The Hangover

The Hangover is a must see comedy. Four guys throwing a bachelor party in Vegas wake up with a massive hangover, no recollection of what happened, and lose the groom. The opening scene alone was priceless. The movie had all the stock cliches of a Vegas movie but the chemistry of the actors and the story of piecing together a wild night on the town backwards based on clues like tattered receipts and missing teeth put a fresh spin on it. There wasn’t a single dull moment and I ended up re-watching quite a few scenes to get another laugh.
Phil is a laid back partier type that can only see the positive side even in the most desperate situation. The brother-in-law is missing a few marbles and adds to some uneasy situational comedy and pulls off some classic lines. Stu is a dentist in a really nasty relationship. He’s a straight arrow type until he unleashes his wild-side with the fateful drink.
I can’t begin to describe how this movie just works without ruining it for you but all the preposterous twists and turns come off and the lines are priceless. The thing I loved about the movie was how the actors fit their characters so well that their performances seemed effortless. Don’t take my word for it, just have a look for yourself.

NewsRush 1.0.2 Promo Codes

Promo codes for NewsRush (yet another RSS reader for the iphone). The app is not quite ready to be promoted yet but hey it’s free. Gonna just keep posting promos until they become worth something.



















































OSX and Mac Desktops Aren’t Going Anywhere

People keep talking about how the iPhone’s going to ruin it for OS X and the desktop lineup. I’m tired of these alarmist headlines hinting at the demise of OS X. The share of earnings from mobile devices surpassing desktops and how Apple seems to be more concerned about iPhone developers (like giving Apple Design Awards exclusively to iOS apps this year).

It certainly looks like desktops are getting the short end of the stick.

The fact is, as long as Apple engineers are using macs themselves, there’s really nothing to worry about. Their tools are our tools. It can only get better. The only market I see taking a hit is the indie software development scene. Lots of developers stepped right over OS X desktop development and headed into iOS development. Some might transition into desktop development or do some on the side but a lot of people with a background doing OS X desktop development are busy with iPhone/iPad work. Just as a matter of priority, all the new APIs from Apple and innovative software are going to come from touch devices because there’s a hot new market with a new paradigm that excites developers.

However, desktop users are already enjoying the fruits of Apple’s success with the iPhone. With more GBs of RAM and processor power coming our way via Moore’s Law, programmers start doing crazy things with that extra capacity like a fat kid in an all-you-can-eat buffet. Of course, for the end user we get cool features but that eery feeling that we’re still running in place after shelling out a couple thousand bucks on a new system never goes away (Yeah, it feels kinda faster like when I open folders…).

Snow Leopard represents incremental progress from Leopard but it also cut down on a lot of bloat, resulting in faster code and a couple GBs shaved off the installation. New multi-touch trackpads on Macbooks, the Magic Mouse, and now the Magic Trackpad all come from hard-earned innovations from touch devices.

Eventually, all the lessons learned from providing iPhone developers more convenient building blocks will surely filter through to desktop development and if not developers will start adding more open source additions to bridge the gap.

Even if all the earnings shift toward touch devices and music/movie/TV sales, you simply can’t skip the fact that the source of all that creative momentum comes from the great tools that Apple engineers are using and the OS X operating system is an integral part of it. Sure, some resources may be tied up in mobile but eventually, these worlds will converge more than diverge as mobile firepower keeps going up (just look at the difference between iPhone 3G and iPhone 4).

The bigger concern is not so much Apple’s focus on OS X but how do you entice talented indie developers to develop innovative third-party applications for the desktop (like Cover Flow started as a third-party giveaway project or Quicksilver that defined an era). Another aspect is the ranks are flooded with people more after the money than before so that definitely changes community dynamics as well. However, this doesn’t translate to an existential crisis for OS X any claims otherwise without further evidence are absurd.

Categories: osx

Promo Codes for NewsRush, Yet Another iPhone Google Reader RSS Client

NewsRush is just another RSS client that syncs with Google Reader. It still has a long way to go in terms of stability, features, and general polish but it’s a start. The good news is you get it for free.


Leverage iPhone Custom URL Schemes with Remember the Milk

One of the great things about having remember the milk on the iPhone is portability. You have access to your tasks anywhere with the wonderful official iphone app but it doesn’t have tight integration with mobile specific tasks like call or sms or email someone right? Not quite.

The trick is to use custom url schemes. You can add tasks to RTM with the url set as a custom url scheme and it will launch the designated app. With the quick add task syntax, it would be like:

call for appointment tel://5559898

text bob sms://5559898

Those custom urls can be clicked from the task’s url field and will launch the designated application. Unfortunately, mailto: doesn’t work too well (you get “mailto” prepended the address) but for calls and text it works great.

5 Startup Lessons I Learned from a Farmer

Several weeks ago I spend a few days on Nakagomi Orchard (facebook page) WWOOFing. The idea was to get away from city life and spend time away from technology by volunteering on a farm in exchange for food and board. I never expected to see entrepreneurial spirit in full force. Our host, Nakagomi Kazumasa was not your typical farmer. Armed with a masters degree in literature from an American university, he was well-read and passionate about farming. Farming in Japan is a declining industry even as the country is fully dependent on imports (Japan’s self-sufficiency is around 40%) and real income for farmers is around half of what it used to be in the immediate post war era (hence why his parents could afford to send him to the states for college despite the wider economic gap with the United States at the time). When you combine this with Japan’s aging population and the ongoing migration of young people to the city for jobs and other opportunities the picture is quite bleak. In fact, many farmers in the area are going out of business due to financial difficulties, the lack of a heir or a combination of both. The fact that Nakagomi Orchard can weather this storm in a declining industry shows that they are doing something quite right. Here’s a short list of things that I saw at the farm that any startup should take heed.

Be passionate

Within 10 minutes of arriving on the farm I was whisked away to the orchard, dressed in overalls with tools in hand. After a small break and introduction I was weeding around a variety of trees. Kazu told us that weeding is an important part of farming because the weeds suffocate the roots and steal nutrients that should go to the trees. You have to get the root of the weeds otherwise it would grow back stronger but not damage the roots. Lazy farmers with badly tended orchards suffered lower yields and low quality crops.

Kazu was very friendly but laser-focused on farming. He never told anyone to work harder or faster but his passion was contagious and it kept an assortment of volunteers focused on work. While weeding he would go into details about the process of farming and the work involved as the season progressed.

It wasn’t just him either, everyone in the family was passionate about the family business, something I’ll go into more depth.

Everyone is an entrepreneur

Another striking feature of the orchard was how everyone in the family was essentially an entrepreneur. The family spanned several generations from grandmother, sons and wife, and grandchild. Everyone had their own role. Grandmother tended to the house, making lunch or readying snacks for the tea breaks that punctuated farm work. The daughter-in-law cooked dinner for the volunteers. Kazu oversaw work on the farm and the nephew helped out.

However, at a moment’s notice the daughter-in-law would be driving a van to the orchard busing volunteers and giving them directions. You could ask any member of the family what tomorrow’s weather forecast was and they would tell you including the highs and lows. At one point a shipping company visited us during lunch break and it turned into an impromptu business meeting where they compared shipping costs with the competitor and discussed the pros and cons in detail. It was amazing how quickly family members would switch between roles and adjust to the environment. They were very sensitive to the business and political climate in addition to the weather. Grandma read the newspaper daily and the daughter-in-law always watched the news. Everyone had a stake in keeping the orchard running and it showed.

Innovate, innovate, innovate

One thing that came up over and over again during our stay is how the orchard continued to innovate. Nakagomi Orchard pioneered a variety of new farming techniques in the area that significantly increased yield (Kazu’s brother is head of agricultural research at one of the prefecture’s labs). Not only that, the orchard constantly innovated by opening up direct sales channels and experiment with a variety of marketing strategies. They were always searching for newer and better ways to increase their yield or sales (either increasing profit margins or cutting costs). It was crucial to their survival because other orchards in the area would quickly copy any innovative technique they saw as successful. Even nature kept them on their toes, a technique that worked on keeping birds away one season rarely worked after a couple months. This lead Kazu to seek a competitive advantage that other orchards in the area couldn’t easily replicate.


One thing Kazu was quick to incorporate was internet technology. Whether it be social media, SEO, blogging or international volunteers (via WWOOF), Kazu put his English skills to good work to take advantage of this. While the Orchard’s website might not win any design awards, it places highly in search engines for a variety of terms that ensure a constant flow of customers and volunteers. Neighboring farms might imitate any old school marketing technique but none of them can match Kazu’s web savy. Through a combination of these skills he was able to sell his orchard’s products directly (better margins than going through the local agricultural association), have a steady flow of volunteers to help with the labor shortage, and ensure that his orchard got a steady flow of attention.

Stay open

How does Kazu keep up with all this? For one he is always open to suggestions. Many volunteers who come and go give him suggestions and information regarding social media. In fact, the facebook page was something I suggested with the other volunteers that were there. He simply said, “thanks for the suggestion, lets do it”.

While, getting away from the city and the internet in general was refreshing, seeing a real entrepreneur in action was probably the best thing about the trip (not to mention a breath-taking view of Mt. Fuji). When you’re knee deep in tech blogs it’s easy to forget that there is a whole wealth of knowledge that startups can learn from by stepping outside and talking with people doing their thing in traditional industry. You never know what you might learn.

Evidence that Apple’s New Tablet Will Be Called iSlate

Although it’s not much to go by, if you look at the registrars for the possible names “iTablet” and “iSlate” only iSlate uses the same registrar as the other Apple .  I guess we’ll find out next week.  Markmonitor’s header reads “Brand Protection, Domain Management, Anti Fraud Solutions”.   Sounds like something Apple would be interested in.

Domain Name: APPLE.COM
Whois Server:
Referral URL:
Status: clientDeleteProhibited
Status: clientTransferProhibited
Status: clientUpdateProhibited
Updated Date: 21-jan-2009
Creation Date: 19-feb-1987
Expiration Date: 20-feb-2011

Domain Name: ISLATE.COM
Whois Server:
Referral URL:
Status: clientDeleteProhibited
Status: clientTransferProhibited
Status: clientUpdateProhibited
Updated Date: 26-oct-2009
Creation Date: 30-oct-2004
Expiration Date: 30-oct-2011

Domain Name: IPHONE.COM
Whois Server:
Referral URL:
Status: clientDeleteProhibited
Status: clientTransferProhibited
Status: clientUpdateProhibited
Updated Date: 21-jan-2009
Creation Date: 24-aug-1995
Expiration Date: 23-aug-2010

Domain Name: ITABLET.COM
Whois Server:
Referral URL:
Status: clientDeleteProhibited
Status: clientTransferProhibited
Status: clientUpdateProhibited
Updated Date: 11-apr-2008
Creation Date: 08-oct-2001
Expiration Date: 08-oct-2011

Domain Name: IPAD.COM
Whois Server:
Referral URL:
Status: clientTransferProhibited
Updated Date: 22-apr-2009
Creation Date: 21-apr-1997
Expiration Date: 22-apr-2019

Tablets and Slates

Seems like this year is going to be the year we find out whether print media is about to taken by a revolution as big as the rise of digital music players was for music. Although print may be an industry in decline, we are confronted with more reading than ever before. The only difference is that we have to swim through a flood of scattered and diluted information yet somehow synthesize it throughout the day. I know so many people who don’t follow the news much less read a newspaper or weekly. I’ve found myself vacillating between print and internet news, although I’m becoming more and more convinced of the solid value offered by print (I read the newspaper and a weekly these days).

I’m a bit puzzled by this recent surge in interest by companies rushing to enter the market with some kind of tablet or slate. Some are dedicated readers like Amazon’s Kindle that are designed exclusively for a reading experience (black and white, easy on the eyes, and low power consumption) while the ones arriving this year will lean towards more of a communication device tailored for reading and other uses (like Apple’s rumored tablet).

It’s an interesting phenomenon that seems to be hitting all the right spots whether it’s the nostalgia for a time when people curled up with a good book along with the realization that a phone screen is just too damn small to do any kind of extended reading or viewing. We don’t want to lug around a laptop and we don’t want to be burdened with a key board when it’s not needed. Until you actually use one in real life, these devices look so full of promise because they seem to fit every conceivable situation where a laptop is overkill and a smart phone is limited.

Although I can see a lot of great uses for a connected tablet-like device with music, movies, games, email and the internet (even better with TV and radio reception), and a variety of text content (whether it’s stuff you fetch from Project Gutenberg, digital subscriptions or downloadable books), I can also see myself getting quickly bored with it. A smart phone is something that I can have on me at all times without feeling a burden but a tablet feels like more trouble than it’s worth.

I have a Dell Mini 9 that’s under 1 kg and it’s no more than having a hardcover John Grisham book in your bag, certainly feels lighter than the average college textbook. While it’s been great for the times that I really need a computer on the go (like travel or getting something done on the road), those occasions are actually rare. Most of the time I can get by with my iPhone and pick up from there when I get home. Also, the bulk of information devices feel useless without a ubiquitous connection. The iPhone was about as helpful as a Palm PDA once I stepped out of Japan with it.

The table device definitely has potential but like the iPhone, we’ll have to see new models of interaction and presentation before it becomes a truly must have item that’s part of our culture. Right now it’s hard for me to visualize it.

You Say the Android is an iPhone Killer

Yeah, a variety of android phones have already sold millions. I also heard that Google has a new android phone too. Motorola and Sony are betting on android for their flagging cell phone fortunes too. It’s not going to kill the iPhone though. Or maybe I should say it’s not enough to kill the iPhone. Sure, consumers are going to be faced with a staggering array of choices and competition will be fierce. If you want to look at it as a zero sum game, China is the big winner because that’s where all these phones are manufactured. However, that’s not going to be how it plays out.

I’ve had some hands on experience with android phones and I think they are pretty cool. Certainly a much more enticing offering than a Windows Mobile cell phone. I’d rather use a Nokia from the 90s if that was my only choice. The android is open source and cutting edge (have you used the Google Goggles app?). Less restrictions. Even though it’s from google, the domination of the iPhone gives it that underdog appeal. In the end, there are people who are going to prefer the android over the iPhone just as a matter of preference. There are probably lots of iPhone owners using them despite hating Apple just because it’s the most compelling product out there.

Still, the iPhone has many distinct advantages even with Apple trying to exert an inordinate amount of control on what’s allowed on the platform to their own detriment. Let’s look at some of the advantages starting with the weaker ones.

App Selection

This is probably a short-lived advantage. Sure, Apple might have ten times as much apps than any given android phone but half of those apps are Twitter clients and 90% are junk apps created from source code copied from Apple tutorials. The number of apps is something that will change dramatically when a platform takes off. It also doesn’t take into account the freshness of apps. If updates and new apps aren’t coming as quick as they used to, consumers will feel it sooner than the numbers.

App Quality

This to me is the biggest advantage I see right now. Apple developers are keener to design and user interaction as a rule, especially the veterans with experience developing for the mac platform. Phones might rival PCs of a decade ago but the limited resources and interface quirks make it that much more important that developers can turn weaknesses into strength. I think Apple will continue to maintain a competitive advantage in this arena even as android continues to improve.

Economies of Scale

Apple has decades of experience building the whole package from software to hardware. It’s the reason why they almost went out of business. However, it’s hard to beat a company focused on quality with complete control from screws to pixels under the leadership of Jobs and Ive. While android may have an army of open source programmers, Apple has a wider variety of software spread out over diverse areas of expertise. Not only that, they have formidable retailing might with both stores and e-commerce.

Just looking at the OS, the foundation powering the iPhone is the same one powering macs and will be the same one powering the rumored iTablet. It’s such a rich playground for experimenting with interaction that one platform can’t fulfill. However, whether it be macs, tablets or phones, Apple can pick and choose what architecture to deploy on and that makes a world of difference.

All the handset makers may benefit from the common platform of the Android OS but they still make hardware separately.


The strength of android is strength for Apple whether it’s the raw competition or interface inspiration. Even macs borrow good ideas previously spotted in the Microsoft Windows world. Android phones will continue to get better and keep Apple on its toes.

In short, it’s full of win for everyone as long as you pick the right 2 year contract for you!

Taking an Inventory

I think I’m at a point where I just want to lay back and sort things out. When you look for answers you only get more questions. The key is to find the right questions. I don’t really care if everything I do is wrong in 2010. I’m just going to set some goals for consistency and nothing more. No final results or performance objectives, just focus on one thing, keep going and try ever so little to make that one little moment better than the last even if it isn’t just as long as I’m doing my best or most.