Approaching a Minimum Viable Product - The OtherNum Prototype

I was just reading the 37signals "Signal vs. Noise" blog and they had a link to a great post by Kent Beck about the concept of the Minimum Viable Product.

The idea is really interesting because it addresses the one limited resource that you can't really do anything about: time.

I was thinking about that a lot when I first created the prototype of OtherNum. I was working on it all by myself and I have a day job and 3 kids so I didn't want to develop any features just based on my "nerd lust". I knew that the core of the service was: A phone number with a simple menu system and voicemail dropboxes. I had 10,000 ideas for features to bolt on to it. It was crazy.

So I took a step back. I built a simple prototype.

Now I've brought on a co-founder, Walter Duncan, to help with the work. We let a local Atlanta startup have a free account they could play with. We're hoping to do that with a couple more startups and then start getting to what Kent calls "Potential Fatal Answers". It goes along with the "Fail Fast, Fail Often" mantra.

So we're asking hard questions. We're seeking answers, even PFAs. If you'd like to try our service out and send us feedback we would really appreciate it!

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Funny Transcription Failure

I think he lost me at "Stay with me for a second here..."

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Zemanta + Disqus

Image representing Zemanta as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase

It's so much more fun blogging from my Powerbook. Why? Because I have Zemanta installed on it.

Zemanta is a great plugin that helps you include links to relevant images, tags and online articles about the subjects you're blogging about. I always find creative images to add to posts when I use this machine!

Also, the best thing I've ever added to my blog was the Disqus system for collecting comments. It has a lot of nify features you should check out.

For example, I get an email if someone replies to one of my posts. I can reply to that email to post a response to the comment! Also, it can tweet your reply and you can authenticate to Disqus using either a Disqus, Twitter or FaceBook account!

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Updated My Resume

I find it useful to keep my resume up-to-date after a milestone or achievement. If I don't update it immediately, I forget some of the salient details. In the past I left my resume alone for months, years and then when I needed it I had to go back in and fill in details but my memory was fuzzy.

So, having just spoken at the CableLabs conference in Keystone this week, I just updated my resume again. You can find it here. I don't have any particular need for an updated resume at the moment, but it's easier to update it with some CableLabs details than in a few months or years.

I encourage you all to update yours too. Update it now and everytime you accomplish something worth noting on it. Keep it fresh, change it up and re-visit it frequently.

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GoGo = NoGo

Wi-Fi logoImage via Wikipedia

After reading Paul Stamatiou's review I already knew what to expect of GoGo Inflight WiFi on Delta with regards to security. I wasn't prepared to do anything that required me to authenticate without SSL due to the complete lack of wireless security. I had thought I would at least check on the news, check my email (SSL of course) and a few other things.

What stopped me? $12.99 for a 3 hour flight. Subtract 45 minutes for the time when GoGo wasn't active and it's even more ridiculous. My friend Tom got a code from an attendant but he was in first class and i was in... (you know) so he tried it out and liked it ok. He's a sharp fellow though and spotted the disclaimers about security and the lack of WEP and was careful as well.

Had I had a discount code, the temptation to run wireshark might have overcome me. I think they should consider using WPA2 and providing the password to passengers interested. They could also have an open AP that allowed users only to a web page that showed the current (frequently rotated?) WPA2 password for the other SSID. Just an idea. Until they implement something like that... I'll be NoGo on the GoGo.
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Cable Labs Wrapup

Cogeco Inc.Image via Wikipedia

I'm finally home from CableLabs. It's really good to be home with the wife and kids. The conference was absolutely fantastic but it's always good to be home.

The highlight of Day 2 for me was the panel discussion on OSS/BSS problems face by MSOs. I can't discuss it too much publicly (it was a closed forum) but I can say that it was great to hear my own sentiments on many topics echoed back from a panel of VPs and SVPs from major MSOs. The discussions there dove-tailed nicely into a session on open systems and APIs and then again into our presentation at the end of the day.

I presented at the last session of the day as part of a panel that was discussing the evolution of software in the industry. Tom Guthrie had a great talk about his efforts to map processes from the eTOM model to a model of applications and affinity groups. Based on the importance of the application and its lifecycle status the applications and affinity groups are assigned a "heat" value to indicate a level of "friction" that causes the business to run inefficiently.

It was a very interesting talk and the ideas are very powerful. It will be very interesting to see that mapping process evolve over time and see what impact it has on capital investment decisions.

Our co-presenters were from Time Warner and Cogeco and they also had very good presentations on EBIF projects and their own tools consolidations.

CableLabs Summer Conference was a great experience and I'm very grateful for the opportunity to attend and present at it. I'm really looking forward to doing it again.

If you attended it and have any thoughts to share you can leave them as a comment here or find me on twitter.

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Cable Labs Day 1 Wrap Up

A little diagram of an IP address (IPv4)Image via Wikipedia

So today was my first day ever attending the CableLabs Summer Conference. There were over 1000 attendees there from the US, France, Holland, Japan and many other places. There were people from all kinds of MSOs, hardware and software vendors and even engineers from Apple and Google.

Today I attended a session on IP TV where a panel of executives from Cox, Rogers, Comcast, Time Warner and Charter talked at length about the evolution of the IP TV universe and the MSOs secret plans to survive.

The executive from Rogers used the phrase "Ultimate Disruptor" to describe the Internet. They all agreed that the disruptive power of the internet was going to completely alter the landscape of the MSO forever. It's already started! They talked about Hulu and other "over the top" providers at some length but didn't really address Boxee.

I asked about the world of the future where independent content producers no longer need a traditional network like NBC Universal or ESPN to get their content out to end users, then the value proposition of the MSO becomes only in the delivery of a fat data pipe. At that point we cease to be a "Cable Company". Right?

So then I sat in a session that was a discussion of the implementation of IPv6 by the MSO. It was a FASCINATING discussion. Seriously. I'm such a damn nerd for saying it but it's incredible the word people have put into engineering this technology.

James Woodyatt from Apple delivered a phenomenal presentation which highlighted the complexity of the transition to IPv6 and spelled out the many many reasons why it just HAS TO HAPPEN. His use of the metaphor of the revolution was great. It was a very compelling argument. I especially liked learning about the many ways that Apple has already adopted IPv6 into its products. Apple Engineering is phenomenal, creative and unceasingly brilliant. I would love to work there, with truly inspired people.

Also, Broadcom and Cisco presented as well on the various strategies for migrating to IPv6 in an environment where you have thousands of devices (millions?) that do not have a dual v4/v6 stack and can only do IPv4.

It turns out there is an ISP in France called "Free" that has a complete IPv6 backbone and they actually developed a system called 6RD

Anyway, that's it for now. I'm completely exhaused and I'm presenting tomorrow at 4:15 Mountain Time.

I'll write more about my experience tomorrow night!
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