Random thoughts

Just a list of random thoughts. (Hope you don’t mind)

0 – My brand new MacBook Pro has a 500 gig drive. I always knew the day would come where I would be carring around a half a terabyte – but it’s amazing nonetheless.

1 – This past week on vacation I saw my wife and my oldest daughter tear through a ridiculous amount of books. We had to make a trip to the local bookstore mid week to re-stock. I asked my wife why she doesn’t own a Kindle at this point. Two answers: a) don’t want to ever deal with troubleshooting a book and b) can’t share books with a kindle. She loves giving away books to friends and family. It’s her thing.

I didn’t ask my daughter if she wants a kindle because i already could guess the answer. I haven’t convinced myself that a 10 year old should get a Kindle. Maybe I’m old fashioned about some things.

2 – The new verison of Disqus rocks.

3 – I’m really proud of  our portfolio companies. I realize that I talk about them endlessly. But I really can’t help myself. Just this week OMGPOP & Twitter made the list on Time’s Top 50 websites. Yesterday OMGPOP just lauched a killer new game at Hitmachine.fm. New Boxee apps are showing up at a nice pace. The Tumblr folks are getting ready to launch some exciting new stuff very soon. Accenture recently announced that they are working with Bug Labs. Another one of our companies just reached profitability this quarter. Okay, I’ll stop now :)

4 – I hold four mayorships on Foursquare. I’m going to be in NYC for two days with lauren and the kids later this week. Hopefully I’ll add a few mayorships along the way.

5 – The Yankees lost tonight but it was a hell of a comeback attempt in the 9th. So happy that they are in first place in the AL East. I’ve got a good feeling…

6 – I’m seeing some sick cloud based applications. They are being built by a handful of brilliant engineers going after huge markets and established leaders. More on that later.

7 – Looking forward to the @shakeshack II.

8 – Bill Gurley’s latest post about the future of venture capital sums it up nicely

9 – Check out Fred’s latest post about why we should all learn from Craigslist.

It’s now just after midnight. That’s all i got for now. Good night.


Cornerstone – Arctic Monkeys

I’ve been listening to an advanced copy of Humbug for awhile now. But it officially came out today so I had just had to share another track. Humbug is much softer than their previous albums but a solid one for sure.

Yes, it’s easy to go after Apple but let’s not forget a few things

These days it’s very easy to go after Apple’s business practices with iTunes & iPhone.

Unlike the Macintosh operating system where any developer can build an app, the iTunes App Store and iPhone has a specific limitation. Apple must approve your app.

The most high profile app drama is Google Voice. Apple has not given Google permission to run that app on the iPhone. This is on top of the other issues with the app store such as phoney reviews, odd or delayed approval process and other rules that don’t make sense to users or developers.

The reality is that the app store is only about a year old. Before Apple’s app store, the iPhone existed for about a year without any reasonable way to install 3rd party apps (yes, jailbreak showed us the way but most users didn’t do that).

And for the most part, I agree with all of the App Store critics. I wish the Apple App Store was open for all developers. It should work just like anyone can build a website that works with any standard browser and just like building apps for MacOS.

But as long as we are shining a light on Apple, let’s keep a few things in mind:

0 – Life before the App Store.

Before the iPhone and App Store there wasnt any reasonable way to install apps for mobile phones. Just spend 10 minutes with an experienced BREW developer for Verizon handsets. Ask them what that’s like. Before the App store, every mobile 1.0 entrepreneur I know didn’t want to touch client software. They wanted to either build mobile web services, cloud services and/or SMS related services. Some of them told me they were done building mobile software altogether.

You could argue that the carriers didn’t allow it but how did Apple convince AT&T while other titans of the industry (e.g. Motorola, Nokia, Microsoft etc) failed to make that case.

Apple changed all of that and raised the bar. In the past year or so, they have gotten it wrong with a number of things but they are mostly doing it right (ease of use, ease of payment, ease of discovery, etc).

1 – How about other devices? Consider games consoles.

Sony Playstation, Nintendo Wii and Microsoft Xbox are selling in huge volumes every year. And those hardware platforms are extremely powerful. They bring crazy computing horsepower and internet connectivity to millions of televisions around the planet. Sounds like an amazing platform for innovation.

But they are closed. Yes, there are loads of titles for those game consoles. But can anyone build any app and distribute on the PS3 or Wii or Xbox? Or does the game console manufacturer have final approval. You know the answer to that one.

2 – Set top box.

It’s beyond closed. Why can’t I connect an external hard drive to the DVR that Verizon or Comcast. It has a USB port. It wouldn’t be hard and that platform has been around forever. Certainly longer than the App Store. Why can’t third parties plug into the MSO’s video on demand system and provide new services and content. Why can’t I replace the guide with a better one? How about downloadable apps to the set top?

3 – Propriety codecs (Sony videocams, etc)

These are simply a few obvious examples. There are many others.

Yes, I agree with the Apple App Store critics. Apple needs to open that up and create a level playing field for all developers.

But let’s not let everyone else off the hook either. They should at the very least become as open as Apple.

(p.s. – small prediction: I believe the Apple App Store will open up completely within a year)


Nobody Could Change Your Mind – Generationals

Just bought Con Law which came out a month ago. Amazon doesn’’t have a single review but it’s getting tons of attention on the Hype Machine and on twitter. And for good reason. It’s a fantastic record.

Recently California’s Governor announced a free digital textbook competition. The results of that competition were announced today. Many traditional publishers submitted textbooks in this digital textbook competition in CA as well as open publishers. An upstart nonprofit organization named CK-12 contributed a number of textbooks (all free and open source material). ‘Of the 16 free digital textbooks for high school math and science reviewed, ten meet at least 90 percent of California’s standards. Four meet 100 percent of standards.’ Three of those recognized as 100% aligned to California standards were from CK-12 and one from H. Jerome Keisler. None of the publisher’s submissions were so recognized. CK-12 has a very small staff, so this is a great proof of the power of open textbooks and open educational resources.