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When Real-time is Too Much – Can You Handle the Firehose?

FireHoseStreams

This morning I’ve been testing TweetDeck’s new super-fast version, based on the new Twitter User Streams API. TweetDeck provides fair warning:

This is a VERY experimental version of TweetDeck

I saw a few small glitches, but nothing major.  Yet I am in trouble, and it’s not because of the product.  It’s me.  My brain…

The new TweetDeck (and I suspect soon all clients adapting the User Streams API) is fast. Bloody fast. As close to real-time as it gets. Here’s a quick comparison of Seesmic Desktop 2 and the new TweetDeck:

Seesmic in the left, white column, TweetDeck in the right, black one.   Tweetdeck wins the race hands-down (note: this is not a comparison of the applications, but the API-s they use).  It gets everything first.  And therein lies the rub. I’m not sure real-time is always what we need.   This is like drinking from a huge firehose, without taking a break. It can be suffocating – unless monitoring Twitter is what you do full time.  Here’s my computer screen, while I am typing this very post:

I have a single column for Twitter on the right edge, but my eyes are not glued to it. I can focus on work, but notice the periodic screen updates in my peripheral vision, can quickly glance over to see if there’s anything noteworthy, and continue working.  That’s how far my continuously divided attention can spread.  The new TweetDeck does not give me that 30-second to a minute break to focus on work.  It’s in constant motion, updates come in tweet by tweet, not in batches, and I find my eyes glued to it.  It’s a productivity killer.

If I am live-tweeting during a conference, the firehose is what I want: set up TweetDeck with multiple columns, allow it to occupy the entire screen – in that environment I want absolute real-time.  But for most of my productive life, I need those split minutes undisturbed.  I turned off the firehose.

Update: The video does not fully support my point. As luck would have it I recorded a slower minute or so.  But it can become dizzying under heavy Twitter traffic:-)

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A Whiter Shade of Pale by Apple (Leaky iPhone and More)

white evo

This is the Week of Leaks: first and foremost Wikileaks, and now the iPhone Leak.  No, I’m not talking about the disappearing signal (aren’t we bored of the iPhone antenna stories yet?), this is leaking white light as reported by TheStreet.com:

Apparently, the back light from the iPhone display screen is leaking out around the edges of the glass and seeping through the back of the white phone, according to a person familiar with the manufacturing process.

So it appears Apple can’t make a white iPhone – for now.  I actually think the black one is more elegant, but of course it’s a matter of choice.  HTC can claim to be first, since their white EVO is now available – but is it really white?

Not really…this is a black phone with a white back – a rather tasteless combination, if you ask me.  If you want white, go for the true white, which is what the iPhone design is – if they can ever manufacture it.

All this white-mania makes my head spin, to the point I can’t pick to most fitting tune.  Is it:

Both recorded before many of our readers were born. Enjoy Smile

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Unhyping Gartner’s Hype Cycle, Part 2.

Here’s Part 1.  The reason I’m doing it again is that Michael Krigsman just published the Wailgum Hype Cycle:

wailgum hype cycle

Not bad.  Still a bit complex.  Me thinks the simplified,  geekified, scobleized, oprahized, too-oh-ized version of the Gartner Hype Cycle still works:

And if it doesn’t – well, it’s almost Friday. In fact for some of our readers it already is :-)

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SAP Business ByDesign Video – Plain and Simple, Making Fun of …Wow, ERP!

We’re just having an intense internal debate in the Enterprise Irregulars group whether SAP’s Business ByDesign (ByD) is late to the market and what it all means, when hot off the press here’s a promotional video, that’s not so much ByD advertising but a SMB / SME SaaS 101, and a very good one at that (now, that was a mouthful of acronyms).

Ironically, the video makes fun of the Big Ugly Beast, ERP – which happens to be SAP’s bread and butter. (Hey, I’ve long been saying SAP should have copied a chapter from Larry Ellison’s book, invest in a SMB Startup and let it grow independently…)

Hat tip for the video: Timo Elliot.

See our (more serious) Business ByDesign coverage here.

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Atlassian: Fully Funded. By Customer Revenue. Oh, and the $60M T-shirt

atlassian mike scott It was 2006, the first Office 2.0 Conference in San Francisco and I just met Jeffrey Walker, President of Atlassian. I had followed the company for a while (OK, I admit, had been a fan), met Mike, but this was the first time with Jeffrey, so we took our box lunch to a cozy little place away from the crowd and started to chat. Within minutes a VC Partner joined us, and so the usual “what are you doing” conversation started.  Well, it wasn’t a conversation: Jeffrey talked, the VC listened.  And in 5 minutes he was ready pull out the checkbook (sort of), when Jeffrey dropped the bomb:

We’re actually not seeking funding.  We’re fully funded.  By customer revenues.

Seeing the VC’s face was priceless.  After all, the cliche for startup success was to take funding.   Which Atlassian did – 4 years later.  But they do nothing by halves.  $60 million or nothing! :-)   But I am running ahead.  Back to the early days.

I got to know Atlassian as the Wiki Company – having compared the few early business wikis, I came to the Conclusion that Confluence was the most robust, complete one.  I’m probably not the most pleasant reviewer when I don’t like what I see – but I could simply not find anything to criticize with Confluence – it became the de facto industry standard for others to follow.  That said Atlassian is /was about more then Confluence: their roots are in supporting developers, having started with a powerful bug tracker Jira, and growing to eight (?) products atlassian modelorganically and through acquisitions.  Not being a techie, I don’t even understand most of these products – so the root cause of my infatuation with Atlassian was really their business model.

There is nothing wrong with taking VC Funding, but risking everything to your last penny is what Entrepreneurship was originally all about, so it is simply refreshing to see a company to have made it solely on bootstrapping, beating the odds. Add to it great software that’s easy to buy, learn, use, sprinkle it with a good dose of transparency and great service,  and you get a startup worth admiring. I’ve had lots of fun covering their early success and also learned a lot watching them:

Oh, and they gave me some of my funnier titles:

…’cause they like having fun, and I guess it’s contageous.  But amidst all that fun they can sometimes be dangerous:-)

I tried to help them fill The Dream Job (no, I wanted that job:-)), help with their charitable promotion – hey, even put my http://www.cloudave.com/link/helping-atlassian-stimulus-package-towards-the-finish-line“>money where my mouth was.  Then I had to write the most difficult post in my life, saying goodbye to Jeffrey, Atlassian President, musician, amazing person and fellow Enterprise Irregular.

And today they taught me another lesson: don’t ever sit on a story.  It expires.  My unwritten story that I’ve been contemplating for a while was about two bootstrapped startups, both in software, amazingly successful that have sailed into IPO zone almost unnoticed.  The second one is Zoho, which I consider to be approaching IPO-readiness, but I seriously doubt they would chose to go that way.  But Zoho is our Sponsor, talking too much about them would look like ***ing up, so I’ll stop here.  The day will come.  But today is Atlassian’s day.

Why would a company that has profitably grown for 8 years need funding now? They want to grow more agressively, both in terms of geography and product coverage. That means acquisitions.  They  want to accelerate growth to above $100M revenue, which is what’s considered “IPO ready” nowadays.

mcaccon underwaterBut what drove me to the conclusion they were on the IPO-track even before the funding was deep in their culture.

Atlassian is always hiring, yet it’s difficult to get in. They are picky. It’s a “work-hard-play-hard” culture.  Employees are well paid and  the company spends lavishly on team fun. No wonder their revenue per employee ratio is high.  But the team lives in Sydney and San Francisco, where there is an expectation that after a few years in a red-hot startup you get rich…  The Founders probably no longer live frugally, but how to share the wealth with all employees without an exit?  Funding accelerates the path to exit and my even bring interim liquidity critical to keep the team around. I agree with Ben in that respect.

dftpc $60 million is a lot of money, in fact Accel Partners claim it is the largest investment they’ve ever made in the software business.  But there’s a whole world of difference in picking it up as a mature, profitable company or a fledgling startup.  Some of Atlassian’s competitors picked up a third of this amount at early stages and probably had to give up three times as much equity as Atlassian did.  Bootstrapping has paid off, after all.

Oh, about that $60M T-shirt – you really have to read it over @ Atlassian. After all, this is a SFW blog:-)

Update:  I’m speechless.  What’s this? Sour grapes?

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Skype Blocks Fring – Or Not? Fingerpointing… But Where is Skype for Android?

Image courtesy of FringJust two days ago I reported how mobile video call app Fring enabled making video calls on 3G, even to other platforms, say Skype.  That was a huge improvement for iPhone users, since their native Facetime only allows iPhone 4 to iPhone 4 calls, and only over wi-fi.  But the new option proved to be too popular, overwhelming Fring’s servers, so hours after the announcement they had to suspend support for Skype.

Today the story changes again, now it’s no longer up to Fring.  Skype decided to block Fring calls.  Forget openness.. competition is tough, I guess Skype wants to fully “own” video callers. Except they can’t.  Get access to Skype, that is.

Like I said in the earlier post, the real losers are in the Android camp, where Skype made an exclusive deal with Verizon to be the only carrier who can offer the Skype app.  Yes, that’s correct: Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile..etc are all coming out with high-end Android superphones, but their owners won’t find Skype on the Android App Marketplace. For them, Fring has been the obvious solution – until now.

Update: TechCrunch reports that “Skype also claims the decision to no longer offer Skype
interconnectivity was entirely made by Fring and that they had nothing
to do with it
.”

Update:  Skype responds on their blog:

there is no truth to Fring’s claims that Skype has blocked it. Fring made the decision to remove Skype functionality on its own.

Update:  Now I really want Fring, if it hooks me up with Samantha :-)

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IPhone’s Cryptic Bars vs. Real Signal on Android

iphone 4 signal bars At one point in the iPhone antenna blunder Apple tried to hide behind smoke-screen, claiming they discovered an error in how they calculated signal strength to be translated to those ever-important bars the iPhone (and all phones) uses.  They would issue a software update, that would fix the problem – or not, as we now know, the culprit being the antenna design, not just the graphical representation.

Now there’s an entire article @ the Wall Street Journal lamenting just how meaningless these bars are, since all handset manufacturers have their own arbitrary interpretation of what is 1 bar or two .. three .. four.  In fact signal indicators vary between different models of the same manufacturer.

But why are we kept in the dark?  Why can’t we get real, standardized, comparable numbers?  Turns out we can.  Just not on the iPhone.   When I recently compared two Android phones the HTC Incredible and EVO, and two carriers, Verizon and Sprint, I did not have to resort to subjective bar settings.  That would have been comparing apples (not Apple!) and oranges.

realsignal All I had to do was download the free Real Signal app from the Android Apps Market.  This app displays the real signal in dBM, and also provides two independent bar displays  – similar to the “stock” bars on your phone, except this one can be calibrated.  For example given the poor reception in my area by any carrier, I only ever see 1-2 bars on the stock display – might as well re-calibrate the display to between –85dBM to –110dBM, which is all I can get. This way I get to compare any phones and all carriers – no more BS, no more dumb bars.

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That’s not Email

email-shemale

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Fring’s Popularity BackF(i)ring

FringHooray, iPhone users can now make video calls on 3G, even to other platforms, say Skype, but using the popular Fring app.  Or not…

The new option proved to be too popular, overwhelming Fring’s servers.   This morning Fring announced suspension of support for Skype.

The biggest losers are Android users on all carriers but Verizon, which apparently has an exclusive deal with Skype, preventing all others from offering the Skype app via the Android marketplace.  For them, the workaround has been to use Fring to connect to Skype.  Until now Sad smile

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NTP is the New SCO

patent trollNTP, the shell company whose only business is to extract ransom from real businesses does not sit on the $600 they extorted from RIM.  They are now suing just about all the smartphone industry: Apple, Google, HTC, Microsoft, LG and Motorola.

Is NTP the new SCO?

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