Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Thuraya - Crystal Clear Through Space


Louisa called me this morning from Ikotos in Southern Sudan using her Thuraya satellite phone. The call quality of the connection to a VZW cell tower in Seattle via space was incredible with no delay at all. This was miles better (and more expensive!) than any VOIP product I have ever used. Fun fact: Thuraya is the Arabic word for the constellation we call Cassiopeia (at least that's what my Hans Wehr says)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Wefi - Rewrite Hell

I was talking to a friend tonight who told me in an off-hand way that he had just gotten and lost a job in one week. This sounded funny, so I asked him to elaborate. Apparently, he had been been hired by a guy starting the "Seattle office" for the Israeli wi-fi sharing startup, Wefi that has just been getting some coverage this week.

Usually, a US office of an Israeli software company is a sales and marketing front end for Israeli developers - but my friend was doing some dev. work for them. Turns out that he had been hired to help port their website to python/django from the earlier java version - which itself had been a ground-up rewrite from some third different technology stack.

Python/django is a pretty rapid framework, so my friend and his boss were able to get something up and running quickly, but as soon as they did, the Israelis decided that it wouldn't seem like a wise use of resources to just toss out all the code that they had already written - so they decided to close the "Seattle office" instead.

I am pretty sure that there are at least several lessons to be gleaned from this story - but mainly, I am just glad that our own .NET/RoR discussion from a long time ago wasn't anywhere close to this chaotic!

Ooyala - Small World Department

Ooyala is a new startup launched by some Google alums. They are in Venturebeat today, no idea what they do - but I do remember competing against Sean Knapp, the founder, in high school cross country and track - he went to Gig Harbor, I went to Lakeside. My girlfriend at the time also went on to run at Stanford like him, a year or two before he got there.

By the way, that's a funny picture of Sean from college at Stanford in the link.

Another one of those "what have I been doing with my time?" items.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Judy's Book Skunkworks

Here at the Judy's Book Skunkworks, we have allied an unprecedented level of granularity with a new and compelling UI - Say you are looking for The Ocean Club, Paradise Island, Nassau, The Bahamas:

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Fun Domain Article

Fun domain article on CNN including the great Cameroonian domain play - Courtesy of Mr. Frind

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Technical Founders

I was reading the Jackson Fish Market blog/manifesto yesterday on Alex's recommendation and happened on their rule of three post. Basically, like 37Signals, they feel that an optimal founding team comprises one developer, one designer, and one dogsbody :). This is, of course, a very reasonable idea.

It struck me that in practice, if not in equity, every startup works like this. The first developer and the first designer stamp an indelible mark on process and product that tends to be more persistent than the adaptive vagaries of business planning or marketing.

Common stock or not, if you think you don't have technical founders, you do.

And Jackson Fish folks, you're well on your way, now what will be your Basecamp?

Job Boards - Guys, Honestly?

Who takes out an ad like this, honestly?


Top-quartile here you come!

Organizational Diagnostics, Part I

I like to translate various technical diagnostic measures into similar organizational diagnostics, for instance:

Bluehatseo has a good post mentioning the percentage of a website's pages that are actually indexed by search engines.

This got me thinking about the optimal percentage of project-types done at Judy's Book. The majority of work/projects done should concretely move the business forward either by noticeably delivering more value to a user, or bringing in more revenue. Additionally, there needs to be an appropriate amount of maintenance and less-visible improvement work done as things tend to degrade over time if left alone.

The low hanging fruit here are projects that do not fit into either of these 2 boxes - and there are always some that don't - we can de-prioritize these. It helps to consider what your site is fundamentally about - for instance, if your site is about putting great content in front of visitors, then adding and improving content is much more important than displaying existing or sub-par content in a *new* way.

Monday, May 21, 2007

PopFly - Powerpoint Compiler

Don Dodge, promoting Microsoft's PopFly:

"If you can use Powerpoint you can use Popfly to build mashups, gadgets, and web pages...just like a real developer."

Alex has been skeptical of the whole Intentsoft slash business-requirements-powerpoint-compiler thing. Guess it's pretty much a solved problem now, right? . . . right?

Wordpress Bulk Publishing

If you need to bulk publish content on a free hosted wordpress blog (and who doesn't?), it's really easy to use the LiveJournal XML format to import into Wordpress. The LiveJournal format is dead simple so obviously it is pretty easy to map from a big CSV file, or what have you:

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A Simple Ad

This ad is brilliant because of what it is not - namely - it's not animated - you only THINK it's going to be animated if you mouse-over or click - so you mouse over or click - Gotcha!


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Q.T. With P.G.

Yesterday evening, my dad and I spent some great QT together out sailing on Lake Washington - I look serious because I'm focused on holding the camera myself.

a550 031

Current Favorite Speaker Bio - Web.Start

Nikola Denić (Serbia)

Nikola is the CEO of the Haragei company. He possesses a unique mix of managerial and engineering skills, which allows him to equally dominate as a negotiator and manager, as well as an expert in a wide spectrum of Web technologies. Among the professionals, Nikola is known as someone who solves impossible problems. He works mostly from clients from the USA and Europe, although he has based his future business on creating own products. He is a great admirer of the Japanese approach to living and oriental martial arts. He is a former national champion of Serbia in judo.

He often points that for a certain type of products there is a nice possibility to choose the thechnology and all the beauty that it carries. The buzz will come and go, but this fact remains.

(from Web.Start)

Filanthropy - A New Blog

I have launched a new blog called Filanthropy where I publish information about non profit organizations and provide links to donate conveniently to that organization through - a joint project of America Online, Cisco Systems and Yahoo!

I have started it off with ~20 posts and will be adding more in the weeks ahead.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Personal Efficiency - Lifehacker

I am big on managing my own productivity efficiently, so I like to read Lifehacker occasionally - a lot of it is too guru-y, but there are gems to be found.

Today's Life hack by me:

If I wear my polo shirt to sleep - I don't have to waste time getting dressed in the morning :)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Founders at Work

On Friday afternoon I got lucky because Jeff had brought his copy of Founders At Work to the office to lend to Roper, who proceeded to forget it on his desk when he went home. I seized the opportunity and borrowed it for the weekend myself. I read the whole book this weekend and, just as most other people have been saying, it's a great collection of valuable primary source material. A+

The book will be back in the morning, as if it were never gone.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

My Favorite Matt Johnsons

It's no secret that my FirstName,LastName combination is not the English-speaking world's least common. Technically, I spell my first name Mathew, not Matthew, which a few of us do. Everybody else (Google) lumps us together, and I have a lifelong habit of abbreviating my name as Matt because of it.

But I digress.

Mainly, I wanted to call out my 3 favorite Matt Johnsons (other than myself, of course!):

Matthew Johnson, rockstar and brilliant musician of the band The The - definitely one of my all time favorite bands.

Matthew Johnson, screenwriter of Into The Blue and Torque - sometimes described as producing some of the most wooden dialog in Hollywood today, he's still a screenwriter, and I am not, so I guess, he's the one laughing!

Mathew Johnson, a Flash-happy web designer from Brisvegas whose main claim to fame in my eyes is the ownership of mathewjohnson dot com

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Chris DeVore Gets It Done

Rahul was just drawing an 'it's so true!' distinction between being happy and being willing to map large lists of categories. Egalitarian organization that we are, Chris, along with Andy, co-founder of Judy's Book, has picked up some of this categorization work.

I know this is a lot of work, so this afternoon I told Chris to feel free to break me off a chunk to work on, but, surprisingly he demurred and responded that he was already fired up and cranking on it, so not to worry.

That's just the kind of guy Chris is - a founder who is also the first one to roll up his sleeves and dive right in to even the most headache-inducing tasks. And the rest of the time he's cold-calling and putting together a litany of deals that pay us actual, real money - and just generally moving the business forward in all kinds of different ways.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Aleksey Vayner Strikes Again

The Aleksey Vayner tag line "Impossible Is Nothing" just showed up in an ad for the Adidas Track Classic Meet - Just when you thought it had disappeared for good:

Adidas Track Classic

Rahul pointed out that Adidas has been using this slogan for a bit, but regardless, Alexsey Vayner took full command - and every time Adidas uses it, they are promoting him.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Andrew Chen - Great Blog

I discovered Andrew Chen's blog over the weekend - and I love it. 3 days ago I made a mental list of my 3 favorite posts, and already since then, I have had to revise.

Apparently, Andrew is a Seattle guy, recently relocated to P.A. as an EIR at Mohr Davidow. I hope I get a chance to run into him at some point in the future.

Here are a few of my favorite posts from Futuristic Play:

Level up for features instead of freemium?

The most sophisticated ad unit I've seen in a long time
Cofounders I
Cofounders II


Monday, May 7, 2007

Startup Objectivity And Relativism

Much of the time, objectivity and relativism are counterpoints and no question, for a startup to succeed, you have to get things objectively right - there are no legacy revenue streams to make up for half-ass-ed-ness.

But in more detail, it's about getting it objectively right as a team, and team success is all relative. So if you are frustrated with me and I am frustrated with you, there's no winning until we patch it up and get collaborating on being right together - I can't be right until I'm right in your opinion, and the opinions everyone else on the team, too.

Dave has been thinking and writing good stuff about teamwork and team players, etc. recently.

As an aside, I was also reminded today that the useful tool that is the back-channel can sneak up and bite you in the back-side.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

MSN, You've Got A Long Way To Go, Baby

Microsoft still places Commission Junction affiliate redirect links high up in natural search results. Obviously, the alphabet soup links set a cookie and send you directly to Zappo's Shoes (also obviously, this doesn't happen so much with Google):

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Fantastisk - My New Favorite Word

I heard the word 'Fantastisk' a lot from someone over a period of a few days a couple of months ago, and have just resolved to start using a lot myself!

And no, I don't speak Swedish or Norwegian, although my middle name is in fact Gustav.

Friday, May 4, 2007

JetBlue Helps Domainer

A standard confirmation email from JetBlue, that I imagine gets sent to many people every day, contains the typo '' instead of 'at' - not surprisingly, the domain is a page of ads. I want to get me some of that vector!

"per person plus applicable fare adjustment. Save $5 by changing or canceling your flight online Any remaining balance will be placed in a JetBlue air-only credit and may be applied toward future travel"

If you have anything from JetBlue on your email, take a look!

Use As A Keyword Tool

You can just never have enough keyword tools. Lately I have been playing around with using the 'Narrow Your Search' sidebar on - basically, you get a short list, but the queries are fairly 'clean' - and it's free and easy.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Fake News, Meet Fake Reviews

We all watch and love Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert for the fake news - now Judy's Book has become forum for funny fake reviews of Pamela Martin - the Washington Madam.

We have also successfully reached the top of the search results for "Pamela Martin Rockville"


On First Page For Gap Coupons

Surprisingly, our Gap store page - with zero inbound direct links - is on the 1st page of Google results for the queries:

Gap Coupon and Gap Coupons

What was that about Schrodinger's Cat and the Observer Effect again?