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Intern Report #0 (Precursor)

posted in Internships on January 26th, 2008

In the past years, I have worked for a great number of companies; they all served a different purpose – while one was purely about content generation, another was producing software and yet another focused on the building of websites for corporate communication.

I have long been fascinated by what is called the “social web” and it is with great pleasure that I can finally announce what a handful of people have known for about a month now: I am the latest intern to join Dutch-American start-up xolo.tv.

I was in the fortunate position of being able to choose from a handful of different companies for my first internship, but in the end, the products that xolo.tv are developing are the ones that appeal to me the most.

xolo.tv’s platform was first introduced to me back during PICNIC’07, when Marc van Woudenberg gave an impromptu presentation to a number of people during an early dinner, after the conclusion of the European Bloggers Conference.

I seeded quite a bit at PICNIC with my custom-made moo.com LinkedIn cards and Marc was one of the lucky recipients but since I did not have enough time to actually get a good talk going, I figured that nothing much would come of it.

For one reason or another however, Marc got back to me and after studying my profile on LinkedIn and approached me to set up a meeting for November 2007. Hah, take that all you nay-sayers who think that LinkedIn cannot be used to get a job!

To be honest, I had no real clue as to what to expect from the talks up-front. Marc seemed to think highly enough of me to devote some of his valuable time to a meeting. I was impressed, plain and simple, but at the same time puzzled, so puzzled that I did not know how to prepare for the meeting and did all I could: learn about all past clients of xolo.tv, create a presentation (yes, just in case) on how they could expand their customer-base and

I had never had a formal interview, mostly because I always gained “access” to a job by sweet-talking my way in, not that there is anything wrong with it, but it is a totally different thing than what happened at xolo.tv.

What impressed, yet at the same time, scared me the most was the warm welcome I received. I burst in during lunch (which just so happened to be a tradition their other intern started) and was invited to join them and grab a bite to eat.

Soon thereafter, the talks started where I got a chance to showcase cuizine.tv and was then cross-examined by a number of xolo.tv employees and finally, after receiving a number of interesting and not that easy to answer questions, I was left with mixed feelings.

I knew one thing and that was that I wanted to work there. I also knew that the people working their all are specialists in one way or another and I somehow had to find a reason to convince them, because, frankly, I just had to do this, if not only for the reason that one of the clients was Bløf (yes, it’s true and yes, this was not my main motivation).

During the course of the meeting, Marc expressed his interest in setting up a follow-up meeting for December 2007 and it is safe to say that I was starting to get a good feeling about the whole deal.

The second meeting was much easier-going, basically all we did was sign a few papers and grab some drinks to celebrate, all the while discussing the secrets and intricacies of the female mind - go figure.

I have a dream…

posted in personal stuff on September 20th, 2007

I was just reading up some of the questions my LinkedIn contacts were asking and came across a rather interesting one, asked by F.Xavier Garcia:

Who wants to share a dream ?

I am a “Professional Dreamer” which means I like to listen to people’s dreams, see how many are in common with mine and how we can manifest them faster. All my dreams are bold and ambitious, my main dream is to leave the planet in a better state than it was on the day I was born.

Wether or not F. Xavier really gets this done is not the point here, what is important is that he still dares to dream, in a world that is so full of corporate drones that sometimes one feels like an outcast as a dreamer…

One person offered an answer that more than underlines my above statement:

Dreams are like rainbows. Only idiots chase them.

And even though the statement was most probably meant to contain a humorous undertone, it seems to be the sad truth. Too many of us have lost track of their (original) dream. People, especially males, get sidetracked easily. A new business opportunity presents itself, a new hobby and suddenly, the original dream is not important anymore.

In closing, I think the way Kent Dryer put it is spot on:

What about making an impact on others? Too many of us are selfish and are so wrapped up that we have a hard time making a difference.

Dare to pursue your dreams, it will make you a happy ( / happier) person.

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Feest.je - Recap!

posted in Events on August 31st, 2007

Yesterday evening, the guys from The Next Web, Fleck, Wakoopa and Twones invited a select audience to Feest.je in order to celebrate their recent successes with the respective companies and introduce a couple of new features.

Wakoopa launched a new design and Fleck showcased a couple of new features and the guys from Twones provided some interesting insight into their upcoming release.

Getting to know the right people is not impossible at such parties, but it certainly is harder if you do not own a company that is in the news every other day. Getting to know the people that matter is even harder, especially if you do not have some kind of (paper) business card.

While I do not like the idea of a (paper) business card on its own, simply for the fact that the information can not be updated easily nor can you decide who gets which information (it is: all or nothing), I do understand that even though it is called a Web 2.0 community, paper still sways its scepter over the way contact information is shared.

Since I do not own a fancy company or work for someone that plays in the Web 2.0 scene, I figure that there is little to no information I could put on a business card that would make it worth the paper.

Something I am happy with, however, is my LinkedIn profile, because it showcases some of the things I have done and I personally enjoy staying in contact with my contacts on a serious platform which just works a lot better for me than, say, Facebook.

With LinkedIn, if you want to connect with another person, you only really need two things: a name and an email address and that is exactly what I put on my hand-outs:

LinkedIn: Kerim Satirli

 

I do not have any stats yet, but I think the cards worked pretty well. Mostly because of their unusual format and because they are a no-nonsense way of communicating those bits of information that are important.

The product in itself, unfortunately, is no official LinkedIn item and not sanctioned by the powers that be, but I figure that this could be of interest to more people.

Naturally, “pimping” yourself is important, but one should never go to a party without bringing at least something, some kind of gift, for the host(s).

Truth be told, I had have a gift for the hosts, the only problem is that it was delivered today, on the day that Feest.je was originally slated to happen and not yesterday, the revised date for the party.

That said, what do you give someone who has a beautiful wife partner and kids and more web properties than you can shake a stick at? Exactly, something he does not have and the answer to what it actually is will follow soon.

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Why I prefer LinkedIn over Facebook

posted in Media on August 12th, 2007

While reading today’s news feeds, I came across this very interesting item on TechCrunch:

We just received a tip that the source code for the Facebook main index page has been leaked and published on a blog called Facebook Secrets.

While I am no PHP guru, the code looks legit, as far as I can tell and that really makes me wonder: If someone can get to the most treasured part of a web application, its sourcecode, how easy would it be for an attacker to grab all my, non public data from my profile? How easy would it be for people that should not have access to my data, to actually create a profile on me and spam me even more?

Everyone always hypes how great Facebook and the Facebook API is and while it is not yet clear if the API contributed to the breach or not, it could still have been a contributing factor.

Facebook then gave an official statement, trying to blame a misconfiguration stating that it was a misconfiguration:

Some of Facebook’s source code was exposed to a small number of users due to a bug on a single server that was misconfigured and then fixed immediately. It was not a security breach and did not compromise user data in any way.

Techcrunch’ Nik Cubrilovic then stated that:

It seems that the cause was apache and mod_php sending back un-interpreted source code as opposed to output, due to either a server misconfiguration or high load

High load? One would expect that, with a site like Facebook, the developers / company behind the whole application would take precautions so that there are no leaks like this.

Either way, this kind of breach is probably next to impossible with LinkedIn. Reason for that is, if you ask me, the fact that they do not give everyone access to their servers / services (by means of a, supposedly badly coded API) and even if they would, I am more than certain that LinkedIn would have appropriate resources so that no server could experience that kind of high load that triggers it to reveal sourcecode.

Virtual hat tip to Elliot C. Back

[UPDATE]

Blake Ross kindly pointed out that the way this post was written suggested that part of TechCrunch’s statement was actually the official Facebook statement. It is not and I stand, humbly corrected.

Misquoting aside, I am still not happy about the fact that Facebook suffers this kind of problem right amidst their legal troubles and it does make one wonder if this was a deliberate attempt or really, just a misconfiguration.