Tool to help you schedule meetings?

If you are or have been a corporate citizen like me, you'd appreciate how much help you can get from Outlook in coordinating and scheduling meetings. But the moment you want to do that with people outside the company, who by the way are the more valuable people for you to deal with, you are out of luck.

Today, Tungle launched a service to solve this problem, I'd tried their preview version and was quite impressed. Check it out yourself:

Tele-Presence Magic

Here's a video showing the magic of a future version of Tele-Presence, done by another group of colleagues at the company. This is as close to a StarTrek experience as you'll get.

Interesting Finds at the Virtual World Conference

The San Jose Convention Center was lightly occupied, but most players in the virtual world space showed up (except 2nd life), among them are a number of interesting companies.

Planet 9 Studios: provider of detailed models of some 50 US cities including SF, San Jose and Palo Also.

SceneCaster: helps you build full 3D virtual scences. Ran into old friend Jeff Smith who just joined this company as VP of BizDev.

ActiveWorlds: helps you actually build your own 3D world, the client is a 2M ActiveX plug-in.

MultiVerse: started by a bunch of Netscape guys, offers the platform (with similar capabilities as ActiveWorlds) for free, until the developer started to charge the end users, then we'll take 10% of the gross. Spoke with the "executive producer" and came away impressed.

Forterra Systems: another platform provider, with client side extensibility (with DLLs), but unfortunately bloats that to 20-400M. One of the few that's completely not in the entertainment business.

Poser: a great tool for designing a sophisticated avatar for yourself.

My boring labor day afternoon

So I'm starting to build some simple stuff as a prototype, and never knew it I'd run into all this trouble. As I have a hosted Linux machine, I thought it'd be simple for me to set it up.

First is emacs, no sweat, the machine is a hosted server, so no X stuff, I had to get the "emacs-nox" package, turned on font-lock, looked weird in my secure_ssh, mucked around and couldn't get the ANSI colors to work right, eventually switched to Putty and everything was fine. Set up my .emacs again.

Ran into a nasty problem getting Smarty set up, everything went well but the sample code just doesn't want to come up. Went into its source code and put gazilliion lines of printf and figured out there's some problem with type-casting in PHP. Was doubting my PHP engine version wasn't right, but then no mention of that in the Smarty docs. Finally I was able to write a bit simple code segment myself and figured out array itself isn't working with "foreach", such fundamental stuff. The 1,800,000 related pages on Google didn't help much when I searched "php array foreach". A stroke of genius later, I added 4.3.10 the php version and got a couple of php bug report that describes this, and figured out the problem is not with php but with the zend optimizer engine.

Of course, my phpinfo() doesn't say that I had a zend optimizer, but something else looks suspicious enough to be like a zend optimizer, it's the ionCube loader or something. Not wanting to upgrade anything, I disabled it, and sure enough, everything worked, and I saw "Hello, Ned!".

Can't believe I'm debugging all this stuff with all the other things I could be doing...

Head of Technology Wanted, Great Opportunities

So a couple of agencies mentioned to me a number of available supposedly high level and high profile opportunities.

  • Head of technology at a major technology provider of automation solution/platform for the insurance industry, in New York city.
  • Head of technology at a new start-up, recently funded by name brand VC, and was regarded (by WSJ, etc.) as a hot company. This is in the bay area.
Drop me a line if you or anyone you know might be interested.

Mobile TV Chip Makers

Was recently introduced to a couple of companies working on chips for the upcoming mobile TV revolution (just hang in there, it will happen soon).

First one is headed by a friend, according to their publicly available information, produces a chip to support the CMMS mobile TV standard in China, they don't have an integrated tuner. Their web site is at

The second one is based in the Silicon Valley, again according to their web site, they seem to have a solution with integrated tuner, and supports the DVB-T, DVB-H and regular NTSC/PAL standards. They claim to have optimized greatly for power consumption. More info at