Tag Archives: conferences

Interview with Uhuru, and more events in the pipeline

As my new role continues, a podcast I recorded with Michael Surkan over at Uhuru Software has just gone online. Uhuru provide hosting based on the Cloud Foundry platform, and add first-class support for .NET applications. They also have some really neat add-ons for MMC and Visual Studio to make deployment easy. We talked a little about the role of a Developer Advocate, the groups I’ve been talking to about adoption of Cloud Foundry, and some of the “gotchas” to consider when taking an application to a Platform-as-a-Service environment.

(if you can hear any background noise on this one, it was because I was at the Scala Days event in London on the day we spoke, and not Michael’s fault at all! I don’t think it sounds too bad)

Coming up this week, there’s the big Cloud Foundry Open Tour London on Tuesday (based on the numbers I’m hearing about, it sounds like that is going to be busy). Many of us from the engineering and developer relations teams will be speaking at that one. The rest of the week, I’ll be at SourceDevCon in London where my head honcho Patrick will be speaking on Thursday afternoon.

To round the week off, there’s Horizons at the BFI on Saturday and Sunday, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the ZX Spectrum. I was always more of an Acorn guy myself, but there’s no denying these classic machines really kickstarted my interest in this role space – and I can’t wait to hear MJ Hibbett perform “Hey Hey 16k” in person! 🙂


European WebSphere Technical Conference 2011

Although I realise that it seems as though I do little other than spin around “the conference circuit” at the moment what with the various events I’ve blogged about lately, that isn’t entirely true! However, it is just about time for another European WebSphere Technical Conference – something like a cut-down IMPACT run in Europe, a combination of the popular WebSphere and Transaction & Messing conferences we used to run – with plenty of technical content on the latest technologies.

I’ll be in Berlin next week 10th-14th October, participating in at least one panel, speaking about MQTT, and also covering the latest on IBM MQ messaging technologies as they relate to cloud and web. There’s a Lanyrd event page where I’ll try to collate information relating to the individual talks.b

I have a feeling that by this time next week there could be quite a lot to talk about… 🙂

A quick video tour of Lanyrd

I’ve waxed lyrical about how much I like Lanyrd, the social conference website, before. I bumped into Natalie and Simon again at the Brighton Mini Maker Faire this weekend, actually – and Lanyrd just turned 1 last week!

I’ve been helping to curate some of the event pages for things like OggCamp and BMMF recently. After my recent mention of Lanyrd on UUPC, it struck me that I was getting a few people ask how to do things like linking to coverage of a recent event, or saying things like “I’m not on Lanyrd, can you do it for me?”… when they do indeed have profiles on the site, since they are on Twitter and someone has already added them as a speaker at an event, for example. It’s crowdsourced social event management, folks – similar to a Wikipedia for conferences, if you like – have at it, get in there, and add the information that makes it more useful to all of us 🙂

Anyway, with that in mind, I thought I’d do a really quick screencast to point out a few of the main features. Hope it turns out to be useful!

Disclosure: although I talk about it a lot, I have no direct interest in the company, site or service – I just think it’s incredibly useful and the team behind it are lovely people!

Update 7th Sept: Lanyrd just announced new investors – so it is onwards and upwards!

Lanyrd – a social conference tool. It rocks.

As an early adopter, I do spend a lot of time discovering new sites and online services, and giving them a try. If I’m honest, the number of those tools that actually stick is remarkably small.

One recent discovery that has stuck is a site called Lanyrd. That’s like, you know, lanyard – the cords you use to hang conference badges around your neck – without that second ‘a’ – cunning, huh? So this is a site for the social web that lets you track, mark and organise your attendance at conferences, and see what your friends and contacts are interested in, too. It was created by Natalie Downes and Simon Willison – I’ve known of Nat since the BBC/Yahoo! Hackday in 2007; I can’t remember whether I’ve met Simon. Lanyrd was something small and experimental, but they’ve recently been part of a Y Combinator funding round and bootcamp, which is terribly exciting!

So what’s so cool and useful about this, and why would you want to use Yet Another Social Site? I have absolutely no formal affiliation or connection to the service, I’m just a keen user, but here are my top tips and likes.

Firstly – low barrier to entry. If you’re on Twitter, you can quickly login and get your social graph pulled in. Once you’ve done that, simply start to search for events that you’re attending, or flip through to see what your friends and contacts are attending or “tracking” (have expressed an interest in watching), and click the button to register interest or attendance.

Once you’ve done that, you can go grab your ical feed from Lanyrd and throw it into Google Calendar or similar. There you go – nice way of marking out the conferences you want to track or attend. So it’s cool for discovery and for calendaring.

For conferences themselves, you get the opportunity to create an event with a unique URL, get a quick glance at who is attending, add a hashtag, location and timing information, and create lists of sessions. That’s great ahead of the event… but what about afterwards? Well, here’s what I think is a really cool feature. You can attach all kinds of “coverage” to an event, be it slides, audio, video, liveblogged information, blogged write-ups, etc etc. So your point-in-time event suddenly gains a social and historical footprint with an aggregation of all the content that grew up around it, which people can go back to. You don’t post the coverage directly into Lanyrd – they don’t own or keep anything – you just link everything together.

Finally, for me, is yet another killer feature. Once I say I’m a speaker at an event, Lanyrd will build me a speaker profile. So I get a single page calendar I can go back to that lists the events I’ve spoken at, and which probably has all my slides embedded (yes I know Slideshare can host the slides, but it doesn’t build this kind of profile for me). Oh, and there are nice widgets to make this kind of calendar embeddable on other sites, so you can have a record of where and when you spoke, and where and when you’ll be speaking next.

Nat and Simon have done a truly lovely job with Lanyrd and are constantly tweaking, improving and adding features. Saying that, I hope it won’t succumb to feature creep, or becoming a lightning rod for spam events as Upcoming and other sites seemed to in their later periods. If you’re running a conference or smaller social meeting which is going to have speakers and attendees then I think it makes a lot of sense.

A Smarter Planet needs lightweight messaging

One of the primary things I’ve been working on this year has been IBM’s new WebSphere MQ Telemetry product. I say “new”, of course, but the underlying technologies – WebSphere MQ itself, and the MQTT protocol which takes the messaging infrastructure down to the edge of the network and into embedded devices – have both been around, and totally solid, for a number of years already, but they have only recently formally been brought together into a single package. MQTT is short for MQ Telemetry Transport, and I wrote about it a couple of months ago in a post where I referred to it as a Smarter Planet protocol.

I’ve done quite a bit of travelling and talking to IBM customers and communities this year, and that’s recently been recognised and formalised into (part of) my new role in Hursley where I’m the WebSphere Messaging Community Lead. What does that mean? Well, the product part is in the first two words – I’m looking at the MQ family of products (something I’ll be writing about a bit more in the near future). The most important part, though is that third word – Community. My primary focus is working with, listening to, and helping to develop the community – and linking that back in to what we do in our labs. Community, for me, means people: developers, administrators, architects, partners, and the overall ecosystem that surrounds WebSphere MQ. We’ve got some great third-party sites out there, some brilliant content that gets published through IBM Redbooks and developerWorks, and our support teams blog about the topic, but we can always do better and I’m looking forward to finding ways of socialising our content and the materials produced by others.

A great first step towards that is our new IBM Expert network on Slideshare, which Adam Christensen wrote about recently, enabling us to share content as IBMers in a more “social” manner. I had a bunch of presentations up there already, but it was high time that I contributed some material more from my specialist technical subject area. I’ve now done so 🙂

This was a quick presentation I gave at an Apache Retreat that was held at IBM Hursley a couple of months ago. It’s a cut-down version of the full talk I’d usually give on the topic, tailored to the audience to keep it relevant to that community rather than diving into the enterprise part of the story and listing out case studies etc.. This is an important point, as the MQTT ecosystem is very much about the developer community and the opportunity to embed a reliable and lightweight messaging protocol into devices like smartphones, sensors, routers and edge-of-network boxes. It’s one of the reasons why IBM has published the specification for royalty-free implementation, and we’re seeing some exciting (and sometimes unexpected!) things happening as folks build their own client APIs. If your application or library is implementing that specification then your devices or applicaitons could, ultimately, bridge up into an Enterprise Service Bus running on the MQ infrastructure, and all the backend power that exists in clouds and enterprise datacentres today can start to do clever things with the data. Predictive analytics, visualisations, better prioritisation of resources… the reliability of transport for the data and the ability to get down to the smallest devices is vital.

[ related aside – shout-out to Nick for the lovely visual on slide 18 of this deck which I failed to credit within the presentation where I originally put it together in a bit of a rush. It’s from his page for the Arduino library for MQTT ]

There’s always more to say in this space, but I hope the presentation provides an overview of how the Smarter Planet story bridges the ideas of Service Oriented Architecture and The Internet of Things, and the part that MQTT plays within that. In the future you can expect to hear me talking more in this space, and I should be giving talks at Home Camp 3 in London in a couple of weeks’ time, as well as at LinuxConf Australia in Brisbane in January. I look forward to meeting more people and discussing the whole messaging story in more detail!