Helping the Homepreneur

May 27th, 2011 by Alan Mellor, almellor

with thanks http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1164833Just came across this post homemade millionaires It’s well worth a read through.

We find that Yuuguu gets all sorts of different users and uses. We have larger corporate clients, who use it as a logical extension of an internal phone network. Instead of looking up ‘Barry from Accounts’ in the directory and talking to him on x3647, you simply click on ‘Barry from Accounts’ in your contact list and you are instant messaging and screen sharing. Very useful.

But I find the possibilities for startups all the more exciting. We know there is still a global economic downturn on. We know that major governments are making cuts. At least – if they haven’t already gone broke. We know – sadly – this means job losses.

The good news is that broadband is commonplace, the mobile web is here to stay, and new devices like the iPad are blurring the lines between computer, television, print and voice. At the same time, the promised information economy is actually here. People can – and do – pay for information-led products and services on the web these days.

I personally think the likes of eBay and Amazon – the early ‘buy products online’ pioneers broke that one. They were the first commonly known sites where you would put credit card details on the web. Nervous early users found – to their surprise and delight – their orders arrived. I recall back in 1995 when none of us thought that would ever work, people trusting the web with their money.

All this makes it a great time to think about starting your own internet business.

Where tools like Yuuguu come into their own is in enabling the ‘homepreneur’ to work with other people easily. When you start a business around a passion, you quickly learn that you whilst you are great at doing ‘your thing’, your business needs ‘other things’ to succeed. Unless you can create content and products, design and run websites, market, sell and account, you will be able to use some help. And by placing practical help just one click away – anytime, anywhere, anyone – tools like Yuuguu are a great fit for your ‘backroom startup’.

If you are a budding ‘homepreneur’ – what do you have to lose? Get started! As soon as you need to work with others, you know where to come.

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Microsoft and Skype: Our insightful analysis

May 13th, 2011 by Alan Mellor, almellor

Microsoft consume Skype: 80's retro games, anyone?So, the company that put a computer into everyone’s home has bought the company that put computer telephony on the map. The pundits and general chattering classes have been suitably busy telling us what it all means.

We thought we would present our in-depth, definitive, you-can-count-on-us analysis.


And that would be the graphic to the left.


Now, I’ll give you, this is nowhere near as juicy as the UK’s Financial Times – who reckoned it was Microsoft’s power-play to finally wrestle control of ‘the consumer internet’ from the likes of Google, Facebook and wherever else eyeballs go these days. Nor is it quite as impassioned as this one from a disillusioned microsoft share holder.

But at least it doesn’t over-promise a look into the future.


Back in Yuuguu Towers, we don’t need selling on the benefits of getting all your different forms of work-together communication in one place. And this deal shows that a couple of IT giants appear to think the same way. Which is nice.



Meanwhile, if you are wondering what all this means for you – why not avoid the wait, and get your copy of Yuuguu today!

;-)

All the best from Al.

ps Don’t worry – I won’t be applying for a job at Gartner anytime soon !

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Would love to see Yuuguu run on the Raspberry Pi

May 6th, 2011 by Alan Mellor, almellor

See geek.com’s full article on David Braben’s Raspberry Pi £15 PC here

This caught my eye today; the co-author of 80′s ground breaking game Elite has come up with a brilliant idea. Invent a tiny USB-stick like PC that can sell for only £15. Make it so that schoolchildren can plug it into a standard TV set using an HDMI lead. Make it so they can tinker around by plugging in modules – such as a tiny 12 megapixel camera – and gasp! create original software!

Yes – make something where the kids can code.

Why this matters

I particularly liked Mr. Braben’s analysis of the state of ICT teaching (Information and Communications Technology) in UK schools today. My primary school daughter comes home able to do amazing things, like create slideshows, animated powerpoints, and super whizzy WordArt templates. These are great skills that will help her get ahead in the business world.

But … how would she go about creating the software that we know and love as ‘Microsoft Word’ in the first place? It’s a significant question.

The sole reason I am able to help create the (if I may boast) awesome business tool called ‘Yuuguu’ is that when I was 12, I had access to a simple computer. There was no Facebook and Farmville to distract me. No console to fire up an XBox game on. So I had to code my own simple Galaxians clone. I had to figure out how you did cartoon animation with graphics on a primitive computer; how you found out what a player wanted to do; how you knew when two things had bumped into each other; how you made an ‘explosion’ sound (*).

I had to tinker. But it was tinkering with totally different skills – learning how to think like a computer. Learning to live with – and work round – limitations. This aspect, as Mr. Braben notes, is missing in UK education today. And it is a great shame – with the mobile, location-based, video-dominated internet just around the corner, the best software applications have yet to be written.

But if no-one knows how …


I wish the Raspberry Pi project every success. One thing is clear to me: the Future of Work will involve more – not less – IT. And that needs software to be created that we have never even thought of.


Tell you what, though: I would have loved to have the power of the Raspberry Pi when I was learning this stuff. Oh my word – I wonder what I might have dreamt up?



(*) Turns out with a 1-bit speaker output, you create a pseudo random number generator by using a simple linear congruential generator algorithm, then let the output of that, scaled, control when you toggle the speaker bit on or off. Gives a pretty good pink noise kind of ‘kssshhhh’ sound. Just sayin’ – in case anyone is thinking of tinkering


;-)



See you soon

Al ‘talking of raspberry pi reminds me its lunch’ Mellor



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Not an April Fool: employer sued over commute

April 1st, 2011 by Alan Mellor, almellor

This story was sent to me and caught my eye: an NYC fashion exec planning to sue his employer over distress caused by his commute to work.

I must admit, after I read the story, I changed my mind as to what I would write. Initially, I almost thought it was some kind of joke piece – highly suitable for today, of all days. For sure, it wouldn’t happen in Manchester, UK. Once your boss had finally stopped laughing, he would probably kick you out of the office and tell you to put a more cheerful track on your iPod. There’s no way in the UK that a case like this would even get to court. The simple answer to having an unpleasant commute lies in your own hands. Either move house, or get a different job.

But as I read it, it’s not so funny, and not so clear cut. Mental health issues are not funny. They are not uncommon. They happen to a whole range of people; even people who consider themselves ‘strong’ and ‘okay’. They are immensely debilitating to live with, and extremely challenging to live around. So anything that helps reduce them is good, and anything that aggravates them is bad. An unhappy commute might not win a court case as being ‘the final cause of depression’ – but it certainly isn’t going to help. I genuinely wish Mr. Horodecki a swift and complete recovery, so that he feels hopeful once more.

Meanwhile, it’s up to us all to try that little bit harder to change the commute culture around us. Do we really need to be there, physically to do our work? The answer is sometimes yes, but often no. In the past, the ‘no’ made no difference. We had to be physically present as there was no alternative. Now there is.  In fact – many.

Whichever solution you choose, let’s agree to challenge the commute culture around us. As we see in this story, it can sometimes be more than just a minor inconvenience.

All the very best -

Al

PS: Don’t I get a pat on the back for resisting the urge to do an April Fool?  I did get the idea of pretending we had a Yuuguu ‘Legal Screen Sharing plug-in for broadcast’, where any pictures of defendants were replaced live by an army of pencil sketch artists, who could draw very, very quickly …

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Five reasons for employers to love remote work

March 11th, 2011 by Alan Mellor, almellor

We’ve talked about the benefits of being a home worker before. But what about the benefits as an employer?

1. No heating bill

In these times of soaring oil prices ($110 a barrel), offices literally burn money. At least they do if you want people to actually turn up and work in them. The charm of a freezing office is distinctly limited.

The heating bill of any mid to large organisation is a significant line item.  Any reduction would be nice.

One way is definitely to encourage staff to work from home from time to time. Generally speaking, staff are happy enough with this that they won’t claim heating costs back on expenses. As each seat in your office spends more time each year working at home, such savings can add up.

2. No office equipment bill

Hiring new staff is expensive at the best of times. The whole search and selection process costs soon mount up. And once you’ve hired – your costs have only just begun. High up on the agenda will be ensuring dull-but-essential items like desks, chairs, lights are made available.

Home working staff will already have a place to work. It will already have these kinds of items in, representing a big capital saving.

3. No tea and coffee bill

Perhaps it’s just me and *my* tea and coffee bill – but trust me; it adds up …

4. No sickness epidemics

‘Oh No – John’s got the flu!’

Dreaded words. In the bacteria-harbouring confines of the office, when one goes down, we all go down.

Home workers have their own built-in isolation ward from each other, limiting the spread of the dreaded ‘office lurg’.

5. No cleaning

At least you as an employer don’t have to organise it!



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Remote Pair Programming with Yuuguu

February 25th, 2011 by Alan Mellor, almellor

One of the topics that frequently crops up on my TweetDeck is ‘can anyone recommend a good tool for Remote Pair Programming’. Turns out I can! There are no prizes for guessing which one (Yuuguu, just so you know). I decided to chat about our experiences in doing this for five minutes in this video.

The ways we use Yuuguu inside the company

I started work here as a software guy, working on our server implementation. There’s quite a lot going on there. It’s got bits of Java, SQL, various HTTP and XML bindings to it, all the usual buzz word stuff for a modern server development. Our website coding is PHP – again, talking to servers via XML, XMPP and HTTP. Plenty to code, plenty of diverse technologies.

One way we handle the diversity is to use Pair Programming – the technique first brought to light in ‘Agile Methods’. It’s where two programmers sit at the same keyboard and computer screen, and both work on a piece of code. Sounds wasteful – until you try it. The benefits are real. At the very least, one guy can be typing away at the low level stuff – making it work – whilst the other can think about high level issues. The benefits are more compelling still when you pair up people with radically different – but overlapping – skillsets.

We found it particularly useful during a recent major upgrade – rewriting our screen sharing software, to make it faster, and with better looking pictures. Pairing a low-level bit twiddling expert with someone with video codec expertise proved to be a significant help in getting the job done. You find that the real-time, fully-engaged nature of pairing means that problems get found and worked on much faster. Typically, with one programmer, once they are stuck, they can spend a fair amount of time trying to figure out solutions on their own. And their colleague might well be able to solve it in seconds, due to their different background.

Finally, a shout-out with thanks to @dorkitude for asking the question about how strict we are in our application of ‘pair programming’. Cheers!

Til next time,
Have a great week –
Al.

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Like a wheel within a wheel

February 11th, 2011 by Alan Mellor, almellor

Just a quick link today, but to a truly impressive sight: Yuuguu running in Second Life


Follow the link, then scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the great image!



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How I got back some Facebook privacy using Yuuguu

February 4th, 2011 by Alan Mellor, almellor

You’ve got to marvel at Facebook. They are never short of new ways to broadcast all the parts of your life you forgot to label as ‘private’. Their latest creation ‘Instant Personalisation’ is more of the same.

You’ll know that Facebook has an enormous amount of personal information on you. You put most – but not all – of it there. Name, address, date of birth, photo, mobile phone are the obvious ones.

But it’s the less obvious stuff that is more revealing, and a surprise to many. Who you talk with. When. How often. What you say. Photos – both yours, and ones taken by others who tag you. Videos. Every status update you every read, wrote or commented on. Every comment. Every chat message. Every like. Every group you joined, created or just viewed. With Facebook Places, you can add to this list where you were, when, for how long, and who with.

That’s quite a list

So, whilst I like Facebook and use it a lot, it seemed clear that opting out of this particular ‘spyware’ was the right choice for me. And hat-tip to old friend of mine Jean Labrosse for supplying the how to (at end of this post!)

But there’s a snag: you need your friends to opt out, too

It’s not obvious why at first. But when I send you a message, you also receive it. So, whether I opt out or not, if you don’t, then the fact that you received a message from me (when, what it said etc) has your permission to be sent to third parties.

Helping your friends – with Yuuguu

You have to start somewhere, so I helped my wife opt out using Yuuguu. Whilst the steps are not hard, we were on different laptops in different places. This is exactly the kind of remote support job Yuuguu excels at! This might help you explain the steps, too, if you have friends who are having trouble doing this.

To help your friends, get them to share their screen with you using Yuuguu. You can then either talk them through the steps, just reviewing they are doing it right. Or you can ask to take control of their keyboard and mouse and do it for them.

The simplest way to get someone else started like this is for you to donwload the Yuuguu Desktop Client yourself, and then invite them to Yuuguu. This way, they will get an email with a link to click on. This will take them to the download, and get them linked up to you in no time.

How to opt out of Facebook Instant Personalisation

  • Click ‘Account’
  • Click ‘Privacy Settings’
  • Under ‘Apps & Websites’ click ‘Edit your settings’
  • At the right of ‘Instant Personalisation’ click ‘Edit settings’
  • Don’t get distracted by the flashy video: Click ‘Close’
  • Uncheck ‘Enable instant personalisation on partner websites’



Till next week from me, Al – have a good one.

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Yuuguu goes mobile on Android tablets

January 28th, 2011 by Alan Mellor, almellor

Yuuguu’s gone all mobile!

Yuuguu Web Viewer on an Android powered Tablet


A great picture sent in to us of the Yuuguu Web Viewer running on an Android tablet.

We’ve been somewhat pained by Apple’s decision to not use Flash technology on their iPad and iPhone products, as this means our web browser based screen sharing doesn’t work. And the whole point of us picking Flash in the first place is that 98% of all browsers at the time already had it installed. So for most people, this meant no downloads to use our web viewer. A big win for sales calls, where any obstacles beyond those of getting you and your offerings in front of a potential customer are just not needed.

But this photo cheered me back up again. If you have an Android based tablet device, you now can truly collaborate with anyone, anywhere in the world – from anywhere in the world!

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New screen sharing – better, faster!

January 21st, 2011 by Alan Mellor, almellor

If you’ve used Yuuguu to share your screen, you’ll know that an image like this nice one I took this evening would give you a dilemma: Use our fast mode – but get posterised colours – or use our slow mode, if you wanted to see the image correctly. And who wants to be slow?

No more!

Launched today, we have an entirely new screen sharing technology. It’s an optimised codec that is optimised for speed, mouse movement and picture quality. A codec (coder/decoder), for those less geeky than our development team, is the piece of software which squashes your picture down the internet to make it get there faster, then unsquashes it at the other end. Our previous one was generally good – and fantastic for sharp text – but … well. We thought we should do even better. So we have!


Better Mouse Movement

The first thing we’ve done is to give you the mouse pointer. We used to show a ‘laser pointer’ red dot during a screen share to show where the ‘other’ mouse was – the mouse on the host’s computer. Quite a few people have told us they wanted to see a mouse pointer, not a red dot, so we changed that.

More importantly, the mouse updates much faster. As your host moves their mouse, you will see it on your screen share in near real time. It is *much* faster than we had before, due to a fundamentally different – and rather clever – way of handling the mouse movement.


Better Images

Our new codec squashes pictures differently. It is much better at dealing with lots of different colours than our old one for any given speed of screen sharing. The images look much more ‘photographic’ at any of our quality levels.


Faster Start Up

My personal favourite new feature – when you click ‘share my screen’, the time delay before your viewers can see the first screen has been massively reduced. It’s just much slicker for those important presentations.


Better Default Quality

We now have three settings for colour/speed. The new default is ‘medium’ which shares the screen at about the same speed as we used to, but with much better quality and many more colours. There is both a ‘more colours’ and ‘less colours’ setting. My favourite personally is to go into the settings panel, and set the default to ‘fastest’. I find that gives me all the colours and quality I need, but the sharing is really much quicker than it used to be.




This new technology is available now to everybody who tries or buys Yuuguu from our website. With our seven day free trial, it really does make sense to check this out.



Until next week -

Happy Improved Sharing!


Al.

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