Author: sarahpentland

Another David Joins Team MaidSafe

Positano, Amalfi Coast, Italy

Hi all, I’m David Geddes and I’m very happy to have joined this impressively dedicated and motivated team to take on the task of managing customer support.  Everyone has made me feel so welcome during my first couple of days and I’m looking forward to getting to know each one of them a little better over the next few weeks.

So a little about me… I started at the University of Strathclyde studying a joint Computer Science and Electronic Engineering degree where it took me the best part of three years to realise that I simply didn’t “get” analogue electronics (I guess my mind isn’t wired that way).  I switched focus for my third year to purely Computer Science modules for my BSc. On leaving university I signed up with a Scottish Enterprise scheme in Glasgow called Graduate Into Business which aimed to place graduates with local start-ups. I found myself attracted to a software company called IES who wanted to play their environmentalist part by reducing the amount of energy buildings consume through sustainable design and intelligent building control.  My first tasks were to learn a new programming language (Visual Basic) and create database tables of which I can say that the former was definitely more interesting than the latter. I moved on to creating front-end interfaces using Visual Basic to link with Fortran calculation engines and learned many lessons through trial and error about the importance of a good user-experience. After a couple of years we created the second and third generations of what became the Virtual Environment and by now I was working almost exclusively in C++.  I had gained responsibility in multiple projects for the full application lifecycle: design; coding; testing; delivery and end user support and I have to say that if I never have to document a product again it’ll be too soon. I did however find that I was able to build up a good rapport with many of our regular users which I guess led to my next career move.

I moved into technical support in 2006 after a very enjoyable secondment to Boston in the States where I was both continuing to develop software and provide user support to the NA market.  In the beginning it was just myself handling all technical enquiries but as time went on I was allowed to grow the team and take management responsibility for it. I set up the procedures required to run the department and had to establish these in person by visiting the Pune (India), Boston (MA) and San Francisco (CA) operations… a dirty job indeed but somebody had to do it.  By the end of my tenure as Technical Support Manager we had support staff in Australia, India, Scotland, Ireland and the USA meaning that we could provide 24 hour support – the sun never set on the IES support team!

During 2011 I transferred back in to the software development department to assist the Technical Director in the administrative and planning management of the team.  We were working within a hybrid waterfall/agile methodology until a restructure in 2013 where I moved to a more hands-on development role again heading up a team responsible for adding productivity enhancements to the Virtual Environment.  Having squared the circle and being back in C++ development I felt that I’d probably done all I could within IES and it was time again for a change so I set my sights on pastures new… which resulted in me coming to MaidSafe.

I’ve been playing more and more tennis over the last couple of years and I think that I am driving poor my poor wife Victoria crazy with how obsessed I’m becoming.  I joined the local David Lloyd club where I’m very active in the tennis community there and while I’m not exactly brilliant I’m starting to get the hang of how to hold the, err, “bat” is it?  Recently I’ve learned how to string a racquet and am threatening to buy my own stringing machine… I told you… obsessed!

One thing that Victoria and myself are obsessed about together is travel.  We’ve seen some pretty beautiful places all over this wonderful world and to be honest our own country of Scotland is right up there with the best of them.  I try and take the occasional photograph when we are away and now and again if the timing is just right they come out quite well.

That’s probably more than enough from me at this time so I’ll not take up any more of your day other than to finish by reiterating how excited I am to be part of the SAFE revolution.

David.

 

New Team Member – Connor Wood

room with rows of server hardware in the data center

I started writing software when I was 9 years old, after my brother, entirely by accident, discovered an easter egg in a game he was playing. A face, hidden inside a lamp (for those of you familiar with the matter, this was Dan Johnson’s face, a running gag at Insomniac Games for a few years). “I want to learn how to do that.”

Fast forwards a few months of having dabbled in various dialects of BASIC, a family member recommended I pick up C, as it was a far more serious language and would carry me much further. Later on, I started to pick up C++ as well. This lead to projects such as writing a relatively simple text editor for Windows, which I now realise was a poor attempt at re-inventing Emacs.

As my knowledge grew, so did my ideas. I started toying with writing my own operating system, among other things, and this led me to get into systems development. Around this time, I also started experimenting, mentally, with the idea of what I called a “global file system”. My idea was to have people sign up to some network, somehow, and donate storage. However much they donated, they got that much back on the network. Alright on paper, but had a series of problems that weren’t very obvious to 14 year old me.

After starting at the University of Essex, things began to clarify for me significantly. The project complexity I was able to handle rapidly increased, with all these incredibly smart people surrounding me, that I could bounce ideas off, and collaborate with. The course itself was somewhat incidental to this. This was the communal mindset, driving me to greater heights. I played with some network protocols in C, toyed around a lot with LISP, and eventually found Rust.

This facilitated me to then apply to the Google Summer of Code, at the end of my final year, for Redox. My project was to write an ACPI machine language interpreter for the kernel. AML is used, as a bit of background, to control the interface between the hardware and the software – hardware can request the software to spin up fans, for example, and the software will do it through AML. Or, the software might want to turn off a disk it isn’t using, which is again done through an AML function – probably a different one though.

I was sold on Rust for several years, and worked on all kinds of projects in the language. Redox was but one. A ray tracer, an implementation of ping (which I originally intended to flesh out into a remote server management thing, but that didn’t quite come into fruition), etc.

All this was helped by my time at Rolls-Royce. I’d seen safety critical code, and the way it used to be written. Very careful management of C, Ada, and so on. While it worked, it was a little clunky. A lot of manual processes were in place to ensure safety was maintaned, as well as a lot of automated processes which could take a very long time. Rust avoided all of this, by taking an altogether more modern approach to the same goal.

While all this was going on, I started to build up a moral framework for my work. I was strongly in favour of open source, both for moral and practical reasons. Knowledge should be shared, and if a tool doesn’t do what I need it to, why shouldn’t I modify the tool?

I also became heavily involved in electronic rights – privacy, anti-censorship, and so on. I made a personal vow that no software I wrote would ever weaken somebody’s electronic rights, nor put their life in danger, nor do anything else which could actively harm somebody. And, where I could, I would work towards improving said rights of people, through technology.

When MaidSafe reached out to me, I was pretty much instantly sold. It combined an idea I’d had years ago, which I was still mulling over, with my favourite language to code in, along with a company that had all of the same morals as me. And, to boot, it was remote, giving me all the flexibility I got to enjoy while coding for Redox. All this seems right up my street as far as work goes, allowing me to solve exactly the sort of problems I’m interested in solving, using all the technologies I want to use.

 

February 2018 Update

Snowman

The Beast from the East snow storm in Scotland may have stopped traffic across the country but it certainly hasn’t slowed progress of the SAFE Network.  This month has been full of new hires, new guidelines for developers and development updates.

Thanks to the continued hard work of Victoria, our Office Manager, we are now welcoming many new faces to the Maidsafe team.  We have now filled the Test and Release Manager, Rust Engineer, Software Support Analyst, UX/UI Designer and Admin Assistant roles.  This is not only testament to the ever growing needs of the network but the speed of its growth. We look forward to these new staffers becoming part of the community.

We are very excited to have announced our first European DevCon in Scotland in April 2018.  As the majority of the MaidSafe global team will in the Ayr HQ for a staff weekend we are inviting developers to join us for a one day development conference to learn more about the network, recent developments and share community projects.  If you would like to join us please email outreach@maidsafe.net.  We will also be sharing the conference via a livestream and will post joining details closer to the time.  

Following a very successful funding cycle the Safecoin animated video Community Engagement Programme was over funded.  In light of this we have agreed with Hypercube to create a second video in addition to the Safecoin video. There has been good progress on the Safecoin video and we are expecting to see initial animations in the coming weeks.  

Progress for the  new MaidSafe website is also coming along.  We have now completed the wireframing and are expecting the designs from the agency  later this week. This is an exciting stage and will give us a better idea of the end product. We will continue to share updates on the forum.  

Dug, Marketing and Outreach Coordinator, has been increasing his outreach work this week and has been attending and speaking at a number of events.   It is not practical for Dug to create or attend meet ups around the globe so we are once again looking to the community to help us spread the SAFE Network word.  The long term vision is to have meet ups in every major city around the world. More information on this can be found on this forum thread and if you would like to lead or set up a Meet Up locally please contact Dug Campbell (outreach@maidsafe.net).

The front-end team and Shona have been working hard in the last few months and have now released UX Guidelines. We hope that this will be helpful for app developers and we will continue to see several new and exciting apps being developed on the SAFE Network.  

Following the development of Peruse Browser earlier this year we have now released V0.4.0 with new features and functions. There has also been a new new version of the SAFE Browser released this month, v0.9.0.

Routing has been busy in the last few weeks and we have now outlined the milestones for implementations onto our workflow system (JIRA). Although this is still an ongoing process as we continuously improving the design.    Steady progress is being made with tasks being picked off towards the DataChains first milestone.

Thanks for your continued support!

Starting 2018 with a Bang – Monthly update on SAFE Network

Start window of the peruse browser

It has been a very successful and busy start to 2018. Here’s the round up of the best bits from January at the SAFE Network.

Development

We are almost ready to release a new custom Browser, Peruse following extensive planning and development. The existing SAFE Browser as you may be aware is a fork of the Beaker Browser and this has worked well, however, recent changes including a move towards DAT has created extra work for the team with conflicting code.  The decision was therefore taken to develop a new custom browser and it is hoped that the reduced time needed to handle upstream merges and bugs will allow for quicker updates going forward.  

Early this month we also published new versions of SAFE Client Libs.  From this we hope to see more developers building on the network and adding to the apps already in development which include a decentralised forum, SAFE Content Management System, a wallet app, as well as messaging and storage apps.  

The Routing team have been busy and having conducted a number of simulations are implementing a well considered design as they progress toward alpha 3. With these simulations we will be able to test various outcomes and hope this will signal the next step for the network.

Marketing

Following the growth of the Marketing team at the end of last year we have now published some high level strategy plans for the coming months. As we increase the marketing activities as well as the visibility of these we will be including a marketing updates within the weekly Dev Update every Thursday.   

We have begun work on a new MaidSafe website and anticipate launch in early April.  The current site was created to support the release of Alpha 2 in September 2017 and as planned we are updating this as we move toward Alpha 3.  

Early in January we were able to launch our first video of 2018 with an animated piece explaining the differences between the SAFE Network and the blockchain. The Next Internet Shouldn’t be Blockchain based can be viewed on our Facebook or YouTube channel and has been translated subtitles in a number of languages submitted by our community.  

Following the successful relaunch of the Community Engagement Program (CEP) before Christmas we have now appointed Hypercube to develop an animated video about Safecoin.  Having created 2 of our previous videos we are excited to see what they will come up with and look forward to sharing it with you all very soon.  As this project has been over funded we have also come to an agreement with Hypercube that they will create a second video which will help explain the consensus mechanism behind the SAFE Network.

As well as the CEP we have been increasing our resources for newcomers and have recently announced our plans for a SAFE Network Academy.  Aiming to provide short courses that build up the knowledge and awareness among interested parties. We envision this to be an incremental series of courses and will release more news on these very soon. In the meantime if you are looking for comprehensive information on the network the new Safe Primer is now available.  This fantastic resource was created by a team from our community and we are very grateful for all of their hard work.

Recruitment and Growth

As the company and the Network continues to grow we continue to recruit for a number of roles with some success. At the MaidSafe HQ in Ayr we recently recruited Nadia Burborough  as a Technical Executive Assistant on 26th January, she will work closely with the engineers and will assist Viv in staying updated with the work of the ever growing team.  

Bank of desks

 

 

We have also just recruited a Test and Release Manager and a UI/UX Designer who will both be based from our HQ as well as a new remote Rust Engineer who will start with us in the coming weeks. This activity comes on the back of the successful launch of a dedicated office for the front-end team in Chennai, India, and our partners there are working to hard to expand the team and fill this wonderful new space.

Media

This year has kicked off with some strong media coverage.  COO Nick Lambert has spoken on both BBC Radio Scotland and BBC Radio 4 on 4th January BBC 5 Live earlier this week.  We have also had two blog pieces from Sarah in the BraveNewCoin and The Block, both on topic of autonomous cars. To round of January David spoke with John Harris from Guardian with this resulting article “The punk rock internet – how DIY rebels are working to replace tech giants”.

As someone posted recently on the forum ‘the community is buzzing’ at the moment, thanks to everyone for your continued time, support and commitment!

Regards MaidSafe.

SAFE Network Autumn/Winter 2017 Update

It has been a busy few months with the SAFE Network, we have had updates on the Network, the APIs and Browser as well as internal changes here at MaidSafe.  

As we continue to grow we have taken the decision to open an office in India.  As we already have a number of key front-end developers in Chennai this new office space will allow us to further develop this team and enabling greater internal collaboration. Being based in  the technological hub of Chennai will help us attract some of the best talent as well as interact with other tech firms, industry events and meet-ups.  We have found a great space in an IT business park which can house up to 30 staff, primarily the front end team.  Renovations and design of these premises is set to be completed by late January 2018. This is a very exciting project and we will be sharing pictures of the office, the renovations and updates on the forum.

As many of you who follow us on the forum and social media will know we have been experiencing some big changes in Scotland too.  We recently moved from our previous office in Troon to a new place in Ayr.  Although this is not a big move geographically it is a bigger and more comfortable space which we hope will allow us to continue to grow both the operations and development teams.  In October we brought onboard a Digital Marketer to help us improve our market presence and marketing strategy.  Alongside Nick, Sarah has been developing the near term marketing strategy; there is a focus on increasing our brand awareness, educating people about the network, improving the understanding  of Safecoin and its unique features, as well as showcasing the world’s first and only autonomous data network to a wider audience.

In line with this Nick has been busy promoting the network from Glasgow to Google. We attended and spoke at the  Scottish Blockchain Meet up in early November in Glasgow.  There was a strong turnout and some very interesting questions and discussion.  If you would like to join the next meet up, keep an eye on our Facebook. On 30th November Nick headed to Dublin to give Google an introduction to the SAFE Network.  Employees from across the globe joined the meeting through a video conference and many more watched the video subsequently.

To maintain the momentum, the marketing department will be further strengthened by Dug Campbell later this month. Dug has worked for a number of leading technology companies including Sky Scanner and MiiCard and has been an advocate of Bitcoin for a number of years, organising Scotland’s first Bitcoin conference in 2014 and speaking about it later that year at TedX Glasgow. With a wealth of knowledge and experience Dug promises to be a great addition to the team.

We are also now recruiting for a number of other roles in our Ayr HQ.  We continue to  look for a UI/UX Designer, Software Support Engineer and a Testing and Release Manager. To start a conversation and join this exciting journey email outreach@maidsafe.net

There has been extensive updates across the network recently and the team are continuing to make strong and consistent advances.  Since the release of Alpha 2 in mid-September there has been a number of test networks and key updates and changes.

Following the release of Alpha 2 there has been two new SAFE Browser releases, V0.7.0 and V0.8.0 both of which made incremental updates and fixed bugs. Following extensive discussion across the dev teams and community it has been decided that a custom Browser should be created following the reorganisation of Beaker since our fork that has made maintaining our current browser difficult.  While we did consider other browsers including Firefox and Brave the work-around were too extensive.  We are therefore creating a Electron-based browser and a Proof of Concept is currently in external testing. This pre-release can be downloaded here.

There has also been updates to the SAFE Apps Nodes.js and SAFE Web APIs following changes to the SAFE Client Libraries. SAFE App Nodes.js has been updated to take advantage of the master branch of the safe client libraries. Further to our commitment to open source and community focused development Nodes.js allows everyone to develop self-contained web apps in Javascript. The DOM API has been updated to reflect changes made in app nodes, this will reduce the number of handles the DOMS API need to expose and will simplify the web apps code. We hope that these changes will improve the developer experience.

The next big challenge for the team is the creation of data chains and we are now nearing the final stage. As you may remember from our previous blog, data chains allow the network to republish data if it should ever lose power.  We have begun coding the features to better express the fundamental and continue to test the design. These designs will be incorporated into the alpha 3 release.  A deeper dive on the data chains design is available here.

In Crust the p2p library integration is almost complete.  This will move reliance away from the slow and unfriendly peer to peer world of TCP and provide more reliable NAT traversal. Integration is a significant step towards a secure multi-protocol, randomised port encrypted network library which will be a great help to many projects, and offer greater security and privacy for users..

We once again want to thanks the SAFE community for your continued support as we work to create the SAFE Network and the levels of data privacy and security you all deserve.

The MaidSafe team.