and we got to talking about the Inventor’s mind. Two basic directions emerged in our discussion on the implementation of new ideas: (1) solutions in search of a problem, and (2) problems in search of solutions.

What I mean by “solutions in search of a problem” is that the creative mind of the inventor spends time tinkering and playing with different ideas/components until something unique occurs, serendipitous exploration, if you will. Now that the inventor has this new thing, they are off in search of where it should be and why we need it. There is a very high probability of failure here, as it will most likely lead to a search for artificial demand.

The other approach is seeing a demonstrable problem that has yet to be solved, and then coming up with a solution to that problem. When it comes to this new Web 2.0 thing the next person insists on showing you, is it a solution looking for a problem, or a problem solved?

According to Adage (registration required), US workers will waste the equivalent of 551,000 years reading blogs this year. I imagine most of that time will be wading the the growing spam of computer-generated blogs or “splogs” that have been built to monetize links or change search engine rank. News.com reports today that a massive spamalanche occurred over the weekend when a creative hacker stuffed RSS readers with thousands of useless blogs by leveraging Blogger’s open API.

The Yahoo Videoblogging Group has been buzzing with the discussion about the new distribution potential of independent works through iTunes now that iPod plays video. In addition to the iPod discussions, there are many technical threads, help and howto links, and a great sense of community developing. The group has nearly 1500 members now, and seems to be at the center of the media revolution. If you are interested in independent media and its creation, definately drop on by.

Flock Dev Preview 0.5pre

It’s been a hyper-crazy Wednesday. I started down in Pacific Grove with Bob Franco @ Endorphin.com checking out his HD video studios…awesome. Up to the City for the Current.tv/Vloggers Meetup, off to Anna’s Jazz Island to grab some cool video of Joe Beck, and now finally have a chance to download and play with the 0.5 preview release of Flock! This first ‘graph is actually being posted from their browser. Nice ability to drag and drop images from Flickr, add tags, and other nifty stuff…

whoops it seems to be breaking my server though…I see this in edit mode but it does not post in display. Rewriting using regular WordPress post..looks like that works..hmm.

Hope to have some of the Joe Beck audio/video up within the next day or so.

Ben's Sunflower

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Startup School

It’s a rainy day in Cambridge and I am stuffed in an auditorium with 500 other like-minded technologists and investors. Paul Graham has set up this one day conference to help spark new tech start-ups into action. More to come as the day goes on. I am recording the sessions, but acoustics are poor so I am not sure that I will podcast this. We’ll see.

Langley Steinert (TripAdvisor) provides solid recommendations for startups. Minimum start $500k-$1m. Keep at least 12 month burn in reserve.

Marc Hedlund (O’Reilly) lists companies he is interested in: Adaptive Path, Bloglines, del.icio.us , Feedburner, Flickr, Indico, Jotspot, Koders, Odeo, Project Placesite, Spike Source, Splunk, Squid Labs, 37 Signals, Upcoming.org, Zimbra.

Qi Lu (VP of engineering, Yahoo!) is demoing the beta Yahoo! mail running AJAX. Built on the Outpost acquisition. Search application is strong. 2 billion messages a day on current platform. Social bookmarking (My Web 2.0) is also mentioned. Outreaching for Developer Network. Yahoo! music player with new APIs. Working with the Entpreneur community by investing in companies that use Yahoo! APIs. Qi makes the arguement that as a startup you call enjoin in Yahoo! and not worry about scale (both in traffic and data process).

After the break we heard from Hutch Fishman. He’s been the founding CFO of quite a few start ups including Sonus Networks, Viaweb, Winphoria Networks, VideoServer, and Family Education Network. He is current CFO of cMarket and Veveo (in stealth mode).

Paul Graham is speaking now (Y Combinator). Ideas for startups. He’s on a great riff. I sure hope the audio is good enough to cast this, meanwhile, full text of his speech here

David Cavanaugh (Partner, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr) is up. Intellectual Property for Startups. He is using the Babcock Grabber to illustrate all the points in the IP question. (Patents, Trade Secrets, Copyrights, and Trademarks)

Michael Mandel (Chief Economist, BusinessWeek) believes the US has unique ability with respect to the rest of the world to provide for an enviroment for startups. The role of Venture Capital is not to give out money, it’s to throw you out if you are not executing well on the good idea.

Steve Wozniak gets a standing ovation at the end of his recant on the start of Apple.

Woz is an active Segway polo player. He has been having problems with his back (sounds like he may need surgery?) and he jokingly remarks, “As long as you have enough gadgets you dont need your health.”

Seeds of invention. Apple, was accidental for Steve: Making the computer small with less parts was a game to him. He goes on to say that just because a system is set up a certain way before you design what you want, does not mean that you need to use that same design set up when you go to task. We should establish our values early on and write them down. Later on, if we are confronted with a choice in direction consult back to those early writings on value.

Mark Macenka (Goodwin Procter LLP) The great value of avoided mistakes. Important of study and analysis of the market opportunity. He goes on to speak of the incredible continuing requirement to remain focused and that the requirement (or failure) to solicit strategic and tactical advice on business legal issues makes or breaks the startup. Mark drills into Capital Structure, IP recurring problem areas, founder’s issues.

Start and stay organized. Do it right the first time with advisers that know what they are doing. Someone in the company must be compulsive. Give corporate and legal matters the same respect as your source code, lab notebooks, engineering documents.

Stan Reiss (GP Matrix partners) Your First Round should be the worse terms you ever negotiate in the life of the Company. Very small number of VC are associated with the overwhelming bulk of successful companies. Make the decision with a lot of care.

Stephen Wolfram (Founder, Wolfram Research) Origins of complexity. Steve wanted software tools to help solve his complex problems, so he built the tools himself. June 1988, Mathematica v1 released. This man has a brillant mind.

Like a telescope he was discovering computational relationships in all things using it. Here was symbolic programming and discovering the essence of things. He wanted to get down to the primitives. On business: if you delegate without understanding things tend to get messed up. You cannot delegate the core motivation of running the company.

Steve’s company is not a formula run company, but one run on underlying principles. alot of business is thinking practically.

While I am listening, it is amazing to see him speak. He seems to be speaking extemporaneously, yet on the main screen we are viewing a large triangle with many various sized triangles as he continues to refer back to his laptop.

At the core of something successful is something very difficult. Applications in nanontech, biotech, pattern recognition, security. Despite the total esoteric nature of Steve’s research, he as developed Wolfram Tones by doing searches in the computational universe. Wolfram Tones used for cell phone ring tones!

The outcome cannot easily be predicated based on the simple starting algorithm. Building a company for acquisition and not long term benefits allows those that try that to get away with a lot of things that will blow up in 10 years that wont in 5. Growth vs revenue? Steve seems to believe that it is not an either or problem.

Chris Sacca (Principal new Business Development, Google) Shepherd of stray thoughts
Larry and Sergei…just got to hacking.

  1. Just start. Just start coding. Have an idea of what you want to do. Focus on user experience.
  2. Solving a user problem will give you the reward in the end.
  3. Go big!
  4. Cheap to demo!
  5. Geeks rule! Acquisitions are for talent.
  6. Food! People bond over food. Head chef, Charlie, was employee #40.
  7. Be Open

Organize the worlds information and make it universally acceptable and useful.
Chris shows a gigapixel photo where you can drill down..waay down ala Bladerunner. There is information if you know where to look for it.

5 million terabytes of information are estimated to be available online. Google has about 170m terabytes.
how many diff ways can you color an icosahedron with one of 3 colors on each face?

Looks like Google is moving to set up a campus in boston? If interested, send email to miner@google.com

How does Google evaluate? They want to see what you’ve got. Does it work? Google rarely look at code first. They are most interested in open source that is extensible and scalable to millions of users. Again, they acquire for talent.

Olin Shivers (Assoc Prof, Georgia Tech; Co-Founder, Smartleaf)

Random walk through Startup space

choosing co-founders
bad choices

exponential tail-off
founders: papal land grant
first 10 ; small integer %
everyone else might get a price of a condo, plus an education + a rolodex

Stock options and money. No shame in talking about $ and options. You are not doing this for fun you are doing it for money. Possible alternative reason, you are a revolutionary.

Venture Capital: souless agents of satan or just clumsly rapists?

Inferred character traits of VC: Technical depth, managerial executive experience, unafraid to be contgrarian, nerves of steel , can handle this. This is emprically wrong on every point.

Failure is part of the process. There will be pain. After a defeat, you should acknowledge your opponent (ala Judo). “Thank you for what you have taught me”.
Easy to say , hard to do.

You need a high tolerance for feeling like a moron.
Can you handle permantely residing outside your comfort zone.
You need courage
why shouldn’t you do significant things in this one life, however you define significant r. hamming
principally, deficit of courage.

“Scientific profess advances in units of courage not intelligence.”

Recommends: Sutherland’s “Technology and courage”, and Hammings “You and your research.

You’re a loser until you are a hero. “Life in academe means learning to manage uncertainty ” A. Newell.

Lots of quotes and quick sound bites. Be stubborn, be flexible. Its only an addiction if you try to stop. Only way any of this works is if you are really into it. Stand where lightening strikes. Optimize your people, locale, culture idea.

Best quote: “All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.” TE Lawrence

Quotes Ramanujan too.

Be a master of technology. Family man vs warrior monk. Age plays a part. Beware the groove. Grad school. Are you a scholar or businessperson?

His privacy agreement example: keeping it simple and succinct!

Barring compulsory legal process we do not release individual information about our clients to any outside parties at all.

More to say later. Hopefully pictures and sound. It’s 3:30 and we just got in after having a great party with the folks at HeyLetsGo. They look similar to Upcoming.

iPod Video

I honestly did not think that Apple was going to announce this today.

Similar to the evolution of the iPod “mini” > nano, iPod now plays video! With the release of iTunes 6.0, you will now be able to search independent videos and view up to 150 hours of them in a sexy portable device along with movie previews, music videos, and more.

I expect that we will see TV news feeds very quickly propogate. I really do hope this opens up the opportunities for independent media makers!

The format of choice is now Quicktime 6 (H.264 video up to 768 kbps, 320 x 240, 30 frames per second).

Currently downloads are free for podcasts on iTunes.

For the videobloggers out there, part of the recent discussion has been around making a living doing this. Apple signs agreements with the “labels”. What can we do as independents to open up this opportunity? It’s kind of silly that we can be an iTunes (iMedia?) affiliate and receive a 5% commission on other works, yet no revenue from our own.

Thoughts? Action items?

Sidenote: I did not think Apple was going to take over my world the way it has this last week. Just two days ago I broke down and bought a new laptop (simple iBook G4) to replace my broken Gateway. The last time I had an Apple was my Mac +. So I guess it’s welcome home!

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disclosure: I own stock in Apple.