Gary's love for wine and charismatic personality has created quite a following on the Web which has resulted in being profiled by the Wall Street Journal and Time Magazine and now he has landed spot on Late Night with Conan O'Brien on Wednesday night (August 1, 2007).
Aside from the Wine Library TV video blog, Gary also commands a family
owned wine empire which recently acquired the Corkd wine lovers online
Check out Gary in action tonight on Late Night with Conan O'Brien and also watch his latest video blog post (below) where he breaks the news about getting on the popular show. Tune in to cheer Gary on. Good luck Gary!
StreetAdvisor, an Australia-based startup, publicly launch a few months ago to provide an online real estate community
powered by crowd-sourced reviews, photos, and videos. Brothers Adam and Jason Spencer wanted to create a site that provided a good amount of information of what
like to live on any particular street in the world. With a fresh Ajax interface that leverages an almost wiki-like approach StreetAdvisor makes it easy to contribute content about any street.
In searching for a specific street users can find out a street score and rating for a specific location for the mapped location. Users can join a street and receive email updates as additional information, ratings and reviews become available or just snag the provided RSS feed. Users can learn and contribute details about where they live including
noise levels, traffic, neighbors, entertainment, public services and more.
Today StreetAdvisor launched some additional features which should further help the site become an a valuable resource for community information reported from the people on the streets.
First off, StreetAdvisor's Local Experts Program offers incentives for users that contribute solid content StreetAdvisors. Real estate agents and other service providers might be able to leverage the program to further bolster their reputation as solid local resources. Users can gain "Street Cred" the currency of the site which could turn into prizes.
Secondly, based on feedback from its users StreetAdvisor has expanded its platform to take on not only street reviews but also content
for cities, states, and countries. Thirdly, StreetAdvisor now also features upgraded guidebooks that now include four
broader categories. Guidebooks also
feature full version history, similar to Wiki's, thus enabling the ability to see
changes and revert to any previous entries.
Finally, StreetAdvisor now offers the ability to secure exclusive "run-of-street" advertising opportunities on a per city basis which I think of as "Virtual Billboards." Targeting real estate agents
and mortgage brokers, local service providers, city/local bloggers and media
looking to generate leads in a specific city, StreetAdvisor Billboards could prove to be a great way to reach a local audience.
Bottom-line:StreetAdvisor leverages a wiki-like contributor interface to intake street level community information that could prove to be an valuable resource to real estate companies and web sites that look to offer their visitors community related information.
I have written about email management a couple of times (here & here) and yet I still struggle to keep both my professional and personal emails uncluttered. So I am always looking for suggestions as to how to handle such a large bulk of email. Nonetheless, I just noticed an article by Mike Davidson which references to sentenc.es, a low-fi solution to email overload.
What is sentenc.es? Sentenc.es puts some rules around replying to your emails. Instead of replying to every email you receive with long-winded replies why not just pretend you are sending an SMS message and put some length parameters around your replies. Though it probably sounds like a joke, I think it actually is a good idea. You can choose from any of the sister sites at two.sentenc.es, three.sentenc.es, four.sentenc.es or five.sentenc.es depending on how brief you want your replies to be. It's so simple yet it might actually work - if you stay discipline that is.
Photo of the Week: This photo was taken by Brian Solis of bub.blicio.us at the TechCrunch event in Menlo Park, California on Friday evening (Suits Suck tee shirt photo explained in first story below).
Somewhat Frank Weekly Tidbits: 07.29.07
TechCrunch 9 & A Funny "Suit"? I was in attendance
for the event on Friday evening at August Capital in Menlo Park and had a great time. There were loads of interesting web 2.0-fabulous guests in attendance. Thanks to Mike Arrington, Heather Harde and the rest of the TechCrunch crew for a wonderful evening. The guest (who I won't name publicly) wearing the "Suits Suck" tee shirt (shown above) said he was a
Google employee in the marketing department and made me laugh. As I sipped on some Stormhoek white wine, he asked me and Nick Gonzalez, also a TechCrunch contributor, "what Mike Arrington looks like?" because he
was looking to connect with him at the party. After both Nick and I took our best cracks at explaining what Mike Arrington looks like he left us to continue on his mission. So let me re-cap, the guy shows up
wearing a colorful "Suits Suck" tee, works at Google in the marketing
department, attends the TechCrunch party looking to connect with Mike Arrington but
doesn't know what he looks like. Doh! Solid strategy, I wonder if he is a "suit" himself in disguise? You be the judge. ;)
Fichey: New Web Discovery Player Fichey is a little player that float on top of the page and lets you navigate and discover new sites and links from the Web. Display search results from : Del.icio.us, Digg, Downfly, Reddit and StumbleUpon.
The many paths of personalization Greg Linden explains at some point, the only way to further improve the quality of search results will be to show different people different search results based on what they think is relevant.
At that point, we have personalized search. Showing different results to different people based on what you know of their interests is personalized search.
Social Network Exhaustion (or Facebook Bankruptcy Redux)
Jason Calacanis gives up on Facebook and tries to rationalize by saying: "Facebook
is a multilevel marketing platform where you agree to pay attention to
people's gestures in the hopes that those people will pay-attention to
your gestures in the future. It's a gesture bank."
Dear Podtech: I’m Not Your VP Marketing
Mike Arrington explains that Podtech is on the right track by focusing
on aggregating third party content under its Flash player and
advertising network and moving away from the highly-competitive content
The new Particls Sidebar The new Particls Sidebar launched to offer a personalized, streaming view of everything that matters to you online.
First Look: AideRSS Feed Filtering AideRSS, which launches today, is a new type of RSS filtering service that uses a proprietary system called PostRank to determine the best posts on each blog.
Top 5 Chat/IM Apps for the iPhone Before the iPhone, swarms of Blackberry and Windows Mobile users accessed instant messengers through a variety of different downloadable clients and websites. The iPhone, however, forces developers to create something that’s usable in the browser. Rev2.org takes a look at the options.
Technology can make life so much easier. Where would we be without the advancements in technology? Computer and wireless technologies have taken off in the last few decades helping to facilitate a wave of innovation in the space. However, advancements in technology have a price many of us are not always aware of or paying attention to.
I came across this interesting video (above) titled "the magic touch" by Doron Wolf. The five minute, cleaverly, animated episode offers a symbolic
representation of the products surrounding us and the fear that one day our dependence
on technology might turn against us without any reason or warning. By pointing this video out, I am not saying we should all turn off the computers, return our iPhones and retreat to a cave somewhere to live in the dark ages. We should be aware that advances in the web and technology (i.e. the magic touch) often have a price associated with them which can be easily unknown, overlooked or underestimated as they fuse into everyday life.
RSS Mixer is a simple application for mixing multiple RSS feeds together into one feed. Interestingly, you can then take the new feed and output a custom feed for your iPhone, an Apple Widget, snaggable widget or feed reader. I created a feed mashup for TECH cocktail and Somewhat Frank here. Of course you could give myAOL Favorites feed reader if you create a folder add a bunch of feeds and click the green "Mix & Share" button.
If so, this could be your chance, it will be glorious...
I am not talking about blogging on Somewhat Frank. What to help me and the rest of the super, myAOL team? We recently launched the, myAOL Personalization Suite with global plans and we are looking for passionate people to join this fabulous team at AOL. We are looking for Product Managers, Designers and Engineers that will be working with me directly. What could be better? :)
We need sharp, motivated and passionate people to join our team. Details on the Product Manager, Engineer and Design positions below.
Engineer Position Details:
Writing widgets that allow a personalized experience to be built on AOL’s web sites. You’d write widgets using DHTML, HTML, AJAX and Flash technologies. The widgets span from one that shows email and Instant Mesdages , to one that show is your “social status” such as Facebook, Myspace, Youtube, Flickr and Bebo.
Syndicating these widgets across sites outside of the AOL network – so your stuff goes across the web.
Passion and drive. We want people with passion and drive, who can learn quickly and want the best product for the users. You don’t need to know everything.
We are looking for sharp, motivated engineers who can build out widgets for our AOL applications and syndicate these across the web – think of syndication across Facebook, MySpace and of course our brand new “myAOL” product and iGoogle.
Product Manager Position Details:
Working with other myAOL product managers to ensure that all future roadmap projects/features work with our cobranded sites
Working with partners to develop module requirements and other features as needed
Working with project management, design, dev and qa to scope, schedule and implement requirements and report updates/progress to the program manager and co-brand team
Working with International on per-country requirements across global agreement
Liaison with cobrand team
You should have great communication skills and work well with the extended team - everyone from dev, qa, legal, business development, marketing, design, etc.
Sr. User Experience Designer Details: The User Experience Design group at AOL in Silicon Valley is looking for a Sr. User Experience Designer with an emphasis on interaction and visual design (a little HTML/AJAX-y goodness wouldn’t hurt either). In this position you will be working on some of the most important and most strategic parts of the new way that AOL does business.
Must have proficiency in the standard design tools used today
Serves in a leadership role in the development of the look and feel or your designs
Leads project team in the development and implementation of your high-quality, interactive designs
Actively solicits feedback to ensure that all activities and deliverables meet expectations
If you are interested in jumping in, and working in a dynamic, fast paced environment, send your resume or better yet, send an example of your work! (email: frank at frankgruber5 dot com)
Looking to plot your photos in a memorable timeline? circaVie could be just what you are looking for. With circaVie you can easily create a flashy photo timeline.
Simply sign-up, start uploading or pointing to your photo links, associating a photo date and circaVie plots them on a scrollable timeline. It sort of reminds me of a scrapbook in a timeline format. Timeline is interactive as users can interact with each photo on the timeline as well as leave comments. circaVie offers the ability to change the color of the timeline and it can be snagged for embedding into your favorite web site or blog. You can also pass your timeline via AIM Share or by passing around an RSS feed. I have included a timeline below from a fabulous time spent exploring San Francisco last weekend.
Similar to Ficlets, circaVie was created by AOL's AIM Network, it was done using a nimble and agile development team which at times was up to six people but has since been reduced to just two. circaVie offers OpenID and also makes it easy to select a site specific username and pull in your buddy icon from AOL, AIM, Flickr or Twitter. circaVie is a fun and useful application for anyone looking for a way to tell your photo explorations in a memorable fashion.
In case you missed it, San Francisco had a power outage today that was caused by an explosion downtown. The fire from the explosion knocked out electricity and several big siteswhich included Netflix, Craigslist, Typepad, Vox and LiveJournal - all were down for several hours.
Somewhat Frank is powered by Typepad therefore was also down as part of the go-juice outage. Sorry for the inconvenience if you were trying to get to the site during the outage.
Uncover offers a community-powered site for local venues and people. Recently released into public beta by three twenty-somethings, Spencer Fry, Jason Nelson and Dave Gorum, aim to deliver a social network for people looking to go out and meet people at night.
Similar to Digg or other community powered sites Uncover has it's own currency called the "Uncover" which is awarded for a venue rating or review on the site. Users with the most "Uncovers" are given promotion in the community. For example, here are the top people in the Bay Area.
Currently in 20 cities, Spencer Fry he had this to say of Uncover's approach and future direction:
"We're trying to combine keeping friends in touch with providing
ideas about where to go out for the evening, and with whom. We want Uncover to be
the website you just have to visit before going out for the night, and we're
organizing our future features around that concept."
While there are other sites that offer up local venue information, Uncover's rich and clean design is different by leading with photos rather than text-based reviews. Additionally, users are can contribute reviews, tags and photos. I expect Uncover to add more social hooks soon which would help to contribute to Uncover's social stickiness.
The Impact of Facebook's Platform Read/Write Web looks at the impact Facebook is making on the Web. It has been just under 2 months since Facebook launched their platform initiative, but this self-opening move has already had an extremely positive impact on the company.
Facebook buys Parakey GigaOm believes Facebook’s new mission is to: buy all talent under 25 in the Palo Alto-Mountain View area. Parakey is a prime example.
Totally Uncorked Gary Vaynerchuk's WineLibraryTV a daily 15-min video podcast was recently highlighted in TIME Magazine. Gary was a sponsor and demo'er at TECH cocktail in DC 1. Way to go Gary!
Dow Jones, News Corp. Set Deal News Corp. reached a tentative agreement for the purchase of Dow Jones & Co. at its original $5 billion offer price. The deal will be put to the full Dow Jones board this evening for its approval, said people familiar with the situation.
Mesmo.tv Discovers Videos You Like Mesmo.tv is social video bookmarking tool launching today that lets you tag videos you like and throw them into a personalized content stream and group channels.
WordCamp 2007 - Journalism Panel: Om & Dvorak
Josh Hallett covers the second session at WordCamp 2007 which featured
John Dvorak and Om Malik. I was there to take in the session which
offered an eternal blog/journalism debate.
SportSnipe, a San Diego-based startup, recently launched to offer an aggregation of sports content from across the Web. SportSnipe aggregates over 1,360 feeds and looks to be expanding is collection daily. All feeds for NCAA
football will are said to be coming soon. SportSnipe is aimed to provide users a way to get all their sports
content on a single site. SportSnipe also pulls in video content from about every site that allows a video thumbnails (i.e. MSN, YouTube, Google, Metacafe, etc.).
Brothers and co-founders, Adam and Brandon Eatros, started the site, and plan to include a full
user integrated forum, user blogs, user submitted stories, user
competitions, an updated design, among many items.
Currently, SportSnipe has personalized homepage-like qualities which stacks it up with some tough competition (i.e. myAOL, iGoogle, MyYahoo, etc.) however, SportSnipe plans look to steer towards becoming a platform for the sports conversations (blogs, forums, etc) positioning itself as a Topix-like site for sports lovers.
Ujogo, a Silicon Valley-based startup, just launched into public beta poised to create a more competitive and satisfying free online poker site than its competitors. Targeting the estimated 30 million free online poker players, Ujogo will cater to all demographics, including the 40 plus percent of woman playing online these days.
In talking with Ujogo founder and CEO Eric Gonzalez, he explained that the current set of free online poker options are highly unsatisfying because he believes people do not have enough at stake, therefore players have an unrealistic irrational style of play. Eric and his team looks to change that with Ujogo by offering incentives for solid play through monthly leader boards and tournaments. Ujogo offers two currencies within the application:
Ujogo points - frequent player points received for playing whether you win or
lose redeemable in the Ujogo store.
Ujogo cash - internal game currency that can be accumulated over time
(i.e. monthly winners, etc.) can be cashed in for additional points for prizes.
Ujogo includes basic social networking aspects within the site to enable player to find out a little more about their competitors. Ujogo incorporates educational tools to help players learn to play poker better. Included in site are videos from Expert Insight (Phil Gordon - Poker Player Pro) to help players to learn and improve. In addition, Ujogo gives players personalized analytical tools and metrics on their play that allows them to recall and better understand their poker trends.
Ujogo plans to roll out additional metrics options with time. Ujogo received one million dollars in angel funding in February 2007 and followed it up by acquiring an online poker company called GamingEverywhere.com in April 2007. The GamingEverywhere.com poker application acts as the backbone of the clean and realistic online poker playing interface.
Ujogo's business model supports ad revenue and plans to offer about half that
revenue in prize packages for leading players within the Ujogo community. So if you want to win some great prizes and elevate your level of poker play you might want to deal into Ujogo for a few free online poker hands - You could win big!
One Llama, a product of six employee Champaign, Illinois-based startup One Llama Media, leverages audio analysis, search and discovery systems to offer a place for music lovers to discover, listen, share and buy new music. Though in the music discovery category, One Llama differs from Last.fm, Pandora and MyStrands by focusing more on search result technology rather than community aspects of music discovery.
One Llama's users interface design is fun and light. Users can search for new music by song or artist and search results are returned in a flashy cluster experience (shown in the screen-shot below) that reminds me of Visual Thesaurus or Quintura. Users can create playlists on their own or One Llama will create a playlist with recommended songs that are similar to a song or songs you have identified. One Llama created a quick list of recommended songs based off of one song I liked. I was then given the option to share, save or buy these tracks or the playlist. I have shared the list below as an embeddable widget but you can also share it directly to Facebook.
If you like a song you can purchase is on iTunes or Amazon. One Llama also offers an iTunes plug-in which links the web to your desktop music making it even easier to find and purchase the songs you just discovered on One Llama.
In talking with Director of Product Development, Amit Sudharshan, a recent graduate of University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, he explained that:
"One Llama believes finding music should be a 'fun' experience that people should be able to discover, enjoy and share."
As a music lover myself, I would have to agree. Currently, One Llama uses collaborative filtering to offer up song and playlist recommendations but Amit mentioned that audio signal extraction technology is coming very soon. This will enable One Llama to offer music search technology which uses collaborative filtering to recommend songs that people usually play together as well as signal extraction technology to recommend songs that sound alike. One Llama recently partnered with EMI and APM to power their search and find songs that "sound like" other songs within the APM library.
Sticking with it's 'fun' mission, One Llama shows its lighter side by allowing users the ability to personalize their llama avatar. My llama avatar is shown to the right.
Bottom-line:One Llama offers an innovative music search and discovery technology that is fun and easy to use. I had fun using One Llama and I think you will too.