Right Now

Dear Live Mosaic Customer,
Over the past several months, I have made lot of progress in finding a solution to deliver your Live Mosaic content to you. My plan is to export the Live Mosaic story content to WordPress, which is a very well established blogging platform. This will allow me to deliver to you an archive of files containing your Live Mosaic website in a blog format. Please keep in mind that I will only be able to deliver story content (text, comments, photos and videos) and any static custom pages your site may have had.

I hope to be contacting each of you individually in the next few months with information about your site. I will create a temporary WordPress website with your Live Mosaic content for you to review. I am currently considering options for delivering the files which may vary depending on the amount of data associated with a particular site. I will also be happy to make recommendations for choosing another service to host the personal website you began with Live Mosaic.

I recently started looking for a new job and unfortunately, this has greatly reduced the amount of time I have available to work on this project. In the near future, I hope to at least be able to put your websites back online in WordPress format so that you will have the content available for viewing. I think that I will also be able to host your existing content indefinitely, without cost to you, if you would like me to do that. I will be contacting each of you individually with information about your site. I am still considering options for delivering the website files to you.

Once again, please know that although this process will take some time, my intention truly is to archive your site for you.

Patience Henson

Tungsten, Inc., April 26, 2007 – December 3, 2013

Last week I went down to the Comptroller’s office and then to the Secretary of State and officially dissolved Tungsten, Inc. The name Tungsten is so Matt. I remember him choosing it for the metal in lightbulbs which symbolizes ideas. The company was always a kind of aside in my mind since there wasn’t much to it and it wasn’t mine. But now that I think about it, it must have been very exciting to Matt to have the experience of starting his own company. Visiting the state government offices to dissolve the company was such a special experience that I can imagine just how magical it must have been to go through the steps of beginning. My role in the company was a sort of angel investor and I think in my mind that the company entity will rest as a seed bed for ideas. It is strange that even with the dissolution of Tungsten, I do not see that seed bed as extinguished.

The picture below is from when Live Mosaic went online. I haven’t recorded the exact dates for the website’s life because I don’t know them off hand. Maybe I will research it one day. Matt always spoke of and treated Tungsten and Live Mosaic so differently. Live Mosaic was the company’s product of the moment, and Tungsten was all encompassing of Matt’s ideas, past, present and future.


Our Words

I am heartbroken 🙁
I loved the site and as parents of 4, our youngest was the inspiration for subscribing… it was literally her baby book and filled with important memories of our family. Some of the photos I cannot replicate, and I am beyond sad about everything being deleted. My sister in law maintained a subscription with a site called babysite.com and they provided a disk of the site should you choose to choose to archive it. I went with Live Mosaic because I thought it was so much better. I have been feeling as if something precious has been stolen from me, since my inability to access the website began. Through web searching I found your husband’s obituary, and I have felt such sadness for you and what you and your children must be facing every minute of every day. I am so very sorry for your loss. I am overwhelmed. I don’t know what to do. I guess its really completely gone and I just don’t have much of a choice do I? It’s amazing… you must feel the same way. One persons life really does matter doesn’t it. We all have but a short time to do the right things, and live the best way we can. God Bless you and your family.


The LiveMosaic Story


LiveMosaic was Matt’s private family website start up business. It is an honor to know that I was the inspiration for his business. Since Summer was born I have maintained a family website for stories and pictures. In 2003, I started a self hosted WordPress blog. Matt liked that I did it. I never realized how much he liked it until he started talking about making a business out of it. He felt that everyone should be able to have a website like the one I made for our family, that it should be easy to use, that it should be private and the content protected, and that everyone should have their own domain name. I think it was 2007 that he started thinking about it and it was the fall of 2008 that it went online.

He started out with a few people helping him, including a developer, and he searched out advice. The strategy was to invest a little money himself and bootstrap his way through. Since 2008, LiveMosaic took the place of any hobby he might have had. He worked hard on it and eventually became the sole person working on the project. From the beginning he had a very slow trickle of customers which increased slowly to about one new customer a week. He was obsessive about customer service and he was always looking for the feature that would be the break through to getting more customers. With background uploading (which didn’t really exist at the time) and true high definition video before YouTube had it, LiveMosaic was a really high quality product. Unfortunately, I never felt like it got beyond a niche market and that apparently, no one really wanted what we wanted in a family website.

I considered myself an investor and primary support so that Matt could pursue his dream. When I think back about the experience of having a family business a lot of thoughts flood up, but really no strong emotional nostalgia for the business. I think maybe I was good at supporting Matt but not such a good business person. I know I hoped that a steady increase in the number of customers would eventually mean financial stability even if it wasn’t a money maker. Running the business did not cost that much anyway, except in time. But I also tend to have a strong sense that if no one is going the direction that you want them to, then the direction you want to go is probably not the right one. I think this was definitely the case by the end of 2010 when Matt started to think about selling LiveMosaic as a service for photographer websites.

I always thought LiveMosaic was an awesome product. There is such a heap of trash on the internet, that I will always make it a point to support sites that are high quality and have an aesthetic like what we had with LiveMosaic. I’m sure I have many more thoughts to post about LiveMosaic, but I wanted to give a simple overview of what Matt did. It was such a large part of his life for several years. Just for a moment, I wonder where it would be now if he were still alive, as it comes to five years since it went online.

Right Now

I’m happy to report that I have been making progress in exporting the LiveMosaic content to WordPress. It’s still a work in progress, but this week I was able to stand up the test site I am working with as a WordPress blog with posts containing the textual story content as well as the first image in the story. My goal is to export all of the content and only the LiveMosaic features absolutely necessary to support the content. Next, I will be working to get all of the image content displayed in the blog and to find a way to import comments.

This is exciting for me because I feel like what I have now is deliverable..

Matt's Words

In an email introducing LiveMosaic:

Business Plan. I’ve got a lot of this but very little of what is on paper is current. I’ve enclosed scope and strategy documents from when the working name was “circle.com” Things have changed quite a bit but this is probably still helpful. The enclosed Biz plan is more current (just ignore the schedule).

We don’t have any technical documentation except for code and comments. That’s something that we’ll need to fix as the development team grows.

UI – There’s a storyboard but it’s on paper (flip charts). At this point everything on the storyboard is in the design. We’re just fixing bugs and making enhancements as they are requested. Once we’re ready to start adding the next wave of functionality we’ll need to go back and update the plan.

AWS – We’re using:
EC2 (small instances. One for production and one for test. As we grow we’ll either need to move to larger instances or start load balancing across multiple instances).
EBS. We use this to store our application, user data and the database
S3. We just use this for backup and to store instance images
We aren’t currently using SQS, the DB, dev pay, etc.
In addition to Amazon’s offerings, we are also using RightScale’s management front end.
A consultant sort of half set up MySQL replication and failover and Scalr elastic scaling. We can get him to finish the job when we need it.
Programming Languages:
The App server uses:
Base Application Framework is TurboGears 1.0
TG is a Python-based framework – see this http://www.turbogears.org/about/
We’ve replaced many of their components:
We’re now using SQLAlchemy for the ORM, MySQL DB, Genshi Templates
There is also a video encoder application that runs python.
It also calls a BASH script that handles calling the various encoding tools (FFMPEG, etc)
Both of the server apps are managed with Supervisord
On the client side, we use:
jQuery and its plugins for just about all javascript.
SWFUpload for the multi-select uploader
Slideshow Pro for the video/image slideshows
We haven’t tested in chrome. From what I hear, it’s not quite ready for prime time. But it will be eventually…

There are many areas where you could take ownership. The trick will be to find something that’s important enough to require your skills, but that isn’t so urgent as to preclude a ramp up. It would also be good if most of its complexity were not already completed, so that you can really own it. I’m thinking that the LiveMosaic site might be a good candidate.

As I mentioned, we’re also behind on test…

29 September 2008

EC2 = My life after Matt’s death

Last week I finished up shutting down LiveMosaic as Matt knew it. I thought I would post the steps I used to resize the data storage in case I need to do something similar again. Then I realized I could get geeky and morose and make the analogy between this and adjusting to life without Matt.

  1. Pair down the volume of Matt’s experience to my experience of him.
  2. Take a snapshot (A) of my experience of Matt from the instance (Build1) that was our life together.
  3. Create a new volume (Prometheus, sized 500G) of my experience of Matt from snapshot A.
  4. Create a new instance (Patience1) of my life.
  5. Attach volume Prometheus to instance Patience1– integrate my experience of Matt into my new experience of myself now.
  6. Create a new empty volume (Phoenix, sized 200G) of experience and attach to instance Patience1, aka the way forward.
  7. Start instance Patience1 and get a public DNS.
  8. Log into instance Patience1:

    ssh -i Downloads/phenson.pem ec2-user@ec2-xx-xxx-xx-xxx.compute-1.amazonaws.com

  9. View available disk devices to help determine the correct device name to use:

    cat /proc/partitions

  10. Create a file system on my new volume of experience:

    $ sudo mkfs -t ext3 device_name

    for volume Phoenix ONLY.

    This step assumes that you’re mounting an empty volume. If you’re mounting a volume that already has data on it (for example, a public data set), don’t use mkfs before mounting the volume (skip to the next step instead). Otherwise you’ll format the volume and delete the existing data.

    from docs.aws.amazon.com

  11. Create data directories and mount the volumes.

    $ sudo mkdir /prometheus
    $ sudo mkdir /phoenix
    $ sudo mount device_name /prometheus
    $ sudo mount device_name /phoenix

  12. Restore data from the larger volume Prometheus to the smaller volume Phoenix.

    sudo cp -ur /prometheus/* /phoenix

    Most of this process involved sitting around (personal down time) waiting and hoping that the server would not give me hard time about copying a large amount of data just using wildcards. Background processing for me as well as diffing the two directories in chunks to make sure everything was accounted for.

  13. Take a snapshot (B) of the new volume Phoenix. I have arrived at point B.
  14. Launch a new instance Patience2 to test the process of detaching the newly sized data from one instance and reattaching to the current instance of my life. That is, repeat for the rest of my life with every change, every experience, every instance that is mine.

Yes, that was complicated!

Right Now

I am done with Amazon Web Services (except for storing data there). I reduced the scope of the LiveMosaic data, shut down the services and am moving my work on LiveMosaic to Webfaction. It promises to be orders of magnitude more user friendly than AWS and reasonably priced.



I always forget that there are a lot of photos still on Matt’s iPhone because he didn’t take them off. I’ve looked at them before, but just a few at a time. Yesterday, I was looking for a particular photo when I saw this one, one of the last iPhone photos that Matt took. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then adding a little context balloons the story to a short novel.

I don’t know how consciously or unconsciously he did it, but Matt was able to capture that natural lighting haze that photographers love so much. And it is shining on me. It makes me think of one evening not long before Matt died. He had come home from work and was standing in the kitchen next to the stove talking to me while I cooked as he always did. It was winter so it was dark outside already and all of the light was yellow from the kitchen lights. He was still wearing his coat and he was talking to me about work and Live Mosaic and not being able to get traction to move forward. He was so discouraged and at some point he said, “I think I’m ready to try someone else’s idea.” In retrospect, I’m sure that his health was largely what was wearing him down, but at the time, these words and his dejection as he said them struck my heart very deeply.

Since Matt died I have remembered this evening often. I know that Matt didn’t mean to try someone else’s idea by dying or the die for someone else’s idea. Still, I can’t help feeling a strong connection between his words and his death. Part of it is my own feelings of discouragement and part of it is that new found sense of treasuring life that people who have lost a loved one often gain. I wonder what idea Matt saw in me.


This photo is of the kids of course, but it also strikes me how completely my face is turned from the camera.

In writing this post, I have discovered how I can create the experience of Matt speaking to me from the beyond. I emailed these photos to myself from his phone using his email address. Then I can open up an email from him and see photos that he took. It turns out that the internet and technology in general allow us to receive messages from our loved ones, even from beyond this time.