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Sifry's Alerts - David Sifry

Sifry's Alerts

Last Build Date: Wed, 04 May 2016 18:18:01 +0000


Something I want - take a picture of a sketch, get a barebones webpage

Mon, 26 Aug 2013 15:55:48 +0000

OK, so this just hit me as I was prototyping my latest thing - what I really want is a magic app that allows me to take a crappy paper sketch, say something like sketch-o-crapola: (image)

Then you hit "MAGIC BUTTON!" and the spinner spins for a while, and in your inbox you get a basic html+css template with your sketch already implemented, say with a basic grid, buttons, and text areas, all pre-rendered and put into a reasonably usable format. Of course, with just a tiny bit of tweaking, it looks like this:


Why oh why does this not exist? I can see how you could create something that would take these images and a couple of additional parameters, like, say, color palette, grid type that you want (or preexisting template format), and then send it off to some designers to bid upon and build for you, a la Mechanical Turk, ODesk, or eLance. With some OCR intelligence, you could probably even get part of the way there in a fully automated fashion.

With all the advances in HTML/CSS/JS technologies and frameworks out there, how come there's nothing out there to even turn , say, Balsamiq Mockups directly into basic gridded HTML?

(image) Hmmmm.

Update:Just found Napkee which purports to do this for Balsamiq mockups...

Meet the new blog...

Wed, 21 Aug 2013 01:26:53 +0000

Same as the old blog! Well, not quite the same - things were getting kind of ratty over in the world of Sifry's Alerts, so I updated and upgraded a bunch of components - namely updating the blog to the latest version of Wordpress (3.6 as of this writing), got a new bootstrap-based responsive site template called "builder" from Themeforest, and set about making things a lot prettier and simpler. I've taken a bit of inspiration from Ev and the folks over at Medium - they've really done a great job at making a clean, well-organized, simple composition interface that is as close to WYSIWYG as I've found so far on the web.

However, I still like to have my own piece of web real estate, with a domain and infrastructure that I own and manage (well, even if the server is hosted on an EC2 instance!) It makes me feel like a digital homesteader, even if it means that sometimes it appears that I'm just looking out of an old log cabin at all you young kids on all the fancy hosted social networks/blogging services, yelling "Get off my lawn"!

allowfullscreen src="//" width="560" frameborder="0" height="315">

I really do  like you on my lawn. Welcome, pull up a lawn chair and hang out a while. Maybe we'll have a good conversation or two.

Union Street San Francisco...

Thu, 14 Apr 2011 16:57:38 +0000


... meets Tuscany. The light was beautiful today as I walked down Union Street on my way to lunch with my old friend John Clippinger from Harvard. We had a very mind-bending lunch, John is working on some really interesting identity-related systematic ans software that have very far-reaching implications.  Still digesting - not the meal, but the chat!

Battery factory

Tue, 21 Dec 2010 15:37:32 +0000

Playing with Vignette for Android. Thanks to @kevinmarks for the recommendation - you can get it on the Android market.


Dog bowls in orbit

Tue, 16 Nov 2010 19:40:12 +0000


Just loved this. Found art.

Dog shepherds at Fort Funston

Tue, 16 Nov 2010 14:29:59 +0000


A great place for a walk near san francisco is fort funston - And it turns out good it's also one of the few places in the city were you can take a dog off leash throughout the park. It's a dog walkers/lovers paradise! 

Hit 150k!

Sat, 06 Nov 2010 09:36:33 +0000


Woo Hoo, just hit 150,000 miles in my trusty 1995 Toyota 4Runner. Still a great vehicle, still fun to drive. The only significant repairs I've had to do on it was a blown gasket about 30,000 miles ago. She's an old friend.

Friendshot? Mobile Kodak moment? MeAnd? What to call this?

Fri, 23 Apr 2010 11:33:06 +0000


Me, Katja, and Kim


Me and Pito


Me and Brynn


You know that shot: you're out with friends, and you pull out your cameraphone, and, while holding it at arms-length, snap a picture of you and your friends.

So, what do we call that? It isn't a self-portrait - but you're in the shot - it also has your friends in there too.

Thoughts? Ideas? Leave a comment below, or send suggestions to @dsifry...

Testing the blog-from-posterous support

Sun, 04 Apr 2010 22:00:17 +0000

Enjoyed watching the final four this weekend. Baylor was inspiring, but boy do they have their work cut out for them, Duke looks like a steamroller. And go Stanford women! Looking forward to seeing them give UConn a run for the money.

Posted via email from sifrysalerts's posterous

Long time, no see

Sun, 04 Apr 2010 20:51:44 +0000

It's been a while since I've posted to this blog, but I think it istime for that to change.

Great Kids Afternoon Project: Claymation!

Sun, 19 Apr 2009 23:47:58 +0000

I had a great Sunday afternoon with my kids today. We combined three of my favorite activities together to do something unique, fun, and easy-to-do - we used digital cameras, some play-doh, and some pretty simple software to make claymation animations. Here's my daughter's first claymation: The kids spent about two hours completely absorbed doing the project, and they absolutely loved the results when they were done. I was surprised at how easy it was to make something that looked reasonably competent, and how quickly the kids caught on to the technique, and started to master new ones, even while still making their first movie. What You Need: A compact digital camera, capable of 640x480 (VGA) resolution ( I used a Canon SD850IS, which is overkill, almost any compact will do) Some play-doh, or other soft clay A tripod or mini-tripod (I used a Manfrotto 709) A mat of some kind (I used 4 sheets of white printer paper taped together, and taped to the table) Some software that does stop-motion animation (I used Quicktime Pro, $29.99 for the Mac or for the PC) First the kids taped four pieces of paper together to make a mat so that the clay wouldn't stick to the dining room table. We taped those down at their workspaces, so that they could be comfortable, and set up the tripod and camera pointing at the mat. Next, set up the workspace in a place that isn't directly lit by the sun - it should be evenly lit and relatively low contrast, I'll explain more later. I zoomed the camera a bit so that the mat filled the frame, but you can do whatever you like with focus and zoom, it makes for interesting effects - for example, we kept the camera zoomed out for my son's claymation, and that led to an interesting clay+reality mixture: Make sure that the camera is locked securely to the tripod, and that the tripod will stay in place as well. Next, you need to make some changes to the camera settings. First off, you don't need all those megapixels - in fact, you should set the resolution of your camera to its lowest or nearly lowest setting - 640x480 is usually more than enough. Using higher resolutions will actually be a hinderance to you, and won't give you much additional benefit. Of course, if you want to do claymation in HD, you can increase your resolution to something like 1920x1080 if your camera supports that. If you want to improve things a bit, turn the JPG compression to fine or super-fine, which will retain a bit more detail. This is one of those times when you definitely want your camera to be storing in JPGs, the smaller the better! You'll also want to turn the automatic flash off, as it'll just ruin your exposure. If you can turn off autofocus, that's even better, but my experience is that it doesn't make much of a difference. You'll want to turn off the auto--shutdown feature of your camera as well, as you don't want the camera turning itself off and on between frames. I put the camera into its manual mode, and also try to compensate the exposure for the whiteness of the mat - generally that means overexposing the built-in meter by about 1 f-stop. If your camera produces a histogram, you can watch the histogram to make sure that it is a smooth bell curve right in the middle of the histogram. With your camera on the tripod, turned on and set, and your workspace set up, you're ready to do your animation! The trick is that you're going to take a photograph of your scene, then move the clay a small amount, and then take the next photo in sequence. When you stitch all of these photos together at 15 or 30 frames per second, it looks just like one of those flipbooks you probably had when you were a kid. It relies on the phenomenon of persistence of vision, which is how all movies work. Now go have fun. I found that it took about 10[...]

This moved me today

Wed, 31 Dec 2008 09:10:48 +0000

Maybe it is just thinking about the end of the year and the beginning of a new year, but this moved me:

Birth, sickness, death, falling in love, watching TV, raising families, mowing the lawn, going to the movies, taking your nephew to a ball game, drinking beer, hanging out with your buddies, playing frisbee, painting the house. No matter where your adventure takes you, most of what is truly meaningful is still to be found revolving around the mundane stuff you did before you embarked on your adventure. The stuff that'll be going long after you and I are both dead, long after our contribution to the world is forgotten. But often, one needs to have that big adventure before really understanding this. Going full circle. Exactly.

That's from How to be creative, From Hugh MacLeod's blog. Worth a read or a reread, especially at this time of year. Happy new year, everyone! I'm going to remember to be grateful today, and count my blessings.

Offbeat Guides Public Beta!

Mon, 03 Nov 2008 00:38:40 +0000

I'm proud to announce the launch of Offbeat Guides first product in public beta! What's Offbeat Guides? Our first product is quite simple: On-demand, Personalized Travel Books. Travel books that are tuned just for you, only about the place that you're going, with local information like festivals, events, and concerts that are going on during the dates of your stay. We put in local maps that are tuned to where you'll be, and we even customize the guide based on what we learn about you, like the timezone differences from your hometown, electrical plug differences, embassies and consulates nearby, differences in tipping policies, exchange rates, local weather forecasts, and much more. We provide guides for over 30,000 city destinations around the world - of course we cover New York, Paris, Rome, and Tokyo, but we also have guides to Newark, Paradise, Romeoville, and Tokorozawa, and many more places. We're trying to solve the problem that most of us have when we travel - you want to know where to go, what to do when you're there, and what's going on while you're there. We're a company run by obsessive technologists who happen to travel a LOT. We don't come out of the travel industry. We're travelers, just like you. We value your time, so we focused on simplicity. To get started, we only ask you 5 questions: Where are you going: We currently cover over 30,000 city destinations When will you be there: So we can include information about local festivals, events, club meetings, sports teams, concerts, and other timely information Where are you coming from: With this information, we give you contextal information, like timezone differences, embassies and consulates for your home country, language guides, exchange rates, electrical adapters needed, and more. Where are you staying: So we can localize the maps that go into your guide, and put your hotel right at the center of things. The Traveler's Name: Well, we need to know who you are, so we can put your name right on the book cover! Makes for great gifts, too. From that, we show you a live preview of your guide, with sights, attractions, restaurants, and hotels - but we also pull in all the local and contextual information we can find, tuning your guide just for you, your preferences, and your trip details. We also brought on a top-notch team of travel experts, who have gone through the top 1000 city destinations in the world, called the museums, checked on the hotel information, and chatted with the restaurateurs. We built an travel search engine to help us to locate the most interesting information about the other 29,000 destinations, using both freely available information as well as licensed information from partners like Wikitravel, Wikipedia, Flickr, Eventful, Upcoming, Meetup, the World Factbook, and many other local sources. As we continue to build out the site, we'll be adding in many more validated sources as well as incorporating feedback from travelers and locals into the future guides. Can I customize it? Of course. You get full control over your guide - so if you already know where you're staying, you can click to deselect all of the information about hotels, for example. You can add customized chapters and fill them with information that you gather from your friends, or from around the internet. And when you're done, you can get your guide in multiple formats: As a beautifully printed full-color book, shipped to your door (or your hotel!) right before you leave on your trip so it has the freshest information in it, As a PDF suitable for printing on your home printer, or downloading onto your mobile phone or reading device, or On the web so you can read through the book on-line, and u[...]

I'll be on KQED's Forum with Michael Krasny at 9am on 10/9

Thu, 09 Oct 2008 01:15:23 +0000

It's a bit late notice, but I just found out myself - I'll be on Forum with Michael Krasny this morning at 9am PT. I'll be on with Carl Guardino, president and CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and my old friend Sarah Lacy, columnist for Business Week, co-host of Yahoo! Finance's "TechTicker" and author of "Once You're Lucky, Twice You're Good: The Rebirth of Silicon Valley and the Rise of Web 2.0". We're going to be discussing the effects of the Financial Crisis on Silicon Valley.I'm a fan of Michael Krasny - I often listen to the 2-hour long "Forum" show, and I've always found him to be articulate, intelligent, and very well educated on the subjects he covers, making great conversation with his guests - so I'm really looking forward to meeting him in person down at the KQED studios. I'll try to get some photos. It should be an interesting discussion - especially with the market gyrations in the last 2 weeks, the all-but-closure of the IPO market, and now the tech M&A market, it sure looks like we're in for a cold winter. But I think there's still room for optimism - busts are the perfect time for large companies with cash on their balance sheets to ride things out and gain market share, and also for small agile companies to develop and disrupt industries. I call this the "barbell theory" - where companies at the large and very small end of the scale will do quite well - but the ones in the middle get slaughtered. It's a time when great talent gets easier to find, rents drop, and it's easier to be heard above the din. But I've got a lot of concern for speculative businesses out there that haven't found a way to get big and build brand and revenue yet (or even a business model!) and are large enough that they're burning through cash. I fear that many Valley and "Web 2.0" businesses in the middle of the barbell are going to have a very difficult time in the coming downturn, especially those that are solely advertising based. There's still an enormous opportunity to create value and build very successful businesses, even in a crisis and downturn like the one we're going through - I think it is incumbent on forward-thinking entrepreneurs and investors to think creatively about how they: a) Help businesses save money, b) Increase efficiency or disintermediation reducing friction, c) Reduce their own costs, and d) Diversify their revenue streams I plan on talking more about that during the show - and I'll blog about it afterwards. I'm looking forward to the discussion! I sure hope I'm wrong - Here's hoping for a market upswing!

Offbeat Guides Sneak Peek and Beta Update

Wed, 01 Oct 2008 23:06:30 +0000

We've been hard at work on the private beta of Offbeat Guides, and I thought it would be a good time to give y'all an update on our progress!We've been making huge strides both in making the site simpler and easier to use, as well as cranking away on the hard tasks of building out a deep semantic search service that dynamically builds guides for over 30,000 different city destinations around the world. We've taken a lot of what I've learned building comprehensive real-time search engines at Technorati, and also what Marina and her team have learned in building and curating a narrative experience when she was with Lonely Planet. We want to give you more than just the facts - to also get you a flavor and some the romance of the place and of your trip. We've expanded the partners we're working with to include even more local photographs, festivals, tickets, and events, and we've put in a lot of heuristic technology to help to make sure we weed out as much irrelevant information as possible. If you want to work with us, drop us a line. Algorithms can't provide everything though, especially for the top travel destinations of the world - humans mean a lot too. We've got a team of people who have been digging deep into the top 1000 city destinations of the world - calling the shops, restaurants, hotels, fact-checking, and pulling out the cruft, while focusing on bringing you the most interesting offbeat local perspectives, and we also take advantage of all of the great Creative Commons-licensed and Public Domain information thats out there on the internet to help to create a satisfying experience for anyone who is traveling. We're also looking to get feedback from locals and travelers so the guides stay current and completely up-to-date, too! There's still a lot to do, but I thought I'd put up a screencast (it runs a total of about 13 minutes) that takes you through the main features of the site - a sneak peek of what our private beta testers have been playing with. We're actively adding more people to the beta, on a first-come, first served basis - so if you want to get involved in testing out our beta, helping us to identify and fix bugs, and get two printed guides shipped free-of-charge to you as part of the private beta, make sure to sign up at the site. This offer won't last forever! :-) Technorati Tags: offbeatguides, travel, travelguide, travelguides, book, guide, vacation, webservice, beta, privatebeta, sneakpeek [...]

State of the Blogosphere 2008 Wrap-up: Brands and the Blogosphere

Fri, 26 Sep 2008 00:44:30 +0000

To wrap up a long data-filled week, we've rolled out part 5 of the State of the Blogosphere report, which is all about how traditional brands are perceived and how bloggers interact with brands in the blogopshere. This data is taken from the large survey done on Technorati bloggers earlier this year, as described in our methodology. Here's a few of the interesting things we learned:

  • More than four in five bloggers post product or brand reviews, and blog about brands they love or hate.
  • One-third of bloggers surveyed have been approached to be brand advocates.
  • Of those, more than six in ten were offered payments of some kind.
  • One in five bloggers don't think that newspapers will survive the next ten years.
  • Half of bloggers surveyed believe that blogs will be a primary source for news and entertainment in the next five years.
  • 37% of bloggers surveyed have been quoted in traditional media based on a blog post.
  • Bloggers are most open to receiving marketing messages from other blogs. Even non-blog web content is more influential among this group than traditional media sources for brand information.
  • Bloggers spend twice as much time online as U.S. adults 18-49, and spend only one-third as much time watching television.

Read the whole section, including charts and graphs. Read the entire 5-part report.

Technorati State of the Blogosphere Parts 3 and 4: How, and How Much?

Thu, 25 Sep 2008 17:40:33 +0000

Technorati continues to release our 2008 State of the Blogosphere report. Here's some highlights from the last two days of posts, on how most bloggers blog, and on blogging for profit (an eye-opening read).

  • One in four bloggers spends ten hours or more blogging each week.
  • Over half of the Technorati top authority bloggers post five or more times per day, and they are twice as likely to tag their blog posts compared to other bloggers.
  • From their use of RSS feeds, video, photos, and mobile updates, top bloggers are also tremendously sophisticated in leveraging the available tools to make their blogs more robust.
  • The Technorati Top 100 blogs had more than twice as many postings in June 2008 as the next 500, and more than 12 times as many postings as the next 5000.
  • The Technorati Top 100 are prolific, with 43% posting ten times per day or more often. Only 8% post once a day or less frequently, compared to 13% of the next 500 bloggers, and 22% of the next 5000 bloggers.
  • Among bloggers who have advertising on their blogs, two in three have contextual ads (such as Google AdSense). One-third of bloggers have affiliate advertising on their blog. One in five negotiate directly with advertisers and one in ten sell advertising through a blog ad network.
  • The average annual blogger revenue is more than $6,000. However, this is skewed by the top 1% of bloggers who earn $200k+.
  • Among active bloggers that we surveyed, the average income was $75,000 for those who had 100,000 or more unique visitors per month (some of whom had more than one million visitors each month). The median annual income for this group is significantly lower — $22,000.
  • Bloggers with advertising invest an average of $1,800 annually in their blogs. U.S. bloggers earn an average of $5,000, though bloggers in Asia earn 50% more on average and European bloggers earn an average of 75% more than U.S. bloggers.
  • High revenue bloggers skew the mean revenue. The median revenue for U.S. bloggers is $200 annually (and the median annual investment is only $50).
  • The top 10 percent of blogger respondents earned an average of $19,000 annually.
  • Three-quarters of these successful bloggers are male, and four in ten are self employed (twice as high as the average blogger).

Get all the details, including graphs and charts.

State of the Blogosphere 2008 Part 2: The What and Why of Blogging

Wed, 24 Sep 2008 00:44:23 +0000

Today Technorati released the second part of our State of the Blogosphere report, and today's topics focus on what bloggers blog about, and why they blog. Technorati surveyed over 1000 bloggers who use the service, and came away with some very interesting statistically significant information:Some highlights:

  • Both personal and professional topics are equally popular, with most bloggers covering multiple topics
  • Half of bloggers consider their style to be sincere, conversational, humorous, and expert in nature.
  • Although there is a perception of blogging as a means for writing a tell-all or gossiping, those blogging styles fell to the bottom of the list among the bloggers surveyed
  • Music is more popular and politics is less popular in Asia, while personal, lifestyle, and religious topics are less popular in Europe.
  • International bloggers tend to be less conversational and snarky.
  • Asian bloggers tend to be more motivational and confessional, while European bloggers are more confrontational.
  • Women tend to be more conversational in their blogging style, while men tend to be expert.
  • Those under 34 are more confessional in their blogging style, while those over 35 are more expert in their style.
  • When asked why they blog, the majority of personal bloggers do it for fun.
  • Twenty percent are currently making some money blogging, and another 42% hope to make money on their blog in the future.

There's lots more in the report, along with some very interesting charts and graphs showing more detailed analysis of what bloggers feel, and how they are motivated. If you missed it, you can check out the first part of the report, which gives more of an overview.

Technorati's State of the Blogosphere, September 2008

Mon, 22 Sep 2008 11:31:06 +0000

I'm very pleased to announce that the next installment of the State of the Blogosphere is out! It has been about a year since the last report, and the Technorati team has really worked hard to make this report something comprehensive, interesting, and informative.One of the big changes this year is that along with a comprehensive scan of Technorati's complete database, we also did a massive survey of bloggers who have registered with Technorati - a detailed survey with dozens of detailed questions about themselves, how they blog, and more. Altogether over 1,290 completed surveys came in from over 60 countries, with over 1,000 respondents (83%) providing their URLs and email addresses for follow-up. More information about the survey methodology is here. The report is so big, in fact, that we're releasing it in 5 parts: Day 1: Who Are the Bloggers? Day 2: The What And Why of Blogging Day 3: The How of Blogging Day 4: Blogging For Profit Day 5: Brands Enter The Blogosphere Enough of the preamble! Here's some juicy nuggets: Technorati is currently tracking 133 million blogs (we've done a LOT of culling spam blogs, and the number of bloggers keeps growing!) 7.4 Million blogs have posted in the last 120 days - that's 5.5% of all blogs we track. 1.5 Million blogs have posted at least once in the last 7 days. There are now, on average, 900,000 blog posts tracked every 24 hours. That means that Technorati's tracking 37,500 new blog posts per hour, or 10.4 new blog posts per second! Here's some more highlights from the survey of Technorati bloggers: The majority of bloggers we surveyed currently have advertising on their blogs. Among those with advertising, the mean annual investment in their blog is $1,800, but it’s paying off. The mean annual revenue is $6,000 with $75K+ in revenue for those with 100,000 or more unique visitors per month. Median investment and revenue (which is listed in the full report) is significantly lower, around $100-$200 per year. There's so much rich data in there, lots offered for study. I don't think anyone has ever done as detailed a study of bloggers with as many participants, which means that you can slice and dice the data in a number of ways and still have enough respondents to have statistical significance. For example, blog networks serve nearly women bloggers at more than double the rate they serve male bloggers (16% of women who have advertising use a network, while only 7% of men who have advertising use a network). There's more to come, but go have a look at the initial report, hot and fresh at the Technorati site. If you want to see the older reports to compare, I've got them archived as well. Kudos to the Technorati team for working so hard and getting this out. I'm really looking forward to the conversations it generates. Technorati Tags: report, sotb, technorati, blogosphere, stateoftheblogosphere, blogging [...]