Museums, technology

Come to Museums Get Mobile

On Friday 16th May I’ll be hosting the Museums Computer Group one day conference ‘Museums Get Mobile’ at our M Shed museum.

Museums Get Mobile! is one of this year’s most important museum events for technology development, exhibition innovation, mobile expertise, multiple platform projects and audience engagement. Curated by the UK Museum Computer Group (MCG), this one day conference is a must for museum curators, managers, consultants, directors, bloggers, novices and experts. Find out what the Natural History Museum knows about how its visitors use their smartphones and tablets before, during and after their museum visit, and what the V&A has learnt about designing sites for different devices.

Speakers include:

  • Andy Budd, Clearleft (I have his CSS Mastery book and it is very well worn!)
  • Andrew Lewis, V & A
  • Léonie Watson
  • fffunction

Book your ticket today for only £45 (membership is free for individuals)

personal, technology

My computer Setup

Professionally I’m normally referred to as the “IT guy” and people often think i have every new gadget. Yet the truth is that I own relatively few toys, preferring tools that I will use loads and are value for money. I REALLY fear buying a device or tool that proves to be useless and effectively a waste of cash.  I started to list my items and figured I may as well share them here. Interestingly in recent months i’ve been spying on friends and family gadget collection and i’m really average and far behind true nerds!


  • 2.4 GHz macbook with 8GB RAM (secondhand but from 2011? used to replace the below)
  • 2.4 GHz macbook with 4GB RAM (2009) that I now keep at work to get things done when I hit the IT services wall on occasion!
  • Raspberry Pi – affordable computer that I tinker with
  • Kindle Paperwhite – for reading ebooks and looong reports
  • Kobo touch
  • HTC One X mobile phone
  • Nike running watch and heart rate monitor
  • Nexus 7 tablet
  • Apple iPad 1 (secondhand) for testing

Software and tools

  • VLC Media Player – used to watch all videos
  • Mozilla Firefox Browser (my browser of choice for the addons – screengrab, Web developer toolbar, firebug, )
  • Google Chrome Browser – used for testing
  • Filezilla FTP – transfer web content
  • Coda 2 – code editor
  • 1password – for managing all my passwords and serial numbers and ESSENTIAL
  • Spotify – useful for streaming music
  • DoubleTwist – music sync for Android
  • evernote – for writing and storing personal and work notes
  • Trello – used for all my to-do lists
Notes, technology

Bathcamp 44

I attended Bathcamp 44 after a fairly lengthy absence. Both sessions were from former Government Digital Service (GDS) product managers and were highly enjoyable, unlike the one hour drive to Bath. Here are my notes from both talks combined:

Sarah Prag up first

  • Fix publishing, Fix Transactions, Go Wholesale – make everything widely available and let others build services from you
  • Simpler, Clearer, Faster
  • Saved £42,000,000 in 2013/3 and they started late into the year
  • Highest priority is understanding user needs – it’s all down to understanding user needs NOT your needs as an organisation
  • Data is your friend – what to your users Google? what are the most frequent phone calls? With this data you can set your priorities
  • Following user needs enables you to choose which battles to fight
  • Data tells you the language to use, for example should a section be headed annual leave or holiday entitlement (winner from the data)
  • Tell stories – As I… I want to… So that I can…
  • Content designer encompasses more than being a writer
  • Create a style guide – plain English first, then the official term
  • If you can’t figure out the answer from the data ask real users
  • We aren’t just fixing websites we’re transforming government said Mike Bracken at Sprint 14

Ross Ferguson notes

  • His work was to change the culture and lead on organisational change – “but we can’t, I can’t, we don’t normally…”
  • Bringing the civil service with us
  • Always be shipping
  • don’t tell, don’t show, ENGAGE
Museums, Notes, technology

Week 29 at work

This week focused on the here and now with the green light on the website project and then also trying to think strategically out to 2020. Although 2020 seems far away, in reality this immediate website project will be the foundation for work that will happen in 2020!

  • All the procurement reading (70 odd pages) and hoop jumping has finally resulted in the green light to build the first phase of a new website for the service. We begin on Monday 20th January with the first wave of work called project ‘discovery’. Our champion striker in Government digital, GDS, describes the discovery phase as “Find out what your users need, what to measure and what your constraints are”   Both us and the chosen agency, fffunction,  will be talking about the project regularly so stayed tuned.
  • Monthly budget forecasting which is the motorcycle equivalent of riding behind a truck in the rain
  • Had an introduction with a new curator who will be joining us for a few months. Its fun times like these where I really enjoy preaching about the emerging digital curator roles I imagine the sector needs from now for the future.
  • Demonstrated why it’s essential to listen carefully to an archivist about file naming conventions if you want to find the source material in 100 years. Talking of 100 years, I and the Records Office met with a central IT project manager about how our modern records might survive for the next 100 years. I really don’t think even Microsoft will be able to open a 2010 edition word file in 2114!
  • Discussed my ideas for 2014 to 2020 with my boss. We looked at infrastructure, revenue, digitisation, skills needed, constraints and the chaotic beast that is the world of digital and IT. I drafted a trello board with these activities if your curious called the BMGA roadmap.
  • I reviewed the user interface progress on a student project around volunteering
  • Took a valuable trip to Exeter to visit Rick Lawrence at the RAMM. After a tour of their setup we talked about opportunities to work together in the near future. In order to do the best possible work many of us all need to work together which is also principle number 6 of our digital principles.
  • Finished reading Content Strategy for the Web which will be an invaluable reference from here on out
  • I took a leaf out of Tim Lloyd’s blog post and gave my personal copy of ‘Organisations don’t tweet people do’ to my boss who is already half way through. Out of my own pocket I
  • Finally, I agreed to speak at the Office of National Statistics in February about digital media IPR and hopefully a little about digital books. Again, I think there is lots that can be shared across Government digital services.