As ready as I’m going to be

Tomorrow is the first day in my new role at the Mozilla Foundation, and I’m getting the new job nerves and excitement now. Between wrapping up at WWF, preparing for Christmas, house hunting, and finishing off my next study assignment (a screenplay involving time-travel and a bus), I’ve been squeezing in a little bit of prep for the new job too. This post is basically a note about some of the things I’ve been looking at in the last couple of weeks. I thought it would be useful to jump through various bits of tech used in a number of MoFo projects, some of which I’d been wanting to play with anyway. This is not deep learning by any means, but it’s enough hands-on experience to speed up some things in the future. I setup a little node.js app locally … Continue reading »

Panda Swap: New year, new job.

After almost five years working for the black and white panda, I’ll be moving to the red panda in the new year. Well, kind of… and that’s close enough to the truth to justify the cute pictures in this blog post. As of January, I’ll be working for the Mozilla Foundation as their new Metrics Lead, which is about the most exciting job I could possibly dream up. I owe the web pretty much everything, so the chance give something back and push something forward is both an honor and a privilege. Mozilla work in the open, which means this blog will hook up a bit more directly with my day-to-day work in the future and I’ll be able to share some of the successes and challenges I face with you here on a more regular basis. In other news, … Continue reading »

My First #Mozfest

I have an hour free this morning, so wanted to quickly write up my thoughts on Mozfest before my memory fades too much. This will be a rough, but f*** it, ship it as they say at Mozfest. I bought a Mozfest ticket in July with next to no expectations and just a little hope that meeting some new people might trigger some new ideas. It’s fair to say that this was a massive under-prediction on my part. A couple of months later, with about a month to go until Mozfest, my boss (@ade) mentioned some sessions that might be interesting for WWF and my work in fundraising. A couple of introductory emails and a Skype call later and I’d put my name down for a yet-to-be-confirmed session called ‘Pass the App’. We were going to use a new tool … Continue reading »

Evening coding

With lots of interesting client work on at the moment, I’ve decided to spend some evening time moving along the next version of Done by When. This is nothing too stressful, but the project is getting really interesting now. I think I’m over the initial conceptual learning curve and now I’m making proper progress. Where the launch version of Done by When was primarily a working proof of concept, this next version is about attention to detail and responsiveness (that’s the speed of interactions as opposed to the adaptive layout stuff that’s already in place). I feel like I’m properly upgrading something when I’m spending as much time removing code as I am writing it new. More updates soon.

For a free and open internet, be quick

“On December 3rd, the world’s governments will meet to update a key treaty of a UN agency called the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Some governments are proposing to extend ITU authority to Internet governance in ways that could threaten Internet openness and innovation, increase access costs, and erode human rights online.” – src: protectinternetfreedom.net Here are a couple of places you can show your support for a free and open web right away: http://www.protectinternetfreedom.net https://www.google.com/intl/en/takeaction If you have a bit more time, you can get creative with Mozilla’s Webmaker kit https://webmaker.org/en-US/ITU/kit/ You can see who is speaking on your behalf here: http://files.wcitleaks.org/public/S12-WCIT12-ADM-0004!!PDF-E_18Nov.pdf And this article sums up the transparency issues: https://www.cdt.org/blogs/cynthia-wong/1607…

The best online page turning book/magazine

I’ve seen a lot a shiny, fancy and useless online page turner book things, and typically hate them for their reliance on flash, the difficulty of reading them and the fact that we’re combining the worst of digital and non-digital technologies mainly to impress the people responsible for publishing the content rather than the people who are meant to read it. This one was great though: http://opim.wharton.upenn.edu/~ulrich/designbook.html The key difference being the link on the left: “Download the MOBI file directly”. I can flick through the book as I would at a shop, get a feel for the content, and then if it’s worth it, email the file straight to my Kindle for a proper reading experience. That’s more like it now.

Specific thoughts on the @Coursera experience

First, I’d like to say a massive thank you. I really value the chance to study this excellent material at zero financial cost, and more importantly I love the opportunity you provide to people all around the world who don’t have the finances or the circumstances to otherwise consider such an education. I also know what it’s like to maintain and develop a complex online system while supporting active users, so this feedback is by no means an accusation of negligence. You will have thought about much of this already I’m sure, and if it’s already on a project roadmap somewhere then please excuse me. In short, this is not a letter from a grumpy customer; I just thought it may be useful to hear some specific feedback and ideas that could help with the online experience: When viewing and submitting … Continue reading »

On my next pet project and @Coursera

My most recent ‘pet project’, Done by When, grew up today. It’s 3 months to the day since I announced a vague plan to test out an idea that had been floating around my head, and now it’s out of beta, taking payments and I’ve just notice our Mandrill email reputation has crept up to ‘Excellent’. Woohoo. I’m delighted with where it’s going and all the helpful (positive and negative) feedback I’ve had from the first brave group of testers. I’ve added some screenshots to my portfolio on Behance, but the interface has progressed even further since then. Now that Done by When has a “business model” and all that, it will be given a serious amount of time and attention going forwards. But importantly, as it has an active user base I won’t be using it as a playground … Continue reading »

On learning Python, and a style guide

As I continue to learn and work with Python as a programming language, I’m liking it more and more. I feel my code tightening up, and I’m beginning to see why the Python community are so loyal to the vague but useful idea of Pythonic code. I wish I’d seen this Python style guide a little earlier on in my learning though: http://www.python.org/dev/peps/pep-0008/ While I’m not far off with most of this, it makes me want to go back and tidy up a bit now, which never feels like the most effective use of time (though it may be in the long run). And I particularly liked the phrase “A Foolish Consistency is the Hobgoblin of Little Minds”

On 3D printing, and a world unready

With the recent release of the Makerbot Replicator 2, 3D printing tipped into the real world. It moved from a conceptual idea that geeks and tinkerers would try and explain to their doubtful loved ones into something you can have delivered to your door in a matter of working days. It changes everything, and I think the world will be caught off guard. Even now, the ~$2,000 price tag isn’t crazy. It’s more than I would pay, but plenty can afford it. And this time next year the price will halve, the resolution will double and it will print slightly bigger things. Same again the following year. In four or five years’ time, almost anyone who wants one will be able to justify the cost of a 3D printer to themselves. I always imagined playing with Lego with my son when he’s older, … Continue reading »