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?


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Who are you voting for?

I don’t usually come out in support of political parties but I’ve decided to make an exception.

On 18th April when the election was announced if you had asked me (and some people did) who I would vote for I gave a very clear answer that I was voting conservative.

Over the past 6 weeks I’ve sat back and listened to the debate and I can say for the first time ever tomorrow I am confidently and assuredly voting labour. Here are a few of the reasons why I’ve come to my decision.

1. The economic argument. Austerity no longer makes sense, every business knows that borrowing money to invest in growth is a sound and logical thing to do which pays dividend in the future. The trick is making sure that the investment is sound. I haven’t heard anything to make me believe that labours way of thinking isn’t sound – investing in education for example will ensure that the future generation have the skills needed to drive our future economy without being burdened by debt.

2. When you look at Corbyns record over the past 30 years he has at every turn been proved to be on the right side of history. LGBT rights and the the Iraq war are 2 very clear casing points. His stance on nuclear weapons currently is unpopular but I’m starting to think that perhaps history will portray a different view.

3. The election campaign – to me its very clear that Corbyn has treated the public with respect and dignity. Compare this to the arrogant campaign run by the conservatives that just assumed increasing their majority was a formality. I think May treat the whole country with contempt and on that basis she doesn’t deserve my vote. The conservatives have also argued that the labour manifesto isn’t fully costed – read the conservative manifesto and ask yourself where are the costings?

4. In treating the public with contempt it is clear that the conservative manifesto hasn’t been thought through. As a result when it has been scrutinised it is clearly full of holes. If May wants my vote she needs to show what she will do if she gets it and the manifesto is shamefully lacking – this has resulted in multiple U turns and changes to policy. Yes those changes have been downplayed but it has been clearly demonstrated that the policies don’t stack up.

5. The NHS – I really believe it won’t stand another 5 years of tory cuts – it will implode in on itself. Investing in the NHS will provide for our future and our children’s future; we need to find money to help the NHS to prosper. I don’t believe this will happen with a conservative government.

So there you have it, 5 reasons I’m voting labour. I never thought I’d hear myself say this but I really hope that by Friday morning we have a labour majority government and yes I would be happy with Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister!

Bring on the vote!

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Apple Bend Gate: Still an issue

Many of you will remember the apple bend gate issue that effected the iPhone 6 just after its release. Widely reported in the media that iPhone 6 bends unnaturally with very little pressure


Apple at the time played down the issue but eventually publically stated that any affected devices would be replaced.

Fast forward 12 months

My friend Jez Gilmour got a new apple iPhone 6 – he dropped it down the side of my sofa last night and when he retrieved it the phone had inexplicably bent.

I assured him that this was a known issue with the device and we promptly took it to the Apple Store in the Trafford Centre, Manchester.

The genius inspected the device, checked with his manager and informed us this was NOT covered by Apple warrenty – the only way to get a replacement was to pay £270! A lot of money especially when the issue is known to apple!

At the time of bendgate apple reported that a mere 9 users had been affected by the issue – how many users have had the same response as us? Surely though normal use no phone should bend?

Please let me know if you have had a similar experience – we need to ensure that large corporations can’t get away with going back on publically stated promises just because it’s no longer headline news!

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A Social Review of 2015

So in a follow up to my social review of 2014 I thought it worthwhile to continue to trend and take a look back at 2015 and highlight what has been making the news particularly in the world of Apple. There have been some big technological changes and advancements in 2015 but I think the big thing that is holding us back is mass adoption.

1. Apple Watch Arrived

It seems like a long time ago now but the Apple Watch was finally released to the public. The watch had been rumoured as far back as 2011; and when it was announced in September 2014 it lived up to the hype but we still couldn’t get our hands on it! It wasn’t until April 2015 that I finally got my hands on one but many had to wait several months while Apple processed the back orders.

It still hasn’t changed the world though – it is now the best selling smart watch on the market but it hasn’t received mass adoption. I am still one of only 5 people that I know who has one which even in terms of my friendship circle is a very small percentage. 

The watch is brilliant though; it’s the first smart watch that I have religiously worn on a daily basis. That said I’m probably not alone in that I use a very small fraction of the features. I love that Micky Mouse tells me the time, and it’s very useful to see when my next meeting is. The Taptic feedback on google maps has come in handy on a couple of occasions and the ability to read text messages without getting my phone out of my pocket is helpful. Sending my heartbeat to the other 4 people that I know with a watch was fun for 5 minutes, and the ability to send drawings amused me for a few hours but in reality these gimmicks while good for show stopping media launches have little value to the long term use of the product.

The big question is whether it’s prohibitive price tag will ever allow it to become mass market? I hope that it does but I fear if there isn’t a drastic increase in adoption during 2016 it may simply become an apple fringe product at best.

2. New Apple TV

Again this was very overdue, rumoured and promised for years but finally this year we got our hands on the new Apple TV. Apple very kindly gave Apple Developers a new box for free and it hasn’t disappointed. It seems the uptake is healthy and the feedback seems generally positive. The TVOS App Store still has a very small number of apps but I guess this is to be expected. 2016 will see an explosion of apps and I’m optimistic that the future of Apple TV will see it challenge the games console market.

3. IPad Pro

Sticking with the Apple Trend Apple launched the iPad Pro. To say I’m septical about the need for a bigger iPad would be a huge understatement; that said I’m writing this article on one and it has to be said I find it much more comfortable to use that either the iPad Air or the iPad Mini. My issue with it is that it is largely a laptop replacement and that’s how I’m using it! It feels to me like it needs to have a greater range of software abilities and iOS is a little limiting on the device. That said I don’t subscribe to the need to have a full version of OSX on the device and I’m not sure that would work well. Maybe iOS needs to morph into iOSPro or similar? And it’s definitely time that Apple dealt with the issue of file management within their flagship mobile operating system.

There have been other steps forward, Apple Music launched with great hype; as expected we got a new iPhone (6s and 6s Plus) the next generation of OSX also has some nice enhancements. I still have the feeling that Apple are riding the crest of a wave though – they are still the most profitable company in the world but somehow in the mix of all of these new products I still continue to want more from them. I don’t know what I want but whatever it is I feel it needs to do what iPhone did back in 2007 and change the world!

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HTML Elements

It seems to me that everyone can build a website! Some people build websites better than others; many use outdated technologies or haven’t stayed up to speed with web standards and the latest developments within HTML5 jQuery and the like – but none the less building websites and adding content to the web is easier than ever.

I recently came across this periodic table of valid HTML elements. So if you’re building websites; aren’t sure if the tag you are using is allowed; or just want to explore your knowledge of HTML markup take a look! You never know you might just find a tag that you didn’t know existed and it might solve a problem that has been bugging you for months. Enjoy!
If you want more information on any of the elements check out W3C.

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iOSDEVUK – My Favourite Bits!

So last week was the fifth @iOSDEVUK and what a brilliant week it was. Its always good to meet up with everyone in Aberystwyth and to share ideas and experience so that as a developer community we can learn to build better apps that surprise and delight our users.

I thought I would do a brief roundup of my highlights of the week and share one or two things that I learnt along the way.

Creating Usable Apps – Maxim Cramer (@mennenia)

This was by far one of my favourite sessions. Maxim looked at how developers should engage users in the development process and how that feedback can be used to improve apps. The session was very hands on and it was great opportunity for us to get some feedback on the new @chestersu app that we’re building and also to input and provide feedback on the Capital One iOS app. Great learning and incredibly useful.

#TopTip, get a user to test your app today – go up to someone in a coffee shop and ask them to do something on your app and watch what they do! Remember to tell the user that we are testing the product though; and not them!

iOS top trick – Chris Ross (@darkrock)

This just goes to show that you can always learn something new about the platform you use everyday. I can’t believe I didn’t know this before Chris featured it in his lightning talk – if use the panorama feature on your iphone you’re used to taking panoramas left to right. Did you know you can take a panorama right to left just by tapping the arrow to change direction?


Doing Mobile at facebook – Simon Whitaker (@s1mn)

I’ve seen Simon talk a number of times and he never fails to disappoint. His talk on facebook explored a whole myriad of things from development practices, how Facebook handles scale and the problems associated with this and not forgetting the fact that the facebook mobile app is over 100Mb because it contains 18000 classes. Brilliant value and great talk!

Selfie Ideas – Chris Wilson (@abitofcode)

Who knew that if you take a selfie through a loo role you would look like the moon! #toptrick and great lesson! #tryit


Magic Transitions – Shawn Welch (@shawnwelch)

This really is useful; the library developed by square allows users to create magic transitions similar to keynote. Once this is open sourced I think we’ll start to see some really cool transition effects coming to iOS apps #cantwait.

Core Data Multithreading – Marcus Zarra (@mzarra)

Marcus is always fantastic value; I’ve seen him talk about core data 3 or 4 times and I always come away having learnt something new. This year the talk was all about multithreading and how it is now possible to create multiple Persistent Store Co-Ordinators across multiple threads. If you need to know more about Core Data read his books! #Brilliant

So that was my favourite moments from @iOSDEVUK – as always I could have written about so much more; from the new friends made at the conference dinner to the annual Rummers reunion that must surely be about to enter mythical legend.

Huge big up to everyone involved with organising the event; can’t wait for next year!

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A perplexing keynote

So Apple held there September Event on Wednesday and I’ve got to be honest; I’m a little perplexed. If you haven’t seen the keynote you can watch it here 

The rumours by en large proved true; the new Apple TV complete with SDK is definitely a welcome addition to the line up; and the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6SPlus isn’t exactly a revelation. I laughed when Tim played the iPhone video as I genuinely believe they could have used the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in place of the new devices on screen and no-one would have noticed.

There were 2 things in the keynote though that left me wondering why.

First off; MICROSOFT! What were they doing? I had visions of the Steve Balmer Developers, Developers, Developers moment being repeated – surely Microsoft don’t believe that if Mohammad won’t go to the Mountain then Microsoft must go to the developers?

Its more than that though – I can accept the argument of the two companies “burying the hatchet, and Microsoft not feeling the need to compete; but in allowing Microsoft to present Office on the iPad Apple in my eyes have effectively acknowledged that the Office suite is a superior product to iWork and in some ways have abandoned Pages, Numbers and Keynote.

The second why moment in my view relates to the new Apple Surface …. sorry iPad Pro. That thing is huge and well expensive! I may well come to eat my words, but why would you want to have a tablet that size? For me I’d have preferred them to keep the existing overall size of iPad but introduce a thinner bezel to maximise screen real estate.

Then, there is the Apple Pencil – need I say more than to quote Steve Jobs “If you see a stylus, they have got it wrong” – #notconvinced; that said I’m sure some artists and graphic designers may find it useful, I just don’t believe its right for the mass market.

So there you have it; Apple have gone mad – well maybe not mad, but it strikes me that they are once again struggling to innovate.

I believe they don’t really know what to do next with iPad and are floundering for its next big success. For me they just need to slow down a little; there isn’t a need to have a brand new iPhone every year, and certainly not a brand new iPad – I’m not saying never refresh the product again; just take some time out and then introduce something new and innovative to the market.

Its time for them to take a risk and I fear if they don’t perhaps we are going to see that they have already ridden the crest of the wave and are about to watch the wave break over cupertino and the apple campus.

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QR Codes

At Footsqueek we have recently been doing a lot of work with QR Codes. We are using them as an educational tool to allow schools to make wall displays much more interactive.

A couple of years ago QR codes seems to be everywhere, on every high street, on business cards, in shop windows, and on membership cards to name but a few. Recently they seem to have been less prevalent and i’m wondering why that is – has the technology been and gone so quickly?

Perhaps people are looking for technologies to make their lives easier – having to reach into your pocket to get your phone to scan something seems easy enough but maybe its viewed as to much effort or to consuming to really make life easier. After all do we really need to see the content that is linked to from the QR code.

I still speak to countless individuals who have no idea what a QR code is or how to use one – on that basis maybe the technology piqued before its time.

That said we still find it useful in an educational context so maybe there are some specific markets – are you using QR codes? How do you use them?

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