Two Weeks in….

Well, two weeks after launching the CrowdedInk website, about 500 TwitterMug builds, and several customer questions later, I think it’s about time to launch a blog. This is that blog.Abraca-Zazzle

There has been some confusion over the involvement of Zazzle.com . Basically, the CrowdedInk website/software creates the image for the mug using the Twitter API, and then uses the Zazzle.com Create-A-Product API to put the image onto the mug. You can customize your mug further using the Zazzle site/software – but they really don’t have the ability to modify the original image I send to them. We (well, I) are baking several fresh ideas for you that will take TwitterMug customization to a whole ‘nother level – as if it could get any cooler. Ha.

Zazzle cancelled my order because of copyright issues
– Or, “I haz bummer fail”

Some customers have had their TwitterMug order canceled by Zazzle due to copyright violations. The problem in this case is that one or more of the people you follow are using an obviously copyrighted image for their profile picture. I know, I know – the image is super small and should not be a big deal – but I’ve not been able to get Zazzle to budge on this issue. You can try re-submitting your order – it may be checked by another Zazzle person with a less keen eye. Re-submitting has worked for some people – but be prepared for another disappointment if it does not go through. I’m working on a “Select Your Friends” feature so that you can select which of your friends you want on your mug – and un-select those whose profile images are a blatant copyright violation.

Jesus built my Hot Rod

Some people have been curious about the technology powering CrowdedInk. Here’s the setup: RoR for the front-end with a MySQL db, Mono / C# for the image rendering engines, all deployed on the AWS EC2 cloud, AWS SQS for queue management between front end and rendering engines, and AWS S3 for image storage. The original version of the site (which was never “made public”) rendered the images within RoR using ImageMagick. This was slow, slow, slow. So, I decided to kick it up a notch and write a multi-threaded image rendering engine in Mono / C# – which is fast, fast, fast. Overall, I’m happy with the way things came out – even if I have to switch between Ruby and C# while coding. I’m seriously considering switching all my C# code to the Boo language to make the whole setup super hip.

Meka Leka Hi Meka Hiney Ho

So, what’s in store for CrowdedInk moving forward? Besides the “Select Your Friends” feature I’ve also been working on a Facebook app which should drop sometime this weekend. That should be interesting. I’m also working on building some more products (mousepads, tee-shirts, shoes, etc.), making interesting use of your friend’s profile pics. Squares are lame – I want to use your friend’s faces to make pictures…shapes. I also have a Last.fm idea that will blow your mind into 1000 tiny pieces and then put it back together new and improved. Ultimately, CrowdedInk is all about looking at the digital footprint you make on a daily basis and using that information to make products that are tangible representations of you, your friends, and your interests. Like, physical art imitating digital art that’s imitating your life. On a mug n’ stuff.