2010-12-30

Product Placement

Business Week:
"Beginning in early 2008, with no useful connections and a surplus of nerve, he started calling companies telling them he could place their brands in pop songs. Then he called the labels, telling them he could get brands to pay to be in their artists' songs... after 'about 400' such calls, Kluger got a break."

2010-11-28

Gambling

In the middle of this fascinating Wired article about the evolution of sports betting is this gem:
"My job is not to judge the morality of why people gamble. My job is to invest in and create things that make money for my partners."
At least he's being honest.

2010-11-21

The Beach Boys

Martin Cizmar:
"The Roman Catholic's current canonization procedure requires but one otherwise inexplicable miracle in a prospective saint's name. Brian Wilson has two: one you know well, one you probably don't."
The one you know well is Pet Sounds of course, which I encourage you to explore deeply via its Box Set on Rdio — there'll you find track after track (90 in all!) of Brian and his musicians fiddling in the studio take after take, painstakingly assembling what would become the mindblowing masterpiece that is Pet Sounds.

The other one Martin's referring to is Beach Boys Party!, which we also have on Rdio:



Here's Martin again:
"In a nutshell, Party! is a faux live record with 12 songs, clocking in at just over a half-hour. Among those songs are several Beach Boys hits, three Beatles covers, a Bob Dylan cover, and versions of a few old rock 'n' roll standards like "Hully Gully" and "Mountain of Love." Party! is all acoustic, and all the tracks are mixed together with between-song dialogue, clapping, and catcalls, to make it sound like one continuous take. The album is a highly stylized imitation bootleg that's almost too fun and loose to be a commercial release."
Enjoy.

2010-10-24

Embedding on Rdio

Last week we shipped something to which I've really been looking forward, from Rdio's roadmap -- Embedding. For example, my Spiritualized favorites:



Huge props to Ian & co for their work on it.

2010-10-17

Fred Brooks is my Hero

"You can learn more from failure than success. In failure you’re forced to find out what part did not work. But in success you can believe everything you did was great, when in fact some parts may not have worked at all. Failure forces you to face reality."
Fred in Wired

2010-10-05

The Kochs

This story could be straight out of an Ayn Rand novel.
"...at the same time that David Koch has been casting himself as a champion in the fight against cancer, Koch Industries has been lobbying to prevent the E.P.A. from classifying formaldehyde, which the company produces in great quantities, as a “known carcinogen” in
humans."

2010-10-02

E. coli

Bill Marler to the National Meat Association, quoted from a Wired 2010-09 article that I can't seem to find online:
"You can do the right thing because you don't want your product to kill someone's kid. Or you can do it because you're afraid I'll come after you and leave you bankrupt and penniless. I don't care which it is."

2010-08-22

Stress

There are so many gems in this Wired piece by Jonah Lehrer; here are a few that leapt out at me:
  • "While stress doesn’t cause any single disease — in fact, the causal link between stress and ulcers has been largely disproved — it makes most diseases significantly worse."
  • "Stress hollows out our bones and atrophies our muscles. It triggers adult-onset diabetes and is a leading cause of male impotence. In fact, numerous studies of human longevity in developed countries have found that psychosocial factors such as stress are the single most important variable in determining the length of a life. It’s not that genes and risk factors like smoking don’t matter. It’s that our levels of stress matter more."
  • "Antibiotics are far less effective when our immune system is suppressed by stress"
  • Stress-reduction tips: have good social relationships with friends and family, get enough sleep, don't fight, meditate, confront fears, drink in moderation, don't force exercise to happen
  • "I can come back 25 years later, when these kids (baboons) are two old matriarchs, and they’ll be acting out the exact same dynamic."
  • "Women developed significantly more heart disease if they performed menial clerical work or when they had an unsupportive boss. The work, in other words, wasn’t the problem. It was the subordination."
  • "One of the most tragic aspects of the stress response is the way it gets hardwired at a young age — an early setback can permanently alter the way we deal with future stressors."
  • "After tracking thousands of civil servants for decades, Marmot was able to demonstrate that between the ages of 40 and 64, workers at the bottom of the hierarchy had a mortality rate four times higher than that of people at the top."
  • "getting promoted from the lowest level in the British civil service reduced the probability of heart disease by up to 13 percentage points. Climbing the social ladder makes us live longer."
  • "The recurring theme in the self-reports of people like Marjorie isn’t the sheer amount of stress — it’s the total absence of control."
  • "But if he or she has a high degree of control over work, it is less stressful and will have less impact on health.” (This helps explain why the women with mean bosses and menial work showed the highest incidence of heart disease.)"
  • "The moral is that the most dangerous kinds of stress don’t feel that stressful. It’s not the late night at the office that’s going to kill us; it’s the feeling that nothing can be done. The person most at risk for heart disease isn’t the high-powered executive anxious about their endless to-do list — it’s the frustrated janitor stuck with existential despair."
  • "There are important individual differences in how people respond to stress,” Gould says. “Soldiers experience lots of stress in war, but most of them won’t get posttraumatic stress disorder. What accounts for those differences? And how can we help the people who are most vulnerable?”

2010-07-11

East Palo Alto -- Whole House Building Supply needs help

Paul Gardner's Whole House Building Supply is a gem of a salvage yard in East Palo Alto, and they're looking for a new location. See this CBS News video for a bit more about them, as well as this Chronicle article:
"His company now runs two large warehouses in East Palo Alto that are staffed by residents from the neighborhood, offers whole-house deconstruction (minus the foundation), and partners with East Palo Alto Council of Tenants, an affordable-housing nonprofit, which takes a percentage of the proceeds and offers tax write-offs to anyone who donates building materials. A couple of on-site carpenters take difficult-to-sell items like short pieces of wood and transform them into planters, garden benches and butcher blocks made of old-growth redwood."
With Vicki's help I've scored countless goodies there for my project -- double-paned windows, rare arched windows, hardwood flooring, molding, a Thermador cooktop, even my front door (which came from an Atherton demo). It'd be a tragic loss for the Bay Area if Whole House disappeared -- if you've got any location ideas for them, definitely contact Paul.

2010-07-05

Crossing the Pacific via container ship

My friend Tony is currently crossing the Pacific in a container ship, as the first phase of his "no airplanes" round-the-world trip. He's a geek, so he's tumblring the trip if you wanna follow along.

The other day Todd was asking about how he's posting his coordinates (example, map), so I asked Tony and he replied while they were docked in Yah Tian:
"I set up the email to post for my account and I can do simple, text-only, emails through a satellite system on the ship. So once per day after dinner I use my iPhone GPS to grab my coordinates and send them to the Tumblr email."
Low-tech. Sort of.

2010-06-13

"No Airport Card Installed"

A little while ago my Air decided to forget that it has a wifi card installed. A quick trip to my local Genius Bar solved the problem, by moving the following files to my Desktop, so that the OS could re-create fresh, happy ones; they're in /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/
  • NetworkInterfaces.plist
  • preferences.plist
  • com.apple.airport.preferences.plist
Just recording this here in case any of y'all encounter something like this.

    2010-06-02

    Rdio

    I mentioned this on Twitter, but apparently I forgot to mention it here. Oops!

    Back in January I joined Rdio -- they'd heard through the grapevine that I was looking for new work post-EMI, and I'd heard through the grapevine that they needed PM help. I've been loving it ever since, as it's exactly what I wanted to be doing:
    • work on an ambitious project with a small, brilliant, passionate team
    • be part of an early-stage, funded startup
    • use my natural skills, but also be learning new things
    • have lots of responsibility, but with plenty of room for growth (and reward)
    Rdio is a new music service from some of the folks who made Skype happen. For just $10/month, which is like, the price of an album, you get unlimited access to listen to music on your computer, iPhone/Pad/Pod-touch, BlackBerry or (soon) Android device. And it's got social-ness built in, so discovering new music is as simple as clicking a play button. The site in its current incarnation barely scratches the surface of what we have planned, so this is just the beginning.

    It's an honor to be working with such an awesome team, and to also be exposed to a new-to-me group of innovators from the Skype world and beyond.

    Some early press:

    2010-05-28

    Social Playlists

    Are fun.


    Thank you, Wilson.

    2010-05-15

    Google Voice feedback

    I noticed a, "Take our survey" link in the upper-right corner of the Google Voice webapp, so I clicked it. Here's what I sent them:

    iPhone webapp
    - the app refreshes its whole self almost all the time (I keep it loaded in a MobileSafari tab) -- ideally it would just ajax refresh and not need to refresh its entire self so much
    - refresh should be top-level, not in a menu
    - while the action menu is visible, tapping anywhere else on the screen should make it disappear
    - I shouldn't have to choose a contact manually -- the To: field should just auto-complete as I type (just like in gmail)
    - SMS conversations should be in reverse-chronological order, with newest messages at the top -- it's a pain to scroll to the bottom to see the latest message. I know you're emulating the way it works in the native SMS app, but this is in a web browser so the context is different.
    Desktop webapp
    - why is this not just integrated into gmail? There shouldn't be a separate "voice" webapp
    - I shouldn't have to click a checkbox before archiving something (like an SMS thread). Having the focus be on the thread (or whatever) should be sufficient, just like gmail. As many of Gmail's patterns as possible should be replicated in Voice's UI :)
    - I should be able to search my Contacts in the same searchbox that's at the top of the main Voice screen -- looks like this is already there
    - I haven't seen any new invitations in ages! I wish I had more to give to friends
    Voice service in general
    - I wish I could make calls directly from the app, rather than needing a native phone number (like a landline, or # from a mobile operator). I know this is non-trivial functionality, but that's the sort of thing y'all excel at. ;)
    - Push: I'm about to switch to an Android phone, and its app apparently polls for updates every 5 mins. Ideally it would push SMS and voicemail notifications, so they'd arrive instantaneously
    Gvoice is a brilliant service, can't wait to see what you guys have in the works! Keep up the great work,
    -Eric
    Update: some more stuff I'd like to see:

    • iPhone webapp: a character counter! It won't let you send more than 160 characters, but it doesn't currently tell you how many you've typed.

    2010-03-21

    Business

    From an interview with one of my personal heroes:
    "A lot of people obsessed with venture capital see Metafilter as a lifestyle business, but in my mind, it’s a mature business. It works really well and yet nobody aspires to do something like this and I don’t know why. Nobody celebrates just simple businesses that work."
    I do, Matt! It's precisely what inspired our work on Domainr, which has essentially been profitable since the month we launched it.

    The work Matt and PB have done with Metafilter and Fuelly, what Craig & co have done with Craigslist, Jason & co at 37signals, Buzz with PodWorks back in the day, Marco with Instapaper, the list goes on... is for me some of the most inspiring on the web. It's often DIY/homebrew/bootstrapped, always insanely useful, and ideally profitable.

    2010-01-28

    "...individuals, regardless of whether they act alone or as part of a community, are compelled to find ways to reduce the magnitude of any cognitive dissonance they experience."
    from Dissonant Paradigms and Unintended Consequences and the Richmond Journal of Law & Technology

    2010-01-26

    Home and Hearts

    Words of wisdom from Victoria Thorne:
    "Chairs, I have found, are the easy part. The hard part is making room in the home, always, for love and care to sit."