Mark Soper's Blog

Picking good NCAA Basketball Tournament brackets is a lot like value investing: look for good opportunities that are undervalued in the market. I've exerimented with this approach for years now and finally decided to write some code to automate the process. I linked up with a friend Chris Mihm who's been using a similar approach and we started geeking out on hoops math. ... more
With three boys - ages 3, 2, and 7 months - it's a constant challenge to find the right context in which we can have a great experience together. Among other things, I've found that games and interactive stories for the iPad can be great for quality time together, especially at bedtime. There are thousands of apps that the kids will probably like, so I look for things that help them learn - that narrows it down a lot. But to really narrow it down, I look for apps that I also actually like myself, because if I don't want to play it myself, them I'm less likely to be involved, and isn't that the point? Here's are six of those apps. ... more
I've had the opportunity to help four early-stage mobile app startup teams build their first products over the past two years. Backbone has become a familiar tool in the process. Here I talk about what I've learned in using and extending Backbone.Router. ... more
Startup folks, looking for inspiration for 2012? TED talks are an awesome source of inspiration. I listen to them on road trips while the kids are sleeping, and I started keeping a list of the talks that were most inspiring to me as an entrepreneur. ... more
Runkeeper is a service that improves your fitness experience through the mobile device you probably already carry when you go for a run, bike ride, etc. It tracks your workout in a bunch of helpful ways, but really excels at making solo sports training a more social experience. Runkeeper is used heavily by a group of Boston tech cyclists and on a recent ride we cooked up an idea for a service that combines charitable donation with fitness training in a new way. With the recently announced Health Graph API opening Runkeeper to development, we set out to hack something up. ... more
Part 1 in a series of articles exploring real-time and historical analytics for Node.js, covering analytics options currently available in the Node.js ecosystem. I think there's a need for better analytics in the Node.js ecosystem to support engineers and business folks. I'm researching and writing to stimulate feedback on this, and to explore what if anything needs to be developed in terms of open source modules, APIs, etc. ... more
I used JQuery Mobile in a 4-week project building a basic mobile web app on Node.js. Here's what I learned about it, what I liked and didn't like. ... more
Three years ago I left my sales engineering job at an analytics software company to start an internet company. This is the story of what happened between then and now from a personal perspective, the stuff I might have been writing about along the way had I not been so busy trying to get a company going. ... more
I recently finished a mobile web development contract based on Node.js. Looking around for but not finding a javascript-compatible template system like python's Mako, I came across Nodejitsu's JSDOM-based Weld approach to rendering HTML content via DOM manipulation on the server. What an awesome idea: Write your original rendering code in JQuery and the JQuery you'll need for AJAX in browser is already done. Not much out there one this yet, so I'll go through my process here. ... more
I've been heads down on a startup for way too long. It's been a great learning experience - a piece about what was learned will be coming soon. Now it's time to move on. I'm looking forward to getting into some new things and back into writing more regularly. This shiny new blog will be a good place to do that. ... more
Touted was the featured company at the MIT Enterprise Forum Concept Clinic on Thursday. It was such a valuable experience. I presented an overview to about 25 people, including 3 panelists, in a session moderated by Lora Kratchounova of Scratch Media+Marketing. ... more
It's hard to believe Quinn was born only two months ago today. Here's a photo log of our lives since then. ... more
We’ve been working for some time with Jordan Dimov's python-calais, a Python wrapper for the OpenCalais Semantic Text Annotation Service. For Likematter, we extended its native support for OpenCalais’ JSON response type to include support for OpenCalais’ RDF output. Several people expressed interest in using rdflib with OpenCalais at last night’s Python meetup in Cambridge, MA - so I’ve packaged up our RDF extension as a starting point/example for folks looking to process OpenCalais RDF in Python apps. ... more
A new release of Likematter is available now. The most common suggestions we've gotten from users to this point and the steps taken in this release to respond to them. ... more
I'm pleased to announce that the Likematter alpha is now available for open registration. Likematter is a personal lens for the web. It helps you stay on top of emerging content like breaking news and career opportunities. In doing so, you automatically build a profile of your interests that you control and that will get better and better at filtering the latest information for you. ... more