Another epic Tech23

Pitching @ Tech23

“Invention is a solo event. Innovation is almost always a team sport.” – Larry Marshall, CEO CSIRO

This is just one of the stellar quotes that came out of the seventh annual Tech23 event on 17 November in Sydney. The event celebrates Australian innovation by connecting investors, and entrepreneurs from across enterprise, government, university and industry sectors.

23 young companies with high growth potential and technical expertise pitched their stories and problems they’re tackling, with industry experts responding with both insights and advice. But outside of the presentations themselves, one of the most important parts of the event constantly reinforced throughout the day is the connections and collaboration between brilliant people from all walks of the innovation ecosystem. Continue reading

Hack it Forward: Time to give back. Again

In August we held our 2nd ever community and charity based Hack Day at REA: Hack it Forward.

More than 110 people in our Melbourne and Xi’an offices spent two days hacking for social causes, non-profit organisations and helping people in need. This year we partnered with more fantastic groups including:

Yet another wonderful event with 25 projects being tackled in 48 hours by smart, passionate people.

Best of all we captured it all in this little video. Enjoy 🙂

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How to hack yourself a 3D room camera

I sometimes get the feeling that Google is watching me.

I don’t mean the way it emails me three hours before I have to catch a plane, or how it recommends news articles I actually would like to read, or how it does that thing where ads follow me all around the internet. That’s not paranoia. We all know they’re watching us for that stuff.

No, I’m talking about REA Hack Day projects.

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Getting Shit Done

This post was originally published internally, as an appeal to REA colleagues.

“Getting Shit Done” is the catchphrase on everybody’s lips, and deservedly so!  When we deliver new functionality, our users regroup and flock to us, our customers grudgingly respect us, and our shareholders rejoice.  When the novel concepts invented by our product managers take shape as they watch, their eyes light up with pride and enthusiasm.  Programmers are never happier than when fire and magic fly from their fingertips; products that change people’s lives materialise from thin air, and insurmountable problems melt like butter.  Beer flows freely, parmas are devoured and our managers circulate glowing praise within the company.

We have all felt the opposite too; long months gone by without new features, frustrated and bored developers; product managers forced to nervously adjust their collars and disappoint their superiors, with often dense technical reasons they can barely hope to convey.  New features pop up like mushrooms on our competitors’ sites, and we wonder: why didn’t we do this years ago?

Yet when I hear this phrase “Get Shit Done”, I grimace; my teeth clench and my back involuntarily stiffens.  Why?  There is truly nothing I want more, and it is clearly important; many of our most talented teammates live by it.

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Hack Day 101 (and why it’s essential for your business)

Employee led innovation is nothing new.

Google 20% time is acknowledged for producing a number of key product innovations like Gmail and Docs (although it’s understood they have officially killed off that perk). Over at Facebook, founder Mark Zuckerberg spoke extensively of “The Hacker Way” in their IPO filing to the SEC.

What is not as widely known is that employee time can be traced all the way back to Post-WW2 in the United States. It was 1948 and multinational manufacturer 3M instigated “15% time“. In 1974 an employee by the name of Art Fry used this time to develop a means of applying an adhesive to the back of a piece of paper and the post-it note was born.

In addition to the Silicon Valley titans, several companies have embraced employee time to foster innovation, all with pretty cool names: BlueSky (Apple), [in]Cubator (LinkedIn), Hackweek (Dropbox), The Garage (Microsoft), ShipIt (Atlassian).

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Announcing bash-spec-2

How I learned to stop worrying and love bash scripting

The horror…

It’s 3am and PagerDuty is waking you up. You just want to re-deploy an app because that’s the quickest way to get things going again and you like sleep. But wait – it turns out this deploy relies on a version of ruby you don’t have, the bundle won’t install because nokogiri is having problems and you wonder if gardening might have been a more rewarding career.

Bash scripting provides a simple way to get things done and avoids many of the above dramas. However, we hear that bash scripts are ok for really short things that can be tested manually and anything else is better left to a “Real Programming Language™” (whether ruby qualifies is left as an exercise for the reader).

bash-spec-2 to the rescue. With this nifty little testing framework you can TDD your way to a set of comprehensible, documented functions. Continue reading