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.

displayboard

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!

Welcome our new sponsors Kotikan!

Kotikan

Thanks to Kotikan for coming on board as our new Sponsors.

Kotikan is Scotland’s largest mobile app development company with a 55 strong team of mobile solution experts, making meaningful mobile products in a wide range of sectors. They work with growing SMEs such as Skyscanner and FanDuel, charities such as the Edinburgh Fringe and public sector organisations such as ScotRail, the SQA and the National Galleries.

In 2014 they were awarded the ‘Outstanding Business Growth’ award by ScotlandIS and awarded the ‘Native Mobile App’ award by the British Interactive Media Association for their work with The Fringe.

A big part of their company ethos is about creating an environment that people like to work in. They offer flexible working hours, MacBooks for all, weekly wakeboarding sessions and quarterly hack days, making for a happy team. They’re looking for mobile enthusiasts for all departments; engineering, design, quality assurance and project management. Their Edinburgh office is located centrally in CodeBase.

New design, and asking the tech community for feedback

Hello,

At Open Tech Calendar we’re trying to build up the tech scene by connecting, promoting and making more visible events. We’ve heard some great stories from people who found their way into events because of us.

We’ve recently launched a new design with some new features. As always, we will continue to work on this. We have features we want to work on next and more UI/UX testing we want to do with users. (More details to come soon!)

We’re always open to hearing feedback from both people who attend and people who organise tech events. What can we do to make it easier and more worthwhile to list events? What can we do to make it easier to find events?

Please answer in comments or contact us.

Thanks,

James

It’s our 2nd Birthday!

Thanks very much to everyone who has supported us over the years. It’s fantastic that a small weekend project has grown to this, and we look forward to the future. We’re also now providing our group calendar platform to other communities, and we look forward to celebrating birthdays with Jazz Musicians, Cyclists and more.

For this post, I wanted to update a chart from an old blog post, “We are building a community of contributors“.

In Oct 2013, this was the graph of the 126 users who had edited events on the calendar, and how many events they had edited (with the admin account removed):

EventsEditedToOct2013

And this is the same graph of the now 206 users:

EventsEditedToJuly2014

🙂

See you at an event soon – or if your in Edinburgh tonight join us for a drink.

New Features Released

We are pleased to announce new features!

These have been running on the server since friday evening to flush any bugs out – we see a big dip in traffic during the weekend which makes sense as most tech events are during the week, but it means that we are the one site that should go live on a Friday afternoon!

These will be released as version 1.2.0 of OpenACalendar in a week or two and full release notes are here. But read on for a tour of the highlights. Continue reading “New Features Released”