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Silicon round-up; from Tech City to the misty mountain tops

Ben Who?

So Monday has come around again, and you are probably asking yourself if you crammed enough activity into your weekend? Well, if the idea of climbing to the top of Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest peak, and back down again in under 6 hours sounds faintly masochistic, throw in a 53km cycle ride, and, just for good measure, 25 minutes hard paddling around a loch in the pouring rain, and you have the Ben Nevis charity challenge, in which Haggerston Times took part with 3 intrepid friends, and 112 fellow teams, this weekend gone.

Scaling the heights

Scaling the heights

Photo evidence, and calves which feel like somebody scooped large portions of acid into them with a rusty spoon, suggest that the experience was a chastening one, but we did manage to raise over £2,000 pounds for our charity, the MS Society, so all in all not a bad day’s work. I expect to feel even better about it once I have recovered the use of my legs, and the midge bites have gone. And better still if I can just raise a few more quid!

Start-up paranoia

When you are dealing with an early stage business it can be hard to take your mind off it, and being away, even during the weekend, you tend to develop a borderline healthy / unhealthy sense of paranoia about what you might be missing, whether people are forgetting about you, and how long it might take before people start paying attention to you again. Social media is a double edged sword in as much as it can tell you how popular you are (Haggerston Times sailed past 100 Twitter followers and registered over 1,000 hits during May), but also remind you with brutal honesty when you are about as widely read as a 4 day old copy of Metro, that someone has used as a handkerchief, and left wedged behind a seat on a Bakerloo line train at Lambeth North.

It is a little known scientific fact that the more you panic, the faster time travels, which is why catching up on news after returning to London makes you feel as if you have awoken from a decade long, self-imposed media blackout caused by too much post-climb restorative brandy.

Shoreditch growing faster than everywhere except, er, Shoreditch

Nowhere is this phenomenon more keenly felt than in Shoreditch, where, according to the Independent newspaper, almost 16,000 new businesses were launched in the year to Mar ’14, more than 3 times the number of anywhere else in the country, and certainly more than enough to strike fear into the heart of any journalist claiming to represent the start-up community in Shoreditch! Still, expansion shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

This extraordinary figure is, believe it or not, actually 100 less than the year before, 15,620 versus 15,720. This may be due to the threefold increase in the cost of renting office space over the last 3 years. Investors, take note; there are 30-odd thousand Mark Zuckerberg wannabees prowling the streets of Shoreditch, business plan in one hand, sleeping bag tucked under the other. Eyes forward, keep your cheque book somewhere safe!

Who can you trust?

We all know that the Governments influence over events in Tech City, is at the very least, much vaunted, and very likely more than just a pet project designed to win votes from small businesses and the bearded; after all, Boris Johnson (MMC Ventures) and the Osborne family (Force Over Matter Capital) both have “skin in the game”. Perhaps Theresa May and Michael Gove could bury the hatchet over cocktails at the Hoxton Hotel? Or is that a bit extreme.

If there is anything sinister about the government’s involvement, the Guardian may have the answer; it has recently launched the SecureDrop system, a platform for whistle-blowers to “securely submit confidential documents” to the paper’s journalists. The Guardian is confident that it can guarantee anonymity for those who fear being tracked, using technology such as the Tor and Tails operating systems, previously used when deciphering the Snowden files.

“Protecting sources is at the core of journalism; we’re pleased to be able to use the best technology available to make sure we’re doing everything we can to let sources talk to our journalists securely, and hope as many other outlets as possible do the same”, Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger has commented.

The system was built by US developer and activist Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide after being investigated under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and is now maintained by the Freedom of the Press foundation charity. The scheme has met with a mixed reaction so far, with some doubting its robustness, and others expressing surprise with the Guardian’s blurb stating that it is unable, as was once common journalistic practice, to protect its sources. Upload at your own risk!

End of the line for drunken train antics?

The Times is reporting that drunken commuters sleeping on night buses and trains and missing their stop could be a thing of the past, thanks to a new app from Google. Its operating system, Google Now, comes with a new feature for alarms whereby they can be set to go off at familiar locations. All you have to do is remember to set it. At midnight. After 10 pints and a Jaeger bomb. Whilst you are stumbling onto the train.

Hmm, what is interesting about the software, however, is that it is able to learn from a user’s repeated actions, and therefore provide us with information relevant to our daily lives. This could work well for single people; everyone else already has a partner / husband / wife to remind them to drink less and be home on time. (subscription required)

box clever and seed funding could work for you

box clever and seed funding could work for you

Finally, Haggerston Times has been learning about seed funding, and has discovered there are similarities with boxing; lots of rounds, and you could end up with a bloodied nose. Watch this space for a proper discussion of how it can be done successfully, and expect to hear from people and companies who are the undisputed champs of securing the funding they need (not the funding they want, an important distinction to make). Meanwhile, we have also been twitter-flirting (twirting?) with the excellent Desiree Salazar, across the pond, who helps to run Tech in Motion Events, a networking group for developers and the Tech Community in Silicon Valley. (@DesereeSalazar). She also edits the Desiree daily, from where we plucked this interesting article, about why it may be best to adopt rope-a-dope tactics and keep quiet during the early funding rounds. Well, if it was good enough for Mohammed Ali…


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