How to prioritize your ideas and feature requests?

I spent my last 10-15 years working on different stages of the product life-cycle and the experience I acquired helped me to build something that I am about to share with everyone.

Problem

One of the challenges in running a startup is that you have lots of ideas on how to grow, but you don’t know which plan to execute first and which one has a better chance to succeed because you love them all.

 

Solution

Neeoo - A prioritization Matrix that works

I have combined a few approaches in a powerful prioritization matrix with instructions on how to use it for ANY business.

  • Easy to use – you need just 15 min to get started
  • Flexible – it adapts to your business model
  • Unique – you could prioritize marketing experiment or features, especially if you don’t have data to support your theory.

Take it

I want to share that with you, for free. If you are ready to accelerate your growth, click here to join my ProductHunt upcoming campaign or send me an e-mail to bogomil at talkweb.eu

The Wind Through the Keyhole and the future of APIs

I was reading today the great article about the unknown aspects of REST and I thought that it’s finally time to talk, or in my case write more about the future of the APIs, but first let me invite you to the magical world of Stephen King’s novel The Wind Through the Keyhole and in the precise moment when the Ka-tet are hiding from the Starkblast.

In this very moment Roland tells a story that inspired me to write an article about APIs. Let me remind you the the story very shortly.

A very short summary of the story. Keep attention

The story starts off about a boy named Tim Ross who suffers a tragedy when his father Big Ross is killed by a dragon. A few months later his mother, Nell, marries his father’s best friend, Big Kells, so they can pay the Covenant Man their yearly taxes. Things start going wrong when Big Kells starts to beat Tim’s mom. It starts to get worse until tax time comes and the Covenant Man gives Tim a magical key that can open any lock. Tim opens Big Kells chest and finds his father’s axe and his father’s lucky coin. Enraged, Tim goes to talk to the Covenant Man who is in the endless forest. Once he gets there the Covenant Man shows him the body of his father and a vision of Big Kells beating his mother until she is blind.

Afterwards Tim runs home and checks on his mother who is aided by his previous teacher Widow Smack. He vows for revenge. Big Kells has disappeared and Tim wants to help his mother so he seeks out the Covenant Man again but only finds his wand. But he is able to see a man giving him an item that will help his mother’s vision. It turns out it is Maerlyn, a powerful wizard. Tim tells Widow Smack of his plans and she warns him not to go but she gives him a rifle because she knows she cannot convince him otherwise. Tim then sets out into the endless forest to find Maerlyn.

Along the way Tim is tricked by a sighe who leads him onto an  Fagonard Swamp island where he is almost killed by a dragon, alligators, and is being jeered on by Mudmen across the lake. He finally kills an alligator with his rifle and the Mudmen then believe he is a gunslinger.

They help him off the island and give him a device from the old people…

Let’s talk about the device

I will stop telling you the story about Tim and will start the story about the future of APIs. Before I begin, I want to encourage you to buy the book and read the rest of the story and maybe the whole Dark Tower series. The movie sucks, by the way.

Allright. Let’s focus on the device. What happens with Tim next – he discovers that the device can do some stuff, like orientation in an off-road terrain, connection to (gps) satelite, turning the light on and off and answering questions. The description might sound like a modern Nokia for you (of course I am talking about the lights), but it does something more and those functionalities are not supported yet by any modern device.

Why don’t we look at the use-cases:

UC1: Can I eat that?

One of the questions the little Tim asked is ‘can I eat that mushroom’ and the device replied, hell no, this is deadly.

So the intent here is that the boy is hungry and he asks the device for information. How does the device know that this is edible or no in the context of the current technical world:

  1. Point the camera to the plant
  2. Send the image to be recognized
  3. Check if edible = true
  4. Return the result together with some information
  5. Store the info for future use.

UC2: Is this person bad?

I am not sure if that question was asked directly in the novel, but when we are talking about Maerlyn in the Dark Tower, we must ask the question.

The intent here is to understand if this person has a good reputation or ot in this case. How do we do that:

  1. Describe the person if there is no picture
  2. Analyze the content
  3. Form a hypothesis and return the score in good/bad scale

If I am not mistaken the returned result was something like 50/50, maybe useless, maybe not, because it brings some hope to Tim.

There are more use-cases in the book and I am sure there are more use-cases in your head on what a device like that could do.

APIs

So, what is the connection with the API? If you look at the use-cases above, you might ask yourself – are there any mobile applications which are currently covering these use-cases? Of course there are. Are there any APIs that do that? Most probably they exists. Then what is the problem?

Problem 1: The applications cover just one use-case, they are locked and they do not expose the information to the rest of the eco-system. What if I have an use-case similar to use-case one, but not for mushrooms, but for a plant or an animal? Shall I eat that animal or I shall run from it?

Problem 2: the APIs for many use-cases exist but it is not very easy to find them or to search for them from a device or a machine.

Let’s try and see if we could transform one of the use-cases in basic API calls to some services:

  1. Open and search google for image recognition API
  2. Plenty of options, some of them not really useful
  3. Select one to explore or go to Programmableweb or other discovery service and repeat 1
  4. I have found one, let’s use Imagga
  5. Learn how to use it and get the results.
  6. The search for a mushroom recognition API, repeat 5
  7. Combine the result and return it to the consumer

Even if they have an API blueprint this could take days to implement.

Then what?

What if we have a way the devices to find and request the APIs they need. Imagine a request that does that:

  1. Searches the API discovery service to find APIs for image recognition ordered by maturity and latency (we need good results, right)
  2. Then returns the API blueprint as a result to the most useful for us API
  3. Then searches for another API that could take the result of API 1, discovered in point 2 and to return the result to the consumer
  4. …and all this for milliseconds.
  5. Then repeat this for another use-case

This problem has been known for decades. Great APIs exists, great companies are investing a lot in building and exposing them, but they make the mistake of exposing them only to humans and to optimize the experience only to developers.

We are entering very exciting times and I believe the future of the APIs is to be easy discoverable by devices and used without the need of someone to programm the interaction.

I do know there are a couple of teams working on that and I really want them to succeed, but this could be a very hard thing to do without changing the mindset of the business and of the developers.

How to engage us, developers to use your API.

There are tens of thousands of API’s available. More to come. Most of the companies though, have troubles engaging developers to use them. So I have decided to share a few thoughts and ideas on how you can do that, based on my experience.

Design your API well

Nobody likes powerful, but not developer-friendly APIs. Follow the “standards” in the area, but innovate a bit to make us (developers) happy and eager to learn more. I will not spend more time here, because I guess you are already building your API if you need the information below. If you are looking for more info on that subject, click here to read an excellent article.

Document your API

If you want other people to use it – document it well. Add examples for the most popular programming languages. Copy/ Paste/ Run is the first step to a great journey.

Do not forget the not-so-trending programming languages at the moment. Target people who explore them – they are the right group to start with.

Eat your own dog-food

Ask your internal developers to use the API. Get the feedback from them and make it better. I am not talking about the developers who wrote the API, they must use it of course. Try to engage other teams within the company (if you have any) to use the API.

Organize an internal Friday APIJam. Sit together in a room for a few hours and do something useful using the technologies you work with – don’t push them to learn new language or technique – just use the API focusing on the value.

Come up with nice awards for the most active participants, get some sweets and drinks (even beer) as well. Then ask the participants to present their work at the end and listen to their feedback.

 

Hack your API

Organize hackatons with external groups or jump into such organized by someone else – ask developers to hack the API and to create a small app that will serve theirs needs – then promote the effort and make those developers rockstars by using your PR channels.

The goal is not to test your API (as you do during the internal APIJam event), but to show the value that your API brings to the world. The Call for Action should be something like “use our API to build your own App”.

Create more initiatives like that. Repeat();

Connect

Get in touch with the local developer groups and go the their next meeting with some pizza and beer. Show them your data, ask for their feedback, show them your API, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Then create a fair process to work with communities around you – what you want from them and what’s in for them.

Discuss

Push the discussion around your API and manage it. Respond to comments immediately, ask for feedback and show how it is implemented. Post your API to reddit, Dzone and other similar sites and get real, honest feedback (together with some trolls, that’s inevitable)

Equilibrium

Treat your community members equally. Sometimes a new member can have a kick-butt idea and if you ignore him/her this can have negative impact overall. Focus on the value!

Partner up

Find partners to help you to get traction. Why don’t you contact your local startup accelerators and do something together to include your awesome API as an requirement for the next call? Does it work? Oh yeah!

Explore

Constantly explore new ways and hacks on how to engage the community, but remember – this must be a fair deal – every part should be happy and equally satisfied. This is your way towards an engaged community.

The best API ever?

No, it’s not yours. Is this one :)

 

What do you think?

Do you have a different experience? Please share!

 

More resources?

P.S The head image is under CC license by giorgiop5

 

Voice navigation – bringing your app to the next level?

This morning I was surprised by Google Drive. They offered me to use voice for some basic commands, instead of selecting them or using a shortcut (in my case).

A few months ago I created an experiment by combining the shiny SoHo Interface with a few good working opensource javascript implementations for voice and gesture to control the interface.

I knew that some companies were experimenting with it but maybe because I was too busy with other projects and day-to-day routines I hadn’t realized that the time for it has come. 

I am sure that the experiment by Google (seems useless from user point of view) will evolve into something more usable and can save a lot of time to the end-user.

 

Pros:

  • It’s fun – you can shout commands to your website and it will respond with an action.
  • Sometimes you can do something useful – like control your HTML5  game or even login to your favorite website.
  • Brings apps to people that can’t write (yet), but can talk – this is something huge.
  • Widens the horizon of the developers and companies – think about one more usability and User Experience layer
  • It is super exciting and it evolves well.

 

Cons:

  • There are some technological ones, but I don’t want to be a hater this time :) Yay!
  • The other one is what happens with all of the data collected by the mic? Some of the devices are known for listening all the time for the our precious voice. Should we start ripping batteries off from our laptops and tablets like we do for our mobile phones?

 

How to get started?

See my demo here – there is a video  for voice and gesture controlled UI. This is how a modern app should look like – you can use your voice, but also to listen to the voice answer sent back to you and if you feel like moving things around – use your webcam to do it..

 

More links:

 

  • I am using Annyang for the voice commands 
  • Gest.JS for the gestures
  • and this JS library to interact with the GoogleTTs engine 

What is the future?

Bright – pretty soon we’ll be seeing more and more startups combining the Voice with the millions of the APIs that exists to build even interfaceless applications that will work well at the beginning and then will replace most of those apps we use these days.

 

What do you think?

 

Why is Bulgaria Web Summit 2015 so different from any other event?

When I talk to sponsors and even to friends about the Summit, they always ask me what makes our event different.

So here’s the secret:

We started this event 11 years ago (under a different name) as an effort to create something amazing and affordable for IT guys in Bulgaria. At the same time we never compromise with quality. The main purpose of the event is for our attendees to learn new things, which they can apply in their work on the very next day and to return the “investment” they have made in the conference.

Speakers

In most of the conferences I’ve been in Europe, well-trained company folks talk about their success at Fakebook or Playpal and how to clone it to your company – This doesn’t work and you will not see it at our event and in the same time you have to spend tons of money just to listen to the guy.

In the most conferences I’ve been in Europe, well-respected gurus talk about some programming art – they do that all the time, they just talk, they don’t code anymore – You will not see this at our event – We invite only professionals and they share their experience with you and on the next day, they will not depart for another event, but they will go back to do the thing they do the best.

We have had amazing speakers over the years. Some of them became friends of the event and they can come again and again, even without paying them a dime. We build relationships with our speakers, because we are Balkan people and this is what we do.

Many people still remember Monty’s Black Vodka, Richard Stallman‘s socks and many other stories that must be kept secret :)

 

The audience

We do have the best audience ever! I mean it. We have people that haven’t missed an event since 2004. They are honest and if you screw up they will tell you and they will give you kudos if you do something amazing. In most of the years, the tickets are sold months before the event, even without a schedule and even without the speakers yet known, because we proved the event is good.

We have people who met at our event and got married, we have people who met at our event and started business together, we have companies that hired great professionals because of our events; we have kicked off many careers by showing the people great technologies and ways to use them.

 

The money

Of course it’s not all about money. We do need them to make the event great, but our main goal is not to make money out of it. As you can see the entrance fee is low – for the same event in Europe (same speakers) you would have to pay 5-10 times more. We realize that we live in a different country and the conditions are different, but we are trying to find a way to keep the fee low and at the same time to still keep up the quality of the talks and emotions. We can achieve this only thanks to our sponsors. Thank you, dear sponsors!

 

Experiments

We do experiment a lot. We are trying to make a stress-free event, full of nice surprises, parties and interesting topics.

We are not one of those conferences where you get tons of coffee in the breaks (sometime we even don’t have breaks, nor coffee for that matter, just beer!) and a schedule 3 months in advance or you can sit and pretend you are listening, because someone paid you the fee. With us you are a part of the event all the time: we have games, hackathons and other stuff you can take part in. We give you the bread and butter, use your mind to make a sandwich. :)

 

We grow

We failed many times at many tasks, but we are learning and improving. We are not a professional team doing this for the money. We are doing this for fun and to help our great and amazing community. We count on volunteers. Thank you, dear volunteers!

 

Marketing?

We are one of the few events that don’t have history of the event on their website. Duh! We do believe that if you visit us once (because a friend told you about us) you don’t need a silly website to convince you again to come :) We do not spend (a lot of) money on marketing or professional services. We count on word of mouth and you. Thank you!

Join us and see for yourself!

Coworking spaces in Brussels for Fosdem

If you are heading to BXL for Fosdem and if you arrive earlier as I do you may need a coworking space. Thanks to twitter and some followers I got two nice hints I want to share with you. They both offer a free day for open source enthusiasts.

See you there: Beta cowork  and Transforma BXL

P.S If you need hotel or information about Brussels, check out my post here.

FOSDEM 2015 – hotels, information and facts (updated)

If you are going to Fosdem 2015, here is some useful info.

Co-working spaces

Work together with other hackers in Brussels for free before and after Fosdem.

Hotels and Hostels

  • Hotels near to Grand Place and to the Delirium Cafe. This location is near to all sights and it’s good idea to stay here instead near to the FOSDEM venue;
  • Cheapest hotels in Brussels.
  • Hotels near to the ULB – the venue

Personally I can recommend CitaDines apartments, because there is a small kitchen included into the price and you can make a dinner or breakfast. If you are more than 2 people, they can offer you a really great offer and it’s near to the bus stop for FOSDEM bus. At the moment they have “Up to 36% off ” offer. Go grab one.

Beer?

Just visit this site. I highly recommend the pub crawl tour for just 15 euro.

 Food?

There is no food in Brussels. :)

 

Free walking tour?

Yes, it’s available. Click here to learn more. It’s every day from 11 in the morning and 2 afternoon. Pre-booking is welcomed :)

 

FOSDEM

FOSDEM is a free and non-commercial event organized by the community for the community. The goal is to provide Free Software and Open Source developers and communities a place to meet to:

  • + Get in touch with other developers and projects;
  • + Be informed about the latest developments in the Free Software and Open Source world;
  • + Attend interesting talks and presentations held in large conference rooms by Free Software and Open Source project leaders and committers on various topics;
  • + To promote the development and the benefits of Free Software and Open Source solutions.
  • + and to SHARE knowledge with each other

Sharing the knowledge and ideas is the most valuable think you can get during FOSDEM and it’s free. There is no excuse not to be there.

If you are worried about anything, just feel free to ask me and I will help you, especially if this will be your first visit. If you are living for Free software or Open Source – you must be there.

(cc) Image is under CC lisense by bertogg

FirefoxOS, Internet of things (#IoT), the future

A note: This is a serious post, couple of months ago I wrote an article as a joke saying that I am leaving Mozilla project by some reasons, umh, it was April 1st. After that I was insulted by several people “you have left the community”, “we don’t want to work with you”, “we are working only with active people” and even more, not appropriate for the web, so I want to make this clear, this is not a joke, this is something I want to develop in the future and this is how I see it.

IoT (from bottom up)

Police alert.

Imaginе. The future, 20xx. Driving from city A to City B on the highway. Rock music. Loud. something beeps. Beep! Beep! The driver looks at the screen and there is a message:

iot1

Slowing down.

The damn traffic jam


The future again. Driving back from city B to city A. Hard Rock! Slowing down! Traffic Jam! No information! Waiting and wondering what is going on.

Beep, beep! A message:

iot5

 The sender


All these messages has been send by a passing car to your car. Of course in the beginning they will be set from the driver via usable interface (see below), but I think it’s just matter of time to teach the device(or the thing) how to learn and to do some of the tasks without human interaction. Crepy? Not!

carstalk

Vehicle2Vechicle Communication

We will develop small devices that will be able to exchange and store simple data packages without need of connecting to the Internet.

Vechicle2 Device Communication

We will develop simple FirefoxOS app to communicate with near devices via discovery. Like:

  • Reading the messages that your car receive from other cars on the highway
  • Set the privacy setting
  • Find nearest devices and communicate with them – discover what the can “talk” about and enter the conversations.

IoT with Firefox OS

I believe we can create an interconnected network of devices that can be able to communicate with each other and with us using a special protocol.

Let’s call it TTM (Talk to Me).

  • Alll devices will be powered by Firefox OS
  • All apps will be developed using web technologies.
  • You will not need Internet access to be able to communicate with one or more devices, but they can still connect to the Internet to exchange data.
  • Privacy first – you can set what you want to share and with whom.
  • An open platform where everyone can contribute.

 

Oh, one more:
Early Morning. Monday. Enter the tram with TTM sticker on your way to work and the tram asks you “how do you feel today”, you said “It’s monday” and the tram offers you a nice selection of music while traveling just to be make your day better.

The interface.

Since clicking and double clicking is dead and I think ‘touch’ will follow soon we will implement 2 more interacting interfaces – Voice (Remember my Fosdem talk in 2010 when I made the the demonstration on how to control Firefox with your voice?) and Gestures.

More to follow. #IoT definitely is the future for me, but I really don’t need a “smart” fridge, I need “smart” things that make my life easier and save time and money and of course powered by Firefox OS and Web Technologies.

What do you think?

There is one place to share ideas about the web and its name is @WebExpo – Prague

No kidding. Prague became one of the finest European technology and start-up hubs and I believe there is a great future and potential, which we will see coming true in the next couple of years.
Maybe that’s one of the reasons I moved here a couple of years ago. If you add the beauty of Prague and the fine quality of the Czech beer, you will not be surprised that I want to invite you to an unique event.

[note]This is one of the few places in the world where developers, designers, product managers, marketing ninjas, big data nerds, content management racoons, hackers and even normal people can sit together and discuss a lot of things together and even to start something..[/note]

I know, you will say that you have such events in your country, but this is international, have a look at the speakers and do not forget the beer and the city.

Trusted companies and awesome startups are happy to be here and to turn their dreams into reality and most important, into profit.
[highlight]13 different subjects, many speakers, 3 days of fun and beer + something you can take home with you – knowledge and inspiration. That’s priceless.[/highlight]

 

Join the event:

 

$you->is_geek(): apply

 

We are looking for ambassadors in every European country. Prime directive – to spread a word about the event and to become a super geek star. In exchange we will give you free entrance and will make you famous – this is a long time deal.

[highlight] Interested?[/highlight] Follow the link to fill a secret form. Shhh!

 

? buy_ticket();

 

Another option is to buy a ticket and join the magical Prague, beer and awesome knowledge.  Invest in your future.

 P.S This is still a secret, but all sessions will be in English this year. Visit the website to find out more, because this is just the top of the iceberg.

P.P.S Oh, did I mention the parties. We will have couple of parties that will blow your head away :)

Fedora 17 on Raspberry Pi: Mission Possible

Just after Christmas my Raspberry Pi has arrived in a tiny-tiny box :)

Fedorize it!

How to install Fedora on it? Easy? Since I don’t have SD card writer, shame on me I used my wife’s Windows machine build-in writer, but for good. Unfortunately all Fedora instructions are for Windows 7 and Vista, but here’s how to do that in Windows XP:

  1. Download this GNU-licensed program:  Win32DiskImager.
  2. Download Fedora 17 PI disk image from  here
  3. Burn it on your SD card
  4. Plug it in your Raspberry Pi and turn it on

Ready

Change the education worldwide by remixing the web

We want to empower students to show their originality and knowledge, all while speaking to them in languages they understand: Multimedia and the Web.

Through discovery and implementing new ways of teaching, we could inspire the creativity of the next Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Larry Page or Sergey Brin to create something new, exciting and special.

The initiative is on: Go and check it: http://changedu.org

Don’t forget to read the manifesto