Thursday, October 05, 2006

East Meets West 2.0: Taiwan Web Scene Get a Visit from Yours Truly and the Boys from Flickr (Stewart Butterfield) and TechCrunch (Michael Arrington)

Was invited to a great little (well, not so little, as apparently they had ~3000 people attending in one giant hall) Web2.0 Conference in Taipei (English version here) mid last week organized by the government funded "Institute for Information Industry" (a very large and impressive national organization that exceeds the size of anything I've seen in Canada) to kick start the local Web2.0 community. This entry is way overdue, and I've been meaning to blog about it for the longest time and I'm finally getting around to it. I've really gotta get back into this blogging thing.

It was a great opportunity to get to know more about Taiwan Web2.0 scene, and also for me to hang out with my two American hommies in Asia. I am of course, Asian, and have been in Taipei numerous times (usually along with visits to Hong Kong - a travel hub of asia - to friends and family in, where I was born) and have spent in aggregate months over several trips, visiting in Taipei, so it felt just like a 2nd home.

There were a ton of highlights for me, the hosts and organizers were great, and my North American travelers/speakers were a lot fun to hang out with, and the local entrepreneurs made for fantastic company as well. I wish I had more time for this blog posting, but I'll just throw a few items below.. .and hopefully I'll come around to putting up a bigger post to update the points below...

One of the esp. cool things for me was to actually finally meet Stewart Butterfield (co-founder of Flickr) in person. Flickr has had a great deal of influence on me and the development of BubbleShare, and despite being a founder of a photo sharing company, I still very much enjoy and respect Flickr as resource for many things. Its hard for me to believe that after all this time I've yet to run across Stewart on the circuit, the valley, or anywhere else (while he is Canadian, Flickr is on the other coast in Vancouver -- so no easy DemoCamp visits for him, esp. now that he's in the valley).

My other fellow North American speaker was none other than Michael Arrington (Mr. TechCrunch, of course)-- how I keep running into his 6 foot + frame in person conference after conference is beyond me. This is esp. true since I've REALLY cut back on the conference circuit, in fact, the last remote conference I went to was Mix06 in Las Vegas months ago -- which is EXACTLY when I last met Michael at our fateful lunch with Bill Gates (Thanks again Scoble!)

While in Taipei, I also found myself resonating well with the folks (yet another husband and wife team) at HemiDemi -- a Digg like news site for Taiwan. It was pretty surprising to me to hear how Yahoo! has pretty much taken over the Taiwan portal market, with Google being a distant 2nd player in the search specific space. PCHome is apparently the only close rival to Yahoo!'s dominance in the area. Another interesting item that I found was the dominance of, a social networking and photo sharing site that has something like 60-70% market penetration in the Taiwanese market. The pattern I started seeing is that there seems to be a very much winner takes all type scenarios that play out in many geographic regions (perhaps due to not just geographically initiated network effects, but significant and subtle culture/design issues). This level of market share reminds me of the dominance that CyWorld has in Korea (now translated/localized to China, Japan, and the US), and MySpace has in the US, and to a certain extent Friendster's continued hold in Canada.

I really want to write and study further the culture and social online habits of the East vs. the West -- there's a number of really neat things that I've learned after spending some more time here with the geeks and the entrepreneurs here, as well have having now paid more attention to the modern day usage patterns of the Chinese. If anyone has any resources that speak to these issues on line, please fire me a note!

Another interesting side note, and something that I felt that strangely brought me around full circle was that many of our earilest adopters were from Taipei (for whatever reason) -- they were also the ones that did the most innovative things with the very first version of BubbleShare. So in many ways, I felt my visit was a way to give back to that particular community that had such a great influence on us. I was happy to hear from many bloggers, such as this one in particular that thought I was the most interesting speaker of the day (which was honestly surprising to me as I thought both Stewart's and Michael's presentations were much more colorful/interesting than mine... but I'll take the compliment nonetheless ;).

Today will likely be one of my last days in Asia, and it had only occurred to me yesterday in talking to a friend and tech entrepreneur that I should have set up a meetup and perhaps kick off a DemoCampHK to meet the local community. If anyone happens to be reading this today, and is interested in connecting -- fire me an email, and perhaps we can find a time to gather up the local web community to have a drink in the SoHo area.

More photos and stories to follow....

Side note: Many thanks also goes out to George our translator/co-host and former taiwan-based VC/US graduate, and Shan - our great III lead host and organizer for the event.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

"Albert Lai... I hate that guy"

I don't know how I missed a entry titled "Albert Lai... I hate that guy =)" on my radar from Michael Corcoran blog, someone whom I haven't spoke to in ages (Hi Michael!).

But the article is NOT what you think it is.

So what's the purpose of this blog posting other than gloating about how people love to hate me?

Well, its (sorta) simple: why the heck do we STILL not yet have a good auto-notification engine for all notifying you of what others are saying about you (specifically you, not just people that mention your first and last name).

Sure Google has news alerts, and technorati kinda works for that(but doesn't alert via email, why, technorati, why?!)... but it would be so much better for folks with common first/last name combinations if they could have a search/name/alert engine that would be intelligently figure out if that personal is actually referring to YOU specifically. Perhaps by using attention trust and FOAF/social network type semantic information (i.e. scan your LinkedIn network to get a better understanding of who is likely to be referring to you)?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Way Over Due Album of MESH

I've been horrid about this blogging thing, so I'm going to try to make up for it by posting a super old album that I never got around to posting... this is a bunch of photos I took and played around with while at Mesh.


Thursday, June 01, 2006

An awesome resource for all you startup types...

For those of you that have been around the block a couple of times already, this is a great reference, for the noobs, its a gem.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

My panel at Mesh Conference

Thanks for taking and uploading the photos for me Tom!

Quote from Mesh Conference

Here's a great quote, the best quote from Mesh: "Niklas Zennström, the Roman Polanski of voice over IP..."

Some juicy photos to come...

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Fox/MySpace/MySpaceIM vs. AOL/AIMPages/AIM - Ironic or Prophetic of things to come?

Does anyone else see the irony of this?

MySpace launches a "AIMKiller" with its own MySpaceIM client (great, now I have to run MSN, AIM, YahooIM, ICQ, GTalk, Skype, and now MySpaceIM).

This is of course within 24hours of the launch of AOLPages, AIM's take on MySpace and the SNS scene.

My quick take: MySpaceIM is a great way to get more "screentime" off the web for Fox/MySpace -- leveraging their critical mass that already uses IM with yet another IM client taht fully intergrates is smart. Yes, its another stupid IM Network but from my perspective, I think its clever -- they will get traction because the MySpace kids already use 4 different IM clients, and are used to running multiple chat clients.

While AOLPages does have some neat features, its going to have a huge uphill battle. Its got some "hip" stuff, but its seems a bit too much "me too" and not enough distrputive innovations to take down something with as much momentum as MySpace. Its got some great features and technology, but I'm just not sure if leveraging AIM without something really compelling on the web is enough to get people to swtich. They also have a simlar look and feel as MySpace which means that they are unlikely to appeal to a broader target demographic than what MySpaceh as already.

The strategy AOLPages took was to "build more" and make things more "AJAXy" which is "cool" but perhaps not what I would have done. It doesn't FEEL any better or different than MySpace as its just as cluttered and hard to navigate. I like how they took advantage of a lot of drag and dropable elements for customization, but doesn't seem quite as clean/effective as TagWorld's implementation.

So in a nut shell, AOL is trying to "out hip" MySpace, but it doesn't feel like it -- and in some ways just feels more cumbersome. What I would have probably done instead is try to simplify the experieince. Rather than building more features to out-do MySpace, focus on doing a subset of what MySpace does (i.e. music, photos, or video), and make it better/simpilfied and providing a more elegant way fo doing one of those silos and make it really compelling and distrputive.

But its still early days, and it seems like they have a solid technical team there, and I'm sure things will improve. If they can keep evovling it I'm sure they still have a solid shot. Esp. if they are able to align themselves with some interesting partnership sand/or content.

What Fox seems to be doing to me is leveraging MySpace into more of a traditional portal with a social networking bent. First you have MySpace SNS, then MySpace Blogs, then MySpace Videos, and now MySpace IM... 'm sure you could dig up the portal metrix somewhere and just start couting down the rows to see what might be next. With their buyout of Ksolo don't be surprised if you see MySpace online karaoke.

At this rate, I am looking forward to my MSN Karaokay 2007 Live web service. Or the eBay bid-for-your-5 mins to sing along with Britney Spears Skype powered Karaokay (with with Podcast support)

Let the craziness begin.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Random thoughts on Mix06, WTF is WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation), the "Multimedia Web" and other stuff...

I've been pretty bad about this whole blogging thing. I'm finding that it really does take a big commitment to do. Lately I've been in a slump and haven't felt the passion or desire to write up anything new or insightful. Its probably all the traveling that's been stopping me from being able to slow down and reflect. I'm just not totally used to being on the road again 60%+ of the time.

Its also a struggle for me to figure out what type of "noise to signal" ratio that I want to achive with this blog. Or maybe it really doesn't matter, since I'm frankly mostly writing this for my own personal sake/sanity.

One thing that I discovered while researching some of the players in our space was PBase's Camera Database and Museum (PBase is a really cool, and long standing whom some might consider one of our "competitors", but frankly, I feel like we are really going after a very differenent audience). They have this great setup that is sort of like an IMDB for cameras. I can't help but think there's an awesome opportunity for a mashup to do a sort of a DPreview with a network of photo sites.

I know that as a fairly passionate digital camera user that the actual images shot with the cameras is pretty important to me, problem with most of these sites that enable you to pivot/search on specific cameras is that everyone has different skillsets. But its still interesting to see the number of users that have purchased and actively use specific cameras.

I know this is probably old news for most of you now, but I must say that I was impressed by many of the technologies that were in the MS pipeline that were shown at Mix06. WPF (windows presentation foundation) is absolutely a tech to track.

So WTF is WPF?

Here's a good tid-bit from Wikipedia:

The Windows Presentation Foundation (or WPF), formerly code named Avalon, is the graphical subsystem feature of Microsoft Windows. It will be included in Vista, the next version of the Microsoft Windows operating system. WPF is also available for installation on Windows XP SP2 and Windows Server 2003 SP1 as part of WinFX Runtime Components, a managed-code programming suite that extends the Microsoft .NET Framework. It provides a consistent programming model for building applications, whether they are installed on a system or are loaded into a web browser. It also enables richer control, design, and development of the visual aspects of Windows programs. It aims to unify a host of application services: user interface, 2D and 3D drawing, fixed and adaptive documents, vector graphics, raster graphics, animation, data binding, audio and video.

WPF/E is a subset of WPF, and stands for "Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere". It is basically a mobile version of WPF, based on XAML and Javascript. 3D features are not included, but XPS, vector-based drawing, and hardware acceleration, are.

Regardless of how it plays out, by the very nature that it's going to be closely tied to a major MS operating system, any developer that is going to be building something for consumer PCs should keep tabs on the technology. I keep seeing the North Face Demo over and over again with its 3D + video capacities and vector graphics, and everything else that I had already saw in Channel 9, but I am really looking forward to seeing something that goes beyond that. I thought photo triage was pretty cool, but that stuff should be more than a year old now. There must be some really cool stuff in the pipelines form some of the MS ISVs (or at least I hope so ;). WPF (windows presentation foundation) is clearly a powerful technology, and yes, being a Mac fan myself, I recognize a lot of the stuff is already available in OSX (but not all of it). However, 2007 will be an interesting year I think for many vendors (and users) as we start to see the emergence of what I would called the "Multimedia Web." I call it the multimedia web as a reference to the old school definition of the term -- because I remember when the word multimedia were used to describe things that were built for CD-ROMs using something like Macromedia Director or Hypercard/SuperCard/Authorware/whatever (but not so old school as to reference film based slide shows synced to audio -- i.e. BubbleShare zero point oh). At last the web is finally catching up and going far beyond the stuff stuff I remember doing in Macromind (now Macromedia) Director in 1994. The 3D stuff and "ajaxy" interactivity we'll see in UIs in the coming year with WPF and next-gen flash and Ajax apps I think will make for some interesting apps.

Again, I have to say that from what I saw in the demos between sparkle, the layout engine, and other smaller demos of WPF, I walked away impressed by the valiant effort that Microsoft is putting into building a platform on Vista to defend the desktop and in trying keeping the OS a very relevant piece of the puzzle. As an ISV(independent software vendor/developer) myself, I still tend to lean towards building web based applications simply for the bang/buck ratio. However, some of the things I saw with WPF seem to be really blurring the lines between web and desktop -- but only time will tell. Lets hope for Microsoft/future of PC (P)OSes that WPF/Avalon v1.0 doesn't end up like Macromedia's first attempt at creating a more robust UI/app development environment that was Flex (which IMHO, I think has a lot of potential, but just not "there yet").

Since I've been rather lazy about making my blog look pretty, here's a quick album of the Mix06 party that I meant to put up earlier. Scoble, these pix are for you (even though, well, you're not in any of the photos... and neither is bill). ;)

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Creating Addictive Experiences

BubbleShare: Photos from Funny Mix06 Photos

I know I've blogged about this before. But what I forgot to mention is that part of the motivation behind the BubbleCaption feature is to introduce more game play like elements into BubbleShare.

BubbleCaptions along with our new community voting system are just examples of how game design and game play is important to building interesting communities and consumer oriented web services. Both strive to build entertaining and addictive relationships with their users with the only difference being the maturity of each category.

I regret not being able to attend GDC this year, a conference that I try to attend regularly for the simple fact that some of the most creative and talented people in attend the conference (i.e. Will
Wright, who happens to be on front cover of Wired). But I hope to catch up on some of the presentations and news bits that have come out of it.

If anyone out there has any pointers on some neat newsbits, podcasts, or reports coming out from GDC (I know, its been a few weeks already), please let me know.

Lastly, of course, go try out BubbleCaptioning yourself, and tell a story with BubbleShare. Let me know if you find the "captioning" game to be as addictive for you as it was for me.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

My kudos to the Amazing Kris Tate of Zooomr (a so called 'competitor')

Why I love Web 2.0 - episode 1,015 »

For what its worth, I think Kris is amazing. I met him on various occasions, and I’m proud to say that I even had the opportunity to “sponsored” him to go to a couple of events (well, I sponsored one, and drove him to another since he didn’t own a car, and I had my rental).

Kris is arguably one of the most amazing people I’ve met (and umm.. i guess that’s actually means since its been well blogged now that I had lunch with BillG). You only THINK
he’s amazing because people have read about him. I met him. He is better than amazing. =)

However, what is important to point out is that while Zooomr has way more cool stuff than flickr in many ways, its important to note that Flickr had to pioneer a lof of the ground work that we take for granted. That’s not to say that’s its not amazing for Kris to pull of all that he has, regardless of age and resource. I want to make sure credit is given to the amazingly creative
Flickr team that trail blazed a lot of the concepts we take for granted today.

Its my hope that we’ll keep learning from each other’s ideas (I have Kris on my IM list) and keeping each other on our respective toes. Its great to see all the competition and innovation.
But at the end of the day, the “rivalry” I think is a healthy one — and I for one look forward to Kris’s further innovations. Kris is a great testament of how great software can be built by ONE person, and the benefit of “zero overhead” software development.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Ali G on Entrepreneurship

A fun way to waste 6 miniutes of your time that you'll neer get back again.

The upside however is you get to learn how to masterfully pitch your product with venn diagrams and google juice.

YouTube - Ali G Invents the Ice Cream Glove

Thursday, March 30, 2006

TWO Big Releases in ONE Day

Its a big day at the BubbleLabs today, we have 2 big product releases -- a desktop app and some brand new killer cool web features!

The uber-release includes such goodness as…

  • BubbleCaptions!
  • Brand new Desktop BubbleBar (Alpha): delivers your photos to your desktop in real time AND have access to your photos online AND offline by having a sync of all your received photos!
  • Improved Community: Now with VOTING and User Profile Page
  • AJAXy Transitions: cool new photo transitions!
  • Open-Open-Open (APIs): upload APIs now publically published, everything is RSS enabled, Apple iPod PhotoCast support, and even download all photoas a one big Zip file
  • Mobile Access: now you can (at LAST) upload photos directly from your cell phone!
  • Personal Profiles: Now you can display all your public photos to the world, here's mine

Here's my favorite album, created from my collection of photos from Mix06:

Monday, March 20, 2006

My Lunch with Bill Gates at Mix06

Thanks to Robert Scoble (as blogged about here), I had a great (free!) steak lunch today. Even better, I was joined by some very smart company, including Michael Arrington, Lynda Weinman, and of course, Bill Gates.

I'm still at the Mix06 conference between sessions... so I have to make this quick (I don't know how Robert Scoble and Michael Arrington attend a conference and still blog so damn much and so damn quickly!).

While Michael asked if these were regular events (having lunch with Bill), he was told that it was NOT. I was more interested in finding out if the steak lunches were regular events at Microsoft, because if so, we're happy to join the empire. ;) (FYI: I was told that steak lunches also aren’t a regular event at MSFT... oh well, I guess it'd be unhealthy and boring to eat steak everyday anyways)

Some of the more interesting items that we talked about over lunch included the time and effort required to blog. Like myself, Bill doesn't like the idea of having a ghost written blog. I suggested doing more of a photo based blog that utilized quick audio snippets (i.e. a BubbleShare album). It brought him to talk about Microsoft's earlier foray into the photo arena that has had a great deal of influence on what we've been working on, which is PhotoStory. He admitted that its something that they took a leadership position in early on, but didn't do anything with it. MS Photo Story is free, but being a downloadable app, obviously has its disadvantages -- it also has a bit of an awkward interface, but the output is really great -- esp. given how quickly you could put something together once you learn it and get it up and running. My problem is that it only seems to output .WMV -- which makes it hard to get it "published" (make it publicly hosted) and/or shared (make it privately shared).

He also spoke in length about the gap between static photos and full motion video. Something we also felt pretty strongly about. This void/gap is I think much bigger and important than most people think. There are some amazing things that you can do with video that you can’t do with photos, but the challenge with video is that editing is very difficult, so is sometimes distribution. Whereas static photos are easily movable and sharable, but on their own, lacks a personal feel that video has with voice and motion. I call the space in between video and photos “cinematic photo experiences” – cinematic as in adding audio and “motion” (i.e. creative/specific transitions) between photos.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Attention Trust / SearchSIG

I'm sitting next to Mary here at the attention trust / search SIG, the first "non-direct work related" semi-personal interest even that I've atteded this month.

A lot of the discussions thats been happening has been aroudn tracking personal usage patterns and owership of that content.

What it all reminds me of is an HBS book "Net Gain: expanding markets though virtual commutnies" that I picked up in the late 90s around aggregated online communites and its impact on commerce.

All this talk around community, personal demographic data control, and commerical incentives really hits home as being surprising Web1.0 like.

I'm in the bay area for one more day... if anyone is intersting in getting together for dinner tommrow with me and a few other folks drop me a line here or via email.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Why Will Wright Rocks, Radical Game Design, and Addictive User Experiences (or: Why "Web2.0" geeks should pay attention to game designers)

Wil Wright has been a HUGE influence in my way of thinking about building software and design in general. Will was the creator of SimCity (which was one of the first games I remember buying with my own money, the packaging was great, i still remember playing it in black and white on my 286 clone).

I read about spore a while back, and found this video. The talent and creativity of Will Wright (creator of games like SimCity, SimEarth, The Sims, and now Spore) never ceases to amaze and inspire me. For those of you that are in software or user experience design, I would strongly encourage you seek out the works, words, and talks of Will Wright. There is a ton as so called web2.0 developers/designers that we can learn from the game design community, a community that focus not just on ease of use, but creating ADDICTIVE user experiences.

Here's the video: Spore Gameplay Video - Google Video

(Side note: I am starting to love Performancing as a blogging tool. Which explains the rapid increase in my blogging frequency.)

Monday, March 06, 2006

MIT Technology Review'd

Wade at MIT Technology Review blog has done a great review of BubbleShare. I love the magazine, so I'm trilled to have had been "TechReview'd".

Here's few quick quote snippets ...

The Impact of Emerging Technologies: Building a Narrated Slide Show on the Web
Building a BubbleShare slide show couldn't be easier [...]I can imagine all sorts of uses for a service like BubbleShare... if you
were a teacher or professor who had to quickly put together a
distance-learning lecture, you could convert your Powerpoint slides
into JPGs and upload them to BubbleShare
[...]it could be one of those rare tech startups that gets acquired even before its beta testing is over.

"Martha Stewart" Meets BubbleShare -- Cool Recipe on BubbleShare

This is a cool great use of BubbleShare -- a BubbleShared Recipe with Voice of Course! =) » Blog Archive » That’s Posole!

Dogster made me their bitch...

They truly made a great presentation at IBD Networks Under the Radar event and won best presentation award in our category. These guys deserve it, and I give them kudos for everything they’ve done. I agree with the panelists, they are probably have one of the best, if not the best implementation of a social network around – and they are monetizing it very effectively.

I was having dinner today with Kevin from TailRank with a few other folks, and must give credit to Kevin for my blog title. Kevin is getting some great traction on the TailRank site, and should give memorandom a good run for their money. On the flip side, Gabe @ memorandom has done an amazing job with it... and really has come close to taking over as a daily read for me as a replacement for slashdot! If you haven't seen either one of those services yet, do so... I'm too tired to link them right now, maybe I will when i get back into a blogging mood. Got 12 meetings in the next 48 hours. This is going to be interesting. Must get my sub 6 hours of sleep. Now.

Side note: in our defense, what I didn't do a good job of articulating in our presentation, that I really should have put more emphasis on was.... damnit, people, we're not trying to get people to swtich from Flickr. We're not "a magnitude" or even close to that better than flickr. We're different!!! We're interested in first time photo sharing users... and providing the best damn digital photo sharing experience with the ability to help users tell their stories, with the simplist way possible. Just as Flickr will have a difficult time appealing to my mom (who does not blog, care for groups, tags, or other things), BubbleShare will have a difficult time providing the latest uber-geek features that Flickr have for teh blogspheare.

Okay, now that's off my chest. I can really sleep. =)

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Valley vs. Toronto

Having spent a good chunk of time now in the valley this week, what’s funny to me is that the energy here reminds me of Toronto vs. the other way around. Whereas before during TorCamp, I felt the energy of the valley (when I spent a ton of time there between 2000-2002) in Toronto -- and reminded me a great deal of what it was like there during my time in the bay area... this time around, everything happening here feels like home.

Yes, the scale of things here are larger -- due to tech/capital density and other factors, but whats really interesting is that I often feel that there's just as much passion amongst the Toronto crowd as there is in the valley crowd here. However, the one thing I would challenge my local startup companions to do remains the same: Think Big(ger).

I got a chance to speak with quite a few former Canadian tech heads... it was amazing how many of us where down there, and how many I discover were from north of the border. One common thing I noticed about these folks was that they felt the same way about the Canadian startup attitude (thinking big, but only moderatly big) vs. the Valley attitude (don't think big, think BIGGEST)

So it got me thinking. Despite the technical talent that we have in Toronto, do we have a disproportion amount of tech-innovation and tech-wealth because of (a) economic factors (i.e. lack of capital, tax structure); (b) cultural factors (i.e. lack of ambitions or role models to inspire success); or (c) talent/experiential factors (i.e. lack of serial entrepreneurs, lack of mentors, lack of deep tech-marketing and tech-sales talent).

One more theory I have is perhaps its "(d)": we have a lack of graduate technical talent that are given sufficient resources. I'd argue that while we have a great deal of technical undergraduate talent coming form Waterloo and UofT, there's insufficient proportionate support for their graduate research programs as compared to say some of more well financed US based technical academic research labs.

Understanding Why Live Demos with Wifi Can Suck @ Under the Radar

So, this is going to be my first blog posting since my last 4 days in the valley. I can't remember the last time I did as many meetings as I have done in the past 4 days. In fact, I think I've done more meetings in the past 4 days than I have done in the past 4 months by quite a long shot.

Some investor pitches, some general biz dev, some media... its been an interesting week. It was a blast also because I got to hang out and learn from Alec all week as the "two Canadian startup guys in the valley." Also got to attend and present at the IBDNetwork's Under the Radar event, which was FANTASTIC... I only wish it ran longer, as there were a ton of people I wanted to talk to but didn't get a chance to.

What was REALLY interesting was how completely FUBAR I felt when for the 8 mins out of the entire day that I was on stage at IBDNetwork's Under the Radar event, that my system decides to no connect or cooperate with our servers. As I demo'ed our upload/login process, an error message popped up that I had NEVER seen before in my life. I tried again, on stage, and once again it gave me the same strange reply. While on stage, I thought perhaps that our TechCrunch article in the morning was messing with our servers, and we were overloaded -- but upon further inspection, that was unlikely the case. After talking to some fellow presenters, the only conclusion I could come to was the fact that the wireless connection was flakely.

What's REALLY frustrating about the whole ordeal was the fact that I had tested the entire process just miniutes prior to my demo. Of course, as always, its only when you do it LIVE in front of an audience that your tech chooses to fail. =)

Thankfully, I was able to somehow manage to log into the system again after a 3rd try, and was able recover due to some (IMHO) super cool tech and demos that we had just recently launched. Thanks to our fantastic development team, there were gimmers of genius in the demo, which really showed off our creativity and passion for our product -- dispite the technological hickup.

So whats the lesson learned? Get a wired net connection if you can. Wireless in a demo enviorment, esp. where you have dozens and dozens of users connected to a single AP can be pretty dangerous.

Monday, February 27, 2006

We're NOT BETTER than Flickr. We're JUST DIFFERENT. (AKA: Repost of Stuff I wrote on Scoble's Comment Box...)

Its 5:30AM, and I'm strangely still up, and hacking away... because : (1) for some reason i can't sleep, (2) i've still gotta finish packing for my trip to the bay area (btw, if anyone would like to connect, I'm thinking of setting up a small ad hoc geek dinner...), (3) i'm insane (as as a result also took the bait on one of the comments below). The good thing is that I get to sleep on the flight down to SFO. So I guess I'll make up for the sleep then. If i don't get to blog again, I look forward to seeing some of you at the IBD Network Under the Radar event!

Here's the comment thread form this kind posting from Robert Scoble's Blog:


  1. this is a killer app. Bubbleshare is kewl..!!

    Comment by /pd — February 26, 2006 @ 11:47 am | Edit This

  2. We’re not better than Flickr. I think Flickr rocks.

    We’re just different. I’d like to think we’re more like a “Flickr for Mums.” =)

    Comment by Albert Lai — February 26, 2006 @ 11:49 am | Edit This

  3. If you want to see the Children’s album directly, just go here:

    Comment by Albert Lai — February 26, 2006 @ 12:01 pm | Edit This

  4. but can’t you do the same with Microsoft Photo Story? Then you can upload it to Just playing devils advocate.

    Comment by Richard j Smith — February 26, 2006 @ 1:30 pm | Edit This

  5. Microsoft Photo Story is super cool (IMHO: if you can look pass some of the interface issues). But its gone tons of great little features, and yes, its also free. =)

    But then again:
    (1) you’d have to download photo story
    (2) install it
    (3) run it, learn the UI, render the .WMV, and then
    (4) find a way to host it, and then
    (5) notify your friends of it somehow, after you’ve hosted it somewhere

    Vs. BubbleShare:
    (0) no registration required

    (1) upload photos directly from the front page (and add voice captions directly via the web)

    (2) forward the link we sent into your email box to friends (taking advantage of course, your email address book)

    BTW: we also support multi-file batch uploads via Flash8 uploading for FireFox and Mac users, and ActiveX with Windows

    Comment by Albert Lai — February 26, 2006 @ 2:06 pm | Edit This

  6. Don’t forget though, that you can use rss enclosures and make it downloadable via a podcatcher and people can see it on their Pocket Pc or other portable device.

    Comment by Richard j Smith — February 26, 2006 @ 4:35 pm | Edit This

  7. What’s so cool about that? A sound on a page? But that doesn’t make an app a killer app. IMHO it’s really just a bubble…

    Comment by BigMac — February 27, 2006 @ 12:58 am | Edit This

  8. (yep, I’m too “passionate” for my own good i think…
    i’m taking gonna take the bait… ;)


    A laptop hard drive that stores and plays music, what’s so cool about that? (ipod)

    A website that allow you to buy music, what’s so cool about that? (itunes)

    A program that lets you use your computer like a telephone to talk to friends for free, whats so cool about that? (skype)

    Before the Ipod was the Nomad. Before iTunes there were napster/real/emusic, etc. Before Skype there was DialPad, etc. (I recognized there is a difference in tech between some of the examples)

    There’s no way I’m going to even PRETEND that BubbleShare is half as cool as those revolutionary technologies. But what I will say is that, what makes those innovations cool — and what makes BubbleShare, IMHO, “cool” — is..


    We didn’t set out to build BubbleShare to have the coolest technology around, and use every AJAX enabled special FX under the sun. It was about solving a problem. My mom and others like her had problems sharing photos with her family and friends. Existing solutions were confusing and frustrating for novices, with a variety of limitations due to a number of different reasons (business model, demographic/focus, etc.).

    BubbleShare is all about providing a great user experience for those that are frustrated or simply can’t fully grasp existing more complex solutions. First and foremost, we’re hoping that computer novices, a category that dominates the majority of the internet population, can use BubbleShare to create, personalize and share their stories & digital assets as transparently and easily as possible.

    FWIW, i dunno if we have a killer app (heck, I’d say we’re far from it… well, at least with what’s public today ;) .. but I’m happy to know that everyday we have folks telling us how much happier they are with the BubbleShare user experience than anything else they’ve used before.

    Comment by Albert Lai — February 27, 2006 @ 2:36 am | Edit This

Friday, February 24, 2006

Some quick pix of Stowe's meet up in Toronto

CLICK on the PHOTO to see in LARGE!

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Sorry about the crappy treo650 camera quality. =( If someone at Palm wants to send me at 700, please feel free. ;) Or umm.. the Nokia N90 would be nice too. =)

Energy & Vibe of Toronto & Back from YAM (Yet Another Meetup) - with Stowe & Reply to Rick Segal about TechCrunch5

In response to a posting from Rick Segal, I made the following comment which I'll repost here:

Mark, Rick, All,

Sounds like a killer party, wish I could have made it.

But check this out:

WITHOUT free beer.

WITHOUT being techcrunched.

WITHOUT 10x the tech dev population.

WITHOUT 100x the tech venture capital.

WITHOUT naked men running around. (okay, that one is out of place ;)

That are all representative of the bay area and the killer techcrunch (that I regret missing out on).

We had ~100 people show up to the DemoCamp 3.0, when we (me and David Crow) started/hosted 1.0 at the BubbleLabs (makers of, of course, ;) in December as a spin off of David's TorCamp we had 30 people. At 2.0 in Feb, we had ~60.

(in response to:) Sand Hill Slave: Unlike 1999, us poor Canadian software startups that host these "parties,” we don't offer crap -- except good company (in the form of demos from passionate developers and entrepreneurs). What is like 1999 though, is that there are a lot of people that are coming out of the woodwork and taking risk in doing innovative things and neat things -- some for the money, some for the vision/fun, some for both. (I like to think that I fall into the last camp/category :)

I just came back from an ad hoc meetup, having drinks and dinner with Stowe who was visiting, with Michael O'Connor Clarke playing host at a local downtown pub. With just 2 days notice, we had something like 20+ people show up. It was great. The energy in Toronto is almost comparable to the valley during my days there in 2000. Mike A./Slave/Scoble/whomever: if you're looking for pure developer-energy/passion, not just money (because that is one spot where Canada is still greatly lacking--sufficient, true, venture capital), outside of the Bay Area... Toronto is doing pretty well relative to its very very small tech pool.

The community events that are popping up, the camps/parties/whatever, are a nice sign of good moral and passion – a great leading indicator, IMHO, of risk taking and innovation. This in turn, and I would expect, to lead to great economic growth for the region.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

YouTube == Napster of the late 90s?

From Om:
It reminded me of my post from last month -
Google, You Tube and Dark Side of Online Video. I had raised concerns about this then, and only this past week, I saw that NBC was issuing a cease and desist to You Tube over a SNL clip. You Tube (and Google) can hide behind DMCA to some extent, but in the end as one commenter on my previous post had said - this is no different than Napster. Listings (and hosting) of other people’s content can and will always get you in trouble.

My 2 cents:

If anyone figures out what the biz model of YouTube is beyond monetizing traffic resulting from sharing copy written video content, please let me know. ;)

While I think micro-content in video format, copyright or not, are going to stay around... no matter if YouTube or its siblings get shut down. The more interesting thing I think will be a content discovery and delivery service.

Just as the ORIGNAL Napster, and iTunes helped me discovery new content -- cheaply and effecitvely (and in iTunes, a real way of monetizing it). The really compelling thing to a user will be having a system that can help me identify what I'd be interested in (i.e think Tivo), and deliver it to me (i.e. fireant, ipod, etc.)


So I've been to a bunch of founder/CEO type events.

One thing I've always felt that was lacking is something that was specific to the software startup industry... esp. in Toronto. Back in the day, when I was in the valley, there were always interesting events where I could bounce things off of software entreprenures. Heck, it seemed like all I had to do was show up at any random Starbucks in San Francisco, pick any random three people, and I could have an ad hoc advisory board meeting/focus group. ;)

But what occured to me today at DemoCamp 3.0 was that we could really use something like a cross between a CEO roundtable event that I'm a part of via ACETech (an organization of tech CEOs across Canada that was started out in BC - a little TOO big company/late-stage than I'd like), and the CEO Fusion Center (run by Cindy Gordon, a respected author and consultant in Toronto that runs a consulting pratice called Helix commerce -- CEO Fusion Center is not focused enough on software than I'd like).

Really, all I'd want to do is have a small meeting of like-minded early stage AND software focused founders/entreprenrues /executive-janitors that I could chat. In some cases, I could even see how I could lend some useful advice. More often than not, I think it would be a great way to vent and learn from others. Like I did today at my own little table the the after party at DemoCamp.

Heck, I'll kick it off and hosted it at my offices. I'll pick a date at a later time. There doesn't even need to be an agenda or anything. I've come to chat and get to know with some of one of the Nuvvo guys that are in a simlar stage to quite a few companies that I know, I've know Liela from Idee Inc. for a bit now, and Sutha from AmbientVector for quite sometime. There's some earlier stage guys as well, that have one to two people operations doing things for the first time that I'm sure would benefit somewhat from what we have to discuss and perhaps learn from some of our growing pains. But the idea is to keep the gathering light weight, free/low-cost, and open -- but still be exclusive enough so you don't have service providers showing up to try to pitch founders.

The focus of these "events" would be more about the BUSINESS of software, i.e. things like sales, strategy, financing, HR, etc.

Anyways, if anyone is interesting in helping out... or getting together at our offices for a pizza or something to chat and do an informal "FounderCamp" thing let me know.

As an side note, this is not meant as an altnerative to the idea of MoneyCamp, which is a pitching platform (and sorta a variation of HyperCamp) to get entreprenures and companies out in front of VCs (which I guess in itself is more of an alternative to something like the TAG -- Toronto Angel Group). But rather, its by software company founders, for software company founders.

I'll host something in March, I'll be up front, I'm not willing to do much work other than to provide a meeting spot and offer some drinks and/or food. This is meant to be superlight weight.

Just add a comment below if you are interested. If we get too many folks (I don't know what that number will be), we might have to cut it off or filter (and since its my party/experiment, and I'm footing the rent/drinks/snacks bill, I get to bias towards companies that are more like ours -- early stage, post-seed funding, product oriented, creative/innovative, etc.) ... I dunno, but feedback would be good.

DemoCamp 3.0

It past midnight, and I just got back from DemoCamp 3.0 after-party/dinner.

Actually, a big part of the night was spent in a car talking to David Crow for an hour in the freezing cold... hah! Why am I blogging past midnight? I dunno... just feeling the grove I guess.

When we first started DemoCamp 1.0, as a spin-off of TorCamp (which was of course a spin off of BarCamp, which is a sorta/kinda spinoff of FooCamp), we had 25-30 people show up and we have 4 fun demos.

DemoCamp 2.0 which happened within 2 months of 1.0, had something in the order of 60 people, now at 3.0 just within about a month of 2.0, we had upwards of what might have been 100 attendees!

The great thing about DemoCamp for me, is that its all volunteer run. David Crow has done a great job of getting things rolling, and keeping the grass roots "participants only"/community driven elements great.

Joey and Elliot at Tucows was kind enough to offered to host the event -- and was also quite surprised at the turn out it seems -- having had to change venues three times inside the office to accommodate so many people. If DemoCamp keeps growing, I'm not sure if we're going to find a viable venue. I also talked to someone and brainstormed about the idea of breaking things into two tracks. But then I thought, that would be a bit "heavy" and would start to resemble something more like TorCamp (2.0)

Anyways, its great to see so much vibrancy in the Toronto software developer community. Its been a long time since I've seen so many of us gather together. Having spent a good deal of time in the valley, I have noticed that there is still a real difference between what we see in Toronto/Canada and the Bay Area. The software developers in Toronto all seem to lack the level of marketing/market savyness that I see in valley based companies/ventures/projects.

I met and found a TON of interesting project in Toronto tonight, that I thought, if it were given just the slightest tweaks, and refinements -- and perhaps some strategic help and financing, they would be a magnitude more compelling as companies/ventures. I wonder if its a disconnect thing where the marketers aren't talking to the technology people, or if its because the developer folk in the Bay Area tend to be naturally trained or by osmosis, to be more market driven (vs. tech driven) and market savvy.

Maybe its just an illusion. Perhaps its just that the Bay Area has more critical mass, so there tends to be more success stories, or innovative market driven tech stories that come out from the area.

Anyhow, it was very refreshing to get this feeling of resurgence in new ideas and products that are coming on to the market. Perhaps the thing we need is to facilitate and help connect the more market savvy founders in the area to more tech savvy founders to help each other out. In fact, I think facilitated two transactions/introductions today that may have a positive impact for two different organizations just tonight. But perhaps we need more structures/focus events around this issue. I'll make another posting about a rough idea I've had in my next blog.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Daily Show on MySpace ad the Social Networking Thing...

Oh, this is too funny.

Great commentary on youth & social networking sites from the Daily Show.

Here's another interesting commentary: does google have permission to use ANY of these copywritten clips? =)

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The State of Canadian Tech/Innovation Culture & Startups

Below is a a quick cross posting of a comment I left for Mark Evans on his blog entry on his write up about Alec's new company... for some reason on this Saturday afternoon, I just felt compelled to chime in with my 2 cents on the state of startup culture in Canada.

What’s truly weird for me is that I've come to realize that I've been in this industry (with 100% of the time being a "tech entrepreneur") for well over 10 years. Its a pretty startling thought for me for some reason. Perhaps I'm worried I'll be saddled with experience, and lose my creative edge and drive. Frankly, I'm not sure how much more creative or better I am with coming up with new ideas now than 10 years ago with a lot less experience (..but I'm pretty sure I am a few magnitudes better translating an idea into a viable business).

Hrmm.. or maybe its just mid-tech-life crisis coming on early for me. ;)

Anyhow, here's my 2 cents on startup-life / innovation-culture in Canada...

by Albert on Sat 11 Feb 2006 03:00 PM EST | Permanent Link

Your right, Alec is kickin' ass -- and I agree, even with the dramatically lowered cost of starting something up, we're still seeing little in the way of new innovative ventures in Canada that are pushing the edge. But I think this time around, we'll do a bit better -- access to global talent and capital is easier in this era than before IMHO, all we need is to have folks step it up. The culture IS slowly changing I think. Waterloo is still no Stanford when it comes to migrating top technical talent into REAL VENTURES (per capita) -- even as they produce some of the best technical minds in the world.

But my guess is that Canada is going to be a relatively more innovative in the next decade (2006-2016) than the last decade that I've experienced working here as being paid to "build things technology" (1996-2006).

And, as you may recall from April 2000 when I first showed up publicly on your editorial radar at the Globe, me and the team (made up of mostly serial tech entrepreneurs) at BubbleShare are not risk adverse and enjoy stirring stuff up. ;)

The most important thing we can do here is just lead by example and keep stirring things up to help cultivate a culture and awareness of entrepreneurialism. I think between guys like Alec on the startup side, Rick Segal on the funding side, and David with things like TorCamp on the grass roots developer side -- things will really start picking up over the next few years.

Friday, February 10, 2006

New Release on BubbleShare

Major release on BubbleShare today. Still a few bugs to iron out, but I hope to hear everyone's feedback. We took all the suggestions over the past few months and tried to take as much of it as possible and put it into our first major release since launch (well, officially, this is our "3rd release" in the past 3-4 months).

Hope some of you guys will like it... more details to come. Been pretty bad at this blogging thing. Just been crazy busy, and can't remember the last time I left the office before midnight. But all the hard work I from the team and the what I try to do for them seems to be paying off nicely in this new release!

Enjoy and let us know what you think (please email feedback (at) BubbleShare (dot) com).

Monday, February 06, 2006

Quoted quoting the real brains behind blogging on The Globe and Mail

I've been quoted in The Globe and Mail.

After working till 4:00AM on a Sunday, mostly to catch up with last week's work, I just don't think I can't think of a ton to add to the conversation that was started with that piece. I know I'm not alone burning the midnight oil as I'm sure many of my fellow entrepreneurs are doing the same, as its the weekend prior to the main event that is Demo 2006 (we didn't make the application deadline... sigh.) Then again being a bootstrap -- tens of thousands of dollars to demo at a conference is pretty steep -- esp. given our non existent marketing budge.

Here's a bit more I wish I could have added to the article: (1) blog early, blog often -- and (2) read the Cluetrain Manifesto. Much of what I was quoted on I can't take much credit for, much of what I said was figured out way before I had even heard of the "blog" word word by Doc, Chris, and David the real blogging gurus.

Coincidentally, I'm proud to say that I've met two of the authors (Doc and David) in person (both separately) and have spent a decent amount of time with each talking about what we've been up to at BS. I'm looking forward to reading more of what Robert Scoble and Shel Israel have written in their recent offering and see how they are "extending the conversation" around the evolving role of blogging and "peer-to-peer content creation."

Hopefully those that are using BubbleShare see what we're doing as a positive contributor to enabling regular people to become "peer-to-peer content creators." If a picture really is worth a thousand words, then our BubbleShare pictures with their associated audio and text captions should have contributed a few essays worth the googlesphear/blogosphear.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Chipmunks, the Matrix and PodCasting

So here I am, 1:43AM, still haven't had dinner yet, but having a blast. I'm listening to this podcast in the background of a Churchill Club event.

The REALLY weird that that happened was that I thought the podcast was a voice synthesized version of the text -- since everyone sounded like a Singing Chipmunk. But then as I listened, I realized it actually just the podcast that's been SUPER accelerated (probably 2x). Perhaps its a bug in the flash player.

Either way, I thought this "bug" is an awesome feature. I love it, because here I am experiencing this panel that I missed in the Valley, an even that I usually go to, and pay money for, and I'm in Toronto listening to it in 2x of real time. It does take more focus to listen to it, esp. since Guy Kawasaki is already a fast speaker. But its awesome to be able to "place shift," "time shift," and "accelerate reality."

The other interesting thing about this is that I would never enjoy watching a movie in 2x real time, but to listen to an audio clip in 2x real time is great (I'm guessing this is 2x real time, I have no idea, but it sounds like it).

I wish there was a tool that would allow me to jog-dial in how fast I want to accelerate the audio. The other thing I'd love to learn about are what are the human limits on how fast you can process audio information. As well, I wonder if it makes sense to lower to tone of the audio so that the people just sound like they are speaking quickly, without sounding like a chipmunk.

Monday, January 30, 2006

BubbleShare Contest

I discovered first hand how painful it is to deal with a hard drive crash AND trying to get a contest going at the same time. Its umm.. not recommended.

But that's a story for another time.

We've been hard at work getting our first contest up and running... this is "part 1 of 2" of our little contest where we'll be giving away a bunch of stuff, including an iPod, DVD (a great movie), tshirts, gum, books, and a bunch of other fun stuff.

The best excuse we could find for giving away free stuff was that we found out it was Bubblewrap appreciation day today. So, here's the BubbleShare bubblewrap contest for your viewing/participating pleasure.

A big thank you to our sponsors and friends at: Tucows, Naked Conversations, LockerGnome, Red Flag Deals, and ElimiTaste.

"Part 2 of 2" of the contest will follow... stay tuned. =)

Open House at Linden Labs!

Its been too long since my last blog. My last visit to the Bay Area brought me to Linden Labs, the makers of SecondLife -- who are doing some AMAZING things. Philip (CEO/Linden) and Reuben (Marketing/Liden) are crazy smart people, and I had a chance to speak to them both about what they've been up and and are doing with their virtual world.

I had a great follow up conversation with Philip, whose is not just smart, but is a super nice guy to boot, who gave us some great advice. In return, I'd like to extend a HUGE recommendation to my friends that are looking to try something new to consider working with Linden. If you're brilliant, and for whatever reason are not working with us already (or want to be in the Bay Area) got give them a ping!

Anyhow, for those of you that are looking for a super cool enviorment to work in the Bay Area, or are curious about Linden Labs, they are having a open house. I've attached a invite below -- if you're interested in attending, just RSVP via the email below -- and if you happen to be someone I know, let them know that Albert sent you. =)

Second Life Engineering Open House


On January 30, 2006, the development team of Linden Lab will host a wine bar and presentation about the design, development, and future challenges of Second Life. If you have senior engineering, technical operations, or product development experience, you may want to consider attending. This will be a very interesting and entertaining look at a pretty incredible technology - the simulation, streaming, and distributed computing architecture of a rapidly growing open-ended 3D on line world hosted on over 1,500 servers, used by over 100,000 people, and already generating more than $40M in annual revenues for the people creating goods and services there. Get an early look at the little company that is going to change everyone's world. We'll be providing wine and some light food. Bring your brain. The event is invite-only, if you are interested in attending RSVP to
(Yes, it saids invite-only, but but feel free to ping Elisabeth, if you're smart and curious, they want to hear from you)

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Heading off to Bay Area, anyone interesting in connecting?

I'll be in the Bay Area/SFO uber-early monday morning. If anyone is interesting in connecting there, or at MacWorld (where I'll be briefly) please let me know. I'll also be meeting Mr. TechCrunch who has turned our "meeting" for me to buy him a beer into a "meetup" (with what looks to be attended by a disproproate number of Canadians).

Drop me a line if you're going to be in the bay area and want to meet up.

Just wrapping up at CES and CESCamp... Request for CESCamp photos

Trying to do CES while trying to host/organize CESCamp certainly can test the human limits as to how much sleep a human can live off of. =)

Thank you all for attending CESCamp it was great meeting you all in person after all those email and electronic exchanges, we had a bigger turn out on our last two days than I had expected... which is great.

I lost my camera while at CES, so if anyone has any photos of CESCamp, please upload your high rez pictures to me via this link here (uploads to bubbleshare admin album, so i can get the high rez in a nice little zip via this hack here.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Trademarking the Commons

This rumor -- or maybe inkling is a better word – that someone has a desire to trademark barcamp is unsettling. Especially to those of us who like to create things and exchange ideas with our peers – even our competitors -- to see what the next person might make of them.

There's a lot of acreage between careful brand building and 'giving away the farm. Of course we need to build smart businesses that support the teams and individuals who make them go. At the same time, we have to contribute meaningful creations that move the whole industry forward. Things like Barcamp and Torcamp and CESCamp don't 'belong' to anyone. That’s why they work. As business owners, we can help organize them, sponsor them, encourage them, support them, attend them -- but trademark them? Yikes, that seems counterproductive to say the least.