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Yahoo adds SmugMug support!

January 16, 2009 21 comments
Yahoo! in cloud OR Hadoop? (Яху в облаках)

Yahoo! in cloud OR Hadoop? (Яху в облаках) by Alexander & Natalie

tl;dr: Yahoo adds SmugMug support to Profiles. Windows Live coming. Lots of other services, too.

Wow, what a pleasant surprise! Woke up this morning to this story on TechCrunch about 20 new services they’d added to Yahoo Profiles (here’s mine). Lo and behold, SmugMug is one of them! In fact, in Yahoo’s blog post about the new features, SmugMug was the one mentioned for photos. Cool!

As far as I know, we haven’t talked to Yahoo about this at all – which is part of what makes this so great. Microsoft was supposed to have rolled something like this out to Windows Live profiles awhile ago, but I still haven’t seen it drop. We’re very excited about that, too, but the two company’s approaches were very different: Microsoft came over, chatted with us about the product, then had us sign a contract to participate. That was months ago, and I have no idea when it’s actually coming. Yahoo, on the other hand, seems to have just built it and shipped it.

I can see the arguments for both approaches: Microsoft is probably being extra careful about privacy, and working through their internal rules and regulations about re-using user generated content. Yahoo, on the other hand, is scrambling to catch up now as the underdog. I assume Yahoo realized that SmugMug already has strong privacy controls around our feeds and simply hit the gas – full speed ahead.

Either way, what’s especially heartening is the number of sites, services, and pieces of software that now support SmugMug. At The Crunchies last week, we weren’t nominated (we won for Best Design last year), but it still felt like we were winning – many of the winners use or integrate with us: Google Reader, Windows Live Mesh, Cooliris, lots of companies using Amazon Web Services, lots of apps on the iPhone 3G, and FriendFeed. Very cool.

(And all of that despite what we *know* is terrible and/or nonexistent documentation around our feeds. Yes, we’ll work on that.)

Nominations open for The Crunchies 2008

November 25, 2008 4 comments
SmugMug wins Best Design at The Crunchies 2007

SmugMug wins Best Design at The Crunchies 2007 by Luca Filigheddu Photography

I loved the idea behind The Crunchies even before we won for Best Design last year so I’m glad to see their triumphant return. And I see that nominations are open for 2008!

It looks like we’re probably eligible for a number of categories, but even if you don’t think we’re worthy, please go nominate your favorite startups. It really means a lot to the teams that work on these companies. Nothing like a little validation for all of our hard work… 🙂

I demand video to be awesome.

April 25, 2008 66 comments

 

Sam “Shizam” Nichols, creator of the video player, donning his SmugMug Hero persona. See it in HD.

The state of video codecs online has been a mess and there’s been no clear choice, making it very difficult to do awesome video sharing. Luckily, all of that changed when Adobe finally added H.264 support to Flash.

Thanks to Adobe, we finally have a video codec that we can get behind and that’ll be great for our customers. And so back in December, we released a major new update to our video offering that’s 100% based on H.264. And it supports resolutions all the way up to 1280x720p. That’s right – SmugMug has truly awesome hi-def video sharing.

Today, I’m thrilled to announce that our Flash player is out (we used QuickTime for a few months while we polished up our player), so it’s easier than ever to embed on your blogs and share with your friends:

Here’s all the gory details:

  • Upload almost any video format you like. We’ll do our best to convert to H.264 in an extremely high quality way. (Thanks EC2!)
  • We’ll generate multiple sizes for you, so you’ll have a version that’s perfect for sharing on the web (YouTube size), perfect for using on your iPod/iPhone (DVD size), and even your Hi-Def TV in your living room.
  • We’ll automagically display just the right sized video for whichever browser and monitor you happen to be using. Ditto for your friends. Example from my friends in Dallas hard at work on Duke Nukem.
  • You can embed the videos in your blog, website, or wherever else you like online. And you can do so at DVD quality resolution – 640×480 – more than 4X the pixels and quality of YouTube.
  • You (and your friends and family, if you let them) can easily download all the different sized versions of your videos so you can do whatever else you’d like with them, like add them to YouTube or burn to a DVD.
  • H.264 means it’ll play on a huge, wide variety of computers and devices, not just SmugMug. iPods, AppleTV, Playstation 3, and the list goes on…
  • Speaking of Apple devices, we provide a complete podcast RSS feed for your account that you and your friends can subscribe to with a single click in iTunes. All your iPods, iPhones, and AppleTVs will then magically stay up-to-date. All your online videos in your pocket, and your living room, all the time. Neat, eh?
  • I’m thrilled we’re making good use of the OpenShareIcon project, too. Rather than use some trademark-encumbered, company-owned, non-open ShareIcon, we’ve chosen to use the real deal. Viva open web standards!
  • One gotcha: Flash takes 200% more CPU to play video on the Mac than QuickTime does, so in-gallery, Mac users will still see QuickTime. We can’t wait until that’s not true – but that’s up to Adobe, not us. 😦

So there you have it. I’ll probably post again soon with lots more detail about how great the integration is with Apple devices: iPod, iPhone, iTunes, and AppleTV. We love us some Apple over here at SmugMug. 🙂

Oh, and you can count on our video player to continue to rapidly evolve. This is definitely just a 1.0 product – it may have some warts and it’ll get even better over time.

So go wild – share your crystal clear video with the world!

Oh, and demand your video to be awesome (sorry about the quality – that’s the best I could find from Verizon. SmugMug *did not* make it all blocky and ugly):

Thoughts on Google App Engine

April 8, 2008 23 comments

First:  Very cool.

Next:  I think it’s interesting that Google has basically taken a sniper scope out and aimed it at a specific cloud computing target.  App Engine is only for web applications.  No batch computing, no cron jobs, no CPU/disk/network access, etc.  

I think this is very smart of Google.  Rather than attacking Amazon head-on, Google has realized there’s a huge playing field for cloud computing, and are attempting to dominate another portion of it, one where they have a lot of expertise.  Very good business move, imho.

Will we use it?  I wouldn’t be surprised.  I’ve long thought that we’ll continue to mix in web services from a variety of providers, and it looks like App Engine can solve a slice of our datacenter need that other providers don’t yet provide.  

I’m more than a little concerned, though, by how much vendor lock-in there is with App Engine.  At first glance, it doesn’t look like the apps will be portable at all.  If I want to switch providers, or add in other providers so I’m not relying solely on Google, I’m outta luck.  

I’m hopeful other languages get supported, too.  I think Python is great – don’t get me wrong – but we have a lot more experience with other languages, so there’ll be a learning curve.

Finally, I’m dying to find out what pricing for an application of our scale will look like.  I can see some immediate, obvious things I’d like to try to do on App Engine, but the beta limits aren’t gonna cut it for us.  😦

Will it replace Amazon?  It sure doesn’t look like it from where I sit.  In fact, I don’t see this as much of a competitor to Amazon Web Services.  There’s some overlap in some small area (hosted web apps on EC2), but I doubt that’s the bulk of Amazon’s business.  As I said, we’ll likely end up using both (and other providers as they come along, too).

My favorite bit?  In theory, Google has solved the data scaling problem.  I don’t mean raw binary (blob) storage, which S3, SmugFS, MogileFS, and plenty of other things have solved, but the “database” scaling problem.  Every popular web app runs into this problem, and it’s typically solved with a combination of memcached, federation, and replication.  But it’s messy.  In theory, Google has automated that piece for us.  I can’t wait to play with it and see if that’s true.

I also can’t wait to see who else is going to wade into this fray.  Sun?  Microsoft?  Yahoo?  IBM?  

Bring it on!

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.

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!

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.

Thoughts on the new IE compatibility switch

January 23, 2008 11 comments

Over on IEBlog and A List Apart, they detail a new flag for the upcoming IE8 that would enable you to “lock” the browser down to older versions should you be expecting older broken behavior from IE6 or IE7.

This is a bad idea. The Safari team has a great write-up about why they think it’s a bad idea, which I agree with, but I also have an additional take:

Pages and sites that are likely to care about this are poorly written and poorly maintained. Microsoft created this problem themselves when they let IE6 sit idle for more than half a decade, and now they have to deal with it. Instead of letting someone flag their site as being broken (that’s what they’re doing), why shouldn’t they finally force them to fix their site and improve the browsing experience for everyone (not to mention improve the stability, speed, and maintainability of their codebase)?

If someone owned a car, but didn’t know how to drive it properly, would we bend the driving laws to let them on the road? Of course not. Some reasonable adherence to standards and moving things forward is the only thing keeping the web browser mess from descending into pure chaos.

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
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