Archive for the ‘General Stuff’ Category

My Life Distilled Down to Technology and The Dead Milkmen

February 27, 2014

DeadMilkmen

 

Fun interview covering two big interests Technology and Music and I can thank The Dead Milkmen for it.

Excerpt:

Michael: We’ve talked about how some of the trends in modern business–lean innovation, content marketing–share a lot of principles with the punk rock movement you were involved with a few decades ago. Will you tell our readers your thoughts on that?

Wesley: For those not familiar with Lean, the basic concept is to throw away traditional product marketing and market research techniques and instead just launch and let customers tell you what is working or not. I love that. There is even a concept that if you aren’t embarrassed by your first release then you launched too late.

For indie artists, there isn’t the marketing budget to force anything down anyone’s throat nor even much in the way of a recording budget. So, pardon the slang, but it has to be real. Our punk acts would record albums for a few thousand dollars, just a few takes, and it would be raw, powerful and (to me) great. it was such a great contrast to the over-produced, market-research driven radio drivel at the time. Still is in my opinion.

Enjoy.

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Nice Explanation of Pre and Post Money Valuation and the Effect of Option Pools

July 18, 2009

I often find myself explaining the relationship between pre- and post money valuations and how options pools play into the calculation. Today I came across a very good blog post that explains it better than I’ve ever done. From now on, I’ll just point them to it.

What the author didn’t cover however is that entrepreneurs spend far too much time thinking about pre-money and far too little finding the right investment partner. In my opinion, it makes far more sense to take a lesser deal from a better partner. Having a great pre-money means nothing if the VC’s first move is to throw your ass out for one of their cronies (search “foundercide” to see what I mean) or if their advice is so bad as to insure your ultimate failure.

iPhoto Faces: Hits and Misses

February 3, 2009

Just starting to play with the new iPhoto 09 and in particular the facial recognition feature. I tested the feature on a few hundred sample images and iPhoto was right more than it was wrong. But the ones that it was wrong made me wonder do I really look like my mother or my friend Sanjay? “Separated at Birth” we are not.

 

iPhoto's Facial Recognition Has Some Kinks

iPhoto's Facial Recognition Has Some Kinks

That said I am very happy with this feature. When I first started adding photos to iPhoto many years ago I dutifully tagged each one. I’ve done that less and less. I had always hoped tools would come along that automated at least some of the process. Two or three years ago there was a far-too-hyped start-up called Riya that promised to do this. But they had no business model and their technology appears to not have been strong enough to make it into tools like this. I hope this isn’t one of those things I play with for a bit, think is incredibly cool, and then never use again. Google Earth, anyone?

Baseball Cards!

December 30, 2008

I have been spending the last few months updating the Sportsbuy.com website. One of the features we’ve really been focusing on are product pages. Check out the baseball card page that we put up.

This was a test to see what the SEO and user response would be to a dedicated page on this one aspect of our site. We then focused on internal linking, a dedicated URL with the right keyword and then populating it with everything relevant to visitors of that page to insure a low bounce rate. These included things like links to rookie cardswax boxes, and so forth. The baseball card page is particularly important to us since it is probably our most important keyword but one of the worst preforming. On other keywords like Basketball Card, Hockey Card, Tennis Card, etc. we are top 3 and often the #1 result. I’ll let you know what happens.

Ironman China 2008 Here I Come; Thank you TriathleteMag.com

November 5, 2007

Dual announcements here. First I have signed up for Ironman China in April 2008. I now have 6 months to prepare for the 140 mile swim/bike/running race.

ironman-china-logo.jpg

The other thing is that Triathlete Magazine has invited me to blog for them. I will be posting twice a week on all things relating to my Ironman preparation. Here is a link to my section.

I want to thank my friend Doug Binns who moved to Asia a few years ago for helping me do research for my Triathlete articles. Doug blogs here.

How to win a reader for life; the right way to respond to a “contact us” email

July 4, 2007

wired-science.jpg

Wired Science just won my readership for life (or at least a very long time).

They did it not by being right, but how they handed a situation where I felt they could have done better. I read somewhere that businesses win over customers by how they handle things that go wrong and I very much agree. Had I just read a very good post at Wired Science it probably wouldn’t have registered all that much. However I disagreed with one of their posts enough to write to them. I receive an almost instataneous response from a human (that is not automated) telling me that they had forwarded by email to the writer of the piece and suggested that I leave a comment. The way that the email was written seemed sincere and I didn’t feel like I was being given the brush off.

The next day, I was checking Technorati links into LifeTwo and saw that the writer at Wired Science had written an entire post responding to my criticisms, agreeing with my point of view, and then linking to my site. He did this on the 3rd of July when most people were already heading out for the holiday. From his post:

Responding to our coverage of a biological tweak that prevented highly stressed, junk food-eating mice from getting fat, Wired Science reader Wesley Hein gave me a well-deserved scolding for ignoring the context of the research:

If stress + junk food = obesity, then to reduce obesity we need to reduce one or both of the contributing factors. Yet none of the major media outlets covering this story (including Wired) made any mention of this. Instead it is all about the possibility of a pill that will apparently absolve us of any need to exercise, eat properly or reduce stress. […]

People today are dying today as the result of obesity-related diseases and they shouldn’t be told to wait for the promise of a wonder drug that will effortless melt fat away. It’s hard to imagine a worse message.

Wesley is absolutely right. The research isn’t any less valid for the points he raised, but they deserved to be mentioned — and we, along with other mainstream science journalists, generally failed to do this.

I was pleased, humbled, and impressed all at the same time and hope that I can be half as responsive the next time someone emails me with some constructive criticism regarding something that I write.

Voice communication: Going, going, gone

May 29, 2007

Fred Wilson on what beats email

I’ve said it before on this blog. Spam has ruined email for the youth generation. They may adopt email at some point when they reach the workforce, but it will never be the messaging system of choice for them.

Site messaging (particularly in social networks) is incredibly popular among the younger crowd. The permissioning system is their social network and so they value the messages they get. They’ve been filtered. There’s no porn spam on facebook.

Instant messaging remains a popular option and at times its useful. But real time communication has its limits. It demands your attention and I think anything that demands permanent attention is suboptimal in this technology driven partial attention world we live in.

Blogging is a lot like social networking but without the permissioning filter of the social network. It’s useful and as many readers have found, one of the best ways to reach me is via a well articulated comment on this blog. Those rarely go unanswered. Funny enough the messaging system I prefer for those replies is email.

Notice the complete absence of even mentioning “voice” communications? It’s not that I disagree but instead how amazing how quickly voice communications has completely dropped off the radar so much so that it doesn’t even warrant inclusion in an article on communication. Meanwhile Twitter is referenced twice (in the full post that is).

Since you are reading this as a blog post (possibly in your RSS reader), I’ll count that as a vote for blogging as a communication tool. Also I view email combined with a Blackberry to be fundamentally different than email without. Email spam is indeed a continued issue but one that is largely under control–at least for me and at least now.

Off Topic: A Response to Whether I “Shelved” a Band 20 Years Ago and What Makes Bands Happy

May 28, 2007

Gardian 1980s

Blogs can be pretty amazing communication tools. Take in point a blog posting from someone I worked with over twenty years ago (and pictured above) surfacing an issue that was important enough to him that two decades later he is writing about it. Despite all of the other forms of communication, email, phones, faxes, IM, and Twitter to name a few, it is only blogging that has the delicate balance of introspective thought and public sharing.

The post in question is on a personal blog by a former rock and roll artist, David Bach. I signed David to my record label in the middle 80’s and we have remained friends ever since. Before I get into his post, I want to give a little aside about the music industry. Most people who consider themselves musical artists will never have the chance to record professionally. Of those that do, only a tiny percentage will get signed and of those it is only a minority that will have enough success on their first album to put out additional albums. Anyone that is able to have a career making music is an incredible success and the very use of the term “career artist” means that they beat the odds–probably by a combination of talent, luck and a lot of hard work. To use a basketball analogy, being a “journeyman” in the NBA might not seem like a compliment but it means that one is among the top .00001% of basketball players in the world.

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Why would someone conduct a DDoS attack on my website?

May 23, 2007

This morning I was trying to upload a post to LifeTwo but couldn’t access the site and knew it was not just our servers but something that was affecting many other sites at the hosting facility. This message was then posted in support section of our host:

This afternoon [our] engineers successfully mitigated a fairly sophisticated network attack aimed at several of our services. This distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack appears to have originated from China and other sources along the western Pacific rim.

We have upgraded our load balancing system and made various other network configuration changes to prevent disruptions like this in the future. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused and thank you for your patience.

So now I know the reason but not the motivation for why people do this. You read about DDoS attacks all of the time but it is a different feeling when one hits your own servers.

Ageism in Silicon Valley

May 22, 2007

I just wrote a lengthy piece on ageism in Silicon Valley over at LifeTwo.

valleywag-chart.jpg

This is the “analysis” done by ValleyWag. Unabashedly unscientific but noteworthy nonetheless.

I’m going to use this blog to clarify points as they come up. First, is that while I believe that Silicon Valley is inherently (at least currently) ageist, I’m not passing judgment on them any more than I would pass judgment on the music business for not signing new acts that are in their 40s. Both are simply playing the odds as they figure out where to place their bets. If experiences have been better for VCs with younger founders then why shouldn’t that be a legitimate factor? If they turn out to be wrong then whoever has the foresight to look past age will then end up generating superior returns over the ageists. Then other VCs seeking those superior returns will stop using age as a factor. Unless and until that happens, expect Silicon Valley ageism to continue.

Here’s an interesting take from Rob Hyndman:

I’ve also noticed that older clients tend to be much more negative and cynical about the world. There are many exceptions to this, thankfully. But as a general rule, what I hear from younger clients is “yes, let’s try it”, and what I hear from the older ones is “no, it won’t work” or “here are a bunch of reasons why not”. Smart, well-thought out reasons, to be sure. But obstacles to success, nonetheless.

For background on the ageism meme go to this post.