This photo of Caitlin and me was taken more than a week ago. She helped us review and refine the copy for this website about nine months ago (before I took the reins and butchered her work - sorry).
It used to be that I would find the time to blog an update, but the time I used to devote to blogging has diminished over the past few months, eroded by various and unexpected demands on my time. It happened in creeps, barely noticeable each day, until - this blog has been inactive for two weeks.
Anyway... no longer. We are going to be back, and we are going to give you more updates on what VIVA is going to be doing in the near future!
We ended the Easter long weekend with a shareholders' meeting in our new offices at Jones Bay Wharf, and so working on VIVA received less attention that it needed this weekend. Adam is probably going to be disappointed at my lack of work... and I am too.
Sam messaged last week volunteering to help, but I am somewhat disorganised at the moment, so I have not called on his time as I know I should. This will also disappoint Adam, probably.
There were also QA tasks to be done, and I have not attended to those either...
But... new office! Yay!
Merry Christmas, everyone!
We have been off celebrating with friends and family.
Syed and Hassan released a version of VIVA a few days ago (just in time for Christmas) which is waaaay faster than the previous versions. They rewrote all the script from the ground up to get the speed improvement. Right now, Android seems about twice as fast as iOS - which is unexpected, but pleasant! Syed is going to look into why iOS is slower than Android... but not for a few more days!
We are taking the time off!
Have a great break, everyone!
Nick organised a Christmas party for us to sail around Sydney Harbour on a luxury yacht... and it was amazing!
I was not a fan of boat parties because they meant we were stuck together without any means of escape (I was never the strongest of swimmers - there is a long and embarrassing story about how I learnt to swim at the age of 14, but I think that is best saved for if and when we are having a beer) - what if it is terrible? What do we do? Of course, the answer is you do everything to turn the situation around so that everyone is having a good time.
I am a fan now. I think we are going to make all of our future Christmas parties boat parties.
In other news...
Another former Facebook executive has spoken out about the harm the social network is doing to civil society around the world. Chamath Palihapitiya, who joined Facebook in 2007 and became its vice president for user growth, said he feels “tremendous guilt” about the company he helped make. “I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works,” he told an audience at Stanford Graduate School of Business, before recommending people take a “hard break” from social media.
It gives me a great deal of hope that people are increasing turning away from social media. That is a really long story, and I am not in the right head space to go into that idea for now.
Would you believe that I used to be great at writing blog posts and stories a few years ago? ... me neither.
Syed, Ian and Adam should form a human barricade to keep me from touching our system settings. Better yet, they should take the passwords off my incapable hands.
We switched our email server over to G Suite earlier this morning - for those in the know, this should only require a change to our MX records on the DNS, but I ended up changing everything... and this stuffed up where our app needed to be pointing as well. Oh dear... so for a couple of hours, all of our apps were confused and not quite sure where to go to find the information. Hopefully, this will be fixed shortly.
Strictly speaking, our apps should have never referred to the domain name, but instead should have pointed directly to the right IP address... but there have been some legacy issues in our codebases which we are fixing one bit at a time (pun intended). Syed and Hassan have been going through, and bringing the source code up to best practice, but we haven't quite gotten through the full volume of work.
While Syed and Hassan are going through to fix the source code one line at a time, I am out having meetings with people, like Ryan, trying to make sure that there continues to be growing business prospects for VIVA.
I think I have the easier end of the stick.
Starting on a tangent: I think we have a tendency to overestimate the capabilities of technology. I used the Samsung auto blur background tool to treat the photo of Tina and Reece, and produced a substandard result that seems badly Photoshopped. The photo team at Samsung have quite a way to go to catch up to Apple.
Tangent to a tangent: that word "Photoshopped" reminds me of a great app Allan and Nicole discovered last week called "Screenshop", which helps people identify and buy clothing based on photos. It is a really cool piece of tech!
What happened this week?
It's Sam's birthday today - happy 29th, you old man. Instead of celebrating with him, I am days behind in terms of work, and trying desperately make heads and tails of everything.
It has been an extremely busy week, and so the blog has once again fallen victim to my neglect. I think this is why I cannot have a pet. Poor Rover would have died of starvation and loneliness long ago. It seems that my forgetfulness also led to a lot of missed photo opportunities, like coffee with Syed, chats with Matt and Paul, meeting Francois, meeting Janelle, and all the other meetings before and between.
I think perhaps it was a week of too many meetings and too little doing.
This post will end here. I have to collect my thoughts, and write something more meaningful and insightful later.
Saturday morning, and here I am back in front of the battle station. I am calling my home office the "battle station" to give it a fantasy ring, in my head. I am still in my Qantas pajamas - the battle uniform - that I got when I used to flying to Mozambique every month. Those were great times. I wish I had saved more of these Qantas pajamas!
"I am going to be at home on Saturday night doing client work," Andrea lamented at the end of our Friday marathon marketing blitz.
I want to create a shared office where only approved people (like Andrea) are allowed to work there, so that everyone can help each other and do amazing things together. I think that idea has already been implemented by the folks at Work Club where Matt and Anthony have their offices.
(Wait a minute. Isn't that a bit elitist?)
Two more of the junior lawyers are leaving the law firm in the next week, and so they organised an informal farewell drinks last night at Uncle Ming's in the city (they have a very cool YouTube video on their site, which I only just discovered - I am now rocking out to the music in my battle uniform - what do you call this genre of music - 70s rock? Country rock?).
I miss those guys a lot. I think the big reason I want to create a Work Club environment is so that we could have a big family of work peeps again.
Ian and I went through the current algorithms we are using in VIVA on Friday morning, and we talked a little about our secret weapon - the algorithms that figure out whether any event is going well or not well in real time. That secret weapon won't be live for a little longer - at least not until we have gathered more data for the predictive model. I had been trying to learn Python in my spare time to prepare for when we have gathered enough data - for those who are not into computing, Python is a coding language. It is not the animal, though I could probably learn parseltongue a little faster than the coding language.
This division of labour makes sense - Syed and Hassan take care of the apps, Ian takes care of the server and web side, and I take care of the machine learning coding.
We spoke for another 15 minutes at the entry to World Square after we were kicked out of the cafe. It was already past 5pm, but I could sense that Lee's work day was far from over, and I guessed he sensed the same about mine.
"The end game," I continued, "is to show someone just two or three events when they open VIVA, and for them to react, wow, that is exactly what I wanted!"
Lee is one of the founders of Giggable, and along with Ricky, introduced us to Syed. In that way, Lee and Ricky are the heroes who saved VIVA from a slow and miserable development path.
I met Ricky months ago, but Lee and I had only ever emailed or called. He indirectly introduced us to Ticketek, and I had not thanked him in person until today.
They want to build a platform that turns the traditional technology consultancy model on its head - giving the consultants who do the work the bulk of the financial rewards, rather than giving them a small fraction - so they created Giggable.
Yesterday was a BIG day of meetings!
I had been hunkered down on product development and other desk jockey work for the last couple of weeks, leaving the business development stuff to Nicola so having three back-to-back meetings felt "big". That said, the third one wasn't even a real meeting, but attending 2 One Another performed by the Sydney Dance Company.
Having lost all of my social skills, the only thought I had in the first 10 minutes of the performance was, "I wish I could touch my toes. I should stretch."
Nick is playing a chilled jazz track turned up to 11 this Friday afternoon, and the beers are here.
That is a pretty strong signal it is the end of the working week.
I will have to introduce our new marketing consultant Andrea in another blog post.
It has been a busy couple of days at VIVA central, and so the blogging has fallen by the wayside a little - as I was saying a week ago, I wish I had a clone... though I doubt my clone could have done any of the coding that Syed was doing with any proficiency... so I think I just want a cloning machine and then make clones of people as and when required.
I haven't left my home office for days. People tell me that the weather in Sydney over the weekend was amazing.
"You don't say," I would answer. I had no idea.
Reece and I caught up this morning about a starting new project we are calling Project Klink. It uses the same sorts of machine learning algorithms as VIVA to solve a very different problem. I am optimistic about this project because it is another means of validating VIVA's algorithms, and I expect I will learn a lot from Project Klink to help make VIVA even better. We haven't formed plans yet, but they will surely come in time.
I had a coffee with Tom as well this morning. Tom used to help us with the business development side of VIVA. He was the one who connected us with the marketing manger at Bell Shakespeare. It has been about two months since we chatted - entirely my fault, for being absorbed in my own narrow world.
We swapped our latest stories. I told Tom about the happenings with VIVA, and the latest news of how we received a nice rejection email from TechCrunch this morning:
I wondered if machine learning is not sexy enough.
Tom told me a little story about how far VIVA is spreading, "A mate of mine asked me about VIVA the other day. His mates told him about VIVA, and asked if that was the app I was working on. Yeah it was! I had been telling him for months, and then he heard about it from a mate of a mate!"
I messaged the team on Slack something to the effect of, "Team, it is a pity about TechCrunch. I guess we will just have to make VIVA a success the old fashioned way!"