22 September 2009


Every once in a while, we get an ironic reminder of how mass-literature is fundamentally formulaic. Cartoonists are especially (but not exclusively) fond of this sort of joke, probably because the nature of their work is often dismissed as "repetitive" and they have to get back at (mostly disingenuous) critics. Or maybe they just like playing the smartass.

It is then customary, on my part, to faithfully print the cartoons in question and then point it out to whoever gets around my desk. Some leave in a troubled state of mind, suddenly faced by the emptiness of a universe they hitherto happily inhabited. A few laugh at the old joke. Some think I'm just weird.

Last May, Aaron Diaz's Dresden Codak gave us the already-legendary 42 essential 3rd-act twists by Harvet Ismuths. Today, David Maliki's Wondermark built the phantasmagoric Electro-Plasmic HydroCephalic Genre-Fiction Generator 2000. They sit perfectly among the other stuff I hang around my pseudo-cubicle, like words by Carlos Williams, Borges and Piñero. Why keeping beauty out of the office, when there is so much of it?

20 September 2009

"The Web Startup Success Guide" review, and how to tie-in better

Yesterday, I bought Bob Walsh's latest book, The Web Startup Success Guide. It's the only thing I've found in "mainstream" bookshops that seemed really relevant to my current project, and indeed it is.

As "self-help-business" books go, this is a good one: the fluff is kept low (could have done with a few less interviews maybe, especially from bloody Guy Kawasaki -- if you're thinking of starting up and don't know him already, you haven't done your homework), and there's something for everybody, with plenty of practical advice and real tools you can use. A few ones are very US-centric (like mint.com, which is a real shame), but that's par for the course in this area.

You can also see that Walsh practices what he preaches, and that's always a good sign. Minutes after I twitted on the subject, he "@replied"; he really monitors social media for marketing purposes as much as he says you should do.

Walsh also couldn't miss the chance to pimp his latest shot at startupping, StartupToDo.com; after all, he's a good friend of Joel Spolsky, a master of self-publicity. Clearly the book and the site are part of a coordinated marketing effort. Nothing wrong with that: the book is NOT simply a brochure for the site, it's all good content, probably coming from the extensive research Walsh did while building the site as well as his personal experience (which was also enshrined in his previous effort, the famous Micro-ISV: from Vision to Reality). What I've found a bit disappointing was that the effort is missing the very last bit. StartupToDo is due to launch next week, but has been in private beta (invite-only) for a while now. The book was published in July. It would have been cool for readers to get some sort of password, a "backdoor" to the beta program, so they could sign up while they're still fired up from the book. For two months, "faithful" followers were just able to leave an email to be reminded when the real launch would actually happen. I'm lucky as I have to wait just a few days, but in the age of Internet-time and instant gratification, that's still a lot. So, Bob (and whoever goes for the next book/website combo): you should try to increase your conversion rate by making sure that readers can get in straight away.

UPDATE: StartupToDo.com is now live, as Bob correctly points out below. I'm "toyg" on the site, feel free to "friend me"! I've wandered a bit around the site already... lots of good info, recommendations and links which I'm still trying to get my head around. I'll post a better review later.

And now, back to plotting my startup...

19 September 2009

oops I did it again

Designed a very simple website. Looks wonderful in Firefox 3, Opera 9, Chrome 4, Safari 3, Konqueror 3. Yay, ready to upload then! Wait, I think I forgot something... oh yes, Internet Explorer! I'm working on Linux after all. Let's see... IE6: looks shit but who cares, nobody uses it anymore. IE7: looks marginally less shit, but still shit. Damn. Back to the css... this is why I left webplumbing.

14 September 2009

On Secrecy

It's been almost a month since my last blogpost. Many, many things happened, but unfortunately I can't talk about them here, as much as I wish that wasn't the case. Hopefully circumstances will get better in 2010. Meanwhile, check out this classic movie, completely unrelated to my situation (oh yeah).