Posts Tagged ‘wifi’

Deliciousness: megalomania, logos, Tube map, paper abstracts, location, Freud and tech mistakes

It’s been a while but odd, weird and even occasionally interesting stuff continues to fall down the back of the internet and gets captured in Delicious along the way. Here’s the pick of the last few weeks.
  • Today I was caught red handed trying to blow up the worldmwah hah hah hah.
  • A well known Irish budget airline found that its blue and yellow “harp” logo had suffered an, unasked for, logo makeover.
  • The London Underground Tube map regains the River Thames and gets a version for tourists.
  • Are you the sort of person who shouts at the screen “that’s not right” when watching a film? You’re not alone.
  • Looking for a nearby wifi hotspot? A low tech approach can help.
  • Microsoft’s new Windows 7 OS has inbuilt location services; but are they up to the challenge of managing location safely, securely and with sufficient flexibility?
  • Submitting a paper abstract for a conference? This might help.
  • You’ve probably heard of a Freudian Slip; now you can wear suitable slippers.
  • If Jack The Ripper was alive today, would he use Twitter?

Posted via email from Gary’s Posterous

On Conferences, Chairs, Breakfasts and Wifi Crashes

Think about the following three scenarios for a moment …

Scenario One. You go to a conference. It doesn’t matter where or what the topic is but you turn up because you’ve been invited or because you’ve paid to attend. Breakfast is included in the conference package. There’s 400 people attending the conference but when you get to the breakfast table, there’s none left because they’ve run out of food. When you ask the conference venue why there’s no breakfast they throw up their hands and say “The company who provides our food assured us there’d be enough for 400 but only enough for 200 turned up. What can we do?“.
And now Scenario Two. Same conference. Same venue. But this time there’s only 200 chairs in the venue and you’ve got 400 people trying to cram into those chairs. It’s getting pretty cozy and people are ending up standing or going home. You ask the conference venue why there’s no chairs and they throw up their hands and say ”The company who provides our chairs assured us there’d be enough for 400 but only enough for 200 turned up. What can we do?“.
For both of these scenarios you’d assume that the conference venue and their outsourced provider would have a very quick, very harsh, very frank exchange of views and that it wouldn’t happen again because the conference venue would quickly become a laughing stock.
So now Scenario Three. Same conference and same venue again but this time it’s internet connectivity we’re talking about and internet connectivity of the wifi flavour. Or to be more precise, lack of internet connectivity of the wifi flavour. You ask the conference venue why the wifi keeps crashing and they throw up their hands and say ”The company who provides our connectivity assured us there’d be enough for 400 connections but there’s only enough for 200 connections. What can we do?“.
But with this scenario the conference venues are still in business, the outsourced internet providers apologise and do nothing about it, the delegates complain and nothing changes.
The last three conferences I’ve attended have had this problem to varying degrees. Conference number one had workable wifi for the first 30 minutes before connectivity crashed or the access point ran out of DHCP leases. Conference number two only managed 10 minutes after registration opened before crashing. Conference number three had no problems at all but that’s only because they didn’t offer any wifi at all and left everyone reliant on their own 3G dongles or mifi’s.
People in the tech community with far more reach and standing than me have written about this; TechCrunch wrote about the problems at Le Web and Joel Spolsky wrote about it as part of Joel on Software.
When are conference organisers going to get the message? Internet connectivity, it doesn’t have to be wifi, indeed it’s probably better if it isn’t wifi, is essential at conferences these days, tech conferences or otherwise. And if it’s a tech conference you need at least two IP addresses per delegate, minimum to cope with their laptops, iPhones, BlackBerrys and so on.
Until conference organisers make conference venues understand this and start voting with their wallets, this sorry tale will keep on replaying itself.
Photo credit: Leia on Flickr.

Posted via email from Gary’s Posterous

The Future of Web Apps? Bad Wifi, Booth Mobbing, Geo and Lots of Schwag

(This post was originally written for the Yahoo! Developer Network blog and was published there on October 5th; it’s duplicated here for posterity.)

You’re stuck in a room on the first floor of a venue with no natural light, people keep expressing surprise that you’re there, there’s a bizarre voucher system operating for getting a cup of coffee and the free public wifi is holding up far better than the venue’s net connectivity which is buckling under the strain of multiple laptops, iPhones and Androids.

It can only be a tech conference; this one is in London and it’s called FOWA, or the Future of Web Applications to give it its full name and it was held in the rather grand sounding Kensington and Chelsea Town Hall, near High Street Kensington tube station.

There’s a booth with some strangely comfortable sofas and chairs, a purple orchid, loads of purple swag, “geoballs” and a free wifi point called yahooligans. Sitting cozily between the PayPal and Vodaphone booths, this has been the home of the Yahoo! Developer Network and Yahoo! Geo Technologies teams for the last 48 hours.

I presented on both days as part of the University Sessions track. On Thursday I talked about “Place not Space; Geo without Maps“; which was somewhat incorrect given that it featured a guest appearance by Google Earth. Using Yahoo! Placemaker, I showed how you could extract places from web content and sanitise the content with YQL. Whilst it would be great if all the web used Yahoo! web services, we need to work with the rest of the world, so I showed how you could use the long/lat metadata returned by Placemaker to drive Google Earth.

Then on Friday I talked about how “Geocoding and Geoparsing are Easy“; I may have been somewhat economic with the truth. Geocoding isn’t easy and Geoparsing is even less so. This talk showed some of the pitfalls that frustrate us and how we need to model geography in real and colloquial terms and not simply structured and formal terms. Or to put it another way “we can make the internet work better by making it understand how we speak in the real world”.

Both sessions were really well attended, with people standing at the back during the Friday talk, which is a great thing for a speaker to see. FOWA attendees are a very geo-savvy crowd who asked lots of intelligent, challenging and pretty direct questions. There’s nothing I like more than an audience that “gets” a topic.

Back at the booth we were gently but firmly mobbed during break sessions which was pleasantly surprising, given that we were on the first floor. An entirely non-statistical review of the questions we came across on the booth showed three main trends:

  • Tell me about YQL and YUI - they’re really cool
  • Tell me more about this “geo” stuff
  • Is the wifi really this bad?

As an industry we thrive on a strange barter system based around the acquisition and donation of items of branded schwag. We continued this fine tradition with loads of “geoballs” and some much prized YDN screwdrivers. We also thrive on vast amounts of caffeine so it seemed only fair to run a competition with the prize of a coffee machine which resembles the robots that were used in the Fiat “designed by humans, built by machines” ad campaign. To win, all you had to do was guess the number of unique users that hit the Yahoo! UK network on Tuesday September 1st 2009.

Answers ranged from the hugely optimistic “a lot”, to some very precise, yet very wrong, figures, ranging from 20 thousand all the way up to an insane 2.3 billion. The real answer was 24,452,863 users and we were able to unite Raymond Tamblyn of Visa Worldwide with the coffee machine for his answer of 23 million.

And then after 2 days of no natural light, slightly crazed from too much caffeine and throats croaking from too much talking, the booth was dismantled, the purple orchid found a home and we stepped back into the fading daylight and hip shopping area of High Street Kensington and headed home for the weekend and to an internet connection that works.

Lousy wifi seems to be the hallmark of a great web event. Oh the irony.

Posted via email from Gary’s Posterous

Deliciousness: data, licensing, WordPress autosaves, cheese in space and lots of Nutella

More intriguing, interesting and just plain bonkers stuff from the information hose pipe we call the internet:

  • Starting off with a serious note, Ed Parsons, my opposite number at Google, wrote a great blog post on the knots that data licensing can tie you up in and why you end up paying more for a leased digital version than you do for the physical paper version.
  • WordPress started bugging me about an auto-saved version of a blog post I didn’t want to keep but couldn’t get rid of. Turns out there’s no way to do this from the WordPress dashboard but some MySQL hackery did the trick.
  • I am, and am VERY badly affected by being in close proximity to WiFi and other microwave transmission sources. Not that I’d expect you or anyone else who isn’t adversely affected to believe me“. The rest of the story on the Daily Telegraph blog is priceless.
  • Ofcom confirmed what anyone with the UK ADSL line already knows, that the average UK broadband speed is just over half of what’s being advertised and paid for.
  • A US highway exit sign got every word misspelled, apart from the word “exit”.
  • Forget putting men on Mars or getting the Space Shuttle working; we put cheese into space, tracked it, lost it and found it again. Makes you proud to be British.
  • Someone likes Nutella. A lot.
  • And finally, if your iPhone gets a text message containing a single square character. Turn it off. Turn it off now.