I’m banging away on a bunch of new things these days. I’ve happily switched to a Mac, am halfway through my week of Gmail, and am contemplating what new thing to try next week.
I’ve always been a tech junky and love to play with new stuff. I’m quick to set up an account on a new web service and try it. It’s the best way for me to understand something – much better than an executive summary or a presentation.
I found that my switch to a Mac took two weeks to get really comfortable, but once I crossed the line I was all in. Gmail feels similar – after a few days of it I’m loving it but now running into a few issues (that I’m quickly resolving – such as the email send rate limiting thing that I mentioned last night.) I haven’t yet tried to move my calendar fully over, and I know that moving feld.com to Google Apps is going to be hairy because of all my family members using accounts on feld.com (currently an Exchange server) in a variety of different configs, but that’s part of the fun of this stuff. Well – maybe not.
While it’s obvious to say that “just trying something out” is much simpler than actually incorporating that new thing into your work flow, it occurred to me today that there isn’t enough focus on this on the part of most startups.
I’ve learned the incredible power of focusing on “daily active users” from my investment in Zynga. While I’ve been obsessed with DAU’s for a while now, I haven’t been paying enough attention to the specific DAU’s that come back day after day (rDAU’s – recurring DAUs). While I encourage everyone to measure the number of them, I haven’t been encouraging people to “measure what they actually do.” As I ponder my own behavior, I’m seeing a huge difference in my (a) fly by and try, (b) try and use periodically, and (c) become an rDAU behavior.
Note to everyone I work with – start measuring what your rDAUs actually do. It might surprise you.
In 2009, the word that finally got on my nerves was “space”, as in “our product is in the X space” or “the space we are going after is X.” It seems like the word “space” managed to find its way into every paragraph.
The annoying word of 2010 appears to be “platform”, as in “we are going to be a platform for X” or “our platform for X will solve the following problems.”
In my little corner of the world, the word “platform” is a lot more precious. There are very few platforms. You aren’t a platform until you have a zillion users (well, at least 100 million). Until then, feel free to call yourself a “junior platform” or an “aspiring platform.” Or, call yourself an “application”, which is what you most likely are.
I definitely make this mistake myself (e.g. “Company Y is a platform for X”) and I’ve been self-censoring lately and now saying “Company Y aspires to be a platform for X”).
Ok, I feel better now.
I had a new experience today. At 7am I had my first MRI at the Boulder Community Hospital. I was a little nervous, although I’m not entirely sure why. I was in and out in 45 minutes – it was fascinating.
I hurt my lower back about five months ago (actually, exactly on March 13th at about 1pm at my parents house in Dallas). I went for a two hour run and then took my dad to Fry’s for his birthday to buy him a new color printer. As I unloaded the printer from the car, I lifted correctly, but then twisted left and immediately knew I’d screwed myself. I rested a week and started running again in advance of a marathon in mid-April in St. Louis. I had a great three hour run in Charlotte the first week of April and thought I was ready to roll. Amy and I drove to Santa Fe the following weekend; when I got out of the car when we got back to Boulder I had enormous lower back pain. I got a massage the next day (big mistake) and when I woke up Tuesday morning in a hotel room in Seattle I couldn’t get up off the toilet, nor could I completely straighten up. Four weeks of rest and three months of intermittent running with regular recurrence of back pain in the same spot after a few days caused me to finally decide that I’m hurt and need to figure out what’s going on.
Boulder is fortunate that it has a great community hospital system. There are plenty of new facilities and the people are very nice. I checked in and got my paperwork. It was already completed via my doctor’s referral. The charge for the MRI was $3,696, my insurance plan allowed $1,078, and there was $0 co-pay or money owed by me. I was completely stunned by this – I expected to at least have to pay a $20 co-pay. The entire billing / checkin thing took about as long as it takes to checkin on FourSquare. I pondered where the difference between the $3,696 and the $1,078 was coming from, or whether it simply vanished into the ether.
I went to the Imaging Center with my Dark Side of the Moon CD, ready to chill out in a tube. I changed into hospital scrubs and was escorted to the MRI machine by a lovely nurse who talked me through everything. The machine I was in didn’t have a CD (it had an MP3 player) but my head was in a cradle that wouldn’t fit the earphones so I punted on the music. I got a little “panic thing” to squeeze if I freaked out and then went into the tube.
I basically had a noisy 20 minute shivasana. They did six scans, most between three and five minutes. The noise was loud, but rhythmic. I had earplugs so it was more like a weird electronica thing. I did my share of isolation tanks in college (I went through an isolation tank phase) – this was much shorter, much more comfortable, but much noisier. As is my practice with shivasana, I dozed off near the end.
They pulled me out, I walked down the hall, and picked up a CD with my scan on it. The software is pretty ancient, doesn’t run on my Mac, but worked fine on a PC. I have no idea what I’m looking at – well – other than my lower back and pelvis region with all the ensuing pieces – but it’s pretty amazing to look at and ponder.
It’s fun to be a human, even when you are hurt.
Ever since I switched to the Mac, I’ve had N (where N is a suitably large number) tell me that I should switch to Gmail from Exchange. I finally decided to try it for a week and see if it works for me. Given my Mac experience – where I had to commit and really use it, I’ve decided to do the same on Gmail.
For now, I’m just going to use Gmail (instead of Google Apps) because I don’t want to go through the hell of switching the feld.com domain since I’ve got a bunch of other people (e.g. my family members) on it in a variety of configurations. That’ll limit me a little as I won’t be able to use the Apps Marketplace, but the benefit is I’ll be able to mess around with a variety of other Gmail stuff.
If you’ve got Gmail addons, hints, tips, and trick, leave them for me here. At the end of next week, I’ll either be switching to Gmail or heading back to Mac Mail against my Exchange server.
Ah – the joy of a meme. Today’s meme is “The Web Is Dead.” Whatever. My favorite article about this in the past 24 hours is The Tragic Death of Practically Everything – this is basically what I would have written if I’d had time today.
Like most of the blogosphere, I’ve been trying to use Flipboard since its extraordinarily well executed (or well hyped – I can’t tell yet) announcement. But, like almost everyone I know, I can’t get it to authenticate Twitter or Facebook. Two days ago I entered in my email address to reserve my place in line. Today, at 9:55 AM AKDT I got an email titled “Your Flipboard is Ready to Customize” that said:
Hi there. We’re now ready for you to set up your Facebook and Twitter accounts on Flipboard. Try it out and let us know what you think. And thanks again for your patience and enthusiasm.
I went to connect up my Twitter and Facebook accounts. Nope – doesn’t work. At 10:34 AM AKDT I got an email titled “Apology, and Flipboard Confirmation”
We just sent you an email telling you that we were ready for you to set up your Facebook and Twitter accounts. We are sorry to say that our email system sent the wrong email. We were actually trying to send you an email confirming your place in line for you to setup your Facebook and Twitter sections.
You will receive another email when your reservation is ready. We are working around the clock to get you your invite and will send you your official invite soon.
Thanks again for your patience and support.
This morning, as I was waiting for my laptop to grind through its startup process I started wondering why I had a laptop. I travel a lot and had it with me in San Francisco and Los Angeles this week, but hardly used it. And, when I did, I was frustrated with how long I had to wait for it to “get started”.
Today, while I was waiting for my laptop to sync email (Outlook 2010) I grabbed my iPad, opened mail, and read/reply/deleted all of the email that came in over night. I was finished processing the email before my laptop was ready to be used.
I had this same experience yesterday morning in LA. Except then I processed all of my overnight email on my HTC EVO phone which was also acting as the hotspot for my laptop to connect. And, throughout the day, I just did email on my phone instead of firing up my laptop.
The only time I used my laptop last week was a three+ hour stretch in San Francisco when I was at First Round Capital’s office (thanks Josh for the use of your desk) in between meetings. I had turned on my laptop at 8:45am when I got to FRC’s office, did a board meeting from 9am to 12 (the laptop was in a different room), and then used my laptop from noon until I left around 3:30. By noon it had fully synched itself.
As I write this, I realize that Android and Apple both sync faster with my email on an Exchange data store than my Windows 7 laptop with Outlook. A lot faster. It doesn’t seem to matter whether I’m connecting over 3G or Wifi – my Android phone, iPad, and iPhone are ready to go right away whereas my laptop takes anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes to get into a fully usable state (where the disk doesn’t spin an slow things down, or Outlook is non-responsive, or something else funky is going on.) I’m on a Lenovo X300 with 4GB of RAM so it’s not the hardware.
I wrote this post on my iPad using the cute little iPad keyboard doc. It appears my laptop is once again useable, but it’s probably too late for me this morning. Time for a run.