Category Archives: General

There’s a growing feeling in the UK that we’re about to vote ourselves out of the EU. I want it on record that I’m voting to stay.

In my last two posts I lamented the ludicrous EU tax laws that digital businesses have to comply with, so you’d think I’d be eager to leave the EU and no longer have to worry about all that.  But no. As with so much of the referendum debate, it’s pretty much unknown what will happen to VATMOSS.

Herein lies much of my frustration with the “debate”. We’re not actually voting for anything, we’ve simply been offered to vote against what we already have, and what we have is badly understood by the vast majority of us. With virtually no certainty of what the alternatives will be, voters are in quite a ridiculous situation.

If my social media feeds are anything to go by, people are voting with their hearts far more than with their heads. It’s not a real debate in there, it’s just an argument about facts, and neither side is going to sway the other with their bombardment of infographics. If someone chooses to believe horse shit like this it’s because it fits their pre-existing view. Likewise, the very existence of propaganda shouldn’t harden or narrow one’s own pre-existing views. But it does. I don’t see anyone discussing whether EEA membership might actually be good, it’s more important to vote against the xenophobes. There’s even a petition to cancel the referendum. (to protect democracy?) Perhaps from those too stupid to vote correctly?

A British election sure brings out the worst in everyone, but if you’re undecided try to think through the noise and assess the risk. If you’ve arrived at the “whatever happens, it can’t be worse” position I’d urge you to think about that sentence.

My vote is based on a pretty simple view that leaving seems far riskier than staying. I’ve not heard a good enough argument for leaving, but even if a proposed EU alternative was acceptable we don’t actually get to vote on what it will be – hence I feel Remain is the safest option by far.

We all know the EU is a bureaucratic monster, but it’s more our monster than people seem to think. Leaving means handing over years of negotiations and lawmaking to the government. We won’t get a referendum on every single law that gets changed.  Things can always be worse.

This post continues from part 1 where I outlined what I did to prepare Loco for the not-so-new EU regulations. Again – I’m not a lawyer, or an accountant, and this is not a rant :)

Once my system was processing payments from EU customers I was fairly happy I was compliant, but the devil’s in the detail. With real data coming in I had cause to investigate some odd cases and the learning experience continued.

Here are some extra things to consider from the beginning, or at least be prepared to deal with when they crop up. As with most of this legislation, it all boils down to location.

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I launched paid plans for Loco last June and I’ve just reached the end of my first quarter. Being a small business I wouldn’t normally pay attention to quarters, but I do now because selling a digital service in the EU means compulsory VAT registration.

This post is not a political rant. Despite the title I’m going to resist the temptation to vent steam over the not-so-new EU regulations. It is what it is, and there’s unlikely to be any change for a while. If you’re planning a to start a SaaS business from the UK you might benefit from some of the things I’ve learned – many of them the hard way.

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AMF and RTMP libraries for node.js – Flash remoting with node.

I’ve been having fun playing with node.js over the past year, but have had little, or no excuse to use it in any production work, so I thought I’d set myself a challenge and build a module. That challenge was firstly to create a simple AMF gateway for Flash remoting, and secondarily to see if an RTMP socket server was achievable in node.

If you don’t know about “node” – It’s a JavaScript runtime that allows you to write socket servers. I like it a lot – it brings asynchronous, event-driven programming to the server side and provides a truly global variable scope across all connections. I’ll blog about it in more detail later, perhaps.

At Public we do a lot of Flash work, and regularly implement Flash remoting using a PHP AMF gateway. I wasn’t necessarily looking to replace this stock approach with node, but node offers proper socket connections that PHP can’t, so I was imagining the possibilities of using node as a free, and more flexible alternative to Flash Media Server. Not for streaming media, but for real-time messaging, for example in multi-player games. If I’m honest though, I did this mostly for fun, an academic exercise and as an excuse to work with node.

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The four NYU students pledging to build Diaspora captured my imagination today, and I’m not the only one.

There is so much to discuss around this and it’s not even out of the lab yet. In a rare display of focus, I’ll devote my first post on the topic to one of the more obvious questions – Can they (or do they need to) get 400 million people to migrate away from Facebook? Continue reading…

Off the back of all the recent Facebook changes I just read the OAuth 2.0 spec – it’s currently in a draft state, and according to this page, Facebook is currently the only implementation in the wild. This new spec attempts to pull together various authentication journeys rather than just the typical web app model. This is a great news – It seems to accommodate many different situations across differing devices with different capabilities, while maintaining a good level of consistency.

You didn’t expect me to have only nice things to say, did you? There are a couple of things I have to question. Continue reading…