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Archive for the ‘Link’ Category

tr.im for URL shortening

January 17th, 2009 Comments off

I’ve been using tr.im as my URL shortening service for a few weeks now.  I went ahead and signed up for an account and use their bookmark/shortcut in the Firefox toolbar to shorten URLs and then auto-tweet them to Twitter.  I went to the tr.im web site today to check out statistics on my trimmed URLs and it was interesting to see.  I generally get about 20 click thru’s, and I’d say mostly generated by the cross-post of my twitter feed to Facebook.

trim

Link: tr.im

Categories: Blogs, Link, Technology Tags:

Outlook 2007, Exchange and Hamachi

December 10th, 2008 Comments off

img-hamachimain I’ve been toying around with running an Exchange server at home to make family e-mail a more integrated experience (since I’m used to Exchange at work).  There are obviously a variety of simpler web-based solutions that are available, not the least of which is Google Apps for your domain.  I’m actually experimenting with Google Apps on a sub-domain for more extended family but am not satisfied with IMAP or Gmail’s web interface as my primary interaction method.  Part of this has to do with using Outlook / Exchange for so long at work and getting quite used to the entire paradigm.

I also have my personal domain hosted thru Lunarpages web hosting (on another note, I give them a B-/C+ at best but they are really inexpensive).  I didn’t want to give up having my personal domain hosted at a provider because even if I do run a mail server at home, my Comcast connection doesn’t give me a static IP and more importantly many of Comcast’s IP addresses get put on blacklists due to other spammers.  I actually have my DNS information hosted at dyndns.org and can have a dynamic IP for my MX server but it didn’t seem like it was worth the hassle.  Then there is also the consumer level router I have (D-Link DIR-655) and I’d have way too many ports to open to allow direct access to an Exchange server inside my firewall.

So my desire to try out Exchange at home seemed like it wouldn’t get off the ground.  (Umm, yes, using Exchange is really waaaaaaaaaaaay overkill at home, but lets ignore that for now) :-)  I found out that Microsoft’ Small Business Server 2003 product allows you to actually access remote mail via POP (the POP3 connector).  This seemed like a good route to go, but left the issue of direct access open.

Then I had an idea that I thought was brilliant (though as you usually find out on the internet these days, many others already had the idea):  Setup an exchange server at home and use Hamachi to access remotely (Hamachi is a peer-to-peer VPN system).

After a lot of experimentation here is what I ended up with:

  • Microsoft Small Business Server 2003 running on a relatively old Shuttle SK41G box.  I configured the SBS 2003 server on a domain that follows the following:  servername.externaldomainname.local    The SBS 2003 box uses the POP3 Connector to retrieve mail from my external hosting provider (yes, there is a 15 frequency cap on checking email).  The SBS 2003 server is configured to send outgoing mail via DNS.
  • I have my server name (FQDN) properly setup on dyndns.org using dynamic update for the IP.  That way a reverse DNS lookup on my SBS 2003 server (for outgoing mail purposes) actually resolves properly to handle not being classified as a spam server.
  • Hamachi VPN installed on all the client machines and also on the SBS 2003 server.
  • I also followed the following advice on the SBS 2003 server (though I’m still not sure if this was necessary for my setup):

You need to create a reverse lookup zone for the Hamachi 5.x.x.x network. To do this, start the Reverse Lookup Zone wizard in DNS. The network is 5. , notice I didn’t put anything after 5. , this is important. Since this is a class A subnet, you need to be able to resolve any possible Hamachi address.

http://logmeinwiki.com/wiki/Hamachi:Microsoft_Exchange_Server_connection

  • Outlook 2007 on the client side configured to access the domain name listed above.  I also went into the etc/hosts file and hard coded the server name to the Hamachi 5.x.x.x IP address.  I also actually setup the Outlook 2007 client to not only be setup with Exchange but also checked my direct POP account more often to accommodate for the 15 min POP3 limitation in SBS 2003.
  • And then the final and most important configuration I did was to setup the Outlook Anywhere setting in Outlook 2007.

This last item was fairly critical to get the whole thing working flawlessly from any network (regardless of the host networks restrictions on specific ports).

Outlook Anywhere is within your Exchange Server Mail settings in Outlook 2007.  You go to the Connection tab and under Outlook Anywhere check the “Connect to Microsoft Exchange using HTTP” checkbox.  Click on “Exchange Proxy Settings”.  Here is what I finally settled on:

In the https:// box I put in the just the server name, not the domain name or TLD at the end.  Again just the server name.

Both “Connect using SSL only” and “Only connect to proxy servers that have this principal name in their certificate” were both checked.  The text box underneath has msstd:servername.domainname.actualTLD.  That means I didn’t use .local at the end in this field.

“On fast networks” not checked.  “On slow networks” is checked.

Under Proxy authentication settings, I picked “Basic Authentication” which grays out the “Connect using SSL only” box above.

This was a fairly critical step to allow Outlook 2007 to communicate via HTTPS thru the Hamachi connection to the Exchange / SBS 2003 server.

Please note that you have to install the security certificate that is automatically generated by the SBS 2003 server on your client machine to ensure that everything is recognized.

E-mail me if you want to try something crazy like this and I can tell you more details as needed! 🙂

Links: Hamachi and Exchange, Outlook over Internet, RPC over HTTP

 

 

Categories: Link, PC, Technology Tags:

Design of the Universe

November 24th, 2008 Comments off

I watched a TED video recently by George Smoot entitled “The design of the universe”.  Smoot is an astrophysicist who gave a talk about the overall structure of the expanding universe with special attention paid to the interplay of dark matter and the visible matter that we observe today.  He had a number of interesting visualizations especially one that let you see the distribution of dark matter throughout the universe (simulation of course).  What struck me was the overall amount of dark matter vs. visible matter, and more interestingly the lattice structure of the dark matter.  It was interesting to see that something on a macro scale that is beyond my imagination looks almost identical to a microscopic scale (fractals ahoy!)  The video is about 18 mins long and well worth it.

Link: The design of the universe – George Smoot

Categories: Astronomy, Link, Science, Video Tags:

Follow-up from RRE Post

November 8th, 2008 Comments off

rre logo Eric Wiesen from RRE was kind of enough to provide some add-on thoughts regarding valuation.  He posted them as a comment in the previous post but because of the wordpress theme that I use I don’t feel like comments are easy to find (I’ll get around to fixing that one day).

Thanks for the additional insight and commentary Eric!

Here’s a reprint of what Eric had to say:

Sanjay – just to clarify a bit of my post on “What we want to hear”, I think you have hit the nail on the head when you ask the question – how do we find ideas that are big enough? It’s not that teams or their ideas aren’t good enough. But one of the first lessons any investor learns (hopefully the easy, academic way and not the difficult, practical way) is that success in a small market just, well, doesn’t matter very much. If you are targeting a $50 million market, even if you are hugely successful and take 50% market share, you top out at a $25 million business. That’s a good business, but if you step back and think about it from the investor perspective, it doesn’t justify the level of risk.

In that example, imagine that you actually get to $25 million in year 5 and can sell it for 4X revenues (in a market where there’s virtually no headroom for growth, this is optimistic, but let’s assume it anyway). You’ve got a $100M exit. That’s a nice exit. If I invested in you at $10M post-money valuation, I’m looking at a 10X return, and that’s a great return.

The problem, as I hopefully communicated at Five Years Too Late, is that we cannot simply assume that you will achieve best-case scenario. We have to discount for the very real possibility that you will not. Further, the rosy scenario where I fund this company at $10M and it exits for $100M and I make 10X assumes that they never need to take additional capital, which is a rare outcome. If another round needs to be raised, I am looking at having to put in more money at a higher valuation (but with the same upside) and probably taking dilution from new investors.

Now this is the world in which early-stage investors live in, and that’s fine. We know that it’s going to take a lot to get a new company to a big outcome, and that the process is fraught with risks. We are making bets on very speculative companies by their very nature. Without the belief in a big exit, it just doesn’t make sense. If you prefer the MBA approach, the discount rate required for this type of investing makes those investments with limited upside of questionable value when you consider the time it will take to get there in most cases.

So ultimately, I think you are looking at this the right way, the way I suggest on the blog. Entrepreneurs who want a firm like RRE to invest should try to have a product and market vision that’s large enough to justify the type of valuation that a Series A venture-backed company requires. Alternately, there are other investors who may be interested in companies promising smaller outcomes, but if they are rational they will need to envision lower risk to make the math work. There are examples of investors who invest in high-IP, post-development/pre-market companies where they believe risk has been taken off the table. These investments can have a lower upside and still make sense.

Hope this is helpful

 

Link:  Original comment here, Five Years Too Late – RRE blog

Categories: Business, Link, Venture Capital Tags:

2010 Audi S4

October 29th, 2008 Comments off

audis4 I was excited to see the initial reports that Audi would go back to forced induction on the S4.  Having had a V8 S4 I can attest to the fact that it was heavy and bulky, but boy do I miss the sweet sound of the V8 burbling thru my Milltek exhaust.  It looks like Audi is moving towards a slightly lighter car with the supercharged V6.  But one thing they haven’t changed (according to Car and Driver) is the barely distinguished look between the A4 and the S4.  That’s a strong negative for me, I’d like to see some more major visual differences between the two.  I’m sure the forthcoming RS4 will be a bit more differentiated but Audi is much more reserved than BMW when it comes to visual differentiation with the motorsport cars.

The new S4 is still pretty good looking, can’t wait to see one in person next year.

Link:  Car and Driver

Categories: Audi, Automobiles, Link Tags:

Valuation advice from a VC

October 1st, 2008 Comments off

I’ve been reading a blog by two of the Partners at RRE Ventures.  It’s fairly fascinating and quite honest (in a refreshing way).  They wrote a post today about what kind of valuation you want for your startup in the first round.  Their logic is sound but definitely would make a founding team think they’re giving something up :-)  It’s worth a read and definitely worth keeping in mind in challenging financial times.

Here’s the basic premise:

There are at least two very good reasons why you might not want to go for the highest possible valuation.

1. You are probably going to have to raise money again.

2. The valuation you get today impacts your exit possibilities.

Link:  Five Years Too Late by RRE Ventures

Categories: Link, Venture Capital Tags:

Comcast’s usage cap and my online backups

September 3rd, 2008 Comments off

image I have been reading all the discussion about Comcast and their 250GB data transfer limit (upload and download) and haven’t really thought thru how it’s going to impact me (if at all).

I backup our pictures and videos on my Windows Home Server and also into Amazon’s S3 cloud (via Jungledisk).  Right now it amounts to ~10 GB / month at most.  All of download activity is nowhere near Comcast’s cap so my first impression is that I’ll have no issues.

However, I started thinking that if i had to do a full restore of all of our images/video I’d be downloading upwards of 80+ GB from Amazon in a single month.  I can follow the trend line and see that I’ll hit an upper limit with Comcast in the next few years but hopefully they will increase their limit over time as their network improves.

I don’t actually have a problem with Comcast putting in a cap.  I wish they offered different tiers of service with different caps, like they do with different tiers of speed.  I know their Commercial service for home has no cap but that’s almost double the price for now.

Cnet has a blog with a pretty rational exploration of the entire issue here.

Link:  Cnet: Comcast’s Usage cap: Is the sky really falling?

Categories: Link, Technology Tags:

BunsenTech Dynolicious for iPhone – TechnoRide

July 29th, 2008 Comments off

dyno I read about this one-step-better-than-a-butt-dyno application available for the iPhone.  Definitely interesting, I’m going to buy it and will post a review later.  I was thinking about getting one of those G-Tech’s at one point but decided against because I read a few people that had trouble with the same car that I have.

Link: BunsenTech Dynolicious for iPhone – TechnoRide

Categories: Automobiles, Link, Software Tags:

Earth: The Biography – National Geographic Channel

July 25th, 2008 Comments off

Earth - The Power of the Planet - Programme 3 We’ve been watching Earth The Biography on the National Geographic Channel (in HD) over the last week.  It’s a fascinating series on how the Earth was formed thru today on how the Earth’s systems sustain us (air, water, land).  The series is narrated by Iain Stewart, evidently a well known scientist.  Stewart is an excellent narrator and his enthusiasm is infectious.  I learned a lot from this series and absolutely loved the visual way that they illustrate all of their points.  The photography and cinematography were just beautiful, especially in HD!  A couple of things that I learned that were surprising:

A staggering 40 million tons of dust is transported from the Sahara across the Atlantic to the Amazon rain forest every year by the wind.  (Atmosphere)

and Methane is being released from permafrost in Siberia.  There is so much being released that you can light it on fire even if the gas is nestled in solid ice!  (You have to see it to appreciate it.)

Definitely worth watching!

Links: Earth: The Biography, Iain Stewart

Categories: Geology, Link, Review, Science Tags:

When We Left Earth – Discovery

July 2nd, 2008 2 comments

Astronaut-EVA I’ve been watching the space travel history program on Discovery HD called When We Left Earth.  It was absolutely fascinating to learn about the history of the entire US space program from Mercury to International Space Station.  I was an avid fan of NASA when I was growing up (who wasn’t?) so it was really interesting to revisit my memories and emotions of the Challenger explosion (1986, I was in 8th grade in Texas) as well as the Colombia disintegration (2003, married, Chicago).  I still remember our math (or science?) teacher walking into our class in 1986 telling us that Challenger had exploded and we all couldn’t believe it.  If I remember correctly they let us go home early and the whole walk home my friends and I kept thinking they must’ve survived, they must’ve ejected not knowing that there were no escape/safety systems at the time.  We stayed glued to our televisions the entire night waiting for some news to give us hope.  I found the Colombia incident to be just as shocking but this time found out from Internet news sites after I woke up and had breakfast.  The same types of feeling ensued 🙁

I definitely enjoyed the detailed interviews they did with players during each of the major moments.  Armstrong’s views on the moon landing.  Loved hearing from the real Gene Kranz and have more respect for Ron Howard’s Apollo 13 and how much it felt connected to the real events.

If you get a chance, it’s worth watching!

Links: When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions

Categories: Link, Review, Science, Space Travel Tags: