Back to the drawing board

I’m finding Cocoa very hard. A few months ago, Aidan spent some time to coach me through the basics and while that went on I managed to get a lot of ‘relatively’ advanced things done. Going back to the code I wrote, even with the benefit of several weeks of writing out the examples in the book I bought and I’m lost. So it’s very much back to the drawing board.

this highlights some things to me.

  1. Programming is hard. There’s no escaping it. It’s not something that everyone will pick up.
  2. Programming requires focus. You need to pay attention to it. Otherwise you won’t learn.
  3. Programming takes time. You’re not going to learn overnight. You need to look at it daily.


Due to my own experience, I have no assumptions that a person in business may be a man or a woman but I find myself wishing for a third, gender-neutral noun for use in English. I know we have ‘it’ but it’s less neutral and more potentially derogatory.

IrishFlirtySomething writes:

“So I have been desperately pitching for new business to lots of dusty old men who say things like;
“aren’t you a ‘great girl’, running your own business – do you work all on your own?”
Which roughly translates as;
“Is there anyone with a Penis involved or is it just you and your Vagina?”

When I started running my own business, I experienced similar sentiment. I ‘looked’ young. Having been burned before by competitors who went out of business, they wanted to know would me and my business still be around in a year. They wanted to know would I still be around when they needed me or was I planning to swan off on holiday – or would I have any backup?

I don’t necessarily believe that they were being ageist in my case just as I don’t believe the antagonists were being sexist necessarily in her case. I took a load of shithere and here last year because I think that equality starts with not patronising people or giving one sector of the community better treatment than others.

In her case, I don’t think she didn’t get the contract because of her cleavage.

P.S. Flame on!

Twitter: so how does it make money?

A thoughtful piece from 37Signals on the necessity to monetise Twitter

“That doesn’t exonerate them from building a more stable service. Especially not considering that they have five million dollars of other people’s money to do it with and a few years of practice.”

“If the growth in Twitter usage was mirrored by an equal growth in Twitter profits, the necessary investments needed for infrastructure would be self-evident. But when the money pot is an ever-shrinking gift-with-strings-attached, you can’t just blow your way out of the issue with cash.”

It’s true. Twitter’s scaling issues are a bugbear in their sides because as their userbase is growing, the Potential Value (in terms of Attention) of the company grows but the Actual Value (in terms of revenue) stays stagnant. And they have a huge amount of Virtual Debt in the shape of investors who will want a return. So, yes, the service itself is cool but is it sustainable?

It seems to me they have three options:

  1. Someone buys them for a gazillion dollars. This is what happened to Jaiku. Google bought them and then kinda ignored them. I guess it was a defensive buy? It then becomes someone else’s problem at how to make money out of it? I must say I don’t mind the way Twitterific handles it – advertising sponsored play is good enough. This is the model that the investors will likely want.
  2. They find out a way to make money. What about building in the feature that Twitter-ites (Twitterlanders? Tweeters?) could make their own adverts? Anyone can tweet but Tweetvertising allows graphics? Maybe even audio or video? Maybe even some opt-in tracking (as if I’m being forced to watch adverts, at least make them interesting to me!). Or maybe offer Tweets separate to SMS to mobile phone companies? Make it unlimited for people who have signed onto Tweet plans but limit those of us who slip in under the radar with data. That’s certainly going to reduce some of the ‘noise’. I am guessing here that they already get a percentage of every SMS sent them? Unless this is truly revolutionary, it’s probably not going to please the investors.
  3. They break out the infrastructure and make it P2P. This could shift the responsibility for uptime to others and allow them to host their own options for advertising or value-added services. Maybe even license the software out so there are a bazillion twitter servers out there. This would be the method by which Twitter could sneak up and murder Instant Messaging in it’s sleep. I tweeted recently that Twitter was not Broadcast IM. But, of course, it is.

End of the day, it’s not my problem but I wonder what happens when they spent the last cent of the VC money they have received. Does the world go dark?

Here and where again?

The title for this blog post derives from the autre-title for “The Hobbit” which was “There and Back Again”. It details an arduous journey, full of frustration and friction, in order to have an adventure and then return home.

As the months pass in $BIG_COMPANY, it becomes clearer to me what I want to be doing with the rest of my life.

  1. Not this. It’s not even that I dislike corporate wage slave culture. I actually have no issues with it. I loved my time in Nortel and only moved on because timing, opportunity and encouragement were right. This is just mind-numbing. And typical, of course, of worst-class pandering to executives while stripping the workers of their pay rises. Not good enough for me.
  2. I’m also not sure about whether I want to get back into IT work. It’s something (I think) I’m good at, having done it for over a decade now and there are new areas of business I’d like to move into, certainly, but the allure of crawling around chasing cables in a dusty footwell under a desk just doesn’t have the same appeal.
  3. There are some things I’m totally enamoured with. Ubiquitous wireless. Co-Working. Bedouin working. The ‘Presence’ aspect of social software. The tricky thing is how to get all of that to pay a mortgage and feed a dog. Yes, I have a plan. I just need the timing to be right (after all I’ve got a full dance card until around September).

At the moment, with someone leaving $BIG_COMPANY every week, it doesn’t surprise me that I feel this way (and that I’m obviously not alone). I do wonder what sort of job you have to be in to get the freedom to attend talks and trips like Paddy’s Valley. I asked to attend a 1 day Open Source event in Belfast and was told it would be annual leave – some companies have such vision!

The answer is therefore to figure out what I really want to do, get paid for doing it, and wander off into the sunset.

It’s the question that drives us.

Co-Working Belfast

The Co-Working Belfast guys (David Rice and Andy McMillan) are really hoping that some of you will pledge a desk in the co-working building they have planned for Belfast.

I’ve already pledged a desk (that I’ll be unlikely to use but will pay for anyway) and Mac-Sys is pledging a couple of iMacs. A lot of this depends on other people who are interested in finding an inexpensive workplace where they will meet other ‘working’ people.

Watch David and Andy’s blogs for more.


The Economist on Techno-Bedouin.

“The proper metaphor for somebody who carries portable but unwieldy and cumbersome infrastructure is that of an astronaut rather than a nomad, says Paul Saffo, a trend-watcher in Silicon Valley. Astronauts must bring what they need, including oxygen, because they cannot rely on their environment to provide it. They are both defined and limited by their gear and supplies.”

“Urban nomads have started appearing only in the past few years. Like their antecedents in the desert, they are defined not by what they carry but by what they leave behind, knowing that the environment will provide it. Thus, Bedouins do not carry their own water, because they know where the oases are. Modern nomads carry almost no paper because they access their documents on their laptop computers, mobile phones or online. Increasingly, they don’t even bring laptops.”

This is parallel to the Co-Working strategy that David and Andy have been working on.

It’s a tall order to fill a co-working space. Even at an offer acceptance of £10 000 per annum, that still means the costs will likely be £18 000 per year (when you add £6800+ in rates and minimal electricity) not including broadband and heating – that’s £1500 a month! To bring the costs to a manageable level that people might want to pay, you’re going to have to aim for occupancy of around 15+. You could do it with less people (paying more) but you’re then really buying into the idea that people will pay for a co-working environment.

I’ve already said that Mac-Sys will put money down to secure a space (which will likely be used once in a blue moon) and we’ll also supply some of the infrastructure as well, if required. I hope it works out – I’m a little jealous of the guys involved as my dance card is totally filled at the moment (with work, babysitting, writing the new book, spending time with her indoors and trying to actually live life!).

I still have my own dreams regarding a Co-Work space that will likely never be realised due to the costs and time it would take to set up (and the fact it’s not an affair for an attic). My theory is that a co-work space needs to have it’s own identity and, if necessary, it’s own employees. Someone needs to be responsible for cleaning the loos, someone needs to keep the place running, chase up the co-conspirators for rent money – and just like in a shared house, that can be incredibly wearing on the patience. Hence you hire someone to do it.

This is why my idea for it was based around the coffee shop. The idea being to straddle the space between public coffee shop and serviced office. I was never 100% sure if Belfast was the right place for it but I still would like to give it a go.

It needs more than just an office though. It needs to be a network.


From Signal Versus Noise

Freedom is an application that disables wireless and ethernet networking on an Apple computer for up to three hours at a time. Freedom will free you from the distractions of the internet, allowing you time to code, write, or create. At the end of your selected offline period, Freedom re-enables your network, restoring everything as normal.

Seems alien….

Jordan on C.I.M.G.

The blog “Cocoa Is My Girlfriend” includes a shout-out to Jordan Languille who did the graphics for Rickshaw and web imagery for Infurious recently.

“You can see Jordan’s portfolio at his site. I’m quite pleased with the results and highly recommend his work. This is not a paid endorsement. I just like to see good work rewarded, so send him your business. You won’t be disappointed.”

Jordan can be found on teh Internets at OneToadDesign.

Pat Phelan on Twitter. Unfollow the popular

“First one I’ll call it Broadcasting Mode. Fucking annoying. I un-followed Guy Kawazaki for this reason. 200 tweets per day with hyperlink.Duh!! Have you heard about RSS feeds?? What are you trying to do? The worst usage someone can do of Twitter is definitely Broadcasting.”

– Pat Phelan – Is Twitter Gone Mad

This is why I unfollowed Jason Calacanis last week and unfollowed Scoble and Kawasaki today. It’s all adverts and ‘aren’t we having a great life’. I went onto Twitter because of the promise of less advertising (though it seems that’s coming as they monetise their assets blah blah)

But these A-listers whom we all flock to for wisdom and who follow thousands of people (and thoughtfully ignore most of them) They provided absolutely nothing in content. All noise.