Posts Tagged ‘geeky’

Learning Pool at Geek’n’Rolla – The Event that Rocked

April 22, 2009

long-queue1I was at an unconference yesterday.  It was called Geek‘n’Rolla Tech Crunch and, despite the intermittent whooping and air punching, it was a motivating, inspirational and frenetically busy event.

I call it an unconference, to use an achingly trendy term, because it was cool, unstuffy and informal.  There was a bit of swearing and not a lot of tie wearing.  The speakers signed off with their Twitter addresses as well as their website and email addresses. 

Oh, and there were quite a few cool trilby’s too, especially the neon pink one belonging to the gentleman sitting in front of me with the clashing yellow spectacles.

The speed conveyor belt of speakers, maximum air time of 15 minutes each, delivered up thought provoking and interesting showcases, as well as ideas and experiences of their times as start up businesses in the UK Technical Sector.

Highlights included Andy McLoughlin from Huddle who shared on ‘How to hire a team of peers’ (that’s ‘peers’ not ‘Pierce’ – there really was no need for the smug mug of Mr Morgan, thank you). 

Leisa Reichelt from Disambiguity gave some fab, short and punchy rules to abide by when trying to maximise website usability and William Reeve, one of the entrepreneurs behind the wildly successful, talked about his financial road to success.  We were all ears.

The funniest part of the day?  When the audience’s heckling of the panellists via the live Twitter feed beamed to the huge screen behind them threatened to take over as the floor show. 

Belated congratulations, by the way, to the delegate who used this part of the conference to Twitter about the fact that he’d just asked a beautiful woman techy person to marry him.  Not sure if this was during the lunch break, and whether she said yes, but there you go – it was that kind of day.

And the most cringe-worthy part of the day?  It had to be the orchestrated none-debate from the panel of otherwise successful women tech entrepreneurs.  The topic was ‘How can we get more women involved in tech start ups?’ but no sensible conclusions were reached.  A subject worthy of more structured and sensible debate at another time, certainly. 

My tuppence?  At least this was one gig where the queue for the girl’s toilets was shorter than the boy’s.

So well done to the effervescent Mike Butcher from Tech Crunch Europe, who did a superb job marshalling, chairing, cheer leading and generally buzzing the event along. 

Rock on.



Is RSS really so simple?

September 17, 2008

RSSI often find myself talking to people about technology and increasingly it feels like people don’t have a clue what I’m talking about! I’m trying hard not to take this personally and instead, I’m blaming the technology for this phenomenon. Put simply… there’s just too much of it!

In order to right this wrong I thought I’d give my own (unique and possibly inaccurate) take on what some of the technology out there is and how it can be used. I’ll start with an easy one… RSS.

Except it’s not so easy given that the technology is one that doesn’t even have an agreed name! I’ve heard it called Real Simple Syndication, Rich Site Summary and even Remote Site Syndication but the upshot of it is that RSS is a format for delivering regularly changing web content. Many news-related sites, weblogs and other online publishers syndicate their content as an RSS Feed to whoever wants it.

The key thing for me with RSS is that it is ‘opt in’ technology so that you can decide what content you would like to see, rather than relying on marketing departments blanket bombing you with what they want you to know. You pick and choose.

With RSS you can decide that you want the latest news from the BBC, plus the stock market quotations for your top 10 stocks (maybe not a great idea these days!) pushed to your desktop on an hourly, weekly or daily basis. That means that when you want to ‘top up’ on information, you just go to your desktop, email client or web browser and its all there.

So far RSS sounds a bit geeky and I have to confess that for a long time I struggled to see the point of it but these days I use iGoogle and have all sorts of RSS feeds that I’ve chosen ‘feeding’ me every day. This means that rather than browsing 10 or so sites every day, I get the top information from each and sift through it in seconds.

At Learning Pool we’re excited about RSS. With our brand new website you can subscribe to an RSS feed for our latest news as well as our latest blog.  This means that you can stay current on what is happening at Learning Pool and make the very best use out of your subscription.

So how would I use RSS if I were working in a council? 

Well, I would use it to add value to my communications. Let’s face it the hardest thing is getting eyeballs online so anything that reminds those eyeballs that you are still there has got to help. If it were me I’d have RSS feeds on the corporate intranet (I’d also talk to IT about pushing these onto people’s web browsers without them knowing!). I’d also have RSS feeds coming into my Learning Pool DLE to ‘liven’ it up a bit and then I’d run competitions where people can only know the answer if they’ve seen the feed.

Once I’ve got people using it, I’d be communicating everything I was doing about new courses, new e-learning, workshops and mentoring to my users and watching my usage go through the roof!

Want to know more?   Check out wikipedia and What is RSS? and, of course, our own FAQ’s.

Next entry on demystifying technology will be on WIKIs – but only if you comment on this one… so get typing!