Thursday, July 20, 2006

links for 2006-07-20

Vacation starts tomorrow

And, if I want my family to talk to me, that means that posting will be light. Enjoy yourselves.

Fill My iPod is addictive

The other day I decided to have you fill my iPod, and it’s been addictive to watch the songs come in. Some of you have tagged songs, some have tagged podcasts… and almost two dozen of you have subscribed to the feed, which I find hilarious. (It’s my vacation!)

I’ve also found that I use this as a simple “scratch pad” for mp3 downloads. If I stumble on an mp3 while browsing that I want on my iPod, I now have a one-click mechanism to tag it, after which it auto-downloads to my iPod. It’s pretty slick, and I’m enjoying the addition of new stuff to listen to quite a bit.

So, to those who’ve contributed, thanks. Keep it coming!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

links for 2006-07-18

Cowboy Junkies at Morton Arboretum

Meant to mention this over the weekend — we had a wonderful night at the Morton Arboretum watching the Cowboy Junkies perform (their only performance all summer, as they’re currently in the studio recording a new album). The Junkies are particularly meaningful for Robin and me, as we played “The Anniversary Song” as our last dance at our wedding… we were thrilled when Margo Timmons introduced it as “our only happy song” and went right into a soulful rendition that was a highlight for both of us.

The two new songs they played – “Cutting Board Blues” and “Spiral Down” were phenomenal. CBB in particular was a bit edgier than I remember past albums being, and Spiral Down was quite lyrical.

The setting was perfect: at the Morton Arboretum, which doesn’t do many concerts but should. Even more relaxed than Ravinia, it was a fantastic night. Even ran into Steve, which was fun. Evan has some great pictures, including this one of me with none other than Margo (lead singer).

Monday, July 17, 2006

Fill my iPod

The family’s hitting the road on Friday to head east, one week at my parents place on the Jersey Shore, then Robin and the kids head to her folks while I have a fair amount of business travel queued up. Just for the heck of it, I want to see if you’ve got anything for me worth listening to. Do you have a podcast I should listen to? Pick an episode. A song I should know about? Find it and tag it. You get the idea.

How’s it work? Pretty simple. Find an mp3 file, then tag it at with the tag “ricksipod”. creates a feed, which I then run through FeedBurner to create a podcast feed.

Have questions about this? Leave a comment, I’ll follow up.

Update: If you want to subscribe, here’s the feed. Thanks for playing!

FeedBurner acquires BlogBeat

The official announcement’s over at our company blog. I’m really excited about this, as BlogBeat’s become an important part of my understanding of how this blog is consumed and distributed… and the tie-in to our existing analytics with the feed will be a big plus.

Welcome aboard, Jeff! There will be lots to talk about in the months to come, I’m sure. Can’t wait. (Oh, and I just love the FAQ on both Blogbeat’s and our site. Hilarious.)

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Best of luck, Denise

Denise Howell, one of the original lawyer bloggers and one of the most thoughtful commentators on the intersection of technology, law and life, announced over the weekend that she’s been fired. That’s a gutsy thing to do (in a similar situation, I remained silent on the subject), and her commitment to facing the uncertainties of what comes next is admirable.

Like Ernie, Denise was blogging just ahead of me, and my journey down this path has been richer for her introspection, guidance and companionship. I had a memorable dinner with Denise a few years back, and this quote from that evening stands out:

“We had a great meal, and spent much of the evening sharing stories about how our blogs had produced many unexpected surprises and gifts over the past year.”

Hard to imagine we were both just a year and change into blogging… we’re both now approaching five years online. The gifts seemed significant at the time, though now it’s almost laughable how minor they were in comparison. Yet Denise’s friendship remains one of the highlights of the last five years of blogging, and though we haven’t seen each other in a while (Gnomedex, last year?), I’m looking forward to seeing her in a couple months at the Portable Media Expo where I can buy her and Tyler a drink and catch up. Something tells me she’ll already have some great stories about what she’s doing next.

Denise: congrats, good luck, and don’t look back. Jeneane is right — you leave knowing that you did more good for your firm than they did you, and the fact that there are thousands out here who know it ought to make you smile (not as much as Tyler does, but still). Your thanks will be in the doors that open courtesy of those countless connections you’ve made over the years.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

WordPress bug

OK, tech amigos. A very helpful reader pointed out (rather ironically, given my day job) that my archive of RSS posts is busted. Why? Because WordPress is hard-wired to render anything that ends in “/rss” as a feed… even though, in this case, the category is RSS, it’s seeing “/rss” as an operator on the technology category (I’ve set “technology” up as the parent category to RSS).

Anyone have any ideas on how to fix this?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Book update

I recently finished The Bourne Legacy, a book I was incredibly reluctant to read. I first read The Bourne Identity in junior high school, and I have vivid memories of reading The Bourne Ultimatum while traveling in France as a high school student. Ludlum’s gift for complex plots, attention to detail, respect for his characters and deep understanding of conflicting loyalties absolutely enthralled me. I’ve read each book in the series a number of times.

I’d never ready any of Eric van Lustbader’s novels, so I had no idea what to expect. What I was afraid of, though — that Ludlum would turn into the grey haired equivalent of Tupac, to be forever exploited by his family — was completely unfounded. The book is superb.

A casual reader would not pick up on the fact that the book is not Ludlum’s — the style and pacing are familiar. But rather than mimic Ludlum, van Lustbader manages to make the story his own, a trick that cannot be easy to do. In the espionage/thriller genre, the Bourne trilogy is legendary. And he manages to take you on a ride every bit as good as Ludlum’s work. I couldn’t read it fast enough, and was disappointed to finish it.

In other book news, I got my copy of Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail, the book-length treatment of the seminal Wired article from a couple years back. I’m giving a presentation at a conference in a few weeks on media strategy, and I can already tell this book will be the foundation upon which a number of points I make will stand. This month’s issue has an excerpt about the changing nature of the music business which is fascinating; if the rest of the book is as good as these two articles, it’ll be an immediate favorite of mine for business strategy books.

Great feedback

At Gnomedex, one of the more interesting conversations I participated in was with a large, brand-name publisher (who shall remain nameless). I was talking about how at FeedBurner, we take feedback very seriously. So, seriously, in fact, that many of us monitor Technorati pretty actively (and other similar services) to look for anyone talking about FeedBurner. We aim to respond to those comments (good or bad) within a couple hours, often within a few minutes.

It never ceases to amaze me how much goodwill this earns us. Yet this publisher was worried that embracing this approach would distract their employees, get them stuck in an endless loop of nothing but commenting on blogs. You’d be surprised: it doesn’t take that much time, and the payoff far outweighs the investment of a few minutes a day.

That said, some ground rules:

  • It’s far better for the company themselves to speak. But if you’re going to have a PR firm act on your behalf, try to avoid this example over on Jeff Jarvis’s blog. Yikes.

  • Own up to mistakes. Chris Pirillo caught a bug (first!) of ours this morning, wasn’t sure who to blame, and I made sure in the comments it was clear that it was our issue. I don’t like making mistakes any more than the next guy. But I want every publisher to know that we’ll never hide from a mistake, and where we can, we’ll engage and address the issue as quickly as possible to do right by them.

  • Encourage feedback. Scoble, who’s equally good at admitting what’s wrong with his company (of course, he’s no longer at Microsoft, but that’s beside the point), in that same post points out that feedback from guys like Chris Pirillo is like gold. Confident companies want to see the rough edges, because they should know they’re able to fix them. The more they fix, the better the product, and the more distance between their product and anyone else’s.

  • This isn’t just about negative, feedback… be sure to acknowledge when people say nice things too. It’s amazing how far a little acknowledgement can go towards building an honest-to-goodness community.

This all seems so obvious to me, but the conversation at Gnomedex, and Dell’s PR firm’s inept commenting on Jeff’s blog, tell me that it’s not yet conventional wisdom. I wonder how long before it will be…

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Monday, July 3, 2006

TechCocktail in Chicago

I’m off this week to spend some long-overdue time with the family, but for those who are closer to the city and/or have time on Thursday, you won’t want to miss the first TechCocktail event in Chicago. Put on by FeedBurner’s own Eric Olson and periodic TechCrunch contributor FJ Gruber, the event will be a who’s who of the Chicago tech community.

Really bummed I’m going to miss it, but I’m sure there will be many more. Have fun!

links for 2006-07-03

Saturday, July 1, 2006

Chris is asking for money

To end Gnomedex, Chris Pirillo just pitched three VCs (Brad Feld, Jeff Clavier and Rick Segal) on his new idea, TagJag. It’s a real, raw, unscripted discussion that shines a light on how to pitch an idea, how to answer questions from VCs, and how to evaluate what’s needed to execute on your vision.

In short: a fascinating, extraordinary session that is the highlight of the two days for me.

Phil Torrone rocks

I’m surprised how little of this year’s Gnomedex I’ve blogged. But I’m sitting in the Phil Torrone session on open source hardware, and it’s fascinating (I was similiarly amazed last year). He’s asking for ideas, and since I’m starting Boy Scouts with my son this fall, it seems like we need a merit badge system for hacking.

Amazing to me that the last revision to the Boy Scouts merit badge program was in 2002 for Fly Fishing. Think of the opportunities…


Something’s wrong with WP, trying to fix…

OK, it’s more or less back up to speed. I’m still not clear what’s wrong — the right sidebar was killing the page load, causing the main content column to vanish. Not at all clear why; I’ll try and get it back to normal later.