Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Analytics and Format



I've repeatedly seen various reports on how to measure website readership and how to properly calculate ad sales. While I do have that adwords spot on the side, I definitely have yet to (and don't intend to) turn a buck from my ramblings. Nonetheless, I'm intrigued by if impressions or time spent are a better measure of exposure. Anyway, in the next few weeks I'm going to see if there's anything not overly technical out there that will allow me to better see if anyone actually reads this.

Yes - I've tried feedburner, but because I aggregate my Tumblr, Flickr, del.icio.us, Twitter and normal ramblings into one stream this doesn't seem to work right. Also, Google analytics doesn't capture feed subscribers, so that's not a good fit either. Any other thoughts?

Jumping back to that previous statement, I like the various ways I can now share thoughts and the things I see. Whether snapping a picture with a camera phone and sending it to Flickr, or rambling in a longer drawn out fashion, the various web 2.0 apps allow me to be an author wherever I may be. I think the RSS stream shows everything well, but I'm not sure if the normal blogger layout captures everything adequately - how have other people integrated these various sources into their sites?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Leopard / Mac / IBM AT

Our first computer was an IBM AT, if I recall it was a 286 processor. The case was roughly the size of the table on which it sat. You would flick the mechanical power switch, and then go get a drink because it took about 5 min to boot into DOS. When you wanted to install a new program, or attempt to do anything other than the simplest of function, it usually didn't work. This would then result in a trip to the local computer shop with the entire rig, they would act superior due to their specialized knowledge, and then would poke and prod and ultimately it would get fixed.

Since then I've gone through 5 other Windows machines (no none were Vista, so don't bother going there) and am now on my first Mac. Each Windows machine improved incrementally over the previous iteration. My last one - the desktop I bought for college ~5 years ago has since been re-formatted and upgraded ever so slightly and is now serving my father - never once required a call to the manufacturer or a helpless afternoon in a PC repair shop.

Enter my MacBook: I was sick of Windows because I stare at it all day at work, and was told that Macs were better/more user friendly. I wanted the sleek minimalist small design, which was everything my Windows machines weren't. Therefore I spent more money on a MacBook than I would have on a similarly speced PC, and took the plunge. Since then Apple pushed an update onto the machine that fried the battery (one trip to the apple store and time spent standing in line only to be sneered at and asked why I didn't get the patch in time - de ja vu?). Then, the case started turning brown and the plastic started cracking (another trip to the apple store with more standing in line and being treated dismissively by their "Genius" - all over again?). I am, however, willing to overlook these issues as ultimately they were resolved quickly and required limited effort from me. Apple simply took care of it.

Now, for the last few months Leopard has been hyped as "the best new thing". My experience was as follows:

Saturday: I went to the Apple store and plopped down my $200 for the family pack upgrade. Upon getting home and inserting the disc, my MacBook churned for a few minutes and spit the disc back out. odd. Tried again - same thing. Clearly, something was wrong. I dove into the support pages and was told to ensure I had all the updates installed - checked, installed, restarted, disc spit out. At this point I'm entering hour 3, and the MacBook still has yet to even register the CD. Dig some more in the support pages. Find instructions saying to insert the disc, and before the computer can spit it out, restart and then hold "C" during startup. Tried this - disc is still spit out as the machine boots.

Apple store time. Online, I find out that no appointment is available in NY until Sunday night. So I resort to a CT location which can squeeze me in Sunday afternoon.

Sunday. Day 2. Go to the store (again) to be curtly handed a new disc and being told "we see this all the time, this should work". I ask if I should test it in the store, and am told to just go home (mind you this took less than 2 minutes, why couldn't a NY store have done this yesterday?). Alright, fine by me. I get home, insert the disc, and after 2 days, it loads! the guy was right - snooty - but at least right! - I click install, it prompts me to restart, I hit ok, the computer cycles through startup and just when it looks like it's going to work... the disc gets spit out again.

From my Day 1 research I recall that holding "C" will boot from disc during startup. Why not try - sure enough it did the trick, I'm in the installer and after 3 hours of "disc verification" and installation, I now have a running copy of Leopard installed.

To get here, I've needed to go to the store (twice) and hone my own computer knowledge, something I thought a Mac was supposed to let me not worry about anymore.

Why does this experience remind me of the repeated trips to the pc repair shop that our AT required? Have we gone back in time? Is the PC industry regressing? I don't know the answer to these questions, but I can attest to a few things:

1) Leopard didn't add that much to my computer experience. This is based on a few hours of use, and maybe my opinion will change - but for now I'm wondering where are my $200? - strike one.

2) Apple's brand is based on being user-friendly. They've built this image well and carefully, but now there's a disconnect developing between that fiction and the reality of their product. This does not bode well.

3) While Mac has closely maintained control over components and possible upgrades, claiming this stricter environment allows for a better user experience, Windows machines are more open and somehow achieve greater transparency in functionality. (strike three)

One last thought: Leopard doesn't add spots to my Mac...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

non-tech startup

Tom recently sent my this article on the best entrepreneurs under 25. On the eve of not qualifying for this age group, I've had a few thoughts:

1) Wow - quarter life crisis.
2) I'm impressed there are a few non-tech ventures on the list.

It maybe that I've been focused on the tech scene lately, or that there is no real community tied to other sorts of start-ups the same way there is with tech, but I was caught a bit off guard by it. It seems a lot of people spend a lot of time trying to come up with new technologies or more interesting combinations of old technologies, but I rarely hear about great new inventions - why is that?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

Today is Blog Action Day - a day where thousands of bloggers write about the environment, and hopefully this internet shout gets a few people to become aware of the world around them.

The environment is something I've been interested in since I was in grade school (in second grade I was named "class environmentalist") so rather than try and come up with something new, here are a few links:

Tree Hugger
My del.icio.us links

and lastly for everyone who complains doing something for the environment is too hard:
50 simple things you can do



Sunday, October 14, 2007

Internet Sharing

I moved into a co-op several months ago. It was freshly renovated by a developer, who walked away with a bundle and left us with limited reserve fund and a good sized monthly maintenance fee. As my neighbors and I have settled in, we've been constantly trying to figure out ways to save money while not sacrificing on services (ie getting rid of the doorman isn't on the list of possibilities - yet)

I've been thinking about various ways to try and save money and find myself intrigued by one in particular: shared internet.

Right now there are 42 units in my building. A few of them have very old tenants in them, who I doubt use internet, so I'm going to guess 30 units probably have a connection currently. I presume this costs ~$35/months (frankly I have no real idea, because Time Warner's website/statement provides no insight into the breakdown of charges between internet and tv) so I'm estimating the building spends ~$1,050/month on internet.

I have had little success in finding a internet provider in this area that is alright with multiple users. What I have found is a number of fairly confusing, very technical websites that seem to be implying the service I'm looking for (anyone have any insight into how much bandwidth 30 users would need? or where to find the right provider?) But from what I can discern this is availible for c.$200/months.

Once in the building, I think Meraki's product could work well with one repeater per floor (10 floors * $50 = $500 one time startup cost - spread over a year $40/month).

Based on these numbers, it seems that internet could be provided for $250/month. As such, the co-op could generate up to $750/month in additional revenues which could defray our costs. Plus the cost of maintenance (be it personal time, or hiring someone).

This is all very pie in the sky. has anyone had any luck with a similar setup? Or come across similar cost cutting methods for co-op living?


***update - no one had done it, so I figured why not try. Let me know if you have any tips***

Saturday, October 06, 2007

River of...

So I just tried to combine all the various feeds that my sites create into one "river of news". Hopefully this makes it a bit easier for those of you with readers... let me know what you think.

If you don't have my feed, consider adding it:

Subscribe to my RSS Feed


For those of you curious about how I mashed my feeds together, take a look at FeedBlender, they let you add a bunch of feeds and spit out one consolidated stream. I've added, Twitter, Tumblr, Blogger, and Netflix. This combination then goes to FeedBunner, where Flickr and del.icio.us are added in and where I also get tracking statistics.

as you may have noticed - this combination is causing some problems. I apologize for flooding your readers, I've figured out the problem and hope to have it fixed soon

Monday, September 24, 2007

Web TV

No, I don't mean that box and wireless keyboard that was meant to bring the internet to a new audience but never really caught on as the connection was slow, and it was expensive. I mean the trend of moving TV to the internet, or taking it a step further and creating TV like content for the internet. Tonight I stumbled upon Goodnight Burbank and while I doubt they are the first to do so, it's the first time I've seen someone successfully create a "show" for the web.

A few simple observations:
1) The format is much shorter than traditional TV. While probably partially attributable to the shortening attention span of consumers, it seems this is also due to the expectation of web tv being short, as a result of YouTube and the likes (not sure if content transferable to a TV set would get away from this).
2) Ads can support the format (maybe?) Goodnight Burbank has ads spliced in at the end of episodes. This seems to imply that the commercial will survive into the new format (at least for now) - I'd be interested in how much revenue is generated per impression?
3) There's nothing fancy to the filming. With a fair degree of certainty, this content can be created with a mini-dv cam and a mac with video editing software. There are no special effect or other visual additives. This is almost refreshing as content has a chance to take center stage.

Silicon Alley Insider today ran a story claiming for internet video to be profitable, it needed to cost only hundreds of dollars a minute (they also posted this awhile back examining how popular a show would have to be to be profitable). I'm forced to ask how this costs much more. Being inclined to bootstrapping, the following seems to flow:

Actors - NYU is around the corner, I'm sure one/two/three aspiring actors would jump at the chance to have a performance put on the web - free

Space - Again, NYC is all around providing a host of shooting locations, esp if using limited equipment and thereby avoiding the necessity of permits and the like - free

Equipment - Beg/Borrow, chances are you have a computer and it has basic video editing software (free) and a video camera can probably be sourced fairly inexpensively - $limited

Marketing - What would it take to publicize a show? Here I'm not the most knowledgeable, but can imagine that a few hundred bucks would take you pretty far esp. with a bit of networking effort. - $$

Distribution - registering a domain name, and maybe some hosting services to ensure full control - $ (~$22/month)

Time - I suppose this is the real expense, what do you value your time at? - $$$

Am I missing any significant start-up costs? This rough tally put my estimate at ultimately being the cost of your time.


Now the real challenge, come up with content - any ideas?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

LinkedIn

So, I signed up for LinkedIn the other day, and still haven't come to a conclusion on the service. I like that it is more "professional" than facebook, but at the same time the grime is part of what makes facebook so much fun.

I have a few contacts who are serial entrepreneurs or run personal businesses. These people seem to have by far the most contacts on the network. I wonder if this is a product of the field they are in (ie more startups find the sense of community useful and therefore sign up than from other industries) or if they are truly using the site as the tool it is intended. Ultimately, I think it's that their networks simply larger because they need to be in touch with many more individuals to be successful, and therefore they simply know more people than non-entrepreneurs.

Anyway, I'm curious to see what happens with this site as the first group to have facebook all the way through college enters the workforce and realizes the dangers of having their drunk tailgating pictures floating around, but still want to keep tabs on their network.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

random thoughts

none of my "where's george" dollars have resurfaced... I guess it's a bit much to assume someone would actually look at their dollar and realize there's a website written on it - oh well.

Joost came out with a new version. They are slowly adding more and more content. There are even a few movie channels now (granted, they're filled with '80s sci-fi movies - but i guess that's the target audience for now). It seems like they are slowly getting some legs - but they're still lacking in regards to content. Vudu recently launched their product. It is somewhere between Netflix and Joost, by featuring new videos in a streamed format - however the $399 hardware price tag is a bit steep...

Speaking of Netflix, I added my review RSS stream on the right - not sure I'll leave it up; seems to be getting a bit cluttered over there. Would be nice if I could just have it flow into the body of the blog as a post... any ideas?

Lastly, I've been staring at prosper a lot again recently. The more I look at it the more convinced I become there's a way to make money here, but I'm still not 100% confident. Clicking through it, I'm leaning towards the idea that financing people's startups through the site is a reasonable thing to do, I remain skeptical of the refinancing loans. Also, the amount of information provided by borrowers is minimal - something which I'm not used to, but then again the sums of money are relatively small and doing a significant amount of due diligence is not worth the time/effort. I'm also intrigued by the "groups" which I have yet to fully figure out.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

mikolayczyk.com

I just read a posting on a blog i frequent about obsessive domain name purchasing, and was prompted to post on tumblr that I don't own a single domain name. I've had a few moments to think about this, and wander over to godaddy.com to find out the "www.mikolayczyk.com" is available for the low low price of $8.95/year. On the one hand I like the thought of controlling my family name in cyberspace, but at the same time I wonder - is there anyone else out there (other than my beer brewing cousin who uses his computer purely as a PAD) who would want this domain name?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Tumblr

So, I've been updating this blog on and off for the past month or so. At first I thought it'd be a cinch to keep it current, but actually i'm finding that coming up with something interesting/relevant, while not disqualifying myself from future jobs is actually pretty hard. As such, imagine my pleasure at finding tumblr. While essentially blog like, the site is a bit like del.icio.us but also adds the ability to post pictures or videos and a variety of other content. Anyway, while I'll keep this thing around for a bit longer to see if my interest resurfaces, but keep an eye on smikolay.tumblr.com for something new.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Find Satoshi


alright, so this is already in my links, but as I poked around the site a bit longer I got more intrigued and thought I'd post this for all to join in... so, do you know this man?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Phone

I signed up for a GrandCentral account today after reading about it in The Times. It reminds me of the Sprint product from so so long ago where all your phones ring at once when someone calls you (The commercial went something along the lines that it'll ring in the office, in the golf cart - yes cell phones were so big they had to stay in the cart - and then reach your beeper in the bunker). GrandCentral, however, works with any phone regardless of the service provider, instead of just one, and shows a bit more potential than something like Pinger, which still has yet to see wide acceptance.

The service gives you one phone number, you can then tell it which other numbers to ring. There's an interesting announcement feature which speaks the name of the caller when you receive a call. Additionally, the service allows you to accept the call and record it (not entirely legal in all states - but supposed in NY no problem). While this isn't too useful for me, the service also lets you press "*" while on a call, and thereby allows you to transfer the call (ie, you're on a cell and get to the office and want to use your desk phone, or you're at home but need to run out).

The one concern I still have is that telling everyone I have a new number is a hassle, and while I'd consider doing it once, I'd then be entirely at the whim of this company and should they suddenly charge $40/month then I'd be faced with telling everyone to go back to the old numbers, or shelling out some cash...

Sunday, March 04, 2007

A Better TV?

I mentioned Joost in an earlier post; the new project from the Kazaa/Skype guys. I got my hands on a beta version and although it is still a true beta (as opposed to what some others call beta) the potential is evident. The entire thing works likes a big DVR with alot more options. I've only begun to explore, and we'll see how it develops once more content is added and stability improves. (and no, I don't have any invites; sorry, right now i can only point you here for random Joost like content)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Schott Foundation


I'm slowly becoming more involved with The Schott Foundation in New York, which works to achieve equality in public education. The foundation has recently started a "Young Patron's Board" that I'm considering joining. The Board focuses on spreading awareness as well as fundraising. On that note, they are hosting a wine tasting evening on March 6th, so if you're interested and around, stop by.

As for the cause, it is interesting to learn that an entire generation of NY public school children as been neglected as a lengthy court battle has unfolded to try and provide necessary funding to underprivileged schools. Kids that started in kindergarten when these issues were first recognized and brought before the courts, are now graduating from high schools that have dilapidated woodshops and libraries stocked with books from the 1960s.

The other thing I find interesting about the Schott Foundation is that it is a grant giving organization. A charity for charities fundraiser for non-profits of sorts. It passes funds to other organizations which then work to achieve goals that are aligned with the foundation.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Bow Tie


VideoJug: How To Tie A Bow Tie

Supposedly, everyone should know how to tie a bow tie; I learned for NY2K07 in Houston, but have had little occasion to put it to use since.

New Apt

I'm in the process of buying a co-op which has been a long process; rather than bore with the details of my hunt, I thought I'd share a few lessons learned:

  1. Co-op vs condo: the long and short seems to be that in a condo, you own the apt. and everything is your responsibility, while in the co-op you own shares, which entitle you to live in a certain unit (the collective shares responsibility for the building). Additionally, co-ops often have boards which oversee what happens in the building (ie building improvements & whether a prospective tenant can buy into the building). Nothing revolutionary here; I managed to find a "cond-op" so some of the restrictions aren't present, but i still get the advantage of everyone being responsible for the building.

  2. Agents - can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em: my agent has been with me for three moves now. While she has helped me tremendously, I often wonder about their added value. At the end of the day she collected 2.5% of the purchase price in exchange for putting me on the list for 6 open houses, showing me one apt (to which she was late), and trying to convince me that the housing market is on fire (while I don't doubt this in NY, I also am confident in saying this is not a nation wide trend, and even here things aren't as fast as they've been).

  3. Steps: I guess I never knew the steps involved (and neither did my agent really - see above): 1) find an apt 2) make a bid 3) once bid is accepted, legal review 4) sign contract (and make down payment) 5) find a mortgage 6) close (as mentioned above, some co-ops require board approval in the process)

  4. Negotiate - if you've read Freakonomics then you know about incentives in real estate; I can only vouch for this. Once the two agents knew that i was willing to pay the ask, and negotiate on other closing costs, I had much greater success in achieving concessions.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Green Energy

After reading Tom's post about green energy and watching An Inconvenient Truth I also decided to call up my power generation company and see what was on offer; ConEdison actually offers a variety of options ranging from buying green power straight from them, to connecting you to other suppliers. I decided to go with the ConEdison offering, and now pay 1 cent more per unit, which i think will be about $2 more per month. In exchange my power will come from hydro and wind sources.

I have yet to venture into the light bulb part of Tom's project, but think that LEDs could be of interest the next time one of my bulbs blows, if the prices come down a bit.

(follow up: http://science.slashdot.org/science/07/02/20/1632204.shtml)

A few interesting things I found today:

loudisrelative - meant to track concerts at local venues and also integrate a sense of community by allowing those who plan to attend to post comments. it looks fairly scarcely used at the moment, so while the framework is there, it is lacking in actual content.

joost & babelgum - IPTV solutions, both in beta, joost supposedly released a mac version in the last few days. seems like an interesting twist to tv if they can get content. if anyone has a token to share, please feel free

(follow up: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB117193265395613131.html?mod=home_whats_news_us )

tag clouds - flickr and some other websites have these, i'm still trying to make it work here, but it seems cool. i like the ranking by size aspect...