Thoughts on Day 1 at Google I/O 2012

Google’s developer conference is known as Google I/O and in its 5th year Google uses this event to launch new updates to products such as Android and to introduce new technologies such as Google Glass.  It has been a couple of years since I was at Google I/O so I was glad to be walking through the doors at Moscone West to see what the 2012 version of Google I/O had to offer.

I was not very impressed with the first half of the keynote. The crowd was very tepid, not a lot of clapping and the speakers on stage seemed to be impacted by the lack of energy. It doesn’t help that Google’s team lacks to bravado of some of Apple’s exec team either. What started off weakly finished on a very strong note.

Vic Gundotra was in the middle of introducing an update to Google+ when Sergey Brin updated the presentation to introduce Google Glass. This wearable computer and the way it was introduced will go down as one of the best product intros. Google Glass allows the person wearing the glasses to broadcast a 1st person experience, and in this case a blimp high above the city set the stage for a live Google Hangout of a sky diving team to broadcast their dive from the blimp to the roof of Moscone. Incredible.

The keynote wrapped up on a high note with Google giving all the conference attendees a free Nexus 7 tablet, Nexus Q and Nexus phone. I left the keynote with a positive vibe after the initial letdown early on.

Google Products for All Attendees

Google Glass
Why does Google Glass matter so much to me? Everything Google announced today aside from Glass was a retread idea. Tablet? Yawn…we have seen a few tablet announcements this year. Android 4.1, aka Jelly Bean? Yawn…with the number of Android devices stuck on old operating systems how excited could I be knowing that only a sliver of the Android users will actually get this update. Google+? Yawn for the most part…Events was interesting. Google Glass? Awesome…something innovative and different from all the rigamarole from Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook. We need to move the needle and even if Google Glass is not it, projects like it are great to see us as a human race trying to solve.

Bullish on Google
I won’t hide the fact that I am an Apple fanboy. I have an iPhone, iPad and numerous other Apple hardware. After today’s sessions, Google continues to be dedicated to Google+, continues its transformation from a software company to a software AND hardware company, while continuing to innovate on new projects.

[Photos] Los Angeles Trip Report

I jetted off to Southern California for a few days of work this week, but I had a few moments of free time to watch sunset in Venice Beach, President Obama’s arrival in LA, a quick stop at In-n-Out and some surfers at El Porto.


Grand Canyon


Marina Del Rey

Full Slideshow

Arrival into Los Angeles

ESPN’s 30 for 30 is back.

In October 2009 ESPN ran the first in a series of documentaries celebrating the first 30 years of sports coverage at ESPN.  The documentaries were produced by filmmakers like Ice Cube and Barry Levinson.  Some of the documentaries were good, but others were captivating.  In my opinion ESPN was robbed of either a Primetime Emmy or a Grammy for best documentary.

Today ESPN announced it is kicking off a new 30 for 30 series this fall and winter.  I can’t wait to see what the next set of documentaries is going to cover.

Here are my top 5 favorite documentaries from the first 30 movies produced by ESPN:

5.    “The Band That Would Not Die” – My dad grew up in Baltimore and was a huge Baltimore Colts fan.  Watching the Colts slip out of Baltimore in the middle of the night was heartbreaking to him and other Colt fans.  In this film, we are introduced to the Baltimore Colts Band and how they never lost faith in bringing a team to Baltimore.

4.    “The U” – Lots of people, including myself, forgot how University of Miami went from an afterthought in football to winning multiple national titles.  The Hurricanes won with moxie and let everyone know it.

3.    “Catching Hell” – I am cheating a little since this film was not part of the 30 for 30 series, though originally it was.  Getting into the exact details of what happens when an innocent Chicago Cubs fan gets in the way of a Cubs’ outfielder catching a foul ball costing the Cubs a chance at returning to the their first World Series since 1945.

2.    “Once Brothers” – This story moved me the most.  Vlade Divac, the former LA Laker and Serbian goes back home to try and find closure over his broken friendship with former NBA star and Croatian Drazen Petrovic.  Their relationship was similar to brothers, but was torn apart when civil war broke out between Serbia and Croatia in the 1990s.  Unfortunately, Drazen Petrovic died in a car accident before the friendship could be repaired.  We should never take for granted the relationships we have in life.

1.    “The Two Escobars” – This should have been made into a full length movie.  “The Two Escobars” shown the spotlight on the lives of two men with the same last name, Escobar who’s lives inexplicably collided.  The first Escobar, Andres was a star soccer player in Columbia who accidentally scored an own goal that caused Columbia to lose to the US in the 1990 World Cup.  The second Escobar, Pablo, was the drug kingpin from Columbia who controlled almost all the cocaine in world.  Where the worlds collide is that both Pablo and Andres were from Medellin and it was there Pablo, who was a huge soccer fan, funded the Columbian soccer team.  Unfortunately it was the same cartel that ended Andres’ life in 1994 for retribution of that own goal in the 1990 World Cup.


Increase Engagement on Your WordPress Blog

Update – Hat tip to Aaron Jorbin for catching that you need to be an Admin to do this and you can’t be using MultiSuite.  If you are using MultiSuite then you need to be a super admin.

The best content on the web is not limited to big publishers, some of the best writers on the web are really passionate bloggers.  One of the challenges we bloggers have is to keep our visitors engaged on the site and introduce these visitors to otherwise undiscoverable content.

At AddThis, we are trying to solve this problem with the Trending content box.  With AddThis installed on 14M+ domains and seeing 1.3B users our data network and data processing capabilities can surface the most social content for your WordPress blog.  You may be asking, “how hard is it for me to do this?”  As with any of our tools, they are super easy to install and you get awesome real-time analytics as well.

Here are the step by step instructions to add the Trending content box to your WordPress Blog.

  1. Go to
  2. Sign in with your AddThis account, if you don’t have an account or don’t use our sharing tools, sign up.  It’s free and enables visitors to share your content to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and 300+ other services.
  3. Customize the Trending content box.  Pick the colors of the box, the size and how many links you want to display.
  4. Copy the code and log into your WordPress blog.
  5. Choose Appearance->Widgets and drag the Text widget to your Main Sidebar
  6. Paste the copied code into the Text Widget and hit Save.

Your blog’s top social content will now appear in the sidebar of your blog helping you keep visitors engaged.  If you are looking for more advanced features or want to hit the API for the feed directly, checkout these docs.


Layover at LAX? In-n-Out is only a shuttle bus away.

I have been saddled with 2 hour layovers in Los Angeles too many times to count over the last few years.  It is always nice as we make our final approach into LAX to see the palm trees, Hollywood Park and the beach.  Of course one of the things that is hard to miss on approach is as we cross Sepulveda Boulevard is the red and yellow In-n-Out sign.  It is so close to the airport, I know there is a way to leave the airport on my layover and pick up a burger.

In-n-Out on Final Approach into LAX

I once tried walking it during a 2.5 hour layover and I nearly missed my connecting flight.  The next time I tried a cab and it was easy but expensive as we waiting in the drive thru lane with the meter running.  While in the drive thru line I discovered the missing piece to this puzzle.  Right next to In-n-Out is a parking garage called “The Parking Spot.”  They have a shuttle that runs between LAX and the garage.  Bingo, so now when I land in LAX, I walk outside the terminal, grab “The Parking Spot” shuttle for the Sepulveda garage get my lunch and take the shuttle back.  I have managed to make this run with a 1 hour 45 minute layover with time to spare.

The Parking Spot Sepulveda Shuttle

Pro tip: Make sure you tell the shuttle driver you are self parked so they don’t get suspicious you are using their shuttle for animal style burgers and fries instead of picking up your car.

Map from In-n-Out to LAX

The Best and Worst of SXSW 2012


“Just when you are out, they pull you back in.”  And so goes my experience at SXSW this year.  After saying I was going to give SXSW one last chance, the conference totally redeemed itself.  I think a big part of my change in tune was knowing how commercialized the conference became in 2010, which was a disappointment back then.

Best Interactive Panel
The best panel this year was about the work NASA’s Jet Propulsion Labs was doing to monitor near Earth orbit objects like asteroids and comets. Amazing data science work goes into predicting when these objects may hit us and which ones need to be classified as truly dangerous. They also spent time debunking that the Earth will not end in 2012 as the Mayan calendar predicts.

Best Movie Panel
I did not get to as many movie panels as I’d like but my favorite was the Seth MacFarlane talk where he analyzed and compared Family Guy clips as well as introduced the world to his new movie “Ted.” Mark Wahlberg also made a surprise appearance.


Best BBQ
You can’t go to Austin and not have BBQ. This year Stubb’s takes the award.

Best Music
How could it be anything but Jay-Z?

Best Poster at SXSW
The guys at Adult Swim came up with a great looking poster that they gave out at the Turner tent.


Worst Weather
Never in 9 years have I seen weather worse than I did Friday and Saturday in Austin. The half mile walk I had from my hotel to the convention center was brutal, especially on Friday.


Worst Registration Process
The registration line for SXSW on Friday was 90 to 120 minutes long. For a technology conference you would think we could have some forward thinking ideas about how to make registration faster, but here we are 6 years later still filling out green index cards to pick up our badges.

Worst Hotel Situation
Unless you were sponsoring, speaking or knew someone at SXSW you were not getting a hotel room within a few block radius of the convention center. Sure you could have picked up a room at the Hampton Inn one week before the conference for $1700 a night, but most people were resigned to long walks or cab rides. One set of friends decided to stay in San Antonio and drive in each day figuring the party scene at Riverwalk was going to be just as good.

Best Redemption of a SXSW Conference
After leaving woefully disappointed in 2010 at the complete sell out of the conference organizers to the sponsors, SXSW totally redeemed itself in 2012. Yes, the sponsors were still there, but knowing this going in made the event that much better. The best part of these sponsored events, not having to pay for food or drinks the entire weekend. Thank you to all the sponsors out there!

And with that, SXSW goes back on my list as a must attend event. I can’t wait to get back to Austin in 2013, though my hotel room is getting reserved as early as possible this year.

AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) Obit Take 2

Last August Gizmodo wrote the obituary for AIM, it turns out they were only 7 months early. With the majority of my old AIM team let go last Friday, the team is down to a handful of engineers, testers and others to maintain the client.  We have seen this story before with the AOL dial up client.  When AOL was put in maintenance mode it kept a few key employees around in case something went wrong.  So here is my obituary for AIM:

AOL Instant Messenger passed away on Friday March 9th after 16 years of complications related to poor management.  As the inventor of many key social features and the inspiration for a few important features in Facebook, AIM was the web’s first social network.  AIM will be remembered by the many who worked on it and it leaves behind many patents that AOL may choose to sell or license.

So AIM’s servers are not getting turned off, there are still a few million using the service but I doubt we see too many new features.  And while Mashable does not declare AIM dead, Christine Warren does touch on where AIM went wrong.  Going back over in my mind we lost our way when we could never convince AOL’s corporate bosses to open up AIM to 3rd party networks until it was too late.

It was a great run for AIM, and all of us who worked on it should be proud of the work we did to change the way we communicate online.

My 2012 SXSW Survival Guide

The annual trip to Austin is less than a week away, and my schedule is definitely rounding in to shape.  After saying SXSW had “jumped the shark” on Friday, there are still worthy parts of going and this year has potential.  So here are the events I am looking forward to most.



  • “The Last Fall” is a movie about what happens when an NFL journeyman finishes his career. Most NFL players careers are over after only a few years in the league and the average age when a player retires is 27 years of age. I hope this movie by Matthew Cherry, a former NFL player, sheds light on what happens.
  • “Marley” is a documentary from Academy Award winner Kevin Macdonald about the life and times of Bob Marley.  The footage includes never before scenes and interviews.


Surviving SXSW is not going to be that difficult with a line up like that.  Plus with 21 Jump Street premiering and Seth MacFarlane’s talk it could be a good week, that keeps me coming back to SXSW.

What do $1 Razors and the Chicago Cubs Winning the World Series Have in Common?…

Great marketing campaigns!  Two totally separate online marketing campaigns have gone viral today, and both for very different reasons.  The first is from Dollar Shave Club which is out to take down the cabal that is Gillette.  By offerring $1 razor blades delivered to your doorstep each month, you can save hundreds of dollars over paying Gillette $8-10 a razor.  Not the most sexy business, but when you watch their online video campaign, you may change your opinion.

I am not a Chicago Cubs fan, but the misery that my North-side Chicago friends experience each summer tells me that the Cubs winning the World Series would be as big a deal as when the Red Sox won in 2004 after an 86 year wait.  Leave it to MLB The Show to come up with a video showing what it would be like for the Cubs and the city of Chicago to end their 103 year drought.  The game is so realistic that it is hard to tell fact from fiction.

The Importance of Twitter during Real-Time Events for Brands

Over the past 6 weeks I have led our data analysis of real-time events at Clearspring such as the Super Bowl, the Grammy’s and the Academy Awards.  We have been live tweeting the data behind the events using many different signals across our network.  One trend is becoming more apparent during these real-time events which is the importance of Twitter.

The reason for Twitter’s rise during these events can be attributed to a few factors:

  1. More people are watching these events with a phone or tablet next to them instead of a laptop.  Twitter’s integration into these platforms especially iOS is important to note.
  2. Twitter’s mobile apps are simple to use and the 140 character limit actually plays in their favor during these events.  Short updates, re-tweets and replies make it easy to “be social” without taking attention away from the TV screen.
  3. Twitter is where the celebrities are.  During these events whether they be award shows, political debates or sporting events, musicians, actors, writers and athletes are sharing their opinions with the world and it is the best way to follow along.

Here is one example showing the amount of social activity by service during and immediately after Adele’s Grammy performance.  Twitter activity is almost two times bigger than Facebook.

So how can brands take advantage of Twitter during real-time events?  Brands can take advantage of Twitter’s popularity by bidding on promoted hashtags, accounts and tweets related to the event that draw attention back to your brand.  The other obvious play is to leverage celebrities that will be tweeting about the event to mention your brand or use your promoted hashtag or tweet.

Marketing via Twitter and using Twitter for earned media is still nacent, but you can tip the court in your favor by taking advantage times when Twitter users are highly engaged.