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James Rutherford

Web, design, Newcastle, games and fun!

Archive

Archive for January, 2011

2011 is a year of opportunity for me.

First- big news. I’ve been accepted as part of a team on The Difference Engine (TDE). This is an acceleration programme for tech businesses, similar to the more established TechStars scheme in the U.S. By all accounts it’s an amazing course- well respected, a great intellectual environment and supported by some very clever people. They accept ten teams to develop over three months – with the aim of slapping, moulding and building our ideas into something commercially successful. It’s the second time it has run- and I hope our teams replicate the stellar success of the previous intake, many of whom now have valued businesses.

I’m co-founder of a company called MemoryMerge with Oli – this is the project we’ll be taking on TDE. I met Oli somewhere around the local network- he’s into electronics, cooking quirky food and brewing his own drinks. I expect he’ll be taking the lion’s share of technical development while I add design and some code into the mix. If you’re interested in following our progress, we’ll be maintaining a development blog and a Twitter account- I think it’s going to be a blast whatever happens!

Alongside this, I’m making plans with a friend of mine, Rob- another great guy I met around the Newcastle tech network, who is a rock solid web developer/project planner. We’ve worked on a couple of jobs collaboratively through 2010 and have a great idea for a web service which we’re expecting to kick off relatively soon.

Finally, during the latter part of 2010 I was meeting regularly with a few tech friends of mine to discuss a software development tool we might be able to build. I’m not going to be able to take much of a hand in initial stages (TDE will be taking up most of my time) but it’s hopefully something I can put something of myself into a little further down the line.

What about my existing work?

My current web clients needn’t panic- I’ll be able to find a small amount of time for general maintenance; larger jobs may be tricky in the near future, but I have the backup of Rob and others around the network to cover if needs be.

I’m really looking forward to the phenomenal opportunities opening up here, and wondering what I’ll be looking back at this time next year!

Dropbox gives me storage space for my files on the internet and appears on my desktop like a normal folder.

I can allow a number of computers to access the same Dropbox account, to share files between them quickly and easily. It also permits me to share certain folders within my account with specific other Dropbox users, or a group of people. This means that I can swap large Photoshop files with my clients very simply- without having to set up a special FTP area, or post a CD.

Pro Tip: Be a little careful when sharing files that may be edited by more than one person- with some software it’s possible to overwrite each others’ changes.

You can sign up for Dropbox here. Their free tier offers you 2GB of space to play with, though you and I will both get 250MB extra space for free if you use my referral link. Not bad!

TweetDeck helps me manage Twitter.

It’s especially useful for managing multiple accounts, or to keep a search stream running on particular terms or hashtags.

Pro Tip 1: By default, TweetDeck notifies you of any new posts, which is distracting. You can turn this off by finding the ‘Settings’ menu (the icon that looks like a spanner), selecting ‘Notifications’, clicking ‘Advanced Options for columns’ and unticking the alert sound boxes. I have streams set up for new posts, mentions and DMs on my main Twitter accounts, but alert notifications just on the latter two.

Pro Tip 2: You can filter out stuff you’re not interested in by using the ‘Global Filter’, also in the ‘Settings’ menu. I currently have mine set to filter out: ‘@runkeeper, rnkpr.com, 4sq.com, gowal.la, go.nike.com’.

You can download TweetDeck here. I also use TweetDeck on my iPhone- it’s a little buggy, but still my favourite Twitter client.

Spotify keeps me fed with music.

It’s a little like having your own personalised radio station- you can choose from a large catalogue of music, cue up and create playlists.

They no longer offer the tier that I have, but you can get 5 hours usage a month (ad-supported) for free. Paid for accounts offer uninterrupted music and the facility to download it to listen to offlline.

You can find out more about Spotify here.

TrueCrypt gives me peace of mind. Last year, my computer was stolen (and thankfully, recovered intact). TrueCrypt seamlessly locks a hard-disk drive with a password.

Pro Tip: Best time to set this up is with a clean, fresh computer! I have essentials (Windows, TrueCrypt software, web browser and virus software) on my primary drive and am trying to put everything else (programs and data) on my larger, encrypted drive. The justification being that [1] I should be able to operate on a basic level with the primary drive and [2] That I can remove the second drive and use it elsewhere if the primary drive fails.

You can download TrueCrypt here.