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My conference schedule for the rest of 2008

April 3, 2008 3 comments

A few of you have been asking when/where I’ll be this year, conference-wise. Since Audrey was born, I’ve tried to keep my travel and speaking gigs to a bare minimum so I could help with my three kids and keep my wife sane. If you’d like me to speak or otherwise help out your conference this year, being local (Silicon Valley) is almost your only bet, I’m afraid. :(

That being said, there are a few things that are ‘must attend’ for me, and a few local California shows, too. I’m sorry if I had to turn down your conference this year, but please ask again in future years – especially those of you with foreign events. :)

Here’s what’s on my calendar so far:

I wish I could go to OSCON this year, and wish I could have gone to ETech, too, but I just can’t & couldn’t.

And while I have your attention, I’d just like the mourn the death of the Web 2.0 Summit for me. I’ve enjoyed going all the previous years, but I just really didn’t get anything out of it last year. It’s turned into a massively popular event, but one that’s mobbed with VCs and bankers – almost no startups or entrepreneurs to be found. I have nothing against VCs or bankers, but that’s just not why I attended. So I think I’ll pass this year. Might come up to the city to hang out or get lunch, though, so ping me if you’re in town then.

If you are an entrepreneur with a hot startup, I suspect TechCrunch50 is going to be the place to be this year, btw. Get your demos ready!

UPDATE:  Jesse just posted a 20% discount code in the comments:  vel08js  Thanks Jesse!

Tripit totally rocks.

March 20, 2008 6 comments

I’ve been telling everyone I know just how great Tripit is, but realized I hadn’t told all of my readers.

It’s the most useful web service I’ve seen in years.  It’s drop-dead easy to use (just forward your email confirmations) and just plain works.  I’m learning a lot about ease-of-use from these guys, and  I can’t imagine traveling without it anymore.

If you haven’t checked it out, go.  Now.

Big privacy changes at SmugMug

February 8, 2008 15 comments

I told you we’d listen.

After Philipp brought the issue up, we carefully listened to both our current customers and our potential would-be customers. Our current customers were a mixed bag. Luckily, most didn’t care one way or the other. Of those who did care, many didn’t want this change. :( But it was clear that lots of potential customers did. And as I said in my initial post, “Philipp is absolutely right.”

So we fixed the problem.

We made two big mistakes with this situation, one technical and one around setting user expectations. I was dumb for using autoincrement IDs alone, and we were dumb for calling the gallery setting ‘Private’ when that wasn’t clear enough. “Private” means different things to different people, and we should have known better. Both of these things, I believe, have now been remedied.

Here are the gory details and we have a dgrin thread with more:

  • Your new galleries, photos, and videos are more private, and secure, than ever before.
  • GUIDs did turn out to be both messy and expensive, as I thought they would be. We opted not to go that route.
  • Instead, we created Keys for galleries and photos/videos and appended them to the relevant URLs. Kudos to Barnabus for planting this seed.
  • The keys are made of 57 possible alphanumeric characters, and are 5 characters long, making the search space 57^5, or 601,692,057, strong. In theory, still guessable, but in practice, prohibitively expensive/difficult to do. Not to mention the fact that you have all the usual additional security and privacy settings you can turn on.
  • Yes, this made our permalinks uglier. No, we’re not happy about it. But we think the tradeoff is worth it.
  • Yes, older galleries and photos/videos are grandfathered. Their old URLs without the Keys still work. All new photos/videos, as well as old photos/videos inside of new galleries, require Keys to access. Same with new galleries.
  • If you don’t want your older stuff grandfathered, simply create a new gallery and move your photos & videos from your old gallery into the new one. Key’d links will instantly be required for access (if you change your mind, just move them back and they’ll be re-grandfathered). Alternatively, you can set a password and turn off external links.
  • The privacy options when creating a gallery and changing a gallery’s setting now use “Public” and “Unlisted” rather than “Public” and “Private” to better explain the difference and match customer expectations.
  • When creating a new gallery, there’s a new option called “Lock it down” that’ll take things a step further and set all the right privacy *and* security settings to prevent unwanted access.
  • This is a big, complicated release, so there will likely be bugs and bumps along the way. Let us know if you find any and I promise we’ll fix them.

I’m sorry this change took so long to ship. We were actually in testing last Thursday, January 31st, but then I was traveling from Friday to Wednesday, so we had to put it off. Thanks for your patience while we thought about the problem, discussed it with our community, and put together an update.

Special thanks to our customers and friends who weighed in with lots of detail both about the problem and the implementation, and Philipp for being so passionate and firm about the situation.

We’d love to hear your thoughts about this either here in the comments or over on this dgrin thread.

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
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