Tag Archives: tools

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.

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My Mac Menubar

Continuing some of the posts about Mac software and tools I use, this might be of interest – a few of the applets you’ll find in my menubar. The vast majority of these are free.

My Mac Menubar

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  1. LittleSnapper – handy for taking annotated screenshots or grabbing webpages. I don’t run this all the time, but it was running to take this shot.
  2. Google Quick Search Box – I’ve been a Quicksilver user for a long time, currently I’m trying out QSB instead.
  3. Camouflage – hides the icons on the desktop. Great for recording screencasts, or just for tidying up.
  4. DropBox – handy for sharing files between Windows, Linux and Mac.
  5. Caffeine – disable screensaver for watching movies and presentations etc.
  6. iScrobbler – for Last.FM support
  7. Skitch – my screen capture utility of choice, which I do have running all the time. Not as good for annotation or web page capture as LittleSnapper, but quicker to use.
  8. Evernote – todo lists and note taking (syncs with iPhone)
  9. Eject applet
  10. Canon printer/scanner utility for the MP620
  11. SoundSource – very handy tool to select input and output sources, great for podcasting etc.
  12. Displays (enabled from System Prefs) – useful for presentations and viewing video on the TV.
  13. Language (enabled from System Prefs) – quick access to language, special characters, keyboard viewer, etc.
  14. MagiCal – pop up monthly calendar

Snapping web pages – LittleSnapper

I’ve written before about a little app I utterly love on the Mac called Skitch. It’s a really nice tool for taking and annotating screenshots, and I often use it to add an image to my blog posts, or simply to record interesting events in my gallery.

So what if you need to make images of web pages? I’m fairly certain that my new favourite application is going to be LittleSnapper, from my friends at Realmac Software. It looks simple, and gorgeous. They recently posted a demo of some of the features on their blog.

Incidentally, although I’ve not had any cause to use their RapidWeaver software before, I’ve had it demonstrated to me and it also looks like a fantastic tool if you are into web design. I think LittleSnapper is going to be the product that gets me on the hook, though 🙂

disclaimer: I know one of the guys from Realmac, but I’ve chosen to post this independently, and the opinions here are firmly my own

Mobile blogging

Well here’s an interesting experience. As I’ve twittered and mentioned on Dogear Nation, I recently got an iPhone 3g… and now there’s a WordPress application for it. And I’m typing this entry on it. I can’t say it is as usable as the web interface on a laptop but that’s largely a statement about the keyboard… actually the app itself is really nice. Progress! 🙂