Once again, rather than spending money on cards and postage I wanted to do something more worthwhile with it. Rather than just donate it to charity, once I've got my PayPal account sorted (they coped very badly with me living in Italy, and I haven't sorted it out since getting back) I'll be loaning $25 to the Vilma Maura Aguilar Fernandez Group.
They're a group from a village in Peru who will use the loan to help pay for their children's education and to invest in their businesses. The loan is arranged through Kiva.org, and the great thing is that once it's repaid I can loan the money to help someone else.
Best wishes to everyone for Christmas, and I hope we all have a great 2009!
Well, as soon as I claim that something is a tradition, I then go and break with the tradition. It's been another year since Karen died, but not an outstanding one for new music. I still have music on almost all the time I'm awake, but I'm in a bit of a lull when it comes to really appreciating it or liking new songs.
So, no music this year (for you at least - Marvin Gaye is wondering What's Going On? in the background as I write this)... just contemplation of how much has happened in the past seven years.
Another piece of news that first featured in my twitter feed was the fact that I won the "Bitchin' Pitches" session at Barcamp Liverpool when I talked about the Mazzini project. It's been great to hear such positive things from people about it, and over on the company blog you can read more about the competition.
In case you've spotted the assorted references to "#bubblino" in my twitter feed over the past few days, or if you haven't but like the idea of a bot who watches Twitter and blows bubbles whenever he's mentioned, say hello to Bubblino:
You can find out more about him by heading over to his homepage.
In the run up to Barcamp Liverpool I set myself a challenge, and was even stupid enough to spell out the rather ambitious idea here on my blog. I decided to prepare two talks: the beginners guide to Arduino I've already posted; and a second which would be about inspiring people to start a business, or work out what's "wrong" with Liverpool and fix it, or use technology to counter climate change.
I didn't want to steal two slots in the schedule if that would stop someone else from presenting anything, so I held off adding the second talk until late morning on Sunday. There was a slot free for the end of the day, which fitted nicely with my ideas of rounding off the weekend with something of a call to arms.
I tried to pull the possible threads together under the umbrella term of improving the world, but I think my current business-focus skewed things a little. Still, I hope the dozen-or-so people present take the general idea and twist it to their own experiences and passions, and that me rambling about doing great things does have some small effect.
I've done what I can, whether this is "the spark that started things happening" will be up to others.
As ever, the slides are on Slideshare. After the talk, Alex asked about the assorted business networking events I'd mentioned, so I've thrown a list of places that I find out about business events and networking onto the GeekUp wiki. Feel free to add to that if you know of any similar links in the NW. The other way to find out about more of the events I attend is to keep an eye on my Upcoming page.
This is the first of a couple of posts I'll no doubt be making about Barcamp Liverpool - this one being the easiest to get out into the world.
I did a session about getting started with Arduino physical computing boards on Saturday afternoon. I talked a little bit about what the Arduino boards are first, and then stepped through the ubicomp equivalent to "Hello World" and from that moved on to hacking a toy ray gun so that it would alert me whenever someone twittered about Barcamp Liverpool. I'll expand upon the twitter side of things more when I write-up Bubblino...
Here are the slides. When I was writing them I tried to make them make sense if you weren't at the talk, but if anything isn't clear then ask questions in the comments.
Great to see Merlin back on form. I'm glad I didn't unsubscribe during his dip. Go read it.
Last Thursday evening saw the inaugural Green Drinks Lancashire up in Preston. The Scholars Bar in UCLan wasn't the easiest to find (maybe a sign or two inside the building would help in future?) but getting on for twenty people had managed to track it down.
The mix of "professions" was a little different to Green Drinks Liverpool (next one is this Thursday), with more of a construction and architecture flavour, but the conversation was just as interesting. After initial chatting amongst smaller groups it evolved into one big group discussion touching on a variety of topics.
Amongst the interesting tidbits I learnt during the evening were that modern, efficient washing machines only have a cold feed because they use so little water that they wouldn't empty the water in the pipes to get to the hot water; and the Government's "Green Skies" accreditation for solar/renewables installers isn't necessarily much use - gear that has the accreditation is often more expensive (for no gain in performance) and so negates the benefit of the grants available to buy it.
It was also good to catch up with Be2Camp organiser Martin again. I'm looking forward to the next one, and hopefully it will gain a website sometime soon so I can point people at it... (hint, getting shown on the "official" Green Drinks Lancashire page would be a good start).