Thursday, September 30, 2010

I Went Roku

Posey is Our Jeter

My Buster Posey (Giant's Rookie Catcher) man-crush is only picking up steam with articles like this from Scott Ostler. I've been telling all my friends that he's the Giant's version of Derek Jeter, and I couldn't be more thrilled that I get to cheer for him for so many years to come.

"To understand how a player could make such a dramatic position change so quickly, you have to understand Posey, and the Martins will help you. They think Posey is special.

"He's probably the best leader I've ever had," Martin Sr. said. "He could discipline himself better than the others. He watched his diet. If it was time to get his rest, he'd get his rest. He wouldn't go out just because everyone else was going out.
"He was the most popular guy we ever had here. He was academic player of the year, he set the curve for our players in the classroom. When something needed to be said, he said it. If someone was not hustling, out of the corner of your eye, you'd see him walk over and tell the guy, in a mature and firm way, 'That's not the way we play the game.' "

Martin Jr. added: "Think about getting a 3.9 (GPA) your last semester, knowing you're about to make five, six million dollars. That just shows you his character. ... What he's done for our program is immeasurable."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Couch Surfing in the WSJ

My buddy Dan Hoffer started, an incredible Internet service that let's you meet total strangers and either host them on your couch, or stay on theirs. I joined the site and haven't gotten enough nerve to host someone yet, but I'm sure I will this month. CouchSurfing was written up in the Wall Street Journal and I loved the quote from the article written by Anne Kadet below.

"Everyone has their own reasons for hosting strangers. Site spokesman Cesar Valentim says that for people in places such as Nepal, where international travel is financially or bureaucratically impossible, hosting provides an at-home adventure. For New Yorkers, he says, hosting offers a social life to folks who otherwise "don't have time to go out and meet new people." Ouch!

I can think of a third reason to host: Welcoming travelers to your NYC apartment—who can then testify on your profile that you are neither a psychopath nor an open-mouth chewer—is the best way to improve your odds of finding a couch when it's your turn to travel. And couchsurfing lets you stay in places where it's impossible to find a hotel room—like an Amazonian village or an Antarctic field station."

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Funny on Oliver Stone

via Notes

At the premiere of Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps at the Ziegfeld Theatre last night, Shia LaBeouf shared with reporters the following delightful anecdote on working with director Oliver Stone: “We’re in the Adirondacks, and Josh Brolin and I are shooting this bike scene. And at one point I say to Josh a line — ‘You should look at yourself in the mirror first and see yourself. It might scare you,’” remembered LaBeouf. “I looked at the line for a couple of months and thought I’d go to Oliver and say, ‘You look at the mirror and look at yourself. It’s sort of repetitive. Why don’t we just cut one of those? Why don’t I say, Look at yourself. It might scare you.’ This is Oliver verbatim. He looks at me and goes, ‘I like mirror. I wrote Scarface. Go fuck yourself.’”

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Family Wedding

Ten Years

Lessons on Bootstrapping from Healy Jones

Healy Jones is writing such a great entrepreneurial blog. Here's a great post on 4 Lessons on Bootstrapping a company, which he kind of is doing. Here are my two favorites. On the Ben's Friends patient networks we do both. Couldn't agree with them more:

"1) Be sales and support in the early days. If you do not have lots of capital in the bank you need to be very careful that your service is resonating with customers. The only way to do this on a budget is to do it yourself. Listen carefully to your customers and change your product as fast as you can to meet their needs.

2) You don’t need a 50 page business plan. Two of the three founders used a spreadsheet to define their company’s early stage goals and track their progress; one had a two page business plan and a spreadsheet. You don’t have time to do a beautiful 50 page bplan - just figure out what you think your metrics and costs will be and start executing (and monitoring your progress against your plans.)"

Friday, September 24, 2010

Kids Are Getting Smarter

I think we're going to look back in 5 or 10 years and realize the biggest story that we were missing these days is how much faster kids are getting smarter because of the open flow of information and new devices like the iPad. I loved this article that Alex Bain linked to about an iPad Pilot Program run in some schools. Check out the anecdotal evidence below.

"What we're reaching in some classes is the transformation stage. We're seeing the iPad completely change the way that certain subjects are taught. Our best example so far is Art. I will write and share more about what we're doing in Art over time but it's fair to say that it is already far beyond anything I expected in the first year, let alone the first month.
At this point, all I can give you are some practical anecdotes which, I hope, will give you a flavour of the change.
  • I picked up a ream of printer paper yesterday. It had dust on top of it.
  • Primary 2 pupils have now memorised their passwords. That's not something that happens when they get 40 minutes a week on computers.
  • Last week, we couldn't get the Primary 3 pupils to stop doing maths and go for lunch.
  • My daughter April asked me if I could install the educational apps from school on my iPad so she could use them at home.
  • We're seeing a reduction in the amount of homework forgotten or not done.
  • "Forgetting your folder" for a subject is now a thing of the past."

Friday Chill Music (September 24, 2010)

Heading to the Band of Horses Concert at the Greek Theater tonight. Can't wait!

I started the playlist off with the usual chill music and then incorporated a bunch of Band of Horses Covers (both songs they covered and songs of theirs that have been covered).

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Stop Motion San Francisco

Awesome scenes from SF via the Himmelsblog

The Unseen Sea from Simon Christen on Vimeo.

The Industrial Age Recession

via Seth Godin. Couldn't agree more.

"This is the recession of the industrial age, the receding wave of bounty that workers and businesses got as a result of rising productivity but imperfect market communication.

In short: if you're local, we need to buy from you. If you work in town, we need to hire you. If you can do a craft, we can't replace you with a machine.

No longer.

The lowest price for any good worth pricing is now available to anyone, anywhere. Which makes the market for boring stuff a lot more perfect than it used to be."

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Youngest Bain

I met the Youngest Bain a few weeks back. He's really cute and his name starts with an "O" - always a good start.

Btw - I was a little embarrassed for Papa & Mama Bain because they had never had Loving Cup's Yogurt w/Cupcake blended in. It might be the best thing on Earth. They had already signed a lease to move to Palo Alto and everything. If I could have just reached them with the Loving Cup earlier, they'd still be living in SF.

P.S. If anyone is shopping for Furio Bain the cat, know that he loves Cashmere. He couldn't get enough of my sweater. That cat has expensive tastes.

We Have Standards

My buddy Alex Bain gave me a great tip on the website We Have Standards. It's a great way to list a few goals for everyday of the week, print them out and check them off as you go. Here are my three. I'll be posting this on my refrigerator.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Dinner with Nani & Papa

Had dinner with my grandparents tonight. My papa likes his steak rare, real rare. He says he likes it to moo... :)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sunday Picks

Last week in my ESPN Pick'em League I went 8 - 8 so a wash. I'm in the middle of the pack of the tournament which isn't so bad. This week I'm going with:

Oakland -4.5
Green Bay - 13.5
Dallas -7
Denver -3.5
New England -1.5

Friday, September 17, 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Radiohead's Management Approaching Music Industry Like A VC

“We’re trying to get away from a copyright trading model more towards a venture capitalist approach with artists,” says Message. Think of it as Dragons’ Den with guitars – with Message as the thoughtful-looking entrepreneur sitting with fingers interlocked while some young beat combo pitch their wares (“So, we’re kind of like The Smiths meet Funkadelic…”).

“More and more managers are having to take more responsibility to put money up front,” Message says. Adam Tudhope, for example, began his career managing the platinum-selling Keane. Two years ago he put £40,000 of his own money into Mumford & Sons, a fast-rising London band now signed to Island Records. “Every band is going to need £20,000-£40,000 for the first two years of their life, and then they’re probably going to need £200,000 for the next stage of their career,” he says. He didn’t want to risk his own money on the £200,000 stage with the Mumfords: thus the record deal."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ben's Friend's New Blog is on Tumblr

We've launched a new blog for Ben's Friends Patient Support Networks! In case you were wondering, we're on  Tumblr so if you're on that platform, please follow us!

Remembering What Teachers Deal With...

Funny post called Teacher Shape from my friend Ariel who is a teacher. Good reminder on what they have to deal with though.

" Teacher shape also refers to the ability to refrain from going to the bathroom for hours at a time. Besides the five minute passing periods, when I am typically fielding the individual issues of 4-9 students on average (eg: “Ms. Morris, I have a water polo game tomorrow. Can I get the homework?” “Ms. Morris, I cut my finger on the three-hole punch. Can I have a band aid?” “Ms. Morris, can you check in see if I turned in my signed parent syllabus, because I can’t remember if I turned it in.”), I do not have a break from 8:27 to 11:38. I thus have to very strategically plan my liquid consumption. Luckily, since I basically wake up with the cows, I can drink my coffee on my way to school and am all in the clear by the time first period rolls around. Yet I know that if I start drinking my water bottle during first period, I’m going to have about three hours until I can actually go to the bathroom, so I typically teach first and second period in a state of dehydration and then guzzle about a gallon of water during third."

Gregg Spiridellis of JibJab is Blogging

Gregg Spiridellis isn't just a great guy, he's an unbelievable blend of creative and managerial talent. Gregg is co-founder of along with his brother, Evan. You know what else? Gregg is blogging now. Check him out. I think there will be many lessons to be learned from his blog. Here's a good intro:

"JibJab was founded way back in the digital dark ages – 1999.  Huddled around our blueberry iMacs, dialing up on 56k modems, struggling to keep our videos under 300k, my brother and I flew over the bleeding edge of technology Thelma-and-Louise-style because we believed that the combination of falling production costs and opening distribution presented a once in a lifetime opportunity for two guys with no media experience to build a worldwide entertainment brand.  Our premise was simple: amazingly talented artists creating great made-for-the-medium entertainment could attract an audience and that audience could be leveraged to attract more audience.  Today it’s called viral marketing.  In 1999, it was called “and you are going to make money how?”"

Monday, September 13, 2010

Ben Munoz – Founder of Interviewed by IdeaMensch

My Co-Founder on the Ben's Friends patient support networks, Ben Munoz, was interviewed by IdeaMensch. It's a quick read but I found it very insightful. Ben and I communicate so much that in a way, it's a little surprising that he would say so many things that are new and interesting to me in this interview. But that's what makes our partnership so fun; he's always surprising me.

Here's a little snippet below. I couldn't agree more that these are the three most important ingredients, along with a partner who you admire and trust.

IdeaMensch: "How do you bring ideas to life?

Ben Munoz:
Passion: if you’re not fully committed, you’ll never last through the inevitable dips

Persistence: overnight success always takes years, if you’re passionate about something, persistence is more about focusing on just getting the
little things done.

Naivety: it’s best not to think about how hard something is going to be, otherwise you may never start."

Note: If you have a friend or loved one that needs a support community, let me know and we'll start one for them through Ben's Friends.

Band of Horses’ “Marry Song” at a Wedding

via the excellent music blog, Captains Dead

"this is awesome. apparently a guy proposed to a young lady at a band of horses show in oslo earlier this year. just so happens boh were back in norway playing a fest on the same day as their wedding. they contacted the band, told them their story, and well the rest is history i suppose. kudos to ben and company for being ultra-awesome dudes."

Sunday, September 12, 2010

NFL Picks - ESPN League Week 1

I'm in an NFL Pick'em league on ESPN which is usually pretty fun. Thought I would start a weekly Sunday feature where I share what I picked. The ground rules are that you pick teams against the spread and compare your pick record against your friends. Here are mine for this week:

Atlanta -1.5, 
Detroit +7, Indianapolis -2,
Green Bay -3,
San Francisco -3,
Baltimore +2.5

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Feature Requests for Apple's Ping

I think Ping is pretty neat. It's not as good as Last.FM or other things yet, but the key advantage Ping has is that it will have massive distribution through iTunes and it's closer to the transaction (i.e. real music tastes) than other services. I'm expecting it to be really awesome in a year or so after a couple releases. 

Here are some feature requests:

1) Need people's last names or at least last initial. for example "Scott O." is way better than "Scott". I'm already getting confused on who is reccomending what and I bet only 10% of my friends are even on it.

2) Swap Ping into the real estate that Genius takes up on the right part of my itunes screen. Way better and I bet it eventually leads to a higher conversion of sales too. I'm much more likely to buy what my friends like than pre-selected choices.

3) Maybe this is controversial, but I'd love to see anytime my friend rates a song at a 5-star level. I don't need a full album review. I want to see the songs that my friends really like. This may muck of the stream a little, but it's worth a shot. 

4) iTunes needs to create a landing page for every song. Amazon already does this pretty well. I've already noticed that I want to write reviews for songs way more than albums. A landing page for each song makes firing off a review very easy and there is no conflict in the reviewers mind about whether the album deserves a different rating than the song. More Reviews = More $ for Apple & Better Music for Listeners.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Thursday, September 9, 2010

NFL Survivor Pool Strategy – Week 1 Advice « Notes from the Sports Nerds

Great article from my buddy @mkoidin on Twitter.

I'm going with the G-Men...

"Unfortunately, we can't remember a Week 1 with such an exciting and apparently well matched slate of games. Minnesota at New Orleans. Green Bay at Philadelphia. Baltimore at NY Jets. Even the teams that are supposedly going to suck all seem to be playing one another! You want to choose between Cleveland and Tampa Bay?

We've still got to make a pick though, so let's look at our NFL Week 1 Predictions and the Vegas lines to identify the brightest possibilities. Here are three games that sit atop our list of potential picks:

1) Detroit at Chicago
2) Arizona at St. Louis
3) Carolina at NY Giants"

Android is open unless you want to change your search engine to Google, or u...

It's almost comical watching these Carriers shoot themselves in the foot. This is all paving the way for a Google powered phone service. Apple will have the premium device and run on a few selected carriers who they can dominate. Google will have a solid device running a a premium Android or Chrome and will rely on it's own network to provide service.

via asymco by asymco on 9/9/10

That means no seamless integration with Gmail. No Google Latitude. No multitouch in the map app, either. And in place of the free and fantastic turn-by-turn Google Navigator app, Verizon installed its VZ Navigator service — a feature which costs $10 a month to use.

It would be one thing for Verizon to set the default search and map app to Bing with the option to switch back to Google. But it's utterly inexcusable for Verizon to destroy the possibility of a switch without the user having to root the device and, under Verizon's company policies, void their warranty. And on top of that, repeatedly charge you for a sub-par service instead of keeping the gold standard of navigation apps for free.

And as bad as that is, there's now a rumor that Verizon will be doing this again. On every single one of its Android devices.

Regardless of motivations, the restriction if broadly applied would have Verizon reneging on its pledge to support the openness of Android and reflects a wider trend of the OS being artificially restricted by carriers. Most US providers are disabling Android 2.2′s tethering support in favor of their own, and AT&T has banned non-Market Android apps under the pretext of security. The moves paradoxically leave Apple's iPhone more open in some areas, as its users can choose Google, Bing or Yahoo for search and don't have first-party apps deliberately hidden or broken.

The Big Short

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, is a must read if you are connected to finance at all. There are lot's of funny characters and crazy moments so it should be interesting to non finance civilians too! If you click through the link above and buy the book, all proceeds that go to Kenny Kellogg will be donated to Ben's Friends!

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday MachineThe Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fantastic book! Shows the inner workings of the credit bubble and lot's of interesting characters. A must read!

View all my reviews

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Brian Wilson Interview

via Taylor

Bank capital ratios and standing on tippy-toes

Very thoughtful essay on bank leverage ratios, competition and who the real winners were in the credit bubble. I've long thought older people were the ones really making out on home sales. As a group, and especially in California, they were cashing out huge sums when someone my age bought their house.

Sure, buying a house in the bay area in the 70's & 80's was a smart investment decision, but was it worth a 5x -10x on your money? Returns like that are usually generated through extreme risk taking or because of a technical development that is ground breaking and actually is proved out as so. I see neither in the housing market. I only see Leverage.   

"The benefit for borrowers of competition however were dissipated in higher home prices and hence larger mortgages.  The real winners were people selling homes - not people buying them.  Even quite modest houses became valuable - and the elderly (the classic group moving to less expensive homes) did quite well.  I haven't heard the expression "old and poor" quite as much as I used to.  More generally you can see the relatively affluence of the elderly in the sell-the-home and go cruising set.  Carnival Cruises was - for a very long time - a better stock than you might ever have imagined.

The other supposed beneficiary was suffering an illusion.  Plenty of people - especially in their children's teenage years - had an-in-the-end-illusory wealth effect - where they thought their home was worth much more than it was - and felt confidence in spending some of that money - or in saving less for their retirement - because after all they could downsize and they might inherit part of Grandma's (housing) fortune.  

Net-net the losers out of excessive bank leverage were (a) the shareholders because they got lower spreads and took more risk, (b) taxpayers because they partly bore the risk and (c) younger home buyers because they got royally-rogered by the elderly people they bought from."

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Will Apple need to cut margins on the iPhone?

"Whereas one would expect that in a highly competitive market torrid growth would only be possible with lower pricing and hence margins, the opposite is observed in the phone market during the last three years:

Where's the tradeoff?The graph shows that companies that grew the fastest had the highest margins, and the companies that grew the slowest had the lowest margins. The trend line in the graph above is precisely orthogonal to what would be expected in a commodity market."

Monday, September 6, 2010

Getting Away in Maui...

POSTGAME NOTES: A clarification on Aubrey Huff, Sanchez shines, Uribe slugs, Giants will be Sans-a-Belt in September | Extra Baggs

""It's the Rally Thong," Huff said. "It's not a slump thong. If I was wearing it to break a slump, I would've burned it a long time ago."

I suppose so. Huff is hitting .200 in 24 games since Aug. 8. He's just 2 for 19 in five games while wearing his dainty delicates.

"This is a team thing," Huff said. "When I broke it out (Tuesday), we had 30 games left. I said, `Guys, here's 20 wins right here.'"

The Rally Thong is 4-1 thus far, and as long as Mike Murphy remembers to wash it in the delicate cycle, all will be right in Huff's world."

The Deal Is Simple. Australia Gets Money, China Gets Australia - BusinessWeek

"While it's a complex industry, at the basic level mining is dead-simple: Dirt is dug from the ground, loaded onto trucks, taken to trains, then put on boats. It is the scale that stuns, particularly in this operation. The trucks are two stories tall. The trains are two miles long, and they pour like rivers down the mountains to the coast, where the carrier ships await. The million tons of ore the ships carry away each day is up by 70 percent in the past five years, and most of it is bound for China."

Friday, September 3, 2010

Article: How Will You Measure Your Life? - Harvard Business Review

How Will You Measure Your Life? - Harvard Business Review

"Before I published The Innovator's Dilemma, I got a call from Andrew Grove, then the chairman of Intel... Excited, I flew to Silicon Valley and showed up at the appointed time, only to have Grove say, "Look, stuff has happened. We have only 10 minutes for you. Tell us what your model of disruption means for Intel." I said that I couldn't—that I needed a full 30 minutes to explain the model, because only with it as context would any comments about Intel make sense. Ten minutes into my explanation, Grove interrupted: "Look, I've got your model. Just tell us what it means for Intel."

I insisted that I needed 10 more minutes to describe how the process of disruption had worked its way through a very different industry, steel, so that he and his team could understand how disruption worked. I told the story of how Nucor and other steel minimills had begun by attacking the lowest end of the market—steel reinforcing bars, or rebar—and later moved up toward the high end, undercutting the traditional steel mills.

When I finished the minimill story, Grove said, "OK, I get it. What it means for Intel is…," and then went on to articulate what would become the company's strategy for going to the bottom of the market to launch the Celeron processor.

I've thought about that a million times since. If I had been suckered into telling Andy Grove what he should think about the microprocessor business, I'd have been killed. But instead of telling him what to think, I taught him how to think—and then he reached what I felt was the correct decision on his own.

That experience had a profound influence on me. When people ask what I think they should do, I rarely answer their question directly. Instead, I run the question aloud through one of my models. I'll describe how the process in the model worked its way through an industry quite different from their own. And then, more often than not, they'll say, "OK, I get it." And they'll answer their own question more insightfully than I could have."

(via Instapaper)

The Cash for Clunkers Hangover

"Discounting is a bit like partying.  Everything is wonderful and fun while the party rolls on.  But inevitably the party ends and when the sun comes up the hangover remains.  And in general, the bigger the party, the bigger the hangover."

This quote from Professor Calkins is on discounting and Cash for Clunkers, but it totally applies to the last 10+ years of economic policy in the US.

Friday Chill Music (September 3, 2010)

Another awesome playlist from Kenna. Definitely subscribe to his blog.

Loved the scenario the picture he painted for this playlist...

"It’s a Friday, ~4:30pm, and you just got to New Orleans for a bachelor party. You’re fired up to see everyone, for the weekend, etc. You find the nearest bar for the first beer(s) of the weekend and to catch up with everyone. You know it’s not that sweet a place, but it’s spring so they have the windows/doors open and it’s not too crowded so you don’t have to fight for space. In fact, your crew and a couple rough locals are the only people there. Most importantly, they have one of those internet jukeboxes that plays music just loud enough to enjoy, so the music world is your oyster for setting the tone / getting fired up to hang out with great friends all weekend. Here are a few of my go-to tunes."

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Michael Douglas on Cancer

Sports Guy referred this really great video of Michael Douglas discussing his throat cancerThis is why we do the Ben's Friends patient support networks. Michael Douglas can go on Letterman and generate support and information exchange nationally. Our members aren't movie stars, but they get the same type of support and information on the networks.