Blog

Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 18th July 2016
July 22, 2016
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Meetup: UX For Life
July 22, 2016
This Tuesday was the initial first UX For Life meetup, held at Unboxed HQ. Hosted by Leon Odey-Knight and Alice Richmond, UX For Life is a meetup group consisting of lightning talks which delve even deeper into the user experience of our existenc...
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ShareDigital conference 2016
July 19, 2016
The conference: Share Digital 2016 The date: Wednesday 6th July The attendees: Graeme, Martyn With the aim of growing and expanding my knowledge in the digital public services area, I jumped at the opportunity to attend this year’s ShareDigital 2...
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 11th July 2016
July 13, 2016
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 4th July 2016
July 8, 2016
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 27th June 2016
July 1, 2016
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 13th June 2016
June 17, 2016
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 6th June 2016
June 10, 2016
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Faster than Lightning: May’s monthly developer event
June 9, 2016
Each month, we host a Dev Event which is an opportunity for our developers to get together, share ideas, or just catch up with each other. May’s developer event This May we hosted “Faster than Lightning” code talks. For this event, each d...
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 30th May 2016
June 3, 2016
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 16th May 2016
May 20, 2016
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 9th May 2016
May 13, 2016
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Shaking up early product development, part 2: The Minimum Viable Pr...
May 4, 2016
An MVP is a Minimum Viable Product. This is the smallest possible thing that delivers value and you can learn from. Your MVP can usually be thought of as your initial product; the first thing you try to sell to your customer. But your MVP can help...
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 25th April 2016
April 29, 2016
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Shaking up early product development, part 1: Using journey mapping...
April 27, 2016
We’re all trying to create a product or service that is valuable to our users. So it’s important to remember that the only people who can really think like our users are our users. Looking at our product or service through the eyes of our us...
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 18th April 2016
April 22, 2016
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Spanning the rift: Beginning your first agile project in a waterfal...
April 21, 2016
One of the first mistakes you could make is thinking that the transition from waterfall to agile as being simply a process change – a change from one set of processes and practices to another. It’s much more about your culture and behaviour. In t...
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 11th April 2016
April 15, 2016
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4 reasons why it’s wise to bring your developers along to business ...
April 14, 2016
Traditionally, the waterfall process excludes developers from being involved in “non-development” meetings. This is for a number of reasons. Primarily it was seen as “not a developer’s responsibility”, where business analysts/lead designers/...
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 4th April 2016
April 8, 2016
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 28th March 2016
April 1, 2016
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 21st March 2016
March 24, 2016
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 14th March 2016
March 18, 2016
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Event: Digitalising Local Government Services
March 18, 2016
With ongoing spending cuts and budgets getting tighter and tighter, it’s becoming more costly for local councils to maintain their services as they currently work. Shifting these services to digital reduces running costs, increases accessibility a...
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 7th March 2016
March 11, 2016
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Recruitment: Test Driven Candidate Self Selection
March 7, 2016
The Problem I have been to a number of university careers fairs - as both a job seeker and an employer - and know how awkward those conversations with somebody that you do not know, who almost definitely intimidates you, can be. As a jobseeker yo...
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 29th February 2016
March 4, 2016
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 22nd February 2016
February 26, 2016
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 15th February 2016
February 19, 2016
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 8th February 2016
February 12, 2016
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 1st February 2016
February 5, 2016
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The Unboxed product accelerator adventure goes to South Africa
February 2, 2016
We’ve been on a mission to conceive, build, nurture digital products that matter for many years now. More recently this means creating an ecosystem in which other people’s ideas can become reality. Unboxed invested in my purpose-led start up acce...
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 25th January 2016
January 29, 2016
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SnowHow: Mountain vs. Startup
January 26, 2016
At Unboxed, we like to work with, and mentor, entrepreneurs and startups. We love ideas. Growing ideas and exploring new ones – not only our own but those of others. That’s why we’re spending this year working with 50th Generation – a purpose-led ...
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 18th January 2016
January 22, 2016
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Guest post: Learning in Local Government - Part 2
January 18, 2016
Following on from part one in our ‘Learning in Local Government through Discovery’ series, part two is a guest post by Helen Gracie, a Business Improvement Advisor for Buckinghamshire County Council. We’re currently working alongside B...
LifT Digital
January 15, 2016

Invoice financing: faster, simpler and cheaper directly through your existing online accounting package Many growing small businesses in the UK need to ease cash flow quickly - but it needs to be cost effective and sustainable over time. LifT i...

Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 11th January 2016
January 15, 2016
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Learning in Local Government through Discovery
January 11, 2016
There’s a lot of content available online about doing agile with local councils - talks, conferences, case studies, white papers, etc. A lot of content guiding us to knowing what this should look like. But what does this really look like in practi...
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 4th January 2016
January 8, 2016
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 14th December 2015
December 18, 2015
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 7th December 2015
December 11, 2015
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Event: The £50k Springboard
December 7, 2015
How to use the first £50k of a digital product to build the business case for the next £500k You’ve been given the first initial budget for a new digital product idea (or to overhaul an existing one). That digital product is going to be the one t...
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 30th November 2015
December 4, 2015
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 23rd November 2015
November 27, 2015
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An E-xperience in Colombia
November 26, 2015
Public Digital Innovation I received a surprise invitation in September from Angelica Bello (@hracangie) from the Colombian Ministry of ITC (@Ministerio_TIC) to speak at their annual e-xperience event (@Gobiernoenlinea). This two day conference i...
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 16th November 2015
November 20, 2015
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 9th November 2015
November 13, 2015
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 2nd November 2015
November 6, 2015
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 26th October 2015
October 30, 2015
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 19th October 2015
October 23, 2015
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 11th October 2015
October 16, 2015
Product Management versus Product Ownership
October 12, 2015

We talk a lot about ownership at Unboxed. We feel it really encapsulates the combination of empowerment and responsibility that makes people effective and happy. So how does this work in a product team with both a Product Owner and a Product Manag...

Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 5th October 2015
October 9, 2015
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 28th September 2015
October 2, 2015
Summer at Unboxed - Round Two
October 2, 2015

Just over a week ago I completed my second summer internship at Unboxed (here’s my blog post from last year’s internship). I had the opportunity to work on an assortment of projects allowing me to experience a wide range of new tools and technolog...

Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 21st September 2015
September 25, 2015
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Event: Andrew White’s Technical Breakfast Club - What's coming in R...
September 24, 2015
Rails Core Member and Unboxed’s CTO, Andrew White (@pixeltrix), held the first Andrew White’s Technical Breakfast Club last Wednesday morning. Developers and architects attended to hear the uncovering of the major topic, and find out the answer ...
Visualising UK Government Petitions
September 21, 2015

The new Petitions site has been a massive success since its launch this July, with tens of thousands signing petitions each day. It was suggested to me that it would interesting to visualise this data with a heatmap - giving an insight into the po...

Replacing the Asset pipeline with Gulp
September 18, 2015

When Rails 3.1 was released back in 2011 it brought a big change to the way Rails apps handled and served assets %w(css javascript images fonts) - the asset pipeline. Gone were the days of manually converting coffeescript to javascript before com...

Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 14th September 2015
September 18, 2015
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Thinking product at Mind the Product 2015
September 14, 2015
I’ve been thinking and talking recently about whether “product” is the right word for what I do. I speak to many people like me (oddly, many of them with fine art degrees) who sit somewhere between design, technology and business and end up as “pr...
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 7th September 2015
September 11, 2015
Agile pon de Beach 2015 - #AgileOTB
September 9, 2015

The conference: Agile On The Beach 2015 The dates: Thursday 2nd & Friday 3rd September The attendees: Claire, Jack, Martyn, Ben and Graeme (+200 others, but we don’t have caricatures for them) 2 days. 50 speakers. 40 sessions. 1 beac...

Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 31st August 2015
September 4, 2015
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 24th August 2015
August 28, 2015
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 17th August 2015
August 21, 2015
Planting the seeds for successful KPI trees
August 20, 2015

KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and KPI trees were at the root of Wednesday’s Masterclass, hosted by Richard Stobart. A blend of senior digital stakeholders, product owners and digital creatives attended this one-off session to explore the answ...

Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 10th August 2015
August 14, 2015
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 3rd August 2015
August 7, 2015
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Communication - One Step Forward, Two Steps Slack?
August 7, 2015
It is widely assumed that software developers are introverted and quiet individuals, who like their own headspace when writing code. In my experience, this is generally true; I sometimes like to spend the whole day with my headphones in without in...
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What is the definition of ‘done’?
August 4, 2015
If you’re breaking your project up into features, then make sure you define what ‘done’ means for a feature. Consider ‘done’ in terms of: Functionally Operationally Being able to be tested automatically Automated deployments Features need t...
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 27th July 2015
July 31, 2015
Why should you have a zero-defect strategy?
July 28, 2015

Part of the logic of a zero-defect strategy is about psychology: specifically, the psychology of the developer working on code that they know is flawed. The other part of it is just good business practice… We’ve all heard many times that t...

Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 20th July 2015
July 24, 2015
Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 13th July 2015
July 17, 2015
Are you managing the right risks?
July 13, 2015

I was talking to a very good Project Manager the other day. We were talking about the risks that a Project Manager manages in the delivery of software. In a traditional project, the risks managed are often not actually the biggest risks that proj...

Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 6th July 2015
July 10, 2015
Why a UX-er and a Developer trumps System and Business Analysts
July 6, 2015

An empowered Product Owner (who cares passionately about their product) coupled with a UXer (a User Experience designer) and a full-stack developer (who can knock up some prototypes very quickly) trumps a couple of system analysts and business ana...

Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 29th June 2015
July 3, 2015
Webinar: Speed up problem and customer validation
July 2, 2015

Martyn Evans hosted the second in our SpeedAgile webinar series: Speed up problem and customer validation. In this session, Martyn explored how to unlock development by quickly and deeply understand: 1. The real problem that your digital product ...

10 things that make a great Product Owner
July 1, 2015

A good Product Owner is key in success, making a huge difference in terms of drive and enthusiasm. Here (in no particular order) we’ve pulled out 10 attributes believed to make a great Product Owner (with much insight provided by Alan). ...

Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 22nd June 2015
June 26, 2015
Webinar: Speed up stakeholder communication and sign off
June 25, 2015

Richard Stobart kicked off our SpeedAgile webinar series, with the first session: ‘Speed up stakeholder communication and sign off’. In this 30-minute webinar, Richard explored: Rapidly engaging and building confidence with your stakeholders Cr...

Corporate to Unboxed, Part 2 - Advanced Scrum Master Training
June 24, 2015

Following on from Part 1 in my journey - last week, I attended an Advanced Scrum Master course with Jolie, one of Unboxed’s resident (and very experienced) Scrum Masters. Coming from a corporate project management background, my focus has been ...

How does the Product Owner role change everything in software deliv...
June 22, 2015

I was having a conversation with one of our Agile coaches, who has a long history of project management delivery. We were discussing: Who owns the successful delivery of value of the features in a traditional project approach? I think the ans...

Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 15th June 2015
June 19, 2015
Feature-based Benefits
June 15, 2015

Imagine you have several projects, which you’re trying to get a delivery team to deliver. Those projects are really important and there is a lot to be delivered, but they are also competing with each other for scarce resources. Typically, in a tr...

Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 8th June 2015
June 12, 2015
Corporate to Unboxed, a Project Manager’s journey to Scrum Master -...
June 9, 2015

Last week, I officially started my transition from being a corporate person to becoming an Unboxed person. It’s only when you get through the front door of a place that you start to sense the true scale of cultural differences between companies....

Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 1st June 2015
June 5, 2015
The Sausage Machine
June 4, 2015

We often talk about “the most important thing for a delivery team to do is…” and “what a delivery team manager should focus on is…”. Let’s get clear on who is responsible for what. If you imagine you’re trying to deliver high value, high q...

Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 25th May 2015
May 29, 2015
10 Attributes that make a great product owner
May 29, 2015

I’ve been working for Unboxed Consulting since 2008 on a large number of projects and over the years I have worked with quite a few different Product Owners. Some have been great, others not so good. On a recent project I worked on, I was lucky e...

Unboxed Roundup: Our links for w/c 18th May 2015
May 22, 2015
Roundtable: Leading the transition to Agile in established media co...
May 21, 2015

10 attendees (see who attended) 3 lightning talks 4 discussions Wednesday 20th May saw us pull up a chair to our first media roundtable discussion session. From publishers to TV and from music to education, traditional media companies have cha...

Sharing your local development server and setting up a local mail s...
May 19, 2015

I’ve recently been on a project, where for various reasons, we didn’t have a test/staging/QA server available. The lack of this environment caused a slight blocker for QA and UAT/sign off. I decided to configure my own local development server to ...

Unboxed Roundup: our links for w/c 11th May 2015
May 15, 2015
All aboard
May 14, 2015

The sooner New Joiners feel welcome and prepared for their jobs, the sooner they will be able to successfully contribute to the firm’s mission. As employers, a New Joiner’s interactions with you in their first few weeks and months has a majo...

Unstick your digital products
May 12, 2015

Stalled products in your product portfolio, a situation which is ultimately frustrating. So how do you rapidly progress these products through the pipeline, and towards the glowing light at the other end? Following on from our #StuckPipeline even...

Unboxed Roundup: our links for w/c 4th May 2015
May 8, 2015
Unboxed Roundup: our links for w/c 27th April 2015
May 1, 2015
Unboxed Roundup: our links for w/c 20th April 2015
April 24, 2015
Unboxedis10 anniversary song countdown
April 24, 2015

As we celebrate our 10th birthday next week, we thought we’d look back at what song was riding high as UK #1 on 29th April 2005. Much to our surprise, it was Peter Kay singing ‘Is This The Way To Amarillo?’ along with Tony Christie, wearing ...

The future of digital products and how we’ll design them in the future
April 21, 2015

What will digital trends change about the digital product design process – it’s a hard question to answer. So I’ll start by unpicking how we currently design for digital… Whilst I’ve always had a process of sorts it’s never been the same every ti...

Unboxed Roundup: our links for w/c 13th April 2015
April 17, 2015
Unboxed Roundup: our links for w/c 6th April 2015
April 10, 2015
jQuery UK 2015
April 3, 2015

On the first Friday of March, I jumped onto an early train from Paddington, got out at Oxford and followed the trail of blue ‘j’s painted on a path along the Thames. I was led to the King’s Centre with about 700 others for the 2015 jQuery UK confe...

Unboxed Roundup: our links for w/c 30th March 2015
April 2, 2015
Event: Kicking the cobwebs out of your stuck digital product pipeline
March 30, 2015

Four insightful speakers and a fantastic audience – Wednesday 25th March was our ‘Unstick your digital products’ event, in Central London. This energetic three-hour session was attended by heads of industry and explored the techniques to: • Acce...

Unboxed Roundup: our links for w/c 23rd March 2015
March 27, 2015
Unboxed Roundup: our links for w/c 16th March 2015
March 20, 2015
Webinar: Offshoring Agile: Make it work in practice
March 19, 2015

Carlo Kruger hosted the final webinar in the #StrongerAgile series, titled ‘Offshoring Agile: Make it work in practice’, live from our Cape Town office. Despite the belief that Agile can’t work offshore, this webinar explains how it can flourish w...

Unboxed Roundup: our links for w/c 9th March 2015
March 13, 2015
Unboxed Roundup: our links for w/c 2nd March 2015
March 6, 2015
Webinar: Why & how to include developers in business & design meeti...
March 6, 2015

Andrew White hosted the third webinar in the #StrongerAgile series, titled ‘Take developers up the foodchain: Why and how to include developers in business and design meetings for better ideation’. The full audio of the session: Topics covere...

Guest blog: A technical guide to mobile usability testing
March 3, 2015

When I worked on the agency side of user experience design I learned one thing very quickly. I learned that usability testing is the hardest thing to sell to potential clients. That is, until they observe their first session. As soon as someone se...

Webinar: Spanning the rift - Advice for waterfall organisations run...
March 2, 2015

Steve Lennon hosted the next webinar in the #StrongerAgile series, titled ‘Spanning the rift: Advice for waterfall organisations running Agile projects’. The full audio of the session: Topics covered included: • The role of culture and beha...

Unboxed Roundup: our links for w/c 23rd February 2015
February 27, 2015
Roundtable: Digital Healthcare
February 26, 2015

Wednesday 18th February saw the Digital Healthcare Roundtable Session take place at Unboxed Consulting. The session brought together a handpicked and diverse group of healthcare experts and leaders, with the aim to start a revolution in digita...

Unboxed Roundup: our links for w/c 16th February 2015
February 20, 2015
Unboxed Roundup: our links for w/c 9th February 2015
February 13, 2015
Deciding how to deliver your prioritised project portfolio
February 11, 2015

Once you’ve prioritised your project portfolio using the t-shirt sizing matrix, you’ll need to take some strategic decisions to unstick progress… Making decisions about Work In Progress (WIP) The theory says you should limit your work in...

Unboxed Roundup: our links for w/c 2nd February 2015
February 6, 2015
Unboxed Roundup: our links for w/c 26th January 2015
January 30, 2015
Webinar: 90 days to transform a ‘stuck’ digital product that HAS to...
January 27, 2015

Richard Stobart held the first in a new webinar series, titled ‘90 days to transform a ‘stuck’ digital product that HAS to succeed…’: Topics covered included: • Roadmapping • What not to do and how to untie your hands so you’re doing...

On being a remote worker
January 26, 2015

It’s been 7 months since I’ve moved away from the Cape Town office and into the position of being a full-time remote worker. In the weeks leading up to the move, I wasn’t sure how things would pan out, but I was optimistic that w...

Sending S/MIME encrypted emails with Action Mailer
January 26, 2015

Why send encrypted emails? Most people are aware now that sending emails is somewhat akin to sending a postcard - pretty much everyone in the delivery chain is able to have a peek at your message. The only way to prevent this is to encrypt your m...

Unboxed Roundup: our links for w/c 19th January 2015
January 23, 2015
How to prioritise a blocked portfolio of digital products
January 20, 2015

If you’re managing a pipeline of digital products and struggling to get traction on any or all of them, this exercise can help you quickly sift and prioritise what to do next – and engage your stakeholders in this decision making at the same time....

Unboxed Roundup: our links for w/c 12th January 2015
January 16, 2015
Unboxed Roundup: our links for w/c 5th January 2015
January 9, 2015
Unboxed Roundup: our links for w/c 15th December 2014
December 19, 2014
Being lean in the NHS
December 16, 2014

At LeanConf in Manchester last month, there was much talk of how one should apply Lean Startup principles and processes (with passion!), both in startups and in the enterprise, but less evidence of people actually doing it. With this in mind we&r...

Unboxed Roundup: our links for w/c 8th December 2014
December 12, 2014
Unboxed Roundup: our links for w/c 1st December 2014
December 5, 2014
Webinar: Getting to Beta
December 5, 2014

Richard Stobart held the final in the current Digital Leaders Webinar series on Wednesday titled ‘Getting to Beta: taking ‘stubborn’ products to beta in 8 weeks’. Topics covered included: Understanding Beta, knowing what you’re tr...

Unboxed Roundup: our links for w/c 24th November 2014
November 28, 2014
Webinar: Communication Ceremonies
November 24, 2014

Richard Stobart held the second instalment of our current Digital Webinar Series, titled: ‘Communication Ceremonies: why, what and how to communicate to increase the pace at early stage digital product development’. Topics covered include...

Unboxed Roundup: our links for w/c 17th November 2014
November 21, 2014
Event: What is there to know about outsourcing?
November 18, 2014

At our recent event, we discovered the ‘new rules’ of outsourcing. I opened the floor to our attendees, finding out what they really wanted to know about outsourced agile teams: When does outsourcing work really well? What are your to...

Unboxed Roundup: our links for w/c 10th November 2014
November 14, 2014
UBXDDEV Vol. 3.11
October 31, 2014
Event: Digital leaders discover the 'new rules' of outsourcing - Ag...
October 27, 2014

October saw our ‘New Rules of Outsourcing’ event take place at Skills Matter in Central London, to answer the question that was on all of our minds: 'What are the new rules of outsourcing?’ Unboxed Friends and Family, as wel...

UBXDDEV Vol. 3.10
October 24, 2014
Tactile agile for Introverts
October 22, 2014

I have been a part of Unboxed Consulting since it was just a twinkle in Richard’s eye. The times that I have been absent are directly related to family matters and there has never been a company that has attracted my attention enough to distract m...

UBXDDEV Vol. 3.9
October 17, 2014
Cognitive Bias, Product Management and you
October 13, 2014

Intro This all started for me sometime back in the late 90s. I was having a conversation with a friend that ran something like this: “I get evolution. I really do, I can see how it has worked by looking at the various species. What I don&rs...

UBXDDEV Vol. 3.8
October 10, 2014
Filling Gaps
October 10, 2014

We’re not big on job titles at Unboxed Consulting and if you have the smarts to get through the door you can pretty much grab any one that takes your fancy assuming there’s no reasonable resistance. I took “Head of Product” without m...

Diving Into the Front End
October 10, 2014

I recently completed my first stretch on a project as a front end developer here at Unboxed. In this article I’ll share some basic principles and tools that I’ve learnt about along the way with the help of Tom and Alex in particular. ...

UBXDDEV Vol. 3.7
October 3, 2014
Rapid UI prototyping and getting on the Rails
September 26, 2014

Having only been in my current position for ten months, there are many members of the Unboxed team I haven’t had the pleasure to work with yet, Chris (Crystal) Carter being one of them. When we both found ourselves “on the bench” a couple ...

UBXDDEV Vol. 3.6
September 26, 2014
UBXDDEV Vol. 3.5
September 19, 2014
Summer Unboxin' had me a blast
September 18, 2014

Charlie joined the Unboxed team in June as part of our summer internship programme, after completing his second year of studying Computer Science at the University of Aberdeen. Having spent the last three months as a member of the team, he is now...

UBXDDEV Vol. 3.4
September 12, 2014
The Outsourcing Dilemma
September 12, 2014

We asked 100 CIOs to give the first words that came into their head when they hear “outsourced development”. The top two? Fail Expensive This is predictable but problematic given that most organisations don’t have the full complement of the s...

People Matter Most!
September 9, 2014

I am not quite sure where it came from, but this is what I think happened….. One day someone in Falmouth was mulling over an SDLC exam question and thought: “I like people. I want other people to like and recognise people for what t...

UBXDDEV Vol. 3.3
September 5, 2014
Only fools rush in
September 2, 2014

We recently had an interesting discussion in the internal Unboxed interwebs room regarding an example of inheritance. Pawel put forth an example about how to guard against someone forgetting to call super in an inheritance chain. I jumped in to ...

UBXDDEV Vol. 3.2
August 29, 2014
UBXDDEV Vol3.1
August 22, 2014
The Agile LEGO village
August 12, 2014

Last week, a small team of us took part in the Introduction to Agile course, right here at Unboxed Consulting HQ. Alex Bobin, Charlie Egan, Paula Stepinska, Oskar Pearson and myself (Graeme McCubbin) all spent the day taking this internal versi...

Ten to the dev
August 8, 2014
Lean Machine
August 6, 2014

Lean Enterprise Over the last 8 weeks, Tom D and I (Chris) have been taking a break from our regular design and development day jobs. We joined forces with Toby, the product owner from Naturejobs, and Paul at Lean Mammoth to identify potentially ...

The dev o' nine tails
August 1, 2014
A Ruby-plated breakfast
July 31, 2014

July saw our CTO, Andrew White host the Ruby on Rails 4.2 networking breakfast, right here at Unboxed Consulting HQ. Members of the Ruby community attended this one-off session to hear what’s coming in Rails 4.2, straight from our very own Ruby o...

To have dev over the eight
July 25, 2014
The seven deadly devs
July 18, 2014
Six of one, half a dev of another
July 11, 2014
Workin' dev to five, what a way to make a livin'
July 4, 2014
Spread to the four corners of the dev
June 27, 2014
Three times a dev
June 20, 2014
You only dev twice
June 13, 2014
Is agile testing worth it?
June 13, 2014

It seems there is a lot of talk about agile testing circulating, but is it really worth it? Agile testing is a mindset. We all know mindsets can be a challenge to change, and this is no different. But what are the benefits of moving to an agile te...

jQuery UK 2014
June 7, 2014

Chris C, Veronika H and I attended jQuery’s 2014 conference in Oxford. Between the three of us, we could cover quite a lot of different talks that were available on the day. This blog post is just a slice of some of the talks we attended tha...

Dever say Dever again
June 3, 2014
dev_toolbox.pack()
May 20, 2014

Chris C and I recently attended a workshop at jQuery 2014 to learn more about a web developer’s toolbox, lead by Jordan Kasper. Predominantly this workshop taught us Grunt and the many plugins that exist. Grunt is a JavaScript task runner wh...

First steps with Cordova / PhoneGap
May 19, 2014

Fast and Native-Like Hybrid Applications with PhoneGap Here is a short summary of a really good workshop I went to. It was part of the JQuery 2014 Conference in Oxford. About the workshop The workshop was held by Christophe Coenraets, who used ...

Innovation days - developing in Meteor
April 23, 2014

Here at Unboxed, employees are given the opportunity to take innovation days: time allowing us to learn new and interesting things. I took this opportunity to complete my personal website - a photography portfolio that would display a subset of my...

The "r" in lean
April 22, 2014

Lean UC NYC 2014 was a jam-packed three days (four with the Balanced Team meetup) and there is no way I can accurately reflect what so many great speakers had to say but here are a few personal takeaways from day one. In general the focus for alm...

OpenSSL::SSL::SSLError: certificate verify failed
April 15, 2014

Sometimes you will inherit a ‘legacy system’. This particular system was running Ubuntu 8.04 LTS and Rails 2.3.18. Due to the recent Heartbleed security hole, the applications OAuth provider had updated their security certificates. This meant I wa...

Because Friday newsletters are overrated
March 10, 2014
The CAT experience
March 7, 2014

As a software tester within an agile environment I ascertained that it is not enough to reduce the project timeframes, discard the documentation and change the requirements document name for a project to be true agile. In order for an agile proj...

Haskell at the London Code Dojo
March 5, 2014

Sleepy Fox recently ran the London Code Dojo here at the Unboxed office. The evening’s Dojo was based around a few parts of Day 1 of the Haskell section of Seven languages in seven weeks. It was good fun and I recommend the next Dojo coming ...

Migrating data, games on the web platform, better calendars and act...
February 10, 2014
Native Chrome apps on mobile
February 6, 2014

At the end of January some big news passed quietly on the Chromium blog. Mobile Chrome apps can now be wrapped up using Cordova to deploy native applications to iOS and Android. Google seems to be pouring money into Chrome like it’s the cold war...

The most anticipated newsletter of the year
January 31, 2014
How dot voting can reveal the unexpected
January 31, 2014

While facilitating a stakeholder workshop recently, I ran two rounds of grouping and ordering. One I used dot voting, one didn’t. On reflection I was surprised with the results. The question asked during these processes following a pattern of, wh...

Happy New Year Unboxedians and commiserations on the ashes
January 10, 2014
The Devmas Newsletter
December 20, 2013
Why failure isn’t bad, as long as you learn
December 19, 2013

Failure is sometimes seen as a bad word. When you discuss this with people, you discover it carries baggage, often from an identifiable incident where their failure was criticised by someone of influence. They are right in some ways though that fa...

Bootstrap, skepticism and a git tool
December 6, 2013
The Not As Short As Some and Not Late At All One
November 29, 2013
Dev News for Friday
November 22, 2013
November Newsletter
November 15, 2013
The short and late one
November 11, 2013
Post Halloween Developer Newsletter - 4th October
November 4, 2013
How do you like them links?!
October 25, 2013
The blog post title!
October 18, 2013
The best dev newsletter you will read today
October 11, 2013
Developer Newsletter, 4th October
October 4, 2013
Dev Newsletter: 27th September
September 27, 2013
Developer Newsletter, 20th September
September 20, 2013
Programmers' day newsletter
September 13, 2013
Developer Newsletter, 6th September
September 6, 2013
On the 29th anniversary of Space Shuttle Discovery's maiden flight
August 30, 2013
Belated Newsletter
August 23, 2013
Dev Newsletter, 9th August
August 9, 2013
Undefined local variable or method 'title'
August 2, 2013
By George! A newsletter! What-ho!
July 26, 2013
Happy Ashes!
July 19, 2013
Must Read Dev Newsletter
July 12, 2013
Happy Friday!
July 5, 2013
All of the new shiny code
June 28, 2013
All this has happened before, and all this will happen again
June 21, 2013
Something wicked this way comes
June 17, 2013
Pre Summer Dev Newsletter (2 weeks to go)
June 7, 2013
The Week In Which Arrested Development Came Back
May 31, 2013
Dev Newsletter (Week 21, 2013)
May 24, 2013
Newsletter of Brevity
May 17, 2013
Max attempts for a single delayed_job Job
May 15, 2013

Delayed_job, the asynchronous priority queue system has a well documented configuration for setting the max number of attempts a worker will run for jobs in the queue: # config/initializers/delayed_job_config.rb Delayed::Job.destroy_failed_jobs...

It's life, Jim, but not as we know it
May 10, 2013
Agile metrics
May 10, 2013

I have been asked recently about what metrics we would use to measure an organisation’s key delivery metrics. Several PMOs are keen on metrics and measures - it gives them a reason to exist. When we deliver training or try to explain Agile...

The Week Preceding Early May Bank Holiday
May 3, 2013
Almost April's last newsletter
April 26, 2013
Dev Links
April 12, 2013
Two Months at Unboxed!
April 11, 2013

Tillie McCarthy During these last two months I have been doing a lot mainly involving assisting in pairing proposals, updating CV’s as part of our customer submissions and researching about marketing and sales agencies that are helpful to Unboxed...

Dev Newsletter for the week
April 2, 2013
[Insert your own punny title for the Developer newsletter here]
March 22, 2013
Daring Snowball
March 16, 2013
Rich Archer's talk at Cape Town Front End Developers
March 15, 2013

Near the end of last year, Bruce Lawson of Opera Software was in Cape Town for the Content Strategy Forum conference. A couple of Front End web developers got their heads together and organised a talk by Bruce while he was still in town. Since th...

National Apprenticeship Week
March 12, 2013

Tillie McCarthy I started as a Sales apprentice over three weeks ago. During these three weeks I’ve had many opportunities to learn new things, get involved with the team and gain new skills to help progress with my NVQ. The other apprentices and...

Five facilitation techniques for promoting Agile for government
March 12, 2013

Although private software developers have long been fans, Agile in the public sector is only just starting to gain momentum – and it’s proving well worth the effort. Here are five tips for running fun, productive workshops. National government ma...

Improve your week with this 1 weird old tip
March 8, 2013
This week's developer newsletter - cats, conferences, and cascading...
March 1, 2013
Five Cardinal Sins of Agile that the public sector can learn from
February 28, 2013

Agile for government can be a very different kettle of fish than Agile in the private sector. It’s an alien context, it’s resistant to change and it’s used to playing by different rules. All the same, Agile offers fantastic opportunities for gover...

SA UX Forum: Mobile UX
February 28, 2013

Last night in Cape Town, Phil Barrett of Flow and Simon Dingle of 22seven gave short talks about mobile UX for the SA UX Forum. Myself, Rich, Pawel, Joerg, and Seb (visiting from our London office) were there to soak up some knowledge and chat abo...

This week's dev newsletter
February 22, 2013
New Apprentices - Luke & Ben
February 21, 2013

We are both very pleased to have received a place at Unboxed Consulting in our roles as Junior Testers. The role focuses strongly on IT and we are both very much looking forward to improving our IT skills. We see Unboxed Consulting as a great way ...

New Apprentice - Shirin
February 21, 2013

In January 2013 I began a pre-apprenticeship programme with Middleton Murray where I was trained for 4 weeks, completing a BTEC in Customer Service and Work Skills, Whilst being at Middleton Murray I have met some inspirational people as well as n...

New Apprentices - Abbie & Tillie
February 21, 2013

We started Unboxed on 18th February 2013, Abbie as a marketing apprentice and Tillie as a sales apprentice. We are very excited about getting involved with the company and progressing throughout our one year placement. We were in MiddletonMurray&r...

Open Device Lab in Cape Town
February 20, 2013

The web is going everywhere and anywhere it can, and the devices that people consume it on are very varied: from tiny Nokia feature phones to the latest iPad. As web developers, we want to make sure that our sites look and work great everywhere. T...

Five myths about SMEs and public sector procurement
February 18, 2013

Far from being a bad fit for the public sector, SMEs hold the key to key to innovation and can bring jaw-dropping cost savings. Civil servants have often been wary about working with smaller companies, especially when it comes to high-profile are...

There's something in the woodshed
February 8, 2013
Three common misconceptions about Agile in the public sector
February 6, 2013

Agile methodology has its enthusiastic followers in the private sector, but many civil servants are wary about adopting it in the context of government software development and other public sector procurement – usually without good cause. Whilst ...

A New Hope
February 1, 2013
Short and sweet
January 25, 2013
Apps, games and some serious business
January 21, 2013
Happy 2013 Dev Newletter
January 11, 2013
Post-end-of-the-world newsletter - yay we're still here
December 21, 2012
This week's Dev Newsletter
December 17, 2012
HTML5 validation that does not hurt
December 10, 2012

I’m sure probably most of you have used the W3C Validator at some point in the past. Validating markup is quite a standard procedure. In case you want to automate your validation like we do and integrate it into your test suite, our Be Vali...

Cucumbers, Missed High Fives, Dancing Hungarians and more...
December 7, 2012
This week: Faster Rails tests, Interactive Video, Lovely Interface...
November 30, 2012
Installing Sphinx 0.9 on Mountain Lion using Homebrew
November 26, 2012

Here at Unboxed we often need to support older, legacy software. Keeping legacy software in a working condition while development platforms evolve could be sometimes tough. Most Rails applications in the past have been making use of Sphinx’...

Return Of The ActiveSupport method of the week (Mark Morrison style)
November 23, 2012
New version of Rails, a new patch level of Ruby 1.9.3 and kittens, ...
November 16, 2012
The week with no ActiveSupport favourite method
November 9, 2012
Dev Newsletter: 2 November 2012
November 2, 2012
Agile Newsletter - 30 Oct
October 30, 2012
The Week of the JavaScript take over
October 26, 2012
Making JavaScript testing in the browser not suck with Sinon.js (Pa...
October 22, 2012

This is the continuation of my post on Sinon.js, the first part can be found here blog/making-javascript-testing-in-the-browser-not-suck-with-sinon-js-part-1. I’m going to describe the basic usage of Sinon’s mocks, spies, and stubs. ...

This Week in Ruby, 19th October
October 19, 2012
Prioritising production bugs
October 12, 2012

Everything is jogging along swimmingly in the real world, orders coming in thick and fast, the business is booming. World-wide recession, hah! In the development bullpen, velocity is faster than a speeding bullet, they’re playing office boul...

October is all about speed
October 12, 2012
What 5th October says
October 5, 2012
Newsletter, 1st October
October 1, 2012
RSpec Sitemap matchers for your SEO goodness
September 28, 2012

Not that long ago we released our new website at Unboxed. We took the time to carefully think about how our new site was going to be structured, how our URIs were going to look. We introduced new pages and deprecated or merged others. Needless to...

Boomboxed
September 21, 2012
When Carlo was in Blighty's Land
September 14, 2012
The squish of the week
September 7, 2012
This weeks round up
August 31, 2012
The week that almost didn't happen
August 24, 2012
One Month and Eight Arms: Starting at Unboxed Consulting and Launch...
August 21, 2012

Karlis, Shaban, Stefan and myself (Tom) have been taken on as part of Unboxed Consulting’s third internship programme. During our first few weeks we were given an introduction to Agile and Ruby on Rails. The first week of training involved Agile ...

Investigating a CMS Toolset
August 16, 2012

Here at Unboxed, we’re constantly building content management systems. As the web becomes more dynamic and user-driven, it’s important to provide the necessary tools for clients to control content on their sites. One of our ambitions ...

The Week That Went Better Than The Last
August 9, 2012
The Week In Bitesize Chunks
July 26, 2012
Newsletter
July 19, 2012
Can You Digg It
July 12, 2012
Better Late Than Never
July 8, 2012
This Week In Dev
June 28, 2012
The Week In Dev
June 21, 2012
The Week The Newsletter Almost Became Purple
June 14, 2012
Making JavaScript testing in the browser not suck with Sinon.js (Pa...
June 12, 2012

Writing tests for JavaScript is tough and often overlooked. I’m going to show you how to make it easier to write them with an awesome library called Sinon.js. Getting started There are several mature testing frameworks out there. I have my...

News News News
June 7, 2012
News Of The Week
May 31, 2012
The Week Of Winning
May 24, 2012
The Week That Was
May 17, 2012
The Week In Links
May 10, 2012
Code maintainability - is it a test thing?
April 25, 2012

It has come to my attention of late that there is some clear separation in the testing world about how we write our tests and the level they are written at.  In this separation I see 2 groups of people: - The first group enjoy testing thei...

Tackling the unknown with subdivision
April 13, 2012

I discovered Travis CI the other day. It’s a distributed platform providing web-based continuous integration for your projects. Erm… right? In simpler terms; Travis tests your projects against a wide variety of setups. It monito...

Gemnastics with ActiveRecord
March 11, 2012

Recently, I’ve been building gems in an attempt to get some content out into the open-source community and learn a thing or two along the way. There was one in particular that gave rise to some interesting challenges. The bulk of the gem ...

How do I make my Agile Team more self-organising?
March 2, 2012

@sleepyfox asks: “I’m having trouble with my Agile team, how do I make them more self-organising?” Dear sleepyfox, You will struggle to “make” a self organising Team due to the very nature of the dynamic- how...

Agile Answers
February 22, 2012

About a week ago, I was chatting to one of my friends about his new job. He seemed to be happy, he has a great Team, a friendly and supportive manager, a nice office - overall he was very positive, with the exception of one little niggle. When he ...

Forcing Facebook to Update Your Site's Metadata
February 15, 2012

Recently we launched a new site for one of our customers: http://www.thiswaytoamazing.com/ Up until the launch date we had been re-directing the URL to a different site. The only problem was that the page had a ‘like’ button on it, a...

Scrum not only in projects
December 5, 2011

When you work for one of London’s leading Agile companies it is hard not to get inspired by the scrum processes. Inspired or brainwashed your choice, but I adopted some of the scrum processes when I was the Office Manager. To have daily sta...

Monetising mobile apps
September 18, 2011

When Apple launched the iPhone in 2007, Steve Jobs said ‘every once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything’. The industry shifted but when Apple opened up the iOS software development kit (SDK) to third...

XPath and escaping a comma
August 30, 2011

For those of you looking for the answer to how to escape a comma in an XPath text match, I’m sorry but I just don’t know it. But if you are using Capybara, have no fear, there is a way round. It was Friday afternoon and I was cleaning...

Using baselines for effective planning
August 21, 2011

I remember my first planning game well. I was very excited. Someone had just mentioned the need for a good bassline and I was about to jump up doing some serious air guitar to Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water, “man this is going to blo...

Mobilising your brand - mobile web vs native apps
July 4, 2011

Smart phones and tablets are changing the way that consumers interact with brands. No longer is it just an online web experience at the office or at home, but now consumers are making purchases, travel arrangements, checking bank statements and ex...

Pivotal Tracker Workflow
June 24, 2011

We use Pivotal Tracker quite a lot these days and I was looking around on the web for a quick image of the Pivotal Tracker Workflow.  I didn’t find much so I did a quick drawing which I thought I would share.  I might put this into...

Dealing with a moving target
May 13, 2011

We recently launched our first Social Media game, www.pinmeifyoucan.com - for Contiki. It’s a Google maps integration with YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. It was a challenging project on tight timescales which presented some unique problems ...

Icon or Ican't be bothered.
April 28, 2011

Picture the scene. You’ve designed and built an iPhone app. You’ve put your heart and soul into it. Years of experience have finally come to fruition; all your imagination, moxie, know-how and learning from computer science or graphic ...

I'm a ScrumMaster. Huh?
April 15, 2011

  My wife and I had a friend over for dinner last night and during conversation she asked me what it is I do. I replied that I work for a software consultancy and I’m a QA and ScrumMaster. ‘Huh?’ was the reply I got. I kno...

Kanban in the Cape - Part 2
March 23, 2011

In Part One of this blog I discussed how we set up the kanban board and the process we used to try out kanban for the first time on our own internal Timesheets application. Here is what we learned about the process. The first thing I learned, as ...

Steak vs Cucumber as BDD tools
March 13, 2011

When I joined the world of Ruby on Rails development and testing I was quite happy with all the tools and testing frameworks available, I was using a lot of them during development process. Words like Rspec and Cucumber quickly became part of my v...

Kanban in the Cape - Part 1
March 9, 2011

After reading the book ‘Kanban and Scrum - Making the most of both’ (Henrik Kniberg & Mattias Skarin, 2010), I was quite eager to give Kanban a try on a project. All I needed was a project that had fantastic clients that understand...

Production Issues and 3rd Line Support Processes
February 25, 2011

Another perfect release- this is what it’s all about, now time to kick back, cocktail in hand, bathing in the glorious glow of heaped praise as stakeholder after stakeholder thank Goldilocks and the Three Bears for managing to translate thei...

Agile Tools for the Support Team
February 25, 2011

In an ideal world there won’t be any problems in production. In an ideal world there’s a great soundtrack playing while the dev team, PMO and the business high-five one another in slow-mo.  If you’re talking about a complex ...

Git rebase
February 17, 2011

Many people new to git wonder: “what is rebasing?” and “why would I use rebase?”. Following is my attempt at an answer to those questions. Git lets you easily mess around with branches. A branch is just a set of commits wi...

Are you victim of Stockholm syndrome?
February 11, 2011

I recently listened to a podcast called ‘Developers Life’ where a couple of developers and project managers talked about some rotton projects they’d worked on and how it’s sometimes hard to get perspective and realise that ...

And now we come to the end of RubyFuza.. now
February 10, 2011

You might be wondering what’s up with the strange title. It’s just one of those conference things – you come to the end of a conference and you are on a “conference high” and cant stop reminiscing about what went on...

Has the future turned out the way it was supposed to?
January 19, 2011

Here at Unboxed, we’ve recently received delivery of a brand new lava lamp - the novelty lights that are filled with lurid oils that hypnotically swirl around. Today, it seems to me that the lava lamp’s retro styling makes them an ob...

A thought on pair programming
January 18, 2011

When discussing pair programming, I have never heard the following point of view. So I’ll just shoot and cover. Let me introduce it with an example. Imagine for a second that you have an appointment at a location you’ve never been bef...

Happiness and motivation
January 12, 2011

It’s 7 month since I joined the ubxd crowd and I think it has been the most productive 7 month in my life. I asked my self why. What drives me, challenges or motivates me ? I think that you have already heard about companies like Zappos, Gor...

TechHub and Silicon Roundabout
December 21, 2010

Yesterday, I posted a message on twitter. It went like this: “TechHub is currently just a PR company producing misleading press releases. The idea they represent Silicon Roundabout is wrong.” I thought quite hard about this short u...

Web De-What?! (1 Part Graphic Design to 2 Parts User-Interface Desi...
December 7, 2010

Why is it that some things can look incredibly beautiful, but quickly lose it the moment you start interacting with them? Nope, I’m not talking about an old flame I met down the local discotheque: I’m referring to Website Design. Why ...

Scrum-ban aka common sense in Agile
December 1, 2010

Not long ago I saw a presentation about Scrum and kanban and the differences between them. At the end of the presentation the presenters were suggesting that we should take from both these methodologies. This new mixed methodology could be called ...

Shonky Internet - Cowboy Builders and the Online Gold Rush
December 1, 2010

When I bite into my apple, I don’t expect a cheeky worm to be wriggling around inside. I don’t expect the wheels to fall off my speeding bicycle, I don’t like it when shoes fall apart on the first wear, and I hate when my parachu...

Not so cool as cucumber
November 22, 2010

The problem There’s just one tiny validation to add to a user model. The impact on the application code is small whereas the impact on the test code is enormous. The change takes a day to implement. The context A large code base, Rails 2....

On Feedback Loops and Agile
November 19, 2010

I was talking to Matt Frank the other day and he mentioned something important - agile is all about feedback loops. I’ve been thinking and reading over this concept for a while now and I’ve come to the conclusion that feedback loops ar...

The problem with software
November 18, 2010

It is well known that about 50 years ago the first real computer programs started crawling out of the oceans… Even with all the improvements and accumulated knowledge that we have nowadays in our computer-based civilization, users have been...

five.tv a.k.a project Cape Town
November 17, 2010

The desire for a site re-design together with the difficulty of editing existing content prompted Channel 5 to commission a rebuild of their main website and a consolidation of their catch up service Demand 5 with the new site. Development kicked ...

How does agile development fit with budgets and financial controls?
November 16, 2010

For the last 12 months I have been immersed in an agile development environment which really follows the agile mantra, e.g. stand ups, pair programming, test driven development, 2 week iterations, retrospectives, refactoring, and the development w...

Categorising Workarounds
November 15, 2010

You’ve just done a new release. The Sales team find when they take a new customer’s details and hit ‘save’ they don’t end up on the place new order page, so they can’t make a sale! Which means they can’t g...

Don't let the Train make you Strain
November 12, 2010

On Monday I was standing on a packed train looking out at a platform full of glum people expecting to be able to get on the train. No chance! At least I am slowly heading in the right direction unlike those poor people standing on a cold and wet p...

Pair programming with your mind
November 10, 2010

My last post was about pair programming. Recently I start working on a small project where I can’t pair with anyone. So I started thinking  “what could I use from pairing even When I’m not ? ”. My first thought was to...

In White Space... No One Can Hear You Scream!
November 8, 2010

 “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Leonardo Da Vinci On my travels through cyberspace this week I hit upon this spooky website…  http://yvettesbridalformal.com/ It reminded me of a serious and consistent ...

A dev's point of view - agile helps focus.
November 4, 2010

Forget Pro-Plus or extra strong coffees, you don’t need this or a trip down to Spec-Savers to help keep focus.  The answer is agile. I’m not going to speak for other devs, but I have a seriously overactive mind.  Just as I g...

Agile and Angry Birds
October 25, 2010

I have recently converted to iphone (‘about time’ I hear you say) and with that comes the many recommendations on apps. It was on a recent road trip with the family after the 100th ‘are we nearly there yet?’ that I succumbe...

Waterfall Syndrome
October 21, 2010

Is there a disease called Waterfall Syndrome? I personally think we can see it taking hold in a number of large organisations. Companies should start to recognise it and help those who are suffering with the symptoms. I am sure that if we carried ...

7 reasons why pair programming works
October 18, 2010

I was wondering why a lot of people still don’t want to pair program. So I wrote down my most important reasons why you should pair program. Btw if you don’t know what pair programming is, here is the explanation. Faster learning - if...

New version of Planning Poker for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad
October 15, 2010

We have just released a new version of our Planning Poker application for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. It wont cost you a penny as it is free. Planning Poker is an estimation tool used in the Agile methodology. Rather than asking a single dev...

y Cuke?
October 11, 2010

We, the interns (Lawrence, Raunak and Andrew) have been here at Unboxed Consulting now for a little over 3 months. As a little introduction to ourselves and what we have learned, we felt a short blog article about our experience would be fitting. ...

Newsletter - October 2010
October 6, 2010

We are heading into winter again already - where has the time gone?  We are all too often so busy with the day to day that we don’t find time to touch base with friends and colleagues of projects past (and hopefully projects future). So...

Unit testing on the iPhone
October 5, 2010

Developing for the iPhone can be quite fun. You get very mature frameworks to work with that do an extensive use of design patterns and you also get a fancy an highly tuned platform to play with. But there’s something I’m missing from...

Our Applications on the Apple App Store
October 4, 2010

AKA: Shameless Plug II. At Unboxed Consulting we have now been developing iPhone applications for 2 years. There is another post by Borja telling you the story about one of them. That was about an Enterprise application for a client. But we ...

Shameless Plug
September 29, 2010

When it comes to marketing your company, sometimes the same old-school avenues and techniques to achieve commercial success seem a bit tired and gauche within an increasingly savvy (and dare I say cynical) industry. So why not take a small risk an...

Road Trip
September 28, 2010

At Unboxed we also build iPhone applications. Our largest project so far has been inTouch, an application for a medical products sales company based in the US…This is the story of two men that crossed the pond with a mission; Attend the Cus...

Fix your broken window!
September 22, 2010

As a programmer working with other programmers, I’m usually contributing to an already existing code base and basically just adding new functions or extending their functionality. Because I’m a person who could be influenced by others&...

One Week Iterations Rock
September 15, 2010

Stuck in a project where every iteration fails to deliver? Where every retrospective is a nightmare? Where every show and tell is a verbal cat o’ nine tails session? Where you’re a gibbering wreck yearning for a stronger prescription? ...

Plenty more fish in the sea...
September 10, 2010

It dawned on me this week that sometimes seeking out new business can be a bit like asking out a girl out on a hot date! Cold sweats, nervous shivers, butterflies in the stomach; a total nightmare… right?! This week I went along to the fre...

What car is your website?
September 6, 2010

I was driving the family back from Lucca in Tuscany to catch our flight from Genova when a thought struck me. Car manufacturers segment their markets looking for large niches.  Large enough to attract enough customers worldwide but unique eno...

I'm not working
August 20, 2010

Yes that’s right, despite the fact that I’m employed by Unboxed I’m not working anymore. I’m going to work every day, programming some stuff but it’s not work for me anymore. Really. I have had this feeling since I s...

IRB completion from the debugger
August 18, 2010

The default IRB completion code that ships with Ruby does not work well when being invoked from the debugger prompt: >: ruby /test_script.rb [-2, 7] in /test_script.rb 1 require 'ruby-debug' 2 debugger => 3 :foo /test_script.rb:3 :foo (...

Which JS Unit Testing Framework?
August 13, 2010

As a ruby developer I’m used to using testing frameworks like Rspec or Cucumber. I started polishing an old project of mine recently, which is written in Ruby/js and using Sinatra. When I looked at the code I noticed that there is a lot of J...

Appetite for Agile
August 13, 2010

This week I’ve been musing over the most expensive, and delayed record in music history, the (sort of) Guns n’ Roses album Chinese Democracy. ‘Sort of’ because it’s not really Gn’R at all, it’s the band&r...

The abominable Rails 3 snowman doesn't like Rack-Test
August 10, 2010

I recently started a Rails 3 application to see how things are done in the new version, and also to take an opportunity to try Mongoid. After all, Rails now plays nicely with any library that implements ActiveModel.   The application i...

A++ code review
July 31, 2010

We have had a code review carried out on one of the projects we are currently working on, channel5.com, by an external party.  Xavier Noria has looked at the code and has given us a glowing report which Channel 5 are very happy with.&nbs...

Announcing: Tabnav
July 30, 2010

I’ve just released a new gem called Tabnav. It’s a Rails helper for generating navbars. It allows you to specify highlighting rules for each nav item in a clean way without lots of conditionals in your views. It is loosely based on th...

Wikileaks war logs on rails
July 27, 2010

I assume that everybody has now heard about the wikileaks war logs leak. I thought this was a nice opportunity to hack together a Rails app that contains the data that was leaked. Hopefully this will be a good resource for people to play around bo...

Hacking Safari’s auto-complete feature
July 26, 2010

The recently released update to Safari (version 5.0.1) seems to fix the security issue described below. Jeremiah Grossman points out a serious security issue that he recently found in Safari. You probably know about Safari’s autocompletion...

Scrum in the Deep End
July 25, 2010

As a new employee of Unboxed, and being new to scrum, I thought I would tell you about my 3 month experience as a ScrumMaster thus far. Thanks to Unboxed, I have been thrown into the deep end of the world of agile, London culture, fine whiskey, an...

Recipe for a Cape Town office
June 9, 2010

Search for office space from the Waterfront to Muizenberg and settle on a great and gorgeously located building in Constantia close to some superb vineyards, the names of which are a challenge (for some) to pronounce. Uitsig anyone? Tear do...

Cucumber + iPhone = iCuke
May 31, 2010

Ever wish you could write Cucumber stories for iPhone applications the way you do for web apps? Well now you can, thanks to Unboxed’s iCuke. iCuke allows you to write integration tests for your iPhone applications without changing your exis...

CSS id and class naming
May 30, 2010

I’m a developer, I like structure, I like clean code, I like DRY code. I find writing CSS incredibly painful. CSS1 was first published in December 1996, so I ask, why in 2010 does it feel like CSS is just as painful as it was 14 years ago? ...

The Good Years
April 30, 2010

We’ve turned 5!   The last five years have really flown by but I couldn’t let our fifth birthday go past without a bit of reflection!! We are in a really fantastic place as a company and I’ve got a lot of pride when I look b...

We open our office in Cape Town
April 27, 2010

This hit the newswires this week: Unboxed Consulting Continues Global Expansion Into South Africa - A Record-breaking year drives global expansion plans… Unboxed Consulting, a leading agile consulting and web development consult...

Pair Programming - Luxury or Necessity?
April 25, 2010

I was recently contacted for advice on how to justify utilising pair programming on a project, as the client was very nervous about the benefits and was seeking some reassurances. It raised all sorts of questions, which I checked against my previo...

Agile in Enterprise
April 14, 2010

Our very own Richard Stobart has added to the Agile v Waterfall debate, captured in Information Age. Richard was an expert witness in the recent BSkyB and EDS battle. You can read the whole article here: http://ow.ly/1pqkR We’d love to know ...

The curious incident of the named scope and the non-existent array
November 23, 2009

Rails performance tuning is often a matter of SQL tuning but we recently stumbled upon code involving a named scope that caused more SQL to run than expected. We were looking at an SQL trace in New Relic RPM for one of our apps when Nige and myse...

Businesses are agile already - IT just doesn't look very hard to fi...
November 3, 2009

Lying awake in bed last night I was thinking why IT organisations find it difficult to implement Agile techniques. My initial thoughts were that the business owners are always pushing back on it and not seeing the benefits. Why are IT organisation...

Less is More
October 22, 2009

At Unboxed we are continuously checking the latest tools which enhance Rails application development. Being a front-end specialist I am always keen on different approaches which make front-end development easier and more enjoyable. In recent year...

What do WAGs, Dutch "total" football, and Agile have to teach us ab...
September 16, 2009

I have to confess I have played team sports all my life, especially football with a somewhat unlikely claim to fame of having played the game in Papua New Guinea and watched by the country’s Prime Minister! I have some experience of playing ...

Agile is just another way of saying – let’s use common sense!
July 23, 2009

I don’t know about you, but I struggle to understand the nuances of the varying flavours of Agile that fly around and, at times, the purist adherence to one particular dogma, be that Scrum, Agile, XP, Lean, etc. To me it is all about taking ...

A Brand Spanking New Website!
July 19, 2009

Unboxed Consulting is a forward-thinking, innovative bunch of people with fresh modern ideas and unwavering professionalism on everything from building great websites and IT applications to making world-class cups of coffee! Needless to say, a com...