Thursday, May 29, 2008

A long long time ago...

As I was cleaning out my office this week, I came across the initial Plumtree master CDs, and bequeathed them to Joseph Stanko, who has been around for nearly as long and I knew would appreciate them. Not surprisingly, Joseph stuck it in his Windows box and tried to install it, which brought us some priceless old images:

The Installer Splash Screen

The Installer Options

And finally the home page of the product:

So, yes, the installer ran on a system ten years later, and came right up (with a few errors that aren't visible on this screen). Wow.

Quick story about the installer: I was the QA engineer in 1997, and tasked with creating the installer one week by my boss and CEO, Kirill Sheynkman. Being new to the world of the startup, I thought that was a soft goal. But that Saturday, at about 10 AM, Kirill called me at home to ask me where the installer was. I told him I wasn't finished. He told me to come to the office, and not leave until I was.

After realizing that he wasn't kidding, I came in, and ended up leaving at about 10 PM on Sunday, but learned a valuable lesson: don't kid around with commitments, especially with Kirill.

Monday morning he reviewed it with me in his office, and determined it was almost there, but needed two important changes: I needed to add a random large file to make it appear bigger on disk, and I needed to slow it down somehow -- it ran in about 15 seconds. As Kirill said after running it, "that didn't feel worth $30K, now did it?"

Lesson #2 learned, not bad for a weekend's work.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The next great land grab

Anyone remember the early days, when most domains were available? Then there were the squatters, then a marketplace, then the parkers, and still, to this days, friends of mine buy domains for amounts up to $5000.

And now there are the networks. I grabbed dmeyer on gmail early on, but with each new account (Twitter, friendfeed, etc.) there are new names to grab, better names, simpler names that imply you were an early mover to the technology.

But I'm seeing for the first time people madly registering names for things they are interested in, especially on Twitter. And it seems that these handles within a domain are becoming quite valuable. Will we be seeing a marketplace for them emerge? Already people are selling real estate on their twitter profiles. And others are suggesting that right after registering your domain name, you need to secure the same name on Twitter.

Fascinating, especially for a site that seems to be up about 50% of the time. Of course, I spent the morning searching for handles that were still available...

Monday, May 26, 2008

Preparing to leave the womb...

As I think about my last week of corporate employment for a while, and begin to figure out the best combination of web tools to manage my life, I've been making some observations:
  • Google has become a bigger and bigger part of my life. I've been using their search for over 10 years, they grabbed my email about 4 years ago, I started blogging with them about a year ago. When enterprise customers asked me 3 years ago "What are you doing about Google?" I thought they were a bit confused, but now more and more of my friends starting companies use Google to run their offices. Recently I discovered Page Creator, a nice place to make a web landing page. And of course Google Analytics gives me the visibility I need into anything I do on the web. So how does this make me feel? Great. I want more, much more. But integrate the stuff, please. How long will I need to use an HTML widget to get analytics on my Google properties?
  • Twitter is fun and useful. The main question I'm left with is how public to be. And when the site will be up.
  • The critical question for the modern web presence... What is your information architecture? Yes, it is no different from creating a useful application. If you tweet your Facebook status, you know what I mean. If you struggle to decide what to include in your friendfeed, you know what I mean. I'm still putting one together, I'll let you all know what I come up with. But with the explosion of tools out there, it is hard to know which to use, but even harder to know the master data model behind them.
Next quest: who should I pay so I can talk on my mobile phone? Survey says: AT&T, get prepped for iPhone 3G. Gotta figure that out by Friday, last day in the womb.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Google Health, give me Crowd Health

So Google Health was just announced with great fanfare, and it seems everyone is racing into this business. Which is exciting. And daunting.

After entering the site, I half expected my life story to already be there. It wasn't, thankfully. But I can choose to import my records and choose who to share them with. And, theoretically, regain some control back from the medical establishment which seems so powerful these days.

A more liquid exchange of information between patient and establishment, governed by the patient, is a very enticing idea. But it's not what I ultimately want. I want to leverage the experiences of patients across the globe. I want Crowd Health.

Imagine if I could decide not only what to share with my health care providers, but what to share anonymously with the population at large? Imagine that such an opt-in tool was used by many people every day. Discoveries of people like you across the nation would be available immediately, when they might takes years to reach, or never reach you through your doctor.

Or perhaps that is too radical, since privacy is such a core concern for medical records. But how about integration with a tool like Geni, where I could share aspects of my medical records with my extended family. When a doctor asks me, "do you have cancer in the family?" I never know how accurate my answer is, since my family tends to keep these things private. Let alone more common things, like high blood pressure or cholesterol.

Ultimately web health records could provide consumers with more complete, more up-to-date, more trustworthy data to make decisions. Instead of pharmaceutical companies telling me what medications work best, my peers could, and I could analyze their data that proves it. Instead of genealogical guesswork I could make my personal health decisions based on facts. Now, that starts to get interesting. Google, please do no Evil, I see real potential here...