Scripting News for 5/2/2007

Berkeley quake 

We just had a small earthquake here.

Amazing how quickly the USGS site has info.

It was only a 3.0, but it was really close. (And quite close to the MacArthur Maze, site of the truck crash on Sunday.)

Tech conferences and integrity 

When Mike Arrington launched TechCrunch 20, I said that integrity had come to conferences in Silicon Valley. I meant it then, and I still mean it today.

The brief look we had yesterday at the invite list for the conference in Hawaii run by David Hornik of August Capital provided a reminder that there’s often a story behind how the speakers at conferences are chosen (or invitees to invite-only events), a story that often is not shared with the people who pay to go to the conference, and the rest of the world, even though sometimes the conflicts are very clear.

The first time I remember being sure of such a conflict was at an Agenda conference after Stewart Alsop became a venture capitalist. I noticed that a fair number of the presenters were from his portfolio companies. He may have even joked about how he was using his power to tilt the table in favor of his investments. I also remember hearing a lot of grumbling in the hallways (some of it from me) that we were paying to see ads.

Hornik’s investments are well-represented among the people invited to his conference. Are his competitors represented as well? We can’t analyze that now, because the site has been closed.

Who loses when tech conferences lack integrity? I’d argue that the Valley loses. It’s this kind of inbreeding that kept them from seeing what they call “user generated content” until 2004 or 2005, when it had been growing along with the web since its inception in the early 90s. An industry that prides itself on always being at the forefront had fallen far behind the leading edge. And even today, they don’t understand it — they call it “new media” — and invite people who make them feel safe, they don’t want to hear from people who challenge their assumptions. That’s not a good way to design a conference, people come home feeling bored with the same-old same-old, when there are new experiences to be had, new ideas to be shared.

Long-term this is their loss, although it slows down the flow of capital to new ideas when they most need support. They are happy to come in when it has been proven that there’s money to be made, but the technologies come out much less powerfully than they would if the investors of the Valley really risked alongside the innovators. But they find us too brash, or outspoken, that’s how we sound to them — and to their friends in the established media and “new media” but until they embrace the randomness of the web, they’ll continue to be surprised, continue to play catch-up, and continue to miss the really big opportunities.

Stewart Alsop via email: “I became a VC in June 1996. At Agenda 97 that fall, I shared the program 50/50 with Bob Metcalfe. I made my first investment at NEA right after that conference in December 1996. I did not participate in running Agenda 98, by which time I had three portfolio companies. But, even if I did AND if I had all three CEOs participate (which none of them actually did), it’s hard to imagine that 3/26 of the program would be a ‘fair number of the presenters.'”

PS: Valleywag has a copy of the invite list.

PPS: I’ve backed it up here.

Today’s links 

Micah Sifry: The Battle to Control Obama’s Myspace.

Om Malik: Hey Microsoft, forget MIX, focus on Mobiles.

Learning about Parallels 

For some unknown reason I needed to reboot my Mac by powering it off a number of times while I was in Las Vegas. Each time the Parallels desktop would be forced off without saving its state, and now it won’t launch Windows XP.

So I’m reinstalling the operating system, and all the apps, again (third time).

I’m getting good at this! ๐Ÿ™‚

PS: I’m doing this so I can install the software for the Zune that Microsoft gave to all the speakers at Mix 07.

Zune setup 

It’s been said before, elsewhere — but this is ridiculous. They’re asking for my life history. I just want to put some podcasts on the device and talk a walk and try it out. For example, they want my phone number and birth date, both are required fields. Geeeeez. I lied, like everyone else.

Later, I’ve completed the installation, now, how do I get a few songs and podcasts onto the device?

It shows up on the desktop, but when I click the icon, it launches the marketplace user interface, which lets me buy music from their store. But of course I already have music. Seems they should make it a bit more obvious how to copy my tunes onto the device.

Later, I might be getting somewhere.

Fumbling around, I believe it’s possible to synch up a podcast downloaded from the web with my Zune device, but everything I try results in it playing the MP3 on my desktop instead of copying it to my Zune.

I wish there was a way to use the Windows desktop file copying commands to move content onto the Zune. I already know how to use it, and I’ve never liked synching.

In this blurry picture of a Zune, look at the top of the screen, you’ll see a list of menu options. I can’t figure out how to get the cursor to go up there. Any ideas.

Michael Gartenberg on the Zune UI (and a comment on Parallels).

Kevin Tofel explains how synching works on the Zune.


52 years ago on this day I was born.

My mailbox overflows with birthday wishes.

It’s going to be a great day.

Thanks everybody!

PS: Megnut-the-blog is 8 today.

19 responses to this post.

  1. Happy Birthday, Dave!


  2. Happy Birthday!

    How about saving a copy of your XP disks (the Parallels files) in a special place, then if your virtual PC dies you can just copy the master disk files to the right place?


  3. Dave,

    How about saving a backup copy of the Parallels virtual machine image this time after you have done your install?

    That way next time there’s a problem you can just drop the clean one onto your computer and not have to go through the entire process again.

    The Autodidact


  4. Posted by Stephen Bove on May 2, 2007 at 10:37 am

    IMHO, the way the Obama campaign is managing the MySpace affair may be a very good indicator of how his administration (if he ever gets one) will handle subtle and complex organizational challenges: top down, power-before-diplomacy, loose ends not deftly managed by staffers erupt into significant problems, etc.

    Mr. Obama is first and foremost a very smart LAWYER (beware), second, a very savvy professional politician and POLITICAL MANIPULATOR (double beware), and third, a man unseasoned in handling the complexities of an organization as large, treacherous, and fast-moving as a presidential campaign, much less the executive branch of the US Government.

    Even if he rises to the occasion of running a flawless campaign and wins the White House, he has no significant business experience whatsoever, which given the control structures of the U.S. economy, is a gigantic RED FLAG (both for him and us who may elect him). I do not believe a political visionary without well honed and Machiavellian business instincts can effectively run post millennial America.

    Obama is an exciting candidate. However, a person’s true colors and abilities for an office as important as the US Presidency take a long time to understand. Right now, part of America seems Obama-crazy, just like they were fear-crazy after 9-11. It will be very impressive if Obama can quash this MySpace border skirmish by getting Joe Anthony back on his side.


  5. Posted by Michael Gartenberg on May 2, 2007 at 11:10 am

    Yep, Parallels can be flaky but as pointed out, the best way to deal with the issue to keep a backup on your HD of the image file you created so when Winodws flakes out, you can get back up and running in just a few minutes. Agree, the Zune install is a nightmare just to get some stuff on your device and no easy way to get podcasts on via RSS. Even more silly is the thing has WiFi so it should be the *easiest* device to get this contnet on, not the hardest.


  6. Posted by TF on May 2, 2007 at 11:37 am

    Your link to Gartenberg links into these comments.

    I can’t really help with your setup issues… There were options to search for libraries of music and what not but somehow you passed through them. Zune definitely does not like drag-and-drop, and I still don’t understand why people would want to do this manually rather than have it autosync.

    The menu at the top are not selectable options: it’s telling you where you are: ARTISTS. Moving left and right will move you out to albums, playlists, etc… In other words, it is just a breadcrumb trail essentially to tell you where you are.


  7. By default, Zune will try to synch audio and video in your “My Music” and “My Videos” folder. If you have digital content in other folders, you just need to tell Zune where those folders are and it will sync the content. Press the F3 button on your keyboard and you can tell Zune what folders to monitor.

    As far as podcasts, there definitely is an easy way to get them on the Zune but not directly as it doesn’t have RSS functionality. Just use any podcatcher you want to get your podcasts and have Zune monitor the folder where the podcatcher saves the files. See my post from November:

    Good luck and ping me if you have any questions that I can help with.


  8. Praise Murphy! Happy Birthday! A thousand thanks for everything.


  9. The earthquake was mother nature wishing you a happy birthday. ๐Ÿ™‚


  10. Heh. Scared the bejesus out of me. ๐Ÿ™‚


  11. Happy Birthday Dave, 52 on 5/2, gotta love it.

    Here’s some more age number fun: this year is the only time in my life that my age and my blog’s age will simultaneously be powers of 2… I’m 2^5 and my blog will be 2^3 at the end of June.


  12. Happy Birthday, Dave. I am especially glad to hear you are (slightly) older than I.


  13. Posted by Bryan Schappel on May 2, 2007 at 6:53 pm

    Happy B’day. Murphy willing, holping there are many more to come!


  14. Happy birthday!


  15. Just read the latest entries, for some reason I thought your birthday was the 6th? Oh well, I guess you would know better than anyone else. My British sarcasm ancestry asserting itself again.

    Happy birthday, hope the quake didn’t shake you up… too much. There was an earth quake here in Singapore fairly recently, but I apparently slept through it. I need to live in Japan or California for a while.


  16. > I still donโ€™t understand why people would want to do this manually rather than have it autosync

    The only people who say this are ones whose entire music collection fits on the portable device. What should it do when my 250GB of music doesn’t fit? Take the first 80GB? Based on the date added to the library, or perhaps alphabetically?

    Autosync has a failure mode, and it’s called active customers who buy a lot of music.


  17. Michael J.: a set of rules that specify what should get added?


  18. Rules might work; a little power-user-like for the averge consumer.

    For me, it’s more like: Okay, I’ve heard those four GD concerts, which ones do I want to hear now? Doing this in iTunes is trivial. iTunes sucks in a lot of other ways, but conveniently loading your iPod isn’t one of them.


  19. Happy belated birthday Dave.

    I’ve had my Zune since it was first released and use it to listen/view podcasts. I use Juice as my podcatcher which downloads podcasts to separate directories for each show. I don’t automatically have the Zune software “watch” all the podcast show directories because sometimes I listen to them on my desktop and don’t want them on the Zune.

    To sync the podcasts up with the Zune I’ve created a Zune directory under My Documents with three subdirectories: Pictures, Videos, and Podcasts. I’ve set the Zune desktop software to “watch” those directories so anything that get placed in the directories are automatically synced to the Zune. Some of the downloaded podcasts go directly in the Zune Podcast directory and other shows I manually move to the directory.

    Two other things you need to remember:
    1) You can’t delete the podcasts on the Zune but must manually delete (or remove) them from the “watched” directory. It has no concept of what’s been played and can be deleted. (I generally listen to all the podcasts on my Zune before resyncing to the PC so I can safely delete everything in the Zune Podcast directory.)
    2) Use the Podcast Genre on the Zune to find the downloaded podcasts and select “play all.” That only works if the ID3 tag has the word “podcast” in the genre field. I find most podcasts do but some don’t and it may list those shows under Unknown genre.


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