Weezer: All Your YouTube Stars are Belong to Us

Seems like the new rule is: Become a YouTube star, get asked to make lots and lots of guest appearances wearing the same T-shirt you got famous in. Or, in the case of Miss Teen South Carolina, the same ball gown.

Weezer today released a music video for the band’s new hit single “Pork and Beans,” featuring YouTube celebrities singing along with the lyrics while mimicking the videos that made them famous. Guests include Chris Crocker, Tay Zonday, the daft bodies girls (and daft hands too), Miss Teen South Carolina (that was kind of a surprise), Kelly and her “Shoes!”, Afro Ninja, the peanut butter jelly time banana, Charlie the unicorn, the dramatic chipmunk and, uh, Kevin Federline.

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RescueTime Offers Improvements to its Ridiculously Easy Time Management

img rescue logoRescueTime, the ridiculously easy time management and analysis application, recently added some great features to its already impressive Web-based service to make it just that much more useful and indispensable in my work routine. The addition of autotagging, group tracking, and improved privacy are the highlights in their most recent release.

We’ve covered RescueTime briefly in the past but for the uninitiated, unlike a typical time-sheet application RescueTime requires no data entry. A small desktop application runs in the background and sends updates to your online profile. By tracking which application you have “in focus,” it knows what you are working on. Using the web application, you then tag and categorize these entries to see how you are spending your time.

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Risk Everything

My story evolved over the course of eight years, but can be summarized in very few words. I founded a software company with technology I developed at NASA. I licensed the software, raised two rounds of venture capital, and ran the company for seven years. Then, as a result of increasing differences with my investors, it became clear that I needed to leave. End of story.
That was two years ago. I am often teased by the prospect of returning to business. But since then I have been dedicating time to things I never made time for before. I have invested in my personal relationships. I learned Spanish. I bought a half interest in a 50’ sailboat, and I am learning to sail.
*I have another story to tell,* one that is chronologically short. It transpired in less than an hour but it requires more words. It isn’t a story about me, but it left a mark on me. *We were sailing the boat to Belize* from Fort Lauderdale, in my first blue water trip.
With a *two person crew,* we had to take two-hour night watches. That meant two hours of sleep in between. REM was out of the question. At night, alone on deck, I developed an urge to whirl around and see who was behind me. Of course there was never any one there, we were hundreds of miles out to sea. I had heard that people get weird after days spent out of sight of land, and I was getting paranoid as a result of sleep deprivation.
Two days from Key West, just after dawn, *I saw a rock out in the distance off the starboard bow.* Had I added hallucinations to paranoia? We were in deep water; no islands or rocks charted anywhere. I peered through the binoculars. The rock looked like small boat. I hurried below to wake up my sailing partner, Dave, who has crossed many oceans and would know what to do. By the time we made it back the cockpit, there was not doubt: This was a small boat, with people inside, waving a red flag.
The prevailing wisdom for this seafaring situation is *“Don’t Stop.”* The possibility of armed pirates makes it unsafe, particularly for a small crew. But Dave and I hardly ever follow conventional wisdom. So we changed course to allow them to approach us.
When we were within 10 or 15 yards of the little boat, we saw that *there were actually 10 men on board, packed in like sardines.* Some lay in the bottom of their craft, the rest were standing. They were disheveled, dirty, a wild-looking bunch, and appeared in age from 20 to 40. They screamed hoarsely above the noise of their engine, which seemed to have been converted from a piece of farming equipment and was missing any semblance of an exhaust system.
*“Water! Agua! Water! Agua! Agua….”* There was a hysteria in those shouts of mixed Spanish and English that made me strangely uncomfortable. Something didn’t feel right about it, we both noticed. We prepared the can of mace, just in case. Dave tossed them a line, and indicated that they were to take it but hold their distance without coming closer than ten feet.
The conversation was limited, but we learned that *they were six days out of Havana.* They’d had no water in 24 hours. Five other vessels had passed them without stopping since they drank their last drops. That inexplicable ‘something’ in their shouts that didn’t ‘feel right’ was the sound of terror – the terror of those who believe they might die. Dave filled their five-gallon water jugs, urging them to drink at least one jug on the spot. We needed my Spanish to convince them that this was ok, that we would refill it. *They were in the mindset of conservation–or preservation.* They believed our water supply was limited.
*I asked if they needed food, they declined.* But we didn’t see any food in their boat, so I rushed below for provisions that, orginially packed for two, might be suitable to share between ten. I sorted through packages of gourmet cheese, piles of fresh vegetables (what were they going to do with a bag of arugula, an artichoke, or asparagus), bags of chips and roasted tomatillo salsa, microwave popcorn… I settled on fruit – to feed ten, I needed all of it. I poured a dozen apples and some oranges into one of those plastic grocery store bags, and added a box of saltines, and some chocolate. When we handed it over, they took it gratefully, with looks of wonder. They declined fuel, pointing proudly at their reserves. One made a gesture of lighting a cigarette. He still had some smokes, but no lighter. We found him one.
The only other thing they needed was to confirm their course. They were headed for Cancun. “Why Cancun?”, I asked. The response was simply, “Los Estados Unidos no son buenos para nosotros…” The U.S. Congress was debating legislation to build a wall across the Mexican border at the time, so they weren’t going to American shores. The GPS told us we were 60 miles due east of Cancun. Our Cuban friends had no GPS. They had no nautical chart. They had only a simple hiking compass, but they were more or less on course.
With water in their bellies and food in their boat, the men were beginning to sound friendly rather than frantic. A few kept asking about direction. *I began to discern that it was the youngest among them who was in charge.* He had a quiet confidence: He only needed to confirm his course _once._ The rest were less certain, maybe less familiar with the sea and the currents. Maybe a little less confident in their captain than when they had first set out. But with 60 miles to go, at four knots they would arrive in Cancun a few hours after dark. The luminescence of the city lights over the water would guide them after sunset.
When they set off again, releasing our line with smiles, renewed hope in their eyes, and calls of “Vayan con Dios”, my eyes filled with tears. (They sometimes still do when I think about it.) I wonder what has happened to them. I hope they made it.
*I think of myself as a risk-taker. An inventor. A dreamer even:* I sail open water; I scuba dive with sharks; I founded a company; I am an entrepreneur. But I re-learned a few things about risk-taking and dream-seeking from those men, in that hour, on the open ocean. I think these are things valuable to all risk-takers or dreamers — to all founders.
*Boldness* is risking everything, meaning that which you _cannot affford to lose_, to pursue a dream.
*Inventiveness* is finding the will to be creative when necessity demands it– not when it comes to you.
*Motivation* is finding the spirit to hang together when resources are depleted and plans run awry.
*Honor* is maintaining a sense of fair play and not asking for more than you need–even when it would be excusable.
*Leadership* Real leadership is demonstrated when one at the ‘helm’ finds the confidence not to waver, even when the confidence of the team has wavered.
*Luck* On a day when it really counted, they had some of it. But it dawns on me that luck is just the product of all these other qualities. (Think about this the next time you feel ‘lucky,’ or dismiss someone else’s success as ‘lucky.’)
When I share this story with other sailors, they are universally aghast that we helped these refugees. But I’m proud that we took a risk to alter a situation that might have meant life or death to someone else. I didn’t know I was capable of that before. And I’ve never stopped thinking about the qualities of these men: the intense drive to achieve something better and to risk everything to do so. *I can’t help wondering if my own business venture might have turned out differently* if I had been able to instill in my team more of a make-it-together-
or-die-trying attitude…or maybe if we had had just one more lucky day.

Semel out, Yang in at Yahoo

So it finally happened: angry shareholders seem to have got their way, and Terry Semel, CEO of the flailing web giant, Yahoo has resigned from his post and will now become a non executive chairman. Jerry Yang, cofounder will become the CEO and Sue Decker will be the President.

Yang and Decker to Focus on Realizing Yahoo!’s Strategic Vision by Accelerating Execution, Further Strengthening Leadership and Fostering a Culture of Winning

A culture of winning…. so is that a tactical admission that defeatist attitude had taken over the company, which has become the farm system for rest of the Valley. Is this big shake up enough to save Yahoo, which has seen some of its best talent leave the company to try their luck at some other start-ups.

More thoughts to follow… meanwhile have your say.

Semel discount was $4 billion.

Windows CE Tablet as a book reader: lessons learned

Dt375I’ve been following David Rothman’s "self-made" eBook reader for the past few weeks and thought now would be a good time to share his efforts. He has a number of posts regarding a Windows CE touchscreen tablet, the DT375, he bought used for $155; using the Win CE device with an 8.4-inch touchscreen and various eBook reader software, he’s made steady progress towards a very usable device.

Today, David provides a good summary on where prior Windows CE-based reading devices went wrong, and more importantly, he puts a call out Microsoft and the eReader folks on the need for industry standards. I completely agree with him on the standards concept: just like my digital audio purchases, I have eBook content in virtually every format for every platform simply because the content I want is spread among so many formats. DRM is part of the equation too and I begrudgingly accept that, but the format variances are holding back growth in the eBook industry.

Avis allows web surfing and driving, let the accidents begin

Avis_logoFor some reason, I thought Avis was already offering 3G data connectivity as an option in rentals, but I must have read that they were in the planning stages. Apparently, they’re ready for the implementation stage since BetaNews is reporting that Avis Connect is going live. For $10.95 a day in a very limited market, the car rental company offers mobile EV-DO access with a fallback to 1xRTT speeds for areas without EV-DO coverage. The first four locations offering the service are the airports in San Jose, Oakland, Los Angeles and Newark. If you like the mobile access, you can always consider the same Autonet Mobile rig direct for $399 with a $50 monthly data plan; Autonet Mobile has plans to market the gear for those of us that just can’t unplug. According to the early press release in January of this year, the 3G device can be removed from the car and brought to your hotel room as well, making it an attractive alternative to in-room Internet services.

jkOTR Public Service announcement: under no circumstances do we recommend or endorse web surfing while driving even if you did buy the extra insurance from Avis.

WayPort goes WayAbroad

Wayport, a US-based Wi-Fi aggregator/service provider with over 9000 US locations has acquired NetPoint A/S, a high-speed Internet access for the hospitality industry in Europe and the Middle East. Yesterday Boingo announced that it was partnering with Ireland’s BitBuzz. Maybe there will be global WiFi roaming after all…. some day

How Much Did Google Outage Cost?

After we reported the Google problems yesterday, David Krane of Google, pointed out that the outage was for about 15 minutes or so. Given that the company had sales of $1.256 billion in the previous quarter, or about $581,481 an hour, apparently the company lost about $145,370 as a result of the outage. Some folks reported that Google and its service were unavailable to them for a longer stretch of time, it is still hard to estimate how much this cost the company.