Elusiva, Virtualization, Google Base, LittleShoot Updates

April 10, 2007

Yes, I’m still alive. Barely. Actually, that’s not true. I’m alive and well, but I’ve been buried chin deep in LittleShoot code for the last several months and have been severely neglecting my blog.

First, I want to encourage everyone to check out my good buddy Igor Shmukler’s launch of his office virtualization company, Elusiva. Igor is of the breed of Russian-born programmers I’m sure many of you have encountered who have truly intimidating systems (as in operating systems) knowledge. Igor was soldering circuit boards and hacking Windows drivers at the age of 11 in Russia while I was trading baseball cards in Gill, MA. By the way, anyone want 50 Roger Clemens Topps rookies? Hmnn…maybe not. Seriously, though, Igor knows his stuff. If you have a need for office virtualization tools, I’d highly recommend checking it out.

In other news, LittleShoot hacking continues behind the scenes. The endless details have kept us from launching just yet, but we’re as excited as ever. For any open source folks out there, there are some really exciting modules to either use or contribute to. The multi-source downloading code, for example, is completely reusable as a separate jar, as it just about every other part of LittleShoot. If you feel like hacking on Ajax, the Hibernate database layer, or the SIP, TURN, ICE, or STUN implementations, they’re all carefully parceled out for your coding pleasure. They’re just not released quite yet.

LittleShoot has taken many twists and turns. Back in September I was ecstatic to start playing with Google Base, essentially offloading all of our searching and file publishing to Google instead of our servers. I love many of the concepts behind Google Base, like the embracing of open standards such as the Atom Publishing Protocol (APP), Amazon’s OpenSearch, and the simple REST API. In practice, though, Google Base was a disaster for us. The performance was just too inconsistent, and the documentation is contradictory. In some places they say updates to your data are instantly searchable from within your private account while in elsewhere they claim it can take up to 24 hours. In practice, they’re usually instantly searchable, but can take up to 24 hours every once in awhile. Good luck getting a straight answer from the Google Base folks. If you’re considering Google Base for anything that’s mission-critical other than creating a new venue for advertising your eBay sale items, proceed with caution!

We decided Google Base didn’t perform well enough for future LittleShoot users, and I implemented a centralized searching solution using Hibernate, MySQL, etc. I also hired Leo Kim to set up our server cluster over at Cari.net, and he did a great job implementing a scalable architecture that will keep LittleShoot humming along as the user base grows. Leo actually just got hired by my good old buddies over at LimeWire. I couldn’t quite match their salary offer just yet (ahh, like not even close). Someday, Mark, someday!

Let’s see, what else? Oh, I feel extremely fortunate to have retained Wendy Seltzer as our legal counsel, particularly for making sure LittleShoot adheres to the DMCA. Wendy is just awesome. She’s so passionate. She’s also going one on one with the NFL, and she’s winning. Check it out. What a great example of what you can do with a little knowledge. Its one thing to have someone who knows the law, but it’s something completely different to work with someone who is also truly passionate about the future of free speech and digital media.

Oh, one last thing. Bloomberg news recently published a feature on Mark Gorton, my former boss at LimeWire and a friend. Beyond coming up the idea for LimeWire and forming our original team, Mark is also passionate about making New York more bicycle friendly and about bringing free, open source software to non-profits and governments that often don’t have the knowledge or resources to take advantage of technology. Mark’s an amazing example of how you can live the life you want if you just give it a little effort.

That’s it for now. I’ll write more often as the LittleShoot launch draws near.