Various improvements have been made to Newsconomy.com in the last few days.
Today I released several new ones:
No more browser security warnings. I bought and installed an SSL certificate which authenticates the identity of the server and eliminates the browser warnings.
No more categories. I've changed Newsconomy to be tag based instead of having categories. So when you submit an item you make up or choose what tags you want to associate your item with. Right now items can have up to 5 tags. Example: To see all items tagged with programming, you would go here: http://newsconomy.com/tag/programming, for items tagged with design: http://newsconomy.com/tag/design etc.
I redesigned and rewrote the item submission system. Submitting an item is different, easier and better.
A lot more functionality and improvements are on the way. I've been getting some good feed back and suggestions from some people which is great.
Paul Graham talks about working on a start up in an apartment, or a friend's apartment in the book Founder at Work:
I wouldn't worry so much about seeming like a real company. Now I would just say, keep it a bunch of guys operating out of an apartment for as long as you want, because there's nothing to be ashamed of in that, especially if you're writing great software.
One of the reasons I got my own apartment was so that I had a good place to program undistracted. Well, that works pretty good, but not this weekend because my heater is broken and it's freezing. I can't program in such cold so I had to find another solution. I found another way, nothing special and probably obvious to a lot of people, and it got me thinking about what really is the minimum cost to start a web start up.
I'd say the minimum overhead is having a laptop, maybe a $15-a-month virtual private server, transit to nearby coffee shops, coffee expenses, and some time. That's all you really need.
I've talked to a couple programmers before about starting a web start up and their response made me want to slap them. "We will need to get some funding and locate some office space ..."
Good projects get users and expand on their own steam. The projects that really need a lot of initial funding are the ones that fail.
How much time does it take? I like to think of what Joshua Schachter, who started del.icio.us, said in Founders at Work:
I was always very careful (not anymore, because the guys that I work with are better programmers) to structure the code—each chunk of code wasn't larger than the screen—such that I could come in and look at it, figure out what I'm doing, do it, and be done for the day in 15 minutes. So if I could get one thing done a day, I was happy. A lot of stuff, if I could spend more time, I did, but as long as I could get one or two things done a week total, if I didn't have time, I didn't have time. So it moved pretty slowly. I worked on it for years.
Sometime ago I built a news website called Newsconomy.com. It was a prototype for a news website that I was thinking of building. I've decided to really build it. So I got a better server and completely rewrote the site. The old site is here and the new one is up. In addition to having almost all of the functionality of the old one, the new one has secure ssl connections for registration and login and is better at detecting urls and webpages that have already been submitted.
Here's a list of the current functionality:
- The front page shows a list of submitted items ordered by most recently submitted. There are also serveral different categories that items can be assigned to, and the items in each category are listed in their respective category page.
- You can register for an account.
- You can login.
- You can submit items or stories on the web that you like. You can only submit things that haven't been submitted before, but the system isn't perfect in detecting what has already been submitted. When you submit an item the item goes into your account and you are labeled as the "owner" of the item. Your account and your list of items are accessable with this link: http://newsconomy.com/username with "username" replaced with your username.
- Newsconomy has a trading/monetary unit called lambda represented by the symbol λ. Users currently automatically have 10 lambda when they first sign up. With lambda people can "buy" other peoples' items. By buying and selling items using lambda in this way people can trade items. Marketing talk: Newsconomy aims for a uniqueness of items for trading and selling to make a ... newsconomy.
- Once you own an item by either submitting it or buying it you can edit your item's information.
- Each item has a permanent link which links to a page that consists of the item.
- A record of submission, buying and selling is kept with each item and is displayed with each item's individual page.
This is a really early release of the site. One of the reasons I wanted to release it early was to get some feedback. I really want to build the site largely based on what people think and want. So what I really need right now is some users. You can help me by checking it out and letting me know what you think. You could look at the new features I'm looking at implementing and tell me which ones are most important to you.
New features on the horizon:
Here's some of the things I think I need to add:
- An RSS feed for every list of stories/items on the website.
- More categories. Which ones?
- Provide links that sort items by most recently traded and biggest trades.
- Making the site look better. More visual design.
- Make already-submitted-item detection better (doesn't currently recognize meta refresh redirection).
- When a user submits an item but it is found in the database, display to the user the found item so that the user can buy it :)
- Create browser bookmarking buttons/links (like del.icio.us has) to make it easier to submit items.
- Make it so that when someone buys an item the owner of the item is emailed a message that their item was bought. Allow the user to enable/disable this feature.
- Create a user preferences section where users can set settings. Allow the user to enable/disable the email feature in the preferences.
- In the user's account provide a page that show's all the trades and submissions the user has ever done. Perhaps show different organizations and information about this.
- Add a "remember me" check box to the login page so users can choose if their login sessions last longer than when their browser closes.
One question that I've pondered that maybe you could answer for me is why people would submit, buy and sell links in a virtual news/web economy?
- Friday, get home from work at about 6pm. Spend about 30 minutes paying some bills online and making a sandwich (turkey slices, pickles, extra sharp cheese, mayo, mustard, on wheat bread).
- Watch 5 one hour episodes of heroes. Go to bed at about 11:30pm.
- Wake up Saturday morning at 10am and program for an hour on pet project, newsconomy.com, the news website I'm making.
- Jump in the shower. Jump out famished. Order for delivery a large pizza and 2 liter bottle of Sierra Mist from Pizza Guys.
- Clean up the place and do the dishes while waiting for pizza.
- Pizza arrives. Eat it at the table while reading the book. The book right now is Inside the Machine: An Illustrated Introduction to Microprocessors and Computer Architecture. It's really good. After pizza eat a bowl of Safeway Select Chocolate Moose Tracks ice cream while reading the book. It's really good ice cream.
- Program on pet project all day.
- Eat cold pizza for dinner.
- At 7pm walk to the coffee shop down the street with laptop in hand.
- Program at coffee shop with coffee shop provided Wi-Fi.
- Meet some local techie friends at coffee shop, shoot the bull, and show off pet project.
- Coffee shop closes at 11pm, so go home at 11pm.
- Program on pet project until 2:30am and then go to bed.
- Wake up Sunday morning at 11pm and program for an hour.
- Jump in shower. Jump out famished. Eat cold pizza.
- Program all day.
- 4pm: Throw some laundry in the washer and clean some dishes while listening to free online radio stations from pandora.com.
- Chat with a couple programmer friends via instant messenger about programming while programming pet project.
- Pizza is gone. Make a sandwich and eat it while reading the book.
- Take a nap from 7pm to 10pm.
- Program to 2:30am and go back to sleep.
- Wake up Monday morning at 7:30am and go to work.
Only thing really missing is a blog post, which I'm doing today on Monday on my lunch break and after work.
Five months ago I was browsing YouTube and I came across a random video of a girl singing. It was bright and red and the girl was pretty. It was of a girl named Esmee Denters singing a Justin Timberlake song. Now, there's thousands of home videos of people singing on YouTube, some good and a lot of them not. I watched this one and she was so good. This was really something else. I was stunned and watched it several times. This is the video.
One thing that I didn't understand was why there was a guy talking in the end and why he said, "She sings my song better than me." This didn't make sense because the title said the song was a Justin Timberlake song. Later that night I realized that guy was Justin Timberlake.
Today I came across a video of Esmee Denters on Oprah. Oprah tells her story.
The world, and Justin Timberlake, found her on the Internet. This girl is big.