How’s work?

January 12, 2011 § Leave a comment


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.


London Taxi Meter estimates 5,000 fares a month

January 3, 2011 § 2 Comments


A month ago we released an updated version of Conjure’s London Taxi Meter which has continued to go from strength to strength. We are very pleased to announce that during December, we helped over 5,000 people estimate the cost of their cab journey!

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.

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.


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).


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!!

Run down of #ddd8a

October 24, 2010 § 2 Comments

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Another excellent DDD event hosted at the Microsoft campus in Reading took place on Saturday 23rd October.  As usual, there was plenty of energy, free food and drink, prizes and banter!

The two tracks focused on “Modern .net development”, a deviation from the usual future themed talks with more emphasis placed on what you can do here and now.  The talks I went to were:

WP7, iPhone, Droid – Oh My!

Chris Hardy

A look at the ways of reusing .net code across WP7, iPhone (MonoTouch) and Android (MonoDroid), the associated costs, pitfalls and differences between platforms was covered in an excellent overview given by Chris.

My thoughts: I still think unless you have hefty business logic libraries that you can save money or time by leveraging the same code base across the platforms, the differences in implementation still differs substantially enough to justify learning the languages, features and quirks of the native system.  That said, the direct namespace mapping in MonoTouch was pretty impressive, allowing a .net developer to develop for iPhone in a familiar way.  Understanding the iOS classes and how they work can not be underestimated as the mono system is not an abstraction.

Managed Extensibility Framework (MEF)

Kathleen Dollard

An introduction to compositional architectures and how the last 20 years of architecture evolution, development practices and software lifecycles has led to MEF.  An incredibly enthusiastic Kathleen, covered the theory and practice in not one, but three Hello World examples!

My thoughts: Not being a .net developer, I knew nothing of this technology and was impressed by what I saw.  The framework addresses real problems encountered by any moderately sized software product in an elegant and modern way.

Is NoSQL the Future of Data Storage?

Gary Short

Relational databases were cool yesterday.  They come from an era where they solved problems that we present at the time and we have different problems now.  A brilliant overview of the different types of “not just” SQL databases was covered, with examples of when you might want to use a RDBMS or a NoSQL database.

My thoughts: I knew some of the principles behind some NoSQL databases, but was unaware of the sheer number of them out there and where they came from and what problems they were solving.  The lack of tooling (compared to the myriad of tools available to traditional database systems) was brought up, but I don’t think this is much of a stumbling block, as it won’t be long before these tools are available, and… are they really needed at all anyway?

Building Silverlight Applications for Business (and fun)

Ian Blackburn

Topics such as “when and if to employ a designer”, “what framework to use” and “what alternatives are there” led to an informative session on Sliverlight.

My thoughts: I didn’t see anything in Silverlight that hasn’t been done somewhere else a hundred times by a hundred other technologies and frameworks.  The only benefit I saw was that it’s developed in .net languages using the .net toolset which is familiar to the .net crowd. A pretty rubbish 60% in-browser adoption (in the last 3 years!), a plethora of alternatives and the emergence of HTML5 is sure to signal the death of Silverlight. That said, building desktop apps in Silverlight is now possible, however why anyone would want to do this escapes me! Oh, and it’s not supported on in-browser on the new WP7 *face palm*.

Things you should know about SQL as a developer

Simon Sabin

Some important and informative do’s and don’ts when working with SQL Server.

My thoughts: Not using SQL Server, this session was of limited use to me, but the principles behind SQL Servers transaction log, its backup capabilities and database optimisation was nevertheless very interesting.

#rdggeek12 Quiz Questions and Answers

October 13, 2010 § 3 Comments

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A few people have asked me for the questions and answers from last nights quiz.

The presentation was done using a cool online tool available for free at

Fun Round

1. A jiffy is a real unit of time, but how long is it?

  • 1/100th of a second
  • 1/10th of a second
  • 10 seconds
  • 100 seconds

2. We all have moments of wanting to bang our heads against the wall, but this is actually an effective (though not recommended) form of exercise.  But how many calories does it burn?

  • 100 cal/hour
  • 150 cal/hour
  • 200 cal/hour
  • 220 cal/hour

3. Floccinaucinihilipilification, is the longest non-medical term in the English language, but what does it mean?

  • The process of removing small fibbers from wool
  • The declaration of estimating something as worthless
  • The process of an object being covered with small snails
  • The reaction that causes small cloudy wisps on the surface of the sun

4. Which country has hosted the Mobile Phone Throwing World Championships since 2000?

  • Germany
  • Finland
  • United States
  • Japan

5. How long (approximately) does it take for the Hubble telescope to do a complete orbit of the earth?

  • 2.6 days
  • 1.3 days
  • 13 hours
  • 97 minutes

6. Computers control a lot of stuff, including traffic lights. Where in the world was the first computer controlled system installed?

  • Toronto, Canada
  • Mumbai, India
  • London, UK
  • Rome, Italy

7. Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM famously stated in 1943 “I think there is world market for maybe” how many computers?

  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6

8. What did the company produce that is attributed to the phrase “the original point and click interface”?

  • Operating Systems (Microsoft)
  • Desktop publishing software (Adobe)
  • Firearms (Smith and Wesson)
  • Photocopiers (Xerox)

9. “So long, and thanks for all the fish” was the message left by?

  • Whales
  • Dolphins
  • Sharks
  • Turtles

10. We all know that Chuck Norris doesn’t confirm to web standards, as the web conforms to him, but when was the W3C founded?

  • 1989
  • 1990
  • 1992
  • 1994

Round 1

1. A femtocell is?

  • A portion of radio frequency reserved for hardware signalling
  • A small cellular base station
  • A startphone marketed at women
  • None of the above

2. Which is *not* a netbook optimised os?

  • MeeGo
  • Jolicloud
  • Chrome OS
  • Kin

3. Dr. Sheldon Cooper has an arch-nemesis, who is it?

  • Darth Vader
  • Wil Wheaton
  • Justin Beiber
  • Brent Spiner

4. The aperture setting on a camera primarily controls what?

  • Shutter speed
  • Depth of field
  • Color temperature
  • Shading

5. Which handset was inspired by a modified handset that Neo used in The Matrix?

  • Nokia 5110
  • Nokia 2210
  • Nokia 2650
  • Nokia 7110

6. Which of the following is *not* a feature of the new iPhone?

  • 24% Slimmer
  • Front and rear camera
  • Intel Atom Processor
  • Video chat capability

7. What type of work should *not* be published using a Creative Commons license?

  • Software
  • Illustrations
  • Photographs
  • Movies

8. In The Simpsons, which of the following was *not* invented or discovered by Professor Frink?

  • The sarcasm detector
  • Linguo the grammar robot
  • Hamburger Earmuffs
  • The Frinkahedron

9. Which of these webservices launched first?

  • YouTube
  • Facebook
  • Wikipedia
  • Twitter

10. How old is the TARDIS?

  • Over 300 years
  • Over 500 years
  • Over 900 years
  • Over 1200 years

Round 2

1. What element is Mn?

  • Manganese
  • Magnesium
  • Mendelevium
  • Gold

2. What is the approximate age of the sun?

  • 10 billion years
  • 4.5 billion years
  • 6000 years
  • It’s always been there

3. Which phone did gadget lover James Bond *not* use?

  • Sony Ericsson k800i
  • Sony Ericsson C902
  • Sony Ericsson W960i
  • Sony Ericsson R380

4. In 2000, there were 17 billion text messages sent. How many were sent in 2001?

  • 20 billion
  • 150 billion
  • 250 billion
  • 500 billion

5. Princess Leia is the Senator for which planet?

  • Courscant
  • Yavin 4
  • Naboo
  • Alderaan

6. In electronics, what is the symbol for an inductor?

  • Diode
  • Capacitor
  • Inductor
  • Resistor

7. Approximately how many miles of film reel is used for a 2hr film?

  • 2 miles
  • 3 miles
  • 4 miles
  • 5 miles

8. Ahh, sudo! But what does it do?

  • Makes sandwiches
  • Executes a command as a superuser or another user
  • Creates a directory
  • Changes file permissions

9. What type of connector is this?

  • USB-B
  • USB-A
  • Micro USB
  • Mini USB

10. Which of these languages is best?

  • Ruby
  • Java
  • C#
  • VB

Photo Round – Famous Geeks

  1. Bill Gates
  2. Gillian Anderson
  3. Sir Tim Berners-Lee
  4. Buzz Aldrin
  5. Sergey Brin and Larry Page
  6. Lisa Simpson
  7. Robert Scoble
  8. Steve Ballmer
  9. Linus Torvalds
  10. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak
  11. Lord Alan Sugar
  12. Marrie Curie
  13. Arthur C Clarke
  14. Wil Wheaton
  15. Clive Sinclair

Sound Round

This was borrowed from here, the answers are below:

  1. B – Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  2. A – HAL 9000
  3. D – Frankenstein
  4. C – Forbidden Planet
  5. B – Alien
  6. A – War of the Worlds
  7. D – Tie Fighter from Star Wars
  8. B – Robocop
  9. D – Logan’s Run
  10. A – Them!
  11. C – Star Trek
  12. A – Jurassic Park
  13. C – Earth vs. The Flying Saucers
  14. B – Tron


#rdggeek12 Quiz Results

October 12, 2010 § 1 Comment

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A very hotly contested quiz this evening, congratulations to all. Results from the first Reading Geek Night Quiz (and special awards) are as follows:

  • 1st Place: The Puget Sound (46/59)
  • -2nd Place: 3D TASTIC (44) – Joint best Fun Round score (5/10) & Perfect Picture Round score (15/15)
  • -2nd Place: ? (44)
  • 3rd Place: Globaldev (42) – Best 1st Round Score (9/10) & Perfect Picture Round score
  • 4th: One geek short of a party (40)
  • 5th: Backslash Zero’s score (39)
  • 6th: Quiz Tingley (38)
  • 7th: Three letter names (36) – Best Sound Round score (12/14)
  • 8th: Amigos (35)
  • 9th: Monochrome Spods (28) – Joint best Fun Round score (5/10)

A few of you took your answer sheets so if you let me know your scores, I’ll add them in here!

As there was an outright winner, we never got to hear the tie-break question, so here is it:

Research has calculated the speed at which Santa’s reindeer must travel to visit every house in the world on Christmas Day. How many miles per second is it?

The closest answer left in the comments by 19th October will win absolutely nothing.  Using the interwebs to find out the answer is cheating hehe.

Reading Geek Night – One year on

October 10, 2010 § 1 Comment

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This Tuesday (12th October) sees the 12th Reading Geek Night and I’m thrilled to have seen it go from strength to strength over the past year.

The variety of talks has undoubtably provided the variation to ensure the success of the evening. This, coupled with a good space to hold it in,  the dedication of the presenters and regular attendees and most obviously the commitment of @JimAnning has resulted in a healthy start to a monthly event that I hope will continue for a long while to come.

To mark the occasion, I’ve put together a little quiz that will separate the nerds from the herds – complete with prizes from Sugru.  See you on Tuesday!

  • The Author

    Chris is a Ruby on Rails ninja, iOS developer, part-time musician and avid scuba diver. He heads up the tech side of Conjure, a multi-disciplined digital agency specialising in mobile application development. He's also a founder at

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