Archive for the ‘General’ Category


October 29th, 2008 Comments off

Phillies win World Series 004

Originally uploaded by Rich Brome

I wish i was in Philly for this 🙂

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Resuscitating my blog

October 8th, 2008 Comments off

I had a pretty fatal error with my blog this week.  I managed to delete my entire directory at my hosting provider but thankfully saved all of the content in the WordPress MySQL instance.  I’ve lost all of my formatting, plugins and pictures but should be able to recover.  Things are going to look a little unfinished around here for a while 🙁

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Comcast service, let’s try again

June 19th, 2008 Comments off

I’ll give kudos to Comcast for monitoring the internet for customer complaints.  I got a call just a few minutes ago from Frank Eliason from Comcast wanting to chat with me about what just happened.  I appreciate Frank reaching out so quickly and offering an immediate apology for the text chat gone awry.  He said he was going to ask someone local to follow up with me right away and also said the chat would be analyzed for coaching.

Being someone that deals with emerging technologies and business every day, I’m happy with Comcast’s response so far.  The only time Comcast actually has a touch point with me is during customer service calls like the one today and Frank understood that and went out of his way to make sure I felt heard.

We’ll see what happens with my bill (the core issue) but at least my initial irritation and frustration has melted away.

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Terrible Customer Service from Comcast (no surprise)

June 19th, 2008 Comments off

I have been annoyed with how much my cable TV / internet bill has been increasing (with no change in service) from Comcast and pinged them via text chat today to see what they could do for me.  I’ve been getting a lot of DirecTV offers and am fairly ready to switch and after today’s conversation will do so over the summer (NFL sunday ticket!) most likely.

After being a Comcast customer for nearly 15 years I can’t believe this experience.  The customer support agent was basically telling me that he thinks I’m paying something different than what is actually on my bill!  Bizarre.  (some parts edited for privacy reasons).  Enjoy!

Sanjay > my comcast bill keeps increasing, am considering leaving comcast as I’m getting great deal offers from DirecTV
Daniel > Hello Sanjay_, Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is Daniel. Please give me one moment to review your information.
Sanjay_ > sure
Daniel > I will be happy to assist you with your billing.
Daniel > Am I chatting with Sanjay?
Sanjay_ > my bill seems to magically increase every month
Sanjay_ > when I moved to this new address in December 2007 my bills were about $120 total
Sanjay_ > and how we’re up to $145
Sanjay_ > yes this is Sanjay Mathur
Daniel > Hello Sanjay. I do apologize for this issue. I will need to access your account. For your protection, I will need you to provide your full 16-digit Comcast account number.
Sanjay_ > <edited>
Daniel > Thank you.
Sanjay_ > are you still there?
Daniel > Yes. I do not show your bill has increased since you added the 16 blast speed tier.
Sanjay_ > my cable bill has gone from $70 to $85 or a little less
Sanjay_ > and I have not added any new channels or capabilities
Sanjay_ > HD has gotten more expensive
Sanjay_ > the digital tier has increased in price
Sanjay_ > again
Sanjay_ > I’m getting weekly offers from DirecTV that are far cheaper even considering their promotions that expire
Sanjay_ > I was in an apt before where I couldn’t get DirecTV but now I’m at a house where I can
Sanjay_ > I wanted to see what you guys are willing to do vis-a-vis my monthly cost, otherwise I’m going to have to strongly consider leaving
Daniel > I show your cable tv services ar:  70.94 montly.
Sanjay_ > amazing
Sanjay_ > I’m looking at my 5/24/08 bill
Sanjay_ > cable tv 82.93
Sanjay_ > internet 55.95
Sanjay_ > taxes 5.58
Sanjay_ > total due on june 15th which I just paid 144.46
Sanjay_ > not sure what you’re looking at!!
Sanjay_ > digital class $14.95, standard cable 55.99 sports 4.99 hd 7
Sanjay_ > adds up to 82.93
Sanjay_ > again not sure what you’re looking at
Daniel > I have you May billing ledger up. I show you were charged:  70.94  for cable tv services.
Sanjay_ > seriously what the heck are you talking about
Sanjay_ > I have a $144.46 charge on my credit card1
Sanjay_ > and the bill I just downloaded from your web site
Sanjay_ > has the numbers I just gave you
Sanjay_ > are you sure you’re looking at my account?
Sanjay_ > address is <snip>
Daniel > Sanjay the 70.94 is what you were charge for Cable TV programming nothing else.
Daniel > I have the correct account up
Daniel > I did not include internet charges.
Sanjay_ > this is a comical conversation and I’ll be posting this on my blog
Sanjay_ > I understand internet is not there
Sanjay_ > here is what I am looking at on my bill
Sanjay_ > CABLE TV 82.93
Sanjay_ > Digital Classic Package 14.95
Sanjay_ > Standard Cable 55.99
Sanjay_ > Sports 4.99
Sanjay_ > HD TV 7
Sanjay_ > total is 82.93
Sanjay_ > And I definitely paid 144.46 total (82.93 for TV 55.95 for Internet)
Sanjay_ > on the last bill
Sanjay_ > which is what was charged to my credit card
Sanjay_ > so trust me, I’m not sure what you’re looking at
Sanjay_ > but there is a discrepancy
Daniel > That is what I show also.
Sanjay_ > so then why do you keep saying $70? 🙂
Daniel > There is no dispute with your current statement.
Daniel > I quoted you cable TV programming onluy
Sanjay_ > this is a very strange conversation
Daniel > and no tax
Sanjay_ > I pay comcast 82.93 for cable TV
Sanjay_ > without tax
Sanjay_ > I can pay DirecTv about $60 for the same level of service
Sanjay_ > same channels, same HD
Sanjay_ > and their DVR obviously instead of yours
Sanjay_ > you’ve already wasted my time enough here, what is the best way to actually get some customer service?  I’ve been a comcast customer for the better part of 15 years (chicago and now the bay area) and this is terrible
Sanjay_ > I can see that it’s not imprtant to try to keep me
Sanjay_ > I am going to call in and reference this terrible conversation

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Churchill Club – 10th Annual Top Ten Tech Trends

May 14th, 2008 Comments off

I attended my third Churchill Club tech trends debate this evening.  Overall I have to say the quality of ideas and quality of debate were significantly less impressive than previous years.  I also felt that a lot of what they were saying were rehashes of previous years comments, though that is not surprising because the assumed pace of change doesn’t always meet expectations.

The panel was a little different this year, subtract John Doerr and add Vinod Khosla and Josh Kopelman (not bad for a freshman effort).

As always, I’ll summarize what I heard with some of my own comments.

    1. Demographics are destiny, creating opportunity (Steve Jurvetson).  Jurvetson believes that the Baby Boomer market is huge and that the electronic marketplace serving this segment will exceed the market for physical goods.  He said that the boomers are 3x as active on the internet, most have college degrees and they make up 1/2 of the US workforce (75M).  “The US will look like Florida” in short order 🙂  Granular outsourcing enabled by new technologies, with boomers as the workforce.  When you’re over 35, your rate of cognitive decline is the same as when you are 80 years old.  (Wasn’t that impressed with this point.  Jurvetson made a similar point last year and highlighted the same company, Posit Science, regarding how to exercise your brain.  I believe him that we’ll say we can’t believe we didn’t do mental exercise in today’s era, 5-10 years in the future, but I’m not convinced that the Boomer market is that easy to capitalize.  Vinod Khosla also expressed skepticism.)
    2. Device that used to be a phone (Vinod Khosla).  Khosla talked about how the phone becomes the PC and you will do e-mail, have a projection screen, high speed data, credit card functionality, ePassports, etc.  (This sounds like the obvious.  Similar to the Labs vision around service platforms but not as well developed.)  Roger Mcnamee did say “we’re becoming a third world country because our business are busy harvesting instead of investing”.  It’s a compelling tagline but not sure if he substantiated it.
    3. Rise of implicit internet (Josh Kopelman). Kopleman posited that the web right now is about explicit user interactions and that there will be a big shift to mining implicit data.  (couldn’t agree more, content bank baby!)  He had a good analogy of how your grade school teachers would tell you that something would end up on your “permanent record” except no such thing existed in the pre-internet days.  Now, you really do have a permanent record because you don’t really control all the different companies and places that have information about you.  Kopelman felt that the opportunity is around how to traverse the silos of data and then create services of value.  (I think he’s absolutely right and this is a key area to invest in)  Khosla followed on with a good quote “that data reduction is one of the key needs going forward”.
    4. Mobile device industry migration from feature phone to smartphone with produce . . . (Roger Mcnamee).  Mcnamee talked about the disruption caused by smartphones and how this is like the PC going from command line to GUI.  He seemed to forget windows mobile in his categorization of the marketplace initially but felt that Motorola is definitely getting pushed out and other players will face the same fate (like IBM with the PC).  Mcnamee said he didn’t think you could create a great consumer experience with an unbundled OS, a la microsoft and windows mobile.  (I tend to agree.  WinMo is not half as friendly to use as the iPhone interface, though I still with WinMo right now because the rich set of third party applications and corporate Exchange support.  Companies like HTC try so hard to put a nice veneer on top of Windows Mobile and it’s just that, a veneer.)  Khosla recommended reading a book called The Black Swan to underline a point that he felt Mcnamee’s projection was too conservative.
    5. Water will replace global warming as a global priority (Joe Schoendorf).  Joe made a very eloquent point around the lack of access to useable water and the fact that we’re running out.  He said that he feels that lack of water will kill millions more in our own lifetimes than global warming.  He felt that this century might be defined by “water wars” and used the Darfur conflict as an example.  He stated that Darfur started as a tribal conflict over water between farmers and herders because of a drought.  Never heard this before, but it’s quite interesting.  He also gave an example of getting mothers with HIV in Africa not to breastfeed (to avoid transmission of HIV), however infant mortality went up because the dirty water used with formula was so bad.  He also cited a California example saying there was a drought in 1987 that lasted for 6 years, but there was a drought in the 12th century that lasted for 60 years.  What would that do the california economy?  Schoendorf said that 70% of the world’s water is used for agriculture, and it’s close to 90% rate in the developing world.  Desalinization is more important than anything else.  Khosla agreed but disagreed and said that global warming is still the top issue.  Khosla said that the himalayan glaciers melting is much more critical because that water supply feeds India.  He also said that China is building a canal from the Himalayan range to Beijing (which evidently will use 1% of the world’s concrete output?!) but it’s pointless because the water may not be there in 25 years.  (There was virtually no disagreement on this one, other than the is it more important than global warming.  Schoendorf very effectively made his point that water is not being addressed, and there are some venture investments but not enough.  Also Jurvetson said there are not enough inventors or entrepreneurs in this area)
    6. Evolution trumps design (Steve Jurvetson).  Jurvetson made this same point last year so check out my post from last year’s debate.  He’s a strong proponent of evolution algorithms, of complex systems and gives many examples of actual use.  He said one company in his portfolio (Genomatica?) created 4x improvements in microbial design using humans as the innovators, and 20x improvements using evolutionary algorithmic techniques.  Khosla disagreed only to the extend that he felt evolutionary design was just one tool or technique and there are many others that are just as important such as synthetic biology, combinatorial science and mimicing nature.  He talked about how the vortex is the most efficient way to drain fluid, but that principle has not been applied in fluid systems per se (not sure I believe him on this one).  (Interesting points from Jurvetson but I’m not sure I believe that it will impact in the next 12-24 months)
    7. Fossilizing fossil energy (Vinod Khosla).  Khosla said he believes that non-crop biofuels are just around the corner and they will be made with higher efficiency than gasoline.  He cited an example of not using the past to project the future:  McKinsey evidently did a study for AT&T in 1980 saying that the US market for cell phones in the year 2000 would be 1 million phones.  IN reality it was 109M phones.  McKinsey couldn’t predict the massive changes in phone tech that would take it from a suitcase installed in a car, to a device the size of a deck of cards in your pocket.  LIkewise, Khosla believes there are a lot of innovations coming in fuel generation.  Khosla is quite famous for being the lead green tech / clean tech venture investor in the Silicon Valley.    He also said he had more detail on his web site which I
      will have to analyze.  Schoendorf asked if the water impact would go down.  It takes 1 gal of H20 to make 1gal of gas.  It takes 8 gallons of H20 to make 1 gallon of corn-based biofuel.  Khosla made a claim that it will take less than half a gallon for new non-crop biofuels in the very near future, and little land as well.  (This all sounded too good to be true.  I certainly hope that Khosla is right because this would be a sea change in our energy consumption.  See my previous blog post about energy and solar).
    8. Venture Capital 2.0 (Josh Kopelman).  Kopelman tried to say that venture firms were going to go through a big shakeout, but he was roundly disavowed.  The best point made by Mcnamee was that Venture is now considered an asset class by big investors (I’ve heard this from others as well) and that some percentage of portfolio allocation will go into VC funds.  The question may be that SW/IT funding goes down and that clean tech / green tech goes up, but no one forsaw a big sudden downward spiral.  Schoendorf also emphatically said that this was the most innovative he’s every seen, and believes there are more opportunities than ever.  He said that he met with the leader of the Chinese sovreign fund and that that individual had $200B to invest.  (A wholly ridiculous and large amount!)
    9. Within 5 years everything that matters to you will be on a device (Roger Mcnamee).  Nothing new to say here, yes, big shift to more mobile devices, that # of transactions will largely be driven by smaller devices potentially those worn on your hip 🙂
    10. 80% of world population will have a mobile internet device (Joe Schoendorf). Again no disagreement that mobile devices will penetrate like crazy, just a question of what percentage.

Links:  Churchill Club, Amazon – The Black Swan

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Verizon Fails at Math

December 13th, 2006 Comments off

 I saw this link through the Good Morning Silicon Valley blog.  Amazing, if you want to hear what’s wrong with our educational system, listen to these geniuses at Verizon who don’t know the difference between dollars and cents!

Link:  Verizon Fails at Math (long)

Categories: Business, General, Link Tags:

Are You a Lord of the Rings Fan? Boycott New Line Cinema! Sign the Petition

November 23rd, 2006 Comments off

I read an article on the BBC that said that New Line is close to picking another director for The Hobbit instead of Peter Jackson due to some unresolved royalty disputes.  I agree with the guys over at that it should be Jackson or no one as Jackson did a terrific job with the Lord of the Rings series.  If you want to sign the online petition, follow the link below!

Link:  Are You a Lord of the Rings Fan? Boycott New Line Cinema! Sign the Petition

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Mark on Media

September 15th, 2006 Comments off

A good friend of mine, Mark Jacobson, recently started blogging. As he puts it:

Welcome to mark on media – a discussion of my thoughts on the world of everything media. I’ve worked in digital advertising in one way, shape or form for the past several years, building dynamic ad engines to power Web, email and call center advertising, designing architectures to enable personalized television advertising, inventing TopLayer ad products to help Web site publishers monetize content, and creating online advertising and targeting strategies at a couple of big Internet companies. So a lot of what you’ll see here will be related to online advertising.

Welcome to the web Mark! If you’re interested in checking out his blog, follow this link: Mark on Media.

Categories: Business, General, Link, Technology Tags:

Test posting from Windows Live Writer

August 14th, 2006 Comments off

One of my frustrations with posting from inside WordPress is the inability to position pictures the way I want.  I’m testing out this beta of Windows Live Writer (Microsoft’s new blog writing tool) to see if I can get the control I want.  Basically, I’d have to become a CSS expert to get the kind of control I’d like over positioning and such, and I’m slowly learning but let’s see what I can do with a tool for dummies 🙂

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Visual representation

August 3rd, 2006 Comments off

I saw a great post via 9rules about infographics, check this post out, it’s a visual depiction of the world’s feelings about the current middle east conflict:

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