Tag Archives: unconferences

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!

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The late, late OggCamp 11 write-up… and more UUPC

Forever Delayed

Oggs!It has been several weeks since OggCamp 11 now. I’ve been meaning to post a quick recap for a while.

I’ve written before about being friends with the crew from the Ubuntu UK Podcast (UUPC), so I’ve been following the progress of OggCamp over the past couple of years. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend either OggCamp 1 (2009) in Wolverhampton or OggCamp 2 in Liverpool last year.

Waitaminute… OggCamp?

Sounds like a weird name, huh?

Well… yeah ok, it is a bit odd. Breaking it down, there’s an audio file format called Ogg Vorbis which was intended to be a non-patent-encumbered, higher quality alternative to MP3. Many FLOSS (Free/Libre Open Source Software) supporters and audiophiles prefer it to MP3 and many podcasts aimed at these communities offer the .ogg format as an alternative to .mp3. The “Camp” idea is basically that of an unconference, popularised by events such as BarCamp – often a weekend-long gathering about nothing and everything in particular, with late night hacking and geekery. And being an unconference, the first rule of the event is that you definitely, definitely, have to talk about whatever you are ever passionate about, and participate.

So you smoosh together Ogg + Camp and you get…

… a very cool event populated by folks from the FLOSS and audio communities, often attracted by listening to podcasts like Linux Outlaws or the Ubuntu UK Podcast… the two teams that started the OggCamp events a few years ago as a kind of successor to the previous LugRadio Live. It’s not only about audio, although there tends to be some content on that subject, as well as some live podcast recordings, and other craziness.

Crew at #oggcampOggCamp 11 was “my first time”. It was held at the Farnham Maltings, a lovely venue that is very close to where I live (and also where we’ve held some Digital Surrey events in the past), so it would have been mad for me not to have attended, and just rude of me not to have offered to volunteer as part of the crew.

My excitement turned to a slight amount of trepidation a few days before things kicked off, when our now-legendary crew chieftan Les Pounder sent us out an email to check that everyone was “OK with heavy lifting”… 🙂 as it happened, that wasn’t too much of a problem! It was a pleasure to work with Les and the rest of the team actually – everyone was very laid back, happy, and just made things happen. I’d been wondering how onerous crew duties would be and whether they would prevent me from participating as an unconference attendee, but everything was shared around so I still found time for yet another talk on MQTT, and for some trademark heckling from the cheap seats during various other sessions.

You can explore my Flickr set from the event, but let me pick out a few small highlights:

  • meeting Roger Light for the first time, on the same day that Facebook mentioned their use of MQTT 🙂
  • hearing Ken Boak talk about his Nanode project from London Hackspace (and here’s one I made later!)
  • meeting Laura Czajkowski and hearing her talk about how to get involved in real world communities beyond IRC!
  • seeing a fantastic community that had formed around some great people from two podcasts I greatly enjoy.
  • a brief converation with Karen Sandler, the new lead of the GNOME Foundation.
  • winning a ChipKit Max32 and a Canonical goodie bag in the raffle 🙂
  • … and of course, watching Popey‘s demonstration of Extreme Ironing!

I hadn’t been to an event quite so specifically oriented towards freedom and Open Source for a while, and I’d forgotten how polarised some people can become around certain topics. In my career choices I’ve had to make some choices which make me a little more… shades of grey in my views about the technology landscape, so it is always good to have the challenging discussions and hear other views.

I’d definitely want to attend OggCamps in the future. A lot of fun, a great experience, and thanks to the organising team and sponsors. Recommended.

Even more talking

Following on from OggCamp, I was invited back to the UUPC Studio last week to cover for Alan – evidently I’ve not made too many slip-ups yet, since this is my third time as a guest presenter now. It’s really a fantastic experience and their production process and quality is always superb and well-planned and executed. Check out Episode 14 of Season 4 of UUPC “Revelations” to see how we got on with all the news, interviews, and listener feedback!

Barcamp. London. Seven.

This past weekend saw a first for IBM South Bank as it played host to Barcamp London 7, the seventh time a the Barcamp unconference had been held in London (I know this, because I asked @thehodge why it was called Barcamp London 7, and he said it was because it was the seventh one… cunning!). South Bank is not often used for events at the weekend, and certainly not for events of 200 excited techies, creative types and those wanting to run their own talks on subjects as diverse as Failure, the TV series Lost, CSS design, niche bands you should be listening to, a photography project involving a rubber duck, life drawing, and Enterprise Software Patterns.

The IBM side of the event organisation was largely the effort of Zoe Slattery, although a host of us volunteered to help support the external organisers, and several IBM folks attended. Attendance at a Barcamp is free and the event is supported and funded by sponsors. It was great to mingle and chat with people I’d met at similar events, friends, and others I was connecting with for the first time.

Don't break my stuffThe scheduleIs THIS Mr Duck?Coffee loungeYepDuckpond

The way that a Barcamp is organised is that there is no set agenda – attendees turn up and volunteer to speak for 20 minutes on a topic of their choice (and these topics can be very diverse). We used something like 12 or 13 rooms and I believe we had nearly 200 available session slots spanning the 2 day period from 10am on Saturday through until 5pm on the Sunday. By the end of Saturday almost the entire session “grid” was filled. It is a Barcamp tradition that first timers are expected to give at least one session… in the end, I gave two.

There’s an event on Slideshare where the decks for those that used slides are being collected, but there was a huge range of different topics and styles (including my own favourite, Ben Fletcher’s Fingerspelling lesson, which had us learning the alphabet in British Sign Language at increasingly higher speeds!)

The overnight stay went well – there were a few party games and many, many discussions on Saturday evening. A good time had by all, judging from the tweets and photos.

The staff at South Bank were exceptional, working the weekend and remaining in great spirits, helped by the sunny dispositions of the Barcamp attendees. All in all it was a great success, and I hope that we’ll be able to get involved in more of these kinds of events!

Zoe and Ben also have some nice write-ups, and the Flickr group of photos is filling out nicely. Thanks to Adewale Oshineye for this cool photo of me!