What The Hell is Mosio? Plus an interview and insights on this service. ~ Ask The Admin

Thursday, January 31, 2008

What The Hell is Mosio? Plus an interview and insights on this service.

We did this piece on Mosio a while back and since then they have grown and we have grown to love them. Did we mention that all of the AtA guys are addicted to the Mosio? Read through our humorous rants and then check out a quick interview with Mosio creator Jay Sachdev. He tells us about whats new and how Mosio's back end works...

Flashback October 2007...

I came across Mosio during my normal 6 hours-a-day surfing the web. I signed up for the service a few months ago and I don't think I really grasped how cool Mosio was until I was at the bar.

A couple of my fraternity brothers were having a heated debate over the (ever so) political topic of whose breasts are bigger Pamela Anderson or Elvira. A light bulb flashed over my head and I said text that question to ask@mosio.com... No wait do it from my phone.

We did it while I was explaining that this site has a service where real live people can answer your questions via text message, and usually pretty quickly - did I mention it was Free? Yeah you knew that was coming right?!?

AskTheAdmin has covered Wikipedia's sms app and a few others. None of them gives you that extra zing of being answered by a real live person and not a machine. The first time i hit it up I asked it if it could find a review of AskTheAdmin.com. Two people found me a review I had never seen before , and summarized it. I got back a text message that said AskTheAdmin.com is a great website there is a review about them on TechWag.com. 5 seconds later I got another one saying AtA is all over StumbleUpon. Almost makes me feel famous :) but back to my original question - the boobs...

We were drunk. So while I was explaining Mosio they had already forgotten about the boobs and were intent on asking Mosio all sorts of stupid questions! Then a text popped up on my phone...

Pamela of course have you seen her in a bathing suit?

BAM! As usual I was right but, this time the fight ended so much easier... And a lot more peaceful! Now you can't put a price on that! Obviously you can use this for other things as well.

How about directions, movie listings, froogle prices anything you could have looked up in front of a computer - now someone else can look it up and text you! Sweet!

They also have a bunch of mobile apps here. As you can imagine the Chuck Noris Quote Generator was right up our alley but we pointed and stared at the Text reminders - another handy tool! Wow these mosio guys thought of everything!

Check it out, sign up, add them as a contact on your phone right next to goog411 and wikipedia. Hey they are free why not make use of them.


AskTheAdmin meets Mosio's own Jay Sachdev:

AtA: Hey Jay it has been a while since AtA reviewed Mosio, what is new and exciting in question and answer land?

Mosio: We're working on inventing a new punctuation mark that means "yes,that was sarcasm", as we're finding it doesn't translate too well into text. : )

AtA: How many subscribers do you have now? How rapidly are you growing.

Mosio: While we've decided not to release stats like the amount of users wehave, I can say that we're growing steadily and we're happy with ourgrowth. We are doing what we can to increase growth, too.

We just launched Twitter Answers (mosio.com/twitter), and that enables people tolink their Mosio and Twitter accounts, so you can now ask questions anyway that you can send a direct message to twitter, includinginternational SMS, instant message, even through Twitter's API.
Asking questions online may seem to defeat the purpose of Mosio, whichthus far has served as remote hands for cell phone users, giving themaccess to the web, but pushing the bounds of Mosio is something we'reinterested in watching.

Check out these questions:

AtA: How did you come up with the idea for Mosio?

Mosio: Well before the day of the iPhone, when even Treos & Blackberrysweren't very common, we talked a lot about how to make our phones moreuseful. It really hit home one day when I was out and about, and neededa friend's phone number - a number I knew was on her website. I calledeveryone I knew, but nobody was at a computer, so I couldn't get hernumber. My thought was to write a script to parse phone numbers out ofweb pages and SMS them back to you. Noel started thinking about someother useful tools, and eventually we hit on the idea of posting thequestion to a site where a community of ppl know to answer it.

AtA: Can you tell our reader about your backend system? What makes the Mosio gears spin? Be as technical as you can we are all geeks here!

Mosio: We actually just moved servers the other day, so I'vere-familiarized myself with the bowels of our technology. It works howyou'd imagine it to work: sms's, emails, http posts all get parsed forinput, evaluated for privileges, and then entered into the database.Once in the database (MySql 5.0), the processing script (PHP 5) parsesthe new entries and figures out what to do with them. In the case of anew question, it gets added to the web page, then notifications are sentout: instant messages, emails, and sms's go out to anyone who's signedup for them, so people can answer the questions.

Our new machine is a Dual-Core AMD Opteron with 4 gigs of ram and drivesarranged in Raid 1. We noticed a huge speed improvement indatabase-intensive page loads (mostly on the administrative side) whenwe switched from our old machine, which was an Intel P4 2.0GHz with only 1 GB of ram.

The changeover to the new server was, well, fun. I didn't want anydowntime, so I put up a test version of Mosio on the new server under adifferent subdomain. We were upgrading from PHP 4 to 5, and from MySql 4to 5, so I wanted to be sure we weren't using any obsoleted functions.We also changed our smtp server from Postfix to Qmail, and I needed tomake sure mail was properly delivering to the processing scripts.

Anyway, boring details aside, to get no downtime while swapping the DNSand without confusing users with weird subdomains, I configured bothmachines to use the MySql DB on the old machine, setup slave replicationto the DB on the new machine to keep the two in sync, and setup the oldmachine to relay mail to the new machine. This did its job, but wasslower than I'd hoped it would be. I only did it this way because Iwanted to be able to pull back to the old machine in case the new onewas misconfigured. Once it had been thoroughly tested in the liveenvironment and dns had propagated, the old machine was pulled out ofthe loop altogether, and you've got what you see today.

AtA: What was your favorite submitted question of all time?

Mosio: The ones about ask the admin, of course : )

AtA: We heard rumors of an AtA/Mosio application... Any truth to that?

Mosio: We're super excited about this one, building as quickly as we canand will let you know when it's ready

Thanks to Jay, Noel and the rest of the Mosio gang!