Goodbye Mindquarry! What Will Be Next?

Although I feel sad that Mindquarry did not work out the way it was meant to be, I am also excited about some great opportunities which came up lately.

First of all, I’d like to thank all my former colleagues at Mindquarry who proved once more that they are real sports especially during the rough times that lay behind us. You can tell their commitment and proudness from the fact that they kept working on the now available Mindquarry 1.2beta release until the last day of the company’s existence.

I very much welcome that the three Mindquarry founders now help Day Software to add collaborative tools to their Enterprise Content Management System. This is an extremely smart move by Day, because each one of the founders are superb developers with an entrepreneurial attitude. Plus, the founders already gained a lot of experience and insights in the collaboration market space – something of high value for Day’s business, because it accelerates time-to-market.

So, what will I be doing? In fact, I am yet undecided whether I will enter employment again or start my own business with a very good friend of mine. Either way, I plan to continue working in the domain of Open Source marketing, be it as part of a firm’s management or as a consultant.

Up-to-now, I have four job opportunities, most of them would also be interested in working with me as an external consultant. What do you think would be the best choice?

Open Source PR Agency in USA: Terpin Communications

4 months ago, Mindquarry was searching for a PR agency in the USA and today we can already look back at a highly successful public relations campaign, performed by Terpin Communications.

I am extremely happy with the results achieved by Terpin. They helped build up a growing momentum in the blogsphere which just now starts to spill over to traditional media.

Terpin exceeded our expectations when it comes to number of Mindquarry downloads, unique visitors at www.mindquarry.com and Google hits for “mindquarry” as well as the ranking of our Web site for certain keyword searches. Due to increased public visibility, we got contacted by new customers, potential partner companies and investors.

Our points of contact at Terpin are very attentive and highly responsive to all our requests. I appreciate their strategic expertise in software marketing and especially in PR for Open Source product vendors. Terpin is a reliable, goal-oriented and well connected PR agency.

Credit where credits are due. Thanks Terpin!

Lars at Web Monday in Berlin

Web Monday “connects users, developers, founders, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, researchers, web pioneers, bloggers, podcasters, designers and other folks interested in Web 2.0 topics (in the broadest sense)” – as they say about themselves.

This event takes place once per month on a Monday in several cities around Germany. Today, I was flying to Berlin to spend a week in the Mindquarry office and, hey – it’s Web Monday!

Right now, I sit in the Newthinking office and listen to Lars‘ presentation of Mindquarry.

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16072007508

I am happy to be here, together with 40 other attendees. Lars told me that usually it is even more people – cool! If you’re in Berlin on a Monday, check if it’s Web Monday, it’s worth being there.

I am also happy to be here because finally, I got the chance to meet with Markus Beckedahl face-to-face.

Adding Creative Commons Music to a Screencast with GarageBand on Mac for YouTube

The Mindquarry screencast I wrote about before, got spiced up with the song Revolve by His Boy Elroy, which is available under a Creative Commons license.

Here’s what I did technically:

First I hit File > Export in iMovie and clicked on “GarageBand” to transfer the video to the GarageBand application included on my Mac. In GarageBand, I added the song to the audio track. It was necessary to adjust the music to the video, e.g. to highlight a switch of the topic with the music. After some trial and error, I learned how to cut, paste, move parts of the music and also that you could simply extend a part at its beginning and end (cool!).

When the audio work was done, I wanted to add the music credits at the end of the video. I added the missing clip in iMovie and wondered how I can get the extended video into GarageBand. The trick is actually, that GarageBand will automatically load the new video because it is linked to iMovie.

It was more hassle to find a way how to get the audio track imported to iMovie. I think I only found a workaround yet: 1) Export from GarageBand to high quality video (640×480), 2) Import in new iMovie project, 3) extract audio track in iMovie. I’d be glad to hear if someone knows a better way?

From iMovie, I exported the video in a format optimized for YouTube. The video settings have been described in my previous post Screencast for YouTube with iShowU and iMovie on Mac. I configured the audio settings as follows:

  • Format: AAC
  • Sample rate: 22.050KHz
  • Channels: Stereo
  • Bit rate: 24kbps

Screencast for YouTube with iShowU and iMovie on Mac

Today, I uploaded a short screencast about Mindquarry to YouTube which will be included on our Web site.

I created it with iShowU and iMovie on my Mac and uploaded it to YouTube. It took some research on the Web as well as trial-and-error to achieve a good resolution in YouTube’s 320×240 video size. Here’s a short how-to:Download and install iShowU (I used 1.41), pay the $20. iMovie should already be installed on your Mac.These are my settings in iShowU:

  • Audio: Turned off, because we later add music to the screencast within iMovie.
  • Video:
    • Framerate: 15
    • Size: 100%
    • Quality: Max
    • Compression: Apple MPEG4 Compressor
    • Mouse: Record in each frame
    • Recording area: I used different ratios to show an overview or details. They all scale down well to the 320x240px size of YouTube videos:
      • 320×240
      • 427×320
      • 640×480
      • 854×640

Now start recording with iShowU.

Start a new iMovie project in MPEG-4 format (automatically sets the ratio to 640×320). Import the screencast files (File > Import), insert them, move them around, cut them, add images, audio, effects, etc.

When done go to File > Export in iMovie, choose QuickTime and from the drop-down that you want to define your own settings, click “Share”. Before saving the file, change the screen size by clicking on “Options”, there on “Size” and choose “320 x 240 QVGA”. For all other options, use the default settings (e.g. frame rate at 24).

The text effects in-between the screencast clips have been created in Keynote, which is part of iWorks. It’s a great presentation software with nice text animations. Keynote allows you to export to QuickTime movies which again can be imported to iMovie. The descriptive subtitles at the bottom of the screencast clips have been added within iMovie, just make sure you disable “Black background”.

Now I just need to find a good CC-licensed music for the screencast …

Useful resources:

Open Source and SaaS – Business in the Fast Lane

It’s been an exciting two weeks with all the preparations for the Mindquarry GO launch and respective public relations.

I can now clearly sense how the combination of Open Source and Software as a Service (SaaS) dramatically accelerates our business.

We already get plenty of feedback from users who download our software and install it on their own – that’s the Open Source engine that keeps us optimizing our product. SaaS is the other turbo engine: registrations for free Mindquarry GO beta accounts are adding up and the first beta users will go live Monday. Once we have all 333 users online by September 9th, they will provide even more feedback and help us to rapidly improve our software.

As we try to consequently apply the mantra “release early, release often” to both our Open Source and SaaS offer, we multiply the effect of early user feedback leading towards a constantly enhanced product and hosted service.

Mindquarry GO Launched – Get 3 Beta Tester Accounts

Go for Mindquarry GO 🙂 It’s the new online hosted collaboration service offered by Mindquarry, powered by our Open Source Web collaboration software.

You can now (continue to read below before you click) sign up for 333 free Mindquarry GO Beta accounts to work with a fully functional version of the Mindquarry GO offer for 3 months. It includes 100GB disc space for file sharing, unlimited teams, user, Wiki pages, tasks, etc. – no need to download, install, configure or troubleshoot.

I have 3 reserved accounts for the readers of my blog. Leave a comment and make sure you enter your email address. I’ll pick those who are in desperate need of a good collaboration tool 😉

With Mindquarry GO, we are joining the ranks of Open Source companies offering their products as Software as a Service (SaaS).

The Day Your Community Comes to Life

A few days ago, it happened for the first time that someone outside of the Mindquarry team answered a question in the Mindquarry forum – that’s when a community starts to blossom.

Especially for an Open Source project, this is a magic moment, because community building is so crucial to its success.

Even though I have seen it before in other projects and companies, I am always astonished when I read in a forum about developers who give a new product a try with a lot of engagement and patience. It’s so great to have virtual strangers all around the globe seriously checking out and working with our product.

Thanks to all our forum participants, we deeply appreciate all your feedback!

PS: The best tool to start a community is still a forum or mailinglist.

Installing Mindquarry from SVN on Mac

With some help from Lars, I managed to get Mindquarry up and running straight from the SVN repository (this is where the development code resides). I did this to have a look at the development status of the upcoming 1.1 release.

It’s a cool feeling to live on the bleeding edge and to see daily improvements to our software immediately. Wanna do the same? Here’s a foolproof how-to which is intended to also help those who are not really familiar with the command line. A much more concise how-to is available in the Mindquarry documentation. Those of you familiar with Java development might want to take look there to switch to the fast lane.

Operating system

I run Mac OS X 10.4.9, but I guess this brief tutorial will also help you on any other unixish operating system.

Terminal aka command line aka shell

Let’s wake up the sleeping monster: the terminal window. You can do so by typing “terminal” into the spotlight window and by choosing the “Terminal” program as displayed in the screenshot below:

Finding Terminal Program via Spotlight

Let the monster relax a bit in the background and proceed with the following tasks.

Installing Subversion client

Install Subversion to access the development code and to download it to your computer. Luckily, Lars pointed me to this easy to install .dmg Subversion package by Martin Ott.

Installing Maven

Below you will see how to download the source code onto your computer with the Subversion client, but first, you must download and install Maven to later be able to build the Mindquarry application from that source code. Installing Maven is actually quite simple.

Get the .zip package from the Maven download page, and place it e.g. in your personal directory. Unzip the archive (I use The Unarchiver) and move it to /usr/local/maven-2.0.6 by issuing the following command in the terminal (the monster you woke up – remember?):


sudo mv ~/maven-2.0.6 /usr/local/maven-2.0.6

That’s all!

Easy access to Maven and Subversion via command line

I made sure that I can conveniently access Subversion on the command line with just typing svn instead of providing the full path to the executive binary. Same goes for Maven with the mvn command.

Type into the terminal window:


nano -w ~/.profile

This will open a simple text editor within the terminal window. There you enter (you can copy&paste from here):


export PATH="/usr/local/maven-2.0.6/bin:/usr/local/bin:$PATH"

Press CTRL+X and confirm with Y that you want to save the file. You can check if all worked out well by issuing the following command in the terminal window:


echo $PATH

… which should display a text containing the above given paths.

Getting the code

Before you type something into the terminal window which should just have popped up, you create the directory where you want to put the Mindquarry SVN code which you will download as the next step. For example, create a directory called mindquarry-code in your Documents folder.

Now, change to the newly created folder in the terminal window. For example by entering


cd ~/Documents/mindquarry-code/

The ~ indicates your home directory, where your personal folders on your Mac reside.
Type the following into the terminal window and execute it by pressing the return key to obtain the Mindquarry source code:


# svn co https://www.mindquarry.org/repos/mindquarry-collaboration-server/trunk/ mindquarry-code

Note the https: Make sure you have it included, otherwise you won’t be able to get the code. You will most likely be asked to accept a SSL certificate after execution – please do so.

Simply wait until all the code has been downloaded, then proceed as follows.

Building Mindquarry with Maven

To build the application with Maven, change to this directory in the terminal window:


cd ~/Documents/mindquarry-code

Issue this command and wait until execution is done (which might take a while):


mvn install

Now you are done with building.

Configuring Mindquarry and your environment

You just need to do one thing to configure Mindquarry properly before running it. Copy the properties file to the folder above. In detail this is in the terminal window:


cd ~/Documents/mindquarry-code/mindquarry-webapp/mindquarry-webapplication

Then:


cp mindquarry-webapplication.properties/config.template .

The cp command – you guessed it right – copies the file to the current directory.

Open the properties file with


nano -w mindquarry-webapplication.properties

and make sure that the following properties are declared as shown


mindquarry.jcr.path=file:/var/mindquarry/jcr

mindquarry.solr.path=/var/mindquarry/solr

mindquarry.repos.path=/var/mindquarry/svn

If you are just building from SVN to try out Mindquarry and do not want to develop the code, then I recommend you let Mindquarry run in production mode, which is much faster. To do so, change the following property:


org.apache.cocoon.mode=prod

Just like before, press CTRL+X and confirm with Y to save the file.

In case you actually plan to develop Mindquarry, then keep this property as it is. When running Mindquarry in development mode, it needs quite some RAM because pages need to be build repeatedly upon request. Hence, to make sure that Mindquarry runs sufficiently fast on your system, raise the amount of memory it has available. To do so, create the respective file by entering to the terminal window:


nano -w ~/.mavenrc

There, add these two lines (copy&paste from here):


#!/bin/sh
MAVEN_OPTS="-Xmx512m $MAVEN_OPTS"

Press CTRL+X and confirm with Y to save the file.

Running Mindquarry

Create the directory /var/mindquarry, because Mindquarry needs it to run properly. Do so by typing into the terminal window:


sudo mkdir /var/mindquarry

You will be prompted for your password and then the folder will be created.

To make sure the folder is accessible for Mindquarry, issue the following command in the terminal:


sudo chmod 777 /var/mindquarry

Now comes the fun part because you will soon be able to play with the hot hot Mindquarry development version. Make sure the terminal is ready for execution in the right folder by issuing this command:


cd ~/Documents/mindquarry-code/mindquarry-webapp/mindquarry-webapplication

Now you can start Mindquarry with:


mvn jetty:run

Wait until you see the following information appear in the terminal window:


[INFO] Started Jetty Server
[INFO] Starting scanner at interval of 15 seconds.

Now open your browser with this URL: http://localhost:8888 and login with username “admin” and password “admin”. Enjoy!

Remember that you are playing with fire, because you installed development code which is usually work in progress and can thus be highly unstable.

Stopping Mindquarry

To stop Mindquarry, press CTRL+C in the terminal window.

Updating from SVN

The good thing is of course that you can now repeatedly update the source code to get the very latest changes and then build and run Mindquarry again. Simply follow these three steps and you’ll be a part of bleeding-edge Mindquarry development:

  1. Issue the command svn up from within the ~/Documents/mindquarry-code/ directory (by now, you know that with cd you can switch to this directory in the terminal window).
  2. Type mvn clean install from within the folder ~/Documents/mindquarry-code
  3. Enter mvn clean package jetty:run from within ~/Documents/mindquarry-code/mindquarry-webapp/mindquarry-webapplication

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