Driving, Texting, Storytelling, and Robots

It's been about six weeks since I last updated you, so here's the rundown on my writing life at Xconomy and its new consumer sister site, Xperience.

-- On May 2, I was thrilled to give an invited talk at PARC about storytelling and my personal and professional fascination with the evolving technologies of storytelling. PARC has posted a video of the hour-long talk, and I also recorded a shorter 30-minute screencast version (along with links to all the tools mentioned in the talk).

-- To create the audiovisual materials for my PARC talk, I used the Web-based presentation tool Prezi. In the process, I got so interested in the technology that I decided to write a full profile of Prezi and its fascinating founders, who hail from Sweden and Hungary.

-- My other big project in May: preparing for Xconomy's second annual Napa Summit, an exclusive CEO-level gathering in the heart of California's wine country. That's coming up June 3 and 4.

-- I went for a ride with Automatic, a startup that makes a smartphone app that monitors your driving habits and engine performance via a Bluetooth connection to your car's onboard data port. The resulting video may be our most-watched ever.

-- Speaking of driving, I covered a controversy over a Texas A&M study arguing that using voice-to-text applications such as Siri or Vlingo to text while driving is no safer than manually texting while driving. Siri creator Adam Cheyer took issue with the study, since the Texas researchers didn't test Siri or Vlingo in the fully hands-free modes their creators intended for in-car use. My piece was part of the launch of our newest bureau, Xconomy Texas.

-- And speaking of Texas, I also took a look at San Antonio-based cloud computing provider Rackspace and its outreach programs for startups.

-- We stirred up some controversy with this piece on Dropcam CEO Greg Duffy and his scorn for the way many Silicon Valley companies use free meals and other perks to lure their employees into working too much.

-- It's the eternal question: should you buy an extended warranty for your new appliance or gadget? I'm a skeptic, but I visited a San Francisco company called SquareTrade that made the best arguments I've heard yet for why buying an extended warranty might be a good idea for some people.

-- I reviewed Daniel Kahneman's book Thinking, Fast and Slow with an eye toward lessons for tech entrepreneurs. The main lesson seems to be: founding a startup is a totally irrational thing to do. But that doesn't mean people should stop doing it.

-- I tallied up 11 reasons why the resurrected Flickr is the best place for your digital photos. Remember: friends don't let friends put their photos on Facebook.

-- We published a complete video record of Xconomy's April 11 robotics event, "Robots Remake the Workplace." A shout-out to our host SRI International for recording and sharing the video.

-- My old friend Curtis Wong, a principal researcher at Microsoft, told me the whole story behind GeoFlow, a new plugin for Excel that lets spreadsheet jockeys tell stories with maps. There's a fascinating connection between GeoFlow and Wong's previous project, a virtual planetarium application called the WorldWide Telescope.

-- I visited a Mountain View startup called Matterport and got the lowdown on its technology for creating 3D scans of building interiors, which could become an important tool for designers and architects.

-- We've been saying that we'll use Xperience to cover consumer technology trends in areas such as fashion that Xconomy hasn't covered much in the pas. I followed through on that with a profile of two boutique Internet T-shirt makers, Pistol Lake and Pickwick & Weller.

-- I wrote about DabKick, a new smartphone app that lets users consume media such as videos and songs synchronously from different locations.

-- The National Venture Capital Association held its annual meeting in San Francisco in May. I previewed the "world's largest office hours" event held the day before the conference. I also went to a rock concert featuring three VC bands and came back with some great video.

And finally, from the gee-that-sounds-obscure-but-it's-actually-kind-of-important department:

-- I profiled Coupa, a startup working to change the way businesses handle expense tracking and reimbursement. CEO Rob Bernshteyn has some interesting ideas about how to sell software-as-a-service products.

-- I wrote a deep-dive article about the secondary investing market in venture capital, where LPs who tired of the game can find buyers for their fund shares; Industry Ventures founder Hans Swildens was my guide.

-- I covered the public launch of Pivotal, a spinoff of VMware that hopes to create a new platform for the developed of enterprise cloud applications. GE is on board as a big investor in Pivotal.