Snakes on a Plane countdown 1: The T-Shirt


A story that I didn’t get to tell from the Mozart residency at Tanglewood: I walk into the Pittsfield Subway store, having less than 30 minutes to get lunch before a conference call for work. I’m waiting for one clerk to finish my order. The other one, who looks a little like a burgeoning hipster but is probably still in high school, is ringing me up. She looks up, then does a double take.

“Hey, is that Snakes on a Plane??” she asks, pointing at my t-shirt.

I pause for a minute; I’ve just come out of a morning’s orchestra rehearsal at Tanglewood where no one noticed what I was wearing. Then I remember. “Well, technically,” I said, “it’s snakes flying a plane. You know… copyright. But yeah, Samuel L. Jackson wears this shirt in the video for the movie’s theme song.”

“Cool,” she said. I told her where to get the t-shirt (TopatoCo, home of discriminating Snakes Flying a Plane merchandise) and went on my way, marveling. I may be getting older than dirt, but I’m hip enough to have an inside secret that proto-hipsters in Pittsfield, MA want in on. Thanks, TopatoCo!

—Seriously, if SOAP turns out to be a lousy movie, it will still be memorable for having spawned snarky hipster knock-off merchandise and other leading indicators of cool even before it hits the silver screen. I’ll spend a few more posts this week hitting some of the other high points. (And, yes, therefore feeding the viral star-making machinery. Oh well.)

Windows Live Writer and Manila blogs

There’s a little virtual ink today about Windows Live Writer, a blog writing tool that launched on Friday and apparently uses the MetaWeblogAPI to publish to MSN Spaces or other blog authoring platforms. Interestingly, former ColdFusion guy JJ Allaire appears to be involved with this project, which to me suggests there’s more than meets the eye here: no way JJ would get involved with something that is only a blog publishing tool.

As always with these tools, I can’t test the auto-configuration feature because the version of Manila on my blog server doesn’t implement the getUsersBlogs method of the MetaWeblogAPI. Digging deeper it looks like the blog information is stored in the registry under HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareWindows Live WriterWeblogs. So I created a profile for another site that used the MetaWeblogAPI and tried editing the values to point to my Manila site instead. I’ll know in a second if that worked. —Oh well. Attempts to post are failing with a message Can’t split the URL because it is not of the form ‘‘—I assume that this is referring to the RPC URL on Manila servers, which has no . extension or trailing slash but just appends /RPC2 to the top level domain.

Out of box functionality: no way to do HTML entity conversion is apparent (which is why this post doesn’t have curly quotes).

I think this tool would probably look and work better with a more modern blogging platform; the automatic WYSIWYG preview is pretty cool for blogging platforms that support it, for instance. But Flock still works better.


Interesting article over at Pragmatic Marketing on Extreme Product Management. The question that I’ve heard from some people, including former product managers, is how relevant product management is in an “agile” environment where people’s tastes (and the competitive landscape) appear to be changing daily. This article outlines some points of conflict between product management and agile development organizations that I’ve experienced.

A particularly painful challenge is this one: “My developers want me available every minute of the day to answer their questions. I have no time to visit customers.” The product manager’s role is to be in the middle of a bunch of different constituencies, but sales and engineering are the two primary ones for most product managers and it can be too easy to get into a situation where the product manager, in trying to expend effort for both constituencies, ends up satisfying neither. The paper’s concrete recommendation for this challenge, to provide market context through documentation and/or presentations to the team, is an interesting one; the rest of the recommendations are also interesting and worth exploring.