The gentle geek, London

So, It’s been a while since I posted something. With good reason, it was a big transition time for me. I left my work at Smallrivers in Lausanne, Switzerland. Had a house guest for my last weekend in Lausanne and after that moved my thing over to the Netherlands to figure out what I would be doing the next. So what to do next? Well a friend was working as a CTO on a project and they wanted me to help them out. So at Exvo and Tolq I spend a couple of weeks working with them. At the same time one of my investments came back to me and asked if I wanted to join in. Michiel Roukens (the Owner of OWNR) was desperately looking for a technical guy to help him out. Thus I became CTO for OWNR as a side project. At the same time moving to London for Quipper, So we’re back in sync with the current time. Well … at least sort of …

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The euruko 2012 report

In the first day’s of June I went back to Amsterdam because one of my friends was one of the organizers of the 2012 European Ruby conference. Euruko is one of those pleasantly strange conferences that we have in the Ruby community. Single track, stunning location and interesting speakers make for a good conference spread over two days and some nights.

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working plus or minus

There is an interesting wave of less work, more life mentality change going on in the technology business. This is not new and it has been happening in waves if you look across the borders of the one business paradigm. Research has been done and experiences are shared. Henry Ford was one of the first to publish a big research about the subject and the measure was set at an optimum of 40 hours a week. Is that so? I know people who need more space and want to work less to be more productive. Others are completely the opposite, work hard for a couple of months and take a full month off to do other things. Some are even doing work just for fun.

Some people swear that working long and inconsistent hours gives them more freedom to think about things. Not restricted by the 9 to 5 hours and allowing themselves to continue in a flow when they are in it. Others find that time at home and quiet time really helps them prepare for a productive day. Others try to mix the two. But is it time that ultimately helps us the be more productive, or is it something else?

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Fences of the village, Switzerland

I find myself two and a half months now in the overly beautify country of Switzerland. The food is good, air is clean and the views are absolutely stunning. With a month of experience now I also got to know the people a bit more. What makes a Swiss national so… Swiss?

What I found mostly is that the Swiss are struggling with their real identity. About 27% of the population is from foreign heritage and in the part where I live it even goes as high as 40%. So determining an average with such a large proportion mixed in heritage can be really difficult. I have however found some things that are really Swiss in origin and can be found in every layer of life here in Switzerland.

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A culture for your skill

In a world of high speed, high complexity and high quality we need smart people to work on smart and innovative solutions. But even though smart people come together at a start-up it can completely fail. Not because of the lack of skill but almost always the lack of culture.

More an more start-up entrepreneurs try and work with remote resources and have the smartest people work on their ideas. Sometimes it works out and things get created but in the start-up work many things go wrong on a simple mismatch of culture. Experts do not know how to work with one another, maybe do not share the same goals and visions. In a small company these things are more important than in bigger ones but a strong company culture can really skyrocket production speed and result quality.

But why is a good developer able to create bad results when the culture is wrong? Why will a normal developer do really good things when in a comfortable cultural environment?

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The technology jobs game

Compared to other jobs I’m someone that travels around. I follow interesting problems and promising ideas around the world wherever I can find them. As a web developer I can get a job anywhere in the world, but finding that one job is another challenge. Through a web of recruiters, sub-recruiters, job websites, venture capitalists, start-ups and whatever you can think of you can find the next best thing. The web is a big place with different kinds of players that make this work. You can categorize the players into three groups: employers, candidates and service providers. Employers are the ones that have the job, candidates want the job and the service providers assist in making the connection between supply and demand.

I’ve been on both sides of the table, both as a candidate and as an employer. I’ve also dealt with plenty people offering me a job or offer to search for me. So what do I know about this “game”?

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Flipped doors and the hotel lifestyle, Lausanne

Mountains over the Rolex learning centerSo, I’m moving to Lausanne, Switzerland. The company called Smallrivers offered me an interesting job as a web developer for paper.li. I will be working and living in Lausanne where the office is situated on the campus of the EPFL. I’m spending my first weeks in Lausanne in a hotel to find a place, get in sync with my co-workers and getting everything else ready to make the move. I had a two week travel bag including my camera and a laptop. So, what’s up?

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The library in a new digital age

The last decade has seen the arrival of the new digital age. The Internet has become more important then ever and digitization of everything around us has been going on at full speed. The way we consume and pay for products in changing drastically. Digital payments are going up, as a digital sales. Even the physical vs. digital goods are changing where digital distribution of games, movies, tv shows, music and books are slowly but surely moving towards digital distribution. Business models that worked 10 years ago have no chance of succeeding due to the way people use digital devises in their day to day lives.

How does an institute like the library carry over from the “old” business model into a new digital business model?

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Finding quality in layers

If we try to define quality we will use many different parameters to make it measurable. These parameters differ from subject to subject. This makes it almost impossible to compare quality of a movie versus a book, even if they have the same story. But the medium does not simply allow us to say that one is better than the other, we mostly use our gut feeling to judge this. Although subjectivity is a big part of quality we still want to make it measurable, making it more objective.

We tend to measure quality to very specific parameters that apply to a medium or subject. This does not allow us to compare two different pieces. Even comparing a comedy movie with a action movie becomes really hard. But is there a universal way to measure quality?

I think there is!

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cheating yourself out of a technical problem

We all want to create the best technical solution, making sure it flows naturally and that it looks good. But there is always time and budget pressures that do not allow you to create that perfect piece of software that you want. It is always a struggle between quality, time and money that shape the resulting product.

Interestingly there are always ways to cheat yourself out of an issue to fix it later. The solution might be not technically the best but it can work for 90% of the time and when it fails you can make it matter less. Cheating the client out of the best solution might make them happier than delivering a perfect product.

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