The Twitterverse

Now for some Friday fun.

Here’s a neat visual of most (maybe all?) the apps that, in some way, aid your usage & experience of Twitter. The Twitterverse, as authors Jesse Thomas & Brian Solis call it.

The Twitterverse

This is just version 0.9. They’re still working on the final version.

It’s a tough job for sure. I tried to visit a bunch of the apps listed in this chart and a few did not seem to exist anymore. And new ones seem to be cropping up every day. Makes me kind of wonder how this chart could look as a living, breathing animation that is constantly updated – and perhaps done in AJAX or Flash.

Now there’s a fun project if you have some time on your hands. You could even extrapolate it into charts for other ecosystems, so to speak. Like Twitter celebrities, or popular blogs, or start-ups within a certain industry, etc.

Great work by Jesse and Brian though! I’m eager to see the final version.

Biz Idea: Electric Vehicle Battery Replacement Service

This month’s INC Magazine had an interesting article: “The Connected Car” by Bernard Avishai. The article discussed the potential of an “ecosystem of entrepreneurial businesses” that will arise to service electric vehicles. This new technology is going to need all kinds of new products and services to support it. That’s where the opportunities come in.

One such opportunity Avishai pointed out is battery recycling:

Lab tests show that, even after 10 years, Volt [Gen-1 battery] packs will still be capable of carrying 75 percent of their original charge — not enough for the vehicle, but more than enough for utilities to use as storage for bulk renewable energy. [Line director of the GM Volt Tony] Posawatz is excited: “It is easy to imagine warehouses full of used batteries sucking up wind energy and saving it for times the wind does not blow, or homeowners using the pack as backup,” he says. “For recycling entrepreneurs, this means a whole new way of doing business.”

Here’s how I would envision such a company:

Say you have an electric car whose battery is about to run out. You go to our company’s website or call our toll-free number. Then we send over a technician, perhaps behaving theatrically like the way Geek Squad’s (BBY) technicians do for their house calls. Our trained technician removes your battery, provides you with a new one, and leaves with a smile. Then the battery is resold to homeowners or other entreprises who want electric power. When one of those end users calls, our technicians will deliver the battery to them personally as well, though it could be mailed just as easily to save costs.

The benefit to customers? Convenience. They just contact us and we take care of the rest.

The benefit to homeowners or end users of recycled batteries? It’s cost-effective. They get an inexpensive, yet usable battery, plus the good feeling of knowing they’re helping society recycle.

And for doing all of this, we earn a nice profit. We charge a premium for our convenient service. Our batteries may cost extra, but we also handle the chore of recycling the batteries properly to a secondary market – earning even more revenue there.

Our operational costs would come from the website & toll-free number (and perhaps that number isn’t even necessary), the customer & product tracking software, the training classes for our technicians, the vehicles our technicians use (electric, of course!), and other basic business costs (legal, financial, marketing, etc).

Since our company is geographically-bound, we would have to market locally at first. As we streamlined our operations, we could consider a franchise model or company-owned branches throughout the country. We would aim to be a nationally-known service.

Perhaps a partnership could be struck with green vehicle service stations too, if & when those exist. Our services could be offered at such stations as a value-add service. The station can refuel, recharge, and replace your battery all in one location.

And you, as a franchise owner, get to make money with a green business! Everybody wins, especially (and hopefully) planet Earth.

Photo by: bpende

Feeling Positive About the Future

I’m feeling pretty pumped right now. Been watching lots of TED talks through their iPhone app lately. Damn good stuff.

I just watched Ray Kurzweil’s talk, “A university for the coming singularity“, where he discussed information technology’s growth being a series of S-curves that are exponential instead of linear. Moore’s Law, for example, is one such exponential trend that would fit into an S-curve. Once Moore’s Law ends (apparently around 2020, says Kurzweil), it will be replaced by another paradigm. Perhaps one governing green technology?

And speaking of green technology, this segment especially pumped me up:

…we’re all concerned about energy and the environment. Well, this is a logarithmic graph. This represents a smooth doubling, every two years, of the amount of solar energy we’re creating. Particularly as we’re now applying nanotechnology, a form of information technology, to solar panels. And we’re only eight doublings away from it meeting 100 percent of our energy needs. And there is 10 thousand times more sunlight than we need.

Eight doublings, where a doubling occurs ever two years. So in ten years, according to Kurzweil, solar harvesting technologies could be efficient enough to make all the energy we need.


On a side note, there was an article today on Techmeme that was also positively-pumping: “Could this be the end of electric power cords?” by David Colker from the LA Times. Colker writes about how the company WiTricity has been working on technology to send wireless electrical power to remote devices.

This technology is based on the work of MIT physicist Marin Soljacic, who spoke at a TEDGlobal conference in Oxford, UK. According to Colker, the technology “works on something called resonant magnetic coupling and is safe for humans. And on an environmental note, [WiTricity CEO Eric Giler] said it could not only eliminate power cords but also tons of batteries used yearly to power household devices.”

Great strides in green technology. Enough solar power to relinquish the need for fossil fuels. And all happening in the next decade or so. Oh man.

Good times are coming!

Palm Mojo Software Development Kit Available

Palm Pre Cool! The Palm Mojo Software Development Kit is now available. It looks like they have quite a few resources online too, including:

Kind of makes me wish I had gotten a Palm Pre, though I’ve heard that their App Catalog still leaves much to be desired.

Two Weeks with the iPhone 3GS

Apple iPhone 3GS It was one of those “Oh crap” moments. After a long day of work, I decided to take a dip in the hot tub under the cool evening sky. So anxious was I for that bubbly, refreshing goodness that I forgot about the BlackBerry 8800 (RIMM) in my board shorts.

Oh crap.

The next day, I went out and purchased an iPhone 3GS (AAPL). It wasn’t a quick & easy decision. I ruminated over the BlackBerry Tour, the Palm Pre, and the iPhone 3GS for quite a while. I read countless reviews and articles and opinions and comparisons about each. The reviews are generally mixed, depending on what you need and what you want in a smartphone.

As an entrepreneur, I have a pretty strict list of requirements that are mostly for business purposes. A regular phone wouldn’t suffice, so my only options are smartphones. A fair portion of my business is done while I’m away from my laptop, so my smartphone needs to double as a mini, portable laptop, basically.

Just for the record, what I need are:

  • Ability to receive and make phone calls, of course
  • Ability to type lots of potentially long emails often (a good typing experience)
  • Ability to sync up with and access my Gmail (GOOG) and Yahoo! Mail (YHOO) accounts
  • Ability to sync up with and access my Gmail Contacts
  • Ability to sync up with and access my Google Calendar
  • Ability to know where I am, look up addresses, and give me directions (GPS)
  • Ability to read RSS feeds
  • Ability to browse the web
  • Ability to set an alarm (small, but handy feature)

And my nice-to-haves are:

  • Ability to take photos
  • Ability to take video
  • Ability to play games (nice time-wasters)

I state these because your needs are almost certainly different than mine. Not all entrerpreneurs need to read RSS feeds, for instance. It all depends on what you need and what you want.

Since the iPhone 3GS has video capabilities, that tipped its scale for me. The lack of physical keyboard concerned me, but friends tell me it’s not so bad. Its plethora of apps also make it appealing. So with the iPhone I went.

That was about two weeks ago. Am I still happy with my iPhone purchase? Mostly so.

The apps are cool. No doubt about that. Useful, plentiful, colorful. They are a smorgasbord of snazz, a potpourri of power. Need something to deter you from drunk dialing your exes? There’s an app for that.

GPS and Google Maps work great on the iPhone, especially with the traffic data. Finding nearby restaurants, cheap gas stations, and wifi hotspots; publishing blog entries, tweets, and photos; reading stock quotes, RSS feeds, and news – it’s all a swish and a click away. And don’t even get me started on the awesome video capabilities. Smokin’!

I desperately miss a physical keyboard, however. My gosh do I miss one. Guess I didn’t realize how utterly useful one is. I can blaze out a long email pretty quickly with my old BlackBerry, may she rest in peace. It takes me twice as long on the iPhone.

And to compare apples to apples, after two weeks of using my BlackBerry, I was savvy with the keyboard. After two weeks of the iPhone, I’m still hunting & pecking like a n00b. With email being one of the most important capabilities that I needed, the iPhone makes me feel like I’m going backwards instead of forwards.

Does that mean I regret my decision? Naaah. I’m sure I’ll get used to this virtual keyboard in time. I’ll be keeping my eye on the BlackBerry Tour and Palm Pre though. The Pre’s app development capabilities are especially intriguing, though their App Catalog is a dial-up modem compared to Apple iTunes’ fiber optics right now.

Ultimately, I think the right phone for you is the phone that fits your criteria. The iPhone 3GS is great in some ways, bad in others — at least, for me. Same with the Palm Pre and the BlackBerry Tour, I’m sure. If you were to ask me which phone is the best for entrepreneurs, I would answer the same way most questions in life are answered: it depends. It depends on what you need and what you want.

Props to ReadWriteWeb

ReadWriteWeb I often check out Techmeme for my popular technology news. Then I’m off to Google Reader for further news.

A new realization struck me today. Every time I dig deeper into a story on Techmeme, I click on ReadWriteWeb’s related entries to get more detail. Once upon a time, Iwould turn to TechCrunch for story details & commentary. Now it’s RWW.

I’m not quite sure when RWW replaced TC, but I enjoy their longer posts, thoughtful insights, and occasional personal commentary. While I don’t always agree with their writers, it’s nice to see that personal flavor in there. They cover all the same popular topics that TC, Mashable, GigaOM, and all those guys do, but sometimes I like a longer, more in-depth article than a quick 2-paragraph “Wham, Bam, Thank you Ma’am” kind of post.

So here’s my very non-RWW, “Wham, Bam, Thank you Ma’am” post to give props to RWW’s founder Richard MacManus and his team of writers. Nice job guys!

iPhone 3GS: The Next Handheld Gaming Platform?

I wonder if this is the start of something new. Apple (AAPL)’s newly announced iPhone 3GS will have OpenGL ES 2.0 support, a 600 MHz processor and 256 MB of RAM.

Contrast that to Sony’s (SNE) latest PSP 3000: a 333 MHz processor and 64 MB of RAM. I’m not sure how it compares to OpenGL ES 2.0, anyone know? I’m also not entirely sure if these are the right specs to be comparing; if I’m wrong, please let me know.

To be honest, I’m not much of a gamer. I’ve never owned a PSP, Nintendo (NTDOY.PK) GameBoy or anything like that. But I know the handheld gaming market is huge. If Apple enters as a viable competitor, Sony and Nintendo are going to have some interesting times ahead.

I know, I know. The iPhone is much different than a traditional handheld gaming console with its buttons and controls, but perhaps game manufacturers will find a niche that works with a touch screen. Who knows?

There’s some evidence of this already. id Software and Escalation Studios recently announced Doom Resurrection for the iPhone. (BFG FTW!) No word yet on how you play the game – I assume you tap the screen to shoot the monsters? Looks interesting though.

Doom 3

John Carmack, co-founder and CTO of id Software had this to say about developing on the iPhone 3G (NOTE: not the 3GS):

I love the iPhone. It’s a real game platform, not a tiny little toy.

If you look at it in raw hardware horsepower, the iPhone should be better in performance than the Nintendo DS and the PlayStation Portable. But the truth is, you can’t exploit it all because of software inefficiencies.

I wonder how he’ll feel once he ports Doom Resurrection onto the 3GS. Carmack also mentioned that he will be speaking with Apple about improving the iPhone for game development. If Apple takes his advice and starts discussions with other game developers, well…

Methinks the future of the iPhone 3GS as a handheld gaming platform looks bright! (SPISPOPD lives!)

Developing for Palm webOS

palm pre The tech world is abuzz with the Palm Pre.

But what about developing for Palm’s webOS? I haven’t seen as much news about that platform yet. For web software developers like my agency and I, that’s what we really want to hear about.

Google Search (GOOG) to the rescue. A quick search netted me some useful information. I’ve collected it together here to offer a pre-view (har!) of developing for webOS.

Palm Pre webOS Technologies for Developers

webOS is comprised of the following developer-relevant technologies:

  • Operating system based on Linux 2.6
    • Device services (telephone, touch-screen, address book, etc)
  • UI System Manager
    • WebKit layout engine
    • DOM Level 2 event model and custom events
    • HTML5 and local storage capabilities
    • Custom DOM elements with an “x-mojo-element” attribute
    • CSS
    • JavaScript
    • Mojo Application Framework, an MVC, JavaScript-based framework
    • Prototype JavaScript library
    • Other UI services (navigation, event management, local and web searches, etc)
  • webOS Services
    • Service APIs with access to hardware capabilities (GPS, camera, audio/video player, etc) using JSON

Want to see some sample code? has some. It will give you a glimpse at a sample app, though it’s difficult to do much without an emulator. According to Palm, an emulator will be coming out with the Palm Mojo SDK, along with an Eclipse-based IDE.

A great technical overview is also available at the Palm Developer Network. They posted the first chapter of the upcoming book Palm webOS: Developing Applications in JavaScript Using the Palm Mojo Framework. Much of the info I gathered was from this free chapter.

Pandora Internet Radio’s Chief Technical Officer Tom Conrad also gave an interview about their experience developing their Palm webOS app. There are some useful insights there too.

And finally – and thankfully, Palm has declared that they will not have the same restrictions in their App Catalog as Apple does for their iTunes Store. No funky and inconsistent approval processes, just lots of apps. They’ll police the catalog a bit to weed out the most egregious offenders, but that’s about it (so they say). Cool beans.

P.S. I may be attending preDevCamp at either San Francisco or Los Angeles. Interested in going too?