Friday 31 October 2014

The Web Is... Day Two

Took me a little while to prepare my notes for the second day of The Web Is… conference, mainly due to an ‘orrible cold that developed over the last week. I hope I haven’t given it to the lovely people I spoke to over the last few days!

Thank you once again to Craig and Amie Lockwood and all their helpers for a fantastic conference. I know they had a lot of trouble getting the conference organised, but the end result was very definitely worth it.

Craig — please keep organising more conferences! You have a rare skill in finding and curating talks that connect at many different levels —- and that challenge us to do better and improve the world.

Here are my notes for day two, complete with the additional Creative Morning session.

Creative Mornings: Crossover

  • creative mornings: 99 cities around the world
  • meeting once a month with a common theme across all
  • this month, the theme is Crossover

David Hieatt, Hiut Denim @davidhieatt

  • co-founded Howies
  • runs the Do Lectures
  • entrepreneurs fall in love with things so they don’t quit
  • have to choose something that you’re interested in
    • it will get tough and test you
  • vision: what have I seen that others haven’t
  • intersection of skill, interest & vision
    • where you’re most alive
  • fight a battle you can win
  • denim factory in wales used to be biggest jeans factory in UK
  • employed 400 people, made 35K pairs of jeans a week for decades
  • tried to be cheapest — not the right battle
  • in UK have to use our creativity
  • dreams should not be logical or sensible
    • should scare you!
  • currently employing 14 people — quite a way to go
  • but everyone in the town has decades of experience making jeans
  • there are people in the factory who have 50,000 hours of experience
  • the elite makers club
  • but quality isn’t enough
  • need to find ideas to act as multipliers
  • hiut denim: an ideas company that makes jeans
  • Richard Seymour: the more you operate in the future, the less competition you will have
  • lots of small experiments
  • small company — move fast
  • jeans have history tags on them
    • 6 photos of them being made
    • plus you can upload new photos for their history
    • when the jeans get handed down, you can see their history
  • 80% of environmental impact is the washing, not the making
    • hence no wash club
    • people doing crazy things to not wash for 6 months or more
  • people want to wear used jeans
    • so sent out jeans to people to break in
    • they would get their deposit back when returned
    • then receive 20% of resulting sale
  • facetime store
    • will create a custom fit for you from a facetime call
  • instagram is going to change stores
  • your best project is the one that’s in front of you now

The Web Is… Like Water

Scott Jenson @scottjenson

  • standardising pull to refresh, just like the steering wheel…?
  • but steering wheels started as tillers with rear wheel steering
  • User Unfriendly, Joseph J Corn
    • people preferred the tiller at the time
    • needed irreversible steering to prevent too much feedback from potholes
  • browsers have a DOS prompt on the top…
    • the browser needs a browser
  • the web = Loki — proud, vs iPhone = the Hulk
    • “I am a God, you dull creature. I will not be bullied”
    • …body slam…
  • the web is currently following native, not driving the future
  • we have app myopia
  • “thin crust of effort” around apps
    • people will only install them if they’re important
  • apps are our technology tiller…
  • Apple iBeacons are per-app at the moment
    • go into a mall — install one app for each store…
    • then delete them all afterwards as they’re all crap
  • the web is good at the long tail
  • break down the internet of things into several layers
    • coordination
      • devices talking to each other
      • toast automatically ready when you come down for breakfast
      • cool but will take a while
    • control
      • where we are right now
    • discovery
      • commonly ignored — usually “download our app”
  • think small — just a bit of information for each thing
  • Bluetooth Low Energy beacons just broadcasting a URL
    • like QR codes but without having to get so close
  • URL with information
    • bus stop
  • URL that sends info back to the device
    • vending machine
    • GSM modems are really cheap
    • Sigfox offers $1/year plans
  • URL with javascript talking BLE direct to object
    • object can make use of all the capabilities of the phone
    • so much cheaper per device
    • Chrome already has Bluetooth library but behind Chrome apps
    • but creating a proposal with Mozilla to put into web sandbox
  • two kinds of ideas:
    • truck ideas — products
    • road ideas — infrastructure
  • Malcolm McLean — invented container shipping
    • created lots of patents then gave them away
    • realised he would make more by having a smaller percentage of larger market
  • physical web beacon
    • currently no security etc — just for testing
    • configure it by pressing the button
  • the Google Chrome team is staffed by boy scouts
    • just want more URLs in the world

The Web Is… Still Young

Benjamin Hollway @benjaminhollway

Slides available at

  • how can we support young coders under 18?
  • cheap/free tickets for conferences
  • opportunities to speak
    • unique perspective
  • alternative after party venues
    • accessible to people who can’t drink or are too young
  • help introduce kids to computing
  • mentoring
    • work experience
    • paid internships — 2-3 weeks during summer holiday
    • deeper insight into how the industry works
  • future
    • inclusivity
    • < 5% use IE, but at least that or more have disabilities

The Web Is… Turning Difficulties Into Opportunities

Robin Christopherson, @USA2DAY

  • AbilityNet: leading experts in technology & disability
  • also do assessments: one of first was Prof. Stephen Hawking
  • technology can really help people with disabilities
  • light detector
    • helps to see if lights/indicators are on or off
    • especially for enabling oven light (they don’t make speaking ovens)
  • talking goggles
    • reads any text from camera
    • also recognises some images
  • word lens
    • translates and can then read out using voiceover
  • TABs — temporarily able bodied
    • it’s likely everyone will have some kind of some kind of disability eventually in their lives
  • also mobile use cases are often very similar to accessibility cases
  • a blind date with an iPhone
    • woman prepares all her responses before the date…
  • google glass captioned audio
    • speak into Android phone, see captioned audio on glass screen
  • FaceXpress
    • identifies emotions from faces
  • live facial recognition
    • identify people coming to your door if you’re bed-bound
  • directions in maps apps
    • audio directions are very powerful
  • Moto Hint
    • Google Now as an earbud
  • IBM Watson now has a developer kit
  • self-driving cars
    • 30% of city driving is looking for a space
    • eliminating human error accidents
    • need to have speech output
    • otherwise can’t tell if arrived or just stopped at a traffic light!
  • direct brain interface
    • completely paralysed woman able to move a robot arm
  • technology4good lifetime award given to Prof. Hawking
  • 73% of people with a vision impairment are out of work
    • there’s no longer any reason why they can’t work

The Web Is… Too Slow

Andy Davies @AndyDavies

  • shopdirect (run littlewoods brand):
    • on average, each purchase is across 2.4 devices
  • Tammy Everts: only 12% of top 100 US retail sites render feature content under 3 seconds
  • we perceive delays around the 1s mark
    • 100ms appears instantaneous
    • 200-300ms fast enough
    • 1s start to feel it
    • > 1s we start to task switch
  • the web is for everybody …but only if we make it that way
  • Chris Zachariah: made youtube pages faster
    • but time to view video went down
    • turns out they were reaching new audiences
    • that hadn’t been able to use the site at all before
  • Guardian’s new design:
    • speed was a feature in the press release
  • Walmart have released conversion rate vs load time
    • all conversions concentrated in first 4 secs of load time
  • Staples increased conversions by 10%
    • cut 1s from median home page
    • 6s from 98th percentile
  • we’re more tolerant of slow experiences in some cases
    • when we’re more committed, e.g. further into conversion funnel
    • when we’re used to it
  • kayak study: we don’t trust comparison sites that are too quick…
  • Matias Duarte: “design is finding solutions within constraints .. if no constraints, it’s not design but art”
  • need to set a performance design constraint
    • e.g. an event that matters to the user happens within a certain time under certain network conditions
  • doesn’t mean anything to measure page sizes or number of objects
  • Etsy: have lots of feature flags
    • all staff see a performance bar at the top of the page
    • indicates if the page has met requirements
  • PerfBar
    • plugins for different browsers and sites
  • WebPageTest
    • can run tests & set a budget based on competitor sites
  • speedcurve
    • used by the guardian
    • have a performance chart outside the financial director’s office
    • performance budget lines coming in November
  • headline network speed doesn’t include latency
    • often matters more than bandwidth
  • network connection closer to a bucket brigade than a pipe
  • TCP has a slow start algorithm that directly affects initial page latency
  • rendering:
    • CSS Object Model blocks Javascript execution
    • Javascript blocks DOM construction
    • complex CSS can really slow the initial rendering
  • dealing with fonts
    • Ilya Gregorik suggested new font-timeout & font-desirability properties
    • would allow us to choose to render the page without the font
  • HTTP/2 has server push
    • server can push additional files that it knows the browser will want
    • if the browser has a cached version, it can reject the push

Slides will be available at (eventually)

The Web Is… Our Responsibility

Sally Jenkinson @sjenkinson

  • concept keyboards provided touch-based input to BBC Micros back in 1984
  • symbiotic relationship between technology and experiences
  • remember it’s as much about people as it is about development
  • all the roles need to work together
    • e.g. performance cuts through all layers
  • responsive design mostly seen to be to do with screen widths
  • but there’s much more (especially in CSS level 4 draft)
    • whether the device supports hover affordances
    • the current ambient light level
  • invisible requirements
  • Open Data Institute guest book
    • iPad with keyboard
    • can sign in with touch or typing
    • or can add an existing RFID card (e.g. Oyster or bank card) to check-in in future
  • GE Healthcare adventure series
    • MRI scanner dressed up as spaceship
    • children can imagine the spaceship rumbling through space
    • much less scary
  • be aware of the choices we make
  • try to think beyond ourselves
  • you are responsible for things you build
  • if someone presents you with something that you don’t agree with, then question it
    • even if it’s not officially your responsibility
  • try and educate people as to why things should be done differently
  • if you are in a big project that you disagree with, try and make little changes

The Web Is… Read/Write

Owen Gregory, editor @FullCreamMilk

  • acts as a conduit between writer and reader
  • the web has a closer relationship between writers and readers
  • publishers & editors need to be advocates in their community
  • jason santamaria: where is the cultural and aesthetic discourse on web design
    • writing is mostly about the new techniques and looking forward
    • where does a common language for web design discourse start?
  • jakob nielsen: we should accept that the web is too fast moving for big picture description
  • book: nicely said: writing for the web with style and purpose
    • nicole fenton & kate kiefer lee
  • Sir Thomas Browne: The Garden of Cyrus
    • drawing parallels between lots of different fields
  • W G Sebald: The Rings of Saturn
    • new style of writing, referring to the author
    • tracking Thomas Browne’s work
  • deploying a text can be a continuous process — Mandy Brown
    • comments, talks, reframing, etc.

The Web Is… Progress

Mr Bingo, @mr_bingo

instagram: mr_bingstagram

  • apparently the web is blue…
  • D&AD brief: put the fun back in to the web
  • hand-drawn aesthetic — much easier in flash…
  • 2010 selling prints of drawings for £5 each for Haiti earthquake
  • internet commenting is like toilet graffiti
  • worried that if I die, when my life flashes before my eyes, all I will see is square pictures of food
  • weird stock photography… (just watch the talk!)
  • opened a service for sending people insults on postcards

The Web Is… Progress

Brad Frost @brad_frost

  • web enabled linking to anything we want (was a radical change…)
  • open by default
  • the most sharing community in the world
    • e.g. css-tricks license
    • “I want the web to get better and being all Johnny Protective over everything doesn’t get us there”
  • pittsburgh food bank
  • why share?
    • because we can — it’s cheap
    • but it can be really uncomfortable
    • other people can contribute
  • trying to solve everyone’s problem is in some cases easier to solve just your own
    • an idea can snowball into a plugin just a few hours later
  • our first drafts can have their own value
    • in some cases they can have more value than the finished work
  • the web is for everyone — but that means all the violence, hate and anger as well…
  • guardian, bbc and designing in the open
  • other companies and even other countries can use this as a blueprint for their own work
  • each of us is individual and has unique different experiences
  • knowledge is an iterative and cumulative process
  • depending on sharing and combining our different perspectives
  • even if lots of people contribute similar things, they still contribute
    • e.g. 162,000 youtube videos on how to re-wire a plug
  • your post might not be the most original, but it might be the one that tips over the scales
  • it has never been easier in the history of the world to contribute to the knowledge of the world

Thursday 30 October 2014

The Web Is... Day One

Another excellent conference from Craig Lockwood — and this is only the first day.

I’m always impressed by the groundedness and open-hearted feeling I get when I attend Craig’s conferences. He curates the speakers not just for their intellectual knowledge and not just for inspiration, but also for their ability to connect to and understand the world and the people in it.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow!

The Web is… Knowledge

Christopher Murphy @fehler, Teaches MFA at Belfast School of Art

  • recommended reading
  • interaction design course (part of Master in Fine Arts)
    • get started with a github profile
  • teaching to see:
    • bauhaus model & visual grammar
    • point > line > plane
  • charlie munger
    • warren buffet’s business partner at Berkshire Hathaway
    • latticework of mental models
    • learning new models in related fields
    • all useful fields to understand interaction design…
  • lollapalooza effect
    • power of ideas together is greater than each by themselves
    • e.g. put a designer & developer together and get more than you would get by themselves
  • nuance and human interaction easier to learn from humans
  • master and apprentice
    • not just a one way relationship
    • master learns to see the world in a new way with fresh eyes
  • apprentice moves on then becomes a journeyman
    • going to different masters
    • gradually starting to teach others
  • ken robinson: have to move to an organic process of education
  • teach a whole mind:
    • need self-belief, manners, confidence, politeness
    • as well as skills in business, design, technology, etc
  • universities move at a glacial pace
    • takes 5 years to change a curriculum…
  • short form courses
    • patterns: josh long
    • general assembly
  • those who can, do; those who care teach

The Web is… Constant

How do we design for constant change… and not go mad

Nathan Ford @nathan_ford, Monotype,

  • web design not yet nailed down as a discipline
  • creating repeated success in a volatile environment
  • previously worked as Creative Director at Mark Boulton Design
    • these ideas come from that time
  • team
    • bring the client into the team
    • or bring your team into the client
    • embedding
    • learn empathy…
  • look for a champion on the client side
    • someone who trudges through all the muck
    • make sure they can involve all the stakeholders
    • get the problem stakeholders involved as early as possible
  • no big reveal — eliminate surprises & blame
  • wicked problems
    • term from sociology: massive problems that are hard to define and difficult to resolve
    • web sites are a simpler thing, but their implications often make them behave like a wicked problem
  • measure goals by improvement, not completion
  • when you don’t know, try a lot of things
    • don’t be afraid to throw stuff away
    • failure is ok, but you must keep learning
  • ensure the client writes the user stories
    • can help with a workshop to elucidate
  • work in iterations
    • each iteration should include research, design & building
    • then evaluate and repeat
    • don’t forget to evaluate…
  • always have an available prototype
    • brings the pain of the project earlier
    • lets them show the working consensus to others
  • start with real content
    • if you don’t have any, make it up (NOT lauren ipsum…)
    • motivates client to actually make their own
  • build out grids from content
    • grids within grids
    • content-based items
    • no high-level overarching
  • choose the right css units
    • percent for scaling
    • vw & vh for headlines & page framing — relative to the viewport
    • pixels for media queries — one to one, easier to understand
    • ems and exes for typography
      • exes work better with newer web fonts
      • work on x-height
  • let things get big: but limit on content items
  • example: typekit blog — building out a design based on the Chapparal typeface
  • also leads to simpler testing
    • but still need to test on devices
    • especially type sizes — can be surprising on actual hardware…

The Web is… Everywhere

What we can learn from console browsers

Anna Debenham @anna_debenham,

  • new style of inputs: gestures & voice
  • think about small screen and a very big screen
  • everywhere you can stick a screen, eventually there will be a browser
  • “don’t fall prey to convenience of device silos” cameron moll
  • console browser users are (currently) likely to be younger and lower income
  • consoles and web TVs have low memory
  • performance is crucial
  • the xbox browser can pretend to be a windows mobile device
    • probably added to allow simpler interfaces
  • large screen doesn’t always mean more pixels…
  • handheld consoles often have very wide screens
    • often misidentified to show full fat design
    • should probably have a simpler design
  • the PS Vita includes Amazon’s Kindle Fire Silk UA in its agent string…
  • dual screens often have odd behaviour
    • Nintendo 3DS has two screens with different widths…
  • Wii U aiming to be a full entertainment system
    • four different ways to zoom
    • really important for viewing web on TV when text is often too small
    • supports various presentation modes
      • turning mirroring on and off
      • draw curtains, prepare then reveal
      • play video on main screen, while continue to browse
    • can use multiple wiimotes as pointers
  • similar for xbox one
    • using xbox smartglass app
    • supports split screen: game/tv + browser
    • voice and gesture works really well
  • vimeo couch mode:
    • user choice for big screen support
  • microsoft’s design for xbox and windows phone is truly scalable
  • x-webkit-speech — for speech synthesis
    • currently Google Chome only…
  • microsoft has a design guide for kinect
    • really good read to understand gesture design
  • 30% of people this year used a smart TV to browse the web

The Web Is… Playful

See Lee-Delisle @seb_ly

    • used microphones to detect nerf bullets hitting a screen
  • smashingconf opening animation
    • laser light show mapped onto a dome & pipe organ…
    • definitely worth watching the video
  • lunar trails
    • records its trails into
    • then built a physical arcade machine
    • full screen browser, controlled by an arduino pretending to be a keyboard
    • all linked up to a giant wall-hanging plotter
    • based on polar plotter, but using DC servos rather than stepper motors
  • playfulness on the web has died a little bit
    • the little flash games got taken over by the marketing agencies
    • became viral campaigns that nobody wanted
  • internet of things — nobody knows what it’s for yet
    • much more space for being playful :-)

The Web Is… In The Hands of the 97ers

Emma Mulqueeny, Founder of Rewired State and Young Rewired State @hubmum

  • people born in 1997 and later, grew up with social media
  • those born at the beginning have no leadership
  • Ivan Illich: deschooling society
    • “educational webs … transform each moment … into learning, sharing & caring”
  • the 97ers are already doing peer-to-peer learning
  • the discussion about teaching how to code is almost irrelevant
    • the teachers won’t be teaching how to learn line by line
    • role of all-knowing teacher will become irrelevant
    • much about flipping the classroom and enabling the teacher as guide
  • refugees united: dealing with families split up as they crossed the Somali > Kenya border
    • refugees would have similar names, might lie as they’re scared etc
    • YRSer Kevin figured out that storytelling was important
    • designed service to speak a local story into the phone
    • then find stories that roughly match
    • reunited families went from 3% to over 79%
  • identity is crucial to 97ers
    • their stories (not their names) are their identifier
    • tagged photos
    • peer verification
  • try not to police community as that affects identity
  • have a very early understanding of how to influence community
    • they get immediate feedback from youtube/facebook/etc
    • have figured out how to tweak and skew their message until it works
    • can be quite an arrogant generation — they know how to get those likes…
  • going into the world
    • the most unsafe thing they could do would be to work for a big organisation
    • self-employment is much more attractive — feels safer
    • not about making lots of money — more about long-term employment
  • the Wi-Fi is the bedrock of their needs
    • it’s the gateway to their community and therefore their support network
  • they can’t engage with politics until 18 — it’s too late…
    • they engage with policies rather than parties

The Web Is… All Consuming

Keir Whitaker @keirwhitaker, Shopify

Best to watch this when the video comes out — I couldn’t do it justice with notes.

  • daily todo: 1 big thing, 3 medium things, some small things

Phil Hawksworth, R/GA @philhawksworth

  • Paul Downey’s 2008 “uberdoodle”: The URL is the Thing
  • Ted Nelson: coined the terms hypertext, hypermedia & transclusion (and teledildonics…)
  • you can link to anything from anywhere — the whole becomes more than the sum of its parts
  • :// => “double-meh”
  • Paul Downey: The Web is Agreement
  • browsers are very liberal in what they accept
  • browsers starting to obscure URLs
    • mobile Safari already hides everything but the host
    • Chrome Canary doing similar thing
    • Jake Archibald: the URL is the share button of the web
  • taco bell #onlyintheapp — no longer have any content on their website
    • and only with access to lots of permissions on your phone
  • google experimented with different shades of blue for links (#41shades)
    • apparently the change made about $200m difference
    • but they lost a designer who said he couldn’t argue for all his design decisions
  • this is for everyone (with javascript enabled) — Dan Williams
  • more than 60% of population of India & China is still offline
    • we will need to support them…

Unfinished Business Geek Mental Help @ The Web Is

An enormously important discussion, started by Andy Clarke a few days ago.

The discussion was recorded as an episode of Unfinished Business and included Chris Murphy, Cole Henley, Relly Annett-Baker and @pumpkinsouper.

There are many more articles to be read at — go and read, even if you think you don’t need to.

I think the most crucial advice I heard, was “keep talking” — this discussion is not over…

Monday 29 September 2014

BarCampLondon X

So that was a pretty busy weekend! Thank you to all the organisers and the sponsors for yet another amazing BarCamp London.

If you don’t know what a BarCamp is, go read about how it works, and then come back to read my notes on some of the sessions I attended.

Here’s a picture of all the sessions that the attendees ran over the weekend (that’s a lot!) and it doesn’t list all the random conversations, games and general meeting people that happened outside of the posted schedule.


Dan Hardiker @dhardiker

  • one day workshop
  • aimed at age 8-16
    • 8-9 year olds treated a bit differently — they need a bit more guidance
  • with specific goals
    • make a robot
    • iOS game development
  • want to say “I made that”
  • one child been building iOS apps since age 6:
  • worldwide
  • dominican republic had > 1000 kids over 2 days
  • > 30% people who come are girls/women
  • generally 5 or 6 tracks selected from:
    • minecraft modding
    • scratch
    • python
    • lego mindstorms
    • raspberry pi
    • arduino
    • greenfoot
    • alice
    • kojo
    • iOS
    • mathbreakers
    • NAO robot
  • 4 sessions in a day
  • also go to big conferences and run devoxx4kids for the adults
  • first London event in June
    • got 95% attendance from people who signed up!!
    • 4 x 1hr sessions
    • 40 volunteers
    • had an 11 year-old fly over on his own (met his dad at airport) to run a group of 20 x 11-15 year-olds how to do minecraft modding
    • he also did a closing keynote
  • had the creator of greenfoot teaching how to build a minesweeper game
  • have a load of volunteers available to help children build stuff
  • have a show and tell at the end of the day
  • mindstorms:
    • build the main wheelbase
    • children add grab arms to grab a ball
    • get children to control by hand first
    • program the same steps (5 steps forward etc)
    • add touch & distance sensors
    • program to grab without hard-wiring distance

how to start a hackerspace

Matt Copperwaite @mattcopp

  • start a company - level of protection
    • limited company - need 3 people, can then state not for profit
    • community interest - lots of paperwork
  • business bank account
    • barclays have APIs, £50 cashback at the time…
  • insurance: paid £300/year
    • recommendation from London Hackspace
    • BIS will issue advice on this shortly
  • keep trustees involved
    • raise issues that split them: colour of the logo…!
  • system designed so you can cancel the membership at any point
  • get people signed up with open days
  • people really like laser cutters!

See current UK Hackspaces at:

kinect v2

Mike Taulty @mtaulty

  • v2 is £159 (cheaper than v1 at £199!)
  • HD video
  • infrared
  • depth sensor
  • can track up to 6 bodies (25 skeletal joints)
  • tracks depth from 0.5m to about 8m
  • infrared & depth is much lower res: 512 x 424 pixels
  • body index separates pixels of different bodies
    • lets you do green screen really easily
  • MS’s SDK is Windows only (doesn’t work with Windows VMs since it needs USB 3 & DirectX 11)
  • but libfreenect2 is an alternative open source driver for Mac/Linux

mobile network in a field

Sam Machin @sammachin and Kevin Prince @kevinprince at EMF Camp 2014

  • EMF Camp was c.1200 people
  • runs every two years
  • “a very british burning man” or “glastonbury for nerds”
  • aiming for phone calls but not data
    • mainly because of there was already fast wifi
  • just three base stations, so could simply architecture a fair bit…
  • using OpenBTS, Asterisk + Twilio & Heroku
  • Asterisk server sat in the on-site hosting centre
    • a refrigerated shipping container with servers on pallets
  • recreated phone supply chain by using Amazon & a tent
    • bought some Amazon burner phones on 30 day return…
  • SIMs were the hardest things to sort
    • wanted to play nicely with other networks
    • didn’t want people on real networks to connect to camp network
    • SIMs are pretty expensive: 50p to £1 each
    • hard to order in low quantities
  • bought OpenBTS boxes from RangeNetworks
    • startup in SF
    • mostly selling to small Pacific islands
    • massively cheaper than normal kit (c.$5K)
    • also put one in a search & rescue helicopter in Iceland
    • connects to someone’s phone as it flies over
    • locates to area of a football field
    • allows helicopter to call phone!
  • need spectrum to run in the UK…
    • O2 had some they had forgotten about ;-)
    • concurrent spectrum license: shared by 15 companies
    • better in other countries:
      • Netherlands: just need landowner permission
      • Germany: just need 30 days notice
      • Burning Man: use DARPA military spectrum not in use in the middle of the Nevada desert
  • antennas make a big difference
    • need a proper site survey
  • EMF Camp provide about 40 routers around the site
    • set up in locked portaloos! Datenklos (term from CCC)
  • created everybody’s accounts ahead of time
    • needed to map phone numbers to IMSIs
    • got people to type in last 4 digits of SIM
  • set up voicemail using twilio to record and forward via email
  • SMSs are harder if you need to store & forward
  • dealt with inbound calls by having a single central public number
    • call it and then dial 5 digit account number
  • added outgoing calls as well (via Twilio)
    • limited to c.3 minutes
    • but even so fairly cheap
  • also set up a few group rooms to see if people used them
  • stats:
    • ~200 SIMs handed out
    • ~100 attached users at any time
    • close to 100% coverage
    • about 1800 minutes of twilio
  • ideas for next time:
    • phone boxes
    • POTS to tent: turn up and plug in a BT phone!

managing CSS

Ben Scott @BPScott

  • people keep on writing new CSS
  • not obvious how and where things are used
  • no confidence in what you can change and if it will break anything
  • build smaller isolated things
    • single responsibilities


  • components
    • domain-specific objects
    • text next to image in a particular way
  • macro layout
    • grid system
    • layout of components within a page
  • theming
    • colouring of components

resulting composition

  • this thing, here on the page, in this colour
  • mobile first & extend from core functionality
    • much easier to reason about adding in CSS
    • harder to take things out
  • use additional classes to toggle additional behaviour
  • Brad Frost: atomic design
    • pages are accidents — what happens when you put components in a particular order
  • create a styleguide page
    • component, layout variations
    • automatically generated from HTML partials in application
    • HTML partials are essentially custom tags


  • avoid using IDs in CSS selectors
  • try to keep selectors to max 3 levels
  • naming convention: BEM
    • double underscore = within
    • double hyphen = modifier

problems & breaking up

  • mobile first, but oldIE needs to be desktop first as it doesn’t understand media queries
  • could use respond.js but takes a lot longer to load
  • created Breakup
    • SASS/Compass plugin
    • generates different CSS files from the same SASS input
    • according to directives in top-level
    • lets you avoid wrapping specific elements in media queries

real life brain training


  • split activity into different frequency bands = EEG
  • delta < 4 KHz
    • babies have this all the time
  • theta 4 - 7 KHz
  • alpha 7 - 14 KHz
  • beta 15 - 30 KHz
    • focused
  • gamma 30 - 100 KHz
    • complex active stuff
  • other stuff:
    • Mu (8 - 12 KHz)
    • SMR (13 - 15 KHz)
  • neurofeedback
    • constant feedback, close to realtime (~200ms)
    • useful to use more than one sense to enable different people to relate to it better
  • current system has five measurement points
  • Chief Science Office is Leslie Sherlin


  • focus:
    • augment low beta
    • inhibit theta & alpha
  • can train stress response too
  • sports consistency
  • exam preparation


  • QA engineer was overusing focus training
  • had problems sleeping…

uses (not scientifically proven)

  • worked with Felix Baumgartner
  • tennis players
  • reported to alleviate long term ADHD…
  • improved sleep patterns amongst developers…

available systems

  • medical
    • existing $10K for bare minimum
    • require expensive software, only run on Windows XP
  • kickstarter systems
    • cool, but not much neuroscientist input
    • not so accurate or useful
  • versus
    • looks like headphones
    • rebaseline every time you put it on
    • connects over bluetooth to iPad
    • uses dry spikes sensors that contact scalp
    • first consumer product $750, aiming for $500

toys & gadgets

  • thalmic myo
    • bluetooth armband picking up arm and hand actions
  • oculus rift
  • NFC ring
    • lower range than usual
    • internal and external tags (private & public?)
  • Google Glass
  • estimote beacons
    • use at least three to get indoor location fixes
    • google have set up mountain view…
  • chromecast
    • don’t bother with a digital picture frame — just get a cheap TV and one of these
    • great for broadcasting any media around the house
  • almond+ touchscreen router & home security
  • 3D printer
    • check out 3d printer subreddit
    • solidoodle
    • arduino will be launching one v. soon
  • MIOPS camera trigger
    • plugs in to flash hotshoe
    • light sensor
    • laser sensor

scaling agile

Matt Walton, Head of Product @ FutureLearn @matt_walton


  • have documented a lot of their processes
  • think it, build it, ship it, tweak it
  • now about 2000 people
  • squads consist of engineers, designers & agile coaches
  • autonomous teams with long running missions
  • spotify engineering culture
  • “agile at scale requires trust at scale”


  • lots of information radiators
  • product roadmap split into team “swimlanes”
  • have a scrum of scrums


  • similar teams
  • each team needs:
    • product management
    • design lead
    • tech lead
  • how to organise a roadmap
    • KIPs broken into themes
    • time box themes
    • agree measurements
    • form autonomous team
  • lean analytics (book)
    • ratio or rate, not a total number
  • business focussed aims:
    • if … then … because
    • based on lean analytics experiments
  • two backlogs: separate “hygiene”
    • then add 70% valid features, 30% bugs, tech support to each iteration


  • product strategy themed by vision areas
  • each sprint split by % of work for BAU, products, etc
  • standups and retrospectives still whole team to encourage community
  • though work done in smaller project teams


  • share vision, mission & values
  • give autonomy and create community
  • rhythm & reflection

MomoLondon: Demo Night 2014

Amazingly enough this demo night finished on time and even a little bit early. Thanks to Julia Shalet for keeping things running smoothly on the night and Jo Rabin too for the varied selection of demos — lots of great ideas.

Pictures and more commentary on the Mobile Monday Blog.

5 Tiles

Android keyboard app

Previous demo night success

  • Christian Lindholm now an advisor & investor
  • available on Android Wear (Samsung Gear)
  • soon available on iOS


Benjamin Bourdin,

  • realtime video sharing
  • get any IP feed, apply title, edit
  • save & share using twitter, facebook, ooyala, brightcove etc
  • monetize through in-stream ads
  • initial customers are broadcasters
  • done deals with ITV & Sky Sports
  • also did wimbledon & big brother
  • also have a consumer platform: if a broadcaster wants to get people involved in sharing content

Good Food Talks

Matt Wadsworth,

  • web app to let visually impaired people read restaurant menus
  • a very few menus offer braille but only 1% of visually impaired people can read braille
  • surveyed 5000 people — main complaint was difficult navigation
  • web app has simple navigation
    • search/near me > restaurant name > menu
  • free for users
  • various ways of getting data in
    • restaurants pay for input
    • API ingest, full service, etc
  • commercial for just over a year
  • 400 venues
  • biggest so far is Carluccio’s, then Pret


Chris Michael, CEO,

  • additional mobile numbers on your phone
  • just closing alpha tester list
  • free credits to alpha testers
  • only service that allows you to have multiple UK mobile numbers on your phone
  • aiming for worldwide too


Ian Masters & Albert Marshall,

  • mobile quiz games
  • opt-in adverts for rewards
  • all four versions are available on iOS, Google & Amazon
    • movies, pop, world football, video games
  • targeting around existing passions
  • also want to target venues with seats


Martin Sandstrom & Mark Lee,

  • split your bill when you live in a house share
  • direct connection to various providers
    • energy, TV, phone, etc
  • push notifications to other housemates
  • settle bill with paypal (peer to peer is free)
  • no business model at moment
    • aiming for future paid features
  • aiming to attract lots of users first…
  • app available for iOS and Android


Douglas Robb,

  • location-enabled augmented reality
  • Android & iOS apps, CMS for template-based content
  • content discovery & engagement
  • can control timing of content as well
  • also support image-recognition-based AR
  • first commercial partner is Jockey Club
  • prototype app for Sandown Race Course
  • involving novice race-goers in the racing
  • planning to roll out to other Jockey Club venues


James Roy Poulter,

  • food to wherever you are
  • don’t need an address
  • only get a choice of four options (different each day)
  • authenticate through nexmo API by voice call
  • credit card payments only
  • launched 100 days ago in Trento, Italy
  • initially iOS only, then Android, + Windows coming next week
  • launching next week in London (now available in the City)
  • won an accelerator in Italy
  • worked with restaurants in Italy, but difficult for food in 10 minutes
  • aiming to get own centralized kitchen as margins are incredible
  • also get drivers — performance based pay
  • but made easier with centralized kitchen with limited delivery range


Frederick Tubiermont,

  • create mobile web apps on mobile for mobile
  • can now create apps on desktop too
  • web apps are square shaped
  • magic touch swipe to choose link destination
    • includes email, telephone
  • can embed videos, twitter feeds, etc
  • can embed adsy apps in web pages or just view on mobile
  • use case:
    • kids & teens making a web app about a concert during a concert
    • then sharing the evolving content
  • meant to create snackable content
  • will announce a product based on the platform in 2-3 weeks


Matthew Bridge,

  • business critical messages to smart watches
  • useful feature: view on device — opens up more detail on the phone through quick selection on watch
  • driven from enterprise resource planning
  • staff can subscribe to specific notifications


Mark Hill and Damon Hart-Davis,

  • 60% of your energy and 20% of UK emissions flow through TRVs
  • 50% of that energy is wasted
  • one thermostat usually controls whole house
  • target price £10 per radiator: save £300 in the first year
  • production samples coming mid-November
  • hotels losing £50 per room per year on heating bills

Thursday 15 May 2014

Kidcrafters – a day of talks by parents for parents

This weekend I went to a different kind of conference — not a technology one, but a parenting one (though with some technology involved!).

The conference was Kidcrafters — a day of talks by parents for parents, held at the Royal Institution in London (the same place as the Christmas Lectures).

The whole conference was videoed and is available on YouTube here, but here’s my notes and impressions in the hope that someone finds them useful.

The first speaker ran an exercise that reminded me of a quote from Francis Bacon:

Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider. Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention

The conference felt like a day to weigh and consider — lots of different viewpoints, some contradictory, some provoking, mostly inspiring and all worthy of attention.

For the whole thing to have been organised from scratch in a couple of months is little short of astounding… Congratulations and many thanks to Nick Corston and his team of incredible hard-working volunteers.

Raising Braves: Education for a tricky world

Professor Guy Claxton, Centre for Real-World Learning at the University of Winchester

  • thinking on your feet - flounder intelligently
  • important both for university & google interviews…
  • how to prepare for this?
  • learn how to flourish when in difficulty
  • John Holt: love learning so well, that they will be able to learn whatever comes up
  • Jean Piaget: intelligence = knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do
  • one of the best ways to happiness: being engaged productively with something challenging and making progress with it
    • being in flow
  • - short presentations on how people found what was interesting for them
  • being venturesome: being willing to try something that you’ll be crap at for a while
  • when you talk to your 4 year old, do you encourage her skepticism? her inquisitiveness?
  • education is everything that we do to help our children to become happiness prone adults
  • school is a cultural norm that is a particular expression of that (and may have been twisted)
  • praise children for their talent, not for their results
  • don’t over-rescue children, especially girls
    • let them struggle and deal with frustration & confusion
  • allow them to be bored — boredom is the engine of imagination
  • have a wonder wall: peppered with their questions and your questions
  • rediscover the conversation about going back to the basics of education

Designing a school around questions and more questions

A question-led curriculum

Paul Phillips, Principal Designate Gladstone School

  • setting up a new school
  • how long is a lesson?
    • aiming to have one lesson a day - or maybe one lesson a week
  • “finishing-off homework” is never worth it
    • the children who’ll end up doing the work by themselves are those that most need help
  • each half term will take a big philosophical question and aim to get the children to ask it
  • aiming to use London as a base: get the children to go out into London and bring London into the school
  • “hinge questions” — getting to the point

Design thinking for new learning

Graham Brown-Martin, Ed Labs @GrahamBM

  • industrial revolution: took crafts and scaled them to mass-production
  • got rid of craftsmen and replaced with factory workers
  • industrialisation of education having same effect
  • if you designed a classroom, would it be a room?
  • lots of lenses through which to consider schools

Why I home educated my son for two years

Sarah Eaton @llamacroft

  • we treat children differently from adults
  • adults have options and support
  • took son out of school when he got seriously bullied
    • took about six months to get him to feel better
  • radical unschooling
    • total freedom in whatever he wanted to do
  • Alfie Cohn: Unconditional Parenting
  • he made a web site when he was 8
  • eventually he wanted to go back to school
  • children are more important than the system itself

A digital native’s view of games and gadgets

Dan Tomlinson @dantoml

  • aged 17
  • writes for the Observer
  • was bullied for about 9 years at school
  • found a great set of friends through the internet at aged 8 or 9
  • discovered programming properly about a year after the bullying started
  • we’re undergoing a fundamental shift in the way we interact with the world
  • minecraft gives children a level of freedom and creativity that they don’t get anywhere else

Minecraft – creative or crack?

Simon De Deny, Dad

  • has shameful memories of playing games all night when younger
    • Ed.: why shameful…?
  • so when had kids and said they wouldn’t have a console
  • then neighbours got a playstation with an EyeToy
  • they enjoyed the physical games, but other games came along with it
  • watched with horror as 6 yo got bored with physical games and really into the non-physical games (Sonic, etc)
  • tried one out himself and got a similar adrenaline hit as taking drugs
  • and this was for a six year old…
  • so got rid of the playstation…
  • much later, son now has an xbox
  • now playing minecraft
  • younger son, 10, also joining in
  • felt more relaxed
  • less of an adrenaline hit
  • engaging socially, creating, problem-solving
  • mods - going beyond the game
  • would like to ask the games industry for “other things” that are more like minecraft
  • creative & problem solving rather than just running around shooting things

Teach your kids to code not just consume games

Stef Lewandowski, Makeshift @stef

  • give them a laptop and let them break it…
  • have a hackable computer
  • use the recycling box as construction kit
  • Eden: low-scale of minecraft for younger kids
  • robots: e.g.
  • start with making web sites first, before coding…?
    • use as a creative & sharing exercise
  • in Scratch look at drawing with the pen while following the mouse

Should you manage your screen time?

I was looking forward to this part of the day, but the presentations didn’t really get into the issue at hand.

The first presenter, who didn’t set limits to screen time at all, seemed to have children who didn’t get zoned out by the screen — and he himself hated computer games…

The second presenter had children under 5 who weren’t getting any social pressure to play on the computer and were probably too young to do so anyway.

Matthew Karas — no limits

  • daughter likes bikes & guitar
  • son’s favourite activity is writing books with pencil
  • they will jump off the computer if given an offer to go and play in the park
  • personally hate computer games
  • information overload is everywhere: even in a forest
  • “taking children seriously foundation”

Kate Jangra — no screen time at all

  • home educate two boys, one four, one two
  • personally believe that children under five don’t need computing
  • need to learn about moving, mud, etc — the real world — before understanding the virtual world
  • played first ever game (sonic the hedgehog) when 17 and didn’t do anything until finished
  • instant gratification isn’t great for development
  • sets up unrealistic expectations
  • indoor vs outdoor debate
  • children need to fall in love with our world first
  • ration yourself too — children are mimics

My situation — where’s the edge?

I have two boys: a four year-old and an eleven year-old — both of whom are like me and can really focus on what they’re doing, but lose the sense of their body when do so. This could be on a movie, a game or even a book (for the older one — the younger one’s not reading yet…)

I work with computers for a living. I really enjoy the creativity and sense of possibilities computers provide, but I also know that I can get lost and lose whole evenings to trawling around on wikipedia…

Through experimenting with different amounts of time on the computer, we have found that our older boy finds it harder to stop and feels more anger when he plays for much longer than an hour at a time. The issue seems to be how separated he becomes from how he’s actually feeling — it doesn’t seem to matter if the game is a high adrenaline adventure or being creative in Minecraft.

What does make a difference is relating to another person or being physically active while he’s playing. We have a Xbox Kinect and he is much more able to talk about stopping and doing something else if he has been jumping around the room while playing. Similarly, if I have been playing the game with him — and actually talking to him while doing so, rather than us playing separately in the same game — then it’s much easier for him to relate to me about non-game activities.

Has anyone else had a similar experience? I know my son is quite frustrated that we limit his time on the computer so much compared to some of his friends, but we haven’t found an alternative that works better for us.

Screentime – a healthy diet?

Dr Omer Moghraby Child Psychiatrist @moghraby

  • very little research on causality
  • sleep is very important
  • different ages need specific amounts
  • more at younger ages
  • sleep latency is also really important — how quickly you get to sleep
  • increased amount of screen time has an effect on sleep latency
  • increased console use does not link to obesity
  • violence leading to action — mostly debunked, but needs to be contextualized
  • what about kids developmental level?
  • arguments and fights around screen time may cause more problems than the screen time itself…


  • video game writer:
    • not much research on active screen usage
    • active engagement is better than passive engagement
    • Kate has a list of articles will make available later
  • dominic — code club & code club pro trainer:
    • Tom: how did you stop bully following you online?
    • Answer: easier to filter out online
    • still hurts, but can skip past it
  • parent & doctor:
    • perhaps a gender difference in bullying getting into personal space
    • have to give girls extra support
    • skeletal development & bone health is important
    • already a vitamin D deficiency in the population — children need to get outside in the summer
    • Omer: supervision & balance
    • not much evidence that this generation are that much different
    • Matthew: children have never declined going to the park…
    • it will always get them off the computer
    • Simon: been using geocaching with 10yo as a fun outdoor activity
  • active & passive screen:
    • concerned about losing non-digital creativity
    • children always drawn to screens
    • digital as constrained… (really?)
    • vs constraints being good
    • vs digital not always screens

Understanding and inspiring creativity in kids

Steve Vranakis Google’s Creative Director for the UK @stevevran

  • grew up in Vancouver, Canada
  • spent most of his time outside
  • immigrant parents: wanted him to be a doctor or something else professional, but he was good at drawing
  • lives in Brighton
  • have a 6 yo & 3 yo + another on the way
  • “65% of today’s primary chidren will end up at jobs that haven’t been invented yet”
  • works for Google Creative Lab
  • Science Museum: Web Lab
    • sketchbots - takes a picture of you, then draws it, and shares the video of it drawing you on youtube
    • universal orchestra - playing instruments with people around the world
    • data tracer
    • teleporters - live 360 degree video & audio feed from somewhere, including inside a shark tank…
  • world’s biggest band over the internet
  • Jam with Chrome
    • choose an instrument
    • could invite up to three other people to join you
  • his group launches everything with a video
  • DevArt
    • coding as a new creative discipline
    • three artists curated
    • competition to have fourth person
    • devart young creators: schools invited to visit before public opening in morning
    • get talks & interaction from artists
  • google science fair
    • what you love
    • what you’re good at
    • what you want to change

Imagination is Priceless

Tom Morley, Eco Toy Box & Instant Teamwork

  • here to represent the godparents, mad uncles and artistic aunties
  • adolescence can fail
  • make sure you stay creative
  • the world’s most popular toy is a stick, the second most popular toy is a cardboard box
  • eco toy box has pictures to make cardboard boxes come alive
  • doors, windows, castles, speakers, masks, portholes
  • stick them on boxes to give your imagination a boost
  • black tie, white lie
    • meet on waterloo bridge and pretend we’ve been up all night
    • a way of getting permission and having fun with our children
  • be as creative, as mad, as flamboyant as you can
  • Tom runs drumming & singing sessions in schools
    • link up with a school in Africa to sing the same song

How a community can inspire kids with creativity

Nick Corston, STEAM Dad

  • little house of fairy tales at camp bestival
    • the science of music
  • watch caine’s arcade
  • offer lots of activities
  • children choose what they want to do
  • most popular prize in school auction:
    • 10 yo son offered to run a stop-motion animation workshop for a family
  • Ford contributed half a Goblin electric car kit
  • S.S. Great Britain in Bristol
    • Brunel should be on the curriculum!
  • community, collaboration, co-creation
  • announcing STEAM Co.
  • want other schools to get involved
  • one school thinking of converting the whole top floor of school into a STEAM attic

The value of drawing with your children

Tony De Saulles, Illustrator of Horrible Science

  • creativity at home is an investment in our children’s futures
  • was only boy in 6th form doing art
  • children all over the world laugh at the same things
    • especially poo and wee…
  • How to Draw Horrible Science
  • workshops: get the children to copy me
  • follow simple instructions
  • there’s no right or wrong
  • copying is a good thing
  • drawing with 150 children: they all drew the same thing but all were different

Getting kids making things and doing stuff

Amy Solder, funding creative things at NESTA

  • Mark Hatch: The Maker Movement Manifesto
  • Look out for Fab Lab / Hackspace / Maker Space
  • Make: magazine — mainly for adults, some kids projects too
  • Make Things Do Stuff: projects for kids
    • written by kids for kids
  • printcraft — minecraft server with 3D printing
  • little bits: magnetic electronic circuits

Get your kids animated through animation

Gavin Molloy, Get Smart


  • getting artists/authors into schools who are focussing on literacy:
    • Authors Aloud, Speaking of Books
  • revision mind maps
    • make a mess for revising
    • draw it and label it yourself
    • sticks in your mind

Working smart time not part time

Amelia Torode

I just caught the end of this talk…

Amelia is going to be writing a book — and is looking for input on part-time working

Getting inspired by ideas, innovation & ambitino

Nico Macdonald

  • London Transport Museum Depot — in Acton, where all the things that don’t fit in the museum are stored
    • opens once a month
  • Selfridges Festival of Imagination
  • Big Bang Fair at ExCel
  • Technopop London at QE Park
  • finding out:

Bringing stories to life as experiences

Valerie Coward

  • inspired by Philip Pullman’s Grimm Tales for Young and Old
  • Grimm Tales for young and old at Shoreditch Town Hall basement
  • first 6 week season just finished in April
  • did storytelling as parents tell children
  • were originally concerned that younger children would find stories scary
  • but they didn’t mind — as long as the baddies got dealt with in the end, they were happy
  • actors played multiple parts
  • clearness about the story: the characters can be fluid
  • at the end of the guided session, they let the audience wander through the set
  • coming back in bigger venue in November with new stories

Wednesday 14 May 2014

MomoLondon: Cloud Computing & Mobile

A new venue tonight — up on the 9th floor of Google’s Central St Giles office. They even provided good food for the hungry mobile mondayers…

The evening’s focus was on Cloud Computing and Mobile, and the questions seemed to focus mainly on the cloud with not much discussion about how it related to mobile. The chair, Camille, kept the discussion moving along briskly, but we didn’t really get into any depth on any of the subjects. Maybe the audience could smell the food!

The panel

  • Chair: Camille Mendler @cmendler
    • Principal Analyst at Informa
  • Rob Easton @Cloud_Easton
    • Head of Google Cloud Platform UK & Ireland
    • Eurovision app used App Engine for back-end
  • Dr Janko Mrsic-Flogel
    • CEO of Private Planet — personal cloud
    • 7 out of 10 carriers are providing a personal cloud solution
  • Caroline Van Den Bergh @GoldenGekko
    • Golden Gekko mobile agency
    • 85% of apps we build are based on Google App Engine
  • Jonathan Raper @MadProf

outages & availability

  • JR: best service providers are those that communicate well when things go wrong
    • one provider went down and didn’t tell us anything for an hour

looking forward

  • RE: google datacentres include a new one in Taiwan at 15 hectares
    • green computing
    • Google can provide very low latency
    • enables reaching out to new business areas such as the film industry
  • JR: still talking quite aggregated performance measures
    • can’t ask for X many transactions for Y pounds
    • not that detailed
    • next step may be platform products
  • CVDB: mobile enterprise software saving two days a week
    • managing remote teams
  • JR: sometimes blame is shifted between telcos & cloud
    • would like to have better tracing
  • JMF: Private Planet have a totally green datacentre in Telecity in Holland for T-Mobile

internet of things

  • JR: the problem is trading information
    • automatically discovering different feeds & blending them
    • spend 3 weeks integrating code and 3 months arguing over terms & conditions
  • CVDB: best successes have been smaller ones
  • CM: find my yak in nepal
    • the yak’s don’t talk back — so there’s no privacy issues!
  • RE: getting electricity usage feeds every 10 minutes
  • CVDB: there has been scaremongering around Google capturing data
  • JR: all our data is royalty-free downstream
    • makes it much easier to deal with
  • CM: Copenhagen have bike devices to share traffic information
    • provide individual exercise info
    • but also shared with municipality
  • JR: Waze has lots of complicated terms & conditions
    • data is available but locked up

the next generation

  • CM: has been proved conclusively that 3D gaming improves your cognitive ability
  • JR: …minecraft
  • JR: it’s still a bit like early 2000 — mobile operator walled gardens
    • want to take down the barriers and bring the data silos together
  • CVDB: working with Saga
    • older people have more time, want to delve deeper
    • tablets more popular than mobile phones

data scientists

  • CM: shouldn’t we moving towards everyone manipulating their own data
  • JR: digital literacy is very shallow, especially in highest decision-making tiers

security issue — data protection

  • safe harbour in tatters
  • can’t use the cloud at all if we have any secure data
  • JMF: Private Planet always has data centre in the specific country
    • but are governments the biggest problem? what about the corporates?
  • JR: if you need to do it, in-country encrypted solutions are available
  • RE: sure, there are some workloads that Google can’t take on
    • e.g. we won’t let you audit our data centre
    • so can’t work under FCA regulations
    • over time, some of these regulations are going to change
  • JR: all have to do as much as we can to help the government make the right decisions
  • JR: sometimes the safest place to do something is in the cloud — e.g. running Windows
    • we don’t allow it on any of our machines
    • but it’s great in the cloud!

what if cloud provider company goes bankrupt?

  • JR: escrow
  • JMF: most agreements done via a channel partner — so that partner will continue the service
    • single party relationship is much more complicated
  • RE: cloud business could be bigger than ads for Google
    • SLA penalties are often a percentage of what you pay
    • but if you pay less and less, the SLA means less and less…

is it becoming like supermarket wars?

  • RE: Google reduced prices — and if you use an instance more than 25% per month then get a discount
    • terabyte of storage is $26/month
  • CM: just like a loyalty card…
    • who will be Lidl and who will be Waitrose?

will we still be waiting in several years?

  • JR: overestimate change in the short term and underestimate in the long term — change is stepped
    • sometimes have to wait for the step change in technology or regulation
  • CVDB: business are going to grow up quickly
    • first digital generation CEOs will be around in the next few years

third party dependencies

  • JR: Apple reviews can be capricious
    • if Apple fall out of love with Dropbox, then that could cause a problem for lots of apps
  • JMF: was a huge debate on mobile medical health a while ago
    • then suddenly there was an app that just works
    • and the issues can just disappear
    • gadget-led terms and conditions…?

speed & access?

  • RE: check out server density review
    • blog by someone who reviewed lots of providers and switched to Google
  • CVDB: Golden Gekko mandate that all backends must be on Google App Engine
    • mainly so that clients can scale

new innovations in infrastructure?

  • RE: Google build our own servers
    • apparently they would be the 3rd biggest manufacturers in the world
    • they value new innovation

where is the next growth to make it easier?

  • RE: focused on the developer
  • JMF: If This Then That
    • making cloud development open to the consumer
    • certain mobile operators are understanding this and joining up devices in the home
  • CVDB: finding that doesn’t suit
    • one size doesn’t quite fit all
    • prefer google’s flexibility

inviting consumers to get more involved

  • CVDB: user testing
    • avoiding ivory tower
    • developed O2 Priority Moments
    • built packaged solutions based on it
    • incentivized behaviour also used in enterprise apps
  • JR: designed a first location bank
    • your own location storage — that you can choose to share
    • (Ed. see also fireeagle)
    • next generation have a different approach to privacy
  • RE: snapchat is a massive google customer
  • audience: teenagers using technology completely differently
    • using snapchat to have a whole conversation
  • RE: snapchat consumes more IT than any banking industry
    • JDI has 10 petabytes on Google cloud
    • consumers of IT will be well away from the enterprise
    • can have failure at a much cheaper cost — can learn more

what financial services are possible in the cloud?

  • RE: restricted by FCA regulations, but other options possible
    • e.g. datasift to search across twitter
    • big challenge to attract IT talent in financial services as there are so many restrictions


  • JR: right now it’s hard to hire — ruby on rails developers are hard to find
    • constraint on development right now
  • CVDB: couldn’t agree more — mobile skills are in short supply

tools for analytics & loyalty/crm

  • looking at how data can be analysed
  • wanting to drive revenue per user
  • wanting to get the right tools in place to complete the feedback loop
  • CVDB: iris solutions company
  • JR: “build it in the cloud, but just don’t tell IT”
  • RE: tableau, BIME, etc. working on top of Google Big Query
    • now a lot cheaper

After the panel discussion

As often happens with Mobile Monday, the discussion after the panel was richer than the panel itself. Some discussion points that came up when I was talking to people afterwards included:

  • How do you balance keeping data on the device and in the cloud, to deal with intermittent network availability?
  • Will the banks get clobbered by more agile personal finance companies that don’t have to worry about so many regulations?
  • Why has it taken Google since 2008 to move from basic App Engine web apps to a full cloud platform?
  • How will Google make more money from Cloud Computing than from Ads? There’s a big market, but the price is dropping…
  • …and on a completely different note, several people were interested in setting up Code Clubs in their local primary schools, but were stretched for time — perhaps they could work together and contribute part-time?