Month: May 2007

May 30 2007

The Computer Should Be Doing the Work for Us

Bruce Wyman, the Director of Technology at the Denver Art Museum, sent me a beautiful demo from TED2007 by Blaise Aguera y Arcas of Photosynth.  In addition to being graphically brilliant, it’s a phenomenal example of how the computer infrastructure should be doing all the work (rather than the user.)

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May 30 2007

Intense Running

On the outside, he is a quiet calm of a man.  Watching him sitting and contemplating the madness surrounding him, you sense a deep serenity.  Inside, however, the fires burn with hot intensity.  Sometimes they burst out to the surface – a head twitch here, a leg shake there – but it’s never more apparent then when you look in his eyes. At first glance, you see a deep peacefulness.  At closer inspection, you see a fire burning bright, forged deep in his soul.  Everything is lighthearted; nothing is casual.  He considers the Barkley Marathon.  What would Francisco d’Anconia do? (Thanks Herb.)

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May 30 2007

What Do Photobucket and Last.fm Have in Common?

The number “2” (and in $250m and $280m.)  Announcements at the WSJ D Conference?  The checkbooks appear to be out in force again.

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May 30 2007

Young Entrepreneur Interview on ABC News

ABC interviews Ben Casnocha about entrepreneurship around Ben’s book tour for My Start-Up Life: What a (Very) Young CEO Learned on His Journey Through Silicon Valley.  If you’ve never met Ben, I hope you’ve at least heard me raving about him.  This interview will give you a sense for the brilliance that is Ben at 19.

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May 29 2007

Human Computer Interaction Awakens

I expect one of the big buzzes tomorrow will be Microsoft’s Surface Computing initiative.  The first articles are appearing and on10 has a First Look: Microsoft Surfacing Computing! video up that shows off a great demonstration.

I’ve recently been exploring a theme I call “Human Computer Interaction.”  A metaphor speaks volumes – if you remember John Anderton in the movie Minority Report, you can envision a much more interesting way to interact with a computer than using a mouse and keyboard.

Several experiences, including my investment in Harmonix Music Systems (the makers of Guitar Hero), finally coalesced in my mind about a year ago resulting in the idea that there was a real opportunity around creating platforms and applications to change the way that humans interact with computers.  This isn’t a “consumer” problem or an “enterprise” problem – it spans the entire spectrum of computing applications.

I’ve made one new investment in this area and expect to make several others in the next few years.  Of all the things I’ve played with and thought about in the past year, this area has the greatest opportunity to radically transform the way computers work.  For a while, I’ve been suggesting to anyone that will listen (mostly my dog) that I’m ready for my implant that will jack me directly into the metaverse.  As each day comes, I get a step closer.

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May 29 2007

Software Lives A Long Time

My friend Shawn Broderick (currently CEO / founder of TrustPlus) just wrote a blog post wishing Chron X a happy 10th birthday.  I was an investor in Genetic Anomalies – the company that Shawn started that created Chron X – and I remember being intrigued by the idea of “virtual property” in 1997.  Amazingly – 10 years later – Chron X is still around and virtual property is now commonplace.

It’s been a little over 20 years since the first major production system that I wrote went live.  It was creatively named “Bellflower Dental Group Patient Management System.”  As of a few years ago it was still being used (yes – at Bellflower Dental Group) – I wonder if it’s still happily pumping out insurance bills for root canals.

While 10 years might seem like a long time in the software industry, as the industry ages, it’s not so long anymore.

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May 29 2007

Scratch – A New Programming Language

40 years ago Logo was created.  When I was at MIT in the 1980’s, I worked for a semester as a UROP (undergraduate research opportunities program) in Seymour Papert’s lab.  The Coleco Adam had just come out and was going to revolutionize the world of home computing with a variety of features, including a version of Logo the lab I was in was porting to it.  Anyone remember the Coleco Adam? 

Recently, the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab released (or at least publicized) Scratch.  After playing around with it for a little while this morning, it’s obvious to see Scratch’s roots in Logo.  However, the creators of Scratch have also built an underlying social network for all Scratch programmers / programs / users.  This is the hidden power – within five minutes of exploring I started to find all kinds of interesting programs that I could look at that helped me learn how Scratch worked.  In addition, all the normal social network things applied (e.g. in “My Stuff” I have friends, requests, galleries, projects, and favorites.)

Learning how to program is hard.  I learned on an Apple II in Basic and 6502 machine language.  That impacted how my brain is wired since I was 13 at the time.  Today, when I look at something like Scratch, I can see how the next generation of computer scientists (who are < 10 right now) are going to think about software completely differently than me.  That’s good.

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May 29 2007

TechStars Week 1

David has a summary of the great first week at TechStars.  The Intense Debate guys weighed in with a post of their own and the energy in the room was huge on Thursday night when I was part of a panel with Greg Reinacker, Andrew Currie, and Jason Mendelson.  It’s pretty awesome to hang out with 26 people that are at the very early stage of creating new companies, completely fearless, and focused on doing something great. 

One lesson from their backyard came if any of them ran in the Bolder Boulder.  If you don’t know about the Bolder Boulder, it’s a 10k race run in Boulder on Memorial Day that is now one of the largest 10k’s in the world.  This year everyone had an RFID chip on their shoe and was tracked throughout the race.  According to Steve Outing (I didn’t run it – I went and hid in Keystone for the weekend) there were a few problems – as Steve says, Version 1.0 seldom works well. 

To bad there wasn’t Facebook integration also.  That way you could check out how your friends were doing during the race on your cell phone while you were running.  Or you could just follow Tim Wolters advice and be Mindfulness.

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May 28 2007

Time to Stuff the Ballot Box

I’m amused by the endless awards that our industry bestows on people and companies, but I can’t avoid the seduction of asking you to vote.  I promise you don’t have to make choices between Clinton and Obama – yet.

The Webware 100 are up for selection.  Several of my friends are listed as candidates.  

Please vote early and often (ok – you only get to vote once – so early will have to do) for them.

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May 27 2007

The Best Start-Up Haiku

Scott Yates won a copy of Ben Casnocha’s book My Start-Up Life: What a (Very) Young CEO Learned on His Journey Through Silicon Valley with the best haiku in the contest I had last week.  There are 20 of them – many great.  Ben chose the winner – it’s as follows:

startups, like parents,
get heaps of good, bad advice.
which bits to ignore?

Nicely done Scott.

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