OWC has a Wikipedia Page


Image via Wikipedia

Here a cool thing. After haggling with the folks at Wikipedia, I finally got a page “OK’d” on Wikipedia for OpenWine Consortium. 🙂

I thought it’d be important as I setup that organization to outlast my tenure as Executive Director. I’m taking it step by step. Its established now, even attracting sponsors and producing the events (like the Wine Blogger Conference in Sonoma in the Fall). Behind the scenes I am preparing to announce the board of directors, a new strategic partner that will help attract potentially thousands of members, and eventually closing on getting official non-profit status (because there isn’t a membership fee I really need to get some revenue to pay for the non-profit paperwork preparation – a non-trivial task).

In the meantime, its pretty cool to have the Wikipedia page, in a geeky sorta way.


Getting iChat to use all IM networks…

Image via Wikipedia

As a recent Mac convert I am finding I love the native Mac apps. Turns out, you can get iChat to work on just about any network. Here’s how…

This actually isn’t too hard to do. It leverages Jabber servers with gateway addons. The only trick is that iChat doesn’t have the ability to browse/register Jabber services so you need a different Jabber client. I used Adium.
* First, in Adium register a Jabber account to this server: inflecto.org

* Once you do that then in the “Adium” –>”Preferences” –> “Accounts” highlight the newly added “inflecto.org” account (typically @inflecto.org)

* Right click on it and select “Discovery Browser”

* click the little arrow next to the “Openfire Server” word

* double-click the services you want. If you want GTalk, you’ll need to add that since iChat will only let you do 1 Jabber account (and inflecto.org counts as 1). This server has AIM, MSN, Yahoo, GTalk, ICQ, and IRC installed. As you double click the services it will ask for login info and then it will add the service.

* Once you’ve added all your services just quit Adium and fire up iChat.

* Add a new iChat account – Jabber

* Give it the “@inflecto.org” and password. use “inflecto.org” as the server name.

* Make sure to check “Use This Service” radio button to login and you’re done!


Every Wine Tasting Note Site Should Be Freebasing!

Thats right. I said it. Although it may not be what you’re thinking.

Can you guess what’s wrong with tasting note web sites? Exactly, none (and I mean N-O-N-E) have reached anything close to critical mass of users to make their notes useful. Why is that? Well there are too many wines every year to have multiple reviews per wine. So every wine tasting note site tries to get their hands around an unbounded number of wines and create a tasting note site that is actually useful. NONE have succeeded and even the biggest are only useful for organization purposes (CellarTracker) not for looking up wines.

One approach with promise is Snooth, but they’re actually smarter about it. Its not about tasting notes, its more about personalizing wine selections for you and if there are tasting notes to help then great. I actually like that concept. They’ll bring in a gambit of ratings and notes and attempt to normalize them and match a wine to your liking. This is (obviously) not a tasting note record keeping site but it leverages that function.

So what’s this about “Freebasing”? Well, if you haven’t heard, there is another approach to gathering data out there and they’re gaining steam. Freebase is a massive database that is completely open so that a site can use as its database as a backend. Then anyone can query this DB and get at that information or submit information and contribute to the collective. Also, tags in that information make connection automatically regardless of the original source. The best explanation of this is here, at Tim O’Rielly’s blog (the guy who originally coined “web 2.0”). Its an instance of the semantic web (what some call “web 3.0”). The advantage? Since a tasting notes are not a business but a feature, if all the sites created real business plans with tasting note functions as a part then there wouldn’t be a need to hide the notes in an isolated database. Sure, protect your user DB but submit your notes to Freebase. Gary V can go on ranting and raving with the Vayniacs, Snooth can continue making educated selections for you, WineQ could add value to their custom wine clubs. These are all sites that don’t depend on notes as the core of the business. One thing I won’t get into is this aspect (and the power of Freebase) – if Winehiker were to create an application that was a database of trails in California and some wines he experienced there, then Freebase would automagically create a query result for any other application that connects wines related to the notes Winehiker made about his travels and the wines on each of those trails with other wine notes submitted from these sites. You would start to see a world evolving of things connected to wines and trips and tastes that you’ve never imagined before…but thats a whole different post!

Anyway, Freebase allows sites like these tasting note sites to be built and while they individually create communities for whatever purpose they are all adding to Borg collective known as Freebase.

There is one other approach – creating a micro-format that makes a standard format that allows any note written out there be crawled and scanned into a DB automatically…what-ever. Thats never going to happen unless Microsoft, Apple, and every other user interface company decides they want to support MicroFormat for wine tasting notes. Chances of that happening? Pretty much Zilch…

It would be far easier for other sites that have note functionality to migrate their DB to Freebase, effectively merging all note DBs, and write database calls to the Freebase API rather than their own MySQL “Silo” of information. You think CellarTracker is cool? Imagine every note ever entered into a site on the Internet, regardless of the site, being available to Snooth or WineQ or any other site that wants it!! I’m an Alpha member of Freebase and I can attest that its difficult to explain the potential impact of this site, which brings me to the practical, marketing side of my brain – I’ve seen too many technologies that were just too far ahead and couldn’t survive until the world caught up. I hope Freebase doesn’t go that route…

Every wine note site in the world should be Freebasing!

Enjoy the Wine Life!

Wine Blogging Mega-merger Announced!

Wine Life Today announces definitive agreement to purchase Vivi’s Wine Journal

Extends community relation and interaction with the addition of veteran wine blogging site

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Jan. 3, 2008 – In a stock transaction valued at $300 million dollars, Wine Life Today has announced its intention to acquire Vivi’s Wine Journal and all its assets. The merger adds a communication vehicle for the latest in wine and marketing technologies to Wine Life Today’s growing news community and is expected to cut operating costs of the two companies by 50%. Upon hearing the news, stock in Wine Spectator dropped 34% on speculation that the combined entities are a signal of a more significant Wine 2.0 push in 2008….

OK, so I made that all up (or most of it). I figured it would garner some attention. You clicked through didn’t you?

I figure its worth $300M, so I gave Kelly $300M in Wine Life Today stock and she transferred $300M worth of control over Vivi’s to me. Granted, there were no bankers involved but I think I got a pretty good deal.


I know that sounds crazy but if you live in Sili-Valley you don’t know how close to the truth this transaction really is. These guys all know each other and basically set valuations in the most random ways with random numbers! (see Facebook valuation)

Seriously though, after a defeat for “Best Wine Blog Graphics” last year, weeks and months of working and tooling, and teaching ourselves new skills, Kelly and I are finally proud to announce our re-imagining of Vivi’s Wine Journal. We’ve decided to combine Vivi’s with Wine Life Today and create the new “Wine Life Today Blog”. This will allow us to combine our work on WLT with our blogging efforts and to push the envelope of Wine Blog design by giving me more flexibility in programming and creativity. Wine Blogs have evolved, wine marketing has evolved, and Wine Life Today is evolving. Stay tuned to Vivi’s new blog (still lovingly dedicated to the memory of our Aunt Viviane McGuffie) for all thats new in the world of wine blogging and commentary on how technology and marketing will affect wine in the future!

Watch out, GoodGrape. I’m bringin’ my A-game this year! (Be sure to hit the front page for the full effect!)

And, of course, Enjoy the Wine Life!!!

Happy 3rd Birthday Vivi’s!

Well, my blog is growing up so fast…>sniff sniff<…

First, let me apologize for the bit of a hiatus. There’s just alot going on. I have development working on Wine Life Today, working on things with our friends at WineQ, a couple of major intiatives at my day job, construction at our house, and the best news of all…we are expecting another little addition to the family! So as you can imagine, I’ve taken a brief hiatus from my normal blogging but I have a backlog of great wines to review including a wine AND recipe combo from Wolf Blass!!!

So thanks for everyone’s support, well wishes, requests for more posts, and everything else. That past three years have meant alot to me in my wine adventures

and I owe a great deal of that to the community that supports this blog.

Keep the notes coming and as soon as life gives me a chance to take a breather I’ll be back on this microphone tasting, pontificating, and just generally yapping to all the wine lovers out there! Stay tuned!

INSANELY cool improvement to Vivi’s…

OK, I’ve found the functionality that each and every wine blogger in the world should add to their blog. Its called “AnswerTips” and it allows you to click any word, abosolutely ANY word on this blog and have a pop-up window tell you what the definition of that word is. Its a “widget” for TypePad blogs and a little tricky to setup for advanced templates. Not sure its available for Blogger et al but if you can figure it out it is well worth it. Here is the code that adds the functionality to my site. I don’t think its site specific so if you know how to work with well-formed XML, have at it…

Download XML here…

If you figure it out for other platforms beyond TypePad, post about it and leave a link here so other can find out how!

Thanks AnswerTips for helping us Enjoy the Wine Life!

Partnering up with WineQ…

I’m diving right in.  Joining the team at WineQ.  Adding my Silicon Valley tech experience and passion for wine to the heavy hitters at WineQ.  What?  Why?  Thats an easy question to answer…

I’ve spent the better part of the last two plus years blogging about wine, the wine life, and everything wine related.  Its a passion, a love, an…addiction?  Maybe.  But I think more of an obsession.  Even the day I put this blog up I wrote about my exploits in wine and my intention for this blog right on our first about page:

My wife and I started Vivi’s Online as a prelude to our bigger wine business ventures. (Stick around and you’ll hear a lot more from us on that front!!!)…

Well, that time has come.  I’ve sifted through alot of sites about wine, drank alot of wine, and spent my life in technology.  From my first Commodore 64 and Atari game system to the iMac I just

ordered.  From the first Geyser Peak Merlot that knocked my socks off, to the Navarro Pinot Noir I drank last night.  Through it all I always wondered, “how can I apply all this tech experience to this wine obsession?”…”what will be technical enough to keep that part of Joel excited yet somehow incorporate wine?”.  But most importantly “is it possible to combine a ton of tech experience, a love of technology, and a passion for wine?”  In effect, marry the two things I can actually spend all day thinking about and have it energize me.

Well, it seems in WineQ, I’ve discovered a wine business that aligns with my own wine values – to find the best wines not just the most expensive.  I’ve discovered a technology business that aligns with my own technical values – innovative technology applied to a real problem with a drive to continue innovating; actually doing something with the innovative technology and not technology for technology’s sake (a BIG problem with the whole Web 2.0 and Wine 2.0 craze).  I’ve discovered a business that promises to fundamentally change an industry using great technology.  This paragraph is very Zen for me!

WineQ offers users the ability to create a queue of wines they want to purchase, and then set up the frequency and quantity of wines received per shipment.  In addition, shipping is free for WineQ

members on orders above $35 – not “free on full case orders” or “free on 6 bottles” – free over $35.  You can have many wines from a variety of wineries all shipped for free.  You can have a single $35 bottle of wine shipped for free.  WineQ is redefining what one should expect from a wine club.  And there is so much more to come, I wish I could blurt it out but I’ll keep it under wraps for now.  Lets keep it at we’re focused sharply on creating the ultimate online wine experience…if there is something about buying wine online that doesn’t appeal to you, we’re probably working on a way to fix it as we speak.  I’ll definitely update more as things progress.  Lets just say I probably won’t have to post about it here for you to hear about whats going on with WineQ…I will, you just may not need me to…

After working with the WineQ team for a while (as I’ve done with many out there) it became obvious that this company has the potential to do something special and its ready to go to the next level.  Innovative technology, top-flight operations, and wineries signing up left and right, this is going to be fun fun fun! 

So with that, I’m joining WineQ.  Together the goal is no less then to build the premier wine experience on the Internet.  Have a look at the site, feedback is always welcome.  As always, Enjoy the Wine Life…

By the way, I Q do you?

Happy 2nd B-Day!!! Vivi’s is a toddler!

Vivi’s Wine Journal turns two years old today! Its really been a tremendous amount of fun for me and my wife, Kelly. We’ve met a very large assortment of people with a shared passion for wine over the last two years as a direct result of our blog. Wine producers, retailers, distributors, artists, press folks, the list goes on and on.

One of the greatest joys has been growing up with the entire wine blogosphere. What started out as an interesting way to enhance our wine knowledge and share what we know with a world that consisted of 20-some-odd blogs has grown into a community of wine lovers whom I communicate with regularly and to countless wine blogs with great information, recommendations, and even some new sites have spawned around the wine blogosphere.

We’ve seen wineries start blogging and wine startups spawn documenting their work. Its all great stuff.

Tonight Kelly and I will crack open our last bottle of 2003 Ballentine Zinfandel Port in celebration, on of my personal favorites, and toast the wine blogosphere and all our new friends. Sometimes its not easy to keep it up but almost everytime I start to get a little down on it I recieve an e-mail saying that Vivi’s inspired them to try wine, start a blog, look into a particular product, etc… and thank me honestly. Its very gratifying to know that what we write about helps people out.

With that, CHEERS to the wine blogosphere!

Enjoy the Wine Life!

Its baaaaa-aaack…Wine Magnet gets reincarnated

It seems that the Wine Magnet idea is getting new life and a new PR campaign from another company.  I posted a pretty indepth article on this concept along with some testing done that refutes its claims.

With this incarnation, a “physician” claims that what differentiates this one from the old “Magnet Clip” is that it operates as a pourer and adds a hole to the process to speed up oxygenation.  I’m getting tired of these useless gadgets but someone must be buying it because there are not one but TWO versions of the same bologna.  Check out my last post to understand why I’m so skeptical.

Vinography had an article speculating about how warming a glass of wine in the microwave isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  If you believe that even in the slightest then you CANNOT believe this device works.  A microwave is 1000W of electromagnetic power coursing through your wine for 20 seconds or so.  A magnet on the neck of a bottle is milliseconds of magnetic fields on your wine.

Anyway, they got TONS of press through an associated press article that got picked up absolutely everywhere.  Good for them, a sucker is born every minute and a fool and his money are soon separated, etc. etc. etc…

Enjoy the Wine Life!

Wine Life social news site

So with idle hands we’ve done it again.  I worked with Kelly to pull together a news site that combines wine fanaticism and Digg.com functionality.  Its now ready for public Beta testing!

The project is called “Wine Life Today” and is wine news for wine lovers, by wine lovers.  With this site, the community has editorial control!  What that means is “Front Page” news is determined by articles that the community likes best.  Its simple, you can review submitted article and vote for them.  Once they recieve enough votes, they make it out of the newsroom and onto the front page!

Continue reading “Wine Life social news site”