I Love Our Alpha Users

Coming up with an idea for a software product and trying to make it a reality are scary, difficult, and above all lonely undertakings. It’s easy to become discouraged. I’d like to say that the early users of oponia’s ucaster have been a pleasure and an inspiration and have made it all worthwhile. They’ve come up with great suggestions; patiently helped us track down problems; and provided encouragement and positive feedback that have really lifted everyone’s spirits on many occassions. Some have even volunteered to help with enhancements!

To all our early users I just want to say a very heartfelt “Thank you!” Your support has been–and continutes to be–invaluable to the whole team and we really can’t thank you enough.

“What’s Your Excuse, Mr. Gore?”

Despite my plea of poverty I broke down a bought Gore’s “Assault on Reason” (it was on sale!) The overwhelming feeling it left me with was: if this man refuses to run for the Presidency of the United States in 2008, what excuse could he possibly give?

After arguing that America desperately needs a return to reason in politics and public discourse; after proving he can win a Presidential election; after demonstrating his ability to communicate with and motivate large and diverse sections of American society; and being the only potential candidate with serious qualifications for the job… would it not be cowardly to decline?

It’s never really possible to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, and US Presidential politics is a vicious and dangerous sport, but… I have to wonder: if I knew I might be able to make such a dramatic difference to a country and to a planet, would I not feel a powerful obligation to try? What kind of person would I be if I just walked away?

I wish I knew what was going through that man’s mind! The most I can do is sincerely wish all the best of luck to those US citizens and groups working hard to “draft” Gore into running. It’s not just America that needs a rational and passionate leader. The whole world is pining for someone to step up and cut through the bull****. Maybe he’s not the person for the job but since no one else is exactly looking good for it either, what is there to lose?

Is FeedBurner Having Scaling Problems?

The last few days, when I log in to check my feed usage, FeedBurner tells me how many subscribers I have but claims I had no item views and no item clicks the previous day. Some indeterminate time later in the day the real stats magically appear. Are they having trouble completing the “big crunch” in the time between midnight (I assume PST) and my EST morning?

Maybe I’m just paranoid, but… it seems every time Google buys someone, they simultaneously start having scaling difficulties. The question is: is it a chicken thing, or an egg thing? Do companies that get to a size where scaling is becoming a problem become natural targets for Google acquisition? Or does getting bought by Google bring you the kiss of death, scaling-wise (just look at Blogger?)

File this under baseless rumours, if you like. We’ll see what happens as time goes on.

Update: I actually received an email from someone at Google about this (sorry for the delay in posting the update, but I don’t often read that email account). I won’t repeat it in full, but suffice it to say that there is a “big crunch” (as the writer calls it: “nightly roll-ups”) which begin at midnight Central time and last a few hours. It has apparently always been thus. However, I still don’t see my stats until about 10-11 am EST, which is different than before, so I guess I’ll have to report that as… an issue. Though not, I assume, anything to do with Google. :-)

Lowering the Barriers to Web Citizenship

Leigh will have plenty to say later on about why we’re so stoked about our new product, ucaster. But first I want to say a little bit about why we built the tecnhnology behind the product in the first place.

In a nutshell, it just bugged me that every computer and every device was not actually a node on the Web. Despite the fact that personal computers in particular are more than powerful enough to act as web servers, the physical and logical topology of the Interent as deployed relegates most devices to being web clients only.

The Web 2.0 phenomenon has improved the capabilities of lowly web-clients, allowing them to contribute content as well as consume it. This is a great thing, and I don’t mean any insult by saying that by itself it just isn’t enough.

I wanted a Web that was end-to-end. Where every device could provide as well as consume web services and content. Where every shared resource had a resolvable URL.

Just because your laptop or your phone don’t have the full power and connectivity of the “great server cloud in the sky” there’s still plenty you can do with them if they’re able to join the network in an active capacity.

So that’s what we set out to do. Our first product, ucaster, is intended to be the easiest method ever invented for publishing your own content on the web. If you can drag files from one folder to another, you’re an expert user already. There are no servers in between you and your friends (or colleagues) with web browsers viewing your content. We don’t upload anything anywhere, we don’t replicate anything anywhere. You own your own stuff. You control who sees it and when. We’re just flinging packets around to make that possible.

I hope you enjoy the freedom. We certainly do.

Cross-posted from the official oponia networks blog

“I Didn’t Know Canada Had An Army”

It’s Memorial Day in the U.S.. A time when many reflect on the sacrifices made by soldiers past and present. Recently, a nice young American man said to me “I didn’t know Canada had an army!” as we were discussing Canada’s role in Afghanistan. We had a laugh about it but it brought special poignancy to something General Romeo Dallaire’s father told him when he went off to begin his military career at eighteen: “I should never expect to be thanked; a soldier, if he was going to be content, had to understand that no civilian, no government, sometimes not even the army itself, would recognize the true nature of the sacrifices he made.”

Maybe that’s one of the things that makes service men and women so special: that they somehow manage to find fulfillment in what must surely be the most thankless job on Earth.

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