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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Wednesday, May 4

Looks like this has been done.

Nice… I think having to search for the other goal is a bit clunky, but the relational functionality is totally key. Nice folksonofying.

Friday, February 11

Jon Stewart taking on the media; the media proving him right
Jon Stewart on CrossfireJon Stewart continues to impress me. He's generally not an ass, he's more-often-than-not self-deprecating and is on a mission... badass!

Of course, his mission is not an easy one, and it's one that I doubt he chose for himself. No, reclaiming corporate media for Generation I couldn't possibly be a self-imposed burden... it's one of those destinies that just happens to find you.

Anyway, if you haven't seen it, you really should grab this torrent and take a gander at Stewart taking on the cretin hosts of Crossfire (or so they come off during this heated exchange). You really owe it to yourself.

When you're done, go take a look at how CNN proves him right. 'The Power of CNN Under Your Command' is the news media's version of TBS' "very funny" campaign. Now, I don't even watch much TV, but when I happened to see the TBS ads rebranding the channel as the "funny" channel, it made me shudder. The ads were just stupid... and TBS is just not funny.

So today when I come across CNN doing the same thing, my stomach turned. What the hell are they thinking? As if the failure of the various news media outlets to report real news wasn't enough... now they're blatantly entering into the entertainment business?! I mean, I can only imagine what this will do to repair the "credibility".

Of course, my whole complaint is instantly put into proper context once you realize that... surprise, surprise CNN is owned by TBS' parent company, Time Warner Interactive.

Given that fact, it would seem that the 'tbs very funny' campaign is working. And now Time Warner is hoping that a similar technique applied to CNN will bring back its ratings.

Saturday, December 4

Handy Software that will Save Your Life (Mac only)

Blacktree's QuickSilver

This is by far the best, independently created software for the Mac... ever. That a handful of developers are behind this incredible application (with no corporate support and no definite plans for a 1.0 release), what the lead developer, Alcor, has brought to life is nothing short of a phenomenon.

More than a simple launcher, QuickSilver enables you to build commands through a beautiful bezel interface. But it does more than that. Use it to set hotkey triggers for automatically executing a command, use it to email or IM files to a friend or run just about any other command you can think of.

The community is currently devising ideas on how to better reveal the hidden power buried within QuickSilver's miniscule interface. If you have questions, the forum is first place to go.

Mozilla's Firefox

I used to swear by Safari as my browser of choice, but once I started using Firefox 0.8 on my Mac, I realized what I had been missing. Firstly, when you store a large number of autofill entries (passwords, logins and whatnot) in Safari, you begin to notice huge slowdowns overtime. That in and of itself encouraged me to look elsewhere. But when I found Firefox's Web Developer Extension, I became hooked. And now that I volunteer for Mozilla, I doubt if I'll ever stray again!

Octiv's VolumeLogic

If you live in iTunes like I do, your music is important to your daily functioning. Why not listen to your music the way it was meant to sound?

Octiv's VolumeLogic is a revolution in music fidelity and sound quality. What you thought sounded good with iTunes SoundCheck sounds incredible running through VolumeLogic. Go download the demo and see for yourself. I kid you not, I can't stand listening to music without it!


Okay, so this software might not save your life, but, if you're like my roommate and are looking for a way to reclaim precious hard disk space, you need this! Monolingual works by removing unneeded language files from your applications and system files. You might not realize it, but every time you install a new application or install a Software Update, you're likely adding a few megabytes of unnecessary junk to your system. Well, if you only need one language on your computer, the aptly named Monolingual can help.

And its savings are nothing to sneeze at: my roommate's 20GB harddrive was down to just under 1GB and he was looking for a way to grab back some space. He asked me if he could trash anything in his System Library folder, since it seemed to be a duplicate of the stuff in his User Library folder. My eyes grew big and I shrieked, "NO!" Instead, I grabbed Monolingual for him, and after 30 minutes or so, had removed 471MB of unwanted language files! (and it also helped that I removed a 7.3GB log file!)

Wednesday, October 20

Business models in Web 2.0:

"Jason does a great job describing some of the models we're currently contemplating in response to the growing interest in a hosted version of Basecamp. It gives a good deal of insight into how serious we take the whole No Human Scaling aspect of Basecamp.

We don't want to grow a company of 25 people around Basecamp even if that looks like a very possible road forward. Instead, we're sticking to our design of constraints and are thinking about how to leverage those best.

I particularly like the ideas of auctioning off just a handful of installable versions. We have quite a few large and very interesting companies on the notification list for an installable version. Just how much could a program like Basecamp be worth to have inside the firewall?

At the other end, I'm attracted to solution for dealing with upgrade cycles: Don't do them. Sell a v1.0 with all the bugs and inefficiencies that it might very well have. And then give people another chance at v2.0 — but no in-betweens. I wonder if it would work, though. Even with everyone as consenting adults. Would having the source available and being able to do internal improvements help assure people of the viability?

Business models for open source

While we're contemplating what to do in the commercial world of Basecamp, I'm at the same time seeing a number of opportunities arise for Rails. Just recently, I signed on to help Combustion Labs in Vancouver explore Ruby on Rails for a week.

That's the traditional open-source service model. Give away source and software, sell services. But there are many new models popping up. One of them is doing hosting, which of course is exactly what I announced earlier today.

Partner with a hosting company and make sure that they Just Work with your software. A lot of the pain in open sourcing is getting the stuff up and running. If you can pay something reasonable to have that all taken care and support the project, then what's to think about?

On top of that, there's of course taken either commercial sponsorships for feature improvements (I was talking to a guy at RubyConf about adding integrated Web Services support to Rails on that model) or raise funds directly from the community. A few of the guys from #rubyonrails talked about how they'd like to raise funds to allow me a month off to improve the documentation.

It's a brave new world for funding of great software and ideas outside of the traditional channels."

(Via Loud Thinking.)

Brainstorming new business models for small software companies:

"While this post has Basecamp-related content, it's not really about Basecamp. It's about considering alternate business models for small software companies looking to capitalize on a success without imploding or losing the spirit of what made them able to produce the success in the first place. I believe that as more small teams start producing the killer Web 2.0 apps this is an issue they are going to run into. So let's be proactive about it. Here goes...

I've been spending a lot of time thinking about how to open up new markets for Basecamp, and I wanted to share a few things and also ask for some feedback. I believe there's an interesting discussion to be had here.

We've had a fair number of requests for an installed version of Basecamp (Basecamp is currently only available in an ASP-model hosted environment). A version that people can run on their own servers, behind their own firewall. Some people just aren't comfortable with hosted software. We can appreciate that.

Now, there's a lot of money to be made selling installable enterprise-ish software like Basecamp. Similar products like Socialtext or eProject can sell for thousands of dollars a year once you buy a license for just a few employees, and over ten thousand a year for medium sized companies. The problem for us is that even though the revenue is there, we don't have the manpower to service a wide and varying installed base. And -- even more fundamentally -- we don't want to. I'm afraid that a large installed base will divert our focus away from progress and more towards management. We want to create and build, not manage. We're trying to avoid unproductive human scaling at all costs."


Saturday, June 5

Cold Turkey By Kurt Vonnegut

I find it amazing, refreshing and alarming all the same that Vonnegut continues his hyperbolic rampage of making sense of the world and putting things in such blithe, ironic and terrible words. Hail to the chief, indeed.

Navigating a new city; or when public transportation succeeds

Today I ventured for the first time out on my own into the city, in seek of a proper coffee shop. Using 511.org's excellent Trip Planner, I was able to plan my route, boarding first the 38 on Geary and then the 23 which took me into the heart of the Mission District.

After I'd logged my five hours of sedentary work and after I'd polished off two large 1/2 and 1/2 coffees, plotting and executing the return trip left me no worse for wear again using the Trip Planner. I simply boarded the 23 at Protrero and 20th and stayed on until Turk and Arguello... Practically door to door service! And the return trip brought me to such great heights both literally and figuratively that the 45-minute ride was something of a welcome rest, rather than a boring or tedious excursion.

It's nice to know that all the credit that I gave to BART in choosing to come out here seems to be panning out... and reaffirming my gross suspicions that Pittsburgh's transit system is not only in need of a major overhaul but is actually bringing the city down with it.

Wednesday, June 2

Having arrived at my new home only two days ago, already I feel the skin from old life sloughing off, like the smog and silt and dust from the previous industrial decades washed off the trees and houses and hills of Pittsburgh. I will be indelibly marked by my time spent there, my time living in Oakland, Squirrel Hill and Highland Park. Surely some of the best and most difficult years of my life unfurled there in the green grass of the spring and the gray slush of winter.

I admit, Pittsburgh and San Francisco are practically on polar opposites ends of the earth, both culturally and physically. Though where I grew up instilled in me a much more North Easterly heritage than Pittsburgh's mid-western presence could ever strive for, nevertheless, Pittsburgh is by lengths a much more Eastern place than Western. And being in one of the most Western cities confirms this.

There's a difference attitude here, present not only in the mild people, but also in the weather. So far I've experienced only sun and mild, high 60's temperatures. In Pittsburgh prior to leaving, we had some of the most beautiful and some of the most brutal weather! And, in typical fashion, Pittsburgh sent me off with a gray morning, seemingly resentful and at the same time content to see me go, like a mother watching her first born go off to college. There's a certain pride in the distance and in seeing someone who you knew would someday depart, finally take their leave.

Well I am now a son of Pittsburgh, just as much as I am the son of the Live Free or Die state. What I gained and what I gave up living in Pittsburgh is now mine in totality as I move forward and establish myself anew on a foreign shore. Lest I be too mellow dramatic, I do understand the relativity of my move compared with others, who, for example, choose to travel to entirely new continents as part of their pilgrimage. But in traveling within the country in which I was born I have the opportunity to bear witness the stark similarities and subtle differences between the two. If I were venturing off to Africa or Asia or Russia surely it would be easier for me to spot the similarities and distinctions between our cultures on a wider scale than by sticking to familiar soil and having to scrutinize the land for those subtle gems of distinction.

All the same, I have come and am now here, in the city of San Francisco.

Tuesday, May 25

Things that I recently learned about bike tires:

  1. A tire is made up of an outer shell and an inner tube.

  2. When and if you have a flat, it's typically because the inner tube has been punctured.

  3. It is important to note, however, that all bike tires "breathe" and as such, it is typical to need to pump up mountain bike tires every few days and road bikes even more often

  4. A thorn or other sharp object may puncture the outside "tire" as well as the inner "tube" since the inflated tube presses up against the inside wall of the tire. In which case it will be necessary to replace the tube, even if you only bought it a few days before after incorrectly buying a bike pump thinking that the tire just needed air.

I hope that this information proves didactic for someone.