- [On Writing] Biz dev emails and first impressions – Signal vs. Noise
Yesterday I got an email from a biz dev guy at a company that syncs data between different applications from different companies.This was the first line of the email:
I work for an enterprise level integration company that is looking to attack the long tail of the market for point to point integration solutions.
Archive for January, 2008
This past weekend, a group of us from South Florida flew up north to play in the 40+ division of the 2008 Lake Placid Pond Hockey Tournament. This is a photo diary of our epic adventure.
Leaving the (warm) Boca Raton, FL airport on the Embraer Legacy (thank you Stu!). From left to right, that’s John, Dan, Steve, Chip, Stu, and Laurent. Great, great guys all around.
Game 1 – we lost to the Chiefs from Boston – by a lot!
We lost game 2 to another team from Boston, but the score was much closer. Across the street, we do what the Prowlers do best! We were too tired to walk the 500 yards to the hotel, so we had to stop halfway for refreshments.
Game 3 was first thing in the morning. The ice was perfect and we beat up on a team from Massachusetts. They had the best sweaters in the tournament, but they were not happy to be whipped by some South Florida boys! The rest of the teams were real happy for us. Of course, no one is really from South Florida – we are originally from Maine, Boston, Montreal, Long Island, Connecticut, and California (me!).
In game 4 we lost a real close one to a team from Darien, CT. I heard they went on to win the silver medal. This is after the game – most people just don’t understand how friendly and nice most hockey players are. ALL the teams talked, hung out, and drank beer together all weekend. We were discussing it on the way home and most of us think it has to do with their upbringing and their parents involvement growing up playing hockey. Throw in the discipline and sportsmanship instilled by the sport, and that all adds up to solid, grounded people that are great to hang out with.
After hockey we went to the Olympic Jumping Center. To get to the top of the big 120 meter ski jump ramp, you take a chair lift to the top of the mountain THEN you take an elevator up 26 STORIES!!! It’s absolutely ridiculous how high these guys are when they start down the ramp.
We then went to the Olympic Sports Complex for a bobsled ride. The public starts halfway down the course, but you still go over 60 mph, pull 2 G’s, and get parallel to the ground in the turns! I almost puked. Highly recommended.
Where miracles happen! This is the inside of Herb Brooks Arena. The whole town was full of hockey – 40 teams at the pond hockey tourney, a high school prep tournament going on the three indoor rinks, and pick-up games on Mirror Lake. Everywhere you looked, there were people carrying sticks and bags all over town – it was the happiest place on earth! The bars saw a lot of action too.
Games went into the night. See the fire in the middle keeping people warm.
And if you didn’t get enough in your games, you could get more on the lake. The ice was too thin to hold the weight of the tournament games, so they moved those to the Oval, but there was enough ice for small groups to skate on.
On our last morning, we played a little pick-up before breakfast. The sun was out, and there was a light dusting of snow. We were too lazy to shovel a real rink out, but we had a blast!
We skated about a quarter mile down the lake – that’s the hotel way in the background. That’s Chip and me – a 15 year age difference – but Chip was skating like a kid that morning!
One happy dude! After 34 years of hockey – growing up in California – that’s the first time skating on a frozen lake.
Final shot from the hotel lobby before leaving for the airport.
Happy crew leaving on the Citation X for warmer weather. Even with the sore legs and backs, smiles all around!
Bloody Mary – breakfast of champions! Medically necessary to kill the pain in my lower back.
Three hours later – the radically different (and unfrozen) water of Palm Beach.
And three great reasons to come home!
More pics (if you can stand it) at Flickr.
Update: The AP did a cool little video on the tournament here.
Continuing the theme of love, standards, and sharing in the New Year, it’s good to see the news from Zillow, Yahoo!, Trulia, and other real estate listing sites that they will work together with RESO to ensure data standardization using RETS. That’s a big win for the brokers and the real estate industry as a whole, as it will add great efficiency to their processes. The RETS Data Schema workgroup deserves a lot of credit for creating a thorough and flexible XML schema over the last couple of years. I know that was a lot of work, but it’s showing great results now.
Coverage in the press and blogoshpere has been very positive:
Lot’s of love going around this first full week of 2008. Nice to see everybody coming together – New Year’s resolutions perhaps?
- Facebook, Google, and Plaxo join the DataPortability Workgroup. Goal is to release your data from the clutches of your social network in a standard way.
- The OpenID train steams ahead: Google, IBM, and Verisign said to be joining. Goal is to allow you to login to all your favorite sites in a standard way with one id.
- Connecting Standards at Inman in NYC. Goal is to leverage the work done by RESO on the standard RETS2 schema to allow more efficient syndication and updating of real estate listing data.
Standards allow developers to concentrate on creating value with their products instead of worrying about creating proprietary methods for authentication, import/export, etc. This leads to more efficient tools for consumers and businesses.
Did I miss any related standards announcements? Leave them in the comments.
To start the new year off right, Mike Wurzer composed a great open letter to all the public sites that expose listing data on behalf of brokers – including Yahoo!, Google, Trulia, and Zillow. It encourages the use of common data standards to make it easier, cheaper, and more efficient for brokers to upload listing data and keep it updated.
Right now, brokers have to spend time and money inputting their listing data into the numerous (and growing) consumer sites. If they develop technology to automate getting their data from the MLS or back office systems into one of these public sites, they still have to write code to interact with the API’s and data formats of each site individually. If you want your listings on a dozen sites, you must write code, test, debug, and keep updated with all dozen, and in a dozen different formats. I know that for RE/Max International (we run remax.com and handle around 75% of their US office traffic), the limiting factors for widespread syndication of their listing data has been cost and effort. Right now, we are syndicating listings for many offices to GoogleBase on their behalf, but that project has not been extended to other sites. Instead, it is left up to individual brokers or regions to handle their own listing syndication.
Over the past couple of years, the Schema Workgroup of RETS has done a fantastic job creating new XML schemas for real estate data sharing. The schemas describing listing data are particularly well developed, having been hammered on by MLS staff, MLS system vendors, client vendors, and other technical staff for over a year. Others in the real estate technology space would be well served to utilize this intellectual property – and help the RETS group improve on it – to accomplish the common goal of providing better tools and lower costs to the brokerage community. These standard schemas should easily fit into their current processes, utilizing simple XSLT transformations to convert the standard XML schema into their current proprietary schemas. This small addition to the workflow of a few sites would amount to a tremendous savings on the input side of thousands of participants – the brokers and the MLS’s – and encourage increased participation.
Only when we have consistent standards do we see an increase in the creation of tools, increases in efficiency, and lowering of costs. The participation of these leading web sites in the mission of the Real Estate Standards Organization will go a long way toward ensuring adoption of these standards.