A Quirky Tale: How a startup did everything “right” but got it all wrong.

This Pando article about Quirky (link valid for 48 hrs unless you’re a paid member) is well worth a read.

I’ve not paid attention to Quirky save for thinking it was a cool concept when I came across it a few years ago.

Despite perfect timing, great funding, and a strong vision its now sadly in fire straits. A few good lessons for anyone creating marketplaces and on the fact that creativity can’t really be productised.

As an aside, Pando’s paywall is one of the few I’ve found worth paying the monthly $10 for – their content seems to have actually improved since introducing this new model.

Nexus 6 Review: Don’t buy it

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I recently got hold of a Nexus 6 in order to familiarize myself with Android. Its a great device in many ways but there’s one thing that had I known about previously would have made me not buy it.

It’s this: the back is not flat.

I’m very often at my desk with my phone flat on the table beside me. Or possibly just using the phone. Because the back is curved this means that tapping pretty much anywhere on the screen jiggles and wobbles the phone.

That’s just bad design.

Android is another matter. I’ve been quite impressed with some of the Google integration features so far. Need more time to form a proper opinion.

(Another) 200 Dead

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Another shipwreck off Libya leaves around 200 dead. The most tragic and gut wrenching part of this latest event is this:

The boat is believed to have capsized after migrants rushed to one side of the ship as mobile units from the Irish rescue carrier approached it.

What panic and despair there must have been on that boat to create such a mad rush that it would capsize the entire boat.

If you want to help you can donate to MOAS or to the Jesuit Refugee Service.

A Responsible “iGaming” Company…

A responsible “iGaming” company is one that chooses to not be in business.

What is permissible is not always honourable – Cicero

It is impossible to live in Malta if you’re involved in the software industry and not constantly run into the online betting or gaming companies – or people who work for them. A rough estimate based on LinkedIn puts almost half of my Maltese connections (those working in software) on the payroll at a gaming company. Of my ex-colleagues and students who’ve chosen an entrepreneurial path, a large number have started companies that service the gaming industry.

To say this is disappointing to me is an understatement.

Of all the industries Malta could have become associated with “iGaming” is possibly one of the worst. The clue is in the fact that it is an industry that requires a “responsible gaming foundation” to educate and protect users from the perils of gaming. A business whose core product or service means that its users run the risk of irresponsible spending, addiction, and bankruptcy is unethical. An industry that lends itself to money-laundering practices becomes complicit in cocaine trafficking and the associated widespread harm that “industry” in turn generates.

Of course its not illegal to run or work for a gaming company. Just like its not illegal to operate or work for a physical casino. Just like its not illegal to operate or work for a tobacco company or a strip club.

But every time I see a LinkedIn notification that so-and-so is now working for OnlineSimpleBet Group a part of me dies inside.

[UniqGroup] Employees hung around most of the day but looked understandably worried.

[UniqGroup] Employees hung around most of the day but looked understandably worried.

I just wish Malta hadn’t gone down this road. Apart from the ethical side of things, these kind of industries are fickle. These companies and entrepreneurs only came here because the environment (tax, finance, and legal setup) was made hospitable for them. Once the environment turns sour (eg by attracting the attention of Mafia and other investigators) all it takes is for another jurisdiction to offer slightly better or “safer” conditions and the “gaming economy” will disappear in the space of a few years. Leaving behind a host of ex-employees skilled only in non-transferable gaming-related practices and with nowhere to transfer them to in any case.

We have many talented developers, entrepreneurs, and designers and we could have just as easily made it possible for them to work in a hi-tech or startup environment that is focused on a more ethical, and ultimately more long-lasting, industry.

#ILookLikeAnEngineer

Tech is still remarkably sexist. On second thoughts maybe this is not so surprising because the world is still remarkably sexist.

It’s still pretty common to come across men who are “surprised” that women can code. A lot of them are also surprised that they can code well.

I’ve been lucky to have studied and worked (and still do) with some pretty amazing female coders and – shock horror – they’re as diverse a group as their male counterparts. Some are weird, some are geeky, some are introverts, and some are party animals.

The #ILookLikeAnEngineer hashtag campaign on Twitter aims to highlight exactly that. Check out what people are posting.