Current Events

TV while-u-wait


While filling up on gas on the way to Tahoe the other weekend, I noticed that they had managed to pipe in CNBC business news into the little LCD monitor on the gas pump. Caught up on the latest market news while I topped up the tank.

Ubiquitous sound bite TV and cell phone browsing fills up every spare moment of down time in the quest for the fully productive lifestyle.


Morning Walk


We took the kids out for a longish walk this morning. It was a bit nippy (but nothing like what they’re seeing back East) so we bundled everyone up to shield them from the morning fog. It was a real treat to be out in the early morning, before the town woke up. We crossed the bridge over to a neighboring Island and walked along the bay for a while before turning back and heading into town to pick up some breakfast at a local bagel shop.

I think we may make this a weekend routine.

Current Events


There is a very interesting theory about why IBM shed their vaunted ThinkPad & PC hardware division to China’s Lenovo. Attributed to the Petrov Group, in a Business 2.0 article, the theory is that IBM would use it’s partnership (IBM still owns a percentage of Lenovo) to enter the China market with a low cost, Linux-based PC platform.

As Petrov puts it, China “is a command economy and is price sensitive.” It is also projected to surpass the United States as the biggest PC market by 2010. In fact, in that year, the Chinese are expected to buy 180 million PCs, while the developed world will buy 150 million. If IBM, through its new partner Lenovo, could establish cheap Linux desktops as an acceptable alternative to Windows machines in China alone, it would cut Microsoft’s cash flow from a much-needed growth market. At the same time, it would teach a new generation of IT managers in China that since Windows isn’t a necessity, Microsoft products aren’t needed on servers either. (Subtext: Buy IBM.)

If this is indeed the scenario that folks in Armonk have dreamed up, it’s absolutely brilliant.



We went up to Tahoe last weekend to catch some of the record snows that have fallen on the Sierras over the past few weeks. Our digital camera’s battery ran out of juice so I only have this shot of a tricked out Mustang that we saw on the road but Doug Yarrington posted more pictures here.

Current Events


Washington Post’s columnist Joel Achenbach is up and running on TypePad for his Achenblog. column.

We’re all having a chuckle as he dives into the world of blogs. In this entry he writes about the levels of authorship that we provide and suggests some greater levels of authorship rights that we’ll be sure to look into for a future release:

. . .there’s “junior author” and “author” and “owner,” but I think there’s an even higher level than that, an uber-owner, with a sign-on that allows you to rearrange everything on our site AND go over to the Times site and insert mistakes. There’s probably a level yet higher — someone who can, for example, go into the Library of Congress website, into the American Memory section, and fiddle around with the original texts of sacred American documents, such as the Declaration of Independence.

Technorati Tag Bookmarklet

Only a day out and someone’s already created a bookmarklet to make it easier to add tags to your posts.

Technorati Tags: , ,


Zoomer’s Brilliant Idea #194

dsc02722.jpgHow do you get a 3-year old girl to drink her cold medicine?

Slap a Hello Kitty sticker on it and call it “grape juice.”


Technorati Tags

Our friends at Technorati have launched a service that pulls together a view of the blogosphere through the lens of user-defined tags. The growth of user tags in services such as Flickr and have broken through the dilemma of the Semantic Web which was struggling for a standard taxonomy to help define it.

The debate over a "folksonomy" vs. a structured taxonomy is ongoing but this new development, coupled with the blogger megaphone effect may push things over the tipping point in favor of the 80/20 efficiency of user-generated tags. Google came to become the resource of choice much to the chagrin of professional librarians that knew that no one really scanned past the first few pages of results. The search engine relevance ranking convenience eventually won out over the professional researcher’s judgement – lament the loss but people are lazy and will always go for the quick and easy solution, even heard journalists talk about Google as their research tool of choice leaving one to worry about what they miss.

Clay Shirky comments:

Any comparison of the advantages of folksonomies vs. other, more
rigorous forms of categorization that doesn’t consider the cost to
create, maintain, use and enforce the added rigor will miss the actual
factors affecting the spread of folksonomies. Where the internet is
concerned, betting against ease of use, conceptual simplicity, and
maximal user participation, has always been a bad idea.

But in the ever increasing amounts of data that are being thrown at us, user-generated tags and a way to harvest them is a necessary evil. Sure it’s going to miss sometimes, tags will be mis-applied, misspelled, and mis-interpreted, but in order to get things tagged at all, you need to harness the power of the many. You can’t ask people to consult some taxonomy guide nor can you ask them to label their docs using a form that gets in the way of the data (does anyone ever fill out the "properties" of their Microsoft Word files?)

Play around with it. Try some tags. Click here to see Technorati’s harvest for the tag macworld

In the meantime, I’ll do my bit and will load up this post as related to:



Steve Case talks his game


One thing I love about being in the Bay Area is that there are so many interesting events related to my industry going on all the time. Just up the street MacWorld is going off as Steve Job’s counterpoint to the CES show in Las Vegas last week. A lot of us at Six Apart are Mac fans so it’s not surprising that one of our developers went on record to gush about Apple’s latest.

Last night I headed down to Stanford to catch Howard Rheingold’s Literacy of Cooperation class and ran into Niall Kennedy who told me about a Walt Mossberg/Steve Case event over at the Computer History Museum. The format was an interview and Steve retold stories from the early days all the way up through the AOL/Time Warner merger.

Steve got his early training in marketing at P&G and one of the first lessons he learned was the value of the “free sample” in the consumer market -now we know the origin of those giveaway CDs. We also heard about his first foray at running online forums in which his strategy was to bundle access with the computer manufacturers and also make the “peripheral” modem part of the standard PC bundle. Apple was first, Tandy (Radio Shack), and then IBM. It was only when “the Apple deal blew up in our face” that Steve was forced to remove the Apple brand from the service that the AOL brand was born. Apple basically pushed Steve into the consumer business.

As someone who built a business on member-generated content and later the Chairman of a traditional media company, I was curious on Steve’s opinion of weblogs. There was a Q & A segment at the end and I took the opportunity to ask Steve this question. He was strongly in favor of this explosion of new voices and predicted that the media brands of tomorrow will rise up out of these new voices. When I followed up to ask about the role of editors in this new world, he noted that, “once you give the tools for everyone to be a publisher, you find out that not everyone is a very good publisher. There will always be a need for editors.”

[picture by Niall Kennedy]


Commuting Choices

At long last our offices are now up in San Francisco so I am no longer taking the automobile down the freeway to work each day. Now the choices of how to get to the office abound:

1. The bus can take me from Alameda to the Transbay bus terminal. There is a stop about five blocks from my house for the morning and the return lets me off just three blocks from home. On the San Francisco end, it’s a good 15 minute walk to the office through a dreary (in the rain at least) fringes of the warehouse district. There are three different bus routes to choose from, including a fancy coach-like bus (The “OX” Express) that has cushy seats and nice lighting.

Cost? $3/each way, $100/month if you buy a monthly pass.

Pros? Can drop Tyler off at school on the way to the bus stop if we motivate early enough. It’ll be nice to walk with him to school each morning when the weather gets better.

Cons? The folks that ride the bus seem a bit ground down – usually clutching crumpled up and slightly damp newspapers. With fogged up glasses and overstuffed shoulder bags, these are the worker bees.

2. There are two ferries, one from the West End of the Island and the other over in Harbor Bay. I’ve only taken the Harbor Bay but it certainly is a treat. A 15-minute bike ride along a bike trail (no traffic lights, beautiful views of the bay) takes you to the ferry dock where boats leave on the half-hour. The riders are definitely the movers and shakers, overheard conversations are of family vacations in the tropics and visits to ivy league alumni events.

Cost? Pricy at $5.50/each way, includes a “gasoline surcharge”, $150 if you buy a monthly pass.

Pros? If you absolutely must ignore the views, they have wireless. They sell coffee in the morning and beers at the bar for the ride home.

Cons? There’s a sign up for an emergency email list which indicates to me that this service is not totally reliable. At $150/month you’re talking about a $1800/year commitment.

3. I could still take a car to work and most likely will on days when I have to drive somewhere later in the day. It’s a real grind but do-able if you go either *real* early or after 9 am. Trouble with going after 9 am is that all the good city parking spots are gone so you end up paying for it on the other end. Going home is a drag too b/c of the traffic on the bridge, bring good music for the radio!

Cost? $3 going into the city on the tolls or you can go free in the carpool lane if you pick up 2 riders on the way over. Parking is the kicker – some places advertise an “early bird special” of $8/day but you need to get there fast. Usually it’s more like $10 – $15.