Stephan Jenkins/Palo Black and White Ball

I caught a solo set by Stephan Jenkins (3rd Eye Blind) at the Palo Alto Black and White Ball Saturday night.

He played a 30 minute acoustic set, which included the "first song he ever wrote", plenty of 3EB songs, and a song the band is recording for their 4th album.

The crowd didn't quite realize who Stephan Jenkins was until he played "Jumper" from their first album. I was up front talking to Stephan before the gig - when he first started, there were a total of 3 of us cheering him on. The other two people were at least 10 years older than I am and were *way* into the show. By the middle of the show, things got crowded, but no mosh pit came to life.

The event was a benefit for the local school district. Stephan attended Palo Alto schools and had some humorous comments between songs about life as a Palo Alto high school student. Apparently one of his former teachers told him he would end up in jail!

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Palo Alto Moonlight Run 2006

On Friday night, I ran the annual Palo Alto Moonlight Run. This was my first 10k since going down with a femoral stress fracture. Man, did it feel great.

The race started promptly at 8:15pm at the softball fields on Geng Road in Palo Alto - temperature was in the low 60's. I'd guesstimate there were approximately 500 runners in the 10k. The race is run under the full moon with very little additional lighting (trail map).

The course runs along a frontage road (hello 101!) and then onto the Bay. I've run this trail a million times, but very rarely in the dark. It is uneven and has potholes, so participants have to run with care.

Not coming close to a PR (I did take 6 months off after all), I finished at 58:37.

Overall, here's how I'd rate the run:

Organization - Well organized/staffed, clearly marked, even in the dark parts. Grade: A

Course - Scenic during daylight hours with plenty of wildlife. Night runs not quite as good, with the exception of the moon reflecting on the water. Grade: B

Aid-stations - Two aid stations, at Mile 1 and Mile 5. Mile 1 water straight out of a garden hose (blech!). Grade: B-

Swag: Traditional long-sleeve cotton shirt. I usually prefer dri-fit, but I wear this shirt around town like a badge of honor :-)


Looks like I was crushed by an 18 year old, with the winning time of 36:30




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Listening to the Blogosphere

Scoble had a post about his most recent trip to Google today that contained an interesting quote:

A lot more blog listening behavior. Carl Sjogreen, who runs the Google Calendar team, told me that the first thing he does every morning is do this search: “Google Calendar.” He says he answers everyone’s questions, even if you’re a kid in another country with only four readers.

Such a simple thing to do, yet so powerful. Listening to what the bloggers have to say and responding.

It amazes me that this is not standard operating procedure for a product team. Anyone on the team, not just the business guys. Dev, QA, everyone should be watching for conversations about their product and helping to quickly respond. Some of the best feature requests and bug reports come straight from a user's blog. Unfortunately, I don't see a lot of this at the b0rg.

As the DevMgr for two Windows Live products (WL Alerts and WL RSS), I have search feeds in my aggregator (Bloglines) that I check multiple times a day. (We rolled Windows Live Alerts into production this week. There have been a number of posts about the changes, some good, some critical. It has been great to be able to get immediate feedback on what our users think).

If you are interested in doing something similar for your product, a really easy way to get this rolling is to head over to TagJag (the renamed, enter a search query (e.g. "msn alerts") and grab the URL for the OPML output. Next, go to your aggregator and import the OPML. You can now easily monitor the conversations going on regarding your product. (If your aggregator doesn't import OPML, find one that does). Currently, TagJag puts together a bunch of sites in the OPML output including:

Google News
Yahoo News

Some might not apply (e.g. RSS Auctions) - just remove them from your feed list.

Become a better advocate for your product - do this today


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Peak Energy Demand/Market-based Pricing

California has been going through some rough times the past few days. We've hit a major heat wave that is breaking record highs left and right.

Yesterday, the California Independent System Operators (ISOs) actually called a Stage 2 Power Alert. The power grid delivered more electricity at peak (50,270 megawatts)than had ever happened previously. Apparently the amount of power consumed was forecast to occur in 2011, not 2006! (A Stage 3 Power Alert means that there is more demand than there is power. To keep the system up, the ISOs perform "rolling" blackouts, where different areas have a 100% power loss for a period of time.)

I have a simple solution to this problem. I'm sure I am not the first person to think of this, but then I haven't seen a lot of discussion about it either.

Introduce market-based pricing to energy consumption.

If there is low demand for power, the price of power from the grid should drop. If there is high demand, the price should rise. No more pleas from the Governor of California to reduce power consumption. You can bet that people won't be doing their laundry when the price of running the dryer is double. Businesses will curtail consumption.

A no-brainer if there ever was one.

p.s. Sounds like an opportunity for the right entrepreneur

Aha! I'm not the first person to think about this - good :-)

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Podcast Directory Reborn?

When I worked on the jPodder project, we used the Podcast directory as a main source for finding/discovering podcasts. The decentralized model and community aspects of it were great.

I stopped working on jPodder when iTunes came out with podcast support and haven't looked at the podcast directory much since then. I was surprised/dismayed to discover that the directory has fallen into disarray.

Dave Winer has announced that he is resurrecting the site and is going to move it forward.

This is a big win for the podcasting community. Let's learn from this and not let it happen again.

Update Dave Winer pointed me to the podcast-directory mailing list. Join and contribute!

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The Raconteurs in AZ


I caught The Raconteurs last night in Phoenix, AZ. An incredible show in a small club - Jack White blew me away. He and the rest of the band were very energetic (luckily it was only 85 degrees (F) in the club instead of the 111 degrees outside) and obviously enjoying every moment. They played most of their debut album, "Broken Boy Soldiers" and threw in multiple obscure cover tunes as well. Jack White and Brendan Benson did some great harmonizing, call and response and twin guitar leads.

The highlight of the night for me was "Blue Vein", which sounded almost nothing like the studio version. It was very bluesy, reminiscent of Zeppelin's "Since I've Been Loving You" (Jack White even sounded like a young Robert Plant at one point :-))

We left the club, ears ringing, happy we caught these guys before they play in much larger venues.