I'm currently looking into getting our project management infrastructure out there to the next level. And there are plenty of providers filling this niche already. Unfortunately none seem to quite provide us with the service we are looking for, at the right price (nothing - or next to it).
This leaves us to consider purchasing some webspace and deploying the right software for us... and then reselling the remaining bandwidth... for the price that we'd be willing to pay.
So how big would the market be in New Zealand/Australasia? We'd be looking at purchasing a service that allowed us to run Subversion, perhaps Trac/Bugzilla... it would cost about NZ$5 a month. You'd be able to maintain your own source repository and defect management application, with unlimited accounts.
You wouldn't need to worry about licensing the source code.
Monday, November 26, 2007
I'm currently looking into getting our project management infrastructure out there to the next level. And there are plenty of providers filling this niche already. Unfortunately none seem to quite provide us with the service we are looking for, at the right price (nothing - or next to it).
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Good bye blogrush - you still suck. The problem is to much of your effort has gone into publicising your widget... your widget is all about BlogRush and not enough about the content...
You had some good ideas in version 2.0, but you failed to suspect that the biggest problem was your ugly widget! Sure it is a great way of advertising BlogRush... but to work it needs to be about the content.
So, idea 9 is a blog affiliate syndication that is all about the content - think a massive webring - with a summary of content based on content... but not just from the blogs... also from the widgets homepage. What the reader wants is a little more information about the posts - blogrush camps it to much to fit in its won advertising space. But the reader should also get to go to a random post... or highly rated posts. And authors should be able to select posts they want to promote.
This will help generate more hits to the blogs... thats what they want.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
We have been talking with business advisers about NZfusion and our possible growth. Part of this has led us to consider the type of business we would like to be. I have thought about this occasionally.. and obviously my idea of what type of business I would like to own is saturated in idealistic naivety!
But I thought I would jot down some of my ideals:
- Workers should want to work for the company. This sounds like a gimme - but most employees don't want to work for the company they are in. So I'd like the company to be the sort of places that would win best workplace awards - but more importantly, a company where the employees didn't want to leave.
- Custom development pathways - It's getting into how do you stop employees from leaving... employees should be able to develop themselves in which ever direction they want... if they don't know, as most of us don't, then we'll try a little of everything... that is technical, leadership, sales, etc - they'll need it all to work with us anyway, so they should have time set a side to train every week.
- Entrepreneurial possibilities, most of our employees will have an entrepreneurial streak - this should be encouraged through weekly sessions and where good opportunities are found - they will get a cut of the profits and we'll foot up with the dev team, experienced managers, marketing the whole kaboom. As we'll be developing everyones leadership capabilities and technical skills and aiming to keep everyone on board, we'll need a lot of new projects to keep them occupied!
- Fair remuneration and rewards, this would be a big problem for a lot of IT companies - how do you keep improving remuneration with experience and keep a head of inflation? The simple fact is that to pay employees more - the company needs to earn more. Hopefully continuous growth and correlation between income, development and inflation will help employees understand that to get paid more money - they need to contribute both to the growth of the company and the growth of team members under their lead. Obviously an employee is worth more than their contribution to the bottom line... but more income is required to provide more wages. The best way of contributing to income is through finding new opportunities, the best way of securing income is through delivering those opportunities... so perhaps remuneration could be a small base salary, with large bonus components to provide commissions on sales and new opportunities... as well as percentage based bonuses on delivering on time and budget and royalties from the product use and or sale.
- Fun work environment, I think this is possibly the most important aspect...
- I spend about $50 a week on cafe espresso coffee.... if we 10 coffee drinking staff, we could consider employing a coffee barista, or at least an espresso machine and providing lessons in pouring coffee to the staff.
- Fun work is more than a coffee machine and good coffee, people should also understand how people work and what is the best way of working with people. Compulsory reading for the entire company should be books like Peopleware, which identifies why most software projects fail and how companies can work better to make them succeed.
- There should be plenty of collaboration spaces that are comfortable.
- There should be unwinding areas... with pool, pinball machines, spacies, table tennis, fussball - that sort of thing.
- Each creative employ should have their own office space, including whiteboards and room for others to collaborate in the office.
- In a parallel with limiting distractions... creative people should have a separate computer that can be used for internet access and testing as well as a laptop that is purely for work activities. This has two strengths - dedicated work environment without distractions and a computer that can be used for testing releases or even a buffer code/work repository.
- Company sports and social clubs... people should interact, even if they will create masterpieces in silence... if it is at all possible to get people working and socialising together, then it should. The result will be fitter, healthier, happier individuals... and the company will be known by a wider audience.
- Single sign on to a beautiful internal system... an IT company should be able to sort out its own internal functions! If it can't then why is it bothering to sell things? The beauty of nailing your own internals is that it saves your company a stack of time - and it is a marketable asset - who cares if nobody wants to buy it, you need to have a team of experts running it anyway... if you do manage to sell it, then you only need to expand that team of experts.
I would be interested to hear from other IT company founders as to how they have addressed the workplace environment and if any have tried any or all of the points I have listed above... and have they worked or failed?
I've been slowly investigating PHP style. Currently I am following the philosophy that PHP is an interpreted version of C.. most of my code doesn't use PHP Classes, but when it does I guess it will be more like an interpreted version of C++.
So far this has been a pretty good starting point. But I do notice a lot of the PHP code out there isn't well commented. So as a general rule I am adding comments to every method and as a header to every file. These contain the author name, the creation date and the file name. File are also headed with some information about the functions in the file.
This file contains no functions and is just an example in my
blog in regards to what a file header may contain.
author: James Little
Another habit I am finding very useful, is commenting methods on where the hell the are located! So the code looks like I started with some C++ code and commented out everything that made it Object Oriented...
This makes it so much easier to work out where the function I am calling is located.
Finally, every page contains timing information that is populated into the generated page, so the user/tester/developer can check out how long a process has taken to execute... at the moment this only checks the total generation time, though I think I might pass through an array that adds processing time at each step. Which will help us conduct performance testing on the finished website. Which is a good idea, a while back I was convinced that C extensions would be required to provide a usable human interface, however the timing has shown me that any speed issues are internet based - though this could change when the serverside processing becomes more complicated.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
This is basically what a New Zealand company is doing... it is an old and true algorithm, but it is recently advertised in New Zealand under the personality of Marc Ellis...
Which is an awesome idea, Marc has celebrity status down under (that's where we like to say we are) and having him involved must have been a real asset in getting things out the door. I wish I had Marc on my side for a few projects I'm interested in building.
But mintshot really is the money - you watch a 30 second add, and depending on how much the company paid (I presume) is how much you get paid to watch it. So you get about M$200 per 30s add. Then you can go and buy stuff... except the stuff you buy is in an auction, so you compete with other people for this stuff that you need (Crate of Speight's thanks) paying money you never really had.
OK, so it is a great idea and if Marc or anybody else is reading - I've a stack of ideas about how you can build on this - seems to me like you are missing some gold. But what I was also interested to see is it is built on Joomla! an open source content management system, which is interesting, I wouldn't have picked it from using the site and I think more community interaction might be cool - but then, how much community interaction is there on TradeMe.co.nz?
It is also using jQuery - but that's probably part of Joomla standard implementation?
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Yeah, I think this is actually what we will build around whizzoo.com - basically a micro-blogging tool with SMS functionality inherintly part of the application. My idea is that it is a micro-blogging tool built around twitter that is really self aware...
I mean that the tool is to send messaging to twitter... but also raise defects in itself and other projects we are running.
I'm sure I've commented a few times on what to put on your computer, if you are running windows and are lucky enough to be given the keys to your machine by your sysadmin. Well, this seems like an ideal time to write about it, as I have a new box at work that requires my attention immediately... because I have to use it.
The first two applications to go down are:
- Firefox, because my system was running IE6 and that simply won't do... 5 min without tags was all I could stand. I could have downloaded IE7, but at MS they still have no idea that people might be able to handle their own system better than they can... so you need to hack the kernal to get IE6 and IE7 running simultaneously. And its not as good as Firefox anyway.
- I need to turn off the sound, I can't stand the stupid windows startup music, and all of the beeps distract from my music collection. Goto control panel > Sounds, set the audio to no sound. Awesome, no silly startup noise!
- No sounds seems to encourage the system beep to be deployed (who's stupid idea was that?) so when I change the volume to almost silent with my headphones on I get a full noise BEEP! Not good for your hearing! To turn it off, open your volume control, changet he preferences to show the system bell, set it to mute. No deafing beep when changing your volume! I might be able to hear when I'm 60 now.. if not, I'll be referring to this post and suing Microsoft.
Friday, November 09, 2007
This is a follow up to using twitter to save the world...
And I've opened my bar tab at foamee... here is a shot of it... BTW. This is obviously an excellent way to run your distributed project - you don't need it to represent beer, it might be chocolate, or muffins, or coffee... But such a tool adds team to your team... and fun. Most of us won't move on while we are having fun (according to market research I have just made up).
Plus it is an easy way to keep score... I can do it from my cellphone, which means I can do it at the real pub!
I am becoming a big fan of the twitter (and some other micro-blogging interfaces) ... they really capture my personality well, like texting... I'm a man of few words. As you would have noticed.
But I am discovering that the micro update form is ideal for tracking emergencies like the san diego fires. And NZfusion is even investigating similar uses of micro-blogging with whizzoo - but it is in a very early stage!
However I received an update from Twitter that I feel is even more beneficial... I can charge my friends beer using IOU... or vice versa. At NZfusion, we like to celebrate and so we have implemented a system of charging each other beer when we stuff up... and crediting each other beer when we do something good. So I'm encouraging my team mates Jason and Rebel Rabble to get themselves on twitter like me, so I we can ditch this archaic Google Spreadsheet we are using and record our beer scores online in a more modern manner!
For the benefit of all who are interested in twittering and beer... here is the email I received from these microblogging geniuses:
Do You Owe Someone A Beer?
Foamee.com is a fun IOU system built on Twitter that helps you
track who you owe beers to (and vice versa). All you have to do is
follow the account "ioubeer" and then send it @replies. So, say
you owe me a beer for helping you change a flat tire, this is what
you'd send to Twitter:
@ioubeer @biz for helping me change that flat tire
Then, your IOU will show up on the front page at foamee.com.
There's even a way to tell it when that beer has been redeemed.
I think a root beer version is in the works. Maybe even a latte
version? Those are foamy too. Dan Cederholm of SimpleBits design
is the mastermind behind this fanciful creation. We think it's
really cool. Thanks Dan, we owe you a frosty one!
Other Cool Stuff
Foamee is part of a growing list of interesting applications that
interact with Twitter. Jott, for example, has created a way to
send a Twitter update by speaking into your phone--your voice gets
converted to text and sent out to all your followers. This is a
much safer solution for people who insist on updating Twitter when
their attention is required elsewhere--like driving!
Twitter by Voice: http://jott.com
More Twitter Apps: http://twitter.pbwiki.com/Apps
We have a sidebar on the Twitter public timeline page where we
occasionally mention accounts you might want to follow. For
example, during the San Diego wildfires, KPBS News, LAFD, and the
LA Times had important live updates. The following accounts are
less of an emergency situation but interesting, nevertheless.
SkinnyJeans is wondering if Twitter can help her lose 10 pounds.
Jamie Kennedy is experimenting with Twitter.
Maureen is serving up a steady stream of tiny recipes.
Sara Bareilles is sharing the details of her budding career.
On the subject of emergencies, that earthquake we had recently in
Northern California was highly Twittered. This blogger captured a
lot of the action: http://tinyurl.com/2xv5el Also, if you're a
Bay Area resident you might want to follow the updates of this
profile http://twitter.com/SFSurfrider regarding the recent oil
spill in San Francisco Bay.
Twitter on the Mobile Web
In case you didn't know, Twitter has a mobile web site that you
can access from your phone's web browser at m.twitter.com. Twitter
developer Britt Selvitelle has been quietly improving the site
recently. It's a great way to check out what people are up to when
you're waiting for a bus or taking the subway home from work.
Britt's Twitter profile is http://twitter.com/bs in case you want
to @ioubeer @bs for making the mobile site!
With my involvement in the 99 bloggers community, I was encouraged to set up a domain for the community weblog so the site appeared to have greater stability ... persistence... I suppose credibility is the best term to describe it. I was hosting it as alphafoobar.wordpress.com, which to me represented nothing. I don't really care much about the domain name of the pages I visit, but this is the problem with following your gut feeling, it only represents a sample size of one... which is less significant on the internet than it is come election year. If you are George Bush Jnr., then you'd be able to wing it for a few years based on that - so be careful who you call silly!
Since the community spoke out at 99 bloggers, I decided I would trial an independent domain name here at alphafoobar as well. Since my name is James Little, you might think that jameslittle.com would be the sensible choice. Well, perhaps it would be if it was available. It seems my name just isn't unique enough... Jason Sew Hoy is a good name for marketing purposes. Being a matrix fan, I thought a cool h4x3r name would be adequately geeky... but really the name alpha-foobar is pretty meaningless, though foobar is often used as a placeholder term or nothing function in computer programming... the prefix of alpha simply makes a common computing term a username that is typically unique - unless somebody else starts trying to steal my identity!
There are many benefits to owning your unique domain, arguably for credibility purposes, but also for search engine ranking. I'm skeptical of these reasons, but less information for a visitor to type to go to your website must equate to more direct traffic.
I purchased the domain using blogger's interface and therefore through which ever domain partner google prefers. I'm happy with it, it only cost US$10 (which will be about NZ$14) for a 1 year subscription. In comparison, wordpress.com charged $10 just to accept traffic from my domain name! Something that it was doing free before and that blogger.com does for free anyway. It also costs NZ$27.50 (inc GST) to purchase a domain for a year through most NZ resellers. So the domain was a cheap addition to this blog.
What I'll be interested in witnessing is whether having a domain independent of blogger.com does anything at all for the popularity of my content. This is what I seriously doubt, but for less than $15 - thats only a couple of beers on Friday night in Wellington... who cares? I can not have 2 beers this year... I think? It is the 5 coffees I'd really struggle to do without!
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
We all know that one person can not change the world, not even Al Gore, but if that one person goes and talks to winz and recruits a couple hundred unemployed Arts graduates, then that one person is 101 persons and they can perhaps not change the world, but do a damn good job of letting the world know where they were.
What would you and your minions do? Well...
- some minions would investigate the search engine optimisations for the web site and also the competition, there are tools for all these types of tasks, so it should take long.
- some minions would surf the web using some target market demographics supplied to the company. posting comments to blogs that are of interest to people that are involved in the company. each minions role would be to find and track 100 blogs relating to target demographic.
- some minions would write blogs for the company, releasing teasers of product releases and company involvement in the community, either real or cyber... we aren't picky these days.
- some minions would be looking for social networking groups on applications like Facebook, Orkut, MySpace, Hi5... Bebo, we'd have open social applications to help us pinpoint likely supporters of our movement.
- and some minions would go to market and purchase coffee and beers, depending on what time of day it was!
Update: This was idea 6,not 7... also I don't mean any offense to BA grads, I was only joking... the idea would be lucky to get such recruits on board. Also, it is likely that such idea would be very easy to run and monitor in a distributed remote structure... as it is already done for things like digging, stumbling etc.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
I am currently in my office at 11pm trying to focus on my day job! The design simply must get through!
But on a brighter note, I am honoured to notice that this blog is the featured blog for the week on Kiwiology! OK, before I get a big head, I suspect that they don't spend too much time at Kiwiology fussing over which blog to put forward... I mean there are so many great blogs from New Zealand, even if you just look at the technology space... you have: Read/WriteWeb, Rod Drury, Rowan Simpson, Neato, Pass the source, Cool kit and stacks more... Read/Write web is rated #19 in the world at technorati.
So in short, regardless of how I was selected, I am stocked! Cheers Kiwiology!
Well perhaps not my life specifically... but Open Social this week... Android and the open handset alliance next week (November 12 will be the release of the SDK).
Ok Open social perhaps wasn't as exciting as I might as hoped, others also feel it was a little over hyped. But it is still an open API to the social world.
The Open handset alliance is expected to be everything that the current mobile market isn't... open, standardised. I suspect that this was a very sensible move by google... the desktop market is all sewn up by microsoft... sure BSD and Linux are competing... but BSD has gained wider acceptance largely because of the Mac OSX and linux is pretty much a cheap web server environment. I run Linux at home, I've run NetBSD and FreeBSD at home... but windows pretty much owns the desktop markets.
Mobile on the other hand is an open ball game... Microsoft has a presence, but hardly anyone trusts microsoft enough to having it running 24x7 on anything... I believe mobile is the way of the future as the PC was the way of 90s and 00s... I suspect the Google OS everybody was joking about is about to be released and it isn't a webOS.. it is run a mobile phone that doesn't need a lot of memory, because it uses Google Docs.
Monday, November 05, 2007
I was going for Double choco latte also know as DCL. A mate recommended it. But I got an error installing it on my webhost, something like "dcl_createon" does not exist - or something like that. I spent a while trying to find the problem. Then figured that the problem wouldn't occur in the older version (it did) so then I decided I'll try something else...
And I've decided to give Bugzilla a shot. It has a lot going for it, it can be integrated into a number of project management tools (not zoho project though) and it can be integrated into source management programs, like svn and cvs - one of which we are bound to use in the future!
Bugzilla also has some cool gadgets, we aren't using zoho project as much as we should. A lot of meetings a documented on Google docs and then archived there. If zoho was a little lighter, we might use it more often? However, bugzilla has a google gadget, which should promote its use... a google gadget can be loaded into a number of different containers now. And if my assumption is correct and google gadget do implement the opensocial interface, and if NZfusion wants to be a player in this field, then google gadgets should be implementable on our website.
Hmm... Blogger is also a google tool - perhaps it implements open social too?
The Open Social API is just a simple API for accessing basic information in the container, anyone can implement the API.
SO, why not build a wrapper to allow OpenSocial applications to run in Facebook?
All you'd need to do is provide an interface to the Facebook applications that do the same thing... and of course an interpreter for the module.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
There is a stack of resources available as google rocks into the social aplication arena. Google were always there of course - we've been able to build google gadgets for ever.
And lets not forget all of the other platforms we can build widgets for. The field is massive and people are only really beginning to realise how big it can be.
However, google has deployed an API that is an open standard. This means it dwarfs a piddly little 30 million facebook users... you can develop for anything that supports it. Actually there is no reason why you couldn't build a Facebook interpreter for the OpenSocial API! Where is it people?
OK, well we might take a look at that.
But first lets concentrate on the other 200 million possible users sitting at their computers typing content and building social network on sites like Orkut, Hi5, MySpace, LinkedIn and a new one I only found the other day called Ning.
Ning is especially cool for a social network because at Ning, it isn't about the site at all... really everyone is a member of Ning... but everybody is also a member of at least one of the speciality social network hosted inside of Ning. I took a look around some of the networks there... and there are plenty... of special note is the open social stuff network.
Google have also launched an open social API blog, to keep us up to date with the applications, containers and major events in our new open social calendar.
And once again I am left with too many links to really describe them all!
Orkut Open Social
Open Social API docs
Orkut application anatomy - Orkut is really the Google sandbox arena... I'm not sure what Orkut looked like before I signed up to the Open Social developer program... or sandbox access - the only difference seems to be Applications, but I presume they are available for all Orkut users anyway?
Orkut Sandbox Perhaps this is what I got for my signup (it was free - so its ok).
HowTo create your first google gadget My understanding is it is basically the same.
Hi5 is another Social Network that is supporting open social... I add a where in the world are you google map, slide photo guestbook... it is pretty cool.. they stole the idea from me! ;-)
LinkedIn is supposed to support the platform, but perhaps they are doing it in a more closed manner to support their more mature clients?
Google gadgets dev guide
Google gadgets Hello world example - Google has a pretty cool developer interface that you can actually export, sort of like an open social application... in that you can plug it onto your iGoogle page if you want... I suppose you must be able to plug it onto other openSocial containers now? Or is there a difference between a google gadget and an open social application? I don't think so!
Google gadget tools
Google open social container - if you want to host Open Social Apps.
Open social blog
Ning social network
The following google modules are open social examples, they need to be loaded into a supporting container, like iGoogle - but if you are techy, you'd rather see the xml anyway. Otherwise, try loading them into iGoogle (PS. they aren't developed by me).
A random google module example from Ning. And a sudokupuzz google module.
A good summary of what Open social is and can do... from the ning blog...
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Google has released Open Social, which I think is quite spectacular - I mean to say you will release on the 5th and release on the 3rd? Are they in the software business? Or is this something they started working on before Facebook had apps and finished ages ago... then decided how long it would take to market it?
If that's the way they did it was a really good idea!
Google have partnered with Orkut, MySpace, Hi5, LinkedIn.... the list of partners goes on!
First post of the open social blog discusses the amazing opportunities of the platform...
When you add up the current websites who have committed to implementing OpenSocial, you realize that a developer building for OpenSocial has the chance to reach over 200M+ users in dozens of countries. So over the course of the next few months, we're going to continue laying the foundations of OpenSocial to enable this common dream for a more social web.
To sign in to get access to the open social API, you seem to require a special Orkut account to get access to the sandbox. It appears there may be a wait, I haven't got a response yet...
Anyway, you can basically just hook functions onto events to extract the mouse scroll event, just like any other event.
99 Bloggers is a (community) blog that I have started to investigate the power of a community blog broaching several topics. Essentially, such a design is similar to any other community site, except the intention is greater openness. And therefore increased visibility of content.
Currently I have about 20 bloggers who have expressed interest and we are starting to exceed 100 page views a day, within the first week of launching. So it looks like 99 Bloggers will be easy to find.
If you are interested in contributing, it is required that you create a Wordpress.com account or leave a post at 99 Bloggers and we'll send you an invite. Once you have signed up, then you are ready to post. You'd better hurry if your interested though, because I'm not going to sign people in for much longer!
One of the authors who has signed up, regularly comments on this blog, wizcoder who is another fitness and technology blogger.
And there are plenty of other great bloggers over there for example webGek2pt0 or web geek 2.0, has just posted a great tutorial about online software to create favIcons and a post on web geek 2.0 about 99 Bloggers and thanksgiving!
There are plenty of other bloggers to talk about including Ritu who also blogs at Work N Play and was the first to post on 99 Bloggers and also the first so far to post a profile! But hey, at least people are posting and the site is taking off!
Friday, November 02, 2007
I heard the Google API was coming out soon. But this is way bigger than I was expecting, I was expecting big. But I was expecting iGoogle + Orkut big, not every Social network that doesn't hold a grudge big... Orkut and Hi5 have massive latin american communities... and pretty modest 'western' communities. Bebo is basically the UK, MySpace is basically USA and Facebook is largely university students (thats college in the USA), but Facebook is also the major social network for Australia, NZ, essentially bridging the holes left by Bebo and MySpace and doing a pretty good job of making that the smarter business decision.
But what I'm getting at is the community of Hi5 and Orkut combines will also compete in this niche and their latin american user base is already massive. They also have strong european support. That makes the open social platform massive. If it includes linkedIn, then it also includes a lot of corporate users.
The platform was always going to make the web platform widget industry bigger and stronger. But this is also going to open the ability of these widgets to span markets and possibly build stand-alone applications that sit on users or business websites. Perhaps even building niche social networks based on the social networks already available. Good bye facebook, it has been fun, you helped me find many of my old friends, but your time is almost up, something new has come along.TechCrunch also has some good stuf on the topic of the use of the API