Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Where is the app?

After a very long weekend we didn't launch the application I'm incredibly disappointed! There are plenty of lessons to be learned from the weekend which is always a good thing but I would've felt better if we had actually launched the application. Overall, I had a great time and and would definitely do a Startup Weekend again. A special thanks to Andrew Hyde for organizing the weekend and the Alley Insider for all the publicity.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Home Stretch

We're almost done! I only got about three hours of sleep last night bringing the total for the weekend to six. My alarm went off for a minute or so before my wife and hound forced me to get up. After a shower, some coffee, a bagel and a bottle of Gatorade I'm starting to feel human again.

My outlook on the project is better this morning. I was really starting to get nervous last night about how much work we had left but I was able to get in an uninterrupted three hour hackathon before going to bed. Before heading to bed I reviewed the wireframes and decided that we only need to cut one piece of functionality before launch. I'm sure people won't be psyched about dropping functionality but this is what you have to when you start running low on time.

I'll update the blog as I have time today. I'm planning on doing a small postmortem tomorrow to analyze the project.

Soooo... back to the code.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Midnight Oil

I didn't have time to post as often as I would've liked today but such are the challenges of a Startup Weekend.

On the technology front we made a lot of progress on the Facebook, infrastructure and core development fronts. I'll give a brief overview of our status based on the areas of concentration I described in the last post.
  • Facebook research
    • Standard API - Our understanding of the core APIs is good and we tested a lot of the calls.
    • JS - The embedded Javascript functionality is fairly new to Facebook and the documentation is representative of this state but our UI group made some great progress on this front.
  • Data consolidation/management - Solid progress. Initial data schema and data access objects are in place. Spelling correction and external WS libraries are coming together.
  • Infrastructure - Our server is up and running and most of the required production software is installed. Tomorrow we need to finish the install and tune the OOTB applications.
In a nutshell... we made a lot of progress today. The application doesn't look like much right now but we have all the components in place that will let us move quickly tomorrow.

I will say... I'm sweating a bit right now but I'm confident we'll be able to pull this off.

Perhaps next weekend I'll do a one man startup weekend to measure the impact of a large group of relative strangers.

Oh... there is a logo and name for the project.

Alright... there are only a couple of hours left in the day and I have a lot to do...


From a technology standpoint, we're making great progress. Until we receive a completed functional specification, we divided our time into:
  • Facebook research - Make sure we fully understand all the aspects of the Facebook API.
  • Data consolidation - We're going to receive a lot of customer generated data. We need to make sure the application corrects misspellings (where possible).
  • Infrastructure - Server hosting and production software install.
After we receive the functional specs, we can divide up the coding tasks and bang this out. I'm getting a little nervous about time but overall, I feel confident about where we are right now.

Back at It

After a mere four hours of sleep I'm back in Brooklyn getting ready to start day two. I ended up spending a couple of hours setting up the source repository last night. I wrote some basic build and deploy scripts so that the rest of the engineers could start running today. I tried to get to bed around 02:30 but my mind was racing. I was thinking about the project and what we have to do this weekend.

Today, the major technological hurdle is for us all the familiarize ourselves with the Facebook API. I don't see this is a major obstacle because it's a relatively simple set of commands. I wrote a hello world Facebook application a few months ago but that's hardly the same as what we're building this weekend.

I'm hoping we can make some major progress on the data consolidation application today. Since people will tend to misspell the names of restaurants and food we need to write a process that picks the correct spelling and consolidates data. Not an impossible process but can be difficult when dealing with our dataset (restaurant names and dishes).

Alright, it's three minutes until we officially start... I will be posting every few hours today.

Fun, fun, fun!

Friday, September 21, 2007

There Can Be Only One

After about four hours of debate we narrowed down the list of ideas to three finalists.

The Finalists
  • User Generated Fashion via Geotagging
  • The Greatest Menu Meals (Facebook app)
  • Game - Internet Scavenger Hunt
Since I proposed the game I pushed hard for it but in the end lost to, "The Greatest Menu Meals" idea. In a nutshell we're building a company that allows people to vote and search for the greatest food type by location. For example, suppose I was looking for the best rated tortilla espanola in New York, I could execute a search in the Facebook application. Additionally, users are able to vote on their favorite meal at a restaurant.

I was happy we agreed to release all the source for the application under the Apache 2.0 OSS license.

After we finalized the idea the UI team started working on the functionality specification. The technology team spent a bit of time getting organized and then called it a night.

OK, it's late and I need to spend some time thinking about the project and how we're going to design this application.

More tomorrow morning!

More Press

There is some additional buzz about the Startup Weekend NYC.

Here are the links:

NYC Startup Weekend (IEEE Spectrum)

Can you create a successful internet startup in 3 days? (downloadsquad)

Let me know if you find anything else.