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Moonwatcher



Charlie Wood tracks the emergence of the New Web Order.



Updated: 2013-11-06T09:39:12-06:00

 



A Call for Quiet

2013-11-06T10:03:55-06:00

Too much information Running through my brain Too much information Driving me insane —The Police This is a call for quiet. Our world is increasingly saturated with information. Computers generate it. Sensors record it. The internet in all its various...

Too much information
Running through my brain
Too much information
Driving me insane
—The Police

This is a call for quiet.

Our world is increasingly saturated with information. Computers generate it. Sensors record it. The internet in all its various forms transmits it, faster and faster. Devices in our pockets, on our wrists, on our desks and walls, and attached to our faces force it into our consciousness. It's too much.

It all started with the noblest of intentions: to inform. But then, propelled by the profit motive, the inexorable march of technology, and our own innate desire for more, it spun out of control. Now information is crowding out the better parts of our lives.

We must reclaim our sanity, our quiet. We must establish personal space in which to reflect, daydream, and hear things said only softly. We must insulate ourselves from the din. We must regain control.

This is a call for quiet. For less noise, so that we can hear the signal. Or, if we so choose, that we can hear nothing at all.

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The trouble with our increasing clock speed

2013-05-05T08:44:03-05:00

Remember GATO, the submarine game? It assumed you had a 4.77MHz 8088 processor, because that's what every IBM PC in the world had. It ran as fast as it could, and it was the right speed. Then turbo PC's came...

(image) Remember GATO, the submarine game? It assumed you had a 4.77MHz 8088 processor, because that's what every IBM PC in the world had. It ran as fast as it could, and it was the right speed. Then turbo PC's came out, and the 286 AT, and then the 386. And GATO sucked on those computers—it was unplayable because it ran too fast. There was a surfeit of processor speed.

Modern games don't assume anything about the speed of the processor. They measure time by clock ticks, not processor cycles. So they run at the same speed no matter what the speed of the chip.

We need to do the same. For so long, we've consumed as much information as we could, paid attention to as many things as possible, because even at their maximum speed they didn't overwhelm us. Now they do. We need to throttle these things. To set a clock tick that's independent of the speed of the information.

I suspect the clock ticks were established a long time ago and we've just learned to ignore them. Daily rituals. Weekly rhythms. Monthly cadence. Seasonal events. Traditions. And we get a lot of these from the clock speed of the world around us: the rising and setting of the sun, the waxing and waning of the moon, the cycle of the seasons.

I think it would be at least useful and maybe imperative that we start to pay attention to these clock ticks again. Map our information intake to them. Read the paper in the morning, even if by "the paper" we mean Flipboard, and then put it away. Spend time with some friends during the day, even if they're on Facebook or Twitter, and then put it away. Take a break for lunch—without staring into a screen. Spend time with your family—without staring into a screen. Read a book at night, even if it must be on a Kindle. Wake up not to an alarm but to your own internal rhythm. Don't work on Sundays, or Saturdays if you choose. Get outside for an least an hour every day. At least! Know what the weather is without having to be told. Sense the lengthening days during Spring. Fly a kite, have a picnic. Feel the heat of Summer. Swim in a lake, take a vacation. Watch the leaves turn in Fall. Take a long hike through the forest. Take in the stark chill of WInter. Build fires in the morning. Spend time with extended family during Christmas.

Through it all, we don't have to become hermits. But we must not allow ourselves to continue being junkies.

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You would prefer another target? A military target? Then name the system!

2013-05-04T10:41:27-05:00

Today being May the Fourth Be With You, I started wondering how well we really got to know each of the characters in Star Wars. So I did what any nerd would do: I found the script for Episode IV:...

Today being May the Fourth Be With You, I started wondering how well we really got to know each of the characters in Star Wars. So I did what any nerd would do: I found the script for Episode IV: A New Hope and ran a quick and dirty analysis. Here are the results:

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Note that not all the lines in this version of the script made it into the movie: it includes a few from Luke's friend Fixer and lots from Biggs that got cut. Also, I'm only showing counts for characters with more than ten lines. (Aunt Beru missed the cut by three.)

So it really is the story of a farm boy, his friends, and his family. And, you know, storm troopers.

May the Force be with you.

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My Dog Jake

2013-05-03T10:18:51-05:00

JAKE 1999-2013
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JAKE 1999-2013

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The Emerging Mobile+Cloud Stack and Its Natural Owners

2012-01-14T15:28:46-06:00

Apple is set to launch iCloud in the next few days, and with it Steve Jobs plans to move the center of your digital life to the cloud. Amazon just announced the Kindle Fire, which Jeff Bezos calls a service,... Apple is set to launch iCloud in the next few days, and with it Steve Jobs plans to move the center of your digital life to the cloud. Amazon just announced the Kindle Fire, which Jeff Bezos calls a service, not a tablet. When you buy a new Android phone or tablet, the first thing it asks you to do is connect it to your Google account. Even Microsoft is stumbling in the right direction. Computing is moving to the cloud in a big way. Mobile is exploding in a big way. And they're two sides of the same coin. I believe that when the inevitable consolidation happens, the companies left standing will be the ones that own the whole stack—from the dirt on which the data center is built, up through the servers, storage, and networking gear inside the building, to the cloud apps running on that infrastructure, to the mobile apps, operating system, and hardware in the user's hand. Apple, Amazon, and Google all do this now. They allow third parties to augment that stack where it makes sense (which varies with each company's business model) and keep tight control everywhere else. It's interesting to see companies that don't yet own components at every level of the stack grapple with it. Mobile device makers are rushing to add cloud storage and sync services to their offerings. HTC is bundling Dropbox service with some of its phones. HP planned to bundle Box.Net with its TouchPad before Léo killed that whole thing. Samsung is reportedly building its own cloud services. Similarly, cloud service providers are beginning to move down the stack, eschewing the relative ease and convenience of Amazon Web Services for the economies of scale available to those who build their own data centers. And some companies that might not come to mind when you think of either "cloud" or "mobile" are turning out to be surprisingly well-positioned. Dude, you're getting a data center. The future is clear, at least in broad strokes. The next 10+ years of computing will be defined by vertically integrated stacks of technology that span mobile and cloud computing. It's going to be fascinating to see how it plays out. .bbpBox{background:url(http://a0.twimg.com/images/themes/theme1/bg.png) #C0DEED;padding:20px;}Amzn, Aapl, and Goog now all have intgratd hw divs bldng their tblets. Will Msft the outlier buy Dell or HP's PC Div? http://t.co/i95FSMIMFri Sep 30 05:33:30 via Twitter for BlackBerry®Marc BenioffBenioff [...]



On Apple's Big Move to the Cloud

2011-09-19T17:14:56-05:00

Yesterday Steve Jobs introduced iCloud, saying, "We're going to move the digital hub—the center of your digital life—to the cloud," and concluding his presentation with an admonition: "If you don't think we're serious about this, you're wrong." Apple is the... Yesterday Steve Jobs introduced iCloud, saying, "We're going to move the digital hub—the center of your digital life—to the cloud," and concluding his presentation with an admonition: "If you don't think we're serious about this, you're wrong." Apple is the last of what Eric Schmidt recently called the "Gang of Four", which also includes Google, Amazon, and Facebook, to bet big on the cloud. And even though Schmidt left them out of his list, Microsoft is joining the club too. But Apple's cloud strategy is unique in that it essentially embeds the cloud in their desktop and mobile platforms. Google, Facebook, and Amazon are cloud natives—users access their services primarily with a web browser. They offer web API's that enable other companies to write applications of any kind (desktop, mobile, or cloud) to interact with them and share data. But Apple's iCloud APIs, at least those offered so far, are limited to developers of applications for iOS and OS X. Some will certainly argue this is a closed approach, and unnecessarily restrictive. But to Apple, it's about ensuring quality. Jobs said, "A competitor that doesn't own the apps or doesn't have great developers to integrate with their apps, they can never do this—they can never make it so 'it just works'—and that's what we've done here." And iCloud does indeed deliver a seamlessly integrated experience. I can create a document on my iPad (or presumably my Mac) and it shows up on my iPhone. I don't have to think about how that happened, or configure anything to make it work. And that happens with apps not only from from Apple but also from third-party developers. Apple is subsuming over-the-air sync into their platform and exposing it to developers at the platform level. And for Apple, iOS and OS X, not the cloud, are the platform. To Apple, the cloud is just plumbing. It's a radically different approach than we've seen from the cloud-native companies. Microsoft's approach may resemble Apple's most closely, but their cloud integration is being done within Office, not within Windows. It will be interesting to see which model wins. With 200 million potential iCloud users on day one, Apple is set to go from being an also-ran in the cloud world to one its biggest players. And as always, they're playing by their own rules. Game on. [...]



So, Mr. Bootstrap took venture funding, huh?

2011-04-15T08:50:52-05:00

Longtime readers of this blog will know that I'm a big fan of bootstrapping. Instead of putting together a pretty pitch deck and hitting Sand Hill Road (or 300 W. Sixth Street, as the case may be) I've long preferred...Longtime readers of this blog will know that I'm a big fan of bootstrapping. Instead of putting together a pretty pitch deck and hitting Sand Hill Road (or 300 W. Sixth Street, as the case may be) I've long preferred the model where you open up the IDE, build something valuable, find a few people who'll pay you money for it, and iterate. Growth may be slower, but it's real and you're beholden unto no one. When we built Spanning Sync, we invested months of nights and weekends writing the code. Before we launched, we worked out a great deal with a key supplier that allowed us to scale up while paying for only what we needed, which allowed us to spend only $2,500 before we started selling our product. I put that amount on my credit card, and before the bill was due we had brought in more than that in revenue. We were cash-flow positive literally from day one, and went on to make millions. Bootstrapping was perfect for that business, and made me a champion of the model. So why did Spanning Cloud Apps take $2M in venture funding last week? The answer is simple: opportunity cost. Before we even started building Spanning Backup, we knew it would be valuable to a lot of people. We had been operating Spanning Sync for several years, and despite endless admonitions to users to make backups, had seen one user after another lose data, usually due to a botched sync with some badly-behaved application or device. When OS X 10.5 Leopard was released, the first thing it did after installation was instruct all Sync Services clients to delete everything. Doh! We also heard from lots of people who had accidentally deleted their calendars, corrupted their contacts, or otherwise goofed up their Google data and were in desperate need of help. Based on this experience, several years' worth of real-world data, and some educated guesses as to how the backup market would be different than sync, we made some projections. Then we plotted the growth we'd be able to manage by bootstrapping against the projected opportunity and saw a mismatch. In the time it would take us to grow organically to scale, we'd leave a ton of opportunity on the table. In order to capitalize on the opportunity, we'd need to grow faster than that. Which meant outside investment. I've been down the VC-funded road a few times before. I've seen it work spectacularly well, middlingly, and terribly. I've dealt with bad VC's, mediocre VC's, and awesome VC's. I knew that if I were going to sell a significant part of my young company, I'd want to work only with investors whom I respect, with whom I'd worked before, and who have significant experience and presence in our industry. So I called the guys at Foundry. Happily, they liked what they saw and now we're partners in this business. I'm still a huge fan of bootstrapping, and I believe that every entrepreneur should build a profitable business from scratch at least once before trying to do it with outside investors. There are lessons there you can only learn by doing. But it's not the best model for every situation, and knowing which funding model is appropriate at what time is, I believe, necessary to maximize success. [...]



Spanning Cloud Apps Raises $2 Million Series A Round of Venture Funding From Foundry Group

2011-04-07T05:53:37-05:00

Cross-posted from the Spanning Backup Blog: Austin, TX – April 6, 2011 — Spanning Cloud Apps, the makers of Spanning Backup for Google Apps, today announced that the company has secured $2 million of funding from Foundry Group, a Boulder-based... Cross-posted from the Spanning Backup Blog: Austin, TX – April 6, 2011 — Spanning Cloud Apps, the makers of Spanning Backup for Google Apps, today announced that the company has secured $2 million of funding from Foundry Group, a Boulder-based venture capital firm. Launched in September 2010 and spun out of Spanning Sync, Inc., Spanning Cloud Apps will apply the resources to continue to build on the company's growing portfolio of cloud applications for Google Apps as well accelerate development of complementary solutions for other major cloud service providers. Spanning Backup is the highest-rated Security & Compliance app in the Google Apps Marketplace, is among the highest-rated paid apps overall, and has already backed up more than 1 billion documents, calendar events, and contacts for Google Apps users. "When Google Apps customers learn about Spanning Backup, their first question isn't, ‘How much does it cost?' but rather, ‘How soon can we turn it on?'" said Charlie Wood, Spanning Cloud Apps founder and CEO. "We help a lot of Google Apps admins sleep a lot better at night." The Austin-based company has also added Seth Levine, Managing Director at the Foundry Group, to its board of directors. "We couldn't be happier to work with Seth and the rest of the Foundry team," said Wood. "With Foundry's support and deep experience in the market we plan to extend our lead in Google Apps backup and use that leadership position to build out a broad portfolio of cloud apps." "It's very exciting to work with fresh and ambitious companies such as Spanning Cloud Apps," said Seth Levine, Managing Director at Foundry Group. "The caliber of the team and their proven ability to execute made them a very strong fit at Foundry Group. We're very excited to help this team achieve its very ambitious goals." Spanning Cloud Apps' flasghip product, Spanning Backup, continually backs up Google Apps data to the cloud. While Google's infrastructure includes extremely sophisticated internal disaster recovery capabilities, Spanning Backup provides backup and restore functionality for Google Apps users and administrators. The product provides simple, always-on protection against accidental and malicious data loss and corruption. For more information, please visit spanningbackup.com. About Spanning Cloud Apps Founded in 2010 and spun out of Spanning Sync, Inc., Spanning Cloud Apps is a cloud-based application developer focused on backup solutions for today's most widely adopted cloud-computing suites including Google Apps. Spanning Backup, the company's flagship product, is the top-rated backup solution for Google Apps users and administrators. The company is backed by Foundry Group, and is based in Austin, Texas. For more information, please visit spanning.com. About Foundry Group Foundry Group is a venture capital firm focused on investing in early-stage information technology, Internet, and software startups. In addition to providing the necessary venture capital to get a company up and running, Foundry Group is committed to leveraging their experience in starting and growing companies, expertise in the technology industry, and network of relationships to help great entrepreneurs turn great ideas into great companies. Foundry Group is based in Boulder, Colorado, and invests in companies located across the United States. For more information, please visit foundrygroup.com. Press Contact:Josh Jones-DilworthJones-Dilworth Inc.josh@jones-dilworth.com917-209-2956 [...]



My NZ Photo on CNN Travel

2011-01-24T05:27:09-06:00

CNN published one of my New Zealand photos on their travel site: Cool!

CNN published one of my New Zealand photos on their travel site:

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Cool!

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The Ten-Year "Overnight Success" of Cloud Computing in the Enterprise

2011-01-11T09:49:40-06:00

Often what looks like overnight success is actually the result of years of hard, grinding work. Look around today and you might think that cloud computing in the enterprise is some new thing that's happened overnight. Giants like SAP have...

Often what looks like overnight success is actually the result of years of hard, grinding work.

Look around today and you might think that cloud computing in the enterprise is some new thing that's happened overnight. Giants like SAP have been caught flat-footed and are playing catch-up. Microsoft is struggling to turn the ship. But those guys remind me of the castle guards in the Lancelot skit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail:

(object) (embed)

They've seen their attacker coming for a while, they've just misjudged its speed and distance.

"Ha-HA!!"

Cloud computing in the enterprise isn't an overnight success. It's been coming for a long time. And it's moving really fast.

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ChromeOS is a Very Big Deal

2011-01-03T05:41:04-06:00

Cross-posted from the Spanning Backup Blog by Charlie Wood, founder, Spanning Cloud Apps Google's ChromeOS is a very big deal. Well, not yet, but it will be. However, some very clever people disagree so I thought it might be useful... Cross-posted from the Spanning Backup Blog by Charlie Wood, founder, Spanning Cloud Apps Google's ChromeOS is a very big deal. Well, not yet, but it will be. However, some very clever people disagree so I thought it might be useful to go through my rationale for believing what I do. Let me first make a disclaimer: I'm a big fan of Google. For the last four years I've made a living selling apps like Spanning Sync and Spanning Backup that complement Google's own applications. In fact, Spanning Sync was one of the first apps listed in the Google Apps Marketplace and Spanning Backup was one of the first applications available on the Chrome Web Store. I run my business using an array of Google tools. And I've made a tidy profit off of Google stock, although I don't own any now. So I have a pro-Google bias. With that out of the way, let's zoom way out and look at the macro picture of what's happening in personal computing these days. I almost wrote, "what's happening on the web these days," but decided that showed a prejudice, so I'll instead talk about "personal computing", a phrase we haven't really used in the past fifteen years or so. And why is that? We all still use personal computers, right? Be they Macs or PCs, they're still the machines we use to do our, uh, computing. Sure, we have our iPhones, iPads, Android devices, and whatnot, but I don't know anyone who uses one of those devices exclusively. Everyone still uses personal computers. So why don't we talk about "personal computing" any more? Because everything interesting happens on the web. So we talk about what's happening on the web, or maybe more generally on the Internet. Of course not everything we do with our personal computers involves the web. I'm typing this document on a word processor (Pages) running locally on my notebook computer (MacBook Pro). When I recently returned from a vacation to New Zealand, I transferred my digital photos from my camera to an application (iPhoto) running on my Mac. Yesterday I bought a bunch of music for my wife from Amazon and will burn it all to a CD using an application (iTunes) running on the same machine. So no, the web isn't the end-all be-all of computing. But it is where the most interesting stuff is happening. Let's ignore for a moment the old standards of computing—word processing, spreadsheets, databases, and presentations from the 80's, photos and music from the 90's—and instead look at the applications of the current decade (whatever we're calling it—have we decided yet?). Google is a web application. Facebook is a web application. Twitter is a web application. So are YouTube, LinkedIn, and, well, I was going to say Gmail but that's three Google properties in a list of six, which doesn't seem quite fair. HotMail? (Is that still around?) Anyway, you get the idea. The things people use—real people who don't work in technology, who don't read TechCrunch, and who don't have an opinion as to whether or not OpenID sucks (it does)—the interesting things normal people use are web applications. And the less-interesting things they've used since the 80's and 90's have web-app substitutes. So the web is where it's at. But you probably knew that before I started rambling, so let's move on. The copy of Microsoft Windows running on your PC has little to do with the web other than the fact that it runs Internet Explorer or some other browser. Your PC, in fact, has little to do with the web other than the fact that it runs an operating system that runs a web browser. Which is quite shockin[...]



New Zealand Photos

2011-01-02T06:34:46-06:00

Here are a few HDR photos from my recent trip to New Zealand. I'm still learning the technique, but I mostly like how these turned out.

Here are a few HDR photos from my recent trip to New Zealand. I'm still learning the technique, but I mostly like how these turned out.

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(embed) wmode="transparent" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowScriptAccess="always" allowNetworking="all" height="450" width="450">

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Total Lunar Eclipse Tonight

2010-12-20T06:12:42-06:00

There will be a total lunar eclipse tonight, with totality between 1:41a and 2:43a Austin time. This is the first such event to fall on the Winter Solstice since 1683. The forecast for Austin calls for mostly cloudy skies tonight...

(image) There will be a total lunar eclipse tonight, with totality between 1:41a and 2:43a Austin time. This is the first such event to fall on the Winter Solstice since 1683.

The forecast for Austin calls for mostly cloudy skies tonight after midnight with patchy fog. Not the best viewing conditions, but still worth staying (or, like me, getting) up for.

My dad would have called me to tell me about this. I'll make it a point to wake up and witness this celestial event. I know that in his younger days he would have.

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My Dad Died

2010-12-19T05:42:42-06:00

My dad died a few days ago after a years-long battle with multiple sclerosis. He had been getting steadily worse for a long time (as is usually the case with MS), had been in bad shape the last eight months...

(image) My dad died a few days ago after a years-long battle with multiple sclerosis. He had been getting steadily worse for a long time (as is usually the case with MS), had been in bad shape the last eight months or so, and took a turn for the worse last week. It wasn't unexpected, but it still seemed sudden. He and I had a chance to talk a couple of days before his death, and I think we both knew it might be our last chance. I'm really glad we got to say goodbye. Lots of people never get to.

Here's the obituary that ran in the Statesman:

Charles Burnett Wood of Austin, Texas, retired lawyer and municipal judge, passed away on December 14, 2010 at the age of 71 after a lengthy battle with multiple sclerosis. He was born on January 5, 1939 in Austin, attended Austin High School, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Texas School of Law. He served in the U.S. Air Force, and was president of the Bachelors Club of Austin and a member of the Admirals Club. He is survived by his two children Martha and Charlie, and his two grandsons Sam and Hudson.

A memorial service will be held at 11am on Monday, December 20 at Covenant Presbyterian Church.

He had been in pain and discomfort for a long, long time. I'm very glad that he no longer is. When we last spoke, he said, "It's a tough thing facing your own demise. But it's been quite an adventure."

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If everything the Tea Party says were actually true

2010-10-29T05:48:12-05:00

From an email from my friend Dylan Tynan: To add extra zest, just pretend everything the Tea Party says is actually true... We have a religious government run by an unholy covenant between government socialists, the janitor's union, wall-street capitalists,...

From an email from my friend Dylan Tynan:

To add extra zest, just pretend everything the Tea Party says is actually true...

We have a religious government run by an unholy covenant between government socialists, the janitor's union, wall-street capitalists, auto companies, abortionists, atheists, and illegal immigrants. This cabal is led by a secret socialist Kenyan muslim svengali. The cabal's agenda is to bankrupt the country by giving away reparations to slaves, health-care to illegal aliens, bailouts to auto companies and wallstreet, and entitlements to minorities. While bankrupting the country they'll also destroy its reputation by apologizing to every country and bowing to their leaders. They'll destroy the military by allowing gays to declare themselves as gay while serving in the military and they'll destroy marriage by allowing gays to marry. They will destroy the Constitution by ignoring the 2nd amendment and taking away everyone's guns and ammunition. They will destroy our souls and our system of law by implementing Sharia law, which is allowed by the Constitution. And, finally, they'll destroy our core Americanism by not always wearing flag pins on their lapels.

This cabal will be battled by a holy covenant of witches, libertarians, game-hunters, anachronists, secessionists, wrestling executives, racists, and talk radio hosts. This alliance will keep the evil cabal from destroying our government by quickly eliminating at-risk government programs like social security, food stamps, and workplace laws, and disbanding at-risk government agencies like the FDA, the IRS, the CIA, and the State Department. They'll prevent a Muslim takeover of the remaining government by bonding the government with an amalgam of fundamentalist Christianity and Mormonism and just a dash of Wiccan. They'll raise revenue by taxing the poor and reducing taxes on the rich in order to spur growth. Poor people will be taxed the most, making them work harder in order to attain wealth, while the rich will be taxed the least in order to maximize the trickle-down effect. The minimum wage and food stamps will be eliminated in order to increase productivity and reduce costs. They'll create jobs by employing people to find and remove the 12 million illegal immigrants hiding within our borders. They'll save the Constitution by interpreting it as if it was 1776 and they'll save the Union by running the country as if it were 1776. They will always wear their flag pins on their lapels ... they would wear two, but that seems a little too Marxist.

Reproduced with permission.

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Spanning Backup Supports Google's New Two-Factor Authentication

2010-09-21T20:24:55-05:00

Cross-posted from the Spanning Backup Blog: Google recently announced the availability of two-factor authentication for Google Apps Premier, Education, and Government Editions, and we're proud to announce that Spanning Backup fully supports this important new technology. Here's how it works:...

Cross-posted from the Spanning Backup Blog:

Google recently announced the availability of two-factor authentication for Google Apps Premier, Education, and Government Editions, and we're proud to announce that Spanning Backup fully supports this important new technology. Here's how it works:

(image) Two-step verification is easy to set up, manage and use. When enabled by an administrator, it requires two means of identification to sign in to a Google Apps account, something you know: a password, and something you have: a mobile phone. It doesn’t require any special tokens or devices. After entering your password, a verification code is sent to your mobile phone via SMS, voice calls, or generated on an application you can install on your Android, BlackBerry or iPhone device. This makes it much more likely that you’re the only one accessing your data: even if someone has stolen your password, they'll need more than that to access your account

Unlike our competitors, Spanning Backup is integrated with OpenID-based single sign-on for Google Apps users. Now with its support for Google's new two-factor authentication, our users can feel even more confident that their data is secure.

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Startups: Two Ways to Fly

2010-09-17T12:36:09-05:00

It seems to me there are two ways to fly: Design and build an airplane, fuel it, and take off. Stand in a field, flap your arms, and wait for a tornado. Humorously, it's the arm-flappers who seem to get...

It seems to me there are two ways to fly:

  1. Design and build an airplane, fuel it, and take off.
  2. Stand in a field, flap your arms, and wait for a tornado.
Humorously, it's the arm-flappers who seem to get the most attention in the tech startup world.

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A Lesson I'll Never Forget

2010-09-05T19:22:06-05:00

During my pilot training I reached the point where it was time to learn to land. Since landing is more challenging than the other phases of flight, I felt some trepidation. Sensing this, my instructor said matter-of-factly, "You're going to...

During my pilot training I reached the point where it was time to learn to land. Since landing is more challenging than the other phases of flight, I felt some trepidation. Sensing this, my instructor said matter-of-factly, "You're going to make a hundred bad landings before you make a good one. Let's get started." And we did.

I only made a handful of marginal landings—and none I would call bad—before I solidified my technique.

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New AppleTV in Perspective

2010-09-01T13:39:16-05:00

Yes, this is to scale. Crazy.

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Yes, this is to scale.

Crazy.

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Solitude and Leadership

2010-08-13T08:09:55-05:00

From Solitude and Leadership by William Deresiewicz: We have a crisis of leadership in America because our overwhelming power and wealth, earned under earlier generations of leaders, made us complacent, and for too long we have been training leaders who...

From Solitude and Leadership by William Deresiewicz:

We have a crisis of leadership in America because our overwhelming power and wealth, earned under earlier generations of leaders, made us complacent, and for too long we have been training leaders who only know how to keep the routine going. Who can answer questions, but don't know how to ask them. Who can fulfill goals, but don't know how to set them. Who think about how to get things done, but not whether they're worth doing in the first place. What we have now are the greatest technocrats the world has ever seen, people who have been trained to be incredibly good at one specific thing, but who have no interest in anything beyond their area of expertise. What we don't have are leaders.

Read the whole thing. It's worth it.

HT @scottmcmullan

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Spanning Backup Launches, $10 Off for Spanning Sync Customers

2010-07-27T07:07:42-05:00

Cross-posted from the Spanning Backup Blog After months of beta testing, Spanning Backup for Google Apps has launched. Since the beta began, we've backed up over 100 million calendar events, contacts, and docs for our users. That's 100 million fewer... Cross-posted from the Spanning Backup Blog After months of beta testing, Spanning Backup for Google Apps has launched. Since the beta began, we've backed up over 100 million calendar events, contacts, and docs for our users. That's 100 million fewer things they have to worry about. Now the ability to back up Google Calendar, Contacts, and Docs is commercially available at spanningbackup.com. Data loss and corruption is a serious problem for Google Apps users. Browse through the Google Apps help forums and you'll find hundreds of posts from users who have lost their data and need help. The usual reply, when one is given, is, "Sorry, your data is gone for good." If those users had been using Spanning Backup, they'd be able to restore their data with just a couple of clicks. Clay Spinuzzi is an associate professor at the University of Texas and an early user of Spanning Backup. Here's what he has so say: I've been using Google Docs almost daily since 2006, and I'm totally sold on cloud-based word processing. But how about cloud-based backups? For years, I had to safeguard my thousands of documents, spreadsheets, and presentations by manually downloading them once a week - and I always worried that I would miss something. But with Spanning Backup, I never have to worry about backups. Backup is dependable, browsing files is easy, and restoring a file is transparent. It just works. Spanning Backup is a pure cloud-based application built on Amazon Web Services (EC2, S3, SQS, EBS, CloudFront, and CloudWatch) and is designed to scale to millions of users. It uses a number of Google API's (Calendar, Contacts, DocList, Docs, Spreadsheets, Provisioning, AuthSub, and OpenID Federated Login) and is natively integrated with the Google Apps Marketplace to support domain-wide provisioning and Google Universal Navigation. The service is available for individuals at spanningbackup.com or for entire Google Apps domains on the Google Apps Marketplace at spanningbackup.com/marketplace. After a 30-day free trial period, a subscription costs $3.95/month or $39.95/year per user. Educational, non-profit, and volume discounts are available. Spanning Sync customers get an automatic $10 discount off their first year's subscription. Spanning Sync, Inc., based in Austin, Texas, was founded in 2006 by Charlie Wood and Larry Hendricks. The company's eponymous product syncs calendars and contacts between Apple and Google applications. The company is profitable and has tens of thousands of customers in 58 countries. For more information please contact info@spanningbackup.com. [...]



'The New Polymath' is a Firehose of Innovation Stories

2010-07-05T09:59:23-05:00

For years Vinnie Mirchandani has chronicled all kinds of innovation on his his must-read blog New Florence. New Renaissance. Now he's taken his examination of technology and how it affects business to a whole new level with his new book...

(image) For years Vinnie Mirchandani has chronicled all kinds of innovation on his his must-read blog New Florence. New Renaissance. Now he's taken his examination of technology and how it affects business to a whole new level with his new book The New Polymath: Profiles in Compound-Technology Innovations.

New Polymath is a breathless run-through of the technological forces that are defining the new rules of business and the companies that are successfully harnessing those forces to succeed. (If that sentence hurt your brain, you might want to get a good night's sleep before diving into New Polymath.) While many business authors stretch what should have been an article into a book, Vinnie compresses what could have been a collection of business books into a single volume.

Vinnie's passion for innovation and sweeping knowledge of what's happening right now make New Polymath a fascinating read.

Disclosure: Vinnie is a friend of mine, and mentions my company in his book.

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Use Pixelpipe to upload full-quality HD videos from iPhone 4 to YouTube

2010-06-30T16:33:22-05:00

In my last post on this topic I said, "What I want is a way to shoot 720p video on my iPhone and upload it directly to the cloud without any loss of quality." Well, I found it. Pixelpipe is...

(image) In my last post on this topic I said, "What I want is a way to shoot 720p video on my iPhone and upload it directly to the cloud without any loss of quality." Well, I found it.

Pixelpipe is a free iPhone app and online service whose latest version lets you upload full 720p videos (up to 200MB) from your iPhone 4 to a variety of online services including YouTube. It even features queued uploads that work in the background, so your phone isn't tied up while you're pushing all those bits.

In my testing so far it's worked flawlessly and is exactly what I was looking for. It also performs a bunch of other functions, like uploading photos and routing your videos and photos to various social media channels, but I haven't looked into those yet.

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Quality suffers even more on iPhone 4 videos uploaded to MobileMe

2010-06-28T11:34:16-05:00

Following up on yesterday's post I just tried uploading a 720p video from my iPhone 4 to Apple's own MobileMe service. Disappointingly, the uploaded video was downsized from its original 1280x720 resolution to 568x320 and compressed from 12.9MB to 983KB....

Following up on yesterday's post I just tried uploading a 720p video from my iPhone 4 to Apple's own MobileMe service. Disappointingly, the uploaded video was downsized from its original 1280x720 resolution to 568x320 and compressed from 12.9MB to 983KB. The resulting loss of quality was, needless to say, significant.

What I want is a way to shoot 720p video on my iPhone and upload it directly to the cloud without any loss of quality.

It looks like SmugMug supports HD video with their $149/year Pro plan, but it's not clear whether their iPhone app allows uploading HD video, and given the number of reviews claiming it crashes when trying to upload video I'm not inclined to test it myself, at least not yet.

If anyone has any suggestions I'd love to hear them. Thanks!

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Quality suffers on YouTube videos uploaded directly from iPhone 4

2010-06-26T17:39:24-05:00

Since iPhone 4 can now capture 720p videos, I wondered if uploading them directly from the Camera app to YouTube would result in any loss of quality compared to syncing the iPhone with a Mac and then uploading from there....

Since iPhone 4 can now capture 720p videos, I wondered if uploading them directly from the Camera app to YouTube would result in any loss of quality compared to syncing the iPhone with a Mac and then uploading from there. The short answer is that yes, they do.

I shot a quick test video and uploaded it from my iPhone. Even though the original source was shot at 720p, the resulting YouTube video maxes out at 360p:

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I then transferred the same movie from my iPhone to my Mac with iTunes and uploaded it to YouTube via their web interface. The resulting video can be shown at the full 720p resolution:

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So if you want your iPhone videos to look best on YouTube, don't upload them directly from the device. Instead, sync them to your Mac or PC and upload them from there.

Anyone know if any video hosting services allow full-fidelity 720p uploads directly from the iPhone?

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Backup is even more important in the cloud

2010-06-01T10:20:45-05:00

Cross-posted from the Spanning Backup Blog The cloud is great. Your stuff is stored in only one place. No copies in email attachments, no copies on your laptop, your desktop, and your server. Make a change and there's no need...

Cross-posted from the Spanning Backup Blog


The cloud is great. Your stuff is stored in only one place. No copies in email attachments, no copies on your laptop, your desktop, and your server. Make a change and there's no need to send out updates, because it's always in one place. Right?

Right. But delete it in one place and it's gone. Gone. You can't just find a copy in email. Or on your laptop. It was stored in only one place, and now it's no longer there.

Loosely connected systems are messy, but they have redundancy built in. Highly connected systems are more fragile. They need explicit redundancy, explicit backup systems.

However important backup is in traditional desktop environments, its much more important in cloud-based environments.

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What Google I/O 2010 Means to Me

2010-05-18T16:11:35-05:00

This morning I hopped on a jetBlue flight from Austin to San Francisco to attend Google I/O. I usually avoid industry conferences, but I make it a point to attend this one. I find it has a supernormal signal-to-noise ratio.... This morning I hopped on a jetBlue flight from Austin to San Francisco to attend Google I/O. I usually avoid industry conferences, but I make it a point to attend this one. I find it has a supernormal signal-to-noise ratio. Here's what I expect to get out of this year's event. Exposure We're getting close to the commercial release of Spanning Backup, so it's time to start directing people's attention toward it. (We recently performed our two-millionth backup. Time to light this candle!) Toward that end, here's a quick video showing what it's all about: Information We work at the leading edge of Google's API's, so there's often information we need that's not documented anywhere. What's the maximum payload size for an HTTP POST to the Google Docs API? How do you enable compression when talking to the Google Calendar API? Is Google planning on implementing contact sharing, or would it be a good thing for us to do? The answers to these questions are at I/O, not online. Relationships It's important to remember that there are real people creating all of these ecosystems, companies, products, and features. And even though better online communications tools exist now than ever before, face-to-face conversation (often in a conference hallway or a hotel bar) is the most powerful way to establish and strengthen relationships with those people. Zeitgeist Finally, I want to get a sense of where Google and its ecosystem are going. From where I sit it looks like Google is emphasizing Android over the web, a strategy I would consider dangerous and ill-advised. I want to see if I get the same sense at the show. Oh Yeah, and a Party! Be sure to join us and our friends at RedMonk for beers at House of Shields Wednesday night. The first $500 of the bar tab is on Spanning! But even if you can't make it Wednesday night, please come by the Spanning booth in the Developer Sandbox area and say hello. We have some very exclusive laptop stockers for you. :-) [...]



Unexpectedly Awesome Customer Service from Brenthaven

2010-04-27T10:11:09-05:00

A couple of years ago I bought a Brenthaven Trek laptop backpack from Amazon. I loved it. But after 18 months of heavy use, one of the zipper tracks broke. Since a similar problem with a $400 Tumi bag wasn't...

(image) A couple of years ago I bought a Brenthaven Trek laptop backpack from Amazon. I loved it. But after 18 months of heavy use, one of the zipper tracks broke. Since a similar problem with a $400 Tumi bag wasn't covered by the warranty I assumed this wouldn't be either.

I started shopping for other laptop cases, and mentioned my broken Brenthaven bag on Twitter. Minutes later, someone from Brenthaven contacted me and suggested I send the bag back to get a replacement. As it turns out, they have a lifetime guarantee on their products and this kind of problem is covered. (Take that, Tumi!) I hadn't registered for it when I bought the bag, but that didn't make a difference. I contacted their service department, got a return authorization number, and sent it in.

That was two weeks ago today. This morning FedEx delivered a brand new Trek backpack to my door. It's even a newer model, with better zipper pulls and tracks.

I have to say I'm delighted with both Brenthaven's product and their customer service. The backpack itself is very high-quality, fits my 15" MacBook Pro like a glove, and has just the right number and type of compartments. Also, after carrying an older Targus laptop bag for the last two weeks—and feeling every minute of it in my lower back—I'll never go back to carrying a traditional over-the-shoulder case again.

Aside from that, the fact that they're actively listening for customers who need help is more than just icing on the cake; it's turned me into a customer for life. The next time I need anything Brenthaven makes, like maybe an iPad sleeve, I'll look no further.

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John Cleese Explains Why Extremism is Good

2010-04-14T14:00:42-05:00

Exactly. via Political Irony

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Exactly.

via Political Irony

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Talking iPad

2010-04-09T13:08:44-05:00

My buddy BJ and I had a great time talking with Omar Gallaga at the Statesman earlier this week about our new iPads. Here's Omar's article, plus some video they shot:

My buddy BJ and I had a great time talking with Omar Gallaga at the Statesman earlier this week about our new iPads. Here's Omar's article, plus some video they shot:

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