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Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014

2013 was another year that simply flew past.

It’s strange to think that it was almost 3 years ago that I first made the journey from Dunstable to Hull and started my degree in Computer Science.

Last year was an important year, and this one will be even more so — here’s a roundup of what happened, and a plan for what is to come.

2013

What happened in 2013:

  • I passed my second year with an average grade of 85%
  • I had my first experience of commercial development as part of a business over the summer
  • I co-developed QuickSync — a platform for syndicating stock levels between different systems
  • I chose and started developing my Final Year Project, an Integrated Development Environment for PHP
  • I started considering alternative choices for my masters (and hopefully future PhD) and received some offers (more on that later in the year)
  • I had a lot of fun with my awesome friends at uni, and some students who spent a semester here from America.
  • I started arranging and saving for a month-long holiday to America with my housemate Rob (including meeting up with aforementioned Americans!)
  • I did loads of cool events with Microsoft, including going to Campus Party
  • I had blue hair for most of it!

2014

What I expect (and hope!) will happen in the new year:

  • More sensible hair
  • Graduating from The University of Hull with a first class Bachelors of Science Degree in Computer Science
  • The release of my final year project as an open source initiative
  • Lots of preparation for my masters degree, including lots of maths revision and learning Java (it seems like every other university mainly teaches using Java as opposed to C#)
  • Moving from The University of Hull to another university for my Masters Degree
  • An awesome road-trip around Arizona, Nevada and California from Phoenix to San Francisco

I think that will take most of my time!

I hope you all had a great time in 2013 and wish you a fantastic 2014. Thanks to everyone who made 2013 such a special year for me, of whom there are too many to list — you know who you are. ūüôā

Danny

Categories
Computer Science Employment Forward Thinker Developments Software Engineering

QuickSync – Stock Management Made Simple

As I promised in a previous blog post, today’s blog post is about my new start-up venture, QuickSync.

What is it?

QuickSync is the solution to a very simple problem — not selling things you don’t own, and ensuring you do sell things you do own.

Many small businesses around the country now sell their products online as well as in Brick-and-Mortar stores, they have to in order to actually sell their stock and be able to have a chance to compete with the bigger companies. The beauty of this is that those companies can then sell their goods to a larger market as well as attract more local people, however there is also an ugly side of selling products online. Selling online obviously means more work, and one of the biggest pieces of work these small stores — often with only a few employees — have to face is that of Stock management.

If the company has 2 Red Dresses and a customer comes into the shop and buys both the business is quite happy, until of course they forget to update their website to reflect the fact the item is out of stock and they have to deliver the disappointing news to a customer who thought she had bought the last one online. Similarly, if a company takes in a big re-stock of that popular little red number and forgets to update their website they may lose out on a lot of potential out-of-town custom! No business wants to be in either situation.

In order to keep stock levels up-to-date between their website and their shop many businesses were spending between 2 and 4 hours a day updating their websites and electronic point of sales (ePOS) systems to have the correct, syndicated, information — with a minimum wage of ¬£6.08 an hour this was costing businesses at least ¬£12.16 a day, over ¬£85 a week, but usually more. When Guy Wallace at Forward Thinker Developments saw this issue, he and I set out to resolve it and the result is QuickSync, the tag line for which is “Stock Management Made Simple”.

The QuickSync Dashboard was built to be user friendly and to look great on both computers and mobile devices
The QuickSync Dashboard was built to be user friendly and to look great on both computers and mobile devices

QuickSync’s job is simple; syndicate stock levels between websites and ePOS systems ensuring that sales and re-stocking is reflected on both sides, do so in a pretty and user friendly way; and be available anywhere any-time — from mobile phones, through to tablets and larger desktop PC’s so businesses owners can be on-top of and check their stock levels at any time.

What was your involvement?

I was involved in the project from very early on, when it was just a series of diagrams and a little bit of code to read from an ePOS system. From there together Guy and I have a developed a solution which syndicates stock levels from ePOS systems, websites built using the magento framework, eBay and very soon we will be adding Amazon support.

As well as being the Lead Software Engineer and Technical Director for the company, I also had some influence on the design and marketing of the product. The colour scheme is actually based on my hair colour, and I helped come up with the tag line. In fact, some of the most interesting bits of the project for me have been the non-technical parts, such as working with other people, finding out what customers want, working with live and mission critical data for other peoples businesses and solving real life problems,

Remuneration for the project included 25% equity in the resulting company, which is very exciting indeed.

What’s in the future for QuickSync?

From now on my work with Forward Thinker Developments consists only of administrating, updating and upgrading the QuickSync experience. As I previously mentioned this includes upcoming Amazon support amongst other things.

At the moment we are working with a relatively small number of shops willing to test out our new software and in the month we’ve had the system online have had almost 0 problems. We’ll be opening up to a much wider audience very, very soon. This is especially exciting because we have had a lot, of interest from companies big and small. I will of course always keep this blog updated with news.

Where can I find out more?

About 2 weeks ago we launched our customer facing site which you can read to your hearts content here.

Danny

Categories
Employment Forward Thinker Developments Life Software Engineering University

Summer of Software 2013

So, we’re just over half way through the summer break from university, so I thought it would be a nice time to summarise what I’ve been up to.

I’ve spent much of my time working for a company called Forward Thinker Developments which operates from the Enterprise Centre at the university

Much of the work has been on a system which we call QuickSync¬†which syndicates stock levels and information between electronic point of sale (EPOS) systems and websites for fashion shops, saving businesses up to 4 man hours a day stock checking and updating their systems . As one of the benefits of working on the system from the very beginning, to this version 1 release and onwards into the future, I have a 25% stake in the company. I’ll be posting more information on the service, which already has 35 customers, in the near future.

The Countdown to the Launch of The Hull Box Office
The Countdown to the Launch of The Hull Box Office

On top of my work on QuickSync I’ve also been developing the new Hull Box Office website. At the moment Hull City Council and some of the larger clubs and venues in the city all use separate, and old, systems to sell tickets and update local people on upcoming events. The council itself doesn’t actually have an online presence for selling tickets to its events and still uses an actual kiosk in the city centre to sell tickets, meaning a lot more effort for potential customers. To resolve this the council, along with Welly and Fruit has contracted us to build them http://www.hullboxoffice.com, which will be the one stop shop for buying tickets for events in Hull, including club nights like Shinobi at Welly. I will of course update this blog when the site goes live.

I’ve been enjoying doing my commercial work, which I hope will have lots of happy users, but the project I’m most excited about is my final year project.

Since my last blog post¬†I’ve been working on the auto complete algorithms, and am starting to get to a point at which I’m really happen with them. I’m testing the usefulness of the algorithm I have created using the test harness you can see in the image below, in which you enter a search term — in the real IDE this would just be the letters you have typed since the last token — and it delivers back to you a list of the functions you are most likely to want. At the moment it contains a list of all the built in functions of PHP, but ofcourse this will be expanded to contain user-created functions as well in the finished product.

Auto Complete for PHP Function Names
Auto Complete for PHP Function Names

For now I’ll keep quiet on how exactly I do this, but I will be open sourcing the application towards the end of development next year, so you will see then!

I hope everyone’s had a good summer, and I look forward to seeing many of my readers back at University in September! Remember to look out for posts about QuickSync and The Hull Box Office.

Danny