Twitter Update from Chirp

Twitter held their annual developer conference called Chirp on April 14-15th, and it gathered quite a crowd. I recently came across a great summary of Twitter’s latest stats, collected and published by Ben Lorica, a Senior Analyst in the Research Group at O’Reilly Media. Thanks Ben!

Here are some of the key take-aways:

1. Number of registered users: 105,779,710 (1,500% growth over the last three years.)

2. Number of new sign-ups per day: ~ 300,000 (More recently, 60% of new accounts were from outside the U.S.)

3. Number of new tweets per day: 55 million

4. Number of unique daily visitors to the site ~ 180 million. (That’s actually dwarfed by the traffic that flows through twitter’s API — 75% of traffic is through the API.)

5. Number of API requests per day: 3 billion

6. Number of registered apps: 100,000 (from 50,000 in Dec/2009)

7. Number of search queries per day: 600 milion

8. Twitter’s instance, of their recently open-sourced graph database (FlockDB), has 13 billion edges and handles 100,000 reads per second.

9. Number of servers: “… in the hundreds”

10. BlackBerry’s just released twitter app accounted for 7% of new sign-ups over the last few days

11. A NY Times story gets tweeted every 4 seconds.

Leaving Comments Just Got Easier!

For as long as I have had this blog online, one of my strongest concerns was the friction (caused by WordPress and anti-spam tools) preventing my readers from easily leaving comments on my blog.

Now, thanks to an excellent plug-in called IntenseDebate, anybody can now leave comments by signing in through Facebook, Twitter, OpenID, WordPress or IntenseDebate. The plug-in also has some great sidebar tools that dynamically generate a list of the most popular blog posts (ranked by number of comments received) and recent comments received.

If there had been a comment that you wanted to make in response to a previous article, but were turned off by the process involved, I now invite you to participate in those discussions.

To my readers: Thank you all for subscribing and I’m looking forward to the additional conversations that result from these changes. Have a great weekend!

ExtremeU Pitch Day

Last Thursday, I had the opportunity to attend ExtremeU Pitch Day, put on by Extreme Venture Partners (EVP). The attendance was filled with VCs, Angels, media and members of the EVP team to listen to pitches from the 3 graduates of their first class at Extreme University. Those graduates were Assetize, Uken Games and Locationary.

ExtremeU was a summer technology start-up program that focuses on industry networking, technology mentoring and delivering a product to potential investors after only 12 weeks. The intensive program was led by Farhan Thawar (Dean of ExtremeU), who is also the VP Engineering at Xtreme Labs.


Assetize helps Twitter users monetize their content stream by displaying ads from Google AdSense and other ad networks into your Twitter stream. They are hoping to be the AdSense of blogs, but on Twitter. Assetize will share revenue with content publishers (content publishers receive 60%). The company has a content analysis and targeting algorithm as well as an ad-matching algorithm that helps advertisers reach targeted audiences. Since they began coding 3 months ago, Assetize already publishes 15,000 messages per day across all channels and has published approximately 56 million ads to-date. Some early competitors in this space include Sponsored Tweets, and Magpie.

Uken Games

Uken Games, founded by Chris Ye and Mark Lampert, creates social games. Their first game is called SuperHeroes Alliance and is based on the Facebook platform, they have also recently launched an iPhone version of the application (with data synced on the server-side so that you can play the same game across platforms). Since their launch in March 2009, they have amassed 130,000 total users and over 50,000 monthly active users (MAUs). Even in their early days, they have found that people will pay for virtual goods for a whole host of reasons, and that a couple of users even spent over $2,000 to compete against others in the system. So far, they have been working hard to build their “Adaptive Game Engine” and they plan to use this the churn out more game in more verticals (that will remain nameless due to confidentiality). Look out for some more interesting games from Uken.


Locationary is an interesting and massive undertaking, taken-on by Grant Ritchie, to create “The World’s Place Database … Created by You.” Essentially, the company is trying to create the Wikipedia of the YellowPages by crowdsourcing the information and subsequent updates and generating incentive through game mechanics and point-scoring systems.  So far the company has cataloged over 100,000 places. Locationary has ambitious goals (I like to see that) of having 15 million placed indexed within the next 12 months and 100 million places indexed within 2 years. This is a very difficult space and I wish the company good luck in getting the public to be their puppeteer!

Geeks Love Halloween

The rumors are true. Technology geeks do have a thing for Halloween. Mashable scoured the web and found some great pumpkin carvings well representing the current state of web technology and social media. The Twitter Fail-Whale (below) is great and there’s a fantastic carving of Diggnation hosts Alex Albrecht and Kevin Rose.
See more at: 12 Awesome Social Media Halloween Pumpkin Carvings.


Source: Scott B. on Flickr via Mashable!

The iPhone App Store is also cashing-in on the Halloween frenzy. The App Store is promoting its “Halloween Apps & Games” section where you can carve virtual pumpkins with “iCarve” and play Halloween-themed games.


One notable oddity, a game called Attack Of The Zombie Bikini Babes From Outer Space was launched in the App Store two days ago. Smort (rumored to be Smule’s Evil-Twin by Techcrunch) launched the game. As TechCrunch puts it, Smort looked at common themes popular within App Store games, and generated a list: Bikini Babes, Zombies, Bombs, and Bloodshed. This game is the result of that (innovative? smart? creative?) thinking. What are your thoughts? (see video below)

Personally, I think this is really smart. Now, although this game doesn’t necessarily look that compelling, I think that Smort has the right thesis: Research. Build. Launch. Iterate. Repeat. App Store trends are constantly changing. Therefore, monitoring user behavior and download trends can lead to new learnings about your target audience.

My advice: If you’re a startup/entrepreneur, go research your market (do a quick market survey if you wish), build your app and launch it! Review your analytics/metrics, iterate and launch again quickly. There are some app-hungry consumers out there.

Switching from Blogger to WordPress

Over the last 2 days, I have undertaken the monumental task of switching my blog from Blogger to WordPress. To say the least, it was an experience. I thought I’d share my findings, and explain how to do this without losing any data, tags, RSS subscribers or Google rankings.


First, check out the tutorial from Digital Inspiration; it saved my life. The tutorial covers WordPress installation, Blogger account import procedure, 3 steps to handle redirects from old Blogger pages to your new pages on WordPress.

It is particularly good for ensuring the 301 redirects from Blogger to WordPress successfully. It worked for me the first time with no problem. It will also be easier for you if you’ve been using a service like Feedburner to manage your feed, since that address will stay the same. Make sure to read below, because you may still hit a few walls with the tutorial above, as I did.


For example, you are probably going to want “pretty permalinks”. You can set these in the WordPress admin by going to “Settings” –> “Permalinks”; choose “Custom Structure” and type: “/%year%/%monthnum%/%day%/%postname%/” (no quotes).

If you are getting an error when trying to set this custom permalinks type, you probably don’t have the mod_rewrite function working. If you are running on an IIS6 machine, as I am, you can get around this fix by creating a file called “.htaccess” and storing it in your root folder on your FTP server. Add this into the “.htaccess” file, save and close:

# BEGIN WordPress
RewriteEngine On

RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteRule . index.php [L]

# END WordPress

Turn Categories into back into Tags

You may also notice that the Blogger import made all of my tags into categories. Luckily, if you go to “Tools” –> “Import” within the WordPress admin area, there is an option called “Categories and Tags Converter” that will get this fixed for you very easily.

If you’re going through a similar process, I hope you find this helpful! If not, I hope you enjoy the new blog layout and widgets. Please let me know your thoughts, as I always invite conversation below. Soon I’ll add Facebook Connect integration to make commenting much easier for my visitors.

Apple Keynote at WWDC

No doubt there is some excitement going on at the WWDC. So far (and I will do my best to keep updating this post) this is the list of notable feature upgrades they have made to the iPhone OS 3.0:

iPhone OS 3.0
3.0 Software is FREE for all iPhone owners and $9.95 for touch owners (and available on June 17th)

New Business Models (entrepreneurs, take notice) — In-Application Billing! Finally!!!
Push Notifications!
Cut/copy/paste. Works across all apps
Tethering is now supported.
MMS now available.
Want to undo? Just shake the phone.
Adding Spotlight: now search across your entire phone, apps and details within apps!
iTunes: Rent and purchase movies right from the phone!
iTunesU now also on phone.
HTML5 support in Mobile Safari. Javascript 3X faster.
Users can play your own music (from your library) inside applications
You can also send a “remote wipe” command to wipe your data remotely! (with MobileMe)
Login and it will show you a map of where your phone is located! (with MobileMe)

Random Stats:
40,000,000 iPhones/touches sold already
1,000,000 SDK downloaded

iPhone 3GS
“s” stands for “speed”
Up to 3 times faster than the 3g model
iPhone 3GS has a new camera (3.2 megapixel)
Video capturing is now possible on the iPhone 3GS!
30 frames per second with auto focus, exposure control, and more

Oh … and either iPhone 3.0 can show you real-time health information (with proper accessories, of course):

Google Wave

Google announced “Google Wave” at the Google I/O conference last week. Google says that their technology is a new tool for communication and collaboration on the web, coming later this year.

After watching the video and speaking to a friend at the event, I think this product is going to be hugely successful for a few reasons.

1. VERY Open API
2. Widget architecture to allow plug-ins like Firefox allows for dynamic functionality
3. Multi-faceted use cases (consumer, prosumer, enterprise)
4. Google already has a massive reach
5. The technology allows real-time updates to multiple locations (i.e. edits or updates to a wave will be shown in real-time to friends, colleagues, and places that the wave may be embedded such as blogs or a website)
6. Drag and drop from desktop to web
7. Ease of adding and removing(??) Wave participants
8. Playback functionality of Waves (I am excited to see how this gets further developed)

If you are reading this, and are from Google, I would love an invite to the Wave sandbox to give it a trial pre-launch!

Watch the video at

ColdFusion 8 Coming Soon

This might be a little outside the scope of my usual blogging topics, but its exciting! ColdFusion 8 Scorpio has begun its pre-release tour – in case you are wondering, ColdFusion is an internet-based programming platform. It is owned by Adobe, who bought Macromedia, who bought Allaire – the company that originally developed the technology. It’s come a LONG way! It includes built-in AJAX widgets, JSON support, .NET integration, Microsoft Exchange integration, a Flash-based presentation builder, full PDF integration and many other cool features. I may or may not be getting a little excited about this news.

More details available on

Scientists Rejoice as Google Solves Data Management Crisis

Okay … so maybe “rejoice” is going a little too far, but scientists in the astronomy world are quite happy with Google’s innovative solution to managing their massive amounts of data received from imaging done in space, whether its infrared, gamma-ray, x-ray, etc…

The processes has been coined “FedExNet” by scientists who have already adopted and are using the new service. So what is this new service? I have highlighted some of the main points from the originating Wired article below:

  • Google acts as both a repository and courier for large data sets
  • Google ships both the PC and array to teams of scientists at various research institutions, which then connect their local servers to the array via an eSATA connection. Once the data transfer is complete, the drives get sent straight back to Mountain View, where the data is copied to Google’s servers for archival purposes. The idea then is that if other scientists around the world needed access to such a large quantity of data, Google would simply reverse the process.
  • Chris DiBona, the open-source program manager at Google, says “We make a copy of [the data], and then we can use the hard drives for something else. They’ll get banged around a little bit too much (to store the data directly on the drives). They’re not intended to be a long-term storage medium — they’re like envelopes to us.”
  • With a set of Google drives, Gorelick (who came up with the FedExNet moniker) can copy his team’s data in about 24 hours or less, something that can make a big difference when the time comes to collaborate with other research groups.

    See full article at Wired: Google’s Next-Gen of Sneakernet

Think of all the separate databases out there that manage genetic information. There are many independently operated bioinformatic databases and if they can all be centralized and indexed in a way that only Google can do, think of the potential implications for the scientific community working to progress the knowledge of DNA, RNA and protein interactions. This might be an essential step working towards the completion of the proteome and transcriptome …

Video Games, Web 2.0, Upcoming Tech!

There are countless articles on the web talking about Second Life and the announcement of PlayStation Home, the new game for the Sony PlayStation 3 that allows you to put a player in Sony’s virtual world and interact within a next-generation online community. As Sony describes, it is going to be a “Free Download to Allow Broad User Interaction in Highly Detailed Community Environment; Opens Door to User-Created Content, Collaboration and Commerce”.

There is a more detailed description of the comparison and evolving world of gaming here, if you are interested.

It looks like we’re seeing a migration of Web 2.0 into Gaming 2.0. It’s going to be interesting to see what other video games are going to be released in the upcoming years that incorporate user-generated content and community-oriented structures. Which game is going to be the next blockbuster? Could gaming start to include website links and content? How integrated could these video games become with the web? Is it possible that we might see commerce systems integrated into video games, such as seen in Second Life? Who wants to guess the first day we start to see Google AdWords on the side of a video game? Or, how about a user in a gaming community advertising Amazon products in association with what attributes or “knowledge” your virtual character has developed. My guess: December 14th, 2008 at 8:37 am Eastern Standard Tiem. Random? Maybe. What do you think?

I just found a really cool innovation coming to the gaming world, and perhaps online shopping too! Researchers in Germany developed a 3D animation technique that allows a high-resolution scan of a person to be super-imposed onto another person’s or character’s movements. This technology was originally developed for use in 3D video, but it may be possible to get yourself scanned somewhere and use the generated file to integrate your own 3D scan into your own virtual world video games. Too limiting? Maybe.

Okay, how about this … online clothes shopping!

The problem with shopping for clothes online is that it is too hard to imagine how clothes are going to fit. Solution: using this 3D technology, you can use your 3D scanned shape to virually “see” these clothes on YOUR frame. (and if you’re entrepreneurial and decide that you want to develop this idea, all I ask is for an honourable mention , and a few shares of the company if you’re feeling generous…)