Light Point Web 1.1 Released
Posted on by Beau AdkinsCategories Computer Security, Light Point Security Update, Light Point Web, Web SecurityLeave a comment on Light Point Web 1.1 Released

Light Point Web LogoLight Point Security has just released Light Point Web 1.1. While this version contains updates to our open source code, and small usability related bug fixes, the main improvement is flash video playback.

Light Point Web 1.1 allows the user to view a flash video from a site they are viewing with Light Point Web. The flash video is played on the user’s local computer, not through Light Point Web. Because the flash video is played on the user’s computer, the user needs to be sure the video is trustworthy. While Light Point Web can’t protect your computer from a locally played video, at least we can give the user the ability to decide which videos can play and which ones can’t. Learn more about viewing videos in Light Point Web.

If you are a current user, just log back in to Light Point Web to download the new installer. Note: you must be outside of Light Point Web to download the installer.

Known Problems

While this flash video functionality works for most sites, there are some sites and cases which still need work. In particular, YouTube videos do not play. We are working to identify the problems and fix them.

What’s Next?

While the video viewing solution should work for any embedded media, it will not work for non-embedded media, such as pdf files. We will be working to extend this functionality to non-embedded media in the near future.

If you would like to try Light Point Web, you can sign up for a free trial here.

Light Point Web 1.0 Officially Released
Posted on by Beau AdkinsCategories Light Point Security Update, Light Point Web, StartupsLeave a comment on Light Point Web 1.0 Officially Released

Light Point Web LogoLight Point Security has released Light Point Web 1.0. Light Point Web gives users safe browsing, private browsing and anonymous browsing. No other product on the market can protect a user from web-based malware as thoroughly as Light Point Web.

What’s Next for Light Point Web?

Now that we have a version 1.0 product, and all supporting infrastructure in place, all our efforts will switch to getting the word out. This will be the hard part, as we have never ran marketing campaigns before.

It’s going to be a long, hard road, but we are excited about it, and can’t wait to see how well we can do.

If you would like to try Light Point Web, you can sign up for a free trial here.

Light Point Web 0.8 Complete
Posted on by Beau AdkinsCategories Computer Security, Light Point Security Update, Light Point WebLeave a comment on Light Point Web 0.8 Complete

Light Point Web LogoWe have just wrapped up development and deployment of Light Point Web 0.8. We released 0.7 just over a month ago, so this release isn’t much different. However, our 0.7 beta did not go so well, so 0.8 is mainly just fixing the problems we found with 0.7.

Light Point Web 0.7 Beta Results

How did the 0.7 beta go? Short answer: not too good. Long answer: it wasn’t that bad. There were 2 indirect problems we found immediately after beginning the beta. After we found them, we decided to cancel the beta to resolve them, and try again with 0.8.

Firefox 4.0

The first problem is that Firefox 4.0 was officially released just before we began the 0.7 beta. 0.7 only officially supported Firefox 3.6, and while Firefox 4.0 has been available as a beta for a very long time, I didn’t plan on putting the time to port it until 4.0 was officially released. By the time we started sending 0.7 beta installers, some of our beta testers had already upgraded, and therefore could not use it.

Misconfigured Servers

The other problem is that I had a misconfiguration in our cloud servers which caused the backend Light Point Web services to run slowly. If a user connected there would not be much difference, but after that user disconnected it could take upwards of an hour to prepare for the next user, instead of the minute it should have taken. While this preparation was going on, no other users could connect.

What’s New in Light Point Web 0.8?

New User Site

We have built a bare-bones website to be used only by our users. A user can go here to create a new account, change their passwords, download installers, etc. In previous versions, we would email our beta testers a link to an installer to download, and also send them a username and password we created for them, which could not be changed. For security reasons, we did not want these services provided by our public facing site.

Firefox 4.0 Support

We now officially support Firefox 4.0. This transition was actually very easy (like 4 lines of code easy). I attribute this ease of this transition to the work I had put in for 0.7 cleaning up our Firefox extension in anticipation of exactly this. It worked VERY well.

Updated Open Source Code to Newest Version

Light Point Web relies on a lot of open source code. Periodically we go through and update our build scripts and repositories to use the newest.

More Robustness

Numerous small changes which will make Light Point Web be more reliable, be faster, and be just overall a more mature product.

What’s Next for Light Point Web?

We are getting REALLY close to having a product to sell. In fact, the only thing we are missing is having a system in place to take a payment. So that is our next goal.

In the meantime, if you would like to try out Light Point Web 0.8, head over to our contact-us page, and let us know!

Light Point Web 0.7 Completed
Posted on by Beau AdkinsCategories Computer Security, Light Point Security Update, Light Point Web, Programming, Startups2 Comments on Light Point Web 0.7 Completed

Light Point Web LogoToday Light Point Security has reached another important milestone. We have just finished the 0.7 version of Light Point Web. While this is still a private beta version, and not ready for public consumption, we have taken a big step in that direction.

What’s New in Light Point Web 0.7?

Cloud Manager

The biggest improvement from 0.6 will be invisible to a user. We have added a new server-side component to manage our cloud computing infrastructure. To make a long story short, it means we can now handle an arbitrary number of simultaneous users where 0.6 could only handle one user at a time. On top of handling a possible large number of users, we had to do it with as few wasted resources as possible. Turning on a cloud computer is expensive, and stays that way until you turn it off. So our cloud manager is in charge of deciding when to turn a new cloud computer on, and more importantly, when to turn it back off. This is the last infrastructure component to complete. This is important because I can now switch away from writing completely new infrastructure components to improving and adding features to existing ones. This means improvements and new features will be happening at a faster pace from here on out.

This was an interesting part of the project, because it was the first time I have written a program whose job it is to decide when and how to spend my money. So a programming error could have a negative effect on my bank account. Kinda scary!

New Firefox Extension

The next biggest change is a complete rewrite of our Firefox extension. The Firefox extension is the component that hooks into the Firefox user interface, so we can intercept user actions, and so we can update the Firefox interface with our own information.

This change will also be mostly transparent to a user of a previous version. The previous version was based on another public Firefox extension that was doing most of the same stuff I needed to do. So it was a great starting point for a first version. However, I was never happy with its implementation. It worked by searching for actual Firefox javascript code, and overwriting it in place with code to do what it needed. This means if the Firefox code in question changed with a new version, the extension would be broken. This seemed like a maintenance nightmare in the making. So I have rewritten the code to base itself on published Firefox interfaces which will be very unlikely to ever change. This gives me more confidence that a Firefox bug-fix update will not break Light Point Web.

Friendlier Plugin Interface

The least important, but most visible change to the user will be the new plugin interface. This one is tougher to explain in generics, so I will give a few specific examples of what I mean. In previous versions, when starting Light Point Web, the Firefox window would go black, and the entire interface would be frozen until the connection was finished. This could take 10 seconds or more. During that time, nothing was displayed, and the user could not do anything. It was very disconcerting to a new user. With 0.7, a progress bar and informational messages are shown directly in the browsing window. More importantly, the rest of the Firefox interface remains usable.

As another example, if in 0.6 your connection to the server was dropped for some reason, your browsing window would simply turn black. With 0.7, a message will show directly in your browsing window which says the connection was dropped, and it gives you several options on what to do about it.

There are many more interface messages like this which allow Light Point Web to be much more fault tolerant, and user friendly.

What’s Next for Light Point Web?

First off, we will be giving some 0.7 installers to people to get more feedback, and learn what people like, what they don’t like, and what is missing.

In the meantime, our attention will be shifting to overhauling this website. We have a new theme we will be rolling out over the next week. We will be putting a lot more information on the site about what Light Point Web does and why people should buy it.

After that we will be putting in infrastructure so someone actually could buy it. We are looking at 2 services to handle this for us: Spreedly and Chargify. These services will handle user subscription management, which means its one less thing I have to worry about. I have been reading a lot about these 2, but still can’t decide on which one to go with.

Once we get these things set up, we will be able to launch officially…. and that’s when the real fun begins!

Light Point Web Reaches MVP With 0.6 Release
Posted on by Beau AdkinsCategories Computer Security, Light Point Security Update, Light Point Web, Web Security1 Comment on Light Point Web Reaches MVP With 0.6 Release

Light Point Web LogoThis week Light Point Security has reached an important milestone. We have finally completed a Minimally Viable Product (MVP) for Light Point Web. In short, an MVP is a product that contains the bare minimum of features to be useful to someone.

Read more “Light Point Web Reaches MVP With 0.6 Release”

State of the Startup
Posted on by Beau AdkinsCategories Light Point Security Update, Startups1 Comment on State of the Startup

A long staircaseI decided it would be a good idea to occasionally post a status update of our startup on our blog. I plan on listing which of the many steps involved in launching a startup we have completed, and some tips on the ones that warrant it.

My reasons are two-fold. The first reason is that I hope once our product launches and it is a huge success and I am super rich and spend my days racing yachts, someone who wants to launch their own startup can use these as a step-by-step roadmap on what to do. The second reason is that I think it will be good for me to take the time to think about all the things we’ve accomplished since the last update. This may be a moral booster if I see that we have done a lot, or help me realize we are slacking if we have not.

What Have We Done?

  • Idea. The first thing was an idea about how I can provide web security better than everyone else. This idea has not been released publicly, so there isn’t much more I can say about that right now.
  • Research. The next thing I did was research on how I could implement it, and to decide if it was feasible that I could turn it into a profitable business.
  • Development Setup. I needed a development environment before I could create anything. I bought a computer and installed a subversion server for version control and TRAC for issue management. If you are developing any serious software, you NEED version control and issue management software. It is well worth the time.
  • Prototype. The next thing I did was to start building a working prototype, or a proof of concept. This took quite a while, in which time I was also working other items in this list.
  • Business Planning. First I knew that I would not have time to build the product, and run the business. I enlisted Zuly, my then girlfriend – now fiancee, to fill this role. Neither of us had run a business before, but we knew we could figure it out. We came up with a name for the business, snatched up the URL, made a business plan, etc. As I worked on the product, Zuly learned how to do the business side stuff (accounting, legal, etc).
  • Evaluation. At this point I had a working prototype, but when I finally looked at the stats, I realized the product would not be able to scale. This prototype had taken most of a year to get where it was, and then I found out it wouldn’t work. I thought it was all over at this point. But I refused to give up. I did more research to find a more efficient technology, and found one. I decided to swap out the old inefficient technology for the new hotness.
  • Persist. This new technology was another open source library that did the same thing as the old version, but it did so, much more efficiently. However, the way this library was written was nowhere near how I needed it to work. I spent months tinkering and reading through hundreds of files of source code to try and fix it. Every time I fixed an issue, I discovered 2 more that had to be fixed. After an entire year of this, I had my proof of concept functioning as it did before the technology swap, but now it was an order of magnitude more efficient.
  • Improvement. I added more and more features, eventually turning it into more of a product than a proof-of-concept.
  • More Research. As I implemented features, I tried to keep thinking a few moves ahead. I had a plan on what I would do next, and what after that. So in my down time, I would do some reading to make sure my plans on how to do those next steps would actually work, or if there was a better way.
  • Business Setup. At this point, we decided it was a good bet that we can make this work. We each took some of our own money, officially registered the business, and set up a bank account.
  • Website. We transferred ownership of the business domain name to the business, and bought hosting to set up this web page. We got something decent setup, and gradually improved it over time. We are still doing this.
  • Networking. We started blogging, using Facebook, Twitter, and others to start making a name for ourselves online. This is a never ending step.

What’s Next?

  • Branding. We have a name for the product, but we need to grab its domain name before we make it public.
  • Deployment and Beta-testing. We are now to the point where we need to start buying server capacity so other people can play with the product and give us feedback. We will use this feedback to make improvements until we feel the product is refined enough to begin charging for it.

Have I forgotten anything? If you see something missing that I should have done by now, please let me know. Or if you have any questions/suggestions, don’t hesitate to comment.

State of the Startup
Light Point Security Blog Intro
Posted on by Beau AdkinsCategories Light Point Security UpdateLeave a comment on Light Point Security Blog Intro

Welcome to the Official Light Point Security BlogBlogging on Laptop

Here we go, Post #1. First off, let me say that I have never posted to a blog before, so this is a pretty big deal for me. This whole site is still in its infancy, so expect things to change around.

Who Am I?

My name is Beau Adkins. I am 1 of 2 co-founders of Light Point Security. I am also the CEO and CTO. As of this point, it means I am in charge of all things technical. I am a software guy trying to become a business guy (who still does software).

What Is This Blog About?

Good question. I haven’t yet nailed down where I want the focus of this blog to be. But off of the top of my head, I can say that these are the most likely subjects to be discussed here.

  • Web security
  • Startups in general
  • Programming topics

Since I have zero experience with contributing to blogs, I don’t plan on hammering the subject matter out before I start. I am sure that as I try out different topics, the blog itself will naturally evolve into the best mix of subject matter that I can write on.

If you have any questions or comments for me or about the business, feel free to ask/contribute.