Archive for the ‘1. technology’ Category

The alphabet according to google

September 9th, 2010

Robert Scoble tweeted this: “Heh, @techcrunch’s @Arrington must be proud. If you go to and type “tech” it suggests “crunch.” #thenewSEO.” That got me thinking: what is the alphabet according to google?

So, here is the google alphabet as of today on my computer (while logged out of google):

a – aol (then amazon, aim, apple)
b – bank of america (best buy, bing, bed bath and beyond)
c – craigslist (chase, cnn, costco)
d – dictionary (droid x, dell, drake)
e – ebay (espn, expedia, eminem)
f – facebook (facebook login, fifa, fandango)
g – gmail (google maps,, glee)
h – hotmail (hulu, homedepot, hostop)
i – ikea (iphone, imdb, inception)
j – jetblue (jet blue, jfk, jersey shore)
k – kmart (kayak, kohls, katy perry)
l – lirr (lowes, lost, linkedin)
m – mapquest (myspace, msn, mta)
n – netflix (nj transit, new york times, nordstrom)
o – orbitz (oovoo, old navy,
p – pandora (paypal, petco, people)
q – quotes (qvc, queens college, quest diagnostics)
r – realtor (rite aid, run, radio shack)
s – staples (sears, skype, sprint)
t – target (twitter, td bank, ticketmaster)
u – ups (usps, utube, univision)
v – verizon (verizon wireless, victoria secret, vlc)
w – weather (walmart, white pages, wikipedia)
x – xbox (xm radio, xe, xkcd)
y – yahoo (youtube, yahoo mail, yelp)
z – z100 (zappos, zilllow, zip codes)
1 – 105.1 (1010 wins, 103.5, 101.5)
2 – 2010 calendar (24, 2012, 25 to life lyrics)
3 – 311 (30 rock, 3ds, 3m)
4 – 4chan (411, 4th of july, 4shared)
5 – 50 cent (50 cent weight loss, 500 days of summer, 5 guys)
6 – 60 minutes (6pm, 6th ave, 6 flags)
7 – 7zip (7online, 7chan, 7 eleven)
8 – 8 mile (80’s music, 800 flowers, 808 drum)
9 – 92.3 (97.1, 90210, 92nd street y)
0 – 007 (0, 02, 0-60 times, 06880)
@ – @kingjames (@font-face,, @bpglobalpr)
& – &nbsp (&lt, &, &hearts, &amp)
. – .net (.rar, .net framework, .mkv)
-,+,!,#,$,*+,=,{,},|,[,],\,?,/,<,> — “your search did not match any documents”

Apparently these results are supposed to be based on frequencies of past queries, with some sort of time element too, and surprisingly to me, your physical location. In other words, the alphabet according to google may evolve over time–a new element of the “google dance”.

Some quick impressions:
– don’t expect to win the letter “g” easily! droid x also looks like intentional self-promotion
– who is katy perry? what is xe?
– some interesting local results: mta, 1010 wins, queens college, nj transit, 6th ave
– potentially “dangerous” results: 4chan
– some shoutouts to competitors: bing, .net, twitter, facebook, etc.

I have to say that the feature can be a little bit distracting too, but I suppose that is part of the point. In any event, very interesting. Go to to check it for yourself, and please comment if you find anything interesting in your google alphabet.

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Inspired teaching

June 17th, 2010

Using YouTube, this one man has become the most watched educator in the world. His story is pretty neat, as is his pedagogical philosophy. Doesn’t hurt that he appears to be incredibly smart and curious. I plan to check out some of the instructional videos, and see if it would be good for my kids!


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PCs are for farmers!

June 2nd, 2010

Steve Jobs has a terrific quote about the true disruptive potential of the iPad:

When we were an agrarian nation, all cars were trucks. But as people moved more towards urban centers, people started to get into cars. I think PCs are going to be like trucks. Less people will need them. And this is going to make some people uneasy.

He wants to undermine PCs, but also Macs! Wow.

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We are all connected

March 25th, 2010

Haunting, new age, and especially appropriate for this blog. Enjoy!

1. technology, 3. et cetera

The “Failing Fast” controversy

March 12th, 2010

Mark Suster wrote a provocative post about a common phrase in the entrepreneurial community called “Failing Fast.” He says:

Failing fast “is so self centered it winds me up. Tell that to the person who wrote you the $50,000 of their hard earned money and entrusted you to try your best. Fail fast? How does your brother-in-law feel about that?

Fail fast = quit and give up easy = spaghetti against the wall = no clear strategy going into your business = no ability / willingness to try and pivot as market conditions change = easy way out…”

First, his tirade smacks of hypocrisy. Does Mark re-up on all his portfolio companies when they are having trouble getting traction, or does he triage his portfolio and let the losers fail? No, each company in his VC portfolio is like strand of spaghetti and his strategy is to have one or two of them stick. Like all successful VCs, he plays the gorilla game and makes all of his profits by doubling down on a few winners and folding quickly on the losers.

Second, he misconstrues the point. His second paragraph is way off base. Failing fast = learning and pivoting. Think Odeo + Twitter. Were the initial investors of Odeo happy or unhappy that Jack Dorsey’s decision? Failing fast has nothing to do with abandoning your fiduciary duties to your investors. This is a serious and false accusation to make of entrepreneurs who talk about “failing fast.”

Third, I’ll admit that “failing fast” sounds bad. But that is on purpose, to be intentionally provocative. When we look at successful startups like Amazon, Google, Ebay, etc., their success looks obvious and easy. Revisionist history makes the rise to glory appear like smooth sailing. To combat this myth, “failing fast” focuses on the risks and, more importantly, the learning that startups and entrepreneurs must do. The unit of output for a startup is validated learning. You have a general theory, based on a set of hypotheses. You test them in order to reduce your risk as quickly possible, and pivot as necessary.

Mark’s idea about “fast” is wrong too. It isn’t about folding the company quickly; it’s about failing (and then pivoting) from smaller tests way before the whole thing is doomed.

Fundamentally, Mark misses the point. Of course, you can learn from success and that is preferred route. It is just very rare. Failures large and small are a reality, but the real question is how you deal with them. The real point is this: the opposite of success isn’t failure, it’s mediocrity.

So what do I tell “my brother-in-law who invested $50,000″? I share my hypotheses and the results of my experiments with him. And hopefully SocialFeet is more like a Twitter and not like an Odeo, but in either event, we’re along for the ride together.

1. technology, 3. et cetera

Totally blown away

March 5th, 2010

An incredible blend of technology, talent, and inspiration. Enjoy!

1. technology, 3. et cetera

Will the US Govt support Google in its battle vs China?

January 13th, 2010

It is exhilarating news that Google is going to step up to bat against China for the case of freedom of information. I think that Jonathan Zittrain has a great take on the situation:

My hope, and expectation, is that Google engineers who might have been a bit halfhearted about implementing censorship mandates in could be full-throttle in coming up with ways for Google to be viewed despite any network interruptions between site and user. There are lots of unexplored options here. They’re unexplored not because they’re infeasible, but because most sites would rather not provoke a government that filters. So they don’t undertake to get information out in ways that might evade blockages. Here, Google would have nothing more to lose, so could pioneer some new approaches. Circumvention of filtering (or other blockages, for that matter) tends to happen on the user side of things, seeking out proxies like the Tor network, or

I love how Zittrain examines the situation from a strategic perspective, with moves and responses. I also find it provocative to consider what a massive organization like Google could do to help Chinese citizens workaround government filters.

But I think that Zittrain does not follow his chess game to its ultimate conclusion. If Google can help a large minority of Chinese citizens to get unfettered access to information, the Chinese government will press the US to enforce its policies. Presumably, Google can win the spy-vs-spy tech game with China. But China has a lot of political chips to cash in to try to win the support of the US government to rein in Google.

Already, the State Department is recognizing that this issue is extremely important (although they have not yet announced a policy or substantive statement). But when push comes to shove, will it support Google in its battle vs. China?

I certainly hope it does. Go google!

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Wanted: Front-end Engineer with UX Sensibility at SocialFeet (NYC)

January 5th, 2010

So, happy new year! (Sorry for such sparse posting here on Good news: we’ve made enough progress with customers, product and fundraising that social feet is hiring! It’s a cool position if you are a ninja with the browser and are interested in emerging social tech like OAuth, Facebook Connect, Open Social, etc.

Read the whole job description, consider applying and pass it on here:

I am having fun with the recruiting process, so I may post some thoughts about it in a future post. Cheers!

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Must watch video: Lessig on Copyright

November 9th, 2009

How copyright shapes, and is shaped by, the values we wish to promote in culture and society? Should copyright promote a society of consumers or a society of producers? How has technology changed the very paradigm that copyright was envisioned by our founders? Lessig’s lecture is a tour de force.

1. technology, 2. politics

DYI: How to get unlimited calling for $2.95 a month

September 4th, 2009

I’ve recently moved, and as “the person in charge of administering the network,” I undertook a project to re-vamp my phone service. Why? Here are my requirements:

1. The call quality must be terrific
2. I must be able to use a cordless phone for calls at home
3. I must be able to make and receive calls using a normal phone number
4. I want to be able to receive calls on my computer when I’m on the road
5. I want to make it easy for people to contact me even though we have poor cell coverage at our house
6. I want to pay as little as possible

Pretty formidable list! To make this happen, you have to understand that the main problem is getting a phone number linked to an SIP. In a way, phone numbers are kinda like buying URLs. Then you have to pick at VOIP provider, I found this great resource, which helped steer me to callcentric. In totality, here’s my solution:

1. Get a Google Voice account (sadly, invitation only–but free if you can get one!)
2. Get a CallCentric “dirt-cheap phone number” (and avoid the 911 fee) — only $2.95 per month
3. Buy a VOIP box (here’s mine: 1-time $70 charge or less if you search around)

That’s it. OK, there are a few drawbacks that might annoy some people. With the current set up, I have to use my Google Voice’s web interface to launch outbound calls (i.e., I can’t directly dial from the handset.) You have to have a Google Voice account, which is a show-stopper for most people. Also, the set up of the VOIP box is unnecessarily complex but at least well documented. Mitigating this problem, we have another more normal Vonage line that has regular dialing.

But on the plus side, people can call my Google Voice number and get me whether I am at home or out and about on my cell! Through google voice, I get free SMS’s and my voicemails are transcribed into emails for free. And the call quality is indeed terrific. My landline is a fashionable Palo Alto (650) number. Best of all, I now have unlimited calling for $2.95 a month!!!

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Missing the game winning shot

September 4th, 2009

Fred Wilson wrote an interesting list of 10 characteristics of great companies. My contribution was suggesting an 11th characteristic: “Great companies fail repeatedly – and learn from their mistakes. ” But even more importantly, check out this classic Michael Jordan ad that is the inspiration for that idea:

My transcription of it:

Michael Jordan talking: “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Gives me tingles to watch it!

1. technology, 2. politics, 3. et cetera , , , ,

Making more by charging less

August 7th, 2009

A few months ago, I posted this analytical piece arguing that itunes should charge less to earn more. Interestingly, this software designer has experienced in real life what I was theorizing about. He reduced the price of his software package from $40 down to $10. Guess what? He only made $4,000 at the $40 level, but he made $58,800 at the $10 level. Yup, he experienced 15-fold increase (1470%!) in sales volume at the lower price level!

Check out the entire post for more details and analysis. It’s pretty interesting, and I think useful advice for anyone who is in the digital goods business.

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The Isle of Libertarian Men

August 7th, 2009

Peter Thiel, founding CEO of PayPal and early Facebook investor, has written an controversial and interesting essay “The Education of a Libertarian.” The controversial part is where blames the death of “capitalistic democracy” on welfare and women:

“Since 1920, the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women — two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians — have rendered the notion of “capitalist democracy” into an oxymoron.”

But interesting part is where he proposes a realistic utopia for Libertarians. In particular, he proposes that “seasteading” is the best hope for a libertarian utopia since it is “more realistic than space travel” and less “imaginary” than an escape to cyberspace.

(As an aside, he presents a novel argument that current financial crisis was created by too much government rather than unfetter capitalism. He thinks that the crisis was “facilitated by a government that insuranced against all sorts of moral hazards.”)

He acknowledges that his past efforts to promote libertarianism have been less effective than he’d like because his was just “preaching to the choir.”  So, if you can’t convert everyone to libertarianism, who needs them?  Retreat to cyberspace for the time being, then to islands in the sea.  But ultimately, we ought to have a separate space pod for each Libertarian — that is utopia indeed.

Regardless of your political ideology, I think that this essay is provocative and worth reading in its entirity;.  Enjoy!

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SocialFeet is hiring a Lead Developer

June 11th, 2009

I am excited to announce that we are hiring a Lead Developer at I think the tech challenges are interesting, and that the financial upside is large. Here is a brief quote of the tech challenge:

From a database perspective, you have transient streams (not just persistent relationships), continuous (not one-time) queries, sequential (not random) access and unpredictable data arrival patterns. From a UI perspective, you have ajax-y goodness a la Google Wave to manage synchronous and asynchronous messages in a small, yet highly contextualized, footprint. We have to define new standards and APIs for activity stream capturing and publishing. And our service has to scale not just to the total number of page views on our network of sites but to the number of interactions on each of these sites.

To promote this, we’ve posted our job description at Craigslist, Techcrunch, LinkedIn and other places. I’m now blogging about it, and we’ve tweeted it and posted it to Facebook. But the definitive place to check it out and send people who might be interested is:

Please pass the link on to anyone you know who might be interested in working for us!

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