Best Live Concert I’ve Ever Been To: Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros

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This is saying a lot. If you know me, you know I likely have attended, on average, 2 concerts per month for the last 12 years of my life. Thus, nearly 300 concerts — that doesn’t really consider the nearly 50 acts that I see at various concert festivals (SXSW).

I’ve seen the new face of rock ‘n roll, and I was sober. This band lit up The Independent in San Francisco, CA, which is close to their homebase of Los Angeles.

I have described it as “happy hippie rock ‘n roll”.

I love these songs-
Home
Come In Please
Om Nashi Me

Ok I mean, those were the best damn songs played live.

I clapped with the crowd, intensely for 3 songs straight. I didn’t even feel any pain, and just kept clapping harder. And harder. Jumping in place. Couldn’t stop moving. Didn’t want it to end.

Expect lots of 2nd hand weed smoke. I want to become a groupie and follow them. The one chick’s vocals blow your mind considering how petite (and high on drugs) she is.

If you get a chance to see this band, you don’t even need to listen to the music beforehand — I assure you I had no clue what I was expecting, I just knew that my buddy Jonathan Strauss (of Awe.sm) had talked them up to me so much that when I was in SF earlier this month and he was, and he told me they were — I said, done, I’m in.

This band couldn’t be talked up enough — your expectations could be higher than a kite and they’ll still blow you away.

I just bought 4 tickets for their show in Toronto on November 24, 2009. Here’s their schedule and some songs to listen to.

Prepare to have the most fun you’ve ever known.

Any UX / UI / GUI / Graphic Designers out there?

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Specifically I’m seeking a contract UX designer — someone that can go through our app and make the usability better. As a quick task to see if you have the chops, how can you make the following ‘reports/stats’ page more usable? [This page basically breaks down stats for any plugin that the Publisher is using in their Extendy toolbar on their website].

If you are this UX someone, or know of someone, please drop me a quick note.

Extendy--Campaigns-»-Everyt

How to Startup! (not being a programmer)

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I gave this presentation last night at our third BarCampBuffalo. Sorry there’s no audio (or some examples of my pencil mockups, or RFP spreadsheet):

Start-up Roadmap?

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I received a question from someone that I thought was a good one:

After doing some research and a lot of googling I´ve a lot of resources in
different areas (customer development, project managment, agile development,
business plans, etc). I feel frustrated trying to glue all this together in
a practical order so that I can feel I have a horizon (a road map) to start
with. Is there such a thing ?

I sent this out to a few people to see what recommendations they’d give. Brad Feld said “If there is, it’s useless. There’s not a roadmap for starting a company – just a zillion little pieces to put together in unique ways each time.”

I agree with that, but having some kind of outline to help you consider those zillion little pieces, would be good — even though not every start-up will have to consider the parts.

Dave McClure said, “I agree with Brad that every journey is unique, but there are probably a few places that can help speed you along the path. You might try http://startupcompanylawyer.com as one resource, http://venturehacks.com as another.

Fred & Brad‘s blogs are also great places to start. Don’t know how much of the old Garage site is still around, but Guy Kawasaki‘s blog might also have some useful refs.”

David Cohen of TechStars chimed in and recommended Guy’s book The Art of the Start, which is “one book that seems fairly timeless. This will at least give you a good list of things to think about. Obviously, it will never be comprehensive to a particular startup.”

Here’s a link to some presentations by Guy’s Garage.com for building a company.

Any other good resources? Please list them in the comments.

Thanks Brad, David, and Dave for the input.

RE: The First Ten Things the New CEO of MySpace Should Do

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Response to Jason’s MySpace To-Do list:

I think #2 and #3 that I list below are most important. [I aligned them with your #’s].
#3 has the most upside [global to 1billion users].
#11 is an idea missing [they are slowly losing bands, and thus band followers, over to twitter].
1. Buying a search engine is overkill. You don’t care about the search engine, you care about the advertisers — Google has landed them (and due to the mass competition can get nearly 3x revenue what their next closest competitor gets Yahoo …. unless that number has changed) — so have a big emphasis on search, but use Google and take your 80% rev-share that you can negotiate [because Google doesn’t want to give up those searches and put a competitor ‘on the map’]. A search engine isn’t their core competency.

2. There’s a reason MySpace is dead [or dying] — people are sick of the mess! It’s a clusterfuck of clutter! Geocities was the same way. Yahoo — same way [which is part of why Google took over Search]. I’d maybe think of introducing a “flip-side” of MySpace — a sexy, clean, cohesive version — and then the version where users can go buckwild-style on their pages [hell, bring back the ‘blink’ tag and let them go at it]. I think in order to take-over mobile, you need to clean up the mess first on the website.
3. Global efforts and race to 1billion users: Partner/buy global social networks that don’t overlap too much with your existing userbase. Also, need to internationalize the site [if it hasn’t been already; FB has users doing this for them].
4. You’re talking a massive overall here (no more coldfusion? ahh!). But maybe it could be outsourced to the gods… http://www.pivotallabs.com/
5. Games: Fuckin’ bingo. No brainer; can’t believe this hasn’t been done yet. Oberon Media, they should go buy ’em.
6. Love the virtual currency. This is still up for grabs; they could potentially shift into OWNING this space — and hell, MySpace Coins might make their way into Facebook App games if they were the most dominant virtual currency. [And that is, if the USA could grasp this concept]
10. Content sites: Agreed, but this is insignificant in the big pie they are tackling.
11. They use to OWN the bands, they still kind of do, but Twitter is hopping in there and grabbing a piece. Twitter owns the communication; MySpace owns their space. I’ve been watching ‘30 Seconds to Mars‘ and ‘Imogen Heap‘ on Twitter — both are in the studio working on new albums; it’s been exciting to watch their progress (and I’m in great anticipation for releases!). Anyhow, they need a “status update” service.
/end

Staffing Plan for a Widget Startup Company

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I’m interested in what a staffing plan typically looks like for a widget startup company, like: MyBlogLog, Lijit, IntenseDebate, Disqus, etc.

What’s needed initially til launch? After launch, at what # of installs do you need: community manager; relationship manager (someone proactively engaging Publishers to install the widget), etc?

Anyone have any info on this? Any links to some public staffing plans? [I’d love to see what MyBlogLog had planned for, then what it really looked like]

BarCamp Buffalo #3 (May 4, 2009 @ 6:30PM)

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We’re trying something a little different this time — we’re going to have a theme at this BarCamp, which this time around will be Social Media (anything related to blogging, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc). You can still present on anything, but hopefully it’ll be related in some respect to the theme.

We’re starting a little earlier, 6:30pm — with plans to begin presentations at 7pm. We’re going to do 10-minute presentations. We’ll do 6-8 presentations, then take a 30-minute networking break (where you can speak with those who just presented).

Then we’ll do another 6-8 presentations, then allow people to dive into further conversation with the speakers on their topics, as well as other networking.

Here are some ideas of what you might present on (or others will present on):

• Building a Twitter app
• Software/tools to help you blog, tweet, build FB/Twitter apps, etc
• How LinkedIn can help you find a job
• Everything you do on the web is there forever, don’t screw up you reputation
• How to make money from a Facebook or Twitter app
• Building a Facebook app
• Ideas for making your app viral
• Getting attention

Wish to present? Sign-up here: http://barcamp.org/BarCampBuffalo

Follow what others are saying about the event on Twitter (@BarCampBuffalo):
http://search.twitter.com/search?q=barcampbuffalo

Suggestions? Comments? Do share, we want to hear them. Just tweet a message with ‘@barcampbuffalo’ in it, and everyone will see it.

Please RSVP to event here:
http://digg.com/u1Qtn

If You Suck, You’re Dead

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I recently had an awful experience with United Airlines and feel 100% unsatisfied by how they handled the situation. I made a commitment to them in January, when I paid them money for airfare from BUF->AUS roundtrip (for my annual trek to SXSW). My flight was for Thursday morning, the day before SXSW started (which cost me $400 for admission). I watched as delays due to ‘mechanical failure’ kept delaying my flight, it reached about 2.5 hours (I didn’t wait that long, they were pushing it out that long), that I knew I’d miss my connecting flight to AUS (from IAD) — so I knew that’d be a mess if I actually got to Dulles and then was stuck there.

I spoke with someone via their 800 number, who told me to call a different 800 number, who then said to speak with someone at the actual ticket counter. (What!?) So after those many minutes of my life were destroyed, they told me they “were sorry” and that they could get me out on a flight Saturday morning. “SATURDAY MORNING?! WTF!” I mean, wtf. I NEED to be in Austin. This isn’t the first time they’ve had problems with an airplane — have planes in reserve, even if only at your main hub (IAD) and fly them over. “But sir, we can give you your money back.”

Give me my money back? Are you f’ing kidding me right now? I don’t want my money back, I want to arrive in Austin Texas. Today. “Sorry sir.”

I’m sorry, but that’s not acceptable to me. My forced option was having to go on Southwest.com and drop another $384 on a one-way flight from BUF->AUS, so I could get out of Buffalo that day. Had I known I was going to drop this much additional, I wouldn’t have been such a cheapskate in the first place when I “saved” $250 by booking via United, rather than Southwest.

I let it go and decided I’d deal with it once I got back from the trip — and thus, I wanted United to reimburse me for $384. Through many emails and calls with Indians (no offense, but I want to speak to an American that I can understand), they offered me a $25 gift certificate on future United travel. “WTF?!” Then they eventually boosted it to $35 after more angry emails to them.

Wow, Thanks United. I’m done with you. I will never fly United Airlines again in my life. I have felt shafted and never want to be shafted by them again if this incident were to arise again. I purchased airfare to Belgium a couple days ago — and I paid a little extra as to not fly United Airlines.

The Internet has become a beautiful, beautiful thing. In the past year, Twitter and Facebook Status updates (aka “micro-blogging”) have really come to fruition — and in years to come, there’s only going to be more of it. It’s the new “word of mouth” marketing — only now, when I bitch about a brand, it doesn’t go out to the 1 or 2 people that I’m telling next to me — it goes out to the world; specifically though, it goes out to all of my friends/contacts, whom I have some influence with. In Twitter I have 816 followers, this blog has 1,219 readers, and in Facebook I have 334 friends. Granted, there’s overlap. But if even only 100 people see my message — heck, they may tell their friends about how Steve Poland got the shaft from United Airlines, and they might join my boycott, because they are sick of airlines treating consumers with zero respect. (Heck, I might get this post digg’d the the homepage of digg and have a legion of United Airlines Boycotters).

United Airlines — You Suck, and I hope you are one of the companies that will go belly-up BANKRUPT in the next 5 years, as word-of-mouth on the web starts to hold all companies accountable for their actions and customer service. When I look at your logo, I visualize a middle finger in it and you’re telling me to go screw myself. Well, this writing is my middle finger back to you.

The age of (near) full transparency is here. I say “near”, because we can’t see the shady stuff going on inside companies, but maybe anonymous Twitter accounts will start popping up with insider-employees at companies ratting out their own companies on shady activities.

Google’s New Competitor: 1 Geek

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Aside from all the marketing problems of having the next Google and getting people to use it (not to mention the huge pool of advertisers Google has w/AdWords; nor to mention all the filtering of spam webpages that exist out there), in the past couple of days, some really neat services have released that will allow any single programmer to build their own Google at minimal cost. I’m really excited by this.

Hadoop is an open-source program that Yahoo, Wikia Search (R.I.P.), Facebook, Powerset (MSFT acquired for $100mm and likely is relaunching this technology w/$100mm of new branding, code named ‘Kumo‘ at the moment) and others use to process/index tons of webpages on the Internet. Amazon.com just announced Amazon Elastic MapReduce, basically allowing anyone to easily do web-scale data processing (Hadoop was actually inspired/based on Amazon’s MapReduce).

Next, a startup called 80legs got to strut their stuff at the Web 2.0 Expo in SF. 80legs allows anyone to easily crawl the web quickly — up to 2 billion pages a day (there’s over a trillion on the web).

No longer does one need to invest a boatload of money for a 1000 servers to handle Hadoop (only to find-out they can’t pull off the next Google competitor).

Open Letter to Airlines (United Airlines et al)

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I’m disgusted. I’ve been disgusted. I can’t believe how low the bar is that your industry works towards. You suck. Every single one of you, except Southwest and JetBlue. You’re never on-time. You don’t care that you’re not on-time. When you’re not on-time, you piss everyone off that’s involved (passengers; people waiting to pickup passengers at destination; flight attendants & crew because passengers are cranky; desk clerks; etc).

Your planes are always undergoing “mechanical failures”. Why? And OK, so this isn’t news — it happens to you, how many times per day? Either get more mechanics, or get more planes that sit idle, waiting for your planes to fail, so that you can use them with your customers. You all have your main “hubs”, just keep extra planes there.

And stop booking so many flights; because you obviously can’t keep up with them.

You wonder why you’re all bankrupt and going out of business? It’s because you SUCK. The only reason I use you, is because killing 13 hours of my day in airports (today) is faster than 26 hours in a car (Buffalo -> Austin). [Ideally it was supposed to be 6 hours, but you don’t care about me, so I don’t know why I’m writing this]

I’m done with you. Forever. I slacked and got cheap; I started using Orbitz. I got hooked on their SMS text reminders; so nice to know when your gate changes and when flights are delayed. (BTW, why do you delay a flight 8x in 15-min intervals? Seriously, you don’t know when you do the first delay, that it’s going to be longer than 15-mins? Delay it 2 hours, and just do it. Also, why do you change the gate like 8x? Just make up your mind, this gate or the other. I was on crutches at O’Hare when you literally switched the gate 8x, I have all the SMS texts to prove it. That’s not cool for someone that’s handicapped in a wheelchair [on crutches, they give you wheelchair service, so your armpits don’t bleed walking miles at O’Hare]).

I’m going to spend whatever it costs to only fly Southwest Airlines and JetBlue. That is my pledge. I have loved Southwest for years; they are on-time 95% of the time; they leave on-time; arrive on-time; don’t delay (although 20min delay currently for my flight out today); they don’t charge for your 1st checked bag; etc.

Southwest, I’m sorry I flirted with a cheaper date; I’ll never leave you again.