A lot of people have asked me where I have been and why I have not wrote much in the past year. The reason is Twitter! As much as I do enjoy blogging, I enjoy micro blogging even more!! You can follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/acfire.
My Twitter posts are much different than what you will find here. My tweets focus mainly on my social life and my thoughts on various social issues. I rarely post about technology or eBusiness. I do plan to take a more active effort and start writing again about business and technology on here.
I want to say thanks to everyone that used to read this blog regulary and asked me why I had stopped. It means you actually think that my posts are worthwhile. And I thank you for the encouragement!!
You may have noticed that I have not had a new post on my site since late last year. You may have also noticed duplicate posts for all my old postings. I had some serious issues with spam earlier this year and my attempt at custom spam filtering backfired and created havoc with WordPress. I was unable to publish my posts live all this time even though I continued writing. I finally reinstalled WordPress, cleaned up the blog, upgraded my plugins, and now everything is humming!! I have just now posted all my saved drafts!
I’ve recently started looking at jQuery as a replacement for the Prototype/Scriptaculous solution we have been using the last couple of years. My main reason for going this route is the great plugin repository for jQuery that has a ton of ready to use “widgets”. I’m also in need of a data grid for a redesign of an application I am working on. I have yet to find a decent solution using Prototype/Scriptaculous.
I just got back from attending the second day at the Apple World Wide Developer’s Conference. Due to an extremely busy week, this is the only day I can make it out. It looks like the iPhone 3G hype is in over drive!! I can’t wait myself to get one! It is very cool stuff. The developer community is just buzzing with excitement and ideas for native apps.
At some of the networking events, I got a chance to speak with several developers who have already built prototype applications using the SDK. What I found interesting is the number of developers that recently came over to iPhone development from Facebook development. When I asked why, I was unanimously given some type of response of failed monetization and the dominance of just a few players in the Facebook world. I thought this was really interesting and backed up some of the “Facebook backlash” you hear about in the blogshere.
It has been two weeks now since I purchased a “slice” form Slicehost and I can’t be more happier. If you don’t already know Slicehost is a VPS hosting provider that gained quite a bit of popularity in the Rails community when they first launched. I also believe they are one of the first hosting providers to run off a virtualized infrastructure using Zen. I decided to use Slicehost for a small personal project as my Rackspace account is currently handling several Rails development sites. The pricing as you can see on their site, their pricing is excellent and their management tools simple and easy to use. The hosting itself has been better than expected and performance good for a VPS. What has impressed me the most is their community which can be leveraged for help and support. Their Wiki is just amazing. There is so much rich content and “How To” guides that even a beginner in system administration can get their web server set up in 2-3 hours. Slicehost is a model of how setting up a proper support community with good tools and skilled moderators can greatly offset traditional support costs!!
This was my second year in a row at Web 2.0 Expo and this year was even better than last year. The parties were infinity better (thought not ad:tech caliber). :)
I tell everyone that this is probably one of the best events for people in the Internet space. This conference has something for everyone from developers, designers, marketers, founders, and VCs. For me this is a yearly staple. As long as I am in San Francisco, I plan to attend this event every spring. There was a lot of great sesssions, but below are highlights of what I thought were the three best sessions.
Why Your Start-up Needs an Automated Infrastructure
This was the third best presentation of the conference. Adam Jacobs of HJK Solutions showed how a startup or small company can leverage the Amazon EC2 cloud to create a virtual infrastructure to help scale sites/applications. In addition he showed best practices in setting up the infrastructure for such things as version control, monitoring, trending, and deployment. You can view his presentation here.
Startup Metrics 101: Product & Marketing Workshop
This was the second best presentation of the conference. The reason is that one of the panelists, Dave McClure is a walking wealth of knowledge. He is a KILLER presenter! Hiten Shah of CrazyEgg also gave a look of good insights. In addition the second half of this session the panelists conducted an interactive audit of the websites for any audience member that wanted to participate. All the panelists were very generous with their time and I believe that every single audience member who asked for an audit got one! You can view their presentation here.
Web 2.0 Product Management
Easily the best presentation of the conference. Dan Olsen gave a truly amazing presentation of product management tactics in a Web 2.0 world. There was a lot of original thought put into his presentation which resulted in giving the audience an exceptional playbook for the future of web product management. You can view his presentation here.
I just attended my first ad:tech conference this past week in San Francisco. I had heard a lot of good things about this conference from others and I can definitely say that it lived up to the hype for me. Web advertising and revenue is not in something I began my career doing, but something I have taken a lot of interest in over the past couple years. Several of the sessions provided me with a lot of great information. Unfortunately I was unable to attend the first day, but I made it to the other two days. Here are some highlights of my favorite sessions.
Tactical Search: Local & Mobile Search
This panel focused on the growth of mobile and local search. Apparently over 70% of a person’s disposable income is spent within a 20 mile radius of their home. This creates a huge opportunity for local search especially with ad inventory tools getting more granular with their ability to regionalize ads. The mobile aspect has even larger potential with the release of more and more GPS enabled mobile devices open to third party developers.
Consumer Insights I: Leading Marketers Share Their Vision
The most interesting fact to come out of this was that Amazon.com sells most of their flat panel HDTVs the 2-3 weeks prior to the SuperBowl…..with the majority coming from mobile devices! This shows that many people are most likely going to brick and mortar retailers while comparison shopping on their mobile device and subsequently ordering from Amazon.com. I thought this was extremely telling. Other predictions from the panel included more targeted ads based on profile/personality matching, brand awareness through community engagement, growth of the mobile web, and continued struggle within social networks.
The Art of Persuasion: The New Laws of eCommerce Marketing
This session focused on the continued growth of online/mobile buying and the new rules for taking a customer through a sales process. A big topic here was the increase in use of comparison shopping engines and the need to differentiate your product not just by price but by the eCommerce experience. Another key point of discussion was that a ratings/review system is now viewed as a must for any eCommerce site with a large product offering. Finally the use of online video to provide additional product information was highly encouraged by all panelists.
It has been a while since I have dealt with this, but we are in the process of converting an old Zope based site to run on a Ruby on Rails architecture. The old site stores all user profile images as blobs in the database. Going forward I was not sure if I wanted to keep this method for maintaining profile images or just keep a pointer to the image in the database and store the actual image in the filesystem. Here is what I came up with from reading, talking to friends, and recalling my long past experiences with this.
In the end we went with keeping a pointer to the image location in the database and keeping the actual image in the filesystem.
I just finished up a very good book called Breakthrough Business Development by Duncan Macpherson & David Miller. This book really focuses on the client management process and growing your business. This book is really intended for professionals that deal with client service such as financial advisors, attorneys, contractors, consultants, etc.
Though a lot of this is really common sense, it is something a lot of business owners seem to dump to bottom of the pile when it comes to running a business. The authors really drill home the concept of operating procedure manuals, maintaining a “roledex” to create more intimacy in client interaction, building a referral pipeline within your client base, the 80/20 rule when it comes to expansion, goal setting, and slew of other obvious but normally overlooked tips.
What I really liked is the authors use of easy to remember acronyms that emphasize their ideas of best practices and their concepts around creating organizational accountability. Give it a read and you should be able to pull some great ideas for yourself.
I have just finished the final touches on a user survey for a large enterprise web application that I help manage. This application has not had a user survey in two years and I’m looking forward to seeing the differences between our assumptions and the actual practice of our user community.
Here are some tips when conducting a user survey: