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SmugMug & DataPortability.org

January 23, 2008 6 comments

I’ve been getting a little flack for not joining DataPortability.org and want to set the record straight:

  • SmugMug has believed since the beginning that your photos and metatdata are yours to do with what you will. We view them as being on loan to us for safekeeping, and we take that role very seriously.
  • SmugMug has emailed DataPortability to see about joining, contributing, whatever. No response. Don’t ask me why – ask them. I imagine they’re busy.
  • SmugMug already supports OpenID (and better support is coming), XFN & FOAF, RSS, Atom & KML, and has a rich API to both store and retrieve your data.
  • We’re committed to all of the ideals that DataPortability.org is pushing, and hope to see this stuff become the rule, rather than the exception.

While I’m on my soapbox, I think it’s important to note that many of the participants in the DataPortability project have been making their data portable for many years. I’m not sure why the media is trumpeting each new company that joins as if it’s just gotten religion, but companies like Flickr and SixApart (and us) have been doing more than talking about this for a long time. Give credit where credit is due.

Anyway, whenever we figure out how we can contribute, we will. We love the idea of our customers’ data being portable. It’s the right thing to do.

More on MySQL & Sun

January 16, 2008 5 comments

Laura Thomson has an interesting post about the MySQL acquisition. And I think it really highlights a fundamental disconnect that some companies built on providing open source applications for enterprises face:

Their means of getting revenue are at odds with their customers’ needs.

I’m a paying MySQL Enterprise Platinum customer, and I’m seriously considering not renewing for another year if Laura’s thoughts are on target. In a nutshell, here’s why:

I would pay more for a version of MySQL that has Yasufumi Kinoshita and Google’s patches than I would pay for a version without.

In fact, as I mentioned already, I probably wouldn’t pay for MySQL as it stands today. I paid for it in the hopes that, as a paying customer, my feedback that these patches (and others like them) are vital would be listened to. Thus far, it hasn’t.

I could care less about MySQL’s desire to keep their released, supported software dual-licensed (commercial and GPL). I don’t consider our Enterprise subscription to be for the software – mentally, I’m paying for service and support. And the support (fixing InnoDB’s concurrency problems) is increasingly at odds with the business (releasing a commerical binary-only Enterprise release). But they’re on a collision course – I’m not the only one who will stop paying for it, resulting in damage to MySQL’s business.

I believe the right (and admittedly scary) thing to do is provide paid support for the GPL’d version and move the ball forward – accept community patches that fix major problems.

You can bet that I’ll be telling Sun this, over and over again. Since they have a history of listening, I’m optimistic.

(BTW, this problem isn’t unique to MySQL. Red Hat has the same dilemma – and they won’t take my money, no matter how hard I try to throw it their way)

Categories: business, datacenter, web 2.0

Sun acquires MySQL!

January 16, 2008 10 comments

Remember when I said Sun was a company that listened? They sure do.

Maybe MySQL will finally start fixing all the performance/concurrency issues with InnoDB (basically, InnoDB’s threading and concurrency aren’t working well with modern multi-core CPUs). Google’s had some fabulous patches for awhile, and the brilliant Yasufumi Kinoshita does as well, but they don’t seem to be making their way into MySQL anytime soon.

Personally, I worry they’re focused too much on Falcon and not enough on InnoDB – but luckily Sun listens, so that may change. :)

Categories: business, datacenter, web 2.0

SmugMug on the front page of the LA Times!

December 24, 2007 10 comments

SmugMug isn’t your normal Silicon Valley startup. We do everything differently. And Jessica Guynn’s Column One article on the front page of the LA Times this morning captures our quirky nature perfectly. If you want a glimpse into our mad, wonderful world, head on over there for a great read.

Special thanks to Terry Chay and Stan Chudnovsky for introducing Jessica and making sure I followed up with her. :)

And an extra special thanks to all of our customers who’ve become part of the family and made SmugMug the company it is today. You’re the best!

Categories: business, family, smugmug

I get SLAs now. Duh.

October 11, 2007 5 comments

Ok, so I guess I’m a total n00b. In hindsight, SLAs make a lot of sense after all. The whole point isn’t to compensate SmugMug for our loss, it’s to make it unprofitable for the service provider to keep making the same mistakes.

In other words, let’s say Amazon’s margins on S3 are 15%. (I have no data, I’m just picking that number out of the air). If Amazon has a serious problem during a month, they have to cough up 25% to all their customers. In other words, they lose 10% instead of make 15%.

That’s pretty major incentive – and it now totally makes sense why SLAs are so highly valued.

Carry on.

Categories: amazon, business, datacenter

SmugMug supports XFN & FOAF

September 21, 2007 4 comments

Read over on O’Reilly Radar about David Recordon’s post at Six Apart entitled We Are Opening the Social Graph. He talks about the emerging tools and technology to allow shared social graphs, like OpenID, XFN, FOAF, and others.

Given that Thursday night is ‘Release Night’ at SmugMug and I had a few minutes to kill, I felt inspired and whipped up XFN and FOAF support to compliment the partial OpenID support SmugMug already has. (I apologize for not finishing our OpenID implementation yet, but I’m finding OpenID 2.0 to be a complete disaster and find myself at a loss as to what to do. Anyway, I digress…).

I’m absolutely positive we’re barely scratching the surface, and people like David will set me straight, but at least we’re making forward progress – 150K SmugMug accounts now have auto-discoverable FOAF, embedded XFN, and are OpenID endpoints.

What does this mean for you? It means, hopefully, that SmugMug can play nicely with other social applications on the web. Your network of friends & family is now published in machine-readable formats so that other networks can do intelligent things with that data. How exactly this will happen remains to be seen, but there are lots of bright people thinking about it, so hopefully it’ll happen.

At the very least, when the Semantic Web actually works in the year 2022, SmugMug will be ready. :)

UPDATE: I should have mentioned that these technologies do properly obey your SmugIslands and other related privacy settings to protect you should you not want to share this information.

Arr! Smuggle yer booty outta Sony ImageStation!

September 19, 2007 8 comments

Aye, ye be hearin’ right: Sony ImageStation be shutting down, the latest in a long line of free photo sharing sites to make for port and haul down their Jolly Roger. Back when I was just a young deckhand and the Dread Ship SmugMug was barely a gleam in me eye, Sony ImageStation was one of the heavy hitters in these seas, and the thought of running up against them on the high seas in the dead of night did shiver me timbers.

Things be different now, with the Dread Ship SmugMug hailed in all the seas of the living and the dead as the greatest pirate ship to have ever set sail. Once mighty cap’n Sony has hung up his hook for all time. But in a last dastardly act, that scurvy dog tried to foist off all yer booty onto Shutterfly, a true land lubber if ever I saw one.

SmuggLr - Transfer your photos from Flickr and ImageStation to SmugMug

If ye prefer to sail the high seas with the rest of us honorable scum, though, ye’re not outta luck! A new beta version of SmuggLr adds ImageStation support in addition to the great Flickr support it’s had for quite some time. Simply install the free Firefox extension (instructions here) and a few glugs o’ grog later, yer booty’ll be safe inside SmugMug’s holds, protected and supported by the best o’ me hearties on deck. Best of all? Enter the secret password ImageStation to receive a 50% discount on yer first year’s passage.

Don MacAskill as Pirate Captain of the Dread Ship SmugMug

As ye can probably tell from me portrait, the Dread Ship SmugMug and her crew are quite fond of grog, booty, and International Talk Like A Pirate Day. If ye be needin’ help from one o’ the deckhands, be sure to throw an ‘Arrr’ or ‘Ahoy’ their way. Oh, and one o’ the slaves in our brig lays tale that the Black Ship Flickr be flying the Jolly Roger particularly high today as well. I raise a jug of grog in their honor, and the honor of all those who plunder the high seas.

Yo-ho!

Categories: business, smugmug

Where's the Mac?

August 8, 2007 108 comments

Have you been to a tech conference lately? They’re dominated, absolutely dominated, by MacBooks and MacBook Pros. Their employers are happy to buy them because they’re fast, reliable and productive. I know I love mine. But ask any of those happy MacBook-toting people what they have on their desks at work, and they’ll admit to having a Dell.

So I found it interesting that at Apple’s big Mac event yesterday, Apple blew it with the Mac again. Steve fielded some questions about Mac adoption in the workplace, and another about price. But he skirts completely around the issue at hand: Apple has a huge, gaping hole in their desktop lineup. They have an iMac, a Mac mini, and a Mac Pro. But where’s the Mac?

At SmugMug, we’d put a Mac on every employee’s desk tomorrow. So what exactly is a Mac? That’s easy – it’s a Mac Pro with one dual-core Desktop class Intel CPU in it. Two (or four!) Server class dual-core CPUs (Xeons) are overkill both for performance and for budgets. I know – we’ve got some at our office, and I’m writing this on my Mac Pro at home.

Why not just use iMacs? Please. No business is going to buy desktop computers that require you to throw the display out when the CPU/RAM/etc get old. Displays last multiple generations of CPUs, particularly in the workplace.

Why not use Mac minis? Man, I wish! I love the little guys. But our employees, especially those writing code or doing lots of Photoshop work, are more productive with dual-displays. (Dual 30″ displays, if you really want to know). The Mac mini can only drive one, and not even the 30″ models. (You’d think Apple would want to drive sales of those 30″ displays, but I guess not?). So 2 x dual-link DVI is a requirement, and it’s a lot more common than you might think. Been to Google lately?

Also, like many IT departments in this day-and-age of cheap hard disks, we like to do RAID-1 on our employee’s desktops to reduce data loss. Mac OS X does great RAID-1 out-of-the-box, if only there were desktop computers to run it on…

So we need a Mac. Something like $500-1000 cheaper than a Mac Pro, powerful enough for most employees, and flexible enough for most jobs. Perfection – not to mention completing Apple’s lineup.

Oh, and when I talk to those same tech conference attendees (or their bosses!), I hear the same sad story. We’re all forced to head on over to dell.com to fill the void instead – or pony up extra for Mac Pros that we really don’t need.

Guess which option most employers choose. :(

UPDATE: Lots of comments all over the web on this story and how it’s not just for the workplace. Complaints about poor graphics cards in iMac/Mac mini making gaming impossible, people upset that they’d have to throw away their iMac monitor along with the CPU, etc. As a hard-core gamer, I have to agree – the gap is wider than just work machines. I’d rather have a Mac than a Mac Pro at home, too.

Feed readers: Digg this story

Categories: business

The Wall Street Journal is wrong.

July 15, 2007 Comments off

Sorry, I love the WSJ, but it’s true. They claim blogging just turned 10. I’ve written about this before, but here’s the short version:

  • I’ve been blogging since 1995. I wasn’t the first, I was a copycat (the concept of journaling on the web was also obvious). It wasn’t called blogging then but it was the same stuff – semi-regular, dated journal entries at a single location.
  • sTeve ‘sCary’ Gibson may very well be the first paid blogger. He was hired to blog on February 8th, 1997. I believe he started in 1995, too, but you’d have to ask him – his blog has evolved into Shacknews.
  • Blogging, at least in our corner of the world, originated from .plan updates, which we naturally evolved to the web instead.

All of this data is out there, it’s easily researched. So why doesn’t anyone do it?

UPDATE: Found a link to one of my friend’s old archives. Unfortunately, as he notes on there, he’s lost some of his early entries (anything before July 1996), but he began even earlier.

Categories: business, web 2.0

SmugMug on our iPhones!

July 13, 2007 34 comments
SmugMug on iPhone

After camping out in line for iPhones for all of our employees, you knew we were gonna do something fun with it. And we have! After testing a new SmugMug release last night, we saw that Joe Hewitt had posted iUI and I thought it’d be fun to play around. About 30 minutes later, we had SmugMug on our iPhones! Turns out browsing SmugMug on your iPhone is a ton of fun – I can’t put it down.

Currently, you can access and browse your public albums on your iPhone. Simply go to http://YOURNAME.smugmug.com/iphone/ . Here’s an example: http://concours.smugmug.com/iphone/ We have lots more ideas already in the works, so I’m sure you’ll see lots more fun stuff soon. :)

SmugMug on iPhone

There are some fairly neat things about what we’re doing, much of it made far easier by Joe’s excellent iUI:

  • The photos are resized on-the-fly by our servers to perfectly fit the iPhone. They’re gorgeous.
  • Yes, we detect the phone’s orientation (portrait / landscape) and show you the perfect resolution. You can rotate your phone at any time and we’ll seamlessly change to the right sizes.
  • Speed matters. So we only grab 10 of your albums at first, and allow you to bring more in at any time by clicking “more albums…”. Same deal with photos, only we grab 30 of them first, then let you pull more in if you’d like. Even on EDGE, it’s quite fast. And on WiFi, it screams.
  • The UI closely matches other iPhone apps, so it’s fairly familiar to iPhone users.
SmugMug on iPhone

Now, I love my iPhone, but I’ve gotta get on my soapbox a little bit here. Apple really really blew it with developers. I shouldn’t have to hack my way around their browser to build an app which will always be slower and clunkier than a native app. We need a real SDK to build native apps so they can be gorgeous and fast. We would have already built a photo sharing application that would blow your socks off – only we can’t.

Our customers are already telling us how sucky syncing with iPhoto is (I concur), and the fact that we can’t import photos from the web into the photo storage on the phone really sucks. Going the other way is even worse – we have a great camera and an internet-capable phone here, so why can’t I just take a photo and have it magically end up at SmugMug or Flickr or wherever? Braindead.

I apologize the app isn’t as fast or as slick as we would have liked – Apple has us shackled. If you’d like a faster, easier, slicker UI contact Apple and politely ask them to pay attention to their developers.

Thank goodness for Joe Hewitt and iUI. I’m hoping we can start helping out with iUI as we find ways we want to extend it. Here are some of our first thoughts:

  • There is no public variable or method for checking Orientation. It sucks to have to rewrite orientation checking code that already exists in the framework because it’s buried in an anonymous function. A custom event framework where we could just listen for orientation changes would be even better yet.
  • Using window.innerwidth to determine screenwidth for orientation detection was giving us heartburn in some cases where objects were wider than 320px. Instead we had to look at the toolbar which does remain a fixed width (at least in our testing) and proved to be more reliable. Oh, and we call it ‘portrait’ not ‘profile’ :)

Anyway, those of you with iPhones, feel free to play with it and let us know what you think.

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