Monthly Archives: April 2007

Startup #38 – The Ocho

ocho.jpg“If it’s almost a sport, we’ve got it here!”  For anyone who was not in a frat during the past four years, this is a reference to a scene in the movie “Dodgeball”, making fun of ESPN’s growing network of sports channels catering to all sorts of obscure sports.  After all, where else would fans of riding-lawnmower racing, flaming-ball soccer, and squirrel waterskiing get their fix?

OK, it’s a joke, but today’s idea is a realistic take on that same premise.  It’s a site where fans of obscure sports could join together to get and share the latest information in the world of curling, skeet shooting, and professional darts.  The underlying premise is basic Long Tail-ology: instead of having one site that is dedicated to a sport many people like, become the authority on many sports that are currently ignored by major news outlets due to a lack of popularity.

So where’s the Web 2.0?  Simple.  Tap the expertise of your users to allow them to contribute their knowledge along with (or in absence of) a paid editor.  This can be done via wiki, user-submitted videos, or a Newsvine-style of amateur editors.

Long day at MIX 07 in Vegas, lots of cool features.  I’m going to work on implementing one of my previous ideas (Pop-Up Video) using the new super-cool cutting edge web technologies at a mashup session later tonight, and will try to do some more live blogging tomorrow afternoon.  Say what you will about MS – they sure know how to throw a party!  :) 

MIX 07 Day 1 – Live from the Keynote

Here at MIX 07, Microsoft’s Web 2.0 conference, just waiting for the festivities to begin.  I’m hoping to do a little live blogging from the keynote, the connection is great but no power!  So we’ll see how long this lasts.

 9:30 –  The lights are starting to dim, but no one yet.  The musical entertainment is an interesting choice, an accordian trio.  Very The Decemberists-ish.  They’re displaying entries from the Mixtify contest on the big screen…and here we go!  Starting with the usual stylish video intro, very cool.  And here’s Ray!

9:37 – Ray mentioned this is the first time he’s talked to a large developer group since joining MS.  Going through the history of the app lifecycle, saying that over the years the pendulum has swung between browser and desktop, and now we’re swinging back towards the middle.  A cross between web and desktop, rich internet applications connected via web services.

9:42 – Talking about Software as a Service as the first wave of these apps, and now the second wave is Software + Services.  It’s an emerging pattern that brings together the best of the desktop, best of the web, all using the service as a hub.  This programming model requires collaboration between designers and developers.

9:47 – Now on to the annoucements.  Talking a little about Silverlight, but not rehashing details.  Today he wants to announce that they are bringing .NET technology to Silverlight, a new choice to leverage existing skills and tools to enable rich web experience programming.  Now jumping to a video highlighting of existing WPF apps.  Very cool stuff, and of course, set to a loud techno beat.  Crack open those glowsticks if you’ve got ‘em.

9:53 – Ray’s back, annoucing Expressions is shipping, we’re all getting commemorative copies.  Woot.  Now he’s talking through the fundamental shift Microsoft is undergoing to embrace the Software + Services (S+S) paradigm.  Things like XBox Live compatibility with Live Messenger.  Showing a demo of the Photosynth zoom technology embedded in the Silverlight platform.  For anyone who’s seen that Photosynth demo, this is great news, good to see that wasn’t just a cool demo.  Another annoucement, Silverlight Streaming.  Service allows you to store Silverlight content in the cloud on MS servers.  Sounds cool, but didn’t give much detail there.  Now it looks like we’re gonna get to the good stuff – demos!

10:00 – Ray’s handing it off to Scott Guthrie, he’s wearing a bright red shirt…good thing this isn’t an episode of Lost…  :)  Going through some details of Silverlight, including a new cross-platform version of .NET framework.  Preview version on the web available as of 20 minutes ago (didn’t say where!). 

10:04 – Going through some details on Silverlight, such as HD video quality, ability to integrate with existing AJAX apps, standards-based codecs, streaming solution.  Introducing two guys from Netflix for a Silverlight demo.  Says that Netflix is about connecting people with movies they love and in January they released their streaming video service with over 2 million views (I’ve used it myself, it’s surprisingly good).  Enough talk, let’s get to the demo!  :) 

10:09 – Now they’re showing off the Netflix Silverlight video player.  One click and the movie started instantly, now he’s walking through some inlaid controls on the video window.  Besides the usual play, pause, FF buttons, you can get data from the Netflix sites like ratings, descriptions, and similar movies.  Very slick, and built the demo in only three weeks.  Wow.  Ha, and now he’s doing a demo on a Mac running FireFox!  Awesome.  Showing a feature that allows you to invite a friend to watch a movie along with you.  It synchs the movie and you can chat back and forth while watching.  Three weeks?  Crazy.

10:15 – Almost out of power!  Scott’s back, talking about the collaboration between designers and developers.  Showing Expression Studio, a set of tools that works with Visual Studio to enable workflow between designers and devs.  On to another demo…

10:19 – A designer from MS is onstage (didn’t catch his name).  Showing a demo of Expression Media Encoder…oh no, a crash!  Came back quickly, and we’re off.  There’s a cool feature that allows you to preview what a the video looks like before encoding and after encoding, with a vertical slider bar to create a split screen.  Works on frames, and also while playing the video.  I haven’t done a ton of video encoding so I have no idea about this stuff, but looks pretty cool.  Now he’s got the video up and running, and wants to put a wrapper around it.  Switched over to Expression Design, took some artwork and exported to XAML in Silverlight format.  Now going to Blend to merge the video with the artwork.  Simply pasted several layers of artwork on the video layer.  This is way cool, can’t wait to start playing with this!

 Battery is dead, I’m gonna go try to find some juice and will hopefully be back this afternoon!

Startup #37 – Wink Blink

Surprise, surprise, another dating site idea!  This one is based on some compatibility theories outlined by Malcolm Gladwell in Blink (and elsewhere). The basic idea is instead of finding a soulmate by browsing photos and horoscope details, users could find matches based on their subconscious similarities.Users would be shown a rapid series of pictures, text, music snippets, etc.. and would have to 5 seconds to give a knee-jerk love it/hate it response. After completing the test, users would be shown potential dates who gave the same responses. Users could also invite their friends to take the test and see what their “compatibility percentage” is. This is also simple enough to do via cell phone or as a viral MySpace widget as well.

Happy Friday everyone, moving day for me.  Looking forward to doing some posts live from Vegas at the MIX 07 conference starting Sunday!

Startup #36 – Three Minute Soulmate

flower_heart_clock.jpgHere’s another dating website idea, the premise here is that people generally don’t want to invest much time in a new site.  Instead of requiring a lengthy sign-up form or just flipping through pictures based on age/sex/location, this site would let you find your soulmate in three minutes or less.  How?  By cutting out the most time-consuming part of online dating – flipping through page after page of doctored pictures followed by the same generic “I like to go out but am also up for a quiet night at home watching movies” profiles. 

The idea is two-fold: First, have the user take a short quiz to determine their personality type (such as this one).  Then, use the results to find only one person they are most compatible with.  If the user then wants to see additional matches, here’s where you get them to fill out a profile.  Limit the number of required fields, and make it as fun and easy as possible.

Why show only one match?  Because of a simple human truth: we want to believe that there is one person out there who is perfect for us, a soulmate.  We don’t want to find love by choosing the least undesirable person out of a list of 50, we want the cosmic power of the universe to step in an present us with that one perfect person.

What do you guys think about this one?  Looking for the cosmic power of the universe to come along and strike me with a new idea?  I got my keys for my first house today!  Launched the site!  Prepping for Vegas!  Got seven cavities filled!  Big day.

Startup #35 – Decisions, Decisions (aka The One With All The TV References)

wbfrog.jpgOK, no one laugh.  Yesterday evening I watched two shows on the new CW.  First was Gilmore Girls, the second was the series finale of the search for the next Pussycat Doll.  What does that have to do with anything?  Besides, you know, wah-pah!

First, Gilmore Girls.  In the episode, one of the characters was finishing up her final year of college and had been accepted into several top grad schools.  She needed to decide which one to attend, so she made up a weighted pro/con list to help make her decision.

 Silly Gilmore Girl.  She should have gone to “Decisions, Decisions”, a new online destination that allows you to create and share your pro/con lists with your friends and family to help you make those important decisions.  You can create your lists, give each pro or con a 1-5 weighting, then send it to other people who can give their opinions.  Once they’re done, you have the option to assign weightings to the people (i.e. mom = 5, acquaintence from calc class = 1), and then get a final tally to determine what your decision should be.

Second, the Pussycat Dolls.  Only a few more days before Mix07, I can’t wait!  Next Tuesday night they’re throwing a party for the attendees at some night club on the Vegas strip featuring a concert by the Pussycat Dolls.  Not exactly my usual pick for a good show, but should be a fun time nonetheless.

I’m moving and launching TweeTweeT tomorrow…big day!  Next week I’ll be posting live from Mix07 and have a few more surprises coming shortly, stay tuned…

Startup #34 – Not My Next Ex

noloser.jpgHere’s an idea I had a while back, it’s basically an opposite take on traditional dating sites.  Instead of searching based on traits you are looking for in a partner, why not search for things that you are not looking for?  This is great for people who have been dating for a while (which is why a lot of people turn to online dating in the first place) and have some dating horror stories that they don’t want to go through again. 

For example, instead of saying “I am looking for someone who is between 19 and 23″ you could do “I am looking for someone not over the age of 25 AKA I am a college student and I’m tired of creepy old pervs trying to pick me up through online dating services”.  You could look for non-smokers, no criminal background, no kids, no tattoos, no bad dancers, etc..  You’d basically be eliminating any negative qualities that caused problems in your previous relationships that you don’t want to put up with again.

Another interesting feature you could add is a section where people could submit dating horror stories and the community can vote on the best ones.  The idea here is to channel all the negative energy around dating in general and use it to try to discover people who share your same frustrations, and therefore most likely your same positive aspects as well.

What do you guys think?  Anyone experiencing a little deja vu:)

Startup #33 – Million Dollar Homepage Ad Network

350px-the_million_dollar_homepage.jpgEveryone knows the story of the Million Dollar Homepage.  One million pixels + $1 each = every lazy entrepeneur’s dream.

While I was thinking up ways to monetize my TweeTweeT site (launching on Thursday!), I thought back to the ‘ol $1M page.  The idea I came up with is a cross between AdSense and MDH – an advertsing network that was based on the MDH concept.

Here’s how it would work.  As a person wanting to monetize my site, I would add a simple script that would set aside a chunk of my page for pixel ads (say 150 x 500) .  Users who visit my site would have the option of purchasing some pixels and a link (ala MDH).  Any proceeds from the purchase would go to the website owner. 

Now here’s where it gets interesting.  If your pixel ad box has not been filled by your users, it would be auto-populated by ads from *other* pixel websites!  Users would have more incentive to purchase ads because not only would they be supporting a website that they like, their ads would also be displayed all over the web on a variety of different sites.

I honestly can’t decide if this idea is rawkin or suxorz…what do you think?  Closed on my house today!  Rawkin.  Now on to packing.  Suxorz.

Startup #32 – Is It [insert blank here]?

likeme1.jpg

OK, so here’s an idea I’ve had for a loooooong time: a site where you go to see if the flag is currently being flown at half mast or not.  Come on!  There are hundreds of thousands of flags being flown across the country, which means there are hundreds of thousands of people who need to keep track of the exact half-mast status every single day.

Yes, that idea sucks, it’s way too specific.  But today I had a breakthrough!  It’s a site called IsIt.com where you can get simple answers to all kinds of simple yes/no questions.  For example, if you need to determine if the flag is at half mast, you would go to IsIt.com/HalfMast and the page would display a single word, yes or no, depending on the status for the day.  Not details about the flag, or reasons why it is at half-mast.  Just a single word in a very big font.  This could be applied to lots of different situations, such as…

  • Is it Leap Year?
  • Is it Columbus Day?
  • Is it a New Episode of Lost This Week?
  • Is it Raining in Seattle?
  • Is it a Home Yankees Game?

How would these sub domains stay up-to-date?  Newsvine style!  Individual users could own various domains and would be responsible for keeping it updated.  Quality control measures could be implemented to ensure the data is accurate (i.e. a checkbox for “Flag this domain as incorrect for the day”). 

Want to hear a killer set of music?  Go here: http://kexp.org/streamarchive/streamarchive.asp.  Set the date to 4/20, and the time to 8:11 am.  I heart KEXP!

Startup #31 – Things That Look Like Stuff

grilledcheese.jpgPicture this.  You’re just minding your bidness, frying up some cheese-filled sandwiches, and BAM!  The Virgin Mary’s like all up in your grill!  You’ve got to tell someone, but neither the Pope nor the National Inquirer are returning your calls.  No worries, now you’ve got a place to share this miraculous event with the world.

 The site is ThingsThatLookLikeStuff.com, a collection of everyday objects that just happen to look like something else.  Users can upload photos and other people can vote on their favorites.  Maybe it’s a cloud that looks like a Luck Dragon, a birthmark that only Steve Jobs could love, or a tator tot that bears a slight resemblence to Kip.

What do you guys think?  Heard of any good things that look like stuff that I can add as examples?  “…all up in your grillED CHEESE!” (sorry, had to work that in)

No idea today

One Day Blog Silence