Monthly Archives: June 2006

Cocktail Naplin to Startup (DIY Part Ten)

This is part nine of a series of posts describing how we are taking an idea from a cocktail napkin and putting into the real world. Start now, or read along from the start with: part one, part two, part three, part four, part five, part six, part seven, part eight and part nine.

Now that our plugin is almost completed (still waiting on Ryan King to bless the markup) we need to finish the hResume ping server. Ping servers are normally associated with blog authoring tools that automatically ‘ping’ a server with an XML-RPC signal. That ‘ping’ server then generates a list of blogs that have new material and distributes that information to various search engines and web-services. We plan to use the same idea for microformats.

Last year we built a ping server for Weblogs Work clients called QwikPing. It is based on Matt Mullenweg’s RSS Ping Version 1.0 standard. Our plan is to hire a coder (on contract) to reskin the QwikPing code to accept pings from our hResume plugins. The URI of our non-existant hResume Ping Server is already baked into each plugin. Each time an hResume is created or updated our servers will be aware of it. We can then pass that data along to anyone who would be interested that someone updated their resume. Below is the wireframe:

Cockatil Napkin to Startup (DIY Part Nine)

This is part nine of a series of posts describing how we are taking an idea from a cocktail napkin and putting into the real world. Start now, or read along from the start with: part one, part two, part three, part four, part five, part six, part seven and part eight.

Tantek had referred me to Andy Clarke (superstar designer from the UK and Microformats expert) to review our hResume markup.  I added Andy to the Basecamp site for hReview and indicated that each coder should show him their markup once it was completed for comment and correction.  I was paying Andy for two hours of work (via Amazon gift card – note to self I need to actually send it) and I made this clear to each coder.  Evidently one of the coders was excited to work with Andy and starting asking him about all of his code and his markup.  Andy, being a nice guy, just went forward and worked with him 1, 2, 3 and then 4 hours later Andy mentioned on the Basecamp site that we were really racking up the hours and fees!  Ouch!  He had not even looked at anyone’s hResume markup and we had blown our budget (Andy is not cheap).

Fortunately, Ryan King agreed to take a look at the markup and made a few suggestions.  We are down to one coder now.  One of the coders, the one who could not get the plugin to create a new page, decided he had worked long enough and felt we were still obligated to pay for the plugin regardless of whether or not it worked.  The good news is that one of the coders got the plugin done, exactly like my wireframe, and we are currently waiting on Ryan to review the markup to release it.

We started the coders on May 17th and were told that it would take no more than a week, but finally on June 29th we have a plugin that works!  Now we just need to get similar plugins developed for MT and SquareSpace, launch the ping server and start/finish the resume site.  Wonder when we will get done?

Cocktail Napkin to Startup (DIY Part Eight)

This is part eight of a series of posts describing how we are taking an idea from a cocktail napkin and putting into the real world. Start now, or read along from the start with: part one, part two, part three, part four, part five, part six and part seven.

Prong one of our strategy to build an hResume plugin was well underway, but taking much longer than we had assumed. Most of this is my fault, as I have a real job running Spur. I was in San Francisco to present PodServe at Under the Radar and we got a chance to meet with Tantek and Ryan at Technorati to talk about the project. We recorded the discussion, check it out:

Updating Ryan & Tantek On Our hResume Work

Cocktail Napkin to Startup (DIY Part Seven)

This is part seven of a series of posts describing how we are taking an idea from a cocktail napkin and putting into the real world. Start now, or read along from the start with: part one, part two, part three, part four, part five, and part six.

Our three-pronged project was progressing well:

  • Prong I: hResume plugin development (two developers working on a WordPress plugin) to allow WordPress users to create a resume on their blog using the hResume Microformat (the plan is to build MovableType and other plugins after we finish the first WP plugin).
  • Prong II: Launch an XML-RPC ping server (refactored QwikPing) for the hResume Microformat.  (each plugin would ping the hResume ping server each time the markup was created to modified).
  • Prong III: Launch a skill or resume website using 37 Signals methodology (we may have found someone to help build this site – will know early next week).

In part six I posted the front and back wireframe that I slapped together using Adobe Illustrator.  Ironically, when each coder delivered their version of the plugin I was shocked to realize that neither one followed the wireframe.  Evidently my specification document was not clear.  One of the plugin’s wouldn’t even create a resume page on the blog (you would have to manually create the page and do some coding to point your markup – nightmare!).  The other coders plugin worked, but didn’t follow my wireframe.

While I was working on getting each coder to get their versions either working or looking like my wireframe, I contacted Tantek at Technorati and asked him for a referral to someone who could help look over their hResume markup.  He suggested that we work with Andy Clarke (a superstar designer and Microformats expert) to review our coders hResume markup.  Next we had a conference call with Ryan King (the author of the original hResume markup) to make sure he was okay that we were using the name hResume for the plugin – he had no problem with our plans and offered to help!

Should I be annoyed?

Earlier today I noticed an incoming link to the Architel site from Sublime Fish. I clicked on it and was shocked by the similarities to our site. After looking at the page source it was clear the company ‘lifted’ our design and didn’t bother to even remove the references to the Architel site from the theme. Is it right that I am annoyed?

We paid quite a bit to superstar designer Dan Cederholm to design the site. In the markup Jonathan Fox takes credit for the design and even go so far as to claim a copyright on it. Jonathan’s company is called Sublime Fish, but as I understand that definition of the word: “of high spiritual, moral or intellectual worth” he is not so sublime in my book.

Update: Jonathan Fox commented on my flickr picture and here on this post that a friend of his had used Dan’s design and code and that he was not responsible.  He took down the site today and all is well in the world.  Jonathan is angry that I posted a blog and flickr entry on this topic and I can certainly understand.  But, I think he should focus his upset at his “friend” instead of me.

Open your home Wi-Fi network now!

Tom Espiner from CNET asks, “Does Wi-Fi security matter?” At the end of the day if you are depending on WEP to keep your home network secure you are making a mistake. WEP provides a false sense of security for most people. You need to secure your devices (i.e. your computers) not necessarily your network. Go ahead and open up your network and let the world in, it is the friendly way. The exception being if you live in a high density location like an apartment where your connection might be over saturated.

Idea Grove – Snarkiest PR firm in Dallas!

Texas Startup Profile in the Texas Startup Blog!
My daily blog reading includes the Idea Grove’s Media Orchard Blog.  The Idea Grove is a ‘strategic public relations firm’ as Scott Baradell explains.  If you were to ask me what Dallas PR firm gets social media (besides our own social media company) I would point you to Idea Grove and Scott’s team.  Until 2004 Scott was the VP of corporate communications for Belo (Texas based media empire – NYSE:BLC).  Put the Media Orchard in your reader and let me know what you think about Scott and his company.

Writing about failure . . .

Brad Feld is, “Talking About Failure” on his blog and noting that “very few people ever talk about failure” in the context of venture capital and entrepreneur blogs.  Brad encouraged fellow entrepeneurs to talk more about failures and I commented that I had blogged about my own failures in a post titled, “LayerOne: My Biggest Failure!” and a follow-up post titled, “Best Corporate Turnaround: LayerOne.

Scoble is right, podcasting is inefficient!

I agree with Peter and Robert when they say, “podcasting is inefficient.“  You may be shocked to hear me agree since we have our own podcasting business (PodServe) as well as Robert who just joined a podcasting company.

I am subscribed to several podcasts myself, but I rarely have time to listen to them.  They just sit on my iPod and I never hear them.  So for me, podcasting does not work for casual listening.  There are a few podcasts I do listen to.  The main one is our weekly sales call, our sales people use PodServe to record their conference calls and automatically upload them into a podcast feed.  Each salesperson has access to the feed so if they miss the meeting they can catch up and then use PodServe’s podcall function to call the system and insert an update into the feed.  I can insert comments into the feed as well, providing feedback, suggestions and praise.  Podcasting for sales teams can work much better than a traditional conference call bridge – adding intelligence to a recording (i.e. ownership rights, authorship rights, xml feed and telephone integration) is a smarter way to work.
I am most excited about the ability to merge telephony and podcasting for business uses – i.e. Enterprise 2.0 use cases such as:

Podcasting for Social Media Consultants
Our year-old social media business, Weblogs Work, needed a way to easily host and create feeds for its client’s podcasts.  Our developers built the precursor to PodServe to make it easy for anyone confused by FTP and XML to get their podcast up and running fast.  Anyone on the Weblogs Work team can create a podcast in about 10 minutes using PodServe.
Podcasting for Support Systems
Architel, our IT support company, uses a network management system to generate server and network alerts via email and RSS.  Podcall’s text-to-voice feature grabs each RSS feed from the management system, determines which technicians should be notified and begins calling each engineer and relaying the alert in a simulated human voice.  The team also uses PodServe to host their internal audio and video training.
Podcasting for Schools
High schools and colleges can use private label PodServe to offer their teachers and professors the ability to record lecture content and additional information for their students.  Today, Purdue has more than 70 classrooms wired to record lectures and more than 60 courses have regular podcasts.  PodServe can allow any university or high school enter the social media space.  Our group and public podcasting features can allow for multilateral communication between students.  Combined with our Podcall features any student with a cell phone can participate.
Podcasting for Hosting Companies
Web hosting companies can offer private label podcast hosting using PodServe to increase revenue or to differentiate their service offering.  For example, Verio now offers standard shared hosting clients access to hosted podcasts via the Verio customer control panel at no additional cost.  With PodServe any large or small web hosting provider can offer the same service with their own custom control panel.  Combined with Podcall, web hosting companies can offer creation tools for any of their users who have access to a telephone.
Podcasting for Television
A popular television series is working with us to private label PodServe to allow their viewers to call in to hear specific messages and generate content to be distributed via various podcasts.  We are customizing PodServe’s Podcall IVR functionality to allow for user interaction with show content and user generated responses to that content available for other users via iTunes.

Clearly, this has turned into a sales post about PodServe so I will continue by explaining how PodServe’s Podcall feature works and what features it offers:  Podcall allows PodServe users to easily create recordings for inclusion within PodServe created and hosted podcasts.  Podcall is a a multiprotocol PBX on Linux integrated into PodServe.  Based on Asterisk, Podcall is a complete PBX that provides all of the features you would expect from a PBX and more.  Podcall does voice over IP in many protocols, and interoperates with all standards-based telephone equipment.  Podcall provides a gateway to PodServe from inbound phone lines, outbound phone lines or conference bridges.

Features include:  Automated Attendant, Blacklists, Call Detail Records, Call Forward on Busy, Call Forward on No Answer, Call Forward Variable, Call Monitoring, Call Recording, Call Retrieval, Conference Bridging, Fax Transmit and Receive, Interactive Voice Response, Predictive Dialer, Route by Caller ID, SMS Messaging, Spell / Say, Talk Detection, Text-to-Speech, Graphical Call Manager, Outbound Call Spooling, and TCP/IP Management Interface.

Requirements:  Our standard Podcall install requires an additional server (Dell PowerEdge SC1425 – $1,527 recommended).  Digital phone service is provided by Teliax (8 unlimited lines are included in base rate).  Additional lines may be added for $10 per line per month.  Outbound international calls are included at no additional rates to 90% of the planet (list of covered number:  PodServe with Podcall includes 4mpbs of IP transit (additional bandwidth available at $90/meg/month).

Automattic’s WordPress Support Network

Spur News Post in the Texas Startup Blog!

Automattic has announced the Automattic Support Network for WordPress.  The Weblogs Work team has began working with Toni Schneider and Matt Mullenweg on ways to for our firm to provide professional services to Automattic’s clients.  We believe that Automattic’s offering combined with offerings from companies like Weblogs Work make WordPress the platform of choice for enterprise blogging.

The Weblogs Work team is in talks with Automattic to become one of their recommended professional service providers for integration, development and marketing support for WordPress.  Our organization is increasingly being recognized for its unique combination of marketing (social media focus) and technology.  Very few organizations can help you understand the if’s and why’s of social media as well as the technical how’s.