Thursday, June 28, 2007

Pownce and pwned by Techcruch

Not even out of private beta and I find Pownce on Techcrunch.

Not that I should be surprised, but TC beat my thoughts to the punch, though mine was longer (length != quality), and it looks like my thoughts fell well within the bell curve of the TC readers. I do see opportunities for them as im and other ilk that we stitch together our social fabric together with suck. I just figure it will be an exclusive party for a while (with me on the outside) so unless you reside in San Fran, or know these people( or are on the Internet A list) don't expect to get invited to the party any time soon.

Interesting side note, anyone else notice how all of these services and sites focused on "social medium" start out elitist? Orkut anyone?

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Culver and Rose collaboration

Leah Culver, Kevin Rose and a few other interesting Californians with software aspirations you may have heard of have quietly (not so quiet considering the crowd of Kevin watchers out there) launched their combined effort Pownce.

First Reaction

Looking over the screen shots already up, I think that a comprable set of applications would be Campfire and Backpack from 37 Signals. The focus is on personal use, with a social networking slant. In the San Fran area I expect that this will be all the rage for a few months, and then when it opens up to the general public the original crowd will move on just like Flickr before it.

Thoughts on viability

I like the idea, and love that it is all built on the fabric of other services. S3 as long been interesting to me, and I have wondered how long until products other than storage related services would come to use it. The project is a veritable alphabet soup that is sure to please the geek elite and with the Likes of Kevin and Daniel Burka of Digg, and Revision3 there is actually quite a lot of business savvy in the group, and more than enough web 2.0 street cred to pull Leah up among the luminaries of the San Francisco software/culture center driving many of the current acquisition fodder for the web heavies.

This does in many ways remind me of IM with persistence, and should commandeer one or all of the IM clients out there and incorporate it/them. With all the web based every-IM-client-under-the-sun clones out there such as meebo or ebuddy, I have to assume that this is a somewhat "known" variable that would be a logical addition. If they plan on living on Advert dollars the longer they can keep my eyes on their application the better for them, and an all in one im/fileshare/social application is better than twitter desktop+file sharing.

Second Thoughts and Hesitations

As much as I like the idea of the seamless sharing of items from the desktop there is definitely some inertia about having to create a new circle of people. Most perspective users already have facebook/myspace/ profiles and these are by and large islands of friends. Because Pownce will require an application install on every computer to keep the experience seamless this could be a stumbling block. Currently I run 2-12 hours on any of 12 computers. Yeah I know my situation is excessive and I am a whiner, but for a compelling application, I am looking for something to help me stitch together my fragmented little world of friend communication. IM really in my mind is a must, and some form of either friend import from Myspace or Facebook would be a major bonus.

My final though, that is in no means a detraction but more of a open ended question for Pownce to answer in the long term: "With the similarities to so many products that already have the jump on you in terms of first mover advantage what makes you compelling?"

Twitter gives us status (though flakey), flickr lets us share photos, Myspace/Facebook let us keep up to date on friends comings and goings( for the older set) with IM and personal blogs/sites for the rest. If you can stitch all that together the application and the fabric you built it on could really grab the long tail, if not you could be a local celebrity to a small group of San Franciscans.


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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Is Opensolaris worth being excited about?

I don't know, but the demonstrations of ZFS I've seen so far make this very exciting to me. I have been looking for a way to create a (relatively) low cost iSCSI target. iSCSI in my experience is low cost, and flexible for single computers that need more storage than you can cram in the confines of their box. In case you haven't guessed this does relate to the Media Center that consumes my life.

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Google Solar Panel Project should be a gadget

Google recently launched a page that allows you tor track the success of their solar initiative. I do like the stats counter on the page, but cannot be troubled to visit this page with any kind of frequency. I would like to see this info in the form of an iGoogle gadget. This is the type of info best condensed to a small badge or xml file that can be shown wherever.

So how bout it Google? Solar Panel Project gadget for iGoogle?

I suppose that I could build it myself, following the handy dandy api Google so thoughtfully provided.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Overwhelmed by my own Success

Right the pace of my posting seems to be lagging, so I thought some light should be shed.

I specked, researched, bid, pitched and am now in the process of purchasing a large wireless system to cover the nearly 300,000 sqft facility I currently work in. Because this is a government agency (sort of) we have lots of rules, and I had to present this to 3 directors and then to our President (we are structured like a corporation even thought we are technically Government). All of this has sort of eaten up my life, and is going to continue to eat up my life as this will put me squarely in the position of project manager. The time frame for execution on this is about 3 months, and is mostly waiting on a blessing from our auditor.

Fun times ahead for this little boy, and then we start talking about the toys to use this wireless network. UMPC’s here I come.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Are Sys Admins Bad?

On the list of things to annoy me in a given day, I found this little gem buried deep in my backlog of unread articles. With such a slanted question I was not surprised to see every response I expected from the snarky Bastard Operator from Hell references (really read it for some insight into how system ops were regarded). Dilbert references to upper management phb's, and a more elusive reference to lusers (mix user and loser and you get luser).

There are instances for brilliant users and dumb Admins, and the reverse as well. In the end categorically dismissing a group of people based on your limited interaction with a small subset of them makes little sense. Sys Admins are no different. Some went to college some learned in the trenches, and either could be a moron. Deal with people as you find them, and assume less. Stereotypes help those with weak minds cope with the complexity of life, but most everything is in flux and most people are trying their best. Here are some reasons that your Sys Admin may be Harried.

Because we are a cost center in most if not all businesses, our sucesses and cost savings are undervalued by default. Either way it was going to cost money in the minds of the Accounting/Finance group so the fact that you busted ass to design an elegant solution that beat other options by half or better does not stop their urge to make you trim "fat" off your projects.

Our biggest accomplishments are invisible. When we discover a bug, and fix it before anyone notices we are heroes only to ourselves. If a user discovers a bug and we fix it, the response it "finally". That is little incentive from our perspective to fix your problems. Fixing things, anything is undervalued. Everyone expects things to work by default, never assuming that flexibility in software comes with fragility.

Finally, there is often one or two of us to 100 or more of you. Those are slim odds, in terms of being able to address everyone simultaneously. This puts us in the position of making choices of what is important and what is not. Sometimes we choose wrong, but other times your problem is really yourself and we don't have the heart to tell you.


Sunday, June 03, 2007

New Media Center Setup

For the last 9 months I have been running a Gateway 901. I didn't buy it new (thank you, and have upgraded it to MCE 2005 and had a Maxtor 500gb drive in it. To up the number of tuners I added an ATI All-In-Wonder 2006 edition as well as a Hauppauge 500MCE dual tuner. Since MCE only supports 2 tuners out of the box, I followed this guide courtesy of The Green Button, a must if you are a Media Center Enthusiast. Finally I loaded it up with 1.5gb of PC2700 ram and let the recordings begin.

Unfortunately the Maxtor drive was not up to the task, and gave up the ghost after 8 months of service. I have since replaced it with a Hitachi Deskstar 500gb model. At first I was concerned that this drive would never be able to keep up as it had a lower cache, and noticeably stuttered several times the first several days during live TV playback. If it is recording 2 shows and you want to watch a third I have found that it is better to record that show and watch the recording rather than trying to watch it live. Other than that, the Hitachi has performed well and I am waiting on my RMA for the Maxtor. I think that the amount of TV my wife records is the reason for the Maxtor crapping out. At times we had upwards of 30 unwatched shows on the Media Center.

To combat disk failure, I am thinking of setting up a multi-spindle OpenSolaris iSCSI target. This is a little overboard for most homes, but gives me a chance to work more with iSCSI and help prevent unscheduled TV outages. If you haven't heard of ZFS, you owe it to yourself to watch this.


Friday, June 01, 2007

New Drool Worthy Computer: Surface

The video says it way better than words