Going for a UBER ride

I’ve lived in London for a while and from a start the city is well known for it’s ways of transportation. You have the tube, an impressive metro system, Double Deckers, Black Cabs… The red telephone/teleportation boxes.  You have to act smart to have a take on such a vast array of choices… Or you have just to create a market!

The truth is London is cocktail of nationalities with very distinct social status. Every neighbourhood comes with council houses and posh high streets, an excellent equilibrated urban design. The sad truth is that you have a lot of poor people living in the city that earn less than 15K per year, living right next to the rich. Middle class is the society main fortune!

And this is where London tech scene gives the kick. All you hip coders, ninja designers, awesome marketers, aspiring entrepreneurs represent the middle class. You are hard working, ambitious and focus on achievements. So you must reward yourself and be a good spender.

Yesterday I’ve seen on Meerkat a conference where some guy explained that slowly every gadget from Space Odyssey, Star Trek and Minority Report becomes real. I would say on a different level every gadget that once was destined for the rich is coming to the everyday supermarket. Take back seat tv’s for example, once only available in a Bentley, now on every 60$ tablet.

The people want to mimic a wealthy lifestyle, so if you do a product that can do that for less, you hit the jackpot. A personal chauffeur (I intentionally use this fancy word) is a special treat when it comes to commute to work. You get out of the car, salute the secretary with a big smile and enter your office with full confidence.

Uber’s success is based on this fact, even the name (uber = above, beyond, over) is subconscious screaming this feeling. And it’s a righteous title indeed, I’ve talked with some of the drivers and I was pleased to hear good feedback.
A common thing that all the ‘interviewed’ people was that they choose their work hours. A flexible schedule is an employee dream, specially if you have a family.
Others pointed out that they have generally polite customers, that make them feel good and less stressful compared to the cab users. I rather think this one is about ethics, no one is scared about bad rating. If you travel in style you must act in style, it makes sense!:)

I tried to find out if there is something bad about this new system and slip a question in hope for some flaws, gossip and bad experiences with Uber. I was surprised. The only thing that worries is not that this will fail, but that a new smarter and cheaper way will rise up, leaving Uber old fashioned. First I nodded naive, but then I immediately I thought at small EV self driverless cars.

What is happening now is only the beginning, there are more industries waiting to be disrupted by the internet than you think!

Getting a rent in Amsterdam

I remember even now – I was in Geneva visiting a friend at CERN and I got an email: ‘When you’ll be able to start?’ I said: ‘On monday, no problem!’. Booked a room on AirBNB and took a flight to Amsterdam to start the new job.

Little I’ve knew about Amsterdam renting situation, and to be honest I did not care at that time. But if we think logically and take in mind:
1. The big job marketplace the city offers, more and more big companies like Sonos, Nike, Booking.com, Microsoft, TomTom, Xerox & more. Already we have a big crowd of folks that need housing. Keep in mind that the new Dutch trend in apartments is building them directly on water.
2. Foreign students University of Amsterdam that love to learn in such a vibrant city. They often stay in the west, an area called Westerpark and if they don’t get lucky finding an apartment, plenty of shipping containers are available! (Keetwonen buildings)

3. And last but not least the avalanche of happy tourists that Amsterdam has to face. I was talking with a landlord that owns three apartments, he was renting them per night at tourists. Despite often having no clients in the weekdays, the weekend makes up for that. Being more profitable than renting at a ‘per month’ basis.

Despite all these, I went against the grain searching for a rent. Usually a good place to start is Kamernet.nl and Marktplaats (a general marketplace owned by ebay). Besides this you have the usual Craigslist, really poor and expatriates.com, a place that I personally felt like a sitting duck for ridiculous ‘newcomer’ prices.

On Kamernet you register for free, but afterwards find out that you need to pay a small fee to access the ‘Early Bird’ ads. The ratio of private vs agency ads are at a decent 50/50.
After I found out my postcode and get along with the peculiar way of the website I managed to get some showings. I was mainly targeting a studio, but a large room in a shared house. During this time, I could not stay anymore at the airbnb room I previously got, but I was fortunate enough to find an apartment via one of our art director’s friend. It was in De Krommerdt, a muslim area becoming a overrun by hip kids. I paid the usual airbnb price (around 850€ per month) and had to take care of two cats.

Round One: The first place I viewed was on Spuistraat, meet up with the gatekeeper at a bike rental shop. It looked like an ex brothel, really dirty and crappy. A direct NO!

Round Two: A Room in a shared flat owned by two sisters. I went confident to see the room and ended at an interview session along other 7 (yeah seven!) people that were interested. We had tea, talked about our life, beliefs, the opacity of the window shades and how firmly you have to push the toilet button to get a proper flush.
After one hour and a half I excused myself and left, on my way I noticed my name was on an excel file. I was the 26th person interested in the room – It was clear I could not have a chance!

Round Three: A cramped studio on the 6th floor in a building with no elevator. I just imagine I will end up falling asleep on the stairs around the 4th floor after a hard night out!

(…)

Time went so fast and I had only a week left on my current stay. I remember I walked down the canals looking at boathouses and a couple of parked motorhomes. Fantasizing how cool is to live on a boat, park near your job place and sail away on weekends:)
I took a leap of faith and had another try, it was the 7th place I assume. A fairly large studio in De Pijp, a nice area with a lot of bars, caffee’s, a recordshop and one of the busiest street market of the Netherlands, the Albert Cuyp Market.
I had a bad day with an awful tootheach, I meet with Agnes, a nice lady in charge the building. She was also an astrology teacher at the Uni, passionate about arts galleries, typography and the vibrant scene in Amsterdam. We had kind a long chit-chat about this subject. Next week I moved in.

It was the perfect place, a big room in a typical dutch building, a fully equipped kitchen, large balcony with bbq spot and a market full of goods at 3 minutes distance (yeah, I love to cook!) – All these for the hefty price of 930€ (bills included). But I enjoyed at the best of Amsterdam and I have followed an old saying ‘When you choose a place in a city, choose to stay in a place near the center!’

This is not an uncommon situation, in every crowded city finding a rent it’s not a pleasing process. You must get to the place several weeks early, book a costly hotel or find a friend with a generous mattress and them surf the city to showings.
This got me inspired to start working on Eyeball.it with a couple of friends, a startup that takes the stress of finding and booking rent. The agent makes a HD virtual tour of the property with the phone and presents it to the future tenants via a video conference.
We just launched the Test Drive website and we already have the first customers on the beta to help us shape the product. If you have questions or felt the same problem, write us a line!

The hottest job boards around

Freshie after college looking for a junior role or you had that talk with your parents? Well you need a place to start, add experience to that blank linkedin account. These are the best job boards, hand picked, 90% recruiter free, with jobs starting from marketing, design, front-end to full stack dev.

 

The FWA Job Board - The coolest of the bunch, FWA was for a long time the joining point between cutting edge web dev and advertising. If you are into HTML5, WebGL, canvas, motion design for web, this is your number one bookmark. On their job board you can see a lot of cool companies from Europe and US. Be aware that they are working on it 7 day per week, so you can check for updates even on sundays!


 

 

Hyper Island JB - I would really want my kids to learn at hyper island, their main headquarters are in Stockholm and they are one of the first learning facility to adopt UX classes. I am keeping up with their projects and I am really amazed the mix between creativity and technology. You don’t have to be a HI graduate to access their job board, but it a must to keep an eye over it, there are a lot of good companies that share the same vision and post their openings here.

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You must heard of Awwwards, one of the main resource for coolness when it comes to digital design. They have a job board too, and the neat thing is that you see a lot of nice companies like North Kingdom, Tool USA, FIELD, Stinkdigital, Resn, etc

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It’s Nice That Job Board  (now called ‘If You Could Jobs’) – A typical board with colourful jobs, they are a few recruiters around, but you will notice them quickly. It is freshly updated, most jobs are from London.

Screenshot 2014-03-30 03.09.53


 

 

 

Work in Startups - I can put WiS as somewhere between an internship board and a junior position. There is are plenty UK startups, from food business to online platforms, social networks. I always check to get into the feel of the new startup ideas.

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Techjobs in London techjobsin.london – is actually a twitter aggregator, but a pretty damn useful one. To get your advert posted, just tweet at @riklomas with details and this nice guy will post it, free!;)

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ADJobWall is a tumblr blog dedicated to the Intern niche. Although you can be young and restless I advise you: Do not apply if it’s a unpaid job! Hopefully most of the posts are from fully integrated advertising agencies, so they have enough resources to pay you the proper buck!

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This one is one of my oldschool fav’s! I remember the times that I was in London, when I ran out of money to pay the rent, this board was the savior for quick freelance gigs. Design Jobsboard aggregates most of the openings in London and beyond.

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It looks like from the 90’s and I frankly don’t know nothing what’s Design & Design website about, neither clicked on the other tabs. But they have a great (and updated) list of jobs. Besides the usual UK and NL, it was interesting to see a lot of french, polish, german and italian adverts.

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DSGN JBS like the name is a board focused on design only, it seems to catch the dribbble and Behance feed also.

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Amsterdam has an impressive advertising scene, a great bunch of digital and production agencies. But I must prevent you, you must be hard working to catch up with the duchies! :)
A good thing that not all of companies are Dutch only, most of them are comfortable with english and will help you out learn dutch during after work drinks. Check out amsterdamadblog.com/jobs/

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Creative Pool has been for a while filling the digital HR sector in the UK. Check out their job section at creativepool.com/jobs

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Hello Digital TV/Radio

The Big fish eats the little one, that’s the same story with tech this days. The smartphone made it’s move, once a phone, now took over the web, photography, maps, text messaging and many more. There are a few things that need some fixing like VR (Samsung is doing some serious effort on it), but still a big screen cannot be replaced.

Digital TV is a wild market these days, Roku, Amazon, Apple, Sony, Google… everyone is pushing hard to get your big screen in their platform. Chromecast is definitely an open choice, I like the way that is more a computer extension rather than a TV. It’s insanely easy to install, you have a lot of services compatible and never the less, you can stream a chrome tab.

If Chromebook is a browser that you can hold in hands, chromecast is a tab that you can plug into your TV (I explained this way to my parents). But there’s more, recently TuneIn Radio became available on chromecast. Making 100,000 real radio stations accessible on such a small device, at a push of a button… (on Tunein app, of course).

This made me thinking of a way to make my own digital radio/tv… or let’s say media device:) I went to my workshop, dig out an old VGA display, stripped out of all the plastic parts and started to make a slick wood box for it. To link the chromecast to the system I bought a digital-to-analog splitter and I wanted to have as few cables possible, so I got a 220V USB supply.

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On the way As my box is minimal, I don’t have an on/off switch on it. It’s set up at the lowest/ECO mode, but still turning off needs unplugging from the outlet. I am setting up an arduino + a relay switch + motion sensor to turn it on when I am around, like Nest thermostat is working to manage your heating.

Play on hover webm

If  for some reason do you want to make a website full of tasty, perfectly compressed WEBM thumbnails (and you should), you need to make them play on mouse over.

I used this on Bootstrap on fruitjuice.io. Check it out!

 

 

Pixelapse review

Rumors across the village where saying an Ex-Googler (such a juicy cliche) builds a github for designers. So I hopped into my 76 Camaro and took a ride to check it up!

Well open source is definitely good, Tesla recently took the leap and opened their electric car patents and Google is having a similar policy on their android. Going open source is another way of saying: Ok, let’s go f**king forward! Github was one of the best things ever, it taught me to learn programming by doing it, not by blaming myself I didn’t studied enough. Stackoverflow gaved me the right answer in the exact timing to finish my projects.

Design on the other side has kinda different background rather than coding, it is linked to art, a domain that has a big secrets. Golden rules, secret painting tricks, posh schools and masters teaching you great techniques. When design met up digital it could not use this anti-progress system, so ready-to-use tools like webfonts, icon pack, wireframing softwares emerged.

Dribbble made by Rich Thornett made a first step, creating a portfolio platform where people where encouraged to ‘rebound’ other people work, collaborate and do awesome stuff together. Lets say Andrew made a cool illustration, the next John takes it into After Effects and make an awesome animation. This is what dribbble was all about, but sharing your source files by default in your own small cloud is another level.

Besides the ‘make the world a better place’ idea it’s one hell of a deal. You get infinite version control, so you don’t need to worry about dropbox anymore, as long as you keep your files open source. The desktop app is clean and straight forward and on the web account it can parse and create jpg’s from your files. I am wondering, maybe soon some wireframing features like Invision’s app would be possible.

What do you think about Pixelapse? Would you open source your past projects for the good of mankind?

 

Reporting from my Camaro,

Your’s trully,

Felix

Making music in JavaScript OMG

There are few things that really got my attention lately but this is one of it. To cut it short, this is WavePot, a web app designed to ‘code’ music. As it’s far for becoming a real DAW it has some potential, they decided to crowdfund the development and divide it in milestones.

Screenshot 2014-10-24 10.39.46

Give it a try, you’ll find it very familiar to Sublime or Brackets, just double click on the projects and hit play. I am eager to see how would work connected to a midi device via websockets.

For more  info about web audio I  found Jan Monschke talk really interesting via JSconf.

Link: WavePot

Finger Tracking

Now this is a feature we were always waiting for on kinect.

 

Smart traffic light

From the series of ‘What are my colleagues doing’ I present you the Smart traffic light installation. A while ago at Minivegas we had a brainstorm meeting about how we can make the waiting on the traffic light more fun and safe.

The idea was to make people dance, track their movement using kinect and make the red man dance, literally. The rest does not need any comments, just enjoy the featured video below.

Congrats to the team for such a nice project!

Wiki House in webGL

Today I’ve exported the v3 open source file and converted into a OBJ to import in Clara.io.

It’s nice to get the idea of how it looks without installing sketchup in your computer.

Please be patient, it will take a bit to load.

WIKIHOUSE