Welcome to new sponsor Aspose (File Format APIs)!

Welcome to our second sponsor Aspose.

Aspose provide programmers everywhere with a powerful set of file management libraries and APIs. Aspose supports some of the most popular file formats in business, including Microsoft Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, Outlook emails and archives, Visio diagrams, Project files, OneNote documents, and Adobe Acrobat PDF documents. They also offer OCR, OMR, barcode generation and recognition, and image manipulation APIs.

These are available as straightforward API’s, or as libraries for programming languages such as .Net, Java, Android and more. You can get an evaluation license to test the libraries, and the API Service is charged on a usage basis, with a free basic level.

Examples are available on GitHub. As well as us, Aspose also support community groups worldwide. Aspose have been going since 2002.

They join Amazon Development Centre Scotland, who are hiring staff in Edinburgh. Thanks to both of them for support – this enables us to keep running and offer a open platform to everyone!

Tech In Scotland now lists news, tweets, online communities and companies!

Back in July we launched a companion site, Tech In Scotland. As well as events from Open Tech Calendar, this now lists news, Twitter lists, and online communities.

As well as the website, we also provide email lists and twitter feeds for each city – so it’s easy for everyone to get the latest info.

And today, we are starting to list companies! Anyone can add a company or edit an existing listing from the website. (All moderated.)

And we are drawing this all together on our new map!

It’s early days, and we’ll be working on this more as data starts to flow in and we experiment with how we can present it and see what people want.

We have seen several sites that collect info on local tech communities before, and with Tech In Scotland we want to be careful to take a step back and focus on what would be really useful for those people living in or visiting a place. Let us know what you think!

It’s our 4th birthday! And the power of Open Data.

Today is our 4th birthday! Thanks for all the support and great comments over the years.

For this birthday post, we wanted to mention how much our Open Data gets used. Events are posted to Slack groups, Facebook groups and email lists. Many other websites take and redisplay our events.

Including ….. us! We wanted to try something new with a very simple and lean UI, so we set up the new site Find Tech In Scotland and launched it today! Check it out at https://find.techin.scot/

The idea is this will be a simple portal into the tech community in Scotland. As well as events we want to list other things, and are already talking to several different sources of data we can include – watch this space!

But hopefully this shows the power of an open events platform. We are looking forwards to the future and as always, welcome your comments here or in private.

Thanks, and talk soon!


Proud to welcome MBN Solutions as a co-sponsor!

MBN SolutionsWe are proud to welcome MBN Solutions as a co-sponsor.

MBN Solutions will be familiar to some as the organisers of the Scotland Data Science & Technology MeetUp. Events in Edinburgh and Glasgow have explored technologies such as Strata + Hadoop, Spark SQL + Data Frames, Cassandra, Clojure, Apache Spark, Docker and IBM Bluemix in areas as diverse as sports, games, charities, retail, advertising and more.

MBN Solutions are a technology recruitment firm specialising in and taking pride in deep subject matter knowledge of the data science, big data and analytics areas. They are also one of the organisers of Data Talent Scotland, the one day recruitment event in Edinburgh that started this year – returning in March 2017. You can search their current job openings here or contact them directly here.

So if your looking for a new challenge, check out the jobs available at MBN Solutions or at Amazon Data Centre Scotland. Thanks to both of them for giving us the support we need to grow.

At Open Tech Calendar it’s our 4th birthday in a few weeks, and we’re looking forwards to the challenges of taking the benefits of our open “Big Data” set to new audiences. Talk soon!

Display upcoming events at your meetup?

Last night at TechMeetup Edinburgh, we tried putting up something on the projector at the start and during the intros. We put up a rotating screen that displayed all the upcoming events in the city for the next 40 days, cycling through each event every 15 seconds.


We were hoping this would let people see what was coming up in their local community in an easy way. We’ll continue to tweak the display to show information better, but were you at Edinburgh TechMeetup last night? What did you think?

Continue reading “Display upcoming events at your meetup?”

Before you criticise “hackathons”, don’t.

There are a lot of blog posts that criticise hackathons as a general concept, and without exception we think they all get one thing wrong.

Basically, the problem is people write about one specific practice at a hackathon and then use that to condemn all hackathons. In fact, there are many different and diverse ways to run a hackathon. So this is like trying a mango and not liking it, and then condemning all fruit.

Now, we have to be very clear we’re not saying hackathons are beyond criticism. Certain practices at hackathons can cause problems for some people, and this should be raised and discussed freely. But always try and do it in a way that specifically mentions the practice in question and don’t assume all hackathons are the same. Instead, maybe think about different ways you could run a hackathon that would help tackle the problem.

For example,

  • Some hackathons have such onerous terms and conditions that many people argue the sponsor is just trying to get people to work for free and then they will take the best ideas. This does happen sometimes. But not all hackathons do this.
  • Some hackathons encourage people to work all night. It is argued this excludes people with less energy or other commitments such as family. Again, not all do this – I’ve been at ones that encouraged you all to leave at 5pm.
  • Some hackathons feed people pizza all weekend. This is obviously not a healthy balanced diet. But don’t worry – many serve full meals and have fruit around.
  • Some hackathons focus on a business or startup plan. Some people argue not everything should be a business or a startup. Great! Some hackathons are specifically focused on social issues.

Basically, the term “Hackathon” is now applied to such a wide variety of practices that it has to some extent become meaningless. By all means, lets have criticism and constructive debate about certain practices. But don’t assume a particular practice you don’t like happens at all hackathons and write them all off.

Welcome to our new sponsors Amazon Development Centre Scotland!

Amazon Development Centre Scotland is responsible for devising and growing innovations for Amazon around the world.  From interactive UI design to large-scale distributed systems and machine learning, they do whatever it takes to deliver great products and experiences for customers.

They are looking for outstanding Software Development Engineers, Machine Learning Engineers (Applied Science) and Data Engineers to join their centre. Positions offer the opportunity to really make a difference to the business by inventing, enhancing and building world class websites and systems and working on exciting and challenging projects. Examples include: all dynamic and personalised merchandising for Amazon worldwide, personalised advertising and real-time bidding on ad exchanges and Intelligent Recruiting Systems, where they search the internet for great job candidates, analyse their profiles and intelligently match them to jobs. The technologies they use include Amazon Web Services, Java, modern JavaScript frameworks, HTML5 and CSS3, R and Python.

Based right in the centre of Edinburgh in the offices next to Waverley station, their developers, designers and leaders are frequently seen at local tech events – so if you’re interested in a new challenge, check them out!

New features, 3rd birthday … but it’s about people!

Over the last few months we’ve released a whole bunch of new features. The main one which several people have been asking for is following an area in the same way you could already follow a group. This means you can go to the page for Edinburgh, select to follow it, then get email updates when it changes or when there are upcoming events.

We’ve also had our third birthday in July! It’s great to see everything still going strong after all this time.

The new features (and version 1.5 of the Open Source software) was as a result of a lot of work we did over the general election for a website that tracked 1,000 hustings around the country called MeetYourNextMP.com. Now that’s out it’s time to let it sit for a bit, fix minor bugs and check the new features are working well for people.

Let us know how you find the site – feedback always welcome!

Tell people your event has a Code of Conduct!

The tech industry currently has a problem with diversity, and the effects of this hurt us all. We have blogged before about this  and many other people have written far more eloquently than us on this issue.

We said before and still believe there is no one single magic solution that will solve this, but a lot of different work at different points by different people.

One of the things that can help however is events having a Code of Conduct on record and having staff well versed in that code. Then everyone knows what is appropriate and when incidents do occur, there is a clear route that people can take to resolve problems.

So today we are announcing that we are adding an “Code of Conduct” field to every event on Open Tech Calendar.

This field will be optional and can be free text or just a link to a web page on the events website. It will be shown with the event details on the event page. But there will be no filtering, or special markers in event listings – the purpose of this is not to harshly judge.

We simply want to prompt event organisers and attendees to think about the issue and for events that do have one, allow them to highlight this.

For instance, check out TechMeetup Edinburgh’s next event.

Any comments or thoughts, please do comment below or get in touch privately.

Vote for us!

Just wanted to quickly pass on a spin off project we’ll be very busy working on for the next 75 days. Meet Your Next MP is a site listing all the hustings events for the UK general election, supported by Democracy Club and others.

All the changes we’ve made to the base software so far have already been Open Sourced. A lot of them are to do with making the software more extendable, but one big new feature is this:

You’ll be able to make a user account to follow one area, like Edinburgh or Glasgow and then receive notifications of any upcoming events or changes in that area. You’ll be able to choose to receive these by email or not.

We know some people just export the whole calendar into their personal devices, and this gives people who prefer email a way to do that. This is similar to the way you can follow a group at the moment, if you are interested in receiving all updates from one organiser.

Keep your eyes peeled for more features coming in 3 months time after the election!