Unconference/BarCamp

After a summer of going to conferences that cost £50-£500 (I volunteered at the expensive one) and coming away questioning their value, I’ve been wondering if there’s a better way of doing things. I’d heard about user-generated events (unconferences) that followed BarCamp rules and last weekend I got to experience my first.

The format is straightforward. There’s no advance agenda and no booked speakers. There’s just a number of spaces/rooms and a schedule of time slots. People attending are encouraged to host a session by either giving a presentation or facilitating a discussion. At the start of the event they post cards on a schedule board with their subjects. The event’s participants then use the cards to decide which sessions to attend.

All this makes BarCamps cheap and easy to organise. You just need a location and a network of people to attend. If a sponsor can help provide coffee/lunch/beer even better.

The one I went to was ProductCamp London which brought together 150 product managers. Everybody seemed to get involved and the 32 session slots filled up. Most sessions I went to were interesting. A few didn’t live up to their titles and I found myself suffering from ‘fear of missing out’ when I could see a better-looking session through the windows.

I feel like I need to be much more picky with my paid-for conferences in future but I’d happily take a punt on the next BarCamp that looks interesting.

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Fish Pie in a Pot

Fish Pie in a PotWhen Innocent introduced its Veg Pots it must have got ready-meal makers thinking because a few months after other meals started to appear in the same pots. But these competing products offered something new: meat and fish.

I’ve tried a few and have usually being underwelmed. As their portion size is more suited to a lunchtime rather than a big tea-time (or dinner as they say down south) I don’t usually buy them. Except that is for M&S’s Fish Pie in a Pot. I get cravings for them.

The fish is haddock and salmon. It’s bulked out with potato and some peas. There’s also an unhealthy amount of creme fraiche, butter, cheddar and cream (which is probably why I like it). Add a side of peas in some mint sauce and it’s supper bliss.

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CloudScrob

OK, this one is only relevant to last.fm users who have an iPhone or iPod Touch. If that isn’t you, stop reading as it will be dull.

Since upgrading to iOS5 I’ve stopped syncing my iPhone to my Mac. The iCloud and easy application updates means I don’t have to. And when I do it takes hours (but that’s another story). This means I haven’t been scrobbling my music plays to last.fm.

I figured I couldn’t be the only person with this problem so a quick web search lead me to CloudScrob. It’s a simple 89p app that looks for tracks you’ve played since you last launched it and sends them to last.fm. There’s no buttons to press and it takes seconds.

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