Friday, February 23, 2007

Comments still not working - Help!

So I'm still not seeing comments. Here are my current comment settings on Blogger:

The comments settings on Blogger for Onotech

I can't figure out what should be different. If you have any ideas, please click through to Flickr and leave comments there -- they seem to have commenting figured out!!

Personal Information: Beware the search session

The New York Times has an article on a new service,, sponsored by TrustedID. You can search for your social security or credit card numbers to see if they're already floating about the Internet:

TrustedID, a company that sells services to consumers to give them more control over who sees their credit reports, has compiled a database of compromised numbers that could already be traded or sold on the Internet.

It has created an online search tool,, where people can check at no cost to see if their number is one that is in a too-public domain.

TrustedID said that about 220,000 people have tested their numbers in the three weeks since the site has been open to the public.

The Social Security number remains the personal identifier not only for government documents, but for credit applications and medical records, as well as video and cellphone stores.

I went there and typed in my SSN -- according to them, it hasn't been hacked. I was going to type in my credit card number for a similar check, when I stopped and thought, "they have a search session ID on me -- and if I type that number in now, they'll have associated that CC number with that SSN. This is Not A Good Thing."

A problem with the modern world is that databases are everywhere, forever, and creating an a-->b-->c-->d linkage when you've got highly distinct key values (like these ID numbers) is just way too easy. Even with the best will in the world toward TrustedID, I don't think I'll hand them that particular linkage on a whim and implicit trust of the NYTimes.

This same fact is, of course, at least half the reason the modern world works so well -- but it's important that we're all aware that the downside has teeth, too.

As an aside -- this demonstrates the continuing value of journalistic trust. If I'd read that article on RandomInternetNewsSite, I wouldn't have clicked through and entered my SSN at all. I assume the Times has checked these guys out, and that they're fairly legit.

Of course, I assumed that the Times had checked out Dick Cheney and WMDs in Iraq, too :-(

Please comment!

Zoli has been nudging me to turn on comments. I finally (with his input) figured out how. Yes, I do run a software company, and yes, *your* user interface is probably more obscure than you realize.

This is a test to see of comments show up. Thanks, Zoli!

But Fred, maybe you *belong* on top of the Google charts...

Fred Wilson is perturbed that he's got Google Juice.
"I got 36 visits (about 1% of all my visits yesterday) from searches on "we were dead before the ship even sank". That's a lot of words to write in a Google search so those people were clearly looking for the new modest mouse record of the same name...
...Number one is Wikipedia, the owner of more Google Juice than any other website in the world. Number two is this blog. Amazon gets the third spot... Modest Mouse's own website barely made the first page.
...Google Juice is not a perfect system by a long shot. Everytime I see this effect and I see it a lot, I think... there's a lot more headroom in search."
The implication of Fred's post is that there's something wrong with a system that puts him ahead of Amazon, and ahead of the band he's writing about. I disagree. From my perspective, Fred is a perfect example of a highly authoritative source on music.
* He posts about music often.
* His posts are very timely - many of them are about pre-release albums, release parties, and real breaking news.
* He posts widely -- gems from the archive, brand-new stuff, top-10 lists.
* He has a theme - I'd call it "classic rock meets new music."
* And he posts about the range of musical activities -- listening to albums, going to concerts, playing Guitar Hero, analyzing Last FM and Pandora, etc.

I recently decided that I needed to stop being passive and out of touch about music, and Fred was one of a few key sources that I used to seed my search -- I also talked to a couple friends, and then took their recommendations and fed them into Amazon, Last FM, and a few other good sources of "related stuff." I've bought about 20 CDs in the past month, and am really happy with all these new tunes.

"Someone I trust enough to buy CDs based on their recommendation" is exactly who should be at the top of a Google search, I think. And the band itself doesn't qualify.

So enjoy your Google juice, Fred. You've earned it.

Friday, February 16, 2007

The empowerment of open-source innovation

Smaller. Cheaper. Lighter. More effective. Opens new vistas of usage, allowing people formerly reliant on expensive, centralized solutions to express themselves more freely.

The PC?
The cell phone?
Browser-based apps?

Nope. IEDs.

Andrew Cockburn has a nice piece in the LA Times about "explosively formed penetrators," the subject of much dinosauric rhetoric from our Dear Leader.

The punchline:

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld...bequeathed the Army the Future Combat Systems, a $168-billion extravaganza of computers, sensors and robots... Rumsfeld's mentor, defense intellectual Andrew Marshall, marketed the phrase "revolution in military affairs" as a justification for high-tech programs such as Future Combat Systems. But those copper disks [of EFP IEDs] represent the real revolution in military affairs, and it is not in our favor.

Are you a startup guy? Open source stack? Commodity servers? VOIP provider? Sneer at the old, the slow, the walnut-brained, who you're rapidly replacing with your clever new widget?

News flash: the nation-state you rely upon for the stability, social mobility, and capital that makes your life possible is fighting people just like you. And those people are winning.

I see the Bat Signal in the sky. After we make sure that we're the good guys, how are we going to help the good guys win?

Monday, February 12, 2007

PowerSchwag from PowerSet

I went to the PowerSet funding party on Saturday. It was the best party I can remember since that Scient/Viant guy flew in a 747 full of flowers, rented out Treasure Island, and shot off fireworks in February 2000. I was having a housewarming party in the Berkeley hills that same evening, and we got a great aerial lights show for free.

Click the photo for schwag commentary. Here was the haul:


By far the most memorable event was one of their investors (Peter Thiel?) reading a lengthy poem about the history of search - which was surprisingly inclusive, mentioning Altavista, Inktomi, Excite, Yahoo, Ask, etc. Lots of mockery of the dropped ball of Yahoo and the failed NLP promise of Ask; and the punch line to the whole thing, which I am doing no poetic justice to whatsoever, was something like,

"We'll know we've succeeded when Google's best guess,
will be to say I don't know, so go ask PowerSet."

I'm assuming that their codebase will be better than their rhymes.

Mike Arrington posted and linked to some video, and for more flava, I am sure there are tons of action shots on Flickr.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A shout-out to Marc Canter

Marc dropped an "emotional outburst" (his words) on the blogosphere last night, after Om Malik wrote a post on white-label social networks that didn't mention Marc's company PeopleAggregator.

The first person I ever heard say "social networks are a feature, not a product" is Paul Martino, who brought Marc in to advise Tribe Networks back when the whole world temporarily didn't care about the Internet. Marc has been thinking and building this stuff for years, and not only is he defining the white-label social network space, he's been an essential thinker for me and plenty of other entrepreneurs with his concept of "digital life aggregators" combined with vertical web services. Vertical web services like, ah, events.

Thanks, Marc. Keep leading the charge. And occasionally wearing your heart on your sleeve is way OK with me.