May 112009

Five Years On

Five Years On

As of this past weekend, I’ve been blogging on OnlyOnce for five years.  My main reflection as I was thinking about it during this morning’s run is that blogging is different.  I started blogging to try out what was at the time the “new, new thing” (there were almost no CEO blogs at the time), just like I have tried out lots of other new technologies or web services from time to time over the years — from Skype to Facebook to Twitter to about 50 others.

You’ll never see a tweet from me about an anniversary of using Twitter.  Or any other comparable from that above list.  Blogging has ended up being fundamentally different.  It’s not just another expression of my status updates or another way to connect with friends and colleagues.  It’s become a core part of my business operating system, although I suppose that’s the case for many other tools as well. 

I think the main difference is that OnlyOnce has become a true form of creative expression for me.  It’s like (I imagine) writing a book or composing a piece of music. I’m not suggesting it’s high art, but I view it more as an ongoing project than most other online tools or sites I’ve tried out over the years.

Here’s to the next five years of it.

Filed under: Email

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Nov 172006

For Whom the Bell Tolls, Part II

For Whom the Bell Tolls, Part II

Two years ago, when we got Vonage at home, I blogged raves about the service, which I continue to believe today (although I do hear mixed reviews of it from time to time, depending on the user-in-question’s internet connection).  And I blogged about Skype when I started using that last year.  The theme of both posts was a big “uh oh” to phone companies everywhere.

So let me add another note on this theme.  I spent some time yesterday at the offices of Skype, now a client of ours.  From the minute I walked in the door, something seemed odd about the office.  I couldn’t put my finger on it, there just seemed to be something missing.  Then it occurred to me — no phones.  Literally, I couldn’t see a single one.  The receptionist did have one for incoming calls and routing, and she said she thought there were one or two other ones in the entire office.  Everyone is happily on Skype.  Skype In, Skype Out, video Skype, plain old Skype.  It was a beautiful thing — not to mention extremely cost-effective.

Now I can’t wait for the team at Skype to figure out how make a true Skype mobile phone to marry VOIP with high-speed wireless.  Then I can be released from exorbitant cell phone charges.

To Ma Bell…and all of your offspring who specialize in overcharging customers and then providing them with horrendous customer service…you’re really on the path to being marginalized.  And good riddance, I say.

Filed under: Current Affairs, Email

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Sep 122005

Reality Bites

Reality Bites

So Oracle is buying the $1.5 billion revenue Siebel for $5.85 billion, and eBay is buying the at most $60 million revenue Skype for $2.4 billion, which could grow to $4.1 billion if Skype hits some performance targets.  Huh.  Must be all those pesky customers, receivables, and assets bogging down Siebel’s books.

UPDATE:  Fortune’s David Kirkpatrick, one of the most insightful journalists covering technology, makes some sense of this in this week’s Fast Forward column.

Sep 092005

It’s Easy to Feel Like a Luddite These Days, Part II

It’s Easy to Feel Like a Luddite These Days, Part II

In Part I, I talked about tagging and podcasting and how I felt pretty lame for someone who considers himself to be somewhat of an early adopter for not understanding them.  So now, 10 weeks later, I understand tagging and have a del.icio.us account, although I don’t use it all that often (quite frankly, I don’t have tons of surfing time to discover cool new content).  And I’ve even figured out how to integrate del.icio.us with Feedburner and with Typepad.

I’m still out of luck with Podcasting, mainly because my iPod and computer setup at home makes it really difficult to add/sync, so I haven’t given that a shot yet.

But today I had another two breakthroughs — I switched from AOL Instant Messenger to Trillian for my IM client, and I started using Skype.  Trillian is pretty cool and of course free.  I’ve never used MSN Messenger or Yahoo Messenger seriously, so the value for me is less in the aggregation of all three clients, and more in tabbed chatting.  Just like Firefox, the client lets you have all your chat windows displayed as tabs in a single window, which is much simpler and cleaner.  But better than Firefox, you can detach a chat window if you want to see it separately.

Skype is really cool.  I understand why the company will be sold for a good price, although I still don’t understand either $3 billion as a price or eBay as a buyer.  For those of you who don’t know what it is, Skype is voice Instant Messenger on steroids.  The basic functionality (for free) is that you can ping someone computer to computer, and have a real time voice chat if you are both online and accept the connection via your computer’s microphone.  If you decline the connection, it saves a voicemail for you.  The extras, which I haven’t tried yet, include SkypeOut (you can dial a real phone number from your computer for $0.02/minute, anywhere in the world) and SkypeIn (you get a phone number to give people so they can call your computer from a phone).  The quality was pretty good — certainly as good as or better than many cell phone connections, if not up to land line or VOIP standards.  Permission and usage/volume controls will be an issue here long-term since this is much more intrusive than regular test-based IM, but when it works, it is a beautiful thing.

Now, just like the vendor mayhem in the blog/RSS world (Typepad, Feedburner, Feedblitz, etc.), we need to get Trillian to incorporate Skype into its client so there’s a truly universal chat application.

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