boutell: (shave)
One Post Wonder status update: I can invite people. Those people can accept their invitations and become mutual friends and see each other's posts.

Booyeah! So what's left before I can bring in alpha testers?

● 24-hour rule (that's where this started...)
● A way to follow a nifty person you discover through public posts or comments
● Edit friends
● Public/private switch for posts (right now they are all private)
● Profile pictures
● Limit the # of invites you can send
● A way to change your password

That will bring me up to the minimum feature set for folks to enjoy the experience. Then I'll welcome those who are still reading when they get to this sentence. You know who you are.
boutell: (shave)
"Social Enough" kinda appeals to me. And miraculously, socialenough.com is available!

Whatcha think?
boutell: (shave)
A bunch of you already know I'm designing a social network where you can only post once per day.

My latest mockup is here.

New today: comments. The first post in the mockup is displayed with comments expanded.

I think Facebook mostly gets commenting right. LJ's comments are overcomplicated for most people's needs.

I did however go with a "send" button, which frees up the enter key for actual line breaks, without having to be a cleverpants who hits shift-enter. I think it's more in keeping with the "longer deeper thoughts" nature of the site.

The deepest question I haven't resolved: do public posts even exist on this site? I like the idea that it's more focused on friends, but I don't want to chase away folks who enjoy having a mixed public/private presence. Like me.

Along with that: should people have public "usernames"?
boutell: (shave)
I'm thinking about building a social network where you can only post once a day. You'd get a small number of indulgences, of course, in case you elope or your duck graduates. This would encourage less trivial posting and less obsessive reading.

I've been discussing the idea on Facebook, which is a terrible place to have an ongoing discussion, so I thought I'd post here.

I'm thinking there's a buffer where you can work on contributions to today's post, so if you get the urge to say OMG KITTENZ, you can add some KITTENZ to what you'll post later.

I think the special indulgence button needs to be a duck in a mortarboard cap.

The best actual-name suggestion so far is probably Andy Solberg's "broadside," which is currently a squatter domain; I might conceivably be able to buy it.

I whipped up a design sketch tonight which I kinda like (revised version; see also first version). It emphasizes the daily nature of things and tries to be uncluttered and focused on reading. Of course I haven't tried to add an interface for posting and commenting.

Here are my notes:

* No more than one post per day
* Unless you use one of your indulgences, which recharge slowly
* This is the WHOLE POINT so it should be featured right in the name. I was thinking "ourdiem" but that, and most reasonable plays on "day," are taken. "quotidious" is ridiculous... right?
* Just one comment per day per person on any given post
* Comments are always moderated, but make this wildly easy and automatically whitelist people you follow
* No "reblogging", but make it easy to share links in your daily post. Maybe even "pin" other people's posts to remark upon in your post later
* It's OK to edit a past post or past comment. If people are jerks with this feature don't follow them
* Yes to rich text, with one post per day you might want to embroider a bit
* One site-wide visual style. Facebook got that right
* Free, becoming free-plus-ads, with the option of paying to have no ads (if we ever get there)
* Responsive site (iPhone and Android friendly right off the bat), apps later
* Comment on a post without losing your place as you read your feed (LJ still gets this wrong)
* Writing prompts to help you get going
* Social contract: quotidious will be run by a "B corporation" as soon as possible ( http://www.bcorporation.net/ ), or perhaps a nonprofit
* Want to log in with Facebook? Fine. Want to log in with Twitter? Fine. I don't care that I don't own you
* Privacy levels and circles (aka "custom friend groups"). We are not Tumblr
* NO aggressive invite feature, it doesn't work anyway, too many people don't know their friends' email addresses now because of Facebook. If you like it, tell somebody about it
boutell: (shave)
I posted a lovely technical rant today. I'm pleased with it. Folks are appearing to explain how very wrong I am.

I don't actually think there's only one right answer, but since I intentionally invited strong reactions by invoking the phrase considered harmful, I must take these responses in stride and respond with cheerful bonhomie and rocket grenade fire.

It takes me back to my beginnings, not as a programmer but as a writer. I was meant to be on the Internet, but there wasn't one yet for normal mortals. So I built a BBS out of chewing gum and baling wire, set up political forums and learned the arts of consensus and rhetoric, Peter Wiggin style.
boutell: (shave)
OK, so, the Brendan Eich thing. You could be forgiven for thinking it's a slippery slope to ask an employee to leave because of their personal beliefs about a social issue. Because it is.

But a CEO is not a regular employee. A CEO is a very public cheerleader for your company. It's a PR position as much as anything. The phrase "appearance of impropriety" is relevant here. You can't claim your CEO's views are not those of the company. If not theirs, then whose?

OK, so maybe you wouldn't buy that either if we were talking about Domino's Pizza, or even Microsoft, because they are for-profit companies and it's their job to maximize the stock price, not change the world. But Mozilla is not a for-profit company. It's a nonprofit organization dedicated to "openness." And that "public cheerleader" thing goes double for the CEO of a nonprofit organization.

But let's go back to the for-profits for a moment, because there's another relevant factor: companies need to retain employees. Developers are social libertarians. People who want to get married will always care more about the issue than people who want to stop them from getting married. And all of Mozilla's major competitors are rock solid on same-sex marriage, even though, as for-profit companies, they could choose to ignore it.

So at the end of the day, making him CEO was bad business. It should never have happened. He should have stayed in the CIO role, which acknowledged his considerable professional worth, and not moved into the vastly more political role of CEO.
boutell: (shave)
The problem's plain to see (snowcam snowcam, we've got a snowcam)
Too much technology (snowcam snowcam, we've got a snowcam)
Machines to measure snow (snowcam snowcam, we've got a snowcam)
By Android tablet glow [GUITAR SHRED]

Every year, weather permitting, Jill Knapp and I perpetrate pseudometeorology with the aid of way too much technology. Join us this evening as we answer the question: how much snow is on Jill's bucket?

Backups

Jan. 1st, 2014 12:09 pm
boutell: (shave)
Backups are hilarious. Everybody talks about them and nobody does them. Everybody loses ALL THEIR SHIT and screams and cries and screams again. Humans are funny.

For personal use the answer is pretty easy:

1. Buy a Mac
2. Buy an external USB drive - a simple teeny one that has more capacity than your hard drive and does NOT require a separate power cord
3. HOOK IT UP
4. Set up Time Machine, which comes with your Mac
5. Keep hooking that drive up for a while every day
6. That's it. Time Machine backs up automatically, you don't have to think about it. As a bonus you can get back to versions of any file as of particular dates. But the main win is that you can restore your entire machine if you must replace your drive or your entire computer.

Sure, the external drive could fail, but your main drive and your external drive aren't going to fail on the same day. It's more than good enough. And it is BETTER than your fancy backup solution that is complicated that you never use.

The only backup that matters is a backup that you actually use.

For professional use it's a little trickier. At work we've come to favor using Amazon S3 for backup of client projects.

For a while we had a Drobo. It was shiny, but too shiny. It is shininess tempted folks to try to set it up as a network Time Machine time capsule... thing... which never worked. Eventually we just bought people individual external drives: simpler is better.

Then we hooked it up in the basement to back up certain projects nigthly. That was better, and it was sweet that it could handle a failed drive so gracefully... until it started to get really really slow and we realized it was old and unsupported and scary to rely on.

We also tried a bargain-basement RAID setup, with two external drives. This was not good. Linux kept changing its mind about what to call the array and the individual drives, no matter how much I worked to lock those things down. It shouldn't be hard to figure out which drive is the dead one.

So we moved to Amazon S3. It's awesome: it's not in your basement, it's geographically redundant (data centers in widely separated states), it's highly redundant on the local level too, and you don't worry about ANY of that shit. You just pay the bill.

Amazon S3 is shiny and you can do fancy things with it, but we try to keep it as stupid as possible: we use a simple command line tool called s3cmd to move things to and from S3. We make an archive file of an entire project and upload that to S3; we keep three weeks of those archives. It's too simple to screw up.

OK, we did do one fancy thing with S3: I wrote a nice nodejs-powered tool to manage the backups.

You can pick up the code here on github. It's nifty, but it has one flaw: it downloads each project locally, archives it, and uploads the archive, then proceeds to the next project. And this takes a long time. So since we have a lot of clients with big projects, we can only do weekly backups, not daily.

So the next generation of this tool will probably do all the work for each project on the server that hosts that project, allowing them all to back up to S3 in parallel. Which means setting up a separate S3 "bucket" for each project, for security reasons. And... other stuff. So for now, we stick with the simple version.
boutell: (shave)
Hey, I bought a Chromecast. Here's my review:

I got my Chromecast. It's a $35 gadget that claims to be able to do two things:

1. "Cast" any tab you have open in Chrome to your TV.
2. "Cast" YouTube, Netflix and a number of other services, but definitely not iTunes, to your TV. Not just from a Mac or PC, but also from any iPhone, Android phone, iPad, Android tablet, etc. etc. etc.

Physically you couldn't ask for a less obtrusive device. It's a teeny dongle that hangs off one of your TV's HDMI ports. (If you have a flatscreen, it almost certainly has HDMI ports.) You do have to hook it up to power as well, but that's not outrageous.

So how well does it work? Pretty well overall. Amazing for the price.

Its worst feature by far, though, is the one it's named for: casting a Chrome tab.

There is a noticeable lag when casting a tab. And you need a really powerful laptop to cast a tab without a lot of chop and stuttering audio. My brand new Macbook Pro can do it without stuttering, Roberta's perfectly respectable but very affordable PC laptop cannot.

Thing is, if what you want is to watch YouTube, Netflix or a similar service, you're totally golden. Because your phone or computer just tells the chromecast to go get them on its own. And that works great. My phone is now an awesome YouTube remote.

There is a Chromecast dev kit, and they are pushing updates all the time. But the dev kit seems to be pretty high level stuff and probably can't be used to work around fundamental limitations of tab casting. Improving that experience is up to Google. My first impression is that, when you cast a tab, it's directly sending the display and audio of your PC to the Chromecast, which would account for the lousy performance on less powerful PCs and the lag issues with all PCs. After reading a lot about it, this is also my second and third impression, with an eensy bit of doubt: since the SDK for "receiver apps" that run on the device is JavaScript-based, it does sound like it's really running Chrome... just not in a really useful way, as in actually loading the tab you're on directly rather than making your PC send pictures of it.

Update: aha! I was right: even though the Chromecast is built on web technologies and apps are written in JavaScript, it does not load casted tabs directly. Instead they are rendered on your PC and beamed to the Chromecast using a bandwidth-piggy protocol called WebRTC. nick671 has the details on reddit.

So tab casting could one day improve... if Google or someone else comes up with a way of cleverly restricting what websites include while still leaving them interesting to use, despite the 512MB RAM limit of the Chromecast. (Yes, we live in an age of miracles and wonders.) That would probably exhibit some confusing differences from what the same tab does on your desktop, though– another reason they don't do it out of the box.

But again, none of these limitations matter for things like youtube and netflix that the chromecast supports natively. Those are awesome. And the dev kit means the door is certainly open to other third party services creating their own "receiver apps" for a better Chromecast experience.
boutell: (Default)
Holy crap, we are hiring up a storm at work:

Customer Service / Office Manager --> Front line support for our client projects. Da Boss needs more mental CPU cycles to devote to new business development.

Front End Developer --> Lots of jquery and modern CSS and templates and light frontend PHP, with ample growth opportunities in backend stuff.

Designer / Front End Developer --> Less code, more concept, but still some hands-on ability with CSS and HTML5 expected.

Back End Developer --> PHP MVC framework stuff (Symfony 1, Symfony 2); MVC frameworks in general; node.js; MySQL, MongoDB; Linux sysadmin skills a nice plus.

Basically we are hiring in just about every role, except for project management and new business development.

There's more information about some of these gigs on our blog, but they all exist, so don't let it slow you down at all if you don't see a listing for one of them (yet).

Get in touch if you are one of these people. Must be stoked about working face to face with a cool bunch of designers and developers and designopers in South Philly.
boutell: (Default)


Hey guys,

I just launched justjs.com, an autobiographical blog about node.js development. It's written in Node and all the source code is on github.

"Whuzza node?" node.js is a very cool thing that lets you build websites in JavaScript. Not just the part that runs in the browser, but also the part that runs on the server.

"But why?" Since Google, Firefox and Microsoft have put so much effort into competing to make JavaScript faster, the v8 engine – the open source JavaScript engine that Google built for Chrome – is now faster than just about any other pleasant-to-use programming language in the world. And it's baked into both Node and the MongoDB database. So there is basically no reason to constantly switch from language to language in your head as you move between PHP (or Ruby), JavaScript, and SQL. Instead you can now write JavaScript everywhere. Which I really, really like, even though JavaScript isn't perfect.

You can follow the blog here. (There's an RSS feed as well.)

Looking forward to your thoughts!
boutell: (Default)
Hey Linux system administrator types,

Anyone know whether 'apt-cron' can safely update 'cron' itself? A simple invocation of 'apt-get update' by a cron job fails in that case. Then you have a half-complete package update and various daemons stopped, not to be started again until somebody notices. Ow.

'apt-cron' is intended for the purpose of running 'apt-get' stuff on a scheduled basis, but that doesn't mean it addresses this issue, and I haven't found any indication yet that it does.

Thanks!
boutell: (Default)
Hi folks,

Anyone out there using stripe.com to take credit cards online?

They charge 2.9% plus 30 sents per transaction, which is high as far as it goes– but that is the only charge, period (excepting unusual events like chargebacks). No application fee, no monthly fee, no minimum of charges they sock you for if you don't make that minimum, no nada. So naturally the office is curious about them.

But they have no testimonials at all on their site, which makes me worry a bit.

Anyone tried them or talked to someone who has?

Thanks!
boutell: (Default)


I made a cool social hangout toy for private clubs, families and the like. It's a solo project, and I had a lot of fun building it. My friend [livejournal.com profile] jeremym challenged me to explain why he should give a crap. Here's my best shot at it. I'll know I got it right if y'all give it a try:

wejoinem is private social networking for people you give a shit about. It integrates live chat, bulletin board posts and a calendar of upcoming events in a single, familiar interface. But it is also inherently private to a specific group of people - a club.

Unlike Facebook, you always know who's listening and who isn't. No need for "friend" relationships, filters, circles or confusion about who read what you just said.

But by using a familiar social networking interface wejoinem is immediately understood by everyone.

By providing privacy and wrapping it all in a single site wejoinem delivers what you'd normally have to cobble together from Google Groups plus Google Calendars plus darned if I know.

It's the Intranet site you'd have custom-built for each of your tightly knit, insular groups if you were a billionaire.

wejoinem

boutell: (Default)
Hey Etsy peeps, we made a thing for you!

I love it when a simple change lets people do so much.



A few weeks since the public launch of Apostrophe, the website builder for people with better things to do than learn obscure shit, we've learned some major lessons about what works, what doesn't work, and what people really want versus what they say they need. We're endeavoring to be a good boyfriend, listen well, impress your mom, clean up nice and deliver the goods.
boutell: (Default)
"I don’t jive with the climate of blogging right now. When marketing moved in, I moved out. There’s been a shift in perception with the influx of money; smaller blogs get lost in the shuffle, and it’s a chorus of similar voices. What I loved about blogging was finding those marginal voices, connecting with people over this weird nerdy habit, pushing myself to be a better writer because so many others were already great. I don’t see a lot of that now – I don’t see writers writing for writing’s sake. That’s been replaced by twenty people talking about their awesome experience with Brand X paper towels because a company gave them a few bucks to do so. I tend towards the personal, the political and the analytical. Writing on my blog started to feel like screaming into a void, so I stopped."

- Danielle Henderson on why she gave up her blog, Knotty Yarn. Swiped from an interview in She Posts.

I recognize my own experience in this. The arrival of money, even a shitty trickle of it, really poisons an ecosystem based on joy and mutual amusement and mayyybe some tactful professional reputation-building.

I think it's possible for blogging (and tweeting, and increasingly, facebooking) to recover, just as open source recovered from the stock options given to people whose email addresses were found in code making up Red Hat Linux – an awesomely generous and savvy gesture that had the unfortunate side effect of making it hard to remember that in many cases we were in it for the fun of it, or because we believed in it, until the moment we either did or didn't get stock in some company. (*)

Eventually a new wave of enthusiasts will remind us that the Internet is fun, whether we're getting rich quick or not.

(*) I did manage to buy a small amount of Red Hat stock in that IPO.
boutell: (Default)

Apostrophe: It's just easy.

Coming out of beta next week! Hit me up for a last-minute beta test invite.

boutell: (Default)
I've been yapping for years about our (*) open source content management system, which is all very well and good for those of us who are programmers and willing to spend time getting up to speed with it, and no darn use to the rest of you. And I've shared links to a demo site, which is tantalizing, but you don't get to keep it.

Finally we're rolling out our hosted service. No installation necessary. Walk up, make a web site, share access with your collaborators. Edit the stylesheet if that's your bag or choose from a selection of snazzy themes. Add video, crop photos, build slideshows, feature blog posts and upcoming events anywhere in the site. It's the same shockingly friendly user experience we give our clients. It's the reason we win those clients (and liberate those clients from the pain of Drupal forever).

Now I've got beta invites. And I want to send you one. Drop me a line at tom@punkave.com and I will fire off an invite toot sweet.

"You are all beautiful dudes and dudesses and I love you from the bottom of my baby blue boxer shorts." -Zippy the Pinhead

(*) "Our" being P'unk Avenue, of course. Best. Day. Job. Ever.
boutell: (Default)
Hey Android people, does this animate for you on your phone's web browser? Do you see the turtles swimming or are they static? What version of Android on what phone (if you know)?

There's an Android trouble ticket that says it still doesn't work even in Gingerbread, but I also have one report of animated GIFs working in Android 2.2. Please help me figure out the truth.



Thanks!
boutell: (Default)
Booyeah, my latest iPhone app is approved for sale!



Standing three rows back at the Mummers Parade? Can't see a goldarn thing?

Fire up seeoverme on your iPhone and the iPhone of a friend. Your friend clicks "Send Video" and holds up his phone. You click "Receive Video" and bam, you can see over the crowd. (I almost named it "Periscope," but that's trademarked. I was also tempted to name it "Busybody," but not everyone knows Ben Franklin...)

No 3G, no wifi, no problem: seeoverme uses Bluetooth. The range is "only" 30 feet, but it's great for its intended purpose, and it doesn't affect your 3G bandwidth limit or have any trouble at all in that phone service-proof school auditorium.

99 cents in the app store.

Looking forward to hearing about other creative uses for short-range Bluetooth video!

Find it on the app store

September 2014

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