Monday, December 29, 2008

Startup, Wars, Spam and Cats.

First, no cats will be involved in this post.

At first - I wanted to post regarding a new spam law that was passed in Israel recently and have finally made Israel join a list of countries which actually take active part at fighting the war against spam. I even thought about including my own mail server statistics regarding spam (which were dramatically reduced) and giving an honorable mention to the first lawsuit that was already filed based on the law (in Hebrew - here) .

However - as important as this subject is, I noticed the terminology I used - (war, fight, against) and actually a real war is brewing just outside, in Israel's southern border. Which is probably a little bit more important and I thought that I'll share my point of view (which is why startup is included in the title).

Wars are normally bad for business, investors get even more reluctant to invest. People get drafted and much worse than that. The general mood, which was not too high considering the recent economic crisis drops even lower.

However, I will contribute my share by explaining how things look from here. Not so long ago - Israel left gaza strip completely and fully. This action had my total support as I believe the Palestinians are entitled to their own land to do as they please with. Actually - almost as they please, creating a rocket base to shoot civilians at Israel isn't what a normal country would do, which can't be tolerated, period. This rocketry isn't being done by some unsupported eccentric organizations of weirdos in Gaza, but rather by their elected goverment and their militray forces.
One such rocket has hit Kiryat Gat, a small city in the south of Israel in which I personally almost started my previous company. I hate to think what would have happened if the company was really started there and I have had to face this recent turn of events.

After receiving over 60 rockets Thursday Israel has finally retaliated and although the death toll may seem high to an outside observer or out of proportion, I will say that first - there is no proportion, and second - if you decided to join or support a terror activity - be prepared to pay a price and Last is that if you don't value human life on your enemy side (that would be us) nor human life on your own side (by placing rocket repositories at normal neighbourhoods) no number means anything.

I dream of peace, I wish for peace and I hope my children will not have mandatory army service, I guess that sometimes the tricky road to peace leads to war with evil regims. I hope we are on that road.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Readers, where are you?

Writing a blog is an interesting affair. Sometimes you get that eerie feeling that you are completely alone, no one is reading your blog and nobody bothers.

On that time you usually get a comment from a reader regarding something you have blogged about and you feel lost. Where did he get that? how does he know that I'm involved in this or that? When at one time I asked about that, I got the answer that it was me, I blogged about it and it was read, and I was a bit surprised and a bit proud. Maybe there is a point to this and we are not alone.

On other news, I had an interesting bubble discussion today, about the hi-tech industry bubble which I am probably a part of, yet very aware of it unlike many others. Some theological questions popped up after that discussion like will there always be a bubble? is our bubble special? what actually defines a bubble? and I lack the answers.

When bathing the kids, I make extremely large soap bubbles for them which they enjoy popping, which always leads me to think of the industry bubble and what is actually more fun, the creation of the bubble or its popping? who knows...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The convention theory

This time I wanted to write about a few conventions I have been to last week. First one by google, the google Israeli developer day and the second was the garage geeks that were hosting yahoo (followed by a yahoo event the next day).

The google day was a disappointment for me, even though my hopes were not too high to start with. The problem was that on one hand google were forcefully trying to be cool (putting chess boards, lego cubes and cushions everywhere) and on the other hand they had nothing meaningful to say and that was said by the wrong set of people.

Maybe its just me, or I had bad luck at picking sessions, the only reasonable session was the one about google gears. Other were either just bad (Google gadgets) or terrible (The open mic session).

Luckily, a few days later I was able to compare it to a different event at the garage geeks. Yahoo people came, gave a short and insightful presentation, and were later available to talk about the subject. Sure - it was not as fancy, and I got no free usb-people dok. But I was able to get meaningful interaction.

The good impression was slightly dimmed the next day at the hack day event which was poorly organized (my registration did not catch, and I think many of the people registered didn't bother to show judging from the amount of lonely name tags). And the presentation was quite the same, nothing too deep and nothing that resembled a hack day. It didn't look like many hackers actually made it to that conference. I did cut short and went home earlier than expected, but the food was good :)

I have decided that I'll submit a hack to the competition as I had a nice idea that I guessed would fit the time frame, and with the help of my brother in law we have created a small search engine on top of boss that we called FocuSearch. I don't believe that we'll win, but it was fun doing it, which is enough for me. The winner will probably be a company which have done a better job and is in higher need of PR.

Another good point of that event was the fact that I saw a presentation by a direct competitor. I think they are not focused enough on their goals, but they seem like nice people and I wish them luck.

Last item on this long post is the fact that the network on google day was hacked. I am quite surprised this didn't make valleywag, techcrunch or slashdot, but who knows.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Competition, what competition?

Well, every time you think of something there is a slight chance that someone else is thinking about the same exact thing. Although this may sound like bad news this is normally far from the truth. I am now thinking about this as many of my friends who know what I am doing has referred me to an article about a competitor (similar market and basic approach, different goals ,technology and howto market).

There are a few advantages to competition, for starters it gives you some sort of validation, which means you are probably on some right track. More than that, you are given the option to ponder and answer a few very important questions - like why am I better? How can I prove to someone else that my solution is superior? (may it be an investor or a future client) and if you don't have conclusive answers - you are given the chance to improve.

There may also be a few bad sides to competition, in my former company it seemed like the competition did many things which were counter productive (to say the least) and instead of focusing on improving they focused on demoting our product - saying it was illegal (rubbish) broke their patents (complete rubbish) was not as good as theirs (weird that clients bought it in that case) and in the end they resolved to copy our technology. However - they were much better than us in raising money and in a way helped us raise money too (the mee tooo of VCs that I might discuss at some future post).

To sum it up, if you are a startup - you are probably better off with a competition than you are without it, it proves you are on the right track, help you get funded and even allows you to focus and improve. Viva la competition!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The answer

As stock market world wide are plummeting, I am quite sure my readers could not help it but ask themselves what the answer to the riddle was.

Well, without further ado, the answer is Google Translate service, which recently launched hebrew support. The results are extremely poor, as the original text meant "A team of entrepreneurs that are simply awesome". Unfortunately - mix-up of literal translation of a phrase that means awesome with very wrong ordering of words has created that anomality.

Will Google Translate improve over time? I'll keep my eye open. As for now, I won't recommand it for trying to read Hebrew sites, not even to get a clue.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Weekly riddle for the children

What generated the following phrase "entrepreneurs rope team on time"?

One of our solvers will win a rope that is rope on time by itself.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Google index and me

I have been googling my name a few times in the last days. What I have discovered is that the google index can tell much about me, and yet tell nothing.

First item on the agenda is the fluctuations, every day the results are quite different, one day my linkedin profile was on top, another day it was a post I once made on the Zebra mailing lists and another day it was some site called marketvisual (more on that later).

Second item is the totally useless stuff, although its quite cheering to know that there are a few hattrick players named after me (virtual soccer players , not real people) I doubt that those results really deserve their location, I guess hattrick should have probably prevented spiders on those pages. There are also some name poachers on the list, I already mentioned marketvisual and would gladly add lookupanyone which believes there's a me in NJ. Any other auto generated database which contains my name is probably useless, as they normally add very little information and sometimes even wrong information with regards to who I am, what I do and who I know.

Third item is the freshness issue, it is quite difficult to know who I really am when my past and present are tightly mixed. You'll find my software contributions of the long past interlaced with my recent activities and events I have been through. It would have been really cool if there was a way to create a timeline and put the search results on it, so one will know that I wrote the renegade utils about 10 years before writing the google toolbar button or filing some gentoo bugs.

Last item on the agenda is the black hole, many items of my activities were logged to the net on the past, however - those are unavailable today (probably just removed) which actually creates a preference to some sort of activities, many other things will never be seen (for example surfree and kerenix times pages).

However, googling yourself or beloved ones is a fun activity, you can do this and compare the results with yourself and see if the picture stands true. Atleast in my case the picture is mostly true, although shot from a unique angle...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

"The Cloud"

There are times when one looks at technology and see dramatic innovations. Some other times it is just marketing over existing features.

I am not talking about web 2.0 and ajax which really predated their names. This time I'll discuss the cloud or "elastic computing".

I will start by saying that the technology has some potential for some problems, if you need 1,000 computers for a few hours - the cloud can't be beat. Unfortunately - this is not what most problems are made of and not what most companies need. The cloud is actually not a very sophisticated virtual servers hosting service, with steep prices starting at ~$100 monthly with no persistent storage. The simple fact is that most startups can use a good hosting provider and get more bang for their buck. If a reader will try arguing scalability - I would simply say that he can get more machines at any provider, or just host his own machines and scale them as needed without facing virtualization issues. A good example today would be that one may want to use a server with SSD for a high intensity I/O machine, the cloud simply won't give him that - and will charge those I/Os at a hefty premium.

A small exception is the google app engine, which is actually a very different cloud which actually bills for CPU resources used and not simply allocated, which in turn leads to better programs. However - for the time being it is python bound and limited.

So - if I'll sum it up, the way I see it - if you are a startup and not afraid of hosting, just host and skip the cloud for now - although it would sound sexier - it is not worth it - yet.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Alternate life

I have recently seen the younoodle service which predicts the value of my startup in three years.

Having nothing much better to do at that point (maybe besides watching the Olympic games) I have quickly ran through the process and got the following:
What can I say? Probably there's nothing more for me to do, just wait for three years and collect the cash...

Monday, August 4, 2008

Software patents, go away!

Some good news have came a few days ago from the USPTO, which you can read in this slashdot article.

As a part of my work I have written patents and had to deal with other patents. I saw some patents which were simple and did not represent any breakthrough at all. And have seen patents written in an extremely obscure way so that one won't be able to understand them.

This really goes against what the patent system was originally designed for, making terrible things happen like the blackberry case and the creation of the patent trolls that annoy innovators. Small companies had to shell very large sums of money on patents just to be able to protect themselves from being sued by those.

I bless this change, hoping for a world with meaningful patents, real breakthroughs and openness for all. I guess we'll all have to live and see it happen.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Twitter is dead!

Well, I hope the title got your attention. :)

No, Twitter is not dead yet, but I think it is just over hyped. I personally don't see the point in telling the world + dog about what I had for dinner, who exactly I am meeting with and where am I going.

Further more, what's the point of reading that about others? Is this a new kind of reality shows? What is so interesting about looking at what others are doing exactly? You can see some insane twitting by people like Jeff Pulver, a highly regarded technology investor. What point is served by his exposure? the glorious 5 minutes of fame?

Maybe its me, maybe I don't get it and won't get it, but my personal belief is that twitting, friendfeeding and the likes are at a hype point and the famous chasm won't be crossed to the real world (I hope so ;) )

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Some new software

A few software projects which I have been (and probably still am) a heavy user of have released their new versions in the last few days.

The first is eclipse with their yearly release, the good things that I quickly saw was the release of the 64bit linux version as part of their download options. The bad includes no svn support built-in, and the fact that the product keep on stumbling with the built in update (RC4 crashed after an attempt to upgrade to release).

The second project releasing (finally!) is gentoo releasing 2008.0 a few month later than expected, nothing really new in this release (but this should probably be the case of all releases in gentoo) so I updated my profiles and did a quick 'emerge --newuse -uDv world' and there it is. I hope that the gentoo project will wake up from its recent hibernation.

Those open source projects are both great - allowing one to confide and rely on them - keep it up!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Innovation everywhere

I have been to a few conferences and heard a panel on innovation in which one of the speakers (whom I will not name) talked about focus and repeated the phrase "don't innovate in the backoffice, keep it to your product"

I don't think that this is a good idea. Innovation is an ideal which leads to better overall performance. Creative thinking is not something that is limited just to your product and boundaries for innovation are not a good thing.

I think that good companies should innovate in many areas. A short list would be: transportation, employment terms and compensation, IT, working with the community and many more. Some of the best companies you know are well known for innovating outside their product (google's 20% is a good example).

To sum it up, don't limit yourself. Innovate everywhere.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Working on the edge

Got myself a new computer (amd x2 4800, 6GB memory) and decided to test a new distribution of Linux. For a very long time I have been a fan of gentoo which has been serving me for the last few years without needing to reinstall.

However, walking on the edge means that I would like to test some new stuff once in a while and as gentoo is a playground I already know I have decided to try and check its derivative - sabayon linux.

The LiveDVD was very promising, bunch of stuff I didn't knew or never bothered to configure - mainly compiz which worked without a hitch on the 780 based motherboard.

Installation worked well - chose ext4 as a partition (hope not to regret it soon). Now something like 230+ packages need update. Almost everything seems to be installed - so this is probably a bloatware OS although compiz didn't auto-start.

I am now going to install eclipse and my development environment and will give this distro its chance, probably be back to gentoo soon ;)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Events and more

I have visited two different events in this week ending. Wednesday was a mashable blog mingling event of which I was quite disappointed, little screening, little room, little food and lack of name tags meant this didn't turn out quite well. The fact that the place turned into a bar without notice when the event ended didn't add much either.

Another event was the garagegeeks event, quite different from the mingling parties I was at the last few times, some interesting people talked and I got some strings to check. Also some talked complete nonsense at some points, but maybe in some other post.

Still - events are good, I can use them to verify my idea and check the general industry directions so I'll probably keep going for the time being.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Transposh logo

After a few iterations I have decided to go for the following logo for transposh.

Some technical stuff - created on inkscape 0.46, the original is a .svg file which takes about 14k uncompressed.

Hope you like it, any comments are welcomed.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Trusting on google

Ever since I have heard about google apps I had been ambiguous with the service, mainly
considering the fact that I love doing IT and have established the infrastructure required for a company a couple of times already.

The main concern I have with the service is regarding privacy issues and trusting that google won't be looking at my stuff if they ever decide I am competing or something like that.

I have decided to go for it because of some major reasons:
  1. Cost - can't be beat
  2. Sharing - I can use those services everywhere while others worry about server security
  3. New stuff factor - By installing a real company on the platform I'll learn some new skills
  4. Reversibility - I'll always be able to go back to my own hosting
Wish me luck

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Transposh is starting

The domains have been registered today and are being hosted on google services, for now this will suffice (I hope)

the domains used are:
  • - Everything that will relate to transposh the company, news, mail, blog and company related materials
  • - this domain will serve the transposh web services and proxy
  • - dedicated to the transposh open source packages, trac and developers
  • - documentation and whitepapers about the technology
I have also created accounts on linkedin and facebook - feel free to stay on touch