BarCampLeeds 08

What a day. Who knew that Leeds was this nascent tech hub. I had a hunch of course (and followed it by moving back here), but there’s enery and talent oozing out the edges here, and its surely only a matter of time before it reaches critical mass and becomes a real tech ecosystem.

What’d I learn? I started the day with an into to geocaching. Which I’d of course heard of, but somehow had lumped it in my mind with orienteering and other things which I’m not likely to ever do regularly if at all. But I’m sold - what fun, and the kids will love it - a modern day treasure hunt.


While I held onto a vain hope that I might get my demo done in time for my talk in the afternoon, I stuck around in the main hall half-listening, half working. There was the beginnings of an interesting discussion around usability and (graphic) design, but the crowd didnt really bite. I also was treated to a crash course in viral something.. marketing? self-promotion? mostly how to have a laugh on the web it seemed, and share it with as many people as possible. That I didnt quite see the point I’m sure says more about me than the speaker - who did a great job.


I missed what looked like an interesting sessison on the success of wikis, but caught a great session discussing SAAS (Software as a Service). That looks like a big slice of pie for the taking, if you can get it right.


I was introduced to the lazy web, and a clearing house kind of offering (vagueware.com) by the presenter. I was trying to remember the other site I used a while back - it was a more general (i.e. non-tech) ideas/inventions site, but its gone.


My talk was on building desktop apps with Dojo and AIR. There wasnt really enough time to dig in so I was left skimming over materials and gesturing vaguely at examples I pulled up. “Dojo” on AIR was a little arbitrary - Dojo /is/ a good fit, and does give you a real leg up when developing an html/js based AIR app. But not to the exclusion of all other libraries. Its good for the same reason Dojo is good on the web, and that there’s a couple specific affordances for AIR (e.g. dojox.storage.AirFileStorageProvider) is nice, but not in and off itself a reason to switch. The compelling case for AIR is that you dont have to re-learn anything to start developing desktop apps, and from that point of view if you’re already comfortable with javascript library, you should probably stick with it. Anyhow, I hope folks took something away from it.


Finally I caught 2 great sessions on a a more business slant. The first was tips on dealing with large organizations as a small vendor/contractor, and negotiating the beaurocratic hazards organizations of a size seem to favor. It is so easy to get burnt as these cultures crash, and it was great food for thought. And right on its heels was a discussion on preparing proposals, RFP responses. Stand-out points for me where -
ask there’s a weighting and scoring sheet for the RFP - people will often share i freely, and that will tell you what you need to know about where to spend your time in the proposal.


So I’m left with a warm fuzzy feeling about Leeds. People had travelled in - several from Manchester and one of two from London, and although actual attendance didnt quite match registration numbers, it was a respectable crowd.


I’m back for more tommorow…