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All Things Internet™ since 1999


It’s not that bad outside…

On days like today…

Rainy Day

…I have to remind myself that my outlook simply depends on my perspective. And that by changing my perspective, I can change my outlook.

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So while it might be rainy and dark down here on the ground, a few thousand feet up, the view is definitely better.




“Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.”

- Stanley Horowitz

I went for a walk in the yard this afternoon. It seems lonely. Not for me I mean, I wasn’t lonely. The yard itself feels like it’s lonely. The leaves and flowers and birds that kept it company over the spring and through the summer have left for the next few months. Perhaps the coming snow will keep it company.


Occupy Earth

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As a political movement, Occupy Wall Street clearly resonates in the United States. At least as much as the Tea Party did, except perhaps on a more human scale. This weekend will bring us the Occupy Toronto and other Occupy Canada movements, and we’ll see what kind of traction they get north of the border.

It doesn’t resonate with me.

When I hear the phrase “It’s about the 99%”, I wonder to myself, which “99%”

I’m distracted by the need for Occupy Burundi, Occupy Kinshasa, Occupy Zimbabwe. Financial districts barely exist in these countries.

80% of the world’s population lives on less than $10 a day. There are two billion children on the planet, more than half live in poverty.

Poverty stats are as accessible as they are undeniable. I won’t quote any more. My point is this: We live in the 1% and unless we figure out a way to fix Earth for the 99%, we’re all screwed. The 99% represented by the U.S. protestors are barely 4.8% of the global population. Few, if any, are in the global 99%.

In fairness, there are signs from the OWS movement that the global issue is a concern, but their commitment to it feels thin and fleeting. I get the sense that they are more worried about their jobs and the screwing they’ve received from their Wall Street and choosing between paying rent and buying food than they are with the simple life and death calculus that real poverty brings.

We need Occupy Earth – a truly global occupation that helps the 99% that really needs it.


Thanks Canada!

I haven’t made it properly known how happy I am with my new pen! The pen was given to me as a token of appreciation for my service on the CIRA Board. Thanks .CA!

My New Favorite Pen!


Adwords Phish

This one almost got me.

I received a note from Google letting me know that they’d suspended some of my ad campaigns and that I should login to rectify. Clicking through, my suspicion was raised when I wasn’t automatically logged in like I normally am. Google *always* logs me in automatically, and usually into the wrong account.

It drives me crazy.

This gave me a cause to pause and I did a deeper inspection of the page and the email I’d received.

Turns out, the email was a complete fake. A scam intended to con me into giving my Google credentials to a nefarious third party. In this case, the email sends me to google-ows.com, a name that was only registered this morning. The page includes a script that collects your adwords username and password, which can also be used to sign into my other Google services – like GMail, etc. From there, who knows what the scam is, but it sets up the bad guys some pretty good access to your life if you fall for it.

Sneaky bastards.

The contents of the email…

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The page I was sent to…

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How RIM can save RIM from RIM

I’ve been noodling a ton of thoughts about RIM these past few weeks. I originally wrote this in a text document almost two months ago. Reading this week that RIM might be abandoning their tablet plans, I’ve gained faint hope that they might save themselves. In light of this, I thought these scribbles might live better here on my blog, even in an unfinished state. I may have more to add to this, but don’t stay awake waiting for updates :)

Here are my rough thoughts on what RIM could do to save their business…

Fork RIM

RIM needs to fork – employ a two prong approach. Pursue Government and Enterprise (G&E) separate from consumer. Their G&E approach should be exactly what they are doing now. Work it hard, milk it. Don’t expect it show material growth, but don’t underestimate its ability to churn cash.

Separately, go hard at consumer. Focus on three things and three things only – worldclass handset, worldclass OS and 6-10 worldclass apps.

6-10 Apps

Cede the “Blackberry” moniker to your core market and build a complimentary new brand to go after the consumer handset space. Don’t listen to a thing the carriers tell you about this brand. You want to do one thing and one thing only with this brand – use your BBM base to build a brand based on Social Mobile. What is social mobile? Think of what apps like foursquare, Color, Twitter and Instagram promise – now think of the core features of these services as hooks in an operating system backed by powerful cloud services operated by RIM. Social Mobile Messaging (BBM), Social Mobile telephony, calendaring, pictures, etc. Build out your own apps, publish the APIs to those apps and use those APIs to foster a new developer community. Don’t force these new apps to run on your aging network – this is the time to adopt the standard networks that everyone else is using for their message transport – consumers don’t care about the level of reliability and security that using RIM’s network offers G&E customers.

Worldclass Handset

Build an incredible handset that you can offer direct and unlocked to customers for $300. Not $300 subsidized on a three year contract only via a carrier, but $300 period. Don’t compromise on its design, function or performance. Do what you have to do with the time you’ve got to make a meaningful impression on this market. Make it easy for them to buy your phones, promise next day delivery at no extra charge when they buy two or more. Make a deal with Amazon to bundle in eMusic and eBooks (two services that you promise me you won’t care about because you need to worry about your core business and not being a media mogul) in exchange for them carrying your handsets globally – on their home page. They’ll do it – they need friends just as much as you do when it comes to competing with Google and Apple.

Worldclass OS

QNX will get you there but for the love of everything holy, PLEASE STOP SELLING TABLETS! Its a distraction. You are not Apple. You’ve got too many fronts open right now and you’re not winning with anything. Lock down your focus on protecting G&E and building out your consumer business. Focus consumer on smartphone apps, handsets and OS and getting them out the door as quickly as possible. Consumers care way less about Flash, batter performance and network security than they do that they’ve got awesome connectedness with their friends, family and colleagues.

And guess what, momentum in the consumer space translates into win’s in G&E. Corporate IT doesn’t call all the shots anymore. The days of completely centralized IT decision making are waning and as we move further into the post-PC world, it continues to become more and more of an exception (the last corporate issued phone I used was a Nokia 5190. Since then I’ve owned three berry’s, two Palm’s, a WindowsMobile device and four iPhones).

Get Jim and Mike out of the way

Jim – Mike, this section is special for you – get out of the way! You guys are ridiculously smart and successful but you are coming off like buffoons trying to play the hero. Take a more senior role – mentor people, guide them, lead them – but please, stop trying to force everything down a specific path. You need fresh blood at the top that can breathe life into your strategies. It isn’t 1999 and squeezing every ounce out of a battery or radio is no longer enough to win the day in the market. I know you know this, so stop acting like you don’t.

Don’t make the same mistakes you made with your sales and marketing in the G&E segments. Don’t organize around carriers or products – organize around customers – the real people that buy and use your handsets. Keep it small and nimble and let your people make huge mistakes quickly while they learn what they need to do to be successful in this space. Jim and Mike get huge props for getting the company this far, but just like everyone else, they aren’t the smartest guys in the room. Make room for the other smart people at RIM to get in on the fun.


Mobile Apps need more than Google, they need their own DNS

If you believe in markets, I think you’ll agree that Apps are giving people the best Internet experience on mobile devices. The rise of the app store is something that even Apple didn’t foresee – originally they launched the iPhone app-free and asked dev’s to embrace HTML5 development. That last about six months with Apple doing an about-face and native apps have been a juggernaut ever since.

The beauty of great apps is that they embrace the Internet and web and make it even more useful and accessible on mobile devices. Using the Internet as a back plane makes it trivial for these apps to move data around, share it with others and provide a really compelling experience. These apps are crippled without the Internet. Interaction with the web similarly improves the user experience that these apps provide. I really like the Facebook and Craigslist apps for exactly these reasons – they give me the web in a uniquely mobile way.

The downside of apps is that they aren’t all that discoverable. Every app store out there is basically just a directory that users browse through to find the functionality they need. Some folks liken this to how we used to find stuff on the web. We’d go to Yahoo!, browse their directory and click-through to a website that gave us what we were looking for.

I think this analogy misses the mark. Thinking back a bit further to the early days of the Internet, every Internet host had an entry in a central HOSTS.TXT file that was updated and re-published manually to every host operator on the Internet. If you wanted to connect a new machine to the Internet, you’d need to submit the details and the file would be updated and re-published before your new host would be visible to other operators. This replaced by a system we called the “DNS” which made it easy to publish new host entries which were automatically picked up by other hosts on the network.

Today, developers create apps, submit them to a centralized repository which is essentially manually maintained. User manually browse the app store by traversing its directory, hopefully finding what they need.

Creating a Google-equivalent for searching app space will only solve part of the problem. App developers also need the benefit of a strong, more decentralized app discovery mechanism. I’m not saying that this will replace some of the controls that App Stores exert on what gets published via their App Store (i.e. Apple), but rather, that once an app is registered with the App store, that App discovery becomes much more automatic. Essentially, we need a DNS for Apps that publishes machine readable app capabilities making it easy for machine to connect users to applications on an on-demand basis. In other words, apps need to become addressable, just like web sites and other Internet resources are.

How would this work in the real world? I think it ends up feeling a lot like App streaming. Using some great search tools, I tell the network that I want to play Angry Birds, and the app becomes available on my home screen. The App Store itself fades away, the installation of the app fades away – all of those extra interactions just get picked up and absorbed by the framework, much in the same way that DNS and Google absorb the hassle of searching for and connecting to third-party websites.

Some startup is going to get very rich with this idea. Properly executed, it will appeal to both Apple and Google and put someone in a really sweet spot in a bidding war.

Consumers will benefit as well. Apps will continue to evolve, and as the infrastructure evolves, the bright line that differentiates an App from a Web Site will fade away into the background.



I’ve been on a bit of a digital purge lately. I’m not sure what triggered this, but I’ve been diligently paring back what I do online to a much narrower range of activities. In the past few weeks, I’ve

  • deleted most of the apps on my iPad and iPhone, including G+ and Facebook. Twitter survived the cut.
  • removed all the shortcuts from my browser bar to sites like Hacker News, Techmeme, Facebook, etc.
  • ditched a ton of blogs from Google Reader, mostly the Mac rumour sites. Yeah, I get it. Apple is going to release a new iPhone. What passes for news with some of these blogs is pretty astounding.
  • dumped satellite TV and my 100 channel universe for an over-the-air antenna which gets maybe 15-20 channels on a good day. For free.
  • dropped Boxcar for iOS and Lion. As cool as it was to have all my my notifications show up on all my devices at the same time, boy was it distracting.

The effects are predictable. I’m finding it easier to focus and get tasks done more quickly. I’m also enjoying my leisure a bit more. Less time spent reading RSS feeds translates into more time reading books and writing – both of which I find immensely enjoyable. And of course, time with Rowan and Amanda isn’t interrupted nearly as much by silly things like G+ notifications and the like.


Ciào Facebook

You aren’t reading this on Facebook because I don’t want to play the Facebook game anymore.

I used to think that Facebook was great for sharing stuff with friends. It is, sort of.

Mostly though, Facebook just shares stuff with a small set of people that it wants to show your stuff to. Similarly, Facebook only shows you stuff from a small set of people it wants you to see. In its quest to make certain that its feeds and timelines are relevant, Facebook scores relationships based on how often we like stuff, comment on it, poke it, view it, share it and so on. Then it sort of guesses who your friends are and shows you and them stuff based on how you interact with it.

On paper, this is a really good idea. In practice, it just means that if we don’t want to play the Facebook game of friend, like, poke, view, share and comment, then we don’t really see anything interesting. Our brains recognize these game mechanics at some level, making it incredibly easy to waste way too much time poking and sharing and commenting – the more we do it, the better the Facebook experience is. It takes hours to achieve and maintain a reasonable level of quality in what you read on your wall.

I’m opting out.

I love my friends and family but life is too short wasting it poking and commenting and liking – Facebooking – just so I can see your updates on my wall. I’ll still check in from time to time, but instead of spending all sorts of hours trying to get Facebook to show me your stuff on my wall, I’m just gonna read your wall directly. I’ve created a nice list of bookmarks of the walls for people that I want to keep up with and I’ll just browse through that when I want to get a friend fix.

And in the meantime, I’ll be hanging around here…


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Thanks Steve.