Busy week, nothing achieved!

The title of this weeks post is probably a little unfair on myself.  Lots of stuff got worked on last week but no milestones to talk about.  After reading a blog post on productivity, I think I need to start focusing on fewer things to achieve more.  My constant context switching is fun but less productive.

Vibe Innovation

So this is my idea of starting a proper business and learning the ropes of a limited company.  The idea is to provide a technology prototyping service, basically making proof of concepts for people.  Progress this week has been around getting a site up and running (VibeInnovation.com), talking to accountants and stuff and preparing my business PayPal account.

Burf.co

I am trying to automate as much of this as possible and just make it run itself.  After that, I need to design a service or product that it offers that people will want and pay for.

Echo

Progress on this has been pretty good, for the MVP I have decided to use Google’s Firebase to handle the backend communication and data.  Once the paperwork is done for Vibe, my primary focus will be on Echo.

Hack24

Paused 🙁

Keyword Research Ninja

So I have updated the costs of the product, linked it to my business PayPal account and created a product page.  All I need to do next is link it to the product and the site is done.

Robotics

Finally started playing around with the VEX EDR v5 hardware, ready to make a large epic robot 🙂

Crazy times with Innovation and Ninja’s

I have a plan, it involves learning, innovation and contains the word Ninja? Confused, read on!

So, this weeks blog post will probably be more confusing than most.  I had a few ideas floating around in my head that have formed into a kind of business idea (maybe even a plan).

Ninja!

First off, I was looking to buy or start a proper business, what I mean by proper is that it is a limited company registered with Companies House. Why you ask?  Well, I thought it would be a good thing to learn about.   I Thought a good place to start was buying something random off eBay that was already set up,  I hadn’t really worked out what to buy but something online, maybe marketing, SEO or something around that area.  I randomly brought the site Keyword Research Ninja for less than a Dominos pizza.  It sells keyword research software written in C#.  For me, the worst case scenario of buying this site is that I have some fun with the software.  However, this does not fulfill my idea of getting a limited company and the site does need some work.

Vibe Marketing Limited

So, also on eBay, they sell dormant companies (again not sure why I just didn’t set up a new one), and I came across someone selling Vibe Marketing Limited, they wanted quite a bit of money for a name,  after some strong negotiation skills, I brought it for less than a Dominos pizza!  I thought, hey I can get back into SEO (I used to love doing that in my spare time) and do it part-time for fun, just to learn the ropes of running a company.

Coffee with an old friend

I had been in contact with an old friend who used to work at Compsoft when I first joined.  He was a member of R&D and went off to finish his degree, start a company and do pretty well in life.  Anyway, we met up for Costa (Starbucks was too far away) and had a chat about life, work, and code.  He had set up a successful HR company that his wife runs, and he now does PoC work for fun to keep him actively coding.  I mentioned to him to him that I really enjoyed my time at O2’s Lab doing innovation and PoC work and that I missed the crazy times of making stuff work in new tech and then chucking it over the wall for a dev team to properly implement it if the business thought it was viable.

The penny drops.

So, I decided that my next plan of action was to take this limited company (in the process of being renamed to Vibe Innovation) and set it up as a consultancy company that creates proof of concepts for people.   I want to start really small with really small goals, this is still a learning process.  This year’s aim (November / December) is to create the website, set up email and show some of the projects I have done in the past.  Next years goal is simple, do 1 paid bit of work and work out how to process it through the books.

Other news

So work on Echo Music Group is actually progressing nicely.  It’s great fun getting back into doing iOS work.  I am currently working on the signup process.

Elasticsearch definitely seems to be the way to go with Burf.co which has been working well as a search engine.  I need to improve the quality of the dataset (which is in progress) and fix the site to work on mobile.  It has had over 16,000 sites manually submitted to it in the last week which is pretty epic.

I have also upped my reading for a second week in a row, I am now currently reading the $100 startup…. can’t imagine why 🙂

Elasticsearch : I did it, I used an existing framework, not recreate the wheel :)

Burf.co and Elasticsearch

So, as you can guess by the title, I decided to check out Elasticsearch (and do a couple of courses on it) to see if I could use it with Burf.co Search Engine.  Elasticsearch is built to be a search engine, whereas previously I was using MongoDB’s full test indexing and well, it just wasn’t up to the job of quickly returning results in a few seconds.

I still use the CommonCrawl data, which is filtered and put into MongoDB (the actual HTML document is stored), I then parse this and chuck it into Elasticsearch.  The program is all written in Java and seems to work pretty well.

The only issues I had were around updating my Java Spring Boot API’s to talk to Elasticsearch.  The Spring Boot Elasticsearch component uses an older version of Elasticsearch (current is v6.4.2, Spring Boot I believe is v5.x).  The other issue I had which seems silly is that most examples I found use Maven as the build pipeline, whereas I use Gradle.

The result is that search on Burf.co now works and is a lot quicker than before (disclaimer, I am still adding data to Elasticsearch, last looked it was around 55m pages).  I still need to learn about how to optimise it, how to do better more accurate searches, however, I am happy that I moved to use the correct tool for the job 🙂

Hack24

Last Friday, a few of my old Compsoft work colleagues met up for a GameJam which was fun.  I decided to focus on finishing Hack24 (finally), or to at least evaluate how much work was required.  Sadly the GameJam only lasted 7 hours (2 am) however I did get quite a lot of bugs and features implemented into Hack.  An Android MVP version is coming really soon!

I read a book!!!

So, it appears that you don’t just need to watch tv and play games while you’re on the exercise bike, you can READ, and I did so.  I read a book on flipping businesses (random I know) and quite enjoyed it.  So I have the $100 startup to read next 🙂

 

 

 

 

New Burf.co, Business Success Diploma and building furniture!

So, I am trying my best to make sure I update my blog regularly so that I can look back and see what I have achieved.

Burf.co, now with no search button

So between spending over 12 hours building furniture for the wife (2 new bunk beds, 2 desks, 2 chairs and a bookcase) I also managed to build a new MVP of Burf.co.  The previous version was using Swift and was all in one (frontend/ backend).  The new one is properly structured and uses VueJS for the frontend hosted externally, and the backend is in Java Spring Boot.  It is just a prototype at the moment and doesn’t even have a search button, you just type and it starts getting the results (and smashing the db) but it was a fun prototype to build and is definitely the way I want to go.

Next Steps

  • Increase dataset from 10 million to 100 million and make it fast as f*ck
  • Add site pages (contact, about, submit etc)
  • Add tag cloud and routing to make it better for SEO

Business Success Diploma

So ages ago I signed up to Shaw Academy as it has some great courses and reviews.  I got a lifetime membership so I wasn’t in a rush.  Since I finished the bodybuilding show, I have been caining through the course at super speed and hope to take my exam this week:). It was one of my new year’s resolutions to do (so was Hack24 🙁 ).  I am learning a lot and hope to carry on with more advanced training around business.

Echo

The above projects are the fluff as I call it to get out of the way so that I can focus on Echo and getting this startup off the ground.  I already started building a basic website for them.  Once that’s complete, its time to focus on the MVP

Robotics

When it rains, it pours!  So before I had even thought about the above 3 projects, I had decided I was going to build a humanoid out of VEX EDR, which is a brilliant building platform.  They had just brought out their new V5 system which looks epic (more powerful motors, more motors, vision control, touch screen etc).  VEX was very nice in sending me some V5 hardware to start building this 3D Printed / VEX EDR humanoid!  This will be my chilled weekend project 🙂

 

Xamarin : Results so far

So, I been playing with Xamarin on and off (damn meetings) and I am slowly getting to grips with it.  I am not a C# developer so while learning Xamarin, I am also learning C#!

I have to be honest, some things I have found a real struggle.  The Android part of my project just died, would not build for toffee, after many hours of search for info, even talking to Xamarin (work call), it turned out to be a corrupt package in a hidden directory.  To be fair, with every new tool, language you are going to learn these issues.

The other random issue which I have not solved is using OpenTk and OpenGL to render a cube on the screen.  This is completely shared code (WOOHOO) however iOS works, Android does not.  One thing I picked up from when speaking to Xamarin is that if any platform is going to break, its Android due to Google pushing updates.  I can respect that!  Android Studio 0.9 -> 1.0 broke every project for me.

The Show must go on!

I can see some real benefits from Xamarin, if I was a C# developer I would be in heaven!  I really want to see whats possible with Xamarin Forms, the holy grail of mobile development (Be warned its not!, its a good technology for a certain job, not all jobs).

In all honestly I don’t have much interest in Xamarin Native which is where you write C# code that directly binds to native Apple/Android Api’s.  I would prefer just to do it in Xcode / Android Studio.

Focus!

I think my personal focus for Xamarin is looking at cross-platform game development using MonoGame or OpenTK.OpenGL.  I either need to learn XNA for MonoGame 3D stuff or see how different the OpenGl is on OpenTK.  This however brings me to the question, why am I not using Unity3D?

My work focus is Xamarin Forms and working out how far you can go with them.  I have been told things like custom pins on a map is a no go on Forms.

I will keep you posted on what I discover!