October 15th, 2013 § § permalink
Proud to announce that my favorite startup community has matured to the stage, where we had to organize Internet Week – a whole week packed with events of various kinds, by several partner organizers, on multitude of topics. We are sponsored by the Digital Champion of Slovenia.
You should all take time between October 23rd-30th, and go visit at least a handful of the events, and get to know the community better. At Zemanta we will be hosting startup crawl next friday, when everyone is welcome to stop by for drinks and chats about the future of the web publishing.
I was fortunate to see how Internet Week NY developed, from it’s modest first year 2008, to an overwhelming festival of entrepreneurship it is now. I hope Ljubljana will follow a similar path, as it is the only way to the future.
Oh, and if you want to promote your event as well, give me a shout. happy to add it to the list.
Join us. Move on.
September 20th, 2013 § § permalink
after two months, i’m finally starting to see the other side of the new windows.
- IE 11 in metro UI is very interesting browser. why wouldnt we put tabs on the bottom and make them into thumbnails? why wouldnt we make browser black? the whole app feels much more comfortable than safari or chrome or opera with their ‘efficient’ focus. however, IE currently doesnt show rounded corners. even worse, it shows absolutely fugly X marks across every windows/div that should be rounded. it’s amazingly fugly. and amazingly annoying over time, to the point that i had to switch back to chrome.
- chrome on the other hand is crippled. plugins only work in desktop mode, which means i have to switch from metro every time i want to use flash or hangouts. also, in hangouts, my built-in camera doesnt work. i realize it’s not windows problem, but ironically it will add up to a potential decision to switch OS again.
- apps keep crashing. both evernote and trello and chrome, the apps i need and like the most, are unstable. i realize it’s because i’m early to use them, but still – it’s unacceptable to loose a note in evernote. repeatedly. i was forced to switch to desktop version of evernote, which is, meh. i really like metro one.
- despite efforts from apple, my macbook air seems to be unsupported – it started ok, but now less and less functions still work – brightness control (of any kind), earphones output, usb dies from time to time, and i still didnt figure out how hibernation / suspend work. lucky for me it’s mainly plugged into power these days. the brightness problem is hard on my eyes and might make me switch back in the end.
- the powershell is limited in width. that’s just incomprehensible to me. it’s hard to program this way.
- all my music is in itunes. i feel locked-in a bit, into ugly, non-metro itunes. disappointed by apple, but again, it might affect my decision.
- the computer sometimes just shuts off while i’m away, and i find it rebooted without explanation. it’s not hugely annoying, but it leaves bad taste and makes you feel insecure.
- there are no upgrades and fixes! well, to be honest, there was one. i couldn’t tell what changed. i’m waiting on them every day, since this is a year long preview, i assumed it’s because they want to actually fix these problems. at least the rounded corners or something.
- desktop mode is still, well, everything we hate about windows – bloated with features, severe lack of smart defaults, free-for-all platform that i dont want to use.
- mail and calendar dont really work with google account. i barely managed to get read-only calendar working, and it took me two days to enable two-factor authentication gmail account to work, which sadly stopped working after first month. i still didnt figure out how to fix it, and am forced to use chrome for mail now. i really miss that email client, even though it doesn’t support the ‘archive’ feature of gmail.
… all of these problems are slowly creeping up on me, making me feel more and more miserable. what hurts the most is that as a user, i can feel that the designers and coders and testers did not have me in mind when building this product. i feel neglected, alone and sad, because my gmail account doesnt work. i’m not so special – there must be hundreds of thousands of people just like me, who are ignored by such great people who designed this amazing product.
and this is the key lesson i got from these two months of the experiment. the users feel if you think about them, or if you dont. it’s felt in the details from their everyday life, not the overall design and decisions like buttons vs. tiles. those are really just the start.
September 13th, 2013 § § permalink
i’m performing an experiment on myself this summer – i switched completely to the new windows 8.1 when it came out, and have used them exclusively. to be honest, i didn’t think i’d last a day, but then a week passed by, then a month, and i still wasn’t missing the os x.
i have a long history with OS’s. i started with dos and windows 95 of course, then used linux exclusively for 10 years, recently have been using OS X exclusively for 4 years. these switches were usually related to the changes in the work / fun i had with my computer. last few years i’ve turned into an office hog, with occasional perl and django programming. the point is, i know my way around different OS’s as a power user, and it’s been ages since we’ve seen any real innovation in the space.
so i did it. and i was fascinated. here’s why:
- great apps designed for touch, means they are clean on desktop. i dont have windows tablet, but i sure appreciate that i can use the same apps, that were designed for fingers, on my computer. the fact that all these great apps were redesigned from scratch for this new experience, gives them amazing usability advantage over the apps that started with ‘windows’ paradigm. evernote touch, trello, maps, and similar, are simply joyful to use. there is nothing but what i need from them on the screen at any point in time. nothing. nada. zilch. no buttons, no menus, no chrome, not even sliders. only me and the content i want to focus on. you can feel that the whole UI is designed for monotasking, and is driving you towards that, no-add usage patterns, that end up in lower blood pressure and better sleep.
- gorgeous email and calendar client. built on top of the previously explained monotasking UI paradigm, they finally did a good job with the basic apps. remember the revolution apple mail and calendar did ten years ago? the same leap is happening here.
- just enough stacking windows. i understand that back in the eighties, the big war of the OS’s was exactly about the ability to show windows that overlapped. but i feel so much better in the new metro UI with windows that can only stack next to each other, and can only do so on three places on the screen. smart and efficient default, that makes the user feel safe and in control. want to take notes while doing a skype call? no problem, just stack ‘one quarter’ of the evernote touch next to skype, and you can do that without being left with horribly looking set of overlapping windows, taskbar and desktop peeking trough holes.
- live tiles and start area. i was impressed when apple introduced launchpad into os X- the concept they learned worked on tablets worked just as well on desktop. but they stopped there, and microsoft didnt. it makes so much more sense to go all in, and make it the default screen, that is designed to give control to you fingertips. this time for real. and guess what – squares with sharp corners and text are just fine, i dont need stupid circular icons that don’t mean anything. building ‘dashboard widgets’ straight into the tiles themselves, is the ultimate simplification that basically merges four OS X features: launchpad, the dock, dashboard, task bar. beat this apple!
- works out of the box. it only rebooted twice and it just worked. i could start clicking around, setting it up in many useless but joyful ways. also, the new booting fish progress bar is cute.
- burns less battery. really, this is a big one. in today’s world of bloated software i really really appreciate OS that is economical.
- charms are small featurettes available trough a right pane that shows when you move the mouse to that edge. they are actually pretty useful – as opposed to os x’s random social media and notifications bar, charms are tools – print, scan, share, setup, search. it’s the same genius that was behind the apple icon in the fixed menu bar ten years ago, just better.
- new metro control panel – apple’s control panel with great search highlighter was brilliant. new metro control panel is better, because you dont really have to search it to find stuff – it’s so much simpler, and so much cleaner, that it takes you no time to find and change a setting. and there are no settings available, that wouldnt be obviously necessary, while everything else apparently just works so i dont have to think about it.
- external screen behaves by default either as a continuous desktop or two separate metro areas, giving you great flexibility to arrange a work environment, without loosing the benefits of cleanliness and monotasking focus.
- social response. it’s really fun to observe how my colleagues one by one noticed the hated OS on my machine, had a cynical or puzzled or worried comment, listened to my explanation and demo of these features with tilted head, and left with some respect in their eyes and a glimpse of excitement and hope. when you see these feature work properly, they are impressive.
as a bonus let me just add that everything else that used to be good at windows is still good, and more stable. my next step is to get a windows phone and see how they work together.
keep in mind, that i’m trying to behave as a somewhat normal user – i need my computer to give me a reliable and predictable access to web, mail, spreadsheets, notes, music, cloud, pictures, news and some other things. no power user crap this time.
August 20th, 2013 § § permalink
Fred Wilson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We launched a fun new featurette today—the tech circle. You can read more about it on our main blog, and on Fred Wilson’s blog, but in essence it is a showcase for our latest product, the content discovery network.
This was my first product launch again in years, so I couldn’t sleep really. But not simply because something was going to go live.
Since Fred was leading the pack with his blog post, and since Fred blogs early in the morning, we had to flip the switch on his blog before he wakes up. Because all blogging tools are somewhat old, the best way to do that is to actually put some code into the design of the site.
I’ve had Fred’s google analytics
access for a while now, and now he shared his blog access as well. So I had the honor to hack my way trough Typepad’s opaque templating system. Of course I first tried on a test blog, and of course the templates changed on the live blog as well while I was still figuring out how it all works. Hopefully nobody noticed.
Anyways, our recommendations have now connected together a group of very interesting product people from very different backgrounds. Would love to hear your comments on it, and would love to hear if anyone would want to start a new circle with some of your blogging friends.
May 20th, 2013 § § permalink
Children playing Paperboy on an Amstrad CPC 464 in the 1980s (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I am proud to be part of a group of enthusiasts, who have 10 years ago started systematically collecting and exhibiting computer history in Slovenia. the pinnacle of this first decade was the recent exhibition Goto1982, prepared in collaboration with MNZS, that covered the cambrian explosion of home computers extensively.
Today, we are hosting a closing event for this exhibition, which is moving on to be hosted by Technical Museum of Slovenia for the next 12 months. We are extremely proud to be recognized and trusted by both institutions, and by thousands of visitors who left very optimistic comments, like “omg, this was my first one!“, and “this is confusing, i feel young and old at the same time“. thank you all!
We are more sure than ever, that technology is not just part of everyone’s lives today, but essential ingredient in everyone’s personal story. Each and every one I talk to these days doesn’t feel intimidated or bored by the idea of this Museum, quite the contrary – with glitter in the eyes, everyone starts listing objects from their past that they have been safely storing until now.
We are opening a new chapter today – we will be announcing the founding of Computer Museum Society, and inviting new members and supporters to join. Our plan is to build a different museum – one that will not only educate about the past, but also think ahead, educating the youth and bringing together professional communities.
To do this next step, we first need your help. We need you to raise your hand in support and basically say: “yes, computers and other contemporary technologies have made me what I am today, I don’t want this to pass by unexplored.”
You can support our efforts by:
- showing up tonight, at 6pm in MNZS
- becoming ‘supportive member’ with a donation, which gets you the right to wear exclusive t-shirt, learn about our next steps in real time and your place on our wall of fame
- thinking of 10 friends who might support our cause and telling them about it
March 18th, 2013 § § permalink
I gave several book interviews since starting Zemanta and moving to NYC, most of them in the last 18 months. Lots of authors are exploring the technology revolution that we were fortunate to participate in.
Books are coming this year, discussing it from various angles – comparatively with .com boom, the rise of entrepreneurship Europe, new entrepreneurship as a lifestyle, … It is no surprise to me, that the first book to actually publish is the one specifically celebrating NY tech community and agility and resilience.
Tech and the City became available on Kindle two days ago, and hardcopies are coming in April. I received the notification from the authors this morning, and already I’m half way trough it. It’s that good.
It starts with an amazingly inspiring foreword by Fred Wilson, which alone is worth the $2.99, as it perfectly outlines the mental model of the greatest city on the planet. After that, the book only gets better, weaving the story trough fragments of conversations with participants in the ecosystem, rather than lazily throwing together yet another series of interviews. This enables the book to read like a travel diary, rather than a self-hype-help business manual.
For the finish, the authors have collected a very comprehensive list of the NY tech ecosystem institutions – vc’s, events, co-working spaces and competitions. They have also published them on the official blog of the book.
It’s cheap and it’s short, and it’s awesome. Go read it and learn how you should be thinking about helping entrepreneurs in your cities / countries.
February 19th, 2013 § § permalink
I have a very special announcement to make, at least very special to me. i’m happy to be announcing the launch of a community project, that’s building on top of the WordPress Plugins directory, augmenting it’s default information about the plugin, with some never-seen-before data, that should make your decisions when evaluating plugins even easier. It’s called RankWP.com
I have been a blogger since 2004, ever since i installed my first WordPress, version 1.0 if i recall correctly. it was the hottest thing online back then, and one could argue, it still is. Also, the first product we ever released at zemanta was a WordPress plugin. of course we uploaded it to the directory, and rejoiced when we saw bloggers discover it, starting to use it, leave reviews and ratings.
one of the best features wordpress had, and still has, is it’s extensibility trough plugins. there is a plugin for just about anything you could think of, more possibly, there are several. for every wordpress-based site owner, testing various plugins is a regular, and fun activity. wordpress.org directory is like an app store for website owners, built in a true open-source fashion as an ever-growing and ever-improving repository of blogging goodness, where developers across the globe are building on top of previous efforts of likeminds.
with thousands of plugins available, it’s not always easy to find the best one for your needs. it’s easier if you know just how popular it really is, so we have built an algorithm that estimates the actual number of active users of each plugin. plugins also become more or less popular over time, so we started tracking their popularity rank and show you how it’s changing. both of these informations are available now for all the plugins for the first time.
all these great plugins are built by people, and most developers publish more than one. we are happy to expose most successful developers based on the aggregate number of users of all their plugins. of course automattic’s own developers have a clear lead, but of the independent developers, Yoast is a clear winner. I’ve shown him an early version of this project and he was kind enough to say a few words for this announcement:
“For users to find new plugins, or better alternatives to plugins they’re already using, is really rather hard. RankWP seems to be a very good step in the right direction of allowing people to see what other people use, which plugins get installed and uninstalled more often and which developers tend to have good plugins. I hope they keep developing this as the community could really use this.” – Joost de Valk
you’re all cordially invited to take a look, send me feedback, suggestions, corrections. if anyone feels like helping, either coding or editing the content, you will be very welcome.
January 21st, 2013 § § permalink
first, a disclaimer. in light of recent political events and unrests in slovenia, i’d like to stress that this post is not meant to take any sides. i’ll merely try to point out to a project that might otherwise go unnoticed.
English: Detail from Government. Mural by Elihu Vedder. Lobby to Main Reading Room, Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
last year, i’ve spend a couple of days reading our national budget. the purpose of the exercise was to find ways to create something not unlike the famous ‘death and taxes’ infographic. i was pleasantly surprised with the fact, that our budget is actually very well designed, with fascinating inherent structure of programs and spenders, but unpleasantly not-surprised, that it was published as PDF.
to create an infographic with such complex data, that should be rebuilt every year, one needs programmatic ways to process it. so i ended up parsing the pdf, with many silly problems on the way. but it worked, and i’ve published the broken-down version for the years 2010-2012.
that was in spring, and ever since i’ve been waiting for the new government to finally publish the budget that was supposed to govern us this year, so i could compare it with the old ones. i really resent the fact that the budget was kept unpublished all throughout the legislative process. i really feel it’s an insult to the citizens.
but, they finally published it last week, and to my great surprise, they’ve really made an effort – they published detailed explanations of each section, and, ta-da-da-da, we have machine-parsable CSV files as well!
i realize it’s not perfect, but it’s light years ahead of what we used to have to deal with. so, who’s up for some info-charting now?
August 29th, 2012 § § permalink
English: Spanish metal button circa 1650-1675, 12mm diameter. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Every blogger writing about technology and/or startups knows how important Hacker News is for promoting good, quality articles. The effect of being published there is comparable to more general sharing sites like Reddit and Digg and StumbleUpon.
Unfortunately, unlike it’s bigger cousins, this service is not supported by WordPress.com as an option for sharing buttons, after the post. Luckily we have an option to add custom sharing button, that makes it really easy to create a custom button yourself. Here’s how.
- In your WordPress.com dashboard, Go to Settings -> Sharing
- Click ‘Add a new service’ under ‘Available services’, a popup will show up
- Put ‘Hacker News’ under service name,
- Put “http://news.ycombinator.com/submitlink?u=%22+%post_full_url%+%22&t=%22+%post_title%” under Sharing URL,
- Put “http://ycombinator.com/images/y18.gif” under Icon URL, and hit ‘create share button’
- Drag the newly created ‘available service’ button to enabled services
and you’re done, now you have a shiny new HackerNews sharing button under every blog post. relax.
August 15th, 2012 § § permalink
Tim Berners-Lee: The World Wide Web
I was curious about the total pageviews of the web. It turns out they are not really tracked anywhere, and that they are easy to estimate, so I did a quick analysis.
First I found two sources for ‘global total pageviews’:
- Akamai Net Usage Index - amazing real time dashboard of part of this data. They say that every minute 3 million pageviews are spent on news sites, and 10 million on social sites. That’s friggin’ a lot of pageviews! But I wanted to know the grand total, and hopefully get some sense on where the blogs are in the picture.
- blog post about interpolating this data from Alexa. Nice approach, but a few years old data, so I decided to repeat the process.
Alexa publishes pageviews for every site for free as a % of global pageviews. First thing to do was estimate the grand total, as described in that blog post, by looking at the published data from Wikipedia.
11,600,000,000 / 0.5% = 2320,000,000,000 monthly total pageviews on the Web
… told you it was easy but that just means we can dig deeper. Alexa publishes the list of top million sites in a downloadable text file, so I wrote a script to go trough it, scrape Alexa pages for top 10.000 sites and store their individual traffic shares.
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