Mac bits that have kept me sane

For many, many years I have been a "Linux on the desktop" hardcore user - using it exclusively for all my work and productive time. When I joined Somo I was given a Macbook Pro as my one and only machine and I've warmed to OS X as a day-to-day operating system. Making the change from my beloved XFCE setup has been pretty painless. I put this down to my toolset being near identical. Sublime 2 - all things text editing and most code is done with this (still have yet to commit to upgrading to ST3). Google Chrome - »

Back to SW

At Somo we recently moved from our offices in Old Street, right next to "Silicon Roundabout" to the slightly more traditional Victoria into Portland House. Whilst my commute has basically doubled there are a few benefits to it I'm slowly warming to: instead of having just 10 minutes per leg of my journey I now get a solid 25 minutes or so on the district line to read. I've found myself blitzing through books on Kindle and enjoying it a lot more. Victoria itself has become a lot better in terms of having things around. There's a Marks and Spencer »

Studying mathematics at the Open University

Quite some time ago (in 2011) the Open University was just about to introduce their new fee arrangements. This was going to take a typical course from ~£400 to £1250. I always had a desire to return to tertiary education and on a bit of a whim decided to register for a Mathematics Degree (B31) and several years later here I am still working through it. Studying with the OU has been immensely rewarding but at the same time incredibly difficult. I put much of the difficulty down to simple time management - working full time and having a number »

Retro nerdery

At work, there's been a bit of a revival in retro computing ever since Alli bought an Amiga & C64. Youtube abounds with thousands of videos of retro speed runs, reviews and whole copies of Computer Chronicles but one of my favourite things is old magazines. I thought I'd never again see a copy of Commodore Format unless I came across them in a boot sale but amazingly the Computer Archive has every issue scanned in high resolution PDF; it's not just 'Format, ZZAP64, Commodore Force and many more are all there. They have magazines for just about any computer »

Photobrix on BBC Click

After a few months online Photobrix got a huge boost with a feature on the BBC's flagship technology programme Click; in particular the ever popular Webscape segment from Kate Russell. Maddeningly the very day before the server everything was hosted on completely crashed; I had to completely migrate the code to a new server (which for €6 less per month gets me 32Gb of RAM, 3Tb of space and an i7 3770k - from Hetzner). I ordered the new box at 15:11 and by 15:21 it was online and available. That evening I managed to get everything up »

Twitter bot with Django for marketing

So having recently put live Photobrix, we didn't want to spend a great deal of time marketting it - mainly because that takes a lot of time to really do properly. With lots of social code lying around I tied together the Photobrix CLI tool with twitter and made a simple management command in django that let me grab images or profiles and tweet back the user in question. We often got ignored and a few times Twitter banned the account when I let it rip on some search terms (Twitter doesn't like you doing a lot of directed tweets »

Beacon manager PoC

During a recent Somo hack day I was busy preparing for meetings so didn't get to dive into a particular team. Still, I didn't want to let the whole day go without doing something so being still rather backend/web focused I decided to create a little iBeacon "management" application using a combination of NodeJS for the scanner and Django for the upstream backend. Imaginge you are doing a rollout of beacons to a several stores, for some sort of promotion I imagine. Since the beacons have embedded batteries they're going to eventually die (battery life has greatly improved so »