Archive for February 2006

7 Things I Learned From The TechCrunch Party

(and I wasn’t even there)

One of the tech world’s most influential journalists, Michael Arrington, hosted a party at his house in Silicon Valley last night, and here are some things I learned from it:

1. Silicon Valley and Seattle are *nothing* alike from a cultural standpoint. Sure they both have thriving tech industries, but that’s where the similarities end. There is SO much more of the shmooze factor in San Francisco, and it’s becoming more and more obvious with each passing Foo Camp, Bar Camp, TechCrunch Party, and <insert catchy name here> Conference. Shmoozing is great, and I’m not disparaging events like this at all, but it really puts into perspective how much of a stage Silicon Valley is on. In Seattle, we seem to go about our work with much less showmanship, marketing, and social presence. Anybody else from either Seattle or S.F. notice this?

2. Michael Arrington is definitely the fastest rising market maker in the tech world right now. Think Mossberg with a younger target audience. He is also not a racist… just ask Scrivs. :)

3. Victoria Murphy Barret of Forbes is pretty hot. Note to Forbes: When you call us for your Newsvine interview, send her please.

4. I admire a man who feels comfortable inviting hundreds of people, a lot of which he doesn’t even know, to party at his house. I’ve had parties of 30 which got out of control. I can’t imagine the potential liability if the wrong sorts of people were to show up.

5. It would seem to me that Robert Scoble and Shel Israel definitely got their money’s worth of publicity for this event. Heck, I’m not even sure if they actually paid a penny for it given the other sponsors who jumped on board. In exchange for perhaps only their presence, they were able to get their new book “Naked Conversations” in front of just about every shmoozer in Silicon Valley… plus all of Michael’s numerous readers. Now *that’s* a great PR effort.

6. I hate to say it, especially given my position as CEO of a news startup, but the tech world in another bubble. Over the last several months, some have made similar assessments only to temper them with the observation that much less money is going in so much less money will be lost, but I’ve seen some flat-out ridiculous companies getting flat-out ridiculous rounds of financing lately. I’m not one to publicly disparage the efforts of others so I won’t name any names, but DAMN things are getting frothy! I’m really not speaking about any investments under a few million dollars, because let’s face it, that sort of money can and should be thrown into speculative investments from time to time, but I’m talking more in the high seven to eight figure range, and hell, even the mid nine figure range (see: MySpace). Seeing expectations build up to these levels scares me a bit because I’ve always seen the internet as creating *more* efficient markets, and not *less* efficient ones. More efficient markets mean less cost to consumers and less margins to producers. The only way for producers to make up for this is in increased quantity and alternative monetization models. I’m just not sure there is as big of a net gain for most producers as some people would have you believe. I do believe the little guy gets a lot more power in this model, but I’m skeptical that the big guy even gets better at all.

7. Stowe Boyd always seemed like a cool guy to me and I was happy to find out that he passed out on the couch after the party (with the hat on of course). Hard partying always leads to a good night’s sleep.

Camino: Supermodel of a Browser?

Being a Mac user, I’ve always had a problem with Firefox. I’ve thought long and hard about tasteful analogies for my relationship with it, but I keep coming back to a somewhat shallow one: Firefox is like the girl in school who you knew you should probably date because she’s intelligent, multilingual, and funny, but she just wasn’t very attractive to you.

Safari, on the other hand, has been the opposite: Hot as hell and lives right down the street, but offers little more than instant gratification of primal needs.

Many people who can’t stand to be without both types of relationships have evolved into “browser polygamists”… or, people who use multiple browsers during their normal daily routine. Jon Hicks could be considered the king of the Browser Polygamy movement, hopping from application to application with the recklessness of a late 70s porn star. Jon likes multiple browsers, and he’s not ashamed to admit it.

I, on the other hand, have never liked using multiple apps for any chore, whether it be browsing, e-mail, design, code, or whatever else. I want a single point of entry into whatever I’m doing.

And so it was with great interest that I started playing around with the latest Camino betas a couple of months ago. Camino you say? Wasn’t that a truck that late 70s porn stars drove around in? Nope, that’s the “El Camino“. This is Camino, the web browser; an application I remember using back when it was called “Chimera” in the early OS X days.

Camino is like Firefox with a beautiful makeover. I’m not talking about Lee Press-On Nails and an Ogilvie Home Perm… I’m talking an X-Code workout regimen, a healthy diet of Cocoa, and a Quartz mineral bath. Think of Firefox as Paris Hilton — gets all the press, will compile for anybody, and is a bit strange looking. Think of Camino as younger sister Nicky — much cuter, a bit more refined, and up until now in the shadow of her sister.

Anyway, with today’s announcement of the official 1.0 version, Camino has finally emerged from the shadow of its older sister to become a true contender in the Mac browser space. It looks better than Safari and it feeler faster than Firefox… that’s a great start. Here are some more things I am loving about Camino:

  1. It’s a snap to import all of your Safari bookmarks.
  2. The interface is outstanding. Not only is it truly Mac-ish in appearance, but as mentioned above, it’s actually more visually appealing to me than Safari.
  3. It’s faster than Firefox in all ways, and it seems faster than Safari in certain, but not all occasions. When browsing from page to page within a site (viz. when all JS and CSS are already in cache) you can barely even see the pages repaint. It does seem a tad slower on full page fetches, but as Camino team member Samuel Sidler says, “speed is subjective”.
  4. Safari’s preferences are limited, but in Camino, almost everything is configurable. Apple’s decision to keep Safari simple isn’t a bad one, as most casual Mac users don’t want to see 1000 options in front of their faces (see: Adium… which I love, by the way), but it is really nice to have a good, highly configurable browser to use again.
  5. A more comprehensive History display.
  6. It supports all of the same WYSIWYG web editors that every other browser besides Safari does. Incidentally, this is really my only major beef with Safari from an internals perspective as this point. But it’s a huge beef.
  7. Everything Hicksy says here and Om says here.

What don’t I like about Camino? Well, really only three things:

  1. The seemingly slight lag in full-page fetches (although I could be imagining this).
  2. The lack of a Javascript debugger and other extensions.
  3. No native spellchecking.

So with that, I will now be trying out Camino as my primary browser for the next month or so. If you’re lookin’ for a change, I recommend you do the same.

Note: Observant readers may notice that I first compare Firefox to a smart woman and then to Paris Hilton. Two separate analogies. Try not to confuse them.

Stopping Flagrant Piracy of Mint

Pitch in and help The Wolf ward off the pirates.

The Ultimate Get Elements By Class Name

Nice little script by Robert Nyman to create an array from every element sharing the same class.

Shared
Why I Just Asked My Students To Put Their Laptops Away:

A great essay about how toxic everyday distractions can be.

Humanity's deep future:

A group of researchers at the Future of Humanity Institute talk about where our race may be going and how artificial intelligence could save or kill us all.

Steve Jobs speaks about the future at the International Design Conference in 1983:

31 years later, it’s safe to say this is one of the most prescient speeches about technology ever delivered. Jobs covers wireless networking, tablets, Google StreetView, Siri, and the App Store (among other things) many years before their proliferation. A fantastic listen.

How to travel around the world for a year:

Great advice for when you finally find the time.

LiveSurface:

A fantastic app for prototyping your design work onto real world objects like billboards, book covers, and coffee cups. This seems like just as great of a tool for people learning design as it does for experts.

50 problems in 50 days:

One man’s attempt to solve 50 problems in 50 days using only great design. Some good startup ideas in here…

How to Do Philosophy:

If you’ve ever suspected that most classical philosophy is a colossal waste of time, Paul Graham tells you why you’re probably right.

TIME: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us:

Stephen Brill follows the money to uncover the pinnacle of corruption that is the U.S. Health Care system. A must-read article if there ever was one.

DIY Dot Org:

A beautifully designed site full of fun and challenging DIY projects. I could spend months on here.

The Steve Jobs Video Archive:

A collection of over 250 Steve Jobs videos in biographical order

Self-portraits from an artist under the influence of 48 different psychoactive drug combos.

Water Wigs are pretty amazing.

David Pogue proposes to his girlfriend by creating a fake movie trailer about them and then getting a theater to play it before a real movie. Beautiful and totally awesome.

Jonah Peretti's letter to BuzzFeed’s employees:

If you’re wondering what a excellent blueprint for a modern media company looks like, look no further than Buzzfeed CEO Jonah Peretti’s latest email to his employees. In it, Peretti explains a lot of his company’s virtues, the most important being a relentless focus on always providing what’s best for the user. Vox Media (operators of The Verge) is the only other company I can think of which approaches this level of reform and execution.

The Covers Project:

I love this so much: a cross-referenceable database of cover songs, searchable by song or artist. Slowed down, acoustic covers — no matter the song — are so enjoyable to me that I wish it was a requirement to play one at every show. If you like them as much as I do, make sure to check out M. Ward’s Let’s Dance or Sun Kil Moon’s entire album of Modest Mouse covers.