Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

How our Users Rave about Tonido?

 

Holy cow, this looks awesome!

I’ve spent literally weeks looking for the right solution to share photos and videos with family. Started with SmugMug, then Amazon Cloud, then Google+/Picasa, then S3. Some have lousy control over permissions, some don’t have decent iPad apps, some don’t have any sort of transcoding for large files. And the killer: all of them cost a fortune for storage. I just can’t spend $1000/yr for family photo sharing. Then I started looking at the Gallery/Coppermine/Piwigo stuff. But what the hell do I want to become a sysadmin/programmer for, especially when the end result is going to be so awful looking? I’ve wasted so much of my life on LAMP — it sucks me in because I can do it, but then I get really irritated with the long term consequences of following that path. I thought OpenPhoto would be a good compromise, but now they’re TroveBox, and no longer work on local storage, but I installed the git version, and it almost seemed good enough. And throughout this, I almost bought a Synology device, but really the photo/video apps aren’t all that slick, and although they’re great for data protection, they’re sort of anemic in terms of speed/hardware. Oh, then there was the XBMC/Plex media sharing class of stuff, which is what I was probably going to end up with, but again, they are meant for sharing video, on TVs. No file-level permissions, user experience is TV-based, Plex would make everybody enter into a world of TV channels to see my Photo “channel”.

I’ve truly been going crazy with all of this.

You really need to advertise more. Only recently, when I started searching for “private cloud”, have I been finding solutions closer to what I need. And even then, it’s taken me days to get here.

If I’m still as excited about this after trying it out for a few days, I’ll be happily paying for the Pro (so cheap! And only I will need to pay, no need to get my mom agitated over cost!) or Biz subscription. Any OS VM I like, in front of a FreeNAS, and that sucker can run all year long.

The one thing that’s going to be missing is ability to add comments to photos. Then notification to group members that there are new comments. And maybe emailing of individual files — social sharing. But at this point, it’s the best trade-off I’ve seen.

Anyway, the tl;dr version: Awesome work, folks!

 

– Happy User

 

Note:  We have posted the comment as it is. No Edits.

Top Business Software for running a Small Business

After operating as a distributed development team over the last 4 years, we at CodeLathe have some vociferous opinions on what software really cuts it for getting things done in a small to medium business. Now, we are only including general communication, collaboration tools for running a general business. This does not include innumerable other tools we use internally for code development, testing, builds, integration etc.

Without much ado, here’s the list: Feel free to comment.

 

Microsoft Office

Really nothing to say other than you need a copy. You can’t run a business without a MS Office copy running on all your computers.

Skype


CodeLathe runs on Skype.

We do text chats, voice chats, video chats on Skype 24/7 and 365 days of the year. In fact some of the group chat history extends back to startup times of our company. It is also an invaluable tool to work with others outside our company whether it is to call them internationally with really cheap calling rates or doing quick text chats to catch up on status, questions, troubleshooting etc.

Join.me


The easiest way to share screens when you need absolutely need to sit together and huddle over a computer screen.

Intercall


OK, this is really not software but a service, but it is an indispensable tool so I am adding it anyway. We tried out a lot of conference calling solutions, but the best conference calling solution so far has been Intercall. You can’t beat the quality, reliability and pricing.

TrustFax

No one really needs a fax number these days, but it useful to send and receive faxes from vendors can only interface with via fax or postal mail. With Trustfax, you get a fax number for a low yearly payment and it sure beats a trip to the postoffice.

Tonido

 

Of course we build Tonido, so we are biased. But we use Tonido on a daily basis to share files, folders, large attachments instantly via skype or email by creating quick share links. We also send tonido links to downloads to people outside the company and synchronize files using Tonido Sync without worrying about data privacy, availability.  We also have a single shared folder allowing access to contents for all our users outside our company. With the company growing, we eventually might start using Tonido Cloud instead as our own
self-hosted file sharing and sync solution
.

Like our list, what is yours? What did we leave out?

 

 

 



 

 

 


 

No more new Visual Studio Express Editions for developing non-metro apps

According to Ars Technica, the free Visual Studio Express 2011(or 2012) will no longer support building standard desktop applications using C++. It will only support building metro apps for the upcoming Windows 8 OS.

“If you want to develop desktop applications—anything that runs at the command line or on the conventional Windows desktop that remains a fully supported, integral, essential part of Windows 8—you’ll have two options: stick with the current Visual C++ 2010 Express and Visual C# 2010 Express products, or pay about $400-500 for Visual Studio 11 Professional. A second version, Visual Studio 11 Express for Web, will be able to produce HTML and JavaScript websites, and nothing more.”

As a long term user of Visual Studio Express edition, it is a blow to C++ developers worldwide. Microsoft must have its own reasons, but hoping that they will reconsider.

RIP: Dennis Ritchie: Creator of the C Language

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Dennis Ritchie created the ‘C’ language one of the most important building blocks of modern computer systems.  C was the perfect language that allowed raw performance as well as being expressive than Assembly language. It was a practical, no-nonsense language and you can still see it in action in so many platforms.

It was also the forerunner of  C++, which is my favorite programming language as well as on what Tonido is written in.

Without C (and C++), programs like Tonido that run on modern operating systems with oodles of memory as well as on tiny embedded systems like routers, NASes with miniscule  memory are not possible.

Dennis Ritchie has certainly left his mark and shaped the world.

Convenience is mother of all transforming inventions

A few months back, I was explaining to someone in a mixer event about TonidoPlug and the convenience that it offers to consumers. The person (may be a self proclaimed tech guru), whom I was explaining to, said “people don’t care about convenience. You should focus on a fist pounding need.”. His conviction started make me believe what he said might be correct. However, when I got back home, I realized how wrong he was.

Let us take an example. One night in 1949, when Frank McNamara finished his dinner in a restaurant, he realized that he didn’t have enough money to pay the bill. He starting thinking ‘is there a simpler way to carry cash?’ and went on to invent Diner card, which was the first step towards credit cards. In 1940s, no one complained about carrying cash and no one was pounding their fist to find an alternative for money.

Credit card was born out of convenience. Would commerce have grown across globe without credit cards? I doubt ecommerce would have been possible without invention of credit cards. In 1950s and 60s, no one would have imagined how credit cards will revolutionize shopping and will enable consumers to buy things without actually visiting stores.

I’m pretty sure that when wheels were invented, not everyone in the tribe was working feverishly on the problem of solving for a wheel. Probably, a smart lazy guy thought “why should I carry all these things? How can I make my life easier? Can’t I push things by placing them on top of logs?” thus wheels were invented. Wheels were born out of convenience and unknowingly pushed human race ahead.

Inventions that are born out of necessity fill a small immediate need and can’t be transformational. On the other hand, inventions driven by convenience revolutionize the world and opens doors for possibilities that can’t be imagined currently. If I extend this argument one step further, laziness drives people look for ways to make things convenient. Hence we owe all the growth not to people who were aggressive and zealous but to people who were lazy and were trying to make their life easier.

Similar to Dos Equis commercial, my comments are “Stay lazy, my friends. Unknowingly we are changing the world!!”

Ten thousand is the magic number

outliers

Recently, I finished reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. Though I’m not a big fan of the author, somehow in this book, Malcolm made his subject compelling for me to read.

Malcolm says if you want to be world class at doing something, you have to spend 10,000 hours on it.

Malcolm gives multiple examples to prove how 10,000 is the magic number.

According to him, Bill Gates had over 10,000 hours of programming before he dropped out of Harvard to start Microsoft. Similarly Bill Joy had worked more than 10,000 hours of programming at UMich before he co-founded Sun Microsystems.

Interesting non-tech example are the Beatles, who had performed before live audiences in bars for ten thousand hours before their super duper hits. After these many examples, I was convinced about this magic number.

Can I gain mastery at anything if I just put thousands of hours working on it?

If I follow stocks for 10-15 years, can I become a master of stock prediction? Maybe not. Which means that there are some skills that can be learned and some that can’t be learned. Also, doing it the wrong way 10,000 hrs will also not help. Not only do we need to work for many hours, we need to do it the right way and that means we need a good mentor to show us the path.

I did a simple mental math how many years will it take to reach 10,000 hrs of experience. If I did it full time, I can do 8-10 hrs/day and finish it in ~1000 days which is close to 3-4 years. If do it as a hobby or part-time, I can spend 2-3 hours per day, and I’ll take probably close to 10 years to reach my ten thousand hours.

However, time available to focus on an area reduces dramatically as you get older. So if you don’t gain a skill early in your life, odds are you might not master a skill when you are old.  Ouch!

Question remains what would have I done if I had known about this 20 years back?

Maybe, I would have been an world class painter today. Probably, the world lost its next Picasso…

CodeLathe: Two years later…

Today marks two years since I quit my job to start CodeLathe.. See my post 2 years back and our announcing Tonido post 1 year back for a trip down nostalgia lane. Happy to be still around and going strong!

But here’s to clarify something that various people have asked questions about, the meaning of the startup’s name: CodeLathe. If you didn’t know, a Lathe (pronounced Lay-th) is a machine which spins a block of material to perform various operations such as cutting, sanding, knurling or drilling. So our startup is like a Lathe except that the material is software code. So CodeLathe, Get it?

Here’s a video of a Lathe in action from Youtube.

We would be happy to hear your thoughts and comments so feel free to let us know how we are doing…

CES in Snapshots : Day 3

Even our friend's dog uses the TonidoPlug!

Even our friend's dog uses the TonidoPlug!

Looks like an ad for Tonido..

Looks like an ad for Tonido..

Intel's Touch Screen Demo

Intel's Touch Screen Demo

Canon had a live stage where you could try out their HD camcorders

Canon had a live stage where you could try out their HD camcorders

3D TV seems to be the next big thing

3D TV seems to be the next big thing

Robot Football

Robot Football

Play music by just waving your hands

Play music by just waving your hands

Samsung's booth was impressive

Samsung's booth was impressive

A "Hi-tech" cleaning product at CES

A "Hi-tech" cleaning product at CES

Pretty good name and tagline

Pretty good name and tagline

Karoake anyone?

Karoake anyone?

Thats a good way to kill time on a long drive

Thats a good way to kill time on a long drive

5 Tips on Getting Things Done in a Startup

A New Year 2010.

New Challenges, New Goals and a Fresh start. Every one dreams of wiping all the imperfect years off the slate and starting of new.

One of the things everyone wants to do is draw up a bunch of things that they want to get done and want it out of their way. It is easier said than done. Even with the best of intentions, the list becomes harder and harder to get accomplished, until finally it is abandoned altogether.

So here’s my take on getting things accomplished. After running a startup the last 2 years, I have some ideas (and opinions) on what works and what doesn’t. So if you are planning on executing for your next hypercool startup or just want to get stuff done some of this will be helpful.

1. Identify your Top Level Goal

You need to figure out what exactly you want. And you need to reason this out at the 50,000 foot, 100,000 foot or even better from outer space level. Although this sounds easy, this IS the hardest thing to do. Often times, figuring out what you want is impossible especially when you are operating a startup and you have no clue what you are doing(better not tell anyone). And notice, I said Goal not Goals. To execute, you need to be focused, if you try to do too many things, you will utterly fail. For example, your goal this month could be getting a major functional piece done and released.

2. Figure out the small tasks that make up your Top Level Goal

Every goal needs to be split into smaller digestible pieces, which don’t take more than a day to execute. Say if you are working on a new Website for your product, you can make the tasks be

  1. Figure out the outline
  2. Flesh out individual pages
  3. Add interactive scripts/analytics
  4. Talk to Graphics Designer and send site content
  5. Implement new site provided by designer

3. Keep the Goal Horizon Small

What I mean is that every single goal should be achievable within a month or less. More than that and you are setting yourself up for failure. If you have a goal that takes more than a few months, you are not really working on a startup; You are working for an established company. You don’t have that kind of luxury in a startup.

4. Sprint Every Single Day

Once you have a blue print, execution becomes straightforward. You just need to get those small tasks done and when you do, your Goal is complete as well. Every morning I write what I hope to get done in the day as a list in whiteboard. I write that down in BIG BOLD LETTERS and I start work on them. Keeping the tasks in my face makes me focused on the task at hand instead of reading the latest Gamespot reviews.

5. Keep things Organized and written down

You absolutely need a way to keep everything written down so you can look it up later or take actions on it. Never ever, trust your tasks to memory.

I have three “InBoxes”. My Email Inbox, Wiki and Whiteboard.

My Email Inbox is where I get stuff to do from the outside world.  Once I reply to an email and if there is no other action to be done I move it out of my inbox. Other times, it stays there till what I need to get done is complete. In a sense it is a reminder for me.

I keep all my high level goals, and tasks in the Wiki. At any time, the Wiki stores all my ideas as well. This way everything is captured.

Finally the Whiteboard stores all my day-to-day tasks. The contents driven by the goals in the wiki or emails in my inbox. Getting the whiteboard list done and complete everyday gives immense satisfaction and a feeling of measurable progress.

After fashioning my own system, I stumbled upon David Allen’s Getting Things Done book a couple of months ago and I found he gave a clear and insightful way of getting things done which I am sure will also be quite useful. Highly Recommended Reading.

Incredible 2009

It is almost 2 years (Jan 2008) since I quit my job to start CodeLathe and got the team together to build Tonido. It has been an incredible roller coaster ride since then for us with more highs than lows. I wouldn’t claim there were no lows, but the lows always made us appreciate the highs even better.

The biggest impact has been the incredibly positive and encouraging  response by our users, customers and the media. It has really made the difference in us having the ability to weather the many storms we faced.

And by any measure, 2009 was pretty incredible for CodeLathe. It was finally the year in which we released Tonido after working on it night and day the last one and half years. Here’s a quick recap of the 2009 highlights:

March 2009: Released Tonido Beta, with Workspace, Jukebox, Photos, Webshare

Apr 2009: Released Thots, ClipThots FF plugin, TonidoFox FF plugin

May 2009: Released Search

Aug 2009: Released TonidoPlug HW, Tonido went Live, Released Torrent, Explorer, OpenID , WebsharePro apps

Oct 2009: Released Tonido Relay Service

Nov 2009: Released Tonido Application Store support, WebsharePro Drag and Drop Uploader

Dec 2009: Released Backup

The list is phenomenal, but I am sure many of you will be more interested in what is coming next in 2010..

Without spilling all the beans, here’s some of the surefire things you can expect, Money Manager Ex on Tonido, native iPhone app support, more OS support (more Linux Distros) etc. Also expect Tonido 1.0 to finally reach your computer next year. We clearly see what needs to get done to get there.

But even more importantly there will be a huge focus in making Tonido easy and intuitive to use especially by the average non-geek user. So look for a ton of improvements to arrive at a breakneck pace.

Every startup goes through a lot of tough times, soul-searching and challenges, and ultimately, it is the people who are in it as well as around it that makes or breaks it and I am glad to say we are going strong and growing even stronger with each passing day, not only in terms of users and revenue, but also in terms of conviction and a sense of purpose to build a great product that will really change the world.

So thank y’all for a mighty fine 2009!