Morphing Cubes on WebKit

This is amazing.

It works on Safari nightlies on Leopard and Windows. It works on any iPhone with OS2 or better. So any recent WebKit build will be able to o this – eventually every modern Mobile Phone will run this (WebKit is the core of Safari, Google Chrome, ChromeOS, Android, Palm’s WebOS and Symbian’s S60). It runs and it runs well – not causing the CPU to have a hissy fit (like Flash on Mac OS X) and not stuttering on iPhone either.

It highlights what can be done with HTML/CSS.

It also doesn’t work on FireFox. Bleh.

My experience of Flash Lite on mobile devices has been particularly poor. On my Nokia N800, it runs but man, it’s awful.

The multiplying villainies of nature do swarm upon him

This is disgusting.

Two female protesters who challenged police officers for not displaying their badge numbers were bundled to the ground, arrested and held in prison for four days, according to an official complaint lodged today.

The incident was caught on camera, and footage shows officers standing on the women’s feet and applying pressure to their necks immediately after the women attempted to photograph a fellow officer who had refused to give his badge number.

Watch this on video.

Considering the video is POLICE SURVEILLANCE and not amateur surveillance, this is atrocious.

All charges were dropped against the two and the arrest is currently under judicial review. Cases like this, along with the Homeland Security situation in the USA, remind me of Thomas Jefferson.

For a people who are free and who mean to remain so, a well-organized and armed militia is their best security.

and another splendid bugger, Alan Moore

People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

and Malcolm X

Concerning non-violence: It is criminal to teach man not to defend himself when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks.

I am appalled.

T-JAM football? Tesco API?

He wear no shoeshine he got toe-jam football
He got monkey finger he shoot coca-cola
He say I know you, you know me
One thing I can tell you is you got to be free
Come together right now over me

Tesco’s new API reminded me of these lyrics from “Come Together” by the Beatles, mostly because of their future event, TJAM, where developers get their grubby mitts on Tesco’s new API.

From InternetRetailing.com:

Tesco is trialling an API which will allow third-party developers to hook into the supermarket’s databases to develop new ways of selling Tesco merchandise. Developers will be able to join an affiliate scheme and take a commision on sales for the lifetime of the applications they generate.

In an email to the 150 developers who have already registered to try out Tesco.com’s API, Nick Lansley, Tesco’s head of R&D, said “A great new Tesco.com Grocery API is coming which will offer extended facilities and faster performance, enable you to obtain an affiliate income from the customers who use your application, and find out what customers are asking for at our T-Jam event coming soon.”

T-Jam is an innovation day, to be held in London on 5 August, which will allow invited developers to work with other Tesco customers and creative thinkers to drive ideas and innovation, and then go on to play a part in developing those ideas and making them a success.

Anyone interested in attending T-Jam can find out more about how to get an invitation here.

I predict that there’ll be twenty apps allowing you to shop from your iPhone, five from your Android phone and two from your S60.

Would that be a bad thing? I found Tesco Online Shopping to be a curious, invasive process which involved me emptying boxes of groceries speedily so that the delivery guy could just take them and go. I wasn’t sure about the protocol really.

There’s no denying that Tesco Online Shopping seems to be a hit. This API, in including not only buying and checkout facilities but also nutritional information, product favourites and deals in a RESTful web service – not to mention commission.

Tie it into your ‘diet app’ and automatically order foods which are recommended while blocking those which are not. Provide a version of the Tesco store which only shows foods for the gluten-intolerant or observing cultural rituals. Even just being able to automate the delivery of staples from a good, easy to use interface might be enough; for example, a parent might want to make sure that her teenagers are well stocked while she’s off on holiday. There’s no reason why this couldn’t be built into a barcode scanner app so you can order the same pasta meal you just enjoyed and schedule it for delivery next week for Pasta Night!

The most important thing is start the conversation. It’s no longer who will be first to release an API for their consumer good service but rather why hasn’t Company X released an API for their service?

Skillset census now open…

There are three sector skills councils which are of immediate interest to the Digital Content Sector:

eSkills – covering the skills for Business and Information Technology
Creative and Cultural Skills – which have a remit for Design, Music and Creativity
Skillset – specifically for the Creative Media Industry

So, what are the Sector Skills Councils?

The Sector Skills Councils are government funded organisations which are employer-driven – they are meant to have representatives from industry on their panels – and meant to articulate the voices of the employers of around 90% of the UK’s workforce. They are limited in that they are UK-wide organisations and by necessity take the 20 000 ft view and tend to be lobbied most heavily by large companies.

Skillset have asked the Industry in the UK to complete a census. We have just been notified of the Census and there is only a week until the Census closes. As a result I would like to insist that the province, through the Digital Circle, ensure that our voice is heard.

The web site for the survey isn’t great – being powered by one or other of the “online survey providers” (They use PerfectForms) – the scroll bars don’t work, the click targets are poor, the text boxes are badly sized and this is probably because the web, accessibility and usability are not the focus of the person creating the survey.

This belies a larger problem – the survey is being broadcasted to the Creative Media industry but 90% of the roles listed are titles involved in the production of film or television. This shows the inherent bias in Skillset. Now – this isn’t a criticism by any means – Skillset, and the Skillset Media Academies, focus on film and television because they always have. They recognise that there is a change underway (for example, people are now spending more time in front of an internet-connected computer than they ever did in front of the television) and the census makes some effort to recognise this.

So, as the Census is written on a hard to use, generic form, with very little detail on what it should be used for, and we’re already under-represented on the forms, why would the Creative Technology sector be interested in filling it in?

  • The Census enables you to stand up and be counted. You therefore have a direct impact on how Skillset uses its funds to make sure we have a world class, highly trained workforce.
  • The Census helps Skillset find out the breakdown of full-time employees and freelancers, can map that to time (and previous surveys) and see how the challenging economic conditions have changed things.
  • The Census is open to web developers, software engineers, designers, animators, games publishers and other disciplines. If you don’t fill in the Census, you don’t exist in their eyes because they have no way of finding you. This means the Film/TV bias will continue.

Stand up and be counted!

Web: the future of apps…and AppStores

MacRumors reports: Google reckons the Web, not App Stores are the future of Mobile as espoused by their Engineering chief, Vic Gundotra, who said:

“We believe the web has won and over the next several years, the browser, for economic reasons almost, will become the platform that matters and certainly thatÂ’s where Google is investing.”

As MacRumors reminds us, Apple only allowed for web development for the first year of the App Store and developers weren’t happy about it. The explosive growth of the AppStore shows us that there’s huge interest in ‘downloaded’ apps.

With HTML5, geolocation, 3D CSS and other features available in the ‘browser’, you can see why this is the case. Is it any wonder that Apple has these advanced features working in the as-yet-unreleased Webkit nightlies, the as-yet-unreleased Snow Leopard and in the ‘already shipping’ iPhone.

Now consider that Nokia, Google, Palm and Apple all use WebKit, the Apple-ified branch of KHTML. It bodes well for iPhone as well as the other first party mobile handset/OS manufacturers that they’ll work well in the web-enabled apps of the future.

I remain a little sceptical. We can’t build the world in the web. There’s always going to be some new doohickey that requires a bit more than the browser can provide. And we’re always going to have those nutters who are more interested in working on the guts of a machine than the application layers (Hi Steve).

What excites me is that these things ARE coming to the browser. As we build more features like location-awareness into our hardware, then we will find more services making use of them. These apps, these features, soon be on every mobile. Every one.

Excitement to Riot

I’ve not slept much tonight due to so many things going on.

Xcake.org, the Cocoaheads Ireland and Northern Ireland wiki that John Kennedy and I set up last year has migrated to a NING network – mainly because we had to do something about the spam but it’s brought some unintended benefits and hopefully will be a community backend to apps.ie.

Similarly something is planned for DigitalCircle.org which has already started a movement to Digital Circle on NING again in an attempt to reduce the time it takes to get stuff up and running. If you’re looking for digital content creators in Northern Ireland, you can search the network there already.

On top of this is the current activity around the #nisw hashtag on Twitter. It’s nice to see do many people debating the future of the software industry in Northern Ireland. If you have an interest in this, get involved.

What else?

We’re still finalising sponsors for the ‘mobile concept and design challenge’ which is a competition that Digital Circle and Momentum are putting together. The idea being to get folk thinking about excellence in user interface design as well as real-world applications concepts. If you’re interested in being a sponsor, you know where to find me.

Core, the Co-Working space in Belfast will be opening it’s doors on the 4th of August. Co-Working is a subject close to my heart and though circumstances prevented me from continuing with that project, I’m extremely supportive of Andy and the excellent work he’s been doing to bring this to fruition.

This might be helped also by some new programmes in place. Craft NI have a programme they run called ‘Making It’, designed to teach business practise to those engaged in craft and art projects. Speaking to Sara Graham at Creative & Cultural Skills yesterday left my mind buzzing about chasing that as a certifiable programme that could be applied across all of the disciplines in Digital Circle. That’s something new for me to chase – creating a programme of mentoring and preparedness for digital creatives, using in-field experts, with the eventual plan to bring them from early concept to investor readiness. See – the Entrepreneur Machine I mentioned a couple of posts ago – it’s something I’ve been discussing with others.

I’d like to pursue that alongside a cross sector skills event hopefully bringing together C&CS, Skillset and eSkills – the three sector skills councils which operate in the digital content sector in Northern Ireland. It’s time to do a little joined-up thinking.

On top of that, I spent a couple of hours yesterday talking to a new Location-Awareness startup about funding through the e-Synergy proof of concept fund and I’m excited to see them get their company started. It’s a great idea with a proven market need – and they’re local.

Speaking of local – I’m continually impressed by the change in the industry in Northern Ireland. When I was sponsoring BarCamp 1 & 2 out of my own pocket, the industry was just getting it’s act together – finding each other – but now, as evidenced by the amazing turnout at BarCamp 3, kindly sponsored by Digital Circle, it seems the industry in Northern Ireland is not only sustaining but thriving. Every day I hear about new and cool ideas coming out of the woodwork – and it’s amazing the difference in attitude.

The real difference is in how we are perceived by the outside world. We have companies coming into the province to hire development talent because we have the will, the skills and the presence of a region much larger than our geography and population should permit. Our nation’s sons and daughters have built engineering marvels, pushed the barriers of science forward, inspired millions of others and we are often too humble to accept our own achievements.

O2 not on the ball for tethering

O2 announced their pricing for iPhone-tethering recently.

Bolt Ons for Pay Monthly
3GB – £14.68 a month (minimum 30 days)
10GB – £29.36 a month (minimum 30 days)

I don’t mind paying for tethering. But as I’m already paying £45 a month minimum (and some bills have been MUCH higher) which is meant to include unlimited internet, I’m a little cheesed off about this one.

Now, consider this.

My internet usage on O2’s network, for the last TWO years of owning an iPhone on an unlimited internet tariff has been…

datausage

So, really, asking me to pay an extra £15 on top of my contract when I’ve been pretty much an angel anyway rubs me the wrong way. Add to this the carrier-dictated restrictions on using Skype, SlingPlayer or having large downloads come down over 3G and you can begin to see why I’m not entirely pleased with my O2 Experience.

Is tethering worth £15 to me?

Frankly, no.

The first handshake…

There’s currently a discussion on Twitter about the Northern Ireland Software Strategy.

David Kirk writes:

#NISW ‘s your input. What’s stopping NI creating the next Google or Twitter. Leadership? Imagination? Funding?

David writes elsewhere:

NI is in an interesting catch-22. The technology investment funds are small and conservative, so companies seeking funding scale back ambitions and ask for less, so there no pressure for big, aggressive funds.

My reply…

What is needed is a entrepreneur machine.

We need to take people with good ideas and put them in rooms with people who can help them distil great ideas. Those people then need to be joined with funders – public or private as applicable – and match up the money to do this. We need special facilitators for this – they need to have the balls and the experience to tell whether an idea is killer or filler.

We can wax lyrical about how ingenious NI is, how educated we are, how smart our people are but the facts do not hold out. We have allowed this nation to evolve into a nation of administrators and hairdressers. The very idea of entrepreneurship is considered to be laughable – not a career move, something to be ridiculed. The very idea of having dreams and wanting something more is considered by many to be above our station. Even in my own household, the idea of wanting more than a 9-5 is balked at (which, if you know me at all, leads to a lot of silences because I am impatient, I want more, I’m not happy with my lot and I want to be part of the force that brings the rising tide which buoys up all the other boats.

I cannot stress this more vehemently, where we are told to be patient, not to want more?

“Balls to that!”

I’m coming down with ideas but have two limitations.

1) the first handshake. I need to talk to no-nonsense people who want a stake in the idea and have belief in the vision. No-nonsense people not afraid to tell me if they think an idea has no legs and should just be shot.

2) the day job. On two levels – the first being that I need to pay a mortgage and be a responsible dad. The second being that in that position I need to help others reach their dreams and in that I have been berated before about stepping beyond my remit. So, to a degree, my hands are tied.

The fact that most people in NI are ‘poor‘ doesn’t help matters. A friend of mine explained to me that his savings are such that if he stopped doing his day job, he has enough funds to see him through to October. That’s very much the exception. I have enough funds to see me through to Tuesday next week. Therefore I can’t give up the day job and chase the dream (and besides, I did it once before, got fuck all help from anyone and still succeeded.) I think a lot of people in Northern Ireland are very realistic about the costs of chasing the dream. I’m not alone in working for a startup which failed as much as I’m not alone in having learned from that and built up my own, still functioning, startup. My second startup – well – it’s working slowly, has cost me money, has earned me nothing but it’s a long play I guess. I bootstrapped both times and it was hard work both times.

In May, David did a briefing after a week long ‘entrepreneur-hardening’ course where he and others roasted some would-be entrepreneurs over an open fire, filed off the charcoaled fatty bits and then roasted them a little more. The result was a lean and hopefully fierce investor-ready entrepreneur.

During the briefing, a representative from one of the local VC firms asked:
“Are you saying you and others (foreign investors) will be investing in companies in Northern Ireland?”

David’s answer was a simple, “Yes”.

The VC in question was visibly shocked and discussed exactly this revelation with two colleagues outside the briefing room.

Why was the VC so shocked? We’ve had a market of entirely sessile voyeur capitalists and they’re concerned that they’re going to lose out to a group of nomadic vulture capitalists. They don’t return calls, they don’t seek out new opportunities and they also don’t have the balls to tell you if they don’t like the idea. Instead you end up courting them, treating them like a first date and then wonder why you didn’t get the call back. You might think your idea was bad or maybe you had brocolli in your teeth but the truth is that they’re much too conservative to start off something like this alone.

So where am I right now?

Coming down with ideas, zero capital and unsure where to go to get something built. I’ve shared my ideas with others, told them what is essentially the crown jewels. I’ve even taken ten of my ideas, of varying quality I admit, and given them to a group of developers to see what they can do with them.

I admit, I don’t need to drop the day job – I need funding to pay folk to build my ideas. I need some experienced adults to tell me whether this idea, these ideas – which I love – are actually shit or not.

I need the first handshake.

Convergence

@DesTraynor pointed out this link on lukew.com.

“Hardware Becomes Software”

There’s a really entertaining graphic illustrating the point below.

In other words, convergence has gone far beyond just adding camera to phones. We now have phones potentially replacing digital instruments, guitar tuners, GPS SatNav devices, pocket video cameras, compasses, voice recorders, barcode readers, remotes, dictionaries and game consoles.

I’d even hesitate to say that my laptop often has the additional purpose of being a ‘charger’ for my iPhone. Convergence? As my Twitter client on iPhone is better than the one I use on desktop, has my laptop been converged onto my phone?