Archive for the 'Germany' Category

Playing with brainR

Thursday, March 1st, 2007

BrainR is small web app from Germany that lets you do simple brainstorming. Here’s my question (in German). Feel free to chime in.

Btw, I’m interested in both the topic and the tool.

Say farewell to the Startupgermany blog

Monday, February 19th, 2007

Startupgermany has been a blog experiment I started almost a year ago. I wanted to dig into some of the issues and challenges related to “the future made in Germany” (e.g. education, economic growth, unemployment, social security, demographic changes, immigration, innovation, our place in Europe etc.), and how we Germans, as a society, manage to address them (or not, depending on how pessimistic you are):

  • How do we want to live in the future?
  • What do we need to do in order to get there?
  • What are our strenghts, where do we need to get better, and what can we learn from others?

While I’m still very much interested in these questions (in fact, I believe they are quite essential), I have found that the blog has not been the right way to approach them. At least not the way I set it up. That and the fact that I have spent more time on other things over recent months has led to the blog’s being silent pretty much since August 2006.

So, time to bid this blog farewell. It will shut down some time over the next few weeks probably. I may have already found someone with a successor project, which I’m sure will make much better use of the domain.

Join me on JoinR!

Monday, February 12th, 2007

I’m on JoinR.  Feel free to join me.

Not that I need another social network (I don’t even know if it’s any good), but it’s from Germany so I’m biased.

They’ve been making good use of their blog (in German) leading up to the launch.

Neue Deutsche Welle 2.0 (Da Da Da)

Sunday, February 4th, 2007

In case you’re roughly my age and from Germany (or for some odd reason ended up spending the ’80s there), you know what I mean: The Meebo Super Bowl XIL ad features one of Trio’s (the band) big hits.

I clearly remember when they would perform on the more traditional music shows on TV at the time (this was before the dawn of cable in Germany — all we had was three and a half friggin’ channels) and older folks would shake their heads (in what can best be described as a combination of both befuddlement and disgust) and go like: What’s that. That’s not music. He can’t even sing!

Imagine what you would have to do today to cause a scandal…

The benefits of bankruptcy

Saturday, January 27th, 2007

Robert Young at GigaOm: Bankruptcy: The Opportunity to Fail

A former mentor, and a very smart man, once told me that the greatest invention in this democracy and capitalist system we live in and know as the United States is, of all things, bankruptcy. Yep, bankruptcy… the opportunity to fail.


Simply put, we live in a country that encourages dreamers to take risks, and the laws protect those “entrepreneurs” from the potentially excessive consequences of failure. Bankruptcy laws enable risk-takers to protect themselves and start over. There is no other nation on this planet that by its very by-laws fosters such an economic environment. This spirit, the acceptance of failure, while counter-intuitive, is crucial to this country’s enormous success within the world economy.

Sure enough, a couple of folks from Germany weigh in (both are non-German):

Anne Koark says:

I am British and have been living in Germany for 21 years. In 2003 I went bankrupt with my company. Here failure is completely stigmatized. So much so that many entrepreneurs affected by failure are suicidal. …

Anon says:

… I’m also an ex-pat American living in Berlin, Germany. What this country largely lacks is the spark of originality and creativity coming from America’s entrepreneurs. As an American, you take all that for granted until you move away. Americans really have a knack for coming up with new ideas, and should be proud of this.

My fellow Germans: Unless we make it easy to fail, we won’t get anywhere.

Bridging the gap: USA Explained (USA Erklärt)

Saturday, January 27th, 2007

One of the finest blogs I have encountered over the past year (in German): USA Erklärt

Just earlier tonight, I was talking to a fellow SJSU econ student about the importance of “transatlantic translators” between Germany and the US (and vice versa) in order to overcome the pitfalls of commonly accepted stereotypes.

Anyway, Kansas’ or Kansas’s — who’s to judge who’s wrong or right here?

Widgets, Shmidgets?

Thursday, January 18th, 2007

Valleywag says the enthusiasm for widgets is “entirely out of proportion to their importance” and gives five reasons why: Against widgets

4. Business model. Finally, enthusiasm for widgets is contributing to unhealthy internet hype. Some companies, such as Imagelooop, are raising money specifically to develop tools for Myspace users. Let’s get something straight here. A widget is an affiliate marketing program, no more, no less; the maker is entirely dependent on the tolerance of the page’s owner or a network such as Myspace. Any widget maker that tries to sneak in their own advertising — and most of them entertain such fantasies — will be swiftly slapped down.

Which is exactly what might be happening right now, as GigaOm reports: MySpace Blocking Widgets?

Our instinct on this one is that it is a test, and FIM is testing how far they can push the widget makers. Saber rattling is the word, but we would appreciate your feedback in realtime. If FIM does decide to erect a toll booth, well the widget economy is going to have its first fiscal crisis. We will follow-up with FIM and find out.

A few more ideas for what could work.

FormCamp Munich, February 13-14

Friday, January 12th, 2007

Wow, totally hadn’t heard of this one: FormCamp is happening in Munich this weekend, February 13-14, sponsored by Yahoo.

At FormCamp, they are trying to build an easy-top-use form framework that will help build forms quickly while taking into account things like form validation and overall accessibility.

Via web output: Barcamps 2007 - es geht weiter ab!

StudiVZ company blog hacked

Wednesday, January 10th, 2007

Recently acquired German social network StudiVZ has had a number of security issues over recent months.

In an interview today (Jan 10) with German weekly Manager Magazin, Holtzbrinck Networks CEO Konstantin Urban said:

StudiVZ is a company that has grown extremely fast in recent years, has billions of pageviews, and has a need for massive server capacity. It’s not surprising that there were some technical problems during the time after the company got started.

Of course things had to be revamped, and StudiVZ has done just that. Data security has been established. A short while ago, Chaos Computer Club tried unsuccessfully to hack the system. The site is stable now. …

Translation mine.

Well, as for the security part of what he said, someone must have disagreed.

The official StudiVZ company blog, which is run on Wordpress, has been hacked. At 12.00am, Thursday morning German time, the following message appeared:

Dear StudiVZ folks,

The new official owner of your personal data, Konstantin Urban of Holtzbrinck Ventures, seems to know as much about data security as the wanna-bes whom you have entrusted so many details about yourselves in the past: nothing. He impertinently claims Chaos Computer Club has “unsuccessfully attempted to hack the system” and therefore everything is really secure now.

“Of course things had to be revamped, and StudiVZ has done just that. Data security has been established. A short while ago, Chaos Computer Club tried unsuccessfully to hack the system. The site is stable now.”

[http://www.manager-magazin.de/it/artikel/0,2828,druck-458408,00.html]

Unfortunately, that is completely wrong.

Chaos Computer Club does not participate in these types of “Why don’t you try to hack us?” gimmicks such as the contest announced by Studivz. Regrettably it sometimes happens that some morons claim to act “on behalf of CCC,” as may have happened in this case. However, this has nothing to do with Chaos Computer Club.

Chaos Computer Club is currently dealing with matters of greater importance, e.g. the lost trust in voting computers, the dangers of biometric passports, and the fight against total surveillance from data retention in telecommunications. Maybe you, too, have better things to do than to voluntarily throw your data at a profit-oriented collecting society, and you take care of your own life, the world outside, and the real problems of mankind.

Many thanks

This is a machine-generated message in the interest of public security. It is valid without a signature.

Translation mine.

Whoever is behind this message, at least we know they have a sense of humor.

The posting has been taken down (the entire blog has been offline for the past three hours), though screenshots are already available elsewhere.

Some bloggers speculate that this exploit was may have been used in the attack.

Over at the Blogbar, someone in the comments asks whether the attacker was able to access and change the admin password, knock on the doors of other databases, create dumps, manipulate data etc.

I guess we will find out soon.

Mistakes happen. And I’m usually all for cutting young startups some slack when something gets screwed up (and they do everything they can to fix it). But man, has this been a long series of security mishaps at StudiVZ.

Web Monday, January 2007: Bielefeld, Berlin, Kiel, Stuttgart, Vienna, Bremen, Cologne, Karlsruhe, Jena, Frankfurt, Silicon Valley

Wednesday, January 10th, 2007

With a total of eleven Web Mondays, January is shaping up to be our busiest month yet.

You know what to do:

  • Mark your calendars, spread the word, bring your friends, bring your colleagues (heck, bring your boss)!
  • Share your insights, give a remarkable talk, or demo your hot, new, curve-jumping, paradigm-shifting, patent-pending, world-changing, revolutionary, first-mover app!!
  • Have fun inventing the future of the internet!

January 15:

January 22:

January 29:

One of my key goals for the development and further growth of Web Monday in 2007 is better sharing across what will soon be 20 different locations.

I would like to take the opportunity and encourage everyone to make sure their demos, presentations and talks at every event get recorded or otherwise properly documented (photos, podcasts, videos — you name it) so we can make them available online.

Yes, Web Monday is about to get its own blog shortly (and podcast, I assume).

Happy New Year!