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This is an old page from Rod Begbie's blog.

It only exists in an attempt to prevent linkrot. No new content will be added to this site, and links and images are liable to be broken. Check out begbie.com to find where I'm posting stuff these days.

Entries for week beginning August 19, 2007

August 25, 2007

Monkey Mind - 8-23-07 UserTalk - Twadget

Twadget (my Vista sidebar gadget for Twitter) is described by a user as the “one nice thing about Vista that [she’s] been able to find”. Best feedback I’ve ever received!

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How I made my presentations a little better | 43 Folders

Good collation of presentation links and tips from Merlin Mann.

August 23, 2007

The Hair, The TV, The Baby & The Band

CD Purchase: Imperial Teen - The Hair, The TV, The Baby & The Band

NBC Recharges 'American Gladiators' - Redo of '90s syndicated show on midseason track - Zap2it

YES! When I was flying on JetBlue last week, I happened upon a Gladiators rerun on “ESPN Classic” and loved it. Not quite as awesome and deliberately campy as the British version, but still ridiculously fun.

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Should Do This

New from the Robot Co-op: Collaborative unsolicited ideas. Companies could learn a lot from this, a free stream of thoughts from their most passionate users.

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Coffee Tea Or Me: Pantone Mug Helps you Make the Perfect Brew - Gizmodo

Brilliant solution to the problem of having someone else make you the cuppa you want. I like mine “Classic British”.

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August 22, 2007

Boston Red Sox - Sunshine state

The Globe’s Gordon Edes, painting pictures with words: “Ortiz was still light on his feet after the game, dancing in the buff back and forth in the shower room while singing over and over at the top of his lungs the theme from “Monday Night Football.” “Dah-dah-dah-DAH, dah-dah-dah-DAH,” sang Ortiz, apparently jacked up that the team’s fantasy football draft was about to commence as soon as he could find a towel.”

I’m not going to be able to shift that image from my brain for a while.

Video with new YouTube advertising

YouTube have launched their advertising model, and it doesn’t look too bad at all. Fifteen seconds into a clip, a little transparent-ish message pops up at the bottom of the video, which you can click on for more information (pausing your video), or close if you like. Ten seconds later, it fades away again.

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HHGG on iPhone

HHGG on iPhone

The classic Hitchhiker's Guide text adventure, running on my iPhone. Thank you Installer.app and iPhoneFrotz. Oh, and DNA and Infocom, I suppose.

DeskLickr - Flickrize your Mac desktop!

Automatically swap your desktop background for snaps from Flickr. I’ve had some gorgeous stuff come up in the couple of hours I’ve been running it.

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BarCamp - Organisational Notes

(This was originally written as an email to the BarCampBoston mailing list, as notes to help us organise future events. Posted here in the name of getting-the-knowledge-out)

This weekend, I was in Palo Alto to attend BarCampBlock. It was a top trip. I met a shedload of smart people, and learned a staggering amount. My head was dangerously close to asploding.

Now, two days later, I’m finally ready to try and synthesize my experience into some lessons we can use for future BarCampBostons.

1. BarCamp scales.

Remember in March when we were worried about 250 people showing up for BCB2? BarCampBlock had over 900 signups, and around 600 people showed up on the first day. A straw poll showed that for most, it was their first BarCamp.

There were around 20 “spaces” available for sessions, ranging from a 70-capacity auditorium, to meeting rooms with space for seven or eight. The sessions got spread across the schedule fairly evenly, and the wide array of choices meant that, while sometimes there was more than one session you might want to attend, there was always at least one.

The overall feeling I got from the crowd was one of momentum. The organizers turned the key, but once they gave the crowd a little push, the energy carried the event forward. Yes, when they said “Go fill out the board!”, there was a crush. But it was a polite crush that negotiated the schedule well.

2. Have a “Kids’ Area”

There were a handful of kids at the event, and a small office was set-up with legos, pens, chalk, and random other toys to entertain them, with adults taking turns to monitor.

This allowed the parents to attend, gave the kids a chance to socialize, and brought a blast of energy to the other attendees.

3. Sponsorships: Small amounts, but many.

I remember Shimon at the BCB2 post-mortem dinner saying that he’d prefer more sponsors with lower cash amount, to one big sugar-daddy. BarCampBlock had a $300 limit on cash sponsorships, whether from corporations or individuals, and in the end had around 100 sponsors.

They did have some larger “in kind” donations: For example, Google ordered and paid for the pizza for Saturday’s lunch. (They also had the pizza delivered on a rolling-basis, every 15 minutes for an hour, so there was always fresh hot pizza.)

In return for sponsorship, companies got their name listed on the wiki, and in the map handout. No green t-shirts :)

4. Schwag

The name badges were band passes, from bandpasses.com.

Much better than “My Name Is…” stickers, they had the URLs for the wiki, backchannel and social networking site, plus space for three “tags”, so you could get a sense of people’s interests and icebreak with ease. (Photos) Lovely and collectible.

The first 500 attendees got a bandpass, a water bottle and a couple of BarCampBlock stickers and buttons. The water bottle was a nice touch, as it reduced the dependence on bottled-water, meaning less waste.

There was also a table set-aside for people to drop off their own schwag (pens, stickers, t-shirts etc.), which folks could rifle through.

5. Session times

Something we’ve struggled with. The first day, sessions were 30 minutes, with 15 minute gaps for walking. The second day, sessions were 50 minutes, with 10 minute gaps. I think this was a nice compromise, as it allowed folks to choose what length discussion they wanted, and could schedule for the appropriate day. And there were discussions that genuinely needed that full hour, and then some!

6. “Demo Camp”

At the end of the first day was a two hour block of 5-minute demos. This worked well for two reasons: 1) It gave the sponsors somewhere to show their wares to the assembled, and 2) It kept (most) egregious product-pitches from the session-times.

OK, that’s what’s bubbling through my head now. Comment/Questions?

August 21, 2007

YouTube - Image resize

Demo of a wicked-cool smart image-resizing technique, from the SIGGRAPH conference.

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livinghardknox: Django and the iPhone

Quick guide to installing ssh, Python and Django on your iPhone, so you can run local webapps. OK, I admit defeat: I’m finally tempted to hack my iPhone and install crap on it!

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Selenium Remote Control: About

Saw a presentation on this at BarCampBlock, and I absolutely have to delve into it further. “Selenium Remote Control is a test tool that allows you to write automated web application UI tests in any programming language against any HTTP website using any mainstream JavaScript-enabled browser.”

August 20, 2007

Paramount to Drop Blu-Ray HD DVDs - New York Times

More fun FUD that will ensure that neither format “wins”.

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BBC Olinda digital radio: Social hardware

Schulze & Webb are working on an open, social digital-radio-plus-wifi prototype for the BBC. Fascinating the way they hope to apply “open source” to hardware design.

Even the Office 2007 box has a learning curve - Joel on Software

As someone who installed Vista on a PC in January, and regretted it for months, I echo Joel Spolsky’s summation: “I’ve been using Vista on my home laptop since it shipped, and can say with some conviction that nobody should be using it as their primary operating system — it simply has no redeeming merits to overcome the compatibility headaches it causes.”

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Audio Edition | Economist.com

Not-quite-a-podcast from The Economist — The entire issue each week as a talking-book. Each section of the magazine is a separate MP3 file, so you can “read” the bits that interest you. Free to subscribers.

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10 PRINT “yoz ROOLS OK “; 20 GO TO 10

10 PRINT “yoz ROOLS OK “; 20 GO TO 10

From Yoz's talk on "Folk Logic" -- How every kid in the 80s learned to "program".

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August 19, 2007

Scratch | Home | imagine, program, share

Graphical programming “language”/environment. Designed as a tool to let kids learn programing.

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Liz Henry: Organizing BarCampBlock

Great notes from Liz Henry on the (let’s be kind and call it “agile”) organization of BarCampBlock. Good stuff to keep in mind for next BarCampBoston.

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3953 mAh

3953 mAh

Ouch! My MacBookPro's battery capacity has dropped to 71% -- but it was at 98-ish% before I left for this trip and used my laptop on battery power on the airplane and yesterday at BarCampBlock.

I suspect that I should be able to get the battery replaced at the Apple Store under warranty -- 30% capacity drop after 17 loadcycles doesn't sound right at all.

VeriSign's OpenID SeatBelt Plugin

Firefox extension to bring OpenID into the browser’s chrome. (Also, Verisign’s OpenID provider now support using their PayPal Security Keys as a second-factor for authentication)

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About This Site

This is an archive of groovmother.com, the old blog run by Rod Begbie — A Scottish geek who lives in San Francisco, CA.

I'm the co-founder of Sōsh, your handy-dandy guide for things to do in San Francisco this weekend.