Developing mobile phone software usually means you end up with an assortment of handsets and SIMs in your possession. This obviously increases the likelihood of receiving a text message sent to the wrong number, such as the one that just arrived at one of the test phones:
Misdirected text: Did I just see you going down the a1?
My reply (on behalf of the test SIM, obviously): I doubt it. I've been hiding in a drawer for the past few weeks.
Unfortunately, they don't seem to want to join in the fun...
This afternoon I've been listening to London Booted - A tribute to the Clash. It's a "charity-ware" downloadable album of Clash mash-ups - Corona's The Rhythm Of The Night over Bankrobber is just one of the many surprising blends.
And I've created a WebJay playlist if you just want to listen to the album.
It's always good to remind yourself that whatever mad thing it is you've decided to do, there's always someone doing something more insane. And blogging about it more. And just getting on with it.
(Via Ben Hammersley).
No notes for this I'm afraid. It was at the end of a long day, and the remaining stragglers were getting a little shell-shocked. If I remember rightly, the main "take-away" was to be flexible, and listen to your customers. The market with which Alphamosaic is having quite a bit of success isn't one they had initially targetted.
Notes from the session with Bill Thatcher.
There are two main ways to protect your ideas: the legal, enforceable way through Intellectual Property (IP) rights; or just by keeping them secret. Of course, the latter doesn't work for all kinds of ideas, but also the former tends to favour bigger companies over small ones, as they can afford to pay the lawyers :-)
Some IP rights you gain automatically:
Others you have to register:
For small companies the main (only even) value of a patent portfolio is to add value to the company in the eyes of investors or potential purchasers.
Employees usually have to sign any inventions over to their employer and aren't necessarily suitably rewarded. They can claim compensation if their idea provides "great worth" to the company, but in practice no-one has ever won such a claim.
Gamasutra offers some oft-overlooked points about managing software projects. I particularly agreed with...
"I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have." - Thomas Jefferson.
For someone who still doesn't fully get Orkut, I'm hoping that the eBook The Five Keys to Building Business Relationships Online, and networking-focused weblog will help me understand the value of such activities. Then I can use their guide to online social networks and business communities to choose which ones to join.
They never covered any of this in the networking module I did in my degree!
But if you try, sometimes, you get what you need
McFilter was one year old on Friday! I'm quite surprised. I didn't think I'd keep it going as long as that.
A year ago, I was talking about life outside my comfort zone. Since then I've moved back into the outskirts with regular trips out to the discomfort frontier, but all that's about to change.
Last week, my contract with Trigenix came up for renewal, and they wanted me to go back to working full-time. I was a little surprised, as there'd been no indication that there was any problem with my working part-time, but it was a pretty easy decision to make.
Friday 7th May 2004 will be my last day as an employee, and I'll then be back to full-time self-employed. I'd have preferred to get a bit further with developing my software before jumping ship, but this should give me opportunity to focus fully on what I really want to be doing. Time for some more detailed planning of what's left to do, and catching up with my accounts to check that I'll be able to fund things.
I obviously need more time to work on my cakes so I can produce masterpieces like this dismembered body cake.
I particularly liked the idea of filling the cake with sauce which oozes out when the cake is cut, and the white chocolate ribs are inspired too.
This was the least useful session I attended, but that was probably due to the title. "Doing More With Less" promises the world but is hard to pin down to any specifics - doing more of what? With less of what? None of us delegates really knew, so despite the facilitators best efforts, the discussion never really got going.
I suspect it may have been more successful had the original speaker not been unable to attend at short notice.
Today, Jon pointed to this rant about how Linux usability is doomed to failure by John Gruber.
I think the underlying point is that usability is difficult, and that it is much better to design it in from the start rather than try to tack it on as an afterthought. On this I totally agree with him. Unfortunately, he tries to back this up with a number of points which really grate with me.
The argument seems to boil down to "normal developers are just code monkeys, whereas us UI designers are artists and deserve lots of money and so can't do open source."
A much more productive, and constructive, response to the Eric Raymond article is the one I've been following by Jon Udell, from his initial discovery that OS X isn't any better through more recent articles promoting the development of UI and usability guideline "standards" and the issues with RSS going mainstream.
As long as usability and UI design is kept sacred for the "UI specialists", it will be given short shrift by those implementing the systems, because it's not their job and they don't have to worry about it.
It is the responsibility of all engineers to worry about, and aim to maximise, usability.
I see that Shaun Woodward, the MP who controversially stood for Labour in St. Helens South, has just launched his own blog.