The Real Want Button

Business Insider just posted an article highlighting the fact that Want Button that Facebook is rumored to announce this afternoon does in fact already exist and is doing quite well.

(Full Disclosure: I’m a part of the Want Team)


Book – The PayPal Wars

Yesterday (7/10/2010), I read “The PayPal Wars” by Eric M. Jackson and enjoyed it very much.

The following items I found particularly interesting:

  • The slam of the Arthur Andersen & Co. culture (I started my career in the consulting division of Arthur Andersen & Co.) .
  • The notion of needing a succinct compelling message of your products value proposition.
  • The conversations around the network effect. ( I’d suggest the O’Reilly book Web 2.0: A Strategy Guide for a more detailed discussion of network effects especially in the context of a web based service) .
  • The fact that user generated content (eBay sellers) including links to PayPal content was such a big part of their success.
  • The discussion of the dot com peak in 2000.
  • The internal “Unix/Oracle” vs. Windows NT platform schism.
  • The approaches developed and adopted to fight fraud including the introduction of a CAPTCHA.
  • The history behind the development of the various policies and the reasons for the development of the “business account”.
  • The regulatory hassles and challenges.
  • The competitive back and forth interplay between eBay/Billpoint and PayPal.
  • The cultural differences between PayPal and eBay.

The whole story is fascinating.

Coincidentally I ran across the following article this week that is very consistent with the story told in the book.

Overall the book contains a lot of thought provoking material.   I’m sure it will still be sparking thoughts in the days to come.

Installing Magento on a Linode VPS with Ubuntu 9.10

Magento is an interesting and emerging player in the e-commerce space. I wanted to get a feel for the application so I thought I’d install a copy of the community edition in a Linode VPS.


Although you can run all of the following as the root user, it is strongly recommended to create a non-root account and run the following commands using sudo.

  1. Become a Linode customer and create an instance in the Linode Manager using the Ubuntu 9.10 profile.
  2. SSH into your VPS instance using the root account and the password that you configured when provisioning your Linode.
  3. Install the core software for a LAMP Server (Apache, MySQL, PHP) by running the following command:
    sudo tasksel install lamp-server
    A blue installation progress screen will appear, you’ll be asked to provide certain configuration parameters (like a root password for MySQL.
    When the blue screen disappears the installation of Apache, MySQL and PHP will be complete.
  4. Edit /etc/apt/sources.list and uncomment the ‘universe’ repsoitories.
  5. Update apt so that it is aware of the new repositories by running the following command:
    sudo apt-get update
  6. Install mcrypt by running the following command:

    $ sudo apt-get install php5-mcrypt

  7. Enable mcrypt by editing the php.ini file by editing /etc/php5/apache2/php.ini and adding the following line to
    the extensions section of the php.ini file:
  8. Generate new Symlinks in /etc/apache2/mods-enabled so that Apache 2 enable the extension for URL rewriting by running the following
    $ sudo a2enmod rewrite
  9. Next the following lines need to be put at the end of /etc/apache2/apache2.conf:

    <Directory "/var/www/magento">
    AllowOverride All
    (Assuming that Magento is going to be installed in /var/www/magento otherwise, edit the path accordingly)
  10. Next install the additional software required for the installation with the following commands:

    $ sudo apt-get install php5-curl php5-gd subversion
  11. Restart Apache for the PHP settings and the Apache settings to take affect:

    $ sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 restart

  12. Create a MySQL database for the installation with the following command:
    $ sudo mysqladmin -u root -p create 'magento'

  13. Install Magento from subversion using the following commands:

    $ cd /var/www
    $ sudo svn checkout
    $ sudo mv 1.3 magento
  14. Set the correct permissions for the installation wizard with the following commands:

    $ sudo chown -R www-data.www-data /var/www/magento/app
    $ sudo chown -R www-data.www-data /var/www/magento/var
    $ sudo chown -R www-data.www-data /var/www/magento/media
    $ sudo chmod 770 /var/www/magento/app/etc
    $ sudo chmod 770 /var/www/magento/var
    $ sudo chmod 770 /var/www/magento/media
    $ sudo chmod 770 /var/www/magento/media/downloadable
    $ sudo chmod 770 /var/www/magento/media/import
  15. You should now be able to run the Magento Installation Wizard by pointing your browser at http://hostname/magento/ .

Your mileage may vary but the above steps worked for me.

This post was inspired by Installing Magento on Slicehost with Ubuntu.