April 27, 2006

Yep. Skyquake.

More news about the "mystery boom" heard and felt all over San Diego on April 4th. The scientists have spoken.

I agree with their hypothesis, that the sound originated from the west, from the ocean, and was an airburst, not waves traveling through the ground.

And as they say, not the first time. My house faces due west out to the ocean and many, many times per year one experiences sudden window shaking and the eerie sense of a pressure wave going through the house (you can feel it momentarily in your ears). Thing is, on April 4th the intensity of the shaking and the pressure wave was much, much stronger than I've encountered before.

Military's up to something, seems like. Click on the image below to see the SD Union-Tribune's map.

Posted by brian at 10:22 AM | Comments (2)

April 26, 2006

Encounter with the Chasm

I had a Crossing the Chasm moment this morning, calling in to a drive-time radio program for an on-air interview about Eventful Demand.

It all began a week ago, when the PR firm set me up with an interview at WQAL-FM 104.1 in Cleveland. Originally it was supposed to be last Wednesday, but then I was told it'd been bumped until Monday.

At 6am.

So on Monday morning I woke up at 4:30am, and figured I better not snooze some more as I'd prolly sleep right through my WQAL appointment. So, did email and some research on WQAL and Cleveland and how demands were going in Cleveland and in Ohio in general. Not surprisingly, Wil Wheaton has the lead in terms of number of demands and number of people demanding, but Jonathan Coulton has an impressive demand growing in Cleveland, and I hoped to be able to mention that on the air.

Monday, 6:00 am. I call the WQAL number I was given by the PR firm.

Ring.

"Studio," a male voice says.

"Hi this is Brian Dear calling to do the interview."

"Hi Brian this is Nick," the voice told me. (Turns out it was Nick Smalc, the morning show's producer.) "We're running a bit late, any chance we could do this tomorrow?"

Whatcha gonna do? Of course I said sure. "Sure, no problem."

"Ok great."

"Same time? 6am? Same number?"

"Yes that'd be great."

"Ok, bye."

Fast forward to 5am Tuesday morning. I'm up, doing email, prepping for the interview, checking Eventful Demand this morning, reading up some more on Cleveland happenings. Finally 6am rolls around.

Ring.

"Studio."

It's Nick. "Hi, this is Brian Dear, is this Nick?"

"Hi yeah hey Brian, we talked about this some this morning, and we wanna do this live so people can call in and ask questions." Originally this was supposed to be a recorded interview, and then they would play it when convenient. But now they decided they'd do it live, and have me explain to callers how they could use Eventful Demand to demand whatever events and performers they wished for in the Cleveland area. Cool!

"You're in the PT right?" Nick asked. Pacific Time. "Can you call back tomorrow at 8? Our time?" He couldn't quite bring himself to say 5am PACIFIC TIME.

Whatcha gonna do? Of course I said fine. "Sure, no problem, that would be fine."

Fast forward to this morning. I set my Treo to screech at me at 4:35am. It did. And I somehow snoozed for five minutes. Thank goodness the Treo chirps at you again if you don't turn off the reminder thing. The chirping woke me up and I realized it was 4:40am. Whew.

Fast forward to 5am.

Ring.

"Studio." A woman's voice this morning.

"Hi this is Brian Dear of EVDB, Inc, calling in for the interview about Eventful.com? Is Nick there?"

"Uh, he's in the studio at the moment hold on."

Suddenly I'm listening to the live WQAL-FM feed. Nice and crystal clear. Someone's reading the news. (It is 8am in Cleveland.)

The woman comes back on the line. "What's your name again?"

"Brian Dear, D-E-A-R. This is for the interview about Eventful Demand?"

"OK, let me hold up a sign on the window here at the studio, to let him know you're on the line."

I'm imagining her taking a black Sharpie and hastily writing "BRIAN DEER ON LINE 1" on a piece of paper, and holding it up to the glass, waving to Nick in the studio in a frantic effort to get his attention.

Meanwhile, I'm on hold again, listening to someone reading the news with occasional quips and comments.

And then, the woman came back on the phone. "I guess they're gonna take ya here. Looks like they're passing out the prep sheet."

I wonder what the prep sheet says? I wonder who prepped the prep sheet? PR firm? Nick the Producer? All unknown. Hope the sheet is accurate.

"Are ya ready now?" she asks.

Third time's a charm. "Sure, let's do it," I say.

"Ok hold on."

I'm suddenly on hold again, listening to a crystal clear live in-studio feed. It's so clear I can hear Allan Fee breathing at his mic while Rebecca Wilde speaks. (This is the Wilde and Fee morning drive-time show.) They're chit chatting about this and that and it's interesting to note how they slowly lead up to introducing me. You could tell they're improvising the whole way.

They brought up the fact that SPIDER-MAN III is filming in Cleveland, apparently. I thought, cool, I can use that during the interview (start a demand for Toby Mcguire to do some event in Cleveland for his fans!). They kept talking about this and that and finally they see a way to introduce the concept of "wishing".

"Making a wish. Making a wish," Allan Fee says, in his deep radio DJ voice.

"Make a wish. . . " he continues. Ok now he has a way to introduce this. "If you could make any wish in the world," he says, "what would it be? Well, believe it or not, there's a guy with a website called WWW DOT EVDB DOT COM, The Events and Venues Database, that lets you make wishes...."

Aaaaauuuugh, I'm thinking, WHY WHY WHY did he say WWW.EVDB.COM? Where'd that come from? This is all about EVENTFUL.COM. Aaaaaugh, the curse of two brands, one for B2B and one for B2C.

It was about now I realized I'm standing at the edge of Geoffrey A. Moore's proverbial chasm. I was on one side of it, me and the Web 2.0 crowd, the early adopters, the geeks, the Wil Wheatons of the world, the early adopters, and over across the chasm on the other side was the mainstream, the media, the average Joe, the moms and pops, the kids, the Myspace crowd, the AOL crowd, the WQAL listeners, the regular folks, all 300 million of them.

What are ya gonna do? Gotta roll with the punches. So he asked about what this service was, and I mentioned that the website is EVENTFUL DOT COM and that the service is called EVENTFUL DEMAND, and that it's a tool to help a local community create a grassroots campaign to bring to their city whatever performer or event they wish. The idea is if enough people push, campaign, and petition for it, hey, it might just happen!

"So what are some of the demands you're seeing?" Allan asked. (I don't have a recording of the interview yet, so this is all from memory. I hope to get an MP3 recording from Nick the Producer. If I do, I'll post it online somewhere.)

I told him about the incredible public demand for Wil Wheaton -- at the time I was on the phone, 2100 people were demanding Wil in over 120 cities around the world. Now it's at 2131 and keeps growing.

I kept trying to figure out a way to mention the Cleveland-area demand for Jonathan Coulton but couldn't work it in. Improv! Gotta go with the flow, work in a jab here, a jab there.

Rebecca Wilde smartly brought up the Spider-man III connection, and I said, "Sure! That'd be a great Demand! Get Tobey McGuire to agree to do some lecture or interview some afternoon when he's not required on the film set in Cleveland, and you have an event!"

So far nobody's posted a Cleveland-area demand for Tobey McGuire, but hey, the day's still young.

Allan asked me what were some of the other notable demands, and I remembered that Nick the Producer had mentioned the other day that he heard about the George W. Bush impeachment demand, so I figured, what the heck. "Well, we originally built Eventful Demand in the hopes it'd be a great tool for people to bring about cool arts, cultural events, celebrities, sports figures, interesting people . . . we were surprised that one of the first demands, and it's turned out to be the largest, is for the Impeachment of George W. Bush!"

There seemed to be a momentary silence from the talk show hosts. I wonder if I'd just spoken heresy or not.

"Well, that's great. Again the website is WWW DOT E-V-D-B DOT COM....," says Allan.

Aaaaaaaaaauuuugh, I'm thinking. Nonononononono, it's WWW DOT EVENTFUL DOT COM. Sigh.

Click.

Suddenly there's no sound on the other end of the phone.

Long pause.

"If you'd like to make a call," the Ma Bell lady says, "please hang up and try again. If you need help, hang up and then dial your operator...."

They hung up on me.

I called back.

"Studio."

"Hi um this is Brian Dear again. Wasn't sure if we'd lost the connection or was that it?"

"That was it."

"Oh, ok."

"They're taking calls from listeners to get their wishes," the lady says.

"Ok, thanks. Bye."

Early adopters are from mars. Mainstreamers are from Venus.

Gonna cross this chasm one way or another.

I emailed WQAL and mentioned the domain error, and I heard back in about an hour later from both Nick the Prodcer and from Allan Fee. Apparently, as I suspected, the "prep sheet" that had been passed out to the on-air talk hosts had said WWW.EVDB.COM on it. Allan said in his email that he'd gone back on the air and told people it's EVENTFUL DOT COM not EVDB DOT COM.

All's well that ends well. :-)

Posted by brian at 08:17 AM | Comments (0)

April 24, 2006

Jesse, a year later

It still feels like yesterday, but it was a year ago that Jesse passed away. I've removed all images of Jesse on my site because of all the Myspace creeps who were hijacking my server to display his photos on their Myspace profile pages.

One of these days I'll write about Jesse's last day, but not today.

We still miss you Jesse.

Posted by brian at 08:08 AM | Comments (0)

April 23, 2006

Skyquake Speculation Continues

The San Diego Union-Tribune is still wondering, as am I, what the devil happened on the morning of April 4th. (I originally blogged about it shortly thereafter.)

The article cites some witnesses who claim it felt just like an earthquake. Not to me -- in the conference room I was in, the windows of the building shook, the door shook, the walls shook, but not the floor, not my chair, not the table. Right at the moment it was happening, I thought, sonic boom -- but it went on too long. So I thought, skyquake. Definitely a skyquake.

Now, if we could only figure out what a skyquake is.

Posted by brian at 03:14 PM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2006

Eventful News

Lots of stuff going on at the Eventful.com website, which is what I've been blogging about elsewhere lately:

Posted by brian at 06:30 PM | Comments (0)

April 10, 2006

From the Mr. Potato Head School of Journalism

Just once, just once, I'd love to see a newspaper get the information right, print it right. Just once. What a miracle that would be.

I'm in today's paper in an article in the business section. What is presented there is a "phrase salad," a surrealist composition that passes as an interview until you find out this isn't how it went down at all. Instead what we have are various phrases and snippets of quotes from the interview, chopped up, stirred up, randomized and presented as fact. But the reality is, I did not say these things as the paper has printed them. Far from it.

The San Diego Union-Tribune occasionally runs a series in the business section called "Five Questions." The theory is simple: reporter asks local businessperson five questions, gets five answers. The resulting interview, again in theory, would then be edited down to something readable in the span of time it takes to go from plunging your spoon into your bowl of cereal, eating the contents on the spoon, and then taking another spoonful.

Reporter interviewed me on March 31st. Phone interview. I spoke about how the company came about, how it got funded. He mentioned he knew Esther Dyson, who was our first investor. I spoke about how the company is not just a website (Eventful.com), but also a web platform (EVDB) of data services that companies can use to build custom applications, even commercial applications. How Eventful is built on that very same platform that others can build on too.

I focused a lot on Eventful Demand, since that is the newsworthy thing right now. Explained to him the three "domains" of events we're addressing with Eventful: known, expected, and dream events. Explained each carefully. Then elaborated on how Eventful Demand addresses the third domain, how it works, why it's significant, etc. How it enables a community of fans to connect, collaborate, and campaign for a desired event by a favorite performer, and how the tools also work for the performer.

Then he asked me about the business model, and seemed to have trouble with it. "Sort of a complex business model," he told me. He had difficulty grasping the notion of how the model was one way for the Eventful site (mostly ads, with commissions from affilliate partnerships including tickets, and some other revenue from other sources, hopefully in the long run including participating in the upside for big events that come about from Demands) and another way for the EVDB API (fees for commercial usage of the EVDB API).

I kept trying to figure out how in the world was he going to turn this interview into a Five Questions article, as it seemed we'd not done five questions. I asked him how he was going to do it? Was he going to go through the interview and stitch together the various statements and essentially manufacture a 5-question interview? That's exactly what he did.

I swear, high-school students could have done a better job.

In a perfect world, he'd have written up the resulting "interview" and run it by me via email to confirm that the constructed answers somewhat resembled what I stated. Fact checking, I think that is what I studied when I studied journalism class in school. I would have caught his bizarre, out-of-context constructions (my most favorite are the "answer" to the question "What is Eventful Demand" and the fact readers will construe that the "it" in the next question, "Where did it come from," is Demand, when it is actually the idea for EVDB) and helped make them more sensible.

But it is not a perfect world.

Instead we get the Union-Tribune.

From now on I'm recording the interviews I give, and I'll run the transcripts here so readers can make up their own minds as to what was said and what was meant.

Posted by brian at 08:12 AM | Comments (2)

April 06, 2006

Shaking, Rattling, Rolling

Everyone in San Diego is talking about "the boom", a mysterious shaking felt all over the area around 8:45am on Tuesday morning.

I was at a meeting with some VCs and CEOs at the time, in law offices in Del Mar, and the place shook pretty darn good for about 5-7 seconds. Now, I've experienced this a few times in the past 18 years in San Diego. A lot of times it'd happen while I was at home, and the whole house would shake, particularly the windows -- as if there were a pressure wave. Not as if: there was definitely a pressure wave - you could feel it in your ears, ever so subtly but it was definitely there. The air pressure changed momentarily. Turns out a lot (if not all) of those experiences were due to the Marines blowing up ordinance at Camp Pendleton 45 miles to the north. And you could call them up and their public affiars office would say, yup, we've been blowing things up all day. Depending on the water density in the air, the pressure waves could be felt miles and miles away.

But the Tuesday morning boom was different. It didn't feel like a Pendleton phenomenon at all. It felt like a quake, but even then, it was clearly not coming from the ground -- but from the sky. Its duration was longer than a typical sound-barrier-breaking shock wave.

I've heard one theory that it was a meteorite blowing up in the atmosphere. I wonder if NORAD tracked anything.

Definitely strange.

Posted by brian at 05:08 PM | Comments (0)

April 05, 2006

San Diego New Tech Meetup

Been kicking this idea around ever since Scott Heiferman started the NY New Tech Meetup many web-centuries ago.

Announcing the formation of the San Diego New Tech Meetup.

First meeting will be on Tuesday, May 9th, 2006.

Goal: become a monthly event for local San Diego tech and science folks to talk about interesting projects they're working on. Focus: technical. Non-focus: marketing, bizdev. In other words, no solicitations by headhunters, lawyers, accountants, PR people, or others looking to get clients. This is about tech for techies or those interested in learning about tech stuff that's going on locally. Not just web, by a long shot: aviation tech, biotech, transportation tech, science, all kinds of technology projects.

If you're in San Diego, sign up using the link above. 1st meeting has a max of 35 RSVPs.

Posted by brian at 05:50 PM | Comments (0)

April 03, 2006

From Great to Awful in One Week

I was flipping through the channels two weekends ago and I came across a show on the IFC channel featuring Henry Rollins on stage spouting his deep loathing for the current occupant of the White House. But then he began a long, richly detailed story of his experience flying from Los Angeles to Frankfurt to Moscow, just to get on the Trans-Siberian Express train and ride it to Vladivostok, just for the experience. The resulting tale was as good as anything Theroux ever told, and yet, here was Rollins, who I was not really familiar with, telling this story alone on stage in front of a large theatre audience. And he pulled it off. Fascinating, funny, disconcerting, gross, sad, wise, and funny some more.

And when the show ended, IFC ran an ad for Rollin's upcoming weekly series, The Henry Rollins Show.

It aired this past Saturday night, and featured, in addition to some awful monologues from Rollins himself, an interview with Oliver Stone, and a performance by Sleater-Kinney. Sleater-Kinney were great. The rest of the show was beyond abysmal. It lacked all of the energy of the live performance I'd seen the week before. One big problem: Rollins is trying to do Charlie Rose, and it doesn't work. He needs a live audience. In the deadened studio, with too many camera angles, the whole thing is awkward and bad television. I could not believe how badly this show stunk. Whew. I doubt it'll last the whole season.

Posted by brian at 08:49 AM | Comments (3)

50 Greatest Indie Films

At least according to EMPIRE, the film magazine. Out of the 50 greatest indie films, I was chagrined to discover I've only seen 41. And I thought I was a film fanatic! Oh well. Must see the rest.

Posted by brian at 07:37 AM | Comments (1)
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