Atchai blog

Creating a Simple Slack Bot with Botkit.js and Hosting It For Free

Posted 30 Jun 2016 (5 minute read)

From Development to Deployment as a Custom Integration Recently I decided to build a Slack bot to keep track of links and host it using BeepBoop — a new hosting service designed specifically for chat bots. Fortunately Beepboop has created a nice library that integrates with Botkit, making it easier than ever to develop simple chat bots and deploy them on cloud hosting. Currently only Slack and Facebook Messenger are supported, but I expect that more platforms will be added.

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Is Your Start-up Idea Really Worth It?

Posted 31 May 2016 (16 minute read)

How To Evaluate A New Digital Product Business You’re in love with your idea, but love is blind. I’m here to provide a friendly slap around the face and to tell you what everyone else is afraid to, before the honeymoon is over and you find yourself slumped on the sofa watching box sets and eating ice-cream straight from the tub, alone. I often get asked the same questions by people who are working on their first start-up.

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In Search of the Perfect Music Dataset

Posted 3 May 2016 (6 minute read)

In this article I review and compare the best freely available music datasets and APIs. How did I get into this? Recently I set out on a side project to find all the records that my favourite musicians had played on. It’s common for musicians to play on a record and not get artist credit. Often the only way to know who played on a record is to look at the cover or liner notes of the album.

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The Beauty of Quality Data

Posted 18 Apr 2016 (9 minute read)

This is a write-up of a talk I originally gave at the Open Data Institute in London on 22nd March 2016 on how we can improve open data quality, and why we must. We have more open data than ever before, and most of it is really useful. A lot of it quite hard to use, and some of it is completely useless. Government policy in the UK has been fantastically successful in opening up datasets that were previously inaccessible to the public.

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The Best Web-based Data Visualisation Tools

Posted 29 Mar 2016 (5 minute read)

Firstly a disclaimer: I am the founder of Dataseed — an interactive data visualisation platform. I’ve spent a lot of time reviewing the various data visualisation tools on the market and so these are really my personal favourites. I first put together this list as part of a talk I gave at the University of Westminster in 2016 and I’ll aim to keep it up to date. There is a focus on the more affordable, cloud-based and open products, avoiding the BI monoliths and the niche industry-specific tools.

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John Coltrane, Nicolas Slonimsky and The Arduino — Part 2

Posted 8 Feb 2016 (6 minute read)

Part 2 of 2: The Tech In case you haven’t already, you might want to read the first part which focuses on the musical background and inspiration for this project. The video above shows a nifty little device that I built called the Slonimskiator. At it’s heart is an Arduino that’s been programmed to generate melodic patterns based on the concepts in Slonimsky’s Thesaurus of Melodic Scales and Patterns. It spits out notes using MIDI so that they can be understood by pretty much any synth or electronic instrument.

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John Coltrane, Nicolas Slonimsky and The Arduino — Part 1

Posted 21 Jan 2016 (5 minute read)

Part 1 of 2: The Music The video above shows a nifty little device that I built called the Slonimskiator. At it’s heart is an Arduino that’s been programmed to generate melodic patterns based on the concepts in Slonimsky’s Thesaurus of Melodic Scales and Patterns. It spits out notes using MIDI so that they can be understood by pretty much any synth or electronic instrument. In the video I’ve got it plugged into a Dave Smith Prophet 08 analog synth.

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Faster CI - how we reduced our build time by 25%

Posted 15 Jan 2016 (5 minute read)

We’ve been using Travis CI to run tests and automate deployments on our projects for the last few years and have been very happy with the service they provide. Our data visualisation tool, Dataseed, has used Travis from the start and over the years we’ve built up a large amount of tests for the font-end and back-end code. Having a comprehensive test suite is great for catching regressions and doing refactors but the length of time the build and tests were taking had become a real pain point.

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Slice, prioritise, repeat

Posted 14 Dec 2015 (8 minute read)

Adventures in finding value and making sense of splitting user stories. The journey from concept to releasing your product into to wild is an exciting, albeit complex one, with a fair share of challenges along the way. We’ve worked with many clients to deliver everything from prototypes, to MVPs to market ready products, and two of the common challenges we see on projects big and small are: Defining and prioritising value Finding the quickest and lowest risk approach to building and validating that value There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to overcoming these challenges.

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Your Big Data Might Be Small

Posted 3 Dec 2015 (6 minute read)

Recently we’ve been working on a prototype of a textual analysis product. The requirements are fairly simple: take a corpus of user comments and find distinctive terms for each user. The purpose of the exercise was to validate the utility of this analysis to the client as well as to explore what architectural choices would be appropriate in a full version of the product. We tried a couple of different approaches and in this post I’m going to look at the pros and cons of them and how the aims of the prototype sometimes conflicted.

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