Sunday, 7 October 2012

SyncNorwich at Aviva October 2012 Review

On Thursday 4th October we show cased SyncNorwich at Aviva. The intention was to stimulate interest in SyncNorwich from Aviva employees and get more of them along to meetups. Every month the Solution Design and Service Design teams at Aviva General Insurance have an all afternoon meeting. This is where they discuss matters pertinent to the department and often have external speakers. Today it was SyncNorwich’s turn.

One of SyncNorwich’s most popular meetup formats is lightning talks. Lightning talks are multiple presentations limited to five minutes for each speaker. The lightning talks that SyncNorwich do are in the style of ignite talks where each speaker's slides change automatically every 15 seconds. After each round of talks there is an opportunity to ask questions to all of the speakers.

SyncNorwich’s official photographer, James Neale from James Neale Photography was also on hand taking photographs.

The meeting started off with an introduction to SyncNorwich from Juliana Meyer, who explained how SyncNorwich was formed and described our past and future meetings. This was not done in the format of lightning talks! Juliana was followed by a handful of the speakers from SyncNorwich’s first lightning talk meetup back in August:

Agile recruiting - Jim Marshal @Ifftner
ShopOfMe - Travis Lee Street @TravisLeeStreet
3sixty: Bootstrapping lessons learnt - Paul Russell @paulrussell
Why Norwich needs a FabLab - Rob Holden-Pratt @robhp
Responsive Design - Brad Koehler @KoehlerBear
Scratch’ing software on the Raspberry Pi Jonny Butcher

The event was kindly reviewed for us by senior Aviva Solutions Architect, Julian Fulcher:

The General Insurance application designers at Insurance company Aviva’s headquarters in Norwich were treated to a series of ‘Lightning Talks’ on the 4th October 2012. Presenters of these ‘Lightning Talks’ were allowed a few minutes using a slide show where the slides change at a set (and short) frequency.
These ‘Lightning Talks’ were some of the talks previously given at an exciting new group called SyncNorwich which is (as the name implies!)  based in Norwich. This group is an amalgamation of 3 former groups: one for startups, one for those interested in Agile methodologies and one that focused on coding.
Six entertaining and inspirational talks were given following an introduction by one of the founders of SyncNorwich, Juliana Mayer.
The first talk was by Jim Marshall who outlined in a very witty style  how he uses Agile concepts to run his recruiting agency. Those of us who promote the agile way of working could readily see the cross-over between the concepts outlined in the ‘Agile manifesto’ and the way Jim was organising his approach to recruiting.
The second talk was by Travis Lee Street who told us about his startup company that has created an application that will advise users what clothes they should buy. I am sure that is an application that all of us blokes in IT ought to use!! He strongly encouraged us to try his application out free from the Google Chrome Store.
The third talk was by Paul Russell, a Lead Designer working at Aviva through Smart421. He described his experiences of ‘bootstrappling’ – starting a business without external help or capital, and,  in his case,  whilst holding down a demanding full time job and being a husband and father. He outlined ways to try to maintain a reasonable work / life balance whilst ‘bootstrapping’. Once again, he was eager for everyone to review his application that facilitates ‘360’ feedback reviews
The fourth talk was by Rob Halden Pratt who is attempting to set up a ‘Fab Lab’ in Norwich. This is a concept that has worked in other places where a venue is established where people can go to use various pieces of kit, collaborate and share ideas. He was eager to contact anyone who is interested in helping him realise his dream.
The fifth talk was by Brad Koehler who is part of a small company that writes applications that he calls ‘responsive’ that are device independent. These applications know what type of device they are running on and adjust accordingly.
Last but certainly not least, we had a talk by a young lad of 15 who attends a local high school. He outlined his time doing work experience when he had to build and write a game  on a ‘Raspbeerry Pi’, a cheap credit card sized device that acts as a PC. He went from knowing little about how computers work to thinking about a career in IT. Good luck to him!

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