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Gmail probs

Posted on 08 May 2009 by Demian Turner

Or maybe just Google Apps – either way they are so frequent these days I’m regretting having moved over.  C’mon guys, I never expected this level of outages from the great Google!

Gmail outages

Gmail outages

“Detailed technical info” … wtf?

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How to measure code quality

Posted on 28 April 2009 by Demian Turner

This comic perfectly captures that elusive but all-important question: what are the universal hallmarks of good quality code.

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Take homes from Best Tech Entrepreneurs 2009

Posted on 25 April 2009 by Demian Turner

entrepreneurs

From the recent BusinessWeek article, I found the ‘lessons learned’ snippets at the end of each finalist very insightful:

  • BumpTop: “The key thing is, stay as lean as possible,” says Chief Executive Agarawala. “We don’t have fancy espresso machines or offer massage in the office. But we do have a team that’s motivated. Every full-time employee should have a meaningful stake in the company.”
  • Aster Data: “A lot of our customers buy Aster because we can add more business value to the bottom line,” says Argyros. “That’s a message that works inside and outside a recession.”
  • Foodzie: “If you always listen to the news, it’s easy to get disheartened,” says Chief Technology Officer Bauman. “What you need to do sometimes is disconnect and focus on what you can control.”
  • Cloudera: “In a down economy, less-than-stellar ideas get filtered out,” founder Bisciglia says. “We were really lucky—we cleared our funding right before the economy really turned down. So we’re much more focused on building things people need than on guessing.”
  • SEOmoz.com: “The buck stops here,” says Fishkin, adding that he took a substantial salary cut at the onset of the economic downturn.
  • XChange: “You find ways to keep costs down,” Foley says. “Instead of buying things for cash, you give equity. Instead of buying all new computer systems, you might buy used systems. You find ways to stretch your dollars.”
  • WeatherBill: “You should always have multiple deals going on,” Friedberg says. “You should always have multiple partnerships available. You’re never there until you’re 100% there.”
  • AirBnB: “People are willing to try new things to save money, and they’re willing to be resourceful,” Chesky says.
  • Bleacher Report: “If the opportunity is to get 80% of the value out of something by doing 20% of the work, do it,” says Finocchio. “It’s not a time to screw around and be a perfectionist. When you have a strong vision for something and you’re passionate about it, it’s hard to cut yourself short of where your product needs to be. But you have to find that balance [between] quality and getting your stuff to market.”
  • Tumblr: “Most of the good decisions I’ve ever made I can credit to the smart people around me,” Karp says. “My role models and my mentors have made a lot smarter decisions than I have.”
  • Ooyala: “Hire the right people. Ultimately, it’s about the people. Any time that we’ve been unsure about a candidate—sure enough, six months down the line it didn’t work out.”
  • Drop.io: “Do what you’re passionate about,” says Lessin, who has seen a lot of friends at hedge funds lose their jobs. “I’m working hard at something I truly love.”
  • Brightkite: “It’s a lot harder to raise money in the downturn. You need to make sure that you have a way to differentiate yourself. For anybody thinking about a new startup, I’d recommend getting to a prototype stage earlier and show you can make revenue and show you have traction.”
  • Sentilla: “You have to adjust your business model as quickly as possible,” says Polastre. “A lot of companies aren’t able to articulate [return on investment], but that’s what people are buying, particularly in the IT space.”
  • SkyGrid: “Do one thing, and do it well. If you focus on doing one thing over five years, I think you will end up with more results people are looking for.”
  • GitHub: “People and companies like saving money,” Wanstrath says. “If you help them do that, they will give you their money.”
  • Appature: “Work with your customers to meet their evolving business needs,” Shahani says. “Every one of our customers is taking a different approach to managing limited budgets. We need to be able to support that with our technology.”
  • Cooliris: “It’s really important to focus on solving a fundamental problem,” Shoemaker says. “If you create something that’s really valuable, that’s probably the best way to survive. We exist to change the world.”
  • Sim Ops Studios: “Investors are looking for capital-effective companies,” Tellerman says. “You’ve got to be fast, hungry, and really lean, with fast time to revenue.”
  • Aardvark: “Reduce risk as much as you can,” Ventilla says. “That becomes doubly important in an economic downturn. Don’t have long whiteboard sessions with your other smart co-founders. Instead, get users’ feedback and pick the right thing to work on.”

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5 stars in the AppStore

Posted on 22 April 2009 by Demian Turner

We’re hitting a pretty good average in the last few days, every single rating we have for Doris and MyHighStreet is 5 stars – nice feedback.

5 stars in the AppStore

5 stars in the AppStore

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Success in the AppStore

Posted on 22 April 2009 by Demian Turner

I hate the idea of starting a new blog, I’m already running 5-6 now, but with the amount of iPhone stuff posted here lately I think I will have to – what does PHPkitchen have to do with the iPhone 😉

We launched our second app in the AppStore yesterday, My High Street, and today it’s #17 in the UK AppStore!! (in the Navigation category).  We’re really happy with this amazing result, and not even sure how it happened, to be honest.

Perhaps handing out flyers at Geek ‘N Rolla had something to do with it 🙂

Congrats to the Shelton bros. for the design work, and to Dmitri and A2 – apparently Dmitri will have a site soon 😉

NB: follow us on Twitter: @myhighstreet

My High Street

My High Street

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After a long night of programming

Posted on 09 April 2009 by Demian Turner

catnap

catnap

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How to Get Your Start-Up Mentioned in TechCrunch

Posted on 05 April 2009 by Demian Turner

Thanks to the guys over at RentBits for these tips, and to Arrington for linking it 😉

  1. Develop a great product or service
    1. Why is your product different?
    2. What problem does it solve?
    3. Tell a Story
  2. Provide a frame of reference
    1. i.e The Zillow For Rentals
  3. Get their attention
    1. The editors of TechCrunch receive many emails a day. They should know exacly what your service or product does by reading the first two sentences of your email.
  4. Help them get to know you
    1. Add your company to CrunchBase
    2. Got technology news? Send them tips with a link to your blog post. We got two links to our blog from this and this post.
  5. Don’t use PR superlative “fluff”
    1. Stay away from terms like, “best”, “fastest”, “most”, etc. Also stay away from words like “revolutionary”, “web 2.0″, “leading”, “disruptive”

We got quite a bit of coverage with Kindo but that was mainly thanks to our huge backing – with Doris it will take a bit more effort 😉

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Chrome on OS X Ready

Posted on 05 April 2009 by Demian Turner

chromeWell, by ready I mean it’s available, and apparently it’s one of the first usable builds.  Seems pretty cool though, and definitely blazingly fast already.  See the whole story.

Aside from great performance with Google apps/products, I’m looking forward to per-tab performance monitoring, I always get one tab that kills my whole Safari instance, have to re-start, put all the windows back in their respective spaces, PITA.

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Iphone Developer Program Hiccups

Posted on 04 March 2009 by Demian Turner

At last I received a sign from the folks at Apple that my application to the iPhone developer program was moving ahead!

I received confirmation of my original application a few days later on Feb 7th, 2009, then just today March 4th I got a phone call saying that I had been accepted.  That was following a number of forms being filled, my company incorporation certificate being faxed over, and a few chasing emails.  And a month of waiting!  Somehow I thought it would be faster but reading around it seems about average these days.

But the whole process I’ve found suprisingly bumpy – there are many aspects that could be improved.

First you get an email titled Iphone Development Program Enrollment Status which invites you to click on a link leading to the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement.  After that’s done you’re invited to pay $99 to sign up to the program, then you receive an email that invites you to look at your electronic download, which in fact turns out to be nothing you can download.

The trick, pointed out in the above-mentioned site, is you must then wait up to 24 hours, then you login to the Iphone Developer site, then in the top right corner you’ll see a link which indicates you can start the process of setting up your developer certificate.

One little email explaining the process would have been very welcome guys :-/

UPDATE: a full 24 hours later, I got the iPhone Developer Program Activation Code email, but even with this there was more funny business.  You are invited to click on the link in the email to activate your account, then you are taken to a page that says, “check your email for a confirmation code that you need to paste into the form field below”.

That email never came, however the form field was pre-populated with a code that in my case worked.

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Taming Netbeans

Posted on 25 February 2009 by Demian Turner

I’m really glad to see so many posts by PHP devs switching over to Netbeans – I don’t think there’s any real competition when it comes to a PHP IDE with a decent feature set that’s not painful to use.  Obviously this last requirement rules out anything based on Eclipse.

But there are a few niggling hitches remaining in Netbeans that need to be addressed.  Others have written about this already but I’ll paraphrase:

  1. fix the double-click drag select bug
  2. get a more native-looking Mac look and feel
  3. get some themes at least as good as Textmate, eg the default ‘blackboard’ theme

The first problem is in fact very painful and I haven’t been able to find any remedies for it.  Netbeans being a Java app, the GUI is implemented in Swing, which by default doesn’t seem to support the ability to double-click a string of text, then with the mouse button still depressed, drag to select additional words of text.

In any browser, for example, this works as expected: you can click the mouse in the middle of a word, double click to get the whole word, then drag left or right to get the string of words you need.  Not having this feature can be extremely painful because the alternative means you must place, with pixel precision, the cursor at exactly the beginning and end of a word, then click, then drag.

The former system lets you work a lot faster, and in a text selecting business like programming can really cut down on the agro in a day’s work.

If this problem drives anyone else crazy, or someone knows a workaround I’d love to hear about it.

For the second point the Netbeans 6.7 M2 release, out today, seems to address some of the issues.  But it has to be said the IDE is still on the ugly side of things, however slightly less bubbly now which I think is an improvement.

For the third point I dug up a theme this afternoon which is a definite improvement over the sparse selection of themes offered with the Netbeans download.  Check out Ruby Dark Pastels – Mac users beware that the .nbm file gets .jar appended to it when you download the component which makes it unusable.  Simply remove the .jar in the Finder.

The theme is not perfect however, method names are black on a dark blue background, and many code elements (constants, static methods, etc) are white and get match-highlighted in yellow making them unreadable.  Many of these elements are not configurable in the Fonts & Colours preference option.

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