Bruges, Barcelona, Paris: On the road again

As you might know, I’m Canadian. You knew that, right?

So while I’ve been living in the UK for nearing onto 8 years (minus a few months pottering back and forth to finish University in Canada), it still blows my little mind that I can get from London to Paris in just over 2 hours, or fly to Barcelona in even less.

While my travel schedule doesn’t rival the travel calendars of most of my esteemed industry colleagues, it makes me smile that in the course of a month, my Canadian passport will be stamped with Belgian, French and Spanish stamps.

In Bruges (with a detour via Brussels)

Last weekend was the Bruges trip; a hectic two-day trip to Brussels, where we visited the Cantillon brewery home to Lambic, Gueuze, Faro and Kriek beers. I was lucky enough to try an elder blossom lambic, which was rather unusual and flowery but worth a try. We then moved on to Bruges for the evening, wandering the streets and trying more Belgian beers from Edric’s 100 Belgian Beers to Try Before You Die list. The next morning, we did the classic boat tour, ate more mussels and fries, then slowly (very slowly, thanks to National Express useless train services) made our way home.

Next, Barcelona

In just under two weeks, I’ll be popping over to sunny (I hope) Barcelona for a spot of brainstorming with a brilliant client’s team. If I’m lucky, I’ll have a few hours to pop by Las Ramblas and soak in some Spanish vibes (and Spanish wine).

Last stop, Paris

logoMy last stop before Christmas will be Paris, for the LeWeb ’09 conference, where they’ve kindly invited me as official blogger. I’m looking forward to seeing old friends, meeting new faces and seeing new startups and entrepreneurs get passionate about the web.

For those who aren’t familiar with Le Web, it’s a yearly conference with over 1800 attendees with themes relating to the web, technology, but with a broad appeal that will tickle the curiosity of non-geeks as well. Some of the speakers this year include Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, productivity geek Tim Ferriss, TechCrunch’s Mike Arrington (who will undoubtedly get into mudslinging as he does every year), an unusually sober Paul Carr and Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan. A rather varied bunch then!

If you’re also attending, drop me a line or leave a comment, as I’d love to meet some new people!

[As a complete aside, titling this post “On the road again” caused me to start singing Richard Séguin’s “L’Ange Vagabond”, which contains the lyrics “On the road again”. I ended up downloading the album from iTunes – gobsmacked iTunes UK has a French-Canadian album from 1993 in its catalogue! Time for a trip down memory lane…]

The thrill of the ride & Making your own luck

Big wheels

It’s rare that I start a blog entry by apologising for the radio silence – but it’s also rare that I go nearly an entire month without blogging – so please accept my apologies for going a month without publishing anything.

It’s certainly not for lack of things to write about, that’s for sure. The past few months have been some of the most exciting of my life; self-employment is in full swing and Pepsmedia is doing great, we’ve had two fabulous holidays (first was a quirky narrowboating trip with friends, second was a relaxing two weeks in Canada to see my family), and life has generally been very good to us.

Amongst all these brilliant events, however, time to step back and admire how far I’ve come since getting to the UK in 2001, which now feels like a lifetime ago.

But today, I’m feeling contemplative. Perhaps it’s because, as of yesterday, Pepsmedia now has a Cambridge office and I’m basking in the autumnal sunshine. Or perhaps it’s because our first employee is starting next week and I can already feel a weight lift off my shoulders, safe in the knowledge that I’ll soon have a secondary brain available to help me (what can I say, the cloning attempts have all failed…) Or it might simply be because I’m in a good mood.

When I chose to take online marketing and social media consultancy seriously, I didn’t know how well I’d fare, but I took the plunge. “What’s the worst that can happen?”, I told myself, “Worst case scenario, I get a new regular job or take on a temporary contract.” But after a good dose of hard work, long hours and a bit of luck, things are going brilliantly. An old colleague commented, saying I was so lucky to be where I was today, doing what I love and working with truly awesome clients.

While thinking about what proportion was luck, and what was blood, sweat and tears, I came across a post by Tara Hunt on people who seem to be lucky, and others who don’t seem to benefit from this supposed luck. Paraphrasing Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire, she highlights four main characteristics of lucky people:

Four characteristics of lucky people

  1. Lucky people are skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities;
  2. Lucky people make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition;
  3. Lucky people create self-fulfilling prophesies via positive expectations; and
  4. Lucky people adopt a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good.

To some extent, some days the planets probably do align better for you than for someone else. But generally speaking, luck isn’t about crossing your fingers in the hope that something good will happen, but rather taking every opportunity to MAKE your own luck.

If you’re passionate about something and you want to be “the lucky one who gets to do what they love for a living”, sitting in a job you dislike, slogging away on demotivating work hours a day, the lucky break won’t happen by itself.

Talk to people who understand where you want to be and may create serendipitous situations where you meet the right people to help you get where you want to be. Find pet projects in the evening, things that get you closer to learning the skills you’ll need to get to your goal. If it’s possible, even consider talking to your current boss to see if you can come to an arrangement; for example, my last employer let me move from full time to two days a week, providing me with a “safety net” while giving me the flexibility to get started.

Most of all, enjoy the journey. It’s like a long hike; while the destination matters, you’ve got to keep your head high and enjoy the view along the way!

So while I’m blogging less regularly, be sure to say hi on Twitter in the meantime.

[Photo credit: John-Morgan on Flickr, Creative Commons]

South by Southwest 2009: Surviving a Week of Geekery

I landed back in the UK two days ago, and I can already feel the most vivid memories of the week slipping away. Before any more memories disappear, better put pen to paper (figuratively, you know I rarely use paper) and note the salient points of South by Southwest 2009.

I arrived a day early to Austin on Wednesday night after a reasonably uneventful flight – just how I like them. The city was preparing for two weeks where everything changed; First, a week where geeks descend upon the city, then a week of musicians taking over every club, bar and hole in the wall.

On Thursday, once settled in, I met with the lovely Kara, an Austin local I met last year, who drove David, Rebecca & myself down to San Antonio for the day. We visited the Alamo and walked along the river, stopping by for our first Tex Mex lunch of the week (certainly not the last).

Friday, panels started slowly, but there was truly only one I wanted to see – Clearleft‘s Paul Annett’s presentation entitled “Oooh that’s Clever! Unnatural Web Design” focused on the small delights designers can add when creating a site. He bravely invited volunteers onto the stage to reenact the Silverback App site’s parallax effect alongside a gorilla costume-clad Elliot Jay Stocks. A surreal start to what was going to be a surreal week.

The evening was just as memorable; The Boiling Pot on 6th is rather unique, in the sense that the crab, sea bugs & meat gets unceremoniously dumped on the table, everyone gets a bib and a hammer and the fun begins.

Sophie and Steve eating at the Boiling Pot, Austin

Saturday, panel topics ranged from “Tips for Making Ideas Happen” with Scott Belsky, “First year as a freelancer” with Thomas Myer to “Mobilizing your Online Community” (the worst panel I attended all week, I left promptly) and “Building your Brand with Web 2.0 Tools”. The latter had an excellent panel composed of Saul Colt (Freshbooks), Chris Brogan, Loic LeMeur (Seesmic), CC Chapman & Dave Delaney, but the excitement of SXSW caused them to behave like fratboys rather than an intelligent, knowledgeable panel for a good part of the hour. (Yes, I’m looking at you, Brogan!)

The evening was a whirlwind of events: Brief visit by the Diggnation party where Alex Albrecht was seen throwing (Adidas-sponsored) shoes at the audience, followed by a few hours at the Frog Design Party, ending up at the Belmont Lounge for a cocktail before bed.

Sunday morning started well with “Ditch the Valley, Run for the Hills”, moderated by the lovely John Erik Metcalf, on running a successful business outside of the San Francisco area. Opinions were divided, with Scoble suggesting a strong link with the Valley is essential to get a business off the ground, and others proving otherwise. (Louis Gray’s notes)

Next session was “Making Whuffie: Raising Social Capital in Online Communities” by Tara Hunt, which realistically I should have skipped on. It’s a great presentation, but one I had seen twice already.

In the afternoon, the “From Flickr and Beyond: Lessons in Community Management” and “Are PR Agencies a Dying Breed?” panels were enlightening, with more detailed notes to be blogged soon.

Monday‘s first panel was “Beyond Aggregation — Finding the Web’s Best Content” with ReadWriteWeb ‘s Marshall Kirkpatrick, Louis Gray, Gabe Rivera (TechMeme), Melanie Baker (AideRSS) & Micah Baldwin (Lijit) I’ll be blogging this one in more details too but here are Louis’ notes for an early look.

“Enough To Be Dangerous: Managing ‘Expert’ Clients” looked promising but somewhere along the way, I got bored by the duh-that’s-obvious statements and the misinformed observations about the use of Flash in business sites, and walked out to get some Austin sunshine onto my pasty skin and spend some time with new and old friends.

Tuesday, last day of the event, I went to the Great British Breakfast to shmooze a little with the Digital Mission brits. Returning to the Convention Centre, I’d had enough of the fluffy community and social media panels (How many of them? Simon counted) and thought I’d dive into a few topics I knew nothing about; Get Satisfaction’s Thor Muller’s “Welcome to Your Posthuman Future” provided just that. It was like jumping head first into Cory Doctorow’s “Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom” book.

After lunch, I attempted to get in the Kawasaki & Anderson keynote, but it was so crowded that I gave up and wandered the halls one last time. Hoping to finish the week on another unexpected-and-interesting note, I headed to the “DRM: The Fight Isn’t Over Yet” Core Conversation by Fred Benenson of Creative Commons, but Core Conversations are always very hit-or-miss and again, it wasn’t worth staying for.

The Media Temple Closing Party provided a great opportunity to meet new people, where I couldn’t help wondering where they/I’d been all week! It’s always that way,

Wednesday, the long trek home began, flying at 11am from Austin, spending a few hours around Charlotte airport and meeting Glenn Jones for a beer, followed by an overnight flight.

And now, I’m home. The South By Lurgy’s hit me and is holding one of my lungs ransom. But I’ve had a great week, I already miss many of the great people I’ve met and I’m ready to do it again next year.

If I were to make three recommendations to SXSW organisers for next year:

1. Identify the level of the panel more clearly:

Mark panels as Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced on the pocket schedule and ask speakers to stick to that level. The vast majority of panels I attended were far too Beginner level, which sometimes felt like a waste of time. The panelists aren’t necessarily to blame, as they aimed to be as inclusive as possible, but when every panel is lowest-common-denominator, it can be tricky to learn new things.

When I did find a slightly more advanced panel, I reacted just as Simon Willison did “For the record, the asychronous scaling panel is exactly the kind of meaty technical content I want to see more of at #sxsw” When I did find those panels, however, they made my day.

2. Don’t get greedy:

This year, there was a rumoured 12,000 attendees at the Interactive festival. To put it simply, that’s too many. Being refused from entering panels or made to watch a keynote from a second or third re-broadcast room is disappointing, having made the 9,000 miles round-trip to Austin. Having to trek over to the Hilton in the short break between panels was also less than convenient.

It’s great to see the event get more popular and I certainly don’t want it to be reserved for some sort of technical/social elite of the web, but the Convention Centre was creaking at the seams this year.

3. Keep the team in charge of wifi:

I must tip my hat to the team in charge of the wifi at the event. While it wasn’t completely flawless, it was a marked improvement on last year. I hear the AT&T network was a bit more spotty (my roaming mobile picked T-Mobile) and that mobile AT&T vans were brought into the area to boost the service levels for everyone. Someone clearly went out of their way to keep the wifi running smoothly – my bank account will thank you greatly when my data roaming bill comes through.

Finally, to all the wonderful geeks I met for the first time, or had the pleasure of seeing again: See you all next year!

HSBC: International bank, local knowledge

As you know, I’m now in Austin, Texas for a week of learning, meeting and fun. Before I left, following my own tips, I called my bank to ask them to make a note to my account saying that I’m abroad and that they shouldn’t put my card on hold if they see Austin transactions.

Here’s how the conversation went:

Her: HSBC Personal Banking, my name’s Linda. How can I help you?

Me: I’m going to be travelling to the US, leaving tomorrow and want to ensure you make a note on my account.

Her: Tomorrow? Ok. Where are you travelling to, mam?

Me: Austin, Texas.

Her: *silence* *exasperated tone* So mam, are you going to the US… or to Texas?

Me: *muffled laughter*

Ahh yes, HSBC: International bank and staff that have never left their own town… 😉

17 Travel Tips to Make Your Trip More Enjoyable

Recently, I wrote about making use of your travel time to arrive to your destination feeling smarter. As a self-employed consultant, every moment matters; every hour spent smartly while commuting means one free hour later to work on something else or an opportunity to finish work an hour earlier.

Optimising your trip planning is another way to make travel less stressful and more enjoyable. Since I need to practice what I preach, here are some of the travel tips I’m putting into action before heading off to SXSW later this week.

Got any tips to contribute? Leave a comment and I’ll update the post to reflect your suggestions.

Before you travel

Call your bank to let them know you’ll be away: There are few things more embarrassing than your credit card being declined. Banks are very twitchy these days and a flag can be raised for a single “out of the ordinary” transaction. If you’re not a frequent traveller, your first purchase abroad is likely to do exactly that so pre-empt that by telling them the dates and location of your trip.

While you’re speaking to them, find out whether you’ll be charged for using ATMs abroad. If you are, try to get them waived ahead of time.

Check that you’re on the best tariff for your mobile: If you intend to use your phone will abroad, call your mobile operator to find out if you’re on the best tariff. Sometimes it’s free to upgrade to an international tariff, you just need to ask. In other cases, there’ll be a small fee but may be worthwhile if it’ll save you a significant amount.

Get some currency ahead of time: Airports have the least favourable exchange rate, so try to get a handful of bills in the currency you need ahead of time. You don’t need to take out a fortune (and it’s best not to carry too much at once in case you lose your wallet) but it’s worth having enough for a sandwich, a train ticket or a taxi in case you need it.

Give family and work colleagues a copy of your travel itinerary: Leave printed copies of your flight, hotel and passport details with at least one friend/family member, and with the office manager if you’re travelling on business. They’ll know where to find you in case of emergency, and you’ll be grateful that they have a copy of your passport details if yours gets lost/stolen.

Use a good quality suitcase: Don’t underestimate the importance of a solid, well-built and manoeuvrable suitcase. It’ll get battered by the careless airline luggage staff, get wheeled through a city (don’t even think about having a suitcase without wheels!) and give you a backache if it isn’t easy to manage.

Also, pack reasonably. Speaking from experience, two large suitcases and a laptop bag is difficult to control singlehandedly. Add the challenge of rush hour public transportation and the post-travel exhaustion and you’ll be swearing like a sailor.

austin_weatherCheck the weather as you pack: This might sound obvious, but check it just before you leave as the weather might change. For example, Austin is 31 degrees Celcius at the beginning of this week, but shoots down to 11 degrees on Thursday. While that’s still balmy when arriving from the  UK, if all I’d packed were flipflops, I’d be rather cold.

If you’re travelling for business, no matter how hot the weather outdoors is, assume that the conference centre or office you’ll be visiting will have air conditioning (especially if you’re going to the US) so bring something warm to cover your shoulders.

Leave plenty of food behind for your significant other: Women, be sure to leave your husbands a generously stacked fridge/freezer. Otherwise you’ll return to find out he’s eaten at KFC every night 😉

[Update: Nearly forgot this important tip…

Set your out of office before you go: If you use Gmail, use the Canned Response and setup messages letting people know you’ll be away. It’ll lessen the stress by telling your clients, colleagues and friends not to expect a response from you until your return. If you can afford the time, occasionally skim your emails during your trip. Remember that your friends & colleagues will most likely survive without you if you do not respond, so only reply to the essential ones.]

During your trip

Dealing with jetlag: There are different schools of thought on this, but here are my views. If you arrive early at your destination, a brief nap in the afternoon is fine, but it’s important to set an alarm, get up and spend the evening being reasonably active in order to adapt to the new timezone. If you arrive any later than 5-6pm, do not let yourself fall asleep early or you’ll be groggy all evening – if you wake up at all – and will take longer to get used to your schedule. Have a shower, do some muscle stretches or do something up

Get basic supplies to your room: If you’re staying at a hotel for a few days, you may want to pop by the nearest shop and get some water bottles and a few handy snacks. It’ll save you a fortune in minibar bill and be a convenient stop-gap if you’re rushed and can’t go eat a full meal before your next engagement. If you’ve got a sensitive stomach, bottled water will also ensure you don’t have a negative reaction to the local water.

If you’re attending SXSW, the nearest location to the Convention Centre and the nearby hotels is CVS Pharmacy at 500 Congress Avenue (at 5th St).

Have a multivitamin every morning: Travel, whether for business or pleasure, usually involves long, busy days and can take its toll on your body. Rich restaurant meals may also not be as vitamin-packed as usual. I’m packing fizzy Berocca to get my vitamins, but also to force me to have a pint of water to start the day.

Drink water. Then drink more water: The problem with holidays and business trips is that everyone wants to buy you a drink. Between all the alcohol and coffee you’re likely to consume, it’s important to rehydrate with water to ensure your body and mind don’t conk out halfway through your trip. From your flight to your nights out, it’s essential.

The pressurised atmosphere within the aircraft causes high levels of dehydration even though you may not feel hot or even feel like you are sweating. The inside of an aircraft at altitude has 5% less humidity than that of a desert. (Source: Travel Rants)

Use the hotel safe: If your hotel room provides a safe, use it for Pete’s sake. If you feel that the hotel can be trusted, leave your passport, house keys and flight tickets in the safe. If it fits, leave your laptop or camera in it as well when you don’t need it. You’ll be happy to travel lighter, and your mind will be at ease. However, if your hotel is slightly shady, you may prefer to keep your passport and other important belongings on your person at all times.

Stay alert when you’re out: Avoid flashing your gear; you love your iPhone, your MacBook Pro and your fancy camera, but don’t get them out in public unless necessary. Pay attention to where your belongings are at all times, and never leave them unattended. Try not to drink so much that you get sleepy while on the commute back from an evening out or you might find yourself travelling lighter by the time you wake up from your alcohol-induced snooze.

Take time to regroup your thoughts: In an entirely new environment, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Take a moment to breathe and remember why you’re on your trip. Remind yourself of your objectives; Are you there to grow your business or party like it’s 1999? (Or both?) Don’t let your goals out of sight and focus your day around them. Be positive and cheerful, everyone will love you. Of course, be sure to also take in the sights and sounds of the city you’re visiting!

When you get home

Download and backup your pictures NOW: If you delay copying photos and video to your computer on your return, you know you’ll never bother. While you’re still buzzing from your trip, put your images on Flickr, your videos on YouTube and send the link to friends and family. If you’re a geek, be sure to tag the photos appropriately so that other attendees to the same event can find your pics.

Sort through your stuff: Whether it’s business cards, memorabilia or schwag, just like pictures, sort through them now. Jot down actions, connect with the people you met via LinkedIn and follow up with the interesting people you met. Chris Brogan has a few more tips on what to do after a conference.

Take a breather: SXSW is infamous for the state it leaves its attendees in. Last year, it seemed everyone got ill after getting home. Exhaustion, long travel and lots of handshaking (no doubt swapping colds, flus and the occasional stomach bug) will leave most people drained. If you can, give yourself a buffer of a few days to recharge your batteries before jumping back into real life and you’ll feel much more positive about travelling.

Arriving Smarter: More Than 15 Ways to Get Busy During Dead Time

london_underground
Most of us spend at least an hour a day travelling; commuting to work by car, train, bus or flying somewhere for business. It’s time that’s often spent looking out of the window, texting mates or eyeing the cute guy/girl sitting across from you on the train. (Or if you’re travelling to London, wondering whether the leaves on the track are going to delay the train again…)

It’s an hour or more that you should recuperate and use for your own benefits so here are a few suggestions for arriving smarter. [Credit to Christopher S. Penn for the “Arrive Smarter” theme & Tarek for pointing me to it originally.]

Listen to an audio or video podcast

Podcasts vary in quality, style, length and topics, so whatever you want to listen to, you should be able to find it. I tend to opt for a more focused podcast on the journey in; it wakes up the brain, gives some interesting ideas and motivation for the day. On the way home, I prefer the freestyle and slightly silly podcasts, which are sometimes informative, but always lighthearted.

  • TEDTalks video podcasts: TED offers some great food for thoughts from some fascinating people all over the world. Pick a topic you feel has little to do with your day job or industry and just listen. Some notable speakers for me have been Jill Bolte Taylor, Ze Frank and a number of people who spoke about creativity, imagination & education. [TEDTalks iTunes link]
  • BBC Radio 4 World of Business podcast
  • Heidi Miller’s Diary of a Shameless Self-Promoter: Brits tend to be much too self-deprecating and rubbish at self-promotion, so this one’s for you, my lovely limeys! Heidi’s podcasts cover a range of topics relating to promoting your business, yourself, and smart networking. [DSSP iTunes link]
  • Look for audio readings of Cory Doctorow‘s books, it’s always good to listen to.
  • Poke around the Podcasts section in the iTunes store and let me know what discoveries you make!

Tip: If you’re an iPhone/iPod user, set it to automatically sync a few “most recent unplayed” podcasts through the options in the “Podcasts” tab in iTunes. That way, you’ll always have fresh stuff to listen to even if you haven’t had the time to pick podcasts manually before travelling.

Pick a book that will help you towards your goals this year

If you’ve picked a themeword for 2009, to help you drive your year forward, browse the web for a list of a few books, ebooks or research papers that will get you closer to your objectives. Or just pick a book to make you think, laugh or cry!

Here are some of mine, to accompany my themeword “Impact” for 2009.

  • Tara Hunt‘s The Whuffie Factor, which will be published soon is on my must-read list
  • Cory Doctorow’s Down & Out in the Magic Kingdom is half holiday fiction, half social critique. I’ve already read it but definitely recommend it.
  • Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational is proving to be a good read on why and how we take certain actions, and how we may think we’re rational, we’re in fact predictably working on emotions or subconscious cues.
  • If you’re a productivity buff, you’ll know this guy, but if you’re new to it, you might enjoy Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Work Week. Or Leo Babauta’s The Power of Less (which will be available soon in the UK)
  • Sitting on my bookshelf for far too long is Charlene Li’s Groundswell is much overdue to be read.

Keep offline reading material handy on your computer

If you’re the type who uses a laptop on the commute in, you may not always have the luxury of an Internet connection so when you find interesting PDF ebooks, stick them in a “To read” folder on your desktop to dig into when you’ve next got some spare time.

Alternatively, if you’re into that dead tree printing stuff,  carry a hard copy if you really must, but use the reverse side of paper you used before, or recycle the paper later by either giving it to someone else you feel would benefit or by chucking it in the recycling bin.

A few great ebooks:

  • Leo Babauta from Zen Habits (same guy as above) recently published an ebook called Thriving on Less, which is rather appropriate in this year where much of our usual habits need to be re-examined to avoid excessive spending and keep us afloat through tough times.
  • 37 Signals’ Getting Real: While I don’t really go for the 37S Koolaid, I must admit it contains some great tips for working with small teams and producing quality apps.
  • Seth Godin’s Flipping the Funnel may be nearly 3 years old but it remains very relevant. Seth has created a number of ebooks over the years, so why not browse his site and download a few?
  • Chris Brogan wrote Using the Social Web to Find Work is highly relevant in this era of job uncertainty. A worthwhile read.
  • Finally, not so much an eBook but rather a Slideshare presentation you can download: Chrystie Corns, Social Marketing Manager at Where.com created a cracking presentation giving insight into what it’s like to tweet, blog and use social networks for a living.

Make a conscious effort to relax

Not interested in any of the above and prefer to snooze or stare out the window on your way into work? That’s fine, in fact, it’s great! Your brain needs that restful time. But let’s do a deal, if you’re going to go for zen, do it well.

In other words, don’t let the train’s delay, the elbow in the ribs, the loud guy on his phone or the snow wrecking havoc piss you off. Take a deep breath and admire the glint of the sun on the buildings. Smile at strangers. Just enjoy the mental time off.

[Image: Birdbath’s Piccadilly Filly (or 50 Things you never knew about London Underground) on Flickr, Creative Commons license]

Phew, time for a breather and a mandarin cocktail

The past few weeks have been pretty hectic at Pepperrell Mansion, and I realise personal updates have been few and far between (as my mom regularly reminds me).

About three weeks ago, we had Tommy, Trisha and little nearly-3-year-old Emma over for a week from deepest darkest Scotland (not really, somewhere between Glasgow and Edinburgh. They even have electricity there.) We went to Colchester Zoo, Andrew’s parents’ house in Kent, and had numerous BBQs to take advantage of the good weather.

Somewhere during that week, I attended Fuel Conference, organised by the fab team at Carsonified where I met a whole new bunch of new people, saw some great friends and got many new ideas I need to start acting upon.

Then last weekend, we popped down to the inlaws’ house to see our adorable new niece Evie, who’s a few weeks old yet kicks like Beckham in his prime.

On Wednesday night, I hastily packed my suitcase for a whirlwind visit to Amsterdam on Thursday and Friday, attending the Mobile Social Networks & UGC Conference with a few work colleagues. And yes, we walked by the red light districts and saw “coffee shops”, and no, it’s not really much to see so don’t get over-excited.

On Friday night, I dropped my suitcase and swapped my stuff around to head off to London early on Saturday morning (by which point Andrew has started greeting me with “hi, do I know you?”) I attended MediaCamp London, an event organised by Chris Hambly at the SAE Institute.

If you’re wondering what happens at BarCamp-style unconferences, Nic Butler aka Loudmouthman (and yes, he lives up to his name) Qik’ed a few videos (including Steve Lamb’s presentation on social media in the entreprise) so have a look. Here are all the photos taken by Chris as well.

Met some great people there, Ben, Vicky, Jof, Judith, Melinda, Nic (and many more, I need to dig out the biz cards we swapped).

SpinVox sponsored the event, and made quite an impression, with many people asking existing users (such as myself) to show off the rather awesome service.

So today has been a braindead, chill out and tidy up spend time with Andrew day. A simple BBQ for dinner, and now, time to watch Juno on the Apple TV while sipping a mandarin and mango cocktail.

Ciao!

SXSWi 2008: "The Future of Corporate Blogs" panel notes

These aren’t the tidiest notes, and I even failed on jotting down exactly who was speaking but there are a few useful points in there… Thanks to Lionel for the insight on how Dell dealt with feedback in the early days.

The Future of Corporate Blogs
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SXSWi 2008: "Creative Collaboration: Designers and Developers working together"

I wasn’t so hot on this panel, found there was a lot of navel-gazing and not enough direction. Also, I don’t know what world these guys live in but do they not also have to contend with marketing, business dev, crazy bosses with wild ideas? There was no discussion about how to integrate the real-life demands into collaborative processes. Nice people, but rubbish panel.

Creative Collaboration: Designers and Developers working together
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SXSWi 2008: "Self-Replicating Awesomeness: The Marketing of No Marketing" panel notes

For this panel, I ditched the laptop and only used pen and paper so my notes are less than clear. In fact, I’m lucky if I can read my own handwriting, but the highlights for me were finally meeting the lovely Tara Hunt, a fellow Canadian expat and inspirational blogger.

My notes might be a bit garbled but sue me, I was too busy listening.

“Self-Replicating Awesomeness: The Marketing of No Marketing” panel notes
Panel: Deborah Schultz, Chris Heuer, Jeremiah Owyang, Tara Hunt, Hugh McLeod, David Parmet
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I'm Véro - a crafty, knitty, spinny gal who enjoys making (and drinking) a cocktail or three. If you've stumbled here, you might enjoy browsing some of my older posts with the tags over to the right or finding out more about me.

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