Now that I've realised that it doesn't clash with the next CHASE (Cambridge Hi-Tech Association of Small Enterprise) event, I'm off to London tomorrow night to attend the inaugural Open Rights Group event - 'Digital Rights in the UK: Your Rights, Your Issues’.
Seeing as I managed to sign up on Friday, there are probably still spaces available, but there'll no doubt be some form of write-up of my thoughts after the event if anyone's interested.
PeerBackup edges ever nearer to completion. I've just made the fifth beta release, after fixing a mixed bag of bugs: a couple of crashes (basically if you cancelled things in the middle of a backup or a restore); a few less serious problems; and some fit and finish items for the user interface.
There are still a handful of bugs left to fix, and the big thing left to do is change the name - PeerBackup isn't quite accurate yet from a geeky point of view, and doesn't mean anything to non-geeks, so it'll be changing before the big release (PeerBackup was always just a working title anyway). More on that no doubt when I start changing the code to the new name, as then I'll be 100% sure what the new name will be, rather than the 99% sure I am now...
That means there'll probably be one more beta release, but I don't think there'll be any more after that. So it's the final call to get a sneak preview!
A while back, I signed up for the Stormhoek blogger's wine freebie. Not the initial round, as I'm not that into wine, but there's a limit to the amount of time I can pass up free alcohol...
I ended up not blogging about it when the bottle arrived because I didn't think I had anything much to say about it. It's pretty nice wine, and I'd consider buying some if it was on sale somewhere when I was buying wine. I found it quite drinkable, which I guess is an achievement given that (1) I don't really drink wine, and (2) I much prefer red wine, and this was white.
To be honest, I was most impressed with the protective polystyrene box it arrived in :-)
One thing that seemed a little odd at the time, and in the light of Hugh's post about the issue seems even odder, was the labelling.
The blogger's wine freebie bottles all come with a personalised label featuring your name and blog, and a little booklet - "Wine Blogging as Marketing Disruption". Just under half of the booklet is devoted to what makes the wine special (with the rest being about how the marketing approach is revolutionary) and apparently it's because "Freshness matters". To quote from their booklet:
"Hence the Stormhoek 'Ultimate Freshness Indicator' on the back of the bottle. It's that little dial that tells you when the wine you're holding in your hand is at its freshest i.e. when is the best time to drink it.
"This is the logical next step from the screwcap. It seems pretty idiotic to spend all this time making wine and not letting your customers know when the best time to drink it is.
Now, I don't know anything about the freshness of wine, but to me it seems pretty idiotic to spend all this time going on about a freshness indicator and then not include one on the bottles you send out to get people talking about your wine.
Unless of course Hugh is a marketing genius and realised that omitting the label from my bottle would be the only way to get me to talk about Stormhoek...
This year's Oktoberfest (that's the one I host, rather than the proper one Germany) was a couple of weeks back now, but things have been a bit busy and I've only just got round to posting up the photos.
Not many photos taken, at least not on my camera. As usual, it was a good laugh, although I seem to get less time on the karaoke these days... it must be that everyone else is overcoming their reluctance to have a go!
After dropping our bags off at the Days Inn (nothing special, but fairly new and convenient for the city centre) late on Friday morning we headed round the corner to the superb Crown bar for the best pint of Guinness I've ever had (see photo).
The stout was accompanied by some rather tasty sausages and champ, as recommended by my housemate, which meant that we could ensconce ourselves in one of the snugs. It felt like we had our own private room in the pub, with a bell to summon the waitress to order our food and bring more beer - fantastic!
Given that we spent the rest of the day drinking, I felt remarkably well on Saturday morning - all set for my first day at the races. Down Royal racecourse is twenty minutes drive or so outside of Belfast, so it was a short minibus trip before we were caught up in the excitement of the racing.
However, there was to be even more drama before the afternoon was out. Shortly before the third race, we were all ushered from the grandstand and onto the racecourse itself. From there, we spent half and hour or so watching as the race security and the police searched the area. At that point it was announced over the PA that racing was being abandoned and the police helicopter (which had landed earlier) took off and flew up and down the course advising us to move down to the exit.
As we made our way out of the racecourse there were rumours (later proved correct) that a number of suspect devices had been found, and more and more emergency vehicles could be seen arriving (when we left there were police cars, fire engines, three bomb disposal armoured Land Rovers and a couple of larger bomb disposal vans). However, the evacuation was calm and measured - the main problem for everyone was the gridlock on the road back to Mazetown. We didn't realise until we saw the front page of the local paper the next day just how big an incident it had been.
The evening saw us back to more normal stag do activites - just the general drinking and enjoying the Belfast nightlife. Ordinary, but lots of fun.
Finally, on Sunday there was just enough time for a group of us to take in the open-top bus tour of the city before heading back to the airport. It was a very interesting tour, although it felt a bit different to the similar one that I've been on in Cambridge for in addition to being shown the historic buildings, shipyard where RMS Titanic was built, etc., the tour took us round the areas most visibly involved in the Troubles.
We got to see just how close the two communities are geographically; often in adjacent streets which are separated by Peace Lines - 20-odd foot high fences with gates in them manned by police. The gates get closed at 6pm every day, and are closed for the whole weekend. It was surprising how little of this I was aware of, despite having watched documentaries on the Troubles, and seen items on the news whilst growing up. The murals and a lot of the names were familiar (Falls Road, Shankill Road...) but the Peace Lines and fortifications of the Orange meeting hall and the like provided real food for thought.
It's all still quite recent, so it felt a bit uneasy... voyeuristic almost to be touring through in a sight-seeing bus, down terraced streets where people were just going about their day: coming out of church; washing the car; playing with their friends. But, I did get a much better idea of what Belfast has been through.
FeedTier is a new service (in beta mode, as is traditional for Web 2.0 apps :-) which tries to provide RSS feeds for websites that don't provide them themselves.
As I've been wanting to get gig listings in my RSS reader for years now, I figured that'd be a good test for it. It doesn't fare well on The Junction's "What's on" page, presumably because the "book now..." link appears before the "more info..." one. At least, that's my guess given that the Corn Exchange's listing fares better.
So, if anyone else is interested, here are the links for some of the local venues: