How’s work?

January 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

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A question I get asked every time I see one of my friends. And to be honest, I enjoy giving them the answer and they are always pleased to hear Conjure is going from strength to strength.  Being an agency that helps to support larger digital media outlets, we do a fair amount of work that we can’t really talk about. But there are a couple of projects that we can and are worth mentioning:

  • A follow up to our Black Light iPhone app in the form of an companion iPad book.  We’re very excited about this project as we think its a first-of-a-kind; with beautiful commissioned artwork brought alive through animation and sound. Coming to iPad in February.
  • Our first iPhone game! This collaboration project is being kept under wraps until the press-release, but we think it’s a great game and we can’t wait for you to see it! Watch my blog for announcements. Coming to iPod Touch and iPhone in early February.

Though we can’t give specifics at the moment we are also working on some exciting projects involving augmented reality, real-time data visualisation, image detection, geo-location, more interactive books and cookery.

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BarCamp London 8 #bcl8

November 22, 2010 § 1 Comment

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It’s been a month since my last blog and casting my mind back over that time, I figured I hadn’t written up anything on BarCamp London 8.  Not only can I give a run down of my time at the event, but can use this opportunity to mention a few noteworthy bits and pieces.

Lanyrd.com

I’d come across this site before, but never really engaged with it.  It wasn’t until BCL8 that it really struck a chord with me.  Full and in-depth coverage of the event was crowd-sourced whilst the event unfolded. BarCamp is an unconference and as such, the tracks are determined on the fly.

When you mark yourself as “attending” a conference, the real time calendar will give you a run down of the current and next sessions – which turned out to be invaluable as the 300-strong crowd round one pin board was a little manic.

I really like the way that it gives you a permanent personal profile which lists your attendance and speaking appearances alongside any links, photos, slides etc that you have posted.  It was also nice to see that Reading Geek Night (#rdggeek) has a presence on there too.

iPad

I’ve had my iPad for several months and truth be told, it’s a completely dispensable gadget.  Yep, you read that right!  That is not to say it doesn’t have its uses because there are things that it is really great at:

  • two screening” or “simultaneous media usage” – the concept of using two independent data or social consumption devices at the same time, e.g. TV+iPad or TV+laptop – the F1 iPad app is a great example
  • Browsing youtube on the sofa when you cant be bothered with a big heavy laptop
  • iPlayer in bed (I’ve never had a TV in my bedroom)
  • Email/blogging on the go – smartphones are too small and fiddly
  • Gaming platform – I’m not a gamer at all, but the occasional 2 mins playing Modern Conflict, Trainyard or Harbour Master is pretty good
  • Magazine and photo magazine (e.g. Guardian eyewitness) browsing

However, the best use I found recently was at BCL8.  A device I could easily carry around which told me about all the sessions, allowed me to browse the net and consume real-time twitter updates about the conference was a dream to use.  I was also slightly surprised at the sheer quantity of iPads at the conference – I would guess at somewhere between 30 and 40 per cent of the delegates had one and were clearly finding the same benefits over a laptop that I was (I didn’t see anyone charging an iPad).

BCL8

I was a little apprehensive about my first BarCamp and my first unconference for that matter.  This turned out to be a waste of energy as the event was fantastically organised by enthusiastic, kind and helpful individuals.  I was also surprised by the number of people there that I had met before… I thought I was going to be the only person I knew!

Each attendee was encouraged to hold a session and so along with @CharlieFuller we decided to host two back-to-back “open discussion” sessions on iPhone technologies that we were both interested in.  Turn out to our session was good and a fun and informative discussion ensued.

Food, drink, snacks, swag and banter were all in abundance and my first BarCamp was very enjoyable, only let down by the fact I couldn’t go along on the Sunday as well!!

Entrepreneurs & Poker

September 3, 2010 § Leave a comment

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Last night was the 75th poker night for London startup types and was my first time at “Nevada Rob’s”! I didn’t count how many people were there, but it was probably in the region of 25 to 30, or there abouts. I was particularly impressed by the sheer variety of people there. Many different stages of startups and a vast variety of market sectors. I was surprised that there seemed not to be anyone else there specialising in the mobile sector, like us at Conjure. I guess that is a good thing, as it means less competition for us and plenty of interesting conversation all round.

Having been to several networking events aimed at people in startups, this was definitely the most casual. During the course of the night, varying amounts of attention was placed between playing poker and chatting about all the things that people were up to – giving the evening a nice balance.

With a lot less emphasis placed on trying to conduct business deals, I found the evening enjoyable and a fun place to be. Not least just being in the same room as people who are all experiencing the same problems as you. It was reassuring that I wasn’t “the only one at it”, which it sometimes feels like when trying compete with the “big boys”.

My favourite point of the evening was when one of the guys announced that he was just about to leave his full time job to pursue his passion as an entrepreneur which was met with a rapturous round of applause from everyone in the room. What a sense of community!

located.it – the beginnings

August 31, 2010 § Leave a comment

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A few weeks ago we unveiled located.it at the 10th Reading Geek Night (read an excellent review of the evening). We had a flurry of activity on the site over the following days and as a result got some great feedback which we have taken on board and will be rolling out an update to the site real soon. The updates we are making are as follows:

  • A visual tweak to the categories filter at the top of the site. This will incorporate the icons for each of the categories making it really obvious what you are looking at.
  • A calendar function so you can filter for events on any day.
  • Some minor bug fixes.

We really appreciate the feedback we have had so far and believe that we are building an excellent service that we hope you will find really useful.

A hello: insomnia, stress and quality

August 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

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Yeah, it’s late, but my mind is too active to sleep. It’s a blessing and a curse I guess. Now I run my own business, my mind is kept active all day long, every day. Which is great because it means I can stay sharp and react to things as I need to. But now, I’d rather be sleeping.

I’ve had a lot of chats with people recently about what it’s like to work for yourself and I must admit, I’ve sung from the same hymn sheet each time. Is it hard work? Of course. Do you worry about finding work? Yes. Does it stress you out? Nope, not at all. You see; it’s a whole different game when it comes to working for yourself. There is no-one else to please or keep happy except yourself (and the other directors), no red tape or bureaucracy in the way of doing my job efficiently and effectively and the ability to question and change anything that is happening in the company. What this means is, as busy as I might be (and I’m busier now than I’ve ever been), it’s not stressful at all.

The other great thing about being able to challenge anything that’s happening within the company means that it’s easy to stay hot on the tail of the pursuit of quality. Often quality is only measured from one place within an organisation:

You develop software. Is the software buggy? Well, that’s not a quality product then and you will spend customer support time fire-fighting, management time triaging, development time bug fixing (not feature writing) and sales and marketing time worrying about your current and prospective customers. This is obviously the knock-on effect of buggy software. But lets for a moment assume that our software is good. Not perfect, it never will be, but good. So where should we look at quality now? In actual fact, the answer is everywhere and all of the time. I’ve seen it at nearly every small business I’ve worked; where there is perceived to be no time to produce quality, error-free documents for internal and external consumption. Not only does this damage the confidence of your customers, but worse, may put off a potential customer. A stitch in time here should be heeded.

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