Another Yahoo! Exec Resigns

Anyone else notice that a lot of long time Yahoo! executives are bailing on the company?

Yahoo’s chief technology officer is resigning after nearly a decade on the job, creating a management void as the Internet icon tries to mine more profits from a recent upgrade to its system for delivering online ads.

Recall that Nazem got the technology head role in Dec as part of the big reorg, the fact that he is leaving 6 months later is surprising to say the least. It’s remniscent of 2001 when Koogle, Anil Singh, and Mark Rubenstein all turned in their badges.

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Major Spammer Arrested

"Soloway, 27, was once on a top 10 list of spammers kept by The Spamhaus Project, an international anti-spam organization. Others have since topped him, mostly based in Russia and other countries out of reach of U.S. or European law."

Check out the eye-popping statistic from Ironport deep in the article about the arrest of big fish spammer Robert Soloway… 70 billion spam emails in an average 24 hour period. That’s 10 spam emails for every human being on the planet in a single day.

If convicted, Soloway should have to serve his prison sentence in Nigeria while filling out offers for credit cards, mortgages, and "national lotteries" while munching on generic Viagara pills (but no internet porn).

Russians and Climate Change

"Russian scientists believe that global warming can be slowed down by releasing aerosols into the lower stratosphere, a top scientist said Wednesday."

Anyone else not very comfortable with the notion of Russia releasing massive quantities of anything into the atmostphere? Their track record on environmental issues may need a few decades of burnishing up before they can claim leadership on green technology.

Google Gears

Scoble covers Google’s latest offering, Gears.

They are showing me a demo of the new Google Reader using the new Gears plugin. After you load the Gears plugin you get a new icon at the top of your Reader window which enables offline capabilities of Google Reader. They showed how Google Reader then downloaded 2,000 feed items. They took the browser offline and it continued to work great.

It does work really well at enabling an offline usage mode for Google Reader, can only imagine where they are going with this as it relates to their other office productivity apps, as well as for other non-Google applications.

I did find it interesting that the access model for developers is essentially SQL. What I was left wondering is if this is in fact SQL light then does that mean one could use Gears as a proxy for other SQL data sources?

Keep in mind that this is a Firefox extension, which means most of the market can’t take advantage of it. Nonetheless, this is a really interesting development and I’m sure that we will see some innovative implementations of it in double quick time.

Lastly, there is an open question for Google over Apollo/Silverlight. While Google is clearly developing an offline capability, thereby flattening one of the objections that Google faces when pitching their office applications, but what is there answer on the question about rich non-browser based applications. Perhaps Google is a better acquirer of Adobe than Apple?

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More on Evolution of Advertising

"I wasn’t impressed. See, a customer who actually flew the airline – and had a bad experience – made more of an impression on me than a series of (undoubtedly highly expensive) paid ads. (I would add that I’ve flown on Delta occasionally without problems, but that’s beside the point.)"

There’s nothing new here, but it did cause me to think of a recent restaurant experience. We went to dinner at Mantra in Palo Alto on Saturday night and proudly displayed was a poster highlighting Mantra being a Chronicle "top 100 Bay Area restaurant".

As we were sitting there having a cocktail I was quietly thinking to myself "so what? I really don’t care what the Chronicle says about a restaurant, I’m more interested in what Yelp or Citysearch has to say in the ‘people like me’ reviews". Why OpenTable doesn’t have user reviews is about as big a missed opportunity as I can imagine.

The real backstory here is not about restaurant reviews but rather how newspaper publishers no longer have a lock on telling us what is good and what is not. Witness the demise of movie critics, once the staple of movie trailer advertising, or perhaps the once mighty NYTimes bestseller list. If I am curious about a book I am more likely to go the the Amazon bestsellers list because there I can get reviews from people who have read (or claimed to have read?) a particular book.

How does advertising embrace user generated content? One technique seems pretty obvious, banner ads and search engines should have a flyover that highlights blog posts that are, ideally, favorable to the thing being advertised.

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BT Acquires TiddlyWiki, Name Change Imminent

Jeremy Rustin sold his company to British Telecom, which at first glance may seem an improbable fit but when you consider the BT Workspace initiative it makes a lot of sense. Also, the fact that the team he will no doubt be a part of is based here in Palo Alto, well it’s actually a very good fit.

I’m delighted to announce that the mighty BT has acquired my tiny little company Osmosoft Limited. I’m joining BT as Head of Open Source Innovation, and I’ll be building a crack open source web development team called BT Osmosoft. To say the least, this is big news for me personally, and I hope will have a positive and lasting impact on the future of TiddlyWiki.

Congratulations are well deserved, Jeremy did a great job building something that when you looked at Tiddlywiki closely is very disruptive. Jeremy really is a pioneer in the space of microcontent and the concept of a fully self contained hypertext document that could posted to a webserver or emailed around is pretty nonlinear.

PS- regarding my name change imminent comment… you really don’t expect a company as old school as British Telecom would keep a name as cool as TiddlyWiki.

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Peery, Arrillaga Honored

If you have ever wondered who the "Arrillaga" is that is on a quest to rename every building on the Stanford University campus, here’s a nice article featuring John Arrillaga and Richard Peery.

"They don’t know what the internal rate of returns is and they have no idea how to use a spreadsheet. But they do know addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, and they know addition and multiplication a lot better."

This is a story that is as much a part of Silicon Valley’s history as any tech company, indeed these guys own more of the Valley than anyone else.

Google’s Un-Memorial Day

I wasn’t going to post this but after thinking about it for the last day it really started to make me angry. Google’s holiday logos are pretty standard fare by now, so it was with some surprise when I learned that they didn’t do anything for Memorial Day even though they have special logos for other countries equivalent of Memorial Day. Zombie is running a contest featuring examples of what that logo could have looked like. Bad Google bad.

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The Eternal Quest for Good Design

"The idea of community, user generated content and more dynamic web pages are not inherently bad in the same way, they should be secondary to the primary things sites should get right."

I wanted to find something to disagree with Nielsen on but he is so right

The one thing I would add is that designing software for users is hard, unbelievably hard. I found this out at my last company, engineers think think only about whether something is easy for them to use and they are more than willing to live with quirky user experiences, while designers think about design more than usability.

When you can get good engineering coupled to good design with an awareness of the actual user group targeted, the effect is powerful but getting them together is a real challenge because everything starts so far apart.

When I wrote about Cambrian House a while back I could have been writing a case study for Nielsen. The user experience features overlapping features, lot’s of community this and that, confusing jargon, and their own made up vocabularly. This is a great example of an outstanding concept that gets in the way of itself with a user interface that doesn’t value speed and simplicity.

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