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Well it was DC3, but my first, and it was honestly pretty darn fun. Presentation battles,"battle decks", were wicked, cheers to Mr. KK+ (http://kriskrug.com/) for that idea, it's hilarious. Some day I'll do my own battle, I swear.

Great, great demos by all groups. The demos exceeded everything I expected from the meet. Ideas I've had on the way home:

LiveVote (http://livevote.ca/):
- Multiple votes on one page?
- Multiple votes per text?
- Pie segment labels with the numbers?
- Does the real-time feedback slow down significantly when lots of people are voting? If so, for large-scale votes it would detract from the fun of seeing the vote emerge in realtime.
- While web-voting may not generate as much, if any, revenue, this would be great as an embed-able app for website votes (e.g. Slashdot)

RaytTheNet (http://www.raytthenet.com/):
- Gotta come up with a better route to view full comments other than through a portal.
- Threaded full comments are a must
- Gotta have floating comments, not fixed, with buttons that can minimize & max the comments.
- With respect to organized comment campaigns, this may bring in the money, but would that be at the expense of dominating discussion?
- New logo

IndoChino (http://indochino.com/):
- You're right to be vigilant about quality; quality is key
- Seek feedback from users on the frequent wear spots on suits & try to improve designs to reduce wear
- Consider opening up a manufacturing shop in India as well
o Superb tailors and very diverse fabric selection
- Document and display the working conditions and pay of employees to ensure that people are comfortable with, and can speak to, the way IndoChino treats its employees.
- Keep track of the buying habits of customers. Do they try one, then buy a heap? If so, it will hint at effective ways to market the service & product (like live demos, for example).
- Interactive suit-assembly app to pick suits, shirts, ties, and other accessories to see how they look
- You mentioned scale tonight, how would costs, revenues, and staffing scale from, say, 5 suits/day to 2000 suits/day?

Roland - definitely gotta get a tripod for doing video. 2 cameras, one on the presenter, the other on the people asking questions, then edit the vid together? Video by hand .. haven't seen it yet, but I bet it's shaky with all that turning you were doing.

Overall, a very cool event. Boris (http://bmannconsulting.com/), thanks for the invite and the coordination, and I can't wait for the next one.

Updated for corrections, more links, and new ideas.

Music Industry Woes

I came across this interesting article from Rolling Stone:

The Record Industry's Decline -- RollingStone.com

Aparently the music business is in dire straits.

It's taken the music industry a long time to come to grips with the Internet, but they still don't get how the Internet could be helping them. They are too busy suing customers through their proxy law office, the RIAA, for file sharing.

So being a music lover and having got so much from the music I've paid for (300+ CDs and still growing), I'd like to share some advice with the music industry:

1. The Internet is superb for sharing. Use this advantage.

2. Music can be encoded by varing quality, from piss-poor to CD- and DVD- and SACD- quality (and I'm willing to guess it sounds that much better through some of Ed Mitner's cool gadgets)

3. Digital music sales are the future of music.

4. People like to sample music before they purchase it

5. Centralized Peer-to-Peer systems combine fast searching with distributed bandwidth, making them cheap to run. This is why Napster was the killer app of file sharing.

What I see working for music is a legal Napster service where all music is available for download in a very low-quality version. People can sample entire albums and get a listen to them to know which songs they like.

Being able to sample entire albums of music was a huge advantage for me in the Napster days, and my CD buying output must have doubled, or more, during that time. Suddenly I could get music from all kinds of artists; friends could pass along good music recommendations and I could, within minutes, see if I liked the recommendation. And, being a music lover, I could pass on many recommendations to them as well.

The idea: make the entire library available in a low-quality encoding sufficient for people to get a feel for the songs, listen to them as long as one likes, and then make a buying decision. The person can then buy the CD-quality songs and get a token to access the P2P network to download the song. The labels can contribute some of their own bandwidth to give faster download speeds to big customers.

If the labels create a 3rd party to operate the infrastructure, then they could all access the system independently, even small labels. If the big labels try to lock out the little guys, then the little guys should build their own.

For DRM or copy protection, the labels can do the same thing that Warner does: embed personal information in the tracks. That can be scaled up as needed to discourage people more. Last 4 digits of the credit card? OOmph! The psychological impact of that alone would probably stop people.]

There are a lot of advantages:

- Downloads will run on any and all systems, no lock-in to any one vendor or service.

- No middle man. The labels are perfectly capable of operating a tech company if they can maintain a stable of very busy lawyers. Labels need to be a bit discerning; not to the point of being snobbish and abusing their customers like they are now, but they should inherently dislike the fact that Walmart sells a lot of their DVDs. Cutting out Walmart means a lot more money, and selling music on your terms.

- The bandwidth can be distributed, so the bandwidth costs would be low.

- People can sample music quickly, which I believe is key to making the purchase after a recommendation. This is how people find out and acquire music quickly: by being able to sample it very quickly after the recommendation.

- Labels could develop a drag & drop sharing app with the ability to add friends and chat, and drag & drop music onto the app window to share with those friends. Add a grouping function to multi-cast music to groups of like interest.

- Labels could put up a lot more music. Live recordings and rare tracks on those "Japanese EP edition" records.

- If labels so desire, they could sell directly a lot of other music-related items. The service could be advertising-driven, for example.

Safari 3 and iPhone

So we have Safari 3 (Beta) and the iPhone coming out. Safari 3 for the PC is an interesting move. Apple could, if it pleases, include Safari as part of iTunes, and thus increase its user-base and potential market share many times over.

Safari 3 also introduced us to some interesting features, and I think we're going to see at least one of these features find its way into Safari for iPhone - expandable text boxes. On the PC this is a nice feature, but it would have great appeal on the iPhone because text boxes on the iPhone would, by default, be even smaller, so being able to grow them out would really compensate for the initial size.

Anyway, looks like the iPhone, like LOTRO, will sell well no matter its flaws, but the next revision, or the revision after that, is the iPhone that will really take off, much like the iPod. I'd guess 3g HSD/UPA, a mini-USB port, a CF-card slot and Adobe Flash capabilities would be the killer iPod. Apple is also going to learn about the appeal of video and still-frame with their device, and I'd expect the camera and video capabilities to get a good bump in the next revision, or two, as well. iVideo and iPhoto for iPhone, anyone?

Titans: Jobs and Gates interviews

These two video clips are, perhaps, some of the most exciting interviews I've ever seen. Watching Steve Jobs and Bill Gates discuss companies, strategies, people, and politics... I just love this stuff:

The origins of Mothers' Day

From the voice of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: "Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe out dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace...
-- Julia Ward Howe


And the history of Mothers' Day is quite different from what it is today:

Mothers' Day at Wikipedia

Wisdom from a dying teenager.

I came across this story from a Washington State news website; it won't get much national publicity, but I hope it does.


Travis Britt, a teenager in Washington, was diagnosed with a serious form of cancer that came back even after heavy chemotherapy, and claimed his life. He knew he was going to die before it happened. Here is what he had to say to his graduating class, and the families and strangers in attendance:

Travis Britt's speech

This is what Travis said in his speech on June 17, 2006:

"How do you react when you learn you have only 6 months to live? How do you react when you find out you won't be going to college with your friends and watch the kids you grew up with become adults? How do you react when you find out you won't be getting married and starting a family the way you had dreamed about doing? How do you react?

On June 17, one year ago today, I was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma. In the past years I have gone through 10 months of the most intensive chemotherapy they've been able to give cancer patients which caused me to lose my hair, shed 50 pounds and be force fed through a feeding tube in the my nose for three months.

After facing all these challenges in the last year, I found out on April 23 that I was cancer free.

That excitement was short-lived. On June 6, 2006, my doctors told me that my cancer had returned. This time there is no cure.

How did I react to all this? I lived in the moment. I didn't sit and dwell on the fact that I might not live. Instead I lived every moment like it could be my last.

I will continue to live in the moment for every moment I have left. I challenge every single one of you to do the same for as many moments as you have.

What I have learned in the past year is that family and friends are the most important pieces of life. As I stand up here today and look out at all these faces, I thank you for all the support and love you have shown me in the last 12 months.

Life is a very fragile thing. It can be taken from you at any moment. I feel fortunate that I have the knowledge of knowing that my time is limited and that I need to live the rest of my life to the fullest and make as many memories as I can.

So, as my final challenge to each of you, live your life and make memories with the ones you love. Thank you."

Reign Over Me, Vancouver

It was a dark and stormy night; perfect for a movie.

The plot for Reign Over Me has some interesting possibilities; a dentist meets an old college buddy who was made a widower when his entire family, even the poodle, were killed in one of the flights that crashed into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. He fails to make contact at that moment, but fear not: on film, the odds of seeing someone again in NYC is always high, especially when you don’t know where they live.

Adam Sandler plays the widower (Charlie), who is now resigned to his own world of video games, records, redecorating his kitchen. Wash, rinse, repeat every day. Don Cheadle plays the dentist (Alan), who is having a crisis of his own: his marriage has lost its passion.

Finally, when the two old college buddies do reconnect, they each recognize a quality in the other that allows them to be free from their problems. Charlie finally recognizes someone who knows nothing about his personal tragedy, and therefore someone who doesn’t remind him of that tragedy every waking moment of his life; Alan recognizes the freedom of being a bachelor and letting loose, having fun without obligation.

What begins as a good setup soon begins to break down. The Charlie character isn’t very well thought out when it comes to his opening up about his tragedy. The angry outbursts and violence are powerful, but make the character one-dimensional. His paranoia is not relevant, more a “conspiracy guy” trait, than that of a widower. And the Alan character’s family crisis is vaguely defined and poorly executed. It’s hard to believe that there was ever any passion to lose in the marriage, when the wife’s one habit when not in the kitchen making dinner is drinking red wine and doing puzzles. And the two never really fight, the majority of the scenes of home life involve Charlie knocking on Alan’s door wanting Alan to come out and play. The family crisis just isn’t given any quality scenes to build the rift between wife and husband.

The movie is somewhat redeemed by the comedy, but some of the funnier moments are timed poorly with the events of the scenes. The movie stars Adam Sandler, but didn’t fit the Adam Sandler jokes, and this is his own failure as an actor: breaking out of his mold. This is a movie that, 40 years from now, we can expect to see redone and improved.

4 out of 10: rent on a quiet night when nothing else catches your fancy.

Musings on Jeff Buckley, a poem.

I went down to the river one evening
to partake in its waters and see the
Summer delights that lay ahead. As I
parted the waters before me and swam
further into the river, the river
spirit revealed himself to me.
Dressed in midnight, he opened his
coat, revealing its silky, lustrous
lilac lining, and said "I got what
you need." Seeing the varied and
splendorous pleasures laid out before
me, he drew me in. As I drank wine
and ate grapes on a chaise, my
appetites grew stronger, so I swam
forward, smiling back at the river
spirit, who was grinning broadly,
offering everything he had to keep
me for a while and compose a little
song, write a poem that he could
call his for a time. As the strings
on the guitar chorded together,
sounding at my lightest touch, I
saw the fragments of many songs
begin to form, each chord in this
song a new song of its own, arias
for this new world. As I played
and the river spirit enjoyed his
Syrah, I saw here a future where the
lightest touch of finger on string
evoked the deep welling of new and
undiscovered music for me to play.
"So what do you think?" said the river
spirit, "Would you like to stay and
compose your opus?" I knew I couldn't
say no, so I cast off my shell, joined
the spirit of the river, and it
is here where I play now, and dwell.

-- By Graham Fair

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 Canada License.

DRM and The 10 Commandments.

The other night I was watching The Ten Commandments, perhaps one of the best movies of the “mega movie” era, which also includes Spartacus, Ben Hur, and a few others. The story of Moses in the film is a funny one. After all the miracles that God performs to free the Hebrew people, they almost seem to freely abandon him (Him) in favour of a golden idol, sinning less than 40 days after Moses climbs Mount Sinai.

It’s happening with DRM right about now. At just shy of four years since the debut of the iTunes Store (iTMS), it seems that the big four labels are now reconsidering DRM, their own tablet of commandments on what the faithful law-abiders can and can't do with music. Publicly, they are claiming that DRM is no longer viable, but this is little more than a pleasant fiction considering they required it four years ago.

So why would big labels and their enforcer oppose DRM? Well their response to Steve Job’s open letter reveals it all: FairPlay, Apple’s music monopoly technology. Prior to putting pressure on Apple to abandon DRM, the labels were pressuring Apple to support variable pricing, breaking Apple’s contract with users. The labels wanted to gouge customers more for newer music, and gouge us less for older music, just like with CDs. That plan didn’t work out, and in 2006 Apple expanded its own music empire considerably, which included its own DRM and, essentially, control over the majority of digital music sales.

Facing the prospect of having to go through Apple to sell the majority of their digital music, the labels are now doing the unthinkable: trying to bust Apple’s monopoly. The labels will abandon everything but control of their music, and that includes DRM. And once they succeed in making DRM disappear, don’t be surprised if Apple suddenly loses its license to their music.

It is obvious right now that the labels are trying to break Apple’s control over their digital music. What isn’t so obvious is what the labels will do once the digital music market is control-free. After all, they have seen the power Apple has, so they are probably planning on replacing Apple’s brand of control with their own, only with more restrictions on fair-use and customer rights. That’s my bet – music labels love control as much as Microsoft, maybe more, and without Apple, they would be free to impose control on consumers.

Review: Children of Men (Go see it)

Children of Men is a disturbing movie. I went to see it with the folks, and afterwards while having dinner with them, I couldn’t really speak, because I was still disturbed emotionally by the movie. Set in Britain, it’s a post apocalyptic view of the UK after the collapse of the western industrialized world. The story reveals early on that New York has been nuked, and violence and faction conflict dominate what was once North America and Europe. It’s a blanket generalization, because in truth, a lot of the world would carry on largely uninterrupted.

The collapse of the world began around 2009 when people (women in the movie, men in the book) become infertile and stopped having babies. In the opening scene, Britain is mourning the death of the youngest person in the world, who was something like 18 years old. The youngest person in the world is instantly transformed into an international star by virtue of the fact that they are literally the last person to be born that is still alive. It brings to mind the story of the BBC in Afghanistan – the B has been there for years, and they have been running stories by radio for years. One year one of the characters in the most popular story died, and there was a day of mourning all over Afghanistan. Amazingly enough, this is a true fact. This is the net effect of the young people dying in Children of Men, women everywhere mourn and cry like it was their baby.

What disturbed me so much was the way people responded to the collapse of their world. Those still living lost all respect for human life and dignity. Factions erupted and terrorism became commonplace. The state instituted martial law and became xenophobic overnight. Thousands of immigrants were deported or put in control zones and were exterminated at will. Even the UK, supposedly the last country that was still largely unchanged, looked as worse as cities in Europe did after WWII. Suicide was so common that there was even a drug for it, called “Quietus”. Quietus is actually a word in and of itself (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/quietus), but my first reaction was to observe that it is actually a compound word; its components being: “Quiet us”, which disturbed me even more because it implied that the state endorsed suicide and relied on it to control people all the more.

Perhaps the last thing to disturb me was the ending. I won’t spoil it, but I will say that the ending is a metaphor for cutting all ties and burning all bridges (I learned this in the commentary on the website from directors that admire Cuaron). As someone that wants to know all of my own history, and preserve it, this was the last straw. Abandon your home, if not flee it willingly? This is the last thing I would ever think of doing, because I love this life and wouldn’t ever want to give it up, to never be seen or heard of again.

That said, the movie is superb and new and fresh, it’s decidedly non-Hollywood. If you think about what you are seeing enough, you realize that it is a beautiful way of making you realize that all life is precious. All humans are equal and worthy of common dignity, and nobody should ever be manipulated or left out in the cold. Light a candle in the window for all the people of the world, for one day they might see it and know that they aren’t alone and that someone cares for them, even if the twain never shall meet. And this is part of what makes Children of Men an awesome movie.

My Rating: 9.5 (read: See it, even if you aren’t into this sort of movie)

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