Archives for 2005


12 Satellite Dishes, 5000+ Channels, 32 TV Sets.

No, I don’t have all those.   

Al Jessup has the 12 dishes, beaming in over 5000 TV and radio channels:

(The Register-Herald, via Bareknucklepolitics)

But where to watch all this?  He only has 3 TV sets in the house … perhaps he should join forces with Webster McBride of Berkeley, CA, who collected 32 TV sets .. some used as patio furniture.

(SF Chronicle)




“Share Your Pain” – Windows Torture

WincrashAnyone using a Windows computer must have seen this screen way too many times. My very unscientific estimate is that

– about a third of us send the error report

– another third does not for fear of getting caught with “grey” programs on their system

– the rest don’t cause they are just too frustrated…

Well, if you look at this 4-minute video, you will be motivated to click “send” from now on…  (hat tip: OnlyOnce)

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CourseCafe, the “Other FaceBook”


Coursecafe_250x40 is for Students’ Academic life what the FaceBook has become for their Social Life.

One of the privileges of moderating the SVASE VC Breakfast Sessions is that I get to meet interesting startups before they “come out”. JustStudents, founded by CEO Puneet Gupta is definitely one of the most promising ones – so promising in fact, that I better hurry up writing this, before they become well known:-) No kidding: TechCrunch recently profiled their main offering, CourseCafe – within days an entrepreneurial senior from Pepperdine University contacted Puneet, and in a matter of two weeks set up a pilot launch at his campus.

A very simple way to define a new product / business is by way of comparison to an existing one: calling CourseCafe the for students does not do it justice, but is a good first attempt. We could also define it as a combination of vertical search, social tagging, networking, personal productivity and collaboration tools. The key tenet is to make every aspect of college students’ academic life – yes, that remaining small percentage they don’t already spend having fun on the Facebook – easier, more productive.

To begin with, CourseCafe uploads all departments and course information of the participating Universities, then helps students’ research on the Net, incorporating their tagged results in it’s knowledge base. Over years this builds up an immense knowledge base: students get the most relevant results by seeing what their peers taking the same courses at previous semesters tagged appropriately. They get better results in less time. Unlike the FaceBook, which is an online replica of real-life campuses, I tend to think it will make sense for CourseCafe to extend their reach outside individual campuses; after all students of the same discipline can enrich the knowledge base, even is their course syllabus isn’t exactly the same.

Puneet has a few other tricks up his sleeve: StudentVision is a personal productivity product that should be a must on every student’s laptop. It allows for more extensive course management (tracking syllabus, activites, instructors, assignments, deadlines, grades..etc), provides a self-updating calendar for both course-related and personal use that communicates to mobile devices, and has a powerful note-taker (drag&drop, import/export, pen support for tablet PC’s… etc), and facilities to organize one’s research data on-and offline. StudentVision will be fully valuable when it’s completely integrated with CourseCafe, but even then I see it as a powerful tool, somewhat of a Microsoft-killer that saves students a few hundred $ … who needs Office, OneNote, when you have this?

A third element of the “grand scheme” is FacultyVision, which … well, you guessed it right:-) Eventually all the three pieces will seamlessly work together, but for now, as every startup JustStudents needs a singular focus, and that is on rolling out CourseCafe to more campuses. SignUp for CourseCafe on their website. Those interested in using StudentVision can download it for free.

The individual productivity tool will be useful from day one, the network – knowledge-sharing effect obviously kicks in as more and more students use the system. This points me to another comparison: The only asset FaceBook has is their members – quite significant asset, over 5M users, 70% of which use the system every day – that said it’s still just members, and students being quite experimental, there’s not much to hold them back when another, sexier system comes along; just check out XuQa, claiming to be present on 7500 campuses. (Update: see Paul Kedrosky on lack of stickyness in Social Networks)
CourseCafe, on the other hand build intellectual property: the cumulative knowledge of generations of students will be an asset hard to leave behind, in case a “wannabe-site” arrives. No wonder this startup has already been approached by a major scientific / technical publisher as well as a leading portal/search engine.

Keep an eye on them …

Update (12/04): David Hornik writes about “Social Network 3.0” in Ventureblog.

Update (12/06): In the week since writing this post, CourseCafe went live on 6 more campuses. The list is now: Drexel, Pepperdine, Rose Hulman, RPI, SJSU, Stanford, UC Davis. Wow!

Update (1/22): Puneet started his blog. High time!

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Full Feeds or Nothing – but that’s just my vote


The partial vs. full feed debate is back.  Duncan at Blog Herald provides an overview of the debate. 

I’ve always made my preference for full feed clear, yet I am still reading your partial feeds, Duncan 🙂  Admittedly, it’s mostly scanning nowadays, I just don’t take the time to click and go to your site that often – in this respect I take Robert Scoble’s side.

Dave Winer adds his preference for full feeds, but notes that excerpts are OK, if they are intelligent summaries, not the first x words auto-truncated.  My sour point, exactly:  I don’t mind taking the extra step and edit the summary, but my blogging platform does not allow selective use of excerpts / summaries / full text the way I like:

  • Full post in the RSS feed
  • Auto-created excerpt (say, first 100 words) on the Blog Main Page, with manual override option
  • Hand-edited 2–3 line summary that other blogs can use in the trackback detail.

John Roberts votes for excerpts, since he likes to scan fast, and only occasionally read full posts.  Well, yes, but that’s what RSS Readers are for:  as James Robertson explains,  use one that shows summaries in one pane, full downloaded text in another – Tom Raftery joins in, and so do I.

At the end of the day it comes down to why we are blogging.  Those of us who want to share our views, want to be heard on certain subjects and look at blogging simply as a way to carry out a conversation, will likely prefer full feeds.  I am in that club and simply think that in this world of infoglut either you make reading your blog convenient, or expect to lose readers who will just move on to others serving up similar content in a more convenient way.   That said, I fully understand bloggers whose primary reason to blog is revenue-generation; content is secondary, just a means to attrack readers and get the click the ads.  Of course they will always want readers to come to their site, thus only providing a partial feed.   For them, it’s a business after all.

Update (12/8):  Excerpted Feeds are Evil

Update (12/30)Post full feeds. Please. (WeBreakStuff)

Update ( 2/21)

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Only in San Francisco…


Resumercial: Another Business Process ReEngineered


Just minutes after I posted “ Rebates: the Business Process that will Never be Re-engineered “ I’ve discovered Resumercial, a completely reenginered approach to the process of getting hired – or not.  Watch the video here.  (originally found on digg)

Kudos for creativity.  Too bad he applied for a Product Management position and failed to mention a single word of his qualification in that area.  Oh, well, perhaps this was just the beta, and he’ll fix it by Rel 1.0.   Actually, that might be smart when you apply to Google .. after all, most of their products are in permanent Beta…

Talk about releases… have you noticed how I use the term ReEnginered?  That’s the web-version (albeit 1.0), using the form Re-enginered would have been sooooo 90’s 🙂 

Update (12/8):  I don’t know if Resumercial worked or not, but here’s another approach, that apparently works: Hire Me, Google.

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Rebates: the Business Process that will Never be Re-engineered

Winnie Mirchandani started a series of posts on business processes that badly need “angioplasty“.   Processing rebates is certainly a most convoluted process – unfortunately by design.  As Business Week points out, 40% of all rebates never get redeemed  – and the industry counts on it.  

  • My best rebate experience:
    • Costco.  Simple, online rebate processing, prompt payment, online audit available for years.
  • Worst rebate experience:
    • Handspring

      (The Palm spinoff reunited with Palm again).  Sent in not only

      paperwork, but an actual, working older Palm III as trade-in

      unit.  The $100 rebate never arrived, not even after numerous

      phone-calls and emails.  They demanded copies of everything – but

      of course I can’s just copy the trade-in unit.  My

      loss:  $100 rebate, $50 trade-in value for the old Palm, about a

      full day of my time fighting the bureaucracy.   Did they lose

      me as a customer?  No.. still purchased all subsequent Treo


Christmas shopping season is here, and we’re

all loyal players in the Grand Customer Deception game … I’m afraid the

angioplasty won’t be performed any time soon.

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The Authentic Web 2.0 Validator

Forget checklists, playing the Web Bingo … go to the one-and-only automated Web 2.0 authentication tool (hat tip: Vinnie Mirchandani).

Here’s the verdict on just how compliant some blogs are:

  • techcrunch 8 out of 17
  • crunchnotes 2 out of 18
  • businessweek/the_thread/blogspotting/ 5 out of 18
  • battellemedia/ 2 out of 17
  • dealarchitect.typepad 14 out of 20
  • micropersuasion/ 7 out of 14
  • blog.softtechvc/ 8 out of 19
  • bubble20.blogspot 4 out of 19
  • ross.typepad/ 4 out of 16
  • sapventures.typepad 5 out of 16
  • horsepigcow/ 10 out of 14
  • Minding the Planet 6 out of 20
  • zoliblog 6 out of 15

Oh, well, the Web 2.0 workgroup must be 100%, let’s see:

  • web20workgroup/ 7 out of 18

How about some applications?

  • zimbra 3 out of 15
  • zvents 5 out of 18
  • writely 1 out of 20
  • sphere 3 out of 18
  • meebo 0 out of 14
  • loomia 6 out of 19
  • Goowy 2 out of 17
  • flock 4 out of 18
  • TailRank 5 out of 19
  • sqlfusion 2 out of 18
  • 24sevenoffice 1 out of 17

Search Engines? Wow, look at who has the lead:

  • google 1 out of 18
  • yahoo 3 out of 17
  • msn 4 out of 20

Surprising results from the “Old World“:

  • sap 4 out of 17
  • oracle 2 out of 19
  • ibm 3 out of 16
  • walmart 2 out of 18
  • ge 3 out of 19

All right, for all of you not happy with your own score … do you have a suspicion? Confirm or clear it here.

Then, perhaps, buy the T-shirt here. (Charlie, I’m expecting a fat commission check…)

Update (11/16) : The Great Web 2.0 Joke List


Google’s Funny Error Messages

“We are sorry but we don’t have maps”.  Then what do do they have?


Almost as funny as Gmails infamous “ Cross your fingers and try again in a few minutes” message.


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Ad-supported On-Demand ERP? No Way….

Ad-supported content? Yes. Personal Productivity tools? Yes. Enterprise Software? No way. (IMHO)

There’s an interesting, Microsoft-induced debate at ZDNet re. the possibiliy of funding free On-Demand software via advertising:

It all started with Microsof app’s but from there it’s just a step to arrive to Gerge Colony of Forrester: I foresee a world in which even enterprise applications like financials, ERP (enterprise resource planning), and supply chain software will be advertising-funded.”

My take: that we have a lot of web-based content supported by ads is already a fact. Consumer software, personal productivity tools? Quite possible.

Enterprise Software is a different animal. Why? It is used by businesses, who have their own business processes and workflow. Clicking on ads would be a distraction from that business process, I can’t possibly see why companies would support it. True, there will be major changes in the delivery/ pricing model for enterprise software. When prices come down from the stratospheric heights set by Oracle, SAP et al and become more reasonable, a’la Salesforce, NetSuite, SugarCRM, 24SevenOffice, SmartCompany ..etc, my bet is companies would rather pay those prices then accept the productivity-loss caused by their employees clicking around the Net for hours a day…

Update (11/29) : SAP’s Jeff Nolan on Ad-supported Business Apps.