Twitter and Advertising Standards

It’s a sign of the times that the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have acted against a Nike advertising campaign that used the Twitter accounts of two premiership football (soccer) players to send out links to Nike content. The issue that the ASA have is that it was not clear to users that the tweets were adverts and have suggested using the hastag #ad in the future to ensure that the were ‘obviously identifiable’ as adverts.

Whilst that simple solution may appease the advertising powers that be, I think Twitter are soon to solve the issue for marketers whilst monetising the practice of celebrities/power users/social media-ites “selling” their accounts to be used to send adverts or endorsements  Services like adly and sponsoredtweets have been around for some time and offers users with large follower counts the ability to make money in exchange for allowing advertisers to send endorsements on their behalf at any time.

Promoted tweets currently display the same account name as the account that posted the tweet and it seems a bit of a waste to display the same account name twice on a tweet, which makes me think that this has to be the next logical step for Twitter to monetise their platform. If it’s not they’re missing a trick as it not only acts as a revenue stream for them but also encourage users to use their platform.

Twitter could offer the service along side the regular promoted tweets to allow brand marketers the opportunity to use power accounts and be the first(?) social network that allows power users and celebrities (verified only?)  the ability to monetise their online presence (whilst simultaneously selling their soul to the social media devil).  Any tweets that have been posted as an endorsement (or an en-dorsey-ment if you will) would have a badge appended to it in the same way as promoted tweets but have copy that implies it is an endorsement on behalf of the brand.


 @jack, @biz, @dickc – you can have the idea for free – but I want recognition for the use of ‘Endorseyments’.

When applying for a job

The Kernel ran an interesting piece on the state of the tech recruitment industry last week; one post highlighted some of the more questionable practices of recruiters. One of these ‘scams’ was adjusting candidates CVs which they shouldn’t do without getting the candidates permission, but I can understand why they might.  I’ve spent a good portion of time over the last two weeks going over the applications for our open positions at Knowsis. The hiring process is not something I enjoy and something that could have be made easier by the candidates thinking a bit for themselves.

If you’re applying for jobs, especially those of you who are just about to graduate, I’d suggest you make sure you think about the following:

1. Filenames

Don’t call it cv.pdf (or resume.doc) – you are asking for it to get lost/overwritten at the first step in the process. You may only have one CV on your computer but your prospective employer has hundreds of them on theirs.

Make sure at the very least, the filename contains your full name and even better the position you’re applying for.

2. Covering Note

Include one. Tell the employer why you want to work for them, how you found the job,  it will make you stand out. You’ll look less like someone who couldn’t be bothered and just fired off their standard CV that they send to everyone.

Make sure the covering letter is part of the same file as your CV. Having it as a separate file or only in the original email means it may get misplaced, forgotten about or ignored.

3. Tailor the CV for the job

As above, if you want to stand out make it look less like a standard CV that you send to everyone and more applicable for the position you are applying for.  Make sure the most relevant information that the employer mentioned in the job description is highlighted.

4. Length

Dont make your CV too long. Two or three pages should be enough to get the message across. If you have gone over remove the things that aren’t necessary or less interesting. Don’t make the prospective employer sift through all of your summer jobs since you were 16, if they aren’t relevant leave them out. Some other points:

  • Don’t use massive fonts.
  • Don’t use excessive line spacing, gutters and margins
  • Don’t include a photo that takes up 1/4 of a page

5. Add a Footer

Add a page number and your name to the bottom of every page. That way, if a page gets misplaced it’s easier to spot and doesn’t look like you disappeared without a trace for 10 years. It also means if a random page is found it’s easier to know where it came from without having to try and match up based on the formatting.

6. Hobbies

Unless it’s wholly relevant to the job, leave out the interests section. I honestly doubt that there are any employers would be sold on your penchant for ferret racing or samurai sword collecting.

7. Represent yourself on-line

If there are things you’ve left out of your CV following points 3 and 4, make sure they are still available online somewhere and include a link to it in your CV. There’s plenty of places you can create a professional profile such as LinkedIn which will allow you to maintain a full record of employment, recommendations and skills for anyone to see.  In fact if you don’t know how to create a CV you can fill out all your details on LinkedIn and use their resume builder to automatically format a CV file for you

Developers, create yourselves a Github account, use it to show some of the interesting things you’ve written or any open source projects you’ve committed to.

If you’re working in another digital profession it’s also sensible to have a portfolio of your work available for employers to see.

8. Lock down your social networks

This is just general advice really but make sure that your Facebook profile is only visible to your friends. Prospective employers are now regularly checking Facebook and other social networks to see what their prospective candidates are like in real life and whilst some employers probably wouldn’t hold it against you many others probably will.


Anything Else?

If there are any bug bears you’ve experienced whilst hiring that I have missed out, add it into the comments and I’ll update the post

pult – simple fuss free internet tv

I rarely get excited about technology these days, in fact I can’t remember the last service that launched which made me say “wow”, but Pult has done just that.

Coming out the recent Seedcamp and based in Tallinn, Estonia, the team at Pult, have created a really simple way to display video on an internet connected screen and then control it using a smart phone all without the need to install any software.  At the moment the content available is somewhat limited, but it’s not the content itself that that really interests me here, its the concept and the fact that this is all done in the browser, with no apps to install and no need for devices to support protocols like Apple Airplay or DNLA.

How It Works

Navigate to the website in the browser of your large screen (internet connected TV, PC, iMac etc) and you will be presented with a 4 character code

Pult setup process

Pult setup process

Now navigate to on your smartphone and you are presented with a different screen that allows you input the 4 characters shown on your large screen, via the connect button at the bottom.

Pult mobile device web app

Pult mobile device web app

And that’s it…. your phone is now connected through the magic of the internet to your large screen. So you can chose to display anything from the options presented. It’s just using websockets behind the scenes which in laymans terms means your large screen maintains an open connection to the Pult  servers, so when you tell your phone what to play it tells the Pult server and they tell your large screen.

Here’s a rather dull, sorry, video here demonstrating how it works:

And Now The Interactive Part

The code showing for my laptop right now is GDPC, as shown above, which means you should be able to play something on my screen using your phones. I’ll keep it open for most of today (1st March 2012) unless I get sick of being Rick Rolled

UPDATE – My code is actually now AEQT as I closed my browser.

Torrenting vs Buying according to the Oatmeal

I love The Oatmeal and this is another perfect way to sum up my views on movie dowloads..

Torrenting vs Buying courtesy of The OatMeal

Torrenting vs Buying courtesy of The OatMeal

Locked yourself out of Jenkins?

Removed all permissions from your account did you? Save it did you?  Feeling a bit stupid?

Yeah, me too!

First steps

SSH to your server and stop Jenkins

/etc/init.d/jenkins stop

Now modify the config XML

sudo vi /var/lib/jenkins/config.xml

You now have two options to regain access

Yeehaw way

Turn security off and remove the <authorizationStrategy> node


Now restart Jenkins and head over to your admin UI to resecure it quick before the trolls get in.

/etc/init.d/jenkins start

Like a boss way

If you want to be safe and not open up a security hole at all, you can add the security permissions into the config XML manually. Just replace USERNAME with own

<authorizationStrategy class=””>



Now restart Jenkins and sit back with a smug grin.

/etc/init.d/jenkins start

Smug Croissant Guy

Smug Croissant Guy

Setting up a Jenkins build server on EC2

In my last post about setting up Jenkins I looked at how to do a basic Jenkins setup on an Ubuntu machine. In my case I set it up on an old machine which is fine when I’m working at home but if I make changes when I’m not at home or when my build machine isn’t running the changes are not built and tested. If you hadn’t worked it out, in a proper continuous integration environment you should be running your builds continuously. So this morning I set out to get an EC2 instance running Jenkins.

The other reason I wanted to have the build server running continually is that I need to start scheduling some jobs for Knowsis to do the NLP part of our process., which I could do with Cron, but buildservers liike Jenkins and Teamcity offer really flexible scheduling and a nice interface for feedback so I don’t need to worry about building one myself, for now.

Setting up an EC2 instance

The first step in the process is to set up your EC2 instance. Amazon kindly provide a free tier so you can get a free micro instance for a year. This should work for you initially if your builds aren’t overly complex.

I won’t run through exactly how to get your instance running as you can find plenty of guides online, if you are completely new to EC2 I would recommend this guide provided by Amazon.

One thing to note is that you should make sure you set up the security group for your image to allow all traffic on port 80 so you can actually see Jenkins.

Installing nginx

In my previous post I mentioned setting up nginx to route requests to Jenkins  but didn’t cover it. So we’ll go though it here as we need a webserver running to host the requests coming through.

We’ll need to use YUM here as apt-get and aptitude aren’t installed. Thankfully the Amazon package index includes a version of nginx.

yum install nginx

Once installed we should start the nginx server to make sure that we can see our new EC2 instance before proceeding.

sudo /etc/rc.d/init.d/nginx start

You should be be able to hit your instance in a web browser. You can get the public hostname of your instance from the AWS management console, but it should look something like this:

Installing Jenkins

In my previous post we used aptitude to install Jenkins but the Amazon Linux AMI doesn’t have the aptitude package manager, s owe have to use YUM instead.

First we need to add the repository to the list of YUM repos:

sudo wget -O /etc/yum.repos.d/jenkins.repo

and then get the GPG key:

sudo rpm --import

then we can install Jenkins:

yum install jenkins

The installer will install the server as well as create jenkins user under which the service will run. You can now start the jenkins service:

sudo /etc/init.d/jenkins start

As Jenkins runs on port 8080 by default, the next step is to get nginx to proxy all requests on port 80 to port 8080. You could probably just change Jenkins to run on port 80 by default if you wanted. Anyway, just change your nginx config (/etc/nginx/nginx.conf) so that the server section reads as follows:

server {
listen 80 default;
server_name _;
location /{

I won’t go into the details of nginx setup, but this is the minimum required to get you to a point of having Jenkins working.

Make sure you restart nginx to take account of the config changes,

sudo /etc/rc.d/init.d/nginx restart

You should be be able to view the jenkins homepage in a web browser using the same url as before:


One of the topics mentioned but not covered previously was security. As your build server is now visible publicly, you will want to set up some sort of security to prevent people from doing bad things.  The simplest way is to use Jenkins own user database, but there are other options to use an LDAP server or the underlying OS users. A few points to make sure that the server is secure:

  •  Disable the option to allow new users to sign up (unless you actually want people to be able to signup)
  • Change the authorisation section to either allow logged in users to do anything or use matrix based security and make sure anonymous users have no permissions

Setting up builds

You should refer back to my previous post on how to get your builds set up.7

Let me know how you get on

Don’t stay out of my territory

I’ve just finished watching Breaking Bad seasons 1&2 on Netflix to find that the third season has yet to air in the UK despite the fourth season having already aired in the US and the fifth and final season being due to air later this year, it’s also not available on physical release presumably the studio are waiting for someone to buy the rights to air it on TV before releasing for physical distribution.

This kind of s**t makes me angry when we have the TV and film studios trying to get the US government to introduce futile laws that aim to impede their customers from trying to enjoy the content that have produced. Yes studio people, they are the customers, they are the people who actually want to watch it, the people who enjoy the programming that you make and commission; they aren’t downloading it to ruin your business or to profit from it – ok a few might be, but they are profiting from the fans who can’t legally get hold of the content that you made for them to watch. Don’t get me wrong, I think copyright theft is bad, I believe that everyone should be paid for what they make/do; my point is that if the content is harder to get legally than it is illegally then people won’t make it hard for themselves. In fact, this tweet sums it up nicely:

I’ve spoken about this before, but it still surprises me that the TV and movie studios have yet to realise what the music industry learnt after requiring DRM on their content for so many years (it was around 5 years after the launch of the iTunes store before DRM was dropped across the board). If it’s easier to get the content people will pay for it. It’s 2012, the problem isn’t a technology one, it’s a human one, it sits with lawyers and executives, the kind of people who don’t have a clue what the internet is and think it’s just for ‘geeks’, the same kind of people that wanted to push SOPA and PIPA through.

It got me thinking that if the UK’s TV channels weren’t going to license the films or tv shows that some many people want to watch, maybe it could be possible to crowd-fund the licensing of this kind of content in a kickstarter fashion. If a streaming service was set up in such a way that all interested parties could register their commitment to certain TV shows and movies and agree an amount that they would be willing to pay to watch it, maybe we could buy it as a cooperative and then stream it beyond that point. Although the problem here is timing, I imagine it would take much longer to get enough interested parties and then negotiate the license agreements with the studios in which time everyone has got it quicker off of MegaUpload BTJunkie Pirate Bay. I’m interested in hearing people’s thoughts on this idea though.

And for those that haven’t seen Breaking Bad it’s well worth watching


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