links for 2008-05-12

Facebook is raising another 100 million (for a total of about 500 million) to get another 50,000 servers. That’s like what – 2000$/server I suppose. Sounds right. Google is supposedly adding 500,000 new servers a year, Microsoft 200,000.
Scaling cheaply is a great competitive advantage.

If you’re applying to Founder’s Co-op, you should know that our default preference in terms of number of founders is as follows:

  1. 2 founders: 1 technical and 1 business
  2. 3 founders: 2 technical and 1 business
  3. 4 founders: 2 technical and 2 business
  4. 1 founder: 1 technical

Sounds right, although for 4 founders I’d prefer 2 technical, 1 business and 1 user experience/product.

Amazon S3 now lets you copy, rename or move objects in S3 buckets. The Amazon guys are on a roll, and have been so for a few years now. I’m still amazed nobody (Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, …) has come even close to what they offer.

Fred Wilson: “Tim makes a passionate argument for “tackling big hard problems” in
his keynote. But Dave is correct in his assertion that the best way to
do that is one step at a time. Think about the way Linux was built and continues to be built. One
step at a time. Each one looks trivial. Taken together it’s awesome.
Same with wikipedia. Or a social net like Facebook.”

Good notes of a talk by Amy Jo Kim: Putting the Fun in Functional: Applying Game Mechanics to Social Software.

Kim recognizes social game mechanics in the following forms:

  1. collections (Flickr lets you collect photos to demonstrate your aesthetic savvy),
  2. points (Digg lets you demonstrate insight into what’s going to be popular), and social points given by other players (Flickr’s metric of “interestingness” are points generated by others based on how many people have seen your video, shared it, etc),
  3. feedback demonstrating mastery (Guitar Hero, Karaoke Revolution, Rock Band, Dance Dance Revolution offer compelling visual and auditory cues),
  4. exchanges both implicit (comments on FaceBook) and explicit (MySpace “Add Me as Friend”), and
  5. customization (MySpace profiles, avatars in WoW)

Here are the slides:

I had a great chat with Eugene Kim who works at IGN (a fascinating website) at the IA summit – he’s blogging about UX and stuff, check it out. With his experiences on IGN with community, he should have some interesting insights.

I heard two stories lately. One about an entrepreneur who got rich making a system that works like this: you call a phone number, then you get access to a website as long as you leave the line open. When you close it, access is cut off. You get charged because the number you call is a for-pay number. The second story is about Africa. You work in the city, your mom lives in a village and is poor. There’s someone selling minutes on a cellphone in the village. If you want to send your mom money ($5), you buy a phonecard, but don’t use the code. Instead you call the guy with the cellphone, give him the code and ask him to pay your mom. He pays your mom 4.90$. Micropayments over distance.

Blogging about your kids: “Will you resent me for this website? Absolutely. And I have spent hours
and days and months of my life considering this, weighing your
resentment against the good that can come from being open and honest
about what it’s like to be your mother, the good for you, the good for
me, and the good for other women who read what I write here and walk
away feeling less alone. And I have every reason to believe that one
day you will look at the thousands of pages I have written about my
love for you, the thousands of pages other women have written about
their own children, and you’re going to be so proud that we were brave
enough to do this. We are an army of educated mothers who have finally
stood up and said pay attention, this is important work, this is hard,
frustrating work and we’re not going to sit around on our hands waiting
for permission to do so. We have declared that our voices matter.”

Natural building: Apart from that, there is a good feeling we get from natural buildings which is difficult to describe. Even though conditioned to prefer the new, the shiny, and the precise, we respond at a deep level to unprocessed materials, to idiosyncrasy, and to the personal thought and care expressed in craftsmanship. Nearly all the natural buildings I have seen, regardless of the level of expertise of the builders, are remarkably beautiful.

The first thing I ate when back in Belgium was a nice portion of fantastic french fries with a generous helping of mayonaise. Yea.

Halfway through Prince starts to rock like crazy. He’s still a brilliant guitar player.

Our experiences flying from Europe to the US and then South America with an 8-month old baby (5 tips to make it easy)

We went on a 3 week trip with Amelia during the past month, from Brussels to New York, then from New York to Colombia, and back. We were a bit worried about all the flying – would she cry a lot? Would she be uncomfortable? But it turns out flying with a baby is super easy – at least it was for us, this time around.

When you fly with a baby, you (almost) get treated like a first class passenger. You get to board the plane before all the other (economy) passengers, if you requested a bassinet you’ll have more legspace, it’s not bad. All in all, the flights with the baby where at least as good, and sometimes a lot better, than the same flights without her.

First tip: call your airline in advance (at least 24 hours) to request a bassinet (a little baby bed that is attached to the wall). Not all airlines/planes provide them, but if they do, you’re gonna be fine. Each plane can only have 2 (depending on the type of plane) bassinets, so you want to try to reserve one for yourself.

They’ll put the bassinet up after the plane has taken off.

The bassinet is great for the baby to sit in to play, and even better for them to sleep. The soft movements of the plane made our 8-month old baby sleep great.

Here are some pictures of Amelia playing and sleeping in the bassinet:

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As for toys, she loves plastic bottles, plastic cups, spoons etcetera, so that wasn’t a problem. Here’s her sleeping (which is what she did most of the time, which was great).

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If you can’t get a bassinet (we didn’t get one on the NY-Colombia leg of the trip) you’ll have to carry the baby yourself – much more tiring.

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Second tip (and this isn’t just for planes): take a baby sling. It’s a great way to quiet down the baby when she isn’t in happy mode, or to get some sleep:

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Third tip: if there are other babies on board, don’t be afraid to socialize. A guy in a seat next to us made a fuss, but if you can’t handle two babies playing for half an hour (they weren’t even crying or being loud), get on your own private plane buddy. We also put one of the sheets that come on each seat on the floor so the babies could play for a while.

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Fourth tip: when boarding, go line up after the first class passengers have boarded, most likely they’ll let you in first.

Fifth tip: breastfeeding is of course super easy – no bottles to warm etc. But if you give bottles they can easily warm them up in the plane. Also remember that airplanes make you dehydrated, so drink extra and make sure the baby gets extra fluids too.

Sixth tip: strollers and babyseats. You don’t have to check in your stroller, you can take it all the way to the gate and to the door of the plane. They’ll then put a tag on it and put it in the luggage, and when you leave the plane you wait there and they’ll had you your stroller back. Easy.s

Final tip: don’t forget to back the baby.

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ps: as for the jetlag (Europe-US), it’s not too hard on the baby. She takes lots of naps anyway during the day, so she was alright. The hardest bit is always US -> Europe. We arrived yesterday morning, were jetlagged all day. Amelia slept during the night, but woke up at 4 for about an hour, so I carried her in the sling. Then she slept until 12 noon (so did we). I think the jetlag affects her less than it affects us.

Have you done long flights with your baby? Leave a comment!

(ps: the best parenting blog I read is Her Grace. No parenting tips, just stories. Check it out.)