Versioning Your Personal Environment

I’m a huge fan of source control systems when doing development. My motto is that you should be able to get up and running with something just by downloading it from your source control. Zero Friction Environment.

However, I’ve recently started to use source control for non-development files. The top of this list is my home directory on the mac. No, not everything. Just the plain text files that you can spend years crafting, only to forget about them on the next OS install. I’ve started to keep track of all of my . files as well as my ~/bin directory.

Besides filling in as a suitable backup for these files, it also makes working with two machines a little more bearable. I have a laptop and desktop that I regularly work on. By versioning my home dir, I can now jump back and forth more easily.

BTW, I didn’t come up with this concept. A cursory search of BitBucket will bring back hundreds of users doing the same.

Best of Both Worlds

Whenever I hear someone talk about having the ‘Best of Both Worlds’, I’m immediately skeptical. If two products ( or processes, etc.. ) could be combined and the best of both reused, they wouldn’t be two products. They would be combined into a single product and marketed as such. If you think you can combine two products, only pulling the good stuff and none of the constraints, you either a ) don’t know enough about both products or b ) don’t know enough about what you’re trying to accomplish.

AB Testing Resources & Chicago Startups

Last week, I gave a talk to the Chicago Lean Startup Group about getting started with Landing Page AB Testing. I skipped right over a powerpoint presentation. Instead, I went through a ton of web sites and examples of how to get started, even if you’re missing some critical skills.

Here’s the list of products & service that we went through for AB Testing:

Quirky – Company that creates products by crowd sourcing design and implementation.

Design Help

  • CrowdSpring – Spec out design work and get back crowd sourced solutions.
  • Sortfolio – Designer site from 37Signals.
  • Theme Forrest – Free / Low cost psd templates.

Design -> Implementation

  • ShopHTML – Convert any PSD to HTML Cheaper than PSD2HTML, but less of a straight forward process. Make sure to read the FAQ with regards to delivery time. Also, be very specific about how you’d like the finished product to look.
  • PSD2HTML – Convert PSDs to HTML. Costly, but good rep.

Ad Networks

Ad Optimization

  • PPC Hero – Get some tips on working with your Ads

More Info on AB Testing

Measure & Optimize

Landing page & Closed Loop Marketing

User Experience Testing

Internal AB Testing for App Features

We also had a great presentation from Jake Lumetta about his new startup, WinkVid. He was kind enough to post notes about the process they’re currently going through with regards to Customer Development.

Sean Corbett also talked about ScaleWell and the good work they’re doing to help out small startups. Zishan Ahmad gave us a little introduction to the Tech Scene movement that he’s heading up, paying special attention to Chicago, of course.

The response was fantastic and from what I understand everyone had a great time. If you’d like to come next month, make sure to join the meetup group. After the meetup, we always go to the bar to grab some drinks and trade stories, so it’s always a good time.

Ontology Primer Semantic Web Meetup

The Chicago Semantic Web Meetup will be meeting on Jan 26th. We’ll be having a primer on Ontologies for Programmers given by Erik Cameron.

Here’s the description:

Ontologies form a critical piece of Semantic Web technology, enabling
modes of knowledge representation and automated reasoning otherwise
unavailable. The notion of ontology, however, is notoriously
slippery. What is it exactly? Whence the term?

The term derives from the philosophical practice of analyzing and
classifying the categories of existing things. Semantic Web
ontologies are informed by this philosophical work, and in many cases
are direct realizations of it. Our talk will begin with a light
primer on philosophical ontology, with an eye towards putting
ontologies and their related languages into proper context. From
there, we will look at some ontologies used in philosophy of science,
their relation to first-order logic, and a bit of formal semantics.
(Along the way, we will insinuate that computer programming and
analytic philosophy are not quite so different as they may seem.)
Hopefully, the resulting snapshot of philosophical ontology will be of
use and pleasure to anyone concerned with Semantic Web technologies.

If you’re interested in coming, please RSVP by the 25th. I’ll need to send a list of names to security.