Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Tuesday Sequence

My buddy Mike caught a few pictures of my Tuesday wave. It's fun to be able to say I was the first one to paddle out and I caught the first wave of the day, but I wouldn't do it again. The storm surf conditions and the walls of whitewater that were pushing surfers from Pleasure Point down to Capitola Village were too much work for me. I would rather have sunshine and 4-5ft waves I could surf all day long.

This little wave I jumped on was about half the size of the one's coming through, and getting mowed over by whitewater until you can hardly breathe is the pricetag.





Thursday, November 22, 2007

Facebook Vs. OpenSocial - Reminds Me of Browser Wars

Google is doing their best to create an API that everyone can use to develop social applications for any container. Facebook is doing their best to create an API that developers can use to quickly produce applications on their container. Should Facebook jump on the OpenSocial band wagon? It's too early for me to cast my vote.

I have been developing an application for the Facebook container and I'm impressed with their API so far. It's easy to use, pretty intuitive, and has a lot of functionality. But my app is pretty simple. What happens when an application gets really complex, involves lots of developers and updates? Coding for Facebook, MySpace, Google, Bebo, Orkut and Hi5 could start to get messy.

The idea behind OpenSocial is to code to one API and release your application to many containers. That way the focus goes toward developing killer apps and not managing social containers. The more I think about it, the better it sounds.

HUGONGO is a multi-dimensional social application that draws on several different levels of relationships but relies on the critical mass of a large social network. If there was a way to tap into all the containers, while still allowing each user to stay within their preferred social network, it might make an even better solution. Still too early to tell, but I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

LinkedIn, Facebook, Orkut, MySpace - Duplicating Friend Requests.

When is someone going to create an application that will allow me to manage my friends network from one place and share it across all social networking platforms?

I really enjoy playing with Facebook and I've been connecting on LinkedIn for a couple years, but now I have to ask some of my same connections to become friends all over again. Seems pretty Web 1.0 to me.

I know the value for these social networking platforms is in their users, but I can't be the only one who is getting tired of having to go through the same process of identifying friends and building networks over and over again.

Who is going to step up and solve this problem for us? One network of friends, shared over any social platform you want. Is it possible? Could OpenSocial be a step in the right direction?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Biggest - Another Facebook App

I started the process of designing and coding a Facebook app last week and I'm pretty happy at the results so far. The application I'm building is called "Biggest" and it's a boasting machine. Stake your claims, share them with your friends and hope they don't challenge you to prove it. You might have to show evidence or have another friend vouch for you.

The reason I'm building Biggest is to learn more about the Facebook platform and see how it will work for HUGONGO, our social travel guide product. If it turns out to be a good resource I'm sure we will develop an app for HUGONGO that will allow friends to create and share travel guides and maps.

I'm using Ruby on Rails, hosted at Joyent with mySql. The most useful resource I've found so far is on Liverail.com and looking at other apps has been really helpful, especially for UI ideas. Oh, and the book Getting Real, by 37 Signals, is awesome.

Hope that helps with your project.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Facebook is winning me over

OK, my last post was about consumer fear. I heard about the new Facebook advertising platform and I was afraid they were selling out.

In order to pacify my fears I decided to set up my own company "Page" for HUGONGO, and check it out from the advertisers perspective... Facebook is winning me over.

Every business should have their own Facebook "Page" and should do everything they can to start connecting with their customers. This is a valuable way to stay intimately connected with your users that not only builds your brand but gives you access to the most important feedback system available. Plus, once you have a Facebook Page you can create advertising campaigns that help your company by helping your customer.

For example, if you are a chiropractor your most valuable advertising is a customer testimonial. Facebook makes it possible for you to become another touch point in that social network. Ask your customers to add your company to their network and help them share their experiences with you to their friends.

I'm still having concerns about privacy and consumer backlash, but the more I explore the platform the more potential I see for a new kind of advertising system.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Facebook getting in bed with Big Brother?

I don't know about you, but if Facebook starts giving advertisers my personal information so they can get my friends to buy more stuff... I'm out of there.

Facebook is doing a good job of keeping the social network clean, providing tools to developers to help enrich the social experience, and giving users a lot of power over their personal content. But it is starting to sound like Big Brother is guiding them down the wrong path:

"Yesterday, in a twist on word-of-mouth marketing, Facebook began selling ads that display people’s profile photos next to commercial messages that are shown to their friends about items they purchased or registered an opinion about." - New York Times Article

It's not just a question of privacy, it's a question of ethics. Facebook could quickly destroy their momentum if the Facebook brand is marginalized in this way. I joined Facebook because of their dedication to privacy and their professional approach to social networks. I'll be the first to jump ship if they let advertisers have access to my private data in order to influence my friends.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Wahooooo!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Early Morning SUP Fun

video

My buddy Mike and I went met up at 6am for another SUP session at Privates this morning. Sometimes I can't believe how awesome this life is.

I'd really like to get to Nicaragua next summer. Right now it sounds impossible, but for some reason I think it's going to happen. I can just feel it. Anyone want to join me?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Father and son at the boardwalk

Ethan and I took some time off this summer and went to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. It's good to be spontaneous and just play.

Sunrise over Capitola

Sunrise this morning over Capitola pier. The moon was full and setting behind me... I was blown away again.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Baja Surf Trip

I just got back from a 15 day surf trip to Baja. This was probably the best Baja surf trip I have ever been on. It's refreshing to have some time out in the desert to let the world slip away and reflect on your life.

I decided to start a blog just for the surf trip so if you're interested go to bajasurftrip.blogspot.com and check it out.

While I was down in Baja I had a chance to do some Stand Up Paddle Surfing and I'm totally hooked. This is another way to make the best of Baja. When it was windy we were kitesurfing, when there were waves we were surfing, and when the waves were small we were stand up paddle surfing. What more can you ask for?

Next summer we are taking 10 people down to Baja Sur with us to learn Stand Up Paddle Surfing. We'll spend the first couple days going over the basics and paddling the warm, flat water of La Ventana. Then we're off for two days of stand up paddle surfing in the waves and a final day for fishing, diving or paddling. Check out paddlesurfbaja.com for more information, and keep your eye on the paddlesurf.net blog.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Web Design Rules and Blogging Gets Easier

On my last post I talked aboutt how easy it is to create a functional web site using open source software. Well, it's getting even easier.

Godaddy has a new feature called Marketplace where they have all kinds of open source software, ready to install with a click of a button. I know this isn't new, web hosting companies have been offering add-on's and features for years. But Godaddy has made it extremely simple. And they have good stuff, too.

For example, I set up a WordPress blog site in about 5 minutes with the click of a button. But more exciting than having a basic blog, I discovered the real power in WordPress. This open source software is flexible, easy-to-use, and powerful. A person or business could literally create a fully functional web site in less time than it's taking me to write this blog.

Now, I've been building web sites for 10 years, and for me to get excited about free software, and services like Godaddy, is really something. For years I have been helping small businesses design, program and publish web sites. The typical turnaround time for a small web site could be anywhere from 45 to 90 days. And the amazing thing is that 90% of the functionality is now available in WordPress.

So how does this affect the future of web design for small business?

My personal take is that Design will finally get the attention it deserves, and basic programming will not be a limiting factor. As a matter of fact, custom programming will move to the foreground, and small businesses will be able to move funds from basic programming to customizations. This will result in higher quality web sites and better results for everyone.

Sounds like a win-win to me.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

SocialText, Joomla, Godaddy, can web publishing get any easier?

I started building web sites in 1996, when you had to hand code HTML and 90% of web sites looked like really bad MS Word docs. Amazingly, 90% of web sites still look like bad MS Word docs, but there's hope!

Easy-to-use, open-source web publishing systems, content management systems (CMS) and wiki's are changing the nature of the web completely. And as companies like Godaddy make it easy to buy a domain, set up a CMS, add a blog a wiki and a forum all in about 30 minutes, small businesses can get up to speed for a very small investment.

Unfortunately, it's not easy to customize and integrate these open source systems for a small business, so the cost will get transferred from web development to design, integration and support. This is an important transition because it will completely change the nature of many web design companies and their business models. The main advantage I see is that creative companies will be able to focus their strengths on creative design, rather than coding. And the web sure could use an injection of good design.

So if you're a small business and you need a web site, or an upgrade, ask your web designer to show you what open-source applications are available and whether they will work for your unique needs. Then make sure they have the skills to design for that system AND to configure it for your business. Feel free to contact me if you have other questions!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

New Attitude Toward Blogging... and Life.

I spent a lot of time over the last few years trying to come up with helpful topics to blog about. I figured that if I was going to spend my time typing and you were going to spend your time reading, I should at least have something really important to say!

Well, I have a new attitude toward blogging. PEACE.

P - Plant seeds
You know what I mean when I say to plant seeds. You can feel it in your heart. Plant seeds of love, joy, friendship, community, churches, gardens, whatever you can imagine. If you are in recovery, start a new meeting. If you are in a church, ask what you can do to be of service. If you feel called, plant a new church! Go out into the world and in your own special way, plant seeds.

E - Educate yourself
The best gift you can give yourself is continued education. The lack of education in the world is one of the greatest causes of continued oppression and poverty. Be part of the solution and keep learning.

A - Assist the poor
This is one of the hardest things to do when you are on the treadmill of life and every penny you make is already being spent on bills, debt, school, mortgages. But it is an essential ingredient to keep your heart open. Stay focused on how you can help others, help the poor, give just a tenth of your time or a tenth of your resources to someone who really needs your help. If you go to church, ask what you can do to assist the poor. Don't listen to your brain because it will give you plenty of reasons to pass this by. Listen to your heart.

C - Care for the sick
I heard that there are only two things you can really do perfectly in this world. Assist the poor and care for the sick. Everything else is practice. When you care for someone who is sick, you are feeding them with your spirit. You don't have to heal them, you don't have to fix them. You just need to care for them. When my friend Rob was dying, I scratched his back for him and he told me that he never knew it could feel so good to have your back scratched.

E - Educate others
Finally, take what you have learned and educate the people around you. Tell your family, your friends, your neighbors. Help the world to grow by educating your fellows. If you don't think you have anything to share, start by educating yourself and then share what you are learning. Help someone who is afraid to go back to school by tutoring them, or just give them encouragement. Do what you can to educate others.

If you've heard of these five things before, we probably have something in common. If you haven't, take them and put them to work in your life. I have a feeling you will discover something that may change your life forever.

So this year my new years resolution is to pursue PEACE. Yep, this is the year where I am no longer going to focus on the perfect direct mail technique, or the format of an HTML email so it will bypass the SPAM filters. I probably won't be blogging about the ideal design for a landing page, or how to set up an auto responder system.

OK, maybe I will. But it won't be because I have to... it will be because I want to help educate others.

Don't get me wrong, I love talking about business. I am enthralled with new technology and I get a buzz learning about new Web 2.0 applications and how they are changing the nature of information sharing worldwide. I get excited when Google comes out with a new add-on that I can put on my personalized Google home page to help me streamline my work flow, or document management or time. But I am committed to blogging for the purpose of sharing my excitement with you—because I'm excited. Not because I'm fishing for new customers, or looking to inflate my ego. Because I have the opportunity to bring PEACE to the world.

I am making a new years resolution right now and I think we should all make the same resolution:

Pursue PEACE.