April 2012

Facebook iconIn the SFGate article titled 4 Companies That Facebook Should Buy, Thursday Bram talks about the the recent change in the way Facebook acquires companies. Until recently, they took the “Borg” approach: buy the company, dismantle it and add their engineering talent and add it to their own pool.

They changed this approach with Instagram, which they’re not dismantling, but letting it stay its own thing, rather like eBay does with PayPal, Google does with YouTube and Microsoft does with Skype. With Facebook having very firmly established itself as a platform and an IPO that looks to be raising $10 billion on the way, they may continue on this path in order to expand their reach.

Bram suggests that they would do well to buy these companies, one of whom is my employer:

  1. Skype: Facebook’s video chat is powered by Skype, but it’s unlikely that Microsoft will sell. They porbably need Skype as a way to boost Windows 8.
  2. LivingSocial: Facebook tried and failed with their own “deal” feature — it might be better for them to simply buy a service that already has brand recognition.
  3. Mixi: Social networking sites are regional creatures, and Facebook might have an easier time branching in Asia by simply buying successful Asian social networks like Mixi.
  4. Shopify: Bram suggests that since Shopify is a hosted service for standalone sites, this might be a talent acquisition. I think that there would be a way to do both: let people open both shops within Facebook and standalone shops, with Facebook showing featured products and being the gateway to the full shop, and Shopify utilizing the social graph, Facebook as a commenting system and Likes as a product recommendation engine.

As for the question as to whether Facebook should buy Shopify, my response is the pragmatic one: “Depends. What’s in it for me?”

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The Software Centipede

by Joey deVilla on April 25, 2012

Cover of the O'Reilly book "SharePoint Apps with LightSwitch"

My blood froze when I discovered the existence of the book SharePoint Apps with LightSwitch. I have nothing against the author, the book or the style in which it’s written; my revulsion has to do with the three technologies mentioned in the title and subtitle:

  • SharePoint: A collection of half-baked web-based tools designed by people who neither like nor “get” the web. However, purchase decision-makers at enterprises and government organizations eat it up, and it’s an unkillable cash cow at Microsoft.
  • Lightswitch: An attempt to bring back the spirit of the old Visual Basic — make the easy tasks easier and the hard tasks possible — but it’s aimed at the wrong market, does the wrong things and is likely to be yet another Microsoft tool to die from neglect (DLR languages like IronPython and IronRuby), product team turf wars (like LINQ) or the world passing it by (like Silverlight). Should probably be free, but sells for $300.
  • VB.NET: Take a nice language like C# and weigh it down with syntax that’s reminiscent of VB. It’s like saying “Hey, I want a little more Italian culture in my life. From now on, I’m doing using only Roman numerals!”

I’d hate to work on a project that used all three together. To me, it sounds like the software version of The Human Centipede.

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Lessons from 4 Months and $18,000 of Ebook Sales

by Joey deVilla on April 24, 2012

Four months ago, Jesse Storimer, a developer at Shopify, started selling his ebook from his own little Shopify shop:

Cover of Jesse Storimer's "Working with Unix Processes"

He figured the book would be a success if he sold $1,000 worth in the first month. Imagine his surprise when he sold $1,000 worth in the first day!

Want to find out more? See this article in the Shopify technology blog: Lessons (and a Challenge!) from 4 Months and $18,000 in Ebook Sales.

Maybe it’s high time I got to writing my book…

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Geeks and Repetitive Tasks

by Joey deVilla on April 24, 2012

Graph: Geeks and Repetitive Tasks

Found via Bruno Oliveira.

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This Shopify Recruiting Poster Made Me Laugh

by Joey deVilla on April 16, 2012

Poster: "Life is too short for .NET. Work at Shopify instead!"

Well that’s pretty much what happened.

Here’s an actual recruiting poster for Shopify. If you’re looking for a cool programming job at a well-funded company backed by the Best Damned Evangelist Ever, you’ll want to visit our careers page.

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Apple store gift card sitting on a Macbook Pro

Pictured above is an Apple Store Gift Card with $500 on it. We’re offering it to the person or team who develops the app that we feel makes the best use of the Shopify API in tomorrow’s HackTO hackathon. There’s still time to register, but do it now!

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How a True Apple Fanboy Orders a New iPad

by Joey deVilla on April 12, 2012

…with the previous model, naturally!

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