Category Archives: Darren Herman

A Bad Way To Wake Up – Spammers

I woke up at 5:45am today to go to the gym.  Usually, before I go, I check my email to see if anything urgent came in over night.  Well, nothing urgent came in, other than over 5,000 “Return to Sender” emails for a penis enlargement for Man XL.  It looks as though someone broke into my GMAIL account and sent out a heck of a lot of emails.

Not only is this frustrating for the short term, but it’s scary for the long term.  Why?  My GMAIL account has so much information within it (sensitive, confidential) and for the future of web applications, this does not bode well.  Security on the web is going to need to be significantly improved if you think Morgan Stanley or Goldman Sachs is going to put their financial data online for web applications.

I changed my password immediately on GMAIL but don’t know what else to do.  I cleaned up my inbox, but may have missed some emails (deleted by accident).  If you had sent me an email after 11PM EST last night, please resend.  I am now debating on moving my entire email infrastructure away from GMAIL onto my own domain, so I’m not relying on anyone elses email.

Would love to hear your thoughts on what I should do….

Frustrated in New York.

Where Did Morals and Ethics Go? Or Am I Too Old School?

I’ve been pondering this posting for quite some time and I thought there was no better time to post it than today, as NBC Universal and News Corp are about to roll-out their YouTube Killer.  I think my parents did an excellent job raising me.  They weren’t too strict at all but certainly set ground rules.  I think I ‘stole’ a pack of baseball cards when I was 5, but that was because my mother was rushing me out of the store when she realized I had a pack of cards in my hands, when we were halfway down the block.  I ended up getting lectured about stealing – and I don’t think I ever did it again… until I was about 12.

The bulletin board systems (BBS) were getting popular and people started trading software on their computers.  Note:  Trading.  Not buying and selling.  “Warez” became a popular term amongst a niche crowd and I remember programs like HotlineSW.  These programs helped me figure out where to find the latest version of Photoshop or Kais Power Tools (back in the day, I was very into graphics).  The interesting thing was, is that I downloaded all of these programs for free but purchased hundreds of dollars of books to teach myself how to use them.

Adobe started cracking down on all of the pirated software vendors and users so I stopped downloading illegally.  Friends of mine continued with the justification of, “I’m downloading 1 copy of maybe 5 programs… the industry is not going to come after me, as I’m a guppy in a sea of sharks.”  That maybe true, but what about morals and ethics?

Fast forward to the end of highschool and into college.  Fanning started Napster (with the ‘lost’ roomate) and we began downloading MP3s like no tomorrow.  Artists started yelling and screaming, record labels flipped out, and the world was going to meltdown it seemed.  Well, it didn’t.  The music industry is still adjusting to post-Napster days (Kazaa, Morpheus, eDonkey, etc) but I stopped downloading illegal music.  Personally, I took a stance that artists need to get paid for their work, and if they want me to download it free, they’ll let me know, but if not, I’ll buy it in the stores or on iTunes.  Also, I prefer to own the album/CD, as I like coverart and the package.  However, millions of people are taking music files that are being sold in stores and are acquiring them free.  illegally.  What about morals and ethics?

The video game industry is facing a huge issue of piracy.  I’ve heard numbers quoted that of every game sold in South America, 10 games are pirated.  That’s a 1:10 ratio.  Ridiculous.  The number may actually be higher, I’m just too lazy to factcheck this article (they don’t pay me enough, that’s a JOKE, it’s my blog).  Why buy the games if you can get them off the grey market for free?  Good question – but what about morals and ethics?

I had a recent meeting with a very prominent venture capitalist who was giving me some advice on a new venture I’m advising.  He told me to side with the ‘bad guys” as that’s where the consumers are.  He said eventually, the industry will have no other choice than to play-ball.  However, by siding with the ‘bad guys’, I’m contributing to a major problem in the industry and not paying attention to my personal morales and ethics.  How is that supposed to work?

Companies who have taken the rebellious routes include Napster, Kazaa, YouTube, IGE, and others.  I don’t consider Skype rebellious as they legally facilitated phone calls across the world, just through a new technical structure.

I’m 25.  I’m not 60.  Am I really that old?  Am I wrong here for thinking this way?  I realize that rebels tend to be successful, but at what price?  What are your thoughts?  Maybe I was raised too conservatively?

Posting Will Resume on Monday…

I’m going to be devoid of the blogosphere starting today thru Sunday as some of my best friends are taking me out on my bachelor party.  I have no idea where I’m going or what I’m doing – but in 30 minutes, they will be arriving to pick me up.  Stories & Pics to follow…. have a great weekend!

Interesting links to read:


Driving a Million Dollars+ Worth of Cars

What’s your typical day in the office like? If you’re like my brother, Kenny “the Suit”, he gets to drive over $1M+ worth of cars on the back roads of New York. I’m staring at PowerPoint, Excel spreadsheets, and sitting with clients.

If you’ve got 6 minutes to spare and are a car aficionado, check out this YouTube video of FastLaneDaily. Ferrari’s, Lamborghini’s, Porsche’s, Aston Martin’s galore, all introduced by Kenny.

iPhone Update

Apple iPhoneIt took 24 hours for my service to be activated on the iPhone, even though I was already a Cingular/AT&T subscriber.  While that 24 hours was in limbo, my main mobile number that was being ported over was out of service and it was nice to be unreachable for the day.

However, at approximately 6:15pm, I called AT&T and whilst I was on hold, magically, an email appeared in my GMAIL account saying that my service has been activated.  I quickly hung up the house phone (didn’t even get a chance to speak to anyone at AT&T) and ran up to the office to check out the phone.  It worked and it is magnificent.

I played with the phone for about 7 minutes before we left to go to my folks house in White Plains to pick up a few things and to say hi to my brothers friends and their families who were having a BBQ.  The phone was the hit of the party and I think at that point, everyone collectively spent more time with the phone than I did myself!

I initially ported all of my contacts over to the phone by downloading them from Plaxo, which I use frequently at work.  This way, if you call and I’ve got your phone #, it’ll show up as your name.  So, 2700 contacts later, I’m up and running.  I use Outlook in the office for managing my schedule, and I’ll remain with that, but will also start using Google’s Calendaring system that I can have iCal (at home) subscribe to with it’s RSS sync.  This will allow my iPhone to update nightly when I get back from the office and whilst it charges.  Without my schedule, I’m lost… so that was imperative.

I’ve not setup my work email yet but have my gmail account setup.  Was extremely easy and a breeze.  I do not like how it downloads my gmail but doesn’t update the gmail service if I’ve deleted an email or responded.  Oh well, I guess that’s life.

I am looking for the following:

1.  RSS reader for my iPhone.  I guess I can use Google Reader (mobile) – as that’s what I use daily (non-mobile edition)

2.  Sleek case that will protect this little investment

3.  Any tips/tricks that will help me use it

Honestly, I do not see myself using it to listen to music or watch videos.  I’m looking to use this iPhone for Phone/Email/SMS/Calendar… much like a Blackberry.

After a few days, I’ll report back to see if it’s working out for me, if not, I’ve still got my Blackberry 8700 and my Razr in the wings.

Weekend in Review (and a lil' DMB)

Happy Fathers Day!  What a crazy few days…

Saturday, spent the day roaming around Manhattan showing the city to my friend and colleague, Cristian.  We started at the South Street Sea Port and went to the tip of Manhattan to see the Statue of Liberty, then up to Soho to the Apple Store (more on that below), to McSorleys to meetup with a few of my best friends, then out to dinner in the East Village, and then out to Union Square for dessert.  Even stoped in to 15 East to say hi to Masato.

Apple LogoWe went to the Apple store because Sherri needed a new operating system update for her iBook G4.  Her office uses a remote desktop application and her older OS isn’t supported any more.  We spoke to an Apple genius and they showed us what we needed, brought us over to the shelf where they were, asked if we wanted to buy it, then rang us up on the spot – (credit card and all…) and the receipt was emailed directly to me.  We did not have to wait in any lines or walk over to the counter, they swiped my credit card on a Palm (or something)… simply amazing.  It was like my own personal shopping experience!

On the way up to the Lake House today, we were listening to a 1998 concert of the Dave Matthews Band (I know, a shocker) and they were playing Drive In, Drive Out.  I looked all over the internet for this particular line, but couldn’t find it from the studio album.  Dave must have improvised as he was singing, as he does this quite often at his shows:

Don’t sell your soul for gold, you’ll be as good as nothing

This rings true.  Very true.  The minute I heard this line, I thought to myself, how many times do we do things/or put up with things that are wrong… just to make some money?  I can guarantee the majority of folks out there have done this at some point in their life.  For me, life is about learning… and sometimes we get too comfortable in some situations.  As long as I’m challenged and I’m always learning, I’m content and motivated.

We spoke about this briefly in the car and got different points of view on this line… and we all came to the conclusion that different people have different goals in life, but as long as you’re doing ‘good’ (as Google says), you’re doing OK.

Had a fabulous time at the lake house today with both my family and Sherri’s (their first time) and was extremely excited to spend some time with my all-to-busy brother, who is now over at Next New Networks as a network manager [of automotive] and Executive Producer of Fastlane Daily.  If you’re a car enthusiast, you should certainly check out the daily show (weekdays) as they feature extremely relevant auto entusiast news from both the mainstream media and the Internet in short 5-8 minute segments.

Entourage is back and we’re in a new season (technically).  It’s interesting to see a “reality show” of a television show – I’m not sure how much I like this new format but it’s too new to decide.  There was also too much emphasis on the director of the movie focusing his attention on the woman actress, but I’m not a television critic so I’ll stop talking now.

Time for bed.

Creating a Search Engine

I’ve been playing around with the idea of creating a vertical search engine in my spare time (not sure when that even is!) and came across a few really interesting documents that have been guiding me through the anatomy of the search field. Prior to this, I had no real formal training in search other than understanding how search marketing works and following Bruce Clay during my days in marketing Conducive Corporation and product management at FortuneCity.

The monster “thesis” that I have been reading thoroughly is The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine written by the infamous Sergey Brin and Larry Page during their time at Stanford University. I guess you cannot argue with Sergey and Larry as they’ve done it right so far… I mean, a marketcap of $150.64B is more than proving their concept.

I have also spent a fair amount of time reading up on the ht://Dig movement for Internet search engines. Their site breaks down the search methodology into three seperate steps including digging, merging, and searching. It’s a solid primer to show you how important each of the three steps are.

Google MiniAfter a bunch of research not limited to the above, I went and read up on the Google Mini and the Google Search Appliance. I came to the conclusion that I believe that these hardware/software platforms are perfect as they are essentially what I need in a rack mounted server, to be plugged in a data center and after a quick setup, I could be on my way customizing the front-end. I could purchase a unit for under $10,000 and be well on my way of indexing for my vertical search project… but not so fast.

I traded emails with Google’s Enterprise Team early this morning (Monday) and they told me that their products could do what I wanted (within reason) but their EULA does not allow for this. Here is their exact response:

Technically this is doable but the Google Mini EULA won’t allow you to do so. In fact, you may crawl any content that is located on servers that are owned and operated by you or servers that are operated for your benefit. For example, you may crawl your content that resides on servers operated by your hosting company.

Bummer. I thought I had found the short cut to creating a search engine but unfortunately, it’s probably going to be a bit harder now. I’m not 100% sure what I’m going to be using yet nor if I’m going to go forward with this project, but it’s something in which I’m learning a ton and I’m having a great time doing it. If you’ve got any technical search expertise, I’d love to chat with you to hear how you’ve deployed and what tradeoffs you’ve made in terms of hardware and software.

Also, to round out all of Google’s search products, I have been playing with co-op, but need something wholly owned by me as well, as, the ability to customize the front-end and back-end as the project is more than a search engine (but it plays a large role).

NYC Entrepreneurial Space Update

NYC Entrepreneurial Space – Open Source

Back in early April, I alluded to some entrepreneurial space that I was thinking of building out and it got picked up across the blogosphere with overwhelming response.  Had I been a real estate agent here in Manhattan or had already built out this space, I could have filled it up rather quickly.

After about 45 days of dealing with multiple properties and looking at term sheets and arrangements, I decided to pass on this idea, but that does not mean that this idea should die… which is why I’m sharing my thoughts and notes with everyone so maybe they can be used in some other capacity.

My overall vision after having it refined by multiple close friends and colleagues was to create an early stage inspiration space for entrepreneurs to come and conceptualize and incubate their ideas.  This is not the type of space you’d run your ad-sales team out of or code 24/7 with your entire coding team, but rather a bright space that inspires creativity and the place where you can begin writing your business plan, work on selecting co-founders, talk about raising capital, meet your next lawyer/accountant, etc.  My ultimate goal was to create an entrepreneurial network for digital media and technology and have multiple spaces around the world so that people can use them in whichever major city they were traveling to.

This space would have couches, desks, wifi, white boards, bean bags, sofas, coffee tables, but not cubicles or permanent desks that you would sit day-in/day-out for months.  There was a software component that we were going to build that would allow you to reserve space and coordinate when you were going to be there with others – so you could maximize your time in the space by seeing if other likeminded individuals were going to be there at the same time.

Think of this as an entrepreneurs social network with physical space in multiple cities.
  You would pay a monthly fee but would have access to great people and entrepreneurial space that would help you get your startup off the ground.

All of this sounds grand and I was ready to take this all on.  I was going to build out the software with my team and create deals with vendors on a revenue share basis.  Unfortunately, the lead space I wanted to work with was moving much too slow and showed disinterest over time due to a few corporate issues.  Could I have gotten this up and running had there been readily available space?  Probably – and could launch it in 90 days… however, my resource is being spread too thin now and will be fighting battles elsewhere.

If you want to pick up this idea or talk with me about it, I certainly welcome it.  I have learned much while talking to different people relevant to this and could impart anything I’ve learned…even a collection of domain names I was going to use for this project.

If you’re looking for some extremely cost efficient space and want a cool atmosphere in the mean time, check out Sunshine Suites who are opening a new location in Tribeca.  The principals Cheni and Joe are friends of mine and I was fortunate to be a tenant… these guys know how to create a community for their tenants and I’ve referred many nextNY’ers and blog readers to their space and all have thanked me.  You can check them out here.

Long live the NYC entrepreneurial scene…

A sushi review I do not agree with…

Sushi - 15 EastToday, a colleague of mine at IGA Worldwide passed along the most recent issue of New York Magazine because it contained a restaurant review of a sushi place that I have been talking about non-stop:  15 East.  Located right off of Union Square here in Manhattan, it has come to be one of my favorite spots both personally and with clients.  The sushi swims up to the plate (well, not really) but tastes extremely fresh and the executive chef, Masato is absolutely amazing.

New York Magazine didn’t really think so… they gave it 2 stars.  In NY Magazine, 2 stars means very good… but still, I believe it should have gotten at least 3.5 (out of 5).  The review was positive and recommended the place, but would have personally liked to have seen a few more stars to it’s name.

GothamGal also recommends 15 East.

If anyone would like to go to 15 East for an Omakese menu tasting for lunch ($55+), please let me know and maybe we can organize a nextNY/digital media lunch there.  Just a thought…and you can rate this jewel of a restaurant for yourself :)