The Relay - 2005

On tap this weekend, the 2005 edition of The Relay. If you aren't familiar with this race, it consists of 12 member teams, running 199 miles for a non-stop relay. It is similar to Hood to Coast and goes from Napa to Santa Cruz.

We are well organized as this year we have the same team ("Desperately Seeking Santa Cruz") with the same team captains. Unfortunately, I had to drop out last year due to my ITBS issue, but I am raring to go this year.

I'll be running the 5th leg in Van One, with two 5 miles legs (at ~3pm and ~2am) and one breath-stealing 1200 foot climb over a 3 mile distance (at ~12 noon). The forecast shows a chance of rain -- here's hoping for sunny, mild weather!

File Under "Clueless"

File this under "clueless" - from yesterday's WSJ article on podcasting.

"All podcasting is about is making it easy for the [small percentage] of the population that owns an iPod to record to a specific device," says Bob Neil, president and chief executive of Atlantabased Cox Radio Inc., which is not yet podcasting any shows. "People have been recording their favorite radio shows since the age of the cassette."

If were a CXR shareholder, I would be worried. That "small percentage" has AAPL up 150% in the last 12 months while CXR has remained essentially flat.

Yahoo Podcasting - Analysis

First, Apple launched support for Podcasts in iTunes. Next, Podshow received funding from KP and Benchmark (with Ray Lane and John Doerr as board members no less). Starting today, Yahoo now offers support for Podcasts. As an entreprenuer, this launch is huge validation for the Podcasting space overall.

Summary

The initial launch is short on features in a few areas, but my guess is that the shortcomings of the service will be improved over time. No doubt, Odeo has some new competition.

Directory

Directly competing with services like Odeo, Podcast Alley and iTunes itself, Yahoo! Podcasts offers a directory service:

...the free service focuses on making it easier for people to sift through the tens of thousands of podcasts currently available on the Web

The directory search looks like it is including meta data from the RSS Media spec (championed by Yahoo). I can't tell if Yahoo is also working with the iTunes namespace spec, although their RSS example includes it.

Yahoo has also included support for tags and a user rating system. Unlike iTunes, all downloads were pulled from the publisher URL; even very popular shows were not using Akamai.

Subscription service

Yahoo's subscription service functionality is very limited. To actually subscribe to a podcast, they suggest the following:

...you'll need to get some great music software like the Yahoo! Music Engine or Apple iTunes

Publishing platform

Overall, the publishing platform lacks many features

Recording tools

The initial rollout does not offer any tools for recording a podcast. Instead, they suggest using applications like Audacity and GarageBand. Odeo should have an edge here, however, they have not released their publishing tool to general availability.

Publishing/Hosting

The Yahoo site has no support itself for hosting podcasts.

When your podcast is finished, you need to put it online. If you already have access to a web hosting service, just FTP your podcast there. If you don't have space online to put your podcast, you can use one of many free or paid hosting services. Yahoo! provides some great web hosting options through Yahoo! Geocities. Here is a list of additional hosting options you can choose from

This is an area for Yahoo to enhance -- many publishers are hungry for analytics and reliable bandwidth.

Ping server

Yahoo has ping support from the start - something that iTunes still has not done and Odeo added after launch.

Des Moines Marathon/Half Marathon

On Sunday, we ran the Des Moines Half Marathon.

The race started at 7am, with approximately 2600 runners. At the starting gun, the temperature was warm, in the 70's, with about 50% humidity. (Being from the cool, low humidity Bay Area, I consider 50% humidity difficult to run in :-))

We ran through downtown, past the new Wells Fargo Arena (Green Day played the night before the race, which garnered a lot of press in Des Moines) and up the hill (yes Virgina, there are hills in Iowa. Don't let anyone tell you it is flat!) to the state Capitol. After a quick run through town, we went south through the beautiful Water Works Park and then back north to the downtown finish.

Overall, here's how the run rates in my book:

Organization - The race was very well organized - clearly marked and staffed. Grade: A

Course - Southern end of the run through the Water Park was great, parts of downtown were quite scenic also. Grade: B

Aid-stations - Located as billed - each had water and Powerade. Gu available at mile 10. Grade: A

Swag - Short-sleeve shirt, nice Finisher's medal. Grade: B

Miguel de Icaza at PDC

At the PDC this week and none other than Miguel de Icaza walks by. Pretty amazing guy - he is the creator of Ximian, Gnome and Mono. Quite a crowd gathered around him, asking him lots of questions about how the open source model for Mono works, etc. Some folks are skeptical - seems like they haven't dug into the Open Source model yet :-)

Exclusive Pings for Technorati

The Wall Street Journal reports that Technorati is cutting deals that provide some time-based exclusivity on pings. Essentially, Technorati has made agreements whereby they receive pings before any other service. This allows Technorati to have the most up-to-date information relative to its' competitors.

David Sifry, chief executive of Technorati, says his company gets an edge from exclusive deals in which some blog-hosting companies ping Technorati before anyone else.

Business Week mentions it also.

On the Feedmesh list, Bob Wyman posted some thoughts about time-based exclusivity for pings and suffice to say he doesn't like it.

...this means that we’ll see barriers to entry that will remove any hope of new entrants into the space – they won’t be able to afford to buy the pings. Also, we’ll see that whoever is able to buy the most or fastest pings will end up “winning” in the marketplace even if the technical services they provide are inferior. This is not a good thing.

I have no idea how prevalent this practice is with Technorati. One can hardly blame them for trying to get an edge over competing services. However, I am surprised that anyone would agree to such a deal. Technorati's performance has degraded so terribly that the site is now unreliable. One example -- while I was at Barcamp, I noticed my posts would take literally 6 or more hours to show up (yes, I was pinging them and my tags were done correctly). It is more likely that the time-based exclusivity is actually slowing down the distribution of a blog's content, which is not good for any publisher.

The idea of a Feedmesh has always seemed Utopian to me; items like this confirm that theory. I don't see any responses from Technorati, Dave Sifry (or Niall Kennedy) on this yet.

Reggae Run Half Marathon

We ran the Reggae Run Half Marathon in Santa Cruz this past Sunday.

The start and finish lines were at the new Depot Park, near the Boardwalk. Approximately 300 people ran the half. Based on the fact that the race started 25 minutes late, I would bet this was the inagural event. Luckily, the weather cooperated and temperatures remained cool until about Mile 10.

The race course was very scenic - we ran past the Lighthouse and Steamers and then north on West Cliff Drive. The course wound through Natural Bridges, which was short, but beautiful. We then went along a County road, out to Wilder Ranch and back.

Overall, here's how the run rates in my book:

Organization - The race was not put together well (missing Mile markers and a very late start); however, it was clearly marked/staffed. Grade: D

Course - About as scenic as it gets. Grade: A

Aid-stations - Located as billed - each had water and Gatorade. The Gatorade was waaaaaaaaaaayy too strong - it had to be diluted with water. No Gu/gel available. Grade: B

Swag - Great short-sleeve shirt, nice Finisher's medal. Grade: A

Upcoming Halfs

A bit of running craziness has descended on my house. Without realizing it, I've been signed up to run 3 halfs in the next 3 months.