Category Archives: Random discussion

Shipping is a feature. A really important feature. Your product must have it.

In his blog post / book chapter titled The Duct Tape Programmer, Joel Spolsky talks about a type of programmer.

He is the kind of programmer who is hard at work building the future, and making useful things so that people can do stuff. He is the guy you want on your team building go-carts, because he has two favorite tools: duct tape and WD-40. And he will wield them elegantly even as your go-cart is careening down the hill at a mile a minute. This will happen while other programmers are still at the starting line arguing over whether to use titanium or some kind of space-age composite material that Boeing is using in the 787 Dreamliner.

In my experience in both the corporate and the startup world I have seen this type of programmer a lot. And whether you call him “The Duct Tape Programmer” or “Cowboy Coder” he can be both a blessing and a menace to your business. A programmer like that is quick and rash. He will see a solution before anyone else, and will implement a solution before you even realize there is a problem. He will bristle at most structure imposed around him and will work very well in apparent chaos. This type of programmer can be detrimental to a large corporation but is essential to a startup. In fact, this is who you want on your team on day one.

Why? Because:

Shipping is a feature. A really important feature. Your product must have it.

-Joel Spolsky from The Duct Tape Programmer

To put it another way, until you have a product out in the wild and people using it, you don’t have a startup, or a business or a venture. You just have a bunch of people sitting around laptops. you just have a hobby.

Too many times do founders spend so much time designing and creating the perfect product that they actually do forget to ship it and that someone has to actually use it. A good example is the doomed game titled “Duke Nukem Forever.” A game that was decades late, and a huge flop. Yet, the teams that worked on it spend many years writing and rewriting it, adding more and more features and polish. Polish that nobody wanted, their users just wanted a game. Too often do founders lose sight of their user and start designing something that is nice to have but not what the customers want.

In short, release early, release often, get feedback, do it all over again.

Dmitry Grekov is a technology architect with Accenture and a co-founder of Venue Cricket a marketplace for Chicago Event Venues. You can follow him on twitter: @dgrekov.

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google street view

I found this article browsing through links (as I’m wont to do, often). It’s an interesting view of Google Street View, but also kind of scary. As in, why are all these people dressed in masks?

The Street Views Google Wasn’t Expecting You to See

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Cumulus, Nimbus, Amazon and other types of clouds

Cloud computing has become the latest buzz word. Whether you a brand new startup or an established business, you will wonder if Cloud is right for you. The problem is also immensely complicated by the fact the Cloud providers vary in the services they offer and the prices they charge. In this post I will shed some light on the topic.

First a Little History…

The term “Cloud Computing” comes from the cloud shapes used to illustrate the internet in network diagrams. The origins of cloud computing date back to the mid 1990s, when a movement of companies named ASPs (Application Service Providers) or hosted providers created a new kind of application, one that did not require installation on site. Now instead setting up servers and hiring staff, companies could just pay a monthly fee. As time went on, the concept stuck, but the name changed.

In 1999 when Salesforce.com launched, they no longer called themselves an ASP; they called themselves a Software as a Service company (SaaS). Salesforce was great for companies, as it allowed them to pay a per user / per month fee, providing great financial savings over running a CRM server. As the concept caught on, more companies entered the race and more innovation followed. Amazon launched it’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) in 2006 and Google developed Gmail and Docs for the enterprise. 2007 saw the introduction of Heroku, and 2008 brought the Google App Engine. All of these services are different in both design and purpose, the specifics of which we will see now.

Types of Clouds

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

This type of cloud service does it’s best to mimic traditional data centers. You are able to provision individual “server” instances. These servers can then be configured with the required operating systems and software. The top vendors in this space are Amazon, Rack Space as well as IBM. The benefit of this solution is the flexibility of the design, which allows you to create very complex systems. But, there is always a trade-off, and in this case it is ease of use. When using an IaaS provider, you need to be knowledgeable in system architecture and data center administration. This is not a problem for large enterprise, but may be an issue for a small start-up with only a few individuals.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

These services take you one step further from to the “metal.” With them you don’t have to worry about the specific servers or software. In many cases the provider will segment the solution into “services” like processing, storage and caching. This is a lot easier to manage for individuals who have a development background and not a hardware background. However, because you are now thinking in terms of pre-configured services, you have less flexibility in design and technology. Providers support specific software stacks and languages and choosing a provider is more likely to lock you into a particular platform, which is not the case with IaaS. Some well known companies in the PaaS field are Heroku, dotCloud, Microsoft Azure and Google App Engine. These services are easier to use and may be cheaper for smaller apps. The pricing however may exceed IaaS solutions for larger applications.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

This type of cloud provider is placed furthest from the “metal.” The provider has built a software system, and you are just customizing it to fit your need. Notable examples include Salesforce.com and Google Apps for Business. You may be able to customize the application to create a product that is more compatible with your needs, but your options will be somewhat limited. On the other hand, your need for technical expertise is also limited, so you are able to do more with fewer technical resources. The pricing on these services tends to be on a per user basis and may become pretty steep. However, this is offset by the fact that you need fewer technical resources to support the solution.

Some final words

There are many types of clouds and cloud providers; there is no one true solution but rather a gamut of options. Which one is right for your business? Well, that depends. Are you a large or a small business? Do you have technical people available? Do they know hardware or software better? How much custom work does your solution need and how much can you leverage what is already built? There are a lot of questions to be answered but asking them is the first step.

Dmitry Grekov is a technology architect with Accenture and a co-founder of Venue Cricket a marketplace for Chicago Event Venues which is a cloud hosted business, hosted on dotCloud. You can follow him on twitter: @dgrekov.

Yay to yaysornays! So exciting that it is my first post 🙂 Since it is my first post, let me talk about something I like.

Numbers!

I recently stumbled upon some pretty videos showing some pretty numbers on some financial issues. Both of them are kind of old from last year, but I still think they are well made and bring up some good points. And the first one is surprisingly from the ending of a Will Ferrell’s movie.

What I like about them is that they are both informative yet entertaining. Put things into perspective that makes you do more research and thinking about those numbers, like how the Iraq war spendings (3+ trillions) dominated everything else on the graph: OPEC climate change fund (3 billions) and saving amazon rainforest (21 billions).

It stimulates me into thinking about and researching about the numbers. After some research, I found that some part of the graph itself could be a little bit over-exaggerating. In the case of saving amazon rainforest as an example, we should note that the quoted 21 billions to save amazon rainforest is only the amount of money the Brazilian president raising for a new international fund. There are other funds to save the rain forest; policies and infrastructures to achieve the goal.  If you add the costs of those policies and funds over the years, it is definitely way greater than 21 billions; which is the way they calculated the quoted 3+ trillions number for the Iraq and Afghan war. It is a result of adding up the dollar amount spent with the estimated indirect cost and all the predicted costs (healthcare and facilities maintenance) over the future years.

What are your take-away from the graph? and what is the most striking number in the graph to you? What do you think about the the CEO pay to the average employee pay ratio of 319 to 1?

Yay to yaysorna…

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