Blogging Conferences Life

Reasons to be Appy – All Booked

Today I booked up my train ticket and hotel reservation for my first ever Tech conference, Reasons To Be Appy — which by the way is a name that I cannot decide if its brilliant…or not?

It started when Phil Cross, Academic Audience Manager at Microsoft, posted in the Microsoft UK Students Developer group asking if anyone wanted some free tickets, in return he asked

For you to blog about the event, post stuff on your facebook page, the UK Student page, we will link to your blog and for you use relevant #tags to tweet about it. Maybe a target of a couple of tweets per session? Basically so the organisers and MS can see you being active!

This seemed like a good deal and I emailed Phil asking if I could go, and he replied saying I could!

In particular I’m looking forward to a talk by Remy Sharp — who’s work helped me get into web development, especially through his role as curator on

Also of interest to me are talks by Christian Heilmann, who works at Mozilla and Andrew Spooner who works at Microsoft, most recently on “applications for Windows 8 and Windows Phone and explorations into Natural User Interfaces.” — all of which sounds interesting.

You can see a full list of sessions at the events website.

I shall keep this blog updated, possibly including a live blogging of some sessions, and as mentioned in the brief I will also be tweeting and posting on the Microsoft UK Students Facebook page.



New Years Eve on Westminster Bridge

I think the above image sums up a great new years eve night in London! Yesterday the lovely Jess and I headed up to London for a day out followed by the amazing London New Years Eve Fireworks show. This years event was particularly special because its this year that London will be playing host to the Olympic Games.

During the day we visited Covent Garden and Camden Town and stocked up on supplies for the evening. After our dinner at Nandos near London Bridge Jess and I attempted to meet her friend Rachel, but this was somewhat difficult due to sheer scale of the event with literally millions of people in and around the city centre, It was hindered further by the multiple road and bridge closures which had to be made by P0lice for crowd control.

After giving up on the search and looking at several “Designated Viewing Areas” including behind The London Eye we found our way on to Westminster Bridge. This was arguably the best place to be in London as we had great views not only of the Thames and the London eye, but the “Big Ben” Clock tower on the Houses of Parliament as well. This year was the first time fireworks had ever been fired from the clock tower itself and it was incredibly impressive.

The Fireworks Kicked off as soon as Big Ben struck 12:00 Midnight and continued for a full twelve minutes with probably thousands of fireworks. The whole event lasted 5 hours, we found our place on Westminster Bridge around 10pm and only got back to our hotel at 3 due to the, understandably, overwhelmed public transport system, but we had a great time regardless and I’d definitely recommend that everyone does it at least once!

Below you can see more pictures of our outing including pictures of Jess and I trying on a Policeman’s helmet!


Olympic Games “Games Maker” Interview

Today was an long, yet exciting day. It could almost have ended in disaster several times, but in the end I felt it was a massive success.

It all started at 9:00 am with me getting up and dressed in my suit (got to look professional after all!) about 20 minutes later I was on the bus heading to the Hull Paragon Interchange Train Station for my 10:30 Hull Trains train to London Kings Cross.

Unfortunately I’m currently in the middle of a long spell of… issues with train companies and today was no different. Upon arriving at the interchange I was told it was shut for an indeterminate amount of time due to a gas leak, I was a bit annoyed by this but I took the opportunity for a Burger King break, almost as soon as I’d finished my burger the train station had re-opened and my train left only 25 minutes late, so alls well that ends well!

The train journey was uneventful, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that First Hull Trains offer free wi-fi for the duration of a journey — and I thought East Coasts offer of 15 minutes for free was good!

To get to ExCel, where the interview was taking place, I had to take 3 more trains, The Northern Line Tube from Kings Cross to Bank, a Driverless Docklands Light Railway train from Bank to Canning Tow, and another DLR train from Canning Town to Custom House for ExCel.

The feature image of this Blog Post is the Western Entrance to ExCel but it doesn’t quite show you just how massive the building is — it took me about 25 minutes to walk from the west end to the east end! After doing this and looking around for a bit I turned up to the Olympic Committee section of the ExCel building, still an hour early. Fortunately I was seen an hour early.

Whilst waiting around for my interview I was somewhat perplexed by the sheer amount of McDonalds advertising for what is supposed to be an event which encourages exercise and living well (and some people would argue fast food was counter-active to this). The “informal interview process” is outlined in the below picture:

The Structure of the Interview Process
The Structure of the Interview Process


  1. You check in by providing your name and a form of ID. You then get your picture taken for any further Olympic ID
  2. You are then held in the “Explore” area where you can read some information on the running of the Olympics and view some more fast food ads before being given a talk about possible jobs roles, ranging from camera operator to web design
  3. Once the interview group before you has finished you then go to the “Cinema” to watch some adverts telling you how Cadbury is the treat sponsor of the Olympic games (again, counter productive some would argue) before being given interview advice by some comedians and dames.
  4.  You have your interview where they ask questions about why you feel you would make a good volunteer.

I felt the whole process felt well and the interviewer said that it was “Great to see someone with ambition, who is so well spoken” and that they had “Enjoyed interviewing” me 🙂 So that can’t be bad.

After the interview I had to wait around for a few hours so I treated myself to a Nandos and a walk around London, including having a look at the brand new Skyscraper, the Shard before catching my train home. A great day all round, even if around 9 hours of it was spent on Public Transport. Below are some more images which I took throughout the day:


Houses of Parliament Tour

Today was great fun! I Started off in Cottingham and ended up at home via a great day out in London. My day started off with a rush to Hull Paragon Interchange Railway Station at which I found my debit card didn’t want to work in any of the ticket collection machines, worrying. After ten or so frantic minutes I eventually found a machine which would take my card and give me the tickets I’d paid for.

The Journey down to London was surprisingly painless having no changes and being on time, I even managed to do some work on my Windows Phone 7 Version of Evil Squash. I met Jess at kings cross and we rode the underground to Westminster where I met my family for the tour. It took around 90 minutes and was absolutely fascinating, some of the topics our expert guide informed us on were

  • How parliament works
  • The History of Parliament
  • The Role of the Monarchy and Parliament
  • Events that take place, including the opening of parliament
My Visitor Pass for Parliament
My Visitor Pass for Parliament

Unfortunately for obvious reasons the whole of the houses of parliament is a no photography zone, so you’ll have to book a tour for yourself to see all the majestic pictures, tapestries and the beautiful building in general — You can do this by emailing your local MP which for people in Dunstable  is Andrew Seleous.

After the houses of Parliament my dad treated myself, the rest of the family and Jess to a meal at TGI Fridays, which was great! After this the family returned home and Jess and I went to Tuffnell park for a DJ set by Subset at The Hideaway Bar, not a huge turnout but a great night none the less — though unfortunately cut short by the last tube to Euston at 12:10.

Thats all for now,