Mike Jones

Dad to 4 nutters. Founder Western Cape Labs. Building smart apps for dumb phones and smart sites for busy people. Former Londoner, now Cape Town resident. Jack of all trades, master of some.

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My Big Mistake

I made a mistake recently: I expressed a strong opinion. What an idiot.

I really should have just shut up and done some coding.

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Or perhaps I should have done some selling.

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Or maybe help organise a conference.

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Silly me. Biggest mistake was giving a crap things that impact my life and opening my trap to express them.

/me goes back to twiddling thumbs

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Silicon Cape Must Die. What Must Rise?

I love Cape Town.

I love South Africans.

I love technology.

I love business.

I love crazy people willing to start from nothing.

I love fighters.

I love honesty.

I hate Silicon Cape.

That might sound a bit harsh but rather than talk about what is wrong with it though (I’ve done that before), I’m going to outline what I think Cape Town needs from an organisation that is meant to champion the growth of technology businesses.

Focus, focus, focus.

If Silicon Valley is what people want to become then please go back and read its history. It was not the place it is. It was not diverse, its early success grew from a focused ecosystem of related companies. This is the number one priority for the City of Cape Town.

We need to be known for something.

We need to be great at something.

We need people being poached from company to company for their relevant experience (not just...

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Passionate about the non-trivial

I love many parts of this interview with Zach Klein, co-founding and designer of Vimeo. However, this one section popped out from me:

Any aspiring founder now has multiple ideas. They probably have a list of different startup ideas. How do you assess an idea?

Typically I’ve selected ideas because they were able to attract people that I really wanted to work with and spend some of my life with.

That’s interesting. So you don’t look at how much money you could potentially make from an idea?

Oh, no. Honestly that’s probably to my fault as an entrepreneur. It’s a double-edged sword. But it’s never really been my prioritizing feature.



Yeah, why not? Everybody wants to be a millionaire. From the articles we read, it’s all about how much money they raise and how much they’ve been acquired for, right?

Right. The thing is that you have to live your life while you’re running this...

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Is Cape Town lacking digital challenges?

Last night I tweeted this:

imsickofmaps: 4 friends at the top of their game quit Cape Town for USA tech in short space of time. We need a broader ecosystem of challenges based here.

I posted it because it was been playing on my mind for a few months - and then one of Cape Town’s leading User Experience specialists, Rian van der Merwe, announced he was leaving for a new role in Portland. It got some responses (probably ruffled a few feathers), and 140 characters suck in this situation.

First, let me be crystal clear: this post and that tweet are not about any one individual and their decision. This is about the eco-system and the trends. Please read it that way.

I moved to Cape Town just over three years ago with my family. I quickly tried to find my feet and understand the culture of tech here: what people were interested in, what they were working on, etc.. I was in a funny position...

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Silicon Cape Feedback

Tonight there is an open feedback session for the Silicon Cape initiative over in the Alba Lounge at the V&A Waterfront. I can’t go because it’s my good wife’s night at hockey and the kids have had enough babysitters this week! However, I thought it good to stick a stake in the ground for what I would have said had I been there and this post is it. Maybe someone will see it and represent these points if they agree…

The Caveats

Firstly, it’s very easy to sit on the side and criticise a non-profit community initiative like this. Just like the 1000’s of couch-based Stormers coaches every week that know “just how things should be done to get the right results”. But it’s much harder to get stuck in and help move things forward in a way that benefits others and not just their mean selfish interests or ego.

Secondly, I’ve only been in Cape Town since January 2011 and therefore only been to...

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Avoiding Peter

Avoiding Peter

I was enjoying a delicious cappuccino in my first visit to Bread, Milk and Honey in the city the other day and catching up with a friend when the concept of the Peter Principle came up. Firstly, I realized I seem to have a great memory for concepts but a terrible one for the names of them! Rian who insisted I have the cappuccino, doesn’t seem to have trouble at all and mentioned a few concepts during our chat that I knew but had forgotten the names of.

The Peter Principle

The Peter Principle states: “in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence”. This means that employees will tend to be promoted until they reach a position in which they cannot work competently. It originated in 1969 by Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull in their book carrying the title of the principle.

Quoting from the Wikipedia entry on the subject:

The principle...

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Do I really hate maps?

For the third time in a week I’ve been asked some variation on “what the deal with you hating maps?”, this time by Rian on Twitter. The underlying reason for this question is my username on nearly every service is “imsickofmaps”. I realised however that I’ve not actually posted the history and maybe it was time to lay down a post, because it certainly doesn’t fit into 140 characters! The story starts with Hotmail, which I started using back in the 90’s. I had an account there pretty early on and had mr_mike_jones@hotmail.com as my address instead of some inane mikejones938832932@hotmail.com address they’d probably give you these days. In ‘98 or '99 sometime I got sick of the “directory harvest attack” spam waves that Hotmail just didn’t seem to be able to deal with and decided to move usernames. I wanted “imsickofspam” but “spam” along with “help” and “support” etc. was not allowed in...

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