For the past few months I’ve been working at zeebox on a new app for iPad that is genuinely one of the coolest products I’ve come across recently.. and so it has been an absolute pleasure having the opportunity to build it! I’ve been largely working on the social aspects of the app, e.g. Twitter integration, Facebook authentication, and the chat system, which is brilliant as this combines my two favourite spheres of software development: mobile and social.

Basically, zeebox acts as a glorified TV guide with social elements. You can see what your friends are watching ,chat with them about shows, invite them to watch with you and various other things. Despite a huge amount of work going into it, the app is still pretty nascent and it’s clear that it will improve dramatically over time, as long as people within the company continue to dream up more great ideas (this hasn’t been a problem thus far!).

There have been 4 of us working on the iPad app, but naturally there’s also a great team of engineers building the back-end services that tie the whole thing together. iPhone, and Android versions of the app are to follow. Check it out!

Leave A Comment, Written on October 28th, 2011 , Agile, All, Dev & Test, Mobile, Social Software, Tech

This was definitely one of the best shows I’ve been to this year. It got off to a slow start, but things really kicked off when Metronomy launched into Love Underlined and the Royal Albert Hall’s Incredible lighting system induced an effect that half had me believe that a spaceship had just cracked off the roof of the building. I think I actually shed a tear as the bass ripped through the venue.

Before long everyone was on their feet and proper loving it. Yay.

Leave A Comment, Written on October 4th, 2011 , Random

After a fair bit of wrangling, it’s finally come together. We’ve partnered with MTV and the Staying Alive Foundation to rebrand iCondom as the MTV iCondom, with a grand portion of proceeds going towards the Staying Alive Foundation, a sexual health charity. MTV will be broadcasting adverts across their worldwide network and ads have been produced in several different languages. See the English-language ad here.

We’re also looking for further partners to help update and maintain our ever-growing database of locations, so please get in touch if this is of interest!

Leave A Comment, Written on August 2nd, 2011 , Dev & Test, Mobile, Tech

I came across this while cycling home the other night:

A “public urinal..” possibly the most public urinal ever. And it’s functional:


Leave A Comment, Written on July 15th, 2011 , Random

Another raaza app in the wild. This one is US Flu Fighter, which is basically a mashup of various different CDC feeds with Facebook and Twitter in an iOS native app. It’s another one with a Ruby on Rails web services back end, which I’m finding increasingly handy for quickly building such back ends. I used the CorePlot framework to draw the graphs, which was a pleasure to use once i got familiar with it. US Flu Fighter has been submitted to the CDC’s Flu App Challenge so please go ahead and give it a vote.

Leave A Comment, Written on June 3rd, 2011 , Dev & Test, Mobile, Social Software, Tech

This is year two for the Addicted to Ibiza Island Guide, a location-based listings app for the Ibiza party crowd. It includes event listings, a club guide, maps, DJ mixes and more.

The back end for this one was built in Java using largely the same components as last year, i.e. Struts 2, Spring, Hibernate, Freemarker and JAXB. If I had to do it again I would probably build it on Ruby on Rails, simply for the increased speed at which the solution could be delivered.

It’ll be available until December this year and then taken out of the store in anticipation of next years guide. :-)

You can learn more about it on the Addicted to Ibiza blog, and don’t forget to like the Addicted to Ibiza fan page on Facebook to hear all the atest Ibiza news… 250,000 members and going strong.

Leave A Comment, Written on April 24th, 2011 , Dev & Test, Mobile, Social Software, Tech


The latest app from raaza, UK Terror Alert, has just gone live in the iPhone App Store. This is another Ruby-on-Rails backed app that feeds data sourced from the UK Home Office and the MI5 Secret Service into native app format. This was the first time I’ve used Apple push notifications in an iOS app and it was a bit of a trying process getting an APN server up and running on top of RoR.

As for the basics, with UK Terror Alert you can:

  • see the latest alert levels for international and Ireland-related terrorism
  • receive push notifications whenever the alert levels change
  • view a history of all alert level changes
  • get practical advice on how to mitigate the effects of terrorism
  • share this info on Facebook and Twitter.

For more info, visit the website:

Leave A Comment, Written on January 20th, 2011 , Dev & Test, Mobile, Social Software, Tech

Proper cooking is fantastic, but sometimes all you want is a hassle free nibble to tide you over to your next feed. There are, of course, many fresh and delicious light bites that you can whip up yourself from scratch, but every once in a while you just want something you can grab and devour without a second thought. This post is all about just this kind of grazing food- my favourite easy-access snacks.

fooddoctor1. Food Doctor Dry Roasted Bean Mix

Discovering this bean mix was a complete revelation for me. This product is a melange of soya, black and broad beans with some dried peas thrown in for good measure and it is absolutely delicious! It’s also one seriously nutritious snack, chock full of protein and only lightly salted. It contains 35 grams of protein per 100 gram portion– that’s almost as much as beef by weight. I scarf through at least one jar of this stuff a week.

tyrells2. Tyrells Habas Fritas

This treat is lightly spiced and very morish. These do have some added sugar and salt, but they manage to straddle that fine line between sweet and savoury with finesse. Basically, this snack is broad beans lightly fried and coated in seasoned breadcrumbs. Good for an occasional graze.

peppadew3. Peppadew Peppers with Cream Cheese

Spicy food really works for me. I love strong, bold flavours and this product has it in spades. Peppedew peppers are great on their own– that sweet, fiery flavour is seriously toothsome– but paired with cooling cream cheese they make for a really great snack. I enjoy these as a lunch-time side dish, though at around £4 – £5 a jar I don’t have them quite as frequently as I’d like.

plantain4. Waitrose Plantain Crisps with Chili and Lime

I love plantains, but they can be a little bland if served with out a zing of this or that. Some added spice really does go a long way to jazz up what can otherwise can be a rather bland snack, and this is certainly true of this Waitrose creation. The combination of chilli and lime thrown on these plantains is superb, and they really pack a punch. Treat your tastebuds to a great time with these hot little bad boys.

crespo5. Crespo Pitted Dry Black Olives

I’m a big olive lover, and these are my absolute favourite. It must be said that these are just standard supermarket fodder, and not at all like the high-end, brightly packaged fresh olives that can be found in the chiller section such as those from Unearthed. No, these are simple, back-to-basics olives that are great to munch on any time of day. And they’re cheap– only about £1.40, depending on where you shop. I’ve sampled pretty much all the olive brands available at Sainsburys and Waitrose, and I always return to these.

Feel free to add your own recommendations in the comments.

Leave A Comment, Written on November 28th, 2010 , All, Food

Postcode Envy Logo

Postcode Envy for iPhone has just gone live in the iPhone App Store. I really enjoyed doing this app as everything from design to development was under my own control. With the app, you can:

  • See house prices for postcodes in England and Wales.
  • View area ratings for these postcodes.
  • Compare average house prices across postcodes.

There are a number of ways to get the skinny on a postcode. You can look up postcode data for:

  • Your current location.
  • A postcode you choose.
  • A random postcode.

FYI the app only provides house price data for England and Wales.

As with the iCondom, I did the backend of this app in Ruby on Rails with JSON for transport. I’m finding the combination of Rails + ActiveScaffold + ObjectiveResource to be the fastest way to get apps of this sort up and running, much faster than any of the frameworks and tools I’ve tried for PHP and Java.

Have a closer look at Postcode Envy here.

Leave A Comment, Written on November 12th, 2010 , All, Mobile, Tech


Here it is– my 6 favourite restaurants in East London, saving the best for last. Why 6? Only for the simple reason that I couldn’t seem to narrow it down to just 5.

6. Boho Mexica

I love Mexican food and over the past few years many Mexican joints have opened in London, whereas there were very few when I first arrived 7 years ago. I’ve tried pretty much all the Mexican places in the east-end and this is definitely the best, a cut above Red & Green or Loco Mojito. The emphasis is on street food and sharing plates, with most of the plates being small and coming in at the £3 or £4 mark. It is certainly possible to have a very cheap meal and a lot of fun here! The decor is lively and colourful, definitely not the Mexican kitsch common at many other places.

5. Albion

Albion is all about simple, honest British cooking. The menu is not exotic and some might say a little bland, but the quality of ingredients is great and the food is very well prepared. The restaurant itself is also quite handsome. Stools at the counter are topped by red metal tractor seats. Tea comes served in teapots adorned by wool tea cosies. Coffee comes in tall, handsome metal pots. Service can be patchy and seems to be constantly changing, but I love this place all the same. It’s a regular work-day hangout for me.

4. Bistrotheque

This resto offers a great pan-European menu and operates out of a very cool converted warehouse space. The menu offers a selection of dishes from across Europe, some simple, some a little more racy, and all very delicious. Bistrotheque also has a separate bar and a small cabaret space, and the shows tend to be highly entertaining. Bookings are sometimes necessary for the shows and remember that groups, hen parties and anything of that ilk and strictly barred.

3. Tayyabs

The best South Asian food in London. This Pakistani-run joint has been on the scene for decades and has an extremely loyal following. The food is a world away from the tripe available on Brick Lane, but Tayyabs is only a 5 minute walk down the street! Tayyabs is best known for it’s grilled meats but I also love the curries. My favourite dishes are their delicious saag paneer, fish tikka, daal gosht and chicken karahi. Samosas are one sour note– not recommended. I get a take-away meal from here at least once a week.

2. Hawksmoor

If you believe TimeOut, this is the best steakhouse in London and I certainly agree.. it’s a far cry better than Gaucho despite many in London raving about the Argentinian steakhouse stalwart. Hawksmoor serves only beef from British Longhorn cattle and the cuts are massive, ranging from around 800 grams up into kilos. Don’t worry, there’s also a 300 gram fillet on at £30 if that’s more to your taste. Cocktails are also delicious here– my favourite is the cinnamon old fashioned. Booking are essential and call at least a month in advance for a weekend reservation.


1. Les Trois Garcons

My favourite East End restaurant has got to be Les Trois Garcons. When you’re in the mood for a spot of fine dining, this is definitely the place to hit in the East End. Run by the same 3 boys who own LoungeLover, this place features some seriously eclectic decor and a very creative French menu. Dozens of handbags hang from the ceiling while bust of deer and other game sport earrings and necklaces on the walls. Service is attentive, if a bit formal. All of this comes at a price so Les Trois is best saved for when feeling flush, though if you eat Monday – Wednesday they do a good Prix Fixe menu at a reasonable price.

Honourable mention: Sundays @ Truman Brewery

One of the most fun experiences to be had in the east end is hanging out in the parking lot behind the Truman Brewery on sunny summer Sundays. During the warmer months, picnic benches are set out for use by, well, anyone. If the benches are full, the crowds improvise by sitting on the astroturf thrown down everywhere. People tend to congregate, drink and eat all day long from these benches and it is always a riot, with music playing and a constant stream of interesting characters parading through. As for the food! Well there are about a million stalls to choose from, ranging from Japanese to Brazilian to Moroccan. It’s not exactly fine dining, but the atmosphere and great selection of food certainly make it worth a trip.

I should also point out that I haven’t yet been to Nuno Mendes new joint, Viajante, but I suspect this place could knock Les Trois off the top spot!

Leave A Comment, Written on October 5th, 2010 , All, Food is proudly powered by WordPress and the Theme Adventure by Eric Schwarz
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