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Shawn’s day

Shawn has been blogging about his recovery from heart surgery. From his latest post on how he currently spends a typical day:

“Once past the self-pity phase, I usually eat breakfast and surf the web for a while, wondering how I could become so quickly bored by the largest collection of knowledge in human history.”

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Solar crossing

The Swiss catamaran Sun21 has become the first motorized boat to cross the Atlantic using no fuel (it’s solar powered).

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Open Source vs. Open APIs

When I helped start the Yahoo Developer Network, part of my job was to go around to all the product teams inside Yahoo and convince them that it would be good for their business to open up free web APIs. The response among technical folks was pretty universally enthusiastic. It’s just one of those ideas that make great sense to an engineer. Among business folks, the response was more mixed. They would bring up a pretty predictable series of concerns. Will it cannibalize my business? How will we prevent abuse? Do we have to go first? And the unspoken concern – how will this affect my job?

Another issue that came up – one that caught me by surprise – is that some people thought open APIs and open source were somehow the same thing. As in “if we open an API does that mean we will open source our software?”. Umm, no. Both open source and open APIs have to do with technology and both have the word “open” in them, that’s pretty much where the similarities end. Yet it kept coming up. For example, when Yahoo announced an open API for Yahoo Mail someone wrote a big article on how Yahoo was open sourcing Yahoo Mail (the story has since vanished, I could only find this Digg link to it).

To help clarify open source vs. open APIs, here’s a quick overview of each:

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Abandoned amusement park

I’m loving this series of pictures of nature reclaiming an abandoned amusement park (I think it’s in Japan).

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In La Paz

The Automattic gang is spending the week in Mexico for our bi-annual company get-together. Would you buy a blog from these guys?

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Matt, Mike, Barry, Andy, Matt (hidden), Lloyd and Mark roaming the streets of Todos Santos. We’re staying at a bed and breakfast in La Paz, wifi is good, Arrachera is delicious and Wii tennis is the game of choice (Matt’s loving his new ultimate wii tennis champion title).

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5 things

Narendra tagged me to share 5 things about myself that few people know:

  1. When I was 10, my dream was to become a boat designer.
  2. When I was 13, I was asked to be in a TV commercial for a Swiss chocolate maker (Milka). I chickened out and didn’t do it.
  3. My first job during high school was as a garbage man, my second job as a radio DJ (I used to get fan mail…).
  4. I was a truck driver, then an ambulance driver in the Swiss army.
  5. I played varsity tennis for SBCC (go Vaqueros! 🙂 )

I’m tagging: Jeremy, Mark, Andy, VCMike, Donncha

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So I signed up for PayPerPost

After all the hoopla about PayPerPost, I wanted to form my own opinion. I opened an account, scanned their offers from advertisers and picked one more or less at random. It was from a site called WeddingStrategies. They offered me $10 for writing a blog post about them with at least 300 words. Their instructions included “title needs to include keyword wedding or weddings, PR3 please, no business blogs, no mention of PayPerPost.” That last bit certainly was revealing. I then went to Technorati and searched for WeddingStrategies and found that several bloggers had written about them in the last couple of days. None of them disclosed that they got paid to write the post, which is obviously unethical. Interestingly, the posts sound somewhat artificial, more like an infomercial than a blog post.

PayPerPost is actually not a completely horrible idea. If a blogger I respect recommends a book, and they make money if I click through and buy that book on Amazon, I’m fine with that. PayPerPost takes that idea and pushes it way over the line, turning bloggers into spammers in the process. That’s bad news, but I’d be surprised if it ends up having a big impact on the blogosphere, because without clear disclosure rules, the model is so obviously flawed that I’d be shocked if any reputable bloggers or advertisers embraced it.

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A new addition

We’ve got a new addition to the Schneider family:

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His name is Pepper and he is 10 weeks old 🙂

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Approver.com

Jeffrey McManus just announced a new product called Approver.com. Jeffrey and I used to work together at Yahoo on the Yahoo Developer Network where he did an excellent job building the original team of YDN evangelists and community managers. Approver looks like a highly useful web service that handles document approval workflow for teams (a simple, web-based way of avoiding the endless email threads with people asking you to review documents and send them around the rest of the team).

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FOO

I had a fabulous time at FOO camp this weekend. What a great event for getting the creative juices going. Among lots of interesting projects, a few that stood out to me: the Chumby was previewed at the camp and sure looks like it will be a hit. Aside from a great name (a chummy gumby?) and great logo/design (by Susan Kare, I believe), the device empowers its users to really make it their own – both hardware and software. In a time of proprietary iPod’s and locked down cell phones, the Chumby is a breath of fresh air. Another product that impressed me is Dabble DB, a web-based database/spreadsheet app. While not brand new, I saw it for the first time when Avi, one of its creators, gave me a demo. I loaded Automattic’s Paypal data into Dabble DB and was immediately able to slice, dice and analyze it in much more useful ways than Paypal lets me. The Geo Explorer table by Onomy Labs is an incredible device. It displays satellite imagery of the Earth, you tilt the table to move around the globe and then spin it to fluidly zoom in and out of locations. Very addictive. Finally, I was glad to learn that O’Reilly is thinking about putting on an alternative energy conference. It’s a topic that greatly excites me, and I’d love to see ways for the tech/blogging community to get more involved with it.

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Meebo map

Seth just pointed me to this cool map of global IM activity. Fascinating.

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Dutch Tub

Check out this Dutch, wood fired hot tub, especially their gallery. Almost every picture in it has people enjoying beer or wine while hot tubbing. Looks like the tub has a built-in wine bottle holder! Try and imagine that from a US manufacturer.

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MacBook

I've been looking to replace my trusty 4 year old Toshiba Portege and ended up getting a MacBook. What's good enough for Dave is certainly good enough for me! I like it so far. Just opening the box put a smile on my face – such nice product design.

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Cochrane Talk

I heard a great talk this morning at the Etel conference. The very smart and entertaining speaker was Peter Cochrane. The presentation was about a number of future trends (VOIP, RFID, GPS, mapping, demise of telcos, convergence as a myth, and more), he used a combo of slides from presentations that are worth checking out here. A couple of examples that jumped out at me:

  • As a future product idea he talked about a cell phone with built in GPS, compass and accelerometer that you could flick towards a building and it displays info on that building for you (by detecting your position, direction and gesture and looking up the data for the spot that you are flicking towards)
  • He talked about the evolution from internet -> position nets -> sensor nets where smart machines can do things like move products across the globe with much higher efficiency because they know where everything is with relation to each other at any given time (which is the kind of complex logistics problem that computers are great at solving and humans aren’t)
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A great day

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Sometimes things work out beautifully: a couple of feet of fresh powder at night, followed by clear blue skies in the morning, lots of skiing all day and Fondue in the evening 🙂

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The Center of Silicon Valley

In honor of tonight’s Yahoo Maps beta and Yahoo Maps API releases, I made a little maps mashup. Sometimes when people visit Silicon Valley, they wonder where it actually is. There is no discernible center to the Valley and you might find yourself passing through it without ever realizing you did. So I set out to find the center via Yahoo Maps. I took the 10 most valuable Silicon Valley tech companies, plotted their locations and then computed their average location weighted by today’s stock market valuation for each company. The result is here.

Here’s what’s weird about it: the center of Silicon Valley came out to be exactly at the intersection of two major highways – 101 and 237. How poetic, in a place that cares mostly about bits and bytes the centerpoint is a freeway on-ramp 🙂