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Monthly archives for July, 2011

Interview with TinyGrab – What’s next?

I’ve been thrilled to be able to talk with the new owner of TinyGrab.com – Company 52’s CEO Michael Poythress.

After weeks of quietly taking the rains of the Simple, Screenshot Sharing Service TinyGrab.com it’s now official, TinyGrab is under new management and we’ve got a great insight into this acquisition, and what’s next for TinyGrab.

Let’s Jump In.

So who are Company 52? And what do you do?

We are Company 52, a small development agency primarily based in the U.S.  We work as a completely distributed team, and don’t have a traditional office.  But we still have structure, order, and professionalism – this is a full-time job for all of us.  Our exact size fluctuates a little as we try out new developers and designers and as our workload increases – some people love the distributed model and flourish with it, others don’t handle it so well.  To stay on the same page, we start out each day with a quick phone call so each person can share what they accomplished the day before, and what they expect to accomplish today

Being distributed, we have a pretty relaxed / entrepreneurial management style.  Everyone on our team is competent, self-motivated, and self-disciplined, but we do have very clear leadership to prioritize projects and set the tone / culture / goals.  Our goal is to use technology to empower people – both through providing our development expertise to others (for hire), and through developing and maintaining apps of our own.  Our own apps are usually more fun and less stressful 🙂

The professionalism and discipline we operate with allows us to work with some very large organizations as clients.  Our specialty as an agency is getting great results *fast* – so there’s an emphasis on setting aggressive goals and timelines as a team, and working hard together to reach them.

Online tools make our business work.  In addition to our daily calls, we collaborate throughout the day using online chat and instant messaging, a project management tool, and Dropbox.  TinyGrab was a tool that helped us work together better and faster, and that’s how we ended up here today 🙂

We’ve never raised any outside money, and have taken the more slow, steady bootstrapped growth approach with our company.

For a little more on C52, you can see our website or http://www.crunchbase.com/company/company-52

Some of the other online applications we’ve developed from scratch and currently operate include PianoScheduler.com (a business tool for piano tuners – a very small niche), RainMakerApp.com (a financial donation tool for Twitter), and Tweet2Give (a white-label version of RainMaker for larger organizations).  We also have another online service that’s about to be launched – called 52 Deals.  More info on that will be released soon.

What’s your biggest success and biggest failure as a company so far?

Good question.  I wouldn’t say we’ve had any massive successes OR massive failures, really.  Certainly we have high hopes and expectations for each app we work on and launch, and they rarely start out experiencing the kind of widespread adoption and profitability that we dreamed of.  But we’re still operating them all and working diligently to gradually build them.  And each one is steadily making progress.

A lot of our most impressive successes have to do with what we’ve been able to pull off for clients, which we can’t talk about as much.  But those things have shown us what we’re capable of, and given us the confidence to do that for our own apps.  We seem to be developing a pattern of being “turnaround specialists” – coming in at the 11th hour and turning what is about to become a colossal failure into a success.

We’ve certainly made our share of mistakes since we started as a company 3 years ago, including the original founding partnership splitting up.  But that helped make us stronger, and shaped the culture of relaxed professionalism we have now.  Our biggest success is probably the fact that we made it through all that and are still in business 🙂

What motivated you to take on TinyGrab, what was the clincher?

Excellent question!  The original motivation was this:  we’ve been using TinyGrab for over a year, and we had no idea how much easier it made our lives until it became unreliable in March.  We had originally just contacted the guys at TinyGrab to see if they wanted or needed help getting everything back stable, so we could continue using it.  But it became apparent immediately that they were getting burned out and overwhelmed.  At that point, we didn’t want it shutdown, so we started learning about what was going on and talking with them about acquiring it.  The clincher for us was when we realized that some issues TinyGrab was experiencing never would have existed with some of our basic operating practices.  What TinyGrab needed was just a little more experience, and we knew we had what it needed.  At that point it was a no-brainer for us.

At first it may seem odd for a *web* application development agency to buy an installed application.  But over half of what makes TinyGrab work *is* web-based, and our developers are experienced enough in the non-web-based part of TinyGrab’s code that we knew we could handle it.

Once we confirmed it was something we could handle from a technical standpoint, the only thing left was coming to terms on the business side with Chris & Nick.  Our discussions happened over a period of a couple months, and we actually thought we had lost out to someone else.  But apparently it became clear that the other party wasn’t as committed to keeping TinyGrab alive, so Chris & Nick came back to us and we resumed our negotiation.  The clincher was obviously that Chris & Nick agreed to our offer.

What do you see as the “end goal” for TinyGrab?

The ultimate goal of TinyGrab is to make sharing screenshots with others as fast and simple as possible.

It’s not much of a leap to get from what TinyGrab does currently to sharing all kinds of files, like CloudApp.  I won’t say we’ll never do that, but for now, CloudApp is serving that market just fine – at least for Mac users.  Our first priority is to make TinyGrab the best cross-platform screenshot sharing app + service in the world.

What are your plans for the service of the next year or so?

First of all, we’ll be completing all (or nearly all) the features that were started or planned, but not yet completed.  As part of that, we’ll be adding support for uploading images to more services than just grab.by – such as Rackspace Cloud Files, Amazon S3, Dropbox, and others.  We’ll also be adding more “social” to the “social screenshot sharing” aspect of TinyGrab, with better social network integration.  The iPhone app for tinygrab is ok, but there’s a lot more potential for that – we’ll be working on new mobile applications for iOS (iPad and iPhone) and Windows Phone.  We also want to add in some customization features that specifically serve the professional users (like Company 52).

A lot of people don’t know about the “image gallery” aspect of TinyGrab, in account control panel at tinygrab.com.  We’ll be enhancing that and making it a lot more useful.

What do you think seperates TinyGrab from it’s competitors?

When TinyGrab got started, it didn’t have many competitors if any.  Several new ones have sprouted up in the last couple of months primarily *because* TinyGrab was failing.  But now that it’s reliable again….

When TinyGrab stopped working reliably, we started looking for good alternatives that had its features and flexibility.  But there weren’t any that fit the bill, that’s when we realized how unique it was.

TinyGrab is one of the only cross-platform screenshot sharing apps.  Most others services are either for Windows OR Mac, not both.

Speed and ease-of-use.  TinyGrab is just simple and fast.  And it looks pretty.  You don’t have to have any other account to use TinyGrab; it can be completely self-contained.

Flexibility.  Even though you don’t have to have your own server to use TinyGrab, you can use your own if you want to.  We’ll be expanding that with native support for more services, as mentioned above.

Cost.  Some of the new apps and services sprouting up cost something, even if it’s just a little.  TinyGrab will have paid versions, but for the casual users there will always be a great free version as well.

Do you plan to make any changes to the current income structure? – More ads, less ads? Or subscriptions?

No, not really.  We’ll be keeping the ads basically as they are, but we will be re-introducing the subscriptions as soon as possible.  For that to work we have to finish some of the programming to get some of the subscription-worthy features ready.  We are also considering offering a non-subscription, one-time purchase edition at some point.

Any surprises? – Was it easier/harder than expected? – What challenges have you faced so far?

Yes, actually 🙂  But mostly good ones.  The first surprise was just how many fans TinyGrab has.  Sure there are a lot of ticked off users that gave up a while ago, but we were really excited to find some great allies on Twitter and via email.  We’ve been chewed out some by people frustrated about the last few months, but each person who raves about how much they love TinyGrab and are excited to have us take over and fix it makes up for all the angry ones.

One challenge we didn’t expect was the complexity of taking over and migrating servers from Keyone.  In the due-diligence, Keyone provided us with system resource usage.  But one thing they forgot to include was the cloud *storage* for all the grabs that have been taken over the last couple of years.  It was millions of files, and hundreds of gigabytes.  And due to the way Keyone’s server infrastructure was setup, we’re having to move all of those files off to a new server.

The transition certainly hasn’t been a walk in the part, but it’s about what we expected.  I wouldn’t call it “easy” in the objective sense, but I would say we were uniquely prepared to know how to deal with all the challenges and just take them in stride.  We are still in the middle of quietly transitioning everything over behind the scenes, a process which will end up taking several weeks.

Get a FREE 2-year Subscription for TinyGrab Pro!

GeekTechBlog.com are lucky enough to have three (3) 2-year TinyGrab Pro subscriptions to give away, with a service which is constantly improving and adding new features this really will be the gift that keeps on giving!

How to win:

To be entered in with a chance of winning all you have to do is Like GeekTechBlog on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter – @GeekTechBlogUK you can also get additional chances to win with every Comment, Like and Tweet on this post! (you should also do this for our other posts!)

Each comment, like, follow and tweet counts as additional chances to win, so tweet your hearts out! Don’t forget to mention @GeekTechBlogUK in your Tweets!

We will pick the winners on Friday 5th August and Announce on the blog by 7th August.

TinyGrab – Under new management

Us at GeekTechBlog are big fans of TinyGrab, and have been closely following the service for the past few months, particularly when they got taken over by a new owner – Now we can finally spill the beans!

TinyGrab has has a rough couple of months, including issues with their Grab.by domain which left many users pulling their hair out.

Company 52 quietly acquired TinyGrab on July 8th and since then have been busy stabilizing the service, including restoring the Grab.by domain and improving customer support.

Launched in 2009, TinyGrab has grown quickly over the last two years to over 300,000 registered users.  It grew faster than the original founding team’s capabilities, and when the service’s primary server was hacked in March, it set off a chain of events that resulted in unfinished TinyGrab 2.0 beta software being pushed out the door, the disabling of all new paid-plan signups, and a firestorm of user frustration.

After considering offers from multiple companies, TinyGrab’s founders selected Company 52 as the best equipped and committed to ensure TinyGrab’s long-term success.

Since July 8th, Company 52 has taken over all development, maintenance, and customer support responsibilities.  It will also complete development of the Mac and Windows versions of TinyGrab 2.0, reintroduce the paid service plans, and release new mobile app versions.

Company 52 is a primarily US-based web and mobile application development agency.  Its small team of full-time designers and developers is geographically distributed, and has been developing very secure high-availability applications for the last 5 years.

TinyGrab is a cross-platform application that allows users to take screenshots, upload them to a cloud-based service, and share them – within seconds.  It was founded in 2009 by Chris Leydon and Nick Cooper.

Check out our other post where we Interview the Company 52’s CEO Michael Poythress about the TinyGrab acquisition, and their plans for the future – We also have three (3) 2-year TinyGrab Pro subscriptions to give-away!

Intel Museum of Me

Intel’s Museum of Me is a cool app which I came across a little while ago, and is something which is definitely worth checking out.

Check it out at: MuseumOfMe.Intel.com

 

G.CO, the Official Short URL for Google

Google announced yesterday that it has now acquired g.co, which it will now be using as a new private short URL for Google products and services. This means what when you see short URLs which start g.co you can be safe in the knowledge that it leads to an official Google page – so no need to worry! Google has previously used its public URL shortener goo.gl, which the company launched in 2009 to help shrink long URLs and to get a foothold in the URL shortening market. Goo.gl has proved extremely popular URL shortener and is now widely considered a major competitor along with Bit.ly and others. Google did stress that the g.co shortener has no effect on their goo.gl shortener and it appears they are going to keep the g.co shortener private for their own use to provide a guaranteed trust factor to the shorturls. Read the initial announcement from Google on the Google Blog

Updated: LulzSec hacked News International’s sites – TheSun.co.uk

It seems LulzSec are having their hacking fun this evening, this time with News International and boy are they having fun.

At around 11:50pm[1] LulzSec hacked into New-times.co.uk, and added their own touch:

And also published a story on the media moguls death:

Update: View an image of the full fake article posted on TheSun.co.uk here

And had TheSun.co.uk’s homepage redirecting to the story.

However the new-times.co.uk website couldn’t handle the traffic from TheSun.co.uk and went down, so currently TheSun.co.uk is redirecting to the @LulzSec Twitter feed.

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/LulzSec/status/93072777959051264″]

After this it seems as well as compromising not only New-Times.co.uk AND TheSun.co.uk they also managed to get access to NewsInt.co.uk and updated their statement regarding The Sun to again redirect to their Twitter feed!

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/LulzSec/status/93086985979297792″]

We will keep you updated as we learn more and events unfold…

Update 1: We also forgot to mention, LulzSec claim to have access to News International and The Sun’s emails and is planning to release them shortly.

Update 2 – 00:14: It seems the News International server admins are fighting for control, TheSun.co.uk no longer redirects to the LulzSec Twitter feed and instead returns an error processing the request – others News International sites are also returning similar errors.

Update 3 – 00:22: The News International website – NewsInt.co.uk is now down also, not confirmed if from DDoS, LulzSec or because Admins have taken it down.

Update 4 – 00:24: TheTimes.co.uk is now down due to Namesever failures! – Tipped by our own @ajlanghorn

Update 5 – 00:28: The NewsInt nameservers have been killed completely now. All News Int sites using ns0/ns1.newsint.co.uk are down.

Update 6 – 00:42: @LulzSec has called it a night…

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/LulzSec/status/93103067662258176″]

Update 7 – 00:47: Woah! Blindsided apparently Rupert Murdoch is considering stepping down as CEO of NewsCorp (Yet to be confirmed) As reported by Bloomberg

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/emilychangtv/status/93102150149881856″]

Update 7 – 05:34: View an image of the full fake article posted on TheSun.co.uk here

Tom’s Weekly Rant: Why the internet needs to be governed.

 

Society relies upon a system of governing in order to maintain control and peace. Notably, this is something the internet lacks and instead relies upon physical governing. Needless to say, this creates problems where physical legislation simply doesn’t apply to virtual issues. (Superinjunctions anyone?)

So it’s all good and well saying that users of the internet need to be held to account regardless of anonymity, but who actually wants to be regulated on a network that is designed to promote freedom of speech? The foundations of the internet were of course based upon ‘net neutrality’ and the theory that everything online is equal and cannot be owned (YEAH RIGHT MURDOCH!), and is hypothetically collectively owned. Clearly, this no longer applies thanks to the like of News Corp whom formally own MySpace, Times Online, the Sun, and the Washington Post, not to mention Fox; all with their own independent websites. Now, that’s fine that they own these various groups, just as long as they’re controlled effectively. Last week for instance Fox’s Twitter was hacked resulting in the ‘R.I.P Barack Obama’ tweet, with no one being held to blame. If someone had hijacked CBS’s studios and said the same thing, you can bet the CIA would be round in 10 (Kettle on in 15). Just yesterday, Skype and Facebook announced a joint video chat venture which saw instantaneous sharing of information between the two companies at YOUR expense. In reality, this is totally illegal, under no circumstance could the likes of Microsoft sell your data to Intel if the two started manufacturing Windows PC’s together, without your consent.

But, who would implement internet law, when the internet is controlled by said groups? Government. Well, at least partially the government. Now I say partially, as the government has close ties to the likes of media moguls like Murdoch. In fact, the first person British PM Cameron met with upon becoming Prime Minister was Murdoch. Suspicious? Not really, it’s always going to be an elitist system. Importantly, when I say government; I mean the likes of world governing bodies such as the UN or EU (UN is more favourable). It would be relatively easy to enter it into the Declaration of Human Rights, considering that May saw the introduction of internet access as a Human right.

Okay, so we’ve established why and who, but how? How’s the most tricky based purely upon the anonymous nature of the internet, which in turn means that the likes of average Joe can pretend to be Paris Hilton on Twitter, claiming that they’ve been killed in a car crash with 50 Cent. There effectively needs to be 1 main category to protect users online,  importantly the removal of identity protection. As the internet continues to become an everyday part of society, surely the veil should be removed? Yes. Usage of actual names, in a similar fashion to Facebook; not for instance Drop Dead Darcy on Xbox LIVE (Yes, that is my tag). Now, the reason I put the anonymity issue as number 1 is purely because it’s the foundation of everything. For instance, anonymity results in the protection of individual users from online persecution. Because people can hide their identities, they have an ability to free roam, which results in piracy, paedophilia and other illegal actions.

Now, you might be wondering why I’ve only included this almighty one pillar of law, when the likes of say the US Constitution has 27 separate pillars, so to speak. The internet was never meant to be governed; Bill Gates once said had they known about the security threat the internet poses, they would never have promoted it in the way they did. As such, I don’t think it’s moral to place limitations on the internet based upon this. It’s a infinite index of everything, and to an extent should not be aggressively policed, unless you’re China. That being said, there of course is a huge concern in terms of online grooming, and general illegal activities, which can easily be thwarted if the removal of avatars was introduced.

After all, you don’t visit Whetherspoons, booking a table under the name OrkRaid99; do you?

Twitter Ads Set To Become Unmissable

This coming summer, it’s going to become a lot harder for you to ignore adverts on the social blogging site, twitter.

CEO Dick Costolo has been presented with a problem following the inception of ‘Promoted Tweets’ as they only appear when the user searches for a particular term on the site. For example, typing in Romance at the moment brings forward the promoted ‘My Chemical Romance Live Stream’.

The proposed plans is to incorporate these ‘Promoted Tweets’ directly into your twitter feed so that when you’re filtering through, you’ll see them.

I can absolutely see why they are doing this, considering the profit Twitter makes, despite it’s size. But at the same time, I simply can’t justify it. It’s the equivalent of having a link to McDonalds situated right above this line. It’s out of context and frustrating.

Let your Minecraft Creations come alive

I am pretty sure you all know about Minecraft. For those who do not, it is sandbox building game that has proven to be quite popular among the online community and creators alike. People spend days building different models out of textured cubes, which depending on the game mode, have to mined for, thus the name Minecraft.

With Minecraft.Print you can now make your Minecraft creations online. Minecraft.Print is a project by two students, Cody Sumter and Jason Boggess from the MIT Media Lab where they attempt to create a bridge between Minecraft and the real world, via 3D Printers. Here is a video of how they do it.

For those who can not view the video, here is a screen shot of, yes you guessed it, the companion cube.

 

So how does it work?

It is basically a tool that turns Minecraft 3D date into standard printable data. It uses in-game tools (blocks) to mark off the territory to be printed. For more details, check out their works here. You will find a gallery of all the different things that they have printed.

If it available soon cheap enough, I might actually be up for buying such a printer. Doubt it will happen though. Till then one can just wait for some one to start an online business where you send them your Minecraft 3D data and then post you your model for an affordable price.

Via [Hack-a-Day]

Links

Minecraft
Minecraft.Print

Skype automatically adds contacts from Facebook after activating video chat without permission.

facebook-skype-merge-img1So today’s big announcement was the relaunch of Facebook chat and its video call integration provided by Skype however there seems to be a catch to the service which hasn’t been announced and quite frankly has annoyed me greatly.

It turns out that if your Facebook friends have their Skype details on their profile, and they have linked Skype with Facebook at some point (say for Skype’s Facebook feed integration) and have activated video chat that Skype will search all of your friends and automatically add them to your friends list. Without asking for your permission, or at least not expressly.

It gets worse too, if your friends have also done this then there is no accepting the requests it just automatically adds them to your list allowing them to see when you are online with you being none the wiser. I only found out as a friend pointed out that I had been automatically added to his Skype and I had automatically accepted the request. Personally I use Skype and Facebook for very different things.

Facebook is used for social networking and lets be honest anyone who you meet and get on with will probably add you and you will probably accept, Skype on the other hand is much more personal and is more for people who you intend to keep in contact with on a regular basis or for meetings etc. not for every Tom, Dick and Harry.This needs to be resolved and dealt with appropriately and quickly by both parties

PayPal’s Twitter is hacked, accounts suspected of being comprised.

paypalhacked

PayPal UK’s twitter has been hacked which can clearly been seen from this tweet (https://twitter.com/#!/PayPalUK/status/88326927563243520) and as a result has caused suspicions that PayPal accounts may also have been compromised.

While this is all suspicion in the latest tweet from PayPalUK in which they say “All your paypal accounts are now frozen while we clean up this mess..” This leads to questions being raised as to why they would freeze accounts from just a Twitter feed being hacked and what exactly the mess is, and while this could just be a precaution we recommend keeping an eye on any accounts which you given to PayPal until they respond fully to the situation.

It would also appear that their account has been hacked again after gaining access back.
https://twitter.com/#!/PayPalUK/status/88337810704171008Paypalrehacked

PayPal have now said that the tweet claiming the accounts were frozen was also a fake and no details have been compromised as their twitter and paypal services are in no way linked.