Archive for June 2007

Got Robots?

May I Help You

Had a great time hanging out at the Robogames this past weekend in San Francisco. I took my boys Jack and Will and we saw all kinds of cool stuff. Will liked the R2D2 robot the best I think.

If you want to see my shots from the event, check out the Robogames 2007 tag on Zooomr.

Davis Freeberg also has a cool video robot fight from the event as well, check out this cool Vimeo infowidget on one of Davis Freeberg’s photos.

Scott Beale also has some great photos of the event and a video from the event for Laughing Squid over here. And more photos from Lane Hartwell for Wired here.

Vimeo and YouTube on Zooomr

YouTube Infowidget on Zooomr

Check it out. You can put YouTube and Vimeo videos on your Zooomr photo pages now.

Wow, Zooomr Won a CNET Webware Award

Zooomr Wins CNET Webware Award

[I’m CEO of Zooomr]

Wow. Zooomr won a CNET Webware award!

From CNET: “The “Webware 100” Awards recognizes the best Web 2.0 sites, services, and applications that are leading the next wave of innovation. After receiving more than 5,000 nominations for inclusion in the Webware 100, our editors selected the 250 finalists. But the Web’s users made the final cut, voting nearly half a million times to select the 100 top products (10 each in 10 categories) from our list of 250 finalists.”

You can see a complete list of all of the winners here.

Yahoo Says Terry Semel Resigns as CEO

Google, Er, Yahoo Car Needs a Bath

[I’m CEO of Zooomr]

Wow. Those words “Yahoo Says Terry Semel Resigns as CEO” just ran across my Bloomberg terminal 10 minutes ago. Apparently Jerry Yang is going to step in as CEO and Sue Decker’s stepping in as President. The stock’s up 5% in the after market.

I can’t say that I’m really surprised by this. I’ve been a critic of Semel’s for a while now. More recently Semel came under a great deal of fire from Yahoo shareholders for his enormous pay package.

Last week I posted on Semel and particularly expressed concern over his whopping $71 millon plus pay package last year. According to the Associated Press this was more than any other CEO amongst 386 publicly held companies covered in the Associate Press analysis of nation’s top corporate paychecks.

Semel also has been accused of taking well over $400 million in his tenure from Yahoo coffers, despite lackluster stock performance and a blistering pounding in market cap as compared to rival Google. While Semel helped propel the company out of the great bear market of 2000-2002, in more recent years the company has lagged their competitors.

As far as I’m concerned I say good riddance. In my opinion Yahoo has over the past 3 years built an absolute all star line up of social media properties. They got many of the right pieces but could never execute on their vision of social search. Furthermore I believe that not only have they not executed on a vision of social search, but that they have bungled the communities that they have purchased and actually done more harm to the company than good.

Anecdotally, almost everyone I’ve talked to about Yahoo has expressed to me that the company is a wreck. That people are unhappy. That executives are leaving. That bureaucracy reigns supreme and that almost nothing can get done in the current environment. While there may be lots of reasons for this, at a certain point you have to look at your CEO and ask yourself if he is not in fact part of this problem. And this is what it would appear Yahoo has done today.

Hopefully with Semel’s departure Yahoo can use this as a catalyst to restore much of the beating that they’ve taken in public opinion recently. Their rejection last week of a shareholder anti-censorship proposal. The ongoing negative press that they continue to receive over their role in the jailing of Chinese journalist Shi Tao. The recent bout of censorship at Flickr. Hopefully Yahoo uses this departure to reposition the company as advocate for human rights. As anti-censorship. As the community powerhouse that they really could become.

Google is smart. For all the crap they get sometimes for the “Don’t Be Evil” thing, it’s carried them a certain distance as well. Paying Semel all that money was probably evil. Helping to jail Shi Tao was evil. Rejecting last weeks anti censorship provision is evil. Yahoo needs to take this opportunity to redefine who they are as a corporation, learn from their recent mistakes and emerge a better corporate citizen — one worthy of the respect of the communities that make up much of the Yahoo empire today.

Official PR release here.

Photowalking in San Francisco This Friday Night at 6pm

With Apologies to Eddy for Ripping Off Yet Another One of His Shots

Kristopher Tate and I are going to hang out on this coming Friday night and shoot the Haight. If you live in the Bay Area or are visiting the Bay Area come on out and join us. Bring your camera, your tripod and any other cool gadget gear you’ve got and we’ll photo geek out.

We’ll meet at the corner of Haight/Ashbury and wander around shooting in the Haight and maybe grab some drinks afterwards.

Date: Friday, June 22, 2007
Time: 6 pm
Location: Corner of Haight and Ashbury in San Francisco

Looking forward to seeing you all there and catching up in person. There is an page for the event here if you want to RSVP.

Lights My Candle

Lights My Candle

The Making of the Zooomr Stickers

Zooomr Sticker Making from RandyMan on Vimeo

Randy Carranza, or Randyman as he is better known on Zooomr, printed up tons of Zooomr stickers for us free of charge. He will send you a batch of 150 of them for the postage/handling. You can check it out and order here.

It’s amazing what a strong community has emerged from Zooomr. It’s people like Randyman that make community happen. He’s a hero. Check out his video above on the making of the Zooomr sticker.



Update on the Censorship Problem on Flickr


[I’m CEO of Zooomr]

Well yesterday felt kind of weird for me. I think it was the first day in about 2 years that I didn’t upload any photos to Flickr. I’ve been a pretty fanatical user there uploading typically 5 to 10 photos every single day. The last photo I uploaded there was on Thursday though and I haven’t uploaded another one since. I’m pissed at Flickr right now and so as much as I enjoy sharing my photos there I just didn’t feel like uploading any. I’m sure I’ll upload photos there again, but maybe not until they work out this massive censorship problem with their site.

I think also for the first time this past week my feelings may have turned more personally bitter against the site. Having people from Yahoo attack me and Zooomr anonymously in the blogosphere without disclosing their affiliation. Being censored at Flickr yet again in a help forum. The irony of having to look at a little “Flickr Loves You” bug at the top of my photo pages when it probably really should read “Flickr Hates You” in my case, etc.

It’s weird, even though I decided to work on Zooomr, I’ve always felt very good about Flickr and especially the people who work on Flickr before this past week. Sure I’ve been critical of Flickr, and I was critical of Flickr before joining Zooomr, but I always felt mostly positive about the site and service, especially from a user perspective. Anyways, hopefully it was just a particularly rotten week and I’ll feel differently soon. But I probably won’t be uploading any more photos to the site until the censorship thing in Germany is fixed.

So back to the censorship in Germany thing. It’s actually beyond just Germany, but the latest update from Flickr staff is this:

“The decision to change the Flickr experience in Germany was never about censorship – it was made to try to ensure that Yahoo! Germany was in compliance with local legal restrictions. In fact, we’re all getting really uncomfortable that the words “flickr” and “censorship” are being jammed together with increasing frequency because that is _so far_ from the direction we’re trying to move in.”

There’s a lot more to it than just this and you can read a lot more of the back and forth details on the situation at the official Flickr forum thread on the issue here. There are almost 2800 comments (minus my deleted and censored ones) there now mostly from Germans who object to being treated like they are children and cannot see much of what is on Flickr — despite the fact that Flickr staff says that they don’t want to treat them like children.

I dunno. For what it’s worth I’m not buying the legal defense thing here. I mean the censorship thing was turned on overnight. Germany went from being uncensored one day to being censored the next. Certainly Yahoo has lots of smart lawyers and I can’t believe that they were putting themselves in harms way for so long before this. If I were Yahoo I’d probably just revert Germany back to how it was before until they get their legal ducks in a row and then turn the German localization back on then. I’m sure it’s not as simple as this, but I would think that the risk that they had before they flipped the localization switch really probably wasn’t that great and that another month or so of that risk probably wouldn’t end up with anyone in jail until they can get whatever system plans they need to get worked out. I seriously doubt that the German government would put anyone in jail in fact simply for offering an uncensored photo sharing site. Maybe I’m wrong and Yahoo got a letter or something from the German authorities threatening them. But if this is the case if it were me I’d make a letter like that public and use it to reinforce my position.

I also find it offensive that Flickr keeps trying to dismiss censorship. In Flickr’s current official response Heather Champ says that this issue with Germany was “never about censorship,” and yet it is censorship. This is similar to official language used by Flickr before when they tried to argue that censorship on Flickr could not be considered censorship because we agree to terms of service on the site. That’s lame. I think rather than trying to dismiss this as not being censorship when it very much is, Flickr should just say, yes, we’re censoring Germany at the present time but would rather not be and are working on a way to get it fixed. To try to dismiss that this is about censorship just makes people more mad I think.

Anyways, that’s my two cents.

The mainstream press of course has finally picked up on this story. You can now read about it in places like CNET, Wired, The International Herald Tribune, Forbes, and from TV websites from affiliates of Fox and CBS.

I’ve read an awful lot of articles, stories, comments, blog posts, and heated debate all over the internet about this issue over the past week. I think the best summary of the current situation though that I’ve seen on the internet yet comes from Pierre Honeyman. Pierre is someone on Flickr that I respect a great deal. He’s a great photographer but he’s also been a staunch anti-censorship proponent. You can read Pierre’s thoughts on the matter here. Be warned that you may find some of the language in Pierre’s post offensive:

“I find the lack of response from Flickr interesting. It seems that when problems are easy Flickr staff are quick to jump in, solve them, and be all friendly and communicative about them. When problems are hard the opposite appears true: rather than communicate Flickr staff clam up and appear to be doing nothing. As a result large segments of the community feel condescended to.

Flickr is much less of a community than it used to be, and I’ve only been here just over 2 years. Flickr has always been absolutely lousy about communicating to users certain decisions they may feel somewhat icky about, like the old NIPSA system, and the current silent setting of accounts to be “unsafe”, but this is fucking ridiculous.

Four entire countries, well three and a city, are now being told that they aren’t adult enough to handle all of what Flickr has to offer, despite handling it just fine up until a few days ago. And then Heather, the Community Manager, has the gall to pop in sometime yesterday and cry about the terms Flickr and Censor being used together: well suck it up crybaby, because Flickr is acting as a Censor in a very strict interpretation of the term. Flickr is, on behest of the State, determining what is permissible for their customers to view.

And, Flickr is doing it in an incredibly hamfisted way.

We were all assured that using Yahoo! sign-ons wouldn’t effect our Flickr experience in any way. But now those self-same Yahoo! sign-ons are being used to determine, inaccurately, who is to be censored.

This decision is couched in terms of business, but it feels like a gutless sell-out that only predicts less, not more, community building in the future. There appears to be a widening gap between what users consider to be their interests and what Flickr considers to be their users interests, and Flickr doesn’t appear to
be paying any attention to this. People came here because Flickr had soul: Flickr felt different and open, and fun, and edgy, and there was a lot of really cool stuff going on. People stayed after Yahoo! because people were assured, time and time again, that “nothing would change.”

So Flickr either has to go back to Yahoo! and take their fucking balls back or admit that they are no longer in control, creative or otherwise, of what was once theirs.


On digg here.

On reddit here.

Sony Ericsson Announces 5 megapixel Cyber-shot Phone

Sony Ericsson develops its camera phone range with a 5 megapixel Cyber-shot™ phone and a snapshot clamshell, 14 June 2007�-�Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications: About Us – Press Room – Press release – Sony Ericsson

From Sony’s press release: “Beautiful images – The 5 megapixel camera with auto focus and Xenon flash produces true digital camera results. Even if you are not an expert photographer, the K850 does everything to help you get the best possible shots on your phone. Photo fix automatically improves light balance in one click to make your picture as good as it can get. When taking a picture of a moving object, for example at a sports event, you can select BestPic™ and take nine pictures in one burst. Then simply choose the best and delete the rest.”