Library of Congress publishes photos on Flickr

The Library of Congress has published over 3,000 historical photographs from two of its most popular collections on Flickr in “The Commons,” a project aimed at creating a rich database of photos from public collections and civic institutions.Photos from the George Grantham Bain Collection and the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information were chosen for display online due to their popularity on the Library of Congress site, and their freedom from copyright restrictions.

By posting these photos, the Library hopes to not only increase their visibility, but also increase their value through social tagging and community input. The Bain collection has minimal identifying information, and the FSA/OWI collection has only some subject indexing, so comments and tags are encouraged.

The Library is also open to suggestions for which future collections to post, and according to the FAQ, many already have photos of the American Civil War in mind.

You can check the photos out at:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/Library_of_Congress

National Geographics Best Science Images of 2007

A striking image of seaweed shows the complexity of even the simplest organisms.

Seen here is Irish moss—Chondrus crispus—a common Atlantic red alga that is routinely harvested for its carrageenan. The chemical is used as a thickener in many processed foods.

Andrea Ottesen of the University of Maryland’s Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture shared a first place prize in the photography category of the 2007 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge for the natural light photo.

The awards are given out each year by the National Science Foundation and the journal Science for the imagery that best conveys complex scientific information and concepts.

Read more about National Geographics Best Science Images of 2007 here.

The Future of Web Apps London October 2007

Well it’s been a busy and crazy week but I’ve finally got some time to tell you all about my 3 Days in London attending The mashup* demo event and of course the awesome Future of Web Apps Conference and Expo which included the Live Filming of Episode 118 of Diggnation and the Carsonified Relaunch Party! 😀

Unfortunately I didn’t have a laptop to do any Live Blog coverage 🙁 like I would have liked to so instead I took what notes I could on paper and took plenty of photos along with a couple of videos.

Mashup* Demo Event – Day Before FOWA

First up let me tell you about the Mashup* Demo event, In running order the following companies demoed, yes they only had 5 minutes to demo, this made sure they got to the point of why we should try out their site/service/product etc and why investors should invest in them:

3.30pm – Serena Software
3.35pm – Mobestar
3.40pm – 15 Second TV
3.45pm – BabelTV
3.50pm – WeLoveLocal.com
3.55pm – Rummble
4.00pm – Magpie
4.05pm – Inspire
4.10pm – Bondaii
4.15pm – Meecard
4.20pm – Serena Software
4.25pm – Rollsense
4.30pm – Fav.or.it
4.35pm – Kwiqq
4.40pm – Tipped
4.45pm – testcard.tv

I have yet to test fully every site/service/product on this list; however I hope to do very soon. The venue it’s self was great and I had some interesting talks with people such as James Dyer (TestCard.Tv) and Dominik Grolimund, Co-Founder and CEO of Caleido who has created Wuala, which is a new way of storing, sharing, and publishing files on the internet.

I would however like to make some suggestions for improvements, mainly on the after party hosted by Blognation, as part of their UK Launch of Blognation. Me and a few others agreed that some music would have been nice to go along with that disco ball they Club had, along with some food/nibbles as it was dinner time by then…

Other than that it was pretty good, I’ll be sure to be checking out each and every site/service/product in more detail. By the way Richard Brooks (Managing Director of The 100 Year Website) where were you – someone said they talked to you but we couldn’t find you again – hope you had a good time and that my invite for you to come was worthwhile! 😉

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The Future of Web Apps Conference and Expo (FOWA) – Day 1

Ok now let me tell you a little lot about The FOWA Conference and Expo.

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Welcome from Brian Oberkirch & Simon Willison, the FOWA Conference Chairs
We were first welcomed by Brian Oberkirch & Simon Willison, the FOWA Conference Chairs, along with Ryan Carson, co-founder of Carsonified (Carson Systems), they gave us a quick talk on what we could expect over the next 2 to 3 days at FOWA.

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What is the Future of Web Apps? We Discuss! – Om Malik, (GigaOM) & Michael Arrington (TechCrunch)
After this brief welcome to FOWA there was a discussion between Ryan Carson, Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, Inc and Michael Arrington, serial entrepreneur and operator of TechCrunch. In this talk they talked a about how web apps are changing the web and how we can benefit from them.

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10 Real-world Apps That Represent The Future of Web Apps – Ben Forsaith (Adobe)
10 Real-world Apps That Represent The Future of Web Apps was a fast pace session presented by Ben Forsaith (Andrew Shorten), product specialist with Adobe UK, in which he demoed 10 Web Apps that were using Adobe technology such as Adobe AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime)

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High Performance Websites – Steve Souders (Yahoo!)
High Performance Websites was the first developer track session of the day, and was presented by Steve Souders, who works at Yahoo! as the Chief Performance Yahoo!, where he has developed a set of best practices for making web sites faster.

In his talk, he talked about some of the following points:

  • Examples of High Performance Websites (Comparisons)
  • Importance of the backend
  • Memory Cache
  • iFrames
  • YSlow

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The Future of Search – Tony Conrad (Sphere)
The Future of Search was the second business/entrepreneur session of the day, and was presented by Tony Conrad, who is a Venture capitalist turned entrepreneur who co-founded Sphere (previously Yodel Search).

In his talk, he talked about some of the following points:

  • Sphere past/present/future
  • Sphere Widgets (as seen on popular sites like the New York Times, Pop Sugar, TechCrunch, Cool Hunting, All Things D, TIME, AOL News, GigaOM, Wall Street Journal, Access Hollywood, Captains Quarters, ZDNet, O’Reilly Radar and many more)
  • BlogBurst

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The Art of Attractive Yet Useable Sites – Robin Christopherson (AbilityNet)
The Art of Attractive Yet Useable Sites was the second business/entrepreneur session of the day, and was presented by Robin Christopherson, who despite being blind, uses a computer very effectively by relying on speech output to access the full range of mainstream software including email and the internet. So he has a first-hand appreciation of the importance of good web design practice to accessibility, which is great for AbilityNet’s Web Consultancy services which he manages.

In his talk he talked about how over 90% of sites are still illegal because they do not meet the required accessibility standards and how sites which are accessibility friendly are really easy to use for people who are vision impaired.

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*Lunch Break*
It’s Lunch Time, so I took a walk around the ExCeL Building and the FOWA Expo Hall.

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How User Feedback can Influences Design – Daniel Burka (digg / Pownce)
How User Feedback can Influences Design was the third developer session of the day, and was presented by Daniel Burka, who is the creative director at Digg and is one of the cofounders of Pownce.

In his talk, he talked about some of the following points:

  • Gathering User Feedback
  • Reacting to Feedback
  • Are the changes worth it?
  • Creating user feedback communities.
  • Anticipating areas of friction.
  • Digg Images Digg Images: A dedicated images section (with thumbnails). Still on track to launch in late October. – Kevin Rose

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The Architecture Behind WordPress.com – Matt Mullenweg (WordPress)
The Architecture Behind WordPress.com was the fourth developer session of the day, and was presented by Matt Mullenweg, who is best known as the founding developer of WordPress, the blogging software tool.

In his talk, he talked about some of the following points:

  • WordPress 😉
  • WordPress MU
  • WordPress.com VIP Hosting
  • Wordcamp
  • Equalities to look for when hiring people (e.g. Personalities, Ability to learn, Taste, Passion for space, Familiarity with Technologies etc)

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Building a Community (Creating and Running Communites) – Matthew Haughey (MetaFilter)
Building a Community was the fifth developer session of the day, and was presented by Matthew Haughey, who is best known as the founder of the community weblog MetaFilter, where he is known as mathowie.

In his talk, he talked about some of the following points:

  • Building a community
  • Community growth
  • Build for yourself first / Eat your own dogfood
  • Use Guidelines not Rules in communities
  • Tailor to community norms
  • Every community suffers a revolute eventually
  • Ways to avoid community disasters (e.g. Be transparent, honest, responsive. Have a dedicated place to talk about the site/product etc. Explain why you made changes.)
  • Always acknowledge your mistakes
  • And last of all remember to find out what’s illegal and where?

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Taking Your Application Mobile – Heidi Pollock (BluePulse)
Taking Your Application Mobile was the sixth developer session of the day, and was presented by Heidi Pollock, who having left Yahoo! Mobile, started to work as a contractor for Twitter and then more recently started work for the Australian start-up, Bluepulse, fulltime.

In her talk, she talked about some of the following points:

  • Bluepulse
  • Firefox Extensions
  • Developing Mobile Web Sites for Mobile Phones.
  • Optimising Web Sites for Mobile Phones.
  • Mobile Acid Test (http://jwtmp.com/a)

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The Future of Firefox and JavaScript – John Resig (Mozilla Corporation)
The Future of Firefox and JavaScript was the seventh developer session of the day, and was presented by John Resig, who is a programmer working for the Mozilla Corporation. As well as being a programmer for Mozilla, he is also the creator and lead developer of the jQuery JavaScript library. He is also the author of the book ‘Pro Javascript Techniques.’ And is currently located in Cambridge, MA.

In his talk, he talked about some of the following points:

  • The Future of Mozilla Fireox
  • SVG/Canvas 3D
  • OpenGL in Browsers
  • <video></video> and <audio></audio> Tags etc..

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7 Things You Probably Don’t Know About That You Can Use in Your Future Web Apps – Mark Quirk & Jon Harris (Microsoft)
This session was presented by Mark Quirk who joined Microsoft UK in 1992 as a senior support engineer for Microsoft development tools and is now the product manager responsible for Visual Studio and web development at Microsoft UK.  And also by Jon Harris who used to work for Macromedia but is now a Microsoft User Experience Evangelist.

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Lessons Learned From Launching Digg & Pownce – Kevin Rose (digg / Pownce)
Kevin Rose was up next for this last session of the day
In his talk he talked about some of the following points:

  • Saving Money
  • Making Money
  • Digg 1.0
  • Digg past, present and future.
  • Scaling
  • Chilling Effects
  • Hosting

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Live Filming of Diggnation @ FOWA London
What can I say about it – The Live Filming of Diggnation with Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht was more than awesome! 😀 The place was packed out with people wanting to watch the show – The Crowd went wild – And I had a front row side seat! 🙂

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Watch Diggnation Episode 118 London Here.

Carsonified Relaunch Party @ FOX@ExCeL
Yet more fun, a big thanks goes to both Kevin and Alex for allowing people to take photos with them! 😀

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Me and Kevin Rose! 🙂
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Me, Kevin Bing (uni student) and Alex Albrecht
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The Future of Web Apps Conference and Expo (FOWA) – Day 2

The Future of Web Apps (FOWA) continues on Day 2… 🙂

Developer Stage: Welcome from Brian Oberkirch & Simon Willison, the FOWA conference chairs

The Future of Web Startups  – Paul Graham (Y Combinator)
The Future of Web Startups was presented by Paul Graham, who is the author of On Lisp (1993), ANSI Common Lisp (1995), and Hackers & Painters (2004).

In his talk, he talked about some of the following points:

  • About Startups
  • Let the market design the product
  • However many acquisitions Google does Microsoft should do x10.
  • Do we still need Silicon Valley?
  • Do Startup Founders Need Degrees?
  • Will Colleges and Universities change?

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Predicting The Future of Web Apps – Edwin Aoki (AOL)
Predicting The Future of Web Apps was presented by Edwin Aoki, Chief Architect AOL.
In his talk, he talked about some of the following points:

  • Edwin’s Near Term Industry Predictions:
    • A new industry group to develop standards for building web apps and content for low-cost, reduced capability devices
    • Aol to announce a major push for html and javascript apps on the desktop
    • new mobile computing device with a modem os and open deve platform.
  • All of the above came true 10 years ago:
    • The Network Computer Reference Platform – 1996 Sun, IBM, Apple Replace Network with Mobile
    • Netscape Crossware 0 1997 apps build on javea javascript & html
    • AT&T/EO Communicator – 1994 – touch screen, handwriting recognition, live object embed, 33.6 kbps fax and data modem
  • Technology evolves, impetus the same
  • Build on Solid, Tested Foundations:
    • Storage – AOL Xdrive, Amazon S3
    • Message & Data Exchange – XMPP, JSON & REST based APIs to Open AIM
    • Publishing & Commenting – Atom
    • Idenity – Open ID, Open Auth
  • Web apps of the future need to run everywhere.
  • Learning from our past:
    • Small & beautiful beats large and clunky
    • Sweat the details, but don’t sweat infrastructure
    • Let the service provides do the heavy lifting for you
    • Standards and openness are important
    • But employ with an eye towards security and trust
    • Technology moves faster than society
    • It’s up to us to use it responsibly
  • We won’t need a Future of Web Apps (FOWA) Anymore, instead we will have a Future of Web Stuff (FOWS) or just Future of Stuff (FOS) – 5/10 years from now!

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Web app do’s and don’ts – Practical lessons we learned – Leah Culver (Pownce)
Web app do’s and don’ts – Practical lessons we learned Predicting was the first developer session of the day, and was presented by Leah Culver who is currently best known for founding Pownce with her friends Kevin Rose and Daniel Burka as a way of sending messages, links, files and events to each other.

In her talk, she talked about some of the following points:

  •  Thinking about technology choices
  • We could pick anything – made from scratch
  • Social as well as technological reasons factored into our decisions
  • Took risks to work with newer technologies
  • Why Django?
    • Django is a Python web framework
    • Yah! Web frameworks!
    • Documentation and readability
    • Auto-generated admin
  • Why S3?
    • Amazon’s Simple Storage Service
    • Pownce files are stored on S3
    • Less maintenance for Pownce
    • Inexpensive
  • Why Air?
    • Adobe Integrated Runtime
    • Works on both PC and Mac
    • Easy to develop
    • Encourages good UI
  • Do a lot with a little
    • Pownce has a tiny team
    • One website developer
    • Self-funded
    • Short deadline
  • Small Teams – we wear many shoes
    • Multiple roles
    • Learn quickly – I have had to learn a lot about everything
    • Dedicated
  •  Open Source Tools
    • Plenty of web application help
    • Someone has solved this problem before
    • … and they’re probably smarter than me
    • Lots of tools available
  • Use your Resources
    • Get some help
    • Documentation websites
    • IRC
    • Network and learn from friends
    • Exchange knowledge with other sites
  • Be kind to your database
    • Pownce’s databse is its main bottleneck
    • One MySql database – a bit embarrassed about, not a dba
    • REsponding quickly to slow querie
  • Caching – I’ve already done that
    • Memcached
    • Caching at page and object/list level
    • Cached our static pages since launch
  • Queuing – I’ll do that later
    • Taking a shorter note of a longer process to do later
    • We send notes via a job queue
    • Need to improve our queuing system
  • Limits and Pagination – I don’t need to do all of that
    • Notes list, friends list, recipicient list
    • Good user interface as well
  • Index – I’ll mark that
    • How would I search, set up database
  • Avoid Complexity: I won’t make the db do that
    • Some queries are just to complicated for a new web app
    • Consider if they’re actually needed
    • Usually good to avoid abstract or conceptual data display
  • Expect Anything
    • Young sites can run into many problems
    • Need to respond quickly
    • Can’t prepare for everything – stuff with come out of hte blue
    • Every web app is different
  • Keep Backups – because stuff happens
    • Use version control
    • Have a system to revert to code changes
    • Tract dependencies and updates made
    • If developing locally, backup personal
  • Duly Noted – Keep lots of data
    • Stats to monitor
    • Quantitative data
  • Community – Keep in touch with your community
    • Let users know what you are doing
    • Respond to bug reports
    • Inform users of bug fixes and new features
  • Friendships Matter – Social sites are all about friends
    • Strive to make it easy to establish, maintain or break relationships
    • Accurately represent user relationships
  • Prepare to Scale UP – It’s a good problem to have
    • Don’t prematurely optimize
    • … unless you work with Kevin Rose
    • Design for success
    • Accept that your code will change 

Thanks goes to Jenifer Hanen for the gap filling – check out her post here!

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The Story Behind The Facebook Platform – Dave Morin (Facebook)
The Story Behind The Facebook Platform was the second developer session of the day, and was presented by Dave Morin who is the Senior Platform Manager at Facebook where he leads platform strategy and community

In his talk, he talked about some of the following points:

  • Amount of active users on Facebook (43 Million)
  • Amount page views on Facebook (60 Billion)
  • Amount of people who have added an application – 80% of users
  • The Social Graph
  • Facebook Photos (Built in a week)
  • Facebook Events (Built in a night)
  • Developing for Facebook
  • Generating Revenue

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Preparing for Enterprise Adoption (The Future Of Blogging) – Suw Charman (suw.org.uk)
Preparing for Enterprise Adoption was the third business/entrepreneur session of the day, and was presented by who Suw Charman, a social software consultant and writer who specialises in the use of blogs and wikis behind the firewall. Suw is also founder and board member of the Open Rights Group, a digital rights advocacy group which aims to raise awareness of digital rights issues, to campaign against bad legislation in Britain and the EU, and to support grass roots activism.

In her talk, she talked about some of the following points:

  • Getting products out
  • Getting your products bought
  • Finding out what business want from your products and services.
  • Supporting your products and services.

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*Lunch Break*
It’s Lunch Time on Day 2, so I thought id go outside down by the water to take some photos.

On the ExCeL Victoria Dock Bridge I witnessed the filming of a film/movie/soap/drama/documentary… ehhh… no idea what it was but we were not aloud to cross the bridge until they were finished and as we were approaching we were told to be quite! 😛 I heard one of the actors say “Dial 999” quite loud….

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Click on this photo and Zoom in and you’ll notice they are still up there

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Putting Users First – Thomas Vander Wal (InfoCloud Solutions)
Putting Users First was the fourth business/entrepreneur session of the day, and was presented by Thomas Vander Wal, who is the The Principal and Senior Consultant at InfoCloud Solutions, Vander Wal is an information architect best known for coining the term “folksonomy.” He’s also known for initiating the term “infocloud”. His works has been with the Web and with information design and structure.

In his talk, he talked about some of the following points:

  • Focusing on real people
  • Tagging
  • Folksonomy
  • Magnolia
  • Stikkit

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Next Generation Visualisations – Eric Rodenbeck (Stamen Design)
Next Generation Visualisations was the fith business/entrepreneur session of the day, and was presented by Eric Rodenbeck, Stamen’s founder and creative director. He is a 10-year veteran of the interactive design field, and has spent this time working to extend the boundaries of online media and live information visualization.

In his talk, he talked about some of the following points:

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Comet: Making the Web a 2-Way Medium – Joe Walker (DWR)
Comet: Making the Web a 2-Way Medium was the sixth developer session of the day, and was presented by Joe Walker, a developer and consultant working on advanced web development techniques like AJAX. He recently developed Direct Web Remoting, (DWR) which has become one of the most popular Ajax toolkits for Java by making browser/server interaction intuitive for web developers. See www.drectwebremoting.com. He currently works through his consultancy, Getahead (http://getahead.org/), which is supplying a growing number of customers with AJAX and advanced web solutions.

In his talk, he talked about some of the following points:

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An Insight to FireEagle – Tom Coates (Yahoo!)
An Insight to FireEagle was the seventh developer session of the day, and was presented by Tom Coates, who works for Yahoo Brickhouse where he develops new concepts in social software, future media and the web of data. He focuses on the shape of the web to come and how to make things that thrive as part of it. He’s worked for many of the UK’s most prominent web companies including Time Out, UpMyStreet and the BBC where he ran a small near-term R&D team for the BBC exploring media navigation, annotation and distribution. A regular speaker at conferences including ETech, XTech, IASummit and The Future of Web Apps, Tom also writes extensively at plasticbag.org as well as running the experimental online community barbelith.com.

In his talk, he talked about some of the following points:

  • FireEagle (won’t be called this when released out of Beta)
  • Applications that could use FireEagle
  • Twitter Maps

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Air – Next Generation Development – Ben Forsaith (Adobe)
Air – Next Generation Development was the eighth developer session of the day, and was presented by Ben Forsaith, product specialist with Adobe UK.

In his talk, he talked about some of the following points:

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Best Tips & Screw Ups – Panel of FOWA speakers
This last session of the day was a discussion talk between Ryan Carson, Kevin Lawver, Lane Becker, Rashmi , Dick , Ted Rheingold, Simon Willison and Brian Oberkirch.

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Check out all My Photos on My Flick Set!

Here at The Future of Web Apps Conference and Expo

Well it’s lunch time and so far The Future of Web Apps Conference and Expo here in London has been pretty cool. Yesterdays mashup* demo event was also quite interesting, though I do have some things that I would like to see next time…

I shall be posting a full review along with photos of both todays Future of Web Apps Conference and yesterday’s mashup* demo event once I get home.

Don’t forget that if you fancy meeting up while I’m here today and tomorrow at The FOWA Expo that you can give me a call or text on 07944160953.

Going to see Daniel Burka’s “Design for web apps vs the web” developer session next, then I’ll see Matt Mullenweg (founding developer of WordPress) and his session titled “The Architecture Behind WordPress.com”.

Reading Music Festival 2007 Review

Hey all – did you miss me? 🙂

I’m now back from Festival Republics Carling Weekend Reading and Leeds Music Festival 2007 and what a great time it was, though I must say I didn’t enjoy the Sunday night riots in the camp sites too much, there were quite a lot of gas canisters exploding on fires and groups of people trying to sway the security towers, some of this was quite near to where we were camped in green, though luckily not to near, the majority of it was in the brown campsite, it apparently happens every year on the last night. Though Reading Veterans say it’s getting worse which is why quite a few of them are not bothering coming again.

However though I admit I didn’t like these riots, I’m not going to let it stop me from coming next year, which is why I have already bought my pre-sale Reading Festival 2008 Tickets for next year! 😀

This time I’ll make sure I bring some sun tan lotion though as I got quite burnt! 😛 Also I might bring one of them foldable/collapsible trolleys for carrying bags, as it was quite a walk from Green Car Parking to our tent in Green Camp on the Wednesday Night when the ferry boats stopped running 3 hours or so before they were supposed to stop.

Anyhow now that I’m back I better start catching up on my emails, blog comments and latest tech news as well as a ton of other stuff…

Roll on Carling Weekend Reading and Leeds Music Festival 2008!!!

By the way why not check out here my Reading Festival 2007 Flickr Photo Set.

Blogging Live from Live Earth London

I’m not sure how much blogging I will be doing today at the Live Earth Music Concert at Wembley Stadium in London, but I’ll try and do what I can from my MDA Vario II PDA Mobile Phone. Because of course I’ll be trying to enjoy the concert more than actually trying to blog about it live. If laptops were allowed that would be a diffrent mattter! 🙂

That said I’ll keep a flickr stream going at http://www.flickr.com/photos/darrenstraight and there’s always http://liveearth.uk.msn.com which is probably your best bet for live video streams of the Live Earth Concert.

Update 13:30: Let Live Earth London begin. 😀

Update 14:45: Live Earth London is rocking the world! 😀 Check out my Live Earth London Flickr Stream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/darrenstraight and of course don’t forget http://liveearth.uk.msn.com.

Update 16:15: Woo Hooo Black Eyed Peas

Update 16:30: Duran Duran and Red Hot Chili Peppers up soon!

Update 19:30: Goooo onnnnn Spinal Tap, you Rock. 😀

Update 19:55: James blunt up next! 😉

Update 20:20: Shake them bodies Pussycat Dolls. 🙂

Update 21:20: Final two acts up soon – Foo Fighters and Madonna.

Third and last UK Microsoft Student Partners Event for 2006/2007

I’m now back home from Cambridge after attending the third and final Microsoft Student Partners (MSP’s) Event for 2006/2007. And what can I say, other than it was absolutely great it’s just a shame it was the last event for the MSP’s of 2006/2007.

I arrived in Cambridge yesterday at around 9:00 as myself and Ryan (a MSP) were going to do some shopping before we needed to be at the Microsoft Research Labs Building at 12:00.

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However this didn’t quite go to plan as unfortunately Ryan’s trains were delayed. So he ended up arriving at Microsoft Research Building just in time to catch the end of lunch which was from 12:00 – 13:00. It also turned out that while I was exploring Cambridge that Grant (a MSP) was actually already at the hotel at the bar area. If I had known that I could at the time I could have joined up with him.

After having lunch and talking to fellow MSP’s it was time for our first Presentation.

Our first session of the day was “Introduction and Overview of Microsoft Research, Cambridge” and was presented by Fabien Petitcolas from the External Research Office. He gave us an introduction to the Microsoft Research Group at Cambridge as well as what other Microsoft Research divisions are doing around the world. As well as this he also talked about:

Our second session was “Systems & Network: Peer-to-peer networks” and was presented by Christos Gkantsidis a researcher from the Cambridge Systems and Networking Group. He talked about P2P Networks and how they have evolved. As well as this he also talked a little about Mesh Networks and how they are being used.

Our third session was “Machine Learning” and was presented by Phil Trelford from the Machine Learning and Perception Group. He talked about some of the stuff he had been doing within the Applied Games Group with Ralf, Thore, Onno and Joaquin. As well as this he also asked a MSP (Ian) to come up and have a go at Project Gotham on his XBOX360. This way he could show us the TrueSkill algorithm which is used by a number of popular XBox360 games to match up players of similar skill. You can find out more about Trueskill’s ranking and matchmaking algorithms here

After this third presentation we had a break so we could yet again discuss what everyone has been doing lately.

Our fourth session which was “Programming: Principles & Tools: F#” and was presented by Don Syme. He explained to us what FSharp (F#) the programming language is all about and how it could be used.

Our fifth session was “New Concept in the Home” and was presented by Tim Regan from the Digital Systems Group. He discussed what happens in his group as well as what we can expect in the future. Videos he showed included a video showing a Super Multitasking Phone which is quite funny, you can check it out here.

Our sixth and less technical session was “Recruitment Overview” and was presented by Peter Key. This session was about how to get into Microsoft Research and what the benefits are.

Our seventh and last presentation was “What’s next after MSP Life?” and was presented by Amin Islam and Fernando Loizdes, both of which are MSP’s. Basically they wanted to know what we thought about the Microsoft Student Partners Programme this year, so we could all pass on our comments to the next lot of MSP’s. There was definitely some good feedback thrown out here.

By this time it was now 17:30 and it was time for one more session, this was the “MSP Award Ceremony”, in which the top scoring MSP’s and hardest working MSP’s got various prizes. As well as this all the MSP’s got their Microsoft Student Partners Glass Award and reference letter.

After finishing all the sessions it was time to travel to the Crowne Plaza Hotel in the centre of Cambridge, some of us took our cars while others boarded the coach provided, quite a lot of traffic on the way to the hotel, but eventually we all made it.

Unfortunately myself and my MSP room buddy Will had some problems actually trying to get a room. Will arrived first and checked in but apparently they couldn’t find him on the system, only me. Then I arrived and as I was trying to check in but this time they couldn’t find me, only him.

We went upstairs together and tried the key cards but yet again no luck.

So yet again did we went downstairs to ask for new key cards, this time the receptionist gave us a different room. Again we went upstairs, this time to try this new room and hurray the key cards worked, but whoops as we walked into a room we noticed that it was already occupied with someone else’s baggage in we quickly left!

Again we went downstairs and again they gave us a new set of key cards along with a new room, but yet again did they mess up, the keys worked but it was yet again occupied and this time it was worse the occupant was inside luckily we hadn’t got very far only opened the door to notice it was occupied!

Straight away we went downstairs this time not very happy at all, as we had already been up and down more than enough times and we had already been in two rooms which had been occupied.

Eventually we got another new room, and were assured it would be ok this time; to make sure of this one of the senior members of staff took us there and explained what the problem was (same last name as someone else). Thank god it was all ok this time.

But still I think that the Cambridge Crowne Plaza Hotel could have done better a better job at handling this situation, ok so one of the rooms was occupied by someone else with the same last name, but what about the first two rooms we tried various times to get into to, did these people have the same last name too. I doubt it, and if they did surely the receptionist should have checked this at the start. Also after our bad situation there’s a lot the Hotel could have done to make our stay a little more better after that initial bad experience, for example complimentary drinks or something of the sought. Considering the Cambridge Crowne Plaza Hotel is a four star hotel I’m disappointed they didn’t….

Anyhow after a nice shower and change of clothes it was time to hit the town with fellow MSP’s for our evening meal at an Italian Restaurant called “Strada”. This had very nice food I must say! 🙂

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We had all now finished our meals and it was time to head back to hotel, but instead of doing that we of course decided to head out bar/pub hunting. However this was quite a task. We even asked a tramp (who asked us for money for dog food) where there were places to drink nearby (we offered money “for dog food” in exchange for locations of pubs/bars) he told us how to get to a wetherspoons, unfortunately though we never found it. Funny thing is after walking around in circles we saw him walk past us again… maybe he tricked us! 😉

Eventually we came across some clubs but from looking at the CTV screens which they had outside it looked dead so we decided not to pay the entry fee, instead we walked on. After some more searching we came across a bar named “La Raza” which looked pretty good so we headed in. After some (or maybe a bit more for some) a group of us headed out in search of a livelier pub.

Unfortunately we had no luck so we headed back to the hotel in the hope that the hotel bar would be open all night, no luck there though, so after some pondering on what to do we decided that we (9 guys and 1 girl – emma) would head to Emma’s room. Here we had some fun and amongst other things (see pic below) we tried to see if there was any late night or 24 hour of licenses open in Cambridge.

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Unfortunately we were yet again out of luck eventually another group of MSP’s arrived but they didn’t bring any drinks with them either and eventually they left, by this time it was already pretty late or better said early morning and we were running out of things to do (not even the film could satisfy us those of you in the room know what I am talking about haha ;)) so we decided to split up and head back to our rooms.

Morning awakened us and it was time to get some breakfast and check out of the hotel so we could go punting with a treasure hunt on the River Cam. Though this wasn’t treasure hunting as we expected it to be, that is looking for things along the river, instead we had to try and decipher a bunch of cryptic questions which were asked on a sheet the answers were to be found on the way – that is we were given clues. One easy example being: Running water is head but what way is the water wheel.

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My team didn’t get many answers correct however we did have a hell of a lot of fun at punting, from having our oar stolen (replaced with a piece of wood) by another MSP Team to having our pole getting stuck in the mud a couple of times which ended up getting the better of Will. (see pic below)

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After the punting it was Barbeque (BBQ) Time that of which was very tasty indeed.

And then that was it, all over, the soon coming of an end of a great year of being a Microsoft Student Partner. All is left now is for me to wrap up a couple of off stuff I want to get finished off, like adding some tags to the photos I took of the event. Check them out here. (got to love the photos)

But before I do so, I would like to give a big thanks to the whole of the Microsoft UK Academic Alliance Team, thanks for everything, especially you Stuart and Matt! 😀

And also a big thanks to all the Microsoft Student Partners (MSP’s) for 2006/2007. You have gave me such a great experience, as per the Microsoft Student Partner Programme 06/07 Yearbook:

Ian MacGillivray Aston University
Will Perry Imperial College, London
Motti Strom Imperial College, London
Amjad Shaheed Liverpool John Moors University
Steven Evans London Metropolitan
Samuel Desborough Loughborough University
Andrew Cooper Nottingham Trent University
Grant Downie University of Abertay
Ian Saunders University of Bath
Paul Kiddie University of Birmingham
Tom Randell University of Bradford
Mike Holmes University of Derby
Richard Makepeace University of Derby
Nabeel Moghal University of Greenwich
Ben Hall University of Hertfordshire
Richard Tomlinson University of Hull
Zacharias Joubert University of Hull
Darren Straight University of Kent
Gavin Cox University of Leicester
Ryan Maxwell University of Lincoln
Mike Hill University of Manchester
Matthew Bell University of Plymouth
Emma Guy University of Reading
Philip Stears University of Reading
Steve Workman University of Sheffield
Chris Weeks University of Ulster
Fernando Loizides University of Wales, Swansea
Amin Islam University of Westminster
Paul Shemmell University of Wolverhampton

My 22nd Birthday and Second Blog Anniversary!

Hey peeps, there’s a party going on and you’re all invited! 😉

As today is my 22nd Birthday and 2nd blog anniversary. And yet again what a great year it has been, there’s so many great things I’ve done and so many new people I’ve met, it’s unbelievable. So for this blog post I thought I would provide you with some blog post links and photo links to some of my most memorable moments while being 21 years old.

To start off here’s a list of various things I’ve managed to accomplish while being 21 as well as some of thoses events and meet ups I’ve been too within the past year:

Next up is some of my most commented posts:

And finally here’s a list of all my Flickr Sets to date:

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West Malling

81 photos

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Holly’s Birthday Party: 7th April 2007

151 photos

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Bowling in Chatham: 5th of April 2007

56 photos

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Fun in London: 4th of April 2007

70 photos

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KITC visit to PC Pro Offices

57 photos

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Chinese New Year 2007 and Second MSP…

215 photos

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Designertopia 2007

138 photos

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UK Developer Launch of Windows Vista and…

57 photos

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MS UK EVO Launch + Night out in reading

64 photos

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Second BritBlog Meetup!

46 photos

The Pub Crawl Begins!

The Robert Scoble Pissed as Newts London…

217 photos

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Second Blogger/Web2.0 Mixer Redux

50 photos

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Flying over Kent September 2006

113 photos

Me, Eric and Nikhil

Windows Live Butterfly Meetup

35 photos

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Windows Live Dinner UK

16 photos

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London 21 january 2006

6 photos

But hey don’t go yet, I would just like to say a big thanks to all my family, friends and work colleges, you’re a great bunch, thanks a million, I love you all, you’re the best! 😀