Video: How Open Source Projects Survive Poisonous People (And You Can Too)

Since getting a 80G iPod about a month ago two weeks ago, I’ve been really getting into watching the Google Tech Talks on Google Video. I recently watched How Open Source Projects Survive Poisonous People (And You Can Too), a lecture given by Brian Fitzpatrick and Ben Collins-Sussman from the Subversion team (now both Google employees) that summarizes a lot of information in Karl Fogels book Producing Open Source Software: How to Run a Successful Free Software Project.

If you haven’t had time to pick up and read Karls book, this video would be a good primer to some of the concepts in it and could very well motivate you to pick it up. Its an excellent book and one that I thoroughly enjoyed reading.

Google Mail for Domains

Well, its been about a week since I received notification of my ability to use the beta of Google Mail for Domains. Once again, Google has outdone themselves.

I moved the domain over to Gmail for Domains on Monday or Tuesday of last week. I had some issues with DNS populating accordingly but after about 48 hours and one (yes, only one) email to the gmail support team, I had the domain up and running on the new service.

Setting up new accounts on your domain is a breeze, thanks to the simple UI design within the control panel. It really is a lesson in simplicity, with nothing in the admin pages that doesn’t need to be there. Its really the bare minimum to get someone up and running on an account. Its kind of refreshing to have something as large as an email domain to administer to have such a minimalistic, common sense user interface. I was quite impressed.

Each account on the domain has a standard 2G limit on space. According to the documentation, these accounts do not grow when you hit your limit. Quite frankly, even with the volume of email I get from mailing lists and the like, I’ve never hit my limit on my normal gmail account anyway, so I’m not too worried about it. Unlike me, most of my family keeps their inboxes pretty clean. I’m a pack rat and keep everything.

This is a nice service and I think I’ll stick with it. Its probably the best email system and easiest admin service I have used thus far.

Build Google and Yahoo Maps Without Coding

I stumbled across MapBuilder as I was browsing the Google Code site today. MapBuilder was referenced as one of the sites featured projects. The application is pretty interesting, allowing you to visually create a map using either the Yahoo Maps or Google Maps API and then to export the source code for inclusion on your web site. There is also an option to host your maps directly on MapBuilder and reference them from your site with a button that links to a list of all of your available maps.

There are quite a few things that are really cool about the site:

  1. Supports both Yahoo! Maps and Google Maps.
  2. No need to learn the details of the mapping API’s – just create your maps and go.
  3. MapBuilder does geo-coding, using the Yahoo! Geocode API’sand while Google Map API’s require lattitude and longitude in order to do anything with them.
  4. MapBuilder does the “driving directions to / from here” for you. No need to create custom code for this functionality.
  5. MapBuilder will also do custom development for you if you want something different from what the basic services provide. I’m assuming there is a fee involved, but I couldn’t find reference to it.
  6. The site facilitates building communities around maps that people create on the site.
  7. Best of all, it allows the “common man” to include mapping capabilities on their web sites without having to know how to code in Javascript and HTML.

MapBuilder is a really good example of new, unintended possibilities that are exposed when web applications are designed as a set of API’s using the web as a development platform rather than the siloed approach that we have used historically. This application was written by a third party not affiliated at all with Google or Yahoo!, but because of the way their applications were written they have the possibility of an audience that they did not originally target by allowing someone to build applications around their base functionality.

One should note that creation of a user account is required in order to use the full functionality of the MapBuilder site. They basically ask you for a username, password, and your email address. Thats it. Registration for either a Google Maps API key or Yahoo! Maps API key is also required if you would like to host your map on your own web site rather than hosting it on MapBuilder directly.