Daily Archives: July 11, 2008

Jason Calacanis hands keys to blogosphere to Louis Gray

Why does stuff like this happen? Blame it on iPhone fever. It’s a slow news day, other than Apple’s crap. So, Jason goes out and trolls for attention, the way that only he can do. Brilliant at it, too. Got BusinessWeek’s Sarah Lacy to bite. Sarah, Sarah, Sarah. I really do need to teach you something about Jason, don’t I?

But I couldn’t resist the temptation to take Jason seriously, either, and assume he’s handing the keys to the blogosphere over to the new guard. Who’s that? Well, let’s start with Louis Gray. He’s my top most interesting guy according to FriendFeed stats (only TechCrunch’s Mike Arrington beats him).

But, seriously. Jason’s playing all of us. And, anyway, he knows how to get us all to listen to him when he needs that. Blogging no longer is the only tool with which someone like Jason can get us all involved in his drama.

Or, like Mathew Ingram says, “give me a break.”

Is FriendFeed going to hire everyone at Google?

Gary Burd (new FriendFeed employee) has lunch with us (he's on right).

FriendFeed has been hiring Google’s superstars. This has got to be worrying for Google.

Who is the latest to get hired? Gary Burd (that’s him wearing the FriendFeed shirt in the photo above). What did he do before joining FriendFeed? Oh, just some little things. He was the guy who opened Google’s Kirkland Office. He ran the Google Talk team. Before Google he worked on several key things at Microsoft, including developing the Trident HTML rendering engine, the core rendering component of Internet Explorer 4.

Over on FriendFeed we discussed some of the other team members (they only have eight employees so far, so haven’t made a major dent into Google, but they are definitely getting some superstars). Here are the ones I remember:

Bret Taylor. During his four years at Google, he led more than 25 successful product launches, including Google Maps, Google Local, Google Web Toolkit, the Google Maps API, and Google’s Developer product group.

Paul Buchheit? He was the creator and lead developer of Gmail, which anticipated many aspects of Web 2.0, including the idea of Ajax, long before that term was coined. He developed the original prototype of Google AdSense as part of his work on Gmail. He also suggested the company’s now-famous motto “Don’t be evil” in a 2001 meeting on company values.

Sanjeev Singh is a former Google engineer, playing a role in both Google Mail and Google Search Appliance. Prior to Google Sanjeev worked at social annotations site Third Voice and a government research lab.

Kevin Fox: from 2003 to January 2008, Kevin Fox worked as a user experience designer at Google, designing such products as Gmail, Google Calendar, and the second version of Google Reader.

Tudor Bosman is another. Is a great developer from Google, and was principal member of technical staff at Oracle.

Back at the end of March (shortly after joining FriendFeed) I interviewed Bret Taylor and Paul Buchheit on my cell phone and later I interviewed Kevin Fox, designer, who told me a bit about his design philosophy.

This is a superstar team and is the most interesting startup I follow. Do you have any who have more interesting teams than this?

Why is AT&T Family Plan so difficult?

Last year it took two months to get our iPhones all onto AT&T’s family plan. I visited the AT&T store half a dozen times, spent hours on the phone with them before it was all done properly. I assumed then that it was a problem with Apple and AT&T working together and first-day problems that I forgave.

But, today, our iPhones are again on individual plans (not voluntarily, either) and I was told to visit an AT&T store “soon” to get all my accounts onto a family plan. Apple employees tried over and over again to get our phones to join up into a Family Plan, but they couldn’t make it work, so they gave up and told me to go to an AT&T store. The fun starts over again.

This time I totally blame AT&T for not working with Apple and making sure that the process is much smoother for existing customers. Especially since last year Apple wasn’t even part of the problem.

So, AT&T, why is it so hard to make it easy to join all your accounts together into a family plan?

Making it worse this year is I have several accounts:

  1. My iPhone, which now is a 3G.
  2. My son’s iPhone, which is now a 3G.
  3. My wife’s iPhone which will stay an original iPhone.
  4. My Nokia N82 account.
  5. My Nokia N95 account.

So, I have five accounts using several different kinds of phones, which makes it hard to join them all together.

Anyone else having this problem?

UPDATE: AT&T, over the phone, fixed all of our accounts, so I’m happy. They don’t know why the Apple machines weren’t showing that we were all on a family plan yesterday.

It’s worth the hell

Apple continues to amaze. I’ve never seen a company have a technical meltdown in front of the eyes of the world the way Apple did today. Yet when my son got out of the store after three hours of hell inside the store (we were snuck to the front of the line by someone who gave us cuts so that we could be among the first to get one, so that we could document what it was like for him to walk into the store and be #1 — he waited for two days) he said he still loved Apple and still loved his 3G iPhone.

After playing with it today I’ve got to agree. This is the company that can give you a crappy camera. No video. Charge you more than other devices. Make you wait hours in line. Take hours to get your credit card approved, your iPhones activated. And, at the end of it all, make you feel good.

I’ve been comparing the iPhone 3G to my Nokia N82 and N95 and my Microsoft Mobile-powered Samsung Blackjack II cell phones and, again, the iPhone kicks ass.

The App Store is simply brilliant. The new things available for the iPhone are just years ahead of other phones. The experience of using an iPhone is just way ahead of even the best Nokia and Microsoft phones (although I met with both companies recently and don’t expect them to let Apple have all the fun for long).

It’s worth the hell. Apple and AT&T will do just fine after fixing all the bugs that caused today’s debacle.

That said, no other company in the world has so much brand love in reserve that it can get this reaction. Any other company in the world would have seen riots after it took more than an hour to process even a portion of the first group of 20 people to enter the store.

VentureBeat has the video of the ‘iPocolypse.”

Unbelieveable.

It’s worth the hell.

What do you think?

Stunning: Yosemite Extreme Gigapixel Panoramic Imaging Project

First, Microsoft deserves a kudo for its Pro Photo Summit. John Harrington wrote up the highlights and linked to many of the coolest things.

But the coolest thing I saw on Wednesday?

Was something I saw at lunch: the Yosemite Extreme Gigapixel Panoramic Imaging Project. They mapped out Yosemite with 20 high-resolution panoramic cameras. To give you an idea how cool these images are, here’s an earlier version they did. The 20 new images should be up on the xRez site this week, they told me.

I liked it so much that I did three videos. If you only have time for one, watch this 17-minute video, which is the second one below.

The first video was one I filmed during lunch with Greg Downing and Eric Hanson, co founders of xRez Studios, which did the xRez Yosemite Gigapixel Project. They are the two geeks who built the systems to stitch together these huge images (gigapixels). Digital Producer has an indepth article on the technology they are using.

The second video and third video I filmed after the summit’s first day ended and things were a little quieter. This time Bill Crow of Microsoft’s Live Labs joined us. You can read his blog here, which is on HD Photography. These two videos not only give you a good tour around the Yosemite project, which contains some of the highest-resolution images of Yosemite ever seen (so much detail is in them that you can zoom into climbers on the top of Half Dome), but also Bill explains the technology that lets you view and zoom these images over the Internet. It’s called “Seadragon” and it’s quite remarkable. I wish these videos were a little sharper, but you’ll get the idea of just how cool this technology is.

Yes, that’s Thomas Hawk sitting next to Bill Crow.

Oh, and all of this stuff is demoed on Microsoft’s new Surface table-top computer, which is quite remarkable too. This is the first time I’ve really gotten a good hands-on look at the Surface and I see a TON of stuff that I liked a lot. I could play with one of those for hours.

Think Microsoft isn’t innovative? You can’t say that anymore, sorry.

Oh, and one more example of what Microsoft is doing in photography that just is magical: Microsoft’s Deep Photo. Dan Fay got first video of this new project and it’s wow. You’ll hear me in the front row saying “wow” when researcher Michael Cohen uses this technology to remove haze from an image of New York City.