Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Craig Ferguson waxes about Pleasanton


Okay, this is just fantastic. Pleasanton is where I live. It is a really cute town! Craig talks about his recent visit to Pleasanton, what a cute town it is, why he was there, where he stayed, etc. Fun!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Cool new Windows phone

Here is a great new Windows Mobile based cell phone. They haven't announced who the manufacturers are going to be yet, but I'm sure they're lining up. Now, I just need to make sure we can get Sling Player Mobile up and running on it.


Think of it as TV-in-the-round. Awesome!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Fun with SlingBox

After the first month, I've been having a great time at Sling Media. It reminds me a bit of TiVo in the early days, but even more so. What's amazing is that Sling has acquired customers at a faster rate than TiVo did, and has managed to deliver a second generation of SlingBoxes (Tuner, A/V and Pro) as well as peripherals (SlingLink, HD Connect, etc.) It's pretty impressive for a company that's barely 2 years old.

In the process, I've purchased my first SlingBox. It's the A/V model which supports a single source device. I'm using a TiVo/DVD recorder as the source and the SlingBox let's me watch the output of the TiVo on my laptop while I'm roaming inside or outside the house. I can also access it from my Motorola Q cell phone and watch full-screen video. My daughter likes it so much she wants to watch TV on it while we're at home. The quality of the picture is great, and it's really impressive how well the product works. I'm really excited to be a part of this world-class team.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Google Gadget for Vino2Vino

One of the cool things about Web 2.0 (and Wine 2.0) is that technology is emerging which let's you extend a targeted community, like wine lovers, out to other sites and communities. Last month, I blogged about our V2V wine review widget on Widgetbox. The wine widget is cool because you can create a widget to represent different types and kinds of wine. But, it can only be used on sites or blogs where you have authoring privileges.

This week, we released a new version of the widget as a Google Gadget. (more from Mike) This gadget allows you to put a special kind of widget on your Google home page that automatically shows you wines that are being updated on vino2vino.com. It's like a visual RSS feed. Every time you hit your Google home page, you'll see an updated graphic of wines that have recently been reviewed on Vino2Vino. And, it's dead simple to add the gadget to your home page. Click on the graphic above, or here to add it to your personalized Google home page (Google login required).

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

VT Tragedy

My brother Mike is visiting me this week from Blacksburg, Virginia. Mike graduated from Virginia Tech in December and is staying in Blacksburg for another month until his girlfriend graduates and they move to SF this summer.

Blacksburg was visited by a terrible tragedy this week which has brought home how fragile we all are - that one person can do so much damage to so many individuals and families.

There really aren't words to describe how tragic this whole event was, so I'll end by saying that my thoughts and prayers go out to Mike and Katy, their friends and the rest of the VT community as they begin the process of putting their lives back on track and healing.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Verizon misleading consumers

I can't believe that a company like Verizon can get away with this, but they are apparently limiting their "unlimited" data plans to 5GB of data transfers per month. If you exceed this amount of data in one month, they will shut off your service. While this seems like a blatant case of false advertising, it turns out that Verizon is really trying to shut out certain types of applications running on their handsets. Specifically, they do not want people running a video service (like Sling, Orb, etc.) that is competitive with their own vCast service.

What's really sad about this action by Verizon is that this kind of behavior from major operators will limit the amount of innovation that companies can and will provide to consumers. It sets a really bad precedent and confuses consumers who read the marketing material, but not the full legalese until it's too late. Shame on you Verizon.

After this, who is going to believe an announcement about unlimited texting? "Oh, you mean text messaging to other people? That will cost you more."

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

We're number two!! We're number two!!

It just doesn't have quite the right ring to it, does it? My team, the Ohio State Buckeyes, were handed their hats again this week. In a freaky re-enactment of the NCAA football national championship, the Florida Gators did it to us again.

I have to admit, part of me was really hoping we would redeem ourselves. As with the BCS championship game, Ohio State had a real chance to win this one. But, I guess it was not meant to be. Congratulations to the Gators for winning the two big matches this year!

Maybe next year will be our year!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Job-shifting

At TiVo, we helped make time-shifting possible for many. It had been promised by the VCR, but that promise didn't really become a reality for the masses until the DVR.

In 2004, the founders of Sling launched an entirely new category of products with their first place-shifting product. Unlike time-shifting, which lets you watch your TV "when" you want, place-shifting lets you watch that same TV "where" you want. Whether it's live TV or a video device, the SlingBox beams your TV signal out of the home over your broadband link to a remote PC or multi-media cellular phone.

So, I'm now creating a new term, job-shifting. It's where I move from my current entrepreneurial enterprise into full-time employment with Sling. Starting tomorrow, I start as the vice president of product marketing and product management at Sling Media. I'm really excited to be working with the team at Sling, and on the exciting new products on their roadmap. Hang on, I think this is going to be an e-ticket ride.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Tax H E double toothpicks

Once again, I'm majorly struggling over taxes. It's the same every year. I debate whether it's worth having someone do my taxes, or whether I should just keep doing them myself. My feeling (still) is that most of the work around taxes goes into preparing the numbers your accountant needs, not in actually filling out the tax forms. And, I'm fundamentally against extensions. Once you're in the habit of filing extensions, they don't really help you anyway. You're just dealing with these same headaches at a different time of year than everyone else.

So, here I go. Schedule's A, B, C, D & E. Next year, maybe I should buy a farm and try out Schedule F? F - Me. At least the weather sucks too.

Friday, March 23, 2007

You gotta love California

This past weekend I rode my motorcycle up to Reno to visit a friend and to go skiing. Even though it's mid-March, the weather was spectacular. It was in the 60's for most of my ride, falling to the high 40's when I crossed Carson pass. Instead of taking the fast route, I took highway 88 past Kirkwood and came up on Reno from the south.

We skied at Northstar on Sunday in weather that was close to 60-degrees. I hadn't skied in over 10 years, and this was my first time on parabolic skis. After such a long hiatus, I think I skied fairly well. After a tutorial on how to properly ski on this new type of ski, I started to catch on. I think I'll need to try them again before I feel comfortable with them.

At the end, it was a great weekend. How many places can you go on a beautiful, sunny motorcycle ride and then go skiing at a world class resort? You've gotta love California.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Call me now!

I've posted several times about the Jangl phone service. It's a free service which lets you share your phone number with people without giving them your real digits.

For you, my blog reader, I can let you call me on the phone. All you need to do is enter your phone number in this cool new widget. You enter the number that you'd like to call me from, and Jangl routes the call to my phone. And, your number is protected as well. Jangl gives me a virtual caller ID which I can use to call you back. Neither of our real numbers is revealed. Then, Jangl provides an online control panel for me to manage my incoming calls and lets me block a caller if I feel stalked or bothered.

Jangl gives you so much control over your phone, you'd be willing to post your number on the web. See, I just did.





Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Ferrari Museum - Maranello, Italy

After a little down-time around Sirmione and Lago Di Garda, we hit the road south to Maranello, following this route.

Maranello is the home of the Ferrari museum, and is adjacent to the town of Modena where the Ferrari factory is located (and De Tomaso, Ferrari, Pagani and Maserati for that matter.) It's sports car central.

The Ferrari museum was a really nice facility, full of high tech exhibits and beautiful cars - many of them one-off models. There was also an interesting display of celebrity photos and testimonials, highlighting the lifestyle that surrounds many Ferrari owners.

There was one car that was mounted on it's nose, and a room full of Ferraris that fanned out around you (see photo below). It was spectacular.

To see just the posts from this trip, click here.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

DD Part4 - Dress for success

Note: This is a continuation of my prior post, DD Part3.

Now that we had a more consumer-friendly feature set, we needed to make sure that the hardware was ready for the broader consumer market and that the value proposition would resonate with prospective customers. And, we needed to have a launch venue which allowed us to get visibility for our re-launch of the company and it's products. We needed to get the word out.

I felt that we needed to make some changes to the hardware. The remote control was a brick, and the name eDeck wasn't very consumer friendly. We re-named the eDeck, the Media Connector, opting for something that was descriptive rather than clever. And, Media Connector played off some of the other home networking product categories - namely media adapters and media extenders.

The remote control had been a bigger challenge. We didn't have the resources to design a custom remote control, and after extensive research I wasn't happy with any of the ODM/OEM remote controls I had discovered . On a trip to IBC, I visited the UEI booth and found an interesting PVR remote that was being used by a cable company in Israel. It hadn't been used in the U.S. before, which was why I hadn't seen it during earlier meetings with UEI. But, I really liked the ergonomics of it and decided to contract with UEI to bring it to the states. The result was a great compromise between budget and usability.

Part of the plan to shift towards the general consumer market required us to rethink our outbound marketing strategy. This included product issues (documentation, packaging, etc.) and our communication plan (PR, website, etc.). It also required us to bring on someone with more experience with successful consumer MarComm. We hired Joe Harris, a good friend of mine and one of the best marketing professional's I've had the opportunity to work beside. The year before, Joe had launched Orb Networks at CES and had garnered a large amount of PR with a limited budget.

Joe hit the ground running, and we targeted the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, January 2006, as the main event for us to re-launch the product and the company. While the primary product we would be selling was a hardware media adapter, we didn't lose sight of the fact that our core value was the Media Connector Software which rus the system. So, we made sure this was a core part of our consumer messaging. Joe is famous for being a "frequency freak", so we were careful to make sure we were consistent in all of our external communication.

more to come in part 5.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Wine Review Widget on Widgetbox



This week Vino2Vino published their first wine widget on Widgetbox. It's really neat, because the Wine Review Widget can be configured to do many different things simply by changing a few of the widget parameters. Click to read more about this new wine review widget.

Rather than show you all of the things you can do with this widget, I thought I'd just use it to highlight a wine which I had last week and really enjoyed.


It's the 2003 Renwood Old Vine Zinfandel. It's from Amador County and is a good value at around $13 a bottle. I enjoyed it with spicy Mexican food, and the full, sweet flavor of the Renwood was a wonderful match with the spicy food. I didn't fully understand what people mean when they say "jammy" to describe a wine until I had this one. It cut through the spiciness and still had a rich fruity flavor. I finished the bottle the next day, and it was still quite nice. I thought it was going to be overly sweet, but it wasn't.


Rather than use an image for this post (my norm), I'm using the new widget. Go ahead, click on the wine label and see what happens. You can find places to buy the wine or discover other wines with similar characteristics.


Thursday, March 08, 2007

San Francisco Neighborhoods

Well, it looks like my brother Mike may be moving to the Bay Area this summer. His girlfriend was just offered a job with The Gap as part of a management training program scheduled to start in August, and she accepted the job.

I think they've decided to live in The City, so I'm taking them on a tour today of some of the many neighborhoods in SF. I lived in SF for almost 10 years, first in Presidio Heights, then Cole Valley and finally Eureka Valley before finally bailing out and moving south to Palo Alto. (full list of SF neighborhoods) But, I left almost 10 years ago and I'm sure the neighborhoods have changed since then.

Living in the city, it was fun getting to know the character of the different neighborhoods. I've never lived in NYC, but I've heard that it's a similar phenomenon, on a smaller scale. Some of the neighborhoods have a definite ethnic slant, while others have more of a demographic (i.e. age & economic) slant. Even though SF is quite small as far as major cities go, the weather also varies greatly between the western and southern neighborhoods. Public transportation, parking, nightlife - these are all important variables for them.

I think we'll grab this map and just hit the streets. When they see something they like, they can circle it. When they see something they don't like, we'll cross it off. Once they have a better feel for what they like, they can start watching Craigslist, Rent.com, etc. for rentals when their time to move gets close. For me, it will just be fun driving through the city, hopefully with the top down!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Carl Malone - 90 Years Young

This past weekend, I went up to Roseville with my dad and brother Rob to see my grandfather, Carl Malone for his 90th birthday. Rob's daughter and my kids came along too. It's a bit of a long drive for young kids (about an hour and a half) up to Roseville, but it was worth the drive. My grandfather is the only living great-grandparent for my kids, so it's a special occasion and a chance to get some four-generation photos (see below). My dad claims there is a five-generation photo with me as a baby, but I haven't seen it yet. He says he'll look for it.

My grandfather lives with his life partner, Lois. They've been together over 10 years now and seem really happy together. Eventually, I'll have to blog some more about my grandfather. He's a good man who has lived an interesting life.

It's always nice going there with my dad and kids. It's not often that you get that kind of multi-generational view of things. And, the kids seemed to have a great time.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Modern family calendaring

A couple of years ago, while I was an entrepreneur-in-residence at Redpoint Ventures, I was also doing some corporate strategy consulting for a startup in Seattle called Kasayka. Kasayka was founded by a couple of really great guys, Robbie Cape and Jan Miksovsky, both former Microsoft employees. Robbie was the GM for Microsoft Money, and Jan was a user interface guru whose last project was as the user interface architect for Windows Vista. Their goal with Kasayka was to build usable software that improved families lives.

Kasayka has come a long way since those early days, launching recently to consumers as Cozi. I was fortunate enough to be a beta tester and was able to see the product and service evolve. It's now a really great set of features that deliver on their initial vision. Family calendaring allows you to create a free calendar for each of the members of your family in one easy location. It can then be accessed over the web or from a mobile phone. It's a very flexible calendar, with a nice plain-text feature that lets you type a calendar entry in English and it's interpreted as a calendar event. First Wednesday of the month? No problem. Every other Tuesday & Thursday? Yup. For my two kids, Cozi was able to handle every weird form of event schedule I threw at it.

Besides calendaring, Cozi also offers family messaging. From their secure portal, Cozi Central, you can send messages to any family member, or to the whole family at once. For today's modern family, group messaging is a really useful feature. Cozi also let's you define multiple shopping lists. I can have one for Safeway, and one for Costco, etc. Anyone in the family can put things on the shopping list, and I can have it read to me over the phone (or texted) while I'm at the store. This is a great feature when you get to the store and realize you forgot your list.

If you install Cozi on your computer, they also provide a really elegant screensaver they call a collage. You point it at your digital photos, and the collage selects groups of photos which look good together and displays them on the screen, changing them at a time interval you specify. There's clearly some intelligence under the hood here, because it's uncanny how the images are selected and grouped. They also include a clock and a view of upcoming calendar events on the collage. It's pretty neat.

If any of this sounds good, please download Cozi (it's free!) and give it a try. If you try before April 30th, Cozi will donate $1 to Locks of Love for each family that joins. Give it a try, I think you'll like it.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Revenue in a Wine 2.0 world

I discovered an interesting blog posting from last year, including comments from some of the most noteworthy wine bloggers - How Blog Tasting Notes Should Be. While there was some discussion about conflict-of-interest for wine bloggers recommending a wine and then making money off someone clicking on an affiliate link, I think that was off the mark. The nice thing about blogging and social networking is that the collective intelligence of the community is substantial. The good people will definitely rise to the top and the frauds will be exposed.

It seems to me that the heart of the matter in this post is how an expert wine reviewer can share their recommendations and be compensated for their skills and for sharing their wisdom. Currently, there are a relatively small number of professional wine reviewers, notably Wine Spectator, Robert Parker, Wine Enthusiast and Stephen Tanzer. They seem to rely primarily on the old-school, editorial forms of revenue (i.e. selling magazines and subscriptions). But, as social media becomes more important in people's lives, it is becoming possible to interact with wine experts who are less traditional. This is especially good if you are a wine lover, but don't feel like your taste in wine is similar to any of the major reviewer's styles. Andrew Barrow re-iterated this sentiment in his recent post about niche blogging.

Blogging is definitely one way that these new-wave reviewers can share their recommendations. (If you're interested in wine blogging, see the Wineblogs Roll in the right panel of this blog for a few good examples) However, while blogs are good places to share editorial recommendations, and some of the blogs out there are very entertaining reads, blogs are really just a higher-tech form of editorial. They need to be able to provide enhanced functionality for their readers, and they need to make sure their editorial still has value once a review falls "below the fold".

Although they didn't weigh in on this post, emerging cellaring sites, notably Cork'd and CellarTracker, are another way that people have been sharing their thoughts with each other. But, these destinations sites are going to be limited if they keep trying to drive traffic to their site to make money via advertising. There needs to be a way to extend the functionality into other communities and a way for the good users to be heard outside these respective systems.

Back to Josh's original blog post, where can people make money in all of this? The wine business is clearly a fragmented market that is begging to have technology step in and help consumers discover new wines. But, paying for click-throughs is not going to make anyone much money. It's great that sites like WineZap and wine-searcher offer affiliate programs for people, but the problem is that these pay-per-click programs will never be able to support a real technology business. And, there's too many middle men. There needs to be some consolidation in the industry, or at least some major co-operation. Lastly, the online communities need to be able to tap into the retail commerce side of things where the revenue is a bit more interesting.

The problem there is - the retail side of the wine business is about as fragmented as the production side. And, that's beyond the scope of this post.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Northern Italian Wines - Valpolicella

After our first night in Sirmione, we went on a day of wine tasting in the Valpolicella. Valpolicella is a wine region in the Veneto that is famous for the production of Amarone. Amarone is a rich, flavorful wine that is made from partially dried grapes of the Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara varieties. The grapes actually start to resemble raisins by the time they are crushed for the wine. Here's a sample video (note: QT required) of how the drying works. Because the grapes are partially dried, a much larger quantity of grapes is required to produce Amarone than some of the other blends (like Bardolino) where the grapes are crushed right after harvesting. The larger number of juicier grapes also makes the wine stronger and somewhat more expensive than normally produced wine from the same grapes.

Bertani

I'm not sure if it's universal, but all of the wineries we visited in Europe required an advanced appointment for wine tasting and tours. From Sirmione, we drove along this route through Verona to Bertani Vineyards in Grezzana. We arrived a few minutes late, but nobody was in the tasting room to greet us. We wandered around for a few minutes and a very nice old Italian man came out and explained to us (almost entirely in Italian) that the tasting room person would be back shortly. In the meantime, he offered to give us a tour of the facility. It ended up being a wonderful tour, with him throwing out a few occasional English words and me understanding about 10% of his Italian. Despite the language barrier, it was a wonderful tour. When we finished, the tasting room person had returned and we sampled a spectacular array of Bertani Amarone wine. We also learned that the reason they hadn't been expecting us was that we had made an appointment at the Bertani Villa location, but had instead gone to their main production facility. I'm sorry we missed the villa, but the main facility was quite impressive, with a mix of very modern equipment and some very old storage tanks. You can see ratings on some of Bertani's wines here.

Allegrini

From Bertani we took a short-cut over a very narrow, winding road to the Allegrini Winery. Here, we were greeted with a very modern tasting room located in a building alongside their main production facility. Externally, it was very similar to Bertani - clearly a clean, modern working facility. We were greeted by a friendly Dutch woman who gave us a tour of the caves and then a very comprehensive tasting. Their wines were also spectacular. But, they didn't have the same selection of old vintages that were available at Bertani. These were more recent releases. You can see ratings on some of Allegrini's wines here.

Masi & Ser�go Alighieri

Our last stop of the day was a short drive to the estate of Ser�go Alighieri, part of Masi, where they have been making wines for over 650 years! At this location, they offer tastings to the public of Masi and Ser�go Alighieri branded wines. It's a beautiful, gated estate with a wonderful old building where they host the tastings. They had a full wine shop here with a large variety of new and old vintages, small and large-format bottles. They let you choose from a large variety of wines and design your own tasting, so go prepared! We enjoyed quite a few wines and did not leave empty handed. It was a great day, filled with wonderful wines. You can see ratings on some of Masi's wines (including Ser�go Alighieri) here and some great photos below.


To see just the posts from this trip, click here.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Hidden Gem in Napa Valley

This weekend I went wine tasting in Napa Valley with my brother Mike, and friends Cary and Steve. We met at Jim's Restaurant for a nice, filling breakfast and then hit the road. Cary has a big truck, so he drew the short straw for designated driver. It was pouring rain when we set out, but things mostly cleared up by the time we made it to Napa.

In order, we visited the following wineries:

A. Signorello Vineyards
B. Chimney Rock Winery
C. Duckhorn Vineyards
D. Larkmead Vineyards
E. Keenan Winery
F. Guilliams Vineyards
G. Merryvale Vineyards

I'll be recording tasting notes for the various wines which we tasted. You can view them by selecting the links above. Fortunately, we weren't drinking the full amounts that were poured for us at each winery. Because Steve is connected with the wine industry, I think they may have been pouring generously for us. I don't think we could have handled visiting 7 wineries if we drank everything they poured. And, Steve's wife Cindy packed us a wonderful picnic lunch which we ate on the fly between vineyards. Thanks Cindy!

The hidden gem we discovered was Larkmead Vineyards in Calistoga. We arrived to a completely empty tasting room. I'm not sure if it was the weather, the fact that it was Sunday, or the fact that Calistoga is near the top of the Napa Valley and many people are too tipsy to make it that far. But, I can tell you that people are missing out!

Our host, also named Ted, was extremely knowledgeable and a pleasure to meet. He explained the history of Larkmead, one of the oldest vineyards in Napa. The original winery building, dates back to 1884 and is now part of Frank Family Vineyards, owned by members of the Rombauer family. Each wine we tasted at Larkmead was superb. We did not come home empty handed.

You can see the wineries we visited on this map.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Wine widget experiment

I'm working on an experiment to create a widget that will let you browse the wine list at Va De Vi, a wonderful restaurant and wine bar in Walnut Creek. They have a very creative wine director, Brendan Eliason, who has developed some very interesting wine tasting flights and writes colorful descriptions for each of the wines he selects. Take a look and see what you think.

DD Part3 - Don't reinvent the wheel

Note: This is a continuation of my prior post, DD Part2.

Now that we had decided to sell direct to consumers, we had to make sure we delivered the right feature set.

Prior to this time (summer '05), DigitalDeck had been designing the entire system as a stand-alone product. Photo management, music management, play listing, etc. were all built into the DD user interface. Getting media in and out of the system was an import/export task via network mount points. We needed to have a more open approach if we were going to deliver the software to consumers for self-installation. And, there were so many good music and photo management applications out there already, it didn't make sense for us to spend a lot of valuable engineering resources re-inventing the wheel.

I recommended that we modify our recording engine to record to flat files rather than the chunks of video we were recording into our proprietary file system. Recording to regular mpeg-2 files meant that a customer would be able to use our TV recordings in a variety of popular software applications to edit them, burn them to dvd, transcode them for viewing on a portable media player (or iPod), etc. This required some major code mojo from Ed J., one of our key engineering architects. But, it was an engineering effort that was well worth it. I still use Digital Deck as a "network tuner" for my media PC today.

Knowing that we needed to appear larger than we were, I also developed a product strategy that would allow us to interoperate with other popular consumer products. This would allow us to piggyback off their brand popularity and provide enhanced functionality their customers could not get in any other way. If nothing else, it showed that we cared about improving the customer experience in the area of home media networking. At best, this sybmiotic relationship could help forge new, strategic partnerships for the company.

I then ended development on our proprietary music features and focused our efforts on iTunes interoperability. iTunes was already the most popular music management software for the PC, and it's free to consumers. By using their developer API's, we could provide real-time synchronization with iTunes, including library management, play listing, etc. And, for iTunes users, we would give them an easy way to interact with their playlists from the TV. An alternative, the Apple Airport Express, was a "push" model that required you to control the music from your PC or Mac. Our model would allow you to control your iTunes from the TV ("pull") and you could listen to a different playlist at every location - something you couldn't do with Express. We also implemented a DirectShow transcoder which allowed us to support virtually every flavor of audio codec on the fly - AAC, MP3, FLAC, etc.

I implemented a similar strategy for photo management using Flickrs' API's and with TiVo, using their developer API's and some back-door functionality in the TiVo Desktop software. Now, customers who used Flickr could enter their username and password into the Digital Deck interface and access all of their photos and their friends photos from the TV. We also created a dynamic folder for their interestingness photos so there would always be some fresh, entertaining photos to browse.

On the TiVo side, we created a virtual folder in the Digital Deck interface which showed all of the recordings that were stored on any of your networked TiVo DVR's. If you had more than one TiVo, we combined your recordings into one unified list. Then, if you wanted to view a TiVo recording via Digital Deck, you would select a recording from this list and we would begin transferring it to your PC (in the background) and start streaming it to the Digital Deck adapter for playback. To this day, I think we were the only digital media adapter capable of streaming .tivo files. We also implemented things in the reverse direction so that Digital Deck recordings (onto the PC) were available for viewing on your TiVo DVR via TiVo Desktop. It was a nice addition for someone who had a TiVo DVR but was looking to do more with a media PC and wanted some form of interoperability.

more to come in part 4.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Offline posting software

I've started playing with Windows Live Writer (beta) software for my blog authoring. They promised wysiwyg editing and the ability to post to multiple blog sites. It's not automatic cross posting, but it's pretty close. What you can do is author a post and choose which blog you are targeting with the post. Live Writer shows you what the post will look like, and even let's you prview it on your blog site before posting. Once you've posted, you can change the blog target for your post from one site to another. The post gets re-formatted into the style of the new site (assuming it's different) and you can then publish to the second site. So far, I've used Live Writer to post to Blogger and a version of WordPress 2.1 that I'm hosting at my own website.

I've run into a couple of problems so far when trying to post to Blogger. In Blogger, I like to use a small image to represent each blog post. It's kind of a signature thing for me. While you can do this when posting from the Blogger interface, Live Writer says that my blogsite does not support this and wants me to point the software at an ftp site for automatic image publishing. Nice feature, but I don't have an ftp site right now. The work-around for this is that I have to publish the post and then go to Blogger to add the icon image.

Live Writer also doesn't seem to support Blogger labels (tags) yet. So, it's not perfect, but it doesn't suck either. I do like the ability to author a post offline, so I'll keep using it for a while to see whether it can be a good, long-term solution.

Friday, February 23, 2007

$200 taxi ride?

Last month I was in Las Vegas for the 2007 International CES. A friend of mine invited me to a Canon party at the Bellagio to benefit the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. It included a large silent auction with goods donated by various consumer electronics companies, a raffle and a live performance from Glenn Frey (formerly of The Eagles). I didn't win anything in the auction, but I did end up buying a losing number in the raffle.

While at the party, I met the CEO of a company that a friend of mine works for. She was a smart, young, intense entrepreneur who clearly has a single-minded passion for her company to succeed. Maybe it's because she's an engineer, but she also seemed a bit absent minded. Around 11-o'clock, she looked at her watch and commented that maybe she should be leaving. It turned out that she had a midnight flight back to the bay area. We all agreed that she should get moving, and she said goodbye.

It was four days into the trade show, and I was kind of tired of the late-night dinners, etc. I decided to head back to my hotel for the night. I said goodbye to the other people I had met and headed out to the taxi line at the front of the Bellagio. There were at least 250 people in the taxi line. As I walked down the line, I was scanning the faces hoping to see someone I knew. I wasn't relishing the thought of a 30-minute wait in the taxi line. About a third of the way down the line, guess who I saw? Yup, the very same CEO I had been chatting with earlier. It was about 11:30 by now, and making it to her flight seemed about as likely as a dollar yo at this point. She was playing with her cell phone and looked up when I asked her what was she still doing in line? "Do you think I'll make my flight?" she said. Hardly.

Since the midnight flight back to the bay area was certainly the last flight of the day, I decided to lend a hand. I hurried to the front of the line and slipped $20 to a very busy valet. He swung into action and pushed us to the front of the limo line. It wasn't a short line either. The valet then turned to me and asked if would I like the stretch limo or the Maybach? Duh.

I've never had a chance to ride in a Maybach, and this was a long wheelbase 62 model - $350,000 of pure, chauffeur driven luxury. We settled into the back, surrounded by technology. The car had premium audio, video screens, a panoramic moonroof and seats that resemble first class airplane seats from a G-V. I relayed her situation to the driver, and he had us to the airport in 6 minutes (no joke). I later learned that she just made her flight home.

After she bailed out at the airport, the driver continued on to The Hotel to drop me off. I then learned that the Maybach usually goes for $300/hour with a 3-hour minimum. Oops. Rather than throwing myself from the vehicle on the freeway, we negotiated a more reasonable rate and I enjoyed the sound system for the rest of the ride. If you find yourself in Vegas and want the taxi ride of your life, give Abraham a call at 702.334.8186. It wasn't cheap, but it sure was memorable.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Collaboration gone wrong

Note: The names in this story have been changed to protect the innocent.

Not long ago, I worked for a company that made widgets. (I'm using widget in the traditional sense - to represent made-up things. How did widgets suddenly become real things?) Anyway, this widget making company was a young, nimble startup that was almost entirely staffed with ENTP over-achievers. Being smart, creative people, they were always careful to solicit input from their peers and to be very inclusive in their decision making. Logically, this meant that better decisions were made, and people could count on the support of the entire organization because decisions were reached in a very transparent way. As a small organization, they were able to do this and still be nimble and quick.

One of the drawbacks of this approach is that it doesn't scale very well. As the organization gets larger, it becomes very difficult (logistically speaking) to include everyone in the decision process who wants to be included. And, not everyone has the confidence and trust in their peers to let go of certain decisions in support of the greater good. What happens then is that the organization starts to get bogged down by it's inclusive nature.

At this point, the saying "innovate or die" comes to mind. You can continue to coddle your organization in the hopes of keeping people happy, or you can manage your way through these growing pains and encourage people to embrace their success and teach them how to help grow the organization. It is important that everyone "play their position", even if they have historically had a broader involvement in the management of the company.

Sadly, the widget making company took a while to work through these problems. Fortunately, they were able to partly address the issues through attrition and replacement in the organization. Other problems had started to occur in the organization too. Their inclusive nature meant that most of their days were spent in meetings just to make sure that everyone was on the same page and included in all decisions. This is a harder problem to solve, and can require executive mandate.

While the widget company was able to work through most of these issues, one additional artifact remained. Smart people, low levels of attrition and an overly collaborative environment was a toxic combination. The company culture became one in which everyone could say "no", and nobody could say "yes". The moral of this story? If you recognize these signs, act fast, or it's the beginning of the end.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Video over the Internet

It seems like everyone is getting involved in video over the Internet. I've already blogged about the TiVo/Amazon Unbox deal (Unbox can't really succeed), Steve Jobs' pokes at the industry in preparation for Apple TV (Jobs on DRM), and my testing of Kyte (Go fly a Kyte). I also just spoke with my friend Susan who is over at MyWaves and received a beta invitation to Joost. It seems like everyone is getting in on this "zero billion dollar" industry.

However, a research firm, Adams Media Research just released a new report regarding Video On The Internet and, if it's to be believed, it looks promising. They forecast sales of video downloads will total $472 million in 2007, $1.2 billion in 2008, $2 billion in 2009, $3.1 billion in 2010, then hit $4.1 billion in 2011.

They also predict advertiser spending on Internet video streams to PCs and TVs will approach $1.7 billion by 2011. So, maybe all of these companies are onto something?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Lago di Garda - Sirmione, Italy

From Bolzano, we followed this route south to the second largest lake in Italy, Lago di Garda. The next scheduled stop on our quest was a small town called Sirmione. Sirmione is a little town on the end of a peninsula that juts out into the lake. It's guarded by an ancient castle that serves as the gateway into town and a major tourist attraction.

Michele and I first discovered Sirmione a few years back when traveling to Venice for Carnivàle with (then) 9-month old Megan. It is also close to the Valpolicella wine region and a good days drive from Munich. It was the perfect place to stop.

We exited the autostrada near Peschiera del Garda and found a car wash. We didn't want to roll into town with a dirty car, especially in a town where you have to drive along the same tiny streets/sidewalks where people are walking and shopping. It seemed like the polite thing to do.

Fortunately, we had arrived in the evening hours during one of the windows of time when they let you drive on the streets of the town of Sirmione. If you're staying at a hotel inside the town, the hotel will put your name on a list and the guard shack outside the castle gate will allow you to pass. Because we were literally driving down sidewalks filled with people, we had to drive at a crawl. Our destination, Hotel Flaminia, was a short way inside the town in a small square on the west side of the peninsula. It's a great little hotel, but I might consider the Hotel Sirmione when I'm there the next time. It looked really nice.

We ate at several restaurants in town, but the hightlight was La Speranzina. I've been there several times, and the food has always been great, the service exemplary, and the owners are a fun, interesting, attractive couple.



Up next, wine tasting in the Valpolicella.

To see just the posts from this trip, click here.

Monday, February 19, 2007

DD Part2 - Stay focused, Create value

Note: This is a continuation of my prior post, DD Part1.

So, at this point (shortly after joining DigitalDeck), I convinced the rest of the board that we had a feature/market issue. We needed to modify our product offering or we needed to change our market strategy.

In addition, we were trying to do a lot as a small company. And, much of it was not unique or differentiated enough to create significant value for the company. We had a dedicated server which was really just a pre-configured Windows PC. We had a media adapter which ran an embedded, Linux OS. And, we had a central software application which ran the whole system in the home, providing all of the network DVR functions, network stream management, file I/O, etc. This control software communicated with our backend service software which was located in a co-location facility.

As part of the market strategy, we needed to take a hard look at everything we were doing and identify which things were critical to building long-term value and which things were more of a distraction. This kind of focus is critical to a small company trying to build sustained, differentiated value. It's easy to be distracted by cool ideas, or be tempted to build something that others have already done. Don't let this happen to you!

We were able to quickly come to a few important conclusions - First, the really hard part of what we were doing (the secret sauce) was the network DVR software that ran on the dedicated PC server. And, since PC hardware has been mostly comodotized, it didn't really make sense for us to be building PC hardware. In order to focus on what really mattered, I recommended we discontinue the MX1000 server and build a software installer so that our server software could be installed on any Windows XP computer. It could be self-installed by a technically capable consumer or setup by a professional installer.

The second part of the decision was in the area of our target market. If we wanted to sell the hardware we had already designed, we needed to target the appropriate channels of distribution. The high-end market was very focused on HDTV deployments and our products were mainly SD. So, we decided to scale back on our efforts to sell through the custom installer channels and focus instead on direct-to-consumer sales (online & retail).

On the HDTV (hardware & software) front, we knew that the general consumer market would eventually demand HD support. However, the rights management issues for streaming HDTV around the home were still being worked out, and it was looking like many of the things you could do on a home network with SD programing were going to be restricted in HD. This could end up delaying market adoption and make it difficult for competitors as well. At best, we felt that a completely secure DRM solution would be required (i.e. Windows DRM) and possibly the Vista operating system as well. So, we decided to pursue HD as a longer term part of our strategy rather than make it a condition of our short-term success.

Now that we had decided to simplify our product offering and sell them direct to consumers, we had to make sure we delivered the right feature set for today's market requirements.

more to come in part 3.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Why I use Netscape - but almost stopped

I use Netscape for two reasons, the first historical, and the second technical. First, the history. In 1993, I was working at FTI. This was back in the day when small companies couldn't really afford a broadband T-1 connection, so we downloaded our email messages via a modem on our server and surfed the newsgroups at 9,600 baud. Late that year (November-ish) I read a story about a product called Mosaic. It was a college project, led primarily by Marc Andreessen that allowed you to browse fromatted information (html) over the Internet. I thought it was so cool, I arraged to get access to a Sun workstation at a friends company over the weekend to try it out. We downloaded Mosaic 1.0 and had a blast surfing the handful of sites on the Internet. I honestly believe that we could have surfed the entire Internet in a few hours.

I went on to work for SGI a few months later, just as Jim Clark was leaving to form Netscape with the afore-mentioned Andreessen. Their new browser, Netscape Navigator was the primary browser on SGI (a Unix platform) for the 4 years I worked there. So, I stuck with Netscape for many years. Since the acquistion of Netscape by AOL, Netscape has been completely re-architected from the ground up.

What I like about the Netscape product is that it supports multiple rendering engines in the same browser. Instead of needing to have two browsers, one for sites that only support IE and one for performance and features (that would be Firefox), you get the best of both worlds in one pretty darned good browser. For instance, Netscape lets you choose to use the IE engine for browsing your banking site, and the Firefox engine for general web browsing. It remembers your preferences on a domain-by-domain basis so that you rarely have to switch over to another browser.

Things were working great until last week when Netscape 8.1.2 started freezing every couple of minutes. My CPU usage would spike to 100% and the browser would just hang. It isn't clear that anyone knows the exact cause of this problem, but it appears to be related to some sort of statistics function in the browser. Updates from Microsoft and Java are both suspected. A long discussion is going on here. If you've found this post and are looking for the answer, here was the workaround that fixed the problem for me.

1. Use Notepad to open the file: C:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts

2. Add the following line at the end of the file:
127.0.0.1 ns8-stats.netscape.com # block netscape stats

I'm happy to say I am posting this from Netscape and the freeze-ups are completely gone.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Whatever makes you feel better

This article from GMSV this morning alerted me to a prior story from the NYT. The original story claims that DVR owners still watch 50% to 60% of commercials. This statistic apparently coming from the same Nielsen group which thinks that the behavior of 5,000 television viewing individuals gives them full insight into what 110 million TV homes are doing.

At TiVo, we sampled the behavior of roughly 40,000 viewers every day, and reported commercial skipping behavior closer to 80%, leaving commercial viewing closer to 20%. This research included live TV viewing behavior, and highlighted just how many people actually paused live TV for a while (even when the show was live) so that they could then fast-forward over the commercials. About the only programming which was truly watched live was sporting events and award shows.

I'm afraid the NYT may have been duped on this one.

The continuing fair-use debate

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about Steve Job's open letter to the industry on DRM. It was a rather casual post, because I'm kind of following this issue from the sidelines right now. I do recognize the irony in Steve making these statements when Apple themselves have built an almost entirely closed ecosystem around iTunes (content->store->software->players). Opening up the content itself really just makes it easier for people to manage this same content using Apple's closed system.

That said, I found it equally interesting to see the Macrovision CEO fire back at Jobs today. For those of you that aren't aware of Macrovision, they are one of the largest players in the content protection business (i.e. DRM). So, they're basically as un-biased as Steve is in all of this - meaning *not*. There's some really amusing commentary on this over at Boing Boing.

In the short-term, it seems highly unlikely that any major changes are going to occur in the content business to make it easier to access your own purchased music. If anything, the major players (like Microsoft, etc.) are spending vasts amounts of resources making it harder to access your own content from multiple locations. At the end of the day, the content owners are counting on you to pay for access to the same content on multiple devices. Look at the ringtone business. It's a muti-billion dollar business that in many cases just helps consumers snip pieces out of songs they have already purchased and make them available on their phones.

There's too much money at stake for Steve to win this battle anytime soon. But, it seems kind of silly for Macrovision to be weighing in on this. Does anyone really care what they think?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

DD Part1 - Know your market

This is the first in a series of posts about my involvement with Digital Deck, being careful not to reveal anything confidential.

I joined Digital Deck in the summer of '05 with Bob DeFeo to help turn the company around. They had been in business since 1999 and had some great technology. But, they hadn't been able to deliver a successful product to the market and were kind of stalled. Bob is a high-energy, charismatic leader. He has a track record of helping small companies find their way, but he didn't have any consumer product experience. So, it was my responsibility to plot the strategic course for the product roadmap.

DD had a closed home network entertainment system comprised of a dedicated server, the MX1000 and a 2-way digital media adapter, the eDeck. It was priced at around $4000 for a 3-room system (1 MX & 3 eDecks) and DD was targeting the high-end home theater integrators (the CEDIA channel). The problem with this strategy was that by 2005, these high-end dealers were primarily installing high definition television solutions. The DD products were standard definition. And, the closed nature of the sytem meant that it was awkward for customers to integrate their own digital music and photos into the DD network DVR system.

So, we either had to change the product or change the market. It was unlikely we were going to get very far with the feature/market mis-match. As I posted recently, it's critical to make sure you understand the needs of your target market in order to be successful.

continued in Part2.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Fun with SMS

Tuesday I had lunch with a friend, Zaw Thet. I was first introduced to Zaw when he was in charge of business development at Spoke and I was in charge of product marketing at TiVo. I later met him in person and blogged about him then. Zaw is now the CEO of 4INFO. 4INFO is an SMS service which let's you query (or get mobile alerts) on things like sports, weather, stocks, movie showtimes, and more.

Last fall, 4INFO announced their open platform and launched it at the DEMOfall 2006 conference. Zaw talks more about open platform here, and Scoble did a great interview (and demo) with Zaw here.

What I think is really great about open platform is that you can create your own keyword actions and send your requests through their short-code (44636). Here's a simple example: Text message "tedmalone" (without the quotes) to the phone number 44636. You will receive a menu of options to get more contact information for me. It's an interactive, SMS business card.

You can try a new use of 4INFO's open platform that you're reading here first. I've been working on a side project in the wine technology space. I'm not ready to launch the product yet, but you can get a sneak peek with part of it this way. Text message "vino year wine" (without the quotes) to 44636 and see what you get. An example query would be: "vino 2001 silver oak cabernet". Enjoy!

Recruiters & The signing bonus

I recently had a nice sushi lunch with a recruiter friend of mine, Amy Vernetti who works with Taylor Winfield. She recently wrote an interesting article for Matt's gig (great read btw) about how more-and-more companies are back to offering signing bonuses to attract good candidates. Good news for executives, but not so good news for early-stage companies.

What's really great about Amy is that she's a person first, and a recruiter second. She establishes relationships, and maintains them even when she's not working on a relevant search. She knows you don't build your rolodex by just going out and asking everyone for referrals. She gets business because people want to work with her. I like working with her, because I enjoy her as a person, not just because I want her to get me a job.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Venturing into Northern Italy

After lunch in Innsbruck, we headed south to Italy. Rather than motor straight on through to Lake Garda, I planned a short stopover in Bolzano.

Bolzano is an interesting town, because it used to be part of Austria and was called Bozen. When trying to map the town (on Google and in the car's navigation system), you have to know the Italian names since it is technically part of Italy now. However, many of the people in the area still use the Austrian names for the town and the streets. It makes it a bit difficult to find things.

I did some research and found an up-and-coming family winery, Glögglhof in Bolzano, part of the Trentino Alto Adige area. The wine maker, Franz Gojer, has received worldwide recognition for his skills (in a very cult way).

We tasted several of their wines, including the Lagrein and a very nice Merlot. While this region is very well known for their crisp, flavorful white wines, the Glögglhof red wines were solid and enjoyable. A private tasting with the family Gojer made it all the more memorable. As you can see from the photos, it was a very hot day and we worked up quite a sweat hiking through the hilly vineyard on our tour of their property. The air-conditioned tasting room was a welcome break.

Also in Bolzano, believe it or not, is a Harley Davidson dealer (english link: HD Bolzano). Although I ride an Arlen Ness Kingpin, my traveling companion is a Harley owner. After our visit to the Glögglhof winery, we stopped at the Harley dealer to pick up some local swag. Ken bought me a great t-shirt that I frequently wear when I'm riding. Thanks dude!


To see just the posts from this trip, click here.

Cut the cord

There was an interesting story in the USA Today yesterday on consumer VoIP. It's about how voice-over-IP communication is entering the mainstream now, and how more and more consumers are cutting the cord from their traditional landline phones. I stopped using a landline phone back in December of 2005. Instead, I use Skype for many of my outgoing phone calls when I'm at home.

For me, the article was quite timely. This morning, I was talking to a friend on my cell phone during my drive into the office. The call was a Jangl call, and I was using the bluetooth handsfree speakerphone in my car. Jangl is a really interesting consumer application which is built on top of a VoIP backbone. Jangl then provides software features via their website that let you control your incoming and outgoing calls. The bluetooth connection is also a short-range IP connection, mainly for connecting smaller devices over short distances. On the other end, the person I was speaking to was using a Vonage line in their home

So, I had an IP phone call (from Vonage) going through an IP backbone (Jangl) to a local IP connection in my car (bluetooth). I had one of those technology moments where you really start to realize how technology has changed our lives.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The secret to good marketing

Over the last 12 years, I've had the chance to meet and work with dozens (maybe hundreds) of smart entrepreneurs. One thing I've noticed is that the same climate and formula that helps get companies funded can create an environment where these same companies are so focused on their idea that they forget to find out if there is a real market for it.

It is not the job of marketing to go and find a market for a product that people think sounds cool (even if it did get funded). Successful marketing focuses on customer-centric design. Marketing should identify the target market, target customer, potential competitors and relevant market trends. Customer-centric marketing requires clear identification of market need and a plan to deliver a competitive product which addresses these customer needs. This should be done in conjunction with engineering and the rest of the executive team to ensure the approach is rational. Marketing should be able to communicate this plan internally in a way that is actionable by engineering.

Marketing should be able to communicate the value proposition for the product to their prospective customers and help establish a user base which validates the product approach. They should also develop and communicate the company positioning in the market-place to ensure long-term viability and differentiation.

The leaders of these companies need to be diligent in their focus on building products which are succesful in the marketplace. Value is created by sticky user adoption and the kind of enthusiasm for your product that your customers want to tell people they know about how it changed their life, made their life better, etc. This also helps establish a brand which has lasting value. Frequently, the products which have proven to be successful in the marketplace were not the ones that had the most features or the most sophisticated technology. Good marketing people help keep the company focused on the bottom line.

TiVo / Amazon - Unbox can't really succeed

I posted last week about the new Unbox service from Amazon & TiVo. Others have even speculated on what this may mean for potential competitors. While this will certainly be a great new feature for existing customers, and an interesting service for Amazon & TiVo, one major question remains for me on the business front. Who is paying for it, and how can it possibly scale?

Over the years, I've looked at the economics of video delivery over the Internet (cost of bandwidth, etc.) In order to make money at a tolerable consumer pricepoint, you need to get the audio/video bitrate down below about 1.0 mbps, preferably closer to 512 kbps. To do this and still maintain a reasonable quality level, you need an advanced video codec (i.e. WMV9/VC1 or MPEG4.) Note: current TiVo DVR's record video between around 1.2mbps (basic quality) and 6mbps (best quality).

The installed base of TiVo Series2 DVR's use Broadcom mpeg decoders that are only capable of decoding mpeg-1 and mpeg-2 formated video. Even the new Series3 from TiVo uses a Broadcom part that can only decode mpeg-2 (at least it's HD!). If TiVo had used a newer part (like this one), at least their new hardware would support better codecs. But, they designed the Series3 architecture before this part was readily available.

So, in order to deliver videos over broadband to the 1.5M broadband enabled TiVo boxes, the quality is either going to be sub-optimal or someone is going to be losing money. And, unless bandwidth costs drop by a significant amount, the economics for this service may always be "upside down".


So, that's why I say Unbox can't really succeed. If everyone starts using it, even Amazon is going to eventually notice the costs associated with delivering video to people at a loss. If nobody uses it, then it doesn't really matter, does it?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

New Steven Kent wine release

Yesterday was a fun day, because Steven Kent released the 2004 vintage of his club wine, Vincere (Vincere is the verb "to win" in Italian). Vincere is a super tuscan blend of two varietals, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese. Cabernet is a very popular American varietal, and Sangiovese is the predominant grape used for Italian Chianti (Tuscany).

The history of super tuscan wines is kind of interesting. Like other European countries, Italy very closely controls the naming and classification of wines from the different, authorized sub-regions in Italy. Becuase Cabernet is an imported grape, Italian wineries were required to label them "table wines". It was kind of tough for them to sell $50 bottles of table wine, regardless of quality. Luckily, the IGT came along and created a new category of wines which don't have the certified region stamp on them, but instead receive a form of quality endorsement. It's not cheap (~$75), but if you want to try one of the best super-tuscans out there, try the Antinori 2003 Tignanello. A few other Italian wines I really enjoy are:

The history of Steven Kent is equally interesting. The winemaker, Steven Kent Mirassou, is descended from one of the longest-established winery families in America. The Mirassou's are descendants of French brothers Louis and Pierre Pellier, who brought the first Pinot Noir grapes (and prunes & plums) to California in the 1850s and planted them in what is now Santa Clara County. The Mirassou family sold its brand name to E. & J. Gallo Winery of Modesto in 2002. So, the Mirassou wines you see in your local grocery store are not related to the original Mirassou family.

Steven's release this year is a blend of 55% Sangiovese and 45% Cabernet from the Home Ranch vineyard in Livermore. He produces around 400 cases of Vincere each year. It was drinking nicely yesterday after having breathed for a while. But, after opening a 2003 a couple of weeks ago, I think I'll let mine lie down for a year before opening. I would recommend pairing it with something like pasta with a slightly spicy red sauce.

BTW, Steven also has a great tradition of using a work of art as the original for each of his club wine labels. Some of the labels have been created by his kids, others by artists on canvas. A few originals are displayed in the barrel room where their tasting room is located. Check them out if you're there. Click on the Vincere logo below and you can see some of his other labels.

click to view more

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Things only a kid would say

Okay, the kids have had a couple of *really* cute quotes lately that I have to share. From my 5-year-old daughter, there's:

1. "I've got a great idea. Wouldn't it be great if there was school every day of the week!?"
2. "Hey daddy, can I do the dishes instead of you?" followed by her actually doing the dishes well and having fun doing them.

I thought those were the best until my 3-year-old son (recently potty-trained) ran out of the bathroom today with only a shirt on (nothing below the waist) and yelled "Look, I'm naked!"

Friday, February 09, 2007

Go fly a Kyte

My buddy Josh introduced me to the new COO at Decentral.tv this week, Andre Sevigny. Decentral TV's mission is "to connect like-minded people by allowing real-time collaboration through rich-media." Their Kyte product let's you build your own TV channels, embedding images, slideshows, videos, polls, etc. all into your own interactive channel. You have basic editing functions to layout your channel, you can create title slates, photo captions, and the like. Then, you can broadcast your channel from their site (you get your own URL) or you can snip it from their site like a widget and paste it onto your own website, blog or profile page.

It sounds like a lot of other products, until you pick up on the other part of their mission statement, "allowing real-time collaboration". What you can do is tune into these virtual channels around the web and interact in real-time with other viewers (live chat). One person may be watching the channel from the Kyte.tv website, while another viewer may be watching it from my blog. The viewers can now chat and interact with each other via the Kyte player. Pretty cool.

I haven't spent a lot of time with it yet, but I did create a simple channel using some digital photos from when my daughter and I went to The Nutcracker back in December. I'm going to embed the channel here to see how things work. Check it out.

kyteWatch it BigCreate your own TV
p.s. - If you need a Flash update, get it here.