Ubuntu Server Upgrade to 8.04 Hardy Heron
First of all I have to confess that I have been very busy over the last months or two and have not really been motivated to write. I have a few other projects happening at the same time — at work, at home, at church and at my other websites, and I apologise for neglecting this blog. Hopefully I will get back to writing here again. I am also hoping to write shorter pieces — maybe just 2 or 3 paragraphs — so I can make more frequent posts.

Now, something I have been doing over the last couple of days is to upgrade my Ubuntu servers to 8.04 Hardy Heron, which was “officially” released last Thursday. Now it has been almost two months since I wrote my last blog post, which was about switching from Gentoo to Ubuntu, and now most servers/VPSs that I am personally responsible for (except those at work) are running Ubuntu. Hardy Heron is a LTS (Long Term Support) release which I am hoping to build most my apps on for the next 2 weeks. Upgrading to it from previous Ubuntu releases is surprisingly trivial.

# apt-get update
# apt-get upgrade
# apt-get install update-manager-core
# do-release-upgrade
[blah blah blah]

The first two steps are only there to ensure you already have latest updates for the current release. It’s quite possible that “update-manager-core” has already been installed. “do-release-upgrade” does all the bulky work — checking whether a new release is available, checking how many packages need to be updated, download, unpackage and install all packages + resolving potential conflicts, etc. And at the end it just reboots your server. Wait for a minute and two, connect back in and hopefully you will be running 8.04 Hardy Heron. I was lucky that it worked on all my Ubuntu boxes.

Do note that the upgrading script, which was written in Python, does chew up quite a lot of memory. I have one tiny 64MB (+256MB swap) VPS that almost got killed with OOM. So be prepared, but YMMV.

So far as a server I haven’t experienced with too much differences. PostgreSQL 8.3 was in but Firebird 2.1 wasn’t (although it should be included “soon”). Now, back to more code hacking.
from google
april 2008
Mint Moves Into Investment Tracking
Silicon Valley-based startup Mint, which provides a service that lets users manage their checking, savings and credit card accounts online, will launch a new product on May 6 that lets users track virtually any type of investment account as well. Users will now be able to manage all of their financial assets on the Mint site. With this change, Mint says, 6,500 US financial institutions: 2,520 banks, 1,621 credit cards, and 2,381 investment accounts are supported.

Brokerage, IRA, 401k and 529 assets can be managed. For now, only student loan accounts and mortgages are left off, although support for those types of accounts is coming soon. The site will show all your buys, sells, dividend distributions, etc. across multiple accounts. Dive into a single account or equity for its individual performance. Account performance v. the S&P and other indexes is graphed, and account charges are also shown.

There are some things you still wont be able to do with Mint, such as stock trades, bill payments and funds transfers. Mint CEO Aaron Patzer says those features will eventually be added, with a focus on bill payments first. Funds transfers and stock trades are a little stickier, though, and may eventually require state and/or federal regulation of the company.

Investments will soft launch on May 6 for very active Mint users and roll out from there. Anyone who wants to be in the beta right at launch (whether they are a current Mint user or not) can sign up at mint.com/techcrunch and will be added on May 6.

Other services, including Cake Financial (another TechCrunch40 startup) Vestopia, Covestor, and UpDown also offer investment tracking.

Weve been tracking Mint since their launch at TechCrunch40 last year. The 20-person company has now raised $17 million in venture capital and has 230,000 registered users (40% of which are active, Patzer says). 10,000 new users sign up each week (13,000 last week)

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april 2008
Traditional Media Companies Fight The 'Lumbering Giant' Tag
Lumbering giants of the past or the prime innovators of the moment? That was the question moderator and EconSM conference editorial director Elizabeth Osder put to a panel of old media companies representing WSJ and its close relations, as well as Time Inc., Gannett (NYSE: GCI) and Martha Stewart. Upshot? While some collectively conceded to being somewhat lumbering in the past, thats not the case anymore.
april 2008
Dan Knutson
Possible contractor for design and IA work.
april 2008
Windows XP and the importance of listening to customers
On June 30, Microsoft will discontinue Windows XP in an
effort to force all PC users onto Windows Vista. As this date gets closer and
closer, they have stubbornly insisted that they will not change their plans.

Last week, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer blinked,
but in a rather confusing way:

The sensible part: Ballmer claimed that they might
reconsider their decision if that's what customers wanted.

The confusing part: Ballmer appeared to be completely
ignorant of the multitudes of people publicly begging for XP to get a stay
of execution.

Just want kind of customer feedback would Ballmer be able to

It's really not that hard to find overwhelming evidence of
large numbers of people who want to continue using XP. A simple Google search
for the string "save
windows XP" results in over 200 thousand hits.

Oh yeah, I forgot -- Steve probably doesn't use Google. Maybe
the problem is that he just can't find any XP fans on the Internets? :-)

Or maybe Ballmer is following the now fashionable trend of
counting an Internet person as only 3/5 of a real person?

Sure, Ron Paul has lots of fanatical supporters, but they're
mostly just people on the Internet, and they don't really count.

Sure, Barack Obama has raised truckloads of money, but he
mostly gets it from people on the Internet, and they don't really count.

Sure, over 170 thousand people have signed the Save Windows XP petition,
but those people are on the Internet, so they don't really count.

Or maybe this is simply the most arrogant corporate decision
in history? Maybe Steve can hear all of these desperate cries but he simply
doesn't care.

Power corrupts. Every monstrously large organization
eventually turns into, well, a monster. The next step is for all these
organizations to start borrowing each other's tactics. Hey Steve, why not
start waterboarding everybody who won't switch to Windows Vista? Apparently
it's legal. :-)

The whole situation is most annoying to those of us who are
running small software companies. Unlike Microsoft, we actually have to listen
to our customers. When they tell us to jump, we ask how high.

Microsoft is telling millions of its customers to jump. Out
of principle, I am doing my best not to comply:

I'm typing this blog entry on Windows XP.

That instance of Windows XP is actually a VMware image
running on my Mac. I started using a MacBook Pro with Leopard a couple
months ago. And I love it.

I just donated fifty bucks to the ReactOS project. I'm figuring that in
the long run, I've got a better chance of getting Windows XP from ReactOS
than from Redmond.

Some of my readers are horrified at this blog entry. "But
Eric, aren't you a .NET developer?"

Yes, I am. My overall posture toward Microsoft is still
friendly. I still use Windows every day. I still love Visual Studio. C# is
still my favorite language ever. Heck, I'm even a big WPF fan, so I'd actually
prefer to see the world switch to Vista. I've used Vista, and while I didn't
find it to be a compelling "must-have" upgrade, I rather liked it.

But none of this means that I'm going to give my blanket
agreement to every decision Microsoft makes. In this case, I object to
Microsoft's plan, not because Vista is so awful, but rather, because ignoring
customers is so wrong.
april 2008
Internet Radio without hacking
Some of you may already knew this, but Apple TV unofficially supports Internet Radio. I found this out when 2.0 was released a few months back.

To get this feature working, all you had to do was create a playlist with Internet radio stations in it then just sync the playlist to the Apple TV. One major flaw was that, iTunes had to be running at the same time. Otherwise, the stations would disappear from the Apple TV.

With 2.0.2 update, this is no longer the case. The playlist with the Internet Radio streams would persist even when iTunes is not running on the computer it synced with. However, once you restart the Apple TV, the playlists with Internet Radio streams would disappear.

I have written a post about this on Apple TV Source . So while, we don’t have 100% functionality for Internet Radio yet, it is still much better than before.
from google
april 2008
Manage your Wordpress source code with Git
I was just thinking of posting an article about using ReSharper and MbUnit together, but before doing that I was going to make sure the source control of the blog was up to date. Then I thought, hey, why don’t I write about that instead.

So this is about using the new Git fast version control system on Ubuntu Gutsy 7.10. to add version control to your Wordpress installation.

So why bother? Especially if you copy your wordpress structure periodically? Well, obviously you can get by with that or frequently zipping into dated snapshots after you make changes. There are advantages though. Usually you’ll get rid of the oldest zip files because you’ll probably never need them, and you probably won’t be taking a snapshot after every change you make. You’re also missing some nice extras like providing comments about changes you’ve made.

So first you’ll want to install git. One way to do that is sudo apt-get install git, but as various blogs will point out git is being developed pretty actively and the packages typically trail a few versions. Piku describes the steps you would take to install 1.5.5 which is what I did. You can also browse http://kernel.org/pub/software/scm/git/ to see which is the highest available version.

From Piku’s Blog Updating git on ubuntu:

mkdir ~/build
cd ~/build
wget http://kernel.org/pub/software/scm/git/git-
sudo apt-get build-dep git-core
tar xjf git-
cd git-
sudo make install

And now you can git stuff. Next go to your wordpress directory, create a git repository there, and commit the current version of your code.

cd /path/to/your/site/wordpress
git init
git add .
git commit -m "initial import"

That’s it. If you want to ls -la you will see there is now a hidden .git directory inside the wordpress directory. It contains all information you would need to restore all of the contents to this state at any time.

Also assuming your Wordpress directory is being published by something like Apache, you’ll want to adjust the security. The following line will take away any read-only access the www-data Apache user would have by default. If you don’t do this, then you’re probably publishing your repository for the rest of the world to download. Very, very bad since your mysql password is probably in the wp-config.php file.

chmod -R og-rwd .git

You can also check the history with git log, or check to see if any files have been added or modified with git status.

Now whenever you make changes you can update your own private version control system with the following:

git status
git add .
git commit -m "changed blah blah for yadda reasons"
git log

The next thing you’re probably going to want to do is push a copy of this hidden git repository onto another location, or even better onto another machine. You may also have a situation where you will make some local changes and decide you simply want to revert to the most recent commit. At this point I think the responsible thing for me to do is leave you searching the git site itself because I would hate to throw a command-line out there someone with more experience will say is completely wrong.

Ah, what the heck. I’ll throw one out there and hopefully someone who knows what they’re doing will correct it.

git reset --hard will force the current directory to return to the state which was last committed. The exception will be new files that have never been added, but you can git status to see which extra files that would be. If you’re feeling especially brave, or potentially foolish, you could do the following:

sudo rm -rf *
git reset --hard
git status

Of course you’ll want to be absolutely certain your current directory is the correct one. Do a “ls -la” first to make sure there’s the .git folder present before you rm. I’ve verified the “sudo rm -rf *” line will not remove the hidden .git folder at the same time. Still it’s such a scary thing to do I’d recommend just using “git status” and removing the extras after you reset.

(As always any corrections in comments are greatly appreciated.)
from google
april 2008
Getting to Know the Nabaztag Internet Rabbit
Shortly after I moved to France last year, Glenn Fleishman offered to introduce me to his contacts at a company called Violet that's based here in Paris. (And thus, by the way, it's pronounced "vee-oh-LAY.") Violet is best known as the developer of the Nabaztag Internet-enabled rabbit, and this product sounded sufficiently wacky that I was delighted to pay its creators a visit. It turned out they're located just down the street from me, about a ten-minute walk away, and I'd unknowingly passed their offices dozens of times already. So I set up an appointment, and Morgen and I met with Rafi Haladjian (one of the Nabaztag's inventors) and Jean-François Kitten
(yes, apparently his real name) for a personal, hands-on demo of the Wi-Fi bunny.

That was more than seven months ago. Ever since, I've intended to write about the Nabaztag and the philosophy behind it, but every time I've started pondering what to say, I've gotten profoundly stuck. Even now, I'm not entirely sure what to think of it. I believe I could argue with equal conviction that this device is surprisingly useful or a ridiculous waste of $165. In any case, there's certainly more to this gadget than meets the eye. Luckily (or unluckily, depending on your point of view), little appears to have changed in the Internet rabbit arena since last fall, so I believe my observations are still pertinent.

Nabaztag Basics -- First things first: how does one pronounce this strange word? I wrote it phonetically in my notes the way its designer said it - roughly, "NAB-us-tag," where the stress is on the first syllable and the middle vowel is a schwa. It's the Armenian word for "rabbit," and it seems to make as little sense to French-speaking people as it does in English.

In case you've not kept up with the news in rabbit technology over the past few years, let me give you a quick description of the Nabaztag. It's a rounded conical hunk of plastic about 9 inches (23 cm) tall (including the two protruding ears), with eyes and a nose painted on front, a belly-button microphone, and a single button on top - but no other visible user interface. You plug in the AC adapter (it doesn't work with Energizer batteries, sorry) and it connects to the nearest open Wi-Fi network. (There are provisions to use password-protected networks, too, though they require a bit of fiddling to set up.) When the bunny powers on, several multicolored LEDs glow from behind the plastic case, and the motorized ears spin around in a
manner that would surely be quite painful for a real rabbit.

Then you go to a Web page to register your adopted rabbit - yes, they say "adopt" to mean "buy" - and specify a bunch of preferences and personal information such as where you live and what kinds of news and music you're interested in. From then on, your Nabaztag becomes an interactive network appliance that can do any or all of a long list of things. For example, various combinations of lights (solid or blinking, in different configurations and colors) could indicate:

The current or predicted weather

The status of stocks or other financial indices of interest to you

The air quality outside

How many new email messages you have in your inbox

Whether someone has left you a voice message

The built-in microphone and speaker extend the list of capabilities much further. To mention just a few examples, the Nabaztag can:

Read headlines from your favorite RSS feeds in a synthesized voice

Play Internet radio stations or podcasts

Announce the current time periodically

Act as a non-real-time intercom with another Nabaztag - press the button, record a message, and it's sent to someone else's rabbit for playback

Respond to spoken commands (a recording of your voice is sent to Violet's servers, where it's run through a speech recognition algorithm and the resulting command is sent back to your Nabaztag)

Oh, and let's not forget the ears! Normally they spin at various times without any particular meaning. But you can configure them in arbitrary positions and send them to your friend's Nabaztag (alone or along with a voice message) - and your friend's Nabaztag's ears will assume the same positions. (For example, point both ears down to mean "I'm sad" or whatever.) Hey, who needs video, voice, text, or even flashing lights when we have digital semaphores! For some reason, this capability tickled me more than anything else the little bunny can do. (Oh, and if you pair your Nabaztag with someone else's to "hard-wire" messages like ear positions between the two rabbits, that's called marrying them. Yep. To the best of my
knowledge, though, they only reproduce within Violet's factory.)

Last but not least is a built-in RFID reader. The idea is that you buy special RFID tags called "Ztamps" to stick on your keys, glasses, and other objects. When these objects come into proximity with your Nabaztag's nose, it notices they're there and can take whatever action you want, such as playing a sound or sending a message. As far as I can tell, the Ztamps aren't yet available separately, but Violet does sell a variety of Ztamp-equipped children's books (in French only, for now). When your child holds one of these books up to the Nabaztag, the rabbit reads the book aloud. That's right: your robot rabbit can relieve you of the tedium of bonding with your kids by reading them their bedtime story. (I have yet to see a child interact
with a Nabaztag in person, and I'm thinking it's possibly best that way.)

Although the Nabaztag comes pre-configured to deliver certain kinds of information right out of the burrow - um, box - the company expects and encourages extensive personalization and even hacking; they also offer an API for third-party developers to create their own applications and services. (Some Nabaztag services are free, by the way, while others require a paid subscription.) There's even a healthy aftermarket for replacement ears in a variety of colors and patterns.

By the way, I should mention that the current generation of Internet rabbit is called "Nabaztag/tag" - I guess that's Armenian rabbit-speak for "rabbit 2.0" - the original Nabaztag, which is still available for about $95, doesn't include the microphone or RFID reader, and doesn't support WPA encryption or streaming MP3 audio. The company representatives I spoke to said that future generations would be designated with additional "/tag" endings. Perhaps they'll come with a selection of RFID Nabaztag/tag/tag tags.

Down the Rabbit Hole -- All right, so you can buy this groovy little bunny appliance thingy that can do a million and one things, but who really needs one? The candid answer, according to Violet's Haladjian, is no one. He'd be the first to admit, he says, that Internet rabbits aren't going to change the world, that he's not looking to build the future of his company on plastic bunnies. The Nabaztag is simply the first example of a larger idea Violet is trying to promote - that of leveraging the power of ubiquitous wireless Internet access to turn ordinary objects into smart objects. We're accustomed, he explained, to having a computer screen (or, at least, some kind of screen) mediate our experience of the
Internet. But although computers make good all-purpose tools, there's life beyond the PC - and there are other, simpler and more direct ways to use that near-universal connectivity. So think of the Nabaztag as a rather elaborate proof of concept for a future in which lots of friendly little objects can do lots of useful things by virtue of being connected to each other and to a global source of infinite data. Violet's ambition is to connect everything in the world, and they're starting by connecting small, familiar-ish objects.

That word "friendly," by the way, is key. As an example, Haladjian cited home automation systems, which have been around for decades, but which, he says, are still complex and intimidating enough to scare away many people. A little rabbit with funny ears and a single button, on the other hand, isn't intimidating. You interact with it in natural ways like talking to it and holding objects in front of it rather than by connecting wires and looking at a screen and typing or mousing. So it hints at a more user-friendly future of invisible computing in which much simpler objects with embedded computers replace many of the functions for which we currently rely on full-blown
desktop or laptop computers.

This idea, of course, is not unique to Violet or the Nabaztag. For example, a company called Ambient offers a number of small Internet-enabled devices, such as the $150 Ambient Orb, which glows in different colors to indicate information like traffic, weather, and stock prices; and the $124.99 Ambient Umbrella, whose handle glows when rain is expected. You can buy standalone devices to stream Internet radio, and even the Apple TV is a type of Internet appliance. (There's also the $179.95 Chumby, a little Wi-Fi-connected gadget that can serve up the time, weather, traffic, news, music, and so on - though unlike the others mentioned here, it still relies on a conventional LCD screen to display data, making it more like a keyboard-less computer than an appliance; see "Chumby: The Beanbag Computer," 2007-12-14.) In any case, the Nabaztag is the only one I can think of with anthropomorphic (or, uh, kuniklomorphic) characteristics.

The question is why someone might find a Nabaztag (or any other such appliance) worth buying when their existing, conventional computer can do almost all the same things (though I've never seen a Mac with motorized ears). The Violet reps suggested that the Nabaztag is especially good for applications that aren't worth your full attention - for providing information in the background, perhaps even while you're focused on some other task on your computer. I think that's on the right track. I can attest that as an introvert, I'd be much less distracted by unobtrusive glowing lights on a device over on the table than by something popping up … [more]
from google
april 2008
CBS SportsLine Founder to Launch OPEN Sports Network
Fantasy sports leagues are incredibly popular but many of them are still locked in archaic walled gardens. If OPEN Sports Network makes good on their promise of open APIs, they may be able to differentiate themselves from other, established, sites.
april 2008
Interview with Leon Shklar - EVP - Media Technology - Reuters
Interviewers: Scott Swigart and Sean Campbell Interviewee: Leon Shklar In this interview we talk with Leon Shklar - EVP of Media Technology for Reuters. In specific, we talk about: Moving Reuters.com to an open source stack Choosing and supporting open source software Making code changes to open source packages Licenses and governance in open source projects The perception and reality of open source companies (more) Bookmark this: Del.icio.usdiggredditTechnoratiStumble UponBloglines
april 2008
The $300,000 Watch That Doesnt Tell Time - The Wealth Report - WSJ
Anyone up for a $300,000 watch that doesn't tell the time? OMG.
april 2008
Murdoch's WSJ: More News, Less Business
Keep forgetting what paper you're reading when you crack the WSJ in the morning? It's not you. It really is different since Rupert Murdoch bought it last year.

How different? The Project on Excellence in Journalism took a tally since News Corp. (NWS) took over: Business coverage is down 50% (!) on the front page, while political and foreign news are way up. Since Dec. 13, the Journal has devoted almost as much front-page real estate to politics (18%) as the New York Times (26.5%).

A complete study of the transformation is available at journalism.org, but here's a handy pre- and post-Murdoch synopsis:
april 2008
Mark Hamburg leaves Adobe
News has been announced that Mark Hamburg has decided to leave Adobe after having worked at the company for over 17 years. Mark joined Adobe in the Fall of 1990, not long after Photoshop 1.0 was released and was instrumental in devising many of the ‘wow’ features we have all come to love and rely on daily when we work with Photoshop.

Mark left the Photoshop team after Photoshop 7 shipped and went to work developing a new paradigm in image processing which would finally ship as the product named Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.

Jeff Schewe is fond of saying about Mark, “be careful what you wish for”!

For example, around the time I first joined the Photoshop 5.0 beta a lot of Photoshop customers had requested a multiple undo. What we got was far more than that, and came in the form of the ‘History’ feature, which had the ability to take snapshots and paint from different history states.

Six years ago Mark left his position as chief architect of Photoshop in order to start work on the Shadowland project (which became Lightroom) and right up until this week Mark was fine-tuning the controls for non-destructive localized editing in Lightroom. Ever since Lightroom launched, users have been asking for was a means to dodge and burn raw images, and if you have been testing the Lightroom 2.0 public beta, you will know that you can now also paint with colour, saturation and clarity, plus you have really accurate auto masking with flow and density brush controls. It’s yet another example of Mark’s programming genius and gift for innovation.

Over the last ten years or so I have enjoyed taking part in the various internal discussion lists at Adobe and Mark’s direct involvement with testers like myself has always helped make it an exciting and challenging experience for all involved. What’s made it particularly rewarding for me is that Mark is someone who understands what photographers want from their software and we could often see our thoughts and ideas evolve into finished features.

I don’t think one can downplay the significance of Mark’s departure because the contribution he made to the development of Photoshop and Lightroom has certainly been enormous and it goes without saying that his presence will be missed at Adobe.

On the other hand, with Lightroom 2.0 now at public beta much of the groundwork on Lightroom has already been accomplished (especially on the non-destructive image processing side) and he leaves at a time where the Lightroom team has expanded from a team of one (Mark) to now include over fifty talented individuals who have all successfully guided Lightroom from concept to finished product.

While Mark’s departure does leave a gap, Lightroom’s future looks set to continue when development gears up for work on version 3.0. As for what Mark is going to do next, it is known that he is now going to Microsoft in Seattle, and that his future work there won’t involve digital imaging, but instead be focussed on the “user experience”. So remember Jeff’s advice and be careful what you wish for!
from google
april 2008
Start a business, not a startup
Startups can bring new ideas to market. They can give people a chance to change the world on their own terms. They can create something where nothing existed before. There is no doubt that they are exciting things to be a part of.

But, as much as the tech world tries to treat them as special, we dont believe startups are special. They arent born out of big bang moments where the laws that govern other businesses dont apply.

From the moment they go live, startups are as real as any other business. They are governed by the same set of market forces and economic precepts that wrap around every other company, new or old.

At the atomic level, all businesses need to generate revenue to pay their bills, grow their business, and stay in business. The sooner they find themselves in the black, the better chance theyll have to survive. Call it a business survival instinct businesses have to feed themselves or theyll die.

Suggesting startups specifically tech startups dont need to look for revenue opportunities now is akin to spoiling a child and shielding them from the outside world: Theyre far less prepared when they eventually have to leave the house for the first time.

A poorly run startup is a poorly run business. A wonderfully run startup is a wonderfully run business. I dont believe there are many great startups that are bad businesses. Maybe less than 1%. If the business is bad the startup is bad. A great idea, maybe, but a great business, no.

So if you start something up, start a business, dont start a startup.
april 2008
Google Finance China, new Finance homepage
After adding Shanghai/Shenzhen market data into Google Finance and launching the Chinese finance onebox last year, we are excited to announce the launch of Google Finance China. Now it's easier to get Chinese stock and mutual fund data through our easy-to-use and familiar interface in Chinese.
april 2008
OpenID Marches On
First, JanRain (who run the myOpenID provider service) have come out with an ID Selector widget for web developers. Drop their javascript on your page, and theyll create a control to make it easy for a user to pick their own provider and sign in to your site. Lowering the friction of OpenID use will contribute to its spread.
april 2008
Why I love working with family people
The stereotypical startup dream hire is a 20-something with as little life as possible outside of computers. The one thatll be happy working 14-hour crunch days for weeks on end sprinting for an ever-shifting target that keeps being 90% done for 90% of the time. The one you can make sleep under the table or please with a foosball table in the center of the room. The one where the company paying for dinner pizza is awesome.

I should know. I used to be that gullible and even take an odd pride in being up to the job. But it didnt take long to catch on to the idea that packing a room full of these people was merely a crutch for shoddy management, lousy execution, and myths like this is the only way we can compete against the big guys. And you certainly need the latter if youre trying to give turds wings, but how about just not trying to make crap fly in the first place?

Thats why I like working with the family man or woman. They come in as a cold bath of reality. When people have other obligations outside of work that they actually care more about than your probably-not-so-world-changing idea, the crutches are not available as an easy way out, and youll have to walk by the power of your good ideas and execution or youll fall fast and early. Thats a good thing!

From the experience Ive had working with family people, Ive found an amazing ability to get stuff done when the objectives are reasonably clear, the work appears to have meaning, and if it can be done within the scope of what should constitute a work week. When there are real constraints on your time, like you have to pickup the kids or make them dinner or put them to bed, it appears to bring a serenity of focus to the specific hours dedicated to work.

This is what companies need, startups or not. They need constraints and especially constraints on how often you can play the hero card to Get This Very Important Project Done. Most projects are just not that important and most things just shouldnt be done anyway, despite how good of an idea you feel it is in the heat of the moment.

Update: Removed potential confusion around labor discrimination.
april 2008
Twitter cans another engineer
When Twitter hired Lee Mighdoll as VP of engineering and operations in January, cofounder Biz Stone called him the "perfect match" for the company. Not anymore. Mighdoll is out after just three months of the job. "The match was not perfect," Stone told SAI in an email. Mighdoll is the second engineer reported to have left Twitter in the last two days; architect Blaine Cook fled the country yesterday. Neither was able to fix Twitter's oft-reported propensity to crash. We hear the final straw to break Biz Stone's back was not the breakdown yesterday that TechCrunch described as a "privacy disaster". Makes sense, because isn't that Twitter's raison d'tre?
april 2008
5 Simple Ways To Keep Up With The Rails Community
Update: There are some great suggestions in the comments as well.

There's a lot going on in the world of Rails these days.  This is great for developers, but sometimes it can be difficult to keep up with all latest happenings in the community.  In addition to changes in Ruby 1.9 and Edge Rails, there's a constant stream of news with regards to well-known Rails projects, emerging plugins and development/coding strategies.

Below are a few resources I use to stay up-to-date without experiencing information overload:

RubyFlow.com - This relatively new site is a great way to quickly see daily Rails news.  It was built by Peter Cooper (author of Beginning Ruby and the blog Ruby Inside).  Anyone from the community can post links on the site, or comment on posts.  I find myself visiting here multiple times per day to get a quick sense of what's happening and to make sure I haven't missed any important news.
GitHub - In addition to being a public git repository, GitHub has become a developer social network of sorts.  By following projects that interest you (including Rails itself), you end up with a single place to view all the commits that have happened on your projects.
Twitter - For the twitter users out there, there are a few options.  First, there's a user called rornews that you can follow, which posts links to Rails blog and job postings across the web.  You can also follow a number of members of the Rails community who are on twitter, including Obie Fernandez, Geoffrey Grosenbach, Ryan Bates, and why the lucky stiff (side note: anyone is welcome to follow me on twitter as well!).  Finally, you can consider using the tracking feature on twitter to follow "rails" or "ruby on rails".  This will give you a lot of updates, but if you're willing to sift through it you'll probably learn about news almost as soon as it happens.
Shared Feeds - I really like shared feeds (also called link blogs) as a way to see the best content filtered through a trusted source.  A few feeds to check out include Obie Fernandez, Geoffrey Grosenbach, and what appears to be "Matz" himself.  Or rather than following a single person, you try tracking searches for "rails" on FriendFeed or RSSmeme.
Blog Suggestions - There are a whole bunch of great Rails blogs out there, but if I had to choose the top 3 they would be the official Ruby on Rails blog, The Rails Way, and Ryan's Scraps (I find the "What's New in Edge Rails" posts to be invaluable).

If anyone has any other suggestions, please post them in the comments!
from google
april 2008
Twitter Trends: Twist
The popularity of Google Trends, which lets users compare the relative popularity of words and phrases based on the quantity of search queries on Google over time, is starting to spawn similar services based on different data sets. Facebook now has Lexicon (launched April 15), which shows trends based on Wall posts. Twitter doesnt have an official in house trends product of their own, but Flaptor just released one called Twist. Like the related Google and Facebook services, Twist looks at mentions of the queried terms in messages and graphs them over time. Users can also click on any of the terms and go directly to the recent Twitter messages containing that term. Flaptor also has a good Twitter search tool, as well as a number of other projects. Brand owners, researchers and others are always looking for more data, and these tools are very useful for that. Startups like Scout Labs are also emerging to help aggregate and make sense of as much of this data as possible. My guess is well see them integrate as much of it as possible. CrunchBase Information Twist Information provided by CrunchBase Crunch Network: CrunchGear drool over the sexiest new gadgets and hardware.
april 2008
Flickr: 704 API Calls per Second
As announced on the Flickr Blog, Flickr has launched a new website for developers: Flickr Code. And besides announcing the new site theyve both a) given interesting details on just how much API traffic they do each day (see below), and b) they announced theyre open sourcing Flickr Uploadr, the cross-platform (Windows and OS X) desktop tool for uploading photos to Flickr.
april 2008
Identicons from Gravatar
You may notice in my comments now for people who don’t have an existing Gravatar I show cool geometric patterns. These are called Identicons and they were originally conceived by Don Park. With a single parameter, you can have the Gravatar API fall back to an identicon or even force it to return one. This works in any size Gravatar supports, up to 512 pixels. Sweet!
from google
april 2008
Muxtape With Coverflow Using Fluid
Naturally I have combined these three to-dos into one. Below is a quick tutorial on harnessing the power of Fluids new thumbnail plugin to create a simple Muxtape application with sweet coverflow previews of the featured mixes. Video after the ju
april 2008
This is a hideous tool that can be used to export your entire Twitter timeline to a CSV file, readable by any spreadsheet application (Excel, Numbers, etc.). Exported data includes the tweet plus a timestamp of when it was sent.
april 2008
Most unpopular president since polling was invented
Mr. 28% is now the most unpopular president in Gallup history.
President Bush has set a record he'd presumably prefer to avoid: the highest disapproval rating of any president in the 70-year history of the Gallup Poll.
In a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday, 28% of Americans approve of the job Bush is doing; 69% disapprove. The approval rating matches the low point of his presidency, and the disapproval sets a new high for any president since Franklin Roosevelt.
The previous record of 67% was reached by Harry Truman in January 1952, when the United States was enmeshed in the Korean War.
You know what makes this number particularly amazing? Bush, post-9-11, notched the highest approval ratings in Gallup history. So he literally went from the most popular president, to the most hated. The whole country is celebrating their Bush Derangement Syndrome!
And McCain is eager to follow in his footsteps.
april 2008
Are you sure you want to be in San Francisco?
Techies, VCs, and the press are always swooning over the glory of the Bay area. This is where all the excitement, the money, and the people are, they say. And that’s true to the extent that your great big idea fits the current cultural mold of that environment.

If you’re looking to build the next web 2.0 social media eyeball-collecting application, don’t want to worry about boring details like revenues, and hope to either flip to Google for an early $20 million or get that Facebook billion-dollar valuation, the Bay area is exactly where you want to be. No where else do you have the connections, the people, and the atmosphere available to make that dream happen.

But this strain of startups is a highly inbred line that holds more risks than most people realize. It’s not that they never work financially, enough people are sipping Margaritas on sunny beaches from towering buyouts to prove the contrary. And it’s not that they don’t work socially — I personally enjoy YouTube as much as the next guy. It’s that the Bay area pipeline for building web businesses isn’t optimized to carry much else than these stereotypes.Other people’s money
If your idea for a web business is more along the lines of the mundane “product * price = profit” (3P) variety, I think the culture of San Francisco and that famous 20-mile radius around Stanford is anything but helpful. I might even go as far as say it’s downright harmful.

The flush availability of other people’s money is simply too tempting. When you’re not spending your own money, it’s easy to splash on a big open office on day one, a staff of 10+ in no time, and have few worries about paying the bills on the 1st of the month. It takes away much of the urgency to make money that I think is critical to build sustainable businesses. It gives you too many resources to be satisfied building simple tools for niche markets. Everything becomes about catching that huge wave.

Fighting for talent
And besides the simple temptation of having a few million dollars in the bank account — even though they’re not really yours and probably never will be — it breeds an asset bubble for everything else. When tons of half-baked startups out there have a million-dollar bank roll, they’re going to be looking pretty sharp when shopping for talent.

If you’re a programmer or designer working in this area, you probably have more than a few friends or acquaintances who got filthy rich simply being on the ground floor of Google or YouTube or some other company that either made them a millionaire through acquisition or IPO. Are you really going to be interested working for a company that simply aims to make a few measly millions for the first couple of years? Why settle for something that’ll take 5, 7, 10 years to mature when you can instead just hop from company to company every 6-18 months in search of that lottery ticket.

So while there is undoubtedly legions of good people available, you’re unlikely to be able to hire or retain them in an environment where every business magazine cover of is telling people that the next billionaire is even younger than the previous. No wonder people feel stressed out to make it huge before they’re 30 and will jump at any opportunity that looks like this might be it.

But where else?
If San Francisco, the Bay area, and Sillicon Valley aren’t good places to start a web business of the 3P variety, where is? Well, I’d say just about any place but. Basecamp came from Chicago/Copenhagen, FogBugz from New York, Campaign Monitor from Australia, Shopify from Ottawa, Freshbooks from Toronto, Blinksale from Texas, and there are tons of other applications of the same ilk that come from all over the world.

So stop worrying to much about where you are and start worrying about how you’re going to make your business succeed the old fashion way: Through having a better product than the competition that people are willing to pay for.

P.S.: None of this means that it’s impossible to build a web business in San Francisco that makes money by selling a product. There are plenty of examples of that too. Like TypePad or FaxItNice. This is an argument that the area is overrated as a great place for starting a company.
from google
april 2008
1,800 MySQL Servers with Two DBAs
Here’s a statistic I love, Facebook is running
1,800 MySQL Servers with only 2 DBAs. Impressive. I love seeing services show how
far you can go towards admin-free operation. 2:1,800 is respectable and for database
servers it downright impressive. This data from a short but interesting report at: http://www.paragon-cs.com/wordpress/?p=144.


The Facebook fleet has grown fairly dramatically
of late.   For example, Facebook is the largest Memcached
installation and the most recent
reports I had come across have 200
Memcached servers at facebook.
 At the Scaling
MySQL panel, they report 805 Memcached


1,800 MySQL Servers, insulated by 805 Memcached
servers, and driven by 10,000 web servers. Smells like success.




Thanks to Dare
Obasanjo for pointing me to this


James Hamilton, Windows
Live Platform Services

Bldg RedW-D/2072, One Microsoft Way, Redmond, Washington, 98052

W:+1(425)703-9972 | C:+1(206)910-4692 | H:+1(206)201-1859 | JamesRH@microsoft.com

H:mvdirona.com |
| blog:http://perspectives.mvdirona.com



From Perspectives.
from google
april 2008
Who Are The Biggest Users of Amazon Web Services? Its Not Startups.
Amazon loves to talk about its Web Services because it positions the company as a bold innovator bringing cloud computing to the unwashed masses and other companies still stuck in the land of legacy data centers. But it is coy when it comes to details about the actual business behind Amazon Web Services, which includes its S3 storage service, EC2 compute cloud, and SimpleDB online database. During its fourth-quarter earnings call, Amazon offered up the tidbit that Amazon Web Services (AWS) now uses up more bandwidth than Amazon.com proper, but not much else. You could infer, however, that the business is not yet very large, accounting for less than $131 million of Amazons $5.7 billion in revenues that quarter. The revenues may be small, but they are no doubt growing very quickly. So who are using these services? A high-ranking Amazon executive told me there are 60,000 different customers across the various Amazon Web Services, and most of them are not the startups that are normally associated with on-demand computing. Rather the biggest customers in both number and amount of computing resources consumed are divisions of banks, pharmaceuticals companies and other large corporations who try AWS once for a temporary project, and then get hooked. That surprised me. These are the types of customers you wouldnt expect to see running their data through a hosted service. But apparently the cost advantage of paying by the drink versus buying new hardware and staffing up to do a random data run is convincing them to trust more of their data with Amazon. It goes without saying that these are the types of companies who demand the highest security for their data. Banks and drug companies. And they have a lot of data to crunch. You just hear more about the startups because many are increasingly putting their entire businesses on Amazon, and the economics of cloud computing really levels the playing field for them. They also tend to be more open about their data practices. But cloud computing is already going much deeper than the startup world, and gaining adherents in big IT organizations. Crunch Network: CrunchBoard because its time for you to find a new Job2.0
april 2008
Wall Street Journal Paper Redesign: Launching Tomorrow; Broader Focus
The much-anticipated Wall Street Journal print redesign is launching tomorrow, as this long Newsweek story writes about, including positioning it as Rupert Murdoch's full frontal assault on the New York Times (NYSE: NYT). The series of editorial and design changes, which is more evolutionary than revolutionary, will include:

-- lots more news stories on politics and national and international affairs on page one.

-- the entire A section will become as a catchall for general news.

-- the second section, Marketplace, now becomes home to the Journal's coverage of corporate America, getting its own ascendancy of sorts.

-- the third section, Money and Investing, remains the showcase for news of the financial markets and investing.

-- the op-ed section will grow to three pages from two.

-- a culture section is under development for a fall debut in the Journal's weekend edition, and Murdoch has added a weekly sports page.

-- the online redesign is slated to launch this fall, not in the next few weeks as we reported first. Meanwhile, the umbrella, as we reported, has now started appearing on all WSJ Digital Network sites, which includes WSJ.com, Barrons.com, MarketWatch and others.

As for Murdoch's own involvement in WSJ, if you had any doubts, here it is: "Rather than entrust the job of all this to subordinates, Murdoch has been devoting half his time since acquiring Dow Jones (NYSE: NWS) to reshaping the paper. He has become a regular and jarring presence in the Journal newsroom: ever since he appeared unannounced on Easter--to, as he puts it, 'set an example'--top editors have been dragging themselves into the Journal's headquarters across from Ground Zero on Sundays."
april 2008
TwittEarth Makes Twitter A Global Experience
Twitter visualizations are nothing new, but they always provide a great way to waste some time. The newest, TwittEarth, is eye-candy at its finest - a mesmerizing and mostly useless diversion that sticks you in space and whips you around the globe to see a new geo-located tweet every ten seconds. Tweets are accompanied by small, goofy icons that remain static on the map, eventually providing an interesting representation of usage distribution.

The app itself is very simple at this point. There dont seem to be any settings to speak of, and there isnt any way to stray from the default view. Users can login to the application and send their own messages, but its far more fun to zone out and watch tweets pop up around the globe.

TwittEarth is available as a Windows screen saver (a Mac version is on the way), and was created by Digitas France SA.

Crunch Network: MobileCrunch Mobile Gadgets and Applications, Delivered Daily.
april 2008
Google Website Optimizer Opens Up
One of Googles lesser-known web developer tools is Google Website Optimizer. That may be because until recently you could only use this tool in conjunction with a Google AdWords campaign. Now, however, the tool has relaunched as open and standalone, complete with its own blog. If youre involved with site design and development, its worth getting to know how this works.
april 2008
Chris McCormack, Macca Conference Call - April 17, 2008
For those that were not on the Chris McCormack - Macca call last night (April 17th, 08) here is my brief synopsis of it ( I was in the midst of packing for a wedding, uploading IMAZ pics, and eating some cookies so I missed some parts):

-First off Macca sounded just like you see him in tv interviews: super relaxed, eager to share about anything and everything, not holding back on answers, and once again displayed his encyclopedia-like knowledge about our sport and fellow competitors. He was very open to sharing and I think he probably went over the time limit he was getting compensated for.

-He has just finished a 10 week base period and is moving into harder stuff ahead of Wildflower (can we get some live ST coverage of Wildflower? Come on slowman!). The other 2 focus races he mentioned were Ironman Germany and obviously Kona.

-Speaking about his bike vs run he really went into detail about why he has backed off on the bike at Kona after winning other Ironmans off the front. For Kona he said he figured out that he needed to stay under 155 hear rate till right about 4 hours and then allowing it to rise modestly heading back into town.

-Bike setup: He mentioned that for him Ironman is all about comfort. He specifically mentioned Tjorborn and Chris Lieto as guys whose plan is to ride hard and hold on for the marathon (“you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out their plan”). The questioner asked him specifically about why he was so relaxed and unsteep (ST steep crew where u at?) - Macca mentioned that coming from short course (along with Crowie) that he had moved from a more relaxed setup to his current one that is not as steep as the Normans or Bjorns of the world but allows him to run fast.

-About Bjorn – he said that Bjorn has “beautiful bike splits” in his aggressive position but then has “horrendous marathon splits” so what Macca has decided is to position himself in a way that allows for optimal running (by the way, this is exactly what Greg Bennett told me at Chicago Tri last year, interesting for me to hear two very opposite athletes that are considered “run specialists” at different distances offer the same critique - video interview with Bennett over at www.youtube.com/iwilltri )

-He mentioned the ability of him and Tjorborn and current guys to go to the lab and get tested. For Macca it was water, weight, and sweat rate. For Tjorborn it was the heat issue. He mentioned that for everyone it is different strengths and weaknesses and since he is a biger athlete he’d ever be able to win off the front at Kona cause he would not be able to run well (he said at the beginning of his Kona experiences he couldn’t even put together a measly three hour marathon cause he had ridden too hard). He mentioned Crowie “not even wearing an aero helmet” and how each has to play to his strengths.

-As the heaviest triathlete to win Kona (80kilos), he mentioned that he loses a lot of water during the race (one reason why Mark Allen counseled him to train up in Boulder - to “become a camel”) and on the nutritional side will take 440 calories (I was surprised by the 440 exact # but Macca is VERY number based/analytical) for first three hours of bike and then reduce to 350 calories and less as race progresses.

-Caffeine: Peter Reid got him on coffee (“I had never had a cup of coffee before coming to America mate”). He says he will drink tons of coffee, then quit cold turkey for 3-4 weeks before Ironman, and then take the double caffeinated clif shots (I guess Clif makes him a special blend) that really give him a boost. He has a Red Bull at run special needs which gives him an extra boost.

-Mental Toughness: he talked a lot about Mark Allen helping him in this area – I wish I had taken more notes but I stopped writing and just listened – this is heavy stuff where the boys and the men get weeded out, if you have read/listened to MA you know he is big on it and Macca spent a good deal of time on this… “when I was coming out of transition in ‘07 running 5:30s people were yelling and saying I was going too fast, and that is when I remember what MA had told me – you can’t doubt yourself, you have to press on. I had worked for this moment, it was my moment and I was not going to second guess myself.”

He talked about seeing Crowie give him a wave (I am guessing at the turn around?) and how he didn’t wave back because he didn’t want to give any energy away – this is something that MA has talked about in the past and I think Peter Reid too. “It was my moment, I kept telling myself don’t screw this up, you have to finish.”
Sorry I don’t have more notes about this but it was pretty inspiring and insightful to listen to him replay his Kona mental moments.

-Macca seemed to be so aware of everything around him during the race - he mentioned knowing how guys would ride, how they could run (he thought Lieto was running a very smart marathon) . Crowie ran 1:30 into him at the end but that was when Macca knew he’d win and had started to celebrate.

-Ironman pain: he went off for a while about embracing Ironman pain, the dark moments we all go through – he said that MA helped him to embrace that. That you need to mentally embrace the pain and realize it will pass and then will probably come back but that is part of racing. Once again I wish I had more notes but I was paying attention and not writing…

Overall I was impressed again with the studious, humble, open, and transparent he was. I have interviewed a few pros now and they obviously all need some level of “I want to be 1st” to survive” – so before the Macca haters get on here and tear me apart I just want to say that yes he can be cocky and we all know that too (he admits to it) - but his passion for triathlon is very infectious (listen to the full ironmantalk podcast at Roth last year!) and he is quite the student of the sport.

He is a very good ambassador for our sport in the same vein as Greg Bennett and Michellie Jones.
from google
april 2008
Super Hot: Muxtape With Coverflow
MP3 "mix tape" site Muxtape has been my preferred source of new music for the last few weeks now, in large part because the simple interface is such a joy to use. Now, internet and organic root-beer lover Colin Sproule has come up with a great way for Mac users to get an iTunes-style Coverflow preview of playlists on the site.

The improvement in user experience for this already fantastic app is remarkable. Check out the how-to video embedded below. It's also a great example of several brand new apps all put to use together.

Sproule demonstrates how he used the deceptively "site specific browser" Fluid to make what's almost a Rich Internet App on the desktop, dedicated here to Muxtape, and then pull in the CSS of Muxtape previews and turn on Coverflow. The end result is super hot. Notice also the great screencast production technology, Sproule uses the popular new screencasting tool Screenflow. Here's a screenshot , below that is the video about how you can put this on your Mac in minutes.

You can also skip the Fluid part and just download the completed "app" from Tom Martin's blog. You'll still have to make the CSS edit yourself, though.

If you've wondered why you'd use Fluid to make a standalone browser for a single web site, this is a great example. Following Sproule's instructions was remarkably easy, it took me less than five minutes and added a wrinkle to my internet experience that I expect to use regularly.

I struggled for awhile until I realized that my Mac needed a software update and that solved the problem of previews not appearing right away. For some reason still, a couple of the pages aren't fully previewing - but this is a much better experience than the standard Muxtape black box.

This really inspires me to try some more things out with Fluid, including perhaps a standalone FriendFeed browser - since the newly released AlertThingy really aint doing it for me. Update: While walking my dog and listening to Newsgang talk about politics and Twitter, I realized that to be honest it was through AlertThingy that I saw a Growl popup about Engtech Digging Sproule's post about this. Sometimes I drown in a soup of input and forget exactly where I first find things. I apologize for that.

The Coverflow feature combined with Muxtape is really great though.
april 2008
MyOpenID for Your Domain - The Easiest Way to Use Your URL as an OpenID
OpenID, a technology that allows users to sign in to new supporting websites through a single trusted ID provider of their choice, is notoriously hard for non-developers to implement and in many cases use. One of the biggest challenges may have been eliminated, however, by the recent release of a new service called MyOpenID for Domains.

The service makes it remarkably easy for anyone to create OpenID accounts through their own domain, using the MyOpenID authentication service.

For example, my new OpenID is http://openid.marshallk.com/marshallk, based on my personal site marshallk.com. It was really easy to set up and now I can offer other users of my site their own marshallk.com OpenID as well. (Hi Mom!)

How It's Done

MyOpenID for Domains lets you set up OpenIDs in one of two formats: Wildcard subdomains like member.yourdomain.com or as a single subdomain + path like openid.yourdomain.com/member.

I chose the single subdomain plus member path because I want to be able to use other subdomains for other purposes.

It's really easy to set up either path. For my WordPress blog I just filled out the form below, then I had to call my webhost (Bluehost - great customer service, terrible uptime) and ask them to make a small edit to my DNS record. I gave them this information:

Name: openid.marshallk.com
Value: www.myopenid.com

They made the change needed, basically setting up a redirect, in less than 5 minutes. Other hosts will let you edit your own DNS info. I then posted a page on my blog with a particular URL and a short code for MyOpenID to detect. That's it - I was done. Now I can use my own domain name as an OpenID. The next step was to make sure that my user identity page was looking spiffy.

If MyOpenID ever closes its doors, it will be easy for me to edit my DNS record back and keep my OpenID URL from becoming a 404 out of my control. I'll also now be able to verify that I am in fact the owner of marshallk.com.

Limitations of the Service

This is the easiest way I've found to use my own domain name as an OpenID. There are other ways to do it but they've always given me far more trouble than they should. This service from MyOpenID is also an easy way to offer and administer OpenID accounts to other users of a particular website.

MyOpenID is a good OpenID provider. MyOpenID for Domains does require that you use their service in particular, however. There are many different OpenID providers offering many different advanced features. Check out SpreadOpenID.org for a comparison of many different providers.

As you can see below, my MyOpenID profile is now tied to my domain. All I need now is the ability to put HTML links in my summary info, display recent items in an RSS feed of my choice on this page and some other customization options. Then I'll be doing great.

Watch this space for more forthcoming news on big increases in OpenID usability.
april 2008
Dow Jones Acquires Business Networking Tool Generate
Dow Jones has started its acquisitions again, now as part of News Corp (NYSE: NWS). it has bought a much-talked about company in the business social networking space: the Boston-based Generate Inc. Financials of the deals were not disclosed. As part of the acquisition, DJ will form a new business unit called Business & Relationship Intelligence in its Enterprise Media Group (which is headed by Clare Hart) that will focus on bringing Generate-powered solutions to market in the enterprise sales and media segments. Generate co-founder Tom Aley will lead this new group as SVP and managing director, while co-founder Darr Aley will become VP, marketing and business development, of the new unit. All Generate employees will join Dow Jones.
april 2008
A peek at In/Out, an internal app at 37signals
For about the last year we’ve been using an internal app we developed called In/Out. This tool grew out of our need to keep track of what people are doing right now, plus the last few things people have completed.

We used to do this in Campfire. At the beginning of every day people would check [in] with a list of things they wanted to do. At the end of the day they’d check [out] with a list of things they actually did. It was a good way to see what people had planned for the day, and what actually happened that day.

Twice a day updates weren’t enough

But once in the morning and once at the end of the day wasn’t really enough information to know what people were working on right now. So we often asked “Matt, what are you working on?” or “Sam, what’s keeping you busy right now?” We knew there had to be a better way. Interrupting people just to find out what they were doing was counterproductive.

In/Out was born

So we built a little tool in a couple days called In/Out. In/Out let everyone set their current status (“Working on the Affiliate Program” or “Preparing for my presentation on Friday”), plus In/Out allowed you to make journal entries for the things you’ve finished (“Updated book proposal” or “Modernized list reordering” or “Deployed Backpack calendar reminders”). People were encouraged to be as specific as they wanted to be.

One screen, left and right

Your stuff was on the left and everyone else’s stuff was on the right. It was a one-screen app with everything right in front of you. It was killer. We quickly got a handle on who was busy on this and who finished that.

Here’s what it looks like:

Other people would find this useful, yeah?

We had been thinking of releasing In/Out as its own product, but it would require a fair bit of work which we knew we’d never get around to. We’d have to build a site, allow people to sign up, and deal with all the other stuff that comes with launching a brand new product. We knew In/Out had a lot of value, but we just had more valuable things to spend our time on right now.

Coming to a Backpack near you?

Over the past few days we’ve been working on adding the In/Out concept to Backpack. It seems like a good fit since relaunching Backpack as more of an intranet and workgroup tool.

So we’ve retired In/Out internally at 37signals and are now using the version we built into Backpack. It’s not public yet — we’re going to use it for the next few days and see how it feels. If we think it’s a good fit we’ll likely launch it publicly as part of Backpack sometime in the next few weeks.

Stay tuned.
from google
april 2008
This is why we love Microsoft
Because honestly, what other company in the world makes videos as cheesy and awful and outdated as this? I mean honestly. It's like they're trying to be awful. And it just keeps helping our business. Leopard anyone?
april 2008
Google Releasing Google Earth 4.3 Today
Today Google will be releasing a new version of Google Earth: Version 4.3.
april 2008
Apple TV 2.0.2 Update is here, no one knows why
Two weeks after Apple release the 2.0.1 update for the Apple TV, the company has released yet another update. And just like the 2.0.1 update, nobody knows exactly what this update is for.

Some members of the MacRumors forums have reported (http://www.macrumors.com/2008/04/14/apple-quietly-releases-apple-tv-2-02-update/) that the user interface is much smoother now. Other than that, there are no obvious changes.

If you think you know why Apple released this update, please shed some light.
from google
april 2008
Check Your WordPress Security
Matt Mullenweg from the WordPress team has posted a message about the security of WordPress, which MarsEdit users who run WordPress should take a look at. It’s particularly timely because there are a number of attacks going around that impact older WordPress blogs that haven’t been updated to to the most recent version.

In my customer support for MarsEdit, I have been seeing these security problems pop up quite a bit lately. The so-called “spam injection” attacks often inject spam links at the oblivious expense of how these links might mess up the XMLRPC interface which blog clients such as MarsEdit use to interact with your blog. It’s gotten to the point where error messages from the blog such as “Parse error. Not well formed.” are almost certain to be symptoms of such a spam injection attack. Updating to the latest WordPress almost always fixes the problem immediately.

Matt’s advice is pretty basic: update to the latest WordPress, and check your posts for signs of tampering. But it’s nice to have advice “from the top,” so to speak. I will be glad to see this wave of blog-attacks pass us by as more and more users get updated to the latest release of WordPress.

I commented on the post, suggesting that what WordPress would really benefit from is some kind of automated updater, so that users can easily update without having to worry about whether they’re doing it right or whether they’ll mess up their blog. The great news is Matt replied saying that they are in fact working on such a feature for 2.6.

Looking forward to a built-in automatic updater for WordPress! But in the mean time, be sure to stay current so you avoid the nasty attacks that are going around.
from google
april 2008
Robert Reich on Bitterness and the Press
In response to the fuss over whether it was elitist of Barack Obama to observe that some people are bitter that their jobs have been eliminated and replaced, former Clinton labor secretary Robert Reich writes:
I was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, 61 years ago. My father sold $1.98 cotton blouses to blue-collar women and women whose husbands worked in factories. Years later, I was secretary of labor of the United States, and I tried the best I could which wasnt nearly good enough to help reverse one of the most troublesome trends America has faced: The stagnation of middle-class wages and the expansion of povety. Male hourly wages began to drop in the early 1970s, adjusted for inflation. The average man in his 30s is earning less than his father did thirty years ago. Yet America is far richer. Where did the money go? To the top.
Are Americans who have been left behind frustrated? Of course. And their frustrations, their anger and, yes, sometimes their bitterness, have been used since then -- by demagogues, by nationalists and xenophobes, by radical conservatives, by political nuts and fanatical fruitcakes to blame immigrants and foreign traders, to blame blacks and the poor, to blame "liberal elites," to blame anyone and anything.
Rather than counter all this, the American media have wallowed in it. Some, like Fox News and talk radio, have given the haters and blamers their very own megaphones. The rest have merely "reported on" it. Instead of focusing on how to get Americans good jobs again; instead of admitting too many of our schools are failing and our kids are falling behind their contemporaries in Europe, Japan, and even China; instead of showing why we need a more progressive tax system to finance better schools and access to health care, and green technologies that might create new manufacturing jobs, our national discussion has been mired in the old politics.
Read the whole post -- it's a Jon-Stewart-on-Crossfire moment that should be on television, not just Reich's blog.
april 2008
Tips for getting the most out of Backpack on the iPhone
Just Another iPhone Blog recently posted "Tips and Tweaks Make 37signals Backpack A 'Must Have' iPhone Application." It discusses using iBackpack to make your Backpack pages look nice on your iPhone and also links to a Forum post that shows how to add a custom Backpack icon to your iPhone home screen.

I came to Backpack to solve a specific work issue/need but am finding it to be an incredibly powerful and useful web-based application. I now use it to communicate with my colleagues and reduce the amount of telephone we play when information is incorrectly transmitted. I use it to collect pictures, manage a to do list, store files and documents for easy access anywhere anytime. I used it to collect ideas, information, slides and random thoughts as I prepared a talk I gave at a conference last week. Best of all, it is not only powerful but it is easy to use. In fact, it is the first time I pushed my colleagues toward a new technology that they did not initially curse me about.

The problem is- while Backpacks pages are fully accessible from an iPhone or iPod Touch they are a bit too difficult to manipulate easily.

Fortunately, some incredibly smart folks have created some amazing add-ons that make Backpack one of the most iPhone-friendly and powerful applications around.

Justin Michael at violetpixel.com as created iBackpack. iBackpack is code that optimizes Backpack pages for viewing and use on an iPhone. He has posted screen caps on his site that show the difference...

Justins code make each page easily accessible, fully readable. It makes adding, editing and changing the information on a page a breeze. It makes Backpack one of, if not the, best iPhone organizational tools around.

But that left an additional issue. Once I optimized my pages using iBackpack I created direct links to some of my most-used Backpack pages on my home screen. They work great but look downright ugly.

Luckily Grettir Asmundarson at tinypineapple.com created a lovely little iPhone icon and has shared it with anyone who wants it.

Now Backpack works great AND looks great on my iPhone. It has become my most important organizational application in a short period of time and I have no doubt that will only increase as 37signals and other creative folks find new and powerful uses for it.

How do you add that custom Backpack icon to your iPhone home screen? Grettir offers step-by-step instructions at the Backpack Forum.
Its not the most elegant solution, but it will do for now

(Note: If your iPhone typing skills are anything like mine, steps 1 and 2 may be easier to do on your computer.)

1. Go to your Backpack Home Page.

2. Add a divider anywhere on the page. When youre prompted for a name for the divider, enter the following:

<link rel="apple-touch-icon" href="http://www.tinypineapple.com/backpack/images/apple-touch-icon.png" />

3. Go to your Backpack Home Page on your iPhone.

4. Tap the plus (+) button at the bottom of the iPhone screen and choose Add to Home Screen.

5. Name the new Web Clip Backpack. (The generic icon on the left will be replaced by the new icon after a few seconds delay.)

6. Tap Add in the upper right-hand corner and your new custom Backpack icon should appear on your Home Screen.

When youre done you can remove the divider you added in Step 1. The icon will stick around until you delete the Web Clip from the Home Screen.

Thanks Grettir!
april 2008
Test Regular Expressions Online with RegExr [Search Techniques]
Regular expressions are archaic-looking, extremely specific, and amazingly helpful for finding the right data, files or whatever else you need. RegEx, a free online regular expression tester, lets...
from google
april 2008
Caffeine control
Filed under: Freeware
We're once again talking about Caffeine from lighthead Software (makers of Papaya), the freeware menubar app that keeps your screen awake. It's now at version 1.0.2 with one new feature that makes it even more useful: time-limited activation.

A command-click on the coffee cup icon in your menubar presents a menu that allows you to set a variable duration for Caffeine to be activated. Got a 10 minute video to show a friend, but your screen is set to dim or go into Screensaver before the end? Set Caffeine for 15 minutes and forget about it.

We covered Jolt a while back, and this feature was available... for a small, $5 fee (of course, it's worth mentioning that half of those five dollars are donated to charity). But Caffeine has caught up and it remains free. Update your copy or take it for a spin at lighthead's website.
april 2008
Where Are All The Google Data Centers?
There are 36 data centers in all19 in the U.S., 12 in Europe, 3 in Asia, and one each in Russia and South America. Future data center sites may include Taiwan, Malaysia, Lithuania, and Blythewood, South Carolina, where Google has reportedly bought 466 acres of land.
april 2008
Passenger (mod rails for Apache) launches
The guys at Phusion has finally wrapped up Passenger, their mod_rails-like module for Apache. Its looking like a great, easy solution for people who want a more PHP-like deployment story. Just dump your files in a directory setup with a vhost and off you go. Touch tmp/restart.txt and the application is restarted. Doesnt get much simpler than that.
april 2008
april 2008
Rails premieres on GitHub
GitHub has now officially launched and Rails is right there at the premiere. The Rails repository now lives at rails/rails and you can check it out with:

git clone git://github.com/rails/rails.git

If you dont have git, or dont enjoy running it on your platform, you need not fear. Weve set up an automated task to produce a zip file of Rails Edge thatll be kept up to date all the time: http://dev.rubyonrails.org/archives/rails_edge.zip. This is also what weve made the new rake rails:freeze:edge use.

This also means that development on the Subversion repository has stopped and will no longer be kept up to date. Well keep the Subversion repository around for some time for people to transition off svn:externals, though. But if you want the latest edge, youll have to use either git or the new zip files.

Well also soon go live with our new ticket management system, which will be running on a new version of Lighthouse. When that happens, the Trac installation will follow the Subversion repository into legacy. Well still keep it around so we can work through all the patches and tickets that are there, but everything new will happen on the Lighthouse setup.

We hope youll enjoy this upgrade to the Rails collaboration infrastructure. Were really looking forward to the onslaught of marvelous patches that the Git lords have promised us will flow from the mountain now.
april 2008
Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection Client for Mac 2 (Beta 3)
Remote Desktop Connection Client for Mac 2 lets you connect from your Macintosh computer to a Windows-based computer or to multiple Windows-based computers at the same time. After you have connected, you can work with applications and files on the Windows-based computer.
To learn about what's new in Remote Desktop Connection Client for Mac 2, please visit the Microsoft Web site.
from google
april 2008
why i deleted my twitter account
[A cartoon from 2007 etc.]It's no big deal. I liked Twitter. But I found it too easy.

I think my time would be better spent drawing cartoons and writing books.

That's just how I feel.

[UPDATE:] This story seems to have made it onto the front page of Techmeme. Lots of people talking about it. Wow.

[UPDATE:] An archive of my Tweets can be found here.

[UPDATE:] A couple of hundred e-mails later, I restored the Twitter account. You can read again it here.
from google
april 2008
Statistics on Friendfeed usage provide interesting insights
Over on his blog Alexander van Elsas has taken some time and wrung some FriendFeed usage stats. He says his reasons for doing this were fairly straightforward. He wanted to see if that actions of users are shared with others without intent, that is the person performing the action is intentionally sharing, the content that gets shared is usually less valuable.

Alexanders conclusion once he had sliced and diced the data that FriendFeed was really nothing more than a techie bloggers echo chamber. Although not all doom and gloom about the service he does have some suggestions that even make FriendFeed a serious contender for Techmemes spot as the leading resource for bloggers.

All in all it is an interesting read and well worth taking some time to look it over.

Conversation Tags: FriendFeed, statistics
april 2008
Two Ways to Expand Your Twitter Network
In watching people sample Twitter, Ive come to one conclusion: those who end up finding it a useful service tend to be people who build up a network of a few dozen to a few hundred people. If you only have a few Twitter friends, your chances of getting help when you need a question answered, or having something interesting pop up when you check in, are low enough that the service seems worthless.

Two recent web applications are designed to jumpstart the process by helping you find new potential friends quickly. Twubble looks at your existing friends and recommends other people who they follow. Twits Like Me looks at the text of your tweets to find other folks talking about the same things. Of the two, I found Twits Like Me to be more useful, but theyre both worth a good look if you feel the need for more activity in your Twitterstream.

april 2008
Economist CEO Leaving, Replaced By Ex Online Boss
The Economist Group CEO Helen Alexander is leaving the publisher after 23 years to become an adviser to private equity house Bain Capital. Her replacement, from July 15, will be Andrew Rashbass, a former MD of Economist.com who joined as CIO from DMGT's Associated Newspapers in 1997, the same year Alexander became CEO, The Times said.

Online advertising grew 15 percent year-on-year in the six months to September 30 and now makes up 17 percent of all revenue at the group, half of which is owned by FT parent Pearson (NYSE: PSO). Economist.com traffic was 2.6 million users in September and online is one of three group priorities for the year. Articles older than 12 months are behind a premium pay wall.


Economist Ready To Try 'Social Networking' Again
Earnings: Online Makes Up 17 Percent Of Economist's Revenues
april 2008
Gary the Great: Vaynerchuk sets the example of how to succeed in business today
Gary Vaynerchuk is a legend in the making.

Gary is best known for his wonderfully passionate video reviews on his self-styled Wine Library TV. But hes much deeper than that. Gary is an incredibly shrewd businessman with and innovative and intuitive business mind. Gary understand the next generation of promotion as well as anyone Ive ever seen.

Hes a master of the things that really matter now.

1. A master of the product he sells. He understands everything there is to understand about his product. He knows the business, the process, the flavors, the appeal inside and out. Hes immune to dogma he has his own opinions about his product and his industry.

2. A master of PR. Without a PR firm hes been on Conan, Ellen, and Nightline. His video reviews are watched by over 60,000 people a day. A good portion of those people dont give a damn about wine either. Theyre there to see Gary go. Hes talked about at wine conferences, tech conferences, print media, new media, everywhere. This is not an accident.

3. Hes a master of community. His wine reviews routinely get well over 100 comments. Some topping 300. His obsessed fans, affectionately branded the Vayniacs, are as passionate as he is. Through link ups, Facebook friending, and relentless Twittering, he gives them the fuel, attention, and love they need to keep the fire burning. And he reminds them that he appreciates every moment of it.

4. Hes a master of his own brand. He endlessly promotes Wine Library, his familys wine shop, and his own brand on camera, off camera, and through merchandising. He genuinely believes you can help people by being true to yourself. When you think of Gary you think of authentic passion. Is there a better quality for any brand? Heres some more great advice from Gary at Strategic Profits Live.

5. Hes a sharer. Gary shares all day long. He understand that when you share you get back more in return. But fundamentally hes not really sharing to get back, hes sharing because he loves to give. He loves giving his opinion on wine, business, life, etc. He wants other people to be successful.

On top of all this, Gary is just one hell of a nice guy. Ive recently gotten to know him and the one thing that really stands out besides his ridiculous energy is his generosity and overall desire to see others do well. Tara Hunts interview is a great example of this. I look forward to learning a lot from Gary. I hope you do too.
april 2008
32 Unique RSS Icons usage
Almost all the blogs contains at least one small RSS Icon, which sometimes create nerves to us, if we can`t find it to subscribe. So, most of the advanced in design bloggers, create for their blogs unique RSS Icons to distinguish from the rest of blog’s content.
from google
april 2008
evri.com - search less. understand more.
Using semantic understanding of content, EVRI is building the data graph of the web. We'll use this to create interesting and meaningful connections without having to search. In fact, we think people should search less, and understand more.
april 2008
How To: Getting Started with Amazon EC2
As the title of this article implies, this article is meant to be a beginners look into tinkering with EC2. Just because you will be able to host a page on EC2 at the end of this article does not mean you should start using it as your only server. Many
april 2008
Lightroom 2 Beta - Five Favorite New Features
In last week's blog I was looking over the fence at Apple's Aperture 2.0 and noted that it might give us a glimpse of things to come with Lightroom - and well, it did. The good news is that Lightroom...
from google
april 2008
IPhone WebKit Goodness: 3D CSS Transforms and ontouch events
Apple is secretive. I normally don't mind so much, as they always come through on yet another cool Mac product. If I could know one thing though, it wouldn't be when the next Macbook Pro is coming out, or when we will see the 3G iPhone. Instead, I wish I knew the attentions in the battle of "what can we develop with on the iPhone".

We started out with only being able to use JavaScript, and folks like Joe Hewitt quickly mastered the restrictive tools such as meta viewport and co.

Then we got the final word of the iPhone SDK, and the Cocoa developers rejoiced as they went from being the cool kids to the "now you will pay me to help in the land grab yO".

There was one shoutout to the WebKit lovers. We got ongesture* events.

Now we got a glimpse of new updates for the iPhone Ajaxians:

Safari 3.1 showed us CSS transforms, which are 2D. On the iPhone though, we can now do 3D transforms which means you can do true coverflow through the browser.

The other new thing I found are new touch screen events. We already knew about the ongesture* events, but now there are ontouch* events, and new DOM interfaces Touch, TouchList, and TouchEvent.

This is great progress.

The optimist in me thinks: Wow, WebKit is going to be a first class citizen and Apple will continue to open up more and more of the innards as JavaScript APIs.

The cynic in me thinks: Yeah, they will support it, kinda like how Java is supported on the Mac. One poor bugger has to do all of the work and make people care. In this case, when Apple starts making 30% on all of the native applications, what will their incentive be to help people develop apps using the Web?

The hope is that they realize that the Web is the long term winner, and that they want to win in that market too. Please, Mr. Jobs.
april 2008
TwitterLocal Peeks into the Real World
For the most part, despite a few geographic mashups like twittervision, Twitter users have existed in some amorphous location best known as cyberspace. But a new service, TwitterLocal, threatens to actually drag Twitterers into the real world.

TwitterLocal is simple to understand: you enter a city, state, or postal or zip code, and a radius (1 to 50 miles) and it pulls down the public tweets from everyone in that locale. You can get the results in RSS, on the web, or via a desktop Adobe AIR application. Itll be interesting to see whether this changes the Twitter dynamic at all: would you be more or less likely to participate if you knew your real-world neighbors could be watching?

april 2008
Git - SVN Crash Course
Welcome to the Git version control system! Here we will briefly introduce you to Git usage based on your current Subversion knowledge. You will need the latest Git installed; There is also a potentially useful tutorial in the Git documentation.
april 2008
Comcast to Twin Cities: Want WideBand? Gonna Cost You Big
Comcast, the largest cable company in the US announced today that it is going to start selling a 50 megabits per second (down) connection in Minnesotas Twin Cities region. The connection with 5 megabits/second upstream capability is based on DOCSIS 3.0 technology and will cost $150 a month. Cablevision, Surewest and Verizon have been offering similar high-speed yet very expensive connections for a while now.

The so-called Wideband connection is getting a lot of attention today, though the service is unavailable in larger Comcast markets like San Francisco, where 16 Mbps is as fast as you can go. Comcast promises that it will make Wideband available in 20% of the market it serves by 2009 and rest of the country in 2010. Talk is cheap! Since we are still waiting for TiVo on Comcast and instead suffering through a painful DVR experience, I am not holding my breath about WideBand showing up on my doorstep anytime soon.

Just a random observation: these expensive Wideband connections are attractive for a demographic that Comcast may label bandwidth hogs who might see their connections throttled.
april 2008
Playboy.com Goes Mobile with iPhone-compatible Version
Playboy, Americas favorite magazine (for the articles), just announced an iPhone version of the Playboy.com website. The site features an iPhone-esque UI and includes a HotorNot clone, a nightlife adviser, and Playboy Radio, an MP3-based online radio show. Check out CrunchGear for live coverage including the crowning of Miss Playboy Mobile.

Crunch Network: CrunchGear drool over the sexiest new gadgets and hardware.
april 2008
Ha Ha, Your Medium Is Dying: Mocking Financial Magazine Videos
Ha ha, your medium is dying! Financial-news print outlets seeking relevance have added video to their web sites. But their work is pretty much the opposite of YouTube gold. Brett Erlich, apparently just this guy who loves web videos, makes fun of the work
april 2008
Introducing the Stock Screener
Posted by Daniel Switkin, Software EngineerI'm very happy to announce that today we are introducing a new stock screener to Google Finance. If you haven't used one before, a screener is an advanced search tool that lets you find companies which match a set of criteria. For example, you could search for large companies with a PE ratio less than 20 which pay at least a 5% dividend. Or you could screen for small tech companies with strong 5 year growth. It's entirely up to your investment strategy.There are a number of new and cool features I'd like to mention. Anytime you make adjustments like setting a value, removing a criteria, or limiting the search to a single exchange, the list of results updates automatically. The search is completely live -- no buttons to press. We also have blue and white histograms so you can see the distribution of all companies for a particular value--for example there are far more companies with a market cap below one billion dollars than above. You can either grab the sliders or type exact values to the set the minimum and maximum for each criteria.Once you have run a screen that you like, you can bookmark the page or email the link to a friend. Since not all of the criteria may be familiar terms, we've included definitions in the Add Criteria wizard, as well as a help icon next to each line. As always, please let us know how you like it. We're hard at work on new features and want to incorporate your suggestions. Happy screening!
from google
april 2008
Amazon Launches SMS Buying Service
Amazon has launched Amazon TextBuyIt, a service that allows Amazon customers to purchase items via mobile phone text message. To use the service, customers text the name of a product, its description, or its UPC or ISBN number to Amazon (262966). If Amazon stocks the item, the user will get the first two results sent to them. To purchase am item, users reply with 1 or 2 and are prompted for their email address and zip code. The service then calls the user and completes the checkout process using an automated voice system. Like regular Amazon orders, users can later track the item from Amazon.com. The service is free to use, however items that are available as Deal of the Day or have a Gold Box Discount will not be discounted when purchased through Amazon TextBuyIt. The obvious application for the service is price comparisons from within a physical store; customers in Borders for example could SMS a book title to see whether Amazon stocks it for less. Expect to see people texting Amazon from a store near you in the coming months. CrunchBase Information Amazon Information provided by CrunchBase Crunch Network: CrunchBoard because its time for you to find a new Job2.0
april 2008
Need A Job? Make $1.20hour Tagging Photos
New service TagCow caused a bit of a stir over the weekend. The product seemingly solves the problem of auto-categorization and tagging of photos, something that seems to still be beyond the processing power and software skills of most startups. Users upload photos - thousands of them if they like - and within a few minutes the photos are returned with stunningly accurate descriptive keywords that facilitate searching and browsing later on. The product worked so well, and the site had so little description of the technology behind it, that I speculated that humans were doing the work in the background. And.I was right. A reader sent in a tip that they saw the service on Amazons Mechanical Turk service, which is a web service that gets people to do things that are fairly hard for computers to do. TagCow is actually a perfect fit for Mechanical Turk. Users are paid 4 cents to properly tag a group of five photos. I tagged a few photos with TechCrunch twenty times each, collected my 4 cents, and moved on. My guess is it would take about two minutes to properly tag the five photos. That means if you work steady and without breaks, you can make $1.20/hour. More if you are speedier. CrunchBase Information TagCow Information provided by CrunchBase Crunch Network: CrunchGear drool over the sexiest new gadgets and hardware.
april 2008
Lightroom 2 beta Available
Version 2 of Lightroom is now available as a public beta, allowing the the photographic community to provide feedback on new features and workflow enhancements. It's hard to believe that Lightroom 1.0 was released just over a year ago and Lightroom 1.1 shortly thereafter.  It really feels like the beta process never stopped and we've received a ton of great feedback through the feature request submissions, customer conversations, forum discussions, tradeshows and targeted customer visits. We're glad to continue the process by releasing this version before it's final to get your opinions on our progress.  This is different from the previous Lightroom beta in that we'll be targeting feedback on new enhancements and aiming to release the final version sooner than we did in the previous year-long beta.   I've provided a few key notes below but I strongly recommend reading the entire Release Notes document available on Labs.adobe.com.

Beta Eligibility

Q: Who is eligible for the  Lightroom 2.0 beta?
All Lightroom 1.0 customers.  Lightroom 1.0 customers can download and install Lightroom 2.0 beta for use throughout the beta program

Q: What about customers new to Lightroom?
Anyone can download the Lightroom 2.0 beta and try it for 30 days

Q: How can new customers try the beta for the entire program?
An invitation program  through labs.adobe.com allows Lightroom 1.0 customers to invite friends  to try the beta beyond  the 30 day trial until the beta expiration date

Q: When does the beta expire?
August 31, 2008



Primary Known Issues

Lightroom 2.0 beta will not upgrade Lightroom 1.x libraries.  The beta is intended to be used for testing and feedback purposes.  Lightroom 1.x and 2.0 beta libraries will be migrated to the finished version of Lightroom 2.0.
While data loss is not expected, this is a very early ‘beta’ quality build and you should always work on duplicates of files that are securely backed up. 
Lightroom 2 beta will not overwrite or interfere with a machine that currently has Lightroom 1.3.1 installed. 
Develop settings applied in Lightroom 2.0 beta are not guaranteed to transfer correctly to the final version of 2.0.  This is particularly true for localized corrections.
The new Photoshop integration functionality is only available with Photoshop CS3 (10.0.1) and should only be used for testing purposes.  Metadata associated with the original file may not carry over to the subsequent file saved from Photoshop
Additional known issues are listed in the release notes.

New Features

Streamlined Library Layout
Smart Collections
Powerful Filter Bar to search and refine images
Suggested Keywords for simplified keywording
10k pixel size limit raised to 30k pixels
Output-based Collections

Multiple Monitors:

-Four flexible modes for an alternate window:  Grid, Loupe, Compare, Survey
(Check out the Live Loupe mode!)

Photoshop CS3 Integration: 

Open files in Photoshop as a Smart Object
Select multiple images to merge as a Panorama
Merge multiple exposures into a single Photoshop HDR image
Load multiple files or virtual copies into Photoshop as separate layers in a single document.

Export Functionality:

Auto-add exported images to the Lightroom catalog
Auto Output Sharpening for images on export

Develop Module

Non-Destructive Localized Correction for dodging and burning specific areas of an image
Post Crop Vignette
Basic Panel Keyboard Shortcuts
Improved Auto Adjustment
Improved memory handling through 64-bit support on OS X 10.5 and Vista 64-bit.(Not limited to develop module)

Print Module

Picture Package for multi-page layouts

Print Module output directly to JPEG

Enhanced Print Sharpening based on PhotoKit Sharpener algorithms
16-bit Printing for Mac OS X 10.5

Additional Resources

Lightroom video tutorials by Julieanne Kost:  Lightroom 2 beta Tutorial Part I and Lightroom 2 beta Tutorial Part III. (Part II is on the way)
Lightroom 2 beta preview by Ian Lyons
Lightroom Tasmania Adventure
Lightroom 2 beta review by Uwe Steinmueller at OutbackPhoto.com.
Lightroom 2 beta review for our French-speaking photographers
Photoshop Cafe provides a feature review and 1 hour training video.

What about Lightroom 1.4?
Trust me, we haven't forgotten about the photographers who are awaiting a replacement to the Lightroom 1.4 update that we released and subsequently pulled from Adobe.com.
Lightroom 1.4.1 and Camera Raw 4.4.1 are currently undergoing additional testing before we release them in the first half of April. Thank you for your patience.
from google
april 2008
Its Lightroom 2.0 Baby (Beta that is)
Hey folks! I bet Ive got one heck-of-a surprise for you today. Ready for it? Adobe has released Lightroom 2.0 beta to the public (no, this is not a belated April fools day joke). Today kicks off Photoshop World and not only is Adobe going to demo the 2.0 beta but theyre letting everyone have it and download it for free. The first question everyones going to be asking is whats it all about. Ive included my top 10 favorite features in 2.0 right here. However, NAPP has an entire learning center website all set up with videos (by Scott Kelby and myself) on all the new features. Ill give you the links at the end of the post.

First, the top 10 list1) Localized Corrections (AKA: Dodge and Burn) - If Lightroom 2 came out and this was the only new feature Id upgrade in a heartbeat. Localized Corrections is the non-destructive dodging and burning that weve all wanted for so long. But I have to say this - its so much more. It goes WAY beyond what I expected from dodging and burning in Lightroom (which is why its called Localize corrections and not just dodge and burn) and I think youre going to love it.
2) Better Photoshop Integration - Now you can open your files as Smart Objects, Merge to Panorama or even export straight to Photoshops HDR from Lightroom.
3) Post-crop vignetting - if youve ever tried to darken the edges of a cropped photo with the lens vignetting slider youll know it doesnt really work. Thats where the post-crop vignette comes in.
4) Multiple Monitor support - can you say Finally!?
5) Picture Packages in the print module.
6) Output Sharpening in the print module and it really works this time around. Ive seen tests compared to Lightroom 1 and the print sharpening is noticeably better.
7) Smart Collections - Collections were great in LR 1 but smart collections make using collections a lot easier.
8.) Printing directly to a JPEG file in the Print module. So if you send your photos off to a lab now you can save the files right from within Lightrooms Print module.
9) Suggested Keywords - Get this Lightroom will start suggesting keywords to you once you start keywording your photos. Its weird to explain so make sure you stop by NAPPs learning center to see it in action.
10) OK, Im going to give you two here. First theres a new filter panel in the Library module that makes getting to your photos easier and faster because its right there with your photos (instead of tucked away on the left side panels). Next, the Slideshow and Web modules both have Content panels as well as Collection panels. So now you can very quickly switch slideshows without having to jump back to the Library module and choose different photos.

Now for the links to find out moreI know I promised some links so here they are:
- Download Lightroom 2 beta here
- NAPPs online learning center
- John Nacks Blog
- Scott Kelbys blog

Kelby Training Online Training Course
If youre already a Kelby Training subscriber then you can also check out my Lightroom 2.0 beta Power Session. It covers all the new features in Lightroom 2 beta and you have access to it immediately as a subscriber.

As you can imagine, with Photoshop World this week and Lightroom 2 beta launching things are pretty crazy and sure to get crazier. Ill have a lot more news, tips and tutorials as the weeks go on so make sure you stay tuned. Thanks for stopping by and thanks so much to all of the Photoshop World attendees whove already came by and introduced themselves. Take care!
april 2008
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