Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Are we in a bubble

I don't think we are in another bubble. The only people who would lose are the VCs, rather than last time when joe-public bought IPO stock.

Here's an amusing video from techcrunch. :-)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Motivation for startups

Quite a few of my mates have been talking about trying to start something. I've offered my services.. but I'm fairly sure nothing will come of it.

I think a lot of people love the idea of doing their own thing, being their own boss, taking over the world. The reality is that it's a LOT of hard work and there's an 85% rate of failure.

Me? I'm working for my second startup. (I'm not the founder of either of them). I fully intend to start something, but just can't find any ideas to do.

They say that you should fix something that you find broken. Others would probably have the same problem and you start getting users.

The truth is, I don't I have any problems or irratations. I'm fairly resourceful and if I need to do something, I can usually find some app on the net.

I'm fed up talking to people who want to create another niche social network targeted at people who have turtles as pets (for example). The idea is stale.

The other train of thought which I'm starting to subscribe to, is that you should just build something and target an area with some coverage. The idea is that it will morph into something useful. Well.. I can only hope.. ;-)

Anyway.. what more motivation do you need to go do something?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Evolution of Apple

Saw this interesting picture of Apple's evolution of products.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Google and Facebook

Although I'm on the facebook platform, I'm starting to like it less and less.

I just read on forbes how Zuckerberg was in NY pimping his advertising platforms. I'm not entirely clear, but it doesn't look good for independent developers that create applications on facebook.

It sounds like a "Facebook Advertiser" is going to have their branded applications all over the place, while indie developers are left in the cold.
If a small application developer is under the illusion that he can win a fight with a big-brand widget, that’s a bad plan, says Gerd Leonhard, chief executive of Sonific, which recently launched a music widget on Facebook.

“Facebook is the place where you cut your teeth and see if you have value on lots of networks and platforms,” he says. “If you want to be number one you’ll be hurt by this development. Facebook is cool and everything, but don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”


I've started to look at OpenSocial, the timebomb Google hopes will knock Facebook of their pedestal.

My initial impression wasn't that great. Mostly.. meh. It wasn't the whizz-bang, socket-to-me punch I have come to expect from MountainView. It may grow on me, but I'll reserve my excitement till it bears fruit.

Tim O'Reilly wrote a nice piece called 'It's the data, stupid'.

He has a great example:
Imagine what would have happened to Google maps if instead of supporting mashups, they had built a framework that allowed developers to create mapping applications across Microsoft, Yahoo! and Google as a way of competing with MapQuest. Boring! That's the equivalent of what they've announced here.

I have to agree with him that data mobility is key. It's great for developers that their applications can now run on platform-x and platform-y, but it doesn't look like they will have access to the same data. Not that great for users.

It's made me contemplate creating a microformat based social network, that goes against the trend of creating closely guarded silo's of data. Hmmm..

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Wow.. just felt my first earthquake in the SF Bay area! Magnitude 5.6 and lasted about 10 seconds!

Click the photo below for a better picture.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Time to move on.

I've decided that it's time to move on from my current work place onto something different. Being employee #6, it's been great to see how the company has grown... but it's time to try something different.

I've always been fascinated by the mobile space. Think 5-10 years to the future. Will desktop computers still be the main access point for connection to the internet? Compare the number of cellphones in the world verses the number of computers.

My bet is that mobile phones/fit-in-your-pocket internet devices will become more powerful and be *the* preferred way to access our content. With the iPhone and the potentials that it brings, we are starting to see a light out of the stagnation that has been the cell phone industry. I lay the blame mostly on the carriers who want to protect their revenue streams, rather than the exceeding slow technology innovation in the US mobile space. Do you see the phones they have in Europe?

I'm very excited to have accepted a position at mywaves.com. They stream video content onto mobile phones and are very good at doing it. 2M users and 10-15K sign up every day! A very exciting and hot space.

I will also be leaving Java behind and moving full time to Ruby-Rails. When I was doing C/C++, I fought so hard to convince people that the future was Java. I have the same feeling now with Ruby. Java has lots of life and be useful for some time, but I feel its use will become more and more diminished going forward. eg. What technologies are startups using? is it Java? its mostly PHP/Ruby-Rails/Python.

I've been doing more and more development (on the side) in Ruby-Rails and its just easier to get results. It's still a little rough at the moment, but do you remember Java 1.0beta ? :) Look how far things have come. My predications is that the trend will go more towards dynamically typed languages and Java will be regarded as C++ is now.

Anyways.. wish me luck.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Botnets top world's top supercomputers!

I chucked when I read this.

It says that the number of comprised Windows computers that are under Storm Worm control, has more raw distributed computing power than the top supercomputers!

It's really a shame that they are being used to send continuous spam.. think of the things that could be solved if used more constructively.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Dynamo, Highly Available Key-value Store from Amazon

This week I went to the geekSessions meetup which was titled 'Designing Beyond the Database'. It was fairly interesting to hear from real companies about the limitations of Relational Databases (for them) and how they've all moved to implementing their own hash to disk mechanisms. Hadoop was mentioned regularly.

I've had a rough idea on how Amazons S3 works, but Werner Vogels (CTO Amazon.. very cool guy imho) talks about a paper they will be releasing about Amazon Dynamo:

.."Dynamo, a highly available key-value storage system that some of Amazon’s core services use to provide an “always-on” experience....

"..Amazon has developed a number of storage technologies, of which the Amazon Simple Storage Service (also available outside of Amazon and known as Amazon S3), is probably the best known. This paper presents the design and implementation of Dynamo, another highly available and scalable distributed data store built for Amazon’s platform. Dynamo is used to manage the state of services that have very high reliability requirements and need tight control over the tradeoffs between availability, consistency, cost-effectiveness and performance."

Some nice reading if your into this stuff! :)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Rainbow table attacks

There's a lot of chat on the ether about Rainbow table cracking.

What is this? Essentially it's a huge text file of precomputed hashes for every (or a LOT) combination of characters.

eg Fgpyyih804423 can be cracked in 160 seconds! :)

Of course, this takes space. From 400MB to 8.7G. That doesn't sound a lot nowadays does it? that why people are starting to get concerned.

It takes a lot of time to generate these, but once they are out there... and you can download them and not to take the compute hit... hmmm..

Now is the time to start thinking about how you are storing your passwords. Your an idiot (yes you are) if it's plaintext in the dbase. Using a salt is very important and can minize the effectiveness of these type of attack. Using MD5 as a hashing algorithm isn't that great as its fast. Fast helps the cracker.. Blowfish is preferable.

Anyways.. heres a link explaining the attack and another very interesting one from a security bloke.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Equity Maths

Trying to understand how VC funding changes your percentage of a company can be confusing. Fortunately Paul Buchheit comes to the rescue.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

BarCamp 2007

Last weekend I attended BarCamp and it was fun to mix with my own kind.. i.e developers in the web2.0 space.

Some highlights for me was the session on DataGrids which was about using a large number of servers to solve problems (open source version of google) and Microformats, which was about trying to create a more semantic web.

There were a few people trying to pimp their companies which was a little annoying.. but what can you do?

There are pictures in Wired as well as flickr. Here I am..

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Amazons EC2 and S3

I'm looking into using EC2 and S3 for my side projects and for the price they seem like good value.

The setup I'm thinking is a RoR server talking to MySQL. I am concerned about the lack of persistence for EC2.

What happens is your disk gets wiped if your EC2 instance ever crashes. There doesn't seem to be an easy solution for this. There's lots of articles about replicating the database between two instances and taking regular backups and dumping them on S3, but in trying to keep up with my philosophy of KISS.. this is a pain.

I found this article if your interested about it. Heres the main amazon site.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

MacOSX applications for web development

If you're just starting out web development on the Mac, heres a link with the top applications that you might want to consider.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Facebook creating their own search engine

Interesting post by Aditya Agarwal about how facebook created their own search engine. Facebook is a closed system and not spidered by google with 30 millions users wanting search.

What they did was spider their own site and created a reverse-index.

Heres some staggering facts:

- Over 600 million searches per month.
- Approximately 1 terabyte of in-memory data.
- Average search query time of less than 100ms.

The results are more relevant because its based on your social graph distance. ie People you know are more relevant.

Nicely done.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Fast-Flux Service Networks

Here's a link to a very interesting explanation of fast-flux services networks. This is the next level beyond spam bots.

They use revolving dns entries and nameservers (to avoid detection) and hit proxy zombie machine for content. These zombies in turn pull their content from some other machine!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Ted vids

Although I was familiar with TED, I didn't realize they post their videos.

Go check them out. Lots of good stuff.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Web frameworks compared.

Nice video from Nasa comparing the J2EE, Rails, Zope, Turbo Gears and DJango web frameworks.

Conclusion? Java sucks for webapps because it doesn't allow for quick turnarounds for the UI. If you really want to create webapps your going to have to learn a new language.

I have to agree here. Using Java/Hibernate and XML for configuration starts to get tiring after a while.

All my home projects are now in Rails and ruby isn't exactly rocket science.

iPhone - The Second coming

Well the iPhone has finally arrived. I went to my local Apple store just before midnight to check it out and it was surprisingly busy. I was fortunate that I didn't have to wait to get my mitts on it. :)

Of course I loved it to bits. You can really see how things will change in the future. Google maps was cool. Safari and web browsing was pleasant. (Not sure if I was on Edge or Wifi). The pinch zoom effect was intuitive.. but the virtual keyboard will take some time to get the hang of.

I've always been less than impressed by the mobile phones currently out there. They all seem to have mostly the same functionality but somehow haphazardly bolted together. They mostly have web browsers, music players and applications, but how many of these features are actually used?

I remember playing with my wifes Samsung i730. It had bluetooth, wifi and the so-called fast EV-DO network. Firstly it had windows mobile (or whatever they call it now) running on it, which was clunky as always. The phone had buttons *ALL* over the side. Just the act of picking it up, caused you to press several buttons which changed the volume and turned things on and off. I refused to use it because of this.

Apple again has found that people want advanced features but in a simplistic innovative way. Kudos.

Monday, May 14, 2007

First kiss

My first computer I used was the TRS 80 MODEL III. I was 11 years old and knew immediately how I wanted to spend my life. We used to go after school to the special room which had computers, to play video games. Mostly a space invaders clone and a multi-user tron game.

I got board relatively quickly and wanted to know how it all worked and so started trying to make my own. I started in BASIC but found it too slow for games and progressed to Z80 machine code. Since I didn't have an assembler, I had to type the hex codes by hand. *sigh*

Looking at the specs it was ridiculous underpowered (compared to today). 16K of RAM 2MHz CPU (Zilog Z80 to those that are interested).

That was 26 years ago. I have no doubt that I will look back in 26 years time and smirk of what I had to do in 2007..

Let me know in the comments what you started on.

Friday, May 11, 2007

SteveJ answers questions

SJ answers questions at the recent shareholders meeting. I find it interesting that he said that selling Tiger as a low cost option to 3rd World countries (while everyone else would be on Leopard) was an option.  

I found it disturbing about the reports that MSFT is trying to install windows on the OLPC.  SJ wanted to give OSX away for that platform but they declined

Anything that gets OSX out-there is a good thing.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Just a number..

What do you think is this number: 09-f9-11-02-9d-74-e3-5b-d8-41-56-c5-63-56-88-c0 ?

Some strange satanic chant that will bring about Armageddon? errrrrh.. no.. Well the MPAA think it just might.

You might have noticed that digg.com has *EXPLODED* with lots of stories about this number.

What is this number? Its the HD DVD encryption key is what it is. The MPAA are going after people who post it with cease and desist letters... They claim that this number is their intellectual property! huh??

Wikipedia locked out (password protected) the page with the number. Digg followed.
They initially started deleting all the stories that contained this number. This caused such an uproar, that hundreds of digg users started submitting stories over and over again. Heres a picture of the front page. After consideration they decided to tough it out and let the stories be posted.

What next? Is Microsoft going to claim they own the intellectual property of the number 7 and that you will need to remove it from your keyboard?


Post about this number on your blog. Stop this lunancy.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Eye of the beholder

Plato said "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder".

It's sometimes hard to appreciate art. People have such different tastes. Everyone has an opinion of what art is and usually more passionately, what it is NOT.

Landscape yes.. bucket of paint thrown at a canvas no. I try and be a little open minded.

I generally lean towards more contemporary art. You know like a tonne of rotting carrots strewed over a grand piano.. :)

Most people I talk to don't like it or say they "don't get it". I think thats a cop-out. People are used to passively absorbing what the TV blares out. They don't want to think. Clear your mind and see how it makes you feel.

I remember seeing an art piece once (I think in Chicago) which consisted of a sofa made of raw steak. Man did that cause a reaction! For those that do not know.. I'm a vegetarian! :)

I see art in technology, thats why I prefer apple products. You can tell that some serious creative thought has been applied. Its inspires me to do the same. It's probably why I'm so passionate about technology.

In any case, I saw this piece about paper sculptures. Yeah..yeah.. I can hear you saying 'whatever'.. but its really quite fascinating.. It obviously took a *long* time to make and I think I partially like it for that very reason. To put that much effort really shows something that I just can't quantify.

Anyhoo.. the final question that came to mind after seeing all of this was.. you guessed it.. "How many paper cuts did he get?!!" ;-)

Remembering that I'll be dead soon..

Steve Jobs quote:

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.

Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

Found an interesting posting: 10 Golden Lessons From Steve Jobs.

Things to contemplate.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


I've been watching a google tech video about Dasher, which is described as an efficient text entry system and I think its has potential.

The video describes how keyboards have very limited movement (each letter is effectively boolean - up or down) while you finger has around 14 degrees of movement, making them very inefficient match.

Mobile devices (cell-phones/PDAs) generally have to deal with this trade-offs when determining the type of text input systems they implement. Full qwerty support makes the device larger than desired; using multiple letters on one key (typically found on cell-phones) irratating to use or using a gesture system (Palms graffiti), is small but effectively you need to learn a new way to write.

Dasher seems to address all this with word predictions. All this with a simple continuous one finger gesture or an eye-tracker version.

For those with a disability, I can see this a huge step in the right direction.

the download link. Go check it out.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Eye trickery

I have no idea how this works, but its NOT an animated gif.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Apple at NAB

Apple is at NAB again this year and unveiled final cut server and final cut studio.

Apple have a setup with 2 demo theaters, lots of demo kiosks and a screaming octo-core bad-boy Macs Pros.

They also have a fairy impressive 40 Xserve RAID equipped media SAN. Yeah baby!

More pics here.

Monday, April 16, 2007

dodgeball on the dead-pool?

How long do you think before Google puts a bullet in the head of Dodgeball?

The 'net has been buzzing about how the founders (Dennis Crowley and Alex Rainert) of dodgeball (which got acquired by google nearing two years ago) have quit google. They say that they were fed up of not getting enough resources from google to make dodgeball the best it could be.

Here's a 6 month, page views graph comparison between Twitter and Dodgeball. Twitter has exploding!

This is a little sad. Dodgeball had potential. I'm not sure how the company can continue without employee #1 and #2.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Red5 recruitment tactic

Red5 is a game studio thats packed with ex-Blizzard staff, decided they wanted the recruit the best people in the industry.

How do you think they went about doing this? Hired a crappy recruitment firm? Post a few ads on craigslist? Errhhh.. no.. they created truly creative personalized requests.

Heres the story from Red5's perspective. Heres from a recipient.

They got a 100% response rate, well above the normal 2% you can expect.


Friday, April 13, 2007

Google buys Doubleclick

Crikey! Google buys DoubleClick for $3.1B! and in cash!

I bet Microsoft and Yahoo are really annoyed.

Yeah.. MSFT has lost its teeth (from previous article). Tell me you aren't scared of Google.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Microsoft is dead.

Paul Graham has caused a nice little ripple because of his article labeled 'Microsoft is Dead'. He even wrote a follow up article to clarify his position because people got so upset. Have any of these people who are crying actually RTFA??

First of, I'm a big fan of his essays, they usually make a lot of sense.

I heard him speak recently in startup school. He gave the speech of Why to Not Not Start a Startup. It was educational, funny and motivational. I wanted to get out my macbook and start changing the world right there and then! :)

He's not a stupid guy, read between the lines. Microsoft isn't dead. It's not going to run out of money. Visual Basic will still be around, don't you worry!! :)

He's saying that the decline has started. MSFT have lost their teeth.

People are more scared of Google than the 800 pound gorilla that is Microsoft. MSFT doesn't innovate. They just copy 'n paste and are successful because of a very effective marketing department. Do the cool-kids developers that want to go change the world go work at MSFT? I don't think so. Even Scoble is going on a rant about MSFT. He says:
"This isn’t Netscape you’re talking trash to, Steve. Have you really studied Google? It doesn’t sound like you have.

Again, Microsofties, you’d be better served not to talk trash until you have something YOU CAN SHIP!"

Google is knocking out cool innovate things all over the place. Agreed they are only making money on one thing (and they are making a lot of it) but they are changing the industry. How is MSFT doing that?

I've read that when startups try and go get VC money the standard question is 'If Google enters this space how are you going to compete?'.

That's a hard question to answer.

Monday, April 09, 2007


Michael Arrington from Techcrunch (a great blog of whats HOT in the valley that a LOT of people read here) decided to take a look at what we do and they really liked what we offer.

I still work for Powerreviews, but we have a just released a reviews-shopping portal site called.. drum-roll.. Buzzillions !

Techcrunch says:
"PowerReviews is willing to give away their software to merchants, but in return PowerReviews have the right to aggregate that review data and present it on their own consumer facing review site, Buzzillions.

Here’s the brilliance of the PowerReviews model. They then turn around and sell traffic from Buzzillions right back to their merchant network, on a CPC or CPA basis. I don’t believe I’ve come across a startup before now that manages to use data, created at a partner site, to generate traffic that they then sell right back to the partner."

This is ultimately what we do (and for free) and our merchants LOVE us because of this. We provide review content on their site and they WANT us to be successfull on Buzzillions as we drive good-quality traffic towards them.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Mac Pro

Apple releases a Big Bad Boy.

Meet the latest addition to the Mac Pro family: The world’s first 3.0GHz, 8-core Intel Xeon-based Mac Pro. Consider the bar officially raised.

This box is smoking. These Xeon's really fly.

Monday, April 02, 2007

DotNet developer comments on Apple Service.

I read an interesting post from Kevin Hoffman about his experience in dealing with Apple.

He was having some problems extending some example code and emailed Apple for some help.

They responded with help in reproducing his problem, gave some optimization tips and treated him like a real person.

I'm sure that there's lots of cases where Apple is like a black hole, but I like to think that the 'cult-of-the-apple' is because of this more human approach.

Maybe thats a lesson to us all.


CNNMoney gives the startup I'm working for a mention today. An interesting read.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Mailinator architecture

Paul Tyma (who now works at google) talks about the architecture of Mailinator. I love its simple design.. its fundamentally a stripped down java SMTP server which holds all the emails in memory, so disk IO is not a problem.

He says that 99% of emails received are not read, so he compresses them to reduce the memory footprint; to limit spam an aged hashmap is used based on IP and subjects. He obvious used the KISS approach... nice.

Scoble on Joel

Scoble recently interviewed Joel (from Joel-on-Software) about what its like running a software company.

I can definitely agree with some of the points Joel is making. Once companies get VC money, their can be a tendancy to splurge. The message I hear repeatedly from entrepreneurs that have been successful is about being frugal.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

time for school

Went all day to startup school in Palo Alto. It was a lotta fun meeting up with fellow tech-heads/entrepreneurs.

They had some really good speakers who were both educational (on the most part) and humourous. Heres a nice summary.

On one hand, I'm completely drained (it was a long day) and the other completely motivated to start creating.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Reac Table

Reac Table, an explanation of an new audio electronic instrument.

A very cool demo is here . I love the strangeness of the UI, not sure how intuitive it is. I guess the explorative aspect of it generates creativity.

Maybe this is the future of DJs. Hmm..

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Power desktop

People are complaining about information overload and the amount of electronic content they are starting to accumulate.

I often think how user-interfaces are going to be like 5 or even 10 years from now. The last 10 years have been remarkable. I remember using Microsoft Windows 2 and thinking it was cool. Well I was using MSDOS at the time.

Using macosx now, its soo far ahead of what I thought would happen.

10 years from now, could we have something like this virtual desk?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Cocoa development

I've been toying with cocoa on and off for ages but couldn't find anything that I really needed to implement. (Necessity is the best learning tool they say.)

This has got been intrigued. Every week an application is posted. You have to figure out the functionality and implement it. Source code follows a week later.

Maybe this will provide me the motivation to keep going.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Not putting up with crap tech

I have to admit I mostly think like this recent blog posting about steve jobs.

That extra bit that you do really-really does make a difference.

Maybe technology is a zen experience for me..


You've probably already heard about the iPhone. Gizmodo created a nice specs page. Time also is worth readling.

IMHO it truely is a fine piece of technology. At the moment I have a crappy phone (pay as you go virgin mobile) as the technology out there is just crap. The treos are reasonably, but the technology is ancient. I have the Palm Tungsten-C with wifi and it crashes 80% of the time when connecting. I've been looking at the Palm Lifedrive to organize my life but everyone complains how terrible it is.

Palm keeps promising the new version of their opsys based on linux. I'm excited about it but I've been waiting for this for the last 3 years.

My Mrs has the Samsung i730 which is a fairly advanced Windows phone. It has bluetooth *and* wifi yet the Windows UI is a joke that I can't tolerate using.

I'm an apple fanboy.. I admit it.. but you can't say that this isn't a phone done right? Virtual interfaces are where things are going.

Thinking back.. I bought the 2nd generaion iPod. This was a time when only apple folk knew what it was all about. It cost a fair bit but I loved it. The standard video iPod is soo far ahead of my old one its not funny anymore.

I look forward to how this will progress and how it will cause telecom and phone makers to shape up.

A lot of people have complained about it being tied to Cingular. What do you expect them to do? Verizon and the other telecoms routinely disable advanced hardware features so they can knicke-and-dime you. WTF?? You want to charge me $2 for what?? Paying for wallpaper and ringtones are a joke. Apple will not let itself be blackmailed like this.

I'm also excited about it running OSX. Yes.. they haven't said whether you can create applications for it.. but common.. do you really think that Apple won't let people improve the whole experience?

Think small steps..

Silicon Valley Tech Meetup presentation

We did a presentation at the Silicon Valley Tech Meetup last Tuesday and to the people I talked to, it was quite positive.

Rafe Needleman mentions us on his blog with the very nice title 'PowerReviews: Cleverest user reviews site so far'.

The Beta is open. Please go check it out.