According to Yahoo co-founder David Filo, hack day represents Yahoo’s new open source strategy.
“The company has embraced open pretty much throughout the entire thing,” said Filo at a press conference. “It is very important to us, this open hack day is an important part of that.”
The setting was Open Hack Day at the company’s headquarters in Sunnyvale. Filo said over the past couple years, Yahoo has realized that in order to keep pace with innovation, they had to embrace the fact that not all the best innovation can become within Yahoo’s walls.
“We’ve done a lot in the last two years and in the last six months the company has really gotten behind this idea of open,” Filo admitted. “In order to bring the company forward this next couple of years, we have to tap into the qualities of other companies, students. Not just for consumers but also for marketplaces.”
Yahoo offers over 30 APIs and web services and over 250,000 API keys have been issued. Most of them are for YUI’s web platform, used to power AJAX user interface improvements in thousands of web sites, and Flickr’s API, for sharing and storing of photos online.
Chances are if you’ve been a web developer or designer for more than a couple months, you’ve done some freelance work. Maybe you’re already contracting fulltime, or thinking about making the switch. Read on for some must-visit resources to survive the freelance life.
Graphic designer David Airey shares his contract research and how he chose to approach legal documents with clients. More important than putting things in writing, Airey says, is getting half of the money before you do much work. Not getting paid can be a real hassle, no matter whether the law is in your favor.
Web Worker Daily shares six things to know about taxes for the self employed. The real gems to consider are estimated taxes and deductible business expenses. You can limit your estimated taxes by deducting things like a portion of your rent or mortgage. Just don’t overdo it: Google may be able to deduct a swimming pool, but that’d be a stretch for your one person shop.
No matter how nice you are, at some point you’ll have to deal with upset clients. Wake Up Later has some good tips for keeping your cool and making the client happy. The advice works as well in tense, non-client communications: take a breath and see if from the others’ perspective.
If you aren’t enjoying your work, there’s no sense in doing it. Web Worker Daily has several tips to enjoy freelancing. The one that seems to most resonate with commenters: take a vacation. Lack of paid time off can be difficult for new freelancers, who learn the hard way that they have to plan for it.
What have we missed? If you’re a freelancer, how do you survive? If you aren’t working on your own, why not?
Amazon Web Services today launched a contest for developers building their web business off of services like EC2 and S3. The Startup Challenge will award one winner $50,000 in cash and $50,000 in AWS credits, plus potential investment from Amazon.
New startups are commonly using one or more of these web services available from Amazon:
SimpleDB is in beta and provides access to structured data.
In early October Amazon will pick five finalists in the contest, which the public can vote on. A panel of judges will determine the eventual winner. The contest application form is straightforward, with seven long form questions to answer, including the problem being addressed and target customers. Anyone with a qualified entry (I’m assuming this means a site that uses AWS services) receives $25 in AWS credits.
Need some inspiration? Amazon has a list of AWS case studies that show how sites are using their services.
I just got an e-mail from Yahoo informing me that its Mash social network is going kaputski:
Dear Yahoo! Mash member,
Thank you for trying out our Mash Beta service. We hope you had fun with it.
Please note that we will shut down Mash on September 29, 2008. As a result, your current profile on Mash will no longer be available. We strongly recommend that you return to http://mash.yahoo.com and copy the content that you wish to save onto a separate document.
For a list of FAQs, please refer to the Mash Help Page.
Thanks for trying out Mash!
Yahoo! Community Manager
Here’s the Mash FAQ page. Mash is/was the social network that allowed you to go in and edit your friends’ profiles, or at least turn off any gaudy designs they came up with. I reviewed Mash for Wired.com in September of 2007 when it was an invitation-only beta — it didn’t even last a year.
What started as a site to crowdsource ideas is now a venture capital community. VenCorps invites startups to share their businesses, then professionals and amateurs alike help select the best in periodic “showdowns.” Winners of showdowns receive a $50,000 investment (convertible debt, for the VC wannabes following along).
The quality of the startups listed on VenCorps is surprising. Sure, there are a few nutty ones (several me-too social networks, plus a service that will launch your DNA into space), but there are also viable companies. Up-and-coming video site Viddler even listed itself.
VenCorps is an offshoot of crowdsourcing site Cambrian House, which invited the community to submit ideas. Then, other members would vote the ideas up or down. Finally, when the best ideas were determined, the community would pull together to build it. That was the concept, anyway, but it didn’t work like the founders hoped. Earlier this year, Cambrian House sold its assets to Spencer Trask.
VenCorps is different from Cambrian House in that it addresses a major drawback to the previous concept: a startup team matter more than an idea.