Yay, new web service!

by Jason on

Since I’ve had so much time on my hands lately, I’ve decided to launch a new company. There’s are many competitors in this sphere but they are so expensive to use and don’t necessarily leverage the web as well as they should. Twixsy.com is a web based attendance, registration and management tool for day cares, gymnastics studios, dance studios, adult respite care and more. (You can learn about at least some of it’s features and pricing here). I’ll have a lot more to say about Twixsy soon hopefully. Website: http://www.twixsy.com Blog: http://blog.twixsy.com Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Twixsy/200510299966911 Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/TwixsyPro  

All of this is gone in some way or another. We’ll use this name for something but not the service advertised here.

Moving Day

by Jason on

Since I acquired jasonbenson.com, it’s time to start using it. The .me links should still work fine.

Marketing Pollution

by Jason on

Sometime last year I got a free subscription to Bloomberg Businessweek. I don’t remember what prompted it at the time but it’s been fun receiving these magazines every week. They stack up and sometimes I even read one if I have a stray moment (I am obviously not a target demographic.) For what it’s worth I’ve never even been to the website for this (or most) print publications because there’s a tangible quality, almost an ornateness, to the amount of effort put into the magazine itself that skipping through advertisements on a website rarely achieves. It was for this reason I really liked “The September Issue” when Cynth pulled it up on Netflix. I wasn’t very interested in the personalities or conflicts (shocker: people that run a multi-million dollar publishing empire are driven, care deeply about their work and are sometimes snarky.) The process itself, from concept to the final product and all steps in between, is fascinating.

To get back to the original magazine: Bloomberg. One of the benefits of having it come weekly is that I get to see the evolution of the advertisements (at least on the back cover). Recently Microsoft has been cloud centric with everything (we see this on their TV commercials too.) It’s mostly been various advertisements about Microsoft’s cloud initiatives swinging wildly between a numeral “1” surrounded by clouds to the latest which is an older woman who is “elastic and fantastic“ because she has “cloud power.” This latest one really drove home two points for me: tech advertisements have little of the “quality” evinced in the actual magazine content and tech advertisements have no issue with complete abrogation of fact.

In marketing speak “cloud” seems to be synonymous with “internet” or “web based app” but that could hardly be farther from the truth. Unlike “Web 2.0” and “Web 3.0” (which have no meaning or merit on their own), cloud computing at some point in the past actually meant something specific. Consider the instance of a lowly programmer deciding to make a simple shopping list application. Before cloud computing came along if she wanted to be sure her shopping list website or app would be consistently available she would have to evaluate the resources required for the app, purchase adequate server space and bandwidth and hope that the original estimates were correct. If her app became very popular or the original estimates were incorrect (perhaps the simple app required a lot more bandwidth or more processor availability) she would go out and either rent more servers, rent more bandwidth, or rent/build a clustered server environment. Now, when beginning that same application, if she chooses one of the rapidly growing cloud services as her infrastructure, she pays for what she wants and the resources required (processor cores, data storage and bandwidth) will scale as necessary (within her allocated budget.) This, for many developers, actually is a revolution as they now have access to resources that were beyond their previous availability.

The anonymous programmer above’s predicament is a far different scenario than when a franchise manager (I’ll call him Mike) wants to make sure his documents and information are easily accessible and safe online. Mike probably doesn’t care too much about the “cloud.” His business, managing the local Widgets-R-Us, has very little to do with internet technology other than he wants whatever solution he has chosen to “just work.” Lucky for Mike he has many alternatives to how to store and access his documents online. Whether it’s DropBox, a product like we make, some large enterprise solution from Microsoft, simple Google Docs, or literally hundreds of other competitors in the sphere, Mike is set and ready to make his decision based on his two criteria: safe and easily accessible.

Hundreds of competitors? Maybe thousands. So how is a product going to differentiate itself? Obviously, since most large players will not compete based on their applications being easily accessible or safe (hypothetical Mike’s two main concerns), it’s time to start slinging around marketing speak like “Web 2.0.” That will muddle Mike’s buying process, if he can be convinced it actually means something, and lean his decision towards one of the players using that phrase. However “Web 2.0/3.0” (thankfully) has lost almost all it’s meaning and people (hopefully) are seeing through the hype. So it’s time to latch onto a new word and the new word is “cloud.” In a technical sense this can mean quite a lot. In a marketing sense it can be so broad as to mean next to nothing.

Does the average user care about Microsoft’s, Zoho’s or Rackspace’s infrastructure as long as their documents are safe and easily accessible? Probably not, however that is what we’re actually being sold. Sure, you could argue that the infrastructure makes documents “safe,” however many non “cloudy” apps have a just as safe, if a bit more specifically tailored, infrastructure. Ironically you could make a perfectly valid argument that the “cloud” is less safe as it relies on a generic infrastructure supported by a corporation whose livelihood is not (currently) much affected by the infrastructure’s success.

This kind of marketing is only destined to backfire. To the buying public, “cloud” will become synonymous with web based applications. Maybe it will even become synonymous with redundancy, I’d kinda like that. In the end however I believe it will end up meaning nothing. Fine by me, I just hope no one buys into all the malarkey in the meantime.

jQuery nextN and prevN continued...

by Jason on

Previously I provided a jQuery plugin for next N siblings.

I’ve extended this a bit to include or not include the parent selector as well as providing a prevN plugin.

jsFiddle examples:

nextN plugin javascript:

/*
			 *  nextN jQuery Plugin
			 *
			 *  example: $('li').nextN(5)
			 *  returns the next 5 siblings
			 *
			 *  example: $('li').nextN(5, true)
			 *  returns the next 5 elements including the parent selector
			 *
			 *  example: $('li').nextN(5, false)
			 *  returns the next 5 siblings
			 *
			 */
			(function($) {
			    $.fn.extend({
			        nextN: function(nextN_limit, includeSelf){
			
			            var nextN_els = (includeSelf ? this : $());
			            var lastElement = this;
			
			            if(includeSelf){ nextN_limit--;}
			
			            //loop until limit or break;
			            for(var i=0;i<nextN_limit;i++){
			               //add next sibling after last if it exists
			                if($(lastElement).next().length > 0){
			                    nextN_els = $(nextN_els).add($(lastElement).next());
			                    lastElement = $(nextN_els).filter(':last');
			               } else {
			                   break;
			               }
			            }
			
			            return nextN_els;
			        }
			    })
			})(jQuery);
			
prevN plugin javascript:
/*
			 *  prevN jQuery Plugin
			 *
			 *  example: $('li').prevN(5)
			 *  returns the previous 5 siblings
			 *
			 *  example: $('li').prevN(5, true)
			 *  returns the previous 5 elements including the parent selector
			 *
			 *  example: $('li').prevN(5, false)
			 *  returns the previous 5 siblings
			 *
			 */
			(function($) {
			    $.fn.extend({
			        prevN: function(prevN_limit, includeSelf){
			
			            var prevN_els = (includeSelf ? this : $());
			            var lastElement = this;
			
			            if(includeSelf){ prevN_limit--;}
			
			            //loop until limit or break;
			            for(var i=0;i<prevN_limit;i++){
			               //add next sibling after last if it exists
			                if($(lastElement).prev().length > 0){
			                    prevN_els = $(prevN_els).add($(lastElement).prev());
			                    lastElement = $(prevN_els).filter(':first');
			               } else {
			                   break;
			               }
			            }
			
			            return prevN_els;
			        }
			    })
			})(jQuery);