Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Bill Tancer was right

Bill Tancer’s blog first hit my radar when Lee Rainie at Pew Internet & American Life told me about it… since then, I’ve found it to be a treasure-trove of insight into search traffic. Last month, I wrote about Bill’s observations about home sales, and the fact that he believed, based on search activity in August, that home sales would pick up in August, reversing a summer-long trend.

Guess what? He was right. That’s huge.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Threat level: turn to the left and cough

Austin Mayor: “Maybe instead of gutting our Constitution in exchange for a diaphanous sense of security, Americans should remember to lift with their legs.

The Departed

Just saw the commercial for The Departed, a new Martin Scorsese film starring Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Wahlberg.

Two predictions: it will be spectacular, and Scorsese will again fail to win an Oscar.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


First off, many thanks to Joshua – not sure of your last name, but you listed me as your TiVo referral and that earned me some points towards a toy from TiVo. To Joshua, my hat’s off to you.

If you haven’t experienced the joys of TiVo, let me again strongly recommend one. Their most recent innovation — TiVo KidZone — is brilliant, just the latest enhancement to an already family-friendly service. In short: it creates a kids front-end to the TiVo, showing only those shows they’re allowed to view. Everything else (the grown-up shows) is behind a password. Parents who don’t want to set up specific shows to record can just take the KidZone Guides as recommendations for what programming is age-appropriate. Or take the guides as an addition to the stuff you know you will let the kids watch… Bottom line: TiVo helps you establish what’s acceptable, while making it easy to put everything else on the other side of the fence. For parents looking for a way to make the TV more manageable, it’s a great answer.

Back to the grown-ups, the fact that TiVo’s basically now an in-home video podcasting service is a killer app as far as I’m concerned. The first time I figured out I could auto-download new recordings and have TiVo convert the video into an iPod-compatible video format, I realized that this changed my TV viewing as much as the TiVo originally did 5 years ago. It’s remarkable: you get your TV on any computer in the house, and on any portable device (iPod, PSP, Treo, many others).

With their ever-more-flexible pricing plans and the ability to get the boxes for free (so long as you commit to certain monthly pricing plans), it’s really cheap to get one of these in your house. I’ve yet to meet a TiVo user who didn’t turn into an evangelist for TiVo (we’re kind of like the more cult-ish Mac owners in that regard). It makes TV more watchable, it makes it easier to watch what you want, when you want. It even helps you spend less time watching TV (by always having your shows available). What’s not to like?

If you make the plunge and use my e-mail address ( as your referral, I get points towards free stuff. I don’t do this for the free stuff — it’s nice, but I genuinely think this is a wonderful device that anyone who even watches a little TV will find useful. Go for it.

Back from Prague

We had an absolutely wonderful trip. The city is beautiful, very walkable, and it was a nice way to spend a few days. (Hard to believe it was just 4 days.)

I was there to give a presentation to TerraLex, the second largest network of law firms in the world. The idea behind TerraLex is that mid-sized firms form a loose association so that when they have a legal issue arise in a jurisdiction where they don’t practice, they have the name and number of someone they can engage who they know and trust. The purpose of this meeting (their annual meeting) was to give members the ability to network, learn about emerging issues in new markets (Asia and Africa are both significant growth opportunities), and assess where TerraLex is right now.

TerraLex exists as an alternative to the mega-firm: instead of engaging one firm with thousands of attorneys and offices all over the globe, as a client you can work with a local firm who has access to the resources of hundreds of firms with thousands of lawyers all over the globe. Hourly rates are often more reasonable dealing with smaller firms, and your ability to access senior leadership in the firm is often far higher.

I’ve dealt with a few of these networks over the years, and I was amazed at the collegiality of the member firms, and the genuine admiration they have for each other. These are all highly capable lawyers in their own markets, and the total lack of ego in the room was a refreshing change from many room-fulls-of-lawyers I’ve been in in the past.

The highlight of the trip was, without question, the private tour of the Prague Castle that included a whole wing of the castle closed to the public. That was followed by a spectacular five course meal on the grounds of the Castle while a 12 piece orchestra played in the background. Definitely a memorable evening.

If you want to see some of my pictures, they’re over on Flickr.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

TechCrunch's 100k readers

Traci wrote up a fantastic case study over on the FeedBurner blog about Mike Arrington’s remarkable growth over the last 12 months. It’s not only a good explanation of the kind of information we gather for publishers who use FeedBurner, it also goes into some good detail about how we gather the info we report.

Regardless of the particulars, this graph is just amazing to me:

Congrats, Mike!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Stepping down

I recently stepped down as Chair of the Naperville Democrats. This was a really tough decision to make, as I remain convinced that the local party needs to be a visible part of the local scene. But it’s that commitment that made me realize I’m no longer the right guy for the job: as we continue to grow at a rather ridiculous pace at work, I’m not able to be visible locally — whether it means attending a local event, meeting with community leaders, or just following local events closely enough to weigh in when appropriate, I just don’t have enough time to be effective. It’s not fair to the group to have me holding things up.

As a result, effective immediately, I’m no longer the chair of the Naperville Democrats. I’m proud of what we’ve done over the past couple years, and I have high hopes for the next few. The exec group is a talented team that will produce great things under Tom Wronski’s leadership (Tom graciously offered to serve the remainder of my term).

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Feed funkiness

Thanks to Matt Mower for pointing out that my feed was, well, funky. I think it was related to my upgrade the other day (though, it should be noted: not really a byproduct of the upgrade itself, but of some legacy URL handling by WordPress) that I should have caught.

In any event, all should be back to normal now. Many apologies.

Friday, September 8, 2006

FeedBurner Plugin v2.1 for WordPress released

Congrats to Steve Smith, who just released a fantastic update to his popular plugin for WordPress. The plugin has always been a great tool for redirecting subscribers from WordPress to your FeedBurner feed, but it involved a little .htaccess magic that was periodically troublesome for users. (It also didn’t work on all versions of WordPress, or all platforms.)

Now Steve’s got an elegant answer: install the new plugin, activate it, and tell it where your FeedBurner feed lives. And you’re done. If you’re using WordPress and FeedBurner and you’re not using this plugin, you’re missing out on some valuable info. Nice work, Steve!

How's no? No work for you?

Wow. I was just playing around with MySpace’s blogging tool, trying to understand how it handles feeds. After clicking “customize”, check out my options:

Um, no or no?

Monday, September 4, 2006

links for 2006-09-04