Dec 01

Here’s a long-winded, long-overdue brain dump of various topics of interest that I’ve compiled from the past few months. Each section merits an individual post but the reality is I’m now writing reminders in the Treo to write rather than just writing. It’s been like that lately ;-)


History Hound – This app is the Google Desktop replacement for Mac that is so conspicuously missing right now. he logo needs some work but don’t let it’s cheesiness fool you- it provides the “helmet cam” functionality that GDS did on the PC as far as giving you a searchable index of everything you read. It works on every major browser on the mac (Safari, Firefox, Camino, Opera, Omniweb) as well as email programs and RSS readers. I’ve used it for the past week and it works well. It will also index retroactively if you let it scan your history file.

Barraged with insane amounts of information, the real skill becomes not assimilating everything you read but forming a good mental index, making associations and linkages, getting a gut feel for the capabilities and then being able to return to get details after the fact by searching on trigger words. Google announced they would support GDS on the Mac but that was a year ago and it’s clearly not a priority for them – this app gets you the main functionality of GDS on Mac.

Yottamusic.comKimbro turned opened my eyes to this. It’s a superior browser-based player for the Rhapsody music service. There is no Mac Rhapsody client and Rhapsody’s web player blows. I was running the Windows Rhapsody client under Parallels to get the music queueing feature that is missing from the web version but the client it hogs memory like no other program. It was monopolizing the CPU using 2GB of virtual memory. The Yotta player is all around a better experience not to mention the most responsive AJAX app I’ve ever seen. I have no idea how their search feature returns artist results so quickly. Anyways, we can’t figure out if this is some skunkworks project internal to Real to sidestep their typical advertiser-centric interface nonsense or if it is an independent entity, how they’ve been able to get such tight integration with the Rhapsody service to deliver Yotta- whoever it is, they’ve made something that’s way better.

iMindMap – if you like mindmapping for note taking, thought organizing and brainstorming, you’ll want to check out this app from Tony Buzan, the guy who literally wrote the book on Mind Mapping. The software is in public beta and freely available from that link. If you put any stock in Buzan’s theory that the more personal and “neuron-looking” your maps are, the more effective they become, then you’ll appreciate the attention they gave to the stylistic implementation of the maps. MindManager seems to be the most popular one. Freemind works well enough for me but I will be switching to iMindMap when it comes out of beta as I’ve found the personalization aspect of the maps to be as important as using the tree mindmap structure itself.

OnTour Mac Widget – this thing is cool and essentially is the same idea we originally had for a grid7 project that we called “TrackMyBands.” It’s a mac dashboard widget that hooks into a musical concert tour database and exposes local concert information. You specify your zip code and it gives you the upcoming shows for your area sorted chronologically so you have a quick way to check which bands are playing soon in your area. It’s very well done and apparently they must make their money via the “purchase ticket” links that appear next to the shows. I’ve caught a few shows using it that I would have otherwise missed. It works and it’s free.

Gmail on Treo – I have not been able to make this work on my Treo 650. I would be curious to hear from anyone who has. I have the latest VM running from IBM but the .jad file throws an error that happens too fast to read when I try to install it. This would be a neat app if it works. I know you can pop to gmail using Versamail but then you have the synchronization issues and need something like iMAP which is not supported. I’m not interested in receiving email on my phone all the time but I like to have to option to retrieve it in a pinch. I’m using the Blazer web client to access my gmail now but a standalone simple client on the Treo would be better.

Backtrack parallels imagethis looks promising. I tried the torrent file and got 836/862MB but it crapped out at the very end and there have been no seeders over the last week. I tried the paypal option for ordering the $7 CD from the guy but never heard back. This is the evolution of WHAX/Knoppix and is nice because it doesn’t require a restart to use the live CD- it’s delivered as a parallels disk image that can be fired up at any time. I’ll report back if I get to play with it but it seems like a powerful suite of security/hacking tools in a virtual appliance format. And you don’t have to sell us on the value of virtual appliances- that’s what JumpBox is entirely aimed at.

Filevault and Truecrypt – At some point I’ll do a post on the three-pronged security setup involving harddrive encryption (filevault), automated backup (mirra) and remote lojack and wiping capability (absolute) but for now the quick version is: Mac has an encrypted hard drive option built-in. On PC you need to run something like Truecrypt in order to encrypt your HD but on the Mac you simply enable Filevault in your System Preferences > Security panel. Nifty.

Firefox Adblock – When I switched over to the Mac one thing I noticed immediately was that there are a ton of ads on the web that I had forgotten about because I use the adblock extension in Firefox. The extension itself is useless without a comprehensive list of ad sites to block. Here’s my list that kills 95% of the ads on the sites I visit. Get the extension and import that list and you should have a mostly-ad-free existence online.

Tagging XmasGifts – This isn’t an app so much as a suggestion on another creative use of As I run across things online that strike me as perfect Christmas gifts for certain people, I’m tagging them privately with the tag “XmasGifts” and then putting the person’s name in the note field. Then when it’s time to purchase all gifts, it’s just a matter of looking up that tag. This in itself isn’t too interesting but there are interesting possibilities if you incorporate the social tagging features and remove the privacy feature. The reverse would be to tag the items YOU are interested in and expose your bookmarks to friends/family so everyone can see everyone else’s xmas list. Similar to the “freedbacking” meme proposed by Chris Pirillo, this would be a good meme to launch amongst the geek community – a universal approach to a wishlist based on No doubt online retailers would support it.

Site Sucker – the mac equivalent of HTTrack, it’s the easiest way I’ve found to make a local copy of a site or a portion of a site online. You point it at a page and give it a link depth and then turn it loose to grab all the contents. I stumbled on this while I was trying to make a local copy of the vTiger user manual for reading at home (I don’t have an internet connection in the new place yet). The Downthemall FF extension worked for grabbing the text from each page but it ignored all the illustration graphics so I went looking for the HTTrack equivalent and tried a bunch before I found this one. It’s donation-ware.

Dapper – I tinkered with this a bit about a month ago. It’s a visual way of creating your own customized screen-scraper. They recently did a deal with Netvibes so apparently you can create Dapper widgets and incorporate them into your Netvibes homepage. That’s a smart marriage as it’s now the end-to-end deal that makes both services more useful. Dapper is a very cool concept. I used to make custom screen-scraping widgets for things like monitoring the next IPO on the companies I followed back in the day. Dapper makes this capability accessible to people that don’t know how to write code and adds the library aspect of allowing people to publish their widgets and let others build off of them.

Democracy Player – this is just cool. It’s like tivo for video blogs. It has some of the same content that’s on iTunes but it’s all freely available and it uses the BitTorrent protocol to grab the videos automatically and expire outdated content to save space. When Apple releases iTV, the combination of these two will sink traditional television as far as I’m concerned- aside from sports games, there will be zero reason to ever watch TV.


  • Office 2.0 – I wrote up thoughts on that conference here.
  • VMworld – this was a shocker that a conference on virtualization already draws that much interest. We were only there for partner day which had 1700 attendees but supposedly there were 7000 people in attendance the next day. Wow. It’s good to see that much steam behind the virtualization movement.
  • AZ Entrepreneurship Conference – we raced back from LA to announce JumpBox at the first ever AZ Entrepreneurship Conference. We captured all the audio from the sessions and disseminated under the Grid7 Venturecast. Valuable info- I especially liked the session on funding.
  • BarCamp Phoenix – this is coming next weekend (Dec 9th) at the University for Advancing Computing Technology in Tempe and we’re helping to run this event. Definitely don’t miss this if you are a local tech person in AZ. This is an organic “unconference” and is less of a compilation of presenters as much as “facilitators.” It is designed to be a participatory event that puts intelligent people in the same room to talk about interesting tech-related topics of interest.
  • Cambrian House “Golden Hammer” Tournament – so I submitted a bunch of the ideas we had generated early on in the Grid7 labs project last year and one of them rose to the top of 3000 and made it to the last Golden Hammer tourney they just held on CH. Unfortunately it lost in the final eight to the guy that’s about to win the whole thing. Validation that we were thinking along the right lines though.


No books to report on sadly. I’ve been reading only online stuff lately. As far as movies these are some good ones I can vouch for:

I’m now also hooked on season one of Lost. With the exception of a few events like World Cup I haven’t seen cable TV over a year now but this show is absolutely addictive. There’s time to catch up on the old seasons via DVD if you start now and do one a day. Apparently the regular season begins again mid-February. Twenty-Four was the last crack-show I was addicted to a few seasons back and I had to quit one day because I found myself ditching face-to-face plans in order to watch it. Anytime you start scheduling your life around TV episodes it’s probably time to change something.

As far as music, Guster, Joe Purdy and Lovedrug are my new favorites. Mike Doughty‘s album (singer of Soul Coughing) is also very good. Here’s my latest tunes from Yotta.


-I did a guest author post on Noah Kagan’s blog awhile back which was fun.

Matt Bob Jones interviewed me recently on his series with local AZ tech people. There are some other interesting interviews on there mostly with people from the Refresh Phoenix group.
-TSA policy is moronic. I brought a 4oz bottle of shampoo on our trip to the Office 2.0 conference in San Francisco and the guy at the metal detector said it was beyond the 3oz permissable limit for fluids. I asked him if I could dump out an ounce and take the rest. He said no, it’s whatever is listed on the bottle… are these people aware that under the current rules you could bring a suitcase of full 3oz bottles but not one half-empty 4oz bottle? And what makes them think that explosives can only be stored in liquid form? C4 molded into the lining of a bag would be just as effective- WTF? It’s like the question “sir, can you change the display on your phone?” as if that somehow ensures that it’s not a malicious device… I’m sorry but TSA is a facade of security. I can’t believe they want to jail the kid that made the boarding pass generator – it was a pure stunt to show what a joke the TSA security policies really are.

-I can corroborate the Peekaboo Effect firsthand from my experience in sending out Executive Summaries for JumpBox- “tantalizing people with a glimpse is more powerful than showing the whole thing up front.” Thank you Kathy Sierra for concisely explaining this effect.

-I did a scuba class with a friend recently. I don’t know whether it was the exhaustion from doing the swimming exercises all day or if it’s something related to the regulated breathing but I have never slept so well as after that course. I have an interesting parallel to draw between startup life and the experience of breathing underwater for the first time, but I’ll save that for a later post.

-Neutralizing traffic jams- this is an interesting post i read recently from a guy who claims to have found the secret to neutralizing the standing waves in traffic that create slowdowns on the freeways. What’s more interesting to me than its application to vehicular traffic is the idea that you can neutralize situations by yielding. I used to take Tae Kwon Do and my instructor taught this concept of yielding to rob your opponent’s energy, neutralize their efforts and then redirect that energy back at him/her. I’ve seen validation of this same strategy in other scenarios (namely disputes) where you can concede the major vector of your opponent’s argument, diffuse it and flank with the real substance of your argument.

-The Nintendo Wii kicks ass. Ben bought one yesterday and we wasted at least half the day at the office playing the sports game that comes with it. Proof that fancy graphics and fast action titles miss the boat with game systems- it’s all about how fun the experience is. The wii nails the experience with the motion-sensing “nunchuck” controllers.


for the most recent additions to the “things I’ve recently discovered that I wish someone would have told me a long time ago” category:

iTrip Antenna trick – so if you have a Griffin iTrip to be able to play your iPod music in your car via the FM radio, and it cuts out occasionally, here’s a simple trick I picked up from Lifehacker that you can use to fix it: simply unscrew your car’s antenna. Doing so will cripple the receiving capability of your FM radio and therefore the remote signal from radio towers that’s competing w/ the locally-broadcasted signal from the iTrip will be eclipsed by the weaker yet closer signal. Since I did this trick a few weeks ago, the iTrip hasn’t cut out once.

Gas tank icon on the dashboard – so why why why has nobody ever explained that car manufacturers put the little gas icon on the side of the gas gauge to reflect which side the gas tank is on in the car? Such a simple convention that’s been there this whole time.


Stuff I’ve bought recently that’s worth it:

-History Hound (mac)
-Keynote (mac)
-Mint stats (server)

-Guster – Parachute
-Dispatch – Silent Steeples
-Bluetech – Signs and Singularities
-Mitch Hedberg – Strategic Grill Locations
-Breaking Benjamin- We are not alone
-Mike Doughty – Looking at the World from the Bottom of a Well

-Sony HDR-SR1 video camera (<- this rules, it has a hard drive instead of a tape) -1/2 ton of sand (I put in a beach at our office) -tour of Kartchner Caverns (<- this place is in southern AZ and was amazing) So there you have it- four months of observations/reflections crammed into one post. Whew! Holidays are always nuts. If we've sent you an Executive Summary for JumpBox but haven't followed up, please get in touch with me as our strategy is now slightly different from what’s outlined in that document. We will be closing the funding by the new year so you’ll need to contact me soon if you want on board with the investment opportunity.


4 Responses to “Kernel Dump Q4 2006”

  1. Spike Jones says:

    Regarding your comment on Mind Mapping, I use NovaMind and find it much better than the others, on both Mac and PC. Excellent software, excellent support, frequent updates, and the output is simply beautiful. You can create unique flowing Mind Maps with pictures, colors etc very quickly. Check it out at

  2. Shawn says:

    I tried the gmail app for the treo and got it to work fine (treo 650) -but versamail works better.. I’ve got versamail pointed to gmail now and it works great – attachments and all

  3. sean_tierne2149 says:

    Roy, I stopped pursuing this effort in October. We were getting minor benefit from it but the ROI for the time invested just wasn't there. With better keyword filtering I believe this technique could have been refined and made to work. As it stands in this form it's a good deal of work to do it right (sifting through hundreds of tweets to find the one or two that you can really help).

    The other issue is that a few people thought what we were doing was spammy. I can semi-understand their complaint (although expressing an issue on Twitter and having random people chime in to help is kindof the point…). Regardless, this issue coupled with the fact we just have bigger fish to fry led to my discontinuation of this practice. To read more about the spam question, check this post-> Reply

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