Monthly Archives: October 2006

One year later: Slingbox for Mac

I bought my Slingbox more than a year ago without realizing it didn’t support OSX. Finally, the public beta Slingbox client is available for download here. Now where did I put the Slingbox… [update: I can’t get it to work – will pay someone to set it up.  Had our guys out to my house and they can’t figure it out…HELP!!!] (more…)

1000 Lbs Web Hosting Gorilla: Amazon? you are in the hosting business I would look over your shoulder, because your favorite bookseller is making big wins in the web hosting business.  What?  Yes, Amazon is really making an impact in the space and big hosting companies are starting to feel it.  We are incorporating their services in EVERYTHING we are doing.  The Amazon web services products (Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud – EC2 and Amazon S3) are built for the little guy AND the big guy.

For the Small Guy:  I like to call Amazon’s web services “zero point capital” for startups.  For no money (i.e. the zero point) you can build as many servers as your web application needs ~ your startup only pays when it uses Amazon’s computing resources (i.e. when you have users/customers).  I know of more than ten startups in Dallas that are using Amazon’s services as a way to start without spending any money on servers, bandwidth and colocation.  This is big.

For the Big Guy:  If your web service is successful, but need a quick way to scale Amazon is the perfect solution.  Architel was working with Linden Labs (Second Life) this summer to help them with a data center solution here in Dallas.  Working with PAIX/Switch & Data who would provide ping, power and pipe (i.e. the data center) the Architel team would provide the support.  Linden Labs planned to install one rack of servers each week for the foreseeable future.  Since we would be responsible for unpacking and installing each server we suggested they consider Amazon’s EC2 and S3 instead since we could support it just as easily.  Today Linden Labs uses Amazon for their client downloads (this is especially important when they update their client for all 1MM users).  Jeff explains how it is working:

In case you’re curious, we switched over halfway during release day; but even for the tail 8 hours of the download rush, we averaged roughly 70 gigabytes of viewer download per hour. Then it settled down to a relatively steady stream of about 20-30 gigabytes per hour. In the last 23 hours we’ve transferred a total of ~900 gigabytes so far- which I’d estimate to be around 30,000-38,000 downloads. This does not include the first several hours of the download rush, which are typically the highest.  In case you’re wondering how the client auto-updater works: it actually contacts the website for a special script, which finds the latest version, and then makes a request to download the file through HTTP, just like a regular web download. This is why the Amazon S3 switch is transparent, even to the auto-updater; when the auto-updater makes a request to get the file through HTTP, our website receives that says, “Aha! You really want to go to this Amazon S3 URL, here ya go.”

Flat Stanley’s 72 Hour Flickr Vacation

My son, Ethan, has a little school project to send Flat Stanley on a vacation.  I was supposed to mail Flat Stanley out a few weeks ago, but somehow the assignment slipped through the cracks.  I decided that instead of using the postal service to mail Stanley I would use Flickr.  I posted a hi-res scan of Flat Stanley here with instructions.

Not familiar with the Flat Stanley Project?  Learn more from the Wikipedia entry.

Perhaps you can help.  What do you do?  Download the hi-res version of Ethan’s Flat Stanley, print him out in color (he should be about 9 inches tall) and then take your photo with him (let us know in your email what you did).  Try to get something ‘iconic’ in the background so it is obvious where you are located.  Email it to me before Monday.  To make up for the fact that I sort of dropped he ball, I was hoping to surprise Ethan by sending his Flat Stanley worldwide.  Your help is appreciated.

Don’t skip the start! There is a Plan B.

Pascal said that things are always best at the beginning. I suspect he was referring to math problems, but I think it works for startups. Raising venture capital at the VERY start is like skipping high school and going directly to college. You get done quicker, but miss some of the most important learning.

Okay, so you drank the koolaid and raised capital from the best VC in town, but realized very quickly that you made a mistake. Which would you choose? Plan A: just keep trying to make it work (i.e. the never give up plan) or Plan B: buyout your VC and start building something great (i.e. the I am done with you guys plan).

If you are Ev Williams, the founder and CEO of Odeo (according to Valleywag), you choose Plan B. Ev is buying back the shares his investors (Charles River Ventures) bought when they funded Odeo. It helps that he sold his previous startup to Google (Blogger). Ev figured out that Odeo wasn’t figured out when iTunes launched their podcast directory in November 2005. He was in a pickle, but he was stuck with his venerable VC partner (for almost a year!). He didn’t take his own advice in a blog post he titled, “Ten Rules for Web Startups”. I wrote about it in a post titled “Be Narrow, Be Tiny”: Don’t Raise Money!!” ~ at least at the start…

So what is next? Ev has announced that his new company, Obvious Corp., will acquire the assets of Odeo and Twitter. Ev explains,

Obvious has purchased all the assets of Odeo, Inc.—including and from the investors and other shareholders and will continue to run these services. Obvious is fully funded by me and, eventually, will create other things, as well.

Conference of the week: AstriCon

Light posting week given the fact that the team is split between the Astricon Asterisk conference, Digital Hollywood and the Business Blogging Summit. The Asterisk conference is where I am at (with Alex Leverington). Asterisk HAS changed the telecom world forever ~ and we haven’t seen anything yet. More on Asterisk later! Here are photos from Astricon:

Astericon Astericon Astericon LumenVox DSC_0067.JPG Asterisk Mix Networks trixbox Asteria AAstra Grandstream PIKA Technologies DSC_0058.JPG DSC_0057.JPG ZOIPER DSC_0055.JPG Ranch Networks DSC_0053.JPG DSC_0052.JPG DSC_0051.JPG DSC_0050.JPG DSC_0049.JPG DSC_0048.JPG Digium Not at Odeo... trixbox Asterisk DSC_0041.JPG DSC_0040.JPG DSC_0038.JPG DSC_0037.JPG DSC_0036.JPG

Rails eating PHP’s lunch. . .

Robin Luckey at Ohloh says “PHP Eats Rails for Breakfast.”  Robin is right, but soon Rails will be eating PHP’s lunch.  As Robin points out in the following graph (via Brad Feld):


Lots of new PHP lines are being added each year, i.e. PHP has been dominating Python and Perl for some time, but in 2005 (the year Rails began) Rails came out of nowhere and showed up as a blip on the lines of code chart.   But as you see in the following graph the number of new project in rails three times as much as PHP, Python and Perl combined.  Whoa!


Brad Feld explains:

This was the chart I found really interesting.  Ruby is clearly the trendy new language.  Given normal supply / demand lags, you’d expect that this is a leading indicator of a significant uptick for Ruby on the other two charts in 2007.  My conclusion is different than Robin’s – while PHP appears to be dominant today, the rapid growth in new projects in Ruby indicates that it is currently positioned as “the language of the next wave of applications.”  This is consistent with what I’m hearing and seeing from many new startups.

Dallas INFOMART Booming!

Our primary offices are located in the INFOMART and Architel manages technology for the building’s owners, Palo Alto based DCI Technology.  The INFOMART is a 1.6 million square foot technology mecca located just on the edge of downtown Dallas.  Every major telecom provider has space within the building, not to mention several of the leading providers of hosting, colocation and managed services.

The new owners are investing millions in the building (everything from free wi-fi ~ provided by Architel, to a new health club).  The results of that investment are evident in the increased level of activity in the building.  Over the summer the building leased over 120,000 squre feet of space within building (including our own expansion).  Dan Shryer, in an interview with the Dallas Business Journal, explained,

“Most people saw it as an office building that has been through some bad times,” he said. “We saw its value in terms of replacement costs. It would take $350 million to $400 million to replace this building; we paid $102.5 million. When you add in the value of the data centers, it would probably push the replacement cost over $1 billion.”

John Hensley’s Fancast Interview

The Big in Japan fancast (a podcast by the fans of a show – in this case Nip/Tuck) is hitting its stride with the most recent interview with John Hensley.  In the first installment of the fancast Kelly Carlson was interviewed by five fans.  In my view it was annoying the way that all five questions were posed and then Kelly answered them all.  I thought it might be better if the system would have allowed Kelly to answer one question at a time and allow the recording to reflect one question, one answer in order until all five were answered.  This is how it worked this week with John Hensley’s interview.  Check it out here.

[pic via flickr, by john shields]

When big is good. . .

Dad is blogging (When it absolutely, positively needs to get to Siberia!) about a shipment he is making to Siberia using the world’s largest cargo plane.  How do you get half a million pounds of electronics across the planet in less than a week?  Evidently the only way to do it is using the Antonov An-225.  Oh and evidently Houston does not have a runway long enough to allow it to take off fully loaded (they are going to have to load the plane somewhere outside of Houston).  Sometimes bigger is the only way to go. . .

Most VC deals are now outside of Silicon Valley

Has anyone ever heard of the internet?  I hear it is changing things, making location not as important.  Fred Wilson commented on a meme that Paul Graham started titled, “Houston can kill your startup!”  Fred’s point?  More than two thirds of all venture capital dollars are spent on non-Silicon Valley startups.  Randall Stross with the New York Times suggested that more than half of all Web 2.0 deals were outside of the bay area.  Fred points out of the three biggest deals done during the past three years, Skype, MySpace and YouTube, only one of them was from the Valley.

I love the bay area and to a lesser extent Silicon Valley, but I realize that entrepreneurship is going global.  The internet, in all of its Web 2.0 glory, is removing the geographic barriers that have held back entrepreneurs, from places like Houston, for years.  There was a time when smug programmers sitting on Market Street could be sure they were on the bleeding edge of whatever they were working on.  Today they better look over their shoulders because there are thousands of smart, talented and connected people all over the world – from Bangalore to Beijing to Baltimore.  Its the internet stupid ~ get on, or get run over…
Note:  I am adding Fred back into the reader ~ he is everywhere and his batting average is higher than mine.  “Shark reset.”