Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Social Network

I finally saw The Social Network, the not entirely factual but somewhat documentary-based film about Mark Zuckerberg and the rise of Facebook from its launch in 2004 to 500 Million users today. Here's the trailer:

Many more clips from the film can be seen here.

I must say that I was both enthralled and inspired by the movie.  How closely it resembles what actually happened with Facebook over the past 7 years is irrelevant.  What is important and inspirational for all software developers the world over is how the determination of one person created a multi-billion dollar company out of nothing.  Furthermore, if you take a look at what Facebook actually does on a technical basis, there is no "genius" at work, per say.  In saying this, I'm not taking anything away from Zuckerberg or his colleagues, for what they have achieved is phenomenal.  However, if a Microsoft or Yahoo or Google or Apple wanted to replicate the functionality on Facebook, how long would it take one of their teams to do it - a few months at most perhaps?!  What is clear is that there was marketing genius at work.  In this regard, I think Facebook proves the old adage: "A good product and great marketing will always outsell a great product and poor marketing."

When I look at Facebook, I always think, "Will this still be the place to go for social networking 25 years from now or even just 10 years from now?  My intuition tells me not.  There are several reasons why.  One of the primary ones is that the "walled garden" of Facebook is not where the Internet was supposed to be heading.  Instead it's a throwback to the days of AOL and Compuserve.  I fully understand why it's so much easier to connect millions (or even billions) of people together on a common website but surely one day the technology community must be able to move Beyond Facebook ?!?

From the moment the closing credits of the movie started rolling, I started making a whole lot of notes of what would be required to indeed move beyond Facebook.  I am continuing to add to these notes and frankly, think I have some pretty darn good ideas.  There's nothing I can do to implement them at this very moment since I'm up to my ears with a very important commitment to a longstanding client of mine but once that's over and a bit more money is in the bank, I seriously do plan to build a prototype to turn my ideas into tangible examples [sic] of where I believe things need to go next.

I'm writing this post for several reasons, not the least of which is that I'd very much like to find other entrepreneurs out there - not just software developers but technology company entrepreneurs - to network with and see if there's some common ground to move forward with beginning in 2011 Q3 or Q4.  If so, please do drop me a line via the e-mail address shown on this blog and introduce yourself.  I'm interested to meet other interesting, sincere people who are also willing to put in the hard work to build something truly great!

How to Get a Footer to Behave Like You Expect

When developing web applications I must confess that dealing with CSS issues is amongst my least favourite things.  I understand the basics of CSS, of course, but take no pleasure in learning every last detail.  And don't even get me started about the differences in behaviour between browsers!!!

With the web app I've been working on for the past few years I had a partial solution for a footer on pages of varying heights.  It "kind of" worked the way I wanted it to but not entirely.  After trying a few different approaches to get it working, with no success, I just added it to my "To Do" list and left it be.  But recent testing by others on different sized screens revealed it to be much more of a problem than I had originally thought.

So I did a new search and came across a website devoted entirely to this very problem: CSS Sticky Footer

The solution they present is straight forward, easy to implement, and works great ... at least in the IE8 environment that my client will be using.  Definitely check it out if you're experiencing problems with footer placement and/or behaviour.