There are times when I consider launching my own company again, most often when it is late at night and the inpetitude of so many other companies gets me too worked up. Then I sit back and think about details and write it off.
I've worked for myself in the past a couple of times, and each time it was both more fun and more difficult than expected. Getting a couple of clients is usually easy, getting a ten more is common, but getting "many" is hard and getting "lots" is something I've never done - lots of users for free sites though, along with the associated support burdon!
So the though dies away once I sit down and work out the net profit I'd need to live. My expenses are low, so let us pretend I can easily live on £1000 a month. So the "company" has to make more than that, to cover costs, but perhaps not much.
Pretend you were offering DNS hosting you'd probably be able to implement that easily on, say 10, virtual machines, net of £150 a month. Imagine clients pay £5 for an unlimited number of domains that means you need to have 1000+150/5 = 230 clients. Not impossible, but also not easy.
Pretend instead you're offering backup space, and the numbers get bigger because disk is expensive. Again getting some users would be easy, but getting lots would be hard because your competition is dropbox, skydrive, etc, etc.
Once you start thinking of "ideas" they come easily, but the hard part is being realistic about what people would pay for. As always the idea is the easy part, the execution is the hardest part. Realistically if I were to be desperate to work for myself at short notic I'd do the obvious thing - I'd buy a pair of ladders, a bucket, and clean windows. Low overheads, reasonable demand, and I'd be both "fit" and "outdoors".
When it comes to paying for online services off the top of my head I personally pay for maybe two things, both of them niche (although profitable for their providers I'm sure), and I know many people who live on the internet but pay for nothing.
For example I'm a VIP member of an online modeling community, which in theory allows me a higher chance of persuading interesting people to pose for me.
In practice the turnover on those sites is immense. Lots of cute boys and girls hear constantly "You're so pretty, you should be a model", which is true in perhaps 1% of cases, and the net result is you have a few hard working people who do good things day in day out, and many flighty teenagers who'll pose for two-three people, and then never do it again because they realise it is neither glamourous nor easy money.
Two things I've semi-serously considered recently where hosted "status pages", and hosted "domain parking", but both have many competitors and both I can see a) some people would pay for but b) not very many.
I suspect there is no universal "I'd pay for this" online service hwich is both competition free and genuinely trivial to setup, but I'd be curious to see what people are missing, and even more curious to see what people do pay for.
The Google Summer of Code is a program that allows post-secondary students aged 18 and older to earn a stipend writing code for Free and Open Source Software projects during the summer.
Debian has just been accepted as a mentoring organization for this year's program! We're looking for students and mentors to make this GSoC in Debian the best ever!
Eligible students, now is the time to take a look at our project ideas list, engage with the mentors for the projects you find interesting, and start working on your application! For more information, please read the FAQ and the Program Timeline on Google's website.
Mentors for prospective projects can still submit proposals on the project ideas list. You also need to send an email to the mailing list linked below to present your project in a few words. Feel also free to propose yourself as a co-mentor for one of the listed projects, more help is always welcome!
If you are interested, we encourage you to come and chat with us on irc (#debian-soc on irc.oftc.net), or to send an email to the SoC coordination mailing-list (subscribe). Most of the Debian-specific GSoC information can be found on our wiki pages, but don't be afraid to ask us directly on irc or via email.
We're looking forward to work with an amazing team of students and mentors again this summer!
This last weekend I was in LA at SCALE12x and gave a presentation providing a detailed update of much of the work going on as we build a convergent Ubuntu. As I have mentioned before, there is lots of other foundational pieces being built as part of this work (app insulation, SDK, click packages, developer.ubuntu.com, platform services etc), and this presentation covered where we stand today in this work.
Obviously a lot more of you couldn’t be at SCALE than couldn’t, so I have recorded the presentation to share online. You can see it below or click here to watch it. Enjoy!
I spent nearly 7 hours in the same cinema seat this weekend. The BBC and the BFI were celebrating the return of several missing episodes of Doctor Who to the archives by holding a marathon screening at the Prince Charles cinema in Leicester Square. All twelve episodes of “The Enemy of the World” and “The Web of Fear” were shown back-to-back, with only two short comfort breaks. That’s a lot of Doctor Who, even for me.
The panel after the screening was expertly moderated by Toby Hadoke. Deborah Watling and Frazer Hines were joined by Ralph Watson, who played Captain Knight in “The Web of Fear,” the role that was originally going to be played by Nicholas Courtney before he was promoted to play the Brigadier. Ralph was certainly talkative and brought some fresh stories and recollections, particular about his working relationship with Douglas Camfield. Michael Troughton was also on stage to reminisce about his father’s dual roles in “The Enemy of the World” and his visit to the London Underground set with the yetis.
I think the BBC and the BFI were using this event to see if there is sufficient interest in screenings now that the anniversary year celebrations are over. I hope they are convinced, although I would happily settle for a single six episode story rather than two! It was great to geek out with James from the Doctor Who Podcast again.
The Prince Charles cinema, which is slightly smaller than NFT1 at the BFI Southbank, is a great choice of venue for this sort of cult screening. However, the availability of cinema snacks, combined with the duration of the screening, meant there was a lot more rustling going on than at the BFI. But I can live with that if I get to see more Doctor Who on the big screen.
Debian Women will hold a MiniDebConf in Barcelona on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th of March, 2014. Everyone is invited to both talks and social events, but the speakers will all be people who identify themselves as female. This is not a conference about women in Free Software, or women in Debian, rather a usual Debian Mini-DebConf where all the speakers are women.
Registration is not mandatory, but strongly encouraged, as it helps the event's organisation and logistics. Please, register in the wiki.
We are still raising funds to cover the costs of running the conference and to offer travel sponsorship to people who can't pay for it. Please, consider donating any amount you can in our crowd-funding campaign, or contact us if you would like to become a sponsor.
The conference organisers want to thank the organisations that have already became sponsors, making this event possible, and specially our Platinum sponsor, Google; our Gold sponsors, Càtedra de Programari Lliure - Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Blue Systems and our Silver sponsors, CAtalan LInux Users, CAPSiDE and Fluendo.
For more information, visit the website of the event: http://bcn2014.mini.debconf.org
Two minor things:
A simple shell-script to submit metrics to a graphite server, extensible via local plugins, but covers the obvious metrics by default.
Metrics are submitted via simple calls to netcat.
Trivial, but much more lightweight than collectd and similar.
A perl module for converting HTML like "<p>:smile:</p>" into something graphical.
This was written for my markdown sharing site, but is pretty fun.
The konami-code page demonstrates usage.
(This parses the HTML so it won't transform attributes, ids, or anything that isn't in the "text" part of any HTML input.)
The graphite sending script is perhaps the most useful, but at the same time it feels too small to be a package of its own. I'm tempted to bundle it up into my sysadmin-util collection, but I can't quite decide if it belongs there either.
For the past few years I've hosted all my websites in a "special" way:
The webserver I chose initially was thttpd, which gained points because it was small, auditable, and simple to launch. Something like this was my recipe:#!/bin/sh exec thttpd -D -C /srv/steve.org.uk/thttpd.conf
Unfortunately thttpd suffers from a few omissions, most notably it doesn't support either "Keep-Alive", or "Compression" (i.e. gzip/deflate), so it would always be slower than I wanted.
On the plus side it was simple to use, supported CGI scripts, and served me well once I'd patched it to support X-Forwarded-For for IPv6 connections.
Recently I setup a server optimization site and was a little disappointed that the site itself scored poorly on Google's page-speed test. So I removed thttpd for that site, and replacing it with nginx. The end result was that the site scored 98/100 on Google's page-speed test. Progress. Unfortunately I couldn't do that globally because nginx doesn't support old-school plain CGI scripts.
So last night I removed both nginx and thttpd, and now every site on my box is hosted using lighttpd.
There weren't too many differences in the setup, though I had to add some rules to add caching for *.css, etc, and some of my code needed updating.
Beyond that today I've setup a dedicated docker host - which allows me to easily spin up containers. Currently I've got graphite monitoring for my random hosts, and a wordpress guest for plugin development/testing.
After Internet Explorer updates to IE11 it introduces a rather annoying bug into Outlook. Typed emails often get cut off mid sentence when you click Send ! So only part of the email gets sent !
What I think is happening is that Outlook is reverting to a previously autosaved copy before sending.
Removing the IE11 update would probably fix it but perhaps the easiest way is to disable the "Autosave unsent email" option in Outlook.
Tools, Options, E-Mail Options, Advanced E-Mail Options, and disable the "Autosave unsent" option.
I am sure that you have all seen the exciting news about the first partners to ship Ubuntu smart-phones. For those who haven’t seen it:
19th February 2014, London: Canonical today announces it has signed agreements with mobile device manufacturers bq (www.bqreaders.com) (Spain) and Meizu (China) to bring Ubuntu smartphones to consumers globally. Canonical is working with these partners to ship the first Ubuntu devices on the latest hardware in 2014. Ubuntu has also received significant support from the world’s biggest carriers, some of which intend to work with OEM partners to bring phones to market this year.
Development programmes have begun with the partners to provide smartphones with a superior user experience on mid to high end hardware for consumers around the world. Devices will be available to buy online through bq, Meizu and at Ubuntu.com.
Today was a hectic day, starting with our Ubuntu town hall hangout and spent in a wealth of meetings. As such I haven’t had a chance to write a blog post about this announcement yet, but I wanted to throw something out on my blog before I go to bed.
Naturally this is tremendously exciting news. As I posted about before, 2013 was an intense year as we not only started building our convergent platform, but also the many inter-connecting pieces too such as our SDK, image based updates, Mir, app developer platform, platform services, app insulation, developer portal, and more. As a result of this work, since May 2013 I have been running Ubuntu full-time on my phone and we are in great shape.
In the last year my team has been heavily focused on building a new community; our Ubuntu app developer community. I have directed many resources in my team here for a number of reasons that I believe are of strategic importance to the future health, growth, and opportunity of Ubuntu and our community.
Firstly, we want Ubuntu to instill a level of simplicity, elegance, and power that is not just present in the default platform, dash, scopes, and services, but also emphasized across the apps that users want to use. This means kickstarting a new generation of apps inspired by the design and development principles that are driving our convergence vision and using a simple and powerful app developer platform so devs can go from idea to app store as quickly and easily as possible.
Secondly, I personally believe that apps are key to our success. I suspect that OEMs and carriers will be even more motivated by a platform with great apps and a powerful developer platform, I believe that users will be attracted to a platform with great apps, and I believe that developers will want to build apps for a platform that is both fun to use and develop for.
Thirdly, I believe there is a huge opportunity to refine and innovate in so many areas of our app developer platform and community. Everything from the tooling to knowledge and support to publishing can be optimized and refined to build the very best developer platform.
As such, in my peanut-sized brain the apps are where much of my team’s strategy should be focused.
I am delighted by the progress we are making here. As I wrote about a few days ago, there is lots of wonderful work going on and fresh features and improvements landing soon. Our Ubuntu app developer platform is growing in leaps and bounds and I am really proud of the efforts of so many people.
Now, while I am proud of where we are today, I am not going to compromise until we have the best developer platform in the world.
So, how does this all relate to the bq and Meizu news?
Well, this news starts the ball rolling on the first set of devices that are going to be hitting the market. This in-turn will result in a general consumer audience starting to use Ubuntu on smart-phones. While today we have thousands of developers flashing their phones with Ubuntu and eagerly writing apps and using other people’s apps, the injection of general consumers will build even more motivation and momentum for our app developers to create apps they are truly proud of and that will be of interest to a new generaton of Ubuntu smart-phone users. As a musician I can tell you that having an audience makes everything that much more worthwhile, and I think it is the same our developers who are about to get a new audience growing around them.
These are tremendously exciting times. Our vision is ambitious but every day the momentum grows and I delighted you are all joining the journey with us. Let’s do this, friends!
I was rather excited to receive my box set of Doctor Who: Dark Eyes 2 today. Not just because it’s the follow-up to the BBC Audio Drama Award-winning first series. Here’s the splendid artwork that accompanies the 4 CD release:
You see the photographs of Nicola Walker from Spooks on the box, album art and even the disk itself? I took those! Thanks to the design wizardry of Damien May they blend seamlessly with the photographs of Paul McGann, Ruth Bradley and Alex Macqueen in costume that they already had. It’s tremendously exciting to see one’s efforts printed on an actual BBC authorised CD.
Nick Briggs (Executive Producer and voice of the Daleks) asked if I could attend the recording session at the studio to photograph Nicola, Alex, Ruth and other cast members. Not knowing exactly what I would encounter when I got there, I tried to cover all the possibilities. I ended up shooting using off camera flash to get the dramatic lighting suitable for the covers and album art, and natural light for the more straight-forward shots. It was fascinating to see how a complex audio drama is recorded, and yes, the lunches at the Big Finish studios are every bit as good as they are made out to be!
I can see more of my photos of Ruth (below), Alex and Nicola in issue 60 of Big Finish’s free magazine, Vortex. Dark Eyes 2 is available now from bigfinish.com. I suppose I better go and listen to it now!Pin It
In cycling, a ride's Training Stress Score is a function of that ride's duration, average power and the intensity of the ride relative to the rider's capability. This Slowtwitch article provides a good overview on how intensity and TSS is calculated on a bike.
However, having TSS values for other sports allows a multisport athelete to take into consideration the physiological cost of activities in different sports. This is achieved by ensuring, say, 50 TSS on the bike "counts" the same as a 50 TSS run.
This can be used to simply determine the length, intensity and scheduling of an athletes next workout (to ensure adequate recovery) regardless of the combination of sports, or to identify the athlete's long-term tolerance to—and targets for—training load using metrics such as Chronic Training Load.
To make this possible when using Strava, I wrote a Chrome extension that estimates the TSS score of a run from its Grade Adjusted Pace distribution: