The MyBlogLog earthquake

This has undoubtedly been a tough week for MyBlogLog, but it’s standup posts like these that make me proud to work so closely with these guys. Nice job, Eric (and great job to Todd, Steve, and John for implementing real fixes while deflecting lots of criticism).

And Caterina puts the whole thing into context in a way that only she can.

By the way, the earthquake in the title of the post is not just a metaphor. I was sitting across the table from Eric in the midst of the craziness, and suddenly the ground moved beneath us. It was that kind of week. . . . looking forward to next week.

Conference season: where you'll find me

It’s that time of year, and I’ve got a busy but excellent schedule ahead. If you want to meet up at any of these places, drop me a line! (it’s “chad”, then “chaddickerson.com”).

YUI First-Year Party
Yahoo! HQ (Sunnyvale, CA)
February 22, 5:30-8:30pm

Browser Wars: Episode II The Attack of the DOMs
Yahoo! HQ (Sunnyvale, CA)
Wednesday, February 28, 6:00 PM

“Dreaming in Code,” Berkeley Cybersalon (Berkeley, CA)
From Sylvia Paull’s mailing list (subscribe here): Scott Rosenberg, a founder of Salon.com, will moderate a panel discussing the challenges of writing major software programs. Scott just wrote a book called “Dreaming in Code,” which follows the tortuous path of Mitch Kapor’s OSAF (Open Source Applications Foundation) undertaking to write a PIM (personal information manager,) code-named Chandler. On the panel will be Eric Allman, email pioneer and creator of Sendmail software as well as Chief Science Officer of the eponymous company; Chad Dickerson, manager of the Yahoo Developer Network; Lisa Dusseault, Fellow at CommerceNet and a former development manager and standards architect at OSAF; and Jaron Lanier, computer scientist and virtual reality pioneer.
Sunday, March 4, 5-7 PM

Evans Data Developer Relations Conference (Redwood City, CA)
Speaking: “Hacking Developer Relations at Yahoo! Developer Network
March 12, 2:00-2:55pm

SXSW
March 12-13 (maybe)

eTech (San Diego)
Speaking: “Big Company Hacks at Yahoo!
Wednesday, March 28, 11:45am – 12:15pm

See you on the road. . . . .

Must-see TV: "The Sarah Silverman Program"

When I read a review in The New Yorker that said “The Sarah Silverman Program” is “much the meanest sitcom in years — and one of the funniest,” I knew I had to tune in. Reading further, when I noticed that Brian Posehn plays one of Sarah’s “red-bearded gay neighbors,” well, I was pretty much sitting by the Tivo waiting for the little red light to pop on. Then, when I finally tuned in and Zach Galifianakis came on screen, I knew I was in for a treat (if these names don’t ring a bell, then check out The Comedians of Comedy, one of the funniest comedy films I’ve ever seen — the best way I can think of to describe it is crude comedy for geeks and comic book nerds with unnatural music obsessions, and the people they love.)

The episode I watched is described as follows:

Sarah takes in a homeless man to prove that she’s a caring person. Brian learns karate, but fails to use it at critical moments.

The running gag in the show isn’t called out in the synopsis, but it’s about as crass as it gets. Best of all, Brian does use his karate at one critical moment, in an inspired fight scene with Zach Galifianakis that surely ranks as the best ever between nerdy comics (maybe the only one). Here are some screenshots — check out Brian catching some air:

  

So, “The Sarah Silverman Program” is highly-recommended. If it feels a little too crass for your high-brow tastes, remember that you can always fall back on The New Yorker review to justify your indulgence. Prepare to be embarrassed by your own laughter.

I have a prior commitment that night, but for you Brian Posehn and Comedians of Comedy fans in the Bay Area, there’s a show on Sunday, March 4 as part of the Noise Pop festival.

Kiva update: repayments begin

Back in December, I wrote about Kiva.org and microcredit, a concept that drove last year’s Nobel Peace Prize award. Kiva.org allows anyone to make microloans to enterpreneurs in the developing world.

Read my last post on Kiva.org for details on the loans I made, but I just wanted to note that I got my first repayment notices earlier this month from both people to whom I made a loan. The email explained a little more about how the repayments work:

This repayment will be divided amongst all the lenders who helped to fund this business, depending upon the percentage each lender contributed. Note that you cannot actually withdraw or reloan these funds until after the loan term is complete.

The loan term is as long as 18 months for both of my loans, and the payments are coming in on time and for the appropriate amounts. I’ll continue the updates over the next several months — this is both fascinating and uplifting.

FTD, you let me down

The folks over at FTD blew it for me this Valentines Day. They managed to charge my credit card, but the flowers never showed. Nancy and I had a good laugh about it and wondered how such a mishap might affect a shakier relationship. I’m considering calling FTD and telling them that their mistake has me sleeping in the garage and fending off costly divorce proceedings. Just for fun.

In the end, the FTD fiasco meant very little and we enjoyed a great dinner at Town Hall in SF. . . but FTD, you still suck!

Update: when it comes to cataloging FTD suckitude, the blogosphere delivers.

Update 2 (02/16/07): FTD is trying to kiss and make up — but what, no flowers?

Dear      Valued Customer [nothing warms me up like an oddly-spaced generic greeting! - CD]

We regret to inform you that we were unable to fulfill your order for delivery on Feb 14.
We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused and we will be issuing a full refund of all charges made to your credit card as a result of your order.

In response to this issue, by clicking through the following link [link redacted] you will be entitled to receive $15.00 off on all orders placed with FTD.com through May, 30, 2007.

Once again, we sincerely apologize for any inconvenience.

FTD.COM.
Customer Service

Jon Udell and Yahoo! Pipes

I read Jon Udell’s post about Yahoo! Pipes today in which he said of Pipes: It delights me! I’m not sure if Jon remembers this or not, but when I had him over to Yahoo! to give a talk last March, Pipes creator Pasha Sadri described the general concept (then just floating around in his head) to Jon in a really fun session after Jon’s talk. I happened to snap a grainy cameraphone shot of the exchange:

Pasha Sadri and Jon Udell

If Pipes is a milestone in the history of the Internet, this shot feels like an important historical artifact. As Tim O’Reilly wrote today, some of the concepts Jon has been talking about for years were realized in Pipes. Tim also noted:

. . . it really is amazing how easily we forget the details of the past, and how important it is for future history for us to keep our notes. It gives real perspective on more distant history when you realize how hard it is to remember the sequence of events, and who influenced whom. . .

I’m glad to have that shot to remind us.

Yahoo! Pipes: "a milestone in the history of the internet"

When Tim O’Reilly calls a product “a milestone in the history of the internet,” something really, really cool is happening. Here’s what the coolness is all about:

Pipes is a hosted service that lets you remix feeds and create new data mashups in a visual programming environment. The name of the service pays tribute to Unix pipes, which let programmers do astonishingly clever things by making it easy to chain simple utilities together on the command line.

Yahoo! Pipes was built by Pasha Sadri, Ed Ho, Jonathan Trevor, Kevin Cheng, and Daniel Raffel. I work in the row of cubes right beside the team and it’s been inspiring to watch Pipes go from idea to reality (I was lucky enough to work closely with Ed and Jonathan last year when we released the Checkmates prototype at eTech).

Jeremy nails the big picture as usual, so I’ll just point to a mashup that I built. The most exciting thing is that I didn’t really have to know how any of the APIs worked that I used — they are rolled into the product and all I have to do is feed data into the mix from my choice of RSS feeds, set up the pipeline with various parameters, and the data I want transforms and flows out of the other end like magic.

Here’s basically what is happening behind the scenes. I took the Upcoming.org RSS feeds for the Fillmore and the Warfield in San Francisco (two music venues) and joined them into one feed, then piped the unified feed through the Content Analysis Term Extraction API to pull out the keywords in the RSS feeds. Then I looped through the Flickr API to run queries for photos on those keywords. My logic wasn’t perfect, but all I know is that I saw a photo of George Clinton and sure enough, he’s playing at the Fillmore on March 9. It’s 1:20 am as I write this, and although I have been meaning to go to bed for about three hours now, I’ve just been having too much fun reconfiguring these pipes. Yes, fun.

A big congratulations to the team and Bradley and Caterina for carving out the space for the team to do their magic. This is a proud moment for Yahoo!

MyBlogLog is hiring: work for Yahoo! in Berkeley

The MyBlogLog team is settling into their cozy space in the Berkeley office (home of Yahoo! Research Berkeley) and we’re now starting to build out the team (if you didn’t already know, MyBlogLog is a recent acquisition that we’re really excited about at Yahoo!)

You probably know that there are a few thousand people down at the Yahoo! HQ in Sunnyvale, and it’s a great place to work, but the Berkeley office is (like Berkeley itself) marches to a slightly different drummer. It’s a couple of blocks from the Downtown Berkeley BART and walking distance from great bars, movie theaters, and Thai food. There are spring days where you walk up to the Cheese Board for some pizza and find a jazz trio there to entertain you while you’re waiting — on a weekday. Only in Berkeley. Add in the fact that the newly-arrived MyBlogLog guys are just really great folks, and you’ve got a winning work combination.

So, without further ado, here’s what we’re hiring for. If you’re interested, send me an email (it’s chad, then add chaddickerson.com) and tell me why you deserve to be so lucky as to work with an excellent team in Berkeley, a town that writer Michael Chabon called “the most enraptured city in America on a daily basis.” I’ve lived in Berkeley for nine years, and it’s true.

(follow the links for job descriptions)