The Slack origin story

Let’s rewind a decade. It’s 2009. Vancouver, Canada.

Stewart Butterfield, known already for his part in building Flickr, a photo-sharing service acquired by Yahoo in 2005, decided to try his hand — again — at building a game. Flickr had been a failed attempt at a game called Game Neverending followed by a big pivot. This time, Butterfield would make it work.

To make his dreams a reality, he joined forces with Flickr’s original chief software architect Cal Henderson, as well as former Flickr employees Eric Costello and Serguei Mourachov, who like himself, had served some time at Yahoo after the acquisition. Together, they would build Tiny Speck, the company behind an artful, non-combat massively multiplayer online game.

Years later, Butterfield would pull off a pivot more massive than his last. Slack, born from the ashes of his fantastical game, would lead a shift toward online productivity tools that fundamentally change the way people work.

Glitch is born

In mid-2009, former TechCrunch reporter-turned-venture-capitalist M.G. Siegler wrote one of the first stories on Butterfield’s mysterious startup plans.

“So what is Tiny Speck all about?” Siegler wrote. “That is still not entirely clear. The word on the street has been that it’s some kind of new social gaming endeavor, but all they’ll say on the site is ‘we are working on something huge and fun and we need help.’”

Siegler would go on to invest in Slack as a general partner at GV, the venture capital arm of Alphabet .

“Clearly this is a creative project,” Siegler added. “It almost sounds like they’re making an animated movie. As awesome as that would be, with people like Henderson on board, you can bet there’s impressive engineering going on to turn this all into a game of some sort (if that is in fact what this is all about).”

After months of speculation, Tiny Speck unveiled its project: Glitch, an online game set inside the brains of 11 giants. It would be free with in-game purchases available and eventually, a paid subscription for power users.


6 Gmail Lab Features you should try

So I’m going though my Settings in my Gmail account and I notice a tab called “Labs”.  Interesting I think to myself and click on it and it seems the Gmail Gnomes have been slaving away at the nifty little options in their experimental features for Gmail.  Here are 6 Gmail Lab Features you should try:

YouTube previews in mail
Ever get a YouTube video in your email from a friend that asks you to  “Hey man, check this out!”?  Well now if you turn on this Gmail lab feature the link will expand inside the Gmail page.  You won’t have to navigate away from your message and have to wait for Gmail to reload your Inbox, its all right there in your message.

Flickr previews in mail
Just like the YouTube video in your message if you have photophiles that are always sending you their newest photos in their favorite Photo Streams then this is for you.  Expands Flickr links inside your message for you to preview.

Fixed width font
Are you old school and hate the default Ariel font?  Can’t align your ‘text tables’ right?  Well then this Gmail Lab feature is for you.  You can now have an option to view your messages in fixed with font like Courier.  Great ready for some ASCII art!

Default ‘Reply to all’
Always find yourself having to select the ‘Reply to all’ option at the bottom of a message because the top right button in each message is plane plane ol’ ‘Reply’?  Well, now you can change that option to be ‘Reply to all’ to the enjoyment of all your friends and family I’m sure.

Mail Goggles
Have you ever sent a message late at night to your friends or co-workers after a long night of drinking?  Are you an alcoholic?  Well then this Gmail Lab feature maybe for you.  When you have this feature activated you’ll be prompted to do basic math when sending a message during predefined time periods (customizable).  If you are inebriated that message won’t go out because you’re too smashed to know what 8 x 7 is.

Undo Send
OOPS did I just send that…unsend unsend unsend!!!  If you find yourself sending a message and needed to unsend that last message because of a misspelling, bad link, or accidentally sending it to the wrong person then you can turn on this little nifty Gmail Lab feature to give yourself 5 seconds to undo that sent message.


Just got Flex Builder 3

So I was curious about Flex, an Adobe Product to make Rich Internet Interfaces on a website or on the desktop using Adobe AIR. Installed Flex Builder 3 and am exploring it.

Reminds me a lot of Visual Basic when I first used an IDE, but on the web.  Alot of reusable components will make this useful.

EDIT1: So I made my first Flex App.  This is a really simple ZipCode app using Flex Builder 3 that’ll take a ZipCode and spit out the information from a web service.

EDIT2: Ok so I did a search on the web and found someone else doing a Flickr Tileset using Flex Builder 2.  I take his source and update it to Flex Builder 3 (not as easy as Adobe said it would be), and this is the result: a very simple Flickr Tileset using Flex Builder 3.

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