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what i do

Web Entrepreneur William Kasel

Trip To San Francisco

The Man 9:19 pm
An awesome view of fog rolling over The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. A special thanks to Flickr user Sutanto.

An awesome view of fog rolling over The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. A special thanks to Flickr user Sutanto.

Last week I got an email from my contact at FlowGram asking me if i could fly out for an interview in the next day or so. If you do not know the history there,  I have been interviewing for this startup for a few weeks now.

So — I book my ticket for the next day at 7:00 CST, and start packing. For this I used Kayak, they are awesome! Anyway — I live in the middle of nowhere, so I had to drive an hour and a half to get to St. Louis International, halfway there my car overheats, and I’m stuck on the interestate. After the family helps me out, i get back home, and got to play the phone game — you know– the one where you call the travel insurance agency only to find out that had i wrecked i wouldn’t have to pay the change fee, but because im not in the hospital, or my car didn’t get crushed I have to dole out $150 minimum. They tell me to call CheapTickets, and CheapTickets tells me to call United, I call United and United tells me to call CheapTickets. So I tell them my story, and they transfer me to customer support. After 2 hours, and $175 I finally got to reschedule my ticket for 6:05 AM.

Now its time for a math lesson. I got home at 8ish — I spent 2 hours rescheduling — that makes it 10.  My flight leaves at 6 — it takes an hour and a half to get there, and an hour to get through security and what not, so that means i need to be there by 5, and leaving by (with a 30 minute leway) by 3. Ill need an hour to get ready, and gas up, putting me at 2. Through all the rush, it is now 10:30 — i still had to arrange a ride! So this all falls in place by about 11, to quarter after. Leaving me about 2 and a half hours to sleep. WELL I’m 20 something — I don’t need sleep. So we just go. Thats right no sleep — and an interview the next day!! We run around town, chugging red bull, and getting lost on the crazy St. Louis construction work interstates. Finally, I get dropped off at 3:30.  WOW. I have hours! Fast forward… im on the plain. I hear “We are having some minor difficulties with our navigation panel — this should only take a few!” JESUS CHRIST! Another 20 - 25 minutes goes by, and we are off — to Denver.

I land in denver, and litterally have to walk 100 feet if that to get to my next gate — cool. I go up and ask for a window seat. The woman puts me right behind First class — meaning more leg room — cool cool! I get on the plane, and as usual, I have to chat with my neighbor. Come to find out, he is the VP of Marketing for Fujitsu. KICK ASS! I talk this guys ear off. He was a really cool guy. Unfortunately I forgot his name! lol. Moving on — about to taxi, and the pilot comes on — “It uh… appears there is too much fog in San Francisco to land — we are going to have to wait for clearance — it could be up to an hour!” GREAT! Now, waiting on MOTHER NATURE! Just shoot me! Finally — we get going, and i get in to SFO only a few minutes late. Bam, back on track!

My ride picks me up — its David from Flowgram — a very cool guy. He really knows his stuff. DId i mention it was 60, and sunny in San Fran! God I LOVE the weather!

So — i go straight to the interview — I get a tour of the place — very nice, right off Market, across from Adobe.  After a few introductions we decide its lunch time, so we go to this awesome thai place.

After lunch, its crunch time. I felt like I was in a Google Interview. I had to program on the white board with a dry-erase marker. This proved to be more of a difficulty than i expected. I faired ok, but there was one problem in paticular that got me stuck (if you want to know it just email me).

Finally around 4:30 i left, and start walking down market. Had great Indian food @ Mehfil Indian Cuisine — the best Biryani I’ve had. After that, I walked down market, over to China Town, and down to Embarcadero, where I stopped at Butterfly, a trendy modern bar. I don’t know how much i paid for my drink, but the fried calamari appetizer, and a drink cost about $22. Not toooo bad, i guess it is San Francisco. The sun started to go down, and despite it being Friday night, i was cashed — i caught a taxi to Brian’s place where I stayed, and crashed. Brian was a nice fellow — the former lead front end designer for Picasa, just a bit away from his PhD, he was very bright; when I came there he was programming an iphone application just for fun. ;). Its kind of funny, his roomate worked for yahoo, and loved Google products, and Brian, working at Google, never took a liking to them. Below is a map of Friday’s route:

Saturday — I had to wake up at 6:30, Brian was going to Reno. I grabbed my bag, and walked around for a few hours. I dropped my bag off at the Four Seasons @ Union Square, and proceeded to stroll around until later that day I met up with a few old friends. First Marquis, a college friend visiting his cousin, and artist living in Oakland. Marquis is in charge of the marketing for OneCouture, the clothing line started by some Alums of my school, and good friends. After dropping his bags off at Hotel Union Square, we proceeded to have a few drinks at the Clift.

I later met up with Ben Weiss, a guy quickly becoming a close friend of mine, and my future roomate/business associate. We hung out with him and his Girlfriend in The Presidio. After he dropped her off we programmed, and talked business until later that night, when we left for a small party in the hills over Redwood City. From what I heard, we were in the same neighborhood, and in close proximity to where David Packard lived before he died. I met some cool people there, and partied till the sun came up.

The next day I left San Francisco, but I left knowing it was only a few more weeks till i was back, and it was permanent. I love San Francisco, and the culture. As one poet put it:

“It’s the indescribable conglomeration of beauty and ugliness that makes San Francisco a poem without meter, a symphony without harmony, a painting without reason — a city without an equal.” - Herb Caen, San Francisco Chronicle

Is twitter invincible?

The Man 3:09 am

Far from — Twitter, while having a brilliant idea, lacks many features, necessary for survival. In reference to the TechCrunch article posted yesterday, It really seems true that people could care less that twitter is always down, which proves the loyalty twitters userbase has. Twitter traffic remains steady

Twitter almost appears to have the Google, simplistic, thing going for it, but could that arrogance hurt them in the long run? The user base isn’t so much loyal, as it is dependent. There has yet to be something out there that takes twitter on in a really intuitive way. Of course there is identi.ca,  but unfortunately, they lack the biggest feature that keeps the tweets rolling in — the existing user base, and network. If Twitter had a way to export your followed, and followers, then we would see the end of Twitter in the upcoming months.

The network Twitter provides has even spawned comments by some of the nets top bloggers, quoting Michael Arrington of TechCrunch as saying “I now need Twitter more than Twitter needs me.” (TechCrunch, 08). It’s not the excellent service, it’s the network. Port the network somewhere else, and anything can survive.Twitter service is down

As quoted from the geek cult classic Pirates of Silicon Valley “You survive by making people need you, then when they need you they have nowhere else to go.” That is probalby the most relevent line to twitters continued success — It is both the question, and the answer. How will Twitters castle crumble?

Is the Facebook Platform a lost cause?

The Man 2:54 am

Social Media is obviously the driving force behind web 2.0, and how much better of a way to embrace social content than to open your site to developers? It goes back to the original Fast Company article on Ning, and the Viral Expansion Loop. Get members of the social graph to make something, that makes the parent node to the other nodes (people). Obviously, Facebook did this with their developers platform, and It has paid off well for them, and been highly embraced.

I have always been, and still remain the biggest proponent of the the developers platform, but it seems like the buzz is dying, and the community is being filled with garbage — usually clones, and over-simplified apps. One suggestion, and one that I always believed in, was the social graph allows good things to bubble to the top, in sort of a democratic way. But, think about first mover advantage, with companies such as RockYou, and Slide. They were able to jump in before there were anti-invite groups started to shut down the application platform all together.

The simple truth is the platofrm has been abused, and Facbook is suffering. Their grand idea is slowly slipping to commonplace. What does Facebook need? I don’t know. If they start cutting apps, then there would be an uprise, but something needs to be done. I am glad to see they are cracking down on the big dogs.

Maybe facebooks new redesign will help stop the mess facebook has with the applications, but with that set to launch July 16th, I wouldn’t expect much.

Mysterious grey box on Gmail?

The Man 1:56 pm

As posted on TechCrunch today there is a mysterious grey box on gmail? Wonder what it is? I left a few comments…

“Its the portal to the Google Flux Time Capacitor — Highly credible sources tell us Google has created a way to travel through time via their unique application system. Currently it is only available through google maps, but plans to unveil a full-scale hardware version are in talks, sources say Microsoft has already announced its version, which will take you back to windows BEFORE it crashed every 10 minutes. Our source also tells us that Steve Balmer plans to use it to re-grow his ever-expanding bald spot.”

and:

on a serious note, i think it is a google radio — they are going to allow you to listen to music via gmail, and any other google system, are they going to take on pandora?

We will see…

Here is a link to the original post:

http://blogoscoped.com/forum/134961.html

and the techcrunch it article:

http://www.techcrunchit.com/2008/07/05/the-mysterious-grey-box-on-gmail/#comment-823

What do I think it is? Well, aside from a bug, which is what it probably is, I think it is something to do with music or radio player, the id of the object is “sound_frame”. As much as I would like this to be a cool service, changes are it is just a goof.

Ohh well, better luck next time.

PHP AJAX Contact Importer Widget

The Man 3:26 am

I recently had the pleasure of completing a programming task for a job interview for a company, which I will keep nameless for now, but we can say they were on techcrunch within the past 36 hours — and they are a startup.

The position is for a web designer and front-end engineer. I have went through a lot of interviews and really enjoyed the entire process. I was given this project a while back, and decided to show you what I did in about 36 hours.

Keep in mind, I was mostly worried that this thing worked, and looked decent, so I did a few things I know I shouldn’t have done like printing html from a class, etc… but it was much, much quicker. Sorry for those architects out there.

Ok, so lets dig in… Here is the premise, I was told to make a ‘widget’ that displayed names on the left, and email addresses on the right, and when you clicked a drop down it swapped email addresses for phone numbers. I was told I get bonus points for an Ajax-ish solution, and bonus points for a database solution. Well — I did that, and went above and beyond a little more.

I decided since we were going to show emails, it might as well not just display the same emails for everybody, but it should grab your actual contacts, and populate the data dynamically. So, I used the Rapleaf Contact Importer API. You can find more info on that here… Now, that comes with a nifty PHP client library, and It also comes with a pearl library.

At this point, i hit some issue with my code highlighter, so I have decided to just give you a link to the sample, and the download of the zip.

TechCrunch Pitches — Does anyone know what they are doing?

The Man 1:34 pm

Usually Im a BIG proponent of almost anything social driven, but someone please tell me what is this crap? TechCrunch pitches. It is an awesome concept, I really love the idea, but DAMN open the doors and you get crap! Some people cannot pitch to save his/her own lives!

I ran across Maybe 2 -3 decent pitches. Even if the idea was good, the pitch sucked. Which brings me to another point. Web 2.0 as we call it, really has some crap out there. Some major suckage! Please, I do not want to use a youtube, google maps, twitter, flickr, lingr, shitr, crapr, rapr, frapr, iphone app that doesn’t offer me… well you know.

Someone please play the role of the grim reaper and do away with the dead, dying, and should-be-dead apps, and sites out there that knock off a vowel, and an r, use pastels or gradients, and call themselves web 2.0.

Now I know I may sound like a big hypocrite, considering I own several web 2.0ish domain names, and have employed the same strategies i just complained about, but seriously, there is some schite out there!

Well — thats all for me, ohh and p.s. I have a special something launching next month, you will be able to check things out at http://www.dewdl.com. Gotta love the irony of my post, and this little tidbit, lmao!

William Evan Kasel
me I am the founder of JumpFox.com, the parent company to AdDollars, a social media advertising platform with a twist, we allow users to earn prizes, and cash for people viewing the video ad on his/her profile.