BarCamp Sydney

Bar Camp NYQuick heads up about BarCamp Sydney coming up on Saturday March 3. Most of the Tangler team will be down there geeking it up in the ultimate unconference.

If you’ve never been to a barcamp you’re missing out on something fun and cool. It’s a no-holds-barred geek love fest for developers, entrepreneurs and bloggers. A great environment for meeting and learning from Sydney’s tech brightest.

If you want to join us, head over to the RSVP list and signup.

And based on a conversation at Dinner 2.0 last night, maybe we’ll see some Endgame class fun and games.


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Dinner 2.0

Last night I had the pleasure of hosting another Dinner 2.0 at Cafe Pacifico in Sydney’s east — with almost 30 people it was the biggest event yet.

Another great night of entrepreneurial talk, mexican food and tequila. Thanks to everyone who attended.

Highlights:

  • Mike Cannon-Brookes retired — he’s done it all now hasn’t he?
  • Dave from Freshview forgot his surfboard.
  • Rob and Nick were back-patted on the launch of 3eep — an aussie sports social network based on sports. Congrats guys.
  • Mike Zimmerman came in a tuxedo just to spite me.
  • Nick played dodge the monkey on whether Zookoda had been sold. But he’s a VC now, so what do you expect.
  • Alan Noble from Google finally confirmed that Aussies are indeed smarter, better looking and more geeky than their Silicon Valley counterparts. Thank god that’s finally been put to bed.

Lots of photos up here (thanks Mick).

The StayersRob and DebraMCB Chillin'Tim, Mick and PWCRory and Co, Peter and Rob

Looking forward to the next one.

Domain Names

P1010021I was down with Nik (the CEO of Omnidrive) in Wollongong on the weekend and he showed me a deadly little tool called “Instant Domain Search” — shows whether a domain is available as you type. Make those endless quests for new product names just a little less painful. And if you find a domain you really like, but it’s not available, you can bid on it using tools directly off the site (such as Sedo or GoDaddy marketplace). Nice one Nik.

And in other news Cameron Reilly is in the office today, glasses and all… except we err, lost him. Has anybody seen Cam?

Life in Silicon Beach

Bondi Beach SydneyNice article in the AFR yesterday about aussie startups in Sydney. Great to see people like Mark Jones and Joshua Gliddon taking the time to do this.

In the article they named Sydney as “Silicon Beach” and it struck me as a perfect description of what it’s like here as a startup in the internet space. I like it. Let’s make it stick.

BTW: Does anybody know who coined this?

Is Vista Worth It?

Windows Vista UltimateSo I installed Vista (the full release build) over the weekend and it’s been an experience, both good and bad. Since a lot of people are going to be doing this soon I thought I’d share some thoughts and recommendations.

I installed on my fully-sick beefy primary notebook: a 3 month old HP nc8430 (2.16 ghz core 2 duo, 2GB ram, 100GB 7200 rpm hdd, ATI x1600 with 256mb vram).

I started by trying to do an upgrade of my existing XP installation — crazy I know. But the install process kept blowing up (missing file errors), so I had to go with a brand new install option. After clearing about 20GB, I created a new partition dedicated for Vista.

Windows Vista PRC1 (Desktop)I then installed Vista Ultimate (which includes media centre — no idea why I think I need media centre on the notebook, but happy to install everything once) and after about 60 minutes was up and running. Install process was great. I then installed Office 2007, FireFox, Omea and Skype and after transferring mail, docs and music I was basically operational.

Then came the first mistake. I wanted a bit more space on the Vista partition, so I used Acronis to expand it. I then rebooted into Vista and whilst doing a big file transfer, BOOM! Corrupt files. Total plot loss, reboot, partition corrupt, 2 hours on repair tools, no progress, fuck it, start again.

This time I made the partition 30GB to start and reinstalled everything (did I mention doing backups is a good idea before you try any of this). After that problem though, which you could really blame on Acronis/me rather than Vista, everything is actually working incredibly well, so let’s move on to the good and bad of using vista.

The good:

  • Windows Vista Quicksilver! – I drool over the Mac heads and there little type launcher app called Quicksilver. Vista has this as well now and the implementation is great. Hit the Windows key and just type and it will insta-find applications, folders, files, docs and email (actually that’s better than Quicksilver).
  • Oooh, pretty – Aero really is just lovely. The 3D effects are a site to behold. I just move windows around so I can look at the pretty effects. Pop outs, ins, shadows, 3D cursors, animations everywhere.
  • Windows Vista - 3D Win-Tab – In addition to alt-tab, you can now use Win-tab to do a 3D application scroll. Looks stunning. Anybody who walks up and says, “ooh, is that Vista. What’s it like?” All you have to do is hit Win-tab and they’ll be blown away. Pretty useless, but damn pretty.
  • Compatible – Every app I have (including all the games and printer drivers) works perfectly. Nice one.
  • Responsiveness – Vista is extremely hard to slow down. No matter how much is going on in the background, applications seem to still operate quite well. It’s much better than XP.
  • Enforced user rights – something I’ve long appreciated on Linux; you now have to basically sudo everything that is privileged. This is sure to annoy some users, but the vista implementation of this is actually pretty neat. It looks annoying, but like Unix, the underlying principle of operating in a restricted environment with selective rights is significantly safer.
  • Probando Windows Vista Beta 2 A million little fixes. The wireless connectivity is better, config options, folders, explorer, search, key customisation, I keep finding cool stuff. None of it mind bogglingly amazing, just nice.

The bad/whinges:

  • I know why the Mac runs so hot now; it’s the interface chewing the ATI graphics. My notebook runs 20%-40% hotter than before, and mostly due to Aero. Though surprisingly the battery life is better. If you don’t want more heat you’ll need to tone down the prettiness.
  • The command prompt is still the same. Was really hoping we’d see a better terminal app and shell. Sigh.
  • Probando Windows Vista Beta 2The sidebar is just as useless as all the other sidebars (Konfab is probably better actually). I still don’t use it. Maybe I’ll play with it some more another time. Right now it just chews space.
  • It doesn’t make coffee.
  • I can’t think of anything else, which I guess is a good sign.

So is Vista worth the upgrade? Yes, I think so. It can be a little painful to get up and running, but in the end even after only a day there’s no way I could go back. Everything is just better. Vista may not be life changing, but there’s no doubt that it’s as good as the leap from 98 to xp. If you thought that upgrade was worth it, then make the jump.

Browser Wars

Latest browser usage… notice something special?

Month Internet Explorer Firefox Safari Netscape Opera Other
January, 2006 85.31% 9.50% 3.00% 1.17% 0.52% 0.50%
February, 2006 85.03% 9.75% 3.13% 1.06% 0.53% 0.49%
March, 2006 84.70% 10.05% 3.19% 1.05% 0.54% 0.48%
April, 2006 83.88% 10.68% 3.30% 1.06% 0.56% 0.52%
May, 2006 84.16% 10.56% 3.26% 0.95% 0.59% 0.49%
June, 2006 84.04% 10.77% 3.19% 0.93% 0.57% 0.51%
July, 2006 83.56% 11.34% 3.18% 0.91% 0.59% 0.43%
August, 2006 83.02% 11.84% 3.21% 0.87% 0.64% 0.42%
September, 2006 82.10% 12.46% 3.53% 0.85% 0.64% 0.42%
October, 2006 81.28% 12.96% 3.93% 0.83% 0.61% 0.40%
November, 2006 80.56% 13.50% 4.03% 0.83% 0.67% 0.42%
December, 2006 79.64% 14.00% 4.24% 0.85% 0.87% 0.40%

After nearly 3 months in the market and 100 million downloads, Internet Explorer 7 has ultimately had no noticable impact on the rise of Firefox (now 14%). Says a lot don’t you think.Source Report

A Closed iPhone

So the iPhone is going to be a closed system, which means they are not going to let third-parties deploy software for the device — though I don’t see why at some point they wont introduce an Apple-certified (and supplied) set of software “accessories” down the line. Unfortunately a closed system means no cool mapping software for bakers, Arabian floating 3d hourglass clocks or clones of tetris (unless of course it works over the web — on safari).

Apple has copped a fair bit of flak over this, but I’m not surprised. Apple is building a tool that brings advanced functionality to the mass market. It’s the same with the iPod. Take an under-performing product segment that has vast potential and take it across the chasm. But to do that well you need to make the complex simple. The iPod doesn’t support 20 different memory cards because it doesn’t need to. It delivers its core value, and that’s all. Frankly, the rest of the vast functionality available through different MP3 players is 99% of the time irrelevant.

The iPhone is the same thing, except Apple is deciding what’s important and ignoring everything else. I’ve owned 8 different smartphones and probably the same number of PDA’s before that. So what do I really use? Push-email (killer), phone, mobile web (clunky). The other 13 million bits of software for the Pocket PC is pretty useless too me, and I would argue useless to the majority Apple is targeting. The same majority they targeted with the iPod.

So whilst I lament on the closed nature of the device, I rejoice in the fact that I know it’ll do the 99% killer job on what Apple says it will: phone, email, web, camera, iPod. If it can do a good job on all those things (instead of the typically mediocre shit delivered in most devices) they’ll win the majority market. And “open platform” meta-geeks will start talking about simple being the secret to success instead of technical openness (as they did with the iPod).

Wanna Job?

TanglerTangler is hiring again. We’re looking for an experienced front-end developer, mostly working in JavaScript/AJAX. Position is open for either Mountain View or Sydney.

Must have:

  • Strong JavaScript
  • Java, JSP, JSP tags
  • Strong communications skills
  • A web 2.0 attitude
  • Some decent PS2 games

Nice to have:

  • CSS, HTML, XHTML, AJAX, DHTML
  • Web standards awareness
  • Cross platform / browser awareness
  • Experience in Spring Web MVC (or equivalent), DWR
  • Prior usage of JavaScript libraries like Prototype, JQuery, Script.aculo.us

Quick, now’s you’re chance to dump that loser job at atlassian another company, and head over to a real startup.

iWantOne

All I can say is wow. Steve Jobs has announced the iPhone and it’s mind bogglingly good. And as Mick pointed out to me this morning: Microsoft’s huge announcement was that the Zune is going to support games, yeah, games… oh in July 2008.  Someone just got pwned.

The markets seem to like it. Apple up 8%, Blackberry down 6%.

Now I have to wait till June to get one.

Forget Bubble, Try Boom

Red Soap BubbleA “bubble” is a self-perpetuating economic state based on unrealised earnings. The web 1.0 bubble that ended in 2000 was a scary mix of stock market hype and underperforming companies that resulted in a disastrous tech crash.

Now geeks are back and “web 2.0” has been a rallying cry for the real value of web innovation and technology to come out of hiding. But not without fear; the previous bubble bursting crushed the hearts of millions of dreaming geeks around the world, and did severe financial harm to many for years after. So there’s a natural trepedation, and sometimes jealousy, that pushes forward the idea that we’re heading in the same direction again. It’s ridiculous.

This time around you can’t just yell bubble and watch the sky fall. Nobody really cares. Why? Because there is no pack of lemmings to run screaming off the cliff, aka the market. The only bubble, if you could call it that, is the level of VC investment being put at risk, and that’s a) low and b) coming from people who manage risk for a living.

In bubble 1.o investor’s money was what was being spent. That’s hollow. It’s a false economy, and a crash is inevitable. Now we have two big differences: the level of equity being invested is far lower (if you include IPO raising), and the actual revenue being earned in internet advertising (let alone other service revenues) is substantially higher, and it’s not market money.

So investments are significantly down, yet earnings are skyrocketing. $4b in the last quarter! That’ll be $22b-$30b next year. That’s bigger than the Gaming and Movies markets combined. And I don’t see any reason for growth to slow prior to reaching 40%-50% of the global ad market ($40b-$60b).

Quarterly Internet Ad Revenues Surpass $4 Billion

Get a grip people. Know a good thing when you see it. We all knew how big and amazing the internet would be. It just took 5 years longer to get the job done.