Author Archives: james

How about a mobile note app backed by git?

I want a notes app on my mobile devices, and I want the content synced across all my devices and available at my desktop. Now there are tons of companies clamoring to offer such a service if I just open an account with them, but because I’m concerned about the security and safety of my data I’d ideally like one I can control and back up. Continue reading

With the rise of mobile browsing, fixed page elements must die.

One common trick web authors do because they think it’s neat is make elements of a webpage fixed so as the user scrolls around part of the webpage stays still. “This is so important the viewer must always see it!”, they think.

Sometimes it’s done with good intents; a rich web app may decide a toolbar should always be visible, for instance. Usually it’s done with scummy intents; “If I make the viewer see SHARE ME! buttons wherever they scroll, eventually they’ll give up and do it!”.

Either way, read on for a simple visual guide as to why this must stop. Continue reading

QR codes on business cards should be contacts not URLs.

Most of the time people put a URL as the QR code so they have records of when it’s scanned. I even heard of one firm where the staff had a competition to see who could get their QR code scanned the most.

But the problem with that is that firstly it doesn’t work if the user is off line, and secondly, you make the user perform an extra action to get to anything good.

What’s the alternative? You can embed several pieces of information including a URL in one code with a contact record (VCARD). Continue reading

What makes programming at hackdays great fun?

Hackdays, events that bring many people from different backgrounds together to work on ideas, can be great fun for many reasons. But for computer programmers there is one particular reason it’s great fun.

Remember, the aim of the hack day is to explore an idea with other people, to see what is possible and hopefully kickstart the project into life after the hackday. You’ll probably end up building a prototype of the idea, to demonstrate how it works. The energy and ideas that are unearthed as people from different backgrounds work together is amazing.

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Flocklight: highlighting connections in a crowd

For Culture Hack Scotland this year I worked on an idea I came up with that week. I feel I didn’t really do the hack day properly; I ended up working on my own and not using any of the data. But the event was the perfect opportunity to test the idea.

Flocklight pulls all the twitter data for those attending or mentioning an event like a conference, and tries to highlight useful data about the connections between people. The aim is to provide you with information so you make the most of an event. For instance, are others you know going? Do you have something in common with a stranger there who you can go and chat to?

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