Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

File Under: Business

No More Laptop Fooling For Traveling Monkeys

Sure, most of us are stuck at our cubes, offices, or living room couches creating websites all day. We know that some of our fellow webmonkeys have jobs that require travel, or at least have to fly to spend holidays with family.

Of course, ‘monkey travelers always have a computer with them, right? In the U.S. we’re familiar with removing our laptops from their secure holsters and placing them in a plastic tray for a ride over a conveyor belt. That may be changing.

Laptop bags - approved and disapproved styles

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has introduced new laptop bag procedures. No longer are travelers required to remove their laptop, as long as the bag allows a clear view of the machine.

TSA employees “know what the inside of a computer should look like, and can recognize irregularities. This is why they need an unobstructed view as the item moves through the X-ray machine.”

Your current bag may work, especially if it’s just a protective sleeve. If you’re in the market for a new bag, expect to start seeing ones that claim to meet TSA requirements (TSA is not itself endorsing any bags).

How do you know if yours will pass? There needs to be nothing but bag material above and below the laptop when it’s laying flat in the bag. That means no zippers or clips. Also, no power adapter or other items in a pocket unless it’s to the side of the laptop.

Several of the styles that TSA says will work are sectioned bags that unfold. So, there will still be preparation, along with removing jackets and shoes, to get your stuff ready to be screened. At least you won’t have to remove your laptop from its bag, although you won’t get nearly the number of compliments on your laptop stickers.

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File Under: Business, Software & Tools

Blogging Pioneers Advise Entrepreneurs at Start Conference

Evan Williams, Matt Mullenweg, and Mena TrottThe first three sessions at The Start Conference featured founders of the top three blogging platforms discussing how they started their businesses.

Evan Williams, perhaps now better known as the founder of Twitter, started Blogger in 1999. His company was actually working on a different product when Blogger took over.

Similarly, when he started Twitter, his company was working on podcast site Odeo. Williams spoke about the accidental successes and how he knew it was time to switch gears:

“There was no justification for doing this within the company, but it was too compelling to ignore.”

Twitter’s up-time troubles may be rooted in it beginning as a side project. At first they wanted to create something simple, a prototype of an idea. Williams explained it simply: “Then we never caught up.”

Matt Mullenweg founded WordPress when the developer of his blogging platform (B2) disappeared. Mullenweg banded together with other disappointed users to create what is now an extremely popular platform.

Mullenweg attributes WordPress’ success to its “slow, organic growth.” For several years, all the contributors had day jobs and coded away in the evenings. In 2006, he founded Automattic, a 25 person virtual company, distributed across the globe.

How do so many people work together without being in the same place?

“What we found works is breaking our projects down to the smallest possible iota… One of the worst things that can happen is two people working on the same thing. And that’s not too bad of a problem.”

Mena Trott discussed the early days of Six Apart, which she founded with her husband. The company makes Typepad and Movable Type blogging platforms. During the dot com nuclear winter, they hunkered in their apartment working on their product. They were intent on not taking venture capital, and even incorporated as an LLC to make it more difficult.

Of course, they eventually did take money, and are now a 200 person company. And why haven’t they sold?

“The company hasn’t reached its full potential yet, but we also haven’t had the right offer.”

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File Under: Business

How to Get Your Project Back on Track

Whiteboard planningIt’s a new month and pretty soon a brand new week. Both are excellent excuses to get your ducks in a row and your chickens hatching.

I continue to be amazed at how much of web development isn’t all that technical. There are plenty of social and organizational roadblocks that keep us from achieving all our goals.

Not all of these seven steps for successful projects can save a project that already has problems. But check out this list below and ask yourself what you can work on today to get yourself out of a rut.

  1. Organize your thoughts – Let it all out and then make sense of it
  2. Define clear objectives – Don’t know what you’re trying to do? Better find out now, or you’ll just be treading water.
  3. Establish clear, material deliverables for each step – Breaking down into sub-tasks can be a life saver. What could you finish today?

What tricks do you use to keep things moving forward? Let us know in the comments.

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Microsoft Dons Sheep Suit, Joins Open Source Foundation

LinuxfudMicrosoft has decided to hide the teeth for bit and joined the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) in an attempt to convey some goodwill to the open source community. The Apache Software Foundation is one of the largest organizations in the open-source world and Microsoft’s new platinum membership nets the ASF $100,000 annually.

Of course there’s some good reasons to question Microsoft’s motives. As Bruce Perens, a well-known open-source advocate, writes on Slashdot, “there’s much reason for caution.”

For instance, Microsoft was once working very hard to mount a legal attack designed to sue the entire open source world out of existence. Obviously that didn’t come the pass on a large scale, and Microsoft now appears to differentiate between open source (potentially benign to its interests) and Linux (a threat). Still, it isn’t hard to see why open source advocates remain wary of the company.

Perens writes:

Historically, Microsoft helped to fund SCO’s attack on Linux — we have court testimony under oath on that. They briefed HP on their plans to sue the the developers of Sendmail, Linux and other programs — we have the HP memo, which HP admitted was real. Their agreement with Novell was calculated to break the spirit of the GPL without violating the letter, so they’ve shown they are happy to cheat the developer community when it’s to their advantage. More recently, they have cheated every way they could in getting Office Open XML through ISO, even having one of their executives pose as officer of a national standards organization.

Perens suspects that Microsoft may be trying buy its way into the open-source world to in an effort to gain open-source credibility so when it comes to deals with government agencies and large corporations, the company can pass itself off as open source friendly.

Their increased involvement in Open Source organizations means that they will be taken as a member of the Open Source community when they speak with national legislators. This is terrible for us, because it means they’ll be able to short-circuit our work to protect Open Source from software patents by speaking to government as an insider in our communities.

What do you think? Has Microsoft genuinely had a change of heart or is this classic case of one hand shaking with open source while the knife-wielding other hand sneaks around back?

[via Slashdot]

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App Store Launch: 552 Applications, 135 of Them Free

iPhone developer house Pinch Media has analyzed the App Store numbers, listing the number of apps and what they will cost you. Of the 550-plus applications available right now, about 25 percent of them can be downloaded free of charge.

Apple’s App Store, where customers can buy applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch, opened its doors Thursday morning.

Pinch’s research shows developers are flocking to the OS and mobile devices, displaying what may be the first tipping point towards mass adoption of internet enabled mobile devices. According to Pinch Media:

On AppStore launch, Pinch Media counted 552 applications – 417 of them paid, 135 of them free. Paid applications ranged in price from $0.99 to $69.99, with the most common price points being $0.99 (85 applications), $9.99 (82 applications), and $4.99 (62 applications).

552 applications at launch is a pretty impressive number, especially if you consider less than 20 applications were available (by legit means, anyway) for the iPhone and iPod Touch prior to today’s launch.

This number is sure to grow once more developers jump on board, and considering the hype surrounding the App Store and the iPhone, it is easy to see these numbers jump higher. Add the possibility of revenue and businesses might be able to thrive on this software market.

According to an interview in the New York Times, Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs says Apple is “not trying to be business partners” with application developers, preferring to sell iPhones instead. Yet, the company is taking 30 percent of any revenue generated on the store. Did we mention Apple programmed its devices so the only way to download and install applications on the proprietary devices is through iTunes? Natch.

That said, locked-in and exorbitant phone network pricing plans and iPhone third-party development restrictions could possibly put a crimp on growth while open-sourced and Linux-enabled mobile operating systems like Open Moko and Android threaten to catch up… someday.