Flock – Firey and foxy

Spent an hour today to use the socially connected browser Flock. They have been around for a while and I am not sure how I found them today but my guess is it was on the newly launched twitlinks.

So here it is, my social networks now part of my browsing:

The myworld tab shows me everything thats happening in my social sphere. The Friend Activity column is like FriendFeedFeed as part of my browsing experience.

I like it right now. Not sure how long I can take this social spam for all the time that I am spending on my browser (i.e. pretty much all of it).

One bad thing – it did not import all my plugins from my firefox installation. Such a pain installing them again, if I do. Plus, its feed reader can no way beat google reader.

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Accidental Branding – peterman, craigslist, burt’s bees

David Vinjamuri, a professor at NYU and a professional in brand management and marketing, had a book launch today for his new book Accidental Branding. The event had some really big names on the panel – J. Peterman of the peterman brand and seinfeld fame, Craig Newmark from Craigslist, Roxanne Quimby from Burt’s Bees, and the moderator Carolyn Kepcher of The Apprentice fame.

David Vinjamuri, John Peterman, Craig Newmark, Roxanny Quimby
David Vinjamuri, John Peterman, Craig Newmark, Roxanny Quimby

Each of these had a great story to tell of how things worked out for them. Basic theme was that they had that initial idea by accident but then they followed their core values they believed in to finally get the Success.

Some great things to share from each of these entrepreneurs:

J. Peterman – Break all rules and do what you believe in

Craig Newmark – Listen to your customer and “follow through”

Roxanne Quimby – Fill in the void that your consumer has with your product

Seems like self help business tips above, but very true and each of these had a story as to how they came this realization. A lot of companies have feedback forms (including daylife) and how many of those get to the right people and something gets done about it is what matters. Totally paying more attention to all feedback coming to developer@daylife.com now.

Have not read David’s book yet, but will post soon once I get on it.

Launching Daylife Cookbook

We launch the Daylife Cookbook with a whole new sassy design and 50 recipes today. Cookbook is a collection of showcases that partners and developers have implemented using the Daylife API, samples and tutorials to use the API, more lazyweb ideas that have a design but no code behind them and the API documentation.

The registration on cookbook is invite only for now. But if you got ideas, drop me a line and we will send you an account to contribute to it.

All the lazyweb ideas have a bounty, so just steal one of them, implement it and get paid.

How can a print magazine journalist start an online magazine?

You are a print magazine journalist but you want to start your own gig by launching an online web magazine.

My assumptions are that you are as far from technology and the web 2.0 tools as I am from writing a print magazine article.

Here is how I think you can start. There could be gazillions other ways, but here is one that might work for you.

Assumption: You have a team of writers, photographers and videographers. But you are missing a techie.

Here is a strategy I would suggest:

a. You and the writers on your team should start writing out articles for the magazine on an easy setup blogging platform. I believe that writing online is very very different from writing on paper. Some nitty gritties of online writing are things like how are you categorizing your article, what tags are you giving it, how many embedded links are you putting in your article body, what online sources are you referring to in your article etc etc. Also, once your team starts writing you will start getting an idea about how much material you can churn out. Plus, you have one place to see what kind of balance in amount of material you are achieving in different areas of focus that your magazine will have.

Enough said – start using wordpress.com or typepad.com to start blogging. You can even watch some videos on how to blog on wordpress – http://youtube.com/results?search_query=wordpress&search_type= or http://www.howcast.com/search?q=blog

This should take a week for you to get setup on wordpress and get comfortable writing your articles (say 1 ir 2 per day) there and develop your online writing style.

b. Step a gets you going in terms of material. One of you has to start putting together the structure of the site on paper – what we call IA or Information architecture. What sections, categories and sub-categories you think there will be on the site and how will people browse through them – this is the most important question to answer before you go to a designer to ask him to make you a design. Once you have a rough idea on paper (as a list or a diagram), you need a designer to get some comps made.

For starters, you might only get 2 comps made – the home page and the article page. All other sub-sections can follow the same design as the home page for now. A comp is a photo of how the page looks like, for e.g. here is a comp for design of a site that gives you news with prime numbers – http://cookbook.daylife.com/sites/default/files/cookbookfiles/primetimelive.jpg .. its a simple jpg file showing the layout.

Some good examples of magazine style layouts I recommend:

http://altmuslim.com

http://shine.yahoo.com

http://newsweek.com

c. When steps a and b are happening, you need to do a little management of building a company too – know who is going to be on your team and start talking about your idea to people. Start forming a “Board of Advisors” who are people who like your idea, can give you advise about the magazine, can you give ideas about how to market, can give you insights into the logistics of forming the company.

d. The comps and the material in step a and b give you enough ammunition to go get angel funding. Angel funding can come just from friends like 1000 bucks each, or it can come from some small time incubator (people who invest small time in companies) or some agency. Also by that point of time – as an outcome of step c, you will have a document (a word document and a presentation) that presents your idea about what your magazine and the company is about and who are your advisors a.k.a. “evangelizers” ….

e. You get angel funding – you got money now what. I believe that since you do not have a techie on your team, you need to contract a small team of techies as your tech team – they are responsible for designing, developing the site and hosting it. That is when you start building your website based on the designs created, migrate all your data from the blogs you have written to your website and basically have a launch date that you march towards.


f.
Launch! Champagne! party! MONEY!!!!!

Overall I think this should take between 2 and 3 months.

I write this post for a friend, but if you have a suggestion about this – please leave it in the comments.

Trendrr – Daylife mashup

I saw a demo of Trendrr at the Apr 1st New York Tech meetup. Seemed like an easy way to throw all your data at one place and get some graphs in basic layouts (line,bar,area charts). Mark Ghuneim well utilized his 5 minute demo slot to show what trendrr can do and how their users have used their API. The best graph I liked was the one tracking someone’s CPU usage. You can then embed these graphs anywhere you want or export the data as xml, json or even an excel spreadsheet.

So I got my hands dirty today playing with the Trendrr API to push trending data in news from daylife about any topic. Signed up on trendrr.com, read some documentation about how to use the API and jumped right in. I have written a php script that is calling the daylife API to get the data and the trendrr api to publish it.

I have hosted the script for you to create your own trendrr graphs (more details below) or download it to customize the data that you send to trendrr.

Here are some of the graphs:

Here is my feedback to the Trendrr folks:

  1. The API is great because its simple
  2. Its always tricky to keep things simple and introduce advanced features. The graph currently is exported as an image. If it could be exported as HTML, I would love to have the capability to click on the data point and go to the real source of that data. In that case, the trendrr API will need to accept a link along with each data point. The timeline widget on the daylife.com topic pages support similar functionality.
  3. The delay between sending the data through the API and it showing up on the graphs is pretty significant. It would be great if does not take more than a minute.

Read more below about how I implemented the mashup of Trendrr and Daylife APIs.

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DrupalCamp NYC4

2 days of drupal-ogy at the Drupal Camp this weekend at the Polytechnic in Brooklyn. Lots of good people I met plus some cool modules I saw at the sessions.

drutube.jpg

My favorite drupal module was Media Mover that was developed by Arthur Foelsche from CivicActions to build this product called Drutube (lookout youtube). The whole project lets you upload your video file (in almost any regular format you can have), transcode it to a flash file (or tonnes of other formats), push it to Amazon’s S3 using a simple drupal form (yes!) and finally embed your video anywhere you want using an open source flash player that also supports playlists.

Met a couple of techie librarian enthusiasts and non profit entrepreneurs. There is a lot of buzz and excitement around these content companies for using drupal.

Robert Safuto from Awakened Voice recoreded a quick chat with me about the Daylife API platform and what I was doing there at the drupalcamp.

Google Summer of Code 2008

Google Summer of Code Program is churning along and there are lots of companies/organizations, students and mentors excited about participating this year.

I am excited about a project proposal that I have submitted this year through Drupal. I really loved the idea of how the Drupal community started throwing ideas at one place, everyone gave feedback and then projects were put on the GSoC ideas list by a few admins depending upon the community’s feedback about any idea.

The Logo design for the t-shirt was just posted by a product manager at google and its pretty “fire-y”

gsoc_08.jpg

Another cool part – Sumit Kataria, a senior in an engineering college in India is already signing up to implement the project proposal I have submitted. Pretty awesome to see college students participating in developer communities and reaching out in the community for projects.

If you got some free cycles, you should lookup projects on the ideas list for implementing them or being a mentor. I would love to hear from you if you would be interested in helping mentor my project proposal.

Plus, I am shaping up a mashup-WEEK contest in May. If you are interested in participating in any capacity (develop, design, sponsor, hangout), let me know. I will ensure to get Daylife to sponsor a Macbook Air for the winner.