Sep 12 2011

Retweet August 2011

From time to time I just blast tweets about software development, project planning, team dynamics, or whatever else comes to mind. Here is a synopsis of recent tweets and rants. If you want to follow the conversation follow me at techknow and/or juixe.

Software Development

  • More code, more problems.
  • Code. Money. Respect.
  • Code war is the new cold war.
  • The programer-designer is the philosopher-king or our time.
  • Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to gold farm and he’ll eat for a lifetime.

Team Leadership

  • When the world is flat and information freely available there is a premium on creativity.
  • There is no such thing as free lunch, especially if it’s lobster.
  • Give a silicon valley startup founder a lemon and he’ll make a social networking site for people that like lemonade.

Product Placement

  • I hope Twitter doesn’t become the next MySpace.
  • There is no i in Apple.
  • Google is buying Motorola for $12.5 Billion. Google is also developing a autonomous car, so in a few years it might buy Ford.
  • It’s not Thanksgiving, so why did Google pay so much for a moto turkey?
  • AT&T charges for services you use and most importantly for services you don’t, and they sell you out to the feds on top of that.
  • I know that many G+ users are still in the early adopter stages of denial, but honestly, Google does not know how to do social right.

Quote

  • Money is a terrible master but an excellent servant. – P.T. Barnum
  • Wall Street is now a huge mathematical game of chess where individual companies are just pawns. – Mark Cuban
  • Search is dead. What people want is an answer. … You don’t need Trip Advisor, you don’t need Yelp. – @Jason, #TWiST 171

Questions

  • Got Woot?
  • You think Papa Murphy’s is related to Papa John’s?
  • Has Flash lost it’s fizzle?
  • If G+ was spun out of Google as an independent company it would be valued at $50 billion.
  • What company will be around in 25 years, Apple, Zynga, Facebook, Google, eBay, Microsoft, …???
  • Now they are making movies in 4D… What is next, 7D?
  • If this is your third startup, are you really still a starting up?
  • I just want to know, why are those birds so angry?

Randumb

  • When life gives you bullshit, make lemonade.
  • Untangling headphones in the dark.
  • Current Status: somewhere between FML and IDGAFF.
  • Zoned out from being on the zone for so long.
  • The future is retro.
  • Don’t trust your shit to chance.
  • MTV has as much expertise to produce MTV’s Music Awards as the History Channel’s has to produce Ancient Aliens.
  • It’s ironic how many people misuse the word irony.
  • Even though I haven’t gone back to school for a while now, I can’t resist a good Back To School sale!
  • I tired of Shark Week. When will they have Turtle Week or Salamander Week?
  • If Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were to be created now they would have been known as Angry Turtles.
  • Total Retargeting
  • Shift+Happens

Aug 3 2011

Google Starts Towards The Path of Evil

The unofficial motto at Google has been Don’t Be Evil. Google’s philosophy states that “You can make money without doing evil.” The funny thing about being evil is that there is no technical IEEE standard of evil. That said, Google is on a slippery slope sliding towards impish and evilish behavior. As Google has a lock on the search and online advertising market, it has started to tailgate other industry leaders. Most notably, Google has started to tailgate Facebook and Twitter with different incarnations and versions of a social networking site. Depending on how you count, Google Plus is their fourth attempt at creating a social networking site. Google is also trying to compete with Apple in the mobile space. Well after a year into Apple revolutionizing the mobile phone market, Google got into the arena with their free mobile Operating System Android. In trying to compete in these two distinct markets, they have started to make decisions whose moral compass points towards evil-like behavior.

Even though Google’s latest attempt at a Facebook killer, Google Plus, has been well received it has also generated some of the most passionate arguments against any of their policies. Google Plus does not allow users to use pseudonyms, alias, nicknames, or any online handle other than their real names. There has been opposition against this stance from even within Google engineers tasked with implementing such draconian technology. The reasoning behind this rule makes no sense, and goes against a fundamental human right of self identity. I have the right to go and respond by any name I wish to be known as. In fact, many celebrities often use names other than their real names. Vic Gundotra, the Senior Vice President of Engineering at Google does not go by his real name that was given at birth so this all seems hypocritical.

The second misstep is their self serving stance on patents as written in a recent corporate blog post When Patents Attack Android. In this post, David Drummond, Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer at Google, practically accuses Microsoft, Apple, and Oracle of conspiring against Android with “bogus patents.” These are the same “bogus patents” that Google itself had tried to purchased from Novell for $3.14 billion. I doubt that any publicly traded company would bid $3.14 billion on “bogus patents” and in fact publicly complaining about having lost those patents demonstrates that they are not entirely bogus. Having lost the auction for said “bogus patents” Google went on to buy over 1000 patents from IBM for an undisclosed amount.


Jul 25 2011

Google Plus Begins to Stumble

Since it’s initial private launch, Google Plus has received mostly positive reviews from tech insiders that were able to score an invite early on. I was able to get my hands to an invite a day or two after Google Plus, often abbreviated as G+, launched. This is not my first social network, I was an early adopter on Twitter, I was there before @aplusk, and I had the same experience with Tumblr and Quora. Each time a new social network is launched and before the mob of celebrities and social media marketing experts join, these services are often seeded with early adopters from the tech scene. Even with it’s 20 million users, G+ is still in this early adopter stage and this is evident by the list of most followed users on the network. The most followed profiles are those from technologists and tech pundits, including former first friend on MySpace Tom Anderson. A few years ago, this was virtually the same list of most followed users on Twitter.

Google Plus does innovate on a few areas where Facebook has lagged and dragged it’s feet, such as in the concept of circles. That said, Google Plus is largely a clone+ of Facebook, which is a derivative of whatever social trend we’ve seen in the last five years. Depending on how you count, Google Plus is Google’s fourth attempt at this social networking thing. The current trend in social networking sites is that anonymity is to be banned. Facebook was the first social network to demand users use their real and legal names in their profiles and Google Plus has followed this trend.

Since Google Plus is the newest social networking site to see an exponential growth, it is now going through some growing pains in the way Google is policing the community. There have been a large number of reports of Google banning and disabling Google Plus profiles that don’t use “real names.”

The worst part, for those whose accounts have been locked out, is that there is no customer support, no due process, and not even a G+ profile to contact if your Google account is disabled or banned our right. If your Google account is disabled you may be locked out of GMail, Google Docs, and other Google products you may use, which might be have years of data.

The natural progression of these policies is that in the near future people will need to show their government issued identification card, passport, DNA sample, work history and resume, retinal scan, and perhaps a Google history scan to use Google Plus or similar social network. I can appreciate that Google wants to encourage people to use their real names, but there are so many instances beyond their automated algorithmic logic that people use nicknames, pen names, aliases, alternative spellings, stage names, witness protection name, and more. Is Google Plus going to force Jon Stewart to use his birth name? What about Lady Gaga? What about Dear Abby? Larry Brin uses the short form for Lawrence, is that okay? And don’t get me started with folks that are known by their initials or by their profession title such as Dr. Dre.

So why is Google, and Facebook for that matter, so against anonymity? It’s all about the data. The more data Google has on each user, the better they can serve ads targeting them. Google Plus is a user data collection service as much as it is a social network. Google Plus gives Google a new platform to collect even more data that it can then sell, trade, and use to target ads. Currently, most of Google’s ads work on the intent of the user. The more Google knows about the people in your circles, their name, age, background, location, work history, interests, trends, and communication patterns it can easily develop social ads that target you and your inner most circle members.

This whole debate is a red herring, the real issue is about the identifying data that Google is collecting on each profile.  There are already a large number of third parties that are forming a “fourth bureau” of sorts that collects any and every piece of information such as if you pay a phone bill on time or if you spend 6 hours in the middle of the day playing FarmVille.


Dec 10 2010

The Right Domain Name for Your Startup

It used to be that single the most important aspect of starting a new business was location, location, location. With online businesses, this translates to domain name, domain name, domain name. The domain name of you business is important for several reasons, because it will be your de facto business name, because this will be one of the avenues of how users find you, because there is a short supply of good domain names left, because you want to stand out from your competitors, etc. But in addition to finding a good domain name for your business you should see if it’s also available on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, WordPress, and any other relevant social networking site. As soon as I buy a domain name, I try to lock up the twitter account, the Facebook page, the Tumblr and WordPress blog for that domain.

Depending on the business or product or simply to proactively protect your business from competition and spammers, you should think about snapping up domain names that reference your company or trademarks. For example, try to buy the .net, .org, .me, and other TLD versions of the domain name you are considering if available. In addition try to lock up domain names that reference your company or product in a disparaging way.

Because most single word domain names are already taken, people often combine two words or more. It is common practice to not hyphenate two or more words in a domain name. But when placing two words together be careful that it doesn’t accidentally read something different than what you intended. For example, There is s site called Therapist Finder whose domain name is therapistfinder.com which can also be read as The Rapist Finder. The is a website called Speed of Art whose domain name is speedofart.com whose domain name can also be read as Speedo Fart.

Try to avoid using a name that ties your product or service to a particular technology. Find an inspirational name that denotes a feeling of though about what you are doing but not the technology you are using. For example, Twitter is a great name for their product. No most people use Twitter with mobile device apps over 3G, but SMS was a key aspect of Twitter in the early days. The word tweet denotes so well what people do on the service, they simply post a tiny comment. Once Twitter became a success and they opened up their API to third party applications then you saw the opposite, company formed around Twitter and named themselves a such like Twitpic. Twitpic is successful despite their bad choice of name but they it does narrow people’s view on you. In the case of Twitpic, they also have the problem that they misspelled the word tweet with twit. Twit has a completely different meaning than tweet.

Another example of a company name that relied heavily on a particular technology was PodShow. PodShow later rebranded itself to Mevio but only after the whole podcasting industry was threatened by Apple copyrighting and trademarking the term podcast. The term podcast itself relies on Apple iPod product line. The industry as whole talked of using netcast instead of podcast, but that never took off. By rebranding themselves to Mevio, the company speaks to broader audience, does not tie itself to one technology or open itself for legal dispute over trademarks or copyrights issues. In the case of Mevio, the name suits it well. The prefix is me and postfix vio sounds like the last syllable of video.

In the current state of search, short and clear domain names are known to get more Google juice to complicated, hard to spell, hyphenated domains. Your domain name should be easy to say and understand over a phone, it should evoke your industry, product, or service. The right domain is worth its price for the right entrepreneur. Not to take anything away from the founder of diapers.com, but I believe that the domain name had a lot to do to the online retailers credibility with customers which ultimately lead to diapers.com being purchased for over $500 million dollars by Amazon.

Owning the right domain name can help to take your business to the next level.


Nov 24 2010

Everything is Social

People are by nature social, they have always been so. Prehistoric people were social, Neolithic people were social, the Mesopotamians where social, the ancient Greeks, the Romans, the Barbarians, the Elizabethans, and even web 1.0 developers where social. By design, our technology has also been designed to be social, from written language to books to email to instant messaging. In fact, everything is social. Just about every physical object can be used in a social setting, rocks, bullets, and flowers.

Blogs too are social, it allows one group of individuals to share information and knowledge with a whole set of people, who in turn can comment, share, and add to that information. But since Facebook, social is sometimes meant to mean something different. Most features in Facebook have a element of social spam that forces a response. I people that first discovered Facebook because they received a spammy email from Facebook saying that someone they might have known, most likely some one they had an email correspondence, had joined Facebook. Facebook’s first spam social behavior was to email everyone in every of their users contact list, this behavior is the same as the Melissa virus. Facebook’s first element of social spam is borrowed a mass-mailing macro virus.

Everything is social and if everything is social, everything that is connected has a social graph. Facebook has managed to capture people and their relations to their friends, family, coworkers, church members, etc. Facebook has coined the pseudo geek speak social graph to describe a persons relationship to their friends and family. If everything is social, then everything has a so called social graph.

For example, since blogs are social it has a social graph of all the people have have posted comments. If Mark Zuckerberg would have designed WordPress, the blog platform I use for my blog, then each person who left me a comment would receive email telling them that if they wanted to participate in recent blog posts and even unsubscribe to the email they would need to sign up. WordPress.com and Discuss, the hosted commenting service, has millions of emails of people that have commented on blogs! If they choose to exploit and zuckerpunch all those people they can.

Everything and everyone is inherently social, technology like Facebook is not making users any more social it just simplifies how we interact with each to the like button.


Oct 25 2010

US Patent: Virtual Currency

Zynga is one of the fastest growing social gaming companies. Zynga is the maker of compulsion loop filled social games such as FarmVille, CafeWorld, and Mafia Wars. These games have proved to be like crack for people bordering on obsessive-compulsive disorder. Now Zynga has patent the novel idea that has been around for decades of virtual currency. Zynga’s file to patent Virtual Playing Chips in a Multiuser Online Game Network. They claim that real money can be exchanged for virtual currency. The virtual currency can be used to purchase virtual goods between any two users. A user can be credited or debited virtual goods based on the outcome of events in games. The virtual currency can’t be exchanged back to legal money.

There are, and have been for a long time, games that thrive because of the virtual economy built into the game. Games such as Second Life and World of Warcraft, which have been released since 2003 and 2004 respectively, depend on virtual currency to a large degree if you want to get far in the game quick. Within these games you can virtually work and earn currency or simply buy in-game money to buy virtual property such as a house or armor or whatever you like. The maker of Second Life have gone as far as to name their currency after themselves, the Linden Dollars. According to Wikipedia, in 2009 the Second Life economy grew to to half a billion dollars!

Outside video games, virtual currency has been used in real life scenarios such as at amusement parks and or places like Chuck E. Cheese’s or Dave & Buster’s. Chuck E. Cheese’s has game chips that you purchase with real legal tender while Dave and Buster’s uses smart cards to debit and credit in-store currency. In both franchises, the in-store currency can be used to play games priced using the in-store virtual currency. Two users can exchange and gift the in-store currency and based on the results of such game you win points that can be used to purchased goods.

All of their claims have been around for years and have been implemented in a variety of systems for years. Another real life example is iTunes. At most retailers, people can purchase iTunes gift cards. The virtual value that can be redeemed from a given iTunes gift card is usually given at a rate of $1 iTunes dollar to $1 real dollar. But some retailers, such as Costco has rates of $1 iTunes dollar to less than $1 dollars. The iTunes gift card will be used to credit a user with some amount of value which can later be used to redeem virtual goods such as songs, movies, and apps through iTunes, the online network application.

Outside of games that force you to tend to virtual crops for virtual money, in other words virtual share cropping, virtual currency has been used to control runaway inflation.