Monthly Archives: January 2016

Foods and Drinks and More Talks

hummusThis year we have a list of suppliers that aren’t just local, make really tasty food and drink, and fit into the theme of side project to main projects to companies. We’ve also had an entirely new theme emerge.

Food and drink are always a big part of monkigras. It’s not just about keeping everyone fed and watered and happy, it’s also a chance to give people who do something differently a platform to talk about it.

Our journey of talking to people who talk to people who knew people ended in finding suppliers who care, and not just about creating something really tasty. We seem to be looking at new ways of sourcing raw materials, as well as using up unwanted resources. Finding creative ways of dealing with food waste, developing new models of food sustainability and emphasising food equality.

We’ll have drinks and talks from Alpine Wines,  Colby Brewery, London Brewing Co, The Kernel Brewery, Coleman’s Cider, Toast Ale and beer from Partizan Brewing

And foods from Bow Food, Aphrodites Food, Wise Sage, SofflesRaw Cheese PowerChicPDrum and Kernel PopcornHackney Lick, and ManiLife.

Can’t wait for you to try all the things!

A word from the non-coding crafter and knitting circle facilitator

10959131_10155159667395068_4943357324312581790_nLast year was my first monkigras. It was full-on madness. Not only was I invited to run the knitting circle on the Friday afternoon but I also gave a talk – the theme was Nordic crafts, and my choice was easy, really. Models in Icelandic jumpers, not boring slides. It was great.

I’d never been before. I knew James and his conferences/parties had been on my radar, but never in a million years would I, as a non-coder, have intruded in these hallowed halls full of people building great things. I don’t do hack days either, for the same reason.

It’s not like I’m totally non-technical. I used to code. I wrote websites in pure html. Even on the crafting side, the knitting machine I got since last year’s monkigras has a 25 year old computer built-in and I figured that out. (And programmed an Escher pattern, of course.) But I just don’t feel like I’m part of the digital maker scene. I am committedly on the side of ‘helping people even less technical than me deal with the new normal.’

(Although it’s somehow much tougher finding work on this side. So one of my resolutions for this year is doing an Agile Foundation course. I’m scared already.)

Last year’s monkigras dealt with all my inhibitions about attending, and it did it well. I was invited as a crafter, I didn’t somehow have to make my craft relevant to software developers. It was, of course, great for me to run the knitting circle, and I think people enjoyed it. This year’s theme is still craft, with some of the amazing craft beer scene involved, whose beers you’ll get to try, but also some knitting-related content. And I’ll run another knitting circle on the Friday, of course.

We’ll have amazing food, watch a movie and play some games.

Maybe we’ll even get a spinning wheel to admire. I’m still working on that.

Conferences that don’t invite speakers selling anything are sometimes the most difficult to explain. What, nobody is going to tell me exactly what I need to do to succeed? But the people building stuff now are the ones changing the world. What you create is what’s going to affect everyone’s lives – on different scales, sure.

So get your heads out of your code and your plans and into something entirely different and see what happens.

See you at monkigras 2016 – or on twitter.  I’m @the_anke.

Building a Startup in 45 Minutes per day While Deployed to Iraq

I came across this amazing story yesterday and wanted to share it with you, given our theme this year – turning side projects into communities, products and companues. Matthew Mazur built a startup while on active duty in Iraq, which he later parlayed into a role at Automattic. I was interested to learn that the US military actively encourages hobbies or side projects during downtime, which makes a huge amount of sense.

You may one day find yourself in a position where you’re eager to work on a startup but limited by the amount of time you can put into it due to a day job, family or other obligations. In this post I would like to share with you all the story behindLean Domain Search, a domain name generator that I built in about 45 minutes per day during a 5-month deployment to the Middle East. If you’re struggling to find time to put into your startup, I hope this convinces you that you can accomplish a lot over time by putting a small amount of work into it each day.

As for answering support requests from the field, well that’s pretty staggering.

We worked 12-hour days every day for the entire deployment including weekends. I need roughly 8-9 hours of sleep to function at full capacity which left me with about 3-4 hours at the end of each day to have a meal, exercise, shower, chat with my wife, hang out with my coworkers, unwind and maybe work on my side project. In practice, that usually was about 45 minutes per day. Sometimes more, but often not at all.

Fortunately, there were never any major issues with my other projects during the deployment. A few small bugs surfaced, but nothing that impacted many users. I still had access to my email so I could respond to support requests when I had time. And because I was working on the new domain name generator locally on my laptop, I could work on it without worrying that there would be issues in production

I take my hat off to Matthew. He really exemplifies the urge to create and maintain things. His post is well worth a read.

If you’re considering working on a startup but can’t make the leap to do it full time for whatever reason, remember that even a few hours per week can have a huge impact in the long run.

Stick with it. Amazing things can happen.