Great Book by Biz Stone…

Things a Little Bird Told Me, Confessions of the Creative Mind

I’m enjoying this one. It’s a quick and easy read, but if you’re paying attention, there are many ideas worth pondering.

The nuggets of wisdom are dusted around on the amusing stories, so don’t miss them. Like when Biz is relating some stories about trying his best to talk about the “fail whale” downtime problems:

When you let people understand that you are people like they are, passionate but imperfect, what you get in return is good will.

Highly recommended, and I’m not even done yet!

IndieWeb Update

Since joining the IndieWeb Camp a couple weeks ago, I’ve had a great time learning more and getting things setup and working on my own sites. It’s still not all where I want it, but I thought I’d do a little update.

The idea behind IndieWeb is that you own your own presence on the internet. This starts with owning your domain, and some kind of website at that domain, where you post your stuff. But you set things up so that it’s easy to post a version to whatever social site you wish, like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or LinkedIn. This principle is called “Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere” — POSSE, for short.

Then, when people post replies on those sites, those replies also show up on your own site, all pulled together in one place.

For me, this is like a kind of magic. All my stuff is on my site, and all my friends replies and comments and likes, as well. But I get that leverage and connection that today is only possible in the big social sites. Facebook has a near monopoly on “everyone”, but some people I want to reach are on Twitter, or, or LinkedIn, or Google+, so I want to be in those places, too. With IndieWeb, it’s possible, and even easy, to connect it all together.

At this point, the tools to do this seamlessly are not simple to setup — not yet something my non-techie friends are going to want to take on. But it’s getting there.


One of the best parts of the IndieWeb is the group of people creating it. My kind of nerds. It’s a high-powered group, and a friendly and helpful group, too. With a little help, I was able to get a lot of stuff setup in just a few hours.


I have the IndieWeb stuff integrated here at this WordPress blog, thanks to the nice SemPress theme and a couple plugins. While I was at it, I got https working with a real SSL certificate, and cleaned up a mess of disused and redundant Plugins. (This happens when you manage your own WordPress.)

If you’re interested in seeing this all in action, just check out the comments on my blog. Recent posts were done POSSE-style and you will see some comments coming in from other sites. To learn more of the technical details, check out

Tim Cook on Human Rights and Dignity

In November 2013, Auburn University’s College of Human Sciences bestowed the IQLA Lifetime Achievement Award on Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple Computer. His acceptance speech is stunning.

“Never allow the majority to limit the rights of the minority. Never allow people who fear anyone different from themselves to limit others’ human rights or deny others’ human dignity.”

He talks about gay rights, discrimination, human dignity and human rights in a beautiful and passionate way.

Not only does he use an example, close to our heart at Square Pegs, of an autistic boy finding his voice through technology, but he makes this important point about the purpose of great products:

“We design our products so they surprise and delight everyone who uses them. And we never, never ever analyze the return on investment. We do it because it is just and right, and that is what respect for human dignity requires, and it is a part of Apple that I am especially proud of.”

This is the kind of leadership technology companies need. This is why many of us got into technology in the first place — to change lives.

Bravo, Mr. Cook.

API Insanity!

I’m listening to the Google IO Keynote this morning, not really following closely, but I have it running in the background and occasionally pick up some interesting detail.

My impression so far is that it’s an wild array of capabilities, especially around improvements in APIs for developers to tie in to Maps, Google+ and other services. This is going to be fun to check out in detail.

Developers and Apple

It looks like Apple have been doing some thinking about the challenges of a growing developer community. In their fashion, they aren’t telling us much, but at least the change to WWDC ticket sales process and promised availability of session videos during the conference were good steps.

Now they have quietly announced a series of Tech Talks starting in the fall.

Enthusiasm for WWDC 2013 has been incredible, with tickets selling out in record time. For those who can’t join us in San Francisco, you can still take advantage of great WWDC content, as we’ll be posting videos of all our sessions during the conference. We’ll also be hitting the road this fall with Tech Talks in a city near you. Hope to see you there.

News and Announcements for Apple Developers

Still not much in the way of detail, but knowing Apple, there’s a whole planned out strategy behind this. I’m guessing we’ll be hearing a lot more about an expanded developer education and outreach program by the time WWDC is over.

Internet Identity Workshop #16

If you are interested in identity, privacy and technology, get your tickets now for the Internet Identity Conference, May 7th to 9th in Mountain View, California. Early bird tickets are available until March 18th.

IIW is one of my favorite conferences. The “unconference” format makes it an active, participatory event and many of the attendees are the people who are actually implementing this stuff. The conversations range from deep technical arguments on code and implementations to philosophical discussions about identity and pseudonymity.

Extra points if you spot me in the video:

Remembering Miles – The Big Man

Almost two weeks ago, Miles disappeared. Each day that goes by, we lose a little bit of hope that he’s going to stroll in and squawk at us until we shake his food dispenser for him.

Miles was ageless at 15 years old. Although Joell said she’d like to think he just walked off into the forest and lay down to die peacefully in a sunbeam, it’s more likely that something got him. Maybe a dog, but more likely one of the wild animals here in our forest — a bobcat or mountain lion, or maybe an owl or a fox.

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I called Miles “The Big Man.” He was a burly cat. He wasn’t one of those fat cats, or something oversized and slow like a maine coon. He was just a regular sized tabby, but when you picked him up he was dense and muscular. He was a handsome guy. He was cool and calm. A man’s cat.

When I got Miles from the pound, he was a stray kitten that the folks at the Humane Society of Santa Clara had named Ringo. I liked the idea of naming him after a musician, but he just wasn’t a Ringo.

My housemate Stephan and I both noticed that this kitten liked it when I played guitar. He would sit close and stare at me while I played. He’d come from across the house to listen.

My other kitten, Yoda, was much more interactive. He’d climb and jump everywhere, and play with your pant leg, or chase flies in the window. Yoda could dead-point the top of the door from a squat and pull himself to the top. The two got along but they were very different.

Miles was aloof for sure. Unless you were playing music, Miles mostly ignored you. He was a small buddha — like one of those kids that people call “an old soul”. He was observant and calm, and sometimes even snuggly. He would often pick out the person in a party who least liked cats and go sit on them, looking away from them at the rest of the room in a sphynx pose with a little cat smile. But he also had this other look. When directed at you, it seemed like he was deeply annoyed with everything, especially you. Stephan and I thought this was hilarious.

We were in the car one weekend, going somewhere, it doesn’t matter where, when it clicked. This kitten wasn’t Ringo. He was Miles. It was that look of disdain that made the name perfect.

Miles and Yoda were as different as two cats could be. But they were “brothers”, and even though Yoda was from fancy-cat parents (Ocicat/Bengal) and Miles was a tabby from the pound, both were gorgeous animals. Yoda is lithe and talkative and active, and Miles was stoic and cool and burly.

When Joell and I got our hound Cissy, we knew she had been around barn cats, so we were sure she was cat-broke. But the boys were not so dog-broke. They really didn’t trust this big hound, and her loud baying freaked them out.

Miles was the first to adjust. If Cissy bayed at the raccoons outside, Miles would twitch his ears and look annoyed. Yoda would dash for a high perch.

When we moved to our little place in the woods in Pescadero, Miles found home. He loved his yard and the woods around us. He hunted. He lay in the sun on the redwood duff, or curled up on his favorite tree stump “throne”. As always, he loved when I played guitar and was patient with me as I tried to re-learn the piano.

The computer fascinated him, especially when Joell would sit in the big brown chair and write, or when I would sit at the big screen and work with him in my lap. He loved stuff that moved — not action-packed video games, but little stuff: my twitter feed, editing a document, administering a website, writing and photo editing.


For years now, each night Cissy the hound jumps up in our bed and Yoda stomps across our chests and meows at us and grunts. But sometimes, Miles would curl up quietly against my back or above our pillows and purr. You couldn’t help but feel like you were somebody special when he would snuggle in.

Four pets is a lot in a tiny house like ours. But we all feel Miles’ absence – especially Yoda. He’s been ever-present and needs to be constantly touching one of us. But even the hounds know something is wrong; someone is missing. Cissy has been especially snuggly and Tucker is laying on my feet as a write.


On a rainy day like today, I find myself looking for him. He should be here, helping me write and warming the whole room.

Miles was my friend. I love him and I miss him deeply.

Do people need a large, super-powerful computer anymore?

The Mac Pro is an aging platform, but it’s not clear what will replace it. It’s still a beautiful and powerful system (have you ever looked INSIDE one of those things?), but I agree that it’s sure to be replaced soon. But by what?

The clue is in Thunderbolt, the new ultra-fast connection standard Apple has adopted and that Intel is pushing on computer manufacturers. At NAMM, there were several companies showing powerful Thunderbolt peripherals, and many others quietly talking about future capabilities with this new interface.

But I think Thunderbolt will be more than just a replacement for Firewire and USB. It is a flexible and powerful interface, and very fast.

In personal computers and workstations, there are three main classes of connection between subsystems. The main processors have an extremely fast connection to memory. The graphics is connected by a slightly slower connection that is a multi-channel PCIe interface. Internal and external storage and other devices are then connected by the next class of interfaces, such as SATA, eSATA, Firewire, USB and Ethernet.

Without getting into too much detail, Thunderbolt can be described as a small external PCIe connection combined with a Display Port. A computer could have several of these, and the total I/O bandwidth available would be enough to feed most of the data transfer needs of the most demanding user. Audio and video folks are salivating over the possibilities!

Back to the Mac Pro. This is a large system. It’s huge! Multiple drive bays; multiple internal slots for video cards and other expansion. But I contend that with Thunderbolt, this kind of large monolithic system is no longer the right way to configure a top-performing computer.

When you have multiple external interfaces that are very fast, you can build a system that only contains those things that need to be inside, right next to the processor.

Think of a new class of Mac Mini — a small computer built to be a powerhouse of compute power and memory, with multiple external Thunderbolt connections for the expansion required by professionals.  If they can engineer the cooling, a very small computer, maybe only a little bigger than those external drives on my desk, could hold the processors, memory and graphics, and perhaps one system drive (likely an SSD). Everything else would be external, connected by multiple Thunderbolt ports.

What tradeoffs would they have to make to build this? Some pros would cry over the loss of internal slots. Could external slot expansion perform well enough?

Could this concept also be extended to a new Macbook Pro with multiple Thunderbolt ports? I love the idea of a light, fast laptop that transforms into a powerful workstation when connected into a desktop rig of external monitors, storage, and even specialized processing systems (maybe for audio and video).

What Lean Startup Is Not

I feel for Eric Reis. He seems compelled to say, in every talk, right in the beginning, “Lean is not ‘cheap’!”

I’m sure it’s because he gets hit with this constantly. Just yesterday I was reading about Education startups and a well-regarded startup founder and investor was quoted as saying that startups in the Education space need to be “pudgier”

“One of the things I feel strongly about is that everybody
pushes the notion of a lean startup,” said Katzman, who founded
the Princeton Review, online education company 2U (formerly
2tor) and his current startup Noodle Education. “And I’m kind
of in favor, especially in the education space, of a pudgier startup.”
John Katzman, as quoted in GigaOm

Katzman goes on to say some pretty smart things about the complexities of the Education market, but this “pudgier” statement has nothing to do with Lean Startup.

I believe the “good mix of people with deep backgrounds in education and business” Katzman calls for would do well to validate their assumptions and develop their product using the Lean Startup approach. Katzman seems to agree — he goes on to recommend strategies very much in keeping with Lean Startup. The video is worth watching.

Katzman makes a great example because he’s an experienced entrepreneur who actually agrees with the Lean Startup approach, whether he knows it or not. This is a guy who knows his stuff, who knows how important it is to listen closely to customers, who tells great stories of realizing after just a few usability tests that his assumptions were wrong. This is a guy we should be listening to, other than his mischaracterization of Lean Startup.