Archive for July, 2007

Five Invites to Pownce!

July 27, 2007 3 comments

I’ve got ’em if you need ’em! Leave me a comment or send me email if you want one.

Don’t know what Pownce is? First, be ashamed of yourself for being a rational individual that doesn’t subscribe to Valley VC fanboyism of Kevin Rose. Secondly, check out

I’ll send out a detailed review of the service in another post.

Until then – pownce upon these invites! Get it? Get it?? Oh, no wonder my standup comedy career derailed right after it left the train station….

Categories: kevinrose, pownce, tech

On Fat Friends and Facebook Apps

July 26, 2007 6 comments

Oh lord, the sky has officially fallen on our heads! “Groundbreaking” new research proves that obesity spreads from friend to friend, much like the cholera virus that annihilated entire cities back in the day. Back then, the outcome was gruesome death; nowadays the outcome is Kirstie Alley.

Nonetheless – your friends can make you fat! That got me thinking – what does this mean in a Facebook-Twitter-JustinKan-driven age, in a time when my friends aren’t just physically close to me but available all the damn time over some form of social networking? Why couldn’t we just take advantage of Facebook’s vaunted f8 platform???!

Facebook App: Fat Friend Tracker.

Hear me out before you get mad at me. First off, make it a rule to never add a friend who doesn’t have this app installed. The app is simple yet intrusive; disgusting yet funny. It requires users to enter a daily weight and publishes that weight to the users’ social network. If a user fails to enter in a weight on a particular date, it auto-assumes weight gain since you must have been hitting the cheesecake. Finally – if your weight passes a particular threshold (say, BMI of 19; I know, I’m a dirtbag) – your friends have the ability to mock you using an anonymous wall. Example snarky statements such as “Thanks for making the entire country of Somalia starve” will be provided as canned insults.

I think it’s a winner! What do you think?? Leave me a comment and tell me if I’m way off here 🙂

Categories: f8, facebook, fat, kirstie alley, obesity

On PowerSet’s Demo and the SFBeta event

After my last post (where I totally got busted for being a dirtbag cynic), I wanted to post my thoughts on the SFBeta event today.

PowerSet was the main event; companies like Kosmix and others did smaller demos (no PowerPoint, wobbly table, poor wireless; you get the idea).

Scott Prevost, PowerSet’s director of Product took the stage at 7:30pm after a rather lame speech by the event’s main organizer (no offence, but he definitely looked bombed). After this, Scott proceeded to an extremely slick demo site for PowerSet and showed us how PowerSet blows the rocks off Google for the following queries:

  • Who did PeopleSoft acquire? PowerSet gets it right; Google blows it and shows links for the Oracle Corp.
  • Acquisitions in 2001. This is a keyword query, not a question. PowerSet presented a nice list that included snippets with words such as “sold” and “bought” instead of just sentences with the word “acquisition”. Google did not do so hot.
  • Who mocked Tony Blair? PowerSet returns results with the words “mocked”, “caricatured”, “lampooned”, etc. Google half-asses this one.

Fine Print:

  • PowerSet only showed results based on a Wikipedia index. We’re talking about 2 million pages here, so this is effectively small potatoes and nowhere near Internet scale. Getting to Internet scale isn’t trivial by any means, especially since doing heavyweight NLP processing at that scale has got to be a dog. But those guys are smart and probably have a handle on the issue.
  • PowerSet did not take audience questions. This totally stinks, but it may well have been an issue of “event format”. Additionally, there were plenty of drunk people there, so this may have been a good call after all.
  • PowerSet did not accept audience queries. To be fair, though, they *did* set up demo pods for a little product called “PowerQuotes”. I had to cut out and didn’t get a chance to play with it…sigh.

All in all, a good evening. Except for all the pain-in-the-ass drunk Giants fans on the Caltrain.

Going to See PowerSet at SFBeta tonight!

July 24, 2007 7 comments

I’m super excited. After tons of hype, I finally get to see a live demo of PowerSet, the “secretive new search engine that claims to have cracked the natural language search problem”. The event is SFBeta; it’s being held at 111 Minna in the city.

The geek within wishes for a great demo and restoration of a “childlike sense of wonder” (thanks Fake Steve!). But the cynic within wishes for a fall-flat-on-their-face demo. Oh, the sense of schadenfreude!

I’ll update with my thoughts when I get back!

On Bill Maher, Ronald Reagan, Search and My Blog

July 24, 2007 1 comment

I’ve mentioned earlier how I get a fair amount (ahem, relatively speaking) of traffic from plain old web search. This allows for a little bit of insight into “The Database of Intentions”, to quote John Battelle. In other words: people type funny shit and I get to laugh.

I went to see Bill Maher at Flint Center the other day; see complete review of his performance here. During the show, Maher claimed that Republicans had a newly blossomed man-crush on Reagan and that “they want to put him on a stamp so they can lick his ass”.

Unless you are totally uptight, this is pretty funny. But check out this screen shot of what someone searched for to get to my review (“Reagan stamp ass Bill Maher”):


Is it just me or can that search term be interpreted several different ways? Good luck, PowerSet!!!

Kosmix mentioned in VentureBeat article

July 17, 2007 1 comment

This is another one of those brief-mention articles, but it will give you a good sense of a health care space that is most definitely heating up. Matt Marshall makes some interesting points around health search and outlines the main players:

  • Kosmix RightHealth (yours truly’s employer;
  • MedStory (now MSFT)
  • Healia (now Meredith)
  • HealthLine (raised $21mn)

Find the article here.
I disagree with several of their assertions (for instance, his references to Google’s “health search product”, which incidentally doesn’t exist) but I won’t go into detail because of the obvious bias.

Redundant Disclaimer: All these opinions are mine and have nothing to do with my employer.

How You Can Embarrass Yourself at the Gym

July 16, 2007 1 comment

Here are all the ways in which a young male can embarrass themselves at the gym. Yours truly has partaken in each of these activities.

  • Find yourself singing along to a Hilary Duff song, especially as a cute girl walks by.
  • Forget to throw a plate clamp on the bench press and see a large 45 pound plate fall off in the middle of a set. This one comes with sound effects so every meathead in the weight room thinks of you as a major poseur.
  • Find yourself singing along to a Kevin Federline song.
  • Bump into a rather fat guy and find yourself enveloped in his BO for the rest of the workout.
  • Run into a girl who you met at the bar two nights ago who proceeds to completely deny ever having laid eyes on you. Ouch.
  • Fall off the exercise ball while pretending to perform intense bone-crushing crunches.
  • Trying to impress adjacent meatheads with a lot of huffing and puffing, only to find that a kid half your size can pump the same weight. With more reps. And less grunting.
  • Finding yourself dancing to a Shakira song.

This list is by no means comprehensive and will continue to get updated, I’m sure.

Categories: gym, life, workout

Kosmix RightHealth and The Wall Street Journal

July 16, 2007 1 comment

Here is an article comparing several different online health tools that mentions Kosmix’s health property. The article is very detailed and doesn’t give rightful billing (in my biased opinion) to Kosmix and spends an excessive amount of time profiling MedStory – why? Simply because MedStory got scooped by Microsoft? Let’s not forget that MedStory is still a 2000 visitor a month site – compared to Kosmix’s 3mn a month.

Anyhoo – it is a nice article and can be found using this link:

The link is a Google News link because that is the only way to get to Wall Street Journal’s content without a subscription 🙂


Categories: health, kosmix, righthealth, work, wsj

Going to See Bill Maher tonight!

July 13, 2007 2 comments

I am totally stoked. Bill Maher is a great comic, his propensity to continually Bush-bash notwithstanding. He is coming out to Flint Center in Cupertino tonight and I got me some tickets as a birthday gift (thanks)!!

I’ll send out a review after.


Just got back from the show! Bill Maher was awesome, it was totally weird to see him dressed like he was heading into the Hard Rock Cafe (very L.A.). For those of you that watch his show, you know he usually dresses in a pimpin suit.

Here are some of his lines (warning: proceed with caution, these are NC-17):

  • What is with the Republicans’ campy admiration of Reagan? They’re like gay guys with Streisand! These guys want to put him on a stamp so they can lick his ass!
  • I dont do Michael Jackson kid jokes because there was never any indisputable evidence that he bent the kids over and, you know…Catholic shit!
  • I dont think they should build a wall on the border with Mexico. They should build a WalMart! 2100 miles long! Immigrants come through the back, customers come through the front. But there is still only one cash register.
  • Gay marriage was the issue of 2004. Now it’s the immigrants. Brown is the new pink (ewww).

Notes on John Adams’ Biography

July 13, 2007 3 comments

Here are some things that I found interesting while audiobooking John Adams’ biography (written by David McCullough). I’ll keep this list updated as I go along:

  • 20% of the population at the time of independence was the slave population. That’s 500000 people for 2 million people overall in 1776. That is a fascinating statistic in and of itself, even though it has little to do with John Adams.
  • Everybody knows about Thomas Jefferson’s preference for illicit affairs with slave women. Not many know that Jefferson owned 200 slaves at the time he wrote the declaration of independence.
  • John Adams claims to have handed over the responsibility for drafting the declaration of independence to Thomas Jefferson since a Virginian needed to head up a statement of such great import. Virginia was the most populous and prosperous of colonies in 1776. This was before AOL showed up and start hawking CDs for goddamn free dialup.
  • Thomas Jefferson was merely 37 years old when he wrote the Declaration of Independence. That is amazing.
  • The night before the Declaration was passed in the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, 4 out of 13 states were voting against Independence or abstaining. Real slick there, South Carolina! Good to hear that you’ve cleaned up your act since. Well, maybe not.
  • John Adams’ wife Abigail was an amazing woman. At the age of 39, she had never traveled more than 50 miles out of her home town of Braintree, Mass nor received a formal college education. But her letters and her pronouncements belie that because she made extensive use of one of the great technologies of the time – the printed word.
  • The Declaration of Independence was actually passed on July 2nd.  On July 4th, Adams, a prolific diarist even neglected to mention any of his Congressional proceedings. Ditto for Jefferson!
Categories: biography, history, john adams