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Weekly Developers Hangout #2 : remote? working?

Yep, it’s not Scottish, and it’s the second one – I 1-indexed that one, boosh.

A few technical problems – turns out microphones and headphones don’t work unless they’re turned on and enabled, and webcams don’t work if you don’t have one.

So, the chat? Can you work on island whilst the rest of your team are on another island? Webcams will see to most of that, but even on a beautiful island like Mull, don’t expect people to flock from all over the world to you office, just to hack some PHP. Make use of the tools at your disposal.

As some of you may know, I started a monthly technical forum at work, broadcast out from head office to 3 remote sites and whatever client sites people want to dial in from. We make heavy use of slides and low-motion visuals to save bandwidth, and try and keep things accessible to people only on the phone. It’s a big team, and a big effort, but after a year of meetings, it’s really paying off, management are backing it, and it’s a good place for staff to talk and learn. Getting the images and sounds to the remote office isn’t the tricky part (although it’s harder than it should be), the trick is to keep the remote participants engaged. Give them feedback channels in advance of the event so they can get their questions answered. Provide videos afterwards for people to watch at their leisure. And at every opportunity, remind them that their voice should be heard. If an online conversation is swamped by one site, what’s the point of having it online?

If you’re coming along next week, noon at My Google+ Profile (invites : ) keep an eye on the news for something you want to discuss, or throw a link to a book, a gadget or a toolkit you want to discuss below.

Until next week peeps.


Weekly (Scottish?) Developers Google+ Hangout?

I had an idea for running a book club for Google+ Hangouts, but after David Christiansen turned up, it became a more interesting catch-up, covering HP selling off WebOS, and discussing zaproxy ( ) penetration testing tool and JIRA agile project management tool ( ).

Some good chat, but we were wondering if other Scottish Developers would be interested in a weekly Friday lunchtime hangout to shoot the breeze on the tech stories, tools and blogs of the week.

If you’re not on Google+ and need an invite, give me a shout and I’ll email one back to you, or click here for an invite : . If you are interested and on Google+ come and find me at and jump on in next time. Web cams and mic optional (if you’re a fast typist), but you will need speakers to listen in.

If there’s more good info, I might even start a weekly blog on it, but we’ll see how much interest there is.

What do the rest of you think?


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Innovation vs Quicksand

Anyone following me on Google+, Facebook or Twitter may have seen me posting quite a lot about the many Intellectual Property cases currently strangling the mobile computing market. A lot of them involve Apple, but it’s not an attack on them. They just happen to be in the dominant mobile position now that Microsoft was in 10 years ago on the desktop, and so they’ve got the most to lose.

Last decade, the stories were of Microsoft using Windows to cripple competing office suites and promote its own, and the big move to unify the desktop, server and mobile Windows experience with XP and .net, and giving us IE6 and anti-trust cases. Now, we have Apple unifying desktop and mobile, and pushing others away with policies on in-app purchases and legal battles blocking competition in the marketplace.

I like competition. Competition makes phones faster, batteries last longer, and keeps everyone on their toes. Without it, innovation stagnates.

I am not a lawyer, so I don’t understand why a sketch that looks like a sat nav can be used by Apple to stop tablets from competitors being sold. It’s not like the Chinese rip-off that fooled even the employees at the fake Apple stores.

There is something rotten in the world of technology. It’s about patents, copyright and other protection, but whereas it works for Dyson, to protect his cyclone, whilst allowing competition from other bagless systems, the same protections are smothering the computing and smartphone market, distracting all companies into defending themselves against others, instead of differentiation through innovation. I don’t to work in an industry that’s moving through quicksand, dragging platforms, tools and devices back. We’re already held back enough trying to build for incompatible browsers without having to rewrite for new platforms just because the ui of one has protected interactions (think touch screen versions of Amazon’s pervasive One-Click patent). Higher costs for developers, higher costs and frustration for end users and the vendors fighting amongst themselves won’t benefit, ripping chunks out of each other and alienating the rest of us.

Samson needs to come and cut some crown jewels in half.