Son of a son of a sailor unrelated to son of a stockbroker-turned-Congressman

Not exactly earth-shattering news, but I will concede that I had at times wondered if Warren and Jimmy Buffett were related. CNN Money today reports that DNA analysis has confirmed that, alas, the Oracle of Omaha and the Minstrel of Margaritaville are no more closely related to each other than they are to me.

Does this mean they have to include me in their wills?

On a related note (pun unintentional), I’m off to Marseille this weekend for a little nautical mischief of my own. Unfortunately this means I’ll miss the All Blacks v France and the first race of the Louis Vuitton Cup final, but I’ll live. I hope. At least I got the tunes sorted.

By the way – is it just me, or is YouTube having major service issues lately? I can’t remember the last time I viewed a clip without the infuriating stop-start-stop-wait-ok-start-now malarky. With the recent addition of Google-like suggestions in YouTube search results (click here for example) it’s clear they’re still developing the product – I just hope they’re improving the video delivery technology too, ‘cos this is really starting to get on my nerves!

Facebook kicks it up a notch

Feeling pretty humble right now. As far as this whole crazy Interweb-thingy is concerned, I like to think that I’m pretty well traveled. I read a lot, subscribe to all the best RSS feeds, spend waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much time dicking around online, and even – get this – think about what I see and formulate my own opinions and conclusions.

Sometimes I even flatter myself with a little insight, and truth be told I credit myself with having predicted some of the cooler developments in the space of late. Hell, I even included some if my picks for the big moves of this year in my current CV.

Soooooo… imagine my dismay when I tuned in to CNN Money (via Techmeme) this morning and read about the latest developments at Facebook:

No longer will Facebook consider itself merely another social network. Instead it is becoming a technology platform on which anyone can build applications for social computing.

The short version is that Facebook is taking its two major assets – its 24-million-members (growing at about 150,000 per day) and its strong technology underpinnings – and making them available to all comers.

“We want to make Facebook into something of an operating system so you can run full applications,” (Facebook founder and CEO) Zuckerberg told me, saying it would be analogous to the platform that Microsoft Windows provides for developers. Outsiders can now develop Internet services on Facebook’s infrastructure, he explains, that will have full access to all its members. Just as it is when someone writes a program for Windows, programmers won’t need any permission from Facebook or any special business relationship with the company.

How did I not see this coming? It makes so much sense!

This is so cool and so ground-breaking that I hardly know where to start. Let’s start with the obvious: Remember all those rumors circulating recently about a possible trade sale of Facebook? I won’t speculate on the if/who/when question, but it’s clear that the ‘how much’ has just gotten a whole lot trickier. Why?

Yesterday Facebook was a popular and lucrative social networking website. Today it is the centre of its own industry – an industry in which many (currently 65, but surely soon to number in the hundreds) companies have a clear interest in adding value and attracting users to that site.

This immediately reminds me of SalesForce.com. Never heard of them? Here are a couple of mentions they’ve had in recent weeks:

Salesforce.com Announces Record Fiscal First Quarter Results. First Software-as-a-Service Company to Exceed $600M Annual Revenue Run-rate. Company Raises Full Fiscal Year ’08 Revenue Guidance. Record Revenue of $162M, up 55% year-over-year, surpassing company guidance. Record Q1 Operating Cash Flow of $37M, up 197% year-over-year.

Google, Salesforce.com Discuss Alliance. Although details are still being negotiated, the alliance would most likely involve blending Google mass-market applications like instant messaging, word processing and spreadsheets with Salesforce.com’s business programs for managing customer relationships. Founded near the height of the dot-com boom in 1999, Salesforce.com now boasts 32,300 customers and is expected to generate than $700 million in revenue this year. Benioff expects Salesforce.com’s revenue to top $1 billion next year. Salesforce.com’s success has helped the company’s stock price more than quadruple from its initial public offering price of $11 nearly three years ago.

Oooooooooooh! That SalesForce.com? Yup. We started using SalesForce at Marker about 2 years ago, following a long and grueling evaluation process. As far as CRM systems go it’s got pretty much everything, including a subscription model – which is an obvious plus if you don’t have gazillions of cap-ex dollars lying around. However, two key factors put SalesForce over the other systems:

  • Flexibility. Love the system but it doesn’t do 100% of what you need? No problem – you can build your own modules using their API.
  • Supporting industry. Because it’s an open system with lots and lots of users, this presented an immediate opportunity for developers – build custom SalesForce modules and sell them to SalesForce customers. As such, product development is accelerating at an incredible rate. Too cheap / lazy to commission a custom module? No problem – just check out the AppExchange.

I’m drifting from the point a little bit here, so let’s get back to it: SalesForce.com experienced astonishing growth as the result of a similar strategy to that just announced by Facebook (building a supporting industry). Given that none of Facebook’s competitors seem in any way positioned to follow, my money points to a period of phenomenal growth and soaring profits for the former darling of the college scene. If Yahoo! is still waiting in the wings with check-book in hand, the $750 million initially rumoured won’t even get them a call-back now.

I could be mistaken. But I doubt it.

Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories

Dave Chappelle is without a doubt the funniest bastard I’ve seen in a long (long!) time, and his show on Comedy Central is truly brilliant. Every now and then he has a segment where Charlie Murphy comes in and tells true stories about his experiences hanging out in L.A. with his brother Eddie. Of these, perhaps the best-known is the infamous ‘I’m Rick James, bitch!‘ sketch.

The clip below is … screw it – no introduction can do it justice. Behold – the ‘Shirts vs Blouses’ incident (a.k.a. Prince punks the Murphy boys).

[dailymotion id=5IPDdKjy4b2JD9GFW]

Any coulrophobics in the house?

Since leaving NZ I’ve seen my fair share of … erm… ‘urban outdoorsmen’, but this guy has to be the creepiest by a country mile. If you’re ever passing though Soho and have an abnormal fear of clowns, make sure you stay the hell away from Golden Square at lunchtime.

In case you’re wondering, the ‘clowns‘ link above shows my brother Dave and some friends at a Halloween party in Chicago last year. If it isn’t quite obvious…

  1. Dave’s dressed as ‘Pogo the Clown‘, aka Chicago serial killer John Wayne Gacy. I have to admit the outfit is pretty much bang-on, right down to the red eyes.
  2. Gary, the guy in the middle (also a Kiwi), is dressed as Steve Irwin – surely the costume of 2006 (apologies to Bill Maher, who probably thought of it first. Actually, fuck Bill Maher – he hasn’t been funny in a long, long while. Ok, maybe a little funny).
  3. Like I said – they breed ’em classy round our way.

Latest Stats on Internet Porn

Thanks to Michael Arrington of TechCrunch for highlighting this one.

NSFW*

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOFTQpNhsWE]

The stats are pretty interesting, but I’m probably more impressed with the presentation concept / format than anything else. That’s ‘impressed’, not ‘turned on’. Seriously, just when I think I’ve seen about everything someone comes along and raises the bar. Tell me you didn’t watch to the end of the video. Would you have done so if it was a PowerPoint presentation? Kudos.

*Ok so it’s not too risque IMHO, but I thought it best to give you fair warning. You never know when your boss is going to turn out to be like this crazy bastard.

Situations Vacant

Wanted: Copywriter for vending machine company.

Spotted this weekend on a vending machine in a restroom in South London:

I know some people think that condoms are passion killers, but this about takes the cake doesn’t it?

You’re the best!

Don’t ask me why, but for some reason I’ve had this song stuck in my head for about a week now. And now I give it to you.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fua0g13djo]

You’re welcome.

What’s your party trick?

A friend of mine grew up on a farm, but went to a fairly typical high school close to the city. When he was about 14 the school fair came along, and everybody was required to put on some kind of talent piece. Some kids danced, others sang or played an instrument, my friend led a lamb out into the arena and gave a home-kill demonstration. That’s right folks – slaughtered, skinned, butchered and in the freezer in something like 10 minutes.

That might sound pretty wierd to some (personally I think it’s piss-funny, especially when I imagine the likely reaction of the audience), but to anyone who grew up in farming, wierd is knowing how to play Stairway to Heaven on the ukelele but being incapable of putting dinner on the table.

Anyhoo, talent is talent, and I must admit that sometimes I can’t help but feel a little lacking in that respect. Sure I can tie a cherry stalk in a knot with my tongue (closely related to one of my other gifts) – but there’s nothing there that’s going to get me a spot on Letterman any time soon. This guy, on the other hand…

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-prfAENSh2k]

Pointless? Yup.
Stupid? Probably.
Dangerous? Who are you – his mother?
Cool? Absolutely!

So what’s your party trick?

Twitter = a bunch of arse?

I have a confession to make. It ain’t pretty, but I know I’ll feel better for getting it out there. ‘Tell the truth and shame the devil’, as my grandmother used to say (before the Alzheimers took over and we had to stick her in a home, but that’s a story for another day), so here it is…

Is it just me, or is Twitter a bunch of arse? This isn’t a rhetorical question – I really want to know ‘cos I just don’t get it!

I’d like to think I’m pretty well informed. I followed the buzz when Twitter launched, read numerous reviews and articles, subscribed to their blog’s RSS feed, signed up for a trial account – hell, I even used it for a while. You set up a user account, then link up with your friends. By sending a text message to Twitter you can forward that message to your friends, and also post the message to your Twitter ‘blog’. So you can post to a blog using a mobile phone. Is that it?

As far as I can tell, you can’t include images, audio or even hyperlinks (ok you can include hyperlinks, but with difficulty) in Twitter posts, and text content is subject to the usual SMS limitation of 140 characters. As such, here is a selection of ‘quality’ posts published via Twitter in the past few minutes:

Leaving the dentist. No cavities. Booyah!

Sucking down a Caribou Ice Mocha Coffee. Yummm (as Furby would say)

Yet again, it is far too cold for this to be May.

I know what you’re thinking, so let me save you some time – the Pulitzer nomination forms can be found here.

I know that several luminaries, including Rob Scoble really dig Twitter in a big way, and I’m possibly making an ass of myself here. So can somebody please do me a favour and fill me in , ‘cos right now all I can say is ‘The Emperor has no clothes!’

*update*

About 2 minutes after I posted the above, Rob Scoble published some observations on the growth of Twitter vs Blogger. Some interesting points in the source article and related comments. The latter link is actually really enlightening, but I’m still not convinced.