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A case against the Psychic Friends Network

Here's a site listing the top 87 worst predictions about the future. This list just goes to show that one shouldn't make bold statements, lest they end up on some two-bit website that offers "Sexy Singles in Philadelphia" and serve as fodder for some bored college student or employee to ridicule over lunch.

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Where are the social network APIs?

Rumors has it that Facebook is on the block and looking to get $2B.

I just heard a Knowledge@Wharton podcast by my former professor and Supernova founder, Kevin Werbach, entitled, "What Makes An Online Community Tick?" featuring Craig Newmark of Craig's List, Julie Herendeen of Yahoo, and Bill Flitter of Pheedo.

Scoble and others are raving about Second Life. They're going as far as claiming its an OS.

Social networks are on everyone's minds these days. Can they last? I'm not too sure.

Amazon believes it had a sound business model. They make money by selling stuff. If people can find things more easily they are more likely to make a purchase. So Amazon released an API. Take the load off the company's shoulders and let others make Amazon better.

Google: same thing. AdWords is a solid business model. It helps everyone make money! Advertisers don't waste ads on people they can't reach; Google takes a bit off the top. All this is funded by people buying things from the ads they see. AdWords has an API. It's in advertisers' best interests for AdWords to be as good as possible. "Fine, do it yourself", says Google. Google provides an excellent service, and advertisers make it even better for themselves. Most of the products Google puts out has an API. They say, "we don't need you to come to our site to make money, we do just fine on other people's sites."

MMORPGs are a different kind of social network. They have some bonus activity attached that only makes the network stronger. Blizzard/Linden can and do charge for this value-added. They also allow scripting of the game. They let others make their software better, driving more people to pay for the service.

What about Facebook and MySpace? They have no APIs. The "software" is closed off to tinkerers for fear that an API could do away with the need to visit the site and feast our eyes upon lovely banner and click-thru ads. Pretty much anything I could imagine wanting from a Facebook API would bring me alternate ways of getting information available on the site, ways that are far away from ads. Tom Carden's brainstorm of uses for a MySpace API mostly deal with getting data off of the network in a different way. He wants podcasts, RSS feeds, etc, just like I do. And I'm sure many others do also.

So will a lack of an API drive Facebook and MySpace into the ground? Probably not. MySpace is already owned by News Corp and Facebook will get bought out any day now. But the lack of an API does signal that these networks are scared and that their revenue models may be a bit flimsy.

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Stefan Lessard (of the Dave Matthews Band) Blogs — sorta

Ants Marching, a DMB fan site, links to a "blog" post that Bassist Stefan Lessard (aka Fonzy) has made on a snowboarding/skateboarding site he started with Ed Robertson of the Barenaked Ladies.

Once I read the news, I went to the site and looked for the RSS icon to popup in the address bar, but no luck. My excitement about this "blog" quickly waned when I realized that I'm actually going to have to go to the site to see when its updated. Ugh, checking for updates is so Web 1.0. Bring it to my feed reader, dammit!

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Rails 1.1 is out

DHH has posted to 37signals' Signal vs. Noise blog that Rails 1.1 is out, with a host of new features. Every new feature in there seems to have come out of a need for it in a real-world app. Instead of adding in things that they think developers might use, they added things that they know developers will use (because they themselves as developers have used it). Brilliant.

I think what I'll like the best is RJS (Javascript written in Ruby) since I never really picked up Javascript. I just wish I had the time to actually try this stuff out…

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VC Ted Schlein of KPCB speaks at Wharton

I recorded most of Venture Capitalist Ted Schlein's talk last Thursday here at Wharton. Mr. Schlein has been with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers since 1996, when he joined to manage their Java Fund. He spoke about his experiences in working for Symantec and his earlier experiences at various startups. He also talked about VC in Asia and the challenges VCs face in going over there.

The audio quality is markedly better than the Kevin Smith talk, partly because of better acoustics and because I was sitting a lot closer to him.

Direct link to file.

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Happy Birthday, Mac OS X

Mac OS X turns five today. John Siracusa of Ars Technica has an article chronicling its history.

For me at least, the success of OS X is due to the "How did I live without this?" feeling I get every time a new OS upgrade comes out. I'm not talking about just features wise, because who knows the last time I used the Dashboard or Smart Folders was, but also performance-wise and UI refinement (pinstripes anyone?). Siracusa sums it up nicely:

A side-by-side test-drive of Mac OS X 10.0 and 10.4 is shocking. The eternal debate is whether this gap exists because 10.4 is so good, or because 10.0 was so, so bad.

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Kevin Smith Video

Here is a video of part of Kevin Smith's talk two nights ago at Irvine Auditorium here at Penn. There's a lot of bad words in it, so keep it away from sensitive ears.

The file is around 30mb, so download it if you can. It should work on iPods with video, but I haven't tried it yet on mine.

Direct link to file.

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Silent Bob Speaks at Penn

Just got back from watching Kevin Smith (aka Silent Bob) give a 4 hour Q&A session here at Penn. I captured some audio that is hopefully decent quality (on my phone) and some video of a story he told.

He also showed a cool clip from Clerks II (which he was pretty adamant about no one recording), which I imagine has never before been seen. The clip features a small clash between Lord of the Rings fans and a Star Wars fan in the restaurant and another scene where Jay starts dancing in the drive-thru.

I'll try and get the stuff up tomorrow. I wish I could have captured more as he had some great stories to tell (all very Not Safe For Work, however).

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Get It Right Or Pay The Price

Vista has been delayed again. This time, the consumer editions have been pushed back until January 2007.

Dear Microsoft,
It's "underpromise and overdeliver", not "overpromise and underdeliver". As Counselor Kevin 'Ug' Lee said during the opening credits of the early-90s Nickelodeon show, Salute Your Shorts, "Get it right or pay the price."

Regards,
Martin

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Google Finance Rocks

Google Finance was unveiled today. Leave it to Google to make an information-dense page look clean.

There's some nice little AJAX things going on. Switching between indices on the main page is done on the fly and the little popups of key management with pictures is a really nice touch.

I didn't necessarily like that Flash was used for charts at first glance, but that's because I'm using the Flashblock extension in Firefox so it required an extra click. Flash can be overdone a lot of the time, but here it is used nicely. The UI for the chart is unlike anything I've seen, with a 5-year timeline above the full chart which allows for users to select an arbitrary range of dates. The news items to the right of the chart also change in realtime to reflect the range of dates selected on the chart.

Google Finance is leaps and bounds ahead of the competition (even my previous favorite, Yahoo! Finance). The problem with Y! Finance is that its too ad-ridden. While I expect Google Finance to add ads eventually, they'll probably be unobtrusive text ads. On Y!F, however, we've got standard ads all over the place as well as links to "payment required" news stories.

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