Some thoughts on Slack vs IRC

A bit random but bear with me.

I love Slack. It’s a brilliant tool and it’s done an amazing job in a market place that many would have said was already overcrowded. But it’s not perfect. Slack is a walled garden (no judgment in that statement, a simple fact) and getting data out of their ecosystem can be a pain. Also it’s commercial software which gets expensive real fast if you’re trying to run it for a large team (again this is totally fine, the Slack team built it ergo they can charge what they damn well please if the...

RIP Bus Sim

Back in September of 2014 the first HackJsy was run around community data and part of the offering was an API into the services of our local bus service including real time updates.

At around midnight on the Saturday, I decided it was about time I actually built something (as one of the organisers I’d spent much of the previous time organising stuff) and so sat down to mashup the realtime API with Google Maps and Street View.

The end result? A tongue in cheek service which I named Bus Sim and which showed all the buses on the island, their current realtime positions and provided users the ability to “jump on board” and be treated to a live updating Street View tour of the route in question.

Over the following year I found myself referring to the service most mornings in order to work out where my bus actually was and so added some improvements to the system to make it more useful and more stable. I also started to share this service with friends and increased the infrastructure behind it to support a reasonable load.

Today the States of Jersey announced that the official version of their Bus Tracker had gone live and so it’s time to retire Bus Sim.

A Social Experiment - Smartphone Free

Updated 28th November

I’ve had a smartphone since 2010. Well I say that, I’ve had what would be recognised as a modern smartphone since 2010. Prior to that i’d enjoying a variety of BlackBerries, Treos and Palm devices but the Google Nexus One was my first nothing but touch screen device. And I loved it. Since then I’ve bounced around range of Android phones (never an iPhone user but have had an iPad despite my early misgivings about the platform) and have grown used to being fully connected 24 x 7 (battery and signal permitting).

I’ve kept my phone pretty up to date over the years and have generally budgeted for one upgrade per year to avoid being “left behind” as new features are released and my preferred apps grow ever more resource hungry. With the latest Nexus devices being released I started to think about trading in my OnePlus One (still perfectly serviceable) for a newer model and so moved all of my data off the device, wiped it and put it up for resale and as I did so I started thinking, why exactly do I need a smartphone anyway?

And so begins the great social experiment - can I live and work smartphone free?

5 reasons why Apple's new Beats 1 is a triumph of modern radio

As part of the launch of Apple’s new Apple Music service they announced that they’d also be launching a global on-line radio station Beats 1.

While the launch itself may have been fumbled for non iOS users and I’ve yet to be tempted away from Spotify for on demand listening, Beats 1 has been on near constant play for the past couple of days and I think it’s safe to say the Apple have nailed a very tricky proposition.

Sure I’m having to keep a constant UK VPN connection running to listen (long story but Jersey and Apple are not best buds) but it’s worth the extra effort.

Here’s why:

PHP at 20

I’m over protective of PHP within my personal circle of techy friends. Sure it’s not as sexy as the latest greatest new thing and it’s not as enterprisey as Java or .Net but it’s provided me with a solid base on which to build a career and 2 companies over a little more than 10 years.

Using Modernizr to redirect old browsers

Browser support is always a contentious issue amongst developers with some claiming that support for all currently used browsers should be within the grasp of a solid artisan (at a cost) while others state users clinging to older browsers should be denied access to modern sites in the interests of rapid development and modern feature support.

This debate is not going to be settled any time soon and even as IE6 slides gracefully into obscurity the next round of “Old Browsers” are just waiting around the corner to frustrate web developers around the world.

One thing is certain, browser sniffing (inspecting the user agent string) is a bad idea and instead we should be using feature detection to make our sites progressively degrade as we work our way down the generations.

Which is, on the face of it, a superb plan until you look at using one of the fronted frameworks that simply doesn’t support older browsers. Foundation 5, for example, is strictly IE9+ and while I could spend a tedious amount of time tweaking it to degrade neatly what if I wanted to simply detect the users on older systems and neatly redirect them but do so without resorting to UA sniffing?

The Five Million Pound Plan (or an affordable recipe for a startup hub)

Here’s the situation. You’re a small (but perfectly formed) location with some great plans to build up your digital presence in a world filled with micro hubs, macro hubs and tech centers of all shapes and sizes. You have the budget, you have government buy in (kinda) but you lack one very important ingredient: you’re short on skilled man power.

The common initial reaction to this scenario is to start community training initiatives, to engage with education from primary school up and to encourage as many people as possible to get “skilled up” in digital. But this is a long term strategy. The earliest you’ll see fruition is 12 months after commencement and it will be years before you start to hit the numbers you need. Plus you’ll have had to maintain the attractiveness of your location throughout this long wait to ensure that your newly skilled locals don’t up sticks and head off in search of a land were the streets are paved with £££ and 101010!

What if there were a quicker way to ensure an almost immediate influx of skills and digital aware thought leaders? Enter the Half a Million Pound Plan.

Full Stack or Jack?

I’ve billed myself as a Full Stack web developer for about 5 years now. Originally this was to make clear my abilities and know-how covered the full range of web development, from front-end markup, advanced CSS and JavaScript on the client, through to the server side technologies, web & database servers and even the OS hosting the system. In short I was capable in all areas needed to build solid web solutions.

But increasingly, the layers of web development are separating and I have to question: Should I still be Full Stack? Do developers trying to keep abreast of all these rapidly changing technologies simply risk becoming the oft maligned “Jack of All Trades”?

HackJsy - An insider's perspective

I’d never organised a hackathon before. Hell I’d only ever been to one in the past so it smacks of insanity that Matt, Andy, Sonia, myself and a bunch of others thought we could pull one out of the bag based on little more than a whole ton of enthusiasm and some first principles. But after a few meetings, the production of countless lists and some pretty rapid iteration we ended up with a plan that seemed like it would work and sent out the invite list… then we waited.

Mobile, car, TV, tablet or wearable? They're all just cloud interfaces!

With an Apple hardware announcement due in a little over 3 hours, technology pundits the world over are trying to firm up the final odds on an announcement of the iWatch or similar Apple wearable. All the rumours seem to point that way but at the same time the real impact of a watch based (and sized) device has not really been explored. What would an iWatch mean to you as an iPhone toting citizen of the on-line world?