Agile in Government

if Her Majesty’s Government can spend millions on propaganda — for a scheme the public want — then surely, a few quid in Research and Development can equally be written off? Lessons, after all will have been learnt.

In defence of Agile

Bristol to Whitby

Bike at the side of the road

Last week we had a few days planned up North in Whitby and I didn’t need more than a seconds thought to take the bike.

It was a great ride up with a highlight of crossing the Humber Bridge and enjoying the trip over the Moors (A169).

My GPS device, igotu worked a treat and now I can add ride data to my holiday collection with memories, photos and….trip data haha – very happy.

Oh and Whitby was worth visiting for a few days least I forget the reason for my trip and the food, particularly the sausages at Bothams was a welcome distraction from the pub.


A46, A164 (dull), A15, A169
273 miles one way
943 ft elevation (max)

PELC 2011

Me on the stage

Photo Credit

It was fantastic to be in Plymouth again this year for the 6th Plymouth e-learning Conference. For a full run down check out Steve Wheeler’s blog.

After last years great event I was pleasantly surprised to be asked to be on the steering committee to give my 2p worth of thoughts which made me even keener to attend!

There are a whole bunch of conferences and events and what makes this stand out is twofold: great people and a diverse collection of talks.

The people

From the moment of landing in Plymouth by way of train I met follow #pelc11 gang members old and new which really I cannot stress enough is a highlight for me. Everybody is so open to geeking out whilst still gabbing on about personal interests that it really didn’t feel like work.

New folk who’s blogs, tweets and projects I look forward to include: @t3h_pablohunny,  @andyjb,  @Marie_S , @CraigTaylor74, @janeseale, @ethinking and @doctrus

As you’d imagine a special shout out goe’s to Steve Wheeler for being an excellent host and helping to bring the event to life.

Talking points

Unlike some events where my ‘stand’ prevents me from attending sessions, I was able to enjoy a talk per session. Highlights include Andy Black’s session on mobile and Matt Lingard’s session on writing for the web.

My session, in the photo above with with Doug Belshaw and went down very well according to the kind comments after the session. We got folk to consider their own uses of mobile which allowed the session to fork between topics nicely. In addition to this session I was chair for a enjoyable session.

I love the people and the chat that happens in and around sessions that you just don’t get at enough conferences so roll on 2012.

Oh and I got to revisit my student days with a Goodbody’s breakfast at stupid O’clock.


igotu – first impressions

i-gotU is a GPS logger device (maps your position) that is aimed at the traveler, suspicious partner and photographer.

iGotU GPS location logger device

Essentially you set off and it claims to record up to 262,000 waypoints with the interval set between 1-60 seconds thus mapping your route. I was talking to fellow biker @davidhartland about recording travels and he successfully used it last year for a trip on mainland Europe and for under £50 from my local Maplins I figured it was worth a punt.

I have the Gt-200e model which includes bluetooth that should let me connect to a mobile phone and laptop according to the packaging, which I must say looks rubbish and hides the key features of the device. Also the website is pretty crap too and I think they’d sell a ton more by sorting it out as it comes across as a Dragons Den dream catcher.

Out of the packaging I was surprised at how small it was and impressed that it charges via USB. That said, the USB connector is some weird design that looks like it could easily break – not exactly travel friendly as I have no clue how i’d ever get a replacement.

The key features are – gps logging and the ability to put the data on things like Google Maps and also sync a waypoint with specific photos from your camera which sounds cool on a PC.

So being a crap scout I didn’t realise that the software is PC compatible only… luckily somebody has made their own software which will hopefully work (albeit without the photo syncing which I can live with).

It is on charge right now so my brief trip to Wales tomorrow will be my first test.

Dear makers of igot-U please fix the PC only software for us mac folk and sort your packaging and website – you’ll get richer quicker.


Considering telemetry data for a biker

Not just content with photos and video for memories I am considering how I can collect data too.

The aim is to setup some gizmo to record trip data and then put that online, preferability in real-time.

First, Hein Gerieke plotted the location of Nick Sanders world travel. Then I read about a Nascar/indy car driver who was obsessed with using data to improve his time. Most recently the Mclaren F1 team started to show their car data.

I want in.

I met Tony Hirst in Manchester this week and we got to talking about collecting race data which of course helped me to move doing this from idea to challenge.
My initial thoughts on what I’d like to achieve are:

1 – Learn how to correctly spell ‘telemetry’. Check, sorta.

2 – Identify possible useful data to collect (location for a Google map, speed?, braking amounts on both brakes, G wind speed, air pressure, humidity, engine temp, brake and tire temps?, distance traveled, fuel consumption, weight of rider, pillion and fuel, heart rate… )

3 – Identify what datalogging kit is available and what may work with my Honda CBF 600

4 – Cost the above

5 – Install.

For the thrill of it I would love to have this data being beamed live (and maybe announce on my site/twitter a journey has begun) though would settle for collecting the data and then transferring to USB/phone for later upload.

I’d like to do this for all trips and hopefully future track days once I pluck up the courage to book my first session.

Already I have spoken with the pilot of a Boeing 747 and he uses AeroWeather for flight planning and so it may be that a bunch of data can be cross-referenced with static data-logging services…

I know nowt about data collecting or the bike tech but here goes nothing and if you have any suggestions please do drop me a line.

WordPress as the life buoy

I have just spent two inspiring and tiring days at OER Hackday in Manchester with around 40 people with the simple task of building ‘something’ around OER.
Our group gravitated together through our common interest in doing with pulling OER stuff together and using WordPress.
Not wordpress because we think it is ‘cool’ and certainly not because we were highly skilled in hacking it to pieces.. well Pat and Simon could. But because out of the zipped box it has the power to achieve all of the things we might need to do. Being safe in the knowledge that there is a technical solution allowed us to just think about solving our problems and not having to even consider the technical solution because we know that it will be possible.

Knowing this we were able to jump with both feet into the challenge of the event.

OER stuff, like many types of resources are stored all over the shop and my only vague method for finding this stuff is to use delicious. However mentally I have been struggling with this.

So liking Huffduffer’s approach (just audio podcasts) I was wondering if we could make a solution that takes the idea of tagging but with a more blog/ordered style.

By the end of the 2 days we ended up with a great proof of concept (links to come) that I hope can be developed further.

I often visit the grey area overlapping the problem and technical solution too early and get caught up worrying about parts of the solution and how to achieve it which puts my solutions into a tiny box heavily constrained.
So dear self, the next time your working on a problem, don’t sweat the technical solution, just keep refining the problem and sketching the possible solutions. Then take a deep breath and chuck it into wordpress.