Categoryword of mouth

Launching UIKode, the easy way to find top notch iOS developers

L

UIKode

A quick announcement about UIKode, a service I just launched with Chris Eidhof & Matt Patterson.

 

We get asked frequently if we know of iOS app developers we can recommend. Sometimes, we can help; often times, we can’t. At the same time, we know many developers are bombarded by potential client requests that don’t fit their profiles, or without actionable briefings. This leads to frustration on both sides. Even worse, it gets in the way of building amazing apps and services.

So we figured there had to be a better way to help clients find top notch, trusted iOS developers we can recommend, and make developers’ lives easier by helping them be found by the perfect client.

When we organized UIKonf, Berlin’s first English-language iOS developer conference, we became aware of just how fragmented Europe’s iOS developer scene is. There just wasn’t a central place where these kind of connection could be built.

So we combined our experiences and networks, and set out to to make it easy to find the best iOS developers.

The result is a service called UIKode. It helps you find the iOS developer you need.

How UIKode works

If you are looking for an iOS developer, you access our briefing form online. It’s a simple, powerful way to structure your project in a way to create a briefing for the devs.

All submissions are screened by us. If the submission looks sufficient for a developer to get a solid understanding of the project, we send it to our pool. (Should a submission be too vague, we send it back with a note and a few helpful pointers.) Every developer sees it, and can choose to contact the submitter to inquire for further information or negotiate a contract.

Then we get out of the way: All deals and agreements are directly between submitter and developer. Of course both sides are free to work together at any time in the future without getting us involved, too. There’s no nasty fine print.

When submitting a project proposal, you agree to pay for posting your briefing to the pool. (It’s EUR 249 + VAT.) You’ll get our invoice after your proposal has been sent to the pool.

The better, more detailed and more thoughtful the briefing and the more exciting the project, the higher the chance that you as a client will find a good dev. There is no guarantee you’ll find a developer, but the chance is very high. If we send the proposal back to you because it looks too vague, we won’t charge you of course. For developers, getting work through UIKode is free (but our pool is invite only).

Taking the time to fill out the briefing and paying our fee signals to the developers that you are serious about your project. For clients, it helps communicate their vision clearly and efficiently to future developers, thus increasing chances of a successful project launch.

For starters, we’ll run UIKode as a private beta. During that phase, as a thank you our beta testers won’t be charged unless they really found a developer through us. If you would like to join our private beta, please get in touch (info@uikode.com).

If you want to be notified when UIKode goes public, then sign up here.

Who is in the UIKode developer pool?

As a first step, building on our extensive network in the iOS dev scene — which is significant, particularly after running one of Europe’s biggest conferences in the field –, we hand-picked a small number of the best devs we know. The ones we absolutely trust to deliver good work on time. They are the seeding group of UIKode, its core if you will. From there, we will slowly and organically grow the network, based on our own and our initial pool members’ recommendations. This way, we can ensure you’ll be working with the best as we grow our pool.

If you’re a dev and you’d like more information about joining the pool, please sign up for updates here. We continuously scan applications, but we will be inviting new members slowly over time. It helps if you have a pool member who vouches for you.

Who is behind UIKode?

The team that brought you UIKonf. We all work in the field. As developers, strategists or consultants, we know both sides of the conversation. We’ve cut our teeth running many projects, so we know what we’re talking about.

Peter Bihr (@peterbihr / thewavingcat.com) Peter explores emerging technologies. He is an independent digital strategist, Program Director of the conference NEXT Berlin and co-founder of Makers Make. He frequently organizes events like UIKonf, Cognitive Cities Conference, Ignite Berlin or TEDxKreuzberg.

Chris Eidhof (@chriseidhof / eidhof.nl) Chris is an iOS developer who’s been building iOS apps since the first public release of the SDK. He organized user group meetings and conferences in The Netherlands, and is a regular speaker at tech meetups. He blogs about iOS development and other things at chris.eidhof.nl.

Matt Patterson (@fidothe / werkstatt.io) Matt is a long-time developer of web apps. He’s a regular speaker at conferences and user groups. He organised the first History Hackday and was one of the organizers of NoSQL Europe 2010. He also helps mentor the Ruby Monsters Rails Girls Berlin study group.

Get in touch

If you have questions regarding UIKode, if you’re interested in collaborating or would like to work with either of us directly on other projects, please get in touch. Our individual contact details are listed above. To get in touch about UIKode, please drop us a line to info@uikode.com or get in touch with me directly.

 

Check it out at UIKode.com.

Deutsche Bahn don’t have their tech under control (Deutsche Bahn sucks *)

D

Today, I paid 52.50 Euros for a 25 Euro train ride because (and that’s the story here) Deutsche Bahn (DB) don’t have their booking systems under control.

I’ll try to not make this one of the many rants about the monopolist public transport system (even though it’s tempting). Instead, the facts in short:

While working on a client project in Strasbourg, France, I’m commuting there from Karlsruhe, Germany on a daily basis for a few weeks. With my Bahncard50 it’s a return trip on the (French) TGV that takes about 40 minutes (scheduled) each way and costs 12.50 Euros each way, or 25 Euros per return trip. I usually book the ticket online and print it out the night before. The train requires a reservation, so that’s part of the ticket, too. I tried a few times to book through the DB mobile site where you can get your tickets until 10 minutes before boarding the train, but the mobile site insisted the train didn’t exist.

Today, it went somewhat different. Trying to book online as usually, the DB website informed me that my train was fully booked, no reservation possible. (On which of the trains it didn’t tell me.) To retry you have to start over the whole process, including billing information, before knowing whether a reservation worked out or not. I booked the later trains so I wouldn’t go without a ticket, but was planning on getting on the same train as usual, just without the correct reservation. (French staff had told me once that’s not a problem as long as you have a ticket.)

The conductress (is that even a word?) billed me an extra 15 Euros for a single ride to change my reservation on the train (that was supposed to be fully booked, according to the DB website, even though half the seats were empty). She also told me I could change my reservation for the train back for free at the station in Strasbourg. I asked if I could change the reservation online, she said she didn’t know: “I so rarely use the internet!” I asked about the option of booking through my mobile device, she told me she hadn’t seen this ever. She was, in other words, in this situation completely useless, and that’s the worst kind of representative on the ground for any organization. (Even though it’s hardly her fault, but that of her management.)

In Strasbourg, I explained the situation and changing was impossible since the ticket had been booked through the German DB website, so I had to buy new ticket altogether (another 12.50 Euros). A reservation for the train I had been planning on getting on wasn’t a problem – even though, again, the DB website had told me it was impossible.

Now, there’s a lot of problems in this story. One of them of course was my own fault, and that’s booking tickets only a day or two before taking the train. (I usually know which train I’ll catch in the morning, but in the evening it depends on the day’s workload, meetings etc.)

But the main problems are at Deutsche Bahn. Even taking into account that this particular train requires a cross-border booking involving (supposedly) the French and the German train operators, it’s ridiculous that the different DB booking systems aren’t able to match up the information needed to make that kind of transaction. Last time I talked to some staff about this, she explained that there were three completely independent (and largely incompatible) booking systems in place depending if you booked at the counter, on the website or at one of the vending machines. (That was two or three years ago.)

Why should I, as the customer, really care if I booked through one system or another? If I pay for a ticket, I expect to get to my destination. If I want to check a schedule, I expect that to work on every of the platforms and communication channels offered – after all, why would the offer a channel that didn’t work?

The project manager in me wants to say: Yes, a booking system of this size is a complex project. It’s a lot of historically and organically grown legacy. It’s not easy to conduct the kind of training to answer all of these niche questions. I understand all that. But. And this is a big “but”: I really couldn’t care less. It’s not like DB is a small, underfunded startup. It’s a huge organization with a huge budget. They even just raised the prices again, just a few weeks ago. Out of the last ten trains I took home in the evening in the last ten days or so, only four were on time. So no, I won’t let any of these excuses count.

So because all of this, today I paid more than twice the price of my train ride because the online reservation system didn’t work.

It’s simple: An organization of this size needs to get their technology under control, and to train their staff to know it, too. Keeping in mind that Deutsche Bahn is still planning an IPO, this should be worrying to any potential investor.

As Karen Mardahl pointed out on Twitter as a response to a spontaneous rant of mine: “Companies must focus on teaching its online / social media offerings to staff.”

Full ACK.

* Referring to the good old tradition of public corporate blaming.

Update: Asked for comments by email, Deutsche Bahn service staff (unsurprisingly) blamed the French online booking system for the wrong reservation information. There was no comment on the insufficiently trained and unhelpful staff on board the train.

Two interviews: Likemind in NYTimes, Berlinblase on Trackback

T

Usually I don’t get interviewed often, but rather interviewing others, like for Berlinblase or Blogpiloten. So you can imagine I was pretty surprised to show up in two traditional media yesterday.

A brief, but fun email interview with the New York Times about likemind (which I had the chance to co-host recently – thanks Henrik!) got me a quote in the NYTimes Fashion & Style section, ranting about professional networking:

TO Erin Middleton, a 27-year-old brand strategist in Dallas, the word “networking” calls to mind “stodgy business types in suits,” who are “very uncomfortable and poor at engaging conversation,” she said in an e-mail message. Melissa Clark, an advertising account manager in Minneapolis, said there is “something smarmy” about the word. Peter Bihr, 28, a media consultant in Berlin, was even stronger in his denunciation. “ ‘Networking,’ as a word, makes me feel like I get a physical reaction, I hate the term so much,” he wrote in an e-mail message. “It sounds all like strategically talking to people and trying to be their friends. It’s not authentic.” So, what exactly, are these three doing at 8 a.m. on the third Friday of each month, meeting with other young professionals at their local coffeehouse? They are participating in likemind, a monthly kaffeeklatsch for creative professionals, held in 55 cities around the world, including Mumbai, São Paulo, Shanghai, and Malmo, Sweden.

The article is a fun read: That Business Card Won’t Fly Here.

Then, Saturday evening I was invited over to Potsdam for an interview with Radio Trackback to chat with Marcus Richter about Web 2.0 Expo, Barcamp and, most of all, our collaborative content mashup Berlinblase. This was, I think, my first radio interview, and I loved the atmosphere in and around the studio. There’s not much going on at the station’s grounds, so it’s very calm and quiet, and everybody was quite easy-going. Anyway, you can listen to the interview here (roughly seven minutes from 5:40 to 12:20).

Also, here’s a pic I took while we got ready (more here):

Radio Trackback interview about Berlinblase

(Thanks, Marcus!)

Design I Love: The Alchemy Goods Urban Messenger Bag

D

Designer Daily has a fun little game going on, a describe-your-favorite-design contest. How could I pass up this chance to give props to my the makers of my beloved new messenger bag? After all, especially small brands, shops and makers need all the promo they can get, and this case is no exception. What I’m talking about is the Urban Messenger bag by Alchemy Goods, a Seattle-based, bike-loving little mass-customizing bag and wallet shop.

Alchemy Goods Urban Messenger bag

So what’s the deal? Alchemy Goods (AG for short) uses almost exclusively recycled material, namely bike inner tubes and seatbelt straps. Yup, that’s right, old tubes. Nice thing, too: Not only are they absolutely water proof, they also have a distinct texture and nice haptic qualities. Oh, they can take quite a beating, too.

recycling factorIt’s all about the details with this bag that I’ve been lugging around for a few weeks now. (And I love it!) Just to name a few examples: A little indicator (see image to the right) shows you how much of your bag is recycled material. (The Urban bags are about 76 percent tubes and seatbelt straps.) Bike valves serve as zipper pulls. Whenever I look for a feature, it’s already there. Of course there’s a set of color options for the lining you can choose from.

Plus, of course, the bag looks pretty awesome, and outside Seattle you can be sure you won’t find too many of them. Also neat: Before ordering I had emailed Alchemy Goods with a few questions. Within a few hours I had all the answers I needed, directly from the founder. It’s a bag that just comes from a cool shop, and with good vibes. Oh, did I mention the lifetime warranty and all that? Well, seriously, my impression is that the bag won’t really need that. It looks pretty much indestructible.

Here’s two more details to get an idea:

the zipper pulls are made from valves The zipper pulls are made from old valves.

recycled tires And yes, the bags really are made from recycled inner tubes as this picture clearly shows.

Berlinblase is back

B

Berlinblase.deWith Barcamps abound and the Web2Expo just around the corner, it’s time to once more kick off a few side projects. One I’m particularly fond of is Berlinblase. (I hinted at it here.) Johannes Kleske was so kind to write up a neat brief summary, so please allow me to simply quote at length:

Yep, we’re back! After our first attempts with rather spontaneous group-mashup blogging for the Berlin web week (Barcamp Berlin 2 and Web 2.0 Expo) last year, we intend to take it to a new level this time. Tumblr is awesome and helped us to get things started but we want more. And WordPress looked so damn hot … that’s why we set up this new group blog. Content-wise we will cover a lot more then last year, starting today with the Barcamp in Stuttgart. Look to the top right for a list of all the main events we will be bubbling from. We will still aggregate all the interesting articles, pics and media bits about these events. But we will also bring you a lot more original content and personal opinions from our crew, flavored with tasty podcasts, spicy interviews and of course, delicious live twittering. As you know, we are very passionate about the various spheres x.0. We have met some of the most amazing people and found truly mind blowing ideas in ‘this thing’ we affectionately call “the bubble 2.0”. We love to hype the cool stuff like crazy. But we will also call you out if you give us BS ;-) So, a hot new season of conferences and barcamps is upon us and we will try to be your inside source. But most of all we’re looking forward to meet as much of you guys as possible. Because in the end, we’re in this for the friendships and yes, the cold ones with old and hopefully many, many new friends. Keep on bubbling! Peace.

On the internet, we will always be beaten on price

O

We will always be beaten on price (by Flickr user moleitau, all rights reserved) Image: We will always be beaten on price, courtesy of blackbeltjones

Somehow this picture by Blackbeltjones really resonated with me. It seems to sum up a basic dilemma fact of life everybody (or at least every web worker, freelancer, creative type and coffee shop dweller) faces these days: We’ll never be able to compete through price. On the internet, there’s always someone who’ll be ready to be cheaper, maybe even faster.

Is this a bad thing? I don’t think so, not at all. From my experience, quality and good chemistry beat price anytime. If a client wants it primarily cheap, there’s decent places to get that. But the kind of work many of us are offering needs some time, creative input and experience. (To get an idea, check out Stowe Boyd’s Ten Day Rule, which pretty much sums it up.)

Why am I mentioning this? It’s not like any of my clients has ever complained in this respect, it’s always been good, constructive and trust-based relationships. But this photo was too good not to use it here. ’nuff said.