James Mead by James Mead

Week 217

Early in the week we had our monthly company drinks outing. We decided to go for a day out in Tom’s home patch of Camberwell before he moves to north-east London. Unfortunately, as I mentioned in the last set of notes, I was ill at the beginning of the week and missed out on a trip to the local art gallery for lunch and evening pub trip. But by all accounts a good time was had by all and Chris and James A made it safely back north of the river.

Printer kit

Printer, the open-source internet-connected receipt printer project, has received a steady stream of interest and in the middle of the week, James A made good on an earlier promise and offered printer kits for sale to people in the UK. This is a bit of an experiment for us, but our main aim is to get more Printers out into the world thereby encouraging people to experiment and build more content services for them.

I’m in the process of assembling my own Printer kit at home and it’s definitely very straightforward. So if you previously read about Printer and were inspired to have a go, but were put off by the need to solder electronic components, go to the GFR “store” now and buy yourself a kit!

At Chris’ suggestion and by James A’s efforts, we’ve started publishing a weekly curated set of links. Chris is an avid consumer of such curated lists of links. He mentioned the Hacker Newsletter, Pivotal Labs Blog, FreeAgent Friday, Unboxed Consulting Developer Notes and the Protein Supplement as good examples he’d like to emulate. Hopefully people will find our links useful - please let us know what you think.

Ruby Manor

James A his Ruby Manor 4 co-conspirators had a busy time facilitating the selection of talk proposals. Although only half of my selections made it into the final list, it looks like there’s going to be a very interesting set of talks. I really welcome the anonymous proposal that they’ve adopted this year and it must be very encouraging to see other conferences starting to use the Vestibule code.

Share registry

I spent some more time trying to work out whether the idea I mentioned last week had any merit. Following a suggestion by one of my colleagues, I tried to build a simple marketing landing page. I have mixed feelings about how this is going. Writing marketing copy is definitely not my forte, but if we’re to become a more product-oriented company, it’s something I’m going to need to get better at.

One of my main reservations is that at this point the software is essentially vapour-ware, however, since this product is essentially an improvement on existing offerings, rather than a completely novel product, perhaps it is right to try to test the market without investing time and effort in a prototype.

Something else I’ve found rather difficult is that, in wanting to make the product sound valuable, I’ve ended up widening the scope beyond what I originally intended as the MVP to include other company secretarial services. I really hope this was due to my considered re-appraisal of the value proposition and not just me descending into the over-selling marketeering-speak which I so despise. Anyway hopefully I’ll have something to share soon.


Although we haven’t done much work on Harmonia recently, Tom’s been busy writing up a blog post about his recent changes to the task assignment algorithm. For some reason which is not entirely clear to me it seems to involve him writing some ClojureScript, but I’m sure all will be revealed in the not too distant future.

Non-disclosure agreements

As we’ve mentioned previously, we’re lucky enough to have a reasonably steady stream of interest from potential clients, and we make a conscious effort to try and speak to everyone at least once. As part of this from time to time we get asked to sign an NDA before the meeting.

While we’re more than happy to agree not to talk to anyone about a project, we’re unwilling to sign an NDA unless we’re being paid for our time. This is because signing an NDA involves significant costs in terms of time and potential lawyer fees and it restricts our ability to do business with other clients who may come to us with similar ideas. In summary:

Designs of the year

It was good to see a bit more of our friend and office guest, Tom Stuart, who has recently surfaced after completing work on his book: Understanding Computation. We also got to see the GOV.UK demo that he’s knocked up for the Design Museum’s Designs of the year 2013 to demonstrate the site’s responsive design. It looks really good!

Anyway, that’s all for now. I’m off on holiday for a couple of weeks.

Until next time.

– James.

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