@madpilot makes

I didn’t get the meme-o

Finally, some kind souls have cared enough to tag me with the blog equivalent of a chain letter (or maybe that is the web equivalent of Amway) – the “8 things you didn’t know about me” meme. Rules are, you tell eight things about yourself that the web doesn’t know, then make eight others do the same. So….

  1. I have dual passports, one Australian and one Greek, even though my paternal grandparents are Macedonian and my father and I were born in Australia. I’m not sure how this could happen, although I’m sure goats changed hands. There was also a possibility that if I ever went to Greece (nope, never been) that I would get thrown in the Army to do national service, although I think my Dedo (grandad) paid me out of it. Viva la corruption.
  2. I started MadPilot Productions when I was 18 with my two best mates (and ex-housemates) Andrew and David. The Mad bit refers to our initials and I can’t remember where the Pilot bit came from. Andrew went on to become a lawyer and is now in his final year of musical theatre at WAAPA, and David is a reporter for the ABC, after graduating from WAAPA. I once went to WAAPA to watch someone give a recital.
  3. Myself, Andrew and David once won the Hammarskjold trophy – which is a mock UN Security Council debate for high school students. Our school had been trying to win it for ages – and the other teams we had entered had been together for two or three years, and had been training for months. The three of us were recruited the week before, stayed up until 3am the morning of as our preparation, and still to this day have absolutely no idea what we did or how we did it. I think this is completely representative of the real UN security council.
  4. MadPilot once did work for 96FM (a local radio station), on a promotion hilariously called Cunning Stunts. It was at this point I got to live out my childhood dream of riding in a Black Thunder drinking an Icy cold can of Coke, whilst listening to Triple J.
  5. I have an unnatural facination with late 80s sitcoms. I have many theme songs in my MP3 collection and own two seasons of the Golden Girls on DVD. My favourite 80s trival fact is that Estelle Geddy holds the record for playing the same character (Sophia Petrillo) in the most amount of shows (5: Golden Girls, Golden Palace, Empty Nest, Nurses and Blossom).
  6. I once did a fifteen hour stint at Little Creature Brewery in Fremantle. The only rules were weren’t allowed to leave the premises. We got there at 9am, had the first beer at 10am (It would have been 9am, but we didn’t realise that served beer that early) and had out last drink at midnight. we only got one free beer, despite spending over $600 between the three of us.
  7. I’ve never climbed a tree.
  8. My mum would never let me watch The Simpsons as a child. As a result, I own series 1-8 on DVD. Despite this child abuse, I picked up many Simpsons quotes from those more fortunate than I at school and have recently realised that pretty much everything I’ve ever said that is mildly witty was some sort of Simpsons quote.

Ok. Now to pass this thing on (I don’t want any fairies dying)

Hot or Not

Call it lazy blogging, but the beginning of a new year is a perfect opportunity to write a list post. I’m not going to call the list below predictions for 2008 as there is absolutely no scientific basis for any of this, so I’m calling it Hot or Not – stuff that I think/want to be hot in 2008 and stuff that I would love to see head to the big TCP/IP stack in the sky.

OAuth: Hot. Anything that brings some sort of order to the big bad world of web APIs is a good thing. If you haven’t seen it yet, it is a specification that describes a method for token-based access to third party applications. So now there is really no excuse for that confounding social network to ask for your usernames and passwords to all of your other confounding social networking sites, just so it can spam have access to all of your friends.

Confounding Social Network sites: Not. OK. That is enough. I am over been bamboozed at the sight of another social network that has no direction, meaning or business model. The concept behind a social network is cool – we used to call them forums, remember – but it is now officially out of control. To the “entrepreneurs” behind them – stop trying to kill Facebook, they have more money than you and careless less about their users than you ever could (Exception: Spock – You are still Satan’s spawn).

Software as a Service: Hot. It’s kinda like Web2.0 but this time with meaning. Bring back computing to what it was meant for – helping humans to do what they do. The web is the perfect delivery method for a lot of the desktop software we use everyday. Google has already shown us what can be done with apps like GMail and Google Docs and there is a myriad of web applications that have made the leap (If I can build one, anyone can). Pay for what you use, don’t worry about license fees any more, don’t worry about what happens when you hard drive crashes, or about deploying to all 500 machines in your organisation.

Advertising as a Business Mode: Not. The darling child of Web2.0/New Media/Social Networks. Unless your site is already doing the traffic of Google/YouTube/Facebook or your are a porn site, go and erase the “we will pay for our hosting via advertising” line from you business plan. Seconds thoughts, if you are Facebook, you should probably do the same (Nice work on beacon – at what point did that actually seem like a good idea?). Advertising only works if there is eyeballs a LOT of eyeballs on pages and if your target audience is the type that clicks on ads. And since every man and his dog has released a social network this week, you aren’t a unique snowflake. Get a real business plan first.

Mashups: Hot. Yeah, I know – these have been around since the first beta of Web 2.0 but it has never really extended much beyond adding a Google Map to your site. I think 2008 and will see some really cool productivity apps built leveraging the webservices of other web sites. I think that it may even spill over in to the corporate world – I’d love to see company intranets using webservices to customise workflows.

Getting VC funding then hoping to sell to <insert large company name here>: Not. Now, I have no problem with the concept of funding, or the hopes and dreams of having a large company with a bank balanace bigger than your phone number (including country and area code) throw you some bones, per se. Where I do draw the line, however is pitching with a business plan that can’t really pay back a return to the investor unless the business get bought out. Mind you, the investors really should know better – or maybe they are just much smarter than I am, who knows. Regardless, when this whole thing collapses in on it’s self, I’ll be dancing like it is on sale for $19.99…

Mobile: Hot. This is the next frontier for the web. Everyone has a mobile (some people two or three) and they are generally on their person at all times. Extend the SaaS idea to these small devices and you really will be able to get your stuff done when it suits. Again, this isn’t new, but there have been some advancements in technology and some new players who understand the web much better (that’s Google if you were wondering). I think 2008 is the year that see the mobile platform as a first-class netizen rather than something that the work experience kid gets to work on.

Using user data with out permission: Not: You would have by now seen my (MANY) rants about Spock and Facebook. Those playing in the dirty, back alleyways of social networking really need to take a long hard look at themselves. It’s my data, and I’d prefer it if you didn’t sell my browsing habits to the highest bigger. And don’t even think about scraping my data from other sites without my permission – they asked nicely, you didn’t.

Company-as-a-Service: Hot. Haven’t heard of this? That’s because I just made it up. We have seen Software-as-a-Service, Hardware-as-a-Service (eg Amazon EC2), so why not have have companies that can shrink, grow and churn as required? There are so many freelancers and consultants out there, as well as a huge number of micro businesses. If they all grouped together, they would be able to work on sites ranging from the very-very big to the very-very small. Many places kind of do this already (this is why contracting was invented) but I can see this working in a more peer-to-peer sort of way – you aren’t contracting for someone, you are contracting with someone (there is a remarkable difference).

New years lists: Not.

Leave a comment – Is this Hot or Not ;)

What the hell has happened to the Internet

I love the Internet – I live and breathe it everyday. It is arguably the biggest triumph of this century – never before has so much information been so readily available, no to mention the ability to contact and converse with people from all over the world with in just a few mouse clicks.

So why is this current “social networking” trend pissing me off so much?

I realise that when you spend so much time on the ‘net, your life is basically out there for all to see – google my name and there is a shit load of stuff out there. THIS DOESN’T MEAN YOU CAN USE IT FOR OWN DEVIOUS PURPOSES. Today, someone added my to their “trust” network on a site called Spock. From what I can gather (and I’m not sure – the details of the site are pretty thin) it scrapes the Internet for information about you and tries to build a profile of who you are associated with, what you do and how many porn sites you visit. What the fuck? If I wanted to all of my information on one site I would create some sort of webpage- Oh hang on, I ALREADY HAVE ONE. And guess what? The information on my website (let’s call it a blog) is the information that I WANT TO RELEASE. I mean seriously. So some muppet on a website makes a comment about you at some point and all of a sudden it is on an aggregation site for all of your other (probably legitimate) friends to see.

Of course, Spock isn’t the first website to try to cash in on utilising your information for their obvious financial gain (C’mon, you think they are doing this for fun? Web 2.0 isn’t about bringing people together anymore) – Facebook managed to see the dollar signs embedded in your personal information with Beacon. Why does Facebook or Spock think that have the right to analyse my shopping habits from other sites? Look, my hatred for Facebook is pretty well known – it does a brilliant job of allowing you to contact long lost school buddies, but that isn’t what it is being used for anymore, which brings my to the guts of this rant.

Take your mind back 18 months – blogs started to take off, flickr was starting become mainstream, Facebook was still limited to people at Harvard, people on the web, knew about the web – they were happier times. People were hungry for knowledge, there was exciting stuff happening, because a lot of the stuff that the average web developer uses everyday was bleeding edge. AJAX was impressive, we would marvel at the tech behind Meebo and would boggle our minds at Google ability to find us stuff and Techcrunch was actually relevent.

Now, it is all about how much angel funding you get on your second round of VC. Oh, what’s that? You’ve burnt the GDP of a small country on a free social network site that takes websites and translates them in to an ancient Hindu language? Oh, now your investors are asking for a return – advertising not working for you? Well go and sell some user data. Your users won’t mind, especially if they don’t know about it. For fuck’s sake. I’m not an economist, but last time I checked, you need a freaking revenue stream to make money. And if I have to hear about another startup that is counting on click-throughs to cover their $10,000 a month hosting bill, I’m going to hit someone – probably the person that is asking for it to be developed.

However! These leeches aren’t the solely responsible promoting the stereotype that skinning some tables based forums package, adding a rounded corner and gradient will make you a bazillion dollars – if people didn’t get sucked in to these sites, then these people would be pumping their business-plan creating time into something else – probably spam. Which brings me to the awful realisation that we, much like the way Viagra emails are an everyday part of ourlives, will just have to put up with this crap until the Internet self-implodes under the bloat of another loser posting a video diary to Seesmic under the misconception that anyone cares.

I for one, will be quite happy to un-subscribe from all this bullshit and get back to making sites that help people to makes their lives easier. Let’s bring the web back to the people, not to the wallets of fly-by-nighters that are just out to make a quick buck.

Wishing you all a good break

If Gary’s latest blog post is anything to go by (and I’m living it, so I know he is right), we are all still cranking along at an insane rate of knots, even with the silly season looming. Well, I lucky enough to be heading over to Sydney for a couple of weeks of R & R – sure I’ve managed to setup a couple of business meeting to ensure the trip is a tax write-off, but beyond that I will be trying with all my might to revive my exhausted mind.

Next year is promising to be just as nuts, with a couple of super secret projects on the boil as well as a number of client jobs in the pipeline. Watch this space for a couple of new Rails plugins that I’ve been working on, as well as some crazy experiments that are nearly ready for the world to see.

So on that less-than-descriptive note – have a happy <insert your particular December holiday> and a rocking new year!

Oh, and if you are in Sydney and want to catch up, drop me an email! See you on the flip side.

I prefer begin called a geek, but what the hey…

Anyone that has to interact with geeks/nerds/sith masters – PLEASE READ THIS FIRST.

Absolute gold. Scarily true.

See you facebook. Thanks for the spam

Goodbye facbookI have given facebook a chance – longer than most web apps. Hell, so many of my peers use it, surely I just haven’t had that gotcha moment that will make me become addicted it. Nope. Sorry. I still don’t see the point – oh, other than allowing people to spam their friends with pointless “applications”.

So it is today that I bid you adieu. It’s been a gas.


Edit: Fix typos – thanks to all that pointed them out :P

Facebook suicide pact

Ok, for all those who are sick to the teeth of getting spammed by your friends by “applications” on Facebook, I propose a mass Facebook Hari-kari tomorrow.

When: 28/09/2007 at 5pm Australian Eastern Standard Time (+10GMT).

The steps are simple.

  1. Login to your soon to be defunked Facebook account
  2. Click “accounts”
  3. Click “de-activate account”
  4. Revel in the fact that you are making the web a better place to be.

Pass this on to friends.

Rails were rumbled. Voting starts tomorrow

There is something obtusely magnificent about locking away geeks for long periods of time, giving them a laptop and a kick-arse framework and leaving them up to their own devices – which is what Jordan Brock, Matt Didcoe and myself did last weekend for Rails Rumble ’07.

The idea is simple – You have 48 hours to create an entire website in the ever so beautiful Ruby on Rails framework. Because the competition was run out of the US and because we have real jobs/school to go to, we only ended up with 36 hours, but we didn’t let that deter us. The result? Sandwich – a recipe sharing site. During that time, we managed to product a site with friending, tagging, bookmarking and recipe parsing which is no mean feat – I dare anyone to do it in another language in that time frame.

Part of the competition is the community judging, so help a brother out and head over to our voting page and throw us a few votes – you can make a difference in the lives of three hapless codies. Go on. I’ll wait… While you are there, go check out some of the other great entries, but don’t vote for them, because you are voting for u, remember? :)

It was a really fun weekend – it was great to kick out some great code with great peeps over a stupidly short time frame. We must do it again sometime.

Are you ready to RUMBLE!

This weekend Jordan, Matt and myself will be participating in w. Rails Rumble is an international geekfest where you have 48 hours to develop a Ruby on Rails application. We are at a bit of a disadvantage because of the timezone issues mean that we really only have 36 hours (We have to do some real work on Monday you know!).

We will be building a top secret social network, so watch this space as we post updates of our progress!

This is me, I work on the Web

Whilst we are on the topic of memes, I’ve just posted my “This is me, I work on the Web” meme post on Flickr. If you work on the web, I would do the same – just remember to tag it with I work on the web.

This is me, I work on the Web

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