Liveblogging from Plazes HQ

19h02: Well, that was great. I think all web companies should invite their users over to play from time to time. Good for users to meet (and watch) developers, good for developers to meet (and encounter the “why isn’t this working?!” wrath of) users. Thanks to the Plazes crew for being such kind hosts. I’m off.

18h35: SMS issues dealt with, we move on to the API. Turns out that the API that I thought had “disappeared” has, in fact, appeared again from the ether. Indeed even the old-school WhereAmI API is back. So you will notice that the “Where is Peter?” thingy in the sidebar at is back!

18h21: I decided to seize the bull by the horns, so to speak, and see if I could help fix the bugs afflicting Plazes-by-SMS. And it turns out that they weren’t bugs at all, but a quirky set of “exceptional use cases” related to the fact then when I stepped off the plane in Zurich last week I sent my first Plazes SMS from my European SIM card without first registering my new mobile number on This resulted in a new account being created for me (good behaviour, in theory), and so it was that new “anonymous” account — something like “mobile12345” — that was having its Plaze updated, not “me.” Problem now solved — by texting login reinvented password to Plazes (where “password” is my Plazes password). This has the effect of reconnecting my mobile number with me.

17h36: Just got a great overview of the new Plazes back-end, and in the process learned a lot about how large-scale Ruby applications work. There is no doubt that there are a lot of smart people in this room.

17h22: The new site begets new URLs. So I am now Which means, I think, that I am user number 1185. I am also

17h17: Because the New Improved Plazes went live while I was in the air over the Atlantic, and I’ve been scurrying around ever since, sitting here at Plazes has given me my first opportunity to actually take the new site out for a ride. I like the fact that it’s much simpler: functionality has been rearranged and, especially if you rip the old muscle memory out of your mind, the new site glides much more easily. Of course some of the old school functionality has gone away, at least for now (everyone tells me to hold my breath, and that treasured features may indeed return). And for those of us who took delight in Plazes API fiddling, we have to hold our collective breath too.

16h52: Eavesdropping on a conversation about a Plazes bug that I’m actually experiencing at the same time. It’s like overhearing Han Solo talking to Chewy about the busted engines.

16h48: Here’s a quick 360 degree look at the new Plazes space:

16h25: Oops — forgot to put the phone on VibroSilent. Got a Jaiku beep (Mark’s first Jaiku from his new MacBook). VibroSilent now engaged.

16h20: In the old world one of big challenges of moving into a new office (as Plazes did last week) would be wiring everyone up with a telephone. But nobody here has a telephone on their desk. It’s weird. I suppose anyone they need to talk to is either (a) online or (b) across the room.

16h17: Hey, something exciting happened: Sean Treadway came to the office. He’s sitting in front of me as I type.

16h15: Okay, so there’s lots of work happening here, but short of packet-sniffing I’ve no idea what it actually is that everyone’s doing. So go look at my Flickr photos from this morning while you’re waiting for something Really Exciting to happen.

16h00: Here’s what’s in the middle of the room:


15h56: I suppose that if You Out There have any questions for the Plazes Crew, now is that time to ask them. IM me at reinventedpei on AIM.

15h52: Everyone is Very Serious here. I’ve never been in a room full of coders coding (it’s a largely solitary process for me), so this is interesting to watch. There’s an occasional face-to-face meeting around a workstation (in German, so I’m not sure whether it’s “shall we change the logo to pink” or “yes, I know everything’s going to hell, but what am I supposed to do about it?”). But otherwise everyone is focused on their widescreen display busy making Plazes.

15h45: Visit began with a round of introductions. I’ve promptly forgotten all the names now. I am introduced as “a longtime Plazes user” here (my introduction from ye olde deprecated-by-new-release Plazes screencasts). The office here is one big space. White walls. Parquet floors. Semi-circular with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Monbijouplatz. Ironically, I can’t seem to get my Mac Plazer to work. I’m not sure whether I should jump up and shout this out loudly (if not now, when?), or quietly keep it to myself. Perhaps this could be my new job here: live bug reports from the “user in residence.”

15h34: Okay, so I’ve been installed with my own work surface here at Plazes HQ in Berlin. This is my first visit to a real live web company. At least one that’s not sequestered inside a Victorian house in Charlottetown. Apparently desks are Web 1.0 and these days it’s all about the Big White Tables. Big White Tables at the Correct Typing Height.


Shawn Day's picture
Shawn Day on June 5, 2007 - 16:45 Permalink

Thanks for allowing me to tag along with you on this trip virtually. Awesome space at Plazes…live it up.

Rob L.'s picture
Rob L. on June 5, 2007 - 18:27 Permalink

Since you are offline on AIM I’m posting this bug report here.

While I was in Banff on the weekend I plazed myself twice by SMS and Plazes put me in Bancroft, West Virginia. This in itself is a problem, but I also noticed that when I edited the Plaze online with the correct geographical information, the Google map was not refreshed with the new address info and the Plazes pin remained firmly planted in West Virginia. I seem to recall in the recent past being able to move the pin but it appears to be fixed now.

See here:…

PS — Plazes is suddenly offline/unreachable here.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on June 5, 2007 - 19:06 Permalink

Rob, the problem here is, I think (and someone @ Plazes chime in…) related to the fact that Canada and the USA share a telephone country code. Plazes grabs country information from incoming SMS messages as part of the parse of “plazing” you correctly; because Canada and the US are the “same” this sometimes creates problems. It’s happened to me in Charlottetown too. I mentioned this to SMS Sean today, and he’s aware of the problem, and apparently a fix is in the works (or at least in his dreams).

Edward Vielmetti's picture
Edward Vielmetti on June 6, 2007 - 02:35 Permalink

Thanks for the good detailed notes Peter!