Monthly Archives: June 2010

Echoes of Digital Surrey

Leafy, sunny, and sleepy Surrey… it’s a hub of digital excitement and innovation, don’t you know!

On Thursday evening I spoke at the third Digital Surrey meeting over in Guildford. The venue for all of the meetings of the group so far has been the brilliant Bench bar at the new Surrey Sports Park, and as usual it didn’t disappoint. There was a nice crowd, a little smaller than previous months (not entirely surprising due to the sunshine, holiday period, and sporting excitement), but again there were new faces and the group continues to evolve

What is Digital Surrey all about? Well, it’s not my brainchild (that award goes to the tireless @AbigailH), and it doesn’t have a mission statement as such, but if I was to describe it, I’d say that it’s a group of people interested in online and offline, mostly digital… “stuffs”… Web 2.0, publishing, creativity, new technology, communications, community… all kinds, really. It’s a very diverse crowd – from PR, marketing, journalism, web development, from startups to corporations, musicians, academics, researchers, and those into politics. Quite a fascinating group of people to explore from month to month, and the best part is, it has been growing and changing all the time. It all started last year when some wonderful people from a PR and communications company called thebluedoor, based in Farnham, started a series of irregular tweetups in the area… and it sort of snowballed from there, with the excellent folks from iBundle (home of Raffle.it, SocialSafe, etc) helping to get things off the ground with very generous and much appreciated support. You don’t have to be a Twitter user to take part, nor do you have to be from Surrey… so I sneak across the border on the occasional, uh, reconnaissance mission! 🙂

So, fundamentally, it’s a great mixed up, jumbled group of people that meets once a month. Some willing volunteer gets up to say some stuff for half an hour or so somewhere in the early-to-middle section, and then discussions, chat, and networking go on into the evening. See? Surrey really is a hub of digital excitement and innovation!

My theme was essentially all around how organisations need to be more outward-looking… that by blocking off the outside world and constructing an “echo chamber”, they will stagnate and lose touch. I told the story of how I’ve been successful making myself social inside a large corporation, and then talked about how that use of social tools has extended beyond the firewall. I also said some things about how I’m beginning to thoroughly dislike the term “social media” and I don’t believe in the efforts of marketeers to manufacture “viral”, but those are probably rants for another time and place. We had some brilliant conversations about what challenges companies face in enabling their people to go down these paths and enabling a more trusting culture. There’s a brief write-up on the Digital Surrey site, along with some of the lovely tweets that people posted while I was speaking!

Sound interesting? If you want to get involved, there’s a LinkedIn group where we have ongoing discussions, and the website is in the process of being shiny-fied. Next meeting is on July 22nd and I’m assured that Chris Green will have some great thoughts to share on the importance of content. Can’t wait! 🙂

[oh, and if you’re interested in meetups of this nature, I also have to put in a word for the great Thames Valley Social Media Cafe, aka #tvsmc, aka Reading / Thames Valley Tuttle, aka a nice cup of  coffee or tea and a natter about the latest happenings… it is sometimes partly populated by folks you might also meet at Digital Surrey… It’s twice a month, alternating between Reading, Farnborough, or a.n.other venue, in the daytime, also on a Thursday, under the excellent stewardship of @BenjaminEllis, @caalie and @JimAnning. Take a look!]

iPhone 4 and the accessories conundrum

Apple took the decision to change the physical design of the iPhone in the latest revision (also known as iPhone 4, or, “ahmmmmm shiny WANT”). It’s a good move as the 3G/3GS was lovely but a tiny bit dated. The fourth-generation model sits beautifully flatly on a tabletop and it simply gleams in its glass-and-aluminium glory. And when you start to read text on that retina display – woah – it’s beyond crisp.

One issue I did foresee before picking mine up was the accessories problem. iPod owners are used to this, of course, as every model of the nano has had a different form factor requiring a new case, or whatever. One particularly smart thing Apple have done all along, though, is retain the universal dock connector so that cables and things are all interchangeable.

For my 3G and 3GS (yes, I went through both generations) I’d had a Mophie Juicepack Aira Mophie Juicepack Air case which acted as a second battery, handy considering how much I tended to use it as a mobile computing device during the day. I’d also made the significant investment of a TomTom mount for the car. I more-or-less knew that the Juicepack wouldn’t work on the iPhone 4 as the shape of the device is so different, but I was moderately hopeful that the TomTom kit would work since I’d just had a new car stereo fitted and I use the mount (and TomTom app) all the time.

Well. It turns out that the iPhone 4 is exactly the same height as the 3GS, so it does indeed fit neatly into the TomTom mount. However – I found that it wouldn’t charge. It turned out that this was an issue with the way in which the base of the TomTom mount used to be pushed backwards by the converse curved shell of the older model… and there is now a tiny gap between the body of the phone and the back of the mount.

A trip to a local craft store and just over £1 spent fixed that particular issue for me and I now have a working mount. I made a quick video (using the camera and iMovie on the new iPhone) to demonstrate the fix. Take a look.

I’m guessing there will either be a whole new mount, or an “official” fix/patch from TomTom in the future – but this is working brilliantly for me. Tell all your friends!