“Cycling is the new Golf”

The New York Times rocked my cycling buddies last weekend with the piece in the Style section about how cycling (and other extreme sports) have become the power-activity of the elite in Silicon Valley. Being a fanatical cyclist, I was heartened to see the piece confirm what I suspected for sometime — getting up one’s lactic threshold is the modern measure of a person’s business potential, the cardiovascular equivalent of what my step-brother once told me: "If you want to size up a person’s character, then play a round of golf with them."

I despise golf for reasons of tedium and personal inepititude, but respect the passion for it that other people have. It is certainly a much more social sport — you’re never out of breath and you get to chat amiably during the cart ride from hole to hole — but it has never clicked with me. Cycling however, well, there is little or no opportunity to chat a person up while drafting their rear wheel at 30 kph or dogging it up a hill standing on the cranks. But there is a great chance to see how a person holds up under immense pain and suffering — 60 miles in the saddle will give anyone a chance to throw in the towel or aquit themselves as a true team player when it comes to be their turn to lead the paceline and haul their mates through a headwind.

The Times article (which I dare not link to due to their weird archiving process), made me wish, very fervently, that I was working in Silicon Valley and not Greater Boston, when cycling shut downs every winter. True, I do ride through the winter on my fixed-gear, and hit the road in earnest at the first sign of spring, but I would like the opportunity to put in 50 miles a day each and every day and not have to worry about snow, windchill, and the corrosion that road salt will do my bike frame.

Yesterday I taught a seminar on Web publishing to some colleagues at IDG and spent some time demonstrating the nebulous concepts of Web 2.0 by introducing them to the concept of mashing — I showed them Google Maps, then I showed them the Google GMAP Pedometer, and then showed them how I build bicycle routes and then share them with other through this site, Roadbikereview.com, and finally, tag them with de.icio.us tags so others can find them.

The demo clicked and seemed to work beautifully, illustrating:

  1. The power of the long tail — geeks who cycle
  2. The power of open architectures — Google Maps being overlaid with the Pedometer
  3. the power of tagging
  4. The power of community

As an aside and anecdote —  two summers ago I purchased a wonderful Italian racing bike frame on EBay and rode it with great glee and pride until the salt Cape Cod air got the better of it. I took it to a frame painter in Worcester, MA — Toby Stanton at Hot Tubes. Toby beadblasted some of the rust of it and condemned the frame as unrestorable. Seeing my sadness he handed me a used LeMond frame from the Saturn Racing Team (a pro team he used to coach). It was the bike ridden by Viktor Rapinski (now on the Swiss Phonak Team). You can’t imagine my delight to have a "celebrity bike."

Now if I only had the sunny clime to ride it in, and the cycling buddies to make it a power ride.

Google Analytics — a blessing for the little guys

Over at Reel-Time we’ve long felt the pain of never having the scale or revenue to invest in the tools that big sites can afford. Most notably a decent traffic analysis package. Sure, there’s the usual freeware log-file analysis, but nothing approaching the sophistication of an Omniture Teamsite or Websidestory HitBox.

Last week Google introduced Google Analytics, granting access to AdSense publishers such as R-T. Our webmaster Mark Cahill performed the install by adding some footer code to the pages, and voila, a week later we have the first real stats for Reel-Time that we’ve had in ten years.

 And it cost nothing. Omniture and Hitbox which charge $0.09-$0.22 per thousand pages, are way out of the range of the little niche players.

 Needless to say, I am very happy, but in awe of Google’s ability to overnight put companies like Omniture and HitBox under the gun. 



anders.com: Lectures: 12 Byzantine Rulers

anders.com: Lectures: 12 Byzantine Rulers

Previously I posted about the dearth of decent university lecture podcasts. This one, by SUNY professor Lars Brownsworth, is very good, at least to me, a Byzantine history geek.

Two episodes and I want the rest NOW.

I have a serious Byzantium-thing that dates back to the publication of John Julius Norwich’s epic tryptch in the late 90s. Since then I’ve devoured everything from Ostrogorski to Gibbon, Runciman to the few existing primary sources. If I had one dream in retirement it would be to get a doctorate in Byzantine history, specifically the Paleogus line.

There is a big opportunity for some shrew aggregator to get in front of the lecture-podcast movement and start making available some "real" lectures and not the watered-down  "continuing education" crap.

 So check out 12 Byzantine Rulers for a good example of what could be.

Churbuck.com hacked last night

My buddy Mark Cahill at Reel-Time IM’d me at 6:30 last night to tell me the site had been hacked and hijacked by a worm. First time that has every happened to me, so I took down the offending page — just a text message telling me some pin-head "owned" me — emailed the ISP’s sysadmin, and learned it was an idle version of Drupal that needed to be patched. Patched it is, and back we go.

What really is hammering me is spammers forging churbuck.com return addresses to their outgoing bumf. The resulting bounces are keeping my spam filters busy. Doubtlessly this is putting me on all sorts of blacklists, but there’s nothing I can do.

I advocate finding a spammer, chaining them to a table and every evening doing a live webcast where a millimeter of them is shaved off with a deli meat slicer, starting with the bottom of their feet.  

Random Rantings

Things that set me off:

1. Flavored coffee: "Hazelnut Raspberry Irish Creme" — this is not coffee. This is poison. This is the potable equivalent of bad cologne. There is one true coffee and it’s name is Peet’s French Roast.

2. Luggage on wheels:  get out of the Barca-Lounger and carry your own bag like a man. If you stop in the jet-way to extend the #$%$# retractable handle I shall keep on charging forward and kick you.

3. The revival of the dot.com bubble. Web 2.0, Web 1.0. Social-anything. We’re careening right over the cliff again.

4. Henry Blodgett’s rehabilitation. The guy was a trade-reporter hack who was peter-principled into a stock analyst gig, had his 15-minutes of fame, talked out of both sides of his mouth, and is back, reborn as a blogger with a big foot-noted disclaimer. Go away. 

5. Xenon Headlights: like staring down a landing B-52. The lumination equivalent of a rolling middle-finger.

5. Web 2.0 M&A frenzies. The breathlessness with which the Webblog Inc. acquisition by AOL — that shining paradigm of online mediocrity — was greeted by the insular world of bloggers looking for financial redemption ("You see, our model DOES pay") overlooks the fact that Calcanis’s empire is based on AdSense revenues. While he makes Google rich, he somehow achieves a 12X multiple so AOL can buy some traffic. This is all driven by Media 1.0 dinosaur fears of being left, yet again, at the kiddie table.  There are a lot of Web 1.0 vampires rising from the crypt trying again to find that "liquidity event" in the sky.

6. Indignant new media screams about getting their scoops ripped off by the MSM. Get over it. Plagarism is the American way.