Monday, December 31, 2007

Angel financing could do with a little streamlining

Here's a worthwhile article for early stage investors and early stage companies, by Bill Contente: LINK (thanks Paul).

Friday, December 28, 2007

Not so Secret Life of a Serial CEO

Really good article from INC. mag chronicalling the life of a seriel entrepreneur and his new venture (thanks Jaymie). LINK

Good reading for anyone raising venture capital, developing a pitch, thinking about thinking big.

Google Calendar Sync for Blackberry (2)

More on Google Calendar Sync for Blackberry, what syncs and what doesn't, copied in its entirety from a post to the Google Mobile Help Group Forum (LINK) from "Deckrider" (LINK). (My previous post on this sync product here: LINK)

I've tried to summarize what does and does not sync based on what
I've read here. (The things I claim _are_ syncing are from first hand
experience.) If you find that more things work than are listed here,
please add them for everyone's benefit.

What Syncs:

- new items added to your BlackBerry (after Google Sync
installation) get added to your Google Calendar

- new items added to your BES* Calendar (after Google Sync
installation) get added to your Blackberry and thus, your Google

- all items in your Google Calendar get added to your BlackBerry if
they are within the sync window

- all items in your Google Calendar get added to your BES* Calendar
if they are within the sync window

What Doesn't:

- some (all?) items in your BlackBerry Calendar prior to (the
first?) Google Sync installation on your BlackBerry

- items restored to your BlackBerry Calendar via the Desktop Manager

- items synced from another calendar to your BlackBerry via the
Desktop Manager

*BlackBerry Enterprise Server


Interview with Steve Fambro, founder and CEO Aptera

Interview with Steve Fambro, founder and CEO of the three-wheeled electric vehicle startup Aptera. (LINK from Popular Mechanics, via Earth2Tech.)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Morgan Stanley + China

Who could have predicted, even a few years ago, that China would purchase a stake in Morgan Stanley? LINK. Isn't that like a lion lying with a lamb? Or a flying pig? Well, no. Big China power inures to big capitalist power because they're actually more alike than dissimilar. A good milestone to remember. Foucault is sadly amused.

Google Calendar Sync for BlackBerry

I've been testing out the new Google Calendar Sync ap for BlackBerry. Here's what I've found. But first my set-up:

- Windows XP machine with Outlook 2007
- Windows 2003 Server with BlackBerry Enterprise Server
- Blackberry 8800
- Google Aps for Domains, including Google Calendar

It works great, with some key caveats. Essentially, the BlackBerry device is serving as the intermediary between Google Calendar and the Windows Server, completely avoiding Outlook. What this means is that I don't have to ever open up Outlook again!* I use GMail for mail. Now I can use Google Calendar . . . well, at some point in the future I'll be able to do so. Challenge is that events that were already in my system do not sync, except in rare unexplained cases. Events newly added since I installed the Google Sync ap sync fine. But what can you expect with a 0.42 version ap? LINK to the Google Sync page.

*Actually I still do have to use Outlook, for other reasons, such as syncs between Outlook Contacts and Salesforce so I can get my contacts into my BlackBerry. Please, will Salesforce and Google get it together a little bit more?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

GPS + Heads-Up Display

I signed up just two days ago for the very nice GPS feature resident in my BlackBerry. Yesterday, it got us successfully to a board meeting when the car in front of me realized they in fact didn't know where they were going. But the limitations of having to switch between GPS display and the real road were apparent at one point when the spoken GPS said "turn left" but actually, you had to take a swooping side road to the right and then swing back to the left to cross the road. A product called Virtual Cable, still very much in concept or at best prototype, would solve that problem nicely: a heads-up display integrated with GPS. It places a virtual line in your view of the road indicating the direction to be traveled. LINK

Monday, December 17, 2007

BlackBerry Enterprise Server for Microsoft Exchange from PACKT

A while back I was asked to provide a review of a book called BlackBerry Enterprise Server for Microsoft Exchange (LINK). It's published by PACKT Publishing and is by Mitesh Desai and Dan Renfroe. They are IT consultants from the UK and USA respectively.

For those who don't know, BlackBerry Enterprise Server is middleware that sits on top of an Microsoft Exchange Server software (or Lotus Notes Domino or other products). It provides management tools for IT admins for BlackBerrys in their organization and it serves as a translator between the BlackBerry devices and Exchange. With BlackBerry Enterprise Server installed you can get full wireless sync of calendars, notes, contacts and e-mails. If your organization limits itself to simply the consumer version of the Blackberry service, you'll merely get your e-mail pushed to you and will have to manually sync, by cable or Bluetooth, your calendar, notes and contacts.

Recently, BlackBerry has lowered the price of its server product in an effort to reach down to much smaller workgroups and organizations. Consequently, a greater number of internal and outsourced IT professionals will need to know how to manage this software and this book is good place to start.

I emphasize "start". It is pretty easy to set up a BlackBerry server. But it's also pretty easy to set it up wrong, as I learned after months of wondering why our server wasn't populating calendar entries correctly. I finally realized that you have to create a special login for the BlackBerry server and that our outsourced IT professional, unfamiliar with BlackBerrys, had neglected this important step. If he'd started with this book he'd have got off on the right track.

So, good book, clearly written, easy to follow, well indexed. My criticism however is that if you approach IT like many small businesses do, which means following instructions only in retrospect and having to trace your mistakes backwards, you may find this book slightly frustrating. What I would have wished is that it provided a more comprehensive list of common problems and mistakes. I'm sure that the writers have a long list of things that typically go wrong. This would have been helpful. Unfortunately, without such a compilation, you'll have to sift through all the user forums and plus RIM's own site to figure out what mistakes you're making and why it's taken you four hours to get the your boss's damn new BlackBerry Curve up and running--only to discover that if you'd just left it tethered to the server a little longer, the thing would have started to do it's activation sequence correctly. This is a book to start the BB Enterprise Server process with, not a reference manual to diagnose problems.

A lot is changing in the world of smartphones. In the US, Apple's iPhone outsold ALL windows mobile devices combined in Q3-2007 and almost outsold all BlackBerrys (LINK). But when I did finally get that Curve up and running I recognized the value of the BB Enterprise Server. Virtually everything transfered to the new phone and it was up and running, a seamless copy of the previous device. That sort of enterprise management is what gives RIM some measure of an edge. So, go RIM! and if you make the investment, throw this book on the requisition as well. But don't ask me what that cover picture on the book is supposed to signify!

More on Huckabee's campaign manager, Jesus Christ

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Tourism of Doom

"Travel agents report clients are increasingly requesting trips to see the melting glaciers of Patagonia, the threatened coral of the Great Barrier Reef, and the eroding atolls of the Maldives . . . " LINK from NYTimes

Monday, December 10, 2007

What I want for Christmas

Blackberry vs iPhone

People keep asking me why I don't have an iPhone and remain committed to my Blackberry. Two reasons: keyboard and wireless sync of calendar and contacts. Additionally, the Blackberry Enterprise software sure does make upgrading to a new device easy--every little preference is transferred from the old phone to the new one.

As noted in PCMag, "while surveys show more than 90 percent of iPhone users are happy with the device, several executives have gone on the record, including at the Reuters Media Summit in New York last week, as saying it is too vexing to tap out long e-mails on the touch screen." LINK

But the article also talks about companies writing business software for the iPhone. A leading example is SAP, which is releasing an iPhone version of their software ahead of the version for Blackberry: "The first generation of the iPhone software will load business contacts, information on sales prospects and account data onto the device . . . SAP decided to introduce the iPhone software ahead of programs for other devices at the request of its sales people, saying they prefer using iPhones to the other devices." LINK

Did you know that Jesus Christ himself is running in the Republican primary?

Frightening video in which Huckabee all but declares himself the second coming of Christ.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Prius almost outsells ALL of VW in the US

The Toyota Prius just missed outselling the entire Volkswagen line in the United States, by 1,000 vehicles. Again: the single model Prius almost outsold all Volkswagens combined! LINK

Thursday, December 06, 2007

More brilliant insights from his fake steveness

"Of course [Apple has] another advantage, which is that our business model aligns our interests with the interests of our customers. The happier they are, the more money we make.

"Facebook's business model is the opposite. It pits Facebook against its customers. The amount of money that Facebook can make is defined (and constrained) by the degree to which its users will allow themselves to be exploited." LINK

Sunday, December 02, 2007

How Your Creepy Ex-Co-Workers Will Kill Facebook

A highly articulate piece from Cory Doctorow (LINK . . . and what else would you expect from Cory?) about the built-in limits of social networking platforms like Facebook. It argues that Facebook is limited by what I'd call "slack anonymity", the fact that you have to "accept" or "reject" friends and that this black and white act at some point makes it a system from which you have to opt out entirely rather than face the requirement to choose. But the alternative is the way I use Facebook--and it seems this is how most of my age 30+ friends use it too. It's a business social networking site not a personal site. It's a public face not a private one. I assume that anything posted on Facebook is not only accessible to my Facebook friends but in fact to the whole world. Yes, I don't want to be friended by everyone. And I'm many many orders of magnitude away from the public persona that is Cory's blessing and his curse, meaning that I'm generally friended by people I know. But I don't think Facebook has to devolve to the scrapbook of history, as Cory suggests it will. Facebook's choice, instead of sliding into the obscurity and the ignominy of being simply a Wikipedia reference, is to become essentially a public place, effectively if not actually an unwalled garden, a more personal LinkedIn. And with a valuation to match, certainly less than their current $15 billion one. And other, more private places will figure out how to take their place for one's more personal and private circles of friends. Or they can figure out how people can create different faces within their system.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The man who invented Shrek

Here's a piece (LINK) on my great uncle, William Steig, referencing the shows of his work going on right now in Boston (LINK) and New York.