Thursday, May 05, 2005

And the way to monetize the Internet is...T-shirts!

And the way to monetize the Internet is...T-shirts!

Forget AdSense, start selling T-shirts to monetize your Web site.

Lightsabers Around The House

Lightsabers Around The House
Another fun Star Wars tidbit. The folks at "How Stuff Works" have published an extensive article on how lightsabers work, including tips on using lightsabers around the house.

"Although a lightsaber is typically used as a defensive weapon by Jedi knights, the availability of lightsabers on consumer sites such as eBay is growing. It is a sad fact of life, but if a Jedi knight falls on hard times, his lightsaber is one source of quick cash. He can always build another one.

If you are lucky enough to acquire a lightsaber, you are probably purchasing it for personal defense purposes. A lightsaber completely blows away a can of pepper spray as a deterrent in muggings or robberies. However, many new owners are pleasantly surprised by the many domestic uses of a lightsaber around the home or office. "

Are Panels Dead?

Are Panels Dead?
Lying awake at night after feeding my daughter a bottle...

My organization, HBS Tech, is going to be holding a blog event. We want it to be interactive and blog-friendly, the question is how? The standard panel format seems too rigid and conservative. It simply doesn't fit with the way blogs work.

I talked with Tony Gentile and Jeff Clavier at HBS Tech's Business 2010 event last night. They were talking about the need for a backchannel.

My midnight brainstorm is to create a blog especially for the event. We'll use Google's Blogger/Blogspot, or, if we get an account donated or a big sponsor, 6Apart, Yahoo, or Microsoft.

We'll have three projectors--one projecting the blogger's screen (we'll need a volunteer to blog the content in real time), one projecting the blog itself (that station will be open, and anyone who wants to comment can do so by coming up to the station and coding one in), and a third projecting the blog of the speaker.

The room will be Wi-Fi enabled so that all the bloggers who bring their laptops (including the other speakers) can blog and comment in real time.

After each "post" by a speaker, the audience will have a chance to "comment." If they comment by talking, a volunteer will enter the comment into the live blog. Or, as described before, they can comment on the blog itself.

What do other people think? Will this work?

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Blog, Interrupted

After a hiatus for the Alex Chan tribute, we return to our regularly scheduled programming.

Chicks in Chainmail

Chicks in Chainmail

Sony Online Entertainment is holding a contest to seek out a lookalike for EverQuest babe Antonia Bayle.

I am always amused by the ridiculously impractical nature of these costumes. I don't know if any of my readers are women, but I'm guessing such clothes are pretty uncomfortable.

The best commentary on chicks in chainmail bikinis comes from the old Robotech cartoon (Macross, for your anime fiends). In it, the aliens are watching a beauty pageant's swimsuit competition.

"Perhaps it's armor."
"Then why does it only cover such a small proportion of their body?"
"Maybe those are the only parts that are vulnerable."

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Pop Goes The Bubble?

Pop Goes The Bubble?

The kind folks at Battery Ventures wrote an excellent article on Alan Greenspan's legacy, which also discussed a subject near and dear to my heart, to wit, the housing bubble.

Take these two statistics, for example, drawn from an LA Times article:

“In 2001, as the current housing boom got underway, fewer than 2% of California homes were bought with interest-only loans, according to an analysis done for The Times by LoanPerformance, a San Francisco mortgage research firm.

By last year, the level had risen to 48%. Nationally, LoanPerformance says, interest-only loans were used in about a third of all purchases.”

Okay, so people are diving into interest-only loans. What's the big deal? Well, while the borrower may be able to afford the payments now, when the principal starts to come due (generally after 3 years), the required payments jump.

Now add in this fact:

"In California, the traditional fixed-rate loan is in danger of becoming extinct. According to recent LoanPerformance data, the percentage of new loans that are adjustable in Santa Cruz and San Diego was 85%; in Oakland 84%; in Santa Rosa 81%; in Los Angeles 74%."

So in all likelihood, close to half of new mortgages are of the interest-only, adjustable-rate variety. This might be fine if the folks taking out these loans left themselves plenty of financial cushion, but the whole point of interest-only and ARMs is to let people "stretch" to buy houses that are more expensive than they could otherwise afford.

So what happens in a couple of years, when the weakening dollar leads to a rise in inflation, which triggers a rise in interest rates, which bumps up the payments on ARMs, just as the principal on those interest-only mortgages comes due?

Pop.

Monday, May 02, 2005

A Feeble Younger Brother

A Feeble Younger Brother

Sony has one of its Qrio robots attending a human nursery school in San Diego.

"While the children were at first apprehensive about Qrio, they now dance with it and help it get up when it falls. "The children think of Qrio as a feeble younger brother," researcher Fumihide Tanaka said."

As a parent, I wouldn't be too happy about putting my children in that situation, but I suppose that it might actually be good for the kids.

After all, when the killer robots descended from their "feeble younger brother" decide to terminate humanity, they might show mercy to the old playmates of their youth.

So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish

I first met Alex Chan when I got involved with SDForum. We met at the 2002 holiday party. Little did I know how much I'd be seeing of Alex in the future.

After that, we kept meeting at different events--at the Computer History Museum, at CSPA events (where he was president). It quickly became apparent to me that Alex was really on top of things.

Alex helped me out many times, both in connection with SDForum, as well as on other matters. He was always available to talk, and made countless introductions for me. Given the responses that I got, it's clear that the folks he introduced me to shared my high opinion of him.

I just heard that Alex is leaving the Bay Area. As usual, he's making a bold and visionary move--he's going to be the director of Microsoft's Shanghai R&D campus. I'm sure that history will record that this was one of Bill and Steve's best decisions.

Along with the rest of the folks at SDForum, I want to thank Alex for all of his contributions and wish him well on his new adventure!

Sunday, May 01, 2005

See Seth Succeed

An old friend of mine used to say, "the only difference between me and Seth Godin is that he has a shaved head."

Now, he'd have to say the difference was the shaved head and the many bestsellers.

Ankesh Kothari has a great analysis of why Seth is successful.

The most important lessons to learn?

1. Make you and your product stand out. "Purple Cow" stands out more than "Be Different." A shaved head makes you instantly recognizable.

2. Penetrate the market by giving away free goodies. Especially in today's market, people try before they buy. Therefore, get as many people to try as possible!

3. Leverage other people's networks.