Six Thinking Hat - Six Colors to tracks the thoughts

Every engineer knows that meetings are the most time consuming at the same time least productive in most cases. Most of the problem comes from arguments and power struggle between managers or engineers. Recently, I've been reading the book on Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono which addresses these issues.

The main train of thought about this is to have everyone in the meeting focused on one thing at the time to optimize and harness the group thoughts at the same time avoid any collision between members. By notation of color of the hat, everyone need to shift their thought process one way or another. It does require participation from each members to make this work but when the members get it, you can speed up the meeting time and the outcome will be much more productive.

For your reference:
Six Thinking Hats
de Bono Hats from Wiki
Six Thinking Hats® How to Think Your Way to Success

Quote of what each hat represent.

* White Hat:
With this thinking hat, you focus on the data available. Look at the information you have, and see what you can learn from it. Look for gaps in your knowledge, and either try to fill them or take account of them.

This is where you analyze past trends, and try to extrapolate from historical data.

* Red Hat:
'Wearing' the red hat, you look at the decision using intuition, gut reaction, and emotion. Also try to think how other people will react emotionally, and try to understand the intuitive responses of people who do not fully know your reasoning.

* Black Hat:
When using black hat thinking, look at things pessimistically, cautiously and defensively. Try to see why ideas and approaches might not work. This is important because it highlights the weak points in a plan or course of action. It allows you to eliminate them, alter your approach, or prepare contingency plans to counter problems that arise.

Black Hat thinking helps to make your plans 'tougher' and more resilient. It can also help you to spot fatal flaws and risks before you embark on a course of action. Black Hat thinking is one of the real benefits of this technique, as many successful people get so used to thinking positively that often they cannot see problems in advance, leaving them under-prepared for difficulties.

* Yellow Hat:
The yellow hat helps you to think positively. It is the optimistic viewpoint that helps you to see all the benefits of the decision and the value in it, and spot the opportunities that arise from it. Yellow Hat thinking helps you to keep going when everything looks gloomy and difficult.

* Green Hat:
The Green Hat stands for creativity. This is where you can develop creative solutions to a problem. It is a freewheeling way of thinking, in which there is little criticism of ideas. A whole range of creativity tools can help you here.

* Blue Hat:
The Blue Hat stands for process control. This is the hat worn by people chairing meetings. When running into difficulties because ideas are running dry, they may direct activity into Green Hat thinking. When contingency plans are needed, they will ask for Black Hat thinking, and so on.


Useful Website Gathering for your everyday life!

In the midth of all the information highway through internet, you can waste your time trying to find what you need. However, following site gathered useful websites that you can use for your everyday needs. Go check it out!

Quote from 30+ Useful Websites You Probably Didn't Know About is as shown below.

30 Useful Websites you probably didn't know

General Goodness
  • Cellphone Contract Buster. Want out of your cellphone contract? You may be able to do just that. Check out: Cellswapper and CellTradeUSA. Note that you need to get permission from your carrier in advance and let them know if you want to keep your phone number.
  • GetHuman: Stop being frustrated with automated phone systems. This extensive list will give you the ways to reach a live person at hundreds of companies!
  • Cash in on Airline Points: at Points.com: If you can't sell your airline points and if you can't use them either, you can now swap them for other items.
  • How Stuff Works: If you ever need to know how something works from computer related queries to health to business and more, check out How Stuff Works.
  • Online Conversions. Convert any measurement to another. Extensive and useful resource!
  • Search Public Records. Links to over 41,000 searchable public record databases. United States, Canada, Australia, and Europe.
Health & Fitness
  • Toilet Finder: Mizpee.com - Lists public restrooms in 18 US and Canadian cities. Go find one now or add your favorites and rate them! Handy when you gotta go!
  • Weight Management: Free calorie counter, weight loss calculators and weight loss tutorials. Very no-nonsense.
  • Musicicovery. Discover new music according to mood, energy level, genre, and more. Very cool interface with results displayed in mindmap format. Very cool!
  • WikiTravel. Wikipedia for travelers. Tons of great information on your chosen destination.
Family & Home
  • Online Family Tree: Geni.com. This is a very cool online application that has many features! You can fill in your whole family tree going backwards and outwards. In addition you can set up profiles, set reminders, and more. It is a private social network for your family!
  • HomeFair: Rich resource for families that are moving: discover city reports, school reports, and relocation wizards. Also calculate whether you are getting a fair salary for your credentials and your location. There are many calculators also including whether you should buy a home or rent.
  • Universal Packing List. An online wizard that helps you with your packing list.
  • Good Recipes Free: Epicurious. Excellent!
  • How to Clean Anything. The name says it all.
  • FixItClub.com: How to fix just about anything
Business & Finances
  • Free Business Planning Resources: Check out the Small Business Administration's resources! They are abundant, highly useful, and free!
  • Consumer Ratings: If you're shopping for an item head on over to ePinions.com for ratings, reviews, and price comparisons. Virtually all types of products are covered from Electronics to Baby stuff to Office Supplies to Beauty and more! Also try ConsumerReview.
  • Online Library Book Requests! Lookup your local library's website. (You'll need to be a member first.) Request books, videos, and music. Pick them up when you get the email that they are ready for you! Better than Amazon and free if you return them on time!
Free Stuff
  • Freecycle.org: Sign up with your local chapter to donate used items and put in requests for items you need. Items can be as small as baby clothes and as big as automobiles.
  • Free Paperbacks: Paperbackswap.com - donate yours and take others'.
  • Computer Backups - Backup your computer online for free with either Mozy or Carbonite.
  • Free Books, CD's, & DVD's: Titletrader.com -there's nothing to lose! Also check out Full Books for more free books.
  • Ringtones: Check out Phonezoo. You can create ringtones and download a ton - all for free.
  • Learn a Foreign Language: Mango can get you started in 12 different languages. FSI does the same and maybe even a little better. You can choose, they are both free.
  • Free Technical Support: Did you know that you can get free tech support? Try these free services if you're sick of paying big bucks to Microsoft and other big name companies for help:

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Kill your bordom

If you are bored and ran out of things to read, take a look at The world's 50 most powerful blogs as quoted below. It will give you lots of stuff to read in any most topic. And on top of that, there will be at least one blog that will meet your interest. You know for sure that it will be at least something interest if not very decent, by looking at it's popularity.

1. The Huffington Post

The history of political blogging might usefully be divided into the periods pre- and post-Huffington. Before the millionaire socialite Arianna Huffington decided to get in on the act, bloggers operated in a spirit of underdog solidarity. They hated the mainstream media - and the feeling was mutual.

Bloggers saw themselves as gadflies, pricking the arrogance of established elites from their home computers, in their pyjamas, late into the night. So when, in 2005, Huffington decided to mobilise her fortune and media connections to create, from scratch, a flagship liberal blog she was roundly derided. Who, spluttered the original bloggerati, did she think she was?

But the pyjama purists were confounded. Arianna's money talked just as loudly online as off, and the Huffington Post quickly became one of the most influential and popular journals on the web. It recruited professional columnists and celebrity bloggers. It hoovered up traffic. Its launch was a landmark moment in the evolution of the web because it showed that many of the old rules still applied to the new medium: a bit of marketing savvy and deep pockets could go just as far as geek credibility, and get there faster.

To borrow the gold-rush simile beloved of web pioneers, Huffington's success made the first generation of bloggers look like two-bit prospectors panning for nuggets in shallow creeks before the big mining operations moved in. In the era pre-Huffington, big media companies ignored the web, or feared it; post-Huffington they started to treat it as just another marketplace, open to exploitation. Three years on, Rupert Murdoch owns MySpace, while newbie amateur bloggers have to gather traffic crumbs from under the table of the big-time publishers.

Least likely to post 'I'm so over this story - check out the New York Times'

2. Boing Boing

Lego reconstructions of pop videos and cakes baked in the shape of iPods are not generally considered relevant to serious political debate. But even the most earnest bloggers will often take time out of their busy schedule to pass on some titbit of mildly entertaining geek ephemera. No one has done more to promote pointless, yet strangely cool, time-wasting stuff on the net than the editors of Boing Boing (subtitle: A Directory of Wonderful Things). It launched in January 2000 and has had an immeasurable influence on the style and idiom of blogging. But hidden among the pictures of steam-powered CD players and Darth Vader tea towels there is a steely, ultra-liberal political agenda: championing the web as a global medium free of state and corporate control.

Boing Boing chronicles cases where despotic regimes have silenced or imprisoned bloggers. It helped channel blogger scorn on to Yahoo and Google when they kowtowed to China's censors in order to win investment opportunities. It was instrumental in exposing the creeping erosion of civil liberties in the US under post-9/11 'Homeland Security' legislation. And it routinely ridicules attempts by the music and film industries to persecute small-time file sharers and bedroom pirates instead of getting their own web strategies in order. It does it all with gentle, irreverent charm, polluted only occasionally with gratuitous smut.

Their dominance of the terrain where technology meets politics makes the Boing Boing crew geek aristocracy.

Least likely to post 'Has anyone got a stamp?'

3. Techcrunch

Techcrunch began in 2005 as a blog about dotcom start-ups in Silicon Valley, but has quickly become one of the most influential news websites across the entire technology industry. Founder Michael Arrington had lived through the internet goldrush as a lawyer and entrepreneur before deciding that writing about new companies was more of an opportunity than starting them himself. His site is now ranked the third-most popular blog in the world by search engine Technorati, spawning a mini-empire of websites and conferences as a result. Business Week named Arrington one of the 25 most influential people on the web, and Techcrunch has even scored interviews with Barack Obama and John McCain.

With a horde of hungry geeks and big money investors online, Techcrunch is the largest of a wave of technology-focused blog publishers to tap into the market - GigaOm, PaidContent and Mashable among them - but often proves more contentious than its rivals, thanks to Arrington's aggressive relationships with traditional media and his conflicts of interest as an investor himself.

Least likely to post 'YouTube? It'll never catch on'

4. Kottke

One of the early wave of blogging pioneers, web designer Jason Kottke started keeping track of interesting things on the internet as far back as 1998. The site took off, boosted partly through close links to popular blog-building website Blogger (he later married one of the founders). And as the phenomenon grew quickly, Kottke became a well-known filter for surfers on the lookout for interesting reading.

Kottke remains one of the purest old-skool bloggers on the block - it's a selection of links to websites and articles rather than a repository for detailed personal opinion - and although it remains fairly esoteric, his favourite topics include film, science, graphic design and sport. He often picks up trends and happenings before friends start forwarding them to your inbox. Kottke's decision to consciously avoid politics could be part of his appeal (he declares himself 'not a fan'), particularly since the blog's voice is literate, sober and inquiring, unlike much of the red-faced ranting found elsewhere online.

A couple of key moments boosted Kottke's fame: first, being threatened with legal action by Sony for breaking news about a TV show, but most notably quitting his web-design job and going solo three years ago. A host of 'micropatrons' and readers donated cash to cover his salary, but these days he gets enough advertising to pay the bills. He continues to plug away at the site as it enters its 10th year.

Least likely to post 'Look at this well wicked vid of a dog on a skateboard'

5. Dooce

One of the best-known personal bloggers (those who provide more of a diary than a soapbox or reporting service), Heather Armstrong has been writing online since 2001. Though there were personal websites that came before hers, certain elements conspired to make Dooce one of the biggest public diaries since Samuel Pepys's (whose diary is itself available, transcribed in blog form, at Pepysdiary.com). Primarily, Armstrong became one of the first high-profile cases of somebody being fired for writing about her job. After describing events that her employer - a dotcom start-up - thought reflected badly on them, Armstrong was sacked. The incident caused such fierce debate that Dooce found itself turned into a verb that is used in popular parlance (often without users realising its evolution): 'dooced - to be fired from one's job as a direct result of one's personal website'.

Behind Dooce stands an army of personal bloggers perhaps not directly influenced by, or even aware of, her work - she represents the hundreds of thousands who decide to share part of their life with strangers.

Armstrong's honesty has added to her popularity, and she has written about work, family life, postnatal depression, motherhood, puppies and her Mormon upbringing with the same candid and engaging voice. Readers feel that they have been brought into her life, and reward her with their loyalty. Since 2005 the advertising revenue on her blog alone has been enough to support her family.

Least likely to post 'I like babies but I couldn't eat a whole one'

6. Perezhilton

Once dubbed 'Hollywood's most hated website', Perezhilton (authored by Mario Lavandeira since 2005) is the gossip site celebrities fear most. Mario, 29, is famous for scrawling rude things (typically doodles about drug use) over pap photos and outing closeted stars. On the day of Lindsay Lohan's arrest for drink-driving, he posted 60 updates, and 8m readers logged on.

He's a shameless publicity whore, too. His reality show premiered on VH1 last year, and his blogsite is peppered with snaps of him cuddling Paris Hilton at premieres. Fergie from Black Eyed Peas alluded to him in a song, and Avril Lavigne phoned, asking him to stop writing about her after he repeatedly blogged about her lack of talent and her 'freakishly long arm'.

Least likely to post 'Log on tomorrow for Kofi Annan's live webchat'

7. Talking points memo

At some point during the disputed US election of 2000 - when Al Gore was famously defeated by a few hanging chads - Joshua Micah Marshall lost patience. Despite working as a magazine editor, Marshall chose to vent on the web. Eight years later Talking Points Memo and its three siblings draw in more than 400,000 viewers a day from their base in New York.

Marshall has forged a reputation, and now makes enough money to run a small team of reporters who have made an impact by sniffing out political scandal and conspiracy. 'I think in many cases the reporting we do is more honest, more straight than a lot of things you see even on the front pages of great papers like the New York Times and the Washington Post,' he said in an interview last year. 'But I think both kinds of journalism should exist, should co-exist.'

Although his unabashed partisan approach is admonished by many old-fashioned American reporters, Marshall's skills at pulling together the threads of a story have paid dividends. Last year he helped set the agenda after George Bush covertly fired a string of US attorneys deemed disloyal to the White House. While respected mainstream media figures accused Marshall of seeing conspiracy, he kept digging: the result was the resignation of attorney general Alberto Gonzales, and a prestigious George Polk journalism award for Marshall, the first ever for a blogger.

Least likely to post 'Barack is so, like, gnarly to the max'

8. Icanhascheezburger

Amused by a photo of a smiling cat, idiosyncratically captioned with the query 'I Can Has A Cheezburger?', which he found on the internet while between jobs in early 2007, Eric Nakagawa of Hawaii emailed a copy of it to a friend (known now only as Tofuburger). Then, on a whim, they began a website, first comprising only that one captioned photo but which has since grown into one of the most popular blogs in the world.

Millions of visitors visit Icanhascheezburger.com to see, create, submit and vote on Lolcats (captioned photos of characterful cats in different settings). The 'language' used in the captions, which this blog has helped to spread globally, is known as Lolspeak, aka Kitty Pidgin. In Lolspeak, human becomes 'hooman', Sunday 'bunday', exactly 'xackly' and asthma 'azma'. There is now an effort to develop a LOLCode computer-programming language and another to translate the Bible into Lolspeak.

Least likely to post 'Actually, dogs are much more interesting..."

9. Beppe Grillo

Among the most visited blogs in the world is that of Beppe Grillo, a popular Italian comedian and political commentator, long persona non grata on state TV, who is infuriated daily - especially by corruption and financial scandal in his country.

A typical blog by Grillo calls, satirically or otherwise, for the people of Naples and Campania to declare independence, requests that Germany declare war on Italy to help its people ('We will throw violets and mimosa to your Franz and Gunther as they march through') or reports on Grillo's ongoing campaign to introduce a Bill of Popular Initiative to remove from office all members of the Italian parliament who've ever had a criminal conviction. Grillo's name for Mario Mastella, leader of the Popular-UDEUR centre-right party, is Psychodwarf. 'In another country, he would have been the dishwasher in a pizzeria,' says Grillo. Through his blog, he rallied many marchers in 280 Italian towns and cities for his 'Fuck You' Day last September.

Least likely to post 'Sign up to our campaign to grant Silvo Berlusconi immunity'

10. Gawker

A New York blog of 'snarky' gossip and commentary about the media industry, Gawker was founded in 2002 by journalist Nick Denton, who had previously helped set up a networking site called First Tuesday for web and media entrepreneurs. Gawker's earliest fascination was gossip about Vogue editor Anna Wintour, garnered from underlings at Conde Nast. This set the tone for amassing a readership of movers and shakers on the Upper East Side, as well as 'the angry creative underclass' wishing either to be, or not be, like them, or both ('the charmingly incompetent X... the wildly successful blowhard'). Within a year Gawker's readers were making 500,000 page views per month. Nowadays the figure is 11m, recovering from a recent dip to 8m thanks to the showing of a Tom Cruise 'Indoctrination Video' which Scientologists had legally persuaded YouTube to take down. Gawker remains the flagship of Gawker Media, which now comprises 14 blogs, although gossiping by ex-Gawker insiders, a fixation on clicks (which its bloggers are now paid on the basis of) and fresh anxiety over defining itself have led some to claim Gawker has become more 'tabloidy' and celeb- and It-girl-orientated, and less New York-centric. But its core value - 'media criticism' - appears to be intact.

Least likely to post 'We can only wish Rupert Murdoch well with his new venture'

11. The Drudge Report

The Report started life as an email gossip sheet, and then became a trashy webzine with negligible traffic. But thanks to the decision in 1998 to run a scurrilous rumour – untouched by mainstream media – about Bill Clinton and a White House intern named Monica Lewinsky, it became a national phenomenon. Recent scoops include Barack Obama dressed in tribal garb and the fact Prince Harry was serving in Afghanistan. Drudge is scorned by journalists and serious bloggers for his tabloid sensibilities, but his place in the media history books is guaranteed. And much though they hate him, the hacks all still check his front page – just in case he gets another president-nobbling scoop.

Least likely to post 'Oops, one sec – just got to check the facts…'

12. Xu Jinglei

Jinglei is a popular actress (and director of Letter From An Unknown Woman) in China, who in 2005 began a blog ('I got the joy of expressing myself') which within a few months had garnered 11.5m visits and spurred thousands of other Chinese to blog. In 2006 statisticians at Technorati, having previously not factored China into their calculations, realised Jinglei's blog was the most popular in the world. In it she reports on her day-to-day moods, reflections, travels, social life and cats ('Finally the first kitten's been born!!! Just waiting for the second, in the middle of the third one now!!!!!!!! It's midnight, she gave birth to another one!!!!!!'). She blogs in an uncontroversial but quite reflective manner, aiming to show a 'real person' behind the celebrity. Each posting, usually ending with 'I have to be up early' or a promise to report tomorrow on a DVD she is watching, is followed by many hundreds of comments from readers – affirming their love, offering advice, insisting she take care. Last year her blog passed the 1bn clicks mark.

Least likely to post 'Forget the kittens – get a Kalashnikov!!!!!!!'

13. Treehugger

Treehugger is a green consumer blog with a mission to bring a sustainable lifestyle to the masses. Its ethos, that a green lifestyle does not have to mean sacrifice, and its positive, upbeat feel have attracted over 1.8m unique users a month. Consistently ranked among the top 20 blogs on Technorati, Treehugger has 10 staff but also boasts 40 writers from a wide variety of backgrounds in more than 10 countries around the world, who generate more than 30 new posts a day across eight categories, ranging from fashion and beauty, travel and nature, to science and technology. Treehugger began as an MBA class project four years ago and says it now generates enough revenue from sponsorship and advertising to pay all its staffers and writers. It has developed a highly engaged community and has added popular services like TreeHugger.tv, and a user-generated blog, Hugg. It was bought by the Discovery Channel last year for a rumoured $10m.

Least likely to post 'Why Plastic Bags rock'

14. Microsiervos

Microsiervos, which began in 2001, took its name from Douglas Coupland's novel Microserfs, a diary entry-style novel about internet pioneers. It is run by Alvy, Nacho and Wicho, three friends in Madrid, who blog in Spanish. The second most popular blog in Europe and the 13th most popular in the world (according to eBizMBA), Microsiervos concerns itself with science, curiosities, strange reality, chance, games, puzzles, quotations, conspiracies, computers, hacking, graffiti and design. It is informal, friendly and humorous, moving from news of an eccentric new letter font to reflections on the discovery of the Milky Way having double the thickness it was previously thought to have.

Least likely to post 'The internet is, like, so over'

15. TMZ

You want relentless celebrity gossip on tap? TMZ will provide it, and when we say relentless, we mean relentless. The US site is dripping with 'breaking news' stories, pictures and videos, and deems celeb activity as mundane as stars walking to their cars worthy of a video post. TMZ was launched in 2005 by AOL and reportedly employs around 20 writers to keep the celeb juice flowing. It pulls in 1.6m readers a month and is endlessly cited as the source for red-top celeb stories. It was the first to break Alec Baldwin's now infamous 'rude little pig' voicemail last April, for instance. TMZ prides itself on being close to the action, so close, in fact, a TMZ photographer had his foot run over by Britney Spears mid-meltdown. They auctioned the tyre-tracked sock on eBay in aid of US charity the Children's Defense Fund last autumn.

Least likely to post 'Paris is a metaphor for Third World debt'


16. Engadget

Engadget provides breaking news, rumours and commentary on, for instance, a camera able to track a head automatically, the very latest HD screen or 'visual pollution' concerns prompted by hand-held pico laser-projectors. The world's most popular blog on gadgets and consumer electronics, Engadget was founded by Ryan Block in 2004 and won the Web Blogs Awards that year and each year since. Now part of Weblogs Inc (owned by AOL), it is offered on many other sites (including GoogleMail) as a default RSS feed, and is published in English, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese. Last year, a mistake confirmed Engadget's power – upon reporting a supposed email (which turned out to be a hoax) from Apple, informing Apple employees of a delay in the launch of iPhone, Apple's share price fell by 3 per cent within minutes. Block also co-founded rival gadget blog Gizmodo.

Least likely to post 'An iWhat?'

17. Marbury

No matter what happens between now and 4 November, you can be certain the US presidential election of 2008 will be among the most historically important and dramatic of any fought. Having an informed opinion will be a must, but if you are as yet unable to tell your Iowa Caucus from your Feiler Faster Thesis, Marbury – a British blog on American politics – is the place to start. The site's creator, Ian Leslie, is an ex-expat who fell for American politics during a four-year stint living in New York. The site signposts important events and interesting analyses, gives context and witty commentary on everything from the most serious speeches to the silliest election-themed YouTube clips. And West Wing fans will be pleased to note that the blog's name is a reference to the show's British ambassador to the United States, Lord John Marbury, who, appropriately enough, provided an eccentrically British but reliably insightful appraisal of American politics.

Least likely to post 'Is it just me or is Romney getting cuter?'

18. Chez Pim

Attracting around 10,000 people from all over the globe to her site every week, Pim Techamuanvivit has tried and tested an awful lot of food. From Michelin-starred restaurants to street food and diners, she samples it all, and posts her thoughts and pictures to share with other foodie fans. She advises her readers on what cooking equipment to go for, posts recipe suggestions for them to try, and gives them a nudge in the direction of which food shows are worth a watch. She's not just famous on the net, she's attracted global coverage in the media with her writing, recipes and interviews appearing in such diverse publications as the New York Times, Le Monde and the Sydney Morning Herald.

Least likely to post 'Chocolate's my favourite flavour of Pop Tart'

19. Basic thinking

Recently rated the 18th most influential blog in the world by Wikio, Basic Thinking, which has the tag line 'Mein Haus, Mein Himmel, Mein Blog', is run by Robert Basic of Usingen, Germany, who aims 'to boldly blog what no one has blogged before', and recently posted his 10,000th entry. Basic Thinking reports on technology and odds and ends, encouraging readers to rummage through an 1851 edition of the New York Times one minute and to contemplate the differences between mooses and elks the next.

Least likely to post 'Mein heim, mein gott – I need to get a life'

20. The Sartorialist

As ideas go, this one is pretty simple. Man wanders around Manhattan with a camera. Spots someone whose outfit he likes. Asks if he can take a picture. Goes home and posts it on his blog. But the man in question is Scott Schuman, who had 15 years' experience working at the high-fashion end of the clothing industry before starting The Sartorialist. He's got a sharp eye for a good look, a gift for grabbing an on-the-hoof pic and an unwavering enthusiasm for people going the extra mile in the name of style. Minimalist it might be, but his site – a basic scroll of full-length street portraits, occasionally annotated with a brief note – is mesmeric and oddly beautiful. The site attracts more than 70,000 readers a day and has been named one of Time's Top 100 Design Influences. So if you're out and about and a guy called Scott asks to take your picture, just smile. You're about to become a style icon.

Least likely to post 'Sometimes you need to chill in a shellsuit'

21. Students for a free Tibet

Taking the protest online, Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) is a global, grassroots network of students campaigning to free Tibet, which has been occupied by China since 1950. Students in Tibet face arrest for posting on the site, but many escape to blog about their experiences in exile. With a history of direct action, the group is now uniting worldwide members through the web, blogging to spread word of news and protests, and using sites like Facebook to raise funds. The organisation, which was founded in 1994 in New York, spans more than 35 countries and gets up to 100,000 hits a month. In 2006, SFT used a satellite link at Mount Everest base camp to stream live footage on to YouTube of a demonstration against Chinese Olympic athletes practising carrying the torch there. Later this year the web will be a critical tool in organising and reporting protests during the games. 'SFT plans to stage protests in Beijing during the games and post blogs as events unfold,' says Iain Thom, the SFT UK national co-ordinator. 'But for security reasons we can't reveal details of how or where yet.' Similarly, a massive protest in London on 10 March will be the subject of intense cyber comment. In response, the site has fallen victim to increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks. Investigations have traced the sources back to China, leading to speculation that the Chinese authorities are trying to sabotage the site to stop online critics.

Least likely to post 'Hey guyz, any hotties in the Nepal region?!'

22. Jezebel

Last year Gawker Media launched Jezebel – a blog which aimed to become a brilliant version of a women's magazine. It succeeded quickly, in part by acknowledging the five big lies perpetuated by the women's media: The Cover Lie (female forgeries of computer-aided artistry); The Celebrity-Profile Lie (flattery, more nakedly consumerist and less imaginative than the movies they're shilling for); The Must-Have Lie (magazine editors are buried in free shit); The Affirmation Crap Lie (you are insecure about things you didn't know it was possible to be insecure about); and The Big Meta Lie (we're devastatingly affected by the celebrity media). Their regular 'Crap Email From a Dude' feature is especially fantastic, as is their coverage of current stories (opinionated and consistently hilarious) and politics. It offers the best lady-aimed writing on the web, along with lots of nice pictures of Amy Winehouse getting out of cars.

Least likely to post 'How To Look Skinny While Pleasing Your Man!'

23. Gigazine

Created by Satoshi Yamasaki and Mazaki Keito of Osaka, Gigazine is the most popular blog in Japan, covering the latest in junk foods and beverages, games, toys and other ingredients of colourful pop product culture. Visitors first witness 'eye candy' such as David Beckham condoms (from China), 75 turtles in a fridge, the packaging for Mega Frankfurters or a life-size Ferrari knitted from wool, learn of a second X-Files movie moving into pre-pre-production, watch a vacuum-cleaning robot being tested and compare taste reports of Kentucky Fried Chicken's new Shrimp Tsuisuta Chilli.

Least likely to post 'Anyone seen these charming croquet mallets?'

24. Girl with a one-track mind

Following in the footsteps of Belle de Jour – the anonymous blogger claiming to be a sex worker – the girl with a one track mind started writing in open, explicit terms about her lively sex life in 2004. By 2006, the blog was bookified and published by Ebury, and spent much time on bestseller lists, beach towels and hidden behind the newspapers of serious-looking commuters. Though she was keen to retain her anonymity and continue her career in the film industry, author 'Abby Lee' was soon outed as north Londoner Zoe Margolis by a Sunday newspaper.

Least likely to post 'I've got a headache'

25. Mashable

Founded by Peter Cashmore in 2005, Mashable is a social-networking news blog, reporting on and reviewing the latest developments, applications and features available in or for MySpace, Facebook, Bebo and countless lesser-known social-networking sites and services, with a special emphasis on functionality. The blog's name Mashable is derived from Mashup, a term for the fusing of multiple web services. Readers range from top web 2.0 developers to savvy 13-year-olds wishing for the latest plug-ins to pimp up their MySpace pages.

Least likely to post 'But why don't you just phone them up?'

26. Greek tragedy

Stephanie Klein's blog allows her to 'create an online scrapbook of my life, complete with drawings, photos and my daily musings' or, rather, tell tawdry tales of dating nightmares, sexual encounters and bodily dysfunctions. Thousands of women tune in for daily accounts of her narcissistic husband and nightmarish mother-in-law and leave equally self-revealing comments transforming the pages into something of a group confessional. The blog has been so successful that Klein has penned a book, Straight Up and Dirty, and has featured in countless magazine and newspaper articles around the globe. Not bad for what Klein describes as 'angst online'.

Least likely to post 'Enough about me – what's your news?'

27. Holy Moly

If a weekly flick through Heat just isn't enough, then a daily intake of Holy Moly will certainly top up those celeb gossip levels. The UK blog attracts 750,000 visitors a month and 240,000 celeb-obsessees subscribe to the accompanying weekly mail-out. It's an established resource for newspaper columnists – both tabloid and broadsheet – and there's a daily 'News from the Molehill' slot in the free London paper The Metro. Last month Holy Moly created headlines in its own right by announcing a rethink on publishing paparazzi shots. The blog will no longer publish pics obtained when 'pursuing people in cars and on bikes', as well as 'celebrities with their kids', 'people in distress at being photographed' and off-duty celebs. But don't think that means the omnipresent celeb blog that sends shivers round offices up and down the country on 'mail-out day' is slowing down – there has been talk of Holy Moly expanding into TV.

Least likely to post 'What do you think of the new Hanif Kureishi?'

28. Michelle Malkin

Most surveys of web use show a fairly even gender balance online, but political blogging is dominated by men. One exception is Michelle Malkin, a conservative newspaper columnist and author with one of the most widely read conservative blogs in the US. That makes her one of the most influential women online. Her main theme is how liberals betray America by being soft on terrorism, peddling lies about global warming and generally lacking patriotism and moral fibre.

Least likely to post 'That Obama's got a lovely smile, hasn't he?'

29. Cranky flier

There's nowhere to hide for airlines these days. Not with self-confessed 'airline dork' Brett Snyder, aka Cranky Flier, keeping tabs on their progress. He's moved on from spending his childhood birthdays in airport hotels, face pressed against the window watching the planes come in, and turned his attention to reporting on the state of airlines. His CV is crammed with various US airline jobs, which gives him the insider knowledge to cast his expert eye over everything from the recent 777 emergency landing at Heathrow to spiralling baggage handling costs and the distribution of air miles to 'virtual assistants'.

Least likely to post 'There's nothing wrong with a well-conducted cavity search'

30. Go fug yourself

It's a neat word, fug – just a simple contraction of 'ugly' and its preceding expletive – but from those three letters an entire fugging industry has grown. At Go Fug Yourself, celebrity offenders against style, elegance and the basic concept of making sure you're covering your reproductive organs with some form of clothing before you leave the house are 'fugged' by the site's writers, Jessica Morgan and Heather Cocks. In their hands, the simple pleasure of yelping 'Does she even OWN a mirror?' at a paparazzi shot of some B-list headcase in fuchsia becomes an epic battle against dull Oscar gowns, ill-fitting formalwear and Lindsay Lohan's leggings. The site stays on the right side of gratuitous nastiness by dishing out generous praise when due (the coveted 'Well Played'), being genuinely thoughtful on questions of taste and funnier on the subject of random starlets in sequined sweatpants than you could possibly even imagine.

Least likely to post 'Oprah looked great in those stretch jeans'

31. Gaping void

In the middle of a career as an adman in New York, Hugh MacLeod found himself doodling acerbic and almost surreal cartoons on the back of people's business cards to pass the time in bars. Everyone seemed to like the idea, so he kept going. Things started going gangbusters when he pimped his cartoons on the internet, and as he built an audience through his blog, he started writing about his other passion – the new world of understanding how to adapt marketing to the new world of the net. Remember when everybody was madly printing off vouchers from the web that saved you 40 per cent? That was one of his: aimed at helping shift more bottles from Stormhoek, the South African vintner he works with.

Least likely to post 'This product really sells itself'


32. Dirtydirty dancing

If someone stole your camera, took it out for the night to parties you yourself aren't cool enough to go to and returned it in the morning, you would probably find it loaded up with pictures like those posted on DirtyDirtyDancing. The site seems pretty lo-fi – just entries called things like 'Robin's birthday' and 'FEB16' featuring pages of images of hip young things getting their party on. And that's it. The original delight was in logging on to see if you'd made it on to the site – your chances increase exponentially if you're beautiful, avant-garde and hang out at clubs and parties in the edgier parts of London – but now the site can get up to 900,000 hits a month from all over the world.

Least likely to post 'Revellers at the Earl of Strathdore's hunt ball'

33. Crooked timber

With a title pulled from Immanuel Kant's famous statement that 'out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made', it's an amalgam of academic and political writing that has muscled its way into the epicentre of intelligent discussion since its conception in 2003. Formed as an internet supergroup, pulling several popular intellectual blogs together, Crooked Timber now has 16 members – largely academics – across the US, Europe, Australia and Asia. The site has built itself a reputation as something of an intellectual powerhouse; a sort of global philosophical thinktank conducted via blog.

Least likely to post 'Did anyone see Casualty last night?'

34. Beansprouts

Combining diary, opinion and green lifestyle tips, Beansprouts is a blog that covers one family's 'search for the good life'. Melanie Rimmer and her family of five live in a 'small ex-council house' with a garden on the edge of farmland in Poynton, Cheshire. They grow food on an allotment nearby, keep chickens and bees and 'try to be green, whatever that means'. Rimmer set up the blog nearly two years ago when she first got the allotment and says she felt it was something worth writing about. With one post a day, often more, topics for discussion can range from top 10 uses for apples to making scrap quilts.

Least likely to post 'Make mine a Happy Meal'

35. The offside

Launched by 'Bob' after the success of his WorldCupBlog in 2006, Offside is a UK-based blog covering football leagues globally, gathering news and visuals on all of it, inviting countless match reports and promoting discussion on all things soccer, from the attack by a colony of red ants on a player in the Sao Paulo state championship third division, to the particular qualities of every one of Cristiano Ronaldo's goals so far this season. Considered by many to be the best 'serious' blog in the game, it nevertheless promises irreverently, 'If there is a sex scandal in England, we'll be stuck in the middle of it. If a player is traded for 1,000lb of beef in Romania, we'll cook the steak. And if something interesting happens in Major League Soccer, we'll be just as surprised as you.'

Least likely to post 'Check out Ronaldo's bubble butt'

36. Peteite Anglaise

The tagline of a new book hitting British shelves reads 'In Paris, in love, in trouble', but if it were telling the whole story, perhaps it should read 'In public' too. Bored at work one day in 2004, expat secretary Catherine Sanderson happened upon the concept of blogging. With a few clicks and an impulse she created her own blog, and quickly gathered fans who followed her life in Paris, the strained relationship with her partner and adventures with her toddler. And there was plenty of drama to watch: within a year her relationship had broken up, and she'd met a new man who wooed her online. Readers were mesmerised by her unflinching dedication to telling the whole story, no matter how she would be judged. Soon afterwards, however, Sanderson's employers found out about the blog and promptly fired her. Defeat turned into victory, however, with the press attention she gathered from the dismissal not only securing victory in an industrial tribunal, but also helping her score a lucrative two-book deal with Penguin.

Least likely to post 'J'ai assez parle de moi, qu'est-ce que vous pensez?'

37. Crooks and liars

Founded in 2004 by John Amato (a professional saxophonist and flautist), Crooks and Liars is a progressive/liberal-leaning political blog, with over 200m visitors to date, which is illustrated by video and audio clips of politicians and commentators on podiums, radio and TV. Readers post a variety of comments on political talking points of the day, although 9/11 conspiracy theories are often deleted, and there is a daily round-up of notable stories on other political blogs.

Least likely to post 'So just what is a caucus?'

38. Chocolate and Zucchini

For Clothilde Dusoulier, a young woman working in computing and living in the Paris district of Montmartre, starting a blog was a way of venting her boundless enthusiasm for food without worrying she might be boring her friends with it. Five years later Chocolate and Zucchini, one of the most popular cooking blogs, has moved from being a hobby to a full-time career. The mixture of an insider's view on gastronomic Paris, conversational, bilingual writing and the sheer irresistibility of her recipes pull in thousands of readers every day. This, in turn, has led to multiple books and the ability to forge a dream career as a food writer.The name of the blog is, she says, a good metaphor for her cooking style: 'The zucchini illustrates my focus on healthy and natural eating... and the chocolate represents my decidedly marked taste for anything sweet.'

Least likely to post 'Just add instant mash'

39. Samizdata

Samizdata is one of Britain's oldest blogs. Written by a bunch of anarcho-libertarians, tax rebels, Eurosceptics and Wildean individualists, it has a special niche in the political blogosphere: like a dive bar, on the rational side of the border between fringe opinion and foam-flecked paranoid ranting. Samizdata serves its opinions up strong and neat, but still recognisable as politics. On the other side of the border, in the wilderness, the real nutters start.

Least likely to post 'I'd say it's six of one, half a dozen of the other'

40. The daily dish

Andrew Sullivan is an expat Brit, blogging pioneer and defier-in-chief of American political stereotypes. He is an economic conservative (anti-tax), a social liberal (soft on drugs) and a foreign policy hawk (pro-war). He endorsed George Bush in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004. Barack Obama is his preferred Democrat candidate in 2008. So he is either confused, a hypocrite or a champion of honest non-partisanship – depending on your point of view. He is also gay, a practising Roman Catholic and HIV-positive, a set of credentials he routinely deploys in arguments to confuse atheist liberals and evangelical conservatives.

Least likely to post 'Sorry, I can't think of anything to say'

41. The F word

Founded in 2001, the UK's first feminist webzine is responsible for reviving debates around feminism in Britain. Edited by Jess McCabe, the site, which receives around 3,000 hits a day, is dedicated to providing a forum for contemporary feminist voices, with a daily news blog, features on stereotypes and censorship, podcasts on pornography and regular feminist film reviews.

Least likely to post 'What's the difference between a woman and a condom?'

42. Jonny B's private secret diary

Growing in popularity since its debut in 2003, Jonny B's diary – which is clearly neither private nor terribly secret – catalogues the rock and bowls lifestyle of one man in the depths of rural Norfolk. With the mocking self-awareness of a modern Diary of a Nobody, the author tells tales of wild nights at the village pub and the fortunes of the local bowls team. As a slow, gentle satire on modern village life, it is often held up as an example of blog as sitcom, and has not only attracted a loyal band of readers, but a dedicated fan club on Facebook desperate to work out the real identity of the wit behind the site. Previous guesses have included Chris Evans and Johnny Vaughan, though both have been strenuously denied.

Least likely to post 'OMG, I saw Jessica Simpson in Lidl and she signed my bum!'

43. Popjustice

When Smash Hits! died, Popjustice became the new home of pop music. Founded in 2000 by Peter Robinson, it combines fandom with music news and raw critique, all hilarious, and all blindingly correct. Recent features include a review of Eurovision failure Daz Sampson's new single 'Do A Little Dance' ('The listener is invited to muse on the sad inevitability of their own death') and a furious debate about the future of Girls Aloud.

Least likely to post 'I prefer Pierre Boulez's interpretation of Mahler's third'

44. Waiter rant

Rant isn't quite the right word for this collection of carefully crafted stories from the sharp end of the service industry in a busy New York restaurant. 'The Waiter', as the author is known, has been blogging his experiences with fussy customers and bad tippers since 2004, winning a gong at blogging's biggest awards, the Bloggies, in 2007. It's representative – but by no means the first – of the so-called 'job-blogs', with people from all walks of life, from ambulance drivers (randomactsofreality.net) and policemen (coppersblog.blogspot.com) to the greatly loved but now defunct Call Centre Confidential. Between them they chronicle life in their trade, and usually from behind a veil of anonymity. Something about the everyday nature of The Waiter – a person we like to pretend is invisible or treat with servile disdain – deconstructing the event later with a subtle, erudite typestroke, has captured the public imagination and (hopefully) made some people behave better in restaurants than they otherwise might.

Least likely to post 'The customer is always right'

45. Hecklerspray

The internet's not exactly short of gossip websites providing scurrilous rumours of who did what to whom, but some stand out from the rest. Sharply written and often laugh-out-loud funny, Hecklerspray has been called the British alternative to Perez Hilton, but it's different in important ways: the emphasis here is on style and wit, with a stated aim to 'chronicle the ups and downs of all that is populist and niche within the murky world of entertainment'. Basically, it's gossip for grown-ups.

Least likely to post 'If you can't say anything nice…'

46. WoWinsider

WoWinsider is a blog about the World of Warcraft, which is the most popular online role-playing game in the world, one for which over 10m pay subscriptions each month in order to control an avatar (a character, chosen from 10 races) and have it explore landscapes, perform quests, build skills, fight monsters to the death and interact with others' avatars. WoWinsider reports on what's happening within WoW ('Sun's Reach Harbor has been captured'). It also reports on outside developments and rumours ('A future patch will bring a new feature: threat meters'). Supporters of US presidential candidate Ron Paul promoted on WoWInsider their recent virtual mass march through the WoW. And the blog recently reported that America's Homeland Security are – seriously – looking for a terrorist operating within WoW.

Least likely to post 'Who fancies a game of space invaders?'

47. Angry black bitch

Angry Black Bitch, which has the tagline, 'Practising the Fine Art of Bitchitude', is the four-year-old blog of Shark Fu of St Louis, Missouri. She has never posted a photo of herself and this 'anonymity' has led recently to her having to fend off claims she's really a white man, even a drag queen. But taken as read, Shark Fu is a much-discussed, 35-year-old black woman, tired of the 'brutal weight' of her 'invisibility'.

Least likely to post 'I'm off to anger-management'

48. Stylebubble

Fashion blogger Susie Lau says Stylebubble is just a diary of what she wears and why. But few diaries are read by 10,000 people a day. Lau, 23, admits to spending up to 60 per cent of her pay from her day job in advertising on clothes, but now she's viewed as a fashion opinion former, she's being paid in kind. Her influence is such that fashion editors namecheck her blog, Chanel invites her to product launches and advertisers have come calling.

Least likely to post 'I even wear my Ugg boots in bed'

49. AfterEllen

Afterellen takes an irreverent look at how the lesbian community is represented in the media. Started by lesbian pop-culture guru Sarah Warn in 2002, the name of the site gives a nod to the groundbreaking moment Ellen DeGeneres came out on her hit TV show, Ellen, in 1997. Since then, lesbian and bisexual women have moved from the margins on to primetime TV, and this blog analyses the good, the bad and the ugly of how they're portrayed. It's now the biggest website for LGBT women, with half a million hits a month.

Least likely to post 'George Clooney – I wouldn't kick him out of bed'

50. Copyblogger

It's dry, real, and deafeningly practical, but for an online writing-for-the-internet blog, Copyblogger, founded in 2006, is remarkably interesting. Swelling with advice on online writing, it's an essential tool for anyone trying to make themselves heard online, whether commenting on a discussion board or putting together a corporate website.

Least likely to post 'Social networking – it's just a phase'



What you need to do during recession if you are an entrepreneur!

During the recession, lots of startups and entrepreneurs go through the tough times. Most of the things they'll see is negative things. However, there are positive things that you can count on when the recession hits! If you carefully consider these items, there will be hope and light at the end of the road: Four Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make in a Recession

1. Failing to take advantage of decreasing costs. Most businesses are both suppliers and customers at the same time. To provide its product or service, your business needs to purchase the inputs and materials that you use, and you need to hire people to make your product or service. When demand slackens, your suppliers are hurting too. So often you can strike a better deal to cut your costs by paying your suppliers less or hiring better people at a lower cost.

2. Thinking the only way to increase demand is to cut price. Price cuts aren’t the only way to stimulate demand, and they aren’t the best approach for entrepreneurs. On average, entrepreneurs are more successful when they compete on service, quality, or something other than price. So shifting to price cutting in a recession is often a losing strategy for entrepreneurs.

3. Failing to recognize increased competition. In a recession, competition accelerates because more businesses are chasing less total demand. In addition, when unemployment rises, people start businesses because their opportunity cost of doing so goes down, further increasing competition. So the need to have a competitive advantage is even more important in a recession than in a booming economy.

4. Forgetting that some products, or even whole businesses, are counter cyclical. When customers cut back on their spending, they often substitute one product for another. For instance, in a recession, people might cut back the number of steak dinners that they eat out. But, because they still want to treat themselves, they increase their purchase of cheaper foods, like pasta, making pasta a counter cyclical product. So, entrepreneurs need to avoid assuming that demand for everything goes down in a recession.

Startup with your day job

Most people are interested in having their own startup company. However, most people cannot afford to drop their current day job and take a huge risk by starting their own startup company. That provides great impact to family finances and clouded future outlook.

For those of who like to startup a company but to keep their day job, here's a great article: Half-Assed Startup: How do I start my company and keep my day job?

# You need a co-founder and some cheerleaders. If you can’t find two or three friends who are really excited to be beta testers for your product, ponder changing your direction. In a part-time effort, a co-founder is essential to keeping you on-track and working. At some point, you’ll hit a motivation wall… but if you have a partner who is depending on you, you will find a way past that. If you don’t have a partner, you’ll often lose interest and find something else to entertain you.
# Pick a day or two per week where you always work, ideally in the same room as your co-founders. Always, no exceptions. We worked one weekday evening and one weekend day. That doesn’t mean we weren’t working other days, but keeping a fixed schedule helps you through the phases of the project that might not be so fun.
# Have a boat-burning target. What will it take for everyone to dive in full-time? 5,000 active users? 10,000 uniques a week? Funding? The target should be a shared understanding. You don’t want one founder who is ready to go full-time while the other has reservations. This is easy to gloss over, but you should really nail it down. I’ve lost two co-founders who weren’t ready to dive in full time when I was. It wasn’t fair to them and it wasn’t fair to me.
# Pick an idea that is tractable. Every startup is a hypothesis. If your hypothesis is, “we can build a better web-based chat client”, that’s something you could test quickly. If your hypothesis is “we can build a car that runs on lemonade”, that’s just not going to work as a part-time effort. The scarcity of available time should force you to distill the idea to the absolute minimum that is necessary to test the hypothesis. No extraneous features!
# Understand that your first version is probably going to suck. Read David Rusenko’s article, The importance of launching early and staying alive—David is a founder of Weebly (Y Combinator). It’s a long road. My second startup was a ridiculous fluke—it was acquired after 2 months. 99% of overnight successes were slogging in the muck for 5 years before the night in question. Be prepared for a long journey and be surprised if your startup is an immediate hit. So with your first version, look for the tiny little flicker than you might be onto something. And use it to motivate you to make it better. Every week, make it better than last week and see if that flicker of light can be fanned into a tiny flame.
# If you’re going to screw off at work (everyone does), spend it getting smarter about the stuff you don’t know. If you’re a coder, read a few design or usability blogs. Read up on what motivates angel investors. Research competitors and write down what they do well. Get brilliant at SEO (it’s not hard). Write a lot more (blogging helps). Think about virality and research the heck out of it. That said, be aware of the fuzzy line between using your cool-down time at work for your startup and stealing time or resources from your employer. If you’re paid to do a job, you need to do it.
# Be sure you own your startup. I’ve had the fortune of working in companies where there was very clear ownership of “after hours” work. If ownership of your personal intellectual property is not clear, do not rely on the good will of your employer. Greed can do funny things to people, even if they were initially big supporters of your startup. (Thanks to Ivan from TipJoy for this final suggestion.)


Maverick's rules for startups

The blogmaverick have posted A Couple of My Rules for Startups. While I was reading through the rules, I noticed that some does conflict with other "rule of thumb" that I read from other publishers. In general, there is no one rule which is best for every given cases. As stated, they should be taken as a guidelines, not an absolute rule. It should be followed case by case bases to meet the needs and requirements that you need. None the less, most are useful and something for you to consider.

1. Don't start a company unless its an obsession and something you love.

2. If you have an exit strategy, its not an obsession.

3. Hire people who you think will love working there.

4. Sales Cures All. Know how your company will make money and how you will actually make sales.

5. Know your core competencies and focus on being great at them. Pay up for people in your core competencies. Get the best. Outside the core competencies, hire people that fit your culture but are cheap

6. An expresso machine ? Are you kidding me ? Shoot yourself before you spend money on an expresso machine. Coffee is for closers. Sodas are free. Lunch is a chance to get out of the office and talk. There are 24 hours in a day, and if people like their jobs, they will find ways to use as much of it as possible to do their jobs.

7. No offices. Open offices keeps everyone in tune with what is going on and keeps the energy up. If an employee is about privacy, show them how to use the lock on the john. There is nothing private in a start up. This is also a good way to keep from hiring execs who can not operate successfully in a startup. My biggest fear was always hiring someone who wanted to build an empire. If the person demands to fly first class or to bring over their secretary, run away. If an exec wont go on salescalls, run away. They are empire builders and will pollute your company.

8. As far as technology, go with what you know. That is always the cheapest way. If you know Apple, use it. If you know Vista... ask yourself why, then use it. Its a startup, there are just a few employees. Let people use what they know.

9. Keep the organization flat. If you have managers reporting to managers in a startup, you will fail. Once you get beyond startup, if you have managers reporting to managers, you will create politics.

10. NEVER EVER EVER buy swag. A sure sign of failure for a startup is when someone sends me logo polo shirts. If your people are at shows and in public, its ok to buy for your own folks, but if you really think someone is going to wear your Yobaby.com polo you sent them in public, you are mistaken and have no idea how to spend your money

11. NEVER EVER EVER hire a PR firm. A PR firm will call or email people in the publications, shows and websites you already watch, listen to and read. Those people publish their emails. Whenever you consume any information related to your field, get the email of the person publishing it and send them an email introducing yourself and the company. Their job is to find new stuff. They will welcome hearing from the founder instead of some PR flack. Once you establish communications with that person, make yourself available to answer their questions about the industry and be a source for them. If you are smart, they will use you.

12. Make the job fun for employees. Keep a pulse on the stress levels and accomplishments of your people and reward them. My first company, MicroSolutions, when we had a record sales month, or someone did something special, I would walk around handing out 100 dollar bills to salespeople. At Broadcast.com and MicroSolutions, we had a company shot. Kamikaze. We would take people to a bar every now and then and buy one or 10 for everyone. At MicroSolutions, more often than not we had vendors cover the tab. Vendors always love a good party :0


Do you want to become a leader? Read this!

Just found a great inspiration and guidance if you are or want to become a good leader. Source: 5 Traits You Will Need on Your Way to Becoming a Leader

A leader has the vision and conviction that a dream can be achieved. He inspires the power and energy to get it done.” -Ralph Lauren

A leader is seen as someone with a can-do attitude, the person whose glass is always half full. Hurdles in the road are not obstacles that prevent him from achieving his goal. Rather, they are challenges to be faced, to be overcome, and to be learned from. A leader believes that failures present the opportunity for self-improvement, and that performance on the next go-round will only be enhanced through the lessons previously learned.

A leader does not point to a location, tell his followers to go there, then tell them how to accomplish a goal. Rather, the leader is at the front of the pack, forging ahead of the rest and blazing a trail. The leader demonstrates to everyone else how things should be done, and works harder at accomplishing his goals than anyone else.

Whether you are striving to be a leader in your career, or simply want to be a leader in your own private life, there are many lessons and characteristics that will serve you well in either of these endeavors.

Consider these traits and then give thought to your own style. Are you a leader? Can you become one?

1. A Leader Must Have a Vision: This could be your grandest goal, or an overall sense of accomplishment. Either way, the leader must be able to visualize where he wants to be, where he wants his company to be, or where he wants his family to be. Everything begins with a worthy vision that provides a goal to work towards.

2. A Leader Must be Able to Develop Relationships: Great interpersonal skills are necessary for any leader to possess. The hermit will not achieve greatness, no matter how adept, because the world will not notice him. The leader builds quality relationships based upon trust, respect, cooperation, and teamwork. The leader does not ask what others can do for him, but rather what he can be doing to help others. A leader inspires others to join him in his quest for success.

3. A Leader Must be Able to Strategize: Successful leaders not only have a great vision, but they are able to develop a plan to reach their goal successfully. The leader knows what accomplishments need to be made, what obstacles must be overcome, and what resources will be needed in order to realize his vision.

4. A Leader Must be Able to Resolve Conflict: A good leader will examine conflict from all angles and be able to determine its root cause. In addition to realizing the feelings and perspectives of others, the leader will also recognize and acknowledge his own role in the conflict. He will then work collaboratively with other involved parties in order to successfully resolve the conflict issue while keeping important relationships intact.

5. A Leader Must be a Good Problem Solver: No matter how well thought out, the road to realizing a vision will be full of potholes. Thorough planning can help smooth out the road, but there will be some ruts in the road that threaten to rip the wheels off of the car. A good leader will recognize this ahead of time and plan accordingly, offering a backup plan when the original one goes awry. A leader is able to think on his feet, gather all available information, decipher the facts, and use some good common sense to come up with a workable solution.

In life, leaders are not necessarily the highest ranking person, or the one who holds the most impressive job title, or the one who claims to be the keeper of the home. A leader is someone whose actions have placed them in a position of trust and authority among their peers. A leader is someone whose advice is sought frequently, but never forcefully pushed onto others. A leader is someone whose spirit and desire for excellence eclipses that of everyone else around him. A leader sees the value in others, and inspires each person to perform their best, many times allowing them to exceed even their own expectations. A leader is also able to teach, to convey both physical skills and moral characteristics to those around him, and inspires those people to mimic him in his behaviors and attitudes.

Anyone can be a leader – after all, it is all in the manner and attitude with which one chooses to carry himself.


Startup tips for software engineers

I found a great article in ReadWriteWeb about 36 Startup Tips: From Software Engineering to PR and More! and I wanted share it with all of you. This does not go into much details but it at least brushes on importance of each items and why you need them.

8 Software Engineering Tips for Startups

Since software is at the heart of every modern startup it needs to be elegant, simple and agile. Instead of having an army of coders it pays to have a handful of smart, passionate engineers who love what they are doing instead. A small, passionate team can generally accomplish more than an army. Even as the company grows you can still accomplish a lot with a small team.

Tip 0: You must have code

Working code proves that a system is possible, and it also proves that the team can build the system. Having working code is a launchpad for your business. After it is ready, the business can happen. In the old days, tech companies were funded based on an idea written on a piece of paper, but those days are long gone. Today, a startup needs to have not only working code, but an assembled system and active users in order to land venture capital money. Software engineering transitioned from the post-funding exercise to the means to being funded.

Tip 1: You must have a technical co-founder

Any startup starts with an idea and just a few people. A lot of startup co-founders these days are techies, passionate about technology and life. It was not always like that. Just a few years back a purely technical founding team would have had a hard time raising money because there was a school of thought that only people with MBA degrees could run a company. Now, having a technical co-founder is a benefit.

Tip 2: Hire A+ engineers who love coding

Until recently, building a large scale system that worked was like black magic. Most software projects languished for years, and had large engineering teams who had little consensus on what needed to be done and how to accomplish it. The resulting systems were buggy, unstable, and hard to maintain and extend. The problem was that there were just too many people who were not that good working on writing software. Startups cannot afford to have less than A+ engineers.

Tip 3: Keep the engineering team small and do not outsource

A team of 2-3 rockstar engineers can build pretty much any system because they are good at what they do, love building software, focus on the goal, and don't get in each other's way. A team of 20 so-so engineers will not get very far. The mythical man-month book debunked the notion of scaling by adding more programmers to the project. The truth is that most successful software today is built by just a handful of good engineers. Less is more applies equally to code and to the number of people working on it.

Tip 4: Ask tough questions during the interview

There is nothing worse than being soft during an interview with a prospective employee and hiring the wrong person into the company as a result. This is bad for you, but more importantly bad for the person. In the end you will end up parting ways, but it would be best to just not make this mistake to begin with. So be tough and ask a lot of technical questions during the interview.

Tip 5: Avoid hiring non-technical managers

You do not need these type of people on a small team. If everyone is sharp, knows what they are doing and executes on a task, why do you need a manager? People who try to overlay complex processes on top your objectives are going to slow you down and make you frustrated.

Tip 6: Cultivate an agile culture

Modern startups need to move very quickly. There is no room to plan for 6 months and then execute because someone else will get there first. The new approach is to evolve the system. Of course you are doing planning for the next release, but you are iterating quickly, doing frequent builds, and constantly making changes. Coding becomes sculpting.

Tip 7: Do not re-invent the wheel

A lot of startups go overboard with their infrastructure. This includes two types of things - rebuilding libraries and building your own world-class scaling. On the first point - there are so many fantastic open source libraries out there that it just does not make sense to write them in house. Whether you are using JavaScript or PHP or .NET or Python or Ruby, there are likely already libraries out there that can help you. Re-writing existing libraries is a waste of your time and you are not likely to do it better.

5 Infrastructure Tips for Startups

It is much easier to build web-scale startup these days because of great hosting services like Rackspace, web services from Amazon, and tracking systems like Google Analytics. In this post we take a closer look at these solutions from the perspective of a startup.

Tip 1: Use the best hosting provider you can afford

As a startup, you are always looking for ways to keep costs down. One of the first areas that seems to be a good place to trim costs and save money is on web hosting. However, skimping on hosting is a mistake that will cost you a lot of time, which is more valuable than the money you will spend. It is okay to go with a cheaper provider when you are just developing the code, but your production needs to run on a rock solid system.

Tip 2: Use Amazon Web Services

You are still likely to need a regular hosting provider, but you should be aware of an increasingly important alternative - Amazon Web Services. This offering from the e-commerce giant is a must-consider piece of infrastructure for any startup. Specifically, four services make it easier to build large-scale web applications: Simple Storage Service, Elastic Compute Cloud, Simple DB, and Simple Queue Service.

Tip 3: Use Google Analytics in standard and creative ways

Early on, startups need to track things. Tracking results are useful for metrics, which in turn help measure growth and success of the company. Without tracking, it is difficult to determine what is going on. Google Analytics is packed with features, but more importantly it has an API. The reason this is important is because you can actually build your own dashboard that offers a different, customized view of the same information.

Tip 4: Start with defaults, then tune the system

In 99.9% of cases you are better off starting with defaults, and in 99.9% of cases you are not going to end up where you started. The trick is to go from those defaults to custom settings in the proper way. Probably the worst thing you can do is premature tuning. Like premature optimization of source code, this leads to ugliness. Why guess before you even know what is going to happen to the system?

Tip 5: Hire or contract a good system administrator

This is the simplest tip of all. Like programming, business development and accounting system management is a specialty best left to professionals. I know my way around Unix, I even used to be a system administrator 15 years ago, but I am not up to par. When you reach a certain size and scale, you need a dedicated person running the hardware and OS show.

11 PR Tips for Startups

PR is a tough game. When the market is red hot, it's hard to get noticed because there are a lot of companies competing for air time. When the market is cool it is hard to get people to pay any attention because they are not interested (tired after the hot market). And for startups it's even tougher to have effective PR because a startup can't throw a lot of money at the problem. In this post we look at how startups should approach PR.

Tip 1: Hire a PR firm

This may come as a surprise, but you do need a PR firm. An early stage startup can't always afford one, but that does not mean that it is not necessary. The number one reason you need a PR firm is because of their connections. They know people, because this is what they do - network.

Tip 2: Do not expect PR people to intimately learn your product

This is not their role. They are connectors, they are the bridge between you and the media. They are responsible for putting you in front of the right press. This is their job. It is your job to pitch your product, to explain why it is so awesome and why everyone should be using it.

Tip 3: Get PR people who understand your space

PR companies have specialties, not all of them are right for you. For example, if you are in the consumer Internet space, do not hire a PR firm that specializes in mobile technologies - they're not the same thing. If you are a consumer Internet company, you need a firm that knows blogosphere inside out, because this is how you reach your early adopter crowd.

Tip 4: Launch your product at a conference

The reason for this is that you are likely to get a lot more media coverage and instant attention than if you launch just any old time. But the conference needs to fit. For launches, you can do one of two things: launch at a specialized conference such as DEMO (which we recommend) or you can launch in a non-startup conference which has a launchpad feature. For example, Web 2.0 events typically present 10-15 startups, as do conferences like Supernova. It does not make sense to launch at a conference that does not have any startup participation because it won't be the proper context for your launch.

Tip 5: Create demos, videos, pictures, and slides

A newsflash: press releases are dead. We have found them to be completely ineffective. To the point of zero leads. Zero. Instead, you need to prepare a new kind of media. Remember that people are spoiled these days, so they will have high expectations. If you think you can show up and tell them that you got the best new technology, hand wave, and then expect a write up, you are dreaming. You need to prepare. You need to distill your product and the message into something easily digestible, and you need to be very clear.

Tip 6: Do not launch or release big news on Monday or Friday

This may or may not be obvious but there are only 3 days when things get done: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. These are the best days to launch your product, in that order. Monday could work, but in the afternoon, because in the morning people still can't believe that the weekend is over. Fridays are really bad for PR - everyone is just waiting for the weekend.

Tip 7: Emailing after an introduction is more effective

One thing you have to understand about A-list bloggers like Michael Arrington, Richard MacManus, Om Malik and their colleagues is that they are getting thousands of emails each day from startups. It is physically impossible for them to process and respond to all that email. You may find that unfair, but this is just a simple fact. So once again, this is where a PR firm or at least a friendly connection via LinkedIn will come in handy. If you are introduced, the chances are far better that you will be heard. (No guarantees that you will be written up.)

Tip 8: Set an embargo and stick with it

This is something that we had to learn over and over again. Everyone wants an exclusive. Each blog that does news, wants to be first with the news. This is just the name of the game. If you do give an exclusive to one, you are running a big danger of not getting coverage in others. The way around this issue is to setup an embargo (meaning they can't blog about your launch until certain time) and then brief everyone prior to that and give them time to write about you.

Tip 9: Make sure people do not write without a brief from someone in your company

There has been a trend lately of writing based on a press release. While this does get you coverage, it is likely to do more bad than good. It is not just that you want to be heard, you want to be heard correctly. The key to that is to get a chance to tell your story directly to a reporter. A post based on a press release is likely to be wrong and harmful, while a post based on a one-on-one interaction is more likely to get it right.

Tip 10: Understand that major media coverage will not happen overnight

Chasing an article in a major magazine or newspaper like Wired or MIT Technology Review or the New York Times is not worth it. Their reporters will not write a feature until it becomes crystal clear that you are a huge success and are worthy of a feature. Instead of spending efforts on that, you are better off making the product really great and getting people to use it and evangelize it for you. The mainstream media will find you.

Tip 11: Community is the best PR strategy

It is very difficult to achieve continuous PR unless you do it via your own users. A thousand passionate users who have blogs and social network profiles can promote your product and expose you to more people than coverage on top blogs and magazines. For better or worse, news today is cheap. A post stays on the main page of a blog or newspaper site for a few hours and then scrolls out into a black hole. Google occasionally brings an old post to those who seek it, but realistically, news just flies by and no one wants yesterday's news.

7 Conference Tips for Startups

We have been to quite a few conferences already and more than a few people have asked me which conferences are good. The problem is not that some conferences are bad, it's just that some conferences may not be the right venue for your startup. In this post we are going to share with you our experiences in the tech conference world.

Tip 1: Launch at DEMO

DEMO is a great venue because its sole focus is to launch companies. Despite the fact that you will be one of over sixty participants, you will be given the stage and attention. The show is very intense, as it takes place in only two days. Each company is given exactly 6 minutes. The stage presentations are mixed with pavilion presentations which are a few hours long.

Tip 2: Sponsor/attend a few high impact conferences

ETech, SWSX and Defrag are our top picks so far. Make sure there is a fit between the conference and your product. Check out who else is sponsoring, and get feedback and blog posts from last year's attendees before signing up.

Tip 3: Rent the best equipment you can afford

Whatever it takes to make your product look good. It simply does not make sense to spend money on the sponsorship and try to save on the equipment. Save on the hotel and airfare instead.

Tip 4: Save money by staying in a hotel near by

You can stay anywhere reasonably close. The only thing you'd be missing is hanging with the people at the bar in the evening. Then again, that could be useful because drunk people talk more.

Tip 5: Don't grab people to look at your product

Some people do it, I am against it. How would you feel if you were grabbed and pressured into watching a demo?

Tip 6: Don't tolerate upsells

This is a sensitive topic, but it is a very important one. Unfortunately a lot of people at these events are not there to see you, they are there to use you. Consider people who are looking for a job. It is perfectly reasonable for someone to come over and hand you a resume. It is not reasonable for them to take up a lot of your time or to ask a lot about your company. Get their information quickly and tell them you will be in touch.

Tip 7: Organize PR around the conference

Conferences are a great and maybe rare chance to interact with reporters and bloggers face-to-face. However, it is not a straightforward practice. Reporters are humans and as such, they play games. If you approach them head on they will say no for no particular reason. Somehow you need to make them feel special, which is not easy. It is a good idea to get a press list and contact reporters in advance and arrange appointments. You may get a no over the phone, but they might just come by your booth anyway when they have a free minute. If this sounds like dating, it very much feels that way too.

5 Legal and Finance Tips for Startups

You are unlikely to think about lawyers and accountants when you dream up a piece of software that will change the world. Yet, if you want to build a real company you need to take care of the basics. While not the primary focus of your business, administrative functions are very important because they have impact on your daily life and the long term growth of your business. The main trick is to be aware of what needs to be done and do it quickly and effectively.

Tip 1: Setup a real company

The first step to setting up a business is to declare it to the world. Lots of startups in the garage might think that setting up a company does not make sense until you get the business off the ground. The idea of first writing the code and then incorporating is just plain wrong. First you need to figure out what kind of company are you creating and what is the ownership structure. Setting up a company is cheap and quick and it is an important starting point for your business. What you get in return is: legal protection, alignment of everyone's expectations, and basic knowledge about how companies work.

Tip 2: Get a Delaware LLC or Inc.

Likely the best way for you to setup a company is to create a Delaware Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) or a full C-Corporation (Inc). Delaware has traditionally been an attractive place for companies to set up shop because of its tax laws. The important difference between an LLC and an Inc is in how they treat taxes and the number of shareholders. The LLC is generally much simpler to maintain and it allows pass through taxes, which is good for companies that have income in the early days. Revenue can be treated as income to shareholders and only taxed once. In an Inc the tax is paid twice, first by the corporation and then again by the employees, as part of their regular withholding.

Tip 3: Don't save money on a lawyer

A lawyer? Are you kidding me?! Why would we need a lawyer for our brand new startup in a garage? As it turns out, there are a whole bunch of reasons and there is not much wiggle room here. Because a company is a legal entity having a lawyer is essential. For starters here is the list of things and documents that your lawyer should do for you in the first days and months of your business:

* Incorporate your business
* Create articles of incorporation
* Create corporate bylaws and maintain board minutes
* Create a shareholder agreement
* Create employment agreements
* Create a stock options plan

Tip 4: Get an accountant and, more importantly, a bookkeeper

Just like the legal aspects of a startup cannot be ignored, neither can the financial aspects. And unlike the legal stuff, which is mostly a one time deal, finances are ongoing and require continuous attention. To deal with finances you need two kinds of people: accountants and bookkeepers. The accountants are skilled in complexities and intricacies of tax law. They also conducts audits or reviews of the company, typically once a year. Accountants typically do not keep books because they are expensive (kind of like lawyers, maybe a bit cheaper). Instead the books are kept by bookkeepers and so to find a kick ass bookkeeper is another really important thing you need to do when you start a company. You can go either with an individual or with a service. I always prefer an individual became there is an opportunity to develop a relationship and get more personalized service.

Tip 5: Turn boring into learning

You have to take care of legal and financial aspects of the startup, so why not turn it into a learning experience? The legal and financial aspects of your company are important and interesting, and there are a lot of new things and ideas that you will encounter that are likely to impress you. Learning about them will help you in the long run.