In the last week I have received 6 fake friend requests and 3 hacked messages.
Considering that I have less than 150 "friends" on myspace and over 550 facebook buddies, I think this is exceptionally high.
How many fake friend requests have I received from facebook?
None. Zero. Zilch.
Why is it that a company bought by Murdoch can not figure out a simple thing like user privacy? It would appear to be the hallmark of excellence or at the very least the most important piece of user identity.
User privacy and hackability are of utmost concern for most users.
Personally I have come to the point of no return. I just do not care anymore about my privacy on the net. In very few instances do I care. Its only in email and on financial services websites.
Social networking websites have horrible security. Therefore I never leave important information on these sites. I do not trust facebook or myspace with anything. But I still see their value. Yet facebook, despite all these application and group requests has my loyalty over myspace. Myspace is the internet porn of social networking. I hope it dies a slow death.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
In the last week I have received 6 fake friend requests and 3 hacked messages.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Hamlet I heard you: No not really.
I am staying in the town of Kokkedal right now on the northern coast of Zealand about 25 kilometers outside of Kobenhavn. Its gray most of the day (perpetually overcast) and the temperature hovers between 2-6 Centigrade.
View Larger Map
We are about 16 kilometers outside of Helsignor, the town where Shakespeare attributes the play of Hamlet to the castle of Elsinore (see the resemblance).
I rode my bike there yesterday along the winding coast. It was a great day for a ride, with a cool breeze keeping me from overheating in my biking attire (jeans and sweatshirt).
The medieval town has changed little over the past few centuries. The streets are still cobblestone, the tourists are still Swedish and the castle remains standing century after century.
I decided to not travel into the actual castle, tickets are 75kr (15 bucks), but I walked around the moat and castle to observe that it looks like most castles (old and dreary). Instead I opted to visit a local bar at around 1 in the afternoon.
Surrounded by local pensioners I devoured my first Danish beer: Wiibroe. After a week of staying out here, yesterday was the first time that I actually had anything to drink. At 14kr a piece it was well worth the wait.
Wanting to stay warm before my ride back to Kokkedal I walked over to the local mall. I was lucky enough to catch the Santa Lucia "winter lights festival". Its a song carried out by the local girls to celebrate the dark days of winter and the light that comes from family (I think thats about right). Anyway, its a beautiful song to hear and it was great that through happenstance I was able to catch the a Santa Lucia song in action.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Plucked out of New York I find myself at some crossroads. Luckily I brought my trusty laptop along for the ride to Denmark.
Each day there is a limited amount of sunlight, which translates to some minor constraints of lifestyle. I have to wake up early enough catch the first rays of light and be home by 4 pm in order to not get lost trying to find my way back. But once I do arrive home there is this big question surrounding "What do I do for the next seven hours?". I could read books, cook elaborate dinners, blog or construct the world's largest gingerbread home. I've decided to catch up on American television series that I don't have time to watch during the work week.
Two days ago I received my beta invite to Hulu, that new social video website, hosted by NBC U, News Corp and now CBS. Its supposed to help revolutionize how we view television content online. Well, as pleased as I was to finally receive my invite (it was requested a month ago), I was unable to access any of the content. Why? Probably because I am in Europe right now.
I attempted to access Joost, which gave me similar not working responses. However, I was able to access their TKO (Technical Knock Out Network) and the Sports Illustrated Network via Joost. Access to National Geographic via Joost was non-existent.
How am I supposed to become a dedicated user of these services when they do not function half the time? I find myself in a rural village in Northern Zealand, Denmark with access to weird Danish television series and all I want to do is watch Heroes. Yes, I should be soaking up the culture and that I am, but there is still some downtime and until I understand all the subtitles it will be worthwhile for me to have access to American programming.
I don't care if its packaged with local danish advertisements, but there should be some way for me to access this content. I have resorted to bit torrents and recently finished watching Kid Nation. 40 Kids, 40 Days, No adults and the New Mexico desert. We should try this out with politicians. 40 politicians, 40 days, No adults and the New Mexico desert.
I tried accessing Kid Nation from Veoh, but just like CBS.com, Hulu.com and Joost I was unable to access this content overseas. Stupid considering that I can just download them from bit torrents. These damn studios are shooting themselves in the foot by not providing content easily. Instead of getting some advertising revenues through legitimate means, they are getting zero revenues from me and anyone else in Europe or beyond who just downloads them from a competing service.
We live in a global economy. The internet should be the first place where laws, revenue shares and content distribution are being set up for mass global consumerism. I realize this is "uncharted" territory, but in the interest of companies responsible for content generation (which I respect and am willing to pay for) I say get with the times and make JV's/partnership deals with the rest of the world, so the US is not so far behind in the digital sphere.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Greetings to all from Kobenhavn, Danmark.
I made it here without any broken bones or scary stories. Just a smooth flight on SAS Airlines and a distant cousin awaiting me at the airport.
Its been raining on and off the last two days, but its nothing a New Yorker can not handle. In fact, its a bit warmer here than in NYC. It has not snowed yet and the temperature is hovering in the mid-40s.
After assembling my bike on Sunday morning I took myself out for a 5 hour ride around the town. Kobenhavn is a beautiful place to be situated and has been constructed to allow bike riders the greatest convenience possible. Unlike Montreal, which I visited two weeks ago, Kobenhavn has bike lanes on EVERY single street. Car, Bike and Pedestrian make up each rode (both ways).
The fact that there are up to six lanes of possible movement per rode makes for some interesting traffic. Not only do I worry about hitting pedestrians, but also bike riders (who are old ladies, moms, children, the elderly, etc.), cars and people entering and exiting from buses. Motorcyclists also share the biking lanes, so there is seldom a dull moment.
The bike lanes are just wide enough to fit two riders comfortably. Passing is a bit crazy, since a quarter of the bike riders are also casually talking on their cellphones (hmmm sounds familiar to car drivers). On top of the forward progression, there is also the need to abide by all traffic laws. For once I am actually taking the time to stop at each red light. Considering that this country "gets it" about biking I feel its only right for me to follow their rules. Everytime I come to a stoplight I practice my track stands. They are getting pretty good, so who knows, maybe next spring I'll win an event at one of these alleycats.
There appears to be two main bike messenger services in town: The Green Messengers and those guys who wear black. The Green Messengers have green spandex racing outfits, which is pretty neat. I think they have customized Ortlieb weatherproof backpacks as well.
Monday I cruised around town with Lis, my retired psychiatrist cousin. We bought a styrofoam sword for her 7 year old grandson. This shop, Faraos Cigar, reminded me of nerdville. It was stocked with plastic swords, shields and Dungeons & Dragons gear. Most of this stuff is made in Germany. The only people I see wearing/carrying chain mail nowadays are the bums in the East Village and those Goth kids. Apparently its a cool thing out here.
Having seen Christiania I was not really too impressed. This area is near the harbor and composed of old military barracks that have been taken over by hippies and vagrants. The area sees high levels of drug abuse/sales and is tatooed by oft grotesque graffiti. Punk kids and artsy types hang around the spot hocking "Bevar Christiania" (Save Christiania) wares.
It reminded me of Berkeley and Haight Street in San Francisco. A bunch of free loaders, doped up and fighting against "the man". In Christiania they refuse to pay taxes or rent (from what I have been told), although I saw many with satellite dishes. Hippies need to watch football.
Today, Tuesday, December 11th I spent the greater part of my day exploring the Glyptotek Museum. It was originally founded by the Carlsberg Brewing Company and now houses an exceptional collection of Greek and Roman sculptures. In addition there are sections devoted to French Art and Sculpture and Danish Arts.
More to follow...
Saturday, December 8, 2007
I leave in an hour for Denmark.
The trip is finally here. So here's a funny video that Anton brought to my attention.
I am not really sure about it being a "dark german techno" song, but I will vouch for it being a dark techno song about bananas.
Monday, December 3, 2007
Saturday afternoon I saw Pelle the Conqueror at Scandinavia House in midtown Manhattan.
They have an ongoing film series highlighting significant Nordic theater.
Pelle follows the life of two Swedes as they immigrate to Denmark in search of a better life. It won an Oscar in 1987 for best Foreign Film.
Expecting a feel-good film, I was instead startled by the horrible reality facing the central characters. Their trials and tribulations during the beginning of the 1900's helped lead to the creation of the modern socialist state.
Moving abroad they are forced into servitude by the Danish Authorities and made to work their way through yearly contracts that offer very little hope of a better future.
The ending sees a young Pelle leaving farm life and his father to conqueror the world.
Considering the current social and political situation in Denmark and the United States its perhaps all too propitious for the topic of immigration and human rights to be revisited.
We are a nation of immigrants, let us not forget this.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Two years ago walking around the newly re-opened Museum of Modern Art I noticed an awesome photograph that appeared to be constructed out of crude oil. It was a scene of hundreds of people standing in attention during a concert. The artist, I later recalled was named Muniz.
Last Friday I toured the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art. To my astonishment there was an entire retrospective on one floor devoted to Vik Muniz and his spectacular career.
Having grown up in Brazil, he became fascinated with design and graphics at a young age. However, it was not his upbringing or stated purpose to become an artist. He moved to the US in 1983 and the rest as they say, is history.
He composes earthen sculptures on massive scales (300 feet) and pictures of celebrities out of diamonds and caviar.
A true virtuoso.
He will be speaking at Hunter College in Manhattan tonight at 7:30pm. Unfortunately I won't be there.
Its been a few days since I have been back in the United States.
The snow surrounding Montreal was a refreshing change to the daily churn of Manhattan. Although I love the Big Apple, I also love perspective. There is indeed an outside world.
My five days were spent primarily hanging out with my buddy and learning about the culture of the Québécois.
Its still a very European city despite its proximity to Vermont and English speaking areas.
There were two fixed bike shops that I visited that are in their nascent stages: Revolution Montreal run by Danielle and Belleville Bike Coop - run by three guys - I met Tony.
Its great to see that the bike scene in Montreal warrants two fixed gear bike shops centered around messengers and the culture surrounding the industry.
On a side note regarding cycling, it was refreshing to see that throughout much of downtown there were designated bike lanes. Not only were cars not driving in them (like SF and NYC), but these lanes were actually cleared of snow. In fact the pedestrians had to walk on snow and ice, whereas the bicyclists get nice clean lanes for travel. Bravo Montreal!
Montreal is home to the Molson Brewery. In the absence of a proper tour my friend and I were able to get an employee to sell us two 12 packs for $20 Canadian, normally $30. An accomplishment indeed.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Friends and Family,
We take this day each year to be thankful for something. I am thankful to be healthy, drop dead gorgeous and in Montreal with my best friend, Anton.
I am thankful for many things, for although times are sometimes tough, its the perseverance of loved ones that helps to keep us going. For this I say Thank You.
Recently I had dinner with a close friend who had told me about a time in his life when he was on the verge of suicide. For over a week he binged on alcohol and finally woke up on the cold tiles of his bathroom floor. He had not ate anything for three or four days, just booze.
He told me that the reason he kept going was the thought of "not going" scared him too much. Its a sick and twisted paradigm. He was thankful for the experience because it taught him that he would never want to be in that situation ever again. He wants to live life to the fullest.
I am thankful for my amazing support system of parents, siblings and friends.
My career path is uncertain, but one to be happy about. If you don't like what you are doing, stop right now, stop complaining and figure out what makes you happiest. Be thankful that we live in an era where its acceptable to have 10 different jobs during the course of a lifetime.
Wherever you find happiness, find in it something to be thankful for.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Each day I check off the number of days until I leave New York and head overseas to the Homeland: Denmark.
Its been two months now since I began Danish Classes. I am not sure if I have really learned how to speak that much, but I have a good handle on pronunciation, reading and writing. Perhaps I have mastered the level of a three year old but thats better than what I had before.
It would appear that I will be heading to a host of places during this excursion. People contacted at this point include my cousins and their daughters, old buddy from middle school (Christian in Lund, Sweden), a travel companion from Craigslist (Elsa in Gothenburg Sweden) and it looks like some friends from NYC will be in Copenhagen after Christmas.
The route I will be riding is still undetermined. Having studied the maps and historical features of DK, I am inclined to cut across Funen until I reach the Southwestern town of Tonder. The road will next take me North to Esbjerg through Rinkobing, Thisted, Jammerbugt, Hjorring and finally Skagen, the most Northern point in the country.
A short ferry ride across the water will place me in Gothenburg, Sweden. The route from Sweden is uncertain. Do I continue South along the Sweden's coastline or do I take a ferry back to Denmark?
There are many uncertainties, which I relish. Its the spirit of travel to be untethered. Three dates have me locked in at this point. An invitation for Christmas with my cousin (near Copenhagen), a birthday party in Copenhagen (Dec. 13-16) which is optional and my NYC friends arriving in the country after Christmas.
Let the spirit of the wild keep me free.
Cranksgiving left me bruised and slightly broken-hearted.
The event itself was a success. Around 85 riders showed up, which given the chilly temperatures, was a feat in itself.
The format was simple. Hit up four different supermarkets scattered around the city, buy four different items from these stores and finish at 23rd and 11th Avenues.
The simplicity of the alleycat was awesome. The cause we were riding for was charity. I was elated.
That is until some asshole smashed into me with their White Ford Explorer on East 14th Street between 1st Avenue and Avenue A.
I was in between the third and fourth checkpoints riding down the double yellow line in traffic. The cars had come to a halt due to the red light. Cruising down the median line I was approaching the intersection when out of the blue the Explorer busted a U-Turn OVER the double yellow!!!!
This asshole forced me to smash into the front hood of the car. My front wheel was sent underneath his massive tire and crushed. I got a little scraped up, but my front wheel is dead. Poor red Deep V Velocity Rim. RIP.
"We live here (Stuyvesant Town) and we're allowed to go over the double yellow" yelled the passenger of the vehicle.
Oh and the Police were a real help too. "We can file a report, but its not going to do you any good".
Other than that everything is great.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
This week in the wonderful world of venture capital I read about the $7M funding of Virtual Makeover. A provider of virtual makeup solutions, this company allows females (and males?) to upload photographs and spruce them up with the aid of the internet.
Instead of just panning this site as lame or stupid I thought it would be good to give it a shot.
Never afraid to make fun of myself, here is the result of my makeover.
Damn I look hot.
What I do like about this site is the ability to post your makeover to your facebook or myspace accounts, load it into your blog and email it to your friends. It makes the service aspect very easy to use without the need for a degree in CS or EE.
Friday, November 9, 2007
This is going to be awesome.
Big race next weekend. FREE, but bring $10 to buy food which will be donated to a soup kitchen in the East Village.
Registration at 2 PM, race starts at 3PM (yeah right).
35th Street & 11th Avenue across from the Javits Center.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
This year's New York City ad:tech convention, held at the Hilton in Midtown, started off with a fun party at Club Strata.
The event, sponsored by Media Whiz was surprisingly well attended by the fairer sex, a fact not lost on the many out-of-town advertising and marketing geeks.
Playing poker and blackjack while throwing back premium open-bar drinks led to some late night dancing by some (not by me surprisingly). Approximately 500 people must have dropped by during the course of the night. A good crowd considering it was a Monday night and raining lightly.
Thank you Media Whiz.
One month after the launch of pay-what-you-like for In Rainbows by Radiohead and the numbers are rolling via ComScore (SCOR).
Its a mixed bag of results. According to the numbers, 38% of users who downloaded the album globally chose to pay a weighted average of $2.26 per album (this factors in all the freeloaders).
In the United States we were more likely to not only pay for the album (40% paid something), but we paid more per All Downloads of the album too ($3.23 average).
To these results I am not too surprised. The United States has a very active bit-torrent community and the ease of finding online music has only been made easier by the advent of music exploration programs (Hype Machine, Pandora, Last.fm). However, we live in the United States and to that we owe the MPAA's and RIAA's trenches of lawyers fighting the uphill battle against piracy. Foreigners are not held to the same illegal downloading laws that we face in the US. We are conditioned to pay for the right to view movies and listen to music.
Its admirable that Radiohead took this step forward towards battling online piracy. If for no other reason to piss off record label execs, Radiohead has shown that people are willing to pay for free music. Their cult of followers can only grow stronger through better music and greater customer service. The right of the artist to produce 2 good songs and 10 songs of filler is over.
Monday, November 5, 2007
Not sure that this is something to brag about - its not. But it is interesting to note how quickly these "friendships" develop. I wish there was a facebook application that chronologically tracked the additions of friends via facebook. A mashup of your usage of the site and the number of friends you acquire. Similarly this could work for the number of messages, wall posts and pictures posted.
I would expect major spikes of usage around holiday seasons and surrounding birthdays.
My relationship with Zuckerberg is on the rocks. We haven't spoken since June. I am heart broken. Perhaps I am just not big enough or important enough for the facebook czar.
However, I will continue to use his website and with even more vigor.
There was a time back in college when I was on facebook for a couple of months and became bored with its service. I actually canceled my account for six months, only to be lured back into its mystique.
Last weekend I used the facebook events page to organize my birthday party. It seemed to work. Only 17 people rsvp'd, but 40 people showed up through the course of the evening.
Thanks to all those in attendance.
Moving forward I will be interested to see the quality of my friends on facebook and how the FB empire will further grow to suit my needs as a consumer internet user.
Friday, November 2, 2007
The Writers Guild of America is having severe problems negotiating their union contract with the major studios, production companies and networks that produce and distribute their content.
Cry me a river of tears.
The level of sympathy that I have for these writers is at its very best minimal. I am more concerned with the ancillary industries that will be affected by their proposed strike than I am with the WGA or Teamsters themselves. The employees of businesses in the San Fernando Valley, the cleaners, the deli shop workers, the florists for the sets: these are the people I care about. They are not the ones fighting over inflated salaries or residuals. Many of the people who work in these related fields - the service industries - are the ones who will get hit worst by this strike.
Oh no, The Daily Show won't be so funny. Movies will decline in quality. How will we adapt Harry Potter from a book into a movie script without these essential bastions of society?
All these possible atrocities concern me terribly. Life simply will not go on without a steady flow of terrible sitcoms, satirical news and crappy mega-movies with overpaid movie stars, directors and writers.
Considering that I have not had a television for 10 years and my movie intake is very minimal I do not think this strike will affect me in the least. Luckily Americans have vast libraries with readily available books that can be consumed through reading.
A strike would be a wonderful reason for people to take a step-back from their remote-controlled existences and take a step-forward in pursuing intellectual delights.
The NY Times cites a rise in reality television, cartoons and a higher reliance on non-union writers as reasons for the decline in the need for the WGA. It is a sign of the times that technology has progressed, the need for writers to be in a union has progressed and the evolution of this industry is omnipresent.
Good luck at the picket lines. I'll be in the warmth of a library reading a book.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Tonight, like most Monday evenings, I sat down to thumb though my weekly intake of New York Magazine.
There is always some sort of editorial piece about a quarter of the way into the issue.
This week they f*cked up in their reporting of the Web 2.0 big time. It really pisses me off to continually read all these doomsday reports about how the web is blowing up (for all the wrong reasons) and everyone is about to be screwed in the start-up market.
The web for sure is expanding at a lightning fast speed. Facebook is expanding by 250,000 new users each day! No wonder they recently received a valuation of $15B (albeit a very high valuation). But still, certain web properties are going to go for extravagant sums of cash. Everyone thought that $560M for Myspace was ridiculous, only to see Youtube purchased months later for $1.6B. These aren't old companies either. Facebook was valued by Yahoo at around $1B only a year ago, but Zuckerberg knew better. He knew his company was worth more and held out, because he could.
Reading the misquoting of Howard Lindzon (whom I work with through Biltmore Ventures) and Fred Wilson, whom we have done deals with (Wallstrip, AdaptiveBlue) provides me with a reality check. John Heilmann presents the New York tech scene as a sad backwater for start-up companies. The debate about Silicon Alley versus Silcon Valley has always been playful in certain aspects. However, we do not need a New York based report debasing a burgeoning moment in our tech history.
Heilemann failed to take note of Doublclick's recent buyout by Google for $3.1B. Did he fail to notice that they are headquartered out of New York? Its not just Palo Alto and Menlo Park that have multi billion dollar companies. Isn't a little company called Microsoft headquartered in ... Washington State, oh and lest we forget Big Blue our friendly upstate New York counterpart. Where were Google and Yahoo when IBM started?
More money may be pouring into the Valley, but that is not stopping the Valley from coming to the Big Apple. Google has approximately 560,000 feet of office space in NYC. At our rental rates that is a major investment, even for a company of their dearth.
Next time (and I expect more misinformed reporting soon) someone decides to deride the efforts of all the start-up companies, the entrepreneurs and investors who strive each day to make the New York tech scene vibrant and meaningful, I hope they call Scott Heiferman or participate in an online discussion on NextNY before they call a our existence inconsequential or dead.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Each day Silicon Alley Insider highlights one of their Community Twitter members for a twit of brilliance or stupid. Not sure which category my twit from this morning fell into, but I think there is a point to my comment.
"I don't care how long I drink coffee at Starbucks; a medium is not a 'grande' never will be."
Its been how many years since Starbucks has been attempting to brainwash the United States into changing our vocabulary? I just don't get it and perhaps I am an old-timer, but we do not live in Italy or France. This is America. We like our coffees in Extra Large and Jumbo sized containers.
As a person who loves linguistics I am happy to watch as words and languages evolve. A Word A Day provides me with many great and oft-not used words. There is also Urban Dictionary for lets just say, less than scholarly worded phrases. It is taking me longer than my parents to accept the terminology for coffee that Schultz has pressed down my throat. Someday I might capitulate, until that day: One medium sized mocha, please.
PS. If you want to follow my antics on twitter check me out here.
The mass of masked alleycat hooligans met amongst the steps of Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn on Saturday, October 27th to compete in the 13th annual Halloween race.
It had been raining most of the day. The roads were slick and sometimes muddy, many riders were soaked and a cool breeze floated in the air.
Comprised of angels, zombies, witches and ghouls - the race provided great amusement to many Brooklyn and New York City passer-byers.
The check-points on the manifest were numerous and highly circuitous from 7 Hanover Square in the Financial District to the 107th Street Pier off the FDR Highway. We finished a number of hours later at Sanford & Willoughby in Brooklyn for the 5th annual Bike Kill Party.
Bike Kill is best described as a crazy day of partying, biking and mosh-pit madness. Located on a cul-de-sac behind Home Depot, the event is host to every imaginable two wheel, three, four and six wheeled contraption known to man.
One bike had a functioning flame thrower, while many were chopped-up and welded together to form multi-tiered tall bikes.
It was a righteous event and a must for anyone that loves bikes and a good party. Until next year...
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Today I was sent a link to this site. STD Allstars!
Its the story of a girl who recently found out that she received herpes through a one-night stand with a dirty Williamsburg hipster.
She exposes this guy "Drew" and posts 400 pictures of him around Williamsburg Brooklyn in the hopes of spreading awareness about this dude and his STD.
Although the blog is pretty exciting to read its the commentary that many anonymous bloggers have commented alongside each entry that is most revealing/interesting.
Key Issues Raised:
- Why didn't you use a condom?
- Why are you having sex with strangers?
- Did he "know" that he was infected (was it even Drew)?
- You can be sued for defamation if these allegations are proved false.
Its too bad that this unnamed woman has had to deal with Drew and his STD's. On the other hand its great that someone is bringing this back to young people's attention. This blog could very well be fake. Perhaps none of the allegations took place. Maybe Drew doesn't exist, but the perils still are real.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
So happy to see that Wallstrip has made its way past year one. Its been spectacular to watch the concept and show evolve over the last year.
As a loyal fan and as someone who has been wallstripped twice (that must almost be a record) I firmly believe that Howard and Lindsay have a great company running.
In the meanwhile, I 'll just keep wearing my CROX and relish the moments of my life spent filming wallstrip with Lindsay, Adam and Jeff.
Good luck in year two.
It might not be the third hackathon, but who's counting anyway?
Last night 35 technologists gathered at the Union Square Ventures office in the Flatiron to discuss all things facebook worthy.
There were a number of FB apps demoed and discussed. Most notably I enjoyed the Manhattan 3D modeling world created by UpNext. They have rendered the entire city skyline block by block and are integrating user comments to specific businesses and locations.
The next step upon aggregating user comments (kind of like Yelp or CitySearch) will be to allow users with GPS-enabled phones to geotag their favorite restaurants. This concept of geotagging and location based social networking is nothing new. Recall NYC startup Socialight. They too are working on the GPS concept and the social web of interaction that could take place.
Will be happy to see these two location-based companies come to fruition.
Ad-Networks were heavily discussed. Is it possible to aggregate all the "publicly" available user information from users profiles? If so how?
There are many projects taking place in the city. One thing that struck me was the paucity of developers that were available for hire. Of the 35 odd people in attendance there were at least 4 companies looking for developers and only one guy who put his name on the "looking for work" board.
Thanks to Michael Galpert for organizing the nerd-herd and everyone over at USV, especially Andrew Parker for getting the pizza and beer in order.
We have a vibrant tech community in place right now. Its refreshing to see the many great ideas up-close and months before the general public.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Another excellent race thrown by the boys over at 5 Boro Generals.
We assembled our biking forces at the Old Stone House, in Park Slope/Red Hook at a pre-colonial stone house made by the Dutch in 1699.
For two hours we sat around, practiced our trackstands, skids and reverse figure eights. Some drank beer, but even more smoked cigarettes.
Unlike the Queens Riot held back in September, Brooklyn's race started at 5 PM with plenty of light available for the riders to begin our treacherous journey.
After receiving our manifests we raced across BK over to Owls Head Park in Bay Ridge. There was this godforsaken grassy hill we had to climb at the very end of this time trial. Awaiting us at the bottom of the hill was the local skateboard park. Imagine 50 riders on an assortment of fixies, track bikes, mountain bikes and road bikes taking over the little kids' skate park. They were highly amused to see us falling over ourselves on the table tops. The best we could muster was a couple of inches off the ground during our flatland session. Very pathetic compared to these BMX kids doing 360's.
The race moved on to the Greenwood Cemetary and a sprint to the top of Sunset Park. We were rewarded with Foster's beer for our tribulations. The view of Manhattan is to die for, from this highest point in Brooklyn.
Finishing our beers and fixing our flat tires we made it over to Prospect Park next. The Crit was here. Three loops around Flatbush Avenue and a portion of Prospect Park's route. Crashes, blood and more broken bikes ensued. We laughed, smiled, but no one cried.
Further on we made our way to the Old Fulton Ferry landing underneath the Brooklyn Bridge. The trackstand competition went on for five minutes. Pablo won with a no hand, no foot trackstand. I have no idea how to do one of these no hand/foot combos.
After some more beer we rode on for the skid competition, held underneath the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. Two hours later it was approaching 1:30 am and we decided to call it quits and head to the Country Club bar. Leaving around 4:15 I didn't feel tired, probably because the Jack & Coke cocktails voided the sore legs I acquired through 12 hours of riding. I made it back to my abode in Spanish Harlem at 5:10. That was one long alleycat.
Ready for next year...
Friday, October 12, 2007
Two weeks ago the New York Times profiled the women of St.George's Catholic Church in the East Village in a piece titled "Dumplings for the Lord".
For the last few decades a small army ( 8 women or so) have been turning up each Friday morning to make traditional Ukrainian food. They sell these dishes to the locals and all profits are donated to the church. Last year they donated about $80,000 to the church through their efforts.
All of the women who give their time and cooking expertise to the mission are Ukrainian immigrants themselves. St.George's church helped many of these women and their families assimilate into American culture. The church provided elementary/middle school services on top of its stated role as religious practitioner.
Last Friday, I decided to find out for myself: Are Ukrainian dumplings fit for the Soul?
None of my friends were up to the task. "I am busy" or "I already ate" were most of the lame responses I was given (some didn't even respond- you know who you are!).
First I had to find this joint.
According to the Times article, the kitchen was situated "next to McSorley’s Old Ale House". I found this to be almost true.
It took walking around the blocks of Seventh and Sixth Streets in between Second and Third Avenues before I found this hole in the wall.
The signage sucked and was not even at street level (this photo was taken looking down the stairs near the entrance). The building was not next to McSorley's, but rather located some four buildings over (closer to Second Avenue).
Having haphazardly ordered six potato pierogies (varenyky) with smetana (sour cream) for $3.50. I began my feast.
They actually tasted quite good. Nothing fancy or anything, but warm and filling. Just the thing to get over a hangover.
More interesting to me were the multitudes of people who trickled into this religious kitchen
space. There was some dude with a mohawk and one six inch earring. Two bike messengers dropped in, their arms covered in tats. An elderly couple wobbled through, cains in hand, reporting that this indeed was the place they had read about in the NY Times article. Quietly, I sat their munching away. I too came because of the article.
One must not and cannot escape the fact that only in New York would something like this melting pot of seemingly disparate souls come together for lunch.
Its secret places like this that make New York great. Its the locals, the folklore and the immigrants that shape this city. Its the pierogies, the old ladies and the anonymity that make St. George's kitchen all-to-endearing.
I will come back again. But, perhaps I will try the borscht this next time around.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
The tickets have not been purchased yet, but it looks like I will be heading to the land of my heritage this coming December.
It probably all started because my father lived in Bergen Norway about 30 years ago. He still hasn't told me what prompted the trip originally, but it turned into a year and a half stay in the Nordic lands.
My great-grandfather Holger, from what I have heard, moved to the United States at some point in the 1920's from Denmark. My history of where exactly in Denmark is a little uncertain, but thats really the purpose of this trip - to connect the dots. Anyway, he married an American and had a son, Holger (wow thats two Holgers). My grandfather married Donna and they had three sons (Robert, Kurt and Eric). My father is Robert (we just call him dad or Bob), he is the oldest of the three boys.
Getting back to it, my father moved to Norway and at some point contacted the relatives of my great-grandfather. They live about 35 km outside of Copenhagen in a town called Roskilde. I have been told by a danish friend of mine that the second largest music festival in Europe is held in this city every summer.
After emailing my relative Claus, whom my father has remained in distant contact with over the last 30 years, I was elated to get a cheerful email some hours later from him. Unfortunately he will be out of the country most of December, but I am now in contact with other relatives.
The last three weeks I have been studying Danish a couple of times a week in this continuing education course offered through NYU. Its been both hard (svaert) but rewarding to learn the language of the Danes. Its my hope to become proficient in the tongue. However, I read that 80% of the people in Denmark speak english, so I am not sure how much I will be able to practice. Hopefully I'll get stuck in the middle of nowhere and be forced to rely on my rudimentary skills. If all else fails I'll draw pictures.
No trip would be legendary unless there was some sort of a hitch to it. I have decided to make this a biking trip. I will ride my track bike around the country of Denmark for three weeks in the middle of December.
This might very well be one of the dumbest decisions I have made recently. All dumb decisions have their drawbacks, but this I find is where most of the learning and character building come into play.
- Bike Stolen or messed up (flat tires, possible crashes, lack of tools). You can fill in the rest...broken limbs, cracked ribs, fractures, etc.
- Weather conditions are horrible (it will be really cold, there could be snow, probably ice and certainly rain).
- Some roads will not be suitable for cyclists. This is a country of bike riders, but that does not translate to all roads being acceptable for bike travel.
- Accommodations: I have no idea where the hell I will be staying. I want it to be cheap and mostly a spontaneous trip (save for the family visits).
Monday, October 1, 2007
Today is yet another beautiful Fall day in NYC, but enough about the weather.
One week ago I announced that something big was going to happen on Monday. Sorry if its not earth-shattering, but for me being on Wallstrip.com again is exciting enough to make an announcement. So thats the big whoop.
Watch as host, Lindsay Campbell, makes fun of my bowtie (again) and buys me a pair of crocs.
I won a pair crocs (CROX) by picking the closest (2nd closest) closing stock price. There were 217 responses last time I checked. Unfortunately out of all these people, many did not leave their contact information. Technically Ann won the contest by picking a closing price of $86.91, whereas I chose $57.00. To bad she is Ann(onymous)!
Will there be another wallstrip with Kristian? TBD... Let's hope so.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Of all the things available Monday night (and there were at least 4 techie events happening) I decided to attempt entry into the exclusive I'm In Like With You focus group/meetup.
Having met Charles Forman at September's NY Tech Meetup I felt reasonably assured that I'd be able to sneak into this private little party.
NOTE: If you're into IILWY then you might recognize some of these names. If not, feel free to glaze over.
Some of my friends are big time iilwy geeks (Siena, The Kid, Brookewy, Vrbos), as in they spend 2-3 hours a day checking in on their games via bidding, chatting or just gawking at people. Myself, not so much.
When I was forwarded a private invite from Siena, I knew it would be a good get-together to crash. Free pizza and drinks is an easy sell. They even had free shirts.
It was odd seeing 15 people shoved into an office fit for five. Lo and Behold, we made it work for almost three hours.
The oddest part about this social network meeting up was the fact that in reality I only had four friends with me, yet I knew most of the 15 people through their screen names. I knew all these obscure facts about all the participants. Getting together was great. We even shared gossip about people we liked and disliked on the site. Very petty stuff indeed, but entertaining in a middle school type of fashion.
As a user I have no major gripes with the site. I know its young and they are working hard to make things better. Its an important step to have nights like this were dedicated beta users can share their thoughts about a product. This is where the evolution of a company becomes key. How the developers choose to use our input is completely up to them. Its good to know they are listening.
There was talk about opening up the site to all users at some point in the future. Currently its invite only. This is a point that will surely make the site grow quicker. The more users the merrier. Also, dedicated or not, a poweruser is an inherent attribute that can not be weeded out based soley on invite only. I have invited over thirty friends to the site and only 3 have registered accounts. Only 1 has started a game.
One thing that irks me is the applicability of this platform to advertisers and their lack of sponsorships/partnerships. A game that wastes hours of peoples time should be advertising. There should be sponsored games. Perhaps Larry Flynt sponsors free lap dances or Coors Light sponsors a beer game. This will get people bidding more points and paying more attention.
Looking forward to the future with this one.
Monday, September 24, 2007
There are a number of events around NYC that should be checked out:
6:30 PM Web Meetup 2.0 at Slate - sponsored by Sun Microsystems
6:30 PM NewTeeVee Pier Screening at the XCHANGE: 640 West 28th Street, Floor 9 - Om Malik's company comes to NYC!!
I'm In Like With You Thing (Invitation Only) - For all you stalker/obsessed iilwy.com kids.
Starting weekly Danish lessons at the American Scandinavian House through NYU's School of Continuing Education - $550 + $20 Fee (Sept 25- Dec 11)
Dealmaker 40 Under 40 Party at Phillip De Pury Auction House (450 West 15th Street) 6-8 PM
Saturday: NY Tech Meetup Picnic in Brooklyn in Prospect Park at Noon.
Something exciting will be posted on here this Monday. Can't say what just yet. But its freaking awesome!!!!
Thursday, September 20, 2007
This morning's NY Times article on cellphone use in the subway needs to be lauded.
For years we have been unable to establish decent-to-reliable cellphone communications within our lovely subway depots. Now the Manhattan Transit Authority has announced a plan to wire all 277 New York City subway depots.
Its irritating and nonsensical that it has taken this long. For years the capability has been in place for underground cellphone networks to exist. The only people who seem to not benefit from this new system will be Nextel subscribers, who, have had their loud obnoxious two-way "walkie talkie" phones working in the subways for years.
Proponents of the plan will rightfully point out that more people will be talking in the subways moving forward. However, the subways are already above recommended decibel levels and additional cellphone conversation should not dramatically increase this level much more.
Oh well, listening to people talk is a way of life that won't be changing anytime soon. Details have not been revealed about the levels of data transfer that will be available, but at least moving forward my blackberry will sync to the internet, my 3G will work and I'll be a happy camper.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
The Luna Park at Union Square Park laid the backdrop for the Fall's first "official" NextNY meet-up.
There were probably upwards of 12 people who showed up.
Whats amazing about the number of people who showed up, as opposed to a normal NextNY event is the flash-mob essence of this meeting. Usually we have events planned out a couple of weeks in advance. Normally there is a topic, speakers and the location is an office.
Last night for better or worse was different. Instead of posting the event weeks in advance, providing a wiki for sign-up/RSVPs - the whole event was orchestrated through the NextNY message board. Furthermore technology further accelerated the process via Twitter.
About an hour before the event Charlie O'Donnell was twittering about riding on a Metro North and catching the subway at Grand Central to get to the event.
Simultaneously, downtown Nate Westheimer was twittering that he had a bucket of beers awaiting the first people to show up at Luna Park.
Considering that Rosh Hashana is occuring as I write this, it marvelous that we were able to have a quick turnout of techies from the community. I think there was even a french journalist there to write about the meet-up.
It would be great to see a NextNY Twitter Group...
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Stepping into Cooper Union's "Great Hall" last night was an excellent experience.
The days of heckling technologists and entrepreneurs in an open forum are decidedly back from summer hibernation.
Last night's forum allowed for an unprecedented number of 10 start-ups to present information about their endeavors (although I must confess I was in the back not paying complete attention to each company).
I'm In Like With You was presented by founder Charles Forman alongside a beautiful San Francicso Bay Area iilwy' aficionado. It was good to see a web program that I enjoy using being touted and honored by our NYC Tech community. Disclosure: I am addicted to iilwy and I got a free t-shirt (see photo).
"What's the business plan?" someone yelled out - " I don't know yet" was Charles' response, "We don't really have one."
Indeed the days of companies without business plans are still very much on the mind of our web 2.0 crowd.
Yet, I am happy to see companies with good ideas still acquiring funding. Despite their lack of a business plan (or at least for not sharing it last night), iilwy has been able to develop a strong following of 20-something users. Their main premise is to "entertain people bored at work". I like this mantra. Its something that I can support.
It was also the who's who of NY's scene at Cooper Union. Nick Denton of Gawker fame had Gizmodo demoing. Henry Blodgett of Silicon Alley Insider was also on hand as were many others.
The Fall is here and for my two-bits I am happy to see a viral community in place filled with enthusiasm and vigor.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Businessweek writes crap this week about Google taking share out of the venture investing marketplace.
There are two things I take away from this article.
1. Corporations players are investing more money into technology, software and infrastructure.
2. VC's have more competition.
We have seen over the years Intel investing in many start-ups - I think they've invested over $1.3Billion over the years. Motorola is investing quite a lot too. Now Google is entering the game.
This I do not see as much of a threat to angels or early-stage investment groups. The article articulates that goog has invested in four start-ups with a range of $500-800k. Perhaps they have some first-rights for acquiring these companies at a later stage, but the fact remains that a couple of major players investing in a hand full of start-ups will not significantly shift how start-ups find funding.
VC's are not going anywhere fast. The DFJ's, Kleiner's and Highland Capitals of the world will remain the de facto sources for investment. Start-ups should include corporate players like Google in their tours of Sand Hill Road, but that is not to say that they should exclude VCs. The day that entrepreneurs abandon VC's altogether is the day our industry is dead, but until that time, I firmly believe that corporate venturing will not have a significant negative impact on deal flow or sourcing.
Today as I was about to update my blog with a story about poor VC's getting edged out of deals by evil Google, instead I take a look at MyBlogLog community widget.
Its always a good feeling to see who's reading your work. My writing style is fluid. Its not appropriate at times and might not even make sense depending on how well my spell check is working.
I know that my mom reads this occasionally, but its good to see local techies names pop up on my list. Today I saw Lindsay_Lohan on my widget toolbar. Not the real Lindsay, but the fake one. Check out her blog here. Although this is a spin-off from The Fake Steve Jobs, I am still appreciative of the Fake Lindsay Lohan checking out my script. Maybe she saw my article about tennis and found it thought provoking?
The community aspects of the MyBlogLog widget allow users to interact on a higher level than say, facebook, where you don't really know who has been looking at your profile (which is a little scary). I enjoy the fact that I have the capability of seeing and interacting with people who use my blog. Shout outs to Innonate, Dan Putt, Charlie O'Donnell, Michael Galpert, Brett Petersel, Ken Berger, Howard Lindzon and many others.
MyBlogLog takes feedburner stats and puts a face to the name. It allows me to see what blogs my readers are reading and helps to connect me with communities and certain blogs which I frequent by automatically adding me to that community. These features I enjoy. Not really sure what the next step for this company would be.
Friday, August 31, 2007
Back on August 25th in 2003 I needed some cash. Thats it plain and simple.
Junior year at Columbia was about to start in the next few days when looking on Craiglist under miscellaneous jobs I saw a particularly interesting post entitled "Fish fans paid for Tennis" or something along those lines.
I was never a big tennis fan, but the opportunity to see the US Open AND get paid was mighty appealing. Showing up around 11am near one of the entrances a group of six guys haphazardly took form. We weren't really sure who the other paid "fans" would be, so it almost became like an awkward blind date where you think you see the girl you're waiting for, but aren't really sure who is who.
Our sponsor told us to take off our shirts. Thats when it got interesting. We would be representing Mardy Fish that afternoon. We each had a large letter painted onto both our chests and our backs. I had the letter F brilliantly written across myself.
Having walked through the crowds and past our awaiting seats in Arthur Ashe stadium we strode to the very top of the bandstand. The match was miles away.
The six of us began the match with some light hearted banter. Yelling at the opposition while shaking plastic fish in the air and manufactured signs that the PR company had created.
Initially we were met with stares and glares by tennis fans. After the first set things had changed dramatically. Fans were joining us in our otherwise desolate section of stadium and chanting and yelling alongside us. Television cameras and reporters were similarly interested in our antics.
Who were these guys?
The PR company did not do a decent job of prepping us for questions whatsoever. The first reporter wanted to know our names. The second reported wanted our names and why we had come. The third reported wanted our names, background and the association which we represented.
It was pretty funny to watch as our conflicting stories baffled the press. Were we PR stuntmen or genuine fans? After a while I wasn't sure if I was a fan at this point or just a guy getting paid to sing songs about Mardy Fish.
Through the third set and onward we had our shirts off. Burning in the sun we showed our pride - "G-O F-I-S-H".
He won the match much to our happiness. We all had our pictures taken at the end of the match with Marty. It was a great way to not attend orientation for my senior year of college. I made $80 and had my picture taken a bunch. I was interviewed. Best of all I was able to attend the US Open for free. I would do it all over again too if I had the chance.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Well its great to hear that CBS's embattled hostess is heading off to Iraq. We will finally find out the truth about the Iraq War. However, Its sad that the only way to boost ratings for the Evening News is for the CBS to send its $15M/year host off to a war zone.
Not really sure where CBS is trying to go with this. Do they really need the ratings that bad? Don't they already have a bunch of foreign correspondents already reporting away? Didn't one of their translators get dragged out of his home and murdered a couple of days ago?
Its one thing to put the celeb reporters in front of the spotlight and a million paparazzi, but another to throw them in front of a firing squad.
What appears most interesting to this reader is what kind of a story is CBS attempting to create? In so far as I understand it, the only story here is that Katie Couric is heading over to Iraq. Unfortunately, unless something amazing happens during this foray into the unknown, I will not be watching a single second of it. I do not have a TV and the only way I"ll be viewing Couric is if funny or disastrous clips show up on youtube.
Howard I fear for your well being. What if wallstrip is not a hit? Will you and Lindsay be sent to Afghanistan, or maybe even worse, Canada?
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
The Wall Street Journal today announces that major venture capital investors are "forcing" universities, pension funds and foundations into racier investments in an article Venture Firms vs. Investors.
Its fun to read these headlines. This kind of article makes the front page, which if you are not involved in the industry makes you think twice about how the general public reacts to private investments on the whole.
Venture Capital is not a sure-fire means by which to make money. It is a business based on risk tolerance. Every single person who invests in a venture capital fund (like Sequoia, DFJ, Accel, Greylock, etc) or a start-up company, as a friend, family member or angel investor, inherently takes on the risk of that businesses and its business model. This is not for the faint of heart. If you want a low-risk investment I suggest looking into T-bills, bonds or stuffing money under your mattress (scratch that, what if you're house burns down?).
The theory that an $18 Billion dollar Yale University endowment is being bullied into risky investments is hilarious. There are so many investment vehicles available to these minted Ivy Leaguer's that I find it hard to fathom just how much pressure one of these venture funds could possibly be exerting on one of these behemoths. With billions in wealth there should be plenty of funds out there that are not pushing for investments in shaky portfolios which would make the University much happier.
Secondly, LPs play an important part in shaping a fund. The fact that an investment partner chooses to not trust (or in this case invest) in a fund because it is "more risky" than they are accustomed to does not mean they should be automatically allowed to invest in only low-risk venture funds. The true partners are those who are willing to take the risk in untested territory as well as in "normal" investments. The risk appetite of the investors and the managers of the fund must be in sync.
Monday, August 27, 2007
Last night I attended a really great concert at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). It was the end of the Summergarden jazz music series which has been held in the sculpture garden for the last two years.
Cyro Baptista and his group Anthropo-Fagia (roughly translated as "eaters of culture") led the free concert through an enjoyable hour-ensemble of Brazilian world music. It was fascinating to watch Cyro layer the sounds of whistles, bike bells, drums and pvc pipes to transport the audience into the rain forests of Brazil.
Further, it was a wonderful way to close the weekend. The ambiance of Baptista's music surrounded by the ultra-sleek modern lines of the museum was further supplemented by Richard Serra's beautiful installation.
If you haven't seen Serra's work yet, better hurry up, it will be featured at MOMA only through September 10th.
Go see Cyro Baptista if ever you get the opportunity. He rocks!
Monday, August 13, 2007
There have been emails, Instant Messages, one text message and even a phone call.
Why haven't you been writing more lately?
The quick answer is simple. I have been taking a break. There I said it, Kristian takes the occasional break. But the truth is that I have only been taking a break from writing. My world has not been placed on hold the last couple of weeks - just the writing angle- which connects me to the outside world.
There was my trip to San Francisco most recently. Oh how I love the Bay Area. But now I am firmly grounded in New York for the next few months.
Recently I made the cut for the first annual "The Wall Street: Boxing Charity Championship" sponsored by Extell Development Corporation, Trader Monthly and Dealmaker. The charity event is scheduled for November 1st at the Hammerstein Ballroom.
I will be fighting at 155 pounds. Not sure who my opponent is yet, but whoever you are, beware that I have a mean uppercut. The tournament will be limited to 8 matches. Each boxer competes in three two-minute rounds. Time to hit Trinity Boxing Club!
Look for more updates on this as the fight date comes closer.
During the last few weeks I have established a relationship with TitanTV. We are busy building an online broadcast network which is set to launch at CES on January 8th, 2009 in Las Vegas.
More on that in the near future...