Archive for June, 2007


June 28th, 2007

So. I am going to be one of the true-believers hoping to get a jesus phone this weekend. I had the opportunity to play with one a few weeks back. The thing that I most worried about, usability of the virtual keyboard, was a non-issue for me. One of my other big concerns–battery life / no replaceable battery–doesn’t appear to be that big a deal according to David Pogue and Walt Mossberg.

I’m still not happy about the slower-than-hell EDGE cellular data network, but I’ve been enduring that with a Cingular Blackberry for a couple of years now. It wouldn’t make any sense to elevate that to a deal breaker. The price isn’t a problem. The lifeless shells of more expensive phones clutter up my junk drawer given my futile attempts to date to find a “smart phone” that actually lives up to the name.

I’m very hopeful about the iPhone’s prospects. :-)


Pownce and the Lightweight Webapp

June 28th, 2007

Kevin Rose, founder of digg, has just launched a new service. It’s called Pownce and is designed to help you broadcast small bits of data (notes, links, pictures, etc.) to groups of people. Valleywag promptly panned Pownce claiming that it wasn’t useful and that it was YASN (yet another social network.)

So, Pownce might not be useful to Tim Faulkner, the guy who wrote the article. I, on the other hand, think that is useful. I even considered building exactly the same thing just for me and my friends. It would save us time, help to unclog our inboxes from the redundant links we send to each other all the time, and give us a more convenient archive of the little tidbits we thought were important enough to broadcast to each other.

Truthfully though, neither my opinion nor Tim Faulkner’s really matter here.

We live in a world where apps like Pownce are super cheap to build, launch, and operate. My Pownce-like app was going to take a couple of weekends to implement. I would have hosted it on my own server which costs me less than a daily latte at Starbucks. That server has more than enough capacity to scale a pownce-like app to my network of friends and to their first-order networks–almost certainly with plenty of headroom to spare.

Even if Pownce is an abject failure, the founding team is out virtually nothing in terms of operating costs or invested time. Probably the most valuable thing they lose in the total failure scenario is the opportunity to have done something cooler with their time and energy.

I doubt that Pownce will be a total failure. In my opinion, it has the potential to be very popular. My friends and I will almost certainly use it. Even if it is only middling popular though, say 1M page views per day, operating costs will still be next to nothing, and the ads income from that traffic could make the partners more money per year than they could earn as software developers at most places. If it is wildly popular…well…then the founding team could get rich.

We live in wonderful times.

The Tech Biz

Wildcard Search

June 11th, 2007

Michael Arrington’s post about Powerset this morning reminded me of a very useful Google feature called wildcard search.

Wildcard search has been around for a couple of years now. It allows you to formulate a query with ‘blanks’ in it. When Google answers the query, it fills in the blanks. This mechanism can be pretty effective for question answering. You simply formulate your query as the answer to your question with the important factual bits blank. For example:

A pretty handy feature once you know it’s there…


Linguistic Anthropology

June 7th, 2007

I’m sorry. One of my colleagues has infected me with
this meme virus
. I can’t help myself.