James Mead by James Mead

Week 228

This week we’ve continued to beaver away on the FutureLearn project. Although we’re making steady progress, I think the project still has a lot of challenges ahead.

One thing I think we’re struggling with as a team is how to best integrate visual design & prototyping with story-writing and the corresponding front-end & back-end development. Anyway, this is a bit of a perennial challenge in agile teams and the good thing is that our team is actively trying to figure out how to do it better.

Home and away

What with me based in Oxford and with James A due to spend an increasing amount of time in Austin, Texas, effective remote working needs to become an integral part of our company.

For quite a while we’ve had a laptop with Skype setup in the office auto-accepting video calls. The laptop is rigged up to a large monitor and a decent microphone which picks up conversation around our gaggle of desks.

The idea is that anyone working away from the office can dial in and setup a long-lived two-way Skype video call via which they can stay more in touch with what’s going on. It actually works surprisingly well with the remote person able to initiate or even join in casual conversations that probably wouldn’t make it into our Campfire.

A couple of weeks back we took delivery of a long-awaited wheeled monitor stand and James has rigged up the laptop and monitor on the stand. So we can now wheel a remote worker across the room to the sofas if we fancy a more informal chat. All we need now is motors for the wheels so the remote worker can move themselves around the room!

In related news, we’re thinking of having a play with Tom Taylor’s Project Looking Glass and we’ve started tinkering with Sqwiggle, although it doesn’t seem to cope well with communication between Camden and Camberwell.

Ruby in Oxford

On Tuesday I went to my second OXRUG meeting - five of us in a pub! Everyone has been very friendly and it’s interesting to talk to people with a different perspective on the Ruby community.

The organizer, Tom Close, has just been on the Lean Launchpad course run by the Oxford Business School which I was really interested in. Next he’s off to teach a bunch of recent graduates all about Ruby.

I’ve also learnt more about Jo Pott’s bookwhen service which allows you to take on-line bookings for events, courses, etc. Given our internal discussions about trying to develop a product, it’s good to talk to a developer who has bootstrapped a Rails-based product which is successfully bringing in revenue.

There seems to be a thriving techie community in Oxford and I hope to make it along to an Oxford Geeknight and the Oxford Hackspace sometime soon.

Anyway, that’s all from me for now. I’m not really here today - I’m on holiday!

Have a great weekend.

– James

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