Tag Archives: facebook

CodePath Android 2016 Alumni at Uber HQ

CodePath Bootcamp: learn Android & iOS the Better way

I have been building products for the iOS platform since 2012. As the mobile market exploded, I started to feel like I was missing something. It took some time to shed the iOS ego and acknowledge that 85% of mobile users in the world are on Android. And this isn’t going to go away. And, pre to 2016, I knew little about about servicing that massive market segment, Android. It was time to change that and skill up on Android mobile development.

So I began the search for a bootcamp that could instill me with new powers. In the past having completed various online courses through edX, Stanford University and Kauffman Fellows Academy this time I wanted to do something different and go offline. Unlike online self learning, it’s easy to fall off the wagon. I didn’t want to give myself the luxury of falling off the wagon. Among the noise of the internet I finally saw the light.

Enter CodePath

Enter CodePath

CodePath is a 8 week bootcamp program ran both online and offline. Classes are ran by experts in their respective fields — CodePath cofounder Nathan for Android and his cofounder Tim for iOS. Alumni also play a role contributing to weekly classes online and offline. It’s a nice tight network of professionals advancing education in hot fields like mobile development & design.

There is an extensive and up to the date online resource of information for Android and iOS (links below). Unlike books or most online resources that can go out of date fast. CodePath’s online resources are always up to date since they also form the backbone of the offline classes.

Classes are Free. Seats are Limited. But, don’t be fooled, this is premium education. Apart from applying to get in, successful candidates get phone screened and then have to prove their commitment with pre-work (coding project). I love this approach. It keeps the bar high!

Facebook CodePath Cohort

CodePath iOS 2016 Alumni at Facebook HQ

Sponsored by Silicon Valley’s Tech Giants

Each class is sponsored by a tech giant in Silicon Valley. Hello to other tech companies 👋 — pay attention.

When I attended the Android bootcamp class it was sponsored & hosted by Uber at Uber HQ. Then later when I attended the iOS Swift bootcamp, Facebook was sponsoring it and hosted us inside their garden-roofed fantasyland (love that place!). AirBnB also participated in sponsorship in SF.

Tech Giants sponsorship provides insight into the vibe and energy of these companies and ability to speak to the folks that work there. Side note; if you want a job there this is a more qualified with less hoops method of applying.

More companies should be doing this. If anything it demonstrates a level of commitment to STEM education in Silicon Valley. This is why every tech company should be sponsoring such educational programs. Furthermore, what a brilliant way to enrich your existing and future staff with modern education that allows them to hit the ground running.

I know Mobijutsu

Matrix Neo Ninjutsu

If you seen The Matrix you may recall Neo being uploaded with Ninjutsu code and having his mind blow with this new knowledge. This is how I felt at CodePath.

You know you have to get your s**t together in the 1st week of CodePath when you hear about the structure of the program and attendance requirements.

The best way to summarize this is it feels exactly like when you get a trainer at the gym for the first time, get pushed and you then realize stuff you never knew you were capable of. You move to a new bar! In the first 4 weeks you will have built 4 apps and mastered mobile development.

Life after CodePath

Nearing the end of the 8 week program I got a sense of accomplishment and some sadness that the end was near. I met new friends, worked with amazing people and pushed myself to new limits.. and I survived.

Knowledge is Power. With Knowledge you can Create. In Silicon Valley this is what creates value. An ability to bring something to life just from an idea is uplifting. It is an ability to Execute.

I now know Android and have few Android apps under my belt. I also understand the ecosystem and understand the lifecycle of building on the platforms of the future, mobile.

Mobile is the future (we all know this) and this future is 1/4 owned by iOS and 3/4 Android.

iOS vs Android

Nature gives and also takes based on utility. To maintain momentum and this new knowledge, one needs a good plan to keep on executing. I plan to put it to good use through; (1) giving back to the CodePath community and (2) by applying my mobile skills to the road ahead in 2017.

Thank you Nathan and Tim for your education, persistence and my flood of never ending questions.

~ Ernest

Links


Ernest is an Aussie Software Engineer based in Silicon Valley. When not doing a baby freeze then you’ll find him floating in an isolation tank.

Follow Ernest on Twitter => https://twitter.com/ernestsemerda

Facebook apps: my application development history

My Facebook Application development journey began way back in 2007 when Facebook first opened up it’s API’s to application developers. It was a different landscape back then. The API was fresh and documentation spares and possibilities limitless. All my apps were “Free”. Nothing to pay. They were all solving a problem I had at the time.

All my Facebook app development was done on a LAMP stack, from scratch. No Frameworks. I created my own Framework called “Semerda” to handle common stuff like caching, logging, database access etc… Since Facebook’s API was PHP focused this made it easier to work on a LAMP stack.

This worked out well for my my 1st app called Rock Radio – a complimentary channel for music distribution from a business I was running at the time called Rockin The Shed. You can read more about the Rockin The Shed business here. Later as the landscape changes I moved across to using Patterns and MVC (model-view-controller) to achieve faster and cleaner development on a LAMP stack. My latest Facebook Application called “ReadingList” is using CodeIgniter MVC.

Below is a history (back in time) outlining my Facebook App development.

Rock Radio (aka Rockin The Shed) App

Status: Retired

Rock Radio - powered by the awesome music from Rockin The Shed

The idea behind the app was that once all our radio stations finished broadcasting the weekly show of Rockin The Shed for the week, we would release it on Facebook for those that either missed the show on the radio or wanted more of the good Rock Music we broadcast.

Facebook at that time did not have as much traction as today but I saw an opportunity in what it could be one day, a place where people would always hang out. So why not feed them with some awesome music.

Rock Radio Facebook Application - allowed play of Rockin The Shed music directly from Facebook

MoshCam App

Status: Hybernating

MoshCam logo owner by Rockin The Shed

MoshCam logo - owned by Rockin The Shed

Then came another idea. Since we were in the rock scene and hardcore fans enjoy the mosh pit* at these rock concerts we thought what would be the best way to capture that experience and share it with friends. Naturally Facebook was the place where friends hanged out and so MoshCam was born – an application which allowed people to share videos from their mosh pit experience with their friends on Facbeook.

* Moshing is a dance in which participants push and/or slam into each other.

The app still lives on Facebook in an unsupported format here:
http://apps.facebook.com/moshcam

Moshcam main page

MoshCam main page

MosCam was a quick build using iStockphoto images to speed up design to test the waters whether we had something here. This idea didn’t get much traction so we moved on to focus on Musichouse. Musichouse was to be an extension of Rockin The Shed and provide a lot more value. Read about Musichouse here.

Friends App

Status: Hybernating

One day while noticing the volume of friends join Facebook I had another idea. An idea was to keep up with notification of friends birthdays so I can see in advance in how many days away are friend’s birthdays. While building this out I pushed the API a bit further and exposed other friend stats likes what zodiac sign they were, age and sex and visually presented it using Google’s Chart Tools.

This app is pretty rough around the edges since it’s only been for my own use. Should you find value in it feel free to use it and send me feedback.

This App can be located here:
http://apps.facebook.com/f_r_i_e_n_d_s/

Friends main page

Friends main page

Additional stats on your Facebook friends

Additional stats on your Facebook friends

iStockphoto App

Status: Retired

Launched around 4 years ago to solve a problem I (and other stock photographers) had around exposing & sharing stock photos from istockphoto.com (world’s largest stock website) with friends and colleagues on Facebook.

iStockphoto was gaining a lot of traction and since I was playing a hobby-part-time stock photographer in my spare time & Facebook fan I wanted to share with the Facebook community all the cool photos I was taking and uploading to iStockphoto. So came the idea of tapping into my iStockphoto XML feed and exposing it as a Grid of photos on my Facebook profile. At the time Facebook profiles allowed “Boxes” in 2 Views so this provided excellent exposure for my photos. The app was built in FBML (Facebook Markup Language) and today is retired after Facebook changed their profile layout, rules & retired the FBML.

iStockphoto Facebook App - how it worked

iStockphoto Facebook App - how it worked

ReadingList App

Status: Active

ReadingList was developed to solve my own problem. How to keep a single list of books I want to read, have read or are reading with ability to share that list with my friends… who are on… you guessed it, on Facebook.

After developing the application I started getting comments and feedback from friends who also read books that they wanted to use this app. So without any restrictions, I opened it up to the world so others can inspire their friends with books and keep a list of their books in the place they visit daily, Facebook.

Technical detail about this LAMP MVC CodeIgniter app are detailed in a previous post I did here: http://www.theroadtosiliconvalley.com/facebook-social/app-readinglist-share-books/

If you want to start using this free app today go here: http://apps.facebook.com/readinglist/

Facebook Readinglist - find your books!

Facebook Readinglist - find your books!

There you have it folks…

My background with Facebook app development. Facebook app development is fun. Especially when you start seeing other people getting value out of using your application. That is both inspiring and motivational. Then listening to your users helps you improve the app and take it to the next level and you really get pumped in making a difference in other people’s lifes.

If you haven’t started Facebook development then I highly recommend you do it today by going here: http://www.facebook.com/developers. The Facebook API today is light years ahead of the one that existed few years back and gives you the power to do a lot more and build awesome social products.

If you have a Facebook app you are proud of please post it in the comments below and share with the rest of the world.

Happy Facebook app development!

~ Ernest

Facebook App: ReadingList – share your books

Gain wisdom of the world. As the famous Jim Rohn stated ~ “All Leaders Are Readers”. If you are a book worm and also on Facebook then you should grab this free awesome Facebook Application I developed called ReadingList.

What is ReadingList?

ReadingList allows you to share the books you are reading or have read with your friends on Facebook. It also acts as your online library to store the list of your books. Simple, easy to use and it works! What better way to inspire your Facebook friends then by sharing the great books in your books library. Be a leader and start inspiring your friends on Facebook today and make a difference in their life.

Give ReadingList a try. Visit this URL:
http://apps.facebook.com/readinglist/

ReadingList in detail

The product is simple. Both from ease of use to functionality.

Fig 1 screen shot below illustrates how your Facebook Wall will look when you add / update a book in the ReadingList application. Now your friends can see the cool book you are reading along with whether you recommend it and your personal comments about this book – cool hey!

Your book activity gets posted to your Facebook wall to inspire your friends

Fig1. Your book activity gets posted to your Facebook wall to inspire your friends

Fig 2 screen shot below is of the main page where you search for a book you are reading or have read. The search mechanism automatically looks up Amazon books repository and presents the findings in a horizontally scrollable pane. When you locate the book you want to add click “Select book” button beneath the book image.

Find a book and share it with your Facebook friends

Fig2. Find a book and share it with your Facebook friends

Fig 3 screen shot below is of the community page where you can see what your friends and other users of ReadingList application are reading. This is a great page to learn about other new cool and exciting books.

See what the ReadingList community is reading

Fig3. See what the ReadingList community is reading

Give ReadingList a try. Visit this URL:
http://apps.facebook.com/readinglist/

Under the hood – for the tech savvy

Here’s a breakdown of the technology behind this Facebook Application ReadingList:

  • ReadingList was built on a LAMP stack – Linux (CentOS 5.5), Apache, MySQL 5 and PHP 5.2.
  • ReadingList runs through a powerful open source PHP web application Framework with a small footprint called CodeIgniter 1.7. (update: as of Feb 8, 2010 it is now upgraded to the better & faster 2.0)
  • On the front-end, latest version of jQuery is used to achieve UI behaviors.
  • The Software Architecture behind ReadingList is MVC (Model–View–Controller) with Active record pattern.
  • ReadingList also uses OAuth with Facebook Graph API and Amazon Web Services API.
  • Future performance (and fun) enhancements on the cards are Memcache, Apache Cassandra (NoSQL) and Facebook’s HipHop.

Toby Beresford did an informative presentation in London on CodeIgniter as a great framework for rapid application development. See it on Slideshare here.

If you have any ideas how I can further enhance this application especially around the product side please let me know in the “Discussions” area here: http://www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=102322113161984 or drop a comment below.

Cheers,
~ Ernest

Links mentioned in this post

Facebook Fan page – custom Tab development

Facebook has introduced a lot of changes in 2011 to how Facebook applications are being developed. I’m sure similar changes will be coming to the Fan Pages since they still use FBML instead of iFrame approach like in Facebook Apps.

Here is a a set of code snippets which have helped me with customizing my Fan Page (http://www.facebook.com/TheRoadtoSiliconValley/) and building my own Facebook App with “Page Tab” capability.

The following assumes you are the “administrator” of a Fan Page.

Welcome Tab using Static FBML

You don’t need to be a programmer to do this quick hack.

1. Install Static FBML: http://www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=4949752878
This application will add a box to your Page in which you can render HTML or FBML (Facebook Markup Language) for enhanced Page customization.

2. Check out the previous post on how to customize this page as a Welcome page with any content you require. This will give you an idea of the power this simple free app provides.

Show Content to Fans – Hide from Non-Fans

So you’ve added the Static FBML and now want to add some dynamic content based on whether the user is a fan or not. i.e. has hit the “Like” button or not. One place you can use this is to control incentives based on user behavior.

Code to achieve this

Click here to View FMBL Code

Put that code into your Static FBML container to test.

Note: You cannot be logged in as an admin for the Fan Page you’re adding this to, or you’ll see both the content for fans and for non-fans. Use a test account (or friends) which is not an admin of this Fan Page.

Get Facebook UserID on Fan Page

There may be time when you developed your own Fan Page “Tab” and want to retrieve the User’s FacebookID. By default you can only retrieve the Fan Page ID.

There is a nice write-up here how to retrieve the users FacebookID using Facebook Ajax call: http://forum.developers.facebook.net/viewtopic.php?pid=296303

To make this piece of code work, replace this:

var url = “YOUR_CALLBACK_URL/tab.php?ajax=1”;
ajax.post(url);

With:

var queryParams = { “ajax” : 1 };
ajax.post(‘YOUR_CALLBACK_URL/tab.php’, queryParams);

The code is modified to pass the URL variables as array parameters.

Have you got any cool Facebook snippets to help with new Facebook implementations in 2011? Share below.

~ Ernest

Startup School 2010 – the recap, highlights & lessons

Startup School 2010 was a success! both on the quality of the turn out of entrepreneurs, speakers and the organizers – Y Combinator and Stanford BASES.

The day started on a nice crispy Saturday morning 16th October 2010. Breakfast was provided to all those that attended while the Dinkelspiel Auditorium at Stanford University was prepared.

Startup School 2010 - at Stanford, Dinkelspiel Auditorium

The morning of Startup School 2010 - at Stanford, Dinkelspiel Auditorium

Startup School 2010

Startup School 2010

Schedule

The theater got packed out with many great minds of all ages – even entrepreneurs 12 years of age eager to start changing the world. The following are notes I took during each of the speeches + video. Hope you enjoy the content and find it as valuable and inspiring as I did.

Brian Chesky (Founder of Airbnb) speaking to an audience of entrepreneurs. Spot me in the 3rd row! :-) Photo by Robert Scoble

09:30
Andy Bechtolsheim
Founder Arista Networks; Founder, Sun Microsystems

Andy Bechtolsheim - Founder of Arista Networks & Founder of Sun Microsystems

Andy Bechtolsheim - Founder of Arista Networks & Founder of Sun Microsystems

Wow, what a great start to this day. Andy went over how Silicon Valley got to where it is today and then touched up on the following interesting topics:

  • The process in creating a business is in 3 steps: Discover –> Design –> Deliver
  • “Discover” phase has more value but typically less money is spent while moving to the right to “Deliver” has less value but more money is spent on it.
  • The Horizon Effect”, also a topic in psychology, outlines how the majority of humans only purse goals which are in our horizon, stuff we can see, instead of stuff we cannot see. Aim past the horizon like Christopher Columbus did when he sailed past to the horizon only to find that he would not fall off the edge of the world.
  • Great companies:
    • Apple – spends the least on R&D ($1.2b) and consumer research. They trust their gut instinct to deliver super products. They also have less products to maintain than most companies.
    • Google – expects to solve the impossible. Most of their success today is attributed to the 1 day per week given to their employees to brain storm & prototype new ideas.
  • Innovation is the never-ending search for better solutions.
  • Most successful companies have more than 1 founder.

10:00
Paul Graham
Partner, Y Combinator; Founder, Viaweb

Paul Graham - Partner of Y Combinator & Founder of Viaweb

Paul Graham - Partner of Y Combinator & Founder of Viaweb

Paul spoke of Super-angels vs. VCs and how the landscape has changed. I didn’t take notes during Paul’s speech since Paul made it available online here.

The New Funding Landscapehttp://www.paulgraham.com/superangels.html

10:30
Andrew Mason
Founder, Groupon

Andrew Mason - Founder of Groupon

Andrew Mason - Founder of Groupon

  • Initial site was a WordPress blog where Andrew would copy and paste group buy requests from ThePoint.
  • Early hiring advise:
    • Avoid titles (unless required for hiring purpose) and
    • Don’t create too much structure.
  • How to defend yourself against competition:
    • Build an awesome product and
    • Never get out-innovated.
  • Lessons from Groupon’s journey:
    1. You’re building a tool, not a piece of art. Don’t be blinded by the vision.
    2. Recognise and Embrace your constraints.
    3. Have a Growth plan.
    4. The best tools aren’t always that cool – email is worth 10x more to Groupon than Facebook/Twitter followers.
    5. You will probably fail – failure is real but you don’t have to fail.
    6. Quit now – signs are always pointing but you get to decide.

I highly recommend you watch the videos below of Andrew talking about Groupon since it’s both educational and entertaining (plenty of humor).

Video part 1 of 2Andrew Mason – Founder of Groupon @ Startup School 2010
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fw6GxABcdy4
Video part 2 of 2Andrew Mason – Founder of Groupon @ Startup School 2010
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIUlweek0FM

11:00
Break

11:30
Tom Preston-Werner
Founder, GitHub

Tom Preston-Werner - Founder of GitHub

Tom Preston-Werner - Founder of GitHub

12:00
Greg McAdoo

Partner, Sequoia Capital

Greg McAdoo - Partner of Sequoia Capital

Greg McAdoo - Partner of Sequoia Capital

  • “Leverage” is very important to demonstrate value in attaining VC funding.
  • Read about Achates Power “Fundamentally Better Engines” and how they did what GM couldn’t do in 20 years with half the staff.
  • Key points on the success of startups getting VC funding:
    1. They thought differently.
    2. They don’t throw money at problems, but ideas.
    3. They built simple easy to use products.
    4. They stay closer to the customers.
    5. They do more with less.
    6. They ship something early.
    7. They put a price on it early.

12:30
Reid Hoffman
Partner, Greylock; Founder, LinkedIn

Reid Hoffman - Partner of Greylock & Founder of LinkedIn

Reid Hoffman - Partner of Greylock & Founder of LinkedIn

  • There is around 7 +/- 2 of sites people have in their mind. Your goal is to be one of those 7. Search is in the 7.
  • Competition is the noise you need to get above. One way to do this is to make sure they sux and you don’t.
  • Release version 1 of your product asap to test your hypothesis early and to prove your ideas. If you are not embarrassed by version 1 you have released too late.
  • Build an intelligence network early, from investors, co-founders etc to help with testing your hypothesis (pivot).
  • Make social features available for when new customers ask – “who else is here that I know”.
  • Don’t plan for more than 6 months forward since the consumer internet changes rapidly.
  • Hire people who cohere as a group and learn quickly.
  • Solve your venture’s hardest problem of distribution e.g. how to get to massive size. And then you are on your way to success.

If you are on LinkedIn let’s connect. Just let me know who you are.
My LinkedIn profile is located here: http://www.linkedin.com/in/semerda

12:55
Lunch

Ron Conway
Partner, SV Angel and former co-founder of Altos Computers

Ron Conway - Partner of SV Angel + Ron's good friend McHammer

Ron Conway - Partner of SV Angel + Ron's good friend MC Hammer

  • Provide a service where users are happy and then monetize.
  • Entrepreneurs build and innovate companies and investors should be lucky to be a part of it.
  • Never forget its your company, the founder’s company.
  • Once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur.
  • It takes guts but anyone can do it.
  • It’s crazy to start a company with 1 founder. It’s all about building a great team. And if you are a founder you have to build a great team some day so why not build it the day you start the company – the 1st hurdles to get over.

There is more in the videos below where Ron outlines his journey and the journey of great friends from Napster, Google, Facebook and Twitter.

Video part 1 of 2Ron Conway – Partner of SV Angel @ Startup School 2010
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvmYGK2Jhck
Video part 2 of 2Ron Conway – Partner of SV Angel @ Startup School 2010
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjaI43_u3dk

Adam D’Angelo
Founder, Quora and ex-CTO of Facebook

Adam D'Angelo - Founder of Quora

Adam D'Angelo - Founder of Quora

  • It’s ok if something doesn’t scale as long as it strengthens your position.
  • Facebook leanings:
    • Good infrastructure early on saves future development time to correct it.
    • Get as much start-up experience as an employee so that later you can climb your own mountain with this knowledge behind you.

Quora is a great Q&A product with quality content.
You can find me on Quora here: http://www.quora.com/Ernest-Semerda

Dalton Caldwell
Founder, Picplz; Founder, Imeem

Dalton Caldwell - Founder of Picplz & Imeem

Dalton Caldwell - Founder of Picplz & Imeem

  • Don’t be a cannon fodder. Work on things you love. Life is too short.
  • Key before you start your own music startup:
    • Artists are poor so they won’t pay you,
    • The market is totally saturated,
    • The economies are challenging with required payments to labels every quarter and lawyers waiting for you to become big so they can sue you.

If you want a good laugh and learn heaps about the risks of starting up a music venture then you should watch Dalton’s music business review (videos below) of his 6 years of building Imeem, what worked and what didn’t.

Video part 1 of 2 – Dalton Caldwell – Founder of Picplz & Imeem @ Startup School 2010
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pshTi9dk7Bw
Video part 2 of 2Dalton Caldwell – Founder of Picplz & Imeem @ Startup School 2010
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TphryAOyY40

15:55
Break

Mark Zuckerberg
Founder, Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg - Founder of Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg - Founder of Facebook speaking with Jessica Livingston (Y Combinator partner)

  • Facebook’s mission is: Give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.
  • Mark stated that he acquires companies primarily for the excellent people. “Past handful acquires were a success so why not more.”
  • The goal is to build Facebook as the McKinsey of Entrepreneurship.

In the video below Mark speaks with Jessica Livingston (Y Combinator partner) on the initial days at Facebook, about the new movie Social Network and answers popular questions about Facebook.

Video part 1 of 2 – Mark Zuckerberg – Founder of Facebook @ Startup School 2010
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjVACXklxJk
Video part 2 of 2 – Mark Zuckerberg – Founder of Facebook @ Startup School 2010
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjuMARuv5sg

Brian Chesky
Founder, Airbnb

Brian Chesky - Founder of Airbnb

Brian Chesky - Founder of Airbnb

  • If you have an idea put it up there online, no matter what it looks like. You need the feedback early on.
  • Inventors of Obama O’s: Hope in every bowl! and Cap’n McCain’s: Put a maverick in your morning cereals – when the times were tough and money was required.
  • Had many unsuccessful launches but persistence got them through. Paul Graham stated “you guys won’t die, your like cockroaches”.
  • Michael Seibel from Justin.tv introduced Brian and his co-founder to the Y Combinator methodology and eventually to Paul Graham. Initially, Paul didn’t like the business idea. That changed quickly.
  • Brian used a classic motivation / psychology approach that Anthony Robbins teaches: “Whatever you focus on expands (you get)”. So he decided to focus on revenue by printing a positively inclined graph depicting revenue and pasting it on the bathroom mirror. This way it was the 1st thing he saw every morning and the last before going to bed to dream. It worked!
  • Paul Graham advised: “Go to your users”. So Brian and his co-founder flew to NYC, Washington DC and Denver and knocked on people’s doors to sell their service – “do you know how much your bedroom is worth?!”.
  • Then, David, Barry Manilow’s drummer posted his apartment for rent while he toured with Barry Manilow. This changed the direction of AirBnB and the 1st “wiggles of hope ~ PG” appeared. AirBnB launched version 5 of their product and started to be Ramen Profitable.
  • Today, AirBnB is in 8200 cities, 166 countries and traffic has started booming in the last 5 months.
  • AirBnB is now a “Community market place for space”.
  • All this started with an airbed in a living room to solve an accommodation problem.

The following videos are titled “Powerless and obscure” – 1,000 days ago (October 2007). How Brian started AirBnB and it nearly fell apart only to survive after the 5th launch. Very inspiring and educational.

Video part 1 of 2 – Brian Chesky – Founder of Airbnb @ Startup School 2010
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOytubycHOg
Video part 2 of 2 – Brian Chesky – Founder of Airbnb @ Startup School 2010
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZ1fC6kAg5k

I also got to meet Brian the following day during Y Combinator Open-Day at AirBnB headquarters in SF.

Me with Brian Chesky - Founder of Airbnb @ AirBnB headquarters in SF

Me with Brian Chesky - Founder of Airbnb @ AirBnB headquarters in SF

In Conclusion

And that wrapped up an amazing, day at Startup School 2010.

My top 3 take away (learnings) from Startup School 2010 were:

  1. Find a solution to something people are hurting (strongly need) and they will pay you for it.
  2. It’s all about the “Experience”, not the technology. You are selling the experience not the technology.
  3. Build an awesome product that makes your competitor’s version sux.

Now it’s time for action!

Ernest

Facebook’s Open Graph Protocol (OGP) – why it matters

So Facebook’s Open Graph Protocol (OGP) was held at Facebook HQ (Headquarters) on the 23rd of August 2010. 164  people attended that afternoon event. A very healthy turnout with alot of interesting people from all sorts of industries working on many exciting projects thirsty to find out how to integrate with Facebook.

What is OGP and what does it do for you?

Open Graph Protocol (OGP) is a light-weight version of Semantic Web and it is implemented using RDFa. The OGP enables you to integrate your Web pages into the social graph. It is currently designed for Web pages representing profiles of real-world things — things like movies, sports teams, celebrities, and restaurants. Once your pages become objects in the graph, users can establish connections to your pages as they do with Facebook Pages. Based on the structured data you provide via the Open Graph protocol, your pages show up richly across Facebook: in user profiles, within search results and in News Feed.

Let’s OGP enable my website – step by step guide

To turn any web page into graph objects, we need to add basic metadata to a page.

Let’s take a look at my photography website (http://ernestsemerda.com/bands.foto) and how I implemented the Facebook Like button with Facebook’s Open Graph Protocol (OGP).

1. I added the following 7 “must have” metadata properties into my page (bands.foto). If you want to know the detail on each metadata the see this site http://opengraphprotocol.org/. There are only 4 required properties (the 1st four) but the others are a must in my opinion in order to provide more detail to Facebook about your page.

<!-- Facebook Open Graph -->
<meta property="og:title" content="Band Photography" />
<meta property="og:type" content="website" />
<meta property="og:url" content="http://ernestsemerda.com/bands.foto" />
<meta property="og:image" content="http://ernestsemerda.com/images/ernestsemerda_logo.png" />
<!-- recommended -->
<meta property="og:description" content="Band photographer based in San Francisco, Sydney & New York" />
<meta property="og:site_name" content="Ernest Semerda Photography" />
<!-- admin -->
<meta property="fb:admins" content="ernestsemerda" />

It’s important that fb:admin is added (last property) since without it you will not be able to administer your page’s Object Graph in Facebook.

2. Next generate the Facebook Like button using Facebook’s own tool located here: http://developers.facebook.com/docs/reference/plugins/like

3. Copy the iframe html code Facebook generates based on the properties you opted for and paste it into your web page where you want the Like button to appear.

General rules of the Like button:

  • Make it easy for users to Like things on your site. Place the Like button close to the object they are liking.
  • When publishing, use only the ‘voice’ of the object. For example, if users are liking an actor in a TV show, that actor should publish stories about themselves, not general information on the show, or the TV network.

4. Check your final work using Facebook’s URL Linter. Thanks Paul Tarjanto from Facebook for creating this cool tool. So enter the URL of the page you pasted the Like button and hit Lint (submit). Linter uses the same code that is used for the Like button and other Open Graph Protocol consumptions. Therefore, it gives you the closest possible match as to how your page will be treated when it’s crawled in production.
http://developers.facebook.com/tools/lint/

5. Congratulations, your done! Click on the Like button to test it out.

Why is this important?

Once your page is Liked, it will become an object in the Facebook graph where users can establish connections to the page as they do with Facebook Pages. Based on the structured data provided via the Open Graph protocol, the pages can show up richly across Facebook: in user profiles, within search results and in News Feed. For example, since I’m using og:type=website, clicking on Like will make my band photography page appear under your “Info” tab in the “Likes and interests” section. Give it a shot.

As the admin (me in this case) will have access to a Facebook Page like section for my web page hosting the Like button. As shown below. This provides insights (statistics) on Active Users, Likes, Views, Feedback and allows me to “market” my web page across Facebook. A double win!

Facebook Page like Insights (statistics) on Active Users, Likes, Views, Feedback etc.

Facebook Page like Insights (statistics) on Active Users, Likes, Views, Feedback etc.

Gold nugget from this meetup

Mike Messenger on meetup.com posted a true gold nugget:

“Facebook may begin pulling RSS data from pages with like buttons in order to deliver updates about these pages automatically to those who have liked then. This is HUGE! – Facebook now accepts Non-Official OG:types and will consider making official any og:type which reaches critical velocity.”

Totally agree with Mike. It’s better to be ready then come to the party late. Which is why this blog and my personal development blog already carry Facebook’s Open Graph Protocol Like buttons. Here’s to Semantic Web, better search engine results & web exposure for marketers.

Slides from the presentation

The slides from this Facebook presentation are now available for download here:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/36376091/Open-Graph-Protocol-at-the-Silicon-Valley-Semantic-Technology-Meetup

If you want more information about Facebook’s Open Graph Protocol (OGP) go here:
http://opengraphprotocol.org/

Are you OGP connected?

If you are already using (or just installed) Facebook’s Open Graph Protocol (OGP) please share it here with the rest of the online community. Would love to see the various ways this great feature is being used. Happy Facebooking and here’s to Semantic Web!

Ernest

Things to do in Silicon Valley + San Francisco

Things To Do in Silicon Valley, The Bay Area & in San Francisco.

So you decided to visit Silicon Valley and/or San Francisco and want to know where to go. Here is a hand full of places in Silicon Valley and San Francisco you can visit during your stay. Of course there is plenty more to do and see then what’s listed below, but this should be a good start for you. Don’t forget to read public transport options so you know how to get around Silicon Valley and San Francisco.

Things To Do in Silicon Valley (south bay)

Silicon Valley is suburbia, sprinkled like candy with many high-tech firm and great places to eat. It is nothing what you expect and must be experienced to be enjoyed.

University Avenue & Stanford University, Downtown Palo Alto
You can’t go wrong here. There are plenty of great restaurants to eat at, shops to explore and Stanford University is just round the corner (across El Camino Real).

Stanford University is enormous. There are plenty of free shuttle buses from Palo Alto CalTrain (on University Ave) which can take you directly to and around Stanford University. The University is beautifully located on a large piece of land surrounded by trees, grass lands and mountains. You can freely walk through the grounds and enjoy the Spanish-colonial style building architecture. Drop by the library and the gift shop if you want to get yourself some merchandise.

The road leading out of Stanford University is called University Avenue and heads directly into Palo Alto downtown. Downtown is full of great restaurants and shops.

Some of my favorites places to eat there:

  • Cheese Cake Factory – largest menu of choices you will ever see. And their cheese cake’s are like no other. Simply delicious.
  • La Strada Ristorante Italiano – nice little Italian place with great Seafood Marinara and delicious thin crust Pizzas.
  • Zibibbo – outstanding food & presentation and they know how to match the wine to your meal. They are a part of a larger group called Restaurant LuLu. Their San Francisco LuLu Restaurant is just as superb.

Castro Street, Downtown Mountain View
This is my home town and also another great place for dining and mixing with the locals.

Downtown Mountain View, Castro Street - one of the things to do in Silicon Valley

Downtown Mountain View, Castro Street – one of the things to do in Silicon Valley

  • Red Rock Cafe – if you want to feel experience a hackers atmosphere then this is the place to be any evening during the week. Grab an Avalanche (a better version of Starbucks Frappuccino), connect to the free wi-fi on your laptop and absorb the energy in the room. You will no doubt also find me there. Check out my post on Red Rock here.
  • East West Bookstore – known as a spiritual bookstore, it is the source for expansive ideas, a retreat from ordinary life, and a gathering place in support of community ideals and spiritual growth. It was founded by a monk by the name of Swami Kriyananda who is the author of over 100 books and the composer of over 400 pieces of music. If you are into spiritualism then you will find this place valuable + it’s across the road from Red Rock.

Some of my favorites places to eat at Castro Street:

  • Gelato Classico Italian Ice Cream – you won’t look at another ice cream again after having some of these. Try the Tiramisu Gelato, there is something super tasty about it.
  • Tomi Sushi – this place is a must for dinner. The sushi here melts in your mouth, it’s reasonably priced ($16 dinner combination) and the atmosphere & setup is authentic Japanese. including the chefs.

Santana Row
Santana Row is an upscale shopping, housing, dining and entertainment complex in San Jose, California. Westfield Valley Fair is located just to its north, on the other side of Stevens Creek Boulevard, and the Winchester Mystery House just to the west, across Winchester Boulevard.

High-tech companies to drop by for a picture

  • Googleplex – a must! Located at 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway Mountain View. You will see plenty of Google bikes around which the Googlers use to move around between the campuses. Something is always buzzing around here. From the T-rex in the courtyard, outside swimming pool to the university style feel atmosphere.
  • If you venture a tad down the road you will come across the Android complex with the large statue of the Android robot next to a cupcake and around the corner Mozilla & LinkedIn Corporations. If you run into some sheep don’t worry, they are working for Google eating cutting down the grass.
  • HP (Hewlett-Packard) & Symantec – because they are right next to each other on Ellis St in Mountain View and the HP founders are famous for having kick started what is known today as the Silicon Valley.
  • While you’re in Mountain View, check out the other tech companies located in Mountain View. There are plenty here!
  • Facebook is located on 1601 S California Ave, Palo Alto. Although there is not much to see from the outside. See my post on Facebook’s Open Graph Protocol (OGP) where I have included a picture of the building. Again not much to see but if you have it on your to-do list then why not.
Me at Googleplex for lunch - a must on the things to do in Silicon Valley

Me at Googleplex for lunch – a must on the things to do in Silicon Valley

For more high-tech companies in Silicon Valley mapped out on a nice map of the bay area, check out my blog post located here.

Attend a Meetup
If you have the time try to go to one of the popular meetup groups. There is always a buzz in the air, plenty of energy and interesting people to connect with + score a free pizza & coke. Read my prior blog post on which meetups to attend.

Recapping the popular meetups:

  • Hacker Dojo: Located around the corner from my place (in Mountain View) is a place for hackers to hang out and code. Also the home of Android weekly developer meetings and monthly presentations from cloud companies et al.
  • Googleplex: Hosting Silicon Valley Google Technology Users offers members who develop applications using Google technology to connect and present their projects.
  • Yahoo’s LAMP meetup hosted every month to share Yahoo’s engineering efforts and provide an environment to learn.
  • Stanford Bases: Stanford University’s entrepreneurship group is one of the largest student entrepreneurship groups in the world dedicated to cultivating the next generation of entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and beyond.
  • The Silicon Valley NewTech Meetup Group [SVNewTech] – always fills up in minutes once the reservations open with over 200 people attending each month.
  • The Silicon Valley iOS Developers’ Meetup – another one which fills up with over 100 people attending each month.
Things to do in Silicon Valley on a Google Map

Things to do in Silicon Valley on a Google Map

Things To Do in San Francisco (the city)

San Fransisco is a city of micro climates. You can notice the difference as you drive up 101 or 280 and the weather changes from a beautiful sunny day to overcast & cloudy. So check the weather online before setting off on you trip from the valley into the city.

Lombart Street & Zig Zag Street
Lombart Street is famous for having steep hills. The Russian Hill part of Lombart Street intersecting with Van Ness Ave is the start of the most steepest hill in San Francisco. It must be driven up to be experienced. As you drive look back for a second to get a glimpse of the street’s sharp inclination.

Once you reach the top, you will be greeted by the most famous “Crookedest Street in the World.” with a 40-degree slope and tight hairpin turns. It is lined with houses and beautifully manicured gardens. It’s worth walking and driving down it.

San Francisco - Lombart Street at night

San Francisco – Lombart Street at night

Fisherman’s Wharf
It is the northern waterfront area of San Francisco and a famous tourist location. It is best known for being the location of Pier 39 & it’s blubbery sea lions, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, the Cannery Shopping Center, Ghirardelli Square, a Ripley’s Believe it or Not museum, the Musée Mécanique, the Wax Museum at Fisherman’s Wharf, Forbes Island and restaurants and stands that serve fresh seafood, most notably Dungeness crab and clam chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl. It is also the place where you can organize a trip to Alcatraz (ref The Rock movie with Sean Connery) – which is clearly seen from Pier 39.

Cobb’s Comedy Club
My favourite comedy club! Headliners who performed at Cobb’s Comedy Club are regular guests on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and The Late Show with David Letterman. Many have their own comedy specials on Comedy Central and HBO and can be seen starring in movies and on television.
More here: http://www.cobbscomedyclub.com/

Samovar Tea Lounge
Fanastic place to start your day with a nice selection of teas. There are 3 unique locations: Samovar Yerba Buena Gardens, Samovar Mission-Castro, and Samovar Hayes. Yerba Buena Gardens is my favorite for it’s atmosphere and unique location.
Website: http://samovarlife.com/

Dinner

  • LuLu Restaurant – great service, reasonably priced food and always fresh and tasty.
  • One Market Restaurant – awarded a Michelin Star for its excellence. If you have extra cash laying around this place is worth a visit.
  • Burger Bar – never disappoints, if all you want is a burger. Try the Kobe Beef Burger – it comes from Wagyu cow and the Kobe beef is rich, tender and juicy and cannot be matched by any other beef.

Nightlife

  • Vessel – located in the heart of San Francisco’s Union Square district, Vessel represents a luxurious lounge of signature San Francisco style and elegance.
  • RubySkye – another club located in the heart of San Francisco’s Union Square district in the famed theatre district, Ruby Skye is San Francisco’s premiere Nightclub and Special Event Venue.
San Francisco - Golden Gate Bridge. North of SIlicon Valley.

San Francisco – Golden Gate Bridge. North of SIlicon Valley.

More Things to do in Silicon Valley?

This should keep you busy during your visit. There are also great posts by the Y Combinator team on things to do while you’re in Silicon Valley here:

Startup School – Things to do (other than Startup School)
http://wiki.startupschool.org/doku.php?id=having_fun_in_the_bay_area

Paul Graham – Where to See Silicon Valley
http://www.paulgraham.com/seesv.html

Steve Blanks – A Visitors Guide to Silicon Valley
http://steveblank.com/2011/02/22/a-visitors-guide-to-silicon-valley/

If you know / have heard of other cool places please share it with the rest of the readers here by placing it into the comments section below.

Happy exploring!

Other related posts of value:

Public Transport in Silicon Valley

http://www.theroadtosiliconvalley.com/transport/public-transport-commuting/

Major roads in Silicon Valley
http://www.theroadtosiliconvalley.com/transport/major-roads-silicon-valley/

Red Rock – hackers hangout
http://www.theroadtosiliconvalley.com/local-stuff/red-rock-hackers/

Ernest