July 31st, 2011 by Ivo
I started blogging back in 2005. Blogging was the method of choice to get your message across and to let people know what you were up to. But the past 2 years, things have changed. The growth of social media such as Twitter and Facebook have created new and more efficient ways to communicate. Many blogs, including mine, have become neglected. I've written just a single post in the last year, when I had something to say that didn't fit in a tweet. I lately asked myself; should I pick up blogging? Should I start writing more content? I've seen other people do this and fail: after a short revival they would simply stop writing again. So I figured that reviving the blog would be the wrong approach. Instead I realized I had to change the site, put less emphasis on the blog and embrace the fact that social media IS more efficient for day to day communication. The purpose of the blog is to provide background or opinions that don't fit social media. The purpose of the site as a whole should be to explain to people who I am, and guide them to the social media outlets where most of my communication takes place.
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August 12th, 2010 by Ivo
Those who pay attention to my occasional seemingly random tweets may have noticed this tweet, back in March. It's the first line of the Bob Dylan song "Times they are a'changin", and it marked the start of a long thought process. I had a '10 year itch': I was at Ibuildings since january 2000, back then a 5 person web development shop in the south of the Netherlands, and over the years I had helped Ibuildings grow into a 110+ people PHP service company with 5 offices in 3 countries. Very proud of what Ibuildings had become and my own role in the company, I had a growing feeling of 'what next?'.
In my enterprise PHP book I mentioned 5 major goals I wanted to accomplish in life: one of them is to found and build a company of my own. And although Ibuildings has always felt a bit mine, that's not the same. So I slowly started thinking about starting from scratch and building a new awesome company. Over the course of the next few months I searched for reasons to leave and reasons to stay, but eventually I knew that in my heart I had already made the decision in March, and all I was doing was finding reasons to validate that choice. There's a saying that in the end, you'll only regret the things you DIDN'T do, so finally I made the decision to go for it.
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October 8th, 2009 by Ivo
In a few months they will start to build the largest tower in The Netherlands (with 262 meters not a stunning accomplishment on a global scale, but impressive for our little otherwise mostly flat country). This will be very near my home, so I think it will be a nice project to take a snapshot every week of its progress, so that once it's finished I can create a little documentary of the construction.
I'm trying to find out the proper position to take this weekly picture, to ensure that the complete tower will fit in the picture precisely when it's finished, so that I don't have to move back after a while and can remain in the right spot for the duration of the project, and I'm close enough to not waste much pixels.
My camera has a certain viewport, so plain old Pythagoras won't be sufficient; so I'm trying to figure out what the best position will be, and how I can determine this using nothing more than math, some experimentation and educated guesswork. I'm relatively lazy, so it has to be a simple practical method that doesn't take ages or enormous amounts of effort. Also, it has to be a verifiable method so I don't end up moving the position halfway through the project; they're only going to build this tower once.
The position of the tower will be:
Ideas? I'll throw in a signed copy of my enterprise php book for the most creative or pragmatic approach, or an amazon gift certificate for those not into PHP.
Bonuspoints if you point out the spot on the map, taking into account buildings or other structures
More details (if relevant):
- The camera will be this Canon Ixus 95
- I am able to use a tripod
- Most roads near the construction site are at the same level as the start of the tower (to my knowledge, anyway)
- The A2 highway north of the tower has elevated soundproof walls, so anything on the other side of the A2 is not an option.
- Details on the tower are here.
Update: I might actually use my Canon 450D for this project. Based on this blogpost, the construction company has contacted me that they are interested in the project and would like to cooperate.
August 19th, 2009 by Ivo
Somebody just kindly reminded me that it's been over 3 months since I last posted on my blog. Oh my.
What kept me busy mostly the past months is my new home. I moved to Utrecht (which is more in the center of The Netherlands, so I can get around more easily) with Leoni, and as developers say, the house is "90% done". So it'll keep us busy for a few months.
Things at Ibuildings are hectic as always. Our UK office is growing like crazy and is nearly half the size of our NL operation already. And we're working hard to get our Italian office up and running. Behind the scenes we're already working on things there, so if you're looking for a cool PHP job in Italy, drop me an email (ivo at ibuildings dot com). (Actually Ibuildings NL and UK are looking for senior developers too, if you're interested). After a succesful DPC back in June, we're planning a few more events so keep an eye on the Ibuildings website for news on those.
Another thing that has kept me busy is one of my personal pet projects, Flackr, a twitter based breaking news aggregation site. It has fairly basic functionality at this point (we've been mainly working on the news aggregation and event detection algorithms), but will eventually grow into a 'newsroom 2.0' type application with pro features for journalists. Here's an example of how it tracks tweets related to the Hurricane Bill including pictures. Contrary to many twitter aggregators, it doesn't follow the masses, but trusted sources only.
Finally, I'm happy to announce that I've started work on a new book. Enterprise PHP sold very well and it's not outdated yet, but writing it was addictive and now I just feel like writing another one. The book will be about PHP and Cloud Computing. This time around I'm not working on it alone, I'm co-authoring it with Vito Chin, author of the GMagick PHP extension, among many other things. The expected publication date is early 2010.
That's it for now; I hope to pick up blogging with more actual content after summer.
May 4th, 2009 by Ivo
More and more content on the internet is 'real time'. Twitter messages, news feeds, pictures, facebook, etc.. Where we used to browse the web for things that have mostly been written in the past, more and more of our internet minutes are spent watching things that 'just happened'.
I see this as a threat to Google, and it wouldn't surprise me if they finally manage to buy Twitter, because Twitter helps them become more 'real time'.
To give an example, I was just trying to update my profile picture on Twitter, and this didn't work. For some reason it refused my pic without an apparent error messsage. Possibly I'm uploading something wrong, so first I googled for 'twitter profile picture' and got this result:
Then, I did the same search on Twitter Search and the result was this:
As you can see, this tells me that in the past 22 minutes, multiple people had this problem. (Ironically you can also see from their avatars that it actually is a problem). The Google results on the other hand, have nothing that is relevant if you take into account the 'now' factor.
This is just an example. Searching for 'current content' is getting more and more relevant. Comments on a live show on tv or an address to the nation by the president; Google is useless in finding these things.
So it is my humble opinion that either a) Google will buy Twitter, Facebook or another 'real time' content site, or b) Google will release an updated Google Search that takes the whole 'now' into account in its search results.
March 1st, 2009 by Ivo
Many conferences and events follow a simple principle. They use a short tag for twitter (e.g. #dpc) and a full tag for less real-time content (e.g. dpc09 on Flickr or blogs). It's not a rule that's set in stone, but it kind of emerged as a best practice based on people's experiences. Other conferences stick to one tag, such as "phpuk2009" last friday.
For those that don't adhere to this best practice, here are the most important reasons for doing so:
- You only have 140 chars on Twitter. The shorter your tag, the more actual content you can add.
- Many attendees use a phone to tweet, and many phones use a T9 editor. Again, the shorter the better. Also, entering a year such as '2009' not only requires 4 key presses, it requires 4 'hold' keypresses on many phones, or it requires the T9-editor to be set to numeric mode first.
- Findability. This morning I was trying to find blogs and pictures from #phpuk2009. Because the same tag was used on all media, the blog posts were hard to find between hundreds of tweets in the Google results. While it's interesting to find those as well sometimes, their real-time nature makes it much less interesting as a search result once the event is over (and it's far more easier to use search.twitter.com to view them in the correct order.
To sum up a few counterarguments:
- When you search it's hard to distinguish between different installments of the event. While I'd say that in blogs and Flickr and other things you would search through Google that is true (I recommend always adding '09' to tags there), for Twitter that is not an issue, because your search is always in order of date anyway.
- "I have phone X, it's really easy to add the year to any tag." Sure, but not everyone has phone X.
- For conference organizers, it's harder to scan the web for relevant content if different tags are used. Actually that's not the case: it's easier to find relevant non-realtime content and relevant realtime content when 2 different tags are used. See 'Findability' above.
There is a group of people that takes this a step further; they argue that a date should never be added to any tag, because appending a separate year tag makes it much more flexible (e.g. #dpc #2009). That's an interesting approach too, but makes it slightly less convenient for my taste (and generally requires even more characters), so I'll stick to #short for real-time content and #full09 for normal content.
What do you think?