serious business

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Chirp Update -- Morning 1

The first morning of Chirp has been very interesting. After a nice mimosa to open up the morning, moderator John Betalle ( @johnbetalle ) got us off to a nice start and the very distinguished speakers started taking the stage.

The opening remarks by Biz Stone ( @biz ) teased us with promises of talk about upcoming changes to Twitter’s API and Twitter’s revenue model. We haven’t heard a lot about the revenue model yet — I expect that will come as we discuss the ad platform later today with Ev Williams and Dick Costello at 3:30 and 3:45 — but Ryan Sarver delivered with some huge announcements about the Twitter API. But Biz is a Twitter cofounder, so he’s been there since the beginning, and my favorite parts of his talk were about Twitter’s history. For example, it turns out that the first big “Twitter is actually important” experience the founders had came at SXSW in 2007 when a whole meet-and-greet spontaneously changed venues when someone tweeted they were going from one bar to another. And, as he said, he knew Twitter had made it big when they had to postpone some planned maintenance because Iranian protesters said their lives would be in danger if their communication channel of choice went down during some upcoming protests. (He also just slipped in that the original Twitter prototype was written in two weeks. Damn.)

I'll Be At Chirp (the Official Twitter Conference) April 14-15!

I’ll be at Chirp, the official Twitter conference, on April 14-15. Anyone going and want to meet up for a frosty beverage? Or anyone not going who has questions they’d like me to ask the Twitter team? Leave a comment here, or drop me a line at @sigpwned! And I’ll be tweeting the whole time, so for live updates during the conference, follow me at @sigpwned, too.

Regardless, though, be sure to follow @twitter and @chirp at least for the week. There are sure to be some interesting announcements coming down the pipe.

Expect to see new stories here during the conference, and I’ll be sure to post a recap as soon as I get back, so subscribe to my RSS feed or check back for a wrap-up and postmortem.

Using Twitter Effectively: 6 Rules for an Effective Follow Friday

One fateful friday in January 2009, @micah sent out a tweet that still echoes weekly in the twittersphere:

I am starting Follow Fridays. Every Friday, suggest a person to follow, and everyone follow him/her. Today is @fancyjeffrey & @w1redone.

What began as a simple idea is now a full-blown weekly phenomenon on Twitter. #FF may have started small, but nowadays there are so many #FF updates rolling through your followers’ streams that it’s easy to get lost in the mix. If you stick to these six rules, though, your #FF updates will start to get the attention they deserve.

The Origin of Perfect Software

In another post, I claimed that software can’t be written with no bugs at all. Well, it turns out that’s not quite true. What I should have said is that writing bug-free software is not possible within the constraints of most software businesses or open-source projects.

But that just doesn’t have the same pizazz, does it?

The trouble is that software businesses exist to make money, and open source projects exist to give developers interesting things to do and exposure. (Naturally, there are some exceptions in both camps, but if you imagine that’s always true, you won’t be too far off.) And if these are the goals you’re chasing — customers and money, or interesting problems and exposure — you don’t end up with perfect software. You go broke or get bored before you get there.

I've Been Selected as a Writer for!

After an application and review process, I’ve been selected as a new writer for I should be posting my first official post in the next couple of weeks. I’ll be sure to post a link to the story here, or even resyndicate it if I can.

And I guess I’m now officially a professional blogger. Fancy.

Of course, now that I’ve made it big, I have to start thinking about my image. Beginning next week, I’m doubling the subscription fees for from Free to Free. So enjoy this last week of Free posts, because starting April 12 you’ll have to start paying nothing to get your SIGPWNED fix.

Sorry. That’s just the way us professionals roll. You understand.

Layoffs Considered... Beneficial?

The United States is in the midst of its worst recession since the Savings and Loan crisis of the 1980s, and arguably before that. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down almost 25% from its all-time high in October 2007 to $10,850. The NASDAQ is down about 15% from its all-time high from November 2007. But while seeing layoffs in this economic climate hasn’t been a surprise, the sheer number of them has. The unemployment rate has more than doubled since April 2008 to 9.7% as of the time of this writing (March 2010), and Forbes estimates the number of layoffs since November 2008 at the Fortune 500 alone to be 697,448. And the problem is likely worse than that due to “shadow layoffs” that aren’t reported.

But you know layoffs are a big deal when they spawn an Oscar nominated film starring George Clooney.

Flash Isn't Dead. It's Not Even Resting.

There’s been a lot of hubbub claiming “Flash is dead!” in various conjugations because (1) Steve Jobs says so (and he’s never wrong), and (2) HTML5 is going to replace it. (Overnight, ostensibly.)

Now, we all know how much fun it is to declare things dead before they’re dead, but surely they’re not talking about Adobe Flash, right? Not the Flash that has been the go-to technology for complex animation, video, and games on the web since it was introduced in 1996. Not the Flash with gigs of impossible-to-replace user-generated content scattered across the Internet. Not the Flash that powers your favorite games, and your favorite animations, and your favorite webapps. Not the Flash used to build all that neat, goofy stuff we all love so much. Not the Flash that runs 30%-40% of the websites on the Net, including the websites of some of the world’s most influential organizations. Not the Flash being used to make some of the most important animation on TV right now. Not that Flash. They must be talking about some other Flash. Right? I mean, come on, let’s not be ridiculous.

Neil deGrasse Tyson on UFOs and Argument from Ignorance

Again, I don’t like to put a bunch of videos on my blog, but my last Neil deGrasse Tyson ( @neiltyson ) video got a lot of interest, so I thought I’d go ahead and post another. Besides, it’s Saturday. What else have you got to do?

On a panel back in September 2009, Neil deGrasse Tyson got the inevitable question: “Do you believe in UFOs and extraterrestrial visitors?” His response is, as you’d expect, awesome. The video’s about 10 minutes long, but stay with it. He gets on a roll talking about some really important issues like the argument from ignorance, the (poor) reliability of eyewitness testimony, and stealing ashtrays off spaceships:

The Economics of Perfect Software

Ask 100 CEOs of software companies if they want to ship software with bugs. What will they say? 50 won’t answer at all, saying something about how bugs are a huge problem in the industry that needs to be addressed; 40 will say “Of course not!” and promptly call their shark tank in preparation for a lawsuit; 9 will hang their heads and say “we can’t help it”; and that last 1 will look you straight in the eye and say “Absolutely.”

I have no idea what that last guy’s doing heading up a software company, because he studied economics.

Neil deGrasse Tyson: Children are Not the Problem with Science Adoption

I try not to post too many videos on my blog, but this one really caught my attention, and I want to share it. It’s Neil deGrasse Tyson spending 5 minutes of his February 2009 talk at Google answering a question about science and science adoption in the US. It’s incredibly insightful: