The King Sleeps

The King Sleeps

Izumi popped in to check on Tyler before going to bed and saw this. He didn’t have any head gear on when we tucked him in. When we asked him about it the next morning, Tyler said that he put it on after we left him because it was flattened out and he wanted to restore it to it’s original shape.

The crown was given to him on his birthday at school where he was. “king for a day.”


Using Sprint’s Power Vision Network

A couple of months ago, Sprint graciously given me a Power Vision-enabled phone to use gratis as part of their Ambassador Program. I’ve been generally pleased with the service and showing streaming video on your cell phone makes for a neat demo when the conversation in the room turns to the mobile internet.

Sprint Power Vision

A few weeks ago, Sprint sent the Ambassadors (I wonder how many of use there are out there?) an email reminding them that they can use the USB cable that came with their phone to connect to a laptop and experience broadband speeds over wireless. I downloaded their software which essentially acts as a broadband modem for your laptop.

Sprint announced today that they are significantly upgrading the capacity of this network. They’re calling this new rollout “EV-DO Revision A” which is an upgrade to the current “Revision O” network. You can ask Sprint how they do their alphabet.

With Revision A technology, peak download data rates increase to 3.1 Mbps (from 2.0) and peak upload data rates increase to 1.8 Mbps (from 144 kbps). Average download speeds improve to 450-800 kbps (from 400 -700) and average uplink speeds become 300 – 400 kpbs (versus 70 – 144 kpbs). The faster data rates can enable richer applications and services such as high-speed video telephony, music on demand, video messaging, large file uploads and high performance push-to-talk capability.

From the press release:

Goody. I promptly connected via my Sprint phone and hit to check out my speed as well as what others are reporting.

It was not quite what they promised but hopefully the upgrade will take care of that. Although I really don’t have a need for wireless broadband (Yahoo’s on campus wifi is great and I’ve rigged up wifi at home), the install was dead-easy and I can think of a couple instances where broadband wifi would be a godsend:

  1. Field sales, consultants, or repair staff.
  2. Anyone attending a conference. Everyone at eTech complained about the wifi and one session would have been a wash had not Jason Calcacanis not volunteered his wireless broadband.
  3. Anyone with a long commute on a train.
  4. Anyone living within New Orleans needing to communicate to the rest of the world.

Google Analytics has overlays

I was playing around with Google Analytics today and noticed that they slipped in a new feature which is pretty cool. Each link on your page has an overlay on it which, with a little relative progress bar, shows the frequency of clicks. Nice way to visualize how effective your links are if URLs don’t mean anything to you.


Homemade Hardware – Laptop

Homemade Hardware - Laptop
Homemade Hardware – Laptop,
originally uploaded by inky.

Tyler made a laptop with an innovative fliptop keyboard that reveals a couple of new buttons not normally found on any QWERTY keyboard – one for "Rock Music" and another for "Soft Music." Notice on the screen he has drawn in the all the icons for a browser as well as the one box display for a search engine.

He also made a set of iPods and a Gameboy. Julia decided to make a kite.


Stump Tom Cruise

So there was quite a bit of hoopla when Mr. Cruise flew into town on his P-51 to pay us a visit. We got to see exclusive clips of the upcoming Mission Impossible 3 and Terry Semel announced that there would be more collaborations with the actor in the future.

Today, Yahoo Answers has an open question where anyone can try and stump Tom Cruise with a trivia question about any of his movies. Check it out. Can you stump me in one of my own movies?

Angel Island

Angel Island
Angel Island,
originally uploaded by inky.

One of the few family photos we have of all four of us. Of course we’re looking into the sun so the kids are squinting. We saw an episode of Bay Area Backroads, a local TV show on things to do, that gushed about how great it was to ride your bike on the island. This was not really the case if you had a child on the back though as the dirt track road (all muddy after last night’s storm) and steep hills made it pretty tough going.

We’re all glad we went but the beer really tasted good tonight!

Social Software as a Game

Three really great links that explore the relationship between a vibrant community site (i.e. Digg, MySpace) and an engaging multiplayer online game.

Casual Games =~ Social Software – Duncan Gough

Putting the Fun in Functional – Amy Jo Kim’s slides from eTech

Write up of Amy Jo’s presentation – Bruce Stewart


Job Requirement : Level 60 World of Warcraft Guildmaster

By John Seely Brown and Douglas Thomas write in Wired that contrary to popular perception, multi-player online games are a good training ground for junior management.

. . . the process of becoming an effective World of Warcraft guild master amounts to a total-immersion course in leadership. A guild is a collection of players who come together to share knowledge, resources, and manpower. To run a large one, a guild master must be adept at many skills: attracting, evaluating, and recruiting new members; creating apprenticeship programs; orchestrating group strategy; and adjudicating disputes. Guilds routinely splinter over petty squabbles and other basic failures of management; the master must resolve them without losing valuable members, who can easily quit and join a rival guild. Never mind the virtual surroundings; these conditions provide real-world training a manager can apply directly in the workplace.

– from You Play World of Warcraft? You’re Hired!

They write about Stephen Gillett who was hired by Yahoo as a Senior Director of Engineering.

Joi Ito, who’s gone deep into World of Warcraft, talks about how he gets together with VCs to talk shop much like business folk from the previous century (I love saying that) would do deals over a round of golf.

What’s next? Books in the business section titled, How to Level Up Your Character and Influence People.


Is it cool to be accessible?

Two posts that came together on the same riff but from different angles. Do communities scale?

First Danah Boyd on “coolness”

“Coolness” is about structural barriers, about the lack of universal accessibility or parsability. Structural hurdles mean people put in more effort to participate. It’s kinda like the adventure of tracking down the right parking lot to get the bus to go to the rave. The effort matters. Sure, it weeds some people out, but it makes those who participate feel all the more validated. Finding the easter egg, the cool little feature that no one knows about is exciting. Learning all of the nooks and crannies in a complex system is exhilarating. Figuring out how to hack things, having the “inside knowledge” is fabu.

– from Friendster lost steam. Is MySpace just a fad?

Then today I read Seth Godin on “authenticity”

Here’s the problem: The moment you take your special, authentic, limited-edition product and leverage it, make it widely available and normal, the very people who loved it inevitably rebel. “Starbucks isn’t what it used to be,” they tell you. The tastemakers who made you successful in the first place turn on their heels when they smell that you’re not authentic anymore.

When a product is everywhere, when it’s hyped in the media and advertised on the sides of buses, sometimes it seems as if the product exists and succeeds because it is everywhere. Before ubiquity, when it seemed as if the product (or its creator) wasn’t in it just for the money, somehow that felt more real, more wonderful, more authentic.

– from Tom Chappell sell out

It’s a trick to get this balance right. The quote from Seth was spurred by the news that Tom of Tom’s of Maine toothpaste sold to Colgate for $100 million. News that struck a similar chord are last week’s announcement that L’Oreal bought the Body Shop for over $1 billion, Six Apart’s acquisition of LiveJournal, and the buyout of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream by Unilever back in 2000.

In each case, the story was painted as a faceless corporation trying to usurp the community built up around a product to serve it’s short term commercial objectives. Yahoo has sailed through these rough waters as well when it acquired flickr, upcoming, and delicious. The point often missed in the hysteria is there is absolutely no benefit to a large company coming in and sucking the life out of a young and vibrant community. Why bother to set aside capital for an acquisition only to quash it and rob it of it’s value?

I think Yahoo has shown that it can take a community such as flickr and give it a good home (servers, bandwidth, and other resources) and also learn from that community and internalize the best things about it (tags, open apis, ui design).

There’s lots of talk about scaling an application to serve a larger audience. The one sold out session at the recent eTech conference was Flickr developer Cal Henderson’s tutorial, “Scaling Fast and Cheap – How we built Flickr” One thing that is not discussed as often is the other side of growing which is scaling the community. What are some of the best practices around taking a small, home grown community and scaling it out to serve millions?

The posts above identify the problem. Are there any examples of successful communities that have managed to retain their “coolness” and “authenticity” while at the same time becoming “universally accessible” and “ubiquitous” or are the two mutually exclusive? Religion comes to mind – are there others?


Yahoo Local News Beta


Yahoo News launched a new feature now in beta which uses your location data to pull in news from major sources in your region. The module is located on the page