Blog


Oct

Give a shit about copy


I follow the blog “Great not Big” by Carl Erickson at Atomic Object. Yesterday he wrote about their value mantra “Give a shit”. I think it’s a brilliant way to express that you care about what you do. He ends the blogpost with the question if others would rather use “care deeply” or “give a shit” in public and why.

I definitely say “Give a shit”. I work with copy and it’s hard. Many companies use the same phrases, and most of them sound hollow. When potential clients read the same things and promises over and over again it has no impact. I think the phrase “care deeply” will go unnoticed or leave the reader with the feeling of empty promises.

If you instead read “Give a shit” you will react. Some may be offended but I think most people will react positively and, most importantly, remember you. “Give a shit” will stick. It will leave the client with the feeling that you mean what you say, and that is good copy.

Copy shouldn’t be written to sound good or suck up to clients. It should reflect how we work, be straight forward and honest. No bullshit. At Elabs we work with an open and constant dialog with our clients, we discuss and advise. Our copy should reflect that, so our clients know what they can expect. Right now it doesn't, and we're working on changing that.

A phrase that I think unfortunately is used too often in our business, and therefore lost its appeal, is “handcrafted”. The initial thought about using the term handcrafted about development was good, even great. It emphasizes that developers care about their work, care about details and about building something with quality to be proud of. But when too many companies use the phrase it loses its meaning. It won’t stick. At Elabs we've used the word bespoke instead. The problem is that it’s actually the same word, just sounds fancier. And it’s not memorable.

So how do we convey the meaning of handcrafted without using the word? I don’t know. But if we want to stand out and make clients react and remember us we must give a shit about our copy.

Sep

A conference should be an experience filled with joy


Jonas Downey at 37signals wrote about their experiences at the XOXO conference in Portland last week. It sounds like it was a great conference, and the principles behind it echoes our ideas for Nordic Ruby. This passage from the blog post about XOXO sums up Nordic Ruby as well:

“Conference events shouldn’t be short and formal. Andy Baio and Andy McMillan could teach s course in throwing a good event. In short: allow your attendees plenty of room to breathe. Don’t pack in tons of simultaneous sessions in a generic hotel. Give people an experience. Give them free time. Give them good food and loads of coffee in a weird place.”
— Jonas Downey, Lessons in creativity and joy at XOXO

We share the XOXO organisers belief in having fun together. To create social time for the attendees. The conversations and new connections you make at a conference are important. So putting everyone in one place for a couple of days with a spacious schedule and parties in the evenings open up for socialising which, like Jonas writes in his blog post, is invaluable.

To read more about our thoughts on Nordic Ruby, check out CJ's blog post about Nordic Ruby 2012.

Sep

Nordic Ruby 2012


After running two successful Nordic Ruby conferences in Gothenburg (2010 and 2011), we knew we wanted to do something different this year. Since many of our attendees are from Stockholm, we decided to move the conference there.

We went for an "East meets West" theme representing both the move from the west coast of Sweden to the east coast, and bringing a Japanese programming language to western Europe. With that in mind, we found the perfect venue — Yasuragi Hasseludden — a Japanese style spa in the Stockholm archipelago.

The Yasuragi terrace

Having the conference at a spa also fit perfectly with what's always been our vision for Nordic Ruby; a great event that's brings people together, where everyone can have a shared experience, and leave recharged and inspired. Nordic Ruby has always been single track, with everyone having lunches and dinners together, to give that shared experience. We've also always had slightly different format than most other conferences, with short talks, each followed by a break at least as long. This ensures that everyone has plenty of time to meet and talk to other attendees and speakers, and gives everyone the chance to digest the avalanche of information that a conference can be.

Yasuragi proved the perfect venue to take these ideas to the next level. We included accommodation at the spa in the ticket price, which meant that people didn't disappear to different hotels at the end of the day, giving even more of a shared experience. The calm and relaxing atmosphere meant that people left the conference feeling energised, rather than drained as is the usual feeling after many other conferences. And of course, the Japanese style of the spa was a perfect homage to the origin of Ruby.

Corey Haines

We had some amazing speakers this year too, and we're very grateful to them for coming all the way to Sweden to share their knowledge and passion. We had fantastic experienced speakers such as Corey Haines and Steve Klabnik, but the speaker who blew everyone away was Katrina Owen. Katrina had never spoken at a conference before, but she presented her thoughts on the therapeutic aspects of refactoring in a masterful way. The audience was at the edge of their seats, spellbound by her pitch-perfect storytelling. She's since gone on to present at many other conferences, with equal aplomb.

Katrina Owen

What makes Nordic Ruby such a great experience for all of us though is the attendees. They embraced and added to the atmosphere of the conference, donning the yukata (traditional Japanese bathrobes) they were given, and taking full advantage of the environment. People reconnected with old friends, and made many new ones. In the end, that's what really matters. Our goal with Nordic Ruby has always been to facilitate this by providing a great opportunity and environment for it.

Some of the Elabs crew relaxing

We're busy planning next year's Nordic Ruby. As successful as this year's conference was, there are always things to improve. If you want to help out, we're always looking for sponsors. We couldn't make Nordic Ruby happen without the great support from our sponsors (Hashrocket, Engine Yard, Valtech, GitHub, and ProjectPuzzle this year). If you're interested in sponsoring next year, get in touch.

Nordic Ruby will be held June 6-9 next year. If you want to attend, you should follow @nordicruby on Twitter or track it on Lanyrd. We hope to see you there!

Working under the midnight sun

P.S. Check out more photos by our photographer Antony Sastre in our Flickr album.

Jun

Almost time for Nordic Ruby


Right now, all of us at Elabs are on our way to Stockholm for the 3rd annual Nordic Ruby – the conference that we organise every year.

Nordic Ruby is the highlight of the year for us. While organising it is a lot of work, we always leave refreshed and motivated. Listening to the presentations and meeting the attendees from all over the world is always inspiring. We can't wait for the conference to start tomorrow.

If you want to follow along, follow @elabs and @nordicruby on Twitter.

May

Campfire Stories: May 7-11


Monday, May 7

Mission: Small Business

LivingSocial launched a new initiative that lets small businesses apply for grants of $250,000. We built the app.

http://www.missionsmallbusiness.com

Tuesday, May 8

Meetings.io

Interesting alternative to Skype or Google+ Hangout.

http://meetings.io

Wednesday, May 9

CtrlP

Fuzzy file finder for VIM.

http://github.com/kien/ctrlp.vim

remote_model

Nice DSL for interacting with APIs in RubyMotion.

http://github.com/clayallsopp/remote_model

CSS arrow please!

Create boxes with arrows in CSS.

http://cssarrowplease.com

Thursday, May 10

Multiple Ruby version support on Heroku

Specify your Ruby version in your Gemfile on Heroku.

http://blog.heroku.com/archives/2012/5/9/multiple_ruby_version_support_on_heroku/

Shifticons

Create custom icon web fonts.

http://www.shifticons.com

Ninja

Ninja

Anders T shows us his ninja skills.

Friday, May 11

Radio buttons

Ever wondered why HTML radio buttons are called that?

Radio buttons