Scripting News for 7/26/2008

The coolest thing about DirecTV 

At first it was a little unsettling getting used to a new way of watching TV, but I’m beginning to like the way DirecTV works. The coolest feature so far is the ability to program the DVR over the web. I don’t know if Comcast has this, I never found it (if it does), but it works really intuitively on DirecTV.

Here’s a screen shot (click for a larger version):

Clicking the Record to Receiver button does what you think it would: it sends a message from their server to the DVR to add Mad Men to the schedule for tomorrow at 10PM.

I’ll let you know if it works. :-)

Listening, respect and teamwork 

Scoble writes about Silicon Valley VC disease. I almost wrote a comment there saying that I’ve tried many times over many years to get VCs to invest in ideas I had for products, some of which turned out to be quite successful, but I thought better of it. Why single out the VCs, when the problem is much broader. Here’s what it is, from my point of view.

There’s not enough respect, listening, or teamwork.

After years of banging against the brick wall, one day, in a meeting with a VC, it came to me, clear as a bell. This person wasn’t listening to my pitch. Every time I’d pause to take a breath, he’d start taking the story off in some other direction toward some vision he had.

The VCs are the superstars, not the entrepreneurs, even though the hype is the other way around. So far everything I’ve said coincides with what Scoble said. Here’s where we diverge.

The entrepreneurs have the same damned disease. They don’t want anything from the VC other than their money.

The reporters have the disease too, so do the bloggers.

Silicon Valley is a really small place, getting smaller all the time, but it hasn’t figured that out yet. To make products that sell, it has to reach out into the world for wisdom, and that requires a lot of listening, respect — teamwork.

Listening, respect and teamwork.

Back when Scoble worked at UserLand, when I wanted to ship a product, I made everyone at the company listen to Al Pacino’s fantastic speech in Any Given Sunday.

When you think that way, VCs, entrepreneurs, developers, everyone –> You’ll start making really great products that mean something to real people. Until then, everyone will just be trying to be heard over the din of everyone else yelling how great they are.

Update: Here’s a podcast that explains why, if I were David Hornik, I’d invest in iPhone apps and wouldn’t worry about other platforms right now. (Later, yes, but not now.)

Airport Extreme router question 

Posted on FriendFeed: “Most routers give you a way to see a list of attached devices, a feature I need to locate some devices with web interfaces on my LAN (like my receiver). Recently I switched to an Airport Extreme, but it doesn’t seem to have this ability. Does it? If so how do I access it?”

And of course, the answer came thanks to Paul Grave and Jamie Wilkinson.

Heads-up to OPML Editor users 

I’m guessing that there aren’t many people using the OPML Editor on a daily basis, but to those who are, I’m about to make some changes in the menu structure and the default behavior. I don’t expect anything to break, what worked before will continue to work, however, what someone gets when they download the app will change, it will be simpler.

Here’s the thing. The OPML Editor as it ships today comes in one of two forms: 1. The app that was released in 2005, that has a blogging tool, an upstreamer, instant outliner, and a few other gadgets. It hasn’t received a feature update since mid-2007, and that was just to add Twitter support to the blogging tool. 2. FlickrFan for the Mac, which was released early this year, and is doing fine, not taking the world by storm, but it’s useful.

Now I want to do some more stuff with the OPML Editor, and history is in the way, so I’m going to do a house-cleaning of the menubar and of the Tools folder. Ideally the new editor will ship with an empty Tools folder. Pretty sure I can get there. There will be an easy way to view the available tools through a web interface, and quickly download and install them. So it will be possible for the same platform to serve many purposes without any one of them getting in the way of the others.

This should make it possible, for example, for there to be a FlickrFan release for Windows, since it’s the original functionality (the 2005 stuff) that’s preventing compatibility with IE7.

Now, on the downside, if you have become used to the Community menu and the NewsRiver menu, they will not be there after the update. There will be a new Misc menu (name might change) that contains some of the commands from the ProgrammersMenu tool. There may well be other changes.

So if you see these menus go away, that will mean that some digging is going on, and (we hope) some cool new stuff you can do with the OPML Editor, as well as new uses and users.

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