Ian Ozsvald picture

This is Ian Ozsvald's blog (@IanOzsvald), I'm an entrepreneurial geek, a Data Science/ML/NLP/AI consultant, author of O'Reilly's High Performance Python book, co-organiser of PyDataLondon, a Pythonista, co-founder of ShowMeDo and also a Londoner. Here's a little more about me.

High Performance Python book with O'Reilly

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ModelInsight Data Science Consultancy London Protecting your bits. Open Rights Group


25 November 2007 - 19:02£5 App is “Rock n’ Roll”

Hot damn – we’ve just been reviewed by ex-pat Automatic Romantic and our £5 App meets get a stunning write-up:

“Then again, I look at their Flickr stream and the general feeling of lash-up : Projecting onto a whiteboard in a room that looks like it’s either in the throes of serious refurbishment or spiraling down into dereliction (and taking some beautiful antique plaster ceiling roses with it), the beer drinking and eating cake out of foil, the hair, the art, the air of bonhomie and the realization comes to me that it’s not making do at all, it’s Rock n’ Roll.” [Ian’s emphasis]

John and I were raising beers to each other last night off of this and we’ll be dining out on it for some time to come.

Related – old friend Simon Hammond is mulling the idea of exporting £5 Apps to Birmingham. I say go for it!

Take the meme and run with it, embrace quick experiments, low cost-of-failure, fail-fast approaches to testing business (and non-business) ideas…just Get On With It. See where it takes you and have a ball on the way (oh, and link back here and let us know how you fare!).

Do join us for a Xmas Special on Tuesday 4th December with a pro-consumer talk followed by Shardcore on the highs and lows of dot-com-boom Beenz.com.

2 Comments | Tags: Entrepreneur, Life, sussexdigital, £5 App Meet

14 November 2007 - 21:33£5 App Xmas Special – Tues Dec 4th @ Quadrant (1 week early & different venue!)

Dear all, this is a quick pre-announce that the fandabbydosious Xmas Special for the £5 App will be on Tuesday 4th December (about 3 weeks time) at The Quadrant pub in the centre of town.

John has arranged private use of the newly refurbished upstairs room for us. I’ll also arrange some sponsored (free!) beer and the pub has agreed to do us a bit of a deal on beer for later. This xmas special will be popular so mark yourself as Attending (we do have limited nbrs).

Resident Artist Shardcore will be speaking on ‘The £50 Million App’ or ‘how he and Martin blew tons of cash during the dot-com boom on various start-ups including beenz.com. Martin is a past co-worker of shardcore, he also spoke on ‘The $30 Apps – life as a Mac Indie‘ a few months back.

Note that ShardCore’s art (a regular feature of our talks) is available for public view at the Tin Drum (Kemptown).

Quick plug – I’ll be speaking on Tues Nov 20th during Danny’s week of skillswaps on how to Master the Art of Screencasting – attend to learn why you should screencast, how you can do it in 5 minutes without installing any software and where you can host the videos for free afterwards.

2 Comments | Tags: Entrepreneur, Life, ShowMeDo, sussexdigital, £5 App Meet

12 November 2007 - 14:09£5 app day writeup

Saturday’s £5 App Day went very well – during the day we had over 30 people attending the various talks (a similar turn-out to our regular £5 App evening meetings but without the free beer!).Most attendees were programmers and freelancers, some were ‘business types’ – most from Brighton but a few from out as far as Guildford, London and Birmingham (!).

See some photos (more) – thanks for those we have uploaded them! John was the main organiser with Matt Weston in the background and me on some publicity.

Things I learned during the day:

  • Social media: Google’s OpenSocial standard isn’t ready yet (despite the hype)
  • Social media: Writing a Facebook application is easy
  • Copy-writing: How to write web-copy from the perspective of my target audience
  • SEO: How many more in-bound links I need to get on the frontpage of Google for targetted terms

Allan and I opened the day with talks on boot-strapping. My Perils of Boot-strapping is online. My main points were:

  • Boot-strapping is a valid (if slow) way to start a new company
  • Boot-strapping is inherently low-risk towards money and commitment
  • Harmonising with your day-job, so your reputation and experience grow hand-in-hand, is preferable

Allan covered how he created his successful Java software consultancy company (SensibleDevelopment) by growing organically which grew from his fantasy-footy game (EffEffElle). Allan spent time explaining the various ways that new companies can get funding and support in Brighton – his presentation (forthcoming) lists all of the possibilities. If you want to ask questions about this – join us on the BrightonDigital mail list.

Sadly Raj couldn’t attend through illness. He had a good talk lined up on ‘growth after boot-strapping’ including statistics from his Kwiqq.com – he has uploaded the presentation which is pretty self-contained.

Next John and Neil discussed ‘how to grow a £5 App’ covering: inspiration, ease of coding, language choice, source control, unit tests and having fun.

After lunch Premasagar and Madhava discussed Dharmafly which is their ethical web consultancy. The did a fab presentation (with Annesley) on how they built a Facebook application (including RSS feed) in several days and how they used this as a way to further broadcast their new ThoughtsOf.PRSarkar. The ThoughtsOf site is a WordPress site with some simple theming, they used the dated post-ahead feature to build a set of posts which are published each week.

Jon Markwell (Inuda) continued the theme of social media and discussed Google’s new OpenSocial. Importantly he explained why it isn’t ready for use yet – I found this talk to be extremely useful as I’d only heard the hype and not the sober inside story. Jon also talked us through Facebook’s new advertising platform and showed how he’d created a Brighton-targetted advertising solution for Inuda.

Paul Silver and David Rosam gave a short presentation on the key points of search engine optimisation. Following the presentation they used their SEO Analysis Tool (the ‘site clinic’) to give us feedback on a couple of our sites. I have a print-out of my results and I’ll use the analysis to guide my own SEO for ShowMeDo. Do contact Paul and David (WebPositioningCentre.co.uk) if you’d like expert SEO advice and implementation.

To cap off a brilliant day Ellen de Vries gave us an excellent and very interactive talk on writing copy for the web. We had to work in groups to first explain our own websites ‘to our mum’ – i.e. using plain language and clear concepts. We worked through several more exercises and ended up explaining what we do ‘to our clients’ and along the way we all learned some new Copy skills. Thanks Ellen! Do contact Ellen if you’d like custom web-copy or advice.

Naturally at the end of the day we headed off to the pub to unwind. It looks as though several collaborations have begun as a result of the day and the ‘£5 App Meme’ will be travelling to Birmingham (thanks Simon!) to start a new group in Brum. Woot!

Upcoming events: OpenCoffeeSussex meets next Thursday in the Sussex Innovation Centre, Master Screencasting on Tues 20th for the Week of SkillSwaps, the £5 App Christmas Special (title: The £50 Million App) is on December 4th.

3 Comments | Tags: Entrepreneur, ShowMeDo, sussexdigital, £5 App Meet

9 November 2007 - 11:52Week of SkillSwaps (including me on screencasting)

Danny has organised a whole week of SkillSwaps (overview on Upcoming) for the week commencing Nov 19th. The events are:

For my Master Screencasting I’ll be covering:

“Learn about screencasting to share videos of your software online. We’ll talk about making screencasts – Ian’ll show you how and then some volunteers can make their own. Online hosting options will be discussed.”

The important parts are:

  1. Showing you how to make your own screencasts
  2. Getting them hosted on the web for free

Hope to see you along. Thanks to Danny for organising such a packed week!

No Comments | Tags: ShowMeDo, sussexdigital

9 November 2007 - 11:40£5 App Day *Tomorrow* on Sat 10th

We host our first-ever day-long £5 App event tomorrow (full itinerary). We have 25 confirmed on Upcoming, another 10 by email with people travelling in from as far afield as Birmingham and London.

Hopefully there will be students from Sussex Uni and maybe random people from the 10,000 brochures that Wired Sussex have distributed. It’ll be a good event 🙂

Thanks again to Alan at Sensible Development for hosting us.

In summary – the day runs from 10am to 6pm at Pelham House in the North Laines – just off of Trafalgar St and 5 minutes from Brighton station. We have 9 speakers in 5 sessions, the event is free, you can drop in and out of events as you see fit.

We will have the internet (+hopefully wifi) and some of the sessions are practical so bring your laptop. It wouldn’t be a £5 App event if it didn’t involve some drinking after…

Session list (more detail):

  1. (10am) Perils of Boot-strapping and Growth after Boot-strapping (myself, Alan Newman, Raj Anand)
  2. (11.30am) Developing your £5 App (£5 App co-founder John Montgomery)
  3. (2pm) Social Media Marketing (Premasagar and Madhava, Jon Markwell)
  4. (3.20pm) Search Engine Optimisation for your website (Paul Silver)
  5. (4.40pm) Successful Copy-Writing (Ellen de Vries)

David and Paul have blogged about their SEO/web-copy session, Raj has blogged about his growth-after-bootstrapping session. I’ve blogged about us on the Digital Festival site. You’ll find write-ups for all of our previous events on the official £5 App site.

1 Comment | Tags: Entrepreneur, sussexdigital, £5 App Meet

9 November 2007 - 10:47Improvements to ShowMeDo

Kyran has completed some fantastic new work on our ShowMeDo:

  • New frontpage (a few weeks back) resulting in a 10% decrease in bounces from the frontpage
  • New portals for Python, Ruby and other categories
  • Site-wide unification of font choices
  • Cleaner interface for the header and sidebars

I’ve also worked on smaller changes:

  • Speed-ups throughout the site by making less DB queries
  • Integration of our Google Group to the frontpage for greater exposure

The DB improvements came via John’s great SQLObject performance guide.
Lucas won the most-popular-video-of-the-month award this month (and received a £20 prize). This is the third month we’ve run the competition and it is working well. The prize is based on an author’s position in the 30-day most-popular list.

Finally – we’re working to let authors receive PayPal donations for their efforts. Authors will keep 100% of whatever they are given, this is another step we take to say thank-you to authors for putting in their hours making such fine tutorials.

No Comments | Tags: ShowMeDo

5 November 2007 - 17:03ShowMeDo Services – now with prices!

Phew, it has been a long time coming. Our Professional Screencast Production Service service now has a price page which details the cost of our plans.

The plans cover ‘basic hosting’ for a trial service (allowing up to 1,000 plays per month) along with a Silver (£100 p/m) and Gold Plan (£500 p/m) which carry varying capacities for increased usage.

The Gold plan would suit a large company that wanted to play many videos. Usages might include marketing screencasts to tempt users to learn more and support screencasts to relieve support phone calls.

The costings page also carries information for how we can create marketing and tutorial screencasts and how we can host regular video content.

Next…we need to integrate our statistics package and get the data visualised.  You can learn more about our screencasting services and do feel free to contact us if you’d like to learn more.

No Comments | Tags: ShowMeDo

5 November 2007 - 16:055 Pound App *Day* on Saturday 10th 10am-6pm

For the Digital Festival we’re having a whole day (sign up->Upcoming.org) of £5 App Goodness aimed at moving your project forward:

  • When: Saturday 10th November, 10am-6pm
  • Where: North Laines, see Upcoming
  • Cost: Free
  • Food/Drink: You supply your own, shops nearby
  • Wifi? Yes, laptops welcome
  • Sponsor: Alan Newman of SensibleDevelopment (plug: talk to Alan for bespoke Java web solutions) – thanks Alan for providing the location!

We’re holding a whole day of £5 Appness to help move everyone a step forward with their respective start-ups and projects. We have 5 great sessions each with 1-3 speakers, each session is interactive, we want everyone to get something productive out of the day.

Programme for the day:

10am-11.30am The Perils of Bootstrapping (Ian Ozsvald, Alan Newman, Raj Anand)
I’ll give some feedback on the problems associated with bootstrapping borne of practical experience growing ShowMeDo and Services over the last 2.5 years. Alan will speak on related problems for EffEffElle and Sensible Development, Raj will cover fund-raising for growth past boot-strapping. Questions will be encouraged, war-stories will be told.

11.30am-1pm Developing your £5 App (John Montgomery plus others)
John and assistant(s) will cover some of the tools and techniques that will help you start a boot-strapped project quickly and keep it growing at a sustainable rate. Some things are key (e.g. source control, test frameworks) but are often ignored. The talk will include stories from the coal-face.

2pm-3.20pm A simple example of Social Media Marketing (Madhava and Premasagar, Jon Markwell)
In part continuing from Tom Nixon’s talk on Social Media at Vine Networking, Madhava and Premasagar (DharmaFly.com) will give a £5-App Talk on how they use Social Media for low-cost yet high-impact marketing for their clients. Topics will include building a Facebook App, MySpace, Flickr and Blogs. John Markwel will join the talk discussing Google’s new OpenSocial platform along with Facebook application development.

3.20pm-4.40pm SEO (Paul Silver)
Paul will continue his talk from BarCamp and give us the low-down on easy and successful ways to improve your rank in search-engines. Paul can give practical advice during the session, we want to kick-off SEO improvements for a few of you during the day. Paul offers SEO as a commercial service – you’ll receive expert advice for free by attending.

4.40pm-6pm A guide to successful Copy-writing (Ellen de Vries)
Ellen is a professional and experienced web-copy-writer who is little known (yet…but that will change soon!) in the geek scene. She plans to run a very hands-on session where we learn copy-writing by deconstructing each other’s web sites. Ellen offers copy-writing as a professional service – you’ll receive expert advice for free by attending.

If you want to move your project forwards on Saturday November 10th then mark yourself as Attending.

Paul Silver’s Hack Day on Nov 17th is a related event.

No Comments | Tags: Entrepreneur, Life, ShowMeDo, sussexdigital, £5 App Meet