This summer GuestSort is joining a startup incubator located in Bristol. Along with investment we’ll be provided office space in the heart of the city centre with expert mentoring ending in a presentation in front of some of the UK’s most successful Venture Capitalists.
Our plan is to rebuild the entire service based on the feedback gathered from our existing clients creating the worlds first “Attendee Relationship Management” service. This means starting from scratch; our API, web & iOS app will all be redesigned and rewritten. We’re looking for 2 or 3 enthusiastic, hard working, and dedicated individuals to join the team and help accomplish this vision, together.
8th June to 7th August
A great working environment
Your very own 27” iMac
Opportunity to be part of an early stage startup in an incubator
Experience in developing for the web or iOS
A serious attention to detail
The ability to think independently
Prepared to drop everything and switch focus
Obsessional code formatting and standardisation practice
Fearless and thorough when things get big
Objective-C and Cocoa framework experience
Expertise in NodeJS, MongoDB, BackboneJS, SASS, Redis, CoffeeScript, Gulp/Grunt
Familiarity with OS X operating system
Concepts surrounding OAuth implementation
RESTful API usage
Git SVN experience
GitHub profile with active contribution to open source projects
StackOverflow with evidence of problem solving
Located in the South West of England
If you’re interested or have any questions please email email@example.com with a summary of why you think you’re perfect for the role along with a contact number.
Don’t worry if you don’t meet all of the requirements, we’d still love to hear from you.
I’m currently sitting in front of a TouchSmart PC from a half decade ago. Back then this was on the bleeding edge, pioneering desktop touch innovation. It was bold, daring, and in the most part, completely useless. Despite this it still managed to become HP’s poster child, a product they could be proud of. A huge segment quickly emerged for kitchen worktop computing devices which nicely coincided with Microsoft’s push into their Windows Media Centre for digital TV watching.
Despite its many flaws – awful boot time, bulky design, poor screen resolution, terrible viewing angles, and resistive touch technology – I still love this thing. It was different, and different takes guts. For the most part, it worked. I could quickly watch a DVD before school (assuming it wasn’t from a cold start up), catch up with the news on BBC breakfast via digital, and even stream digital content straight from a flash enabled web browser.
A few days back the very same company that pushed for such invention announced this, a product that has a remarkable resemblance to another Cupertino based company’s work:
But was this demise into ubiquity inevitable? Did Apple, in true troll fashion, get to glass and aluminium first and the rest were just late to the game? It’s hard to say. The materials lend themselves brilliantly to such devices but Nokia have shown that there are real alternatives in industrial design. The near identical touchpad and chiclet keyboard seem a step too far.
Apple pushed the mantra of controlling both the hardware and software, with others like Microsoft with Surface, Amazon with Kindle, and Google with Nexus now following suit. Over the next half decade I think we’ll see a continuation of this shift. Fewer companies will be able to compete through a lack of in-house software excellence and a rich media ecosystem. Microsoft’s once one-OS-for-every-PC strategy will shortly be over.
As a side note, Apples new spaceship themed campus is being built atop the remnants of the former home of Hewlett Packard, the very same company that gave Apples co-founder his first job in the industry. Despite recent failed efforts with WebOS, another once great consumer electronics company has slipped into the hands of the enterprise sector.
We don’t do printers, monitors, Windows installs or anything to do with IT for that matter. Mostly, we work as Developers writing software. You probably live in a bliss, ignorant bubble where software, native or web based, just works. You might imagine that building software is much the same as designing a PowerPoint slideshow, drag and drop and all that, but it isn’t.
All computers - your iPad, iPhone, that ATM machine on the High Street, and even your dishwasher - at the lowest hardware level only interpret binary commands; 1’s and 0’s.
Writing such code, known as machine code, would make our lives very difficult. We have drastic layers of abstraction from this basic language to a more human readable, friendly and accessible development environment. Some languages are more abstracted than others depending on their purpose and when they were designed.
In a Computer Science degree, the primary focus is to ensure graduates think in a logical, efficient manner. We’re taught dozens of programming and scripting languages, but fashion and rapid innovation mean most are irrelevant by the time we graduate. This taught mentality of problem based thinking therefore ensures we can adapt to new languages with little friction.
It’s an extensive field. Some spend their time writing the back end of web applications, like Facebook or Google, some design AI algorithms for use in the aerospace industry, and others work for Banks ensuring the safe transactions of billions of pounds. These things have little relation to what many people think of as IT.
If you want help with your printer, ask tech support.
As a side note, I’m not your typical Computer Science student or programmer. I don’t say this in a vain or arrogant way, but in a matter-of-fact way. I love developing software but am also extremely passionate about the design, the usability and the core concept of a product. I enjoy programming because it’s extremely empowering. I have ideas and I can build them.
Some people delude hope and trust and love and happiness. You run and leap and jump for some people, but it’s no use. They’ll never change.
They’re all the same, these people. When realised you’ll be free to bound over them. And bound I will.
When the iPad was unveiled back in January 2010, the media were underwhelmed, but consumers still queued in their thousands. Its success has been unprecedented but for me it’ll always be an evolution next to the iPhone. As I sit here in a station waiting for a train, everyone around me is using their phone. Not T9 dumb-phones but touchscreen smart phones. People are playing Angry Birds, reading Tweets, and checking the news.
5 years ago browsing the internet on your phone was so intolerable that even the most savvy of users didn’t go near it. In 2012, Americans spend more time browsing Facebook from their phone than from their desktop PC. Despite what the media say, the successor for the PC won’t be the tablet.
It’s already been superseded by the smartphone.
Last November I had a business idea, an idea at the time which needed refining, but didn’t appear to have too many barriers to it achieving success. It was simple, a site that recommended one venue or event to it’s users each day, along with exclusive offers for that venue or event. A GroupOn of sorts, but only for one bar or club at any given time. The service, dubbed ‘wheree’ (the extra ‘e’ plagued me), aimed to solve the common question ‘where to go out tonight?’. Current promoters earn around £1 per name for every customer they bring into a venue. The goal with wheree was to become a completely digital promotions company, one that had far lower overheads than traditional promoters and one that could significantly undercut this £1 per person price point.
As an 18 year old student working out of a dorm room, with a ‘business’ that had nothing to show for itself (bar from a few screenshots of an unfinished site), convincing bars and clubs to take part in trial nights wasn’t easy, but after speaking to over 30 venues, I managed to book 3. I couldn’t of wished for these consecutive nights going any better; wheree was a big success. We got over 2000 unique visitors to the site during these 3 nights, and ended up bringing in an extra 500 customers for the 3 bars and clubs. This was down to unbelievable support from my friends and family on the nights and during the weeks leading up to them - I can’t thank you all enough.
I learnt a lot from this experience, not just technically (teaching myself PHP, MySQL and jQuery in a weekend) or how to handle myself when speaking to clients, but about myself, and about what I want to achieve in my life. This process was one of the most enjoyable things I’ve ever undertaken, but this doesn’t stop the concept of wheree from not aligning with my skill set or ambitions. The idea is sound, and is still perfectly feasible, but because of it’s nature, it being filled by the company, rather than it’s users, it isn’t a project I want to continue to be a part of. If I’m going to invest as much time into a project, I want to spend it building and creating a product that can be enjoyed and filled by its users, rather than one that involves constant selling to clients.
Up until a few weeks ago, wheree was going to be bought by someone who would of carried the business forward, but unfortunately this deal fell through. I’m still in the process of talking to potential buyers, but I feel that now is the right time to announce my next venture, one that is completely separate and different from wheree, GuestSort. Something I learnt time and time again from my experience with wheree is that club’s and bars are now very much into promoting themselves through social networks rather than outsourcing this process. Guest lists are increasingly becoming the go-to-method of drumming up publicity for an event on Facebook.
The problem is that Facebook doesn’t offer anything like a guest list system. It provides basic event pages for, you’ve guessed it, events, but these have to be bodged into becoming guest lists by using the comment section. GuestSort is going to change that, in a very big and exciting way, not just for promoters, but for those that add themselves and their friends to guest lists. The end goal is to make joining guest lists much easier and more intuitive for you, the user, but to also dramatically increase the events presence on Facebook, helping promoters. The core product to all of this, LiveList’s, is a month into it’s development and is nearly ready to be unveiled. I can’t wait to be able to show it off to you, but until then thank you all for your continued support.
A few weeks back, as I sat in front of my iMac, admiring it along with my Macbook Air, iPad, iPod and iPhone, something dawned on me: I’m too tied into Apple’s ecosystem. I needed a change from the Cupertino lifestyle, and thought the grass looked greener elsewhere. At the same time Nokia coincidently offered me a Lumia 800, to have, for free. I of course gladly accepted.
First things first, despite sounding very much like a point and shoot camera, the Lumia 800 is in actual fact Nokia’s latest flagship device, the first offering from the Finnish company to run Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 (WP7) operating system. The phone features a 3.7” OLED capacitive display, an 8 megapixel camera, 8 Gb of onboard storage, a 3.5mm headphone jack, HSDPA support, and a 1.4 GHz single core processor, all of which is crammed into a 142g unibody, polycarbonate casing.
Despite myself just listing these, a phones hardware specifications are almost irrelevant these days, what really matters is the software that’s nestled inside it’s black bezel. Windows Phone 7 is a compelling re-imagining of current smart phone operating systems. The biggest change from the norm is it’s truly revolutionary user interface, what Microsoft like to call ‘Metro’. There’s no artistic drop shadows, artistic trickery creating illusions of bygone physical objects, or elements that try to add dimension to the pixels onscreen, just a fresh, simple layout, with a big focus on large type headings and monochromatic, inverted text-on-background colour schemes. It’s nice to finally see originality in this industry, especially from Microsoft.
I’ve been an iPhone user for over 5 years now, so during this process I wanted to be as open minded as possible. I completely moved all of my content to the new phone and made it my primary device. The short of it: I didn’t enjoy this switch. My challenge now is to try and explain exactly where the phone fell down, leading me to this conclusion. There was no startlingly broken or bad features that lead to this, more that there was a lengthy series of fairly small failures that accumulated to this resounding No.
In terms of the basic navigation of the OS, it’s tile home screen paradigm just doesn’t work on a functional level - you feel yourself constantly wanting to go backwards another level to a real home screen every time you return to it. Instead of icons, WP7‘s home screen is a grid of tiles, all of which containing unique and personal information relating to your activity from within each application. This on paper sounds effective at relaying new, important information, but in reality becomes an overly noisy mess with key information being hidden amongst the unimportant.
The badge approach - when a number is displayed on the applications icon to show new activity - is a much more effective method of highlighting this to the user. On OS’s that use this paradigm, users are able to quickly scan the home screen, on WP7 you find yourself devoting far more time than necessary to achieve the same effect. The lack of a notification area, one that delivers a quick overview of all recent messages, email, and calendar appointments, much like those found on iOS and Android, is also sorely missing on WP7.
The phone has 3 capacitive buttons running along the bottom of the handsets front panel; Back, Start, and Search. Start takes you to the discussed tile launch screen, Search to the Bing mobile app, and Back to the previous level or state of the current application. Holding down this Back button takes you to the phones multitasking interface. This presents running applications in a card like manor, very similar to what is seen in WebOS, letting the user quickly jump between ‘running’ applications. Multitasking on phones is an odd being as in reality the applications that are supposedly ‘running’ are most definitely not, they’re actually put into a dormant state.
This process requires memory allocation by the operating system, but allows applications to be launched far quicker the next time they’re opened. Theres a limit of how many applications can be put into this fast switching state due to the scarcity of RAM available; WP7’s limit is 7. You’d assume therefore that a key function of the multitasking interface would be to kill some of these dormant applications, freeing up memory and saving battery life in the process, but surprisingly no, this infuriatingly isn’t possible from the multitasking switcher. The way the user actually goes about this task is by switching back into the application and then going back to the home screen. This makes as little sense as having Germany share the same currency as Greece in 2011.
My next gripe is Hubs. This is more of a personal preference rather than an actual complaint about the operating system, but is one that became increasingly more annoying when I spent more time with the phone. WP7 combines and amalgamates all of your contacts from your phone book, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, into one ‘People Hub’. This Hub also contains an extremely basic integrated timeline, showing recent user activity, such as photos, wall posts and statuses. I don’t like this integration. Searching through 1500 contacts to call just one number isn’t fun, especially when you quickly find duplicates.
It doesn’t make any sense to me to include an activity timeline when all 3 of these social networks offer far more powerful downloadable applications from the Marketplace. Other hubs include ‘Photos’ and ‘Me’. The first of which again combines your photos and friends photos from the networking sites into one central location, the second is a combined Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn application that again offers less functionality that the stand alone downloadable applications. The very worst offender of this stupid integration is the ‘Messages’ hub - you’ll go to text someone but instead will Facebook Message them without realising, brilliant.
WP7’s applications rely heavily on an interaction called ‘pivoting’ - swiping from left to right - on doing this, another section of the application is revealed. When theres only 2 sections within an application, pivoting works effectively as you the user is aware of the other section as it’s labelled next to the current one at the top of the screen. It starts to go wrong when applications exceed this number of sections as the oversized label style then means that sections become hidden, often making you not realise that there’s more functionality inside an application than what is visible.
The included Maps application couldn’t correctly locate me (always deciding that I was in a location a mile away from my actual one). The speakers really disappoint, they’re loud yet are distinctly average, producing extremely tinny and flat results. The included browser - Internet Explorer - renders some sites extremely peculiarly, and doesn’t match the speed of the competitions offerings. Bing search, has always been, and always will be, is rubbish. This wouldn’t be an issue if you could change the search button to link to Google, but you can’t. Text selection is overly long winded. Moving the text-cursor is second to selecting entire words - something that is the opposite on iOS and Android for the very good reason that it’s a task done more than the other.
A core part of any touchscreen phone is it’s keyboard. WP7 isn’t necessarily bad, on a basic level it works fine, but it could be greatly improved. On iOS and Android, touchspots for certain keys become bigger when the probability of the user using them next increases. This lets the user type furiously fast yet still achieve perfectly coherent and grammatically correct sentences.
To be truly impartial I need to also mention what’s actually good about this phone, and a lot thankfully is. The overall speed and snappiness of the OS is outstandingly good, especially considering that it’s running on a now last-generation single core processor. It’s a much better experience than on Android phones, where interactions can at times feel laggy, and is definitely on par with iOS. The camera is good, and the bundled application lets the user quickly add fun filters to their photos, Instagram esc. Where the heavy social integration actually works is in such a use case scenario - taking and then sharing a photograph to Facebook takes 2 taps, far better than the equivalent process available on iOS or Android.
The phones casing, however aesthetically pleasing, is made of polycarbonate, which lends to the device not feeling nearly as precious or valuable as a phone such as the iPhone 4S, which offers far superior materials and build quality. The screen is polarised and in combination with the OLED technology means colour reproduction is particularly good, the resolution however is now subpar when put next to a phone like Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus. I wouldn’t go as far as saying impressive, but the battery life still allowed a full days use without needing a charge, which matches that of the competition. The Zune Marketplace, which offers all-you-can-eat downloads of songs for a very reasonable £8.99 a month, worked well and contains a great selection of music. The phones Marketplace (App Store equivalent) now features over 50000 applications, despite this most are lacking in quality, but the odd gem can still be found.
Despite a recent major update to WP7, dubbed Mango, the OS still feels lacking and half baked. The Lumia 800 is on par with the iPhone and the top end Android phones, in terms of contract prices and handset costs, but just doesn’t seem to offer a comparable user experience. It may be that in a years time Nokia will be offering more competitive and compelling hardware, and that Microsoft will have delivered on making the phones’ OS more feature rich, but until then I can’t recommend this phone, nor WP7 as a platform.