Archive for March, 2009

Creating multi-layered screenshots (a BarCamp London hack)

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

I’m on a slow (gah, engineering works!) train back from an awesome BarCampLondon. I’ve got a ton of notes from so many fascinating talks and sessions, but not quite sure how to share them… they would make for the world’s longest blog post!

But as I have a little time to kill, I thought I’d quickly share a little hack that I pulled together overnight. An old idea, but a fun one – and it’s amazing what beer and interesting people will do for your creativity. 🙂

The hack is a little Windows utility to capture more useful screenshots.

By way of background, when you press the “Print Screen” button, it copies an image of your desktop to the clipboard. Very useful. But it has limitations.

What if a window you want to see in the screenshot image is obscured by another window? Or minimised entirely? That information is lost.

Not with my hack! 🙂

My tool captures “interactive” multi-layered screenshots – a picture of each window is captured separately on it’s own layer. This creates a screenshot that (even after you’ve taken the screenshot) will let you move windows around, hide/restore windows, and change the z-order of windows.

It creates a sort of simulation-like snapshot of what your desktop was like at the time.


minibar meets geomob

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

I went to Corbet Place in London yesterday night for Minibar.

MiniBar is a social evening in Shoreditch, which offers people a chance to snaffle some free beer while discussing p2p, web applications, start ups, social networking and general Web 2.0 mayhem & fandango.

photo 016I’ve heard of Minibar before, particularly from Andy and Roo, but never actually got around to going to one. In fact, the main reason that I went to this one is because it was being done as a joint event between minibar and geomob (a geo/mobile developers meetup group which I have been to before).

Despite being a newbie, I had a few ideas of what to expect. Andy described the place as a “dimly lit … brewery bar“, which pretty much sums it up. And more usefully, warned me to turn right when I arrived, to stand a decent chance of hearing the presentations – definitely a useful tip. 🙂


v Awards Portsmouth 2009

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

photo 094Tonight was the v Awards Evening 2009 in Portsmouth – a youth volunteering achievements awards event to celebrate the work done by young people in Portsmouth.

It was run by Solent Youth Action, as we deliver the vinvolved youth programme in Portsmouth, so I went along (originally to watch and lend moral support, but I ended up getting roped into going on stage to present some of the awards and be a guest speaker!).

It was a great evening. Awards evenings can often be dull and repetitive affairs, but I loved this one. I find it inspiring to hear the wide variety of ways that the young people have contributed to their community, and the evening was a great taster of the work that we are doing in the Portsmouth area.


Twitter Developer Nest

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Last night, developers of twitter clients, apps and mashups came together at Sun’s Customer Briefing Centre in London for the first London twitter developer nest.

I’m not really a “proper” twitter developer, but I’ve thrown together a twitter client and a web app before, so I figured I could pretend for an evening. 😉

It was a very interesting evening, and I’ve copied my (sorry – fairly sketchy and incomplete!) notes from the evening below. If you really want to see what you missed, Chris did a great job filming all of the talks for UStream.


BathCamp evenings

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

bathcamp T-shirt

In September last year, a barcamp was held in Bath. It was called, somewhat predictably but not unreasonably, “bathcamp“. 🙂

I blogged about it at the time, but in short it was a fascinating weekend that brought together a great group of people.

But it didn’t end there.

There will be another bathcamp event, but the organiser Mike Ellis had the very neat idea to keep the momentum going in between the full barcamp weekends with a series of monthly evening meetups.

The first Wednesday of every month, BathCamp becomes an evening event at Revolution in Bath. It works really well, keeping the sense of community going in between the full barcamps. Many turn up early, in time to have a drink and something to eat in the bar downstairs. You get a group of people all sat together, but it’s very welcoming and friendly. You can sit next to anyone there, and get involved the conversation – not always the case with every geeky meetup I go to.

At about 8pm-ish, everyone goes upstairs for an informal presentation on some tech topic of interest. Then there is a break where everyone gets themselves a drink, and talk and bounce around ideas about the presentation.

Then another (generally somewhat related) presentation from a second speaker, and another chance to talk about the topic with everyone else there. These bits make a difference – sometimes these events can drift into “turn up, listen to talk, go home”. But so far, the Bathcamp meetups have been a long way from that.

The talks so far…


How good is my mobile network operator?

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

I’d like to think that I’m normally a fairly easy-going person, but we all have our pet peeves and for me one of mine is my mobile phone network operator. They drive me nuts – I never get a signal anywhere!

Or at least, so I thought.

Last night, I put together a quick test to keep track of how much time my phone doesn’t have a signal.

It is technically very simple to do, but I’ll describe how it works in a moment. First, the results. Today was a “typical” work day – I spent most of it at my desk which is by a window on a first floor. I don’t work in a lead-lined bunker, and I didn’t hide the phone in a microwave (does that even work?) or anything like that.

I started the test at home this morning, when I normally start checking my emails and twitter. And it’s been running all day. While in my office, the phone was on my desk. The rest of the time it’s been in my pocket.

It looks like I have a signal more often than I thought – for over seven hours it had a signal, with only a little over three hours with no signal. I was expecting a result with time without a signal being greater than time with a signal.

This is hardly a scientific test, but I wonder if my perception is worse than reality? Maybe all it takes is a few times for the phone to not have a signal when I need it for me to get the impression that it “never” has a signal.


Charity auction for Comic Relief

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

I generally try and avoid using my blog to ask for help for Solent Youth Action – the last time I remember doing it was back in 2007 when I was looking for mentors for our new mentoring scheme.

So I hope you’ll forgive me now if I try and use my space here to ask for support for an SYA event coming up.

If you are near Hursley next Monday (16th) afternoon, please come along to the Clubhouse at 2.30pm.

Young volunteers for SYA are refurbishing old furniture: restoring it, cleaning it, and decorating it. They hadn’t done anything like this before, so it has been a great opportunity to them to learn new, practical skills.

The furniture was all donated – these were items that otherwise would’ve been thrown away, making it also a good chance to teach a valuable reduce, reuse, recycle message.

The fruits of their labour will go on sale in a charity auction to be held in the Clubhouse, with all money received to be donated to Comic Relief.

Please come along and take a look at what they’ve been working on.

More details about the event, and the items of furniture that the young people are working on, can be found on the SYA website.