plaxo pulse

image I was an early adopter of Plaxo – the contact sync and update tool. I managed to read the “update your address book” messages carefully enough to realize I needed to uncheck-all and avoid spamming my address book. Plaxo’s mistake was making spamming everyone you know the default choice and they got a bad reputation in the marketplace because of it.

Fast forward to a week or so ago and they launch Plaxo Pulse, their take on aggregated social networking services. The implementation is decent. They aggregate twenty-one different services currently and I’ve integrated six of them (Flickr,, this blog, Pownce, Twitter, and so far.  It looks and acts like something I might have built if I wasn’t already working on something great.

The problem is they want you to “friend” people all over again! My God, if you haven’t figured out who my friends are already looking into these services, you aren’t doing something right. And to make it worse, they are back to this nonsense.

You haven’t connected with very many people yet!
Connect with the people in your address book to get started.
Invite your friends
Send invites to the people you know so they they don’t miss out!

I’m going to level with you Plaxo. I’m not going to make you the center of my social universe. You might end up playing a useful part if you are able to successfully aggregate the things I do online, but Facebook is already way, way ahead of you here and I already have Facebook apps for *all* of the services you have synced with. 

Side note: complaining about Facebook bankruptcy is bragging that too many people want to be your friend and you can’t possibly keep up with all the attention, e.g., OMG, too many people want to take me to prom. That’s fine, I’m sure it is a real problem for you (and hope to one day have this problem) but just understand a) how it sounds to everyone else b) that most users are thrilled by the relatively high level of interactivity and newness.


Race report: good, then real bad

imageI didn’t blog about it, but I did a half marathon about five weeks ago in Connecticut, because it was a warm-up, a trial run for the NYC half marathon which was this Sunday.

My time in CT was a 1:33 and I was using 1:30 as a stretch goal for this race. (This works out to 6:52 min/mile pace)

Race morning was like clockwork, Emily and I walked leisurely over to the start in Central Park, we had our gels and fluids just like the last race, the weather was warm and humid to be sure, but much cooler than the forecast had predicted earlier in the week.

I had my new racing shoes on, I was seeded nice and high for the race which meant I was up near the front for the start, the first 7 miles went around the park and I’m feeling great. We run through Times Square and onto the West Side Highway. The buildings near the Battery Park finish looked far away, but I could tell we were reeling them in. I pass by the 12 mile marker at 1:20 (6:40 min/mile) with plenty of time to spare and still reach my goal. Mile 12-13 my form starts breaking down, for some reason I start holding my head very far back and my neck tenses up, but my legs feel fine and I’m cruising into the crowds and the finishing area — I can see it!

Then the wheels fell off. You know those videos of triathletes struggling to get their legs to work at the finish line? That was me. I wasn’t cramping or sore or tired, I just could not get my legs to work anymore. People are all around yelling, trying to will me on and unfortunately this was not a question of will. The next few minutes are hazy, I didn’t lose consciousness, but just by a hair. Apparently a policeman grabbed me and put me in an ambulance that was stationed nearby.

The EMT person put an IV in my arm, which I’m sure was the right thing to do, but as anyone who grew up in the era of station wagons with backwards facing seats will tell you, it is not a great idea to put sick people in a position where they can’t see out and are traveling backwards. I’ll spare you the details of those few minutes, but let’s just say they weren’t going to be using that particular ambulance for a while.

My time in the ER was predictably awful, I managed to stay awake, but I didn’t stop sweating or open my eyes for ninety minutes or so. A few hours and five liters of IV fluids later I was ready to walk out on my own power — I weighed nine pounds more that night than the day before. My main concern was finding Emily and my parents who had come down to watch us finish — we rely so much on everyone having their cell phones on them both to be contacted on and for their numbers stored in them, it is very stressful when you can’t get a hold of the people you love. (I actually had a Road ID on my wrist which has my name, Emily’s cell number, my home number and my sisters home number, but my sister was on vacation and Emily was in the race so she didn’t have her phone on her. I still think these are a great idea for any runner. The ER staff called all the numbers on my wrist as soon as I got to the hospital). Emily ran a great race by the way, she said I could share her finishing medal on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Severe dehydration was the diagnosis. I’m still analyzing the whole situation and what went so wrong with my planning and strategy.


Frontpage skills not required

Hendersons 1975 My family has always been into technology. Specifically though, they are into the technological benefits, not so much the sausage making that goes into it. We all have computers, broadband, DVRs, VOIP, etc, but there’s no talk of SSH or RDP at the reunions.

We’ve talked quite a bit about the need for a family “homepage”, where we could all post pictures and videos – generally sharing stuff. Once I was maintaining my own servers at a datacenter, there’s not much in the way from making that happen, and I considered installing something like DotNetNuke or Community Server or one of the PHP CMS systems out there. But I realized that once I installed it, it was going to immediately be obsolete unless I was willing to spend the energy to stay on top of it installing patches, extensions and updates. I knew I wasn’t going to have time for this with the whole building a startup business thing.

So we are now doing a trial run of using a Facebook group for this purpose. Benefits:

  • No maintenance
  • Photos w/ people tagging support, makes it easy to see all pictures of “Aunt Nancy” regardless of folder structure
  • Video support. Interestingly I asked for this feature just about two weeks before they turned it on? Coincidence? **
  • “Mini feed” makes it easy to see what is new, which is the main thing you do if you were coming a family homepage
  • As Facebook gets better and and apps start to support groups, we get those feature integrated automatically

The photo is from my parents wedding day in 1974 (they each had two kids from previous marriages).

** When I was a kid, I would always order two Taco Bell tacos and wondered, either in my head, to my family or to the staff (not sure which), why don’t they just make a bigger taco. And when the Taco Bell Grande was released I was convinced it was on my recommendation.