Apr 30

B5Media Growth

A nice piece over at Chitika Blog, where Jeremy Wright, President/CEO of B5 Media talks about how the network developed and some lessons learnt. He discusses the 4 key things that could be regarded as the company mission statement:

1. Make our bloggers famous – every chance we got we wanted to promote our bloggers

2. Value community – we honestly felt (and now know) that a strong internal community can make anything happen

3. Focus on great writers and keeping them happy – do this and the rest (traffic, revenue, etc) will happen

4. Build an industry – we’ve believed from day 1 that working with other networks, other owners and building real partnerships and sharing resources was the only way to turn the hodgepodge of networks into a real industry

Meanwhile, Behind the Buzz, the blog I’m writing for B5, has ‘officially’ launched.

Apr 26

A New Treo

Through the kind people from Palm (and their PR agency Edelman) I received a nice Treo 680 to play with for a while to see how I like it (and then I have to send it back). This all started at Blogher Business, where they had a stall set up with devices and info. Up until now, I’ve been managing on my feature-less Pay as You Go phone but was planning on upgrading and was not sure what to get. This gives me a chance to try something out and see how it suits me. The phone I had in the UK was OK, but I didn’t use nearly half the stuff it was capable of, partly because I wanted it to do online things and I was always aware of the cost involved. Now, I’ve upgraded to a all you can eat data plan and the incentive is different – I’m paying for it already so I better use it ;-)

The only requirement is that I use the Treo and I blog about it. So whether it’s good or bad, you’ll here about it. I’ll also be using the camera (still and video) to take records. It means I’ll be able to take more shots than if I had to lug around the SLR all the time; some will go on Flickr and some here.

Opening up the box, i found plug attachments (one for every style as far as I can see). the charger is a good design, you can just slip the plug prongs on and off to change it for the country you are in. There was also a headset and a USB connector (through which you can also charge the device). the headset is fine, but I tend to work my way through them quickly; also why don’t device manufacturers allow you to plug in a standard jack when they give you a music player. The only thing missing from the box was the software CD; it also did not come with an instruction manual, but the online documents and the ondevice tutorial were fine. The lack of software was solved through downloading straight from the site.

All of done today is set up the email client, synched with Gmail through POP and installed Goosync, to allow me to match up my calendar. Although I can use gmail mobile, I quite like the client version, makes it slightly easier to manage. The only issue I had is I needed to restart the pop connection on gmail; it wanted to download everything since November, which led to it freezing up on me. Not the best idea, so restarting it from today seemed a far better idea.

Apr 25

Cargo Cult Activity

And I should shout out a bit more to Adam Tinworth, someone i shamelessly forgot to mention that I met at Blogher. I’d been reading Adams blog for a while, so when an English gentleman wondered up to the table where Ewan and I were sitting, there was a moment of name recognition when I suddenly realised who he was. We had a good time at the conference but for some reason I still have not blogged about it.

I should have, as I owe him for the Cargo Cult metaphor which I’ve used quite a few times

I described it as “cargo cult” blogging – knowing the form of what blogging should look like, and attempting to recreate it without understanding how it actually works. And that’s exactly what’s happening in many businesses right now. This doesn’t in any way excuse what they did, but it does, at least, explain it.

I love the metaphor and it describes exactly the attitude of many people who dabble in the space. They know they have to but don’t understand the whys and wherefores of it and so get into som3 horrible messes at times, such as the one between the magazine and Seth Godin. So next time I’m in London or he’s in New York, it would be good to catch up with him again.

Apr 25

My Telegraph

Via Adam Tinworth, I see that the Telegraph is launching a new service, called My Telegraph. Y

My Telegraph allows any reader to create their own blog, store all the comments they make on other readers’ blogs and save articles to read later. Version one of the site, which you can see below, will be ready to go live soon.

This is a different way to go than USAToday, which allow you to comment on stories and vote for them (but never against them). It’s targeted at non-bloggers and I think it’s a great way to get interaction with the paper and with likeminded individuals around issues and news stories.

Apr 24

Flickr and Upcoming connection

I’ve never seen this before, a Flickr photo with an upcoming event tag. Sheila added these tags manually. But as they are both now on the same login, I guess it can be done automatically now…wonder if we will see this?

Flickr and Upcoming connection

Apr 23

World Record for Coconut Clopping

London claimed the world record back from New York today as 4382 people clopped their coconuts together to celebrate Spamalot’s first year in London. That’s more than 3000 more than New York managed. This was followed by a screening of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, whic the website kindly reminds you has a 15 certificate, so all under-age people have to leave. So how do they police that then?

Terry Jones signs autographs

Picture from Clare and Dave

Posted in fun
Apr 23

24 Hours of Flickr

Flickr have announced a ‘day in the life of’ project. On 5th May, take your photos, send them to the group, map them, comment on them. Join in the fun and you may get your image published and featured in Flickr Events.

Flickr 24 hours

One of the things that Flickr is great at, one of its defining characteristics, is the community surrounding the application. And here’s yet a further example of how it embraces the people who enjoy the site and gets them to join in an event. Look at the responses to what else happens on 5 May, although no-one yet has mentioned that last year it was International No Pants day, (luckily in the US sense of the word meaning trousers). This year, it’s 4 May, pity as I think we could have done with some photos of that ;-)

Apr 23

TV news of the future

I like Dave Winer’s idea for how TV news may evolve, allowing you to choose what you want to watch. He’s made a mock up here. Let me choose what stories I want to here and, more importantly, when I want to stop hearing about stuff. There comes a point when there is no new information, just new opinion to fill the airtime. Those are the times that it’s useless to me – but may not be for others who like this stuff. Let us choose which bits we want.

Apr 20

Google tracks everything

Google today launches its Web History feature that allows you to track your all your web activity with the simple addition of a Google account and the Google Toolbar. So you will now give even more of your life to the engine that is out to know everything about you, with your web history, your email, your blogging history and your click streams. Decide how much of your attention stream you wish to share. You can pause the data collection but it may be easier to have 2 browsers.

However, one interesting thing that is there is the ability to export your attention stream, to take it out of Google via RSS, so you should be able to grab it and move it elsewhere, to analyse it or to feed it into another tool. Google will also analyse it for you.

Good and bad – you can track you activity and use it for whatever you need. But so can Google.

Apr 20

Video connections

I spent a fair bit of last night (when I wasn’t travelling back to work because I’d left my keys there) watching live video streams. The first was from Chris Pirillo; tuning into Chris I found him talking to Kosso, whom I mentioned in an earlier post. Sharing the broadcast with Chris was Eric Rice and he was later joined by Ben Metcalfe. With 2 laptops set up, I could have the video in one place and the chat and other browsers open in the other so I could multitask and it came closer to tv type entertainment, in the background until something interesting happening.

Over the course of the evening, there around 120 people in the chat, on average (I think). Many of these had come from various forums and sites or from the front page of ustream and were asking the questions about why this was being done, why people were watching it etc. I know why I was watching it – I read the blogs of Chris and Eric and I know Kosso and Ben in person. I was also trying to get my head round the service and see how if it could be used at work. By making it easy to set up and stream, from a mobile situation, it opens up the possibilities to allow direct connection with users of a brand. So far, these are what immediately spring to mind.

  • Straightforward sponsorship. For someone with a following in the right demographic, sponsoring their costs is a good way of connecting with that demo, in an unobtrusive way.
  • Adding it onto an event. If a brand is running some kind of event, then it can be extended out to the web to increase the audience. Live streaming and feedback to the people on camera through the chat. Even if only a couple of hundred (there are scaling issues at the moment) they are likely to be early adopters and ‘sneezers’, spreading the word. Capturing the live feed and posting it later also increases the spread.
  • You could take this slightly further and add the feed into banner ads. More disruptive but able to spread to a wider interested audience but may be prevented by the scaling issues
  • Supplementing a chat. One of the brand I work on already runs chats a few times a year; adding video to this would increase the value and the engagement as the attendees get to see the hosts.

There’s bound to be more once I get my head around it more. This is not currently mass media, but for offering a direct and immediate connection between a brand and its fans, it could be perfect.

Apr 19

The spread of the machine is us/ing us

If you read tech blogs regularly, you’ll have seen this video:

A sublime introduction to how the web is changing. Sue Thomas, a wonderful woman I bumped into a Blogher, has a post about her experience at the Web2.0 conference, where she met up with Mike Wesch who explained how it spread:

Wesch explained that he had made the video to accompany an academic journal paper, and sent it to two techies and eight anthropology colleagues to check out whether it worked – something we’ve all done lots of times. One of the anthropologists posted it on a blog with three users (according to Wesch) and within no time at all he had collected 100 views on YouTube. He was incredibly excited. When it hit 253 views he was so proud he told his Department Head. The next day he woke up to find himself featured on his own DIGG front page. Then he got 450 Diggs. That weekend he and his wife stayed up late watching the numbers rise. On 2 Feb his video went to the top 5 on youtube and stayed there for 3 weeks, dislodging even Superbowl adverts. Within a week of posting it was on 6000 blogs according to Technorati, and after a week mentions of it began to appear in newsprint. After another week, it had appeared in papers in every continent around the globe.

Apr 19

Simpsons’ Quiz

I don’t really watch the Simpsons, never really got into it. So imagine my surprise with I got over half the questions right on this short BBC quiz put together to ‘celebrate’ their 20 years on the air. The programme is obviously far more insidious than I realised.

Posted in TV
Apr 18

A Day of Silence

Ewan is blogging his response to the proposed One Day of Blogging silence

In the Great War (1914-18), over nine million people died. To remember them, those who have fallen in the Second World War, and others who have fallen in battle, an annual silence for two minutes is held on the eleventh day of the eleventh month; Rememberance Day.

I therefore find the initial campaign idea of the ‘One Day Blog Silence,’ where people will fall silent for twenty four hours to honour the thirty three victims of the Virginia Tech shootings to be both out of proportion and, quite frankly, wrong. Yes there is a huge personal tragedy here, but that’s life. That’s what it means to be human. I don’t see us stopping for thirty three people run over in a major city every day. Or (to go to the extreme scale) the hundreds of thousands of dead in Iraq.

So I went to the page and found this:

On April 30th 2007, the Blogosphere will hold a One-Day Blog Silence in honor of the victims at Virginia Tech. More then 30 died at the US college massacre.

And my first response – annoyance. Who was this person who was talking for me, controlling what I can and cannot do; trying to control what people can say through their own platforms. Following the links from Technorati, I find similar sentiments, for many reasons. Bonnie at cribchronicles.com

i have no problem with you choosing to be silent on April 30th to honour the VT dead. i know your intentions are good. but to try to co-opt the blogosphere en masse to accord with your intent by making a declaration of silence, you leave some of us in the terrible position of appearing to disrespect the deaths at VT by honouring our own dead with words. words are all i have to give my son. and that date – or any other – is not yours, nor mine, to own. invite people to join in your campaign, sure. but do not dictate others’ speech or silence at will.

The idea came from Steli Efti, who found he could not write about how he felt about the tragedy that happened on Monday. The proposal comes from the heart, a feeling that they have to show their support. And whilst I fully understand that, co-opting every single blog writer is not necessarily the right way.

Read Lorrelle’s story of being in Israel on Holocaust Memorial Day, when the whole country grinds to a halt and what that time means to her. I’ve stood on the streets of London the week after the July Tube bombings for 2 minutes and watched Oxford street still as the buses halted. As Ewan says, the UK (and much of the Commonwealth, holds 2mins silence for Remembrance Sunday. I have a choice to remember the dead that way or to do so in another manner. And that will not include a whole day not expressing myself.

Virginia Tech suffered an unimaginable tragedy for an educational establishment in the US, a relatively safe country compared to many around the world, where war or random acts of violence happen every day. The VT killings happened in one of the most media-intense countries, where there was nothing but the story on the news. It’s also one of the more connected countries, and first person accounts through video, through live streaming, blogging, memorial pages and everything else let you watch and read multiple viewpoints on the day’s happening. (and the good and bad of the collision of those 2 worlds is a completely different story). The victims of this crime will be remembered in multiple ways – so spare some time to think of those who will not be given the same focus.

Apr 17

Kosso on Ustream

We’ve had justin.tv and now the Podtech guys Robert Scoble and Jeremiah Owyang are walking around Web2.0 with their live streaming on Ustream, which is a great way to see the some of the conference without having to do the travel. And Ustream is open for all to stream their life to the web. Kosso, who has previously streamed his audio and music collection, has now added the video to the mix, so I can listen to his music and a surreal one-sided conversation as he talks back to people on the IRC or just rants in general.

Kosso on ustream

Apr 16

Google Speaker Event – Luiz Barroso

Last week I attended the latest in the NYC Google Speaker event series: “Luiz Barroso, Google Distinguished Engineer, will talk about “Watts, Faults, and Other Fascinating Dirty Words Computer Architects Can No Longer Afford to Ignore”. Luiz was talking about things way beyond my skill or experience but I still got some great insights into designing hardware and infrastructure. That’s mainly why I go to things like this – it’s new information, just expands what I know a little about. So here’s some notes from the talk; there was a lot more to it than I noted.

  • power and energy usage have not been very sexy when it comes to designing architecture and that has caught up with people. It is now the centre of plenty of attention.
  • In the 90′s there two big research areas, the MHZ race and the DSM (Distributed Shared Memory) race. The first for accelerated single thread performance and second to improve the efficiency of shared memory
  • Moore’s law is fundamentally about transistors. The issue is becoming power; they are energy wasteful and temperature control is difficult. Power costs are increasing and look like being more expensive than the hardware. It may tend towards the Mobile model, where you get a energy contract and then the hardware thrown in for free.
  • they are focusing on reducing conversion losses and improving power conversion. On PCs the power supply consumes much of the energy, with 55-70% efficiency. .
  • Multi-core processes help reduce energy use. You need to design software differently to take advantage of it, building efficient concurrent programs.
  • Google has been monitoring diskfailure. Common wisdom is that failure rate is <1% and temperature is a big factor. So we looked at 100k+ drives over 5 yrs. Failure rates were ~8% after 2 years, all way larger than manufacturers rates and temperature did not appear affect the rate. Trying to find a predictive algorithm has had little success; more than half the disk failures happened with no indicative errors and the arrival of errors did not indicate time to failure. The models are good for predicting population wide trends, ie predicting how many failures you will have and how many replacement disks you need. And also for telling you that temperature does not matter that much.
  • Looking at power requirements, the average data centre costs $10-22/watt used, whereas US average energy costs $0.8/watt/year. It costs more to build a data centre than to power it for 10 years. YOu have to optimise energy usage to be close to capacity, thinking about power provisioning, how many machines can be used, the unused watts cost.
  • Studying power usage, we found the data centre never hit peak capacity, even if a rack on its own could have. A PC uses about 60W at rest, 120 at full usage; a human uses around 60W at rest and 1200W at high usage. We are far more efficient – machines have a factor of 2 between idle and peak, humans a factor of 20. To improeve energy efficiency for data centres, we should focus on reducing the usage of idle power.
  • So by reducing the idle power, with no change in peak, you can get a 40-50% savings. You can reduce the peak power requirements for the data centre as a whole by reducing the machine idle consumption.
Apr 16

Ultimate Frisbee

Eric’s being twittering about Saturday Frisbee for a few weeks now so on Saturday I decided to join in. About a dozen people turned up and had a great game before retiring for celebratory drinks. Bill has a great set which includes some in-action shots as well as just the drinking ones. Here’s on of my favourites from the night, from Grace.

Post Frisbee MEal

Apr 12

Cubicgarden visiting

Ian and Sarah Forrester are coming to visit New York at the end of the month, so I thought I’d drag him out to meet some of the New York people. I was in the process of organising an event, but co-incidentally the NextNY Social outing is on the same night so I’ve concluded that it is easier to hi-jack that! So we’ll all be turning up at the CopperSmith bar around 7ish on 27th April. If you want to come along, just sign up on the wiki – even if you are not part of NextNY currently.

Ian Forrester Image from Tom Morris

Apr 12

WordPress Meetup

Matt and Toni are in town at the moment and had proposed a meetup. After a bit of a mix up (they were late, the attendees all want to the pub, but the long way round) it all sorted itself out and 14 of us sat down at the Heartland Brewery (who gave us a private room at the back and treated us very well) for a few drinks, food and a lot of nattering. A great night, culminating in the the last 4 returning to our respective domiciles via a late night walk in Central Park. Hopefully John will post his photos soon.