I’ve started cycling. Cycling is the easy bit.

Well, I’ve been cycling for years but last year I bought a new road bike and hit the tarmac.

It’s great. As I’ve been watching the tour this week and seeing the thousands of spectators, it made me think of the dangers and hostility cycling brings.

I often feel sorry for the cyclists on Le Tour as sometimes, fighting the spectators becomes a bit of a hindrance. See Christophe Riblon pushing his way through the thousands of people cheering on. It almost looks impossible to get through. I saw Riblon have to push fans out of his way from knocking him off his bike shortly before winning a punishing Stage 18 of Le Tour.

Christophe Riblon Tour Spectators

In the real world

4da4b37a841311e29a6422000a9e06c4_7It’s a similar story in the real world, but not as flattering. I was out only last week, riding on a pot hole infested road in Rotherham when a Silver Ford Focus came flying round the corner after nearly knocking a friend I was riding with off his bike then narrowly passing myself. The car threw copper coins at me as I was cycling. You can’t avoid them but the roads are a dangerous place for cyclists.

A few weeks later another car flew close past me and screamed out of the window as they got within a foot of me. Some beep their horns, some shout abuse out the window.

If it’s not abuse, it’s incompetence. Drivers coming too close or overtaking in stupid locations. I was following a car at the same speed, close behind it, and the car behind me felt the need to overtake me. He was going nowhere, ended up heard first towards an oncoming car, slammed the brakes on and fell behind. Complete idiot. He obviously thought it was my fault.

I still love the cycling, it’s mega liberating and great when you get a good rhythm going but the most dangerous part is often the idiots who drive on the roads. I love my car, but riding on the road on a bicycle opens your eyes to how scary it is when you’re riding on two skinny tyres.

Moon on a stick

Moon on a stick

I recently published an article on the new publishing platform Medium.com on how to think about your idea the other way round. Think small, start small and build upwards. It’s simple, but time and time again projects come through trying to reinvent the wheel and add 1000 features to it.

“Moon on a stick” seems to be the most popular and humans are forever wanting the next Facebook, the next Amazon.com, the next eBay. It’s an infinite loop of trying to eclipse the previous product. But startups and individuals have the upper hand when it comes to challenging the giants, you just don’t realise it yet.

Have a read over on Medium.com.

New venture, Divide.

divide-venture

So a few months ago, I was sat in my day job thinking “I wish I could do…”, “I wish this was done a certain way…” “I want to do…”.

I left Technophobia in 2012 after spending 2 years there and went to MadeByPi for a short stint as a UX designer. I’d decided that what I wanted to do was UX based. I wanted to sell these techniques I’d learnt on the front line. I wanted to meet people, network, interact, have time to do my own thing and challenge myself in a new way. Turning up at 9am and leaving at 5pm just wasn’t working for me. I’m used to pulling all nighters, actively challenging myself and working harder than the average human. I did this for a few years at Uni, and my final year was, well, mental.

So, now it’s time to do that all again! But this time I’m risking any savings I have in my bank account, and investing in starting up on my own. I created Divide. My goal for 2013 is to still be doing this in December. Making and designing websites and expanding my own business by helping others’. Whether it’s freelance with companies such as MadeByPi and Technophobia, or designing and creating with my own new clients, I hope I’m able to continue it for a long time to come.

Have a look at the new site. I’ll be updating it soon with case studies of Moonsync and TwiPho.

Experimenting with Super8

A couple of years back we found some old Super8 films at my Nans house, buried underneath years of collections and forgotten. The Super8 films were intact and in perfect condition. Hours of video locked away. And she no longer had her projector, that had died years earlier.

So we had all these locked away memories from 40 years ago, with no way of viewing them. We managed to track down a projector on eBay and settled for the Eumig Mark-501. A great little machine. After setting up the projector and getting it running smooth, I setup a video camera to film the projector. Got the room really dark, set the light on the projector to half power (too bright on full) and you get a pretty clear picture! I randomly had to adjust the focus on the lens when different film was spliced together but overall, really happy with them. Currently sifting through them in iMovie and editing them to pop onto DVD for my Nan. Looking forward to the final cut.

It feels strange watching old Super 8 video my Grandad made who died when I was only 2 years old.

I hope my Nan will enjoy seeing some of her memories brought back to life on her fancy new 40″ OLED TV. Look out for my Mum at the end holding onto my cousins coat as he feeds the ducks.

Going back to 1989

We all love TED videos but this one specifically is one of my favourites. Looking through the data.gov.uk site I rediscovered this talk from 2009 where Tim Berners-Lee revisits 1989, the birth of the WWW. Nice to revisit this one.

-webkit-scrollbar on OS X

In a recent project I noticed something peculiar happening to scrollbars in webkit browsers on the Mac and decided to investigate. Here is a problem and the solution.

Compare scrollbars

I was having an issue where a <div> had it’s overflow set to scroll. It was a twitter feed that we wanted to cut short visually but when we implemented it, we noticed on my machine the scrollbar wasn’t visible while on my colleagues, it was. Same machine, same software, same settings. Note the image on the right, you’d have no idea content had been hidden. OS X briefly flashes a scrollbar on the page but you’re unlikely to see it.
Continue reading

Microsoft’s horrible user journey

Disclaimer: I understand it’s being replaced with Skype, and praise the lord!

A lot of people wonder why I use Mac software/hardware so religiously, and it has nothing to do with following the herd and has everything to do with usability and design. While OSX might not be the pinnacle of usability (finder is horrendous), in my opinion I couldn’t manage with their Microsofts legacy method of design. It’s been something which has annoyed me for years.

I’m going to avoid explaining why I was downloading MSN messenger but the fact of the matter is I needed to for my Mac, don’t ask. Continue reading

Android experimentation #TPInnovationDay

So, one of my last hurrahs at Technophobia was #TPInnovationDay. It’s what used to be known as a “fedex” day. A day where you set off with an idea in mind, and deliver it before the end of the day. The original spirit of the day came from Atlassian, an award winning company which is bursting with ideas and great values. It seems to produce great results by letting employees loose on an idea and challenge them to the max. The spirit of fedex day is to deliver something within 24 hours. Atlassian now calls these Ship It days. Continue reading

I used to be like WordPress

Wordpress Admin Console

This article isn’t about WordPress so much, it’s about me. It seems at work WordPress is a taboo word. It’s greeted with gasps more often than not and I completely understand why. There are loads of alternatives, loads of better pieces of software and it’s riddled with a reputation of being vulnerable to attack. All of these are correct, but I still wanted to write about it to put my position on the software so if anyone confronts me, I don’t have to argue a case of why I think it’s both great, and terrible at the same time. Continue reading

Moonsync, what is it?

This is a year and a half’s worth of work.

I recently launched the main website for Moonsync and it’s gone down extremely well. Moonsync is a project me and a colleague Ian Kelly have been doing in our spare time. It started off as a general idea Ian came up with which has now developed into a full scale platform for Android devices.

Think iCloud for Android, but better. Dear Apple:

One of the main gripes I have with iCloud, being an iPhone/Mac/iPad user is its fragmentation of services. The photo galleries I’ve created on my phone using the app, can’t be viewed easily online.

  • Why aren’t they on iCloud.com?!
  • Why can’t I share photos and galleries easily from my iPhone?
  • Why does iOS6 copy that functionality of iPhoto for iOS?
  • Why can’t I send an iMessage from icloud.com?
  • Why do I have to download Messages and have a Mac? Continue reading