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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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29 January 2009 - 22:30Making Local Freelancers More Visible

Here’s a problem I’ve been pondering for the last few months, maybe you can say if my idea has legs…

This year I’ll be expanding my ProCasts at a rate of knots.  I intend to partner with a set of great freelancers (particularly animators and 2D designers) – but how do I find them?

The obvious answer here in Brighton is to attend BrightonFarm (I am – thanks Paul), but only a subset of all of Brighton’s (and near-by) creatives will attend.  How else do I find out who is active?  One excellent creative I’m meeting tomorrow doesn’t attend the Farm, I only heard about him through a personal recommendation.

What if I want to contact freelancers who’d never attend the Farm (BrightonFarm tends to attract web-devs but not, say, legal folk or niche non-web programmers)?  I guess it is back to asking around, reading directories and finding those who are great at marketing themselves.

A case in point – via my liaising with Sussex Uni I’m told that a couple of very smart algorithmic/Matlab/research chaps are looking for ‘tough problems to solve’.  I could direct them to the Farm but that’s not really the right locale and I can’t think of any other obvious place where they could say ‘hey, I’m available, here’s what I do!’.  Instead they remain (as far as I can tell) in obscurity and that’s just a darn shame.

An ‘active freelancer’ listing?

Something interesting happens when freelancers are more visible – more collaborations will result.  This helps build further resilience into our local economy and brings the skills of other’s a bit closer to us.

I suspect that SMEs as well as freelancers would benefit by noticing the skills that were on offer – just the act of making the skills visible would remind people of the range and depth of knowledge that’s available down here.

WiredSussex has a jobs-board and a projects-board and ProjectBrighton has a jobs-board – how about adding a freelancers-board?  A simple RSS feed that I can watch would let me see who’s active and available.  At the very least it would spark new conversations, at best it would help us point work at the right people and strengthen relationships.

WiredSussex have a freelancers showcase but Luke tells me it isn’t actively supported.  A twitter-like solution wouldn’t need any support time…

Filtered, restricted postings?

Spammy rubbish would be useless of course – so why not control the listing and only allow registered Brightonian’s  to post?  You’d only want occasional posts too to keep the signal:noise ratio high, perhaps I’d describe what I offered and what I was after and I’d only get to do so twice a year.

After setup we’d see a few posts a week – easy enough to keep an occasional eye on.  As a bonus, if a central authority can kill your right to post if you misbehave then you won’t mess around with spammy tactics – again keeping the signal clean.

If the listing is read by many (WiredSussex’s audience is pretty large down here) then those characters would count, making it worth spending time crafting a decent entry.  It would be a sort of ‘twitter-for-active-freelancers‘.

Does the idea have legs?  Any freelancers care to comment on whether being more visible would increase their chance of finding work?  Any non-freelancers think it’ll be useful to keep tabs on who’s active and what skills are locally available?


Ian applies Data Science as an AI/Data Scientist for companies in ModelInsight, sign-up for Data Science tutorials in London. Historically Ian ran Mor Consulting. He also founded the image and text annotation API Annotate.io, co-authored SocialTies, programs Python, authored The Screencasting Handbook, lives in London and is a consumer of fine coffees.

16 Comments | Tags: Entrepreneur, Life, projectbrightonblogs, sussexdigital

9 January 2009 - 20:08Some ProCasts bits

Given that 2008 ended well I’m going to give in to a bit of self-indulgence.  The best ending for my ProCasts was helping Justin in the days running up to Christmas increase his sign-up rate for AppBeacon.com with a 3 minute front-page screencast.  Being told “My bounce rate has decreased about 7 percent per day.  Since having the screencast up, the site’s sign up rate has doubled” is just darn cool – all done in 48 hours and delivered on Christmas Eve.

I’m also having a crack at understanding the adoption rate for MP4-enabled Flash players, I blogged some statistics that suggest 90% penetration.

By itself this is fine, but given that TechSmith have removed the older and standard FLV format from CamTasia and only allow us to export MP4 videos, it seemed odd that we’re expected to lose 10% of our viewing audience.  Apparently this was done because MP4 is the wave of the future…but that doesn’t help 1/10 viewers now, nor for the next 6 months.  Raising it in the forums didn’t seem to cause much reaction which seemed odd.  Hmph.

To provide some mitigation for the problem I wrote-up an entry on using the free ffmpeg to convert mp4 to flv, google seems to be sending me traffic for that off the bat so presumably I’m not really the only one who didn’t like the mp4-only option.

Oh yes, I also treated myself to a new mic – a lovely big sE 2200a.  It comes with a bloomin’ great ‘flight case’ in case I need to take it on trips.  Lovely.

And for 2009 I intend to grow ProCasts and to pull in more talent so we can deliver beautiful, informative screencasts that help sell more services for my clients.  Onwards and upwards…


Ian applies Data Science as an AI/Data Scientist for companies in ModelInsight, sign-up for Data Science tutorials in London. Historically Ian ran Mor Consulting. He also founded the image and text annotation API Annotate.io, co-authored SocialTies, programs Python, authored The Screencasting Handbook, lives in London and is a consumer of fine coffees.

No Comments | Tags: ProCasts

6 January 2009 - 14:13Marble-mouse sticking, finger slips [solved]

For the last few weeks my lovely Logitech Marble Mouse has been sticking – my finger would slip whenever I pulled it towards me (‘down’) whilst up, left and right were just fine.  I had a memory that when I first bought the mouse in August everything was much smoother…

A quick Google revealed nought except for many happy people who exclaimed that the track-ball didn’t stick or slip and didn’t require cleaning.

Cleaning?  Huh?  Could it be that simple?  Sure enough – I tipped it upside down and applied a little pressure to make the red ball drop out and inside the ball casing I could see a little bit of cruft around the three raised plastic lumps that hold the mouse in place.  These dislodged with a finger-press, I popped the ball back in and Yay Everything is Fine Again!

Now the mouse whips across the screen and control is back to being as light as a feather.  Sometimes the simple things make it all worthwhile.


Ian applies Data Science as an AI/Data Scientist for companies in ModelInsight, sign-up for Data Science tutorials in London. Historically Ian ran Mor Consulting. He also founded the image and text annotation API Annotate.io, co-authored SocialTies, programs Python, authored The Screencasting Handbook, lives in London and is a consumer of fine coffees.

No Comments | Tags: Life