Tuesday, July 13, 2010

TechHub Founder Dating

Yesterday evening I was lucky enough to participate in Seedcamp/TechHub's Founder Dating event, and very good it was too. Held at the newly opened TechHub Towers, next to Old Street tube station in Islington, it was basically speed dating for people looking for co-founders for potential start ups. I met really clever and interesting people, with some great ideas, and I was thinking it would be great to replicate this kind of event up in my native North East - I'm sure there are enough potential CTOs, CEOs, and investors up here willing to give it a go.

One thing did strike me though: there is no fear of failure. Several of these people had had start ups fail on them in the past, and just carried on. The advantage of living and working in London is that they can just pick up a regular job until they recharge their batteries and build up a bit of cash for when the next start up beckons. There is just so much work around. That is one area where the North East doesn't compete just yet - we're perhaps not quite able to support that kind of job market flexibility, I fear, and that may hinder start up activity.

As for the rest... the beer was good, the wine was good, the pizza was good, and The Angel across the road is a proper pub.

For more information on TechHub, see techhub.com

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

World Cup Fever

What is it about England? Hopeless against Algeria, brilliant today for 75 minutes. Then hanging on and hanging on with 15 to go, with an easy route to the semi-finals as the prize for the group winners. Then, and of course there's a then, the Americans score (and you just knew they would, or Slovenia would fluke an equalizer, or something), and we're playing Germany and Argentina, and there's a bit of sour in the sweet mix. It's a law of physics, of course, or if it's not we should name one. Anyone got any ideas?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Microsoft "Dallas" Project - Fish or Fowl?

From the website: "Microsoft codename Dallas is a new service allowing developers and information workers to easily discover, purchase and manage premium data subscriptions in the Windows Azure platform". From what I see the concept is to allow an organisation to upload data or datasets to the site, to be sold or given away to registered users. Isn't this a bit like the internet, but with a twist? Anyway, useful tool for storage, discovery, and delivery of important datasets; or thinly disguised attempt to implement a charging model for the internet? You choose.

Footnote: I wish a certain train company would stop routing their onboard wifi through Scandanavia. Too many websites are now defaulting the language based on location and I'm afraid that I don't Sprak Svenska.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Cyberbullying In The Name Of...

Sitting at my kitchen table (the warmest place in the house) fighting off the Christmas lurgy, I seem to have a more reflective take on the whole "Killing In The Name Of" vs. Joe thing (I forget the name of Joe's single). For me the whole campaign has some disturbing elements:
  1. Who are these people who set up this Facebook group? Do you know them? Do you know who they're connected to? Or their agenda? NO. Remember: "No-one knows you're a dog on the internet".
  2. I've been into what I would (perhaps pompously) refer to as "serious music" for over 30 years, and in that time I've never given a rat's arse who was number one because the singles chart has always been for kids and old grannies.
  3. Simon Cowell isn't evil, he's just tapped into a market that's out there - if you don't like what he does, then just switch it off.
  4. There have always been attempts by impresarios to control "the talent"; from the days of Tin Pan Alley, through to Chinn & Chapman, Stock, Aitken, & Waterman, and now Simon Cowell. And people who don't like what's on offer will find something else: The Blues, Bill Hailey, Elvis, The Beatles, Sex Pistols, or RATM.
  5. RATM are part of Sony.
  6. The charity thing looks like smoke and mirrors.
  7. When I step back from the hype, I get the bad feeling that one million people have just committed the biggest act of cyberbullying yet against an 18 year old boy. Live with that.
  8. Lastly, all of this reminds me of the Johnny Rotten quote "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?"

Monday, December 7, 2009

Alistair Darling, Are You Serious?

On the BBC's Andrew Marr show yesterday, Alistair Darling appeared to announce the cancellation of the NHS Connecting for Health IT program. He just slid it into the conversation without further reference. His reasoning was: "because it isn't critical to delivering front line services". I know that the CfH program is flawed, but this is monumental stupidity. A good IT system will give you control, improve accuracy, reduce waste, and increase productivity; in the case of the NHS, this means more time spent on treating patients. I believe that universal healthcare is essential to any civilised country, but I fear that without the implementation of new digital technologies the NHS will not be able to deliver this in the 21st century. And that's a problem for all of us.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Internet Predictions for 2010

They'll be coming thick and fast over the coming weeks, so I thought I'd get my 10 internet predictions for 2010 in now, with a nod to Spinal Tap:

  1. The big online retail phenomenon of the year will be carpet.

  2. The government will charge a universal broadband tax to be given directly to those poor, hard done by actors, directors, and pop stars.

  3. All internet content will be charged for, particularly this blog, with a premium rate for anything deemed 'unsuitable'. Eventually, all of the money in the world will reside with a handful of porn barons.

  4. Microsoft will finally admit defeat and decide the internet is not for them. Three months later they will announce a new, patented, product called the 'WINternet' which will cost 500 pounds per seat, will be incompatible with the current internet, and will be replaced by a new version every 3 years. And we'll all buy it.

  5. TV will become obsolete, as we all rush to watch (old) programs in a low-res postage stamp window on our computers.

  6. Orkut will be the social media application of choice.

  7. All government IT projects will be delivered on time and in budget, and will be really useful.

  8. Apple and Dyson will team up to add a portable vacuum cleaner to the iPhone - 'The iPhone that sucks'.

  9. 2010 will see the death of the PC (you have to predict this every year, it's a given).

  10. The election will be cancelled as 'too expensive for the public purse', to be replaced by a UserVoice forum.

  11. We'll all buy a government ID card.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Never Go Back

I found myself in Liverpool the other week, alighting at Lime Street Station much as I had in my student days, some 20+ years ago. I haven't been back to Liverpool in a while, certainly not the city centre, and my initial reaction was that nothing much had changed. Years of dust fell away from my memories and off I walked into the city centre, in torrential rain, like some kind of mesmerised salmon looking for my place of origin. I soon realised that the city centre has changed a lot, and for the better, but that just made me plough on further until I got to Dale Street and the business district. By now I was truly soaked, and I was only carrying a minimal change of clothes, but on I trudged. I found that the old business district has not changed too much in 20 years and that's a good thing, because it's fantastic, so on I pressed until I came to the Street where I had my first job after university - Tithebarn Street. I could see my old building up the way, and my heart quickened and my clothes dripped, as I anticipated ascending in the lift to check out my old office. I hurried to the entrance where I was cruelly halted; it was blocked and overgrown with weeds, the windows were boarded, a tower block frozen in the late 1980s, a ghost building - sad, tired and decrepit - the ground floor wine bar locked up, Derek Hatton no longer entertaining his council cronies with lunchtime champagne.

The moral of this story is that you can never ever go back... unless of course you're Doctor Who.

Happily I can say that I enjoyed the new Liverpool very much, the Liverpool Software City event was excellent, and I ended the night as I have so many others in that place, drunk and in a curry house. I hope to visit again soon.