2012-02-29T21:55:45.928-08:00Tonight while looking for my personal blog post about the sale of Thing Labs to AOL I realized... I never posted it. There it sat in the drafts on Blogger. I must have been a little busy that day. In any case, I just back-dated it and posted it like it was a page ripped from one notebook and Scotch-taped back in where it belonged. All is right with the world.(image)
You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.- R. Buckminster Fuller(image)
I'm incredibly happy to share with you today that my company Thing Labs is merging with AOL. Thing Labs has come a long way in the last two years, and we've built products I love and a team I'm proud to work with daily. AOL has recognized this, and we agree that there are a lot of great things we can do together. My collaborator and business partner Chris Wetherell and I will be heading up product development for AIM, Lifestream and other consumer products. Don't worry: Brizzly will live on. I want to thank those who had a hand in making this deal happen, and my team at Thing Labs for building great products and just generally being great people. For more information about what the future holds, see our post about the merger on the Thing Labs blog or check out the announcement from AOL.Coverage
2010-08-26T20:45:47.989-07:00Five years ago today, my father-in-law Michael J. Fitzpatrick passed away suddenly. It was a shock then and sometimes it's still hard to believe he's gone. I was asked to say a few words at his wake and I've hung onto them since and now, here they are. I don't expect anyone outside the family to read all of this, but if you do - he was quite a guy and I wish you could have known him too. August 2005 In 1991, almost 15 years ago I fell in love with a beautiful young redhead named Allison. Her family attended Saint Joseph's Church and I remain thankful for their faith. It turns out Allison came from a long line of Irish Catholics named Fitzpatrick. I think I met Mr. Fitzpatrick after our second date. He wasn't the typical father of three daughters. There was no shotgun, no stern look, just a handshake and a smile. However, he was still Mr. Fitzpatrick to me. Over the next few weeks as I spent more and more time with Allison, Mike took an interest in me. Where was I going to school? Where did I work? What did I want to do? Who were my parents? Where were they from? Soon it came to light that my mother was from Oakland just like Mike. Not only that but Mike knew of my uncle, Ron Tomsic, who was a famous Stanford and Olympic basketball player during the 50's. Mike grabbed my arm, 'THE Ron Tomsic. Fremont High. Ron Tomsic! Boy, he was something!' I assured him it was one and the same. The connection certainly impressed him and I hadn't done a thing other than being born into basketball friendly genes. I knew I was on the road to becoming family. Over the years, Mike continued to ask about Ron and was excited that he would be attending our wedding a few years later.That enthusiasm was a familiar story with Mike. He was a generous man and his success was your success. Not only that but, your success was his success as well! Mike had a win-win situation on his hands on a daily basis. His children all speak of Mike as the champion of the underdog, someone who was always hoping that the local Mom and Pop coffee shop was going to outsell Starbucks. That perhaps - his children should give the kid with the funny hair in science class some slack. Another great example, he was a proud supporter of Saint Mary's College Football. God bless 'em.Mike read many biographies and considered himself a student of human nature. He especially loved stories about triumph over adversity. It made him an engaging conversationalist and a very encouraging man to be in the presence of. Mike made me feel like I could accomplish anything. When I told him I was going to join a small business, he was right there with an encouraging word and sage advice. When I talked of selling the business to Google, he wanted every detail. I often drew from that well of enthusiasm and will continue to remind myself that Mike believed in me and helped shape the kind of father & friend I am today.There was a rarely a time when I was in the position to help Mike. He was a strong man, a successful man, and I - a young man. There was one time however, when I came to his aid. We were on vacation in Maui. The Fitzpatricks allowed me to tag along the summer after Allison and I graduated from Saint Mary's. Jeannine, Allison, Mike and I drove up the coast past Lahaina to a beautiful protected lagoon to do a little snorkeling. After spending a little time in the water, Allison and Jeannine were looking at green fish thru their masks and I was enjoying the warm water. Mike suddenly, let out a loud, "Um, JASON. I need a little help.' Mike was stung by a Portugese man-of-war. It had wrapped a tentacle around his left hand around his watch. My lifeguard training kicked in and I removed the tentacles from his watch and helped him in to the shore and quickly got him to the car. A few doses of Benadryl later and Mike was good as new. I don't know that I did much but the Portugese man-of-war quickly turned into a stingray, and then a shark, as the years wore on. He was happy to make me feel like I had saved his[...]
2010-05-11T23:20:29.274-07:00After 10 years of using Blogger to post via FTP to my own server, I'm now using Blogger to post to... well Blogger. I'm going to give it a whirl and see how it goes. If you are reading this then you shouldn't need to change your feed. You are already living in the future. Wheeeee! The very subtle change is that I'm posting to blog.shellen.com instead of just shellen.com now.(image)
Today my youngest brother Grant and his wife Heather welcomed a beautiful baby boy to the world. Meet Charles Andersen Shellen. You can call him Charlie. I know this photo isn't my best look but I may have shed a tear or two holding my baby bro's baby.(image)
2010-02-28T23:56:05.056-08:00One day I'll tell you the story of February 2010. Not now of course, that would spoil all the fun.(image)
2015-08-06T13:19:53.357-07:00width="420" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/0mR149kffXM" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>(image)
My medical provider Kaiser Permanente just sent an email update on their H1N1 flu vaccine availability with the helpful sounding subject line: H1N1 vaccine now available to all Kaiser Permanente members. Previously, they would only give vaccines to the most high risk groups, mainly based on age. Inside this email was a link to their website and a phone number (1-800-KP-FLU-11) to call to find out where the next flu clinic would be. Let's put aside for a minute that Kaiser has my zip code and could have sent along the location and schedule. However, clicking the link just gave the same phone number. Kaiser it's 2010, you have my location and a website - you could really stand to use your website to disseminate relevant information.
Moving on, I gave up and called the flu clinic hotline number. After using the voice prompt system (it got my local facility on the second try), it played recorded information from December 7, 2009 that all vaccinations have been centralized at another location and that I would need to call another number! This is getting silly Kaiser. I suggest getting a blog or Twitter account so you could really get information out there. Here's an example of what life looks like in the future:
If you are looking for the Kaiser flu clinic in Walnut Creek, California - you can call the Kaiser Martinez Campus flu hotline at (925.372.1615) however, last night the recording stated:
As of Monday, January 4th - Seasonal & H1N1 vaccinations are available for all members.
There you go Kaiser and that took me 5 minutes and I don't work for you. You can't swing a stethoscope without hitting a social media consultant who can help, I bet you could start doing this in no time. I'll be waiting, patiently.
"It only hurts when I breathe in...or out."
If you are reading this in a feed reader then you are probably subscribed to my Feedburner-ized feed of shellen dot com, which is cool, but as of today I decided to stop blending in my Flickr photos. I still like Flickr, I still take photos like this recent one of my old Sony Sports Walkman, but it's mucking up some other things l've been using like Friendfeed and Tumblr with duplicate posts. If you still want to subscribe to my photos you can add this link to my Flickr stream or use this link if you use Google Reader. Thanks!(image)
I knew that after buying a fancy new camera, the Canon 50D, that Canon would release one with HD video soon. True to form, just a few months after I made my purchase Canon released the Canon 5D Mark II. I wasn't too sad, after all the camera was $1000 more than the one I had purchased. However, Canon announced another HD video enabled SLR for $1000 under what I had paid for the 50D, the EOS Digital Rebel TSi. As an early technology adopter this is not an uncommon occurrence for me, but I did end up on the unfortunate end of what appears to be a new era in digital photography and video technology. For the record, the Canon 50D is still a stellar still photo camera, but I see a video SLR swap in the future, perhaps the even newer 7D. Here's the side-by-side comparison on DPReview of all mentioned cameras.
Soon after the first of the HD video SLR's came out, stunning videos began to surface making full use of the great lenses available to still photographers. You had to wonder when they would make the next leap and see some real world professional usage. Today while watching a behind the scenes video about the making of the new Young Money - Bedrock video, I noticed that this video seems to use almost entirely video SLRs.
As pictured above, video SLRs pop-up all over the video. I would love to find out more about why they were chosen and how well it worked towards the end result. I know it's a hip-hop video and not high art or Avatar, but it marks an interesting milestone in my book in terms of great technology becoming more affordable for aspiring auteurs. Below is the entire behind the scenes video showing the video SLRs in action.
2010-01-01T20:24:37.975-08:00Flickr and Brizzly. So far, Brizzly is the easiest upload but I suspect that the compression used will make the photo look best on Flickr. I'll keep you posted on the results.
2009-12-31T22:30:48.994-08:00Counting this post, I blogged 11 times this year. I couldn't even manage a measly post a month. It wasn't for lack of things going on. I mostly hated the format of my blog and my whole media workflow. Photos on Flickr (and now Brizzly), status and jokes on Twitter (synced to Facebook), videos on YouTube, everything on Friendfeed, Reader and Tumblr. It's a mess. It's a mess I hope to sort out in 2010 but it's neither here nor there. I did give shellen.com a little makeover so maybe I'll stop hating it so much. A big help along the way, I'm using Typekit to give it a fresh new feel. Instead of an empty promise to blog more in 2010 maybe I should just plan to sort out this mess for you, me and everyone. Happy New Year and happy new media!(image)
2009-09-30T21:34:54.553-07:00Last week I had a little misunderstanding with Justine Bateman. Today, Alyssa Milano gave out invites to Brizzly to her followers on Twitter. Life is getting more surreal by the day. I'm angling for some sort of slap fight with Nicole Eggert next week.(image)
photo: Jason Shellen
Many happy returns. I'm glad you came along when you did. My life wouldn't have been the same without you. Thanks to Ev, Meg, Paul, Matt and Derek for dreaming up such a fun playground for me personally and professionally. Thanks to those who helped power the [b] during the hard times and for those keeping it real over at Google. You know who you are.(image)
A few hours ago I gave a preview of the web app that we have been working on at Thing Labs. It's called Brizzly and it's a fun, new way to use Twitter. Brizzly lets you do all the things you love on Twitter plus a bit more. We are still working on it and most notably the user interface isn't final, but Techcrunch wrote up a little piece about Brizzly and *cringe* has a video of my demo (which I haven't watched). The team at Thing Labs has been working really hard to get it ready for use, but the conference came up a little before we were ready to release to the world. Never fear, go to Brizzly.com and enter your info if you would like an invite and we'll send you one when we are ready. Also, how cute is the bear wearing a bird suit (if I don't say so myself)?(image)
Illustration by Peter Arkle
I had the pleasure of being quoted in the NYT Magazine today in an article about Plinky. The article speaks for itself and I thought Rob Walker did a nice job. One thing I've been meaning to write about more is what's coming next for Plinky. The article touches on this:
"Shellen says his company has more projects in the works that are “centered on conversation” but for the moment has been learning more about what sorts of prompts are effective."
More on this soon, I promise.(image)
Last night my old friend Biz Stone appeared on the Stephen Colbert Show on Comedy Central. I'm stoked for Biz and the whole Twitter team. Their mainstream media mentions and appearances don't seem to be slowing down. Evan Williams was on Charlie Rose and they were profiled on Nightline. If you didn't catch Colbert live last night you can see the full clip embedded below.
I've been friends with Biz for a while now but we not met in real life back in 2001. However, that didn't stop us from becoming arch-nemeses, cordially of course. All the same time, I really wasn't too sure about a guy who referred to himself as "genius" and his smart aleck style of writing wasn't helping things. In 2003 when we finally met at a blogging conference I found out that he is actually one of the nicest guys around. We had to end our pretend feud. We were able to hire him onto the Blogger team at Google in October 2003 which Biz of course wrote up jokingly as an acquisition of Genius Labs. After spending years working with Biz I can't help but read anything he writes in classic Biz Stone-style. I'm glad the rest of America gets a glimpse into the kind of fun Biz brings to any project.(embed)
While we are getting truthy, a minor correction to a Techcrunch post about a rumored sale of Twitter to Google. Michael Arrington writes:
...it’s a brilliant deal for Google - the value of Twitter is only going to go up over time. And it will be Twitter founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone’s second sale to Google - they sold Blogger to them just five years ago.
It's would be Ev's second sale (if it were true) however, as mentioned above, Biz was brought on in late 2003 and wasn't part of the Ev, Steve, Rudy, Jason, Jason and Jason team. It is interesting to note that one Jason, Rudy and Steve are at Twitter though. Go (old) team!(image)
2009-06-22T20:40:01.370-07:00As a former Google product manager and current entrepreneur, people often email me to ask for advice in a number of areas. One of the recurring variants is a request that goes something like this:"I have an idea for a site or service. It's going to be bigger than the disco ball! I don't really know how this technology stuff works but maybe I could tell you my idea?" What comes next is usually a variation of "...and then you could help me build it, sell it, promote it, show me how it's done or something else?"Still other email are from small start-up founders who want to know what the secret trick is to building a great product or to take a look at their new creations.First of all, it's flattering that people like the products I've helped build enough to seek me out. As a busy CEO of a venture-backed start-up I unfortunately don't always have a lot of spare time to dig in and help out, so here are a few of my fundamental thoughts on entrepreneurship, building products and how I can help.I'm not a technical personSurprise, neither am I. In fact, I've never taken a single Computer Science or Business Administration class. I received a BA in Fine Arts from a small liberal arts college. I thought I was going to go on to Cal Arts to study animation and work for Disney or Pixar, but the web came along and my plans changed. To this day, I'm at my best when I am behind the drivers seat in Photoshop or Illustrator sketching out new product ideas or at the whiteboard designing rough sketches of future web applications. As long as you can communicate with technical people, you'll be in fine shape.Execution is underratedI have a belief that ideas come down to execution. Great ideas are a dime a dozen but in the end the one's that emerge successful are the one's that have persevered and made something special.The same idea in the hands of different people have many different outcomes. For example: for every Google there are 50 search companies that ended disastrously. Google executed well and refined and refined a core idea that wasn't necessarily unique. Some ideas when executed well take off and others fail to capture the imagination.If you think it's interesting, make a demoIf someone came to me and said, "Here's my great idea, but I want tobe paid for it if it's good." I would probably shoo them away -implement your idea, even as a simple demo you have 10x morelikelihood of being taken seriously. Venture capital or even angel money is rarely given to people who don't have a working demo. Product managers and engineers at top software companies usually need a demo to continue development and receive support from their superiors. If you can't code, make friends.Version: PerfectNo one ships something perfect right out the gate. If you are doing it right, there is a good chance you will throw away most of the code every 6 - 18 months. Hell, sometimes you'll throw away the first product. Premature optimization is usually the main stumbling block of any small team. Go fast and learn from mistakes.The competitionAim high. Don't think of your competition as the other guys in a garage, aim at someone who doesn't know you are coming and potentially someone who wouldn't see it coming until it's too late. Don't worry about the other guys doing similar things unless they are doing 100% the same thing. Have a long term vision and imagine what wild success would look like if your service or product takes off.You are what you readIf you aren't already reading Paul Graham or Joel on Software then I highly recommend subscribing. Paul works with many start-ups and Jo[...]
I've been sick with a cold. Not any cold, but some super human cold to end all colds. I'm finally feeling better and I've ingested my share of ibuprofen, Sudafed, codeine cough syrup, Tylenol PM, pho, hot tea, home-made soup (thanks Allie), but mostly a bunch of movies. My eyes have been hurting so a lot of the time I just listened to the movies.
Since last Friday I've re-watched (or listened to): Mission Impossible 3, Wedding Crashers, Singles, Batman Begins and watched for the first time: Hitch, Step Brothers, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist. The re-watches were all good to great, the first timers - almost every last one of them horrible. I've learned that when you are sick, go with what you know.
Sequels in general make for great movie watching when you are sick, because plot details don't matter as much and the fact that it's not as good as the original won't matter as much. Plus you have probably already seen it a few times so you can doze off for periods of time and the story still makes sense.
(image) I recommend Back to the Future II or BTTF II as we true fans call it. It's not as good as the first but definitely better than the old West flying train piece of junk that came out after it. Lot's of Biff getting his just desserts and Marty's girlfriend gets upgraded from nameless actress to Elisabeth Shue between BTTF 1 and 2. Not bad! Other things to love about this one mainly appear in the future, Nike self-lacing shoes, Mattel Hover Boards, hover cars, 3-D advertising and a fax machine in every room of the home.
For my money what's better than a movie about the future when being sick essentially puts you in a wormhole to next week anyway.
Try to avoid tense movies like MI3 or The Dark Night, I learned my lesson the hard way. Other recommended sequels would include: Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi.
Roads? Where you're going you don't need roads... Motrin maybe but no roads.(image)
President Obama has had his chance at picking a Cabinet and he's done a fine job so far. It's hard to pick from a crop of only real human beings so any fictitious characters are noted with an asterisk, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't be great.
Secretary of State Now maybe this one is too easy, but he does have a great sense of what's askew in America and could deliver bad news with a humorous delivery. Also his Bush impression kills me.
Attorney General You remember Clair? She was the Mom on The Cosby Show but she was also a whip smart lawyer. Do you think she would let any of this crazy "Is it torture? It's not torture" stuff slide? Would there be any doubt that she would get to the bottom of who leaked an American spies name to the press? When Theo and Walter decide to listen to a recording of "Macbeth" instead of reading the book, who would set them straight? Clair Huxtable that's who.
Secretary of Looking Fabulous Currently Mayor of SF but that head of hair is too good to waste on one city. If there were any younger Kennedy men around that wanted anything to do with politics then Gavin might have competition. This does require creating a Department of Looking Fabulous, but with the success of all these make-over shows - I think America could get behind it.
Chief of Staff Smart, known for keeping her co-workers productive and funny. Is there anything she can't do? I think she would also be motivated to make sure she never needs to resurrect the Palin impersonation.
Iron Man / Tony Stark *
Secretary of Defense. Technically I don't think the Iron Man suit would fit into a Hermann Miller chair in the briefing room. Of course this is America and we could probably get a government contractor to whip something up to the tune of $500K that would work for Tony/IronMan to use while be-suited. On second thought, let's just make him stand at meetings.
My sons Drew and Miles and Allison are my real posse but if I were a famous rapper with loads of spare time to terrorize restaurants and act badly at retail clothing stores this would be the crew to hit the town with.
Every posse needs someone making the boss laugh. Have you seen the Kanye West video for "Can't Tell Me Nothing?" with Zach? The guy is all hip hop.
Mike "Money" Brandt
Aside from every crew needing a "Mike" (get one if you don't have one), he's got mad b-boy skillz from the early 90's. An old friend from back in the day on the mean streets of Fremont, CA. Former-basketball player, perfect for all occasions.
Taylor "Lil Bro" Shellen
Isn't there some sort of law that every posse needs a least one sibling? Plus Taylor is in better shape than I and could escort haters to the door. I think anything past 3 in a posse starts to get weird so I think that's the list.
It feels like I've been up for about a week straight but we launched Plinky today. Much more on that tomorrow for now, go and give it a spin!(image) (image)
I'm featured in an article on CNN today called: They left the corporate cocoon to blossom. The article is about people like Vanessa Fox and I who left cushy gigs at big companies to strike out on our own. Highly recommended reading *ahem*.
A couple points of clarification about the article:
For all of you who have been waiting for Plinky... it's just around the corner. More on that soon.(image)
Ivor Tossell's interesting theory on the differences between Facebook and Twitter in The Globe and Mail:
"Facebook is about people you used to know; Twitter is about people you'd like to know better."
This seems to hold true in my experience, how about you?(image)