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”

Welcome our new sponsors Amazon Development Centre Scotland!

Welcome aboard to our new sponsors Amazon, specifically their Scottish Development Centre based in Edinburgh’s central Waverley Gate.

amazondcs

Amazon Development Centre Scotland is responsible for devising, creating and growing major features and websites for Amazon worldwide. From interactive UI design to large-scale distributed systems and machine learning, they do whatever it takes to deliver great experiences. Their developers, designers and leaders are frequently seen at local tech events.

They are looking for outstanding Software Development Engineers, Machine Learning Engineers and Software Development Managers 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, the Amazon Storyteller app which creates storyboards from movie scripts 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.

Thanks to them and FanDuel for sponsoring Open Tech Calendar. We’re only going to have 2 sponsors, so that’s the lot. Their help in ensuring we have time to develop and grow this project is much appreciated.

On which note, more new features are coming very soon … but of course, because we’re Open Source any excitement about what they are is just ruined.

Welcome our new sponsors FanDuel!

Welcome aboard to our new sponsors FanDuel!

FanDuel

FanDuel specialize in one day leagues for American sports. Players can play against other users in any of the 12,000+ leagues offered per day, with entry fees ranging from $1 all the way up to $5,300. FanDuel pays out up to $1,000,000 per day in cash prizes.

FanDuel is a US company employing 82 people with most of it’s engineering, development, and design teams based in Edinburgh. Currently in TechCube, they are about to move to new offices in central Edinburgh.

Their development teams use agile techniques and continuous deployment with testing to create a fantasy sports engine that handles 3 million entries a week on average, with over 25 thousand of those per hour at busy times. The core technologies are normally Python, Java and JavaScript, but they look into whatever tool is right for the job and are currently rolling out native mobile apps.

To support a metrics-driven approach to the business, they are building a data warehouse using Hadoop and Amazon’s Redshift. This is all hosted on Amazon Web Services using automated configuration and deployment tools like Puppet.

You can find out more information about them here, and if you’re looking for a job and think this sounds like an interesting problem to tackle check out their Careers page here.

Thanks to our previous sponsors Toshiba Medical Visualization Systems who have helped us out from the start. We are looking for a 2nd sponsor – get in touch if your interested!

 

Show events on your WordPress blog!

We now have a WordPress extension to let you show events on your blog. You can filter these down to be from several cities or groups only if you wish.

Step 1. Install the Plugin

Download the “OpenACalendar” plugin from the official WordPress site and uncompress it into your wp-content/plugins folder. Or you can install it directly from your WordPress admin panel by searching for “OpenACalendar”.

Step 2. Tell it where to import events from

Go to the “Settings” menu and select “OpenACalendar.”. Create a new pool with the name “Open Tech Calendar”.

Add a new source to that pool with the URL “opentechcalendar.co.uk”.  Here you can select the filters you want – curated list, area, group, country or venue. You can get these from the URL of the page on the site. For instance if you want to filter Edinburgh events only go to the Edinburgh page at http://opentechcalendar.co.uk/area/62-edinburgh and take “62” from the URL to put into the events filter.

You can add several sources to the same pool – so if you are a big fan of 3 different meetups, you can filter by 3 different groups and events from all 3 groups will be mixed together.

When you add a source, there is a button to fetch events from that source immediately. Do so – but in the future that will happen automatically (if your WordPress cron is setup correctly).

Before you go, note the ID of the pool – it’s probably 1.

Step 3. Add a widget to the side bar

Go to the “Appearance” menu and select “Widgets”. Drag a “OpenACalendar – Events” widget into your layout. Put in the Pool ID you just created.

Step 4. Add a Short Code to any pages to list events.

On a page, you can type in

[openacalendar_events poolid=1]

to list events. You can add several other attributes (listed here).

 That’s it!

Any features you want or comments, get in touch! Version 2.0.1 was released from an open night at Edinburgh Hacklab – guess how they list events on the sidebar of their site?

Just explicitly encourage new people to come to your meetup

Lots of the tips we post here for organising tech events are about making people feel welcome and able to contribute to your meetup. Little things can make a big difference in setting the right atmosphere. For instance, if you are meeting in a pub have several big printed signs on the table. No-one likes going up to strangers and asking them if they are this geeky meetup – several big signs needed.

But here’s maybe the ultimate in things you can do to encourage people – just explicitly do something for new people and clearly say so.

Rachel Willmer of Luzme suggested something we’ve now tried twice at Techmeetup Edinburgh, which is to have a pre-meetup meetup in the pub and explicitly say it’s for people who haven’t been to Techmeetup before. We did this once in December and got a crowd of about 15-20, half of which were new. One of them also noticed the event was looking for speakers to show fun 5-min hacks and volunteered to speak at her first Techmeetup! We did this again last night, and got about 10 new people.

In doing this, we very clearly said that this was for welcoming new people. Here’s the announcement for the first one and for the second. We also explicitly reached out beyond our normal advertising channels, tweeting to other groups who may be interested. Because this was a special event rather than a monthly occurrence, we could do this.

Your mileage may vary; Techmeetup Edinburgh is now over 100 people and so a pre-meetup of 10 or 20 people is great for easing people in. If you are a small meetup, maybe this isn’t the best way. But do think about what you are doing to welcome people in, and make sure you are doing something.

New Features Released

We are pleased to announce a whole bunch of new features! We are very pleased with this release, as many of the new features are improvements to the user interface and the common tasks people do on the site. We think the basic structure of the site is working fine and are now in the process of smoothing out the rough edges. Below are a selection of the changes:

Continue reading “New Features Released”

We’re going Open Source!

This is something we have been asked about many times before, and we have decided to do it: we’re going Open Source.

We will Open Source the engine that allows you to run a Wiki Calendar. This engine allows you to run a single calendar, or several calendars on one site.

Open Tech Calendar and Has A Calendar will continue to run as normal, the former for the tech community and the later for people who want a hosted solution.

When will this happen? At least a couple of weeks. We are half way through a major new feature we want to roll out first. That feature has now been released! We will release the code very soon. Released!

What license will it be under? Duuno yet. Probably BSD.

What will it be called? Dunno. Any suggestions? We now have a name, but please excuse us keeping it under wraps for now. OpenACalendar

Will there be a hosted version available? Yes, we will continue to run Has A Calendar.

What are the requirements? Briefly, PHP & Postgresql.

What is the code quality like? …… It works.  …… It has some passing tests.  Um, we’ll work to improve this … with your help!

As you can see, we haven’t worked out many details yet. But we wanted to make it official.