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Midwest Minnesota Twitter Meetup

When Life Gives You Lemons, Invest in Aluminum

I found this post by Jim Cuene the other day.  Part of it really resonated with some of my thoughts over the last year.

Finally, “make something great” doesn’t just mean “make something that exists better”. To me, i still believe that those that have been given talent, resources, opportunities and tools should have ambitions to make the world a better place. “Great” means having a social and historical impact. It’s not cool these days to be nakedly ambitious, but i’ll say it: I don’t want to leave the planet without trying to do something historically noteworthy. Even if it’s just in the company where i work, i want to leave a mark. I believe we should be shooting at making something, something that’s noteworthy, something that people will remember because it had a lot of impact or helped others, something that is great.

Life is all too short to settle.  Find the places where you can effect the most change for your talents.  History is a fickle SOB, so do what’s important to you.  I already know my biggest accomplishments are my children.  Here are my criteria for making a difference with the little remaining time I have left:

1. Does it extend a person’s life?

2. Does it provide a better quality of life?

3. Does it remove barriers for others to accomplish 1 or 2?

I think we all feel, at times, like Sisyphous.  Either you can smash the boulder, or find a different hill without a boulder.  The choice is yours.

SWSWi 2011 Open Data

I drowsily stepped into the office Wednesday afternoon. Eight hours of traveling, on top of, six days of talking, drinking, and learning had left me a puddle of my former self. A co-worker asked; “So, what was the BIG takeaway?”. I uttered; “Open data.”, as I hit my chair.

It’s like a freight train. I spent most of my time watching all the big names of the conference listening for cues. They look like deer in headlights when the topic comes up. It’s like extreme excitement and fear wrapped into anxiety. No one knows what’s next. That was the theme. A huge question mark.

Tim O’Reilly spoke of a startup that is helping to make it happen. Fluid Info is what RSS was for blogging, as what API’s are for the most insane mashups you could ever image.

I love data, especially finding context and meaning in huge data sets.  Prediction modeling is coming, and no one wants to talk about it.  It makes Dante’s Inferno look like Winnie the Pooh.  There are massive moral implications, not just from a marketing standpoint, but health, finance, and every other part of our lives.

Credit companies can already predict if you’ll get a divorce (two years ahead of time) with 98% accuracy based on spending patterns, but they won’t send you a email to tell you.  Zuckerberg can tell you when you’re going to “break up” and who you are going to “date” with a 33% accuracy.  Don’t get me started on genetics, the CDC, and tracking diseases.

Dennis Crowley’s keynote took the cake.  They’re hoarding venue ID’s.  The value is not in the ID itself, but what you can do with it.  The new “Explore” feature is probably a slapped together algorithm right now, but you could see him get excited with the possibilities of tomorrow.

Web 3.0 is the fortune teller.

Cutting the Cable TV Umbilical Cord

Tonight we had a visit from a Comcast employee who was canvasing our neighborhood to upgrade everyone to their “new” services. Really, he was trying to get us into the home phone service. They like to offer discounted prices that are only good for a few months, then the real prices kick into overdrive. Our channel package is pretty robust, but I’ve never had HBO, Showtime, or Starz.

Our home has four televisions. Two are older “non-digital tuner”, and two HD models. We have a Wii hooked up to our living room television which runs Netflix for the kids shows. My son’s room has a larger projection TV which has his Xbox 360 running Netflix. The flat screen in our bedroom has a Mac Mini that has Boxee Beta installed, and the family room flat screen will be reserved for the Boxee Box when it comes out in November. Whew. I like trying different devices for movies and TV.

I figured with a cable bill of around $150/month for TV and internet, I could trim about $80/month after canceling the TV portion, or $60/month if I went back down to basic. That would be a dozen movie rentals on iTunes every month, and we don’t even come close to that number. Netflix, Hulu, and iTunes make up for just about every show I’d like to watch, and a good antenna would allow for local programming.

This decision is getting easier by the month. What are your plans for ditching cable TV?

Casual Content Consumption – The War for Your Non-Attention

Since 2008, my Chumby has been sitting on my night stand. I’ve loaded numerous widgets to check my email, look at weather, view facebook and flickr photos, and even listen to music and radio. I’ve come to love this little touchscreen device. It doesn’t beg me to use it. There are weeks that go by where it’s only used as a clock, but it never complains. It was made for this purpose.

We have a lot of screens in our house. Four laptops, 3 iphones, an Android tablet, a couple TV’s, an iPad, a few portable DVD players, a Zune, and of course, my Chumby. My family consumes hours of media every day. Digital books, games, music, and streaming video. The TV has been long ago been delegated to background noise. Sure, we have our favorite shows, but we don’t use a DVR (yes we have one).

The heavens opened up when someone introduced me to Boxee Alpha a couple years ago. The software was a dashboard for all my favorite content, as well as access to Netflix and Hulu (which has been blocked). I had heard about media streaming devices, and people using Windows Media Center to store and distribute content to their TV’s, but it lacked the elegance that Boxee provided.

Since the time I first installed Boxee on my laptop, we’ve hooked a Mac Mini to our TV, stream Netflix through the Wii, iPad, iPhones, and Xbox 360. I even use my iPhone as a remote. This is the future of entertainment, or is it?

Consuming all this content has made me come to a realization. We’re trained to multitask, and the devices make it easier for us to only give partial attention. Like my Chumby, these devices constantly serve up content, but it’s only background noise until we pay attention. We’re just scanning for the next perfect “soundbite”, and the media has adapted.

Massive Facebook Exodus

leeroy_card

People leave for something better.  I’ve been hearing about the World of Warcraft killer for years now.  There has been none.  People complain, whine, bitch, and moan, but they keep paying their money to keep their account live.  Here’s why:

No one has been able to make a product to appeal to the masses like World of Warcraft.  No one probably ever will.  The era of Massive Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games is coming to an end.  Yes, there will be a couple games that come out that will shake things up, but nothing will eclipse WoW.  It’s like the blockbuster movie, epic book, or pop culture album, nobody cares anymore.

So back to Facebook.  Will it die?  Like everything else, online…yes.  It will be a slow painful death, but you’ll never see anything as large, as everything else that comes after will be much more fragmented.  It’s ok, you didn’t like playing that Orc Warlock anyway.

Who Killed the Blogger Review?

With the new FTC blogger guidelines going into effect on Dec. 1 2009, I had to pause for a second, and figure out how we got here in the first place. Slate.com does a pretty concise overview of what’s being changed in the FTC Act, which is the first update since 1980.  WSJ.com even has an update that the IAB is finally getting involved.  Every story I read about these guidelines, triggers my BS alarm.  The whole thing sounds so silly, rediculous, and proposterous, that I can hardly believe it’s actually going to happen.

Slate.com claims the blog-for-money business was worth $1.35 Billion in 2007.  The FTC claims it’s not after bloggers, but agencies, and brands that use this online tactic.  At $11,000 per violation of non-disclosure, it can add up pretty quick for something agencies have very little control over.  It doesn’t stop at blogs, but could happen on sites like twitter, facebook, and virtually any platform.  Obviously enforcing this will be next to impossible, so this begs the question, why are they doing this?  This has been the question I’ve been asking myself for the past couple months.  The next question is, who gains most from this update to the FTC Act?

The Suspects:

Big Media: The past couple years have been rough on traditional media advertising.  Many budgets are shifting to online, and it’s not a trend because of reduced spending during the recession.  We’ve all seen the projections, and newspapers, television, and radio are all on the decline.  If you essentially kill any organized online advocacy, where else are companies going to spend in their advertising and marketing budgets?  Bingo!  The ole’ standbys.

Traditional Advertising Agencies: Let’s face it, they’re the biggest pusher of big media budgets.  Blogger advocacy programs are a drop in the bucket, in terms of dollars, for these guys.  They’d prefer to do it, like they’ve been doin’ it for decades, take their media commission and run.  They dislike anything digital, and fight change.  They just want it back to the way it was before the internet.

The Big G: Government has a pretty bad track record in terms of keeping up with technology legislation.  They’re usually years late to the table.  So it’s suspect that this is even being handled by them, at this juncture.  It’s a small section of spending, and there’s no way to enforce other than by fear.  I highly doubt this was their idea.  It completely reaks of power play by Big Media, and traditional advertisers have nothing to loose by keeping their mouths shut through this ordeal.

I think this whole thing smells like BS!

The Phone Call is Dead!

Just like the death of the phone booth, the phone call is on it’s way out. How often do you reach a voice mail when you dial someone? How often do you actually leave a voice mail? Do people respond faster with text message? Do you get more rapid response off of sites like Facebook and Twitter, or even IM?

I’m tired of leaving voice mails, people never check them, or if they do, they respond after the urgency is past. I’m close to done with this medium of communication, at least done paying for it.

Why won’t you sleep?

Eve’s Chest X-Ray

Eve’s Chest X-Ray, originally uploaded by TaulPaul.

Dr. Del Nido and Dr. Triedman stopped in today to check up on Eve. I believe it was the first time we’ve seen them together. It was nice to have a chat with both of them. You can tell they have a great rapport. Dr. Del Nido talked a bit about some of the projects they’re working on for pediatric cardiac imaging. It was nice to chat about tech, as it’s one of the things I’m comfortable blathering about.

In other news, we saw Jennifer and Stellan come in today. They were in the CICU room next to us for a couple hours. I think they moved when I stepped out to get some of Eve’s stuff. It’s nice to see they’re getting help here, and another Minnesota family is nearby.  We found out about Stellan right when we learned we would be going to Boston.  I contacted Jennifer through Twitter, and found out several days later that they would also be coming to Children’s Hospital Boston.  I can imagine the concerns, as Eve had an Ablation to her heart in order to control her SVT and WPW, but Stellan’s case seems to be much more severe.  Our thoughts and prayers are with them as well.

Don’t Give Me Those Eyes

Eve will be extubated around midnight. This means they’ll take the breathing tube out, and let her breath on her own. I can’t think of any other time where I’ll be happy to hear any baby cry more than that moment. She cries now, but since the tube goes past her vocal chords, there’s no air to make any sounds. It absolutely crushes me. They suction her tube about once an hour. This is usually the only time she wakes up. She gets pretty worked up, and she’ll kick her little legs. She’s even grabbed the tubes a couple times. I let her hold one of my fingers, while she looks up at me with her teary eyes wondering why all this is happening to her. I just smile back at her, and tell her everything will be fine. It’s all I can do to prevent myself from crying myself. They say she’s not in any pain. I hope that’s true.

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