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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.

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

26 November 2011 - 20:48Five new Brighton businesses

Earlier in the year through Matt Weston a group of us met, funded by the Innovation and Growth Team, to start a peer-group for a set of four (wait for it…) new businesses. The group was successful – and for several of us it led to the realisation that our plans at the time weren’t right. Emily and I were working on SocialTies as our project and trying to find a business hidden in the app, we decided against it and looked to other ideas.

Here’s what we’re working on. I hope it’ll encourage a few other folk to think about building new businesses.

The IGT funding dried up and so we now meet informally, our projects are:

I mentioned that I’d do a little write-up before we leave the country, Chris sent me this blurb about MightyHumble:

mighty humble is a small organic clothing company that believes in creativity, good design and responsible business.  We collaborate with hand picked creative talent to produce unique products using the most ethical and environmental sound materials, manufacturing and suppliers we can find. Our 100% cotton t-shirts are ethically made, certified organic by the Soil Association and manufactured solely using sustainable energy generated from wind power. We envisage our collection as wearable art which enables us to bring the work of some incredible talented people to a wider audience.  For mighty humble business is not just about turning a profit.  Experience has taught us that there’s more too it than that!  We believe a business can (and should) be a creative, fun and positive force.

Jo describeds Bookish as:

the home of unique literary gifts, typographic loveliness and beautiful bookish things – for readers, writers, dreamers, thinkers and bibliophiles everywhere

Jackie says:

Sales Precruitment is all about helping MDs of growing digital and technology companies prepare for recruiting their first (and additional) sales person.  Setting realistic targets, putting measurements in place, interviewing and induction, these are just a few of the things we can help with.  All this is done face to face at present but 2012 is the year I work out how to offer some of this support online… wish me luck!!

From January Emily, Kyran and myself are off to Chile for the StartupChile project, we’re taking TinyEars and StrongSteam as our 6 month projects. A part of our requirement for StartupChile is that we help build the entrepreneurial community – given our work building OpenCoffeeSussex, SheSays, FivePoundApp and GirlGeekDinners we figure we’re well placed to help bring interesting folk together. The opportunity to network with several hundred other folk who have jumped country to found new businesses is simply too good to pass up (along with living in a growing, upbeat country with a strong economy, a new language to learn and some Tango to practice).

For our StrongSteam we’re after alpha testers – we want non-AI developers (particularly web and mobile devs) who want access to image recognition, OCR, data mining and clustering tools. Emily is after collaborators and testers – particularly people with kids and iPad 2s.


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.

1 Comment | Tags: ArtificialIntelligence, Entrepreneur, Life

26 November 2011 - 18:14Broken economies, an economic thought, freelancer advice

A few of you who know me have caught more than a whiff of my increasingly sour mood over the state of many of our ‘developed’ economies. Between the bailouts of Greece, Ireland and Portugal, Italy about ready for a bail-out, Spain with 22% unemployment who might also need a bail-out (but…the EU packages can’t cover both countries needing a bail-out [scroll down to ‘the tower of terror’ diagram] – hence the jittery bond markets), Portuguese and Hungarian debt marked at junk status, Belgian‘s credit rating cut (after their embarrassing bail-out for Dexia which had passed #hoho all the stress tests earlier in the year) it is hard to be positive. The Economist and others now cover serious discussion about a possible end to the Euro.

The Economist also notes that there’s a reasonable chance we’re falling back into recession. It seems that end of Jan and Feb for Italy’s next round of bond auctions could make for very interesting events.

In the US Thanksgiving has been given over Black Friday (to get companies back in ‘the black’), this year the event aced all previous years with the deployment of pepperspray and guns by ‘competitive shoppers’ (such a wonderful euphemism! they can camp overnight and use weapons in the name of shopping but Occupy protesters can do neither in the name of protest). This video showing fights breaking out as shoppers try to win $2 waffle toasters brings it home. Still, at least the Super Committee figured out a way to get past the $15 trillion (and growing) debt pile. Oh, no, they didn’t, they just finger pointed and handed the problem back.

In the USA the losers are the private citizens, the winners are the companies. Over the last 50 years corporate profits are up and personal salary (as a percentage of GDP) is down (the key graphic) – if you run a big company you’ll be sitting pretty, everyone else has to work longer and harder just to stand still.

But it isn’t all grim. Interesting conversations are popping up questioning the basis for our financial systems, it is nice to see people try to plot new ways through to stronger economies or point out our too-relaxed view on recent changes. This begs the question – what happens when we can chart the progression of money (because maybe it is signed a la bitcoin), maybe we can penalise money for sitting still (e.g. letting it expire/evaporate)? The idea of enabling both the creation and destruction of money (in the first article) sounds novel, we rarely see money destroyed as a stabilising act (as in – removed from the system entirely) with our established currencies.  Might this force money to do ‘work’ rather than sit in someone’s bank account?

Finally, this brings me to the question of what one should be doing as a freelancer/small business owner. In a companion post (to come out by Monday) I’ll mention that we’re off to StartupChile for 6 months. For me I’m energised at the idea that in Santiago I can meet several hundred other company founders who have all decided to jump country (from all over the world) to expand their networks, help the locals boot-strap a tech ecosystem and build their companies. Taking risks and changing things around seems like a basic requirement for survival and growth in what’ll become a tougher economic environment (talk of a lost decade or two for the Western economies is now quite common).

Prior to applying to StartupChile I’d already started to build StrongSteam, our new AI/data mining product, with my old co-founder from ShowMeDo (our last big project). The goal is help folk create interesting data mining applications and to make my AI Consultancy more visible (just building and talking on it has increased in-bound work referrals by a factor of 4 in the last few months). Being visible and being fresh is absolutely critical to continued success. A couple of years back I’d realised I was getting stale (‘fat and slow’ as I put it) working for a few known clients. I fired myself for 6 months, built the AICookbook project (now defunct, it served its purpose), co-founded SocialTies and kicked myself into a higher gear.

Some takehomes:

  • If you’re not visible enough yet, take some time out and work on open and visible projects
  • If you’ve become stale then fire some clients and work on new challenges (preferably public ones)
  • Get on stage and talk about what you’ve learned, certainly post blog entries sharing what you’ve learned – being visible is key
  • If you’ve got spare time then dive into new projects, don’t wait to become stale (a mistake I made that cost me 6 months!)
  • Join local groups – we’ve got OpenCoffeeSussex here, plenty of tech groups, HackerNewsLondon an hour’s train ride away – meet new people and collaborate
  • Build alliances with companies you like to work with, help them, partner with them

I figure that’s enough with the ranting, noting it down  is cathartic. Now, back to building StrongSteam.

Hat-tip to @umairh as being the main person to open my eyes to the need to question how the world works over the last bunch of years. I’m much obliged to you. @johnrobb‘s resilient community work is also rather interesting.


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: Entrepreneur, Life

31 August 2011 - 13:24strongsteam – an “AppStore for A.I. and data mining tools”

Kyran and I are starting work on a new project – strongsteam offers a web API with artificial intelligence and data mining tools. The goal is to make it easy for you to do things like:

  • get the text out of images using optical character recognition
  • determine whether two images look the same and if one object (e.g. a certain book or a can of coke) can be found in another
  • use natural language processing to analyse, cluster and compare text
  • extract text from audio (e.g. to pull out keywords from podcasts)
  • use machine learning on text to derive new data

If you’d like to join the closed alpha then visit strongsteam and add your email to the announce list on the homepage.

We’ve started with Python bindings which make it easy to talk to the strongsteam web service. Initially we’ll wrap open source tools that we’ve used along with lots of our own A.I. data mining tools from years of work in my Mor Consulting A.I. consultancy.

At EuroSciPy last week I demo’d using O.C.R. to extract the words from plant labels at Wakehurst Place gardens so you can lookup the plant on Wikipedia once you’ve taken a photo like this one:

Plant label for Ostrich Plume Fern at Wakehurst Place (Sussex)

Now we’re looking at applying O.C.R. to conference name-badges, this will be a bit of a mash-up from data used in our SocialTies conference app and Lanyrd.com‘s data. Next we’ll look at image matching and some text processing tools.


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: ArtificialIntelligence, Entrepreneur, Python

5 August 2011 - 12:23Social Ties now available for UK iPhones and any Android

This is just a quick post to say that we’ve released the iPhone build of Social Ties to the iTunes app store in the UK. Currently it only supports UK events so we’ve limited it to the UK AppStore, international events will follow later. The latest features include Bookmarking of people you’d like to meet and a Met button to mark the people you’ve already met. As noted today by a couple of users:

Yay now I can know who I should talk to at a conference and everything about them. Thanks @socialtiesapp http://bit.ly/rhka9U@juliancheal

Very impressed with the new @socialtiesapp for iPhone and Android. One to recommend to @briankelly I think! – @eventamplifier

Yay! @socialtiesapp is out on the iPhone and I’m unexpectedly famous! (see screenshots) – @bensummers

The Android BETA has been linked on our Social Ties homepage for a month, we’ll submit that to the Android AppStore once it is feature-complete to the iPhone build.

Followup updates on @socialtiesapp, you can follow us on @ianozsvald and @fluffyemily. If you want customised A.I. for your own project then talk to me, if you’d like mobile apps then talk to Emily.


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: Entrepreneur, Life

7 November 2010 - 23:28£5 App #23 – “Things we built this summer”

Last Tuesday we had our 23rd £5 App event, given that it is only our second event this year we chose to let people “show and tell” about the things they built this summer. We had 9 speakers, I bought the beer, John baked the cakes.

Shardcore and the Englightenment Machine

Shardcore‘s Enlightenment Machine was installed at the WhiteNight festival a week back, here he explains what’s going on:

£5 App #23 – Shardcore and the Enlightenment Machine from Ian Ozsvald on Vimeo.

Jon and Digestly

Jon‘s Digestly lets you summarise tweets which can then be sent by email to e.g. your mum who wants to hear more about you:

£5 App #23 – Jon and Digestly from Ian Ozsvald on Vimeo.

Ian (me!) and the Social Microprinter

My Social Microprinter is a CBM 231 receipt printer + Arduino + WiShield + remote server, it prints tweets and useful info using a regular shop’s receipt printer via serial:

£5 App #23 – Ian and the Social Microprinter from Ian Ozsvald on Vimeo.

John and the Arduino Doorbell

John’s Arduino-powered door-bell couples a regular remote-control doorbell with lego, wood and a big bell:

£5 App #23 – John and the Arduino Doorbell from Ian Ozsvald on Vimeo.

Seb and Geek Family Fortunes

Seb built a Family Fortunes clone recently (we played it at BarCamp Brighton) using Flash, Nun-chucks and an iPad:

£5 App #23 – Seb and Geek Family Fortunes from Ian Ozsvald on Vimeo.

Emily and SocialTies on the iPhone

Emily is working on an iPhone app with me that we’ve named SocialTies, it helps you find your friends and ‘similar people’ when you’re at an event or conference. It was inspired by the fruitless hours I’ve spent at events wondering if I’ll ever find anyone I know…

£5 App #23 – Emily and SocialTies from Ian Ozsvald on Vimeo.

Kyran and JavaScript Social Graph Visualisations

Kyran and I have been working on some social graph visualisations, Kyran’s interface lets you see where you sit in an event’s social network whilst reading real-time updates from attendees:

£5 App #23 – Kyran and JavaScript Social Graph Visualisations from Ian Ozsvald on Vimeo.

Mike and the Tardis Money Bank

Mike’s Tardis Money Bank was designed to help him and son keep tabs on pocket money. It has gone on to be used by many families since its launch:

£5 App #23 – Mike and the Tardis Bank from Ian Ozsvald on Vimeo.

Jay and Twitter Election Predictions

Jay’s real-time election results predictor read Twitter during the UK elections, the results were interestingly accurate:

£5 App #23 – Jay and using Twitter to Predict Elections from Ian Ozsvald on Vimeo.

If you’re interested in keeping tabs on future events or would like to speak please join our £5 App Google Group.


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: Entrepreneur, projectbrightonblogs, sussexdigital, £5 App Meet

7 September 2010 - 22:11Selling ProCasts through Flippa.com

A couple of weeks ago I sold ProCasts.co.uk, the screencasting business I built over the last two years. Some of you know that I moved away from the business back at Christmas and left it idle (a rather silly thing to do), here are some notes on how I sold it and how you could sell your business. This is my first business sale, some valuable lessons were learned.

I listed the business on flippa.com a month back, flippa specialises in matching buyers and sellers of domain names and small businesses. Since ProCasts was, after 8 months of inactivity, essentially a website that generated leads with a client list – I figured a listing on flippa would find some interested parties. I didn’t sell The Screencasting Handbook, I’m still happily developing the Handbook’s sales.

The new owners are Tintisha Technologies, a Leicester based video production company who wanted to expand their screencasting brand. Rich of Tintisha discovered the ProCasts sale through flippa by (happy!) accident, made a couple of bids at the end of the auction and came out on top. We completed the handover last week.

The reason for selling ProCasts was simple – I’d moved away from screencasting back at Christmas as I’d decided to return to my historic trade of artificial intelligence research and data science. I knew that a few of ProCasts’ competitors might be interested in the site and that a listing on flippa with money sent through escrow.com would make for a clean, safe sale.

I listed the site as an “Established lead generating screencasting site” with a two week auction. Flippa works differently to eBay – it uses an open auction (though private sales are possible) with a rolling end-time (if a bid is placed within 4 hours of the end of the auction the end time is advanced by another 4 hours).

Take a look at the listing to see the details that I included, I added:

  • Full business and site description
  • Details of past clients and warm leads
  • Bank statements to prove income
  • Verified Google Analytics traffic data
  • A Transfer Agreement listing all assets/processes for the sale

I made a point of responding to all questions (lots came via the private email channel) and updating the listing with new information. Fortuitously a couple of older leads came back with requests for work during the auction so these ‘very warm leads’ got a mention in the comments too.

At the end of the day the site sold for $4,002 (£2,500), minus the sale fee (£100) and escrow.com’s fees I took away £2,400. Not bad for a site that was otherwise of no value to me but obviously not an ‘interesting exit’.

Here are some of the takehome lessons:

  • If you’re selling a business, a pure consultancy (with no consultants) isn’t super interesting to buyers, only to existing market players
  • Building a consultancy in a super-small niche (when I started I had 4 US competitors and 0 in the UK) means few buyers when you decide to exit (in fairness – I didn’t build the business to sell it, I know better for next time)
  • Design your business with an exit in mind – recurring or passive income has real value to a buyer, make sure you can be removed from the business without damaging it
  • A two week auction was fine but four weeks would have made more sense
  • Soliciting private bids from competitors should have been done sooner rather than later
  • Adding a product or recurring income stream to the business would have added a lot of value (I decided to keep The Screencasting Handbook as an experimental platform)
  • BusinessesForSale is an alternative site, I didn’t know about it when I started, their companies tend to have higher value (flippa isn’t really for consultancy businesses, just simple web businesses)

What next?

Some of you know that I’ve been working in the field of artificial intelligence research for industry over the last 10 years (as both senior programmer, product designer and pure r&d bod) in my Mor Consulting. This role is evolving and I’m turning into a “Data Scientist” (the new shiny term for A.I. researchers!).

I’m also building some new IP by way of web services using A.I. technologies, these are designed with an exit in mind (I’m learning!). If you’re curious about using A.I. in industry see my new A.I.Cookbook.

I’m also continuing to develop The Screencasting Handbook, it is a useful experimental platform and I still very much enjoy teaching the art of screencasting.

If you have any questions, ask away.


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: ArtificialIntelligence, Entrepreneur, Life, ProCasts, Screencasting, The Screencasting Handbook

2 March 2010 - 15:13Science companies around Brighton

Two years back I posted an entry listing the science companies I knew around Brighton who are involved in high-tech software (i.e. not science companies who make physical products). The list has changed a bit with some nice additions so I’ve updated it below.  If you know of one that I’m missing do send me an update. I’m interested because I’m an A.I. researcher for industry by trade.

  • PANalytical at SInC (one of my current employers for interesting A.I. work – I work on CUDA for parallelisation and pattern recognition and optimisation for solution finding, Prof. Paul Fewster is the head of the R&D team)
  • Qtara (a new employer of mine creating a cutting-edge Intelligent Virtual Human)
  • BrandWatch in the BrightonMediaCentre (a social metrics company using natural language processing)
  • SecondLife in the North Laines (this office is a big part of their European presence)
  • Ambiental at SInC (great flood-risk simulations and modelling, I help them with speeding up and improving the science behind their flood models, Justin Butler is the founder)
  • Proneta at SInC (very small company, John Hother sometimes has A.I. related questions)
  • Observatory Sciences at SInC (Philip Taylor is the main chap here, they use EPICS and LabView)
  • Ricardo in Shoreham (a big engineering consultancy)
  • Elektro Magnetix at SInC
  • NeuroRobotics at SInC
  • MindLab at SInC (they do non-invasive brain monitoring)
  • Animazoo in Shoreham (they build motion-capture suits for dancers and actors)
  • BotBuilder in Brighton (a robot focused design and build company)

Another nice addition to Brighton is the BrightonHackerSpace, a collective of like-minded souls who build new electronic devices and pull things apart to understand how they work. This HackerSpace has spawned BotBuilder (above) and I’m looking forward to seeing a few more created.

A little further away up in London I also know of:

  • Smesh who offer a brand monitoring system similar to BrandWatch
  • CognitiveMatch ‘who match customers to products in real time’
  • Maxeler Technologies in London create parallelised solutions, they appear to specialise in finance and oil modeling

And even further out in Cambridge:

  • EmotionAI create realistic emotion-expressing 3D avatars via the Cambridge Science Park

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.

1 Comment | Tags: ArtificialIntelligence, Entrepreneur, Programming

22 November 2009 - 18:58Printable local data sheet for visitors?

Here’s a simple idea to help visitors to a new area.  Maybe it’s been done before and someone can leave a comment about it?

The problem – when you visit a place you don’t know you have no idea what you need to see, where to get a map, which pubs and cafes are nice, where the worthy landmarks are etc.

Possible solution – visit a site that gives you 1-2 pages of printable (or iPhoneable) data culled from WikiPedia, OpenStreetMap/GMaps, OpenPlaques, Flickr, Twitter and more.  The pages would give you a summary of what’s there to see, some history, maps and also some recent information (probably via Twitter).

The printable option would be useful, iPhone coverage still isn’t great in the UK in the smaller and more interesting towns.

Personally I’d use this – we go walking to places that we don’t know every weekend and some background, a map and some topical info (e.g. are there any fairs or events happening today?) would be super useful.  I’d guess that this would be useful for anyone visiting an area, even just for parents coming to visit for the weekend.

Does anything like this already exist?


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.

2 Comments | Tags: Entrepreneur

22 November 2009 - 13:30How I’m writing The Screencasting Handbook

Many people have asked why I’m writing a book without a publisher.  The story has interested a bunch of people so I’ll outline the basics here.

Update: there’s a related article by Marc-André Cournoyer covering how he wrote his “Create your own programming language” eBook.

I started writing The Screencasting Handbook in the middle of this year (about 5 months back).  My primary motivation was to write a useful Handbook that teaches my 4 years of skills to new screencasters.  My main goals were to:

  • Release early, release often – so I can iterate based on the needs of my readers rather than the needs I’d guess that they have (based on some support at the Business of Software forum)
  • Get the written parts out as soon as possible – I didn’t want drafts kicking around for a year before a publisher released them to the readers, I wanted the chapters out in the hands of readers as soon as possible
  • Build a community (Google Group) around the Handbook – so my readers can ask and answer questions without me acting as a bottleneck

To achieve this I needed to create a site and determine if there was demand for the topic.  I had a WordPress theme created which signs potential readers up to an AWeber mailing list (costing $20USD/month) and I setup a Google Group.

I then put the word out to screencasters, mostly through ShowMeDo and by writing some useful blog posts that were picked up by screencasting companies.

At the same time I wrote a proposed Table of Contents (August) and released a survey via SurveyMonkey (free account).  I released this into the Google Group and asked for feedback.  I iterated a few times (September) based on feedback until everyone figured that I would cover the most beneficial topics.  At this point I added the Table of Contents as a PDF to the Handbook’s homepage.

By now I had 50 or so people signed up to the list – between the silent sign-ups and the active users in the Google Group I knew that the book would be in demand.  The survey detailed all the areas that caused problems for screencasters so I could be sure that by answering those questions, others would want the Handbook.

Pricing and releasing

At this point I cracked on with writing the Handbook.  I quickly went from 1,000 words to 10,300 and in October I announced that a new release was being prepared for sale.  I announced that the target price of the finished book would be $39USD and that early-bird purchasers could get it for $26USD (a 1/3 discount).  I also offer an unconditional refund at any time.

The payment gateway is PayPal and the front-end is e-junkie, they take payment and offer downloads for just $5/month.  Integrating the e-junkie basket into WordPress involves copying over a few lines of javascript, it is all very simple

At the start of November I released version 4 into the Google Group and announced it on the mailing list, this was quickly followed by a 5th release which added a new chapter.  I’m also about to decrease the discount by $1 taking the price up to $27USD.

After purchase everyone gets invited onto a second emailing list for Handbook Updates (and they’re removed from the first mailing list).  The second list is used to mail out links to updated versions of the PDF.  I also mail out a second survey about a week after purchase to ask the reader if they found the book useful and to ask what else I need to cover soon.  The feedback from the surveys and the Google Group is invaluable.

Figures so far – in several months with only a little effort at publicity I signed up over 200 users to the mailing list.  Just over 10% of those became buyers in the first week of releasing version 4 (given that the book is only about 1/6th written I’m pretty happy with this).  Next week I’ll be writing a couple of extra chapters and then I’ll be increasing my publicity.

I’m releasing my beginner screencasts on the Handbook’s blog for free, this will help prove the quality of the Handbook and it will bring in more visitors.

Print on demand?

Once I reach ‘edition 1’ I imagine I’ll release a print-on-demand version via lulu.  Several readers have already asked for a printed copy rather than a PDF.  ‘edition 1’ is a way off yet – probably early next year some time.

Tools

I’m writing the Handbook with Google Docs, I can edit it from home or whilst sitting in Cafe Delice.

To publish a new version I download a PDF.  I use Apple’s Preview to open the PDF and then ‘print to PDF’ a shorter version containing just the first 15 or so pages.

I upload the shorter version as the Outline to the Handbook’s homepage.  The longer version goes to e-junkie (for new purchasers) and to my second AWeber list (where everyone who has bought a copy gets notified about new releases).

I’ve used Google Website Optimizer to A/B test the landing page, with the Google Website Optimizer plugin for WordPress you just copy over the javascript that GWO provides to three pages (A, B and result page) and it starts to track conversions.  If there’s interest I’ll write some details on the (few) things that I’ve learned about landing page design.

I’ve already discussed AWeber, SurveyMonkey and Google Groups above.

Having an ‘accountability buddy’ helps!

Andy White is writing Podcasting Unleashed at the same time, we’re meeting every two weeks to push each other forwards and trade tips.  We’re both using WordPress and he’s about to move to Aweber so we’ll have pretty much the same setup.  Knowing that your partner is making progress when you’re having a slow day is a great motivator to write a few more pages!

Edition 2?

I’m thinking about the needs of a second edition, I’m wondering if a book format (with a linear series of pages) is wrong and perhaps a wiki is a better tool.  It would certainly allow collaborative content creation.  I’d also like to build some tools like an automatic de-noiser and a scripting tool.

Want to write you own eBook?

It occurs to me that the above process might be useful to other people who want to write their own book, particularly those who want to get early feedback from a potential audience before committing to write a full book.

One possibility is the construction of a site that makes ‘everything easy’ for a potential author.  If you’d like to know if I push this idea in the future, make a comment below which includes your email.


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.

2 Comments | Tags: Business Idea, Entrepreneur, Life, ProCasts, Screencasting, The Screencasting Handbook

2 October 2009 - 11:43“How to Build a Network” workshop for WiredSussex interns

Yesterday I ran a workshop on ‘How to build a network’ for 35 WiredSussex interns.  The presentation is clear, the links below will help.

During the talk I linked to some OpenStreetMap early progress videos for London 2006- and worldwide-2008 edits, these demonstrate a nice graphical result of building personal networks around a project.

Early on I ran an idea based on ‘free schools‘, I asked everyone to name something they could teach and something they could learn.  People put up their hand if they could teach something that another wanted to learn – of the 35 in the room we had 33 hits for skills that could be taught, sometimes over half the room could teach that skill. The goal was to show everyone that they had many as-yet-unknown links with everyone in the room which could help build their network.

Everyone wrote their skills/needs on a post-it and WiredSussex has listed them all here, here’s an example:

Roughly, here’s what I covered:

  1. Be yourself, be human, don’t be a shiny-suited-salesman-with-secret-handshakes
  2. Everyone spoke to someone they didn’t know and then introduced their name, their company and how they either met a friend or started a conversation – this was an ice-breaker aimed at getting everyone to meet one new person
  3. Laying the foundation of a FreeSchool (ignore the anarchistic overtones!  just take the general idea of non-formal education and skill sharing) using Post-Its to show ‘something you can teach’ and ‘something you want to learn’, then each person read out what they want to learn and others put up their hands if they had a relevant skill.  33 of the 35 interns could learn a desired skill from others in the room, only 2 misses is not bad at all.
  4. 10 years of my experiences learning to network, working for others and building my own businesses and projects all in 15 minutes
  5. Getting 3 people to stand-up and explain ‘here’s what I’m good at’ (for reference later)
  6. 10 minute break for the interns to meet someone new – most of them succeeded (which was rather lovely)
  7. Ranking business cards using bluetack on the wall – which cards were ‘most communicative’ to ‘least communicative’ and discussing what makes for a good or bad card
  8. Getting a Moo card – super easy card creation for personal cards and projects
  9. Who remembers people that were introduced earlier – emphasising that if you meet someone for a personal chat or stand-up you’re more likely to be remembered – so always take the opportunity to be memorable
  10. Online networking – who uses blogs, twitter, facebook etc
  11. Homework – interns to mail me a write-up on their blog, tweet, facebook posting or whatever that links them to the event – I’ll then update this post when they mail me the link
  12. Discussion of local events (listed below)
  13. Places and people the interns might come across – The Skiff, The Werks, SInC, Cafe Delice, Jon Markwell, Paul Silver, Sarah Bird, Seb Lee-Delisle, Emily Toop, Matt Weston

Some local events: Likemind, OpenCoffeeSussex, £5 App, BrightonFarm, FlashBrighton, BrightArray, BuildBrighton, BrightonRobotics, Slackspace, Brighton Business on LinkedIn, WriteClub, BANG, Brighton Illustrators, Girl Geeks, UXBri, CultureGeeks, GeekWineThing.

Someone (say if it was you!) asked me in the pub about the state of Artificial Intelligence (that’s another subject of mine), I came across this article on the End of the AI Winter which you might want to read.

My projects include working for MASA, building IMOzsvaldSystems, building Mor Consulting Ltd, co-building ShowMeDo with Kyran Dale, co-creating £5 App with John Montgomery, building ProCasts, writing The Screencasting Handbook.

My pages on LinkedIn, Twitter, my blog – feel free to follow me or link to me.

Thanks Hon Mond Ng for the tweet.  Thanks to Maria Welby and Gearoid Conlon for Linking In, Alexandra Gaiger for Linking In and blogging, David Howard for Linking In and welcome Stefan Daniels to LinkedIn.  Hi Katie, Oli.


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.

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