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Old tricks for a new dog. Sort of.

I think this is something that happens to a number of people who do a similar job to me – i.e. you send your working years developing specifications, talking to customers, looking at internal processes for support, change requests, reporting, little bit of this, little bit of that. And whenever a new person starts in the team they go around the introductions: “I’m Dave, developer”, “I’m Jane, developer”, “I’m Gary, trainer”, then the inevitable “I’m Tim, er…[mumble][cough]..er…stuff…well I’m doing something all day, you know…”

So it came as a great relief when it turns out that what I do is IT Business Analysis. Seems this is something that happens to many BAs who find they’ve effectively been one for a long time but didn’t have a title for it. What’s interesting is that when you have a label for it it becomes easier to understand what you do, what it links into the other things you do; it tidies things up and gives you access to other people who have been aware of BA for a long time (LinkedIn groups is great for this). I got the book (Business Analysis, 2nd Ed, BCS) and sure enough, these indeed covered a much of my job description (though the book nicely formalises it and has much more that I have to learn from – and I should do the exam too).

Of course there’s a heck of a lot more to being a BA, and the thing you really need to grips with (and that’s next on the reading list, or at least get familiar with list) is BABOK 2 (Business Analysis Body Of Knowledge version 2).

Anyway, so finally I have crystallised my job title to “Business Analyst / Communication Consultant” – I dropped “IT” at the beginning for brevity, but added Communications Consultant at the end for levity [are you sure that’s the right word? Ed] to cover all the comms work I’m doing, particularly with social media development (Twitter chats, Google+, YouTube channel, help desk self service). It’s quite refreshing when you can find you can tell people what you do with surety and conviction.

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Twitter API stumbling blocks

Xeream is done, mostly. And live at http://xeream.404i.com and works fine but for the Twitter OAuth sign in has suddently started to fail (and causing the log in page to bomb). I also seem to be unable to get the Twitter API to work for posting tweets (to signed in user’s feed). Once these are done then that’s virtually it.

Then we can move onto persuading people to use it. I have at least 2 specific tweet chats I would like to run so I need to get this rolling. Getting some help with this is my next step: I’ve stared at stackoverflow pages long enough and want to get things moving.

Nearly there.

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Getting tricky now, but if it works….!

I’ve been tweaking and fiddling with Xeream (still on my local environment) and thought I should at least have a go at plugging in the Twitter API to allow users to post tweets from the, and to list a search of the appropriate hash tag. So I installed TweetSharp into the project (which appears to be updated for Twitter’s 1.1 API). So it sort of works, but doesn’t (gave a stack overflow error). I’m thinking this may be an authentication issue as the API call is coming from a http://localhost/ address but the application is set up to call from 404i.com (which it will do eventually).

With that in mind then I thinking, time to move to host that has 4.5 framework – and I think I’ll do it in the next few days (get Xmas out of the way first). Most likely going to go with HostForLIFE.eu – the reviews look good and is at the right budget.

Meantime, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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Xeream done: all wrapped up and no place to go

I’ve been busy over the last few weeks and on my laptop I’ve developed the tweet chat/discussion web site Xeream. Lots of Bootstrap and jQuery and a little code in the background and it’s all ready. I was all set to get it live  on 404i.com when I stumbled into a small problem – my hosting account is .Net 4.0 framework but Xeream requires 4.5. Oh dear. I may have to wait until January to get a new host, or alternatively I can persuade my work to put this onto one of our cloud servers.

In the meantime, here’s a Prezi thrown together as a “How to guide” as a preview.

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Xeream – Fun with Bootstrap and JQuery

I mentioned a while back how I wanted to get going with MVC – sadly not far after the Hello World app was put together I moved onto the next part of the MVC ebook and found myself facing reams of code that was going to take quite a lot more time than I had available to understand and hope to become proficient in. I hope I’ve done enough to understand the principles behind MVC at least.

Meanwhile, what I did need to get better acquainted with with Responsive Design and using Javascript libraries. I had a site that I wanted to build using standard .net web forms (no longer using MVC as my original intention) but I wanted to use Bootstrap as the design framework, and throw in what ever handy javascript plugin bells and whistles come to hand.

Introducing the project: Xeream

So what to build? Well at a medical education conference in the Summer (IAMSE 2013, St. Andrews) I attended an interesting presentation/demo about how the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (BJOG) were trying out Twitter-based journal clubs* to discuss a recently (or soon to be published) scientific paper. This is not necessarily something new and TweetChat have been doing this type of thing for quite a while. However, it seemed like there wasn’t a simple way of organising an upcoming event where additional materials and any initial discussion could be provided for potential participants. Tweetchat does provided scheduling facilities though didn’t find them particularly easy to use, and the option for additional resources not obvious.

So, using a made up word (Xeream) I decided to create a very simple solution to this. In a nutshell, create an account, create an Event (title, summary, description, hash tag, links to resources, and start and end date and time) and that’s about it. When the event is complete then the resource can be added to by Storifying the Twitter discussion the had ensued.

A simple (Jumbotron) Bootstrap template was used and immediately the site has responsive design. Shrink the browser window and the menu changes, images shrink, 3 column format becomes a single column. For the bells and whistles, date picker, time picker, hash tag copy to clip board (with whizzy text animation as you see with Bit.ly copy button), keyword styling as you type… All this done using mainly JQuery plugins.

Some things on the To Do list include Add Event to my Outlook calendar, OpenAuth sign on using Twitter log in which would allow for the twittering to happen within a Xeream page, and possible and email invites facility.

If it was to be monetised then perhaps the option to brand an event, e.g. with a journal’s logo. Just a thought…. It assumes that this would get some use, a tall order when it’s up against Tweetchat. The value has mostly been to me and what I’ve learned along the way.

I hope to get this online to demo quite soon and see if it rolls.

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Business Analysis – the next road on the journey

Since entering IT nearly 8 years ago (as a developer) my role has changed ever further from coding more towards requirements gathering, account management, support, ITSM, comms and more. Along the way I’ve picked up certificates in project management (PRINCE2) and IT service management (ITIL and ISO20000). As time passed it became increasingly difficult to state what my job actually was. Whenever a new person joined the team we would go round the room to each introduce ourselves and state our job (“I’m and I’m a developer”) but when it got to me I’d find myself waffling about “…this and that…”

I knew I was doing something every day, quite a lot actually, but it was hard to state in a single job title what this was. I’d tried technical consultant analyst was sort of it but not exactly.

Then I came across the notion of the Business Analyst. This is a job title that appears to cover a good proportion of what I actually do for much of the day. To that end I’ve now bought the book (Business Analysis 2nd Edition, Paul, Yeates and Cadle [Editors], BCS), joined the LinkedIn group, and will ultimately attempt to persuade my employer to at least pay for the exam (if not a full taught course).

BA appears to be what I’ve been looking for, so let’s see where this takes me….

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