I’ve been trying to get back into the habit of blogging, but it’s so tricky. I’m not sure how I used to manage to write 3 posts a day; I’m now struggling with only writing one post a day! We’re already 9 days into November, but I thought I should write up a post on the events I’ve been to the past months.

Charity Hack 2011

Back in September I attended Charity Hack, another two day 24 hour hack competition, where developers have to “hack” something together for charities. I had been the past two years and both times had been a lot of fun. Last year me, Cristiano, Dom and Caius even won the first prize  (an awesome trip to San Francisco, I can’t believe that that all happened a year ago). So of course I had to attend this year’s one as well!

Again I teamed up with Cristiano, Dom and Caius to work on a hack: CharitySite. The idea was to create a simple CMS for charities, with which charities could setup their own simple site without having to tweak too much. They could create and manage pages, posts and events, show photos, manage their own mailing list and more. The judges liked what we created and we ended up coming 3rd place, each winning an Xbox and a Kinect!

Truffle Making

Great British Chef’s Truffle Making Workshop

Who knew it was so easy to make truffles? I didn’t. Great British Chefs organized a lovely truffle making workshop at Homemade London with one of their chef’s recipes. I made an awesome batch of Earl Grey (bergamot) flavoured truffles. It’s super easy to make truffles and I am definitely going to use that recipe again!

Ladies Who Code

Ladies Who Code is a new meetup group for, well, ladies who code. I went to their second meetup, and it was great meeting other female developers and sharing our experiences. Girls do tend to be outnumbered by the guys at hackdays and other tech events, and events such as Ladies Who Code is a great way to get more girls along. I spoke a bit about organizing events, going to hackdays and some of the hacks I had done in the past year.

My Little Robot

Unruly Media Tech Night

I’ve been using Unruly Media for a while now (occasionally you might see a post with one of their videos) and a couple of weeks ago they organized a tech night for bloggers. Everyone got to make a cute little “robot” out of toothbrushes, batteries and other random stuff. Mine looked adorable (if I say so myself), but I glued some of the parts wrong, so it couldn’t move that much.

TweetCamp II

TweetCamp is one of those events that I’m not sure I completely get. It’s an unconference about Twitter. Right. Okay. So we’ll sit around and talk about Twitter the entire day… It’s the type of event that does attract social media douchebags and if you go to the wrong sessions, you’ll end up with a really bad experience. I managed to go to the right type of sessions for me though; I went to discussions about using Twitter for events, and how journalism has changed because of Twitter.

Tags: Events, Other

Two years ago I wrote a blog post that started with these words: I’ve kind of sort of recovered a bit from BarCamp London 7 last weekend (part of me is cringing at the sound of that sentence. Seriously, 2009 me? “kind of”, “sort of”, “a bit”?!?). That was the first big event I helped organized. It was manic and stressful and intense, but in the end so so worth it. I guess it’s like running a marathon: you put yourself through hell, but it’s for a good cause and afterwards you can’t help but feel happy you did it.

It’s now two years later, and I haven’t stopped with organizing “big” events. Together with Kevin and Cristiano, we’ve done HackCamp, BarCamp London 8, LinkedGov Data HackCamp and the Big Geek Trip. All two day (or longer) events that require more organizing than you’d realize and lots and lots of running around and shouting delegating to people. Plus a bunch of one-day and evening meetups next to all those. The mother of them all though remains BarCamp London, and this year’s one was as manic and stressful and intense as ever.

So I’ll start this blog post with the same words as I did two years ago: I’ve kind of sort of recovered a bit from BarCamp London 9 last weekend. *cringe*

If you’ve somehow stumbled on this post, but have no idea what a BarCamp is, here’s a short explanation. A BarCamp is a two-day weekend unconference, where all attendees are speakers. Instead of pre-announcing speakers, we have a huge grid of session spaces and time slots, where each attendee specifies what they will be talking about. Sessions can be about anything: most attendees will be from the web community, so many talks will be quite “webby”, but I’ve seen a good deal of non-webby stuff to (some of which have been the most interesting sessions I’ve been to). Saturday night the venue remains open, with attendees staying awake through most of the night talking and playing games.

Even though a BarCamp is an unconference, there still needs to be a lot arranged. The unconferenc-ey bit comes from there being no pre-announced speakers; everything else though still needs to be managed. With BarCamp London that comes down to three major elements: venue, sponsors and food/drink.

With the venue we were lucky again this year: City University were happy to host us for a second time. Typically you have to pay to use their venue, but we’ve worked closely with City University to get students involved and interested, and for them BarCamp is very much a “free learning” event where attendees are willing to learn and share what they know with others. For them it’s an internal as well as an external event, so they’ve been able to cover a lot of the costs that we haven’t had to (like security, cleaners, etc). It’s amazing to have such a great venue on board, who understand what BarCamp exactly is about.

BarCamp is completely free to attend, so we need sponsors to cover all the food and drinks that are consumed during the weekend. I wasn’t that involved with finding sponsors this year, mainly because I was still busy working on my dissertation. It most of the time takes 4-6 weeks to get the sponsoring through with companies, so you’ll need to be looking for sponsors at least 4-6 weeks before the event. I tried emailing some companies 2 weeks before the event, but by then it was already too late: most companies aren’t interested any more in sponsoring that close to the date. We had great sponsors this year though (check out the sponsor page); without them BarCamp London wouldn’t be possible.

Barcamp London 9 Day 2 Closing

The last element that needs to be arranged is food and drink. Easy, right? Just order some food and be done with it. Well, no. At BarCamp we do lunch, dinner and midnight snack on Saturday, and breakfast and lunch on the Sunday. Besides that we provide a ton of candy, crisps and drinks during the event. For the main meals, it’s always tricky to find a good deal: we’d love to give attendees something awesome for each meal, but we’re pretty restricted by our budget. Next to that, we try to predict the number of attendees that show up and order the amount of food accordingly, but that involves quite a lot of hassle.

For me, BarCamp preparations started two weeks ago. A couple events ago, Kevin had created our own check-in system, called Retain, where we could track attendee responses and turnout. I’ve been heading registration for most past events though, and realized we could do with some added features. So two weekends ago at the Autumn Hackathon, I mainly spent my time working on that. That weekend I was also trying to arrange a proper breakfast and lunch for the Sunday (hot bacon!) with a pub that shall not be named, but after four days of emailing back and forth with them, they decided they couldn’t do it. Shame.

Proper preparations started on the Thursday and Friday before BarCamp. Badges need to be printed, laminated and punched. Rooms need to be photographed (so we could put them back as they were), rearranged and checked. Posters with room names and directions to those rooms need to be hung up (and figure out where we need to hang those up). Food and drinks need to be bought, driven back to the venue and dragged into a crew room. Registration desk and help desk need to be set up. Swag needs to be sorted out and put out somewhere. Halloween decorations needed to be put up. There was a ton of stuff to do and not a lot of time to do it in.


Now I should explain a bit more about Retain. We’ve got more than 1,000 people signed up to the BarCamp London mailing list. Most BarCamps London venues are only allowed 200-300 attendees. That means: a lot of disappointed people who don’t get a ticket. And yet… even with past BarCamps there will still be people who don’t cancel their ticket and then don’t show up. It costs about £30 for the food we buy per attendee, so if you don’t show up that’s £30 down the drain. If 50 people don’t show up, that’s £1500 down the drain…

So: Retain. For the past couple of events, five days before the BarCamp we’ll send out an email asking you to confirm whether or not you’re coming or if you’re cancelling your ticket. If people confirmed their ticket, we definitely knew you were coming. If you cancelled your ticket, we definitely knew you weren’t coming (and could give that ticket away to someone on the waiting list). If you didn’t confirm or cancel your ticket, we gave you a 50% chance of actually showing up and ordered the amount of food accordingly. Then on the day itself we could see in Retain who had confirmed and who hadn’t, and who had shown up and who hadn’t. It made ordering food a bit more exact.

For the past events this system has really worked well. And we’ve gotten food orders exactly right. This time around though… of the 250 people who had a ticket, 240 of them confirmed 5 days beforehand that they would come along but 50 of those did not show up. 50 people. It could have been £1500 that we wasted. Luckily it was a bit less than that, as because the pub food for Sunday had fallen through, we were forced to buy food on the Sunday itself (meaning we could get those numbers at least right). Still the food on Saturday was ordered for 250 people, and we wasted money and food, because people didn’t bother to show up. How much effort is it to cancel your ticket? Some people did cancel their ticket on Saturday morning, but by then it’s too late; the food has already been ordered.

Most of my Saturday morning I was heading registration, scanning attendees in and keeping track how many people we had in the building. Each attendee badge has a barcode on it, and with laptop + barcode scanners we can check people in and out. The university needs to know exactly how many people are in the building, so we needed to scan everyone that goes in and out. I managed to go to 1 talk that morning, before having to help out with lunch setup.

Barcamp London 9

By Saturday afternoon we realized we were “missing” 50 people, and Kevin and me discussed what we could do to help that. We first sent out text messages to the No Shows whose mobile numbers we had, and got some replies (some with family emergencies, some who said they show up tomorrow). It didn’t seem most of those would still show up though, so we also released extra tickets to the waiting list. Only 3 people responded.

The rest of Saturday afternoon was reasonably quiet, up until dinner. The pies we had ordered from Square Pie arrived half an hour early, and were already a bit on the cold side, because the driver couldn’t find the place. Argh! We quickly needed to set up dinner to make sure the pies were in the hands of attendees as quick as possible. Turned out though that all the boxes were mixed up. There were 7 types of pies in total plus jacket potatoes for vegans and dairy free people, but everything was through each other. We quickly needed to sort everything in the right piles, so that serving them wouldn’t be complete chaos (and that the vegetarians and vegans ended up with the right stuff).

What I didn’t realize was that at the same time, a delivery guy showed up with the ice we had ordered… but he was 2 hours early. Kevin dealt with that, while me and 10 or so volunteers were dealing with the dinner. Somehow though two deliveries were screwed up, causing only more problems on our end.

Later that Saturday evening Kevin wasn’t feeling well, so we forced him to go to sleep. It didn’t help, about an hour or so later we found him in the food room counting stuff. We again told him to go sleep, and I would take over and arrange all the evening stuff. Not much to be done, I thought… I was wrong.

Absinthe Session at Barcamp 9

At about 12, we needed to order pizzas for the remaining attendees. I did a quick head count to see who hadn’t gone to sleep yet, and realized our system was off by about 30 people. Oops. We needed to know exactly who has in the building in case of an emergency. First, I ended up running back to where the pizzas were ordered to lower the amount we were ordering. Then I had to do a second proper head count. This meant asking every single attendee if I could see their badge and re-register them. Including the people who had gone to sleep already. We kind of forgot to specify a designated sleeping area, so somehow attendees managed to go to sleep in every single session room. I ended up having to wake up people and ask if I could see their badge. Not an experience I’d like to go through again.

By then the pizzas were about to be delivered and as I was the only one available with a Geeks of London debit card, I had to wait outside in the cold with a couple of other volunteers, waiting for the delivery guy to show up. I realized at that moment that was first time that day I had been outside; I had stayed for over 16 hours straight in that building. Of course the debit card machine wasn’t working properly, and we got charged an extra £10. The manager of that Dominos was supposed to call us back that night to make sure we got the money back, but I think that still hasn’t happened.

After that I needed to merge the night head count I had just done into our system. It turned out that attendees had been leaving with their badges, not bothering to be scanned out and messing up our system completely. Of course, Retain didn’t show a list of attendees currently in the building (I forgot to add that bit), so I needed to manually go through all attendees and cross-check their presence with the 2nd list. Not something you want to do at 1 in the morning.

Then it was time for the candy round! I think that might be one of my favourite bits of BarCamp. Sneaking in to the Werewolf games and giving out chocolate and candy to “sleeping” Villagers. Especially handing out Kinder Surprise Eggs is so much fun; the eyes of attendees just light up and you realize some people haven’t had them since they were kids.

Finally at about 2:30, Cristiano forced me to go to bed. I found a nice couch, but it wasn’t exactly the quietest of places, plus my mind was still reeling, wondering if I had done everything right and if I hadn’t forgotten anything. I think I finally fell asleep at 3:00.

Barcamp London 9

Three and a half hours later, at 6:30, Cristiano woke me. His turn to sleep. After a quick shower, I headed back to the main area to see what needed to be done. The first thing we needed to sort out was breakfast: how many people were there still in the building and required breakfast. After that head count last night not much had changed, so we had a pretty accurate number. Kevin and some other volunteers went out to get breakfast, while I arranged for the registration desk to be set up again.

Around then I found out that my laptop was acting up. Seriously? Right when registration was about to start again? I managed to get my hands on another laptop, and spent the morning trying to figure out what the hell was wrong with it (a fresh install seems to have fixed it).

Sunday lunch was a little bit stressful. We somehow managed to get the numbers wrong again and didn’t buy enough lunch. Crew was asked not to eat, so that all attendees at least would have gotten something. It’s so tricky getting this number right though. One time you buy too little, the next you buy too much. How the hell are you supposed to get this spot on? Crew ended up getting food later though, so it wasn’t too bad.

Before I knew it, we had the closing talk! It’s an awesome feeling, seeing all those attendees and knowing (well, hoping) they had a great time. After that, it was clean up and break down time. We had about an hour to pack everything up and out of the building. As I said before, we had a lot of “food” (mainly cans of drinks and candy) left over because of no shows, and needed to pack that all up and bring that home. It took a good hour to break everything down. We ended up with two cabs of stuff that needed to be brought home: one cab to Kevin’s with all the stationary, hardware, etc, and one cab to mine and Cristiano’s with all the food leftovers.

And that was it. That was yet another BarCamp we had organized.

Barcamp London 9 Day 2 Closing

There are a couple of things I am regretting. I only managed to go to 3 talks. Looking at the grid now makes me annoyed about how many interesting things I missed! This time I actually checked the grid a couple of times, but kept forgetting which talks I wanted to go to and got distracted by doing other stuff. Next time around I really need to come up with a way that the main members of crew get to see the talks they want (and get poked by other crew to make them go to those talks).

Besides that I don’t think there’s a proper photo of me during the entire BarCamp. There are a couple where I’m sort of in it, but none with really me as a focus. I’m kind of disappointed with that, especially cause I had full on witch makeup and hat on for Halloween!

Sometimes I wonder why I put myself through it all. Most people seem not to realize how much time and effort we put in to these events, and we always get flak for doing something or other “wrong”. It’s stressful. And super intense. And afterwards I tend to feel sad and under-appreciated. But I don’t think I could ever stop organizing events now. Even now, when I should be “recovering” from the previous BarCamp, I kind of just want to jump right back in and organize the next big thing. Yeah, I might be a big crazy…

A couple of things before I wrap this up. If you’ve got a ticket to an event and can’t make it, please, please, cancel. This mentality of it being okay not to cancel has somehow got to change. It’s one of the worst issues event organizers have to deal with and this has got to change.

Finally, I want to thank everyone involved with this BarCamp. Thanks to City University and Kate for hosting us yet again. Thanks to the awesome building staff (security guys, tech/AV staff and cleaners) who had to deal with this weird bunch of crazy people. Thanks to all the lovely sponsors for enabling us in feeding our attendees. Thanks to all the volunteers who helped out the entire weekend and did anything we asked them to.

Thanks to Kevin and Cristiano and the other organizers for making this another fun, even though it is stressful, experience.

And thank you to everyone who attended and participated. Without you BarCamps wouldn’t be BarCamps.

If you’re interested in hosting, sponsoring or helping to organise future BarCamps, you can contact me at melinda@missgeeky.com.

It’s that time of the year when events season kicks into full gear. The past two weekends I’ve been at two hackdays, and the upcoming ones will be just as busy. I think I’ve got something planned for every weekend up until November! More about those upcoming events in a later post.

Last week I attended Over The Air, a free two day mobile developer conference and 24 hour hack competition, where developers have to “hack” something together. It’s the fourth year the event has been held and each year it’s been great. I’ve been to all the previous three years, sometimes attending the more conferency side of the event, other times actually hacking (and maybe creating rather silly videos). This year there was a change of venue, with the entire event being held at Bletchley Park.

Photo by ahousley

Now, I hadn’t really heard of Bletchley Park before moving to the UK and it’s only recently that I’ve looked into its history. It’s pretty freaking amazing. In short: Bletchley Park was the base of major codebreaking during World War II and was responsible for decrypting the German’s ciphers and codes. Of the 12000 people stationed there during the war over 80% of them were women… it’s most probably the place where a girl like me would have ended up during the war.

So to be there for two days, attending programming talks, learning from each other and working on our own little projects… the atmosphere couldn’t be more perfect. You just couldn’t help but wonder that 60 odd years ago a similar group was gathered together, attending programming talks, learning from each other and working on their own little projects. Although I bet they didn’t complain about the wifi.

As with most hack weekends, Over The Air is an overnight event. Most of the time I just show up with my sleeping bag and mat, and find some quiet corner or beanbag to sleep in. This time around a bunch of us thought this would be the perfect place to actually set up tents and camp outside. So we did. For me, it was my first ever time camping! Surprisingly, I didn’t suck at setting up a tent (although, come to think about it, I shouldn’t have expected me sucking at that, I am awesome at actually reading the freaking manual).

For most of the Friday I spent the day outside in a beanbag, basking in the sun and enjoying the only bit of proper summer I’ve experienced this, well, summer. And working on my own little project, of course (but more about that later). I ended up only attending one talk, but that seems to be my recurring problem at Over The Air; it always turns into a choice between “hacking” and “watching presentations”. Plus, it was also a choice between “sit in a warm room filled with sweaty geeks” or “bask in the sun”. The sun won.

Over The Air 2011
Photo by Tim Whalley

Friday evening brought lovely lasagna and pizza, which were hungrily nommed. After dinner were some Ignite talks; presentations of 5 minutes, 20 slides, 15 seconds per slide. I especially enjoyed Alistair’s talk about his Metro Simulator, and Terence’s talk about QRpedia, QR codes that link to Wikipedia (and can be used in museums and other interesting places). The rest of the evening I spent working on my hack, until I became too tired and needed to sleep.

Saturday morning: more hacking. Until 10:30 that is, when a tour around Bletchley Park started. It was great hearing about the history of the place, and seeing all the code-breaking machines they rebuilt. I loved that the tour guide at a certain moment went “Most of the time at this point in my story, people’s eyes glaze over. But not with you lot!”. I really want to go back again and explore the place more fully (sidenote: Bletchley Park was just awarded a £4.6m grant to restore the place. Awesome, awesome news. I can’t wait to see what they’ll do with it).

Saturday afternoon the hacking ended, and those that wanted to submitted their hack for the presentations. Each team then got 90 seconds to present what they created. Now I guess I should explain what I worked on: MuDo’s! I’ve been living in London for almost 5 years now, and while I’ve been to most of the big well-known museums, there are tons of smaller ones I keep forgetting to go to, and museums I didn’t even know existed. So my idea was to create a To-Do-list/check-list for museums: you login with you Twitter account, select which museums you want on your to-do list, and then can share it with your friends. And you can see what your friends have on their check list. I’m still working on it, but I want to make it live as soon as I can. I know it’s something I’d like to use, and I’ve had people come up to me after the presentations that they’d like to use it too 🙂


So I presented my hack during the presentations and (as usual) I thought I did horrible with the presentation (forgetting parts of what I wanted to say), but most people seemed to like it. There were about 25-30 hacks (I think, I don’t remember exactly) with some really cool ideas. I loved QuickeR, which used a video of a series of QR codes to transfer data. For an entire list of entries, check out the Over The Air blog. Much to my surprise I ended up winning a prize! I wasn’t really expecting to, cause my hack didn’t really fit in any of their categories. My hack won Most Cultural Hack, and I got 3 iOS Programming books. Yay! I wanted to get into iPhone/iPad development, so these books are a perfect place to start.

I know it’s a free event with tons of stuff to be arranged (and I loved the event), but I just wanted to comment on some things that could have gone better. The wifi is an obvious place to start: hackdays depend on wifi a lot. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it’s super tricky to create something without internet access. Even if you’re working on something not even web related, there will be stuff you’ll want to look up online. For most of the Friday the wifi at Over The Air wasn’t working and the event really suffered from it. There were people who abandoned their hacks because of the lack of wifi, and those who didn’t had to struggle through it.

I know the organizers did their best to get the wifi working. And eventually it did. On some locations. And that brings me to my second point: there wasn’t a real space setup as the “hacking” area. There was a small bit in the mansion, but by the time I got there all spots were taken. All other rooms in the mansion were being used for talks during the day. Then there was a big marquee outside, but that was constantly being set up and broken down for different things (lunch, dinner, talks, etc). It would have been nice to have one area where you could stay and work.

Overall I really loved Over The Air this year. The vibe of Bletchley Park was awesome, the camping outside was a lot of fun, and the general atmosphere was just great. Good hackdays always leave me feeling more inspired and more knowledgable. Kudos to the organising team of Daniel AppelquistMatthew Cashmore and Margaret Gold for putting this together again!

Tags: Events, Other


September 27th, 2011

It’s been a long time coming, but I’ve finally done it. I’m finally done with my master’s. Yay!

I moved to London 4.5 years ago for a one year exchange at Imperial with the idea to finish my master’s within that year. Things didn’t exactly go according to plan… with me getting distracted by this blog, organizing events and a ton of other stuff. Part of me regrets not having finished sooner, yet on the other hand if I had finished sooner, I don’t think I would have gotten the opportunities to some of the cool things I’ve managed to do these past four years. This year though I realized I needed to finish what I started and put everything else on hold: no more blogging, no more event organizing, no more distractions. And it worked.

So for the past couple of months I’ve been focusing on my research: facial expression recognition for posed versus spontaneous smiles, creating parts of a system that can recognize between a “fake” and a “real” smile. The psychology research about facial expressions is so interesting, and it’s amazing how much our brains are capable of.


Last Thursday I had my final presentation and defence. I wasn’t that nervous for the presentation; I’ve been to enough BarCamps by now, that I don’t get too stressed anymore presenting in front of strangers. But the defence… eek! It was a one-on-one with my graduation committee where they drilled me on all aspects of my research. Some questions were easy-ish, others were tough. Super tough.

In the end though I passed. I got a 7 for the final project (not completely sure what the UK equivalent would be, a B, I think?) and I’m happy with it. The perfectionist in me wishes I got higher, but I’m mainly glad I’ve finally finished. I can’t call myself a Master of Science yet (or as my sister said: Master of Computers), not until I’ve actually had my graduation ceremony.

So: YAY! Soon I’ll be a Master of Science! 🙂

On a less positive note: I left a glass of water next to my MacBook on Friday night, and woke up to discover one of the cats had accidentally knocked it over… all over my laptop. I brought it into the Apple store yesterday, and the logic board needs to be replaced. Damage: £300. Ouch. Guess I should start looking for a job…

It’s My Birthday!

February 23rd, 2011

Yay, it’s my birthday today! And it’s a bit of a geeky one, I’m turning 3^3. I’m not sure why but I still get stupidly excited for my birthday.

I really wanted a simple birthday this year. My plan originally was to got out for sushi tonight with a Keynoir voucher from last week, but that got cancelled yesterday (it was a £30 voucher for £75 worth of food, but apparently the restaurant was being evil, so Keynoir refunded the voucher). So instead I thought I’d take it nice and easy today: sleep in, then watch TV and movies all day.

Yeah, no such luck. Today of all days, they’ve decided to work on our main building entrance, stripping the paint, smoothing the walls and other annoying things that make too much sound. Our apartment is next to the main building entrance, and our bedroom is adjacent to the wall and foor they’re working on. So I got woken up this morning by the lovely sounds of drills and whatever those machine are called that they’re using. It’s been going on since at least 10am and they still haven’t stopped.

To make matters worse, I’m waiting for a couple of things to be delivered today, so it’s not as if I can flee the house. Plus, I only just discovered that the dust and rubble of whatever is is they’re doing has been trickling under our front door into our hallway, leaving everything dusty and messy. <sarcasm> Yay, just what I needed today!</sarcasm>

Sorry for complaining, but I just wanted some peace and quiet today! Ah well, they should be gone by tonight.

Thanks to all my readers for sticking with me the past 4 years. And thanks to everyone who wished me a happy birthday (be it in real life, Twitter or Facebook)! I’ve got two giveaways at the moment for a copy of the zombie tale Feed from Mira Grant and a ticket to the London Funding Conference, and there’s still time to enter both. Plus I’ve got a couple more exciting giveaways coming up, so stay tuned!

Happy Birthday, Casey & Dusty!

February 21st, 2011

It’s my cats’ 3rd birthday today! We only got them last August, so this is our first birthday with them. They’re adorable and can be super cute, yet also very annoying. Lately they have the tendency to knock stuff off tables/shelves/etc whenever they’re hungry, just to get our attention. But they’ve also started curling up with me at night, and have started to even sit on my lap!

Here are some photos of my super cute cats, Casey and Dusty (Casey is the one with a lot of white, Dusty only has a little bit of white at his throat):

Ribbon Omnomnom

Dusty Wants To Be A Bunny

Dusty Wants To Be A Bunny

Casey In The Sink

I Am Cute and Fluffy


Lazy Dusty

Lazy Dusty

Tags: Other

Back In London

November 4th, 2010

So… yeah, my cunning plan of blogging more while in San Francisco didn’t really pan out. I’d like to blame it on the stupid sucky wifi (which really was stupid and sucky), but it was really me just being too lazy and attempting to enjoy San Francisco. I haven’t replied to most of my emails or done any work since the Monday I left; it’s actually felt like a proper vacation!

Me in San Francisco

San Francisco though was an interesting experience. Somehow with how some people described the US, I always imagined I’d have the same reaction to it as I had with London: that after a couple of days I could imagine moving and living there (I had the same with Paris and Rome actually, but the language thing has always stopped me from actually really wanting to do that move). But that didn’t happen. While it’s great to visit, both San Francisco and Silicon Valley don’t feel like something for me. During the trip I really realized how much I love living here in London.

So: happy I finally went on holiday for the first time in 4 years! But also happy to be back home!

In San Francisco!

October 26th, 2010

It’s 9am here and I’m enjoying some nice breakfast at the Moscone center in San Francisco. All ready for the PayPal X Conference!

PayPal X Developer Conference

We woke up yesterday morning at 6am London time, way too early for me, especially cause I’d been going to bed at 4am most of the previous days, staying up to play Batman: Arkham Asylum (which I managed to finish, although I was only playing on easy mode). Anyhow we got to the airport at 8, with time to spare for checking in and some nice English breakfast. At 10 we were finally allowed to board the plane! I managed to move my seat, so that I could sit next to Cristiano on the flight.

The flight went great! I slept for half of it or so, and spent the other half finally playing Myst. I never played it before, and being stuck in a plane without any internet connection to ‘cheat’ is the best way to play it! I think I might have given up on some of the puzzles waaay earlier, but here I actually figured out most of the stuff myself. We arrived 13:30 in San Francisco (21:30 in London), half an hour earlier than expected!

Our hotel is pretty awesome; we’re at the Parc 55 hotel in a 23rd floor room. The view is gorgeous, we can’t see the bridge, but it still looks amazing.

We ended our day with dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. I had gumbo for the first time (nice and spicy!), but ate too much to actually have some cheesecake 🙁 I’ll definitely need to come back this week to try some out!

So that was pretty much my first day. I’ll try to update some more the next few days, although I don’t have a great connection in the hotel. Still can’t really believe it, but I’m in San Francisco!!!!!

Tags: Other

Me and The Cats

August 24th, 2010

I’ve been back in London now for a couple of days; it’s so good to be back! I was 3.5 weeks in the Netherlands and, while it was good to see family again, I was glad to come back home. Plus I had two new roommates to meet: our two newly adopted cats, Casey and Dusty!

I haven’t blogged much since I’ve been back, mainly because of these two. They’re so cute! Here’s a pic of me and Dusty:

Melinda loves cats!

Dusty is the more quiet one of the two, but likes to be held (and cuddled). He’s a bit on the skinny side, so we’re making sure he gets enough food. He’s got a little square bit of white near his neck, but is completely red for the rest:



Casey is clearly the more dominant one of the two, but can be really sweet too. He’s got white paws and a huge piece of white fur around his neck.



Neither of them will settle on your lap, and I’m still wondering if I can turn them into proper lap cats. They will come and sit next to you though, and both of them are completely mushy and let you do anything to them. I’m still trying to get the hang of everything, but it’s so much fun getting to know these two.

I’m in the Netherlands for the next 3 weeks (reason behind the lack of posts here the past week) cat and house sitting while my mum’s on holiday in Indonesia. I was only gone for 2 days, when Cristiano tweeted “Is alone as @mseckington is in NL for 3.5 weeks. Realising I more and more want a cat.” And someone responded with 2 cats that needed a new home…

So we now have adopted 2 adorable brothers! Meet Casey:

Meet the Cats

And meet Dusty:

Meet the Cats

Casey is apparently settling in fine (as the below photo shows), while Dusty is still a little bit shy and quiet.

Meet the Cats

I can’t wait to meet these cats in 3 weeks time, although I love spending time now cat sitting Tasha, who you’ve seen in previous posts. Expect more photos soon!