Big news; Sheffield Digital will run the calendar from now on

A year ago, we announced that we were looking for the next people to run the calendar. And we are now pleased to announce who this will be: Sheffield Digital

We are even more pleased to announce that they are committed to keeping the calendar going as an Open Data and Open Source project, and they will be asking the community to get involved in running the calendar.

We started working with Sheffield Digital when they launched; they were looking to provide events listings for their community and realised we were already tackling that problem. We have fed events to their site and Slack channels for a while now, and we’ve kept in touch. When we started looking for someone to run the site in the future, they were a natural choice.

Since Open Tech Calendar was founded just over 7 years ago, it’s been run by the creator, James Baster and his company JMB Technology Limited. He wishes to thank everyone who has been involved and supportive of the calendar over the years and he is looking forward to seeing the next 7 years of the calendar.

When will things happen?

Nothing will happen for 2 weeks from today (up to Tue 19th October). The site will continue to be run by the current owner (JMB Technology Limited) and all data will be held by them. This is to ensure that people have adequate notice of this change before any change happens.

Will it just be about Sheffield in the future?

Not at all! Open Tech Calendar has always been for everyone, everywhere and this will remain the case. Furthermore, Sheffield Digital already have plans to encourage the use of the calendar across the UK and beyond.

I have a user account; what will happen to it?

We made a special blog post just for you.

Nice, how many zero’s on the cheque?

None actually; the site is being sold for a nominal sum. It’s very important to us that the calendar goes to a good home who will keep it running following the principles it was created with. In fact, the calendar has been running at a loss over the last year while we tried to find the right people.

What will James’s involvement be in the future and what will he do next?

In terms of the calendar, he will be around to comment on the project and help others as they start to work on it. He’s keen to see it succeed! But he will have no special status; Sheffield Digital and the community of builders that form around the calendar will treat his contributions just like anyone else’s.

Professionally, James Baster has been working for Open Data Services for a year and a half now and is very happy there. He has got involved in several projects around crowd sourced data, and his experience with the calendar has helped. He is still interested in Open Data around events and looks forward to trying to encourage that in the future.

What are the plans for the calendar in the future? How can I support the project in the future?

Sheffield Digital have written about this and will be looking for people all over the UK to get involved – see their blog for more.

In the meantime, the best thing you can do is make sure the tech events you know about are listed on the calendar! You don’t have to be the organiser to add them; in fact by doing this you’ll be helping the organisers.

So ….

Keep an eye on the blog; In a few weeks Sheffield digital will post to say hello to you all. Till then all we want to say is again thanks for all the support over the years, and see you at a tech event soon!

If you have any other questions … Get in touch!

Next: Read Sheffield Digital’s blog for more.

It’s our 7th birthday!

In birthday posts in the past, I’ve looked back to our launch or pulled out some stats about our community – but this time, I wanted to look forwards. We posted before about how we were looking for someone to take over the site, and while it’s taken time that search has progressed well.

It’s a difficult ask; there are many different tasks to running this site (from sys-admin, to programming, content moderation, social media work, outreach and answering questions). While people came forwards who would be amazing at some of those, we needed a good team who could make sure that all aspects were looked after.

As we’ve been talking to people we’ve also been tidying up a lot; we have now Open Sourced almost all our code (the exception being our anti-spam code), we have made sure it’s easier for developers to get started with the code, we rewrote our slightly shoddy deploy process and we’ve been documenting our content processes.

We’re not quite ready to reveal the new owner yet; but I can tell you they are committed to keeping it Open Data and Open Source. They are also keen to expand and involve the community fully in the project. We are excited to see what the calendar will look like for it’s future birthdays!

So, we will hopefully break that news soon – and when we do, we’ll be reaching out to lots of people, asking if they can be involved in helping the project in the future. Thanks to everyone who has been in touch so far.

And …. Happy Birthday, and thanks for your support over the years!

Passing on Open Tech Calendar – would you like to run it?

This is a personal blog from our founder, James Baster.

Hello,

I founded Open Tech Calendar back in 2012 – here’s our launch email. It’s just turned 6 years old and it’s been a really interesting time.

Coding a product from scratch and seeing it through years of real use taught me a lot and was a great experience. And working on the non-coding “soft”* side of support, UX and others taught me even more!

And it’s even better that I was able to do this working on something that people found useful and did use from the start. It’s been great to see the project grow. Thanks to everyone who supported the project over the years (That includes the various sponsors we have had too!)

But, I think it’s time for me personally to move on. My interests and career as a computer programmer have changed in the last 6 years, and I’m no longer able to commit enough time to the site.

I’d like to see the site flourish, and with that in mind it’s time to ask: would anyone else like to run Open Tech Calendar?

I think some concepts have been key to the site’s success;

  • We were always keen to be a directory that pointed to the real home of events online and not try and “take over” an event’s web presence.
  • We always let many people add events to the site, like a wiki.
  • We’ve tried to encourage events to release their own Open Data that we can reuse rather than making them redo work on our site, and from day one we had freely accessible Open Data from our site that others can use.
  • We had a plain and simple site design that tries to impart information as clearly as possible to the user with no fuss** – “time spent on site” was never a metric we tried to maximise. ***

I think that these things are unique points compared to other projects I’ve seen come and, in many cases, not survive over the years. I would really like the people who take it over to stick to these principles.

On the other hand, I know that when you pass something over you have to let go – you’re not involved any more, and it’s up to the new people what happens. And I’ll be very interested to see where they go; I don’t think I know all the answers and maybe others will be able to do great things that I didn’t see.

(A few years ago, I started the site Tech In Scotland and this is also for sale.)

Lastly, on the topic of selling, I think the site has potential to either make money or be an strong asset for some buyers. So how much is it for sale for? There isn’t a set amount – it’s more important to me that the site goes to a good home. The price will depend on who it goes to – I would be asking a group of developers to pay less than a big company, for instance.

So, there’s not much more to say. Again, thanks to everyone who has supported this project. It’s been a lot of fun and opened a lot of doors for me.

If you’re interested, get in touch. I’m happy to meet and discuss the project, and be honest about the weak points I perceive in the project and in the whole event listing game in general.

Thank you,
James

Some Notes:

How fast will this happen?

Almost certainly, not fast. Do think about this and get in touch!

What will happen to people’s personal data?

You know, one of the benefits of running a Open site is we actually hold almost no personal data! I highly recommend it.

That said, we do hold user accounts and run some email lists. If you don’t like the idea of your email address going to the new owner you will have a chance to delete it. (This is something we obviously offer anyway!)

Footnotes:

* “Soft” skills in quote marks as I agree it’s a terrible term, I’m just not sure what else to put.

** Though the design thing has always been iffy; while many people tell me they really like the simple design many people also say things to me like “It’s a bit …. 90’s?”. Maybe this is one of the things I was wrong about?

*** And also, no “Open Source” in that list of important things? While the site is currently Open Source – and it would be nice if that continued – I never viewed that as the important thing. The fact the site has and always had Open Data was far, far more important. ….. But people always said “Oh, yes, it’s Open Source!” and I got free passes because of that at times. So I’d recommend it’s kept Open Source, for marketing purposes. But if it went closed source that wouldn’t bother me. (If it went closed data, on the other hand …) Am I being too honest? I did say I’m happy to be honest with people – so get in touch!

Thanks to Nexmo for continued support!

Thanks to Nexmo for continued support! They provide SMS and voice services and virtual phone numbers to use them with. And also, phone number verification.

If your looking for those for your app check them out! All available with easy to use API’s, and toolkits for your favorite programming language.

It was good to see Nexmo staff at EuroPython. As well as giving talks Mark lead the lightning talk session – it’s great to see different type of events under one roof, and the lightning talks gave a different side of the Python community a chance to take the stage and shine.

I’m sure they will be at other events – find out more at https://www.nexmo.com/ or https://developer.nexmo.com/

Thanks for the support – we really appreciate it!

Welcome to new sponsors Nexmo!

Welcome to new sponsors Nexmo! Looking for SMS, Voice or Phone Verification for your app?

NexmoNexmo has all that via easy to use APIs. They offer virtual phone numbers to use with these services, and can also offer you information on any phone number.

Their developer site has SDKs in Ruby, PHP, Python, .NET, Java, Node and a CLI. But if you use another language it shouldn’t take long to code against the clearly documented API. It also has tutorials and videos of their talks at conferences.

Nexmo can be found at various Scottish tech events too, with some familiar Scottish faces staffing the stall  – good to see!

Find out more at https://www.nexmo.com/ or https://developer.nexmo.com/

Thanks for the support – it really helps us keep going!

Hello Alexa!

Thanks to Andrew van Duivenbode who has made an Alexa skill for Open Tech Calendar!

He’s blogged about it here – you can have a look at the source code here.

It’s great when something like this appears – both because our Open Data was just used for a fun and practical thing everyone can use and also great to hear about it! (One of the down sides of true Open Data is that it’s very hard to measure it’s use.) So if you’ve built something with our Open Data, do let us know.

 

Our 5th Birthday! And Open Data for the win

Last week was our 5th birthday, and we got cake from James’s partner!

We also saw a great story about our Open Data this week. ODI Leeds have just published the UK Tech Innovation Index.

Edinburgh and Glasgow came 2nd and 4th respectively, which lead to stories like this one from FutureScot.

And Data for this work came from 3 sources – Meetup.com, EventBrite and …. us! There is a good blog post with a full write up here.

Open Data is key to what we do and has been built into the site from the start. In this and our other projects, we have provided this, have tried to re-use it where possible and have tried to encourage others to produce more and better Open Data. So it’s great to see it pay off in something like this.

We’re looking forwards to continuing down this route over the next year – get in touch with any feedback.

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!