Social

Measuring Impact vs Hours Worked

I was recently given the pleasure of having a tour of the FaceBook Campus in Menlo Park, California.

There are many stories of how amazing Facebook is and it didn’t disappoint. The campus is very much focussed around people. Some examples:

  • There is as much food as you will ever be able to eat and all food is free, breakfast, noon and night. There’s also a candy and ice cream shop that serves up free desert.
  • They have a retro gaming room
  • There is a bike stop that will repair your bike if you have cycled to work
  • One of the buildings has a roof top park where you can go sunbathe or just have a walk.
  • They have a beauty spar on campus that offers massage therapy and other spar treatments.

All of the services above are offered to employees for free; if you didn’t have anywhere to live as a Facebook employee I’m quite certain you could move onto campus and live for 2 or 3 months with no real difficulty.

What I found really interesting though is that the investment Facebook makes into its people doesn’t end here. The culture at Facebook is to work as and when you want to work. Employees don’t have set hours, they instead are tasked with work to do and are sent away to do it. Facebook doesn’t care when the work is done as long as it is.

Performance at Facebook is measured in terms of impact; as long as you as an employee are having impact on the organisation and are getting through the work that has been assigned to you everyone is happy.

The other really cool thing is that if something doesn’t work, or makes people miserable they change it. A great example: In the early days of Facebook code used to get pushed on a Tuesday evening so often engineers would work into the night. As a result people always felt sluggish and unmotivated on a Wednesday and didn’t want to focus on meetings. To address this all meetings were cancelled on Wednesdays and the day is now known as “No Meeting Wednesday”.

Speaking as a business owner the model portrayed above is a scary thought. The idea of saying to your staff work when, where and how you want to work but just get the job done is a great idea but conventional wisdom would say that it shouldn’t work. I mean, if people don’t have to work why would they choose to?

The fascinating thing is that not only does it work at Facebook, it clearly works brilliantly! Everyone I spoke to seems to have a common purpose, working towards the same goal; all part of the same team working towards the same end point. This is the culture that I really believe most companies can only dream of creating.

Having toured Facebook there are ideas I now have that I want to put into practice within our own working environment at Footsqueek; in some ways having seen it work at Facebook it feels like some of the ideas they have about there working practice is common sense.

One thing that really interests me (and also massively scares me) is the idea of letting staff work the hours required to do the job. Facebook would argue that there is no point being at work 40 hours a week if you can do the same work in 10 hours and also do it better because you are well rested and motivated having had a good massage.

If you are reading this the challenge I lay down to you is to look at working practices within your organisation and then ask your staff what would make like better. If they say working less do you have the guts to say “Ok, work when you want to work; just get the job done”? Even if you think that’s to extreme, I wonder want other changes would make your staff happier?

 

Categories: FaceBook, Social, Technology, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

iOSDEVUK Review 2016

IOSDEVUK is over for another year; our annual pilgrimage to Aberystwyth always end in a sad train journey home – all the better for the knowledge we’ve gained throughout the week.

As is tradition, here is my round up of the week and my very best bits!

Running A/B tests on your app using Firebase Remote Config and Analytics

Todd Kerpelman

Prior to iOSDEVUK I hadn’t come across Firebase. This tool is phenomenal and can do brilliant things that allow you to control detailed configuration of your app without the need to submit your app for an apple review. Watch out for a blog post tutorial soon showing how you can set it up in a basic project.
Todd was a brilliant speaker, very engaging. One of my favorite talks by far!

Diagnosing Allergies

Emily Toop

This was quite simply interesting. Emily sneezes a lot and is using iOS to track her sneezes in order to help work out what’s causing it. It’s a real world use case for how mobile technology can be used to collect high volumes of data, analyze it and then make use of it in the real world. If you get chance to listen to Emily talk about her sneezing I would highly recommend it.

I’m an Idiot

Richard Turton

Sometimes as developers it does us good to remember that we are all human, we all make mistakes, miss the blindingly obvious and ultimately we are all idiots …. Sometimes.
This talk reminded me that if we need help, we should ask for it and if we share knowledge the community is stronger for it. My take away message from the talk though was that under no circumstances should you ever try to be CLEVER! It always backfires.

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Steve Scott

Steve Scott

Scotty is a brilliant speaker! He has a habit of stating the blindingly obvious in a hilarious way. Scotty reviewed where we have come from as developers and where we are going to; the underlying tone of the talk was the fact that while iOS is a very rich place today for developers this is unlikely to remain the case forever. This changing landscape is part of evolution and even visionary entrepreneurs can’t predict the future! He also emphasised that sometimes people do get it right – can you believe that less than 40 years ago it was considered ambitious to have a computer on every desk, in every work place and in every home!
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Review of the Year

Dave Verwer

No-one knows the world of iOS like Dave Verwer, writing iOSDEVWEEKLY really does give him an insight into our world like no-other. The stats Dave is able to create showing who is reading iOSDEVWEEKLY are a portal onto the iOS Development Community that just blows you away. Brilliant speaker and in my view Dave is one of the cornerstones that makes doing what we do so interesting.

Dyson Hackathon

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This totally blew me away! I’ve been to hackathons before and they are always brilliant fun but then Dyson entered the room with 16 robotic vacuum cleaners! Words cannot describe how good this event was – I still say we were cheated as our balloon burst itself in the final battle, the stewards’ enquiry is still open in my eyes; but I’m not bitter.
Serious kudos though for a job thoroughly well done.

Conferences are an essential part of our learning as developers and have a huge impact on companies. I want to say a massive thank you to Chris, Neil, John and the team here in Aber; once again you have raised the bar and delivered a brilliant event!

So that’s it; iOSDEVUK is over for another year. If you can’t wait a whole year for another conference check out what we are doing in Chester 17th – 20th April 2017. CodeMobile is a brand new developer conference focusing on both Android and iOS Development. We need more events of this type in the community because when you bring developers together it really does create magic!

Categories: Apple, Conferences, Invention, Robots, Social, Technology | Leave a comment

Developer Conferences

If you’re anything like me then you will love a good developer conference! The opportunity to share and collaborate with like minded people is sometimes just what the doctor ordered to help make sure those creative juices are flowing.

Unfortunately, in the UK we seem to have a lack of events; especially outside of London. There are a couple of independent events like iOSDEVUK and a few others organised by the tech giants such as Microsoft and Google. The issue is that the vast majority of events tend to happen in the south, in and around London and often us up here in the North feel a bit left out.

I’ve recently been chatting about this phenomena to some of my developer friends and colleagues; and the conclusion we have come to is that if there are no conferences happening locally to help promote knowledge share and collaboration between developers, then the only solution is to set one up ourselves!

We got chatting with some friends; those friends made some introductions and the result is CodeMobile – a conference specifically created for Mobile Developers. The event will take place just after easter next year (18th, 19th and 20th April), is a 3 night residential and has 2 tracks, one for Android Developers and another for iOS Developers.

In creating the conference we’ve deliberately tried to make it as accessible as possible for developers from all backgrounds. The ticket price is as cheap as it possibly can be (Super Early Bird, £275 & £350 Full Price) which will hopefully allow Indie Developers who are not backed by big corporations to come along; and we’ve been fortunate enough to attract a plethora of speakers from both the UK and internationally.

Putting the conference together over the past few weeks has been an absolute whirlwind of an experience and I’m delighted we’ve had so much support and encouragement from within the developer community. We are now in the process of finalising the speakers list (there are still some great speakers to add to the list) and also confirm details before tickets go on sale on 1st September 2016.

As this is a new conference any help and support you can give will be very much appreciated. In particular we need help reaching out to developer networks and communities to make sure everyone is aware of the event. If you’re involved in a local meet-up or know any developers who might be interested a tweet mentioning the conference website or that tags those who might be interested would be hugely appreciated.

We’ve also opened up the possibility of winning some free conference tickets! If you want to be in with a chance then you just need to get your tweet on on follow the instructions on the Free Tickets page of the conference website.

I would love to hear any feedback about the event that you might have! Also if you have any speakers you would like to see at the event please drop me a line – I can’t promise but we will certainly reach out to those speakers and see if its possible to get them to attend.

My dream for this conference is that the developer community take ownership of it and that it becomes a true community event; to that end if you have any ideas or suggestions please drop me a tweet.

Once tickets go on sale please show your support by signing up to attend if you’re interested and able. It would be brilliant to see you at the event! You can also follow @codemobileuk on twitter, and find all related information on the conference website www.codemobile.co.uk

Categories: Android, Apple, Apps, Conferences, Social, Technology | Leave a comment

Social Media: Does it complement or detract from life?

Social media is key part of all of our lives and everyday it seems that something happens to reinforce its impact on our lives. It is estimated that the average person in america spends upwards on 37 minutes per day social networking and that 46% of web users are influenced by social media when making a purchase (https://www.marketingtechblog.com/2014-statistics-trends-businesses-social-media/).

During the social media boom around 2006 the younger generation (18-30) were by far the quickest to adopt the technology; but recently the largest growth has been seen amongst 45-50 year olds. I think its impressive how older generations are adopting the technology and making use of it in ways that I wouldn’t have even imagined.

Personally, what I find most interesting is that as older generations come on board it seems that the technology is being used more as an extension of social activity that is already taking place offline. One of the most vibrant Facebook groups that I am a member of is the `Consett and District Heritage Initiative. Consett has always had a large number of individuals interested in local history and groups such as this are extending activities that already take place offline to allow a greater number of people to get involved with the conversations and really bring history to life.

With social media being used in this way I wonder if critics ever had anything to be worried about when arguing that online social interaction was going to have a negative impact on real life social interaction. I find that my online life compliments and enhances my actual life and far from becoming more of a recluse it actually causes me to interact with a much greater range of people some of whom I would otherwise not have the opportunity to interact with.

Whats your experience of social media? Does it enhance or detract from your “real life”?

Categories: Social, Technology | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Rules on the golf coarse

I’ve recently started having golf lessons and I’m really enjoying it! I’ve been really surprised by how quickly I’m learning the sport and how quickly I’ve been able to see visible improvement.

As a result I’m spending more time at the golf coarse; something which is taking a little getting used to is the quirks of golf etiquette – “no trainers in the club house”, “no mobile phones on the fairway”. No one tells you these rules unless you break then – hence the fact that I’m now eating breakfast outside in my trainers – in fairness it’s warm enough but it has made me consider whether sometimes rules for the sake of rules becomes annoying.

It reminds me of a great online community started by a friend of mine, Andy Clark, while at university. “Stick it to the man” was all about breaking seemingly pointless rules that could never really be enforced and in reality didn’t matter “No Walking on the Grass”, “No standing on the bus”, “No birds”. Some of the photos are really inventive and you can still find it on twitter @stickit2_theman. Hope you enjoy 🙂

Categories: Golf, Social | Leave a comment

A Speech at the Wedding of the new Mr. and Mrs Roberts

Now this is technically nothing to do with technology (although it is very social). My best mate Mike Roberts got married yesterday and I thought it would be opportune to post a copy of my speech online ….. lets call it an act of public record 🙂

Ready Mike?

Now before I sit down …. As Mikes best mate I think it would be wrong of me not to break with tradition and say one or two words to ensure that the assembled company gets a full picture of the man that we all know fondly as Mike Roberts

I got to know Mike way back in 2005 when we both started University. We’ve got to know each other pretty well during that time and it also means that I have a number of stories that I could tell; some are very appropriate for an occasion as Mike and Keri’s wedding – and some I imagine he would like me to forget.

Having not planned this in any way ….. I have decided that I would like to share one story with you today – but I think it only fair that Mike should select the story that I tell.

So Mike …. I have 3 envelopes ….. would you like me to share Story 1, Story 2, or Story 3?

(Story 2 was chosen)

Story 2 – Amsterdam

During the 2nd Year of Uni Mike and I were given an opportunity through the Students Union to have a free trip to Amsterdam. Now, it would be fair to say that Amsterdam has a certain reputation; and it would it would also be very unfair for me to disclose everything that may or may not have happened on that trip – after all, for my own sake, and the fact that I value Keri as a friend, what happened in Amsterdam stays in Amsterdam – isn’t that right Mike?

Now Mike, to my knowledge has always been good, never done drugs or experimented with things that he shouldn’t. So as students of good standing when we in Amsterdam we decided to see the city by hiring bikes.

Now Mike and me have never been the most active of people – and riding around all day on a bike is probably not our idea of a great day out.

Fortunately, in Amsterdam the weary are able to rest and recover in one of the many “Coffee Shops” within the city. Now coffee shops have a certain reputation and Mike as a good Christian boy didn’t abuse his standing as a good student – but he did spot sitting on the counter a very nice display of cakes – he bought one ….. and the waitress very kindly pointed out it was buy one, get one half price …… and it would have been rude not to ….. right?

So he came and sat back with the group and started to nibble his cake when suddenly someone shouted, “its five to six, the bikes need to be back by 6 – we need to go”.

So not wanting to carry the cakes home, Mike picked up the first cake looked at it, shrugged his shoulder and in one big gulp, swallowed it whole. Not content with eating only one cake he then took the second cake it went the same way.

Announcing he felt fine, we left the coffee shop, got back on the bikes and off we go.

Now previously Mike hadn’t been a very enthusiastic rider but suddenly found new energy and took off up the road and quite a pace.

It would be fair to say that initially the bike was ”wobbling” a little bit. But the space cakes lived up to there name, the Bike stopped and without taking his feet off the pedals both Mike and the bike fell smartly to the left landing with thud on the pavement.

Mike wasn’t in a good way for the rest of the day – he managed to attend a meeting with the reps of the travel company – announcing in the loudest voice you’ve ever heard that couldn’t hear what the person at the front was saying, that’s the person who paid for the trip …. And he actually didn’t care.

He slept for a good part of the day in the “Hans Brinker Hotel where we were staying – and if you remember Mike this is the hotel that announced proudly on posters in reception ….. “New for 2007 ….. doors”

He did make it up later in the evening for a tour the city – but I think for the purposes of today this story has probably gone far enough …. After a few later tonight I’ll be happy to complete the tale should anypne want the full details.

On that note …. It is a shame not to share stories 2 and 3 – but I won’t – I want to take this opportunity to say that Mike is quite simply an amazing guy – the best friend anyone could wish to have and someone that I am very proud to have in my life.

When you met Keri it visibly changed your world, and it changed the world of those who know you best.

I think you’ve found a wonderful girl Mike and I can’t wait to get to know more of Keri’s family as the day goes on. On behalf of all of your friends in Chester I hope both yours and Keri’s dreams come true and that together you are able to go on and Change the world.

Love you both

Categories: Social, Travel | Leave a comment

@United Airlines: How not to do customer service

Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m the first to give credit when customer service works but also believe that when companies fail it needs to be pointed out so that they can improve for the benefit of everyone in the future.

This is especially true when a company is attempting to use technology to better assist customers – or in this example further frustrating customers by not using the technology effectively.

The background
I came to America for the Apple World Wide Developer Conference flying with United Airlines. The plan was to fly Manchester to Washington, Washington to Pheonix, Tuscon to San Francisco, San Francisco to Newark, Newark to Manchester. Lots of flights but I’d made sure that on every leg of the journey there was plenty of time for connections and was genuinely very excited.

What went wrong?
Now we all know that things do sometimes go wrong and sometimes it’s about how companies respond that can make or break the situation.

The first flight was great, we landed in Washington and everything seemed spot on. Unfortunately there was a short delay (2 hours) on the Pheonix flight but that wasn’t going to be a problem as we would still land in time for me to get the last shuttle to Tuscon.

We boarded the plane – unfortunately due to a technical fault we were left sitting on the Tarmac for 3 hours while engineers attempted to fix the issue. It became apparent that the fault could not be fixed so we were asked to get off the plane and head to an alternative gate a 30 minute walk away. We then boarded the new plane and were kept waiting a further hour while bags were transferred before finally taking off – landing in Pheonix around 7 hours late meaning I had to sleep in the airport for 4 hours as I had missed the last shuttle. My 24 hour journey became 35 hours

The flight from Tuscon to San Francisco was without incident.

Returning home was an entirely different story. First I arrived at San Francisco to be told that my baggage was over weight. Now this seemed odd to me as it was the same weight as when I arrived in the US – I hadn’t added anything to the suitcase.

The flight was initially delayed by an hour due to storms in Newark, they boarded us onto the plane and then made us wait on the Tarmac until takeoff. They openly admitted that we were going to travel in a smaller plane than originally planned but the jet they put us onto was not a suitable size for a 6 hour flight in my opinion.

On the way into Newark we were put into a holding pattern for 45 minutes before landing some 90 minutes late. The connecting flight to Manchester had also been delayed (i guess fortunately) by around 2 hours resulting in an extended travel time back to the uk.

Flights get delayed all the time?

This is true, and is not what has promoted this article; throughout my whole experience with United I have found them unreceptive, and unwilling to offer customer assistance and support.

What I expected vs what I got

I thought it worth while to publish some constructive feedback for United that may assist them in making sure that customers like me are happy in the future even if there is a delay.

1. Poor signage – on several occasions during the trip the airline failed to update the signs accurately often stating incorrect destinations on gates, or just not advising passengers what was going on. This just leads to frustration and confusion …. Get the simple things right.

2. Airline staff not present – when there is a delay we like to talk to someone in the know about what’s going on. My experience with united is that checking desks are typically unmanned with little or no information being posted. This leaves passengers frustrated and over time leads to angry customers – I witnessed one example of such frustration being taken out on a member of staff which could easily have been avoided.

3. Delayed in Washington for 6 hours meant that all of the passengers needed food. No one wanted to eat at 1am when we eventually took off so it would have been a nice gesture to offer passengers a meal voucher as compensation – nothing materialised.

4. United did offer a compensation of a reduced internal US flight to passengers on the Washington flight. Clearly no consideration here for international passengers. It would ave been better to ask passengers how they could help. I’d have been delighted if there had a shower available to use.

5. Don’t load passengers onto a plane until it’s ready t take off. Sitting on the tarmac is not a fun experience especially if its several hours before a long haul flight. If you are going to do this at least offer passengers a cup of coffee – it’s only polite!

6. This is where technology hits. United have a Twitter account @united that claims to offer customer service to passengers. I tweeted @united several times during my trip and found that they tended to ignore me. Now I admit I maybe sent a few to many tweets, but the irony is that the more they ignored me the more I tweeted. If you are going to use social media as a means of customer service then you need to engage your passengers; asking what they can do to help and then ignoring the response only infuriates people. I would have settled for an apology, maybe a free cup of coffee?

They asked me what they could do so I tweeted back “give me an upgrade, or a refund” at least answer and say that isn’t possible and offer an alternative – as it stands I have the impression they were only paying me lip service and never actually intended to do anything which begs the question why are they using twitter at all?

7. If a bag is heavy on the way out charge for it then ….. If you carry the bag out of the country you surely have a duty to bring it back?

8. Always make sure there is a meal on a long haul flight. There wasn’t one from San Francisco to Newark – 7 hours including the delay is to long to go without food.

Now I’m not saying that doing all of the above would have made me happy about the delay; but I would have walked away thinking that @united had done all they could to make the situation better and that they cared about me as a customer.

As it stands I’ve left thinking that @United Airlines actually couldn’t give a stuff about me or how their failures have impacted my trip. I’ll certainly avoid flying with @united in the future and I wold strongly encourage others to do the same.

Maybe the true test of United’s customer service is how they respond to this article. Will they take on board the suggestions? Issue an apology? Admit they got it wrong? Do @United actually care?

Have you had any good or bad airline experiences? Maybe you to have flown United – what was your experience? Comment on the blog or tweet @United to let them know!

Categories: Customer Service, Social, Travel | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Meeting People through the use of Technology

When I arrived in San Francisco on Sunday I didn’t really know anyone and had no plans for the day. I had been using a great app called Glassboard to share ideas and experiences with other attendees so posted a message asking if anyone else was at a loose end.

Within a few moments a message popped up from another developer also free and very quickly we ended up heading out for some lunch.

A similar thing happened on Monday, someone posted on Glassboard looking for people to have dinner with, within 30 minutes 12 people had congregated in the foyer of Moscane West and we all headed out for an Indian.

In both of these cases technology has enabled me to become more social, had I not had access to Glassboard I might well have ended up eating dinner alone and wouldn’t have made new and exciting connections.

It seems to me that social media is often viewed in he wrong way. People often consider that technology is causing people to become less social and live their lives online but the more I use social centric technology the more I realise that this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Has technology helped you to be more social recently?

Categories: Apps, Social, Technology | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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