I finally got round to checking out Lanyrd today - I'd heard good things about it on the twitters - and I really like the service.

It basically is designed for conferences and meetups, that sort of thing. It allows you to add upcoming conferences, link to websites, Twitter accounts, hashtags etc. You can search by topic, location, attendees and speakers. It looks like a great way to organise buzz around upcoming conferences. You can also see what your friends on Twitter are attending and tracking, a really nice feature since I can see instantly the most interesting conferences coming up.

But the key for me is the coverage side of Lanyrd - after the conference everyone can add video, blog posts, slides, liveblogs, basically everything to the Lanyrd page. This is great because it allows crowdsourced organisation of discussion around the conference - not only what the organisers curate.

I found what looks like a great conference coming up in January here in Portsmouth - the Heart & Sole conference - which I'm probably going to try and get to, which I wouldn't have found without Lanyrd. And if I do write it up or record any video, I'll be sure to link to it through Lanyrd.

I did have a small issue - there's a "Subscribe to this calendar" link for places. For instance I want to subscribe to all upcoming conferences in Portsmouth, but the link is a webcal link - so when I clicked it did nothing. I think this is because I don't use Outlook or iCal, but Google Calendar instead. I tweeted about it and I got a great response pretty quickly, which sorted the issue (you have to copy the link and paste it into gCal). Really awesome that Lanyrd are looking after people like that.

The one thing I would like to see is RSS feeds as well as calendar links - so I can see when new conferences are added in my area. Hopefully Lanyrd can implement this.

Overall I really like Lanyrd and look forward to using it more...

The Freebees Challenge


Massively impressed by this.... @Documentally (one of the tweeters out there) hitch-hikes his way from Land's End to John O'Groats in just four days, with no money except for 5 Vodafone SIMs. He managed to get most of the way there using only his Twitter and Facebook. Really shows the power of networks.

Links for the week of 15-21 November 2010

My links for the week 15-21 November 2010

Funny Angry Birds (the very popular iPhone game) video...

I tweeted that I thought it made my week and it still makes me laugh. A Chrome extension that puts the hilarious Jimmy Wales (creator of Wikipedia) banner on every webpage

Dave Gorman writes a great piece about fake Children in Need Twitter accounts, which partially inspired my post about levels of trust on the internet

Another awesome funny video... This song has been stuck in my head all week

Get ready for that warp drive! Some pretty cool science though :-)

Very geeky article on how to start hacking your Kinect - be warned I understood about half of it, and I'm a Computing student. Really interesting stuff.

The Week's Links for 8 - 14th November

Here's the links that I found interesting enough to post on Twitter in the last week. I think this is going to turn into a more regular feature, probably every Sunday - I'm thinking a quick recap on the week. By the way, this is enabled by the awesome technology of which automatically captures all the links I post on Twitter and saves them in delicious. Techcrunch starts off the tidal wave of rumours about Facebook launching a web-based email client, supposedly on Monday. The interesting question for me is whether it'll allow people to sign up without an email address - something that (I think) will really attract young users, who are currently signing up with Hotmail, because of MSN chat. There's 3 hacked Kinect stories this week, because I'm really excited and impressed about it. The potential for really accurate motion sensing is fascinating. Depressing that I was taken in by the Lib Dems, before the election. It seems Clegg was planning to raise student fees before the election.

Quite a funny video of Alonso and Massa on a rollercoaster in Abu Dhabi (I'm assuming in the Ferrari World theme park). Not sure Alonso is really enjoying himself... I'd like to know more about this, but the web page is very bare with no real explanation of what it does, but I think it turns HTML5 into native phone apps. Which would be awesomely cool if true. An excellent piece on loneliness by Robert Ebert, capturing some of my thoughts and feelings perfectly Would want one of these :-) Badges for inbox zero! Report that David Cameron's "favourite" think tank "insisted that Thatcher's policy had not gone far enough" :-( Pretty cool webapp from the HTML5 genius Jeremy Keith, hacked together at Science Hack Day SF. More Kinect stuff - this guy has overlaid the live video feed on the depth sensor, thereby creating a pseudo-3D. It's pretty cool :-) Finally Matt Cutts, the web spam guy at Google, sets a open Kinect challenge offering $1000 to the "coolest" Kinect hack, and another $1000 to whoever makes it easiest to write programs on Linux.

PS. Sorry this post is a little late - lost track of time...

The connected house

Today's blog is going to be pretty short because it's really just a quick idea dump, because I'm pretty tired.

It's not exactly a new idea, a connected house - one that knows what's happens inside it, and can communicate this to the world. If you go back and look at predictions of the future (love this blog) from anytime in the 20th Century, you'll see the concept of home automation - mostly in the form of robot servants and helpers. While I think robotics is still a way off from this, we can build homes that are "aware" and networked right now - putting sensors on different things and connecting them to the internet allows great control. Andy Stanford-Clark has built a range of sensors into his home, and connected them to Twitter, so he can follow his house. There are services that'll do this for you, but they're massively expensive and not very customised. The Twitter house is build using open-source hardware, and some programming skills for much less. That's something I'd love to do myself (once I actually get a house).

Here's what I would try to connect up:

  • Temperature sensors - so I can adjust heating for energy efficiency.
  • Electricity sensors - monitor the amount of electricity I'm using, for the whole house, and for particular appliances.
  • Light sensors - so I can adjust lighting around the house, and maybe automate some lights.
  • Phone sensor - detect's whos called, and when.
  • Water sensor - to increase water use efficiency.
  • Broadband speed test - see my blog about this.
  • Doorbell sensor - so I can tell if someone's called while I'm out.
  • Hacked Kinect - for advanced motion sensing, maybe even detect who's in the room.
  • A screen - showing me real-time energy use, and other relevant information.

I'd connect this to not only Twitter, but to some sort of system for data mining it so that I could extract more information on how the house is being used. Maybe I could even incorporate some external things, to increase efficiency. This is part of another of my small obsessions, the Internet of Things, which is explained really well in this IBM video.

That's just a quick dump of ideas that I had, I'm sure that I could think up more. The hard bit is making all the data consistent and interoperable. I think I'll start small with a CurrentCost energy meter :-)

10 pence per tweet

I was an intern at the British Red Cross, earlier this year, working in the Digital Fundraising team to help develop their website. I was thinking about raising money for charity quite a lot, and especially new interesting ways of fundraising digitally

So when I saw this article in RWW I was definitely interested: basically a new service called Help Attack allows you to donate a certain (small) amounts of money each time you tweet (with support for "Facebook and more" coming soon) to charity. Now this is a great idea, but it relies on you to go to Help Attack's website, link it up with your Twitter account, set a donation amount, etc. This is (I think) a bit of pain for the average user - and it means Help Attack has to get the message out about the service.

My solution: charities do a "licensing deal" with Help Attack, so that the charity can put a simple "Sign in with Twitter to donate" button on their website (obviously with an explanation of what it'll do). This will then automatically set it up to donate say 10 pence for every tweet - or however much the charity wants to set. At some point bank details would have to be entered, but maybe you could set up an autotweeter with a link to the relevant site.

I think this'll even be pretty easy to set up for the charity - Help Attack could even build an API to make it more frictionless. I've seen some charities do similar sort of things before - for example using Just Giving as portal for donations.