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.