Daily Archives: March 13, 2008

Qik’s from SXSW

I got a few interesting Qik videos at the SXSW conference.

Here we visit AMD’s hotel room to get a look at their new chipset that enables $500 PCs that can properly display Vista’s UI and let you play video games with decent quality. That’s a real breakthrough on price/performance due to integrating ATI’s graphic acceleration technology in with AMD’s processor.

iLike’s CEO, Ali Partovi, told me about a deal they made with R.E.M. to distribute their new album that comes out on March 24 for free.

I visited the exhibit hall, and got a few videos.

1. Make Magazine. Phillip Torrone is one of my heros, he is the most creative person I know.
2. MyXer. Mobile content house.
3. Empressr, a cool online multimedia tool/service.
4. AdaptiveBlue, a toolbar that lets you shortcut search.
5. Scenechronize, a production management tool for movie/video companies.

Earlier in the week I caught up with Kyte.tv’s CEO and got a good look at their new video streaming and video distribution system. I’ll be testing that against Qik soon and will write that up when I have a good chance to test the two systems out against each other (I use Qik from my cell phone to bring you these videos). Unfortunately the connection kept going down, so we split that video up into five pieces. Here they are: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V.

Finally, Twitter star, Jim Long. Known as @newmediajim on Twitter. Why is he a star? Because he has an interesting job: he’s a cameraman for NBC in President Bush’s press pool. Why is he interesting? Because on his Twitter account he gives us details behind the scenes about what it’s like to cover the President.

Using Qik is still an experiment, by the way. Some people like these, others hate them (I film them with my cell phone, so sometimes the video dies right in the middle of an interview and often the audio or video quality isn’t that good. Plus I need a good 3G or WiFi connection to make them work in the first place). But I find I get a much different kind of interview with the cell phone than I do with our bigger pro cameras, so I’ll keep doing them. Would love feedback about how to make them better for you.

Loving my FriendFeed

I love my FriendFeed. Here’s a list of top bloggers who are using the service. Why do I love it? It’s one place you can find all my stuff and, even, comment on it. It’s amazing the discussions that a 140-character “Tweet” on Twitter can generate. I subscribe to a ton of people on FriendFeed and notice that often the conversations after a Twitter message will be 1000x longer (and generally more interesting) than the Twitter itself. Good stuff, this weekend I’ll try out SocialThing too. I got a demo and it looked pretty cool as well (although it doesn’t support as many services).

A real business leader

I’ve met and interviewed hundreds of CEOs and, while you get a sense with many of them that they have leadership skills — after all, why are they CEO if they don’t — it’s rare that you hear a story that so clearly defines a real business leader.

Yesterday I met such a guy: Chairman of Rackspace, Graham Weston.

Why do I know he’s a business leader? Well, let’s back up and start from the top.

Yesterday he drove me around the neighborhood in Windcrest, Texas.

This is not a place you’d probably like to live. It’s economically depressed. How depressed? Well, even the local Walmart closed down.

We drove around and I saw store after store that was shuttered. Evidence of the economic troubles this neighborhood is going through is all around.

So, when Jack Leonhart, mayor of Windcrest, came to Graham and asked him to move Rackspace’s headquarters there, it’d be understandable if Weston would have answered “thanks, but no thanks.”

He probably should have, because when he brought that idea back to Rackspace’s employees and executives they thought he had been doing some illegal drugs somewhere.

It was an idea that everyone hated so much, several Rackspace executives and employees told me, that when Rackspace hired a firm to do focus groups with employees that firm quit after almost getting assaulted at employee meetings. They thought it was a hopeless idea.

After all, there was even a well-publicized shooting at the bus stop in front of the mall.

But today Rackspace is moving into the mall (video of Graham showing me the mall from the outside), right on schedule, and everyone we talked with yesterday thought it was the most exciting thing that Rackspace had ever done.

Wait a freaking second. How did one guy who had an absolutely crazy idea that 1,400 people hated, including his partners, turn this all around in about a year?

Leadership.

Don’t take my word for it, listen in as I talk to Graham and Rackspace co-founder Dirk Elmendorf about this. Elmendorf, in the video, told how Weston convinced 1,400 people one-by-one and turned a crazy idea into reality.

Business leadership. There it is. Thank you to Rob La Gesse who introduced me to not just Graham and Dirk, but a whole range of interesting geeks in San Antonio, TX. That video shows us at a beer fest last night where I met one of the guys who built the first Wifi modem along with a famous developer who built much of the stuff behind the Amiga.

We shot most of the interview on our HD camcorders, so we’ll have that up on FastCompany.tv in a couple of weeks.

In that interview you’ll hear his latest crazy ideas: he’s opening up Rackspace to the community and won’t build a security fence around the Rackspace plant to keep them out. In fact, he’s putting a park right in front of the building. More of that and more about Rackspace’s business in the interview we did with our professional equipment.