App Video

Just a quick one. The ‘Valve Checker’ app I’ve been working on has a basic pre-launch YouTube video demoing its features. In terms of when it will be released, the app has been sent to our client so its at their digression, I’m hoping for sometime February.

P.S The video was meant to fully embedded into the post, but for some reason WordPress is acting up. Please click on the link instead. Thanks.

Back to school, JavaScript and 2013 review..

I mentioned in my previous post that I started an MSc in Computer Science at UCL. Hows it been I hear you ask? Both exhilarating and challenging in equal measures.

We’ve been programming in ‘Java’, which is new to me, but having had some experience in ‘C’ definitely helped (via an online MOOC ran by edx.org). I would note that the course was fast paced, and you could tell which students had minimal to no programming experience once we got into the thick of it. (Something to consider if you wish to enroll into something similar).

I’m currently doing an assessed internship, building a HTML5 web application which will allow heart surgeons to select the appropriate sized valve during aortic valve replacement surgery. Check out the poster below, which features a mock up. I hope to have it finished shortly. team22ucl.com has a more in depth look at the app, from idea to execution. The actual calculator is completely built on the client side, but using Node.js, the Express web framework and MongoDb, I was also able to build real time analytic’s based on the user data for the benefit of the client (also a heart surgeon).

Team22-poster

I’ve never been able to drop the entrepreneurial bug, so even this year, working with UCL advances and Nauce, I was able to get a few of GFMB (my old e-commerce business) products retailed at Shoreditch Box Park late Nov/December. When I started that business, one of my goals was to have some kind of legitimate brick and mortar presence, so I’m thankful for all the institutions involved for making that happen.

2013-11-17 17.02.52

(Me on the right)
2013-11-17 16.58.17

 (Some of the goodies on sale)

All in all its been a fun ride. The only professional regret I’ve have is that I didn’t build an Android application on the course, which may have to be a side project in the next few months. Anyway’s that’s it for 2013, fingers crossed 2014 is just as interesting.

 

 

Allow me to introduce myself…..

sf-rowing

Its been a while since my last post. Not since April have I uttered a word! . I’m slipping I know, but please forgive me as I’ve been rather busy. In the mean time a lot has changed. I’m a student again, which initially felt extremely surreal. University at 25 feels a whole lot different then University at 18, or even 21 for that matter. The gist of it is, I’m doing a Computer Science MSc at UCL. Its only been a month, but I’ve built and learnt a whole ton of stuff, some of which will be on my Github account shortly, the rest on the web. Unfortunately its meant that GFMB (my eCommerce business I started a while ago) has gone on the back-burner, but I have no regrets. I once saw Steve Jobs on my favourite TV channel (YouTube) say that building a great product is all about trade-off’s, you emphasise certain features over others etc etc, and I guess life is like that too. I went for education, for the investment of a year to learn what I could, and return stronger. Lets see if I’m right…

P.S You may have noticed that the blog look a tad different, I’m going for the basic look intentionally I can assure you!

Why Ecommerce is great, but can sometimes suck

Why eCommerce is great but can sometimes suck.

1. Easier to monetize
Versus building a trendy iPhone application with a million users and no way in hell of monetizing (and probably praying for an acquisition), eCommerce actually allows you to get paying customers relatively quickly (something of a novel idea to most ‘start ups’).

2. Low barriers to entry
The barriers to entry have never been lower. The technology to showcase your products (via WordPress, Shopify, Magento) are readily and cheaply available, as our payment solution (PayPal). You can leverage social media to amplify word of mouth, as well utilize third party platforms such as eBay & Amazon to reach millions.

3. Competition is rife
An iron law of economics (putting on my business student hat on now) is that lower barriers to entry increases competition. Profits in certain product categories are non-existent, i.e. electronics. (What is known as perfect competition in economics).

4. Scaling is tough
As opposed to software, eCommerce has what is colloquially known as strong laws of gravity. Which basically means there is still a lot of friction in achieving rapid growth. Purchase the wrong stock, and your stuck . Iteration? Practically forget it. If your a re-seller one way to mitigate this is risk, is to perhaps use the ‘drop ship’ model. If your a manufacturer however, you’d be well advice to prototype, and test demand.

How to survive university without (maybe) going broke and being completely unemployable.

This is a post for those without access to the bank of mum and dad. If you’re already wealthy feel free to ignore and click away. If however those fee increases have you sweating, then this might be for you. I wouldn’t say this is a one size fits all; some of you may be in situations where my suggestions are futile. But if you fall into that small percentage of people this could apply to, I hope this helps.

This will mostly put you into two camps. Camp A – ‘isn’t this just common sense’ and camp B (which I suspect will be the majority) ‘this takes away from the experience of university’. If you’re in former, I’d have to disagree with your assertion, common sense isn’t that common. For the rest, fair enough, we just have a fundamental disagreement about what to prioritize in this current economy.

1. Don’t Live Out.
I can hear the groan’s already. But I recommend that if live within a reasonable distance (let’s say an hour + commute), don’t bother. The difference in the debt you accumulate living out is considerable.

2. Work Part Time
Again, rather obvious, but it has to be said. Earning some money on the weekends will help considerably, and ties in too what I’m about to say next.

3. Save Like Crazy
If you’ve been able to follow the first two steps, and then you might have been able to stash away what you can. Avoid temptation, don’t splash your student loan/grants on a new wardrobe (or insert whatever your vice is). Save it. Put it into ISA. The interest rates available right now are crap. But it’s a whole lot better than seeing zero after your 4 years.

4. Do The Work Experience Year/Get Practical Skills.
If you didn’t know by now your actual degree isn’t worth anything to your future employer. They couldn’t care less how much you know about 19th century French poetry. Practical skill’s is what counts. (If your degree teaches you something practical and in demand then this need not apply)
The work experience year also neatly ties into point 3.
Make yourself valuable to whatever industry you want to get into. It’s basic supply and demand.
We have an abundance of free information around us online. There are now practically no barriers to learning something new.

5. Get a 2.1 or above
Self-explanatory. A lot of employers won’t even look at with less unfortunately. If you think there’s a chance you won’t make it, a small hack is to apply for jobs early that way your grades will be less of a factor. Also look at smaller companies that are less inclined to be over concerned with academic credentials. If you followed the previous steps in terms of work experience you should be okay.

Follow any or all of the above and you’ll be a thoroughly tired and miserable graduate with minimal debt and good job prospects.