A VC Lesson

One lesson I learned from attending VC meetings.  Questions asked by VCs are not always honest questions.  While some of the questions are asked because they are genuinely curious, some are asked a) to see if you know what you are talking about, and b) to see if you can see straight.  So if you are asked a seemingly dumb question by a VC, give it all you got.  VCs know that smart techies tend to underestimate VCs and will take advantage of that.  A single dumb answer can tilt the VC's opinion of you.

Vulture Capital the Book

"Scott" talks about a book titled "Vulture Capital" by Mark Coggins and reviewed by Andrew Leonard at Salon.  Looks like a fun read.

I have had my own brushes with VCs, driving up and down Sand Hill Road and shaking a few trees while chanting hype words.  Frankly, it not exactly fun to utter words based on hope more than heart and filling spreadsheets with numbers that make me blush.

I also sit on the other side of the table occasionally, listening to entreprenuers make the Pitch.  On one hand, its a great feeling, like a bear sitting by a stream watching salmons swim by.  On the other hand, its annoying to hear people chant empty hype words and wave at fancy presentation filled with bullshit.  At the end of a day like that, I am usually left with a curious mix of accomplishment and emptiness.

"Scott" apparently owns thesandhillroad.com.  Oh oh, I am getting ideas again.  Being an entrepreneur is like being a Vampire, its in the blood.

RSS 2.0 and Namespace Reality

People working on RSS 2.0 ran into the reality of XML Namespace handling.  Bottomline is that not every XML software knows how to handle namespace properly.  A similar problem was encountered with 3D-Secure message format which is XML-based.  3D-Secure had to use XML-Signature so namespace had to be supported, yet a key partner company's product ignored namespaces.  The solution was to require that only default namespace declaration is allowed and forbid the use of namespace prefix.  The decision to have no namespace for 3D-Secure elements was arbitrary.

My recommendation for RSS 2.0 is to support namespaces but not require them to be declared unless they are needed and require only default namespace declaration to be used. This would allow legacy RSS software that can't handle XML namespace declaration attribute to continue working.  While this is a hack, but it is a practical hack since the primary value of RSS format is that it is being used widely and anything that breaks that voids the value of RSS.

Order of Inner Light on Arctic MUD

Back in early 90 (1992?), I was playing around with Internet.  I have always been partial to games, so I looked into MUD gaming phenomenon.  After looking around (I never did figure out what all the furry stuff was about), I found what I thought was the best MUD game around: Arctic MUD.  It was based on Dragonlance series.

After joining and playing around a bit, I started an in-game group called Order of Inner Light, aka OIL, as a social experiement of sort.  It was pretty interesting to see how the group got created and evolved.  I introduced some interesting self-imposed rules like RealDeath (it wasn't called that at that time) that required deletion of killed characters.  RealDealth made life on MUD more exciting although it prevented my characters from reaching high levels.  When Starlight, one of my characters, died in RealDeath, sadness among OIL members were far greater than those caused by loss of equipment and experience points caused by inconvenient deaths.

Another interesting event that took place after founding of OIL was the creation of Tarsis Shriners group which was created because:

It was initially formed as a joke. I was new to the whole mudding culture, and didn't take it very seriously. There were all of these freaks trying to roleplay, with titles like "Holy Paladin of the Order of Inner Light", and Bodie and I thought it was rather cheesy. I titled myself "Bane, Grand Poobah of the Tarsis Shriners" because I thought it was rather amusing and a subtle jab at the roleplayers. Bodie followed suit with the title "Kitchen Staff Supervisor of the Tarsis Shriners". Soon, many of our mudding pals who shared both our disdain for MUD marriages and an enjoyment of PK had silly Shriner titles, and a clan was born.

Arcot MUD still exists.  Tarsis Shriners is also still kicking and even holds occasional conferences.  I wish them well despite their PK habit.

Reversal Points and Tipping Points

"Scott" illustrates the concept of Reversal Points using AOL and Download.com as an example.

One of the things I've learned to appreciate in business are the reversal points that come along as things evolve. A good example of what I mean by that is what Bob Pittman did to AOL…

So, we're at one of those reversal points. Downloads.com has developed to the point where it thinks it has become such an important hub for downloadable software that it can charge the providers of that software a fee just for making it available.

His comments made me think of Malcolm Gladwell's book titled "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference", a good book.  I particularly like the section about how NY City subway was cleanup.  There are similarities between Tipping Point and Reversal Point, although TP seems more active like a Judo throw and RP seems more reactive in nature like a pendulum swinging back.  More food for thought later.

Identrus and ArcotID

From "Scott"

Arcot announced yesterday that Identrus has certified Arcot's ArcotID software smart card for secure authentication and digital signing.

I worked on that long long time ago and the paint has finally dried.  Lets hope Identrus can put some shine back into E-SIGN with ArcotID.

Prediction: Yahoo, MSN, AOL in Blogspace

Blogging will hit prime time when Yahoo, MSN, and AOL starts offering integrated blog service.  Integrated blog service is one that integrates other portal services (e-mail, IM, etc.) with blogging.  Blogging will revive personalized portals, add new ad-based (basic service) and fee-based (prime service) revenue sources, provide new contents, and a constructive habit for users.

If this doesn't happen in the next six months, I'll eat my breakfast (I usually skip it :-).  When it happens, blogging will go from exciting to mundane quickly.

Business Browser: More SiteBar Functionalities

I now have a barebone implementation of SiteBar for IE.  Below are my notes on expansion of its functionalities:

  • Authentication – add SAML, Liberty Alliance, and Passport support.
  • SOAP – add SOAP (and XML-RPC) support.
  • Data Sources – add RSS support and allow websites to list public links, links other sites can legally link to.
  • UI – add Outlook like UI for dividing up sections
  • Content Rating – P3P and peer-rating.

Sharing Calendar information using RSS

News and Events go hand in hand.  We can use RSS to subscribe and publish company and industry events, personal events, TV schedule, school event schedules, etc.

Just drop xCal (XML version of iCalendar format used by Apple's iCal) into RSS.  Calendaring UI is a simple variation of blogging UI so it shouldn't take much time for this to happen.