Thursday, 18 April 2013

London Girl Geeks Dinner

So I went to the London Girl Geeks Dinner last night. It was held on the Google London Campus which seems to be some sort of space set up by Google as a startup incubator. I would be interested to learn a bit more about that but the focus last night was on the GGD.

Atlassian sponsored the food and drink last night and muggins here was the speaker. Not sure how it went as I wasn't allowed to use slides so instead I pulled out my bag of tricks and talked though the decision making process for which equipment I bring to run my team from remote locations. I was also utterly shattered from all of the running around I've been doing lately (ACCU conference in Bristol, etc.) and hadn't had any sleep the night before. Still, there were some excellent questions from the audience.

To cap it off, Atlassian presented me with an iPad so now I'm having enormous fun setting it up, installing applications, etc. This will definitely be better for running a project remotely. Don't get me wrong, the kindle was sufficient to get the job done BUT having a bigger screen makes it easier to run the management dashboard, it's easier to use the onscreen keyboard, the web browser is faster and more responsive and it's far more convenient to have the cellular connection built in rather than juggling a mifi or tethering via my phone (which is expensive, burns up phone battery and doesn't work with the iPhone/kindle combination).

There was a great deal of interest in the tech that I use, particularly the powerbars. Quite a few of the gals hadn't seen them before and my point was that they are enormously useful in everyday life, not just when in remote locations. It's always wise to have backup power. I also passed on the point that you have to be careful with li-on batteries and that it's best to have 2 spares and alternate using them - when we hear stories of li-on batteries melting down or blowing up it's usually because they have been used too soon after charging. You should have two that you alternate using so that they have time to sit after charging (tip of the hat to my baby bro Andrew for that info).

The USB dongle that I use for transferring data/files/photos from an SD Card to main machine was also a piece of kit that some hadn't seen before. I use it so that I'm not burning up battery on my camera or other peripheral when I want to transfer items. It's tiny and cost me the princely sum of ~£2.75 so definitely a worthwhile investment.

Another question from last night was "Why don't you use a satellite phone?". I have had this one before (actually, I may have to compile an FAQ) and it's a good question. After all, connectivity can be rather problematic and a satellite phone would certainly reduce the risk of not being able to connect to my team. The answer is, I would love to have/use a satphone but my budget prevents it. If some company like Garmin would like to donate one then that would be awesome but even then  that is just offsetting the cost of the basic equipment. The cost of actually using a satellite connection is still a major consideration.The cost of a phone that works well for both voice and data (as a satellite modem) including a minutes/data bundle would be ~£1500. Realistically the most cost-efficient thing would be to get a satphone sleeve adapter for my iPhone but between that and a bundle of minutes for voice we are still talking about £600-700. Either way we are talking about crazy money and as I pay for my own equipment, that's a big NO. If someone would like to sponsor/donate a satellite phone then this may change and I'm certainly willing to try this method of connectivity.

Anyway, many thanks to Atlassian for the iPad, it will almost certainly make managing my team easier. Now I just have to find a new team! Speaking of Atlassian, I will be at their London RoadTrip in Camden tonight. I'm looking forward to it as there are new versions of a bunch of their tools that have come out recently and I'm quite interested to see what has changed and what new functionality is available. Expect a report from me tomorrow although I am also heading up to the National Museum of Computing tomorrow so results of that visit may supersede tonights event.

Speaking of TNMOC, I have just downloaded and installed their smartphone app  which looks fun. It has a floorplan of the museum, highlights of the displays, events, etc. but I think they missed a trick in that there is no button to make a donation. Until that is rectified though, you can use the button to the right on this screen to make a donation to TNMOC. Don't hesitate, do it now. Remember that 100% of the funds that I raise go to the museum, I do not use my fundraising as a mechanism to subsidise my trips or the technology used on those trips.

Furthermore, I've just learned that the ground rent that the museum pay has been raised to £75,000/year so it's more important than ever that we reach in our pockets and help to preserve our computing heritage.

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