Startup Reviews

I’m thinking of starting a new tech blog called Startup Reviews*, where I review every single new startup that I hear about.

Without exception I’ll predict they will fail, and I’ll further predict they will fail within 2 years. Regardless of how good their product idea, what their business model is, or previous success. I’ll just blanket predict they will fail.

After a year or two I’ll start quietly bragging about my high percentage of correct predictions (likely to be around 80%), and position myself as an industry veteran** who can spot a failure a mile away.


* is taken, but is available if I was silly enough to actually waste time doing this

** I loved Ben Thompson’s point in a recent update*** when referring to tech journalists who change their views on a company after said company releases results:

He was totally wrong to be a bull! To suddenly become a bear after terrible results isn’t good analysis, it’s reporting. Actually, it’s worse than that: it’s no better than what you might get from a newsbot (“If results poor, say company is in trouble. If results good, say company is doing well.”).

*** I’m a Stratechery Daily Update member – which I highly recommend if you like reading considered, insightful, strategic analysis of what’s happening in tech


Precious Way by The Machinations

Back in the early 80s when I was just finding my way as a struggling teenager The Machinations were a fave.

Imagine my disbelief and surprise, when I found out just last night that the song is not actually called Precious Way and is in fact Pressure Sway.

And to further destroy any self-belief I had about knowing 80s music I also learned that they are just Machinations – there’s no ‘The’ before their name.

My mind is blown.

I guess it’s another one of those misunderstood song names like Alex The Seal (Our Lips Are Sealed), Four Letter Woman (More Than A Woman) and Climb Every Mountain (I’m Every Woman). Not that I’ve ever mixed those up of course. No, of course not.

But, back to Machinations and let’s finish with my favourite of theirs:

Sit back. Turn the speakers up. Press Play. Reminisce. Even if it’s just to see the old Countdown logo.

You’re welcome. – A new language for low-level coders

It’s rare these days for me to get excited about a new language – because frankly it seems as though there are so many new ones, and yet so little value that they provide.

Which is why it’s pleasantly surprising, on this quiet Monday morning, to see the release of a new scripting language that actually improves the development experience. I’m talking of course about Binary Script – the new language paradigm aimed squarely at experienced developers, but being embraced quickly by assembler and microcontroller coders.

To get a quick look at how it works, head over to the site, it has the initial overview and online compiler components available already:

BinaryScript in action

How It Works

The concept is very simple. Put in your old-style code, click submit on the BS-inator, and you are immediately rewarded with 100% BS. You’ll be up and overflowing with BS in no time.


Why another language? Do we really need yet another development environment. Turns out that yes, there are plenty of advantages. Here’s just a few:


One of the main frustrations I’ve experienced as a developer, and I hear regularly from other developers, is the problem of non-standard keyboards. When I move from my machine to another machine, there’s a mental chunking that needs to take place as my hands adjust to the nuances of each keyboard. The Delete key spaced differently, the quotes key a little further inset than before, the capslock key just a little too big when I go to hit ‘a’, that kind of thing. It’s frustrating, and also a productivity killer. A recent study by bs-interactive suggested that changing keyboard accounts for an increase of 4% in keying errors, and a whopping decrease of 7% in productivity in the first 2 hours as the user got up to speed.

This is the key area that binaryscript targets. With it’s simple two key requirement – just a 0 and a 1 – it takes the pain out of keyboard adjustments.

Not only that but the new BS-inator web module UI features colour syntax highlighting, so at a glance you can see the code elements with the utmost clarity. That’s productivity for you:

Binary syntax highlighting

Job Protection

But aside from all the productivity benefits, let’s focus on the main advantage for developers – career protection. Just like Assembler in the past, BinaryScript today produces a huge mess of output – completely incomprehensible to anyone but the most boring and geeky of coders. You thought those people speaking Klingon to each other were eye-rollingly pathetic – just wait until you see them sharing binaryscript snippets on (or via old-school sites such as this example).

Input Devices

Binary Script has also – finally! – opened up code development to a whole new range of input devices.

Mouse Coding

Whereas previously coding required a keyboard, now binaryscript coders can use a mouse to quickly write code. The new binaryscript mouse driver simply allows left and right mouse buttons to match 0 and 1 – or if you’re particularly inclined – 1 and 0, it’s very flexible. And already, developers are producing tutorials on how to use existing mouse infrastructure to drive their binaryscript projects:

Touch Coding that actually works

Not only that but consider the options for touch screens – no more fiddly on-screen keyboards, instead just two big touch areas. Writing code has never been this fast before.

Collaborative Binary Script Coding

Digital tables (eg the Samsung SUR40) promote collaborative coding experiences. Using the Multi-touch SDK, table top device makers can easily incorporate collaborative binary scripting applications in their offering.

Minority Report might actually become a reality

And then consider Kinect and motion controlled input devices – new, exciting ways of coding are instantly available to the masses. Wii Coder – a new game from Nintendo is already planned for a June beta release.

Security and Built In Obfuscation

One of the key advantages of a binaryscript implementation is the built in obfuscation and resultant security. And increased security is only another conversion away. For example, take a line of code and convert to binaryscript. Then take that resulting script and convert it again. You’ve got different binary script. And so. For extremely high security implementations an iterative process of 4 conversions effectively represents an equivalent of 2048 bit security (or 00110010001100000011010000111000 in bs terms).

BinaryScript art

Coding isn’t just about productivity and work, it’s also about culture, enjoyment and free expression. Which is why the rising movement in binaryscript art is so wonderful to see. Developers can not only “write beautiful code, they can write code that looks beautiful”. Consider this stunning binaryscript code snippet. As a a piece of code it powers the feed reader of a Reddit app, as a piece of art, well, you be the judge:

BS Art

Keeping Up To Date with BinaryScript

Follow @binaryscript on Twitter and share your binary script experiences – every mention will feature on the Binary Script Twitter page:

The BS Roadmap

There’s plenty on the binaryscript roadmap, including the bs shortner service for sharing bs on Twitter and other bs enabled social sites.

There’s also bugs that need addressing, and the BS team have already prioritised the Binary Script Object Definition error that people often receive.

There’s even some open source projects underway to implement a de-BS-inator function.


Perhaps the most surprising part of the binaryscript developer movement is how quickly it has been adopted by industry leaders. For instance, I thought Bill Gates’ recent bs comment was an excellent example of the kinds of pure bs we can expect:

“The industry takeup of binaryscript just goes to show that Assembler really is now a 2nd class citizen.”

Easter Eggs

Like most things these days (and this weekend actually) the binaryscript site has a few hidden gems – just for the true geeks. Here’s a tip, try converting the binary script for these exact phrases:

What would Maslow say?
What would Socrates say?
What is BinaryScript?

There’s others (I’m can reliably inform you) so rest assured any spare moments you have can be profitably applied to this endeavour.

Today is an exciting day for developers

It’s an exciting day to be a developer. And by ‘day’ I’m referring to today specifically. Because it seems (by complete coincidence I’m sure!) at this time exactly one year ago we witnessed the release of another new language – see for details. Whereas last year we had Dflat, this year we have BS.

Yes, this is obviously an April Fools Day joke

If you’ve read this far, then (hopefully) it is because you are enjoying the gag. We don’t really expect anyone to be fooled. In fact I don’t think anyone who prepares an April Fools joke really expects anyone to be fooled anymore, the days of fooling people passed years ago. Instead they hope people are amused.

In our case, the whole site has basically a single, simple joke – we just wanted to ‘announce’ something with the initials BS. And it went from there. We hope you were amused. Or at the least it raised a corner of your mouth in the start of a smile.

So, instead of leaving a comment to the effect of ‘Good try’, ‘Didn’t fool me’, ‘Not funny’or some-such, instead leave a comment on how we could have made it funnier. Thanks.

BTW – since we’re all upfront about the joke, I want to make sure credit is given where it’s due: Andrew was the one who came up with the initial idea, and then most of the components, did the coding and organised the hosting, etc. I just basically laughed about it when he told me the idea. And I might have come up with the mouse input concept. The rest was all @coatsy.

Microsoft Announces new language: Db.NET

the Next Language

In a perhaps unsurprising move, Microsoft has chosen this Sunday to announce their latest .NET language: Db.NET

The release comes a day prior to the conference commencing in Seattle on Monday.

Dubbed as vNext.NET the language features a number of key enhancements including the new Ostinato FrameworkMorendo Garbage Collection systems and Cantando Installer.


the Next Language

Read more about Db on the Next Language site, including the overview, tools and history of it’s development.

WordPad Zero Day exploit

OMG, panic! But don’t be distracted by that other zero day exploit (you know, the Internet Explorer one), here’s where your security gaze should be firmly focused: WordPad.

It turns out that WordPad has a significant exploit. And by significant, I mean it affects at least one person. I strongly recommend WordPad users (both of you) stay glued to your browser screens (here) in anticipation of a high priority patch being released any day now. Alternatively, you could stop using WordPad…

And beware of the fish

In all seriousness, there is now a patch for the Internet Explorer vulnerability. Download the patch from here.

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Bogus tips for IT Managers

Phil Factor - more gold!Any blog that has 4 Ps in its title is worth reading in my book. That aside, I’ve been reading Phil Factor’s Phrenetic Phoughts (oh hang on, that’s only 3 Ps – you tricked me with that clever similar sounding thing Phil) for years now. It’s always a classic read.

And for managers like me, his tips are gold. Take his series on hints for aspiring IT managers. If I happen to find myself reading his posts on the train there’s a good chance people around consider me a raving loony as I unexpectedly crack up and laugh out loud. Recommended.

Today’s moment:

Project-management software is essential. This is because just a small amount of data will produce reams of print-outs with esoteric graphs, calculations and reports. When ever anybody queries the status of one of your projects, just hand them the folder with all the printouts. The more data you put into project-management software, the more wildly impressive it looks.


Phil, you’ve done it again.

Do more with this Ad

I spotted this gem on MSDN tonight (yeah, slow night…).

Above the annoying flashing ad was a link titled ‘Do more with this Ad’. You got me. I clicked it.

Amazing, they’re after my feedback. They care about me. My opinion counts.

Is this a joke?

I submitted my response, refreshed the page and waited expectantly for the refreshing change it would bring to my browsing experience.

Can you guess what happened?

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TIP: How to be an annoying presenter #1 – the ZoomIt virus

I consider myself an average presenter. Not terrible, but not great. I’m working on being a great presenter.

To this end, as well as working on what I should be doing, I’ve also been spending time analysing what should be avoided. Over the coming weeks and months I’ll be sharing a few tips on what not to do. Most of course are things I’ve been doing for years, and only recently woken up to. Some are gems I’ve seen in others. Some are like a bad flu going round… which brings me to my first tip today:

Tip #1 : Using Zoomit != Great presentation

The ZoomIt virus: I don’t know if you’ve had to suffer through this one lately, but it really takes its toll. Five minutes of someone zooming in and out and you’re feeling sea sick. (ZoomIt is a presenting tool that allows you to zoom in to areas on the screen – download it here)

Here’s a quick video showing just how annoying the ZoomIt virus can be, and… (dun dun dah) the *amazing* solution. Enjoy :-)