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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.

Finally! Flash supports H.264 video!

August 21, 2007 15 comments

I fell asleep last night dreaming about all the neat things we can finally do with Flash because Adobe now supports H.264 video with AAC audio! Lots of great tech details here.

I think it’s safe to say that everyone building web apps said “wtf?!” when Flash 9 shipped without H.264 support, and we all said “WTF!?” when Microsoft shipped Silverlight without it, too. I mean, come on! We finally have an industry standard that’s efficient, used basically everywhere but on web pages, and neither the leader (Flash) nor the upstart (Silverlight) thought to include support, opting for expensive proprietary encoding formats instead? Talk about dumb.

Silverlight, especially, is a head-scratcher. Silverlight 1.0 is focused almost entirely on video, including HD, and clearly gunning for Flash. So why wouldn’t they go right for Flash’s big Achilles heel – no H.264 support?

Oh well – that opportunity is now lost, and I believe this basically nails Silverlight 1.0’s coffin shut. (The bad Mac installation process had nearly done this for us already) Sad, because I had high hopes for how beneficial strong competition would be for those of us building Rich Internet Apps.

Adobe deserves lots of kudos for actually listening to their customers and doing what we want. Honestly, I never thought this day would come. Finally, we can all encode video without expensive closed-source Windows-only encoders. You can’t imagine how limiting that is unless you’re in the trenches, but mark my words:

You’re going to see a massive boom in the online video space shortly. You ain’t seen nothing yet.

Categories: web 2.0

iPhone features? What would you like?

July 23, 2007 7 comments

Last week we released some great updates to our iPhone interface, and today I’m sitting at Apple in the iPhone Tech Talk workshop. So if you’ve got any feature requests, now’s a great time to leave a comment – there’s a good chance I’ll ship it today. 🙂

Here’s what we released on Thursday:

  • A link from your homepage to iPhone if you’re browsing on your phone.
  • A link on your iPhone back to ‘Full Homepage’ so you can go back to regular SmugMug
  • A cookie so if you’ve visited your iPhone interface, it remembers that you’d like to browse that way. Don’t want it anymore? It clears itself if you hit ‘Full Homepage’ on your phone.
  • Browsing your most popular photos.
  • Browsing through your photos by date. Full timeline supported.
  • A green & black interface to get more similar to SmugMug’s traditional color scheme.

Anyway, leave a comment if you want me to build something for you 🙂

iPhone Tech Day

July 19, 2007 3 comments

Anyone reading know how to get an invite to iPhone Tech Day at Apple?

I emailed them yesterday, but haven’t gotten any word. I’d love to go work on our iPhone interface for SmugMug if I could. If anyone can help, I’d really appreciate it. (And yes, I’ve been an ADC member for years and years. Probably close to a decade in one form or another).

Thanks!

Categories: smugmug, web 2.0

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.

Fleeing Yahoo Photos? Get 50% off at SmugMug.

July 10, 2007 8 comments

Fleeing Yahoo Photos?  Get a 50% off discount coupon for SmugMug.

According to “insiders” we were originally “on the list” of the services that were going to offer seamless migration from Yahoo Photos once it closed but some Yahoos felt threatened by us, so we were removed. I have no idea if the story is true or not, but I certainly hope we were considered. 🙂

In any event, we do have a 50% discount for Yahoo refugees (use coupon code ‘yahoo‘ or click here to start your free trial with the discount applied). I’d blogged about using the Flickr discount awhile back, but apparently it wasn’t getting found (since it was buried in the Flickr post) because we’re getting a lot of email on the subject.

Should you decide to use SmugMug, your best bet is probably the following:

  • Tell Yahoo to migrate your photos to Flickr
  • Sign up for a free trial at SmugMug
  • Use a free tool like SmuggLr to quickly & easily move your photos from Flickr to SmugMug

Note that we’d be happy (thrilled, even) to make this process easier. This is a Yahoo Photos limitation, not a SmugMug one. If anyone at Yahoo wants to talk, by all means, we’re ready and waiting. (And if you feel like, as a Yahoo customer, politely emailing them, that might help. Who knows?)

It’s too bad that what’s good for business (shutting down Yahoo Photos, focusing on Flickr) isn’t so good for their customers. I don’t know what I’d do in their shoes, it’s a tough one. But at least at SmugMug, we’re not a free service, we’re profitable, and we’re not going anywhere.

You get what you pay for – if you care about your photos, come see what you’ve been missing.

Categories: business, smugmug, web 2.0

PhotoSite Refugees get 50% off at SmugMug

July 10, 2007 13 comments

Fleeing PhotoSite?  Get a 50% discount coupon for SmugMug.

That was fast! Even before we got our own emails that PhotoSite was closing, we’ve been bombarded with refugees wondering if we have some sort of a deal or a discount.

Happy to oblige – use coupon code ‘photosite‘ to get 50% off your first year, or click here to start your free trial right now with the 50% coupon automagically applied.

On a side note, I absolutely hate it when this happens. And it happens a lot, I’m afraid. The free guys keep dropping like flies, even if they have huge corporate backers like Adobe, HP, Canon, Microsoft, or Yahoo. You’d think that’d be good for my business, right? Wrong – it leaves a bad taste in the mouths of their customers, who are then gun shy when they think about finding a new service. *sigh*.

Often in life you get what you pay for. If you care about your photos, come see what you’ve been missing.

Categories: business, smugmug, web 2.0

Flickr still has a human face

May 16, 2007 3 comments

I’m solidly in the “Flickr is so cool, I wish they hadn’t sold out to Yahoo” camp. I still don’t understand the decision, but people close the situation tell me it was awesome for all involved, so I’m happy for them. I know for sure they have a bright, passionate team and they deserve to be happy. But I have worried, sometimes publicly, that Yahoo may dehumanize Flickr.

Today I read, with great relief, that it hasn’t happened yet. Stewart’s reply to the Flickr fiasco this week shows that they simply made an honest, human mistake. A painful one, but by being transparent & open, they’re doing the right thing for their customers and community.

I absolutely love to see companies that don’t abuse their customers, particularly in our space. The amount of damage every bad photo sharing site does to consumer confidence is enormous and bad for everyone else involved. There have been sites that have gone dark, with no warning, and deleted millions of photos in an instant. Imagine how easy it is to convince those people that not all photo sharing sites are equal. 😦

Categories: business, web 2.0

Speed Matters.

May 15, 2007 61 comments

Alexa SmugMug Speed rating

As subscribers to my blog have probably already guessed, we spend an inordinate amount of time at SmugMug trying to optimize for speed. As a media-heavy website, that’s a difficult thing to do and there are a lot of pieces. A typical gallery page at SmugMug contains 16 photos (though may contain thousands), plus all of the other graphic elements on the page, JavaScript includes (we use lots of JS), CSS includes, and the page HTML itself.

We’ve long tracked our own internal “page render” time, but once it leaves our servers, it gets more difficult to track. There’s a huge, nasty mess of networking equipment and providers between our servers and each customer. There are paid services that will track some of this for you, but that doesn’t tell you what the actual customer experience is like. We have employees in Utah, Idaho, Ohio, Virginia, New York, London, the Netherlands, and Australia so we can get a decent idea, but nothing beats aggregate data.

Enter Alexa with their excellent service and the data it provides. They get a lot of publicity for their Traffic Rank and Reach stats, but they don’t help us hardly at all (we have tens of thousands of customers who use their own custom domains, for example, among other problems). The stat I really love is the Speed rating. Since Alexa aggregates data from millions of people all over the world, across all page views on a site (heavy and light), we can get a really good view of just how fast our site is:

Alexa SmugMug Speed rating

The usual disclaimers about statistics, particularly Alexa’s, apply: We don’t know exactly what they’re measuring, how much or often they’re measuring it, and how many people are actually measured. But we do know that Alexa’s Speed rating has directly correlated to feedback we get from our customers, and most importantly, our customer satisfaction. That’s good enough for me.

Now, like any Alexa statistic, such as Traffic Rank, it’s best viewed in relation to other sites, rather than alone. So here’s a bunch of photo-sharing sites, both ‘larger’ and ‘smaller’ than SmugMug, and their Speed ratings in rough order of ‘size’ according to Alexa’s Traffic Rank (again, Traffic Rank is notoriously flawed, but we have to order by *something*):

Fotolog:
Alexa Fotolog Speed rating

Flickr:
Alexa Flickr Speed rating

Photobucket:
Alexa Photobucket Speed rating

Webshots:
Alexa Webshots Speed rating

PBase:
Alexa PBase Speed rating

Kodak Gallery:
Alexa Kodak Gallery Speed rating

SmugMug:
Alexa SmugMug Speed rating

Shutterfly:
Alexa Shutterfly Speed rating

Snapfish:
Alexa Snapfish Speed rating

Now, we’re not perfect. SmugMug, like every other site on the net, has problems. But we try very very hard to keep the site speedy and responsive – and I think both the stats above and our customer satisfaction speaks volumes. And I think it’s only fair to note that some of those sites handle more page and photo requests per day than we do – but we’ve left the “small site” size behind long ago, so I wouldn’t discount our size too much. It’s probably only fair to note that with the possible exception of PBase, they all have massive financial resources in comparison to ours, though, too.

We have a huge laundry list of things we can do to speed the site up even more, so look for us to shave more milliseconds off your page load times as we go forward. And I have to thank our Ops team, Andrew Gibbons – Director of Operations & Craig Meakin – Server Surgeon, and programming team, Jimmy Thompson – Web Superhero & Lee Shepherd – SmugSorcerer. Couldn’t have gotten below 1 second without them!

If there’s enough interest, I can do a follow-up post on lots of the tricks we use to get there. I don’t think we do anything earth-shattering, but lots of small things add up. Let me know.

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