Friday, January 26, 2007


One Laptop Per Child

So while at Mashup Camp, we attended a presentation at the MIT Museum on the One Laptop Per Child program. We showed up a little late, but it was quite interesting. Here's the website for the program The idea is to provide affordable ($100) laptops for children in developing nations and the idea was born at MIT.

The presentation was given by Walter Bender. He had a few demo machines. The device was much smaller then i expected. The design seems to be very, very sturdy and weather-proof. It's based on some form of linux with XWindows. It has wireless capabilities and no standard hard drive that can crash (this thing is designed not to fail and the hard drive is one of the computer most common point of failure). Walter talked about using wireless in places where wireless is not common. It's done by creating a mesh of wireless hubs, each laptop connecting every other laptop create a wireless network where one doesn't exist.

There was question and answer session where alot of thoughts and concerns where brought up:
1) Will a black market for the devices be created and how to prevent
2) What kind of training will there be
3) Does this kind of project hurt US workers
4) Can we create a similar project for students here in our country
5) What pressure have we seen from parties such as laptop builders to stop this

The program has created a limited number of laptops at this point. The last batch was 2500 so they have not scaled the operation yet.

It sounds like a solid program that could bring the world that much closer.


Thursday, January 18, 2007


Mashup Camp - Day 2

Today was the last day of Mashup Camp and it was the shortest day. I started with the presentation on Amazon web services. Very interesting, Amazon has so much beyond selling books going on now ;)

They discussed the S3 service which is basically virtual hard disk space. It's very cost-effective apparently, so I'm going to give it a try and upload all my digital photos there as a backup. I spent the last few hours trying out the S3 services and mapping a drive to S3 and creating a URL link to a file on S3. I'll post on that tomorrow perhaps. The company Mashery ( announced in the meeting they use S3 to store all their backups. The presenter continued talking about their other services such as EC2 which is virtual servers. They have Linux and MySQL available as virtual servers and he mentioned it cost 10 cents per hours which came out to roughly $72 per month.

I went next to a discussion on Mashup security which was quite interesting for me because of my security background. I am an officer in the Web Application Security Consortium ( The discussion focused on a few topics. First the need for a framework for session management. A mashup today requires you to enter the credentials of any other web services with accounts you want to access. Is there a way to change how this trust works? A ticket-granting service like Kerberos? Everyone seemed to be looking to OpenID as a start to a solution. Another issue was the security of the browser. There was talk about whether the browser can and should be trusted but no real conclusions there. The session leader was an ex-security researcher from nCircle, one of the leading security assessment companies out there.

Overall Mashup Camp was a great experience and I meet a ton of people. Hopefully Techrigy will be showcasing our stuff at the next Mashup Camp!



Mashup Camp Day 1

(Pictured here - David, the brains behind Mashup Camp)

My day started with a session on the Semantic web. There was much discussion on how this needed to be done in small chunks and that there wasn't much incentive for people to implement the semantic web, so it needs to be incidental to some other value derived from implementing the semantic web. There were discussions on the upper versus lower case semantic web and how we need to get there in small steps. One woman as well discussed concerns over privacy associated with the semantic web cataloging information about people such as skype numbers, cell phone numbers, etc... Her comment was that woman have to worry about being Skype Stalked if their information is too open.

My own comment was that Sematic Web needs to be dumbed down. Its way to complicated for the masses when it uses terms like ontology, semantic, etc... I struggle with the concepts and terms, until it is simpler it wont be universal, and until its universal, it wont hit critical value.

At the end of the talk, there was a side demo done of a new Semantic Web product called BigSwerve (seemed to be a MyBlogLog competitor).

My next session was on Commercialization and Licensing of Mashups. There were alot of concerns about exploding mashups that get shutdown by webservices they rely on. There was alot of concerns and questions on Terms of Services and the ambiguity built into them, for instance what is a commercial site? Google's definition is if you take money to log into a system. However, it is not defined and most people agreed that was likely on purpose. Someone there built the Amazon Light based on the Amazon API but linked to Netflix from the videos and got a cease and desist letter from Amazon. Cease and desist letters seemed more common then I expected. There was talk about using the Mashup Wiki to start a project to define terms of service that developers hope the big API providers adopt. There was some disension that this would be a waste of time.

At lunch my discussions continued with a company that build websites for government and public sector orgs. The attititude was they we know we are violating terms of service, but we really dont have an option. One lady said see wanted to pay a quarter per web service call for her 100 calls a day. She called the end vendor but they didn't offer anything less than $5000 to get anything, so instead she just continued to use the service violating the terms of service. It seems the web services business models don't care about the micropayments. They might learn a lesson from Google that makes a fortune 1 nickel at a time.

Following lunch was Speed Geeking with about 20 mashups. I got a chance to see the following Mashups:
1) GoogleBase(semistructured data) + GoogleGadgets = BaseGadgets from a Google employee.
3) RoboCal - Google Calendar + a text-to-speech webservice. Can call you when things on your calendar are due. Also there was a which calls you and reads whats in your bloglines account.
4) iGem - genetic engineering competition wiki looking for ways to break down the silo between teams.
5) StrikeIron - reseller of API data for Mashups making it more affordable. They showed an Excel widget they have to pull lots of data.
6) Proto - development environment for writing mashups are other programs.
7) Yahoo did MyBlogLog mashups combined with delicious bookmarks
8) IbisEye did a mashup for a historical data hurricance tracking system in which you could see the path of a hurricane from 70 years ago.
9) Hype machine - music tracking mashup
10) AOL demo of Boxely and WIM mashed up.
11) BookSearchTimesThree - searching the text inside any book. Takes the 3 sources, Amazon, Google, and someone else(?) and combines the results.

Next I saw a presention from Dapper which was much like Kapow. This seems like a very exciting area - creating an API from HTML where an API does not exist. Their technology seems pretty powerful and everyone in the audience was very excited about it.

The conversation also sequed into a discussion on terms of service, ownership of content, etc... For instance, Facebook data ownership. Facebook has a license to the data. The owner actually owns the data. So if you write a Dap to it, who's permission do you need? An article from AP on the New York Times - how do you get rights to Mash that up?


Tuesday, January 16, 2007


FeedBlitz added

I've added a FeedBlitz subscriber option to the left column of our blog so if you would like to get Email rather than use a feed reader to get the latest entries you have that option. It's a nice option and it's free, so offering it was a no-brainer.

Warning: we are not affliate with FeedBlitz so we don't control your email address when you register with FeedBlitz.


SaaS Disruptions

I came across an interesting post on Moon Watcher/Globelogger on SaaS disruptions. Read it at It talks about a number of service disruptions with, and typepad. This is interesting because it's making it more obvious that SaaS is a great idea but does not eliminate service outages and other IT issue. Solutions like SpanningSalesForce as well as backing up SaaS content will continue to be very necessary.
The author of Moon Watch, Charlie Woods, runs the company They provide feeds for so when you are on the road and you can't access the website, you still have feeds of your important sales content (thats one view - I'm sure there's other takes on the features). Great idea. They look like they are very close to putting out SpanningSync. It's great to see success with SaaS and Web 2.0 in the Enterprise. Let's hope this is just the start!

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Mashup University, Day 2

(picture to the left - Jay Mari, Director of Software Development for Techrigy and super-nerd)

Presentation from Kapow Technologies right after lunch. They have a service that creates APIs for web sites that dont give you an APIs. So much information available out there can not be accessed programmatically. They have created a kapow robot called RoboMaker that allows you to build on a Web page to create a "virtual" API out of any HTML source. It allows you to find a specific tag in the page and create fields out of that, perform conversions on fields, etc... Then you can right a Mashup using the "virtual" API. They called it "Mashups for the Long Tail of the Web". From, "a free open service platform that makes it possible to use data, functionality or GUI from the web as part of your mashup." Andreas Krohn's, the presenter, final words "HTML is the worlds most common API - start using it today!"

Also saw a presentation from Chris Radcliff, "That API Guy at Eventful". Eventful has an API you can use to incorporate events into your Mashups. Something interesting he talked about was actually people requesting events. If enough people ask for a performer in a specific area, they can possible cause a grass roots efoort to not just schedule but even create an event. Event can be GEO coded in the HTML and in the API, so that you can locate the event based on GEO location.

A presentation from Autodesk on MapGuide Open Source and MapGuide Enterprise. Autodesk is actually a large $2 billion company - this is not their core business. It seems they decided to open source this product and offer it out to the community. It has some very complex options to create maps and run operations around GIS and mapping. They have the ability to create multiple parcel layers and run complex queries on those layers. Its integrated with Google Earth.

Next presentation was from Infusion Development on mashups in the enterprise. Infusion is a 120 person tech consultancy working with some large financial institutions. There demo was based on a Virtual Earth mashups. I found it interesting and helpful when they started addressing what is needed for an enterprise mashup - Reliability, scalability, security, Interoperability and integration, documentation, and maintenance. These are the really issues Mashups and Web 2.0 have to address before it is going to become mainstream. All the cool technology in Mashups and Web 2.0 are going to remain on the fringe until they can address those concerns by Enterprise Admins. There demo was of federal emergency mashup - basically was done in 150 lines of code.

Final presentation of the day was done by Jeremy Lueck. He was part of Truveo which was bought by AOL for $40 million. He is an AOL Video Search Evangalist. The most interesting part of his presentation was that he forgot his keyboard for his MacMini so he used the overhead projector :)

Tomorrow starts Mashup Camp, although I've heard several reports of weather ruining travel plans. I look forward to report how it goes tomorrow.


Monday, January 15, 2007


Mashup University Day 1

Here's a quick overview of Day 1 of Mashup University:

It seems many people didn;t show up after signing up. Please be careful if you sign up for a free unconference that you don't inadvertantly fall into this practice of skipping it. It's a shame since it's free, so many people put so much effort into the event, alot of food goes to waste, and it prevents someone else from attending because all the slots were filled. Thankfully the extra food ended up donated to a local shelter. Nice job David!

My day started with "Speed Geeking" where we saw small presentations on the following Mashups:
- mashup helping flood victims return to New Orleans called "After Katrina"
- AOL's Microformats
- IBM's "Enterprise Mashup tool" call QED (Quick and Easy Design)
- Amazon's Mechanical Turk (
- LignUp - "a comprehensive IP communications system as well as a development platform that allows for quick and easy integration of voice and rich media into web applications and portals"

Following lunch was a presentation from AOL on "Microformats + DOM/AJAX to create mashups" by Kevin Lawver. This was interesting as I like the idea of setting more web hypertext into microformats that can make the web more structured and usable. A great example that was used was if you enter your events in microformats it becomes so much easier to cross refernce who else is going to the same event. Even the idea of microformats leading to imroved SEO made alot of sense. Kevin touched on how search engines are starting to understand these microformat. Hopeful this will truely lead to a more semantic web!

This was followed by a presentation on OpenAIM API and another presentation on Boxely. Both technologies worth looking into.


Sunday, January 14, 2007


Mashup University tomorrow

We are exciting to leave for Mashup Camp/Mashup University( tomorrow. It's running from Monday thru Thursday at MIT in Boston. This is our first Mashup Camp and we truely appreciate David Berlind and Doug Gold for the hard work they put into it, as well as having it on the East Coast so we can attend! It's going to be 4 days of absorbing a huge amount of technical content and mixing with some fellow techies. If you are going to be in Boston for the week, drop up a line and we will buy you a beer/wine/coffee/etc... We just enjoy meeting other people excited about technology. Even if you can't go, check out the website - I believe they are haved podcasts and feeds of some of the content.

On another note, I was at the Coop in Harvard Square last week and came across a book that piqued my attention - Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything ( I'm about a quarter of the way through it and its very exciting. If you're interested in the collaboration revolution going on, I recommend picking it up. I won't spoil it and tell you how it ends.

There was also an interesting post ( a few days ago from the American Bar Association discussing free services (such as Gmail), remote data storage, privacy concerns, and scrutinizing of online backup services. These are becoming pressing issues particularly in the legal field with the sensitivity of data. It's refreshing to see these topics being discussed more commonly. Expect to see Techrigy on the cutting edge of data protection and privacy.

Last note is on a neat blog I came across, or rather that came across us - The blog seems to have the inside track on startup news, so if your interested in that area, add the feed to your reader. Following the feed for the past week, I've been impressed.

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