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Archive for March, 2007

ETech 2007 SmugMug Amazon Slides are Up!

March 30, 2007 16 comments

My slides from ETech 2007 about Amazon’s Web Services, especially S3, are up in PDF form.

Holler if something isn’t clear, but hopefully this’ll give anyone who couldn’t make it some good insight into what works and what doesn’t with S3 here at SmugMug.

Enjoy!

Categories: amazon, business, smugmug, web 2.0

ETech Amazon S3 slides are coming

March 30, 2007 Comments off

I think they’ll be up later today, I’m just trying to put some of my speaking notes into them, too, so you’re not left wondering what each bullet point means.

So subscribe (see the right sidebar) or come back later.

Sorry they’re not up yet! πŸ™‚

UPDATE: They’re up!

Categories: amazon, smugmug

The Enterprise Linux problem

March 23, 2007 36 comments

I was talking with a friend last night about commercial OSes, specifically Linux and Solaris. It dawned on me that those of you in the midst of your own startups would find our experience useful. Sorry I didn’t think about blogging this earlier.

First of all, I love open source. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have a major OS problem and not have access to the source code and a community with access to it as well. I love the idea of building companies on open source and then using the success of that company to give back to the people and the community that made it possible.

There are lots of ways of contributing back, but the low hanging fruit for a tiny company like ours is simply buying service and support from one of the open source players, like MySQL or Red Hat. It’s a win-win, theoretically – they get funding to continue to build and test great software, and you get the service and support you need to grow your business.

We’ve been through a few commercial open-source OS distributions at SmugMug. All the gory details after the jump.

Read more…

Categories: business, smugmug

Amazon S3: Conferences (ETech, Web 2, MIX07)

March 22, 2007 2 comments

ETech is next week, and I’m doing a session called Scalability: Set Amazon’s Servers on Fire, Not Yours. I’m not paid by Amazon or anything (quite the contrary – I’m paying them a lot of money), so this will be a real look at them from someone in-the-trenches. It’ll mostly focus on S3, both business and technical aspects, but I’ll touch on EC2 and some of the others, too. (I had hoped to be using EC2 large-scale by this talk, but ironically, a hardware vendor supply issue is preventing me from rolling out that software). I’ll leave plenty of time for questions, and you can give me some in advance. I will post slides here.

Web 2.0 Expo is coming up, and I’m giving a shorter talk there as one of three speakers on Web-scale Computing. Ditto on slides.

And finally, I just got invited to sit on a “build or buy” panel at MIX07. Since I’ve done both, and ended up with a hybrid approach, I hope I’ll have something intelligent to add. Doubt there are slides for this, but if there’s an audio recording or something, I’ll link to it.

I’m attending, but not speaking at, the MySQL Conference and D (the WSJ uses SmugMug for their D photo sharing, which is cool), too, so if you’re going and want to chat about Amazon or SmugMug, you’ll have to find me in the halls. (I’m definitely a “halls” conference goer, though I lean towards “party” now and then).

As always, if you’re wearing SmugMug gear (you can get some older stuff at CafePress and newer stuff at Zazzle or home-make some if you’re adventurous) at a conference I’m at, I’ll give you a comp’d lifetime Pro account at SmugMug. Just come up and say ‘Hi!’

Oh, yes, and I’ll be Twittering at all of them, assuming Twitter doesn’t collapse under ETech’s load. πŸ™‚

UPDATE: ETech 2007 slides are up.

Categories: business, smugmug

World's First Blogger? How Dumb.

March 20, 2007 10 comments

ZDNet asks a stupid question – “Blogs turn 10 – who’s the father?

Stupid for two reasons: First, blogging is older than 10 years. Second, I doubt anyone could prove who the father was anyway. Like most technology changes, blogging evolved naturally.

How do I know blogging is older than 10 years? Because I was blogging in 1995. We didn’t call it blogging, and it was missing some bells & whistles like RSS feeds, but blogging it was. At a dinner at GDC two weeks ago, I even ran into someone who’d gotten flamed on my blog during 1996. And there were a lot of people blogging before I did it – I was a copycat.

Dave Winer apparently claims to have the longest running blog on the Internet. Sorry, Dave, but that’s just not true – I know my friend sTeve started blogging in 1995 or 1996 with sCary’s Quakeholio (which has changed names, but still remains his). I believe my friends Blue and Redwood did as well. All of their sites have evolved into news-focused sites around video games, not unlike all the so-called “modern” bloggers who are now doing news and commentary, but the point remains – they’ve been blogging longer than 10 years, and so have I. We definitely weren’t the first, either – we didn’t invent the idea.

sTeve may very well have been the first blogger hired for the fact that he blogged, though. Ritual Entertainment hired him on February 8th, 1997, to come be their in-house blogger.

ZDNet got the whole .plan thing right, though – and ironically, much of sCary’s, Blue’s, and my initial posts were just reposts and commentary on id Software’s .plan updates.

But I’m still not sure why we care… ?

Categories: personal

There's something in the water… (We're pregnant!)

March 16, 2007 4 comments

Had our first ultrasound yesterday, saw the heartbeat, we’re in business! My twins don’t know it yet, but they’ll be thrilled. πŸ™‚

That makes 5 SmugMuggers (out of 20) who are pregnant. It’s going to be a busy fall – we’re all within a few months of each other. As Robert Scoble told me yesterday, “There’s something in the water” (he’s expecting a little one of his own in September).

So I apologize in advance if our feature releases get a little sparse this fall – we’ll all be busy changing diapers and burping babies. πŸ™‚

Life is wonderful!

(And is it strange that I announced it first on Twitter before my blog or any emails? I think it is, but I can’t put my finger on why).

Categories: personal

"Truly viral" premium web services?

March 14, 2007 7 comments

The Penny Gap post by First Round Capital that I talked about in my last post got me thinking. He had a provocative statement: “I can’t think of a single premium service that has achieved truly viral distribution.”

As I posted on his blog, I guess it depends on your definition of “truly viral” (and maybe even “premium”, which I took to mean “no free offering”), but there were two mentioned in the comments: Netflix and SmugMug.

Obviously, there’s orders of magnitude difference here, but the point remains. Netflix grew initially much by word-of-mouth using loyal customers and those bright red envelopes of theirs. They’re clearly a massive success, clearly premium, and clearly truly viral.

60-80% of SmugMug subscribers are referrals from other SmugMuggers. There’s a gray area where we don’t have enough data, hence the range, but we think it’s on the high side of that figure. We’ve had >100% growth every year, every customer pays, our subscribers are akin to religious fanatics, and we’ve been profitable since year one. Our marketing budget mostly consists of customer service costs – there’s almost no money spent on traditional marketing. (We view Customer Service, or our Support Heroes as we call them, as a marketing expense. I should blog about that sometime…). By my definition, we qualify.

So that’s two. But surely there are more and I’m just having a brain fart. Can anyone think of any others?

Categories: business, smugmug
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