Simperium: Real-time Syncing from Automattic

simperium300Earlier, I had mentioned Automattic’s two great acquisitions of 2013, Cloudup and Simplenote. Part of the Simplenote acquisition was the data layer behind it, Simperium.

Simperium is technical magic. It’s a data layer which, as simplified as I can make it, provides real-time syncing. If you were to open the Simplenote app on your phone right next to the app on your computer (or the web app), you could type on one device and see the letters appear instantly on the other screen in real-time. Simperium isn’t limited to just text, and you can tie it into any application or service you’re developing. I won’t get into the technical aspects of Simperium, because I wouldn’t do it justice, but please watch the video embedded below for more details.

Without Simperium, Simplenote wouldn’t be what it is today, and I’m sure you’ll be seeing Simperium as the backbone of more top applications and services in the years to come.

Simplenote: Free Synced Notes from Automattic

simplenoteWhen I last spoke about Cloudup, I had mentioned that it was one of two great acquisitions by Automattic in 2013. The second acquisition was Simplenote, a fantastically simple and free note taking service which effortlessly syncs in real-time across official apps on Mac, iOS, and Android, with support for third-party apps across other systems, and a web app accessible from any browser.

I use Simplenote for a variety of things, from todo lists, to meeting notes, to quick and simple blog post rough drafts (like this one was a few hours ago). If I need to store text in some fashion, I almost always use Simplenote, because I know I’ll be able to find it, no matter what device I have in my hands. To say that Simplenote is part of my daily life would be an understatement.

If you’re looking for a new way to keep your notes and lists organized and synced, try Simplenote!

Cloudup: Free File Sharing from Automattic

cloudupLast year, Automattic made two amazing acquisitions, and one of those was Cloudup, an incredible file sharing solution with a variety of unique features that really let it step out and shine as a must-have tool.

At its most basic, Cloudup allows you to quickly upload files and provide a simple URL to view them, but it’s much more than that. Cloudup allows you to organize files into “streams,” like folders on your desktop, where you can share the whole stream via one URL without having to share multiple file URLs. Cloudup also provides a URL for your file or stream as soon as you start, so you can share the URL immediately if you’re in a hurry and can’t wait for the upload to complete. If the upload is still going when the recipient views the URL, they will simply see the same realtime progress indicator that you see. Plus, if you’re handy with the command line, Cloudup even has its own command line tool.

I use Cloudup for a variety of things every single day. Usually, I’m either using Cloudup to share a screenshot with someone who wrote in for WordAds support, or I’m sending along a single Cloudup stream URL in an email instead of attaching multiple files. Cloudup’s app and mobile-friendly site make file uploads and sharing so easy that I sometimes use it to quickly share a screenshot or screencast in Automattic’s internal communication platforms. Speaking of which, did you know that you can embed any Cloudup file or even an entire stream in a WordPress.com blog by just pasting the URL into your post? Well, now you do, and if you have a self-hosted WordPress.org blog, you can use Jetpack to add the same functionality.

Cloudup changed the way I work and the way I email, it’s just that good. Cloudup is 100% free, though it is currently invite-only, but I really want it to make a difference in your lives too, so here’s a magical link which will automatically fill in a code allowing you to sign up without a direct invitation. Hurry, this code is only good for 50 uses!

Revenue, Ads, and Team Switching

Three years ago, I became a Happiness Engineer at Automattic, focussing on WordPress.com. I had a lot of fun with my colleagues, helping folks learn to use the greatest free blogging platform ever. Fun fact, WordPress.com is both free and a business, we have bills to pay, and businesses need money to operate. A few months back, I made a big switch from our Happiness Engineering team to a team we call Rads (Revenue and Ads), so that I can both have a hand in the financial stability of WordPress.com and keep the terribly horrid, tasteless, and distracting ads that have become all too common elsewhere away from your free blog.

Rads is led by Jon Burke and features the talents of Egill Erlendsson, Marcus Kazmierczak, Derek Springer, and our celebrity designer shared amongst teams, Joen Asmussen. As part of the team, I provide support for WordAds, our advertising program for WordPress.com bloggers, and work directly with ad networks for a variety of things. That last bit is fun and worth a whole post itself. Let’s just say that some networks are very good at what they do, while others have absolutely no clue.

Part of the work I do with ad networks is handle bad ad reports. We strive to provide only family-friendly advertising on WordPress.com, and we have contracts with our ad networks to provide just that. If we ever receive a complaint about an ad that is not family-friendly, I make sure that the ad (and sometimes the ad network itself) is immediately removed from WordPress.com.

Now, I know some of you who are reading this, and you’re going to ask, “Hey James, didn’t you just tell us how you never use ad blockers last month? Are you trying to trick us into viewing the ads on WordPress.com?” Goodness no, and shame on you for asking. You should know me better than that. I have never used ad blockers, because there are free sites that I rely on whose only source of revenue is from ads. I want them to stay in business, so I don’t block their ads, or I purchase some sort of ad-free subscription if available. Anyway, there’s also an advantage to this for my job now. As a daily “consumer” of ads, I know what kind of crap is out there, I know how annoying that crap is, and I can make sure it never winds up on WordPress.com. I can also immediately investigate the possibility of running newer less-distracting ads on WordPress.com as newer ad technologies make themselves known.

So, now you know where I am. I spend every day working with these awesome people to keep WordPress.com free and to keep lame ads away from your free blog.

Rads 2013

Photo by Jeff Bowen

Automattic Meetup 2013

Automattic is a globally distributed company with over 200 employees, so it’s nice to get together once a year as a company to build great things. This year, we gathered in San Francisco and later migrated down to Santa Cruz. That may sound odd to many of you, so I highly recommend this book. Many of the things we built this week are already live on WordPress.com, some are performance tweaks that you might have already noticed, while others may be announced in the future.

Here are the rest of the photos from the week that didn’t make the cut to be posted on their own in my sfomeetup2013 tag.

Those fire dancing photos sure are amazing, but this video of the fire dancing and this slow-motion clip are even more amazing!

Now that you’ve seen all that, make sure that you apply, and maybe we’ll see you here with us next year!

Photo by Ash Rhodes

Photo by Ash Rhodes