Month: November 2007

Nov 18 2007

The Last Bastion of Analog

I’ve started telling people that when we look back 20 years from now, the way we use computers today will look quaint, sort of like punch cards and room sized computers do today.

The "book" is also on my list of quaint things.  I don’t think the book is fundamentally going anywhere – yet.  While the promise of the electronic book has been a promise for a long time, Amazon’s Kindle might finally deliver on it.  Steven Levy has a great article on it in Newsweek titled The Future of Reading (which I – ahem – read online.) 

I’ve had a Sony eReader for a year and I "like" it, but don’t love it.  The selection of books is weak (I still buy 10 physical books for everyone 1 ebook), it sucks at handling non-Sony eReader format (e.g. PDF’s), it’s not connected to the Internet (so I have to buy books on the computer and connect my eReader to sync them), and it has a bunch of little quirks that add up over time.

I don’t know if Kindle will nail everything, but the description of it sounds awesome.  Once I get one and use it for a little while I’ll tell you more.  Regardless, I expect I’ll still be lugging my books around with me for a while.

Nov 18 2007

Help Me With My New MacBook Pro

In the past month, I’ve had two situations where I came within three seconds of grabbing my Lenovo x60 (running Vista) and smashing it on the ground, stomping up and down on it, and then lighting it on fire.  The only thing that kept me from doing this was that I didn’t have a video camera handy and didn’t want to waste a Youtube content creation moment (e.g. "VC accidentally burns down office building after being driven crazy by laptop – full story at 6 o’clock.")

Last week, after my Lenovo x60 rebooted three times (and ate 30 minutes of my life) in the middle of my day, I decided that it was time to try something different.  So – I’ve ordered a MacBook Pro which arrived on Friday.

2.4GHz 7200rpm Intel Core 2 Duo Processor, 4GB RAM, 160GB Hard Drive,  SuperDrive 8x (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW), 10/100/1000 Ethernet, WiFi 802.11b/g, Bluetooth 2.0 EDR, 15" Widescreen

I’m looking for software help.  What should I get?  I’m loading it up will all the obvious stuff (Office, VMWare, Parallels, EVDO) but looking for friendly hints and tips, especially for a guy who has spent the last 10 years living in Windows.

Please comment freely.

Nov 18 2007

Phew – Time to Go Home

I’m sitting at the W Hotel in Union Square as Amy packs up.  We are finally heading home to Boulder after being on the road for 10 days.  We had an awesome time this week in Manhattan – one of our favorite cities away from home.  But – we are both fried from full days and awesome dinners / late nights.  Plus, our pants are tight.

Earlier this week I had a fascinating couple of hours with some smart friends talking about email.  Two hours later, we had a lot more questions and things to think about.  Some of the thoughts are up on the blogs of Fred Wilson, Tom Evslin, and Jeff Pulver.  Fred’s insight that we are really taking about "messaging", not "email" is an important one.

I just heard them say the word "delicious" on TV and my brain parsed it as  I just went out in the hallway of the fifth floor and told the three kids running around yelling at each other to chill out a little.  Time to go home.

Nov 15 2007

More on Email Before A Day of Email

If you are following along at home, a gang of us are getting together in NY today to discuss email.  Tom Evslin – one of the gang – has a blog post on his pre-meeting thoughts titled Thinking AloudI just read a pile of stuff about email in Slate including The Death of E-Mail.  Don Dodge (who I should have invited to this meeting) and I have had a fascinating exchange (pun intended) about this over the past few days.  This will undoubtedly be a interesting meeting.

Nov 15 2007

Facebook Apps for Business

CIO Magazine, that paragon of business wisdom, has a a list of five Five Favorite Facebook Widgets for Business Users.  My TechStars friends J-Squared weigh in on the list with Sticky Notes.   Entertaining.

Nov 15 2007

Really Big, Really Bad Ideas

Hedge fund Pardus Capital Management which owns 2.6% of Delta and 4.82% of United is urging them to merge.  While this might be good for Pardus, as a frequent traveler on United out of DIA, this sounds like a really bad idea to me.  Probably 50% of the flights that I’ve been on since United came out of bankruptcy have had some sort of problem (mechanical, routing, crew delay, undermined) and I have several situations where the plane simply didn’t show up. 

I’m actually starting to be impressed with the TSA folks – in comparison to United.  At least my experience with them is more random and entertaining – I never really know what to expect.  With United, I’ve become conditioned to just expect that things aren’t going to go as planned.

Nov 14 2007

The Evolution of ClosedPrivate

Brad's new ventureAt BlogWorld last week, there was a lot of chatter about ClosedPrivate.  Several of the key members of the initiative are blogging up a storm about it and there have been invitations to conferences to discuss ClosedPrivate vs. OpenSocial.

Lijit has even managed to turn me into a search wijit.  My favorite search term – ClosedPrivate.

Yes – we had a lot of fun at BlogWorld, even though we ate way too much sushi at Nobu on Thursday night.  Ok – it was the sake that did us in, not the sushi.

Nov 14 2007

Thinking About Email

Is it possible that I’m thinking about the same stuff this morning as Fred Wilson and Jeff Pulver?  Fred just put up a post titled The Biggest Social Graphs and Jeff just posted Social Media is changing the Face of Communications

Well – ok – yeah.  We’re getting together tomorrow, along with a couple of other friends including Matt Blumberg and Tom Evslin to talk about this stuff.

Paraphrasing a recent email from Fred – "Email is Dead, Long Live Email."

Nov 14 2007

Frank Gehry’s Painful MIT Experience

I spent seven years at MIT and managed to pick up two degrees before they kicked me out.  I describe the place using the 10/40/50 rule.  10% of the people there are off the chart brilliant and nothing phases them.  40% of the people are extremely smart, figure out the system, and make it through with moderate but not life threatening scars.  50% of the people are extremely smart, but never figure out the system and their experience at MIT is a "daily assault on their self esteem."  Fortunately, I was in the 40%.

Stata CenterIn 2004, Frank Gehry’s amazingly designed Stata Center (home of the MIT Computer Science AI Lab) opened to much fanfare.  It’s as fascinating inside as it is outside. Lots of really interesting people have offices there and wandering around in the place is like living inside a Dr. Seuss book (while looking at it is like staring at a Dr. Seuss world.)

The first time I actually saw the building (in the winter of 2004), my first thought was something like "man – this thing is going to be trouble."  I love architecture (I’m an architect in a parallel universe), but I lived in Boston for 12 years and all I could think about was stuff like "so – what happens when the ice falls off the roof and breaks through a window." 

Apparently that question is currently being addressed.  On 10/31/07, MIT sued Frank Gehry (and Skanska USA – the construction firm) claiming negligence and a breach of contractual obligations.  I’m not big on lawsuits, but I loved Joanne Wilson’s post on it titled M.I.T. and GehryIf you’ve ever done a big construction project, I’ll bet you can identify with what Joanne said.

At the same time, I also loved John Maeda’s post on it titled Leaks Are To Be ForgivenMaeda’s office is in the I.M. Pei designed Media Lab, the "bathtub building" that was built while I was in school there but that has nicely stood the test of time and is now being expanded by via a design from Fumihiko Maki.

It appears Frank Gehry is having his "MIT 50% experience."

Nov 14 2007

Where Is Microsoft In This Party?

I’m completely baffled.  Yesterday, Saul Hansell of the New York Times had an article titled Inbox 2.0: Yahoo and Google to Turn E-Mail Into a Social NetworkSaul’s article is short and punchy, but excruciatingly obvious to anyone that has been playing with email for a while.

The amount of "social network" information contained in a typical email user’s data store is enormous.  Google and Yahoo are sitting on huge amounts of very interesting email data that to date they’ve done nothing with.  According to Saul’s article, this is about to change (with the subtle insinuation that "Facebook should watch out.") 

So what.  Seriously.  The real data lives in the gazillions of Microsoft Exchange servers that are distributed around the world and connected to this magical thing called the Internet.  Don’t think about your inbox (or your Outlook PST file) – think about "the server."  Yeah, I know – many large organizations run multiple Exchange servers – just envision an abstraction layer on top of them and think about each address as a single element.

The amount of "social information" – especially in a business context – is staggering.  In the past there have been a few startups like VisiblePath and Plaxo that looked like they might go after some part of this.  Recently, a new wave has emerged like Xobni and ClearContext.  As far as I can tell, everyone is focused on the client side (Outlook) rather than the server side (Exchange).  This confuses me since the information, distribution, and the leverage (especially with regard to selling stuff) is on the server side.

But the bigger and more mysterious question is "where is Microsoft?"  This is their world and their domain.  Over 15 years they demolished IBM/Lotus (and everyone else) in "email" only to be ready to fumble the next wave of this.  I don’t get it.

We learned from our investment in Postini that large enterprises will let parts of this problem live in the cloud.  Google is quickly expanding on this vision.  I’m haven’t concluded whether this should live in the cloud, or be attached to a server, but I don’t think it matters (e.g. either – or rather – both work). It’s about the data, how you surface it, and what you do with it.

Yes, there are privacy issues, but they should be straightforward to address as long as one is being thoughtful about them.  Plus, that’s part of the fun of it.

I’m looking for entrepreneurs that are working on this problem, especially if they love Exchange servers (my ideal entrepreneur is someone who cuddles up to one in the winter to keep himself warm.)  If you don’t know how to integrate with AD (or think AD is a abbreviated version of ADD), don’t bother emailing me.

Maybe I’m missing it (I often do), but it seems like there is magic in the Exchange data.