Posts tagged ‘torbit’

Edge cases

A few months ago, the parking garage at the San Jose airport ate my credit card. There was noone at the exit so I parked and went hunting for someone who could help me. When I finally found someone, they kindly ejected my card and explained that their machines use a light to detect when you insert your card. Since my card is made of clear plastic, the light shone right through causing the machine to think the slot was still empty.

It’s an obvious oversight, but who do you blame? American Express? The company that made the parking garage payment system? I’m not sure, but I don’t use that card in automated machines anymore.

That experience reminded me of the importance of thinking though edge cases. Most people don’t have clear credit cards, but for those that do, it’s important that they work everywhere. A good software developer can build an application that works 95% of the time. A great one will think of all the unique edge cases (like clear credit cards) and build systems that are smart enough to handle them. At Torbit, we automatically transform websites so they load faster. It’s a tricky process and there are hundreds of edge cases that could trip us up. I often get asked how we compare to various competitors. For us, the big differentator is that last 5%. It’s being smart enough to know what to do with broken CSS or how to handle JavaScript that’s missing a very important semi-colon. It means we do the right thing even when you send us a JPEG with a “text/html” content type.

The last 5% is the hardest part, but oftentimes, it’s the most important.


I’m a published author!

One of my life goals is to write a book. I recently came one step closer to that goal with a contribution to the new Web Performance Daybook Volume 2 from O’Reilly.

The project started out of Stoyan Stefanov‘s Performance Calendar which was a series of articles from a bunch of us in the performance industry. The articles are now published in one handy collection containing lots of insights from some of the smartest people I know. I was honored to participate in this project and wrote Chapter 7 titled “Automating Website Performance”.

The authors’ royalties will be donated to a Web Performance charity so grab a copy for everyone in your organization (Paperback, Kindle). You’ll be benefiting a good cause and learning at the same time!

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Torbit demo with Robert Scoble

A few weeks ago I met up with Robert Scoble to chat about what we’ve been building at Torbit. The video he made was published today. You can check it out below.

Thanks again Robert! Rob La Gesse too!

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What I’ve been working on lately: Torbit Insight

This week at Torbit we launched a new product called Torbit Insight. It’s a real user measurement tool that let’s you see how fast your site is loading for every visitor on every page. There’s nothing else like it on the market and it’s obviously resonating with people since we just launched and it’s already being used by some of the largest sites on the internet!

I wrote a longer post about our launch on the Torbit blog so I won’t rehash everything here. You can also see the coverage we got on TechCrunch, The Next Web, CloudAve and K9 Ventures. I particularly love the coverage we got in other countries, like this article in Spanish or this one in Chinese.

The response from everyone has been nothing short of amazing. It’s been great hearing from our users who seem particularly impressed with our real-time features. Take these tweets for example:

We worked hard on this product and it’s exciting to finally get to share it with the world. I am so grateful to everyone who had a part in making it happen. To Jon, Ilya, Mike, Dave, Chelsea, Hudson, Zack, Katie, Manu, Daniel – thank you all. I’ve never been a part of a better team. Once again, you make me feel like the luckiest guy in the world.

For my faithful readers, I hope you will measure the speed of your website, with Insight.


Join top sites in protesting censorship on the web

Recently many large sites on the web, like Reddit and Wikipedia have announced plans to black out their sites in opposition to the bills that have been proposed in the US House and Senate in the name of “stopping piracy”. The problem with these bills is that they would give the government the power to censor content on the web while breaking the underlying infrastructure of the internet. Corporate supporters of HR3261 (SOPA) and S968 (PIPA) demand the ability to take down any web site that affects their profits, without due process or judicial oversight. Hoping you wouldn’t notice or care, the majority of our elected representatives want to give them that right.

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP (PIPA) act are just another instance of the government meddling in things they don’t understand while giving themselves more power.

While progress is being made at stopping these bills, it is important that we continue to raise awareness of what’s going on. There have already been illegal seizures by Homeland Security’s ICE that highlight the danger of allowing the government to block sites at will.

This weekend at Torbit, we built a JavaScript widget that makes it easy for any site to join the protest against SOPA, PIPA and other censorship on the web. Just paste a snippet of JavaScript into your website to add an interstitial to your site with information about SOPA and how to contact your local representatives. By default it will only be displayed on January 18th from 8am–8pm EST (1300–0100 UTC). It’s available as a WordPress plugin, Blogger widget, Typepad widget, as well as a simple javascript snippet. Check out the screenshot below to see what it looks like or click here to try it out.


O’Reilly interview about Torbit

I recently attended and spoke at the Velocity Conference. While I was there, Mac Slocum grabbed me and we spent a few minutes talking about mobile performance. Mac is the Online Managing Editor for O’Reilly and it was fun to get to share some of the ways we are thinking about mobile performance at Torbit. The video is less than 5 minutes long. Check it out.

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Speaking at Velocity Conference

In a couple weeks I’ll be speaking at O’Reilly’s 2011 Velocity Conference. Velocity is an annual gathering of people who care a lot about web performance. The tagline this year is “Automated, Optimized, Ubiquitous”. Of course, “Automated” describes nicely what we’re doing at Torbit — taking cutting-edge performance techniques and making them available to anyone with a website. I’ll be speaking on the 15th and I’m looking forward to sharing some of the things we’ve learned.

The conference is taking place in Santa Clara, CA on June 14-16. Each year Velocity attracts the best known names in the industry and speakers from companies like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft present their latest research and findings. The schedule is crammed with great content and I’m honored to be included on the roster. My talk will focus on mobile optimizations and I’ll be going into more detail on the new localStorage optimizations we have developed at Torbit for delivering amazing mobile performance.

I’m looking forward to the event and I hope to see lots of familiar faces there on June 14th. Let me know if you’re planning to attend as I’d love to meet up and make lots of new friends while I’m there.


Talking about Torbit at BDNT

A few weeks ago Robert Reich called me up and asked if I would present Torbit at the Boulder New Tech Meetup. They’d had a cancelation and needed someone to fill in at the last minute. Of course, I jumped at the chance. Here’s 5 minutes of me talking about my favorite company in the world and answering a few questions at the end:


My new gig: making the internet faster

I’m incredibly excited to announce a brand new company from Jon Fox and me. It’s called Torbit. We’re here with a simple but audacious mission: to make the internet faster.

Jon and I met at TechStars in 2007 and have been good friends ever since. Jon’s previous company was IntenseDebate which he sold to Automattic. We have both been itching to get into another startup and we’re extremely excited about Torbit. I have a huge amount of respect for Jon and I’m stoked for the chance to finally get to work with him.

The idea behind Torbit is to have a service that automatically speeds up your website.  We want to take all the best practices for website speed optimization and apply them automatically to your website.  Jon and I have both wasted countless hours learning this stuff on our own so we both feel the pain and have a good idea of how to build out a solution.  I’m looking forward to stretching new muscles this time around as I tackle more of the business side of the company.

If you want to know more, head over to We’d love any feedback you may have on what we’re doing. We’re also currently looking for some brave souls to be our first customers when we launch, so if you’re interested, be sure to sign up.

We have a huge vision and a ton of work ahead of us. I’m looking forward to doing my part at making the internet better by making it faster.