Tuesday, March 20, 2007

March 20th: The Steak and A You-Know-What Day!

I've been meaning to write this post for a while now. For those greater-Boston morning commuters, here's a fabulous recommendation: if you can listen to the radio, tune into 105.7 WROR. The Loren and Wally show is a great way to spend those miles on the road. They have great music, traffic reports and all, but the best thing, they manage to crack me up every single morning.

This morning they put on the response to the Feb 14th "Her Day", is when you show your appreciation to your wife and girlfriend. Well, March 20th from now on is the "Steak and A You-Know-What Day!". It begins in the morning when you greet your wife/girlfriend with cheerful "Happy Holiday". to their inquisitive look, you can explain that today is "His Day", where she can show her appreciation your endless efforts to please and comfort her during the previous and hopefully next year.
Before you do that, you may want to listen to this audio bit so you can clearly express what is the "Steak and A You-Know-What Day!" holiday to your wife/girlfriend and not sound too stupid doing it.
Other great bits that you can listen to on the web are "Men From Maine" and the "Wallyology Report".

Good luck!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Quick'nDirty guide to ConnexTo

After having a session about mobile code scanning and ConnexTo at the Boston Barcamp2 (Thanks all attendees for coming! posting to follow) I was asked a couple of quick-beginner how-do-I questions that's worth covering real quick. This posting is not trying to discuss motivation for code scanning, but how to do it using ConnexTo.
  • creating codes: Log into ConnexTo site, where you can create code for URL, SMS, Phone Number and your contact information. (Note this is limited for non-commercial purposes). Feel free to save & use any of those codes, including sticking 'em on the back of your self-made business card :-) . MAC users: we are working to enable the site for non-IE users but its not there yet, its going to happen real soon so stay tuned.

  • Scanning codes- I am interested in downloading ConnexTo code reader application to my phone: Step 1- check that your phone is supported here. Step 2- launch your phone's web browser to wap.connexto.com. follow the download instructions to download the application. when you have the application installed, launch it (look for ConnexTo name and /or logo) and try it out. in most phones, all you need to do is aim the phone at a code and press the center button to scan. Its pretty simple, so don't be worried. check out this video on how to operate ConnexTo code reader (Thanks to Mark from Mark's Guide)

  • Scanning codes- I am NOT interested in downloading ConnexTo code reader application to my phone: step 1- take a picture of a code using your camera phone step 2- send the picture (via MMS or Email) to Go@ConnexTo.net. Our server will attempt to decode the code and respond to you (over SMS if you sent an MMS from the US, or over email if you sent an email in). Please keep in mind this service too is not supposed to be used for commercial purposes.
That's it! Try it, enjoy and tell me more about thoughts, comments and ideas it triggered.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Its about adding value

Start with a little legend someone once told me: there's this guy who meets two friends of his in the pub. the first tells him: "Your wife sleeps around". The guy walks over and hugs him, tells him: "thanks for telling me". The other friend is stunned and goes: "You're so stupid!". The guy walks over and beats the hell out of him. Afterwards, people asked him: It doesn't make sense: you hug the first and beat up the other?. He said: "the first friend is a true friend: I learned something from him, even if it wasn't good news. I can do something about it. My other friend, he didn't tell me anything useful. He didn't add any value".

Back to reality: if you're reading this, you know that I'm new to this form of electronic interaction with the outside world. Recently, a good friend had posted a complementary article about the code scanning technology. He got two comments: one was suggesting that the technology was limited, the other one was basically suggesting that another company in the space is leading it.
My approach to this is that any interaction is a good one. It means people know about what's happening in code scanning. It means that more people care, and more people get exposure. It means that everyone in the space has higher chances at getting penetration.
I think I read somewhere (was it Guy Kawasaki's Blog?) that you should complement your competition in your public interaction, as it shows two things: a- you're confident and comfortable in openly discussing issues that relate to competition in the space and b- you are open to feedback, which will make your product a better fit to market needs.
So Chase, Tom, and whoever is out there, I invite you to have a useful discussion to add value and make a difference. If all you can say is that player "A" is leading the space, then I agree, they sure are leading the space in some dimension, I'm just not sure what it is :-)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Give Pints for Half-Pints

One of the best things I found in the Boston area is the Boston Children's Hospital Blood Donor Center. This is one of the places I love to go to often. The atmosphere there is so great, you see the children and you know exactly how important it is to donate. The nurses are angels and its just a good experience.
According to the American Red Cross Blood Donation FAQ, Blood donation can save the lives of up to 3 people. Only 5 percent of the eligible population donates blood, according to the Blood Donor Center manager. Blood donations may help keep the body's circulatory system healthy by reducing stores of iron, according to a US study .

As many others, I myself am not living in the heart of Boston, so a while back, with no weekends and narrow weekday hours, it was practically impossible to get there. Well, I have good news: I've just been there last week and they told me they're now open every other Sunday, morning to 3PM if I recall correctly.

The Blood Donor Center offers a variety of incentives to get people to donate, including T-shirts, mugs, tote bags and free one-day parking passes at a Children’s garage. On Tuesdays you can even snag a free slice of pizza (Quote from "spotlight: Blood Donor Center" page).

Wherever you are, whoever you are, do yourself a favor and take a visit to the nearest blood donation center: its your way to give back to the community. And if you're in the Boston area, take a visit to the Boston Children's Hospital Blood Donor Center, its a treat! Let's earn those children's smile!
(Image Credit: Boston Children's Hospital)

Friday, March 9, 2007

We're recruiting

Its time to grow...
We're looking for a good web developer who can help us on the web technologies effort. We develop codes that, when scanned by camera phones, cool things happen. We can also do pretty neat things with the code itself.
If the words startup, mobile phones, code scanning get you excited, thinking of limitless services, then talk to us.
You got to be keen to tackle new challenges because there's plenty of those.

Here's the formal job posting, talk to us if you're the right bloke or sheila!

Nextcode is a mobile software development firm that specializes in optical barcode reading technology for camera phones. We are a startup company ,creating exciting new products that change the way consumers and businesses use mobile phones to access content, buy products, and use mobile services. We are working with customers throughout the world to introduce innovative mobile services based on our platform. Check out www.nextcodecorp.com and www.connexto.com.

We are seeking a web developer to join our development team in Concord, Mass.
This is an excellent opportunity for a talented, motivated individual who wants to be an exciting dynamic environment and industry. You will help build and deliver world-class, cutting edge technology for high profile customers .

- 2+ years of experience in web development
- Experience working with web technologies, application servers, databases, optimization & security techniques
- Advanced knowledge of Web services, Java, .Net, C# , AJAX, CSS and HTML and/or Flash
- Ability to work in a dynamic and challenging environment.
- Good team and interpersonal skills
- Strong ambition to tackle new challenges and create solutions accordingly
- Ability to work independently with minimal supervision, tackle new challenges and bring them to completion
- BS or MS in IT related discipline
- Knowledge of basic usability and UI design concepts.
- Candidates must be legally able to work in the US

Please respond to jobs@nextcodecorp.com

Couple new toys in ConnexTo Code Reader

For those of you who are using ConnexTo and are interested, there's a couple updates:
1- We've enabled "contact information" code scanning for many of the Nokia and Sony-Ericsson phones that support J2ME programmatic access to the address book. Now in plain English: you can create codes that contain your contact information codes on ConnexTo site, stick 'em on the back of your business card, web page,... and now more of your friends can scan your contact information directly from that code.
Two notes worth making:
a- keep in mind, the more information in the code, the bigger the code, the harder it is to successfully scan 'em....contact information codes are typically big ones, so add only information you must have in there, and be patient...
b- On some phones, programmatic access to the address book is restricted. You can try your application options-permissions to see if there's something blocking ConnexTo from adding the contact to your address book.

2- A nice little add-on, now when you scan a "URL code", you can also share it with your friend(s) by selecting "forward"

So, for Nokia or Sony-Ericsson phone owners, there's a new version waiting for you on ConnexTo download site.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Sabich: The best dish in the universe

Just before I relocated to the US, two friends of mine were kind enough to introduce me to Sabich. They meant to do good, but it became a torture, because I got so hooked on it, that every time I go back, Sabich is easily making it to the first place of "got to do" when I get there.

Sabich is a great combo of fried sliced eggplant, boiled egg, salad, humus, tehini, hot sauce and Amba (that Mango-taste mustard-like) in a Pita. Its really good and I recommend it. The best Sabich (IMHO) is made by Oved, who has his own Sabich language and makes the whole experience so much more than buying food. (on the right, the inside of Sabich)

For Hebrew speakers/readers, here's a great cover in Ynet, along with a video (a must-see even if you know Oved).
If you're not a Hebrew speaker/reader, that's fine too: watch this:

So if you are planning a trip to Israel, tell your cab driver this:
"Take me to Oved's Sabich" (at that point, the cab driver should know where it is, but just in case:) "it is in Giv'a'ta'im, Rehov Sirkin 7". It won't be open on Jewish holidays and weekends, but otherwise, you should see the lineup before the shop.

Visiting Israel, here's a couple other "must-eat":
1- Humus (there's so many great places, literally everyone's great)
2- Shawar'ma
3- Knafe & Baklawa (IMHO best one is in Yafo)

>This post is dedicated to Avner & Isar

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

ConnexTo at the Boston BarCamp

On March 17-18, Boston will have its 2nd BarCamp. Boston Bar Camp is "an unConference, organized on the fly by attendees, for attendees".
Unfortunately I will only be there on the 17th, and I'll attempt to get people interested in hearing a session on mobile code scanning and ConnexTo. As much as I'm enthusiastic about what ConnexTo might be able to do today, I'm more interested in other people's ideas.
Here I created a mock up personalized sticker that I'm toying with.
So if you're in the area and interested, hop in around afternoon time on March 17th, Ray and Maria Stata Center (Bldg. 32)
32 Vassar Street
Cambridge, MA 02139

And hopefully you'll get to hear a bit about mobile code scanning.
See you there!

ConnexTo on YouTube and Mark's Guide

This is so cool: Mark (the author of Mark's Guide ) had a chance to play around with ConnexTo and it certainly seems to have gotten his attention. He's not a lazy guy, this chap, and so he took his camera and created the simplest, greatest video of ConnexTo in action. Plus his own notes on the technology, titled: Nextcode's ConnexTo mobile code scanning makes entering data a snap. This post made it to the pondering primate blog!. Mark- that's awesome!
You can view the posting and see the YouTube video right here.

This is all very exciting...what's most exciting to me is that there's ever-increasing attention to code scanning and where it (w/c/sh)ould go. Every time I meet with someone I hear this new idea. Mind you, some aren't as great, but others are very cool.

Two new campaigns from Smart

I'm a little swamped these days, hence short and quick post:
Smart are keeping up the beat of interesting code-scanning based campaigns coming in, based on their product DECODE. As I keep saying, Smart are moderating the introduction of the new services such that they don't overwhelm their subscribers.

First, last Saturday Smart enabled consumers to vote for "BinibiningPilipinas" Miss Philippines through code scanning (see below). The candidate that got the most text votes got the “SMART Texter’s Choice” award. Congratulations to the beautiful winners!

Next, Smart are holding their annual "Smart Sweep" event, an event dedicated, if I understand correctly, to the local developer community. Smart are presenting their DECODE code scanning product to developers, I'm guessing they are opening the stage (good for them!) for new ideas and innovation. Here's the specific page for the DECODE product.

Thursday, March 1, 2007


Following a post on Mark's Guide (Thanks Mark!) me and a couple of friends went to hear the Google@work seminar they had today in Boston.
I have to admit, I am amazed at how Google are doing things. To me, they are really good at everything they do, which is a paradox in itself. But it's true: how many people aren't Gmail users these days?
And they had a number of winning points: Web search is something we see as obvious these days. information is at our fingertips in a fraction of a second. when people were asked to rate web search between good/moderate/bad, almost everyone raised their hands at good or moderate. but enterprise information? documents? painful sigh...
I actually took down a couple of their mantras for development:
  • FAST is better than SLOW: Develop iteratively instead of big bang ('cos your product, build to 2-year-old requirements, is gonna stay orphan)
  • SIMPLE is better than COMPLEX: self explanatory. Complex doesn't fly period.
  • And this one I really liked: ASSUME CHAOS AND DEAL WITH IT. Oh how true.
So Google are after enterprises, this is good news in itself. It contains a suite of docs+excel solutions, calendar (including collaboration, which I thought was pretty useful), Email (including your company email address, but Gmail-like interface), and others. Difficult to see how larger organizations would turn over, but bigger changes happened. Google have a free version that lacks some of the APIs, and a premier version that's $50/skull/year. Compare to any of your desktop applications: how much do those cost?
Here's a couple of notes I made to myself during the seminar:
  1. As a vision, fantastic for startups: Do you really have time and $$ for an IT staff and equipment (Exchange/backup/code control/Spam/Anti Virus...) ? (BTW, the Google guy quoted $8 of every $10 in IT budget goes on "keeping the lights on". I thinks that's not far from being true. If this Google product does well, my heart goes to the IT people...
  2. "Always connected": Well, Google are betting on this horse. Honestly, "always connected" is probably true for, if I had to guess, 85% of the workforce. But- there's those 15%. If you go into that prospect in Asia, who takes away your blackberry and puts it in a red-striped plastic bag, as you go up the elevator you realize your PPT is on Google Docs and you're unlikely to get access to the web, you're feeling kinda stupid. I'm not against the "always connected" approach, but they have to think of an additional comfortable feature that will allow you to "pack to go" the critical & backup documents you may need for the trip.
  3. Backup: I think I clearly heard it in the room: "Storage is free". Well, I got to tell you, I am far more worried about automated backup solutions than sharing excel sheets online. Show me a startup whose not scrambling for sensible backup solution. that should be a trivial task for Google
  4. And last, code (+documents) configuration management systems: Now here's one I have strong feelings about. Every software organizations either has huge mess in their code (AKA Spaghetti) because they have no configuration management systems, OR, they have a large server somewhere with 3-4 people trying to configure the heck out of it. Here's an exercise: your customer calls you because they found a bug in the (Latest-2) version software you released them. They won't take the latest code because they just spent 2 weeks integrating their stuff into it. If you don't have a configuration management system, good luck! What's my point? My point is that this is a painful issue for EVERY SW company. For those familiar with those systems (P4, VCS,...) they are done anyway on the intranet from a central server. So why not make that server a Google server??? Hey Google, I think this is a selling product, send me a check anytime :-)
To summarize, it was nice to see these things coming from Google. Not quite there for me but certainly on their way. I recommend for people to have a look at their free version, it's pretty cool.
As a small prize, some good networking awaited at the end of the seminar. I met with a couple of people and quickly demoed ConnexTo. Two of the guys were Japanese, knew the world about code scanning in Japan and had good ideas of how code scanning could be widely used in everyday life. But what I liked best is the spark in their eyes when they saw ConnexTo performing. Then they said "we gotta talk!"
That felt good :-)

Another piece from Smart's DECODE

I just came across another advertisement for Smart Decode:

Besides loving the graphics on this, the whole message is simple, clean, and inviting.
"No need to type in keywords or access codes...Scan the code and your phone does the rest"...I love it. There's more to come, watch this space...