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