business


A big change, I am heading to something very exciting.

After seven years of employing myself here at Feeding Edge, I am making an exciting and very positive move and I have accepted a new role. This part of the adventure has been incredible and I have learned an awful lot, worked with some fantastic people and projects and ended up with something to remember these times by in the shape of the two sci-fi novels.
feedingedgelogotransparent
Feeding Edge as a company will be staying, as that’s the publisher of the books, I just won’t be working for it any more as an employee, issuing myself a p45. It may get to publish the third in the trilogy too, just not for a while yet 😉
What am I off to do? Well, I will be able to say in detail, and for who, in a few weeks when I officially start. I am still very much in the emerging technology industry, I will also be out and about a lot at conferences and various other events. I will also still be doing what I set out to do here, in ‘taking a bite out of technology so you don’t have to.’ I will also be doing lots of writing.
In all the variety of things I have experienced I have found a great deal of fulfilment in writing, both fictional and factual, historic, now and future. The sharing of the patterns and ideas that I get to experience feels like something I should carry on doing. Which is why this was just too good to pass up.
Each day here, I have found a little spark of something interesting to pursue. Some of those became small and intense flames of interest in a full project. With what is on the horizon, I feel a massive burst of energy ready and raring to power forward with. It is so interesting that whilst I don’t actually start for a few weeks I am already just getting on and doing some of the prep. It all builds on what has come before that is more about now having a sense of direction and purpose, and a team to belong to and not want to let down.
Team work and a something to rally around is important. I think it is Choi Kwang Do training that has helped me want to belong in a group again. We all help one another, and can identify still as very individual in our pursuits but part of a whole. I will of course carry on with that part of my life, as it is very important and a family bond too. With my new role I will be able to be both part of an organisation, a focussed team and with an individual focus too.
Did I mention Internet of Things? I will be very focussed on that, which is of course pretty much everything! As it’s an infrastructure and a concept that underpins the current wave of emerging technology. I have of course been in and around this since before the name got attached to it, so it’s all familiar, though ever changing. Just the way I like it.
I have one last semi-official gig with Feeding Edge this weekend, as I am honoured to have been asked to go to Jersey and judge a gaming hackathon Though this is more BCS Animation and Games dev and also a book tour.
Anyway, Thank you to everyone I have worked with over the years here, to all those opportunities that have been presented to me, for the support and believe in my abilities, and that I have learned so much from, and found this new direction to head in because of that.
Now I need to go and work out where all my little bio pieces are around the social web to get ready to update them. A nice problem to have, I think?

A successful freebie promotion? Some numbers.

How did the freebie week do then? A week of just putting both Reconfigure and Cont3xt out there for download for nothing. Firstly thank you to everyone who downloaded the book(s) around the World, I had figures from lots of countries not just the .com and .co.uk Amazon sites.
SafariScreenSnapz104
In total there were 373 downloads in those 5 days. It put the book up in the free charts and made for a very exciting few days watching the graph rise. I felt I was surfing a wave of interest in the story.
The cost of that free promo, if i had charged the normal Amazon price where I get 35% of the 0.99p it equates to £130.55. You can see you have to shift a lot of books, or charge a lot more and still shift them to make any sort of money for a novel. The 0.99 price point was.is an attempt at volume.
The free download though is way more effective, in my experience, than regular advertising. With that you pay if someone clicks on your advert, not if they buy you product. It is easy to spend hundreds trying to target the right audience. I even paid Facebook to boost my Reconfigure is free post for the week. That was £11 just to do that one post. It reached 1,018 people and there were 171 actions on it. It is hard to tell if those 171 actions were downloads of the book or not though. The systems are not so joined up as to be able to tell you that sort of intelligence.
Another interesting statistic is that 278 of the downloads were of Reconfigure, but only 95 for the follow up Cont3xt. Both were equally free, though I can understand in a series only grabbing the first. It may be that some of those 278 downloads might get read, and enjoyed and then come back for the sequel.
The World, characters and experiences I created didn’t exist before September 2015, and only started to be available for anyone else to experience in October 2015. Books take a long time to read, it is not a quick 1/2 hour TV series or a 5 minute YouTube. I now know there are lots of copies out there, ready to be taken to the next stage of discovery and enjoyment. That I count as a success. There are books that will ship 800+ a day, but that is a different league. My books can ship that many if need be, it is ultimately an on demand product and does not require me to do anything else to it. They are written, and I love what I have done.
With the excitement and the highs there is always a follow on low. As Amazon switches you from paid to free and back again the book ranking takes a bit of a hit. Obviously when you are free you are racking up free sales, when you go back again you are dropped back in having missed out on any sales, so it starts to tank. Unless lots of people rally and hear about the book and start buying it.As you can see below, the free book was getting right up onto the top line of the rankings in the top 1,000 of all books online, and top 50 of science fiction. Now the rank plummets, ready to start climbing again slowly.
Author rank
I was asked if this was a good way to make a living? Having a good quality product, as the books seem to be really enjoyed by people who get to read them, is only part of it. It is an essential part of course. The rest though requires a lot of luck. I am already very active of social media, and have been for years, and I am I willing to try a share things in an unusual way. I feel for those indie authors that have worked hard on their books and are now faced with trying to establish a social media presence in order to get the books noticed by people. It is why there is a huge industry of people charging money to do the advertising for you. I have explored some of those, the auto tweeting to hundreds of thousands of people. It’s effectiveness is debatable. However, you want to buy the lottery ticket, just in case.
Which convinces someone to download a book more, an advert or something mad like the Marmite jars.
#scifi Marmite
The answer may be neither, but I am having way more creative an intellectual fun trying these things out than the apparent mugging that occurs on regular online advertising. Well it was ONLY 373 and it was FREE so of course people would download it. That may be a though going through someone’s head. However, it is 373 downloads and everyone of them counts. Every potential reader, with it sat on their device, might get an fantastic kick out of reading it. Even one person loving it is a great result. If the book was not there, that would not happen. It is, they are, and it can.
I am still seriously considering how to tell the story in a way that fits the 21st century though. Game, machinima, Augmented Reality experience etc. That is because Roisin and her adventures are just freaking awesome 😉 Enjoy!

Price, value, 0.99 and ego for authors

I originally posted this on Linkedin, but felt I should have it here too. Working out the best place to put things often includes some re-use/re-posting.

Http://reconfigurebook.co.uk stands ready
Ready to face the World on its own, growing up and leaving the nest.

It has been a steep learning curve, since September 2015, of writing, publishing and selling, this first novel Reconfigure. My initial surprise at managing to write it in a way that came out almost exactly as I had pictured it, was then met with the confusion of how to design, price and share it as a product. Each of the steps in that process I took decisions, some where more clear cut than others.

The price, of my precious creation, was the hardest. I thought that going in too cheap would make the work seem as if it was a throw away piece, published solely for reasons of ego. I thought if it was too expensive, it would of course not reach anyone, and how could I dare charge for something by an unknown writer. That was balanced a little by my own internal hype, that I felt I was not totally unknown. In reality in the sea of internet presences and products, we are all pretty much unknown, unless you count as a global multi-award winning superstar or win the viral lottery and have something to ride that wave with. They were not generally born with that popularity though. We are all just people.

People, many closer to me than not, seem to enjoy Roisin’s story. I have no idea what people from a wider more diverse circle feel about it, yet. I sit and worry about reviews, what if I get lots and they say it’s terrible. Equally I worry about people not reviewing because it is just not worth the bother to review. The book is not me though. Looking at it from it’s perspective, it is happy to be out there ready to be discovered. I have done what I needed to release the story. Now it is the books job to win people over. That way I can park this ego, or personal validation need, for downloads and sales and just try and help it along without it defining me.

That is all a bit deep, and potentially odd to hear. However, having written a second book I find my attitudes to its acceptance as part of the series to be different. I am going to send it out there, and whatever happens, happens. I can engineer serendipity a little, with mentioning its very existence, but I can’t make people want to read, or read it. If they want to they will. I do not have a corporate marketing budget to make it part of every waking moment in everyones lives. That would be horrible though!

Having run the free promotion days and seeing such a big difference in downloads, from the $2.99 book sales, it is clear that $2.99 is too much. That price point was slightly enforced by the structure Amazon sets. If you want to get 70% as a royalty you can only start pricing at $2.99, which becomes £1.99 in the UK, as a minimum rather than an exchange rate difference. As a new author, and doing all the work, my brain thought, “hey, 70% is a decent amount.” The other rate is 35%. For an ebook that seems woefully low. Yes there is storage of the data, the shop front etc., but Amazon are getting 65% at that low rate. My ego, not my business brain, felt that was wrong. So I couldn’t price any lower than $2.99. I think that may have been incorrect, and my heart leading my head. Getting the book out there is about volume, not individual profits. Whilst Amazon may be taking too much, IMHO, that is what they are taking, that is the playing field, the rules of the game. Amazon, of course, don’t actually care as a transport mechanism for my book or anyone’s. They thrive of volume, one product sold lots or lots sold of individual items. So self publishing might cut out a certain part of the middle man process, but it is not generally the creators of anything who gain the most financially.

With this in mind, I just made a chance and hit the button, not to go totally free and never get any financial recognition for the work, but instead to the enticing $0.99 or 99p in the UK and other regions. This may make a difference to volumes downloaded. With a second book, yet to be priced, it may entice two sales? Yes I have written twice as much, but 2 x 0.99 is better than 0 x $2.99 and I want people to just read it.

Will that make any difference? I have no idea. As with all these things there is an element of luck and timing, combined with anything related to the quality and the value of the work. It means I feel much more relaxed about Cont3xt now though. The first book, was as if I was buying a lottery ticket for the very first time. Excitement and nerves, hoping for a massive win. That could happen, and sometimes does, but most things require time and effort, presence and demonstration of ability in the field. I may have a long track record in emerging technology, social media, blogging, a bit of TV presenting etc. That does not entitle me to immediately burst onto the scene and expect critical and financial success.

With that new attitude, I can move forward and explore interesting story lines and ways to share them. The work is there if anyone needs it. It does not require my constant presence, it is a product, hosted and available 24/7. It is still my baby, as is Cont3xt, but they are growing up and leaving home. They still need my support, and they are very welcome of the support from everyone they have had so far too, as am I.

Reconfigure is available on Amazon in all regions as an ebook and paperback. Go and give it a try, and maybe write a review too?

Cont3xt, the follow up is out soon.

More than just a CV – Reputation matters

The last few months have been a little bit unusual, or maybe just part of the general flow of business and life depending how you look at it. Having an independent limited company, with just one employee (me) leads to the inevitable feast and famine of projects. Without a product, as such, there is no sustainable revenue stream. Just expertise. That might be advice and consulting, helping people along a path, or it may be diving in and join the fight developing something.
Yoda
Whilst clearly I am not Yoda, there are some traits to make an analogy too. Standing back and observing, but still very hands on when needed 🙂
My two main paying long term projects appear to have tapered off. One due to some international malarkey with a 3rd party and the other due to an organisations reorganisation of who doe what where. As an ad hoc provider you are the end of the chain and so just have to take it as a risk of the business.
The thing with long term projects is that you have to offer a degree of loyalty. Some things just take time and that may not mean getting paid. Its a gamble. In this case both gambles have not paid off it would seem. Don’t get me wrong both bits of work have been fantastic opportunities to build interesting virtual world spaces and do the full stack and lots of overall design and direction. Things just happen.
My other startup investment work, despite being an amazingly cool idea has not managed to get the sort of investment it needs (yet). The “yet” is important as its not worth throwing the towel in when you know it’s revolutionary. I am used to doing things before their time that people don’t quite understand yet. We got quite a long way with a very promising investor a year or so ago but that didn’t work out. So we are back pitching, hustling, trying to showcase and inspire people to get it. As a professional evangelist I know that it is hard work getting adoption of the new. Yet we still plough on.
So that leaves the day to day stuff. Getting new projects, new leads, new contracts or even a new full time/part time traditional job role.
Everything I have ever done has been based on people either knowing me, knowing my work, knowing someone who knows someone. It is why the virtual world space has been so influential in my life, it was being able to expand on who knew who and working directly with people at a more direct creative level that makes it engaging.
Now, though, despite having an extensive web presence, this blog and my previous ones go back years, having a TV show reel, having writing and speaking portfolios I find that I am having to fall back on the traditional CV or resume to send out and hope it conveys enough of the breadth and depth of this particular strange profile I and my company has.
Reputation is everything, so it seems strange to have recruitment firms look at my CV and just pattern match on particular keywords. I have experience of that not being so great when I was helping us ramp up with software contractors back in the 1999. We did indeed get a CV through from our filtering recruitment consultant needing a Lotus Domino programmer, but had someone who had worked at Domino pizza. Being a generalist/full stack developer/architect/evangelist and with a long experience in all elements of the tech industry and across other industries my CV often has the keywords in it. It does have the explanation and the more interesting wording around the job of an evangelist and of a technology innovator, but that gets lost in the filtering.
However if someone were to Google a subject and cross reference with my name or handle (hence always mentioning epredator) they would find a long and extensive track record. To me the web is ultimately my reference. I am not sure though that applying for jobs or contracts would work with a CV that just said “google epredator” followed by “don’t you know who I am” 🙂
I was asked by one recruiter if I knew Agile. I pointed out that back before the agile manifesto we were doing interactive development with flat structures in the early days of the web as there was in fact no other sensible way to do it. We battled the waterfall traditional approach. Stuff like that you can’t put in a CV it is for a conversation, otherwise, as it did just then, it sounds arrogant.
I had another look at upwork recently too, just for a little quick contract, and to see how it works. However it is full of “can you just rebuild world of warcraft for me for $200, must show reference examples”. That got be worrying that all my reference work has actually been rather closed off.
The startup work is trying to gain funding, so its not like we open source everything or put the code on github. It covers everything, unity3d, c#, opensim, php, mysql, linux, Facebook, twitter, drupal etc. It is a pat pending concept too. Yet I can’t just show that to anyone.
My research work has been behind closed doors, some of it completely secret, again the end product can sort of be demonstrated in one case, but the other with it’s complexity is not a look at this project though I do try and allude to its content.
So have I painted myself into a dead end? I don’t think so. I have gained a lot of experience in many things over the years. I have applied myself to technical and non technical roles. I even learned to custard pie people in the face on TV. That is what a generalist does. It is a skill to be able to adjust and go with the flow, to excel in new things. I admire specialists, I envy them sometimes. They have a defined focus, that have a specific role in life. Mine is to do lots of things and share them with lots of people.
So if you are reading this and sharing the ups and downs helps, or if you are a kindred spirit or even if you are an intelligent head hunter, or potential partner/customer who wants to have an interesting conversation and explore the world then please get in contact.
I am on twitter as epredator or here epredator [at] feedingedge.co.uk
Of course my CV is available on request 🙂 Meanwhile I will be applying some martial arts unbreakable spirit and getting on with the future.

Hanging on or Leaping – Trust the technology

It has been quite a busy week with it being half term and Predlet 1.0 12th birthday. It started with an experience that I was not totally looking forward too. This experience was a haptic fear generating simulation using a real world physics engine, or climbing trees as you may want to call it.
Predlet 1.0 has wanted, for some time, to go to Go Ape. This is a treetop adventure that involves being 30+ feet up in the trees walking across precarious platforms, making leaps of faith and taking zip lines. As this is quite a potentially dangerous endeavour any of the “Baboons” (under 16’s) need to be accompanied by a responsible Gorilla. I was volunteered to be that Gorilla.
GoApe(Photo by @elemming)
I am not really a climber, speed and zooming around, or ground based activities are more my thing.
The whole thing is really very safe, as long as you do it correctly. You are provided with a harness containing 2 carabiner’s on one short and one slightly longer rope. You also have a hook over pulley that is used almost all the time. You are trained on the ground to always hook on, to ensure you do things in the right order. Then you get to practice on a set of equipment that is only 3 feet from the ground.
There are only really a few points to consider. Before you know it you are ascending the first wobbly rope ladder (attached to you harness and your safety ropes and counterweighted). Like all good experiences it leads you along. I had the extra concerns of making sure both Predlet 1.0 and her friend were taking care and doing things right, they had to go first and I had to follow.
Clambering up was a bit awkward, and the focus of clicking on and off with the carabiners was fairly intense. After all being 30 feet up and not attached, which it is quite possible to do as you transition does focus the mind.
I was not feeling that great shuffling along. You have to attach the rollers to the overhead parallel cable, one carabiner to it and the other just over the wire. To start with everything feels loose. Yes you have a harness, yes 3 ropes in total are attached. However you have to hang on. If you fall you go no more than a few inches in reality as the ropes are only just slack. The feeling though, and the height is very real. So you cling on and shuffle across these various obstacles.
However there are other types of obstacle, you encounter one very early on. The Tarzan swing. There us a cargo net suspended across from a completely open gap. So you have to clip on to rope and just jump off to swing across. This is where it got a little counter intuitive and why I am writing this.
Once attached I looked at the drop, I had the rope attached and I sat a little and felt the harness working. So I just jumped. It was a lot easier to just trust the technology and actually need it than the other obstacles that the technology was a backup.
So this got me thinking, albeit afterwards I was a bit more focussed at the time, that often we spend time and effort clinging to things and in particular one type of technology to get us through. We sort of know there is a backup but the old way works so lets keep shuffling. In this example there were things like the ends of logs forming a bridge. The pulley and cable acted as the support, but the aim was with tip toe across the gap on the older technology of the log. I know some people would have been fine with it but trying to relax, knowing from martial arts that that is the best thing to have good body control, is countered by the tension of hanging on, gripping what you can. At the end of these there was a sense of relief at having made it to the next stand. So it was goal to goal, hanging on, not wanting to use or need the harness and ropes.
At the end of each section there was another leap of faith involving a zip line. Unlike the tarzan swing this few seconds of hurtling towards the ground gave you a chance to feel what was happening. There was enough time to consider your elegant landing, or in my case crash landing. I felt quite happy to brace myself and plough into the pile of chipped bark at high speed. Again just trusting in the technology to carry me, there is no backup.
So I am guessing I am a leaper not a shuffler. I think the tech evangelist personality type has to be. I think we also spend a lot of time crashing at the end of zip lines too. Also though it is important to do the shuffling, to do the hanging on in there with the old tech in order to feel what others feel and be able to help them find that innovative leap of faith that will bring so much benefit.
Anyway, it was quite fun without all this extra layering of though process. More importantly the girls enjoyed it a lot and found it funny that I had to be up there with them.
Goape

Have your creations got a day named after them?

Yesterday was the 4th May. It happened to be a Monday here in the UK and so it was our May Day bank holiday. I was a little shocked when the predlets asked it it was a national holiday because it was Star Wars day! It was the biggest year for seeing May The 4th Be With You almost everywhere online though!
What started as a school yard joke seems to have spiralled into a massive Star Wars marketing buzz, but not just by its new owners Disney. I saw Star Wars hanging on to the day from so many places. Now us tech g33ks love Star Wars. It is nice to see the it getting such wide recognition but even Dyson vaccuum cleaners were getting in on the act. This image of 2 light sabre coloured vacuum cleaners was doing the social media rounds.
Dyson may 4th
Sky TV was running the entire set of films in the order they were made and had a twitter poll on a twitter card to ask if you were light or dark side. That sort of made more sense than the hoover… I mean Dyson Vacuum cleaner.
Star Wars has always been as much about the stuff around it, the merchandising and toys etc as it has about the film. I remember, being 10 years old, and so excited about Star Wars. Very formative years. We had Star Trek on TV which was great but not as dramatic and action packed as the big screen experience of all those lasers, fighters and the deep breathing evil bad guy. Then there was the music. Epic in every way. So it was hard not to also get excited about the letraset transfers sets being able to rub and stick your own scene from the film or the branded cereal with a collectors toy in the box.
Still? a Vacuum cleaner? Oh well it is just a bit of fun.
I did tweet this the day before as the power tool I was using reminded me of Queen Amadala in the prequels.
Queen amidala as a power tool
I doubt the marketing department at the time had any idea that nearly 37 years on an entire day would be labelled, celebrated and hash tagged to promote the Star Wars properties. It has become such a part of our collective experience that it is quoted and referenced continually. “These are not the droids you are looking for”, “I am you Father”, “I have a bad feeling about this”, “Use the force Luke”, “Do or do not there is not try”. etc etc.
Now there are a few days still left available that have no special significance that I am sure someone, somewhere is trying to weave into their product launch or their initial startups.
In fact I wonder if there is a “special day” registry rather like domain name registration or trademarks?
As a thought experiment, pick a date and try and make a product for it?
12th August a.k.a 128 A day dedicated to restaurants everywhere I Want To Eat (128) see it works, though no in the US as it would be Eat One Too (8 12) a day to share a meal with someone.
Anyway, well done Star Wars and all your spin offs. I am very much looking forward to both the new film at the end of the year and the new Star Wars Battlefront game!

The Force is strong with this brand

Over 15 years experience in Virtual Worlds, 30+ in tech – What now?

A few days ago I realised it has been over 9 years since I first publicly blogged about how important I thought the principles of the metaverse and virtual worlds were going to be for both social and business uses. This post, pictured below for completeness was a tipping point for some radical changes in many of our lives as part of Eightbar.
Second Life first post
I had been working to that sort of point of understanding though since some very early work with virtual environments and how people get to interact with one another in them around 1999/2000 with SmartVR trying to keep the social bond in our internal web and multi media design group together when we were cast asunder to different locations by business pressures (or bad decisions who knows!). I knew we had to have a sense of one another existence aside from text in emails and instant messages. So we tried to build a merged version of both offices as if they were in one place. The aim to then instrument those with presence and the ability to walk over to someone’s desk and talk. Mirror world, blended reality and even internet of things, Yes I know, a bit before its time! Cue music, “Story of my life” by 1D 🙂

We definitely had a technology and expectation bubble later 2006-2009. However, that, as with all emerging technology is all part of the evolution. The garnet curve et al. What surprises me the most still is that people think when a bubble like that bursts that its all over. That somehow everything that was learned in that time was pointless. “Are virtual worlds still a thing?” etc. I feel for the even earlier pioneers like Bruce Damer, who patiently put up with our ramblings as we all rushed to discover and feel for ourselves those things he already knew.
Increasingly I am talking to new startup ands seeing new activity in the virtual space. The same use cases, the same sparks of creativity that we had in the previous wave(s), the same infectious passion to do something interesting and worthwhile. Sometimes this is somehow differentiated from the last wave of virtual worlds under the heading of virtual reality. The current wave is focussed on the devices, the removal of keyboard and of a fixed screen. The Oculus Rift, HoloLens etc. However, thats a layer of new things to learn and experience on what we have already been through. After all its a virtual world you end up looking at or blending with in a VR headset!

I spend so much time looking forward and extrapolating concepts and ideas it is now very scary to look back and consider the experience I have gathered. The war stories and success stories, the concepts and ideas that I have tried. The emotional impact of virtual worlds. The evolution of the technology and of people’s expectation of that technology. The sheer number of people that have moved around in a 3d environment from an early age with things like Minecraft, who are now about to enter higher education and the workforce.

So I am left in a slightly bemused state as to what to do with this knowledge. With this all going so much more mainstream again I am no longer working in a niche. Do I ply my trade of independent consulting chipping away in odd places and helping and mentoring some of the new entrants in the market or do I try and find a bigger place to spread the word?

At the same time though, knowing lots of things makes you realise how much you don’t know. The imposter’s syndrome kicks in. Surely everyone must know all this stuff by now? It’s obvious and stands up to logical reasoning to try and connect with other people in as rich a way as possible. The network is there, the tech is there, the lineage is there. Though clearly not everyone gets it yet. I often wonder if the biggest naysayers I had to deal with on my journey so far have figured it out yet? It will probably turn out they will be getting rich quick right now whilst I sit and ponder such things.

On the other side of the virtual coin, I know from my martial arts that constant practice and investigation leads to a black belt. In the case of Choi Kwang Do that’s just over 3 years worth. So how many Dan worth of tech equivalent experience does that put me at. 25 years in the industry professionally but 30+ as techie.

I still want to do the right thing, to help others level themselves up. I don’t think I am craving fame and fortune but the ability to share and build is what drives me. If fame and fortune as a spokesperson, evangelist for some amazing idea or TV show reaches that end, then thats fine by me.

I am at a crossroads, my VR headset letting me look in all directions. I see half built roads in many directions. What now? A well funded company that I can help build a great road with, or forge off down one for the other paths seeing what happens on the way.
Of course that makes it seem like there is a clear choice on the plate. I suspect most of the the well funded companies and corporations don’t think they need any help, which is rather where I came in on this!

Needless to say I am always open to conversations, offers, partnerships, patronage, retainers and technology evangelist roles. There must be a slew of investors out there wondering what to put their money into, who need some sagely advice ;). Or that book… there is always that book… (600 images x 1000 words each 600,000 words just on these Second Life experiences. That’s just the ones with online. The offline ones double that!. Not to mention the other places, games, and self built experiences!

I took this photo in April 2006 as part of sharing of our journey
The wilderness

I have always liked a nice greenfield to start building on. Equally that did not build itself, it was a massive shared team experience. No one has all the answers. Some of us are good at helping people find them though.

Right! Can we get on with this now?

Happy 6th Birthday Feeding Edge Ltd

It is now 6 years ago this month that I started Feeding Edge Ltd! 6, six, VI, Tasset, 3×2 etc etc. However you do the numbers the time has flown by. I like to look back at all the things that would not have happened, or would have been very unlikely if I had not left my then job of 20 years back in 2009. Of course I still do what I did then, with a lot more freedom to operate and explore. Of course it has downsides too. A corporate guaranteed regular high end salary pays for a lot of things, though you have no time to do them. A larger company has people able to cover you, to add to projects and to find other interesting projects. It does of course also have the chance to middle management to act in odd ways and for project scopes to be messed about by sales people.

So as a single person company I have to tread a balance between not over tendering or getting involved in too many projects, but also lay the foundations and seeds for other longer term chances. It is, as the photo about shows of my WWE wrestler a fight, with the chance of some scars 🙂
Right at the moment I am waiting on a multi year development project to kick off. Unity3d and lots of other stuff, it’s more of this. However, external organisations interacting, and being the end of the chain this process has dragged on since before christmas. It is my decision to stay with it, but commercially in the short term it is painful. It is a gamble as I could be spending time waiting for something that doesn’t happen. The previous phase of the project meant I had to technically leave Feeding Edge for a few months as the project did not accommodate “sub contracting”. This ended up just costing me personally as I got enrolled in a pension for a few months and I had left by the time I got any paperwork and never had a chance to reject the pension. Just one of those things.
However the worst feeling was not working for Feeding Edge. I was really, its still my company but officially on the tax books etc I was employed elsewhere on a sort of zero hours contract. I don’t think I will be doing that again. It just means more paperwork and less income 🙂
So while I am waiting I try and not go off selling my services or getting wrapped up in projects. I know full well if I do I will end up not being able to deliver either. There is no such thing as a short term piece of work for me usually as I get embroiled in the whole project very quickly. Quick contract coding no strings attached is not really my style.
So downtime between paying work is spent exploring, learning. I try to do something interesting and learn something everyday.
I am of course available to do other things like TV, Radio, Writing etc. In many ways they make the ideal counter balance for development work. When you are building things you tend to have to block time out to code. I gathered together all my Flush Magazine articles into a portfolio book recently. It was really interesting to see it as an entire body of work

That is only from a few years or writing, so maybe, just maybe I need to write a book after all? A different book to the one I expected to be writing about leaving corporate life 6 years again and telling all, and one that instead focuses on the style of writing I have arrived at with Flush, looking at past patterns and experiences and projecting them forward as a sort of Historic Futurism.
After an interesting twitter discussion with friends old and new today I was still as evangelical as ever about the metaverse and the exiting times ahead as VR and AR headsets demand virtual environments and it starts to become even more normal to expect that sort of interaction. It’s not going away, and neither am I!
Right time to go and get ready to learn and teach my chosen martial art Choi Kwang Do. For over 3 years now this has been a major part of my life and my families life. I have to share this picture as Sabunim Close came to visit Basingstoke CKD this week. He, at 17 was accepted to a Korean university to pursue a degree in Choi Kwang Do. He upped sticks and went there knowing full well it was the right path for him, as there rest of us did 🙂 It was great to see him return on holiday and come and visit us all. Pil Seung (certain victory)

CKD has provided the social contact that working at home and in isolation (despite lots of digital contacts) as well as re-enforcing my own guiding principles of trying to do the right thing and help people.
So, on top of. spending more quality family time, the freedom to operate, the chance to have done 3 series of kids TV, presenting to lots of groups of interesting people, exploring startup life, learning, exploring and building virtual environments I have achieved a life time ambition of a black belt (a life changing experience) and I also get to teach and mentor. Not a bad move was it in 2009 🙂

Dear BBC I am a programmer and a presenter let me help

I was very pleased to see that the Tony Hall the new DG of the BBC wants to get the nation coding. He plans to “bring coding into every home, business and school in the UK”. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24446046
So I thought, as I am lacking a full time agent in the TV world, I should throw my virtual hat in the ring to offer to work on the new programme that the BBC has planned for 2015.
It is not the first time I have offered assistance to such an endeavour, but this is the most public affirmation of it happening.
So why me? Well I am a programmer and have been since the early days of the shows on TV back in zx81/c64/bbc model a/b/spectrum days. I was initially self taught through listings in magazine and general tinkering before studying to a degree level, and then pursuing what has been a very varied career generally involving new tech each step of the way.
I was lucky enough to get a TV break with Archie Productions and the ITV/CITV show The Cool Stuff Collective, well documented on this blog 😉 In that I had an emerging technology strand of my own. The producers and I worked together to craft the slot, but most of it was driven by things that I spend my time sharing with C-level executives and at conferences about the changing world and maker culture.
It was interesting getting the open source arduino, along with some code on screen in just a few short minutes. It became obvious there was a lot more that could be done to help people learn to code. Of course these days we have many more ways to interact too. We do not have to just stick to watching what is on screen, that acts as a hub for the experience. Code, graphics, art work, running programs etc can all be shared across the web and social media. User participation, live and in synch with on-demand can be very influential. Collections of ever improving assets can be made available then examples of how to combine them put on TV.
We can do so much with open source virtual worlds, powerful accessible tools like Unity 3d and of course platforms like the Raspberry Pi. We can also have a chance to explore the creativity and technical challenges of user generated content in games. Next gen equipment like the Oculus rift. Extensions to the physical world with 3d printers, augmented reality and increasingly blended reality offer scope for innovation and invention by the next generation of technical experts and artists. Coding and programming is just the start.
I would love to help, it is such an important a worthy cause for public engagement.
Here is a showreel of some of the work.

There is more here and some writing and conference lists here
So if you happen to read this and need some help on the show get in touch. If you are an agent and want to help get this sort of thing going then get in touch. If you know someone who knows someone then pass this on.
This blog is my CV, though I do have a traditional few pages if anyone needs it.
Feeding Edge, taking a bite out of technology so you don’t have to.
Yours Ian Hughes/epredator

Wow for Wimbledon, a champion and some 3d printing !

I was going to write another reminiscing post about Wimbledon and the fantastic teamwork and effort that goes into delivering the tech there but I though I would be repeating myself.
However this year I can’t not mention Wimbledon for several reasons. The first is of course Andy Murray winning the whole Championship. The serendipity of it being 77 years since a brit won, combined with it being 7/7 that’s a lot of lucky numbers in a line 🙂
The predlets had got very into the tennis this year, but had forgot, or never been there to remember the 10 years I got to sit in the bunker there with the old company. They wanted to hear what it was like and some of the stories. One of them said “Dad, do you miss it?”. My honest reply was yes of course I miss the event and team of people that delivered it all. What I didn’t miss was the constant battles before the Championships that everyone who works there suffers. Wimbledon is a few weeks of intense work, generally in the corporate side of things it is not regarded as billable. There are some full time sports events guys and marketing people, but most of the UK team were willing volunteers and experts trying to carve time out of the normal work to do something high profile, risky and exciting. That meant anyone who was in control of your time felt they lost you for a few weeks. It also meant there were other people who may have felt jealousy or envy at the teamwork and comradeship the event still creates. Once the event is on people are pretty much locked in and doing something time dependent and high profile so have to be left alone. Once the event is done there can be some retribution, though at the same time people that have done the event are in high demand to be wheeled out in front of customers as a trophy expert. So the pattern is pretty much “you are not doing this… oh you are doing it…. well you shouldn’t…. can you please help us on this project with the expertise you have gained it will make the customer happy. Repeat.
The resilience of the guys and girls still managing to get there and do the job despite everything is as impressive as the effort itself. I hope the aftermath, with a british winner, is slightly softened though I suspect the any jealousy of the fact you were there when “it” happened may cause a noses to be put out of joint. 🙂
However, the thing this year that I was impressed about was that someone, somewhere had managed to get 3d printing into Wimbledon (something I didn’t manage in my time there though I did try 🙂 )
There are taking the data analytics and some social media feedback and 3d printing data souvenirs based on that “demand”.

I had somehow missed this as I was following more of the tennis matches this year than the press for the first time in a long while. So thanks to Andy Burns, who has managed to fight the wimbledon fight for some many years he may get his own statue, for changing his facebook profile picture to a 3d printed trophy which made me sit up and take notice.
Well done who ever managed to persuade someone to do something with this. A kindred spirit who I hope has had and will continue to have as much fun, sweat and tears at Wimbledon as many of us have had.