Bloglines sucks

Hey, Bloglines, I don’t really care who’s problem it is, but my feed works just fine on Google Reader and doesn’t work on Bloglines. So, the only conclusion I’m going to come to: Bloglines sucks. Please fix before everyone switches to Google Reader.

UPDATE: Matt Mullenweg admitted it was a bug in WordPress and said that they are working on fixing it. Sorry for the stink, but I needed to force the issue because I was losing readers over on Bloglines.

The MacMini HDTV revolution

Yesterday I was over talking with the team behind Retrevo, the consumer electronics search engine.

We all agreed that Apple TV sucks. More on that in a minute.

But we all notice a trend: hooking MacMinis up to your HTDV. I think it’s a revolution. Revolutions always start small and among the weirdos.

Dave Winer had been on me for a while to get rid of my AppleTV and get a MacMini. As with other revolutions that Dave has started it took me about 1.5 years to get what he was saying and see the brilliance in it. Seriously, he showed me RSS for 1.5 years before I really started using it.

So, a few weeks ago I bought a MacMini, partly to get Dave off of my back and partly to help him test his new software, releasing today.

Now I’m pissed that it took me so long and I’m pissed at the industry that it just doesn’t get what’s coming and they keep trying to lock me into closed boxes like the Apple TV or the Xbox. I have an Xbox too, and a Media Center, so hear me out where I’m going.

Putting a MacMini on my TV is geeky. It’s not for everyone. Damn, I sound just like someone who discovered the Apple II back in 1977. Only the geeks got personal computing back then. Most people thought personal computers were stupid, back then. Heck, Wozniak offered to HP and Atari a chance to build his personal computer. They turned him down because revolutions in this business never are very obvious at the beginning.

Anyway, how is this a revolution? Ask my son. He now plays World of Warcraft on our 60-inch screen. He never really cared about the HD screen before. Or, look at Maryam. She loves putting pictures of Milan up on it. She also is crazy about Dave Winer’s new thing. More on that in a second too.

But why is this a revolution? Easy. It has a Web browser. It’s amazing how often I use the Web browser on the TV. “But you can’t read the fonts,” I can hear you saying. That’s not true. On the Mac keyboard you hold down the “Ctrl” key and then use your mouse’s wheel to zoom in and out.

The MacMini has totally changed my TV into something that’s NOT just a TV anymore. It’s revolutionary after you use it. Especially when you compare to the Xbox’s Media Center Extender (no Web browser) or the Apple TV (no Web browser) or my DirecTV box (no Web browser).

Why isn’t it a mass-market revolution yet? Three reasons:

1. They haven’t seen Dave Winer’s new software running on it.
2. The MacMini is too expensive to be a consumer electronics purchase (it costs about $700, and the Nintendo Wii demonstrated that consumer electronics needs to cost closer to $300, which is what the AppleTV costs, but the AppleTV doesn’t come with a Web browser so is ultimately crippled and will never participate in the new HDTV revolution).
3. It still seems a bit weird to hook a computer up to a TV (although the MacMini is ultra quiet, and cute so that it overcomes two of the previous objections that people had to bringing a computer into the living room).
4. Too many people assume a TV is just for watching TV and haven’t considered doing anything else on it. Sounds like the cell phone market before the iPhone, huh?

Anyway, what does Dave Winer’s new software do? It puts pictures up on my HDTV. “Huh, that’s the lamest thing I’ve ever heard,” I can hear you saying. But didn’t you also say that about Twitter? About IM? About the PC itself back in 1977? Yeah, yeah, you did, own up to it.

But it doesn’t just do that. It brings YOUR photos into my house if you put them on Flickr and I add you to my TV set. Even better, it puts professional photography up on my HDTV. Amazing images from around the world.

I love having great photography on my TV from my friends and from the best professionals around the world.

Oh, and the AppleTV does suck. I gave it to Patrick, maybe he can sell it to you so he can afford to buy a MacMini for his house.

Putting a MacMini on my HDTV was the best gadget purchase I’ve made this year.

UPDATE: I’ll demo it live over on as soon as it’s released. Dave tells me that should be tonight sometime, although it’s software so we’ll Twitter about it as soon as it’s done.

UPDATE2: we’ll be demoing it LIVE at 9 p.m. on my Qik channel. You can participate by leaving comments — I’ll see those on my cell phone.

Could Google Reader team have done a better PR job?

Looking back on it I’m wondering if the Google Reader team could have done a few things differently in the PR realm?

Looking at the advice to startups that ReadWriteWeb gave the answer is clear: yes.

Did the Google Reader team show anyone at a conference the new feature? No. Strike @1.
Did the Google Reader team do a video? No. Strike #2.
Did the Google Reader team brief bloggers ahead of time and get their feedback? No. Strike #3.
Did the Google Reader team show its #1 customer/user these features and get feedback? No. Strike #4.
Did the Google Reader team give an interview to a video journalist like Kara Swisher (or me) before release? No. Strike #5.
Did the Google Reader team release on Tuesday-Thursday, like ReadWriteWeb suggests? No. Strike #6.
Did the Google Reader team have a demo to show off? No. Strike #7.

Now, I’m not saying that the community still wouldn’t have reacted the way it did, but at least we would have had a dialog going and we would have had a lot more to go on and talk about than what they did end up doing, which was releasing a short blog post about the new features without even a screen shot.

That, to me, is setting up the team to fail.

It’s amazing to me that the company that owns TWO video services doesn’t get the power of video. Hello, Vic Gundotra, what’s going on here? Where was the campfire for new stuff? If the Google Reader team showed this to a few bloggers over a campfire they might have heard this feedback earlier when they could have done something about it.

Great tips for startups

ReadWriteWeb has 36 great tips for startups.

One thing I’d add to that list: make sure you use every tool you can to help get your story out. The startups that have gotten the best reputation with bloggers have been the ones that show up to conferences and little events around town, do videos, Twitter, AND do everything that ReadWriteWeb talks about.

I disagree that startups have to announce at a conference, too. Sometimes that’s the WRONG place to announce a new product. Why? Well, at Demo there’s 60 people competing for our attention. The next week? Might only be four. Want to get to the top of TechMeme? It’s a lot harder during Demo week.

But, if you don’t do a conference you MUST execute flawlessly on the PR front. How? I’d visit personally 40 bloggers and hold them to an embargo. Make sure you get some video and photographers in there too. They make your story more complete.

Of course if you have an awesome product it really doesn’t matter. I’m freaking over the top about right now. How did I learn about that? An accidental meeting in an Apple store. I’m sure that if they had a PR team the PR team would be really pissed. But I’ve been showing everyone and their brother Qik. If the others, like Seesmic and Kyte don’t get their streaming servers up and running soon they will lose me forever. That’s how strongly I feel about this company.

But most companies don’t have the utility of live streaming video off of a cell phone to do their PR for them. So, for most companies ReadWriteWeb’s advice is good and should be listened to.

The tree with the business model

I’m looking back at who has had a real impact on how I see the world. Thomas Hawk is near the top of that list. He got me enthusiastic about photography again. Now I carry my Canon 5D most days and when I don’t I hear his voice in my head “take pictures every day.”

Today on the way home I heard his voice in my head again and, so, on my commute home I stopped several times just to see the world.

The golden oak tree

First, I’ve passed by this oak tree hundreds of times (I used to work across the street from it) but I never really noticed it — how many common, everyday things do we take for granted and drive right by? One thing about photography is that it gets you to slow down a little bit and enjoy the beauty we have all around us. Something about the sunset got me to pull off of Sand Hill Road and think about the entrepreneurs that have passed by this tree. The Hewletts. The Packards. The Jobs. The Wozniaks. The Ellisons. The Gates’. And hundreds of thousands of others. It’s the tree at the top of Sand Hill Road overloading FWY 280 and Sand Hill Road. Off in the distance is the Stanford Linear Accelerator, the longest straight building in the world and home of the first Web site in the United States.

The tree with a business model

Sand Hill Road is where entrepreneurs come and pitch VCs in fancy offices and try to talk them out of funding. It’s a place for idealists. For dreamers. I was thinking that this tree has a business model better than most of the entrepreneurs who’ve driven past hoping to start a business. Heheh. Think about it. It’s lasted quite a few decades and probably has quite a few more left in its branches.

So, now, if you come and visit Sand Hill Road, you’ll look to your left as you get off of Freeway 280 and you’ll remember the tree with a business model that’s probably going to outlast yours. And if you get to Bank of America, go inside. It’s the nicest Bank of America I’ve ever been in. By the way, if you look closely at the bottom of the tree photo you’ll see a concrete pouring pumping machine. There’s a big new development going up on Sand Hill Road right across the street from the tree. Progress marches on.

Bank of America

One thing that Thomas taught me is to keep looking and keep shooting, even after you think you got the best photo. I laid down on the pavement to get another look at the tree. And then I looked down and saw this leaf. Something about it caught my eye because of the sunlight from the last few minutes of the sunset.

Oak leaf on Sand Hill Road

After leaving the tree and driving over route 92 I came across this sunset over Half Moon Bay and had to pull over again. Found some defiant weeds and realized I’ve got one of the nicest commutes in the world. Thank you to Thomas Hawk for putting that little voice in my head that says “pull over, make pictures.”

Sunset over Half Moon Bay

Also deserving credit is Marc Silber — we spent a couple of hours today at a Peets just brainstorming and talking about what we want to do in 2008. Hanging out with creative people does rub off and does make life richer. His lesson to me? Force yourself to use a 35mm lens. All the photos I took today were taken with my 35mm F2.0 lens. When I got home I discovered this lens is sharper than my others, which made me happy too.

Oh, and none of these photos have been retouched other than to apply a little unsharp mask. I see there’s a bit of dirt on my sensor. Gotta go clean that off. Someday I gotta get together again with Jan Kabili, who does Photoshop and get some more workflow tips (I videoed her a year ago giving Thomas tips, time for another lesson!).

UPDATE: I forgot, all of my photography is public domain. You can steal it! Copy it! Use it in your mashups or in whatever you like (dart boards, etc).