Brad Feld

Month: January 2006

I decided today was a retro day at the office and decided to see if some of my old computers still worked.  My dad cleaned out his attic last week and sent me all of my old computers.

My Compaq Plus – which hadn’t been booted up since 1988 – started up immediately.  While it had PFS Write and WordPerfect on it, there was no TCP/IP stack or Ethernet card.  So – I downshifted to my old Apple II.

Remarkably – it also booted up immediately.  I don’t think it had been turned on since 1984.  After staring at my old Silentype thermal printer for a few seconds, I decided to go back to work.

Niel Robertson, the CTO of Newmerix, has what I anticipate will become a legendary blog post up called I Pity The Fool that dissects Oracle’s recent “Half Way To Fusion” event.  In addition to casting John Wookey (Oracle’s SVP of Application Development) as Mr. T, Niel does an extraordinary job of walking through what Oracle has announced and what he thinks it means for Oracle’s customers.  If you use (or more importantly are responsible for managing and deploying) Oracle, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, or Siebel applications, you must read this.  At the minimum you’ll get a great laugh out of it.


Jan 30, 2006
Category Random

Other than reading a bunch of blog posts about the Google / China thing, I hadn’t paid much attention to it.  Early today, I got an email that fits the proverbial “picture is worth a thousand words” cliche.

I wasn’t able to try this using chinese characters (er – I don’t know chinese and I’m tired and lazy after running a marathon yesterday) so this might be a spoof.  But – if not – enough said.

This was another marathon weekend for me.  Amy and I spent the past week at our friend Jared Polis’s apartment in South Beach getting acclimated. I ran the Miami Marathon today – knocking another state of the list in my quest to run a marathon in every state by the time I turn 50 (I’ve done 6 and I recently turned 40.)

South Beach has been a trip.  When I was a kid, my dad’s parents lived in Hollywood Hills and I remember never being allowed to go to South Beach because it was “too dangerous.”  I’ve been here several times over the past few years and dig the scene, even though I’m not a late night party guy.  Jared’s place is perfectly located on the corner of 14th and Ocean, which happens to be the turn at the 6 mile mark of the marathon. 

I was anxious this time around – my last marathon was New York on November 7th – so there wasn’t much time between marathons.  My longest training run this cycle was 2:30 which is shorter then my normal long run (3:00 – 3:30), although I did it on a treadmill in a room that was 90 degrees to try to simulate the heat, followed by a 2:00 run the next day.  The rational part of my brain knew I was ready; the irrational part got spun up a little.

The marathon was well organized and sponsored by ING, the same lead sponsor for the New York Marathon.  It was much smaller (about 10,000 runners total – half doing the marathon; half doing the half-marathon).  The course starts in downtown Miami, starts early at 6am, cruises over the MacArthur Causeway to South Beach, through Miami Beach, back over The Venetian Causeway, through downtown (where the half marathon ends), to Coconut Grove, and then back to downtown. 

Since I felt a little nervous, I went out slow with a goal of finishing in 5 hours.  I put the Coverville 2005 top 40 countdown on my iPod Shuffle and settled into a rhythm.  When I passed 14th and Ocean, I stopped for a minute, gave Amy a kiss, and grabbed a Clif Bar from her.  I continued to cruise through the half way point and started feeling strong, at which point my headphones broke.  I continued music free and – at 16 – decided to pick up the pace since I felt that 4:45 might be in sight.  At 19 miles I knew I had made a mistake and backed off, but still ran out of gas at 21 and slammed hard into the proverbial wall.  My lonely miles are usually 13 to 18 – today is was 21 to 24.  It had gotten hot, my legs were completely stiff, and my brain wasn’t working any more.  I got a brief second win at 24 and saw that 5 hours was still a possibility so I pushed it as hard as I could for the balance of the run.  When I encountered one of the only hills on the course at 25.75, I knew I wasn’t going to make 5 hours, but kept up the effort, enjoying the thrill of cruising by my fellow runners.  The finish line finally came into sight and before I knew it, I was done.

Six down, a bunch to go.  Next up – the 110th Boston Marathon.

The guys at FeedBurner have had a busy week.  Earlier this week – they announced that their FeedFlare service – which they announced in December – could now be incorporated directly into a blog with one line of javascript.

As an example, let’s look how FeedFlare impacts the post “The Coming Irrelevance of My.Yahoo For Me.” If you get my feed, you’ve noticed the following in the footer:

Now, you’ll notice the following on my blog:

The first line of my blog footer is my standard (and historical) footer.  The second line is the FeedFlare.  Today there are a relatively limited number of Flare’s available, including “Email This”, “Email The Author”, “Technorati Links”, “Add to”, and “Subscribe To This Feed” (only on the blog, not in the feed, since you are already subscribed to the feed!) 

However, there are a lot more FeedFlare’s coming.  In addition, the FeedFlare API is coming, so anyone can create a FeedFlare that automatically plugs in.  If you’ve got suggestions for FeedFlare’s that you’d like to see, comment away.

After reading Fooled By Randomness, I found myself becoming increasingly annoyed by the information on My.Yahoo page.  I’ve had My.Yahoo as my default home page since 1997 or so and probably have it refresh (deliberately or otherwise) at least 100 times a day (more than 300,000 page views during that time of just the main Yahoo page.)  I use it primarily to track news on about 150 public companies that I follow regularly.  If you’d asked me a year ago, I’d have told you that I couldn’t live without it.  I’ve tried to switch to other things (including My.MSN) but no dice – I’m just too used to My.Yahoo.

Recently, I’ve noticed that there are several annoying things to me:

  1. The stock prices are listed on the left hand side.  These prices have no impact on me daily (I don’t trade public stocks regularly) so seeing them throughout the day is useless other than the emotional and intellectual distraction of seeing the stock movements.
  2. I find myself paging down multiple times a day just to see if I can find “anything new.”  This unnecessarily interrupts the flow of my day and is a great time wasting, distraction, and procrastination technique.
  3. I often miss stuff since I have the news for each company set to “the most recent five items.” 

All of these are relatively easy to deal with.  I can “hide” the quotes using the little right triangle thing.  I can be more self-disciplined.  I can be more deliberate about what I look at.  Yet, I find that I don’t do these “little” things.  In addition, after reading Fooled By Randomness, I have completely bought into the idea that watching stock movements through the day (or week, or month) is hazardous to your health and happiness if you aren’t a professional trader (and then they still might be hazardous to your health), so eliminating the tendency completely is a good thing.  I still want to read all the news and information and form my own point of view about what is going on, but without being distracted by the market movements.

So – two days ago – on a whim – I methodically went through my entire stock list and subscribed to the news for each stock via RSS.  I’d already done this for most of the newspaper and wire feeds that I follow, but I hadn’t done this for the stock news.  For example, for Apple, I went to the Yahoo Finance Page for AAPL and then subscribed to the AAPL News RSS feed in FeedDemon.  Yeah – simple idea – but after using it for 48 hours it’s remarkably liberating.  I looked at My.Yahoo once each day just to insure I wasn’t missing anything and didn’t notice anything that I hadn’t seen somewhere else.

Now, I’m a high volume feed reader and have always consumed a huge amount of industry and company news on a daily basis, but when I stepped back and thought about the information flow, I realized I was much happier and less distracted this way.  The effective result was that I’ve now switched a large number of personal CPM ad impressions from the My.Yahoo site to the feeds I read.  Now, I’m still reading content from Yahoo, but I’m consuming it in a radically different (and for me – much more effective – way).

It’s always really exciting when a portfolio company hits its inflection point and has a year of extreme growth.  All venture backed companies always predict their growth will follow a “hockey stick curve”, e.g.

 This of course is the exception, not the norm, for the vast majority of startups.  Stratify had its hockey stick in 2005 – by the end of the year we’d had over 400% growth off of a multi-million dollar base revenue from 2004.  While it’s easy to sit back and be delighted (or even a little stunned), there is no end in sight, which is a tribute to Ramana Venkata and his awesome team.

Stratify released v6.0 of their Legal Discovery Service this week.  If you are a corporate litigator or a company involved in litigation of any sort, you should explore working with Stratify.  Their hockey stick is not an accident – the software (and the company) they’ve created is extraordinary.

FeedBurner launched its Japanese site today with its Japanese partner GMO Affiliate.  While I can’t read any of the Japanese on the site, I’m am assured that it says the same interesting things as the English FeedBurner site and does the same things, with some fun, exciting, and hot new Japanese features (that presumably I can’t read either.)  There were around 350 feeds “FeedBurnered” in the first 12 hours.  Yet another step in FeedBurner’s attempt to provide publishers like you and me help in taming all the world’s feeds that are out in the wild.

This beautiful web movie is the first thing in a long time that’s made me think of my old Honda Accord (owned circa 1990, vintage 1984, brown, four door).  It didn’t really feel (or sound) like this, but memories age nicely.  Thanks Chris (for the ad) and Eric (for the Honda.)