The Ringers Rocking LA

The Ringers are an LA band fronted by Joe Hursley (aka White Gold). I first caught them opening for Fool’s Gold at one of Little Radio‘s Summercamps in August (see 3rd video below) and they stole the show. The music has started to grow on me, but the performance is pure LA punk and cannot be ignored. If you like to rock, don’t miss a chance to see them live.

“Beaver Fever” and “Keepin’ Your Head Up” at The Viper Room on October 16, 2009 (Joe takes my camera on stage about 2min in):

“Scene You See” at The Viper Room on October 16, 2009:

“Scene You See” at Little Radio Summercamp on August 30, 2009:

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Delicious Bookmarks for September 24th through March 8th

These are my Delicious links for September 24th through March 8th:

Delicious Bookmarks for July 20th

These are my Delicious links for July 20th:

  • Ed Ulbrich shows how Benjamin Button got his face | Video on TED.com – A look at Digital Domain's process for creating the fully CG performance of Benjamin Button's head for the first hour of the film. Using high-resolution 3D scanning and the F.A.C.S. methodology they developed a template for creating a digital library of facial components that could then be animated using the actor's actual facial expressions.

Delicious Bookmarks for June 22nd

These are my Delicious links for June 22nd:

  • Sorry, There’s No Way To Save The TV Business – A clear and concise overview of how the incumbent stakeholders in the TV business are oblivious to the fundamental changes being wrought by delivery of video over the Internet and how this rising tide will ultimately wash away the strategic underpinnings of their legacy business models, which ultimately cannot be translated to this new world.
  • Not safe for work: And we’ll tweet at the end of the tour | Technology | guardian.co.uk – "Looking around the hall at the same-old-same-old faces of microblogging – the people who have been around long enough to have usernames like @amanda and @drew and @mario – all given just enough stage time to remind everyone how awesome their little corner of Twitter is – I realised that 140 Characters was never supposed to be a conference about "the state of now" at all. Rather it's a conference about the state of "then". A conference designed to bring together those of us who have been using Twitter since the start and who now feel like we've lost control of it to celebrities like Aston Kutcher and Oprah. A chance for us all to sit around and talk about the good old days when Scoble and iJustine still mattered a damn and where having 50,000 geeks following you was the pinnacle of success…Or to put it another way, 140 Characters was like a meeting of Twitter Early Adopters Anonymous."

Delicious Bookmarks for April 17th through April 21st

These are my Delicious links for April 17th through April 21st:

Delicious Bookmarks for March 31st through April 2nd

These are my Delicious links for March 31st through April 2nd:

  • Social Media ROI – Solid presentation on how to approach social media marketing from a quantitative perspective. Most interesting are the examples of different types of social media campaigns to drive different business goals. There is no one-size-fits all social media marketing campaign.
  • The Lab – A web-based Sass -> CSS compiler. Sass is basically a shorthand way to write stylesheets for your website. It allows for nesting with two spaces. Also, it can do some basic math with constants. No more going around your CSS files updating the size or color of something.
  • Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable « Clay Shirky – "When reality is labeled unthinkable, it creates a kind of sickness in an industry. Leadership becomes faith-based, while employees who have the temerity to suggest that what seems to be happening is in fact happening are herded into Innovation Departments, where they can be ignored en masse…With the old economics destroyed, organizational forms perfected for industrial production have to be replaced with structures optimized for digital data. It makes increasingly less sense even to talk about a publishing industry, because the core problem publishing solves — the incredible difficulty, complexity, and expense of making something available to the public — has stopped being a problem."
  • Changing Nature of Virality: Facebook and Twitter – A consolidation of interesting stats from Hitwise on percentages of traffic to entertainment sites driven by Twitter and Facebook. For example, perezhilton.com's biggest week ever was driven primarily by traffic from Facebook (8.70%) over Google (7.62%). It is clear that for certain types of sites, particularly entertainment-oriented, 'viral' discovery is an increasingly important discovery mechanism being fueled by the growth of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
  • The Rising Power Of Social Media As A Traffic Driver – Fred Wilson on the impact he's seeing to traffic on his own blog from Twitter and Facebook: "Links are the currency of the web and traffic is money so these are important trends for our portfolio companies and for everyone who does business on the web."
  • Tony Hsieh: Zappos In The Business of Selling “Happiness” – This was a really great presentation that i was lucky enough to attend in person. Some of my favorite quotes were "Hire slowly, fire quicky", "When all your employees live the brand, you don't need to rely on marketing and PR to handle all your communications", and "We decided to take all the money we would have put into marketing and put it into making the customer experience better." While I do feel that Zappos sounds more like a management/corporate culture experiment than a business, I still think there are a ton of great lessons that less altruistic businesses can apply. My primary takeaway was probably on Slide 17 of the presentation, the idea of "Committable Core Values": having a company mission that is actionable for every employee.
  • Economy Tech trends in 2009 by Mary Meeker (Morgan Stanley) – An omnibus presentation on the current economic climate and the high-level trends that will drive the technology industry in the near future. The first ~40 slides contain some really interesting data and charts on the larger macroeconomic situation and are worth looking at even for people not interested in the technology industry.
  • The Memefication of Your Band – A more pragmatic take on the entertainment-as-a-service concept focused on how musical artists can more effectively promote themselves. "Your band must invade the Perception Economy. Your Band must no longer be a band. Your band must be a meme. A Meme Which Generates subMemes. These memes must be compelling, intriguing, and interesting enough for people to ‘follow’ or at least think that you are ‘worth following.’"
  • High-tech Market Research and Consulting – Quantitative application of the Lanchester model, a WWII military strategy framework, to business in which market share is the proxy for number of troops. Interesting theoretical construct for understanding how players with differing market share should seek to compete in order to maximize their competitive advantage — i.e. smaller players should seek to segment a larger market into smaller pieces in which they can compete closer to market share parity while larger players should seek to compete in the broadest market possible to maximize the value of their dominance.
  • WordPress › WP Greet Box « WordPress Plugins – A very useful WordPress plugin that shows visitors to your blog a unique greeting message depending on the page they are visiting from. E.g. Ask users coming from Digg.com to Digg your post, etc.
  • Chat Catcher – An interesting service to help you track mentions of your blog posts across Twitter, FriendFeed and identi.ca and aggregate them back to your blog. The coolest thing is probably the 'Scriptless' version which can run on WordPress.com and other hosted blogs.
  • Viral Arts: Making you money… Virally – A potentially interesting service that matches YouTube video producers with brands willing to pay them for product placement.
  • The changing face of usability testing: Optimal Workshop releases free service called Treejack » VentureBeat – Basic DIY usability testing tools that allow you to test designs in the form of online surveys. Simple, elegant, and IMHO 80/20 effective (vs full-service usability testing software).
  • Why Bit.ly Will Upstage Digg – Definitely what I would be working on if I was in charge of bit.ly. While analytics were the initial draw for sharers to use bit.ly, recognition as an influencer could be a differentiator now that others like cli.gs and tr.im are commoditizing analytics for shortened URLs. I totally agree with Om that a bit.ly powered Digg (Bigg?) would produce much more interesting and representative results than Digg, which has come to be dominated by an idiosyncratic user community. Also, I think it would be foolish of Bigg to be reserved to bit.ly URLs. Why wouldn't they want share/click data from all the shortened URLs they can get it for?
  • Topspin » “Josh Freese. What are you doin’? This summer.” – Brilliant (and hilarious) showcase of how the internet can make even the way you sell your art part of the experience. Definitely worth the read! My favorite is the $10k package, which includes: "Josh takes you and a guest to Club 33 (the super-duper exclusive and private restaurant at Disneyland located above Pirates of the Caribbean) and then hit a couple rides afterward (preferably the Tiki Room, the Haunted Mansion and Tower of Terror) / At the end of the day at Disneyland, drive away in Josh’s Volvo station wagon. It’s all yours … take it. Just drop him off on your way home, though, please."
  • Relationship Symmetry in Social Networks: Why Facebook will go Fully Asymmetric – Bokardo – A very interesting analysis of the difference between the asymmetric relationship model of Twitter (arguably pioneered by Flickr) and the mostly symmetric relationship model of Facebook today and why the reality of attention inequality is a barrier to Facebook's growth as long as they stick to symmetric relationships.

Delicious Bookmarks for March 2nd through March 4th

These are my Delicious links for March 2nd through March 4th:

  • THRU YOU | Kutiman mixes YouTube – Unbelievable remixes of music samples from various YouTube videos into really great songs and fascinating videos. This is the poster-project for Remix culture! (hope someone sends it to Lessig)
  • Good design: The ten commandments of Dieter Rams – A great collection of rules on how to design products. While originally meant for physical products (industrial design), I think many of the rules still apply to online products and web design. Some of my favorites:
    – Good design makes a product useful
    – Good design helps a product to be understood
    – Good design is unobtrusive
    – *Good design is thorough to the last detail*
    – Good design is as little as possible

    And some quotes:
    "The aesthetic quality of a product – and the fascination it inspires – is an integral part of the its utility."
    "Things which are different in order to simply be different are seldom better, but that which is made to be better is almost always different."
    (And on a personal note, my late grandma had Rams's Cylindric T2 lighter in her apartment when I was a kid and I always got in trouble for playing with it, but its design fascinated me.)

Delicious Bookmarks for February 19th through February 25th

These are my Delicious links for February 19th through February 25th:

  • HTML URL Encoding Reference – Handy table of the URL encoded values for ASCII characters.
  • A foot and a half: Finally, A Use for Twitter – Greatest Twitter story evar! I actually saw these tweets from @the_real_shaq while this was happening, now we get the backstory from the guys for whom they were intended. I <3 Shaq!
  • The Crisis of Credit Visualized – Astute, approachable, and just plain pretty animated explanation of our current economic situation. Oh, and did I mention INCREDIBLY FRIGHTENING!? Once you realize how simple, and thus fundamental, the underlying problems are, it becomes very difficult to believe in a quick or easy fix. Now, back to stuffing my remaining cash into my mattress…
  • How Freshbooks Built an Army of Passionate Evangelists on Twitter. How are YOU doing so? | Blog of Mr. Tweet – A great story from a company passionate about serving customers and building relationships with them (CRB = customer relationship building) and how they extended the reach of that passion through Twitter. Worth the read.
  • The Missing Google Analytics Manual | FutureNow’s GrokDotCom / Marketing Optimization Blog – A comprehensive collection of the most helpful links and videos to teach you how to get the most out of Google Analytics.
  • Coding Horror: Commandos, Infantry, and Police – Quotation of a legendary analogy from Robert X. Cringely’s “Accidental Empires” published in 1993. Cringely characterizes the successive waves of employees who staff a company through its lifecycle from startup to industry leader to incumbent as commandos, infrantry, and military police, respectively.”The [commandos’] job is to do lots of damage with surprise and teamwork, establishing a beachhead before the enemy is even aware that they exist. Ideally, they do this by building the prototype of a product that is so creative, so exactly correct for its purpose that by its very existence it leads to the destruction of other products. They make creativity a destructive act.”
  • Add Community to your Site with Triggit! – An interesting idea of using Twitter as a platform to create user communities for your site (a la MyBlogLog). The differentiator is supposed to be that the community discussions happen publicly on Twitter, thus driving more traffic to your site.
  • GroupTweet – Cool simple tool to create what are essentially Twitter group mailing lists. You set up a Twitter account for your group, register it with GroupTweet, and then it’s just a bot that RTs any DMs sent to the group account. In order for a group member to be able to post to the whole group, they need to be followed by the group account. And you can control who reads the group messages by protecting the group account’s updates. Simple, elegant, effective.
  • Analytics Talk » Blog Archive » Tracking Sub Domains with Google Analytics – Best article I could find on how to track subdomains properly in Google Analytics. Surprised they don’t do it right out of the box. But, these easy to follow instructions and screenshots will get you sorted quickly.

On Hulu and Boxee or Sometimes it sucks to be right

A little under two weeks ago in a comment on a GigaOM post about Boxee, I wrote:

I think [Boxee’s] current differentiation is based primarily on giving users the features and content they want in the form they want it, which is mostly a function of Boxee not being encumbered by the legacy business models of the incumbents.

Frowny BoxeeWell, today those legacy business models came knocking on Boxee’s door in the form of Hulu pulling its content from Boxee at the request of its conventional media incumbent content partners. Though the very diplomatic (but still genuine, which is a hard line to walk) blog post from Hulu CEO Jason Kilar doesn’t say why, I agree entirely with TechCrunch’s assessment that the content partners weren’t so keen to see Boxee getting all this great press for doing an end-around the legacy value chain these guys are fighting tooth and nail to prop up. Boxee was a stand-out at CES in early January and I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Boxee first heard from Hulu on this matter just 2 weeks after the NY Times ran a very high-profile and positive article on how Boxee was so awesome for delivering major media content to the tv in the way consumers want (which also happens to be exactly what the major media companies have been fighting against). When you think about it, this timeline pretty much matches what it would take for the content companies to read the NY Times article, bitch about it to each other, decide to go to Hulu, get push-back from Hulu, and then steam-roll them.

Steve Raymond has a great post on why this is such a short-sighted move by the content providers, with which I totally agree. So, I won’t rehash it here. But, I will say that this issue is only the tip of the iceberg threatening Boxee. Though they have effectively found an un-endorsed end-around to the legacy living room value chain, this shows how dependent they still are on the goodwill (or at least ignorance) of the incumbents. They have poked the bear and it is now awake. The networks obviously don’t want to lose the high CPMs and concentrated audiences they get from broadcast tv, which can arguably be replaced by online ads at some point in the future. But, what can’t be replaced is the increasingly valuable fixed revenue stream from the carriage fees paid by cable and satellite operators (NBC and Fox, the primary content providers to Hulu, both own ~10 widely carried cable networks). A product like Boxee is a direct threat to cable and satellite operators because it eliminates their positions as programming gatekeepers and turns them into dumb data-delivery pipes. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if this move was driven more by the cable and satellite companies than the content providers.

In my original comment, I predicted if Boxee succeeded in pioneering this space they were likely to end up like TiVo. Now I think they’ll be lucky to get that far.

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Delicious Bookmarks for February 3rd through February 9th

These are my links for February 3rd through February 7th:

  • 5 Lessons I Learned After a Year as a Digital Nomad – The best piece of travel advice I've heard in a while: know the difference between traveling and living. If you're going to some place interesting, don't expect to have time to do other stuff like work. You'll just end up choosing between missing out on all the cool things to do where you are (and thus resenting your choice) or feeling guilty about not doing whatever it was you thought you were going to get done.
  • Dan Gilbert asks, Why are we happy? | Video on TED.com – Dan Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness, challenges the idea that we'll be miserable if we don't get what we want. Our "psychological immune system" lets us feel truly happy even when things don't go as planned. This is a really great talk. Well worth the 20min it takes to watch. You will be amazed at the empirical evidence on how bad humans are at predicting our own happiness and how subjective and relative happiness actually is.
  • Kareem Mayan’s Weblog: customer experience, emerging technology, media, and more – A great (old) blog post by Kareem on what makes people truly happy, how bad we are at predicting it, and how so few of us actually pursue it. Kudos to Kareem for taking his own advice and deciding to align his life to best pursue his dreams of traveling around the world (http://howsthewifi.com). The video at the end of this post is a must watch. Unfortunately, the embed is now broken – so, go see it here: http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/dan_gilbert_asks_why_are_we_happy.html
  • random($foo): Online Tools for A New Small Business – Leonard Lin's list of recommended business tools for startups. Covering accounting, CRM, marketing and development.
  • Why Should I Care What Color the Bikeshed Is? – "The really, really short answer is that you should not. The somewhat longer answer is that just because you are capable of building a bikeshed does not mean you should stop others from building one just because you do not like the color they plan to paint it. This is a metaphor indicating that you need not argue about every little feature just because you know enough to do so. Some people have commented that the amount of noise generated by a change is inversely proportional to the complexity of the change."
  • FT Alphaville » Blog Archive » Happy Boycott CNBC Day! – "The real problem with mullets and Pabst and Toby Keith songs, and with CNBC, is that there are people, large swaths of humanity, in fact, who apparently regard the above unironically."

These are my Delicious links for February 3rd through February 9th:

  • TechStars » Seed capital and mentorship for startups – Documents that TechStars uses as a starting point for seed stage financing for their companies. Aimed to be model documents for an angel or seed financing in the $250k-$2M range. They represent a “light” preferred equity financing and have very simple terms that are generally “balanced” but if anything lean toward the entrepreneurs and represent a great deal of trust in them, which they think is appropriate for angel deals where you are primarily investing in the people at the early stage.
  • 5 Lessons I Learned After a Year as a Digital Nomad – The best piece of travel advice I've heard in a while: know the difference between traveling and living. If you're going to some place interesting, don't expect to have time to do other stuff like work. You'll just end up choosing between missing out on all the cool things to do where you are (and thus resenting your choice) or feeling guilty about not doing whatever it was you thought you were going to get done.
  • Dan Gilbert asks, Why are we happy? | Video on TED.com – Dan Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness, challenges the idea that we'll be miserable if we don't get what we want. Our "psychological immune system" lets us feel truly happy even when things don't go as planned. This is a really great talk. Well worth the 20min it takes to watch. You will be amazed at the empirical evidence on how bad humans are at predicting our own happiness and how subjective and relative happiness actually is.
  • Kareem Mayan’s Weblog: customer experience, emerging technology, media, and more – A great (old) blog post by Kareem on what makes people truly happy, how bad we are at predicting it, and how so few of us actually pursue it. Kudos to Kareem for taking his own advice and deciding to align his life to best pursue his dreams of traveling around the world (http://howsthewifi.com). The video at the end of this post is a must watch. Unfortunately, the embed is now broken – so, go see it here: http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/dan_gilbert_asks_why_are_we_happy.html
  • random($foo): Online Tools for A New Small Business – Leonard Lin's list of recommended business tools for startups. Covering accounting, CRM, marketing and development.
  • Why Should I Care What Color the Bikeshed Is? – "The really, really short answer is that you should not. The somewhat longer answer is that just because you are capable of building a bikeshed does not mean you should stop others from building one just because you do not like the color they plan to paint it. This is a metaphor indicating that you need not argue about every little feature just because you know enough to do so. Some people have commented that the amount of noise generated by a change is inversely proportional to the complexity of the change."
  • FT Alphaville » Blog Archive » Happy Boycott CNBC Day! – "The real problem with mullets and Pabst and Toby Keith songs, and with CNBC, is that there are people, large swaths of humanity, in fact, who apparently regard the above unironically."