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Discontinuing TripTao April 4, 2014

Posted by CK in Internet, Personal.
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It’s almost funny that in between the post where I announced the availability of triptao, and this one where I announce shutting it down 11 months later, there have been only two more posts. I guess this reflects, with fair accuracy, the crazy ride of these 11 months.

So I “dreamt laughably big and took an absurdly huge risk or two” as the advice went — and it didn’t pay off as I expected. It wasn’t bad, but I didn’t have enough excuse to keep pushing it.

To be exact: it didn’t pay off as I expected materially; I feel I’m coming out of this being a much better person, in many respects.

  • I now have a better grasp of my limits — and it appears I can do much more than I thought myself capable of doing. The same, I’m perfectly certain, applies to everyone else. We should be less scared and more receptive to the possibility that we can do anything we think of.
  • I got back in touch with the technical side of things and remembered how much I enjoyed it. These have been very creative days.
  • I’ve learned a great deal of things on multiple levels. Somehow I feel I’m much better equipped for the next tasks, both technical and managerial/business.

I also got some lessons that concern specifically the area of online startups.

  • Unless you are Superman, you can’t do something like this alone. Make sure you have a co-founder.
  • Whatever you do, don’t rely on others for your data. Make sure you have full control on it (even if you don’t explicitly own it).
  • If you’re doing B2C, the added value should be instantly and fully evident to anyone who visits your site. With TripTao, I had to explain. You should not have to explain.
  • Marketing is king. You can’t underestimate its importance, no matter how great a product you have.

Now, coming back to that advice mentioned earlier, it says “take an absurdly huge risk or two“. Who am I to discard such interesting advice?

The journey continues with a new trip. More to follow in the next months.

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My personal little “cloud” May 24, 2011

Posted by CK in Internet, Productivity, Software.
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Here it is, and it works perfect:

  • You will need a VPS or a home server. I’m using the wonderful, fan-less Shuttle XS35GT with a small SSD, as it is also my HTPC
  • A Linux distribution. I very highly recommend Mint 10 if you’re using the XS35GT so that you get a working audio + wireless and a stable XBMC, otherwise you may wish to use an LTS release like Ubuntu 10.04 or Mint 9.
  • An installation of eGroupware, to use its addressbook and calendar modules with its GroupDAV and SyncML synchronization facilities. You can easily install eGroupware using the deb repository provided on the project’s site.
  • Thunderbird, Lightning and the SOGo connector to support GroupDAV. Make sure you don’t use the “SOGo Lightning” extension; at least for me it didn’t work. Then subscribe Lightning to the eGroupware calendar and addressbook. Don’t bother with TODO items, unless a flat list is your thing.
  • A SyncML application to synchronize your phones. My Nokia E71 comes installed with one, while on an Android you can use the wonderful Synthesis client. Synthesis offers clients for additional platforms, but I only tried the one for Android.
  • The amazing Tracks application for GTD. It takes some effort to install, but it is totally worth it. You can also subscribe Lightning to various views of Tracks exported calendars. I’ve subscribed only to the one for due items, so that they appear with deadlines in my calendar. There are also two mobile applications to sync with Tracks, one for the iOS and one for the Android. Unfortunately the latter doesn’t work yet with Tracks 2.0, but it looks like it’s only a matter of time before it does.
  • …and, finally, Mindtouch Core (DekiWiki) as my data sink. There’s also a for-pay version, but I’m using the free/open-source one, which is fine. It’s also installed via a deb repository. I guess others may prefer some other platform, but for me Deki is perfect.

Then, your router set to post its address to DynDNS/No-IP or a similar service, and some CNAMEs in your domain to point to the hostname you have chosen (or simply the address of your VPS). All three services (Mindtouch, Tracks, eGroupware) are powered by Apache2, on virtual servers over HTTPS.

The data is yours!

PS: Special thanks to Yannis for suggesting to use eGroupware instead of SOGo+Funambol. A great improvement, indeed.
PPS: I only accept IaaS to fall under the term “cloud computing”, hence the quotes in the title.

Pre-order vs Buy June 19, 2010

Posted by CK in Internet.
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This last Thursday, the 17th of June 2010, I received an email by Amazon, recommending a photography book.

Looking at the respective book page, I saw that it would be available on June 21 (this Monday), but I could pre-order:

This is a new book (i.e. not a new edition), published (according to Amazon book details) on June the 30th:

Everything fine up to here. But then, I saw this:

I assume this refers to pre-orders; however the latter can be cancelled any time up to delivery, so they can only be considered tentative. Am I the only one who finds this misleading?