Blog Posts by Tom Hughes-Croucher

  • UK Hadoop User Group 2008

    On Tuesday, I went to the first UK Hadoop User Group meetup with Yahoo!'s Doug Cutting, founder of Hadoop, a top-level Apache project developing open-source software for reliable, scalable, distributed computing. About 60 UK and European developers attended. Interestingly, about half of those in the room were already using Hadoop and half hadn't tried it.

    I did a few interviews at the event so you can get a flavour of what was covered. Tom White talks about how to get started with Hadoop.

    A shout of thanks to our hosts Skills Matter and our co-sponsor for making it such a great event. Skills Matter kindly put up their video coverage.

    Doug and I particularly enjoyed Klaas Bosteels talking about Dumbo. The Dumbo project is an easy way to use Hadoop Streaming in lovely Python. The talks mentioned in video are also available such as Tom White's talk on Hadoop on EC2, Hadoop Lessons at and Smartfrog and Hadoop and, of course, Doug Cutting's introduction to Hadoop.


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  • Rise of the Filipino Web Innovator

    It was almost 20 years ago when, as a Computer Science student, I listened to Philippine President, Corazon Aquino, address a packed amphitheater at the University of California at Berkeley. In her speech, President Aquino called for Filipinos to return home to help rebuild the country. I didn't realize then that I would have the potential to heed that call a few years later when setting up the Philippine subsidiary of another global technology firm, and now with Yahoo!, while reiterating that same message to our Pinoy developer community.

    Jojo gets feedback from the Developer

    Since joining Yahoo! a year ago, I often get questioned about the meaning of being a platform company. I have to reiterate that Yahoo! is not just a platform company, we are working on being an open platform company. This provides great potential for any Pinoy developer who now has an opportunity to leverage the Yahoo! infrastructure and technology and catalyze the Internet economy in the Philippines to help drive the country forward.

    Yahoo! is

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  • Ferrets, Disco, and Community (Barcamping in Leeds)

    I spent the weekend at Barcamp in Leeds. Barcamps are getting quite common now, but it is really nice to see communities all around the UK joining in.

    With almost 100 attendees, the technology community in the North of England is really buzzing. I was impressed by the range of people that came--everyone from UNIX hackers, web developers, startup founders, and designers.

    Bar Camp Leeds Montage

    Some of the strangest parts of this particular event: the very adorable ferret and the YMCA singalong. Still, there was plenty of geekery as well. One of the most interesting sessions for me, and something that would be useful all over the world, was a discussion on how to create and support local tech communities.

    There were a few really good ideas on ways to encourage community. Events are an obvious thing, but starting them can be really hard. Two valuable resources: a list of geek-friendly venues and contacts among university professors (with access to lecture halls). Communities also need resources to get going;

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  • Fire Eagle: Open to Fly

    Earlier today the Fire Eagle team at Yahoo! Brickhouse opened the Fire Eagle location platform to the public. What does that mean?

    Until today access to the Fire Eagle project had been limited to developers with invitation codes. Now anyone can log in and use the exciting applications that have been built. If you are a developer, you can now log in to develop applications based on location without a special invite code, or you can try out some of the existing apps. The only thing you need to get started is a Yahoo! ID.

    You can see the official launch announcement on the Yahoo! Next blog and read more about Location, location location on Yodel Anecdotal.

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  • Zimbra Desktop Beta 3’s New Features

    We are excited to announce the new Zimbra Desktop Beta 3. This is a cross posting from the Zimbra Blog
    - Tom Hughes-Croucher, Yahoo! Developer Network

    We’ve aimed to blur the line between a Ajax web-client and a conventional desktop application, and this release is a leap towards reaching that goal. If you’re just joining us here’s the best part: It’s an offline capable client so you can take your data with you whenever you don’t have internet access - then sync any type of interaction that you can do in normal webmail access when you get connected again. So many cool new things I don’t know where to begin - the Zimbra Desktop team has been very busy since Beta 2.

      They’re here, and your tasks, documents, & briefcase items can now follow you wherever you may roam. If you’re already using Zimbra Desktop against a Zimbra Collaboration Suite server these will show up on next edit or item move via delta sync - while a full account sync or reset will pull in prior items. Personally, having briefcase items available offline is a major plus - as offline calendaring using the same AJAX web-client interface has already long since won me over.


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  • Portland goes Open Source

    This week we're at O'Reilly's Open Source Convention (OSCON) in Portland, OR. There are lots of great talks -- from how Google does code reviews to XMPP with Flickr and FireEagle to the state of OpenID.

    We're really excited about all the cool stuff that's going on. If you're at OSCON, we really hope you'll come and hang out at our booth to see the latest from Zimbra, Hadoop, YUI, etc.

    Tom Hughes-Croucher
    Yahoo! Developer Network

  • A New Milestone in Web Development Education

    The folks at Opera have just released their Web Standards Curriculum, an online course on building web products using web standards. The curriculums covers a range of topics: from explaining what the web is to building state-of-the-art applications.

    Education is an important part of the process with any technology. The Web Standards Curriculum serves as a course to teach people how to create web sites that adhere to the standards that exist for the Web and following best practices like unobtrusive scripting and progressive enhancement. Written by some of the leading experts in the field it covers all of the subjects you need to get a head start in web development.

    Many of my colleagues at Yahoo such as Christian Heilmann, Mark Norman Francis and Ben Hawkes-Lewis have been involved in writing this curriculum. At Yahoo we believe that web standards are vital to a vibrant developer community. We want to provide the most accessible, cross-browser compatible sites possible and web standards

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  • A Geek Dinner with Moo

    Continuing in the spirit of London Web Week the lovely people from Moo were the special guests at a Geek Dinner last night. In a pub in High Holborn about 40 geeks and hackers converged for the event. There were lots of people from Moo in attendance which gave everyone the chance to meet many of the people they'd seen speak at conferences like Richard Moross, Richard Pope and Denise Wilton.

    Rather than a formal talk Richard M gave an impromptu history of the company from it's inception as the dubiously named "Pleasure Cards" to the Moo of today. They discussed some of the reasons for their success. Richard said that customer service was key. Being very accommodating early on created a really loyal following. They found that owning up to the mistakes they made and dealing with them created the happiest customers of all. Creating an honest dialogue is clearly important to the company.

    London Geek Dinner with Moo

    When asked about market Richard talked about his time in the advertising industry. He lamented about

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  • London Geeks Go Green

    Two Events

    Last week was a busy one for green geeks in London. I attended two events focused on green technology and environmental awareness: the AMEE's 1st Birthday and GeeKyoto, a mini-summit to discuss green tech and other issues.


    AMEE (the Avoiding Mass Extinction Engine) is a broker for data about energy use and carbon data. In the year since AMEE launched, they've worked with the British government to provide an online carbon calculator as part of the Act On CO2. The Act On campaign had a great response--almost a million visitors created over 400,000 carbon profiles. These profiles help people in the UK understand and reduce their carbon footprints and helps the government understand how Britons use carbon. Happy Birthday to AMEE! We look forward to another year of great work helping us avoid extinction.


    Most people question if the world is broken, or discuss whose fault is it. But we thought let's assume it broken. Let's get clever, smart geeks together, to figure out what's the best way to fix it. You are here to see cool stuff. Hopefully that cool stuff will trigger an idea when you get up tomorrow morning.

    On Saturday May 17, I attended the day-long GeeKyoto conference. Event organisers Mark Simpkins and Ben Hammersley explained their thinking in the quote above. They started with the premise that "The world is broken" and asked "How do we fix it?" Following on from the theme of the Kyoto summit, many talks were about climate change.

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  • Over the Air – Burning down the place

    Last Friday and Saturday I went to the Over The Air conference which was a lot of fun. When a hack event or conference focuses on a narrow section of technology it can really be a sign of how vibrant a community is. With over 250 participants Over the Air showed that the London mobile scene is really happening right now.

    It seems like we are starting to set a trend. Whenever we bring Fire Eagle to a hack event the fire alarms go off. Talk about a hot product! Like London Hack Day, Over the Air had to be evacuated for a while. Happily it was a nice day and everyone chilled out on the lawn to chat about ideas.

    The BBC's Matt Cashmore co-ordinating the escape from burned microwave poptarts - Flickr photo by Daniel Applequist

    On Friday night Yahoo threw a little bash to celebrate the hacking going on, with lots of hackers staying overnight there was plenty of activity. The DJ cut a pretty tune late into the night while the hacking started upstairs.

    There were more talks on Saturday including Steve Marshall talking about Fire Eagle. Steve wrote the Fire Eagle Python API wrapper and was well versed to

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