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Archive for April, 2008

Seattle/Redmond dinner update

April 7, 2008 5 comments

Sitting in the Virgin America part of the SFO International terminal.  Talk about an awesome terminal.  Can’t wait to fly Virgin, too – my first time (hah!).  I doubt anyone on the plane throws down in DOOM the way I do, so I expect a river of tears in the aisle.

Wish I could be at the Google Campfire tonight, cuz the news is awesome, but Microsoft got to me first, so up to the frigid North I go….  Hope this MS stuff is as good as it sounds.

It turns out the Seattle Photography Group is meeting on Wednesday night.  Cool!  So I’m going to that. You should come.  🙂

Then, afterwards, I’m hoping we’ll head out for some food.  If you want to get food afterwards, please leave a comment so we have at least a rough head count.  Attendance at the SPG isn’t mandatory, but I’m sure you’re welcome to come.

On Tuesday, I already have dinner plans, but wouldn’t mind hanging out with some geeks afterwards.  Doubt I’m up for going into Seattle, though, so if you’re in Redmond or Bellevue, holler.

(I’ll try to email everyone who sent emails, commented, and twittered – but if you haven’t heard from me, re-comment because I’m lame)

Freetards ruining the web?

April 4, 2008 7 comments
New $20 bills - Proof that money does grow on trees. by Kirk Tanner

photo by: Kirk Tanner

Hardly.

Hank Williams over at Silicon Alley Insider has a guest post up about how VCs are ruining the online tech economy by fueling free services, wrecking it for small and/or premium services. Matthew Ingram has a response out that resonates much more closely with how I feel.

First of all, SmugMug is living proof that you can make it as a premium service. Second, I think you’d be hard pressed to name a market where there isn’t stratification. Cars, airlines, music players, shoes – you name it, there are premium brands and there are commodity brands. On the web, commodity = free. That’s just how the game is played.

There are a lot of reasons why it makes sense for us not to be free, but perhaps my favorite is: We’re forced to hone our business. If we do don’t do it right, we don’t eat. Doing it right becomes priority #1 rather than growth.

There are quite a few reasons I love that there are *lots* of free sites with deep pockets in our space, too:

  • Free training. Lots of our customers go chew up customer service dollars somewhere else first, learning the basics of how to upload, share, etc, before coming to us. By the time they get to us, they know the ropes and getting up to speed is easy.
  • They’ve seen how bad it is elsewhere. By comparison, our product looks amazing. The ‘Wow factor’ is huge.
  • Coattails marketing. We don’t have to spend a lot of money raising awareness of the photo sharing concept – other, bigger companies are doing it for us.
  • Keeps us on our toes. As if our customers weren’t enough to keep us nimble, big deep-pocketed competitors surround us on all sides. Try slowing down and we die.

There is one big nasty downside, though, that really gets me. Every time a free site dies (and they’re dropping like flies), some of those burned customers get gunshy. Sure, we pick up lots of refugees, but there are some people who just get turned off by all photo sharing sites. They lost their priceless photos, afterall. That sucks. 😦

With the market downturn, that last point really scares me. If we really do have another bubble burst in the web space (and I predict we will), free photo sharing sites are going to be devastated.

I just hope they don’t burn an entire generation.

UPDATE: I found our problem! We don’t have a FreeTardis! I’m gonna get one.

Geek Dinner in Redmond, WA on April 9th?

April 4, 2008 13 comments
Seattle Skyline by Shay Stephens

photo by: Shay Stephens

I’ll be up in Redmond (first time!) for business next week (sorry sweetie!), and have no plans Wednesday evening, the 9th. Anyone wanna get some food, play some games, or just hang out?

Post in the comments.

Categories: personal Tags: , ,

Nasty Bug: Safari doesn't cache stuff.

April 4, 2008 30 comments
Strolling - Nairobi State Park by Simon Barnes

photo by: Simon Barnes

I swear I’m not making this up.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I found it. Safari is one of our favorite browsers, and we love their work on standards compliance and speed, particularly JavaScript, but this particular bug is really driving us crazy. I’ve logged it with Apple (#5786274), and a fix is promised, but in case you’re getting hit with this and are as baffled as I was, here are the details:

  • If your computer has less than 1GB of RAM, Safari fails to cache items larger than 104,857 bytes.
  • If your computer has more than 1GB of RAM, Safari failes to cache items larger than 209,715 bytes.
  • JPEGs, at least, are temporarily cached in RAM. Whew. But upon browser restart, you’ll see they didn’t make it to the disk cache, so you have to get them again.
  • Other objects, like SWFs or videos, though, don’t even make it to the RAM cache, let alone disk. Load the same SWF back-to-back, and you’ve just transfered the bytes twice. Ugh.

Very easy to reproduce yourself from the comfort of your own home, so go for it. Just fire up HTTP Scoop or Wireshark or tail your server’s HTTP logs and start hitting stuff. Marvel at the # of excess bytes transferred across the wire that you didn’t need. 😦

Here are a couple of test URLs so you can see for yourself:

As a self-professed Apple fanboy, I can’t wait for a fix. In the meantime, we’ve had to jump through all sorts of hoops to ‘dumb down’ some of our most exciting new features. 😦

UPDATE: Yes, I’ve tried with every Cache-Control and Expires header known to man. No, it doesn’t make a difference. Try it yourself.

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!

iPhone, SDK, SmugMug

April 2, 2008 19 comments
SmugMug on iPhone

Been getting lots of questions about the iPhone SDK in general, and a SmugMug app in specific. Unfortunately, I think we’re covered by all kinds of NDAs so I can’t say much, but here are some of my thoughts:

  • The iPhone SDK is a monster, huge, awesome thing. It once again leapfrogs Apple’s phone way way ahead of all of the competition. Just watch – the scope and breadth of the apps that’ll be available is going to take your breath away. And they can’t run anywhere else, because all the other phone companies have been ignoring us developers for years. They’re all scrambling around, now, though.
  • The iPhone Apps Store is a bigger deal even than the SDK. Yes, you heard me right. Currently all the buzz is coming from developers, but since I wear both developer and CEO hats, I can tell you the deployment and business side is at least as critical. Being able to easily and rapidly get software and updates to your customers is a nasty problem, and the fact that Apple’s solved it for all of us is a huge, huge win.
  • The combination of the two is where the real magic happens, obviously. I can’t imagine anyone else doing something quite as integrated anytime soon.
  • We are building a SmugMug app. It’s already in the works. Of course, it’ll be free. And of course, it’ll be awesome. I don’t think we can say anything else, though.
  • No, this doesn’t mean the end of our iPhone interface for on-phone Safari web browsing. We’ll keep developing it, and we’ll keep integrating your feature suggestions.

If you have any suggestions as to what you’d like to see in a SmugMug native iPhone app, here’s your chance. Leave me a comment. 🙂

Categories: iphone, smugmug Tags: , , , ,
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