Championing Confluence and Common Sense

July 17, 2007

Confluence Logo

I started a new job this week. I will not reveal who it is with except to say that most people who read this blog will have heard of them. My team is newly created, although some of the work we will be doing was previously handled by other teams. After some investigation it turns out there wasn’t any documentation for the work that the other teams were previously handling. So one of my first jobs is to start documenting the use of some of the scripts and utilities we use.

As a new team there aren’t any standards for documenting our team information. My manager put some of his thoughts forward about how he thought it could be done. Whenever people start talking about sharing information collaboratively I start thinking about wikis, so I asked my manager, “What about using a wiki?” “What’s a wiki,” he said.

I found myself thinking about how to easily explain what a wiki is. Firstly I tried my usual response, “have you used Wikipedia before?” “Nope,” he said. So I did my best to explain to him what a wiki is. In the end my manager said it sounded like it was a good idea, but he wasn’t too sure about anyone being able to edit everything. I said, “its no different to the bunch of Excel and Word files currently stored on the server.” “True,” he said, and plus I reassured him we can always rollback changes if required.

I was fairly sure in such a big organisation there was a decent chance one of the other existing teams might already use a wiki. So I started searching around and sure enough there was Atlassian’s Confluence wiki (again) already setup for around 30 teams and waiting for my new team.

There are several sceptics in the team so together with another team member I have taken the role of championing the new wiki and justifying it to our managers. It will be interesting to see how we go but I am sure with common sense and Confluence on our side there is no way we could fail.


CyclingNews: You Don’t Need A Pretty Website to Make Money

July 5, 2007

If you wanted proof you can still make money off the internet without a fancy ‘web 2.0’ looking site, look no further. Paul Montgomery founder of Aussie Startup Tinfinger is reporting:

“Knapp Communications, based in the inner-city Sydney suburb of Surry Hills, has sold the bicycle news Web site to UK-based Future Publishing for £2.2 million (A$5.2 million, US$4.4 million).”

Im sure the content is great, but geez that is one ugly looking site.

Cycling News Screenshot

Particls: Personally Relevant Data Delivered

June 26, 2007

Particls Logo

I have wanted to write about Australian based Particls for some time now. So why havent I? I wanted to give the post a bit more time than I normally would and naturally I haven’t had much time.

In this world that we live in today we have access to more information than ever, but the amount of time we have to pay attention to this information is much the same. The amount of new information being generated constantly is vast, so vast that it is hard to comprehend. Each of us individually will be interested in only a very small subset of this information.

So how do we find the islands of information that we want in that vast ocean of data that exists out there. If we were to travel around by ourselves we could seek it out and more than likely we would find some of what we were interested in. But with all that information out there that we could be paying attention to, why should we have to be spend time searching around for it. Surely if we were to explain everything that we were interested in, things we liked, places we worked, where we lived and who are friends were, if we were to explain all that information and more then something else could do all the hard work for us and bring that information to us. When it delivered that information to us, we could tell it if we were interested in it or not and over time it would learn what we liked and what weren’t interested in.

Particls attempts to deliver us data of personal relevance when and how we want it. Particls attention engine delivers the latest information through included ‘adapters’ such as tickers and pop-ups. As we go about our daily activities Particls constantly alerts us about incoming information of potential interest and we are given the opportunity to provide feedback on its relevance to us.

Particls Screenshot

As a software developer I spend most of my time each day on the computer and I made a decision to run the ticker for a few days while I worked. While I appreciate this might be of use to some people, I found the ticker too much of an interruption and ended up turning it off, although I still find the popups for important info to be useful. One thing I do like to keep up to date with is the latest in the tech industry and currently I find Techmeme to be the best way to get breaking news of interest. Maybe its my familiarity with the newspaper style, but Techmeme’s format just works for me. If I could get a Techmeme style website based on things that are personally relevant to me now that would be cool.

In summary I think this is an extraordinary area for innovation and while Particls core engine looks great I can’t help but think the way information is delivered to the user could be better. Particls allows developers to create their own ways of displaying data and if I wasn’t so busy (read: lazy) I would have a shot at it, but I look forward to seeing what others can do and where Particls goes with this.

Skitch: Another Reason To Get A Mac?

June 21, 2007

Skitch Logo

Skitch the new image editing/sharing tool from Plasq got a write up on TechCrunch today. Plasq is founded by Aussie CEO Cris Pearson who is based in Melbourne, they previously developed ComicLife which is a popular photo-comic-app for Mac.

Unfortunately Skitch is for Mac only so I couldn’t try it out. The video looks great and if it’s anything to go by this little app is another to add to the growing list of why I want a Mac.

Check out the video below and if you have a Mac and are interested you can sign up for the beta here.

Vibe Capital Launches Refurber

June 14, 2007

Refurber Logo

Vibe Capital, the company behind the parenting advice site Minti which we covered earlier has announced the public launch of their latest vertical advice site Refurber.

Refurber is described as “a social and reference website for anyone passionate about renovations, DIY, landscaping, design and anything related to home improvement. Members can share and gain valuable advice on a wide range of home improvement related topics.”

Overall the site is well designed and offers everything one would expect of a modern day vertical community site. I am surprised however that Vibe have not decided to leverage their existing vertical-community Minti. For example why should I have to register again with Refurber? A single login would seem a logical starting point for attracting existing users from Minti and a valuable asset later in integrating/centralising some of the services that are shared across communities.

Refurber Screenshot

It seems that Vibe have taken an old web – ‘walled garden’ approach and although this may work in the near term, eventually many users may tire of managing half a dozen profiles when open platforms like Facebook can offer them a broader more centralised service.

There is no doubt that vertical communities are an attractive proposition for advertising. Advertisements can be targeted for users much more effectively than in a broader social network and therefore can provide a higher return per user. The trade-off however is that creating new communities isn’t a particularly easy thing to do and the team at Vibe Capital will have their work cut out for them as they attempt to replicate the success of Minti.

Remember The Milk Goes Offline With Google Gears

June 6, 2007

Remember The Milk

Remember The Milk a task management web application this week became one of the first sites to offer offline access using the newly released Google Gears.

Google Gears was released last week at Google Developer Day as a browser plugin that enables web application to be used offline. After attending the conference the Sydney-based Remember the Milk engaged in a self described ‘caffeine-fueled’ weekend adding Google Gears offline functionality to their site.

Google Gears

I tried out the new offline functionality and like the rest of the website it is well implemented and designed. Sychronising data when connecting back online was both painless and flawless. Congratulations to the developers for getting this up so fast.

Remember The Milk was also a finalist in Googles Mashup Contest which we covered earlier.

PropertyGuru Wins Google Maps ‘Mashup’ Contest

June 4, 2007

PropertyGuru Logo
A quick mention for PropertyGuru who recently won the Google Maps ‘Mashup’ contest at Google’s Australian Developer Day as voted for by those who attended. A Google Maps ‘Mashup’ is a website or application that uses the Google Maps API and other data to present information on Google Maps.

PropertyGuru alows home buyers to locate potential properties by moving an interactive Google map to any area in Australia, bringing up pins for properties that meet their budget and requirements.

Property Guru Screenshot

PropertyGuru appears to be pulling its data from Domain. Overall the site is clean, well designed and fast and for my eyes beats Domain hands down in all three areas. One would expect them to start aggregating listings from other property listing sites and inevitably one would expect sites like this to begin challenging the ‘big media’ sites that currently control Australia’s online property listings.

I am not sure how long it took to put this site together, but together with all the reports I am hearing on how easy these Google Maps mashups are I am inspired to give it a go. If events like this from Google can encourage developers to get involved then surely they have achieved their objective.


Lachlan one of the creators of the site contacted us and had this to add:

“The site was developed as a side project for around 3-4 months from concept to production. The amount of time spent developing was quite small and you’re correct in saying that the google API’s made making the site very easy, and fun.” 

Also, apologies to PropertyGuru for incorrectly linking to their site, I will try and better proof read my posts (or not post so late).

Powered By Atlassian Confluence

June 4, 2007

Atlassian Logo

As part of my current role, I am integrating several products with SAP Business One and have been utilising the great resources that are SDN (SAP Developer Network). Today as I was looking through the SDN Wiki and while waiting for a page to load the usual SAP logo flickered over to the Atlassian logo for a few seconds.

I suppose it should come as no surprise that SAP would use Atlassian Confluence as its Wiki given Atlassian’s impressive list of customers, nevertheless I was pleasantly surprised.

It may be debatable whether the five year old Atlassian is still a Startup. We will give them the benefit of the doubt seeing as their stationery cupboards are still open, but Startup or not they stand as an inspiration for countless young Australian tech companies and entrepreneurs and for that they deserve a mention.

Netweaver Logo
Maybe SAP should change their SDN logo to ‘Powered by Atlassian Confluence’.

Pandora Blocks Australian Users: Update

May 31, 2007

Pandora Logo
In an update to an earlier post regarding Pandora blocking Australian users. Personalised Internet-Radio provider Pandora has opened up user profiles due to high demand so thats users can access saved information such as ‘Thumbed-up Songs’. Music streaming remains blocked.

In related news that could spell further problems for Non-US internet radio listeners the UK based was acquired by CBS the US television network this week. previously evaded the US laws that forced Pandora to shut out Non-US users because it was based outside the US, lets hope the acquisition doesn’t jeopardise this.

Just ‘MyLiveSearch’ It!

May 29, 2007

MyLiveSearch Logo
A lot of hype around today surrounding Rob Gabriel’s Melbourne based search startup MyLiveSearch. In a recent interview Gabriel claimed that the search engine would return better, more relevant results than Google. A statement which is sure to stir up some attention.

On their website MyLiveSearch claims to be the ‘first, true real-time search engine to appear on the www’. Details on what exactly they mean by this are scarce but Technorati is probably the closest thing we have at the moment to a real-time search engine. Truth be told MyLiveSearch doesnt need to be better than Google, in a recent article Don Dodge of Microsoft conculdes that 1% of the search market is worth over 1 billion dollars.

MyLiveSearch is due to launch in June and we will reserve judgement until then, but ‘Just MyLiveSearch It!’ doesnt quite have the same ring to it as ‘Just Google It!’, what do you think?

For further coverage on MyLiveSearch see:

MyLiveSearch aims for Beta to Better – Sydney Morning Herald
Look Out Google Here Come the Aussies – TechCrunch