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Ian Ozsvald picture

This is Ian Ozsvald's blog, I'm an entrepreneurial geek, a Data Science/ML/NLP/AI consultant, founder of the Annotate.io social media mining API, author of O'Reilly's High Performance Python book, co-organiser of PyDataLondon, co-founder of the SocialTies App, author of the A.I.Cookbook, author of The Screencasting Handbook, a Pythonista, co-founder of ShowMeDo and FivePoundApps and also a Londoner. Here's a little more about me.

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31 July 2005 - 14:27Collection of Entrepreneurial Tidbits

John points me at Where are all the UK start-ups?, a very interesting read with a heck of a lot of commentary from other budding entrepreneurs. This in turn inspired How to Build a Successful Web Startup in the UK – Part I (Part II online now) which has a slightly odd argument about how our class system holds us back. I don’t buy into this – points about fear of failure are made (which have some truth) and our environment is not one where there are many other entrepreneurial types floating around, so getting into the mindset is harder. But class? Nope, I disagree.

However – once you start down the road, most people are supportive. I’ve met a few naysayers, but they’ve mostly gone quiet once they saw I was getting on rather well with my ideas. Along the way I’m glad to say I’ve met a boat-load of like-minded people – they aren’t so hard to find, you just have to speak up a bit. The hardest bit is stepping out of the comfort zone, taking the plunge and then sticking with it. Working inside the supportive environment of the Sussex Innovation Centre has certainly helped.

My story: got frustrated with my permie Artificial Intelligence research/development jobs last January, quit, took out a loan for 3 months survival money (having no money in the bank – I’d just bought a flat), declared myself a ‘consultant’, then wondered what the heck to do next.

It was an interesting ride for 3 months from my birthday last April to actually getting my first paid Artificial Intelligence consultancy role, but I’ve not looked back. Being freelance now with a number of clients has taught me a new set of skills and it has given me the flexibility to play with my own ideas: CustomKnoppix recently with Duncan and the perhaps rather ambitious BookAnExpert (in preparation) now.

My take-home: if you want to do it, just get on with it. Crack on with the idea in your evenings and weekends, meet like-minded people, but most of all keep pushing it forward. No one else will push it for you, that’s for sure.

If you’re entrepreneurial and you want to chin-wag – feel free to get in touch. Contact details are in the About Me page.

Other stories of note: 37signals have a great entry on low-funded startups and earlier link to a How to Make Big Things Happen with Small Teams presentation. I particularly like their section “Build half a product not a half-ass product”.

No Comments | Tags: Business Idea

30 July 2005 - 16:55The Daily Grind

Jonathan Sanderson of The Daily Grind has the (dubious) honor of being the first person I don’t know to make a comment on my blog (regarding the UK-EFF idea). Cool! He points out that the OpenTech website has videos of the session where the UK-EFF pledge was discussed. 511 people are signed-up now, that’s over half-way in only a few days.

The sign-up is trivial, there’s no commitment to actually honour the £5 a month as and when the pledge is finished (though that’s obviously the idea) and the cause is a good one. With an EFF-like UK organisation heading up privacy issues for the public we stand a much better chance of not having the Government or companies push through ideas which are bad for our digital rights.

No Comments | Tags: Life

27 July 2005 - 15:25UK EFF Pledge

“I will create a standing order of 5 pounds per month to support an organisation that will campaign for digital rights in the UK but only if 1000 other people will too.”
— Danny O’Brien

Danny O’Brien is one of Need To Know the rather cool monthly tech/satirical IT update. He’s suggested that we in the UK need an equivalent of the American Electronic Frontier Foundation to fight for digital freedoms, that’ll include fighting software patents and stopping things like the DMCA from being established over here.

If you’re in the industry, you know the kind of threat these things means to anyone who’s not a corporation – a fiver a month is the equivalent of one jolly good night out per year and instead it could help make our digital lives easier for a long time to come. Danny is a long-running IT commentator and proponent of digital freedoms. He’s got my pledge, along with 424 others in only 5 days and I humbly suggest that he gets yours too. That’ll be my public service announcement for the day, normal service will now resume.

Addition: Dunc points out that the BBC have an article about his now too, cheers Dunc.
Addition: The Guardian Online are carrying an article on this today by Danny O’Brien, I hope many more people continue sign up.

If you’re a geek, you might want to check out the graph of sign-ups – it’s looking a little non-linear, interesting evidence of grassroots support.

2 Comments | Tags: Life

27 July 2005 - 15:06Lord of the Rhymes

These guys rock, their Lord of the Rhymes is a nerdcore Hobbit/Middle Earth parody of Tolkien’s finest. Check out the music video (large, 40.5mb download), it is amazing. The other mp3s aren’t bad, but the video is clearly the best. Turn it up loud.

I came across this nerdcore stuff via a Slashdot posting “Nerdcore Rap In The Press”. Some of the mp3s stuff over at Optimus Rhyme are pretty cool as well, though more geeky. If you’re a True Geek (and not easily offended) then these lyrics will give you a taste of what it’s all about.

No Comments | Tags: Life

26 July 2005 - 18:24Review: The Tipping Point (Malcolm Gladwell)


The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

The Tipping Point is damned excellent. It’s a real easy read with lots of insights on how little things can make a big difference. In one case (p. 96) two pieces of medical literature were delivered to students educating them about the benefits of a tetanus shot. In the first case the final take-up rate was 3% of the students, in the second case the rate shot up to 28%.

The difference? The addition of a map and details of the opening times of the medical centre – no change at all to the medical content or wording of the literature.

He also talks about the ‘strength of weak ties’ (p. 54), something that has become increasingly important to me over the last 18 months as I have developed Mor Consulting.

The results are a little old (a 1974 study titled “Getting a Job”) but nonetheless relevant: 56% of people interviewed found their jobs through a personal connection, with another 18.8% using formal means and the remainder applying directly. Of those that used a personal connection, 16.7% saw that contact “often”, the remainder saw the contact “occasionally” or “rarely”. Most of these people found their jobs through friends-of-friends or casual acquaintances. It’s all about the networking…

The book is an easy read, certainly suitable for the commute and packed with interesting stories and studies. A definite Thumbs Up.

1 Comment | Tags: Books

26 July 2005 - 17:34Eve launches TieTheKnotPictures.co.uk

Eve has officially launched her friendly wedding photography service – Tie The Knot Pictures:

Tie the Knot Pictures offers a fun and lively wedding photography service, guaranteed to capture all the best moments of your big day

I vouch not only for Eve’s professional and enthusiastic attitude, but also for the fun she brings to the job – she’s cool. And awww, if that isn’t Ed and Caroline on the front page. Good luck Eve!

Ed and Caroline

5 Comments | Tags: Life

18 July 2005 - 18:27How It Should Have Ended

Most excellent – go see the Star Wars Episode IV (that’s the original 1970s one) ‘alternative ending’. There’s also an alternative ending for The Matrix Revolutions (not bad, good critique) and Saving Private Ryan (a bit silly really). 5-15mb each, several minutes long.

No Comments | Tags: Films

17 July 2005 - 22:07Duncan’s new job

Dunc‘s got himself a new job in London – congratulations!

No Comments | Tags: Life

13 July 2005 - 21:46WP-ContactForm

I’ve just added an About Me page with obligatory mindless comment. I’ve also added the excellent WP-ContactForm contact tool, also on the same page.

No Comments | Tags: Life

9 July 2005 - 17:58WikiNews reporting on the London Blast

WikiNews, the open source news reporting site, has been reporting on the London Blast from 30 minutes after the first blast. The original 4 line article was published 7th July 08:24 (time is UTC/GMT, so -1 hour on BST), and updates then occur at 08:34, 08:36, 08:38, 08:41, … and on until the most current and comprehensive update (as I write) on 9th July 14:58 (which corrects information about casualties, see the differences between this and the previous version).

For me, what’s amazing is how the story was updated every few minutes for hours on Thursday, with many contributors adding details, quotes, hot lines and other information. I don’t know if the BBC reporting was as fast as WikiNews’, but it didn’t feel like it was being updated all that speedily. It’ll be interesting to see how WikiNews evolves as a news medium ‘by the people, for the people’.

No Comments | Tags: Life