Archive for December, 2007


(Iceland + Greenland) < Facebook?

While the post title may be somewhat misleading (and nerdy) I feel the need to discuss Facebook’s recent valuation (and here) – well the valuation it got few weeks ago. Now, I have nothing against Facebook, in fact I used to use it all the time. I don’t login nearly as much anymore but I still maintain an account and think that it offers some very useful tools. I’m still waiting for that hybrid LinkedIn + Facebook social network that I’m sure someone is working on but I’m ok with using them both right now.

Recent investments in Facebook by technology powerhouse Microsoft value the social network at a mere $15 billion. Microsoft invested $240 million for an estimated 1.6% stake in the company. I know Microsoft has some extremely deep pockets and as the world moves to a more web-centric focus (online document processing, business management, personal productivity, etc) they needed to do something relatively drastic…but really?!?

I don’t know about you, but I consider investing in a company and ultimately giving it a valuation greater than the combined GDP of Iceland ($11.38 billion) and Greenland ($1.1 billion) pretty drastic. Of course the GDP is an annual number and Facebook doesn’t quite make $15 billion a year but the thought of it being valued that high blows my mind. Part of that may be because I remember using the site in 2004 just after it expanded beyond just Harvard students and wasn’t anything overly impressive and ‘social networking’ as we know it today was relatively young.

I understand that Facebook’s valuation still doesn’t place it in the company of the Google’s, Microsoft’s and Exxon’s of the world with market caps ranging from $210 billion to almost $500 billion, but I still think that it is just slightly over-valued. To put things in perspective, the GDP of Greece is $256 billion and the GDP of Sweden is $290 billion.

Well that’s it for now, I just thought I’d share my thoughts.

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Gmail ‘Labels’ get even better

A couple weeks ago Gmail added some real slick functionality to their web-based version (Sorry, Firefox and IE7 only I believe). I’m a huge Gmail supporter (I’ve been a user since they first opened up shop) and love the flexibility it offers – especially now that they support IMAP which I can get on my mobile phone. And sticking with standard Google practice – that’s free too!

Gmail ‘labels’ already beat the standard folder approach to email simply because it allows you to organize/archive emails in several buckets rather than just a single folder. As many of you have probably experienced, emails tend to involve multiple topics and it can be difficult to remember which folder you may have saved individual emails in. However, with labels you can tag an email with as many topics as you wish which makes organizing much cleaner. I know you could copy the email and place it into several folders but that would cause your email account size to grow at rates that often out pace storage space growth.

The color-coding of labels now lets me organize my inbox even further and provides a way for me to visually determine what requires my attention. I’ve got everything from to-do lists (depicted below) to family members designated with specific colors. To automate the process even further I’ve created a few rules – mostly for reoccurring topics of conversation – to tag emails as they are received.

Here is a shot of the color-coded labels in action.

Gmail Color-Coded Labels in Action

Just another reason why Gmail wins my email business.

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Prank callers are annoying

So, when it happened to Jenn and I a few weeks ago I was obviously kind of annoyed by the whole thing but when it happened one of my co-workers the other week I thought I would post something.

Apparently there is a scheme where callers constantly dial your number (in Jenn and my case it was about every half-hour for a couple hour block each day), hope you say something or get upset and then hangup. Occasionally, the prank caller mumbled a couple words but I could never understand them. After a few very early morning calls I decided to call the phone company and see what I could do to stop this from happening.

The phone company didn’t say they could stop it on their system but the lady on the phone did offer up a couple suggestions for blocking the caller with a ‘starcode’. Starcodes are codes you can enter on your phone to perform special functions. Most people are probably familiar with the *67 (block your number) and *69 (call the number that last called you) starcodes.

To block a number, dial *60 on your telephone. When prompted, select 1 to turn the service on. Once you’ve turned the service on, select the option to add numbers. Dial the number as it appears on your caller id and follow instructions on the device.

If you missed the link above, here is a link to the some additional starcodes. I also found this while browsing the web, it’s the Privacy Rights Clearing house webpage on stopping prank callers.

Hopefully this information is useful!

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What a week, take two

So I write this from the Bradley International Airport just outside of Hartford, CT at 6:15 AM and it’s been another great week of travel. For those of you that haven’t heard, the northeast got slammed by a disastrous snow storm and while the weather people were calling it for several days, no one thought it wise to prepare.

It starts snowing just before lunch and almost immediately I get an email from United that all their afternoon flights have been canceled. Honestly, it kind of shocked me a bit because their automated alert system has never worked for me in the past – but I guess at least I knew now. I jump through all kinds of hoops to get on the only US Air flight out (which was ultimately canceled) and get on my way to the airport.

I work about 20 miles away from the airport and it took me three hours to make the trip. They hadn’t done hardly any kind of plowing and oh, everyone else in Hartford was on the road trying to go home.

The drive wasn’t actually too bad. It gave me some time to sit back and think in a decently quiet environment and enjoy some music. At least until I hear a loud ‘boom’ with about seven miles to go and realize that my windshield wiper motor blew. Now, I don’t totally know what happened but I do know that my windshield wipers immediately stopped working and I had to drive the rest of the way with limited visibility and my hand out the window with an ice scraper as my very manual wiper. I probably should have called the rental car company but that would have taken at least two hours with all the weather.

One nice thing is that I was just confirmed on my flight and was upgraded to first class. I guess if I don’t get to go home on my regular day, at least I get to go home today in first class…hopefully!

Well I’m signing off to get some ‘real’ work done before catching my flight.

Update: Here are some photos that I took on my phone of the drive. Don’t worry, I was stuck in traffic when I took these. Click them to enlarge.

Parking lot before the adventure Stuck in traffic Stuck in traffic, again

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What a week!

Well, I honestly don’t even know where to begin.

I guess first of all, this week was destined to be a long week. I didn’t get home from Connecticut until Friday evening and had to turn around and leave less than 48 hours later for Texas (I had to go to one of the warehouses this week). I know one more night may not sound like much but taking that Sunday evening away from relaxing and turning it into travel really makes a difference. It probably didn’t help that once I landed in Dallas I had to drive two hours.

So I finally land in Richmond around 10:15 PM and head to my car. I get out of the airport and maybe 5 miles down the road I get a flat. Great! I guess it’s not a huge deal, but not something I wanted to deal with after a day of travel. I get the ‘inconvenience tire’ (more on this later) on and get back on the road.

Not more than 10 miles later I get the same rumbling sensation on the driver side of the car and get off the interstate. Luckily, I was able to get to a hotel parking lot. It turns out that my spare has now gone flat (not completely so it leads me to believe I hit a bump or something that deflated it). I call Jenn and she comes to pick me up – she’s great!
Cut to Friday…

I take Jenn to work so that I could have her car and deal with the flat tire debacle. I pull out of her office and end up getting stuck in traffic for an hour and forty-five minutes. It was unbelievable. I was obviously frustrated but since I have the ability to get my email and calendar information on my phone I sit there quietly and do some work. I’m still cranky but at least I’m being productive.

Well, needless to say, it was a very long 24 hours late last week but things are on their way to being cleared up. Car is at the tire shop now!

Until next time ladies and gentlemen.

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Welcome to my blog!

Well, I think this has been long overdue considering I’m a self-proclaimed nerd and love just about anything technology related…but alas…here is my blog.

I’ll be posting about random topics ranging from family news to upcoming events, from life to technology and business and probably everything in between.

That’ s it for now but I’vegot a couple posts that I need to get started. It’s been a busy couple of weeks!

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