Monthly archives of “March 2009

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Amir Nathoo, WebMynd, Cambridge & Y Combinator

Amir Nathoo is a Founder and the CEO of WebMynd.com, a really interesting startup company founded a little over a year ago. He spoke on Wednesday this week at an event organized by the Cambridge Network at the offices of Red Gate Software.

Amir spoke about his company and his experiences getting accepted to and going through the Y Combinator program. If you haven’t heard of it, Y Combinator is a really innovative program for software start-up companies. You get a small amount of funding and go through a three-month boot camp of getting your software ideas up and running. The whole time you have incredible mentoring from some of the best web/software advisors in the world, and the program concludes with a Demo Day, where companies show off their software and businesses to press and investors.

It was a great talk, and really brought out the benefits and realities of the Y Combinator program. Matt Schofield, the CEO of the Cambridge Network, wrote a blog post about it here.

Before I forget, you MUST try out WebMynd. They released a brand new version just a few weeks ago and it is AWESOME. You have to have the Firefox browser installed, which I highly recommend. (Go here to download Firefox.) Once you’ve got it, just head to WebMynd’s home page here and click on “Install WebMynd.”

WebMynd does four things:

  1. Gives you more (and potentially more useful) results whenever you do a Google search. This is a fantastic feature.
  2. Records what web pages you’ve been do, so you can literally go back visually to web pages you’ve seen recently.
  3. Keeps a listing of the web pages you’ve been on recently, which lets you easily go back and/or share links.
  4. One-click sharing pages with friends via Twitter, Facebook, etc.

There was some interesting talk on the night about Y Combinator. A few of the Cambridge Angels were there, as well as other investors like Laurence John (CEO of Amadeus Capital Parters Seed Fund). It seems like people are interested in the model, but want to create something that is appropriate for Cambridge. While Cambridge doesn’t have the same level of expertise in web technology as Silicon Valley does, there is some really advanced technology being developed here and a latent entrepreneurial spirit.

Laurence has started discussing this a bit on his blog, and I look forward to hearing more about it. Based on some things he said Wednesday night, it makes sense that any program needs to come from a consortium of angels or VC’s. This eliminates any negative connotation if a particular angel or VC chooses not to further invest in a company that was accepted into the program.

Perhaps I might be able to provide some perspective later this year… I’ve applied to this summers’ Y Combinator program. (With a thank you to Amir for his feedback and perspectives which were incredibly helpful!) With so many applicants it may be a long shot, but will know more in just a week and a half.

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USS Hartford collision

So my old boat, the USS Hartford, was in a significant collision this week. While transiting (submerged) through the Straits of Hormuz, they ran into the USS New Orleans, an amphibious ship (surface ship that carries Marines). According to reports, about 15 people on the Hartford were hurt, though luckily none were seriously injured. The New Orleans had some tanks punctured, spilling about 25+k gallons of fuel oil.

The Hartford looks like it’s in pretty bad shape. Here are photos from the NavyTimes.com:

This one shows the sail bent over at an angle:

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This shows the damage on the front of the sail, but you can also see where the bottom of the sail has pulled apart from the hull after being bent over:

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I can only imagine two scenarios about what happened. #1- The Hartford lost depth control and/or got sucked up in the wake of a big surface ship. (Unlikely but has happened.) #2- The Hartford was on its way to periscope depth and didn’t hear the New Orleans or realize it was as close as it was. Since the NavyTimes article quoted the Navy as saying the Hartford was “submerged but near the surface” it sounds like #2 is the right answer. Unfortunately this is not hugely uncommon; going to periscope depth is the most dangerous thing a submarine does regularly.

I feel really bad for the guys on the boat. I was on the Hartford when we grounded off of Italy in 2003; it’s an awful experience for everyone, whether you were personally involved or not. It causes a lot of disruption for the Navy and all the people involved. I’m no expert, but that damage is probably going to take a long time to fix.

[UPDATE]: More photos here from the Navy. The sail is pretty trashed. Lots of Navy-specific comments on Joel’s blog here.

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[UPDATE 2]: Commenters on Joel’s blog have written that the Hartford experienced an 82-degree roll! If that’s even half-true (and it may very well not be) it’s amazing that only 15 people were hurt.

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Panama Canal crossing video

I got a kick out of seeing this video. It’s a timelapse video taken of a cruise ship going through the Panama Canal. The fun bits with locks are at the beginning and end; in the middle there’s quite a large lake that needs to be sailed across.

My old boat (the USS Hartford, SSN 768) sailed across the Panama Canal a year or two after I left; I’m still a bit jealous that I missed it. Going through the Suez wasn’t nearly as interesting, and I did that twice.