With the White House, Number 10 and Royal Family Flickr feeds all publishing pictures from the Obama State Visit there are loads of great shots coming out. This one is from the barbecue in the grounds of Number 10.
Maybe I’m doing them an injustice and Obama and Cameron tended the coals all afternoon cooking the burgers, but somehow I doubt it…
Most times when a Geek Dinner is announced for London, it’s really not practical for me to attend. What with a journey of around an hour by train into the centre of the city, and then often a need to take the Underground to wherever the dinner is being held it’s really not practical to get there from work.
This week is a bit different. I’m on a course run by Developmentor, who host their London courses in a managed office block a short walk from Kensington Olympia Underground, so rather than a long train journey, the journey into the west end is about twenty minutes on the Underground. So when Ian posted on Twitter yesterday that he had had a couple of cancellations for the dinner that night I took advantage of being in London and headed along.
The host/special guest at the dinner was Betsy Weber of TechSmith who was in town as part of a trip around the UK, Ireland and France, and although I was vaguely aware of the company, it wasn’t a name I had come across.
Having said that, it was probably a fortuitous coincidence, as having taken a look at the website of the company, their product is really just what we’ve been looking for.
One of the issues we have at work is that users, like everybody else’s users, don’t bother to read manuals. They often end up learning to use the applications via onsite training as either a super user who has been involved in the development, or one of us in the development team travels around training the users. What we have been talking about doing of late is producing screen casts to demonstrate the software, hopefully cutting down on the travelling for face to face training.
Anyway, it did prove to be a good opportunity to share some ideas about screen casting, and certainly we can take a look at TechSmith when budgets allow.
Aside from that, like most Geek Dinners it was a real mix of people and provided lots of broad talk about technology. I was sat next to Ian, and we had an opportunity to catch up with his work with Silverlight. Opposite was Paul, an accountant by trade, but who also is involved in the regular Bar Camp events. I also talked to Julielyn, a friend of Betsy who was travelling with her and who runs a company specialising in Social Media and Internet Strategy. Sat next to me on the other side was Melinda who again is involved in BarCamp and Geek Dinners.
All in all it was a great evening. The restaurant, the Cote, a French restaurant in Soho had apparently come recommended from Colin MacKay – definitely a hit – good food and well priced. Having said that, none of us actually had to pay anything, as despite us offering to split the bill Betsy kindly picked up the bill for the whole evening!
I had my iPhone with me, so below are a few pictures I snapped during the evening.
So a few weeks after coming into office, midnight saw the high profile enactment of one of Boris Johnson’s election pledges, the banning of alcohol from all London public transport, the logic being that if you curb low level disorder it will help make steps towards curbing the bigger problem. There are needless to say a number of problems, in particular being that it will be the normal staff who will have to enforce the ban – however before the ban came in, there was an internet organised final party, mainly taking place on the Circle Line – and for many it proved the point.
If you looked at the news pictures earlier on, it was all good-natured enough, with people dressing up for the occasion, indeed some people dressed for a black tie occasion sipping cocktails. One participant, a banker was quoted as saying:
â€œI’ve come along with a bottle of Champagne because I want to show that you can drink responsibly on the Tube and not cause trouble.â€?
Unfortunately, that isn’t the way it turned out, and by the end of the night six stations had had to be closed and four tube drivers, three other staff members and two police officers had been assaulted and there had been seventeen arrests, proving to many who have to use the system precisely why drink should be banned.
Needless to say, whether the ban will actually be enforceable, or whether it will be widely flouted remains to be seen – this will probably be one of the first and most visible big tests of Boris Johnson as mayor. Equally whether the ban makes late night travel on the London Underground any more attractive remains to be seen – certainly if we’re coming back late from something in London we’ll tend to opt for a taxi to get us to the mainline train at Waterloo rather than using the Underground, although since more often than not we’re rushing for one of the hourly fast trains in those situations, we might well still opt for the taxi anyway!
Booking flights you do get used to schedule changes coming through, especially if you book a long way ahead, but usually it’s a shift of a few hours in the time of departure or arrival. I’ve just had one for our upcoming Canadian trip where Air Canada have shifted our flight by an entire day – apparently they’re not keen on flying from Edmonton to London on a Thursday any more… Will have to investigate, but we’ll either have to extend the car rental, or opt for a different routing on the way home.
This one has been circulating around the Canadian relatives… Of course the joke would work just the same if it was BBC News 24 and you substitute ‘London’ and a couple of British people talking about their snow crisis…
Thoughts from, and the lives of a Canadian and a Brit living in the UK.