September 29, 2011

State of the Shake

Hey! Another one. Let’s see:

  1. DNS outage this week: bad. New DNS server coming: good! That was unpleasant, but it was partly our service’s mistake, partly my own dumb mistake for setting the TTLs (time to live) so low. You can think of TTLs as a note to your browser* when it should update where to find our IP address. Normally you use a cached version and ask for an update every so often. We were doing some DNS work and I set it to such a short time that the second our service had a hiccup, nobody could find the site. On the plus side, with such low TTLs we were back quickly.

  2. Spam is still an issue. I thought I had them licked but they keep figuring things out. Onward!

  3. What is next: we have many things planned but are always interested in hearing what you have to say. Please let us know what’s important to you and what isn’t working.

We‘re adding people at the fastest rate since our launch. That means you guys are telling friends about us and sharing images on Twitter or Facebook. Thank you so much for that. We love you guys.

* I know. Easier to explain this way.

September 26, 2011

DNS Provider Outage (We’re back!)

Our DNS provider has gone offline. We can‘t even reach their admin console.

You can hit MLKSHK with this IP address:

http://50.19.100.254/

We‘re very sorry for this. I don‘t have an ETA yet but will keep you updated.

All systems are back to normal. I updated Twitter and my personal Twitter account but forgot to swing back here. We’d love to hear of your beloved DNS providers in the comments if you have the chance. Going to do some research this week…

September 10, 2011

State of the Shake

Hi Friends!

It’s been a while since we’ve posted, for that we apologize. We’ve been extremely busy the past month and a half as we had to return to consulting to pay some of the bills.

MLKSHK saw a tremendous amount of growth and traffic last month. Over 1 million unique visitors hit the site as the sheer size of our database of images means it’s very viral-friendly and usually there are a few images getting a ton of traffic.

We have pushed a few new features we’d like to tell you more about. Some you might have noticed, some you might not have.

First, we have become very attractive to spammers for obvious reasons. Because of that we’ve been spending time trying to knock them down. It’s not easy, especially with such a small team as ours, but I think we are doing a pretty good job of keeping the comments clean.

If you see something please report it. Either through the email address or hit us on Twitter with a link: @mlkshk.

Next is something we have been meaning to do for a while with the bookmarks:

You can now jump back to a previous bookmark and begin reading forwards. We’re still working out the kinks, and thinking about how to better present the experience, but we find it INCREDIBLY useful and we hope you will too.

Note that it won’t work for your old bookmarks, only new ones as they are created from this Saturday forwards.

June 27, 2011

State of the Shake

Here’s what we did last week.

  • Yearly subscriptions.
  • Significantly sped up page loading by generating summaries of counts. In short: perma-link pages went from 100ms to 20ms to load. What this also means is we can now present total views/likes/saves on your files. We’re doing that this week.
  • Speed. Oh yeah!
  • Release the API. GO GET IT.

Here’s what we’re doing this week:

  • Add Facebook sharing button. Did this in the morning. Seems to be working but if you have any feedback about it we’d appreciate it.
  • Bookmarklet. Finally, a way to share files and videos without a plugin. Also good for when you’re on a mobile device.
  • New user welcome pages, home page, and finding people and shakes to follow pages.
  • User counts: total likes, views, and shared files.
  • List of shakes on their user page.
  • Making it clearer on friend shakes where the file also lives (e.g, User shake)

I think I’m missing something. We’ll update this page if anything changes. We do still want to add the ability to rotate an image and auto-rotate if there is orientation data. The priority is just lower.

June 21, 2011

You Can Help Us

MLKSHK is a community that’s about sharing images and video for fun. It’s not Yet Another Photo Sharing Service, though of course you’re welcome to do that here, too. This post is about us, where we’re at, and how we need your help.

MLKSHK actually got its start about a year and a half ago when I quit my job at Federated Media. I’d been at FM from the beginning, saw it grow and become an amazing fountain of cash for some independent publishers who at the time had only been in it for the joy of publishing and creating. When John asked me to join that was my hope: we could build tools and an infrastructure to help lots of people (and friends) achieve editorial and financial independence.

And holy fuck did they. Some of that original lineup like Techcrunch and Gigaom graduated to being full fledged independent entities. Others continue to just kill it, like Dooce, BoingBoing, and Metafilter.

BOOM SUCCESS

I left FM for the boring reasons that people leave companies: FM was done for me. We started with four people in a garage and had exploded into this monster with HR policies. Great. I’m a smaller company kind of guy.

So naturally I thought: I want to do it again!

My darling and patient wife was nervous but I assured her I had enough contracts to pay bills for a few months and if that didn’t work out I could always find a job someplace. I’m a nice guy. I know how to get shit done. You’d probably like me.

The plan was (insert chuckle) I’d work for clients and slowly build a product and then go full-time with the product when it was ready (insert chuckle and a whimper).

A month or so in I realized that wasn’t going to happen, so we decided we would spend 2010 just working for people. One project was to build the backend for the AMAZING Gourmet iPad app and we got to work with some smart people at Condé Nast and Activate. Another was to build a stupid Twitter app conceived by someone who had never used Twitter and didn’t care about Twitter. So yeah, up and down. Whatever, it’s money. Gimme. By December 2010, we had finished up our contracts and decided to dive into MLKSHK full-time.

Here’s where MLKSHK is different from other sites where you can share pictures, and from “startups” in general: we didn’t take any money to do it. On a shoe string, we managed to build and ship and then keep shipping what you see today.

MLKSHK is an amazing product that I’m incredibly proud of and the community is growing quickly (we’ve been doing 50% growth each week for the last month) and using the site because they get that we can deliver a good, beautifully designed product with just the right features. Also there are pictures of cats.

Pertinent, I believe, side-note: I grew up relatively poor. My dad is a barber and my mom managed low-income housing for HUD. My parents were incredibly resourceful people who managed to keep us from realizing we were poor, and I think that’s what I inherited from them. Get Things Done without wasting money. Work hard. Do it yourself. Do a good job and you’ll be rewarded (did I mention I also grew up Catholic? Hah!)

Because of this I didn’t want to take someone else’s money for an idea that could only happen if I took full responsibility. My wife and I weren’t going to be able to do it our way without doing it with our money. Because if we had reached the end and the site just wasn’t there, the users just didn’t care, then we could say, “Fuck it” and shut it down. Happily that isn’t the case, and MLKSHK is doing quite well right now.

I am writing today because we need your help. About 3% of all users have purchased paid accounts, but we need much more than that to stay afloat. The site’s technical costs like bandwidth and servers are actually covered by that 3% but we need much more to be able to work on MLKSHK full time. We’re asking for your help because we can’t consult and work on MLKSHK at the same time. You can get a paid account here: http://mlkshk.com/account/upgrade.

For $24 a year you get a site and service run by people who care about their community. We’re people who care about delivering a good product and who are committed to building out the site for as long as there’s a community that cares about MLKSHK. We have an amazing list of places we want to take the site but we won’t be able to do it if we can’t devote all our time to it. And to be clear, we’re not against getting money or funding from the right people; we just want to be able to do MLKSHK the right way.

If you’ve been watching this blog, you’ll see that we ship features nearly every day. We are laser focused on making the site responsive and fun for our users. We want to keep doing this. Help us.

In summary:

  • Middle fingers to the over-funded pivoting startups.
  • We need you to create an account and upgrade to paid. Preferable a year for $24.
  • We need you to tell your friends. If you are under age get your parents’ credit cards and use those.

June 20, 2011

State of the Shake

Here's what we did last week:

  • Move friends to the front page, removing the dashboard view.
  • Ask to join shake. With all the notifications and messaging.
  • NSFW Flag and hiding
  • Deleting comments.

Here's what we're doing this week:

  • Yearly subscriptions.
  • Counts! Counts! Counts! Views, Favorites.
  • Speed. Speeding up some things after having a popular file on Twitter we had a flood of activity that caused some slowness. We hate that.
  • Some traffic growing alterations that we'll point out as we roll them out. There are a lot of them.

Still important:

  • Rotate image and auto-rotate if there is orientation data.
  • Release the API. Announce more API related stuff.
  • Popular, interesting, and trending files.

June 17, 2011

The NSFW Flag

We just rolled out a feature we expect to evolve over the next few weeks. If you check out your settings you'll see a new option called "Remove NSFW Filter".

Files can now be marked as NSFW to help others browse MLKSHK at work. You can also mark your own files to cover them with a black box.

Use your best judgement. As we said we'll be tuning this feature so it works as well as it can in a large community site like MLKSHK. This is just a first step to make the site easier for you to look at files in a public environment where something might, uh, pop out.

Screen shot 2011 06 17 at 4 40 13 PM

June 13, 2011

State of the Shake

Here’s what we did and fixed last week:

  • Likes are duplicated on your favorites view due to last week’s likes modification.
  • You can’t follow your own group shakes so you miss out on contributions.
  • If you’re a paid subscriber you’re going to be able to create 10 shakes rather than 3.
  • Saving directly to specific shakes from your friend shake.

Here is what just went live:

  • Move friends to the front page, removing the dashboard view.

Here are some things that are very nearly ready to go out the door and should get done this week:

  • Ask to join shake.
  • Yearly subscriptions.

Stuff still on the list for later:

  • Rotate image and auto-rotate if there is orientation data.
  • Emailing iPhone, Android, and other Twitter developers to put MLKSHK uploading and viewing in their app.
  • Release the API. Announce more API related stuff.
  • NSFW flag
  • Popular, interesting, and trending files.
  • Ability to close shake down that you’ve created.

And, two items to keep an eye on:

  • Managing comments. Both editing and deleting.
  • Counts. Both likes and views represented in one spot.

June 06, 2011

Weekly MLKSHK Roadmap

One of the things about having such a small team yet and trying to be as responsive as possible to users is that sometimes we have to push neat features and projects aside to take care of some important issues. This weekend and last week a couple came to light and so we’re focusing on the first half of the week on them.

First, here’s what we did last week:

  • Inline comments and commenting. No need to jump to the perma-link page.
  • Saves and likes also inline.
  • Likes are shared up to the original file uploader.
  • API updates for caching requests (work still in process)
  • And I almost finished the invitation to a shake request, not quite done.

But, here’s some things we need to work on ASAP:

  • Likes are duplicated on your favorites view due to last week’s likes modification.
  • You can’t follow your own group shakes so you miss out on contributions.
  • If you’re a paid subscriber you’re going to be able to create 10 shakes rather than 3.

Here are some things that are very nearly ready to go out the door and might get done this week:

  • Ask to join shake.
  • Saving directly to specific shakes from your friend shake.
  • Yearly subscriptions.

Stuff still on the list for later:

  • Rotate image and auto-rotate if there is orientation data.
  • Emailing iPhone, Android, and other Twitter developers to put MLKSHK uploading and viewing in their app.
  • Release the API. Announce more API related stuff.
  • Move friends to the front page, removing the dashboard view.
  • NSFW flag
  • Popular, interesting, and trending files.
  • Ability to close shake down that you’ve created.

Yesterday (Sunday) was our 3rd highest traffic day yet; behind our launch and day after launch. I feel like this week is when the real traffic is going to hit us and so we’re excited to welcome new visitors. Please tell your friends about us and share your files!

May 31, 2011

ShakeKit for Mac OSX and iOS

We’re very happy to finally be able to tell you that Justin Williams of Second Gear Software has made an Objective-C wrapper for MLKSHK. Here it is on Github: carpeaqua/ShakeKit.

We’re not very good Objective-C developers, in fact we’re probably terrible, but we can troubleshoot server-side API issues you might be having.

Now go build some apps and tell us about them!