Business

Locked into the cloud?

There was an interesting article last week on the Guardian site where Richard Stallman took a pop at the rising use of ‘cloud computing’ - where computing resources and applications are delivered on demand to your devices via the magic of the interweb. Now, I don’t find myself particularly aligned with Mr Stallman a lot of the time, but he definitely has a very good point in this instance; although I do think the argument was too highly generalised (which probably came from the journalist rather than Stallman).

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Milestones

personal philosophy work

I’m the kind of person who likes to keep busy; not in a ‘mad about DIY / the garden’ kind of way that tends to be the most socially acceptable form of being a ‘project oriented person’, but I always have a bunch of things on the go and never seem to have enough time to do them all. I’m always ‘working’ evenings & weekends, but a lot of the time I really don’t think of it as work, because a large portion of the time I’m doing exactly what I want to do.

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Streaming media from Amazon S3

Thanks John for the reminder to investigate S3 as a business media hosting service, it works like a charm! Now that I have far fewer bandwidth worries (max $0.17 per GB), the Torus Knot site includes a nifty dynamic selector so you can pick low, medium or high quality - the latter is at a higher resolution too, clocking in at about 100Mb. I may well use S3 for future public commercial downloads in the future too.

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New OgreSpeedTree media up

A few people asked for an OgreSpeedTree video with more varied scenes, and I’ve now uploaded one to the OgreSpeedTree section of the Torus Knot site. Just scroll down below the screenshots if you want to view the video. I have a higher resolution & better quality version (this one is H.264 at 1Kb/s) but I’ve kept this one small for now to keep my bandwidth under control. Places like Vimeo don’t allow commercial advertising, and while before I could get away with claiming it was just in-development test output shared with enthusiasts only, this is really an advertisement video so I’m hosting it myself.

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8000 trees and 2.5M blades of grass? No problem.

I’ve been crazily busy lately trying to get OgreSpeedTree to a fit state for a 1.0 release alongside other projects (such as Ogre of course), so I can really start promoting it. Being the kind of person I am, I find it hard to stop tinkering and perfecting and I can’t let something go out the door without being totally happy with it. The screenshots and videos so far have been good I think, but I’ve been polishing away and making it all just that bit better, and one element of that has been some additional optimisation.

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OgreSpeedGrass

Next in the line of OgreSpeed* products, here’s a shot of OgreSpeedGrass. It’s based on IDV’s SpeedGrass but I’ve rewritten a fair amount to make it work conveniently with Ogre, and also improved it somewhat - such as better wind effects and the completely dynamic lighting and shadowing you see there, which I think looks rather nice. OgreSpeedGrass will be bundled with a yearly support agreement for OgreSpeedTree, in the same way that the original SpeedGrass is licensed.

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Great video on making money as a startup

37signals Business rails

David Heinemeier Hansson is famous for being the guy that invented Ruby on Rails and running 37Signals; I have mixed feelings about Rails personally (great for some things, not so great for others, but then that applies to pretty much every technology), but this presentation he did on making money as a tech startup is very good indeed - insightful yet very amusing. He presents in an online context for the most part but as he says himself, the principles apply to all kinds of product.

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Exchange rate gambling: I win for a change!

One of the problems with doing most of your business internationally is that you’re at the mercy of currency exchange rates, with the ever-present possibility of losing money just because the market changed. In the last couple of years the Pound has steadily got stronger against the Dollar, meaning it’s not a case of whether I lose, but rather how much. It has also meant that for new work I either have to stick to my Pound rates and risk being less competitive, or just accept a lower & ever-depreciating Dollar rate in order to secure the work.

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Inflated pricing models

My wife mentioned to me a week or so ago that one of her work colleagues had recently had a hard drive crash on her laptop. Having replaced it, she wanted to try to get some of the data back from the disk, because she had a lot of family photos on there which were not backed up (I’m sure this experience has informed her future back-up plans). However she had taken it to a local store, which I won’t name, who quoted her £600 to recover the photos.

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Mixing Open Source & Business - my take

Business ogre

Bruce Byfield wrote an interesting article (discovered via Matt ‘Alfresco’ Asay’s blog, which should be required reading for anyone in this field) about the sometimes unsteady alliance between open source and business that, on the whole, I agreed with - within a given context. I do think, however, that his context was weighted towards the larger players in market that are fusing open source with business opportunities though, and wanted to share some of my experiences and conclusions from the perspective of a more individual player in the business.

Apologies for the length of this article, I had a lot to say 😀

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