Brian Johnson's Startup Developer Blog

September, 2009


    WebsiteSpark is Live!


    One of the projects I’ve been working on for the last few months has gone live today. Building on the success of the BizSpark program, we’ve launched a new program for professional Web developers and designers called WebsiteSpark. WebsiteSpark gives professional Web developers access to some select Microsoft servers and tools in order to build their sites, along with a load of other benefits.

    Where the BizSpark program is designed for startup companies building their own Web application products, the WebsiteSpark program is designed for companies building Web sites for others as a business.  

    For full details on what the program is, who qualifies, and what one gets from the program, check out the program FAQ. If you have any questions about WebsiteSpark, please feel free to drop a note to We also have a Twitter account to follow @websitespark.

    We’ve updated the tools and applications available at, so you’ll want to check that out also.

    image WebsiteSpark – Home

    Visibility, support and software for professional Web Developers and Designers - at no upfront cost!

    Does your company have 10 or fewer employees?
    Receive Windows Web Server and SQL Server Web Edition at no cost to host new websites. Learn More


    Glancephone – an exploration of human expression - Microsoft Research


    Cool paper. I remember seeing a talk on this a few years ago. I think a lot of what they say here parallels my own experience with the common IM and social networking tools of the day. Definitely worth a read. I like the final sentence in the clip I pulled below, “Glancephones were originally invented to allow callers to see if it is appropriate to call or interrupt and thus act like normal glances in face-to-face situations.”

    Glancephone – an exploration of human expression - Microsoft Research

    Richard Harper and Stuart Taylor
    15 September 2009

    In this paper, we describe the design and ethnographic study of a phone developed so as to allow people to glance at each other, rather than simply message or voice call. Glancephones work through having a form factor that allows them to be placed upright when a user want to be available for glancing, and support a web-based application that allows glances, bitmap images, to be taken and sent to a remote viewer on request, via GPRS connections. Glancephones were originally invented to allow callers to see if it is appropriate to call or interrupt and thus act like normal glances in face-to-face situations.



    Startup Post on TechCrunch: From Nothing To Something. How To Get There.


    Great post on starting a new company by Seth Sternberg. In fact, this is such a great post that I had a hard time picking a paragraph to drop into my link. The best thing is, this is part of a series that Seth has planned for TechCrunch.

    From Nothing To Something. How To Get There.

    First and foremost, find a great founding team. One person is almost never enough. You just can’t do it all. Rather, team up with one or two other people who have skills synergistic – not overlapping – with your own, but with similar goals and passions. I can’t tell you how frequently teams of three business school students tell me they’re going to start the next great consumer Internet company. When I point out that they’re all business people, and wonder who’s going to build the product, they almost always fall back on “we’ll get a couple of undergrads to do it,” or, “we’ll outsource it.” If I hear either one of those, I know the startup’s already dead. Sorry, folks. Harsh, but probably true.

    Remember, if you’re thinking about starting a software company, be sure to check out the Microsoft Startup Zone and BizSpark.


    Incubation Week - Boston


    We’re still taking nominations for startups to participate in our BizSpark Incubation week in Boston in October. If you have a startup that can make it to Boston for this event, it’s a great opportunity to get help building out Windows 7 specific features for their products.

    Here’s the information:


    With several successful Microsoft BizSpark Incubation Weeks (Win7 Reston, CRM Reston, CRM Boston, Win 7 Irvine, Mobility Mountain View) behind us, we are pleased to announce Microsoft BizSpark Incubation Week for Windows 7  in Boston, MA, the week of October 5th, 2009.

    The current economic downturn is putting many entrepreneurs under increasing pressure, making it critical to find new resources and ways to reduce costs and inefficiencies. Microsoft BizSpark Incubation Week for Windows 7 is designed to offer following assistance to entrepreneurs.

    • Learning and building next generation application utilizing new and unique Windows 7 capabilities with help of on-site advisors and off-shore development team
    • Getting entrepreneurs coaching from guest speakers and a panel of industry experts
    • Generating marketing buzz for your brand
    • Creating opportunity to be highlighted at upcoming Windows 7 launch

    We are inviting nominations from BizSpark Startups interested in developing Windows 7 applications that target one or more of the following scenarios:

    • Windows Touch, ink, gesture support, plus handwriting recognition enabling new input capabilities
    • Rich Animation Framework
    • Sensor and Location Framework (GPS, light, motion)
    • New taskbar, destinations, and shell integration enhancing discoverability and usability
    • New extensible Ribbon adding Office 2007-style controls, menus, and galleries to your application

    The Microsoft BizSpark Incubation Week for Windows 7 will be held at Microsoft Technology Center, Waltham, MA from Monday, 10/05/2009 to Friday, 10/09/2009. This event consists of ½ day of training, 3 ½ days of active prototype/development time, and a final day for packaging/finishing and reporting out to a panel of judges for various prizes.

    This is a no-fee event (plan your own travel expenses) and each team can bring 3 participants (1 business and 1-2 technical).

    To nominate a  team, please drop a note to Sanjay Jain ( Nominations will be judged according to the strength of the founding team, originality and creativity of the idea, and ability to leverage new and unique Windows 7 features.


    Microsoft PDC09


    So wish I was going this year. :) Check out the site to register and get the early-bird discount.

     Microsoft PDC09

    November 17 – 19, 2009
    Los Angeles Convention Center

    imageThe Professional Developers Conference (PDC) is the definitive developer event focused on the technical strategy of the Microsoft developer platform.  Attendees come from around the world to learn about the future of Microsoft developer technology directly from the people who make it happen.  If you’re a developer, architect or technology leader involved in making strategic technology decisions, the PDC is for you. More



    Design for Startups: The Aesthetics of Web Apps


    Cool article from ReadWriteWeb on design for startups. This story is part of their BizSpark sponsored ReadWriteStart channel. Good stuff.

    Design for Startups: The Aesthetics of Web Apps in 6 Questions

    Think twice about that huge font and those glassy icons: Look and feel is the first thing we see and notice about most web apps and is often critical to an app's user experience, adoption, and ultimate success.

    We chatted with a panel of expert aesthetes in the space, including Spymaster designer Eston Bond, veteran creative director Rich Barrett, designer/developer Warren Benedetto, Mike Rundle of 9rules and Beak fame, and the Paul du Coudray Lowdown, the winner of this year's Rails Rumble appearance category. Here's what they had to say about developers doing double duty as designers, trends they'd like to see disappear, and how aesthetics can help a startup sink or swim.


    The New York Internet Company plans data center expansion in Bridgewater -


    Wanted to pass this on as New York Internet is a great BizSpark Network Partner. Their site is located here.

    The New York Internet Company plans data center expansion in Bridgewater

    BRIDGEWATER, NJ -- The New York Internet Company (NYI), a mission-critical data services provider, announced via press release September 9 that it will be expanding its footprint by adding a data center later in the year.

    If you’re a startup located in the NY area and you’re looking for hosting, be sure to check out NYI and look for them in the Network Partner directory (search NYI) when you check out the BizSpark program.


    BizSpark Startup Flickchart covered in


    Orlando Sentinel technology reporter Etan Horowitz did a nice writeup of Flickchart, a BizSpark startup based in Orlando. Check out the story below for a link to get in on the beta.


    Central Florida entrepreneurs launch Web site allowing people to rate movies --

    There's no shortage of Internet sites and services that rate movies.
    RottenTomatoes and Metacritic compile critics' reviews; while lets users pick the Top 250 movies of all time. If you want to know what your Facebook friends thought of a film, there's the Flixster Movies application for Facebook and the iPhone.
    Despite such a crowded landscape, two Central Florida entrepreneurs think they've come up with a better way to figure out which movies really are the greatest of all time. On Wednesday, Nathan Chase of Winter Garden and Jeremy Thompson of Apopka will launch Flickchart, a free site that ranks movies by giving users a decidedly simple choice: which film do you like better, movie A, or movie B?

    As always, if you have questions about the BizSpark program, feel free to drop me a note.

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