Techzing 48 – The Depressed Designer

Justin and Jason discuss multitenant databases, the possibility of using MongoDB as the underlying data store for AppIgnite applications, options for exporting and installing AppIgnite applications, the fundraising strategy for the iPhone app Jason’s been working on, the process of raising money from VCs, whether raising money forces a death date on a project, how nine copies of Swarm were sold on it’s first day of release, how Justin has accepted a full-time position as VP of IT for MyVBO and will have exactly one guy reporting to him (sweet!), how Taylor Norrish is good at both design and UX, PubNub and Comet, the importance of having a collaborator on a project, an idea for a hackathon website, a new show segment called Letters from Guyon, how iPhone and iPad owners have been conditioned to pay for software, building a version of Swarm for the iPhone, how it takes approximately two weeks (or maybe thirty days) to establish a habit (we actually don’t know), automatically processing incoming emails via PHP, Jason’s idea for building an email application wizard and Justin’s idea for generalizing the concept for an email support system, targeting designers with AppIgnite, why it’s important to try to build real applications with AppIgnite, what Justin needs to do to increase the growth rate of Pluggio and what could be done to increase the growth rate of the podcast.

  1. Bopinder Abu Morpalinder Singh says:

    Justin, you are mean and someone needs to give you a wedgie 😛

  2. Justin says:
  3. Bopinder Abu Morpalinder Singh says:

    Because you make fun of Jason’s other (not successful) startup!

  4. Justin says:

    @Bopinder Abu Morpalinder Singh
    Ohhhhhhh, now I get ya. You mean about preezo. Oops. That was mean. Sorry Jason 😉

  5. Bopinder Abu Morpalinder Singh says:


    You are nowhere to be found on Google. I think you could double the number of signups with a good SEO push. Phrase “retweet twitter” -> NO ADVERTISING COMPETITION but has 14K SEARCHES PER MONTH GLOBALLY. #1 result has a page rank of 5. I am tempted to buy Pluggio just to show you up! Gosh!

    If you don’t do something, it will be so depressing.

  6. Bopinder Abu Morpalinder Singh says:


  7. Bopinder Abu Morpalinder Singh says:

    PS: 1% growth per month is more than 12%/year. I’d love to make 12% more than last year. As it is now, I’m flat.

  8. Justin says:

    @Bopinder Abu Morpalinder Singh
    Shhhh. Shhh. Send that kind of think in by email!!! 😉

  9. Bopinder Abu Morpalinder Singh says:

    lol, don’t worry I’m not really gonna buy it. But sheesh, come on man…

  10. Bopinder Abu Morpalinder Singh says:

    Just thought of some advertising that could work: have a free course on Twitter through the eyes of Pluggio.

    You could cover how to get followers who are engaged with what you twote. Or something.

  11. Justin says:
  12. Samh says:

    Congrats on the Swarm sales Justin!

  13. soitgoes says:

    Justin, congrats on getting your first sales of Swarm. Surprised you’re going permie though when you seem to have a real knack for creating revenue generating products. Hope you find time to continue with Swarm and Pluggio and hopefully some new products. For me, the fact that you guys are entrepreneurs with products you’ve developed and are selling or are close to selling really adds a lot to the podcast.

    I was interested in the conversation about setting up databases and multi-tenated solutions (userid in each row, supporting different schemas in the same db with 50+ columns some configurable etc). I would be interested to hear more discussion around multi-tenated solutions – pros and cons, configuration options etc.

    Thanks for another great show guys!

  14. Chris says:

    Great show guys, covered an array of interesting subjects.

    Listening to you talk about your “idea” for email wizardry. I knocked up a 3 part blog post. ( 3 scripts covering different things you can do )

    I have for a long time, been tempted to write a blog post as feedback in response to your shows. But blogging is not something which comes naturally to me.

    Very impressed how you managed to put together and get on the app store Swarm. Yet I am genuinely surprised how pluggio has faded from the forefront of your energies.

    I have to agree with you both that the biz side of pushing a web app is exciting and dull all at the same time. As someone soon ( sooner than later hopefully ) to release a web app, I feel I have this all to experience soon.

    Great tip / insight you gave. On how you monitor pluggio buzz on twitter when you mentioned the retweet stuff. A great nugget of information.

  15. Justin says:

    Wow, that blog post and script you posted is awesome! Jason you could get the basics of what you were talking about up and running in, like, 10 minutes with that script.

    Also thx for your other kind words Chris. It’s great to get this kind of feedback and really makes the show worth while for me 🙂

  16. Justin says:

    Thx for the kind words. I’ll try to discuss that multi-tennant stuff in more depth next show to highlight the good aspects versus the bad.

  17. Jason says:

    @Chris That’s very cool. Thanks so much for writing it up. I’m going to print it all out and read it tonight.

  18. Jason says:

    @Bopinder Abu Morpalinder Singh Yeah, Justin is kind of a mean little girl in that way. No worries. 😉

  19. Chris says:

    @Justin, every sunday, I think dammit, why is it not the same time here in Europe with you guys on the West Coast. If all goes well I get my weekly fix of geek speak monday lunchtime 🙂

    @Jason if you do find time / desire to play with the scripts and you have questions, I am more than willing to at least try and answer them. I wanted to use email integration for an idea on my site, yet I discovered the same pitfalls that Justin mentioned.

    The varying type of content from the different email providers made it far to much work for the little “feature” I wanted. I only looked at Gmail, Facebook ( yes Facebookmail ) and Yahoo!, yet all three did things differently even when you forced it to Plain text.

    ( I didnt research any classes to parse the data. )

  20. Chris Boesing says:

    regarding different mail clients:
    Couldn’t you just send out html emails? in that html you would have a div that is style like a form. So when the user hits reply he would enter the wysiwyg html editor of the email client and then he would type something inside the div tag. If he sends it you would get something like this:
    “What is the name of the app? Super App”
    Getting the answer to the question should be very easy because all you have to do is search the reply for the div with the “answerFakeForm” id.
    Another advantage of the html over plain text would be that you can set the charset of the html to get a predictable character set.

    I would use a div that is styled like a form because I don’t think that the input of a form would be send to you, but I haven’t done any research on that

  21. Chris Boesing says:

    damn wordpress has stripped out the tags from my example response.
    “Super App” should be in a div with the id “answerFakeForm”

  22. Xavi says:

    @Jason About COMET, have you tried node.js? It makes COMET fairly easy to implement. I was able to make an online pictionary app without too much trouble. It’s a bit buggy and doesn’t work in IE, but I think it’s a good proof of concept:

    Here’s the code if you’re interested:

  23. William says:

    I’ve had a student doing some devoloping with COMET using a package called orbited to implement something similar to what you guys were talking about on the show. In our case, we’re trying to develop a web based data reduction package. As part of this, we have a live data window in which we update a FLOT based plot whenever we get new data from our instruments. To update the plot (similar to the live stock ticker you mentioned) we use COMET and have found that orbited works fairly well internally, but we haven’t started testing with serious loads yet. We’ve found another group has been experimenting with websockets, but we haven’t gone there yet (it seems that websockets are rather browser dependent at this point). Do you guys have any experience with websockets in production? Suppose you only had to target one cross platform browser?

  24. Jason says:

    @Xavi I haven’t has a chance to play around with node.js, but I’ve read some stuff about it and it looks really interesting. It might be interesting to get a node.js expert on as a guest. Your defuddle project looks really cool. Nice work! 😉

  25. Jason says:

    @William Yeah, actually I did take a look at Orbited, but it was a long time ago when the project was just getting started and at the time it was kind of buggy and had little documentation. Also, it’s a Python project and I don’t really know Python, so that was another obstacle for me.

    To be honest, I don’t know very much about Websockets, but I think you’re right that as a new standard it’s probably not fully supported by the majority of browsers at this point. But with how quickly HTML5 is gaining steam, it would probably be worth keeping an eye on the technology.

    By the way, the guys from PubNub are going to be guests on the upcoming show and they’re experts on COMET, so it should be an interesting and educational interview.

  26. Jason says:

    @Chris Boesing You’re right, an HTML email would probably better structure the input and take care of the character set problem. Not a bad idea. 😉

  27. Xavi says:

    @Jason Thanks for taking a look!

    Defuddle is the culmination of two trends I’m seeing: full stack javascript (aka server side js) and the rise of DOM games.

    The idea behind full stack javascript is to reduce the number of impedance mismatches. Going from SQL to Java Objects to JSON/XML is a nightmare. With full stack js, it’s JSON all the way down. My friend actually gave a talk about this at a nosql conference:

    As for the rise of DOM games, consider these facts: people love mindless gaming (see, people hate installing software (see the 90s), an ipad is sold every 3 seconds (see blogosphere), the ipad doesn’t support flash (see Steve Jobs). There seems to be an opportunity here.

    Just my two cents…

  28. Jason says:

    @Xavi Two things.

    First, I love the idea of a full Javascript stack and once I can easily do everything I can do in PHP with Javascript then I’m there! If you’ve seen any tutorials on the subject then please let me know because I’m very interested in the possibility. Also, it would be awesome to get someone on for an interview who’s an expert on the subject and is one of the people leading the charge. If you have any suggestions then please let me know.

    Second, in regards to the rise of DOM games, Stephen and Todd from PubNub are going to be guests on our next show and Stephen and I have already been pinging back and forth about the possibility of collaborating on a real-time, massively multi-player, browser-based strategy game. Wow, that’s quite a mouthful and I didn’t even throw in the part about having using AI agents to power most of the activity! 😉 I talked a little bit about this concept back in Techzing 40 – AppIgnite Revealed.

    By the way, your project has a lot in common with a proof of concept project that Stephen showed me earlier today. All of this stuff is very, very cool and I think there’s a lot of opportunity here. If you have time, why don’t you write up a kick-ass blog post about what you’re working on and maybe some of the full stack Javascript stuff and we’ll talk about it on the show. Plus, I’m sure you could get some good Hacker News love. 😉

    Also, thanks for these great comments. It makes the podcast all the more fun when we get to meet, learn and share ideas with our listeners.

  29. Justin says:

    (and anyone else) if you haven’t seen it I recommend watching this video about node.js and fab the new node.js web framework. It’s revolutionary!

  30. Jason says:

    @Justin Yeah, that was on the front page of Hacker News today. Pretty interesting.

  31. I enjoyed the show, as usual!

    Jason, using MongoDB as a generic datastore for AppIgnite sounds pretty hard especially around relationships. But since you built your own ORM already I suspect you are not intimidated by that challenge! 😉
    Btw I came across a super deep set of MongoDB videocasts at: (despite the fact you see mongofr the content is actually in English). Several are from Eliot Horowitz (himself – CEO of MongoDB). I especially recommend the one on sharding.

    Justin, even though you have not had much time to work on Pluggio, I like the new “Get Full Conversation” feature and the twitter id drowdown (which I discovered today!). This is awesome as it brings some kind of order into the Twitter stream chaos. I definitely think you should keep working on it. I think that it is still an awesome product, and I like the fact you can get organized around which tweets to schedule and then be free to tweet as you go.

    What a coincidence, when I played the show on Thursday as I was driving in to work, my goal for the day was to look into web sockets for a new version of one of our internal enterprise apps! So that totally put me in the mood when you started to discuss Comet. Since we use .NET at work, I found that there was a C# server framework called Nugget ( Jason, in your .net trading apps have you come across other types of web socket solutions?
    I am looking forward to the PubNub episode.

    Hey Justin, how about having a nice small image/ad for TechZingLive? We could place it on our blogs to help promote the show. Or a fun little badge for “hard-core” listeners? Could be fun.

  32. Xavi says:

    PubNub seems pretty interesting. I’m looking forward to the next episode.

    Also, I agree, articles on full-stack js are definitely needed. What kind of posts would you be interested in?

  33. Xavi says:

    That FAB talk was great. Thanks for the link!

    But I gotta say, as usual, old lispers are rolling their eyes. I remember my prof giving a lecture about how simple functions can be composed to model electric circuit (as opposed to webservers).

  34. Jason says:

    @Philippe Monnet Thanks for the link to the MongoDB tutorials. They look great!

    In terms of using MongoDB for AppIgnite’s datastore, that’s kind of just an idea. We have MySQL working really well, so I don’t think changing to MongoDB is something we need to worry about it the short-term. In the long-term, however, I think it might be a fun little project.

    I haven’t used any kind of web socket technology for any of the trading infrastructure I’ve developed mainly because it’s all been behind firewalls and not on the web. Custom binary messages built on top of raw TCP sockets has been the transport mechanism I’ve used.

  35. Jason says:

    @Xavi I think it would be very useful to write a series of introductory tutorials showing how to install the required libraries and how to get a simple database app going – like maybe a simple contact manager or something. My guess is that most programmers won’t seriously consider switching to a JS stack until it can been demonstrated to them that they can do all the standard form processing and database interaction stuff, despite the coolness of node.js and the asynchronous paradigm.