We Have Trinity!

We Have Trinity!

About 2 weeks before Kanye West rose to internationally acclaimed fame, he came to George Washington University’s “Spring Fling” (undergraduate spring concert) and performed several soon to be hits alongside John Legend.

Among his songs was “Kanye’s New Workout Plan.” After a few loops of “eat your salad no dessert, get that man you deserve” he stopped the music, grabbed the microphone and proclaimed, “who better to remix this song I made, than me!” He was right, spun up a fist pump evoking remix that made the students on the university quad go crazy (precursor to going nuts / ape-s****).

Kanye is an asshole for sure, but he is also a master at his craft. In his song Spaceship he goes on to say, “Lock yourself in a room doing 5 beats a day for 3 summers.” He knew hard work and consistent work is what leads to mastery.

I’m not a musician, but I have to imagine there must be that moment, that ah-ha, I got it, this is it that the Kanyes of the world must feel when they get the beat just right.

But is it an ah-hah? Or is it something deeper within us?

A much younger Zack and Kunal. About 7 years before the events described below. Zack just finished his prototype that makes the screen turn the color your shirt.

I started thinking about one of my favorite musicians and the journey he must have taken to realize this 3 second clip is the ah-hah for his puzzle. Let’s hear it together.

Play Sample

Do you recognize it? How about this clip:

Play Sample

It is the theme song to the original 90210 clip from the 1990s era TV show.

So what exactly were Thomas Bangalter and DJ Falcon thinking and how long were they working on their song Together?

The song itself starts with a question, “Are we in this thing alone or are we in it together?” Together debuted in August of 2000, a repetitive loop with the single word Together. How many times did this loop play, and how many different samples did they have to play until this 3 second clip hit them like, YES.

…here is the full track.

Sure, I get it, Together may not be your jam.

Thomas Bangalter produced music as part of a few other groups. “Ooh baby, I feel like the Music Sounds Better with You…” — that international 1998 hit, Thomas Bangalter (Stardust).

Music’s got you feeling so free, you have to celebrate? Celebrate and dance so free? One More Time, an instant classic from 2000 by Daft Punk (Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo).

Who can create a better remix than the masters of the original art themselves? In 2007, Daft Punk toured the world, and put on this finale.

Human After All, Together, One More Time, Music Sounds Better Than You — riffs from each of these songs pulled together into 10 minutes of nostalgia and excitement for their fans.

About halfway through, 5 minutes of crescendo build up and the duo drops the 90210 beat as the opening to the second crescendo bringing back their mega-hits like One More Time and Music Sounds Better Than You.

The crowd goes totally nuts, one more time, as they close out their concert.

When Zack and I decided to go forward with Api2PDF, Tim opted out. This meant we could not use OpenWater resources to build out our idea.

In the old days, I would design the UX, then I would write a coding plan, I would code myself, then figure out how to launch the product. Tim figured out how to sell the product and after he sold it, he was also the first support rep we had.

Over the years we have been fortunate and seen our teams grow. We now have a full team dedicated to support, another team dedicated to sales, and yet another who who is in charge of building the product. It is to the point where I can discuss my vision with our software architect and UX designer and a few months later the features appear in our software.

We wondered, without company resources at our disposal, would we have what it takes to stay motivated? Would we be able to stay focused enough to build a minimum viable product and would we be energized enough to actually get it passed launch?

We went back to our roots. How can we build something from nothing? We thought through the components and our expertise:

  • (ZACK) Billing System
  • (ZACK) Customer Portal
  • (ZACK) API Usage Meter
  • (KUNAL) Website to Advertise Ourselves
  • (KUNAL) The Actual Convert to PDF API
  • (ZACK) Implement Kunal’s Crazy Idea

We got started and set aside a small budget to help us offload work to affordable overseas developers. After a few weeks of moonlighting, we were ready.

Our goal with Api2PDF was to make PDF generation so cheap that we would take the bottom out of the market. To make that idea work, we needed to get the best of the both worlds of serverless technology. Serverless, at least in theory, means you pay only for the compute power you use, by the second.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides a serverless technology called lambda. Microsoft Azure provides one called functions. The crazy idea was to split the workload across both providers to get the high power of AWS with the accessibility of Azure.

We were ready for our test day, Trinity.

Zack arrived a few minutes before me on a Saturday morning. He had all 3 of his monitors fired up with the various components that we needed to glue together.

On one monitor, Visual Studio, fired up in debugging mode, running the web portal; on another monitor Azure Functions console, where we could see PDF processing in real time; and in the third a Node.JS test app ready to battle test the whole apparatus.

He clicks GO .

Data starts flying across the screen:

  • PDF Generated (0.000021 billed)
  • PDF Generated (0.000011 billed)
  • $1 Monthly Charge Billed
  • Auto Renewal Hit
  • Large PDF Generated (0.030011 billed)
  • Large PDF Generated (0.500011 billed)

Thousands of messages like the one fired off, we stopped the experiment and shared high fives and a few expletives.

Trinity was a success!

I wondered out loud if how we felt watching numbers fly across the screen gave us the same feeling that Dr. Feynman felt during trinity. (Trinity was the first test detonation of the atomic bomb. While the bomb overall has been controversial, when trinity happened all of the people working on the project basically were like “holy shit, this thing actually works.”)

I believe this feeling of wanting to know, can it be done, more than anything else is the secret sauce behind invention and art. The ah-hah is just the first step, the first taste to wanting to create more.

*As a side note Kanye West / Daft Punk collaborated on Stronger. It was actually a collaboration, not just Kanye sampling. Daft Punk re-composed their loops of Harder*Better*Faster*Stronger.


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