BarCamp Blackpool

This blog post fell foul to my golden rule for blogging:

Never leave a post in draft for more than 48 hours

I nearly deleted the draft but it seems like a shame to waste it. There’s another Barcamp Blackpool coming up next month but unfortunately I can’t make it.

Read more after the break!

I decided last minute to book onto Lancashire’s first ever BarCamp (accepting – for the avoidance of arguments – that Manchester and Liverpool are no longer in Lancashire!)

Co-working, Collaboration, Virtual Boards and Masterminds – Paul Robinson

An interesting discussion to kick-start the day with Paul talking about the forthcoming co-working space about to launch in Manchester then expanding into how to brainstorm ideas for social change and turn them into real projects in such an environment.  The co-working spaces sound like a really good idea – having somewhere other than a coffee shop to work from for little money is very useful for those wishing to start a small business.

On Demand Timetables – Walter James

A fascinating insight into Universities in the Middle East and how Walter was about to programmatically generate timetables with a simplistic beauty. His system wouldn’t work at Edge Hill where there are far more variables but for the foundation courses they were running it resulted in 100% usage of rooms with “perfect” timetables for every student.  And all done in a few hundred lines of PHP!

Hello World on Amazon EC2 – Tim Hastings

I’ve seen presentations about Amazon Web Services before but this was the first time I’ve seen a demo of it in action and it all appeared dangerously easy!

Slate My Website – Michael Nolan

After deciding not to do a repeat of my PHPNW talk and not being confident enough in my Delicious Pecha Kucha script to run that as a session I went for a new idea. Slate My Website was the best name I could think of for something similar to Nick DeNardis’ EDU Checkup.

I followed basically the same format.  A “ten second test” where the website under review is shown on screen followed by the reviewer (and everyone else in the session) trying to recal what stood out. Next a browse around the site pointing out what was nice and areas for improvement.  Then a quick look at the source code before scoring the site on design, information and code.

Managed to get through four websites in the time:

Site Design Information Code Total
BarCamp Blackpool 85 65 69 219
BarCamp Manchester 2 55 80 80 215
Edge Hill University 78 85 80 243
Testled 75 65 60 200

Thanks to Rich Quick for reviewing the Edge Hill site. I feel a bit bad about scoring the code so low for Testled – the reason I gave was that the page was slow to load because all the JavaScript was at the top.  Loading via my 3G connection which puts JS inline in the page and compresses it makes page load much faster and the rest of that page was very well coded.  Their information probably also deserves a bit more than 65 – I was probably just being a bit slow taking it in.

An Introduction to British Sign Language – Lalita D’Cruze

Sessions like this surely prove that BarCamps aren’t just the preserve of web developers! In 30 minutes we learnt how to sign the alphabet, say what we do for a living, complement someone and even a few naughty words!  I can even remember some of it 24 hours later!