Alex Barnett blog


June 2007 - Posts

The Fourth Branch

If you read my blog regularly you'll know I rarely touch the topic of politics, let alone American politics. However, the most recent Constitutional controversy is just too big a deal to let pass without comment. If your aren't familiar with the "Fourth Branch" fire (ignited by Dick Cheney's most recent attempt to redefine the level accountability of and transparency into his office) I suggest you get up to speed with the clip below where Jon Stewart shared his hilarious interpretation of the story.


In my three years since my move the US I have attempted to learn about the people and the ideas behind the foundation of the United States. I'm finding the topic fascinating, naturally comparing and contrasting the resulting political system (a seemingly rapidly evolving one) to that of the UK. I think I've gotten past the "this system is better than that" phase and have learned to accept the US system for what it is. That said, I do miss the US equivalent of a Prime Minister's question time and believe US politics would be much improved if such a regular grilling occured - if nothing else for the entertianment value alone.

As an objective outsider (I try), my observation of the Fourth Branch hiatus (and my witnessing of previous attempts to redefine the Constitution and the power of the Presidential office in the last few years) has led me to believe that Cheney really is a nutcase. A very powerful and very smart nutcase who is set on corrupting the system to increase his freedom to do whatever he chooses while minimizing his accountability to the citizens that put his boss and party in power. The audaciousness of this latest move is stunning.

What Chenney and his party has to keep in mind however is that the changes he's been putting in place will be used against his party by the party that next gets in. And of course it is US citizens that are the ultimate losers in this continued "scope creep" effort as they increasingly lose visibility into workings of the Presidential office (the excecutive branch) and its accountability, which of course he is now denying he is a part of. Wake up America!!!

Posted: Jun 27 2007, 08:23 AM by alexbarnett | with 4 comment(s)
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Back from a short blogging break

Sorry for my recent silence on the blog - a combination of lots of travel (tomorrow will be my second full weekend in Utah since moving here three months ago) and the usual start-up madness has caused a need for an occasional (and healthy) break from blogging.

Matt Asay's post has motivated me to push one short blog post of my own where he shared thoughts after the first day of a two-day Advisory Group session we're having here at Bungee Labs. Matt pointed out this blog post by eBay's Curtis Gavin where Curtis describes how we meet up with some members of the eBay web services team at the eBay Developer Conference a couple of weeks ago:

"A fun thing happened while I and a couple colleagues were waiting for our next blogging/video taping gig. We stopped by the BungeeLabs booth to check out their web-based on-demand development environment, Bungee Connect. We heard it was cool, so wanted to see what it was all about.

...My colleagues and I suggested they try our new eBay Shopping Web Services. The smaller WSDL and faster, more responsive APIs seemed like a good fit for demo'ing. They were up for the challenge.

...Start to finish, this all took less than 20 minutes. Not bad for working with a new API. And, as Brad pointed out, we never left the web browser!"

It turns out we were the first non-eBayers to try to develop a sample app using the newly launched eBay Shopping Web Services WSDL - and Brad Hintze (our marketing manager) did this in a snap - most of the 20 minutes involved locating the correct URL.


Well there you have it...Nothing earth-shattering I know. My first blog post after a break is always hard work...a kind of "blogger's-block" sets in - the longer I wait, the harder I find it to break the silence...believe it or not I actually get nervous when writing my first blog post after a break...weird. Hopefully I can get back to blogging regularly now.


Update - noticed another post by Matt discussing a point that came up during our Advisory Group session yesterday:

"Cornelius said something that I found brilliant. In terms of developing community, Cornelius suggested that

You have the make the community visible to itself.

In other words, a developer is much more likely to stay with a community if she actually feels like she's not alone.

...One of the primary factors in a community's staying power is the ability of the participants to actually participate meaningfully with others in that community. This seems obvious, but it's surprising at how few companies actually get this right. Most "communities" bowl alone. You go into a project's forum to consume an application or information, and then you leave to go do your real work. For a community to succeed, the "real work" needs to happen on-site, in the community. It's not something you access and then leave to be productive. The productivity has to come while in the midst of the community."

The "Cornelius" mentioned is Cornelius Willis, Microsoft's first Director of Platform Marketing (in the mid-90's) and more recently VP SourceLabs. Cornelius is one of 6 (including Matt) hugely experienced advisors we're lucky enough to have access to as we navigate this early phase of Bungee Lab's public life.

More APIs from eBay, PayPal and Skype

More travel, now in Boston where I'm attending the eBay Developers Conference.

Couple of interesting data points and announcements from this morning's keynote presentation and Product announcements:

  • 9.2 billion API calls and 14.28 billion $USD gross merchandive volume for Q1 of 2007. Phew!
  • eBay Shopping Web Services -  a suite of faster, more responsive APIs that makes searching on eBay significantly faster and allows developers to easily create buying applications
  • New JavaScript and Flash Developer Centers - making it easier for JavaScript developers to access the eBay Web Services platform; Flash Developer Center launches next month
  • eBay Bidding API - qualified developers can enable bidding on eBay from anywhere beginning in Q3
  • Call Limit increase - Production calls increased from 10,000 per month to ~150,000 per month (based on a daily limit of 5,000), allowing developers to rapidly scale up their applications
  • eBay Client Alerts - lightweight, near real-time alerts about platform activity launches limited beta releasing in Q4

Om Malik also reports on what he considers the more interesting API announcements from PayPal - the enabling of mobile checkoutDamon Williams explains:

"Mobile payments aren't new to PayPal. We launched PayPal Mobile last year, with the Text2Buy and Text2Give features that enabled SMS-based payments. Mobile Checkout is much different though. It’s an actual WAP 2.0 enabled checkout process that any merchant that has an m-commerce site can implement. These new APIs truly opens up our platform to developers working in the mobile space."

And then there's Skype Extras - plug-ins written by independent third-party developers that can extend Skype functionality for end users. Currently the Skype developer blog hasn't been updated with any news on this.

Other news is that Damon Williams has announced the PayPal Certified Developer Program.

Lots going on.

Posted: Jun 11 2007, 12:39 PM by alexbarnett | with 5 comment(s)
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More Google / partnership rumours

It looks like the Google / partnership rumours are stirring up again this week, with a conf call scheduled for this Tuesday AM causing the renewed suspicions.

Normally, I wouldn't be so interested in "gossip" until I hear actual announcements made, however this potiential partnership intruiges me. Some of the speculation reported this weekend includes variatons on the following themes:

  1. Integrating Google's Apps suite with's hosted CRM
  2. Google potentially looking to acquire at some point
  3. Google to get an anti-Office toehold in the enterprise out of the deal and Salesforce would get an in with SMBs
  4. Apex, Salesforce's software language, might be part of the deal and be used to create business applications for AppExchange, Salesforce's online marketplace for third-party software programs

Given previous partnership efforts between Google and around Google's Search Appliance and AdWords,'s focus on the SMB space and Google's intent to develop further its B2B market opportunities, I'd say #1 is most likely, #3 would make sense but I don't see how the pieces would fit together, #4 as unlikely and #2 (Google acquires as highly unlikely. I'd also add my speculation - that new APIs might be announced as part of whatever the news is on Tuesday.

Update 6/4/2007:

The actual news turns out to be much less interesting than the speculated outcomes: Adwords integration with Salesforce Group Edition.

Bungee Connect - Beta Opening Day

Last night the Bungee Labs team invited the first group of developers to Bungee Connect, officially opening up the early access beta program. The initial group of early access customers is small, but we intend to ramp up quickly as we carefully monitor the system for performance and scaling, adding groups of 50 until all registered beta developers get their invites (we currently have around two thousand early access sign-ups ready to get their invites).

The adjective "exciting" tends to be overused (I'm guilty of that), but it really was an "exciting" moment to send our first set of access invites last night and move on to the next phase of Bungee Connect's evolution. The pic below shows the moment we (Ted in fact) hit send on the first set of invites to our beta customers from Lyle's hotel room in Sunnyvale and doing so (as Ted says) with high fives and sighs of relief mixed with no small amount of anticipation in the hotel room and back at the ranch.

From left to right: Alex "me" Barnett, Ted "not-that-reverend" Haeger, Lyle "on-the-ball" Ball and Brad "we-need-hints" Hintze.

Now we've got Bungee Connect to this point, it's time to forge ahead with supporting the beta developers, responding to and collating feedback, work through the engineering and usability improvements, fixing bugs and known issues, and advance the user education content and experience so developers can get productive as quickly as possible. We have a lot of work ahead of us before we get to GA, but it's great to hit this milestone for the whole team - very energizing.

Bungee logo



In the meantime, we've been encouraged by the interest and reactions of those who have been able to get sneak previews of Bungee Connect prior to the early access beta. Below are samples with links to some of the coverage we've received from tech media and bloggers.

Mike Gunderloy, Web Worker Daily:

"...I’m impressed with what I’ve seen here. It’s difficult to be 100% certain without having test-driven it myself, but based on unscripted demos, they appear to have nailed the IDE experience very well. And the set of capabilities and APIs they’re targeting are clearly core to many of today’s web applications. It looks to me like Bungee-based development will be a way to get from zero to “deployed” in record time, and that’s the sort of competitive advantage that developers need to keep an eye on."

Richard MacManus, Read/WriteWeb:

"As an industry analyst and someone keenly interested in where the Web is going, Bungee seems to me to auger a new breed of web app - i.e. highly connected apps that utilize a variety of external APIs and web services, from service providers like Google and Amazon. This will ultimately result in more choices for end users, and more innovation in web apps and online businesses."

Phil Butler, Profy"

"Perhaps the greatest innovation in services like Bungee rests in their potential ability to drive a more interconnected Web. Economically, large and small entities will benefit in the long run from a more flexible Web development system than that in place now. Bungee Connect is a very professional and well thought out application of technology and innovation."

Erik Dolecki

"The IDE is very sophisticated -- you should check this technology out."

Paul Robert, Infoworld:

"What Bungee offers is a professional quality, Web-based application development environment that combines development, testing, and deployment through a single, Web-browser-based interface. Developers can do layout and Web page design, create interactive Web applications with AJAX features such as drag-and-drop and right-mouse clicking without complex coding. Bungee Connect also allows developers to quickly integrate multiple Web services to create whole new applications."

Dick Wisinger, Formtek Blog 

"It is unique in the on-demand developer environment that it provides.  It doesn’t require developer setups on client machines.  There are no web servers to set up, no libraries to install, patch and manage.  The developer works through the browser and can deploy the application from the browser."

Ben Hoelting 

"SAAS for the web developer.  Who’d of thought"

Podcast interview with Ted Haeger at LinuxWorld, two video interviews, including a demo of Bungee Connect at PodTech and more coverage at Network World.

M. David Peterson,

"Things are about to get interesting. Get ready."

Ryan Stewart, Adobe Systems

"...this thing is off the hook...Bungee Labs developed a web-based IDE that makes it really easy to hook into web services and build an application. The IDE is really, really cool and you can throw together an application pretty quickly and leverage power features like data binding."

Dana Gardner, ZDNET blogs

"The Bungee Labs approach has been a solution waiting to happen. All the ingredients are now in place. This will provide the means to create and test RIAs for many facets of businesses — large enterprises, SMBs, ISVs, other SaaS players, cottage-industry hacks-for-bucks. You name it. Bungee Labs is targeting this all at SMBs, but I see larger ultimate appeal."


You can sign up for Bungee Connect early access beta through Bungee Labs site.

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