Category Archives: Darren Herman

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 :)

Brand Affinity on the Tee

While living in Manhattan, it was very hard to get to the golf course on a regular basis due to having to travel outside of the city to play. Now that I’m back in suburbia, golf courses are abundant, and there is ample opportunity to play (my grandfather, father-in-law, friends, etc). I had a bit of free time this past Sunday as Sherri was at a bridal shower for my cousin Dean’s fiance so I packed up a few of my golf clubs and went to Fairview Golf Center in Elmsford, NY to hit a few golf balls at the driving range and to test out some new drivers.

Fairview Golf Center Logo I am in the market for a new driver this season so did a little research before I got to the proshop and wanted to sample the Cobra, Callaway, and Nike drivers. I sampled about 7-8 different drivers and ended up really liking the Ping G5, Cleveland Hibore XL, and the Nike SQ Sumo. For the most part, I was hitting 200-275 with those clubs and fairly straight. Not bad!

There was something special about the Nike SQ Sumo club. For whatever reason, when the pro handed it to me, I got excited. I grew up wearing Nike sneakers, watching Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods… and now, Lebron James. While I was playing ice hockey, Nike was just emerging as a leader in hockey equipment and started dominating the market. Basically, wherever I played sport, Nike was there… and they dominated.Nike Tiger Woods Golf

I couldn’t wait to hit the club as I walked up to the practice tee. It held up nicely. Very nicely. I was skeptical at first as to whether or not the club would play well against Ping, Callaway, and Cleveland which are native golf organizations but it really did. The club had a little pizazz to it as well… a bit of yellow on the head and a multicolor face. It stood out nicely.

Nike did very well with me. I showed extreme loyalty to the brand as the club hit just as well [to me] as the Ping and Cleveland. The club felt fantastic and sporting the swoosh put a little hop in my step. I’ll never be Tiger, but I wouldn’t mind having the same tools of the trade as him.

Check out Wikipedia’s definition of the Q Score if you’re interested in learning more about brand affinity and measuring the familiarity with a brand. In this article in Fast Company, Linda Tischler talks about that a brand must not function well, but must also feel good too. Nike struck that chord with me more than any of the other clubs. Maybe we should compare advertising spending between the club brands?

Do we need to be turned on 24/7? Unless you're Jenna Jameson….

I’m fairly digital.  Not just I think so… according to the Pew Internet Study just released (May 7, 2007), I rank in the top 8% of their sample group.  There are times though that I’d like to turn off- not just the time that I’m away on vacation, but times that I do not want to be reached via phone, mobile, text message, email, IM, twitter, or any other means of communication.  I’m not a loner… just need some time away from digital communication.

Darren's Picture I think there should be (correct me if it already exists!) a personal answering service that is a ‘tech layer’ between you and your communication devices that filter all communication coming in – and maybe even going out.

The tech layer/filter allows communication based on rules setup by each individual user.  Rules can include hours of availability [to let calls thru], phone number routing, key people, etc.

I’d find this very helpful and would pay a monthly fee for it… or, should my email/voice/text/etc providers make this free of charge with the service I’m currently paying for?

Would you like this?

Who Said Moving Was Easy?

As some of you may know, I am currently moving my primary residence out of the Upper East Side and over to Westchester County and the move has officially started.  The actual day of the move is tomorrow but we’re packing, packaging, taping, bubble wrapping, breaking, laughing, and getting ready for the big day.   Lets just say some things haven’t gone as smoothly as I would have liked, but all in all, we’re in good shape.

With that said, I will not be posting until late Sunday night (earliest) or into next week.  I wanted to list a bunch of links that I find really interesting on the web and maybe one or two will educate or entertain you.

Signing off for the weekend….