Author Archives: Jeremy Lichtman

About Jeremy Lichtman

CEO of Lichtman Consulting. Formerly CTO of MIT Consulting. Serial entrepreneur, software and web developer.

The (slightly misanthropic) Rules of HTML Compliance – Part 1

The following post(s) are edited from a document that I wrote a few years ago to try and provide a consistent standard for HTML and CSS submitted by contractors for projects that my company was working on. At the time we found that we were spending a significant chunk of time on rework, in order to make things function properly across different browser types, and the goal was to reduce this, and simultaneously improve quality and customer satisfaction. I’ve edited things a bit, as the original was written with a sarcastic (and occasionally profane) tone that is slightly embarrassing in retrospect (although entirely necessary at the time). Continue reading

On simplicity

Flickr Creative Commons

It seems like a strange idea – that people can build things that are so complex that they no longer understand them fully. It is more common in the realm of large projects where thousands of people work together on a single goal (think of the Space Shuttle, with its millions of moving parts), but it also happens on occasion in software development.

I can think of a handful of projects that I have worked on that have reached this point. One in particular, although the number of lines of code is not exceptionally large, has so many moving parts that it is actually impossible to determine in advance what effect any given change will have on its operation. Modifying its core functionality becomes a delicate game of trial and error. Continue reading

More Free Business Models

Yes, I know – ideas don’t count for much these days. Continue reading

Why I don’t upgrade my cellphone

True story: a while back I walked into a cellphone store. The rep behind the counter was yapping with a couple of her friends. After fifteen minutes of patiently waiting, I asked her if I could ask a few questions about their phone line-up. She brusquely informed me that she was busy, and then went back to chatting with her friends about clothing. I walked out.

There are thirteen cellphone stores in the mall by my house. I counted. Each one uses slightly different combinations of primary colors in their logos. What I have to say here could apply to any of them, and I’m not going to name names. None of them are typically busy either, so I find this confounding. Continue reading

First batch of Wahooly startups

Wahooly is still working on releasing their Beta, but they’ve posted up a list of the first batch of startups, and I went and kicked the tires, so to speak. Here are some first impressions. Continue reading

Various updates

Its going to be an interesting week in the technology universe.

Wahooly is launching on Tuesday. More on them below. Then the Facebook IPO will apparently be happening on Wednesday, which could potentially start off another big round of startup frothiness.

The overall level of excitement in tech is as boisterous as I’ve seen it in a number of years. Whether it has “legs” remains to be seen, but there appears to be a definite shortage of qualified people to go around. Over the past few months, the number of resumes sent my way has slowly dropped, and instead I’ve been receiving calls from head hunters and startups (although typically they haven’t bothered actually checking what I actually DO). It will be interesting to see whether things actually pick up economically (or even just in the tech world) over the course of the year.

Wahooly is an interesting riff on startup incubators, crowd-funding and viral marketing. The amount of attention that they’ve achieved in the past couple of months is larger than anything I’ve personally encountered. The basic idea is that startups give them a small amount of equity, which they then “share” among their users, in exchange for which the users promote the startup. The amount of “equity” given to each user depends on how effective the users are in helping to market the company in question, according to some internal formula. To avoid market regulations, it looks like they’re giving some kind of virtual equity to the users, rather than actual shares, and the users will only profit directly if there is some kind of liquidity event. Remains to be seen whether it will work (and whether they can keep it on the right side of legality), but there’s already a large number of users who have registered, and approximately 50 to 60 startups to begin with. My approach is to view it as a combination of an interesting source to find out about new startups (i.e. pure entertainment value), a possible deal flow source, and maybe, just maybe a couple of bucks on the side, somewhere down the road. In the meantime, I’ve been chatting with other users on two groups (here and here) that have been started on Facebook, and its been fun.

I’ll be posting regular updates with regards to Wahooly (and particularly the startups that are launching via their system) over the next few months. Also, two startups I’ve been working with are gradually getting closer to Beta launch, and I will have more to say about them as that time approaches.

New Monthly Newsletter

I’ve been thinking of doing a newsletter for the past three years.

Its time to finally do something about it (no use thinking about wasted time).

I will be including interesting posts that I’ve found elsewhere, plus some unique content that will only be available via the newsletter.

If you’re worried about subscription management, I will only be sending this out once per month, and the list will be managed via MailChimp, so you can always unsubscribe if it sucks!

Please feel free to subscribe via the form on the right hand side of the page (only if you’re interested).

Social Search

Google is getting a lot of blowback for its efforts to integrate Google+ results into search.

Several people have asked me my opinion, so here goes.

1. I’ve made a habit of always logging out of Google services before searching. Not that I really care if they have a connection between an actual profile and my searched (after all, they have my IP address anyhow). I just think its none of their business, and as such I’m not going to make it easier for them. Based on what I’ve seen so far of the G+ modifications, I’m going to continue doing just that. The quality of the search results with G+ content included is poor. Google is either going to need to tweak this feature substantially in order to make it usable – or more likely they’ll quietly make it disappear in a few months. Continue reading

All New and Improved

I finally switched the appearance of the site. I was rapidly becoming tired of the old theme, which was too dark, overly imposing (which detracts from the content), and hard on the eyes.

The new theme, in case anybody is interested, is a heavily modified version of WordPress’ Twenty Eleven theme. It takes surprisingly little time to modify it to look completely different than it does out of the box.

I also used a number of typography cues from a web marketing site called Social Triggers. You can see the specific post here. The goal was to make the site easier to read, which I hope this accomplishes.

Why some people are intensely fascinating

Image: Carlos Porto / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’ve had a number of conversations with people online in the past few weeks regarding the topic of why some people are so good at holding others attention online.

You already know the sort of people I’m talking about – they have tens or hundreds of thousands of follows on major social media sites, and people hang on their every word.

What we were discussing was the ability of people to grab our interest, not general influence (although in many cases these are one and the same people).

As I told somebody on Twitter, I think I have pieces of the answer. Not the whole answer, unfortunately. That would be worth its weight in various precious minerals. Continue reading