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Archive for October, 2008


Using Screengrab to fix Cogmap printing problems

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

Drumroll please!

Oakland A's Org Chart

One of the most common emails we get here at Cogmap Intergalactice Headquarters is that printing huge charts is bad, putting charts in a powerpoint is bad, and doing anything other than playing with them inside Cogmap is bad.

While nothing is better than playing with them inside Cogmap, we have found some solutions! The printing problem, interestingly, is not actually a Cogmap problem. We actually have a fairly nice print.css that renders charts nicely for printers. Unfortunately, web browsers do a terrible, terrible job of printing web pages that are very, very, very wide and they all basically explode trying to print things like Cogmap charts.

Here is what we have found works pretty well:

  1. Install Screengrab in your firefox browser:
  2. Go to the chart you want to print or put in a powerpoint
  3. Zoom to large (this makes the chart show titles)
  4. Press the Esc key (this makes the chart go full-screen in your browser)
  5. Use Screengrab to capture the complete page

Now you have a giant image of the entire org chart.  You can compress this into a powerpoint slide or use how you see fit.  Good luck!

Feel free to post more printing tricks in the comments below.

Watch Brent tear IgniteBaltimore apart!

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

Brent at IgniteBaltimore
Energy?  Check.  Spazz?  Check.  Make everyone laugh?  Check.

My mission as one of the co-organizers of IgniteBaltimore was to make everyone laugh during an informative, educational presentation where the slides are auto-advancing every 15 seconds.

I figured most of the other presentations would be people being serious.  I thought, “I can be serious and funny FTW!”  So I brought it like crazy.  I may live to regret, but here is the youtube:

Become a fan of Cogmap at Facebook!

Monday, October 27th, 2008

We made a facebook page!  Come be a fan!

DMNews loves Cogmap!

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

Great article in DMNews on Cogmap:  Sara Holoubek writes a nice couple of paragraphs and is an official friend to the Cogmappers.  I owed her lunch before, now I guess we are going someplace nice!

Bubble 2.0

Monday, October 20th, 2008

bubble 2.0I have blogged extensively about big raises haunting companies at some point in the future and I think we will soon see this really haunt companies as they are unable to find people to lead additional financings at valuations anywhere near what the last round was at.  As Sequoia has indicated, and has been blogged about extensively, there will now be a rush to profitability as people realize you can no longer ride the VC wave.

Wait, companies have no profits and lived off the fat of VC investments?  That sounds just like the last bubble!  What went wrong here.

Here is my analysis:  The theoretical difference between this round of site development and the last was that the last had very little hope of creating real ad-based revenue streams.  After the success of Google,, and others in building a monetization vehicle for ad inventory, it has been supposed that people could build popular web sites and they would be able to monetize them at any point by slapping ads on them.

The problem with this theory is that it is true, but really only at super scale.  If you are getting billions of impressions per day, then the fact that ad networks have low, low, low cpms can be overcome by volume.  Without massive scale, then you suddenly need you own sales force out hawking your site.  While the market is more comfortable buying online ad inventory than previously, you are still acutely vulnerable to a downturn and it still requires massive investment to build an effective salesforce and gain share of madison avenue mind.

As start-ups built increasingly niche-y sites with less and less obvious advertising monetization opportunities, the fact that there was a lot of traffic and the fact that they were able to build the 1.0 for $300,000 before hiring 150 people and raising $50 million became immaterial.  Today there are many companies that have raised a ton of money, are nowhere near profitable, and scaling them back down to three person zombie companies is impractical for investors.   Remember, was not a completely stupid idea.  Petmeds has a bang-up business today.  It is all about how you execute it.  Now that people cannot “focus on growing the site traffic”, they will find that being forced to rapidly build revenue streams is trickier than they probably hoped.

Just like last time.

New map type: “restricted editing” charts

Monday, October 13th, 2008

We are pleased to announce a great new innovation in public organization charting: “restricted editing” charts (or “read-only” charts). These combine the best (and worst) of our public and private mapping options. Like our public maps, they can be seen by anyone. Like our private maps, editing is controlled via access control lists. So once you create a restricted editing map, only you and people you designate will be able to edit and update the map (although anyone can leave comments).

The best use case for a chart of this nature would be companies that want to publish their organization charts to do so without fear of the chart being tampered with.

I do want to temper my enthusiasm and indicate that, despite the fact that this was an oft-requested feature, I am not a huge fan of this map type. We have very, very little malicious map editing here at Cogmap and many good contributions to maps every day. Maintaining access control lists can be burdensome and we do worry that charts will become stale.

With that in mind, we are reserving the right to consider implementing a rule like, “If a map is unedited for more than a year, we will convert it from restricted editing to public”. It would have to be a pretty small company to not have any changes in a year. If you think you are that small, then I can tell you there is almost no chance that your map would be maliciously edited if it were public.

We are also thinking about allowing people to edit these maps but make it easy for an administrator to roll back edits.  That would allow charts that have been abandoned by an administrator to remain living charts and evolve appropriately.

This release was coded somewhat haphazardly (it just suddenly seemed pretty easy to do, so we just whipped it out), so if you encounter any weirdness, don’t hesitate to dash off an email to us. I am sure a few things slipped through our fingers since a change like this impacts many different parts of the code base. As always, we figured you would enjoy having it now rather than waiting a few weeks for us to feel really, really good about the release.

Also, we need a better name for these charts. Would love your feedback on this via either email or in the comments. If you give us a name we use, we will hook you up with some schwag!