The site that was…

Way back on April 1st of 2003, 4 long years ago, we started a site called NowStream.com. The idea was simple: Allow people to broadcast live events from anywhere to anyone. We had a few broadcasters setup here in Las Vegas and a few others scattered across the country. Version 1.0 was decent, but it wasn’t good enough, it wasn’t up to my (insanely) unrealistic expectations. So we put all our weight behind it and attempted to get version 2.0 done and out the door.

There were a lot of technical challenges to overcome. We didn’t make the right choices in the long run, but we made the right choices at the time. Windows Media was our streaming solution which meant Windows servers (ugh!). The rest of our site was powered by LAMP and was being designed to scale to our wildest dreams.

Designing a huge system that ‘just works’ is, I’m assuming, every geeks dream. It sure is one of mine. And we had several huge systems to design: a live-streaming solution, a community-fostering system, and an administrative system to make sure everything was working. I can’t think of anything more exhilarating. Programmers live for stuff like this.

Things didn’t work out so well however. Our team worked their butts off and did everything in their power to make 2.0 happen, but the timing just wasn’t right. The market wasn’t ready and neither was I. We ran out of money and had to let it go. It was one of the most difficult experiences I’ve ever gone through in my life.

The effect of that defeat still lives with me today. The biggest pain has come from the growing ‘socialization’ of the web since then. Not a jealous pain because of the extreme financial success of sites like YouTube, Flickr, and others, but an empty pain that comes with not fulfilling the dreams an aspirations of others. Everyone we talked to about NowStream.com loved the idea. People thought it would be the coolest thing. Watch almost anything happening anywhere in the world. Imagine the possibilities!

We could have been a part of moving the Net towards its ultimate goal: communicating and interacting with one other through every means possible. Being able to watch something happening anywhere on the planet right now is one of the next natural steps. One of the next evolutionary steps.

We were on the cusp, ahead of our time. 4 years ago. 4 long years…

Testing the waters and deciding to jump in head first…

I’ve been given the chance of a lifetime: Take an extended sabbatical from work and spend my time working on a new project all by myself. No distractions from actual work. No one to answer to but myself for the foreseeable future. And I still get paid! What a deal…

I’ll be taking this time to work on CoffeeTalk, a system still awaiting a proper description. I have a map of everything in my head and in some documents about where CT is going from a programming standpoint, but nothing concrete business-wise. I’ve done my fair share of ‘business development’ over the past 9 years, but I really suck at it. My record is like 1 and 10, which I guess is pretty standard for business ideas. Or so I heard.

Anyways, I’ll be focusing on getting CT stable and feature complete over the next couple of months. This means a few of things:
– Rip out the networking code in the server and replace it with the Twisted framework
– Update the Python client to use Twisted as well
– Start working on a Flex client
– Finalize all features for version 2.1

I want to treat this like I’m going into seclusion to write the ‘Great American Novel’. I’ll need to stay focused, but relaxed. This is an incredible chance for me to do something that I am passionate about. I already have a good start on things, I just need to focus on the next step.