Reflections on startup life: Week 56

When I consider that last week I touched on 5 out of 5 projects, started learning a new language and framework, plus spoke at the Australian Language Technology Association conference on Thursday afternoon, I think I know why I feel like I’m doing about 10 jobs.

The vast majority of the week (40+) was on the new Rails Challenge project. This has been interesting, not least because as we’ve tracked through it, it’s quickly apparent (as we expected to some extent) that it’s less and less about technology and more and more about scope, documentaton, design, architecture and so forth. While in theory I’ve always understood this, it’s a neat trick to try something completely new and see how far that gets you.

For Tribalytic we discovered it’s allergic to Christmas. More specifically a carefully constructed search term will crash a process and grind the server to a halt (no, I’m not telling you what it is and no, I don’t want you to try find more!). Will be fixed shortly and in any case, it’s only happened a couple of times in 6 months.

We are feeling comfortable enough with now that we added a wide range of new users. We launched to a new round of 150 beta testers, which if they all sign up (unlikely), will take us to close to 200 users testing it for us.

The best thing about this time of year though is all the end of year catch up and parties. I’ve made some great new friends this year and it’s fun to catch up with them all, enjoy a drink or two and share thoughts on what’s been a crazy (but fun) year.


  • New users invited on board.
  • Exploring and learning Ruby and Rails.
  • Speaking at ALTA and networking with several academics who heavily research and develop the type of tools we “plug in”.

Lessons Learned

  • If you’re going to be body-shopping, you need to track your time. Yes, we’ve started some basic time-sheets so we can measure how much work we are putting into contracts.
  • Sometimes those things you “put off” because they’ll take a long time actually don’t. Could of saved a heap of effort this year with some basic integration work that I did manually for far too long.

Goals this week

  • Deliver a working Rails prototype.