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Joel Spolsky
This is Joel Spolsky's real Google+ account.
This is Joel Spolsky's real Google+ account.


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Trello now has a paid option for businesses, Trello Business Class. My blog post explaining it:
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Two things about SOPA/PIPA and then I'll shut up :)


The internet seems to ignore legislation until somebody tries to take something away from us... then we carefully defend that one thing and never counter-attack. Then the other side says, "OK, compromise," and gets half of what they want. That's not the way to win... that's the way to see a steady and continuous erosion of rights online.

The solution is to start lobbying for our own laws. It's time to go on the offensive if we want to preserve what we've got. Let's force the RIAA and MPAA to use up all their political clout just protecting what they have. Here are some ideas we should be pushing for:

* Elimination of software patents
* Legal fees paid by the loser in patent cases; non-practicing entities must post bond before they can file fishing expedition lawsuits
* Roll back length of copyright protection to the minimum necessary "to promote the useful arts." Maybe 10 years?
* Create a legal doctrine that merely linking is protected free speech
* And ponies. We want ponies. We don't have to get all this stuff. We merely have to tie them up fighting it, and re-center the "compromise" position.


The dismal corruption of congress has gotten it to the point where lobbying for legislation is out of control. As Larry Lessig has taught us, the core rottenness originates from the high cost of running political campaigns, which mostly just goes to TV stations.

A solution is for the Internet industry to start giving free advertising to political campaigns on our own new media assets... assets like YouTube that are rapidly displacing television. Imagine if every political candidate had free access (under some kind of "equal time" rule) to enough advertising inventory on the Internet to run a respectable campaign. Sure, candidates can still pay to advertise on television, but the cost of campaigning would be a lot lower if every candidate could run geo-targeted pre-roll ads on YouTube, geo-targeted links at the top of, even targeted campaigns on Facebook. If the Internet can donate enough inventory (and I suspect we can), we can make it possible for a candidate to get elected without raising huge war chests from donors who are going to want something in return, and we may finally get to a point where every member of congress isn't in permanent outstretched-hand mode.
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CHAOS Agents Laura and Sam attend the opening of a new Apple Store in NYC's Grand Central terminal. Their mission: Convert Sam from an Android to an iPhone user. Stickers, celebrity sightings, and successful purchase ensued.

And remember, kids: Ask Different (aka is always there for all your Apple question and answer needs.
Apple Store grand opening - Grand Central, NYC (31 photos)
31 Photos - View album
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Check out Stack Exchange's coverage of the Apple store's Grand Central grand opening over on the Ask Different blog!
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Follow Stack Exchange! Guaranteed interesting stuff or your money back!
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The programmer's programmer

Here I sit down with +Joel Spolsky who cofounded Stack Overflow (an extremely popular community for programmers) and Fog Creek Software, which makes tools for programmers and, now, which is a great new collaboration service (I'm using it to plan out my life). This is an interesting conversation and we get a look at Trello. Please share this or RT if you like it.

The rest of this is republished, with permission, from Rackspace's Building43:


Joel Spolsky is the programmer’s programmer. He started Fog Creek Software, Stack Exchange and has been a famous blogger for over 10 years. I sat down with him at his New York office to talk about the early days of blogging, how small teams are having a big impact in the world, a new product that Fog Creek just released, and a host of other topics.

“We’re the old school bloggers from the past,” explains Spolsky. “When I started blogging, I didn’t want to say I was a blogger, because I didn’t think I was doing the official blog thing, which was to link to something that someone else has [written]…and say, ‘Here’s an interesting thing, and then here’s my perspective on that.’ I didn’t want to do that.”

Instead, Spolsky used what was essentially the one tool available at the time,, and created his Joel on Software blog to publish a series of essays on subjects where he thought he could add value—describing how a certain part of the software development process works, how you should design software, how you should build software companies, and others.

Blogging has, of course, exploded over the last 10 years, and it’s one of many ways that small teams can have a big impact—a theme I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. Technology allows someone to publish to millions of people instantly. Developers can swipe their credit card and have access to hundreds of servers in the cloud. Small teams of people are empowered now like never before, and, in many ways, small teams seem to work better and more efficiently than larger ones.

Spolsky has a theory regarding why smaller teams work so well, at least in regards to software development teams. “None of [our teams] is bigger than eight, and that’s a gigantic team that we have of eight people…What I know for a fact is it’s all about communications between people. If you have two people, there’s one communication path. If you have three people, there are three communication paths. You went from one person that needs to talk to one person to three people that need to communicate among one another…You get to four people, and there are six [lines of communication], I believe. It grows like crazy, and once you get to teams of eight or nine people, they don’t even know each other practically; there’s just way too much communication and coordination that needs to happen. It’s just not possible for everybody to listen to everybody.”

Even small teams have to work to stay organized and focused on the right tasks, however, and Fog Creek Software’s latest app, Trello, helps them do just that.

“The basic idea of Trello,” explains Spolsky, “is it’s a list of lists…It’s for teams keeping track of what everyone is working on, but you can use it for any kind of list of lists…You can add lists whenever you want and throw things in there. You can rearrange lists freely. Everything is very, very flexible.”

With Trello, you create boards associated with certain projects, for example. On those boards are cards with items that need to be accomplished to complete the project. Click on the card and you can list even more specific tasks associated with each item, assign team members to each task and establish due dates. You also create lists on the boards that represent stages of the project, so whenever tasks are completed, you click on the card and move it to the appropriate stage until the entire project is finished.

“The basic idea is that we started with something reasonably simple that’s still very useful…and now we’re building an API.” Spolsky hopes that developers will start to build cool plug-ins for the app like permissions, workflow, a way for people to anonymously submit new things to boards, or change the background color, allowing Trello to continue to improve over time.

More info:

Fog Creek Software Web Site:
Trello web site:
Trello blog:
Fog Creek Software profile on CrunchBase:
Trello profile on Twitter:
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Cool things I've missed by not coming to New York more often

It's interesting. I read Techcrunch, RWW, The Next Web, GigaOm and many many other blogs every day. Yet I still miss stuff that's useful, even when other journalists write about them (it's impossible to try everything you see on other blogs). That's why I visit companies and why I follow so many of you.

One very cool thing I missed that I saw today? +Joel Spolsky's

This lets you work with a small team and keep track of anything. I didn't get it when I first used it. But, damn, is it cool and simple. I think this will become a favorite tool of mine now that I understand what it does.

For instance, here's a board I just made: This lets me list people I want to interview. The thing is, I've opened this board up to you, so you can add people I should interview and you get to vote on them too. So, this could become a lot of fun.

Mostly, though, this isn't meant to be public, but for just the teams of people you work with.

Another company I missed?

This kid was a runnerup in Techcrunch's Hackathon back in the Spring.

He showed me what he's working on now and it's instantly going to be part of my toolbox (I can't explain what new stuff he added yet, but it joins cloud services together in a really useful way).

New York rocks, I've seen so many great companies today hanging out at Techstars (you'll hear more next week, since their demo day is in eight days).

This is a reminder for entrepreneurs, too: just getting your "big launch" isn't enough in these noisy times. You've gotta keep chasing the press and recommendations. The more times people hear about you the more likely they are to load your service up and try it themselves. So, keep working it!

Got a cool startup? Let us know!
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