Because we are huge fans of human namespace collisions and amazing people, we're adding two new members to our team: Adam Baldwin and Nathan LaFreniere, both in transition from nGenuity, the security company Adam Baldwin co-founded and built into a well-respected consultancy that has advised the likes of GitHub, AirBNB, and LastPass on security.

We have relied on Adam and Nathan's services through nGenuity to inform, improve, and check our development process, validating and invalidating our team's work and process, providing education and correction along the way. We are thrilled to be able to bring these resources to bear with greater influence, while providing Adam Baldwin with the authority to improve areas in need of such.

Adam Baldwin

Adam Baldwin has served as &yet's most essential advisor since our first year, providing me with confidence in venturing more into development as an addition to my initial web design freelance business, playing "panoptic debugger" when I struggled with it, helping us establish good policy and process as we built our team, improving our system operations, and always, always, bludgeoning us about the head regarding security.

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Now you're thinking with feeds!

When I look at a single-page webapp, all I see are feeds; I don't even see the UI anymore. I just see lists of items that I care about. Some of which only I have access to and some of which other groups have access to. I can change, delete, re-position, and add to the items on these feeds and they'll propagate to the people and entities that have access to them (even if it is just me on another device or at a later date).

I've seen it this way for years, but I haven't grokked it enough to articulate what I was seeing until now.

What Thoonk Is

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This last year, we've learned a lot about building scalable realtime web apps, most of which has come from shipping &bang.

&bang is the app we use to keep our team in sync. It helps us stay on the same page, bug each other less and just get stuff done as a team.

The process of actually trying to get something out the door on a bootstrapped budget helped us focus on the most important problems that needed to be solved to build a dynamic, interactive, real-time app in a scaleable way.

A bit of history

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Last week we launched our newest product, &!, at KRTConf. It's a realtime, single-page app that empowers teams to bug each other less and get more done as a team.

One of our speakers, Scott Hanselman from Microsoft tried to open the app in IE9 and was immediately redirected to a page that tells users they need WebSockets to use the app. He then wrote a post criticizing this choice, his argument being that users don't care about the underlying technology, they just want it to work. He thinks we should provide reasonable fallbacks so that it works for as wide of an audience as possible.

I completely agree with his basic premise: users don't care about the technology.

Users care about their experience.

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It's our first podcast, or maybe &cast, and what a start we're off to.

James displays a knack for not preparing, being distracted, and wiping sweat off his face. He does, however, know what he's talking about when it comes to CSS specs. Eric asks James to explain the newly proposed subject selectors, link psuedo-classes and whether or not anyone could become Batman, realistically.

Let us know what you think about the CSS4 proposals and how excited you are about the "parent" selector. Because as you can tell, we're wicked excited about it over here.

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Realtime is becoming a central part of Internet technology.

It's sneaking it's way into our lives already with push notifications, Facebook and Google's web chats, and it's a core focus for startups like Convore, Pusher, Superfeedr, Browserling, NowJS, Urban Airship, Learnboost, our own &! (andbang), and many more.

What's most interesting to me is how accessible this is all becoming for developers. In my presentation at NodeConf I mentioned that the adoption of new technology seems directly related to how easy it is to tinker with it. So, as realtime apps get easier and easier to build, I'm convinced that we're going to see a whole slew of new applications that tap this power in new, amazing ways.

We at &yet have built five or so realtime apps in the past year, and we're super excited about this stuff. We've also discovered that there are a slew of different methods and tools for building these kinds of apps--we've used a number of them. Different developer communities have been solving the same problems with different tools and it's been amazing to see how much mindblowingly awesome code has been so freely shared. However, there's still a bit of a disconnect, because it often happens within a given dev community. We always find that we learn the most when we talk to and learn from people who are doing things differently than we are.

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Monday will be Melani Brown's first day as a full-time &yet team member--we can't wait!

Melani is a talented filmmaker and photographer who will be doing awesome stuff of that sort with us.

She has worked on Kill Bill, Desperate Housewives, Nike commercials, and the online Old Spice social media ad campaign. She has photographed Bon Iver, Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside, and numerous indie bands.

As a longtime friend of the equally talented Amy Lynn Taylor, we were privileged to have Mel provide our team's photography a couple years ago. We've enjoyed several one-off collaborations with her since, including inviting her to participate in our team's month-long stay in an Italian castle this Spring.

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Shenoa with some friends

We are excited to add Shenoa Lawrence to the &yet team. She will be serving part-time as &yet's Community Coordinator, beginning last week.

Shenoa has taken a strong leadership role in our local tech community: <!doctype society>, Room to Think (our local coworking movement), and TriConf (a local barcamp &yet helped sponsor last weekend). She's also in the process of putting together weCreate, a local directory of people, projects, and products that make up our community. Her dedication and contributions have been a major part of the continued success of all of the above.

We want to affirm that dedication and empower her to continue it.

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In the midst of a particularly enjoyable college semester ten years ago, my good friend Eric Cadwell and I joked that a great job would be just going to school full-time for life.

I decided to figure out how to make a career out of it, in one way or another.

On the list of enjoyable things about the years that followed working as a pastor was the constant learning; I enjoy wrestling deeply with theology and its practicality, plus there’s no shortage of learning opportunities dealing with the human dynamics that come with ministry—painful, yes, but certainly plenty.

When I started &yet, I had the idea of building a business around the things that I had spent the bulk of my free-time learning (namely, web development and design). I figured if doing that could make me at least $30k a year, that was good enough. I mean, heck, there’s no school that’ll pay you a net gain of $30k to learn whatever you want!

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You have a dream.

So, just like every single one of us, you ask, “Do I have what it takes?”

The answer is yes. Every other answer is a lie, an excuse or a distraction. The call itself is enough of an answer.

I consider myself good at a few things, passable at many, and passionate about more. What I’m capable of is completely irrelevant. I’m likely the worst to judge that anyway.

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banned - debanned

At &yet, we're always fighting to get ourselves to log hours. We recently came up with a method inspired by Fitt's Law that's proven quite effective.

Fitt's Law, as it applies to interface design, essentially says the smaller and further away a target is, the harder it is to hit.

That's why we get Apple positioning the OS X menu at the very top of our workspace and the Dock at the bottom. The edge of the screen can be said to have infinite width in the direction the mouse hits it, making it an easy target.

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As application developers, we persist data in tables which are constantly updated, leaving most of the application’s components and user-interface in the dark until it asks for the data.

[Movie trailer voice] Imagine a world where these tables push change-events to any piece of your application stack, in diverse languages and on multiple servers.[/Movie trailer voice]

Enter Thoonk.

Clustering Node.js instances, communicating between service components in different languages and on different machines, forking off asynchronous jobs for reliability and queuing of work, communicating between APIs and views, and sending events to real-time webapps are all problems that can be solved with messaging.

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In support of an upcoming &yet product (ssssssh!), I was asked to create a JavaScript wrapper around a REST-based API we're using from node.js.

If you've been there, you might know how it goes: guess which API features the current project actually needs, make up some sort of "native" object representation, implement some bridge code that kinda works, and as a finishing touch, slap a link to the service's real documentation atop the code you left stubbed out for later.

Or, you find someone else's wrapper library. They took the time to implement most features, and even wrote their own version of the documentation — but the project they needed it for was cancelled years ago, so their native library still wraps the previous version of the server API, without the new features you need.

FACTS

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Quick intro, the hype and awesomeness that is Node

Node.js is pretty freakin' awesome, yes. But it's also been hyped up more than an Apple gadget. As pointed out by Eric Florenzano on his blog a LOT of the original excitement of server-side JS was due to the ability to share code between client and server. However, instead, the first thing everybody did is start porting all the existing tools and frameworks to node. Faster and better, perhaps, but it's still largely the same 'ol thing. Where's the paradigm shift? Where's the code reuse?!

Basically, Node.js runs V8, the same JS engine as Chrome, and as such, it has fairly decent ECMA Script 5 support. Some of the stuff in "5" is super handy, such as all the iterator stuff forEach, map, etc. But – and it's a big "but" indeed – if you use those methods you're no longer able to use ANY of your code in older browsers, (read "IE").

So, that is what makes underscore.js so magical. It gives you simple JS fallbacks for non-supported ECMA Script 5 stuff. Which means, that if you use it in node (or a modern browser), it will still use the faster native stuff, if available, but if you use it in a browser that doesn't support that stuff your code will still work. Code REUSE FTW!

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node.conf

If you'd asked most developers 5 years ago, most of them would have said: "Why would anyone want to write JS on the server?!" The luddites still do.

But we, at &yet, have fallen in love with node. Our particular schtick is the real-time web (see our podcast). We've been building real-time web apps for a while, mostly with XMPP and Strophe.js. Recently, however we've started using node + socket.io.

Frankly, we couldn't be happier and can't wait to see what the future holds as these technologies continue to mature.

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