Interesting Stuff Club
Our monthly catch up of what people are working on in their own time and where we share anything interesting we’ve read, seen, or been.
“I’ve been reading up on Twitter Fabric which is a mobile app framework that aims to make your life easier. It’s an accumulation of different tools, for example, Crashlytics is a crash reporting systems which also tells you how to debug your apps.”
“I’ve been experimenting with using RabbitMQ to make RPC (remote procedure calls). This doesn’t block up your web server when doing things like calling third party APIs or processing large files like we’re doing on Havells, but unlike a standard queue you can wait until you get a response back from the call. The other thing I’ve been reading about lately is that Firebase has been bought by Google, so I’m hoping that this might drive down the price.”
“I’ve been working a lot on AWS lately so my time has been mostly taken up with that, and flat hunting. I did make time to go to the Imperial War Museum at the weekend which was really interesting. I went to Buchenwald concentration camp when I was in Germany and that part of history and WW2 has always interested me, so was really good to see and hear more first hand experiences. I’ve read a few books from survivors this year already: one about a Polish woman who helped out the Jews, and another about a Jewish woman who was able to get fake papers, marry a Nazi officer and survived. Rachael recommended some more to me too, so I’ll feed back next time.”
“Eddy and I went to Epic FEL on 4th October, and found two particular talks quite poignant. One from the Government Digital Service which explained usability findings for select boxes. On certain apps, users struggled to enter their date of birth and didn’t understand what to do, but when entering their DOB in a text box, they had no problems. It was interesting to see assumptions on usability that we take for granted. The second talk to pique my interest was Leoni Watson’s ‘Making custom widgets accessible with ARIA’ as there’s a heavy focus on accessibility with our new project; Vote for Policies.”
“I’ve just started using the Beta version of a social analytic tool called SumAll with Twitter. You connect to a platform and it will send you breakdowns, and email notifications of your activity, such as few followers, engagement etc. It’s really interesting, as before, I would send a tweet out without knowing why, so I’d like to understand how, and why people engage.”
Something really interesting happing this week is Geek Mental Help Week. It’s a series of articles on the web to raise awareness of mental health in the industry. One article I particularly appreciated was ‘You are not a machine, you are not alone‘. Everyone assumes we’re robots; 100% fully focussed at all times, as creatives, having ideas flowing every minute of the day. It’s the same for problem solving, we’re not always able to solve problems. It’s not all about the person, or the problem, it’s about the moment or a chain of things happening in the mind.
Way back when I started university, our tutors recommended that we read the Edward De Bono books. On a recent trip up North to the homeland I found them again and thought I’d have another read. Lateral thinking encourages using routes other than the normal vertical path to problem solving, where one problem is solved before you move on to the next one. Lateral thinking encourages different routes to the answer, and also breaking away from the logical patterns we’re used to. This approach to problem solving can be applied to many disciplines, and often inspires different solutions that may not otherwise have been thought of.