Here at Clear Digital we’re all about collaboration and partnering with some of the best digital talent around, especially from the North West region.
Clear Digital’s roving reporter, Joseph, had a chat with Ben Gibbs of FlyThe.Coop to find out how co-operative work spaces are becoming more and more popular:
Like so many digital industry concepts, the idea of ‘co-working’ sprang to prominence in San Francisco several years ago, spreading across the States and Europe, with Manchester’s own FlyThe.Coop doing their bit for the city on Edge Street in the Northern Quarter.
Based in the same building as Manchester’s digital workshop Madlab, FlyThe.Coop’s key ethos is to ‘maintain a sustainable and active community of individuals, entrepreneurs and small businesses in the city centre, working together and sharing space’. They aim to represent a range of creative and technical industries, promoting collaboration and partnerships.
Four web developers Paul Robinson, Ben Gibbs, Andrew Threlfall and Ian Moss are the founding members of the co-operative, and as Gibbs explains, it has been an enjoyable and interesting journey to bring their project to fruition.
“It started four or five years ago when a group of people wanted to guage interest in co-working and organised monthly sessions at the Manchester Digital Development Agency,” he states. “There were only about 20 spaces for each co-working day and each month it was full, so it was clear that there was a demand.”
“About two years ago a few of us then decided to form a co-operative to promote and manage co-working in Manchester and we spent about 18 months trying to find the right venue to use as a co-working space.
Around October 2009 we started talking to Madlab, the Manchester digital laboratory, and they had found a building in the Northern Quarter. After some productive discussions we opened here at the beginning of January 2010.”
Like Openspace in Hulme, Old Broadcasting House in Leeds, The Cube in London and numerous other similar enterprises throughout the UK, FlyThe.Coop strive to bring together a healthy mix of permanent desk users and ‘hotdeskers’ from a variety of backgrounds in the name of innovation.
As Gibbs explains, “I’m a freelance web developer and the other permanent desk users range from a local poetry company, a web designer and some other web developers and then one of the desks is taken by Opera, the web browser, who have two employees who live and work in Manchester. They wanted an environment where they could work together, get things done and not be stuck in a coffee shop.”
“It’s quite a mix of backgrounds, and Fly The Coop is not exclusive to the digital industry but we just happen to be part of that community.
The other people using the space are hotdesking and one of the hopes we have for the collaboration is that if you have lots of different people coming in and out of the same space with different experiences, backgrounds, worldviews, skills and thinking, then you get a cross pollination of all of that. New, original or forward thinking products and services can emerge from the discussions in this space amongst these diverse groups of people.”
For further details visit FlyThe.Coop or contact Ben Gibbs directly, @bobop, email@example.com or 07811197374.
Tethering and Phone as a Wifi Hotspot capabilities look set to make this the greatest OS update to date. Expect the mobile networks to be keeping a very close eye on this one though…
Android 2.2, aka Froyo, and the 7th Android operating system release in less than 2 years was pushed out over the air this week to Google Nexus One users and first impressions are that the good stuff just keeps on coming.
Officially the headline improvements to the Android OS include:
- Performance & speed: The new Dalvik JIT compiler in Android 2.2 delivers between a 2-5X performance improvement in CPU-bound code vs. Android 2.1 according to various benchmarks.
- New enterprise capabilities: We’ve added Exchange capabilities such as account auto-discovery and calendar sync. Device policy management APIs allow developers to write applications that can control security features of the device such as the remote wipe, minimum password, lockscreen timeout etc
- Rich set of new APIs and services: New data backup APIs enable apps to participate in data backup and restore, allowing an application’s last data to be restored when installed on a new or a reset device. Apps can utilize Android Cloud to Device Messaging to enable mobile alert, send to phone, and two-way push sync functionality. Developers can now declare whether their app should be installed on internal memory or an SD card. They can also let the system automatically determine the install location. On the native side, a new API now gives access to Skia bitmaps.
- Additions to Android Market: Android Market provides Android Application Error Reports, a new bug reporting feature, giving developers access to crash and freeze reports from users. Developers will be able to access these reports via their account on the Android Market publisher website
However, from a practical perspective, some of the smaller touches are very much appreciated.
- Permanent Phone/Apps/Browser buttons now appear on each of the 5 home screens. Not only is this actually useful but it also frees up space on the default home screen now the Phone and Browser icons can be removed.
- Inserting of commas or other basic punctuation other than the full stop has been a slightly more laborious operation than it should have been requiring, as it did, either a hold down on the full stop key to reveal further punctuation or a press of the 123 button for the full range. Now, when pressing the space bar to continue to the next word, the area containing the usual word suggestions is populated with a ! ? , @ and (a bit oddly) _ which are all positioned correctly in the backspace next to the recently completed word.
- The calendar has received a facelift, as has the Google email inbox. Calendar is more visually appealing, with the green timespans on monthly view replaced by blue, better, more defined, intra day highlighting and subtly clearer viewing of clear days v busy days. Gmail inbox is also subtle in its changes but again is easier on the eye, slightly more definition and has better next/previous features when in the mail itself.
- The Google search box widget now has a big blue g (blue definitely seems to be the new green here) to the left of the search box which gives the option of splitting a search between “All”, “Web”, “Apps” or “Contacts”. Not completely sure how much more useful this is, but time will tell.
Biggest news of all, though, must be the introduction of USB tethering (the practice of using your mobile data connection to provide internet access for, say, your laptop which is a chargeable service across most mobile networks) and the ability to set your phone up as a wireless hotspot, sharing your data connection with up to 8 users.
- USB Tethering: This worked extremely well using an unlocked Nexus One with an O2 SIM only unlimited data package. Connect USB cable to the computer in the usual way, there’s a 1 button press on the phone, no other setup. Windows 7 detected and began to use this connection with no prompting after about 30 seconds. All activities, Skype, IM, Web, working fine.
- Phone as Wifi Hotspot: A bit more setting up to do on this one. Default setting is provided with an open connection however it is possible, and lets face it, advisable, to place WPA2 PSK security on the connection. Once setup though, the connection worked like any other. Connected to the wireless network through the computer and Skype, Web working perfectly. Just one glitch, no IM, which will require further investigation.
Overall this update, while hiding under the “2.2″ classification implying it isn’t a particularly major upgrade carries with it some seriously useful features.