My coding habits and a look at when I code

I love data, especially when it comes to data that can tell a story.  I was looking at my github account and wondering whether I could see a pattern in the times that I make my commits.  Naturally, I was curious and pulled up my punchcard.

By looking at my punchcard, what type of job do you think I have?  Can you guess?

Github punchcard
Github punchcard

I noticed a few trends:

  1. The most obvious one is that I am not a morning coder and my commits generally don’t start appearing until around 10AM.
  2. I clearly work seven days a week.
  3. My work day does not end at 5PM.
  4. I generally try to wrap up whatever I am working on by 5PM.  This is especially true from Wednesday – Friday.
  5. I work the least on a Saturday.
  6. On Thursday and Friday I tend to work even later than earlier in the week.  My guess is that I’m trying my best to finish what I am working on before the weekend comes.  Generally on the weekend I tend to add some polish on whatever I released during the week.  So that tends to be more fun coding with less heavy lifting.
  7. Monday and Tuesday I tend to work way past 5PM.  My guess is that I’m eager to get going at what I’m coding and after the weekend I’m a bit more refreshed.
  8. When it comes to a Saturday night I tend to code the latest.  So much for partying.  Boy, I’m such a geek.

Some things you may not know.  I work for myself and run my own company called FantasySP.  Hopefully by my commits, you’ll notice that I am dedicated to the project.  As the sole employee, I feel the pinch to get things done.

Is my commit pattern different than yours?  Does your day job force you to have a much different schedule?  Do salary developers work seven days a week as well?

I encourage everyone to write about their own punchcards.


Windows 8 is better than you think

People tend to form an opinion on an operating system immediately and way before any of them had a chance to use it.  For example, it is widely unknown that Windows Vista is crap.  Yet, if you used a computer with Windows Vista, you would likely just assume it’s running Windows 7.  Perception is everything.  Sometimes it’s wrong.

Windows 8 has a vastly different tiled screen in-place of the start menu.  We all know this.  At first glance your immediate reaction to drastic change is negative.  Completely normal.  Then I saw my dad use Windows 8.

Section of Windows 8 Start Screen
Section of Windows 8 Start Screen

For an older user, Windows 8 is a blessing.  From their point of view, you are presented with a very inviting and straight-forward screen with colorful tiles.  Hidden away is the complicated desktop with dozens of icons.  Gone is the start-menu with endless rows of applications. The new interface has all of the every day tasks right there in from of you: email, internet, weather, calendar, and more.

My dad never has to leave the easy-to-use start screen.  So how does this new interface simply things?

In terms of simplifying email, my dad has email accounts from AOL and MSN.  This caused a few problems:

  1. Previously he would sign in and out of those each day.
  2. He would not know if he had new mail or not until he signed in.
  3. He had to learn different interfaces to send and receive email.

I could have fixed this by creating a gmail account and have those emails funnel in to there. This would give him another email account and possibly confuse him even more.  Not to mention it might be too complicated with labels and priority inbox and such.  Perhaps that’s not the best email inbox for him.  I wasn’t about to use Outlook because that is even more complicated.

But with the new windows mail. It could not be easier.  I added each email account he had to the mail app and he could easily switch between them.  He would also know immediately when he got a new email.  The best part is that it all exists within the same easy to use interface.

What Microsoft did is actually VERY smart.  They made an extremely easy to use interface that the MAJORITY of their users would be able to master.  Both young and old can master this interface very quickly.  They released a windows phone and tablet with the same exact interface.  If I bought my dad a surface tablet or windows phone he would immediately know how to use it.

That’s rather brilliant, don’t you think?  All of those untapped users could buy a windows phone tomorrow and feel right at home.

At the same time, this new interface hurts the advanced user.  We don’t want it and have no use for it.  I have Windows 8 running and am extremely satisfied in every aspect except this new start menu.  For the advanced user, Windows 8 is an incremental update from Windows 7.  The new interface is not a deal breaker, but I’m not exactly thrilled with it either.  If i don’t want to use it, then I don’t have to.  Advanced users can get around the problem.

It’s also blatantly obvious that by creating this interface Microsoft is yet again putting their apps front and center and conditioning their users to stay with Microsoft products.

Except this time, they might actually want to.



The best start-ups are companies you’ve never heard of

I will keep this short and to the point.  A lot of news I see on tech blogs all revolve around the same type of start-up.  A start-up gets X amount of seed money, or X amount of additional round of funding, or takes on SUPER CEO Joey Wallnuts, or has some outrageous claim about growth, and how using Node.js makes their work desks levitate.

In many cases, these places are not profitable, and in some cases, never intended to be.  Their main goal is likely to flip the start-up and sell it off at the peak of it’s valuation before the shit hits the fan.  Before people realize that what they are building is a pile of shit.

So what do they do?  The CEO and investors pump up the start-up by feeding tech blogs heaps of bullshit that they can write about as if they are facts.   Before you know it, the bullshit keeps mounting and the start-up has a very high valuation in a year or two.  The pump and dump is complete and the investors make their money and move on to the next victim.

Another successful start-up saves the internets yet again!

The problem?  These are not real companies.  They should not be refereed to as real companies. The real start-ups out there are ones you’ve never heard of.  In fact, it’s an insult to call them start-ups.  They are internet companies, whose main goal is profitability and longevity.

The average bootstrapped company’s story is boring.   It often includes keeping costs down with slow but consistent growth over several years.  The stack the company is built on is nothing special, either Rails or PHP.  They failed to get funding or tech press.  The problems they solve are often terribly boring, possibly highly technical, employs a handful of people, and worse yet, no one gets rich overnight.  They tend to put their head down, plug away, and grow something out of nothing with hard-work instead of smoke and mirrors.

Talk about a snoozefest. These may not be interesting, but they are the companies you should root for and aspire to be a part of.

This post is for you.

rant SEO

SEO When Panda Met Pengiun

September and October have been eyebrow raising months for the SEO community and the blogs are going nuts.  As you know a bunch of algorithm updates have occurred that may affect many sites and search queries.  They make it seem like the SEO-Apocalypse is upon us. But should you be nervous when these updates come out? I think not.

…Panda update that impacts 2.4% of English search queries and is still rolling out

Holy shitballs that sounds scary.  Will my site be impacted negatively?  Should I hire an SEO consultant tomorrow to prevent the impending doom?  All signs point to no, (unless you want to hire me of course).

All websites are designed for the end user.  The end user should be able to find everything easily and access your content easily.  Google has made it abundantly clear that SEO is about merging the end user experience with a machine readable experience.  Google tries it’s best to mimic the end user experience in algorithms.  Chances are that if your end user is having a lovely time on your site then Google also agrees.

Of course we are talking general terms here.  It goes without saying that you should also make sure meta descriptions are present, you are using the proper HTML markup, etc etc.  Just about all SEO related changes you can make for a website is to help Google understand what the user experience is all about.  If you have lots of incoming links from quality sites, then guess what, the end user experience must be great at your site.  If you tend to write articles about hot topics and include keyword friendly titles then chances are you will get more traffic. (Hint: This article’s title is both amusing and SEO friendly)

So why all the doom and gloom from SEO blogs?  Fear of the SEO-Apocalypse brings pageviews, so blogs about SEO will write about them in nauseating detail.  Don’t get me wrong, I like to be in the know when an algorithm update hits and you should be aware as well.  But as it turns out, there are a lot of websites out there doing shady shit.  Those websites will lose their traffic and then complain on SEO blogs as if they are innocent victims.    If you are buying links (It’s not hard to understand that this is a paid article), exchanging links with crappy sites, light on content and heavy on ads, or trying to game Google then your site will be hit by these updates.  There are a lot of terrible sites out there and Google will (hopefully) eventually weed them all out.

That is why we should look forward to a major Google update because chances are that it will help you rank higher.  If you run a respectable site and follow the rules and concentrate on the end user experience then you have nothing to worry about.  Occasionally a respected site is hit negatively by an SEO update and those are usually rectified. Nobody’s perfect.

Now, are there gray areas in terms of an algorithm update?  Of course.  Does Google just so happen to release updates that seem to favor their own properties and lead to more revenue?  Probably.  Does Google violate it’s own best practices by cramming 5 ads above the fold for many searches?  You bet.

But the truth is that none of that should matter to you.  Stick to the user experience.  Stick to producing good content.  Stick to making sure Google is able to properly crawl and present content in search results and you will be fine.


Twitter Card Summaries Roll Out to New Publishers

It appears as though Twitter is in the midst of rolling out Twitter Card Summaries for more publishers.  I have been seeing an increase in summaries shown in my Twitter feed from new accounts.  However, the rollout seems to be ongoing. No tech blogs have covered this as far as I know.  This post is to provide an update on what I’ve been seeing since I could not find any information out there.

So here is what I’ve seen so far: does NOT seem to have Twitter Card support enabled for summaries (at one point they did), nor does TweetDeck. In fact, the only way to see Twitter Card Summaries right now appears to be on a mobile device and using the latest version of the Twitter app.  I have confirmed that they are working on the Android version, but I am not 100% sure if the iOS version shows them.

Summaries do not appear for every tweet posted, even though the meta tags are valid and the account is supported.  Some tweets end up with a summary, while others get ignored. I do not see any pattern to explain this.  My best guess is that they may be having trouble crawling the URLs and grabbing the meta data in a timely manner.

Here are tweets that show with summaries on the mobile app, though I’d be surprised if they show up inline below:


Creating Top IAmA

Over the past few weeks I worked on-and-off on a side project called Top IAmA.  It’s goal was to present popular Reddit IAmA’s in a more readable format.  There were a few criteria that the site had to meet in order for me to be happy with it:

  1. The site design had to be minimal and lightweight. I want the content to do the talking.
  2. It had to be fast loading.
  3. It had to be able to handle large amounts of traffic, in the event it became popular.
  4. It had to reliably and accurately collect questions and answers.
The design is something I quickly came up with in Photoshop.  Once I had the basic framework up I just went straight to CSS/HTML and added some polish along the way.  Check out early photoshop mockups of the homepage and article page:
Early homepage draft
Early article draft

As I mentioned, it needed some type of heavy caching in the unlikely event that the site became popular.  The content of the site would not change frequently and there is no login system, so I knew it would make things a lot easier.  I thought of creating a new cloud server to avoid any type of issues Top IAmA might cause to FantasySP, but utlimately I decided that it would be safe to host it on the same server.  The easiest thing to do would be to use Cloudflare and “cache everything“.  That means HTML, CSS, Images, etc.  Most HTTP requests will not even reach my server thanks to Cloudflare’s caching.  In fact, it should be able to handle being on the homepage of Reddit.

Once the project was complete, I submitted it to hackernews and much to my surprise the folks there really seemed to like it as it hit the front page.  I will continuly tweak Top IAmA’s ability to accurately collect questions and answers.  That is by far, the toughest hurdle to overcome.  The next phase is to collect comment links and indent questions when they are within the same thread.  No easy task, but then again, it wouldn’t be fun if it were easy.



Cloudflare response times are getting worse

I was just checking out Googlebot’s response times with Cloudflare enabled and disabled.  The chart below is straight from webmaster tools for FantasySP.

Googlebot Response Times in Crawl

Back in March – April I had Cloudflare enabled, and I noticed elevated response times.  I thought it might be due to Cloudflare, so I disabled it.  Back then, I thought 400+ ms was bad.

As you can see, May response times were much better with Cloudflare disabled.  The only problem with that is my site’s load also increased, so I decided to re-enable Cloudflare towards the end of May up until a few days ago.  Now response times are well above 1,000ms.  Why is their performance degrading so fast?  This seems to fall inline with their announcement of business and enterprise options.  Perhaps the free accounts are hurting because of this?

There have been other reports of this as well.

facebook rant

My Thoughts on Facebook as a Public Company

The past two weeks have been filled with opinions from experts on Facebook and its IPO.  I would say about 66% lean towards the negative side and say to avoid them at all costs.  Why?  Because GM pulled their ads.  Because a survey said 40% of their users will never click on an ad.  Because experts on TV, who don’t even understand the web, feel that they are overvalued.

I’m not an expert when it comes to stocks or IPOs.  I’m not going to write about P/E ratios, shares outstanding, or their market cap.  I am going to write about their product and its influence over the web.

Pages Per Visit & Reach

Facebook has roughly the same amount of pageviews as Google per day according to Alexa.  They are the 2nd most visited website on the web, just behind Google.

According to Alexa, Facebook is estimated to have 12.24 pages/visit .  For comparison, Reddit is listed as having 10.6 pages/visit.  So how accurate is this metric?  Reddit’s blog post from January shows 13.00 pages/visit.

This means that Alexa likely undervalues by almost 2.5 pages/visit and Facebook could be closer to 15 pages/visit.  As someone who runs a website and is a web developer, I assure you that 15 pages per visit is absolutely insanely good.  Their users are addicted and love Facebook. Few sites or companies can pull off these kind of metrics.

Social is a Fad

Many experts believe that social media is a fad and/or Facebook could easily be replaced.  I strongly disagree.  Remember when web portals were going to be a thing of the past?

Yes, its true that Facebook is not the first social website.  Friendster and MySpace came way before Facebook.  Unfortunately, their websites lacked innovation and sophistication that their user base was desperately craving.  Facebook forced the social platform to grow up and users graduated from MySpace/Friendster to Facebook.

Keep in mind that when you see commercials, Facebook and Twitter pages are often shown.  Facebook does not pay these companies for the advertising.  They are actually WILLING to showcase these two social networks because that is how important they are to advertising and reaching your customer base.

Today social websites are as important to the web as search engines.  Speaking of search engines…


If Google has taught us anything, it’s that being the first to the market means nothing.  It’s about who innovates and pushes the platform to the next level.  Facebook did that with social and Google did that with search.  Altavista = Friendster.  Excite = MySpace.

The experts did not believe in Google when it IPO’d either:

To see a market capitalization valuing Google as a mature company is assuming a best-case scenario which isn’t a for-sure outcome. It still has a long way to go to justify growing into that kind of market value,” said Michael Cohen, director of research with Pacific American Securities.

Cohen added that in addition to Yahoo!, Google will face increased pressure from Microsoft, which has been stepping up its research and development efforts in its MSN Internet business.

Potential Growth

Does anyone realize how Google makes money?  They make most of their revenue from advertisements.  Guess what other companies makes most of their revenue from advertisements?  Facebook.  Some of my points here piggyback Venture Beat’s awesome article.

Charts here show revenue growth compared to similar IPOs.  Their opinion is that Year over Year growth is going down, not up.  This is obviously a bad sign, however the graph also indicates that Zynga’s growth year over year is better than Facebook.  It’s amazing what you can make a graph do.  That tells me absolutely nothing because Zynga would not exist without Facebook.  Meanwhile LinkedIn has perhaps 1/10th the amount of pageviews of Facebook.  So how much weight should we really put behind something like this?

The truth is that Facebook’s growth potential is insanely high.  They haven’t entered China and their mobile platform is still in its infancy.  Facebook realizes this and already is taking courses of action to correct this, namely by buying Instagram.

Their current revenue numbers could change drastically once they figure out mobile and their platform continues to mature.


What I wrote about here are taken from a web developer perspective.  I honestly don’t care about an investor’s expert opinion when he may have a hard time understanding the product.  He is looking at the revenue numbers and makes a judgement compared to the industry giants.  What he sees on paper simply doesn’t add up to the hype or the valuation.  That is completely understandable.  Software and the scope of the web is not a tangible thing that people can easily wrap their head around.

As I said, I am not a stock expert. I don’t dwell on P/E ratios or shares outstanding.  I don’t know what their stock is going to be at in 6 or 12 months, but I do know that Facebook, as a product, will be as popular as ever.  And that, by itself, has to be worth something on the open market.




How Many Hours Should You Work at a Start-Up or Company?

Generally what I think about things is a different way than the majority. (Talk about a general statement, sheesh)  I haven’t decided if this is a good thing or a bad thing.  However, it’s nice to see that Valve agrees with my opinion that working overtime week after week is generally a bad thing.

Read this blurb from their employee handbook:

While people occasionally choose to push themselves to work some extra hours at times when something big is going out the door, for the most part working overtime for extended periods indicates a fundamental failure in planning or communication.If this happens at Valve, it’s a sign that something needs to be reevaluated and corrected. Ifyou’re looking around wondering why people aren’t in“crunch mode,” the answer’s pretty simple. The thing we work hardest at is hiring good people, so we want them to stick around and have a good balance between work and family and the rest of the important stuff in life.If you find yourself working long hours, or just generally feel like that balance is out of whack, be sure to raise the  issue with whomever you feel would help. Dina loves to force  people to take vacations, so you can make her your first stop

If you are staying at work until 6PM or later every day, then you are doing it wrong.  If your company culture is that working until 6PM or later is the accepted norm then you are doing it very wrong.  There is nothing wrong with having a life outside of work.  To those of you out there who enjoy working long hours every day, then more power to you.  However, I feel as though this far from the norm for the average person.

Go ahead and read Valve’s handbook. Assuming this link stays valid and they don’t track me down with their Spy class.


facebook rant

My Thoughts on Facebook Instagram Backlash

Before I get to my specific opinion, let me voice my opinion of the two companies as separate entities.  Facebook, by itself is a fine service for the average Joe.  I personally don’t use Facebook because I think it’s a waste of my time. Instagram is similar to Facebook, and it pretty much invented the sharing photos game in the mobile space.  They are also popular for their over-the-top styling of photos that makes anyone think they have talent.

So in summary, both services are fine but not for me.  Clearly Facebook is lacking in the mobile department and Instagram is meant for mobile with no desktop penetration.  Sounds like a good fit to me?  Facebook’s mobile app might turn into something pretty awesome after this.  Instagram are going to have a lot more users in their grasp and probably have a vision where they want to take the company.  Being acquired by Facebook was an offer they could not refuse and it’s shocking to see some of these comments:



And finally:

One of my personal favorites is a story entitled: “Apple should have acquired Instagram” saying:

I would more likely wanted Apple to acquire Instagram. Apple actually needed Instagram much more than Facebook and Google. With a few Apple’s failed attempts to go social(remember Ping), that could actually worked. Instagram has 29M iPhone users. Most of them are very engaged with the application. The combination of Photo Stream + Instagram could be super powerful. I can see myself using it(a lot). Also, by purchasing Instagram Apple could have keept it iOS-only. That would be much appreciated by current iPhone users and for some people might be a reason to switch to iPhone.

Yes, that’s just what we need.  Apple to acquire Instagram, convert it to a pay only app. Charge $2.99 for the iPhone version and $9.99 for the iPad enhanced version. Perhaps throw in a subscription in there someplace for cloud syncing.  Not to mention keep it iOS only because that sounds pretty exclusive and cool.

My brain might explode. . .