Christian Heilmann

Refresh Edinburgh

Saturday, April 7th, 2007 at 9:58 am

I am just sitting at Refresh Edinburgh listening to Dan Champion explaining his new book review site project.

So far I am very much enjoying myself at Refresh Edinburgh. The location is very cozy and on the wacky side (massive Tuk Tuk in the room) and it generally feels like one of the meetings I had in the student union. The presentations so far:

[tag]Google Sightseeing[/tag]

James Turnbull and Alex Turnbull talked about their blog, Google Sightseeing. how they promoted it and eventually turned it into a book. It was a very entertaining presentation and a very down-to-earth explanation of what the benefits and problems of blog fame are. They also pointed out the learning curb I had to climb that book publication is a lot different to writing for the web. A very entertaining presentation.

Project management basics for busy geeks

Meri Williams, outing herself as a corporate whore (Ed: No pun intended, just repeating what she said) for Procter & Gamble talked about the largely unknown animal to the garden variety geek: project management. Meri explained some of the ideas of [tag]project management[/tag] methodologies and how a lot of them fail when your job is to cat-herd a bunch of geeks into delivering a product. I’d like to see a lot more talks like that as a lot of the frustration of our web developer jobs are not only technical but also stem from bad [tag]communication[/tag] or mislead leadership in companies. I found that being able to talk to PMs, and know what ails and drives them allowed me to deliver my tasks much faster and less stressful. Well done, Meri.

Flock

Tony Farndon showed off [tag]flock[/tag] as a browser for the social network geek and pretty much sold me to the idea of it by showing how easy it is to pull together your social network footprints and those of your friends from within the firefox based browser rather than going to the different sites or rely on add-ons. Seeing that using netvibes to read my RSS feeds giving me about an extra hour a day to play with I am ready to give Flock a go and meet the folks next time I am in the valley. My favourite bit about Tony’s presentation was that he didn’t hold back on the impression that he doesn’t work for Flock, but is a fanboy: “If you don’t like it, uninstall it!”

Edinburgh Menus

Andrew Cavers showed off his [tag]Edinburgh Menus[/tag] web product, which is a Google Maps based restaurant review and information site for Edinburgh. Having worked on Yahoo! Local it is quite amazing to see that someone put this amount of effort into creating a site like this and coming out with such a good product. I will try to get some people I worked with to talk to him and help him avoid some of the mistakes we did and barriers to avoid.

Microformats

Brian Suda, whom I wanted to meet for quite a while once again beat the [tag]Microformats[/tag] drum and showed off an XSLT-FO solution that creates business cards in PDF format from hcards. I am sorry to see that he ran into [tag]James Edwards[/tag] and me arguing most of his presentation about the inaccessibility of some of the HTML examples but was happy to chat through our different views afterwards. One thing is for sure, Suda is your microformats man and he deserves a superhero outfit with a long flowing cape and the microformats logo on it.

The business argument for web standards

John Sutherland from Mercurytide was originally trying to show the business argument for web standards but was so shocked of some things I said during my presentation at [tag]Highland Fling[/tag] about the pains to sell them on an enterprise level. I felt genuinely shocked by this and never wanted to dishearten anybody to talk about the benefits. This is why I will follow this up with a larger piece on the subject and will straighten out some of the points I brought up. I talked longer to John in the restaurant and the pub afterwards and hope he doesn’t give up.

Revish

[tag]Dan Champion[/tag] showed off his new book review site revish.com and exlained his decisions in methodology and design. All in all it was a very enlightening talk and it is great to see that someone else who suffered the development environment nightmare that is local government. [tag]Revish[tag] seems a very thorough product and I hope that Dan won’t drown in moderation nightmares. Get his slides, there is a lot of good information and ideas in there.

Groopit

Tom Griffiths unveils [tag]Groopit[/tag], a new social tool that helps existing
groups of friends do more together. Groopit is an idea I saw someone do at the internal Yahoo! Hack Day and it works on the premise that you don’t start with the hypothetical idea of online “friends” finding another but use real life groups and give them an online means to send each other messages and make decisions without relying on a phone and chinese whispers. There is a lot of potential in the product and when some kinks are ironed out I can see it taking off for certain groups.

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