Monthly Archives: November 2008

Annoyed by iPhone Apps

So far I've downloaded and discarded dozens of iPhone apps that didn't do what I thought they should do. For me, Twitter apps are the worst offenders. Twitterific hung too often, and Om Malik advised me to switch to Twinkle. No, he didn't just advise me, he downloaded it to my phone while I was having non-coffee with him one afternoon. He liked it because it found people near me.

But I could never see it; the type is too small, and I'm often tweeting in dark restaurants, movie theatres before the show begins, and at stop lights. It would seem like a basic tenet of application development that the user be able to SEE the interface.

LaTwit is like that as well. A UI suitable for a mouse.  I have to keep it, though, because it supports Identi.ca and TwitArmy. I then tried Tweetsville, which came highly recommended but doesn't seem to give me my messages very often. I deleted it tonight.

Someone else recommended Twittelator, which is my current solution. Big type, works fine, but doesn't work at all like Twitter. Doesn't even REMIND me of the Twitter experience.

So I'm still looking.  What for? I'm looking for an iPhone application for Twitter that works the way Brightkite's does, or Facebook's.  In other words, it "suggests" the site it is derived from in both its interface and its functions, and it allows you to do the things you want to do. It looks like a familiar version of its parent. For Twitter, that's read and reply, search, send DMs, unfollow and follow. (And, of course TRACK, pace @stevegillmor.)

Do you have any good suggestions for me? I will be accepting them until Friendfeed comes out with a real-time iPhone app, after which this Twitter stuff will all be moot.

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Attitude of Gratitude: Via Louis CK

Please watch this. In 4 minutes, Louis CK puts it all in perspective:

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Gary Vaynerchuk vs Matt Mullenweg

Gary Vaynerchuk vs Matt Mullenweg from Clintus McGintus on Vimeo.

The after-party for the Third Annual Arizona Entrepreneurship Conference was at Gangplank. Here's a memorable Wii Tennis match between @garyvee and @photomatt.

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Waiting for Barack, Godot, Salvation

We did it again this weekend. We bailed out the top and not the bottom.  I truly don't understand this. (Caveat: I studied poetry and novels in college).

Walk me through it, if you will. The consumer is responsible for 70% of the US economy. The consumer has been scared spitless by what's happening all around him in the last six months — by the election, by the bailout, by the media, by the inability to get loans, by the layoffs around him.

So what does he do?  He does what my "friend" does: he screeches to a halt on his spending. No toys for the dogs, no fancy side dishes for Thanksgiving, no unnecessary driving in case gas prices go up again.

Never mind that my friend has six months of emergency money, a 401k, a good business, and a working spouse. Do you see what I'm driving at? He's frightened.

One class I did take in college was psychology.  We had these rats and we put them on grids and shocked them randomly or fed them randomly. They couldn't figure it out: when was the shock going to come? When the food? They ran back and forth for a while on the grid, trying to avoid the shock and get the food. And then…they gave up.

They just did nothing.

That was Psych 101, and I didn't have to take Economics (The Dismal Science) after I took that. Psych 101 was all the training I would ever need to understand this economy.

Consumers, subject to the 24-hour media cycle, are paralyzed. They've been shocked too many times to know what to do, especially since our disintegrating education system does not teach financial literacy.

What would be the problem with attacking the meltdown from the other side? Why do we persist in ignoring what SHOULD be done — renegotiating mortgages to their current market values and providing a new source of jobs, either energy or infrastructure or both?

I'd let the banks and the bankers go down right now (and I know that is shortsighted and impossible, but that's how I feel) and make their CEOs and execs give back the bonuses they got over the past three years after they  changed the laws to make their atomized fantasy financial products legal.

If they've been playing in an alternative universe for the last eight years, why should they be using the currency of the "real" world?

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Listening to NGL in the Gym

I got really bummed listening to the recording of NewsGangLive and realizing that something that was such a large part of my life has been missing for the past few weeks. I heard Karoli and Steve and Michael talk about the same issues I’m thinking about, and I sure do miss my community.

Mobile post sent by hardaway using Utterlireply-count Replies.

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Whooooo-hooo!

Wednesday's Third Annual Arizona Entrepreneurship Conference
<http://www.azentrepreneurship.com> was one of the best days of my
life. Not only did 250 people show up in the middle of a recession to
see each other and help each other, but the feeling of hope and optimism
among the entrepreneurs and funders in the room was palpable. Those who
were not overtly hopeful were at least indifferent to the roiling world
around them in the way only entrepreneurs can be.

I stood looking out at the crowd of people who believe the power of the
community to manifest its own economy and I nearly wept. Well, I did
weep. Ed caught it on video, and it –along with comments from the
attendees and some of the presentations from the speakers, is
here

And we raised more money than we have ever raised with these conferences
in the past. This is largely because of Microsoft, whose BizSpark
program for startups just happened to launch in Arizona at the conference. Microsoft selected us as a network partner for BizSpark, and then put what for us is a large amount
of money into the conference. We also had a great law firm sponsor this
year, Osborn Maledon , and a new sponsor, C-Scan Technologies, which audits clean rooms,
and another new sponsor, HSLFinancial .
And our loyal sponsors Infusionsoft  ,
Wells Fargo , the City of Tempe ,and the Business Journal all stuck with us!

People who weren't in a position to contribute treasure contributed time
and talent, most specifically Gangplank the East Valley accelerator
and Silent Dispatch, who gave us the geek equivalent of "loaned executives." And without Rhonda Lintner from C-Scan, Steve Groves from Silent Dispatch, Merlin Ward from
ResponsiblePartying.com and Brian Shaler from Bit Gravity,  I would have been dead in the water. There's more, but I will spare you.

There were several notable moments for me that I'd like to recap:

GaryVee <http://www.winelibrary.tv> pounding his shoe on the podium
and telling people to know their customers

Matt Mullenweg  telling us he started Akismet because he didn't want his mother to see the spam on blogs

Dan Willis of Microsoft announcing the BizSpark program in Phoenix, a
stop on its launch roadshow that he added just for us

Allan Kaplan of Limelight Networks  telling us that, indeed, you could raise large amounts of money in Arizona if you had a good enough plan and sharing with us how he had done it multiple times

Shahi Ghanem, CEO of EmpowHer.com  announcing
the launch of its new site on which women share their health experiences

Jonathan Smith, President of Earth911 ,telling us the company was going to start monitoring where recycled products go after they are responsibly disposed of by the last user after that horrifying 60 Minutes Video a couple of weeks ago about e-waste dumped in China.

I don't know what to say: I'm so da**ed lucky that entrepreneurship is
my passion. I know it will be "my people," the people I spend my days
with, who will continue to power the world while the government grinds
slowly through the motions of a transition from one President to the
next.

Oh, and I'm told there was an incredible after-party at Gangplank, too.
I, of course, was home in bed with my golden retriever family.

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No BailOut for the Car Companies? I’m Heading that Way

Obama looked pretty good on 60 Minutes Sunday evening. He looked like he had everything under control in his "no drama Obama" way.

But the world has changed again. With Citibank's layoff of 53,000 employees and the Republicans in Congress still fighting against the bailout, one wonders what unemployment will look like before this is "over," whatever that means.

I've been debating with myself for weeks over whether we ought to bail out the auto industry. I made a little pro-con list for myself today.

 On one hand, the auto industry is a huge industry, symbolic of American engineering and technical leadership. American cars are part of everyone's gay mad youth (unless they are young today). On the other hand, the industry has been staggering and contracting under the weight of both its own profligacy and global competition for years.

 On one hand, Detroit has a supply chain of about 3 million total jobs.
On the other hand, not every job is lost in bankruptcy and those suppliers can continue to supply Honda, Toyota, and the others who are competing successfully.

 On one hand, all these workers will go on welfare and public assistance, further taxing our entitlement programs.
On the other hand, a bailout is just an entitlement program distributed differently.

On one hand, we can attach strings to the bailout that will force the companies to do business differently.
On the other hand, the President of GM has already indicated he won't resign for a bailout and the current POTUS has already said he'd give them $25b with no strings to keep them in business.

You see where this is heading.

I am heading to the conclusion that we ought to let these companies go bankrupt, and throw our energy into restructuring them forcibly while shielding them from creditors so they can continue to operate, which always happens in a Chapter 11 filing. They will get DIP (debtor-in-possession) filing, won't they? The board can then throw out the CEO if he isn't doing the job, can't it? And the company will come out stronger.

Look at Continental Airlines. It went bankrupt and came out much better for it. So have many other, less notable examples,

 If we let them go bankrupt ( they might not ALL have to seek Chapter 11, but if you give out bailout money, you can be sure they will all ask for it, and their suppliers, too), jobs will be lost, but those jobs will be lost no matter what. Many of those jobs are "faux," created by unions and by bloat, the way big companies always grow when they have the money to do it.

I find all this hard to square with my social safety net predilections. But I've been watching layoffs in Arizona for two years now, and layoffs in Silicon Valley, and now in New York. We've seen Wall Street completely collapse and restructure.

Why should the auto industry be immune?

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