This is the coolest thing I have seen in a very, very long time. You need to print out a piece of paper, and then hold it up to your webcam:
Here's a fun little tip: You can open most Sentex key pad-access doors by typing in the following code:
The first *** are to enter into the admin mode, 000000 (six zeroes) is the factory-default password, 99# opens the door, and * exits the admin mode (make sure you press this or the access box will be left in admin mode!)
I'm not sure how prevalent they are, but here in San Francisco, Sentex building access systems seem to be the most popular.
I was recently thinking about the changing business model for many brick and mortar stores, like Best Buy. Where Best Buy used to be price competitive, they now charge a steep markup in-store. People making these purchases seem to be mostly those unaware of the true price. I occasionally purchase from their stores as well, when I absolutely need a physical item and can not get it shipped. Chris had the pleasure of listening to me vent about the absurdity of purchasing a $25 ethernet cable the other day.
Basic economic theory holds that competition should put downwards pressure on prices to where they approach equilibrium, and are fairly close to the cost of manufacturing. Yet this is not happening for ethernet cables. Why is that?
When you boil it down, it seems to be convenience -- you're able to purchase the physical item when you want it, and examine it before you purchase it. Going further, though, convenience doesn't only apply to in-store items.
Weebly is a great example of the power of convenience. When we started off, we heard "Oh, web hosting... that's a commodity" quite a bit. Most people considered it a "solved" problem, and quite boring. But the problem of designing visually appealing content, uploading media, and hosting web pages was far from solved, and a simple, easy to use solution gained quite a bit of traction fairly rapidly.
Which begs the question: "How do you model convenience?"
When analyzing competition, it's quite easy to model out all of the service characteristics, such as features and price. In fact, if you compare Weebly to several horribly outdated web site creators, the feature list might not look that different. The user experience, on the other hand, would be. Where Weebly shines is its simplicity and ease of use. Or, more simply: convenience.
Hopefully, someone with experience could shed some light. How do you model for convenience?
Robby and I went down to Fullerton to learn formation flying, low and hi yoyos, lead and lag pursuits, displacement rolls and all other sorts of dogfighting maneuvers.
The pilots with us take off and land. Once we're in the air, the plane is under our control. Don't ask me how or why this is safe -- I still don't know, but it actually seemed relatively safe at the time.
Check out the video I put together to see us dogfighting, go inverted and into huge loops, and pull some other crazy moves.
The program is called Air Combat USA and flies out of over 15 locations across the US.
I've been trying to set up Genius on iTunes 8 for the last few days, with no luck. I'm getting the "Genius results can't be updated right now. An unknown error occurred (4010)." message during Step 2, "Waiting for Apple to process information".
Looks like lots of other people are having this problem. What's so strange about it, is that it seems to come and go -- sometimes it works for people, sometimes it doesn't. Most people seem to think it's a server load issue.
None of us know if it's a server issue or not. But after the MobileMe fiasco, I'm starting to think that Apple is seriously unprepared in their "capacity planning" department.
Just logged in to Google Analytics today to find that Weebly is used in exactly 200 countries! Pretty exciting. Our top countries are:
1. United States (55.65%)
2. United Kingdom (8.06%)
3. Canada (4.55%)
4. India (3.22%)
5. Australia (2.44%)
6. Brazil (1.81%)
7. Philippines (1.74%)
8. France (1.21%)
9. Netherlands (1.12%)
10. Sweden (0.99%)
One interesting observation: English speaking countries make up 70.7% of Weebly's user base. (Time to internationalize?)
Also interesting to compare against Alexa's estimates of our traffic origin:
United States (40.6%)
United Kingdom (5.9%)
Looking at the errors in these estimates, it looks like Alexa is heavily biased to non-US visitors, and biased towards Indian visitors.
What does your global usage look like?
There's one thing you'll almost certainly need when starting a company: other people's help. The right introduction at the right time can make a world of difference.
How do you get people to help you? If people's interests are aligned to yours, they'll help you out. Those people are called investors. There's another way to get people to help you: make them like you and want to help you.
This ties in with a more general problem that a lot of very technical people face: How can I be a fun person, someone that people want to hang out with?
I was born in France, lived there for seven years, then moved to Casablanca (Morocco) and lived there until I came back to the US for college. Having never spent significant time in the US, I wasn't entirely used to the socializing process when I got here, but I picked up a few simple tips by observing how some of my more popular friends acted. Since I actively did that, I made a mental note of each one. These could generally be summed up as:
"How do I make a good first impression and get people to like me?"
1- Always introduce yourself (with a smile). For some reason, this is really important and labels you as assertive, friendly and outgoing. Make sure you introduce yourself to every member of the group and look them in the eye when shaking their hand. Don't be impolite by interrupting someone, but having said that, there's something very weird about someone who stands around and doesn't introduce themselves.
2- Ask a question. There are a ton of really easy questions you can ask, depending on your social situation. These include general questions, like "Where are you from?" and "What do you do?" as well as more situation-specific ones, like "What company are you with?".
3- Listen to the answer. Keep an open mind and don't assume anything negative. That seems simple, but too many people end up hogging the conversation off the bat by talking about themselves, or judging the other person. However, everybody likes a pleasant person who asks about them, listens, and responds intelligently. They'll usually return the favor by asking about you.
4- Figure out another question to ask based on the previous response. If you can find a way to add some kind of rapport, this is best, like "Oh, you're an engineering major? So am I!" or "You work at Trulia? I have a good friend that works there!". At worst, you should be able to ask for more information: "You go to UCSB? What major are you?"
5- Ask another question. Rinse and repeat.
That's really all there is to it. Besides being generally beneficial to your social life, being a genuinely fun and interesting person has one important benefit to your startup: It makes people want to help you, even if they won't personally benefit from doing so.
In other words, if you get feedback that you're not very "sociable", it is a huge benefit for you to learn to be so. It's not something that everybody is born with, but it is most definitely learnable.
It's always interesting to see new technology for sound. There's a huge opportunity for someone to create software that's better able to understand music the way a DJ might (BPM, key, etc) and automatically create a mix by beatmatching and cycling through the circle of fifths, for example.
thisismyjam.com tries to do that. It's a demo product built on The Echo Nest APIs. It's cool to see something like this on the web, but from my testing, it's about as good as existing software out there that's desktop-based or built into hardware like the Pioneer CMX-3000.
There's no reason why a computer can't eventually do the same thing a human DJ can. In the meantime, here's a quick mix I created with thisismyjam.
Do you take into account the hidden cost when making decisions? It's one of those areas where I used to fail miserably. I've learned to take it into account over the last couple years, but only recently was able to formulate the concept properly.
The idea goes something like this: Behind most obvious decisions is a non-obvious hidden cost, which can often outweigh the benefit of the "obvious" decision.
I stumbled upon a great real-world example in the drive-through to Taco Bell a few days ago. I realized that there was a flaw in the system: I could order, then drive up to the payment window, and not be able to pay. Taco Bell would likely throw away the food, and have to eat the cost. The system had a flaw. Engineers like fundamentally perfect systems, and that's a good thing.
But if an engineer had designed the drive-through, you would probably have to pay before they started making your food. Impossible to game, flaw destroyed. The problem is, what's the cost of the extra time involved in waiting until you receive payment before you start making the food? And what's the cost per meal wasted times the number of times that the customer is not able to pay? There's a reason they start making your food right away: It saves a ton of time, and people are able to pay most of the time.
Seems obvious, right? Then why do we still insist on requiring two password fields, one for verification? Or two email fields? Sure, a banking application might require this... but your average web app? You could look at it this way: What's the chance that someone will mistype both their email AND password, weighed against the drop-off in signups because of the extra form fields. You will drop a significant number of sign-ups with the added fields, but there will be a very small percentage of people who get both their email and password wrong.
Another pet peeve that PG originally pointed out to us: requiring email confirmation as part of the sign-up process. Email is notoriously unreliable, and often gets flagged as spam or not delivered. Why would you require an email confirmation as part of your sign-up process when there is a high probability that the email will never be received, and the user won't be able to sign-up? Maybe I'm in a computer lab and I get email on my laptop. Tough luck, I can't use the website now, when I want to -- I have to wait until I can check my email. Does that high of a percentage of people not supply their correct email address, that you need to require confirmation? And does having a confirmed email address outweigh the big drop-off in signups?
We've learned to take the hidden cost into account with Weebly. It can apply to across the board: Adding features weighed against the added complexity to your application, bootstrapping weighed against the loss in growth momentum, increased security weighed against the increased difficulty in using the application.
In a nutshell: each decision you make will have a negative counterpart. Even (and especially) the most obvious decisions. Figure out what that hidden cost is, and make sure it doesn't outweigh the original benefit.