Filed Under (Internet, Rants, Social Media) by Sean on July-23-2009

I am so sick and tired of classmates.com’s bullshit I decided to write a quick blog post about it. My biggest gripe about it is the fact that you cannot read your own guest book that others sign without paying for a Gold membership. This flies smack-dab in the face of what social networks are all about. Having grown weary of this charade after not being able to read several guestbook entries compounded by the spam I’ve received from classmates telling me someone has left a note and that I have to pay to retrieve it, I decided to update my classmates.com profile page. I assumed that I could provide at least a modicum of contact information, such as a blog link, or even links to other social network profile pages. Nowhere is there a predetermined place on your profile where you can enter such contact information. I decided instead to create an entry on my “Bulletin Board” (equivalent I suppose to Facebook’s Wall).  Here’s what I wrote:

Find me on facebook or my blog. I do not check classmates.com since they want you to pay in order to read what people have written you. Find me on Facebook at http://facebook.com/maslowbeer or my blog at http://seanstoner.com. Thanks for stopping by!

Immediately after submitting the bulletin board post, the site displayed a notice that my post had been hidden because I included website addresses, personal contact info or innapropriate language. So, I obfuscated the website addresses using the typical facebook dot com slash maslowbeer scheme. Seems classmate’s programmers have been very busy in detecting these schemes due to all the incredibly harmful content that has been posted such as links to facebook, because it detected these as links as well. The notice also told me that classmates.com was trying to create something that was “friendly for everyone.” Right.  Included was a link for me to submit the post for manual review by their “Content Policy Team” with a field for me to enter additional comments. So I took advantage of that and sent them this comment:

Seriously – every social network allows you to include contact information so people can find you and learn more about you. That’s the whole point of social networking. But, you choose instead to extort money from people to read what people have sent you, and add insult to injury by not allowing me to put up links to my profile on other networks or my personal blog. Your reasoning “to make classmates friendly for everyone” is complete and utter bullshit. I hope you guys get with the program. There’s a reason facebook is worth several billion dollars as a free site and your chicken-shit site isn’t. Finis.

It should be entertaining to see what their Content Policy Politburo has to say in response. I will post it here when I receive it!

Does everyone else hate classmates.com as much as me? Share your story in the comments below!

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Filed Under (Geekstuff, Life, Technology) by Sean on March-13-2008

This is my first blog post (of many, to be sure) about South by Southwest interactive, a large media and technology conference in Austin, Texas. This is the second SXSWi I have ever attended, the first having been 10 years prior, when I was a panelist on one of the first interactive panels ever, covering successful entrepreneurs under 30 and lessons learned. Boy has SXSWi grown!! I really had no idea as to the magnitude of the interactive portion of the conference; had I known, I would have been a veteran by now. Suffice it to say, I will not miss another.

I’m going to keep this initial post very short since I just got back to Houston and am tired as hell and need a few days to recoup and recall everything. For the sake of brevity, I’ll highlight some things I learned about SXSW, in no particular order of importance:

  • twitter is essential to knowing what is going on and where it’s happening
  • beer is served promptly starting at 3 pm in the bloghaus (critically important)
  • the numerous parties are on the schedule until 4 am and very much a part of the event (as are flash mob parties through twitter)
  • you know people more by their twitter handle than their real names
  • you don’t sleep; show up with a huge sleep surplus or bring some Provigil
  • the tone of the conference is irreverent and raw; people cuss during sessions and keynotes
  • bring comfortable shoes
  • bring extra phone batteries or have your charger with you (twitter drains it quickly through SMS if you’re tracking a lot of things)
  • don’t track “zuckerberg” through twitter and SMS during his keynote; your phone will experience epic fail
  • hallway conversations are as important (or more so) than sessions
  • network and get to know as many people as possible (I failed a little bit in this regard due to severe sleep deprivation and my usual shyness, or “closet extroversion” as Dan Light brilliantly put it – not next time!)
  • take business cards with you next time, dumb ass!
  • Guy Kawasaki is the most kick-ass, easy going, VC ever. Period.
  • Hugh MacLeod got a kick out of my last name (but added I didn’t look like a stoner . . .)
  • spend lots of time in the bloghaus blogging, playing guitar hero, eating, drinking and tweeting
  • you drink a lot (no really, a lot)
  • keep your laptop charged at all times!
  • Macs outnumber PC laptops 30 to 1 (at least)
  • twitter!! (again) – it is an important back channel, or the conversation of the collective consciousness
  • don’t let Sarah Lacy interview you if you’re doing a keynote and you’re a young billionaire
  • even if you don’t own a computer and can’t spell blog, this conference is still the deal of the century with all the great people, films, venues, music, booze and food you can enjoy
  • Geek and good-looking are not mutually exclusive (quite the contrary methinks, especially when you’re doubly turned on by someone with looks and brains)
  • the conference is completely casual and everyone is approachable no matter their status

I could go on and on. I have many post motifs drafted from the conference which I will flush out soon, once my sleep patterns have recovered and my long term memory is functional. In the meantime, I urge everyone to read Daniel Light’s most kick-ass post about the show. I think it nails it on the head. Until next time!



Filed Under (Geekstuff) by Sean on March-7-2008

The guys at Common Craft have done it again. Trying to explain to people what twitter is is pointless. They look at me like I’m growing two heads. I’ll admit, when I first heard about it, I thought it was the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard. Now, however, things are different. Very different. I’m a non-stop twittering machine! I find it serves a social purpose and a business purpose. It helps you develop the brand that is you, and keeps friends posted on what is going on in your life. Likewise, it allows you keep up with others whom you may find interesting. You may be following someone with which you share interests, or someone who’s an expert in a field of interest. Perhaps you want to follow an up to the minute news source or a presidential candidate. It also can notify followers of updates to your blog as well as update your blog with your tweets (twitter messages are called tweets) in real time (see Nanoblog in the right column). Enough of my piss poor explanation – on with the video!



Filed Under (Business, Technology) by Sean on February-18-2008

I thought this post was very interesting, especially given the fact I told my dad he should think about using a blog for his university classes that he teaches. The thought was he could put his syllabi, curriculum, assignments, learning material, tips and much more in a well-suited environment. And he wouldn’t even need to learn HTML (to date he has created online content in MS Word and uploaded the file after saved as HTML; we know what that markup looks like)! It makes perfect sense to me.

I co-founded an online backup company a couple of years ago which targets schools throughout the country to back up their data. As I traveled around to all the big trade shows to see the latest technology tools available to teachers and the education marketplace, I left feeling much of it was the same old, rehashed stuff. In fact I was actually involved several years ago in funding and launching an e-learning company that had a different twist to address this void. Unfortunately our timing was really bad (though there were certainly other issues as well) and it closed its doors. I really think OpenCourseWare built around the WordPress core makes tons of sense. It’s extensible, scalable, and easy to use. I will be keeping an eye on their progress . . .



Filed Under (Geekstuff) by Sean on February-15-2008

So, my Dad asks me, “What the hell is a blog anyway?” I found this great video, courtesy of Common Craft, explaining blogs in plain English. If you don’t see the video below, you can view it directly at http://www.commoncraft.com/blogs.